Tuesday, July 06, 2010

You Can Thank The Lousy Designer™ For Your Lousy Brain

When confronted with evidence of intricate and undeniable design, Darwinists like to invoke the Lousy Designer™.  If they were the designer, they intone, they would have done a much better job.  Usually they have something like a knee or eye in mind.

I've never heard a Darwinist complain that the mind they use is the result of lousy design, that their mind is the result of a mindless, purposeless process and thus fundamentally untrustworthy as a reality-processor.  (Would you want to buy a "word-processor" made by a random, purposeless process? Would you trust it?)

I've never heard a Darwinist complain they've been given a crappy brain never designed for abstract thought, or, indeed for thought at all. And yet, according to the self-same Darwinist, the brain is not designed for anything, just like the heart is not designed, the knee is not designed, the eye is not designed, etc. They all just popped out of the ooze, on their own, for no purpose, and if you've got problems with that, you're not very Bright™!

Darwinian skeptics are skeptical about anything and everything except the sheer shining brilliance of trustworthiness of their own minds.  On this they, and they alone, are "brights", and others, e.g., brilliant philosophers, or mere scientific laymen like Jesus Christ, are hopeless "dims".  I've never heard a skeptic -- with the sole exception of Darwin himself -- question the trustworthiness of his own thoughts. [updated to improve clarity.]

Food for thought.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

138 comments:

Human Ape said...

"I've never heard a skeptic -- with the sole exception of Darwin himself -- question the trustworthiness of his own thoughts."

Then why are biologists constantly throwing out old ideas when new evidence requires it?

For example, the recently announced fossil called Ardi made scientists realize they were wrong about what the common ancestor of humans and chimps looked like.

Please notice that these new discoveries make evolution stronger, not weaker.

By the way, you should try to be honest. You should call your designer what it really is: a god fairy with a magic wand. Calling magic "design" doesn't make it any less childish. It just makes you look dishonest, as if you are trying to hide the fact that you prefer magic instead of science.

http://darwin-killed-god.blogspot.com/

RkBall said...

HA: You misunderstood the point I was making. I'm going to go back and update the original post to try to reduce the ambiguity.

RkBall said...

HA: The fact that you think the only distinction that can be made is a binary one between darwinian evolution and a fairy-god magic shows just how stunted your thinking is. It either represents

* willful unwillingness to consider the theist view, or

* an impaired, delusioned mind incapable of reasoning that corresponds with actual reality

Both of these are live options according to the biblical data. Romans 1 and II Thess. 2.

Atheist reasoning: another reason why I believe the Bible is true.

RkBall said...

Human Ape: do you consider yourself an animal like other animals, or are humans in someway unique?

P@J said...

Another strawman.

I don’t know any “Darwinists” who would invoke a lousy designer. There is no designer invocation required at all. There is no designer.

I think the argument you are trying to criticize is the idea that many complex systems found in modern species (such as the vertebrate eye or the human knee) include carryover from ancestral species, and as a result of this provenance, these systems or organs do not operate optimally in their current setting, or require significant compromises in their operation. A lot of brain space (and therefore metabolic energy) is required to make up for the blind spot in the centre of our retina, a problem not experienced with the much more efficient cephalopod eye.

And since you raised the point of the human brain, it is also sub-optimal. The fact humans so easily suffer basal skull fractures, and those fractures damage the most critical parts of the brain, are an unfortunate result of our rather late re-configuration of the upper spine to look “forward” instead of “down” relative to our rib cage, combined with the remarkable growth of the brain case size over the last 2 million years. Gorillas are much better “designed”.

I’m much more familiar with Scientists unsure of their knowledge than I am with Christians unsure of their faith. Again, Google the Dunning-Kruger Effect. You might find it familiar.

P@J said...

Ball,

Aren't all species unique?

Joe_Agnost said...

"aren't all species unique?"

I seriously wonder about the religious brain sometimes... it must be hard arguing from a position of ignorance all the time.

Trying to get through life thinking that humans are somehow special in the grand scheme of things must be difficult and lead to brain farts like: "do you consider yourself an animal like other animals, or are humans in someway unique?"

What is so wrong with being related to the animal kingdom anyway??

RkBall said...

"I don’t know any “Darwinists” who would invoke a lousy designer."

You have already trotted out the "lousy design" argument. As do countless others.

"There is no designer invocation required at all. There is no designer."

I understand this is your point of view -- the Lousy Designer was a mere extension of your "lousy design" riff.

Not all language is to be taken literally -- unless you are some kind of rigid fundamentalist.

You need to be able to differentiate between formal precise argument and rhetoric. Language is a wonderful, supple, nuanced thing.

RkBall said...

"Trying to get through life thinking that humans are somehow special in the grand scheme of things must be difficult....

What is so wrong with being related to the animal kingdom anyway??"

NOT A THING! I'm a meat-eater, and, with a moniker like Human Ape, I'm thinking, "bush meat"! Is all. That's right -- I would like to kill and eat Human Ape.

I assume you are fine with that -- or, are you a vegetarian?

P@J said...

“Not all language is to be taken literally -- unless you are some kind of rigid fundamentalist.
You need to be able to differentiate between formal precise argument and rhetoric. Language is a wonderful, supple, nuanced thing.”

That is pretty rich coming from you, Ball. After you previously argued that the word “design” belongs to theists, and if Evolutionary Biologists use it, it implies they are referring to your God as designer. Although I have to admit, you are good at the rhetorical practices of non-sequitur responses while not addressing any previous points raised, and falling back to semantics and diversion. Your Straw Mes are a little transparent, though.

I agree Joe, it seems silly for a member of relatively successful genus (Homo) of a remarkably unsuccessful family (Hominadae – I surviving species), of a rapidly collapsing Order (Primates), of a moderately successful Class (Mammalia-doing alright, for having a backbone, at least unitl the next astrobleme) of a rather minor Phylum (Chordata) of the least populous Kingdom (Animalia – less than 1% of total biomass) can look at itself as being the epitome of evolution. You really have to have a pretty high opinion of yourself. He should learn to respect the slime moulds…

RkBall said...

I think this last post means... bush meat tonite -- heat up the BBQ!

Alex said...

Mmmm bush meat. :)

I'm a Darwinist. You don't really know me so I guess your title stands. I think I could use a better brain. I'm aware of my imperfect perception and fallibility. I believe this grants me an advantage. I see the mistakes made by those who think they are the perfect observers. I see the mistake of those who follow them blindly. I've learned to plan for error.

Does that me smarter or dumber than the average bear? ...well that's what you think.

RkBall said...

Definitely smarter.

RkBall said...

"That is pretty rich coming from you, Ball."

That's Mr. Bounces, to you, PJ.

Joe_Agnost said...

Ball (or is it mr. bounces?) wrote: "I'm a meat-eater, and, with a moniker like Human Ape, I'm thinking, 'bush meat'! Is all. That's right -- I would like to kill and eat Human Ape."

Well, killing "human ape" is against the law in this country... but I, personally, couldn't care less if you ate human ape. It makes you rather weird, but being a theist that's expected. ;)

Why do you seem to think that your 'eat human meat' lines will shake us? You've said it before - but it doesn't change the fact that we are all primates. What's your point with this line of thinking? Once the human is dead - he's DEAD. End of story. Eat him if you really want to... but I'm not interested.

RkBall said...

I'd like to invite you over for lunch to discuss this.

Joe_Agnost said...

"I'd like to invite you over for lunch to discuss this."

You're a really strange dude Mr. Flounces!

RkBall said...

What I really meant was "I'd like to invite you over for lunch".

Joe_Agnost said...

"What I really meant was 'I'd like to invite you over for lunch'."

That's how I took it... and doesn't make it any more normal! What's your obsession with eating humans? Why does the fact that we're relatives with the animal kingdom make you think we should therefore eat humans?

It's damn weird...

RkBall said...

It's satire.

I assume, as a consistent darwinist, you are OK with cannibalism, unless you are a vegetarian.

RkBall said...

Does this mean lunch is "off"?

Joe_Agnost said...

I understand that you aren't ~serious~ about eating humans, but that you are ~trying~ to make a point. I just can't figure out ~what~ that point is.

You've cleared it up a little with this: "I assume, as a consistent darwinist, you are OK with cannibalism"

It depends what you mean by "OK". I don't really care - if I were desperate enough I have no doubt that I would eat human meat if that were all I had to eat. So what? The thought doesn't thrill me, I have no (personal) yearning for human meat, but it ~is~ just another variety of animal meat.

And what does accepting that we evolved from lower life forms via natural selection have to do with accepting cannibalism? How are the 2 subject even remotely related?

RkBall said...

Well, it edges into the issue of morality -- I know your views on this -- morality is purely a human construct. I am compiling a List -- Atheists 4 Cannibalism (or, at least, not opposed to It).

Based on your above response, I am putting you at the very top of the list!

Joe_Agnost said...

Are you planning on discussing why you think accepting the theory of evolution has anything at all to do with accepting cannibalism?

I don't see the connection myself...

Joe_Agnost said...

Are you trying to scare people who accept the ToE into thinking that their acceptance of the ToE means they are cannibals? I'm really trying to understand you (completely absurd) angle on this...

RkBall said...

Why are you obsessing on cannibalism?! You're scarin' me! -- I am like, so not inviting you over for lunch.

Pigs-- OK!
Bush meat -- OK!
Bush Meat of the Third Kind -- OK!

Joe_Agnost said...

In a manner completely consistent with your commenting style, RK_ball, you are avoiding the question being asked of you.

I am not obsessing with cannibalism, I'm asking you to explain your assertion that the ToE is relevant to cannibalism. You could just be honest and say you have no intention of answering...

RkBall said...

Well, let me repeat myself: "... it edges into the issue of [the origins and objective truth-value of] morality".

Alex "gets it".

Joe_Agnost said...

Does Alex "get it", or does he call your assertion a "fail"... I'm pretty sure it's the latter.

And I don't see how the ToE has any moral implications at all.

RkBall said...

Of course he calls the assertion a fail -- because he posits that humans are in some sense special or distinct.

He mentions the word "individuals". Some day, he'll progress to "persons". And from there, on to --

"what is man, that Thou art mindful of him?"

He's digging himself out of the primordial slime...

"From Slime to 'I'm'!"™

Man, I'm smokin' today!

RkBall said...

Not to mention that I'm going over "cash expenses" right now for my annual business accounting. A bit more mundane than "bushmeat", eh?!

Joe_Agnost said...

Ball wrote: "he posits that humans are in some sense special or distinct"

They (we) ~are~ special and distinct. We have evolved very complicated brains that allow us to rule over most of the animal kingdom.
We are still animals though - having evolved from the very same ancestor(s) as every other animal on the planet.

I would love to know why this truth hurts you so much.

And it still has nothing to do with cannibalism...

Ball wrote: "Man, I'm smokin' today!"

Judging by your comments and posts you smoke (crack) every day! ;)

RkBall said...

"We have evolved very complicated..."

No we haven't. We had nothing to do with it. Unless you are going all Lamarckian on us. Is that what you are, Joe Agnost, a closet, flaming Lamarckian!!!!

Cash receipts "done". Moving on to CC receipts. Life is good. There's a breeze blowing in the window.

Joe_Agnost said...

We are the result of the billions of years of evolution. The result being an animal with a very complicated brain which affords us the opportunity to do many great things (like rule most of the animal kingdom)!

Is that better?

Joe_Agnost said...

We're special, we're amazing, we can achieve incredible things!

None of this means we aren't the result of billions of years of biological evolution.

Alex said...

You didn't like my fork statement? Animals are something you have decided are strictly food. -like apple pie. You are saying that a person who is an animal is ok to eat because animals are ok to eat.

I must say this is one compelling argument for creation. Believe or I'll eat you. lol.

I'm glad you are having fun but you've lost this one. Atheism is not an argument for cannibalism and God-said-so is a lazy excuse for everything. You imply that god could command you to do anything. God suddenly commands you to kill and eat another human being. Would you obey, or do you decide this God is evil, whatever his awesome and fearsome works.

I am with the Humans for better or worse. A God who is against us is an enemy no different from a hungry shark.

RkBall said...

I loved your fork statement.

Don't blame God. "You imply that god could command you to do anything." I did?

"Atheism is not an argument for cannibalism." I'm waiting for an atheist to explain what would be wrong with cannibalism -- especially when darwinian atheists pride themselves in declaring that they are animals, and nothing more. On what basis, if we eat meat, would eating each other be "wrong"?

Alex said...

Whats wrong with Cannibalism? I'll tell you. We humans have an often disrespected truce with all other humans. It may be that religion brokered this unofficial truce and if that is true then I thank religion. Religion has done many great things for mankind, and many rotten things have happened in religions name as well. Murder is wrong (we all agree, for one reason or another) so to murder with hunger as a motive is also wrong.

What about a person who is already dead? Their consumption is no different from organ donation. Accepting a transplanted organ is a form of consumption of the dead to the benefit of the living. Sustenance to give life would be one gift of the dead which would include cannibalism. So there you go. Its ok to commit cannibalism insofar as it saves another life from starvation. The law does not agree, but that is the law. I won't die to preserve the law of all things.

So I've admitted cannibalism is ok under some extreme circumstances. Cannibalism is disgusting frankly. I would avoid it at all costs except to save my own life. This is proof that instinct is alive in us. Cannibalism transmits diseases and its horrific and gruesome reminder of our mortality.

It reminds me of homosexuality in some ways. Its not intrinsically wrong but its disgusting and repulsive. Religion has taken this instinctual reaction to be the word of God.

Joe_Agnost said...

Cannibalism is good at spreading diseases. It's also not particularly nice to think about - we're a social animal and have death rituals etc. that exclude the eating of our family and friends.

Historically there has been cannibalism in humans. The vikings (I believe) used to eat their dead enemies after defeating them in battle.

There is no reason, other than health and social rules, that cannibalism can be considered "wrong".

If I had the choice of eat the starved-to-death human next to me or starve to death myself - I think I'd eat the guy next to me.

RkBall said...

"Murder is wrong (we all agree, for one reason or another)"

What makes killing a human murder and killing a pig not murder? Is it not, under darwinian lights, essentially the same thing, and is not "murder" just a human self-conceit?

What about a tree -- can you murder a tree? Trees are living things, just like we are.

RkBall said...

"There is no reason, other than health and social rules, that cannibalism can be considered "wrong"."

I respect atheists who are consistent in the outworking of their (mistaken, misguided) beliefs.

E said...

Aw, another religious person who is just certain that atheists must be wrong if only because you don't understand our position. Straw men, straw men, everywhere.

RkBall said...

I believe you are wrong because:

1. I understand your position and am convinced it has insufficient causal adequacy to explain reality. It is weak, it is feeble, it is blinkered.

2. I have personal knowledge of the Creator, Savior, and Sanctifier whom you dismiss as non-existent. My direct, personal knowledge that God exists trumps your supposition that he does not. Every time.

Bryan said...

"What makes killing a human murder and killing a pig not murder? Is it not, under darwinian lights, essentially the same thing, and is not "murder" just a human self-conceit?"

If you don't understand how killing a member of your own species is different from killing another species in evolutionary terms, then you have no business even discussing this topic.

Bryan said...

"I have personal knowledge of the Creator, Savior, and Sanctifier whom you dismiss as non-existent. My direct, personal knowledge that God exists trumps your supposition that he does not. Every time."

I have direct, personal knowledge that an invisible imp sits on my shoulder and converses with me about events in the afterlife. He tells me you're not going to be allowed in. My personal knowledge trumps any supposition you might have that I'm incorrect.

Care to prove me wrong? How would you go about doing so? Or would you perhaps take the stance that the burden of proof for my claim resides with me, instead of requiring everyone else to disprove it?

RkBall said...

Sure I do.

Darwin himself talked about survival of the fittest in terms of the human race, or races. Killing weaker members, or weaker tribes, fits perfectly with darwinism. Perfectly.

Or are you saying that theirs an "inner logic" to the mindless darwinian processes that is so perfectly implemented that no species kills other members of itself?

Plus, I'm not arguing for what is useful or utilitarian in the darwinian sense, I am asking what would be wrong in a moral sense.

And you haven't answered the question.

RkBall said...

"My personal knowledge trumps any supposition you might have that I'm incorrect."

Sorry, doesn't follow. You may believe this, but it does not defeat my direct apprehension of God, and so does nothing whatsoever to unseat my settled, rationally held belief.

Bryan said...

"Darwin himself talked about survival of the fittest in terms of the human race, or races. Killing weaker members, or weaker tribes, fits perfectly with darwinism. Perfectly."

Do you have pets? Have you seen dogs offhandedly killing weaker members of their pack or even other packs? Perhaps instead you have seen that dogs have a complex set of behaviors that resolve many conflicts without any violence, much less killing.

"Or are you saying that theirs an "inner logic" to the mindless darwinian processes that is so perfectly implemented that no species kills other members of itself?"

I would recommend reading "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins for an excellent explanation of how and why these types of behaviors emerge.

"Plus, I'm not arguing for what is useful or utilitarian in the darwinian sense, I am asking what would be wrong in a moral sense."

Morality is a whole other topic and is pretty hotly debated. But if you want to try and frame it in terms of evolutionary psychology, then yes, I would say that killing your own species would typically be considered "wrong".

E said...

Goodness, RkBall, you sure do love to continue arguing a point you clearly have no grasp on.

That's a fundamentalist for you. Oh well, feel free to continue. And tell us again what it is we believe. It's quite amusing.

Bryan said...

"Sorry, doesn't follow. You may believe this, but it does not defeat my direct apprehension of God, and so does nothing whatsoever to unseat my settled, rationally held belief. "

What you just said doesn't defeat my direct apprehension of your exclusion from paradise in the afterlife as told by my invisible imp. It has been personally revealed to me by a being with infallible knowledge that you are not on the roster for the afterlife.

If you can't prove me wrong then it must be true. Sorry, it would have been nice to see you there (I'm getting in, of course).

Productive to argue this way, isn't it?

RkBall said...

Sure. You believe

From nothing
By nothing
For nothing.

E said...

Fail. Keep trying, though. It's cute.

Joe_Agnost said...

RK_Ball wrote: "(my) rationally held belief"

Bwaahaahaahaa... this is golden! Thanks! "rational": that's a good one!

John B. Sandlin said...

I'm not sure where the idea that "darwinists" are OK with cannibalism comes from. Accepting evolution as fact does not make one amoral. You're conflating the acknowledgement that something happens (Jeffrey Dahmer, anyone?) with thinking that's the way it ought to be. "Is" does not equal "Ought." Darwin made the observation that just because nature does it that way does not mean human society should.

Cannibalism happens. Whether you accept evolution, or God, or both, you must acknowledge that. You don't have to accept that it is good.

What good is it to complain about lousy design if you don't believe in design? However, many people you call Darwinists do complain about the poor condition of their faculties as they age.

From your comments, I have to believe your understanding of evolution is rudimentary. No organ as you would think of them ever emerged from the ooze. Each change is minute and only the enormity of time allows any changes to make any difference.

RkBall said...

"Productive to argue this way, isn't it?"

The problem for you is this:

If there is no God, then there is nothing out there to affirm or confirm your belief. It's a void. So, you can only presume there is no God, or fervently hope there is no God -- you can never know there is no God.

If there is a God, however, he is capable of making himself known. And this is the basis for Christianity.

You are free to dismiss it my report, and ridicule it, or reduce it as you have done to a nonsensical stand-off.

It's what separates believer from unbeliever. Christ either existed, or he didn't. He either rose from the dead, or he didn't. And you either believe it, or you don't. And there will either be both positive consequences for me, and negative consequences for you, or there won't.

RkBall said...

Accepting evolution as fact does not make one amoral.

Never said it did.

What I'm asking is, if a darwinian self-identifies as a mere animal like any other animal, and himself is a meat-eater, on what basis would he object if someone wanted to have him, a mere animal, for lunch?

E said...

Lulz. Your logic is astounding! Keep going, this is better than daytime TV.

Bryan said...

"You are free to dismiss it my report, and ridicule it, or reduce it as you have done to a nonsensical stand-off."

I simply mirrored your argument. If that produced a nonsensical stand-off, then you might want to inspect your side of the mirror for a few minutes.

Joe_Agnost said...

RK_Ball wrote: "there will either be both positive consequences for me, and negative consequences for you, or there won't."

Not quite... there is another possibility that there will be negative consequences for both you and I - if islam is correct we're both screwed right? ;)

Your use of pascal's wager here is amusing but not a surprise... you seem to make it a point to use weak arguments as much as possible.

RkBall said...

"I simply mirrored your argument. If that produced a nonsensical stand-off, then you might want to inspect your side of the mirror for a few minutes."

No, you didn't. Your imp does not have a prior claim to be Creator, has no Scripture, no historical development of self-revelation, no claim to have made man a moral, creative, rational being in his image, no historical Savior, etc. It is about as lop-sided as it can get.

What you have done is created a weak caricature. Atheism, at root, is always parasitic.

Always.

RkBall said...

"Not quite... there is another possibility that there will be negative consequences for both you and I - if islam is correct we're both screwed right? ;)"

No, since I was arguing from personal experience. If my personal experience is veridical, then both Islam and atheism are false.

Brent said...

"I've never heard a Darwinist complain that the mind they use is the result of lousy design, that their mind is the result of a mindless, purposeless process and thus fundamentally untrustworthy as a reality-processor."

Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind by Gary Marcus is an excellent discussion of this topic.

Bryan said...

"No, you didn't. Your imp does not have a prior claim to be Creator, has no Scripture, no historical development of self-revelation, no claim to have made man a moral, creative, rational being in his image, no historical Savior, etc. It is about as lop-sided as it can get."

My imp has all of those things, all revealed to me personally. Prove that he doesn't. You can't, so the argument isn't lop-sided at all.

"What you have done is created a weak caricature."

Like you are doing by arguing points of evolution while apparently having little knowledge of how it actually works? Again, mirror.

John B. Sandlin said...

It's a good thing that a personal knowledge of God can't be replicated by electro-chemical stimulation of certain parts of the brain.

Oh, wait...!

RkBall said...

"And tell us again what it is we believe. It's quite amusing. "

Let me tell you instead what I believe.

I believe that human beings are not mere animals the product of amoral, unintelligent natural processes -- but that we have real, authentic value as self-conscious, moral, rational, creative persons created in the image of God.

I believe you have value.

I believe that collectively we have turned our minds and hearts away from knowledge of our Creator and exist in a state of objective rebellion against him. For which we deserve extinction at best and punishment beyond death at worst.

You included.

I believe that God has cared enough about us to send his Son to show God to us, and take the punishment we deserve. I believe that God vindicated his Son by raising him from the dead.

In other words, He is alive today and cares for you.

I believe that, like those of his day, you are free to ignore him, spit in his face, or worship him.

RkBall said...

"My imp has all of those things, all revealed to me personally."

Well, I would say provide the empirical evidence. Start with the Scriptural records, the archeological evidence, the historical evidence.

Kharnivore said...

There is nothing in atheism that forbids cannibalism. There is nothing that explicitly forbids cannibalism in evolution.

Good thing as an atheist and someone who accepts that the theory of evolution is based on observed facts I don't formulate my behaviour according to atheism or evolutionary theory.

I do however think that as a practice cannibalism is unacceptable. I believe this because I have come to the personal conclusion that human beings as a whole should be treated with respect.
My goal in life is to contribute to making a world that's happier, healthier and where people are fulfilled. I have come to the personal conclusion that treating people with respect is a fundamental component of accomplishing this goal and even after a human is dead their body should be treated with dignity out of respect to their memory.
I also believe that cannibalism is disrespectful to humans in general and would not want my own body to be eaten.

My drive to make the world a happier, healthier and more fulfilled place is driven by evolution; co-operation lends it self to better reproduction rates for our gene pool and as such it's beneficial to our natural selection to work with others.

It's also prevented by evolution; when populations compete in nature, typically the best adapted population will survive. We have a natural instinct to divide the world into "us" and "them".

Thankfully my intelligence allows me to see past this and the evolved ability of introspection allows me to examine my own behaviour and motivations so I can make choices that go beyond simple instinct.

I am a meat eater and though it saddens me that other life forms must be caused pain in order for me to live the lifestyle I wish, I do so because I find it acceptable that less aware animals such as fish, poultry, cows and pigs are killed so that I can eat.

I would not eat a more aware animal such as a dolphin or gorilla because I know more intelligent creatures are more capable of suffering.

There you have it.

Joe_Agnost said...

Did Ball just ask you for "evidence" for your imp Bryan?? How ironic and hilarious is that?!?!?!

/* sarcasmOn */
you see, the difference between your imp and Ball's god is that Ball's god is real and your imp is not.
/* sarcasmOff */

John B. Sandlin said...

What I'm asking is, if a darwinian self-identifies as a mere animal like any other animal, and himself is a meat-eater, on what basis would he object if someone wanted to have him, a mere animal, for lunch?

On the basis that I live in a (relatively) civilized human society, I accept the mutually agreed upon rule that eating other humans is prohibited.

I'm sure that if the societies that did not prohibit human consumption of other humans had triumphed that conversations such as ours would be over how much salt to use when cooking human meat.

jonathan said...

To answer your question about cannibalism:

If a darwinian self-identifies as a mere animal like any other animal, and himself is a meat-eater, on what basis would he object if someone wanted to have him, a mere animal, for lunch?

Simply because cannibalism is the act of one species eating an animal of the same species, NOT an animal eating another animal of a different species. I believe this is where your misunderstanding is. An animal eating another animal of a different species is for nutrition, or in other cases for territorial control or other various violent reasons.

In summary anyone would object to another one of their species wanting to have them for lunch simply because it would harm him/her (self-preservation), or because to want to have someone else for lunch would interfere with out intrinsic need to be social animals; we would be essentially eating ourselves. However in survival situations the brain does do things to ease us into making decisions that we normally wouldn't make in a non-survival situation.

RkBall said...

Jonathan: You have made a couple of good points. Let me see what I can do with them.

1. Surely what we call cannibalism occurs in the animal kingdom, and there's nothing with it when it occurs among other animals, is there, I mean, it "just is" (or, "just does", if you prefer). So, there can be nothing actually or intrinsically wrong with it, can there?

I once saw a mother fish give birth in an aquarium, and then proceed to eat as many of her offspring as she could. They went down in one seamless gulp. Not even a gulp really she just swam through where they were, and they were gone, one by one.

Self-preservation, I can understand. But that doesn't make cannibalism right or wrong, does it? That's why I asked, "in principle". A mouse may want to self-preserve, but that doesn't make it wrong for the cat to pursue it nonetheless, does it?

"Intrinsic need to be social animals; we would be essentially eating ourselves."

Yes, but there is no shortage of ourselves. And modernists claim we are a blight on the planet, a species-destroying species. Wouldn't there be a net gain to the planet if we were diminished or destroyed even?

Besides, we were never "meant to be", so we have no real purpose for being here. If another species ate itself to death, would that be "wrong"? Wouldn't it just be something that happened? So, what would be wrong if humans somehow managed to eat themselves into oblivion?

You have some good points, but no knock-out blow, I think.

RkBall said...

Brent: thank you for contributing something useful. I'll check it out and report back.

RkBall said...

Brent: THank you for the reference. I checked some reviews. Nothing to suggest that he thinks his own brain is fundamentally unreliable as a thought-processor. If he did, he presumably would not have bothered writing a book.

The whole premise of someone thinking they have something to say is that they think their brains are in some sense trustworthy and reliable.

And most darwinists who post to this site, if not all, think their brains are particularly good.

But...

When you're made of debris, where's the room for hubris?™

I think Plantinga's views on the brain and mind are best-in-show -- the human brain is reliable when it works as intended. I.e., designed.

RkBall said...

Kharnivore: The words you are using, e.g., respect, goal, dignity, etc. make perfect sense in a God-designed world. It is easy to see where such concepts come from.

It is conversely difficult to see where they come from in a dead, dark, mindless, amoral universe where creatures came into being by chance, were never meant to exist, have no real purpose for existence, etc.

So, although you are a philosophizing darwinist, you are relying heavily on concepts that are more readily comprehensible and defensible if the universe we inhabit is in fact theistic.

In a darwinian, godless world, animals can eat other animals all day long, and the idea that there might be a good and a bad outcome, or a right and a wrong behavior, are nonsensical categories -- because species and life itself are unintended, and a planet with life is no better or worse than one without it.

Most darwinists and atheists have great difficulty accepting this. And, so they should. Because the reality we inhabit is in fact theist, and therefore rife with good, bad, right, wrong, respect,, goals, purposes, creativity, dignity, life-affirmation, etc.

jonathan said...

"1. Surely what we call cannibalism occurs in the animal kingdom, and there's nothing with it when it occurs among other animals, is there, I mean, it "just is" (or, "just does", if you prefer). So, there can be nothing actually or intrinsically wrong with it, can there?"

Humans made the word cannibalism to specify the concept of one species eating a member of the same species just as we have with the creation of other words. What we call cannibalism is 100% what cannibalism is, however this same concept is probably not interpreted by other animals as it is to us. To an animal that lacks the social structures that we have while also lacking the cultural moralism that we apply to ourselves then there can be no wrong or right, it is survival; you die or you live.

"I once saw a mother fish give birth in an aquarium, and then proceed to eat as many of her offspring as she could. They went down in one seamless gulp. Not even a gulp really she just swam through where they were, and they were gone, one by one."

Do you know what kind of fish this was? There are a variety of fish out there that will protect their offspring by containing them in their mouth while they mature. If this isn't the case then it goes back to the need to survive. If this fish eats some of her numerous offspring allowing her to survive and procreate once more, then it would be beneficial for this mother to do so as well as beneficial to that species population growth as well.

"Self-preservation, I can understand. But that doesn't make cannibalism right or wrong, does it? That's why I asked, "in principle". A mouse may want to self-preserve, but that doesn't make it wrong for the cat to pursue it nonetheless, does it?"

Let's see if I can explain the self-preservation in this scenario. Your'e in a raft with another human, who will not make it through the day/night due to some unexplained injury or illness. In order for you to survive it would require you to eat this individual after they passed, giving you a better chance at living and getting rescued. In this case, because the individual is being eaten after death and their life was not taken by you, then I believe that it wouldn't be wrong. However, if both individuals were healthy and one of them killed the other to eat them then I believe this is wrong. Now notice how I say "I believe". I say this because each individual will have a different outlook and their decision will more than likely be made at the time the decision has to be made. So in principal I think that whether it is right or wrong depends on the situation. As for the cat and the mouse, this is simply survival and not cannibalism and cannot be considered in the realm of wrong or right.

jonathan said...

Part 2

"Intrinsic need to be social animals; we would be essentially eating ourselves."

"Yes, but there is no shortage of ourselves. And modernists claim we are a blight on the planet, a species-destroying species. Wouldn't there be a net gain to the planet if we were diminished or destroyed even?"

You're right, there is no shortage of humans, but because we are social animals we tend to not want to hurt individuals that have emotional value to us. This coupled with a higher intellect causes us to imagine what would happen if we did hurt someone else that was not emotionally attached to us, and could prevent us from pursuing cannabilism (we would be eating ourselves). Now would cannibalism have a net gain; doubtful. In order for us to cannibalize we would have to kill another human first or eat them alive, which would cause immense amounts of emotional and physical pain on both parties; that is why I don't think most cultures can do it anymore. But another fact to consider would be the incredible number of diseases that could be passed, causing a massive population decline.

"Besides, we were never "meant to be", so we have no real purpose for being here. If another species ate itself to death, would that be "wrong"? Wouldn't it just be something that happened? So, what would be wrong if humans somehow managed to eat themselves into oblivion?"

Saying that we were never meant to be implies that we shouldn't be here. I think this is wrong. We exist in this universe because the laws allow us to exist in this universe, there could be an infinite amount of universes out there and one could intelligently assume some of those universes would lack laws for the existence of life; since we exist we know our universe supports life which can be deduced down to "we ARE meant to be" simply because we ARE here. If the laws did not allow us to exist then the question of "are we meant to be" or "what is our purpose" would be completely irrelevant. Our purpose is what we make of ourselves, for ourselves. I don't believe we have a purpose before birth. We are clean slates when we come into this world and our direct interactions with everything on this planet will affect what we decide our purpose is (which would explain individuals who hop from profession to profession), or if we ever decide what it should be. Would it be wrong for an another species to eat eachother into oblivion; I honestly don't know, and I don't believe that question will ever have a concise answer other than it directly affecting the intrinsice need to survive, which goes for humans as well.

P@J said...

congratulations, Ball, you blog has touched greatness:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/07/my_terrible_awful_no-good_brai.php

Still you continue to relate atheism and cannibalism. Somehow, I think you got it backwards:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucharistic_theology

RkBall said...

"Saying that we were never meant to be implies that we shouldn't be here."

Didn't mean to imply that. Meant to imply that it would be a matter of complete and utter indifference to the forces of darwinism, whatever they are, if we all were extinguished. There is nothing "good" about humans being here; there would be nothing "bad" about us vanishing.

rx7ward said...

"I've never heard a Darwinist complain that the mind they use is the result of lousy design, that their mind is the result of a mindless, purposeless process and thus fundamentally untrustworthy as a reality-processor."

If you ever read something besides The Bible, you would have heard this claim, and others like it, many times.

rx7ward said...

But "theist view" IS "an impaired, delusioned mind incapable of reasoning that corresponds with actual reality." My, what big projection you're displaying here!

"biblical data."

An oxymoron if there ever was one ...

rx7ward said...

"as a consistent darwinist, you are OK with cannibalism"

And just what the HELL does the one have to do with the other?

Kharnivore said...

Rkball; the natural world is not mindless, it is inhabited my many many minds, some of those minds are sentient primates called homo sapiens. You utterly failed to address the fact that I presented a reasonable and perfectly natural system of moral justification against the practice of cannibalism. You may claim that words like “ respect, goal, dignity” only make sense in a God designed world, but these are perfectly normal words we use to express perfectly normal concepts. No deity intervention required, in fact quite the contrary to your claim that these terms are more “comprehensible and defensible if the universe we inhabit is in fact theistic.” the evidence suggests that such terms are equally valid in a totally natural world.

Your notion of a Darwinian godless world is exactly right, but you've omitted the point I brought up; that as a Human with an advanced intellect I have the ability of introspection. I have evolved the ability to consider my behaviour and my motivations beyond my primitive instincts. This means despite being a product of evolution, it does not control my decision making processes; I do that.

In the last paragraph you falsely equate attributes like “good, bad, right, wrong, respect,, goals, purposes, creativity, dignity, life-affirmation” to theism without providing any justification as to why these attributes are not equally valid in a naturalistic world. This demonstrates a critical failure at critical thinking on your part, as you've failed to consider how your same argument might be equally applied to the opposing side.

RkBall said...

"Rkball; the natural world is not mindless."

J-man: The natural universe which produced minds is itself mindless, goalless, purposeless, etc. Minds are nothing more than accidents of indifferent nature. Acute oddities, which, once again, are more easily and plausibly explained given theism.

"the evidence suggests that such terms are equally valid in a totally natural world."

No, it doesn't. You can say that these concepts are equally at home among persons who deny the existence of God and posit a solely natural universe and those who don't. But the fact is, you posit that

a) The universe was once lifeless, unconscious, dead, goalless, undirected, insentient. There was no life. There was no consciousness. There were no goals. No purpose. Dead.

b) There was a point in time when the attributes I mentioned -- good, bad, right, wrong, respect, goals, purposes, creativity, dignity, life-affirmation” etc. did not exist.

c) Life emerged from goalless, directionless processes through the (unexplained) regularities of nature, as did these attributes -- good, bad, right, wrong, respect, goals, purposes, creativity, dignity, life-affirmation” etc.

It is these characteristics that are more readily explainable if theism is true, and more problematic, acutely improbable, if atheism is true.

So, it's not enough to just say, "well I'm an atheist and I also believe in human dignity, respect, right, wrong etc. That's not the point. You have to realize how improbable and unlikely if not impossible it all is -- and how, if these things we value and cherish are all the results, ultimately, of impersonal, mindless processes and nothing more, how inauthentic they all must ultimately be.

True good, and true evil, and true right, and true wrong, can only exist in our universe if their ultimate source is an intelligent moral agent and not a process which is a) goalless, b) unintelligent, and c) amoral.

And that is why I posit that theism is true and atheism is false.

You made a good post; I'm not dismissing it. I'm just trying to show you a possible weakness in it.

RkBall said...

"Rkball; the natural world is not mindless."

J-man: The natural universe which produced minds is itself mindless, goalless, purposeless, etc. Minds are nothing more than accidents of indifferent nature. Acute oddities, which, once again, are more easily and plausibly explained given theism.

"the evidence suggests that such terms are equally valid in a totally natural world."

No, it doesn't. You can say that these concepts are equally at home among persons who deny the existence of God and posit a solely natural universe and those who don't. But the fact is, you posit that

a) The universe was once lifeless, unconscious, dead, goalless, undirected, insentient. There was no life. There was no consciousness. There were no goals. No purpose. Dead.

b) There was a point in time when the attributes I mentioned -- good, bad, right, wrong, respect, goals, purposes, creativity, dignity, life-affirmation” etc. did not exist.

c) Life emerged from goalless, directionless processes through the (unexplained) regularities of nature, as did these attributes -- good, bad, right, wrong, respect, goals, purposes, creativity, dignity, life-affirmation” etc.

RkBall said...

J-man2:

It is these characteristics that are more readily explainable if theism is true, and more problematic, acutely improbable, if atheism is true.

So, it's not enough to just say, "well I'm an atheist and I also believe in human dignity, respect, right, wrong etc. That's not the point. You have to realize how improbable and unlikely if not impossible it all is -- and how, if these things we value and cherish are all the results, ultimately, of impersonal, mindless processes and nothing more, how inauthentic they all must ultimately be.

True good, and true evil, and true right, and true wrong, can only exist in our universe if their ultimate source is an intelligent moral agent and not a process which is a) goalless, b) unintelligent, and c) amoral.

And that is why I posit that theism is true and atheism is false.

You made a good post; I'm not dismissing it. I'm just trying to show you a possible weakness in it.

Johnny P said...

i think a darwinist with down's syndrome or aspergers could easily call into question the poor design of the mind. i have friends with manic depression. i believe in evolution, i think the brain could be designed better. it ain't perfect. it is adequate, but it could be better. we could have less mood swings, better memory, more ability to multitask, being less prone to disease, tumour and malfunction, less likely to deteriorate with age.

is your post a little short-sighted?

Alex said...

"What makes killing a human murder and killing a pig not murder? Is it not, under darwinian lights, essentially the same thing, and is not "murder" just a human self-conceit?"

Call me conceited then. I am a human partisan. I said myself I am a human supremest. Humans first above all greater or lesser. There is no greater cause than the safety of the human race.

Alex said...

"2. I have personal knowledge of the Creator, Savior, and Sanctifier whom you dismiss as non-existent. My direct, personal knowledge that God exists trumps your supposition that he does not. Every time."

I'm interested in your personal knowledge Mr. Ball. Unlike other Atheists I regard atheism as an opinion I have settled on with the information available. There may be a God. I am open to that possibility as much as I am open to the possibility of no God or many Gods or even evil Gods. My current understanding of the universe gives very poor odds that there is a God of any kind in it. I'm an agnostic who has made a decision. That's all. I can change my mind.

Nathan said...

"it seems silly for a member of relatively successful genus (Homo) of a remarkably unsuccessful family (Hominadae – I surviving species), of a rapidly collapsing Order (Primates), of a moderately successful Class (Mammalia-doing alright, for having a backbone, at least unitl the next astrobleme) of a rather minor Phylum (Chordata) of the least populous Kingdom (Animalia – less than 1% of total biomass) can look at itself as being the epitome of evolution. You really have to have a pretty high opinion of yourself"
Hehe, can I quote that?

RkBall said...

Johnny P. Thank you for your contribution.

First, let me say our hearts go out to anyone who is suffering an infirmity of any kind -- be it mental, emotional, or physical.

The phenomenon I am referring to -- of "lousy design" does not refer to defective or degraded or impaired or faulty operation, as in the instances you have cited.

The examples I gave, and surely you are familiar with them, allude to darwinists gleefully pointing out what they view as defects in the design of the knee or the eye (or whatever) when the knee and eye is operating optimally. I would have said, "when the knee or eye is operating "as intended", but the darwinist does not admit to intent. So, strictly speaking, there is no "proper" or "improper" functioning of anything.

I hope this clarifies things for you.

RkBall said...

Alex -- not too much to argue with on your first point. I'm really aiming my comment at darwinists who go out of their way to self-identify as a mere animal.

Alex said...

"What I'm asking is, if a darwinian self-identifies as a mere animal like any other animal, and himself is a meat-eater, on what basis would he object if someone wanted to have him, a mere animal, for lunch?"

This is why you are losing this argument. We are no mere animal,and if we meat an animal with great faculties than we posses, your logic demands that we submit ourselves as food to the greater being by virtue of its greatness. No I say. Great or not, nothing shall enslave us. We are free and we claim our freedom. We have an inherent inborn right to exist free.

Pigs do not have this. They are possessions that are hugely successful because they are so tasty to us.

RkBall said...

Now, as for the experiential dimension. The NT clearly promises the Holy Spirit to them that believe. Real Christianity is, at its heart, experiential. About a week after my conversion I had a definite, distinct, dramatic confirmatory experience. Up to that point, I hadn't felt a thing -- it was pure reasoning that was driving my conversion.

Here's a typical verse dealing with the experiential dimension:

"O taste and see that the Lord is good!".

If you read through the New Testament, you will find the experiential dimension hard to miss. A couple of classic books on the experiential dimension are "They Speak With Other Tongues", and, "The Cross and the Switchblade".

RkBall said...

Alex, "We are no mere animal".

As soon as you say this, stop. I am not arguing with persons like you, I am arguing with darwinists who claim that that is precisely what we are -- mere animals.

"We have an inherent inborn right to exist free."

Well, I agree with this. But this is not darwinian thinking. The idea of an inborn inherent right is a nonsensical category of thought to a consistent darwinian.

"Pigs do not have this."

Indeed, they do not.

RkBall said...

Nathan -- you think that's good? Here's my favorite self-deprecating comment by an atheist:

"Being an atheist gives me the freedom and mental strength to be comfortable with the understanding that I am no more significant than a bread crumb on my chopping board."

You see, this is the kind of view I respect -- because it is logically consistent with the dreary tenets of atheism.

Atheists think they are "killing" God. In fact, it is human beings they slay -- reducing them to animals, without purpose or ultimate meaning, in the midst of an uncaring, impersonal, insentient, amoral universe.

Rebelling, and deciding that is not who we are, can be the first step on a trip that leads to faith in God.

JAHigginbotham said...

I don't know any atheists or scientists who are cannibals. Such behavior is more the purview of the religious: "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53)

John B. Sandlin said...

I'm still waiting for the evidence for design so many claim exists. I've looked for it and can't find it.

For a very long time I yearned for the experiential dimension of God. It never came. I looked, but it seems to not be there.

With a lack of evidence for design or a sense of the presence of God, I find it very difficult to believe in.

Kharnivore said...

"b) There was a point in time when the attributes I mentioned -- good, bad, right, wrong, respect, goals, purposes, creativity, dignity, life-affirmation” etc. did not exist."

Incorrect. This is similar to saying that 1+1=2 did not exist until we discovered mathematics. These words represent concepts, concepts which will have existed after the human race dies and before it was born. You're saying that when a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, it doesn't make a sound. Simply because there was no one to be good, bad, right, wrong; does not mean these concepts did not exist before humans did.

"Life emerged from goalless, directionless processes through the (unexplained) regularities of nature, as did these attributes -- good, bad, right, wrong, respect, goals, purposes, creativity, dignity, life-affirmation” etc."

Again incorrect. We have quite a good explanation of how life could have emerged. It is not goalless, nor directionless; it is a process of forming patterns, patterns which can repeat themselves grow, patterns which cannot do not. The more successful the pattern of matter, the more complex it becomes, the better it can be at repeating itself. The goal is to keep repeating, the direction is to do so by changing in complexity.
You've also claimed again that good, bad, right, wrong etc are attributes; they're not. They are concepts. Abstract ideas that can be assigned as attributes, like beauty or courage, but they remain concepts.

"You have to realize how improbable and unlikely it all is"

It having happened, it has a probability of exactly 100%. This is a basic principle of the operation of the universe, if I flip a coin and it comes down tails, the probability of the coin I just flipped having come down tails is 100%.

"True good, and true evil, and true right, and true wrong, can only exist in our universe if their ultimate source is an intelligent moral agent and not a process which is a) goalless, b) unintelligent, and c) amoral."

Well that's probably true. Unfortunately, there is no such absolute truth has ever been demonstrated. Like the supernatural, there is simply no evidence that it exists. This is a bait and switch, you've begun talking about regular abstract concepts like good, bad, right, wrong; subjective concepts totally at home in a natural world, but now you've traded them for supernatural concepts; absolutely true, absolutely evil. No such things have EVER been demonstrated to exist, like the unicorn there is no evidence that it exists, despite the presence of horned animals and horses, there is simply no reason to assume they exist.
Unless that is you have a source that does not rely on reliable, observational evidence for it's testimony. A source like a big book of bronze age mythology.

"It is these characteristics that are more readily explainable if theism is true, and more problematic, acutely improbable, if atheism is true."

You don't substantiate this claim in the slightest. Good, bad, right, wrong are subjective terms. They were coined by humans to describe abstract concepts that we discovered. There is nothing inherently theistic about these concepts, or at least not their normal counterparts, I will reiterate what I said before; you attempted to bait and switch these concepts with their unsubstantiated supernatural counterparts; absolute good, absolute bad, absolute right, absolute wrong, absolute evil, which are supernatural in nature, supernatural and totally unsupported by evidence.

Also on a more personal note; there is nothing “mere” about being an animal, being an animal means having a heritage that goes all the way back to the first cellular life forms; an unbroken line of descent from all the lives that have struggled to make this world their home. I am the result of every triumph, every achievement, every moment of bravery of every creature that inhabited this planet before me. There is nothing more impressive than being a “mere” animal.

RkBall said...

BB: b) There was a point in time when the attributes I mentioned -- good, bad, right, wrong, respect, goals, purposes, creativity, dignity, life-affirmation” etc. did not exist."

Kharn: Incorrect. This is similar to saying that 1+1=2 did not exist until we discovered mathematics. These words represent concepts, concepts which will have existed after the human race dies and before it was born.

BB: I agree that 1+1=2 before we discovered mathematics. Mathematics is invterwoven into the fabric of reality, with elegant, beautiful equations, which cause mathematicians to marvel.

Since you view things like good bad right wrong, etc. as concepts, let me ask you this: if they existed before man, in whose mind did they exist? If they did not reside in a mind, where, pray tell, did they exist -- in the outer or inner surface of molecules, perhaps?

JLA said...

"It is these characteristics that are more readily explainable if theism is true, and more problematic, acutely improbable, if atheism is true."
Actually, you have this exactly backwards. Your argument was exploded by Plato in the Euthyphro thousands of years ago. Basically, the argument goes like this: either the good is whatever God wants, or it is not. If the former, then God could order anything and it would by definition be Good. To take your favorite example, he could order you to kill and eat other people,even ALL of the other people, and the fact of his order would make cannibalism and genocide moral. The other option, that the good is not synonomous with God's whim, puts the atheist and the theist in the same boat, looking for another source of morality. This is not really a problem for atheists, who regard morality as the product of human reason. Theists, however, have trouble with the implication that there is something outside of God that he did not create.

RkBall said...

BB:
"Life emerged from goalless, directionless processes through the (unexplained) regularities of nature, as did these attributes -- good, bad, right, wrong, respect, goals, purposes, creativity, dignity, life-affirmation” etc."

Kharn: Again incorrect. We have quite a good explanation of how life could have emerged. It is not goalless, nor directionless; it is a process of forming patterns, patterns which can repeat themselves grow, patterns which cannot do not. The more successful the pattern of matter, the more complex it becomes, the better it can be at repeating itself. The goal is to keep repeating, the direction is to do so by changing in complexity.

BB: Goals imply minds and purposeful agents. There can be no goals associated with, e.g., ice forming or melting, a rock crumbling, etc.

Kharn: You've also claimed again that good, bad, right, wrong etc are attributes; they're not. They are concepts. Abstract ideas that can be assigned as attributes, like beauty or courage, but they remain concepts.

BB: Either these are real, or they are mere concepts, of no more deep meaning or validity than, e.g., the concept of a flying spaghetti monster. Are they real, or not?

RkBall said...

Kharn: "You have to realize how improbable and unlikely it all is"

It having happened, it has a probability of exactly 100%. This is a basic principle of the operation of the universe, if I flip a coin and it comes down tails, the probability of the coin I just flipped having come down tails is 100%.

BB: This is a fallacy. W.L. Craig addresses it this way. You face a firing squad. There are 100 trained marksmen each with a bullet in his rifle. They ready, aim, fire. You realize you are still alive. Someone says, "it is 100% probable that they would all miss!". The fact that they did does not make it probable. It still remains improbable, and, more importantly, it still begs an explanation.

Honor, meaning, good, evil, etc etc. still requires an explanation. "They're here!" is not an explanation -- it is a description.

RkBall said...

Kharn: Like the supernatural, there is simply no evidence that it exists.

BB:
1. A universe instantly exploding into existence from nothing, and unfolding in a way that leads to life and goodness etc. is a pretty good indirect indicator of something outside of a closed-box universe.
2. The testimony of the Old Testament figures is evidence.
3. The testimony of New Testament figures is evidence.
4. The fine-tuning of the universe is evidence of an ordering, intelligent cause outside of the universe -- this is evidence.
5. The intelligence embedded inside the simplest cell is evidence at least of intelligent agency, plausibly outside of the universe itself and therefore supernatural.
6. The resurrection of Christ as an historical event is a whopping indicator of the supernatural.
7. Christians testify of the supernatural all the time -- personal regeneration, communion with their Lord, reports of signs and wonders occurring. This is evidence.

Now, none of these may rise to the level of scientific certainty, but, most things we believe in life don't. If you want to find God inside a test tube, or at the working end of a microscope, you're going about it the wrong way.

RkBall said...

Kharn: Good, bad, right, wrong are subjective terms. They were coined by humans to describe abstract concepts that we discovered.

BB: Where were they before we discovered them? Floating in space? Riding on light waves/particles? Embedded in star dust?

You may not know this, but you have stumbled upon a major argument for the existence of God -- the apparent reality of abstracts. Once you open that door, your monistic materialistic universe begins to unravel.

RkBall said...

"There is nothing more impressive than being a “mere” animal."

I agree they are impressive. Because they are the result of an impressive ultimate cause!

Thanks for your very thoughtful and stimulating, and (mainly) temperate post!

RkBall said...

JLA: First, thanks for posting.

This dilemma has been more than adequately answered by Christian thinkers.

For a good discussion, go here: http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5236

In short, moral laws neither outside of God of what he merely decrees, but, rather, in the very character of God. E.g., God decrees kindness because he himself is kind. Jesus sums up the Law, and the Christian's duty towards it in this statement: "Be like your Father in heaven".

Let me know if you think the article adequately refutes this false dilemma.

JLA said...

Ball:
No, I can't say I am satisfied with that. The argument boils down to "but God would never do evil, because it is against his nature." Of course, if he DID do something, then obviously it wouldn't be against his nature, and therefore (by your argument) not evil. So where did evil come from? The stock Christian answer is man's Free Will, but that doesn't address the fact that God routinely tortures children to death through various cancers, infections etc. Seriously, if it is against God's nature to do evil, why did he create filariasis?

Kharnivore said...

RKball said "BB: Where were they before we discovered them? Floating in space? Riding on light waves/particles? Embedded in star dust?"

Where were they before we discovered them? The same place they are now; They have no location, they are abstract ideas.

Would you say that 1 + 1 = 2 did not exist before humans discovered it? Do you think sunsets were any less beautiful before humans were around to witness it?

I would appreciate answers to these questions.

"You may not know this, but you have stumbled upon a major argument for the existence of God -- the apparent reality of abstracts. Once you open that door, your monistic materialistic universe begins to unravel."

Except for one problem; you've provided nothing to demonstrate that the reality of abstracts has any supernatural connotations whatsoever. It is a concept perfectly at home in a natural world.

RkBall said...

JLA: Well, now you're shifting to another argument -- the problem of evil, considered the best argument against the existence of God, or, at least, the existence of a good God.

Briefly, the Christian view is:

* Evil predates man -- it has origins in spiritual rebellion, which man entered into

* Evil exists where God, in some sense, does not. In other words, if God were fully and completely present in all things, there would be no evil. Evil is thus always a corruption of the good.

* Why God allows evil to remain, and to at times prevail, is a mystery. There's no entirely satisfactory answer for it.

* However, we do know that at some point God will act to eradicate evil. Unfortunately, this will result in the destruction of all who oppose his rule.

* So, maybe we have evil in the first place because we had a freewill choice that had devastating consequences, and maybe we still have evil because the remedy -- the destruction of those who refuse to acknowledge God and don't want to have anything to do with him, or his "rules", or his reign -- is so extreme.

In other words, maybe we still have evil because he loves you and wants to give you and others like you maximum opportunity to have a change of heart and mind.

* * *

The bigger problem for the atheist is not why evil should exist, but why good should exist -- for evil only is coherent when we have a sense of what good is and how therefore things ought to be.

C. S. Lewis was an atheist like you. And it was his thinking on this matter along these lines that led to his conversion.

I like the way the Anglican prayer book puts it. God is:

* All good
* All powerful
* All wise

RkBall said...

*"Where were they before we discovered them? The same place they are now; They have no location, they are abstract ideas."

In whose mind did they exist?

*Would you say that 1 + 1 = 2 did not exist before humans discovered it?

No, but I'm not an atheist. Do you think that 1+1=2 existed before the universe came into existence?

*Do you think sunsets were any less beautiful before humans were around to witness it?

Well, since colors do not exist in objects themselves, but in the eye's processing of light wavelengths, I think a good case could be made, on the basis of naturalism being true, that they probably weren't very beautiful. Take the colors out of them, and what are you left with?

However, I think they are beautiful because God made them beautiful, and gave us eyes that would differentiate light wavelengths in such a way that we would see colors and thus appreciate them.

* "you've provided nothing to demonstrate that the reality of abstracts has any supernatural connotations whatsoever. It is a concept perfectly at home in a natural world."

If abstracts are real, are they material or immaterial?

Joe_Agnost said...

Ball wrote: "*Would you say that 1 + 1 = 2 did not exist before humans discovered it?

No, but I'm not an atheist."

So before humans discovered math, say 1 million years ago, an apple and another apple DIDN'T equal 2 apples??
Of course they did...

Ball cont'd: "Take the colors out of them (sunsets), and what are you left with?"

A star moving around a planet but NOT emitting radiation. Since stars ~do~ emit radiation the subsequent sunset would still be beautiful regardless of whether a human is there to see it.

Ball cont'd: "I think they (sunsets) are beautiful because God made them beautiful"

This is the mind of child at work... such simple thinking made possible by a religion that zaps all investigation and truth out of our world.

So sad...

Kharnivore said...

In regards to your "evidence" post:

"1. A universe instantly exploding into existence from nothing, and unfolding in a way that leads to life and goodness etc. is a pretty good indirect indicator of something outside of a closed-box universe."

This is not evidence; there is nothing inherently supernatural about the universe and there are many equally or more valid natural theories to explain the universes origins.

"2. The testimony of the Old Testament figures is evidence."
If you accept this as evidence you must also accept the sacred writings of all other religions, which directly contradicts your own evidence, raising questions about the validity of the source.

"3. The testimony of New Testament figures is evidence."

Same as above.

"4. The fine-tuning of the universe is evidence of an ordering, intelligent cause outside of the universe -- this is evidence."

There is nothing inherently supernatural about the nature of the universe, many naturalistic theories exist that explain the formation of the universe in an equally or more valid manner. Furthermore there is no evidence for intelligent cause outside of the universe.

"5."

This claim is false; there is nothing about cell complexity that demonstrates it must have been designed by an intelligence, let alone a supernatural one. Many natural theories are capable of explaining how cells could have formed.

"6."

The resurrection of the demigod son of Jehovah is not correlated by any sources outside of a 3rd hand text that is overwhelmingly biased in favour of it's own mythology. If you accept this as evidence you must also accept the sacred writings of other religious which directly contradict your own evidence. This demonstrates it is an unreliable source.

"7."

This also takes place in almost all other faiths; people of all cultures have been reportedly experiencing supernatural phenomena for thousands of years. None of it has ever been substantiated, also these experiences can be stimulated with a variety of substances and traumas that effect the brain, none of which are supernatural in effect. Experiences of the "supernatural" are commonly relayed by the mentally challenged and the chemically challenged as well.

It boils down to this; none of these things suggest a supernatural cause that is any more likely than a natural cause.
The difference between the natural and the supernatural is that thousands of phenomena once assigned to the supernatural have been discovered to have natural causes.
No natural phenomena have ever been discovered to have supernatural causes. There is not one phenomena that we know of that has a supernatural cause. If you can think of one, please elaborate.

"Now, none of these may rise to the level of scientific certainty,"

There is no proof (certainty) in science, there is only observation of evidence and inferring results based on those observations. If I drop a ball to the ground 99 times, I have no proof (certainty) that if I were to do so a 100th time, the ball would not float, or fly into the air.
I am certain however, that (taking context into consideration) it would fall to the ground like the other 99 times. This is the difference between practical certainty (Certain enough for all real world applications) and absolute certainty, which does not exist.

"but, most things we believe in life don't."False. Science is the study of what is real; it is not some kind of arcane practice. It is the method of making observations, forming explanations based on those observations, and then looking at those explanations critically in order to find out what is correct and what is not. There is no reason that religion should not be subject to this process, other than it does not stand up to it.

Science is the only reliable method for discovering what is real.

JLA said...

Actually, I'm not shifting to another argument. You used Aquinas's defense against the Euthyphro dilemma - that it is a false one, since goodness is an inherent quality of God. My point is that the problem of Natural Evil (not human evil, mind you) suggests that at best, God has a very different idea of goodness than I do, which returns us to the first horn of the dilemma, good is God's whim.

As for C.S. Lewis, he makes the same mistake you are making in your dialogue with Kharn, that abstractions are somehow evidence of God. We accept the existence of a tree, for example, because each of us independently confirms its existence - we do not need to invoke some Mind to hold it in existence in our absence. Further, the nature of the world in which we live seems to make the development of certain propositions such as identity and noncontradiction inevitable, at least for beings with brains like ours - without them, thought would not be possible. From logic and social experience (most importantly, the recognition that other people are beings like us), we develop a sense of justice.

Kharnivore said...

"In whose mind did they exist?"

No ones mind. They are abstract concepts, they do not require a mind to exist.

"No, but I'm not an atheist. Do you think that 1+1=2 existed before the universe came into existence?"

What does being an atheist have to do with it? If an abstract concept like 1 and 1 equalling two can exist before humans discovered it, why not beauty?


"Well, since colors do not exist in objects themselves, but in the eye's processing of light wavelengths, I think a good case could be made, on the basis of naturalism being true, that they probably weren't very beautiful. Take the colors out of them, and what are you left with?"

This section is worrying because you've tried to equate beauty with colour... The image is the same to us whether we're there to see it or not. Do you understand this? A beautiful sunset from a hundred million years ago is just as beautiful today.

"However, I think they are beautiful because God made them beautiful, and gave us eyes that would differentiate light wavelengths in such a way that we would see colors and thus appreciate them."

That's super for you, but how is it relevant?

"If abstracts are real, are they material or immaterial?"

Argh, are you kidding me? It's a bloody abstract! Of course it's immaterial! You can't have a material abstract, it's a violation of the concept!
The very definition of an abstract is that it MUST be immaterial.

"An abstract object is an object which does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing (as an idea, or abstraction)."

Do the research.

RkBall said...

* Argh, are you kidding me? It's a bloody abstract! Of course it's immaterial! You can't have a material abstract, it's a violation of the concept!
The very definition of an abstract is that it MUST be immaterial.

If it's immaterial, where does it exist before it is discovered by humans?

If it is an idea, in whose mind does it exist, before it exists in humans' minds?

Kharnivore said...

The definition I JUST gave: "An abstract object is an object which does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing (as an idea, or abstraction)."

To which you said: "If it's immaterial, where does it exist before it is discovered by humans?"

Why? Why would you say such a thing? Are you trying to cause me pain?

Again; It does not exist anywhere. It is an abstraction. How many times must this be repeated before you realize?

The abstraction exists, but it has no form, no location, no mass, no energy. It is a representation of a type of thing.

It is the same as asking where the number 3 came from. Some things are grouped in three or more, the number three is a part of this. Things have always been able to be grouped in three, before the universe as we know it formed, things had the potential to be grouped in three, just as they had the potential do to be beautiful, or any number of other abstractions.

jonathan said...

In reply to RkBalls comment:

"Well, since colors do not exist in objects themselves, but in the eye's processing of light wavelengths, I think a good case could be made, on the basis of naturalism being true, that they probably weren't very beautiful. Take the colors out of them, and what are you left with?"

Firstly I'll say that I don't think color makes beauty, I believe line and form do; that is one thing every beginning artist must learn. It could also be said that your comment "take the colors out of them, and what are you left with?" could be implied as "monochromatic people are unable to see beauty", which is obviously false.

The colors exist due to the chemical and physical properties embued within the objects coupled with light being reflected back into our eyes. If the natural world were to maintain its chemical and physical properties in the absence of us then sunsets would still remain beautiful/colorful, however one must remember that beauty is abstract and subjective. I say beauty is abstract and subjective because what you might find beautiful may be bland for me. For example, I find electron microscopy images of microscopic organisms very beautiful as well as images of various viruses; with or without color. But all of this aside it does not invalidate the fact that the colors would still exist in the absence of us.

Since you believe that humans were created by a creator you may be better off asking why you don't see the full spectrum of colors, or why all humans aren't tetrachromatic which prevents us from observing the full beauty of the world around us.

RkBall said...

*"before the universe as we know it formed, things had the potential to be grouped in three, just as they had the potential do to be beautiful, or any number of other abstractions.

BB: Now you're introducing the concept of potential existence as opposed to actual existence. Which is it?

And, if they exist, but not in time and space, then you are, at least, not a materialist. While a belief in the existence of immaterial things does not necessitate the supernatural, it certainly is a step in the direction of belief in the existence of things outside of this material, time-and-space universe.

If abstractions are immaterial ideas, as you suggested, do they exist in a mind, or do ideas exist outside of a mind waiting to be discovered?

RkBall said...

"But all of this aside it does not invalidate the fact that the colors would still exist in the absence of us."

I think you are right.

jonathan said...

"If abstractions are immaterial ideas, as you suggested, do they exist in a mind, or do ideas exist outside of a mind waiting to be discovered?"

To answer simply, they exist in the mind? This is not saying that the abstract idea of beauty is waiting for us, but that out personal observations of the world will sculpt how each individual interprits beauty. Objects have the potential for beauty, but only when the abstract idea of beauty is applied to him/her by their observations. Even someone who is blind has their own ideas of what beauty is, they just perceive it differntly than you or I. Does that mean they are incapable of true beauty?

jonathan said...

Edit on last post:

To answer simply, they exist in the mind?

should read as:

To answer simply, they exist in the mind.

RkBall said...

"2. The testimony of the Old Testament figures is evidence."
If you accept this as evidence you must also accept the sacred writings of all other religions."

Not true. You can evaluate each one. This is like saying because one person is selling mushrooms and the next guy is selling toadstools, you have to accept both.

"There is nothing inherently supernatural about the nature of the universe".

We are not talking about the nature of the universe -- we are talking about the cause of the natural universe, and the cause of nature itself.

"Furthermore there is no evidence for intelligent cause outside of the universe."

Apart from the necessity that everything must have a sufficient reason for its existence, and the scientific evidence is that the universe, including both time and space, popped into existence from nothing. So, you have to look for an immaterial cause. What existed prior to the material universe? According to you, abstracts pre-existed. That's a start.

"Many natural theories are capable of explaining how cells could have formed."

The fact that explanations are available does not make them true, or probable, or even possible. And, if a natural explanation is arrived at, then it is not an explanation, it is a description, and the underlying process itself requires explanation.

"6."
" If you accept this as evidence you must also accept the sacred writings of other religious which directly contradict your own evidence. This demonstrates it is an unreliable source."

Wrong again. Evidence can be weighed and evaluated. Mohammed, e.g., wrote 600 years after the events described. Which reports are going to have more historical value?

"It boils down to this; none of these things suggest a supernatural cause that is any more likely than a natural cause."

And what is the cause for nature itself?

* There is not one phenomena that we know of that has a supernatural cause. If you can think of one, please elaborate."

Regeneration, i.e, being re-born by the Spirit of God. God's agency in raising Christ from the dead. The material universe. Nature itself.

"Science is the study of what is real."

Not if you accept the definition that science works according to methodological naturalism, and only methodological naturalism. If this is true, then science is reduced to the study of what may be discovered by the method of methodological naturalism. It becomes self-limiting, and self-defeating in the discovery of what is real. For example, there is no place in science for the actual existence of abstracts, concerning which you have strong beliefs.

"Science is the only reliable method for discovering what is real."

Science cannot "see" or detect your mind. Is it real?

Or "you". Are you real?

Science cannot determine whether your mother loves you or not. Do you believe she does? Science can see the effects of pain, but not pain itself. Is pain real?

"Science is the only reliable method for discovering what is real."

Can science itself prove this? Can this be demonstrated by experiment? Or, is this just a truism you are throwing out which should be rejected because it is self-refuting?

RkBall said...

"To answer simply, they exist in the mind."

I agree with you on this, too. Kharnie thinks they exist as immaterial entities, apart from the human mind, waiting to be discovered. I'm asking him if they have to exist in a mind, or whether they are free-floating. He hasn't answered yet, because I think he knows he's stuck. If he admits mind, he in effect admits Mind. And that brings us to the mind-of-you-know-Who.

Otherwise, all these things are just concoctions of our uncreated, undesigned brains whose utility derives from physical survival value, and nothing more.

Hardly a satisfactory view of actual reality.

jonathan said...

"Otherwise, all these things are just concoctions of our uncreated, undesigned brains whose utility derives from physical survival value, and nothing more."

As an ahteist that's what I believe. If you would like more clarity I'm more than willing to tell you why, but I'll answer a few of your other comments and questions for now.

"And what is the cause for nature itself?"

We don't know, but scientists do have some very plausible and very fascinating theories.

"Regeneration, i.e, being re-born by the Spirit of God. God's agency in raising Christ from the dead. The material universe. Nature itself."

I don't know if I would consider any of these examples as suggestions for a supernatural cause.

1. Regeneration only happens in certain species, and it is becoming clearer as to why it happens, and what protiens and genes are turned on and off to facilitate it, but nothing supernatural behind it.

2. Being reborn cannot scientifically be falsified as the supernatural cannot be tested, so being reborn is out of the realm of science.

3. God's agency falls into the same slot as the mentioned above.

4. The material universe can be explained by naturalistic theories. It may not be what you expect, or may not suit your belief system, but there are ways to explain it.

5. Nature falls into the same slot as the mentioned above.

"Not if you accept the definition that science works according to methodological naturalism, and only methodological naturalism. If this is true, then science is reduced to the study of what may be discovered by the method of methodological naturalism. It becomes self-limiting, and self-defeating in the discovery of what is real."

Science works according to the whys, hows, whens, and whats by different types of scientific standards according to the field of study it pertains to. This does not reduce it to "what may be discovered" but more like "well that's intersting". In this sense it becomes more un-limiting than limiting itself, because the four questions will be asked once again on the new observation.

"For example, there is no place in science for the actual existence of abstracts, concerning which you have strong beliefs."

On the contrary, this field of science would be Neurology since these are where the abstract, non-tangible ideas are born. This is in fact being studied right now and is making some very strong progress.

"Science cannot "see" or detect your mind. Is it real?"

I believe science can detect your mind. I say this because I believe your mind is what your brain is made up of. Does it have all of the normal physiological parts? Does if have a normal balance of hormones, etc.? If I removed your corpus callosum I can guarntee that you will have a completely different mind. You can also see this change of personality and mind in head trauma victims.

"Can science itself prove this? Can this be demonstrated by experiment? Or, is this just a truism you are throwing out which should be rejected because it is self-refuting?"

Well because science does not prove anything and because 'this' is not identified as anything or within reference to something else I say that it would be hard pressed to. Now if 'this' is referring to you typing that sentence out then I would say thru some forensic science methods it may be able to, but that's just conjecture; well except for the science does not prove anything.

jonathan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JLA said...

"If he admits mind, he in effect admits Mind. And that brings us to the mind-of-you-know-Who."
No, he doesn't. That's what i was saying before - if there is a rock and another rock, the concept of "two" becomes obvious. It doesn't have to be in God's mind before it is in ours. Everyone will look at the rocks and agree that there are two, if they have a common language in which to do so. Why do you think God is necessary for this?

RkBall said...

JLA: Wasn't thinking of "two", or "twoness" even. Was thinking of things like good, evil, honor, which Kharn insists preexisted humans and the universe, pre-existing as abstracts not existing in the material realm.

RkBall said...

" Being reborn cannot scientifically be falsified as the supernatural cannot be tested, so being reborn is out of the realm of science."

Indeed, but not, arguably, outside the realm of reality. And certainly not outside of the realm of reported experience.

Science is a great tool, but I wouldn't want to use it to determine if and "how much" my wife loved me. Nor would I want it to determine my views on the meaning of life, the value of human persons, you know -- all the really important things that make us human beings.

RkBall said...

Thanks, everybody. We should probably let this thing go now.

Human Ape said...

"* willful unwillingness to consider the theist view, or"

Translation:

willful unwillingness to consider the MAGIC view.

Right. I say magic isn't real. Period.

There's no magic in the real world, unless you think the Harry Potter movies are documentaries.

Growing up can be very rewarding. You should try it some time.

Human Ape said...

RkBall said... "Human Ape: do you consider yourself an animal like other animals, or are humans in someway unique?"

We are animals. Period. We have our advantages (larger brain but no larger than a dolphin's) and other creatures have their advantages. We are not a big deal. We are just one species out of millions. We are just as much a part of nature as every other living thing.

However, there is one thing that's unique about us. If our species went extinct, it would be the best thing that ever happened to this planet. We are the only species that goes out of its way to destroy the environment and wipe out entire species.

Alex said...

"If our species went extinct, it would be the best thing that ever happened to this planet."

There you have it. The pillar of the green religion rears its ugly head.

I beleive in science and evolution and I'm skeptical of God (not dismissive).

I believe this Human Ape person is infected with progressive ideology. He decalres himself an enemy of the species. He is an enemy to us all.

RkBall said...

"We are animals. Period."

I eat animals. Would there be any problem, in principle of me eating you?

RkBall said...

"If our species went extinct, it would be the best thing that ever happened to this planet."

So, it would be better for me to kill and eat you and let a cow live?

RkBall said...

Hi Alex.

Human Ape is a poster child for radical atheism. The problem with atheism is, how do you get real, authentic human value/worth, and values, from a purely materialistic, unplanned, undesigned, unwanted brain-dead universe?

Only God's existence can confer authentic value and meaning to human existence. It was this existential crisis that lead me to hypothesize God's existence, and then begin my search to find Him.

RkBall said...

Alex -- you have good things to say. Please stick around and comment when you see fit to do so.

Karen Lee said...

Hey RkBall,

I came upon your blog through a connection from Mark Steyn's site, then I saw this post in the sidebar and was curious and came to check it out. I realize this discuss is really old now, but I hope you are still being brave enough to stand for what you believe! I confess I tried to follow the conversation for awhile, but it was just TOO lengthy, so I only got a part of it.

Regardless, I wanted to commend you on your open dialogue. I know that most of the atheist commentators were also respectful, but what impressed me is that you were (as far as I could see) the ONLY believer in a crowd of atheists and some of them were kinds "mock-y" and I know that can rankle the pride. You didn't seem to let that get to you, even though you were out numbered.

I too am a creationist. I know I am no genius, to be sure, but I have found LOTS of good reasons to be highly skeptical of evolution outside of my belief in the Bible. Have you ever been on Creation Ministries International's website? It's got some great stuff there, good scientific critique about chemical evolution, genetic degradation of the human genome, etc. If you've never checked it out, you might like it.

I think that Alex might have found some good thinking offered over there. Alex, wherever you all, may God work to bring you the answers you need.

Anyway, just wanted to encourage you, RkBall, to keep trusting God, remember, he resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

God bless you richly!
Karen Smith

BallBounces said...

Thank you Karen, for that good word. We all need to be encouraged from time to time.

I haven't looked at the website you mentioned for some time; I'll take a fresh look.

Two of the sites I monitor are:

http://www.evolutionnews.org

http://darwins-god.blogspot.com

If you use the search tool associated with my blog, you'll find lots of apologetical posts on various subjects and topics.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"