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A response to Mark Carlton (part 1)

This is my response to this garbage.

His rant is in reference to our one-on-one debate.

Mark Carlton wrote:

Who Really Believes in Fairies?
The whole point of the analogy was that nobody really believes in fairies.



Mark Carlton wrote:

Several weeks ago there was a flare-up in an online discussion I was having with an atheist. Things were going along well until he compared faith in God with faith in fairies. At this point I let him know that putting faith in God in the same category with belief in fairies, Santa, and the Easter Bunny was offensive. A simple apology would have sufficed. Instead he and a number of other of my atheist friends jumped in to defend his statement. So I decided to break off what had been a very interesting conversation.
You are a liar. Why didn't you link to the conversation so that your readers could see for themselves how the conversation went? This first paragraph is misleading and dishonest, and you know it.



1. Saying "there was a flare-up" is a very passive way of avoiding reality. You "flared-up" with your outburst after I repeatedly asked you to tell me what you knew about me based on the label "atheist". You, of course, still haven't answered the question.



2. Things were going well until you singled out one thing and spun it so you could take offense. I will repeat this again. I don't believe in your god for the same reasons both of us don't believe in fairies. The category you are refereing to (but won't share with your "readers") is that of non-existence, not of "childish and foolish" beliefs as you claimed in our discussion. I never said your beliefs were childish or foolish.



3. I won't apologize until you give me a suggestion of an analogy that wouldn't offend you. I was trying to demonstrate my disbelief using something I knew you wouldn't believe in. I will continue to defend my statement until you can explain why examining your beliefs is offensive. I have never attacked you as a person and I'm trying my best not to right now. Shall I list the thing you have called me personally and the reasons why? Your other atheist friends also defend my statement because it is a legitimate comparison to demonstrate the reasons for disbelief. I don't disbelieve your god because it is childish or foolish. Period. I disbelieve because I've never seen evidence.



4. While you may have wanted to break it off, you continued the conversation. You did not break off the conversation (however, you did successfully derail it by "taking offense"). Your last post was quite long and made several points that I didn't have time to address at that moment. When I finally got back to the conversation, I had lost interest and decided to take some time off. I don't get how that equates to you breaking off the conversation.



Mark Carlton wrote:

This is why I took offense: I am tired of atheists taking the posture that their’s is the rational and scientific position, when in fact, atheism, materialism, naturalism, or whatever you want to call it, is no more rational than theism.
Again, you are being dishonest. You told me you took offense because you thought I was calling you childish and foolish for believing in god.



We were having a one-on-one conversation, yet you continue to lump me in with the strawman that is your definition of atheism. We hadn't yet discussed much about science or materialism, naturalism, or whatever you think I have to believe as a result of my atheism. You still haven't told what it is you know about my beliefs. And I still haven't made the claim that "there is no god". I don't think we will ever know for sure, but your assertions aren't enough for me to say "there is a god". Likewise, I wouldn't say "there is a god" if a Muslim were to make similar assertions. Until that time comes, I simply say that I lack a belief in god. Call this what you will. I call it atheism. I don't tell you what a Christian is (or what one should believe), so why should you get to tell me what an atheist is (or what one should believe)?



As for materalism, naturalism, et al, that is still something I am working out for myself.



Mark Carlton wrote:

In fact, I think our faith has a better foundation than their unbelief.
My disbelief is based on lack of evidence. Explain to me why "belief without evidence" has a better foundation than "disbelief until shown evidence".



Mark Carlton wrote:

Let me explain what I am referring to.
I have added numbering to make it easier to respond to.



Mark Carlton wrote:

1. We know that the universe we are living in is finite,[...]

2. [...]it had a beginning.

3. I think the evidence for Big Bang in now incontrovertible.

4. We also know that Big Bang has no naturalistic, materialistic or physical explanation,[...]

5. [...] that only leaves one logical possibility, it must have had a supernatural cause.
1. No, we don't know that. It could be finite, but we don't know what was before the Big Bang.

2. Again, we don't know if it had a beginning. It could have a beginning, but the laws of physics tell us that matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed.

3. I think it is also.

4. (see my responses below)

5. (see my response below)



Mark Carlton wrote:

4a. The reason we know the universe did not have a physical cause is that the laws of physics did not exist before Big Bang. The reason for this is that the laws of physics tell how the universe we’re living in operates, so until the universe came into existence there were no physical laws to govern it, no physics.
We don't know what existed before the Big Bang. Some theories propose an infinite regression of expanding and collapsing universes.



Mark Carlton wrote:

4b. We also know the universe did not have a naturalistic explanation because nature did not exist until Big Bang.
I'm not sure how this is different from physical.



Mark Carlton wrote:

4c. We know that there is no materialistic explanation for it either, because mater did not exist until Big Bang. In fact, time, space, and mater did not exist until after Big Bang.
We don't know what existed before the Big Bang.



Mark Carlton wrote:

5. So, since there is no natural, physical or materialistic explanation for Big Bang, a supernatural explanation is the only one left.
Well, considering that your whole argument is based on the assupmtion that we know all those things, a supernatural explaination remains one of the options, not the only one.



Mark Carlton wrote:

Now I know that scientists like Richard Dawkins are proposing solutions to this problem, and also to the anthropic principle, since it too would tend to favor a supernatural explanation for the order of the universe. But I also note that there is no scientific evidence for the solution they are proposing (infinite universe with an infinite number of outcomes).
The order of the universe isn't an explaination for the origin of the universe. If I show you a stack of bricks, does the order of (organization of) tell you anything obout the origins of those bricks. The order of the universe is simply a property of it, not an implication of what caused it.



You've basically just concluded that the only cause left to consider is one of supernatural origins, but then you add another proposal after your conclusion (infinite universe with an infinite number of outcomes). In science, this is a reason to reevaluate your hypothesis and start over.



Revised:

1. The Big Bang happened.

2. The universe may be infinite with respect to time.

3. We don't know what came before (or what caused) the Big Bang.

4. There are many theories for the origins of the universe, which include natural and supernatural explainations.

5. The laws of physics tell us that matter/cannot be created or destroyed and we've never seen an example of this happening.

6. It is unlikely that the matter/energy in the universe came from nowhere

7. So a supernatural explaination is not likely, but still possible.



Mark Carlton wrote:

The effort of these atheist scientists reminds me of the efforts of their brethren before them who proposed the “Steady State” theory to try to explain away Big Bang. They too had no evidence, but their motive was the same as Dawkins and company, to come up with something to close the door that had been opened to God by the actual facts of science.
Let me understand you. You are faulting atheists for proposing a new theory about the way the universe works? These "efforts" are continuous and important to the discovery of the workings of the universe. Steady State Theory was proposed, studied, and finally rejected due to theoretical calculations that showed that a static universe was impossible under general relativity and observations by Edwin Hubble that the universe was expanding. Steady State Theory was testable and Creationism is not. Scientists aren't guided by emotion or faith. When the proper evidence disproves it, a theory gets rejected and life moves on.



Let's focus on one particular proponent of this evil atheist theory. He motives don't seem to agree with your claim. Fred Hoyle, who was one of the astronomers that developed the Steady State Theory, also rejected chemical evolution saying: "Fred Hoyle" wrote:

If one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of...
Does that sound familiar?



In his book "Evolution from Space" (1982), he distanced himself completely from Darwinism. He stated that "natural selection" could not explain evolution. He also said "scientific challenges to evolution have “never had a fair hearing” because “the developing system of popular education [from Darwin’s day to the present] provided an ideal opportunity . . . for awkward arguments not to be discussed and for discrepant facts to be suppressed." There are many other quotes from him but none of them suggest he is an atheist with a motive.



The fact is that scientists are scientists. You are going to have to do better than speculate before you jump to conclusions about the motives of individuals. Have you ever even talked to a real scientist? They don't worry about finding out their theory is wrong. They don't intentionally guide the evidence. Do you know why they don't? They get found out. If a person falsifies scientific data or ignores relevant information and pubishes these "findings", then they lose funding because their research is flawed and they don't produce reliable real-world data. They lose the credentials that they spent years earning. They lose the respect of their peers for manipulating data. The whole point of the scientific method is to allow anyone with the skills and equipment to replicate the results.



If you are being honest, then you've no doubt read some of what Dawkins has written. If you haven't read him, then you are speaking from ignorance, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Find me a quote that shows Dawkins' motive is "to close the door that had been opened to God by the actual facts of science".



Mark Carlton wrote:

I note also that something is not scientific just because a scientist says it. The hypothesis being proposed by the atheist is impossible to test or observe, it’s beyond the reach of the scientific method, and there is absolutely no evidence for it. So how can it be called scientific when it is no more supportable than the idea of…Santa Claus or fairies?
Ha, I see what you did there. You've used my argument before I did. It is too bad for you though, that the statement works better for me.



I would have said "I note also that something is not scientific just because a creationist says it. The hypothesis being proposed by the creationist is impossible to test or observe, it’s beyond the reach of the scientific method, and there is absolutely no evidence for it. So how can it be called scientific when it is no more supportable than the idea of…Santa Claus or fairies?"



Do you really think that the disbelief in god is no more supportable than the idea of Santa? Show me the support for Santa again, I missed where you provided evidence of him. The fact is that disbelief is justifiable when the evidence is inconclusive or non-existent. Belief is not justifiable when the evidence is inconclusive or non-existent.



Mark Carlton wrote:

No, what Dawkins and his followers are really doing is refusing to go to the place the evidence leads.
No, what Dawkins and other scientists are really doing is refusing to form a conclusion based on what they want to be true. By the way, Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist not a physicist. Evolution isn't intended to explain the origins of the universe.



Mark Carlton wrote:

And so I refuse to allow those who hold to a theory of origins which has less to commend it than the explanation I hold to pretend that their faith in eternal something is more reasonable than my belief in an eternal God.
You still have to show me why atheism requires faith. Athesim isn't a belief, it is a lack of belief. It is a refusal to accept an unsupported proposition.



Would you call not collecting stamps a hobby? Would you call bald a hair color?



I may as well respond to both of your readers while I'm here.



javajayne wrote:

I find it interesting that the atheistic approach to explaining the origins of the universe requires as much, if not more, faith as the belief in intelligent design.
If she is referring to science, then science is not an "atheistic approach". The scientific method is the most reliable way to figure out how the universe works. It doesn't rely on faith at all.



javajayne wrote:

It is a much bigger leap of faith, in my mind, to believe that all that we see, and beyond, just “happened.” The complexities of the atom and DNA alone are far too intricate for chance to dictate.
Of course! The argument from personal incredulity. Why didn't I think of that? Oh, wait. That's because it is a logical fallacy. Mark, you should tell javajayne to go learn about... oh nevermind.



javajayne wrote:

I have found in my own conversations that equating the belief in God with belief in the tooth fairy is an effort to get out of the corner the atheist has so eloquently painted himself into.
See Mark. This is why being dishonest about how the conversation went and misrepresenting my argument is important. Now javajayne has that extra strawman to show her friends and comment on. If you would stop misleading people, then she might know the actual analogy I used.



javajayne wrote:

There comes a point when reason and evidence leads to God Almighty. When faced with that reality what else is the atheist to do?
Well, first, I'd like to see that evidence.



Conroy wrote:

I was going to comment, but I see that Javajayne has said exactly what I wished to say. And I agree with what Mark said above completely. I just wanted to add a little bit.
Please, go on.



Conroy wrote:

I’ve been confronted with this silly little argument about “fairies” and “unicorns” and “minotaurs” not being real, just like God (or whatever the atheist thinks a god to be) is not real.
Let me guess. Conroy, you believe that there are no "real atheists"? "Whatever the atheist thinks a god to be" seems to imply that we are defining god. We are not. Every argument I've ever come across is a response to the apologetic. In fact, the very word atheist is a response to the word theist. There would be no a-theists, if there weren't any theists first.



Atheists use whatever proposed definition (out of the thousands that have been proposed) that theists give. If Conroy's definition of god has as much evidence as fairies and unicorns and minotaurs, then let him share it.



Conroy wrote:

What I like about writers like C.S. Lewis and others, is that they respond to this argument by saying “how do you know they are not real?”
Hmmm, it's interesting that Bertrand Russell had been using this argument for years:



Bertrand Russell wrote:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
The point that Conroy forgets is that it takes no faith to not belief in fairies, unicorns, minotaurs, or flying teapots orbitting the sun.



Conroy wrote:

In fact, a unicorn does exist, at least in the mind.
I can't argue with that, but I'm not going to believe it's REAL.



Conroy wrote:

Although a squared-circle, or some other happenstance of mathematics or logic or science, like something coming from nothing, can’t even be imagined.
Another strawman. Scientists don't claim that something came from nothing. Scientists claim that we don't know were everything came from. The irony of this argument: theists do believe that god came from nothing.



Conroy wrote:

So, I like to think that fairies are more real than mathematics,[...]
I'll go slow. Pick up two rocks. Now pick up two more. Hey Conroy, How many rocks do you have in your hands? 5? Nope. Sorry. Thanks for playing.



Conroy wrote:

[...] miracles are more actual than experiments,[...]
I'm from Missouri. Show me.



Conroy wrote:

[...] and God is necessarily more real than Richard Dawkins.
Does your god have a website? Maybe a podcast? No. Just a few billion humans claiming to "know" him without actually ever meeting him. Damn. I was hoping to meet him.



Conroy wrote:

Or, to paraphrase Chesterton, if there were no God, there would be no Richard Dawkins.
See above.



Mark Carlton wrote:

JJ and Conroy, thanks for the very good and thoughtful comments, and thanks for putting up with the errors of the first draft. I wrote it in haste just before we had to leave for Denver. Conway, I especially like the unicorn answer. Leave it to C.S. Lewis to come up with a great answer out of left field. But what was truly amazing to me in the above mentioned discussion with my atheist friends was that they could not seem to understand why I would take offense.
I think I know why you took offense. Because you didn't want to answer the questions I raised earlier in the conversation. Leave it to Bertrand Russell to use the exact answer to show how rediculous blind faith can be.

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7 Comments:

At February 2, 2008 at 3:59 PM , Blogger Stephen said...

"The reason we know the universe did not have a physical cause is that the laws of physics did not exist before Big Bang. The reason for this is that the laws of physics tell how the universe we’re living in operates, so until the universe came into existence there were no physical laws to govern it, no physics."

But isn't the law of cause and effect one of these laws of the universe that came into effect with the big bang?

The fact of the matter is that we don't know what did or didn't exist before the big bang. We might never know. But to think this gap in knowledge makes faith in an invisible nonanswer any more rational is completely absurd.

 
At February 2, 2008 at 9:00 PM , Blogger bugsoup said...

In the thread where he claimed he took offense, Mark actually said "I assume you're being coy. This is just basic logic. We now know that the universe is not finite. So unless you are going to try to make the argument that something can come from nothing [...]"

This is completely contrary to what he's said here, "Let me explain what I am referring to. We know that the universe we are living in is finite, it had a beginning. I think the evidence for Big Bang in now incontrovertible."

It seems as though he either doesn't know what he's talking about, or he's using completely opposite positions depending on the point he's trying (unsuccessfully) to make.

 
At March 5, 2008 at 12:35 AM , Blogger DromedaryHump said...

if comparing belief in god to belief in fairys is offensive to this theist, perhaps he'd be more comfortable with belief in werewolves, vampires, or Brain eating Zombies.

On the other hand, if those offend him as well, perhaps we're hitting too close to home.

Anyway, Bug...time to update this blog.

 
At March 5, 2008 at 7:47 PM , Blogger Mark Carlton said...

Bugs, I do appreciate your pointing out that after the steady state things Fred Hoyle finally was forced to recognize that the evidence you refuse to see points to God. In in the quote you posted in response to Stephen I misspoke. I clearly meant to say, "we know the universe is finite." That is my position. I'm sorry if my typo caused you to misunderstand my position.

 
At March 5, 2008 at 7:47 PM , Blogger Mark Carlton said...

Hi Bugs, I did appreciate what you wrote about Hoyle. He did finally convert. Bugs, in the quote you posted in your response to Stephen I clearly misspoke. What I meant to say is we know the universe is finite.

 
At March 5, 2008 at 10:27 PM , Blogger bugsoup said...

Mark Carlton said "Bugs, I do appreciate your pointing out that after the steady state things Fred Hoyle finally was forced to recognize that the evidence you refuse to see points to God."

The evidence you have given is not "known". It is speculation. Did you even read the post?

And please stop calling me Bugs. I've told you several times to call me Soup if you need a shortcut for my nickname. Is it intentional that you refuse to spell names correctly or call some of us over at Differhonestly.com by our chosen names? It really smells of disrespect when you do that.

It's ecogeek or eco, not ecco. It's sampa not sampra. It's Soup, not Bugs.

Mark Carlton said "In in the quote you posted in response to Stephen I misspoke. I clearly meant to say, "we know the universe is finite." That is my position. I'm sorry if my typo caused you to misunderstand my position."

You have not shown me any reason to believe that you know what you are talking about. We don't know if the universe is finite or infinite, but you seem to be using whichever fits into your logic of the day.

Do you have anything to say about the rest of my post? You should be less concerned with my philosophy and more concerned with addressing the points.

 
At May 5, 2008 at 3:53 AM , Blogger bugsoup said...

Mark, I'm coming back to this because you continue to misrepresent what you "know" and what you "clearly meant to say".

Let's assume that you meant to say, "we know the universe is finite." This makes your full statement:

"We now know that the universe is finite. So unless you are going to try to make the argument that something can come from nothing, or that the universe is an illusion (but this would be a supernatural explanation) then the present universe must have either a natural or a supernatural cause."

It just doesn't make any sense that way.

 

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