A sword with no hilt

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Four“, Soli Deo Gloria, August 3, 2012)

Here’s something a bit unusual. I’m going to start this week’s discussion by agreeing that Pastor Feinstein has a point with some validity to it. I think it’s based more on a misunderstanding between himself and Russell, but he does correctly summarize a legitimate logical error. He quotes Russell as saying the following:

I don’t see any compelling reason to accept your premise that the existence of consistency depends on the existence of an absolute, trinitarian, universe-ruling God.  And if I were to somehow accept that consistency depends on this, we still would be no closer to justifying the claim that this God exists.”

Pastor Feinstein correctly points out that if A is necessary for B, then B cannot be true unless A is true also. Thus, if God were indeed necessary in order for the universe to exist, the existence of the universe would be sufficient to demonstrate the existence of God. Conversely, of course, if the universe exists and God does not, then that proves that God is not, in fact, necessary. I think that Russell’s point is more in line with the latter, i.e. that if God does not exist, then He cannot be necessary, especially given the flimsy and superstitious arguments that Pastor Feinstein provided as justification for the claim that God is necessary. Still, from a strictly technical standpoint, Pastor Feinstein is correct in objecting that you cannot logically accept the premises and then reject the conclusion, and that’s worth mentioning, not the least because of its rarity.

For the rest of his discussion, though, he wields logic like a sword with no hilt, heedless of the wounds he is inflicting on himself.

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Shells and switches

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Four“, Soli Deo Gloria, August 3, 2012)

One of the most important reasons why creationism does not belong in the classroom is because creationism promotes superstitious thinking, which is the antithesis of scientific thinking. Trying to think superstitiously about science really screws things up, and in today’s excerpt from Pastor Stephen Feinstein’s reply to Russell Glasser, we find an almost prototypical example.

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The Gypsy Curse

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Four“, Soli Deo Gloria, August 3, 2012)

Back when I was hosting this blog on my own server (well, a rented one anyway), I noticed the way some of Jesus’ self-professed followers seem to be operating under a curse.

It’s like a scene from an old B-grade black-and white horror flick: Jesus is walking down some dank alleyway in Jerusalem and carelessly bumps into an old gypsy woman, knocking her in the mud and muck, and then thoughtlessly laughing at her misfortune. Her deepset eyes blaze, and she scowls at him. “A curse upon you,” she mutters. “From now on, your followers and supporters will be unable to accuse their critics of any fault or fallacy without being guilty of the same thing themselves.” He, like all B-grade movie heroes, doesn’t take her seriously until her curse starts coming true. Only then does he realize, to his horror, that the curse is inexorable, inescapable, and infallible.

I think that old gypsy woman would cackle with glee if she were to read the material Pastor Feinstein has for us today.

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God and the PlayStation 3

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Four“, Soli Deo Gloria, August 3, 2012)

In his response to Pastor Feinstein’s third post, Russell Glasser raises 5 very good points:

  1. Both Stephen and Russell should agree that some concepts are axiomatic, requiring no explanation.  For Stephen, the axiom is God.  For Russell, reality and logic are axiomatic, and God is a needless insertion.
  2. Stephen cannot assert that the existence of logic requires justification, unless he also attempts to offer a justification of God.  If he believes that this is unnecessary, then he should grant point (1).
  3. If the assumptions for all parties are arbitrary then Russell should win this debate, since Stephen failed to meet the burden of proof that he implied when stating that atheism is impossible.  If the belief in God is merely Stephen’s preferred assumption, then it is not necessary, and may be discarded due to Occam’s Razor.
  4. Stephen’s claim that a godless universe must be a random universe (where “random” is used to mean “inconsistent,” “illogical,” or “haphazard,” as opposed to merely “undirected”) requires justification, otherwise I reject the premise.
  5. Stephen should justify how a God would go about “creating” the laws of logic, without himself being subject to logic.

Sounds like Pastor Feinstein has his work cut out for him.

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Scripted bows and bald assertions

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Three“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

In Pastor Stephen Feinstein’s opinion, his debate with Russell Glasser was already over by the end of his (Feinstein’s) third post. According to the script he seems to be reading from, it is now time to take a few bows, acknowledge the cheers of the crowd, and review how easily he was able to knock down all the unbeliever’s futile arguments.

That’s the problem with scripts like this. They never take into account the possibility that the atheist might have more and better things to say that what you’ve got written down for them in the script. The script, after all, is designed to be effective at convincing believers, not atheists.

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“Mission Accomplished”

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Three“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

We are roughly half-way through Pastor Feinstein’s 5-post series (not counting his unscheduled addendum after the official debate was over), and it’s time for him to begin taking bows and acknowledging the cheers of thousands before whom he believes he has made atheism look untenable.

I think I made a strong logical argument based on transcendental logic that the Biblical God is the necessary precondition of the uniformity of nature, which in turn is one of the necessary preconditions of intelligibility. This is simple logic, it is easy to follow, and you will not be able to casually dismiss it without looking ridiculous to the thousands that are now reading this.

At the top of the third post, as with the previous two, Pastor Feinstein notes that comments on the post have been turned off, and he promises that they will be enabled when “Russell and I agree that the debate is done.” Well, the debate has been done a good few months now, but comments on this post, like those on the first two, have not been re-enabled. That in itself, I think, suggests what the real verdict was from the thousands that have read it, even from where Pastor Feinstein is sitting.

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Polytheistic Trinitarianism

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Three“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

My first order of business today has to be a correction. At the end of last week’s post, I said “…Pastor Feinstein is going to declare to us how this “necessary Person” also has to be a Trinity. Not a Quadrinity or a Quintinity, a Trinity.” I misspoke. Pastor Feinstein’s argument does not establish that his superstitiously-defined Necessary Being is necessarily a three-person deity. In fact, the terms of his argument lead much more directly to the conclusion that the Necessary Being is a race of deities composed of any number of divine persons, or in short, polytheism. Maybe that’s why Genesis 1:1, literally translated, says, “In the beginning, gods created the heavens and the earth.”

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Where people come from

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Three“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

In last week’s post, we looked at how Pastor Stephen Feinstein took Russell Glasser’s “magical tiara” example and tried to debunk it. Saying that all logic and order in the universe are due to a magical tiara is nothing like saying all logic and order are due to God. Because, well, a tiara is different from a god, or something.

That argument doesn’t really do the job, so he’s going to try again, from a different angle.

A magical tiara is not sovereign or intelligent. Nor is it personal. Furthermore, it is not a unity of plurality. In the universe we see persons and non-persons (e.g. a tree). We have seen persons come from other persons, but we have never seen persons come from non-persons. Given that we are in a universe that is governed by causality rather than randomness, what are we to assume based on our observations and abilities of deduction? Persons came from non-persons? Life came from non-life, etc.? Given that these things have not been observed even under the great conditions of the earth as it is now, would it not be arbitrary to assume that it happened in such a way?

Who’s the uniformitarian now, eh?

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“I have written a book”

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Three“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

In his debate with Russell Glasser, Pastor Stephen Feinstein has so many answers, he could write a book. No wait, he already has! It’s a book that explains everything that’s wrong with atheism, and a whole lot more. It might even explain too much, because it also explains everything that’s wrong with the Bible.

Oops.

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Enter the zingers

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Three“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

By his third post, Pastor Stephen Feinstein has grown tired of waiting for Russell Glasser to say the lines he’s supposed to say, according to the mental script Paster Feinstein wants the discussion to follow, and has begun introducing the atheist’s scripted arguments himself. How else can he deliver his zingers and make it look like Christianity is more rational than atheism? His first zinger is “Yes, I’m using circular reasoning, but so are you, and my circular reasoning is more valid than yours.”

I find it entirely ironic that you accuse me of circular reasoning, when you reason as follows: 1) The world is real. How do I know? Well, I assume it is real. 2) We learn through sense experience. How do I know? Well, through sense experience of course! 3) Logic is valid. How do I know? Well, through logic of course…

You are tacitly injecting the notion that a random-chance universe can account for intelligibility. Rather than acknowledging this, you are putting up smoke and mirrors claiming that you have no burden of proof, but instead you get to happily assume your assumptions with narrow circularity, and if I am going to debate you, I then have to play by your rules and assume that these agreed assumptions exist without any preconditions. I am sorry, but that is poor logic and it creates a dishonest debate.

Yes, after rewriting Russell’s side of the conversation to follow a canned script instead of the things Russell was actually saying, and after injecting his own assumption that an atheistic universe would be “random chance,” he actually accuses Russell of creating a dishonest debate.

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