Proving light exists to a blind man

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How would you respond to a Christian who says “Just like light cannot be proven to a blind man, God must be experienced to believe.”?

I feel like I’ve already addressed this question before, at least on the show, but I can’t find it on the blog. When I googled the question, I found many, many examples of Christians asking this question as if it were a knock down argument. It’s not, so here we go.

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Why don’t I find Kalam Cosmology compelling?

That was the question asked by a caller that took up most of the show discussing Kalam last week. And as anyone who watched the show saw—or more likely already knew—there are 1,001 ways to approach problems or issues with this argument. But my main point of contention with Kalam was one that caller failed to understand. And it may have been my fault for not doing the best job of communicating it. During a three-way conversation with one party on a phone over a loud speaker, communication efficiency may not be at its peak.

But let me say there are a few issues that are problematic with a majority of apologetic arguments, that, to me, undermine their efficacy, and result in a situation where the premises of the argument become red herrings. I was trying to point this out, and early in the call I actually leaned over to Russell to say “Wait…he’s answering his own question.”

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Creationists, watch those sources!

Excerpt from an email:

…your very disrespectful and hateful approach to theism in general is entirely unnecessary, especially since much of the opinion you provide is a result of misinformation. For instance, Matt Dillahunty once laughed at a creationist when he pointed out the fact that the big bang theory supports the idea that, essentially, everything came from nothing. You told this man that idea was false, when in fact, big-bang-theory.com clearly states:

“Prior to the singularity, nothing existed, not space, time, matter, or energy – nothing.”

That is just an example for you.

I never heard of big-bang-theory.com before, but after skimming it, it was more and more obviously not a science site. As advertised, the site did make the oddly specific claim that nothing existed prior to the singularity, even though this is just one of several working hypotheses about the initial conditions of the universe, and scientists generally don’t try to assert with certainty what happened before the Planck horizon.

Suspicious, I followed the link at the top of big-bang-theory.com, which redirected me to another site called allaboutscience.org. That site contains articles like: Intelligent Design vs EvolutionWho Made God Video; and various poorly written articles and videos that focus almost exclusively on evolution and cosmology. You would think that a site claiming to be all about science might actually consider touching on a few other topics in the Bill Nye repertoire, like electricity or light or momentum. There are lots of other interesting science topics.

Back at big-bang-theory.com, after getting several details flat out wrong, the concluding paragraph begins: “Any discussion of the Big Bang theory would be incomplete without asking the question, what about God?” What? It would?

It then links to http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/does-god-exist-c.htm, which promotes various creationist claims, and finally that page links to http://www.allabouttruth.org/holy-bible.htm which goes into full blown preaching mode.

Of course we can clear this up easily by seeing who has registered the site.

http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/results.jsp?domain=big-bang-theory.com


Administrative Contact:
Outlaw, Greg greg@allaboutgod.com
All About GOD Ministries

“We write compelling websites that reach out to skeptics, seekers, believers, and a hurting world with powerful evidence for God and the Good News of Jesus.”

You have to marvel a bit at the chutzpah of these folks, no? Design a series of fake but authoritative looking science sites, using inaccurate information to blatantly construct the straw man version of the argument you’re trying to discredit.

Why are so many theology schools asking their students to pass out questionnaires?

Just now I rejected three identical comments to three different blog posts from the same person. The text read as follows:

Hello and to all atheists concerned:

I am currently pursuing a masters in theology and this week’s class project requires that I interview 3 middle/high school candidates concerning a particular set of questions (If you are in your twenties that’s okay even if the requirement is middle school or high school age-this class is about youth ministry). Candidates must be “unsaved” (Their words-not mine) but preferably they once attended church and had some idea as to the concept of “God” and what that means.

This is not a troll, a trick, or some sneaky method to get unsuspecting atheist youths in my spider’s web of church deceit. I just have several questions that need to be answered by 3 candidates that match the aforementioned profile. NO CONVERSION ATTEMPTS! I just need these questions answered that are enumerated below:
a. How do you describe your religious background and church involvement if any (past and present)?
b. To you, what is God like? Describe God or at least the concept of God if you believe this entity to be a myth.
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The Argument from “It Just Makes Sense to Me”

Someone at the Sunday ACA Lecture series alerted me that my (brief) introductory topic on the last show I cohosted might have confused some people. They asked if I could provide some examples in order to clarify what I was trying to describe. I’m always appreciative when someone lets me know I’ve been unclear, as it provides me an opportunity to clarify. And so, with that, I offer my clarification.

There are many examples to choose from. I have conversations in everyday life that could illustrate this, and there are also examples among famous figures that demonstrate it well, but the most clear and concise example I recall is the story of Steven LaBerge. [Read more…]

Sunday’s Caller and Public Response: Confirmation is not a Rebuttal

I wanted to post a follow up to the Sunday show that created some stir on the Internet this week. The best thing I’ve seen come out of it has been people on threads debating these ideas.

Not long ago, I started saying that religion has “The Best P.R. Machine Ever.” No matter what they do or what they teach, they have but to weakly spin it as valuable and good, and like magic, society says it’s valuable and good. And if you point out the problems with it, you are suddenly immoral and wrong. It’s “Through the Looking Glass” all the way.

That being said, I see a trend in these discussions that is interesting. Christians are offering “rebuttals” that aren’t rebuttals. Let me use a nonreligious example before I proceed.

Me: Oh no, I got a flat tire.
Him: No, you just misunderstand what it is that’s happened. See, you drove down this road where they did construction yesterday, and there was a nail left on the road. So, you drove over that, and it got into your tire, causing your tire to deflate. See?
Me: How is that different than what I just said?

The fact is, Christians often will say they’ve found some way out of Problem of Evil, or Euthyphro’s Dilemma or certain religious paradoxes that have been identified. And when they explain, they haven’t “gotten out” of them at all. They’ve merely started their statement with “You misunderstand,” and then gone on to explain precisely why they are smack dab in the middle of that problem, dilemma or paradox. They then look at you, like they’ve offered more than confirmation the problem, dilemma or paradox is right on target. How do they get away with confirming these problems, dilemmas and paradoxes are valid, while claiming to have trumped them in some way? Is this a Jedi mind trick I could learn? [Read more…]

Reply to Stephen Feinstein, final round

This post is part of an ongoing discussion between Russell Glasser and Pastor Stephen Feinstein. Here are all the previous posts in the series.

This is the end of the Stephen Feinstein series.  Comments will be open at the end of this post, so please feel free to provide your thoughts and feedback on this post and the entire series.

“If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu’s view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, ‘How about the tortoise?’ the Indian said, ‘Suppose we change the subject.'” –Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian


“Wherever I traveled and met believers, I heard the same responses to my simple question of how they knew that their god or gods existed. The faces, dress, accents, and temples varied greatly, but the reasons for belief did not. The fact that all these people around the world believe in contradictory gods and conflicting religions means that some of them must be wrong. They cannot all be correct. And if some people can be sincerely mistaken on this, all can be.” –Guy P. Harrison, author of 50 Reasons People Give for Believing In a God and other skeptic-themed books

Since this post serves as my closing statement, I’m going to take this opportunity to offer a bird’s eye view of the whole conversation, and the concept of presuppositional apologetics in general, before I get into the  details of Stephen’s final post.

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Reply to Stephen Feinstein, round four

This post is part of an ongoing discussion between Russell Glasser and Pastor Stephen Feinstein. Here are all the previous posts in the series.

I’ll be disabling comments one more time in this post, as per Stephen’s initial request. However, since we have agreed that the fifth round will be the last, I’ll be opening up a post-mortem open thread with comments enabled after my next post. At that point, I’ll add links to the open thread from all of the previous posts.


Stephen,

I can’t help noticing that in your last post, you seem to have reimagined your role in this debate.  Here I thought that you were simply a collegial fellow participant, but you have decided to award yourself the position of judge and arbiter.  After all, you did apparently award yourself the victory about a dozen times — rather cockily, I must say — and we haven’t even finished yet.  That shift in tone will be taken into account in this response.

Of course, this change of roles shouldn’t come as any surprise to the readers of our exchange.  It was obvious from the beginning that you would have awarded yourself the victory without exchanging a word if you could have.  When you said that you wanted to have a battle of epistemology, clearly what you really meant is that you wish there were no demands of support and evidence for your belief in God.  Instead, it would be so much easier if we’d both come around to accepting your God as “necessary,” irrespective of any observations we might make that confirm that the God actually exists.

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Reply to Stephen Feinstein, round three

This post is part of an ongoing discussion between Russell Glasser and Pastor Stephen Feinstein. Here are all the previous posts in the series.

As before, I’ll be disabling comments in this post, as it is supposed to be a conversation only between the two of us.


Stephen,

I hope you’ll excuse the amount of time it took to complete this post; your last post was about twice as long as the one before it.  Also, you appear to be getting frustrated by the conversation, and I think I’ve identified a significant source of miscommunication between us. It seems to me that your continued efforts to prove God are based on a serious double standard, and in this post I intend to point out where this lies.

Before I get to that though, I’d like to invoke a rule that we discussed before we started.  Since I don’t intend to continue this conversation indefinitely, I propose that we wrap it up after a total of five rounds.  That means after this, you and I will each write two more posts, with the last ones being dedicated to closing statements.  Is that acceptable to you?  I could see reducing it to one more, or extending it to three, but I really don’t want to go much longer than that, so it’s your call from there.

With that bit of bookkeeping out of the way, I’ll begin.

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