Sunday, February 9, 2014

JERSEY FLIGHT AND THE IGNORANT THEIST, THEODORE FONKLE



CONTENTS:


I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.



I.

THEODORE FONKLE:


Mr. Flight,

Ultimate questions have always been my favorite.  How could they not be, right?

I am so very encouraged by your invitation and your promise that, "it is very likely a conversation can ensue." [Mr. Fonkle is referring to my open invitation to apologists.]

I don't have quite as many conditions as you do.  In fact, I only have two:  Do you value the truth more than you value your worldview?  If your worldview were wrong, would you like to know that it was?

If your answer to even one of these is "yes," I would love to have a conversation with you if your invitation is still open.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Respectfully yours,
Theodore Fonkle
 

JERSEY FLIGHT:


It would seem your questions have already involved us in controversy.

Whatever do you mean by truth? How do you define a worldview, and at which point do you consider a worldview to be proven false? 

But of course, I can answer in a presumptive, general sense, yes I am very much concerned with truth and neither do I take my "worldview" (as you call it) to be infallible. It would seem everyday my ideas are shifting... at times the world is such a beautiful place.

Respectfully yours,
Jersey Flight  

 

II.

THEODORE FONKLE:


Thanks so much for responding.  I think I can best explain what I mean by a worldview by briefly sharing a little bit about where I am coming from.

I became an atheist in my late teens.  I attribute my atheism to my high school and college education, and I remained an atheist for more than 30 years.  But about 10 years ago, I learned something that made me realize that my education was presented to me from the worldview of
metaphysical naturalism.

The simplest way I would define a worldview is an explanatory filter through which we process all that we learn and experience ( I suspect you already knew this ).  The naturalistic worldview presupposes that all natural effects we observe have completely natural causes.

When I learned that all living systems contain large amounts of information, and it is this information that makes all life possible, along with the fact that this truth was well known at the time I received my education, I became aware that not only was there a worldview behind my education, but that it was powerful to the point of being blinding.  Information is immaterial and abstract. Therefore, the fact that information is the cause of life does not fit in with the naturalistic worldview.  I have since learned that the information storage and processing systems of even the simplest single cell organism is vastly more superior than any such system we have ever encountered.

So I would like to ask you a question:   if it were possible to strip away every worldview, from atheism to fundamental Christianity, upon discovering the most advanced information storage and processing system we have ever encountered; a system which, by the way, routinely produces feats of engineering that our best engineering efforts cannot rival; what would be reasonable to conclude about the origin of such a system?

I am delighted that you, like myself, hold the truth in such high esteem and I look forward to your thoughts on this.

T.F.
 

JERSEY FLIGHT:

"When I learned that all living systems contain large amounts of information, and it is this information that makes all life possible... I became aware that not only was there a worldview behind my education, but that it was powerful to the point of being blinding."

When you say, it was so "powerful to the point of being blinding," what do you think this worldview blinded you from? And is it possible that you are now being blinded by the worldview you have?

-----: "Information is immaterial and abstract."

But how can this be the case if you are observing this component of information in order to arrive at the conclusion of the complexity of information? You used the word "encountered..." well, did you "encounter" this information in a non-material way? How did the information come to be something you know without passing through your senses?

"Therefore, the fact that information is the cause of life does not fit in with the naturalistic worldview."

How the did the cause of life enter the picture? (This is an entirely separate topic).

In what way is information the cause of life? (I find your assertion to be exceedingly vague).

Naturalism at no point claims that information or logic must obtain the status of a physical object in order to be considered existent. [By saying that information is immaterial what kind of immateriality do you think you prove?] The contrast of Naturalism is not immaterialism but supernaturalism.
  
Of course, the bottom line is how you prove the universe should not be the way it is? (And how funny that you are actually speaking about the universe itself, from which thing, you are trying to insinuate, that a thing unlike the universe must exist).
         
 But let me point something out; this present conversation has NOTHING to do with theism, and everything to do with the ontological status of information and its relation to life! [Of course, you are free to connect the dots if you can... linking your idea of God with the ontological status of information?]

"I have since learned that the information storage and processing systems of even the simplest single cell organism is vastly more superior than any such system we have ever encountered."

I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "a single cell organism is vastly superior to any such system we have ever encountered?" Did we not encounter the single cell organism?
  
"...if it were possible to strip away every worldview, from atheism to fundamental Christianity, upon discovering the most advanced information storage and processing system we have ever encountered; a system which, by the way, routinely produces feats of engineering that our best engineering efforts cannot rival; what would be reasonable to conclude about the origin of such a system?"

You asked, what would be "reasonable" to conclude about the origin of a complex structure? The answer is, NOT SUPERNATURALISM!

Supernaturalism must first be established as something reasonable before one can appeal to it as a reasonable explanation. [And by god, most certainly not monotheism!]

You are arriving late in the game; you did not observe the miserable crawl of our species (this is stated as an analogy). So how do you account for the fact we are an advanced species? Were we always this advanced? And yet, clearly we can observe the fact of our gradualism. I see no reason to reject this notion in regards to the origin of life. Why do you assume it started out as something complex [the most advanced (X)]? But who is to say that it will not be more advanced in the future? My answer is that life did not start out complex. Your question is loaded!
     
[Again, this is not a question about theism but a question about the nature and origin of life.]
      
Allow me to explain your predicament. Your confession is not a testament to your honesty, but a manifestation of your intellectual capacity. For you have clearly manifested why you are no longer an Atheist... your analysis of theistic propositions (assertions) is exceedingly weak. At the very best, my friend, you should not have concluded the reasonableness of theism (if you would be reasonable), but the limitations of our present knowledge (which is not an argument for the justification of theism)!
              
My dear man, if you're a Christian it also means you're a charlatan, because Christianity is not the prospective conclusion of your argument from information.
 

You are even confused as to the nature of your argument; your argument is an argument from fine tuning [which argues from the basis of a false dichotomy]; your argument is also a cosmological argument as relates to the origin of life. There is nothing new here.

Confidently yours,
Jersey Flight
 


III.

THEODORE FONKLE:


Mr. Flight...

Thanks for the lengthy reply.  You have put a lot of things on the table.  Let me address what I see as immediately relevant:

"is it possible that you are now being blinded by the worldview you have?"


Sure.  Is it possible that you are being blinded by the worldview you have?  Absolutely!

"how did the cause of life enter the picture?"


I brought it up.

"Again, this is not a question about theism..."

Correct.  Nor did I ever claim that it was (and therefore your claims that my "argument" is a weak and confused argument for theism are completely irrelevant).  Recall that in my first email, I asked you if you valued the truth more than your worldview, and in the second, I explained the reason for my worldview shift, ending by asking you a simple, straightforward question which you have not answered. Up to this point, that's it; that's all I have done.

I have really not made any argument at all yet.  I have simply determined on faith that you are interested in what is actually true and next I told you a little bit about myself.  I appreciate you responding every step of the way, but from my perspective I thought it prudent to tiptoe into a conversation - not assuming anything on your end, but exploring where you really stand and at the same time, letting you know where I stand.  Now, in the interest of clarity, I will tell you exactly what case I intend to make for your consideration.  Here is my case in logical format:


1.  Life requires a Creator.
2.  The Creator of life necessarily possesses at least some of the crucial attributes of God.
3a.The laws that precisely constrain and purposefully govern aimless, inanimate matter further support the existence of this Creator.
3b.The universe also further supports the existence of this Creator.
4.  It is reasonable to conclude that the Creator of all three (life, the physical laws, and the universe) is one and the same.
5.  The only reasonable candidate for this Creator is the God of the Bible.
6.  The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus serve as further dramatic evidence for #5.
7.  The voracity of the Bible adds even more evidence for #5.

This is a cumulative case and it mirrors my journey from atheism to Christianity.  It is crucial to establish the reasonableness of #1 first. The truth of #1 by itself is enough to, at a minimum, throw the naturalist worldview into doubt. This is what happened with me. However, it is not sufficient to establish the truth of Christianity by itself.  Each successive point builds on and is strengthened by the previous points.  If I were to begin a conversation with you trying to argue for the reasonableness of #7 first, you and I could never have a productive conversation.  I know that when I was an atheist, it would have been impossible to have any kind of productive conversation taking point #7 in isolation. However, if each of the first four propositions can be established, then not only does an exploration of #7 become interesting, it becomes vital.  Thus, I will begin by defending #1.  Here is the logical argument I will use to defend that proposition:

1.  Universal information is at the base of all physical life.
2.  The origin of universal information is always intelligent agency.
3.  For some period of time (as far as we know, until it appeared on our planet), no physical life existed in this universe.
4.  Therefore, the origin of physical life in this universe is an intelligent agent that necessarily exists outside of the confines of this universe.

Now I will answer the challenges you have made that will pertain to my first claim in advance of beginning my defense of that claim in my next email:

"I'm not sure what you mean when you say, 'a single cell organism is vastly more superior than any such system we have ever encountered'"


It is helpful to consider my entire sentence, which I stated thus: I have since learned that the information storage and processing systems of even the simplest single cell organism is vastly more superior than any such system we have ever encountered. The complete sentence provides the crucial context.  I am not speaking about a single cell organism, but the information storage and processing systems of life; even the simplest life.  Thus I am saying that the information storage and processing systems of life are superior to any other information storage and processing systems we have ever encountered.

"In what way is information the cause of life?"


This is a question that can be answered in several ways, but the most straightforward (though not simple) way is this;  DNA is a four letter alphabet.  Arranged into codons, or "triplets," after undergoing sophisticated copying, splicing, and editing protocols (themselves governed by codes), specific amino acids are prescribed.  The growing chain of amino acids becomes a protein; a protein determined by the specific sequence of amino acids.  This protein is then folded into a specific 3-dimensional shape and is escorted to where it is needed in the cell, where it becomes a molecular machine or a part of a molecular machine comprised of many proteins (the engineering marvels I alluded to). These molecular machines perform the operations of living organisms; the operations that keep these organisms alive. This entire process is orchestrated by a hierarchy of regulatory and control mechanisms.  The entire overarching meta-system constantly shares and analyses data, and implements solutions in blazing fast real time. The DNA alphabet, the "triplet" codons, the specific amino acid sequences, the editing codes, the splicing codes, the regulatory and control mechanisms, the data sharing and analysis, the solutions; all of these are properties of information processing systems.

This is a simplistic and very abbreviated introduction to the information of life.

"How did the information come to be something you know without passing through your senses?"


If we can recognize functional language, we can recognize information. We do it routinely. For an example, re-read my last paragraph.

"There is nothing new here"

Yeah, actually there is.  From Darwin until well into the last century, it was assumed that physics and chemistry were at the base of all life.  But just a few short years after collaborating to elucidate the DNA structure, Francis Crick (an avowed atheist, by the way) proposed the sequence hypothesis, establishing the informational nature of life.

"What do you think your worldview blinded you from?"

My education left out the informational nature of life, even though it was well know when I was matriculating.  This inexcusable glaring omission can only be explained as a function of worldview; a worldview which persists to this day. That it is information, and not physics and chemistry behind life is a game-changer. Some like yourself, and like I used to be, continue to play the old game, refusing to deal with the profound change.

"You asked what would be reasonable to conclude about the origin of a complex structure"

I asked no such thing.  More than once in your last email, you accused me of making an argument from complexity.  Until quoting you just now, I have never even used that word in our exchange.  Please quote me accurately and rest assured that if I ever do use that word (which I may), it will not be as an isolated concept, but will fit into a larger context.

"The contrast of naturalism is not immaterialism, but supernaturalism."


I would love to address this claim, but first I really need you to provide me with a precise definition of what you mean by "supernaturalism."

"Naturalism at no point claims that information or logic must obtain the status of physical object in order to be considered existent"

True.  But the metaphysic of naturalism demands that information and logic - which are abstract and which you seem to concede are abstract - must be explained by exclusive appeal to matter and energy.  If you wish to make this argument, please be my guest.

"The answer is NOT SUPERNATURALISM!"

Again, I would love to address this claim, but cannot until you provide that precise definition.  I do thank you though for assuming a burden of proof here.

Well I hope I have been able to provide you with some clarity about what I have said to this point and I am very much looking forward to seeing how you will now move the conversation forward.

Humbly yours,
Theodore Fonkle


JERSEY FLIGHT:

I'm not so sure there is good reason to believe a detailed conversation on something as vague as a Creator is justified?

Answer me this; you already admit that you believe in God, so what do you mean by the term God? What are the attributes of the God you believe in?

My guess is that the conversation will not need to go much further than this.

I simply tire of playing these kinds of games with clever theists.

Confidently yours,
Jersey Flight

 

IV.

THEODORE FONKLE:


Mr. Flight...

I am happy to answer your question; indeed I have an answer at the ready.  One thing first:  you and I have both invested time and effort into this conversation.  Until my previous email, we have each respected the other's time and effort by providing substantive responses.  However, you have completely ignored my previous post. Therefore, in all fairness to the conversation, I need you to provide a substantive response to that email; in particular, I need you to provide a precise definition of what you mean by "supernatural."

Once you have done that, I will respond in kind and then oblige you with an answer to your question.

Faithfully yours,
T. F.


JERSEY FLIGHT:

Only God knows how much I loath these sophistical games.

Your argument is so powerful and so sophisticated that I'm deathly afraid to answer. You are the greatest theist I have ever encountered... the profundity of your 5th premise alone is enough to destroy all Naturalistic claims... it would seem you have secured the future of theism for a thousands years.

I submit myself to the logic of a superior master.

humbly yours,
Jersey Flight
 


V.

THEODORE FONKLE:


I'm confused.  Are we still having a conversation or not?  I am happy to continue if we are both serious and honest with each other.  If that's the case, I will review what you have sent me and respond.  If it's not the case, I am puzzled as to why you would send this to me.

[http://www.againsttheology.com/2014/01/insanity-argument-from-wannabe.html]

faithfully yours,
Theodore Fonkle


JERSEY FLIGHT:

I resent having to prove your simplicity, intellectual superficialism.

You bring me a poor game, a game that would waste my time, a game that can offer me no increase. You want me to presume the worthiness and seriousness of your propositions? You want me to school you in fallacies?

I'm sorry, I have to say it; you're an idiot. And sadly the world is full of people like you.
 

Allow me to substantiate my claim. Take your first premise (just your first premise)!

"Life requires a Creator."

Why "a" Creator as opposed to many Creators?

You think you have stumbled onto something profound, but your arguments are worse than ignorant. I refuse to subject myself to your juvenile banter.
 

I let your own scholars speak:

“I don’t know how to do something one could sensibly call ‘showing’ that [theistic intuition or classical Christianity]... is true. I believe there are a large number (at least a couple dozen) good arguments for the existence of God; none, however, can really be thought of as showing or demonstration. As for classical Christianity, there is even less prospect of demonstrating its truth.” Warranted Christian Belief, Plantinga pg.170

Deluded invalid! even your brightest theologians have abandoned the fundamental line. Your argument belongs next to a flat-earth syllogism. Fuck off and quit wasting my time!

Confidently yours,
Jersey Flight
 


VI.

THEODORE FONKLE:


Ease up pilgrim.  Don’t have a heart attack.  You sent me the link.  I didn't solicit it.  Have fun with your worldview of death.  Heck, I wouldn't trade in a worldview that offers that bright future for anything, either!  Cherish it. Protect it at all costs.  Never, ever let it be subject to the court of reason, what ever you do!

This was never a "contest".

sadly,
Theodore Fonkle

p.s.  Many Creators certainly implies at least one.  Your objection is bizarre. But of course, you will never have to defend it.  You will never have the balls…


JERSEY FLIGHT:


Let my final word stand as proof of your incompetence, which serves to justify my derision. To call a man, that is not an idiot, an idiot, is to make use of a fallacy, but I have used this word in context! If the shoe fits the word applies:

"Many Creators certainly implies one." But one does not imply many--- insufferable blockhead! I am happiest when idiots like you simply leave me alone.

Confidently yours,
Jersey Flight