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No cure for insomnia here

I’m not adjusted to Pacific time yet, so I woke up this morning at 3am, and figured the thing to do is watch some boring debate…and you may have heard that Sye Ten Bruggencate debated Matt Dillahunty last weekend. Just the thing! Bruggencate is a tedious kook, and it’s just the thing to put me to sleep.

But then it turns out that Bruggencate’s position is so far out there it jarred me constantly. He’s arguing that belief in god is reasonable, and here’s his reasoning:

Why is it reasonable to believe god exists? Because it is true that god exists.

I say it’s true that god exists, therefore it is true that god exists.

You can’t know what’s ultimately real without revelation from god.

This is called begging the question. His entire opening argument is snippets of video of Matt Dillahunty, quotemined bits that he falsely boils down to claim Dillahunty is a solipsist who can’t tell whether he’s a brain in a vat.

And then, darn it, Matt is a really good debater and drills right down to Bruggencate’s fallacious approach. I keep saying this, that debating is a very specific skill, scientists don’t do debate, and you need someone who knows both sides inside and out. It was very entertaining to watch Bruggencate publicly dissected. Too entertaining. How am I going to get back to sleep?

So I kept going, and Bruggencate is infuriatingly obtuse. Also not conducive to sleep.

So here you go, better than a quart of coffee.

Evidences presupposes truth, truth presupposes god.

Grrr. Idiocy. And ultimately he admits that he regards Scripture as Absolute Truth.

I’ve debated Jerry Bergman, and I thought that was a futile exercise with a fool. I would not be able to calmly argue with Bruggencate, so kudos to Matt.


Oh, and a suggestion for Matt. One of the questions in the Q&A was from a neuroscientist who questioned the value of philosophy, and asked for a specific example of a genuine contribution of philosophy to our understanding. Matt fumbled it a bit, though, but there’s a really easy answer to give to a scientist who asks that kind of dismissive question about philosophy.

Philosophy gave us science.

There’s more, obviously, but that one ought to silence any anti-philosophical scientism.

Comments

  1. Athywren says

    The thing I really find funny about Bruggencate, is that his argument only works if you accept that his worldview is true. According to his worldview, the atheist worldview, as if there was a shared atheist worldview, is untenable because you need his god in order to know anything, but outside of his worldview there’s no reason to assume that you need that god and he makes no effort to demonstrate that it’s true.
    I also like that his position is almost exactly as valid as claiming that there’s a magical chicken who lives in the centre of the sun who keeps it from going nova and allows us to know things through direct revelation – definitely not through books which can be twisted and mistranslated by those darned foxy humans! (I say almost exactly, because we know both that chickens exist, and that the sun hasn’t gone nova (“But how do you know that?” “AUGH!”) so she must be there to keep it from happening. Obviously, the sun’s continued existence proves it!)

    I’m not sure I can bring myself to watch two hours worth of this debate though… I always enjoy Dillahunty’s discussions, but could I survive his opponent’s inanity?
    Hmm… just so you know, I’m leaving a note on my desk in case my head explodes from exasperation – “PZ Myers’ fault.”

  2. gussnarp says

    The reason it’s so infuriating is that you’re dealing with someone who’s either:
    A.) Mentally deficient in some way so as to not grasp that what he’s saying is fallacious, or (and more likely):
    B.) Fundamentally dishonest.

    It’s just not a good faith argument. Bruggencate will never change his mind, will never concede, he’s not willing to play the game by the rules.

  3. ardip says

    Matt’s first rebuttal was written before the debate took place and predicted everything Sye had to say. It’s a good 10 minutes of your time on how to deal with the presupposition argument.

    His closing statement was mostly written beforehand as well and is also worthwhile.

    You can skip everything Sye says and all the questions. Sye gives no evidence whatsoever.

    Hopefully this closes the door on the presup movement. Very well done on Matt’s part.

  4. marko says

    Evidences presupposes truth, truth presupposes god.

    Witches burn, as does wood, therefore witches are made made of wood.
    Wood floats, as do ducks.
    Therefore: If a woman weighs the same as a duck, she is made of wood and it follows that she is a witch.

    Logic, delicious logic.

  5. Al Dente says

    The best description of Sye Ten Bruggencate I’ve ever come across was given by an otherwise ignorable poopyhead named ZP Meyers or somesuch. Meyers called Bruggencate a “slimy motherfucker.”

  6. says

    Yeah, that was my reply to Bruggencate when he demanded that I debate presuppositionalism with him on the Mall during the Reason Rally. I’m no debater; but I knew that Bruggencate was a fraud and a liar.

  7. gussnarp says

    I made it through Bruggencate’s opening statement, and Matt’s was just a delight. This goes on for two hours? I think I’m done now.

    @marko #6: Exactly!

  8. =8)-DX says

    @ardip #3 Yes! The following quote from Matt was priceless:

    As to whether or not we can know anything, the only demonstration I can give is that I wrote this rebuttal ahead of time.

    Matt Dillahunty 2014

    *slow clap*

  9. Athywren says

    How would we figure out if our reasoning is invalid? Skepticism.
    I’d suggest that you’re far more likely to discover that your reasoning has been invalid if you accept that it could be invalid than if you assert that you are incapable of error due to revelation.

  10. freddiesdead . says

    Good old circular Sye, he never fails to come across as a smug arsehole.

  11. David Marjanović says

    That’s what ten Bruggencate looks like? I had always imagined he was a smug 20-year-old.

  12. Sastra says

    I watched the first 35 minutes and may go on to watch the rest, but it’s very much as I suspected. Sye equates the existence of God with reason and reality and thus treats the atheist as a hard solipsist, and Matt explains the foundations of how we know what we know and refutes hard skepticism. And make no mistake — hard skepticism is the foundational nub of the presupps, going deeper even than God because it’s what they actually argue FOR under the claim that it’s the “atheist world view.” So TAG and its variations end up being a theistic game of “I know you are but what am I?”

    If you insist that your conclusion is not only your own premise but assumed and fully known by your opponent — and that your opponent is delusional and lying to themselves and others — then there is no need to convince or persuade. All you can do is repeat yourself again and again, as to a small child or person with brain damage, hoping that something will eventually get through.

    That’s why I call presupps the Neener Neener School of Debate. I’ve got revelation and you don’t — neener neener neener. Daddy gives me permission. He allows me to know things. He tells me what to do. And there goes all human achievement in the philosophical understanding of epistemology. It’s been replaced by the simple world view of a 3 year old blindly accepting authority and advanced by the sophistry of an adult spinning doctoring this infantile shallowness into an inescapable Necessity. The atheist is a rebellious teenager pretending they don’t hear Dad telling them to cut the lawn. Yell louder.

    That’s not a debate. But Matt gives it a good try anyway — which is a good thing, since this approach is getting more and more popular even among the evidentialists. And why wouldn’t it, given that this is exactly the entire point of religious faith? You get to exceed human limitations through a supernatural Other Way of Knowing which can’t be doubted. As a debate technique it has all the virtues of heft over honest toil. You start out by declaring yourself the winner.

    Bottom line, you do not get to borrow infallibility from God. Presuppositionalism qualifies as “arrogance on stilts.” They become gods and once again try to pass the blame for that onto the atheists. “I know you are but what am I?”

    What Sye and the Presuppers rap on about is the basic view that Like can only come from Like. Reality is Mind — all the way down. Nothing mental — such as logic, reason, experience, beliefs, knowledge, or conclusions — ever grows, evolves, derives, or changes. There’s no step-by-step process — not in reality OR in how they think about it. There’s just One Big Fat Knowledge existing for all time and for all places and we call that mental being “God.” WE are made in its image. Done.

    You can’t explain it because the whole big fat point is that it’s irreducible. Explanations reduce. They build from what is known to what is unknown. Assert God the way you’d assert objective truth itself and you’re done. You’re done before the “debate” begins.

    Easy peasy. Neener neener.

  13. doublereed says

    I’m sorry, but Bruggencate’s opening statement is basically letting Matt argue him into oblivion but then making it an argument about Solipsism. Which is super technical and obviously quote-mining Matt. (And I’ve heard Matt say that he finds Solipsism completely useless and therefore not useful to consider)

    It’s such a weird and silly argument from Bruggencate. That’s like the least convincing argument I’ve ever heard. I don’t even think a believer would buy that. Certainly if I was religious I’d be like “well that’s just stupid.”

  14. Akira MacKenzie says

    Bruggencate “argues…”

    “I say it’s true that god exists, therefore it is true that god exists.”

    …then has the temerity to accuse Dillahunty of being a “solipist?”

    (Urge to kill… rising…)

    I have enough headaches dealing with smug, ignorant theist cretins in the real world. I don’t have the patience or the temper to subject myself to a virtual asshole. I don’t want to have a stroke by the time I’m 40.

  15. cynewulf says

    I was struck by just how devoid of content Sye’s argument was. It can be summed up with: “I think God exists, therefore God exists. And because God exists, therefore I must be right that God exists.”
    It is utterly inane. Not only does it fall at the first logical hurdle, if somehow the logic *was* sound then the same argument could be used to justify *anything*.
    The rudeness, personal attacks, and implied claims of being both a prophet and a mind-reader, are just window-dressing around this central critical failing. Sye’s arguments were both painful and embarressing in equal measure. If Sye is the best that presuppositional apologetics has then it is a walking corpse, too stubborn to realise it has no place in the world.

  16. Sastra says

    doublereed #15 wrote:

    I don’t even think a believer would buy that. Certainly if I was religious I’d be like “well that’s just stupid.”

    Yes and no. When you get right down to it Bruggencate’s argument reduces to “when you feel God, you just know.” You can’t be wrong about that, if it really is God (and it was!) A lot of religious people — the majority of them I think — believe that very much. The core of faith is the irrefutable aspect of mystical inner awareness. God is knowable through personal experience.

    Presuppositionalism simply takes that claim of certainty regarding revelation and applies it to absolutely everything. And then they insist that this is what the atheist is doing too, while denying that they’re doing this.

    It’s Special Revelation all the way down.

  17. cynewulf says

    And Matt ironically has the patience of a saint. He somehow sat through all the personal attacks, faulty logic, quote-mining, and slander, without once raising his voice in anger. He’s like some kind of texan buddha, a philosopher in snakeskin boots.

  18. twas brillig (stevem) says

    yes, “quote mining”. I only watched the video during Bruggencate’s opening monologue, where he kept quoting Matt, using little video excerpts. No context provided, just simple one-line video clips of Matt saying what Bruggenshite just quoted him saying. The very definition of quote-mining. O_o
    I just turned it off, there. I hope Matt gave him a serious response to all of his nonsensical rambling faux-logic.
    ..
    [chuckling] I can’t understand why I keep reading “Sye Te” as “Senator”. [slapping forehead]

  19. Nentuaby says

    Philosophy gave us science.

    Eh, not wrong, but a weak argument. Too easy to reply “yes, but then the fields branched, and now by definition that which is called Philosophy is that which was unworthy of being called Science. It’s a rump field of the insupportable.”

    (Please don’t light into me personally. I’m promoting stronger arguments, not trashing philosophy.)

  20. Athywren says

    Oh, I love it when they bring out “you’re calling God a liar” in debates. No, Sye, no. I’m calling you a liar. At least when you claim that we all know that your god exists, the rest of the time I’m happy to say you’re just not very rational (or doing a very good job of hiding it if you are).

    It’s funny, I completely agree with Matt about not having heroes, but when he’s saying things like that he doesn’t make it easy to keep from heroificating him. But then, maybe the rejection of the idea of having heroes is a good reason to hold someone up as a hero? No… nah, guess not. I like his beard, though. I’ll hold his beard up as a hero instead.

  21. jrfdeux, mode d'emploi says

    I love watching Matt debate theocrats. He’s precise, clear and eloquent, and knows the Bible inside and fucking out.

  22. doublereed says

    @18 Sastra

    Really, because I think only a minority of believers have zero doubts at all. This seems like a fundamentalist argument. It seems to me that he’s implying that ANY doubt (not just full atheism) means that you are as ridiculous as a Solipsist. It’s nonsense. Any remotely liberal believer would call that out as bullshit.

    If he’s just saying “When you feel it, you just know,” then he’s doing a remarkably poor job of making that point. Besides, that doesn’t even sound like a debate point nor a christian point. It just sounds like woo-y new age bullshit.

  23. doublereed says

    I mean I’ve heard pretty serious Christians agree with the statement that “a person who claims to hear the voice of God isn’t to be trusted.” So the argument based purely on revelation doesn’t seem to make any sense. From what I’ve seen, that’s simply not the experience of most Christians and believers.

  24. Mobius says

    I don’t think I could take watching the full debate. That much Bruggencate would drive me nuts. But I did watch the Q&A. Hemant had a link on his blog.

    I would do very poorly debating Bruggencate. Because I would spend the whole time banging my head on the desk. I would likely make myself unconscious before he ended his first presentation.

  25. Gaius Baltar says

    Philosophy gave us science eh? And astrology gave us astronomy. And alchemy gave us chemistry.

    Philosophy is just as useless as astrology and alchemy, if not quite as harmful. All three of those gave us something, and with that, ended their usefulness.

  26. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    Philosophy is just as useless as astrology and alchemy, if not quite as harmful. All three of those gave us something, and with that, ended their usefulness.

    So – you have no use for ethics? And you think epistemology can be further developed within science using the scientific method?

    Or are you confusing philosophy for the philosophy of nature?

  27. says

    @27

    It’s not quite the same. Science needs philosophy type stuff to function on a daily basis. Reasoning and all of that. Your examples are of failed hypotheses that can be discarded, which are a very different situation.

    Admittedly, the philosophy I value may be a very minimal version compared to what the word usually implies, and is about as integrated into science itself as our bones are integrated into ourselves. I’d have to do much more exploring to see exactly what things that are called philosophy are good and which need to be discarded…

  28. jrfdeux, mode d'emploi says

    Gaius Baltar:

    What. A major component of philosophy is logic and critical thinking. How are these no longer useful?

  29. says

    I skipped Bruggencate and watched only Matts openning statement and rebuttal. Matt was briliant.

    The debate after that was unbearable, after a few non-sensical questions from Bruggencate I was forced to shut the debate off, my brain cells were threatening me with strike. Or is it stroke? Nevermind.

    I have read and heard enough apologist aruments to last for life and now I actually actively avoid them when possible. The did not get with anything new in last few (hunderd) years, so why bother, it is a waste of time. Rebuttals can be entertaining, though.

  30. Gaius Baltar says

    @28: Ethics are logically derived limits on hedonism. That makes ethics logic and critical thinking, not philosophy.

    @30: Logic and critical thinking are math, not philosophy.

    Back to @28: Yes I believe that epistemology can be developed within science using the scientific method. The scientific method is the only method of gaining any knowledge that’s actually meaningful. And the only meaningful field of study that does not yield information is math, not philosophy.

    @29: Science does not require philosophy anymore than astronomy requires astrology. Science does requires reasoning which is math, not philosophy.

    The fact is with math and science established as their own fields of study, all the meaningful parts have been castrated off philosophy.

    Philosophy is nothing but mental wanking. I’ve heard it called mental masturbation, but that’s unfair as masturbation actually serves a purpose.

    I already know if a tree falling in the forest makes a sound. It does. And I know that from science. I already know the sound of one hand clapping. I did an experiment and found out. Science.

    However I don’t think that empty minded navel gazing while asking yourself philosophical questions like “Why is a tuning fork?” is actually harmful.

  31. chigau (違う) says

    Gaius Baltar #32
    Philosophy is nothing but mental wanking. I’ve heard it called mental masturbation, but that’s unfair as masturbation actually serves a purpose.
    Deep.

  32. David Marjanović says

    Philosophy is nothing but mental wanking. I’ve heard it called mental masturbation, but that’s unfair as masturbation actually serves a purpose.

    “Masturbation” is what “wanking” means.

    I think you’re unclear about the meanings of several other words you use as well.

  33. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    Ethics are logically derived limits on hedonism. That makes ethics logic and critical thinking, not philosophy.

    Logic and critical thinking are math, not philosophy.

    That’s a rather novel definition of ethics. And quite possibly math.

    You’ve got any source for this? What are the axioms for mathematical ethics? How are they determined? And do you have any ideas why the fields of law, political science, social science and philosophy doesn’t embrace this?

    I already know if a tree falling in the forest makes a sound. It does.

    And you define the whooshing sound of the point going over your head as..?

  34. says

    @32
    Gaius Baltar

    That makes ethics logic and critical thinking, not philosophy.

    logic and critical thinking aren’t philosophy? o__o?

    and then… what IS philosophy?

  35. timberwoof says

    Dr. Richard Carrier presented a lecture, “Is Philosophy Stupid?” at Skepticon 6 which addresses many of the points being made here about the value of philosophy. I thought I had little use for philosophers until I saw the video of the lecture and thought about it more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLvWz9GQ3PQ

    Carrier defines philosophy, explains its six main functions, and proposes the concept of pseudo-philosophy, which pretty much covers a wide range of crap that Carrier says philosophers ought to be detecting and calling out. I suspect he will not make himself very popular with the pseudo-philosophers.

  36. thebookofdave says

    A single Bruggencate is a dreadful chore. Ten Bruggencate is Ten too many.

  37. says

    I’m trying to remember how the stereotype of “smug atheists” came to be? Bruggencate’s pretty high on the smug spectrum too.

  38. Nick Gotts says

    I already know if a tree falling in the forest makes a sound. It does. And I know that from science. I already know the sound of one hand clapping. I did an experiment and found out. Science. – Gaius Baltar

    If you are using those as examples of philosophy, all you are demonstrating is your abysmal ignorance and arrogance. Go talk to Sye ten Bruggencate – he’s about your level.

  39. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Marcus Ranum @40:

    I’m trying to remember how the stereotype of “smug atheists” came to be? Bruggencate’s pretty high on the smug spectrum too.

    Oh, no, no, no. Bruggencate is speaking Truth! and is humble before gods and therefore can never be smug. It is only atheists who think they know something who are smug. Those who know the Truth! are just god-fearing Christians doing their humble duty to their god in their own humble way.

  40. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    Thanks for the link timberwoof — interesting stuff!

  41. Gaius Baltar says

    @33: Yes, I know.

    @34: Masturbation and wanking have different connotations. I’m quite clear on the meaning of the words I use.

    @35: What’s novel about my definition? The fact that it works? Or the fact that it has no woo-woo?
    Since philosophy is unworkable, meaningless woo-woo I guess both reasons are why you think it’s novel.
    The law does embrace to a slight extent. Ever heard the phrase “Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my face begins”? That’s a logical derived limit on hedonism. The reason the law doesn’t embrace it completely is because most law is written by morons.
    As for political science, social science and philosophy, why would they use that approach? First of all why would you even include philosophy in that list? You know that I’m arguing against the use of philosophy. I don’t think it has any validity so I don’t see why it would take my approach (i.e. a valid approach) to ethics.
    The point is clearly going over your head

    @36: No, logic and critical thinking are math not philosophy. What is philosophy? Mental wanking.

    However I would like to retract one of my statements. I said that philosophy is harmless. That may be wrong because engaging in navel gazing could distract one from actually finding answers.

    Case in point: Philosophers waste their time wondering what consciousness is. Some of them even state that nobody knows what it is (which is demonstrably wrong).

    Now if someone applied observation (science) and reason (math) instead of philosophy, they would have figured out what consciousness is. As I have.

  42. CJO says

    As I have.

    Well, well.

    An obvious opportunity for a proof of concept, then. Do share. And show your work.

  43. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    What’s novel about my definition?

    I’ve yet to hear it from any person but you. That’s kind of the common agreed meaning of the word “novel”.

    Which I think kind of summarizes your problem here. Language and words are not reified concepts. They and their meaning are the results of an ongoing process of social negotiation. So, if you’re going to use words like “maths”, “logic” and “wanking” in a different way than anybody else, you’d better be very persuasive.

    You’re not.

    To frame it in maths terms: I could say that 2+2=3—5 is more correct than 2+2=4. In a certain light it’s true, but outside a highly specialized context I’m not really correct.

  44. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Philosophers waste their time wondering what consciousness is. Some of them even state that nobody knows what it is (which is demonstrably wrong).

    Now if someone applied observation (science) and reason (math) instead of philosophy, they would have figured out what consciousness is. As I have

    Oh. Really? What is consciousness?

  45. Sastra says

    doublereed #24 wrote:

    Really, because I think only a minority of believers have zero doubts at all. This seems like a fundamentalist argument. It seems to me that he’s implying that ANY doubt (not just full atheism) means that you are as ridiculous as a Solipsist. It’s nonsense. Any remotely liberal believer would call that out as bullshit.

    True, if they look at the surface. But even many liberal theists who admit that they themselves have doubts and/or have never had their own revelation will often work backwards and agree that yes, when God really does touch you — or when someone genuinely is connected to Spirit — then that person is justified in knowing (accepting) God. If it’s true, then you’re right to believe it. If it’s true, then it’s rational to believe.

    This may be the crux of the problem here. The statement “it’s reasonable to believe something which is true” is deceptively plausible — but it leaves out the concept of process. It may be absolutely irrational to believe something which happens to be true if the reasons behind your belief don’t stand up. It’s reasonable to believe something is true if it really is true and you know this.

    Faith not only confuses conviction with truth, it reverses the process. If someone thinks they hear God speaking to them then they’re crazy …. unless it really is God. Now we’re telling a story. Stories have a coherent plot … and every believer is the potential main character. There goes the hypothesis framework and here comes a pilgrim’s progress.

    The idea that it would be epistemically and morally wrong to trust a genuine revelation from God — even one which is really truly coming direct from the Divine Oversoul Itself, the Center of Being and Love — is an idea which usually does not compute with theists — even the liberal ones. Doubt, sure. Play around with the initial anguish of doubt. But if God reaches out to you or Spirit stirs within you and you dismiss it completely by framing it as a mere human error, then you’ve broken the storyline. You’ve become one of the Bad Examples. You shut down. Forget the God Hypothesis. You failed to believe IN God.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of theists who scorn presupps. I know there are. Most of them think there’s either plenty of evidence or evidence which is sufficient if you’re “open.” Reasons to believe, not Reason = Belief. But the basic virtue of faith as a method of knowing lies in the way it allows people to weave reality into a personal narrative. And it’s surprising how many of them will be sympathetic to some variation of “deep in their hearts, atheists know there’s a God.” The more liberal ones will try to slip any recognition of virtue or appreciation of value as a way of “knowing God” (you think the sunset is beautiful so see, you’re not really an atheist after all, are you?)

    But I think the concept of faith in a direct revelation being not just unjustified by the ways of the world but just plain wrong is a hard one for any theist to swallow. There seems to be a bit of presupp lurking behind any evidentialist reason for something which is admittedly faith.

  46. Sastra says

    Gaius Baltar #44 wrote:

    Now if someone applied observation (science) and reason (math) instead of philosophy, they would have figured out what consciousness is. As I have.

    Heheheh. Thanks for the dandy day brightener.

  47. chigau (違う) says

    Gaius Baltar
    I’m quite clear on the meaning of the words I use.
    .
    Humpty Dumpty

    When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.

  48. says

    @39
    Sili

    Would an SI Ten Bruggencate, then be a dekaBruggencate?

    deca, with a “C” ;)

    And as for baltar, you are simply using your own definition of the word “philosophy” that excludes the good philosophy as being “not philosophy”. Just ebacuse you can call something “math” or “science” does not mean they are not also philosophy.

    Think of the word “vehicle”. What you are saying it “no, that’s not a vehicle, that’s a car!!!!!!!!!” and likewise you refuse to note the difference between a functional working vehicle and a non-functional barely assembled heap of spare metal parts.

    I also share other people’s interest in your discoveries about consciousness. I’ve seen good scientific and/or philosophical work on the topic in other places, but I’m mostly curious about your views for the entertainment value.

  49. thelifeofbrine says

    The following argument makes me very twitchy. I really wish somebody would have called Sye on it.

    1. Quran is truth
    2. Quran is truth implies Bible is truth
    3. Person believes Quran is truth
    4. Person believes Bible is false
    5. Thus ALL People who believe statement 1 is true believe statement 4 is true
    6. Therefore statement 1 is false
    7. Also statement 2 is true and the Bible is truth.

  50. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    Gaius Baltar
    I’m quite clear on the meaning of the words I use.
    .
    Humpty Dumpty
    When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.

    It’s especially rich since this in its core is a thread about presuppositionalism.

  51. Amphiox says

    Gaius Baltar, everything makes sense (to oneself) if one simply redefines (for oneself) the meanings of all the words.

    Cast off the shackles of language (which is a social construct anyways), and wank free, man!

  52. Al Dente says

    I stopped watching the debate when Bruggencate insisted that logic comes from his god. His argument seems to be that a law of logic, “A implies B; A; therefore B”, would not be valid unless a god made it so.

    Which of course requires that “no god implies no logic; no god; therefore no logic” has to be true without a god.

    Which requires logic to be valid without gods.

    Incidentally Gaius Baltar, the above argument is philosophic.

  53. whynot says

    Philosophy gave us the concept of human rights, and the notion that they should be constitutionally protected.

    Philosophy gave us atheism.

  54. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    wank free, man!

    If I decode them correctly, they would much rather masturbate free.

  55. David Marjanović says

    Cast off the shackles of language (which is a social construct anyways), and wank free, man!

    Thread won.

  56. hiddenheart says

    Whynot@57: I’ll stake a small wager that our Baltar will end up denying human rights as a relevant or useful idea before this is done; too-smug rationalists usually do.

    Among my picks for useful stuff from philosophers…

    Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus”, an argument against suicide that starts by clearing away debris about innate meaning, and deals with life after that’s happened.

    Epicurus’ emphasis on justice as part of living well – his notion of personal satisfaction includes knowing that others aren’t suffering unjustly.

    Karl Popper on the notion of falsification. It’s widely abused, and he didn’t get as much about how science actually works as he thought he did, but the concept is an important one with a lot of applications to life in civil society.

    Ludwig Wittgenstein on how much meaning resides in context and on the inevitability of classification schemes’ fuzziness.

    Michel Foucault’s relentless scrutiny of the problems involved with (and, ultimately, the impossibility of) getting past representations to any direct contact with reality, and his equally relentless dissection of modern notions of punishment and the extent to which public institutions exist to punish the right people the right ways.

    Lots more, of course.

  57. Athywren says

    For those of you waiting for Baltar’s revelation of the nature of consciousness, I can reveal it to you, for I have discovered it also.

    It’s a cat. Her name is Georgina, and she’s fuzzy and lovely and makes purry sounds… which would make sense, her being a cat, except that she’s consciousness, so it’s a bit distracting. That’s why your mind wanders sometimes.

    (Apologies available on request if a discovery has actually been made.)

  58. Azuma Hazuki says

    I have spent a stupid amount of time studying this particular method over the last few years, much to the detriment of my sanity, health, sleep schedule, and general enjoyment of life.

    This is technically called Presuppositional Apologetics, and its main exponent is the thankfully-long-dead (1987) Cornelius van Til, along with his ass-kissing shadow puppet Gregory Bahnsen (died 1995, may they both sodomize each other in their beloved Hell with branding irons).

    These two took everything that is spine-chilling hair-raising teeth-grinding bat-shagging nuts about Calvinism and distilled it into a noxious brew of sociopathology and overweening arrogance that would make Vorbis of Pratchett’s Small Gods feel he needed to scrub his insides.

    Reading van Til or Bahnsen, you get the impression that you are staring into the abyss of all being, the septic nadir of human thought. They are the ones who say that Yahweh is a psychopath, that we are made in his image, that if you disagree with any of it you’re not “elect,” and if you’re not elect you were destined to be fuel for the fires of hell from before the creation. Furthermore, you all know this is true.

    And if you are not elect, you are no less on the hook for your inability to be a moral, righteous (by grace/faith) person despite the fact that Yahweh has specifically foreordained you from before there was space or time to eternal torture. And all thisis somehow to his glory.

    Now imagine the apologetic that would arise out of this.

  59. says

    Gaius Baltar:

    Now if someone applied observation (science) and reason (math) instead of philosophy, they would have figured out what consciousness is. As I have.

    Such arrogance. No wonder you chose that nym:

    Gaius Baltar regularly uses a well-developed acting talent to spin yarns on virtually any subject when he feels the need. He possesses a dry, cynical sense of humour but is prone to bouts of neurosis. A charismatic genius and womanizer, he is initially portrayed as a self-serving opportunist, but becomes a braver and more caring character over the course of the series, expressing regret for having been “a profoundly selfish man.” Baltar is initially an atheist, but ultimately converts to the Cylons’ monotheistic religion. Baltar is described as “weak”, “arrogant” and “a coward” by Lee Adama while Caprica Six describes Baltar as “narcissistic, self-centred, feckless and vain.”

    Your rejection of philosophy is short sighted. Philosophy courses in college played a big role in shaping my beliefs. Or, rather, non belief. Those courses also introduced me to logic and ethics (in a way I’d never experienced before). You ought to swap in the arrogance for humility.

  60. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    ‘GAIUS, this is stupid stuff:
    You print your comments fast enough;
    There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear,
    To see the rate you drink your beer.
    But oh, good Lord, the words you spake, 5
    It gives a dyke the belly-ache.
    “Philosophy, must not be read;
    Birthing science made it good – and dead”:
    We poor Horde, on this thread now
    Must fetch back wisdom’s pearls from sows. 10
    Pretty puff ’tis to equate
    Ethics to numbers: Smite my pate!
    Trifling, Tom-fool, tangled tripe:
    We’d better never hear your pipe!

  61. chigau (違う) says

    I am consciously assuming time zones for Gaius Baltar’s lack of response.

  62. Suido says

    *hands out popcorn*

    This thread bodes well. Better than a debate video, probably.

    @Tony: I’ve yet to see evidence of a dry, cynical sense of humour, but I live in hope. Perhaps the difference in connotations between wanking and masturbating was a dry, cynical nod to the recent pedantry in other threads about the difference between misogyny and sexism?

  63. says

    Philosophy is nothing but mental wanking. I’ve heard it called mental masturbation, but that’s unfair as masturbation actually serves a purpose.

    That’s quite a philosophical statement you’ve made there.

  64. Athywren says

    Honestly, I’m wondering what purpose masturbation serves that wanking doesn’t… I mean, TMI, but I can’t say I’ve seen much variation in the results in either case.
    Maybe it’s a time keeping thing? You know, training for musicians.

  65. mikeyb says

    Theocrats, like right wingers, are experts in projection. Presuppositionalism is essentially a form of solipsism, complete lack of irony that he starts the argument about solipsism. Even someone like WLC recognizes this, even if his arguments are no less vacuous and specious.

  66. mikeyb says

    Also, Dillahunty has my deepest respect and admiration. Anyone who can openly talk Atheism in Texas of all places (and with great articulation) deserves the highest praise.

  67. bluentx says

    His entire opening argument is snippets of video of Matt Dillahunty, quotemined bits that he falsely boils down to claim Dillahunty is a solipsist…

    And yet, he missed this ‘snippet’ ?: http://youtu.be/qmC2lz3FPY4

  68. qwerty says

    Matt Delahunty – the first skeptic who can do an impressive Gish Gallop. I had a hard time keeping up with him. As for Sy, it was the same old “my book trumps everything.”

    I did get sick of Sy trying to tell Matt what he was thinking.

  69. says

    So, in essence, Sye 10B’s reason to believe in God boils down to this:

    If you accept Sye’s worldview, which you must, because it’s true, because it has God in it, which Sye believes because it’s true because of God, then you have to believe in God because if you don’t you’re a liar because it’s completely obvious that God exists (because God autographed your cardiac muscle, which it says in the Bible, which God, who wouldn’t lie, wrote) and so there’s no need to make an argument that it’s reasonable to believe in God because God is the only reason there’s reason – and even things to believe in – in the first place; accordingly, it is entirely reasonable to believe in Sye’s God and completely unreasonable not to, the reason being that if you don’t, God will burn you in Hell, which is perfectly reasonable to God, which has to be reason enough for you, because it is, because God’s Reason™ is beyond you.

    Back in the Serious, I deduct four hundred billion points from Sye (over and above the seventy a-frillion already deducted for being a lackwitted world-class suckhole) for dissing the organiser of the debate from the stage when he should have been making his fucking case and trying not to suck. That little incident of pissy petulance summed up his entire performance and his entire schtick; he’s utterly devoid of class, self-awareness or any other thing humans tend to value in each other.

  70. dutchdelight says

    So, watched the whole debate, and Q&A, and listened to the dogma debate post-debate show. My conclusion, Matt did excellent, was well prepared, and Sye didn’t even ask Matt if he could be sure about anything for at least 15 minutes.

    I agree with above posters that the last 15 minutes or so of the Dogma Debate episode are epic, both the “atheist presupper” (lol, was hoping someone would get to that) and the host of the show with his last questions demonstrating the lack of agreement among people with revelations from gods.

    Neither Sye nor boy wonder (whatshisname) even try to argue with the atheist presupper as far as I could tell, after some nervous laughing when they figure out this atheist presupper can terminate his knowledge in unassailable revelation just like them, there are some panicky attempts to start up the spiel again, with predictable consequences.

    Things I Learned:
    – Sye claims his god is not all loving (fine, is this a “true christian” requirement, if yes, how many true christians are there in the world?!?)
    – Sye is now claiming that revelation is just scripture, (could swear he was arguing that god was talking to him in other debates, now acts like hearing revelation by voices in your head is just absurd ((paging apostle Paul, please report to the thread))
    – Sye will not argue his revelation (scripture) with atheists. That’s a nice way to leave what he claims to know (by revelation) very foggy.
    – Sye feels that christians will work out differences in their revealed knowledge just fine amongst each other. Yea… he really said that. I’m sure that’s what the catholic church thought days before the iconoclastic fury of the 16th century too. And all those different sects… are just disagreeing about little things, like how to get into heaven. Pretty unimportant.

  71. Azuma Hazuki says

    Sometimes I think 2/3 of the presup strategy relies on “making the opponent, who cannot possibly be as dishonest as me, want to punch me in the face so hard s/he can’t concentrate.”

    If there is a Hell, I sincerely hope van Til and Bahnsen are in it chained together by their intestines with Gordon Clark hanging upside down by his ankles from it.

  72. heliobates says

    That little incident of pissy petulance…

    I had been chanting “douchebag, douchebag” in my head every time Sye played a video clip of Matt saying exactly what Sye wanted him to say and cutting the clip so that it was obvious that Matt had said something immediately before and immediately after which would place his remarks in an appropriate context.

    Then Sye took a run at the organizer and said “She started it…” I shit you not. The 7-year old brother defence. I actually yelled at the video Sye, to my wife’s consternation.

  73. kkehno says

    I linked the debate on to one site more focused on sexual minoritys and their friends. Had there little debate about why one should believe and the person made claims that mixed theistic god and panenteistic god and he refused to admin that he did this. He commented that sye did good and ‘showd the lights difference from darkness’. So there is atleast some believer who thought that sye is on the money with his theology. There were also that ‘if you think different than sye you are arguing that god loves liars’. Had to note that only siths deald with absolutes even thou christians tend to use them often too.

  74. Athywren says

    There were also that ‘if you think different than sye you are arguing that god loves liars’.

    Obviously their god has no love for sinners. I guess they don’t believe in Jesus then. :P

  75. Athywren says

    I think it comes down to a misreading of scripture, see, it says “for God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son,” but notice it says nothing about loving humanity.
    God sent Jesus down in order to create a highly divisive set of splintering religions with the intent of turning humanity against itself (“I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”) with the ultimate aim of our destruction. In this way, the world, though it would suffer in our death throes, could continue to survive, free of human infection.

  76. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    LOL!

    Sye: “Here’s my argument.
    Premise one: It is reasonable to believe that which is true.
    Premise two: God exists
    Therefore it is reasonable to believe God exists.”

    What?

  77. Anri says

    Gnumann+ (etc) @ 58:

    If I decode them correctly, they would much rather masturbate free.

    No, they’re going to have a wank, then masturbate.

    Totally different things y’see.

    Because reasons.

  78. =8)-DX says

    @Gaius Baltar

    Philosophy is nothing but mental wanking. I’ve heard it called mental masturbation, but that’s unfair as masturbation actually serves a purpose.

    Masturbation and wanking have different connotations. I’m quite clear on the meaning of the words I use.

    Having a theory, which is mine, I think I have deciphered the combined meaning of these two philosophical statements. As we all know, wanking is male self-masturbation, while masturbation in general can include female (or other) masturbation as well as mutual masturbation. For some reason, our budding philosopher Baltar considers mental activities a male takes part in alone to be entirely purposeless, or at least superflous, since this is something done by males regularly already, which would of course not be true of female masturbation (which some statistics say there is not enough of, especially among young women with the shaming of our culture) nor of mutual masturbation a very beneficial practice in any relationship, and taken philosophically where mutual confirmation of group ideas at least create social cohesion. In Baltar’s view “science” would then be the promotion of actual evidence-driven and useful ideas – this would be mental intercourse.

    Baltar’s Wank-Masturbation theorem can therefore essentially be summarized as: women and their ideas should have a more prominent place in our discourse, while men should concentrate on social interactions and the opinions of others, and proper intellectual efforts of both sexes are not self-congratulatory, but rather mutual exchanges of evidence-based knowledge where the mutual of both parties should be crucial.

    I think we should all agree with Gaius Baltar on this wonderful and progressive philosophy, expressed so succinctly in such a simple couple of sentences.

    Although being a man and having expressed this, I must leave this comment here and go wash my brain.

  79. heliobates says

    What?

    No, you’ve got it exactly. There really isn’t anything else to Sye’s “argument”.

  80. dutchdelight says

    You watched the whole thing?

    Yes, I am weird that way. I only skipped boy wonder in the Q&A a few times. He comes across as an apprentice of Sye, and Sye more then once tried to steer him in the right direction when he was talking. It just didn’t seem like there was much point in hearing him out.

    Btw, just a bit of info for the people tripping on Sye’s last name. It’s a Dutch last name, Ten Bruggencate. The word “Ten” is a way to refer to a city or region. It’s similar to “van” (of) or “van de” (of the) which you’ll find often in Dutch last names.

    Combined with the fact that “van Til” is also a Dutch last name, and van Til is the source of Sye’s presupping. I’m sorry to say that this presupping madness seems to originate from my home country. Which shouldn’t be that surprising to me, because even though I didn’t know there was a name for for this line of “reasoning” most of the presup arguments rang very familiar to me. I’ve heard most of ‘m before in my days in public school, and back then I dealt with the stupidity by taking the presup atheist position, or just picked an alternate god/revelation.