Open thread: In which Stephen Feinstein talks to himself

Stephen wrote a post entitled “Debating the Atheist — My Closing Comments.”  Of course, he previously agreed that his closing comments would be the fifth post, but that doesn’t matter, because Stephen had to award himself the final word.  Besides, he doesn’t expect you to read it.  He drew this to my attention in a brief message saying, “I know you will not link this, but just in case you wanted to read it, here are my closing remarks regarding your final response. Thanks for taking the time to debate me. ”

So anyway, as a brief summary: I’m a liar, because I kept harping on the fact that Stephen said that God creates logic.  That’s not right at all.  No, instead, God thinks about logic, and that causes logic to exist.  That is, of course, entirely different from the other thing.  Which makes me not only a liar, but also still a Nazi.  And finally: Bible quotes!

My last post remains my last post. However, I’d recommend that all you sinners go over there and give feedback, since there’s a comment box open, but I’ve heard from commenters on the previous thread that the comments are moderated and none are getting published.  So feel free to try, but if you can get through, then just go ahead and give your reactions on this open thread.

And of course, Christians (including Stephen) are welcome to join in.


  1. keith collura says

    Sure “God thinks about logic”, “God is a man”, “he had ONE son”, and we know this simply because……..people like Stephan tell us.

  2. says

    Why would God need to think about logic? Logic is a way for imperfect, non-omniscient minds to sort through our perceptions and separate the dreams, imaginings, biases, perceptual errors and other neurological glitches from reality. An omniscient being already has a direct line to reality, so again, why would he be thinking about logic?

  3. says

    There are no comments there at all. not even ones supporting his arguments. He’s either on vacation or has no defenders, he clearly has detractors.

  4. Mr. Lynne says

    I found his whole approach to the exchange (is that being too polite) odious. I now find his inability to process the reasoning of others odious. I find his reasoning in general to be odious as well.

    Still, it was a useful exercise in how not to reason clearly. Or more specifically, how to avoid reasoning through others’ points by deflection.

  5. extian says

    I just tried to post a comment on his blog, but it hasn’t shown up yet. I’m thinking he’s just overwhelmed by the amount of comments from atheists and doesn’t want to make his site look bad.

  6. Shawn says

    “After the last three responses, I would have thought Russell might finally understand this. ALL CONTINGENT things need a cause. That is a universal law. Is God contingent? No.”

    Well isn’t that convenient… How does he know this? Why can’t the state of the universe at the moment of the big bang be non contingent?

  7. Kazim says

    I believe I already addressed this in an earlier post when I said that he uses “contingent” to mean “you have to explain the cause” and “necessary” to mean “I don’t have to explain the cause.” It’s meaningless verbiage heaped on the already circular argument. In fact, he ADMITTED it was circular in this last post.

    Or to put it another way: “All things which have a cause, have a cause.”

  8. sebastian says

    I distinctly remember Stephen being in position of a dictionary. I think he should look up the word “product”.

  9. Dark_Monkey_316 says

    So Stephen spent five rounds of debate, only to actually start debating in the sixth round after the debate was over? In his closing arguments section he starts to say why what Russell said is inaccurate saying what fallacies he used. If he thought this before, why would he not bring it up in the debate?

    I’ve started to notice this among theists/apologetic’s. They debate without actually debating, but when the debate is over, they then come up with things that they should of brought up in the debate itself. Do they do this on purpose so that they can’t be proven/discussed wrong?

    After reading Stephen’s post, I’m thinking that this is a strategy they use to win the debates. A very calculated (and maybe smart), but very dishonest thing to do. Just wondering if anyone else notices that too.

  10. says

    I was taught that the validity of a logical argument is always hypothetical and depends on the truth of the premises. Even if the ‘contingent and necessary beings’ argument is “flawlessly logical” that says nothing in and of itself about any resemblance between its conclusion and reality. Show me the confirming data!

    Did Feinstein just admire Spock too much? He seems desperate for the accolade of, “Logical. Flawlessly logical,” completely forgetting that annoying necessity to ground the truth of the premises to something other than logic if he wants his conclusions to be valid in the real world. Even Vulcans can’t skip having true premises if they want to arrive at a true conclusion.

  11. EDG says

    Summary of Stephen’s post, organized by paragraph. (Did this for my own benefit. Thought I would share.)

    Stephen spent 2,741 words:

    1) Imagining a Atheist/Communist discussion with Russell.
    2) Inventing a new term for “false dichotomy” and strawmanning Russell.
    3) Strawmanning Russell again. Strange fixation on specific # of words used.
    4) Insisting that Russell’s logic is deficient.
    5) Insisting that Russell’s position is unreasonable.
    6) Responding to one of Russell’s criticisms, calling Russell a liar while himself obscuring the discussion. To be fair, I think the discussion had been about how presupposing god was necessary for to account for “logic” and not specifically about it being necessary for “science to work”. I don’t see the practical difference. Russell maybe swapped “science” for “logic.” It still doesn’t make sense.
    7) Responding to another Russell criticism by claiming that “creation” is significantly different than “expression of God’s mind.” He does not explain how this changes the argument/claim. Suggests that Russell does not think presuppositions are important – I found this hilarious.
    8) Stephen insists that his arguments are sound and very clear and that Russell ignored them (despite addressing two of Russell’s responses thus far).
    9) “God did not create logic” again. Again fails to explain how there’s any practical difference between “created” logic and “product of god’s mind” logic. And there’s a shout-out to commenters on the AXP posts. We all “fell for it”, folks.
    10) The same bit of special pleading he’s been doing this whole time. “Everything is contingent except god”. Still no followup explanation for why that is or how he knows that there is exactly one necessary (non-contingent) thing.
    11) Complaining about tone of Russell’s posts. (I could have done with less sarcasm from both parties.) Accuses Russell from diverting the discussion despite addressing at least 3 criticisms at this point.
    12) Talks about their mutual friend. Another shot at Russell’s honesty.
    13) Nazi stuff.
    14) Comments about comments on Russell’s posts.
    15) Denies appealing to “fear and emotion” while admitting that one of his goals was: “to show them that they have a massive problem (they all sin against God’s law and their conscience) and there is a consequence.” 🙁
    16) Insists that he’s provided evidence for his suppositions (wouldn’t they cease being suppositions, then?). Misunderstands “Materialism.”
    17) Again insists that Russell doesn’t understand the importance of presuppositions. :/
    18) Complains that Russell wasn’t much of a challenge.
    19) Again claims that Russell didn’t respond to his arguments. (I think he had addressed 3 or 4 or Russell’s criticisms/counterarguments at this point). Am I the only one who thinks it’s bizarre that he’s responding to rebuttals but denying that Russell is making rebuttals? Strawmans/misunderstands “materialism”. Or invents “atheistic materialism”. Claims that he proved that atheism is untenable and (!)impossible.
    20) Suggests that we “untrained” (un-indoctrinated?) are incapable of getting it. But if we were true free-thinkers, we would. Seems like more or less a “No True Scotsman” fallacy.
    21+) Bible quotes, links to sermons, etc.

    Pants on fire, Russell. 😛

  12. invivoMark says

    Stephen has spent far more time claiming victory than he has actually working toward such a victory. I started to wonder whom he was really trying to convince….

    Well done, Russell.

  13. sharkjack says

    I was taught that the validity of a logical argument is always hypothetical and depends on the truth of the premises. Even if the ‘contingent and necessary beings’ argument is “flawlessly logical” that says nothing in and of itself about any resemblance between its conclusion and reality. Show me the confirming data!

    I think you’re confusing validity with soundness, or you were taught wrong. An argument is valid when if the premises are true, the conclusion neccicarily follows. An argument is sound when it is both of valid structure and the premises are true. The argument: Humans only die when they’re poisoned, Socrates died so he was poisoned is perfectly valid. The premises aren’t true though, so the argument isn’t sound. The problem is that an invalid argument can still arrive at a true conclusion, but this conclusion isn’t warranted if the premises are unsound. If I had replaced poisoned with stabbed through the heart, the conclusion would be false, but the argument would still be valid.

    Since we can never really know premises to a 100% certainty, the soundness of an argument can always be challenged by challenging the premises. The validity however, can be determined completely. (assuming we’re talking deductive arguments of course).

  14. keith collura says

    I posted something as well pointing out humans and animals have instinct and that’s immaterial, etc etc and it didnt post so I hit “preview” then it asked for captcha confirmation then displayed “awaiting approval” so who knows if it will make its way up. He’ll probably post something saying “hahah look no one dared to share any comments here cause they can’t refute my stance.” As I always say, never trust a theist when it comes to defending their faith.

  15. Thursday's Child says

    This was mentioned in another thread, but I still think one of Stephen’s biggest mistakes was insisting on the uniformity of a created universe. Presumably, as a Christian, Stephen believes in miracles. Miracles by definition cannot occur in a uniform universe and to claim otherwise is incoherent. So which is it Stephen, god’s miracles or a logical and fully predictable uniformity?

  16. robertwilson says

    The more pre-sup nosnense I read the more I wonder how in the world you can ever get someone who is so fargone as to assume that everything he makes up is just as valid as everything you argue coherently to see that you’re not making shit up but he is.

    It really is a sort of philosophy anyone can adopt. Granted the debaters are usually the ones who have a bacground in some philosophy (and proceed to butcher/ignore it but sound flowery) but it can make anyone who is entirely ignorant of how things work comfortable with the idea that they know just as much as anyone else.

  17. jmd777 says

    presuppositional evangelism requires no proof of a real god, just philosophical points that ‘prove’ their god exists is sufficient to not only claim victory in every debate, but to completely ignore any and all challenges to that thinking.

    there is no requirement to prove any other holy text wrong, or to prove theirs is right anymore. it allows them to claim a young earth inspite of over-whelming science that proves otherwise. they can’t lose any debate because they are the only ones who have the truth, and logic, as we have seen, is intrinsically a god thing, though Stephen has yet to prove that either…

    thank you Russell for enduring this load of rubbish for us so we can absorb the essence of the bullshit lies the christian is now armed with!

  18. says

    Some comments on Stephen’s site have now appeared. At the end he says words to the effect of ‘I can’t reply to every post, so can’t allow every post to clear’.

    So he’s only passing posts he’s willing to reply to. Seems odd – Russell isn’t restricting posts here to the ones he can personally reply to.

    This is the same method Chris Bolt uses on his pre-sup blog. He’ll only let atheists’ posts appear once he’s got his reply ready, then both will appear at once – your post and his rebuttal right below. Thus he always gives himself last word. At a certain arbitrary point he’ll declare the discussion over and close posts down – with Bolt’s being the last one, of course.

  19. says

    Hi Russel, I liked the debate. The only thing I wish you pressed him on was the origins of his presuppositions. After all, if accounting for the laws of logic are so important he is basically holding the flamethrower in the wrong direction.

    He believes that this entity has always existed and there was nothing before it. This means that the most basic state of the universe is love and any other characteristic he wanted to assign to this thing. But why would this be the case? There is no purpose or reason as to why these characteristics should present themselves in this way. If there is a purpose or reason it would imply that another entity assigned these traits. Also, why would an entity like this exist in the first place? So, we have an entity that exists without a reason or a purpose who’s characteristics were just as likely to be something other than what they are and are, therefore, random (random: being or relating to a set or to an element of a set each of whose elements has equal probability of occurrence). And ultimately, if the reason for the existence of something is random isn’t the nature of that object inherently random? Hence the universe.

    Um, that was a lot for a single paragraph, and I hope I articulated myself well enough. It’s just that I think if you pressed these points about his own axioms early on you two could have moved past axioms and onto something else

  20. says

    A couple of the things that I noticed (among many others), were Stephen’s arguments that god is necessary, therefore Christian trinity and his confusion of random as the opposite of uniform.

    Even if one were to buy his argument that God is a necessary being, which he never proved, his link between this entity and the Christian triune God(s) is just thrown in there. He doesn’t waste any time on it at all.

    I did not understand at all his continuing fixation on randomness and uniformity. He has these exactly backwards. With the God of the Bible doing miracles, the laws of physics, biology, etc, are very maleable and subject to whim.

  21. roggg says

    Stephen spent 5 rounds insisting that if only Russel understood his argument, he would just have to agree, and that you cant ignore the transcendental argument, and that necessity is a defined property of his god, and so it applies by definition, and blah blah blah. He even dodged the first step of establishing premises. I failed to see where he actually made his argument, and to be honest I think he used way too many words to say nothing at all. Possibly that was the point of the run-on rambling.

    Anyway, every time I read one if his responses, all that comes to mind is the Emperor’s new clothes. Why haven’t you refuted the argument I made Russel? Because you haven’t made one yet. Put some clothes on for god’s sake…

  22. keith collura says

    ***Beware of the fine print on his blog. In other words if you stump him he won’t post it. FYI- I did not reply with an insult about his incorrect usage of “atheist’s” 🙂

    “I need to let all of the atheist’s know that I will not be able to respond to each comment. As a result, I will not publish each one. The nonsensical insulting ones will be disregarded.” -Stephen Feinstein

  23. says

    I am, no doubt, often confused. LOL If anyone finds it necessary, please feel free to swap out the words valid and sound in the above. My underlying snark holds, either way.

  24. Kazim says

    The policy at this blog is, innocent until proven guilty. Unless someone’s very first post is spam or name calling, they are allowed through moderation immediately and permanently. After that they can be kicked, but only if they persistently and deliberately lie or ignore previous responses. Or in some cases, act openly racist or sexist.

    I’ve had my own posts in the past buried under unfavorable comments. While I don’t like it when that happens, I don’t shut down the comments, delete the post, or block all dissent.

    My impression is that Stephen has to be in full control of all the responses to his blog so that he can’t show signs of weakness.

  25. Tyler Overman says

    I’m crossposting this in case he doesn’t approve of it. I see no reason why a reasonable person wouldn’t.


    I have two simple questions.

    1: Do you think that “God” is a distinct identity from “God’s mind?” If so, what are the other parts of God that are distinct from his mind?

    2: What is the qualitative difference between “X created Y” and “Y is the product of X?” It seems like you are saying, “This machine does not create widgets! Rather, widgets are a product of this machine.” I don’t see a difference between those two statements.

  26. amadeusmaxwell says

    So, I don’t often read text based debates(although in theory they should be better as it gives all opponents time to put more thought into their response, it doesn’t seem to happen in practice), and its even rarer that I feel compelled to respond, but after sifting through everything here, I really feel like I need to say this is perhaps the best work I’ve seen from Russell, particularly round 3.

    Hell, as far as debates go, this may have been the best I’ve seen in oblitering an opponent so absoluetly. This was brilliant. I really hate participating in all the patting “my side” on the back, but there’s no way Feinstein could actually be so oblvious as to actually be reading Russell’s posts and think that Russell hadn’t addressed his arguement.

  27. milesalpha says

    I like the part where he says he would delete any insulting (was previously obnoxious) posts, and then goes on merrily insulting Russell and atheists in general in his replies. Hypocrite? Certainly not!

    Isn’t there something in the Bible about humility? Did he miss that part?

    Feinstein touched all the bases of a Youtube kid, insulting, presumptuous (his little prayer for Russell at the end of part 4 was beyond boorish but entertaining if you imagined a muslim doing the same to Feinstein) and childish by awarding himself the victory at the end. A pretty poor representative of Christianity, think I’ll stick with Francis Collins and file this guy away with Phelps and Shockofgod (pinhead file).

    Yep I was obnoxious, I truly feel that’s what he deserves for his effort.

  28. mandrellian says

    Funny how so many Christian debaters/philosophers/apologists heavily moderate or censor dissent or just disallow comments altogether, then turn around and accuse atheists of being intellectually dishonest or afraid of robust discussion – or just liken us to Stalin or some other infamously repressive dictator (convenienetly forgetting the 20th century tyrants were aping the methods of their own faith, honed over the previous millennium).

    Feinstein only allowing the comments he thinks he can demolish (or, perhaps, the ones that kiss his arse) is the mark of a craven & insecure mind – especially given his repeated claims of a swift and decisive victory.

  29. Matt Gerrans says

    Thanks for the nice summary EDG! A typo: “Accuses Russell from diverting the discussion despite addressing at least 3 criticisms at this point.” — I think that should be “Accuses Russell of…”

    Regarding your comment about Stephen repeatedly declaring victory and/or that his points have not been addressed/refuted (and therefore are ironclad and true): I don’t know who originated this technique (it is probably ancient), but it is certainly a favorite among apologists. In particular, it is a mainstay of The Professional Philosopher, Dr. William Lane Craig, PhD, Professional Philosopher and Very Important Authority on the Origin of The Universe and Everything, which is of course (coincidentally!) his own Christian God(s).

  30. codemonkey says

    I just added to posts to his blog. (Already mentioned in full in the earlier thread here.) Let’s see if they get through. They are:

    #1: How do you justify the Christian god of the Bible as opposed to any other description of god that fulfills your criteria?

    #2: How do you account for the fact that all of the scientific evidence is against catastrophism (flood geology / flood cosmology)? Do you believe that catastrophism has any falsifiable predictions of future sensory experience? Do you believe that our shared reality looks exactly as if “atheistic” science was correct? If not, can you point out scientific evidence which disagrees please? — Oh, and throw on a reference to SN 1987A (which demonstrates c-decay is wrong) and for good measure.

  31. codemonkey says

    Meh, I need to copypasta this rant, and pare it down to be as succinct as possible.

    To most of the posters of the posts that already got through on Stephen’s blog: It seems to be a colossal waste of time to argue against his word salad (though of course you’re welcome to try; it’s your time). Yes he is using word salad, but at least because it’s word salad it’s also irrelevant.

    I see word salad claims like this all the time, and almost never do I get people to admit that their claim is word salad. It’s so difficult precisely because they are making any sensible claims. You can’t show them wrong, because that would admit that they are making a claim that might be able to be judged wrong. You can’t even say they’re unjustified, because that again admits that they are making a claim that might be able to be judged right or wrong. The best you can do is demonstrate that they’re not even wrong.

    I much prefer pressuring these people on the points that matter, such as scientific claims, and the claims that an afterlife exists and worship of Jesus gets you in. These are the points which Stephen has not yet addressed at all, and these are the points that matter. I do not care if he demonstrated via word salad that a first cause god must exist. Whatever. As long as that belief exists in a bubble and does not influence his other beliefs and actions, it is irrelevant and vacuous. Only when he bothers to explain how this matters is when I start caring, and when I might be able to make some headway IMHO.

  32. Kazim says

    Thanks a lot for the summary, EDG. I skimmed the post mostly, because I feel like I’m done with my obligation to Stephen.

  33. codemonkey says

    Indeed. Thank you. I had no intention to read it, and I still don’t, but the executive summary was useful.

  34. says

    Stephen has decided that allowing comments is too much work, so I guess I’ll have to post here.

    First, after repeatedly calling Russell a liar, he quotes:

    Try as Stephen might, he can’t make it a universal law that all things need a cause, since that would contradict his conclusion about God.

    However, he leaves out the very next bit

    And once we grant that some things are simply self-existing, there’s no justification for refusing to recognize the laws of logic as being in that category

    The point here is that Russell puts up a dilemma: either everything has a cause or some things do not have a cause. The first option leads to a contradiction, since Stephen wants his god to be uncaused, and the second option leads to an opening for the atheists, since we can simply say that logic itself is uncaused.

    Stephen pretends that the second bit never existed. He leaves out the second part of a dilemma. Some would say that this is a bit of a misrepresentation. Wicked tongues might even call it dishonest.

    Second, in the comments (here), Stephen writes:

    Because I am a person, I have a mind. Likewise, because God is the necessary, self-existing person, He has a mind. Logic is simply the laws of thought

    Which leads me to wonder, how does he account for these laws of thought? Are they themselves necessary or contingent? If necessary, why can’t we account for logic just by saying it’s necessary. If contingent, how is it different from saying that they’re created by god?

    It sounds to me that he thinks logic is necessarily a part of how minds work. If that’s the case, I don’t see why we need to involve god. Naturally, he would assume that god is the original person with the original mind, but there’s no compelling argument for why we should agree.

  35. beammeupscotty says

    Word salad, is an apt description of Stephen’s entire attempt at argument. The fundamental failure of his efforts are made apparent by the fact that not one single Christian posted any supporting comments on his blog and not a single atheist appears to have been swayed in the slightest by his efforts. If his arguments were actually as cogent and clear as he claims, surely someone would have expressed some support for his positions.


    Stephen, you lose.

    This entire process leaves me wondering, does Stephen actually believe he is making some sort of actual argument, or does he know that he is obfuscating, and hopes or thinks that we all will not realize it? In other words, I wonder if he is sincere and incoherent, or if he knows his writing is incoherent and thinks to win converts by confusion. The fact that in his “closing statement” he repeated calls Russell a liar, make me think the latter may be the case.

  36. codemonkey says

    It’s so difficult precisely because they are making any sensible claims.

    Ack. Missing a “not”.

  37. EDG says

    “I wonder if he is sincere and incoherent, or if he knows his writing is incoherent and thinks to win converts by confusion.”

    Before my de-conversion, I was the former. Looking back, I see that I was basically conditioned to justify god-beliefs by reasoning “backwards” and cherry picking premises that supported the conclusion that “god is more or less the god of the bible”.

    Obviously I don’t know what’s going on in his head but I know it’s possible to be sincere and incoherent and not realize it.

  38. says

    Wait, what? I pointed out what I saw as a flaw in Stephen Feinstein’s argument, as paraphrased by you “God thinks about logic, and that causes logic to exist” by noting that an omniscient being wouldn’t have cause to think about logic, and now I’m the lone Christian voice in this discussion? Not to mention that I have suddenly become male, according to ah58 and retarded, according to queseantriniwell.

    There may be flaws in the point I made, but do you think that in between hazarding guesses as to my sex, religion, and IQ somebody could maybe point out what they are?

  39. says

    No, I meant the “your retarded” guy is the only one to support Stephen so far.

    According to the facebook page linked to in his name, queseantriniwell describes himself as an atheist.

  40. Clifford Baines says

    Heh. “I am going to suspend the comments for the time being. Maybe when Christians start posting as well, it will generate discussions between the two groups.”

    And how does he expect Christians to start posting when he has disabled their ability to do so? The man is a contradiction machine.

    There’s a lot to criticize about his arguments, but one of his biggest problems is applying unwarranted absolutism to philosophical concepts (both his own and Russell’s). For example, he thinks that the existence of categories like “humanity” and “height” is a deathblow to materialism, since categories have no physicality unto themselves. But that would be the most absurdly rigid form of materialism; I think any sensible materialist sees little difference between identifying specific attributes of an object (which Feinstein thinks is acceptably materialistic) and giving general names to similarities among attributes seen in multiple objects. I may be getting out of my philosophical league here, but I would venture to say that materialism posits that all things proceed from the material, not necessarily that all things are material – especially not in the most grossly physical sense.

    And as an example of Feinstein’s unwarranted absolutism applied to his own arguments, he stakes his necessary-divine-being claim on the idea that the contingency we see in the objects around us extends to the universe as a whole. But that contingency is only ever of form; the substance of matter and energy seems both indestructible and uncreatable. Moreover, some calculations suggest that all the energy in the universe actually cancels itself out, which lends further credence to the notion that the universe is in some way fundamentally self-contained and needs no exterior input. Of course nothing is proven here, but the point is that Feinstein’s leap from the contingency of forms within the universe to the contingency of the universe itself is far from the obvious truth he makes it out to be.

  41. ladyh42 says

    Well, since objective ways of determining a winner have been arbitrarily thrown away, I will say this. This debate did not change my mind about Atheism, but it did help me to understand the ideas of logical laws and presuppositional arguments a whole lot better. All I can say is that it should be illegal to torture logic the way that Stephen did. It was painful to watch.

    “Because I am a person, I have a mind. Likewise, because God is the necessary, self-existing person, He has a mind. Logic is simply the laws of thought”

    Couldn’t one turn this around? Wouldn’t being a person in and of itself mean contingent and therefore not self existing or necessary? We know of no persons (presumably) that are not contingent so how would he be able to say otherwise? Also, I don’t know if I can entirely agree with the idea of thought being immaterial, for no other reason than without brains thoughts cannot exist. Logic and physics would be true whether we existed or not, but the language to describe them, a necessity for brains, would not.

  42. milesalpha says

    He did claim to have supporters, and an unidentified agnostic friend who supported him. Interesting that none of them have posted, despite his plea for them to do so in his “summary”. Perhaps they are Luddites? Technologically challenged? Still formulating a comment? Not supporters but another word he thinks means the same thing? A figment of his imagination?

  43. eriktb says

    Just for giggles, let’s say there were a god why does he assume that god must be necessary or non-contingent?

    Let’s say the Universe absolutely must have some sort of creator. Why is there any reason to think that creator was not also created? Further, why would that god have to be any particular god? How would one even begin to try to prove such a thing? His position seems so strange to me.

  44. robertwilson says

    He replied to my question before closing everything and I’m here to make sure I’m not crazy or anything.

    I asked about hand-waving and as far as I can tell his answer translates to “*hand-waving*. See, no hand-waving.”

    Is that how you all read this?

    “Yet, there had to be the first of each kind of contingency, and that first was caused (by definition). When we work our way back to the beginning of the universe itself, a necessary being is necessary since we cannot have an uncaused contingent universe. There is no hand-waving here my friend.”

    I’m pretty sure stating that you the universe had to be one way, then adding “a necessary being is necessary” should have been understood by him as the kind of hand-waving I wanted him to avoid.

  45. says

    I want to know why god wouldn’t think about logic if he’s “all knowing” he has no choice but to think about our logic because if he’s trying to relay a moral message to the world or display to us he’s real in the bible is the book to get us into heaven then he should.
    Step one: come down and speak to us.
    Step two: take our logic into consideration and give us extraordinary evidence for the not so gullible people cause as it seems he fond of us humans and like putting tons of rules on humans.
    Step 3: it shouldn’t be no steps because if he is real he should have known humans would evolve into much smarter species over time.
    I maybe retarded to this topic or to understanding this topic but please correct me if i am . this my first time on these blogs.

  46. codemonkey says

    I’m with you. It’s just another variation of the “there must be first cause” argument, with special pleading thrown in.

    As I understand his argument: I just pulled out of my ass criteria which let’s me decide if things have causes. The universe fits these criteria, thus it has a cause. I take an implicit premise that an infinite regress of causes is not allowed. Thus there is a first cause, and thus it does not have a cause, and thus it does not fulfill my ass-pull criteria of things which have causes.

    My replies would be: It seems plausible to me to have an infinite regress of causes. I do not see why this is a problem. Also, your criteria of things which have causes is arbitrary and an asspull. Also, your definition of “cause” for things outside of space-time is ill-defined and not workable.

    Also, a preemptive challenge of a hypothetical reply: No, you cannot cite science and evidence that everything physical has a cause, and thus the universe needs a cause. Please see quantum theory for events which seemingly do not have causes. Also please stop invoking this strong form of the uniformity principle – that’s not science. Those who actually do science recognize that extrapolation outside the data set range is fraught with peril. You see, you are taking a data set of mundane events, and extrapolating well outside the limits of the data range to the big bang event. That’s a bad extrapolation. It’s especially bad because we think our current understanding of physics is only an approximation, and possibly / probably physics is vastly different at the extreme conditions of the big bang (and before, if there was a before).

  47. codemonkey says

    I’m not sure, but I think his argument is as follows: The universe needs a cause. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes. Thus there is a first cause. By some bullshit arguments, we know some properties of the first cause (such as personality, etc.). I call this first cause “god”. I don’t think he’s arguing there are no intermediaries, but he would probably argue that any intermediaries are irrelevant because god is omniscient or something. See down-thread for my problems with this argument.

  48. codemonkey says

    I agree queseantriniwell. I agree that the options appear to be: 1- Christian god doesn’t exist. 2- Christian god is a dumbass or otherwise preoccupied. 3- Christian god is testing for gullibility (or the functional equivalent).

  49. says

    You mind your business also im not talking to you so dont reply to me cause your not the person im talking to and you cannot talk for the person im talking to cause your not that person so F Off please and thank you

  50. says

    You seem to be confused about the concept of a comment thread. Anyone can reply to anyone else here. You don’t have to respond to other people’s comments, but you can’t prevent them from making them and they’re not doing anything wrong when they do so. We do not require your permission to comment on what you say.

  51. says

    I think I need some feed-back on this: couldn’t it be possible that every single entity within the universe was contingent, but the universe as a whole was necessary?

    As an analogy, look at a simple die roll. While none of the possible results are necessary, it is necessary that one of them be the result.
    Thus, it’s a necessary fact that some universe exist, but no single feature of that universe is necessary. And since the universe in general is necessary, I don’t have to account for it. It’s just necessary.

    Is there a problem with that?

  52. Erba says

    One thing that I hadn’t realized before with the whole necessary/contingent dichotomy is that apologists tend to refer to the necessary side as a being. That’s the same kind of loaded language as when somebody asks who instead of what created the universe (created is also loaded language). If I were to accept the whole necessary/contingent dichotomy, I’d say existence is necessary and everything in existence is contingent upon it – even the Christian god if it were to exist.

  53. says

    Do you have a life? Get a girlfriend to talk to bro cause it seems to me you have no friends. I repeatedly told you and the others to F off but you proceed to talk to me. Irony irony irony IRON DEEZ NUTS in your mouth how about that?

  54. says

    And you’re replying to me, bro. You can stop this conversation as easily as I, just stop responding.
    Indeed, it makes sense why I keep talking, since I’ve expressed an interest in conversation, but you’ve directly said that you don’t want to talk to me, yet here you are; still talking.

    That’s rather odd, isn’t it?

  55. says

    Your a troll and a very lonely one and people would read this and know your a troll. You responded to me first you must want the last word like a female? Ok i’ll give you the last word hope you make it count. You fail to understand the concept of F off. You’re butthurt nobody wants to talk to you so you try to annoy someone at 3:00 in the morning. You will forever be a lonely ugly insecure individual who debate on religious views cause you fear god don’t like ugly.

  56. N. Nescio says

    It’s certainly not the behavior of an individual with the divinely revealed Truth of the Creator of life, the universe, and everything on their side.

  57. says

    1) You’re hurling abuse at me, not the other way around. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were getting annoyed.
    2) It’s not 3 in the morning everywhere, you know.
    3) “like a female?”
    You say things like that and I’m the troll? I’ll just let that stand for a second.

  58. says

    I’m wondering; what are you hoping to achieve here? What’s your goal with this conversation? At first it sounded like you didn’t want to talk, but you keep engaging, so that’s clearly not the case.
    Obviously, you do want to talk, but you don’t seem to want to engage in any constructive conversation. I’m a bit at a loss for how to continue.

  59. says

    Yes, please don’t continue. I wish not to have constructive conversation with someone such as yourself
    I insulted you, told you to F Off but that clearly does not work on you. Your missing a few screws up there. You’re like a person that’ll talk to a girl that told you to “leave me alone” but then reply “you talked back to me so you must not want me to leave you alone” thats your logic. Its flawed .

  60. says

    Oh, quite the contrary. I have specific goals for this conversation. I’m engaging with you for a reason. I’m simply pointing out that your stated goal, to end the conversation, is not actually met by your actions.

    I’m not the one acting in an irrational manner here, nor am I the one being trollish. I mean, you just admitted to not being interested in a constructive conversation. That’s pretty much the definition of trolling.

    So, let’s step back a minute: what are you hoping to achieve with this continued conversation?

  61. says

    Your assuming just because i dont want to have a constructive conversation with YOU that i dont want a constructive conversation with anyone. But if you look under you’ll see i talked to the guy i WANTED to conversate with and we had a constructive discussion now you made this blog about you and me. Congratulations ruining this blog for arguement sake. So you talking to me to prove to me im not doing what i say i want . Thats pathetic on your part cause you seriously need a life. Worry about yourself and not me.

  62. says

    Your assuming just because i dont want to have a constructive conversation with YOU that i dont want a constructive conversation with anyone

    No, I’m not. I’m observing that you’re in fact engaging with me. I’m not stopping you from talking to anyone else. I’m not trolling you across blogs or threads. I’m engaged in a single line of conversation on a single thread, all flowing from a single, original comment.
    Furthermore, unlike you, I am interested in constructive conversation.

    …now you made this blog about you and me.

    No, I haven’t. You really think this little sub-thread has the capacity to subvert the whole blog? Don’t be silly.
    Also, even if you were right, it takes two to tango, as they say. You can stop this conversation at any point. You have chosen not to do so.

    So, you’re perpetuating a conversation that you think is destructive to the blog. I, on the other hand, am engaging in constructive dialogue in a way I think will make the blog better.

    Which one of us is really doing something wrong here?

    So you talking to me to prove to me im not doing what i say i want

    No, I’m not. Now you’re making assumptions. I made an observation on that particular point because I found it particularly glaring how your actions disagreed with your stated intent. That does not constitute my complete motivation.

    Let’s return to the very beginning: If a person addresses you in a comment thread and you do not wish to talk to them what should you do?

  63. says

    Oh, I must have missed that bit. Could you point it out?

    Also, since you’re determined to keep talking, you might also answer the question I asked.

  64. says

    Im not answering anything you want a constructive conversation. I on the other hand want you to kill yourself. So no questions will be answered its foolish you thought you could have a constructive conversation with me when i told you to F Off. You miss that bit about me explaining your logic huh? That does not surprise me. your a troll thats what trolls do.

  65. says

    I think you need to take a deep breath. You’re getting a bit excited here. If you don’t want to talk to me, just stop. I promise you, if you stop addressing me, I’ll stop replying.
    However, as long as you’re talking to me, I don’t see any problem with me replying to you. I am, after all, the one who’s interested in a conversation.

    I tried asking the question, but you obviously don’t want to answer. Perhaps it will help if I’m a bit more explicit. I don’t think your behavior is healthy for this blog. I’m trying to point it out to you in an attempt to get you to modify your behavior.
    E.g. What should you do if a person addresses you and you’re not interested in talking to them?

    A reasonable approach would be to simply ignore them. It’s a minimum amount of effort, it generates no drama or controversy and you still have the option of telling them to fuck off later, if necessary.
    On the other hand, if you jump straight to the “fuck off” you can’t go back. You’re now locked in a personal conflict and you’ve started things off in a manner unconducive to constructive conversation.
    When you then add to that comments of a misogynistic nature and wishes for the other person to kill themselves, I think we’re in serious danger of going off a cliff, figuratively speaking.

    We can all get a bit worked up. It happens. However, we should recognize when it happens and control ourselves. Personally, I find it helpful to write out a truly offensive and vicious comment and then just delete it.
    The act of writing seems to vent some of the emotion and since you don’t post it, nobody else is inconvenienced by it.

    Please try this in the future. It’s not as unpleasant for other people and it won’t make you look like quite as big an asshole.

  66. says

    Are you done i didn’t read anything you just said you have anything more to say? You think you can talk crap to me and then get the last word? You must of fell and bumped your little head.

  67. says

    When did I “talk crap”? Please, be specific.

    Apparently, you prefer brevity, so I’ll try that: Why do you keep replying to me?

    From you last post, it sounds like you’re just doing it, so you’ll have the last word. That’s a bit childish, don’t you think?

  68. says

    You’re the one with the fixation on having the last word, not me. You’re the one who’s talking even though he doesn’t want a conversation, not me.

    I’ll return to the earlier question: why are you still talking? If not to get the last word, why? I’ve explained my motivation*. You explain yours.

    * FYI, that was in the long post that you didn’t bother reading.

  69. says

    But why would you want to? Have you changed your mind? You want to talk to me now?

    Besides, this conversation would be alot more interesting if you answered some of the questions I ask.

  70. says

    You’re talking to someone you find childish and doesnt want to engage in a constructive conversation….WHO’s THE DUMB ONE HERE?
    Thats like me talking to the wall knowing its not going to respond back and ask “why you not responding back wall?”

  71. FromHereOn says

    If I had to make a summary, it’d go something like this:

    Feinstein had melted down by post three, and ran away into a corner huddled in a fetal position rocking back and forth saying “necessary”, “contingent”, “worldview”.

    Eventually he threw a tantrum by post five when Russell didn’t give him enough substance to be backed into a corner.

    Just another example of “I already know I’m right, so I wonder how I should go about proving it… Oh look! here’s some old shit somebody harped on back in the middle ages- let’s get it back in circulation”. -Kent Hovind and Stephen Feinstein.

    Thanks for doing a good job Russell! It drained me to simply read his drivel. I can’t imagine how tough it was to take him seriously.

  72. strangelove says

    I hope Steven will open his thread to comments again. I still have so many questions to ask about how logic is a product of God’s mind, e.g. :

    Could God decide to let his mind not produce logic? Would logic disappear if God took a break from thinking?

    Could God add a logic-producing subroutine to the universe and dispense with all his logic-producing thinking? Even Yahweh gots to chill sometimes.

    How do you know there is only one logic-producing mind?

    If God’s mind produces logic does Satan’s mind produce illogic?

  73. says

    I’ll just point out that this is the second time you’ve expressed a wish for me to kill myself.
    Are you still wondering why I want you to modify your behavior?

  74. HiEv says

    The snark is strong with this one. 😉

    Yeah, it’s too bad that his arguments for God can’t stand up to critical queries on their own, eh? If only he had some sort of omnipotent omniscient being who could help him out, then he wouldn’t need to shut down comments like that.

  75. says

    You reply a year later…you just couldn’t stop replying back to me huh? Its impossible for you to stop. You like rehashing a argument thats been dead. You want me to modify my behavior and i want you to FUCK OFF. Im not changing my behavior for your bitch ass so stop asking me too you fucking weirdo.

  76. Kazim says

    Queseantriniwell, in my capacity as moderator, I’m asking you to chill out or prepare to get banned.

  77. says

    I’m sorry, but I do in fact have other things to do. In addition, your repeated insults won’t make me back off because they’re part of what I want you to change.
    See, the problem is that when you post on this blog, you become part of the community here. Your behavior influences the atmosphere of this place. Since I care about this place, I can’t simply ignore it when you act out. I feel compelled to address it.

    Now, granted, I can’t force you to change, but I can ask you to and I can present my reasons for doing so. That’s what I’m trying to do.

  78. says

    Or prepare to get banned? Ok “God” tell him to stop annoying me . Let me guess you didn’t tell him anything? Bann me if you want i really could care less . I wont lose sleep over it.

  79. extian says

    Now Feinstein has closed the comments again, saying he doesn’t have time to respond to all the atheists (poor guy). In his last post Feinstein insisted that he had already answered everyone’s question, though all he did was repeat assertions. He also mentioned that “Maybe when Christians start posting as well, it will generate discussions between the two groups,” indicating (to me) that no one from his flock is sticking up for him. Maybe they see him for the bullshit artist he is.

    Can you say “butthurt”?

  80. Compuholic says

    What I always wanted to ask the people who obsess about god creating thinking logic into existence: Which logic?

    – Propositional logic
    – Temporal logic
    – Fuzzy logic
    – Modal / Multi-modal logic
    – Coarse logic
    – …

    Which one is it?

  81. mike says

    Oh that’s too funny! It’s unfortunate that it happened to this man but the irony is just too much. So now not only will God not cure amputees, he’s starting to cause them!

    Re: the debate- I think one could sum up all of Stephen’s actions as an indication of who “lost” the debate,namely, he posts a reply to what was originally agreed to as the last word, he claims victory over and over, he envokes the Star Trek Fallacy(or is it Capt Kirk) by quoting bible verses, he first welcomes comments, then moderates them, then disallows comments.

    Congratulations Russell, you’ve won.

  82. Kazim says

    Queseantriniwell is banned now (you might say by his own request), so I’ve also deleted a whole lot of useless flame war posts between him and LykeX. Carry on as you were.

  83. A Hermit says

    Oh! I thought maybe “dictionary position” was a change from the usual “missionary position”. Got me all excited for nothing…;-)

  84. A Hermit says

    Because I am a person, I have a mind. Likewise, because God is the necessary, self-existing person, He has a mind. Logic is simply the laws of though

    Another problem with this is the observation that human minds are contingent on human physiology, being the product of our brains. So minds are demonstrably contingent things, which would make God’s mind (the thing from which logic and the whole Universe apparently emerge without actually being “created”????) contingent on…what exactly? Stephen can’t say.

  85. says

    I wouldn’t put it past him to deny a mind-brain connection.

    Btw, if logic is the “laws of thought”, then how come it’s possible for us to think illogically? Why are fallacies even possible?
    What does “laws of thought” actually mean?

  86. phasespace says

    I’d say you’re more or less on the right track, although it isn’t so much that a roll of a dice will necessarily have a result as it is that a metaphysical nothing is inherently unstable.

    It isn’t clear to me that a universe of some sort is necessary, but it’s clear that *something* must arise spontaneously from a state where there are no rules or laws that govern what can or can’t happen within this state of “nothing.”

  87. curtcameron says

    Or more accurately, “all things which need a cause, need a cause.”

    I was going to post at his site to point out this tautology, but he closed comments.

  88. Kazim says

    You know, I’m reminded of this Douglas Adams quote:
    “Anything that happens, happens.
    Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen.
    Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.
    It doesn’t necessarily do it in chronological order, though.”

  89. brianpansky says

    alright quesantriniwell, you said:

    “im not talking to you so dont reply to me”

    but no one here was talking to you until you replied to someone.

    So StFU

  90. eriktb says

    I don’t know much about philosophy so I have to ask are the terms “necessary” and “contingent” mutually exclusive? It would seem to me that if they are then the point at which you claim something to be a necessary starting point it would be entirely arbitrary since you would have to assume it’s not contingent without being able to even attempt to argue in favor of the position. It seems like such a weak stance to me that I can’t believe it’s presented, let alone accepted, as a good argument.

  91. ah58 says

    No, my reply was to the person who said “your retarded” instead of you’re retarded.

    If taken as he wrote it, the statement implies that you have something that’s retarded. I simply asked what he thought that was.

  92. says

    Is presuppositional apologetics really anything more than the ultimate expression of the modern Christian concept of faith?

    — I have faith that X is true.
    — I presuppose that X is true.

    Is this a distinction without a difference? Is this PR or branding, like the presentation of creationism as “intelligent design?”

  93. says

    my comment was almost instantly approved where I try to explain what was the difference I thought Mr.Feinstein meant between “God created logic” and “Logic is…person and thinker”.

    And less then a minute after I have asked him how can he link a god that is necessary (probable) to the bible being the true words of a god, repentance, sins, raising the deaths, a god that send a bear to kill a bunch of children because they were mocking a bald man, a holly man that gives to rape to criminals his virgin daughter in order that angels weren’t be raped by those criminals, (and other stuff..). Surprise, that comment doesn’t appear on his page.

  94. codemonkey says

    I don’t know. As best as I can understand his argument, I just formulated it in my previous post above. Note how I didn’t use the words “contingent” and “necessary”. Again, the argument IMHO more or less is: He assumes there cannot be an infinite regress of causes, and thus he concludes that there is a first cause, which he arbitrarily labels god. Via asspulls (his criteria of what is “contingent”), he concludes that the first cause cannot be the big bang event nor any other physical thing. Also, thus his asspull criteria does not describe god. Thus god is immaterial, timeless blah blah blah.

  95. says

    I don’t remember if this is from Feinstein, or from Hovind and Bruggencate on the Magic Sandwich show, but the content of your question was addressed. Simply, the God described in the Bible is the only god to describe itself in a way which is consistent with the necessary (first) thing.

    If I find the source, I’ll return with a quotation to more fairly represent the position.

  96. codemonkey says

    I don’t think so, no. Assuming they’re just not wholly dishonest, then I’m forced to conclude that they are whipping out arguments which they themselves were not initially convinced by, but they have deluded themselves into believing the arguments are “logical” and “irrefutable”. No where in the argument do they give up and simply state that you have to have faith. Instead, they torture logic and semantics beyond recognition in an attempt to provide a rational justification for their beliefs.

    The failing is not faith. The failing of the argument is that it is word salad and vacuous. No where do arguments of this type get beyond the basic non-interfering unobservable deist god. As I always say, “that’s nice; let me know when you get an argument for anything resembling the christian god of the bible, and let me know only when your argument does not equally apply to the flying spaghetti monster or some other asspull”.

  97. says

    we could say that “only god to describe itself in a way which is consistent with the necessary (first) thing.” throught Spinoza or through Nietzsche’s Dyonysos. Personaly I find much more interesting and logic Spinoza or Nietzsche then any book of the bible. The god in the bible is illogical and immoral in so many occasions..even if He existed, would be hard to be admired or to worship him…Anyway, that is a bit out of the topic.

    Ok, I would like to read the explanation why the bible would have anything to do with that necessary god or first cause.

  98. says

    Sye Ten Bruggencate answers essentially the same question in the following link. This link should take you directly to the question (@ 11:31), and then Sye’s answer.

    I’m moderately certain that the response I paraphrased is also in the MMS interview, somewhere, but I don’t have the patience to listen to all of it again. Enjoy!

  99. Kazim says

    I think the comparison to intelligent design is apt, myself. When I first heard of ID about 15ish years ago, I was confused at first. Somebody on a message board was very adamantly objecting to evolution, and I assumed he would defend a whole raft of young earth claims that normally went along with creationism in my experience. I was a bit taken aback when he accused me of straw manning him, and telling me that supporting a young earth had nothing to do with his arguments.

    What I eventually came to understand was that many ID advocates actually do believe in a young earth, but they partition off that information and treat it as irrelevant. They then load up their argument with claims that sound superficially plausible as science, but very carefully avoid getting too detailed about how you arrive at any conclusion. They describe “design” as if it were some kind of abstract concept, and then try to vaguely map this concept onto real world observations.

    What presuppositional apologetics do is kind of similar, IMO. It’s not using the language of science but the language of philosophy to paper over the same old arguments.

  100. CascadiaJ says

    playing insomniac languagegames with dictionary, I came across this just now and thought some of you might appreciate the word as well. It nicely sums up what I wanted to say about Mr. F, but couldn’t quite put to words.


    bump·tious (bmpshs)
    Crudely or loudly assertive; pushy.
    [Perhaps blend of bump and presumptuous.]
    bumptious·ly adv.
    bumptious·ness n.

    bumptious [ˈbʌmpʃəs]
    offensively self-assertive or conceited
    [perhaps a blend of bump + fractious]
    bumptiously adv
    bumptiousness n

  101. Yellow Thursday says

    Feinstein says:

    Everything we experience in this world is by definition contingent.

    That, plus his definition of “God” as being non-contingent, suggests that no human has ever experienced God, and those who claim to have spoken to God are either mistaken or lying.

  102. Muz says

    That’s a great clip. That Sy Ten fella seems better at this than Feinstein, in terms of discourse at least. But the whole thing boils down so beautifully at the end: god exists because you have to assume god exists. When it comes to god, revelation and assumption are pretty much the same thing (although they’d put it in a special category).

  103. leedawson says

    All this talk of contingent and necessary just reinforces my belief that the Cthulu Mythos is a far better explanation of the “divine” and our understanding of our role in the universe. At the least it’s far more realistic and entertaining than a tri-god that is his own son that wants us to eat his flesh to gain entrance into a paradise spent worshiping him. Far better to just be driven mad once we realize how truly insignificant we are.

  104. Lord Narf says

    By some bullshit arguments, we know some properties of the first cause (such as personality, etc.).

    It’s not even as honest as that. There are generally no bullshit arguments. They usually flatly assert that the first cause has to be personal, so that it could decide to create the universe.

    They don’t even get close to a logical argument, just list off a bunch of characteristics that the first cause has to have.

  105. Lord Narf says

    So, when is Feinstein going to get around to giving some sort of explanation for why a Trinitarian god is necessary? I vaguely recall that bold claim, in his first post.

  106. codemonkey says

    He kind of did. I forget where. Basically, he argued: God must be a personality. A personality requires relationships with other people (simply wrong). Thus god must be several distinct entities in order to have a relationship with each other and not be dependent on any of his creations (lol), but of course god must also be one because there can only be one necessary being (also lol).

  107. codemonkey says

    @ Yellow Thursday
    Wait – Feinstein actually said that? God damned equivocating bastard. You can’t define things as contingent. You can’t define things as needing causes. That’s a scientific claim which requires scientific evidence. Such bullshit.

  108. codemonkey says

    Agreed. That he did not detail his whole plan in basic details in the very first post is complete bullshit. I was in formal policy debate for years, and the president of my debate team in high school. I even judged for a year or two. If I ever saw an affirmative team who dared to purposefully not present a full overview of the whole plan in their first round (and if the neg team called them on it), then I would immediately declare the neg team the winner. Feinstein did exactly this, and that alone means he loses by any reasonable measure. (It pains me to rule over such a technically, just like I hate ruling on a topicality argument, but when it fits…)

    Did Feinstein even ever present his whole argument? I know he didn’t in post 1. I don’t care enough to read his posts again, but I have the sneaking suspicion that he never spelled out his full argument, only giving pieces at a time.

  109. codemonkey says

    (Sorry, this error is bugging me too much.) Ok .. I wouldn’t declare the neg team the winner “immediately”, but they would win almost regardless of anything else said in the following rounds if the aff team decided to not even attempt to present a whole plan during the first round.

  110. Muz says

    I see the point here, but I can’t help but see ID as patently dishonest. I don’t mean intellectually dishonest or lacking rigour. I mean they’re lying. I don’t see Presuppositionalists the same way. Torturous and circular perhaps, deluded even, but not flagrantly dishonest.

    To me they do seem to provide insight into modern christian faith, mostly from a personal perspective. The arguments they typically throw prod some latent nerve somewhere and are almost hypnotically compelling in their knottiness. It’s quite interesting.
    Of course it doesn’t take long to reach that “Hang on a minute..” moment where it all falls apart, thankfully. But it seems it provides some insight into the mindset. I can see the appeal to a certain kind of thinker: they need an ultimate arbiter to all questions. The world can be functionally relative at all times as far as their experience is concerned, but they don’t have to worry about that with the assumption that there is an absolute at the end of the question chain. I think a lot of people feel like they need that. (once the assumption is in place, of course, people tend to jump to the ultimate arbiter answer sooner rather than later).

    That attempt to fuse declarative and procedural knowledge seems to bring the whole thing unstuck but they’ll just keep saying it’s necessary. We think they’ve tied themselves in a silly knot. They keep insisting the knot is the point and we don’t get it. It’s fascinating while being irritating as hell.

  111. John Kruger says

    More than that, he defined god as a “necessary being”, which he defined as something that has to exist. Text book begging the question.

    Of all his logical mistakes, this one rankled me the most. Russel rightly called him on it, and his only response was to say “you don’t get it” and then restate it. Absolutely maddening.

  112. F says

    ‘scuse me? How about you mind your own damn business then, if this is such an important principle to you.

  113. F says

    -Yet the atheists and Christians could maybe have a discussion without Stephen having to reply to each post. Somehow. If he would let the atheist posts publish, and some Christians bother to show up.

    Stephen, I think you and your team (and your reasoning) have forfeited.

  114. F says

    I think you could press him until olive oil comes out, and you still won’t get a response to that.

  115. says

    Great video!!Thanks again, I didn’t know those magical sandwich show.

    Those guys (like Russell) debating those evangelicals have really to keep their temper and they succeed well. If they can’t keep their temper(like aronra here), it would be better to mute him for it is really annoying those screaming, interruptions when two are in conversation, etc. He looks like “the angry atheist” who is worshiping Satan (lol).

    Anyway for myself, most of the time, I try now to keep an attitude that Kundera describes here:
    “Why in fact should one tell the truth? What obliges us to do it? And why do we consider telling the truth to be a virtue? Imagine that you meet a madman, who claims that he is a fish and that we are all fish. Are you going to argue with him? Are you going to undress in front of him and show him that you don’t have fins? Are you going to say to his face what you think?…If you told him the whole truth and nothing but the truth, only what you thought, you would enter into a serious conversation with a madman and you yourself would become mad. And it is the same way with the world that surrounds us. If I obstinately told the truth to its face, it would mean that I was taking it seriously. And to take seriously something so unserious means to lose all one’s own seriousness. I have to lie, if I don’t want to take madmen seriously and become a madman myself.”

    ― Milan Kundera, Laughable Loves

  116. Kazim says

    Yeah, if you reread my posts 1 and 2, you’ll see where I called that out. Post 1, I said basically that’s interesting, I look forward to hearing the argument when you’re done saying what you want to prove. Post 2, I very pointedly said “That’s two posts of self congratulation now but no argument.”

    Going with my observation that Stephen always has to give himself the last word, it almost seems like he was stalling as long as possible so I wouldn’t have a chance to answer when he made his claims near the end.

  117. CascadiaJ says

    Perhaps, but if I had I’d forgotten it. I realize I didn’t have much to add, but if all you have to comment on is noting your incredulity at my naivete, perhaps you have more need of synonyms for ass-hat in your world.

  118. NH says

    I thought I’d attempt to illustrate undirected direction. (I wanted to post this reply on Stephen’s blog, but as he has closed it from replies, I will post it here)

    Suppose you have a chess board that extends in all directions for infinity. On it exists a single playing piece, a king. You also have a standard 6 sided die. You roll the die and move according to this table:

    1 or 2 – Move forward one space
    3 or 4 – Move left one space
    5 – Move back one space
    6 – Move right one space

    Continue to roll and move and roll and move. This creates a situation where the piece could be said to move randomly as it’s direction is determined entirely by chance; that is to say, it is undirected. However, the piece will still present a tendency to move towards forward and left, thus is has a direction.

    The same sort of thing applies to the natural world. Even if at the core things are controlled by what you might call randomness, because things can effect the behavior of other things, direction will result. In such a system, “undirected direction” is not only possible, but it should be expected.

  119. Muz says

    Poor Aron. I don’t think he had any idea how bad he sounded and how bad the delay was. I did derive a certain amusement picturing him as the monster DPR keeps under the stairs who bursts out on occasion and has to be chased back in.

  120. JimmyHaulinHogs says

    Just for amusement, I was thinking of ways to resolve the issue of determining who won the debate. The solution I came up with was to get both participants to agree to each produce three people who would analyze the debate and submit a decision along with a written explanation for their decision.

    Russell would be required to find three scientists and
    Stephen would be required to find three pastors.

    In the event of a tie, then the bonus round will decide things as follows:

    Same idea as before, but this time Stephen must find a scientist who thinks he won while Russell must find a pastor who thinks he won.

    Somehow, I’d be amazed if this still doesn’t resolve it. At least it would be entertaining, if not informative. Of course, a closed comments section can also be taken as a likely sign of defeat, so there’s that.

  121. says


    It seems quite ironic to me when trinitarian presuppers claim logic exists as a reflection of God’s mind.

    A Christian once said to me, “Since logic is a reflection of the way God thinks, and since God is triune, The Triune God is logical.”

    I replied, “3 = 1 would not be a reflection of a logical mind.”

  122. eggmoidal says

    Kazim, I feel for you. You went into this in good faith and found yourself up against an opponent who demonstrates none. IMO, Stephen Feinstein is just another sanctimonious religious apologist posing as a public intellectual. A particularly rigid and arrogant one at that. And I love the unctuous way he calls opponents “friends” on his blog, and tells them to have a good day. Could he be any more insincere? It was reminiscent of a politician calling everyone “my friend”.

    His debating style reminded me of a tic-tac-toe playing chicken – he’s able to mechanically repeat a superficially sophisticated (but in actuality, an intellectually empty) performance, one designed mainly to wow the rubes. His invariant spiel consisted of argumentation based on naked assertion, sophistry, circular arguments, non sequiturs and fallacies too numerous to mention. It grew more than a little tiresome watching him yammer on while avoiding real engagement with any real issue.

    The best you can hope for with the well trained chicken is a draw. But the best you can hope for with the well trained Stephen Feinstein is to leave with the satisfaction that comes from knowing you made your case and he didn’t. Unfortunately, that satisfaction is counterbalanced by the knowledge that you just spent time you can never get back arguing with either: a) a dishonest charlatan, or, b) a deluded fool. And one who specializes in the rote regurgitation of two thousand years worth of Christian cant.

    I prefer the chicken’s performance – at least it brings a smile to my face. And the chicken doesn’t spend half the time crowing about how victorious it is, or finish up by telling you that you’re going to hell.

  123. bcskeptic says

    Feinstein is deluded. He is clearly arguing with the only thing that any of them has, a bunch of “bullshit baffles brains” bald assertions all rolled up and mashed around to sound like there is substance when there really isn’t any at all.

    Now, imagine if he really did have clear, substantiated, objective evidence that his god (or any god) actually existed. It wouldn’t take much, really. Let’s say the convention center at the Republican national convention ceiling magically opened up, a flaming sword dropped through, and a booming voice said, “Stop being a bunch of fucking wankers. You’re making me look bad!”.

    There would be no need for debate. The discourse would quickly move to understanding the nature of the newly discovered phenomenon, trying to communicate with it, asking it questions, maybe like:

    Why did you create malaria-carrying mosquitoes? Why do you killl so many children? Do you really want us Christians to sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow you? Who will feed and cloth us? Where are we following you to? Why is sex so bad when it feels so good? Did you create depression, cancer, shingles…or were those just design defects that were found later? Why do people have to starve? Why is the Galaxy/Universe so big so we can never visit anyone else? Do you really want to burn us in hell forever, even though you made us such that it is impossible to follow all of your rules?

    The Christian right’s need to pester rational people to have debates is a clear indication that they lack any sort of evidence for the existence of their god. Why must they continue to insist that there is?

  124. says

    The Christian right’s need to pester rational people to have debates is a clear indication that they lack any sort of evidence for the existence of their god. Why must they continue to insist that there is?

    I think it’s a case of reasoning backwards from the conclusion:
    1) God exists
    2) If it’s true that god exists, there must be evidence for it
    3) There is evidence for god’s existence


    They’ve learned that evidence is a good thing. They’ve learned that it’s necessary to have evidence in order to convince people. They’ve been convinced, so consequently, there must have been some evidence involved.
    Now it’s just a matter of figuring out what that evidence was.

    There may also be a problem with the definition of “evidence”. Many theists seem to think that the definition is “a reason to believe something”. They miss the part about it being objectively verifiable and available for scrutiny.

    It amounts to the same thing: I believe. I have a reason to believe. I have evidence. If you don’t accept my evidence, then you’re just biased. It was good enough for me, so why won’t you accept it?

  125. says

    Btw, this also works for opposing religions:
    I don’t believe in Shiva. I have no reason to believe in Shiva. There is no evidence for Shiva.

    And, of course, you can disregard the testimony of anyone who disagrees with you because they’re simply mistaken/mislead by Satan/seduced by their love of sin/not part of the elect/etc.

  126. troopdawg says

    stephen is a troll. If he is so correct, why can he not explain it to us that is convincing and persuasive? And in the end, if he could just muster 1 shred of demonstrable evidence, he wouldn’t have needed 6 long winded posts.

    I think stephen is the one being dishonest in this exchange since he was making the assertions and not approaching any of russels rebuttles.

  127. gb says

    Well, the only argument from Stephen is circular logic of 2 invented categories:
    1. All contingent things need a cause.
    2. We are contingent.
    3. God is not contingent – necessity.
    4. God exists since we exist.

    Everything else (including this argument as well in fact) is just a word game showing his presupposition of imaginary friend with all the imaginary qualities, dishonesty and stubbornness. I don’t even know why I red through that. Maybe I was hoping to get an actual argument instead of bragging about his superiority and the only argument he holds is in fact flawed. He has nothing! How can he trick himself in believing that nonsense?
    We cannot even say that there are such two categories, for example, universe could cause itself and there’s no need for a cause for universe the same way there’s no need for a cause for his god. We cannot even say that “before the time universe was caused” (there was no time and space), there was such a thing as cause and effect. It’s just so human to think about it the same way we experience everything in our world. Maybe there are no real cause and effect at all and macro world is just a coincidental side product of subatomic – real world, and it doesn’t even matter in a grand scale.
    It’s just too silly to say everything we see and can comprehend has a cause, therefore everything should have a cause – except one imaginary thing which caused everything – let’s call it God and attribute some nice features we like very much like love and goodness.

    Anyway, great job of having patience to go through all that BS and seeking for arguments in that illogical mess, Russell!

  128. Blair T says

    As Scott Clifton (AKA Youtuber Theoretical Bullshit) said about this style of argument: it is an argument designed to win a debate, without actually convincing anyone. That is, the structural flaws and semantic equivocations of transcendental arguments are features rather than bugs. By making an argument that is difficult to understand and follow (and in Stephen’s case, excessively verbose) it becomes more difficult to make a counter argument, since you have to spend most of your time trying to clean up the argument and make it comprehensible (what Stephen referred to, I think, as “hand waving”). The theist can then claim the lack of coherence as a failure of their opponent to grasp their argument, rather than a failure of the theist to properly present one.

    I suspect the lack of Christians coming to Stephen’s defense is because the transcendental argument is not only unconvincing to atheists, but ultimately incomprehensible and irrelevant to most Christians.

  129. allan says

    The 2 key points from Stephen.

    1. “You have no basis for logic because only the christian god provides that basis. I know this by divine revelation.”

    2. “I did not say God created the laws of logic. I said they are a product of His mind.”

    1. is delusional and 2. is incomprehensible.

  130. AmadeusMaxwell says

    Oooh, new thought!

    Stephen defines god as being a “necessary being,” as god is the first cause of everything. Well! This can only mean that by Stephen’s logic god is necessary for everything, which includes satan and sin. This directly contridicts James 1:13, ergo god is a paradox and thus can not exist, else he’s breaking his own laws of logic.

    I’m sure there are other passages to use, this is just the first that comes to mind. It could also be worded that since god is the “first cause” he also is the cause of evil and ergo isn’t perfect. 😛

  131. Lord Narf says

    I dunno, I think this one’s pretty thoroughly determined. Even the Christians seem be horribly aware of the fact that he made a fool of himself.

    The three and three suggestion is a bit flawed, too. I’m sure Stephen could easily find 3 fundamentalist preachers who will state that everything Stephen said is blindingly obvious and Russel is a fool. Russel, on the other hand, would likely find 3 scientists who would give an honest critique of the exchange, pointing out flaws on both sides, although almost all of the flaws would of course be on Stephen’s side.

    Three balanced views, weighted in Russel’s favor, versus 3 absolute views, completely on Stephen’s side. Why give him this distorted view of things and give him something to trumpet around? The conditions for judges weren’t established beforehand, and judges weren’t previously vetted. Why let him load it, after the fact?

  132. AhmNee says

    Maybe it’s not a paradox and the correct answer is that their god is perfectly evil?! That seems to agree with what’s in the bible.