The Great Explanation – Atheist Style (Part 2 . 2)

Because of the inordinate length of this reply to an atheist who blogs as Dormant Dragon, it has been divided into parts.  If you want the context please make sure you read part 1 and part 2.1 before reading this.  I have made this reply far longer than I intended it to be, and that means I shall require one more installment (Part 2.3).  For this I again apologize to those wanting a quick read.

4. No Small Failure

We have seen so far that the atheist take on reality and experience does not acquit itself at all well when a little pressure is applied in the realms of natural laws, logic, or ethical mores.  As a matter of fact it reduces them either to banality or absurdity. This is no small failure! Any world-picture which trips over itself in explaining such crucial fields of experience ought to be consigned to the intellectual dustbin. Contrariwise, the biblical worldview (BW) does supply us with solid reasons for believing in the uniformity of nature and laws of science, and its moral teaching is far in advance of the nebulous moral conventionalism of the best atheists. It is no coincidence that the rise of the sciences corresponded with the rediscovery of the BW at the time of the Reformation: it is well known that practically all the founders of modern science (Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Boyle, Newton, Ray, Linnaeus, Lavoisier, Faraday, Pasteur, Maxwell, Kelvin, etc.) were strongly influenced by the BW. Commentators ranging from A. N. Whitehead to Mary Hesse have testified to this historical fact.

Likewise, as David Aikman shows in The Delusion of Disbelief, the Founding Fathers of the United States, whether they were Theistic or Deistic, all to a man believed that human freedoms could only be insured against what Nietzsche would call “the will to power” by the inculcation of religious, specifically biblical morality. Atheism by contrast, wherever it has gained power, has always violently curtailed individual and social freedoms just because it has no system of normative morality to hold itself up to (this is one of the areas where biblical Christianity must be differentiated from Roman Catholicism).

The starting-point for atheism is (supposedly) “reason” – but their “reason” has its source in the unreason of matter and energy. The forces of matter and energy are non-rational.  If a person really believed that all there is to make the wonders in the world is mass/energy they would have no expectation, let alone any justification, to believe in laws of nature, uniformity in nature, the reliability of their brainwaves to correspond to the extended world outside their brain; nor laws of logic, nor moral norms of anything but a descriptive psychological sort.  I have both expectation and justification because the BW gives me every reason to believe just the opposite to DD.

If I were committed to evolution (as I once was), I might not like some of its attendant dogmas, but that by itself would not make it untrue.  Or if I were a Hindu, I might not enjoy the thought that I was on the perpetual wheel of karma. But again, not liking something does not make it false.  DD sometimes (though not as much as some of her fellow atheists) mixes her personal feelings about God – whom she cannot bring herself to use the correct capitalization on – with the BW.  Feelings have nothing to do with matters of truth.  The reason I reject non-Christian worldviews is not because I don’t like them, but because they make nonsense of my experience, while the BW supplies the preconditions for it.

For instance, in his book Redeeming Science (20), the Christian scholar Vern Poythress writes:

Rationality is a sine qua non for scientific law.  But, as we know, rationality belongs to persons, not to rocks, trees, and subpersonal creatures.  If the law is rational, which scientists assume it is, then it is also personal.

He says the same thing about language.  Language presupposes rationality and personality. The alternatives proffered by evolutionary theorists not only contradict our everyday experience (all languages we know about presuppose rationality and personality), they are positively comic-bookish; comparable in their patent absurdity to the dream that flaps of skin turned into feathers as critters launched themselves off branches in continual ludicrously ill-fated proto-flights.

But enough of that for now; we need to give a quote from DD.

…Christianity starts to resemble the vulgar mystery-cult clone that it is when you don’t spend all your time trying to pretty it up with fancy explanations – like yours for the trinity – that might look good on paper and roll easily from the tongue, but don’t make any sense in relation to the real world.

There is not much weighing of the evidence going on here!  I have already referred readers to John Oswalt’s study, The Bible Among The Myths, which gives short shrift to these silly mystery-cult claims.  Those that make them show thereby that they have not looked too carefully into it.  It is one thing to say “I don’t like that…” in the same way one doesn’t like butter on sandwiches.  It is another to say “I don’t like that” and then give erroneous reasons for ones dislike.

The doctrine of the Trinity is not, of course, illogical.  What-is-more, it accounts for the one-and-many problem; the problem of relating individual instances of things to their universals (concepts).  This problem has stymied philosophers from before the time of Plato.  John Frame says,

The Trinity shows us, at least in very general terms, how ultimate unity and diversity can be reconciled…if they are seen not as abstract qualities, but as qualities of a [P]erson. – Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought, 76.

The English theologian Colin Gunton did some penetrating work centering on the Trinity; work that cannot be dismissed with a wave of the infidel hand. He again took pains to stress the personal dimension. So there is much to be said for the explanatory value of the doctrine of the Trinity, nevermind its theological importance or its uniqueness when contrasted with the world’s religions.

5. The Preconditions of Our Understanding

Presuppositional Apologetics (PA) asserts that unless the God of Scripture is presupposed it is not possible to make sense of anything.  DD wants to ground her understanding in experience, but she has not realized that her atheistic pantheist outlook makes nonsense of experience. DD and others will of course say that they do make sense of many things. Conspicuously absent from her web of belief has been a coherent connection between the inert properties she begins with and the conscious rational percepts she is using to argue for her starting point. Indeed, there is no connection possible within her scheme of things. By contrast when one begins with an Absolute Personal Creator as depicted in the Bible the connections are only to be expected. What this amounts to is that the atheist worldview predicates our experience on things which could never explain that experience. Like trying to explain Michelangelo’s intensely moving Rondanini Pieta by pointing at the ground: there is no causal connection at all!

Throughout this correspondence DD has denied our assertions, and she has accompanied these denials with her belief that the universe has the principles of its own order within itself.  She has lobbied for the necessity of a theory of knowledge based upon experience.  With respect, I believe there is some cognitive dissonance going on.  Has she ever relied on the properties of nature to mix her cooking ingredients or type out her objections to God?  Truly she could stand there a billion years and it would never happen.    For starters, the law of entropy would put paid to her expectations.  Things don’t go from disorder to order, but from order to disorder. That is our collective experience!

It might be said that the second law of thermodynamics applies to closed systems, and our earth, with its constant supply of heat energy from the Sun, is an open system.  I’ll run with that.  So DD takes her ingredients outside and waits for the Sun to mix them – what will happen?  The energy is there, but it is not purposefully directed energy!  So the recipe remains unmixed – and then the law of entropy still takes over!

So let’s compare her assertions of “experience” and then ask whether she or anyone else has ever experienced them occurring.  We do this while remembering the bottom line beliefs she has at her disposal.

She avers,

In fact, it is my belief that energy is the fundamental ‘stuff’ of the universe – matter is energy in a different form. We don’t yet know all the possible properties and capabilities of different arrangements of matter and energy, but this is a prompt for further inquiry, not a reason to declare certain things impossible just because we have yet to fully understand them.

Notice a number of important things in this quote:

First, note the admission of ignorance regarding “all the possible properties and capabilities of different arrangements of matter and energy.” Due to our finitude humankind does not know everything. In fact, as Einstein often reminded scientists in his day, we know very little of the mysteries of the cosmos and are like little children in a large library filled with books in strange languages. We need to be humble. But when we then ask “what, then, is your ultimate authority for knowledge?” the answer we get back from DD is that it is the human mind. What this boils down to is this: for the atheist the human mind is the ultimate criterion of knowledge, but the human mind is finite and limited and is ignorant of very many things. Hence the atheists’ final court of appeal is their own finitude. Yet from this finitude they dogmatize about ultimate reality. As should be obvious, they are caught within the contradiction of having to explain reality from their immanent finite vantage point, and yet also having to admit that they are ignorant regarding much of reality.

Lest it be replied that everyone has the same limitations, it needs to said that atheists like DD have no way out of this predicament.  For atheists, with their immanent finite starting point for knowing, truth claims are left suspended on air.  By way of comparison the Christian can admit his or her finitude, but can then point for final explanation, not to that finitude (the human mind), but to the transcendent Lord of the Universe who is also present with His creatures and gives them His Word. What this produces is a clear contrast between ultimate criteria of believer and unbeliever.

I repeat, for people like DD the human mind is the ultimate standard for knowledge, but this standard is a long way from comprehending a lot of reality. So what happens is, after dispensing with (or rather overlooking) the BW, the unbeliever is stuck with the impossible task of interpreting the world in ways which will never explain it. Thus, the seemingly rational starting point of the atheist ends up becoming mystical in its statements about ultimate reality; “the Great Explanation” as I’ve called it – unless that is, the BW, which gives the explanation, is pilfered for its explanatory materials. This mysticism can be seen, for example, in the assigning of automatically self-ordering, developmental, information-rich properties to matter and energy. (This is much like the reification of the forces of nature by pagan religions who shared the same immanentistic starting point as DD). The trick is to make it sound as if “the Great Explanation” is sustained on the same ‘rational’ sounding footing as the pretended rational starting point. This is accomplished through the skilled use of empty rhetoric (e.g. “evolution found a way”; “beneficial mutations”; “self-generating laws,”; “man does not need God to be moral.”)

Secondly, notice this statement: “but this is a prompt for further inquiry, not a reason to declare certain things impossible just because we have yet to fully understand them.” She slips in a little jibe about PA declaring some things impossible which are yet unknown to us. This is an attempt at introducing “the god of the gaps” fallacy wherein the believer takes refuge in the retreating areas of our understanding of the universe until he is flushed out by a scientific explanation. But this will not work, for the premise of “the god of the gaps” was built upon the naiveté of some apologists who worked outside the BW by means of natural theology (the belief that certain knowledge of God is attainable through the use of unaided reason without recourse to Scripture). Such a position we utterly repudiate – as did the Reformers. The impossibility we do insist upon is the impossibility of basing any assertion or value-statement upon solid ground given atheistical (or non-biblical) presuppositions.

Thirdly, as is a matter-of-course with atheists who put all their faith in science (even though DD says she doesn’t hold to scientism she leaves herself with no epistemology but scientific empiricism), we find the inclusion of ‘the eschatological cop-out’ in this statement. “We don’t yet know…prompt for further inquiry…yet to fully understand..”. As we shall see shortly, this faith in the future, while legitimate within the BW understanding the world, does not comport with an atheistic conception of reality.

Here is another quote:

If I put my hand into a fire, thinking that the fire is not really there, or all in my head, will not stop my hand from burning. If I break a limb, I cannot undo the damage by thinking it never really happened. If I am diagnosed with cancer, imagining that there is no tumour in my body will not give me any comfort or be any use in treating the disease.

We reply, “And if I pretend that immaterial mental laws of logic, morality and information come from inanimate matter am I not deceiving myself too?” Absolutely! And this is the presuppositional challenge. The Bible says DD knows God exists deep down (Rom. 1:18-22), but her sinful heart is deceiving her into accepting impossible explanations for this world while looking past the true one.

Greg Bahnsen used to illustrate this by supposing a debate in which one of the protagonists was arguing against the existence of oxygen while all the while he was breathing it.  The proof of the veracity of Christian-theism is the impossibility of the contrary.  Naturally, the unbeliever will not agree to this, since to agree with it is to take leave of all their precious reasons for unbelief!  But it is not the apologist’s job to convince men against their wills.  That may be SOP for Islamists or the Spanish Inquisition, but the Bible never tells us to even contemplate it. When “giving a reason for the hope that is within us” we are to show the God-rejecter that their understanding of reality just doesn’t make any sense of experience, and this is done, in part, by making them epistemologically self-conscious.

6. Epistemology

By writing her second post before she had read my response to her first post she put herself further in epistemological hot water.  She says she still takes the cogito ergo sum  of Rene Descartes as foundational to knowing anything.

I have no qualms about accepting the cogito as a useful and indeed necessary foundation for proceeding to worldview construction

I have already shown why Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” does not get you off the starting-block. But in point of fact, I didn’t need to. DD herself, after insisting on its foundational necessity for knowledge, abruptly precludes the cogito:

Knowledge, as I indicated in part 1 of my response, is, I think, best described as a relationship of trust and familiarity between the knower and that which is known

Bypassing the fact that this is a roundabout way of saying that she trusts her brain to interpret her sense-impressions accurately,notice how she is not starting where Descartes started; by doubting everything until he could not doubt that he was doubting. (and in this Descartes was just fooling himself. As Roy Abraham Varghese has said, “It would have been more correct to say, ‘I think therefore know that I cannot as a thinking being have come into existence from non-thinking matter.’”).

She is in fact starting by not doubting; a. that she exists and that she can connect with the external world outside her mind, and b. that “that which is known” can, in fact, be called “knowledge” and not just delusion.  Descartes made no such assumption.

Experience is the only means we have of establishing whether or not our truth and knowledge claims reflect reality as it is.

This is rampant empiricism, not Cartesian rationalism. She has booted Descartes into the stands!

So what does “in the beginning hydrogen” or “in the beginning matter and energy” deliver up in the way of a platform for believing in the trustworthiness of our sense-impressions (and so our experiences)?  Enter David Hume.

This is no place to start teaching philosophy, but the ultra-empiricist Hume will not allow the atheist to pin all his or her hopes on sense-experiences.  It was the Scottish philosopher who said:

“All events seem entirely loose and separate.  One event follows another,but we never can observe any tie between them.”

Hume reduced all claims to knowledge to the level of impressions upon our five senses.  If one could not trace a knowledge claim back to direct impressions it could not be labeled as true.  But his empiricism was so thorough that he argued that noone ever has an impression or perception of a necessary connection (“tie”) between one event and another.  Every event was discrete and on it’ s own.  Any connection we make is out of habit (e.g. that the ground is wet after rain).  We don’t actually perceive the connections.  And since all I know is my perceptions (impressions), I cannot claim to know, says Hume, that one thing causes another.  Hence, Hume’s empiricism destroyed causality and so undermined the foundation of science.  In showing where empiricism leads, Hume showed that truth-claims, either about the nature of the Self or about the nature of the world, cannot be sustained upon such a theory of knowledge.  But that is the theory of knowledge used by the atheist!  Recall this statement by DD?

but this is a prompt for further inquiry, not a reason to declare certain things impossible just because we have yet to fully understand them.

How can DD inquire into a future she cannot know?  Hume says we can only “know” the past.  We can never “know” what will happen in the future.  But it gets worse.  The person who bases all knowledge on experience has no epistemic right to claim any knowledge about anything in the future.  This is because we cannot sense or test the future.  If one really held to such a worldview why would one do science at all?

Naturalism supports the notion that we must have means of relating to and interacting with the rest of the natural world, and that it is by such means that we likewise gain a store of knowledge

Why “must” naturalism support this theses?  Why would it not even better support the notion that everything is illusory?  That our minds create our reality instead of giving us direct access to it as it really is? (Kant).

The fact that we are able to make sense of the world in which we live is a product of our direct relationship with it.

Again, how dos she know she has a direct relationship with the world given her materialist assumptions?  And even were we to grant this to her, she still has given no explanations.  Cows have a direct relationship with the world, but they don’t reflect upon it.  Why does DD?  And just how is it a “product” of our relationship with the world? What produces it, the firing of synapses in the brain?

I realize the full implications of this will be lost on the atheist.  But I ask the reader to think about worldviews and their fallout. They matter.  It is because of the Christian worldview that the West is not like the East in its view of existence (although this foundation is eeking away with the rise of secularism).

By what means, other than personal experience, are we to approach truth? I claim this on the basis of my continued experience of sitting on the chair and not falling through it. From this, I can then infer that my friend, being about my size and weight, could sit on my chair and not fall through it. In every relevant sense here, I can then assure my friend that I know the chair will bear her weight.

I’m afraid you can’t – not from your position as a naturalistic atheist.  Not if you have a worldview that is strictly empirical and cannot establish cause and effect (Hume), and so can’t account for the uniformity of nature!.

Hume’s philosophy, which is so destructive to Christian apologetics of the neutral ground, evidentialist kind, is a positive boon to the presuppositionalist who begins, not with himself, but with the Word of God.  Hume demonstrates that our attempted autonomy makes us void the Creator’s explanation of reality and replace it with plastic specimens which collapse in on themselves into futility.

The simplicity of the naturalist’s worldview is to draw conclusions on the basis of evidence

I mean no disrespect, but the word “simplicity” deserves to be replaced by “simplistic”.  Notice the inference here.  The “evidence” is just there waiting to speak to us.   But evidence is subject to interpretation, and interpretations are influenced, indeed often determined, by our larger constructions of reality. We make the facts speak – they have no voice without our interpretation. In the BW the facts are there because in one way or another God in His providence puts them there. This means they are pre-interpreted, not by us, but by God. Our job is to know the facts as God knows them to the best of our ability. Thus, in the BW there is no such thing as a brute fact.

In the atheist worldview there is no Mind behind the course of events; all things derive from mindless matter. There is no telos or purpose and thus no “reason” behind why they are there. Evidence just sits there waiting for someone to interpret it in any number of ways.  In DD’s outlook on the world, we are “not to assume that ultimate conclusions have been preordained and to interpret the world to fit those conclusions.”

Here we see that by refusing to acknowledge the Creator and Conditioner (though not fatalistically so) of the world she is left with a world of contingent facts which she is unable to give final interpretations of.

It strikes me as all backwards to claim that because we can approach an understanding of the universe, the universe must have been made to align with our reason. Say rather that it is our reason that was born and grew up in this universe, and that it is our response, as natural beings, to the way we perceive nature – including ourselves – behaving.

Let me highlight a few problems here which DD, like all atheists, just breezes past.

1. Please notice how familiarity with the wonder of living and understanding things has led to her simply taking it as another brute fact.  We see to understand a universe which does not nor never will reciprocate.  Yet this same lifeless, brainless, and aimless universe is believed more logically to have produced our life and understanding than God?

2. Our reason “was born and grew up in this universe…”  Notice the reification of nature here.  Ascribing living predicates to the non-living material which she says put us together.

3. We are “natural beings” – presumably she means we are products of natural causes alone – but we “respond” to and “perceive nature.”  But that makes us different than mere matter in motion!  Nature is not sentient.  It does not “perceive” itself and reflect upon its purpose and existence.  It does not “experience” anything.  What then would cause an otherwise intelligent person to believe such things as this?  I submit again that the clue is not far away.  “For the carnal mind is hostile toward God.” (Romans 8:7).  I shall continue in the language of the Apostle Paul:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is evident within them; for God made it evident within them…so that they are without excuse.  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…they exchanged the truth of God for a lie…” – Romans 1:18-22, 25.

Been there, done that!  I mean no insult to DD, whom I have enjoyed interacting with, but this is the Bible’s diagnosis, which, as a Bible-believer, I agree with.

One final quote for today:

The exercise of human reason requires no further presuppositions – everything else follows from this.

Translation: Human “reason” is just there so I don’t need to account for it.  I can construct any worldview I like regardless of whether or not I can use to make any sense of human reason or experience.

Every person is their own proximate starting point.  But then they are under obligation to construct an interpretation of existence which explains this proximate starting point.  Atheists never depart from their own ignorance.  They are stuck with no building plan for the world they live in.  They tell stories about evolving life from non-life and the eternity of matter, and conscious freedom being secured by the laws of physics, but they never demonstrate how this can be and they never live out their professed worldview.  This is why they make truth-claims which they cannot sustain within their worldview.  For the Christian (not the generic or nominal variety of which there are all too many), the starting-point for comprehending themselves, their world; its marvels and its “fallenness” is God – the Triune God of Scripture.  The God who made the world for Himself and who has not given upon it, nor on those like myself and Dormant Dragon who live brief lives on it.

I promise next time I will finish this post!

61 comments

  1. We have seen so far that the atheist take on reality and experience does not acquit itself at all well when a little pressure is applied in the realms of natural laws, logic, or ethical mores.  As a matter of fact it reduces them either to banality or absurdity. This is no small failure!

    Yet you have failed to do more than assert that this is the case. You are applying standards which are wholly unrelated to a nonspiritual, materialist world-picture and seeking answers that are simply not there to be had. You want logic and morality to be self-existent entities when we have no reason to think they are so. The human mind seeks order and regularity as an efficient means of understanding the world. That regularities exist in nature and that we are able to perceive them is not a coincidence if we are products of natural forces. It does not indicate that the universe was made to align with human reasoning. Nor does the fact that we behave ethically require any other explanation than our evolution as social animals that rely on each other for support and survival. The fact that you merely refuse to accept an atheistic explanation for natural regularities or ethics or reason does not indicate a failure on the part of naturalism to arrive at a working explanation for these things.

    1. I certainly have shown your outlook to be incoherent and question-begging. You have just not interacted with my arguments (although you say many things they are often of the “I don’t have to provide preconditions, even though my worldview can’t explain them – so I’ll take them for granted” variety)

      Your naturalistic outlook is yours, not mine. Your faith in natural forces is breathtaking since you have given not one instance of how matter in motion has emergent properties. And you won’t.

      There is no atheistic explanation for regularities, ethics or anything else. I have shown you the problems and you ignored them and continue to assert they are just there.

  2. Any world-picture which trips over itself in explaining such crucial fields of experience ought to be consigned to the intellectual dustbin. Contrariwise, the biblical worldview (BW) does supply us with solid reasons for believing in the uniformity of nature and laws of science, and its moral teaching is far in advance of the nebulous moral conventionalism of the best atheists.

    It’s hard to see how an ethical code that concerns itself with the nitpicking details of dietary laws, which elevates the fear of menstrual blood and other sources of ‘uncleanness’ from a practical consideration to a source of spiritual horror; which advocates stoning for disobedient children, death for homosexuals and ‘witches’ and laying the transgressions of a community onto a goat; and whose central tenet is vicarious atonement is at all in advance of any alternative system.

    It’s also bizarre to consider the promise of an immaterial, imperceptible deity as some kind of guarantee that nature will behave in a uniform manner. There must already be some uniformity, some regularity, in order for such a god to make any promises in the first place – whence the regularities that allow god to think, speak and act? David Ramsay Steele in Atheism Explained provides a good summation of the argument approached by John Stuart Mill and later clarified by Gilbert Fulmer regarding natural regularities to which god must be subject. If whatever god wills comes about, this is a law of nature which god himself could not have brought about, since in order for him to bring it about by his own act of will, this natural regularity must already have been the case. What’s more, this is a god who is reported to have interfered with nature even after promising that it would remain regular. Such a god’s promises, therefore, are at least a bit suspect.

    1. These comments again show your ignorance of the Bible and its worldview (which I gave you an outline of).

      The God of Scripture is Spirit, not matter. Many philosophers (e.g. Keith Ward, A. Plantinga, N. Wolterstorff, and many more) have no trouble with Fulmer’s supposed problem. It applies to material beings and thus begs the question. It also suffers from the same problems as the ones you have avoided, including a belief in the eternity of matter and other violations of natural laws which I have already discussed.

      1. The God of Scripture is Spirit, not matter. Many philosophers (e.g. Keith Ward, A. Plantinga, N. Wolterstorff, and many more) have no trouble with Fulmer’s supposed problem. It applies to material beings and thus begs the question.

        Whether it applies to ‘spiritual’ or material entities makes no difference to the argument. Some regularities must obtain in order for any action to take place, for any cause to have effects. That your listed philosophers do not perceive a problem here is not evidence that there is no problem, only that they have refused to address it and merely gloss over it, as you do.

        How do you even define an entity without some regularities of existence?

        It also suffers from the same problems as the ones you have avoided, including a belief in the eternity of matter and other violations of natural laws which I have already discussed.

        The concept of eternal matter – or eternal energy, which, in terms of physics, amounts to the same thing – does not violate any known natural regularities; especially given that such regularities as we can perceive are probabilistic in nature, given quantum indeterminacy. In any case, I would have thought that violations of natural regularities would be a commonplace for someone who believes in an omnipotent supernatural entity.

      2. You are arguing from within your naturalistic worldview and then assuming you have answered me. As I have said, the laws of logic are immaterial, as are ethical mores and number. You cannot observe logic in the sense that you can experiment on it at the material level. You cannot ask a shopkeeper for “three” and expect him to get you it. Good and evil are not physical things. Neither, as I shall show, is information itself physical. So immaterial things exist and cannot be explained by material things. Your explanations of abstract concepts presuppose them. As the BW puts supernaturalism before naturalism it serves to explain what your outlook does not.

        Here you state the incredible belief that the eternity of matter does not violate the laws of physics. It does indeed. It denies the 2nd Law for a start. But this is beside the point. Materialism does not explain our experience as has been shown, your contradictory assertion notwithstanding.

  3. It is no coincidence that the rise of the sciences corresponded with the rediscovery of the BW at the time of the Reformation: it is well known that practically all the founders of modern science (Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Boyle, Newton, Ray, Linnaeus, Lavoisier, Faraday, Pasteur, Maxwell, Kelvin, etc.) were strongly influenced by the BW. Commentators ranging from A. N. Whitehead to Mary Hesse have testified to this historical fact.

    Copernicus, Galileo, Lavoisier and Pasteur were Catholics, whom you have explicitly stated in the past do not align with your ‘Biblical worldview’. In any case, the fact that these men were religious or aware of the Bible bears no necessary relationship to their scientific endeavours. It is cultural happenstance – people raised in religious families tend to identify with their parents’ beliefs, as modern demographic studies demonstrate. Darwin was also deeply religious, until his own researches led him away from the supposition that life was the result of divine design.

    Taking a broader view, it’s not a given that the ‘rediscovery’ of the BW (though, since the Bible as we know it was assembled by the Catholic church, I’m not sure when you think the first discovery of the BW could have been) was what influenced the birth of modern science. In fact, the Reformation and the rise of science can be explained by the same wider phenomenon – people began to question the value of unreflective adherence to authority, whether that was the authority of the clergy or the authority of ancient scientific texts. This was the rise of humanism, with its emphasis on finding things out for oneself, and it led to both independent reading of scriptures, unmediated by priests, and independent examination of the natural world, unimpeded by deference to the writings of ancient natural philosophers.

    And it must be said that it is decidedly odd for you to claim the founding of modern science as an achievement of your specific brand of religious faith, when you seem so keen to devalue the kind of empirical investigation on which modern science is based.

    1. This is very ignorant and misrepresentative. Read what I said and the references to Whitehead and Hesse. There is nothing happenstance about it.

      The Catholic Church gave us the Bible! I have taught the Canon for years and this assertion is absurd. Read FF Bruce’s “The Canon of Scripture” and educate yourself before writing such nonsense. Not even liberal scholars believe such a ridiculous thing!

      I have already shown that the BW gives reasons to trust our senses and do science. You have not given any reply to the arguments against your position.

      1. I have already shown that the BW gives reasons to trust our senses and do science. You have not given any reply to the arguments against your position.

        No, you have asserted that the Biblical Worldview gives you such reasons – but they are reasons you can only access if you already trust your senses and reasoning, as I’ve said.

      2. This is getting old. DD, I have reduced your epistemology and your ethics to tatters. Your worldview gives you no right to trust your senses. The BW does. This has been made clear over and over again. It is not a mere assertion. To trust our senses we need to move beyond the pragmatic (Hume) and subjective (Kant). Hume destroyed your worldview centuries ago. Also, to have a moral law you need a moral law Giver (God). Atheism has no normative ethics and the only law-giver it has is power. You need to think through these exchanges and not write the first thing that comes into your head.

  4. Likewise, as David Aikman shows in The Delusion of Disbelief, the Founding Fathers of the United States, whether they were Theistic or Deistic, all to a man believed that human freedoms could only be insured against what Nietzsche would call “the will to power” by the inculcation of religious, specifically biblical morality.

    So what you’re advocating here is faith in faith, not faith in god. Thomas Hobbes had anticipated the founding fathers with his writings, but his solution to the problem of human life being ‘nasty, brutish and short’ was the imposition of a decidedly secular authority in the form of a strong human ruler. It’s pretty much the same principle – unless people are compelled to obey rules, they won’t.

    Atheism by contrast, wherever it has gained power, has always violently curtailed individual and social freedoms just because it has no system of normative morality to hold itself up to (this is one of the areas where biblical Christianity must be differentiated from Roman Catholicism).

    So far there has never been an evangelical Christian state, so you don’t have any reason to suspect that the methods of such a state would be any less coercive than any other. And raising the old chestnut of identifying atheism with Nazism and Communism is a non-tactic in this debate. The specific agendas of Hitler, Mao, Stalin et al may have been atheistic, but it was their specific aims, their own will to power, that led to the worst atrocities of their regimes. It must also be said that it was the kind of bovine desire for a focus for worship inculcated by religion that allowed these men to elevate themselves to god-like status on earth – just look at Kim Jong Il. And it won’t do to try to distance your particular brand of Christianity from all the others – each of which, like yours, would claim for itself the mantle of the one true faith. Modern Christianity, in all its forms, is the legacy of the midlife crisis of a schizophrenic Mother Church.

    1. If you don’t understand or even care to understand my position you should be careful what you associate it with. You only display your ignorance publicly.

      And of course the atheist states I mention are part of the argument! Their ideologies were based on the premise that they could do what they wanted (read Nietzsche!). This is you backing down again instead of explaining.

      You need to study Church History and the Bible! Then you would know your errors.

      1. If you don’t understand or even care to understand my position you should be careful what you associate it with. You only display your ignorance publicly.

        I’m not the one associating my opponent’s position with genocidal and politically ruthless regimes.

        And of course the atheist states I mention are part of the argument! Their ideologies were based on the premise that they could do what they wanted (read Nietzsche!). This is you backing down again instead of explaining.

        As if they wouldn’t have done so if they had believed in the Bible! There are all sorts of justifications for despotism, violence and oppression contained in scriptures – and I hardly need point out that the gospels contain some quite explicit justifications for anti-Semitism, which Hitler was all too keen to draw upon.

  5. The starting-point for atheism is (supposedly) “reason” – but their “reason” has its source in the unreason of matter and energy.

    Yes. So? Why are you so insistent that reason must precede unreason?

    The forces of matter and energy are non-rational.

    Again, so? Something does not need to be able to think and reason in order to behave in a regular way. Water flows downhill without thinking about doing so. Air moves from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure without thinking about doing so. Rationality in humans is merely the ability to observe regularities and imagine possible outcomes based on those regularities.

    If a person really believed that all there is to make the wonders in the world is mass/energy they would have no expectation, let alone any justification, to believe in laws of nature, uniformity in nature, the reliability of their brainwaves to correspond to the extended world outside their brain;

    Expectation is an extension of habit, at its most basic level. Animals in the wild will return to places where they have found water, in the expectation of finding water there again. You might say that the expectation is not justified, because they might not find water – and of course they don’t always. But does the possibility of not finding water mean that the expectation has no justification?

    nor laws of logic, nor moral norms of anything but a descriptive psychological sort.

    Where else do you imagine that such things exist except as conceptualisations of natural regularities and human behaviours? Can you demonstrate that moral laws would exist without conscious agents, or that rational thoughts would exist without rational agents to think them? Why should we suppose that these things should exist independently of humans?

    1. The BW insists that reason must precede unreason because the reverse scenario is impossible and so undemonstrable. It has never been experienced by anyone anywhere. This has to do with the laws of information which I shall discuss in Part 2.3. Listen: something does not come from nothing (law of causality); matter is not eternal (first 2 laws of thermodynamics); life does not come from non-life (law of biogenesis); amino acids cannot thrive in a reduced (oxygen free) atmosphere (2nd law of thermodynamics), but neither can they thrive in a water-based environment (law of hydrolysis). Finally, (though more could be added) reason implies information which cannot come from mindless particles (laws of information).
      These are laws because they have never been countermanded in our experience. Yet you say you base your knowledge on experience. I beg to differ!

      This is amazing because of its naivete: “Rationality in humans [those who have reason] is merely the ability [does water have ability in this sense?] to OBSERVE and IMAGINE possible outcomes…” Uh…don’t those who “observe and imagine” and calculate “possible outcomes” require reason as a precondition? I would say so (you may imagine what you like).

      And what has animals instinctively looking for water got to do with the list I gave you? (or the other lists you have systematically (instinctively?) ignored? Notice here that you have fallen into Hume’s dilemma. You have reduced knowledge to habits and thus destroyed both our truthful connection with the world and any solid basis for belief in the uniformity of nature! It is because of Hume’s critique of induction that Kant “saved science” (from Hume) with his dialectical philosophy. And what is your justification for believing that your brainwaves have not determined your beliefs irrespective of their veracity? Remember, you have previously recommended a “solution” based on animal behavior which reduces knowledge down to the evolutionary level of what works irrespective of whether or not it is either right or true. You cannot simply ignore your previous assertions and pretend your approach is rational.

      On laws of logic: More of the same, and the burden of proof is on you. I almost feel we are going round in circles here. Non-sentient inanimate agents do not have minds. Ergo they have no moral laws! If YOU think they do surely you ought to explain how that can be! Have you ever observed morality existing without rational agents? That you continue to make the same assertions about innate properties of matter which you nor your fellow atheists have ever observed is evidence that you have not seriously engaged the arguments I have brought against your position.

  6. I have both expectation and justification because the BW gives me every reason to believe just the opposite to DD.
    It gives you the feeling of having a reason, at least. But this ‘reason’ is a collection of man-made fables that was itself subject, in its composition, to the vagaries of human thought. You can point to no necessary connection between the words of scripture and the real world – the one cannot logically be considered a map of the other.

    If I were committed to evolution (as I once was), I might not like some of its attendant dogmas, but that by itself would not make it untrue. 

    How can you be ‘committed’ to a collection of facts about the world and the explanation offered therefor? Emotional commitment to a scientific theory can impede the progress of science, in any case. I will admit that the theory of evolution by natural selection is a remarkably elegant and powerfully explanatory tool, but if it were demonstrated to be untenable as an explanation of how the world works, I would have no trouble discarding it in favour of a better explanation.

    Or if I were a Hindu, I might not enjoy the thought that I was on the perpetual wheel of karma. But again, not liking something does not make it false.  DD sometimes (though not as much as some of her fellow atheists) mixes her personal feelings about God – whom she cannot bring herself to use the correct capitalization on – with the BW. 
    My personal feelings about god – who gets no capital, because there is no satisfactory demonstration I know of that your god is either a person or the sole bearer of the title ‘God’ – are of the same kind as my personal feelings about other characters in fiction. Sometimes people’s feelings for fictional characters and historical figures run very deep indeed – you only have to go to a fan convention or visit the Richard III museum in York to see that. Personally, I find it difficult to feel the same level of attachment or engagement to those with whom I cannot directly interact, and there has been nothing in my life’s experience that could be rightly called a direct engagement with a supernatural deity. And in any case, your beliefs about your god are intricately bound to your beliefs about the Bible, so the two are not really separable.

    1. Yet again you parade your ignorance and prejudice. The Bible is the Word of the Creator, and as such it provides the preconditions necessary for rightly understanding our world. Galileo (a R.C. INFLUENCED by the BW) said “The holy Bible and the phenomena of nature proceed alike from the divine Word”; Newton, in his Principia said, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.” Your opinion is just that, an opinion. And an uninformed one at that.

      I have shown the connection between the one and the other, but you have ignored it. Along the way I have very clearly shown numerous times how your worldview fails to account for the real world.

      Your eloquent line about “the one cannot logically be considered to be a map of the other” applies very bluntly to your atheism. This will be shown again in 2.3. Suffice it to quote Kepler who said he was “simply thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”

      You say, “How can you be ‘committed’ to a collection of facts about the world and the explanation offered therefor? Emotional commitment to a scientific theory can impede the progress of science, in any case.”

      Some self assessment would go a long way here. Evolution and scientism are decidedly not based on the evidence (e.g. show me just one example in nature where a microorganism has increased its information content without intelligent intervention).

      Further evolution has no explanatory power beyond the micro-evolutionary level (variation within kind as per Mendel’s law of genetics). Macro-evolution is a Disneyland myth supported often by unproven and even fraudulent claims (e.g. Piltdown, Nebraska, Java ‘man’; Haeckel’s embryos; the peppered moth fiasco; ‘vestigial’ organs, ‘junk’ DNA; arceo-raptor etc.) and you believe in it despite the evidence because you don’t want to believe in God. Be honest DD. You are emotionally committed to your evolutionary beliefs in the same way I am to my creationism.

      Your personal feelings about God are very easily discernable. You have evidence of His Person and work all around you and you shut it out with a worldview that turns your experience into nonsense. This has been demonstrated even if you have, by some feat, managed not to see it. My summation in 2.3 will detail this. The latter half of this reply is well said even though I argue it is untrue.

  7. Feelings have nothing to do with matters of truth.

    Only with the truth of themselves.

    The reason I reject non-Christian worldviews is not because I don’t like them, but because they make nonsense of my experience, while the BW supplies the preconditions for it.

    All I can say to that is that you must have had some pretty bizarre experiences in your time, if they are better explained by the Bible than anything else.

    For instance, in his book Redeeming Science (20), the Christian scholar Vern Poythress writes:
    Rationality is a sine qua non for scientific law.  But, as we know, rationality belongs to persons, not to rocks, trees, and subpersonal creatures.  If the law is rational, which scientists assume it is, then it is also personal.

    Rationality refers to our ability to reason about the natural world, not to inherent qualities of the natural world. Order and regularity do not necessarily imply rational input, but the ability to understand order and regularity (or disorder and irregularity, for that matter) requires rationality. This is what science endeavours to do. What’s more, rationality is not the only faculty of the human mind. Instinct and emotion precede it, both in developmental and evolutionary terms.
    He says the same thing about language.  Language presupposes rationality and personality. The alternatives proffered by evolutionary theorists not only contradict our everyday experience (all languages we know about presuppose rationality and personality), they are positively comic-bookish; comparable in their patent absurdity to the dream that flaps of skin turned into feathers as critters launched themselves off branches in continual ludicrously ill-fated proto-flights.

    Interesting set of unsupported assertions here. Language as we know it is an evolved form of communication, indeed one that is still evolving. Rationality is not required for basic communication, but it is thought that language is a necessary precondition for abstract thought and reasoning. So it makes sense to suppose that the ability to communicate perceptions of concrete facts about the world preceded the ability to form abstract concepts. Not too sure how you think this contradicts everyday experience, since you provided no examples. But if I may offer a counterexample, children generally learn how to use words and apply them to direct experiences of the material world before they develop the ability to use abstract reason.

    And I realise you mean to make a dig at evolutionary theory here, but it does help if you actually have a working knowledge of what you’re criticising. Feathers, from what biologists have been able to determine, evolved as modified scales, on animals that did not fly. It’s thought they evolved originally as a form of protective insulation, perhaps as down on the young of certain species of dinosaurs. They may also have been used as a form of mating display, as many bird species use them today. We know that feathers are not necessary for gliding or for powered flight – as evidenced by animals such as squirrel gliders and the many species of bats – so we know that one is not a precondition for the other, but that feathers and flight happen to be complimentary features that could co-evolve. And it’s quite easy to describe a possible evolutionary progression from small feathered reptiles who could glide from tree to tree, to birds that were able to actively fly.

    1. Since you are on record as declaring that you can remain ignorant of the Bible and its teachings and have repeatedly given samples of this ignorance I would not expect you to say anything different.
      Of course we reason about the qualities of the natural world. What about Descartes? Forgotten him again? Have you not read Thomas Kuhn or (better) Michael Polanyi? Science would be impossible if we did not deduce things from inherent qualities! And if you mean that rationality does not derive from “the inherent qualities of the natural world” you would be spot on – and you would contradict your whole worldview (again).
      We see again your blind faith in evolutionism. Nobody has ever observed rationality emerge from instinct and emotion. Humans have reason, the brute beasts do not. This is so from birth. But evolutionary philosophy never follows observation. For instance, the Fossil Record always and everywhere has revealed fully functional, fully formed creatures and that are never transitioning from one thing into another. That is what science observes. The diagrams in our textbooks are fantasy drawings required by the theory but not supported by the facts. The same kind of thing is true of human reason. You have never observed evolution! You have been duped.

      You write: “Interesting set of unsupported assertions here.”

      Unsupported? Then give me an instance of language code that comes from an impersonal agent. Support your statement. Children are personal are they not? Your example of children proves that they do reason (basically) before they apply words. Further, as a father of four I can say that infants do reason and learn quickly what will bring Mum to the cradle.

      I am well aware of evolutionary teachings thank you. My “proto-flights” example comes from Richard Dawkins in a debate in the UK years ago! And you actually support the absurdity in your last sentence!

      So birds have feathers and use them for display? Does that explain the evolution of the feather? Are you aware of the differences between birds and reptiles? Not to mention the incredible bones and feathers of birds. There is much to explain and the explanatory pathways are not easy at all (unless you mean via imagination minus crucial objections). Btw, one of the world’s top experts on birds has gone on record as saying the link between birds and reptiles is fabulous.

  8. I have already referred readers to John Oswalt’s study, The Bible Among The Myths, which gives short shrift to these silly mystery-cult claims.  Those that make them show thereby that they have not looked too carefully into it.  It is one thing to say “I don’t like that…” in the same way one doesn’t like butter on sandwiches.  It is another to say “I don’t like that” and then give erroneous reasons for ones dislike.
    Interesting to note that the book you referenced deals only with the Old Testament, so it doesn’t, apparently, cover the resemblance between early Christian theology and practice and pagan mystery cults. Far from being uninterested in or lacking any affection for early Christian history, I actually find it fascinating. I love a good historical yarn, and the more complicated, the better. Two books I particularly enjoyed were Joshua, the Man They Called Jesus, by Ian Jones, and Barrie Wilson’s How Jesus Became Christian, both of which use extensive New Testament scriptural reference in order to reconstruct a possible biography of Jesus the man, and explain how the ministry of a Jewish teacher became convoluted by later writers with an agenda to push. There is little doubt that early Christianity had to compete in the marketplace of ideas with numerous pagan religions, so it makes sense that its early proponents would adopt ideas that were familiar to those they were trying to win as converts.

    1. Oswalt’s study deals with the precursors to the mystery cults and ought o be studied – particularly in relation to the cyclical view of history and the issue of ‘continuity.’

      Your sources say much about your lack of understanding of the NT. Neither man is a recognized NT scholar (conservative or liberal.) Wilson’s thesis is laughable to anyone who knows their stuff. His ignorance of Second Temple Judaism is staggering. Unsurprisingly, he fails to cite any acknowledged expert (save Ehrman, who is not a NT scholar but a textual critic – who has been sharply criticized by his mentor, Bruce Metzger and most textual critics). Little wonder then that Wilson is not cited by any credible NT study (liberal or conservative)!

      There is no (repeat no) evidence of mystery religions in first century Israel. See Ronald Nash’s ‘The Gospel and the Greeks’ or Metzger’s works.

      I am not familiar with Jones’ book but as I have never run into his name in the literature that tells me he is probably a crank recycling 19th century history of religions nonsense which has been thoroughly overthrown. Doubtless he makes much of the Gospel of Thomas, even though it isn’t a Gospel, and is clearly Gnostic and, as it quotes Tatian’s Diatessaron verbatim, must have been written after AD 164.

      If you want to enter this debate knowing what you are talking about you had better know who the big hitters are. E.g. Craig Keener’s ‘The Historical Jesus of the Gospels’ surveys most of the liberal claims and deals with them easily (he shows that there is not one known instance of a Cynic sage in Israel in NT times for example). Keener quotes the sources (not Dan Brown a la Wilson): Polybius, Tacitus, Pliny and hundreds more. He has 10,000 endnotes to substantiate his conclusions.

      I could give you many more examples like Richard Bauckham’s ‘Jesus and the Eye-Witnesses.’ For shorter, less technical discussions see the Aussie scholar Paul Barnett’s books. I’m afraid you are in the dark on this matter.

  9. The doctrine of the Trinity is not, of course, illogical.
    But it’s well nigh unintelligible, so why quibble about logic?

    What-is-more, it accounts for the one-and-many problem; the problem of relating individual instances of things to their universals (concepts).  This problem has stymied philosophers from before the time of Plato.  John Frame says,
    The Trinity shows us, at least in very general terms, how ultimate unity and diversity can be reconciled…if they are seen not as abstract qualities, but as qualities of a [P]erson. – Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought, 76.

    Again with the unintelligibility. Why does it make a difference to the reconciliation of unity and diversity to suppose that these are personal rather than abstract qualities? And why the necessity for specifically personal rather than plain old material qualities? Is Frame attempting to suggest that an immaterial, indefinable entity has any qualities that can be pinned down as personal? Is he attempting to define god in something more concrete than purely abstract terms? Is your god three persons or is he one? And if he is multiple persons, is he so in the same way as a human with multiple personality disorder is multiple persons? I think it’s stretching credulity a bit far to say that we can only understand the regularities and diversities of material reality by positing an immaterial precursor who is somehow one person yet three distinct entities – or maybe it’s the other way around. I can’t tell, nor do I see what difference it would make if I could. And in any case, concepts formed in human minds are not of necessity universal truths – they are a practical mental shorthand for understanding and dealing with the world as we encounter it. The logic of going from the specific to the general lies not in the things themselves, but in the human perception of them – we cannot perceive all that is, so we suppose regularities from that which we can perceive, until such time as we perceive something different, in which case assuming regularity – or at least a certain kind of regularity – ceases to be useful to us.
    The English theologian Colin Gunton did some penetrating work centering on the Trinity; work that cannot be dismissed with a wave of the infidel hand.
    As Christopher Hitchens wrote, what can be asserted without evidence may be dismissed without evidence. It’s all very well to attempt to explain a concept, but if that concept cannot be shown to correspond to any external reality, it’s still just building castles in the air. Dawkins wrote something similar in response to criticism that he didn’t deal with sophisticated and “penetrating” theological works – precisely that there is no discernible substance beneath the verbiage.

    He again took pains to stress the personal dimension. So there is much to be said for the explanatory value of the doctrine of the Trinity, nevermind its theological importance or its uniqueness when contrasted with the world’s religions.

    Throughout human history, gods have been conceived in human form and with human qualities. Even Yahweh, in the books of the Torah, is quite clearly one god amongst many, and subject to very human emotions and motivations. The notion of a singular and all-powerful immaterial deity is a comparatively recent theological development. I don’t see that there is anything at all to be said for the explanatory value of the concept of the trinity – much less its own coherence – whether it’s personal or otherwise. An unintelligible concept really can’t be made to explain anything else.

    1. There is too much errant nonsense here to deal with in a comment; and I’m not sure the effort would be worthwhile anyway. Your first question about the one and many shows you are not thinking. If (from your perspective) God exists and is – read it carefully – three Persons in one essence, then the universe and its particulars find unity in His purpose as well as His Person. If (from my perspective) atheism were true there would be no way to bring unity to our experience.

      Your questions re. Frame come from assuming naturalism is true. I do not blame you for this since you ARE a naturalist. But I am not and neither is Frame (and neither were most of the great thinkers of history be they theists or deists or what). This is what is being debated and I have said that concepts like 2+3=5 or the ‘law’ of excluded middle are immaterial. God too is immaterial whether you like it or not.

      You had better not rely much on Messrs Hitchens and Dawkins when it comes to reporting the facts. Both are factually challenged in a big way when it comes to Christian theology and history, let alone the Bible. I shall not stay to give samples of which there are many. Some of these are catalogued in D. B. Hart’s Atheist Delusions reviewed here: https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/review-article-atheist-delusions-by-david-bentley-hart-pt-1/

      David Aikman’s book already mentioned gives several good examples too. Other works do a similar job. Hitchens often asserts things without a shred of evidence, but since he knows he has a gullible ahistoricist readership, he doesn’t care.

      Your last paragraph has you playing the Bible scholar again. Please stop. You are embarrassing yourself. By all means ask, but don’t assert where you don’t know what you are saying. I know that sounds rude and I’m sorry to say this but I have been studying the Bible and its background for 25 years and I know when someone is out of their depth.

      1. My “errant” nonsense, as you describe it, is the outsider’s view of an inherently nonsensical and illogical concept. Call it personhood, unity, diversity, or anything you like, no matter how you try to dress it up in convoluted language, the concept of the trinity is a naked emperor.

        How does one read the books of the Torah without concluding that the existence of other gods was a generally accepted belief at the time these documents were produced? It takes religious indoctrination to deny that this is a valid reading of the text.

        In a later comment, you accuse me of postmodernism, but I think it is you who is indulging in the kind of content-free intellectual posturing that is the hallmark of postmodern academics. Plain-speaking is the enemy of ‘sophisticated’ theology, it seems.

  10. Presuppositional Apologetics (PA) asserts that unless the God of Scripture is presupposed it is not possible to make sense of anything.  DD wants to ground her understanding in experience, but she has not realized that her atheistic pantheist outlook makes nonsense of experience.
    Again you assert without demonstration. It is quite demonstrably possible to make sense of experience without adopting the BW, since millions of people do it every day, and have done so throughout history.

    DD and others will of course say that they do make sense of many things. Conspicuously absent from her web of belief has been a coherent connection between the inert properties she begins with and the conscious rational percepts she is using to argue for her starting point. Indeed, there is no connection possible within her scheme of things.
    Only if you conspicuously ignore, as you do, the explanations already offered in my various posts. Matter and energy are not ‘inert’ in the way you bluntly assert, but dynamic and interactive. Conscious awareness is an emergent property of complex arrangements of matter and energy, a set of phenomena that appear as a result of matter and energy interacting in processes of cause and effect with a bit of quantum randomness thrown in. Ask any computer systems engineer about the emergent properties of computer networks – behaviours and phenomena that simply happen as a result of the complex interplay of the systems involved. These behaviours are explicable in terms of system components obeying local rules and local programming, sure, but they are not simply reducible to the sum of their parts. The human brain is far more complex and intricate than any computer network, so it’s pretty much inevitable that it will display emergent properties like conscious awareness.

    By contrast when one begins with an Absolute Personal Creator as depicted in the Bible the connections are only to be expected. What this amounts to is that the atheist worldview predicates our experience on things which could never explain that experience. Like trying to explain Michelangelo’s intensely moving Rondanini Pieta by pointing at the ground: there is no causal connection at all!
    I think you’re deliberately exaggerating the disconnectedness of material phenomena. A connection need not be necessary in order to be palpably present.

    An absolute personal creator, on the other hand, is inexplicable in concrete terms, and when analysed as a concept, is shot through with vagueness and inconsistency. From what I have read and heard, many people who claim belief in the god of classical theism are unwilling to accept many of the logical implications of the existence of such a being. The presence of an omnipotent entity, to begin with, does not allow us to expect anything at all. All possibilities are equiprobable, since an omnipotent being could bring about any outcome it chose. Something that may be asserted as an explanation for absolutely anything is, in practice, useless as an explanation for anything at all.

    1. But I have demonstrated it. You must have been skipping the parts you don’t like. I shall summarize in 2.3.

      You however, have not explained the emergent properties you place your faith in. I shall say more in 2.3 when I talk about information.

      Consult a computer software engineer? But one was arguing with you earlier and you refused to listen to him! He explained to you that there are laws of information which contradict your position!

      There is no exaggeration I assure you. In fact, the chances against evolution of any kind other than at the micro level are more than all the electrons in the universe. Read Michael Denton’s ‘Evolution: A Theory in Crisis’ or his ‘Nature’s Destiny.’ Denton is agnostic so you’ve nothing to fear that way.

  11. Let’s not forget, also, that our concept of personhood is ultimately based upon our own experience of what it means to be a person – a conscious, self-aware agent. Any philosopher or theologian who references god in terms of personhood is implicitly drawing upon human experience, or in other words, using as an explanation the very phenomena they are attempting to explain by positing a personal god.

    Throughout this correspondence DD has denied our assertions, and she has accompanied these denials with her belief that the universe has the principles of its own order within itself.  She has lobbied for the necessity of a theory of knowledge based upon experience.  With respect, I believe there is some cognitive dissonance going on.  Has she ever relied on the properties of nature to mix her cooking ingredients or type out her objections to God? 
    Of course I have. Without natural regularities, I could not hope to act in any way whatsoever. I would not even exist without such regularities, much less be able to create delicious dinners or written works. Natural regularities are inherent in everything from my thought processes to my physical actions to the components of a meal or the relay mechanism from my computer keys to the words appearing on my screen.

    Truly she could stand there a billion years and it would never happen.    For starters, the law of entropy would put paid to her expectations.  Things don’t go from disorder to order, but from order to disorder. That is our collective experience!
    It might be said that the second law of thermodynamics applies to closed systems, and our earth, with its constant supply of heat energy from the Sun, is an open system.  I’ll run with that.  So DD takes her ingredients outside and waits for the Sun to mix them – what will happen?  The energy is there, but it is not purposefully directed energy!  So the recipe remains unmixed – and then the law of entropy still takes over!

    Yet in a universe maintained by an omnipotent agent, we should be able to expect any and all phenomena, like the spontaneous assemblage of ingredients into a meal, or entropy being reversed. Yet we generally don’t observe such things happening. I wonder why not? Could it be that the universe is governed by unthinking natural regularities, rather than a directing agent? You’re again taking the specific experience of being a natural human agent and making an unwarranted leap to assuming an all-powerful, immaterial agent. You, too, it would seem, have an unbridgeable philosophical gap.

    1. More of your “it’s just there” philosophy. These assertions have been answered. Don’t you recall the Noahic Covenant discussion on the uniformity of nature?

      You need to try and think from within my worldview if you are to answer it well.

      1. Thinking from within your worldview seems to require a great deal of suspension of disbelief, and a great deal of acceptance of things that are “just there” in scripture, even if they don’t match the things that are “just there” in real life.

        You’ve made it clear that you’re unwilling to consider things from outside your religious perspective, so you are demanding that I argue from within your worldview rather than examining it from outside.

      2. Not so. If you will give examples where you think the Bible and reality don’t jive I shall address them.

        I don’t expect you to argue as a Christian and you should not expect me to argue as an atheist.

  12. So let’s compare her assertions of “experience” and then ask whether she or anyone else has ever experienced them occurring.  We do this while remembering the bottom line beliefs she has at her disposal.
    She avers,
    In fact, it is my belief that energy is the fundamental ‘stuff’ of the universe – matter is energy in a different form. We don’t yet know all the possible properties and capabilities of different arrangements of matter and energy, but this is a prompt for further inquiry, not a reason to declare certain things impossible just because we have yet to fully understand them.
    Notice a number of important things in this quote:
    First, note the admission of ignorance regarding “all the possible properties and capabilities of different arrangements of matter and energy.” Due to our finitude humankind does not know everything. In fact, as Einstein often reminded scientists in his day, we know very little of the mysteries of the cosmos and are like little children in a large library filled with books in strange languages. We need to be humble.

    Indeed we do. It simply won’t do to assume that you have access to answers just by imposing your Biblical Worldview onto nature.

    But when we then ask “what, then, is your ultimate authority for knowledge?” the answer we get back from DD is that it is the human mind.
    Not an ultimate authority so much as the only avenue available to us. Even you, with your much-vaunted revelation and Biblical Authority, still need to use your own mind to access and process the ideas and information contained in the Bible.

    What this boils down to is this: for the atheist the human mind is the ultimate criterion of knowledge, but the human mind is finite and limited and is ignorant of very many things. Hence the atheists’ final court of appeal is their own finitude. Yet from this finitude they dogmatize about ultimate reality. As should be obvious, they are caught within the contradiction of having to explain reality from their immanent finite vantage point, and yet also having to admit that they are ignorant regarding much of reality.

    I’ll leave the dogmatising to proponents of religious faith, thanks all the same. We are explaining reality from our limited vantage point, but who are we explaining it to? Us. We are beings that have no choice but to be in this universe and interact with it as we find it. How should we arrive at explanations but through our own faculties?

    Lest it be replied that everyone has the same limitations, it needs to said that atheists like DD have no way out of this predicament. 
    Why do we need a way out of it? When are we going to use our knowledge except in interacting with the world? Where do you imagine we’re going? Oh, that’s right – to an eternal afterlife. Well, get back to me when you have some evidence for that, okay?

  13. For atheists, with their immanent finite starting point for knowing, truth claims are left suspended on air.  By way of comparison the Christian can admit his or her finitude, but can then point for final explanation, not to that finitude (the human mind), but to the transcendent Lord of the Universe who is also present with His creatures and gives them His Word.

    Which you must perceive with your finite human senses and process with your limited human mind.

    What this produces is a clear contrast between ultimate criteria of believer and unbeliever.
    I repeat, for people like DD the human mind is the ultimate standard for knowledge, but this standard is a long way from comprehending a lot of reality.

    Again, not an ultimate standard, but the only one available to us.

    So what happens is, after dispensing with (or rather overlooking) the BW, the unbeliever is stuck with the impossible task of interpreting the world in ways which will never explain it. Thus, the seemingly rational starting point of the atheist ends up becoming mystical in its statements about ultimate reality; “the Great Explanation” as I’ve called it – unless that is, the BW, which gives the explanation, is pilfered for its explanatory materials.

    It’s funny that you speak of being humble, and yet assume so much about other people’s ability to conceptualise reality. The BW’s “explanatory materials” have been found wanting by so many people on so many occasions that it’s no wonder alternatives have been sought. The BW, I’m sorry to have to say, is scarcely worth pilfering. It’s nothing but another form of ‘mystical’, man-made theorising about the nature of the universe. You can’t get away from that.

    This mysticism can be seen, for example, in the assigning of automatically self-ordering, developmental, information-rich properties to matter and energy. (This is much like the reification of the forces of nature by pagan religions who shared the same immanentistic starting point as DD). The trick is to make it sound as if “the Great Explanation” is sustained on the same ‘rational’ sounding footing as the pretended rational starting point. This is accomplished through the skilled use of empty rhetoric (e.g. “evolution found a way”; “beneficial mutations”; “self-generating laws,”; “man does not need God to be moral.”)

    So, basically, what you’re trying to say here is that the way we have observed nature to operate is not the explanation we need in order to understand “ulitimate” reality? Actually, the atheist approach and for that matter, the naturalistic pantheist approach, is qualitatively different from the pagan approach, in that we tend not to assign personal qualities or motivations to entities that don’t display them.

    It’s also a bit low of you to try to attack the language in which natural explanations are proffered to non-scientists. It seems to show a lack of understanding of the processes and uses of language. It’s not an attempt to reify blind natural forces, but to explain them in such a way as to be accessible to people who tend to think in terms of purpose and intention. It’s a bit unfortunate that this has been so often misinterpreted by religionists.

  14. Secondly, notice this statement: “but this is a prompt for further inquiry, not a reason to declare certain things impossible just because we have yet to fully understand them.” She slips in a little jibe about PA declaring some things impossible which are yet unknown to us. This is an attempt at introducing “the god of the gaps” fallacy wherein the believer takes refuge in the retreating areas of our understanding of the universe until he is flushed out by a scientific explanation.

    I should scarcely need to point out to you that in positing god as the necessary connection between concepts and material reality, or whatever else the Biblical god is used to explain, you yourself are adopting a god-of-the-gaps approach, except that your gaps are philosophical rather than strictly scientific.

    But this will not work, for the premise of “the god of the gaps” was built upon the naiveté of some apologists who worked outside the BW by means of natural theology (the belief that certain knowledge of God is attainable through the use of unaided reason without recourse to Scripture). Such a position we utterly repudiate – as did the Reformers.

    And you repudiate it without even realising why it was necessary – because there are so many things for which the Bible has no explanation.

    The impossibility we do insist upon is the impossibility of basing any assertion or value-statement upon solid ground given atheistical (or non-biblical) presuppositions.

    You’re in the same boat, though. Your immaterial god could hardly be called a solid grounding for knowledge or value or truth, either literally or figuratively.

    Keep in mind through all this that I do not and never have claimed absolute knowledge, nor do I think it is possible or even particularly useful to possess such knowledge. I claim only a working model of how the universe works, and that model has thus far proved most useful in accommodating and explaining my experiences in informing my interactions with the rest of the world. Since, however, you do claim access to at least some absolute truths, and continually assert the “impossibility of the contrary”, the onus is firmly on you to actually demonstrate that all possible alternative positions are untenable. Since your worldview relies for its veracity upon the existence and specific “nature” of a supernatural, immaterial, imperceptible entity, I think you’re really got your work cut out for you here, if you’re actually up to the challenge. From what I’ve seen, though, the presupper’s method for attempting this is only to apply an extreme and usually unwarranted scepticism to any and all other world-pictures, and then refuse to apply any scepticism whatsoever to the BW. Seems a little inconsistent, one might venture to suggest, for an apologetic method that places such a high value on consistency.

    1. This once more shows you have not pondered the presuppositional challenge. Indeed, you scarcely seem to have understood it if this comment id anything to go by! How on earth can you accuse someone who has presented the arguments I have of presenting a “god of the gaps”?

      No, you have been given the bases for science, morality etc. but you have ignored them and pretended I didn’t address the issues. I shall show that I did in my summation.

  15. Thirdly, as is a matter-of-course with atheists who put all their faith in science (even though DD says she doesn’t hold to scientism she leaves herself with no epistemology but scientific empiricism), we find the inclusion of ‘the eschatological cop-out’ in this statement. “We don’t yet know…prompt for further inquiry…yet to fully understand..”. As we shall see shortly, this faith in the future, while legitimate within the BW understanding the world, does not comport with an atheistic conception of reality.

    Scientific epistemology is merely a formalisation of what humans instinctively do. We base our decisions – when we actually stop to consider them – on experience and an accumulated store of knowledge built up from experience. We’re also naturally curious, as many mammals, and especially other primates, are. Why should I not suppose there are things we don’t know now that we may yet find out? We might not find them out, of course, but that’s the joy of an unknown future – it’s an open book. It seems that this approach is actually largely invalidated by the BW, which seems to be based around the idea that everything we need to know is already contained in scripture.

    Here is another quote:
    If I put my hand into a fire, thinking that the fire is not really there, or all in my head, will not stop my hand from burning. If I break a limb, I cannot undo the damage by thinking it never really happened. If I am diagnosed with cancer, imagining that there is no tumour in my body will not give me any comfort or be any use in treating the disease.
    We reply, “And if I pretend that immaterial mental laws of logic, morality and information come from inanimate matter am I not deceiving myself too?” Absolutely!

    You’re attempting to compare apples and oranges here. I was endeavouring to elucidate my reasons for supposing that there is a real world that exists independently of my thoughts. Mental laws – or concepts, mental maps of reality – demonstrably do not come from inanimate matter, but from animate matter. This seems like an elementary error to make.

    And this is the presuppositional challenge. The Bible says DD knows God exists deep down (Rom. 1:18-22), but her sinful heart is deceiving her into accepting impossible explanations for this world while looking past the true one.

    Again with the arrogance, after your advocating humility. Inconsistency once more rears its head! But the authors of the various books of the bible had no way of knowing what I think, feel, or believe, so are ill-qualified to make such judgements as you advance here. To say that I know god exists is patently untrue. I have no such knowledge. You are inventing a god – or borrowing other people’s invented god – to attempt a blanket explanation of every possible phenomenon, and, as I said before, that which can be posited as an explanation for anything and everything is, for all practical purposes, an explanation of nothing at all. And claiming I am deceiving myself is nothing but a lame rhetorical device designed to cut off discussion. It’s a trivial matter for me to turn it back on you and claim that you are deceiving yourself into thinking that the BW is right, and you’d have no answer to my claim but to assert the opposite; but it would hardly further the debate for me to do so.

    1. You cannot demonstrate that mental maps etc. derive from animate matter. You have not done so and neither has anyone else. I have a quote from Steven Pinker to this effect but I shall not waste tine with it here.

      Not arrogance DD. Neither I nor the human authors of the Bible are any better than you. I staunchly believe that and the Bible is unequivocal on it. But God has your number whether you cover your ears or not.

  16. Greg Bahnsen used to illustrate this by supposing a debate in which one of the protagonists was arguing against the existence of oxygen while all the while he was breathing it.

    Apples and oranges again. Oxygen can be demonstrated to exist in ways that have nothing to do with breathing it.

    The proof of the veracity of Christian-theism is the impossibility of the contrary.

    Which has not yet been demonstrated, I would remind you. You seem to want to say that you have some special access to knowledge that bypasses perception and experience, and that this knowledge comes from a being whose presence is immune to detection via perception and experience. This is a fantastical claim, and one without logical limitations – I could with equal veracity claim to have special knowledge granted by Zeus, Brahma or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
    You might reply that Biblical scriptures justify your belief in the Judeo-Christian god rather than any of the others, but this is an appeal to physical, perceptible evidence which is subject to interpretation by your all-too-human senses and reason, which are themselves dependent on physical processes. I could quite easily respond that Zeus, Brahma or the Flying Spaghetti Monster would never resort to such crude methods.
    Do you see where this is going?

    1. Bahnsen was illustrating a precondition of intelligibility.

      Where this is going is that you are ignoring my arguments for the biblical establishment and support of science, ethics, history and a host of other things which you WERE given. It is also going into the realms of repeated contradictions of epistemologies, laws of science and ethics and of truth and human significance which you have set forth and I have analyzed. You say (in several places contra yourself in others) that you judge truth via experience but then assert confidently many things which nobody has experienced. Remember those critiques?

      You won’t budge from your position because you have to believe it in order to ignore God. But all my posts have exposed at least one serious defect in your approach. You have deftly sidestepped them, often by the kind of misrepresentation as above (which I addressed way back).

  17. Naturally, the unbeliever will not agree to this, since to agree with it is to take leave of all their precious reasons for unbelief!
    Precious reasons for unbelief? That implies that these reasons are valuable and require constant attention and reinforcement because they are difficult to maintain. On the contrary, my experience is that people who deconvert from Christianity – myself included – spend a lot of mental energy trying to maintain belief in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, before finally giving it up as a bad job. The only way to seriously maintain belief is to battle against a great deal of what makes us human animals.

    But it is not the apologist’s job to convince men against their wills. That may be SOP for Islamists or the Spanish Inquisition, but the Bible never tells us to even contemplate it. When “giving a reason for the hope that is within us” we are to show the God-rejecter that their understanding of reality just doesn’t make any sense of experience, and this is done, in part, by making them epistemologically self-conscious.

    You can continue to assert that an unbeliever has no means of making sense of experience, but you have yet to demonstrate that this is so. Selective application of extreme scepticism doesn’t really cut it.

    She says she still takes the cogito ergo sum  of Rene Descartes as foundational to knowing anything.
    I have no qualms about accepting the cogito as a useful and indeed necessary foundation for proceeding to worldview construction
    How do you go any further if you deny your own existence? If one’s existence cannot technically be established in philosophical terms, then it must be simply assumed in order to proceed. One might legitimately claim that one’s own existence is self-evident, obvious when you think about it, since if it wasn’t, there’d be no-one to be thinking about it in the first place.
    I have already shown why Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” does not get you off the starting-block. But in point of fact, I didn’t need to. DD herself, after insisting on its foundational necessity for knowledge, abruptly precludes the cogito:
    Knowledge, as I indicated in part 1 of my response, is, I think, best described as a relationship of trust and familiarity between the knower and that which is known
    Bypassing the fact that this is a roundabout way of saying that she trusts her brain to interpret her sense-impressions accurately, notice how she is not starting where Descartes started; by doubting everything until he could not doubt that he was doubting.

    Precludes it? Say rather assumes it as a matter of course. What would I be more familiar with than my self? Not much, I’d have to say. I trust my brain to interpret sense-impressions in ways that are useful to my operation as an organism, which whilst they may not necessarily point me in the direction of absolute truths, will tend to point me at practical truths. That and the fact that I have no choice in the matter.

    1. You do not know what you are saying. Read Descartes’ ‘Discourse on Method’! He didn’t start where you start. Therefore for you to say one MUST start with the cogito is ridiculous.

      1. Very well – please explain how it is possible for you to engage in any act of cognition without at least implicitly accepting your existence as a centre of awareness, a thinking entity.

        And sure, Descartes questioned and reasoned his way to the cogito, but in arriving at its formulation, he was surely only clarifying something of which he was already instinctively aware.

  18. (and in this Descartes was just fooling himself. As Roy Abraham Varghese has said, “It would have been more correct to say, ‘I think therefore know that I cannot as a thinking being have come into existence from non-thinking matter.’”).

    No logical connections here. I don’t see how this would be more correct, nor how it follows from the axiom of one’s own existence. At the very least, it cannot be assumed but requires further investigation.

    She is in fact starting by not doubting; a. that she exists and that she can connect with the external world outside her mind, and b. that “that which is known” can, in fact, be called “knowledge” and not just delusion.  Descartes made no such assumption.

    Descartes made a lot of assumptions which I don’t agree with, as I said in a previous post. What’s more, it should be obvious by now that I don’t take the writings of any particular philosopher as authoritative – if I find their ideas useful, I’ll adopt them, but if not, I won’t.

    If what we think we know is a delusion, its nature as such will not be established by simply thinking about it. Philosophers have tried over the centuries to establish the existence of god through reason alone, but without success. After all, if everything I thought about actually existed, it would be a very different world to the one we have! No, if our knowledge is delusion, this will only be discovered by experience of objective realities that do not depend on our thought processes for their existence.


    Experience is the only means we have of establishing whether or not our truth and knowledge claims reflect reality as it is.
    This is rampant empiricism, not Cartesian rationalism. She has booted Descartes into the stands!

    Reasoning must be reasoning about something. Experience is the only means available to us of finding out whether the content of our thoughts corresponds to anything other than the content of our thoughts. Even you, with your implicit rejection of empiricism, must rely upon the physical entity of the Bible for the content of your beliefs.

    So what does “in the beginning hydrogen” or “in the beginning matter and energy” deliver up in the way of a platform for believing in the trustworthiness of our sense-impressions (and so our experiences)?

    A whole lot more than “in the beginning, an omnipotent entity who could make us believe that all truths are lies”. You claim that your god is orderly and morally good and would not lie because it’s not in his ‘nature’ to lie – but there’s nothing stopping him!

    1. “What’s more, it should be obvious by now that I don’t take the writings of any particular philosopher as authoritative – if I find their ideas useful, I’ll adopt them, but if not, I won’t.”

      Very postmodern of you. It explains a lot!

      1. A misdirected gibe if ever there was one. You mean, it appears, to accuse me of relativism, but this is nothing of the kind. If I must reject all of a philosopher’s ideas because there are some that I don’t agree with, or conversely, if I must accept all of a philospher’s ideas because I agree with a few of them, that is mere dogmatism.

        I am quite capable of finding value in ideas without supposing that the source of those ideas is infallible.

  19. Enter David Hume.
    This is no place to start teaching philosophy, but the ultra-empiricist Hume will not allow the atheist to pin all his or her hopes on sense-experiences.

    Yet even Hume could not deny that we do, and instinctively so.

    It was the Scottish philosopher who said:
    “All events seem entirely loose and separate.  One event follows another,but we never can observe any tie between them.”
    Hume reduced all claims to knowledge to the level of impressions upon our five senses.  If one could not trace a knowledge claim back to direct impressions it could not be labeled as true.  But his empiricism was so thorough that he argued that noone ever has an impression or perception of a necessary connection (“tie”) between one event and another.  Every event was discrete and on it’ s own.  Any connection we make is out of habit (e.g. that the ground is wet after rain).  We don’t actually perceive the connections. 

    Hume seems to be doing the same thing with experience that Descartes did with reason. Except that humans are not exclusively rational or exclusively empirical beings – our senses receive information, and our reason processes this information into a holistic picture of the world we live in. Both are necessary to our functioning and building a store of knowledge, but neither works in isolation. If we cannot perceive a connection, but if a series of events is generally observed to follow a certain pattern, we can suppose a connection – at least until such time as the connection is demonstrated not to be there, at which time our senses will have given us a new piece of information that our reason must accommodate into a new explanation.

    And since all I know is my perceptions (impressions), I cannot claim to know, says Hume, that one thing causes another.

    But I can – and humans instinctively do – assume that some things cause other things, until it is proven not to be the case by alternative perceptions. This is the whole point about falsifiability in science. We cannot absolutely state that such-and-such a progression of events is the case, but we can clearly state what is not the case.

    Hence, Hume’s empiricism destroyed causality and so undermined the foundation of science.  In showing where empiricism leads, Hume showed that truth-claims, either about the nature of the Self or about the nature of the world, cannot be sustained upon such a theory of knowledge.  But that is the theory of knowledge used by the atheist!  Recall this statement by DD?
    …but this is a prompt for further inquiry, not a reason to declare certain things impossible just because we have yet to fully understand them.

    And yet the progress of science marches on, with undeniable practical results. It is not always the case that because something can be questioned philosophically, it is invalid in practice. Recall what you must be constantly aware of, despite your belief that you have access to the content of an omniscient mind – that the source of philosophy is human minds, with limited perceptions. Our ability to question things is pretty much unlimited, precisely because our knowledge and awareness are limited. It’s safe to say that the vast majority of humans throughout our history have operated using inductive reasoning, regardless of whether this can be philosophically justified or not. It would be considered eccentric, to say the least, for me to claim that I doubted my own existence whilst continuing to move and perform tasks, or to claim that there was no necessary connection between my applying heat to my food and the food getting cooked.

    1. It’s almost not worth replying any more. You skip tough arguments like they weren’t there and pretend they are not grounded in worldviews.

      I’ll let the readers of these exchanges decide whether you have handled Hume or just ignored him. Is it worth saying that the only way to escape Hume’s dilemma is to go Kant’s route and subjectivize the phenomenal world, or to go the Theistic route and see God as the precondition of intelligibility/ Probably not, but I’ll try.

  20. How can DD inquire into a future she cannot know?  Hume says we can only “know” the past.  We can never “know” what will happen in the future.  But it gets worse.  The person who bases all knowledge on experience has no epistemic right to claim any knowledge about anything in the future.  This is because we cannot sense or test the future.  If one really held to such a worldview why would one do science at all?

    That’s if you take a very narrow view of experience, which I do not. Experience encompasses every interaction between our selves and the rest of the world, not confined merely to direct sensory apprehension, but inclusive of all the processes that go on as we take in and synthesise information from any given source.

    And as it happens, we’re here encountering more of the vagaries of human use of language. When a person claims to know what will happen in the future, they are not making a claim to have direct access to experience of the future – what they mean is that given past experiences, or perhaps past planning, they expect that a certain state of affairs will obtain at such and such a time in the future. Whether we have philosophical justification for thinking this way or not, pretty much every person does, and it turns out that it works, for the most part.


    Naturalism supports the notion that we must have means of relating to and interacting with the rest of the natural world, and that it is by such means that we likewise gain a store of knowledge

    Why “must” naturalism support this theses?

    I didn’t say that it must, only that it does.

    Why would it not even better support the notion that everything is illusory?  That our minds create our reality instead of giving us direct access to it as it really is? (Kant).

    Because naturalism posits the existence of a material reality that is independent of our thoughts about it. This is supported by the fact that we are generally found to be unable to manipulate our experiences just by thinking that what is happening isn’t really happening.


    The fact that we are able to make sense of the world in which we live is a product of our direct relationship with it.
    Again, how dos she know she has a direct relationship with the world given her materialist assumptions?

    Do you deny that you exist in a material world? Do you deny that you observe the effects of your actions, or that other things in the world affect you? If so, how do you operate on a daily basis?

    1. “Because naturalism posits the existence of a material reality that is independent of our thoughts about it. This is supported by the fact that we are generally found to be unable to manipulate our experiences just by thinking that what is happening isn’t really happening.”

      It posits lots of things which it cannot ACCOUNT for. We can all posit things. But if we claim that “this is how reality is” we had better be able to back it up. Christianity can do that, despite your manifest unwillingness to see this. Atheistic naturalism cannot account for what it posits. It takes it for granted without ever explaining how e.g., the firing of neurons can correspond to true states of affairs. How can we control what we think in the way you describe? That would mean mind transcends brain activity….but we’ve been here before and I don’t expect to get an answer.

  21. And even were we to grant this to her, she still has given no explanations.  Cows have a direct relationship with the world, but they don’t reflect upon it.  Why does DD?

    Because my brain is structurally different to and more complex than that of a cow, and because human evolution has taken a different course to bovine evolution.

    And just how is it a “product” of our relationship with the world? What produces it, the firing of synapses in the brain?

    Amongst other things, yes.

    I realize the full implications of this will be lost on the atheist.  But I ask the reader to think about worldviews and their fallout.

    Ironic, considering that you fail to consider many of the logical implications of your worldview, and when questioned, simply fall back on the assertion of the BW’s superiority and the “impossibility of the contrary”.

    They matter.  It is because of the Christian worldview that the West is not like the East in its view of existence (although this foundation is eeking away with the rise of secularism).

    Or, perhaps more accurately, it is the fact that Christianity, with its borrowing from ancient philosophy, set the groundwork for the rise of humanism and the Enlightenment.


    In every relevant sense here, I can then assure my friend that I know the chair will bear her weight.
    – I’m afraid you can’t – not from your position as a naturalistic atheist.  Not if you have a worldview that is strictly empirical and cannot establish cause and effect (Hume), and so can’t account for the uniformity of nature!

    One also doesn’t need to have an ultimate explanation for something in order to be aware of its existence. One has to be able to be aware of it in order to be aware of it, though! Hume would probably not have seriously doubted my claim that a given chair would bear his weight (unless its unsoundness was obvious to his senses), any more than Descartes would seriously have doubted his own existence. Humans characteristically do not behave as beings who doubt their existence or the evidence of their senses.

    Hume’s philosophy, which is so destructive to Christian apologetics of the neutral ground, evidentialist kind, is a positive boon to the presuppositionalist who begins, not with himself, but with the Word of God. 

    Which is not possible for you to do – you must begin with your own awareness of what is claimed to be the word of your god. Unless you are claiming that you yourself are god…

    1. “Or, perhaps more accurately, it is the fact that Christianity, with its borrowing from ancient philosophy, set the groundwork for the rise of humanism and the Enlightenment.”

      You really ought to cease saying things when you don’t know what you are saying. You appear very sure of yourself (“more accurately”), but your track record is poor to say the least.

      For the umpteenth time, the BW explains why I have an awareness of the world outside and why I can trust my perceptions (within limits). The atheist worldview takes this for granted but fails to explain the “why”

  22. Hume demonstrates that our attempted autonomy makes us void the Creator’s explanation of reality and replace it with plastic specimens which collapse in on themselves into futility.

    I think you’re still missing the point of my discourse. It scarcely matters whether I can ‘account’ for material reality and human behaviour in terms of finding some ultimate, transcendent explanation for these things. Temporal explanations work well enough. We suppose cause and effect relationships between material entities, because such relationships explain what we observe. We don’t directly observe atoms or gravity, but we suppose their existence because of other observations. Either cause and effect relationships exist or they don’t, but if they don’t, it’s remarkable that our observations are always of patterns of events that suggest such relationships.


    The simplicity of the naturalist’s worldview is to draw conclusions on the basis of evidence…
    I mean no disrespect, but the word “simplicity” deserves to be replaced by “simplistic”.  Notice the inference here.  The “evidence” is just there waiting to speak to us.   But evidence is subject to interpretation, and interpretations are influenced, indeed often determined, by our larger constructions of reality.

    And yet there is a great deal of experience that precedes our ability to rationalise it or build a world-picture from it. We know that we are inclined to interpret information in certain ways, depending upon how we already view the world. This is why, for example, there are safeguards built into the scientific method to correct for subjective bias. They don’t always work, of course, but they’re there.

    We make the facts speak – they have no voice without our interpretation. In the BW the facts are there because in one way or another God in His providence puts them there. This means they are pre-interpreted, not by us, but by God.

    Okay. I think I see what you’re doing here. You’re trying to justify doing exactly what you’ve accused empiricists of doing. You think that because you imagine a god who ‘preinterpreted’ everything, that it’s okay for you to simply conform to that interpretation to the exclusion of all others. Your worldview is epistemologically closed. I have never claimed that facts are not subject to interpretation. What I claim is that the material world exists, and we exist within it. What we experience is experienced from our own human perspective, and interpreted accordingly. I don’t claim a cosmic justification for doing this – I claim a temporal justification in view of the fact that, as I’ve said several times now, we have no other options.

    Our job is to know the facts as God knows them to the best of our ability. Thus, in the BW there is no such thing as a brute fact.

    But you claim your god as a brute fact.

    In the atheist worldview there is no Mind behind the course of events; all things derive from mindless matter. There is no telos or purpose and thus no “reason” behind why they are there. Evidence just sits there waiting for someone to interpret it in any number of ways.  In DD’s outlook on the world, we are “not to assume that ultimate conclusions have been preordained and to interpret the world to fit those conclusions.”

    That pretty much sums it up.

    1. “I think you’re still missing the point of my discourse. It scarcely matters whether I can ‘account’ for material reality and human behaviour in terms of finding some ultimate, transcendent explanation for these things. Temporal explanations work well enough.”

      No, I get it. It boils down to what you choose. Whether it be philosophy, or about God and the Bible, or history, or presuppositoonalism, it’s what You want it to be.

      This sentence reveals that you have avoided my arguments and still cling to your contradictory and unintelligible outlook.

      “But you claim your god as a brute fact.”

      I do? Where? I claim that God is the greatest most eloquent fact in reality actually.

  23. Here we see that by refusing to acknowledge the Creator and Conditioner (though not fatalistically so) of the world she is left with a world of contingent facts which she is unable to give final interpretations of.
    I am also not assuming that there is an inscrutable, immaterial and inexplicable entity responsible for all the things we observe in nature. There are a plethora of observed facts about the natural world which, if we posit a designer with a purpose, lead us to the conclusion that the designer was either incompetent or malevolent – neither of which I think you’d be willing to allow as characteristics of your god.

    Let me highlight a few problems here which DD, like all atheists, just breezes past.
    1. Please notice how familiarity with the wonder of living and understanding things has led to her simply taking it as another brute fact.  We see to understand a universe which does not nor never will reciprocate.  Yet this same lifeless, brainless, and aimless universe is believed more logically to have produced our life and understanding than God?

    I’m not sure what your point is here. Reciprocation is not a precondition for understanding. I don’t expect the books I read to actually talk back to me, nor do I expect my dog to achieve more than a crude understanding of my actions – neither of these things preclude my attempts to understand literature or canine behaviour.

    2. Our reason “was born and grew up in this universe…”  Notice the reification of nature here.  Ascribing living predicates to the non-living material which she says put us together.

    I find it difficult to believe that a Bible-believer does not understand the difference between figurative language and reification. However, you are a biblical literalist, are you not? That might explain it.

    3. We are “natural beings” – presumably she means we are products of natural causes alone – but we “respond” to and “perceive nature.”  But that makes us different than mere matter in motion!  Nature is not sentient.  It does not “perceive” itself and reflect upon its purpose and existence.  It does not “experience” anything.

    Nature is nature. The universe is everything that exists. It has conscious elements – namely us and certain other living beings – as well as unconscious elements. But at our core, we’re all made of the same stuff, hence we are natural beings. Just because you choose to ascribe certain human behaviours to the existence of an immaterial soul does not mean they cannot better be explained by the organised motion of matter and energy. Your presuppositions are leading you to reject possible explanations for things we do not yet understand. You claim that you already do understand, but your claim is largely empty – you are glossing over difficulties rather than tackling them.

    1. “There are a plethora of observed facts about the natural world which, if we posit a designer with a purpose, lead us to the conclusion that the designer was either incompetent or malevolent.”

      This is actually a decent argument (dysteleology). It has nothing to do with whether or not God exists, but it is understandable. It is answered by two observations: 1. the Fall (which I can’t go into here), 2. faulty identification by evolutionists (e.g. the panda’s thumb, junk DNA) due to the blinker’s they have on.

      I do not reject naturalistic explanations when they explain suitably. No creationist or ID proponent does. And of course we’re all made of the same stuff. It was a Christian who discovered that!

      You have presented no difficulties that I have not “tackled.” You however…..

  24. What then would cause an otherwise intelligent person to believe such things as this?  I submit again that the clue is not far away.  “For the carnal mind is hostile toward God.” (Romans 8:7).  I shall continue in the language of the Apostle Paul:
    “For the wrath of God etc…” – Romans 1:18-22, 25.
    Been there, done that!  I mean no insult to DD, whom I have enjoyed interacting with, but this is the Bible’s diagnosis, which, as a Bible-believer, I agree with.

    So you are more inclined to trust the words of a pre-scientific theologian regarding my feelings and motivations than anything I might have to say on the subject. I wonder why I even bother with discussion!

    One final quote for today:
    The exercise of human reason requires no further presuppositions – everything else follows from this.
    Translation: Human “reason” is just there so I don’t need to account for it.  I can construct any worldview I like regardless of whether or not I can use to make any sense of human reason or experience.

    I have been engaged in making sense of human reason and experience in light of a naturalistic perspective, but you have refused to accept any of my explanations because you are in the business of denying the validity of any world-picture other than your own. You think that your god’s existence simply establishes the basis for human reason and leave it at that, without thinking through the implications of your god’s existence. Naturalism has an explanation for both the evolution of human reasoning ability and for all the less attractive qualities of humans and the rest of nature that are problematic for the theist. Hey, naturalism even has a workable explanation for the origins of religious thought and belief, but I don’t expect you’d buy that either.

    1. Your writings give you away DD. Your antipathy towards God (proper capitalization) is plain enough. I think Paul is right about you.

      You say you have been “making sense” of reality “in light of a naturalistic perspective” but I assure you you have only produced nonsense. Your explanations contradict experience and the natural laws which you ought to adhere to tenaciously.

  25. Every person is their own proximate starting point.  But then they are under obligation to construct an interpretation of existence which explains this proximate starting point.  Atheists never depart from their own ignorance.

    Your claim about atheists here is laughable, in view of your own dogged adherence to ancient folklore.

    They are stuck with no building plan for the world they live in.  They tell stories about evolving life from non-life and the eternity of matter, and conscious freedom being secured by the laws of physics, but they never demonstrate how this can be and they never live out their professed worldview.  This is why they make truth-claims which they cannot sustain within their worldview.

    Positing a real, material world imbued with natural regularities – the latter of which, as I mentioned before, must exist in some form even before your god could think or act or even exist – allows us to explain not only our experiences, but why we instinctively construct mental maps of reality on the basis of sensory experience – I’m not sure what else you expect from any belief system.

    For the Christian (not the generic or nominal variety of which there are all too many), the starting-point for comprehending themselves, their world; its marvels and its “fallenness” is God – the Triune God of Scripture. The God who made the world for Himself and who has not given upon it, nor on those like myself and Dormant Dragon who live brief lives on it.

    And as I’ve said before, you can’t start with the god of scripture – you have no option but to start with your own existence and ability to apprehend and interpret scripture before you can get to god. Nor does the ‘fallenness’ of nature make sense if one posits an all-powerful being who could have made the world differently at a stroke, at no cost to itself.

  26. See again how the problems (like abiogenesis) are sidestepped! You write: “Your claim about atheists here is laughable, in view of your own dogged adherence to ancient folklore.”

    Well, I wasn’t calling you or other atheists ignorant as a name-call. You have admitted your ignorance. You have demonstrated it too unfortunately! My point was only that your worldview takes things for granted which it cannot give explanations for. What you pass off as explanations are specimens of blind scientism. They do not explain, they imagine – often in the face of the laws of science themselves.

    Ancient folklore? Will that be the last of these silly assertions? I hope so.

    I have indulged you in answering these comments out of respect. Next time I ask you to either keep your comments short and to the point or else publish them at your site.

    Regards,

    Paul

  27. DD, no offense but I have removed your further comments because they better belong on your blog (as did the long list above). I recommend readers to read your blog entries to make sure they are not missing what you have said. They miss the point entirely as usual. Some are mere rants against a theology you know little to nothing about. Others put words in my mouth and/or misrepresent what I have argued, while others repeat your contention that you have shown how thoughts correspond with brain chemistry directly when, as anyone can see, you have proved no such thing.

    I have saved your comments to a Word doc and would be happy to forward them to you for your blog, but my comments section is clogged enough (this is why I suggested blog to blog replies in the first place).

    Your comments will be considered when I post 2.3. You are welcome to add a comment or two when that is posted but I believe it would be better if you have a lot to say (see above) if you sent me a link to your blog when you write a response.

    Regards,

    Paul

    P.S. the Midgeley piece was referred to show that even some evolutionists see the reification problem!

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