2/18/09

The Quadripartite Equine Riders, part 8 of 11

Please note that this essay has been moved to True Freethinker where it was posted at this link.

44 comments:

  1. It's amazing to me that Richard Dawkins is so blissfully ignorant of contemporary philosophy that he still uses the "If God created everything, who created God?" canard.

    Obviously a biologist is a biologist, not a philosopher. However, this (once again) illustrates the intellectual bankruptcy of the New Atheist movement.

    New Atheists would be just as well off using a middle schooler as their representative as far as I'm concerned.

    Good post, Mariano.

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  2. "It's amazing to me that Richard Dawkins is so blissfully ignorant of contemporary philosophy that he still uses the "If God created everything, who created God?" canard."

    Lol. And by "contemporary philosophy" you really mean the religious ad hoc notion that God is just "uncaused and stop asking questions." To my mind, that says a lot more about "contemporary philosophy" and about you, than about Dawkins.

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  3. Lol. And by "contemporary philosophy" you really mean the religious ad hoc notion that God is just "uncaused and stop asking questions." To my mind, that says a lot more about "contemporary philosophy" and about you, than about Dawkins.

    Case and point.

    It never occurs to atheists that perhaps the argument is a little more sophisticated than that, because they're taught to idolize people like Dawkins who think they can prove Christianity false by making a characature of others' beliefs.

    As a point of fact, the argument goes like this:

    1 Anything that begins to exist has a cause.
    2 The universe began to exist.
    3 Therefore the universe has a cause.

    Since God did not begin to exist, God does not require a cause.

    I don't care if you find that convincing or not, but at least try to understand the things you're skeptical of. It's called "intellectual responsibility". :)

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  4. "As a point of fact, the argument goes like this:

    1 Anything that begins to exist has a cause.
    2 The universe began to exist.
    3 Therefore the universe has a cause."


    The KCA again, huh? It has been discussed plenty here at AiD while you were away, I will not be repeating myself, you can browse the archive.

    "Since God did not begin to exist, God does not require a cause."

    This is not an answer, this is just speculation and baseless assertion. It's not even philosophy.

    You seem to be laboring under the misconception that metaphysical speculation is explanatory, but it isn't. Metaphysics can only raise the questions, not answer them. To answer the questions we must do real physics, i.e. science.

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  5. The KCA again, huh? It has been discussed plenty here at AiD while you were away, I will not be repeating myself, you can browse the archive.

    I wasn't trying to assert the argument, I was simply pointing out the logical form of the argument. If you already know the KCA, then you should know the argument doesn't go like this: "God is just uncaused and stop asking questions".

    This is not an answer, this is just speculation and baseless assertion. It's not even philosophy.

    The whole point of the "who created God?" question is to try to expose the argument as invalid. However, on the argument's own terms, God doesn't need a cause.

    See, the idea is that if things need causes (as the argument seems to assert) then God needs a cause. This idea that things need causes comes from the argument itself, so when someone asks "Who made God?" they're trying to undermine the logic of the argument. However, this doesn't work, because the argument itself doesn't imply that God needs a cause. Do you see what I'm getting at here?

    I swear, sometimes you atheists TRY to misunderstand what I'm saying sometimes. :p

    You seem to be laboring under the misconception that metaphysical speculation is explanatory

    Please point out where exactly I did this, because I think if you read what I said carefully enough you'll see that you're wrong.

    Metaphysics can only raise the questions, not answer them. To answer the questions we must do real physics, i.e. science.

    This statement is self-refuting because it rests on the assumption that all knowledge is restricted to science, even though this assertion cannot be proven through scientific reasoning.

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  6. "If you already know the KCA, then you should know the argument doesn't go like this: "God is just uncaused and stop asking questions"."

    In your original post you did not mention the KCA at all, only "contemporary philosophy," whatever that's supposed to mean (apparently it meant the KCA).

    "However, on the argument's own terms, God doesn't need a cause. "

    Well lucky you. Isn't it great to create an argument that says: "This argument doesn't need a valid premise." Very convenient get out of jail free card.

    "However, this doesn't work, because the argument itself doesn't imply that God needs a cause. Do you see what I'm getting at here?"

    Yes, you're happily accepting the first and second premises as established knowledge despite their validity being highly questionable, and furthermore the unspoken third premise that the cause of the universe (if it had one) had to be God.

    "Please point out where exactly I did this,"

    You invoked the KCA, which relies on metaphysical assumptions for the validity of its premises.

    "This statement is self-refuting because it rests on the assumption that all knowledge is restricted to science, even though this assertion cannot be proven through scientific reasoning."

    More lulz. I remember this tactic of yours from before, how you loved to point out that "scientism" is self-refuting. Here's the material point: science is a demonstrated way of acquiring knowledge about explanatory mechanisms. Disparage this fact all you like, I couldn't care less, but until you can demonstrate that some other method can also do this (like, the awesome predictive power of the Bible, or the astounding efficacy of prayer) - your assertions and speculations remain baseless, and veridically worthless. Talk is cheap.

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  7. IrishFarmerBoy,

    Look up the fallacy called "special pleading".

    I find it strange that theists continue to use these fallacious arguments. A fallacious argument only serves to weaken their case, it does not strengthen it.

    In addition, I am sure this fallacy has been pointed out to farmer before. Is he unable to learn?

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  8. Hi there!
    I am writing a series of posts on God concepts and I was wondering if anybody is interested in playing the devils advocate – since all the comments I get are one sided and it just doesn’t make for a good debate. So if you are an intelligent individual that can respect different opinions and would like to pitch in a thought or two stop by :)
    Thank you!

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  10. First off, Buddha, it's considered bad netiquette in some cases to come over to someone else's blog and advertise your own blog/website.

    I don't personally care, but the point of the comments section is to comment on the post. Not let people know that you write stuff.

    Whatever.

    Adonais, I was pretty miffed when I first read your comment. But I sat on my response and came to a realization: you are completely incapable of comprehending what I'm saying. I'm not saying this to be a jerk (though a jerk I may be), I'm saying this because you literally have no idea what I'm talking about, and so you're arguing past me trying to refute points that I haven't even made.

    Personally, I prefer to demonstrate to someone my position, clear up any misunderstandings, and then have a productive conversation. However, in this case I think that would be a waste of both of our time.

    So, I've already said what I wanted to say on this peice, and since you haven't actually responded appropriately to anything I've said, I'd only be repeating myself.

    IrishFarmerBoy,

    Look up the fallacy called "special pleading".

    I find it strange that theists continue to use these fallacious arguments. A fallacious argument only serves to weaken their case, it does not strengthen it.

    In addition, I am sure this fallacy has been pointed out to farmer before. Is he unable to learn?


    The special pleading you're referring to, I assume is my claim that God did not begin to exist. It's interesting to me that you would call this special pleading, because it's no more special pleading than it is for me to say God is omnipotent. Both are part of the definition of "God".

    So, you're probably right. This fallacy has been pointed out to me before I'm sure, and I'm just as sure that it was by someone who - like you - doesn't understand what a fallacy is.

    I've taken a look at your blog and here were a few highlights:

    "I find all of this great fun. But it's a good time to recall that philosophy is all words about words. Language is useful, but we should not take it too seriously. Whatever we might think words can tell us about the actual world is irrelevant. Reality relentlessly imposes itself, regardless of what we say or think."

    This statement is incredibly ironic. Can't you see the inherent contradiction?

    There's also your "argument" for naturalism here:

    "Gods and magic and mystical woo are the confections of human imagination.

    Supernaturalism is a consequence of primitive ignorant people trying to explain and understand their world. Naturalism is a consequence of modern knowledgeable people trying to explain and understand their world."

    Now, no offense but I won't be taking tips on errors in reasoning from you. Thanks, anyway. :)

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  11. no offense but I won't be taking tips on errors in reasoning from you.

    Because you are a dogmatician, I am not surprised you blatantly acknowledge your closed-mindedness.

    On your other point, I find it ironic, and somewhat pathetic, you did not recognize my intentional irony.

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  13. Geez. Rereading my last response, I really do sound like a jerk.

    UnBeguiled, you say:

    Because you are a dogmatician, I am not surprised you blatantly acknowledge your closed-mindedness.

    If that's how you feel about it, then that's fine. However, I've told you the reason your criticism is invalid is because you've misidentified my statements as a special pleading fallacy. Furthermore, it's even more annoying that you're not only accusing me of employing a fallacy that I'm not, but you're insulting about it as well.

    It's not a matter of being closed minded. If, say, I were talking to Anthony Flew (when he was still an atheist), or Jeffery Jay Lowder, or Quentin Smith ... those are atheists I would feel comfortable taking lessons in critical reasoning from.

    However, I've pointed out multiple times where you and Adonais were in error, and so far you've only responded with insults (which is, in a way, fair enough because in retrospect my comment was pretty insulting).

    The point is, I'm not ignoring your criticism because you're an atheist and you disagree with what I believe; I'm ignoring your criticism because it's incorrect and I'm not getting the vibe that you have any interest in understanding my side of the argument.

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  15. It's interesting to me that you would call this special pleading, because it's no more special pleading than it is for me to say God is omnipotent.

    This excuse will not work. By declaring by fiat that god did not begin to exist you are making a baseless assertion, as adonais pointed out. Calling it part of the definition of god does not give you an exemption from using fallacies.

    It is a perfect example of special pleading.

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  16. irishFarmer,

    I'm telling you this for your own good: you need to come down from that high horse.

    I don't enter into a debate amicably when the opening post sets the tone with derisive taunts, as you did. Expect some reciprocity. If you're miffed and angry now, that's your own doing, and you can sit in your corner and mope for all I care.

    You accuse me of shirking "intellectual responsibility" by not trying to understand your argument; you say that I have no idea what you're talking about, and that I haven't responded appropriately to what you've said. Well, if admitting that you're in the right is what you consider an appropriate response, then you will probably be waiting for that until the cows come home.

    I told you that the KCA had been debated extensively here not long ago, and that I would not be repeating myself. As for that "intellectual responsibility," did you look up the older topics on the KCA to see what had already been discussed, before continuing your argument?

    Since you seem to think that I pulled a fast one on you, let me explain. You have said nothing that is not standard KCA apologia, so to save us the trouble I cut to the chase and went directly to the core issues that you'd have to confront if you want to defend the KCA: the premises and ancillary assumptions.

    If that was too confusing, let me re-reply to your last reply to me, then:

    "The whole point of the "who created God?" question is to try to expose the argument as invalid."

    More specifically, it illuminates the special pleading fallacy of the premise that God is uncaused (see below). If, by your standards of reasoning, you are allowed to assume ad hoc that God is uncaused, then you can make the same assumption for an infinite number of things other than God, which could take God's place as the uncaused cause of the universe. Lacking evidence, you have no basis for distinguishing between the different alternatives.

    "However, on the argument's own terms, God doesn't need a cause."

    This is the special pleading fallacy. Your phrase "on the argument's own terms" is just an eloquent way of saying that you've added a completely ad hoc assumption. An argument is only as strong as its weakest assumption, and this is a feeble one. It wouldn't be a fallacy if you actually had some evidence for such a proposition, but without support of any kind it is a mere speculation, and it confers no predictive or explanatory power to the argument. Worse than that - it drags the whole argument down to the level of its weakest assumption.

    "This idea that things need causes comes from the argument itself"

    No, the idea that things need causes is an empirical notion. But already in modern science there are areas where this notion becomes blurred and ill defined, and for sure the domain before/beyond the universe is completely beyond our empirical ken. We can speculate about things like time, space, matter and causality in those realms, but we don't know what the rules are, or if those qualities even exist. Projecting our mundane empirical notions of causation into those domains is risky at best, and dead wrong at worst. This speaks to the (un)reliability of the first premise.

    "However, this doesn't work, because the argument itself doesn't imply that God needs a cause."

    So what - it also does not imply that God doesn't wear a pointy gray hat on sundays: does that mean that God wears a pointy gray hat on sundays? If you try to use that as an argument for why God is uncaused you will be committing the fallacy known as denying the antecedent.

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  17. All right, I'll get off my "high horse".

    This excuse will not work. By declaring by fiat that god did not begin to exist you are making a baseless assertion, as adonais pointed out.

    It's no more of a baldless assertion than declaring that God is omnipotent.

    I've already raised this point, because I anticipated what you've said here. Do you have a response, or no? Simply repeating what I've already predicted you would say isn't going to cut it.

    Calling it part of the definition of god does not give you an exemption from using fallacies.

    Exactly how is it a fallacy? What reason do we have to believe that God began to exist, that contradicts my earlier statements?

    I don't enter into a debate amicably when the opening post sets the tone with derisive taunts

    I was derisive of Dawkins, because he rarely knows what he's talking about when it comes to religion. Furthermore, the question of "Who created God" is outdated. So, forgive me for being derisive when people are asking a question that hasn't been valid for decades.

    Expect some reciprocity. If you're miffed and angry now, that's your own doing, and you can sit in your corner and mope for all I care.

    I wasn't miffed because you gave reciprocated my attitude, I was miffed because you're not understanding what I'm saying and you're arguing against points I haven't even made. For instance, later on in your latest comment you argue agains the KCA. The problem is, I never tried to argue that the KCA was sound. I merely argued ABOUT the LOGIC of the KCA which is seperate from the soundness of the KCA.

    Well, if admitting that you're in the right is what you consider an appropriate response

    No. An appropriate response is actually getting to the issues I've raised, rather than trying to argue that the KCA is an unsound argument as you have. I don't care about the soundness of the argument in this discussion. Yet you keep raising it as if its relevant.

    I told you that the KCA had been debated extensively here not long ago

    This is what I mean. I don't care to debate the soundness of the argument. I never once claimed in this discussion that the argument is sound, I was analyzing the logic of the argument. You don't seem to get the difference.

    and that I would not be repeating myself. As for that "intellectual responsibility," did you look up the older topics on the KCA to see what had already been discussed, before continuing your argument?

    No. Because I wasn't trying to convince you that the argument is sound.

    More specifically, it illuminates the special pleading fallacy of the premise that God is uncaused (see below).

    Again, you illustrate my point that you are responding to points I haven't even made. At most, I've simply argued that based on the logic of the KCA, God doesn't NECESSARILY require a cause. Furthermore, the word God (as Christians define it) is defined as a being which did not begin to exist. That's not special pleading, that's just the definition of the word.

    The KCA doesn't imply on its own terms that God requires a cause. To put it yet a third way, within the context of the argument, God does not require a cause.

    If, by your standards of reasoning, you are allowed to assume ad hoc that God is uncaused

    No, within the context of the logic of the argument I am allowed to conclude that God (as defined by Christianity among other religions) does not necessarily require a cause. If you want to argue that God requires a cause, you have to look outside of the argument. You claim I'm being ad hoc when I say that God doesn't require a cause. Well since you haven't provided an argument that God requires a cause (and since the KCA doesn't imply on its own that God does) why is your definition of God as a being who began to exist any less ad hoc than my own definition?

    then you can make the same assumption for an infinite number of things other than God, which could take God's place as the uncaused cause of the universe.

    Well, in minimalist terms, what would be the difference between these "other things" and God? In the context of this discussion, God would simply be that uncaused being which caused the universe. If you say, "Well, God doesn't fit that bill, but X fits that bill." Then in the context of this discussion, X might as well be God.

    This is the special pleading fallacy. Your phrase "on the argument's own terms" is just an eloquent way of saying that you've added a completely ad hoc assumption.

    No it isn't, because if you go back to the original question, the question works FROM the logic of the argument. That is, the question assumes that the logic of the argument holds, so that it can prove that the argument is invalid.

    The question, "Who created God?" only works if the logic of the argument went like this:

    1). Everything needs a cause.
    2). The universe is a thing.
    3). The universe needs a cause.

    In this case, God is a "thing" and therefore requires a cause and the question is valid.

    Instead, the argument makes a distinction.

    1). Those things which began to exist need a cause.
    2). The universe began to exist.
    3). The universe requires a cause.

    Logically speaking, this thing that created the universe must itself be uncreated (which would make sense if it was uncaused), otherwise the argument would apply to that thing that created the universe and we would have to keep applying the argument until we reached the final creator of everything, which just so happens to coincide with the defintion of God.

    If we hold to your logic, then God was created by something greater than Himself. But then why not call this creator-creator God? We might as well, because this hypothetical meta-creator would better fit the definition of God to begin with.

    An argument is only as strong as its weakest assumption, and this is a feeble one.

    First off, the argument only "proves" that the universe has a cause, not that God is that cause. The definition of God just happens to fit the bill, so you're incorrect because the argument doesn't rely on the assumption that God did not begin to exist (and therefore doesn't require a cause).

    But that's really besides the point. What reason do I have to believe that God began to exist, rather than God didn't begin to exist. On the surface alone, I don't see why I should believe one over the other, because for all intents and purposes both are logically possible (although if God requires a cause, it would mean that God - by definition - isn't God, and this cause of God - by definition - is.

    Furthermore, I'd love to hear you guys explain why I need evidence for this portion of the definition of God, but not the portion that explains that God is, say, omnipotent, or that God is a mind. Why the special requirements for this part of the definition and not the others?

    It wouldn't be a fallacy if you actually had some evidence for such a proposition, but without support of any kind it is a mere speculation

    And so your assumption that God would need a cause doesn't require any evidence? Please explain why, otherwise based on your logic you're committing the fallacy of special pleading to assume that such a proposition should just be taken at face value.

    No, the idea that things need causes is an empirical notion.

    That's a distinction without a difference. The reason why the argument carries weight is because we know from experience that things which come into being have a cause.

    So, to claim that this doesn't come from the argument is incorrect, and nothing more than a semantical game. Before you object, the logic of the argument works on "empirical" grounds. That is, it takes what we know from empiricism, and comes to a conclusion. Please explain, without just asserting, how that doesn't come from the argument when that logic clearly comes straight from the argument.

    So what - it also does not imply that God doesn't wear a pointy gray hat on sundays: does that mean that God wears a pointy gray hat on sundays?

    This is exactly why the argument is so frustrating: You're reading into my words, more than I've even said. I never claimed that because the argument doesn't imply something, that something is therefore true. Only that God doesn't NECESSARILY require a cause based on the argument. One might counter with yet another argument that attempts to prove that God necessarily requires a cause, and that's fine. Both arguments would not be mutually exclusive either. However, it does point out that the question, "Who create God?" does not undermine the logic of the KCA, because even if the KCA is sound, God MIGHT still not have a cause Himself.

    If you try to use that as an argument for why God is uncaused you will be committing the fallacy known as denying the antecedent.

    Again, you're claiming that I'm doing something which I so far have not. I never argued that God is logically and necessarily uncaused based on some argument, only that on the logic of the KCA, God doesn't necessarily require a cause. Furthermore, this makes sense on the definition that God is the uncaused cause of the universe. You take exception to this definition, but so far have not argued for why we should believe that God cannot be defined as the uncaused cause of the universe.

    Simply crying "Fallacy!" is not an argument in itself.

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  18. It's no more of a baldless assertion than declaring that God is omnipotent.

    Both are baseless assertions.

    Exactly how is it a fallacy? What reason do we have to believe that God began to exist

    We don't have a reason to believe that a god exists, full stop.

    You are special pleading because you make an ad hoc baseless assertion in order to exempt God from a generally accepted principle.

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  19. It's no more of a baldless assertion than declaring that God is omnipotent.

    Both are baseless assertions.

    LQTM Are you kidding me? You're telling me that it's a baseless assertion to define the word "God"?!

    I can make up any word I want, and I can give it any definition I want. If I want to prove that God has these qualities, that's another story - proving that such an entity exists and has these qualities requires an argument.

    Regardless, I'm going to give this one last try and see if I can talk some sense into you and then I'm done.

    The word "God" can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. I can define the word as a purple, magical poundcake if I really want to. In fact, I can be the only person to hold this definition, and there's nothing wrong with that. Words are words, they can be defined in any way possible.

    In this case, when I refer to God, I'm referring to a being which is a mind, which is the beginningless, uncaused cause of our physical reality. By defining God this way, I have not proven that God exists. If I were to claim that by merely defining God this way that I've proved He exists and is all of these things, that would be a bald assertion.

    However, all I've done is establish what I mean when I say, "God". Actually this is pretty much what all followers of the Abrahamic religions mean when they say, "God". (Though this definition is minimal in scope.)

    So, to recap, I haven't proven anything at this point. All I've done is define a word, and this word may or may not apply to an actual being in existence. In other words, God may or may not exist and may or may not have these qualities if He exists.

    Everything ok so far? I'm sure by this point you're already put off, because you're convinced that I'm trying to argue that God exists for some odd reason because no matter what I say, you always response the same way. So let me say it one more time to make sure we're on the same page: I have not argued that God as I've defined Him actually exists.

    Now, I'm done with all of the other rabbit trails. The whole point of this discussion concerned atheists who ask the question: "If God made everything, who made God?" You don't like the fact that I've declared this question invalid by saying that God is a being (hypothetically) who did not begin to exist and therefore does not require a cause. However, when the atheist asks the question, "Who created God?" they're working FROM the definition of God that the theist holds. It would be the same as saying, "Who created the beginningless, uncaused mind who is creator of the universe?" This question, within the logic of the KCA is invalid because the KCA says that only those things which begin to exist require a cause. By definition, this isn't God as, say, Christians think of God.

    You can complain about the definition of God all you want, but when an atheist asks the question, "Who created God?" you can subsitute the Christian definition of God in the place of the word "God". If you think there is some reason we necessarily HAVE to believe the God began to exist in time - like some kind of logical argument that requires the creator of the universe to have a beginning in time - then let's hear it. If you argument is valid and sound, I will personally change the way I think about God, just for you.

    In the meantime, this is the simplest way I can think of to explain this whole mess. If you don't get it after this, then there's no explaining it to you. Of course, judging by this:

    We don't have a reason to believe that a god exists, full stop.

    You're still convinced that I'm trying to pull a fast one on you guys and just assume that God exists until you prove otherwise. Which I haven't done. I don't care if you don't believe in God. Even if God doesn't exist, nothing about the core of this argument changes.

    You are special pleading because you make an ad hoc baseless assertion in order to exempt God from a generally accepted principle.

    This whole discussion is framed within the logic of the KCA. If you have some seperate argument that proves that any creator of the universe must itself have a beginning in time, then please feel free to enlighten me about this argument that is "generally accepted".

    I'd love to hear it.

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  20. I accidentally typed "isn't" here when I meant to say "is".

    "By definition, this isn't God as, say, Christians think of God."

    It should read:

    "By definition, this is God as, say, Christians think of God."

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  21. Irish,

    Go back to the beginning of this conversation.

    You wrote:

    "Since God did not begin to exist, God does not require a cause."

    And adonais responded:

    "This is not an answer, this is just speculation and baseless assertion. It's not even philosophy."

    You can try to re-write history if you want. You were not merely claiming how you define your god. Rather, you made a very specific claim.

    A claim that any philosophy 101 student would recognize as special pleading.

    ------------------

    Either our observable universe is uncaused, was caused by some necessarily existing thing, or there is an infinite regress of causes.

    I don't know the answer. Do you?

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  22. Irish,

    Go back to the beginning of this conversation.

    You wrote:

    "Since God did not begin to exist, God does not require a cause."

    And adonais responded:

    "This is not an answer, this is just speculation and baseless assertion. It's not even philosophy."

    You can try to re-write history if you want. You were not merely claiming how you define your god. Rather, you made a very specific claim.


    Well, if that's what you took out of what I said then I can see where you're coming from. That isn't, however, what I intended. When I say something like "Since God did not begin to exist, God does not require a cause", that you understand I'm speaking on hypothetical terms. If you didn't, then you didn't. Maybe I should have made it more clear.

    Either our observable universe is uncaused, was caused by some necessarily existing thing, or there is an infinite regress of causes.

    I don't know the answer. Do you?


    That's a discussion for another time. :)

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  23. To clarify, that specific statement of mine that you quoted was in the context of the KCA:

    "As a point of fact, the argument goes like this:

    1 Anything that begins to exist has a cause.
    2 The universe began to exist.
    3 Therefore the universe has a cause.

    Since God did not begin to exist, God does not require a cause. "

    Another way to read that would be: The argument only requires that things which begin to exist have a cause. God, by definition alone, did not begin to exist and therefore the argument does not necessitate a cause for God as it does for the universe.

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  24. irishFarmer,

    Your replay is so full of absurdities I hardly know what to make of it. You've sunk into sophistry!

    "Furthermore, the question of "Who created God" is outdated. So, forgive me for being derisive when people are asking a question that hasn't been valid for decades."

    Would you mind telling me exactly when it became "outdated"?

    Let me tell you something about the real world. As long as people claim that: 1) God exists, 2) Nothing preceded God, who has always existed; the skeptic's question "How do you know that?" is going to be valid until given a reliable, verifiable answer.

    You're heroically inventing worlds of hypotheticals and think that those provide a logical answer to the question - they don't, and they can't. I told you already, hypotheticals can only raise the questions, not answer them. If you go around making claims (1) and (2) you have the "intellectual responsibility" to answer the skeptics' questions about those claims. Until (1) and (2) have sufficient evidence to be regarded as established facts, you do not have the intellectual high ground to dismiss the skeptics' questions about your hypotheticals. You're shirking the very same "intellectual responsibility" which you demanded from me.

    "The problem is, I never tried to argue that the KCA was sound. I merely argued ABOUT the LOGIC of the KCA which is seperate from the soundness of the KCA."

    "I don't care about the soundness of the argument in this discussion. Yet you keep raising it as if its relevant. "

    "I don't care to debate the soundness of the argument. I never once claimed in this discussion that the argument is sound,"

    "Because I wasn't trying to convince you that the argument is sound. "

    So....you admit that the KCA is unsound?

    Am I to understand that you have deliberately invoked, and keep arguing, an unsound argument? That's pretty preposterous - if you know that the argument is unsound, don't fracking use it. Sheesh already.

    "No, within the context of the logic of the argument I am allowed to conclude that God (as defined by Christianity among other religions) does not necessarily require a cause."

    Call it a "definition" if that makes you feel good - without any supporting evidence it is still a completely baseless, ad hoc assumption. The kind of thing that renders arguments unsound - you can state it, but that doesn't make it true.

    Now I realize you don't care about your arguments being sound, but those you debate with most likely do.

    "Well, in minimalist terms, what would be the difference between these "other things" and God? "

    For instance, they need not be teleological agents. Would you pray to quantum foam?

    "Logically speaking, this thing that created the universe must itself be uncreated"

    No, this doesn't follow logically - it's an assumption that you invoke. Because you don't know whether it is true, the argument is unsound, and quite worthless.

    "If we hold to your logic, then God was created by something greater than Himself."

    I have made no claims about gods of any kind. All I'm saying is that we don't have enough information to distinguish between all the metaphysical possibilities, and therefore, no basis for building a sound argument - all we have so far are speculations.

    "First off, the argument only "proves" that the universe has a cause, not that God is that cause. "

    If the premises are valid, yes. Are they? You don't actually know. See - now were right back to where I went initially but you didn't want to follow.

    "Furthermore, I'd love to hear you guys explain why I need evidence for this portion of the definition of God, but not the portion that explains that God is, say, omnipotent, or that God is a mind."

    Who said you don't need to provide any evidence for that?

    "And so your assumption that God would need a cause doesn't require any evidence?"

    If God was demonstrated to exist, the validity of any assumption about God's origin would have to be examined - but I'm not making any such assumption. "On the argument's own terms" as you so prettily put it, everything that begins to exist has a cause. This would include God, because, as you rightly pointed out, the KCA doesn't say anything about God. You then proclaim that the definition of God is such that he does not necessarily require a cause, and so, putting the two together, you think you have a valid argument that God is the uncaused creator of the universe.

    Bad news: two unsound arguments do not combine to a sound conclusion.

    (I got fed up with this; the rest of your post looks like just more of the same, I'm going to cut it short here.)

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  25. Your replay is so full of absurdities I hardly know what to make of it. You've sunk into sophistry!

    That's unfortunate...


    The original argument was about whether or not the questions "Who created God?" is a valid question. So, as much as possible I'll try to curtail the rabbit trails and respond only in the context of that original argument.

    Would you mind telling me exactly when it became "outdated"?

    When the modern version of the KCA was formulated.

    Let me tell you something about the real world. As long as people claim that: 1) God exists, 2) Nothing preceded God, who has always existed; the skeptic's question "How do you know that?" is going to be valid until given a reliable, verifiable answer.

    You're heroically inventing worlds of hypotheticals and think that those provide a logical answer to the question - they don't, and they can't. I told you already, hypotheticals can only raise the questions, not answer them. If you go around making claims (1) and (2) you have the "intellectual responsibility" to answer the skeptics' questions about those claims. Until (1) and (2) have sufficient evidence to be regarded as established facts, you do not have the intellectual high ground to dismiss the skeptics' questions about your hypotheticals. You're shirking the very same "intellectual responsibility" which you demanded from me.


    I don't know if this misunderstanding of yours is my fault or yours. Really, it doesn't matter, because it remains a misunderstanding nonetheless. Besides, I'm pretty sure I tried to correct this numerous times, and you still don't get it.

    Firstly, I didn't argue for (1). The truthfulness of (1) has no bearing on whether or not The Question is valid. The Question is whhow I'm going to refer to "Who created God?"

    This is the last time I'll say it: God might or might not exist as far as the logical validity of The Question is concerned. I did not argue that (1) is true.

    So....you admit that the KCA is unsound?

    Am I to understand that you have deliberately invoked, and keep arguing, an unsound argument? That's pretty preposterous - if you know that the argument is unsound, don't fracking use it. Sheesh already.


    This is what philosophers call a non sequitur. More specifically, just because I think the soundness of the argument is irrelevant to The Question, doesn't mean that I think the argument is unsound.

    Call it a "definition" if that makes you feel good

    No, it really doesn't make me feel good. What else do you want me to call a definition? Is there another word for definition that you're more comfortable with?

    I think this misunderstanding of yours is based on the fact that you think that I'm arguing that God exists, and because He exists He has the qualities in the definition of the word. But I didn't argue that God exists, and so by extension I didn't argue that God exists with those certain traits.

    without any supporting evidence it is still a completely baseless, ad hoc assumption

    This would only be the case if I was trying to assert that God exists, which I haven't.

    For instance, they need not be teleological agents. Would you pray to quantum foam?

    I have much to say about this, but this is nothing more than a bunny trail so I'll leave it for now. As a point of fact, I'm planning on examining Quentin Smith's arguments along these lines in some posts coming up.

    Though I would be curious what your quantum foam argument for the creation of the universe would be. Seeing as it involves the inherent contradiction of a natural phenomenon creating the universe.

    "Logically speaking, this thing that created the universe must itself be uncreated"

    No, this doesn't follow logically - it's an assumption that you invoke. Because you don't know whether it is true, the argument is unsound, and quite worthless.


    I'll also leave this, because it's another rabbit trail.

    I have made no claims about gods of any kind. All I'm saying is that we don't have enough information to distinguish between all the metaphysical possibilities, and therefore, no basis for building a sound argument - all we have so far are speculations.

    Another trail.

    "First off, the argument only "proves" that the universe has a cause, not that God is that cause. "

    If the premises are valid, yes. Are they? You don't actually know. See - now were right back to where I went initially but you didn't want to follow.


    So, when I told you that I wasn't trying to convince you that the argument was sound, you just decided you were going to completely ignore me and respond as if I was asserting that the argument was true? Because I'm not quite understanding how me stating about five times that the soundness of the argument was irrelevant would lead to you once again trying to assert that the argument is unsound.

    You're losing the original scope of the argument. The argument was about the validity of The Question. The validity of The Question doesn't change whether or not the argument is sound.

    "Furthermore, I'd love to hear you guys explain why I need evidence for this portion of the definition of God, but not the portion that explains that God is, say, omnipotent, or that God is a mind."

    Who said you don't need to provide any evidence for that?


    I'm sorry. How do I prove that God is defined this way by Christians? Is there some empirical method by which I prove that a word is defined a certain way by certain people?

    If God was demonstrated to exist, the validity of any assumption about God's origin would have to be examined - but I'm not making any such assumption. "On the argument's own terms" as you so prettily put it, everything that begins to exist has a cause. This would include God, because, as you rightly pointed out, the KCA doesn't say anything about God. You then proclaim that the definition of God is such that he does not necessarily require a cause, and so, putting the two together, you think you have a valid argument that God is the uncaused creator of the universe.

    This is where you continuously go wrong. I never claimed that God existed because of these factors, only that The Question is logically invalid on the terms of the KCA. You're losing the scope of the argument.

    Bad news: two unsound arguments do not combine to a sound conclusion.

    That would mean more to me if you could actually stay focused on the conclusion I'm attempting to help you reach.

    Get it out of your head: I'm not arguing that God exists, I'm arguing that The Question is logically invalid within the scope of the KCA. Let me re-explain, just so that you can't claim I was being unclear. Just because I'm arguing that The Question is logically invalid within the scope of the KCA doesn't mean I'm arguing that God exists or that the KCA is a sound argument.

    If anything about this is unclear, then tell me what. Please don't repeatedly argue that God doesn't exist, because in the context of this discussion, I don't care.

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  26. "Get it out of your head: I'm not arguing that God exists, I'm arguing that The Question is logically invalid within the scope of the KCA. Let me re-explain, just so that you can't claim I was being unclear. Just because I'm arguing that The Question is logically invalid within the scope of the KCA doesn't mean I'm arguing that God exists or that the KCA is a sound argument."

    How on Earth did you get it into your head that an unsound albeit formally valid argument has any bearing whatsoever on anything at all? Soundness is the raison d'ĂȘtre of formal logic!

    As far as I can tell, Dawkins makes no reference to the KCA in raising the question of regress, or "Who created God" - you committed the faux pas of projecting his statement into the KCA, and from there you draw the conclusion that an unsound argument that makes no reference to God invalidates Dawkins's question.

    I think my absurdometer just exploded.

    You might not argue that God exists (though you'd be a pretty lousy Christian if you didn't), but a lot of people do. As long as people argue that God exists, it is a perfectly valid and necessary question to ask: "Who or what created God, or if God is eternal, how do you know that, and what is your evidence for that?"

    You can neither evade nor answer these questions by formal logic or unsupported axiomatic definitions.

    About definitions. You pulled an amazing stunt there that I just have to point out. Look at this exchange:

    iF: "Furthermore, I'd love to hear you guys explain why I need evidence for this portion of the definition of God, but not the portion that explains that God is, say, omnipotent, or that God is a mind."

    A: "Who said you don't need to provide any evidence for that?"

    iF: "I'm sorry. How do I prove that God is defined this way by Christians? Is there some empirical method by which I prove that a word is defined a certain way by certain people?"

    When you talk about "evidence for this [portion of the] definition of God," the standard way to parse that would be as a statement about the propositional correctness, and hence the validity, of the definition, or a part/attribute of the definition. In fact, is there any other way to interpret it? Apparently.

    A definition of God is an inescapable part of any logical argument involving God. As an aside, a convincing case can be made that all arguments about God are meaningless so long as no valid definition of God exists. Adding attributes like omnipotence and omniscience etc. to the definition of God is only shuffling assumptions around to a different place; these are still truth claims, and declaring them to be part of the "definition" does not obviate the requirement that they be verified somehow.

    But anyway, look at how irishFarmer in the second quote reinterprets the statement about evidence for the definition of God as being not about propositional correctness, but about mere semantic construction!

    I just thought that was pretty hilarious, and wanted to point it out :-)

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  27. How on Earth did you get it into your head that an unsound albeit formally valid argument has any bearing whatsoever on anything at all? Soundness is the raison d'ĂȘtre of formal logic!

    It follows, actually. The discussion started because of The Question, which doesn't rely on the soundness of the argument. I've already said this. The whole point of The Question is to try and use the logic of the Cosmological Argument to point out that even IF it were the case that the argument is sound, we wouldn't be any closer to an ultimate answer on the creation of the universe. This is all hypothetical. An atheist can ask this question without actually believing that the universe requires a cause, simply to shut theists up and simultaneously avoiding a protracted disagreement on the soundness of a Cosmological Argument.

    That is why the soundness does not matter.

    As far as I can tell, Dawkins makes no reference to the KCA in raising the question of regress,

    No duh. I just assumed that it was common knowledge that The Question was meant to undermine the Cosmological Arguments. If not, then whence the question? The question only makes sense in light of a Cosmological Argument. To restate: The Question arose as a means to undermine theistic cosmological arguments, so that theists could not use the arguments to their advantage.

    I suppose you could ask that question in a vacuum, but then a simple response to deflate the question is, "Why makes you think that God needs a creator/cause?" At which point, since you're the one making the claim, you would have to demonstrate that if such a being as God existed, that being would require a cause.

    I think my absurdometer just exploded.

    Don't worry, I can keep holding your hand until you finally understand what I'm saying. :p

    You might not argue that God exists (though you'd be a pretty lousy Christian if you didn't),

    I do, just not in this discussion.

    By the way, I don't remember the commandment, "Thou shalt use philosophical arguments to convince people of my existence."

    but a lot of people do.

    Good on them.

    As long as people argue that God exists, it is a perfectly valid and necessary question to ask: "Who or what created God, or if God is eternal, how do you know that, and what is your evidence for that?"

    I really don't understand why you're stuck in this mindset. What you've said above might be true if, and only if, someone argues that God exists. Too bad for you, I haven't, so you can bring up irrelevant points like this all day, but it's not going to get us anywhere.

    In the absence of a logical argument, like the KCA, the only source for an answer to the question of whether or not God's existence necessitates His creation is to look at the definition of God. In this discussion, the only logical argument we're working with is the KCA. A being such as God - irregardless of whether or not such a being actually exists - by definition did not begin to exist, and therefore does not NECESSARILY have a cause.

    If you have an argument that any being which exists necessarily has a beginning to its existence, then let's explore that. Although I think you would have a hard time pulling that one off. It was perfectly rational to believe that the universe was eternal until relatively recently (when the evidence said otherwise). However, in the absence of such an argument, it's logically POSSIBLE that a being such as God - regardless of whether or not such a being exists - would exist without beginning to exist. In which case, the question, "Who created God?" could be answered by, "Possibly no one/nothing." Unless we have other reasons to think that such a being had a beginning or requires a cause.

    You can neither evade nor answer these questions by formal logic or unsupported axiomatic definitions.

    I can do whatever I want with a definition of a being, so long as I don't claim that said being actually exists.

    When you talk about "evidence for this [portion of the] definition of God," the standard way to parse that would be as a statement about the propositional correctness, and hence the validity, of the definition, or a part/attribute of the definition. In fact, is there any other way to interpret it? Apparently.

    Wow. I have no idea what you're trying to say.

    I'll assume this is some sort of argument you're making that in order to define a word, I have to somehow prove the definition is valid - which apparently means that a definition of a word MUST be empirically valid before it is valid as a definition. Boy, that's going to cause a lot of trouble for a lot of people.

    I can only imagine you reading through a dictionary and crying, "What?!?! A 'unicorn' is a 'creature resembling a horse, with a single horn in the center of its forehead'?! Prove it!"

    A definition is a definition. There's nothing to prove. the problem is, you're not making the distinction between the association between the 'definition' and the 'word' - which is really just a given part of language - and the association between the 'word' and 'reality'. This error is leading you to, apparently, believe that I'm claiming that the Christian definition of God corresponds to reality - which I'm not. I'm claiming that when a Christian says, "God", they mean, [insert definition here]. Nothing more. This is so self-evident, that I'm confused that you're even arguing against this.

    Actually, I'm incredibly baffled that you aren't capable of grasping this point. I don't know if I'm communicating it poorly, or if it just doesn't make sense to you, but there's clearly a huge disconnect here. Of course, there is the third option that you seem to believe that one must prove that a word corresponding to any being is meaningless unless someone proves that that being exists with all of the properties in its definition, but I refuse to believe this because that's beyond stupid. I'm sure this is just something getting "lost in translation" or something.

    As an aside, a convincing case can be made that all arguments about God are meaningless so long as no valid definition of God exists.

    This is an aside I don't mind exploring, because I'm pretty sure I know where you're going and I don't mind showing you the illogic behind what you're about to say. But we'll cross that river when we get there.

    Let me just ask you to clarify the above statement, before I criticize it too much. Are you telling me that you believe any word has an invalid definition, except in the case that someone can prove that the said word corresponds to reality and is verified through "evidence"?

    Please explain.

    Adding attributes like omnipotence and omniscience etc. to the definition of God is only shuffling assumptions around to a different place; these are still truth claims, and declaring them to be part of the "definition" does not obviate the requirement that they be verified somehow.

    Where to begin...

    So, let's say I'm an atheist. I say to someone, "God does not exist!" This someone then replies, "Hold on a minute, what do you mean by 'God'?" then I say, "When I say 'God', I mean [insert definition here]." Then this person turns around and says, "Prove that God is any of these things!" Here's why this question makes no sense: According to the atheist's beliefs, God doesn't even exist. How then should the atheist continue? Should he prove that a being that he doesn't even believe exists has the attributes described in its definition?

    Now that I think about it, according to your own logic you can't make any arguments about God, or even any meaningful statements about God until you prove that definition of God is "valid" - whatever it means to be valid (I would love to know). Hm, looks like you just majorly undermined your own side of the argument. If you haven't proven the definition of God valid, why are you using the word at all in this discussion with me?

    But anyway, look at how irishFarmer in the second quote reinterprets the statement about evidence for the definition of God as being not about propositional correctness, but about mere semantic construction!

    I stand by my statements.

    I just thought that was pretty hilarious, and wanted to point it out :-)

    This has actually been one of the more interesting discussions I've had on a blog. I think your point-of-view is rather fascinating.

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  28. irishFarmer:

    I think any further discussion would be futile; you are simply too far removed from reality. You've gone into Craig mode, spouting more nonsense per paragraph than is humanly possible to respond to.

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  29. I think a third perspective might help here.

    Adonais and UnBeguiled are doing a lot of posing about their masterful grasp of "philosophy 101", but I think an actual philosophy student would be amused at the lack of depth in your arguments. Irish, on the other hand, you get the philosophical error being made by these two, but you're not doing so well at explaining it, or countering it.

    "Who made God" is a question missing the point of the KCA. Asking it demonstrates either ignorance, or lack of understanding of the Kalam, because "un-caused" is a property assumed in the definition of God.

    So:

    1) Socrates is a man.
    2) Men are mortal.

    Therefore,

    3) Socrates is mortal.

    In essence, Adonais and UnBeguiled keep asking the question, "how do you know Socrates is human? Non-humans may not be mortal." The answer is that "being human" is a part of the first premise. The person being referred to as "Socrates" is the historical / philosophical figure - and if you didn't know that, then a simple reminder ought to be enough to close the "how do you know Socrates is human" line of thought.

    Instead, these two keep coming back to "human-ness" as though it's being logically grafted into the argument. It's not, so what you're really arguing over is whether or not you agree with a part of the first premise, not whether or not the argument is valid or not.

    Socrates' human-ness is assumed in the definition of "Socrates". Sure, some entities might be non-human, but that's irrelevant to this issue. Human-ness, like male-ness, is part of the definition of the term being used: “Socrates”. The same would be true if the argument dealt with speaking Greek or being a suicide victim. Calling that "special pleading" misses the point, and makes "philosophy 101" comments hysterical.

    God's "non-begun" nature is assumed in the definition of "God" as used in Christianity (and the KCA). The idea that infinite regresses cannot occur is another "shadow premise" of the argument. Asking “who made God” makes a faulty presumption that because one thing is caused, all things must be caused, and somehow KCA proponents missed that. In fact, part of the point of KCA is a rejection of infinite regresses. It’s particularly absurd to refer to a property of “God” that predates the KCA by a good several centuries (if not millennia) as “ad hoc” for the sake of the KCA.

    In other words, Dawkins is making a huge blunder in acting as though the "who made God" question is such an easy, simple, obvious “gotcha” question for a Christian. It suggests a lack of understanding of the ideas he’s criticizing. Anyone who is aware of the Kalam should know better than to make that assumption.

    Adonais and UnBeguiled are tripling that error by posing as philosophical maestros while screwing the pooch in their own analysis of the KCA argument, and Irish’s defense of God’s definition as non-begun. Appealing to an assumed or necessary definition of the subject of a premise is not special pleading, particularly not when the property in question is the point of the argument.

    Also, I don’t know what kind of philosophical study you’ve had, but premises are assertions, so this is obnoxiously wrong:

    "This (noting that God is uncaused and does not require a cause) is not an answer, this is just speculation and baseless assertion. It's not even philosophy."

    You can agree or disagree with them, but premises must be asserted in order to have a syllogism. That kind of response suggests an extraordinary lack of knowledge about what philosophy even is, let alone what theists believe, or why.

    This is one of those cases where a truly rational person should be able to admit that – whether or not you accept the KCA or any of its premises – the attempted rebuttal/gotcha is philosophically dead. Asking “who made God” is just an admission that the questioner does not understand what they are questioning.

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  30. Lol. Birds of a feather, eh?

    Oh this is rich.

    MedicineMan: where have you been??? We missed your filibustering, thanks for reminding us how it's done.

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  31. Rich, indeed, to see that some people never get over themselves enough to learn...because they think they already know everything!

    No offense to anyone here, or AiD in general, but this type of conversation isn't exactly a priority for me. I've been plenty busy engaging people who don't substitute derision for logic.

    Glad to remind you that there's one less person who's impressed by that kind of pseudo-thinking.

    I hope that wasn't so long a reply that the PhD feels he's being 'filibustered'...if I get the chance to hit AiD again soon, maybe you can give me some more lessons in CYA derision.

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  32. Hi MedMan,

    Any progress on your crucible? It's only been five months. No rush, two simple questions.

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  33. unBeguiled,

    If you're referring to the questions you mentioned discussing via email, no email was received, so no response was given.

    If you are (or were) that curious about the reply, email me as I suggested.

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  34. I did email you. I will email you again.

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  35. MedicineMan, your analysis of the problems on my end as well as Unbeguiled's and adonais' seems pretty spot on.

    I could take a lesson or two from you in written communication. Not that it would have helped me in this conversation, which was dead before it even started.

    At the very least, I can take one lesson from this: Say what I have to say quickly and cleanly, and move on when there's no intelligible response in sight.

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  36. Irish,

    That's very kind. I don't know that anyone here needs my help in communicating, but I do think all parties involved need to recognize when a conversation gets hung up.

    Case in point: Adonais knows enough to ask some generally relevant questions (e.g. whether causality works the way we think it does at the quantum level), but he doesn't understand the philosophical framework that's used to apply them coherently. That's why he acts like anything he doesn't agree with must be stupid or fallacious, why he really does misunderstand the pros and cons of certain arguments, and why he tends to refute what he expects to see rather than what's there.

    I think the key to not wasting time is to recognize when that type of roadblock is in place, and not get too worried about dislodging it.

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  37. MedicineMan and irishFarmer: I think you are both quite full of it preceded by sh. MedicineMan's post is a complete train wreck, containing not a single sentence of sense and relevance together. And he follows this up with self-congratulatory back-patting, gratuitous insults and disingenuous distortions (aimed at me now, not Dawkins) - I find such behavior frankly revolting, and I wonder what twisted morality you possess that allows you to behave this way. Calling the pair of you disingenuous is far too kind.

    "Case in point: Adonais knows enough to ask some generally relevant questions (e.g. whether causality works the way we think it does at the quantum level), but he doesn't understand the philosophical framework that's used to apply them coherently."

    Your problem here is that you think that a Judeo-Christian philosophical framework has explanatory power by fiat. That, of course, is nonsense. It doesn't matter one jot how internally coherent and beautiful a philosophy you invent, if it can not be shown to have any relation to reality. Have you showed that the Judeo-Christian metaphysical claims are true? I do not think so, but go ahead and show us if you can. Talk is cheap, as both you and iF have amply demonstrated in this thread.

    When you talk about "apply them [philosophical frameworks] coherently" you are still moving within the fictional realm of make-believe philosophical fantasies, where you can apply bits of philosophy to itself in whatever manner you like. That's perfectly fine so long as, like irishFarmer said, you don't claim these philosophies to be descriptive of or have explanatory power in the real world. In fact you don't even need to tell me about it - I positively don't want to know about your sick fantasies about resurrected corpses absolving sin and talking snakes or whatever. Let that be your private fantasy.

    But of course you ultimately do claim, perhaps the next day or in the next breath, that these (Judeo-Christian metaphysical) philosophies are in fact descriptions of reality. And then you discover that your arbitrary freedom to play with words in the philosophical realm doesn't carry over to the formal analysis whereby we must evaluate the veracity of those truth claims. There are rules that must be followed there. Definitions, axioms, assertions, postulates, premises etc - whatever you call it, prior assumptions about gods or the supernatural have to be supported and shown to be true or valid.

    To my knowledge, no theologian has ever been able to do that.

    The irony here is that theists nowadays want their arguments to enjoy the credibility of science and formal logic (it wasn't always that way), but they can't just subject the Judeo-Christian doctrine to that analysis machine in toto, since that would inevitably shred the Christian doctrine. Instead, they do two things, both of which we have seen examples of in this thread.

    One is to claim that science isn't the only way to acquire knowledge, and that religions may discover truths by other means. This can't be ruled out, but how do we evaluate whether this claim has any merit? The most obvious way would be if the religions offered examples of such bona fide knowledge that could not have been acquired by any natural means. Do we have any such examples? Not that I know of. This claim has to be regarded as very suspect, and it can certainly not be used as a valid premise for an argument.

    The second method by which theists attempt to inject credibility into their philosophy is by only subjecting selected parts of their doctrine to the formal analysis machine. That way, their core axioms can be kept inside their imaginary realm of free-floating philosophy, where they are free to define and postulate arbitrarily, and simply claim that their axioms are true by fiat. Not because they have been shown to be true, but that they are true by virtue of definition. This, of course, is unadulterated nonsense. They want scientific credibility, but they are seeking exemption for those parts of their doctrine that do not stand up to scientific scrutiny, by claiming that those are part of a definition, and therefore true, also by definition.

    This whole thread is a shining and ugly example of exactly this heroic quest for exemption from validation of religious truth claims.

    "This is one of those cases where a truly rational person should be able to admit that – whether or not you accept the KCA or any of its premises – the attempted rebuttal/gotcha is philosophically dead."

    There are three ways that the question "Who made God" could be obviated:

    1) stop making claims that God exists;
    2) showing that God does not exist, or
    3) showing that God does exist, and 3b) also discovering the truth behind whether this God was necessary, contingent, eternal, or something else.

    These are the only ways. Making up definitions ex nihilo and leaving it at that explains nothing, and only leaves you looking stupid. Does the KCA do either of the above? It does not. The syllogism of the KCA does not even mention God; the connection between the syllogism and God is made by importing supplementary Judeo-Christian doctrine.

    The formal argument of the KCA has no impact whatsoever on the relevance of the question "Who made God." In this regard, invoking the KCA is only a red herring.

    The metaphysical assumptions of the Judeo-Christian doctrine which purport to "explain" God's un-causedness by defining it so, are only that: metaphysical assumptions with no basis or support in reality - your own little just-so story. It could of course be perfectly true, but until supported by some evidence it remains nothing but a speculation, devoid of explanatory power and veridically worthless.

    The question "Who made God, or if God is eternal and uncaused, how do you know that?" remains relevant to anyone claiming that there exists a God who made everything. It doesn't matter whether that claim is made as an assertion, a postulate, an assumption, a definition, or some other semantic quantity or dressed up in philosophical technobabble or whatever: it remains a claim whose propositional correctness needs to be verified, if it is to be taken as a description of reality.

    If you claim that there exists a God who created everything, then that is a claim about purported reality. Assuming for the sake of argument this claim to be true, it is a valid question to ask "Who or what created God?" If you then claim that God is uncaused and eternal, then that is another claim about purported reality. But simply making this claim does not answer nor obviate nor invalidate the previous question. You have to show that the claim is true. Simple as that.

    You can not weasel out of this by philosophy or logic. Ignore it all you like, but declaring the question "philosophically dead" only demonstrates how impotent you are to address it while claiming that God exists, and how ridiculous you look by trying to pretend that adding more unsupported metaphysical assumptions invalidates the question. And insulting people who point this out to you really makes you look stupid.

    This whole thread is a perfect illustration of Mahers First Law: When you defend religion, you look like an idiot.

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  38. Thanks for the CYA lesson I was expecting, A. We can always count on plenty of this...

    MedicineMan's post is a complete train wreck, containing not a single sentence of sense and relevance together.

    ...from you. Not one? Really? Not a single thing I said made sense at all? Good to know, and thanks for making it clear how hard it seems to be for you to understand an argument you don't want to agree with. Then again, I don't want to press you on this, because my fragile theistic mind might crumble if you call me a "moron", as you have in the past.

    Typical Adonais. He rambles (filibusters?) about how wrong a response is while simultaneously saying how it contained neither sense nor relevance. Then, he claims the arguer is impotent! No surprise from a person admittedly disinclined, as I said, to actually bother learning anything about what he's critiquing:

    In fact you don't even need to tell me about it - I positively don't want to know about your sick fantasies about resurrected corpses absolving sin and talking snakes or whatever.

    I can't think of any better words to prove wrong a person who implied that you're both uninformed and philosophically shallow. Touche!

    If you like Maher's First Law, perhaps you ought to follow it, and stop trying to defend your religion, because the harder you try to sneer and snarl your way out of your own philosophical incompetence, the more of an idiot you look like. Religion can fend for itself, I prefer to defend the truth.

    But, really, please, don't let me stop you: flash some more of that titanic intellect and make fun of my mother or something...so witty!

    :)

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  39. adonais,

    I recently slogged my way through a horrible apologetical screed called "The Last Superstition" by Filosopher Edward Feser.

    What I learned from this book was that these guys are practicing what Feynman would call "Cargo Cult Philosophy". That is, they use the lingo and cloak themselves as honest philosophers, but it's all for show. There is just no there there.

    Nice rant. I enjoyed it.

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  40. Glad you enjoyed it, both of you.

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  41. A: I wonder how the Universe got here.
    T: Well, the Universe Fairy, of course.
    A: What's the Universe Fairy?
    T: It's a fairy that created the Universe.
    A: But haven't you just tried to explain one complex thing by introducing another? How did the Universe Fairy get there?
    T: What a silly question. You see: Anything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe had a cause. Now do you see why your question is so ridiculous?
    A: Uh...no
    T: Oh, I forgot to mention that the Universe Fairy is eternal and is therefore exempt from requiring an explanation.
    A: How do you know that?
    T: By definition. You really should study more Philosophy. Now do you see why it is so silly to ask where the Universe Fairy came from?
    A: Look, I'm just trying to understand and explain the world around me. You gave a crap answer that explains nothing. I'll keep looking, thanks.
    T: Haven't you heard? Universe Fairy Denial is Dead!

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  42. :-)

    You said it much better than me, kuhlmann.

    I think after this I'm back to one-liners for the rest of the year, until I'll consider expending this sort of energy on these fellas again.

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  43. T:…the point is there has to be a start somewhere, and the definition of God included being "un-created" long before anyone thought of the cosmological argument.
    A: Flying Spaghetti Monster.
    T: What?
    A: See, you can’t defend your argument.
    T: No, you’re just trying to change the subject.
    A: Invisible Pink Unicorn!
    T: (sigh) What you asked before is fine, but it doesn’t do what you think it does.
    A: Huh?
    T: Asking about God’s eternality is fine, but it doesn’t make what Dawkins said sensible. His question is an ignorant one.
    A: Ad hominem!
    T: Are you kidding?
    A: Tu quoque!
    T: Right.
    A: Modus ponens – that’s a clear modus ponens fallacy!
    T: That’s not even…look, try “ignoratio elenchi”
    A: Huh?
    T: That’s an argument that may or may not be valid, but has nothing to do with the question being discussed.
    A: So?
    T: So, that describes why what you’re trying to say is wrong. You don’t understand the argument, so you’re arguing something else without realizing it.
    A: How dare you question my logical perfection!
    T: My bad.
    A: You’re so stupid. Weener. (giggles)
    T: Yup.
    A: Nothing you say even makes sense..evar! I don’t understand anything you ever say- lol!
    T: (rolls eyes) Can’t argue with that…
    A2: Dude, A, yer, like, mad brainy, yo. Word!

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  44. Yeah, as much as I enjoy someone completely ignoring my arguments, and then arguing against something that I didn't argue, despite me correcting them on this mistake at least a dozen times - I'm done. No more from me. You guys have fun doing what you do, but anyone with a bit of sense can see what happened here.

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