Friday, January 13, 2012

Two Interesting Arguments for God: Intelligibility & Desire

I wanted to share two simple arguments for God's existence that I don't see used very often :the argument from intelligibility, and the argument from desire.

I. The Argument from Intelligibility

The argument from intelligibility is one that Pope Benedict is largely responsible for.  Fr. Robert Barron explains the argument in Catholicism (pp. 67-68):
Pope Benedict XVI
In 1968 a young theology professor at the University of Tübingen formulated a neat argument for God's existence that owed a good deal to Thomas Aquinas but also drew on more contemporary sources.  The theologian's name was Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.  Ratzinger commences with the observation that finite being, as we experience it, is marked, through and through, by intelligibility, that it is to say, by a formal structure that makes it understandable to an inquiring mind.  
In point of fact, all of the sciences - physics, chemistry, psychology, astronomy, biology, and so forth - rest on the assumption that at all levels, microscopic and macroscopic, being can be known.  The same principle was acknowledged in ancient times by Pythagoras, who said that all existing things correspond in numeric value, and in medieval times by the scholastic philsophers who forumlated the dictum omne ens est scibile (all being in knowable). 
Ratzinger argues that the only finally satisfying explanaiton for this universal objective intelligibility is a great Intelligence who has thought the universe into being.  Our language provides an intriguing clue in this regard, for we speak of our acks of knowledge as moments of “recognition,” literally a re-cognition, a thinking again what has already been thought.  Ratzinger cites Einstein in support of this connection: in the laws of nature, a mind so superior is revealed that in comparison, our minds are as something worthless. The prologue to the Gospel of John states, In the beginning was the Word, and specifies that all things came to be through this divine Logos, implying thereby that the being of the universe is not dumbly there, but rather intelligently there, imbued by a creative mind with intelligible structure.
In other words, all science points to God, since all science requires intelligibility, which in turn, requires an Intelligent Creator.

Einstein
Much time and energy is wasted on the Intelligent Design debate over things like irreducible complexity, that the more fundamental questions aren't being asked.  Whether the universe was a good idea or a bad idea, a holy plan or an evil plan, it's still  an idea, and a plan.  This necessarily requires a Thinker and a Planner.  Consider the stability of math, of the universal constants, of the fundamental interactions.  Two plus two doesn't suddenly equal five, but there's no natural explanation for why these things remain stable (in fact, since these are immaterial truths, materialism can't even approach them).  Yet if two plus two generated a random result, we could never have math or science, never develop any technology, and all existence would be a series of random and inexplicable events that our brains would be incapable of processing.

By the way, while Benedict developed this argument, we see variations of it being made back in the early days of the 300s, when St. Athanasius argued that “if the movement of creation were irrational, and the universe were borne along without plan, a man might fairly disbelieve what we say. But if it subsist in reason and wisdom and skill, and is perfectly ordered throughout, it follows that He that is over it and has ordered it is none other than the [reason or] Word of God.”  So the argument has a pretty solid pedigree, such as it is.

II. The Argument from Desire

C.S. Lewis (in his second appearance on the blog this week) describes the argument from hunger this way, in Mere Christianity (pp. 136-37):
The Christian says ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim:: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.  If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.  Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.  If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a copy, or echo, or mirage.  I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.’
This argument is self-explanatory, but let me answer two objections.

Juan de Juanes,
Jesus with the Eucharist (mid-16th c.)
First, the hunger for God may be stronger or weaker for certain people than others.  That's quite natural.  Some people have larger appetites than others, some people are seemingly uninterested (or conversely, obsessed) with sex, etc.  But some degree of a hunger for God exists in every human soul.

Second, while our desires correspond to realities, but they can be corrupted and perverted.  Gluttony is a perversion of our natural desire for food, lust is a perversion of our natural desire for sex, and so on.  But standing back, we can see why hunger (and gluttony) exist, and why sexual desires (and lust) exist.  These are desires that are ordered towards the attainment of specific goals.  So even if the hunger for God gets perverted in some way, this doesn't deny the reality that God exists, and that we long for Him.


Finally, with our desire for God, the appropriate question ought to be: could anything less than God possibly satisfy this hunger?  We try to appease that hunger for God by substituting earthly pleasures: wealth, honor, power, and sensible pleasures (everything from sex to overeating).  But that's like drinking a lot of water when you're hungry for food.  It might fill the void for a while, but it doesn't really satisfy the craving.  Our souls are made with an aching hunger for God.

64 comments:

  1. Glossing on this:

    There's another nice Argument from intelligibility in Haldane's (brilliant) argument in Atheism & Theism. What's interesting, and a little different from your argument, is that he looks at the intelligibility of the physical world in light of quantum mechanics. As you know, Quantum Mechanics argues that the smallest bits of matter don't necessarily follow the laws of physics but act in a more-or-less random manner. But there is such a large number of these actions that the result is that they follow the laws of physics. But why? Why don't they act in a truly random manner (which would make it impossible for the physical sciences to say anything)? They seem directed towards an end (the end being the laws of physics), which is just another word for a final cause. And that gives us another argument for God.

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  2. My favorite is Anselm:

    (paraphrased)

    God is by definition the greatest thing the mind can conceive.

    God exits in the mind (skeptic says a figment of the imagination).

    For things that are good, it is better they exist in reality than in the mind alone.

    If God didn't exist, I could conceive of a God that did exist. I could conceive of something greater than the greatest possible thing conceivable.

    This is a contradiction, therefore God exists.

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  3. I've always found the Kalam argument powerful.
    Everything that begins has a cause.
    The universe has a beginning.
    The universe thus has a cause.
    This cause is what men call God.

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  4. My favorite two proofs of God:
    1 Entropy - a law of physics which essentially states that all matter is becoming more lukewarm throughout time. Must have started sometime.
    2 Love, justice and mercy - do not belong to the physical realm, so they belong in another realm from which a cause can be identified, God.

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  5. The intelligibility argument is very compelling. I think there's something there, but I'm not sure what it is.

    The argument from desire is, for me, not as impressive, but it seems everyone has their own favorite "existence-of-God" arguments.

    The argument I keep going back to, over and over, is the Pascal's Wager argument.

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  7. Thank God for Pope Benedict XVI, he is such an awesome man. The intelligibility argument does indeed have a lot of merit.
    However, if I may mention something someone wrote earlier regarding quantum mechanics and the laws of physics.

    It appears that the laws of physics being referred to are the classical laws of physics. In my understanding these laws describe everyday occurrences such as an apple falling to the ground or the turning on of a light. As far as I understand, these laws describe how things interact when the size of the objects interacting are 1 millionth of a meter or greater and the energies involved are roughly the energy of visible light. I am not sure what that energy is though, but energy sources encountered in everyday life involve energies of 1 unit of energy or more. The classical laws of physics give the impression that we can predict what will at happen at a future time if we know the physical information of a system at the present time.

    As far as I understand, quantum mechanics deals with particle interactions energies that are really small (10^-19 units of energy - 0.00000000000000000001 units of energy, and at distances that are about 1 billionth of a metre or smaller. Quantum mechanics gives a probabilistic picture of the world because it appears that not all the information of a physical system is known at a particular time and hence we can only know which outcomes have a more favourable chance of occurring.

    As mentioned in the previous post the laws of classical physics seem to come out of quantum physics. This happens because there are so many
    atoms involved that the most favorable outcome is
    the average result, which is the everday laws of physics.

    I think it is confusing to say that there is a difference between the laws of physics and quantum physics.
    Nature has her laws and we find out what they are over time. The laws of physics applies to all areas.
    We find out what they are by experiment. No one area of physics contradicts another, it is just that we do not understand how nature works completely yet.
    In fact different areas of physics are in agreement under certain conditions, e.g. Newton's laws of gravity and Einstein's theory of general relativity agree under certain conditions.

    Indeed nature does point us toward God.

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  8. Argument 1:

    I find this argument very hard to understand, I'd need to see a more structured version I think. For instance, what is objective intelligibility? And why does a thing being intelligible imply it had a cause which was intelligent?

    Argument 2:

    There seems to be numerous counter-examples to this. For example, my little sister's desire to have a unicorn.

    It seems more plausible to me to say we're only able to desire something we're aware of. We can be aware of something via our imagination, or memory, or perception etc. This explains how we're able to desire fictional things.

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  9. Stevo,

    Argument 1:

    If you get ready to write something in Word, but get up to get a drink, and return to find something written, you can tell immediately whether it was the cat walking across the keyboard, or the product of human intelligence. If it's the former, you'll see something unstructured, random, and meaningless. But if it's something intelligible, you can know that it is the product of an intelligence.

    That analogy isn't perfect. Here, we're more interested in the fact that the universe (a) plays a number of immutable rules, and (b) that these rules are absolutely necessary for the universe to have any meaning. By "meaning," I don't just mean moral worth; I mean for the universe to be something we can comprehend at all. Otherwise, all existence would be a series of chaotic and meaningless events, like reading what your cat "wrote" in walking across the keyboard.


    Argument 2:

    I think this response is answered if you substitute "desire" for "hunger," which is really what we're talking about. The desire to own a unicorn is pretty distinct from the innate human hunger for food, companionship, sex ... and God.

    In other words, God isn't just Someone we can imagine (like a unicorn, or the ability to fly). He's Someone we have a primordial longing for. Even people who don't have much of an imagination, or who don't spend a lot of time dwelling on religion experience some form of hunger for God. (This is, I think, the best explanation for the New Atheists' obsession with God).

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  10. Sir you have presented the 2 arguments with an uncompromising simplicity:)

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  11. @Stevo re: Argument 2

    I blame the King James Version. See Job 39:10

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  12. I should have known that there wouldn't be any logical appeals for such an argument. Instead of demonstrating these simplistic emotional appeals, Mr. Heschmeyer, I would greatly enjoy an ethical appeal by you. It would be a wonderful treat...:)

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  13. Mr. Patton,

    What? What are you suggesting is lacking any logical appeal? Where did I make an "emotional appeal"? And what do you mean by an ethical appeal?

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  14. Written by Joe Heschmeyer:

    "What? What are you suggesting is lacking any logical appeal? Where did I make an "emotional appeal"? And what do you mean by an ethical appeal?"

    :D I am not going to debate what isn't but what is. An ethical appeal is an argument based on the credibility of the writer, which I would love to read. An emotional appeal is an argument that is meant to arouse the audience's emotions, like sympathy, patriotism, or other feelings based on values, beliefs and motives.

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  15. Joe, Mr. Patton is obviously ignoring the reality that the strongest arguments consist of a balance of all 3 appeals, logical, emotional and ethical, which, your article contains but, Mr. Patton's post is severely lacking. :-)

    I've often found in abortion debates, that those Pro-choicers who cry foul because of emotional appeal, are usually the ones who have the least ability to grasp a solid logical appeal.

    Peace

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  16. Mr. Patton, was my ontological argument insufficient? On what grounds?

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  17. I don't find that the argument from intelligibility is really a logical argument, in the sense that it has a well defined set of premises, a well defined conclusion, and that if the premises are true the conclusion must be true.

    It seems more like an argument from intuition. Sort of the argument that Dirac used for anti-particles. The equation for relativistic quantum mechanics would be ugly if there weren't anti-particles, so there must be.

    Getting God from intelligibility is an intuitive leap, one which, all things considered, I am very drawn to make.

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  18. To be fair, I don't find the logic arguments for God's existence (the cosmological and ontological arguments, specifically) to be that convincing, even if they are valid and if the premises are sound.

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  19. Christopher wrote: "Mr. Patton is obviously ignoring the reality that the strongest arguments consist of a balance of all 3 appeals, logical, emotional and ethical, which, your article contains but, Mr. Patton's post is severely lacking. :-)"

    The core of any God argument is faith, which isn't even a weak argument. Your appeals will become quite empty if you are trying to substantiate faith as fact. There must come a time when you must ask yourself why your faith isn't enough and why do you need a hollow argument to support that faith. Faith isn't a fact nor can it be substantiated by facts or logical arguments because then it wouldn't be faith. It just demonstrates one's own lack of faith and irrationality by using such methods.

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  20. Science itself is built upon faith as well. Many, many scientific truths (ex. Gravity) can't be proven with 100% certainty. Man wants science but ignores the faith behind the science. Man wants to be his own God.

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  21. I agree with Paul Rimmer that the first argument isn't really formal. I can't syllogize it, so I'm guess it's more of just an intuition (and that's not to belittle intuition!). Unfortunately, I don't have that intuition.

    As to the second argument, it was stated that 'desire' is more of 'innate hunger.' To me, this just weakens the argument further though since it seems even less plausible to me that we desire God by our very natures.

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  22. @Robert Ritchie

    That is a weak argument, beginning with the statement, "As you know, Quantum Mechanics argues that the smallest bits of matter don't necessarily follow the laws of physics...." Quantum mechanics is a part of the laws of physics; particles like electrons, protons, and photons that are manifestly quantum mechanical very much do obey the laws of physics. What you apparently mean is that they do not obey the deterministic, Newtonian laws of classical physics. That is not so much an argument for the existence of God as an argument that Newtonian physics is only an approximation of the truth. Quantum mechanics does make quantitative predictions about the statistical behavior of particles, and these predictions are confirmed by experiment and observation.

    It really is best to leave the argument at the level of saying, "Physics works, so the universe is intelligible" rather than get caught up with the differences between specific theories within physics.

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  23. I think that the argument from intelligibility is closely related to the argument from beauty.

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  24. @cwdlaw223

    So do you really think that science requires a theological virtue? Or are you just parroting what you've heard someone else say?

    (I'm guessing the latter.)

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  26. Howard -

    I believe that "science" is evidence of a created universe. Your mind and soul scream for order in this world and yet if you take away a creator you're left with randomness. People might not like the weight of the evidence that science is evidence of a creator, but the evidence is there. Dawkins tries to refut this argument by showing how random this world is but he keeps using order instead of chaos to present his rebuttal.

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  27. cwdlaw223 wrote: "I believe that "science" is evidence of a created universe."

    I have never seen one belief in the methods used by science. Could you demonstrate one belief that is employed in science that correlates to your evidence of a created universe?

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  28. Mr. Patton,

    A simple analogy might help. If I happened across a computer on a deserted island, it would be reasonable to posit an intelligent mind, by necessity, created said computer. If we were on this island together and you proposed the computer was randomly assembled by elemental forces over a lengthy period of time, the burden of proof would remain with you, not me. So it is with the intelligibility argument. I'm sure we would all love to see your reasoned, and purely logical, argument AGAINST the existence of God.

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  29. Mr Patton,

    Your point that "the core of any God argument is faith" is simply, factually wrong. The Kalam argument (see my post above) is purely logical and requires no faith, just simple deductive reason. I can think of several others that require, literally, zero faith.

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  30. cwdlaw223 wrote: "Logic itself."

    There are three logical laws the govern matter and energy that contradict, your logic...:D The Law of Conservation of Matter is a wonderful logical argument that is against the creation or destruction of matter...LOL...You should check it out...:)

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  31. Aren't you using logic to try to disprove logic itself?

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  32. Nathan -

    I'm a believer, but the first cause argument will get thrown back at your like Bertrand Russell tried to do. However, the law of cause effect states that every effect has a cause. Not every cause has an effect. Thus, you still can argue a first cause exists (God) without violating this law.

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  33. cwdlaw223 wrote: "Aren't you using logic to try to disprove logic itself?"

    :D No, I used three logical scientific laws to demonstrate your fallacious "created universe" claim.

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  34. Mr. Patton -

    You asked for one belief that is employed in science that correlates to my belief in a created universe.

    The belief in logic is employed in science and exists apart from science. Logic itself shows order just as your mind and heart scream for order in your own life. You obviously attempted to use some form of order in your response and yet without a created universe you're left with randomness and chaos and you could't respond.

    The fact that "laws" exist is evidence of design, not randomness. You would need to have a world like this: jjmngviiim ytttyy lllju.

    Just random letters that make no sense. You haven't taken your own beliefs far enough to their logical conclusion.

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  35. cwdlaw223 wrote: "You haven't taken your own beliefs far enough to their logical conclusion."

    Such an impertinent response so early in this conversation, how promising! I left my imaginary friends early in my childhood but you are to be commended...:)

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  36. for regular reflections on the writings of the Holy Father before and after he became pope see, http://frdenis.blogspot.com/

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  37. It's unfortunate Mr. Patton that instead of adding substance to your argument, in an attempt to persuade us that these arguments for the existence of God don't make any sense, and therefore, fail, you have resorted to the only argument that always fails, argumentum ad hominem which, only works to highlight the emptiness of your criticisms, IN BIG BOLD LETTERS.

    Your other mistake is to assume that I or any Christians “need” these arguments for the existence of God to substantiate our faith in God. Faith is a gift from God and without that particular grace, no argument for the existence of God will be comprehended, of which your apparent lack of faith has evidenced. It's only when one begins to use their intellect instead of worshiping it, that God is able to open our eyes to be able to see what's been there all along. As St. Augustine said in the early 5th century, “I believe that I may understand.” But, even if a person did use these arguments to bolster their faith, that absolutely would not invalidate their faith since, not everyone is given the same level of faith.

    "The core of any God argument is faith, which isn't even a weak argument."

    No, the core of “belief in God” is faith. The core of the arguments for the existence of God are based in philosophy and can be substantiated by science. The reality is, that God has provided physical proofs of his existence precisely so that we can know Him. Romans 1:20 says that “Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” God ordered His creation precisely so that we could detect Him, so that we may know Him. Which, leads back to the argument from intelligibility. So, as you can see, it's your criticisms that have become empty.

    "Faith isn't a fact nor can it be substantiated by facts or logical arguments because then it wouldn't be faith."

    Now you are really starting to show the ignorance and irrationality of your argument. As cwdlaw223 pointed out, science and in particular, the scientific method is built upon faith which, is in turn substantiated by facts. Even more simply, I have faith, that is a fact and any arguments for the existence of God, can most definitely substantiate my faith although, my faith is not reliant upon them. My faith relies on the fact that I've had, for lack of a better term, an encounter with Jesus Christ. Something that, unfortunately, won't mean anything to those who have not had a similar encounter. But I can tell you that God promises that if you seek for Him, He will make Himself known to you. All it takes is an act of humility!

    As another person has commented, the burden of proof is on you to explain exactly how these arguments fail so, your choice is either to do just that or, continue insulting us.
    Peace

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  38. Christopher wrote: " Now you are really starting to show the ignorance and irrationality of your argument. As cwdlaw223 pointed out, science and in particular, the scientific method is built upon faith"

    It is a tell tell sign when the accuser is guilty of their own accusations. Any good Catholic parochial school would have taught you the scientific method correctly like it was done for me. You want to point to science yet you quote Saul. I find your statements more unlearned than ignorant, I hope...

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  39. Mr. Patton -

    Well then, does the scientific method just exists like we do with God? Sounds like you're a man of faith just like us, except, you have faith in randomness we put faith in order and a law giver.

    The end result of athetism/agnosticism is that man can do whatever he wants because there is no meaning to life outside of yourself. However, your heart tells you that rape, murder, theft are all wrong. Why would it tell you that if there wasn't a creator?

    I'll gladly take the burden of proof to assert the positive. The problem isn't the lack of proof to prove the existence of God, it's the unwillingness to except what proof we've been given. I'm sure if God came down to some and told them he was real that those same people would claim it was just special effects. When Sarte was on his deathbed having seconds thoughts about his own atheism his friends claimed he was going mad.

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  40. "It is a tell tell sign when the accuser is guilty of their own accusations."

    The difference is that I haven't insulted you, I've just called into question the validity of anything you've said so far based solely on what you've said. I'm attacking your argument, not you personally. Unfortunately, now you've resorted to deflecting, instead of taking up the challenge show what you perceive to be the weakness in the arguments for the existence of God.

    As I said previously, you can either take up this challenge or, continue to insult. I very much hope you will take up the challenge but, I'm guessing, that you will either choose the latter or disappear.

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  41. Correction, I'm attacking your lack of argument.

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  42. Christopher stated earlier in the conversation that Christian theists don't need arguments to substantiate their faith in God.

    I'd like suggest that likewise, atheists such as myself don't need argument to substantiate their belief that no God exists. That is, I think atheism is a properly basic *response* for some folks to things like suffering and evil, or reasonable non-belief etc.

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  43. Stevo -

    How can there be such a thing as evil in your world since there is no moral law giver? You can't determine what is evil without understanding what is good. You can't understand either without a moral law giver or else your definition of good/evil is at the whims of ones feelings and imaginations. I suspect some people truly enjoy theft (ex. Washington DC) and think there's nothing wrong with it. Most of us believe that theft is evil.

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  44. cwdlaw223 wrote: "The problem isn't the lack of proof to prove the existence of God,"

    If we are discussing the scientific method and logical proofs then God's existence is a hurdle that hasn't ever been transversed.

    When it comes to my faith, I believe that the moon is populated by little green men who can read our minds and will hide whenever anyone on Earth looks for them, and will flee into deep space whenever a spacecraft comes near is as equally defendable using the "logic" and methods presented in the blog...:)

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  45. Christopher wrote: "Correction, I'm attacking your lack of argument."

    I find this statement as amusing as the rest of your post. You have used a premise in your argument that is fallacious concerning the scientific method that has invalidated your argument. Until you learn what the scientific method is your replies are still unlearned at best.

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  46. Mr. Patton -

    Transversed according to whom? Billions of believers in God, very few atheists relatively speaking.

    The scientific method itself rests upon faith that it will work. Can it prove itself? If your logic leads you to such a belief there isn't much more that any of us can do to help you. Many atheists like the spors theory as well. Takes a lot of faith to be an atheist if you ask me.

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  47. Stevo,

    Given Christopher's actual argument, I don't see a way to adopt an atheist parallel to that argument. After all, you're surely not suggesting atheists have the theological "gift" of doubt, but that's what the parallel would be.

    After that, you suggest that atheists such as yourself "don't need argument to substantiate their belief that no God exists," since "atheism is a properly basic *response* for some folks to things like suffering and evil, or reasonable non-belief etc."

    Suffering: I could get into how suffering here below is compatible with the existence of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God, but for now, let's just look at your actual claim.

    You're claiming that because suffering exists, we can assume, without any need for argumentation, that no God exists. Let's test this hypothesis.

    1. The Phoenicians believed in an evil and bloodthirsty god named Moloch who demanded the Phoenicians sacrifice their own children to him.
    2. Suffering exists.
    3. Therefore, Moloch can't exist.

    Does that appear to be a coherent argument to you? Because if not, you don't have an argument for atheism. At most, you have an argument against Christianity, and there's a world of difference between those two things (as any Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians, etc. can tell you). And even as an argument against Christianity, it's got a world of solid responses, such that an unthinking "therefore, no arguments are needed" appears foolish.

    Evil: As Christopher points out, evil is a moral term that requires the existence of objective good (otherwise, you're just complaining that things exist that you don't like: who cares?). So for the argument from evil to work, you have to acknowledge objective good. This, in turn, requires recognition of God's existence. And not just any God, but a Good who is the source and summit of all that is good. So it's not an argument for Moloch you've pointed to, but an argument for the Trinity. (I can expand this point if need be).

    Reasonable Non-belief: You'll have to fill me in on what you mean here. It sounds like you're saying that you don't need reasons for atheism because atheism is reasonable. That's not what you're trying to say, is it?

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  48. cwdlaw: Arguments for moral realism rarely makes reference (if ever?) to theism/atheism. So, I see no problem in an atheist believing in evil.

    However, the atheist needn't believe in evil. Suffering and other things believed to be improbable on theism would have the same effect.

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  49. Thanks for the reply Joe:

    I didn't intend to draw a parallel to Chris' case. Christopher's 'non-evidentially based faith' is known as a basic belief in foundationalist epistemology. I was merely saying that the atheism can be basic just as theism can.

    Your arguments re suffering and evil may very well succeed. But, this wouldn't effect whether atheism can be a properly basic response. This is because basic beliefs aren't evidentially based, so in order for it to be basic these considerations couldn't have effect the belief's formation.

    You could say the same about objections to religious experience: they may very well succeed, but they wouldn't change a belief's status as basic.

    Suffering: I wouldn't say it's incompatible with theism, just improbable.

    Moloch doesn't fit the description of 'theism' that I would be arguing against. I have in mind classical theism, a core-belief of Christian theism. I would add 'perfect love' to the classical theistic God's properties though. (Like Schellenberg et al)

    Evil: I don't see how objective good and evil require God. Most philosophers are moral realists, but only about 15% are theists. I've never seen an argument for moral realism employ theistic premises. (Moral realism says our moral judgments are truth-apt, and at least some of them are true)

    Reasonable Non-belief: Reasonable non-belief is a.k.a. inculpable doubt:

    “S is inculpably in doubt about the truth of G if (1) S believes that epistemic parity obtains between G and not-G, and (2) S has not knowingly (self-deceptively or non-self-deceptively) neglected to submit this belief to adequate investigation.” - Schellenberg, John L. Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason: With a New Preface. Ithaca (N.Y.): Cornell UP, 2006., p. 64.

    Basically, the Divine Hiddenness Argument says if God exists, that kind of doubt wouldn't. Since it does, God doesn't exist.

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  50. Stevo -

    Upon what standard would you determine what is good and evil?

    Next question, where did that standard come from? Genes?? Spores?? Neither of those answers seems likely or probably compared to a moral law giver such as God.

    The secular humanists are quick to point out evil yet they fail to explain how they can claim something is good or evil or where such standards came from.

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  51. cwdlaw223 wrote: "Transversed according to whom? Billions of believers in God, very few atheists relatively speaking.

    The scientific method itself rests upon faith that it will work. Can it prove itself? If your logic leads you to such a belief there isn't much more that any of us can do to help you. Many atheists like the spors theory as well. Takes a lot of faith to be an atheist if you ask me."

    LOL... To ask your first question you had to ignore the qualifiers that I spelled out concerning the scientific method and logic.

    The second question you pose is only relevant if and only if the scientific method employs faith, in which it does not. The only thing required for faith is the ignorance of the facts. Once facts are brought to the forefront it is no longer faith, just religion...:)

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  52. cwdlaw: I take objective morality to mean something like this:

    'Those things which have moral values as properties, have them independently of moral agents.'

    I say moral agents instead of 'humans' because we don't want to say good and evil are relative to some non-human moral agent like an extra-terrestrial, angel or demon. But, God is a moral agent. So, if morality is objective, it'd be objective regardless of whether God exists. So, I don't see the point of mentioning God in defending the objectivity of morality.

    As far as by what standard I discern what moral value something has, I don't have an articulate answer. I can tell you *how* I do it, but now *why*. Although, recall I'm not making an argument from evil.

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  53. Stevo -

    What is the basis for your position that humans have moral values apart from moral agents?

    Evil is real and not an intellectual exercise in our heads. I have yet to meet someone who claims that evil doesn't exist when it happens to them. Under your construct it appears that good and evil just exist.

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  54. Mr. Patton -

    What exactly are your qualifiers and your definition of the scientific method? Can't seem to find them in this post.

    Furthermore, what's your defintion of "faith" that you claim the scientific method is not built upon?

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  55. I don't have enough clean spoons for you, cwdlaw223. I will be generous though and provide you with a couple of web addresses.

    Now for something totally different...

    http://physics.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node5.html

    http://physics.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node6.html

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  56. Mr. Patton -

    You confirmed my lack of findings in this thread. Hard to debate a topic when the words change meaning or posts don't happen.

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  57. BTW - The scientific method is built upon assumptions/faith in intelligence, math and language. Where did intelligence, math and language come from? Random happenings in the universe or part of design from a creator? I'll take my changes on design from a creator.

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  58. cwdlaw223 wrote: "BTW - The scientific method is built upon assumptions/faith in intelligence, math and language. Where did intelligence, math and language come from? Random happenings in the universe or part of design from a creator? I'll take my changes on design from a creator."

    Why do you continue to tell me what the scientific method isn't? Take your chances on intelligent design, have faith. Just don't call it fact, logic or science.

    Also, it is difficult to have a discussion when a poster needs another to define the words so that they may understand the material under discussion. It rapidly becomes a lecture in which I care little for...:)

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  59. The devil is always in the details and defintions.

    I didn't say anything what the method isn't, just that you need faith to believe in that which makes up the method. The whole concept of gravity is built upon faith in an unknown force that we believe exists to make our own experience intelligible.

    The scientific method can't prove itself and is built upon things which can't be proven with such scientific precision that you want.

    You still have faith whether you like it or not. You just have faith in something that was created and not in the creator.

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  60. cwdlaw223 wrote: " The whole concept of gravity is built upon faith in an unknown force that we believe exists to make our own experience intelligible."

    You should stick with subject material that you actually understand.

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  61. Maybe this article will help you understand fact and theory:
    http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p67.htm

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  62. Such faith in science and yet science can't even explain such a simple thing as love.

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  63. While there's much I like about Ratzinger's argument from intelligibility, I have to take issue with some of the fundamental assumptions on which it is based. Ironically, these are assumptions that many in the scientific community would have granted Ratzinger. I’m referring to the notion that science “discovers” things out there in the world (and intelligibility along with them). It comes down to a philosophy of science and what we take science to be. To many, both within and outside of the scientific community, science seems to be in the business of discovering: natural phenomena, their correlations and so forth. Since part of sciences is to make these things intelligible it becomes very easy to think that that intelligibility itself was among the things discovered. All the structures and order that we supposedly discover in the universe, however, may be nothing more than our own projections. It may be the case that science is not a process of discovering the world as much as it is a process of pragmatically navigating the world. The laws and constants, causes and effects, necessities and relations, and all other metaphysical notions that science invokes in its explanations may or may not exist. Like all metaphysical notions, there is simply no way of verifying their existence, we have no epistemic bridge to their reality; rather they are pragmatically employed as kinds of conceptual stopgaps. We don’t know how to make the world intelligible without them and we don’t fare as well in a world utterly unintelligible to us, so it behooves us more often than not to proceed as though (pragmatism) it were intelligible i.e. as though the universe had structure, order, continuity, etc. Regardless of what behooves us, there remains no means of verifying that any of these notions refer to how the universe actually is. At end, these notions say more about us than the world (“physical” or otherwise) we find ourselves in.

    Here’s where Ratzinger’s argument loses some of its punch for me. Framing science as “Going out to meet a world imbued with intelligibility” may not in fact be what the scientific process is all about, there is certainly no way to verify that that is what it is doing or has done.

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