Thursday, January 16, 2014

More on the Fifth Way

Commentor Jem takes issue with my observation that teleology is evidence for God.

Jem, with my commentary:

[Egnor] "Just an answer. How can an inanimate thing tend to an end?" 
[Jem] By defining 'tend to an end' in multiple ways, all vague enough that they're not terribly meaningful, and switching between those ways without acknowledging it.

At heart, all you're saying is that there are places where the universe displays consistency.
Jem is exactly right. The Fifth Way is the observation that consistency-- any consistency-- in inanimate nature is evidence for God. The reasoning is straightforward. Inanimate things don't have minds, and can't act with an end in its own mind. If an inanimate thing does act with an end, the end must come from another Mind. That is what all call God.
Now, a Christian wants it both ways. The universe is, apparently, so completely 'fine tuned' that the fact we don't see God poking his finger in is evidence for God. But you also believe there was at least one miracle, and if so that would be God poking his finger in. And that's *also* apparently evidence that God exists. So you're running two contradictory arguments in parallel here.
I don't defend the Anthropic Argument for God's existence, except that anthropic coincidences are examples of teleology. I think that the fine-tuning of the universe to accommodate man is real, and is God's work, but as a proof of God's existence the argument is open to challenge. The argument from teleology is a very strong argument not open to such challenge.
The best analogy for this is that it's like taking a coin toss and saying your religion tells you it'll come up heads or tails and claiming that's a 'prediction'.
That's true. When you toss the coin, it lands on one side or the other, roughly 50/50. The fact that it lands on one side or another and that it falls in a gravitational field is a manifestation of teleology, and evidence for God. What then would not be evidence for God? If the coin randomly went up instead of down, or turned into a lute, or began shooting purple laser beams at Mars, without rhyme or reason.

The simplest consistencies in nature-- a coin dropped falls to the ground and lands on one side or the other-- is proof of God's existence via the Teleological Proof.
Then when someone calls you on that, you say the existence of the coin is by itself proof of God, and then when someone shows you the factory the coin was minted, you retreat further and say that the mere existence of probability itself is actually all the proof you need. And you gloss every one of these retreats as victory. If you keep going, all you're saying is 'I think that the fact anything exists at all is proof of God'. Bully for you, and that weak beer assertion. I don't believe that the fact anything exists at all is proof of God. So, we're no further on.
The existence of the coin is proof of God's existence via the First Way, which is the proof from change manifest in an essential series of causes, and via the Second Way, which is proof from causation manifest in an essential series of causes, and via the Third Way, which is proof from a necessary existence that is needed to explain the existence of contingent things like coins.

There are a number of proofs of God's existence.
Aquinas was very, very clever. A genius. No arguments. And he said something that no Christian ever takes to heart, but which is absolutely the central issue here which is, numbnuts, that there *is* no 'irrefutable' logical proof of God.
That is true. Aquinas proposed his proofs for Christians who accepted reason and a generally hylomorphic metaphysics. God's existence can be refuted by denial of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (pointed out by Lebnitz). If one insists that reason need not apply to reality, one can refute anything. Yet if one denies reason, one must deny everything-- logic, mathematics, evolution, yada, yada.
There's no formal argument where atheists read it and go 'I now believe in God because X=JK cubed times a million'. And there will never be a point where atheists turn those tables around. We can hack away at the ridiculous individual claims - Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, the six day creation and all the talking donkeys, virgins with multiple sons and so on, but we can't disprove the existence of God, not when the central idea is so ill-defined and his powers are said to be so broad that they're indistinguishable from, well, anything else.
God is transcendent. He can only be understood by analogy. His essence is existence itself, He is metaphysically simple, and He is Good and Truth itself.

Why would you assume that the supernatural ground for existence would be an entity that could be understood as you would understand a book or a sitcom on T.V.?
There's no evidence for God in the physical universe that couldn't have been placed there by an extremely powerful entity that tricked us into thinking it was God. There are versions of that powerful entity where even *it* thinks it's God but it's not.
Aquinas, a man infinitely smarter than you, knew that you *also* need faith in God. That with faith you don't actually need these piddly 'proofs' and that without it no 'proof' will ever be sufficient.
Aquinas pointed out (in Summa Contra Gentiles) that God's attributes-- transcendentals like Good and Truth-- are logical corollaries to His nature as revealed in the Five Ways. He spends quite a bit of ink on it, actually.

And of course you need faith to believe in God. Faith in reason, as well as faith in Him. You also need His grace to believe in Him.
So stop waving Aquinas around like a talisman, because he's not on your side, here.
Aquinas and I get along quite fine.
Modern science is based around repeatability. If two things with the same properties are subject to the same forces, they will act the same way.
Teleology. Proof of God's agency. You can't escape it.  

49 comments:

  1. The reasoning is straightforward. Inanimate things don't have minds, and can't act with an end in its own mind. If an inanimate thing does act with an end, the end must come from another Mind. That is what all call God.

    Not straightforward at all.

    (1) If an inanimate thing goes through a predictable sequence of states, that doesn't imply that the thing's sequence of states must be in someone's mind. If you think it does imply that, show your reasoning.

    (2) Even if we assume that the thing's "end" must be in someone's mind, it doesn't have to be a single mind, let alone "God's" mind. It could be Satan's mind, or the mind of the Great God-Eating Penguin.

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    1. 1) If you deny the Principle of Sufficient Reason, then, and only then, does an inanimate particle not need a Mind to guide it to an end. It needs no reason at all. But then you deny science, logic, and the predicate for your denial.

      2) The Teleological Proof only demonstrates supernatural Mind. It does not address how many Mind(s), the nature of the Mind(s), etc. Other proofs and deductions do that. Much of the first part of Aquinas' Summa Contra Gentiles was devoted to God's attributes that can be known from reason (simplicity, immateriality, goodness, truth, etc)

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    2. (1) Nice try (not), but you forgot to explain why the Principle of Sufficient Reason implies that inanimate objects need to be guided by external minds.

      (2) You claimed it demonstrated God's existence. Now it's just "supernatural mind". Why not natural mind?

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    3. Troy vs. Egnor: You forgot to explain why the Principle of Sufficient Reason implies that inanimate objects need to be guided by external minds.

      Exactly. Egnor is trying to equivocate between two different meanings of "end."

      Egnor: If you deny the Principle of Sufficient Reason, then, and only then, does an inanimate particle not need a Mind to guide it to an end

      This is a logical non sequitur-- Egnor can't express that in syllogistic logic, and would refuse to express it in syllogisms if you ask. If you ask, he'll run away from the thread as he always does.

      But Egnor is trying to trick us by equivocating between two meanings of "end":

      End 1: a non-random effect.

      End 2: something planned by a mind.

      In the quote above, If you deny the Principle of Sufficient Reason, then, and only then, does an inanimate particle not need a Mind to guide it to an end, this can only be true under the definition of End 2, and is absurd if used with definition End 1.

      All the rest is cunning lawyer-speak, to equivocate between meanings.

      2) The Teleological Proof only demonstrates supernatural Mind.

      The teleological proof cannot demonstrate mind of any kind, natural or supernatural, because different steps deploy different definitions of "end." Thus they are non sequiturs.

      We could ask Egnor to express the Teleological proof in syllogistic form, but he, being dishonest, will not do so. He will run away from the thread and start another blog post, repeating the same bullshit he couldn't defend, or even explain clearly, the first time.

      Egnor is a Gish galloping creationist who knows he can't honesty oppose atheists, but he thinks he can exhaust them.

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  2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJanuary 16, 2014 at 7:44 AM

    Well, Jem is right about one thing: "There's no formal argument where atheists read it and go 'I now believe in God because...'"

    That observation, of course, is originally attributable to the Bible. It's an observation made in many ways and many passages. For example, even the Jews who, according to the Exodus story, had just witnessed the power of God parting the waters of the Red Sea immediately turned away, sculpted an idol, and got drunk.

    If the parting of the sea doesn't work, a "formal argument" will convince no one. :-)

    Jem goes on to say "We can hack away at the ridiculous individual claims - Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, the six day creation and all the talking donkeys..."

    And keep hacking away despite the fact that most serious Christians, dating back centuries to the early Church Fathers, have already discarded a literal interpretation of those events in favor of an allegorical interpretation. An excellent example is St Bellarmine, wrongly accused of "persecuting" Galileo:
    I say that if there were a true demonstration that the sun was in the center of the universe and the earth in the third sphere, and that the sun did not travel around the earth but the earth circled the sun, then it would be necessary to proceed with great caution in explaining the passages of Scripture which seemed contrary, and we would rather have to say that we did not understand them than to say that something was false which has been demonstrated.

    But if it helps Jem feel superior to children and the poorly educated, hack away. Every year people hack away at Santa Claus trying to beat that "insidious myth that makes children happy" into oblivion. And they make some impressive intellectual arguments, too... For example, did you know that - wait on it.... - reindeer can't fly?

    Gotcha there, eh?!
    Q.E.D.

    But Jem betrays himself here:

    "when the central idea is so ill-defined and [God's] powers are said to be so broad that they're indistinguishable from, well, anything else."

    Actually, the central idea is so well-defined and God's powers so inconceivable that He's easily, trivially, distinguishable from everything else. If He were indistinguishable from anything else, I'm sure that the atheists would have pointed out by this time what He was indistinguishable from. It's not that the "central idea" is ill-defined; Jem's understanding of the "central idea" is ill-formed.

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    1. Here the Admiral of an imaginary Navy falsely describes the career of Galileo's persecutor, Saint Robert Bellarmine.

      An excellent example is St Bellarmine, wrongly accused of "persecuting" Galileo:

      No, he was guilty of that. He certainly threatened Galileo. His letter to Foscarini, from which you have quote mined, included a threat to Foscarini and mentioned Galileo by name and was meant to be a threat to both:

      Bellarmine: But to want to affirm that the Sun, in very truth, is at the centre of the universe and only rotates on its axis without travelling from east to west, and that the Earth is situated in the third sphere and revolves very swiftly around the Sun, is a very dangerous attitude and one calculated not only to arouse all Scholastic philosophers and theologians but also to injure our holy faith by contradicting the Scriptures.

      The claim that their idea is dangerous, not just contrary to Christianity but dangerous, is a threat.

      Moreover, he clearly says that if heliocentrism is true, then the Scriptures are false. Period. Full stop.

      You are attempting to pass that off as an "allegorical" reading of the Bible. It's the opposite. It is: heliocentrism cannot be real, because the Bible says so, and if you disagree, you will make us angry, and we theologians and schoolmen are "dangerous" for you.

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    2. P.S. Foscarini's book was banned.

      Strangely, the Admiral makes no mention of the following.

      Wikipedia: Following the Inquisition's injunction against Galileo, the papal Master of the Sacred Palace ordered that Foscarini's Letter be banned, and Copernicus' De revolutionibus suspended until corrected. The papal Congregation of the Index preferred a stricter prohibition, and so with the Pope's approval, on March 5 the Congregation banned all books advocating the Copernican system, which it called "the false Pythagorean doctrine, altogether contrary to Holy Scripture."[29]

      Francesco Ingoli, a consultor to the Holy Office, recommended that De revolutionibus be amended rather than banned due to its utility for calendrics. In 1618 the Congregation of the Index accepted his recommendation, and published their decision two years later, allowing a corrected version of Copernicus' book to be used. The uncorrected De revolutionibus remained on the Index of banned books until 1758.[31]

      Galileo's works advocating Copernicanism were therefore banned, and his sentence prohibited him from "teaching, defending… or discussing" Copernicanism. In Germany, Kepler's works were also banned by the papal order.

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    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJanuary 16, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      Diogenes Simplicio accuses me of "quote mining", yet his mined quote leaves out the context of the opening sentence of the paragraph from which it was taken, to wit:

      First, I say it seems to me that your Reverence and Signor Galileo act prudently when you content yourselves with speaking hypothetically and no absolutely, as I have always understood that Copernicus spoke. For to say that the assumptions that the Earth moves and the Sun stands still saves all the celestial appearances better than do eccentrics and epicycles is to speak with excellent good sense and to run the risk whatever. Such a manner of speaking suffices for a mathematician.

      One must recall that Galileo was not the original thinker here, Copernicus was. And both Copernicus and Galileo (and Kepler) had a common problem: the extant Aristotelian/Ptolemaic
      system had been "settled science" for a thousand years.

      But Diogenes Simplicio does not address at all my quotation from the same letter, which also happens to be the closing and summarizing statement of the Foscarini Letter. That is because the text I quoted is, in fact, the summarizing statement.

      The problem at the time was that Galileo could not support his theory with a confirming observation: the celestial parallax shift that should have occurred under the heliocentric assumptions. Of course, this was because the necessary instrumental precision was impossible at the time. Galileo actually suggested a "proof" though; he proposed that the tides were the result of the oceans' sloshing around:

      [I]f the vase has an irregular motion (i.e. with accelerations and decelerations), the water also acquires a motion. Galileo makes a comparison between the water and the seas and between the vase and the earth, so that the changes in the motions of the sea can be effects of an irregularity in the earth motion...

      Galileo made some political mistakes due to his irascible nature. But to claim that he was "persecuted" is absurd.

      "In a generation which saw the Thirty Year's War and remembered Alva in the Neverlands, the worst that happened to men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof, before dying peacefully in his bed
      --- Alfred North Whitehead

      It's fascinating to watch individuals squall, twist, and ventilate about the silencing of Galileo for claiming his novel theory should overturn 1000 years of "settled science", yet respond with the vigor of a cat with a curling iron jammed up its ass to calumnify and silence (with the power of a modern court) anyone who suggests an alternative to the less than 200 year old Darwinist orthodoxy.

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    4. The Admiral reports from his bathtub full of rubber ducks:

      to claim that he [Galileo] was "persecuted" is absurd.

      He and Foscarini were threatened by Saint Bellarmine, in a passage from his letter that you failed to quote. In the quote that you did copy, Bellarmine states clearly that everyone is forbidden to say that the Earth really goes around the sun. This is the content of the quote that you did copy-- and you call that proof of no persecution!

      Bellarmine says scientists can only say that the theory is mathematically correct, but they must deny its reality, or else theologians will be enraged, and they will be in danger.

      Galileo was threatened with torture (note that Giordano Bruno had been executed by the church for his philosophical notions about other stars), and he was placed under house arrest, and his books were banned for centuries.

      You say that's not persecution? You're re-defining "persecution" as "whatever Christians didn't do."

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    5. Bathtub Admiral: "It's fascinating to watch individuals squall, twist, and ventilate about the silencing of Galileo... yet respond with the vigor of a cat with a curling iron jammed up its ass to calumnify and silence (with the power of a modern court) anyone who suggests an alternative to... Darwinist orthodoxy."

      False. None of us ever "silenced" anyone who suggests an alternative evolutionary theory. That's your fairy tale. No one was ever fired from any job for questioning evolution, but many people have been fired from professor jobs for believing in evolution.

      We don't "silence" you, we widely reprint your ideas so that people will accurately know what you really assert. I myself have often re-copied Byers' writings.

      No one has ever been fired for opposing evolution-- all your stories are fake. Sternberg was never fired at all, as the author of the movie Expelled himself admitted. Young Earther Coppedge was never fired from JPL for opposing evolution. Nobody ever lost a dime of income for opposing evolution.

      Meanwhile, the list of present-day scientists being fired from professor jobs, or given gag orders, or put in real heresy trials (yes, Protestants do still have real heresy trials) because they believe in evolution grows longer every year.

      The difference between your stories and ours are that ours are real, and yours are bullshit fairy tales.

      A recent example is the firing of Karl Giberson.

      Giberson describes how common this is:

      "My story [fired for writing about evolution] is far from unique. Indeed, it’s almost typical. Understandably, only a handful of evangelical scholars have published books and articles in defense of evolution, but many of them have been forced to resign as a result. Howard Van Till and John Schneider were both forced out of Calvin College. Richard Colling was forced out of Olivet Nazarene University. All three had decades of exemplary service. Many others were silenced or censured." ["2013 Was a Terrible Year for Evolution." Karl W. Giberson. The Daily Beast. Jan. 2, 2014.]

      In 2009, Olivet Nazarene University forced out Prof. Richard Collling for believing in evolution.

      Prof. Bruce Waltke was fired from Reformed Theological Seminary in the middle of a term immediately after he talked about evolution in a video for the Christian Biologos Institute.

      In 2007, James Corbett, public school teacher, was fired for calling creationism "superstitious nonsense." [Student Wins Suit After Teacher Says Creationism 'Superstitious Nonsense'. AP. Monday, May 04, 2009]

      In 2011, Calvin College fired Prof. John Schneider and investigated Daniel Harlow for believing in evolution.

      In 2012, La Sierra University fired Prof. Lee Greer and three trustees over evolution.

      In 2012, Shorter University fired 60 (that's SIXTY, 6 times 10!) faculty including Prof. Richard Pirkle for believing in evolution or for not being sufficiently rabid in their anti-homosexuality.

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    6. What about ID proponents and their use of censorship?

      ID proponent Phillip Johnson tried to get Nancey Murphy fired for believing in evolution.

      ID proponent William Dembski reported Prof. Eric Pianka to the Department of Homeland Security as a terrorist and tried to get him arrested.

      ID proponent Michael Egnor demanded the criminal prosecution and imprisonment of many climate scientists and other non-climate scientists for being in prestigious scientific organizations.

      ID proponent Jonathan Wells, in Icons of Evolution, demanded Congressional hearings to stop "supporting dogmatic Darwinists that misrepresent the truth to keep themselves in power" [Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution, p. 242] Wells' book and Wells' website provide a template of stickers to download and paste into textbooks, to assist creationists in the popular activity of book vandalism.

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    7. And creationists still have heresy trials!

      In 1987, famous creationist debater Duane Gish initiated an investigation into heresy (in the Christian Reformed Church) against Old Earth creationists/theistic evolutionists Howard J. Van Till, Davis Young and another Calvin College professor, who dared to criticize Gish's anti-evolution arguments. They were acquitted. [Tom McIver, Anti-Evolution: An Annotated Bibliography, p.284]

      In 1941, the founder of Flood Geology, George M. Price, had his fellow creationist Harold W. Clark brought before a tribunal of SDA preachers to be tried for heresy (because Price said fossils were totally random and had no order, and Clark said Price was wrong). [Ronald Numbers, The Creationists (2006), p.145-6]

      In 1931, L. Allen Higley of the creationist RSA anonymously accused the president of Wheaton College of heresy, by sending scandalous letters to the trustees. The anonymous coward was identified by a handwriting expert and forced to resign in disgrace. [Ronald Numbers, The Creationists (2006), p.135]

      Here's Answers in Genesis explaining why Christians cannot and should not teach evolution:

      "Truth is not multiple choice. Christian parents...do not need to use materials that promote evolution. They do not need textbooks offering a selection of “YEC, evolutionary creationism, intelligent design, and atheistic evolution,” as one BioLogos-backed project is developing. They need to choose textbooks that measure all truth according to the yardstick of God’s Word. Only then will they help their children build the biblical worldview they need..." [Should Homeschoolers Let Children Decide on Evolution? by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, AiG–U.S. May 10, 2013.]

      Here's Kansas school board candidate and creationist Jack Wu, in his own words:

      "My mission, in running for the Kansas State Board of Education, is to throw out the crap that teachers are feeding their students and replace it with healthy good for the soul knowledge from the holy scriptures.

      Let's be specific. Evolution should never be taught in public schools as science. Evolution is false science! God made the heaven and the earth and created humans from the dust of the earth! The very bad teachers that teach that men descended from apes via evolution need to have their teaching licenses revoked. Yes, students should be taught that God created everything.

      School administrators are always complaining about budget problems and lack of funding... I have a really simple solution to solve that problem: Eliminate funding for evolution textbooks and pseudo-education. We'll save a ton of money! ...The lies of men and of the devil need to be expelled from the classrooms of Kansas, and of the United States, and of the world. Make room for the truth of God!”
      [Jack Wu’s website]

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    8. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJanuary 16, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      Diogenes Simplicio succumbs to a fit of logorrhea... But I was wrong about one thing: a cat with a curling iron jammed up its ass is but a purring pussy compared to a Diogenes Simplicio on a crusade with a keyboard and Google. :-)

      Nevertheless, re: my previous point...

      persecution:The inflicting of suffering, harassment, isolation, imprisonment, fear, or pain are all factors that may establish persecution. Even so, not all suffering will necessarily establish persecution. The suffering experienced by the victim must be sufficiently severe. (Wiki: Persecution)

      In a generation which saw the Thirty Year's War and remembered Alva in the Neverlands, the worst that happened to men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof, before dying peacefully in his bed
      --- Alfred North Whitehead

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    9. Admiral, your authority quote, which you seem not to understand, does not assert that Galileo was not persecuted. Rather, it only asserts that Christian churches carried out in that era.carried out acts of mass murder that were worse than the Inquisition's persecution of Galileo. Which is true, but not evidence that his persecution was not persecution.

      Let's look at your quote again, and this time ask what it means.

      In a generation which saw the Thirty Year's War and remembered Alva in the Neverlands

      The Thirty Years' War was a religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants over who were the true Christians; it killed more than one quarter of the population of Central Europe, a higher kill rate than Stalinism.

      So yes, Galileo's persecution by the Inquisition was less bad than exterminating one quarter of the population of Central Europe over religious differences.

      I don't know where you copied this from, but it's "Netherlands" not Neverlands. Neverlands is where Peter Pan lives. "Alva" probably refers to Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba, who put down a bloody rebellion of Protestants by instituting the "Court of Blood" in which many "heretics" (Protestants, but also Catholics who favored dialogue with Protestants) were publicly executed. Wikipedia: "In 1572 the Spanish army carried out the Spanish Fury at Mechelen, retaking and sacking the city after the rebel garrison had left. From there, Spain retook Zutphen and Naarden. The Spanish Siege of Haarlem, characterized by brutality and savagery on both sides, culminated in the surrender of the city and the execution of all the garrison, estimated at 2,000 men."

      So yes, Galileo's persecution by the Inquisition was less bad than Alba's "Court of Blood" which executed perhaps 5,000 people for heresy, plus deaths in war.

      Your batty response does not establish your assertion that Galileo was not persecuted by the Church. It only establishes that Christians committed mass murders worse than Galileo's persecution.

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    10. "If the parting of the sea doesn't work, a "formal argument" will convince no one."

      Many Christian theologians who believe at least the possibility that the parting of the Red Sea is a historical event discount it as 'proof' of God.

      For a start, it's an event that requires great power and some good timing, but we can imagine other fictional characters who could do it who weren't God - Superman could, no doubt the crew of the USS Enterprise could do something clever with tractor beams. It wouldn't *have* to be God. And when you accept that, it becomes very hard to work out which feats *have* to be God.

      If I witnessed a miracle in which a group of Jews prayed to their God and some amazing natural feat happened, and their enemies were swept away and so on, I personally would think the balance of evidence would be persuasive.

      But if 'an overwhelming balance of evidence' is all that's needed, then why are there still YECs?

      It's not about 'evidence', it's about faith. If you take the existence of God to be axiomatic, then by definition everything is 'evidence for God'. If you don't, then you have to be more selective. Aquinas was not seeking to answer 'whether' God existed, he was seeking to explain how God's existence could be reconciled with certain logical issues. Not the same thing at all.

      Delete
  3. “What then would not be evidence for God? If the coin randomly went up instead of down, or turned into a lute, or began shooting purple laser beams at Mars, without rhyme or reason.”

    If a coin turned into a lute the last thing you would say is it’s not evidence for God. On the contrary, you would proclaim it a miracle and undeniable evidence for God.

    -KW

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    1. The possibility of miracle presumes teleology-- it's not a miracle if nothing is ever predictable.

      If all nature were unpredictable, there could be no miracles. A miracle presupposes that it is an exception.

      The possibility of miracles presupposes teleology.

      You really need to think these things out.

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    2. Sorry, it’s just hard for me to disregard a thousand years of accumulated knowledge and think like an ignorant medieval friar.

      -KW

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    3. Egnor: The possibility of miracle presumes teleology-- it's not a miracle if nothing is ever predictable.

      No, the possibility of a miracle presumes purpose, not teleology. Teleology is a set of extraordinary claims about purpose that are not supported by evidence or logic.

      Here Egnor is trying to equivocate between two meanings of teleology:

      1. Teleology 1: the appearance of purpose

      2. Teleology 2: a set of extraordinary claims about purpose that are not supported by evidence or logic, e.g that every non-random effect must originate in a mind.

      Egnor's sentence, The possibility of miracle presumes teleology, can only be true under Teleology 1, but is not true under Teleology 2. His intent is to switch to Teleology 2 later on.

      Teleology definition 2 in turn depends on equivocating between two definitions of "end":

      End 1: a non-random effect.

      End 2: something planned by a mind.

      End 1 is observed, End 2 is claimed to be proven, and some point the theist must swich dishonestly between the definitions. Deconstruct their sentences and the switch will always be there.

      This is why Egnor will not express himself in syllogistic logic, and why he runs away from every thread he starts. He knows his assertions cannot be defended, nor even clearly expressed.

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    4. Teleology is neither 1 nor 2.

      Teleology is the tendency for some natural things to change in accordance with discernable ends-- dropped coins fall down, electrons move in a (probabilistically) predictable way, leaves turn brown in autumn.

      It's a simple observation, but replete with metaphysical implications, and utterly inexplicable under naturalism.

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    5. Egnor: Teleology is the tendency for some natural things to change in accordance with discernable ends-- dropped coins fall down, electrons move in a (probabilistically) predictable way, leaves turn brown in autumn.

      That's End 1. There's no evidence that it's End 1, and Egnor does not even attempt to show that End 1 = End 2 or End 1 == End 2 or by what sort of evidence they might be associated.

      Therefore, not remotely connected to any mind nor god.

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    6. Errata: I meant to say: "That's End 1. There's no evidence that it's End 2."

      Delete
  4. To see Egnor's dishonesty, note that he refuses to explicitly lay out his premises (because then we can prove that he has buried his desired conclusion in his assumption), he refuses to present evidence to support his premises, he refuses to define his premises clearly, he ignores evidence that his premises lead to contradictions, and he refuses to define his arguments in syllogistic form-- because he knows that if he tries, we'll easily prove his conclusions are concealed in his assumptions.

    When Egnor is asked to define his premises or present evidence they're true, he runs away from the thread and starts another. He knows he can't win debates with atheists, but he thinks he can exhaust them.

    Next comment, I will ask Egnor two simple questions which I have already asked many times, and which Egnor cannot answer, because answering them will permit us to highlight the dishonesty of his assumptions.

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  5. some intellectually dishonest God-hater: "At heart, all you're saying is that there are places where the universe displays consistency. ... Now, a Christian wants it both ways."

    'Science!' and Miracles ... and Skepticism! -- I invite the reader to consider that post at my blog in light of the incredibly foolish things these God-haters were saying in the previous thread (and that they will say in this thread).

    For example, in the previous thread, the intellectually dishonest God-hater 'KW' said: "More cutting edge though from a thousand years ago. We’ve learned allot since then. Science demonstrates over and over that simple laws acting on relatively simple systems can bring about astonishing complexity. Gravity + Hydrogen + time = indediblly dynamic galaxies, chemistry +natural selection + time = incredibly complex organisms. Observation has shown that we live in a flat zero net energy universe (within the uncertainty bars anyway). All it takes to set this all in motion is a plank sized region of inflation field. No complex being necessary, just some principle that demands there be something rather than nothing."

    Now, of course, 'science' has demonstrated no such thing or things. But, consider this, and the other silly and/or false assertions the God-haters made (and will make), about the regularity or laws of nature, in light of the "science" Carl Sagal is asserting in the quotation in the post at my blog -- in which he is denying that there *are* any laws, that there *is* any fundamental regularity.

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    1. M.Engor: "When you toss the coin, it lands on one side or the other, roughly 50/50. The fact that it lands on one side or another and that it falls in a gravitational field is a manifestation of teleology, and evidence for God. What then would not be evidence for God? If the coin randomly went up instead of down, or turned into a lute, or began shooting purple laser beams at Mars, without rhyme or reason."

      And that sort of non-rational -- indeed, irrational -- world is exactly what God-haters assert is the truth about the nature of reality. That is what Sagan is saying in the quote I reference.

      But, as most God-haters are intellectually dishonest -- that is, they *worse* than liars, for *mere* liars lie about some specific truth or other, but the intellectually dishonest person lies about the very nature of truth itself -- these fools are (and will continue to do so) asserting both that what Sagan asserted about the nature of reality is false and that it's true.

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    2. Hey Ilyon, why do you think Egnor runs away from every thread where he is asked to support his premises with evidence, or even define his premises clearly?

      I'll ask you, Ilyon, to answer two questions Smegnor will not, despite being asked several times. These are directly relevant to your "proof" of a triune God.

      Consider this statement: "If God did not exist, no rules would be possible anywhere in the universe." Call it S.

      The two questions are:

      1. Is the above statement "S" a rule? To be specific, is it a metaphysical rule, which applies in all conceivable universes?

      2. What kind of evidence supports the above statement "S"? Is it an ordinary claim based on induction from past uniform experience; or is it an extraordinary claim supported by extraordinary evidence-- that is, is it needed to produce testable predictions that match observed properties? What sort of evidence could support this statement?

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    3. “Now, of course, 'science' has demonstrated no such thing or things.”

      You’re in denial. “Demonstrates” is simply shorthand for “observationally and experimentally verifies”. Teleology on the other hand, makes no predictions, explains no observations, and has never contributed to our understanding of the natural world.

      -KW

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  6. Here are two simple questions I have several times asked Egnor to answer, questions about his claimed premises, which he dares not answer.

    Egnor wrote his previous post claiming he had irrefutable proof of God's existence. When we ask him to support his premises with evidence, he refuses. He will not even answer what type of evidence in principle might support his premises.

    These two questions relate directly to what must be, what have to be, the premises behind his alleged "irrefutable proof" of God.

    Consider this statement: "If God did not exist, no rules would be possible anywhere in the universe." Call it S.

    The two questions are:

    1. Is the above statement "S" a rule? To be specific, is it a metaphysical rule, which applies in all conceivable universes?

    2. What kind of evidence supports the above statement "S"? Is it an ordinary claim based on induction from past uniform experience; or is it an extraordinary claim supported by extraordinary evidence-- that is, is it needed to produce testable predictions that match observed properties? What sort of evidence could support this statement?

    Jem, pay attention. I'm setting up the banana peel for Zeppo to slip on.

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    1. The question you raise about whether teleology necessarily proves a transcendant mind-- is a valid question. It's not clear what Aristotle thought; he attributed teleology to the motion of the spheres motivated by God's love, but he didn't articulate a Teleological Proof for God's existance.

      Aquinas did see Teleology as presupposing a Mind, and used it as a proof.

      I agree with Aquinas. The challenge for you is not to nibble away at the edges of this very powerful argument for God's existence, but rather to provide any kind of naturalistic explanation for teleology.

      Which of course you can't do, because there isn't any.

      The question as to the Source of teleology is really of course a broader expression of the question: where do the laws of nature come from?

      Naturalism fails utterly. It's amusing to watch your helpless scramble for cover.

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    2. Again, Egnor is a coward who will not explicitly state his premises because they are absurd. Instead, he blathers about Aquinas, trying to show off his alleged intellect.

      Egnor will not spell out his premises, will not present evidence to support his premises, and will not even answer what kind of evidence could support his premises.

      Again, here are the questions I have so far asked four times and which none of you theists dare answer.

      Consider this statement: "If God did not exist, no rules would be possible anywhere in the universe." Call it S.

      The two questions are:

      1. Is the above statement "S" a rule? To be specific, is it a metaphysical rule, which applies in all conceivable universes?

      2. What kind of evidence supports the above statement "S"? Is it an ordinary claim based on induction from past uniform experience; or is it an extraordinary claim supported by extraordinary evidence-- that is, is it needed to produce testable predictions that match observed properties? What sort of evidence could support this statement?

      Why does the theist live in fear of his own statements?

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    3. "If God did not exist, no rules would be possible anywhere in the universe."

      In such a universe, the rule 'no rules are possible' would be axiomatic.

      Everyone can see the problem, I hope.

      The way round this is exactly what science models: in a universe initially without rules (a singularity), rules would spontaneously emerge due to uniform processes acting on individual particles.

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    4. Gibberish. You invoke (uniform processes) that which you claim to explain (rules).

      Why is it that nature has rules? How can inanimate things hew to specific ends?

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    5. "Why is it that nature has rules?"

      Do you believe every single one of the 'rules' was laid down before the universe began and none have required amendment since?


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  7. A medieval friar would be a great improvement on the Darwinist story tellers who spin fairy tales with religious zeal worthy of an African witch doctor complete with prophesies seen in the casting of bones.

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    1. Hey genius, why do those scientist keep making accurate predictions about the properties of transitional fossils before they're found? And why do creationists keep making inaccurate predictions or statements about the fossil evidence?

      Here's just this week's example. This is rich.

      After several years of work, the pelvis and part of the hind limbs of Tiktaalik have been extracted and just published. The hip socket showed it had a big fat thigh bone.

      Compare this to the lies written by creationists about this fossil. Back in 2007, years before the pelvis was extracted from the rock or described in the literature, Answers in Genesis fraudster David Menton lied and said he knew its properties and it was small and weak.

      Answers in Genesis/David Menton, 2007: ‘[t]he hind limbs [of tetrapods] in particular have a robust pelvic girdle securely attached to the vertebral column. This differs radically from that of any fish including Tiktaalik. Essentially all fish (including Tiktaalik) have small pelvic fins relative to their pectoral fins.

      Got that? "Small pelvic fins relative to their pectoral fins." This before the pelvis or pelvic fins had been seen by anyone on Earth!

      Now compare that to this week's article by Shubin. Again: it has a pelvis bigger than any fish, with a huge hip socket for the femur.

      Shubin et al. Although no femur was found, Tiktaalik‘s fin rays and several other bones suggest the hind fin was comparable in size and complexity to the front fin. The shape and size of the hip socket reveal that the fin was capable of a wide range of movements, from swimming to supporting weight and rotating more like a tetrapod limb. But the overall structure of the pelvis is still more fish-like. Whereas tetrapods have a pelvis made of three parts, Tiktaalik‘s pelvis is still made of one, like fish. …

      Overall, the mix of fish and tetrapod characteristics show us that the structures and mechanisms necessary for the invasion of vertebrate life on land evolved in the water first. Not only that, but before this discovery, we thought the front fins held the key to how vertebrates began to walk on land. ...It appears that an “all-wheel” or even a “rear-wheel drive” system is a more appropriate analogy as the hind fins were just as important and may have even been involved in a walking behavior first.


      Anti-evolution is a pathetic fraud. Anti-evolutionists are story-tellers, passing off their imagination as fact.

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  8. Pay attention to how Egnor is attempting equivocation in the "Fifth Way."

    Egnor: The reasoning is straightforward. Inanimate things don't have minds, and can't act with an end in its own mind. If an inanimate thing does act with an end, the end must come from another Mind.

    Here he's trying to equivocate between two definitions of "end":

    End 1: a non-random effect.

    End 2: something planned by a mind.

    End 1 is observed, but End 2 is claimed by the theist to be proven for all phenomena in nature, and at some point the theist must switch dishonestly between the definitions. Deconstruct their sentences and the switch will always be there.

    So if we deconstruct Egnor:

    Inanimate things don't have minds, and can't act with an end in its own mind. If an inanimate thing does act with an end, the end must come from another Mind.

    This is only true for End 2, but false for End 1. Where is his evidence that End 1 is the same as End 2?

    The switcharoo comes when he claims that all natural phenomena are observed examples of End 1.

    End 1 is observed all over the universe. End 2 is only seen in 1 out of a trillion trillion trillion cases. When we see End 1, a non-random phenomena, 99.9999999% of the time it is a result of non-random natural processes with no known Mind involved.

    Thus, if we anything in nature that is non-random (End 1), we should assume it is most probably due to a non-random natural process, not any kind of Mind, because that is the most common case.

    Where is Egnor's evidence that End 1 is the same as End 2?

    Is his premise that:

    1. End 1 == End 2 by mathematical identity?

    2. End 1 = End 2 by the defintiion of End 1?

    3. End 1 = End 2 by the defintiion of End 2?

    What is this shit? What is he even claiming? What is his evidence it is true? He won't even tell us what kind of evidence might in principle support his assertions, if he had it, which he doesn't.

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    1. I don't see the equivocation w/r/t "end". The difficulty is with using old fashioned Aristotelian terminology.

      What if we say "end" means "goal". What philosophers mean, when they say things act for an end, is that this particular cause occurred in order to create this given effect.

      Using an electron was risky - it's harder to see the manifest teleology. It's there, as long as this electron is doing a series of things in a series of steps with the same determinate or semi-determinate effect occurring at the end (damnit).

      For me personally, it's really easy to see in biology. A dog pants in order to regulate its body temperature. The action only makes sense in light of its terminus, goal, end, effect, whatever.

      Things in nature either act for an end or they don't. How do we know the difference? A thing in nature which does something always or for the most part must be acting for an end.

      The next question is, can unintelligent things anticipate future states and non-yet actually existing effects?

      No. The answer is no.

      - Curio

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    2. Things in nature either act for an end or they don't. How do we know the difference? A thing in nature which does something always or for the most part must be acting for an end.

      That's End 1. You have demonstrated no connection to End 2.

      The next question is, can unintelligent things anticipate future states and non-yet actually existing effects?

      No, but you haven't demonstrated that electron anticipate future states, so it's irrelevant to End 1.

      Humans anticipate future states because they record past events. Any system that records past events can in principle anticipate future ones.

      Anyway, irrelevant to proving electrons are pushed around by invisible spooks.

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    3. The electron isn't being pushed around by an invisible hand. We're talking metaphysics, not bad economics.

      The classical understanding of nature, as in Aristotle's Physics, is that these final causes are immanent, in the thing itself. Formal and final cause are very much related. It's a modern tendency to see nature as mechanistic - inert matter moved solely by external forces.

      The analogy usually given is this: an arrow, lacking intelligence, is given direction toward a target by the (intelligent) archer. Likewise, direction is put into the unintelligent agents by a Mind, which we call God. We could call it Mind. Or Final-Cause-Giver.

      Diogenes, do you think there are final causes in nature? Do certain things happen in order that other things may happen?

      Or, like Nagel and some other atheists, do you accept teleology and deny the necessity of a Supreme Intelligence as an explanation for this phenomenon?

      "No, but you haven't demonstrated that electron anticipate future states, so it's irrelevant to End 1."

      Probably because electrons can't and don't anticipate future states. Neither do lymphocytes, glial cells, mitochondria, mucous membranes, or any other number of things which very clearly act for an end. Like I said, I think Egnor should have used an example in biology, where it's clearer, than physics.

      - Curio

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    4. Curio: Diogenes, do you think there are final causes in nature? Do certain things happen in order that other things may happen?

      Mathematically, I don't know how to define that. I can define it for people or animals in terms of images in their heads. I don't know how I could define it for an electron.

      As I said, in order for something to anticipate the future, it must remember the past and draw an analogy between past experience and future experience. Otherwise, it just sounds like causation backwards in time, the cause after the effect.

      It's a modern tendency to see nature as mechanistic - inert matter moved solely by external forces.

      No, the main distinction between the modern view and the Thomist view is that Aquinas following Aristotle imagined there were discrete chains of cause and effect which initiate at one point of time, always in a thing with a soul or anima, and terminate at another point, the "end" or goal. Along this line, Aquinas said that things which initiate the chain of events have a special, invisible, intangible quantity, the anima or soul.

      Note the analogy between the anima and the early 20th century crackpot idea that when you can't explain why living things move or act a certain way, that's evidence for an elan vital or vital force. It's giving a name to what you don't know.

      As Huxley pointed out, that's like saying, we don't understand certain things about how water acts, so that's proof the cause is an invisible force we'll call "aquosity."

      No, what you don't understand could be one thing or a trillion things, but giving it a name, when you can't define it mathematically, is just giving a name to "I dunno."

      In the modern view, chains of events do not have a clear start or end point. Start and end points are just artificial, to help us simplify the math. The chain of events starts outside of living things. The living thing is affected by and grows in an environment. It inherits the successful experiments of its ancestors during their evolution. Living things do not have a special power to initiate chains of events, no more nor less than other objects.

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    5. Mathematically, I don't know how to define that.

      It deserved bolding. This is positivism of the finest order. The implicit premise is "what isn't measured isn't known". It's impossible to hold this consistently, as human beings go about their day to day lives understanding a good deal of unmeasured and umeasurable things. Aristotle was concerned with general principles - he wanted to investigate motion as such... and whether there was even such a thing as motion (contra Parmenides). Moderns want to measure and describe specific types of motion (mechanical, oscillatory, subatomic, inertial, etc.) with math. And yet, we're more certain that there is motion than we are of any particular equation to describe it.

      A long-winded way of saying that just because we can't describe final causes mathematically doesn't mean they don't exist. And it's the materialist/positivist/whatever who is guilty of arbitrarily positing a brute fact rather than probe for a deeper explanation.

      "As I said, in order for something to anticipate the future, it must remember the past and draw an analogy between past experience and future experience.

      Exactly. We both agree. Neither of us are panpsychists. Unintelligent things, being unable to remember the past or anticipate the future, rely on some other intelligence for their final cause.

      "Aristotle imagined there were discrete chains of cause and effect which initiate at one point of time, always in a thing with a soul or anima"

      Only living things are described as having souls, which doesn't mean what most people think it means. Secondly, Aristotle gave us a way to describe discrete chains of cause and effect - but his account is in no way opposed to the systemic (complexity science) approach. Multiple chains of simultaneous causes are occurring at all times and resulting often in the same effect, but we can say with certainty that certain actions in nature are related. Science depends on this. If anything, Aristotle's account is more nuanced than most modern accounts given that he demands four types of causes and moderns only one (two at most, material and efficient) to explain a given effect.

      "As Huxley pointed out, that's like saying, we don't understand certain things about how water acts, so that's proof the cause is an invisible force we'll call "aquosity."

      Or, as Moliere's joke goes, the patient asks his Thomistic doctor "why exactly does this sleeping pill work so well?". The doctor replies "Because of it's dormitive power, of course".

      But these funny caricatures are just that.

      "Start and end points are just artificial, to help us simplify the math."

      One Thomist writer on the web had an interesting piece on finality and cycles in nature (carbon, water, planetary orbits). It doesn't matter at which point one starts - the process still exists for the sake of the end (ie: the same point on the next go-around)

      - Curio

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    6. "And it's the materialist/positivist/whatever who is guilty of arbitrarily positing a brute fact rather than probe for a deeper explanation."

      No, no, no.

      We're not saying that it's impossible that inanimate things have a purpose. We're simply saying that it needn't apply to everything. It's you insisting on the 'brute fact'.

      If it's possible not everything has 'purpose', it becomes an issue of deciding WHICH processes are ones without 'purpose'.

      Evolution ('evolutionary biology as understood by modern scientists') simply doesn't work if you think it's 'purposeful'. If you think it's God The Engineer's way of making giraffes, you can only conclude God's a terrible engineer.

      There's a simple choice: evolution isn't purposeful, or evolution is false.

      As evolution *is* true (modeled, verifiable, falsifiable, predictive and observed), evolution isn't purposeful, therefore not every process has purpose, therefore the God of Aquinas can't exist.

      The only counterargument is to cross your arms and go 'well, I think the God of Aquinas *can* exist'. Fine. Explain the discrepancies between observed reality and your theories, then, the onus is on you, it's not our job to reconcile what we see with stories you tell yourselves.

      If you understand evolution, you understand it *has* to be purposeless. 'Directed evolution' is not evolution. If you think evolution is directed, then show evidence of direction or mechanisms by which it's directed. If you can, you'll win a Nobel Prize and your name will be remembered as long as humanity endures.

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    7. It's interesting that you were the first one to bring in the term purpose. From what I understand, purposeful activity is a special case of teleology. Cats out of the bag, let's talk about purpose.

      You say there may be purpose in nature (ex: the purpose of the immune system is to defend the body against foreign substances, bacteria, etc.). It is sufficient that there be one non-intelligent thing displaying this type of causal behavior for the Fifth Way to work. So you're right, not every process has to be purposeful. Aristotle and Aquinas both admitted things could happen by chance.

      ...which is one of many reasons why you don't see many Thomists rallying behind "Intelligent Design". You can talk all day about the Fifth Way and teleology and never mention evolution/Creationism once.

      I think there is reason to believe evolution itself is teleological, directed, purposeful, etc. For one thing, we know that evolution seems to be directed toward the preservation of life, and not death or non-life. Roughly - the purpose of procreation is to keep the species alive. The purpose of genetic mutation is to increase the odds of there being at least some adaptive traits in the species' progeny.

      More interesting still is abiogenesis. Roughly around the same time (in cosmic terms) that life could have happened (two-three generations of star explosions which produced enough heavier elements) life did happen. With the right conditions, life happens.

      I get the impression that Dr. Egnor and most Theists are willing to admit that a thorough scientific explanation can be given w/ recourse to secondary causes. In the last analysis, everything depends on God, but the "God of Aquinas" is not a Grand Engineer or Divine Meddler.

      - C

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    8. "You say there may be purpose in nature"

      I say the possibility exists. There are no actual confirmed examples, though and - 'the purpose of the immune system is to defend the body against foreign substances', for example, is a classic fallacy like 'the reason giraffes have long necks is to reach the tall leaves'. It's exactly the wrong way round.

      "...which is one of many reasons why you don't see many Thomists rallying behind "Intelligent Design"."

      Thomists tend to have read books and know their way around an argument, unlike intelligent design advocates. There's little doubt that Aquinas himself believed in what we'd call creationism, but he can't be blamed for that.

      "I think there is reason to believe evolution itself is teleological, directed, purposeful, etc. For one thing, we know that evolution seems to be directed toward the preservation of life, and not death or non-life."

      Nonsense. Evolution *depends* on death, it depends on change and decay, it depends on old generations dying off, it depends on competition for resources that sees rivals of the same species dying or not being born. Even plants block the sunlight of other plants. Even bacteria attack other bacteria.

      "More interesting still is abiogenesis. Roughly around the same time (in cosmic terms) that life could have happened (two-three generations of star explosions which produced enough heavier elements) life did happen. With the right conditions, life happens."

      'Right conditions' of course makes that statement tautological. There are planets in our solar system where life seems possible but not to exist. And what makes life 'possible' is a list of chemical processes, nothing to do with God.

      And as for life emerging as soon as possible: explain mass extinctions. Explain the false starts. Explain how it took billions of years for multicellular life to evolve.

      And, again ...explain the mechanism by which purpose is encoded, enforced or enacted. Show *how* a hydrogen atom is being commanded. Or at least some vague model of how it might be. Where, in its structure, is its purpose, or its ability to receive that purpose? What would a 'purposeless' hydrogen atom look like? When the scientists at CERN take a subatomic particle and aim it at a detector they give it 'purpose' in exactly the sense of an archer aiming an arrow. Well, OK ... does that change of purpose mean God's will is being subverted?

      Any 'purpose' which is undetectable, indescribable and indistinguishable from randomness is not functional 'purpose'. Explain why it would matter, explain what the difference is, explain what the mechanism is, or just ... y'know, shush and let the grown ups deal with this kind of thing.

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    9. 'the purpose of the immune system is to defend the body against foreign substances', for example, is a classic fallacy like 'the reason giraffes have long necks is to reach the tall leaves'. It's exactly the wrong way round.

      It's reasonable to say "giraffe's have long necks in order to reach tall leaves". It's an explanation. This isn't Lamarckian pseudo-science, we're not talking about how giraffes acquired this phenotypic trait. Also, if it's a classic fallacy, could you give the name of the fallacy?

      "Thomists tend to have read books and know their way around an argument, unlike intelligent design advocates"

      We love books. Though I'm flattering myself by placing myself in their camp. Wannabe-Thomists love books too.

      "There's little doubt that Aquinas himself believed in what we'd call creationism, but he can't be blamed for that."

      Well, maybe, but Thomism is an open system that has been developed a lot since Aquinas' time. Charles De Koninck thought that evolution was practically entailed by an Aristotelian worldview!

      "Even plants block the sunlight of other plants. Even bacteria attack other bacteria."

      Yea, no doubt. Both examples support the point I was trying (however inarticulately) to make. Evolution is about things trying to stay alive and procreate. These are purposes. The purpose of plants blocking other plants' access to sunlight is to stay ahead in the game of life, to flourish.

      Any 'purpose' which is undetectable, indescribable and indistinguishable from randomness is not functional 'purpose'.

      Aristotle gives us a simple way to discriminate in ch. 2 of his Physics. When we observe processes in nature occurring always, or for the most part (unless impeded) we can assume they aren't random. If something isn't acting randomly, it's acting for an end. Here's an excellent essay on finality in nature, how we know it, what it is, etc. etc.. All the questions you asked, basically.

      - C

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    10. 'It's reasonable to say "giraffe's have long necks in order to reach tall leaves". It's an explanation.'

      No, it's a piece of shorthand that inserts purpose, which is precisely the issue in question.

      Try: 'the giraffes with the longest necks had stronger offspring, so over time giraffes' necks tended to get longer'.

      This wasn't willed by giraffes, it was a consequence of two blind processes - the drying of the habitat and genetics. Other giraffe ancestors solved the problem of scarce food in their habitat by becoming solitary and having large territories - okapis. Another ten species died out.

      "Also, if it's a classic fallacy, could you give the name of the fallacy?"

      Texas Sharpshooter. You're looking at a snapshot of creation and saying God moved all the pieces into place to get them to precisely this spot.

      "Evolution is about things trying to stay alive and procreate."

      ... then dying. I hate to be a downer, but this is not some process that's just about life and wonderfulness. It's a competition for resources and those that live long enough to pass on their genes see those genes survive.

      "When we observe processes in nature occurring always, or for the most part (unless impeded) we can assume they aren't random. If something isn't acting randomly, it's acting for an end."

      Who said anything about 'randomly'? The opposite of 'purposefully' is not 'randomly'. This is the problem you've got - you don't see how a blind process might have entirely predictable consequences. The options are not 'God guides a thrown ball to the ground' or 'a thrown ball may or may not fall, its movements are random'.

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  9. I don't understand the contradiction between fine tuning and miracles. If I tune my BMW M5 so it can do 145 MPH, that doesn't put any restrictions or requirements on me to go that fast or not. I tuned the thing and now I can drive it or leave it in the garage, go inside, grab a beer and watch the Newcastle United game. When the game is done, I can come back out and drive the car if I want. How's that different from fine tuning and occasional miracles?

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  10. God is transcendent.
    How do you know?

    He can only be understood by analogy.
    How do you know? How do you know that your analogy has a referent?

    His essence is existence itself
    How do you know?

    He is metaphysically simple
    How do you know?

    and He is Good
    How do you know?

    and Truth itself.
    How do you know?

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    1. Exactly. What kind of evidence, even in principle, could support such assertions?

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