Sunday, June 12, 2011

Challenge to "honest Christians" Reveals Irrationality of Atheism

PhotobucketRobin Yergenson is offline
File footage of college debaters


Robin Yergenson is an atheist on CARM who always puts up a thread asking for "an honest Christian to discuss with him." He doesn't get involved in other threads much but jsut sticks to that one thread driving home his argument. He doesn't do the mocking thing like so many of them, and hating long threads as I do, I decided to answer him here. He says:


I have been trying to get intellectually honest Christians to engage in a meaningful way (no heckling please). Here is the argument that I would appreciate intellectually honest engagement on:
Implies that most Christians are not intellectual or honest. I'll let that pass as it's half right (most are not intellectual--most of any group is not intellectual).

He states:

"Christianity can be shown to be false by demonstrating the contradiction that exists in two of its most fundamental tenets, namely:"
a) The claim that escaping God’s judgment to all mankind prior to and independent of any actions of our own requires belief in Jesus' resurrection.

b) The claim that God is just (that He renders that which is due).

Statement a is a rough approximation dependent upon how literalistic one cares to get. There are those who try to say that accepting on faith is a "work" and requires us to "do something." I always think that is semantics and kit picking. If that's the source of his contradiction he's just imposing a Calvinist spin on all the faith. He goes on:


The following logical progression demonstrates the contradiction:
1. As rational beings, our success at arriving at an accurate knowledge base for guiding our choices and actions correlates to a great degree with our ability to be rational, in particular, to correctly associate and integrate effects with their causes. This is what rational beings ought to do.

2. Since a supernatural/miraculous cause is a cause that is not constrained by natural preconditions (natural laws, causal chains, etc.), miracles are in principle always a possible cause for every event or existent yet, erroneously appealing to the miraculous as a cause can have devastatingly adverse consequences which we ought not do.

3. To avoid adverse consequences, we ought to believe in miracles only when it is justified and rational (for example, when the miraculous event can be demonstrated on demand and when it can be shown that a natural explanation is not at least a possibility).

4. Concluding miracles as a cause prior to it being justified is in effect allowing a belief in miracles to erode and undermine rationality, and is therefore unjustified, irrational, and immoral (acts that one ought not do).

5. Therefore, a God that requires rational beings to do what is unjustified, irrational and immoral in order to escape His judgment is an unjust God, and a God who also eternally torments all those who fail to do so is an extremely unjust God.

6. Further, this injustice does not depend upon whether or not arbitrary belief in miracles is in fact irrational, unjustified, and immoral or not. A God that requires rational beings to do what they genuinely consider to be irrational, unjustified, and immoral and who eternally torments all those who fail to do so, is an extremely unjust God.
On the surface this sounds like a logically well thought out objectionable but it's actually based upon circular reasoning. It's not valid logically to assert that it's a contradiction because it doesn't contradict internal principles of the faith but mere clashes with principles he is imposing from outside the faith, ie his own opinion. The charge that it's contradictory merely falls apart ton the grounds that it's not a true contradiction with itself but merely with what he believes already. I suspect this is what most atheists really mean by "contradiction." Let's exampine each step to see that this is true:


(1) If read carefully this is actually a tautology becuase what it really says is "rational people should be rational." We are going to find that what he really means by rational is observing his concepts and rules of interpretation. This is what makes his argument circular in nature, his premise rests upon his conclusion because he defines his criterion of "reason" by the conclusion that his views are right. He's in effect saying "a rational person will agree with me, Christianity doesn't agree with me, therefore Christianity is not rational." I'll show this as we go through ech step.

(2) erroneously appealing to the miraculous as a cause can have devastatingly adverse consequences which we ought not do. Of course this is also circular since if God is real and Jesus' death is true doctrine then God would be the determiner of both rationality and the truth of miracles, not us and not Yergensen. He says that miracles are not constrained by physical conditions but they are. This is allowed by the will of God, but they are so constrained. This is so becuase miracles are not just wild events that can happen any old time, they must be in line with God's and God's timing, they don't contradict the nature but merely impose a higher order which the natural is predisposed to obey. This is what is meant by "ground and end of the natural." See Eugene R. Fairweather, "Christianity and the Sueprpntrual" New Theology no One, ed Martin E. Marty, 1964. God is the source of all reason. God's timing for supernatural effects (miracles) are not based upon irrationality.


He states: "miracles are in principle always a possible cause for every event or existent..." I deny that assertion and it seems unsupported. That's like saying our being wrong about the nature of the universe is always a possibly, therefore, all theories about the universe should be considered untrue. All he's really arguing is that we should have a prmia facie reason for arguing form sign in favor of miracles.That's fine. There is no problem with that, but once having accepted the Principe that God is real and can alter the course of the natural at any time we don't have to keep proving it again and again every time we wish to assert it. We assume that not every occasion will be chalked up to miracles and to make that assertion for any given occasion requires a warranted analysis.

(3) This basically says what I just said, only believe in miracles when conditions of explainable warrant. I agree with that in a given case but on the proviso that any given case could be such a case based upon the warrant.

(4) he says that if we believe in miracles without warrant it erodes rationality. I suggest first that this an attempt to impose his ideologically driven definition of rationally upon belief. He's essentially saying "rational means agreeing with my world view, my wolrd view rejects miracles, therefore it's not rational to believe in miracles." I think this is what he's really driving at because unless he's willing accept the possibility of miracles as a principle then he's never going to accept any warrant for belief in miracle in any given situation. All appeal to miracles will always undermine rationality. This is what I mean by circular reasoning:

(a) miracles don't' happen becuase they undermine rationality

(b) we know they undermine rationality undermine rationality
because they don't happen.

(c) all previous evidence for miracles must be set aside becuase it can't prove miracles because there is no evidence to prove miracles, since that would be irrational.

to say it another way: we know miracles are false becuase they are irrational, and we know they are irrational because they are false.

(5.) Therefore, a God that requires rational beings to do what is unjustified, irrational and immoral in order to escape His judgment is an unjust God, and a God who also eternally torments all those who fail to do so is an extremely unjust God.

This one takes circular reasoning to the level of an art form. He's saying miracles are irrational so a God that would require belief in irrational things is bad. Belief in miracles is only irrational if miracles are untrue, miracles are only untrue if there is no God. If God is real then God is not requiring something irrational by teaching us that miracles are real too. Agin he's only imposing his own opinions in a truth by stipulation then using that (what should be a conclusion)as the basis of his premise. That is circular reasoning. Conclusions are to be rested on premises, not vice versa.

(6) Just says if God requires me to believe in things I don't believe then he's bad, he's unethical and thus if God is unethical he can't be real. If God is real then miracles are real so he's not requiring us to believe in falsehood but in truth. The rejection miracles is not a moral move but a self indulgent one. Now raising circular reasoning to an art form here is the grand circle of this argument:

God can't be real because if he is then he must be unethical. God is unethical becasue he wants me to bleieve in something that is unethical to believe in because it's upon belief in untrue things. Therefore God can't be real because if he was he would be unreal since he's unethical,.

the problem is if God is real he's not unethical because the ethical thing would be to accept truth. The premise (God is unreal) is based upon the conclusion (that God is unreal). In reality belief in Jesus as the source of one's salvation is not based upon the assertion that any and all natural causes could be miracles but only one miracle, the resurrection of Christ, maybe two if we include the incarnation. If we accept a heretical adoption theology then we only need one miracle (res) and if we make the resurrection symbolic then Christianity doesn't require any miracles. Therefore, he's not dealing with real contradiction that set Christian belief in opposition to his own premises. He's merely asserting privilege for his own that he hasn't' earned through logic.


Since such faith systems claim that God requires just such irrational, unjustified, and immoral belief and since they also claim that God is just, an internal contradiction exists within their fundamental tenets demonstrating them to be false systems which none of you should be holding to.
It's only that if it's not real. Since faith in God is a matter of understanding reality, then belief = assumption of God's reality, which invalided the ethical clauses in the statement: Belief in God is not irrational, unjustified or immoral if it's true. But he's basing the truth of it upon the assertion that belief in it is those things, irratioinal, unjustified, that's assuming his premises not proving them it's assuming them! His only proof that this is the nature of the cause is his assertion that if they were true it would be unethical to believe. He then asserts that it is and use that as the crux of the unethical belief. That is so circular he's chasing his tail.

It cannot in principle be unethical or unjustified to believe the truth! If God is real then God is truth. If God is truth it can't be unjustified to believe in truth. It can't be unethical to believe in truth. When one places trust in God and accepts belief one is accepting the realist of God. No one believes in God thinking God is false.

I know that truth matters to you all. It matters to me too, deeply. I hope we can take advantage of the opportunity that exists between us to expose the error.


If truth really mattered to him deeply as he claims wouldn't he be considering the reality of God yes or no, up front rather than seeking na excuse to rule God out of the equation based upon privileging his position of doubt? All this circular reasoning can't really be understood as very rational. He's the one advocating irrationality. 5 and 6 are basically basically just begging the question. The only proof he ever advances for his assertions is the potential of the unethical nature of requiring belief in falsehood, yet that's the reason for thinking it's false it's just begging the question rather than proving it false.

This circuital trick is rampant all over atheism. All atheists are basically making these same assertions.

9 comments:

Robert said...

Hello, I read through your response and it doesn't seem to me that your objections are substantive. In fact, many of your charges against Robin most readily apply to yourself. Here are some of your major errors.

You wrote,

If read carefully this is actually a tautology becuase what it really says is "rational people should be rational."..., his premise rests upon his conclusion because he defines his criterion of "reason" by the conclusion that his views are right.

That's not what Robin is saying at all. What he is saying is that our well-being depends on being rational, not that "rational people should be rational". If you disagree, please demonstrate the opposite: that our well-being depends on being irrational. Otherwise, his point 1 is taken as true.

Of course this is also circular since if God is real and Jesus' death is true doctrine then God would be the determiner of both rationality and the truth of miracles, not us and not Yergensen.

This objection is circular, for it essentially asserts "If Christianity is true, then what it says about God is true." It's illogical to argue against objections to Christianity by assuming Christianity is true in the first place.

I deny that assertion and it seems unsupported. That's like saying our being wrong about the nature of the universe is always a possibly, therefore, all theories about the universe should be considered untrue.

Again, not at all. What Robin is saying is that every event can be explained by appealing to the miraculous, but doing so can be detrimental to our well-being. For instance, if I regard the burning sensation in my heart as the work of devils or djinns, when I'm really just having a heart-attack, I can die as a result of calling a priest rather than an ambulance.

His point 3 follows from this. One should only believe in a miraculous explanation when it is warranted (justified) to do so. Only then would it be rational.

He's essentially saying "rational means agreeing with my world view, my wolrd view rejects miracles, therefore it's not rational to believe in miracles."

This is so off the mark, I'm not sure you're reading what he's saying.

No where did Robin reject miracles. Such an assertion is a straw man. All his previous points explicitly permit the possibility of miracles. (This is actually the beauty of his argument).

What Robin is saying is that if you don't have a justified reason for regarding a certain event as miraculous, then you're being irrational by putting your well-being in danger (point 1).

(continued...)

Robert said...

He's saying miracles are irrational so a God that would require belief in irrational things is bad. Belief in miracles is only irrational if miracles are untrue, miracles are only untrue if there is no God.

This another objection that's really gone off the rails. Based on his previous points, he concludes that requiring rational beings to do what is irrational is unjust. If a god makes this requirement, it is an unjust god.

If you disagree, please demonstrate how requiring beings to do what is irrational is in reality just.

He's saying miracles are irrational so a God that would require belief in irrational things is bad. Belief in miracles is only irrational if miracles are untrue, miracles are only untrue if there is no God.

I'm not sure how someone could so completely misunderstand the argument. My guess is that the standard apologetics you've been taught never considered Robin's argument, and consequently you're rearranging the argument (i.e., building a strawman) to make it amenable to the apologetics you've been taught.

No where does Robin assume the non-existence of a god.

No where does Robin assert that belief in a miraculous cause is definitionally irrational.

What Robin is saying is that a god who requires beings to do what they genuinely believe to be irrational, and tortures them eternally for doing that, is not simply unjust but extremely unjust.

Because the Christian god requires beings to believe in things they can genuinely regard as irrational (i.e., miraculous events which cannot be reasonably warranted even when assuming miracles are possible), the Christian god is unjust. However, this contradicts the Christian claim that its god is just. The existence of this contradiction falsifies Christianity.

Notice that Robin never claims that if Christianity is untrue, then there's no god. His argument doesn't concern that question. He's focused squarely on the Christian's god; some other religion's god could still yet exist even while the Christian's god doesn't.

The logic of Robin's argument is already well-known to Christian apologists. This is why many of them strive to uphold the notion that Christian claims are emminently reasonable and rational. To admit that Christianity could possibly be an irrational belief at all would validate Robin's argument.

Metacrock said...

Stop spouting the slogans that your atheist handlers brain washed to spit back and try thinking for yourself.

you don't understand the argument. Try dropping the air of supercity and saying specifically and clearly what you think he's arguing.

Metacrock said...

Notice that Robin never claims that if Christianity is untrue, then there's no god. His argument doesn't concern that question. He's focused squarely on the Christian's god; some other religion's god could still yet exist even while the Christian's god doesn't.

I did not say he did. you don't get what I was saying because you are not listening.you are just reciting dogma instead of thinking.

He doesn't address teh question of truth and tha'ts one flaws in the argument. It's circuital reasoning because it begs the question rather than address it.

do you understand what question begging is?


The logic of Robin's argument is already well-known to Christian apologists. This is why many of them strive to uphold the notion that Christian claims are emminently reasonable and rational. To admit that Christianity could possibly be an irrational belief at all would validate Robin's argument.

then how do you explain Kierkegaard? If God is real his argument is blown. Since he doesn't consider the reality of God he's just begging the question and assuming his position is privileged.I don't privilege his position..

Metacrock said...

Hello, I read through your response and it doesn't seem to me that your objections are substantive. In fact, many of your charges against Robin most readily apply to yourself.

No they don't.

Here are some of your major errors.

You wrote,

If read carefully this is actually a tautology becuase what it really says is "rational people should be rational."..., his premise rests upon his conclusion because he defines his criterion of "reason" by the conclusion that his views are right.

That's not what Robin is saying at all. What he is saying is that our well-being depends on being rational, not that "rational people should be rational".


You are not cognizant of what he said. you are reciting dogma on what he should have said. go looka at the wording and see what really says.

If you disagree, please demonstrate the opposite: that our well-being depends on being irrational. Otherwise, his point 1 is taken as true.


well being may well depend upon being rational, what he said said was that rational people will be rational. I assumed it implies should be. So that sets up the notion that we shouldn't believe those old irrational miracles. Because remember he makes the argument miracles undermined a sense of coherent nature.

Of course this is also circular since if God is real and Jesus' death is true doctrine then God would be the determiner of both rationality and the truth of miracles, not us and not Yergensen.

there's nothing circular about that. It is that way/ God - truth. God is the orbiter of what rationale. Atheists are not rational.

This objection is circular, for it essentially asserts "If Christianity is true, then what it says about God is true." It's illogical to argue against objections to Christianity by assuming Christianity is true in the first place.

Sure but not when it's in counter point to the assertion that we should privilege doubt and assert that its' untrue. You don't get to do that either.

I didn't say that my ultimate defense is just to assert that my views are true. I said if they are then belief in them is not irrational and it's not undermining reason.

therefore for him ignore the question of truth and assert a privileged potions that begs the question on god then that is circular just as all question begging is a form of circular reasoning.

Metacrock said...

I deny that assertion and it seems unsupported. That's like saying our being wrong about the nature of the universe is always a possibly, therefore, all theories about the universe should be considered untrue.

but that's in answer to an assertion that should just asssume there's no god.

Again, not at all. What Robin is saying is that every event can be explained by appealing to the miraculous, but doing so can be detrimental to our well-being.

No that's not what he said. that may be what you want to have said but he didn't. if it is, it's still silly it's still begging the question and asserting a privileged position.


For instance, if I regard the burning sensation in my heart as the work of devils or djinns, when I'm really just having a heart-attack, I can die as a result of calling a priest rather than an ambulance.

That may be but you are merely indulging in the sin of slipper slope. No one says that no one wants you to think that and belief in miracle is based upon replacing naturalistic cause and effect with all miracles. The essence of belief in God is not belief in miracles I even pointed out that liberal theology is basically naturalistic.

His point 3 follows from this. One should only believe in a miraculous explanation when it is warranted (justified) to do so. Only then would it be rational.

As from the fac that he has no reason at all to assume all Christians don't' follow that, we knwo that's the thin end of the wedge. the next thing he's going to be saying that it's never warranted.

He's essentially saying "rational means agreeing with my world view, my wolrd view rejects miracles, therefore it's not rational to believe in miracles."

This is so off the mark, I'm not sure you're reading what he's saying.

bull shit it is not off the mark it's exactly what all atheists argue.

No where did Robin reject miracles. Such an assertion is a straw man. All his previous points explicitly permit the possibility of miracles. (This is actually the beauty of his argument).

read between the lines. atheists don't understand the consequences of argument. I've done this long enough o know their tricks.

What Robin is saying is that if you don't have a justified reason for regarding a certain event as miraculous, then you're being irrational by putting your well-being in danger (point 1).

(continued...)

he would never accept one. Then he would argue it's irrational to support all of these ideas that he doesn't accept.

Robert said...

Metacrock wrote,

Stop spouting the slogans that your atheist handlers brain washed to spit back and try thinking for yourself.

If you cannot refrain from immediately slinging personal attacks and poisoning the well, then further discussion is pointless.

Please do the courtesy of apologizing, and then I'll respond to your other comments.

Rick Warden said...

Interesting post. I've prepared a proof of God's existence that atheists seem to shy away from:

Simple Outline: How Identity, Logic and Physics Prove God’s Existence:

I. Formal logic presupposes certain truths theoretically exist as a basis for sound reasoning.

II. The foundation of cohesive logic appears to have been undermined by quantum physics.

III. NDE Cases support a cohesive, logical understanding within a theistic framework.

IV. Materialism has failed to provide support for answers to foundational questions while theism has provided such support.

Conclusion: proof is affirmed by logic and material evidence and the preponderance of evidence supports a theistic interpretation.

Atheist responses to a challenge:

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2011/07/top-20-atheist-bloggers-decline.html

Metacrock said...

That's an interesting argument. I once tried an argument based upon the idea that QM theory really disproves the basic premise of atheism (in fact I had two such arguments, once about the history of atheism--to which they just say "O so what?"

the other uses QM as a basis for arguing the need for case rather than asserting that because QM particls. don't seem to have a cause that means they really don't.

no 19 in my God argument list:


Reverse QM

1) The notion of something from nothing voilates basic assumptions of materialism

a. Materailism based upon cause and effect

Dictonary of Philosphy Anthony Flew, article on "Materialism"

"...the belief that everything that exists is ethier matter or entirely dependent upon matter for its existence." Center For Theology and the Natural Sciences Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate: God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999) http://www.ctns.org/Information/information.html Is the Big Bang a Moment of Creation?(this source is already linked above)

"...Beyond the Christian community there was even greater unease. One of the fundamental assumptions of modern science is that every physical event can be sufficiently explained solely in terms of preceding physical causes. Quite apart from its possible status as the moment of creation, the Big Bang singularity is an offence to this basic assumption. Thus some philosophers of science have opposed the very idea of the Big Bang as irrational and untestable."



b) Something from nothing contraidicts materialism

Science and The Modern World, Alfred North Whitehead.
NY: free Press, 1925, (1953) p.76

"We are content with superficial orderings form diverse arbitrary starting points. ... sciene which is employed in their deveopment [modern thought] is based upon a philosophy which asserts that physical casation is supreme, and which disjoins the physical cause from the final end. It is not popular to dwell upon the absolute contradiction here involved."[Whitehead was an atheist]



c) Causality was the basis upon which God was expelled from Modern Science

It was La Plase's famous line "I have no need of that Hypothosis" [meaning God] Which turned the scientific world form beliving (along with Newton and assuming that order in nature proved design) to unbelief on the principle that we dont' need God to explain the univrese because we have independent naturalistic cause and effet. [Numbers, God and Nature]

2) Materilism Undermines Itself

a) Big Bang contradicts causality (see quotation above)

b) QM theory seems to contradict cause/effect relationship.

c) Rejection of final cause

3) Probabalistic Justification for assumption of Cause

We still have a huge justification for assuming causes inductively, since nothing in our experince is ever uncaused. The mere fact that we can't see or find a cause isn't a proof that there isn't one.

4) Therefore, we have probabalistic justification for assuming Final cause

Thus, the basis upon which God was dismissed from scientific thought has been abandoned;the door to consideration of God is open again. The reliance upon naturalistic cause and effect in consideration of ultimate origins is shattered, but this does not make it rational to just assume that the universe opoped into existence with no cause. Since we have vast precident for assuming cause and effect, we should continue to do so. But since naturalistic cause and effect seems unnecessary at the cosmic level, we should consider the probablity of an ultimate necessary final cause.


to which they just say "you are destroying the basis of scinece."

good argument, keep it up.