1. Joined
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    16 Apr '12 05:45
    This is a continuation of examination into the following essay by Dallas Willard:

    http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=42

    DW's argument for the "first stage of theistic evidence" is being examined in the previous thread Thread 145948.

    My intention for this thread is to open up discussion on DW's argument for the "second stage of theistic evidence".
    ---------------------------------------

    DW's second stage argument is a version of what he calls the "argument to design".

    I find his argument in this section thoroughly confusing and unclear. I think DW needs to take a step back and figure out what exactly he intends to argue in this stage. This is evidenced by the fact that he cannot seem to summarize his "challenge" to the atheist in any sensible fashion:

    "So at this second stage we have a challenge to offer the atheist….we urge him to find one case of ordered being – or just being, for, whatever it is, it will certainly be ordered – originating from being without order."

    Well, unfortunately for DW, that challenge does not seem to make any sense; or is at least in some sense question-begging. If DW is going to stipulate or presuppose that any being, whatever it is, is certainly with order; then he cannot reasonably expect anyone to present to his own satisfaction an example of being without order, let alone some example of some ordered being that originated from being without order. So, this "challenge" is a bit of a head-scratcher.

    As for DW's argument, here are what seem to be his main working points, which I am just going to list in the order in which they appear:

    "…evolution…cannot…be a theory of ultimate origins of existence or order….Let us quite generally state, then, that any sort of evolution of order of any kind will always presuppose pre-existing order and pre-existing entities governed by it."

    "It follows as a simple matter of logic that not all order evolved. Given the physical world – however much of evolution it may or may not contain – there is or was some order in it which did not evolve. However it may have originated (if it originated), that order did not evolve."

    "We should pause to notice that the order from which cosmic and biological evolution takes rise must have been one of considerable power and complexity, since it provided the basis of, precisely, cosmic and biological evolution. Evolution itself is a process that exhibits order of stunning dimensions, diachronic as well as synchronic….That specific type of structure found in evolution did not itself come about through evolution, any more than…the laws of mechanics were instituted by the laws of mechanics."

    "…we all have experience…of order entering the physical world from minds – our minds as well as from that of others. Not as if the physical world were totally disordered before our plan or 'design' surfaced there. Of course it is not. We have no experience of ex nihilo creation, and the second stage of theistic evidence does not aim to establish such creation. But, to go back to Paley's classical example of finding a watch in the wilderness, we clearly know that the order that is in a watch first presented itself to the human mind without being present in physical reality, and only because of that did it later emerge within the physical world. We know that locomotives, bridges, and a huge number of other things exist in the physical world because the 'design' for them previously existed in a mind. Some person designed them."

    "So what do we have at the second stage of theistic evidence? We have established that not all order is evolved and that relative to our data there is a probability of zero that order should emerge from chaos or from nothing into the physical world. In addition, we have experience of order from minds (our minds) into the physical world….Now what is the effect of all this? Certainly no demonstration of God in the full theistic sense. But…the possibility of there being such a God has become significantly more substantial….once it becomes clear that order is not self-generating and could not all have originated from evolution, and in light of the fact that order does, at least in some limited sense, upon some occasions actually enter the physical world from mind, we would want to know exactly why – given all of this – we should rule out some fairly direct role of 'larger minds.'"


    Now, one problem here is that nowhere – absolutely nowhere – in this essay does DW define or even hint at what he means by the term 'order'. Leaving this aside for the moment, I guess his argument can be distilled down roughly as follows:

    2.1 Any sort of evolution of order of any kind will always presuppose pre-existing order.

    2.2 There is order in the physical world.

    2.3 From 2.1 & 2.2, there is or was some order in the physical world which did
    not evolve. Additionally, relative to our data there is a probability of zero that this order emerged from chaos or from nothing into the physical world.

    2.4 We have experience of order entering the physical world from human minds.

    2.C In light of 2.1 – 2.4, the possibility of there being a God (in the full theistic sense) has become significantly more substantial.


    Well, I agree with DW that this is no demonstration of God in the full theistic sense. That's because it is no demonstration of God in any sense whatsoever. First off, I do not know what to make of most of his premises, since it is not at all clear to me what he means by the term 'order' (and I would like to know how he reconciles order as a property of things -- actually all things or any being whatever it is, by his own words – and as a thing itself which can take on "power and complexity" that can give rise to things like cosmic or biological evolution). Regardless, I can see no reasonable reading of the term 'order' under which the conclusion of this argument, 2.C, makes any sense. I see no way in which 2.1 – 2.4, even if true, would make the possibility of God's existence "significantly more substantial".
    -------------------------------------

    KJ, do you have comments or corrections?
  2. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    16 Apr '12 06:00
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    This is a continuation of examination into the following essay by Dallas Willard:

    http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=42

    DW's argument for the "first stage of theistic evidence" is being examined in the previous thread Thread 145948.

    My intention for this thread is to open up discussion on DW's argument for the "secon ...[text shortened]... -------

    KJ, do you have comments or corrections?
    You've spoken highly of Alvin Plantinga. Maybe we should be discussing some of his arguments instead of this guy?!
  3. Joined
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    16 Apr '12 06:36
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    You've spoken highly of Alvin Plantinga. Maybe we should be discussing some of his arguments instead of this guy?!
    Yes, I fear you may be correct about that. However, I would like to give KJ a fair chance to rebut. KJ recommended DW to me, which I really appreciate. I promised to discuss some of DW's work with KJ, and I started with this particular essay, since I was especially interested in DW's "stages of theistic evidence". However, I am not too impressed so far with DW's theistic evidence. (Sorry KJ. 😞 )
  4. Cape Town
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    16 Apr '12 07:00
    I think that a common error is to believe that in our universe a randomly arranged set of objects (eg atoms) will not of their own accord arrange themselves into neat (ordered?) formations. However this is quite obviously untrue as many simple examples demonstrate. Almost all such 'ordering' is a result of a force, forces or process. However forces are found throughout the universe and a part of its basic structure.
    Simple examples:
    1. Throw some marbles up in the air. They will end up in a near plane on the floor - somewhat more ordered than the random configuration in the air. (gravity and the shape of the floor are responsible).
    2. Fill a glass with muddy water. Shake. Leave it to stand. It will separate into various layers of different types of particles / substances. This is quite advance sorting being carried out by nothing more than gravity.
    3. A chemical reaction between two free atoms results in a more ordered arrangement of atoms.
  5. Joined
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    16 Apr '12 11:29
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    This is a continuation of examination into the following essay by Dallas Willard:

    http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=42

    DW's argument for the "first stage of theistic evidence" is being examined in the previous thread Thread 145948.

    My intention for this thread is to open up discussion on DW's argument for the "secon ...[text shortened]... -------

    KJ, do you have comments or corrections?
    Well given the sheer number of assumptions and failures to define his terms I am not sure
    how much this argument can be debated because as far as I can see what he has said is
    just nonsense.
  6. Cape Town
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    16 Apr '12 12:17
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    "But, to go back to Paley's classical example of finding a watch in the wilderness, we clearly know that the order that is in a watch first presented itself to the human mind without being present in physical reality, and only because of that did it later emerge within the physical world. We know that locomotives, bridges, and a huge number of other thin ...[text shortened]... ld because the 'design' for them previously existed in a mind. Some person designed them."
    This is another common error. The belief that we can identify man made objects based on their complexity. There are plenty of natural phenomena that but almost any measure would be considered more complex than a watch - yet we do not attribute man as a designer to them.
    What's worse, I think he is attempting to set up a flawed circular argument. He is saying that we can tell a watch is designed as opposed to say a rock because it is more complex (or because of some other unspecified properties that the watch has but the rock doesn't) - but then he goes on to claim that the rock also has those properties and must therefore also have been created (but this time not by man). This seems to be self contradictory.
  7. Standard memberRJHinds
    The Near Genius
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    16 Apr '12 14:53
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    This is a continuation of examination into the following essay by Dallas Willard:

    http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=42

    DW's argument for the "first stage of theistic evidence" is being examined in the previous thread Thread 145948.

    My intention for this thread is to open up discussion on DW's argument for the "secon ...[text shortened]... -------

    KJ, do you have comments or corrections?
    It seems that you are conceding the fact that an ordered creation came about
    before there could be any evolution. So it seems that you are saying that after
    God created an ordered creation that it evolved into higher forms of ordered
    creations over time. However, it seems more likely to me that the original
    ordered creations would devolve into less ordered creations given the first and
    second laws of thermodynamics.
  8. Cape Town
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    16 Apr '12 15:09
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    However, it seems more likely to me that the original
    ordered creations would devolve into less ordered creations given the first and
    second laws of thermodynamics.
    Another popular - but false - claim by theists trying to prove the existence of God. The laws of thermodynamics do not say that order should descend into disorder.
  9. Joined
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    16 Apr '12 15:54
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    It seems that you are conceding the fact that an ordered creation came about
    before there could be any evolution. So it seems that you are saying that after
    God created an ordered creation that it evolved into higher forms of ordered
    creations over time. However, it seems more likely to me that the original
    ordered creations would devolve into less ordered creations given the first and
    second laws of thermodynamics.
    No, it does not seem that I conceded any such thing, and it does not seem that I am saying any such thing.

    I simply tried to re-state DW's argument. I do not quite understand what he is actually claiming because I do not understand what he means by the term 'order' here. But, at any rate, I see no reasonable reading of the term under which this argument of DW's makes much sense at all.
  10. Standard memberRJHinds
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    16 Apr '12 18:01
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    This is another common error. The belief that we can identify man made objects based on their complexity. There are plenty of natural phenomena that but almost any measure would be considered more complex than a watch - yet we do not attribute man as a designer to them.
    What's worse, I think he is attempting to set up a flawed circular argument. He is sa ...[text shortened]... refore also have been created (but this time not by man). This seems to be self contradictory.
    All material objects were created or else thay would not be here. We only differ
    in how they came to be here and who created them, right?
  11. Cape Town
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    16 Apr '12 19:32
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    All material objects were created or else thay would not be here. We only differ
    in how they came to be here and who created them, right?
    No. You have already admitted in the other thread that you accept the existence of chance. Thus you presumably accept that some objects arise via chance (or else what else could chance do?)
  12. Standard memberRJHinds
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    16 Apr '12 19:494 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    No. You have already admitted in the other thread that you accept the existence of chance. Thus you presumably accept that some objects arise via chance (or else what else could chance do?)
    No. The chance I was referring to was like when you flip a coin or throw dice.
    Sometimes the coin lands on the tail side and other times it lands on the head
    side. Then when you throw dice you will sometimes get a double six and at
    other times it may be some other combination on the dice. That is usually by
    chance. The creation of the heavens and the earth suitable for life to also be
    created with many types of planst and animals is beyond chance occurrence.
    There is chance occurrences later like during reproduction in which you may
    get a girl or boy and the color of the eyes, etc., based on the number of choices.
    But the creation of the original creature is not by chance. Get it?
  13. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
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    16 Apr '12 22:30
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    It seems that you are conceding the fact that an ordered creation came about
    before there could be any evolution. So it seems that you are saying that after
    God created an ordered creation that it evolved into higher forms of ordered
    creations over time. However, it seems more likely to me that the original
    ordered creations would devolve into less ordered creations given the first and
    second laws of thermodynamics.
    The fact that higher order life forms, dolphins, great apes, humans, lions, etc., are here is proof that your dependence on laws of thermodynamics is mistaken. The tendency to disorder has a big shining problem: The sun continuously gives us nice ordered photons which we proceed to disorder. The sun goes out, we last MABYE one day. Just like our car, we run out of gas, the car stops instantly, not 2 hours later but exactly when the last vapor of gas goes in the engine. So we get a reprieve from your touted laws of thermodynamics, about a 5 or 6 billion year long reprieve. Way long enough for life forms to have started out from a cloud of primordial soup of stuff from comets, interstellar clouds, whatever it was that seeded our planet with the gunk of organic chemistry then water, clays, sunlight, minerals and such brought about the first membranes that weren't even alive at that point but later life forming chemicals like RNA made its way inside the membranes and the rest is history.

    A way out of your 10,000 year conundrum is to just admit god created the universe 14 odd billion years ago and set up the laws that allowed us to exist. Then we have no problem because we can't falsify that and then we would all be in agreement.
  14. Cape Town
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    17 Apr '12 05:10
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    No. .... Get it?
    So you do accept that some material objects are created by chance. Or do you mean something non-standard by the terms 'material objects' and 'created' than standard English?
    If you flip a coin and it lands on a rock, you now have a new object (a coin on a rock) which was create by chance.
  15. Standard memberRJHinds
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    17 Apr '12 05:34
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    So you do accept that some material objects are created by chance. Or do you mean something non-standard by the terms 'material objects' and 'created' than standard English?
    If you flip a coin and it lands on a rock, you now have a new object (a coin on a rock) which was create by chance.
    I don't know why I have wasted my time trying to teach you guys anything.
    You guys must be the most ignorant people in the world.
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