More Ham: Observational and Historical Science

hamThis division is pure, grade ‘A’, nonsensical horseshit. There is no such division in science between observational and historical, there’s just science. ‘History’, a humanities subject, is sometimes called ‘Historical Science’ but in your actual ray-packs and jet-guns science, such a distinction does not exist.

Essentially, what Ken Ham is suggesting by making this division is that ‘If you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen’. Nye dealt with this quite adroitly with comparisons to procedural crime dramas like CSI and so on. Hopefully a point aimed at a level that could get through to the creationist audience. After all, everyone can appreciate the need for a justice system and one that – hopefully – catches the right guy and can prove it in court. There are many imperfect parallels between criminal investigation and science and that makes it a great way to reach people and help them understand. (Presumption of innocence = Burden of Proof, Judge & Jury = Peer Review, Evidence = Observations & Experiments).

Can we use observations in the present to determine what happened in the past?

Let us suppose that I have a piece of ham. Not Ham, just ham. Now we all know that ham is a pork product, made from pigs. Do we though? How do we know? Were we there when the ham was made? No, we weren’t. How might we use observations in the present, to determine that this ham was a pig in the past?

Well, ham is still pig flesh. We could take a biopsy from my sandwich and send it away for testing. It could then be cross-checked against the pig genome and if the genetic blueprints match any reasonable person might agree that yes, this ham used to be a pig.

We could also trace the ham back to its source. Tracking where food comes from is hugely important for hygiene and other reasons. It allowed all those ‘horsey’ lasagne ready meals to be tracked back to their source and allowed prosecutions and fines to be levelled. Incidentally it was genetic testing (see above) that demonstrated the presence of pony flesh in the first place. We can go back to the supermarket, from there to the supplier, the factory, the farm and to the herd of pigs. Depending on the country and level of food paranoia we might even be able to trace it all the way back to an individually recorded pig.

Does this not seem a reasonable way to pursue information about the past?

Ham relies on ‘testimony’, witness statements. Of course, the Bible isn’t reliable witness statements and doesn’t come from the time of the alleged events so it fails even by his own standard, but that’s another argument. Never mind that witness statements are the most unreliable 42_43e9fe72926526557c320ce95a8819feform of evidence we have, they’re great at convincing juries and in a similar way ‘testimonials’ are great for convincing people to sign up to the faith and drink the Flavor-Aid. This is where science has a bit of a PR problem. Scientists rightly couch everything they say in cautious terms, but that reads as weakness or uncertainty to that kind of crowd. ‘We think’ and ‘The evidence suggests’ and ‘It’s probable that’ sounds unimpressive next to ‘I know’ or ‘God told me’, whatever the truth of the matter might be.

If we went by Ham’s way of thinking criminals would walk free most of the time and we would cut ourselves off from some of the only meaningful ways we truly have to look into the past. It is telling when someone is so utterly desperate to maintain their outmoded belief system that they’re willing to throw any and all reason under the bus.

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Hammy Presuppositional Apologetics

In the big Ham on Nye debate, Ham tried – a couple of times – to get Nye on the hook with presuppositional apologetics. These were the times he was asking ‘Could you be wrong about everything you know?’ Nye didn’t take the bait either time, which is good because it means the time was spent more productively. I was going to write a big-ass post all about this line of silliness, but the short video at the bottom pretty well covers everything I would want to say.

There’s two additional points I would make.

Presuppositional apologists try to claim that all truth and logic, the basis of science itself is contingent upon the existence of god. This is their presupposition and they try to claim that people they’re arguing with have their own, equally egregious, presuppositions.

This isn’t true.

Logic, reason, science all come from observation and measurement and the time-tested accuracy and utility of that methodology. It is more correct to say that reason follows post-supposition. We test a thing to see if it is true and then apply it. If it doesn’t work, we discard or revise it and try again. We don’t even presuppose that these results are going to be consistent, which is why we have peer review, repeat experimentation and so on. This is not circular, because these methods produce knowledge which can then be used. If we were wrong about radioactive decay, smoke alarms wouldn’t work. If we were wrong about the lifting effect of wings, planes couldn’t fly and so forth.

The Christian presuppositional argument (and it is usually Christian) can also be applied to other deities, ‘real’ or imagined and even to the universe itself without the need to invoke supernaturalism at all. Whatever stance you take it would follow that whatever the source of logic, reason and science (natural laws) would be, it should be demonstrable via those same natural laws. Can we evidence a god via that method? No. Is it then reasonable to assume that such exists? No. (Incidentally, I’ve seen Muslims try to use this argument too, so right there we have a conflict).

Presuppositional apologetics is just another, dishonest, semantic word game. Just as with William Lane Craig’s version of the Kalam Cosmological argument and as such should probably, at best, be pointed and laughed at.

Did You Keep the Receipt?

It is not a weird thing at all – in much of the world – to hear someone say they do not believe in god. In Europe – especially Northern Europe, this is as or more common than believing in god and those who do believe generally have a rather vague notion of some sort of ‘something’ rather than the god described in ridiculous holy books.

It IS a weird thing to believe a nonsensical book, with no evidence, for no reason. That is very weird.

Seen/touched etc is a strawman. What matters is evidence. There are many things we cannot see/hear/smell/taste/touch directly but we can construct experiments and devices that extend our senses or reveal the presence of a force or power through inference. Despite this, there remains no evidence for a god and without evidence for a god it is not rational to believe in one.

There is no reason to believe in a soul just as there is no reason to believe in a god.

‘Look at all this stuff!’ (Stars, Moon, etc). These have naturalistic explanations there is no reason to think they are the work of a deity and no evidence to support the idea that they are. This is a question, not an answer, not evidence.

‘Accident’ is another strawman. Much of the universe (not all) is deterministic, but natural. Drop a rock, it falls to the ground. Gravitation is how planets and stars form. This is not an accident (the unintended result of a volitional action) but of nature.

Vehicles are not natural phenomena, not evolved, do not reproduce themselves. The comparison is idiotic and betrays a lack of scientific knowledge – or a wilful set of lies.

Such an assertion also begs the question, who made god? If the universe requires a creator because of its ‘complexity’ then an even more complex creator must also require an even more complex meta-creator and so… ad infinitum. If you argue god is an exception then not all things need a creator and that can easily be applied to the universe itself, removing the creator again. He falls into this trap by himself a little later on. The point being the argument defeats itself.

We’re already creating and modifying life both robotically/electronically and via biological means. We haven’t had 3.75 billion years to do it, but we’re about at the level of insect intelligence in our efforts. Which ain’t bad considering industrial society only dates back a couple of hundred years at the most.

Quoting the Koran without providing any reason to believe it or take it seriously is pointless.

Science in the Koran? There simply isn’t any. It’s all rather tortuous post-hoc rationalisation of vague poetic passages. http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Scientific_Errors_in_the_Qur

We are not ‘given’ life by some supernatural force but rather our parents combine genes and we grow from natural elements. It is not a gift, but a hard-won existence.

It boils down to this.

In this video the personable and earnest young man makes a lot of claims but provides no evidence. If you want to claim anything what you need is evidence. An answer need not be the right answer. ‘6’ is an answer to ‘what is 2+2’ but it is not a right answer and we can show this with beads or any other countable object should we choose to do so.

If you want to say ‘god exists!’ you need evidence. If you want to say ‘god created the universe!’ you need evidence. So it is for all things.

Religious Spam Round-Up 4: Atheism is Irrational! Somehow…

reasonbrainEvery day social media users, especially those identifying as agnostics, atheists and skeptics, are subjected to a barrage of religious spam from true believers. This tends to be repeated, day in, day out, several times a day with no attempt to engage or discuss the matter. It’s spam, plain and simple. Some groups even seem to use small botnets, multiple accounts or proxies to spam hundreds of identical or similar messages all in one go.

Let’s look at some, all from one afternoon and evening on Twitter and only a small sample…

Atheism & the Denial of Reason

This charming individual even has their own special definition of atheism, which they conflate with materialism and various other factors. While it is common that atheists are also materialists, rationalists, skeptics etc it is by no means guaranteed and the definition of atheism is just ‘I don’t believe in god/s’. Anyway, moving on with the article…

The article is actually nothing to do with ‘reason’ but to do with determinism. It attempts to suggest that as an atheist (as they define it) one must necessarily believe that anything and everything is deterministic and that there’s no free will whatsoever. From there it somehow tries to suggest that determinism denies reason.

There’s several problems with this.

1. A deterministic ‘clockwork universe’ is an old-fashioned, Newtonian view. It does not mesh with modern understanding via chaos theory and quantum mechanics. The tiniest changes in a complex system can lead to different results and things are in constant flux.

2. Determinism wouldn’t deny that we’re rational agents anyway. Computers work entirely deterministically and operations only work if they are logical, with correct syntax. A rational conclusion is one reached via the evidence given. A logical conclusion. Damage the mind, bias it and it won’t come to logical conclusions. You could consider religion akin to a computer virus in this instance.

3. Religious beliefs don’t allow for free will. An omniscient agent precludes free will. You can either have an omniscient deity or free will, but not both as they’re logically incompatible. This either results in no human free will (Calvinist approach) or an imperfect or non-existent god.

(Im)Proving God(arguments)

 

I got screencapped on a blog by Jennifer Fulwiler raising some questions and objections to her – alleged – conversion from atheism to Christianity. I have my suspicions about anyone who claims that, and Mrs Fulwiler’s claim seems to be based on an argument that amounts to: “Look how cute my baby is. Therefore, god.”

The blog post goes into a bit more detail, but ultimately it kills itself off before it even gets going.

But since religion cannot be proven in any kind of verifiable way, a person cannot both subscribe to an evidence-based way of evaluating the world and be a believer. One or the other has to go. Right?

Right. End of blog post then yeah?

No?

It started with a conversation with my grandfather, an engineer who worked his way through college by shoveling coal during the Great Depression, and went on to build complicated refineries all over Mexico and South America. He’s not overtly religious, and I always assumed that with his keen intelligence and careful, analytical way of thinking, he must be an atheist. So when it came out that he believes in God, it piqued my interest.

It figures that he would be an engineer. Engineers are notably more conservative and religious. Quite why this is isn’t particularly known but when it comes to creationism I suspect it is to do with being predisposed to ‘making things’ and thinking that this is the only way that things can come about.

I began to consider that many of the pioneers of science believed in God — Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Boyle, and Mendel, to name just a few. Almost all the great Greek and Roman thinkers of antiquity believed that supernatural forces were at work in the world. In fact, among people considered to be the greatest minds of history, only a small percentage were atheists.

This is an argument from authority and, therefore fallacious. Further, while these men may have been believers their work was not on god and did not prove gods existence. In the case of many of them their work has done quite the opposite (perhaps most notably Galileo and Copernicus) and this put them in opposition to the Christian religion.

To pick out a favourite example, Newton, as well as being a theist Newton was a ritual magician and an alchemist. Are we, then, to also believe that demons and spirits can be controlled with magic words and circles scribed on the ground? Should we abandon science and take up pursuit of the philosopher’s stone? Hopefully Mrs Fulwiler wouldn’t want anyone to take up those pursuits. So why make the exception for this singular, particular line of unproven nonsense?

Was I really ready to say that I was a more analytical thinker than my engineer grandfather? Was I seriously going to claim that the monk Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics, did not require evidence before believing a theory to be true? Did I honestly think that it never occurred to Galileo to question assumptions?

Mrs Fulwiler has misidentified the problem. It isn’t so much the degree of genius or analytical thinking but whether that analytical thinking is applied to the question of god or not. People are fully capable of holding contradictory ideas or cordoning off certain sets of ideas from critical analysis. Skepticism and critical thinkings are ways of addressing and overcoming this tendency and the result is atheism. Not that atheists aren’t also capable of abandoning skepticism and critical thinking when it comes to their own pet causes.

One must also consider the historical context. For a great many years not being a believer (or being the wrong kind of believer) was a death sentence and if it wasn’t a death sentence it was a social death sentence. An obscenely wealthy church also held a lot of purse strings. Still, despite this science did advance – usually when religion retreated. The two biggest leaps in scientific knowledge before the present day came with The Renaissance and The Enlightenment, both associated with a weakening of religion.

I set out on a search for truth about the spiritual realm, which pretty quickly led me to the only lasting world religion whose founder claimed to be God. I came to see that there was a strong case that a person named Jesus of Nazareth did exist. I thought it was interesting that Christianity spread like wildfire through the ancient world, despite the fact that becoming a Christian often meant persecution or even death.

The term ‘spiritual’ might as well be a noise. It is so loosely defined as to be useless.

The grandiosity of a claim doesn’t make it more likely to be true. It does increase the amount of evidence required. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

There is no historical evidence for Jesus, whatsoever. This is an unpopular opinion to be sure, but one easily refuted by the producing of even a single piece of evidence. To call the case ‘strong’ is so wrong as to be laughable.

Many religions have spread fast. This is an argument from popularity. Put it this way, in current times Islam is growing faster and, in the west, atheism and neopaganism are growing faster than both (or were a couple of a years ago). Put another way, more people in the world don’t believe in any particular religion than do. People are also willing to die for a great many causes, religions and ideologies. It doesn’t lend them any credibility that people will die for them.

I didn’t know where to turn, so I decided to do an experiment: something rang true about Augustine’s famous statement that you must believe so that you might understand, and so I began to live my life as if God did exist. I prayed, even though I felt like I was talking to myself; I followed the Christian moral code; I read the Bible and honestly tried to understand what it might be trying to teach me.

This is an open invitation to confirmation bias. This ‘experiment’ is, in essence, brainwashing. Except you’re doing it to yourself. An analytical approach is one where you try to prove an idea wrong at least as much as you try to show it to be right. Further, I rather doubt that Ms Fulwiler has stoned any adulterers to death lately. She’s probably eaten shellfish and I’m fairly sure she’s wearing mixed fabrics in some of those photos on her blog. She’s been applying an independent moral filter to Christian morality which only goes to show that morality doesn’t derive from or conform to the Bible.

The more I went through the motions of believing in God, the more the world made sense to me; the more human history made sense to me; the more I started to make sense to me. The picture of human life that I’d formed based on science alone now seemed incomplete. I still believed everything I’d learned through the lens of science, but I now saw a whole other dimension to the world around me.

And people feel the same way about the teachings of any and every guru, self-help book and bagload of nonsense you care to mention. It doesn’t make a single one of them any more credible.

When I considered this experience in light of the evidence for Jesus of Nazareth, the improbable spread of early Christianity, and the seamless and perfectly internally consistent traditional Christian moral code that has stood strong for two thousand years…

What can you say to that but ‘lol’. I mean… really.

I can show you lots of evidence, and, if you’re willing to consider it with an open mind, I think I can make the case that this belief system is at least worth a second look. But I cannot prove its truth to you in the way I can prove that the earth revolves around the sun. The human soul is a necessary component of the God experiment, and the laboratory in which it takes place is the individual human heart. Yes, there is compelling, verifiable evidence for the truths of this belief system, but an analysis of evidence will not — cannot — get you all the way there.

So no. You can’t show anyone any evidence. An open mind is not an uncritical mind. I don’t think you can make this case and if you can’t show it in that way, then you’ve nothing to show. There’s no reason to think there’s a soul either so making that a requirement is like saying you can’t find Nessie without the help of Bigfoot. As with any believer, you’re invited to present this supposed evidence and see if it stands up to scrutiny, but I doubt that it will.

I still doubt Mrs Fulwiler was ever an atheist beyond simply apathetically not believing. She called evolution ‘random’ and doesn’t seem to be knowledgeable of many of the contradictions and issues of Christianity. It just doesn’t sit right.

I began to consider that many of the pioneers of science believed in God — Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Boyle, and Mendel, to name just a few. Almost all the great Greek and Roman thinkers of antiquity believed that supernatural forces were at work in the world. In fact, among people considered to be the greatest minds of history, only a small percentage were atheists. – See more at: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2013/09/on-proving-god.html#sthash.d05RpBM6.dpuf

Why We Have Different Standards

quote-forgotten-were-the-elementary-rules-of-logic-that-extraordinary-claims-require-extraordinary-christopher-hitchens-237619There’s a chap on Twitter who keeps arguing in circles around the idea that somehow we’re being unreasonable in having different evidential standards when it comes to recognising human artifice versus the supposed artifice of nature.

We can, pretty rapidly, recognise the hand of humans in the construction of things. The example the chap uses is that of a real flower versus an artificial flower.

We are intimately familiar with human construction, we see it everywhere and it is usually fairly obvious as we see it.

Taking the artificial flower example it is a confluence of alien materials, many of which do not occur naturally (plastics for example) and it is put together from disparate parts in a manner that isn’t possible in nature. We have plenty of examples of human – and animal – constructions of this ilk and they are of an obvious and immediately different character to what we find in nature.

A natural flower, on the other hand, is not artificial. It is not an artefact. It is grown, its parts come from each other. It self-reproduces and grows. We have no examples or experience of a flower (or anything else natural) being created.

Implicit in the question: “Why do you have different standards of evidence of creation for a fake flower and a real flower” is the assumption that both are created.

The reason we have different standards of evidence for different claims is that some are mundane while others are extraordinary.

The claim that a fake flower is created is a mundane claim due to our experience and the evidence thereof.

The claim that flowers themselves are created is an extraordinary claim with no evidence.

More info here.

Seven Refutations: Follow Up

WonkaSeven Refutations got some attention from the oxymoronically entitled ‘Reasonable Faith’ forum. Predictably the majority of replies are scoffing and misdirection but there’s a few bits and pieces there worth replying to, so this is a follow up. I don’t want to support WLC in any way as I think he’s a morally repugnant charlatan, so I won’t be posting in that forum but I’ll address what – few – pertinent points there are here.

1. Why is there something instead of nothing?

Objection: You don’t answer the question!
Counter: ‘I don’t know’ is an answer, you can substitute ‘we don’t know’ if you like. Saying ‘goddidit’ is still a god of the gaps and fallacious however you want to put it. The rest of this objection missed the point entirely.

Objection: False (WLC is making claims, not providing evidence), you’re currently trying to dispute part of his evidence.  To try to suggest that he therefore has no evidence either shows a deficient understand of what constitutes evidence, or disengenoussness (sic).
Counter: A claim (god did it) is not evidence, no matter how many times you claim it is. The deficiency in understanding of what words mean seems to be a big problem amongst apologists.

Objection: Further, isn’t “I don’t know” a tad bit antithetical to the truth? Do you actually care about the truth, or only about making yourself feel like you’re an intellectual?
Counter: It is honest and in pursuit of truth you can’t allow your preference or desire to shape what you think. I care enough about truth not to make things up or settle for shitty arguments.

Objection: “But what about those that think the brute fact that anything exists may be evidence for something else?”
Counter: It may or may not be. If you want to say the universe is evidence for god/Nyx/enormous quantum computer you’ll need to provide evidence.  Asserting it is ‘god’ without such backing is pointless, bald assertion.

Objection: “If you truly knew the arguments for the cause of why anything exists at all (the universe, time, space, etc…) like the Kalam, or the argument from contingency, you’d know that eventually there has to be a first cause to all this stuff in order to avoid infinite regression.”
Counter: I do, I have – in particular – addressed the nonsensical Kalam argument several times before. I reject the assertion that there HAS to be a first cause to all this stuff in general and that it is god in particular. Evidence still required. Otherwise – again – it’s just assertion.

2. Cause and Effect

Objection: You’re not addressing the ‘actual‘ cosmological argument.
Counter: Fuck me that’s a long-winded way of saying nothing at all. Saying ‘contingent’ doesn’t alter the objections to the claim in any way it just means you’re now claiming the universe is contingent and god is not. Still no evidence for a god and you’re now making two claims about two things without evidence. The refutation stands unchallenged even by this long-winded article. In the end it comes down to this ‘Everything has a cause’ may be a simplification but it is the core of the argument that is universal from WLC to stupid creationists on social media. The objections to it apply to every form of the cosmological argument so far presented whether long-winded and pseudo-intellectual or not. Here’s a longer-winded way of saying the same thing from my POV.

Objection: There are no exceptions within the scientific literature.  If you’re refering to quatum (sic) events like the creation and annihilation of virtual particles, then you’re confusing indeterminacy with being uncaused (sic).
Counter: ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous things’. Virtual particle pairs are not to to with indeterminacy. Here’s a brief, accessible overview of how this applies.

Objection: Please address the actual Kalam cosmological argument, “everything has a cause,” is not a part of the Kalam cosmological argument.  Neither is, “everything has a cause, except God.”  These are not premises to the argument, and as such your criticism does not address the argument.
Counter: Not using your preferred phrasing is not the same as not addressing the argument. Also it is by no means clear that the universe ‘began to exist’ in any meaningful sense, spacetime being what it is.

Objection: This argument is flawed from the start. You are implying these are contingent “gods.” Of course, if you are arguing against someone that holds the position that their God is contingent, your argument is a very good one. Unfortunately, as a Christian, I hold that God is uncreated. An eternal, uncaused God. Or, as Aristotle would put it, the unmoved mover. A necessary being that exists by its own necessity. Therefore, your argument is null and void against a non-contingent God(s).
Counter: This is covered in the original refutation being replied to.

3. Design & Complexity

Objection: You’re not accounting for the universe being the way it is.
Counter: Missing the point again. I don’t have to – though there is a lot of science on this it would be besides the point of this post and this counter. This is not an argument from ignorance, ‘I don’t know, therefore goddidit’ is.

Objection: What does my perspective have anything to do with observing nature and seeing that they are finely tuned? My perspective does nothing to change the brute fact that the laws of nature are expressed as mathematical equations, or that certain arbitrary quantities that were put in initial conditions for the laws of nature to run on were so precisely tuned, that it implies a designer like: the balance between matter and anti-matter, or the level of entropy.
Counter: This objection makes a good example of the problem of perspective. You are coming at it with the presupposition of design (still with no evidence, only fallacious argument from incredulity). That something can be described mathematically doesn’t make it designed, that qualities are what they are doesn’t mean they are designed. Fine tuning is ‘puddle thinking’ (ref: Douglas Adams) which is another example of distorting perspective.

Objection: What are you implying here? The oscillating model? The multiverse theorem? Even then, many of the multiverse models can’t account for fine-tunning.
Counter: No implication, just that things are as they are. If they were different they’d be different. We arose fitting the universe, not vice versa. There is no ‘fine tuning’.

4. Objective Morality

Objection: You say there’s no objective morality but you object to Craig on moral grounds!
Counter: No objective morality is not the same thing as no morality.

Objection: Saying there is a possible explanation, but not giving one, is the fallacy known as the Phantom Third Option.
Counter: The point is only that there are many possible explanations and zero reason to think, of this set, that yours is the one. At least not without evidence.

Objection: Also claiming that God rapes children? Have you actually read the bible?
Counter: Yes, and the history and observations thereof. This is why I say this. Mary would have been 12-14 (possibly even younger), too young to give meaningful consent. Furthermore she was not consulted or asked, but simply knocked up (at least according to your mythology). What else would we call this?

Objection: This seems like a rhetorical bluff, please provide information on what science investigates morality, and the relevant evidence.
Counter: For just one example, of many, check here. The objector has followed up in a manner that demonstrates they have no idea what they’re talking about. This – and other experiments like it – show that morality is not unique to humans and is determined by ev psych and conditions. It supports the point that there is no objective morality and that morality is ‘nothing more’ than a result of these things. Along with everything else it utterly destroys the idea that there’s anything objective about morality. The foundation and origin of morality is, like other traits, survival utility. In humans this is at the level of group selection and complicated by the separate evolution of social/moral systems and their exploitation by toxic memes (such as religion).

Objection: You then go on to accuse God of breaking his commandments. First, did he ever say that he was required to follow these commandments? I distinctly remember a “thou shalt” before each commandment.
Counter: If you’re arguing for an objective morality why would you make an exception for god? If the morality is truly universal and objective then it would also apply to god – how could it not? Entering into specific critique isn’t really relevant here save that WLC is trying to assert this one, particular, god. Point is there is no objective morality.

Objection: We really can’t point to anything that’s universally or objectively wrong? Really? What about torturing babies? Is that something that is “OK” at some point or another depending on the situation?
Counter: A terrorist has planted a nuclear bomb under New York and unless I torture the President’s newborn baby girl to death he will detonate it. The greater good is served by torturing the child to death. Perhaps a religious cult sacrifices a child once per year to ensure the harvest and has strong taboos about not doing this. Within their moral system this is not only the best option, but the only moral option, an honour and it would be immoral not to do it from their point of view. Morality is subjective, temporal, conditional. The closest we can seem to approach to objective morality – IMO – would be a combination of Utilitarianism and Epicureanism. The greatest good for the greatest number. That would still be subjective though – humanocentric if nothing else.

5. Ontological Argument

Objection: This does not answer the ontological argument. For one, a perfect roast beef sandwitch can be eaten, and so cannot be perfect. It also relies upon the existence of all the ingredients it is composed of, and so cannot be necessary. Making a mock version of an argument does not refute that argument, it simply refutes your understanding of the argument.
Counter: Reductio absurdum is a valid technique for exposing problems in the argument. A sandwich would not be perfect if it could NOT be eaten and why should there be only one, why shouldn’t it be a regenerating sandwich? For someone who has an imaginary friend you have a shockingly limited imagination. Stop limiting the OmNOMipotence of the ontological sandwich. The ingredients are intrinsic to the sandwich as the various qualities claimed for the god would be. This objection is absolutely groundless.

Objection: Please address the actual ontological argument.  Dr. Craig uses the argument formulated by Dr. Alvin Plantinga; the most charitable I can be of your above criticism is that it might invalidate Saint Anselm’s ontological argument, but the argument used by Dr. Craig is different.
Counter: It does. The rephrasings of the argument don’t invalidate the criticism which can be rephrased to meet every incarnation.
EG: 1.  It is possible that a maximally great roast beef sandwich exists.
2.  If it is possible for a maximally great roast beef sandwich to exist, then a Maximally Great roast beef sandwich exists in some possible world.
3.  If a maximally great roast beef sandwich exists in some possible world, then a maximally great roast beef sandwich exists in every possible world.
4.  If a maximally great roast beef sandwich exists in every possible world then a maximally great roast beef sandwich exists in the actual world.
5.  If a maximally great roast beef sandwich exists in the actual world then a maximally great roast beef sandwich exists.
6.  Therefore a maximally great roast beef sandwich exists.
7. Furthermore this is MY maximally great roast beef sandwich and therefore cannot be maximally great for me if it isn’t here for me to eat it.
8. Where the fuck is my roast beef sandwich?

Objection: You are using an outdated one so there are newer versions. Nonetheless, your argument still fails because it is talking about ontologically great properties of which a sandwich would not participate. Thus, the parody fails.
Counter: I’ve not seen any better ones and the basic problem is that the concept of a thing is not a thing. We can even imagine things which are logically and physically impossible (like various god definitions). The sandwich does not have to be an active participant. It must just be concievable.

6. Resurrection

Objection: JESUS MYTH! LOL! R U SRS?!?

Counter: Before I actually looked into it I assumed, as many do, that Jesus was a real person, just calcified in accrued myth over time. When I actually looked for evidence and applied historical and scientific method though, I found there was absolutely no evidence for him whatsoever. Now, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence but it is suspicious, especially given the contemporaneous historians, diarists etc make no mention and there’s no Roman record. Add that to analysis of the mystery cults of the period and the themes (Ref: Carrier, even though he’s a bit of a dickhead sometimes) and given the mythological nature of every single other religion – including modern ones – it seems a far more reasonable position that this Jesus character is pure fiction. Anyone who wants to claim otherwise is welcome to present evidence (NEW evidence please) that he existed. I cover this problem briefly here.

Objection: You can’t just wave your flag around and say “there’s no evidence” and act like you just refuted an argument. You have to refute the following facts about Jesus’ resurrection by merely naturalistic explanations- 1- Jesus’ tomb was found empty 3 days after his crucifixion. 2- On multiple occasions and in multiple settings, individuals and large GROUPS of people saw appearances of Jesus after He had died. 3- The disciples suddenly went from sheer doubt and depression about Jesus being who He says he was after He was killed to complete and utter confidence that Jesus was who He said he was, even to the point of death. People don’t die for things they know not to be true, and the disciples had the prime position to know whether or not Jesus’ resurrection was indeed true or not.
Counter: That you strongly believe your mythological events happened does not mean that they did. Until you can show that these supposed events did actually happen and were not simply stories, there is no case to answer.

7. Experiential

Objection: For the believer that has the inner-witness of the Holy Spirit, God’s existence is merely an axiomatic truth.
Counter: The same can be said for true believers of any and all religions. None of whom have any evidence. All of whom claim a unique handle on truth. Diax’s Rake applies.

8. Additional

Objection: “I don’t know” isn’t an answer.
Counter: It is an honest one. Having ‘an’ answer doesn’t make it a valid or reasonable answer. Insisting, loudly and at length, that 2+2=6.2759 doesn’t make it any more true. Point is ‘I don’t know’ doesn’t try to cram in an unsupported answer, as theism does.

Objection: Don’t mock us!
Counter: ‘Ridicule is the only weapon which may be used against unintelligable propositions…’ – Jefferson

Objection: You’re so angry!
Counter: Of course I fucking am. Look at all the harm religion does in the world. My anger has fuck all to do with the content of my points.

Objection: You’re a troll!
Counter: No, trolls don’t really engage other than to wind people up but it’s a typical gambit to smear someone who doesn’t agree with you as a troll.

Objection: You just want traffic to your site!
Counter: I don’t gain anything from it. Really, genuinely, I think WLC is a huge wanker and don’t want to support him.

Objection: You’re not using the biblical meaning of faith!
Counter: I disagree. I define it thus: Faith=(belief-evidence) in the religio-spiritual context. Why? Because that is what it is in this context. See number 2 here. This differentiates religious faith from trust or belief, which can be based on evidence while faith is not. Your supposed biblical definition is Hebrews 11:1
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
This is not inconsistent with my definition, indeed, it meets it. Hope is not substantial, hope is a wish that things will turn out in a particular way. Faith then is substituted for substance in this instance, it is not substance itself. The ‘evidence of things unseen’. Things that are not sensed, detected, confirmable are not evidence. Again, this is a substitution.
So faith is a substitute for substance and a substitute for evidence – things that would rationally support a belief.
As I said then, Faith=(belief-evidence)

Objection: WLC is a scholar with impeccable credentials!
Counter: This doesn’t stop him being a wanker or being wrong. As to the things he holds qualifications in, I refer you to Mr Wonka above. Even if he wasn’t an irredeemable tosspot, charlatan and terrible human being none of these ‘accomplishments’ would make him correct. It is possible for someone to be clever in one regard (in this one, selling people on sub-Chopra bullshit) while an idiot in another (logical and rational thought). Lest we forget, one of the most Brilliant scientists in history, Newton, was also a ceremonial magician and an alchemist.

Summary

None of these objections undermine or remove the refutations in any way. We still have claims without any evidence to back them up by the bucketload along with various strawmen. Craig’s arguments are child’s play to dismantle and nothing in these objections has done anything to bolster them.