James Replies to Rebuttals

James Replies to Rebuttals

(1) My opponent does not understand what I mean by the following statement; please allow me to explain.

"As for the impossible co-existence of evolution and the Christian God, of course I concede that anything is possible"

When I say that "anything is possible" I mean this in the sense that it is "possible" that the earth will open up and swallow us all tomorrow, but although this is "possible" we can all rest assured that everything we know, cognitively, leads us to believe this will not happen, it leads us to believe that this is "impossible." This is what I mean when I say "possible" and "impossible."

I have established throughout this debate that God (and especially a specific Christian God) is not necessary for our existence. My opponent has conceded, "...evolution explains how things happen..." In order to make this lead to the "impossible co-existence of evolution and God" I would have to apply, what I would like to call, Brown's Razor.

"An abstract concept should not be made physical beyond necessity"

(2) My opponent is obviously steadfast in his views that Jesus was resurrected. It is clear from his objections to my suggestions of inaccuracy, perspective, subjectivity etc, that this is purely faith-based.

He has argued that Jesus' disciples would not have invented a story in which their Messiah would die, which fails to interact at all, because I was not positing that he did not die, but that he was not resurrected. Might I remind my opponent that dying is not supernatural? And then my opponent goes on to say that the claims of the resurrection are satisfactorily consistent. This once again misses the point that the Bible, as a whole, has inconsistencies, and therefore is not a reliable source of information, and is certainly not justification for believing in the supernatural.

(3) The point my opponent is missing with this cognitive faculty debacle is that if I am correct in advocating atheism and if this means we cannot trust our cognitive faculties and if our cognitive faculties happen to actually be incorrect, then it is not just my cognitive faculties that are incorrect but his as well. This is why, assuming this debate itself has validity, we MUST assume that, despite the possibility they are not, that our cognitive faculties must be correct.

I might add that, my opponent has not provided any evidence that if a God exists, that this God has provided us with correct cognitive faculties. In fact there is fairly good evidence all around us that if there is a God then he is contradictory to our cognitive faculties. For one he expects us to "transcend" our cognitive faculties in order to conceive him (something cognitively inaccessible). He also leaves evidence of a system that negates the need for him as designer, and expects us to overlook this in favour of an arbitrary concept.

On this particular point I believe that a natural process has provided me with correct cognitive faculties and my opponent believes that a God has provided him with correct cognitive faculties. The belief that our cognitive faculties are correct is one held by both of us, and for the purposes of this debate must be so. Neither of us is in a position to prove the reliability of our cognitive faculties, regardless of our beliefs. This, by the way, is fine because this is not under debate; it is an assumption we MUST both make in order to have any debate AT ALL.

(4) In order for us to know that God is good, and therefore telling us to do good things we must have some way of calculating this independently of him. Otherwise we are just following blindly. This is a necessary fact.

I have shown that the moral objectivity, of which my opponent speaks, is actually prescribed morality. And so; replacing moral objectivity with prescribed morality....

changing   If morality is purely objective, then moral argument cannot exist

to   If morality is purely prescriptive, then moral argument cannot exist

Then the above statement is necessarily true. This is because without a calculation independent of authority we are unable to argue with any meaning.

(5) My opponent does not seem to realize that his interpretation, and it is an interpretation, of specified complexity in nature, is begging the question. He has asked me to provide criteria for design, which is irrelevant. My opponent's argument is affirming the consequent, which is logically fallacious.

Design creates specified complexity.

We are complex...

Therefore we must have been designed.

I will restate also that whether we are specifically complex or not is a moot point. This is a weak induction on the part of my opponent. Therefore it is irrelevant that design creates specified complexity.

However, I will humour my opponent by adding that a designed object looks designed precisely because it could not have occurred through an autonomous, natural process. This is clearly a very important point, since we have already established that "...evolution explains how things happen" and evolution is an autonomous process. I think that puts the ridiculous "atheism of the gaps" statement out of the picture. A note, a "God of the Gaps" occurs when there is a gap in the scientific record. I don't quite understand how "Atheism of the Gaps" can exist, as there isn't a scientific record of God at all, perhaps my opponent is trying to allow for gaps in his argument. Anyway, this is all academic, as I have said; my opponent is essentially begging the question.

James Brown

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