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A Christian Apologist Takes On The Teapot


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Feast your eyes people. Feast your eyes on the wonders of apologia. Per The request of My Monkey-friend, it now lives in a thread.

 

 

BERTRAND RUSSSELLS'S TEAPOT ARGUMENT

 

 

With the appearance of an irritating rash of new books promoting atheism, arguments fly back and forth for the anti-God and pro-God positions. Some cases for God’s existence are not argued legitimately. Christians cannot afford to make bogus arguments to the embarrassment of the cause of Christ. Atheists will pick up these “broken swords” and whack us over the head with them.

 

Occasionally a demand by sincere believers is this: “You cannot prove God does not exist.” This statement involves a logical fallacy — the challenge to prove a universal negative. Logically, one cannot prove a universal negative; in order to do so he would have to be everywhere, and know everything — which is an impossibility.

 

Bertrand Russell, the British atheist, once ridiculed this form of argumentation by calling it the “celestial teapot argument.” In response to the quip, “you can’t prove God doesn’t exist,” Russell in essence said, “neither can one disprove the idea that there is a teapot orbiting the sun.” He can’t. But the question is: is there any evidence for such?

 

Atheism, by definition, is itself negative — from the negative prefix, a (no) and theos (God). It is a baseless assertion without the support of logical argumentation.

 

But atheists themselves are not immune to making illogical arguments. They believe that life, at the beginning, spontaneously generated itself. When asked for evidence of this thesis, an atheist might say: “Prove to me it didn’t happen that way.” No one could; that’s the sort of negative that cannot be subjected to testing. The issue is: show me the evidence that life “jump-started” itself.

 

The Christian does not challenge: “Prove to me that God does not exist.” Rather, the legitimate approach is this. Here is the evidence for God’s existence. If my case is valid, one is logically driven (by default) to the conclusion that there is compelling evidence for God’s existence. In legal jargon, this is called a prima facie case; if there is nothing to refute it, it reasonably may be accepted as true, and atheism — its opposite — fails.

 

(1) All known evidence indicates that matter is incapable of creating itself. The first law of thermodynamics states that “matter” is neither being created nor destroyed; it only changes from one form to another. There is not a shred of evidence that any material object has ever created itself.

 

(2) All evidence suggests that matter is not eternal. The second law of thermodynamics states that as matter undergoes transformation, there is a negative effect, a running-down process. This implies a commencement point (just as a wound-up clock implies a starting time). Since matter is incapable of creating itself (and yet it exists), and since it had a commencement point, logic suggests it had a non-material cause.

 

(3) All evidence indicates that inorganic matter is incapable of generating life. But since life exists, a reasonable deduction is: there must be an explanation for life that is extraneous to, and independent of, the material.

 

(4) All evidence indicates that no strictly material object has moral sensitivity, i.e., a conviction of right versus wrong. In view of this, it is a reasonable conclusion that mankind’s moral sensitivity is to be found in a moral source beyond the material.

 

(5) All evidence indicates that objects characterized by design have been produced by an intelligent designer. The universe, earth’s environment, molecules, cells, biological organisms, etc., reflect design. They thus point to an intelligent Designer.

 

Atheism has nothing to compare with this line of positive argumentation. All it can say is, “I deny, I deny!” It is the “religion” of negativism. As a Texan might express it, “They are all hat and no cattle.”

 

 

 

 

That is right. You read it..........now believe.

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But atheists themselves are not immune to making illogical arguments. They believe that life, at the beginning, spontaneously generated itself. When asked for evidence of this thesis, an atheist might say: “Prove to me it didn’t happen that way.” No one could; that’s the sort of negative that cannot be subjected to testing. The issue is: show me the evidence that life “jump-started” itself.

I kind of agree. We can't prove abiogenesis (spontaneous generation is something different, which shouldn't be confused with abiogenesis).

 

But I don't think atheists are atheists because they believe in abiogenesis. They're atheists because they don't believe in God. Asantaists (those who don't believe in Santa Claus) are not unbelievers in Santa because they believe in the Easter Bunny. It's just that they don't believe in one thing. Some atheists believe in panspermia, so where would they be placed if abiogenesis is a requirement to be an atheist? :shrug:

 

In other words, argument from lack of proof for abiogenesis is nothing but a red herring.

 

The Christian does not challenge: “Prove to me that God does not exist.” Rather, the legitimate approach is this. Here is the evidence for God’s existence. If my case is valid, one is logically driven (by default) to the conclusion that there is compelling evidence for God’s existence. In legal jargon, this is called a prima facie case; if there is nothing to refute it, it reasonably may be accepted as true, and atheism — its opposite — fails.

The evidence for evolution is more compelling...

 

(1) All known evidence indicates that matter is incapable of creating itself. The first law of thermodynamics states that “matter” is neither being created nor destroyed; it only changes from one form to another. There is not a shred of evidence that any material object has ever created itself.

Wrong. The first law of thermodynamics does not state that matter changes from one form to another.

 

It talks about energy, not matter.

 

If Christians want to argue against non-Christians and use science, it would be nice if they got the particulars right first.

 

In other words, this is a strawman.

 

There is a law in chemistry that in chemical reactions that mass stays the same, matter can't be destroyed in chemical reactions.

 

But the chemical laws are not the same as the nuclear laws. When it comes to nuclear science, matter can be created and destroyed. Einstein's famous formula E=mc2 means exactly that. The nuclear reactors we have a built upon a physical reality and fact that matter can become energy. According to this Christian, nuclear plants works by pure fucking magic and not physical laws.

 

 

(2) All evidence suggests that matter is not eternal. The second law of thermodynamics states that as matter undergoes transformation, there is a negative effect, a running-down process. This implies a commencement point (just as a wound-up clock implies a starting time). Since matter is incapable of creating itself (and yet it exists), and since it had a commencement point, logic suggests it had a non-material cause.

Scientists and well-informed atheists would agree that matter is not eternal, so this argument is moot.

 

(3) All evidence indicates that inorganic matter is incapable of generating life. But since life exists, a reasonable deduction is: there must be an explanation for life that is extraneous to, and independent of, the material.

All evidence (biology and genetics) suggest strongly, supported by evidence, that organic matter is a composition of fundamental elements of nature, i.e. inorganic matter.

 

Using false claims and lying about what science really have evidence for, does not prove anything. It only shows that this Christian is extremely ignorant about how DNA and epigenesis works.

 

(4) All evidence indicates that no strictly material object has moral sensitivity, i.e., a conviction of right versus wrong. In view of this, it is a reasonable conclusion that mankind’s moral sensitivity is to be found in a moral source beyond the material.

Words on paper doesn't carry the ideas either. So therefore ideas don't exist in books? It's related to the interchange of carriers of information and process of information. This is a philosophical question and a scientific question, but the argument doesn't really prove anything.

 

Does this mean that the words in the Bible have no meaning? They're just physical ink printed on physical paper, so there can't be no meaning to them.

 

(5) All evidence indicates that objects characterized by design have been produced by an intelligent designer. The universe, earth’s environment, molecules, cells, biological organisms, etc., reflect design. They thus point to an intelligent Designer.

No they don't. There are plenty of evidence that the designer is stupid, not intelligent.

 

On the outside, we look like all things are under control, but under the skin, we're a mess (biologically speaking).

 

Atheism has nothing to compare with this line of positive argumentation. All it can say is, “I deny, I deny!” It is the “religion” of negativism. As a Texan might express it, “They are all hat and no cattle.”

I missed the positive argumentation, where is it? I saw ignorance upon ignorance, but nothing that was positively proven. :shrug:

 

---

 

Thanks FoolishGirl for posting this. It's always fun to look at Christian arguments.

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Atheism, by definition, is itself negative — from the negative prefix, a (no) and theos (God). It is a baseless assertion without the support of logical argumentation.

Atheism is not an assertion in need of evidence. It is nothing more than the conclusion one must draw when faced with a lack of evidence for the existence of gods. They never get that distinction.

 

The difference between a theist and an atheist is what one is willing to accept as evidence. Ancient texts with questionable histories, "revealed" wisdom, visions, dreams, coincidence, circular philosophical meanderings and emotional need don't qualify as evidence for me; YMMV.

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Where the Christian argument tries to get to is that the universe required a non-material being outside of space and time to have created the material universe. So, where's the evidence of a non-material being and that this non-material being can create matter? They haven't presented positive evidence for this, they have only tried to reach the point that there was a time when there was no matter, posited a being capable of creating matter from nothing and left us there. They haven't taken the giant leap of demonstrating the existence of this being nor of demonstrating its alleged ability to create anything. All they have done, if you give them credit for this, which is questionable, is to take us back to the big bang and not before in the same way that science can't do this yet. In other words, it's another case of the god of the gaps. The gap is the generation of matter from nothing and this non-material being is an attempt to fill the gap since we can't yet explain from where matter came prior to the big bang. The inability to explain a fact is not solved by positing another alleged fact which, itself, cannot be explained.

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Where the Christian argument tries to get to is that the universe required a non-material being outside of space and time to have created the material universe. So, where's the evidence of a non-material being and that this non-material being can create matter? They haven't presented positive evidence for this, they have only tried to reach the point that there was a time when there was no matter, posited a being capable of creating matter from nothing and left us there. They haven't taken the giant leap of demonstrating the existence of this being nor of demonstrating its alleged ability to create anything. All they have done, if you give them credit for this, which is questionable, is to take us back to the big bang and not before in the same way that science can't do this yet. In other words, it's another case of the god of the gaps. The gap is the generation of matter from nothing and this non-material being is an attempt to fill the gap since we can't yet explain from where matter came prior to the big bang. The inability to explain a fact is not solved by positing another alleged fact which, itself, cannot be explained.

 

Yeah, they basically cannot prove that there was ever a time when there was nothing. As you approach the moment of the big bang, it seems the universe has infinite density, if I understand correctly. This is as far from nothing as one can get. One cannot say what was before the big bang or if there even was any time before the big bang.

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One cannot say what was before the big bang or if there even was any time before the big bang.

My opinion is that "time before time began" is a contradiction. It's like saying which number is smaller than zero, or what positive natural number comes before 1. (Natural numbers start with 1)

 

To me, "before" means something that relates to a time before something else. To say Time A before Time B, is to say that Time A exists. But if Time B is the fist time, then Time A can't exist.

 

One solution could be to create a new time concept, a kind of multidimensional time perhaps, which extends beyond what we consider time in this universe.

 

Anyway, I agree with everything that you said. :grin:

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article:

... (5) All evidence indicates that objects characterized by design have been produced by an intelligent designer. The universe, earth’s environment, molecules, cells, biological organisms, etc., reflect design. They thus point to an intelligent Designer.

 

Atheism has nothing to compare with this line of positive argumentation. All it can say is, “I deny, I deny!” It is the “religion” of negativism. As a Texan might express it, “They are all hat and no cattle.”

All evidence does not point to a designer.

But if they want to insist it does, then a pothole filled with water also indicates intelligent design.

The pothole was perfectly designed to hold the water contained in it.

 

And talk about a negative religion!

The jump from a possible intelligent designer to the Christian God is a leap of faith that requires a dreamy absurdity as the theme.

This God, whose works are declared to be perfect, regrets what he created and floods the world to fix it, knowing ahead of time that it wouldn't solve the problem.

He then gives rules for proper behavior that will save people, but then scraps that plan and decides to sacrifice himself to himself so that new rules can take effect.

People are then told that if they deny any of this, they'll suffer damnation.

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The jump from a possible intelligent designer to the Christian God is a leap of faith that requires a dreamy absurdity as the theme.

 

" . . . a dreamy absurdity as the theme."

 

Nicely put centauri! That whole straw man argument of an article was quite tiresome, but I'm glad I read this thread just for that poignant phrase.

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Where the Christian argument tries to get to is that the universe required a non-material being outside of space and time to have created the material universe. So, where's the evidence of a non-material being and that this non-material being can create matter? They haven't presented positive evidence for this, they have only tried to reach the point that there was a time when there was no matter, posited a being capable of creating matter from nothing and left us there. They haven't taken the giant leap of demonstrating the existence of this being nor of demonstrating its alleged ability to create anything. All they have done, if you give them credit for this, which is questionable, is to take us back to the big bang and not before in the same way that science can't do this yet. In other words, it's another case of the god of the gaps. The gap is the generation of matter from nothing and this non-material being is an attempt to fill the gap since we can't yet explain from where matter came prior to the big bang. The inability to explain a fact is not solved by positing another alleged fact which, itself, cannot be explained.

 

So what is your explanation for the coming about of time and space?

You may not make up some sort of divine being before the start of the universe, because that would be cheating since there was no time or space for it to have existed in.

How did the universe come about, what made it be there?

Atheists worship logic and reasoning, so even the Big Bang cannot have happened or started without a reason.

 

 

 

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Where the Christian argument tries to get to is that the universe required a non-material being outside of space and time to have created the material universe. So, where's the evidence of a non-material being and that this non-material being can create matter? They haven't presented positive evidence for this, they have only tried to reach the point that there was a time when there was no matter, posited a being capable of creating matter from nothing and left us there. They haven't taken the giant leap of demonstrating the existence of this being nor of demonstrating its alleged ability to create anything. All they have done, if you give them credit for this, which is questionable, is to take us back to the big bang and not before in the same way that science can't do this yet. In other words, it's another case of the god of the gaps. The gap is the generation of matter from nothing and this non-material being is an attempt to fill the gap since we can't yet explain from where matter came prior to the big bang. The inability to explain a fact is not solved by positing another alleged fact which, itself, cannot be explained.

 

So what is your explanation for the coming about of time and space?

You may not make up some sort of divine being before the start of the universe, because that would be cheating since there was no time or space for it to have existed in.

How did the universe come about, what made it be there?

Atheists worship logic and reasoning, so even the Big Bang cannot have happened or started without a reason.

 

I don't have one.

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Atheists worship logic and reasoning, so even the Big Bang cannot have happened or started without a reason.

 

Reasoning and a reason, or purpose, are two separate concepts. We may never know, at least in our lifetimes, this basic secret to the universe. Invoking a god just makes the question more complicated though. If a god was first cause, assuming first cause is even a meaningful concept, how did he come to exist?

 

Step back and look at what we know about life on this planet. We know for a fact that it evolved from simple, one-celled organisms into the complex, multi-celled organisms that exist today. We don't know how life began in the one-celled organisms, but that's another issue.

 

But then people propose a god, some force that is so powerful as to not only be massively intelligent, but also able to create the vast universe. Did he too emerge from simple to complex like everything we know did? If so, in what environment? And what basic materials did he use? Basically, your answer here is "it's magic," which is a non answer. It all becomes nonsensical when you break it down and back track through the maze that ultimately springs from the claim.

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Atheists worship logic and reasoning, so even the Big Bang cannot have happened or started without a reason.

 

"Worship?" Really? I call a foul on that depiction. Many atheists highly value logic and reasoning as a superior way to solve problems and evaluate claims in this life. But I also know atheists who don't give a damn about logic and reasoning. They just don't see any reason to believe in a god.

 

One could just as easily say "theists worship irrationality and fantasy." That would be a grand distortion. But to say "atheists worship logic and reasoning" is also a distortion and misrepresentation to the highest degree.

 

Nobody has to give an explanation for the "beginning" of time and space if they don't have one. But that doesn't make it valid to claim that god must necessarily exist because we don't, as of yet have, an explanation for why things exist.

 

"The Big Bang" cannot have happened or started without a reason" is a problematic statement. Are you saying that there must necessarily be an intelligence that willed the universe into existence? Or are you saying that some mechanism must have triggered the great expansion that has become known as "the Big Bang?" Those are two distinct ways that your statement could be interpreted and I wonder what you mean by "reason" in this case.

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So what is your explanation for the coming about of time and space?

Since it's currently beyond our human intelligence and ability to know, any explanation would have to be a guess or belief.

 

You may not make up some sort of divine being before the start of the universe, because that would be cheating since there was no time or space for it to have existed in.

To not exist is the same to not exist. It can't exist and exist simultaneous. So if this beyond time-and-space thing exists, then how does it exist without time and without space? The explanation would have to be made up, not found out, since we can't know.

 

How did the universe come about, what made it be there?

We don't know. That's more honest than to say that we do know and it was fairy godmother and her pixies.

 

Atheists worship logic and reasoning, so even the Big Bang cannot have happened or started without a reason.

Worship? Sure. I bow down and pray to logic and reasoning every morning and night. I sacrifice some pigs by removing their entrails and burn them as burnt offering on the weekends. :) Just kidding. I'm too tired to pray every night... :HaHa:

 

But sure, maybe there was a reason or cause, but I look at it the same way as when an apple falls off an apple tree. What caused the apple to fall? And what made it possible to fall? Answer me those questions and you have the blueprint for the thoughts how the universe came about.

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One cannot say what was before the big bang or if there even was any time before the big bang.

My opinion is that "time before time began" is a contradiction. It's like saying which number is smaller than zero, or what positive natural number comes before 1. (Natural numbers start with 1)

 

To me, "before" means something that relates to a time before something else. To say Time A before Time B, is to say that Time A exists. But if Time B is the fist time, then Time A can't exist.

 

One solution could be to create a new time concept, a kind of multidimensional time perhaps, which extends beyond what we consider time in this universe.

 

I see "time" as a human concept. We are constantly in the "now," and "time" is simply our way of understanding an order of events. Thus, from my perspective, asking about "time" before "time" began is meaningless, because "time" didn't begin, it's just a concept.

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One cannot say what was before the big bang or if there even was any time before the big bang.

My opinion is that "time before time began" is a contradiction. It's like saying which number is smaller than zero, or what positive natural number comes before 1. (Natural numbers start with 1)

 

To me, "before" means something that relates to a time before something else. To say Time A before Time B, is to say that Time A exists. But if Time B is the fist time, then Time A can't exist.

 

One solution could be to create a new time concept, a kind of multidimensional time perhaps, which extends beyond what we consider time in this universe.

 

I see "time" as a human concept. We are constantly in the "now," and "time" is simply our way of understanding an order of events. Thus, from my perspective, asking about "time" before "time" began is meaningless, because "time" didn't begin, it's just a concept.

Yes, that could very well be the real solution. Like Legion said somewhere, that time is much more complex than we make it to be. And I think causality is also way more complex than us humans philosophize about.

 

The whole "unmovable mover", "first mover", or "first cause" comes from Greek philosophy and the idea that all causes and effects strings back together backwards in time to one point, just like Big Bang. But it also suggests that complex things come from simple things, not the reversed. God can't be more complex, he/she/it must be simpler. A quark at best.

 

Besides, if God was non-temporal, he could be self-caused, since he/she/it would exist in all time and no time simultaneous. The grandfather paradox doesn't apply in a non-temporal state.

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