The Impossible World of Randy Everist

I stumbled across Randy Everist’s blog “Possible Worlds” when I was looking for a link to the Craig/ Carroll debate for my last post. Everist is an oddity. He has an amusingly delusional idea of his own abilities. He says that he hopes “to earn a PhD one day”. His blog comes complete with a “Donate” link to PayPal for those wishing to “support Possible Worlds”.

Having checked out his take on the Carroll’s debate with Craig (no prizes for guessing which he declared the victor) I decided to look at his more recent posts. His latest post was the last of a series in which he has responded to an article entitled “Ten Reasons Why Christianity Does Not Make Sense“.

Everist clearly saw this article as being somewhat beneath his usual highbrow targets, but as he smugly declares at the end: every once in a while I like to tackle the popular-level objections, to see what kind of poor thinking substitutes for intellectual discourse

So having turned his attention to this low- hanging fruit, how did Everist fare? Abysmally. Rarely have I seen such a car-crash masquerading as philosophy.

Everist’s comments policy, which is published on his site, includes the following:
Agree or disagree as strongly as you’d like, just be somewhat polite. Comments which are abusive or function as thinly-veiled insults without any substance will be deleted.

That seems fair enough.

Here is what followed. (As Everist’s blog is extremely user unfriendly, I cut out his words and only posted my responses. I will try to add the relevant parts here so that the whole thing reads more easily. I have put extracts from his OP in bold.)

Your response to the article is unsatisfactory.

9. Terrible things happen to good people.
First, this article assumes that omnipotence means something like “controlling the minutiae” of our lives, where “control” is undefined. That seems obviously false. If God creates creatures that he endows with free will, it’s just a matter of logic that you cannot force someone to freely do something. You can force them, or they can do it freely, but not both. Humans have used that will to choose very poorly.
It also assumes that this physical life is either all there is, or is most important, or else there’s no good reason for allowing the things that God allows. As to the first and second, Christianity stipulates otherwise—and if this is supposed to be a critique of Christianity’s coherence, this objection is just irrelevant. As to the third, there’s just no way for the objector to know that God has no such good reason, and indeed we can plausibly think he does have such a good reason

Nobody said anything about free will or force. Intervention does not compromise free will. This is a straw man.

You are begging the question of whether, if there were more to life than this earthly existence, that would provide an answer to the problem of evil. It is you, rather than the atheist, who is making the assumption. In all probability your argument against the first and second will boil down to your argument against the third, but it shouldn’t be left to your reader to have to speculate as to how you join the dots.

On your third point, I have dealt with this type of response to the problem of evil here:

10. It’s all just way too convenient.
It’s difficult to know precisely what the objection is. At first blush, it looks like they’re saying Christianity is unfalsifiable. But that’s not quite correct: if God does not exist, or the Resurrection did not happen, for example, Christianity is falsified. So maybe the objection is that Christianity seems to have an answer for everything, and maybe that means the Christian is not being objective. It’s true that it could mean that; it’s also empirically equivalent with Christianity, you know, actually having the answers!

If God does not exist or the resurrection did not take place then Christianity is false. But that is not the same as saying that Christianity has been falsified or that it is falsifiable. If I say that exactly 100 years ago, in the road outside my house, a little girl saw a sparrow and threw it a crust of bread, that statement is in all probability false (I just made it up). But it is also unfalsifiable. Falsifiability refers to the possibility of of an assertion being disproved. Where evidence, whichever way it goes, is always said to support x, then x’s supporters are making their claim unfalsifiable. I think your atheist blogger shows very well how this applies to Christianity. Everyone prays for Fred and Fred gets better. Hooray! It’s another miracle. Everyone prays for Fred and Fred dies. Ah, His ways are not our ways. There “must have” been some plan, hidden from us mere mortals, which Fred’s death achieved.
It’s no good saying that God’s non-existence or there being no resurrection would falsify Christianity unless you have an idea of what evidence would accept disproves God’s existence or the resurrection.

Everist’s response:
Thanks for your reply! I’m not too concerned with whether or not you think the critique is satisfactory, but thanks for sharing that autobiographical fact! 🙂 Begging the question occurs when one assumes what one is trying to prove. Remember, the article is supposed to be testing the coherence of Christianity.

I also said, “omnipotence means something like “controlling the minutiae” of our lives, where “control” is undefined.” That’s a key term. Now you raise a *different* issue, one not explicitly raised nor implied in the original article, which it seems you have not read.

Intervention as a subversion of natural (physical) law under normal circumstances would plausibly stunt moral growth, and it’s up to you to show otherwise. I don’t see any reason to think Christianity stipulates otherwise, and the argument depends on Christianity’s *not* doing so. I’m going to rest comfortably in ignoring your spam.

I know what falsifiability is, but it’s falsifiability *in principle* that makes any kind of difference here. If God’s existence cannot even in principle be denied, that wouldn’t be my fault. But further, I think it can, provided a sufficient argument were to be placed for it. That those who attempt it fail is again no fault of the epistemic principle employed.

If you read the article and were convinced, then I pity you.

My reply:
I am not too concerned with whether you pity me or not, but thank you for sharing that autobiographical fact.

I know what begging the question means. You were trying to show that the argument from evil was flawed. You said that it was flawed because it assumed that there was no after- life. If the possibility of an after-life does indeed cause the argument from evil to unravel, then you need to demonstrate why it does that. Simply stating that it does, without showing a line of reasoning to support your conclusion is begging the question.

The quote you gave from the original article did not support the definition which you claimed was being used. Straw man 1.

You then went on talk about free will, which was not referred to in the quote from the original article. In fact the whole of your attempted rebuttal turned on the concept of free will. But there was nothing in the quote you gave which suggested anything inimical to free will. Straw man 2.

In your response to me just now, you have repeated a section of you OP which contains several terms and followed this with the words “That’s a key term.” Which is a key term?

Your statements of how Christianity might be falsified were at best a non sequitur. God’s non-existence or the non-occurrence of the resurrection could not have any direct bearing on falsifiability. When a statement is falsifiable in principle (but not in practice) it means that we have a clear idea of what evidence would disprove it, even if there is no no way we can in fact disprove it. A classic example is “It will rain here in exactly 1 billion years time.” We can’t get the evidence to disprove that, but we know exactly what it would be like. If you really think that Christianity is falsifiable in principle, then give us an example of what evidence would be capable of proving it false.

It was reasonable of me to assume that your post could be read as a stand-alone. On your own account, the original article was not some scholarly work of great complexity which defied easy summarising of its arguments. If the quotes you took from the original article were not sufficient to support your attempts to debunk it, then you should have chosen different quotes.

This was not published, Everist’s reply ( published in the absence of the comment to which it referred) was:
Sorry, Frances, substantive posts only, please. Have a great day!

And now all have been removed from the site – my original comment, Everist’s response and his last refusal to publish my reply. With Orwellian ruthlessness, the entire exchange has been expunged.

Now, Everist does also say on his Comment Policy section: I reserve the right to delete comments or close comments on a post for any reason, regardless of whether or not they conform to (1-7) above.

I can’t argue with his right to do as pleases on his own blog. But the fact you’ve got a right to do something doesn’t mean that you’re not a dick for doing it.

Post script

After posting this (and linking to the “10 Reasons” site) I could not resist posting back to Everist as follows:
Randy, lol. You know and I know that it was not a lack of substance which caused you to refuse to post (& now delete the whole exchange). You were frit, boy, as they say in Yorkshire. Notwithstanding your claim to the contrary in the comment policy, you can’t take criticism.
I’ve published the whole exchange (via a link) on the comments section of the original article.
You have a good day too. But take a tip from me. Give up on the philosophy. You don’t know what you’re doing and posts like your last one just expose your pitiful lack of ability to the world.
It was a shame that the sycophantic iceknight didn’t notice the one thing on your blog which *was* genuinely amusing: “I hope to earn a PhD one day”. LMFAO

Of course,I knew he wouldn’t let that appear on his site and he didn’t. But he did post a response (which I suppose his readers who had not seen the original exchange before it was “disappeared” must have found tantalisingly enigmatic):
Frances, if you’re seeing this: I’m just not interested in debating or arguing for its own sake–I’ve done a fair amount of it on this blog. I am interested in the following: if you need help, or if you have specific questions the answers to which, were you to gain them, would allow you to become a Christian (to clarify: that you want to become a Christian but simply need some answers), I’d be happy to talk to you. Other than that, at present I’m just not interested.

Randy, if you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen. But don’t try to pretend you never were in the kitchen. “What me? Kitchen? Some mistake, surely. I’ve never been in any kitchen…..”

That heat? It might just be your pants on fire……

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