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REPLY #21b TO
"RELIGION"



Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

This is the second of a three-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.

The jury would note that you have yet to explain why the statement "God exists" is not a positive position and, therefore, escapes bearing the burden of proof.
(R) It has been explained.
(MB) It has been rationalized -- not explained. All you have ever done to refute it has been to restate your original claim and fail to understand the basic logic involved.


Instead, you have chosen to justify it solely by saying that it can't be disproven. That argument doesn't work to support any other positive claim of the existence of any given phenomena. Why should the jury accept it in this case?
(R) I don't justify my belief simply because it can't be disproved. I justify it by saying it is impossible to either prove or disprove whether or not God exists, and it is just as valid to conclude He does as to conclude He does not.
(MB) That's merely saying the same thing in more words -- except it adds additional logic errors and makes even less sense.


There has been no such inapplicability shown. The jury would note that what has been shown is a misunderstanding of those other beliefs.
(R) Inapplicability has been shown in every instance. The examples have all fallen into one of three categories, though number 2 seems to be the favorite: 1.) physical phenomenon, subject to proof or disproof on the basis of physical evidence,
(MB) Since the debate involves whether or not God created the universe or that it arose through natural causes, how could a discussion of the evidence for the physical phenomena that comprises the whole of the universe possibly be inapplicable?


(R) 2.) fictional inventions, which by definition, cannot exist,
(MB) We have seen that you're hazy on your own definition of fiction while failing to show how God can be considered to be anything other than fiction. Again, this is hardly inapplicable.


(R) and 3.) supernatural phenomenon, which are very difficult to either prove or disprove, and whose existence is probably related to the existence of God.
(MB) If we are to believe in anything supernatural, it is certainly applicable to discuss such things. If we can't show that any such things exist, then they can't be used as support for anything.


Also, there has been an avoidance of the question of why a belief in God is superior to a belief in any other deity and/or religion or to a belief in no deity or religion at all. Before any particular religion can be shown to be equal to or superior to science, it must first be shown to be equal to or superior to any competing religious belief. They can't all be "right".
(R) I haven't avoided this question at all, I've readily admitted that unsupported beliefs in any deity, or in no deity at all, are equal, with none inherently superior to the others. As a matter of fact, this is my central argument.
(MB) Again, you do exactly what you deny doing. Can you understand that it is impossible for two mutually-contradictory beliefs to both be true? If so, you can't claim that all religious beliefs are equal. In fact, the only way they could be considered to be equal is if they were all considered to be wrong! Now, if you're willing to say that, I'll agree with you.


(R) As far as the question of "rightness" goes, it is highly unlikely that any specific set of religious beliefs is entirely correct, however, most may contain at least some element of truth and are, in part, right.
(MB) That's the analog of a work of fiction containing non-fictional elements. The basic story itself remains fiction.


Simple dispute without specific rebuttal is not sufficient. So far, the strongest argument in rebuttal has been "No, it doesn't".
(R) Here are the maxims in question, and the previously stated rebuttals:
(MB) OK, let's review the nonsense...


(R) 1.) "If something exists, it can easily be proven to exist."
    Things exist of which we do not have the knowledge or means to prove their existence, yet they continue to exist despite the fact we cannot easily prove they do. (ref. the planet Pluto)

(MB) True, but how this is supposed to refute my statement is beyond me. Pluto's existence was confirmed when our accumulated knowledge and technology made it possible. It was never within the realm of the supernatural. All we had to do to prove its existence was spot it in the sky.


(R) 2.) "It is impossible to prove something does not exist."
    All that is necessary to prove something does not exist is to demonstrate something else which cannot allow it to exist. (ref. carbon-based life on the moon)

(MB) I already showed how this is an invalid example as there are carbon-based life forms on Earth which could survive on the Moon. Ignoring them is not a refutation of my statement.


(R) 3.) "The statement that something exists bears the burden of proof."
    Any claim must stand or fall on its own merits. In the case of opposing claims of existence, whichever has the weight of conclusive evidence on its side is the one held to be true. If there is no evidence and neither can be proven true, then neither is inherently superior to the other.
    These rebuttals did not merely say, "No, it doesn't," when they were first stated, and they do not say that here.

(MB) These aren't rebuttals of what I said. In fact, you support it up until the point where you drag out the "neither side has any support" nonsense again. That's when you say "No, it doesn't" to the demand of logic that the positive position bears the burden of proof.     So, you've swung and missed three times. You're out, I'm afraid...


The jury would also note that you have asked numerous specific questions about scientific knowledge of various phenomena. Normally, in these debates, these questions are the preface to a claim that "Science doesn't know how it works. Therefore, God must have done it". Unfortunately, I have answered all of your questions so that tactic could not be introduced.
(R) I'm assuming you are again referring to the discussion of the hydrogen atom. If so, you have miss-guessed my purpose, for those questions are to illustrate our lack of understanding of the universe.
(MB) If I answered all of your questions, how has that shown any lack of understanding?


(R) I never have to fall back on the argument you're attempting to saddle me with. If there are any other points where you think I do, please let me know so I can clarify my purpose for you. That way, you won't have to engage in groundless speculation about my motives.
(MB) You never got a chance to fall back on your ulterior motive since I successfully answered all of your questions. Several times you have alluded to a view that imperfect understanding means that God can't be ruled out. You're not the only Christian apologist who has tried to support God by finding unanswerable questions.


Yet, despite this, the jury would notice a continued refusal to acknowledge that there is any support for my position.
(R) Your position is that science proves there is no God.
(MB) Amazing! How many times will you continue to trot out this erroneous assessment?


Taking all of the aforementioned things into account, how do you think the jury would decide?
(R) If this is your summation for the jury, you'd better re-think it. It's got a couple of holes in it.
(MB) None have yet been demonstrated. So far, my case is airtight.


You have answered this one yourself. Questions of pure philosophy, morality and politics are different from questions of the reality of the universe.
(R) Such questions are different from questions of physical reality, but there are realities other than that which is physical. Philosophical, moral, political, and spiritual realities, to name a few. Which are important because they affect the physical reality we experience.
(MB) How are these things to be considered to be "realities"? Do they exist if there are no humans to invent them? How do they affect physical reality in any way? They laws of physics are not affected in any way by anything that humans might think.


The universe could not have been created by philosophy. Three quarks make a proton no matter which side of the political aisle you occupy. "All men are created equal" is a statement of philosophy and does not describe anything in physical reality.
(R) It sure does! It describes the ideal state of all human beings, everywhere. It is absolutely, 100 percent true, whether you live in America or China or Afghanistan. All men, all human beings, are and by right ought to be, unequivocally equal before the law, their fellow men, and God.
(MB) How can you make that claim? What natural law makes it unavoidable? How is the physical reality of a human being affected by his philosophy? While I certainly consider that sentiment to be a good one, there's nothing to support it as being absolute truth everywhere and for everybody. In fact, it's hard to support such a thing as being upheld by anything more than a minority of the population of the Earth -- and they have only held it over the past few centuries.


In fact, it can't even be said to be philosophically true. It is for Americans, of course, but how about for any society that still promotes the old feudal system of varying degrees of nobility?
(R) All you have to do to demonstrate the validity of this basic premise is consider the alternative. If all men are not created equal, then some are superior to others. What is the basis of this supposed superiority? Station of birth? Or race? Or some sort of "evolutionary superiority," as in Social Darwinism? Even if any of these bizarre and evil ideas were true (and they are *not*) they lead to only one thing. They lead inexorably and inevitably to tyranny.
(MB) It all depends upon how you define "equal". Certainly you won't try to argue that all men are physically and intellectually equal? According to the Bible, God doesn't even believe that all men are equal. "Equal" in your sense is another emotional argument -- which I thought you were trying to avoid.


(R) On the other hand, "All men are created equal," is the foundation of freedom, and can be held to be philosophically true merely for that reason. That the principle is not practiced in all countries means nothing. It is still true, and is the foundation of the only just form of government, democracy.
(MB) It's only philosophically true for those who believe that freedom and democracy are the best. The fact that not all men and nations believe that proves my point. Finally, our form of government is not a "democracy", we live in a "republic".


The President of the United States is still essentially equal to you and I, but try to tell a King that he is the equal of his subjects.
(R) There aren't a lot of absolute monarchs left in the world, but what they think makes no difference to what is true.
(MB) That is silly. How can you define to them that their country's form of government isn't "true"? If they really believed that they were wrong, they wouldn't still be in power.


(R) In counter-point, try to tell your average Briton that he/she is inferior Queen Elizabeth and see what answer you get.
(MB) I'd get absolute agreement from the majority of them. I know because I've known and served with many Brits in the course of my military career. They may not take the monarchy as seriously as they once did, but there aren't many of them who won't kneel in Her Majesty's presence.


So, statements like this are not equivalent to statements that claim the existence of some given phenomena and do not increase basic knowledge. Therefore, I must ask again -- what other positive positions do you hold simply because nobody can prove they aren't so?
(R) Statements such "All men are created equal" have a direct and vitally important effect on our day-to-day lives, and greatly increase our basic understanding and knowledge of mankind's place in the universe -- much more so than many of the theoretical concepts of pure science.
(MB) The universe is totally unaffected by anything that Man thinks. It is solely determined and guided by the laws of science. Man's philosophies only have relevance to the people who believe in them and only at the time and place where they are believed. Three centuries ago, you'd have been hard-pressed to find a place where making a public statement that "All men are created equal" wouldn't have caused you to be branded as a heretic, laughed out of town, or dragged before the authorities and punished. This, by itself, should prove that the statement is nothing but philosophy rather than any sort of absolute truth.


(R) What possible use to me in my daily existence is the fact that three quarks make a proton?
(MB) It is of the most fundamental importance, since if it was not so, you wouldn't *have* a daily existence! We wouldn't have to worry about whether or not all men were created equal since there wouldn't be any men. If the basic fundamentals of the universe aren't important to you, then what *is* important?


(R) I may not be able to prove that all men are created equal, but no one will ever convince me they are not, and my belief can be justified by that fact alone.
(MB) This is being "open-minded", I suppose?


(R) This is true of dozens of other beliefs I hold, most of which can be traced directly to my belief in God -- the fundamental premise of my philosophy of life.
(MB) So, this proves the point that a flawed premise leads to flawed conclusions.


Any reasonable idea can be corrupted by the predispositions inherent in strong beliefs.
(R) Hummm. Seems to me I've said this already, but you disagreed by saying only religious people do such things.
(MB) Not true. Unreason, illogic and inappropriate use of sound ideas are not exclusive to religion. It's just that it is more predominant therein since the entirety of religion is based upon a fundamentally flawed premise that requires more corruptions of reason for continued belief.


(R) But anyway, let me point out, Social Darwinism is not a reasonable idea. It is nothing more than another attempt by those who would practice tyranny to justify the idea that some men have the right to rule others. It is no different in this way than the theory of divine right. Distilled to its very essence, Social Darwinism, like its grand-child, Nazism, is a theory of racial superiority. Such theories lead inevitably to holocaust.
(MB) I think you're extrapolating beyond the scope of the original point. What was originally branded "Social Darwinism" was merely an economic idea that success arises through overcoming all competition. This is not "racial superiority" by any stretch of the imagination. It's survival of the fittest from an economics point-of-view. It was originally used to describe the so-called "robber barons" of the late 1800's. But, making money was their concern -- not ruling anybody else through tyranny or any other political means. The conditions that gave rise to the robber barons arose when the government relaxed restrictions on business in order to try to rebuild the economy after the devastations of the Civil War. To equate it with Nazism is nonsense.



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