Eleven articles appear below:

1    God Exists II
2    God Exists
An Act of Faith
3    God Exists
4    God Exists
A Final Reply
5    God Exists
Faith or Not
6    There Is No Evidence of God's Existence
7    The Evidence is Sufficient
8     Evidence for God: A Reply to Anonymous
9     God Exists Despite Objections
10   God Exists
— A speculative Assumption
11   God's Existence Certain



GOD EXISTS II

Anonymous

(Investigator 143, 2012 March)



FIVE EVIDENCES


In Investigator 137 I gave five reasons which individually point to a living intelligence behind the Universe, each reason alone inconclusive but together decisive.

To illustrate how something can be ambiguous alone but decisive in combination I considered a chair. If we examined only the parts such as a leg or arm-rest and refused to consider all together, we would not see the bigger picture i.e. the chair. We would argue, for example, about what a leg proves and get stuck.

Mr Williams' "The Probable Non-Existence of God" (#142) ignored my five reasons. Therefore I'll restate them briefly and add some extra points.


1 — FINE TUNING

 
The "Big Bang" occurred with many finely-tuned events, and the Universe that resulted has many finely-tuned "constants of physics" without which life would not exist. For examples see #137.

Professor Paul Davies said:
How can one accept a scheme of things so cleverly arranged, so subtle and felicitous, simply as a brute fact, as a package of properties that just happens to be? To me, the contrived nature of physical existence is just too fantastic to take on board as simply 'given'. It points forcefully to a deeper underlying meaning to existence. Some call it purpose, some design. (Herd, 1995)

The fine-tuning does not refer to Earth having the right gases for life, or Jupiter deflecting asteroids from hitting Earth, or Natural Selection producing new species. These are merely consequences of the "Big Bang" and the physical constants it came with. The Big Bang and the physical constants that emerged are not explained by known prior laws or processes of development (unlike planet Earth which reached its present state through prior physical processes).

Folger (2008) writes: "Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation…an inconceivably vast Multiverse."

To postulate infinite numbers of universes to explain one Universe seems contrary to "Occam's Razor" the scientific principle of accepting the simplest explanation. Furthermore:

  1. No other universes are currently known;
  2. All "why" questions such as "Why did WWII start?" and "Why did Julie leave home?" would all have the same unhelpful answer which is, "The number of universes is so great that some universes have to have this event."
  3. Any super-universe would have to be finely tuned to spawn finely-tuned child universes. Who or what finely-tuned it?

New evidence suggests that the Multiverse, if such exists, had a beginning. See "Death of the eternal cosmos" in New Scientist, 14 January, 2012. If confirmed then the atheist's alternative to God fails and we're left with God.

Note also that Point 3 suggests a regress in which ever bigger finely-tuned systems have to be imagined to explain lower-level finely-tuned systems. We have an indefinite regress without final explanation.

Atheists counter with, "Who created God?" However, if a series of consecutive events has been traced to an intelligent agent we accept his existence and further enquiry would be about his reasons or motives. For example, suppose we see a damaged fence. We would ask "What damaged it?" Answer "Hit by a speeding car." Question "What made the car speed?" Answer "Johnson's foot on the accelerator." Question "What caused Johnson to exist?"   

The last question is silly because what caused Johnson is unrelated to the chain of events. Further inquiry accepts Johnson's existence and would inquire into his motives or reasons. Similarly, if we trace the Universe to "God" we accept His existence and further inquiry focuses on His motives. With humans motives are influenced by physical events, but in God's case prior to the Universe this doesn't apply.

Of course motives might be based on earlier motives and other motives prior to them — another indefinite regress. This regress, however, would be in the mind of God and does not refute His existence but agrees with God being eternal.


2 — THE BIBLE

If intelligence underlies the Universe where can we get extra information about this "intelligence"?

Around 1970 I observed that criticisms of the Bible regularly end up mistaken and science was confirming Bible statements one after another. I even used the Bible to predict some future scientific discoveries, for example:
•    Asteroids are a threat to Earth. (#62)
•    Rising sea levels will distress many nations. (#68)
•    Snakes can hear. (#94)

If we demonstrate hundreds of Bible statements to be correct and generalize this finding, i.e. predict more of the same, then we have "proof of the Bible" plus "extra information" about the one whom it calls "Creator".


3 — THE SUPERNATURAL

In Investigator 125-126 I equated the supernatural with other dimensions beyond the familiar three — up/down, left/right and forwards/backwards.

I analyzed how hypothetical two-dimensional "flatlanders" would interpret interference from our three-dimensional world and found that the flatlander's experience resembles the Bible's presentation of the supernatural. This implies that the supernatural realm lies in extra dimensions.

Musser (2010) writes: "From the relative weakness of gravity to the deep affinity among seemingly distinct particles and forces, various mysteries of the world around us give the impression that the known universe is but a shadow of a higher-dimensional reality."

Most versions of the Multiverse hypothesis have it existing in extra dimensions. Therefore, atheistic attempts to remove God by postulating a Multiverse points to God by pointing to a higher-dimensional (possibly supernatural) realm. This makes the "supernatural" natural and another topic for science.

Williams sarcastically refers to God being "everywhere yet nowhere…simultaneously dealing with prayers by the million". Again consider the 2-dimensional flatlander analogy — imagine flatlanders as two-dimensional shapes on a large flat surface. To them, 3-dimensional beings like us could be considered to be "everywhere yet nowhere". Furthermore, a fourth physical dimension would be as many times bigger and greater than 3 dimensions as our Universe is to a flat sheet. Yet even in our 3 dimensions the technology for worldwide surveillance and eavesdropping coupled with computerized translation into hundreds of languages approaches scientific plausibility. What then is possible in a realm infinitely greater?


4 — MIRACLES

Atheists explain "miracles" as either coincidence or unknown natural phenomena.

However, whenever a person tells others about an impossible outcome he's praying for, he in effect defines a particular miracle in advance. If the event takes place and atheists then deny it's a miracle and call it "coincidence, they commit the error of "shifting the goal posts".

Hoped-for miracles occur irregularly. To explain their irregular nature gets into "theodicy" i.e. why God permits human suffering.  (See #104)
    

5 — EXPERIENCE

The fifth evidence is an experience of God.

Evidences 1 to 4 make the decision to seek an encounter with God rational. Apparent experiences of God without evidences "1" to "4" might be imagination, but contact consistent with "1" to "4" would be convincing. Seeking an encounter may require practice plus willingness to renounce whatever evils kept God away since: "The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous." (Proverbs 15:29)


6 HUMANITY'S FUTURE

A sixth evidence in #137 but not there labelled "Sixth" is humanity's future and collective potential:
The laws that describe how the Universe works also permit the existence of creatures intelligent enough to discover those laws. That is amazing and makes humans somehow central. What if the laws are also such as to permit human domination of the Universe? By extrapolating technological progress to the indefinite future we can actually make that prediction! It's also what the Bible teaches — Nothing will be impossible (Genesis 11:6) and humans will rule everything (Hebrews 2:5-8). Wouldn't such a Universe have to be pre-planned? (#137)

The prediction that nothing will be impossible appears after the creation story. The implication is that humans can do the same — make planets living and habitable. The word "earth" in the Bible means "land" and we now know there is land throughout the Universe. This gives added meaning to the command "subdue the earth".

Consider also Eve created "out of Adam" and both potentially able to live forever. With nothing impossible future technology could do similar. Human potential reflects God's power and confirms His existence — like an image or reflection confirms what it reflects — by duplicating what God achieved before us.


EVOLUTION

Atheists are distracted by Young Earth Creationists (YEC) who state: "The world strongly appears to be created or designed".

YECs have a set of "presuppositions" or assumptions which they call a "scientific model". Their presuppositions, however, are unscientific and unsubstantiated and include immortal animals and insects that lost their immortality when Adam sinned, the Earth existing before the sun, and continental drift and speed of light thousands of times faster in the past. (See #108) Such presuppositions are fantasy and generate further fantasy.

Science has identified laws of physics that interact in countless complex ways, producing countless complex structures, and the whole traceable back to a finely tuned "Big Bang" that produced the Universe. "Design" implying a Creator is therefore indicated in the initial setup, about 14 billion years ago, rather than in later consequences such as the "origin of species". God's existence, however, is more strongly inferred if design is supplemented with my other five evidences.

I, therefore, don't worry about evolution like many Christians do, but accept it to the extent it seems demonstrated. The Bible calls God the "creator" of Israel, but thousands of adult Israelites did not pop into existence instantaneously. Israel arrived by natural reproduction and the Bible gives the history. With the Universe, the world and life the Bible omits details about process or method, other than God being behind it, and leaves it for our discovery. In line with argument Number Six future science might even recreate long-extinct species and uncover the natural selection events that originally produced each.


WHY BAD THINGS HAPPEN

Atheism's other trump card after the Multiverse is human suffering. We considered human suffering in God, Tsunamis and Evil #104.

The answer is people's "knowledge of good and evil". (Genesis 3:5) This refers to people's subjective "I am right" attitude which everyone puts first, i.e. ahead of God. Humans are being allowed to prove their rightness, but to produce valid results that show how well humans manage without God requires time, God's absence, and consequences. (See #104 for more detail.)  

Williams, in #142, quoted George Pell "We need God because he is our Creator and to help us to be decent" and called Pell's statement "ridiculous".

If all the war, squalor, betrayal, famines, diseases, sexual abuse, disasters, injustice, torture, destruction and death since humanity began doesn't prove "humans need God" what will it take? If all crime, STDs, addictions, gambling, obesity, sicknesses and debt aren't adequate proof what will it take? Humility Mr Williams. It will take humility, regret and compassion. Remember, "The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse..." (Jeremiah 17:9) Finding God is not just science but includes emotional change.


CONCLUSION

I've given six reasons to conclude that the ultimate origin of everything is a living intelligence of startling power. If each reason by itself is insufficient, let them complement one another, like viewing an entire chair rather than just its individual parts.



REFERENCES:

Anonymous, God Exists, Investigator #137,

Folger, T.  Discover, November 2008

Gribbin, J. & Rees, M. 1991 Cosmic Coincidences

Hawking, S. & Mlodinow, L. 2010 The Grand Design

Herd, J. The Weekend Australian, May 6-7, 1995, p. 10

Musser, G. Scientific American, June 2010, p. 23.







God Exists — An Act of Faith

(Investigator 144, 2012 May)

Kirk Straughen


I refer to Anonymous' God Exists II (No. 143, Pg 41). I can't see that the alleged proofs he offers are evidence of the existence of God.

Consider the following syllogism:
All things that exist have a cause
The Universe exists
Therefore the Universe has a cause

For the sake of discussion I'll assume that the premise is true - all things that exist have a cause. What needs to be demonstrated, however, is that the specific cause of the Universe is God.

As far as I can see there is no reason why the cause of the universe cannot be something that is not God - something that our limited minds cannot conceive of, and possibly never will conceive of.

Anonymous needs to prove that only God can bring about the existence of the Universe, and the only way he can do this is by eliminating all other possibilities. The problem is that in order to eliminate all other possibilities one would have to be omniscient, a quality that no human being possesses.

Cosmologists can only peer so far back in time. What occurred before the Big Bang - the origin of the Universe - is not accessible to enquiry. If people believe that God is the cause of the universe, then they must do so as an act of faith due to the aforementioned reasons.

In my opinion the only sound position is to admit that we currently do not know the cause of the Universe, if in fact it had one.

Kirk Straughen







GOD EXISTS

(Investigator 145, 2012 July)

Anonymous


My conclusion (#143) that God exists was not as Mr Straughen claims in #144) "an act of faith" but based on science. And I gave six reasons.

Straughen's response gives priority to wishful thinking and imagination. He wants the "elimination of all other possibilities" because the cause of the Universe might be "something that is not God". The "elimination of all other possibilities" would require people to be "omniscient", which Straughen himself notes. It is also a formula for rejecting scientific discovery since we can always imagine other explanations. Imagination is cheap and new fantasies can be formulated quickly, but to refute each one scientifically might take ages. Having said this, what other "possibilities" consistent with my evidence does Mr Straughen imagine?

My reasons did not elevate "faith" but relied on scientific discovery and induction. "Faith" is the additional step whereupon people engage with the God scientifically demonstrated and trust Him. To do that would be a personal decision — just as whether I interact with a neighbour or ignore him is a personal decision. Regarding this point Straughen might re-read the subheading about the "Naturalistic fallacy" in #137.

Anonymous






God Exists — A Final Reply

(Investigator 146, 2012 September)

Kirk Straughen


Anonymous seems to be claiming (Inv 145, p. 6) that his belief in God is based on science rather than faith. This assertion is refuted by the fact that the scientific theory of the universe's origin is naturalistic, the concept of God does not enter the equation.

There is no sound evidence that requires us to postulate the existence of a supernatural being (if there was then the majority of cosmologists would do so). Indeed, there is no good evidence for the existence of any kind of paranormal force. Given that this is so any claim that God exists is based on an act of faith.

I don't claim to know the ultimate cause of the universe and neither does science because the evidence that would enable us to reach a definitive conclusion hasn't been discovered, at least for the moment. It is up to Anonymous to give us sound reasons why only a god is capable of creating the universe, and to date I do not think he has articulated a convincing argument.

Nature may look designed, but I'm not sure that positing God as an explanation for the universe solves anything. Indeed, how then do we explain the existence of a god with human-like attributes who just happens to be able to create the universe?

People believe that God created the universe because of cultural indoctrination - they believe first, and then start looking for the evidence. If this wasn't so, then we wouldn't have Hindus, Buddhists and Christians each fervently believing their respective religions are true.

This isn't the way good science works. Theories are formulated on the basis of the evidence. The theory makes predictions and the predictions are tested by many independent and highly qualified researchers. If the predictions are refuted by further evidence then the theory is either

(a) Modified to fit new facts or
(b) Rejected and a new theory formulated on the basis of new discoveries.

However, if further evidence confirms the theory then the probability that the theory is true increases considerably.

Anonymous' attempts to use science in an effort to prove his religious beliefs are misguided. The findings of science relate to nature, and can only be used to infer the existence of other aspects of nature.

 





GOD EXISTS — FAITH OR NOT

Anonymous

(Investigator 148, 2013 January)


Mr Straughen has stated again that "any claim that God exists is based on an act of faith." (#146)

Of my six reasons (Investigator 143) for concluding a Creator is behind the Universe, five are divorced from "faith". Based on the five reasons anyone can rationally infer that a Creator-God exists. Indeed people, known as "deists" conclude there is a Creator and conclude this without faith.

The Bible states "Even the demons believe and shudder." (James 2:19) Faith, therefore, is not belief in God, but is the further step of making peace with God and trusting Him. Belief in God can be accompanied by faith or be a scientific conclusion without faith.

Straughen still wants to distinguish "nature" from the "supernatural". However, science nowadays talks of extra dimensions, alternative universes, and other exotic phenomena that cannot be observed but which need to be inferred to explain what is observed. What "nature" is or includes, can therefore not be fully defined. The supernatural, I've argued elsewhere, is natural. It exists in extra dimensions additional to up/down, left/right, forward/backward, and time. (#126 Gravity and the Supernatural)

Straughen's cry of "show me the evidence [for God]" is like a mantra he repeats when shown evidence he doesn't want to see. My argument for God in #143 is inductive and like every inductive argument suggests an inference. Compare this to the laws of physics that regulate Sunrise. These laws have operated for ages; but to believe that the Sun will rise tomorrow requires the inference or prediction that these laws will operate tomorrow. If a skeptic treats the long-time existence of the laws as irrelevant and refuses to extrapolate to tomorrow, then he won't accept that the Sun will rise. And when the Sun does rise, the skeptic can simply transfer his doubts to the day after. The skeptic is in effect demanding, "Show me tomorrow today and then I'll believe." I only prove God scientifically which means induction is part of the proof — I don't claim to do more. I can show trends of evidence that point to God but I cannot show anyone "Tomorrow today". We either make the inference or don't.

If Straughen applied his criteria of evidence to the question of whether my neighbours exist he would have to conclude they don't. If inductive inference is rejected and a meeting with my neighbours is also refused then the neighbours will seem non-existent. However, several of the six arguments in #143 are designed to get stronger as time passes. The skeptic who denies tomorrow's Sunrise may reconsider if he is wrong often enough. The evidence proving God works similarly.



 




THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF GOD'S EXISTENCE

K Straughen

(Investigator 149, 2013 March)


I refer to Anonymous' article God Exists - Faith or Not (pg 47, No 148) and am unable to agree with his conclusions.

Anonymous refers to the finely tuned constants of our Universe in his previous article (God Exists II, pg 41 in No. 143) as evidence that the Universe is the product of a supernatural intelligence that set the parameters of the laws of physics.

Most of the assumed power of this kind of argument hinges on probability and the assumption that the fine tuning of the laws of Nature is so improbable that there must be some kind of guiding or organising power behind them, and that this power must be intelligent.

Probabilities, however, are defined by the frequency of the occurrence of events. An event can be considered improbable when a repeatable category of events to which it belongs produces such an event like the one in question only a small proportion of the time - snowfall in England in June, for example.
 
Now, the fine tuning of the laws of Nature may seem like a miraculous concurrence of events with a seemingly minute probability of occurrence. However, we have no comparison class - no other origin of universes with which we can compare our own, and therefore we cannot mathematically determine the frequency of universes identical to our own. We have only one example of a universe, and in our example the laws of Nature as we see them may have been highly probable even if we don't know why.

Anonymous suggests that the supernatural exists in some extra dimension, and that this claim is given credence by the mathematical theory known as String Theory, which attempts to give a complete, unified, and consistent description of the fundamental structure of our Universe. But the question is can some form of intelligence exist in other dimensions? This has yet to be demonstrated.

Anonymous claims that the evidence is there, but I just don't want to see it. Let me take a moment to correct his misapprehension. First of all, why wouldn't I want to see such evidence? I have nothing against God. Indeed, I would very much like God to exist. Who wouldn't want the Universe and human destiny being guided in its development by a benevolent and extremely wise intelligence? Whoever these people are I can assure my readers that I am not one of them.

However, I value the truth and before believing that something exists I (like most sensible people) require sound evidence and in my opinion Anonymous simply hasn't provided any to date that relates to the existence of God.

Anonymous makes some arguments about the Sun rising, his neighbours existing and induction. I don't think this line of reasoning works. First of all the existence of the Sun has been established to a considerable degree and that Anonymous has neighbours is self evident as he isn't the only person on Earth. The establishment of such certainty to the question of God's existence, however, remains problematical.








The EVIDENCE is SUFFICIENT

Anonymous

(Investigator 151, 2013 May)


"AN INGENUITY SO ASTONISHING"

"There is no evidence of God's Existence" claims Mr Straughen (in Investigator #149) in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Paul Davies (1992) who investigates with physics, astronomy, cosmology and logic summarised his conclusion:
"I belong to the group of scientists who do not subscribe to conventional religion but nevertheless deny that the universe is a purposeless accident. Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact. There must, it seems to me, be a deeper level of explanation. Whether one wishes to call that deeper level "God" is a matter of taste and definition. Furthermore, I have come to the conclusion…that we human beings are built into the scheme of things in a very basic way." (p.16)

Straughen belittles Professor Davies and his research, by implying it all does not count — it's all "no evidence".


PHYSICS INSUFFIENT

In my articles on God I supplied six evidences of which the "astonishing ingenuity" with which the Universe is put together is ONE.

The creator/god/organizer indicated by physics and cosmology does not point to any religion, religious book or saviour. As far as correct reasoning upon physics can show, a creator/god could exist but all religions and religious books are still myth, their gods unrelated to anything implied by science. No logic seems to connect physics and cosmology to Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, The Trinity, Brahma or any idol. The Cosmological and Design arguments similarly do not identify any religion or any religion's concept of God.

Given this situation, what we can do that's rational, is surmise or hypothesize that the originator of the Universe may have communicated with humans — that He may have somewhere supplied guidance. Having so surmised we then investigate various religions and the documents they claim are of divine origin.

I began doing this as a young person and soon zeroed in on the Bible. I became impressed at how the Bible's critics routinely seemed to turn out wrong and the Bible correct. I've presented many examples in Investigator from many scientific disciplines. Some of the disagreements were resolved quickly; in others the Bible-Scriptures seemed wrong for thousands of years before proved right.

The Bible and its incredible victory over countless opponents, suggests that the remote, unknowable God implied by physics has communicated — and is knowable and personal.


THE BIBLE

The Bible then is a second evidence for God. And from it we got four additional evidences, which in #143 I referred to as The Supernatural, Miracles, Personal Experience and Humanity's Future.

Let's consider Humanity's Future again. I noted in #143:
The laws that describe how the Universe works also permit the existence of creatures intelligent enough to discover those laws. That is amazing and makes humans somehow central. What if the laws are also such as to permit human domination of the Universe? By extrapolating technological progress to the indefinite future we can actually make that prediction! It's also what the Bible teaches — Nothing will be impossible (Genesis 11:6) and humans will rule everything (Hebrews 2:5-8). Wouldn't such a Universe have to be pre-planned?

Along with teaching that nothing will be impossible for humans, Genesis also says that humans began in "the image and likeness of God". The implication is that humans have the potential to do whatever God did. This would include, if nothing is impossible, reworking entire planets and filling them with life as God did in Genesis 1; and creating intelligent life-forms that are potentially immortal as God did in Genesis 1 & 2.

Paul Davies noted something mysterious:
"It would be easy to imagine a world in which the regularities of nature were transparent to all at a glance. We can also imagine another world in which either there were no regularities, or the regularities were so well hidden, so subtle, that the cosmic code would require vastly more brainpower than humans possess. But instead we find a situation in which the difficulty of the cosmic code seems almost to be attuned to human capabilities… The challenge is just hard enough to attract some of the best brains available, but not so hard as to defeat their combined efforts…" (p. 149)

My argument is that human potential reflects God's power and confirms His existence — like an image or reflection confirms what it reflects — by duplicating what God did before us. It's as if there is something important the human race was designed to do or achieve, and so was created with the necessary potential.


JIGSAW

I argued previously that we must view the evidences in total. I considered the parts of a chair — legs, back, seat, arm rest, etc — and pointed out that if we examined each piece in isolation and refused to see them together we would never recognize the chair.

Another illustration is a jigsaw puzzle. A study of one piece no matter how detailed would never reveal the entire picture. But if we start fitting pieces together we would be able to infer or interpret the whole long before finishing.

Straughen says he doesn't see the evidence and asks: "Why wouldn't I want to see such evidence." The Bible says the whole world is deceived, unable to see what they should see, and unable to live righteously. Part of the evidence for God is to meet him — this is one item out of six but necessary for the full picture. There is a proverb, "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink." To find God every person must do a little of the work, the "drinking", himself.


REFERENCES:


Davies, P. 1992 The Mind of God, Penguin Books, pp 16, 149.

Investigator Magazine  #143; #144; #145;  #146; #148; #149








Evidence for God – a Reply to Anonymous

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 152, 2013 September)


In Investigator No 151, page 26 Anonymous quotes Professor Paul Davies who suggests that we may call the deeper level of explanation for the Universe God and that whether one does so is "a matter of taste and definition."

I don't think this supports Anonymous' argument. The Universe displays order, but is this order the result of intelligence? We know that physical law is the basis of the nature of reality, but physical law is itself non-conscious and impersonal. Now, if something non-conscious and impersonal can bring the Universe into existence through the process of evolutionary development I can't see any logical reason why the ultimate cause (if I may use such a term) can't also be non-conscious and impersonal as well.

Anonymous claims that physics is insufficient to explain the origin of existence. But if that is so then is the supernatural explanation true by default? Let us consider the following thought experiment in the form of a discussion between some ancient Egyptians - the priest Setau, who believes that the sun is the eye of the god Ra and the scribe Urhiya, who has a naturalistic explanation.

Urhiya: "It seems to me that the sun is not a god but merely an aspect of nature."

Setau: "How so, Urhiya?"

Urhiya: "It bums like fire: therefore it must be fire, and its fuel a combustible substance."

Setau: "That cannot be, for if it were so and given its small size the sun would last but a day. No, Urhiya; no natural substance could burn so brightly and for so long. The sun is the eye of Ra for only the gods endure."

Urhiya, as we can see, is on the right path, but his explanation falls short because of the paucity of knowledge of the age and Setau's rejection of his argument is quite understandable in the light of this fact. But as time goes by our knowledge of the world increases, so we cannot assume that if a natural explanation is incomplete that the supernatural explanation is the only viable alternative.

Of course there are limits to what science can tell us about the origin of the Universe, but I don't think there is any evidence that we have reached an permanent impasse just yet.

Anonymous then refers to the Bible, but again this does him little good because the Bible is founded on the assumption of the existence of God — a belief that is yet to be proven. He continues with a jigsaw analogy — putting the pieces together. However, he assumes we have all the pieces, but given the incompleteness of our knowledge this cannot be true, and without the entire picture it is premature to claim God exists.

He closes his apologetics with a claim that the world is deceived, but where is the evidence for that — the fact that people disagree with his views? A Moslem could claim Anonymous is deceived if he denied the truth of the Quran.

The True Call, for example, is a moderate website devoted to Islamic apologetics: http://islam.thetruecall.com/ that may be of interest to him.

Generally speaking each believer believes that only their religion is true.


 





GOD EXISTS DESPITE OBJECTIONS

Anonymous

(Investigator 154, 2014 January)


Straughen writes:

We know that physical law is the basis of the nature of reality, but physical law is itself non-conscious and impersonal. Now, if something non-conscious and impersonal can bring the Universe into existence…I can't see any logical reason why the ultimate cause…can't also be non-conscious and impersonal as well. (Investigator 152)

Firstly, conscious intervention rather than "non-conscious physical law" by itself "causes" bicycles, DVDs, and spoons. Therefore, I see no "logical reason" why "physical law", assuming it existed prior to the Universe, prevents the cause of the Universe being conscious too.

Secondly, the "logical reason" for belief in God is what I supplied in previous articles. In "The Evidence is Sufficient" (#151) I put six points concisely which together suggest that intelligence is behind everything and cannot reduce the six points further without making them unintelligible.

I compared my six reasons to a "jigsaw puzzle":  "A study of one piece no matter how detailed would never reveal the entire picture. But if we start fitting pieces together we would be able to infer or interpret the whole long before finishing."

Straughen responded: "However, he assumes we have all the pieces, but…without the entire picture it is premature to claim God exists."

I did not assume we have all the pieces and anticipate more in future. The incompleteness of the pieces is precisely the point because any jigsaw puzzle can be interpreted, its picture recognized, before all pieces are fitted. From my six points the "picture" to recognize is that a supreme Creator who interacts with humans exists.

This is inductive reasoning and gets stronger as more "pieces" of evidence get added.

The individual "pieces" themselves also produce separate inductive predictions. There is the "fine tuning" of the "Big Bang" and the laws of physics about which Professor Paul Davies wrote:
"Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact. There must, it seems to me, be a deeper level of explanation. Whether one wishes to call that deeper level "God" is a matter of taste and definition. Furthermore, I have come to the conclusion…that we human beings are built into the scheme of things in a very basic way."

"Fine turning" is inductive because from it we predict that more "finely tuned" laws that permit human existence will be discovered and such discovery will suggest still more strongly "a deeper level of explanation".

Another "piece" is the accuracy of the Bible. For decades I’ve shown that people who ignore or criticize it routinely bite the dust, their objections refuted. The more this happens the stronger the reason to believe the Bible, including its statements about God.

Straughen says: "Anonymous then refers to the Bible, but again this does him little good because the Bible is founded on the assumption of the existence of God — a belief that is yet to be proven.

However, I don’t merely "refer to the Bible". Rather, I refer to scientific discoveries to test the Bible sentence by sentence, whatever is testable. To test anything we have to refer to it!

Another piece is "Humanity's Future": 
The laws that describe how the Universe works also permit the existence of creatures intelligent enough to discover those laws. That is amazing and makes humans somehow central. What if the laws are also such as to permit human domination of the Universe? By extrapolating technological progress to the indefinite future we can actually make that prediction! It’s also what the Bible teaches — Nothing will be impossible (Genesis 11:6) and humans will rule everything (Hebrews 2:5-8). Wouldn’t such a Universe have to be pre-planned? … Genesis also says that humans began in "the image and likeness of God". The implication is that humans have the potential to do whatever God did.

From this "piece" the evidence for God gets stronger the more "godlike" humans become through science and technology.

If the Sun rises every morning rational people anticipate it will rise tomorrow. If a person is always reliable we’ll trust him next time. If hens lay eggs regularly we expect more eggs soon. These are inductive predictions from a run of previous events. How long a trend must continue before it points to a "fact" is up to each individual. The same is true of evidence for God.

Without induction there is no science. I only prove God scientifically which means induction is part of the proof. I can show trends of evidence that point to God but cannot infer His existence for someone else.

I have a reclusive neighbour who seems not to show himself except by appointment. I infer inductively he exists because of recurring phenomena associated with human habitation such as mail-delivery, lights, barking dog, visitors, etc. But if inductive inference is rejected, and an appointment refused, then there is "no evidence he exists." Induction as well as a meeting is part of the proof. Likewise with God.

Straughen also writes: "He closes his apologetics with a claim that the world is deceived, but where is the evidence for that…?" The evidence is actually self-evident — see #63. When Straughen raises points finalized long ago, it suggests he is "scraping the bottom of the barrel" to find objections.







God Exists - A Speculative Assumption

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 156, 2014 May)


I refer to Anonymous' God Exists Despite Objections (No 154, p 38) in which he suggests an affirmative case can be made for the theistic position.

Anonymous says he cannot see why the cause of the universe can't be conscious. Consciousness, however, requires the existence of a mind, which entails the existence of a material brain. This much we know based on our established knowledge of biology. What evidence is there that a disembodied/immaterial and transcendental mind exists that we can call God?

Anonymous admits we don't have all the pieces of the puzzle, but that what we do have (he suggests) is sufficient to conclude that God is the cause of the universe. The problem is that the analogy doesn't hold true.

It is possible to deduce the picture in an incomplete jigsaw puzzle because we have a pre-existing knowledge of the elements of such puzzles, whether their subject matter is the world of nature or human artefacts. But we don't have a pre-existing knowledge of the cause of the universe because we are still in the process of discovering it. Therefore, we cannot say definitively that the cause of the universe is God.

Anonymous refers to induction and suggests that the trend of the evidence points towards God. But by the same reasoning we can also infer the exact opposite. In the past the world was filled with gods, spirits and demons that were thought to be the conscious agencies behind aspects of nature
the sun, storms and disease for example.

However, as our scientific knowledge has grown the trend of the evidence has led to a progressive naturalisation of nature. If inductive reasoning holds true then this trend suggests that the cause of the universe is non-conscious and natural rather than conscious and supernatural.

In my opinion all attempts to demonstrate (or at least show there is a high probability of) God's existence from his works (the universe/laws of nature) is to mistakenly place the cart before the horse.

For example, if I attempt to demonstrate Santa Claus' existence by his alleged works (the appearance of presents under the Christmas tree, for instance), wouldn't this be a rather odd line of argument? Isn't it Santa Claus' existence that ultimately explains his works, rather than his works his existence?

The first thing we must do is establish the existence of Santa Claus and we cannot do this by reference to his works, for the works attributed to Santa Claus may not have been authored by him. Similarly, if we use the existence of the universe (the alleged works of God) to prove God's existence we are engaging in a similar error of reasoning. The universe exists. God might exist, but there may not be a connection between them.

We may argue in the case of Santa Claus that gifts are made and given by humans not chimpanzees, and therefore a basic deduction can be drawn that the appearance of gifts on Christmas day is the work of intelligence. From this we might extend the argument — that the universe, like the appearance of Christmas gifts, displays qualities that imply an intelligent agent.

But again we know in advance through experience that the author of a gift is an intelligent agent (human). However, we do not know in advance through experience that the author of the universe is an intelligent agent (God).

Another component to Anonymous' alleged evidence is the Bible and his claim that he has been able to refute those who criticize it. No doubt Anonymous feels that this is so just as Islamic apologists are certain that they have successfully defeated their critics. Proof of this kind, however, is of an entirely subjective assessment.

Nevertheless, if Anonymous wishes to believe in God he may do so and I respect his right to hold this opinion and wish him well in his efforts to validate his beliefs. However, in the final analysis his claim that God exists is a speculative assumption that, in my view, is not founded on any sound evidence.


 




GOD'S EXISTENCE CERTAIN

(Investigator 157, 2014 July)


Mr Straughen asks: "What evidence is there that a disembodied/immaterial and transcendental mind exists that we can call God?"

Straughen needs to re-read what's been written on that topic in Investigator since #126.

There was the "Fine Tuning of the Universe" debate in #126 - #132 between Straughen and Mr Rogers, and my own efforts which augmented fine-tuning with five further arguments. If we isolate the parts of a chair into the legs, seat, back, etc, and study each part by itself we'll never recognize the chair. Similarly each argument for God is alone insufficient but together they're decisive. (#143)

Staughen says that "mind…entails the existence of a material brain … based on … biology." This was answered before by equating the supernatural with higher dimensions. The fourth dimension i.e. "time" may be non-material, nevertheless is compatible with the existence of matter and mind. A fifth dimension may be infinitely bigger than 4-D and what's infinitely bigger allows for virtually anything.

Straughen criticizes my comparing of the six evidences with a "jig saw puzzle" which doesn't have to be complete for us to recognize the picture. He says we "have a pre existing knowledge of … their subject matter" but no "preexisting knowledge of the cause of the universe". Actually we don't know what picture a jigsaw will produce prior to doing some sorting and matching. The "jigsaw" analogy illustrates that multiple pieces of evidence allow us to infer a picture or conclusion before all the evidence is found or fitted.

Straughen refers to ancient idol-gods being discarded as scientific knowledge grew and thinks that eventually every god will go. This is the Bible's prediction too, except for one exception which is: "All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD…" (Psalm 22:27)

Do presents under the Christmas tree prove Santa exists? This is another objection by Straughen. People who believe in Santa would regard the presents as supporting Santa's existence but unbelievers would not. My arguments for God are addressed to unbelievers. The "presents" in the form of "finely tuned" laws that permit intelligent life, point to a Creator of startling power but do not by themselves confirm any god of any religion. For that my other arguments are necessary.

I surmised that the Creator might have supplied information about himself beyond what can be inferred from physics and astronomy. (#151) This leads to an examination of various religious documents and testing their claims by consulting science. The Bible does rather well — with hundreds of its statements already confirmed.

Straughen appeals to Islamic apologists who defend Islam and says "Proof of this kind…is subjective…"

If the Muslim apologists begin by assuming Islam is true then of course it is subjective. I showed in #146 that if we start with a religious belief and assume it true prior to investigation, then even silly ideas such as "The queen of the fairies created the whole world in 1850" can be defended. To avoid this fallacy I put science first, make it the criterion, judge belief by it.

Atheists invoke a "multiverse" to explain "fine turning" — the argument is that if the number of universes is infinite then a Universe like ours has to exist. However, not even one other Universe has yet been demonstrated.

Buchanon (2014) mentions four levels or types of multiverse and says: "there does seem to be something a little questionable with this vast multiplication of multiverses."

Also, what produced the "Multiverse" if it exists? And what produced whatever produced the Multiverse? Paul Davies (2008) says: "To avoid an infinite regress … you have to at some point accept something as 'given'… Multiverse devotees … accept a package of wonders, including a universe-generating mechanism, quantum mechanics, relativity and a host of other technical prerequisites…"  (pp 214-219)

The Bible tells us that God's greatness is "unsearchable"; the heavens fit in God's hand; and there is a supernatural world humans cannot [at present] reach. From this perspective a "multiverse" is a valid speculation. Therefore the Multiverse that atheists believe in so as to account for one Universe without God, is what may be discovered if God exists.

I previously wrote of a reclusive neighbour whose existence I infer from lights in the house, postal deliveries, etc. A blind man, however, would not even see the lights. If the blind man rejects inductive reasoning he would conclude "The neighbour doesn’t exist." But he would be hard-pressed if one day he met the neighbour. That's why one of my six arguments is an experience of or encounter with God.

It would be strange if we could conclusively prove God without an encounter, when we cannot conclusively prove by argumentation without inductive inference a neighbour's existence.

Are there such emotions as "generosity", "love" or "curiosity"? A skeptic might see people donating to charity but instead of inferring the existence of "generosity" he says: "I want to see generosity itself without inferring it from behavior." So we're stuck. Such a person needs to feel "generosity", encounter it in himself, before he'll believe it exists.

Similarly with God. But the encounter part of the proof is between God and each individual. It's not up to me.

What is doable by me is to add to the inductive trends already established and demonstrate:
1.    More examples of "fine tuning" of the Universe;
2.    More accuracies in the Bible;
3.    More evidence for supernatural realms;
4.    More accounts of "miracles";
5.    More reports of experiences of God;
6.    More evidence of unlimited human potential.

These evidences are what the debate began with in #143.


REFERENCES:

Buchanon, M. No end to the multiverses, New Scientist, 18 January, 2014, pp 46-47

Davies, P. 2008 The Goldilocks Enigma, Mariner Books, pp 215-219.




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