Monday, October 20, 2008

Does God Exist? Friel-Barker Debate Analysis - Barker Rebuttal

Barker began the rebuttal series, asking why humans should humble ourselves before God. After all, God might have something to learn from us, much as parents learn from their children. This is, in my view, an unfruitful argument, as it would be impossible for a believer in omniscience to admit that it has *anything* to learn, let alone from sinful humans.

Barker noted that Friel argued from the Bible, but Barker declared that the Bible is contradictory, filled with errors and mistakes of science, and contains bad moral advice. He illustrated the two different orders of Creation in Genesis chapters one and two.  He mentioned Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus to illuminate the poor provenance of the modern Christian Bible, highlighting the gross errors and additions made to early manuscripts.

Barker could have done more with this argument, however. He could have asked rhetorically if the Bible ceased to exist, would God then cease to exist? The Christian church survived two to three hundred years without a formal New Testament, proving that faith in God is possible without relying on the Bible as a source.

Barker admitted that we know that microphones are designed, but he correctly stated that intelligence is not the only way to design something. Furthermore, if the universe appears designed, then God's mind must also be designed. The designer needs a designer, yielding infinite regress. Naturalists, however, argue that we should stop with what we know--the universe, and not introduce more complex parts unnecessarily.

All arguments for God, Barker states, boil down to God in the Gaps. For most of human history, if we didn't know how something worked, God was responsible. Believers point to science's lack of understanding as proof that God exists, when in reality, science has learned more and more, closing more and more gaps, leaving God with less and less to do. Isaac Newton felt that the order of the solar system must have had a divine origin, whereas modern science has proved Newton wrong.  

Barker also briefly explained that Friel's illustration of the human eye was a bad example of intelligent design. The human eye has a blind spot where other organisms do not. Either God likes those other organisms--like squid and octopi--better than us, or God is a clumsy designer. The human body, asserted Barker, appears to have been put together by natural selection, one long series of "good enoughs" after another.


Prev: Dan Barker's Opening Statements

Next: Friel Rebuttal


Rhology said...


If you get a chance, I'd be really interested in your answering the questions Friel asked in the Cross-X that started with "Which evolved first, the...?"

I always thought those questions were wonderfully cheeky. Barker obviously didn't have a clue, but of course that doesn't necessarily mean much.


Tommy Holland said...

Thanks, Rhology. Yes, I intend to analyze the entire debate. However, due to time constraints, the workup is taking longer than I anticipated.

However, the Q&A is by far my favorite portion of the debate, and by favorite, I mean providing the most material to talk about. So I will definitely be examining Friel's questions thoroughly.