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Don’t Give Up The Faith!

Given enough time, inanimate matter — through the laws of chemistry and physics, and with enough random trials, filtered by natural selection which throws out stuff that doesn’t work — will self-organize into highly sophisticated information-processing machinery that produces the human mind.

How could this ultimate truth not be obvious, except to those who have been indoctrinated with silly anti-scientific beliefs, like that there might be “design” in this whole process? How could anyone with an IQ above room temperature deny such an obvious truth?

Science has proven it. The debate is over. The mechanism described above can explain everything. All real scientists accept it.

All you ID guys should get a life and admit that your lives have no ultimate meaning or purpose, because everything is all meaningless and purposeless. It’s all chemistry, physics, and chance.

Crap! I just figured something out. If my life has no ultimate meaning or purpose, how am I supposed to get a life?

I’ll have to ruminate on that one.

Trust me. I’ll get back to you with an answer later. In the meantime, don’t give up the faith!

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87 Responses to Don’t Give Up The Faith!

  1. The situation in the former Soviet Union is interesting. For 70 years the communist party ruled before their collapse. They tried to wipe out religon with techniques that bordered on brainwashing. They enforced the teaching of scientific atheism and evolution in all education systems. Some religion was tolerated but “believers” were denied promotions, ridiculed, and sometimes persecuted. After about three generations of this indoctrination, the Soviet Union collapsed and religious freedom increased. I looked up two surveys and the current percentage of self-proclaimed non-believers now stands at 16 or 18.9 percent (depending on which survey you accept).

    Alan’s Postulate: When exposed to information, people tend to believe what is most logical.

  2. There was a time when most people believed the Sun went around the Earth because it was the most logical explanation. That was what it was clearly observed to do. But all those people believing it did not make or right then or now.

  3. That’s right Seversky. They were not privy to the facts. And that can be seen with the emergence of facts today.

    We are starting to see how wrong Darwin’s theory was. And just like the day’s of old, we will look back and say gee, did people really believe we emerged from a warm goo billions of years ago?

    And ALL life came from one single simple organism?

  4. The purpose of the post was to lay bare the claims of Darwinists, as taught to our children in public education, although it is never done in such honest or forthright terms, as I did in the first paragraph. When presented thus, it is clear that these claims require an extraordinary amount of blind faith.

    But here’s the worst part:

    Science has proven it. The debate is over. The mechanism described above can explain everything. All real scientists accept it.

    Students are expected not to question or challenge, but just swallow it all on claims of authority and consensus.

    In addition, the inescapable metaphysical implications concerning meaning and purpose are never revealed or discussed, although they are quite obvious. The reason these implications are never discussed is also quite obvious: to do so would reveal the agenda underlying the theory.

  5. All you ID guys should get a life and admit that your lives have no ultimate meaning or purpose, because everything is all meaningless and purposeless. It’s all chemistry, physics, and chance.

    Crap! I just figured something out. If my life has no ultimate meaning or purpose, how am I supposed to get a life?

    I’ll have to ruminate on that one.

    Yes, but given the unwillingness of ID to say anything about the nature of the designer, ID won’t tell you anything about your purpose or meaning either. Surely, merely adhering to ID gives you as much guidance as adhering to materialism does, does it not?

  6. To Seversky,
    It’s not a question of whether it is right. As scientists, all our beliefs are conditional, always open to new information and adjustments to our theories. We tend to make logical conclusions with the information we have available to us. They believed the sun rotated around the earth because it is what made sense to them with the information they had. I believe that there is some kind of creator involved because the probability of all this (waving my hand through the air) happening by chance is so miniscule, it is more logical to believe in a creator.

  7. —-Hoki: “Yes, but given the unwillingness of ID to say anything about the nature of the designer, ID won’t tell you anything about your purpose or meaning either. Surely, merely adhering to ID gives you as much guidance as adhering to materialism does, does it not?”

    ID does not rule out meaning, morality, and purpose; materialism does.

    ID is consistent with a purposeful, mindful God, even if it cannot identify God’s identity; materialism rules out a purposeful, mindful God.

    ID proposes design in nature, which is consistent with the objetive moral law; materialism denies design in nature and disavows any possibility of an objective moral law.

  8. Hoki [4]
    ID does not identify a designer because the designer label is not on the design. This does nothing to invalidate the self-evident design of say, a bacterial flagellum. ID just shows that materialistic naturalism is ruled out as a theory of origins, not purpose and meaning. I would say au contraire, it gives exponential purpose and meaning to life. Loving the truth and searching for it wherever it leads, whatever the conclusion, should guide us all.

  9. alaninnont @ 5

    …I believe that there is some kind of creator involved because the probability of all this (waving my hand through the air) happening by chance is so miniscule, it is more logical to believe in a creator.

    I find the concept of a creator such as the Christian God at least as improbable as the proposition that it all appeared out of nothing or it has existed for all eternity, but there is really nothing better on offer so I would not deny believers the comfort of their beliefs. Unfortunately, I can no longer be one of them because it is impossible to ignore all the evidence that is inconsistent with such a being, although it does depend on how you define it.

    The Intelligent Design movement is really of little help here because they are not concerned with the nature of any designer. It seems perfectly respectable to investigate the proposal that all design, whatever its origin, has common and distinguishing properties which can be observed and measured but that tells us nothing about the origins of any designer or of life or of the Universe itself.

    I find myself in a similar position to Paul Davies in that I find equally unsatisfactory the concept of a creator God or that we must accept the existence of the Universe as a “brute fact” which is susceptible of no further explanation. The suspicion is that there is something deeply mysterious – something we have yet to even conceptualize – underlying it all but I have absolutely no idea what that might be.

  10. StephenB @ 6

    …ID proposes design in nature, which is consistent with the objetive moral law; materialism denies design in nature and disavows any possibility of an objective moral law.

    Materialism cannot be said to deny the existence of design in nature if it admits of beings such as ourselves who are capable of design.

    As for moral laws it is hard to see how they can be objective an any sense other than that they are proposed by beings such as ourselves who have an objective existence. They seem to have no existence apart from ourselves. They do not seem, for example, to be woven into the fabric of space and time in the way that the laws of gravity or electromagnetism are.

    Materialism does not mean that we cannot decide moral codes for ourselves. After all, Christians believe that God is a rational rather than a capricious being. He does things for good reasons rather that just – dare I say it – for the hell of it. We can assume, therefore, that the moral prescriptions of the Bible are rational – they are the product of reason. That being the case, whether created by God or not, we are also beings capable of reason so what is to prevent us from working out moral laws for ourselves?

  11. —- “Materialism cannot be said to deny the existence of design in nature if it admits of beings such as ourselves who are capable of design.”
    According to materialist Darwinists, design is an “illusion.”

    ——”As for moral laws it is hard to see how they can be objective an any sense other than that they are proposed by beings such as ourselves who have an objective existence. They seem to have no existence apart from ourselves. They do not seem, for example, to be woven into the fabric of space and time in the way that the laws of gravity or electromagnetism are.”

    Natural law is comprised of those precepts that govern the behavior of beings possessing reason and free will. The first of those is that human beings ought to do that which is good and avoid that which is evil, a standard that is not appropriate for animals, which have no free will. Darwinists, of course, do not acknowledge the substantial difference between humans and animals, and, cannot therefore, affirm any kind of human morality.

    The natural moral law has an objective and a subjective component. The “objective” component is written in nature in the sense that it exists outside the minds and wills of humans; its “subjective” component exists as “conscience,” that faculty which apprehends the objective moral law. Because human beings are capable of distinguishing objective right from wrong, they can claim the moral right to freedom. Through this principle, they can dispense with the directives of kings and tyrants and govern themselves according to the natural moral law.

    —–“Materialism does not mean that we cannot decide moral codes for ourselves. After all, Christians believe that God is a rational rather than a capricious being. He does things for good reasons rather that just – dare I say it – for the hell of it. We can assume, therefore, that the moral prescriptions of the Bible are rational – they are the product of reason. That being the case, whether created by God or not, we are also beings capable of reason so what is to prevent us from working out moral laws for ourselves?”

    Notice, though, that the moral prescriptions of the Bible are “discovered” by reason not “created” by reason. Only the creator can prescribe moral prescriptions for the creature because only the creator knows their true nature. We cannot design that which is inherent in our nature. We can only conform to it or subvert it. To decide it for ourselves is to subvert it.

  12. —- “Materialism cannot be said to deny the existence of design in nature if it admits of beings such as ourselves who are capable of design.”

    According to materialist Darwinists, design is an “illusion.”

  13. StephenB:

    —- “Materialism cannot be said to deny the existence of design in nature if it admits of beings such as ourselves who are capable of design.”

    According to materialist Darwinists, design is an “illusion.”

    Quote, please.

    If you’re talking about Dawkins, he contrasts “the illusion of design” with “true design”. He puts man-made objects like planes and computers in the latter category, just as Seversky does.

  14. —–Rob: “If you’re talking about Dawkins, he contrasts “the illusion of design” with “true design”. He puts man-made objects like planes and computers in the latter category, just as Seversky does.”

    Like many materialists, Dawkins position is incoherent. On the one hand, he insists that our genes rule us (no free will); on the other hand, he says that we can rebel against them (free will). He writes, “I am very comfortable with the idea that we can override biology with free will.” So, it sounds as if he is allowing for the kind of free will that permits design.

    But as Philip Johnson writes, “Who is the “we” that is supposed to do the rebelling.. Dawkins does not believe that there is a single, central self which utilizes the machinery of the brain for its own purposes. The central self that makes choices and then acts upon them is a creationist notion, which reductionists ridicule as the “ghost in the machine.” Selfish genes would produce not a free-acting self, but rather a set of mental reactions that compete with each other in the brain before a winner emerges to produce a bodily reaction that serves the overall interests of the genes”

    So, for Dawkins, everything is a result of un-designed natural forces, which means, of course, that everything is determined, which means there is no free will and no real capacity to design anything differently that what nature’s laws of cause and effect are bound to produce. All materialists disavow free will, but some materialists are more up front about it than others.

  15. I find the concept of a creator such as the Christian God at least as improbable as the proposition that it all appeared out of nothing or it has existed for all eternity,

    1. The universe could not have existed forever or heat and energy would be evenly spread throughtout the universe (second law of thermodynamics) therefore it was created.
    2. Matter in the universe expanded at precisely (Stephen Hawkings says a thousand million million parts slower and it would have collapsed, faster and matter couldn’t have formed stars) for the conditions for life to exist.
    3. Water was needed for life to begin. There are no plausible theories for how 326 000 000 000 000 000 000 gallons (16 500 tons of water every minute for 150 million years) got to earth.
    4. The minimum requirements for the first cell according to the information we have now are 30 000 base pairs all in the right order, at least 12 specific different proteins with the amino acids all in the right order, ATP or some other energy source, and a semipermeable cell membrane. There are no plausible models on how the first cell was formed.
    5. After a few billion years of unicellular life suddenly a fairly complex comb jelly appeared as the first animal.
    6. The Cambrian Explosion
    7. “In any system, open or closed all things tend toward entropy” and yet atheistic evolution claims that life tended toward higher organization not once but millions of times.
    8. The eye which according to Dawkins evolved separately 40 to 65+ times.
    9. The absence of mutations that increase complexity. Natural selection does not increase complexity, just selects out or for certain traits.
    10. Studies on resuscitated individuals who all seem to go through the things upon death.
    11. DNA segments that appear in different species of plants and animals that do not appear in their common ancestor.
    12. Other

    To me it is more logical that an intelligent being was involved in evolution than it happened by chance. Everywhere we see organization, we immediately conclude that an intelligence designed and created it. Why would it be any different with the universe. I am still trying to figure out what exactly the creator is but the probability that there is one far outweighs the alternative.

  16. The assertion that there are no moral absolutes and no human free will is easily refuted by a simple example. A thoroughgoing moral relativist who does not believe humans have free will would never object to someone cutting in line at the grocery store.

    Yet, they do object.

    Why? Because it’s not “right”?

    Materialist philosophy is basically incoherent and self-contradictory at every level. No materialist can live with the logically inevitable consequences of his philosophy. He claims that there is no free will, claims moral relativism, but then objects when he is done “wrong” and wants “justice.”

    This is a philosophical universe completely disconnected from reality, and such a disconnected mind cannot see the actual reality that is screaming at him from every direction.

    And this includes that living systems were designed by a super-intelligence. If the debate is over, it is that the Darwinian mechanism of chance and necessity is an artifact of a pre-scientific age (in modern terms), that was poisoned by the 19th century death-of-god movement, that basically made it impossible for the intellectual elite to examine the evidence impartially, but instead, forced them to cram the evidence into a hopelessly illogical, mathematically absurd, evidentially unsupported paradigm that is collapsing at a catastrophically accelerating rate in the 21st century.

  17. StephenB [8] and absolutist [7]:

    ID is consistent with a purposeful, mindful God, even if it cannot identify God’s identity; materialism rules out a purposeful, mindful God.

    ID is also consistent with your purpose being to have your body fats extracted, turned into soap and sold in swanky department stores on the planet from where the aliens that created us came.

    According to ID, your (and anything else’s) purpose could have expired a long time ago. I.e. you have no “ultimate” purpose.

    ID is compatible with every conceivable (and inconceivable) “ultimate” purpose.

    So, an IDist is, just like a materialist, left to figure out their own purposes (or, perhaps, have them thrust upon themselves from someone/something else). But don’t despair, plenty of people find meaning and purpose in mundane tasks such as gardening. They would consider themselves to have lives, even if these have no “ultimate” purpose.

  18. The assertion that there are no moral absolutes and no human free will is easily refuted by a simple example. A thoroughgoing moral relativist who does not believe humans have free will would never object to someone cutting in line at the grocery store.

    Yet, they do object.

    Perhaps they lack the free will to do anything else?

  19. Hoki, you are right that ID itself does not answer questions of meaning and purpose, just as is true of any part of science. I wouldn’t expect ID or any other scientific undertaking to fulfill that role.

    What ID does avoid is the need for a blind faith that mindless matter is able to perform actions that in the history of mankind have never been observed to be originated by mindless material processes and have always and only been originated by intelligent agents. ID opens the options for explanation to allow consideration of intelligent agency as a legitimate source for effects that are beyond the reasonable reach of law plus chance.

    Unfortunately for materialism, it seems that materialism requires that one doesn’t “give up the faith” regarding the unobserved, supposed abilities of mindless matter, despite any and all evidence to the contrary.

    In other words, the ID advocate has many options to consider (including the role of unguided law+chance where that is supported), while the materialist is ideologically obligated in advance of the evidence.

  20. Hoki at #17,
    “ID is also consistent with your purpose being to have your body fats extracted, turned into soap and sold in swanky department stores on the planet from where the aliens that created us came.”

    To which I somewhat curtly respond:

    Hoki, your statement re: alien soap
    Invoked panspermia, a too-common trope.
    But Mork’s alien corpus
    Evolved too, without purpose.
    You’re back to square-one but a bit of a dope.

    Now, don’t blame me in vituperative stupor.
    It’s entirely possible that I’ve made a blooper.
    Without too much college-ing,
    I find I’m acknowledging
    That now science suggests some of nature is “super”.

  21. Hok: “So, an IDist is, just like a materialist, left to figure out their own purposes (or, perhaps, have them thrust upon themselves from someone/something else).”

    Not exactly. The materialist has rendered a judgment that there is no objective meaning or purpose to search for. The ID advocate acknowledges the possibility that meaning and purpose are real and, therefore, may be worth pursuing. Design suggests purpose.

  22. StephenB @ 11

    Natural law is comprised of those precepts that govern the behavior of beings possessing reason and free will. The first of those is that human beings ought to do that which is good and avoid that which is evil, a standard that is not appropriate for animals, which have no free will. Darwinists, of course, do not acknowledge the substantial difference between humans and animals, and, cannot therefore, affirm any kind of human morality.

    Outside of human society where is there anything to suggest that “The first of those is that human beings ought to do that which is good and avoid that which is evil…”? What is meant by “good” and “evil”? These are not physical properties like color or temperature. The most we can say, as of now, is that they are concepts in the minds of human beings.

    As what you would call a materialist, I have absolutely no problem with being as much an animal as my cats. That does not mean I am exactly the same as them. There are significant differences, like they have a fur coat and better night vision and I can use a computer and use my opposable thumbs to operate a can-opener.

    As for morality, I asked before – without getting a satisfactory answer – what is to prevent us from working out our own moral codes?

    The natural moral law has an objective and a subjective component. The “objective” component is written in nature in the sense that it exists outside the minds and wills of humans;

    Clearly you and a lot of other people believe that but you have not offered any good reasons for thinking that morality has any existence outside of human thought.

    Notice, though, that the moral prescriptions of the Bible are “discovered” by reason not “created” by reason. Only the creator can prescribe moral prescriptions for the creature because only the creator knows their true nature. We cannot design that which is inherent in our nature. We can only conform to it or subvert it. To decide it for ourselves is to subvert it.

    If we arrive at an agreed moral code through a process of reasoning does it really make any difference to say that it was “discovered” rather than “created”? The important point is that we are able to work it out for ourselves, we are not children dependent on some authority figure to tell us right from wrong.

  23. Hoki

    ID is compatible with every conceivable (and inconceivable) “ultimate” purpose.

    If you’re talking about the entity (or entities) that designed life, then you are indeed right. If you’re talking about a Cosmic Designer, then I beg to differ. I argue below that only a Deity whose nature is to know and love perfectly could serve as a guarantee that the cosmos will continue to exist from one moment to the next, and that the laws of nature will continue to hold in a way that lets scientists go about their work. Such a Deity is not a science-stopper, but a science-enabler.

    Seversky

    [W]hether created by God or not, we are also beings capable of reason so what is to prevent us from working out moral laws for ourselves?

    Up to a point, we can. The problem is that sooner or later, moral reasoning gets bogged down in highly speculative, metaphysical questions. Case in point: suppose you decide to ground your ethics in a nice, simple intuitive principle: the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”), which is found in nearly all societies. Here’s the problem: who counts as “others”? Newborn babies, which are sentient but lack a concept of self? Fetuses? Embryos? Chimps? Lizards? Fish? Computers of the future whose processing capacity exceeds that of a human brain? Computers (should they ever be built) that can pass the Turing Test? Terminator robots? Alien life-forms? In order to decide what counts and what doesn’t, you need to import some metaphysical assumptions.

    However, if evolutionary materialism is true, then it is highly unlikely that human reasoning can be relied on when addressing such abstruse questions, as it evolved in order to deal with practical tasks. At best, our capacity to reason about speculative metaphysical questions is a mere by-product, or a “spandrel” (to borrow a phrase from the late S. J. Gould). And the fact that people’s metaphysical intuitions often clash profoundly is yet further reason to be mistrustful of reason’s capacity to resolve controverted moral issues, IF one happens to also believe that the human mind evolved from inanimate matter via undirected processes.

    I’m not saying that atheists can’t reason morally. Obviously they can. My point is that their own metaphysical account of human reasoning, and where it came from, tends to undermine their confidence in their own moral reasoning, as well as limit it to “conventional,” familiar cases which arouse little controversy (Don’t poke other people in the eye; don’t steal people’s wallets.) A common-sense ethical principle such as the Golden Rule is insufficient by itself to address the ever-multiplying moral dilemmas which confront us, in today’s ever-changing world.

    To escape these shackles on our reasoning, we need two things: a metaphysical outlook which gives us confidence that human reasoning is indeed competent to address any problem that we may have to confront; and a set of metaphysical “givens” that are indispensable for resolving disputed ethical questions.

    Someone who regards the human capacity to reason speculatively as being God-given can rest assured that speculative human reasoning is indeed something we can rely on, PROVIDED that God is someone we can rely on.

    Atheists tend to pounce here, and say: “Aha! And what makes you think that the Supreme Being is someone you can trust? Why couldn’t it be nasty, or mischievous, or just plain absurd, like the Flying Spaghetti Monster?” My answer is that “Supreme Being” is the wrong way to define God. A Supreme Being could be anything; we need a non-arbitrary definition of a Deity. The FSM is a joke, because its attributes are ad hoc. The same goes for a Cosmic Imp, or a Cosmic Troll.

    Here’s a short definition of God which I’d like to put forward: God is a fully integrated being, whose nature it is to know and love perfectly. (By “fully integrated” I mean a being that is by nature incapable of being broken up into parts; such a being is essentially indestructible.) I picked the verbs “know” and “love” as defining attributes of God because they are non-modal verbs, with no built-in limitations, and can therefore be considered totally non-arbitrary attributes. (For instance, I may have many different modes of knowing and loving; but the verbs “know” and “love” do not specify these modes, and they can be properly applied to any of them. Of course, God’s modes of knowing and loving are utterly different from mine, but that is irrelevant here, as the verbs “know” and “love” are meant to describe what God does, rather than how God does it.) By contrast, if I had defined God as a being who kicks or makes spaghetti perfectly, that would have been ad hoc: the verb “kick” can only be ascribed to beings with legs, while making spaghetti is a restricted power – why not cheesecake too? Knowing and loving are attributes which do not limit their possessor. Moreover, they are truly universal in scope: the act of knowing can be directed at any truth, and the act of loving can be directed at anything good. Finally, the two go hand-in-hand, insofar as a being’s capacity to love depends on what it is capable of knowing or understanding, and a being’s capacity to know determines its capacity to love. (A creature lacking a “theory of mind,” for instance, could never love other minds as such; but a creature possessing a “theory of mind” is thereby capable of empathy.)

    There are other non-modal verbs in English, such as “be,” “act” and “have”, which are free of built-in limitations, but which I avoided in my foregoing definition of God. Why not these verbs? Because they are utterly devoid of content: hence, they can’t tell us anything about the nature of God. If I had defined God as a being whose nature it is to exist perfectly, or even a being whose nature it is to act perfectly, you’d be none the wiser as to what God is, or what God does. (I’m no fan of philosophical attempts to define God as “Pure Existence” or “Pure Act”; mystics might appreciate them, but to me, they’re vacuous.) By contrast, the verbs “know” and “love” aren’t non-descript like “be” and “have”; they have genuine content. Knowledge is always directed at some truth; while love is always directed at some good.

    Finally, I didn’t define God as the First Cause, because this is not an essential attribute of God: it tells us nothing about God’s nature. Causation is a contingent attribute of God. All it tells us is that God freely chose to create the world, and that everything which is not God depends for its existence on God.

    Now we can address the question: can we trust our speculative reasoning? If the God I have described exists, then we certainly can. For if it is God’s nature to know and love perfectly, then it follows that God would want to be known and loved by any creatures (such as ourselves) which are naturally capable of doing so, and it also follows that God would endow such creatures with a capacity for reasoning whose scope is maximally generous – by which I mean that its scope encompasses any problem which human beings may need to solve. Morality is something we have to get right; but it is built on a foundation of metaphysics. A God who wants us to love the right “others,” in the right way, must have given us the metaphysical wherewithal to figure out who these others are. Thus IF God exists, metaphysical reasoning is reliable.

    IF God exists…? All I will say is that if God doesn’t exist, then scientists have no right to expect the laws (or regularities) of nature to continue holding, as they have done in the past. The number of ways in which these laws can go wrong is infinitely greater than the number of ways in which they can go right. (Use your imagination!) However, science is built on the assumption that we can do experiments, and replicate research findings. That requires laws to keep working. But why should they? That’s an act of faith. The only thing that could guarantee that the universe will continue to be a science-friendly place is a science-friendly Deity: that is, a Deity who is incapable of frustrating the human quest to know, because its all-knowing, all-loving nature prevents it from doing so.

    “But what stops this God of yours from falling over?” I hear you say. Answer: a God who is by nature complete and self-sufficient cannot fall over, or cease to be. “Well then, couldn’t we say that the cosmos is self-sufficient, and leave it at that?” No. For the laws which apply throughout the cosmos, and can therefore be said to characterise the cosmos, are limiting, arbitrary and totally ad hoc. They could have been otherwise. God, by contrast, is defined in terms of non-arbitrary attributes: knowledge and love. There’s nothing limiting about either of those attributes.

    You write:

    I find myself in a similar position to Paul Davies in that I find equally unsatisfactory the concept of a creator God or that we must accept the existence of the Universe as a “brute fact” which is susceptible of no further explanation.

    If I understand you aright, your question here seems to be: “How could a necessary Deity serve as an explanation of something as contingent as this cosmos?” That’s the question you raise in your post, and which physicist Paul Davies has repeatedly asked in his books. Brief response: if God is the kind of Being whose nature it is to know and love perfectly, then there are constraints on the kind of cosmos God can create. My guess is that God chose the physical constants and initial conditions that characterise our cosmos, not because they are the best, but because they are the most robust: thanks to them, the earth and the heavens are built to withstand whatever mischief intelligent beings with free will can wreak, with a minimum of damage in the worst possible cases.

    Another set of constants or initial conditions might well give rise to a nicer universe – perhaps one with less pain! – but it would be a more fragile one, too. For instance, it might be one where intelligent life-forms could, if they wished, blow their entire planet to smithereens (which is something that we can’t do in our universe, because there isn’t enough uranium, thankfully).

    So that’s my working hypothesis. If anyone has a better one, I’m all ears.

    The foregoing discussion is predicated on one huge metaphysical assumption: that things have a NATURE. That might sound un-Darwinian, but as I have argued elsewhere, it doesn’t have to be. Organisms change very slowly over time, and at any given point in time, they can still be said to have a set of features which characterise them. An evolutionist can continue to maintain that organisms have their own distinctive natures, provided that these natures are understood as being slightly fuzzy (no precise set of defining features), non-transitive over time (if organism A at t0 has the same nature as organism B at t1, and B has the same nature as organism C at t2, then we cannot assume that A and C have the same nature, as they may be different chronospecies), and in some cases non-transitive over space as well (to account for ring species). In short: a believer in gradual change can still believe in natures; a Goldschmidtian, who believes in hopeful monsters, cannot.

    In order to resolve ethical boundary disputes and decide who counts as “morally significant,” we need to investigate the nature of the beings we are talking about. Does an embryo have the same nature as a baby, or a full-grown adult? If the answer is yes, then it has the same human rights. What about a robot? Obviously, we need to ascertain whether it even has a nature at all. Is it merely an assemblage of parts? How does the esential unity of an organism differ from the design of a robot? These are not easy questions to answer, but at least recognising that entities possess natures allows us to ask the right questions in the first place.

    Finally: could the universal God I have described above be the same as the God of any particular religion? Possibly. However, any “extra attributes” which a particular religion imputed to this universal God would have to be consistent with its nature, as a being which knows and loves perfectly. These attributes would also have to be either essential attributes which flowed automatically from the God’s nature as someone who knows and loves perfectly, or contingent attributes which reflected choices made by this God while interacting with the cosmos and the creatures that people it.

    Case in point: many Trinitarian Christians believe that God’s being triune is a necessary consequence of God’s knowing and loving himself perfectly. If they are right, then God’s being triune is an essential attribute of God, but it adds nothing “extra” to the definition of God – it merely clarifies it.(St. Augustine of Hippo argued along these lines.) On the other hand, the Incarnation (God’s becoming man), and God’s calling the Jews, are regarded by Christians as free choices on God’s part, and hence as contingent attributes of God.

    The sticking point for most skeptics when it comes to revealed religion is the apparent severity of the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, who seems harsh and unjust. (Reading the book of Deuteronomy was what undid that prejudice for me, but that’s another story.) My advice to these skeptics is: if the God of revealed religion is a bridge too far for you, then stick with the God who knows and loves perfectly. Such a Deity is worthy of worship.

    The only remaining argument open to a skeptic is that the definition of God which I have proposed above is meaningless and hence “not even wrong.” For my part, I have yet to meet a persuasive argument to this effect; asserting that there is such a Being makes perfect sense to me, as I think it does to a lot of people. In any case, I think we can all agree that the concept of God is either true or meaningless. So the question I would ask a skeptic is: what’s not to like about the concept of God?

    (I have obviously drawn upon the work of many philosophical and religious thinkers in writing this post, and I make no claims to originality. Any errors are entirely my own.)

  24. GilDodgen @ 16

    The assertion that there are no moral absolutes and no human free will is easily refuted by a simple example. A thoroughgoing moral relativist who does not believe humans have free will would never object to someone cutting in line at the grocery store.

    Yet, they do object.

    Why? Because it’s not “right”?

    Having been to Italy, I can assure you that, while the concept of standing in line is not foreign to the Italians, it is ignored more often than it is observed.

    The fact that most if not all human societies have concepts of good and evil does not mean that they are in exact agreement on what is meant by the words or that they are some kind of “absolute”. One society believes that it is a good thing to amputate the hands of thieves, for example, while others believe that is wrong.

    What appears to be the case is that all humans have certain needs in common such as food, water, shelter and a secure environment in which they can live and raise a family. At a pragmatic level, moral codes function to regulate the behavior of people towards each other in society so that those needs can be better met.

    Materialist philosophy is basically incoherent and self-contradictory at every level. No materialist can live with the logically inevitable consequences of his philosophy. He claims that there is no free will, claims moral relativism, but then objects when he is done “wrong” and wants “justice.”

    If you look at it closely, there are serious philosophical questions about the concept of free will. And while there is no reason outside of religious dogma to think there is some kind of absolute, universal morality, as mentioned above, we do have basic interests in common as living creatures around which we can construct moral codes. It’s not as easy as having someone else tell us what to do but it’s not impossible.

  25. How can one have a moral code without free will? Doesn’t a moral code imply one has a choice? I shouldn’t say this because it might start the debate all over again because certain people do not have the free will to stop.

  26. StephenB:

    The materialist has rendered a judgment that there is no objective meaning or purpose to search for. The ID advocate acknowledges the possibility that meaning and purpose are real and, therefore, may be worth pursuing. Design suggests purpose.

    ID gives you no objective meaning or purpose either. Sure, ID says that there MAY be an ultimate purpose, but so what? You’re still left in the dark trying to find it. You are infinitely more likely to pursue the wrong purpose rather than the intended one in the event that there actually is one.

    What if you DID know the purpose but didn’t like it?

  27. To tim [20]:

    I seem to sometimes have trouble understanding the meaning of creative writing, such as yours. I’m not sure if you agree with me, disagree with me, made ad hominems or just felt like being poetic for it’s own sake. Can you clarify?

  28. —-Hoki: “ID gives you no objective meaning or purpose either. Sure, ID says that there MAY be an ultimate purpose, but so what? You’re still left in the dark trying to find it. You are infinitely more likely to pursue the wrong purpose rather than the intended one in the event that there actually is one.”

    It is not science’s job to give you meaning and purpose. Neither is it science’s job to lie and tell you, as materialitic/Darwinism does, that there is no such thing as meaning and purpose. This moral equivalency thing you have going here is not working. You are always better off with the truth than a lie. Darwinism is a lie.

  29. Hoki at 27:

    Yes, I can clarify. Sometimes, I find it somewhat boring to comment by making arguments. I just don’t find it interesting or as fun as limericks.

    “ID is also consistent with your purpose being to have your body fats extracted, turned into soap and sold in swanky department stores on the planet from where the aliens that created us came.”

    I disagree with the overall idea of what you are saying. Although technically it is possible that our purpose is to become soap for aliens, if we are talking about ultimate ends, then the question is merely shifted to “What kind of soap or other nastiness is the ultimate end for those aliens?” ID is NOT consistent with that idea because our ends, as physically embodied living things, are in some way parallel to that of the aliens who are also physically embodied, see, “Mork has a corpus.”

    As for the ad hominem. Well, yes, I sort of called you a dope, but only in a limerick and only in relation to passing the buck on the whole alien thing. If you don’t want to be a dope, then don’t assert panspermia as a way of explaining initial origins or ultimate ends.

    I find ID consonant with the idea of a supernature. Now, the details of that supernature — whether it be the Christian God or an impersonal life force, or frontloading of some other type, hey, let’s even toss in “the Force” — are not the purview of science, at least what I know about it which is admittedly not much. Two things, though:
    One, that does not mean that those ideas can not be weighed in on philosophically, and two, just because they may be parsed philosophically, that doesn’t mean that science is unable to make at least some contribution to the discussion, i.e. the inductive argument that such a supernature, if not fully understood, exists.

    There, now don’t you just wish I would stick to the doggerel of limerick verse? I do.

  30. Tim [29],

    I defy you to define “supernatural” in a way that is not identical to “intelligent” or “natural”.

    You must be able to define and distinguish your terms before you can go around applying them to things.

  31. May I cheat?

    Supernatural: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; esp: of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil; departing from what is normal esp. as to appear to transcend the laws of nature: attributed to an invisible agent.

    I got this from Webster’s Tenth. Quad, what is your point?

  32. It isn’t very gratifying to read the comments on this thread and realize that Western civilization is crumbling under the assault of anti-intellectualism. This site has sponsored discussions on similar topics in the past, so there are no real surprises. I have known for quite some time that moral illiterates abound, but I have only recently come to appreciate the extent to which so many of them are proud of their ignorance. What they don’t know does hurt them, and it also hurts everyone else. Morality is, after all, the bedrock of freedom.

    One of the first prerequisites for a well-ordered society is the need for citizens to recognize that the natural moral law provides the unity around which diversity can express itself. The founding fathers summed it up with the phrase, “out of many, one.” They understood that we could count on justice in the courts, in government, and in business, only if citizens understood and followed the natural moral law. Adams made the point very well. He said that our constitution was made for a moral people and would not work with any other kind of populace.

    Sadly, we are now witnessing the reciprocal effect: A large group of semi-educated partisans who don’t know right from wrong and care even less are putting their ignorance on parade and even trying to pass if off as sophistication. I have now entered into my third round of discussions with misguided materialists who labor under the misconception that citizens can simply rally around the public square and invent some kind of moral code appropriate to human nature, except of course that they do not believe in “human nature.” Predictably, they are quite comfortable suggesting that monkeys can live by the same moral code as men, and have obviously given no thought at all about what it could mean to build a legal/social structure on such a mindless principle. I have no way of knowing how many of these misguided souls are in positions of responsibility or how many of them are just dupes of the system.

    One thing I do know is that their numbers seem to be growing and they are destroying the culture with their studiously contrived nihilism. Unfortunately, they will not pay the penalty alone; they will be taking the rest of us down with them. I just finished a discussion with someone on another UD thread who is so immersed in moral relativism that he cannot provide a single rational reason why psychopaths should not torture babies. Even on this thread, the gullibility is astounding. Although the natural law has been obvious to all men in all times in all places, Darwinists claim that it cannot be discerned at all. One blogger, who claimed that objective morality cannot “be proven,” also accused me of being “rude,” thus appealing to the same standard of justice that he claims doesn’t exist. Most Darwinists react with the same schizophrenic instinct. The irony never reaches their consciousness because their ideology has made them slaves, and that is what they are—slaves.

    In effect they are trying to pass of hyper-skepticism as intellectual subtlety, but the two are not at all the same thing. Anyone can say, “I am not convinced,” and they can say it to their dying breath, but it doesn’t change the reality. It really is quite remarkable: On the one hand, they disavow the natural moral law, which all men at all times and all places have acknowledged as real. On the other hand, they affirm Darwinism, which no man at any time or in any way has shown to be the case. How does the human mind get so twisted that it can deny the obvious and assert the impossible? Perhaps it stems from a kind of narcissism that resists being held accountable to anyone for anything.

    Darwinists keep telling me that atheists can be just as moral as anyone else, and they bristle when anyone dares to question the point. Even so, I have to wonder. What must it be like to have a relationship with people who live by their feelings and make up their own morality as they go along? If they don’t believe in any such thing as truth, how can they be honest? If they disavow any notion of justice, how can they be fair? If they renounce natural law and natural rights, how can they be responsible citizens? Are they capable of delaying gratification for the sake of a higher good? More to the point, do they even recognize a higher good, or anything such as “good” period? By their own admission, they do not. How then, do they claim to be good and moral people while denying goodness and morality? I am still waiting for someone to solve that riddle.

    Last year, I had an experience on another forum (Ben Stein’s website) that illuminates the problem very nicely. After I had presented three of four rounds of arguments defending the reality of an immaterial mind as a compliment to an organic brain, my adversary began demanding of me certain clarifications on the theoretical boundaries of cognition and intellectual activity. Suddenly, and shockingly, I came to grasp the essence of the problem; he wasn’t asking for an ARGUMENT, he was demanding a DEFINITION. In fact, he had never heard of such a concept as “mind.” After twelve years in a government school and four years in a government sponsored university, no one had ever raised the issue. I wasn’t in a debate at all. I was in a remedial class with a backward student who believed he was the smartest man in the world. Most things can be repaired, but there is one quality that is impervious to remediation—triumphant stupidity.

    I don’t know how much of that is going on in these present interchanges, but I do know that many come here not knowing what they don’t know and not wanting to know any better. If I knew their ages, I could discern whether they are the perpetrators or the victims. One thing is for sure: They are destructive to the culture and the life of the mind. If I was a parent, I would hate to entrust my child’s education to these dead souls and dead consciences walking around in live bodies.

  33. Wow, StephenB at 32, you sum up exactly how I feel when I read so many “arguments” put forth by “the majority”. As I have mentioned before, I have a very limited scientific background. That doesn’t prevent me from easily seeing the folly, disturbing motives, and well, the bitterness in what so many write. Kinda makes me feel bad that I called Hoki a dope; incivility is insidious.

  34. [16]:
    “The assertion that there are no moral absolutes and no human free will is easily refuted by a simple example. A thoroughgoing moral relativist who does not believe humans have free will would never object to someone cutting in line at the grocery store.”

    All I know is that a wolf objects when another wolf cuts in line in front of him at the deer carcass. That was on Nature last night.

  35. What Would Jesus Do if someone cut in line at the grocery store:

    “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

  36. JT at 34,
    You must not have been watching very closely. I saw that show, and they did not line up. Furthermore, you should know, although you admit that you don’t, that the objection the wolf made was not a moral objection.
    JT at 35,
    I assume you mean if Jesus was in line; it is not easy to know exactly what Jesus would do, but I’d say it would be incredibly kind and incredibly graceful based on the needs of the “cutter”. Things might be different if the grocery in question was in the Temple, but then I doubt Jesus would have been in line in that case. In fact, when was Jesus ever in a line?

  37. Tim:

    I thought that was a great piece of writing you did in the Open Challenge thread

  38. But to spell out my meaning above, clearly wolves have a complex social structure and a strictly defined pecking order (not to mention chickens as well from which the turn orginated.) There would absolutely be a feeding heirarchy at a carcass and disputes would most definitely arise when pack members attempted to breach it. That’s my recollection (but not from the show of which I only watched a few minutes).

    The comment by Christ seems relevant, because he is continually remarking on the inevitability of the crucifixion long before it happens.

  39. Stephen #32,
    This argument is fine until somebody comes against a secular society and sees that this is quantitatively not true. There are many reasons to defend religion but strawman arguments about what atheists are like is very dangerous.

  40. 40

    mandy #39,

    Defending the other Stephen, I think you are making the common mistake of confusing ‘secular’ and ‘atheist’. A secular society merely refrains from sponsoring a particular religion at state level, but allows individuals to practice religions freely. Where such societies exist (and there aren’t all that many – apart from the US, it’s hard to think of examples besides perhaps South Korea and Singapore, and a handful – by no means all – of European countries), they usually have relatively high numbers of practising Christians and in many cases (except in Asia) a Christian ‘heritage’. Thus, the behaviours of the atheists in the society are restrained by cultural and social norms.

    Truly ‘atheist’ societies, such as North Korea today and most of communist Europe a generation ago (and in its most extreme form in Albania) are characterized by oppression, mistrust, endemic corruption and economic backwardness. This is what atheism logically leads to when there is no counterposing force, and to that extent StephenB’s comments were entirely justified.

  41. Stephen #40,
    Again a strawman argument. Cause and effect are being confused. This argument can be countered by saying that these are totalitarian regimes and these are features shared by all totalitarian regimes religious or not.

    Stephen is making two arguments:
    1. Morals are absolute
    2. Atheists do not have a moral basis.

    For 1. you need to explain why:
    1. Morals are not the same across all Christian persuasions.
    2. Morals have changed over time.

    For 2. You need to again compare like with like:
    America is the most religious developed democracy. Why does it have more crime, divorces, abortions etc than a country like Australia.
    Even within the society – who has the most divorces? Who is the most imprisoned?

  42. 42

    Mandy #41,

    I’m baffled.

    Last time I checked, morals were the same across all Christian persuasions as far as I know (except perhaps for the Catholics’ curious preoccupation with birth control), and I can’t think of any particular examples of Christian morals having changed over time – though it is certainly true that adherence among professing Christians to those standards has fluctuated.

    And as for crime rates in the US compared to Australia, you can pick and choose figures but the consensus seems to be that they’re about the same (see for example https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=79128, “Australia’s urban crime rate is on par with most large cities in the United States”).

    What point are you trying to make, exactly?

  43. The same morals. You have got to be kidding me. What are these standards. Is it moral for Phelp’s to picket soldier’s funerals? Other Christians welcome homosexuals into the congregations. Some Christians think that it is immoral for a wife to disagree with her husband. Unless you want to play the no true scotsman fallacy, Christian’s have a wide range of moral views.

    Not only that. Send any of us back 50 years and we would all look like soft lefties. Could you sit in a congregation where the Pastor says that Blacks can’t have equality because they don’t have souls and they cannot control their animal instincts. I don’t think that it would have been that uncommon back 50 years ago.

    As for crime. The number of crimes may be similar but:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....icide_rate

    The murder rate is much higher.

    My point is that using the morals argument against atheists is a weak argument and is based around a strawman.

  44. —–Mandy: My point is that using the morals argument against atheists is a weak argument and is based around a strawman.”

    Your point happens to be wrong. The Natural moral law is universal, objective, and binding.

    [A] If it isn’t binding, then it isn’t morality. It may be a norm, a fad, or a value, but it is not a moral code.

    [B] Atheists have no universal, objective, binding standard for morals. If you think that they do, you have the floor. Please provide that standard.

    [C] While you are at it, tell me how you build a well-ordered society around the one you provide.

  45. Where am I wrong?

    First step show that there is a “Natural Moral Law” and show it is universal. In my travels, I’ve seen that there is a wide variation in moral positions. [A] and [B] depend on this definition.Don’t get me wrong, I am being sympathetic here and trying to help, but I live in a small and very diverse community. Many of the people here are the people you are trying to convince and to ignore what somebody has said about the variability of morals and simple say that they are wrong and declaring there is a “universal moral code” wont wash with the masses.

  46. The Natural moral law is universal, objective, and binding.
    =======================
    What does the Natural moral law say concerning slavery?

  47. StephenB:

    I don’t think you adequately established that there is a “universal, objective and binding” moral code that applies to Christians.

    For that matter, are you arguing that only Christians are bound by this code? Do Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, Animists hew to the same code?

  48. StephenB [21]:

    It is not science’s job to give you meaning and purpose. Neither is it science’s job to lie and tell you, as materialitic/Darwinism does, that there is no such thing as meaning and purpose.

    Materialism does not such thing. As I’ve lready said, gardening can be a purpose. Materialism is even compatible with “higher” purposes such as the alien-soap thing.

    This moral equivalency thing you have going here is not working. You are always better off with the truth than a lie. Darwinism is a lie.

    I have no idea why you wrote this little thing as I haven’t been arguing anything about morality or Darwinism.

  49. I disagree with the overall idea of what you are saying. Although technically it is possible that our purpose is to become soap for aliens, if we are talking about ultimate ends, then the question is merely shifted to “What kind of soap or other nastiness is the ultimate end for those aliens?”

    Why would it be? ID rejects infinite regresses (or so I’ve read here on occasion). And even if it doesn’t, it in no way follows that whatever created “our” aliens had any intention of having them eventually creating us (unless you’re advocating determinism).

    As for the ad hominem. Well, yes, I sort of called you a dope, but only in a limerick and only in relation to passing the buck on the whole alien thing. If you don’t want to be a dope, then don’t assert panspermia as a way of explaining initial origins or ultimate ends.

    Well, so long as it was in a limerick, I suppose that it is OK. Morally encouraged, even.

    There, now don’t you just wish I would stick to the doggerel of limerick verse? I do.

    I have many wishes.

  50. —-Hoki: “Materialism does not such thing. As I’ve lready said, gardening can be a purpose. Materialism is even compatible with “higher” purposes such as the alien-soap thing.”

    Do you know the true philosophical definition of “materialism?” It holds that all things are composed of matter and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions; therefore, matter is the only substance. That means there are no immaterial things such as God, souls, minds, or for that matter, justice, goodness, or purpose. All is law and chance, and, as a result, there can be no free will. According to materialism, if you like gardening, it is because matter forced you to do it. Under the circumstances, there can be no purpose in your life because you don’t have the power to direct your behavior toward any end other than what matter and nature directs you to do. That is why it is such a destructive world view. It denies the inherent dignity of the human person and reduces everyone to animal status.

    —–“I have no idea why you wrote this little thing as I haven’t been arguing anything about morality or Darwinism.”

    You have been arguing that materialism, which is the metaphysical foundation for Darwinism, lends itself to purpose just as readily as does ID. In fact, it does not. As I pointed out earlier, materialism rules out all purpose in principle. ID hints at purpose. You have been suggesting that each is equally compatible with purpose. That simply is not the case.

  51. —-Hoki: “Why would it be? ID rejects infinite regresses (or so I’ve read here on occasion). And even if it doesn’t, it in no way follows that whatever created “our” aliens had any intention of having them eventually creating us (unless you’re advocating determinism).”

    You have introduced many technical terms in the paragraph and many of them do not seem to fit. ID doesn’t reject “infinite regress.” What does “determinism” have to do with what you are discussing? What does aliens have to do with anything? Try to stay with one idea.

  52. Could you sit in a congregation where the Pastor says that Blacks can’t have equality because they don’t have souls and they cannot control their animal instincts. I don’t think that it would have been that uncommon back 50 years ago.

    What?? Where are you getting this schlock, mandy? Northern Africa, as part of the Roman Empire, was Christian long before Islam swept through in the eighth century. St. Augustine, premier theologian of the West, was born in Africa and was probably black. Any pastor with seminary training has read Augustine and is likely to know that.

    It’s trolls with no training who are prone to spread crap like that. And that’s who is likely to believe it.

  53. —-mandy: “First step show that there is a “Natural Moral Law” and show it is universal. In my travels, I’ve seen that there is a wide variation in moral positions.”

    There is no variety. The natural moral law written in nature and on every human heart is exactly the same explicit code called the Ten Commandments. Religion is not needed to apprehend it; reason alone testifies to it. Only those who prefer to not live by it reject it. The variety comes into play when one tries to apply that universal binding code to everyday situations, which really does require prudence and wisdom.

    —-”I am being sympathetic here and trying to help, but I live in a small and very diverse community. Many of the people here are the people you are trying to convince and to ignore what somebody has said about the variability of morals and simple say that they are wrong and declaring there is a “universal moral code” wont wash with the masses.

    It washes with everyone except those who choose not to follow it.

    In any case, you are dodging my question and trying to deflect attention away from my question. You said that atheists had a code. I am still waiting for you to make it explcit. Please do that or else frankly acknowledge that the don’t have one. The main question still stands: How can atheits be good and moral if the don’t believe in goodness and morality?

  54. —-critter: “What does the Natural moral law say concerning slavery?”

    It says that it is wrong. Have you never heard of “the inherent dignity of the human person, one of the most important aspects of the natural moral law.

  55. —-Dartos: I don’t think you adequately established that there is a “universal, objective and binding” moral code that applies to Christians.

    It apples to everyone, not just Christians. Are you trying to tell me that you don’t know that its wrong to lie, cheat, steal, murder, slander, and commit adultery?

    For that matter, are you arguing that only Christians are bound by this code? Do Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, Animists hew to the same code?

    It the natural moral law is “natural,” then obviously it applies to everyone and everyone is morally obliged to follow it.

  56. —–”For that matter, are you arguing that only Christians are bound by this code? Do Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, Animists hew to the same code?”

    If the natural moral law is “natural,” then obviously it applies to everyone and everyone is morally obliged to follow it.

  57. StephenB,

    This discussion reminds me of CS Lewis’ discussion at the beginning of Mere Christianity. He remarks how whenever an argument occurs, both people think that they themselves are “right”, and that the other person should recognize the objective “rightness” of their position. Everybody does this (or else they wouldn’t bother arguing) and it presupposes an objective moral law.

    Even atheists and moral relativists still find time to condemn the “evil” of G-d, Christian Fundamentalists, Corporations, etc. They should ask how G-d or Corporations can be “evil” or “good” if morals are simply personal preferences or social constructions. Why should your preference overrule mine?

    We all know there are objective universal morals. Even if our mouths say we don’t believe, our actions expose us for what we deep down believe.

    Just try arguing that I’m wrong to believe so. :)

  58. And btw, I’m sure the others on this thread probably think it is wrong for you to try to impose your moral code on others (while at the same time imposing their moral code on your actions by defining them as wrong.)

    If your belief in a universal moral code isn’t always wrong (universally wrong), then at least sometimes it is right, which means that there does exist at least some universal moral code sometime. But a universal moral code that exists at least once is universal for all times by definition. Or else it isn’t a universal moral code.

    Furthermore, if your actions and beliefs aren’t objectively wrong, why are they arguing with you?

  59. StephenB @53,

    I am not avoiding the question. You are not listening to my answer. You say that the moral code is universal, that it is objective. You say that it is everywhere.
    So far you remind me of people talking about the Phlogiston theory. You require this universal moral law to support your own theory of God, but you have failed to show that it does exist.
    Until you do this, the rest of your argument does not make sense.

  60. Atom,

    Its nice to see you back

  61. #53

    The Baptists support for slavery in the US.

    http://facweb.furman.edu/~benson/docs/rcd-fmn1.htm

    Rev. Payne argued that Negroes weren’t descended from Adam and Eve.

    “… Adam and Eve being white, … they could never be the father or mother of the kinky-headed, low forehead, flat nose, thick lip and black-skinned negro…”

    I am not knocking religion and realised that some Christians led the way for the end of Slavery and segregation, but the majority of people a couple of centuries ago accepted that the negro was inferior, possibly not the children of Adam and Eve and used the Bible to tell them that this was true.

  62. StephenB:

    Do you know the true philosophical definition of “materialism?” It holds that all things are composed of matter and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions; therefore, matter is the only substance. That means there are no immaterial things such as God, souls, minds, or for that matter, justice, goodness, or purpose.

    Do you know? Seems not, since materialism only requires these things to have a physical basis. (I doubt, though, that any materialist has tried to include gods or souls).

  63. StephenB:

    You have introduced many technical terms in the paragraph and many of them do not seem to fit. ID doesn’t reject “infinite regress.” What does “determinism” have to do with what you are discussing? What does aliens have to do with anything? Try to stay with one idea.

    I’m sure it will make sense if you go back and read Tim post to which I was actually responding. If you still have problems after this, I will be glad to clarify.

  64. mandy,

    You should read this:
    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/aug.....ition4.htm

  65. #64, These a wonderful sentiments from enlightened people but they don’t represent the mainstream position of people through history and even now. 200 years ago, the mainstream thought that Slavery was okay and Negros were inferior and used the Bible to back this up. 50 years ago, mainstream people thought that segregation was okay and mixed marriages were wrong and used the Bible to justify it.
    In thirty years, I’ll bet a bottle of Penfold’s finest red that our Grandchildren will say that gay marriage is fine and that Christians have always supported gay marriage.

  66. Atom, you are right, of course. I wonder if your angle will resonate, or will it, too, be met with the “no concession policy.”

  67. —Hoki: “I’m sure it will make sense if you go back and read Tim post to which I was actually responding. If you still have problems after this, I will be glad to clarify.”

    Why would I know that you were referring to Tim when you were addressing me? Why not try again by addressing my comments to me and addressing Tim’s comments to him. That always works well.

  68. Hoki,

    I wrote:

    “I disagree with the overall idea of what you are saying. Although technically it is possible that our purpose is to become soap for aliens, if we are talking about ultimate ends, then the question is merely shifted to “What kind of soap or other nastiness is the ultimate end for those aliens?”

    You responded:

    “Why would it be? ID rejects infinite regresses (or so I’ve read here on occasion). And even if it doesn’t, it in no way follows that whatever created “our” aliens had any intention of having them eventually creating us (unless you’re advocating determinism).”

    Hoki, are you purposely wasting our time here? YOU were the one who initiated the idea of alien soap as a possible end for us (as physical beings) that ID would not have a problem with while TOTALLY ignoring the fact that now you have alien that also would have to have some ends also (as physical beings). Who cares if it is soap or not.

    Determinism is not essential to the argument nor is infinite regress. Do you understand why I asserted that your initial point was dopey?
    If not, here it is again:
    “If you don’t want to be a dope, then don’t assert panspermia as a way of explaining initial origins or ultimate ends.”

  69. I want to thank the materialist Darwinists for proving my point better than I ever could. Every word of my post @32 is being confirmed.

  70. Thanks Upright BiPed. I usually lurk when I’m busy and busy I’ve been lately.

    Atom

  71. —-Hoki on 2/23/2009:

    —-”As I’ve lready said, gardening can be a purpose. Materialism is even compatible with “higher” purposes such as the alien-soap thing.

    —-Hoki on 2/24/2009:

    —-”Seems not, since materialism only requires these things to have a physical basis. (I doubt, though, that any materialist has tried to include gods or souls).”

    Well, you are not very consistent, but you are definitely going in the right direction. I attribute your improvement to my lighting round tutorials.

  72. StephenB @71,
    Pardon? I’ve just been told that I am wrong without any explanation. I would hardly call this a victory.

    I wont deny that there is a common set of ethics that we in the west have developed. You still need to show that these rules or ethics or laws are Divine in origin and not just an outcome of the logical achieving the greatest good for the greatest number. No doubt you can quote people who echo these ideas through history, but my reading of history has shown that morals have changed.

  73. Tim @33. I have not found you to be uncivil in your correspondences. Sometimes, it takes a little cold water to wake people up and I think you dispense your doses in the right proportions.

  74. StephenB:

    Why would I know that you were referring to Tim when you were addressing me? Why not try again by addressing my comments to me and addressing Tim’s comments to him. That always works well.

    Given that the comment only included quotes by Tim and wasn’t addressed to anyone at all, I wonder if I am now entitled to some ad hominem’s myself. Pretty please with sugar on top!

  75. StephenB:

    Well, you are not very consistent, but you are definitely going in the right direction. I attribute your improvement to my lighting round tutorials.

    I fail to see my inconsitencies. Could you point them out a little more precisely?

    I also like the way you endorse personal attacks and display clear signs of pride in a thread where there is a lot of arguments about morality.

  76. Tim:

    Hoki, are you purposely wasting our time here? YOU were the one who initiated the idea of alien soap as a possible end for us (as physical beings) that ID would not have a problem with while TOTALLY ignoring the fact that now you have alien that also would have to have some ends also (as physical beings). Who cares if it is soap or not.

    Yes…. and the purpose of the aliens could very well be TOTALLY irrelevant to our purpose – unless, of course, whoever designed the aliens for a purpose also intended for the aliens to design us. If the aliens’ own purpose was never to make us then we hardly have to regress in this way (hence my regress and determinism comment).

    Do you understand why I asserted that your initial point was dopey?

    Oh, sweet morality.

    If not, here it is again:
    “If you don’t want to be a dope, then don’t assert panspermia as a way of explaining initial origins or ultimate ends.”

    But then I never used it to explain initial origins. And see my note just above for why my scenario would involve ultimate purpose.

    If you have to indulge in ad hominems, can’t you at least be funny – as in “I suspect that you smell of elderberries” or something.

  77. —-Hoki: “I also like the way you endorse personal attacks and display clear signs of pride in a thread where there is a lot of arguments about morality.”

    You have a point. I retract my snippy remarks and my apparent endorsement of personal attacks. I hope that you will give me another chance to do better.

    Meanwhile, do you have anything to say about the most discussed point on the thread? Do you acknowledge the natural moral law as an objective standard of morality?

    Also, you really do not seem to grasp some of the major points being made here. Your question about ID providing no more purpose than materialism was misguided. Let me explain why.

    The two counterparts are [A] Monistic Materialism and [B] Dualistic Theism. Both are philosophical world views and each can logically be compared to the another.

    Theistic Dualism does indeed provide purpose and meaning, while Materialistic monism militates against purpose and meaning.

    On the other hand, ID cannot provide meaning, because it is only a methodology for detecting design. It cannot transcend )the design and provide meaningful explanations about why we are here or where we are going. That is the job of Theistic dualsim, (one example of which could be Christianity.

    Do you see my point?

  78. —-Hoki: “Given that the comment only included quotes by Tim and wasn’t addressed to anyone at all, I wonder if I am now entitled to some ad hominem’s myself. Pretty please with sugar on top!”

    You are correct on both counts. Let me do it for you. How about this: StephenB was a pin head @64 for failing to realize that he had pulled out Hoki’s quote to Tim and jumped on in and then forgot what he did.

  79. See, this is why I hate writing out long arguments. When I make good ones, which I’ll be the first to admit may not happen near enough, they are ignored. When I don’t explain myself clearly, or if that explanation involves some further analogy, my counterpart always seems to latch on to some aspect of my writing which I would normally consider to be trivial.

    I have re-read my two stanza limerick at 20 and think that that about sums up what I meant when considering initial origins, “ends” (on which I do believe ID can comment, if in a severely contracted way), panspermia, the supernatural, and bien sur alien soap!

    So, my apologies to Hoki and thanks and praises to StephenB (see 32!!), but I’d say this thread is done — done for me, at any rate.

  80. Tim, I know exactly what you mean. One of the reasons I don’t often write long posts is because my adversaries often look for a qualifying statement in a subpoint and play it up as if it was the main argument.

  81. Given that roughly half of GilDodgen’s opening post dealt with purpose and didn’t deal with morality at all, I wonder if Tim and StephenB’s comments regarding people seemingly latching onto trivial points/subpoints was really meant for me.

  82. Hoki, I was not talking about you. It was a refection on my experiences on this blog, but I can understand how you might interpret it that way given prior events. Meanwhile, do you have anything to say about my substantive point @77, which summarizes your basic misunderstanding.

  83. StephenB:

    On the other hand, ID cannot provide meaning,

    I’m glad we agree. I brought this up in the beginning because GilDodgen’s post was filed under “Intelligent Design”.

    The two counterparts are [A] Monistic Materialism and [B] Dualistic Theism. Both are philosophical world views and each can logically be compared to the another.

    Theistic Dualism does indeed provide purpose and meaning, while Materialistic monism militates against purpose and meaning.

    Now, why is it in all of a sudden theism? I would agree that ID requires some sort of dualism, but it would not have to be theistic. So, your statement should be that “immaterialism” CAN provide purpose. You could also say that it allows you to to assign any conceivable sort of purpose to yourself (and others).

    Your claim that materialism militates against purpose and meaning is simply wrong. There are more than one type of philosophical materialism and while some would say that there is no such thing as purpose (as we use the term) others do allow for such an abstract term. Now, we could always argue whether or not such purposes are ultimate or not…

    Do you acknowledge the natural moral law as an objective standard of morality?

    I never had the intention of engaging in a debate about morality. I will also refrain from starting now.

  84. —-Hoki: “Now, why is it in all of a sudden theism? I would agree that ID requires some sort of dualism, but it would not have to be theistic. So, your statement should be that “immaterialism” CAN provide purpose. You could also say that it allows you to to assign any conceivable sort of purpose to yourself (and others).

    Both dualism and monism are philosophical rather than scientific paradigms. ID can fit inside the dualistic paradigm, while it cannot fit in the monistic paradigm. Dualism, (two realms) argues for two realms, i.e, Creator/creation, mind/brain, spirit/matter, soul/body. Monism reduces everything to one realm, cutting out the top layer ie. No creator, brain only, matter only, body only. Materialism is one kind of monism. There is another kind of monism called “Idealism” which is not too popular these days but used to be the rage. In any case, Darwinism fits in with monism, because it acknowledges only matter.

    Does ID require dualism? From a scientific perspective, the answer is no. In that respect, the designer need not be a Divine creator, a superhuman, or a person at all. For them, it can be a “law” or a principle in nature. From a scientific standpoint, I can’t dispute the point. From a philosophical perspective, however, it makes no sense. Why? All of empirical reality is changing. If the “law,” as designer, is part of nature, then it is also a part of that changing reality, which means that it could not be its designer. An unchanging law cannot also be a changing law. This, by the way, is why we discuss things other than ID science.

    —-“Your claim that materialism militates against purpose and meaning is simply wrong.”

    Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it leaves no room for it. If everything is matter, then obviously there can be no such thing as minds, souls, justice, truth, purpose, goodness, morality or any other type of non- material reality. Remember, materialism claims that matter is the ONLY reality. Also, materialism rules out free will, so even if there was a purpose, the creature could not choose to fulfill it. The best it could do is to follow its own nature. What good would purpose be without choice?

    —-“There are more than one type of philosophical materialism and while some would say that there is no such thing as purpose (as we use the term) others do allow for such an abstract term. Now, we could always argue whether or not such purposes are ultimate or not…”

    Yes, you are right, there is such a thing as “epiphenomilism.” Materialism says everything is matter, while epephenomilism says everything is “grounded” in matter. The second claim is not quite as strong as the first, but, as it turns out, the difference doesn’t count for much. In the end, matter is still calling the shots.

    —-“I never had the intention of engaging in a debate about morality. I will also refrain from starting now.”

    OK.

  85. That should read, for [some] not “them”, it could be a design principle in nature.

  86. Stephen:

    Sorry for taking so long to respond. I’m not even sure I you’re going to be checking this thread any more. Anyways:

    If everything is matter, then obviously there can be no such thing as minds, souls, justice, truth, purpose, goodness, morality or any other type of non- material reality. Remember, materialism claims that matter is the ONLY reality.

    Well yes, these things can exist if matter (e.g your brain) creates the perception of these things existing. Computer programs can have purposes even though they are purely material (I doubt that they are aware of the purpose, however). Of course, these immaterial entities don’t exist in any absoulte terms (which I suspect is what you’re after).

  87. —-Hoki:

    If only matter exists, then there can be nothing but matter or that which is grounded in matter. A mind (not the brain labled as mind [as in epiphenominlism]) cannot be grounded in matter because we know from experience that it can resist and even reverse an impulse from the brain, which is, itself, a slave to matter and can resist nothing. We can, in fact, exercise self control through the use of an immaterial mind and will.

    In such instances, the mind and will refuse to accept the animalistic, law-like, materialist promptings of the brain and either redirect matter or choose something different than what the brain is bidding one to do. If there was no immaterial mind or will, the brain would simply obey natures laws and we would have no free choice. That is why all materialists are committed to reject any notion of fre will. To have a brain and no mind is to be an animal, and to not believe in minds is to countenance humans acting like animals.

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