“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” Carl Sagan, from a Public Lecture delivered October 13, 1994, at Cornell Universityread more »
During the month of June I will be debating Justin Schieber from Reasonable Doubts on the question: “Does the Christian God Exist?”. The debate is designed for a very substantive and rigorous interaction and exchange. The whole debate will be posted online closer to the end of June. The format will be:
- 20 min. Opening (Max)
- 20 min. Opening (Mr. Schieber)
- 15 min. Rebuttal (Max)
- 15 min. Rebuttal (Mr. Schieber)
- 10 min. Second Rebuttal (Max)
- 10 min. Second Rebuttal (Mr. Schieber)
- 5 min. Closing (Max)
- 5 min. Closing (Mr. Schieber)
The only downside to the debate is that the format takes away from the spirit of a live interaction. However, there are many perks to this. The time in between recordings will allow for a full, robust response from each of us. I anticipate this to be a very, very good exchange with thorough explications of the arguments. A transcript of the debate with our sources will also be made available.
I love getting emails like this.
When people say that philosopher only know how to explain the world and never change the world,I totally agree .Philosophy is outdated and should be overtaken by Science.Philosophy is delusional presupposition idea …People who study philosophy will be unemployed in this modern society.Philosopher is indeed a sadist and an arrogant profession…Christianity itself is arrogant and selfish ….I think that Christian should be ridiculed and mocked in public with contempt !And see who will save you ? A man on the cloud ?read more »
I just saw one of the comments by Jim in a previous post (Face the Facts–There are Gaps in Biblical Genealogies) and I thought I’d briefly add some thought to it.
Max. Thank you. Excellent post as usual. Hitchens also used the 250,000 number frequently in his debates so as to make the point “look at your horrendous God – willing to allow all those generations to perish before he sent a savior…” He had no idea that Scripture clearly affirms a retroactive efficaciousness to the Atonement.
I’ve seen this objection made against Christianity several times and it’s a rather horrendous objection (bolded). I’ve never researched the numbers on how many people have existed before the coming of Jesus and I don’t know how many people have existed since Jesus. I don’t think the numbers really matter that much, to be honest.
I don’t understand why anyone thinks this is such a horrendous concept. Obviously, this is an internal issue particular to Christianity. Christian doctrine never makes the claim that salvation was impossible prior to the resurrection of Jesus. I think it’s quite clear that the New Testament (well, OT too!) teaches that the atonement applied to those who came before Christ as well as those succeeding Christ. So what’s the problem?
The following objection to intelligent design is from observing the natural data and claiming that it could not have been designed because there are some things that lack proper function or there could have been a better way for a certain [i.e. organ] to function. This objection is often made by many theistic evolutionists, though, still non-theists object as well, is based on an inappropriate and misconceived understanding of design. The design hypothesis merely states that there is intelligent causation that permits the existence of life (a probability factor). Optimality of what has been designed is not a criterion for design. Motor vehicles break down and computers crash. With comparing motor vehicles to design, there is a natural decay and effects of heat, friction, and weather decay. What is interesting about the comparison to malfunctioning software is that a frequently known cause of malfunction is an intentionally designed malware or virus, which has been designed for the primary purpose of malfunction, it is designed to break down or decompose a previous design.
(I’d like to note that someone who is actually making this objection is quite removed from the field of the philosophy of religion.)
Today, we look back on the ancients and ridicule them for thinking that volcanic eruptions were the result of the will of the gods. We now know the geological structure of the planet and how tectonic activity functions and tends to behave in certain areas and layers of the earth. We can see the effect of the volcano’s eruption and extrapolate the causes to the movement of the iron core of the earth. Our scientific knowledge in the field of geology and volcanology have progressed since the ancients. So, has our scientific knowledge of the universe, of all that there is, progressed to the point that we can explain all that there is without having to invoke an uncaused causal agency? First, before one proceeds with any scientific account for an explanation, one must notice the metaphysical aspect of the question. This question is a philosophical question, not a scientific question. Can we extrapolate all causes to have the first cause be self-caused? Using something within the system of “all that there is” to explain the system itself (“all that there is”) is circular. The whole notion is self-defeating.
Interestingly, there is an argument used by atheists to demonstrate that God is impossible, which picks up on the ontological argument. This argument is traditionally called the reverse ontological argument. Instead of demonstrating that God a maximally great being that exists necessarily, the reverse form is used to demonstrate that God is impossible. To give a context for the atheistic argument here are the two most popular versions of the theistic ontological argument:
The Anselmian Ontological Argument (Theistic)
- God exists in the understanding
- God is a possible being
- If X exists only in the understanding and is a possible being, then X might have been greater
- Suppose God exists only in the understanding
- God might have been greater (2, 4, 3)
- God is a being than which a greater is not possible
- So, a being than which nothing greater is not possible is a being which is greater is possible
- Since 4 led to a contradiction 4 must be false
- God exists not only in the understanding alone—God exists in reality as well
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