Pastor Stephen Feinstein
Russell Glasser finally responded to my last post, and per our agreement this is our last exchange. Read his response here:
Please read his response prior to reading my response that follows since it will provide you with the context of all that follows. The same patterns that I have used in terms of quoting Russell also apply in this post.
If you are just now discovering this debate, the following links will catch you up:
The game plan is as follows: Russell will offer one more response and then we are done. If he brings up anything that warrants a response, I will respond to it on this blog, but he is not going to link it. If he writes more on this afterward, I also will not link it on my blog. So as this debate wraps up, please enjoy. I ask that people think through all of our responses carefully before they start leaving comments once they are enabled. With that said, I can begin.
I thank you for your response, and given its length, I may not be able to be as brief as I would have liked. First let me state that I have not reimagined my role in this debate, but instead I merely took a logical step based on what you said at the end of your second response. You claimed that unless I prove atheism is untenable, then, I “will have lost.” Well, given that your materialistic brand of atheism posits a chance governed universe (you still are ducking this point), and the universe operates off of uniformity and predication, then your atheistic presupposition is impossible. Therefore, I did prove that atheism was impossible, and therefore by your own statement in your second response, I claimed victory. It’s pretty simple Russell, you made yourself the arbitrator and judge with that statement, and I just followed suit. I’ll address your proposal at the end.
Concerning your summary of my third post, I think you still missed the point of the argument, and I mean no insult over this, but I am starting to think that the presuppositional argument is going over your head. Your comments demonstrate that you simply have not understood it. There were strong philosophical arguments in my third response (persons coming from persons, one and many problem, necessary vs. contingent beings, and so on). So indeed, you are blowing smoke. It is easy for you to assert that I had no argument, but it is entirely another thing to be brave enough to honestly address the argument and come to terms with the savaging of your worldview. That you have not done.
You went on to quote my statement about your assumptions being inconsistent with your presuppositions, but then rather than attempting to deal with that, you committed the red herring fallacy by putting the same argument you made in your second post, namely that I need to demonstrate that the existence of the Biblical God avoids the “so-called” arbitrariness. First off Russell, your position is arbitrary, so labeling it as “so-called” does nothing to alleviate your problem. Secondly, I did demonstrate through the “necessary and contingent” argument that the arbitrariness disappears. I find it fascinating that you just don’t understand this. Truly I do. I want to remind our readers, especially those of your camp, that your simple insulting dismissal of the argument does NOT constitute a counterargument, but instead it is another red herring. It demonstrates to me that mocking a sound argument rather than refuting it is all that your camp is able to do. I am fine with that.
Your attempt to demonstrate this argument to be guilty of begging the question was weak at best. Please, quote me correctly. I said “contingent” is something that it is “caused” by something outside of itself, “sustained” by something or a variety of things outside of itself, and “determined” by factors outside of itself. You twisted my words into defining contingency as something that needs an explanation. By the very definition of what contingent means, all contingent things require an explanation. This is simple stuff, and yet you missed the point again. You need proof? Look at the pen on your desk. It is caused (by a manufacturer), sustained (by uniform laws of nature), and determined (by a manufacturer). You can’t just look at the pencil and say it needs no explanation. Sure, you can write with it without knowing the explanation, but it still is not “self-existent” because a contingent object cannot be self-existing. So now, look away from the pencil and look at yourself, your desk, a rock, the earth, the sun, the moon, the galaxy, and the universe. If you are honest, you will have to conclude that each meet the same criteria as the pencil. Even the universe according to your own fairy tale of cosmology started as a singularity that built pressure until it exploded/expanded for 380,000 years, until temperatures cooled to the point of 3,000 Celsius, I believe, and could then enter dark ages until stars began to form 400 million years later. Each of these sequential steps is caused by factors outside of themselves (gravity, motion, heat, movement, time), are sustained (by uniform nature), and are determined (either by chance or design). Let me pretend for just a second that your highly imaginative story was true. The singularity still was contingent since it was compiling pressure prior to time. I wont even ask how it compiled pressure before the existence of motion and time, since pressure implies motion and time is a category of motion, but instead I will simply grant the fairy tale for now. The bottom line is this. Since the singularity is contingent, it is caused, and therefore it had to come from something that is NOT itself. And yet, according to your cosmology, it is the first of its kind. So the chain ends at the singularity. But the singularity itself cannot be self-existent since it is contingent. Therefore, a necessary being that is transcendent (outside of the physical universe) had to create the singularity.
By definition, the universe cannot be self-existent. Yet, the universe exists. Thus, the creator exists. This is not arbitrary, nor is it begging the question, but instead it is a philosophical necessity. A necessary being cannot be contingent (caused, sustained, and determined), and therefore if you have any contingent objects or people, we can trace it back to the first of its kind, and right there at that point a necessary being is necessarily necessary! Until you understand this, or come to terms with it, you will continue to erroneously apply the fallacy of begging the question to this. I need spend no more time on this. In the third response, I did in fact show why the Biblical Triune God is the necessary being. Scoff if you want, but you have not refuted my argument in the least. Your bravado will not fool anyone paying careful attention.
And now to my “Call of Duty” analogy. Really Russell? The teleological argument? That is what you got out of that? It is as though you missed the whole point again. I did not say, “The game bears evidence of design; therefore there must be a game designer.” Instead, I said the game has preconditions for its existence. These are entirely different philosophical arguments. Of course, you wasted a lot space refuting an argument that I never made, while at the same time being totally unoriginal by using David Hume’s basic refutation of the teleological argument. By the way, his refutation was countered long ago, but it is moot because I was not making an “argument from design.” I was simply stating that the if game exists, you cannot axiomatically assume that preconditions to it’s existence are unnecessary. Instead, it existence depends on manufacture, design, technology, etc. Sure, you can play and even master the game without knowing anything about its preconditions (that I granted in my last response), but it still does not change the fact that all contingent things have necessary preconditions. This entire analogy was in response to your desperate appeal to the Axiomatic Theory of Truth by which you argued that you do not have to consider the preconditions of reality because you can simply assume that reality exists and leave it at that. You can assume this, but it is irrelevant to whether or not preconditions do exist, and the truth of the matter is that they do. Reality has the uniformity of nature and the laws of logic, both of which are impossible in a godless chance governed universe. Russell, this was another transcendental argument concerning our presuppositions, not an argument from design. At least get my argument right before you negligently dismiss it.
And I shall move now to the laws of logic, or deductive inference. Russell, did I ever say that the “laws of logic must have a creator?” Interestingly enough, you put that in quotes thus giving the impression that I said that. I did not. I’ll give you an explanation in a moment, but first I am going to use the laws of logic as my second major argument to show that atheism is “irrational, untenable, and impossible.”
Let me start by quoting a statement from your first post. I am cutting and pasting this directly so that you cannot accuse me of “deliberately” changing words. If the words end up different on your website, then it means someone altered your site after September 7, 2012. You said, “And I personally do lean towards materialism, humanism, and a scientific approach to learning about the world.” I am going to focus on the fact that you said you lean “towards materialism.” Given that you said that, the very existence of logic savages your position. Let me start with a basic explanation of logic – human beings deduce conclusions with the laws of logic, and these conclusions are considered to be genuine knowledge. Deduction is when a person takes a group of information (classes and categories) and then applies certain laws of thought and relationships to that information, and then draws a conclusion.
So why is this a problem for you? If you are a materialist, then your position is that all of reality is merely matter in motion. Reality is only physical if the materialist’s presuppositions are true. So then tell me Russell, are classes and categories material things? For example, is the class or category of “humanity” physical? Please do not misunderstand this. Individual humans – the class “particulars” – are indeed physical, but is the concept of humanity itself something that is physical? If so, show it to me. Where is it in time and space? You are trapped by this question. You cannot touch or smell the concept of humanity because it is not physical. It cannot be punched, burned, tackled, frozen, cuddled, jump-kicked, etc.
What about the class of height? I am not talking about the specific height of six foot, one inch, because that is a particular. Instead, I am talking about the concept of height, which is the universal. Sure, specific heights measured within space and time are indeed physical, but no class or concept is physical. You could never meet the burden of proof to show that these “thoughts,” which are so universal and objective that we dub them “laws,” are indeed physical. Yet, with these immaterial concepts, and immaterial thoughts and mental laws (logic), humans can relate immaterial classes and categories together that allow us to have knowledge of the material world that is not based on empirical observation or experience. This goes back to that example I gave in my second response about knowing that no human in Israel is 50 feet tall. And yet, I have not empirically studied all 7 million people in Israel, but I am still confident in my conclusion due to deductive inference. Thus, there can be no doubt that these non-physical concepts are real since they influence our ability to dominate the physical world.
Even something like simple mathematical reasoning proves this point. If you were in my classroom and I wrote, 5+5=10 on a whiteboard, and I asked you what is this sign “5,” you would answer, “It is the number five.” If I then asked, “Is it really and truly five,” and you said, “Yes,” what happens if I erase both “5’s” from the board? Have I destroyed “five” from the universe? You would then have to reconsider whether or not the mark on the board was truly five. No, instead you would conclude it is a symbolic representation, and hence a material “particular”, of the immaterial “universal” of the concept “five.” If I said I am going to pull five out of the closet, your natural question would be, “Five of what?” That is a good question because I cannot pull the immaterial concept of five out of the closet, but instead I can only apply that immaterial concept to material objects and then pull five of those objects out of the closet. Are you getting my point?
Atheists who claim that all reality is physical speak and think in a way on a daily basis that betrays their claim. They talk about numbers and concepts, which are immaterial, yet they claim all reality is material. Given that you said in your first post that you lean towards materialism, you are not living consistently with your presuppositions. Your presuppositions state that reality is only matter, and ultimately that matter is governed by chance. By the way, I will address your absurd claim that I am guilty of the equivocation fallacy later.
Russell, you have a huge problem. If you are going to claim that all things in existence must be physical or material, then you need to deny the existence of the laws of logic since classes and concepts are not made out of physical matter. Ultimately, then, there can be no numbers, concept of humanity, class of height, and laws of logic. Without these things there can be no deduction, and without deduction there can be no reasoning since reasoning itself is deductive. So at this juncture of the debate, your chance-based materialism cannot account for a world with inductive inference (uniformity of nature) or a world with deductive inference (laws of logic). Not only are your presuppositions unable to account for them, but also even worse, if your presuppositions were true, then we could NOT have uniform nature (chance negates it), and logic could NOT exist (materialism negates it). Yet, both uniformity and logic exist. Therefore, atheism based on chance-governed materialism cannot be true.
For whom are the laws of logic truly a problem, the Christian or the atheist? It certainly is not the former, but the latter. Yet, based on our debate thus far, I imagine you saying, “But the laws of logic exist! It’s axiomatic and I don’t have to justify them.” It goes right back to us staring at a video game and you saying that it doesn’t have preconditions.
With that now said, I can respond to your argument that the laws of logic somehow undermine the Christian worldview. First, let me say that you do not understand the Presuppositionalist position on logic. If you did, you would not have advanced this argument as you did. As I argued above, the laws of logic are simply the laws of thought. They are immaterial, but they help us dominate the material world. Thought was not created, as your argument supposes. The Christian position is that the necessary being is an absolute person. Hopefully you recall that I made that distinction in my opening statement. This means that God’s personhood is uncaused, unsustained, and undetermined by anything outside of Himself. He is the original person and we are derivative persons. The Medieval Scholastics used projection and negation to figure out some attributes of God, though this was unnecessary since the Bible speaks on each attribute. They basically reasoned that since we are derivative and God is original, we can project our attributes back to God, but in Him they will exist to an infinite degree, whereas our derivative attributes are limited by finitude (a fact that makes human epistemology problematic). One attribute of personhood is sentient thought. Therefore, when projected from its contingent derivative form in us back to its necessary original form in God, it stands to reason that His thoughts then are uncaused, unsustained, and undetermined by anything outside of Himself.
Thus, the laws of logic are simply the laws of immaterial thought that exist in the infinite mind of God. Humans, unlike fish, dogs, chimps, etc. are made in the image of God, and as a result we too have sentient minds by which we depend on the laws of thought known as logic. Logic is what it is because it stems from the mind of God. He did not create logic, but yet it would be a fallacy to say God is logic. Instead, God is a person, and persons think according to immaterial laws of thought, and thus God’s thoughts are the basis of our thoughts. We simply in an analogical form do what is original to God each and every time we use the laws of logic.
Given the fact that the laws of logic are objective rather than relative, and given that all humans everywhere have access to them just by mere thought, this proves that they cannot be grounded in chance. We have already had this discussion. Logic would change as chance directs. And even though not everyone claims to believe in logic, everyone unknowingly lives by it. Keep contradicting the person who says they don’t believe in the law of contradiction, and you will see that their annoyance with you proves that they truly do believe in the existence of contradiction.
So here we are, using these mental laws that seem universal among sentient minds, and yet we did not create these laws, but we know that the existence of our mind is the necessary precondition to access them. If they did not originate in us, but our use of logic is contingent (caused, sustained, and determined by factors outside of us), and yet logic is a product of mind and thought, then our derivative and contingent logic also needs a necessary being as the ground of logic. Logic exists because God exists. God cannot arbitrarily make a square circle because a square objectively has four sides whereas a circle has none, and these exist this way because the logical mind of God determined this as a product of His mind.
Thus your question and argument demonstrates two great inadequacies. First, you demonstrate a gross misunderstanding of what logic even is. If they are laws of immaterial thought, and thought requires minds, then original logic (not our derivative logic) is simply a function of God’s mind. It is not something He created, nor is it something He arbitrarily controls. When you think logically, are you arbitrarily controlling it? When you think logically, are you creating these thoughts with a "hammer?" So, why is it any different with God, the original and absolute person, from which your derivative personhood is derived? You are actually guilty of the self-excepting fallacy. Second, if you truly knew what logic was – immaterial laws of thought that assist us in arriving at conclusions in the material world – then you would have avoided this argument altogether since the existence of something immaterial undermines your atheistic materialistic position. Sadly, your own words demonstrate that in your heart of hearts you know this. You said, “Axioms, tautologies, and logical inferences aren’t the same kind of entities as buildings, watches, and software…”
Where is my arbitrariness? Are you going to say I am appealing to a magical tiara again? If so, that is quite dishonest. I am appealing to an absolute person with an absolute mind as the ground of logic, which are simply the laws of the mind. Much like the uniformity of nature, since logic exists, the ground of logic must exist too. That ground must be an absolute personality (since logic is the function of persons), and of all of the religious philosophies of the world, only Christian theism presents a God that is not self-contradicting (via the Trinity and the creator/creature distinction). So once again, your move Russell.
If you are asking me to lead you to a burning bush, I say that you are the one not entering this debate on good faith. Everything that I have done thus far has demonstrated that the Christian God is an ontological necessity due to everything else that exists. He is the necessary precondition, which means that ONLY Christian presuppositions are consistent with what we see in the real world. As I have already demonstrated, atheist presuppositions contradict what we see in the real world. Therefore, I can agree with you that reality exists, and the laws of logic exist, but only my position offers the preconditions for these things; and like the video game, there are indeed preconditions.
At this point, I have spoken enough about this, save one small point. You sure accused me of saying a lot of things about logic that I never said. You would do well to know what I actually believed before creating a straw man to kick down. I am beginning to lose count of all of your logical fallacies. Also, you implied that if I did present a position that God and logic are connected to each other, then logic is necessary and I have somehow contradicted myself (according to your straw man). Not true. Human use of logic is contingent and thus God’s logical mind is the necessary use of logic that our usage depends on. The use of our logic necessarily presupposes God’s logic. I wanted to spell it out clearly here so there is no misunderstanding.
As you apparently thought you were building momentum, you then asked how does a transcendent being manufacture consistency? That’s easy Russell. God is logical, orderly, and His creation exhibits it. Just like a bicycle is orderly so that it can function, so too is the universe. God obviously made the universe so that life is sustainable, but even more than that, He made it with the intent of us also being able to learn and grow in it. Don’t you agree that the uniformity of nature is a necessary ingredient for that? You should, because in my third response I demonstrated such with an analogy of dropping a marker.
You then asked me, “why should anyone believe that the state of a creatorless universe is inconsistency?” You smuggled more arbitrariness into that question. That question presupposes that it is even possible for humans to “know” (epistemology matters here) what the “natural state” of an uncreated universe is. If the universe were godless, how would you know what its natural state is? Wouldn’t you need to be able to simultaneously observe all parts of the universe at once to satisfy the epistemological demand? If you could, then God does exist and you are He. Instead, you are a finite man with a three-pound brain who possess no exhaustive knowledge of any single thing. You cannot even possess exhaustive knowledge of a single square inch of earth, since that would require total knowledge of each subatomic particle in the past, present, and future along with the conditions immediately above and below that inch. Autonomous human knowledge is actually epistemologically impossible. So you cannot even demonstrate the possibility of knowing the natural state of godless universe, even if a godless universe existed. So your question betrays your own finite ignorance.
And yet, we as humans seem to know things. Well, it is not on our own. Instead, the very ability for us to possess certain knowledge depends on the mind of a being that does possess omnipotence and omniscience and for us to exist dependently in His image and to be able to use the laws of logic. The very fact that we know things and use logic necessitates this. What you and your people have failed to grasp about transcendental reasoning is that it should be applied to every single experience of man, such as knowledge, thought, fun, etc. And when we make such applications, and then start asking about presuppositions, each and every time, atheism ends up dead on the ground. This is why it is no wonder to me that you want to duck presuppositional reasoning and epistemology and instead focus on blindly accepting axioms uncritically.
And by the way, thanks for brining up inertia. Inertia cannot exist in a chance-governed universe. Instead, uniformity must already exist prior to inertia’s existence. So you admit that chance then does not govern the universe, but uniformity does. Great, so how did the universe get here then? Meaningless chance? Come on, Russell, isn’t that the heart of existentialism?
Your next point was that I am guilty of special pleading by saying that epistemology overturns your axioms forcing us to discuss preconditions while at the same time saying this cannot apply to God since He is necessary. I understand your frustration with this, but it is not because I am using special pleading. I cannot change definitions. Words and concepts have particular meanings. An axiom by nature is contingent. It is caused, sustained, and determined by our finitude’s inability to epistemologically justify many presuppositions that do not have the Biblical God as the ground. So many fields of study need axioms, and yet this does not remove the fact that an axiom is contingent upon us. There are no axioms to God since He by definition and nature is omniscient. His reality is true reality, and in true reality there are no axioms. Our reality is contingent reality understood through our finitude, and thus we create axioms in order to have starting points. Given that we create them, they are contingent. No matter what we do, we cannot apply preconditions to a necessary being since by nature and definition a necessary being does not have preconditions. I am not special pleading, but instead I am pointing out what must be the case by the very nature of definitions. With that said, I am not declaring victory by “calling an axiom by a different word” (for a necessary being cannot be an axiom), instead I declared victory because the existence of reality, logic, and persons are impossible if your presuppositions are true.
You may try to say that if God is not an axiom, ontologically speaking, then the concept of God employed by believers is an axiom that we appeal to based on our finitude. I would give you a little more credit if you clarified your argument to that, but even so you are still wrong. The existence of contingencies renders God necessary, and thus His existence is not an improvable assumption, but instead it is a transcendental requirement of our own existence. Since we exist, He must, and therefore this is not axiomatic but necessary. Thus, you still have no argument.
Moving on, you responded to my alleged “smoking gun,” which was just me showing everyone that your statement implied that you were tossing out rationality. Russell, the smoking gun has been everything else that I have said concerning presuppositions, uniformity nature, and the laws of logic. You simply dismiss these arguments because either you do not understand them, or you cannot truly answer them and so you are directing your camp away from your position’s damning problems. Concerning my “deliberately” changing your words, I can assure you that I did not. Given that it has almost been five weeks since I responded to you in that post, I cannot remember exactly how I confused the words. However, looking closely at it, I still captured your thoughts. You said that it would bring you no closer to “justifying the claim that this God exists,” and I quoted you as saying, “it does not prove that God exists.” What is the difference Russell? The bottom line is this. You wrote that if we agreed that the existence of consistency depended on the Christian God, and that consistency does in fact exist, then we are still no closer to justifying the claim that God exists. In your most recent post, you clarified your position and said that such a thing would make it “absurd to not accept God as a conclusion.”
What I did show was that consistency depends on the uniformity of nature, and the uniformity of nature depends on God rather than chance. You simply refuse to accept this. Yet, your denial of the obvious does not change the fact that what I said is true.
Furthermore, you claim that I employ a “usual double standard” in this debate, but this causes me to wonder how close you are paying attention. Why do you think I spend so much time on explaining the details of necessary vs. contingent and using the correct syntactical definition of “chance,” and so on? It is to show you that I am not using a double standard, but instead I am demonstrating why my position accounts for reality and yours does not. However, you have either missed the point or instead deliberately ignored it to throw our readers off.
I enjoyed your video game dialogue between us, but again it demonstrated a lack of understanding of my position. I never implied that you needed to come to terms with the game’s preconditions to be able to play the game. Instead I said, “Although it is true that you do not need to know the preconditions of the game’s existence to be able to play the game, this is irrelevant to the fact that the game still has preconditions.” So your dialogue misrepresented my argument, yet again. So where then have I confused “what” with “why” and how have I used the “argument from ignorance fallacy?”
This then brings me to your final point about my “odd relationship with the scientific method.” First, let me use the “Call of Duty” analogy to reiterate that you do not need to know the preconditions of the game to play the game. Likewise, a physicist does not need to know the preconditions of physics and the philosophical necessity of God in order to successfully perform physics. Because the universe is uniform, the physicist can discover many wonderful things without ever researching into the preconditions of intelligibility. It is no different than a kid beating “Call of Duty” 100 times, while never looking into the manufacture of the game. The mere fact that most scientists for the last two centuries operated off of impossible presuppositions does not negate their ability to discover things via the scientific method. The scientists of the two centuries before them made amazing discoveries while operating off of Biblical presuppositions. This goes to show that your argument made in our game dialogue agrees with what I am saying here. The mere existence of a uniform nature, the laws of logic, and uniform processes of the human mind make such discoveries possible regardless of what presuppositions one holds.
This does not make presuppositional reasoning useless for science, however. I believe with the correct presuppositions that even greater discoveries would be made. I am simply offering an explanation as to why there are more atheist scientists than creation scientists. The number of people holding to a particular position is irrelevant to the truthfulness of a position. To argue otherwise is both the fallacy of ad populum and the fallacy of irrelevant thesis. Otherwise in 1930s Germany the Nazi’s must have been right. Of course, we know that is absurd. There were atheists in the days of Copernicus and Kepler too, but the majority of European scientists were Christians. Does that fact mean Christian assumptions were more likely to be true? No.
So then, let me move on to my experience in university science classes. Most of my degrees except for my theology degree come from secular California State Universities. In my Biology 101 class, the professor did in fact make the argument as I stated it. In my “Life in the Cosmos” class, the professor (a professor of Physics) made a similar argument. He and I entered an e-mail conversation and he conceded some points in front of the entire class. For his honesty, I respect him greatly. In both classes, the professors offered the typical evidence for evolution that has been debunked for decades (vestigial organs, embryo similarities, genomes, and numerous examples of microevolution), and yes I paid attention. They spent maybe ten minutes on the “time + chance” formula, and weeks on the other issues. My point was those weeks are meaningless if the initial unobservable presupposition that it depends upon is false. That was my whole point in bringing this up. Time and chance cannot cause stellar evolution, the formation of planets, and the abiogenesis emergence of life. The uniformity of nature cannot be self-existent due to its contingent nature. Thus, God created the universe uniform, and He did not use macroevolution.
Obviously, this requires another 5 to 10 response debate to adequately respond to these matters. But I can assure you that I love science and I am very well read in many of the fields that such a debate would require us to discuss. Creationists are not ignorant of your arguments, or even your evidence. And without uniformitarianism, you lose deep time, and without deep time, you lose macroevolution. Rates and conditions have been measured perhaps for a century, and so to take so few years of data and to then extrapolate that into billions of years is epistemologically impossible. It is a presupposition that if disproven would cause many fields of science to have to reevaluate literally everything. The only reason why I am even brining this up is because this is all we will get to say on it in this debate. I simply want readers to think it through logically and not to fall for the ad hominem attacks against Creationism, but instead to evaluate assumptions, presuppositions, and to see what happens to data interpretation when you begin from a different set of presuppositions. Both camps look at the same data, but they come to different conclusions. And yet these conclusions are based on the various starting point of certain presuppositions, of which most are not falsifiable on both sides. Neither side is “anti-science.” Instead, the secularists are anti-supernaturalist and the Christians are anti-naturalist.
Russell, the only other thing I need to say about evolution is that it is naive of you to dismiss the chance argument. Spontaneous generation depends entirely on chance, and even natural selection, hereditary adaptation skills, variable survival rates and speciation (which does no harm to the creationist arguments based on “kinds”) are not directed activities. In many respects, it amounts to brute random chance, being at the right place at the right time, and a number of other factors that each life form has no control over. And ultimately, evolution is more than just a biological theory, since stellar evolution is taught in astronomy classes. I am opposed to the notion of natural evolution of all kinds (accept for micro in biology), not just biological evolution. Atheism clings to these theories, and at the heart of materialistic atheism is a universe governed by brute chance.
I too could post some links offering counterevidence against macroevolution, and say that you are not interested in seeing evidence that shatters your theory. I should also accuse you of absurdity by insinuating that I reject the “science that built the modern world.” The science that built the modern world did not depend on uniformitarian assumptions, but instead would have progressed just as smoothly under any form of catastrophism. It is a fallacious to apply as a cause to an effect something that does not necessarily lead to it. This is a form of the fallacy of affirming the consequent. Are you going to tell me that assuming rates and conditions do not change somehow helped us get a man on the moon? Actually, if rates and conditions do not change, why didn’t Neil Armstrong sink? This is a different discussion for a different time I suppose. The point is, your point was fallacious.
With that, I can wrap this whole thing up by addressing your “wrap up.” I did not commit the equivocation fallacy with my use of “chance.” Yes, there were six other definitions, but the syntactical usage of the word “chance” in this discussion is that of the first definition. You do know what syntax is, right? It violates the basic laws of grammar to apply all six definitions to the word "chance" when syntax narrows its specific usage down to a single definition. The first definition is what many atheists refer to as the governing principle of the universe. If you need me to provide quotes, I can oblige. Furthermore, the equivocation fallacy is when a person changes the definition of the word to other definitions within the argument. Where did I do that? I am not sure if you are rightly applying this fallacy.
Apparently, you must not believe that the universe originated via random chance. You insist that it is directed, though you could never account for its direction. You are still left with the contradiction of undirected direction. Since your response to having this problem pointed out to you was simply to repeat the fallacy, I’m not going to waste any more time than it takes to repeat the reason it is invalid, which I just did a few sentences ago. If you believe random chance started the universe, but now it operates off uniformity, then you do in fact believe randomness caused its antonym, uniformity. Russell, your attempt to escape this is nothing more than folly. Assert it all you want; it doesn’t change the fact that you are trapped by this unless you are willing to dismiss chance as the cause of the universe. If you dismiss chance, then you are left with a bigger problem. Where did the contingent uniformity come from?
Finally, concerning your suggestion about judging this debate, I am not surprised by your suggestions. Suggestion One: Let’s put the decision solely in the hands of Matt, an atheist! He set this debate up because he wanted to see if you could counter the presuppositional argument. I believe you did not even come close, but that is beside the point. Matt set this up hoping I would lose. Why would I put the decision in his hands? Suggestion Two: Let’s post a survey online and let people vote. First off, truth does not reduce to a matter of majority rules. If so, then imagine if a Jew debated a Nazi in 1936, and then it was left up to the masses to determine who won. I wonder how that one would have turned out? As it stands now, there have been about 5,000 to 6,000 views of each debate response on my blog, and these are linked from your website; there are about 400 to 500 from other sources. You guys have your own TV show and a following. I pastor a small church, and just recently created my first blog for this debate. A few people are blogging about our blog, and guess what? They are all atheist bloggers (at least the ones I read). So if we opened this to the public there would be about 6,000 atheists who are going to say you won, and maybe 500 Christians who will say I won. All of the Christians who have personally commented on this debate think that I have defeated you soundly, but I am pretty sure that the atheists you have spoken to give you the same line. So suggestion two is out of the question. Suggestion Three: Let’s allow an agnostic to decide. Agnostics are not neutral people, typically. How you would like it if I said, “Suggestion Four: We submit it to a Christian University to decide. Christians are honest!” I doubt you would agree.
So of course you are “willing to submit to any or all of these methods of concluding the debate.” It is stacked in your favor. Nice try. Look, if we had evenly sized crowds, I would consider option one, but I just don’t have that many people reading this. I believe that I have met the demand that I set out in the first debate. I also believe that you have done nothing to adequately defend atheism or refute my Christian arguments. Having 6,000 atheists vote against me will not change my mind any more than 6,000 Christians voting against you will change your mind. You even said in our initial Facebook in-box chat that you were not going to be convinced and you did not expect that I would either. So what is the real purpose of your suggestion? Is it simply strength by numbers?
To assist people with their personal decision as to who actually won this debate, I would like to remind the readers of what was accomplished:
- From the opening statement I made it clear that this is a battle of worldviews and that our presuppositions would be tested by transcendental logic to see if our worldviews are even possible. Russell has ducked this responsibility by openly admitting that he can take his worldview for granted and therefore does not have to put it to the test.
- Atheism is a philosophy like any other, even if Russell does not want to admit it. As a philosophy it is totally inadequate. Two arguments were used (though I hoped to use four): inductive inference and deductive inference. Both shattered Russell’s worldview.
- In my second response, I countered Russell’s statement about it being better not to assume things without good reasons. I said it is better not to assume the universe made itself through random processes. Notice that Russell did not object to my use of the word “random” at this point. Like every other atheist, he seemed fine with assuming chance-based origins.
- Once my third response refuted the possibility of a universe being grounded on chance, only then did Russell try to distance himself from the typical atheistic usage of the word "chance." Readers, this is a very telling point. Russell’s only recourse was to ignore syntax and say I misused the word, when in fact I did not.
- On more than one occasion, I brought up problems based on observation (farmers producing farms, workers making tractors, persons come from persons), which is contrary to everything Russell's position assumes.
- Russell’s attempt to accuse me of circular reasoning was debunked in my third response as I demonstrated his position to be guilty of narrow circularity, whereas mine only had broad circularity (which is impossible for any position to avoid).
- Russell on more than one occasion attempted to get out of his dilemma by appealing to a magical tiara in such way as to say that is what my position amounts to. This demonstrated a great lack of philosophical precision on his part and that the presuppositional argument from the uniformity of nature was not understood by him. I believe even now, at this point of the debate, he still has not really attempted to refute it. A God that is an absolute person, that is distinct from creation, and sovereign over it, and triune indeed does meet the necessary preconditions for the uniformity of nature. Think on each of the four points, and it does not take a rocket scientist to see how these can account for uniformity. Russell's response? A magical tiara.
- Throughout Russell’s third and fourth response it is clear that he did not understand the necessary vs. contingent argument.
- My fourth response was a refutation of everything Russell said in his third response, which was the closest thing he gave in terms of counterarguments. However, his argument was that he is permitted to take his assumptions for granted as long as he hides behind the concept of axioms. He then went back to the tiara again. I removed this misguided attempt throughout the fourth response.
- Finally, this last response of mine demonstrated how the laws of logic savage the materialist’s worldview, and I forever buried Russell’s straw man argument against the Christian view of logic.
- Truly, Russell’s last response was nothing more than bravado. Serious arguments damaged his position, and his best defense was to play it off as though it did not affect him. My hope is that the readers look with keen eye and mind and see that he did not nullify a single argument made by me. They all still loom over him.
- I responded to his attempted arguments and I feel they were soundly silenced.
- Finally, it only took Russell four days to respond to my opening statement. No argument was made, and so no pressure was placed on him. I responded to him within two days, where I only slightly began to introduce the way the argument was going to go, and it took Russell eight days to respond. I then responded in two days again, and this time I advanced the first argument (inductive inference). In this case, now that the argument was coming against Russell, it took him nearly two weeks to respond. Since I was driving across the country at that time, it took me four days to respond to his eventual post, but then after that it took nearly five weeks to get a response from Russell. I am sorry, but for all of the bravado, why is it taking so long? If these arguments of mine are so easy to dismiss and counter then we shouldn’t be seeing this kind of delayed time. We’re both busy men. The time it takes to receive responses betrays the confidence and bravado in Russell’s responses.
Whoever reads the entire debate can judge for themselves the outcome. I can sleep with a good conscience knowing that I have left you even more so without excuse. My only suggestion to you is that you repent of your sin and trust the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul. You are a guilty sinner who has broken the holy God’s laws, and as a result you will one day stand before Him in judgment. Yet, in His grace and mercy, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, paid the debt of sinners by bearing their punishment. By receiving such grace by faith, your sins are forever removed because the substitute paid the fine for them, and in return you will receive the credit of every righteous thing Jesus did. For He was the only one to perfectly obey God’s holy standards. To place faith in Christ leads to justification, where God declares a person righteous because of Christ’s righteousness being imputed into their account. Russell, and your followers, I exhort you to repent and receive this grace. If you do, you will receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (third person of the Trinity) as the gift, and you will then know by experience the things I have written about. The choice is yours.
Click the following link to read my closing reflections as a response to Russell's final post:
My Closing Remarks