Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rom 1 reply, 46: The William Lane Craig -- Alex Rosenberg debate on Does God Exist? (A summary of why faith in God is a reasonable step, and a typical example of unfortunately ad hominem laced dismissals by contemporary atheists . . . but we can then think about what reasonable faith that God exists means)

The Craig-Rosenberg debate was a year ago but is still highly relevant today:

WK -- BTW, HT! -- has a point-counterpoint breakdown summary worth reading, here

It is helpful to highlight the summary of Dr Craig's opening argument:
Dr. Craig’s opening speech:
The topic: What are the arguments that make belief in God reasonable or unreasonable?  . . . .
Eight arguments:
  1. Contingency argument: God – a transcendent, personal being – is the explanation of why a contingent universe exists. [--> just think, big bang, if you doubt this]
  2. Cosmological argument: God is the cause of the beginning of the universe, which is attested by physics and cosmology.
  3. Applicability of mathematics to nature: God is the best explanation for the applicability of mathematics to nature. [--> This is novel, reflecting Craig's current lines of research]
  4. Fine-tuning argument: God is the best explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe to permit life. [--> try the introduction here]
  5. Intentionality of conscious states: God is the best explanation of the intentionality of our mental states.
  6. The moral argument: God is the best explanation for the existence of objective moral values and duties. [--> try Moral Yardstick 1: it is self - evidently so that it is wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a young child, and that if we see such in progress, we have a duty of care to intervene to stop the monster.]
  7. The resurrection of Jesus: God is the best explanation for the core of historical facts accepted by most ancient historians across the ideological spectrum.
  8. Religious experience: God is the best explanation of our immediate experience and knowledge of his existence. [--> as in, my own life, that of millions today and many more down the ages, have been utterly positively transformed by encounter with the Living God, whom we know as confidently as we know that our Mothers have minds of their own . . . my Mom is NOT a mindless zombie! . . . and that our Moms love us with a love as strong and unyielding as death]
Cumulatively, a fairly strong case.

Now, let's ask:  
Q: can the existence of God be demonstrated beyond all doubt relative to axiomatic premises accepted by all rational thinkers?

A: Patently, not. Not least, as if one has a valid argument (p1, p2, p3, . . . pn) => q, and an objector is sufficiently hostile to q and is clever, on a major worldviews issue s/he will be almost always be able to argue . . . or, imply . . . not-q , so not-(p1, p2, p3, . . . pn). For instance, consider pi and pj, which are "controversial" and -- we can say or imply -- "question-begging."  So, there, we can now dismiss your "proof."
Are we therefore inevitably stuck in deadlock?


This is where the issue of the inevitability of faith in a worldview's foundations (or roots if you will) comes up, the turtles all the way down vs alternatives issue. Turtles, all the way doooown:

So, we face then the following three-pointed worldviews challenge on comparative difficulties:

Where, of course -- as noted -- the finitely remote sets of first plausibles are our diverse faith points.

Are we then locked up to sterile, futile stalemate?


Comparative difficulties analysis allows us to evaluate relative factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power and balance of alternative worldviews. Yes, all worldviews bristle with difficulties, but: 
(a) some simply fail the basic facts test, 

(b) some are manifestly incoherent and 

(c) others are on the road to failure known as "one patch after another to stop the next leak and the next and the next," leading to an ad hoc patchwork.

For instance, providing that one is reasonable, it is undeniable that error exists

This leads to the corollaries that truth exists as what conforms to and accurately describes reality. Knowledge -- even, strong form knowledge as justified, true belief -- also exists. And so, any worldview that does not square with this is in trouble. 

Their name is Legion, starting with various relativistic systems.

Similarly, one can make a case that the cumulative price paid to reject all that one has to reject in order to dismiss the reality of a knowable God whose intervention has transformed millions of lives across time and down to today, lands one in a very tight corner indeed. With the life-story, Passion, death, burial and witnessed resurrection of Jesus as Exhibit A.

Let's take Dr Craig's debate with Shabir Ally, a Muslim advocate as a useful examination, from the perspective of the Islamic challenge to the resurrection of Jesus:

And where of course the now traditional Lee Stroebel video is also helpful:

So, now, what then should we do?

Take our stand on a Reasonable Faith. END