Reason and Logic are Transcendent (A Debate and Sylogism)


Video description:

J. Warner Wallace describes the Transcendental Argument (TAG) and it being one of the many pieces in the quiver of our cumulative case. For more, see his posts on the matter:

See also Got Questions: What is the transcendental argument for the existence of God?

And CARM’s, The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God


^ ^ ^ Updated file above ^ ^ ^


 From a debate many years ago

Can I point something out to you that will take us momentarily from this conversation, but explain why you are assuming my worldview in this conversation? I hope you can pick up what I am about to lay down.

First though, I wish to point out that the Lord’s Resistance Army (a person with a “tag,” like truck drivers on CB radios) is acting in opposition to Jesus’ teachings (you cannot say their actions are morally wrong because you equate moral actions to either society or yourself. If 51% of the world body said such actions were moral, then magically the 49% who think otherwise would themselves become immoral for believing differently). But not in opposition to naturalism’s teachings and assumptions.

However, in making your distinction, and I quote you:

  • Their belief in Christianity stands in stark contradiction to your own.

You are assuming the Law of Non-Contradiction and the Law of Excluded Middle in your above statement. This has consequences for you, even though you may not realize it.

In our unfolding conversation here, I am sure we can agree that you are using logic and reason in your argument, as I pointed out. You are expecting me to be able to delineate between false and correct arguments and come to a conclusion based on delineating between truth and untruth, false argument and true argument, by the Laws of Logic by using reason, correct? Otherwise you are a masochist, a person who argues for arguments sake.

So by engaging me in conversation you are asking me to give you some reasons or evidences by which you may observe and examine so that you might come to the conclusion as to the truthfulness of my claims or the falsity of my claims. But the moment that you ask me to give you some evidence that you might prove something…. you have assumed my worldview. You’ve done that because you are assuming that my mind is wired exactly like your mind is wired and are assuming that all men reason logically. But my worldview is the only worldview that gives an answer to why men reason logically.

So the question is this: are the laws of logic binding to us, all men. We all observe gravity, so we experience the Law of Gravity. We can never reach out and touch or experience the Law of gravity with our senses, we can only experience the effect of the Law. Likewise, Logic is not a physical function, yet we experience it. The laws of logic are non-tangible, they can’t be seen, they can’t be touched, yet they are binding on all men (you proved this point when you used logic by assuming the Law of non-Contradiction and the Law of Excluded Middle, and expected me to be bound by them as well as understand them). Can you touch, taste, or see the Law of Non-Contradiction? Where do these laws of logic/rationality come from?

Naturalism is a world view that requires all existing entities to be physical entities or reducible to entities in the physical world. Thus naturalism cannot account for rationality because it cannot give the right kind of causes (The Law of Causality, “cause and effect”) necessary for rational thought. In theism we are taught that these rational causes explain the reasons why one holds some beliefs. That bold part is very important. Let me explain.

To see the above point clearly, consider the following claims:

(1) All Ps are Qs.

(2) X is a P.

(3) X is a Q.

When one understands the claims in (1) and (2), then one understands that (3) must follow from the other premises. In order for one to grasp why (3) follows from (1) and (2), one needs more than natural, physical laws of cause-and-effect. To draw the right conclusion, one needs the ground and consequent (C. S. Lewis) type of reasoning. But it is precisely this kind of reasoning that seems unavailable to the naturalist worldview.

Rationality requires rational causes; this is a problem for naturalism. A naturalist could explain someone’s belief entirely in terms of behaviorist psychology (e.g., certain factors caused this person to hold this belief), for example, but it cannot analyze the rational causes that support someone’s belief. For someone to do that, they would need something beyond physical causes. In fact, naturalism describes all beliefs in terms of physical, natural causes, which in turn, has no room for mental causes. C.S. Lewis closes a chapter in his book Miracles with this conclusion:

Reason is given before Nature and on reason our concept of Nature depends. Our acts of inference are prior to our picture of Nature almost as the telephone is prior to the friend’s voice we hear by it. When we try to fit these acts into the picture of nature we fail. The item which we put into that picture and label “Reason” always turns out to be somehow different from the reason we ourselves are enjoying and exercising as we put it in. . . . . . But the imagined thinking which we put into the picture depends – because our whole idea of Nature depends – on thinking we are actually doing, not vice versa. This is the prime reality, on which the attribution of reality to anything else rests. If it won’t fit into Nature, we can’t help it. We will certainly not, on that account, give it up. If we do, we should be giving up Nature too.

Even though the above is somewhat long, trying to get such a hard subject across requires space. The below is not required reading and you may forego it, but it may explain what I couldn’t (for the other Christians here in this board watching this discussion, you may want to save this article and learn its premises, as they are powerful refutations of the naturalist point of view). I will post an example of this in action in a hypothetical found in a really intelligently argued article found at Leader U called, Methodological Naturalism?:


Simon and Altruism

First, then, some examples that suggest that science is not religiously neutral.3 I begin with Herbert Simon’s article, “A Mechanism for Social Selection and Successful Altruism.”4 This article is concerned with the problem of altruism: Why, asks Simon, do people like Mother Teresa do the things that they do? Why do they devote their time and energy and indeed their entire lives to the welfare of other people? Of course it isn’t only the great saints of the world that display this impulse; most of us do so to one degree or another.

How, says Simon, can we account for this kind of behavior? The rational way to behave, he says, is to act or try to act in such a way as to increase one’s personal fitness; i.e., to act so as to increase the probability that one’s genes will be widely disseminated in the next and subsequent generation, thus doing well in the evolutionary derby.5 A paradigm of rational behavior, so conceived, was reported in the South Bend Tribune of December 21, l991 (dateline Alexandria (Va.)). “Cecil B. Jacobson, an infertility specialist, was accused of using his own sperm to impregnate his patients; he may have fathered as many as 75 children, a prosecutor said Friday.” Unlike Jacobson, however, such people as Mother Teresa and Thomas Aquinas cheerfully ignore the short- or long-term fate of their genes. What is the explanation of this behavior?

The answer, says Simon, is two mechanisms: “docility” and “bounded rationality”:

Docile persons tend to learn and believe what they perceive others in the society want them to learn and believe. Thus the content of what is learned will not be fully screened for its contribution to personal fitness (p. 1666).

Because of bounded rationality, the docile individual will often be unable to distinguish socially prescribed behavior that contributes to fitness from altruistic behavior [i. e., socially prescribed behavior that does not contribute to fitness–AP]. In fact, docility will reduce the inclination to evaluate independently the contributions of behavior to fitness. …. By virtue of bounded rationality, the docile person cannot acquire the personally advantageous learning that provides the increment, d, of fitness without acquiring also the altruistic behaviors that cost the decrement, c. (p. 1667).

The idea is that a Mother Teresa or a Thomas Aquinas displays bounded rationality; they are unable to distinguish socially prescribed behavior that contributes to fitness from altruistic behavior (socially prescribed behavior which does not). As a result, they fail to acquire the personally advantageous learning that provides that increment d of fitness without, sadly enough, suffering that decrement c exacted by altruistic behavior. They acquiesce unthinkingly in what society tells them is the right way to behave; and they aren’t quite up to making their own independent evaluation of the likely bearing of such behavior on the fate of their genes. If they did make such an independent evaluation (and were rational enough to avoid silly mistakes) they would presumably see that this sort of behavior does not contribute to personal fitness, drop it like a hot potato, and get right to work on their expected number of progeny.

No Christian could accept this account as even a beginning of a viable explanation of the altruistic behavior of the Mother Teresas of this world. From a Christian perspective, this doesn’t even miss the mark; it isn’t close enough to be a miss. Behaving as Mother Teresa does is not a display of bounded rationality–as if, if she thought through the matter with greater clarity and penetration, she would cease this kind of behavior and instead turn her attention to her expected number of progeny. Her behavior displays a Christ-like spirit; she is reflecting in her limited human way the magnificent splendor of Christ’s sacrificial action in the Atonement. (No doubt she is also laying up treasure in heaven). Indeed, is there anything a human being can do that is more rational than what she does? From a Christian perspective, the idea that her behavior is irrational (and so irrational that it needs to be explained in terms of such mechanisms as unusual docility and limited rationality!) is hard to take seriously. For from that perspective, behavior of the sort engaged in by Mother Teresa is anything but a manifestation of ‘limited rationality’. On the contrary: her behavior is vastly more rational than that of someone who, like Cecil Jacobson, devotes his best efforts to seeing to it that his genes are represented in excelsis in the next and subsequent generations.

Simon suggests or assumes that the rational course for a human being to follow is to try to increase her fitness. Rationality, however, is a deeply normative notion; the rational course is the right course, the one to be recommended, the one you ought to pursue. Simon, therefore, seems to be making a normative claim, or perhaps a normative assumption; it is a vital and intrinsic part of what he means to put forward. If so, however, can it really be part of science? Science is supposed to be non-evaluative, non-normative, non-prescriptive: it is supposed to give us facts, not values. Can this claim that the rational course is to pursue fitness then be part of science, of a scientific explanation, or a scientific enterprise?

But perhaps there is a reply. What, exactly, does Simon mean here by such terms as ‘rational’ and ‘rationality’? At least two things; for when he says that the rational course, for a human being, is to try to increase her fitness, he isn’t using the term in the same way as when he says Mother Teresa and people like her suffer from bounded rationality. The latter means simply that people like this aren’t quite up to snuff when it comes to intelligence, perspicacity, and the like; they are at least slightly defective with respect to acuteness. It is because of the lack of acuity that they fail to see that the socially prescribed behavior in question is really in conflict with their own best interests or the achievement of their own goals. This limited rationality is a matter of running a quart low, of playing with less than a full deck, of being such that the elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor.

When he says that the rational course for a human being is to strive to promote fitness, he presumably means something different by the term ‘rational’, namely, that a properly functioning human being, one not subject to malfunction (one that isn’t insane, or retarded, or reacting to undue stress, or in the grip of some other malfunction or dysfunctional state) will as a matter of fact have certain goals, try to attain certain conditions, aim to bring about certain states of affairs. Presumably survival would be one of these goals; but another one, says Simon, is promoting or maximizing fitness.

And there are two things to say about this claim. In the first place, we might ask what the evidence is that, as a matter of fact, properly functioning human beings do indeed all or nearly all display this goal. It isn’t easy to see precisely how to answer this question. One suspects that a study done by way of the usual polling and questionnaire techniques wouldn’t yield this result; most of the properly functioning people I know, anyway, wouldn’t give as one of their main goals that of increasing their fitness. (Perhaps you will retort that this is because most of the people I know are past childbearing age, so that directly increasing their genetic representation in the next generations is no longer a live option. Of course they could do their best to see that they have a lot of grandchildren–judiciously distributed bribes, perhaps, or arranging circumstances so that their daughters will become pregnant, or encouraging their younger relatives to drop out of school and have children). But obviously there is always another option: we can say that the goals or aims in question aren’t conscious, are not available to conscious inspection. They are rather to be determined by behavior. It is your behavior that reveals and demonstrates your goals, no matter what you say (and, indeed, no matter what you think).

Well, perhaps so. It would still remain to be shown or argued that properly functioning human persons do as a matter of fact display in their behavior this goal of increasing their fitness–where, of course, we couldn’t sensibly take their displaying this goal as a criterion of normality or proper function. As a matter of fact, Simon doesn’t proceed in this way; his procedure, with respect to this question, is a priori rather than a posteriori. He doesn’t tell us what it is that leads him to think that properly functioning human beings will have this goal, but one suspects his answer would be that human beings acquire this goal somehow by virtue of our evolutionary history. I suspect he thinks it would follow from any proper evolutionary account of human beings (and for many other species as well) that they have maximizing fitness as a goal. How exactly this story would go is perhaps not entirely clear; but for the moment we can ignore the difficulties.

The second thing to say about this claim is that the same question arises with respect to it: isn’t the idea of proper function itself a normative notion? There is a connected circle of notions here: proper function, health, normality (in the normative, not the descriptive sense) dysfunction, damage, design (a properly functioning lung is working the way lungs are designed to work), purpose, and the like. Perhaps none of these notions can be analyzed in terms of notions outside the charmed circle (so that this circle would resemble that involving the notions of necessity, possibility, entailment, possible worlds, and so on). And aren’t these notions normative? Indeed, there is a use of ‘ought’ to go with them. When the starter button is pressed, the engine ought to turn over–i.e., if the relevant parts are functioning properly, the engine will turn over when the starter button is pressed. When you suffer a smallish laceration, a scab ought to form over the wound; that is, if the relevant parts of your body are functioning properly, a scab will form over the wound. A six-month-old baby ought to be able to raise its head and kick its feet simultaneously; that is, a healthy, normal (in the normative, not the statistical sense) six-month-old baby can do these things. Must we not concede, therefore, that this notion of proper function is itself a normative notion, so that if Simon uses ‘rationality’ in a way explicable only in terms of proper function, then what he says is indeed normative and thus not properly a part of science?

Perhaps; but if the employment of the notion of normality or proper function is sufficient to disqualify a discourse from the title of science, then a lot more than Simon’s account of altruism will turn out not to be science. Consider functional generalizations–the sorts of generalizations to be found in biological and psychological descriptions of the way in which human beings or other organic creatures work. As John Pollock points out, such generalizations seem to involve an implicit presupposition:

when we formulate similar generalizations about machines, the generalizations we formulate are really about how machines work when they work properly; or when they are not broken. Similarly it seems that generalizations about organisms should be understood as being about the way they work when they are ‘working normally.’6

Here ‘working normally’ and ‘not being broken’ mean something like ‘subject to no dysfunction’ or ‘working properly’ or ‘not malfunctioning’. Functional generalizations about organisms, therefore, say how they work when they are functioning properly. But of course biological and social science is full of functional generalizations. Thus, if Simon is appealing to the notion of proper function in his idea of rationality, he may be appealing to a kind of normativity; but that kind of normativity is widely found in science. Or, at any rate, it is widely found in what is called science. Some will maintain that the notion of proper function doesn’t belong in science unless it can be explained, somehow, in other terms–finally, perhaps, in terms of the regularities studied in physics and chemistry. We need not enter that disputatious territory here; it is sufficient to note that if Simon is appealing to the notion of proper function, then what he does appeal to is in fact to be found over the length and breadth of the social and biological sciences. Therefore, we should not deny the title ‘science’ to what Simon does unless we are prepared to raise the same strictures with respect to most of the rest of what we think of as social and biological science. And even if we do say that Simonian science isn’t really science, nothing substantive changes; my point will then be, not that religious considerations bear on science properly so-called, but rather that they bear on what is in fact called science, which is a very important, indeed, dominant part of our intellectual and cultural life.

I shall therefore assume that Simonian science is science. So in Simon’s account of altruism we have an example of a scientific theory that is clearly not neutral with respect to Christian commitment; indeed, it is inconsistent with it. Simon’s theory also illustrates another and quite different way in which religious considerations are relevant to science; they bear on what we take it needs explanation. From Simon’s perspective, it is altruism that needs explanation; from a Christian or theistic perspective, on the other hand, it is only to be expected that humans beings would sometimes act altruistically. Perhaps what needs explanation is the way in which human beings savage and destroy each other.

By Matt Slick

This is an attempt to demonstrate the existence of God using logical absolutes.  The oversimplified argument, which is expanded in outline form below, goes as follows:

Logical absolutes exist.  Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature.  They are not the product of the physical universe (space, time, matter), because if the physical universe were to disappear, logical absolutes would still be true.  Logical Absolutes are not the product of human minds, because human minds are different, not absolute.  But, since logical absolutes are always true everywhere, and not dependent upon human minds, it must be an absolute transcendent mind that is authoring them.  This mind is called God.


Logical Absolutes


Law of Identity (LID)

  1. Something is what it is, and isn’t what it is not.  Something that exists has a specific nature.
  2. For example, a cloud is a cloud, not a rock.  A fish is a fish, not a car.

Law of Non-Contradiction (LNC)

  1. Something cannot be both true and false at the same time in the same sense.
  2. For example, to say that the cloud is not a cloud would be a contradiction since it would violate the first law.  The cloud cannot be what it is and not what it is at the same time.

Law of Excluded Middle (LEM)

  1. A statement is either true or false, without a middle ground.
  2. “I am alive” is either true or false.  “You are pregnant” is either true or false.
    1. Note one: “This statement is false” is not a valid statement (not logically true) since it is self-refuting and is dealt with by the Law of Non-contradiction.  Therefore, it does not fall under the LEM category since it is a self-contradiction.
    2. Note two:  If we were to ignore note one, then there is a possible paradox here.  The sentence “this statement is false” does not fit this Law since if it is true, then it is false.  Paradoxes occur only when we have absolutes.  Nevertheless, the LEM is valid except for the paradoxical statement cited.
    3. Note three:  If we again ignore note one and admit a paradox, then we must acknowledge that paradoxes exist only within the realm of absolutes.

Logical absolutes are truth statements such as:

  1. That which exists has attributes and a nature.
    1. A cloud exists and has the attributes of whiteness, vapor, etc.  It has the nature of water and air.
    2. A rock is hard, heavy, and is composed of its rock material (granite, marble, sediment, etc.).
  2. Something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time.
    1. It cannot be true to state that a rock is not a rock.
  3. Something cannot bring itself into existence.
    1. In order for something to bring itself into existence, it has to have attributes in order to perform an action.  But if it has attributes, then it already has existence.  If something does not exist, it has no attributes and can perform no actions.  Therefore, something cannot bring itself into existence.
  4. Truth is not self-contradictory.
    1. It could not be true that you are reading this and not reading this at the same time in the same sense.  It is either true or false that you are reading this.
  5. Therefore, Logical Absolutes are absolutely true.  They are not subjectively true; that is, they are not sometimes true and sometimes false, depending on preference or situation.  Otherwise, they would not be absolute.

Logical Absolutes form the basis of rational discourse.

  1. If the Logical Absolutes are not absolute, then truth cannot be known.
  2. If the Logical Absolutes are not absolute, then no rational discourse can occur.
    1. For example, I could say that a square is a circle (violating the law of identity), or that I am and am not alive in the same sense at the same time (violating the law of non-contradiction).
    2. But no one would expect to have a rational conversation with someone who spoke in contradictory statements.
  3. If Logical Absolutes are not always true, then it might be true that something can contradict itself, which would make truth unknowable and rational discourse impossible.  But, saying that something can contradict itself can’t be true.
  4. But since we know things are true (I exist, you are reading this), then we can conclude that logical statements are true.  Otherwise, we would not be able to rationally discuss or know truth.
  5. If they are not the basis of rational discourse, then we cannot know truth or error since the laws that govern rationality are not absolute.  This would allow people to speak irrationally, i.e., blue sleeps faster than Wednesday.

Logical Absolutes are transcendent.

  1. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on space.
    1. They do not stop being true dependent on location.  If we travel a million light years in a direction, logical absolutes are still true.
  2. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on time.
    1. They do not stop being true dependent on time.  If we travel a billion years in the future or past, logical absolutes are still true.
  3. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on people.  That is, they are not the product of human thinking.
    1. People’s minds are different.  What one person considers to be absolute may not be what another considers to be absolute.  People often contradict each other.  Therefore, Logical Absolutes cannot be the product of human, contradictory minds.
    2. If Logical Absolutes were the product of human minds, they would cease to exist if people ceased to exist, which would mean they would be dependent on human minds.  But this cannot be so per the previous point.

Logical Absolutes are not dependent on the material world.

  1. Logical Absolutes are not found in atoms, motion, heat, under rocks, etc.
  2. Logical Absolutes cannot be photographed, frozen, weighed, or measured.
  3. Logical Absolutes are not the product of the physical universe, since that would mean they were contingent on atoms, motion, heat, etc., and that their nature was dependent on physical existence.
    1. If their nature were dependent upon physical existence, they would cease to exist when the physical universe ceases to exist.
    2. If they were properties of the universe then they could be measured the same way heat, motion, mass, etc., are measured.  Since they cannot be measured, they are not properties of the universe.
  4. But, if the universe did not exist, logical absolutes are still true.
    1. For example, if the universe did not exist, it would still be true that something cannot bring itself into existence.  The condition of the universe does not effect the truth that “Something cannot bring itself into existence.”
    2. For example,  if the universe did not exist, it would still be true that something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time.
    3. Therefore, Logical Absolutes are not dependent on the material world.

Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature.

  1. Logic is a process of the mind.  Logical absolutes provide the framework for logical thought processes.  Therefore, Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature.
  2. Expanded:  Logical absolutes are either conceptual by nature or they are not.
    1. If they are conceptual by nature, then they are not dependent upon the physical universe for their existence.
      1. If they are conceptual by nature, then they depend on mind for their existence.
    2. If they are non-conceptual by nature, then:
      1. What is their nature?
      2. If it is denied that Logical Absolutes are either conceptual or not conceptual, then there must be a 3rd (or 4th…) option. But this is impossible because “conceptual or not conceptual” is an antonymic pair (pair of opposites).  There are no other possible options.  Either Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature or they are not.

Thoughts reflect the mind

  1. A person’s thoughts reflect what he or she is.
  2. Absolutely perfect thoughts reflect an absolutely perfect mind.
  3. Since the Logical Absolutes are transcendent, absolute, are perfectly consistent, and are independent of the universe, then they reflect a transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind.
  4. We call this transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind God.

Objections Answered

  1. Logical Absolutes are the result of natural existence.
    1. In what sense are they the result of natural existence?  How do conceptual absolutes form as a result of the existence of matter?
    2. If they are a part of natural existence (the universe) then they would cease to exist if the universe ceased.
      1. This has not been proven to be true.
      2. It implies that logic is a property of physical matter, but this is addressed in point 5 above.
  2. Logical Absolutes simply exist.
    1. This is begging the question and does not provide an explanation for their existence.  Simply saying they exist is not an answer.
  3. Logical Absolutes are axioms
    1. An axiom is a truth that is self evident.  To say that Logical Absolutes are axioms is to beg the question and does not account for them.
  4. Logical Absolutes are conventions.
    1. A convention, in this context, is an agreed upon principle.  But since people differ on what is and is not true, then logical absolutes cannot be the product of human minds, and therefore are not human conventions; that is, of human agreements.
    2. This would mean that logical absolutes were invented upon an agreement by a sufficient number of people.  But this would mean that logical absolutes are a product of human minds, which cannot be the case since human minds differ and are often contradictory.  Furthermore, the nature of logical absolutes is that they transcend space and time (not dependent on space and time for their validity) and are absolute (they don’t change) by nature.  Therefore, they could not be the product of human minds which are finite and not absolute.
    3. This would mean that if people later disagreed on what was a Logical Absolute, then the absolutes would change based on “vote”.
  5. Logical Absolutes are eternal.
    1. What is meant by stating they are eternal?
    2. If a person says that logical absolutes have always existed, then how is it they could exist without a mind (if the person denies the existence of an absolute and transcendent mind)? After all, logic is a process of the mind.
  6. Logical Absolutes are uncaused.
    1. Since the nature of logic is conceptual, and logical absolutes form the framework of this conceptual process known as logic, it would be logical to conclude that the only way logical absolutes could be uncaused is if there was an uncaused and absolute mind authoring them.
  7. Logical Absolutes are self-authenticating.
    1. This means that logical absolutes validate themselves.  While this is true, it does not explain their existence.
    2. It is begging the question.  It just says they are because they are.
  8. Logical Absolutes are like rules of chess, which are not absolute and transcendent.
    1. The rules of chess are human inventions since Chess is a game invented by people.  In fact, the rules of chess have changed over the years, but logical absolutes have not.  So, comparing the rules of chess to logical absolutes is invalid.
  9. There are different kinds of logic.
    1. Saying there are different kinds of logic does not explain the existence of logical absolutes.
    2. In different systems of logic, there must be undergirding, foundational principles upon which those systems are based.  How are those foundational principles accounted for?  The same issue applies to them as it does to Logical Absolutes in classical logic.
  10. “Logical absolutes need no transcendental existence: saying ‘they would be true even if matter didn’t exist’ is irrelevant, because we’re concerned with their existence, not their logical validity.  Saying ‘the idea of a car would still exist even if matter didn’t exist’ doesn’t imply that your car is transcendental (reductio ad absurdum).”
    1. Why do logical absolutes need no transcendental existence?  Simply saying they don’t need a transcendental existence doesn’t make it so nor does it account for their existence.  “Need” deals with desire and wants, which are irrelevant to the discussion of the nature of logical absolutes.
    2. Also, why is it irrelevant to say they would be true even if matter didn’t exist?  On the contrary, it is precisely relevant to the discussion since we’re dealing with the nature of logical absolutes which are conceptual realities, not physical ones.
    3. The illustration that a car would still exist if matter did not exist is illogical.  By definition, a car is made of matter and if matter did not exist, a car could not logically exist.  By contrast, logical absolutes are not made of matter.  The objection is invalid.
  11. “Logical abstractions do not have existence independent of our minds.  They are constructs in our minds (i.e. brains), and we use them to carry out computations via neural networks, silicon networks, etc., suggested by the fact that logic – like language – is learned, not inbuilt (ball’s in your court to demonstrate an independent existence, or problem with this).”  (…continued in next objection…)
    1. How do you know that logical abstractions do not have existence independent of our minds?  Saying so doesn’t make it so.  This is precisely one of the points about the nature of logical absolutes; namely, that they are a process of the mind, but are not dependent upon human bodies because human minds contradict each other and are also self-contradictory.  This would preclude our minds from being the authors of what is logically absolute.  Furthermore, if they are constructions of our minds, then all I have to do is claim victory in any argument because that is how I construct my logical abstractions.  But, of course, you wouldn’t accept this as being valid.  Therefore, this demonstrates that your assertion is incorrect.
    2. How can an atheist logically claim that one chemical state in the brain which leads to another state necessitates proper logical inference?  It seems quite unlikely and without proof of some sort, saying that Logical Absolutes are abstractions of (human) minds doesn’t account for them.
  12. (continued from previous objection…) “Logical absolutes are absolute, not because of some special quality, but because we judge them using logic.  Therefore, their absoluteness doesn’t arise from any special ontological quality (category error on your part).”
    1. You are begging the question.  You use logic to demonstrate that logical absolutes are absolute.  You are not giving a rational reason for their existence.  Instead, you assume their existence and argue accordingly.
    2. Furthermore, when you presuppose the validity of logical absolutes to demonstrate they are absolute, you contradict your statement in your previous objection about them being constructs of human minds.  They cannot be constructs of human minds, because human minds contradict each other and themselves where Logical Absolutes do not.
    3. Where is the category mistake?  The nature of logical absolutes is that they are conceptual.  This is something I have brought out before so that their categories do not get mixed.  The nature of logical absolutes is exactly relevant to the question.
  13. (continued from previous objection…) “Logical absolutes can be accurately described as conventions in communication. The fact that they are widely employed does not imply anything transcendental, anymore than the wide employment of the word “lolly” as something small and yummy implies that the word “lolly” is transcendental (non sequitor).”
    1. Saying that they are “widely employed does not imply anything transcendental” is inaccurate.  Something that is transcendental, as in logical absolutes, would naturally be widely employed because they are valid and transcendent; otherwise, they wouldn’t be universally used.  You have recognized that they are widely used, but they are because they are transcendent.  They do not become transcendent because they are widely used.
    2. This still does not account for the existence of logical absolutes.
  14. (continued from previous objection…) “Logical processes are clearly carried out by material constructs, usually neural or electrical.  They do this without any known “input” or “guidance” from anything transcendental, which makes you wonder why anything transcendental is needed in the equation at all (reality check).”
    1. You haven’t defined “material construct” or what you mean by neural or electrical (constructs).  If you mean a computer or something of that kind, this doesn’t help you because humans designed them using logic.  If you mean that they are the process of the human brain, you still haven’t solved the problem of their existence; since the implication would be that if our minds do not exist, logical absolutes would not exist either.  But this would mean that logical absolutes were not absolute, but dependent upon human minds.  Again, the problem would be that human minds are different and contradict each other.  Therefore, logical absolutes, which are not contradictory, cannot be the product of minds that are contradictory.
    2. As stated above how does one establish that one chemical state in the brain which leads to another state necessitates proper logical inference?  Asserting it doesn’t make it so and concluding that chemical reactions lead to logical inferences has not yet been established to be true, or even that it could be at all.
    3. You don’t have to know the input or understand the guidance from anything transcendental for the transcendentals to be true.
  15. “Logic is one of those characteristics that any healthy human ‘has.’  It’s not free to vary from one person to the next for the same kind of reason that ‘number of eyes’ is a value that doesn’t vary between healthy humans.”
    1. Saying that logic is something that everyone “has” does not explain its existence.  Essentially, this is begging the question, stating that something exists because it exists.
    2. The analogy of “eyes” is a category mistake.  Eyes are organs.  Different organisms have different kinds of eyes and different numbers of eyes.  Logic is consistent and independent of biological structures.
  16. Logic is the result of the semantics of the language which we have chosen: a statement is a theorem of logic if and only if it is valid in all conceivable worlds.  If the language is trivalent (true/indetermined/false), tertium non datur is invalid.  Uniformity of the universe can be rationally expected in a non-theistic universe.  If there is no one around with the transcendental power to change it, why should the behavior of the universe tomorrow differ from its behavior today?
    1. “Semantics of the language.”  Semantics deals with the study of the meaning of words, their development, changes in meaning, and the interpretation of words, etc.  But semantics by nature deals with the changing meaning of words and the often subjective nature of language and its structures.  To say the absolutes of logic are a result of the use of the subjective meanings of words is problematic.  How do you derive logical absolutes from the non-absolute semantic structures of non-absolute languages?
      Furthermore, simply asserting that logic is a result of the semantics of the language does not explain the transcendent nature of logic.  Remember, the TAG argument asserts that Logical Absolutes are independent of human existence — reasons given at the beginning of the paper.  Since language, in this context, is a result of human existence, the argument would suggest that logic came into existence when language came into existence.  But this would invalidate the nature of logical absolutes and their transcendent characteristics.  Therefore, this objection is invalid.
    2. If logic is the result of language, then logic came into existence with language.  This cannot be for the reasons stated above.
    3. If logic is the result of language, and since language rules change, then can we conclude that the laws of logic would also change?  If so, then the laws of logic are not laws, they are not absolute.
    4. Saying that “a statement is a theorem of logic” does not account for logic, but presupposes existence of logic.  This is begging the question.

Evolution Cannot Account for: Logic, Reasoning, Love, Truth, or Justice

One of the most deep thinkers of the Founding Fathers, John Adams, noted that even “liberty” ~you know, one of the ideals impregnating our Founding Documents~ would be groundless if naturalism were true [among other things]:

Atheism—pure, unadulterated atheism…. The universe was matter only, and eternal Spirit was a word without a meaning. Liberty was a word without a meaning. There was no liberty in the universe; liberty was a word void of sense. Every thought, word, passion, sentiment, feeling, all motion and action was necessary [determinism]. All beings and attributes were of eternal necessity; conscience, morality, were all nothing but fate. This was their creed, and this was to perfect human nature, and convert the earth into a paradise of pleasure… Why, then, should we abhor the word “God,” and fall in love with the word “fate”? We know there exists energy and intellect enough to produce such a world as this, which is a sublime and beautiful one, and a very benevolent one, notwithstanding all our snarling; and a happy one, if it is not made otherwise by our own fault.

(See more context)

Ever hear an atheist say he’s a freethinker? Well, if atheism is true, an atheist, cannot be free nor would his thinking make any real sense. Frank Turek explains.

  • ‘If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.’ (J.B.S. Haldane)”

These are some of my favorite quotes and dealing with “naturalism” and their logical end-result, consequences, or logical conclusions. Merely a combining of MANY quotes and a “not-so-few” videos.

Why Atheism Cannot Account for Logic and Reasoning from shirley rose on Vimeo.

If you read the threads of several of the blog entries on this site, you will see both atheists and Christians charging one another with committing “logical fallacies.”  The assumption both sides are making is that there is this objective realm of reason out there that: 1) we all have access to; 2) tells us the truth about the real world; and 3) is something we ought to use correctly if we want to know the truth. I think those are good assumptions.  My question for the atheists is how do you justify these assumptions if there is no God?

If atheistic materialism is true, it seems to me that reason itself is impossible. For if mental processes are nothing but chemical reactions in the brain, then there is no reason to believe that anything is true (including the theory of materialism). Chemicals can’t evaluate whether or not a theory is true. Chemicals don’t reason, they react.

This is ironic because atheists– who often claim to be champions of truth and reason– have made truth and reason impossible by their theory of materialism. So even when atheists are right about something, their worldview gives us no reason to believe them because reason itself is impossible in a world governed only by chemical and physical forces.

Not only is reason impossible in an atheistic world, but the typical atheist assertion that we should rely on reason alone cannot be justified. Why not? Because reason actually requires faith. As J. Budziszewski points out in his book What We Can’t Not Know, “The motto ‘Reason Alone!’ is nonsense anyway. Reason itself presupposes faith. Why? Because a defense of reason by reason is circular, therefore worthless. Our only guarantee that human reason works is God who made it.“

Let’s unpack Budziszewski‘s point by considering the source of reason. Our ability to reason can come from one of only two sources: either our ability to reason arose from preexisting intelligence or it did not, in which case it arose from mindless matter. The atheists/Darwinists/materialists believe, by faith, that our minds arose from mindless matter without intelligent intervention. I say “by faith” because it contradicts all scientific observation, which demonstrates that an effect cannot be greater than its cause. You can’t give what you haven’t got, yet atheists believe that dead, unintelligent matter has produced itself into intelligent life. This is like believing that the Library of Congress resulted from an explosion in a printing shop.

I think it makes much more sense to believe that the human mind is made in the image of the Great Mind– God. In other words, our minds can apprehend truth and can reason about reality because they were built by the Architect of truth, reality, and reason itself.

So I have two questions for atheists:  1) What is the source of this immaterial reality known as reason that we are all presupposing, utilizing in our discussions, and accusing one other of violating on occasion?; and 2) If there is no God and we are nothing but chemicals, why should we trust anything we think, including the thought that there is no God?

(Cross Examined)

Let’s consider a basic question: Why does the natural world make any sense to begin with? Albert Einstein once remarked that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. Why should we be able to grasp the beauty, elegance, and complexity of our universe?

Einstein understood a basic truth about science, namely, that it relies upon certain philosophical assumptions about the natural world. These assumptions include the existence of an external world that is orderly and rational, and the trustworthiness of our minds to grasp that world. Science cannot proceed apart from these assumptions, even though they cannot be independently proven. Oxford professor John C. Lennox asks a penetrating question, “At the heart of all science lies the conviction that the universe is orderly. Without this deep conviction science would not be possible. So we are entitled to ask: Where does the conviction come from?”” Why is the world orderly? And why do our minds comprehend this order?

Toward the end of The God Delusion, Dawkins admits that since we are the product of natural selection, our senses cannot be fully trusted. After all, according to Darwinian evolution, our senses have been formed to aid survival, not necessarily to deliver true belief. Since a human being has been cobbled together through the blind process of natural selection acting on random mutation, says Dawkins, it’s unlikely that our views of the world are completely true. Outspoken philosopher of neuro-science Patricia Churchland agrees:

The principle chore of brains is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it… enhances the organism’s chances for survival. Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost.

Dawkins is on the right track to suggest that naturalism should lead people to be skeptical about trusting their senses. Dawkins just doesn’t take his skepticism far enough. In Miracles, C. S. Lewis points out that knowledge depends upon the reliability of our mental faculties. If human reasoning is not trustworthy, then no scientific conclusions can be considered true or false. In fact, we couldn’t have any knowledge about the world, period. Our senses must be reliable to acquire knowledge of the world, and our reasoning faculties must be reliable to process the acquired knowledge. But this raises a particularly thorny dilemma for atheism. If the mind has developed through the blind, irrational, and material process of Darwinian evolution, then why should we trust it at all? Why should we believe that the human brain—the outcome of an accidental process—actually puts us in touch with reality? Science cannot be used as an answer to this question, because science itself relies upon these very assumptions.

Even Charles Darwin was aware of this problem: “The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the conviction of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” If Darwinian evolution is true, we should distrust the cognitive faculties that make science possible.

Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2010), 37-38.

….Darwin thought that, had the circumstances for reproductive fitness been different, then the deliverances of conscience might have been radically different. “If… men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill  their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering” (Darwin, Descent, 82). As it happens, we weren’t “reared” after the manner of hive bees, and so we have widespread and strong beliefs about the sanctity of human life and its implications for how we should treat our siblings and our offspring.

But this strongly suggests that we would have had whatever beliefs were ultimately fitness producing given the circumstances of survival. Given the background belief of naturalism, there appears to be no plausible Darwinian reason for thinking that the fitness-producing predispositions that set the parameters for moral reflection have anything whatsoever to do with the truth of the resulting moral beliefs. One might be able to make a case for thinking that having true beliefs about, say, the predatory behaviors of tigers would, when combined with the understandable desire not to be eaten, be fitness producing. But the account would be far from straightforward in the case of moral beliefs.” And so the Darwinian explanation undercuts whatever reason the naturalist might have had for thinking that any of our moral beliefs is true. The result is moral skepticism.

If our pretheoretical moral convictions are largely the product of natural selection, as Darwin’s theory implies, then the moral theories we find plausible are an indirect result of that same evolutionary process. How, after all, do we come to settle upon a proposed moral theory and its principles as being true? What methodology is available to us?

Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, eds., Contending With Christianity’s Critics: Answering the New Atheists & Other Objections (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2009), 70.

See also my post on logical conclusions in meta-ethics and evil (like rape), HERE:

…if evolution were true, then there would be selection only for survival advantage; and there would be no reason to suppose that this would necessarily include rationality. After a talk on the Christian roots of science in Canada, 2010, one atheopathic* philosophy professor argued that natural selection really would select for logic and rationality. I responded by pointing out that under his worldview, theistic religion is another thing that ‘evolved’, and this is something he regards as irrational. So under his own worldview he believes that natural selection can select powerfully for irrationality, after all. English doctor and insightful social commentator Theodore Dalrymple (who is a non-theist himself) shows up the problem in a refutation of New Atheist Daniel Dennett:

Dennett argues that religion is explicable in evolutionary terms—for example, by our inborn human propensity, at one time valuable for our survival on the African savannahs, to attribute animate agency to threatening events.

For Dennett, to prove the biological origin of belief in God is to show its irrationality, to break its spell. But of course it is a necessary part of the argument that all possible human beliefs, including belief in evolution, must be explicable in precisely the same way; or else why single out religion for this treatment? Either we test ideas according to arguments in their favour, independent of their origins, thus making the argument from evolution irrelevant, or all possible beliefs come under the same suspicion of being only evolutionary adaptations—and thus biologically contingent rather than true or false. We find ourselves facing a version of the paradox of the Cretan liar: all beliefs, including this one, are the products of evolution, and all beliefs that are products of evolution cannot be known to be true.

Jonathan D. Sarfati, The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, And Scientific Commentary On Genesis 1-11 (Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2015), 259-259.

* Atheopath or Atheopathy: “Leading misotheist [“hatred of God” or “hatred of the gods”] Richard Dawkins [one can insert many names here] often calls theistic religion a ‘virus of the mind’, which would make it a kind of disease or pathology, and parents who teach it to their kids are, in Dawkins’ view, supposedly practising mental child abuse. But the sorts of criteria Dawkins applies makes one wonder whether his own fanatical antitheism itself could be a mental pathology—hence, ‘atheopath’.” (Taken from the Creation.com article, “The biblical roots of modern science,” by Jonathan Sarfati [published: 19 May 2012] ~ comments in the “[ ]” are mine.)

Even Darwin had some misgivings about the reliability of human beliefs. He wrote, “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

Given unguided evolution, “Darwin’s Doubt” is a reasonable one. Even given unguided or blind evolution, it’s difficult to say how probable it is that creatures—even creatures like us—would ever develop true beliefs. In other words, given the blindness of evolution, and that its ultimate “goal” is merely the survival of the organism (or simply the propagation of its genetic code), a good case can be made that atheists find themselves in a situation very similar to Hume’s.

The Nobel Laureate and physicist Eugene Wigner echoed this sentiment: “Certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.” That is, atheists have a reason to doubt whether evolution would result in cognitive faculties that produce mostly true beliefs. And if so, then they have reason to withhold judgment on the reliability of their cognitive faculties. Like before, as in the case of Humean agnostics, this ignorance would, if atheists are consistent, spread to all of their other beliefs, including atheism and evolution. That is, because there’s no telling whether unguided evolution would fashion our cognitive faculties to produce mostly true beliefs, atheists who believe the standard evolutionary story must reserve judgment about whether any of their beliefs produced by these faculties are true. This includes the belief in the evolutionary story. Believing in unguided evolution comes built in with its very own reason not to believe it.

This will be an unwelcome surprise for atheists. To make things worse, this news comes after the heady intellectual satisfaction that Dawkins claims evolution provided for thoughtful unbelievers. The very story that promised to save atheists from Hume’s agnostic predicament has the same depressing ending.

It’s obviously difficult for us to imagine what the world would be like in such a case where we have the beliefs that we do and yet very few of them are true. This is, in part, because we strongly believe that our beliefs are true (presumably not all of them are, since to err is human—if we knew which of our beliefs were false, they would no longer be our beliefs).

Suppose you’re not convinced that we could survive without reliable belief-forming capabilities, without mostly true beliefs. Then, according to Plantinga, you have all the fixins for a nice argument in favor of God’s existence For perhaps you also think that—given evolution plus atheism—the probability is pretty low that we’d have faculties that produced mostly true beliefs. In other words, your view isn’t “who knows?” On the contrary, you think it’s unlikely that blind evolution has the skill set for manufacturing reliable cognitive mechanisms. And perhaps, like most of us, you think that we actually have reliable cognitive faculties and so actually have mostly true beliefs. If so, then you would be reasonable to conclude that atheism is pretty unlikely. Your argument, then, would go something like this: if atheism is true, then it’s unlikely that most of our beliefs are true; but most of our beliefs are true, therefore atheism is probably false.

Notice something else. The atheist naturally thinks that our belief in God is false. That’s just what atheists do. Nevertheless, most human beings have believed in a god of some sort, or at least in a supernatural realm. But suppose, for argument’s sake, that this widespread belief really is false, and that it merely provides survival benefits for humans, a coping mechanism of sorts. If so, then we would have additional evidence—on the atheist’s own terms—that evolution is more interested in useful beliefs than in true ones. Or, alternatively, if evolution really is concerned with true beliefs, then maybe the widespread belief in God would be a kind of “evolutionary” evidence for his existence.

You’ve got to wonder.

Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith (to the Head): Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 44-45.

  • “Relativists aren’t interested in finding truth but in preserving their own autonomy. This isn’t a logical argument against relativism, of course. I’m just trying to point out that the true(!) basis for relativism is ultimately rooted in its motivation rather than in any good reasons or persuasive arguments.” — Paul Copan

This childish rejection of God in light of the evidence provided through the Book of Nature comes way of True Free Thinker, and shows the juvenile manner in which evidence is rejected in lieu of the ego:

…Lewis Wolpert simplistic dismissal of any and all intelligent design and creationism discoveries as “There is no evidence for them at all” is no less than an intellectual embarrassment and that he insists that “They must be kept out of science lessons” shows why he is the vice-president of an Atheist activism group.

And his dismissal of God is just as unimpressive, “There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of God.”

But what scientific, evidence based, academic, scholarly reasons does Wolpert himself offer for having become an Atheist?:

I stopped believing in God when I was 15 or 16 because he didn’t give me what I asked for. [1]

Keith Ward asked Wolpert, “What sort of evidence would count for you? Would it have to be scientific evidence of some sort?” to which the reply was, “Well, no… I think I read somewhere: If he turned the pond on Hamstead Heath into good champagne, it would be quite impressive”[2]. And yet, the historical record is that Jesus turned water into wine and that is still not good enough, is it?

[My addition: no it isn’t, some people like champaigne and not wine]

Lewis Wolpert also stated, “I used to pray but I gave it up because when I asked God to help me find my cricket bat, he didn’t help.” Thus, Justin Brieley stated, “Right, and that was enough for you to prove that God did not exist” to which Wolpert replied, “Well, yes. I just gave it up completely.”[3]

[1] Lewis Wolpert, “The Hard Cell,” Third Way, March 2007 AD, p. 17

[2] Ibid., p. 16

[3] From an interview on the Unbelievable show titled, What Does Science Tell Us About God?

…read more…

(For the above audio) Well respected [in evolutionary circles] University College London Professor (Emeritus) of Cell and Developmental Biology answers this, and explains that most people want more. And indeed, the Judeo-Christian God is the only answer to this conundrum. You can see how the answer to the problem actually resonates and responds to the truth of human need.

In other words, if naturalistic evolution is true, reductionism is also in play. Then we are determined by the chemical make-up, firing of synapses, and whole of historical events leading up to us controlling our actions. So one could ask in all seriousness, “how much does love weigh?”

It is a cold world, unbelief.

What is love? Here are two possibilities:

1) chemical reactions in your brain perceived as feelings of loyalty toward a single co-parent for the purpose of rearing a child together, at least until it’s weaned
2) the ultimate good, a reflection of the image of God upon humanity

Arguments often arise by using the same words to mean different things. One worldview (Christianity) views love as the ultimate good in the material world and beyond.

Let’s look at how love is viewed by two different worldviews: Christianity and naturalism.

On Christianity, love is ultimately:

a) the state of affairs existing prior to the creation of the universe, flowing between the Father and the Son via the Holy Spirit, the vehicle of love
b) the highest good
c) the ultimate goal, an act of worship.

On naturalism, love is ultimately:

a) the evolutionary mechanism to ensure the survival of children and the propagation of our species
b) a nice concept, something to distract you from the depressing thought of a meaningless existence
c) an amusing illusion

Your worldview will shape how you understand the concept of love…

…read more…

I wish to start out with an excerpt from a chapter in my book where I use two scholarly works that use Darwinian naturalism as a guide to their ethic:

  • Dale Peterson and Richard Wrangham, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 1997).
  • Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).

My incorporation of these works into my book (quote):

“Lest one think this line of thinking is insane, that is: sexual acts are something from our evolutionary past and advantageous; rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success….. The first concept that one must understand is that these authors do not view nature alone as imposing a moral “oughtness” into the situation of survival of the fittest. They view rape, for instance, in its historical evolutionary context as neither right nor wrong ethically. Rape, is neither moral nor immoral vis-à-vis evolutionary lines of thought, even if ingrained in us from our evolutionary paths of survival. Did you catch that? Even if a rape occurs today, it is neither moral nor immoral, it is merely currently taboo. The biological, amoral, justification of rape is made often times as a survival mechanism bringing up the net “survival status” of a species, usually fraught with examples of homosexual worms, lesbian seagulls, and the like.”

(pp. 7-9 of  Roman-Epicurean-ism-Natural-Law-and-Homosexuality)

Now, hear from other atheist and evolutionary apologists themselves in regard to the matter:

Richard Dawkins

(h/t: Atheism Analyzed) – A Statement Made by an atheist at the Atheist and Agnostic Society:

Some atheists do believe in ethical absolutes, some don’t. My answer is a bit more complicated — I don’t believe that there are any axiological claims which are absolutely true, except within the context of one person’s opinion.

That is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are ethics. So, why is Adolf Hitler wrong? Because he murdered millions, and his only justification, even if it were valid, was based on things which he should have known were factually wrong. Why is it wrong to do that? Because I said so. Unless you actually disagree with me — unless you want to say that Adolf Hitler was right — I’m not sure I have more to say.

[side note] You may also be aware that Richard Dawkins stated,

  • “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.”

Stated during an interview with Larry Taunton, “Richard Dawkins: The Atheist Evangelist,” by Faith Magazine, Issue Number 18, December 2007 (copyright; 2007-2008)

Lewis Wolpert

From the video description:

Atheists Trying to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too on Morality. This video shows that when an atheist denies objective morality they also affirm moral good and evil without the thought of any contradiction or inconsistency on their part.

Dan Barker

This is from the video Description for the Dan Barker video below:

The atheist’s animal-level view of “morality” is completely skewed by dint of its lack of objectivity. In fact, the atheist makes up his own personal version of “morals” as he goes along, and this video provides an eye-opening example of this bizarre phenomenon of the atheist’s crippled psyche:

During this debate, the atheist stated that he believed rape was morally acceptable, then he actually stated that he would rape a little girl and then kill himself — you have just got to hear his psychotic words with your own ears to believe it!

He then stammered and stumbled through a series of ridiculously lame excuses for his shameful lack of any type of moral compass.

To the utter amazement of his opponent and all present in the audience, the gruesomely amoral atheist even goes so far as to actually crack a sick little joke on the subject of SERIAL CHILD-RAPE!

:::shudders:::

Meanwhile, the Christian in the video gracefully and heroically realizes the clearly objective moral values that unquestionably come to humanity by God’s grace, and yet are far beyond the lower animal’s and the atheist’s tenuous mental grasp. Be sure to keep watching until the very end so that you can hear the Christian’s final word — it’s a real knuckle-duster!

Atheist dogma not only fails to provide a stable platform for objective human morality for its adherent — it precludes him even the possibility. It’s this very intellectual inability to apprehend any objective moral values that leads such believers in atheist dogma as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Dahmer to commit their horrific atheistic atrocities.

Any believer in atheist dogma, given sufficient power, would take the exact same course of action that Hitler did, without a moment’s hesitation.

Note as well that evolutionary naturalism has very dogmatic implication, IF — that is — the honest atheist/evolutionist follow the matter to their logical conclusions, via the ineffable Dr. Provine:

William Provine

Atheist and staunch evolutionist Dr. William Provine (who is often quoted by Richard Dawkins) admits what life has in stored if Darwinism is true. The quote comes from his debate here with Dr. Phillip E. Johnson at Stanford University, April 30, 1994.

“We must ask first whether the theory of evolution by natural selection is scientific or pseudoscientific …. Taking the first part of the theory, that evolution has occurred, it says that the history of life is a single process of species-splitting and progression. This process must be unique and unrepeatable, like the history of England. This part of the theory is therefore a historical theory, about unique events, and unique events are, by definition, not part of science, for they are unrepeatable and so not subject to test.”

Colin Patterson [1978] (Dr. Patterson was Senior Principal Scientific Officer of the Paleontology Department of the British Museum of Natural History in London.)

People think evolution is “science proper.” It is not, it is both a historical science and a [philosophical] presupposition in its “neo-Darwinian” form. The presupposition that removes it from “science proper and moves it into “scientism” is explained by an atheist philosopher:

If science really is permanently committed to methodological naturalism – the philosophical position that restricts all explanations in science to naturalistic explanations – it follows that the aim of science is not generating true theories. Instead, the aim of science would be something like: generating the best theories that can be formulated subject to the restriction that the theories are naturalistic. More and more evidence could come in suggesting that a supernatural being exists, but scientific theories wouldn’t be allowed to acknowledge that possibility.

Bradley Monton, author of Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design ~ Apologetics315 h/t

In other words, the guy most credited in getting us to the moon used science to get us there, but was a young earth creationist. His view on “origins” (origin science) is separate from his working science. Two categories.

Likewise one of the most celebrated pediatric surgeons in the world, whom a movie was made after, “Gifted Hands,” is a young earth creationist. And the inventor of the MRI, a machine that diagnosed my M.S., is also a young earth creationist.

Evolutionary Darwinism is first and foremost an “historical science” that has many presuppositions that precede it, making it a metaphysical belief, a philosophy, as virulent anti-creationist philosopher of science, Michael Ruse explains:

Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. . . . Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.

Michael Ruse, “Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians,” National Post (May 13, 2000), p. B-3. (Via ICR)

The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy [New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942], pp. 161-162. Found in: Norman L. Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions About the Christian Faith [Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2001], 206.

He thus acknowledged the need for any theory to allow that humans have genuine freedom to recognize the truth. He (again, correctly) saw that if all thought, belief, feeling, and choice are determined (i.e., forced on humans by outside conditions) then so is the determinists’ acceptance of the theory of determinism forced on them by those same conditions. In that case they could never claim to know their theory is true since the theory making that claim would be self-referentially incoherent. In other words, the theory requires that no belief is ever a free judgment made on the basis of experience or reason, but is always a compulsion over which the believer has no control.

Roy A. Clouser, The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2005), 174.

If what he says is true, he says it merely as the result of his heredity and environment, and nothing else. He does not hold his determinist views because they are true, but because he has such-and-such stimuli; that is, not because the structure of the structure of the universe is such-and-such but only because the configuration of only part of the universe, together with the structure of the determinist’s brain, is such as to produce that result…. They [determinists – I would posit any philosophical naturalist] want to be considered as rational agents arguing with other rational agents; they want their beliefs to be construed as beliefs, and subjected to rational assessment; and they want to secure the rational assent of those they argue with, not a brainwashed repetition of acquiescent pattern. Consistent determinists should regard it as all one whether they induce conformity to their doctrines by auditory stimuli or a suitable injection of hallucinogens: but in practice they show a welcome reluctance to get out their syringes, which does equal credit to their humanity and discredit to their views. Determinism, therefore, cannot be true, because if it was, we should not take the determinists’ arguments as being really arguments, but as being only conditioned reflexes. Their statements should not be regarded as really claiming to be true, but only as seeking to cause us to respond in some way desired by them.

J. R. Lucas, The Freedom of the Will (New York: NY: Oxford University Press, 1970), 114, 115.

One of the most intriguing aspects mentioned by Ravi Zacharias of a lecture he attended entitled Determinism – Is Man a Slave or the Master of His Fate, given by Stephen Hawking, who is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Isaac Newton’s chair, was this admission by Dr. Hawking’s, was Hawking’s admission that if “we are the random products of chance, and hence, not free, or whether God had designed these laws within which we are free.”[1] In other words, do we have the ability to make choices, or do we simply follow a chemical reaction induced by millions of mutational collisions of free atoms?[2] Michael Polyni mentions that this “reduction of the world to its atomic elements acting blindly in terms of equilibrations of forces,” a belief that has prevailed “since the birth of modern science, has made any sort of teleological view of the cosmos seem unscientific…. [to] the contemporary mind.”[3]

[1] Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 118, 119.
[2] My own summation.
[3] Michael Polanyi and Harry Prosch, Meaning (Chicago, IL: Chicago university Press, 1977), 162.

What merit would attach to moral virtue if the acts that form such habitual tendencies and dispositions were not acts of free choice on the part of the individual who was in the process of acquiring moral virtue? Persons of vicious moral character would have their characters formed in a manner no different from the way in which the character of a morally virtuous person was formed—by acts entirely determined, and that could not have been otherwise by freedom of choice.

Mortimer J. Adler, Ten Philosophical Mistakes (New York, NY: Touchstone, 1985), 154.

If we were free persons, with faculties which we might carelessly use or wilfully misuse, the fact might be explained; but the pre-established harmony excludes this supposition. And since our faculties lead us into error, when shall we trust them? Which of the many opinions they have produced is really true? By hypothesis, they all ought to be true, but, as they contradict one another, all cannot be true. How, then, distinguish between the true and the false? By taking a vote? That cannot be, for, as determined, we have not the power to take a vote. Shall we reach the truth by reasoning? This we might do, if reasoning were a self-poised, self verifying process; but this it cannot be in a deterministic system. Reasoning implies the power to control one’s thoughts, to resist the processes of association, to suspend judgment until the transparent order of reason has been readied. It implies freedom, therefore. In a mind which is controlled by its states, instead of controlling them, there is no reasoning, but only a succession of one state upon another. There is no deduction from grounds, but only production by causes. No belief has any logical advantage over any other, for logic is no longer possible.

Borden P Bowne, Metaphysics: A Study In First Principles (originally published in 1882; London: Sampson Low, Searle & Rivington, 2005), 105.

“Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”

Mussolini, Diuturna (1924) pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18

“First Things” Exemplifies Modern Man’s “Red Herring”

... LAWS!

  • Newton is a leading contributor to the scientific worldview, and yet he does not bind himself by the assumption of uninterruptible natural law ~ Bradley Monton
  • The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern to which events conform but of feeding new events into that pattern ~ CS Lewis
  • Meredith’s whole argument about ID, miracles, and the so-called “breaking” of natural laws is nothing but a red herring. Again, the real issue is about the nature of causation not about natural law ~ Michael Flannery

In the most recent issue of First Things (February 2014), Stephen Meredith attempted to critique Intelligent Design theory, by, essentially creating straw-men arguments or by debating issues others have dealt with well.

Later in this “short” review of topics that caught my critical eye, we will see the similar vein John Derbyshire takes in the January/February (2014) issue of The American Spectator in comparing ID to Islam.

AT LEAST American Spectator had the foresight to have an alternative view side-by-side, so you get to see what an erudite, idea filled presentation looks like (Stephen Meyer’s)…

— a portion of which I will publish at the bottom from a magazine I recommend highly

…alongside another filled with fallacious arguments, non-sequiturs, and a lack of intelligence in laying out a positive case (John Derbyshire).

First, however, my mind went immediately to David Hume and CS Lewis after reading the following from Stephen Meredith in the First Things article:

If God is omnipotent—that is, can do all that is possible without self-contradiction—what is the re­lationship between God and causality? Is there any causality outside an omnipotent God? Or is anything in nature that seems to act as an efficient cause only carrying out the causality of God, with no agency of its own? These questions get to the heart of a philosophical problem posed by Intelligent Design: It supposes that natural law, which is the basis for science, operates most of the time but is periodically suspended, as in the Cambrian “explosion” and the origin of life itself.

As well as reading John Derbyshire in the American Spectator article:

…IT IS THE religious aspect that causes most scientists to shy away from ID. Not that scientists all hate God. Many of them are devout.…

…The metaphysics of ID is occasionalist. It holds, to abbreviate the doctrine rather drasti­cally, that causation is an illusion; that every­thing happens because God makes it happen.

Why does ice float on water? Aristotle thought it was a matter of shape (see On the Heavens, IV.6). Science says it’s because ice is less dense than water. The occasionalist says it’s because God wills it so….

…But: Ice floats on water because God wills it so? Oh.

This straw-man built up by Mr. Derbyshire seems likewise heavily influenced by Hume, who said in his well known essay entitled, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, the following:

“A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience as can be imagined  … It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle that a dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed, in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation.”

(David Hume: The Essential Philosophical Works, eBook, [2012], pages 662 and 663)

John Lennox breaks down Hume’s argument thus:

A. Argument from the uniformity of nature:

1. Miracles are violations of the laws of nature
2. These laws have been established by ‘firm and unalterable’ experience
3. Therefore, the argument against miracle is as good as any argument from experience can be

B.  Argument from the uniformity of experience:

1. Unusual, yet frequently observed, events are not miracles – like a healthy person suddenly dropping dead
2. A resurrection would be a miracle because it has never been observed anywhere at any time
3. There is uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise it would not be called miraculous

Dr. Lennox continues:

Are miracles ‘violations of the laws of nature’

Argument 1.    Hume says that accounts of miracles ‘are observed chiefly to abound among ignorant and barbarous nations’ (op.cit. p.79).

Fallacy. In order to recognise some event as a miracle, there must be some perceived regularity to which that event is an apparent exception! You cannot recognise something which is abnormal, if you do not know what is normal. Example: 1) virgin conception of Jesus; 2) conception of John the Baptist.

Argument 2.    Now that we know the laws of nature, belief in miracles is impossible.

Fallacy. The danger of confusion between legal and scientific use of word law. Why it is inaccurate and misleading to say that miracles ‘violate’ the laws of nature. It is rather, that God feeds new events into the system from time to time. There is no alteration to or suspension of the laws themselves.   

‘If God annihilates or creates or deflects a unit of matter, He has created a new situation at that point.  Immediately all nature domiciles this new situation, makes it at home in her realm, adapts all other events to it. It finds itself conforming to all the laws. If God creates a miraculous spermatozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take over. Nature is ready. Pregnancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later a child is born’ (C.S Lewis, Miracles. p.63).

Continuing with CS Lewis and his relating to us this “red herring” of naturalism in rejecting the miraculous/metaphysical aspects of reality:

The first Red Herring is this. Any day you may hear a man (and not necessarily a disbeliever in God) say of some alleged miracle, “No. Of course I don’t believe that. We know it is contrary to the laws of Nature. People could believe it in olden times because they didn’t know the laws of Nature. We know now that it is a scientific impossibility.”

By the “laws of Nature” such a man means, I think, the ob­served course of Nature. If he means anything more than that he is not the plain man I take him for but a philosophic Natu­ralist and will be dealt with in the next chapter. The man I have in view believes that mere experience (and specially those artificially contrived experiences which we call Exper­iments) can tell us what regularly happens in Nature. And he finks that what we have discovered excludes the possibility of Miracle. This is a confusion of mind.

Granted that miracles can occur, it is, of course, for experi­ence to say whether one has done so on any given occasion. But mere experience, even if prolonged for a million years, cannot tell us whether the thing is possible. Experiment finds out what regularly happens in Nature: the norm or rule to which she works. Those who believe in miracles are not deny­ing that there is such a norm or rule: they are only saying that it can be suspended. A miracle is by definition an exception.

[….]

The idea that the progress of science has somehow altered this question is closely bound up with the idea that people “in olden times” believed in them “because they didn’t know the laws of Nature.” Thus you will hear people say, “The early Christians believed that Christ was the son of a virgin, but we know that this is a scientific impossibility.” Such people seem to have an idea that belief in miracles arose at a period when men were so ignorant of the cause of nature that they did not perceive a miracle to be contrary to it. A moment’s thought shows this to be nonsense: and the story of the Virgin Birth is a particularly striking example. When St. Joseph discovered that his fiancee was going to have a baby, he not unnaturally decided to repudiate her. Why? Because he knew just as well as any modern gynaecologist that in the ordinary course of na­ture women do not have babies unless they have lain with men. No doubt the modern gynaecologist knows several things about birth and begetting which St. Joseph did not know. But those things do not concern the main point—that a virgin birth is contrary to the course of nature. And St. Joseph obviously knew that. In any sense in which it is true to say now, “The thing is scientifically impossible,” he would have said the same: the thing always was, and was always known to be, impossible unless the regular processes of nature were, in this particular case, being over-ruled or supple­mented by something from beyond nature. When St. Joseph finally accepted the view that his fiancee’s pregnancy was due not to unchastity but to a miracle, he accepted the miracle as something contrary to the known order of nature. All records

[….]

It is therefore inaccurate to define a miracle as something that breaks the laws of Nature. It doesn’t. If I knock out my pipe I alter the position of a great many atoms: in the long run, and to an infinitesimal degree, of all the atoms there are. Nature digests or assimilates this event with perfect ease and harmonises it in a twinkling with all other events. It is one more bit of raw material for the laws to apply to, and they ap­ply. I have simply thrown one event into the general cataract of events and it finds itself at home there and conforms to all other events. If God annihilates or creates or deflects a unit of matter He has created a new situation at that point. Imme­diately all Nature domiciles this new situation, makes it at home in her realm, adapts all other events to it. It finds itself conforming to all the laws. If God creates a miraculous sper­matozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take it over. Nature is ready. Preg­nancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later a child is born. We see every day that physical nature is not in the least incommoded by the daily inrush of events from biological nature or from psychological nature. If events ever come from beyond Nature altogether, she will be no more incommoded by them. Be sure she will rush to the point where she is invaded, as the defensive forces rush to a cut in our finger, and there hasten to accommodate the new­comer. The moment it enters her realm it obeys all her laws. Miraculous wine will intoxicate, miraculous conception will lead to pregnancy, inspired books will suffer all the ordinary processes of textual corruption, miraculous bread will be di­gested. The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern to which events conform but of feeding new events into that pattern.

[….]

A miracle is emphatically not an event without cause or without results. Its cause is the activity of God: its results fol­low according to Natural law. In the forward direction (i.e. during the time which follows its occurrence) it is interlocked with all Nature just like any other event. Its peculiarity is that it is not in that way interlocked backwards, interlocked with the previous history of Nature. And this is just what some people find intolerable. The reason they find it intolerable is that they start by taking Nature to be the whole of reality. And they are sure that all reality must be interrelated and consistent. I agree with them. But I think they have mistaken a partial system within reality, namely Nature, for the whole.

CS Lewis, Miracles (New York, NY: Touchstone Publishers, 1996), 62-63, 64-65, 80-81, 81-82.

This is mainly the point Michael Flannery makes near the end of this portion of his critique of the First Things article, entitled: “Writing in First Things, Stephen Meredith Offers Confusion in the Guise of Critique“:

…He [Stephen Meredith]  has

1) a faulty view of ID’s relationship to nature, miracles, and the supernatural;

2) no clear definition of what ID really is; and

3) an erroneous view of much of the history related to ID, evolution, and theology.

In company with John Derbyshire, Meredith, insists that ID proponents are “occasionalists,” holding to a particular theological understanding of causation. As occasionalists they do “not credit natural or physical law with enough causal power to enact evolution on its own.” Instead they “educe supernatural causes to do most of the heavy lifting in worldly events.” This is a fundamental misunderstanding. ID does not require the “breaking” of natural law or the notion that a natural law would have done X but instead Y happened. As William A. Dembski has pointed out, ID doesn’t need this “counterfactual substitution.” People act, for example, as intelligent agents not by “breaking” or “suspending” natural laws but by arranging or front-loading laws to suite particular ends (The Design Revolution, pp. 181-182). Meredith seems to argue that ID is incongruous with modern science because it invokes miracles and yields to supernatural causes. Here Meredith is making an old mistake, called out again by Dembski: “The contrast between natural law and supernatural causes is the wrong contrast. The proper contrast is between undirected natural causes on the one hand and intelligent causes on the other” (p. 189).

Furthermore, Meredith’s concern regarding miracles contravening natural laws seems to suggest a position of tension between the miraculous and science itself. However, this is not a scientific position. It is a philosophical one suggestive of methodological naturalism. “Scientists, as scientists,” Norman Geisler explains, “need not be so narrow as to believe that nothing can ever count as a miracle. All a scientist needs to hold is the premise that every event has a cause and that the observable universe operates in an orderly way” (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, p. 467). Meredith’s whole argument about ID, miracles, and the so-called “breaking” of natural laws is nothing but a red herring. Again, the real issue is about the nature of causation not about natural law

Even atheist philosophers refute the idea that to incorporate a theistic view into nature is NOT anti-science, and works within the scientific paradigm:

FOLLOWING SUPERNATURALISM MAKES THE SCIENTIST’S TASK TOO EASY

Here’s the first of Pennock’s arguments against methodological naturalism that I’ll consider:

allowing appeal to supernatural powers in science would make the scientist’s task too easy, because one would always be able to call upon the gods for quick theoretical assistance…. Indeed, all empirical investigation beyond the purely descriptive could cease, for scientists would have a ready-made answer for everything.

This argument strikes me as unfair. Consider a particular empirical phenomenon, like a chemical reaction, and imagine that scientists are trying to figure out why the reaction happened. Pennock would say that scientists who allow appeal to supernatural powers would have a ready-made answer: God did it. While it may be that that’s the only true explanation that can be given, a good scientist-including a good theistic scientist—would wonder whether there’s more to be said. Even if God were ultimately the cause of the reaction, one would still wonder if the proximate cause is a result of the chemicals that went into the reaction, and a good scientist—even a good theistic scientist—would investigate whether such a naturalistic account could be given.

To drive the point home, an analogy might be helpful. With the advent of quantum mechanics, scientists have become comfortable with indeterministic events. For example, when asked why a particular radioactive atom decayed at the exact time that it did, most physicists would say that there’s no reason it decayed at that particular time; it was just an indeterministic event!’ One could imagine an opponent of indeterminism giving an argument that’s analogous to Pennock’s:

allowing appeal to indeterministic processes in science would make the scientist’s task too easy, because one would always be able to call upon chance for quick theoretical assistance…. Indeed, all empirical investigation beyond the purely descriptive could cease, for scientists would have a ready-made answer for everything.

It is certainly possible that, for every event that happens, scientists could simply say “that’s the result of an indeterministic chancy process; there’s no further explanation for why the event happened that way.” But this would clearly be doing bad science: just because the option of appealing to indeterminism is there, it doesn’t follow that the option should always be used. The same holds for the option of appealing to supernatural powers.

As further evidence against Pennock, it’s worth pointing out that prominent scientists in the past have appealed to supernatural powers, without using them as a ready-made answer for everything. Newton is a good example of this—he is a devout theist, in addition to being a great scientist, and he thinks that God sometimes intervenes in the world. Pennock falsely implies that this is not the case:

God may have underwritten the active principles that govern the world described in [Newton’s] Principia and the Opticks, but He did not interrupt any of the equations or regularities therein. Johnson and other creationists who want to dismiss methodological naturalism would do well to consult Newton’s own rules of reasoning….

But in fact, Newton does not endorse methodological naturalism. In his Opticks, Newton claims that God sometimes intervenes in the world. Specifically, Newton thinks that, according to his laws of motion, the orbits of planets in our solar system are not stable over long periods of time, and his solution to this problem is to postulate that God occasionally adjusts the motions of the planets so as to ensure the continued stability of their orbits. Here’s a relevant passage from Newton. (It’s not completely obvious that Newton is saying that God will intervene but my interpretation is the standard one.)

God in the Beginning form’d Matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable Particles … it became him who created them to set them in order. And if he did so, it’s unphilosophical to seek for any other Origin of the World, or to pretend that it might arise out of a Chaos by the mere Laws of Nature; though being once form’d, it may continue by those Laws for many Ages. For while Comets move in very excentrick Orbs in all manner of Positions, blind Fate could never make all the Planets move one and the same way in Orbs concentrick, some inconsiderable Irregularities excepted, which may have risen from the mutual Actions of Comets and Planets upon one another, and which will be apt to increase, till this System wants a Reformation…. [God is] able by his Will to move the Bodies within his boundless uniform Sensorium, and thereby to form and reform the Parts of the Universe….

A scientist who writes this way does not sound like a scientist who is following methodological naturalism.

It’s worth noting that some contemporaries of Newton took issue with his view of God occasionally intervening in the universe. For example, Leibniz writes:

Sir Isaac Newton and his followers also have a very odd opinion concerning the work of God. According to them, God Almighty needs to wind up his watch from time to time; otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion.”

Note, though, that Leibniz also thought that God intervened in the world:

I hold that when God works miracles, he does not do it in order to supply the wants of nature, but those of grace.

Later investigation revealed that in fact planetary orbits are more stable than Newton thought, so Newton’s appeal to supernatural powers wasn’t needed. But the key point is that Newton is willing to appeal to supernatural powers, without using the appeal to supernatural powers as a ready-made answer for everything.

Pennock says that “Without the binding assumption of uninterruptible natural law there would be absolute chaos in the scientific worldview.” Newton’s own approach to physics provides a good counterexample to this—Newton is a leading contributor to the scientific worldview, and yet he does not bind himself by the assumption of uninterruptible natural law.

Bradley Monton, Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design, (Peterborough, Ontario [Canada]: Broadview Press, 2009), 62-64.

How one can go from the above rational positions by a Christian (CS Lewis), and an atheist (Bradley Monton), to comparing floating ice as an unnatural event held in situ by God’s continuous miraculous intervention. And then compare this straw-man to the Islamic understanding of extreme fideistic occasionalism?

The claim that there is a God raises metaphysical questions about the nature of reality and existence. In general, it can be said that there is not one concept of God but many, even among monotheistic traditions. The Abrahamic religions are theistic; God is both the creator of the world and the one who sustains it. Theism, with its equal stress on divine transcendence of the universe and immanence within it, constitutes a somewhat uneasy conceptual midpoint between deism and pantheism. Deist conceptions of the divine see God as the creator of a universe that continues to exist, without his intervention, under the physical impulses that he first imparted to it. In pantheism, God is identified with the universe as a whole. Theism itself has numerous subvarieties, such as occasionalism, which holds that the only real cause in the universe is God; thus, all other causes are simply signs of coincidence and conjunction between kinds of events occurring within the created order. For example, heat is not what causes the water in a teakettle to boil but is simply what uniformly occurs before the water boils. God himself is the cause of the boiling.

An important object of metaphysical reflection is God’s nature, or the properties of that nature. Is God simple or complex? If omniscience, omnipotence, and beauty are part of the divine perfection, what exactly are these properties? Is timeless eternity part of God’s perfection? Can an omnipotent being will that there be a four-sided triangle or change the past? Does an omniscient being know the future actions of free agents? (If so, how can they be free?) Does an omniscient being who is timelessly eternal know what time it is now?

(History of Religion)

Nor do Christians suspend belief or do not question their own understanding or nature’s causes for events, like Islam has, historically:

We humans have an inner balance with which we weigh good and evil. This balance, in Muslims stopped working. The indicator is stuck on zero. Muhammad’s companions could no longer register right and wrong. Because it’s hard to envision how a human being could be this ruthless, they persuaded themselves that he must be from God. As for why this god is so demonic, they fooled themselves with the lies that he told them. He told them that it is not up to man to question God. This absurd explanation satisfied his benighted followers. They resorted to fideism and argued that reason is irrelevant to religious belief. The great Imam Ghazali (1058 – 1111) said: “Where the claims of reason come into conflict with revelation, reason must yield to revelation.” A similar thesis in defense of foolishness is presented by Paul in 1 Cor. 1:20-25 where he argues “the foolishness of God is wiser than (the wisdom of) men”. The statement “Credo quia absurdum” (I believe because it is absurd), often attributed to Tertullian, is based on this passage of Paul. In DCC 5 he said: “The Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.” Upon this belief in absurdity fideism is founded and it is the position that has been adopted by Muslims. This fideistic attitude allowed the early believers to abandon reason and accept whatever Muhammad did, even his blatant crimes, without questioning him.

(Why Can’t Islam be Reformed?)

And when something “unnatural” is introduced into nature, this does not interfere one iota with science or the natural order of events, causality, or the like. As CS Lewis said many years ago, this is a Red Herring. Not to mention, that in reality, neo-Darwinian thinking IS A METAPHYSICAL PREMISE at its core. So often times it is the kettle calling the pot… well, you know.

IN a great presentation from True U. (http://www.trueu.org/), Dr. Stephen Meyer shows how — by using the supposition from Hinduism that the earth sits atop a turtle used by Stephen Hawkings — the materialist position differs little from any religious suppositions.

“We must ask first whether the theory of evolution by natural selection is scientific or pseudoscientific …. Taking the first part of the theory, that evolution has occurred, it says that the history of life is a single process of species-splitting and progression. This process must be unique and unrepeatable, like the history of England. This part of the theory is therefore a historical theory, about unique events, and unique events are, by definition, not part of science, for they are unrepeatable and so not subject to test.”

Colin Patterson [1978] (Dr. Patterson was Senior Principal Scientific Officer of the Paleontology Department of the British Museum of Natural History in London.)

People think evolution is “science proper.” It is not, it is both a historical science and a [philosophical] presupposition in its “neo-Darwinian” form. The presupposition that removes it from “science proper and moves it into “scientism” is explained by an atheist philosopher:

If science really is permanently committed to methodological naturalism – the philosophical position that restricts all explanations in science to naturalistic explanations – it follows that the aim of science is not generating true theories. Instead, the aim of science would be something like: generating the best theories that can be formulated subject to the restriction that the theories are naturalistic. More and more evidence could come in suggesting that a supernatural being exists, but scientific theories wouldn’t be allowed to acknowledge that possibility.

Bradley Monton, author of Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design ~ Apologetics315 h/t

In other words, the guy most credited in getting us to the moon used science to get us there, but was a young earth creationist. His view on “origins” (origin science) is separate from his working science. Two categories.

Likewise one of the most celebrated pediatric surgeons in the world, whom a movie was made after, “Gifted Hands,” is a young earth creationist. And the inventor of the MRI, a machine that diagnosed my M.S., is also a young earth creationist.

Evolutionary Darwinism is first and foremost an “historical science” that has many presuppositions that precede it, making it a metaphysical belief, a philosophy, as virulent anti-creationist philosopher of science, Michael Ruse explains:

Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. . . . Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.

Michael Ruse, “Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians,” National Post (May 13, 2000), p. B-3. (Via ICR)

….Nevertheless, there is a second, and arguably deeper, mystery associated with the Cambrian explosion: the mystery of how the neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection and random mutation could have given rise to all these fundamentally new forms of animal life, and done so quickly enough to account for the pattern in the fossil record. That question became acute in the second half of the twentieth century as biologists learned more about what it takes to build an animal.

In 1953 when Watson and Crick elucidated the structure of the DNA molecule, they made a startling discovery, namely, its ability to store information in the form of a four-character digital code. Strings of precisely sequenced chemicals called nucleotide bases store and transmit the assembly instructions—the information—for building the crucial protein molecules that the cell needs to survive. Just as English letters may convey a particular message depending on their arrangement, so too do certain sequences of chemical bases along the spine of a DNA molecule convey precise information. As Richard Dawkins has acknowledged, “the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.” Or as Bill Gates has noted, “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”

The Cambrian period is marked by an explosion of new animals exemplifying new body plans. But building new animal body plans requires new organs, tissues, and cell types. And new cell types require many kinds of specialized or dedicated proteins (e.g., animals with gut cells require new digestive enzymes). But building each protein requires genetic information stored on the DNA molecule. Thus, building new animals with distinctive new body plans requires, at the very least, vast amounts of new genetic information. Whatever happened during the Cambrian not only represented an explosion of new biological form, but it also required an explosion of new biological information.

Is it plausible that the neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations in DNA could produce the highly specificarrangements of bases in DNA necessary to generate the protein building blocks of new cell types and novel forms of life? 

According to neo-Darwinian theory, new genetic information arises first as random mutations occur in the DNA of existing organisms. When mutations arise that confer a survival advantage, the resulting genetic changes are passed on to the next generation. As such changes accumulate, the features of a population change over time. Nevertheless, natural selection can only “select” what random mutations first generate. Thus the neo-Darwinian mechanism faces a kind of needle-in-the-haystack problem—or what mathematicians call a “combinatorial” problem. The term “combinatorial” refers to the number of possible ways that a set of objects can be arranged or combined. Many simple bike locks, for example, have four dials with 10 digits on each dial. A bike thief encountering one of these locks faces a combinatorial problem because there are 10 × 10 × 10 × 10, or 10,000 possible combinations and only one that will open the lock. A random search is unlikely to yield the correct combination unless the thief has plenty of time.

Similarly, it is extremely difficult to assemble a new information-bearing gene or protein by the natural selection/random mutation process because of the sheer number of possible sequences. As the length of the required gene or protein grows, the number of possible base or amino-acid sequences of that length grows exponentially. 

Here’s an illustration that may help make the problem clear. Imagine that we encounter a committed bike thief who is willing to search the “sequence space” of possible bike combinations at a rate of about one new combination per two seconds. If our hypothetical bike thief had three hours and took no breaks he could generate more than half (about 5,400) of the 10,000 total combinations of a four-dial lock. In that case, the probability that he will stumble upon the right combination exceeds the probability that he will fail. More likely than not, he will open the lock by chance.

But now consider another case. If that thief with the same limited three hour time period available to him confronted a lock with ten dials and ten digits per dial (a lock with ten billion possible combinations) he would now have time only to explore a small fraction of the possible combinations—5,400 of ten billion—far fewer than half. In this case, it would be much more likely than not that he would fail to open the lock by chance.

These examples suggest that the ultimate probability of the success of a random search—and the plausibility of any hypothesis that affirms the success of such a search—depends upon both the size of the space that needs to be searched and the number of opportunities available to search it. 

In Darwin’s Doubt, I show that the number of possible DNA and amino acid sequences that need to be searched by the evolutionary process dwarfs the time available for such a search—even taking into account evolutionary deep time. Molecular biologists have long understood that the size of the “sequence space” of possible nucleotide bases and amino acids (the number of possible combinations) is extremely large. Moreover, recent experiments in molecular biology and protein science have established that functional genes and proteins are extremely rare within these huge combinatorial spaces of possible arrangements. There are vastly more ways of arranging nucleotide bases that result in non-functional sequences of DNA, and vastly more ways of arranging amino acids that result in non-functional amino-acid chains, than there are corresponding functionalgenes or proteins. One recent experimentally derived estimate places that ratio—the size of the haystack in relation to the needle—at 1077non-functional sequences for every functional gene or protein. (There are only something like 1065 atoms in our galaxy.)

All this suggests that the mutation and selection mechanism would only have enough time in the entire multi-billion year history of life on Earth to generate or “search” but a miniscule fraction (one ten trillion, trillion trillionth, to be exact) of the total number of possible nucleotide base or amino-acid sequences corresponding to a single functional gene or protein. The number of trials available to the evolutionary process turns out to be incredibly small in relation to the number of possible sequences that need to be searched. Thus, the neo-Darwinian mechanism, with its reliance on random mutation, is much more likely to fail than to succeed in generating even a single new gene or protein in the known history of life on earth. In other words, the neo-Darwinian mechanism is not an adequate mechanism to generate the information necessary to produce even a single new protein, let alone a whole new Cambrian animal….

[….]

Of course, many scientists dismiss intelligent design as “religion masquerading as science.” But the case for intelligent design is not based upon religious or scriptural authority. Instead it is based upon scientific evidence and the same method of scientific reasoning that Darwin himself used in the Origin of Species

In rejecting the theory as unscientific by definition, evolutionary biologists reveal a deep a priori commitment to methodological naturalism—the idea that scientists must limit themselves to materialistic explanations for all things. Yet, we know from experience that certain types of events and structures—in particular, information-rich structures—invariably arise from minds or personal agents. Indeed, no thinking person would insist that the inscriptions on the Rosetta stone, for example, were produced by strictly materialistic forces such as wind and erosion. Yet, by insisting that all events in the history of life must be explained by reference to strictly materialistic processes evolutionary biologists preclude consideration of a designing intelligence in the history of life, regardless of what the evidence might indicate. 

This commitment to a wholly materialistic account of the origins of life also helps to explain the reluctance to criticize the Darwinian theory publicly. Many evolutionary biologists fear that if they do so they will aid and abet the case for intelligent design—a theory they disdain as inherently unscientific. Those of us who support the theory of intelligent design advocate a more open approach to scientific investigation. Not only do we think the public has a right to know about the problems with evolutionary theory, we also think that the rules of science should allow scientists to “follow the evidence wherever it leads”—even if it leads to conclusions that raise deep and unwelcome metaphysical questions.

(American Spectator)

Fallacies Made in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

(h/t to Jim Giordano) I have to say, I REALLY enjoyed reading Rob Bowman’s input on this issue. It is refreshing to see such well-thought-out argumentation using reason and logic. The below is somewhat truncated (via Warren Lamb) from these two excellent posts:

I have added Religious Researcher to my habit… enjoy:


“The appeal to pity is an informal logical fallacy of relevance. That is, it uses pity for a particular person or group as a pretext for reaching a certain conclusion when the pity has no relevance to the issue at hand. Not all expressions of concern for an individual or group are fallacious appeals to pity.

Fashions vs. Logic

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions” ~ G. K. Chesterton

The argument that one of the goods associated with marriage (as traditionally defined) is that children generally benefit from having parents of both genders is not an irrelevant appeal to pity; it is identifying one of the several reasons for preferring the traditional view of marriage. The argument is rooted in the obvious fact, so often ignored or danced around by same-sex marriage advocates, that the normal, biological way in which human children come into the world and are raised to adulthood is through the actions of a father and a mother.

Adoption is a superior alternative to one or no parents when that normal biological parenthood paradigm breaks down … but even here the ideal adoptive model is for a child to be adopted by a father and a mother. Likewise, a single parent or two adoptive “fathers” or “mothers” is preferable to no parents or abusive parents, but it is a mistake to conclude that such parental models should be normalized by making them legally and socially equivalent to father-mother parental couples.

[The] argument that we should recognize same-sex unions as marriages because otherwise the children raised by such couples will be viewed as second-class citizens is fallacious because how unkind people treat the children of same-sex couples is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with what marriage is, and redefining marriage will not persuade those unkind people to behave any differently.

… the compelling argument needs to be made by the advocates of same-sex marriage, not by its opponents… if same-sex marriage is to be made law it should be done by the people through their legislatures, not by executive and judicial fiat.

Creating the legal fiction of same-sex marriage will have (and is already having) a number of negative effects. It will further contribute to the already present problem of people viewing marriage as primarily about personal fulfillment and happiness, with all of the disastrous effects that view is already producing accelerating further. It will undermine social pressures and incentives (again, already under assault in other ways) for the formation and preservation of husband-wife couples as the normal and ideal foundation of home life for children. It will grant not mere tolerance but approval to homosexual relationships (a concern that you will not share if you do not understand that homosexual acts are inherently immoral). It will result (and again this is already happening) in increased infringement on the legitimate religious liberties of people who accept the traditional view of marriage (not just in cases like the one noted above, but in all sorts of cases, such as Catholic adoption agencies being forced to close rather than accede to state mandates to place children with same-sex couples). These are just some of the negative effects that can be expected to result or to be exacerbated by the legal creation of a ‘right’ to same-sex marriage. But again, the burden of proof of compelling state interest is on the side of those who would overturn centuries of settled social and legal convention across cultural and geographical divides.”

The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists ~ Ravi Zacharias (Serious Saturday)

September 29, 2012 – Ravi Zacharias speaks on the New Atheists (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopoher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett) and their inability to use reason and logic. Instead, they use ridicule and mocking as a tactic against religion.