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Thank you, JD, for your closing comments and this very productive written debate.

While I will obviously think I have 'won' and you have lost, it is up to the audience, perhaps, to decide who won. JD took most of his time in his closing statements to address my last rebuttal, so I'll go the extra mile and use most of mine to address his last rebuttal and his closing statement. Additionally, I'll make some closing general remarks. I'll get the proverbial last word in, I suppose. This debate was about the existence of the Christian god. Unfortunately, other issues were brought up by JD at many times that were outside the scope of this debate. While I might be happy, for instance, to talk about the possible pain that vegetables might feel, how I arrive at certain moral judgments, why animal suffering is a big problem moreso than the alleged suffering of vegetables, why persons believe natural disasters are bad even if they are materialists, methodological naturalism, whether persons should be expected to move out of flood plains to avoid natural disasters, and whether materialism can be coherent with morality, this simply was not the debate for that this debate was about whether the Christian god exists. Three of my arguments involved what is known as the evidential problem of natural evil something very well understood by laypersons and academics. Surprisingly, JD spent most of his time during this debate to question what I meant when I used 'natural evil' despite me using terms like 'unneeded egregious suffering' and pointing to specific examples such as earthquakes, malaria, AIDS, and tsunamis that are responsible for killing people. I need not 'buy into' the terms of 'evil' and 'good' to run this argument, of course. JD should realize this and answer the objections rather than floundering with definitions when I have stipulated examples. The Christian god, I contested, is not compatible with the existence of such things; an omni-good god does not make sense in the light of egregious unneeded suffering. I argued that JD's appeal to a 'fallen world' and 'Satan' are not successful defenses. The earth, a song from Theater of Tragedy titled And When He Falleth says, beareth no balm for our mistakes. In addition to this, it would be preposterous to state that natural disasters are only a recent phenomena. JD said that humans bear some responsibility and noted that no one is placing guns up to persons heads they can move away from flood plains, for example. This defense doesn't work either; we see the fallacious reasoning when it is used to defend an omni-evil god. We also understand that all people simply can't move away from certain areas and the earth is not big enough. Regardless, my main point is that a world with natural disasters is not compatible with an omni-good god. JD also raised some points about how 'strict materialists should simply shrug' and questions why 'strict materialists' should care. Let's assume that they don't and I don't. The problem of evil is not my problem, but rather a problem for theists. This debate is not about morality or whether materialists should care about persons dying. JD also talked about how animal suffering is not a huge deal and proposes that vegetables can feel pain. He thinks I am valuing animals over vegetables and should, perhaps either not or otherwise 'stand up for the vegetables.' This does not answer my objections and is a bigger problem for JD if vegetables can feel pain. Throughout the entire discussion, we heard almost nothing regarding my inductive argument for naturalism besides the defense of 'Christians don't appeal to the supernatural' except for in terms of origin of life/universe. This simply isn't true as I noted because Christians make all sorts of supernatural claims and even ask for literal interventions of God. I recall, for example, saying 'prayers by the faithful' at my former church by asking God to supernaturally intervene to stop wars. Personally

literally believe this stuff in addition to making claims about transubstantiation and so much more. JD even recently linked a post on his blog about persons who believed that the failure of a church to be a conflagration was a miracle from God. Regardless, all of this doesn't answer my objection; we are very inductively justified in rejecting supernatural explanations. We also heard almost nothing about my argument regarding the implications of natural good argument. JD attempted to explain away 'evil' by human error and tried to shift responsibility away from God. We can similar defenses, as I noted, to defend an all-evil God...and everyone sees these defenses as irrational, so why are JD's explanations rational while the others, 'mirrored,' are profoundly irrational. In my rebuttals, I offered various other reasons for why JD's arguments failed...and he didn't take time to address my rebuttals, but rather strawmanned my position, raised irrelevant points, and even brought up new points on many occasions. His arguments relating fine-tuning, the origin of life, and miracles fail to demonstrate a Christian god and that was what this debate was about. Even if there were a creator of the universe and Jesus did raise from the dead, this doesn't demonstrate that the Christian god exists. Perhaps the creator was a time traveler, a council of gods, various quasi-deities, etc. Perhaps Jesus was not the Christian god and God didn't raise Jesus from the dead. Perhaps Jesus had some sort of power like Claire Bennett from the ABC drama Heroes. Here, I'm not pulling a 'skeptical card' of sorts, but rather am saying that there are many other explanations besides the Christian god and the standards arguments do not lead to a specific conclusion. Do I think Jesus may have had superpowers? Of course not...but it is up to JD to show that his arguments lead to belief in the Christian god instead of simply following the rudimentary structure of I can't explain this, therefore god. JD raised some interesting points in his second rebuttal. He didn't answer some of my objections, but rather says that William Lane Craig believes that his arguments are apparently they must be and we are justified in believing what Craig has to say. If JD finds this reasoning valid, I suppose I can similarly point to atheistic philosophers who think their arguments are good...and even Christian philosophers who think Craig's arguments fail mainly Swinburne. JD says A skeptic can always find something to be skeptical about and attacks my objection to the fine-tuning argument namely that we don't know how big the universe is and it is very big by saying that this is mmere 'theoretical scenario.' JD misses my point here. I am arguing that his argument is based on a misunderstanding of probability and life ought to be inevitable; the chances of life arising somewhere are very probable. I need not appeal to what cosmologists are saying because this assumption is quite uncontroversial. JD says 'there is no evidence abiogenesis' occurred. Even if this is the case, this doesn't mean the Christian god exists; it simply does not follow. JD then brings up several points about how humans are flawed, 'scientific evidence can be planted anywhere,' and the credibility of eyewitness testimony in courts [even though it is not credible in courts and not considered to be a high form of evidence], asks why 'methodological naturalism is a far superior arbiter of truth,' etc. This really has nothing to do with my inductive argument for naturalism. I need not even invoke science to make this argument and did not do so. Attack science...and this doesn't have anything to do with my argument. JD says that Jesus' resurrection accounts are plausible/we can say 'the Christian god did it' because this was part of the Biblical narrative and Jesus (presumably) said that he predicted such events. As I mentioned, the Bible was written by believers for believers. Additionally, it's very easy to have a 'self-

fulfilling prophecy' and 'create a narrative' simply by looking to what the Old Testament says. Answering my objection regarding how JD's miracle explanations are arguments from ignorance, JD tries to shift the burden of proof by asking me to explain how these events happened if they weren't miracles. This is not my responsibility it is JD's responsibility to give us good reasons to believe miracles happened and that the Christian god was responsible. An empty tomb, women reporting, the rise of the early church, and devotion of apostles simply doesn't get us there. JD seems to be 'having it both ways' here as I said he is using historical information to reach a theological conclusion. One ought not mix these methodologies because historians have no access/way to make claims about God...and if they do, they are no longer doing history. For sake of argument, we can assume all the 'historical facts' are indeed historical facts and start to do theology. How, I have asked, can we arrive at the conclusion that the Christian god exists. I fail to see how. How can we go from 'I don't know' to 'God did it?' JD then answers why he doesn't accept the claims of Mormons, Muslims, etc and misses my point. These people believe they are right and JD believes he is right. All parties seemingly are using the same methodology. Heaven's Gate members, as I noted, showed great devotion (just like and perhaps even more than Jesus' apostles did) and we don't take their claims seriously this goes to show that devotion doesn't show truth value. JD says that suicide is stupid and counterproductive. Fine, but this doesn't answer my objection. I'm not 'lumping all religions' together like JD says, but rather am saying that similar methods are taking place from belief to belief and JD wouldn't accept the same defenses rephrased to defend other beliefs, so we shouldn't accept his or others...this is the main point when I talk about the omni-evil god. Many of these points brought up by JD can warrant entire blog posts that would obviously go well beyond the four-page limit in this debate. Of course, though, the debate format is limited and perhaps that is a good thing lest we not 'move on' to other issues. I contend that JD's arguments have failed to demonstrate anything in this debate. Additionally, my counter-arguments have endured JD's objections and have shown belief in the Christian god to be irrational. Instead of using all my time commenting on the arguments in the debate, I'd like to finish with some closing general remarks. *** I think that discussions like this one are extremely important. Of course 'not everyone is a debater' and not all people can have this conversations with other people face-to-face or simply do not like to. This, though, doesn't stop persons from listening to debates, reading books, reading blogs, and so much more. Let us not sit in a state of passivity; we should keep 'active' in the 'intellectual arena.' Unfortunately, it is often the case that many people don't have important discussions about some of the most important topics in life. Some believe that truth is relative from person to person, that it is morally wrong to challenge others' beliefs, and even that there is no ultimate truth to the matter of things, so we're justified in believing whatever we wish. All of this is complete nonsense. We should care about what is true and value discussions like this, have them more often, and have justification for our beliefs beyond 'that's just the way things are and have always been' or 'it's just faith.' Thinking, of course, can be quite difficult especially on difficult matters. It's far to easy to just 'turn a blind eye' and not reflect critically on our own beliefs. Some can't even stand to admit that they were

wrong in many cases or consider the possibility of even being wrong. Instead of looking at discussion and discarding our beliefs if they are not based in evidence, argument, or reason, we should view discussion as a pathway to arriving at truth and should recognize that being wrong marks progress. The standard arguments given for any gods are very problematic and, as I have noted, do not even lead to specific conclusions about specific gods; even if we accept the arguments, they don't lead to the Christian god exists. Most of us reject belief in other gods and some religious persons think other religions are quite silly...yet they use similar reasoning to arrive at conclusions to defend their own beliefs. Worse yet, religious belief very often isn't reached by considering the arguments, but rather arguments defend the belief after the fact. Who uses after-the-fact reasoning on other issues? Why should we? Instead of assuming God exists, as many do, and then coming up with reasons to defend this belief at any cost, we should arrive at belief because of good argument, reason, and evidence. Again, while this may be difficult, it is intellectually honest and a better way to arrive at truth. Let's not be intellectually lazy. Let's care about whether our beliefs are justified or not. I constantly hear theists saying members of the Westboro Church are 'crazy' and that 'they have it all wrong.' Just today, I heard a woman say Westboro is doing the devil's work. I notified this woman that Shirley Phelps-Roper believes she is doing the devil's work. She thinks Shirley is doing the devil's work and Shirley thinks she is. Both parties disagree and all sorts of religious believers do. In the very large sea of religions, how are we to tell which religious interpretations are right? Believers can't even agree! As an atheist, I think all of them are equally wrong and that there is no good reason to believe any sort of supernatural claims. Let's face it the arguments for the Christian god all fail and they fail profoundly. While individual apologists might happen to 'win debates' and argue well, when those who have a background in philosophy (or perhaps do not) can sit down and take apart these arguments by noting critical flaws that remain unaddressed. Beliefs inform actions, often greatly impact our quality of life, and can inform others' actions. We simply don't live in vaccums. While many might be quite happy to say, I don't care what you believe as long as it doesn't harm me, I believe this view can often be naive. I would like to see concern for truth and a more productive society consisting of people who care about truth. My concern is not so much with the academic theologians, but with those who have great power in society, are responsible for the laws which I have to adhere to or otherwise face penalty, and much more. Never mind the fact that everyone over the age of 18 can vote and base their voting on religious assumptions. While it certainly is the case that persons can compartmentalize and a sound morality may exist for many regardless of 'the God question,' there are who have a very flawed 'moral compass' precisely because they believe in certain religious claims. I have seen, firsthand, the harm of religious belief through my hate mail, my family members disowning me, former friends spreading false rumors about me, and so much more. I've even been the recipient of homophobic slurs from homophobes even though I'm straight...from so-called 'men in good standing with the Catholic church.' It is no secret why members of the Knights of Columbus, a profoundly anti-gay Catholic organization, would make such remarks. It is time for everyone, including atheists, to admit that religious debates do matter and that holding justified true beliefs is important for everyone. Would not the world be a much better place if everyone agreed with the following statements: I care whether or not my beliefs are true and would be willing to modify my beliefs permitted new evidence, argument, and reason became aware to me. I want to investigate important matters and want to read what others who disagree with me have to say.