Response to Cubik’s Rube

(I don’t know why the text in this post is so small.  Actually, I have an idea of what I did wrong, but I don’t know why I can’t change it.  I apologize for any squinting that must be done.)

I had every intention of posting this on Cubik’s Rube’s blog in the comments section but, as I am want to do, I just wrote too much for that to be viable.  This is a conversation that started on “Banned from Atheist A Go-Go!” and continued with a post on his blog.  I don’t actually expect anyone to read this or to be following our conversation (if you don’t read his last post on his blog you’ll be lost), this is mainly to provide a clear format with which Cubik can read my response.  However, I find this conversation interesting and worth reading/carrying on because Cubik is a good, thoughtful writer and brings up some important objections to the Christian worldview and defenses of the atheistic worldview.  Cubik

First of all, I don’t think “false dichotomy” is the logical fallacy you’re trying to accuse me of.”

Hmm, perhaps you are correct.  I’m talking about the claim of being able to interpret facts that lead to a “no God” conclusion without using “no God” as a presupposition.  Perhaps I am saying you are equivocating the word “conclusion”, or like you said, disregarding/denying a premise.

Whatever it’s called, your point seems to be that my godless worldview is one I’m working from by default, a priori…Which, to an extent, is true.”

Thank you for being honest about this.  Most atheists I’ve talked to wouldn’t even admit this much and would blindly continue to use this a priori, denying it all the way.  I never said doing this was “bad”, just that everyone should recognize they are doing it.

But only to the extent that any worldview is a construction by which we interpret and understand everything we see. As you’ve said, belief in God is similarly a presupposition, which affects the way you see the world.”

Exactly and yes.

“Or, you could use “no Zeus”, or “no Flying Spaghetti Monster”, and these would be just as true. These are things that I imagine you and I both generally assume to be true . . .”

True.  I see where you are going with this and I’ll object when you get there.

” Even though everything has to go through our squishy human brains for processing, there are things we can do to try and increase the efficacy with which we approximate reality, and move our understanding closer to what’s actually going on.”

True.  But that “increasing the efficacy” isn’t even close to “brute facts”.

“The world doesn’t need us to observe it in order to carry on doing its thing; whatever the physical laws that keep the world moving are, they are there, regardless of whether we notice or understand them.”

I even disagree with this (in a certain sense) but that’s not what we’re talking about so I’ll let it go.  We are talking about “meaning”.  So the physical laws exist, ok, what does that mean?  An atheist, with their “no God” presupposition would say, “Well the physical laws are just what came about as a result of the unknown, random beginning of the universe,”  while a Christian would say, “God designed those laws to work together, and hold the universe together, like they do.”  Both conclusions come directly out of “physical laws exist.”  So, then, what is the point of discussion?

This is the MAIN QUESTION:  What worldview is able to explain the natural laws?

Keep in mind that this is the main question I’m asking, this is what I’m discussing.

My lack of belief in the Christian God is a default position, just like your lack of belief in Thor, or in the Invisible Pink Unicorns, or in my ability to turn cheese into polonium with the power of my mind. Most of these are probably things you’ve never thought to seriously consider, and your experience of the world is unaffected by the possibility that any of them might be real, but that doesn’t mean you’re seeing things in an unreasonably biased way.”

Ok, you got there and now I’ll disagree.  You are taking the Michael Shermer/Richard Dawkins approach and equivocating the word “God”.  “God” in the sense of the Judeo/Christian Elohim about whom all the stories are written, and therefore can be technically classified in literature as “myth” stories equal with Thor and Osiris, is NOT what we are talking about.  We are talking about God in the sense of an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator God who I am claiming explains the origin of the universe . . .

In fact, let me bring in your other point because it all ties together . . .

“Your second reason given for being a Christian is that “any other position just doesn’t make any sense”. Presumably (though do clarify if I’m getting it wrong) this means that an atheistic worldview doesn’t seem to match up so well with your experiences.”

I will clarify.  I didn’t actually explain myself here, so I didn’t expect you to get it right.  This ties in with my “main question”:  What worldview is able to explain the natural laws?  Put another way, what worldview can ACCOUNT for the uniformity of nature?  My claim is that no other worldview besides the Christian worldview can account for the uniformity of nature (several other phenomena could be inserted in place of “the uniformity of nature” and I’d make the same argument).  Let me elaborate:

Let’s say you were arguing with someone who believed that Odin (the norse god of Thor) created the universe.  All you’d have to do is point out that Odin (if I remember correctly) isn’t all powerful (based on the Norse religious texts or myths) and therefore couldn’t create the universe in which he dwells, and that person’s argument falls apart. 

Similarly, right now, you are arguing with someone who claims that the universe was created and is sustained by an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator God who revealed Himself to us in His Word.  Some of the things He told us about Himself is that He Created the universe and sustains it and “saw that it was good”.  The point is this, wether or not my statements are “true” in your worldview is irrelevant to the question at hand.  An all-powerful Creator God who said He sustains the universe absolutely allows the Christian to explain our sense experience, to explain the apparent uniformity of nature. 

The atheist worldview, on the other hand, is built on a chance universe.  The beginning of the universe was a completely random occurence and the phenomena we observe with our senses are a chance construction.  They exist because that’s just how they ended up.  Our existence is also based on a random role of the biochemical dice.  Random is the opposite of law-like.  A random universe cannot explain absolute laws such as the uniformity of nature.  It doesn’t make any sense that a random, unguided beginning would somehow lead to absolute, universal laws.  And yet, that’s what we see around us.  All of our sense experience tells us that nature is uniform.  The atheistic universe cannot explain our sense experience, cannot account for the uniformity of nature.

“Is your belief in God similarly based on circular reasoning, or have you taken that position based on what you consider to be the most likely truth about the world?”

The only way to account for/explain the uniformity of nature, morality, universals in general and human dignity is with the Christian worldview.  But we’re only discussing the first one.  If this wasn’t so I wouldn’t believe in Christianity. 

“Doesn’t your belief filter everything that you experience in the same way? Don’t you use it as a basis for anything new you experience, because you consider it so well-established that it doesn’t need to be constantly questioned?”

Absolutely.  However, the Christian’s ability to explain the most basic assumptions of being human makes Christianity a viable worldview while the atheists inability to account for those same assumptions forces the atheist to borrow the idea of an orderly universe, which is inconsistent with correct atheism.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Discussion

Tags: , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

12 Comments on “Response to Cubik’s Rube”

  1. Nathan Says:

    Just wanted to say I find this discussion between you and Cubiks to be interesting and an intellectually healthy discourse. Both of you are doing a fair job of avoiding logical fallacies and getting to the underlying axioms and presuppositions that are at the heart of your belief systems.

    Also the notion of the importance of having a worldview that can explain the natural uniformity of the universe is an interesting perspective on which we all in some sense form the basis of our beliefs. These types of debates can be engaging and useful in understanding our own beliefs and the beliefs of others.

    I am actually really disappointed that Gregory banned you from his blog. Banning you from his blog shows an unwillingness to discuss the ideas and a clear decision not to explore his own understanding of the issues. You weren’t getting belligerent and I have confidence that should he have told you to stop posting that you happily would have. I agree that it was his blog and he has the full right to do what he wants there but his decision seems to me an example of discarding your opinions to quickly as being unimportant.

    Anyhow, I admit I don’t have much useful to add to this discussion right now partly because I think the issues being debated really do stem from fundamentally different perspectives that likely will never be / can’t be reconciled without one side essentially discarding the presuppositions for which their life so far has been founded.

    I am interested to see how it progresses.

  2. Cubik's Rube Says:

    Hey – not ignoring you here, honest guv, but haven’t quite found the time to say anything about this yet. If I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting to have to think about my answer quite this much, as there’s a few interesting points there, more developed than I’ve often seen it, but I’ll order my thoughts soon.

    Quick preview (and spoiler alert): turns out I’m still right. 😛

  3. Eric Kemp Says:

    Cubik

    No worries, the post was quite long and alittle meaty. I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to think through the discussion and take your time responding. I’d much rather have that than the alternative.

    “Quick preview (and spoiler alert): turns out I’m still right.”

    I must admit the laugh you gave me at this one. Not at the prospect that you think you’re right, but at the structure by which you admit it. Spoiler alert . . . pretty good stuff.

  4. Eric Kemp Says:

    Nathan

    Firstly, thanks for your encouragement and kind words about our discussion.

    “Also the notion of the importance of having a worldview that can explain the natural uniformity of the universe is an interesting perspective on which we all in some sense form the basis of our beliefs.”

    I agree. I would consider a worldview that can’t explain the basis of science not a worldview worth subscribing to. In other words, it’s not a logically viable worldview.

    “You weren’t getting belligerent and I have confidence that should he have told you to stop posting that you happily would have.”

    Thank you and yes, I would have left cordially. In fact, that’s what I was attempting to do. I admittedly would have given a parting shot of “well, making statements but not wanting to defend them is irrational”, but I would have left none-the-less.

    “I think the issues being debated really do stem from fundamentally different perspectives that likely will never be / can’t be reconciled without one side essentially discarding the presuppositions for which their life so far has been founded.”

    I agree they stem from fundamentall different perspectives, but I don’t think they can’t be reconciled. The reason for this, and the moral of the discussion, is that the atheist does NOT follow their own worldview. This is shown by the fact that atheists DO believe that nature is uniform and use absolutes every day, even outside of science. If they followed their own worldview correctly, they couldn’t expect nature to be uniform or for ANYTHING to be absolute, and yet they do. They are, in essense, stealing from the Christian worldview to believe nature is uniform in order to use science. Denying that they are doing so all the while.

  5. Nathan Says:

    Thanks for responding Eric. As I said I do enjoy reading your blog and your perspective on this issue. I apologize if I have missed your explanation (or if that is not the issue at hand) but I am interested in your thoughts on other religions apart from Christianity that would be able to explain uniformity sufficently.

    Let me be specific why I am curious. It seems to be and (correct me if I am wrong) but you not only subscribe to the notion that a god can explain the uniformity of the universe but that specifically the christian worldview and the god of Abraham is somehow *uniquely* able to explain this uniformity in the universe.

    Perhaps you just haven’t come to explain this point yet or I have naively missed it but imagining that an atheist Joe has actually come to accept that you are correct that his worldview is relying on the concept of uniformity. At this point, Joe finally realizes his error and strives to become theist because the argument that a god explains uniformity through intelligent design is too compelling to rationally resist.

    My question is at this point for Joe what exactly would really compel him (keep him mind he was just atheist so he’s probably ‘stubbornly’ fixed on rational evidence all his life) to choose Christianity over any of the other religions of the world.

    Basically, what would distinguish for Joe the fact that not only an ID must exist but that specifically the Christian God and all the accompanying mythology. Why shouldn’t Joe become Muslim or Hindi or Bahá’í or any of the other popular religions today.

    I am not asking this in a devious or malicious way, I am honestly curious because that seems to be where I am finding a Gap in the argument. In other words, wouldn’t any number of different gods with any number of different attributes be able to explain the uniformity of nature?

  6. Eric Kemp Says:

    Nathan

    “It seems to be and (correct me if I am wrong) but you not only subscribe to the notion that a god can explain the uniformity of the universe but that specifically the christian worldview and the god of Abraham is somehow *uniquely* able to explain this uniformity in the universe.”

    So you caught that huh? I am actually surprised it took this long for someone to find this gap in my argument and ask me about it. Yes, I believe the Christian God is unique in this respect, the belief in Him being able to allow the Christian to account for the uniformity of nature.

    I have not explained this yet and was wondering when was the best time to get there, planning on doing so. I was actually debating about what subject I would post next on and your question has decided it for me. As I want to do the subject justice, I can’t promise I will publish it tonight but I’m looking forward to making a good case for Elohim. I’m also looking forward to discussing this with you.

    Fantastic question btw.

  7. Sirius Says:

    ugh. The laughable FSM dodge again. I’ve addressed this particular tactic in two separate posts:

    http://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/2008/04/14/russells-invisible-flying-pink-spaghetti-unicorn-monster-teapot/

    http://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/2008/04/02/why-the-only-rational-atheist-is-an-oxymoron/

    Why do they keep using this one?

    Here’s my beef: It equates a belief in God with something ELSE they consider fanciful or fallacious. i.e. — it presupposes that God and those things they associate with God [leprechaun, sky fairies, invisible pink unicorns, the noodly one, etc] are figments of our imagination and then pretends as if this argument somehow proves that presupposition. In actuality, they’ve only conceded the point that you can’t disprove the existence of God. Ironically, I could use the same tactic in regards to evolution [ala’ common descent]. I could, in other words, sneer, “Prove evolution hasn’t happened? Nay, YOU prove there is no evolution, or no FSM or no leprechauns or no special and unobservable spontaneous abiogenesis while you’re at it!” It’s a creative dodge, especially since it tries to move the goalpost, but it’s easily stripped of its facade of legitimacy.

    –Sirius Knott

  8. cubiksrube Says:

    I think there are almost certainly irreconcilable differences between the parties in a discussion like this; the interesting part is in finding out where those differences actually are, because often it turns out there’s actually a lot of agreement and common ground to dig through before you reach the part where people are just taking a fundamentally different approach.

    Anyway – I started trying to work out a response to this, but got side-tracked and ended up rambling on a topic I’ve been meaning to cover for a while, namely some more on atheism as a belief system, and the nature of the claims that atheists are making.

    It’s peripherally related to this, and goes some way to addressing your assertion that apparently atheists need to claim that the laws of nature arose from an “unknown, random beginning of the universe”, but the main problem with what you’ve written here that I’d like to elaborate on is probably better directed at your more recent post defending Christianity specifically. So, I might give that a try instead.

    Would you mind listing a few of the other phenomena that could replace “the uniformity of nature” in making the argument that Christianity is the only worldview that can explain things? I’m not convinced so far, but it might be good to address some of the others at the same time, to get more of an idea of where you’re coming from.

  9. Eric Kemp Says:

    Cubik

    “Would you mind listing a few of the other phenomena that could replace “the uniformity of nature” in making the argument that Christianity is the only worldview that can explain things?”

    Sure, these will be a VERY brief description of each and it will hopefully allow you to pick one you’d like to tackle if you’re not comfortable taking the “uniformity of nature” one.

    1. Atheism cannot explain universal morality. Atheistic individuals use universal morals, and universal comparisons in general, to decide “right” and “wrong” everyday. In fact, they use these universal comparisons to decide anything. However, since matter is all that exists, and this matter came about randomly, with no laws governing matter, the atheist cannot say that universals exist while at the same using them every day. Morally speaking, the atheist may say something like “morality comes from our culture/morality is subjective” but that’s not how they use it or live their lives.

    2. Atheists cannot explain human dignity. Why do we perform funerals? What’s the point? If we’re just slightly smarter monkeys, and monkeys do nothing of the sort for their dead, where did we get the idea? Dignity couldn’t have evolved as it is not a positive evolutionary adaptation, in fact I could make a good argument for the opposite.

    3. Atheists cannot explain personal freedom. Where do we get the idea that we have free will? If our brain is nothing but biochemistry, then aren’t we just matter reacting to biochemistry? Where would we get the ideal that we some how ARE NOT slaves to this biochemistry? The atheist must steal the Christian ideal of free will in order to believe that we have any choice of our own not dictated to us by brain juices.

    So, feel free to pick one and we can discuss one of those three, or the uniformity of nature, on this discussion board or on your blog. Either way is good for me.

  10. Kevin Says:

    Hey there, ever thought about leaving an email address?

  11. Kevin Says:

    Good stuff you got here. I was drawn to your site by an atheist posting on a Mormon forum. He seems to think your opponent has actually plagiarized his other arguments. You might be interested in this: http://www.mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7243

  12. Eric Kemp Says:

    Kevin

    Thanks alot for the heads up, that’s an interesting discussion you’ve got going there. He’s a bit belligerent and you’re handling it well. I’ll jump in if I’ve got the time.

    Eric

    My email address is ekemp@intelligentscience.org


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: