A.L.: First Rebuttal


First Rebuttal

In my opening statement, I said that I will defend two contentions: that there are no good reasons to believe that God does not exist and there are good reasons to believe God exists.

First Contention

My opponent said that he believes "there is a place for Religions of all types in society, even a necessity for it in the interests of maintaining a healthy balance; I just believe that the actual concept is false." What he has to show is that the concept of religion is false. He attempted to do so by arguing from evolution. He said that "if proven evolution negates the need for a designer." However, I do not see how evolution negates the need for a designer at all. God can create man through evolution. God and evolution are compatible and therefore evolution does not necessarily negate God.

I also see how my opponent ignored what I said about the problem of atheism. I asked him why we should trust our cognitive faculties if naturalism is true. He had no answer. Relying on evolution as my opponent did does not give any real solution to this problem. It simply adds more problems.

In "Naturalism Defeated," Plantinga argues that P(R/N&E) is very low. R standing for reliability of our cognitive faculties, N for metaphysical naturalism and E for contemporary evolutionary theory. Also, he says that N&E defeats R. This is because evolution does not care about beliefs, but survival. J.P. Moreland says:

'All that would be needed for survival value would be consistency. If an amoeba saw an enemy that was really large, and a thing that was really small was seen as large, as long as it could see things consistently, it could survive, evolutionary speaking. It would not need to have the truth or see accurately.'

and:

 'An evolutionary picture of an organism views it as a functional unit that receives input from its environment and gives output and advances to a new state ready to receive new input as it struggles for reproductive advantage. But such a functional view of organism is inadequate. On this view, the teleological, goal-directed behavior of an organism is reduced to natural properties and capacities. These, in turn, are selected because of their function in reproductive advantage. But a given functional state defined in terms of input/output is compatible with a potentially infinite number of internal states of the organism. For example, two organisms can "see" red functionally if each can scan the same room and sort the same objects (e.g. separate the red objects from the rest). But this functional sorting capacity is compatible with the fact that one organism sees red objects as red while sorting and the other sees red objects as blue. This is called the problem of inverted qualia, and it shows that an organism does not need to see objects accurately to sort them. Now if an organism had systematic error (e.g. saw large objects as small and vice versa, felt warm objects as cold and vice versa) the organism could functionally win in a struggle for survival without accurately representing the world. Thus, truth obtaining faculties are not necessary for survival and such faculties are underdetermined vis--vis other capacities in light of the functional demands of survival.' (Does God Exist? The Debate Between Theists and Atheists by J.P. Moreland and Kai Nielsen, page 60, 63)

In other words, if naturalism and evolutionary theory is true, then our cognitive faculties are not reliable. If they are not reliable, then how do we know naturalism is true? Naturalism seems to be self-defeating.

As Darwinist Atheist philosopher Michael Ruse said:

 'Why should a bunch of atoms have thinking ability? Why should I, even as I write now, be able to reflect on what I am doing and why should you, even as you read now, be able to ponder my points, agreeing or disagreeing, with pleasure or pain, deciding to refute me or deciding that I am just not worth the effort? No one, certainly not the Darwinian as such, seems to have any answer to this...The point is that there is no scientific answer.' (Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 2001, page 73)

The best explanation for the reliability of our cognitive faculties is that God did not make life evolved naturally at least in the case of the human person.

My opponent also said: "These computer simulations of the evolutionary process work with millions of behaviors that are tested in a particular environment or set of parameters that dictate whether they are successful or unsuccessful in a given situation." However, I do not see how this proves naturalism at all. The first reason why it does not prove it is because it is a non-sequitur. Just because computers can simulate evolutionary processes, it does not mean it happened naturally. The second reason is that this does not explain DNA, which I said supported the existence of God in my opening statement. Dr. Stephen Meyer states:

 'Darwinists admit that natural selection requires a self-replicating organism to work. Organisms reproduce, their offspring have variations, the ones that are better adapted to their environment survive better, and so those adaptations are preserved and passed on the next generation. However, to have reproduction, there has to be cell division. And that presupposes the existence of information-rich DNA and proteins. But that's the problem--those are the very things they're trying to explain! In other words, you've got to have a self-replicating organism for Darwinian evolution to take place, but you can't have a self-replicating organism, until you have the information necessary in DNA, which is what you're trying to explain in the first place.' (The Case For A Creator by Lee Strobel, page 230-231)

So far, we can see how naturalism is not conclusive as my opponent thinks it is.

Second Contention

Here I will defend my reasons for believing in the existence of God.

Metaphysical Arguments

Thomistic Cosmological Argument

My opponent claimed that the Thomistic argument and the Kalam argument are identical. He said, "When pointed out it becomes obvious that these arguments are identical, one referring to the 'need for a cause' as just that and the other referring to the 'need for a cause' as dependency." However, anyone who has read my opening statement can see how they are not identical. The Thomistic argument argued for a now-and-here cause while the Kalam argument argues for a cause of the universe. The Thomistic argument also has a different premise, namely, that every dependent, contingent being has a cause while the Kalam argument has the premise that says that whatever begins to exist needs a cause.

As for the Thomistic argument itself, my opponent argues: "Well there is a simple answer to this, and that is Contingent beings exist because they exist." However, this does not make any sense. The only way he can say this is if he thinks that contingent beings are necessary. But this is simply false since a being must either have in its own essence to exist or it does not. It cannot be both.

He also said that "contingency" is a concept created by human beings. I would simply like to respond by saying that even though it is a "created" concept, it is certainly meaningful and it applies to reality; there are certainly things which do not have in its own essence to exist. My opponent does not deny that premise. In fact, he did not dispute any of my premises at all. If non self-existing beings exist, then there must be a self-existing being. This is what we call God.

Kalam Cosmological Argument

My opponent objects to this argument by asking: "If everything that exists needs a cause then if god exists, what caused God?" However, if anyone reads my argument, one can see that nowhere in my premise does it say that "everything needs a cause." Rather, what it says is that whatever begins to exist needs a cause.

He misinterpreted the first premise and did not address the second premise. If both premises are true and logical, then the conclusion must be true.

What about the question "What caused God?" I already answered this in my opening, showing that there cannot be an infinite number of causes. [1] So therefore it seems to be plausible to believe that there must be an uncaused cause of the universe.

Arguments for a Divine/Intelligent Mind

Principle of Finality

My opponent objects to this by arguing for evolution. He said, "that is the complex process of trial and error that shapes the world and the 'create'-tures within it, moves towards more complex and useful entities." However, this does not at all prove that agents do not act toward an end. This does not show that the eye is made for seeing, the ear for hearing, etc. He may argue from natural selection, but this does not help. Mechanisms cannot logically exclude an Intelligent Designer. Natural selection shows how things happened, not the reason why they happened. Why must the eye see and not hear? Why must the leg walk and not see? Why must the wing fly and not walk? The fact that there is unity, extrinsic and intrinsic end, shows that there must be a final cause as well as an efficient cause. The efficient cause is the power and the final cause is the reason for acting. There must be a reason why it acts in order to act. The reason for this is, as I have said, there is an Intelligent Designer which made this to be so.

From Unity

He objected to this by saying: 'The reason the world has evolved in a unified way need not be handed over to the almighty. It is a plain fact that all of the world's systems entities that do not work in harmony with the world do not thrive.' However, this does not interact with the argument at all. He must provide for us an explanation how something unintelligent is capable of grasping the extension of the multiple into a unity of conception. As I have said, it takes an idea to do this and more specifically, a Divine Mind.

From Abstract Entities

My opponent said: "I'd like to point out that if Plantinga's theory is correct, and that god has thought of every idea before we have in order for us to be able to think of it, then this proves that we are unable to have original thoughts, and therefore are incapable of free will, and therefore god is responsible for every decision we make."

I do not see how we cannot have original thoughts if there is a Divine Mind. I can certainly imagine a red mountain and this is in some way "original" since I am thinking of it. Nonetheless, this does not affect the argument at all. Abstract objects are something we discover. We discover properties, not create them. However, there are many abstract objects we have not discovered. They simply cannot just be there. They must be thought of. In an atheistic worldview, this is a problem. To the theist, there is no problem since God is who thinks them.

Does this mean that we have no free will? This is a ridiculous conclusion from two premises which are non-sequiturs. First, God does not "put" thoughts in us. We think of them ourselves. Second, I can think of the number 3 and my opponent can as well. This does not mean that he does not think them or I do not think them. This does not mean that I "put" the number 3 in his head. So too can God can have the number 3 in His mind and still not "put" it in our minds.

Scientific Evidence

Here, my opponent says that there are an infinite amount of possible universes so we cannot talk about probabilities. This does not have to be a problem. William Lane Craig says "we can simply stipulate some appropriately fine-grained standard of deviation, so that only a finite number of universes are designatable within a finite area" (Does God Exist? The Craig-Flew Debate by William Lane Craig and Antony Flew edited by Stan W. Wallace, Ashgate Publishing, 2003).

My opponent says: "If there are infinite possibilities for this probability then the outcome of intelligent life is not only a strong possibility but it is an inevitability." This, however, misses the point. It isn't that there are many possibilities of a universe, but the possibility of possible universes within a local group. Of course there are many possible universes, but the question is, with the same known variables in the universe, what are the chances they are finely tuned? For example, in regards of the electron to proton mass, if it is larger or smaller, it would be insufficient for chemical bonding. [2]

My opponent also ignored the evidence from DNA. DNA is not only complex, but it is also specified. [3]

We therefore have support from science that the universe is designed.

Argument from Morality

My opponent attempted to rebut this argument by arguing from moral relativism. He said, "First of all, the absolute statement that objective moral values exist is not only debatable but is most likely completely false." To argue from this, he said:

'For example 'thou shalt not kill' an 'objective' moral rule states that a man who kills a rapist in the defense of his wife has made an immoral choice. This is to my mind incorrect, if you disagree this only stands to prove my next point. There are many situations where people will act in different ways when confronted with a situation, both believing they have made a moral choice and thinking the other has made an immoral one. This clearly shows that there is no such thing as objective moral values, and it certainly shows that we do not all 'know' that they exist.'

However, his logic is a non-sequitur. Morality is not determined by situations, but conditioned by them. It determines them partly, not wholly. What situation does is make a deed right. Killing for self-defense makes killing not murder. Therefore killing for self-defense is not wrong. Also, this does not prove moral relativism, but situational relativism. For example, murder is wrong, but one must "kill" someone for self-defense. Just because the situations are relative, it does not follow that morality is relative.

Notice how my opponent had to believe that there are no objective moral values. This would mean that September 11 is not really wrong in and of itself. If this is so, then what really prevents us from thinking that we should not murder? Is it simply because of society? If this so, let us imagine a scenario. Let's imagine there are only two people in the world. There is no society and no one is telling them what is acceptable and what is not. Would it be wrong for person A to kill person B for no good reason? To the theist, the answer is yes. To my opponent, the answer is no. [4]

Resurrection of Christ

My opponent objected to this by saying that an extraordinary claim needs an extraordinary proof. But this is simply an arbitrary rule. If a person claimed, "I am the best boxer in the world," does he need an "extraordinary" proof? And by what standards do we call something "extraordinary" ? My opponent also fails to interact with the four facts from the New Testament that the majority of New Testament scholars claim to be historical. Even critics of the resurrection do not object to the four facts I have presented. For example, Gerd Ludemann believes that the experiences of the disciples are "historically certain." [5]

He also seems not to be aware of the arguments presented by Biblical archaeologists, showing that archaeology supports the New Testament. For example, Sir William Ramsay has said that Luke is an "historian of the first rank."

So far, my opponent has not interacted with this argument and this argument is an important aspect of the Christian faith. [6]

Existential Argument

My opponent says: "That is that the desires that are fulfilled on earth: Food, Sex, Sleep are not fulfilled perfectly and are only temporarily satisfied and therefore it does not stand to reason that anything else should be satisfied absolutely, like happiness." However, the difference between the desire of food, sex, sleep, and perfect happiness is that the latter is a desire for perfection while the others are not.

In speaking of this "drive" my opponent says: "To be clear this 'drive' I am talking about plays a similar role as the 'spirit' does, however drive is caused through evolution, it is a trait not gifted but survived. Along with those with drive the trait itself has also survived and become more clearly defined." The problem with this is that happiness is not a necessary factor for survival. Evolution does not explain our desire for perfect happiness. Our desire for perfect happiness, therefore, is best explained by the fact that God "inserted" this drive in us so that we look forward to be with Him forever.

Conclusion

So far, my 9 arguments for God's existence have not been refuted and we have yet to hear any good reason to believe that God does not exist.

A.L.

Words: 2900+ (not counting endnotes)


Notes

[1] I gave many reasons why there cannot be an infinite number of causes, both in the Thomistic and Kalam Cosmological arguments.

[2] Dr. Hugh Ross, in Design Evidences in the Cosmos, calculated dependency factors, longevity requirements, the 75 necessary parameters, and the maximum possible numbers of planets in the universe, and concluded: "Much less than 1 chance in a hundred thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion exists that even one such [life-permitting] planet would occur anywhere in the universe."

[3] Stephen Meyer's "Telological Evolution: The Difference it Doesn't Make" in Darwinism Defeated? The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins by Phillip E. Johnson and Denis Lamoureux (Regent College, 1999).

[4] See also "Moral Relativism Refuted" at http://www.biblicalcatholic.com/apologetics/p17.htm

[5] What Really Happened to Jesus? (Loiusville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995)

[6] I can also argue from 1 Corinthians 15, which is held to be a pre-Pauline tradition.

go to previousgo to previous statement Back to Latar vs. Brown Debate go to next statementgo to next


Back to Philosophy Articles

Back to Home Page

About | Apologetics | Philosophy | Spirituality | Books | Audio | Links