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REPLY #22b 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 last of a two-part reply.

(R) When faced with an example of a 747, or a universe, which arose by design vs. one which arose by chance, Joe would agree it is just as reasonable and logical to believe the universe was created as it is to believe it arose on its own through chance.
(MB) No, he wouldn't. Joe would understand all of the factors involved and would realize that there is no direct comparison between the construction of a 747 and the creation of the universe.


In reality, "impossibility" is only an expression of extreme improbability. Given enough time and trials, if anything is even theoretically possible, then the probability that it will eventually occur at some point is 1.
(R) Exactly as in the example of the random assembling of a 747 by a windstorm, the chances of the pencil floating to the ceiling are such that it can be considered, for all practical purposes, impossible -- despite the theoretical possibilities of quantum mechanics in either case.
(MB) Correct. Don't forget, however, that the time available for either of those remote possibilities to occur is severely limited by the amount of time that 747s, pencils, junkyards or ceilings have existed.


(R) In both cases, the randomly-assembled 747 and the floating pencil, you argue it is theoretically possible for them to happen. I agree. You also point out, given enough time and trials, if something is even theoretically possible, it will occur. I agree with this also. You fail to mention, although I'm sure you realize, it might occur on any of the trials. We might not roll ten "ones" in a row until the 268 millionth trial, but then again, it could happen on the very first trial, or at any point in between -- or it may never happen at all.
(MB) Correct again. That, in fact, is the very nature of probability. But, one shouldn't forget the "expected result" is always far more likely than any particular outcome for one individual trial.


(R) This is the only reason I give any credence at all to the idea the universe is a product of chance. And why I say it is equally reasonable and logical to believe in either chance or design.
(MB) "Chance" and "design" as theories of the universe are not equal. An idea based upon "chance" can be supported to a absolute probability of 1 by the evidence of mathematics, chemistry and physics and the fact that the universe does exist. An idea based upon "design" can not be supported to any level above 0 unless there is some specific evidence for it.     I can prove that the design theory for a 747 is superior to the chance theory simply by going to the Boeing assembly plant. Where can I go to find similar proof for the design theory of the universe?


Just as he would recognize that a creator for something as relatively simple and self-ordering as the universe is unnecessary.
(R) Possibly unnecessary.
(MB) Absolutely unnecessary. Unless, of course, it can be shown that there is something in the universe that requires a supernatural creator.


(R) Do you consider the game of chess simple? The rules of chess are quite easy, but the game itself and its strategies are incredibly deep and complex, with virtually endless possibilities. To argue the universe is simple and self-ordering, because the basic laws which govern it are simple, is no different than arguing chess is simple because its rules are easy. The universe is not simple or easy to understand, it is vast, complex, and largely unknown to us.
(MB) Again, you have an invalid comparison. Chess is an intellectual game based upon an arbitrary set of rules. Those rules have been modified over the history of chess, but the game remains the same. The pieces do not move themselves and their are only a few minor limitations which constrain the players. The universe is a physical object whose composition is governed by the immutable laws of physics. If the laws of physics were different, the universe would be different, as well -- and might well not exist at all. The components of the universe are rigidly constrained in their potential interactions.
    Chess is simple to learn, but difficult to master because of all of the potential variations in the development of a game. The universe follows a rigid set of invariant rules. Yes, it is vast. It is complex only because of how many things there are in it. It is largely unknown only in the particulars, not in its general workings.



When faced with two potentially plausible theories of creation -- one of which has mountains of evidence in support and the other of which is nothing more than an unsupported and unnecessary "personal preference" -- Joe would certainly choose the one which is supported.
(R) Joe would realize that all unsupported positions are equal. Until such time as the mountains of evidence you claim are actually produced instead of just bragged about, he would have no reason to consider your position to be supported.
(MB) If Joe was reading our discussions, he would know what our respective positions are (even if you are still confused about what mine is). He would also know that my position has been supported and that much more exists in support of it than I could ever begin to present. Therefore, even if he agreed with the nonsensical view that all unsupported positions are equal, he would know that there is only one unsupported position in this discussion.


Joe would recognize the concepts as the basics of logic and reason and would make his choice according to which side better presents its case and which successfully shoulders the burden of proof.
(R) The basis of logic and reason is true or false. On or off. 0 or 1. Everything else is derived from this.
(MB) That is too simplistic. The things you mention are nothing more than data items. Logic and reason are the processes used to arrive at sound ideas and conclusions based upon proper correllation and interpretation of related sets of data from all available sources. Religious ideas based upon belief in supernatural entities are neither logical nor reasonable since they derive from presupposed conclusions that have no evidence to support them.


(R) I have never seen the idea of positive and negative positions used anywhere. I have certainly never known anyone to argue the burden of proof always rests on those who claim something exists.
(MB) Neither ignorance nor the inability to understand a concept that might be new to you are any excuse, nor are they any refutation of those concepts.


I'm not "anti-religious". I am "anti-nonsense". If religion (or anything else) wishes to justify itself through nonsensical methods, then it is open to justifiable criticism. That makes me neither biased nor bigoted.
(R) "Organized religion seems more interested in controlling the lives of those who follow it than in anything else."
(MB) Show me an example that would contradict this. This will require showing me a religion that does not have rules which it expects its followers to abide by -- usually at the threat of punishment for non-compliance.


(R) "All religions have rules for how you should live your life and few have much, if any, tolerance for anything outside of those rules."
(MB) Show me an example of an organized religion that openly allows its followers to believe in other deities and does not expressly disapprove of adherents who do not follow the rules.


(R) "They (religions) also rely on the power of fear and blind faith to keep the flock in order. In this respect, organized religion is little different from political dictatorship."
(MB) Show me an example of an organized religion for which this is not true. In other words, show me an example where the beliefs are based upon evidence rather than faith.


(R) "Religion's main purpose seems to be to give people something upon which to base their opinions when they don't have (or don't care about) the facts."
(MB) You have admitted to this yourself on numerous occasions.


(R) These quotes are drawn from your essay on religion and are down- right anti-religious, period. You've made many even more clearly anti-religious statements in the rebuttals you've given to various answers to the essay.
    I suppose you'll try to argue these statements aren't biased because they're true, but that a bunch of hooey. They're true only in a tiny minority of cases. You are both biased and bigoted.

(MB) Since you have not, as of yet, provided any examples to contradict any of those statements, you have no reason to call them "hooey" or to label me as either biased or bigoted. In fact, your unsuccessful defense of your own beliefs and blanket denials of anything which might contradict them would lead more towards applying those labels to yourself.
    I have said several times that I am open to any idea which can show evidence to support its validity. That is the antithesis of being biased and/or bigoted. You have said many times that I can't change your beliefs and that you will continue to adhere to them despite your having no evidence with which to support them. How would you label someone who advocates such behavior?



A bigot makes baseless charges and statements that contravene all available evidence, logic, and common wisdom and also fails to support his own opinions with anything more than rhetoric. That does not apply to me. Most often in these types of debates, the charge of "bigot" is leveled when a given statement is unpalatable but the complainant has nothing with which to dispute it. That places the charge in the "sticks and stones" category.
(R) You are a bigot, mister, because you use stereotypes.
(MB) A "stereotype" is a conventional or common thought or action. If a stereotype is true, one can't be a bigot for referring to it. If the truth is unpleasant, that doesn't make it any less the truth.


(R) This is a favorite tactic used by racists, sexists, and other bigots to reflect discredit upon entire groups based on the actions of a few.
(MB) Yep. As I've said before, invalid use of a tool does not mean that the tool itself is bad. Racism and sexism rely on incorrect stereotypes to draw invalid conclusions.
    To say "Americans believe in democracy" is to employ a stereotype. Would you consider this to be a bigoted statement? Probably not. So, we can conclude that the problem is not any "stereotype", it's whether or not any given statement is correct. Since you haven't refuted any of the statements that you took issue with earlier in this reply, there is no reason for you to sling any insulting labels at me.



(R) You do this constantly.
(MB) What would you call somebody who uses the stereotype "atheist" to discredit an entire group? What would you call somebody who continues to use this stereotype despite repeated refutations of the characteristics that are being ascribed to the members of that group? I think you need to move out of your glass house before you begin throwing stones.


(R) The dictionary defines a bigot as someone intolerantly devoted to his own opinion. That certainly doesn't apply to me.
(MB) Somebody who claims that his ideas are not subject to change isn't "intolerantly devoted" to them?


Again, you are confusing pure philosophy with science. Philosophy asks "Why?" while science asks "How?". The two may well be parallel disciplines, but that means that their paths do not cross.
(R) I think your description of science and philosophy as parallel disciplines is superb. Think I'll adopt it.
(MB) Great! Then, may I assume that there will be no more confusion of a philosophy of God with the science of how the universe or anything in it came to be?


Ideas of philosophy hold only for the society that espouses them. Theories of science hold for the whole of the universe.
(R) Here's a few quotes from a couple of gentlemen, whose names you might recognize, who disagree with you on the importance of science vs. the importance of philosophy:
Stephan Jay Gould: "The two should not conflict because science treats factual reality, while religion struggles with human morality. I do not view moral argument as a whit less important than factual investigation."

(MB) This quote does not disagree with me. Morality is important for deciding how humans should live. To claim that morality is an absolute thing that originates with a supernatural entity is another issue entirely and is not something that Gould is addressing.


(R) Albert Einstein: "Religion without science is blind. Science without religion is lame."
(MB) The first sentence is in complete agreement with what I've been saying. The second assumes that one can't appreciate the wonders of the universe without religious beliefs. Einstein also once said that "God does not play dice" before he later recanted and accepted the predictions of quantum theory.


The God theory, however, predicts all sorts of phenomena which would be testable, observable, and definable.
(R) I'm not sure this is true. What sort of phenomena?
(MB) Such things as the special creation of Man, the existence of souls, the answering of prayers, the afterlife, the devil, angels, and the creation story (stories?) of Genesis. This is only the beginning of all of the inherent baggage that comes along with the idea that God exists and which must be addressed by those who choose to promote that idea. Because of this, it is insufficient just to say "God exists" and consider the idea to be valid.


(R) One more time: Belief in God is not the same as belief in Harvey, or the GGAS, or any other fictional invention, because they are (that's right) fictional. Anyone who believe in Harvey is believing in something which is fictional.
(MB) One more time: God is just as fictional as Harvey and the Great Green Arkleseizure since all three have equal amounts of evidence -- none at all -- to support their existence. If you want to dispute that, the only way to do so is to provide at least one piece of evidence to support your belief in God -- and you've already said that you have none.


Chinese proverb say that when somebody doesn't understand something the first time, explain to him in simpler terms. You didn't understand the meaning of the original metaphor "Preach or get off the pulpit", so I just simplified it to common usage. I also notice that you didn't bother to take the suggestion and start presenting evidence in favor of your beliefs.
(R) Yes, but explaining things simply doesn't require the use of profanity. In moments of trial, I've been known to say things far worse, but such language has no place in this discussion.
(MB) Please don't even try to tell me that you've never heard that commonly-used expression or that you are offended by it. All you are doing is trying to avoid having to answer the challenge.


(R) If you want to be crude and insulting, it doesn't matter to me, it's water off a duck. It just displays loutishness and a nasty disposition.
(MB) My vocabulary is more than adequate enough. That's why I used the "Preach or get off the pulpit" version of the cruder common expression. Since you didn't understand it the first time, I went down to the version that I figured you might find easier to understand.
    In any case, does all of this righteous indignation over a simple word mean that you aren't going to answer the challenge to either present your evidence or concede the discussion?



I would never surrender from a position of strength. I'm asking a serious question to which I expect a serious and non-evasive answer. Is there one forthcoming?
(R) A purely illusionary and self-delusional position of strength.
(MB) Oh, really? If this was a game, I would have scored all of the points so far while you would be focusing on changing the rules.


(R) You're question does not appear serious and is quite evasive itself.
(MB) Does this mean that you will continue to avoid answering it?


(R) It is an rhetorical attempt to assert I have presented no rebuttals to your claim of intellectual superiority for your belief over mine. This assertion is false.
(MB) Simple disagreement does not constitute rebuttal. Since you have presented no evidence to support your ideas or to refute mine, you have rebutted nothing.


(R) The logical rules you have attempted to invoke have been show to be invalid. The examples you've used to ridicule a belief in God have been shown to be inapplicable.
(MB) You are writing in response to Reply #13f. There are over a dozen subsequent replies that you haven't yet addressed and which refute your claims.


(R) Your claims of "mountains of evidence" have yet to be demonstrated.
(MB) The only way you can even begin to justify this is to distort my claims. If you understand and address them correctly, you would see the evidence.


(R) All that remains is your opinion that it is not necessary for God to have created the universe -- an opinion which is not shared by very many others.
(MB) The number of people who might share any given idea is no indication as to the validity of that idea. I've shown you how to refute my opinion. Can you show me anything that could not exist without the intervention of God? If no such thing exists, there is no reason to complicate the universe by adding a supernatural component to it.



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