MARK L. BAKKE'S
Night Owl Mk. II




Return to "Religion" essay


Back to Philosophy page




Please feel free to E-mail me with your own comments on this issue or on anything else included in my Philosophy of Life section. Debate is good!



Please report any problems with this page to the Webmaster!



Boulder Games
Bowling
Entrance Page
Exit/Links Page
Night Owl Mk. II
Special Features
Personal Pages
Philosophy of Life
Site Map
Wargaming
What's New on this Site?
REPLY #59b 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.

So, something becomes valid based solely on the number of books that are written about it? I guess that means that the starship Enterprise exists, eh?
(R) I didn't say that, nor would I even consider such a thing. I've already clearly stated that just because 95 percent of the world's population believes in God in one form or another doesn't prove He in fact exists.
(MB) Actually, you've gone both ways on that one depending on the argument you're trying to put over.


(R) But what's being discussed here is your assertion that the evidence for God's existence is contained in a single book. Now that this obviously ridiculous idea has been refuted, you're attempting to change the subject to keep from admitting you're wrong. As usual, I might add.
(MB) No need to change the subject since the one at hand is sufficient to prove my case. As usual, I might add. If you seek to dispute that the evidence for God's existence is contained in a single book, where else is it? You've already said that there is none to be found. Are you going to waffle on this, too? As usual, I might add.


Also, a book doesn't have to be presented as fiction in order to be rather dubious in nature. The philosophical works of L. Ron Hubbard are a prime example.
(R) I'm unfamiliar with his philosophy the only thing I've ever read of his is "Battlefield Earth," which I enjoyed. I don't know if his philosophy is dubious or not. But you're absolutely right when you say that just because something is presented as non-fiction doesn't mean it's correct. I've read much on the Pearl Harbor attack for example, or the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which fall into this category.
(MB) My point all along. That's why I draw the dividing line between "fiction" and "non-fiction" where the evidence supports it. Arbitrary literary terminology plays no part in that determination.


(R) The difference between non-fiction and fiction is that the non-fictional writer claims his work to be true, whereas the author of a fictional work makes no such claim and questions of the truth of his work are a given.
(MB) See above...


In a way, they are similar. Both are compilations of the ideas of their respective disciplines along with added contributions of the authors. The difference is that physics still exists in its modern form without Principe to support it, while the God theory does not exist in its modern form without the Bible to support it.
(R) Physics isn't based on "Principe." "Principe" is based on physics. Belief in God has always existed, without support from the Bible, just as the laws of physics have always applied, even before there were human beings to wonder about them.
(MB) Agreed. But, I think you've missed my point again. Nobody has to depend primarily upon Newton's Principia Mathematica to justify physics. However, there is nothing *but* the Bible to use to uphold a belief in God. If you don't believe it, try to find any apologetic work or other Christian text that doesn't quote heavily from Scripture in order to make its case. Of course, this all devolves into circular reasoning as those works are using the Bible to verify what the Bible says.


(R) Most Christians use the Bible for personal study and revelation,...
(MB) And most have absolutely no idea what's really contained within it. They rely on what "study guides" and urban myths tell them about it. How can that provide any sort of "revelation"?


(R) ...and depend on sources in addition to it as support for their belief in God.
(MB) Such as? What other source(s) can be upheld as authoritative and do not rely on the Bible for support?


(R) When you insist the Bible is the only source of support for God, you only display the shallowness of your thinking on the subject.
(MB) On the contrary, I display an understanding of the general state of Christian belief and the obvious fact that the Bible is the only authoritative and non-derivative book detailing the stories of God and Jesus. To prove me wrong will require you to list at least one other qualifying work.


(R) I recommend you check out the writings of Frank Tippler.
(MB) Tipler (just one 'p') is probably best known for "The Physics of Immortality". I've not read the book, but I understand that his premise has not received much support. Select the provided link to read an [extensive critique] of his universal resurrection theory.


That is why you have quoted Bible verses in previous arguments?
(R) The only time I have quoted the Bible is when you've made statements specifically about Christianity or the Bible which have been error.
(MB) Since you have yet to show any such errors, your claim is false. In addition, it proves that you do quote the Bible to support your beliefs. It also raises a question about why you would wish to divorce your beliefs from what is written in the Bible and, as a consequence, who or what you turn to for support for those beliefs that anyone else could consider to be compelling and/or authoritative.


(R) And in all cases, you are the one who broached the subject. As I've noted before, you seem to be particularly interested in attacking Christianity.
(MB) Since you are a Christian and worship the Christian God, this would seem to be a subject of common interest about which to debate. If you can't defend your own beliefs successfully, why bother debating any others?


Since there is nothing else with which to support the existence of God, one must turn to the book in which he was invented -- the Bible.
(R) God was not invented in the Bible. Beliefs about God predate any documents, of any type, anywhere, by thousands of years. Just as the practice of agriculture predates any written record we have of it, belief in God predates the manuscripts which became the Bible.
(MB) OK, then let's restate it. Since there is nothing else with which to support the existence of God, one must turn to the book in which Man's invention of God was codified -- the Bible. Better? Now, can you address the point directly?


Since the Bible also contains the basis upon which Judaism and Christianity are formed, it is necessary to examine its contents.
(R) This I will agree with, at least in part. The Bible is the source document for Christianity and any discussion of Christianity should include a discussion of it. However, we're not discussing Christianity, are we? We're arguing about the existence of God, though you are attempting to limit the discussion to Christianity.
(MB) This has already been addressed several times. There is no possible way, given your own statements (which I have previously documented), that we are discussing anything other than Christianity and its God. Now, can you quit waffling and begin to answer questions?


Since those same religions also claim that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, one could reasonably expect it to provide support for his existence.
(R) Curious statement. I'm not at all sure what Jews believe in this area.
(MB) Surely, you jest. Find me a Jew who doesn't believe that the Bible supports the existence of God. Unless, of course, you want to claim that Jews all believe that the Bible is nothing more than a good story in which "God" is just the lead character.


(R) Some Protestants adamantly insist the Bible is inerrant, but many others aren't as inflexible on the subject, and neither are lots of Catholics.
(MB) Inerrancy has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the Bible supports God's existence. If the Bible doesn't, what does?


(R) Interestingly, there is very little Biblical support for inerrancy. Neither does the Bible go into in depth proofs of God's existence. The existence of God is assumed.
(MB) Isn't that a rather large assumption to make? If the assumption isn't true, no argument or conclusion which derives from it can be true. The Bible says many things about the nature of God. It doesn't "assume" he exists -- it *knows* he exists. There is no need for in-depth proofs when the book is written for an audience who already believes.


I'm just trying to see if you really believe your own arguments. Just because the work in which Harvey appears is classified as fiction does not mean all elements contained within the work are also fictional. You have made this point yourself. Do you stand by it?
(R) Yes. To reiterate, fiction is often based on non-fictional persons, places, things or events.
(MB) So, then, you must accept the possibility that Harvey is real. Remember, it is the book itself that is "fiction" and not necessarily every character or event contained within it.


How does one judge which elements of a story are fictional or non-fictional? You need independent evidence! Without such evidence, any given elements contained within the story are suspect.
(R) You do exactly the same thing when reading non-fiction. You use your own experiences, knowledge of the subject derived from other sources, and the author's footnotes and references to judge what is right or wrong, true or false, real or unreal.
(MB) Absolutely! This is what I've been stating all along. Maybe now, you're beginning to understand! Now, why can't you apply this same level of judgment to stories about God instead of just presupposing that they are all true?


(R) This does not change the fact that by classifying a work as fiction, an author is stating, "I made this up. These people, places, things, and events are not real." Even the non-fictional elements of a fictional work cannot be said to be real. They are merely based on reality.
(MB) Which still means that Harvey could be based on something real if his actual character is not. Once again, we must use independent evidence to make that determination and not just the author's say-so.


(R) In "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" both FDR and Churchill are major characters. Wouk does a fine job of presenting them in an historically accurate fashion. But the characterizations of these two men in the novels cannot be considered any more real than that of Victor Henry. I can't say, "FDR did such and such," or, "Churchill said so and so," based on Wouk's novels. And I can't say Harvey exists based on a fictional story about him.
(MB) But, neither can you say that Harvey does *not* exist any more than you could claim that neither FDR nor Churchill actually existed. Once again, by your own arguments, you must accept the possibility that Harvey is real.


They aren't considered non-fictional simply because nobody can prove them wrong.
(R) You keep returning to the idea that I'm arguing God exists simply because no one can prove He doesn't. I'm not. That would be aurgumentum ad ignorantiam, in exactly the same manner as is the argument God doesn't exist because no one can prove He does.
(MB) But, this is exactly what you *do* argue! I ask you to support your belief in the existence of God and you always answer that you support it because nobody can prove your belief to be wrong. I agree that this is a classic example of an Argument from Ignorance, but that doesn't seem to bother you in the slightest. You steadfastly maintain your belief on that basis and continue to claim that it is valid despite all basic logic and philosophy to the contrary.


(R) No one can prove God exists.
(MB) Quite correct.


(R) No one can prove He does not.
(MB) Not necessary since the positive existential claim bears the burden of proof. However, it can be strongly suggested that your God does not exist by refuting any claims about his nature and showing how his existence is not required in order to produce Life, the Universe, and Everything as we observe it to be.


(R) There is nothing but circumstantial evidence to indicate one way or the other.
(MB) There is *no* evidence to indicate that he exists -- you have agreed with that. But, since that claim bears the burden of proof, the total absence of evidence indicates that skepticism or non-belief is the more logical position.


(R) It is just as rational to believe He does as to believe He doesn't.
(MB) See above...


(R) The same cannot be said of Harvey. Harvey is fictional and does not exist by definition.
(MB) We've already covered the fallacy inherent in that argument.


(R) He has no potential for existence unless the film's screenwriter or writers claim their work as non-fiction, and state an invisible, six-foot tall, white rabbit actually exists.
(MB) We've also covered this one. The author's say-so is not the final word on the matter. Consider the possibility that the film's screenwriter doesn't want you to believe that Harvey is real. So, he tells you he made him up when Harvey actually does exist. Now, you'd have a real entity that you will defend to the death as being "fiction". Because this possibility exists, your reasoning is insufficient.


If I say that Man created God in his own image and likeness, can you prove me wrong?
(R) No. But can you prove it right?
(MB) Of course. Just read the stories in the Bible. If they are all taken to be true, God can't possibly exist because of all the paradoxes and contradictions in them. If he doesn't exist, then Man created him in the stories. If the stories can not be taken as true, then the Bible is essentially worthless and its feature character can accurately be described as a fictional character in a fictional tale. Once again, Man creates God. How would you defend the opposite assertion that God is real?


(R) And if I say mankind's belief in God in one form or another since the dawn of recorded history is so widespread and universally prevalent that God must exist in order to explain it, can you prove me wrong? (As far as that goes, can I prove it right?)
(MB) I can show the logic in the argument to be fallacious and this will cast strong doubts upon the premise being defended. Your argument is merely another derivative of the fallacy that a proposition is true because lots of people believe it to be true. In addition, you can't say that the view is widespread because, while many people believe in the supernatural, there are simply far too many conflicting versions to claim that any of them is valid or call them "universally prevalent" because you haven't sampled anywhere else in the universe. Finally, people have believed in many things since the first cave man picked up a rock and the vast majority of those things have been shown to be wrong as our understanding has increased. Why shouldn't belief in supernatural deities be another one of those things?



Created with Allaire HomeSite 4.0 .......... Last Update: 15 Nov 98
E-mail: mlbakke1@earthlink.net


Earthlink Network Home Page


Go to next reply

Return to "Religion" essay

Back to Philosophy page