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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Reviewing the debate

Steampunk Koala - now there's a name - reviews On the Existence of Gods:
First, let's address the format.... All in all, it worked extremely well, and I would like to see it used elsewhere.

The second thing, and perhaps the most important thing, was the effort that went into defining what a god is, as well as evidence and logic. It's very rare to see it even come up in a debate in a meaningful way, and that has always struck me as foolish. It seems a  bit like arguing for or against string theory but never actually defining the model you are using.

I have long felt that this is the largest issue with the discussion, as the average  Atheist I have talked to has built a mental narrative in which they cannot lose by defining a god as a being who does magic, magic breaks physics and is fake, and anything that falls within any form of natural law is not magic, therefore not a god. As Vox very neatly points out, there is an issue of scale to be considered, regardless of where you draw the line.

Likewise, I know a lot of fellow Christians that feel that examining the topic closely is either a waste of time or even a bit sinister, as though wondering about how it all works is going to somehow change the facts.

It's also worth noting that I found the material compelling enough that my first attempt at this review ended up blossoming into a short book length examination of the arguments made rather than a review proper. There is a lot of meat here for the taking.... On the balance, this book is a must-read for any serious seeker, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum.
I have to confess that as a game designer, it is gratifying to see that some readers have recognized the merits in the debate format. And it's good to know that many of those who are very familiar with the subject nevertheless found it to bring something new to the age-old discussion. On the Existence of Gods is available at Amazon.

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21 Comments:

Blogger James Higham March 29, 2016 1:41 PM  

[Vox, off topic - Corey L charged in Fields case - get onto it, man.]

Blogger BunE22 March 29, 2016 1:49 PM  

@ 1

Saw this http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-idUSKCN0WV1TP and noticed that Corey has Michelle by the upper arm. So how were there bruises on her lower arm?

Blogger Ingot9455 March 29, 2016 1:50 PM  

The top-down security camera does make it more clear. It's damn weak sauce for a court, though.

Blogger Joseph Gill March 29, 2016 1:57 PM  

Vox,

About the format, what it made it so successful in your opinion? I'm not really an in depth gamer like you and was curious why you structured it the way you did?

Anonymous Ronnie March 29, 2016 2:33 PM  

@2

Simple, she injured herself for attention. Something women have done throughout human history.

Blogger Steampunk Koala March 29, 2016 3:03 PM  

I get a blog post too? This is turning into a great day, I need to write more.

@3: Given the Hulk case and the Ghomeshi case, I'm liking Lewandowski's odds, especially with Trump backing him up.

Blogger Tom K. March 29, 2016 4:41 PM  

She has no case. Life is a contact sport. Journalism is the Pro Wrestling of media. If you are going to push yourself where you don't belong (to get your "story"), you're going to get handled.

Can you imagine if she wins? What that would do to the whole celebrity crush joirnalists and paparazzi cause? Subjects will start demanding a 50 media-free zone whenever they are in public.

Not gonna happen. But in the meantime, Trump gets smeared.

Blogger Tom K. March 29, 2016 4:42 PM  

She has no case. Life is a contact sport. Journalism is the Pro Wrestling of media. If you are going to push yourself where you don't belong (to get your "story"), you're going to get handled.

Can you imagine if she wins? What that would do to the whole celebrity crush joirnalists and paparazzi cause? Subjects will start demanding a 50 media-free zone whenever they are in public.

Not gonna happen. But in the meantime, Trump gets smeared.

Blogger B.J. March 29, 2016 4:53 PM  

As an atheist, I agree that Vox won the debate. His arguments were more persuasive and coherent. Dominic was a good sport, but he was attacking a castle with no cannons, no towers, no ram, not even a ladder.

I don't think it is a fair debate topic, though that is not Vox's fault. It's what Myers originally claimed and what Dominic agreed to. But it's not a fair view on the subject.

This is the standard motte and bailey for defending theism. You replace 'proof of god' with 'doubt of science' and hope no one calls you on it (Dominic didn't). Then you push the atheist into admitting they can't rule out the possibility of the existence of something which may resemble a god or gods. Most people consider that a win.

The problem I have with that is no priest suggests the possibility of a god or gods, they talk about very specific gods with very specific rules, demand very specific obedience, and ask for very real money. None of them can prove their god is real but that is the bailey position; when they are under attack they retreat to the motte position, which is just "you can't prove god(s) DON'T exist." Kinda weak basis for tithing 10% of my income.

Blogger Student in Blue March 29, 2016 5:46 PM  

I don't think it is a fair debate topic, though that is not Vox's fault. It's what Myers originally claimed and what Dominic agreed to. But it's not a fair view on the subject.

It's probably the most fair debate topic, as it's something that *has* to be addressed. and not just left as an assumption.

On its very face, this was not a debate meant to convert into Christianity as it is named "On The Existence of Gods".

To approach this a different way, consider the person opposite the atheist argued very specifically that his god(s) was/were real, and presumptively lost the debate. What then would that accomplish in the end for the atheist debating but to leave it completely open for any other religion to come in and take a potshot?

This is a very fair debate topic because it is a very important debate topic. If you shut down the existence of gods you shut down religion totally.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 29, 2016 6:16 PM  

Steampunk Koala wrote:I get a blog post too? This is turning into a great day, I need to write more.

Indeed you do.

Anonymous Takin' a Look March 29, 2016 6:50 PM  

Unfortunately, I have Tikkun Olum Syndrome. I try to ignore it and follow Christ in this world yet, it will drag me to hell.

Blogger Eric I. Gatera. March 30, 2016 3:28 AM  

It would be interesting to see VD use the same format with John Loftus on the validity of Christianity.

Blogger Roy Lofquist March 30, 2016 4:08 AM  

The debate, as with all of Vox's works, was very thought provoking. It sure beats the Gong Show "debates" as seen on TV. It, however, exhibits the same category error common to all of the arguments I have heard on the subject - attempting to suss the intersection of the physical world and the non physical. These are entirely different domains, orthogonal if you will.

For example, consider a fantasy scenario. Our hero astrally projects himself into the enemy's lair and listens to their plans. Real world - he telephones his agent (telepathy) who flies an insect sized drone (telekinesis) into the room and he observes the actions via the camera and microphone on the drone (remote viewing). This is an illustration of the Arthur C. Clarke statement about sufficiently advanced technology. This is not godlike. It exists today. The laws of physics account for the entirety.

What is godlike is the conception, design and manufacture of the gadgets. There is nothing within the realm of the physical, science if you will, that gives even a hint that this can happen without the intervention of an intelligent agent. We have only vague inklings of what ConciousnessIntelligenceThought is about. It is supernatural.

The materialist (atheist) contention is that all can eventually be explained by physics. That is a supreme, absolute faith that all that is apparent to even the casual observer is a grand illusion and that reality is infinitely simpler than it is.

Blogger Joshua Coleman March 30, 2016 5:48 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Steampunk Koala March 30, 2016 5:49 AM  

@14: That's precisely why I felt the primary victory of the debate wasn't moving the needle one way or the other, but demonstrating conclusively that the argument has nothing to do with facts, but rather one's perception of their place and station within the universe.

There is more than sufficient evidence for the existence of beings far enough removed from man as to be considered gods, the division is between those who accept that they are a created thing in a created universe made for a purpose not of their own making, and those who believe that all natural law, consistency, morality, etc. are just random, happy, incalculably remote coincidence that leaves them with all the appearances and benefits of being a created thing with none of the pesky accountability.

Blogger Ahazuerus March 30, 2016 7:44 AM  

B.J.

A scientist would do the experiment.

"Test me and see" --God.

Contrary to the atheist position, there is no conflict between God and science/reason. God is simply the first and ultimate scientist.

Blogger Roy Lofquist March 30, 2016 12:57 PM  

@16,

I believe that we are in complete agreement, or as much so as two people ever could be. But as you said, "That's precisely why I felt the primary victory of the debate wasn't moving the needle one way or the other,". So the debate was a draw. The problem is that the materialists define the rules of the debate.

Resolved: There are things we can't explain. Science has made great advances in understanding the world. Just consider the hula hoop and the iPhone. Religion, on the other hand, is a mish mash of sentiments and weird stuff. Both sides make extraordinary claims but science has produced testable results therefore the burden of proof lies with religion.

Religion, as used here, is the pejorative term they use for non-material explanations. Their premise enfolds the logical fallacy of begging the question. They presume that science is powerful and can explain stuff so the non-materialist must disprove that contention. This leads to a no win situation in that the overwhelming evidence you cite can not be definitive because it does not meet the criteria THEY define as being dispositive.

The best strategy for advancing the truth, as we see it, is to question their premise. They must be confronted with the fatal flaw in their logic which is that materialism can not account for patterns. The fundamental governing principle of materialism is the second law of thermodynamics - entropy. Everything tends to mush.

This line of thought is not new. It is, in fact, ancient. Socrates first advanced the argument as telos - teleology. It has had many names over time. Perhaps the most familiar are "the argument from design" and "intelligent design". Teleology has fallen from favor but not from any logical flaws but rather as a result of the political struggle between the order temporal and the order spiritual.

Resolved: You just can't make an omelet from the rocks in your back yard.

Blogger Steampunk Koala March 30, 2016 5:18 PM  

@18: The line of thought is not new, but the same thing is true of this as communism; every generation thinks it has re-invented the wheel, and must be shown that, regardless of the move to rubber, or the addition of sweet rims, a wheel cannot of it's own power run uphill.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 31, 2016 3:00 PM  

Steampunk Koala wrote:@14: That's precisely why I felt the primary victory of the debate wasn't moving the needle one way or the other, but demonstrating conclusively that the argument has nothing to do with facts, but rather one's perception of their place and station within the universe.

There is more than sufficient evidence for the existence of beings far enough removed from man as to be considered gods, the division is between those who accept that they are a created thing in a created universe made for a purpose not of their own making, and those who believe that all natural law, consistency, morality, etc. are just random, happy, incalculably remote coincidence that leaves them with all the appearances and benefits of being a created thing with none of the pesky accountability.


See, there's also the divide between people who understand this, and the other 99 percent who refuse to believe that bigfoot is possible, much less plausible. I find this divide is more important, and it's a good way to start out any conversation of substance. "What do you think about bigfoot?" Great method of detecting those limited to rhetoric.

Anonymous Takin' a Look April 01, 2016 9:51 PM  

@ Aeoli Pera

The problem for me is...there is no real definition of "bigfoot/yeti/yowie, etc", wild/feral humans/hominids are a fact of life. It isn't as if all humans are are supposed to be "human" as we are taught.

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