Okay, it seems my Pastor bro insists that I have "reneged" on my word - to post his blog response, if for some reason he encounters technical difficulties. Not to be one to break my word, I hereby post his response here in full - as he sent it in email. I will, however, NOT be responding to it. If anyone wishes to - they can.
As I have awarded Pastor Mike prime blog space, not just ordinary comment real estate, I have decided to annotate his piece with appropriate footnotes, where I deem appropriate. These are intended mainly as clarification, or corrections, if I feel some openly misleading remark or reference has been made, and it has no sources to back it up. All footnotes so added will be denoted so (1) in bold, and the note will follow closely after the text. No other editing will be done, whether correcting errors in spelling, grammar or syntax. The piece rests exactly as it was sent to me.
The idiocy of atheism :
First of all , Atheism tends to exalt reason, but it is actually irrational. Atheists tend to put a lot of stock in the emperical method (1) and in logic. One cannot disprove God exists using the emperical method.
(1) Actually, the empirical method is a part of the inductive method which is used in science, not by atheists per se. The atheist simply adopts the inductive methods used by science and lets science take the lead. "Empirical method" merely means one aspect of doing science, for which direct experiments can be performed and data obtained. The data must still be shown to exhibit correlations, or some other concrete or statistical relationship. After that, quantitative models are derived and these led to the formal statement of a hypothesis.
Needless to say, no sane atheist asserts this direct experimentation method can be used to "disprove God" since the entity being alleged is non-physical, and hence not subject to empirical measurements, such as recording its density, volume or temperature. In addition, no sane atheist ever sets out to "disprove" God because as I have noted many times before that amounts to proving a negative. A logical impossibility.
You might reply: But I can't disprove a giant purple frog on Mars controls the universe, either. Granted, one can never disprove any given thing exists. The atheistic position denying God's existence, if based on the emperical method, is absurd. (2)
(2) Again, it is Mike rendering the absurdity not the atheist. The atheist never asserts what Mike claims we do. We do not say we can "disprove" an existent because that is proving a negative, whether giant purple frog on Mars or God or demons. Thus, Mike puts words and claims into our mouths and ends up with his absurdities.
Why do I say that ? In order to prove the assertion No God exists experimentally, one would need to comprehensively know all of reality. Comprehensive knowledge of reality is called omniscience. One would need to be omniscient in order to prove there is no God, but if one were omniscient one would, by definition, already be God! So, based on emperical methodology, the only one capable of disproving the existence of God would be God himself ! (3)
(3) Mike confuses and conflates many things here with predictable results. Again, since the postulated entity 'God' is deemed supernatural or non-physical then no sane scientist or atheist would ever presume to prove it exists. (Any more than a giant twenty- dimensional invisible turkey in Mike's living room). Thus, no atheist claims comprehensive knowledge of anything. All the atheist asserts is that, since the entity as posited has never clearly manifested itself, the probability of its existence is vanishingly low. And once again, NO atheist makes the claim he can "disprove the existence" of God because that is proving a negative.
But some would say you can indeed assert something does not exist if its existence is logically self contradictory, such as a square triangle. By definition it cannot exist. It is illogical for something to be a square and to also be a triangle. Again, granted, but this line of reasoning assumes logic and real meaning exist and are our basis for knowledge --something an atheist has no right to assert ! The existence of God is not only logically possible, it is philosophically essential (4)
(4) Mike treads on dangerous ground here again, mixing himself up even more than readers. His use of analogy is also false. For example, in the field of algebraic homology, three-dimensional tetradehedra can be resolved into triangles which in turn can be reduced to measures called complexes and simplexes, some of which have square sides. (Which are then divided - see also my blog entry on algebraic homology). The problem for Mike is that his purview is so limited it is impossible for him to perceive there might be existents outside his limited frame of knowledge.
He also avers the existence of God to be "logically possible" but makes no effort to show it. When he states it is "logically essential" he is then bound to provide its ontological basis in terms of the necessary and sufficient conditions for it to exist - but he punts. He avoids doing it. Clearly he is unable to distinguish what is logically possible from what is logically essential.
(I'll get to that more later below.) One cannot prove logic exists (5) unless one first presupposes a God in whom reason and meaning are transcendentally rooted, otherwise these categories are mere philosphical prejuduces. Atheism is inherently self-contradictory.
(5) Again, he puts his cart before his horses. He maintains that no logic or reason can exist without God, yet he offers no necessary or sufficient conditions for it to exist. We are just to take his word. The only thing contradictory in the above passage is Mike's own thinking. He denies the very process (logic) that can scrutinize his imaginary being and expose its logical irregularities. He does this on the basis that the imaginary being must exist before logic can be applied, since logic is the source of the imaginary being. This, of course, commits the post hoc propter hoc logical fallacy. It's like saying I cannot use algebra to solve a complex compound interest problem until I first identify the Twelve-dimensional flying spaghetti monster - on whom all algebra depends.
The evidence for the existence of God is there for all to see, only we refuse to see it. (6) King David wrote: "The fool says in his heart there is no God. " (Psalm 14:1) In other words, Atheism is irrational. Apart from God there is no basis for truth or ethics. Now , I concede ,
(6) The Pastor is clearly in love with tossing around the term "evidence" but he never ever provides it. The 'fool hath said' dealie gets trite after a time. Mike seems to believe it qualifies as some kind of cogent argument, but in the end it marks the logical violation we call "appeal to authority".
Beyond dispute there are moral atheists. I sincerely believe that you , Phil are a very moral person - as I've mentioned in prior posts . I've also known atheists / agnostics who are more ethical than some people claiming to believe in a god. This is not the issue. The question is, why be ethical ? Can an adequate basis for morality be found given atheistic premises ? Think about it. Unless God exists, there is no eternal and transcendent standard for right and wrong.(7) If God did not give the Ten Commandments to Moses at Sinai, thereby establishing a moral standard above human creation, we are merely left with humanly devised scruples.
(7) This is baseless presupposition. And, in fact, can easily be shown to be false. As Kai Neilsson has asked in his book Ethics Without God: "Is an act good because God did it, or is it good independent of such action?"
For a genuine ethical basis, any human action must be totally independent of whether a god did it (in scriptures) or ordains it. It must be good on its own merits.
A first test, as Neilsson observes, is ethical choice predicated on a humane standard. Consider: if a human parent knows his child is trapped in a burning house, s/he will try to save it however s/he can. There is no way the human parent will simply walk out and allow 'fate' or "free will" of the child to make the decision. If the human parent has an ounce of common decency s/he must intervene.
Now, consider an analogous event, the case in 1994 when eight small girls fled into a church to escape a tornado in southern Alabama. They furiously prayed for deliverance, but the twister struck the church (God's alleged 'home') and killed all eight. Being omnipotent, God also had the power to deflect said twister and let it tear up some nearby forest or woodsheds- as opposed to its church with people inside.
Did it? No it did not! It permitted the tornado to demolish the Church and many of those children within it. All innocents. All dead. Those who would defend such a deity - but who would hold a human parent accountable for negligence or manslaughter by allowing their child to perish in a house fire (when the child coujld be saved) - disclose inchoate ethics. To wit, demanding a vastly lower ethical standard of behavior for their deity than for fellow humans.
Those who beg the question with theo-babble ("we cannot fathom the ways or mind of God") are no better, and do no better. In many ways, they're worse, because they lack even the courage to face their own logic.
Thus it follows, even from the most generic examples (presupposing a supernatural, omnipotent force) that human ethics trumps divine ethics on its face. If it does so, then it must also trump any and all human extensions of divine ethics. Whether in the ten commandments, canon law or wherever.
Hence, it follows that human ethics and ethical standards can exist independently of invoking any divine or religious fluff, affiliations or baggage.
If humanity is left to create its own ethical standards, we are left with only three options to base ethics upon: 1) collective tradition, 2) human survival, or 3) personal preference.
Those who argue that morality is properly based upon what society as a whole deems moral have a big problem. What one society says is moral another says is immoral. Nazi Germany held that it was morally good and beneficial to exterminate the Jewish people. The Allies saw the Nazis as evil and fought against them. Who was right ? If one believes God gave the law You shall not kill (murder), the answer is obvious.
Any society that advocates murder is evil. How can an atheist respond ? Most would admit the Nazis were evil, but according to what standard ? Were the Nazis evil just because the Allies said they were evil or were they in fact evil ?(8)
(8) Mike bites off way more than he can chew here and introduces historically misleading statements, and inaccuraces. In fact, the Nazis and Hitler - were CHRISTIANS! In Hitler's own book, Mein Kampf, for example, he writes that "FAITH is often the sole foundation of a moral attitude."(Source: Mein Kamp, Houghton Mifflin, 1943, p. 267)
Hitler even went further, arguing that any attack against religion "strongly resembles the struggle against the legal foundations of the state" and "end in worthless nihilism". In other words, he argued that to attack religion was to attack the state. No surprise then that on acceding to the Chancellorship, one of Hitler's first tasks was to round up all atheists and communists and dispatch them to concentration camps (Source: 'Hitler Nemesis', 2002, by Ian Kershaw, p. xxiv)
Hitler's most famous statement to do with his allegiance to religion was made in his Reichstag speech of 1938 in which he declared: " I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work." (Source: 'The Hitler State: The Foundation and Development of the Internal Structure of the Third Reich', 1981, by Martin Broszat)
As for the Third Reich itself, its very workers' platform principle declares it to stand "for Positive Christianity". (Source: Brosazt, op. cit.)
So, if Mike wants to blame the Nazis and their heinous deeds on anyone, he needs to look at Christians. And also how Christian morality - NOT atheism - supported their horrific planks, and laws.
One can try to argue that it isn't just what a few societies say that matters, but what the majority of human societies agree upon. This does provide a better basis, since God has given us a conscience, but it has been corrupted by rebellion.
At one time most human societies placed less value on female offspring than on males. In many societies female infants were left to die. In some places this exists today. This is morally wrong, no matter if the whole of human society were to say otherwise ! Basing morality on human society does not provide an adequate answer.
What of an evolutionary model for morality ? Why not posit that whatever benefits human survival is moral ? To some this may be appealing, but first ask some questions. Why, based upon atheistic assumptions, should we logically value human survival ? What difference does it all make ? Why is life valuable ? Isn't belief in human survival itself a moral assumption, a value judgement that has no basis in an atheistic world view ?
Furthermore, consider what an ethic based solely on survival could lead to: the elimination of those perceived to have less survival value. The Nazi movement, based upon an evolutionary eugenic ideal of developing a super race, destroyed those deemed by them inferior or unsuitable.(9) Reproduction was to be limited to those deemed most fit. Mankind, when left to its own devices to develop its moral basis, commits systemized murder and oppression.
(9) Again, Mike confuses issues. Life can be asserted as valuable simply because sentient or conscious life is rare in the universe. After all, only the Earth is known to harbor it. Thus, a first secular ethical stance seeks to value life - not because a god says so, but because sentient life appears rare in the cosmos. Again, the Nazi state and its structure were founded on "positive Christian" principles and ideals. (See sources identified in (8)) The aim of developing an Aryan race was actually motivated by the desire to field a super-Christian, militant population that in future would never succumb to communism, or atheism. This theme and thread actually went back more than 500 years and was called the "People's Movement" or Volkische movement. By this movement Jews had been mistreated and abused for centuries, including during the infamous Passion Play at Oberammagau where Jews had been depicted for centuries as "Christ Killers".
Consider the atrocities of Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, and the horrible situations we have witnessed in Rwanda and Bosnia. Both atheists and "religious" people so easily justify murder. Just because we have also seen horrors committed by those claiming to believe in some sort of god doesn't disprove my point. I'm not advocating just any old god ! It is still true that when any society abandons the God-given law, You shall not murder, horror results. (10)(10)
(10) Of course, Mike conveniently leaves out all the murders committed in so called "just wars". Or, is he against war? If not, then he is hypocritical. Certain murders are okay with him, as along as they are against the right enemies! (Like Hitler sending his SA and SS to slaughter atheists and communists)
What of basing morality on one's personal preferences ? What of just saying you can know what is wrong by following your heart ? What a dippy idea this is ! Jeffrey Dahmer's heart led him to murder and cannibalize his fellow humans ! (11)Basing morality on feelings is the ultimate in irrationality. This puts moral judgement on the level of personal taste. Dahmer might have thought you suitable to his taste !
(11) Again, the Pastor lets his wild emotions take him over the cliff. Dahmer was diagnosed as having schizophrenia, as well psychosis. He often experienced violent headaches as well as hallucinations of demons chasing him. Dahmer is the perfect example of what former Franciscan priest Emmet Mcloughlin referred to in his essay 'Let the Statistics Tell Their Tragic Story' noting how religiously implanted threats (e.g. of Hell and Satan) and their reinforcement could trigger psychosis.
The point is that Dahmer was in no mental condition to "follow his heart" or his mind in making judicious moral decisions. So to set up Dahmer as a moral case or example is nothing short of idiotic.
I've met many atheists who are judgmental of "religious" people who have committed great atrocities, but upon what basis ? Does this make any sense ? Atheistic assumptions irresistibly lead to the conclusion that morality is nothing more than a matter of personal or societal preference. (12) Based upon an atheistic philosophy, the very appropriate disdain for the despicable murderers of humanity makes about as much sense as a dog lover's disdain of those who prefer cats ! How silly.
(12) Again, atheist morality is not based on personal preference at all, but on existing norms of self-interest and general welfare which require no overt god or religious intervention. In terms of said "baggage", what the religionists have done is to take the pragmatic and natural code of (humane) ethics most people follow and embellish it with a blizzard of superstitious precepts and injunctions. These are superstitious since, inevitably, they are linked to the supposed dictates of a supernatural "being" who will not hesitate to "punish" those who disobey "him".
Ethics without god then, is ethics elevated to its highest consistent standards without the need for baffling with bullshit.
A very good article for the basis of a godless morality:
Unless there is a moral standard beyond individual or societal preference, there is no logical basis for condemning atrocity. I challenge any atheist to give me a basis for ethics beyond mere personal preference, social custom, or survival. You simply cannot do it ! (13)
(13) Anyone can check out for themselves the above link, or Kai Neilsson's book, Ethics Without God to show how easily Mike is proven wrong.
Post-modern philosophers have come to the conclusion that there is no hope of finding morality or meaning based on materialistic presuppositions. They are quite right. It is a good thing that many atheists are too decent and too inconsistent to live out the irresistible moral conclusions of their philosophy !
Another thought: we even transgress the scruples we ourselves invent. Is this logical ? No, but this is consistent with the Biblical view of mankind, which says we are by our nature law-breakers and rebels who don't want to believe in the true God. (14a) Thank God there is an amnesty program for rebels and atheists ! (More on that later.)
Paul, wrote in Romans 1:18-22 , " For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousnes ; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, "
God's existence is clearly seen in what He has made. The intricate brilliance of the created order reveals the mind of an infinitely intelligent Designer just as surely as a great work of architecture or a complex piece of technology reveals the mind of its designer.(14b) Furthermore, our own consciences and sense of justice, though corrupted by our rebellion, still tell us there is right and wrong and a God who has a perfect moral standard.
(14a) The very notion of 'natural lawbreakers' is moronic and self-defeating, since by accepting it one essentially undermines and invalidates ALL standards of law, and the recongition of true moral behavior. It means, basically, we are already guilty just by virtue of being born into the world - and we haven't even emitted a first loud squall yet! What nonsense is this? Of course, Mike then ties it to unbelief, so that the natural lawbreaker can never escape his morass unless he professes belief somewhere along the line. The right and ability to question divine fiat, or what fundies like Mike take as such, is not to be questioned. This is ludicrous!
(14b) Mike imputes "design" but gives no evidentiary basis for it. Where? In the confines of the limited world we inhabit? The universe occupies more than this tiny world. The Earth is not even a microscopic part of the Milky Way galaxy, far less cosmos! At the large scale more than 73% of the universe is dark energy, and another 22% dark matter. Neither can be accessed for order. There is simply no major scope for "design" to emerge in the (mostly) dark cosmos. One cannot take one corner and look at it, and then say the whole cosmos is "designed". That is illogical. It is like me getting my wife to look at one corner of our kitchen floor and saying - "See, the floor's clean!' - when the other 99% is filthy.
The truth is, if you are an atheist, it is not because it makes sense, it is because you don't want to face up to the fact that there is a God out there to whom you are accountable. You don't like God and are trying to hide from Him.(15)
(15) Here Mike is interjecting his own emotions into what atheists think or feel. In fact, atheists feel neither positive or negative about God. No more than the Easter Bunny. People may claim both exist, but never show any evience beyond their same old tired rhetoric. Yawn.
But you don't have to feel this way . How do we know God exists ? Unless we begin with the assumption that he does, we can't know anything else exists ! Unless we presuppose that God created us with the ability to know things through sensory experience and reason, we have no philosophical basis for trusting either. Philosophically speaking, unless we know a wise God gave us our senses, how can we know everything isn't an illusion? (16)
(16) Distracting non sequitur. Since we can detect most aspects of reality without the use of our senses. Fortunately modern physics observations don't depend on human sense perceptions- but rather on highly refined inanimate detectors that have been put through rigorous QA checks, and cross-confirmations via independent experiments. Also, eigenvalues or whatever, can be used in sub-experiments to generate REAL outcomes. If the detector signals were spurious( or "unreal") or "illusions", in other words, no real outcomes (say a particular polarization of an electro-magnetic wave) would be possible.
For example, mathematically, we employ what are called 'Stokes parameters' to check on this. These are particularly important in a field like radio astronomy. If they were delusions or out of touch with reality - we'd not have the refined radio observation maps we do - say of the quasar, C-273.
In optical astronomy, ditto. No actual human eyes ever observe cosmic phenomena any more. We use spectro-photometers and special automated cameras (with computer controlled color-correcting filters) to obtain photographs of galaxies, planets, comets etc.
In like manner, if these optical mechanisms didn't work - neither would our celestial mechanics. But I can use the Keplerian equations, e.g. for the eccentric anomaly ( E = M + e sin (M) ) and others (radius vector, true anomaly etc.) to exactly determine the future position of any planet. Using such equations tonight I can know exactly where Jupiter will be (right ascension, declination) on Aug. 23, 2054.
Just as my celestial mechanics computations - which I did on May 1, 1970, showed where Venus would be exactly on June 30, 1985. (Less than 0.0000001 arcsec difference - most of that due to using a hand calculator rather than computer).
Hence, my point: arguing over sensory perceptions as influencing what we can know of reality is gibberish. Arguing that we may be basing data on illusions is even more off the beam. Once that (predicted) planet shows up in my telescope at exactly the position forecast to be, all bets of "influence" or "in your head" are off. Vamanos!
Perhaps the most airtight evidence that our perceptions aren't being perverted is in nuclear energy: fusion and fission. The A-bomb and H-bomb remain the best manifestations yet that Einstein's E = mc^2 wasn't merely a mental abstraction. It had unmistakable consequences in the real world - e.g. the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki- not open to interpretation! Bottom line: If Mike insists we can't be sure anything is an 'illusion', then we can't be sure Mike is also not just an illusion. And the noise and symbols appearing (apparently) from him may just as well be echoes from the ether.
As for reason, we can't prove the validity of reason without using reason ! We must assume what we are trying to prove in order to prove it. All human reasoning is circular (17) , but when we leave God out of the circle we are left like a dog chasing its tail without any hope of catching it ! Without beginning with the philosophical presupposition that a God who has spoken to mankind exists, we are doomed to reason in circles with no way of knowing how to discern truth.
(17) Actually, only Mike's reasoning is circular, as he shows here. But what can anyone expect when he attempts to posit Jeffrey Dahmer as a source of some self-styled morality of the "heart" or tries to connect the Nazis and their 3rd Reich to atheists when they were mostly Christian.
As for positive proof, there is the communication of God to mankind. Moses received the Law at Sinai. This was attested by great miracles witnessed by millions. The Hebrew prophets foretold the rise and fall of nations and spoke of the coming of a Messiah. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Bible ( Isaiah 53, Micah 5:1, Jeremiah 31:31-34 ) . His resurrection is historically documented, having been witnessed by the early Messianic Jewish believers who recorded their testimonies and were willing to die for what they knew to be true.(18)
(18) None of this is true. Mike plays with facts and history. John Dominic Crossan, Bart Ehrman (a former fundamentalist) in his book, 'Misquoting Jesus' as well as Hugh Schonfeld ('The Passover Plot') have all shown that the testimonies can't be trusted and there are other more natural explanations. As one put it (Schonfeld): "That a man presumed dead for three days could get up and walk from his grave shows he was never dead in the first place."
The logical violation committed here is ignotum per ignotius, or opting for the least well understood explanation over the less well understood one.
But remember , if you persist in your atheism, one day you will stand before God and you will have no doubt in your mind concerning His existence , " Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. " ( Philippians 2:9-11 ) . His awesome reality will be undeniable to you, even though you STILL won't want to believe it !
Frankly, atheism is boring, but knowing, enjoying, and serving God gives life purpose and excitement. I continue to pray you will one day find that out - before it's TOO LATE !!(19)As I mentioned in my last blog , ETERNITY IS A LONG TIME TO BE WRONG !! ( END OF MY E-MAIL ) :
(19) Amazing how much energy this guy consumes in writing his responses given he claims atheism is "boring". And....Ah yes, when all else fails to convince, trot out the threats. Believe now or else! You will burn! This gets old really fast, and you'd think bible punchers like my bro would come up with something better, but they never do. In the end this is all they have left in their kit bag: threats to beat us over the head with. All of which discloses their ultimate failure in the realm of reason. It is also a tacit recognition of the fraudulent nature of their arguments, and their transparency. Since, IF the arguments were truly cogent and convincing, they'd not have to resort to base threats of damnation.
The only one truly "boring" individual on this blog is Pastor Mike.