James Brown: Closing Statement


James Brown: Closing Statement

On Evolution

A number of important points have been entertained in this debate and, through discussion; one conclusion has been made unanimously.

"Evolution explains how things happen."

It logically follows that God is unnecessary for the functioning of the Universe, and he is largely irrelevant with regards to his status as an all-powerful being.

The only possibility lies, for my opponent, in the beginning. How things began happening. In order to argue this, my opponent proposes a necessary being as the solution to the slippery-slope of infinite, causal regress.

Despite my probing my opponent has provided no reason why his conception of an arbitrary God (the Christian God) should have any more claim to the title of Necessary Being than any other possibilities: a Necessary Universe, a Necessary uncaused disturbance in the space time continuum or indeed any substance at all.

On First Cause

Why is there something rather than nothing? To clarify I would like to explain.

Some might describe "Space" as nothing, but this would be incorrect. Space is within our framework, we can ascribe to it measurable qualities (the measure of those qualities is likely to be zero) and we understand how it works, like a vacuum in some instances.

A true definition of nothing is therefore randomness. Randomness cannot be ascribed a value as it is in and of itself indefinable, a singularity you might say, like infinity. So it follows that if before there was something there must have been nothing then, before there was anything unified, there must have been randomness.

Now randomness, if it is truly random, can produce something non-random, in fact on an infinite timeline (and I am using the word "time" very loosely) non-randomness is inevitable. A simple example is a self-replicating cell. Put on a long enough timeline of random cell creation with random properties, a self-replicating cell will inevitably be produced. Once it exists then it will thrive at a rate that makes all other cells (which will only last a single generation or will otherwise be inert) insignificant. This model can be applied at every level. Modern science can fill in the gaps to the present.

It is therefore unremarkable that there is something rather than nothing, and this is consistent with evolution's growth from simplicity to complexity. Christianity expects that complexity came first (in the form of God) and then we started at zero, and over 15billion years established complexity again (put like this, this sounds a little far-fetched) and there is of course no evidence for this claim.

This shows that not only is God unnecessary for the functioning of the world, but is unnecessary as a first cause, in fact it makes him a completely arbitrary possibility among infinite other possibilities.

On Science

Throughout my opponents argument he has tended to use science much like a drunk uses a lamppost, to lean on rather than to light the way.

Science drives religion, in so much as it comes into conflict with religion's contradictions and breaks through the stubbornness of dogma opening our eyes to the reality of the world in which we live. Religion is driven to change in order to continue its existence. Each time science provides us with an answer; it robs religion of one more appeal to ignorance.

On Morality

We have established that it a necessary truth that in order to know that a God is good, and wants good from us, we must have a way of calculating what is "good" independently of his authority. This shows that God is also unnecessary as a moral authority.

On Hell

My opponent has, after much probing, conceded that in the Christian paradigm:

"It is possible that people go to hell. There is no salvation outside of Christ. He is the judge."

The tone alone of this statement is one of frustration, frustration that he has had to admit the darker side of Christianity. But what does this really mean? Well, firstly, it means that I am going to hell, and will be keeping company with:

Helen Keller
John Lennon
Charles Darwin
Ernest Hemingway
Abraham Lincoln
Albert Einstein
Sigmund Freud
Björk
Isaac Asimov
Mark Twain
Albert Einstein
Socrates
Gandhi

The list goes on and on....

I just wonder how my opponent will feel sitting in heaven with the knowledge that not only the "bad" people but also some of the greatest people, who ever lived, are suffering unimaginable tortures for eternity. Knowing this, is not Heaven likely to be an uneasy place for anyone with compassion?

It seems to me that we have a bleak future with Christianity, for the "good" and the "bad." However, there is nothing to fear in reality, because this story is not true.

Conclusion

My opponent has failed to show that the any God is necessary for our existence. Nor has he shown that a specifically Christian God, that we cannot perceive, is more likely to exist than not. He has placed heavy emphasis on aspects of the universe that are outside our epistemic access, on inaccurate and agenda-filled texts (including the Bible) and on stalemating questions about our cognitive faculties which only serve to undermine his position.

Every one of us, at one stage in our lives asks what am I here for? People from the beginning of time have invented Gods to give them purpose, and reasons for the unexplainable. So, what is my purpose? I would propose that the reason we exist is to continue existing, the rest is up to us.

Pascal's wager says that it is in your best interest to believe in God because without belief you would, at best only push up daisies and at worst miss out on your afterlife bliss, and be condemned to fiery hell. But Pascal's wagering on death serves to make earthly life irrelevant. To this, Nietzsche would propose that this is the nihilism of life, and leads one to make a choice (an investment in Pascal's wager) in the words of Tim Robbins (from The Shawshank Redemption):

"You either get busy living or get busy dying."

We should stop looking for reasons to void reality of the wonder it deserves. It is an understatement to say that we are lucky to be here. We, as humans, are the recipients of millions of years of successful genetic history, and the inhabitants of a planet that has by fortune had the rare life supporting properties that millions of other planets lack.

I see no miracle in God parting the waters, turning water to wine or resurrecting his holy son. These are stories told to explain away the wondrous conditions of life. It is chance that has brought us to this point and to this level of existence but this does not mean to say that it is a coincidence that we can now question that existence.

James Brown
JBrown@slingshot.co.nz

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