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An Atheism vs. Christianity Debate (October, 1994)


Shandon Guthrie, (editor and participant) and Ken Hochstetter

Opening Remarks

On the cover of our nation's most popular news magazine, Time, the caption "Is God Dead?" appeared.(1) The great atheist of the last century, Friedrich Nietzsche, originally answered this question in the affirmative in his work Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Although we do not wish to investigate Nietzsche's definition of the matter here, the question of God's "death" in terms of God as an object of a gradually disappearing discussion is certainly not indicative of today. Christians and atheists have been battling each other ideologically in order to justify their respective claims. Presentations in the form of arguments have been bolstered and brutally enunciated in an exhausting attempt to vindicate certain philosophical camps. In the spirit of Christian and atheistic philosophy, I have furthered such historical discussions on a previous radio broadcast. In this work, I have personally taken the initiative to transcribe a "mock debate" that took place between Ken Hochstetter and me. Ken, who was and is a Christian, role-played the position of an atheist to the best of his abilities. I, on the other hand, maintained my stature as a Christian in order to counter the best arguments he could muster.

Without committing the genetic fallacy of dismissing the strength of Ken's argument favoring atheism simply because he was a Christian, the reader needs to observe what is stated objectively. As a note, the arguments transcribed in this work are philosophical in nature. Those who are seeking rational, ideological observations on both theism and atheism will find this work of great value. The following debate featured Jamey Cannedy as moderator (a former co-host of mine on the Fall 1994 program Voices Live). This debate will not be transcribed in its entirety due to its length of approximately 120 minutes (2 hours)! Therefore, only the main argument and the initial responses will be printed here. For the debate in its entirety, request the March in Faith program, hosted by Douglas MacValley, titled "Atheism on Trial" broadcasted both live and in syndication during the Spring of 1995 in Las Vegas, Nevada on KKVV 1060AM.

The Debate

Jamey Cannedy (moderator): . . . First, we're going to have Shandon present Christianity for about 10 minutes . . . and then we'll turn it over to Ken and he'll have 10 minutes to give his presentation, or however long he needs. And after that we'll have some cross-examining between the two of them. At about 45: after we'll have the rebuttals begin . . . and I'd like to start with Shandon; it looks like about that time.

The Existence of God Answered in the Affirmative

Shandon Guthrie (Christian): The floor is mine. My name is Shandon Guthrie, I'm representing the Christian faith position; and the discussion we have tonight is a very important one. And what I want to do first of all is to define terms. Theism; what do I mean by theism? What I mean by theism is the God of Christianity, that is, 1) God is incorporeal; God does not have a body. He is not spatially located at some point in the universe; 2) God is unlimited in time; that is, God is not subject to the attributes that time has on such contingent beings as animals, people, planets, rocks, anything else in the universe that we now know; 3) God is unlimited in space. Nothing in the universe can contain Him according to the Christian Bible in Jeremiah chapter 23; 4) The Christian God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I do not accept the alternative world views of God, such as the God of Mormonism, the God of Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslim, or any of the other religions that I, in my own opinion, have deemed false. So, thus, I rest as theism the Christian God of the Bible.

Atheism. Well by atheism I mean, according to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the standard definition is "the absence of God", not the absence of belief in God nor the mere absence of belief. And thus there are two points of argumentation that must be given; 1) There must be negative evidence against theism. In other words, the theistic God must be attacked and removed as being irrational; 2) There must be positive evidence to support atheism. It's not good enough to simply reject the claims of Christianity because by asserting that there is not God, he makes a universal claim that he himself must prove. Thus, this brings me to the first argument in a series.

The form of the argument I am going to be using is deductively correct, and what I mean by that is that the conclusion that I give absolutely must follow from the premises that I deem. First of all, either the universe had a beginning or it did not. Second of all, either the beginning of the universe was caused or not caused. This is the foundation of what is called the kalam cosmological argument. Thirdly, what will be incorporated is what is called the argument from or to design. The argument from or to design is also called the teleological argument, and it too is a dilemma.(2) Either the cause of the universe was personal or it was impersonal. Thus this brings me to the first argument.

The universe had a beginning. Now when I think about the option that the universe did not have a beginning, I appeal to such books as William Lane Craig's book, The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe. Also, Craig offers some considerations in Apologetics: An Introduction (that was published in Chicago by Moody Press). He lays it out this way: He says that an actually infinite number of things cannot exist. Now, what do I mean by an actual infinite? An actual infinite is something that exists as a real property in the universe. I submit that an actual infinite does not exist, it is only something that exists in the mind and, thus, is rightly called a potential infinite. Let me give you an example of why an actual infinite cannot exist. Consider the absurd idea that an actual infinite amount of books in a library [is] equal to an infinite number of pages in one of those books in that library. Let me break it down again so that we get the whole scope. Again, suppose a library where each book has an infinite number of pages and there are an infinite number of books in this library. If I take one of those books, each book has an infinite number of pages. To say that the part of the library is equal to the whole is simply absurd. Second of all, consider traversing an actual infinite. If I were to think back an infinite number of past events, I would never arrive at a singular point; Thus, to reverse it we would never have arrived at today. Otherwise, the series of events would have been finite. So, I give as a conclusion to this argument that the universe does in fact have a beginning. And If you want to see Zeno's puzzle [which] inadvertently discussed the problem of an actual infinite, you can read that in "Achilles and the Tortoise" in the magazine Analysis [volume] 11, pages 91-101.

Secondly in this argument that the universe had a beginning, the second law of thermodynamics, in respect to entropy, proves that the universe must have had a beginning. Now what do I mean by entropy? To make it simple, entropy is when an object disperses energy that it does not recycle or re-use.(3) Consider a cup of coffee that is sitting on a table. If it is cool you can assess the fact that, first of all, it did have an origin and, second of all, that it had a particular origin; that is, it had a high central concentration of energy because the coffee cooled off. Likewise, our universe is cooling off. When we examine planets such as Pluto, Neptune, or even as close as Jupiter's moon Io, we learn that they are encased in ice; thus, the universe is getting colder. And so we can pinpoint the fact that the universe at one point did have a beginning. This brings me to the second premise.

The beginning of the universe was caused. "The beginning of the universe was caused" is true simply by appealing to the law of sufficient reason in the scientific method. In other words, when we observe all corporeal entities in the universe or contingent beings, each and everyone of them has a beginning. That is clear on an empirical level. Consider Big Bang cosmology, the skeptical assertion that the Big Bang theory actually occurred, when, that is, at the beginning of the universe there was an explosion and the planets plummeted or expanded outwards much like that of a balloon expanding. So, even the Big Bang suggests that there was an origin in time or a beginning point.

[The cause of the beginning of the universe was personal.] My second main argument which ties in to the cosmological argument proves that the cause of the beginning of the universe was personal. Consider Thomas McPherson's The Argument from Design (published in London by Macmillan press); he offers this: He says consider a bicycle that is built; you wouldn't simply look at it and say, "Oh! A freak of nature has formed it." You wouldn't think that the mere accumulation of particles and substances were sprang together to form a perfectly functioning vehicle; thus, when we turn to William Paley's famous "Watchmaker" argument, he asserts the same thing. If you're walking through a long path and you look down and see a watch, you would not assume that natural processes had formed the watch. You would immediately think, "an intelligent designer." So, what [are] my criteria for a design? Consider Richard Swinburne's "The Argument from Design" as well in the journal Philosophy volume 43. He gives essentially seven steps. First, order supposes design which the universe has. Second, purpose supposes design which the universe has. Third, simplicity supposes design which the universe has. Fourth, complexity supposes design which the universe has. Fifth, beauty supposes design which the universe has. Sixth, sense and cognition suppose design which the universe has. Seventh, information suggests design which the universe has. Thus, the cause of the beginning of the universe was personal. Consider human artifacts or machines that are built. Because they have purpose, they have simplicity and complexity and beauty, we may understand that these objects are in fact caused by a personal agent. Likewise, so does the universe; Therefore, a personal Creator exists.

My third main argument is commonly called the human predicament. G.W.F. Leibniz stated, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" He discusses from an atheistic world view that you presuppose that man randomly came about by time plus matter plus chance and, thus, there is no objective criterion, there is nothing that can be stated absolutely, you are some speck on this little dust , this infinitesimal dust, in the middle of an empty galaxy which is a brute given and offers absolutely no hope; but we as human beings understand intuitively that we do have a purpose in life, that we can contribute to society. Thus, I believe atheism is insufficient on this point.

And number four, God has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ verified by the empty tomb, the post-resurrection appearances and the witnesses, and the widespread faith of Christianity, and I'll get into this more as the debate continues.(4)

(moderator): Thank you, Shandon. That's pretty interesting. Now we're going to go to Ken and he's going to give us his opening presentation.

The Existence of God Answered in the Negative

Ken Hochstetter ("atheist"): OK, thank you. The argument that I'll be representing is called the atheistic teleological argument. It is an inductive argument as opposed to Shandon's deductive argument and what I mean by inductive argument is that the conclusion of my argument follows with some degree of probability from the propositions that are supposed to support the conclusion. I also want to clarify one more thing before I get into my argument and, that is, theism is not just the Christian belief in God but theism actually means belief in one God or belief in a god. Polytheism - the belief in many gods. Pantheism - the belief that all is God. And of course atheism - the belief that there is no God. So, once again my argument is an inductive argument so that my conclusion will be based on some degree of probability based on the evidence that I will provide. So, in the following argument I will argue that the empirical evidence renders improbable the idea of an existing God and that disbelief in the theistic God is indeed justified. This, then, is an inductive argument based on probability.

The general form of the argument is the following (now I understand that this form may be difficult to comprehend at first but as I give the illustration hopefully it will become more clear of what I'm arguing): So, OK, based on our experience, created entities of the kind k that have been examined are usually or are mostly created by a being with property p. The universe is a created entity (this I will assume for the sake of the argument). If the universe is a created entity, [then] it is of kind k. The universe was created by a being with property p. If the theistic God exists, then the universe was not created by a being with property p. Therefore, the theistic God does not exist. So, the first part of the form of this argument takes the inductive form, that is, the first evidences are what [are] called premises [which present for us the] predictive inference. [The predictive inference is] that based on our experience we can predict certain things about other entities of the same kind. The second part of my argument takes the deductive form called the modus tollens. Next I will argue, or plug in different properties for the p mentioned earlier and show that the theistic God does not exist

OK, based on our experience, all created entities of the kind we have so far examined are created by one or more beings with bodies. That is, when we look at a book shelf, when we look at a library, a school, we understand that some being with a body created that entity, that place. Well, the theists believe that God is a disembodied person and he created the universe from nothing. In the following argument, I will conclude that it is improbable that a disembodied being created the universe and, thus, God does not exist. OK, so based on our experience [in] all that we have examined so far, [everything] has been created by a being with a body. The universe is a created entity, we'll assume. If the universe is a created entity, then it is of the same kind as the created entities we have so far examined. Thus, or probably, the universe was created by one or more beings with a body based on our experience. If the theistic God exists, then the universe was not created by a being with a body. Therefore, the theistic God does not exist.

I've anticipated a couple of objections that may arise from Shandon. One is that the argument begs the question; and what I mean by "begs the question" is that I have assumed in one of my evidences or one of my premises the very thing that I'm trying to conclude in my conclusion. Well, where I could possibly be accused of begging the question is when I assume that the universe was created by a being with a body and that's the very thing that I'm trying to conclude. However, I have not assumed that because my premises merely say, based on what we have examined so far, everything that has been created has been created by a being with a body; Therefore, the universe is probably the same, I have not assumed anything. Secondly, Shandon might argue that 2a(5) is dubious, that is, when you say that the universe is of the same kind as we have so far examined, that is not really clear that it is. For instance, the universe is far more complex and far more vast; however, what does vastness or complexity have to do with anything? When we look at more complex things, we don't assume that a disembodied person created that thing. [Thirdly], one could argue that my sample is too small, I haven't analyzed nearly enough entities in the universe to say that the whole universe was created by a person with a body. However, my sample is not too small. We have examined millions or even billions of objects that have been created and, so far, all of them have been created by beings with bodies. Therefore, the universe was also created from a being with a body and my sample is not too small.

My second argument is that, based on our experiments, or in nature we observe that there are errors or mistakes. This also seems to be true of the universe. Well, we have examined that when we see a created entity with an error or mistake, that a fallible being created that and by fallible I mean "a being that is not perfect." Theists believe in a God that is infallible. So I conclude that the theistic God does not exist. Here's my argument: Based on our experience, most seeming errors or mistakes in the kinds of created entities we have so far examined are the result of the fallibility of one or more creators of the entities. For instance, we see a car. The car drives down the street, blows a tire--it's the fallibility of the creator. Or when the engine parts goes wrong in that car, it's the fallibility of the creator. If an infallible creator created that car, it would have been created so it would never have made a mistake. The universe, I will assume, is a created entity. Well, if the universe is a created entity, then it is of the same kind we have so far examined with seeming errors or mistakes. In other words, we look around us [and we see that] the seeming errors or mistakes in the universe are the result of the actions of a fallible being or beings. When we look at the universe, we see mutations in a species and that mutation leads to a being that is different from the being it came from; therefore, it leads to evolution. If the theistic God exists, then the seeming errors or mistakes in the universe are the result of a being who is infallible. Therefore, God does not exist.

Now the same objections might arise, that I'm begging the question or that the universe is far too vast, but the same answers can be given in response.

My third argument is from preexisting material. That is, all we have examined up to this point has been created from preexisting material. This would seem to include the universe whether small, large, or complex. We look around us we see a book shelf and we assume, well, OK, that book shelf was made out of wood or made out of metal. We look at a car. We say that car was made out of rubber, that is, the tires. That car was made out of leather, the seats, and we assume that something that already existed was transformed in order to create this new thing. Well, the God of the theists created from nothing; therefore, God does not exist. Here's my argument: Based on our experience, all created entities of the kind we have so far examined are created from preexisting material. The universe is a created entity, again we're assuming. If the universe is a created entity, then it is of the same kind as some of the created entities we have so far examined, probably. The universe was created from preexisting material. If the theistic God exists, then the universe was not created from preexisting material. Therefore, God does not exist. That concludes my argument.(6)

(moderator): Thank you, Ken. Sounds like a pretty good opening for a good debate, a lot of meaty stuff in there they can "hash out."

[At this point both Shandon and Ken cross-examine each other by asking questions designed to clarify the respective positions. This question-asking resulted in a more accurate understanding of each other's position and proved to be valuable in the rebuttals.]

The Rebuttals

(moderator): . . . I would like to thank both of you now. That was pretty good stuff. We're going to go to Ken with his rebuttal and really get into the debate now. Ken, I turn it over to you.

An Atheist's Rebuttal

Ken Hochstetter: OK. The first thing I want to address is that the universe needed a beginning. This goes back to the question I was just asking about God and time. If the universe needed a beginning because it could not go back into infinity, would not God also need a beginning because He cannot go back into infinity? Would not the same argument apply towards a God? You know, if we say that, well, we can not traverse an actual infinite number of days to arrive at today, it would seem that if God has always existed that He would have had to traverse an actual infinite and the same argument would apply to God; therefore, God needs a beginning and that God would need a beginning and that God would need a beginning on into infinity; there's no God.

And secondly, as far as the cause goes, why assume a cause? Why not just assume that chemicals always existed and that they were moving around but then they came together as a certain point in time in [the] Big Bang and here we have the universe? Why assume that we need a personal cause? Also, supposing the universe did come into being at some particular time t, why assume it needed a creator? Why not just assume it came out of nothing? You stated in your argument that from nothing, nothing comes and that we know of nothing that came into existence that didn't have a cause. Well, just to state that doesn't prove anything. We see atoms, I believe if I have the theory correct, coming into existence all the time from nothing.(7) Why not the universe come from nothing? Once again, I don't believe the universe had a beginning in such a way. Why postulate a God?

Next, why assume, if indeed this argument does hold that the universe needed a beginning, and that beginning needed a cause; why assume the Christian God? Why not assume Deism, that is, the view that some Being created the universe and then "stepped out" and is letting the universe wind down? Why not pantheism? Why not have the whole universe be God and be intelligent? Or, why not polytheism? Why not have a number of gods, each of which are eternal, create here create there and do different parts, of course that are fallible? Why assume an infallible, incorporeal, personal God of Christianity? And that's it.

(moderator): OK. Thank you, Ken. And now we're going to go to Shandon--it looks like that we have a phone call. Would you like to go to the phone call before your rebuttal or-

Shandon Guthrie: Let me go ahead and make my concluding remark and then we can.

(moderator): OK. He's going to have about seven minutes to have his rebuttal and then we'll take a phone call, but thanks for calling in.

A Christian's Rebuttal

Shandon Guthrie: First of all, we have yet to see any response to some of the arguments that I did present. For example, the resurrection of Jesus in that God has invaded planet earth. We have seen some secondary attacks of the teleological argument that he gave and, of course, the problem of an actual infinite. Second of all, I mentioned at my introduction that he must not only refute theism, but, as I mentioned in my opening statement, he must prove atheism as it claims: "There is no God." He hasn't done that. He has only attacked my view of God.(8) And even if all my evidence is inconclusive, it does not automatically follow that atheism is correct. He must establish a positive reason why his arguments are better.

Ken presented an argument that said something along the lines of [this]:

His first premise: Based on experience, all things have been created by a corporeal being.

The second premise: The universe was created.

And a sub-premise to that: If it was created, then it is of the same kind as other examined things.

And as the final, excuse me, the third premise: Based on the aforementioned premises, the universe was created by a corporeal being based on predictive inference.

Premise four: If God exists, then the universe was not created by a being with a body.

Therefore, God does not exist.

Now, he may have mentioned that there was possibly an objection to this argument that is begging the question. But in his response to that he merely begged the question again and simply assumed what in fact needed to be proven.(9) My argument was not over the nature of God in my teleological assessment but over the ontological status of a Creator: Is such a status that of existence? And so I restate: The first problem with this is that it begs the question by assuming what must be proven in the conclusion. And he also says that it is based on what we know so far. So that doesn't allow for anything that could happen. I mean, perhaps tomorrow something comes into existence that was created by an incorporeal being. Something can be logically possible and if such a future course of events could obtain rendering false the idea that corporeality and God are somehow incompatible, then Ken's argument fails. He must show why corporeality and God are necessary. He doesn't consider that.(10)

My second objection; it also begs the question by asserting that it is automatically impossible for a supernatural event to occur. He presupposes the truth of atheism that a miracle cannot occur and then uses that as the springboard to prove his position. Thirdly, the predictive inference in premise three does not apply to the universe since it is a one-time, unique occurrence.(11) Thus, there are no other things we can appeal to that we can consider on the same par. Fourth; alleged paranormal experiences have demonstrated in theory that objects can move and be arranged by disembodied spirits. Thus, it is not meaningless or logically impossible. So, such a real world could exist as Ken mentioned in my question[ing]. He said that it is possible for theoretical entities to exist.(12)

Also he said something on the lines of what I called anti-teleology. He said that

all effects resemble their causes (I'm paraphrasing).

God caused the universe.

The universe is fallible.

Therefore, God is fallible.

Well, first off, some effects in the universe are perfect. Therefore, God is perfect. Now rocks are perfect rocks. There's really no one set pattern about how rocks are supposed to look. Rocks themselves are perfect.(13) Therefore, a perfect Being created them. And under that, universals and abstract entities are perfect (i.e. the number "5" will not fail to appear in a country when someone attempts to calculate it in an equation). Well, if abstracts and universals are perfect, then, therefore, a perfect God exists.(14) Second objection; the existence of fallibility necessitates the perfect "pattern" or origin. You can't have counterfeit money without an original. So, his very argument asserts the position I'm here debating! Objection number three; every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So, I would present it this way (following that as my first premise): The universe is an equal and opposite reaction to God's creative force;

Premise three: the fallibility of the universe is an equal and opposite reaction to the infinite goodness;

Therefore, God is the action to which the universe is its reaction.

My final objection; the universe is not the offspring of God, but created. This again retorts back to the fact that Ken does not allow for supernaturalism. He presents us a false dilemma. He mentions that from nothing, nothing derives (that's true). Then he says that God created out of nothing or ex nihilo. Therefore, either God's creation is nothing or creation came from something thus presupposing an eternal universe. Well, the problem with this is that if fails to consider supernatural forces that are consistent with Christian theism. It begs the question to assume that God is limited to the natural world; however, the atheistic world view is limited and is subjected to the impossibility of an actual infinite. Just look at the universe.

And my final objection deals with theism. He said something about that theism does not necessarily refer to the God of Christianity. I put this forth: I said that the other gods are internally inconsistent and do not necessarily represent a real world view. I'm not here to argue fine points of doctrine. I am here to establish the existence of God and simply faulting me for asserting that other gods could exist does not answer any of my arguments.


1. Time, April 8, 1966.

2. The dilemma referred to here is an argument form sometimes schematized as follows:

Premise 1: Either X or Y.

Premise 2: ~X.

Conclusion: Therefore Y.

This deductively correct argument is conclusive if the premises are true. This makes for a valid claim given in the conclusion. However, it may be that the premises are false in more than one way. For example, it could be that not-x is false and that not-Y is really true. Or it may be that it is neither X nor Y but really Z.

3. Entropy has been defined in terms of energy loss in a closed system. It is also true that entropy occurs when an organism or system loses complexity during aging (or procession, whatever the case may be). The former is the definition exemplified here.

4. I was unable to develop this last point (and I will not create imbalance by adding it here) but it must be noted that the veracity of Christianity in the person of Jesus Christ is usually demonstrated in the historical accounts of His resurrection and influence on the early Church. If these events occurred, then there is good evidence to suggest that Jesus of Nazareth existed as God's special revelation to mankind. Therefore, God exists. But this is an undeveloped claim that time did not permit me to elaborate on at this point.

5. This is referring to the second premise (2) and its first part (a).

6. Ken has presented existing arguments by at least two proponents of atheism: Michael Martin and Wesley Salmon.

7. This is actually incorrect. What appears to "pop" into existence from nothing are the subatomic particles postulated in quantum physics/mechanics. It is at this micro-level that things such as photons of light appear from what is called a "quantum ghost," the underlying "nothingness" behind the phenomenon. See J.P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1987), pp. 38-39 for a more detailed analysis and refutation of this point.

8. Indeed, Ken simply used the teleological system against Shandon in order to show that it actually proves atheism. There is no indication that the atheistic teleological argument proves anything but errors in theistic presuppositions. However, atheist Michael Martin originally suggested that this argument was "positive atheism" (see Martin, Atheism: A Philosophical Justification).

9. Ken attempted to prove that the universe was created by a being with a body, something that has to be assumed before proven. If it is the case that the universe was created by a being without a body, then, at worst, there is an exception to the rule. Nothing else is being proven in his argument and there is explicit question-begging by assuming what is to be proven.

10. Ken's usage of probability is adapted from the Bayesian account of confirmation. Thomas Bayes, its originator, suggested that probability is based on expectance. The theory is usually expressed mathematically and its variables are assigned in order to determine a probability's likely outcome in the presence of the evidence. It looks like:

P(E/T) x P(T)
P(T/E) = ----------------

But the notion of "preexisting conditions" [P(T)] automatically excludes unique events from the probability factor. It may be one in six that in one roll of the die, the number three will obtain. But the conditions necessary already exist. What about the number seven? Could it be that if an evil genie exists and has a habit of changing numbers on dice from five to seven that the number seven could obtain? The prior probability (P) must be assessed in the presence of the background information before any analyses can be given. For more information, see J.P. Moreland, Christianity and the Nature of Science (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1989), pp. 89-92.

It is also important to note that there is a profound difference between verifying events in science and verifying events in history. The former contains some healthy barriers that are generally agreed upon by an academic consensus. Yet in history, whatever best explains the evidence, no matter how naturally improbable, must be the true event. It then becomes the task of the scientist and naturalist to adjust current theory regarding the historical event. When one attempts to use science to justify or deny a historical event, he or she confuses the interrelationship. This is the message I conveyed implicitly on this point.

11. Again, this shows why Bayes' Theorem is inadequate to substantiate prior probability (and this goes for any relative-frequency view of probability).

12. For background information, I had omitted the question-asking series of the debate since it was basically irrelevant to the essentials of the debate. During the question-asking sequence, Shandon had asked Ken if it is logically possible to imagine a real world where incorporeal beings manipulate corporeal or physical entities. Ken answered in the affirmative.

13. Rocks are considered, by definition, natural mineral deposits in crystallized form bearing no specific shape, size, or color. It seems that the only thing that exists in a mineral deposit that would consider it a rock would be the person who variably realizes that it is. It is one of the many objects that are defined based on universal presumptions about what an object is supposed to be and do. Especially in a rock, the very definition requires randomness and property variability; something that is perfect even when it's in its most chaotic state.

14. One need not be a neo-Platonist (as I'm not) in order to accept this sub-argument. As entities that exist only in the mind, they are unblemished in everyday applications. This is to say that even systems are perfect as self-defined methodologies.