James Answers A's Questions


James Answers A's Questions

(1) You said, "As for the impossible co-existence of evolution and the Christian god, of course I concede that anything is possible." It seems to me that you have contradicted yourself here. You have claimed that evolution and God is impossible. Yet, here you say that "anything is possible." You have been arguing that evolution negates the existence of God. However, you have not shown that the co-existence of evolution and God is impossible. My question is, how do you resolve the contradiction above and what is your proof on the impossibility of the co-existence of God and evolution?

To clarify the above please read through the complete quote in context.

'As for the impossible co-existence of evolution and the Christian god, of course I concede that anything is possible. Now my opponent in his characteristically obtuse way has picked on this as a flaw in my argument. Well good spotting, however anything is only possible (including the existence of the Christian God) if our cognitive faculties are incorrect, when I hope we have resolved that cannot be for the sake of this argument. My opponent has used this distraction to bypass the rest of the argument.'

(2) If Jesus was not raised from the dead, what natural explanation is there?

In asking this question my opponent assumes that there are only two types of explanations in this world, natural explanations and supernatural explanations.

To his question there is no natural explanation. However, this does in no way lead to the answer that my opponent has concluded. This is because it is a flawed assumption that there are only natural and supernatural explanations to historical accounts. I agree that there are two types of explanation also: the natural, and the more elusive human explanation. The human explanation is one of subjectivity, perspective, manipulation, inaccuracy, misunderstanding, misleading, motive, identity… the list goes on. Any one of these elements in human nature can explain this account of the supernatural.

  • Subjectivity -- Followers would feel a deep sense of resentment towards the oppressive forces, and would therefore act in such a way as to prevent such oppression, by creating a document that will encourage other disillusioned people to join with them.
  • Perspective -- Ill-educated and desperate people will more readily believe the unbelievable if it gives them hope. (By this I do not mean to imply that my opponent is ill-educated. Actually, if anything I mean quite the opposite -- and this is covered next)
  • Manipulation -- By having the means to create a document and distribute it to a large group of people, a small group of people has immense power to manipulate the masses.
  • Inaccuracy -- There are many inaccuracies (inconsistencies) between and within the individual gospels, how many (consistent) inaccuracies cannot be known.
  • Misunderstanding -- This could come in many forms: if Jesus wasn't completely dead when taken from the cross or if the Jews were correct that followers took the body. There are many points at which impressionable 'witnesses' could have been mistaken.
  • Misleading -- The Bible is a vehicle to spread the word of God. The more interesting it is the more people will follow, each giving more power to the powers that be, not to God. The powers that be are likely to embellish the truth if it serves to increase their power.
  • Motive -- There could be many motives, two from each end of the spectrum are: the charitable wish to give hope to those who have none and the will to power
  • Identity -- The disciples were defined by their relationship to Jesus. Nothing would convince them to give up their identity, their existence, as we know it, not even the truth. This is also how evangelism works today by finding disillusioned people with nothing to identify with, and giving them an answer, any answer regardless of truth.

These are just a few elements of the human explanation that show that whether by good or bad intentions or by mistake humans do not always speak the truth, especially when faced with ill-education, oppression and dogma.

(3) You said, "I for one agree with you that if Atheism is correct then I cannot completely trust my cognitive faculties." If that is so, then why should we think that atheism is correct when we cannot trust your cognitive faculties?

I have explained the need for us to trust our cognitive faculties in order to have this debate a number of times, quite clearly. If you don't understand this you need to re-read my previous answers. I have just two points to add to make it perfectly clear just how terminal this argument is:

To say 'I cannot completely trust my cognitive faculties' does not mean that I believe my cognitive faculties are incorrect; in fact I believe that it is very unlikely that they are incorrect.

This seems a frankly silly line of questioning from someone who's beliefs actually require them to disbelieve the reality of their cognitive faculties eg, believing in miracles, heaven, the spirit and a host of other supernatural instances, all of which are outside of all of our cognitive experience.

(4) In your "proof" for moral relativism, one of your premises was "If morality is purely objective, then moral argument cannot exist." Since you are arguing in a modal-logic form, you must prove that the premise is necessarily true in order for the conclusion to be sound. What proof is there for this?

If there is moral objectivity from dictation rather than reason then there is no moral argument. In order to have an argument both parties must be open to weigh the evidence of each other's argument. Christianity's morality is unchangeable and therefore ignorant of moral argument.

I believe that there is a point to striving toward moral truth, but it is a process that must take into account people's physical, mental and situational differences. In the morality I speak of every moral situation should bare a moral argument, even within the individual. This is because stubborn dogmatic rules cannot always be applied to complex situations.

It is a misnomer that Christianity's morals are 'objective' as they are only objective in the sense that they are inflexible. This kind of dogma halts the process of moral debate, moral responsibility, and moral consciousness and in fact halts the whole search for any kind of moral truth.

(5) If specified complexity isn't a criteria for design what is your criteria for something that is designed?

In order to answer this I need to clarify what is meant by specified complexity. I was previously assuming that by specified complexity my opponent was meaning a complexity that can be specified, read, quantified or measured. I have already explained how this type of specified complexity can arise naturally, and therefore does not require design.

It now appears my opponent means 'specified complexity' as that which is specified in a design sense, meaning the complexity was specified in order for it to exist. To say that the universe's complexity is specified in this way is clearly begging the question.

Furthermore your question is (intentionally or unintentionally) confusing, Whether or not specified complexity is a criterion for design is completely irrelevant. I think what you want to know is 'If design isn't a criteria for specified complexity, what is design a criteria for?' after all you are trying to prove design not specified complexity. So now that I have made your question into something of any consequence at all, let me answer.

Above I have explained two types of specified complexity; one specified (read) after, and two specified (written) before. Design is a criterion for only the second type of specification, and as I have said when this interacts with our debate it only begs the question.

James Brown
JBrown@slingshot.co.nz

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