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Posts: 2040
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 16 2008,04:00   

Barry A:
I will then show that far from being a bastion of pure reason, materialism actually requires greater faith commitments than theism.

We'll see about that.
Materialist believe that a real world exists outside of themselves and that they have trustworthy perceptions of this real world from their senses.

Not true.  If we assumed on faith that our senses were trustworthy, we'd be unable to detect their failures, as in the case of optical illusions.  Even the existence of the real world need not be taken on faith.  We take our sense perceptions as provisional evidence that the real world exists, but that doesn't prevent us from entertaining the possibility that it does not, as this entire discussion illustrates.
Again, as a matter of pure logic, I cannot prove that I am not at this moment a Boltzman Brain.

True, and as RB pointed out, it remains true for those who are theists.  The uncertainties in the numerator and denominator cancel out, as he put it, and so Barry cannot claim an advantage for the theist on this basis.
Materialists’ faith commitments do not stop there. Consider the following statement: “The universe is subject to rationale inquiry.” This statement is a “rock kicking” statement. All scientific inquiry is based on the assumption that it is true. Nevertheless, the truth of the statement cannot be established to a logical certainty or confirmed absolutely by examination of physical evidence.

Again, this need not be taken on faith. We can give science a try.  If it yields nothing but gibberish, we can consider the possibility that the world is not intelligible.  Faith is not necessary.
Finally, consider the very definitional presupposition of materialism, which can be reduced to the following statement: “The universe consists of space, matter and energy and nothing else.” Has this assertion been proven true?

Once again, we don't hold this position as a matter of faith, but because of the evidence.  Further evidence could change our minds.
Reason has a limit, and at the end of reason are first principles, and first principles must be accepted on faith; they cannot be demonstrated.

The validity of reason itself must be assumed by both the materialist and the theist.  Interestingly, the materialist can justify the idea that human reason is more or less trustworthy, because natural selection has shaped it.  Faulty reason would be a liability to its possessors, who would tend to be outcompeted by their more rational counterparts.

Theists, on the other hand (at least those who deny macroevolution), have no justification for saying that human reason is trustworthy.  They claim that God would surely grant us a reliable faculty of reason -- but this is purely assumption -- an article of faith.  Oops.
Far from being a blind leap, authentic Christian faith is a reasoned faith. It does not fly in the face of the evidence; rather it goes one step further than the evidence.

In other words, that "one step" is a blind leap.
For example, Christians, by definition, believe in the existence of God. Is this belief a blind “the moon is made of green cheese” leap? Certainly not, because, in a manner of speaking, God’s existence has been proved.
Certainly the existence of God has not been proven in the apodictic sense of the word, but it has been proven in every fair sense of the word “proven.”

Here Barry is arguing that if someone has presented a "proof", and it at least sort of makes sense, then God's existence can be said to be "proven".  But in that same retarded sense of the word, we can say that God's nonexistence has been "proven" because "proofs" of his nonexistence have been presented and make sense.

The burden of proof is on the theists, just as it is on the Celestial Teapotists -- and strong evidence, much less solid proof, has not been forthcoming.
Similarly, many people believe that such things as the existence of evil or the suffering of innocents counts as evidence against the existence of God. It is beyond the scope of this post to answer these objections, but they have been answered.

The question isn't whether someone has responded; it's whether someone has responded effectively.  The problem of evil has been giving theist philosophers the fits for thousands of years and continues to do so today, even if that fact is conveniently "beyond the scope of this post."

Incidentally, the problem of evil goes away if the theist drops the assumption that God is benevolent.  Why not follow the evidence and drop this assumption?  Could it be that you're hanging onto this belief as a matter of faith?
More to the point of this post, the fact that many people believe there is evidence that points away from the existence of God does not undermine my original conclusion. Authentic Christian faith is not a leap in the dark. It is a rational faith based upon a reasoned consideration of the evidence.

Really, Barry?  Then perhaps then you can outline for us the "reasoned consideration of the evidence" that leads you to the dogma of the Trinity, or any of a number of bizarre claims made by you and your coreligionists.
Consider two instances of the materialist faith dilemma. First, how does the materialist answer the question: “Why is there something instead of nothing?” For the theist this is an easy question. God, the uncaused first cause, created all things that exist.

To which the materialist can just as easily respond:  "Why is there God instead of nothing?"
Secondly, consider biological origins. By definition the materialist must believe that particles of matter, starting as the detritus of the nuclear furnaces at the center of long burned out stars, organized themselves with absolutely no plan or guidance into first elements and then planets and then organic compounds and then into animals and plants and humans and computers and space stations. The phrase “mud to mind” does not even begin to encompass the absurdity of the proposition.

This is just the old argument from incredulity.  It's interesting that Barry doesn't apply it to aspects of his own faith, such as (again) the doctrine of the Trinity.
I call materialists’ belief in these two propositions “materialist fideism.” It really is amusing to listen to materialists blast leap-in-the-dark faith, when their faith commitments dwarf those of even the most fundamentalist believer.

Hardly.  Theists end up making almost all of the same "faith commitments" as materialists, and most of these don't even involve faith, as I've already pointed out.  But the theist adds a doozy:  the assumption that there's an uncreated, eternally existing God.

Pretty lopsided, but not in the direction that Barry was thinking (or hoping).

And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don’t belong there and thoughts into my mind that don’t belong there. -- KF

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