Over the last month or two I’ve been working on a written/audio debate with Justin Schieber of Reasonable Doubts. The topic of the debate was “Does the Christian God Exist?” I imagine the debate may have been released earlier had it not been for my delayed responses due to health issues and moving out of our house and preparing to embark on our move to Scotland. I have apologized to Mr. Schieber concerning this and I extend apologies to the readers and listeners.
I was actually expecting much stronger arguments from Mr. Schieber. Two arguments were off topic and the other one was a far metaphysical and modal stretch. You’ll be able to read his arguments in full but here are my thoughts :
Why do you believe in God when the Genesis creation account and the bible have been discredited? Why do you believe when there are no good arguments that don’t have some sort of counter argument? There is not one irrefutable proof or argument for God whether it be from archeology, history, textually, philosophy, theology, prophecy, science, mind, miracles and the supernatural. Not one. How can it be true if nothing stands up to critical thinking? Why believe?
Often when using Dr. Craig’s version of the moral argument, the humanist will object that God is not necessary for at least one objective moral value: the harm principle, i.e. pain is bad. While I’m tempted to retort back that naturalistically speaking, there is nothing to say pain is objectively bad, the humanist will say that the harm principle is an objective moral value by which other things can be measured. This is so because no humans like pain and those that do only take pleasure in mild forms of pain. How might I solve this problem?
It’s difficult for me to see why the naturalist (or humanist) will place this principle above every other moral fact. It’s nothing more than an attempt to make a categorical exception to objectivity. If this harm principle is objective then certainly it still falls within the parameters of requiring explanation within the moral argument.
1)I have a question relating to parsimony and explanatory power.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that God used natural processes entirely to create, us, the cosmos and everything in it. Furthermore science has already discovered all this and there are no giant gaps like abiogenesis.
If we ignore cosmological arguments (let’s say we just aren’t able to formulate one successfully) and consider only teleological and axiological arguments for God’s existence.
Even with these arguments a metaphysical naturalist would be able to show that the appearance of design and morality can be accounted for by natural processes. (again perhaps there is a naturalistic alternative to fine tuning)
A theist might believe that there is design and morality as a part of reality but the naturalist has a complete worldview by explaining these away and plus it appears to be more parsimonious.
On 8 November 2012 I did a presentation to the Ratio Christi club at Liberty University on how to argue for the existence of God. It was designed to be a smaller training session for the Ratio Christi members. I discussed the importance of apologetics and the difference between knowing your faith to be true and showing your faith to be true. That was the followed by methodological differences and my use of the classical approach.
I then gave three arguments: 1) Thomas’ cosmological argument from contingency, 2) the abductive fine-tuning argument, and 3) the abductive moral argument (or as I like to say, the new moral argument).
The following is an argument David Baggett developed, which argues for the existence of a perfectly moral person. I used this in the VT debate on the existence of God. (I highly recommend Baggett’s book co-authored with Jerry Walls Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality.) This version of the moral argument is an abductive version. I believe this argument, when used in an abductive form, is the strongest form of the argument. You’ll usually see it in a deductive form, a la William Lane Craig. I believe this argument is better and I’d like to see it used more often. (See below for my method behind abduction.)
The advantage of this argument is that nature is included in the argument for the morally perfect person. Usually it is depicted as nature vs. God (or a morally perfect person). That argument, I believe, gives too much to the naturalist. Here’s the argument:
There are objective axiological/moral facts that obtain.
Either the world alone or the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
It is the case that the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
Therefore, the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
This was a debate on March 21, 2012 at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA. It was sponsored by the Freethinkers at Virginia Tech, Leopard Zeus Fan Club, Ask Big Questions at Virginia Tech, and the Department of Philosophy at Liberty University.
Max Andrews, Department of Philosophy Liberty University