Junk DNA: Evolutionary Arguments Helping Prove God

For the record, Junk DNA being false was a positive position of the Intelligent Design movement:

[Intelligent] design is not a science stopper. Indeed, design can foster inquiry where traditional evolutionary approaches obstruct it. Consider the term “junk DNA.” Implicit in this term is the view that because the genome of an organism has been cobbled together through a long, undirected evolutionary process, the genome is a patchwork of which only limited portions are essential to the organism. Thus on an evolutionary view we expect a lot of useless DNA. If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we expect DNA, as much as possible, to exhibit function. And indeed, the most recent findings suggest that designating DNA as “junk” merely cloaks our current lack of knowledge about function. For instance, in a recent issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, John Bodnar describes how “non-coding DNA in eukaryotic genomes encodes a language which programs organismal growth and development.” Design encourages scientists to look for function where evolution discourages it.

William Dembski, “Intelligent Science and Design,” First Things, Vol. 86:21-27 (October 1998)

(EVOLUTION NEWS & SCIENCE TODAY)

I wanted to expand my thinking in another recent post about the past mantra that Chimapnzees and Humans are genetically 99% alike. This of course has been disproved, but disproving this or that proposition has already been done, my main concern here is rhetoric. I will clip my point from THAT POST and continue the point with “Junk DNA” (pseudogenes) below. Enjoy:

Even a recent 2006 TIME article continues the mantra when they say, “Scientists figured out decades ago that chimps are our nearest evolutionary cousins, roughly 98% to 99% identical to humans at the genetic level.” So while science moves on and corrects itself, our culture is stuck in what was said to be a proof, and reject what ACTUALLY an evidence against the evolutionary proposition. Similar refutations of evolutionary positions that Richard Dawkins

What do I mean by that? I mean that if something is said to be evidence and is used to promote [FOR] the evolutionary paradigm… and then it is shown not to be the case wouldn’t it then logically be an evidence AGAINST this said paradigm? I think so.

So my point is what was once thought to be an ARGUMENT AGAINST intelligent design or creationism ends up being an ARGUMENT FOR… if this is not the case, then the original position is no position at all but merely rhetoric. Here is a video highlighting past “Junk DNA” positions used to counter creationists — and — if it is a real position, it should be one to counter evolutionists today:

Here is where we get into the fun part. And really it is just common sense. Take Richard Dawkins position a bit more seriously, and we will find that the Christian apologists position gets stronger, and mind you there are a myriad of examples like this, in science, archaeology, history, philosophy, and the like. (A good post on this is here: Modern Science Refutes The Evolutionary Theory)

Dawkins in 2009:

“It stretches even their creative ingenuity to make a convincing reason why an intelligent designer should have created a pseudogene — a gene that does absolutely nothing and gives every appearance of being a superannuated version of a gene that used to do something — unless he was deliberately setting out to fool us… 

Leaving pseudogenes aside, it is a remarkable fact that the greater part (95 percent in the case of humans) of the genome might as well not be there, for all the difference it makes.”

The 2009 iteration of Richard Dawkins asserts confidently that most of the genome is junk, just as Darwinism predicts! What an embarrassment to Darwin doubters!

Dawkins in 2012:

“I have noticed that there are some creationists who are jumping on [the ENCODE results] because they think that’s awkward for Darwinism. Quite the contrary it’s exactly what a Darwinist would hope for, to find usefulness in the living world….

Whereas we thought that only a minority of the genome was doing something, namely that minority which actually codes for protein, and now we find that actually the majority of it is doing something. What it’s doing is calling into action the protein-coding genes. So you can think of the protein-coding genes as being sort of the toolbox of subroutines which is pretty much common to all mammals — mice and men have the same number, roughly speaking, of protein-coding genes and that’s always been a bit of a blow to self-esteem of humanity. But the point is that that was just the subroutines that are called into being; the program that’s calling them into action is the rest [of the genome] which had previously been written off as junk.”

The 2012 iteration of Richard Dawkins asserts confidently that most of the genome is not junk, just as Darwinism predicts! What an embarrassment to Darwin doubters!

(EGNORANCE)

What EGNORANCE leaves out is the first part of that quote from the 2009 book by Richard Dawkins, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” is this (via APOLOGETIC PRESS):

  • What pseudogenes are useful for is embarrassing creationists. It stretches even their creative ingenuity to make up a reason why an intelligent designer should have created a pseudogene unless he was deliberately setting out to fool us” (p. 332)

To wit, if the argument of pseudogenes (Y) is a refutation of proposition “A” [Intelligent Design/creative acts] is to be considered valid for the evolutionist/atheist position (B), then when “Y” is shown to in fact be the opposite of the stated position, would not “Y” be an argument against “B”? I think so.

The Atheist Universe – New York Times

Dennis Prager reads from a New York Times opinion piece by an atheist entitled, “The Universe Doesn’t Care About Your ‘Purpose’.” Of course this is the idea of most honest atheist thinkers (Listen to “Atheists Cannot Live Without God“). A great Ultimate Issues Hour by Prager.

Here are some excerpts from the NEW YORK TIMES article:

….Purpose is a universal human need. Without it, we feel bereft of meaning and happiness.

recent ethnographic study draws a strong correlation between purposefulness and happiness. Purpose seems beneficial to overcoming substance abusehealing from tragedy and loss, and achieving economic success….

Here I will take a break and point out that there are MANY “utilitarian benefits” to the Christian faith, but say this is not the goal of our faith…

  • “And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” – JOHN 8:32

…but the “healthfulness” of experiencing TRUE JOY is a natural outgrowth of believing in Truth:

  • Religious Belief Reduces Crime Summary of the First Panel Discussion Panelists for this important discussion included social scientists Dr. John DiIulio, professor of politics and urban affairs at Princeton University; David Larson, M.D., President of the National Institute for Healthcare Research; Dr. Byron Johnson, Director of the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at Vanderbilt University; and Gary Walker, President of Public/Private Ventures. The panel focused on new research, confirming the positive effects that religiosity has on turning around the lives of youth at risk.
  • Dr. Larson laid the foundation for the discussion by summarizing the findings of 400 studies on juvenile delinquency, conducted during the past two decades. He believes that although more research is needed, we can say without a doubt that religion makes a positive contribution.
  • His conclusion: “The better we study religion, the more we find it makes a difference.” Previewing his own impressive research, Dr. Johnson agreed. He has concluded that church attendance reduces delinquency among boys even when controlling for a number of other factors including age, family structure, family size, and welfare status. His findings held equally valid for young men of all races and ethnicities.
  • Gary Walker has spent 25 years designing, developing and evaluating many of the nation’s largest public and philanthropic initiatives for at-risk youth. His experience tells him that faith-based programs are vitally important for two reasons. First, government programs seldom have any lasting positive effect. While the government might be able to design [secular/non-God] programs that occupy time, these programs, in the long-term, rarely succeed in bringing about the behavioral changes needed to turn kids away from crime. Second, faith-based programs are rooted in building strong adult-youth relationships; and less concerned with training, schooling, and providing services, which don’t have the same direct impact on individual behavior. Successful mentoring, Walker added, requires a real commitment from the adults involved – and a willingness to be blunt. The message of effective mentors is simple. “You need to change your life, I’m here to help you do it, or you need to be put away, away from the community.” Government, and even secular philanthropic programs, can’t impart this kind of straight talk.
  • Sixth through twelfth graders who attend religious services once a month or more are half as likely to engage in at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual excess, truancy, vandalism, drunk driving and other trouble with police. Search Institute, “The Faith Factor,” Source, Vol. 3, Feb. 1992, p.1.
  • Churchgoers are more likely to aid their neighbors in need than are non-attendees. George Barna, What Americans Believe, Regal Books, 1991, p. 226.
  • Three out of four Americans say that religious practice has strengthened family relationships. George Gallup, Jr. “Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century,” The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.
  • Church attendance lessens the probabilities of homicide and incarceration. Nadia M. Parson and James K. Mikawa: “Incarceration of African-American Men Raised in Black Christian Churches.” The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 125, 1990, pp.163-173.
  • Religious practice lowers the rate of suicide. Joubert, Charles E., “Religious Nonaffiliation in Relation to Suicide, Murder, Rape and Illegitimacy,” Psychological Reports 75:1 part 1 (1994): 10 Jon W. Hoelter: “Religiosity, Fear of Death and Suicide Acceptibility.” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Vol. 9, 1979, pp.163-172.
  • The presence of active churches, synagogues… reduces violent crime in neighborhoods. John J. Dilulio, Jr., “Building Spiritual Capital: How Religious Congregations Cut Crime and Enhance Community Well-Being,” RIAL Update, Spring 1996.
  • People with religious faith are less likely to be school drop-outs, single parents, divorced, drug or alcohol abusers. Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Roland, “Correcting the Welfare Tragedy,” The Center for Public Justice, 1994.
  • Church involvement is the single most important factor in enabling inner-city black males to escape the destructive cycle of the ghetto. Richard B. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, eds., The Black Youth Employment Crisis, University of Chicago Press, 1986, p.354.
  • Attending services at a church or other house of worship once a month or more makes a person more than twice as likely to stay married than a person who attends once a year or less. David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, “Is Divorce Hazardous to Your Health?” Physician, June 1990. Improving Personal Well-Being
  • Regular church attendance lessens the possibility of cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema and arteriosclerosis. George W. Comstock amd Kay B. Patridge:* “Church attendance and health.”* Journal of Chronic Disease, Vol. 25, 1972, pp. 665-672.
  • Regular church attendance significantly reduces the probablility of high blood pressure.* David B. Larson, H. G. Koenig, B. H. Kaplan, R. S. Greenberg, E. Logue and H. A. Tyroler:* ” The Impact of religion on men’s blood pressure.”* Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 28, 1989, pp.265-278.* W.T. Maramot:* “Diet, Hypertension and Stroke.” in* M. R. Turner (ed.) Nutrition and Health, Alan R. Liss, New York, 1982, p. 243.
  • People who attend services at least once a week are much less likely to have high blood levels of interlukin-6, an immune system protein associated with many age-related diseases.* Harold Koenig and Harvey Cohen, The International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, October 1997.
  • Regular practice of religion lessens depression and enhances self esteem. *Peter L. Bensen and Barnard P. Spilka:* “God-Image as a function of self-esteem and locus of control” in H. N. Maloney (ed.) Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion, Eedermans, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 209-224.* Carl Jung: “Psychotherapies on the Clergy” in Collected Works Vol. 2, 1969, pp.327-347.
  • Church attendance is a primary factor in preventing substance abuse and repairing damage caused by substance abuse.* Edward M. Adalf and Reginald G. Smart:* “Drug Use and Religious Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior.” * British Journal of Addiction, Vol. 80, 1985, pp.163-171.* Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnson, and Patrick M. O’Malley:* “Explaining* the Recent Decline in Cocaine Use Among Young Adults:* Further Evidence That Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug Use.”* Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 31,* 1990, pp. 173-184.* Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott, * and Collins Lewis:* “Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients With Affective Syndromes.”* Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. 26, 1985, pp. 283-295. * The findings of this NIMH-supported study were replicated in the Bachmen et. al. study above.
  • The strength of the family unit is intertwined with the practice of religion. Churchgoers are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single, and more likely to manifest high levels of satisfaction in marriage.
  • Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
  • The regular practice of religion helps poor persons move out of poverty. Regular church attendance, for example, is particularly instrumental in helping young people to escape the poverty of inner-city life.
  • Religious belief and practice contribute substantially to the formation of personal moral criteria and sound moral judgment.
  • Regular religious practice generally inoculates individuals against a host of social problems, including suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, crime, and divorce.
  • The regular practice of religion also encourages such beneficial effects on mental health as less depression (a modern epidemic), more self-esteem, and greater family and marital happiness.
  • In repairing damage caused by alcoholism, drug addiction, and marital breakdown, religious belief and practice are a major source of strength and recovery.
  • Regular practice of religion is good for personal physical health: It increases longevity, improves one’s chances of recovery from illness, and lessens the incidence of many killer diseases.

(From: Can Someone Be Glad for God’s Non-Existence?Believing In God Is Natural ~ Atheism is Not)

…CONTINUING…

…..I’m certainly no Aristotelian. Not because I reject happiness. Rather, as a materialist, I think there’s nothing intrinsic about the goals and purposes we seek to achieve it. Modern science explicitly jettisons this sort of teleological thinking from our knowledge of the universe. From particle physics to cosmology, we see that the universe operates well without purpose.

The laws of physics are inherently mechanistic. The second law of thermodynamics, for instance, states that entropy is always increasing. Entropy is the degree of disorder in a system, for example our universe. Physical disorder is all about equilibrium — everything resting randomly and uniformly. Leave your hot coffee on the desk and it will cool to ambient temperature. The coffee molecules are more organized because they are moving faster and working harder to sustain a higher temperature than the surrounding air. But heat transfer results as the coffee molecules expend more energy. As energy is expended, the temperature of the coffee drops and equalizes with the air. Entropy increases since the molecules in the system are now less organized as the overall temperature becomes more uniform.

Now, imagine this on the cosmic scale. Just as the temperature of the coffee and air equalizes, the Earth, our solar system, galaxies and even supermassive black holes will break down to the quantum level, where everything cools to a uniform state. This process is known as the arrow of time. Eventually everything ends in heat death. The universe certainly started with a bang, but it likely ends with a fizzle.

What’s the purpose in that, though?

There isn’t one. At least not fundamentally. Entropy is antagonistic to intrinsic purpose. It’s about disorder. Aristotle’s world and pretty much the dominant understanding of the physical universe until the Copernican Revolution is all about inherent order and permanence. But the universe as we understand it tells us nothing about the goal or meaning of existence, let alone our own. In the grand scheme of things, you and I are enormously insignificant.

[….]

Purpose springs from our longing for permanence in an ever-changing universe. It is a reaction to the universe’s indifference to us. We create stories about the world and ourselves as contours, “phantom bodies,” of the inevitability of loss and change. Myths appear timeless; they have what Blumenberg calls an iconic constancy. Stories pass through generations, often becoming traditions, customs, even laws and institutions that order and give meaning to our lives. Purpose grows out of the durability of human lore. Our stories serve as directives for the ways we need the world to exist.

An indifferent universe also offers us a powerful and compelling case for living justly and contentedly because it allows us to anchor our attentionhere. It teaches us that this life matters and that we alone are responsible for it. Love, friendship and forgiveness are for our benefit. Oppression, war and conflict are self-inflicted. When we ask what’s the purpose of the recent gassing of Syrian children in the Idlib Province or the torture and killings of Chechnyan homosexual men, we ought not simply look to God or the universe for explanations but to ourselves, to the entrenched mythologies that drive such actions — then reject them when the institutions they inform amount to acts of horror.

The purposes and goals we create are phantom bodies — vestiges of and memorials to the people, places and things we stand to lose and strive to keep. Purpose indexes the world’s impermanence, namely our own. Sure, my grandfather’s T-Bird will function well as transportation once I’m finished. But, that goal only makes sense as an enduring reminder of the stories and memories of him. Purpose is about loss, or at least the circumvention of it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We create purposes to establish happy endings in a universe where endings are simply that — endings.

I will never see my Papa again. One day I will die. So will you. The T-Bird will decay along with everything in the universe as the fundamental particles we’re made of return to the inert state in which everything began. Entropy demands it.

So, take a moment to think about the mythologies informing your purpose. I’ll reflect on mine, too. The universe, however, won’t. And that might be the most meaningful distinction of all.

Theistic Implications of Big-Bang Cosmology

Please see my post on the “Scientific and Anecdotal Evidence for the Beginning of the Universe

WINTERY KNIGHT notes some of the topics via the above video/lecture:

Topics:

  • Up until the the last 100 years or so, everyone agreed that the universe was eternal
  • This is at odds with the traditional Christian view that God created the universe
  • Materialism, the view that matter is all there is, requires eternally existing matter
  • Discovery #1: Hubble discovers that the universe is expanding (redshift observation)
  • The expanding universe was resisted by proponents of the eternal universe, like Einstein
  • Some naturalists even proposed speculative static models like the steady-state model
  • However, not of the speculative models fit with observations and experimental results
  • Discovery #2: Penzias and Wilson discover the cosmic microwave background radiation
  • Measurements of this background radiation confirmed a prediction of the Big Bang theory
  • The steady-state theory was falsified of by the discovery of this background radiation
  • The oscillating model was proposed to prevent the need for an absolute beginning
  • But the oscillating model is not eternal, it loses energy on each “bounce”
  • A paper by Alan Guth and Marc Sher from 1982 proved that our universe will not bounce
  • In addition, experiments reveal that the universe will expand forever, and not contract
  • The beginning of the universe is more at home in a theistic worldview than an atheistic one
  • The beginning of the universe fits in well with the Bible, e.g. – Genesis 1, Titus 1, etc.

In case you are wondering about what the evidence is for the Big Bang, here are 3 of the evidences that are most commonly offered:

Three main observational results over the past century led astronomers to become certain that the universe began with the big bang. First, they found out that the universe is expanding—meaning that the separations between galaxies are becoming larger and larger. This led them to deduce that everything used to be extremely close together before some kind of explosion. Second, the big bang perfectly explains the abundance of helium and other nuclei like deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen) in the universe. A hot, dense, and expanding environment at the beginning could produce these nuclei in the abundance we observe today. Third, astronomers could actually observe the cosmic background radiation—the afterglow of the explosion—from every direction in the universe. This last evidence so conclusively confirmed the theory of the universe’s beginning that Stephen Hawking said, “It is the discovery of the century, if not of all time.”

(MORE)

Quantum Mechanics Meet Outdated Biological Models

  • “Biology today is at a crossroads. The molecular paradigm, which so successfully guided the discipline throughout most of the 20th century, is no longer a reliable guide. Its vision of biology now realized, the molecular paradigm has run its course.”….

The cells we know are not just loosely coupled arrangements of quasi-independent modules. They are highly, intricately, and precisely integrated networks of entities and interactions. … To think that a new cell design can be created more or less haphazardly from chunks of other modern cell designs is just another fallacy born of a mechanistic, reductionist view of the organism.

Carl Woese – A New Biology for a New Century – Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews – 2004

(See more at Common Descent)

The neo-Darwinian view of biology is being undermined by the emerging evidence in quantum mechanics (QM). Now, I do not accept the QM as many atheists do… however, the deterministic view of QM is giving theism a boost in an area atheists once thought they had a new foothold. One of my favorite critics of Darwin notes as much in his referencing a 2004 article and commenting on it:

As Carl Woese explained in 2004:

  • The cells we know are not just loosely coupled arrangements of quasi-independent modules. They are highly, intricately, and precisely integrated networks of entities and interactions. … To think that a new cell design can be created more or less haphazardly from chunks of other modern cell designs is just another fallacy born of a mechanistic, reductionist view of the organism.

In a previous uploaded audio and commentary of the many QM models to choose from and the one’s theist see as beneficial to scientific discovery delineates the chasm between fruitful views of science and unhealthy views in scientific modeling and their subsequent impact on scientific apologetics. The first paragraph below notes the philosophical naturalist default (so-to-speak), followed by two points related to this discussion:

These oddities prompt some observers to conclude that QM overturns natural law and rationality, leaving us with an incomprehensible, uncreated universe. Standard physics says matter can be neither created nor destroyed by natural means, but some scientists (falsely) claim that quantum particles naturally pop in and out of existence. From this, leading atheists claim the whole universe “sprang” into existence naturally. No Creator necessary. Furthermore, they say that even if God exists and created the universe, QM shows He made a world He cannot control. Once He uncorked this world, not even God knows what will come of it. Theologians who favor science fads over Scripture conclude the same thing: QM implies God cannot govern creation or know the future….

[….]

I suggest the following starting points for the Christian response: First, for all the wild attributes that may hold true in QM, we note that macroscopic reality behaves in a predictable, law-like fashion and everywhere presents us with evidence of its fundamentally rational construction and operation. So even if quantum particles could do lawless things like pop in and out of existence naturally, no such thing happens in the realm of everyday objects. Quantum oddities, whatever you make of them, are detained at the door to the larger realities we experience.

Second, many of the astounding behaviors attributed to QM occur only in highly artificial laboratory settings. There is no certainty that these things can actually happen in real-world settings. Thus, we are justified in casting an indifferent eye on many of the zany headlines coming from physics laboratories….

The very non-deterministic models are the ones liked by atheists and they support the idea of randomness. The other “orderly” — if you will — models show an order on the quantum level that is “supra-ordered,” and thus, the theistic view of QM is emboldened by the evidence.

In other words… order and function in the DNA is guided also by laws being discovered on the quantum level… that without these strict mechanical rules life would be impossible… something “randomness” cannot account for. In other words there seems to be more going on here that the simplified “DAN to RNA to Protein” quip. And this increasing complexity equals hard-times for atheism.

While Philip Cunningham may be hard to listen to at times… I love his slow, methodical contributions to this field of learning/debate:

Again, to note the idea here:

  • The other model that show rules and order on the quantum level is being supported by these discoveries, and thus, the theistic view of QM is emboldened by the evidence. In other words… order and function in the DNA is guided also by laws being discovered on the quantum level… that without these strict mechanical rules life would be impossible… something “randomness” cannot account for.

Here is the posted text under Phillip’s video on his Facebook:

Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding: Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.

First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.

To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.

[….]

Today, Luo and Lo say these curves can be easily explained if the process of folding is a quantum affair. By conventional thinking, a chain of amino acids can only change from one shape to another by mechanically passing though various shapes in between.

But Luo and Lo say that if this process were a quantum one, the shape could change by quantum transition, meaning that the protein could ‘jump’ from one shape to another without necessarily forming the shapes in between.

[….]

Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins. That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics

Bottom line! What has been a buttressed hideout/club of evolutionary thought — biology in general — is now in it’s early throes of bowing it’s knee to intelligent design, i.e., it’s Creator!

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.

Dinesh D’Souza’s “Atrocities Compared” Zinger

The above took place at Caltech on December 9th, 2007 ~ between Dinesh D’Souza and Michael Shermer. I am posting this anew for a discussion I am in where I received the following challenge:

  • So you deny inquisitions which really happened?

I respond:

One doesn’t have to deny something in order to k-n-o-w about the truth of something. Firstly, I bet you do not know this but the inquisitions were started to stop “monkey courts” sentencing people to death. Secondly, here are some stats you probably are not aware of. And this isn’t to belittle you… reading history is a hobby of mine. Here they are:

✦ The Inquisition was originally welcomed to bring order to Europe because states saw an attack on the state’s faith as an attack on the state as well.
✦ The Inquisition technically had jurisdiction only over those professing to be Christians.
✦ The courts of the Inquisition were extremely fair compared to their secular counterparts at the time.
✦ The Inquisition was responsible for less than 100 witch-hunt deaths, and was the first judicial body to denounce the trials in Europe.
✦ Though torture was commonly used in all the courts of Europe at the time, the Inquisition used torture very infrequently.
✦ During the 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition, between 3,000-5,000* people were sentenced to death (about 1 per month).
✦ The Church executed no one.

See more at my site: http://religiopoliticaltalk.com/spanish-inquisition/

There was a change of subject immediately following the above posted historical facts/items, to which I asked for the following minimalist admission:

Before I go on… I must ask for some honesty. And it requires a minimum admission from you — at least. The reason being is that I do not mind talking about topics in a dialogue fashion. But often times I find people move from one topic to the next, never slowing down to let new information sink in. And so the learning process is hampered in lieu of trying to “win” a point or position held for many years. [In many cases, wrongly.]

So while I have a decent sized home library and love [to discuss] politics, religion, philosophy, science, history, and theology… I also do not want to waste my time in conversation where people do not add new items of understanding to their thinking. In your case, I think it is the historical bullet points to follow that would offer a modicum of reasonableness allowing me to continue.

At the minimum would you say that you did not know that the Inquisitions…

➤ killed 0.769 people a month [yes, that is a point] over it’s 300-year period;
➤ that it was primarily secular;
➤ and was implemented to stop kangaroo courts.

If you would a-t l-e-a-s-t admit that you thought these were different but now can see that maybe, just maybe, you heard this information through word-of-mouth and just ran with it instead of testing your own position to the panoply of history… then we can continue the conversation. (Pride is an S.O.B.)

Anthropological/Historical Monotheism (+ More) ~ John Blanchard

Here is a quote I love and have used from John Blanchard, for seminary work and otherwise:

[p. 25>] The theory has often been put forward that religion evolved slowly over many millennia, beginning with very primitive ideas and gradually developing into today’s concepts. Wrapped up in this theory, and an important element in the thinking of many atheists, is the idea that monotheism (belief in one God) is a comparatively recent refinement. In the nineteenth century, two anthropologists, Sir Edward Tyler and Sir James Frazer, popularized the notion that the first stage in the evolution of religion was animism (which involved the worship of spirits believed to inhabit natural phenomena), followed later by pantheism (the idea that everything is divine), polytheism (belief in a multitude of distinct and separate deities) and eventually by monotheism.1

However, recent studies in anthropology have turned this scenario on its head and show, for example, that the hundreds of contemporary tribal religions (including many which are animistic) are not primitive in the sense of being original. Writing from long experience in India, and after extended studies of ancient religions, the modern scholar Robert Brow states, The tribes have a memory of a “High God”, who is no longer worshipped because he is not feared. Instead of offering sacrifice to him, they concern themselves with the pressing problems of how to appease the vicious spirits of the jungle.’2 Other research suggests that tribes ‘are not animistic because they have continued unchanged since the dawn of history’ and that The evidence indicates degeneration from a true knowledge of God.’3 After working among primitive tribes for many years, one modern expert says, The animism of today gives us the impression of a religion that carries the marks of a fall,’4 while another bluntly refers to ‘the now discredited evolutionary school of religion’ as being ‘recognized as inadmissible’.5

[p. 26>] The evidence of modern archaeology is that religion has not evolved ‘upwards’, but degenerated from monotheism to pantheism and poly­theism, then from these to animism and atheism, a finding confirmed by the Scottish academic Andrew Lang in The Making of Religion: ‘Of the existence of a belief in the Supreme Being among primitive tribes there is as good evidence as we possess for any fact in the ethnographic region.’6 In History of Sanskrit Literature, the Oriental expert Max Muller, recog­nized as the founder of the science of the history of religions, came to the conclusion: ‘There is a monotheism that precedes the polytheism of the Veda; and even in the invocations of the innumerable gods, the remem­brance of a God, one and infinite, breaks through the mist of idolatrous phraseology like the blue sky that is hidden by passing clouds.’7 In The Religion of Ancient Egypt, Sir Flinders Petrie, universally acknowledged as one of the world’s leading Egyptologists, claimed, ‘Wherever we can trace back polytheism to its earliest stages, we find that it results from combin­ations of monotheism.’8 In Semitic Mythology, the Oxford intellectual Stephen Langdon, one of the greatest experts in his field, said, ‘In my opinion the history of the oldest civilization of man is a rapid decline from monotheism to extreme polytheism and widespread belief in evil spirits. It is in a very true sense the history of the fall of man.’9

These statements make it clear that the scenario suggested by Tyler and Frazer will not fit the facts. There is no convincing evidence for any devel­opment in nature religions from animism through polytheism to mono­theism. The idea that religion itself is something man invented has proved just as baseless. When the British naturalist Charles Darwin went to Tierra del Fuego in 1833, he believed that he had discovered aborigines with no religion at all. There are atheists today who still lean heavily on this, in spite of the fact that a scholar who went to the region after Darwin, and spent many years learning the language, history and customs of the Fuegians, reported that their idea of God was well developed and that he found ‘no evidence that there was ever a time when he was not known to them’.10

The same overall picture emerges in studies centred on the traditions of the oldest civilizations known to man: original belief in a ‘High God’, fol­lowed by degeneration into polytheism, animism and other corrupt reli­gious notions.

To trace all the currents in the ebb and flow of man’s religious thinking over the centuries is beyond anyone’s ability, but it is possible to track down some of the people whose ideas not only made a marked [p. 27>] contemporary impact but still affect the way many people think today on the issue of the existence of God. In this and the next eleven chapters we will make a high-speed pass over the last 2,500 years or so and identify some of the most influential characters and concepts. One point before we begin: animism, pantheism, polytheism (and some of the other `-isms’ we shall touch on as we go along) are usually treated as facets of theism, but for the purpose of this book I want to draw the line elsewhere and to treat them as aspects of atheism, on the grounds that they fail to square with the definition of God proposed in the introduction….

Footnotes

1) See especially James George Frazer, The Golden Bough (1890), which examined the development of human thought with reference to magic, religion and science.
2) Robert Brow, Religion: Origins and Ideas, Tyndale Press, p.11.
3) Ibid.
4) Johann Warneck, The Living Forces of the Gospel, Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier, p.99.
5) Edward G. Newing, ‘Religions of Pre-literary Societies’, in The World’s Religions, Norman Anderson, Inter-Varsity Press, pp.11-12.
6) Andrew Lang, The Making of Religion, Longmans & Green, p.18.
7) Max Muller, History of Sanskrit Literature, 559.
8) Flinders Petrie, The Religion of Ancient Egypt, Constable, p.4.
9) Stephen Langdon, Semitic Theology, 5 in Mythology of All Races, Archaeological Institute of America, p.xviii.
10) Edward G. Newing, ‘Religions of Pre-literary Societies’, in The World’s Religions, 14.

John Blanchard, Does God Believe In Atheists? 2nd Edition (Darlington England; Carlisle, PA: EP Books, 2011), 25-27, footnotes 640.

My favorite portions of the above biography, the first is about the surety we have in salvation and God’s finished work on the cross. The second portion is about the depth we have in studying the Word of God and living the Christian faith.

  • Romans 11:33 ~ “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

Dr. Blanchard’s books can be found on his Amazon bio page ~ What a blessing this man has been to my life and many others.

Concepts: John Van Huizum`s Achilles Heel ~ “Moral Pronouncements”

Since I have been critiquing John van Huizum’s articles (here-and-there), he came across as someone who took a position to comment on the “right[s] and wrong[s]” done in politics — just one example to make the point. In April of this year, John had an article entitled “About Correcting Mistakes.” In the article he uses words like “disaster,” “correct,” “imbalance,” and the like.

The above is a great example of the Western distortion of Buddhism. Alan Watts speaks about “me,” “SELFish,” “I am desire,” etc. As you will see, this is all anathema to Buddhism. Ethics, morals, etc also are all illusory:

Or John’s “critique” of Sharia Law, and his asking if Christoper Hitchens was right. This makes no sense in light of the following article about Alan Watts, who really teaches that ethics have “no intrinsic value.”

My point being that while I may continue to critique John’s articles, know that whenever he accesses some behavior as wrong, or one that should be corrected — as in the political left and right — he is undermining his own case by a) not having an ontological or epistemological basis for his positions, and b) is proving the superiority of the Judeo-Christtian ethic over other views. In other words, me dealing with bad thinking is in futility, and john’s positions on a way politically, economically, or morally for someone to go is also in futility. Here is the article referencing Alan Watts:

(Click to enlarge)

I will give and example from my book, more specifically from my chapter on Eastern philosophy where I include a debate/discussion I had with a Zen-Buddhist apologist:

I wish to illustrate with a conversation (unfinished by the way) between myself and a Zen Buddhist.  This conversation can almost happen with any religious Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, or the like.  The conversation takes place after an interesting post by the person on his blog about self-defense, the Dalai Lama, WWII, and the Buddha. I will post my reply to his original thought, and then he responds, followed again by me.  (Keep in mind I am using our “blog” names, they are almost like “handles” like in the movie Top Gun):[1]

My initial engagement

Does the idea of “violence” as a moral good or a moral evil truly exist in the Buddhist mindset? What I mean is that according to a major school of Buddhism, isn’t there a denial that distinctions exist in reality… that separate “selves” is really a false perception? Language is considered something the Buddhist must get beyond because it serves as a tool that creates and makes these apparently illusory distinctions more grounded, or rooted in “our” psyche. For instance, the statement that “all statements are empty of meaning,” would almost be self refuting, because, that statement — then — would be meaningless. So how can one go from that teaching inherent to Buddhistic thought and say that self-defense (and using WWII as an example) is really meaningful. Isn’t the [Dalai] Lama drawing distinction by assuming the reality of Aristotelian logic in his responses to questions? (He used at least three Laws of Logic [thus, drawing distinctions using Western principles]: The Law of Contradiction; the Law of Excluded Middle; and the Law of Identity.)  Curious.

They Call Him James Ure, responds

You’re right that language is just a tool and in the end a useless one at that but It’s important to be able run a blog. That or teach people the particulars of the religion. It’s like a lamp needed to make your way through the dark until you reach the lighthouse (Enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.) Then of course the lamp is no longer useful unless you have taken the vow to teach others.  Which in my analogy is returning into the dark to bring your brothers and sisters along (via the lamp-i.e. language) to the lighthouse (enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.)

I respond

Then… if reality is ultimately characterless and distinctionless, then the distinction between being enlightened and unenlightened is ultimately an illusion and reality is ultimately unreal. Whom is doing the leading? Leading to what? These still are distinctions being made, that is: “between knowing you are enlightened and not knowing you are enlightened.” In the Diamond Sutra, ultimately, the Bodhisattva[2] loves no one, since no one exists and the Bodhisattva knows this:

“All beings must I lead to Nirvana, into the Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind; and yet, after beings have been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana. And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a “being” should take place, he could not be called a “Bodhi-being.” And likewise if the notion of a soul, or a person should take place in him.

So even the act of loving others, therefore, is inconsistent with what is taught in the Buddhistic worldview, because there is “no one to love.” This is shown quite well (this self-refuting aspect of Buddhism) in the book, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. A book I recommend with love, from a worldview that can use the word love well.  One writer puts it thusly: “When human existence is blown out, nothing real disappears because life itself is an illusion. Nirvana is neither a re-absorption into an eternal Ultimate Reality, nor the annihilation of a self, because there is no self to annihilate. It is rather an annihilation of the illusion of an existing self. Nirvana is a state of supreme bliss and freedom without any subject left to experience it.”

My Final Response

I haven’t seen a response yet. Which is fitting… because whom would be responding to whom? Put another way, would there be one mind trying to actively convince the other mind that no minds exist at all?

[1] I use quite liberally in this exchange two resources, they are as follows: Michael J. Murray, ed., Reason for the Hope Within, 212-214; and, Ernest Valea, “Possible difficulties in Buddhism,” Many Paths To One Goal? Found at: http://www.comparativereligion.com/Buddhism.html (last accessed 8-11-09), the main site is: http://www.comparativereligion.com/index.html

[2] “One who has taken a vow to become a Buddha.” David Burnett, The Spirit of Buddhism: A Christian Perspective on Buddhist Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2003), 329.  “Celestial” Buddha’s and bodhisattvas are said to be able to assist in guiding believers towards salvation as supernatural beings.  These bodhisattvas vary in their rolls and offices as the many gods of Hinduism, from which Buddhism comes.  See: Michael D. Coogan, Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Toaism, Confucianism, Shinto (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), 133-139.

So, even the act of “loving,” or love itself as expressed in concern, the well-being of others, and the like, are all illusory. Not only that, but these concepts all keep the believer in pantheistic religions captive to this delusion rather than getting out of the cursed “wheel of reincarnation.” The words John used are laden with ideas of a moral wrongs, as if there is a plum line in the universe in which John is accessing and thinks others should hear the Cthulhu siren call of and apply to their thinking as well. C.S. Lewis dealt with this well when he talked about his atheistic days:

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too ~ for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist ~ in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice ~ was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1952), 38-39.

You see, John is baking a cake and eating it too. He is espousing atheistic Buddhism in his life, but BORROWING ethical stance made only in the Judeo-Christian worldview (see exchange at Harvard during Q&A with students, to the right).

Put another way, I had a professor of philosophy who was herself Hindu, which has a similar view to Buddhistic ideas of Karma — since Buddhism was birthed from Hinduism. During the class time that dealt with “evil,” she concentrated almost exclusively on Christianity. I pointed out that other worldviews (atheism, pantheism, and the like) all have to deal with this problem. She responded that they do not. Odd. In a paper I wrote in response to this — after eviscerating her position in class — I point the follwing out, and in the below are examples I used in class with this double masters holding professor [actively] trying to get kids to reject Christianity in class. This response went through some “evolutions” to end in my seminary level paper I wrote, “New Age Pop Culture“:

PANTHEISM

Now that we have defined what the Law of Noncontradiction is, lets apply it to some basic Eastern thinking.  All Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers (etc), are pantheists.  The term Pantheist “designates one who holds both that everything there is constitutes a unity and that this unity is divine.”[1]  Most pantheists (Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers, etc.) would hold that physical reality, and all the evils it produces, is merely an illusion.  This holds true for the personality of man as well.  This distinction explains why, in both Hinduism and Buddhism, the personality is seen as an “enemy” and is finally destroyed by absorption into Brahmin or Nirvana. Not only is the material creation absorbed, but human existence are either an illusion, as in Hinduism (maya), or so empty and impermanent, as in Buddhism (sunyata), that they are ultimately meaningless.

But is an impersonal “immortality” truly meaningful when it extinguishes our personal existence forever? Is it even desirable? As Sri Lanken Ajith Fernando, who has spoken to hundreds of Buddhists and Hindus, illustrates:

“When I asked a girl who converted from Buddhism to Christianity through our ministry what attracted her to Christianity, the first thing she told [me] was, ‘I did not want Nirvana.’ The prospect of having all her desires snuffed out after a long and dreary climb [toward ‘liberation’] was not attractive to her.”[2]

In the end, man himself is a hindrance to spiritual enlightenment and must be “destroyed” to find so called “liberation.” As Dr. Frits Staal comments in an article entitled, “Indian Concepts of the Body,” “Whatever the alleged differences between Hindu and Buddhist doctrines, one conclusion follows from the preceding analysis. No features of the individual[‘s] personality survive death in either state”[3]

With the above in mind, take note of a major problem that faces the pantheist visa viz, “that there is no reality except the all-encompassing ‘God’.”  Using the Law of Noncontradiction we can see that this is a nonsensical statement that is logically self-refuting.  If everything is illusion, then those making that statement are themselves illusions.  There’s a real problem here.  As Norman Geisler pointed out, “One must exist in order to affirm that he does not exist.”[4]  When we claim that there is no reality except the all-encompassing God, we are proving just the opposite.  The fact that we exist to make the claim demonstrates that there is a reality distinct from God, which makes this key doctrine of pantheism a self-defeating proposition.  It is an untruth – by definition.

Reincarnation

Another belief that is accepted by all Eastern philosophies as well as the New Age movement is that of reincarnation.  I will explain the concept with some examples, after I define the term.  Reincarnation is a “belief in the successive rebirth of souls into new bodies, as the soul progresses toward perfection.”[5] 

Some examples of this “karmic law” are warranted: first, lets assume I beat and abused my wife horribly, treated her like the dirt on my shoes, I would be storing up some pretty bad karma.  When I come around for my next human life, after, of course, traveling through the insect, and animal lives, I would come back as the woman being beat.  This is karma’s answer to evil, which is really no answer at all.  In fact, it perpetuates evil.  How so?  It necessitates a beatee,” which mandates a “beater.”  Karma, then, creates a never-ending circle of violence, or, “evil.”  In addition it states (emphatically I might add) that we choose our current destiny (or events) in this life due to past life experiences and choices.  This is why the holy men in Buddhist and Hindu nations generally walk right by the maimed, injured, starving, and uneducated, and do not care for them.  This next true story drives this point home.

Ron Carlson, while speaking in Thailand, was invited to visit some refugee camps along the Cambodian border.  Over 300,000 refugees were caught in a no-man’s-land along the border.  This resulted from the Cambodian massacre under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70’s (which is known as the “killing fields”) and then subsequently by the invasion of the Vietnamese at the end of the 70’s.  One of the most fascinating things about these refugee camps was the realization of who was caring for the refugees.  Here, in this Buddhist country of Thailand, with Buddhist refugees coming from Cambodia and Laos, there were no Buddhists taking care of their like-minded brothers.  There were also no Atheists, Hindus, or Muslims taking care of those people.  The only people there, taking care of these 300,000[+] people, were Christians from Christian mission organizations and Christian relief organizations.  One of the men Ron was with had lived in Thailand for over twenty-years and was heading up a major portion of the relief effort for one of these organizations. Ron asked him: “Why, in a Buddhist country, with Buddhist refugees, are there no Buddhists here taking care of their Buddhist brothers?” Ron will never forget his answer:

“Ron, have you ever seen what Buddhism does to a nation or a people? Buddha taught that each man is an island unto himself. Buddha said, ‘if someone is suffering, that is his karma.’ You are not to interfere with another person’s karma because he is purging himself through suffering and reincarnation! Buddha said, ‘You are to be an island unto yourself.’” –  “Ron, the only people that have a reason to be here today taking care of these 300,000 refugees are Christians. It is only Christianity that people have a basis for human value that people are important enough to educate and to care for.  For Christians, these people are of ultimate value, created in the image of God, so valuable that Jesus Christ died for each and every one of them.  You find that value in no other religion, in no other philosophy, but in Jesus Christ.”[6]

Do you get it now?  It takes a “Mother Teresa” with a Christian worldview to go into these embattled countries and bathe, feed, educate, care for these people – who otherwise are ignored due to harmful religious beliefs of the East.

Another example is a graphic one, but it drives the point home.  While at home on my day off, my work calls me in due to an emergency.  I cannot find a sitter for my youngest son, so I call a family member, say, uncle Steve.  While I am at work, uncle Steve rapes and sodomizes my son.  Should I call the authorities??  If I am a believer in reincarnation, then I must realize that this “evil” is an illusion, number one, and number two, this “evil” was brought on my son most likely because of something my son did in a previous incarnation.  Something my son did in a previous lifetime demands that this happened to him in this lifetime.  (Or something I did, or my wife did, whomever.)  Only recently have some Indian people rejected reincarnation and started to kill the massive infestation of disease-ridden rodents that inhabit India’s cities.[7]  These rodents carry and transmit many diseases as well as destroying and infecting large portions of food that could have made it to the starving population.  Most, however, continue to nurture or ignore these disease-carrying animals in the belief that they are a soul stuck in the cosmic wheel.  This is just one example of a horrible religious practice that is part of the many destructive practices that are hurting precious people.  The caste system mentioned before is another that promotes and encourages racism, malnourishment, lack of education, and death.

Pain & Suffering

Another problem in pantheism is God’s inability to deal with or solve the problem of evil.  In fact He is the cause of it… remember, pantheists believe all is God.  Pantheism may try to ignore this problem by claiming that sin and suffering is an illusion (maya), but let’s bring this philosophy down to the real world.  Try to convince a man dying of cancer or a mother who just lost a child, that evil and suffering are merely illusions.  Even if evil is an illusion, the illusion itself is real.  In either case, evil exists.  As Geisler asked, “If evil is not real, what is the origin of the illusion?  Why has it been so persistent and why does it seem so real?…  How can evil arise from a ‘God’ who is absolutely and necessarily good?”[8]  The answer must be that if pantheism is true, God cannot be good, and He must be the source of evil.

Between karmic destiny and the god[s] of pantheism and its dealing with pain and suffering (and consequently the promotion of it) by claiming everything is an illusion just doesn’t make sense.  Mustn’t we live as if this illusion is reality?  Pantheists may pawn this inane philosophy on people, but no one can live it out consistently.  And when a large population tries, like in India, one can see the fruits it produces.[9]  The promulgation of suffering and the inability of the religious Hindu to stop and help a suffering child or the rampant infestation of disease spreading (crop eating) pests, etc., is all a loud explanation of trying to live an unlivable philosophical proposition.

I have debated many persons over the Internet that are pantheists that will laud the evils done by the Christian church.  In these debates I point out that these persons are in fact using the Judeo-Christian moral absolutes in interpreting history and delineating between “good” and “bad.”  For in Eastern thought, there is no “evil,” or “good.” If these people really believed it, they would come to realize there is no real good or evil!

The inquisitions, for instance, were merely the outgrowth of the victim’s previous lives – incarnations.  The Christian church, then, would merely be an instrument in perfecting these person’s karmic lives.  Therefore, when some here who are defending karmic destiny in other strains speak of the horrible atrocities committed by religion,” they are not consistently living out their philosophy of life and death.  The victims of the Inquisitions or Crusades then are merely being “paid back” for something they themselves did in a previous life. It is the works these people did prior that creates much of the evil upon them now. So in the future when people like John (a believer in reincarnation) says that Christianity isn’t what it purports to be because of the evil it has committed in the past, I will remind such people that evil is merely an illusion (maya – Hinduism; Sunyata – Buddhism) to be overcome, as karmic reincarnation teaches.[10]

In addition, monistic philosophies provide no explanation for the diversity within creation. If “God is truly one,” the only reality, then diversity (all creation) is by definition part of the illusion of duality. That includes all morality, all human hopes and aspirations. In the end, despite having an infinite reference point, we are left with only a destructive nihilistic outlook on life.  To think otherwise is to adopt or borrow portions of another worldview. As Charles Manson noted, “If all is one, what is bad?”

The desire of every Buddhist, for example, is to be free from the problems of life – to be free from pain and suffering. As the Buddhist saying goes, “As the water of the sea tastes of salt, so all life tastes of suffering.” Their goal is to develop a detachment from life.  Buddha taught that desire is the root of all evil. To exist is to suffer!  The answer to suffering is Nirvana (annihilation), which is achievable by successive reincarnation. Hence, Buddhism insists, “Those who love a hundred have a hundred woes. Those who love ten have ten woes. Those who love one have one woe. Those who love none have no woes.” The goal of life is to reach the stage of desirelessness. When one ceases to desire we have overcome the burden of life. How one is suppose to be desirelessness without desiring that quality is a problem few have any time (or desire?) to answer.

[1] Ted Honderich (editor), The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, (Oxford Univ; 1995), p. 641; “[T]he doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only manifestations: it involves a denial of God’s personality and expresses a tendency to identify God and nature,” Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (Random House Inc, 1999), CD, see: Pantheist.

[2] Ajith Fernando, The Supremacy of Christ, p. 241

[3] Somantics: The Magazine/Journal of the Bodily Arts and Sciences, Autumn/Winter 1983-1984, p. 33.

[4] Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1976), p. 187.

[5] Debra Lardie, Concise Dictionary of the Occult and New Age (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2000), p. 218.; …“Proponents base their beliefs on the idea of karma, the Hindu concept of the force generated by the sum total of an individual’s actions, especially religious or ritual actions both good and bad.  Hinduism teaches that the lives of people are an accumulation of both good and bad karma.  The imbalance of this accumulation determines the circumstances for the next reincarnation life” (Ibid., pp. 218-219).

[6] Ron Carlson & Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings. (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1994), pp. 28-29.

[7] From a show seen by the author [me] a few years ago on The Learning Channel.

[8] Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1976), p. 187..

[9] Rabi R. Maharaj, Death of a Guru: A Remarkable True Story of One Man’s Search for Truth (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1977).

[10] From an on-line debate the author had.  You could also include the deaths of innocent civilians in the currant Iraqi war… these innocents that died by a misplaced U. S. bomb deserved so due to a previous life choice.  The critic of this war who is a New Age student of Eastern thought looses all power to criticize such “evil” acts.

To be clear… ethics [moral oughts and ought nots] finds no rest and peace in either atheism or Eastern thought

Dr. Mark McCartney, Talks Science, God and Evidence

This Serious Saturday is with thanks to Pastor Matt and comes from Saints & Sceptics:

Dr. Mark McCartney, co-editor Kelvin: Life, Labours and Legacy (Oxford University Press, 2008). Dr. McCartney lectures in the School of Computing and Mathematics at the University of Ulster. Along with his research in applied mathematics, he has an interest the history of physics, co-editing “Kelvin: Life, Labours and Legacy” (with Raymond Flood and Andrew Whitaker) and “Physicists of Ireland” (with Andrew Whitaker). His PhD is in theoretical physics. (All views expressed here are those of“Saints and Sceptics”).

Dr. McCartney explains the limits of science, responds to the claim that science and Christianity have always been in conflict, and sums up the evidence for God in three words: “There are laws.”

Dr. McCartney develops his thoughts on atheism, science and morality, explains the “Fine-Tuning” argument, and discusses multiverses.

More at Saints & Sceptics site… highly recommended.