Over on JT Eberhart’s blog, he’s starting a debate with theist Isaac Flemming. So far, he’s posted the opening statements from Flemming and… holy shit, what a load of crap! Now I’ve largely given up following online debates, especially if I’m not directly involved, but this was such a load of manure I had to take apart the opening statement for myself and expose all of the bad logic, irrational and unsupported claims and blind fanaticism that Flemming displays. It’s no wonder atheists roll their eyes at theists if this is the best they can come up with.
I’m going to quote specific sections of the opening post, to follow the debate as it progresses, please visit WWJTDO.net.
Before we get looking at specifics, I want to point out that Flemming makes absurd statements about the existence of God in the first few paragraphs, simply asserting that God is real without a shred of evidence. He doesn’t even pretend to be objective, he doesn’t act like he’s going to demonstrate anything, he simply states it as if it’s a proven fact. This tends to be the case with fundamentalist Christians who cannot imagine that their deity isn’t real so they don’t even entertain the possibility, they simply declare victory from the get-go.
1. Origen – God is the best explanation for the universe. The argument is as follows. 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause, 2. The universe began to exist, 3. Therefore the universe has a cause. This cause I call God. An eternal universe breaks down with the laws of thermodynamics. A multi-verse does not seem to be proven as of yet, and if it were it would not take God out of the picture. I think that God created the universe, which is backed up by the outset argument of this paragraph. It was created with a purpose, by an all intelligent being. To further back up this idea we could say that from nothing, nothing comes. We can clearly see that the universe had a beginning and was not always here, therefore how does something come from nothing. There is also intelligence from the outset. How does intelligence come from non-intelligence? If there is no intelligent being of some kind in the cause, how can we expect the same in the effect?
At first, I wasn’t sure what Flemming was talking about, was he referring to early Christian apologist Origen? It turns out that he just can’t spell, as becomes painfully obvious as the post continues. He means “origin”. Regardless, he’s simply wrong. We now know, due to quantum field theory, that quantum particles begin to exist without a cause all the time. The whole idea of “I will call this God” is fine, I suppose. Call it Frank for all I care. Simply taking a word that has an existing meaning and applying it to a different thing doesn’t make the two equivalent. Unfortunately, that kind of thing is very common. Theists will take something they don’t understand, slap the label “GOD” on it and then start applying attributes from one religious tradition or another to their labeled concept. “I don’t get where the universe came from, it had to have come from somewhere. I’ll call that God, now I’ll tell you all the things God wants us to do…” It’s absurd.
2. Meaning – I think objective meaning exists, and is best explained by the existence of God. If there was no ultimate objective meaning from the outset, then how can there be any ultimate meaning to this existence now? From the point of view that God exists, there is meaning from the outset therefore ultimate meaning is an actual reality. It stands outside of ourselves which gives it objectivity. Atheism does not give a good explanation here. In my own discussions some say there is no actual objective meaning. Others provide subjective personal examples of what is meaningful to them. Yet, this is not ultimate or objective. It is subjective, and again how does meaning and purpose come about if there was not meaning and purpose to our coming about in the first place?
Again, he simply asserts something without a shred of evidence. Why is God the best explanation when you cannot even demonstrate God is real? Why is Cthulhu not the best explanation? He doesn’t say. Of course, he answers his own question here, there is no objective meaning from the outset and there is no ultimate meaning to this existence now. Meaning is a purely subjective concept but theists like Flemming are uncomfortable with the concept so they insist that there has to be some all-encompassing importance to reality handed down from on high. It’s a fallacious concept from the get-go, one that I’ve pointed out many times, but for most theists, emotional comfort and ego-stroking are far more important than factual reality. Flemming acknowledges that he’s encountered the idea that there is no meaning, yet simply rejects it out of hand because it’s too difficult for his fragile little mind to deal with.
3. Morality – Objective morals exist which is best explained by the existence of a good God. Therefore Christianity has the best ontological argument for the existence of morals. If absolute moral values exist then God exists. Absolute moral values do exist, therefore God does exist. The idea that God exists provides the framework for looking at moral evils that happen in society and actually calling them for what they are. This does not mean there are no sticky issues, but it does mean there is an absolute objective standard, where as in atheism there is subjectivity. Now, this does not mean that some of the same conclusions cannot be reached about morality. I am not saying that an atheist cannot do good things. This is clearly not what Christianity says. The point is that the Christians have a way of grounding them.
The argument from morality is horribly flawed and entirely ignores every shred of evidence we have. What he’s posting is known as Euthyphro’s Dilemma, a well-known problem with his statements. In order to call God moral, we must already have an idea of what morality is, thus meaning that morals cannot come from God. The above is simply circular, we get X from Y but to know that Y has X, we must already have X. Once again, Flemming is demanding something is true because he can’t emotionally handle the consequences if it is not.
4. Destiny (What happens after death?) – I think that life after death exists, which shows that there is true destiny. In the end if atheism is true, it has a real sense that what was done on this earth did not matter. Now, I know the atheist tries to rescue this, but it is foreign to the worldview. If there was no meaning to existence in the outset and there is no ultimate purpose or meaning to the end of life, then life has no ultimate meaning or purpose. One is left with the temporal purposes, which may have its perks, but meaning is not central or ultimate to atheism. If in the end there is nothing, morality is undercut as well. Destiny makes sense if God exists, which makes one’s life having meaning in the outset as well as what comes after.
Destiny? What has any of this to do with destiny? If we’re going to talk about real destiny, as in predestination, we get to a major problem with some brands of Christianity. If we’re all predestined to do certain things, there goes free will and without free will, there’s no need for salvation because we’re all either saved or damned from day one and nothing any of us can do can change that. However, he really means an afterlife and there’s simply no evidence that such a thing exists. Flemming is, as if anyone is surprised, still operating from the premise that his emotional comfort is important. In fact, Flemming really shoots himself in his theistic foot by trying to reverse an argument on atheists that is really only true of theists. If theism is true, then nothing done on this earth matters, we’re only here wasting our time until we die and go on to an eternity elsewhere. Who cares what we do here in that case? Pollute the planet, shoot each other, it doesn’t matter because our true eternal life lies elsewhere, entirely unaffected by what happens on earth. For the atheist though, since this is the only life we know that we have, the only thing that matters is what we do here. It’s no wonder Flemming is so laughable, he doesn’t even understand his own arguments.
5. Truth: Objective truth that can be known makes the most sense if God exists. This leads me to the validity of reasoning itself, which seems better explained by the existence of a rationale mind rather than the result of non-rationale processes. It is hard to think that rationale can be valid from non-rationale causes; therefore a rationale super intellect makes more sense of one’s valid rationality.
Flemming doesn’t define what he means by objective truth. Now I do think that objective fact exists, that the universe functions in a certain way that we can discover, that what is, actually is, and what is not, is not. Truth and fact are not necessarily the same thing though. As far as I’m concerned, fact is objective by nature and truth is more subjective. Therefore, it’s hard to know how to respond to this statement because I don’t know how it’s intended. Ill-defined “truth” claims and blind statements about “God” really leaves little to respond to.
6. Jesus Christ claimed to be God, and backed it up with a resurrection in time and space history. The best explanation for the resurrection story is that it actually happened. I think his resurrection was an actual miracle which is proof for the validity of the Christian religion most specifically that God exists. One may not grant miracles, but they cannot use their ideology to discount it, it must be discounted by what evidence there is itself. One cannot just say miracles do not exist, because they have to prove this, not assume it. Which I think trying to prove the resurrection actually wrong, is a tall order.
Ah yes, more fallacies. One does not have to prove something does not exist, it rests entirely on the shoulders of the positive claimant, in this case the believer in miracles, to prove that they do. If they fail to do so, then we have no obligation to accept them as true. Let’s deal with his statements here one at a time. Jesus did not demonstrably claim to be God because Jesus left no direct evidence of his own existence. He didn’t write anything down himself, at best we have second or third hand accounts that he supposedly said some things. There’s no reason to think that the Jesus, as described in the Bible, ever actually lived. Secondly, Jesus didn’t back anything up with a resurrection because there’s no evidence it ever happened at all. It’s about as ridiculous as saying the best explanation for Judgement Day from the Terminator movies is that it actually happened. Then he leaps back into the classic Christian canard, “you can’t prove me wrong, therefore I must be right!”
I don’t mean to pick on Flemming really, he’s no more ignorant than most Christians, but let’s be honest, that’s pretty damn ignorant. He’s clearly never actually thought about any of these claims, he just regurgitates them ad nauseum because he’s been taught not to question his blind faith. I’ve seen comments that picking on Flemming is like kicking a dog with no legs, it’s way too easy and accomplishes nothing. I’m not the one who came up with the weak arguments though, I’m not the one who suggested a debate with the opposing side and I’m not the one who made such a poor showing. I have no idea where this debate is going to go, I have a feeling that Eberhart is going to wipe the walls with poor Flemming and I can’t say that Flemming doesn’t deserve the ass kicking he’s likely to receive. I don’t think for a second that it’ll make Flemming’s tiny, deluded mind open for a moment and consider the possibility that he’s wrong. That almost never happens. He’ll just limp away, thinking he’s somehow won and take his claims, entirely intact, on to the next debate, certain in his delusion that he can’t possibly be wrong no matter how badly he loses.
Religion is the ultimate mind killer. Too bad so many people are trapped in it’s delusions.