First of all, I must apologise to Peter. I had assumed that when debating the proposition 'Do angels such as Gabriel , Michael and Satan exist?', Peter would produce evidence for the existence of Gabriel , Michael and Satan. Of course, as Peter points out, he does not have to do that. Still, I can't help wondering why Peter is sitting on his hands and not producing the evidence he has for the existence of Gabriel and Michael and Satan. I repeat my friendly invitation for him to do so. He does not have to, but why does he not want to do so? Unless his evidence is extremely weak, or non-existent?
Peter's sole evidence for such angels is that somebody has said so. Indeed, Peter appears to think that if somebody says something is true, then other people ought to accept it, if the idea happens to fit in with what they already believe. Peter makes a very revealing comment, when he writes 'Does this mean that a materialist should never be trusted when reporting experience of material objects?!' Naturally the answer is no, materialists should not be trusted.
This is what we see in science and indeed in everyday life. If a cashier gives us change in a bank, we ask to see the money being counted. We demand receipts, proof of postage, bank statements etc etc. If we demand evidence before accepting that material objects exist, and refuse to simply take the word of authority for it, why should we accept Peter's list of authorities about angels , no matter how often Peter declares that they are impressive?
Similarly, in science, the idea that materialists should be trusted when talking about material objects would be laughed it. If a scientist announces that he has discovered a new planet, ten more scientists will double-check his observations, eager to prove him wrong. If medical researchers declare that aspirin reduces heart attacks, other researchers will set up studies to check that.
Why should the normal checks in everyday life that we use without thinking suddenly be abandoned when it comes to talking about things nobody has seen , such as angels and demons?
I want to know how Peter knows that angels will not commit evil in the future? How does he know that? As a normal human being, I'm very wary of saying that I know the future, yet Peter claims he can tell which creatures will commit evil and which will not. How? Of course, Peter quotes as support other human beings who tell us they can also predict what will happen in the future, but few people will consider that impressive.
Peter also makes another revealing comment when he remarks 'I wonder what evidence Steven or the Lancet or would accept as evidencing a genuine case of demonic possession.' The implication is that we secularists reject the idea that mental illness can be caused by demon possession , no matter how impressive the evidence would appear to a person who had an open mind. The implication is that Peter refrains from producing his overwhelming evidence because it would be wasted on we narrow-minded secularists.
Of course, this is not the case at all. I would be quite happy to see and accept such evidence. I am not a doctor, but I am sure few doctors would look at the phenomena exhibited in a film like 'The Exorcist' (assuming such cases of demonic possession really happened), and declare it to be a temper-tantrum or growing pains. Naturally though, Peter has no convincing evidence to back up his theory that some mentally ill people are demon-possessed. He could have such evidence, if demon-possession was real. Evidence of the supernatural could be produced. After all, Stephen King makes a living out of persuading readers that his books are horror books,and deal with the supernatural. He expects his readers (many of them secularists) to find his fictional evidence of the supernatural to be genuine evidence, which would be persuasive if it ever happened in real life. Sadly for Peter though, only fiction writers can produce evidence of the supernatural.
I did not comment on Peter's argument from analogy, because I was just too astonished by it. The argument appears to be that if there are human beings, and there is a God, there must be something half-human and half-God, or something in between. This argument hardly needs refuting.
I enjoy seeing Peter try to cope with what William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga say about evil. These two fundamentalist Christian apologists have stated that it is possible that all creatures are partly evil. However, Christians such as Peter think that some creatures are wholly good. Peter sees no contradiction here. However, if I was a person who declared that it is possible all creatures are partly black and still declared that this is true,even after being shown a swan which was all white, other people might find my logic deficient.
Two simple questions for Peter - if there are creatures which are all good, is it possible that all creatures are partly evil? If there are creatures which are all white, is it possible that all creatures are partly black?
Similarly, Peter attempts to get round Dallas Willard's (one of Peter's impressive authorities) claim that God has not created beings with free will that always choose right , by producing a disctinction between humans and angels. Regardless of whether this is true or not, Willard made no such distinction whatever. He simply said God had created no beings with free will that always choose right. As angels are beings, Willard has stated, in effect, that God has created no angels with free will that always choose right.
Peter claims that angels are 'non-physical energy', and that this is not self-contradictory in the way that 'a square circle' is. However, energy is physical. At least, any energy that anybody has ever seen is physical, as Einstein showed. Peter has simply invented the concept of 'spiritual energy'. Unless he can produce evidence of this and show how this 'spiritual energy' can be turned into a thinking being, this 'spiritual energy' can go the way of phlogiston.
This debate is proving very instructive to me. It contrasts the world of religion where things are accepted on the say-so of other people and logic chopping is used to try to paper over obvious contradictions in beliefs, and the real, everyday world where people check things out and demand evidence before accepting things.
Peter Williams Opening Statement
Steven Carr's First Response Peter William's First Response
Peter William's Second Response
Peter William's Final Response
Comments to Steven Carr
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