1 – Dutch’s Opening Statement.
2 – James Bishop’s Opening Statement.
1 – Dutch’s 1st Rebuttal.
2 – James Bishop’s 1st Rebuttal.
1 – Dutch’s 2nd Rebuttal (forfeited).
2 – James Bishop’s 2nd Rebuttal.
1 – Dutch’s Concluding Statements (forfeited).
2 – James Bishop’s Concluding Statements (to come).
1. Off the Cuff Responses.
My first response will be to commend Dutch for his command of the English language. One should note that English isn’t his first language and that he can sustain a dialogue that may prove to be so very intricate is quite impressive. Moreover, I want to quickly remove from the table of debate several items.
Firstly, Dutch says that “We’ve read on James’ blog that he thinks atheism is a religion of its own…” I would urge Dutch to forward me to the article in which I said this, and if I find that I did then I will be happy to remedy it. The truth is that I don’t think that atheism is a religion. In fact, I’ve argued against it being a religion with fellow Christians who do seem to think that it is a religion. It is entirely possible that Dutch probably saw me claim that atheists often seem to be overtly religious in many ways, which I contend that they are. However, that is not the same as saying atheism is a religion. Atheism is not a religion.
Secondly, in my opening remarks I defend four arguments for the existence of God, namely the Kalam cosmological argument, the argument from objective moral values and duties, from miracles, and finally from Jesus resurrection. However, Dutch includes his rebuttals to several arguments such as the fine-tuning argument, objective morality, the ontological argument, and the Kalam cosmological argument. Now, I appreciate Dutch’s effort in articulating such arguments but I won’t be responding to those I haven’t defended such as the ontological argument and the argument from fine-tuning. I will, however, respond to the ones I did include. Moreover, Dutch evidently did not respond to my arguments from Jesus’ resurrection and from miracles since he wouldn’t have known that I’d be using them. So, for those two I eagerly await to read his response in his first rebuttal.
However, since I am defending the existence of God I am obligated to respond to the positive claims/arguments Dutch makes in favour of his position. In this way I shall respond to his arguments from the “Origins of religion,” “the Definition of God,” the many gods challenge, the who created God objection, from agent detection, and so on.
2. Towards a Definition of God.
In my opening remarks I did not make it as clear as I should have by what I meant be “God.” I did, however, state my belief in a transcendent God and, as one would probably infer from my argument form Jesus’ resurrection, particularly the Christian one. But let me provide clarity.
The God I believe in is the one that Jesus called “Father.” This I supported through my argument from Jesus resurrection of which God is the best explanation. Secondly, this God is transcendent which I argued for from the basis of the Kalam cosmological argument. Kalam, by itself, does not get us to the biblical God although it does get us to a being that is metaphysically necessary, spaceless, timeless, transcendent, supernatural, and immensely powerful. The moral argument, if successful, gets us to a God who himself is the standard of moral perfection since it is this being’s nature that provides an objective reference point for moral values and duties. Finally, my argument from miracles proves that there exists a supernatural being that intervenes within the natural world for the benefit of human beings. Though I did not push it in my opening, I’d contend that this being is the biblical God since such miracles are asked and granted in the name of Jesus Christ, of which I think there is overwhelming evidence for. Simply put, the God I defend is the biblical God who is personal and transcends his creation.
3. Dutch on “The Burden of Proof.”
I would actually agree with much of what Dutch has included here although certainly not everything. I agree that the burden of proof should be with, as in Dutch’s own words, “[The] one [who] makes a positive claim.” Sure, if I say that God exists then I would be required to give sufficient reasons as to why I think that is the case. However, that doesn’t exempt Dutch, or atheists in general, from any epistemic justification for their beliefs. In response Dutch will probably claim that his atheism is just a “lack of belief.” However, that is objectionable since it reduces anything that does not have a specific belief to that of an atheist (dogs, babies, rocks etc.). Essentially, on his redefinition the atheist isn’t saying anything which makes this debate pointless. What apologists have noted, however, is that atheists only redefine their atheism to escape the responsibility of having to give reasons for being an atheist (a1).
4. Defining Atheism.
I want to press this point home a bit. Dutch explains that, “It is important to clarify our position here: we are agnostic atheists.”
That’s a problem. Atheism and agnosticism are not the same worldviews. Atheists affirm the non-existence of God whereas agnostics tend to sit on the fence. Atheism, correctly defined, is the belief in God’s non-existence. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy “Atheism means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God” (a2). Or better yet, “The term “atheist” describes a person who does not believe that God or a divine being exists” (a3). Such are positive affirmations in the same way Christians claim that “God does exist.” Agnosticism, however, is “neither believing nor disbelieving it.” In other words, as Michael Anthony writing for Philosophy Now explains, “…on the common understanding of atheism – no divine reality of any kind exists – atheism and agnosticism are mutually exclusive” (a5).
Atheism, after all, is a belief, a faith position. According to prominent philosopher Michael Ruse, “if you want a concession, I’ve always said that [atheistic] naturalism is an act of faith…” (a6). Professor of biochemistry Isaac Asimov concedes that being an atheist “assumed knowledge that one didn’t have… Emotionally, I’m an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn’t…” (a7). And as Andy Bannister in his witty book The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist says, “Atheism looks like a belief, functions like a belief and behaves like a belief—in short: it is a belief… Whether or not it is a religion, atheism, certainly is a belief, a positive claim, just as much as the claim ‘Sweden doesn’t exist’ and positive claims need to be argued for” (a8).
Thus atheists are required to have reasons for believing in their atheism. Atheist writer Scot Shalkowski explains that “if there were no evidence at all for belief in God, this would [at best] legitimize merely agnosticism unless there is evidence against the existence of God” (a9). Atheist philosopher Kai Nielsen similarly believes that, “All the proofs of God’s existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists. In short, to show that the proofs do not work is not enough by itself. It may still be the case that God exists” (a10).
So, when Dutch says that “We don’t think it can ever be determined whether or not a god exists, but we do not believe the claims that are being made because no subsequent evidence has been provided” he is actually arguing for agnosticism and not atheism!
5. Dutch on “The origins of religion”
Dutch explains that “We are of the opinion that religious [belief] in creator deities can be explained, fully secular, from an evolutionary standpoint.” He then rightly notes that this hasn’t been proven “conclusively” and admits that “there are hypotheses that do make a lot of sense.” Dutch’s preferred hypothesis is the “hyperactive agency detection device.” (HADD)
HADD, to put it simply, is the inclination for animals, including humans, to presume the purposeful intervention of an intelligent agent in situations that may or may not involve one. Far from achieving any consensus, some have argued that belief in God, or creator gods, is an evolutionary by-product of agent detection. Though this may be true it is problematic as an argument in favour of atheism, namely that God does not exist.
Firstly, it is not the entire story. As psychologists Kurt Gray and Daniel Wegner realize, it is possible that agent detection might be a “foundation for human belief in God” (a11). However, the pair explain that to claim that this constitutes the whole picture is unwarranted since “simple over attribution of agency cannot entirely account for the belief in God…” because the human ability to form a theory of mind and what they refer to as “existential theory of mind” are also required to “give us the basic cognitive capacity to conceive of God.” So, Dutch’s preferred hypothesis doesn’t take him to his conclusion.
Secondly, Dutch commits an elementary error in reasoning known as the Genetic Fallacy (GF). The GF is when one attempts to explain away, and undermine, a specific belief due to how that belief originated; philosopher William Craig explains that the GF “is the attempt to invalidate a position by showing how it originated. You try and invalidate a position by showing how a person came to believe that” (a12). So, given evolution, is it not possible that God could have intervened in such a way as to bring about a knowledge of himself? Of course simply because he would have created and sustained the entire process. Philosopher Alvin Plantinga responds that “The theory of evolution doesn’t say that the whole process is guided by God. Of course it doesn’t say that. But it also doesn’t say that it isn’t. Being a scientific theory, it doesn’t make any statements on that point” (a13). Dutch thus commits the GF through his attempt to explain away a belief (in God) by how humans inherited that belief (from evolution). Even the late atheist evolutionary biologist William Provine wouldn’t agree, “even if every case of theistic belief could plausibly be explained in terms of some naturalistic theory or other, that still wouldn’t exclude positive answers to the questions ‘Does God exist?’ and ‘Is belief in God warranted?’” (a14).
Thirdly, it just doesn’t follow. So even if we grant Dutch his conclusion that belief in a god is merely the evolutionary by-product of agent detection it still doesn’t follow that a god does not exist. As I highlighted in my opening remarks an argument has to be a good one; its conclusion has to follow. Dutch’s agent detection argument clearly does not follow to its conclusion and therefore should be dismissed. Nor does it take into consideration the other proposed evidence that we have for the existence of God.
6. The Many “gods” Argument.
According to Dutch, “if James reasons that the Christian god is the one god, how he manages to dissipate all the other gods that have been imagined by mankind. Why doesn’t he defend the more humanlike gods Zeus or Uranus? Why not Thor, Odin, Raor, Wotan?”
There are several responses I wish to make. Firstly, I think Dutch’s argument provides for Christians a good question that needs to be discussed. Essentially, if human beings have come up with so many gods and religions then how can the Christian claim to know “the right” one? That’s a fair question. However, my first response would be that this doesn’t provide a logical defeater of my Christian beliefs. At most it tells us that many people have invented gods (an anthropological fact). It doesn’t follow from there that my Christianity is false.
Secondly, Dutch’s asks “Why not Thor, Odin, Raor, Wotan?” Well, because it’s a matter of evidence. As I have argued here and elsewhere I think that we have persuasive evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, the existence of a transcendent God, as well as the truth of Christianity. Where, might I ask, has such evidence been presented for the gods Odin, Thor, or any of the other ones Dutch mentions? I invite Dutch to show us and we can all consider it.
Thirdly, Dutch commits the fallacy of false association. This is essentially to argue that because “some” concepts of God are incorrect (or at least Dutch assumes they’re incorrect), therefore all concepts are incorrect. That conclusion wouldn’t follow. Just because he assumes that the other gods of Odin and Thor don’t exist it doesn’t mean that my conception of God is false or that the Islamist’s conception is false. That would have to be demonstrated on other grounds.
Fourthly, Dutch holds to a double standard. In a sense he assumes that all these so many thousands of gods “have been imagined by mankind.” That is an assumption made without evidence. Has Dutch looked at all these other gods he outright rejects as having been “imagined”? Has he weighed all the relevant evidence? Of course, not. So then why does he expect me, the Christian theist, to have to do that? Why hold to such a double standard? As I’ve argued above atheism is a belief. And, like all beliefs, it has to have evidence and, as such, has to engage at the table of discussion. It’s no good sitting back and exempting one’s own belief system from having to answer the very same questions it imposes on the beliefs of others. Rather each concept must be analyzed in its own right, and evidence and arguments must be weighed.
And then, finally, there would be other arguments I could make. I could look at the uniqueness of Christianity and Jesus Christ compared to the mythology of other gods (a15). I could show how Christianity exceeds these other beliefs in its diagnosis of the reality we experience. I’d furthermore look at historical evidence, miracles, and so on.
7. On Miracles.
Dutch goes on to say that “miracle[s] [are] things that violate the laws of nature and cannot be explained by science…” He then brings in David Hume via Hume’s following quote: “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.”
What are the problems with Dutch’s appeal to Hume? Firstly, Dutch seems to suggest that science disproves miracles or somehow makes them impossible. This is false simply because the ontological question of miracles is philosophical and not scientific (a16). Secondly, Hume practically defines the probability of a miracle out of existence through his arguing that “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle.” I disagree. I think testimony is persuasive evidence. Homicide detectives, law courts, and media agencies would surely agree. I’m certainly not at all saying that one should be uncritical of the testimony, but I am affirming that we can’t just outright dismiss it as evidence, and to do so is unwarranted. Thus, I presented lines of testimonial evidence in my argument from miracles. I included atheists, doctors, pastors, and acquaintances all of whom make a persuasive case that a miracle has occurred. Philosopher of science John Lennox explains that “when you examine in detail what Hume actually says, and how he defines miracles, he defines them out of existence. They cannot happen because they are defined as not being able to happen” (a27).
Further, essentially Hume espoused circular reasoning as Professor Keener rightly exposes, “Hume used the unproved conclusion (that miracles are not possible) and made it a datum of his argument (miracles do not happen)” (a17). Hume thus begins with what he is trying to prove. Likewise he rules out all the evidence in advance, “Hume presupposes a standard of proof so high that any evidence is effectively ruled out in advance. That is, Hume so frames his position that he renders it unfalsifiable” (a18). Of course it shouldn’t come as a surprise that atheist like Dutch will always reject the evidence. They set the bar so high that nothing ever qualifies as evidence in the first place!
Subsequently, as Professor Michael Licona realizes, if we accept “Hume’s criteria for accepting testimony as true [and] employed [it] outside of miracle claims, we would probably have to dismiss the vast majority of what we believe we presently know about the past” (a19). This is a good example of how having to sustain atheism as a coherent worldview requires atheists to go to extreme lengths that usually defy rational behaviour. For the atheist to outright reject testimonial evidence he may as well close the doors to our law courts, police stations, the science and historical faculties, and so on. But of course he would never do that; he only subjects claims and evidence that can’t fit into his atheistic worldview to such a standard. And on top of that atheists expect us to believe their testimony as well as Hume’s testimony!
So, is Dutch’s argument from David Hume a good one? Certainly not.
8. Dutch’s Argument Against Objective Moral Values and Duties.
Dutch’s response to the moral argument I presented in my opening speech is simply this:
1. Name one objective moral value or duty.
2. Prove it
Note that this doesn’t say anything about the positive reasons I forwarded for affirming objective moral values and duties. We shall let Dutch respond to that in his first rebuttal. However, here Dutch espouses a naïve empiricism that probably has its roots in the philosophy of positivism. Essentially it argues that we are only rational in holding of what can be verified via our five senses. Philosopher Bertrand Russell explained that “Whatever knowledge is attainable must be attained by scientific means; and what science cannot discover, man cannot know” (a20). This espouses what philosophers of science dub “scientism.” This is the view that it is rational to only believe in things that can be scientifically proven (a21).
Now, obviously if this were true then it would not be rational to hold to objective moral values and duties since they are not empirically verifiable. But there are good reasons as to why scientism is false as well as self-defeating. Firstly, science is limited in explanatory scope since it only deals with the natural world. To admit this fact is not to attack good science but to rather identify it being misused by atheists. One commentator rightly puts it, “Science is a tool, and a useful one at that, but still just a tool. Many tools are useful, but no one tool can be used in every situation – we need a complete toolbox.” So, science is superb at answering questions about the physical universe but definitely not competent when it comes to matters of philosophy.
Secondly, it’s profoundly self-defeating. The claim that “only what can be known by science or quantified and empirically tested is rational and true” is self-refuting. Philosopher J.P. Moreland explains that such a claim “is not a statement of science. It is a philosophical statement about science. How could the statement itself be quantified and empirically tested? And if it cannot, then by the statement’s own standards, it cannot itself be true or rationally held” (a22). William Craig is of the same view, writing that “Scientism tells us that we should not believe any proposition that cannot be scientifically proven. But what about that very proposition itself? It cannot itself be scientifically proven. Therefore we should not believe it. Scientism thus defeats itself” (a23).
Thirdly, scientism proves to be exceptionally reductionist. It denies so much of human experience that we all take to be rationally believable. William Lane Craig, in his knockdown response to atheist Peter Atkins in a debate, says that “there are a number of things that cannot be scientifically proven but that we are all rational to accept… logical and mathematical truths cannot be proven by science. Science presupposes logic and maths that to try to prove them by science would be arguing in a circle. Metaphysical truths like there are other minds other than my own, or that the external world is real, or that the past was not created five minutes ago with the appearance of age are rational beliefs that cannot be scientifically proven. Ethical beliefs about statements of value are no accessible by the scientific method. You can’t show by science whether the Nazi scientists in the camps did anything evil as opposed to the scientists in western democracies. Aesthetic judgments cannot be accessed by the scientific method because the beautiful like the good can’t be scientifically proven. Finally, and most remarkably, science itself. Science cannot be justified by the scientific method. Science is permeated with unprovable assumptions. For example, in the special theory of relativity the whole theory hinges on the assumption that the speed of light is in a one way direction between two points A and B, but that strictly cannot be proven. We have to assume that in order to hold to the theory” (a24). Christian Darwinian evolutionist Francis Collins I believe correctly captures that “Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world [but] is powerless to answer questions such as ‘what is the meaning of human existence… We need to bring all the power of both scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen” (a25).
So, the very argument that Dutch proposes against objective moral values and duties has been constructed upon a worldview that is impossible to be rationally held, and thus I don’t think that it is a good argument.
9. Dutch on the Cosmological Argument.
Dutch says that we should notice that “this deductive syllogism does not conclude a god exists.” However, as I argued in my opening statement it is the implications of this argument that are significant. If the conclusion follows then we are left with a creator of the universe that is spaceless (since it created space), timeless (it created time), transcendent (it exists beyond the universe it created), supernatural (it created the natural), and overwhelmingly powerful (it created the universe without any material cause). This first cause must also be metaphysically necessary since there cannot be an infinite regress of causes (more on this below). This, evidently, undermines atheism since on atheism a transcendent and supernatural creator cannot exist.
Dutch goes on, “Then it could well be that we find that literally nothing is god” is irrational. Firstly, a god that is “nothing” isn’t much of a god in the first place. And if this is what Dutch believes then he is arguing that nothing created everything. Nothing, in its true philosophical sense of the word, possesses absolutely no properties. It has no creative ability or power so it couldn’t bring anything into existence. It it therefore a logically incoherent proposal.
Subsequently, I was very much expecting Dutch to argue the “Who created God?” argument. He says, “Secondly, by this line of reasoning, if we were to conclude god was the cause of our universe, we must then ask ‘where did god come from’?” In other words, if God created everything then who created God?
This is a problematic line of reasoning for several reasons. Firstly, it is irrelevant to the actual question of God’s existence (the very topic we are debating). William Lane Craig provides what I think is an informative analogy (b1). Suppose that we travel to the moon and find evidence of some abandoned yet sophisticated equipment. We would rightfully conclude that intelligent beings must have visited the moon. But if we were to use Dutch’s logic we would then have to dismiss this evidence because we don’t know who designed them or where they are from within the galaxy/universe. The point is that they still visited the moon even if we don’t know who designed them. So, the argument doesn’t refute the idea that God created the universe. God could have still created the universe even if we don’t know who created God. In other words, for God to be a rational explanation for the existence of the universe we don’t need an explanation of the explanation.
Secondly, there needs to be a metaphysically necessary uncaused cause. It is impossible, and logically incoherent, to have an infinite regress of caused causes. Therefore, the chain has to stop somewhere, specifically, at an uncaused cause. Now, there is a difference between things that exist necessarily and things that exist contingently. It is impossible for a thing that exists necessarily to not exist (philosophers and mathematicians would identify numbers as necessarily existing things). Alternatively, things that exist contingently are caused to exist by something else. These contingent objects don’t have to exist, instead, they only exist because something else caused them to exist. Moreover, there is no reason that the universe around us had to exist and it’s logically possible that the universe could have not existed. Thus the universe does not exist necessarily, rather it exists contingently. Now, the adequate explanation for a contingent universe is that it owes its existence to a non-contingent being; something that can’t not exist due to the necessity of its own nature. Simply put, something has always had to have existed infinitely for something (the universe) to exist now. And whatever this cause is it has to be spaceless, timelines, immaterial and transcendent. Thus, the real question pertinent to this debate is what best explains such a cause? Now, there are two entities that could fit this description, either abstract objects or God. We can disqualify abstract objects simply because they cannot cause anything, and thus the existence of the universe can only be found in the existence of God. I don’t think that Dutch’s is a good argument and I also think we have good grounds to reject his charge that theists are engaging in any manner of “special pleading”
Dutch then alleges that “premise one is argued from ignorance. We simply do not know the origins of our universe. We do not know what happened before T=0.” I don’t think that this is true, and I’d contend that it’s the exact opposite. In fact, scientists do know what existed prior to T=0. Nothing! There existed no time, no matter, energy, or space. So, the Kalam cosmological argument is not reducible to ignorance, in fact, it’s an argument from what we do know. Namely, that nothing existed prior to the Big Bang singularity.
Moreover, Dutch appeals to quantum mechanics and claims that “Quantum mechanics has [sic] clearly shown us that particles pop in and out of existence from nothing all of the time.” Dutch’s appeal is disingenuous. Why?
Firstly, because virtual particles do not literally come into existence spontaneously out of nothing as Dutch alleges. Rather, such particles exist within a quantum vacuum which is itself a sea of fluctuating energy, and these fluctuations are the temporary changes in the amount of energy in a point in space (b2). This much has been made clear by Frank Tipler, a mathematical physicist and cosmologist, and John Barrow, cosmologist and theoretical physicist, who pen that “the modern picture of the quantum vacuum differs radically from the classical and everyday meaning of… nothing” (b3). The word “nothing” is bandied about a lot in quantum mechanics but never is it intended to denote nothing in the sense that Dutch wants us to believe. Philosopher of science John Lennox asks, “So what was there before [the Big Bang]? Nothing. Absolutely nothing in the philosophical sense. Absence of anything” (b4).
Dutch then quotes Lawrence Krauss from his much criticised book A Universe From Nothing where Krauss says that “A truly open mind means forcing our imaginations to conform to the evidence of reality, and not vice versa, whether or not we like the implications.” Firstly, this is an irrelevant quote to this discussion. It is merely a claim for people to accept a proposition based on evidence and independent of the implications. I can’t say that I disagree. However, since Krauss would be the atheist go to man for the “nothing can create everything” hypothesis, one would have thought that Dutch would have quoted him approvingly in favour of the initial claim that “particles pop in and out of existence from nothing all of the time.” But not so. Essentially what Lawrence Krauss proposes is that because something is physical, nothing must be physical especially if you define it as the absence of something. Lennox responds that this is “sheer nonsense… to get nothing [Krauss has] to redefine nothing. They have not solved the question” (b5). Philosopher David Albert is quite direct in saying that “Krauss is dead wrong and his religious and philosophical critics are absolutely right” (b6). Even atheist Sean Carroll disagrees, asking “Do advances in modern physics and cosmology help us address these underlying questions… In a word: no. I don’t see how they could” (b7). Prominent South African cosmologist George Ellis argues that “Krauss does not address why the laws of physics exist, why they have the form they have, or in what kind of manifestation they existed before the universe existed (which he must believe if he believes they brought the universe into existence)” (b8). Lastly, mathematical physicist Kohli chimes in that of Krauss’s book “many of the claims are not supported in full by modern general relativity theory, or quantum field theory in curved spacetime” (b9). Krauss’s thesis is controversial and not widely accepted by modern experts.
Quite revealingly, however, Krauss goes on to say that “I can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but I’d much rather live in a universe without one” (b13). That certainly puts a little spin on Dutch’s quote of Krauss urging us to follow the evidence where it leads “whether or not we like the implications.”
Finally, concerning the Kalam cosmological argument, Dutch says “that it seems to be insensible to ask what was before our universe as time only came into existence after the big bang.”
Firstly, there is the minor err in that Dutch thinks that time came to be after the Big Bang. Rather, it was at the Big Bang. It is also not insensible at all especially if time is a created thing. One could hold that the creator, without the universe, exists changelessly and timelessly, and at the Big Bang singularity created the universe along with time and space. For the creator there simply is no time because there are no events of any sort; time begins with the first event, at the moment of creation
10. The God of the Gaps.
The God of the Gaps isn’t much of a God at all. A God that is only used to plug in a lack of knowledge is a weak and unworthy one. But of course that’s not what I, nor most Christians, mean when we speak about God. The biblical God exists beyond his creation and is the one who is responsible for the fact that it all exists in the first place. So, Dutch’s claim that “God has always been placed in an ever receding pocket of ignorance” is a non-sequitur since it doesn’t go as far as he would like it to. It doesn’t follow that because man, through history, has had ill conceived ideas about how God operates, or how they think he operates, it must somehow undermine God’s actual existence. Then Dutch explains that “science has buried nearly every god mankind has imagined.” I think we should disagree. In fact, many would claim that it is their belief in science that has strengthened their belief in God, as Lennox explains, “Far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise is validated by his existence” (b10). Astronomer George Greenstein of the American Institute of Physics agrees, “As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency – or, rather, Agency – must be involved” (b11). Even the Kalam cosmological argument is one that marshals science to come to a conclusion that has theological significance. That’s not to mention other theistic arguments presenting scientific evidence such from fine-tuning, the cosmological argument from contingency, and so on. Even Lawrence Krauss of whom Dutch quoted says that “Science’s success does not mean it encompasses the entirety of human intellectual experience… Science does not make it impossible to believe in God. We should recognize that fact and live with it and stop being so pompous about it” (b12). So rather than reason failing theistic belief, I would contend that it is reason itself that convinces rational minded people of belief in God.
So, I don’t think we’re obligated to accept Dutch’s diagnosis that these arguments are “vague” and have “no basis in reality.” What doesn’t seem to have any basis in reality are the host of weak rebuttals to these arguments being presented here.
11. Dutch’s attack on Philosophy.
Quite remarkably Dutch says that the arguments presented are “philosophical notions or metaphysics at best and thus present us with no evidence at all.” In other words, Dutch attacks philosophy and philosophical reasoning. To do so is profoundly irrational. Dutch, more probably that not, is an atheistic naturalist. Naturalism is itself a philosophical system of thought that draws conclusions about the natural world that goes beyond the available empirical evidence. Firstly, Dutch as a naturalist assumes God does not exist but, as he knows, he cannot prove it. He assumes that no objective moral values do not exist though he cannot prove that either. Dutch assumes that a physical world of objects exists externally to his own mind which is an unprovable metaphysical assumption that he, and the rest of us (unless we’re solipsists), think is a reasonable belief. The point is that not only can’t Dutch help but to actually engage in philosophy but his entire atheism is underpinned by a philosophical system of beliefs. In other words, to say that philosophical and metaphysical “present us with no evidence at all” is effectively to attack one’s own atheism!
a1. Craig, W. 2007. Definition of atheism.
a2. Smart, J. 2014. Atheism and Agnosticism. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Available.
a3. McCormick, M. Atheism. Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Available.
a5. Antony, M. 2016. Where’s The Evidence? Available.
a6. Michael Ruse quoted by Robert Stewart in “Intelligent Design: William A. Dembski & Michael Ruse in Dialogue” (2007). p. 37.
a7. Isaac Asimov in An Interview with Isaac Asimov on Science and the Bible.
a8. Bannister, A. 2015. Atheist Who Didn’t Exist. p. 44
a9. Shalkowski, S. “Atheological Apologetics” in Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology (1992). p. 63-70.
a10. Kai Nielsen in a debate with Willian Craig: Does God Exist?
a11. Gray, K. & Wegner, D. “Blaming God for Our Pain: Human Suffering and the Divine Mind” in Personality and Social Psychology Review 14 (1): 9–10.
a12. Craig, W. 2007. The “New Atheist.”
a13. Wilson, J. 2011. Q & A: Alvin Plantinga on Conflict Resolution with Science.
a14. Provine, W. 1998. Scientists, Face it! Science and Religion are Incompatible.
a15. Zacharias, R. 2008. Cries of the Heart. p. 86. Zacharias comments: “Thus in Greek mythology, heroes and the personification of ideals proliferate. In pantheism, avatars, or incarnations, form the bulk of revelation. But in the Christian faith, the fact that God comes close while remaining transcendent is very unique.”
a16. Keener, C. 2011. Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. Keener comments, “Those today who claim that science or historiography denies the possibility of miracles are repeating not scientific observations but philosophic premises stemming from Hume”
a17. Keener, C. 2011. Ibid.
a18. Keener, C. 2011. Ibid.
a19. Licona, M. The Historian and Miracles. Available.
a20. Russell, B. 1997. Religion and Science. p. 243.
a21. Craig, W. 2011. Is Scientism Self Refuting?
a22. Moreland, J. 1987. Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity. Chapter 7: Science & Christianity.
a23. Craig, W. 2011. Is Scientism Self Refuting?
a24. YouTube. 2009. Dr William Lane Craig vs Dr Peter Atkins highlight. Available.
a25. Collins, F. 2008. The Language of God. p. 6.
a26. YouTube. Science And Miracles. Available.
a27. YouTube. Science And Miracles. Available.
b1. Craig, W. 2010. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision. p. 122.
b2. Browne, M. 1990. New Direction in Physics: Back in Time. Available.
b3. Tipler, F. & Barrow, J. 1988. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. p. 440.
b4. YouTube. 2014. John Lennox: Lawrence Krauss is Unintentionally Funny. Available.
b5. YouTube. 2014. Ibid.
b6. Albert, D. 2014. On the Origin of Everything. Available.
b7. Carroll, S. 2012. A Universe From Nothing. Available.
b8. Horgan, J. 2014. Physicist George Ellis Knocks Physicists for Knocking Philosophy, Falsification, Free Will. Available.
b9. Kohli, S. 2014. Comments On: A Universe From Nothing.
b10. Lennox, J. 1999. God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? p. 210.
b11. Greenstein, G. 1988. The Symbiotic Universe. p.27.
b12. Lawrence Krauss quoted by George Johnson in A Free-for-All on Science and Religion (2006).
b13. Krauss, L. 2012. Lawrence M. Krauss, on A Universe From Nothing.