A Letter to an Atheist – PART I: Do you “believe” in Atheism?

The following piece is in response to a very interesting article by Professor Mano Singham which appeared in his web journal some time back. The link for the original post is: http://blog.case.edu/singham/2007/03/27/scientific_proof_of_gods_nonexistence.

I have segmented my response into two parts for the purpose of easy reading. In this first part, I wish to bring to the attention of the reader, the logical improbability of the final conclusion an atheist would most likely reach. At this juncture, I have no qualms about the “belief” that there is no God. However, the purpose of this post is to challenge the “conclusion based on scientific analysis” that there is no god.

“The anthill is the ant’s world, the open savanna its universe”

Human beings have since time immemorial attempted to explain life and the position we occupy in the universe. However, it is seldom that one begins to appreciate the inescapable truth that human beings like all other life forms on Earth, are inherently limited to what they are able to perceive. When an individual observes his environment and thereupon arrive at certain conclusions, such observations and conclusions are inherently restricted in accuracy to the ability of such an individual to perceive his environment and corroborate his findings with prior knowledge or values.

Now the question arises as to how one can be certain that an atheist’s conclusions on religion are not infallible. The answer lies in the concept of “truth derived from probability” or what some may call “relative truth”.

This is where it gets interesting…

If one is to accept the theory of evolution for instance, human beings are still in the process of evolving, and therefore are “less evolved” than the stage of evolution that lies ahead. If one is to accept the concurrent theory of natural selection, then our species would give way to a more sophisticated and biologically successful species at some point in the future. All these widely accepted scientific “truths” seem to point in one direction: the relative insignificance of humankind in comparison to the deep and infinite bounds of the universe. It is therefore likely that human perception is relatively flawed. There is no way of proving this, but then again, the probabilities of thinking otherwise seem logically puerile, unless you believe the universe centers on us human beings. The relative concept of truth would therefore suggest that in terms of scientific theory (and by “theory” I mean scientific speculations which are incapable of being proven beyond doubt) we are more likely wrong, than right.

Atheism would therefore require certain presumptions to be first accepted before it can claim logical superiority over any belief system. In fact atheism itself is more likely a belief system than, as some atheists would insist, an empirical conclusion.

Thus it is my opinion that Atheism, which is allegedly founded on scientific and logical reasoning, cannot be accepted in the absence of some fundamental dependency on the faculties of human perception and reliance on the probability that human perception depicts an accurate reality. Sounds like faith to me.

Thank you for reading.

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~ by Archangel on April 6, 2007.

249 Responses to “A Letter to an Atheist – PART I: Do you “believe” in Atheism?”

  1. I think the question is whether Atheism is the belief of a god (or gods… or aliens for those who watched stargate too much) or whether its the denial of having faith (at all).

    As for the posting of Mano Singham, that seems to be his personal opinion and I dont see any strong argument for or against atheism in it.

    P:S:
    I found something interesting in the third paragraph from the bottom (where it starts ‘If one is to accept the theory ‘) Yes the argument is understandable, but then…
    If we are insignificant and the humen perception is relatively flawed (which is the final point tried to be proven), then the whole argument breaks down right? Cos our perception is flawed? I.E. the argument it self is flawed. Its what you call a paradox I guess.. when u go quantum 🙂

    P:P:S:
    My ‘belief’ is that the belief of a god or gods, all powerful or not, is a human perception which will not be proved or disproved beyond doubt, any time sooner or any time in the future.

  2. Thank you Kulendra. You seem to have understood my post. The original article I attempted to challenge seeks to establish scientifically i.e. through empirical reasoning, that God simply cannot exist. I find this curious since I appreciate the distinction between scientific fact and scientific speculation. Attempting to disprove God’s existence through science as it now prevails can only lead us into the realm of speculation.
    My argument on perception is not flawed in itself. The question arises only if we are to “accept the theory of evolution”. I never intimated that I in fact did.
    The only manner in which one can conclude definitely on God’s existence through science, is to accept that our perception is near perfect. The only way to accept that our perception is near perfect is to reject a theory that we are “still evolving”. See the paradox now?
    Thank you for reading.

  3. Having commented on the post on Mano Singham’s blog, I’d like to make a couple of points.

    Firstly, it’s not entirely clear that deficiencies in perception that you refer to are chronic or temporary. Or whether they are a necessary corollary to human perception or contingent on specific circumstances that render human perception deficient. There seems to be a difference between positing that humans can ‘never’ know the truth, and saying that humans ‘do not’ know the truth. The former is a faith based idea that you have addressed in this post and one that would seem to emerge if one accepts the Darwinian model. The latter is an assertion based on prior knowledge that the truth exists, and that humans have not been able to attain these truths. Both of these assertions therefore require a degree of faith and assumption. Agnosticism is also therefore a faith based idea.

    The second point is that it seems that an atheist would necessarily have to accept that matter exists due to an infinite regression of causes- in other words an infinite universe. In the light of scientific findings re the expanding of the universe( which demonstrates the finiteness of the universe)this would seems a very weak position to stand on. Furthermore, the fact that one has arrived at a point of time in the present (of the history of the universe) means that tomorrow will be infinity +1. But you can never have infinity +1. Infinity of the universe therefore cannot be reconciled with the idea we have of the ‘present’ since within infinity the idea of a future and past cannot exist. I was hoping that someone on that blog would have engaged this point., but was disappointed to note that no response was forthcoming.

  4. I think it may have been becuase I went through the ‘scientific’ path and figured its not going to work 🙂 Some time back I used to argue based on science, and then after a while I realised we are just assuming we are smart. For all you know, few hundred years back we knew that the world was flat 😉 And this iswhy I, so against ‘proving’ religions through science. You’d have to come up with a new argument each time a theory falls.

  5. Omigosh! That’s some scary stuff there. I kinda prefer u talkin abt cheatin and sexism than this!!! Wut r we, in some matrix dream or something??!? Too scary to think abt. Sorry.

  6. That was a good point Kulendra and it reestablishes the fact that one cannot simply place atheism on a higher logical plain than any other belief system.
    Niran, while I appreciate the distinction between chronic and temporary deficiency in perception, I fear you have misunderstood my point. I do not necessarily argue that human beings have deficient perception. Only that it is logically improbable that human beings have perfect perception IF one is to accept the theory of evolution. This was merely an example to highlight the logical inconsistency between atheism based on alleged empirical study and the theory of evolution.
    As for your second point, I agree completely with the gist of it. Atheism presupposes a cause for every effect, which leads to an infinity of causes. This is indeed incompatible with the idea of a finite universe. I must confess that further thought must be given to this before I respond at length.
    Thank you for reading.

  7. ADD, fear not. I understood your point perfectly. I was just pointing out that either form of agnosticism requires a leap of faith, and find your analysis of the Darwinian model sufficient grounds to label all ‘evolutionists’ agnostics. I do not however find this to be a deficiency per se in the Darwinian model. If the human mind is all we have, then the laws of science and logic that we have observed to be constant can still govern the way we think and justify our conclusions, even though we realize that our comprehension is not inerrant. Any assertion within any worldview that accepts human fallibility has to grapple with the problem of deficient perception. The theist is agnostic in the sense that he acknowledges deficiency in human perception because he takes it as revealed that truth exists and that he has been given access to part of it.

  8. I tend to agree with you point Archangel. However, it would be interesting if you would share with us your own position re the existence or non existence of a extra natural designer. It would be interesting how you respond to the charge of deficiency of the human mind in understanding truth within the parameters of your own philosophical assumptions.

    Is a bell, engage or bugger off.

  9. Disco Bob would like to thank Archangel for accepting the challenge to blog on this subject. He has a few comments.

    The first is that Atheism cannot be considered in a vacuum. Atheism is foremost a response to theism. If one does not view it through this prism, one can easily make the mistake of conflating atheism with ‘a belief system’ or a pseudo-religion. It isn’t. Most atheists do concede there is an infinitesimal chance that god exists. They just don’t believe it to be likely. The distinction is important.

    Second, atheism does rely on science, science does rely on empiricism, and empiricism does rely on perception. Our perceptions may indeed be far from perfect; scientific conclusions may indeed be revised. Archangel uses these facts ingeniously to assert that atheism is like faith. But he, celestial lackey that he is, misses the point.

    Faith is ‘belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence’. Science is an organised body of knowledge that relies on a process of observation, induction and deduction for its conclusions. Reliance on science, then, is a reliance on method. As long as the method is not fundamentally flawed, there is no problem in relying on it. If humanity evolves, and ‘perception’ improves, science will change. Atheists know this. If science someday discovers god, the atheist position will cease to be. Does this sound like faith?

    As an aside, there are certain types of creatures—termites, for example—that seem to have reached an evolutionary dead end. The principle of ‘survival of the fittest’ rests essentially on a state of chaos. With society having progressed to a level where its less capable members are cocooned and protected from the depredations of nature, red in tooth and claw, the not-so-fit thrive beside the fittest and dilute the gene pool. Witness the presence, as cute as it is, of Disco’s beloved Is a Bell in the blogosphere. Perhaps the subject for a later debate?

  10. JH Christ! Some heavy shit. there’s a teenibopper blog that’s way more fun! But hey….I knda agree with the post…strangely. how do we know we’re right about anything?

  11. ADD, you and Niran have relied upon two assumptions which, either due to your shortcomings or mine I cannot agree to.

    Firstly, you rely on an erroneous understanding of the theory of evolution to conclude acceptance of it leaves one unable to claim perfection or perfect perception. It is not, as you claim, a fundamental point of the theory that forward movement in evolution yields more sophisticated species. Increased biological success, or increased suitability to surrounding conditions, does not necessarily require increased biological sophistication. For example, a barren sun-baked death valley environment would find smaller organisms requiring little nourishment, complemented with different biological tools to larger complex organisms more suited for survival. Therefore, the simpler organism, a cockroach perhaps, is more suited to this environment in comparison to its more ‘sophisticated’ counterpart. If the theory of evolution holds true, and also if the world were to change in to one contiguous death valley, humans could evolve into EITHER less complex creatures OR more complex creatures based on the mutations that take place and the suitability of those mutations to prevailing circumstances. It is not possible to identify in advance that either the simpler or more sophisticated mutations would be best suited for survival, and it is possible the mutated species bearing more similarities to those smaller organisms would be best evolved for survival. It is evident here that the theory of evolution which cites effective adaptation to circumstances as its fundamental tenet does not necessarily involve more increased sophistication in future steps in the process of evolution.

    The fact that evolution does not demand forward movement based on increased sophistication therefore allows for the assumption that humans do indeed bear perfect perception. While I certainly do not claim we as humans enjoy perfect perception in relation to certain observations, I claim so on a feeling, faith if you will, that this is so and not on any undeniable scientific fact.

    Additionally, I feel you have misunderstood kulendrans point that if imperfect perception draws the conclusion of human insignificance, that this conclusion itself could be flawed. This to a limited extent supports the logical consistency of my larger claim that it is not impossible that homo sapien are the embodiment of human evolution, what ever evolution of the species that follows being a regression on our sophisticated biological and social existence.

    My second problem is your contention that an atheist would necessarily have to accept that matter exists due to an infinite regression of causes- in other words an infinite universe. Please explain why this is so, or point to a resource where the point is explained in fuller detail to the novice on this claim. Niran seems to have presupposed knowledge on this claim on the part of all readers. It is possible that it is the lack of such knowledge in most of our cases that has resulted in his summarized version of this contention not seeing much engagement. So, I fear this second contention of yours as well could be based on a misunderstanding or generalization of the beliefs of atheists which is convenient to your argument. For example an atheist could contend that the universe does indeed have a beginning and an end. What you seemed to have failed to understand is that it is logically possible to claim this beginning was not brought about by an omnipotent being but either just happened to be or was the produce of some other process. Faith is of course required that such a process or random circumstance does or did exist. It is not absolutely necessary to claim a reason for every cause. Faith could be placed by an atheist to ‘posit’, as niran would say, the fact that the first cause had no effect and also on the understanding that we as humans currently lack the scientific knowledge to understand why this could be so.

    Further, an expanding and contracting universe is not necessarily finite. This process could be seen as part of a cycle, with another big bang being the produce of the process of contraction. This, resulting in the birth of a new universe which would continue to play its part in an ongoing possibly infinite cycle. Therefore, it is arguable the expansion of the universe is not inconsistent with infinite existence.

    I am an atheist and indeed both my arguments require some faith based assumptions to be made at some point. However, what atheists should understand is that they should not shy away from professing faith. Faith could be placed in contentions or ideas. These contentions and ideas do not involve the existence or belief in a god. Ones faith in such contentions and ideals could be ridiculed by a god-fearing “believer” only if he is a hypocrite as even his faith is placed on the contention, ideal or ‘feeling’ that god does exist.

  12. Solla, u loser! Who made u monitor? I think the owner of this site can speak 4 himself. He has no prob wt me, why shud any1 else? Disco! stop being so darn strange… it’s downright creepy. Where is ranil an fanny? Cowards… I agree wt coofi! The teeny thing is simply super…shud i put a link here??? Ha ha ha ha ha.

  13. is is a bell yesh?

  14. you disco seem to have got atheists mixed up with agnostics… I To me atheism is not a response to any belief system but is merely the description of a belief system that is not theistic. This obviously is linked to the fact that atheism involves belief and faith as i pointed in my earlier comment. It’s simply faith as an assent to belief that is divorced from belief as practiced/felt/held by theists.

    Finally, it is not absolutely essential that atheism RELIES on science. At a fundamental level where the limits of scientific understanding as they stand has to be acknowledged, atheism as well comes down to belief based assumptions. The method of scientific deduction may not be fallible, however when testing atheistic contentions on scientific method it is necessary due to the subject matter at hand to make certain assumptions at certain points in the logical flow of argument. These assumptions are necessarily faith based due to the fact that none of us here are all-knowing. Remember faith encompasses what may be seen ultimately as blind reliance on various contentions and ideals not limited to those contentions and ideals concerning god/s.

  15. Anisha, Disco Bob would first like to salute you for an outstanding response that highlighted the misconception Archangel and Niran shared on evolution. He also applauds your arguments on the possible nature of the universe(s). He is not entirely enthused with your contention that atheism necessarily requires faith; but this is perhaps due to the haziness surrounding the word ‘faith’. Faith in the context of religion is different from faith in the context of science or philosophy; the former is based on ‘revealed’ knowledge or gut feeling, the latter is based on empiricism, reasoning and a priori knowledge. The faith required to believe in science is at the baseline level of faith required to believe that we exist and that the world exists. Atheism as a ‘soft’ position — that god, based on what we know, does not exist — is tenable as an empirical conclusion devoid of any level of faith greater than that. To say that god absolutely does not exist, which is the ‘hard’ atheist position, requires a higher level of faith. The former is not a belief system, but a rejection of existing religious positions. The latter, Disco Bob feels, is a belief system he cannot subscribe to, because he dislikes the ‘gut feeling’ premise it rests upon. Tangentially, perhaps ‘non-theism’ is a more accurate description of a belief system that is non theistic.

    Is a Bell, Disco Bob ardently hopes his ‘creepiness’ doesn’t mean that there can never be anything beautiful between us. Don’t forget: he yearns for you, tragically.

  16. Is a bell, engage or bugger off.

  17. Thank you for the commendations, I am duly flattered.

    Often, as I believe it is the case of many frequenting this blog, faith cannot be compartmentalized as religious ,scientific and philosophical. For example one would only come to the conclusion that god exists where logic brings argument to a point where available knowledge does not allow for an argument either way (on proof of the existence or non-existence of god) to be supported by hard and fast facts. It is only at this point that many allow for the feeling within them or the revealed knowledge bestowed upon them to take over or to complement their stand. Scientific (and philosophical?) method allows for one to choose either of the two options which necessarily involve faith in a contention that is not supported by fact. For this, both options would have to be supported by a logical theory that holds up against available facts resulting in both being seen as consistent with general methodology adopted in scientific (and philosophical?) study. Therefore his or her religious faith is not based purely upon gut feeling, It is explainable as a cumulative conclusion drawn from scientific, philosophical and religious notions. It is ultimately a personal choice allowing for certain prejudices and conditioning to impact on the conclusion reached. Therefore, due to the assumptions made, although broadly – to my understanding – one may be able to lay a theory before us on the existence or non-existence of god, this theory could not be held to be conclusive scientific fact until the theory chosen at the point of choice identified above is proven conclusive as well.

    I cannot agree at any level that today we could say empirical evidence would allow us to come to a soft conclusion that god does not exist. If I were to say god does not exist based on what we know, as you put it, I could not rely just on that premise. I would have to go beyond what we know, to what we are not quite sure about. To illustrate, theists would point to many ‘miracles’ unexplainable by science as we know it and claim this is evidence towards the existence of god. These ‘miracles’ are plainly included in ‘what we know’. I cannot see how such a claim made by theists may be dismissed by others as it rests on theory at least in its most rudimentary form that is acceptable in scientific discourse. So at this point in concluding the theists goes one way and the atheist the other based on what they are not quite scientifically sure about. To a soft position atheist or a soft position theist, faith in an assumption is crucial to their assent to a choice either way. Such faith as pointed out earlier requires at some stage, a blind adherence to an assumption that cannot be backed up by irrefutable fact. It is clear the gut feeling belief system line of reasoning necessarily arises here as well, rejection of theist argument irrefutably linked to a belief based assumption. Therefore, your argument that science, religion and philosophy require different levels of faith does not stand in the context of the current discussion. In all three instances, faith based assumptions are required at similar points in logically constructed argument. The difference in the level of faith required depends on if you are, as you pointed, either a hard or soft believer in your stance as the point in which the assumption is made differs accordingly.

    This would also lead to your preference in relation to terminology used for ‘non-theism’ over ‘atheism’ being misplaced, as both, although only slightly different on technical wordplay to begin with, rest on belief and faith.

  18. Anisha, those were some well articulated points.
    Firstly, it was not my intention to breakdown the theory of evolution. But since we’re on the subject, I think both you and I know that no reasonable scientist will accept the notion that Human beings form the final stage in the evolutionary ladder involving primates. There is no evidence to show that we are the most intelligent a species can ever hope to be, so I guess that too is a “faith-based” presumption you are making. My point was simple. If human perception is relatively deficient, then it necessarily follows that constructs of perception, such as science, may also be deficient.
    Secondly, you and I seem to be in agreement that atheism is a belief system. It is only considered to be a more advanced belief system due to the fact that the data it bases itself on may be perceived (deficiently as it may be the case) by our senses, whereas a religious belief system relies on data which cannot necessarily be perceived. There lies the distinction. I’m not entirely sure that this distinction warrants the ridiculing of the latter belief system since shutting our eyes to the possibility of there being a God may cause us to simply miss His presence. We only discovered fire by chance.
    Thank you for reading.

  19. Anisha, your acceptance of the role faith plays in the belief of an atheist is a refreshing idea, and one that all theists always knew about atheists. The debate does not necessarily stop at the point we agree that we share a propensity to base certain assumptions on faith, but to go deeper, and determine whether the faith based idea we have are consistent with our observations, both scientific and philosophical, of the universe.

    I will leave it to ADD to engage on the point you made about the sophistication of species depending on the contingency of their natural environment. If he’s half a wit I have a feeling he will pursue the line of questioning why faith is required if we have perfect powers of observation and intelligence, but I will desist from taking that line any further. I’d like to see how that debate unfolds.

    On the point of infinite regressions, leaving the scientific data aside for a moment, it seems to me that an actual infinite can never exist. For an actual infinite to exist, you would have to have a boundless set. In reality, the set of time is bounded by the present. As I said earlier, if the universe has existed for infinity, then tomorrow is infinity + 1 day. That is self evidently absurd in that infinity cannot be added on to. If it could be added on to, it would not be infinite. The kalam cosmological argument deals with this problem of positing an actual infinite. The argument I have raised is dealt with, but another independent argument for the impossibility of an actual infinite is also raised. Dr William Lane Craig has engaged atheists using this argument and I’m sure you’ll find some responses to the kalam construction on the net.

    Disco, I find qualified agreement with your assertion that faith in the context of science and philosophy is distinct from faith in the context of religion. If a religion posits an idea that is entirely reliant faith for its acceptance, and denies the validity of the processes of science, then you have this clear distinction. However, if a religion claims to follow a logical process of induction from certain assumptions that are as controversial as the assumptions of science, then surely that distinction withers away.

  20. Never did I deny making a faith-based assumption. I only revel in rallying atheists around what should be unabashed acceptance that atheism too involves legitimate faith based reasoning.

    I am not in agreement on your contention that human perception is necessarily deficient. It could be perfect on certain aspects and far from perfect in others. Therefore, scientific conclusions on certain aspects could be perfect, or approaching perfection, while others could indeed be deficient. There is no way that either of us could make any claims on the truth or untruth behind human perception and scientific conclusions that today are perceived to be scientific fact without some level of doubt in our minds.

    I do not claim atheism is objectively an advanced belief system. However to me, it represents my truth and therefore it is my choice.

  21. I think this discussion has taken a wonderful twist. Thank you Anisha for admitting to the fact the Atheism is a choice and not an observation. I think this a fundamental requirement which would lead to greater respect between theists and atheists. The issue I have dealt with in this post relates mainly to the childish manner in which certain eminent atheists have sought to establish their superiority.
    I am amused at the lack of courage those of you on the atheist blogroll have displayed in engaging me on my own turf.
    Niran, I agree completely with your point on the perfect powers of perception. If we do indeed have the ability to perceive perfectly, then the need for faith or even speculation for that matter, does not arise. The counterargument that human beings may have perfected perception in some cases and deficient perception in others does not hold water since it is too speculative and offers no criteria for the distinction.
    Thank you for reading.

  22. niran, my knowledge on physics is inadequate to engage you on your contention that time is necessarily bounded by the present. I have a feeling it is only our perceptions that bind us to this conclusion and kalam constructions aside viable scientific theory exists to the extent that time itself is on an infinite continuum. Of course I am only quoting from numerous science fiction books I have vague recollections of, but it must be noted all such writings that are taken seriously rely on some level of accepted scientific theory. You will probably get a better articulated response from someone better versed on theoretical physics.

    Leaving all this aside my question to you previously was directed at why you assume all atheist though to be based on a construction of the universe that necessarily involves infinite existence, or infinite regressions of cause and effect. You have not explained why you ascribe to this assumption. If I believe that there is a definite beginning and end to the universe, however still not believing in the existence of god/s, reasoning that is thereby atheist… how does your assumption stand?

    Also, I find your comment that professing to faith-based reasoning was something that “theists always knew about atheists” as one tinged with derogatory sentiment in a general sense and stemming from an inherent superiority complex and intolerance identifiable in the brand of religious conditioning i know you to have received.

    However, engaging you on the point following I would say that deeper analysis only brings us back to the point of actually making the said assumptions, as observations we have made and understood so far are inadequate to reach conclusive irrefutable statements of fact. In other words, deeper judgment of the faith-based idea would be based on ascribing to scientific and philosophical thought certain assumptions at points where such thought fails to give conclusive factual evidence either way.

    On perception, I have explained why it is possible that our ability to perceive certain aspects of the universe are indeed perfect or adequate to make true suppositions that we identify as science fact. It is impossible for either of us to say definitively that humans either lack or bear the ability to perceive as such. An argument either way is faith-based leaving room for either one of the arguments to be ultimately true. While it is highly improbable we have perfect perception in all aspects, it is possible we do have such perfect perception in some limited aspects.

  23. just to add to that, where our perception is perfect, I agree there is no need for faith based conclusions. While our understanding of our perceptions grow requiring fewer and fewer faith-based conclusions, I doubt we will ever reach a stage where faith could completely be abandoned unless humanity reaches a more sophisticated stage in evolution or technology advances in quantum leaps.

  24. “The counterargument that human beings may have perfected perception in some cases and deficient perception in others does not hold water since it is too speculative and offers no criteria for the distinction.”

    Now you are just “debating”. ADD, I find it somewhat hilarious that you demand criteria for my distinction while i could similarly demand reasons for assumptions that you have made. All I say is however relatively possible, the theory that we have reached perfect perception on some aspects is a viable logical theory is it not? Answer my question.

    The arbitrary point at which you feel an argument does not hold water is your own personal choice and I feel is based in the point each individual has reached on the soft-hard scale on the stance they hold.

  25. I came across your post while reading an interesting article on David Trotter’s incentives to get people to join his church. While I was appalled, your comment was quite interesting. But I’m little disappointed with you post as I expected you to take a more hard line approach against atheism. The battle lines are drawn and you must pick a side. There’s no reason to stay on the fence. I suspect you are a Christian disguised as an agnostic.
    I’ve been a string Christan and I’ve been part of my community church for the past 18 years. The strange thing is, I’ve experience God all my life. No one can really say to me “there is no God” because I KNOW he exists. So the argument that faith is based on something we cannot experience is not true since I’ve experience him. And just as some of you can tell me I’ve got it wrong because my perceptions have deceived me, I can tell you you’ve got it wrong because your perceptions have deceived you. So I strongly disagree with the thought that Christianity is blind faith or just about ascribing God to unexplained miracles. Christianity can be proven through experiencing it. And that experience is reserved for each individual. So yes, there is a so-called empirical element to believing in certain religions. No one can deny his own experience and it isn’t fair to dismiss countless rational individuals who profess to having the EXACT SAME EXPERIENCE. Doesn’t the fact that several individuals corroborate the same fact form a basis for an acceptable hypothesis even under the scientific method?

  26. Yes Anisha, I’ll concede that point. If you wish to argue that human beings conveniently have perfect perception when it comes to determining the question of God’s existence and no such luck when determining other issues such as, for example, the question of what a rose truly smells like, then it is indeed an opinion you are entitled to. However, let us not deviate from the fact that we are in agreement that there is a fundamental requirement of faith within atheism.
    Thank you for reading

  27. yes agreed. i made no such attempt to claim knowledge or even allude to the scope of perfect as opposed to imperfect perception, and do not take your allegation lightly. I was merely making the point on which your original post was erroneous upon which i feel you have now agreed.
    Carls experience above i believe is an example of how perception is understood and interpreted based on circumstance – an interesting point to ponder. Such individual perceptions taken merely on the basis that people rational in other discussions have had similar experiences does not justify a conclusion to be expected as acceptable to all that god exists or does not.

  28. Anisha, a few points.

    Yes, scientists like Hawing have posited the expanding, contracting view of the universe, and thus tried to demonstrate that the universe is possibly infinite. There have also been scientific attempts to debunk this theory, based on the idea that even Hawking’s ‘singularity’ requires a temporally prior cause. I agree that too much reliance on science would lead to a place where we simply say we don’t know, which is why I like the kalam argument which seeks to demonstrate philosophically, in a manner that is not too convoluted, that an actual infinite can never exist.

    Point 2. An atheist who believes that the universe has a beginning and an end must ask, “what caused the beginning?” Did the universe pop out of nothing, or was it caused. If the atheist says that the universe popped out of nothing, then there is no debate. A common ground of consensus that effects must have causes is a precondition for a meaningful debate on cosmology. Actually, I misspoke, if you are intent on the ‘popped out of nothing’ theory, I read something recently that seeks to engage that self evidently ridiculous idea. If you believe the universe was caused, then you ask what caused the cause an so on until you reach an uncaused cause. The alternative to the uncaused cause is of course, infinite regression of causes. You either stop attributing causes to effects or you don’t. The theist calls the uncaused cause GOD. She posits that the uncaused cause is by definition infinite and therefore necessarily exists outside and is unbounded by time, is capable of bringing into existence a universe effect from the result of its very ontological existence. If you read up on Craig, he cites others who demonstrate that an eternal cause that brings about a temporal effect is necessarily a personal being- i.e- one which has the capacity to determine the contingencies concerning the bringing about into existence of the universe. I have yet to come across an atheist who agrees that an uncaused cause is a necessary to explain the universe, I guess because the moment you accept an uncaused cause, you have no option but to accept some theory of an eternal absolute that others call GOD.

    Point 3. The assumption that humans can make the distinction between science fact and other areas where deficiency of perception exists highlights the original problem. If there is deficiency of perception, then it is impossible to know for sure when you have stumbled upon science fact and when you have not. The distinction is itself made based upon deficient perceptions.

    Point 4. In saying that theists always knew that the atheism was a faith based belief, I was assuming no superiority. No need to get your panties in a twist and rail about intolerance in my conditioning. If theists accepted the very common premise about deficiency in human perception, then they ‘always’ knew that atheism also required faith. And they scoffed at the suggestion that atheism required no faith and was pure observation. Given that you don’t identify with that version of atheism, I’m surprised you take offence at the suggestion of the theists knowledge of that falsity.

  29. Carl, you make a valid point. Faith does not need to be blind. I think reason takes us to the point where we realise that the most probable explanation for what we observe in logic and science is the fact of an eternal, loving, personal and miracle working god. We have no way of proving that last step through mathematical precision or pure logic, so we put our faith in that which we have belief in, and come to realise through experience that our reason led us in the right direction all along. That the probability of the existence of god in logic and science has through experience become the exhilarating positive knowledge of the existence of God.

  30. niran you seem to have fallen on kalam due to the lack of better understanding on the prior cause or beginning. It is obvious that the best available is not always absolute truth and reliance on it for argument leaves much open for debate.

    Also, if you believe that all you read is the be all and end all then so be it.. i doubt you do. you’re generally an intelligent bugger. So i don’t understand why you limit your argument to the uncaused cause necessarily being a personal being. Is craig GOD? does he understand and perceive all perfectly? Is his contention, being logically sound, as i assume it be if one such as yourself has accepted it, the be all end all? IS it absolute fact not leaving room for any other counter-theory. I doubt it.
    In this context I will not agree that the uncaused cause necessarily means acceptance of an eternal absolute. I will not be boxed into crying out GOD EXISTS simply due to the case being that I believe in an uncaused initial cause – which i btw am undecided on. I have no counter theory to craig as i have not read his work and probably am not bothered enough to spend my time on right now. Also my argument is weak due to lack of the depth of reading to the extent that you have racked up in your days. However my argument IS faith based to the extent that I believe that their exists an alternative explanation to a possible first uncaused cause being divorced of god/s, and I’m sure you know quite a bit about faith to not question the validity of my belief to me.

    On point 3 there was never an assumption on my part that humans are capable distinguishing where and where not their perception has been perfect. Howwver there always exists the possibility that some perceptions we have are perfect and thereby with the proper interpretation of them the scientific conclusions we have reached based on those perceptions also remain true. It is not possible to say definitely which science facts are true or not but I think you get the point i’m trying to make here in a sleepy haze. Generally i agree as i contended in my original comment on imperfect perceptions possibly calling all judgments we make into question.

    on point 4 i’m glad you have at least now realized the existence of different bands of atheism to those you have so far been combating online.

    All the best on your continuing crusade!

  31. Anisha, Craig is not God. Glad to clear that up for you. The kalam argument is not Craig’s. It’s a medieval argument that was worked on by Islamic and Christian philosophers and has been worked on lately by Christian philosophers, of whom are Craig, Platinga, Zacharias etc. I cited Craig because he has a lot of stuff on the internet and atheists in turn have responded to his arguments, and because there are transcripts of debates between Craig and atheists of repute on the net.

    Also, without sounding too preachy, I hope you continue in your journey of continually questioning your own faith and beliefs. When a problem such as the existence of an uncaused cause emerges, dwell on it, keep an open mind and actively search for an answer that satisfies your existential longings as well as your intellect. I will try and do the same.

    On human perception, if we can’t identify between what is science fact and what is not, then it follows that an evolutionist must of necessity concede that he may be wrong. I agree that it doesn’t mean that he is necessarily wrong. ADD might disagree with me on this one. I agree though that humans could have stumbled upon perfect truth in some aspects, the problem is that he has no way of knowing whether or not he has.

  32. Atheism is not the conclusion that God can’t exist, it is the conclusion that there is absolutely no evidence that God exists and therefore one can also conclude that God is a concept made up by man, and there is as much empirical reason to believe in God as there is in the Tooth Fairy.
    No faith needed.
    Very few Atheists I know can say God doesn’t exist 100% for sure, just like we can’t say the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist 100% for sure.
    Your point about us still evolving is ridiculous as I pointed out on the other blog. Whether we are still evolving, which we are ever so slightly be is of no consequence. We are at the stage where we understand math and science where other animals can’t, as yet (some can understand certain aspects of math, like chimps)
    If man were to be wiped off the earth tomorrow, from a deadly virus, it still wouldn’t alter the law of gravity for example. Man has it figured out, but without man here, objects won’t start flying off the planet.

  33. niran, it’s strange that you seem to have lost your ability to identify sarcasm

  34. Sarcasm? Who? Where? …or was it attempted sarcasm. I’m blissfully unaware. Silly me.

  35. Atheist Jew, I am unaware of whether there exist cosmological, teleological, moral or ontological arguments for the existence of a tooth fairy. You may note that there are a number of arguments to choose from in order to demonstrate the plausibility of belief in God, of which the cosmological has been dealt with very briefly in this thread. You may reject these arguments, but to a lot of people (including atheists who take them seriously enough to spend countless hours engaging theists using the most sophisticated scientific and philosophical tools) the existence of God is an issue that is a lot more compelling and convincing than the existence of a tooth fairy.

    Belief in the non existence of God due to lack of proof is either due to the faith that no evidence exists, or due to a fundamental error in thinking that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

  36. AJ, thanks for the comment.
    Firstly, I drew a distinction in my post between scientific fact and scientific speculation. If the question pertaining to God’s existence falls within the latter category, your argument about human beings understanding gravity and math becomes irrelevant since gravity and math, we will all agree, falls squarely within scientific fact.
    The purpose of my article was to highlight the attempt of the atheist to place his conclusion that God does not exist within the bounds of scientific fact. There lies the problem. It is for this reason alone that I attempted to illustrate the inclusion of faith within the atheist’s belief system since any statement that there is empirical evidence to conclude that God does not exist presupposes that a number of theories which are yet to be accepted as scientific fact, are in fact true.
    Perhaps the word faith is a sensitive word to use here as it seems to hurt the atheist’s feelings every time he is associated with it. So I am quite prepared to substitute this word with “belief” of “reliance”. However, more mature atheists such as Anisha for example, have realized the necessity for faith/reliance within his own atheism. Perhaps you too should reconsider your position. Or is that something an atheist would never do?
    Thank you for reading.

  37. i now know why u r called ADD! how do u guys manage to concentrate on all this. I’m amazed. Disco, wut’s up wt u? U jokin or wut? Wut happened 2 ranil and fanny. I’d like a word wt them.
    Anyway, if the question is whether i believe in god or not the answer is yes. But i can’t prove it. Not sure if there’s even a need to. Isn’t it personal!?! I Dont think there’s much point in tryin to prove god doesnt exist coz ppl who dont believe in the 1st place dont need convincin!!! I think its abt attitude. If we start off believin there r like no aliens or sumthin, then we wud stop lookin! That wud b a sad thing 2 miss. Kinda like ADD’s silly fire example. So demandin proof 4 god’s existence is all abt findin an excuse never 2 luk 4 him. Pretty dumb.

  38. Finally you engage. Super. Don’t bugger off.

  39. Is a bell, I think my tolerance of your relentless trolling has indeed paid off. That was a very insightful comment. It goes to prove that respecting an individual’s freedom of expression, however convoluted and irrelevant such expression may be, will ultimately result in some overall benefit to that individual.
    On your comment, I agree with your observation about most atheists. For a brand of individuals who claim to be open-minded and free-thinking, most atheists (barring a few of course) seem to display remarkable resilience to the possibility of reassessment. Is atheism an excuse? Well, I’m not entirely sure about that, but it’s an interesting thought.
    Thank you for reading.

  40. where’s ranil is a bell? you seem to know more about him than I do… 😦 god save me

  41. Pls some1 get is a bell off this blog or even the face of the earth for that matter. talk about a woman in need of a good fuck!!! hahaha

  42. tee hee…

  43. Leave is a bell alone you chauvinists. She is a perfect representation of the female kind on this blog. Talks a load of cock, but intuitively had the right idea all along. No sweety?

  44. Here is an article I wrote that clarifies what I think is “the Atheist
    position”

    As far as faith goes, you can invent words that make you feel good if you wish, as far as atheism and faith goes, the only faith an atheism has is the faith in the scientific method. And the scientific method goes, it can’t be used to disprove God or the Tooth Fairy.

    And as far as cosmological, teleological, moral or ontological arguments that God exists, that still doesn’t change my premise, there is abosulely no evidence that God or the Tooth Fairy exists, though the Tooth Fairy sounds ridiculous, I could come up with an argument that he or she exists….the arguments aren’t based on any proof though.

    Here is another good post I made on the subject, and I hope the blog host will watch the short video here too.

  45. can a woman not go by anywhere without being hit on? you men are all the same!

  46. ADD?!? Wow, u actually responded wt a nice one. I’m touched. Really.
    Divya, hon… u better get used 2 it. Welcome 2 the real world. No point in moanin abt it. Be a big girl. FANNY! U’ve been kinda tasteless of late. PMS?? Yeah that time of month can b a bitch… Ha ha. Then again wut can u expect from some1 who calls herself a virgina?! …”fanny”…pretty sad.

  47. AJ, thank you for taking the time to add that link to your post. I hope you don’t mind me presenting the paragraphs in bold on my site for the purpose of easy reference.

    “An Atheist is simply a person who concludes that no evidence for any God exists, just like no evidence for the Tooth Fairy exists so why should one even consider the Tooth Fairy or any God exists? Especially with the knowledge that man invented the Tooth Fairy and has invented at least all but one of the possible Gods.
    Atheism as a theory: My theory of Atheism states that everything everywhere, throughout the history of time, can be explained scientifically either now, or will be explained scientifically, in the future. Also, the theory states, that absolutely no supernatural event has ever happened or will ever happen, and that supernatural entities do not exist.
    Since Atheism theory is supported by scientific evidence and observational facts, Atheism, like evolution, is both theory and fact as well.
    If a supernatural event occurs, or if proof that such an event ever happened, or if there is proof that a supernatural entity exists or has ever existed, then Atheism theory will be destroyed.”

    I shall respond to this shortly.
    Thank you for reading.

  48. Disco Bob disappears for a night and a day and returns to find some heavy shit here. He returns, alas, rather tipsy, and apologizes in advance for any drink-sodden misdemeanours he may here commit. First though, and with a humility uncharacteristic of one who thinks of himself in the third person, let him congratulate Archangel and the trolls on this blog for conducting a fantastic debate on a seriously groovy issue.

    The one main issue here is that of faith in atheism. Disco has come out of the closet as a soft-position atheist. This means that he feels there could be an infinitesimal chance god exists, but it seems so unlikely that he accepts as a working hypothesis the theory that god does not exist. Absolute atheism in the sense professed by Anisha requires a leap of faith, because it posits that god absolutely does not exist. Since science as we have it now cannot firmly reach that conclusion through fact, he takes the leap of faith based on a gut feeling that god does not exist, in much the same way that theists take the opposing view.

    Disco’s position (i.e. soft-position atheism), which seems to be shared by the Atheist Jew, is that there is no acceptable evidence at this point in time for the existence of god. This is not a ‘100% argument’ in the sense of insisting that god cannot exist. But we feel the chances are vanishingly small that it does. Niran’s response, that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, is true about every supernatural thing one can think of, be it the tooth fairy or a celestial teacup, or the flying spaghetti monster (to use frequent atheist clichés). This is an old argument. The more interesting question is whether all ‘atheisms’ requires faith.

    Archangel writes: “The purpose of my article was to highlight the attempt of the atheist to place his conclusion that God does not exist within the bounds of scientific fact. There lies the problem … any statement that there is empirical evidence to conclude that God does not exist presupposes that a number of theories which are yet to be accepted as scientific fact, are in fact true”. On the face of the matter, this sounds reasonable. But if one thinks about it, it is a reasonable critique only of hard-position atheism, and Anisha has already conceded its validity. Disco’s atheism is somewhat different.

    The purpose of soft-position atheism is not to demonstrate god’s non-existence as a positive claim about the universe. Rather, it is to reject faith-based assertions of theistic religion on the grounds that there is no evidence. There is no reason at all why the burden of proof should lie with the non-believers. To bring back the old argument: is it fair to ask anybody to prove conclusively the non-existence of the tooth fairy, celestial teacup or flying spaghetti monster? Why should god be any different? In this respect, the fact that there is no conclusively demonstrable proof for the existence or non-existence of god may require all of us to be agnostic. Does it then require an act of faith for us to lean one way or another; towards theism or atheism? That is the real question here.

    At the end of the day, what Disco’s beloved Is a Bell said — and, my dear, he IS very serious about you — is surely the most valid comment on this blog: “i can’t prove it. Not sure if there’s even a need to. Isn’t it personal!?!”. But to leave it at that will be a cop out. Disco is not sure he can pull it off, but he will attempt to state, briefly, why he believes atheism, as a soft-position, does not require faith.

    Science, thus far, has provided rational, natural explanations for most things. On those matters where science and philosophy can only speculate, such as why there is something rather than nothing, there exists no reasonable evidence or argument that a supernatural force acts, or has acted, as a causative agent. You end up with two things: first, the proven presence of natural explanations for most things; second, the absence of reasonable supernatural explanations or arguments for those things where the natural hypotheses are unproved.

    Some of you may be tempted to respond by talking about uncaused causes or cosmological arguments (are they the same thing?) at this point. Who knows, Carl may even start quoting the bible. That’s why it’s a personal matter; though, as an aside, the uncaused cause argument is surely the mother of all tautologies. In the final reckoning, does it require faith to discredit supernatural explanations simply because the natural hypothesis remains unproved? Disco thinks not. He could be wrong. Perhaps ‘god’ knows?

  49. Disco, a couple of points to deconstruct what I think was a very well articulated cover up for the atheist faith. If I my summarise your assertions they are as follows

    1. There is no clear scientific proof for the existence of God.
    2. Science has given us natural explanations for most things.
    3. Therefore the chances that God exist are akin to the chance of a celestial teacup existing, vanishingly small.
    4. The above assertions require no great leap of faith.

    It seems to me that faith emerges if one is to accept this position because of the belief that science can provide the answer to all of life’s questions. The problem is that once you accept science to be the arbiter of the question of God’s existence for instance, you accept a ‘naturalist’ limitation to the proofs that can be adduced. This, in itself is not a problem, but in considering the debate on the existence of what is by definition a being ‘without’ as opposed to within nature, and one that is ‘supernatural’, it would seem that a ‘naturalist’ hardline stance in limine skews the result.

    Now I’m sure there will be all sorts of allegations thrown at me for suggesting that science cannot be the sole arbiter, so let me make a few things clear. Firstly, I’m not suggesting that science cannot be used in order to advance or critique one or the other position concerning the existence of God. Once you set up a ‘God’ hypothesis, you could have atheists and theists alike trying to demonstrate that scientific fact does in fact give more credence to their hypothesis. So science still plays a major part in the debate, even though we must accept that the debate cannot be limited to science, as an inquiry limited to science in an area that by definition is extra-scientific is self defeating.
    Secondly, where science(which is conceivably based on human observation) is insufficient to yield a definitive conclusion, logic follows. I’m fairly sure that logic cannot be divided into natural and supernatural logic, so the playing field here is even. The results is not skewed.

    The role that faith plays in the mind of the ‘naturalist’ atheist like Disco is fairly clear. In seeking to determine the answer to questions that can take us outside the scope of science through science itself, he places a mistaken faith in the ability of the scientific method to play the role of the sole arbiter in a game where it is not equipped to function in that position.

    I’m also surprised that he finds the cosmological argument tautological.(one version of the cosmological argument posits the necessity of an uncaused cause) It was notwithstanding his confession of the same, the only clear evidence of his drunken binge that night. The cosmological argument, or the argument ofr an uncaused cause, admits many alternatives that can be used to rebut it. The idea that things pop out into existence out of nothing and the idea that the universe exists due to an infinite regression of causes. I attempted to demonstrate that these two alternatives were logically untenable, and thus concluded that in all probability, in the absence of credible alternatives, the uncaused cause does exist.

    I’m not sure whether Disco rejects in limine this sort of logical/philosophical argument, or whether he considers it unconvincing. If the former is the case, it demonstrates his faith in the ability of the scientific process to answer questions it by definition cannot, and if the latter it is surely becoming of an individual who has considered the evidence and has concluded that it does not add up to present an effective rebuttal that renders the probability of the existence of God to be vanishingly small.

    I think it’s clear why the question of asserting the existence of a celestial teacup, heavenly frog, sexy tooth fairy or spaghetti monster is just a tad bit different to asserting the existence of an uncaused cause.

  50. is a bell… fanny is my REAL name.. how mean can you get? 😦 actually its frances but everyone’s called me fanny since i can remember…

  51. Niran, thank you for a very interesting critique of Disco’s last comment. A few counters:

    Firstly, on the matter of arbiters. Disco doesn’t quite buy your argument that science will never be equipped to gauge the existence of a causative agent. Even if the causative agent is outside the cosmos, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the impact it would have cannot be perceived in the contours of its creation. (In fact, a more sophisticated theological argument from design posits that the hand of god is visible in the six cosmological constants). If science can come up with an entirely natural explanation for the existence of the cosmos, such as a continuous big-bang singularity or a contiguous multiverse, the god hypothesis can be dispensed with. Therefore, your contention that science and the scientific method are self-defeating or ill-equipped to function as arbiters in this matter is not quite correct.

    Secondly, regarding the uncaused cause argument. Disco does not reject it in limine, but simply finds it unconvincing. The big problem with the uncaused cause argument is what caused the uncaused cause. To simply say that the uncaused cause is ‘by definition’ infinite and supernatural is a tautology. The universe is a complex thing. If there is an agent outside the universe capable of having created it, it is eminently reasonable to ask what caused this creator. Further, Disco is not quite sure where you demonstrate that the infinite regression of causes is logically untenable. That we find it difficult to conceive of an unbounded set could simply be a deficiency in our conception, to alter Archangel’s initial contention slightly.

    Another alternative to the uncaused cause argument is that the universe has always been. Although scientific data does point towards an expansion and an eventual contraction of the universe from and to a single point, that is not the same as saying that the universe ‘popped’ into existence out of nothing. It could be a continuous, infinite process of expansion and contraction, sort of like an accordion. This is another unproven theory, and although it requires the sort of non-linear thinking that can make anyone’s head hurt after a while, it is a simpler theory than the uncaused cause.

    Finally, Disco asks once again: given the existence of possible alternatives, why should the burden of proof lie with the non-believer? Given that an agent capable of summoning the universe into existence has to be complex, it is legitimate to question its provenance. If the only proof provided for the creator theory is a logically feasible argument, that can neither be proved nor disproved, what compulsion is there for anyone to believe in it? More to the point, does it really require faith to abstain from this belief?

  52. Thank you Disco and Niran for those comments.
    I wish to address the Atheist Position as submitted by the Atheist Jew.

    Your presumption in categorizing 3400 man-made gods with an “uncaused cause” is untenable since the latter is not a construct of the mind but rather a conclusion based on the hypothesis that the universe is finite.
    Your presumption that a natural explanation for each and every occurrence being evidence for the non-existence of God is also untenable and here’s why.
    (Niran’s hypothesis is very interesting as it uncovers the possible definitional deficiency of science in determining the question at hand. This raises the concern in limine that science, being a construct of man, can never explain what is beyond his comprehension. That makes sense. But I wish to submit an alternative view at this juncture which should be considered)

    Does the way in which God works require an observable supernatural element? That is an all too convenient presumption atheist like to make. The problem with this is that we are attempting to give God a profile. We assign Him with definite characteristics which reflect human characteristics and arbitrate the manner in which He should conduct his activities if He were to exist. Now that’s a little strange since we by definition cannot comprehend him.

    The tooth fairy, the celestial teacup and the spaghetti monster are profoundly inadequate analogies of God. This is due to the fact that we know what they are supposed to look like and we know that we haven’t seen little creatures going about distributing dimes for teeth. A unicorn is a creature that looks like a horse and has a long phallic object protruding from his forehead. We know we haven’t seen anything of that nature yet and may justifiably conclude that unicorns don’t exist.
    But that hypothesis becomes utterly redundant when arguing that something we know nothing about cannot exist. So it’s best that we move past that ridiculous submission.

    Reverting to the question, I feel it is not altogether necessary to posit that evidence for God requires a supernatural manifestation. Natural science may in fact be His method of operation. The position that the Atheist will now find himself in (should he see the obvious deficiency in the tooth fairy argument) is that he has no need for a God who makes no real impact on his life. You may in fact observe this sentiment amongst many enlightened atheists who have moved pass the tooth fairy stage. He may declare that he sees no need for a God who is redundant. That is absolutely great, since he may also have a father who he thinks is utterly useless and choose not to continue associating with. He may also at some point declare obstinately that he has no father. However, that doesn’t make his daddy vanish into non-existence now does it?
    The issue that requires proper articulation is that faith does not follow evidence. Rather evidence follows faith. Why do I say this? If we do not know what it is that we are looking for, we cannot appreciate the evidence of its existence. That’s pure logic for you. However, if one takes the leap of faith at the outset to experience this so called uncaused cause, it is perhaps (and this is not necessarily my opinion) plausible that the evidence for God’s existence may be observed and appreciated. So it is infinitely important that one releases all preconceived notions of what God by definition is supposed to be like, and leave silly examples of fairies and teacups to our toddlers.

    Thank you for reading.

  53. Archangel, your recent arguments bear all the hallmarks of a loose-limbed true-believer frantically thrashing about to prostrate himself at the sphincter of the theist shibboleth.

  54. Don’t misunderstand Disco. My intentions are not to unethically convert you. I am merely challenging the tooth fairy analogy. If you are able to counteract my point that the analogy is redundant, then please do so. Remember, to argue that a tooth fairy does not exist may be plausible due to the fact that we have a mental image of what to expect. As for God, this mental image is either false or non-existent.
    Thank you for reading.

  55. No misunderstanding at all, Archangel. Disco agrees that the tooth-fairy analogy is an infantile argument, but its puerility serves to illustrate the pointlessness of the logical contortions you just engaged in to demonstrate defence of the god hypothesis. These contortions leak so much meaning out of the ‘god’ concept that it leaves little behind for debate. Which made Disco wonder why you bother.

  56. Disco, thank you for that intelligent concession. I am not interested in defending the God hypothesis as I am in challenging the fundamental presumptions of Atheism. I believe a better god-analogy is now in order. Any suggestions?
    Thank you for reading.

  57. If tooth fairy wont do try disproving agjdpmdpakgrs!

  58. Archangel, Disco has neither the theological background nor the imagination to come up with god-analogies. However, he would like to comment that the ‘god’ concept arising from the uncaused-cause argument (were one to buy it, which Disco doesn’t) and your logical exertions above, is the deist god, who is far removed from the ‘eternal, loving, personal and miracle working god’ that Niran was exhilarated about earlier. Perhaps it would be instructive to see how the latter evolves from the former?

  59. That question does not require my attention since I never contended that God had a profile in the first place. However, I have given this thought (though presently inadequate) and here’s a possible explanation. Niran, I would appreciate your input.

    When we acknowledge God’s existence, it may be on the basis of believing in an uncaused cause or merely on blind faith.
    When we experience God, it may turn out that he is an “eternal, loving, personal and miracle working god” as Niran claims.
    This thread is consistent with my argument that evidence must necessarily follow faith if we are ever to determine God’s existence.
    Thank you for reading.

  60. I just typed a fairly comprehensive post addressing some of Disco’s points, but lost the damn thing due to an unexpected breakdown in this blasted ADSL line and a power cut that soon followed. Perfect.

    Disco, a few rebuttals.

    Firstly, I fear you are conflating the teleological argument from design with the cosmological argument. The former is not a more sophisticated version of the latter, it is an independent argument adduced to demonstrate the existence of God. The former can conceivably be countered with a naturalist version of design and fine tuning in the universe. The cosmological argument however, asks not ‘why design?’ but ‘why anything?’ Dawkins multiverse and Hawking’s big bang singularity still beg the question as to whether the cosmos exists due to an uncaused cause, popping out of nothing or an infinite regression of causes. As an aside, most theistic cosmologists and philosophers function around the big bang singularity paradigm.

    The question ‘what caused the uncaused cause?’ is patently nonsensical as it ignores the definition provided. An assertion of the definition in the light of a question that ignores the question is not a tautology, it is a mere restatement of the definitional parameters of the object or subject as the case may be. A tautology is an argument that proves itself, and allows no counterargument. The assertion that an uncaused cause is uncaused in the light of a question that misunderstands the definition does not prove the uncaused cause, since its proof is contingent on the negation of other alternatives to the uncaused cause hypothesis.

    If Disco scrolls up a few comments, he will come across a couple of lengthy posts where I engaged Anisha on the impossibility of an actual ‘time based’ infinite universe. To put it simply, can tomorrow be infinity + 1 day? I am not arguing that an infinite set is inconceivable since in theory mathematicians work with infinite sets all the time. I’m arguing however, that an infinite set can never be put together by continuous addition.

    I’d like to remind Disco that the atheist is under no compulsion to disprove God, just as the theist faces no compulsion to prove God. But surely, if an atheist bases his position on the vanishing smallness of the existence of God, he is under a burden to prove that the evidence is indeed vanishingly small.

    Re God’s profile, ADD hits the nail on the head. Evidence follows faith. I attribute certain features to God that I come to know through experience, and then retrace my steps as it were. I come to realise that the evidence points towards the probability of a personal uncaused cause, a designer who is the locus of morality and thus, worthy of worship. (I’ve based this on the cosmological, teleological, moral and ontological arguments) I then realise that the leap of faith that I took was consistent with reason, and thus, I am able to confidently affirm my experience and faith. With some of course, this process is inversed. The evidence comes first, followed by the leap of faith which is then verified through experience.

  61. Please excuse the typos, such as “vanishing smallness of the existence of God” Use your imagination where I have failed the words.

  62. this discussion is getting kinda interesting. but guys, using big words doesnt mean u make more sense…btw.
    silly SATAN! i think u’r lettin ur side down!!! (sniff sniff) i think i smell desperation on the atheist front!! ha ha ha.
    Btw, how come no one ever talks about satan’s existence? does he fit in this whole thing at all? not that i’m a fan!
    nyway, I HAVE A QUESTION!!!
    if god doesnt exist…how come ppl havent stopped believing in him like all the other things like dragons and fairies and the 3000 odd mini gods???!?! is everyone just blind? or r the believers stickin on coz they;re onto sumthin!!? i dunno if i made any sense…just thought i’ll speak out since i’m FINALLY respected by SOME ppl on this blessed blog! 🙂

  63. WHAZZUP NIGGAZ?

    TODAY IM RESURRECTED AND ALIVE AGAIN, SO AM FEELING HAPPY AND TWINKLE TOED AND ALL THAT SHIT!

    IM FLATTERED BY ALL THE CONTROVERSY IM PROVOKING… AND TO THINK THIS ALL STARTED AS A SOAP COMMERCIAL WITH PONTIUS AS THE PROTAGONIST!

    ONE POINTER FOR YOU BLOKES. WHY NOT LEAVE ME TO SORT MY OWN EXISTENCE OUT (I THINK IM WELL CAPABLE) AND FOCUS YOUR GOD-GIVEN (OR EVOLUTION TRICKLED) INTELLIGENCE AND TALENTS ON SOME REAL ISSUES; LIKE THE PLIGHT OF TOMATO CULTIVATION OR DUST PAINTING?

    JUST AN IDEA, BUT HEY, ITS A FREE WORLD; DO AS YOU WISH!

    CHEERS.

  64. Is A Bell, we are hardwired to be superstitious and invent explanations for concepts that we can’t explain. We have evolved the susceptibility to believe in God. 1.6 billion Muslims believe Mohammed was a prophet, does that mean he flew to heaven in a horse? Billions of Christians believe Christ was resurrected, does that mean he was? They only believe this because they were brainwashed (usually at an early age) to believe it, and they wanted to keep believe it so that they have a CHANCE to live forever.

    I don’t see why the Tooth Fairy example is infantile. The only difference is that we catch on that it is man made by the time we are 8. Most people don’t give up on the man made concept of God their entire life.

    I see the only evidence of God is that science can’t explain YET what happened just before the Big Bang. 2000 years ago, science couldn’t explain lightning. My point is that gaps are getting filled relatively quickly, and all other reasons to believe in God have been filled up by scientific observation and theory.

    OK Archangel, I could change it from tooth fairy to invisible man under my bed. I won’t give this man any characteristics, I won’t even say for sure he is a man. But if I have a recurring dream that this force/man is under my bed, should you believe me that he exists or is it up to me to give some evidence of his existence?

  65. Atheist Jew? Do logical and philosophical arguments count as proof? If so, let hear your rebuttal of the cosmological argument. Surely, you’ve reviewed all the evidence in coming to your conclusion and rejected it, so how do you work round the uncaused cause?

  66. Niran, Disco presents here his counters to your counters to his counters. First, Disco pleads mea culpa to the charge of conflating the teleological argument from design and the cosmological argument. Apologies. However, rather than getting bogged down at this time with technicalities about categories, tautologies, infinity, and the profile of god, (on most of which, more, later) Disco will pare things down to the essentials.

    He’ll start with a digression. For whatever reason, humans have a tendency to always look at things from a linear perspective. This is why it so often seems that there must be a beginning, a middle, and an end to everything. But what if the universe functions in a method alien to our conception? Bear with Disco, for this tangent might seem fanciful (though normatively no different from the god concept, which Archangel thinks is also beyond our comprehension). The provision of alternate explanations is central to this debate.

    If the universe is a cyclical phenomenon that has no beginning and no end but exists in perpetuity (or infinity, if you will), its continuous cycle of expansion and contraction may give the rise to the perception that we live in a finite system; but the system itself is infinite. Time may exist within the system, with each expansion and contraction of the universe, but the system itself is outside time, and requires no cause. It just is. (As an aside, there may be an obscure branch of Buddhist philosophy that deals with this. Disco is not sure.)

    This example is just to remind you that the uncaused cause becomes feasible only in a finite system. But even in a finite system, an uncaused cause is not absolutely necessary. As Anisha mentioned somewhere above, what if the (finite) universe just happened, or was the by-product of another process? The point being that the ‘uncaused cause’ is not the sole explanation facing us in examining the provenance the universe.

    Here we get to the crux of the matter, which in this particular debate is not the existence or non existence of god, but the existence of faith in all of atheism. Disco has listed just three examples above, which are in addition to the uncaused cause argument put forth by Niran. There is also the multiverse argument, which as far as Disco knows was not put forward by Dawkins, though he does mention it. That makes five alternatives for now. If all five are equally feasible, then the probability of the uncaused cause being valid is only 20%.

    This may not be a vanishingly small number, though we may reduce it further with each additional hypothesis we come up with about the provenance of the universe. But it is small enough. On the grounds of probability alone, a non-theistic answer has a greater chance of being true.

  67. I hope Disco sees the contradiction in his assertion that the system as a whole is unbounded by time. Time itself is a temporal succession of physical states, and it is self defeating to speak of continuous expansion and contraction without invoking time to explain the process. Disco himself stated his hypothesis posits that the “universe is a cyclical phenomenon that has no beginning and no end” thus invoking time, since it is meaningless to speak of cycles without positing a succession of physical states of being, which is in fact my understanding of time. Disco may respond that the system itself is outside time, but wait a minute. If time exists within the system, then surely as long as time exists, the argument that an infinite regression is impossible still applies. But Disco posits no other system other than the expansion and contraction model, which is necessarily bounded by time, and thus rendering an infinite expansion and contraction impossible. Any effort to suggest that the implications of the expansion contraction model can operate within and not without the system is to not even play word games, it is to draw a distinction where no ground for distinction exists.

    Further, within a finite system, an uncaused cause is absolutely necessary. Anisha’s alternatives aren’t really very novel. By positing that the universe might have ‘just happened’ I hope the atheist is not suggesting that finite things randomly pop into existence out of nothing. There’s almost no point arguing once you get to this point. The second alternative that the finite universe may be a by product of another process begs the question , a process of infinite regression of causes or a process that had a beginning?

    The issue here is not to count the number of alternatives posited, it is to ask whether the alternatives are viable. So far, the atheists in this blog have not been able to provide any.

  68. Disco, I find the ideas you present as alternatives quite interesting – particularly the notion that the universe is a cyclical phenomenon.
    You however assume that each of your hypotheses has equal value and probability. The number of alternative hypotheses does not necessarily decrease the potency of the uncaused cause hypothesis. Since none of them are proven, they remain as theories, not options. That distinction is important. So let us not play the numbers game.

    Atheist Jew, I’m glad you see the problem with the tooth fairy. As for the invisible man under your bed of whom you keep dreaming about, I fail to see that as a better analogy. How is it that you dream about this force, if you don’t know what it looks like? The answer is simple. You have a mental profile to identify him. The fact that your fairy just turned into invisible man doesn’t change the fact that you have some preconceived notion of what to expect when determining that the invisible man does not exist. That is precisely the distinction I wish to draw in terms of determining God’s existence. You do not know what you are looking for in order to even appreciate the evidence for His existence. The visibility factor of your analogy is not a factor at all.
    Thank you for reading.

  69. Having reasserted his position regarding faith and atheism in surveying the provenance of the universe, Disco returns to the other issues raised by Niran. First of all, he would like to thank Niran for his admission that evidence follows faith. This may prove instructive: Disco has always wondered why atheism comes far more easily for those raised in non-theistic traditions. Perhaps The Atheist Jew’s comment about conditioning applies. This is not to disparage anybody’s theism. But it seems much easier to start from a premise and retrace back to it: despite his earnest professions to the contrary in his Discourses, even Descartes was guilty of this.

    Consider Niran’s satisfaction with the uncaused cause argument. For him, it seems self-evident. For Disco, the problem about the provenance of the uncaused cause is a serious one. Though Niran clings to his definitions with all the passion of an ardent schoolboy debater, this convenient definition of the uncaused cause being ‘infinite … unbounded by time … [and] capable of bringing into existence a universe effect from the result of its very ontological existence” smacks of sophistry. Disco will bow to Niran’s insistence that this is not a tautology, if only to appease him. But the fact remains: for Disco, the argument is deeply unsatisfying. No amount of definitional defences will make the uncaused cause plausible for him.

    Now let us consider the continuous universe argument Disco put forward earlier. Niran may have some difficulty wrapping his mind around this concept, as did Disco when he was considering it. But, if you evaluate the two positions, there is little normatively different between them. Niran spoke of the problem of ‘infinity+1’. This does not arise if we posit that the continuous universe system is infinite, despite having the finite manifestations of expansions and contractions, during which time exists. If time exists only during these finite manifestations, then the system is ‘by definition’ unbounded by time. Time is merely a by-product. Since definitions seem to be adequate arbiters for Niran, this alternative hypothesis of the universe should be normatively no different from the uncaused cause argument.

    Niran has just posted a response saying that ‘Disco may respond that the system itself is outside time, but wait a minute. If time exists within the system, then surely as long as time exists, the argument that an infinite regression is impossible still applies’. Very prescient about Disco’s response, but the argument is not correct. If time is a by-product of this system — or, rather, if the system causes time in much the same way as the uncaused cause causes the universe, then the system is no more bound by time than the uncaused cause is bound by the universe or any of its by-products. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    This is not, by the way, an attempt to show that Disco’s cyclical universe is viable. It is merely an effort to show that it is every bit as meaningless or as meaningful as the uncaused cause. Just because something is correct ‘by definition’ does not make it true.

    Archangel has just accused Disco of playing the numbers game. Disco confesses that this may be the prima facie construction arising from his comment. But that was not its intention: all Disco wanted to show was that if there are possible alternatives to the uncaused cause argument, and again, he refrains from judging their individual probability because he possesses no yardstick, it is still tenable to hold that the rejection of the god hypothesis is not necessarily an act of faith.

  70. Apropos of what has gone before, and just for the heck of it: can Archangel or Niran disprove solipsism?

  71. Here…honestly you Law Fac buggers need to be a little less prolix. It’s not a good habit in the real world. But if it gets you laid go right ahead….I’m not sure it is though.

  72. Firstly, let me assert that propositional logic necessarily deals with definitions. To pretend that definitions are laughable is to pretend that concepts do not exist, and surely that’s not good. I’m amused by the suggestion that definitions have been set up as defences by myself since my last point deals with exactly the same issue. Perhaps Disco is still struggling with the definition of a tautology. I’m happy to say I’ve got past that stage 🙂 To make a schoolboy or university debater point, when a tautology i set up as a DC, the raising of any rebuttal argument by opp automatically gives the debate to gov(by the highest possible margin:-)), since you cannot rebut a tautology.

    I’m also very comfortable with faith being followed by evidence, but am unable to contribute anything to Disco’s query as to why those raised in a theist religion find it more believable since I’m less comfortable with psychology than I am with faith and logic.

    I detect two arguments raised in the last comment by Disco. First, that time is merely a by product of the cyclical expansion and contraction of the universe and second, that the uncaused cause is also necessarily bound by time.

    Disco posits the idea that the universe system as a whole is infinite, although it has finite manifestations of contraction and expansion. But this is the contradiction that the atheist faces when positing an infinite universe. How does one conceive of finite manifestations within infinity? Finity necessarily invokes time, and thus time is essential in understanding the contraction and expansion model. I reiterate that Disco presents no alternative model within the ‘infinite universe’ hypothesis for the existence of the cosmos. If the idea is that the universe is infinite, then time is taken out of the equation and so is the contraction and expansion model. The idea that time is a by product of the ‘finite manifestation’ is to fundamentally mistake a conceptual necessity for a by product. Time is not created through a process. It is, if one were to accept either the Kantian or Newtonian conceptions, either an absolute entity or a mental construct to deal with the observed temporal succession of physical states. It is thus not contingent on some condition, but a necessary idea if one were to express meaningfully any idea about temporality. The difficulty Disco has is to reiterate a point, the fact that his model necessarily invokes time. Even if he were to suggest that before the contraction, expansion process time did not exist, he would be contradicting himself since the idea of ‘beforeness’ also invokes time. Time thus operates within the cosmos and any effort to show that it is inoperative outside the cosmos is meaningless.

    But does the uncaused cause fail the same test? Hardly. Since the uncaused cause does not utilise a cyclical process or any other temporal concept to explain its existence, it is without time and does not necessitate the invocation of the idea of time. Its ontological existence is unbounded by time and thus, is not an ‘actual’ infinite in the sense that I have used the word in relation to the universe. As an aside, theists argue that the existence of a contingent universe as opposed to a necessary one that flows from the uncaused cause is demonstrable evidence of the personal nature of the uncaused cause, since an infinite being bringing abut a contingent effect demonstrates the decision making power of the uncaused cause.

  73. Do logical and philosophical arguments count as proof?
    ******************
    There is nothing logical in the uncaused cause argument that proves God. Because God would have to be caused.

    I’m sorry Archangel is being wilfully ignorant to my Tooth Fairy or man under the bed analogies. There is no reason for me to consider that God exists. None.

  74. No Atheist Jew, the uncaused cause by definition does not have to be caused. And before you call this a tautology, refer my response to Disco Bob as to why it is not. The uncaused cause is the logical alternative to an infinite regression of causes. You think the world is infinite? Care to explain how tomorrow is infinity + 1 day in that case? Two others have tried before you…

  75. Dear People,

    The pressures of work, alas, have mad it well nigh impossible to respond to this article yet, more so for the fac t that i havent even read the entirity yet, but, God willing, i will soon.

    p.s, Is a bell, Fanny… Hello!

    P.P.S. i did however, manage to go through some of the comments, or at least look at the people who have submitted there comments, and it does seem rather strange that only a handful of people have actually engaged in this debate, to the extent that, to an outsider, we get the guilty feeling that we are eavesdropping on a private, and mildly inebriated, dicussion. Just a thought 🙂

  76. My Jewish friend, you have still missed my point. Perhaps some visual aids would be appropriate.

    To argue that a tooth fairy does not exist may be plausible due to the fact that we have a mental image of what to expect.
    Similarly, we tend to have a mental image of what the invisible man ought to be like, though we cannot see him (if you did not have a mental reference point, you would not be able to dream about him, since you would not know what to expect)

    As for God, this mental image is either false or non-existent. Thus, evidence for His existence cannot be prima facie appreciated due to the lack of an appropriate reference point.
    This is due to the fact that God, by definition, is beyond human comprehension. You cannot begin with the presumption that God is a mental construct. This must necessarily be your conclusion. The only reference point you have to God is the profile you have created in your effort to disprove him. If you have prior knowledge of what God is supposed to be, then he is not God, perhaps you are. Whereas, the only manner in which we can allegedly understand Him (the real God) is by experiencing him. I hope this is sufficiently clear, and your next comment is not a mere blank accusation.

    Thank you for reading.

  77. Sophist, Disco apologises for his prolixity, but some arguments cannot be made with simple sentences. He also denies any affiliations with the legal profession.

    Niran, as far as Disco knows, a tautology is defined as ‘an empty or vacuous statement composed of simpler statements in a fashion that makes it logically true whether the simpler statements are factually true or false’. While conceding that the term ‘empty or vacuous’ is a little harsh, please refer the second half of the sentence. Your conception of an uncaused cause is ‘by definition’ an infinite and unbounded agent capable of creating a universe effect by virtue of its very existence. Just because it’s conceivable doesn’t make it true: to put it simply, Disco can imagine a pink elephant (he may even have seen one a couple of nights ago!), but that does not mean one actually exists. Nevertheless, Disco is glad that you do not see yourself as sticking to schoolboy definitions. Perhaps there are necessary illusions, after all 😛

    Disco at no point argues that the uncaused cause needs to be bounded by time, only that there is no necessity for such a thing to exist. Disco reminds you that your premise for its existence is that there can be no viable alternative. Disco’s point is that his cyclical universe is at least as plausible as your uncaused cause, because they both buttress their credibility ‘by definition’. However, Disco had a dream last night where the cyclical universe made even more sense, and he will try to share with you the euphoric joy of discovery by clarifying a couple more points regarding it.

    If, as Disco posits, ‘the observed temporal succession of physical states’ Niran wrote about occurs only during the finite manifestations of the accordion universe, then the universe itself remains outside this frame of reference. Our ‘hardwiring’, to borrow The Atheist Jew’s phrase, discourages us from seeing that this is possible. But even to modern day science, time is no longer the Kantian or Newtonian concept as Niran claims it is. For example, it has been found that subatomic particles can occupy many places at the same time — perhaps every possible place in the electron orbital, for example, which may be why atoms don’t go around accidentally crashing into one another. Disco is not an expert on quantum physics, but he knows that at a subatomic level the concept of time as we conceive it does not exist. Why, then, should we insist that time exist in a conceivable manner outside the finite manifestation of an infinite universe?

    The very concept of finiteness arises only because Disco’s model expands and contracts. This gives rise to the ‘temporal succession of physical states’. But outside this manifestation, there is no reason to suppose that time as we conceive can exist at all. The infinite universe is unbounded by time, ‘by definition’, just as Niran’s uncaused cause is. The categories of ‘before and after’, if they have been used to explicate the argument (and Disco is not entirely sure he did)), it is because conceiving of something so bizarre is not easy using the crutches of language. Disco is not enough of a mathematician to explain this mathematically, neither can he explain it without making up words. This is not quite a ‘Niranian pink elephant definitional cop out’, but a humble expression of Disco’s inadequacy in explicating the possibly ineffable. If you think about it long enough, and keep your mind open enough, perhaps it will make sense to you as well.

    One final point. The ‘infinity + 1’ argument is not one that Disco has bothered countering thus far, but this is not because it is insurmountable. In fact, the concept of infinity Niran uses is flawed in a rather elementary sense, because it tries to perceive infinity as a really big number. In the mathematical sense, infinity is a set whose cardinality is equal to some real subset of that set. In other words, the infinite set is not like a normal set at all. If you add one to infinity, you still get infinity, because in a simpler definitional sense, infinity is a number you can add to without changing its size. Like the concept of a cyclical universe, this is a difficult one to engage with. Consider the ancient paradox: how can you get from A to B without crossing an infinite number of points along the way? And if the number of points along the way is infinite, how can you ever get to B?

    The solution to this problem was initially approximated through calculus, and later refined by the mathematician George Cantor, who differentiated finite and infinite sets. This is where it gets really complicated, because through this model, it is possible to get from infinite sets other infinite sets that are larger than the initial infinite set. There are entire branches of mathematics dealing with these infinite sets (possibly an infinity of infinite sets) and to discuss them further here would be rather pointless. The point of this digression is to show Niran that his insistence of the ‘infinity + 1’ problem is not quite the be-all or end-all of the argument he presumes it to be. Nevertheless, Disco would like to thank Niran for trying 😀

    Ranil, good to see you. Please don’t try to steal Is a Bell.

  78. I really don’t see the point of Disco’s first paragraph and find this line of Disco’s rather tiresome. Maybe he dislikes my definition of the uncaused cause, in which case he’s free to come up with one of his own. I make no apologies for using definitions in trying to understand concepts so long as the definition is not the argument for the ‘truth’ of what is described in the definition. I agree with Disco that just because you can conceive of an uncaused cause doesn’t mean it exists. Disco concedes as much when he proceeds to engage the idea itself and in the process destroying his own allegation of ‘tautology.’ I wish I could console Disco, but I really don’t know what he’s crying about in the first place.

    The eternal cyclical universe is not as plausible at first blush as the infinite uncaused cause because the accordion universe necessitates the invocation of the idea of time, which is why Disco has to maneuvre his position in order to avoid the implications of time. The uncaused cause however does not explain its existence on a physical succession of states, and thus, no concept of time is needed. More on that later.

    Disco speculates that outside of the ‘accordion’ manifestation, time would not be necessary. I would agree. Where there is no matter existent so to speak, time as a concept is meaningless. However, Disco’s universe or cosmos IS the accordion manifestation. That is his conception of the universe. And that conception invokes time. Outside that manifestation, there is no matter, no succession of physical states, and no time. To speculate on whether this timelessness affects the system as a whole is to repeat myself, to draw a line where no line exists. The system as a whole, if indeed it posits a physical succession of states, is bound by the concept of time.

    Re subatomic particles this is what Disco has to say : “but he (Disco) knows that at a subatomic level the concept of time as we conceive it does not exist.” This conclusion follows from the scientific finding that “for example, it has been found that subatomic particles can occupy many places at the same time”

    Er… I haven’t the foggiest clue about quantum physics myself but am I the only one who thinks that’s a little strange. Particles exists at the same TIME in different places and therefore time as we know it doesn’t exist?

    In concluding this particular point it seems to me that Disco’s assertion that time exists outside the ‘finite manifestation’ at the very least requires the universe to ‘exist’ ontologically in a matterless (if that is even a word) form, because the acknowledging of matter implies a physical state of being, and thus a physical succession of states, even if the states do not change. So, if Disco is to avoid time, he must posit the absence of matter as being a characteristic of the universe outside the accordion manifestation. Yet, that begs the question, how was matter caused? The theist argues more plausibly that the uncaused cause provides this ‘matterless’ being outside the universe system.

    On infinity + 1, I’d like to direct Disco to the point where I argued that an infinite set can exist mathematically, but it is impossible to create an ‘actual’ infinite set of events as opposed to abstract numbers. Craig deals with Cantor’s paradoxes by referring to the Hilbert’s hotel analogy, where additional guests can check in without anyone checking out, while the number of guests remain the same. Craig suggests that you would have to have a sign that read “No vacancies- guests welcome”. This is clearly an absurd state of affairs, and brings us back to the problem of “is tomorrow infinity + 1 day” or does the effluxion of time lose all meaning within the idea that the universe is infinite. The theist’s answer is much more plausible, an actual time bound set of real events cannot exist. Therefore the universe had a beginning which was caused by the uncaused cause.

    It seems to me that the vanishingly small evidence is a little more compelling and a little more difficult to dismiss than the atheist first thought. 🙂

  79. ranil… hon you just made my day 🙂

  80. i see niran is still suckling on craig.

  81. the picture show was really funny. i get the point now.
    Ranil, u finally decide to show up? Out 4 the weekend? wut r ur thoughts on this? it’ll be soooo refreshing 2 hear another view. not that i’m dissin disco, niran and the atheist jew….it just that i think they’r all just tryin to hold on to pride…no one will ever giv in. nyway! who cares…this has been a better discussion than the last 1 where u guys just picked on women!!!!! btw, no one answered my question on where satan fits in????!! any thoughts?

  82. Dear all,

    just a few comments, and my sincere apologies if my own meanderings on this matter are not in confluence with the general theme of this debate.

    Having said so, i have, through my own personal experiences with both religion and doubt, realised that firstly, doubt is common to both believers and non-believers. Both parties have, at some point or the other, perused a path though there own personal gardens of gethsemene. And both parties, have, at some point in there belief in the existence or not of God, have doubted there own position. I can think of no Christian, however strong the belief, who has not, at some point, questioned his/her belief. Neither can i think of any Aethist i know, who has not, at some point, asked whether he himself, could be totally wrong.

    And this is what faith, boils down to, We have chosen a path, and, use reasoning to justify it. No person reasons the existence of God, and, through a method of deduction, decide that God does not exists! Neither does any believer come to a conclusion on the existence of God, through sceintific reasoning.

    What we chose to do in such matters, is, having come to a position from our own lfe experiences, then seek to justify our positions by what ever means possible.

    Which brings me to my second point. Why chose to justify? Admit that our reasonings are based on our beliefs. Any aethist here, did not becoming one purely by perusing EVERY sceintific paper and opinion ever made on this matter, and on nuture per se.
    Neither does a believer believe, purely based on reasoning.

    My personal opinion, is that our beliefs, either for or against God, our personal. We have looked within ourselves, and either founds greater meaning, or a fathomless void. Both parties have come to terms with what we found.

    All i can say to a aethist, is that, while i respect your beliefs, i do not think it feasible that you should try to explain yourself through reasoning. Because science is such that, for what ever you quote to justify your position, there is a great likelihood that the opposite can be proved as well.

    All i can say to a believer, is that, again, while i respect your belief, i dont think using science/reasoning, is feasible. We ourselves are flawed, thus it stands to reason that, our reasons themselves, are not infallible.

    In the end, it is a belief. And beliefs are not quantifiable. Neither, can they be properly explained. To do so, would, somehow, sully the belief we started out to defend.

  83. Niran likes Craig a lot. Atheists don’t. Wonder why?

  84. Niran, thank you for that. Since accusations of tautology obviously upset you, Disco will withdraw it and prostrate himself in humble apology. Not really, but the thought might make you happier. Perhaps ‘argument by assertion’ is a better description? 😉 But let’s leave this sniping behind and move on to the more intelligently fun stuff.

    Regarding subatomic particles: the point is that quantum physics is so unintuitive that concepts like time become inadequate. The use of the word time in Disco’s sentence ‘subatomic particles can occupy many places at the same time’ only reaffirms the inadequacies of human concepts in dealing with this: that the statement seems self-contradictory is pretty much the point. If one thing can exist at two places, then time as a human concept is necessarily flawed, and cannot be said to exist at the subatomic level. Similarly, the accordion manifestation can be part of an overarching system for which the human conception of time does not apply. As Disco said earlier, this is very difficult to grasp. Einstein spent thirty years of his life trying to reconcile quantum physics with physics in the observable universe. He failed.

    Disco has dwelt long on the accordion universe, but he must reiterate, he uses this only as an example of a counter theory to the uncaused cause. There are other theories out there, such as the multiverse concept, which Disco is not sufficiently conversant in to bring up as yet. Anisha also brought up the by-product theory and the finite without creator theory. Niran’s response, that ‘by positing that the universe might have ‘just happened’ I hope the atheist is not suggesting that finite things randomly pop into existence out of nothing. There’s almost no point arguing once you get to this point’ is a tad hypocritical. Qualitatively, this is little different from asserting the existence of a ‘matterless’ creator about which nothing can be known, who pops the universe into being out of nothing. All Anisha’s ‘finite universe sans creator’ theory does is take out one additional ineffability.

    Let’s put that on hold and focus on Niran’s problem of ‘infinity + 1’. Hilbert’s hotel only serves to illustrate the difficulty the human mind has in dealing with counterintuitive concepts as mentioned above. Is Niran suggesting that ‘it is impossible to create an ‘actual’ infinite set of events’ simply because it is counterintuitive? If not, please explain why it is impossible, without resorting to the words ‘self-evident’.

    My dearest Is a Bell, the discussion of particular religious narratives has been avoided thus far, because the atheist position (soft or hard) doesn’t concern itself about the non-existence of the Christian god or the Hebrew god or the Muslim god. Satan is one component of a particular family of religious beliefs, represented in the mainstream by the above. (As an aside, Disco has read of a tribe somewhere in the Middle East, which worshipped satan for his rebellion against the Abrahamic god concept, much to the irritation of their more ‘conventional’ neighbours). Satan can’t fit into the argument unless the first premise of god is affirmed. After that, it’s a religious squabble. On the matter of no one giving in, of course, you’re probably right.

    Ranil, Disco feels that this discussion has an additional utility beyond the matter at hand, which, let’s face it, is highly unlikely to be resolved through a blog. This has been a fascinating mental exercise, and hopefully we’ve all learnt something. For example, Disco had never heard about this Niran-suckling Craig before. Now he has! 😀

  85. Disco, I’m really sorry you don’t like my definitions mate. I’m sorry that you have thrown around ‘tautology’ and ‘argument by assertion’ when my claims were obviously falsifiable. The sheer number of words you used to falsify what was apparently an argument by assertion makes me wonder why you made the allegation in the first place? You have never contended my point which is the illogic of trying to argue against a tautology. What disappoints me is not the charge of making a tautologous argument, but your flat refusal to even defend that point.

    Regarding your argument about subatomic particles, I fail to see how a thing existing in two places at the same time demonstrates how time does not exist at a sub atomic level. If there was ever an argument by assertion, this is one. If the thing exists in two places at different times, there’s no problem. If the two things exist at the same time in different places, then you are invoking time. The example may make us think differently about matter(I’m not even sure it does), not time.

    The challenge for the atheist is to put forward a plausible alternative. I’m sorry that the atheist is struggling to wrap his head around most of the alternatives he provides, but I’d like to think that this is not the theists problem. The difference between the ‘universe pooped out into existence out of nothing’ theory and the uncaused cause theory is that the uncaused cause did not pop into existence. It was uncaused. I’ve set up a hypothesis. The atheists burden is to negate the hypothesis, not to grumble against the definitional parameters of the hypothesis with vague allegations of ‘tautology’ while contradicting himself by providing a few feeble counter hypotheses.

    On ‘infinity + 1’ I argued that the Hilberts Hotel analogy demostrated that an actual, infinite, time based set of events cannot exist. I highlighted the internal contradictions that such an actual infinite set will provide, which is that additional guests can arrive without existing guests checking out while the number of guests remain the same. I suggested that if one were to apply this analogy to events, the effluxion of time loses all meaning, since ‘infinity + 1 day’ would still equal infinity. This means that the ‘1 day’ part of the equation becomes meaningless. It may be that the effluxion of time is not self evident to Disco, although it may be pointed out that in adopting an accordion model of the universe, he unequivocally accepts the effluxion of time as a meaningful phenomenon in the cosmos.

    It seems that this debate is winding down to a close. It’s been an interesting exchange. Many thanks to Disco and Anisha for engaging my arguments and comic relief in the form of Craig suckling references, tooth fairies, pink elephants etc. I must confess the ‘tooth fairy’ allusion seemed a little wittier than the ‘Craig suckling’ allegations that smacked of ad hominem, but standards of humour are never absolute. I’m not complaining, I think ad hominem is a legitimate tool in the pursuit of humour. God bless you all, since it seems there is more than good reason to believe in his existence(with apologies to feminists and inanimate matter).

  86. Niran, Disco finds you a trifle too easy to wind up. The smileys used in his last two posts were indicators of his jestful intentions. Given your apparently sincere sensitivity on this, Disco now finds himself in the unusual position of being actually contrite. Hence, no smiley.

    Disco is rather busy at work right now so he cannot engage each of your points in detail. Briefly: regarding the subatomic universe, Disco’s point was not that time does not exist, but that time ‘as a human conception’ is inadequate to describe it. Nevertheless, he gladly accepts your concession that we may have to think differently about matter at a subatomic level, even if we do not change our concept of time.

    This possibility is important, because the argument throughout the latter part of this debate has centred around the premise that the universe is caused. The principle of causation, a la the Newtonian law of motion, posits that every cause has an effect and vice versa. At a subatomic level, this does not hold true. Subatomic particles move about in all manner of kinky ways without any cause whatsoever. This is the way they are. If at a subatomic level, things happen without a cause, it is just about possible the same concept holds at a cosmic level. This was the point of all of Disco’s admittedly convoluted iterations of an accordion argument.

    Disco really needs to get back to work, so he will leave you for the moment. But he has one final word on infinity left to add, and after that, perhaps, as Niran suggests, this particular debate will wind down. It’s been fun.

  87. Oh goody. Looks like a new argument there. Seems like you’re positing the Hawking-Hartle quantum gravity model right? If that is the case, let me know. One point though – the fact that sub atomic particles move around doesn’t explain the existence of the sub atomic particles. The same holds for a cosmic extension of the same principle. Oh another point, not as a challenge but out of curiosity- how does the accordion model point raise out of the kinky sub atoms finding?

  88. *rise out

  89. Niran, very briefly, the accordion model did not arise from the kinky subatoms finding, but was a macro model which exposed the necessary limitations of human perceptions in dealing with time. The quirky quantum findings represent another illustration of this, albeit at the micro level. Even more briefly, the problem with the Hilbert hotel applied to a ‘physical’ infinite set is that infinity is a matter of convergence.

    Circumstances compel Disco to bugger off now, but he hopes to be back soon to tackle the remaining loose ends. Till then, may the uncaused cause keep you happily occupied 😉

  90. And may you try to wrap your head around and dream up all sorts of alternatives that are beyond human conceptions of space and time. Good luck 🙂

  91. BRUDDERS IN DA HOOD,

    I’M BACK… (WITH A VENGEANCE, AS ONE MAY POPULARLY PUT IT!)

    NIRAN, I’M PROUD OF YOU SON; YOUR INTELLIGENCE WAS PIQUED AND YOU CAME OUT FLYING! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK; GOD NEEDS INTELLIGENT YOUNG SOULS LIKE YOU!

    DISCO, DON’T BE DISHEARTENED BY MY APPRECIATION OF NIRAN; I AM EQUALLY IMPRESSED WITH YOUR MANY TALENTS AND WIDE KNOWLEDGE. MAY YOU PROSPER AND CONTINUE TO ASK DIFFICULT QUESTIONS… THE WORLD CAN ONLY BENEFIT FROM YOUR EXSTENCE!

    SOPHIST, I LOVE YOU AS I LOVE ALL MY CREATION… DUNG BEETLES, BULL TICKS AND LICE INCLUDED. MY DAUGHTER, YOU TOO ARE A DIGNIFIED CREATURE; NEVER EVER FORGET THAT!

    ISABELL AND FANNY, YOU MAKE ME SMILE! AND THATS SAYING A LOT; CONSIDERING I’VE BEEN AROUND FOREVER!

    AGRADEVADUTA, MY CHILD, YOU ARE SOMEONE SPECIAL; AND I MUST WARN YOU THAT GABRIEL IS PRETTY FUCKING PISSED OFF AT YOU CHEAP SENSATIONALIST ATTEMPTS TO PIGGY BACK OFF HS POPULARITY!

    AETHIST JEW; MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

    OK THATS ALL FOLKS… FOR NOW… I LOVE YOU MORE THAN MICHAEL JACKSON DOES!

    PEACE!

  92. God, stop being such a sensationalist. Carry off your infinite power with some dignity will you…

  93. Oh Disco, just read through the first part of your previous post and realised what you were trying to say about the smileys. I though that allusion was to winding down the debate. Oh please. go ahead. Jest is fine and much appreciated. You must accept however that the repetitive feminine whining,or shall I say lady like complaining of what you must concede is not a tautology, however cute it may be, sometimes gets a little tedious. Plus it doesn’t seem to be becoming of your respectable and straightforward style 🙂

  94. Niran, to put it so bluntly, Disco stopped insisting on the tautology soon after his jibe about you resembling a schoolboy debater. Everything after that on tautology or argument by assertion was bait to rile you up further. It worked! 😀

  95. By the way, Disco sincerely apologises for employing such an unseemly guerilla tactic. He promises not to do it again, though it was fun while it lasted.

  96. God, eternal universe, ladies and gentlemen: Disco Bob has found this debate fascinating, challenging and edifying. He extends his thanks to Archangel, for having blogged on this to begin with; to Niran, who has been a fantastic foil; to Anisha and The Atheist Jew, for demonstrating the vibrant diversity of atheism; and to everyone else who kept the fire of argument raging or provided light relief during it. Disco has returned to provide his valedictory words: there are a few lingering fogs to clear up, and after that is done, his part in this debate will end.

    As Niran very helpfully indicates, an undertaking to wrap one’s mind around alternate realities, which significantly differ from human conceptions of space and time, is not an easy exercise. But it’s been fun. Disco’s problem with the ‘effluxion of time’, as Niran puts it, is that time as a human concept may not be applicable at a cosmic level, much in the same way that it is wonky at a subatomic level. Whether this possibility overcomes Niran’s problem with the accordion model is debatable, but Disco will not resume the argument here. (Having developed an almost paternal fondness for the concept, though, he will undertake to explore and refine the model further in his spare time).

    Instead, Disco will address the ‘infinity + 1’ problem that is central to the Kalam cosmological argument as postulated by Craig’s (allegedly breast fed :-P) acolyte. The Hilbert hotel is a mathematical paradox that underscores the counterintuitive qualities of the infinity concept. Unlike what Niran posits above, however, it does not follow that physical infinity is impossible. What it does illustrate is why the concept is counter-intuitive: when we think of hotels, we tend to think of concrete things; when we think of guests, we tend to think of a finite number of people. Once we start thinking in these finite terms, the hotel paradox seems absurd.

    It would be a grave mistake to assume that infinity’s counterintuitive nature is necessarily a limitation on its applicability to the physical universe. The statement ‘additional guests can arrive without existing guests checking out while the number of guests remain the same’ tends to treat infinity as an actual number. The point of infinity is that it is not. Standard mathematical operations do not apply. If infinity is n, n + 1 also equals n. n + a gazillion still equals n. Even n + n equals n. If there ‘actually’ were an infinite number of guests at the hotel, and if the hotel was ‘actually’ infinite, the ‘internal contradiction’ does not occur.

    To say that infinity is fine as a mathematical concept and not so fine when applied to physical events creates a distinction which functions through an assumption. Unfortunately, it seems to Disco that this assumption is that physical events are necessarily finite. That would make the argument circular. If the premise that an actual infinite is impossible is flawed, then the Kalam cosmological argument does not stand. No wonder Niran defends his ‘infinity + 1’ argument so ardently. To reiterate: he says it is meaningless to claim that Infinity + 1 day still equals infinity. The problem here is that he still thinks of infinity as an actual number. It is not. Whether you’re talking about abstract numbers or an infinite physical universe, you can never ‘reach’ infinity. You can only converge on it.

    Even this, at the end of the day, is not such a big deal for Disco. There are so many concepts around whose proof or disproof does not materially alter anything. There are many other concepts around, which ‘actually’ correct or incorrect, simply cannot be disproved. Solipsism, which Disco mentioned in a tiny little post way above, is one such concept. Briefly, it posits that all certain knowledge ends with knowledge of one’s own mind. If you think about it, there’s no way to disprove that. Similarly, perhaps there’s no way to logically disprove the uncaused cause hypothesis, except by attacking its premises, such as the lack of an actual infinity.

    But even if one could never disprove the uncaused cause, let Disco mention here for the final time that the ‘uncaused cause’ argument doesn’t actually explain anything. The existence of the universe is an evident fact (unless you’re a solipsist). To explain it by talking about an ineffable, infinite, abstract, extra-natural designer who ‘poops’ it into being actually explains nothing. In the search for answers, the theist explanation of an uncaused cause is a mighty shrug of the shoulders masked by an evasive reference to an extra-natural architect. Under the rules of logic, and given what we now know about the universe, it is the best they can do. Disco can’t but help admire their intransigence. Science has eroded so many of the historical claims concerning god that it would almost be disappointing if the theist argument one day falls to its unstoppable hammer.

    This brings Disco to his final point regarding this entire argument. Religion IS a deeply personal thing, and for those of you who have ‘personal experience’ of god, this argument may seem almost a personal affront. Disco is glad that God, in his post above, has taken such a magnanimous view :-). He hopes others will as well.

  97. Well, I am really disappointed. Disco’s previous post gave me the impression he was about to embark on an attempt to demonstrate how the universe can ‘poop’ into existence a la Hawkings and Hartle. That debate promised much, but ultimately proved to be a non starter. It was perhaps, one of the only areas that was left untouched vis a vis the cosmological argument on this thread. Instead, Disco’s post sees a rehash of some of the other ideas posited by him on this thread. The one area that saw a substantial development of Disco’s position was his critique of my argument that an actual time bound infinite cannot exist. Disco suggests that the Hilbert Hotel analogy is flawed. He argues that the hotel analogy immediately imports ‘finite’ presuppositions into the debate. To me the debate centres around this issue, because it’s the same as saying that ‘time’ imports ‘finite’ presuppositions. Yes it does, that’s the whole point. Is an ‘actual infinite’ even possible, or is it a mathematical construct? Can an infinite be produced by adding years on top of years, and what model best explains our assumptions that the effluxion of time is real. Does an ‘infinite universe’ hypothesis support what we already assume about time. ‘Time’ is not a bare assumption. It is a fundamental construct upon which we base any meaningful statement about the changing of physical states of being. It is a fundamental construct upon which Disco’s accordion model rests. It is in many ways, inescapable.

    This is why it has been important for Disco to seek to obliterate the notion that time necessarily exists where matter exists. He attempted to show that the fact that sub atomic particles move around in a vacuum in different places at the same time demonstrates that time is not what we think it is. But the problem persists in that he imports time in order to even demonstrate the abnormality of the movements of these particles. Further, on a cosmic level he chooses not to grapple with the question of how those particles came to be in the first place.

    I think we all agreed that at the end of the day, this debate is not about adducing 100% proof for either side. It is about the plausibility of the idea that you present. Which idea seems to be the one that makes more sense of what we know and accept is true. The uncaused cause, the definition of which has caused much distress to Disco, fits in perfectly with our understanding and assumptions of time and infinity. The atheists hypothesis requires a leap of faith that seeks to unshackle him from the very idea of time, even though the his very ideas about the universe don’t help him leap very far. He wishes to reinvent one of human kind’s fundamental premises, that matter which begins to exist must have a cause.

    All this stemmed from the confident assertion that the chances that God existed are ‘vanishingly small’. It seemed to be the assertion of a position that had full confidence than no evidence existed, that the idea of God was thoroughly implausible. Instead we have seem an articulate but scrambling defence of the atheist faith in the light of Christianity and Islam’s oldest argument.

    We also saw the atheist position move from a strictly scientific stance, to one that began to adopt philosophy and logic with equal ease. I hope this thread buries the notion that the answers to these questions could be limited to scientific observation.

    Disco hits the spot when he says faith is personal. It is, but it’s ramifications are universal. The Christian faith urges adherents to live out their faith, in private and public. This may seem unduly obtrusive and dictatorial, but if you think about it, the atheist faith and the agnostic faith implore their adherents to do the same thing. That is why this question has probably been the most debated of all time. it is intensely personal, and yet so critical.

  98. have a question each for niran and disco. first niran, isnt it arbitary to insist on cause of every effect but not ask how god got there? then disco, even if infinity is possible how does it disprove god?

  99. The word “atheist” doesn’t describe what a person believes in, it merely describes what they don’t. In the case of an atheist, what they don’t believe in is the existences of a god or gods. There is no list of beliefs which are contigent on calling oneself an atheist.

    Being an atheist doesn’t require beliefs. Though a person who calls themsemves an atheist may have many beliefs, no beliefs, or some beliefs. None of which are contigent on calling themselves an atheist.

  100. Theja, that’s a good question. I guess you want to know how I avoid the question of ‘what caused the uncaused cause?’ There are two answers. A logical answer, and a meaningful one that explains why the logical answer is not a cheeky debating tactic.

    The logical answer is to remind the questioner that the question is nonsensical. An uncaused cause by definition has no cause. This answer seemed to get Disco’s goat and it may look like it’s a cop out but it’s not.

    This is where the meaningful answer comes in. The fundamental postulate of the theist in this case would be that “everything that begins to exist must have a cause.” Since God did not begin to exist, he does not need to be caused. This is very reasonable, since it makes no sense to ask whether something was caused if it existed for all eternity. If it is infinite, it just was. But the atheist may say, “hold on a minute, if you can say that about God, I can say the same about the universe. It just was” That’s perfect and at first blush there’s nothing wrong with that statement. But the theist comes back with the argument that the universe or cosmos cannot have existed for all eternity. The theist rests his argument for the impossibility of a finite, time bound universe on several arguments, one of which I have dealt with in the debate with Disco Bob. If the universe is not infinite, then it was caused and you go back in this regression of cause and effect until you reach the uncaused cause. If there’s no uncaused cause however, you keep going backwards infinitely, which again is impossible for the reasons stated. So the theist concludes that the uncaused cause exists.

    Hope that clears up the doubt that caused the question. It’s an admittedly complicated area and I wish i had the linguistic skills to expound on these concepts with greater lucidity, but this is the best I can do. I guess jargon is the last resort of the language impaired.

  101. Beep, do you believe that God does not exist?

  102. Niran, do you believe that the Tooth Fairy does not exist? If your answer is no, does this mean your answer is based on faith?

  103. I should rephrase it. Does it take faith to believe that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist? Does it take faith to believe that Thor was not a God?

  104. What is a tooth fairy? Who and what is Thor? What are their properties? What is your understanding of God?

  105. I AM WHO I AM!

  106. thank you niran for that answer. i still dont get why you argue god is not party to the same standards. don’t get me wrong as i still believe in god. but if god is without limit why isnt the universe? disco please answer. thank you.

  107. Thor, God, and the Tooth Fairy all have the exact same evidence going for them. They are all inventions of man.
    You didn’t answer my questions Niran: Does it take faith to believe that Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist and does it take faith to believe that Thor doesn’t exist? I’ll add a third question: What are the properties of your God?

    Now try answering before asking me more questions.

  108. Theja, perhaps you should scroll up to a few of my comments. God is not constituted of matter, and thus the concept of time does not arise in explaining his existence, since time is a necessary concept to explain the temporal succession of physical states. If God is not a time bound physical infinite entity, you don’t invoke time, and thus infinity becomes possible.

  109. *Since i argued that the infinity of an actual infinite set is impossible within a time bound reality.

  110. Atheist Jew, Shalom my friend. I gave you one argument for the existence of an uncaused cause. You replied with only one line of rebuttal. In the absence of disproving the uncaused cause hypothesis it’s a little rich of you to keep asserting that there’s no proof of his existence. Unless you’re taking a leaf out of Disco’s book and find that tactic amusing :-).

    As for the sexy tooth fairy, who is she? What does she do and what does she look like? Please refer me to any material arguing for her existence, because I don’t know what the evidence is. I’ll then explain what i think about her…

  111. just as a suggestion niran, while also considering your great appetite for reading on the area, why not look into some of the arguments against (and/or arguments bringing up viable alternatives against) your beloved craig theory? See – http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theism/christianity/craig.html

    the domain sounds dubious but the articles are not… and of course i’m sure there are far superior resources of similar material online.
    this is not to convince you against your own beliefs of course… but just for arguments sake i ask you to consider especially the first para in http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/davies.html so that you may understand the rationale behind why, although you seem irretrievably convinced on craigs theory, others continue to see problems with it and therefore prefer alternative positions. I haven’t had time to go through everything but i’m sure you’ll find philosophical, scientific and other arguments that question the assumptions involved in all you’ve been repeating above.
    in the end each persons stand takes a leap of faith.

  112. RE: “Beep, do you believe that God does not exist?”

    NO. I DON’T BELIEVE that god exists. (That is why I said that the word “atheist” describes what someone does NOT BELIEVE, not what they do believe.

    People who assume otherwise, seem to be semantically challenged.

  113. By the way, I am also an afairyist. I DON’T BELIEVE in the existence of fairies either.

  114. Don’t = do not.

    Do you not believe in God’s existence? Since the opposite of existence is non existence, and the opposite of belief is non belief, we may rephrase the same question, “Do you believe in God’s non existence?”

  115. You seem to one of the semantically challenged. When someone refers to a belief they have, it is not expressed in the negative, it is expressed in the positive.

    Therefore, one says – “I believe in the existence of god”. To express the negative position one replies – “I don’t believe in the existence of god.”

    Or, ” I believe that mankind is going to find a cure for cancer.” Not – “I have a belief that mankind WON’T find a cure for cancer,” but – “I don’t believe that mankind will find a cure for cancer.”

    I hope this has cured your semantic query.

  116. You’re just expressing a semantic preference that suggests you like to use the language in a certain way. There’s no logical difference between an idea expressed negatively and an idea expressed positively in this case. I’m happy you’re the master of semantics, you’ll have no such luck with logic.

  117. Niran, there is no proof that the uncaused cause has anything to do with anything supernatural. The uncaused cause is just a possibility, just as lightning used to be thought of having no other explanation except having to do with God creating it.

    Niram, you are obviously trying to reinvent the definition of faith. It is laughable to me. If you want to call atheism faith, then you are just full of crap to me, but to you with your definition of faith, you are making sense.

    Who says the Tooth Fairy has a sex, just because the Tooth Fairy has been portrayed as female, doesn’t mean that he/she/it is.

    Do you believe in the Tooth Fairies non existence?
    Do you believe in Thor’s non existence?

    Does it really take faith to believe in their non existence?
    Of course not. The same is true of God.

    Just because something has no definitive explanation TODAY, doesn’t mean God did it. That is called God in the gaps, and the gaps used to be much more gaping the more we turn back the clock.

  118. Niran, you keep saying what God isn’t. What is God? What are his/her/its characteristics? What is your proof of these characteristics?
    Is your only proof that according to your theory of how the universe started, something came from nothing? Is that it? Because that only leads to the possibility of a supernatural event, but it is not nearly conclusive of one as there are many scientific theories out there regarding this and none have to do with a creator.

  119. Please don’t just throw your stock sound bites at me. Give me a credible argument or you’re not worth my time. Solla puts it succinctly “Engage or bugger off” 🙂

  120. Thank you all for the comments. However, I feel that this debate has now become more about defending our positions and egos than understanding other perspectives, and this predicament has led to unnecessary repetition.
    Atheist Jew, your tooth fairy analogy is clearly insufficient in terms of explaining the lack of evidence for God’s existence, since my argument on a preconceived reference point has not been addressed. Continued use of the analogy merely reflects your obstinence and refusal to consider the limitations of the analogy. I hope you either abandon the analogy or at the very least address the challenge.
    Disco and Niran, your views have been greatly thought provoking and deserves republishing. However, too much has been said without consideration of the confusion that the reader may encounter in attempting to follow your arguments. I think it is perhaps essential that both of you submit your final positions in bullet form and in a highly concise manner for the benefit of all.
    Anisha, your views are highly respected since you have maintained a consistent position and have been flexible enough to understand my point about the existence of faith or reliance in terms of maintaining an atheist perspective.
    The others, I feel you have contributed greatly towards this discussion though not to the same extent as those mentioned above. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.
    Thank you for reading

  121. time for a new post…. booooringggg…..

  122. The concept of “hope” expressed as a positive statement: – a.”I hope that mankind will live in peace and harmony.” The negative response is NOT – b.”I hope that mankind will not live in peace and harmony.” The concept of “hope” expressed in the negative or as the opposite of hope is: – c.”I don’t hope that mankind will live in peace and harmony.”

    The concept of “wish” expressed as a positive statement: — a. “I wish for a bicycle for my birthday.” The negative response to this statement is NOT – b. ” I wish I don’t get a bicycle for my birthday.” The concept of “wish” expressed in the negative or as the opposite of wish is: – c.” I don’t wish for a bicycle on my birthday.”

    The concept of “belief” expressed as a positive statement: – a. ” We believe that cats are superior to dogs.” The negative response is NOT – b. “We believe that cats are not superior to dogs.” The concept of “belief” expressed in the negative or as the opposite of belief is: – c.” We don’t believe that cats are superior to dogs.”

    In each instance the negative response must refer to the primary intent. The primary intent in each example is “hope”, “wish” or “belief.” In the incorrect method, the negative response refers to “live”, do”, and “superior.”

    I hope that this has cleared it up for you. (The opposite response to this is “I don’t hope that this has cleared it up for you.)

  123. fbkabba, I believe you are right. This debate has become a bit tiresome. However, we must all appreciate the content of the discussion as well as the sociological importance in observing theists and atheists within a confrontational environment. You will indeed receive a new post from me soon. Until then, refer solla’s comment.

    Beep, this is not a semantic debate. So your little lesson is uncalled for. I can assure you, some of the personalities in this discussion can very well take you back to school if it is semantics you want to learn.
    My reference to atheism as a belief system is merely an opinion based on the observation that any conclusion that something we understand very little about i.e. God, does not exist, must rest on certain fundamental presumptions. One such presumption is that our deficient perception is capable of defining something that is by definition beyond comprehension. This is precisely why the tooth fairy analogy has been very poor. We have no clear reference point to what God is supposed to be like in order to empirically establish that He does not exist. However, as this debate has proven, and as many atheists have admitted at this forum, there remain a hypothesis of an uncaused cause which accounts for God’s existence. I shall not delve into the probabilities regarding this hypothesis. However, it is as much a valid idea as the idea of a cyclical universe is.
    The other important issue is the misunderstanding of the faith-evidence dichotomy. (please read my comment on this issue as I abhor repetition. If we have no reference point to God then we cannot appreciate evidence for His existence. To use the tooth fairy example in reverse, if we have no notion of what the tooth fairy is, then we will never know we met one, should we come across it’s path.
    Understanding these points are absolutely essential to engaging in this debate.
    Thank you for reading.

  124. RE: “Beep, this is not a semantic debate. So your little lesson is uncalled for. I can assure you, some of the personalities in this discussion can very well take you back to school if it is semantics you want to learn.”

    The article itself requires a lesson in semantics. It is called – PART I: Do you “believe” in Atheism?

    The question assumes that “atheism” has a set of beliefs. It does not.

    What do you call an atheist with beliefs? Answer: – A secular humanist. So, the article would make sense if it asked the question. ” Do you believe in secular humanism?” The reason the question is inherently flawed is because the word “atheist” only describes someone who doesn’t believe in god. Whereas, secular humanists actually have a set of beliefs. The set of beliefs or the tenets of secular humanism are quite positively and clearly expressed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

  125. Beep, master of semantics, look up the word “irony”. The title was supposed to capture the meaning of that word. Do not interpret everything you read literally. If you look at some of my other titles such as “I have no problem with dark girls, but I would never date one”, it is not to be interpreted literally. It is rather an ironic statement to capture hypocrisy in society.
    This was never a debate on semantics. I hope you have the time to read the debate and then come to your conclusions.

    However, I appreciate your point on secular humanism, and I shall explore this avenue further.

    Thank you for reading.

  126. Is the word “irony” used in the article’s title? Perhaps it is incorporeal..

  127. oh my god!! (no pun intended)!!!!!!
    how old r u, beep? sweetie, havent u heard of an ironic sentence without actually sayin the word “irony” in the sentence. how daft can u get?!??! desperate atheists…everywhere i go, every where i look!!!!!
    question: wudn’t it like defeat the purpose of being ironic if a person includes the word “irony” when he wants to say something ironic. u must be some seriously square teenager who’s mummy makes him go to his room everytime he forgets his table manners!!!! 😉 and u must’ve read up on the word “semantics” somewhere on your highschool english text book and now ur vomitin it out over here. seriously, u are a cunnnin little linguist arfter all! (for all those austin fans!)….get the “irony” in that?! oh shud i have said “IRONIC STATEMENT COMING UP: u are a cunnnin little linguist after all!”….it helps to be frikin simple sumtimes…

  128. what a hilariously affected woman you are!!!

  129. The schoolboy error that Beep makes is to assume is that non belief in A(existence of God) does not entail belief in B(non existence of God), even if rejection of A necessarily leads to conclusion B. There is a C in this case, agnosticism, which is not Beep’s position so B remains the only logical alternative. Beep does not like the word ‘belief’ and would rather attach ‘non belief’ to characterise his position. That’s a little silly, since when only two choices exist, rejection of one position is acceptance of the other. It’s clearly a logical problem.

  130. Don’t get me wrong, but I fail to see the irony in this title. “A Letter to an Atheist – PART I: Do you “believe” in Atheism?”

    Perhaps I am just sick of the usual tu quoque fallacy attached to the “atheists have faith too”, or “atheists believe too” fallacies, to see either the humour or the irony.

  131. To determine the meaning of the words one needs to understand the definition of the root or base word.

    The original word, “theist” describes someone who believes in the existence of a god, therefore the opposite of that is someone who doesn’t believe in the existence of a god – an atheist.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/theist

    The orignal word, “gnostic” describes someone who claims to have special knowoledge concerning god. Therefore the opposite of this is someone who doesn’t claim to have special knowledge concerning god – an agnostic.

    Example: Late Latin Gnōsticus, a Gnostic, from Late Greek Gnōstikos, from Greek gnōstikos, concerning knowledge, from gnōsis, knowledge; see gnosis.]

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gnostic

    One deals with the concept of KNOWLEDGE about god, and the other deals with the concept of BELIEF in the existence of god.

    In both of those definitions of either an agnostic or an atheist, there is NO description concerning what either of them claims to know or to believe. The definitions exclusively describe what they DON’T believe or what they don’t claim to know.

    If you want to discuss the concept of belief with an atheist, you may find it more conducive to discuss some of the philosophical positions that an atheist may, or may not find compelling, such as materialism, naturalism or secular humanism because these concepts make explicit philosophical statements.

  132. Beep, I think you are right. You have indeed displayed a tendency to assume the worst in any statement you prima facie disagree with.

    It is unfortunate that we all have preconceived notions of each other. That is indeed a problem both theists and atheists alike may have to overcome in order to engage in a respectful and meaningful discussion. We must try not to be dismissive. Since an atheist is constantly questioning the status quo, perhaps he should also question himself. It is only with rigorous scrutiny and rescrutiny that one may stride closer to the truth, should it exist. After all, wasn’t it by questioning long held views that atheism first emerged. If the atheist decides to remain stagnant in his views, then he loses the very essence of what atheism is supposed to represent. Remember, atheism is not merely rejecting God’s existence, but also a political attitude towards the right of every person to make a choice as to what he wishes to believe or not believe in. Thus, the atheist has an inherent duty to remain liberal in his attitude towards how the brain and mind functions. Open-mindedness is the foundational principle that got an atheist to the position he enjoys now, since it was he who fought against the alleged brainwashing of institutionalized religion.

    The purpose of this post was to examine the attitude of modern atheists in relation to the above view. And it seems that atheism is not the philosophical and political liberation it once promised. Atheists today are just as narrow-minded and resilient as the church was 500 years ago. Views seem to be held blindly and without question. I am deeply disappointed that atheism (presuming that it was well represented in this discussion) is more about attempting to win an argument than exploring the deeper tenants of human existence. I therefore fear that it is indeed a belief system since the arrogance and dismissive nature that accompanies it is reminiscent of our church forefathers. The atheist passion that has been displayed here is highly suspicious. It is indeed ironic to find an atheist with passion for his atheism. I assumed fanaticism was reserved for the religions.

    We must at all times question ourselves. Our propensity to question has been a governing factor in human development. Thus in dealing with matters pertaining to a subject we do not fully comprehend, we must always be willing to reconsider.

    Thank you for reading.

  133. I remember that this was an issue of definitions.

    One needs to define the words in order to define the argument.

  134. RE:

    “Beep, I think you are right. You have indeed displayed a tendency to assume the worst in any statement you prima facie disagree with.”

    Now that just seems to be a case of projection. The only issue I have discussed in here is the concept of definitions.

  135. Beep, if you don’t have a word of rebuttal as to why the uncaused cause hypothesis is wrong, your position is not based on faith, rather, it is blind faith!

  136. miron

    RE: Beep, if you don’t have a word of rebuttal as to why the uncaused cause hypothesis is wrong, your position is not based on faith, rather, it is blind faith!

    Well, I wasn’t commemting on that previously, I was discussing definitions. But if you insist.

    The notion of an uncaused cause is a case of special pleading. That is, the concept that everything requires a cause except one is a case of special pleading. Special pleading is a logical fallacy.

  137. On your point of definitions it’s a a little difficult to follow your point since it’s littered with several irrelevant soundbites but you haven’t addressed my point yet about non belief(A) necessarily resulting in belief in non existence (B) as a logical necessity.

    No Beep, it’s not special pleading because the theist posits that everything that “begins” to exist must have a cause, not that everything that exists must have a cause. Please don’t start attacking straw man theists here…

  138. OK, everything that begins to exist must have a cause. How do you evidence that a god is an exception to this rule.

  139. As an inclusion to that, how do you evidence that everything has a beginning except a god.

  140. Now that we’ve disposed of the ridiculous suggestion that the uncaused cause is a logical fallacy, let’s look at your newest line of argument Beep. The uncaused cause is not an exception to the rule that everything that begins to exist must have cause Beep, it does not even fall within that category, since the theist’s uncaused cause hypothesis posits that the this uncaused cause did not begin to exist. It was never caused, never began to exist. In other words, infinite.

    Everything as in the universe and everything in it began to exist because to deny that they began to exist is to posit an actual infinite and to ascribe the existence of the universe to an infinite regression of causes. This is impossible in a time bound universe. I’ve been through this before with Disco Bob the atheist, so just scroll up and look at that debate and come up with better rebuttals than the weak ones you’ve presented already. Then we’ll debate, or else, you’re just a blind faithed believer….

  141. Why no reply on my comment that non belief in existence necessarily results in belief in non existence.

  142. Hey Anisha, just saw your note recommending the infidels site. It’s great. I love that site and had it bookmarked as one of my favourites. Used to read up on quite a few of those articles some time ago. My favourite atheist writers are Michael Martin and Quentin Smith, who actually posits the universe popped out of nothing theory, based on the simultaneity of cause and effect.(Don’t know whether there’s a lot of their writing on infidels though) I remember reading something on the moral argument by Martin, and it’s possibly on infidels, but it was definitely off the net. I hope you’re not assuming that i read Craig and Craig alone. There’s a lot of stuff on Craig like I told you earlier. I think there’s this guy who has set up an entire site dedicated to disproving Craig, contra craig or something, just google it up.

    I’m happy that you’re taking Craig seriously by reading articles that try and disprove his theories. It’s a real improvement from the man who said he probably won’t be bothered to look Craig up.

    Oh and btw, leaderu.org has the transcripts of quite a few debates between Craig and other atheist opponents.

  143. RE: “it does not even fall within that category, since the theist’s uncaused cause hypothesis posits that the this uncaused cause did not begin to exist.”

    This is the same fallacy whether it is expressed as an “uncaused cause” or as something which exists without a beginning. It pleads for an exception.

    That is: 1. Everything has a cause except X. or
    2. Everything has a beginning except X.

    Same fallacy. Special pleading. Logical fallacy.

  144. Special pleading requires an exception to be made where no legitimate ground for exception exists. Everything that is constituted of matter began to exist. The uncaused cause is not constituted of matter. That’s the hypothesis. Legitimate ground. No special pleading. No logical fallacy. No argument by Beep that holds water yet. Believer…

  145. Oh, and the theist does not say that everything began to exist. He says the universe began to exist. The uncaused cause is not a subset of the universe, so there;s no exception in the 1st place. Have you got any real argument man…. and why no reply on my comment on your ‘definition’ argument.

  146. 1.What is the legitimate ground for the case of special pleading to be exempt from being a fallacy?
    2. Where is your evidence that everything that is made of matter began to exist?

    RE: ” The uncaused cause is not constituted of matter.”

    And 3. This is an extraordinary claim. What extraordinary evidence do you have that firstly an uncaused cause exists and secondly that it is not made of matter?

  147. 1. Everything that begins to exist must have a cause, not everything that exists. So there’s no case of an exception here. Even if there is an exception, its based on the distinction that the UC is immaterial and the universe is material.

    2.Scroll up and refer my debate with Disco. Don’t ask me for repetitions of what I’ve already said, give me rebuttals. Or else you look like a weak and blind believer…

    3. refer 2.

  148. You are claiming an exception based on your blind belief that a god is the uncaused cause when you have not demonstrated that this is so. Secondly, you are claiming that the uncaused cause is immaterial when you have been unable to demonstrate this either.

    Thirdly, you are claiming that not only is YOUR god the uncaused cause, but that an uncaused cause if it was required, which I am not convinced that it is, is immaterial.

    You have been unable to demonstrate that any of those claims are true.

    as you have been unable to demonstrate that god is the uncaused causebecause you are claiming that firstly that god is the uncaused cause and secondly that the uncaused cause is immaterial.

    Neither of those positions have you been able to evidence. Obviously, simply assuming the claim that X as an uncaused cause is true does not serve as evidence for that claim.

  149. I’ll try that again as it was a bit jumbled.

    You are claiming an exception based on your blind belief that a god is the uncaused cause when you have not demonstrated that this is so. Secondly, you are claiming that the uncaused cause is immaterial when you have been unable to demonstrate this either.

    Thirdly, you are claiming that not only is YOUR god the uncaused cause, but that an uncaused cause if it was required, which I am not convinced that it is, is immaterial.

    You have been unable to demonstrate that any of those claims are true.

    None of those positions have you been able to evidence. Obviously, simply assuming the claim that X as an uncaused cause is true does not serve as evidence for that claim.

  150. 1. It’s not an exception Beep. The universe is material and the UC is not.

    2. The uncaused cause is a hypothesis. The hypothesis is that the UC is infinite and immaterial. I call this UC God.What’s the problem?

    3. The UC is immaterial because that’s the hypothesis. I’ve given reasons why this is plausible. Your burden to disprove the hypothesis. Your burden believer.

    3. Never claimed to have 100% proof. But the UC hypothesis is a lot more plausible than other alternatives suggested by atheists on this thread. You my dear friend, have provided none. Ever wondered why i keep calling you a blind believer???

    4. I’m not assuming the UC is true. Just that the hypothesis makes sense in the absence of a single rebuttal and meaningful alternatives…

  151. RE: “The UC is immaterial because that’s the hypothesis. I’ve given reasons why this is plausible. Your burden to disprove the hypothesis. Your burden believer.”

    Actually as this is your claim, then the burden is upon you to provide evidence which supports the hypothesis. I don’t make a claim for the beginning of the universe, or an uncaused cause, or a caused cause. These claims are made by you. My job is not to disprove your hypothesis, the burden is upon you to make good your claim with evidence which supports your hypothesis, or the position of the skeptic is epistemologically clear – unsubstantiated claims do not warrent belief. My responsibity as a skeptic is to dismiss your unsubstantiated claims on the basis that they are unsubstantiated. It is not my responsibility to provide evidence against something that you cannot evidence in the first place.

    Example:

    You claim that you can read minds. Your responsibility is to substantiate this claim with evidence. Failing your ability to do so, the skeptic’s only responsibility is to say that they don’t believe you. The skeptic does not have the responsibility to disprove claims which are unsubstantiated.

    Now back to your multitudinous unsubstantiated claims.

    1. You claim that there is uncaused cause.
    2. You claim that this uncaused cause doesn’t require a cause because it is immaterial.
    3. You claim that immaterial entities do not require a cause but that all material ones do.
    4. You claim that this uncaused immaterial cause is a god.
    5. You claim that this uncaused immaterial cause is a god and that it is specifically the god associated with your religion.

    None of these claims have been substantiated.

    Now you call this a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a suggested explanation for a possible correlation between what you see as multiple phenomena. Your problem is that you are unable to demonstrate not only the correlation between an uncaused cause and your specific god belief, but also you are unable to demonstrate the necessity for an uncaused cause. Persuant to this is that you are also unable to demonstrate that an uncaused cause can only be an immaterial one.

  152. The evidence for the uncaused cause is the existence of the universe. I claimed that the uncaused cause hypothesis makes a lot more sense than the alternatives, which is an infinite regression or the idea that the universe popped out of nothing. In fact, it’s the only. If you are unwilling to defend either of these alternatives, or to show problems with the UC hypothesis, then my explanation stands. For substantiations of these claims, refer my debate with Disco. If there are only three answers on a multiple choice question, and two are eliminated, that’s pretty good evidence for why the other answer is the right one. In fact, it is necessarily right. In the same way, the UC necessarily exists. I call this UC God. You want to tell me what I can or can’t call God?

    You can say you don’t believe me all you want, but you still don’t explain why the universe came into being. I’m saying that the UC hypothesis makes a lot more sense than the alternatives. Now get down to business and engage the argument, or continue to look like a pretty blind believer who is shy of getting into an argument on the substantive issues 🙂

  153. Firstly, the universe is evidence of the universe in the same way that an egg is only evidence of an egg unless you can provide evidence that it is a hen’s egg, a crocodile’s egg, a lizard’s egg or a sparrow’s egg.

    Secondly, the discussion was at no point concerning whether or not someone else had made a claim for the universe being created by 2-headed dragons from alpha centari or whether there was a claim that the universe was made from the gaseous explosion of a corpulant blatobeast from Trall. That is, no other claims were made. The discussion was concerning the claims that you explicitly made.

    In other words, you have resorted to the fallacy of the false dilema in order to attempt to substantiate your claim. Let me explain the flawed process you have used a little more clearly. A claim is not substantiated through an “either or policy.” This isn’t a case of either I will have the chocolate icecream or I will have the vanilla. That process assumes that there are only two choices and that one of the choices must be right and that the other choice must be wrong.

    For example:
    I can’t substantiate an argument or a claim that my cat is psychic by claiming that only humans are psychic and that therefore cats are not. I would need to be able to evidence that cats are indeed psychic. Whether or not humans are psychic is irrelevant to the claim unless I can demonstrate how psychic ability can ONLY be a property of humans.

    The false dichotomy or false dilema is a logical fallacy and does nothing to support your large list of unsubstantiated claims.

  154. Beep, how do you explain the universe in terms of causality?

    Ha ha, I love it how you try hard to wriggle out of a proper debate. No, there’s no false dilemma fallacy here, because the infinite regression of causes aka the infinite universe hypothesis and the only logical alternatives. Either the universe was caused, or it popped out of nothing. If it was caused, either the regression of causes stops at a point or the regression is infinite. You’ve got your three alternatives there. It’s that simple really. It’ll be nice if you can cook up any other alternatives and demonstrate their plausibility, but until you do, the UC rules. No, just kidding, the UC hypothesis is more plausible than the negation of the same. But there are no negations from yourself… Come on, throw in an actual argument will you…I’m sick of these preliminary clarifications now 🙂

  155. *the infinite regression of causes aka the infinite universe hypothesis and the universe popped out of nothing theory are the only logical alternatives

  156. As you posit an immaterial uncaused cause, it seems that you support the concept of matter being able to be created by no matter. Interesting.

  157. Yes. Is that an argument? I’m waiting…

  158. That appears to be the argument that theists claim that non-theists use. So it is interesting to me that you would support this argument.

  159. Have you come to your argument yet? These clarifications are getting a little tedious. Of course I’m positing that before the universe began to exist, there was no matter.

  160. I have always taken part in heavy and perhaps, serious discussions like these, some of you might remember Langkawi. I must say, nice post and good comments, however its just too long for me to sit and go through each and every one of them. (sorry:P) Keep it up and I know you SL people can’t stop talking about things like this:P See you at Worlds in my hometown!

  161. So, you are positing that some matter came from no matter or that thing came from nothing. Interesting. Please let science know of this new development. I am sure they will be fascinated.

  162. Hey, looking forward to a Worlds where you don’t have to pawn your balls off to buy a beer.

    Beep, thing didn’t come from nothing. The universe was caused by the UC you see. The UC is not nothing. The idea that matter was created by an immaterial infinite creator has been around for a long time. Scientists like Hawking and Dawkins actually spend a lot of their time debating this contention. Anything else you want me to do except debate you? Don’t be scared. Thrown in an actual argument, just for kicks even…

  163. Lightning was once thought to be caused by the UC. I’m confident science will answer the question of where matter came from originally. Perhaps, not in my lifetime, but if it is in yours Niran, you will still find a way to keep your idea of God alive.

  164. And there are many other hypothesis’ around by scientists right now….none include God. And another thing, it really isn’t correct to state where did matter come from, because matter is created by energy. The question is where did energy come from.

  165. Matter comes from non-matter? Sounds like something coming from nothing to me.

  166. Beep, maybe you’re not hearing right. The UC is not nothing.

    AJ, care to defend even one of those hypotheses here?

  167. http://leiwen.tripod.com/create_matter.htm

  168. Speculative physics beyond the Big Bang
    A graphical representation of the expansion of the universe with the inflationary epoch represented as the dramatic expansion of the metric seen on the left. Image from WMAP press release, 2006. (Detail)

    While the Big Bang model is well established in cosmology, it is likely to be refined in the future. Little is known about the earliest universe, when inflation is hypothesized to have occurred. There may also be parts of the universe well beyond what can be observed in principle. In the case of inflation this is required: exponential expansion has pushed large regions of space beyond our observable horizon. It may be possible to deduce what happened when physics at very high energy scales is better understood. Speculations about this often involve theories of quantum gravitation.

    Some proposals are:

    * models including the Hartle-Hawking boundary condition in which the whole of space-time is finite;
    * brane cosmology models, including brane inflation, in which inflation is due to the movement of branes in string theory; the pre-big bang model; the ekpyrotic model, in which the Big Bang is the result of a collision between branes; and the cyclic model, a variant of the ekpyrotic model in which collisions occur periodically.
    * chaotic inflation, in which inflation starts from random initial conditions for the universe.

    Some of these scenarios are qualitatively compatible with one another. Each entails untested hypotheses.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang#Speculative_physics_beyond_the_Big_Bang

    I’m not knowledgeable to explain any of the hypothesis’ above, but I do know that none of them need a God, or a UC.

    What I do know is that energy can create matter, and different types of matter can be created depending on unique temperatures/entropy.

  169. I would like you to describe the process that non-matter uses in order to create matter.

  170. AJ, sure mater can be converted into energy and vice versa. It still begs the question, what caused the universe, which happens to be composed of matter and energy.

    You’ve listed a few models, only one of which really goes into the question of trying to answer how the universe got here in the first place, the Hawking Hartle model. If you’d like to defend this model it would be nice.

  171. Beep, the process is called creation. Genesis Chapter 1 describes one such model of creation.

  172. So, this non-matter thingie made matter out of non matter. Interesting. Weird, and slightly psychotic, but interesting. Could you explain in detail the processes that this non-matter thingie used to make matter out of nothing.

  173. I only ask because scientists would love to know the processes used. You may be able to help them with their enquiries.

  174. I really don’t know what processes were used. Perhaps scientists in time will let me know, until which time it really doesn’t bother me. I’m happy to let scientists to iron out the details if they can. I’m happy however that you find the idea interesting and not logically objectionable. That’s all I’m interested in really, to demonstrate that theism is logically unobjectionable and a hell of a lot more plausible than atheism notwithstanding claims of weirdness by those who lack a better argument. It’s been nice clarifying your queries, although I would have preferred a debate. Good luck to you.

  175. Well, I don’t find it logical at all. I was only wondering if you could demonstrate how this no-material thingie was able to make matter out of nothing.

  176. Regardless of your personal findings, you must be able to show that the idea have posited is logically objectionable. If the non material thing was a personal omnipotent being, then it follows that it would be able to create matter and energy.

  177. Let’s try this again.

    The above claims were not addressed previously. Perhaps you can address them if I express them

    in this manner.

    1. You cannot demonstrate the necessity for an uncaused cause.
    2. You cannot demonstrate that this uncaused thing is immaterial. (non-matter)
    3. You cannot demonstrate that this uncaused thing be immaterial (non-matter) by necessity.
    4. You cannot demonstrate that a god, as an exception, necessitates that it be uncaused.
    5. You cannot demonstrate that a god, as an exception, necessitates that it be immaterial.

    (non-matter)
    6. You cannot demonstrate that all matter is caused.
    7. You cannot demonstrate that non-matter is uncaused.
    8. You cannot demonstrate how non-matter creates matter.
    9. You cannot demonstrate that this uncaused, immaterial thingie, is by necessity a god.
    10. You cannot demonstrate that this uncaused, immaterial thingie, is by necessity the christian

    god.

    Obviously, simply assuming that X is an uncaused cause, that X is immaterial and that X is a god or

    that more specifically that X is the christian god, does not serve as evidence for those claims. They

    remain claims which have not been demonstrated to be true.

  178. Beep, that’s an assertion, not an argument. Give me an argument for a change. I’ve told you why the UC of necessity exists. Now rebut that or give this up. It’s getting really really boring. How old are you?

  179. You have told me why a UCC is necessitated? I must have missed that bit. Did you wax lyrically about how an UCC is necessitated in order to halt the infinite regress? And if you did, why is an infinite regress anymore illogical than the claim for one UCC?

    If, as you claim, that an UCC is necessitated, and evident (none of which you have been able to demonstrate, but what the hey -), then there is the possibility for infinite uncaused causes.

  180. And by the way, it is not up to me to rebut an assertion which cannot be demonstrated. I have been asking you questions to give you an opportunity to make good your argument. That you have been unable to address these points, indicates that your assertions are quite poor.

  181. Why should I attempt to rebut an argument which you cannot demonstrate to be taken seriously in the first place.

  182. Yes Beep, I think you missed the part where I demonstrated that the UC is necessary to explain the universe and how the alternatives don’t cut. Remember the multiple choice scenario. Atta boy. Remember my hitherto unchallenged claim that the infinite regress and the popped out of nothing hypotheses are the only logical alternatives. Good Beep. The scroll up function on most computers is supposed to be used. First it was assertion of logical fallacy that you quickly disposed of, then it was the suggestion that nothing has been posited except definitions. Are you scared? and if so of what? God knows the atheist faith needs better defenders 🙂 Get Disco back on! He was good!

    P.S- an uncaused cause is not caused, so you don’t need an infinite regression of causes to explain the uncaused cause. Clear?

  183. Now all you need to do is to demonstrate that an infinite regress is less plausible than one UCC. Then you need to demonstrate that the universe creating itself is as implausible as your “no matter” thingie creating something from nothing.

  184. The fact is, you have made claims which you cannot support. You want me to prove you wrong, when I have demonstrated at least 10 holes in your argument which you appear to be incapable of addressing.

  185. That is, if it is possible for one uncaused cause, ( and you haven’t demonstrated the necessity for this idea), then it is equally possible for many or an infinite number of uncaused causes. Persuant to this, is that if it is possible for one no-matter thing to exist, (and once again you haven’t demonstrated the necessity for this idea), it is equally possible for many or an infinite number of no-matter thingies to exist.

  186. You’re just asking me to rehash what I’ve said earlier. I’ll indulge you…

    1. An infinite regress is impossible in a time bound universe. Refer my actual debate with Disco where we covered the Hilbert Hotel analogy etc and I demonstrated that an physical time bound infinity is an impossibility. I made the point that if you posit an actual(physical) infinity, the effluxion of time loses all meaning and thus the hypothesis of an actual infinity is implausible and illogical. Just look for it it can’t be that painful can it.

    2. I’m assuming that things that begin to exist must have a cause. If you feel that this assumption is faulty, tell me why it’s wrong. The idea that the universe created itself is to assume that things can just pop into existence uncaused. It’s a ridiculous idea but if it’s an idea you want to defend it than let’s debate it. You’ll have to show that without the prior existence of energy and matter, physical things can just emerge out of nothingness, uncaused by any process. The UC on the other hand did not pop into existence since by definition it is uncaused and infinite. It does not need a cause and did not begin to exist. It always was. This UC, if you assume omnipotence as one of its attributes, can create the universe and cause it to exist. This is not as implausible as the idea that things can pop into existence uncaused. Of course, you can challenge my initial assumption, but you’ll have to give reasons for why it’s wrong.

    3. I’m not positing an unitarian theism, trinitarian theism or polytheism here. Just that theism is more plausible than atheism. Of course, millions or infinite Gods may exist. No problem.

    Where did you say you found ten holes? Care to point out what they are?

    How did the universe come to exist in your atheist understanding of things? What’s your hypothesis? Or are you scared to tell us what your alternative is?

  187. Niran, Disco long considered making a grand return to this argument, but he is unfortunately a tad too busy at present to engage you properly. However, he has quite enjoyed reading your arguments with Beep. Good stuff. Keep it up! 🙂

    Just one quick point: Disco does not concede that you ‘demonstrated that an physical time bound infinity is an impossibility’. If you refer the argument in Disco’s last post, you’ll see that his point concerned the inability of the human mind to grasp the concept of infinity, not the impossibility of infinity in the universe per se.

    As an annoying aside, the phrase ‘time bound infinity’ is necessarily an oxymoron. Or would you prefer Disco call it a ‘tautology’? 😛

  188. Just a simple question. When does god create time in the bible? Before he creates the light? After he creates the heavens and the earth? Frankly, I don’t remember any reference to god creating time in the bible. I wonder why that is? Could it be that ancient man had no knowledge of time, matter and space and the physics associated with them when they wrote their version of the “cration of the universe?”

    No, I just had another look. God aka the uncaused cause according to you, forgot to create time. How remiss of him. And how imperfect of him.

  189. Disco, welcome back! Your presence here has been missed. I’m sorry if I gave the impression that you conceded to my ‘time’ argument. I know that you did not. I was merely referring Beep to the argument I made therein since he seemed to think that I had made no argument in the first place.

    My understanding is that only argument can be tautologous, not a description. Correct me if I’m wrong. It is an oxymoron though, that’s the whole point.

    Beep, how nice of you to evade a good old argument. So, no response tom my last post? What’s happening? In any case, I’m not defending the Biblical account of creation here, but in creating physical matter time necessarily is invoked, since time is not a thing to be created but a concept necessary to express meaningful ideas about the succession of physical states. So, what were you saying about those ten or so holes?

  190. If you are claiming the necessity for an uncaused cause, and the necessity for an uncaused cause which is immaterial – and that this UCC both immaterial and necessary is the christian god. Yes, you do need to explain why the bible does not mention god creating time.

  191. Beep, firstly whoever told you I was defending the Christian God here. Not only have you got your wires crossed, you’re not paying enough attention. I’m defending theism. How old are you?

    Second, time is not created. Physical things are created. Time is a concept to express ideas about successive physical states. You don’t create concepts. How old are you? What is your hypothesis t explain the universe’s existence?

  192. *the UC is more than consistent with Christian theology.

  193. I am beginning to think that you would prefer to divert the conversation with a discussion concerning my age rather than to address the concerns I have with your argument. Let’s not play bully tactics. If it is a quest for truth, one shouldn’t need to rely on rudeness towards the other.

    I don’t need a hypothesis to describe the universe as we are discussing your hypothesis. It is acceptable for me to point out the flaws in your argument without presenting a case of my own. I realize that many people do not understand this process but it is how knowledge is attained. The testability of a hypothesis is crucial to acquiring knowledge. I don’t need to supply a hypothesis in order to discuss yours. This isn’t an either or scenario. I am merely interested in your argument and the major flaws of the argument the main one of which is the inability to demonstrate the veracity of the premises upon which the argument is based.

  194. Your insistence that I keep repeating parts of my argument that I have stated multiple times before gives me the impression that age might be a bit of a barrier to comprehension. You’ve not made an argument in that previous post comment either, neither have you responded to my responses to some of your questions. This is supremely boring. I’ve tried to get you to engage you but have failed miserably. My bad 😦

  195. Firstly, as to my age, I am old enough to realize that questions about age, gender or intelligence when used in this manner in an argument detract from the argument or that they do nothing to add to the veracity of an argument.

    Secondly, I doubt that you are using the UCC argument in order to defend theism. Although this may be partly true, as you are most probably a theist of some variety, it is also partly untrue as if you have a specific religion, I doubt that you want to use the UCC argument in order to attempt to validate the existence of some other religion’s god.

    Example:
    If you are a christian, I doubt that you would accept that the UCC is a valid argument for the existence of allah or brahma. If you are a muslim, I doubt that you would accept the UCC as a valid argument for the existence for the christian god. So, I don’t think you are really being honest on this issue.

    Thirdly, if a god existed which was all powerful and all knowing (usually expressed as omnipotent and omniscient), then such a being would not need defending as it would:
    a. Know that it was allpowerful;
    b. Have ALL the means necessary to be able to defend itself;
    c. Would not need its existence defended through theistic argument.

  196. Beep, you’ve gone completely off the track. What’s happening? Why don’t you engage the UC hypothesis? Who’s diverting the issue here? I thought age was germane to the issue of capacity to comprehend, and my suspicions are being reinforced with every one of your responses.I’ll humour you though…

    1.The UC validates theism. I’m only defending theism here because the opposite of theism is atheism, which is the subject of this post. I have other reasons for believing in the assertions of the theistic tradition that I happen to follow. As an aside, the kalam argument that I have used here is the work of a medieval Islamic scholar. Subsequently, Muslims and Christians have worked together in refining it.

    2. I don’t really see the logic in your third question. Of course God does not need defending. I’m not suggesting that God begins to exist just because I claim so in an argument. The utility in demonstrating logically the plausibility of his existence accrues to humans and humans alone. Not to God.

  197. Beep, if Disco could be so bold as to make a suggestion, perhaps it would be better to restrict this debate strictly to the subject of theism without diluting it to include branches thereof. Whatever religion Niran or any other theist here professes is besides the point; we’re discussing the big question, not the structures that various theists have built around their answer to the question.

    Niran, Disco sees Beep’s comment about hypothesis testing not being an ‘either/or’ situation as valid. If it would not be too much hassle, perhaps the argument could benefit from a brief synopsis of your UC hypothesis (in point form, perhaps, as Archangel suggested). Possibly this could be an extension of your lucid response to Theja. Disco would be delighted if it would include your problem with the effluxion of time.

    PS: Tautology! 😛

    PPS: The PS was just to get your blood boiling 😉

  198. WEhen time permits Disco, I will oblige with a bulleted cosmological tautology:-| Perhaps we could submit our “synopsized” arguments for easy reference.

    On the “either or” issue, it seems to me that in this case you can have only 3 logical alternatives, since the universe was EITHER caused OR uncaused. If it was caused, it is EITHER by infinite regression OR uncaused cause. There cannot be an alternative besides these three and the three are mutually exclusive. These three options cover all the bases and the EITHER OR seems to emerge.

  199. Your argument is religious presuppositionalism. You have made the error of presupposing the conclusion in your premises. The premises used presuppose the conclusion. These are the premises you have used in order to presuppose the conclusion. The conclusion being that gawd did it.

    Premise 1. An uncaused cause is a necessity.
    Premise 2. An uncaused cause must be immaterial. (non-matter)
    Premise 3. Only a god is uncaused.
    Premise 4. Only a god is immaterial. (non-matter)
    Premise 5. Only the christian god is uncaused and immaterial.

    An argument that begs the question is one in which a premise presupposes the conclusion in some way. This is an example of begging the question or circular reasoning. This type of argument provides NO REASON at all to believe its conclusion as you cannot demonstrate the necessity of all of the premises. This is why I asked you on numerous occasions to demonstrate the necessity of these premises which you have used in an attempt to presuppose the conclusion.

    1. Demonstrate the necessity for an uncaused cause.
    2. Demonstrate that this uncaused thing is immaterial. (non-matter)
    3. Demonstrate that this uncaused thing be immaterial (non-matter) by necessity.
    4. Demonstrate that a god, as an exception, necessitates that it be uncaused.
    5. Demonstrate that a god, as an exception, necessitates that it be immaterial. (non-matter)
    6. Demonstrate that all matter is caused.
    7. Demonstrate that non-matter is uncaused.
    8. Demonstrate how non-matter creates matter.
    9. Demonstrate that this uncaused, immaterial thingie, is by necessity a god.

    To explain this error further, I will give you an example of a contradictory presupposition where the conclusion is also presupposed in the premises, so that you will also see why this process provides NO reason to accept the conclusion unless I can demonstrate the necessity of the premises.

    Premise 1. An uncaused cause is not a necessity.
    Premise 2. Matter, time and space have always existed and are hence uncaused.
    Premise 3. The universe describes the whole of space-time, including all matter and energy and events which occur.
    Premise 4. As the universe is the description for the whole of space-time including all matter, energy, events and space – nothing can exist outside of it.
    Premise 4. Therefore the universe is not by necessity caused, or uncaused ,and may have always existed.

    Now as far as arguments go, this argument uses the same process as yours. My premises presuppose the conclusion thus making it an argument which begs the question. There is no reason to accept this argument unless I can demonstrate the necessity of the premises. In other words, unless I can demonstrate the veracity of the premises upon which the argument rests.

    When you boil it down, the fundamental difference between the claims inherent in the premises includes not only respecting that a positive claim requires positive support, but also that NO positive claim is exempt from this standard. I say this because obviously claims, (and there are many claims inherent in your premises), are not true simply because they are claimed to be true or because they are stated to be true. . They remain claims until they can be demonstrated to be true. So, in conclusion, this type of argument provides NO REASON at all to believe the conclusion as one cannot demonstrate the necessity of all of the premises.

  200. I must admit I didn’t read all of that long list which i think i have see before on this thread. I think I get the gist of your argument though. I’m not presupposing anything other than the fact that humans are capable of reasoning through these issues and that the universe exists. I set up a hypothesis and then demonstrated that the necessary alternatives are implausible. The multiple choice scenario remember? Good. Now tell me why the three options I’ve set out aren’t exhaustive, because if they are, then my hypothesis is the most reasonable and logical, given that you’ve stopped defending the alternative hypotheses to the UC.

    However, if you really want to, you could quit the inductive approach and deductively reach the same conclusion.

    1.The Universe exists.
    2. Things don’t pop into existence uncaused.
    3. The universe did not pop into existence uncaused.
    4. The universe is caused.
    5. An actual infinite regress of physical causes is impossible.
    6. The universe cannot be caused by an infinite regress of physical causes.
    7. Since 4 and 6 must be reconciled, the universe was caused by an uncaused cause.
    8. The uncaused cause cannot be caused.
    9. Since the uncaused cause never began to exist, the uncaused cause is infinite.
    10. Since 5 is true, the uncaused cause is not a physical entity.

    I can refine this further, but if you have any questions regarding each of the steps let me know. I’ve covered all the links in some of the earlier exchanges.

    Still, the hypothesis route is not presuppositionalism, it is an accepted logical route to testing the validity of an idea.

  201. The main point is that there is no reason to believe the conclusion unless the premises which are implied in the conclusion can be demonstrated to be of necessity and veracity. Loosely defined, a hypothesis is a suggested explanation which seeks to suggest a possible correlation between multiple phenomena. That’s the common description of a hypothesis. In that way both the kalam cosmological argument and the argument that I posited that the universe has always existed, both fit the crieria for a hypothesis of this sort. They both fit the criteria for this form of hypothesis because they both seek to provide an explanation which suggests a possible correlation between multiple phenomena.

    As a scientific hypothesis they both fail if the premises which are implied in the conclusion cannot be demonstrated to be of necessity and veracity.

    Example: If I cannot demonstrate that an uncaused cause is not a necessity, or if you cannot demonstrate that the uncaused cause is a god, then there is no reason for me to believe either premise. If I have no reason to believe either premise, the conclusion is not demonstrable. If, on the other hand, I am prepared to have faith that an uncaused cause is not a necessity (according to my argument), or if I am prepared to have faith that the uncaused cause is a god, (according to your argument), then according to my faith that the premise is true, I am able to accept that the conclusion is true. Failing that, or failing the ability to demonstrate the veracity or the necessity of the premises upon which the argument is based, it is reasonable to reject either argument.

  202. The second part of your latest comment is just incoherent Beep. You’ll have to rephrase that if anyone is to have the remotest chance of deciphering what you’re trying to say. I told you before, I set up a hypothesis and showed that to deny the hypothesis is less plausible than to affirm it. I also demonstrated that there are only three options and it’s an either or situation. If you don’t like the hypothesis approach, I’ve suggested that you can reach the same conclusion using deductive logic where the only premise is the existence of the universe. In typical Beep style you just ignored that part of my response and fired on happily about how my assumptions haven’t been demonstrated to be true. So stop crying and engage the issue. Otherwise it’ just boring.

    p.s- if there are any links, assumptions, conclusions that I haven’t demonstrated, highlight the issue clearly and let’s debate it. Please, this repetition and constant clarification is just awful. It doesn’t get us anywhere.

  203. I’m sorry that you are unable to be reasonable concerning this discussion on what constitutes a credible argument. I have merely tried to explain to you that the kalam cosmological argument requires faith that the premises are true. Likewise, the argument I posited in reply is of the same nature, UNLESS I can demonstrate that the premises explicit and implicit, have veracity and necessity.

    It’s been fun. But I want to remind you of what it takes to be a theist, and that is faith. I demonstrated this to you when I laid out your premises for you and asked you to provide supporting evidence for the veracity of those premises. This you were either unwilling or unable to do. The only conclusion that can be reached at this stage is that you have faith that your premises are true. I don’t have faith that either the premises that are explicit or implicit in your argument are true.

    If all you have to offer is faith that they are true, you should have recognized this as being the nature of theism from the beginning. You should be satisfied with that and discontinue your attempts to provide a testable hypothesis for the existence of a god.

    Thanks for the entertainment. Feel welcome to my blog to debate me further if you get bored agreeing with people who consider faith to be evidence. I don’t bite too hard when people visit my blog, but I cannot guarentee that of any of the other people who visit.

    http://beepbeepitsme.blogspot.com/

    And I will leave you with this:

    “The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary also has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe. If the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?” – Stephen Hawking

    Another person who you might find interesting if your mind is not closed to science is Paul J. Steinhardt
    http://www.actionbioscience.org/newfrontiers/steinhardt.html

    Toodle oooooooooo and thanks for all the fish.

  204. Thank you all for that unbelievable debate (pun intended). I have come to two important conclusions that I shall elaborate on in PART II (which will not be published anytime soon)

    1. Atheists do have faith, but of a completely different nature to that of a theist. His faith is in science’s ability to explain everything at some point whether now or in the future. His belief is that should science explain everything, God is effectively disproved.

    2. The western atheist movement is not as intelligent as they think they are. In fact e-mails and comments by atheists from the global South were far more engaging and displayed a maturity in analysis that the so-called western experts grossly lacked.

    My friends and I had a hysterical laugh about some of the desperate theories posited on this blog. I thank Disco and Anisha for being the main intellectual saving grace of atheism as far as this debate is concerned. Applause is in order.

    The problem I have identified is that many atheists no longer wish to engage counter hypotheses but merely resort to repeating carefully rehearsed opinions. This was very disappointing. However, I was thrilled to note that there still remains a few atheists that are of the questioning sort, who listen to opposing views; rebut; clarify; and even concede points opposed to their own, based solely on the merits of each point.

    We must restore respect in the debate on God. I hope this is an attainable goal. Semantics aside, the greatest benefit I have received through this discussion, is that I have grown to respect atheism as a personal opinion. I hope theism can one day be afforded that same luxury.

    Thank you for reading.

  205. Archangel:
    No, we don’t need to ‘restore respect in the debate on god’. You people have had a free ride for far too long.
    The ‘theory’ of evolution, BTW, is a measurable, observable catalogue of facts, your use of the definition is abysmal.
    As for all the chest-thumping about the ‘uncaused cause’, I can deflate that in a heart-beat (I’ll have a post up tomorrow).
    I also found it objectionable & dishonest that many of the allegedly ‘hysterically laughable’ points were avoided in a less than honest fashion.
    & no, atheism isn’t a personal opinion: it’s the default option we were all born into. Theism is a trained reflex.
    Think outside of your conditioning, & you’ll come this conclusion as well.

  206. Looks like your heart rate is slower than the average.

  207. Just when I thought we had got past baseless rantings. I look forward to your post, Krystalline. But please, do us all a favour, read through the other 205 comments and say something new. Everyone is a tad tired of this trite trained monkey approach.

    Thank you for reading.

  208. The point is that if your argument is that god has always existed and you make this an explicit claim, then you will always be asked by people like me to demonstrate the necessity and the veracity of that claim. This you have been unable to do.

    If, however, you simply state that you have religious faith that god has always existed but you have no way to demonstrate this claim to have either necessity or veracity, then people like me will accept that this is a position you have which is based in faith.

    Unless you acknowledge that it is a faith-based position from the outset, it will always appear that you are claiming knowledge based in evidence.

    You are welcome to have faith that god has always existed, you are not justified to state it as if it is based in something other than religious faith.

  209. […] The Internet abounds with amateur armchair philosophers (I count myself amongst them) – as if the ability to regurgitate some stream-of-consciousness is validation in and of itself, like for instance, this clown. […]

  210. Archangel:
    Everyone is a tad tired of this trite trained monkey approach.
    EXCUSE me?
    I’ve re-read the post more than once. & yes, I did indeed read thru the 200+ posts.
    A. Since evolution is a firmly established science, it is up to YOU to demonstrate elsewise, &
    B. My post amply demonstrates this ‘Uncaused Cause’ is a strawman nonpareil, as it violates the 1st law of thermodynamics.
    Let me know when you come down off your high horse & wallow in the mud w/the rest of us: we’ll talk then.

  211. Beep, yes I do agree with you. The argument that God exists must stem from faith. This was one of my points in an earlier comment which you seem to have missed. Evidence follows faith in this case. And the only evidence a believer will have is often limited to his personal experiences. So there is an irreconcilable problem in attempting to prove God through empirical reasoning devoid of faith.
    I see you make a valid point. All theist must indeed have a faith-based position from the outset. But knowledge based on evidence may still be possible if the claim is that there is personal experience involved. I do not find it necessary however that a theist must carry the burden of proving this since his starting premise is faith, and faith is by definition difficult to demonstrate by simply adducing evidence.
    This position that you and I hold is the first step of understanding between the two sides in this debate after quite a long wait.

    Thank you for reading.

  212. Thanks, Krystalline. You saved me the trouble of having to repeat myself. It’s a little silly of you to get so upset with my use of the word “theory” when referring to evolution, since one of my main arguments, which is deficient perception, was indeed based on the “theory” of evolution. Read the post a third time if you must.

    Thank you for reading.

  213. RE: “Still, the hypothesis route is not presuppositionalism, it is an accepted logical route to testing the validity of an idea.”

    Sure it is. One is required to pressupose that a god that a god exists to posit that it is immaterial and uncaused.

  214. let me try that again. I have the typing clutzes.

    RE: “Still, the hypothesis route is not presuppositionalism, it is an accepted logical route to testing the validity of an idea.”

    Sure it is. One is required to pressupose that a god exists to posit that it is immaterial and uncaused.

  215. archangel

    The argument requires religious faith from the beginning that :
    1. God exists,
    2. God is uncaused,
    3. God is immaterial.

    It is an argument which is never going to convince a skeptic, or someone who does not have a pre-existing faith in the existence of a god. You might as well just say that you have faith in the existence of a god and leave it at that, as the Kalam Cosmo Argument is superfluous to requirements for those who ALREADY have faith in the existence of a god. If this argument is unnecessary for those who already have religious faith, I can conclude that the argument is posited NOT for those who already have religious faith, but for those who do not. Those who do not have religious faith, or those who have not pressuposed that a god exists and that it is uncaused or immaterial, are unlikely to be convinced by an argument FROM faith. Under these circumstances, The Kalam Cosmological Argument may as well be called “The Argument of Pressuposing that God exists through Faith.” As theists already presuppose that god exists through faith, I don’t see the point of the argument for a theist at all.

  216. This is my reply to niran who left this on my blog.

    Beep this may not be the post and the time, but I thought I’ll take you up on the invite. Noticed your last comment on agradevaduta that persisted with the ‘no sufficient proof argument’ even though you were unwilling to present an alternative of the universe came into existence. I thought it was strange that you keep repeating the same machinated response to theistic arguments. So here’s the challenge. Prove that there are viable alternatives to the uncaused cause hypothesis that stand the test of reason. Let’s debate this on your turf, with your atheist friends who you said were so scary and unforgiving. My hypothesis stands unless you can provide a viable, rational alternative. And if my hypothesis stands, theism is a more plausible view of how th cosmos came into existence. Over to you.

    23/4/07 4:21 AM

    beepbeepitsme said…
    Firstly, I hope you understand that you do not make your own claims true, by asking someone to present a contrary claim. Do you understand this, as I am loath to indulge in a game of logic with those who are unaware of the rules.

  217. RE: ” Let’s debate this on your turf, with your atheist friends who you said were so scary and unforgiving.”

    Well, I didn’t say that. I did imply that not all people who post at my blog have the desire to be be as polite as I am. Also, it is not a given that people who post to my blog are my friends. Nor is it a given that I agree with them whether they are my friends or not. Niran seems to be master of the strawman argument.

  218. Archangel:
    It’s a little silly of you to get so upset with my use of the word “theory” when referring to evolution, since one of my main arguments, which is deficient perception, was indeed based on the “theory” of evolution.
    Then why the quotation marks? “truth”, “less evolved”, & this 1:
    and by “theory” I mean scientific speculations which are incapable of being proven beyond doubt
    Anyone w/a passing knowledge of scientific thought realizes there’s very little ‘written in stone’.
    ‘Beyond a doubt’ is an absolute statement that smacks of the excluded middle.
    I got a little miffed w/the ‘trite trained monkey’ crack – when indeed, some of the theists here are dragging out the Kalam Cosmological argument (which is easy to deflate).
    Which demiurge do you fancy yourself to be?
    I catch the faint whiff of hubris, methinks.

  219. Psst, guys be sure and ask the theists their definition of god before you start every time. It helps a lot in the course of argumentation.

    Also, I’m not reading through this entire thing, its too long. ^_~. So, I’m going to address the first comment I was directed to and don’t expect anything else to happen.

    niran-

    A little bit late, and I’m just jumping at a few comments taht don’t make sense and other things.

    “Point 2. An atheist who believes that the universe has a beginning and an end must ask, “what caused the beginning?” Did the universe pop out of nothing, or was it caused. If the atheist says that the universe popped out of nothing, then there is no debate. …If you believe the universe was caused, then you ask what caused the cause an so on until you reach an uncaused cause. The alternative to the uncaused cause is of course, infinite regression of causes. You either stop attributing causes to effects or you don’t.”

    A better question to ask perhaps is “Does causality make sense outside of the conceptual framework of our language that is based upon the universe?” Unless we can speak outside the universe, it doesn’t make sense to posit things outside the universe. Until the point at which we can, it makes more sense to start with the existence of the universe and go from there.

    “The theist calls the uncaused cause GOD. She posits that the uncaused cause is by definition infinite and therefore necessarily exists outside and is unbounded by time, is capable of bringing into existence a universe effect from the result of its very ontological existence.”

    How can something unbounded by time act as a causal factor? Causality as we understand it necessitates time. The only way for a group of causes to work is to operate within time, otherwise, they never happen.

    “I have yet to come across an atheist who agrees that an uncaused cause is a necessary to explain the universe, I guess because the moment you accept an uncaused cause, you have no option but to accept some theory of an eternal absolute that others call GOD.”

    Again, first we must ask the question, “Does causality make sense outside of the universe?”

    “Point 4. In saying that theists always knew that the atheism was a faith based belief, I was assuming no superiority. No need to get your panties in a twist and rail about intolerance in my conditioning.”

    Without your definition of god, I really can’t say much about it. I merely have implicit atheism toward it, an absense of belief toward that god. Seeing as an absense of belief does not qualify as a claim on anything, implicit atheism does not require faith. Also, as long as explicit atheism relies upon logical proof or evidence (I prefer to find a contradiction to invalidate the argument) it does not require faith. There’s some type of misomer that has been around for centuries that “atheism” requires science and that accepting certain tenants of science makes atheism a religion that requires faith. However, if you really examine what atheism is, it amounts to two things, a state of being in the case of implicit atheism and a single beleif in the case of explicit atheism. Neither neccesarily requires atheism being a religion or requiring faith.

    “If theists accepted the very common premise about deficiency in human perception, then they ‘always’ knew that atheism also required faith. And they scoffed at the suggestion that atheism required no faith and was pure observation. Given that you don’t identify with that version of atheism, I’m surprised you take offence at the suggestion of the theists knowledge of that falsity.”

  220. Continuing, I think I accidentally forgot the last part-

    If you want to say that human perception is flawed, I have to wonder what you mean. Considering that you have to doubt what you percieve all the time, I can’t even guess how you manage to funtion within society, let alone eat. Fortunately, I’m betting that you don’t actually doubt sensory perception. Good for you ^_^.

  221. I’m sorry Krystalline, I meant no offense with the trained monkey crack. This is true of many theists also. The label may apply to anyone who argues without any attempt to understand the arguments of his opponent. I hope you do not fall into this category.

    Thank you for reading.

  222. Mesoforte, just a quick point on the deficient perception. Do you believe you have perfect perception? I doubt you do. Scientists believe that the eye is still imperfect as an organ. So, no, we do not have perfect perception.
    You misunderstood my point. While our imperfect perception may be sufficient for many things including eating and drinking, this level of perception may be insufficient when concluding on matters of cosmic importance, purely based on empirical knowledge.

    Thank you for reading.

  223. RE: “I meant no offense with the trained monkey crack.” Of course you didn’t. That is why you didn’t use it. Oooops. That’s right, you did.

  224. […] The Internet abounds with amateur armchair philosophers (I count myself amongst them) – as if the ability to regurgitate some stream-of-consciousness is validation in and of itself, like for instance, this clown. […]

  225. Archangel:
    My last post got eaten.
    Apology accepted, & bygones.
    The difference between a trained parrot & a sentient being is that the latter grasps the comprehension behind the words.
    Besides, I’m allergic to crackers (kiddin’!).
    We all use templates. It provides structure to facilitate communication. Besides which, re-inventing the wheel is somewhat tiresome.
    You misunderstood my point. While our imperfect perception may be sufficient for many things including eating and drinking, this level of perception may be insufficient when concluding on matters of cosmic importance, purely based on empirical knowledge.
    Well, 1st, define ‘perfection’. 2nd, yes, we use an anthropomorphic filter, via which we sift thru the detritus – but that hardly renders our observations invalid (but perhaps incomplete). I sense an appeal to wonder in there.
    Also, could you explain the quotation marks? I interpret those as sarcasm – then again, my perceptions are ‘incomplete’ (hehehehe).

  226. A quick response before I go to work. The quotation marks are often placed for things that are disputed. Hence “theory” is a debatable word which precedes “evolution”. I myself accept this as a plausible theory. However, you accept it as fact. The distinction is quite small because no viable alternative theory explains the manner in which species adapt to their natural environments. So that is merely a semantic issue. I could just refer to evolution as fact, but as admitted by many atheists, it is not as yet globally accepted as fact, but rather as a complete, viable theory based on mostly empirical but also speculative scientific analysis. No sarcasm involved.

    Perfection is where human beings stop evolving. This is not possible, is it? (Note that I use evolution for my arguments) So my point was that though this deficient perception is absolutely fine when it comes to functioning on a day to day basis and observing empirical data, it is grossly insufficient when “concluding” on matters which possess much larger cosmic proportions.

    The other issue is of course that our deficient perception may skew all our observations. But that doesn’t really matter, since we do not require “truth” to function. (No sarcasm involved).
    However, we need truth to either prove or disprove an uncaused cause. Are we competent enough to do this?

    Thank you for reading.

  227. Ooooops. Someone doesn’t know what a scientific theory is.

  228. Archangel:
    Actually, evolution precedes theory, if you wish to be grammatically pedantic (sorry, that’s a peeve of mine).
    The only reason evolution is ‘disputed’, as you may already know, is that there’s a huge undercurrent of PR work (not scientific work, I might add) to dispute it.
    I could just refer to evolution as fact, but as admitted by many atheists, it is not as yet globally accepted as fact, but rather as a complete, viable theory based on mostly empirical but also speculative scientific analysis.
    “If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing” – Anatole France.
    We could go into the finer points of this, but it’s another post entirely.
    So my point was that though this deficient perception is absolutely fine when it comes to functioning on a day to day basis and observing empirical data, it is grossly insufficient when “concluding” on matters which possess much larger cosmic proportions.
    Oh, I agree. We as a species have an anthropic bias, as evidenced by pareidolia. As such then, we should then state, that if there’s an absence of something, we should then assume it doesn’t exist.
    Until the positive is proven, the negative is given.
    We can claim that our perception is limited by our lack of knowledge of everything, but then, as everything is evolving in some manner or another, we’ll never have complete & absolute knowledge.
    I assert that since we do have more than a few glimpses of the underpinnings of how everything works, every step we evolve to shows more & more that there really is no guiding hand from on high, there is no human face to be put on the cosmos, no echo of ourselves elsewhere.

  229. Beep, that’s a very mature response. Congratulations.

    Krystalline, thanks for that comment. It got me thinking. Would you agree then that you firmly believe that based on the precedent set by science in its ability to explain certain things, you believe it will be successful in explaining all things eventually?

    Thank you for reading.

  230. Thank you. I concur.

  231. Archangel:
    Would you agree then that you firmly believe that based on the precedent set by science in its ability to explain certain things, you believe it will be successful in explaining all things eventually?
    It’s got a prodigious track record. Note that the supernatural explanations inexorably fail. Note also, that the latter also become entrenched, & less capable of change.
    I’m not proposing a ‘god of the gaps’ here: it’s simple induction based on historical precedent.
    We may never learn everything there is to know, but then, what would the fun be in that?

  232. So would I be correct in saying that your belief that science explains enough of the natural world coupled together with its prodigious track record effectively rules out the possibility of God? If this is indeed the case, I can live with that.

    Thank you for reading.

  233. Archangel:
    So would I be correct in saying that your belief that science explains enough of the natural world coupled together with its prodigious track record effectively rules out the possibility of God?
    You’re 1/2way there.
    1st, I’d say it was my confidence via induction & deduction that science may very well rule out the option altogether.
    2nd, I’d say it was also all the evidence of bad design. We live in this tiny little pocket in the universe that supports life – the rest of this grand universe is harshly inimical (lethal, even), to the point where logic can safely say, it certainly wasn’t put together towards our benefit or stewardship.
    3rd, on a microcosmic level, our bodies are inadequately designed. I’m no engineer, but I can draw up a long laundry list of things I certainly wouldn’t incorporate.
    Sufficient to say, I could go on for perhaps another 1000 words, but that’ll do for now.
    I’m a big proponent of what doesn’t work, gets tossed out.
    Religion falls into that category.

  234. I hope you realize that confidence is just a leaf off the book of belief. I find your theory very interesting, though it has its measure of speculation (which is not necessarily a bad thing). It is well thought out, but my fundamental concern regarding perception remains unchallenged. Where does confidence arise from? Obviously from your powers of analysis (induction and deduction). Don’t get me wrong, I respect and appreciate this line of argument because it brings us back to the fundamentals. However, just to put the thought out there, is it not flawed to believe that science has explained everything, since this is only true as far as observable data is concerned? The argument is tautological.
    “I observe and explain everything through science, while science will explain everything.”

    Is there any chance that there are things out there that we have not as yet perceived? Such things cannot be explained through science, due to the fundamental definition of science in that it is limited to observable data.

    Thank you for reading.

  235. I’d like to refer people to beep’s blog. The post in on the three amigos or something(22nd April), but’ it’s really about cosmology. Krystalline is just rejecting a scientific law just to defend his position. And he’s pissed. It’s fascinating and interesting.

  236. niran:
    Krystalline is just rejecting a scientific law just to defend his position. And he’s pissed. It’s fascinating and interesting.
    No, I’m not – that’s just your ‘flawed perception’ of it. What’s irritating, is your inability to understand the definitions I’ve laid out.
    Do try to keep your ego in check.

    Archangel:
    It is well thought out, but my fundamental concern regarding perception remains unchallenged
    I appreciate that – but the appeal to incredulity isn’t a strong point. There’s plenty of historical data that shows our species as being perceptionally challenged, but then the older hypotheses get tossed out when new data surfaces. Our perception is flawed, true: but in comparison to what? There’s really no other yardstick to go by.
    However, just to put the thought out there, is it not flawed to believe that science has explained everything, since this is only true as far as observable data is concerned?
    Well, I’m the 1st to concede that science HASN’T explained everything yet. ‘More in heaven and earth’, etc. I’ll have to defer to track record (yet again).
    Outside of observable data, I’d have to say that the concept of an immutable entity that exists outside the laws of physics is speculatory in nature, & unprovable due to our flawed perceptions.

  237. I’d like to refer people to my blog too. Where niran is going to provide examples of immaterial beings which are by definition: –

    1. Of no importance or relevance; inconsequential or irrelevant. 2. Having no material body or form.

    I can’t wait.

  238. Actually Niran is saying he meant definition No 2 and not No 1. Beep says that you can’t do that, all the meaning in the dictionary attach to a word! Why am I doing this???!!!!

  239. You are doing this because you are desperate to convince yourself that the immaterial exists and that it has magical properties.

  240. Hey niran:
    Consider yourself debunked.
    We will see if you are as graceless in defeat as you are in imagined victory.

  241. Definitions of CONSERVATION OF MATTER on the Web:

    * Matter may be neither created nor destroyed. A piece of matter may under go a CHANGE OF PHASE or may react chemically either within itself or with other matter, so it may not be recognizable in the same form, but the amount of matter does not change.
    http://www.esse.ou.edu/glossary_st.html

    * In any chemical reaction, matter changes form; it is neither created nor destroyed.
    highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0070294267/student_view0/glossary_a-d.html

    * conservation of mass: a fundamental principle of classical physics that matter cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

    Congratulations on debunking the scientific law of conservation of mass/matter. You’re well on you way on the road to greatness.

  242. Congratulations on debunking the scientific law of conservation of mass/matter.
    No, I said YOU had been debunked.
    This is really sad.
    But I expected it.

  243. But you’re denying the Law of Conservation of Matter. If you debunk me, you debunk the law. Congrats,

  244. Huh? Niran is the conservation of matter?

  245. Niran defends the law of conservation of matter. Sorry, didn’t realize elementary comprehension was a problem.

  246. Niran:
    Niran defends the law of conservation of matter. Sorry, didn’t realize elementary comprehension was a problem.
    No, beep’s right. Unless you don’t understand what the word YOU means.
    Let’s not hash this out here. I’m sure Archangel’s getting a little tired of this. You know where to find me.

  247. […] blog is also quite interesting, and covers many topics ranging from athiesm to […]

  248. Hello
    I came accross this page and was incredibly surprise at how
    archangel draws his conclusions.
    Unfortunately to a large degree, they are grossly incorrect and also demonstate a comple lack of
    understanding of what natural selection is and what its rammifications lead to.
    The statement “…then our species would give way to a more sophisticated and biologically successful species …”
    is a prime example .
    Biological evolution / natural selection does not necessarily mean that the ‘next generation’ will be biologically superior or more
    sophisticated” in actual fact , as it has happened over countless centuries, evolution can lead a species to
    complete an utter extinction, or it can even create a generation which is less resistant to environmental impacts.
    To surmise that the more evolved species is more sophisticated or ‘better’ is erronous. Evolution in a biological sense doesn’t necessarily
    mean that it needs to be better, it can also be worse.
    Before commenting of natural selection archangel should really understand how natural selection works.

  249. I didn’t read your banter about ‘belief’ but the too much coffee man comic was on digg and i felt compelled, no, God lead me to write directly to you (i keed)…with the faith that you would knock faith itself and, with bias, show atheism as reasoning to a better life. BUT, your showing that atheism and faith are one in the same thing is a conclusion i can agree with because the nature of the two are extremely similar.

    the question that i always pose to myself when i have too much coffee is ‘how can one believe atheism to be right without considering the relationship it has to faith?’ if we consider the reasoning in science separate from the innate human component of faith, how can we as individuals know atheism is right without first believing that it might be right? how can atheism exist without faith? and if atheism cannot exist without faith, what is atheism exactly…which is what you tried to conclude to in your article above. well, the nature of faith is to believe in something… and from what i understand atheism doesn’t argue that believing in something isn’t wrong, but using faith to believe in something is not reasoning enough to believe in it. so where that leads me is that ‘atheism is a doctrine of faith that declares that faith alone is not enough to believe in something as fact’. it is here, i fear that atheism goes back on itself, and loses the whole notion of faith while doing so.

    faith and fact are not the same, they do not stem from the same place and will not lead to the same place, no pun intended. Einstein talked a lot about religion and schience, but he said this also… imagination is more important than knowledge. if your knowledge leads you astray from your imagination, that’s a problem. but look at the scientific method. imagination leads to reasoning, which leads to fact, which leads back to imagination. if all of life is an experiment, wouldn’t it pay to have a little imagination? try having a faith, but don’t have faith in not believing in something (atheism).

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