Good answers to repeated Theist questions.

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Good answers to repeated Theist questions.

Post #1

Post by McCulloch »

Many newbie theist debaters ask questions and make assertions which have already been well refuted. Use this thread to post links to or post refutations of such items for handy reference.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Post #2

Post by upallnite »

Zzyzx response to a literal global flood ... php?t=6164

Once a week could you check the thread for new links and add them to the OP so that people don't have to search the thread for what they want? I will be adding more when I find them.

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Post #3

Post by Taneras »

I often find myself having to refute the watchmaker analogy, especially as of late. The Intelligent Design movement has been spreading like wildfire (or so it seems), and I think its this sort of new movement has been fueled by the recent popularity of the internet - which is why I've given this idea special attention. I myself can understand why its a horrible argument, but in the past I've found that its much harder to convince people other then myself of that.

So one day I spent a few hours pondering just this one question, in hopes to get a very simple rebuttal to this idea that might speak. I think I came up with a very good rebuttal.

For those who might not have encountered the watchmaker argument, I will repeat it here, and also add in the emotional aspect that is often thrown in by Christians.

The Watchmaker Argument

Imagine that you're walking down the beach one day and a glint catches your eye. Now, you notice that nothing else on this beach is giving off this reflection of light, so curiosity gets the best of you and you walk over to investigate. Once you reach your destination, you reach down part the sand back only to find a nice shiney pocketwatch. Immediately you begin to ponder where this pocketwatch came from. You open the face of the watch and notice that it has a face and moving hands that relay information to you, information in the form of telling you what time it is. You look up and down the beach, neither the sand nor the water have this ability. You decide to look into this matter even more, and you open the pocketwatch only to find a system of gears working in perfect harmony. Again you look up and down the beach and neither the sand nor the water has the intent or the purpose this pocketwatch has. You think to yourself, surely the sand couldn't have coughed up this pocketwatch, nor could the water have. This watch could only have come from a watchmaker.

The analogy is, that complex items like a watch, require a maker. Since this is so, other complex items also have a creator, including the universe and life itself.

/end arguement

Now I haven't had the opportunity to spring this question yet, but I think it will be effective enough to trip this argument/analogy up, and open up the discussion for further critiques.

Rebuttal to the Watchmaker Argument:

So simply because watchmakers have the ability to make watches, God exists?

Lets pose a counter hypothetical situation. Lets pretend that we live in a world where humans cannot create anything, painters cannot paint paintings, builders cannot construct buildings, watchmakers cannot make watches, and hunters cannot even make simple spears. None of humanity can create anything. What can you find on the beach that would ignite this idea of a creator? There isn't anything you would find on the beach that would look out of place. Since this is so, this tells you something very important. This entire argument relies on the fact that we know that humans can create things. So lets focus on that one idea.

Again, this argument focuses on the fact that we humans can create things. We all know that watches come from watchmakers, that's simple. This argument takes advantage of this knowledge, and without notice, applies it to everything. The watchmaker argument claims that because a watch is complex and requires a creator, all complexity requires a creator. That is a big jump to make, and it gives us no reason to make that big jump.

Lets ponder this sort of jump in logic. Pretend I have a leaf and a twenty dollar bill. I first observe the leaf under a microscope and discover that it has cellulose structures which make it up. I then look at the twenty dollar bill under the microscope and also discover that it is made up of cellulose structures. I then take my already established knowledge that leafs grow on trees, and apply it to the twenty dollar bill and come to the conclusion that twenty dollar bills grow on trees.

How is this any different from the watchmaker argument? You're taking your alraedy established knowledge that watches come from watchmakers, and are applying it to all complexity for no reason. I say "no reason", because the argument doesn't tell us why we should apply the knowledge that the complexity within a pocketwatch requires a designer, to all complexity. Just like no reason was given in the leaf and twenty dollar analogy.

Again, this argument takes advantage of already known facts, facts about watches being made by watchmakers, and tries to apply it to everything with complexity. The only way this argument works is through blind faith. Blind faith is required here because we see no reason to use the idea that watches require a watchmaker and apply that to everything in existance.

This is blind faith repackaged, and since you didn't notice it I feel compelled to ask you one simple question. If you missed such an obvious attempt to repackage blind faith and present it as if it were some sort of deep philosophical idea, what else have you missed?

/end rebuttal

What do you guys think? Do I need to modify or change anything?

There are several ways to attack this idea, but these arguments have failed for me in the past. I honestly think that the other rebuttals I've used only "click" when you're looking at it from an atheists perspective. Hopefully this is more of a neutral argument that everyone can understand.

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Post #4

Post by Nilloc James »

Or you could point out that if you continued down the beach you would find a wall made a break layer, it was created by someone different and thus it supports polytheism not theism

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Post #5

Post by Shane »

I like your watchmaker rebuttal Taneras. I think the heart of your argument is solid.
If I'm not mistaken - your main point is that "believers" are making a flawed assumption for cause based on inconclusive data? I hope that's right. I like the analogy with the twenty dollar bill.

There's only a couple minor changes I would suggest.
Tighten it up a little bit. Maybe remove the list in the first paragraph. ..."painters cannot paint, builders cannot build, watchmakers cannot make watches..." and just leave, "Lets pretend that we live in a world where humans cannot create anything."
I think it will get the same point across. You can always clarify if they misunderstand you.

The last paragraph I would change it to simply read, "This is blind faith repackaged."
Leave out the rest. It comes across slightly aggressive. The more neutral the argument the less resistant your listener will be and it will increase your chances of swaying their belief or convincing them of your idea.
The less resistance the better IMO.

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Post #6

Post by LiamOS »

This is my general rebuttal of the first cause argument or the Cosmological Argument:
[color=blue]AkiThePirate[/color] wrote:
[color=red]WinePusher[/color] wrote:I do not know. Maybe you could explain how the decay of a neutron debunks the idea that it is reasonable to infer causation based on what we experience.
I'd be more than happy to. :D

To preface this, the neutron is composed of an 'up' quark(u) and two 'down' quarks(d).
The decay of a neutron occurs as follows:
One of the down quarks decays to an up quark with the emission of a W- boson, thus increasing the neutron's charge by 1 elementary charge, and decreasing its mass slightly. The new particle composed of two up quarks and one down is known as a proton.

Experimentally, it can be shown that neutron decay occurs probabilistically. This means that, at any given time, there is a probability that the neutron will decay. This probability is the same at all times, so the neutron's decay is 'random'.
It has not been shown that there are particles composing the fundamental particles used here, nor has it been successfully inferred mathematically.
Also, any particles composing these quarks would have to act probabilistically themselves to be consistent with the nature of neutron decay observed, meaning that positing further descent does not solve the problem.

Given this, concluding that there is a 'cause' for neutron decay is illogical and unwarranted. There may well be a cause, but it sure don't look like it.
If I've made any mistakes or failed to clarify something, please ask.

Given that there appears to be such an uncaused event within the universe, I think it illogical to necessitate cause for the universe.
There are also virtual particles which make an even better example than neutrons, but I just don't understand QED enough to use it as an example.

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Post #7

Post by McCulloch » ... o-god.html
  1. Inviolable Truths
  2. Defining God Out of Existence
    1. Free Will and Omniscience
    2. The Omnipotence Paradox
    3. Fully God and Fully Man
    4. The Intervening Scientific God
  3. Blasphemous Certainty
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Christians give more to charity than secularists, and much m

Post #8

Post by McCulloch » ... 065#342065

Christians give more to charity than secularists, and much more than Europeans do.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Post #9

Post by Question Everything »

Taneras wrote:
What do you guys think? Do I need to modify or change anything?
You need to point out that watches do not reproduce themselves. If they did, they would evolve too.
"Oh, you can''t get through seminary and come out believing in God!"

current pastor who is a closet atheist
quoted by Daniel Dennett.

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Post #10

Post by bernee51 »

Theist will often claim that all of us use 'faith'. We ahev faith that the brakes on our car will work or faith that the sun wil come up and that this is somehow the same as religious faith.

This is an equivocation fallacy.

My answer to this is, and, if you find it helpful please feel free to use.

I suggest that with your use of word 'faith' you believe you level the playing field and remove one of the atheist's more powerful arguments, namely that using reason when evaluating truth claims is superior to using faith.

This claim commits an equivocation fallacy with the term "faith." The only sort of "faith" which might be common among atheists is that of mere confidence based upon and limited by repeatable, objective experiences. This is the sort of faith which can apply to the "faith" that your brakes will work, the bridge won't fall down, or the "faith" that the sun will come up tomorrow. This "faith" is only as strong as the evidence or reason allows and it is defeatable given new evidence or arguments.

The faith you claim - religious faith in the existence of a god - is a very different matter - something Paul clearly recognized when he defined faith as the "...assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebr. 11:1) This is not the sort of faith If indeed the word can even be used) used by those who hold the theory of evolution best explains the observed universe: this is the sort of faith used by those who believe without sound empirical evidence.

The fact that atheists might have the former kind of faith and the fact that theists have the latter kind of faith does not mean that atheists and theists are operating or thinking the same way. It does not mean that we are forming and evaluating beliefs in a similar manner.
"Whatever you are totally ignorant of, assert to be the explanation of everything else"

William James quoting Dr. Hodgson

"When I see I am nothing, that is wisdom. When I see I am everything, that is love. My life is a movement between these two."

Nisargadatta Maharaj

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