Debunking a proof for god

Sapient's picture

I received an email from Matt [last name removed to protect privacy] a few weeks ago, and it was an argument against god.  I think Matt answered his own questions in this one.  But he wanted to know what I had to say about him. I think you give it more credit than it deserves in your answer.  Frankly his argument is rather stupid.  

Sye Bruggencate can't prove that there are absolute morals, much of academia would argue against absolute truths.  Even if we accept absolute morals and truths, God certainly wouldn't logically follow.  What would logically follow is that "there are laws and absolutes."  

The argument is ridiculously stupid.  He is trying to look intelligent and only makes himself look like a fool or a liar.  Matt on the other hand comes off as intelligent and hitting the nail on the head.  His email is all that is needed on this subject.  Join the forum so you can explain things like this to the next theist that comes here. [edited] 

I really appreciate your kind words.  I applaud your efforts as well in debunking the irrational and ridiculous.  Keep it up! 

Here is the letter Matt sent me, please feel free to comment:

 

I follow some of the material published by the Rational Responders and I find you are a welcome addition to atheists in general, with sound reasoning and skepticism. I myself am a third generation atheist. To get to the point I came across Sye Bruggencate's Proof That God Exists website (proofthatgodexists.org) dictating that the Christian Worldview not only is the correct among religions, but is the only worldview to explain who we are and how we arrived. His proof (transcendental):

There are Absolute Truths

There are Laws of Logic

There are Laws of Mathematics

There are Laws of Science

There are Absolute Morals

The Mentioned Laws are Immaterial/Universal/Unchanging

[God Exists because this is only possible through God]

(The Proof: You Cannot Prove Anything Without God)

Maybe I am mistaken, but this is a weak argument for the Christian worldview. What it proves is man's ability to observe, reason abstractly, infer, and apply rationality. And to get purely technical about the "Laws of Nature" (Bruggencate assumes these laws to be absolute as the result of his loving and benevolent God), the "Law of Gravity" is not immaterial as he claims (space time curvature). Neither is mathematics as he claims. Mathematics exists within the mind of reasoning and intelligent organisms; nature does not need mathematics or its laws.

Within our brain and its structure the mind exists, ergo mathematics is not immaterial just as computer software is not immaterial (code --> binary --> logic gates --> semiconductors --> electrons). It is the result of the function of the brain, just as thought is. It is material. Bruggencate makes a philosopher's mistake by understanding abstract arugments, but trying to interject them into fields he may not understand (such as physics).

The strong and weak forces exists because of subatomic interaction, not the other way around. An argument for magic (absolutes in nature concieved by God) is presented, and I myself was not presuaded. Bruggencate's argument proves man's rationality, from observed phenomena to abtract thought and inference. Thusly, he proves man is godlike ( a reflection no doubt he ignores, much the same way athiests 'deny God'), not that there is an all powerful diety because only He can be absolute.

And, (if you are actually reading this and finding it wordy, I will make this brief) he tries to impose the Universal Morals argument. I would find it univerally amoral to molest children (an example he uses to stop you in your tracks if you do not believe moral absolutes exist) but that has not been then the case throughout history (ancient Sparta for instance).

If morals are not absloute thoughout human history, how am I to claim they will remain as they are today in the future? I cannot. I can only claim what I believe, and I am a product of present day societal conditions. Society thrives on a self-sustaining structure which promotes progress, causing morals to evolve as civilization does. Giving credit to the divine is illogical as history demonstrates.

Nature has morals. What are those? Survive, reproduce resist extinction. It is what we do every day. It is what life does every day.

In sum, I offer that theists have cause and causality reversed, thus attributing existence to the supernatural.

Well, thank you Sapient for your endeavors and hard work defending an athiestic perspective in life. I find it a noble pursuit to generate material that makes the superstitious think beyond justification. If you would care to comment on Sye Bruggencate's argument, I would like to know your thoughts.

Matt

 

- Brian Sapient


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Wonderist's picture

Good job, Matt. You

Good job, Matt. You mentioned all the important points. Bruggencate's argument is a typical presuppositionalist one, and suffers the same fundamental flaws. Really, it's hard to understand how they think these arguments could convince anyone else but themselves. They appear to me to be defensive arguments, to shore up their 'faith', rather than intellectually honest attempts to present sound reasoning.

I have only one suggestion, although it is a fairly important one, IMHO. And that is to bypass discussion of the word 'materialism' in favour of a different and more meaningful word. And that word is: physicalism. Focusing on the physicality of information in particular, is a very useful tool which undermines every presuppositionalist argument against 'immaterial' things existing in the 'material' universe. Information is the physical quantity/entity that is the basis of things like: Laws, thought, mind, process, etc.

You did make a good counter-argument to show that thoughts etc. are 'material' since they are made up of 'material' things like electrons and whatnot, but you can make that counter-argument much stronger by understanding the physical basis of information, as studied in physics under the name information theory.

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Thanks for your response

Natural, you are exactly right.  My argument could have been much improved by using the principles of information theory to strengthen my position.  I actually started reading into it somewhat, where it begins with the telegraph.  I find it so very frustrating that the reason science and physics is so important (in my opinion) is that it cuts through the philosophical quaqmire that logicians present.  Pure logic does not suffice (also in my opinion) because it relies on assumed premises.  What sets science apart (also imo) is the ability to be flexible to any degree, where empiricism and testable hypothesises allow us to touch on the truth of a matter.  Where science leads (I believe) can be very unsettling, such as some of the philosophical implications presented by Stephen Hawking, but I don't think the emotional sentiment towards reality should produce philosophical battles over why we are here or if there is a God.  As it stands, we don't know the answers to the grand philosophical questions, and as such we are free to imagine what we will.  But proofs for something that we cannot verify empirically (or at least mathematically) are silly and rooted in the emotional sentiment I mentioned.

Also, I find this kind of funny, I have the theist's name wrong who I was writing about.  His name is Sye Ten Bruggencate.  For some reason, his last name really through me off.

Wonderist's picture

Matt wrote:Also, I find this

Matt wrote:

Also, I find this kind of funny, I have the theist's name wrong who I was writing about.  His name is Sye Ten Bruggencate.  For some reason, his last name really through me off.

No problem. Fixed it.

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Brian37's picture

Quite frankly, I couldn't

Quite frankly, I couldn't get through the list, it was just soooooooooo old hat and stupid.

As far as Matt. I think he did a great job, but semantically I might make a few points.

I see "thoughts" as not actual physical things, but abstractions( a language we use to describe our observations) due to material processes. Just like running isn't a thing itself, but the result of moving your legs faster and faster, which is a result of a material process.

Math too is not a physical thing, but words, a language physical humans use to describe observations.

So I don't think we are saying something different but merely using different examples to reach the same conclusions?

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

I agree some of the points I

I agree some of the points I mentioned tread on semantic interpretations.  Is the mind physical, or the result of the physical condition of the brain?  I think that is a very old philosophical question.  Do you agree with Stephen Hawking that philosophy is dead?

I would say we are saying the  same thing essentially, because the conclusion remains that the characteristics of human inference and the existence of abstract reasoning does not in any way conclude God must exist. 

Also, your graphic is hilarious.

BobSpence's picture

I certainly agree that

I certainly agree that Philosophy is dead, as an independent discipline, anyway. 

'Philosophy of Science' makes sense, as an arena for extrapolating current science in various directions, to guide and stimulate new hypotheses, new areas of study.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

I agree it is dead also. 

I agree it is dead also.  Philosophy of science is intriguing, for the purpose you mentioned.  Naturally, we as humans ponder the questions pertaining to meaning and existence that cannot be directly recieved by scientific analysis (neccesarily).  There is nothing wrong with that.

I must admit I study Christian apologetics much the same way a biologist might study a colony of monkeys.  When speaking on philosophy of science, the standard model of the big bang theory seems to be the crux for the cosomological arguments for the Christian god.  Extrapolating that the causal nature of the big bang must be of godlike nature (I use the word nature loosely here) there are many Christian (and Muslim) apologists that insist that God must exist.  These people are not cosmologists, and seem to quote mine laymens' resources or conduct heavily biased work.

 Issues that pertains to


 Issues that pertains to religions or one's belief should not be put in   question rather  it demands respect. Freedom to choose religions is  everyone's right. God's existence dwells in our heart and spirit. Questionable General William G. Boykin has been asked by the Army to speak at a prayer breakfast in early Feb.. The Army is being criticized from anti-discrimination and pro-Islamic groups. Boykin has in the past made inflammatory statements about Muslims and Islam. 

Kapkao's picture

GracielP wrote: Issues that

GracielP wrote:


 Issues that pertains to religions or one's belief should not be put in   question rather  it demands respect. Freedom to choose religions is  everyone's right. God's existence dwells in our heart and spirit. Questionable General William G. Boykin has been asked by the Army to speak at a prayer breakfast in early Feb.. The Army is being criticized from anti-discrimination and pro-Islamic groups. Boykin has in the past made inflammatory statements about Muslims and Islam. Article source:Controversial General to speak at West point

DISAGREE! Challenge-worthy claims deserve challenges. Smiling

 

I shall challenge any claim that isn't worth a LOWL outright Sticking out tongue

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)

BobSpence wrote:I certainly

BobSpence wrote:

I certainly agree that Philosophy is dead, as an independent discipline, anyway. 

'Philosophy of Science' makes sense, as an arena for extrapolating current science in various directions, to guide and stimulate new hypotheses, new areas of study.

 

"I like it" in the way Bob presents it, which is rare for me Eye-wink