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Aug 03 2013

Debate: Does the God of Christianity Exist? Max Andrews vs. Justin Schieber

andrews_v_schieberDoes the God of Christianity Exist? 

This debate was not a live debate, rather it was a series of audio exchanges that took place through the months of June and July of 2013 between Max Andrews of (Sententias.org) and Justin Schieber (Doubtcast.org). The exchanges were according to agreed upon time limitations on each section. For each of their several sections, the debaters were given at least a week to analyze, script and record their entries before submitting it to their opponent. Each submission, has been edited together in the agreed upon order for your listening interest. As one speaker ends, the next will follow without interruption.

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  1. 1
    AKMagpie

    I just listened to this podcast and my head is whirling. It is rather like Max and Justin have stepped into a virtual reality game and are sparring over the interpretation of the rules of the game. The rules consist mainly of various interpretations by Max of interpretations made over the course of 2,000 years by many theologians.. Mostly it boils down to “Because I say so.” Justin, I appreciate your attempt to bring logic to the game but it still confusing to me.

    I keep wanting to say, step back from the game, take off the VR goggles and deal with the real world. The god of the Bible is not always a loving god, in fact for most of the Old Testiment he is pretty vengeful and does a lot of killing, both of individuals and entire tribes. If he is occasionally a loving god, as in parts of the New Testament , he is a capricious one. He most resembles the other gods of the times in seeking tribute and holding great power, enforcing worship through fear. Hardly the model for an entity perfect in all things. Given the disparities of behaviors chronicled in the Bible, why would one assume that this same god would or could create a best possible world?

    I will listen to this several more times. It is a lot to comprehend on first hearing as I am not familiar with the concepts and terminology as used. Thanks, though for challenging my understanding.

  2. 2
    andrew3112

    Morgan. you think Melissa`s rep0rt is nice… last monday I got themselves a Citroën 2CV after having made $4567 this month an would you believe ten/k lass month. no-doubt about it, this really is my favourite work Ive had. I began this five months/ago and practically straight away began to bring home minimum $76… p/h. BAM21.com

  3. 3
    AKMagpie

    OK, I went back to your previous podcast of August 2012 and listened to it. I think I understand better now. The questions that arose at the end of the lecture mirrored my own and you explained those issues. You are essentially trying to disprove the existence of the Christian god within the arguments advanced by their theologians. Beating them at their own game, so to speak. I will go back to the beginning of Reasonable Doubts podcasts and listen from the first podcast to the current ones. Thanks for the hours of informative listening!

  4. 4
    BradC

    Assuming the truth of the existence of a first cause who created the universe and finely-tuned its constants, and absent any argument showing that there is a statistically significant correlation between an interest in tuning-based activities and the practice of necromancy among an acceptable sample size of deities, I see no reason whatsoever to expect that a deity fond of fine-tuning should also be fond of raising first-century preachers from the dead.

    (From 1:05)

    Brilliant and hilarious!!

    (Still listening to the remainder)

  5. 5
    Ernst K

    Max: “The question is whether it is more reasonable to infer the existence of a fine-tuner to produce a product that exhibits fine-tuning or whether this happened by random chance or necessity. The random chance hypothesis is so unfathomably improbable that it would be unreasonable to suggest that it is the best explanation.”

    He apparently basis this conclusion on the Penrose probability calculation alone. But he does not mention that the Penrose calculation is not an estimate of the probability that our universe was created by chance, its an estimate of the of the probability of the universe would be as it is if it were created by chance.

    This point is key because Max uses the Penrose calculation as if it was a calculation of the probability that our universe was created by chance. To draw an analogy, just because the odds of any given 13 card bridge hand is over 1 in 600 billion, you cannot conclude that once you’ve been dealt a hand that there is only a 1 in 600 billion chance that the hand was dealt out randomly. But that is the exact form of argument that Max is using here.

    His entire 3-stage argument depends on this point, and this is a logically fatal error. His entire argument therefore crumbles to nothing on this point alone.

    Max should give up on his PhD studies take an introductory stats course..

  6. 6
    BradC

    I thought you did very well on the debate, but I did have some mixed feelings about the format.

    Not sure if this is what the first commenter, AKMagpie, was referring to, but there were definitely times that the technical philosophical jargon was flying fast and heavy, and the conversation became a little hard to follow. Max’s very first point had me glazing over a few times, and I had to rewind a few other sections to keep from being totally lost.

    Now I understand that there is sometimes a trade-off to be made between language that is more precise/technical vs more easily understood language that might be less precise.

    Normally, though, we tend to lean toward the more technical and precise options when communicating in writing, and lean toward the less technical but more easily understood options when speaking. I think part of the difficulty here was that these were written arguments that then were read aloud by each participant. I know this wasn’t intended to be in the style of a live debate, and maybe that’s what I’m reacting to here. I can’t imagine a live audience would have felt like they were keeping up.

    Certainly there are times that you have to meet the competitor on the same philosophical playing field, which is really what we saw here. But personally, I find a great deal of satisfaction when I hear a simple argument that cuts straight through the clutter of an opposing argument.

    This obviously isn’t possible for all arguments, but here is one recent example that come to mind:

    Physicist Sean Carroll gave a talk entitled God is not a Good Theory, in which he gave the following rebuttal to William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument at 17:30:

    Kalam says: Everything that has a beginning has a cause.

    Refutation: Maybe not.

    By this he means, we can observe a pattern (things have causes) and form a hypothesis about it (everything that has a beginning has a cause), but you still need to actually empirically verify that your hypothesis is correct.

    Anyway, I’ll post a few thoughts in a separate comment about some specific points in the debate. Again, I did enjoy it, and definitely thought you came out ahead, I hope you’ll take my comments in the positive spirit in which they are intended.

  7. 7
    Luke Buizen

    Good Debate

    Your opponent started out (in my mind) very strongly, but I lost intellectual respect for him every time you successfully called him out on misrepresenting an argument of his or of yours.

    Well done in making several easily understandable/memorable arguments (such as the suffering of hell and the analogy of Santa coming down the chimney) that were simple for listeners to recollect, making it obvious when Max tried to sidestep linguistically or deflect arguments.

    In his fairness, you were speaking much more quickly than him, so he couldn’t really address everything in detail.

    Maybe a bit more focus on the inconsistencies in the resurrection accounts would have helped. I doubt any Christians would have been convinced by your arguments against just one of the Gospel narratives, and Max hit all the buzzwords when talking about Jesus’ resurrection, making him appear stronger to anyone who hadn’t looked into the field with any real depth.

    All the philosophical arguments are good to throw around, but I doubt many Christians take them as seriously as the historicity of the biblical resurrection.

  8. 8
    nrdo

    Props to Justin for a very effective debate. I was frustrated with Max’s arguments regarding information theory. It seems that there’s a little cadre of apologists who appeal to “specified information” as if it’s distinct from the accepted mathematical definition of information (defined by Shannon w.r.t. entropy) and requiring no justification. Can anyone tell what he’s talking about?

  9. 9
    Lausten North

    First, +1 to BradC on the “necromancer” thing.

    Second, yes the format is challenging, but it provides so much more information in a shorter time, I think it is worth it. Each listener can then choose to rewind, pause, lookup concepts as needed. In the end, it nails down the arguments to a much higher degree, sealing off the usual follow up comments of “yeah but, that argument was incomplete, so it didn’t really represent MY theology”.

    In this case, a good example is Max’s rebuttal to Justin’s non-God objects argument. I may not know what a “subjunctive counter-factual” is, but I’ve heard the part about God creating us so he could share his love. I suspect an average Christian would key in on that too. Justin replies to this with both tight logic and some colloquial language, soundly refuting the claim.

  10. 10
    busterggi

    I’m sorry guys, i really tried listening but Andrews starting position that a metaphysical, i.e.: supernatural, cause was needed for the universe to exist while its ‘creator’ didn’t have to play by that rule was just awful/ Then he got into citing the gospels as ‘indepent witnesses’, the Testimonium Flavium as actually by Josephus rather than a much later interpolation and generally making statements that even my basic knowledge of higher criticism had shown me were crap…I just refuse to waste my time listening to such pathetic apologetics. Andrew had better never get into a real debate with anyone who hasn’t promised to be nice to him because he’d be shredded.

  11. 11
    Lausten North

    Busterggi, not sure how he could have been “shredded” anymore, without the use ad hominems. Anyway, I was glad for once Justin had a non-inerrantist to talk to. One less thing for the non-fundamentalists to complain about. I was also glad that the topic was “existence of the Christian God”. Proving generic god is too slippery. I think this shows the limited number of arguments, and how they don’t build into a coherent whole, not necessarily Andrews limitations.

    During the introductions I was wondering how they would fill up an MA degree at Liberty U. I think that question was answered, and I’m not too impressed. Although Andrews skills with logic were far above mine, Justin had him on the ropes after the first rebuttal. I couldn’t have picked apart his argument as precisely, but he added that precision to what I found suspicious.

  12. 12
    BradC

    Good summary and review of the debate by the Counter Apologist on his blog:

    http://counterapologist.blogspot.com/2013/08/debate-review-justin-scheiber-vs-max.html

  13. 13
    Lausten North

    Max Andrews has provided a transcript at his site and a few comments, which I hope he expands. I was particularly disappointed by his dismissal of Justin’s argument based on hell, saying that Justin, “overlooks a consistent infralapsarian soteriology”. My limited understanding of that term is that it merely indicates the order in which God selected who would be saved, but it is still a purely Calvinistic view of chosen people. In the debate, Andrews addresses Justin’s request for a justification of infinite punishments for finite crimes but only responds by saying the crimes are infinite too. This puts us poor sinners in the trap of having to stop cursing at God while he is allowing us to burn in hell.

    Max could use some work on Justin’s expansion of Descartes idea of the evil genius, that we can’t know if God is acting in our best interest or is just playing with us. I usually run into this on forums as a defensive move; I point out evil in the world and they claim we can’t know God’s reasons. I agree with them as that is Biblically supported. I’ve never had someone then explain how we can know anything about God. A few have offered simplistic “it is imprinted on our hearts” statements. I’m surprised Max considered it odd, absurd and off topic. For me, it is the best way to show that, even if God exists, he has left us with a world that appears to have nothing supernatural and no way to contact Him. So even if you believe in God, He wants you to figure it out for yourself. Definitely not the God that you find in the Bible.

  14. 14
    Justin Schieber

    The divine lies argument is useful for burning all the bridges between deism and a rational assent to specifically Christian conceptions of God. Sounds entirely appropriate to me.

  15. 15
    joaquinstick

    I feel that Justin had an unfair advantage in this debate: He was right.

    Kidding aside, a problem with First Cause arguments (and yes there are MANY others) is the statement “everything has a cause” is nonsensical. Events have multiple causes rather than a single one, so it seems like it should be a better argument for polytheism.

  16. 16
    Danny W

    Justin,

    The argument that constants whose possible bounds are infinite do not preclude one from making probability statements about them (though what these probabilities mean for any of these constants is a separate issue). The constants cannot actually take the value “infinity”, they are just defined on some region [a,infinity). Any continuous probability distribution with infinite positive support is perfectly capable of handling them. A gamma or positive normal distribution, for example, can be defined on [a,infinity) for any a.

    Perhaps your confusion lies with the thought that “probabilities must sum to 1″, which is true in the discrete case (say the constant could only be 1,2,3,or 4. However, for probability distributions on continuous numbers, the probability densities must integrate to 1. Of course the main issue with this is what do the probability statements even mean? If a constant C can take any value between 0 and infinity, the probability that it is exactly k, for and k between 0 and infinity is 0, even though k is a reasonable value of C and even if the constant follows some gamma distribution. However, P(Ck) (where P indicates “the probability of”) or both will be non zero.

  17. 17
    Reasonable Doubts

    I am not sure I understand your comment Dan but that may be a fault of mine. I can’t wrap my head around discussing the probabilities of k being the case if there is, in no sense, a way we can ensure that the sum of logically exclusive possibilities can be gathered as a total to exhaust the probability space. It seems to me that we must have some sense of ‘countable additivity’.

    For example, in the case of the supposedly finely-tuned constants, if we have no principled way of limiting the upper range, then to claim that they fall under an extraordinarily small LPU range is only trivially true. This is because, even if the Life-Permitting Range was eight billion times larger than what we think it is, we would still be forced to say that it was extremely fine-tuned because it is just a barely registered dot on the ray of infinite possibilities. How exactly would you go about distributing these probabilities? My understanding of these issues is limited so I would appreciate any further clarification.

  18. 18
    BradC

    For me, the weakness of the fine-tuning argument is that it relies so heavily on a layman’s understanding of what those physical constants really mean, along with ad-hoc assumptions about what changing them would really do.

    For the fine-tuning argument really to be persuasive, it would have to provide some evidence that:

    * We know exactly how the universal constants are dependent on each other, if in fact they are
    * We know whether the universal constants are constrained or necessary, in some way
    * We really understand the true impact of changing any of them

    (Note that these are necessary, but not sufficient. You’d still need to persuade me that the values we have are somehow unlikely to be the way they are due to random chance.)

    And if you could do all that, you’d be a famous astrophysicist. If the astrophysicists can’t do this (yet), I don’t have any confidence that Christian apologists can do any better.

  19. 19
    rayndeonx

    Here’s a transcript of the debate. I find reading debates much more congenial to me than listening through them. I read briefly through the debate and there were some oddities.

    Now, I thought Andrews mischaracterized Schieber’s third argument as irrelevant and seemed to think that he could escape it by appealing to perfect being theology. First of all, he argued that perfect being theology does not require that God possess all perfections – but this seems at odds with the tradition which states that God does in fact possess all perfections. For instance, Leibniz understands God to have all positive properties and Descartes understood God as a being possessing all perfections. This is the basis moreover for modern Godelian ontological arguments. So, I think Andrews’ representation of the commitments of perfect being theology as often construed is not entirely accurate.

    Nonetheless, perfect being theology is not going to get him out of Schieber’s third argument. Schieber’s argument is basically an interesting extension of the evidential PoE. Basically, the general “state of the art” in standard replies to the evidential PoE is to argue for skeptical theism. (Although there is some movement back to theodicy on the part of some philosophers) A good statement of skeptical theism can be found in Michael Bergmann’s paper “Skeptical Theism and the Problem of Evil.” Now, on skeptical theism, as Schieber pointed out, we can’t determine if there aren’t any morally sufficient reasons God could have for permitting horrors and that is taken to significantly undercut the noseeum inference to that there exists gratuitous evils and consequently God does not exist. Now, some consequences of that are explored in the popular moral skepticism reply, as espoused by Michael Almeida and Graham Oppy as can be seen in their paper “Skeptical Theism and Evidential Arguments from Evil.” or by Stephen Maitzen as can be seen in his paper “The Moral Skepticism Objection to Skeptical Theism.” However, Schieber pursues an interesting sort of objection, perhaps inspired by Erik Wielenberg’s paper on “Skeptical theism and divine lies.” That God could have morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil should transfer to God having morally sufficient reasons for lies – and if the existence of evil conditional to God as a perfect being is not taken as implausible, neither should divine lies conditional to God as a perfect being either. But then, we can no longer trust purported divine revelation.

    This problem is I think more significant than that Schieber presented. For instance, we would in essence have a powerful undercutting defeater for theism itself – for if one believes that God has such and such nature on the basis of some divine text and one has a strong undercutting defeater to the effect that God would always be truthful, then one has a strong undercutting defeater to the extent that God – defined by His traditional attributes -exists at all e.g. that there is a being who satisfies the traditional divine properties. Moreover, we might consider skeptical theism of this sort to quickly lead to a type of global skepticism, as Bruce Russell hints in his paper “Defenseless” in the anthology The Evidential Argument from Evil. We might even consider a Plantinga-esque styled argument from that if we consider the ways in our cognitive faculties could conduce to the truth, they do so in a fairly limited number of ways, but that there exist vastly more ways in which they could fail to conduce to the truth. As such, if we have no reason to believe that an omnipotent being could not have morally sufficient reasons for deceiving as such, we would assign significantly greater probability to the fact that we were indeed being deceived – a self-refuting belief that Plantinga imputes onto evolutionary naturalism. The fragility of the theistic position then would be borne out in navigating between the Scylla and Charybdis of disconfirmation of theism by the evidence of horrors or the self-refuting nature of skeptical theism.

    Now, in his presentation of a probabilistic version of the classical cosmological argument, Andrews argues that which is uncaused is necessary – but this is odd. Necessity is a transworld modal property, but being caused or uncaused does not bear on the modal question, unless you accept the PSR or some version of it. Something can be uncaused but not be metaphysically necessary – exist in every possible world. As such, no defense of the PSR that is implicitly invoked is given and Schieber points out that Andrews did not adequately move from that there is a necessary being to that the necessary being is personal. It’s unclear why Andrews needed to bring up the Aristotelian point about arguing that an essentially ordered series cannot be infinite – as he characterized the argument in modal terms, he can simply take his PSR that all contingent facts have causes to that there exists a necessary being fairly straightforwardly. So neither was there an argument as to why one ought to accept PSR nor as to why the necessary being would be a personal being – the only potential categories are not merely minds or abstract objects. If we look at the structure of various anti-PSR arguments – see a nice summary by Tom Senor here – it seems we have plenty of reasons to reject PSR, insofar as one wants to avoid modal collapse.

    Andrews also accuses Schieber of accepting modal collapse, which is odd because it was unclear where if anywhere Schieber argued for modal collapse. There is nothing about Schieber’s argument from non-God objects, which is basically a combination of the classical problem of what reason a perfect being (who is also perfectly rational) would want for creation and considerations about there being a best possible world. An argument along the same topic but taking a different approach would be William Rowe’s a priori argument for atheism, also falling out as a consequence of perfect being theology. For an explication of this argument, see Klaas Kraay’s “Divine Unsurpassability.

    Also, there was not an adequate response to Schieber’s criticisms of the fine-tuning argument. In brief, Schieber charged Andrews’ with illegitimately adding the expectation of there being a life-permitting universe like this one into the theistic hypothesis to artificially raise the probability conditional to it. Two issues about this in fact: one, I think Schieber should have raised the spectre of skeptical theism here in significantly undermining our capacity to determine what should fall out as a consequence of the theistic hypothesis and thereupon the probability P(fine-tuned universe|theism). Secondly, if the fine-tuning data should cry out for explanation, the fact that there exists such a specific being with a specific set of abilities with a specific nature to bring it about should similarly cry out for explanation. If the regress of explanation is halted by appeal to the metaphysical necessity of the being, then the FTA is just dependent on the previous cosmological argument to begin with. But, moreover, if a modal cosmological argument of this sort is to avoid modal collapse, the typical move is to appeal to libertarian free will, something quite dubious. But even granting that, this makes the problem quite bad for the prospects of the FTA as the necessary first cause can actualize any contingent state of affairs – that is to say, every metaphysically possible world is actualized by virtue of this beings act. But, as Andrews himself pointed out, scenarios involving utterly life barren worlds seem to be metaphysically possible and all sorts of worlds would be metaphysically possible. But, as a consequence, the existence of a fine-tuned universe such as this is not in fact raised conditional to this sort of theism – in fact, if any coherent probability exists at all, one might well argue that it is lowered!

  20. 20
    ForgotMyOrange

    Thanks you BradC, exactly what I was thinking during the debate re the fine tuning constants.

    I actually get kind of concerned that someone, apparently being honest and who is intellectual can think like Max does. It was so black & white for me, even undressing any bias I possibly could, that his arguments & philosophies were so hard-baked to make the cake he wants, specially diluted in complexity to put off any interested interlocutor.
    The more biting & powerful Justin’s arguments were, the more wordy, and deeply philosophical Max dove – assuming he even dove in the same pool. He so conveniently ignored arguments and then dismissed others with only an argument from credulity. Then misconstured others.
    Again so convenient that his intellect carries him this far but fails to recognize an appropriate standard of evidence to deteremine whether someone was actually martyred or not, for example. Particular when that fact is used as evidence that Jesus was resurrected.

    I kind of like to think that ultimately there is at least a fundamental logical correctness in what Justin is saying & that Max really has to admit of less knowledge. It’s amazing to see a mind so intelligent but so tangled in the messy wiring of religious certainty. It would make so much more sense to me, for Max simply to admit of less knowledge. That God might exist, and that his faith is not knowledge.

    It was especially poor to me that he agrees & admits that God is mysterious. That we can know nothing of his ultimate plan and that his mind is so far removed from ours. And that this explains why there is so much apparent evil in the world – that there may be a plan of ultimate goodness, but we can’t possibly understand God’s plan.

    Basically, we can’t possibly understand God at all…
    Then goes on to say.

    But God always tells the truth…

    WHAT?

    You can’t possibly understand God, but you know for certain that he always acts in the way you expect?
    Please choose only one of two opposing statements… for God’s sake.

  21. 21
    Reasonable Doubts

    @rayndeonx,

    Thank you for that extended comment – it was EXTREMELY helpful.

    -Justin

  22. 22
    Reasonable Doubts

    @rayndeonx,

    Your point about the commitments of Perfect Being Theology is one that I wish I had brought up in the debate. The fact is that, while it may be true that some Perfect-being theologians hold that there may be some great-making properties that God does not have, that is NOT the position of Max Andrews. I had extracted this quote from his blog during my research but forgot to use it…

    “For anything that is morally good, it must be founded in a maximally great being, which would apply deontological status.[5] God’s attributes are necessarily so, he maintains such attributes in all possible worlds.  These attributes would be anything, which is of the greatest.” -Max Andrews

  23. 23
    Tom King

    I have nothing but respect for Justin Schieber, but syllogism-based debates like this are far, far too esoteric to be useful to most people. Justin obviously enjoys this kind of thing, and in an academic way I applaud his scholarship. But this kind of exchange is like debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. In the end, both Schieber and Andrews are both simply defining god into (or out of) existence. Both are saying that god *must* have certain attributes, and there is simply no proof either way. It’s like arguing what properties the tooth fairy must have.

    In comparison, the discussion about the resurrection was largely satisfying. Unlike god, physical artifacts and written historical records can exist. They either do or do not exist. In that respect Schieber destroyed Andrews, but neither seemed to notice.

  24. 24
    Jonathan MS Pearce

    I plan on reviewing this debate on A Tippling Philosopher.

    My first response is this:

    What fricking debate was Max Andrews listening to to write/state his conclusion? Seriously?

    Justin, I am not sure Andrews replied in any substantive way to any of your points, counter-points or arguments.

  25. 25
    Danny W

    @Reasonable_Doubts in reply to 17.

    In the case of universal constants that can take any number on a range, we can only think about the probability of the constant lying in a particular interval. So say the constant k is defined on the range [a,b] and the life permitting range is [c,d], we could think about the probability that k is between c and d. What we cannot do is think about the probability that k is exactly k1. This is zero for any k1 because k is continuous.

    Having listened again I think the assumption in this “probability for the fine tuning constant argument” is that of uniformity. I.e. P(k in [c,d]) is proportional to 1/(d-c). In some sense people believe this is close to a vacuous probability statement or a model for no prior knowledge (though it’s actually quite strong). If that is the assumption then you are quite right that you cannot define a uniform density on [a,infinity), but since I don't see any reason to find the assumption compelling, I think your objection is minor at best.

    Let's break the probability of the fine tuning constants argument right down.

    1. We have a bunch of universal constants who's value needs to be what it is (or close) to permit life. Let these constants be k1,...kn.

    2. Each constant "could feasibly have been" any number in its own range so ki could have been any number in [ai,bi] and, for some constants, ai is -infinity or bi is infinity or both.

    3. The null hypothesis means the constants are independent and “all outcomes were equally likely” (scare quotes because we have to talk about probabilities being defined on ranges of equal length or about probability densities as discussed about).

    4. The probability of jointly observing k1,…,kn is spectacularly small.

    5. reject the null hypothesis in favour of a fine tuner hypothesis.

    Justin’s argument is that we can’t define any distribution so that 3 is available. This is right, but is a weaker refutation that I would prefer. I reject 2 (what does it mean to say they could be any number within a given range? Where do these ranges come from? Given that even a slight change to any of the ranges changes all probabilities, and given we have only one universe so no way to experimentally verify these ranges, 2 seems spectacularly strong.

    Particularly given 3, which should be rejected out of hand unless a great deal more effort goes into verifying 2. What does it mean to say ki could have been any number between [ai,bi] and to say that ki is a uniform random draw from [ai,bi]? We have to assume the existence of underlying randomness, probably at the big bang (does randomness exist? Bruno de Finetti would say not), and we have to assume this universe is just one draw from a distribution (I guess via a multiverse or something), and not just any distribution, but one in which, specifically, k1,…,kn is jointly uniformly distributed on [a1,b1]x…x[an,bn]. I do not accept this as a reasonable null hypothesis, it claims far too much.

  26. 26
    Danny W

    2 about should be ai *could be* minus infinity or bi *could be* not is. sorry

  27. 27
    Curt Cameron

    I listened to the whole thing, but it was not easy for this non-philosopher. But I have a question.

    I’ve listened to several debates with William Lane Craig, and a few with other apologists, and when they try to proffer these philosophical arguments, my thought is that it’s clearly transparent bullshit that’s then layered with a bunch of high-falutin’ words like soteriology and ontology, that they can’t be actually trying to convince anyone with the argument. What they’re doing is giving the Christians in the audience the mistaken impression that some really smart people have already looked into all this, and their belief in God really is justifiable after all. This stuff is too complicated, so don’t worry your pretty little heads about it, but be confident in your faith because people who use words like “soteriology” say that it’s the reasonable thing to do.

    So Justin, if you are entertained by participating in these kinds of debates, don’t let me dissuade you, but I don’t think anyone will be swayed in their conclusions by any of it. Skeptics of religion don’t give any credence to the apologists’ bogus arguments anyway, and what you seem to be doing is trying to beat them at their own little game.

    It’s like the old saying about wrestling with pigs.

  28. 28
    Curt Cameron

    By the way, recently I listened to a debate from a couple of years ago between apologists Peter S. Williams and William Lane Craig, against Arif Ahmed and Andrew Copson on the rationalist side. I thought our two guys did a great job – the apologists spouted their usual bullshit, the rationalists straightforwardly explained why it was bullshit.

  29. 29
    andrewviceroy

    Great job Justin! You know you got ‘em on the run when the conclusion sounds more like the argument from outrage than anything else. The contention that a world where fishes and loves are magically multiplied, staffs turn into snakes, seas can be parted with the wave of a hand, etc., is actually considered *less* “metaphysically absurd” cannot be ignored–the ‘intra-Christian’ theology is relevant if we are framing things in this way.

    It’s interesting that Andrews thinks a non-moral particle would not degrade the null world/Godworld. Consider the aesthetic and compositional purity of an otherwise perfect diamond with an oblique particle in it. Inelegance and complexity are introduced *mathematically*—it seems that it is HE who belies the role of information ontologically here. The harmonious and symmetrical math describing the original diamond suddenly gets crazy and we are forced to start equivocating when using descriptors like elegant and parsimonious. The late Mark Perakh wrote about this in his book Unintelligent Design, considering information complexity mathematically in a comparison of a rock on a beach and a red rubber ball (in his case, arguing against Paley’s argument via inelegance and dissymmetry). Andrews seems to belie both the corruption of and increased complexity in information post null world.

    It seems to me that there’s something interesting about the way a theist must approach the null world. If our world really is an improvement upon the null world/Godworld, for whatever ethical reason, then the null world/Godworld would be remiss without it. This in itself would suggest a kind of theology you’d expect from open-theists, such as that either god and the world co-emerged (thus eluding some of the problems discussed, but sacrificing more traditional theological positions) or that the world is as eternal as god itself.

    My question is: if our world has benefit over the null world, how could it ever not have existed and why should it ever end? I’m glad Justin used the Trinity to knock out any relationship benefits between ‘persons,’ because they would all already exist in the null world, perfectly. I use that too. I sometimes ask Christians why the reason that this world should exist over the null world does not simultaneously justify why our world should be eternally perpetuated. If there is a reason why it should suddenly stop, exactly why would it negate that reason *at that point*? What number of saved souls is that and is it arbitrary or magically significant (144,000)? It is VERY difficult to come up with a good reason that would suddenly benefit from a non-arbitrary termination point. Try it.

  30. 30
    andrewviceroy

    “He acts in accordance with duties, but does not act out of duty” –Andrews

    This alludes to the typical response to the Euthyphro dilemma. Cake and Eat. I’m so tired of this god being able to avoid moral coherence and yet simultaneously be EXPECTED TO BE a moral example *that we can and should recognize and understand* via documented action in the bible (e.g. a hundred examples of mercy in the OT, the crucifixion, etc.). Yet we are given no heuristics for delineating these actions from divine privilege to moral example. Cake and Eat. If this god is absolved of responsibility in this manner, especially in the light of the concession that we are epistemically impotent in discerning *why* god is good, than *as far as we know*, anything goes ethically, in action, intention, and consequence. He is free and clear of human critique on both epistemic AND ontological grounds.

    I wonder how many theists take on these kinds of suppositions and then make moral arguments for the existence of god. He didn’t do that here, but I wonder if he thinks they are persuasive. I can’t wait to see this god in 50 years. The project of creating the concept most impervious to critique in all of history will be so insulated that rebuttals will cease to exist. Arguments will get increasingly pragmatic.

  31. 31
    Martin365

    Just 15 minutes in to this, and I must say I’m disappointed. I was hoping to hear an intelligent, mature opening statement from Mr. Andrews (given his impressive CV) but instead it’s three childish, laughable assertions that would be shot down easily in a high school debating competition.

    I’m now returning to the podcast … go for it, Justin …

  32. 32
    Martin365

    Hah! By the closing statements, you can tell that Mr. Andrews just wants it to be over.
    I think this is where my kids would use the term “pwned”.

  33. 33
    Susan Collins

    Hi Everyone,

    Just a short post about what I believe is the core of Christian faith.

    I believe that our religion (Christianity) teaches people to be kind and peaceful and loving. Anyone who commits evil acts certainly isn’t acting in a kind, peaceful or loving manner. Therefore, they are not a true member of our Chrisitan faith, no matter what they say.

    This is strict opinion but I stick by what I say. If you are dedicated to Chrisitanity you will only ever perform good acts and if you are pursauded otherwise your belief is not strong enough, therefore you dont have the right to call yourself a Christian. Yes forgivness is an important part of our faith and I do very much believe in forgivness but there is a limit to everything.

    In faith, remember to be kind, peaceful and loving to everyone.

    SC

  1. 34
    Initial Impressions on the Andrews-Schieber Debate: Part 1

    […] and Atheist Justin Schieber recently had a debate on the existence of the Christian god. Both audio and a transcript are available online. I think it’s well worth listening to or reading. In […]

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    The Winding Path – 026 | In the service of Truth.

    […] Lausten - Reasonable Doubts high level debate […]

  3. 36
    Is belief in God irrational? My soon-to-be-released debate with Chris Hallquist

    […] writing to invite me to debate Chris Hallquist who blogs as The Uncredible Hallq. In emulation of Schieber’s Reasonable Doubts debate with Max Andrews  the format would be as […]

  4. 37
    Justin Schieber on atheism and theism

    […] You can also listen to Justin’s recent debate on God’s existence with Christian Max Andrews here. […]

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