Saturday, 1 June 2013

Challenge to Christians (Reissued)

Regular readers will no doubt remember the hilarity, and no little hysteria, which ensued when I challenged Manuel de Dios Agosto, the expelled seminarian who post on twitter using a variety of usernames (some of which are listed here) including @Sacerdotus, to debate a very simple proposition. He had been boasting that he had irrefutable scientific evidence for the Christian god so I challenged him to justify his claim. The result, and his subsequent meltdown can be seen here (it is not for the fainthearted!)

So, with the above in mind, I have opened the challenge to anyone else who holds this same belief - that there is irrefutable scientific evidence for only the Christian god. Can you do better that Manuel? It would be hard to do worse. He took one look at the proposition, saw what a scientific definition actually was, started screaming and shouting abuse and hasn't got his composure back yet. Don't try it if you're also of an unstable disposition!

The (non-negotiable) proposition is:

There is verifiable, scientific evidence for only the Christian God for which no possible natural explanation can exist.

This is non-negotiable because anything less would not validate the belief.

Also non-negotiable:
The proposer (that is the person accepting this challenge) will supply an agreed scientific definition of the Christian God against which the proposition can be tested, precise details of the evidence and how it can be verified, how the hypothesis that it proves only the Christian god is real it could be falsified, and how it establishes the truth of the proposition beyond reasonable doubt. Failure to do so will be regarded as conceding the debate.

Quotes from a book, appeals to authority, statements of 'faith', personal opinion and beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, will not be accepted as evidence unless accompanied by scientifically verifiable evidence.

The forum is to be mutually agreed. All contribution will be echoed to this blog and either party may publish the entire debate in any medium. The forum will not be a blog over which either participant has full control.

The negotiable terms and conditions are:
A neutral referee will be agreed. The rulings of this referee will be final and binding on both parties to the debate. The referee will rule on:
  1. Whether an assertion of fact has been validated with verified evidence.
  2. Whether questions have been answered fully, honestly and without prevarication.
  3. The meaning of words, when these are in dispute.
  4. Whether an argument was ad hominem or not.
  5. Any other disputes when requested by either of the parties to the debate.
  6. Whether a referral to the referee was mendacious or an attempt to prevaricate, divert or otherwise obstruct the normal flow of debate.
  7. The referee may intervene at any time to declare the debate won, lost or drawn.
Should either party fail to provide evidence for which a claim of its existence has been made, the debate will be considered lost.

Making any claim which is shown to be untrue or unsupported by evidence will result in forfeiture of the debate.

Ad hominem arguments will result in forfeiture.

Failure to respond to a reasonable point, answer a reasonable question or to supply the evidence requested within three days (subject to notified periods of absence) will result in forfeiture.

You might want to familiarise yourself with these common fallacies listed here before you start.

So, who's up for it? Can you justify your beliefs in open debate?

If not, you might like to ask yourself why you hold them.

(It almost goes without saying that Manuel need not apply having failed so abysmally once already).

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  1. Science deals with the physical. The God of Christianity is a non-physical entity. You have offered either 1) a knowingly dishonest challenge or, 2) a challenge of ignorance, i.e., you didn't think it through.

    1. Can we take it that you can't defend your faith, or are you saying there is no evidential reason for it yet you still believe it?

      If the latter, what else do you believe without reason? How does that differ from an unreasonable belief?

  2. Again, you are asking someone to use tools which can only measure the physical, to try and measure the non-physical. Its a category error.

    There exists philosophical arguments for God's existence, and there exists historical evidences for Christianity being true.

    1. Was that a yes or a no? Or are you just too embarrassed to give straight answers?

    2. Actually he gave you a perfectly straight answer. If god exists, it is outside of the confines of the physical world. Science tells us about the order and the function of our physical world, it is inept at proving or disproving the existance of something outside of it. Logic, in the form of philosophy, would be a much better setting for this type of debate. You are proposing something you know can't be proved. In contrast though, if you were asked to prove that God does not exist using science I would bet that you cannot.

    3. So did he say yes or no?

      I love the way you hold two mutually exclusive views simultaneously - the sure sign of a delusion. You simultaneously believe:

      1. God is outside reality and so can't be detected therefore can't interact with or be exerting a measurable effect on anything.

      2. God hears your prayers, can detect and be influenced by your words and thoughts, causes everything to happen inside reality and knows what's going on.

      For the purpose of your excuse in this instance you seem to have picked the first belief.

      Of course, normal logic dictates that anything outside reality is indistinguishable from a nonexistent, purely imaginary thing whilst anything which can interact with reality is part of reality and so can't be outside it and can be detected by measuring its effect on other things.

      Intellectually dishonest attempt to shift the burden of proof duly noted, by the way. (See Shifting The Burden.)

      Is there is any risk of you attempting the challenge, at all?

    4. Imagine this, I generate a closed virtual world inside a computer. I set it up with its own laws for how the world operates and put in a race of ai that are bound by these laws, unless of course I the creator intervene in world which I have complete control over. They are in my world. What they can do and observe is subject to the laws of the world which I am not subject to. Can they prove I exist? Can they prove I do not? No, because I exist outside the confines of their world. Can I reveal myself to them? Yes. Can I do it in a way that is outside the scope of what their science can measure or define? Yes. Can I see and hear everything they do? Yes. Can I answer their requests? Yes. Does this prove God exists? No. But I think all the beings in my world would be stupid to try and say I don't exist because I am beyond the scope of what they can prove using their laws I am not subject to.

    5. If they were intelligent they could detect changes you make and so infer that something is operating from outside. They could even eventually work out how the central processing unit and associated architecture works, how the program is encoded and read, and how to change it because computers work according to material rules.

      Quite simply, it is impossible to operate a computer without bringing about detectable changes to it.

      Your argument is thus nothing more than the argument from incredulity and a logical non sequitur - because you can't understand how things work it must be your favourite deity doing it.

      Would you like to have a go at the challenge rather than making elaborate excuses for not being able to?

  3. John B is Im afraid using classic 'Special Pleading'. He may as well just come out and state that old chestnut, 'God is beyond understanding' which is of course the biggest intellectual cop out you can have!

    1. Always amuses me when Theists have to present their god to a special needs god or a god of low standards to allow it to compete with science and normal logic.

  4. People like John B use phrases like "beyond physical" without thinking through what that might actually mean... Just saying god is beyond physical proves/means nothing.

  5. Too much confirmation bias to bring out fruitful reasonable argument. God cannot possibly be a provable entity. You're wasting your time and mine (a Christian) in even asking the question and setting the rules the way you did. If you consider that 'conceding', you've preclosed the argument to the benefit of your thesis way before it even started.

    To start with, we must ask the question what or who God is. If He is the all powerful being who existed before all time, how do you expect to even understand what or who he is by predefining that process. Everything that makes you think so is only a proportion of all of that. The only rational scientific way (unless you want to base your own argument on confirmation bias) is to go and see and then collate what you may find. That's what you do when you don't know what you will find but you want to go and see what's there. Who/what put the small little hot body that was supposed to burst open to create what we see now? It just existed and had a mind of its own to create itself? Or is that too scientific a question to answer?

    1. If you can't detect your god how do you know about it?

      If you can detect it, you should be able to produce the evidence.

      I'm afraid, even if you conveniently define your god as out of the reach of science, you can't remove yourself nor the Universe you claim it control from it.

      Without believing two mutually exclusive things at the same time I'm afraid you can't argue that your god is outside the Universe and undetectable by science, yet inside it and making things happen - and therefore accessible to science.

      But your excuse is duly noted. I'll take it as declining the simple challenge.

  6. By no means proof, but food for thought (no pun intended).

    1. I'm afraid 'miracles', by definition, can never be proved, and are therefore never proof of anything. See Impossible Miracles.

      I appreciate this may be a disappointment for people who like to think their superstition is supported by miracles. It just means their superstition is just that - an evidence-free superstition.

  7. What I'm really after is--would proving such a thing as a Eucharist miracle even count as proof?


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