Showing posts with label Wallace Marshall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wallace Marshall. Show all posts

Quote of the Day, By Dr. Wallace Marshall

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[Re-dated post from April 5, 2015]

Recently Dr. Marshall messaged me with permission to quote him:
I wish I could make your two chapters on the problem of suffering (in Why I Became an Atheist) required reading for all evangelicals. They would banish many a shallow Christianity! Your section on the free-will defense also raises a number of issues that most Christians haven't thought about.
--Dr. Wallace Marshall is a Christian apologist and Director of the Charleston, South Carolina, Reasonable Faith chapter.

Dr. Wallace Marshall Endorses the Outsider Test for Faith

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This should not be news to anyone since I'm confident the only way to objectively test one's inherited religious faith is from the outside. The very fact so many Christian apologists have been attacking it shows they really are not interested in knowing whether their religion is true or not. They do so because they tacitly acknowledge their faith cannot pass the test. David Marshall pays lip service to it by acting as if he endorses it, but he guts the test of its key elements.

Enter Dr. Wallace Marshall, whom I debated last Wednesday. [No, to answer your question, I was told it was not recorded.] Marshall told me he endorses the OTF since he is an evidentialist, and gave me permission to quote him. He's the first Christian apologist to do so. See? That wasn't too hard, was it? The problem, as I highlighted in my latest book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist, is that most Christian apologists reject evidentialism, that is, they deny the need for, and/or existence of sufficient evidence for their faith. 80% of them by my rough estimation. So let me put it to Christian apologists everywhere: what would you think if 80% of Mormon apologists denied the need for, and/or existence of sufficient evidence for their faith? Come on, think like an outsider for once in your lives!

Infinity Is Not A Number, So The Kalam Argument Fails

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The concept of infinity is not an actual number. It’s a placeholder for a number beyond our finite conceptions. To see this, just think of an infinite set of even numbers. Now add to that set an infinite number of odd numbers. By adding an infinite set of odd numbers to the infinite set of even numbers we have not increased the actual numbers in that set. So an actual infinite set of numbers does not exist. We could even subtract all numbers with zeros in them, or the numbers 1-1000, or all prime numbers and more, and still have an infinite set of numbers leftover.

With the Kalam argument Wallace Marshall’s error is in thinking infinity is an actual number. Based on this error he says there cannot be an actual infinite number of past events. Well, of course not. That's because infinity isn’t an actual number. Since infinity is not an actual number we cannot count an infinite number of past events. The way Marshall uses infinity assumes there was a beginning an infinite time ago anyway. The truth is that an infinite timeline necessarily lies outside of our epistemic horizons. But this tells us nothing at all about whether the universe is eternal.

Dr. James Lindsay, a friend of mine who has a Ph.D. in math and wrote the book Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly, says:
Eternal cosmologies deny the existence of a beginning. Eternal means no beginning and no end. No first moment. No last moment. In an eternal cosmological model, we have to reckon time only from defined moments, and we can imagine a timeline of infinite length in both directions from any point that we choose. The way we conceive of that is not of a beginning infinitely long before or an end infinitely long after but rather as “there’s always an earlier moment than any we describe and always a later moment than any we describe.”

Now the point isn’t that we know the universe is eternal. It’s that we don’t know that it isn’t. The whole point, by definition, of an eternal cosmology is that there is no first moment (i.e., no beginning).
He goes on to say,
The Kalam is exactly the kind of cosmology we would expect from people who hadn't yet discovered science…It would be absurd if they weren't so embarrassingly serious.

The Moral Argument to the Existence of God

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As far as I can tell, the Islamic State could make the same moral argument to the existence of their god, using their own morality, where it’s okay to rape women, own slaves, chop off heads and burn people alive. Christians like Wallace Marshall would have to agree with their Moral Argument, but disagree with their morals. However, their morals are used as evidence that their god exists, just as his morals are used as evidence his god exists. So certain kinds of morals lead to certain kinds of gods. Or certain kinds of gods are used to justify certain kinds of morals. Which comes first? I’m as sure as sure can be that the morals come first. Where do believers get their morals from? That’s as tricky of a question as it is for me. But I can guarantee you Marshall does not get his morals from the Bible. For if he did, his morals would look much like the morals of the Islamic State. For in the Bible we see much of the same things, like slavery, holy wars, genocide or ethnic cleansing, and Inquisitions.

Regardless, there is no time in the history of ethics where Marshall could not make this argument based on the morals of his day. He could own slaves, offer up his child to Yahweh or have sex slaves and be heard to argue at the local pub that his god is the source of objective morals. This argument to god from morals is empty rhetoric without any content.

Since morals come first, I think Philosopher Raymond Bradley has produced a good counter-argument. Bradley: “If there are universal objective moral truths, then there is no God of the Bible. He then provides some universal objective moral truths that are counter to biblical morality: 1) “It is morally wrong to deliberately and mercilessly slaughter men, women, and children who are innocent of any serious wrongdoing”; 2) “It is morally wrong to provide one’s troops with young women captive with the prospect of their being used as sex slaves”; 3) “It is morally wrong to make people cannibalize their friends and family”; 4) “It is morally wrong to practice human sacrifice, by burning or otherwise”; 5) “It is morally wrong to torture people endlessly for their beliefs.” He argues that “if we take these moral principles as objective ones, as Christians themselves do, then since we find them commanded and permitted by the God of the Bible, he does not exist.”

My Opening Debate Statement vs Wallace Marshall

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The details of the debate can be seen here on Facebook. Below is my 20 minute opening statement. Enjoy below.

Christianity or Atheism? Which Makes More Sense?

I'm Debating Dr. Wallace Marshall This Wednesday On the Existence of God

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I'm going to debate Dr. Wallace Marshall this coming Wednesday, as announced here on Facebook. Wallace appears to have read my magnum opus and says two chapters in it should be "required reading for all evangelicals." Good! I searched and found a debate between Wallace and Phillip Drum on a similar topic. See what you think. Any suggestions?