Intelligent Science – My God makes no sense, that’s what makes him God!

I am going to have endless fun with this guy. Eric Kemp wrote a new post, this one with serious readership to it, called “Atheists Believe in Chance”. Funny, here again with the unwarranted accusations. “We atheists” (whatever the hell that means, what makes Eric lump us into one group, I don’t know.) again are being accused of “believing in chance”. Which means, to Eric’s opinion, that atheists have unsubstantiated faith in something he defines as “chance” (and uses quotes from various reputable sources to confirm this definition, kudos) and this belief somehow makes our worldview inconsistent.

That was a lengthy post that made more than just one point, and it has, to date, 20 comments, all very long. What I wish to focus on is something that I find very fascinating in creationist psychology, particularly in intelligent creationists like Eric:

Eric is intelligent, skilled and probably erudite in many fields. He also appears to be consistently fair as a debater… Except whenever he reaches the point where he either has to explain why his God is a better explanation than whatever straw-man version of “the athiestic version” he proudly admonishes, or what his God actually is. Whenever Eric stumbles upon the “Unlike all that godless rubbish, my God, here…” point, something in Eric’s mind happens that I find fascinating.

Allow me follow the post a bit, mention a comment written about the post, and Eric’s reply to it just to show you what I mean. Eric wrote:

(In relation to the “first cause” argument)

“The atheist will then object and say, “Well, then what caused your God?”  There are two problems with this counter-argument.  First, to make this argument the atheist must be admitting to their faith in this infinite regress and attempting to ignore the irrationality of that faith.  Secondly, God is outside of natural existence and therefore doesn’t need a causer.  In fact, His ability to not need a cause is one thing that makes Him God.  This counter-argument is also invalid because it’s completely consistent within the Christian worldview to claim God does not need a cause while it’s not consistent with the atheistic worldview to claim an infinite regress of causes.”

The First Cause argument, as I know it, is easily refuted simply because if Eric (or any other creationist) claims that God does not need a cause to exist, then by the same token, neither does the universe, which, according to Eric’s reasoning alone (and not, I admit, his version of the “atheist’s reasoning”!) – means that he doesn’t actually NEED God to explain the origin of the universe.

So okay. Old hat. Eric’s God, apparently, is outside of nature. It fits perfectly as an explanation. Actually, because it fits perfectly as an explanation to everything, it explains, unfortunately, nothing. By the same token, the by-now infmaous and sacred flying spaghetti monster could be “just as outside of nature” and just as good as an alternative for Eric’s solution to the “Nature-created-by-something-out-of-nature” problem. This, of course, is completely regardless to this whole “the universe must had a cause” tripe, and moreover – this can also be said assuming that it’s true.

But I’m not writing all of this to refute this ancient argument, I’m writing this because while following the comments a bit and seeing Eric respond to them, I see, to my opinion, two version of Eric. One is consistent, objective, fair and insightful. The other one, for some reason, seems to be completely impervious to the vast disingeniuty of his reply to soon-to-be-quoted comment(s).

Let’s be slightly lazy (these posts tend to be over-lengthy as it is) and just skip to the second version (it’s also the more interesting version, in my opinion.)

Commenter “cubiksrube” wrote:

“I also don’t know what, if anything, “caused” the universe. An infinite regress of any sort doesn’t seem to make sense (which seems to be your point as well), but, again, this doesn’t mean the first God-themed idea which satisifies this one criterion should be lauded for it. “Outside of natural existence” is a meaningless collection of words intended as a get-out clause applicable to your god and your god alone, to account for the fact that the creation of the universe, or a time before time, is an inconceivable notion to our squishy human brains any way you look at it.”

This is an excerpt of a detailed comment. It originally contained a detailed rebuttal of other arguments in Eric’s post. The reason I quoted this paragraph is because rubikscube here refers directly to what Eric wrote of the nature of God, and what makes that God, to him, a plausible explanation for the beginning of the universe. To be precise, rubikscube specifically addresses Eric’s definition of his God and points out that “Outside of natural existence” is a meaningless collection of words intended as a get-out clause applicable to your god and your god alone”.

Ouch, I thought. Okay, now there’s a head, a hammer, and a nail shoved firmly into to said head. Anyone not familiar with creationists might wonder how Eric could miss something as trivial as this, but it gets pretty common for creationists, while making blunt and obvious remarks about their “God hypothesis”, to simply mutter some half-assed reply that doesn’t seem to be the product of much effort to revise the original argument, to wit, Eric replies with this familiar gem

“It’s actually quite simple. If God created matter than He must be not made of matter, He must be spiritual in nature. If He’s spiritual in nature then He isn’t subject to causes.”

Amazing. While confronted with the utter uselessness of Eric’s particular version of the God hypothesis, Eric’s most prominent “rebuttal” is to exchange one useless explanation with another. This is NOT a simple explanation, Eric. If God is outside of nature, then there’s nothing you nor I can know about Him, and there’s no plausible explanation as to why you deduce his particular identity or why you assume (using metaphysics alone) that he should be “outside of nature”. Matter makes matter all the time. Why can’t God, or even the Christian God, be some kind of majestic alien bio-engineer? This is somewhat less far-fetched than some wraith poofing things into existence like magic tricks, and it also allows God to be at least remotely fathomable.

If God truly is out of nature, Eric, then there’s nothing simple about using him as an explanation. Saying that God is out of nature is exactly the same as saying that he is spiritual in nature/not made of matter. It explains nothing. There’s no excuse why this God and not any other is this proposed spiritual entity, no way of deciphering what “being a spiritual entity” means in any sensible way, no reason for us to find this “spiritual God” to be any more than a “get-out-of-jail-free-of-explaining-who-this-God-person-really-is” card.

If there is anything at all to learn from dabbling in such ancient poorly-designed retorts, a la Eric’s, it’s from what’s going through his mind whenever he is pinned down to the “God hypothesis” question. This guy, showing eruditeness, eloquence and, uncharaceteristically to a creationist, some fairness and objectivity, seems to squirm while confronted with this type of question and simply hand-wave it with some half-assed euphamism for the exact same poor explanation.

It’s as though something hurts Eric at this point, something strikes a nerve, something twists Eric’s emotional condition to completely forgo his use of his (well-exhibited) intellect and just, well, spew out this non-explanation. It sort of reminds me of how people behave or talk when you fight with them, or how I talk and reason when I’m in serious distress: there’s some sort of weaker version of our intellect that’s still on when we’re pinned against the wall while the rest of it is turned off during such duress, and perhaps it is such duress, originating out of some mysterious reason, that acts upon him to resort to irrational responses whenever someone touches the topic of God’s nature directly.

4 Comments »

  1. forknowledge Said:

    Being involve in the ‘debate’ myself, I’d say your assessment is spot on. I’ve also noticed that Creationists can be very intelligent and entirely rational right up until it comes time to actually examine God. To my mind, this says more about the God hypothesis than it does about the Creationists.

  2. freidenker85 Said:

    Oh yeah, by sheer coincedence, I noticed that you were involved in the debate as well – I found your blog regardless of finding Eric’s.

    Personally, I’ve been reading about creationists a lot when I first started getting interested in biology a lot a couple of years ago and Eric is just another production-line creationist, spewing the same ancient arguments. What I find interesting in creationists like Eric now is what goes through their mind when they suddenly relapse into banana-shaped reasoning. This is something that even though I found good explanations for, I just can’t seem to let go of.

  3. Getting-no-where Said:

    To bring clarity, I think that Eric’s points can be equally relevant to that of a person that believes in other forms of creationism, that is as long as they have truly studied it. I believe that people that blindly believe in a religion or blindly follow the beliefs of atheism are fools equally. Eric’s arguments have just as much sound. Both Atheists and Christians such as Eric have to have “faith” and belief in something that doesn’t have 100% facts to back up an argument. Atheists believe in hypothesis based material, which means there are ways to show how the hypothesis has proof of working but doesn’t mean the hypothesis is true. Eric believes in a God, which Eric has shown ways to prove of his existence, but can’t show 100% proof of his existence.

    Similar to both sides of the argument, Atheists don’t have all the answers and neither do Christians. Both have to faithfully believe that their answer is right.

    Now, to fully define God is almost impossible. We can never fully know Him, but the Bible gives us explanations and characteristics of God that are explained to us in a way that humans can understand. We cannot fully understand God. Therefore, God’s nature can be explained in only so many ways cause we cannot understand him completely.

    I am trying to make this short and could go on for days but I have a class to go to. And I am sure this comment will be bashed on by people, but if you take the comment as a whole I think it logically makes sense.

  4. freidenker85 Said:

    Getting,
    welcome to my blog!

    Let me address some of the points you’ve raised in your comment:

    “To bring clarity, I think that Eric’s points can be equally relevant to that of a person that believes in other forms of creationism”

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean.

    “I believe that people that blindly believe in a religion or blindly follow the beliefs of atheism are fools equally. ”

    Here, here. Me too.

    “Both Atheists and Christians such as Eric have to have “faith” and belief in something that doesn’t have 100% facts to back up an argument.”

    Now, we come to a point of disagreement. When Christians (or any theists, for that matter) “have faith”, they have faith in something that they have never seen and are being indoctrinated into that faith. In order to make that faith, a man has to make a metaphysical assumption that is inconsistent with observed reality.

    When atheists make the metaphysical assumptions, some of them intuitively and uncontrollably, they posit a system of standards for what makes things true or not and then TEST this system in the real-world. Christians do NOT do that. Christians presuppose they’ve got all the answers. Whether it be in the bible or in a pastor’s teachings. In any case, Christians put all their faith in an authority that supposedly has the qualifications to have all the answers. Some more humble pastors would say that they don’t have all the answers, but they will ALL say that God does, and he’s not around to give them to us.

    “Both Atheists and Christians such as Eric have to have “faith” and belief in something that doesn’t have 100% facts to back up an argument. Atheists believe in hypothesis based material, which means there are ways to show how the hypothesis has proof of working but doesn’t mean the hypothesis is true.”

    The only thing I have to hold axiomatically as an atheist is the fact that the material world shows signs of consistency, and is observable and it is possible to draw conclusions out of what’s happening in it. This is an axiom because EVERYONE needs to have an axiom. This is also an axiom that I bet you and also Eric himself have: you’ve got personal experience, gained throughout a lifetime of mostly unnoticed trial and error, and you work according to this experience because you axiomatically assume that the past experience, that is, events that occurred and are no more provide a reliable, WORKING hypothesis for what’s going to happen next.

    The main difference is not that Christians and atheists have faith in something that is not 100% correct, the main difference is that the atheist faith does not pre-assume 100%-correctness. Christians assume that God is perfect, omni-potent, omniscient and omni-present. In that respect, anything that happens, according to Christianity, is absolutely the right thing that should happen. God does not make mistakes.

    Atheists, however, do. We make mistakes and we learn from them. The major difference in this case is that atheists make a metaphysical assumption and then TEST it, which makes it in complete contrast to belief. Call it blind belief, call it whatever you want, but “faith” for theists is simply NOT faith for atheists. Evidence-based “faith” is NOT the same as non-evidence-based “faith”.

    “Similar to both sides of the argument, Atheists don’t have all the answers and neither do Christians. Both have to faithfully believe that their answer is right.”

    Wrong again. Christians, perhaps not all of them, but still, according to some Christian doctrine I’ve seen flying around the tubes: DO profess to know all the answers. All the answers boil down to God. Anything they don’t know: God’s the answer.
    I’m an atheist. I do not have to “faithfully believe my answer is right”. This is patently false and is also false for any other scientifically-oriented atheist. I don’t have to faithfully believe that my answer is right, all I have to do is TEST what I think is right or not in the real world.

    The metaphysical assumptions of science notwithstanding – this is something, metaphysically as well, COMPLTELY different than any theist worldview. You could say that going through life while examining evience is wrong and going through life without doing that is right. You could say that and there’s no way, at least that I know of, that I could metaphysically prove you wrong.

    However, I can point out to the hypocrisy of any theist who says that he’s right about a non-evidence based faith because every single Christian, in fact, every human being on the face of the planet, uses evidence-based faith on a daily-basis. It’s “right” for them, and they don’t have to “faithfully believe it”. They simply test it, just like we atheists do. We simply do not bring an exception to this rule when it comes to hypotheses such as God’s.

    “Now, to fully define God is almost impossible. We can never fully know Him, but the Bible gives us explanations and characteristics of God that are explained to us in a way that humans can understand. We cannot fully understand God. Therefore, God’s nature can be explained in only so many ways cause we cannot understand him completely.”

    This is an interesting paragraph. If you cannot fully define God, then you cannot understand Him. In that respect, you could say that it’s useless to do “God’s bidding” or anything else that God says because maybe parts of what you don’t understand of His definition would be in total contrast with what even the bible says. This is a logical problem, not an empirical one. You could skim through the entire bible for self-affirmation in believing every word IN the bible. But if you say something like that – obeying the bible or even interpreting the bible is completely pointless: You do not understand God, and the bible cannot help you do that. Until you DO understand God, everything that you do, in his name or not in his name, could be something that will send you straight to hell and me, the atheist, straight to heaven. Why believe in a God that you do not understand? He could get you into REAL trouble.

    Also, this particular argument i found interesting as well:
    “Therefore, God’s nature can be explained in only so many ways cause we cannot understand him completely.”

    In that case, what’s the point in using God to explain ANYTHING? What does something that no one can understand any no one can actually USE because there’s no way to define it actually explains? If it explains nothing, why even waste time trying to work according to a non-explanation?

    “I am trying to make this short and could go on for days but I have a class to go to. And I am sure this comment will be bashed on by people, but if you take the comment as a whole I think it logically makes sense.”

    This is a small, new, and enterprising blog about all sorts of things other than just creationism, science, etc. I am an atheist, but I’m not a dogmatist atheist. I will NEVER allow “comment bashing” in this blog, but that depends on your definition of “bashing”. Ad hominem attacks make the attacker seem dumber and less credible than the person attacked – so if someone disagrees with you and uses ad hominem attacks as arguments against yours, I think I won’t delete his comments or anything, but I will happily point out that attacking the person and not the person’s arguments is something that makes anyone be a dolt, atheist or not.

    Personally, as you’ve seen, I’ve agreed and disagreed with some of your arguments – I do not think this is “bashing”, I think this is called “debate” or “discussion”. If by “bashing” you mean that some people might disagree with you, then maybe you’re too gentle for online discussions. Some people might disagree with you without even saying why. Don’t let that make you stop having interesting online discussions.

    P.S – it goes without saying that after reviewing your comment and addressing it extensively, I do not find your comment as a whole to make sense. I’d be delighted to be proven wrong.


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