@pauluc: This nicely encapsulates the evangelical zeal I have increasingly …

Comment on A “Christian Agnostic”? by Sean Pitman.


This nicely encapsulates the evangelical zeal I have increasingly seen acolytes of Richard Dawkins and the new atheists who embrace ET as a antidote to the nihlism that characterized the “old” atheists and gives meaning in the present of mortality salience.

Since when does Richard Dawkins find ultimate meaning in life? – beyond what can be self-generated or enjoyed for the here and the now? or for however long one’s offspring may live in the terminal universe? – a universe with a limited life span? As far as I’m aware he is right in line with the likes of William Provine who wrote:

One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism. – No Free Will (1999) p.123

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.

Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.

“Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life” 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address

And, speaking from the perspective of Darwinism, I think that the modern atheists, like Dawkins and Provine, are right on the money here. Also of interest, and worthy of consideration in this particular discussion, Provine went on to write:

I obviously agree with Gould about intelligent design in organisms, but I think also that a real disagreement exists… Gould said it’s fine to believe that God created all creatures through the laws of science but this is basically deism, considered atheism in Isaac Newton’s day.

Gould described his own personal view as “agnostic,” appropriately conciliatory in pursuit of NOMA. Did he treat his own scientific theories in a similarly agnostic way? Did he say he is an agnostic about the concept of punctuated equilibria, one of his favorite theories? … Gould, Thomas Henry Huxley (inventor of the term), and Charles Darwin all billed themselves as agnostics, although they somehow avoid being agnostic about natural selection. Gould appeared to be saying that religion is fine as long as it can’t be distinguished from atheism in the natural world.

Darwinism, Design and Public Education (2003) p.507-8

To summarize, it was Richard Dawkins who said:

I have a certain niggling sympathy for the creationists, because I think, in a way, the writing is on the wall for the religious view that says it’s fully compatible with evolution. I think there’s a kind of incompatibility, which the creationists see clearly.

– Adventures in Democracy March 8 2010 2.20

Without the hope of God or an eternal life in a better place after we die in this life, upon what basis is there any real ultimate meaning or purpose to life?

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

A “Christian Agnostic”?

Christian Agnostics (distinct from a Christian who is agnostic) practice a distinct form of agnosticism that applies only to the properties of God. They hold that it is difficult or impossible to be sure of anything beyond the basic tenets of the Christian faith.

Indeed. Which, I suppose, is why Dr. Taylor claims to believe in God and in Jesus as the Son of God. However, when asked, Dr. Taylor also says that he knows of no good evidence to support his belief in even the basic existence of God that he could honestly share with his own granddaughter. In this sense, his form of agnosticism goes a bit deeper than what you’ve referenced here.

Also, the idea that one can accept the fantastic claims of the Bible about Jesus’ divine origin, life, death, and resurrection, but reject other Biblical statements on the origin of life on this planet is just a bit inconsistent… which was the main point of my essay.

Sean Pitman

A “Christian Agnostic”?

You’re right. I originally understood your comment as suggesting that Adventists believe in the existence of a conscious soul independent of the body. Now that I re-read your comment, I misunderstood what you actually said. My apologies.


A “Christian Agnostic”?

I’m afraid you are getting stuck in defintions of your own making if you cannot dististiguish agnostics into atheists, my friend.

I don’t think you’re a real agnostic my friend. Real agnostics don’t go around saying that God’s existence is “likely”. They go around saying that they don’t know if God’s existence is or is not likely…

As has been pointed out to you you are stuck in an empirical paradigm when it comes to understanding God soley by evidence. Logically God can exist without any ability of humans to detect God whatsoever.

Exactly… just like garden fairies.

That may be the case if the creative force for our universe exists outside our universe and the physical laws of nature have governed everything from the big bang.

Indeed… and the same could be said of some non-intelligent creative force. Why then do you propose that an intelligent God “likely” exists over the possibility of a non-intelligent creative force as the ultimate origin of everything?

Yes I think that a God, a grand design, a first cause, the meaning for everything is logically and philosophically likely because of the lack of any explantion or understanding of how it all came about.

How does a lack of an explanation, by itself, make the existence of an intelligent God more likely than a non-intelligent creative force?

Not enough to say oh well we don’t know how it all started so it just must have spontaneously occurred.

I agree, but how it this enough to conclude that an intelligent God is therefore more likely to have been responsible?

Is there a design to life, this universe, the collective metaverse, or is it all a random crapshoot we will never understand? Don’t know, but It seems plausible to me, as I duck the flying spaghetti and look into the causal soup, that there is an ultimate answer that would make sense of it all.

Again, saying that something is possible or “plausible” isn’t the same thing as saying that something is “likely”. One could also argue that it is just as plausible that a mindless mechanism was ultimately responsible for everything… which is the argument of Dawkins and Hawking. Upon what basis do you suggest that the existence of an intelligent creative power or “God” is more likely to have been ultimately responsible? – not just a potential existence, but a likely existence?

“How does an atheist explain first cause, infinity or infinite regress on a rational basis?”

Based on what I like to call the “Turtles all the way down” argument (from on a story in Hawking’s book, A Brief History of Time and the title of my own little book on intelligent design and ultimate origins). In short, the argument is that if something that is known to exist can be explained by some mindless mechanism, and that mechanism can itself be explained by some underlying mindless mechanism, and so on as far as one has so far been able to search, then, most likely, as far as one is able to tell given the information that is currently in hand, the same sort of result will continue “all the way down” even if one has yet to reach the “bottom turtle” – so to speak.

Of course, the same argument can be turned around to suggest that if certain features cannot be explained without the input of an outside source of higher level information, and that source cannot itself be explained without an even higher level source of outside information, and so on as far as one is able to investigate, then, logically, it stands to reason that ultimately it is “Turtles all the way up”. In other words, the ultimate source of everything, the “top turtle” so to speak, likely has access to infinitely great informational complexity, intelligence, and creative power.

In short, if you can’t tell which way the turtles are going at all, there is no rational way to say what kind of turtle is at the end of the line (an intelligent one or a mindless one).

Sean Pitman

Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.

The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.

God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.

The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.

For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”

That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.

Sean Pitman

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Bill Sorensen:

Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.

God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28

Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.

Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.

This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…

Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.

Sean Pitman

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.

Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.

Sean Pitman

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…

Sean Pitman