The author of the blog I’ve been commenting on, Ben, has chosen not to post my last response. I offered to post it on my blog if he wished to respond to it and now it’s here! Ben has said that “I’m trying to set a tone[at his blog] that will be comfortable for family and friends to interact without being intimidated.” Which seems indicate I’m too intimidating and that he wishes to not expose his friends and family to much that could dare make them question their beliefs. That is completely understandable and happens on pretty much every blog based on Christian apologetics there is. The apologist wants his fellow Christians to think that their arguments are unchallengable. He was nice enough to make sure I had a copy of my post before ignoring it. That was very considerate and I appreciate it very much. I do always keep copies of my posts to Christian blogs.
He also asked me to post my “most pressing concern”. I have given him that and now we’ll see if it’s ever addressed. You’ll see it below in the rest of the post, in bold. The original post has been altered to be more generalized and the explanations clearer. This post will be in two parts: Ben’s attempts at showing his god exists, and then the evidence he has cited.
Initially Ben has made the following attempt at a logical argument for the existence of his god as a refutation to the god of the gaps argument, where the theist claims that “if we do not know the cause for “x”, then it’s their god”. With the advent of the scientific method, we have discovered causes for many many things, and as of yet, this god has caused nothing. We have gone from God causes rain, disease, war, etc, to the laws of physics cause rain, bacteria etc cause disease, humans cause war, etc. But let’s take a look at the following (bolds are by me, italizied in parens my comments):
(1) Natural means cannot explain event E.
(1a) No natural means we know of can explain event E. (depends on ignorance and not knowing “yet”)
(1b) If there were natural means to explain event E, we would probably know that this is the case. (why would we probably know this? There is no mechanism.)
(1c) Therefore probably no natural means can explain event E.
(2) Therefore there is a supernatural explanation of event E. (here is the old god of the gaps argument.)
2a) There is an explanation of event E.
(2b) Every explanation is either natural or supernatural.
(2c) Therefore, it is probably the case that there is a supernatural explanation of event E (again, no mechanism)
It’s not terribly hard to see how this argument fails. All of these claims depend on the word “probably”. To claim something is “probably” true requires that there is a way to know the likelihood of an event and a mechanism of how one knows about such an event. Since the likelihood of supernatural events appears to be zero since we have *no* evidence of such things (the evidence claimed will be addressed in part 2), claiming that the supernatural is the answer with the highest probability is based on nothing.
Many theists seem to get confused when it comes to claiming something is probable and/or possible. The Russell’s teapot argument is an example of how theists fail at this. They wish to claim that their god, the coyly refered to “supernatural”, exists because it is possible and, they usually get to the point arguing it is possible to imagine it (e.g. the ontological argument). It is also possible that there is a silver teapot in orbit around Zeta Reticuli but it is not very probable. Ben also claim that there is something called “probabilistic evidence” which seems to be no more than “well, it could happen so it did”. He may rebut this if he wishes.
Ben also tries another common Christian apologist’s tactic, by insisting that since I don’t know exactly the particular event he is are claiming a supernatural cause for, then I can’t possibly argue against the supernatural being nonsense.
I can argue against it easily, for the simple reason that there is no reason to think that the supernatural exists at all. Humans have been around for thousands of years and *still* have no evidence that any supernatural force has done *anything*. Now, this could be considered the “absence of evidence isn’t the evidence of absence”. However, the utter lack of evidence for *any* supernatural event is a good reason to doubt the existence of such things. The one problem that Christian apologists often forget is that they apply the same reasoning to every other supposedly supernatural claim, be it other gods, humans who claim magical powers, etc. Later we’ll see what Ben considers evidence for his god. It’s nothing new.
For instance, I have no reason to think that the sun will be eaten by a giant space dragon tomorrow. There are events that simply do not happen, no matter if one can say that they could “possibly” happen. I can and do think hypothetically (wouldn’t it be cool if the laws of physics would break down just for me!) but there is no reason to think that I’ll suddenly gain the ability to fly to Alpha Centauri on my own like Superman. There is no reason to think that magic will suddenly work when it never has. Could it? Technically yes, there is the possibility. However, who bets that the possibility will occur with such frequency that one can depend on it? Will Ben bet his life that gravity will not affect him and throw himself off a cliff? If horribly injured by a bomb, will Ben take the possibility that he will be magically healed or will he demand to be helped by medical personnel? I’m going to guess he’ll go for the doctors. Now what does that say about a Christian apologist’s “faith”?
Ben also uses some typical excuses for your god when it comes to its existence and evidence for it. He asks “Why do you think that God would make himself obvious to a skeptic on demand?” is nothing new and demonstrates a certain convenient ignorance of his own bible. If you are a Christian or have read the bible, you’ll remember Thomas? The problem for apologists who use the “God doesn’t give evidence excuse is why it was okay for Thomas to ask for evidence and not someone else, like me, Vel. I ask him to tell me why JC said that it’s better to have just faith, but also indicated that it’s okay to ask for evidence. He didn’t damn Thomas.
Ben has asked me what kind of evidence I would expect for his god. Well, I’m not greedy so how about a burning bush? An amputee getting his limb back? And sure, a neon sign in the sky, why not? The commandments carved in letters 60 feet high along the walls of the Grand Canyon? All sound good to me. Now, here is where a Christian will usually say “then you’ll just say it’s aliens” or something like that. If I witnessed something that I could not explain, I would definitely examine it as well as I could. If there was no answer left but a supernatural event, something entirely against the laws of physics, then I would accept it (I may still not worship such beings if they are genocidal asses). Of course, the problem then becomes, how do I know it was a particular god doing it? But we’d at least be half way there. I rather like the Egyptian pantheon myself.
He also tries the claim that it is “clear” that there has to be “different evidence” for his God and a dog. That’s the usual hand-waving that theists use when they can’t explain what this “different evidence” is, they always try to claim it’s “clear’ or it’s “obvious” when it is anything but. Ben, I ask you: tell me what this “different” evidence is. What distinguishes it from regular ol’ evidence?
Ben knows his apologetics are nothing new, which is refreshingly honest. They are excuses for a god that supposedly showed itself all of the time in the OT and NT. Christians need to claim that God suddenly has changed its modus operandi to excuse why it does nothing. Christianity and all of it’s supposed “truths” has changed repeatedly thanks to reality, not the other way around. It’s no surprise that this god is vanishing into the gaps.
The creationist claim of “fine-tuning” was brought up by Ben as an example of how he thinks that the scientific method will fail and thus his “logic” will prevail. I brought up a handful of failures contained in such nonsense: “First, please indicate how you know it is your god and second, please explain why the vast majority of the universe is inimical to human life. I would say that you would have a much easier time claiming that the universe is “fine-tuned” for bacteria more than us complex and breakable humans. I can’t live in a pool of highly acidic water that is nearly at boiling; bacteria can.”
Ben would prefer to ignore them for a post about fine-tuning at some time “later”. I hope we see it and he explains why my points are wrong.
Now onto Part 2 – the “evidence”