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Feb 22 2012

Episode 98: Presuppositional Apologetics (part 2)

According to the Transcendental Argument For God (TAG), the principles of Logic, inductive science and morality all depend on the existence the Christian God. In the second part of RD’s series on presuppositional apologetics the doubtcasters offer direct challenges to the soundness of the transcendental argument for God as well as several internal critiques of Christianity which show the Christian worldview to be incoherent.

 

Links:

Michael Martin “The Transcendental Argument for the Non-existence of God”

Michael Martin vs. John Frame on the Transcendental Argument for God

Mitch LeBlanc “The Case Against Presuppositionalism” parts 1, 2, 3.

Mitch LeBlanc “The Transcendental Argument for God

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119 comments

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  1. 1
    Jeremy

    There are plenty of arguments our listeners mentioned that we didn’t get to in this episode. Some that are just as devastating as the ones we did provide. Which bible are we presupposing the truth of? What about other valid TAG arguments that arrive at different conclusions? How can all other possible sources for logic be eliminated? So many problems with presuppositionalism, so little time. But we will be addressing more of these critiques and talking about our atheistic foundations in a near-future episode. At the moment we are switching gears to plan our live 100th episode special. Hope you guys and gals can join us for that!

  2. 2
    philstilwell

    How would the average evangelical presuppositionalist respond if I were to simply ask for the logical demonstration that the god of some non-christian presuppositionalist is not the true source of logic?

  3. 3
    Andrew Ryan

    Philstilwell, why not go to Sye or Matt Slick’s websites and ask them?

    Off topic – ever been to conjunctivitis.com? Now there’s a site for sore eyes.

  4. 4
    Andrew Ryan

    By the way Jeremy, et al, you discussed the ‘God’s nature’ apologetic answer before, again shrugging somewhat at that answer. Michael Martin actually has a decent, satisfying response to it. It’s satisfying because it addresses that the ‘God’s nature’ answer seems intuitively dodging the ‘two prongs’ dilemma. Here’s how the Iron Chariot’s wiki summarises Martin’s response:

    “God’s nature
    The claim that God would not command evil because it goes against God’s nature does not actually change the problem, but only reorganizes it. The question might then be reasonably asked, “Where does God’s nature come from?” Did God create it himself? If so then God’s whims are still behind what he considers right and wrong, and the dilemma still applies. If, on the other hand, God did not create his own nature, then either someone else created it (in which case the dilemma applies to the creator of God’s nature) or the morality contained in God’s nature is inherent in some way (in which case God is not truly the author of right and wrong).

    Michael Martin has argued that theistic objections to the dilemma solve nothing, because it can easily be reformulated in terms of God’s character: “Is God’s character the way it is because it is good or is God’s character good simply because it is God’s character?” The structure of this modified dilemma is exactly the same as before, and it appears to be if anything harder to escape.

    If we identify the ultimate standard for goodness with God’s nature, then it seems we are identifying it with certain of God’s properties (e.g., being loving, being just). If so, then the dilemma resurfaces: is God good because he has those properties, or are those properties good because God has them?””

  5. 5
    NoCoolName_Tom

    If you guys are looking for more female Exmormons, I can’t help you directly, but I’d encourage you guys to get in touch with the Mormon Expression podcast (http://mormonexpression.com/), which is probably the largest and most popular of the recent resurgence of Mormon podcasts. They do many entertaining and intelligent panel discussions and have a number of intelligent women who would probably be very willing to come on your show and discuss their experiences both without and without the LDS Church.

  6. 6
    llewelly

    You should announce your request for participants in your ex-mormon roundtable at exmormon.org

  7. 7
    Jeremy

    Andrew Ryan,

    Thanks for the explanation by Martian. That is Justin’s take also on the matter. He likes to say “does God choose his own nature”? I find it completely satisfying critique but for this episode I wanted to avoid any accusation that we were asking complex questions (even though I dont think that would really be one) so we favored the direct criticism that “LPs are grounded in his necessary nature” is either too vague to be a defense or is vulnerable to problems of divine simplicity.

    I got taken to task by listeners in a past episode for simply accepting Craig’s defense against the Euthypro dilemma when I said it “might work” or “its not clear to me it doesnt work”… “Shrugging” at the matter as you say. I regret saying that. I believe my unintelligibility challenge to the moral argument works with or without Craigs defense and so I was eager to avoid what I saw as a red herring. But I should have just said “its irrelevant” instead of saying “it might or might not work.”

  8. 8
    andrewryan

    Thanks Jeremy – your response in the past episode was indeed the once I was referencing (“shrugging”), so it’s interesting to hear you say that in retrospect you would have worded it differently.

    Myself, when I hear that defence I come straight back with, “Ok, so is it part of God’s nature because it’s good, or is it good because it’s part of God’s nature”. I used this technique when talking to the apologist Neil Mammen on Frank Turek’s website. He got very frustrated and refused to answer. His only response was “That’s Euthryphro again, and I already solved that dilemma!”.

    Come to think of it, it was after that particularly heated exchange, when he noticeable completely lost his temper, that he stopped posted his blogs on that site.

  9. 9
    Jon H

    Great episode guys!

    All I can say is I can’t wait to see what happens in this comment section, hoo boy.

    Also, Andrew Ryan, thanks for the Martin quote, before today and thanks in part to Jeremy’s off hand comment I’ve assumed Euthyphro was dead. Wish I’d heard this sooner!

  10. 10
    shanemckee

    Srsly looking forward to listening to this one, chaps. #97 was ace. It strikes me that presuppositionalists seem to back themselves into the view that God underpins all logic, therefore God must underpin mathematics itself. But does 2+2 really need God to make 4? Can God re-set the value of Pi (in which case, why didn’t he just make it 3, which would have been so much easier)? Maybe you answer these :-)

  11. 11
    philstilwell

    @shanemckee
    Or more importantly, can any god that underpins logic/mathematics fail so miserably at his own math as to deem a finite 3-day death of Jesus commensurate to the “deserved” eternal torment of billions of “sinners”?

  12. 12
    Lausten North

    I know y’all love it when someone comments on something that was said as an aside. You mentioned The Parable of the Dishonest Steward as an example of God promoting evil. I think you would like the book “Parables of Subversive Speech” which covers this and a few other parables from a mostly historical perspective. Theological arguments are reviewed, but mostly to show where they are weak. The Dishonest Steward is considered to be a story of how a person in a very weak position can expose the corrupt system and at least momentarily bring some equality to it.

    This book is not another liberal look at Jesus, designed to give people who can’t reconcile the Bible with the modern world something to hang onto. It is a Christian book, but uses historical analysis to draw its conclusions. I have a couple recent blogs on it, including details of the above, if you’re interested.

  13. 13
    Jeremy

    Well luckily I quickly followed that one up by saying it probably wouldnt work. Nevertheless, thank you for the book recommendation. I never thought of the parable that way. Ill have to look it over again and see if it makes sense.

  14. 14
    Daneel

    Excellent episode and overall series. I love when you go deep into counter apologetics. It’s refreshing, stimulating and thought-provoking.
    I’ll probably listen to this episode a couple of times.

  15. 15
    Nate

    Greetings! What’s the name of the opera track that plays at 18:00 mins? Thanks.

  16. 16
    Jeremy

    Verdi: Requiem, Dies irae

  17. 17
    Nate

    Thank you, Jeremy! The song hit when I was on the treadmill and gave me a much needed rush of adrenaline, prior to which you guys were crackin’ me up causing me to lose composure! Thanks for another good episode.

  18. 18
    Aaron

    Jeremy et al.,

    Here is a thought for your future podcast on rationally justifying inductive reasoning without making recourse to theism.

    Pace Hume we may agree that we cannot know a priori if nature is appropriately uniform so as to permit ampliative inferences. The challenge presented is that we must show upon what rational grounds may we reason inductively. We can, crudely, pragmatically justify inductive methods in the following way (this is not to imply, however, that this is the only, or even the best, formulation):

    If nature is not appropriately uniform, no ampliative inference will work, inductive or otherwise. If nature is appropriately uniform, some ampliative inference will work. If some ampliative inference will work, clairvoyance, extispicy, religious prophesy, or any other claptrappery under the sun may or may not work. If some ampliative inference will work, induction must work, since if any method works, the success of the method can be exploited inductively. So, e.g., if clairvoyance works, that is, leads, on balance, to more accurate forecasts, we can exploit clairvoyance inductively. In nuce, reason obliges that we reason inductively: in crude decision theoretic terms, we have nothing to lose, but but we have a world to gain.

  19. 19
    Aaron

    P.S. I should like to emphasize that the pragmatic justification just given (or some sufficiently similar construction) neither makes recourse to faith nor to any metaphysically thick conceptions of truth. So, e.g., the theist cannot give the rejoinder: “Well, but how do you KNOW that your inductive methods lead to true beliefs?”

    It is sufficient to define truth, for our purposes, in some standard disquotational schema:

    DS: some sentence ‘p’ is true if and only if p.

  20. 20
    siod

    I’d love a transcript for the anti-apologetics sections of your podcasts for my exobrain (i.e., evernote) :(

    Also, why do you think Ron Paul would be worse than Santorum? I can easily see him being worse than Romeny, but Santorum? Methinks you took a step too far.

  21. 21
    philstilwell

    Just a few more comments on induction.

    The question is not whether we know induction accurately reflects an actual causal mechanism, but whether we are rational in our belief that it does.

    We are.

    Induction works. It has allowed humans amazing successes in both passive prediction and active technological/medical development.

    To the degree that induction has worked, to this degree we are rational in our continuing belief that induction will continue to work. (This argument is not circular as it determines only whether our degree of confidence in induction is rational.)

    Given induction’s successes, if induction does not accurately reflect an actual causal mechanism, we have still been rational in our belief in that falsehood, and there can be no culpability in that false belief. If someone believes, in the face of induction’s successes, that induction does not hold, their belief is irrational, even if it is true, and such an irrational true belief holds no virtue.

    Given induction’s successes, if induction does not accurately reflect an actual causal mechanism, there is some sort of deceiver outside our powers of reason.

    So while we can not know that induction, given all its successes, truly reflects an actual causal mechanism, we are rational in our belief that it does.

    This rational conclusion that induction works is a sufficient foundation to proceed in the continued employment of induction as a component of rational argumentation, without the need to give an account of its objective source.

    If a time-traveling calculator were discovered a thousand years ago, the regularity of its successes in arriving at solutions would be sufficient to place continued confidence in its power. Any demand that an account of the calculator’s origin or mechanism must first be submitted prior to our confidence in its conclusions would be logically absurd.

  22. 22
    paullehman

    The whole TAG premise is just an elaborate appeal to authority. And doesn’t it strike you that their arguments “presuppose” a phenomenal insight into the mind of God? So put those two ideas together, and you’ve got the motivating engine of institutionalized religion: men who would have you never question their God, who by the way, only they understand, so by extension you never question them. The end goal is always secular power.

  23. 23
    llewelly

    Off topic:

    Since the hosts of Reasonable Doubts have some prior experience with and knowledge of the Barna Group, and surveys in general, I would appreciate it if you would explain the results of this survey:
    http://www.barna.org/teens-next-gen-articles/545-top-trends-of-2011-millennials-rethink-christianity

    and the issues raised by it.

    The issue of the the youth leaving evangelical Christianity has been discussed on the podcast in the past, but I think it deserves a little more attention.

  24. 24
    Justin Schieber

    Siod,

    We don’t have a transcript but the links provided in the description will give you a large portion of what we talked about.

  25. 25
    worlebird

    Depending on when exactly you plan to record your Mormon episode, my wife and I might be able to participate, since you are looking for more women.
    We are both former Mormons – I left the church about 7 years ago, she left just last year. This means both that her experience with the church is quite recent, and that we lived for several years in a somewhat divided marriage – a former Mormon married to a devout Mormon.

    Let me know if you’d be interested in having us participate – we can probably Skype in or something if the timing works out for us.

  26. 26
    Brad

    Good episode.

    I was very interested in the comments toward the end, regarding examples in scripture where God breaks his own commandments (or encourages/instructs/demands others to break them).

    Sounds like you are developing this for a further episode or article, please continue to work on this, I think it has the potential to be a very compelling case, I thought the examples you mentioned were very interesting.

  27. 27
    C.L. Bolt

    I look forward to listening to this tomorrow. I do hope the hosts took the time to respond to the many replies that have been offered with respect to TANG and Mitch LeBlanc’s material. You can find much of it on my blog.

  28. 28
    Ben

    What a great pair of podcasts! Nice job guys!

    If you don’t mind a bit of cross-plugging, I gave you a thumbs up here on my blog.

    I wonder if presuppositionalists have any substantive criticisms (as opposed to vacuous nitpicking) to offer. Probably not.

    –B

  29. 29
    Justin Schieber

    Thanks for stopping by Ben,

    I am sure fans of the Counter-Apologetics segment of Reasonable Doubts would also love your fairly new podcast called ‘Goodness without God’ as well. Excellent stuff!

  30. 30
    Jeremy

    Bolt, Oh I took some time alright. I read about 35 printed pages of you and LeBlanc going back and forth in comments and blogposts…but I didn’t find much in the way of “replies”, just some empty straw-man accusations, you dismissing a reductio challenge because its conclusion contradicted a premise (which was cute btw ;) and some other minor distractions that LeBlanc handled just fine. If I missed something substantial then add it to your critique and I will address it later. Got midterm exams to grade and a conference this weekend, but I will try to get a counter-reply to you soon. Just a request…make your critique count. I am not going to make the mistake LeBlanc and Stephen Law made of putting down the same arguments over and over again in a prolonged blog war. You’re getting three rounds from me and that’s it.

  31. 31
    C.L. Bolt

    Gentlemen,

    I listened to your podcast three times today. I thought it was for the most part very clear and thorough, and I was glad that you did in fact address responses to Martin and LeBlanc. Justin also did a great job at playing devil’s advocate.

    That having been said, I am not convinced that you have leveled a solid criticism against Christianity or presuppositionalism, and I hope to tell people why soon. The question I am asking myself right now, and I appreciate any input you may have, is what the best medium is for addressing your podcast. Perhaps a debate is in order, but I hope to respond via podcast in the midst of the work I already have on my plate.

    Trust that I do not have the time to keep up with three guys while in school and working just under 40 hours a week. I certainly do not have any 35 printed pages of back and forth planned out anywhere in the near future! So no worries concerning blog wars or timely responses.

  32. 32
    Jeremy

    Thank you for your very civil reply. I almost regret the snotty tone of my earlier comment. Justin and I want to discuss what we think is the best format for debating you on this topic. I am somewhat relieved to hear you are pressed for time as I am too. Once I’ve spoken to Justin I will reply back with suggestions on how we might proceed.

  33. 33
    Jon H

    Hoo boy, I’m listening to Chris right now, and I have to say, you’re brave for taking this on. Not because I think his arguments are in any way persuasive, but rather that this is some of the most slippery and infuriating shit I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with.

    I honestly think these guys would be really good radical skeptics, it’s whenever they turn from critiquing and start acting like they’ve “proven” or properly defended Christianity that I start banging my head against the wall.

  34. 34
    fergusgallagher

    Trust that I do not have the time to keep up with three guys while in school and working just under 40 hours a week.

    What bad timing. Any other week, eh?

  35. 35
    fergusgallagher

    Busy Busy Busy.

  36. 36
    C.L. Bolt

    Yes, busy, but I appreciate the hubris in assuming that you as a complete stranger know more about my schedule than I do just by looking at some blog posts. :) And then atheists wonder why they have a PR problem.

  37. 37
    Andrew Ryan

    Bolt: “”Which bible are we presupposing the truth of? The Christian Bible. Weren’t you listening?”

    That’s a glib, sarcastic, response that misses the point. There are many, many different versions of the Christians Bible, which often differ considerably. This point WAS made clear on the show recently when they discussed the differences between different editions of the King James Bible.

  38. 38
    C.L. Bolt

    Andrew,

    I responded to your comment (above) where you made it over at http://www.choosinghats.com.

    Also, I really hope you do not think that Christians are not aware that there are different versions of the Bible!

  39. 39
    Andrew Ryan

    Bolt: “Then “the point” is not sufficiently clear. I did not listen to “the show” you reference. Yes, there are many different versions of the Christian Bible.”

    I don’t see what other interpretation one could make from ‘which bible are we presupposing the truth of’. ‘The bible’ almost universally refers to the Christian bible. You say you are well aware that there’s more than one version, so the meaning of the question ‘which bible’ should not have been too opaque to you. There’s no crime in not understanding something, but the smart thing to do is either not leap to a conclusion or ask for elucidation. Glib “weren’t you listening?”-style sarcastic responses do not advance the conversation.

  40. 40
    C.L. Bolt

    I don’t know why we are having the same exchange in two different places.

    http://www.choosinghats.com/2012/02/reasonable-doubts-about-devastating-arguments/#comment-3294

    Andrew Ryan February 29, 2012 at 5:37 am

    “Which bible are we presupposing the truth of? The Christian Bible. Weren’t you listening?”

    That’s a glib, sarcastic, response that misses the point. There are many, many different versions of the Christians Bible, which often differ considerably. This point WAS made clear on the show recently when they discussed the differences between different editions of the King James Bible.

    Reply

    C.L. Bolt February 29, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Then “the point” is not sufficiently clear. I did not listen to “the show” you reference. Yes, there are many different versions of the Christian Bible. What specifically is your question? We presuppose the ontological Word, the original autographa being theopneustos (God breathed), and their copies and translations being faithful to the original. Where they are not faithful, we do not accept them, but you would need to move into specifics here rather than speaking in generalities.

    Reply

    Andrew Ryan February 29, 2012 at 11:37 am

    “Then “the point” is not sufficiently clear.”

    I don’t see what other interpretation one could make from ‘which bible are we presupposing the truth of’. ‘The bible’ almost universally refers to the Christian bible. You say elsewhere that you are well aware that there’s more than one version, so the meaning of the question ‘which bible’ should not have been too opaque to you. There’s no crime in not understanding something, but the smart thing to do is either not leap to a conclusion or ask for elucidation. Glib “weren’t you listening?”-style sarcastic responses do not advance the conversation.

    Reply

    C.L. Bolt February 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    What do you mean you do not see what other interpretation one could make? Didn’t you just jump on me for interpreting the question differently from what you did? Are you following the conversation? The term “bible” is not exclusively Christian. In fact it just means “book,” and generally when I am asked the question that is the focus of this conversation it pertains to other religious texts outside of Christianity. As the question stands apart from your commentary it is vague, contrary to your dogmatic assertions to the contrary. There is nothing wrong with sarcasm in and of itself, and your complaint that it did not advance the conversation is demonstrably false in virtue of this very conversation.

    Now to restate my question to you, what, specifically, is your question regarding the different versions of the Bible?

  41. 41
    Aaron

    Bolt et al.,

    Presuppositionalist apologetics en bloc brings to mind a Bertrand Russell quote, which aptly describes my view on the matter:

    “The method of ‘postulating’ what we want has many advantages; they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil. Let us leave them to others and proceed with our honest toil.”

    More generally, presuppositionalists seem to take Christian belief, at any rate, as essentially replete with detailed metaphysical commitments (commitments articulated by early Councils of the Church imbued with late Greek philosophy), and so feel that defending the coherence of religious practice involves having to dodge and weave their way through some pretty murky metaphysics.

    P.S. Presuppositionalists claim miracles presuppose regularities. If we define a ‘miracle’ as a violation of a physical law, and if we define a physical law as, crudely, a summary description of natural regularities, it follows analytically that a ‘miracle’ presupposes regularities. But this is a vacuous point. That ‘miracles’ presuppose regularities does nothing to help epistemic agents differentiate between ‘miracles’ versus irregularities.

    In other words, as Hume notes, in the same way one cannot know a priori that nature is appropriately regular so as to permit ampliative inferences, one cannot know a priori whether there are, in fact, ‘miracles’, such that one may infer to regularities, and thus employ ampliative inferences.

    So, e.g., if one observes some anomalous event, E, one cannot know a priori if E is a ‘miracle’ or if E is an irregularity. Thus, at this juncture, the presuppositionalist is in the same proverbial boat as the non-presuppositionalist.

  42. 42
    Jeremy

    Bolt and Andrew,

    I only caught part of the back and forth but I think this is a cautionary tale on not trying to refute arguments before you’ve heard them. My first comment here, which Bolt triumphantly refuted on his blog…didnt contain any argumentation whatsoever. It was saying “more to come on these subjects” The “which bible” comment goes back to a previous episode which some listeners noted might make a good challenge to presuppositionalists. No one has yet reworked the argument for that purpose. Coming soon..

  43. 43
    C.L. Bolt

    Right, you alluded to “devastating arguments,” asked three questions, and then mentioned “problems.”

    So I decided to answer the questions that you believe are related to arguments and/or problems with presuppositionalism to save you some time. I did not see any argumentation and did not fancy myself to have refuted any.

  44. 44
    C.L. Bolt

    I should add that Andrew’s complaint pertained to me taking the question to mean one thing when he says it meant another. An argument would most likely resolve the vagueness, but he has not complained about the actual answers I have provided to the question taken either of the two ways that were mentioned.

    But I promised myself, and by implication, you, that I wasn’t going to blow up your comments thread, so I’ll stop. It’s not that important to me. I look forward to hearing the concluding episode on presuppositionalism, and to hearing what you and Justin think is the best way to continue if we do not just part ways now.

  45. 45
    Andrew R

    I didn’t engage with your answer as I had no wish to go down a rabbit hole. My point was that in your haste to concoct a pithy smartarse rejoinder you missed the actual point being made. Then when I pointed out the actual meaning, you chided me for assuming Christians aren’t aware of there being more than one version of the bible. Well yes, I did assume you were aware or that, hence your one line “The Christian bible – duh!” being a bit surprising.

  46. 46
    emr

    Hi Jeremy, Justin, Dave etc

    So presuppositionalists state that no-one can make sense of anything without first presupposing the Christian worldview. Some even reject the evidentialist route to defending Christianity, because – to quote Sye TenBruggencate – ‘evidence is evil.’

    Well what if I was to reject Christianity and instead refer to my own worldview of Kevinism? Last night I heard a voice in my head saying, ‘I am Kevin, the creator of the universe.’ Kevin explained to me mathematics, the laws of logic, moral absolutes, etc and then assured me that he was their originator. He then said that all other non-Kevinist worldviews are false, and from henceforth the only way to make sense of anything is by presupposing the Kevinist worldview. Do I need evidence that I really received a revelation from the creator of the universe? Nope. Because Kevin said, ‘evidence is evil.’

    Your thoughts?

  47. 47
    worlebird

    @emr – While your criticism will likely resonate with most listeners of this podcast, it has a major flaw, which is that your “Kevinist” worldview is fundamentally no different from the Christian worldview, with the added detail that in your world, god is named “Kevin”. While this does nothing to refute the presuppositionalist argument, it does point out a major flaw in that argument – namely that it is ultimately only an argument for the existence of some supreme creator being. The presuppositionalist argument cannot, so far as I can tell, differentiate between different religious beliefs – based on simply the presuppositionalist argument, the supreme being could be Jehovah, Kali, Ra, or Allah. At least, I haven’t heard a clarification of the argument that obviates the existence of one deity over any other. But that’s just me.

  48. 48
    Greg

    Might solipsism serve as an obvious defeater for the impossibility of the contrary as it stands as a perfectly coherent non-Christian worldview?

  49. 49
    emr

    @worlebird:

    Christian presuppositionalists refer directly to Biblical passages to support their view that Christianity is the only worldview that makes sense of anything. They claim that the words of the Bible come from the creator of the universe. But Kevin told me that the Bible was written by men struggling to understand the world in a rather unenlightened time. He said that the passages presuppositionalists refer to are non-divine, and that in any case they’re far too vague and ambiguous to have a meaning that is clear to everyone.

    Remember, I don’t need any evidence for Kevin because that would be assuming some kind of neutral standpoint. You know that Kevin exists (he told me so ) and you have to presuppose his existence in order to attempt to refute me.

  50. 50
    Brian

    What do you guys think of this little syllogism, using the assumptions presuppers have about logic, truth, etc

    P1: God does not exist.
    P2: If God does not exist, truth does not exist.
    P3: If God does not exist, P1 is true.

    Conclusion: TAG is not sound. ;)

    If people who accept P2 want to hold on to that premise, they must explain how a valid and sound syllogism would suddenly cease being true in a world without a god.

  51. 51
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Video: Stanford – Platonist Philosophy as a Way of Life *

    Stumbled on an overview of the stark raving Platonism that got this mess going, including the ideal form god of intelligibility underlying all things.
     
    At the time I suppose it was a laudable step away from animism, personifications, and divine aspects, but it became an irritatingly popular framework for wishing fantasy entities into existence and fixating on them at the expense of the here and now. So you’ll get anachronistic logos jeebus vibes throughout.
     
    * If you watch, it’s probably best to download the mp4 from the description and play at 2x speed in VLC.

  52. 52
    Leon

    I am a bit of a layman here, so bear with me, however regarding the Presuppositionalist claim that logic is dependant on God(s). Would it be a poor argument to say;
    “logic is founded on concepts, the ability to conceptualise is dependant on Neurological development, therefore logic is a product of Neurological development.”
    Could the same not be said about superstition? or am I getting it totally wrong here?

  53. 53
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    “logic is founded on concepts, the ability to conceptualise is dependant on Neurological development, therefore logic is a product of Neurological development.”

    I think it’s more about reality tending to match logic-based expectations. Our expectations are based on concepts in our minds, so apparently reality must also be based on concepts in a mind. And since humans are part of reality, you’re based on the universe’s logicalness, so your own concepts are dependent on the ubermind behind it all.
     
    “1+1=2″ is isomorphic with “An apple and an orange make two fruits.”
    And it’s deeply mysterious why the orange isn’t also !orange, like a brick.

  54. 54
    Leon

    CompulsoryAccount7746
    Wouldn’t expectation be based more on past experience, and extrapolation thereof, than “logic” as a pure conceptual process?
    Would our internal structure of reality not be a separate entity from “Reality”? For example my laptop has a limited internal structure of reality, although it’s structure of reality is as “real” as my internal structure of reality, changes within my laptops internal reality does not directly effect my internal reality, nor for that matter “the” reality. Or would it?

  55. 55
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Wouldn’t expectation be based more on past experience

    That an expectation was satisfied in the past and continues to be is grounds to accept it as tentatively reliable for practical applications. But it doesn’t address why the expectation necessarily should have been met in the first place.
    The universe could have been completely absurd, in which case anthropic principle applies (chaotic protomatter doesn’t ask questions). Or it might have subtly diverged from expectations in ways that logic could never model.
     

    Would our internal structure of reality not be a separate entity from “Reality”?

    A subset. Brains and laptops each obey physics. If the rules governing “reality” hiccupped, brains’ internal representations could be adversely affected, as could laptops’. But your laptop wouldn’t affect your brain.

    Hrm. A dualist would want minds separate from physics. Dunno what principles souls are supposed to be beholden to…

  56. 56
    Leon

    “But it doesn’t address why the expectation necessarily should have been met in the first place.”

    Would the expectation not be void until met with real world events? For example a young child would have no expectation to get burnt the first time they touch the a hot stove. Only through repetition would the expectation be evident.

    “The universe could have been completely absurd, in which case anthropic principle applies.”

    That seems a bit strange to me, can’t the universe only be the way it is, otherwise it wouldn’t “be”?

    “Brains and laptops each obey physics.”

    Would it not be the case that through trial and error etc. That humans became aware of correlations that were later called physics and we are constatly redefining exactly how physics behave?

    “Hrm. A dualist would want minds separate from physics. Dunno what principles souls are supposed to be beholden to…”

    Would the argument of the possibility of a soul be separate from the origins of logic? Very basic life forms display basic logic that are worlds away from having evoled enough to be considered councious.

  57. 57
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    a young child would have no expectation to get burnt the first time they touch the a hot stove. Only through repetition would the expectation be evident.

    The first time would be called noticing a coincidence rather than an expectation. Repetition would be evidence that touching a stove too long reliably correlates with getting burnt.

    This is separate from addressing the underlying phenomena that make it necessary for tissue to respond in the way it does to extreme temperatures. Reasons for the reasons continue until you’re physically incapable, even in principle, of investigating further. Then you’re left settling for a series of interrelated coincidences.
    This is why science largely gave up on philosophical “Truth” last century in favor of practical “truth” (just build models that describe what has been observed; that’s close enough to declare them representative of how the universe really works and do useful stuff). “Why aren’t things different?” posed generally is unsatisfiable, just to sort of gap to hide gods in.
     

    “Brains and laptops each obey physics.”

    That humans became aware of correlations that were later called physics and we are constatly redefining exactly how physics behave?

    Sorry, that was sloppy of me. Brains and laptops follow reliably consistent behavior, which the construct of physics seeks to describe one day in full, if possible (while allowing for inaccuracies due to imperfect information fed into predictions).
     

    That seems a bit strange to me, can’t the universe only be the way it is, otherwise it wouldn’t “be”?

    A maximally absurd universe, I imagine, would be one whose contents consistently behave erratically at all scales (to unbounded degree, dodging the normalizing effect of the Central limit theorem).
     
    Article: Wikipeda – Occasionalism…

    Ghazali argues that what we observe as regularity in nature based presumably upon some natural law is actually a kind of constant and continual regularity. There is no independent necessitation of change and becoming, other than what God has ordained. To posit an independent causality outside of God’s knowledge and action is to deprive Him of true agency, and diminish his attribute of power. In his famous example, when fire and cotton are placed in contact, the cotton is burned not because of the heat of the fire, but through God’s direct intervention

    Striking a match is petitioning god for fire, and god might decline (though conveniently intervention rates don’t diverge from probability when you subject him/her/it to lots of tests).
    Image: Dilbert meets the random number generator in accounting.
     
    I hope I’m being a decent devil’s advocate for this inanity…

  58. 58
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    * Brains and laptops follow exhibit reliably consistent behavior

  59. 59
    Ripples

    Thank you chaps, a very interesting and entertaining episode once again. This subject has definitely been a cracker as I have had to listen to both shows 3 times.

    To be honest I am still struggling with the concepts involved but that’s my comprehension not the communication of the subject matter.

    I have rejected the argument based mainly on a fairly simplistic argument. Most of my arguments are simplistic and I tend to look to underlying assumptions and whether such assumptions are logically coherent or supported by any evidence or extrinsic references.

    This argument was very difficult for me and I struggled to truly grasp the underlying assumptions. My philosophical education was heavily based in jurisprudential thought.

    From what I understand the argument is that presuppositionalism proponents state that the argument in connection with logic establishes a case for the existence of a divine being.

    In order to recognise the divine entity as the Christian God reference is made to the Christian Bible.

    For me I find that the bible is always my sticking point. I can’t fathom how a divine entity would be reliant on such an imperfect recording method as proof of their existence.

    Apart from issues connected to the origin of the bible the mere fact there are a number of versions that have differences suggests that it may not be a reliable text to support a case for God.

    I would have thought that presuppositionalism would have been able to achieve a case for existence of the particular divine entity without any reference to a book. Therefore for me the arguments don’t appear to work as there is a reliance on the bible.

    I guess my question is whether it is valid to reject the presuppositionalist argument based on presuppositionalism failing to identify a particular deity without recourse to the bible as support?

    Is more needed to support rejection of the argument?

    Anyway I had hours of pleasure from this series. I pretty sure RD is ensuring that my mind is safe from atrophy.

  60. 60
    Ken

    Am I the only one for whom the Mitch LeBlanc links at urbanphilosophy.net doesn’t work? I found them on the wayback-machine, but if the links are indeed broken, they should be fixed in the blogpost.

  61. 61
    Leon

    “A maximally absurd universe, I imagine, would be one whose contents consistently behave erratically at all scales (to unbounded degree, dodging the normalizing effect of the Central limit theorem).”

    If a system existed where the contents behaves irrationally, would that not include the “logic” of time? Therefore such a absurd existence could not be “the universe” but perhaps what was before time or the big bang, which would be nothing that can be explained through 4dimentional logic. It seems to be an argument of first cause. However if there was a first cause it would exist outside of 4 th dimentinal logic, which brings one full circle that one cannot prove or disprove a deistic god.
    Is my logic sound?

  62. 62
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @Leon #64:
    I was postulating an alternate universe that might be marginally describable on paper, but antithetical to science in practice, especially from within. That hypothetical universe would have the same origin issues ours does, it just operates differently.

    It’s ‘real’ laws would be equations of motion, mass, etc that are wildly chaotic. PosX(t=1)=5, posX(t=2)=-780444, etc. That universe could have 7 dimensions for all it matters.

    If properties of objects fluctuate randomly across unbounded ranges of values, insiders can’t follow one object from time to time to describe its behavior. The law of identity would have no application in a native’s construct to describe such a place (not that there’d be natives other than infinitesimally-lived Boltzmann brains). There’d be no stable landmarks, so no means of determining distance, etc.
     

    the “logic” of time

    I assume you mean causality. No causality to be found there either, attributes might occasionally appear to react to each other, but it’d be the kind of false stability you’d get from string of heads on a flipped coin.
     
     
    Back to our universe, where gaps in our knowlege have no history of may yet shelter a lesser degree of absurdity…
     
    That’s the most sense I can make out of what amounts to

    “Induction only appears to work, but it’s philosophically unjustified. It’s really because my magic buddy has been stringing you along! By definition he’ll ‘solve’ all your philosophical problems if you assert him too. If you don’t, your unsound logic is unacceptable to me.”

    And yeah, at best it’s deism, needlessly shuffling properties of our universe to a first cause and naming it Yahweh. Normally it’s existence. For presuppositionalism, the property is regularity.

  63. 63
    Roxanne

    Great episode! I always love it when you guys cover counter apologetics. If you’re still looking for female exmormons, then I would love to talk with you guys. If not then I’ll be looking forward to your next podcast.

  64. 64
    johnmoriarty

    I’ve been considering Hume on induction and think that’s relevant to your podcast.

    Thought experiment: As we proceed in speech or writing, we must usually assume our brain and that of the listener will be as regularly functioning while thinking or writing the end of the sentence as it was at the start. Is there no choice but to be inductive towards states of mind and being at the finish of an utterance not yet complete? I think not, therefore I am right. Oops.

    Therefore because all communication assumes induction as regards its process, so no content can be properly deduced; they are inseparable.

    Therefore no worthwhile distinction can be made by humans, between inductive thought, and other types.

    Maybe it would be just as correct and even simpler to state that all thought is inductive inasmuch as we constantly think to the future, which as we all know has no absolutes.

    I think it a complete waste to expend a lot of time questioning the regularity of the natural laws for the reason stated. It hardly matters if induction is justified inductively, there cannot be any alternative. We exist in time and space, and are locked in with no way out. Dammit induction is not a problem, it’s INESCAPABLY embedded in all of us!

    The statement “we must always be making assumptions” does not contradict itself even as it makes its own assumption.

  65. 65
    Leon

    CompulsoryAccount7746:
    So basically they have have to find a way to assert that there must be a world without causality in order to make a argument of first cause for the laws of logic to be founded on. It seems to be deductive reasoning shrouded in inductive language.

  66. 66
    johnmoriarty

    A few thoughts contra TAG:
    No apologies for the emotional tone BTW. The logic is still there.

    Let’s say you follow the sport of boxing: Best way to deal with TAGgers is put them in a room with some mad mullah, sit back and enjoy. Their argument boils down to my faith is better than your faith cos it’s TRUE, and furthermore you’re deluded into thinking yours is.

    If one of them were to win the resulting war of attrition, well THAT proves the other guy was fake.

    Or apply the sanity test:

    Say you are a soldier in the army of Yeeha, do you:
    Option 1:-
    a) bash that baby’s skull on a rock and get the blessing?
    b) Then sign yourself into a lunatic asylum?

    OR, Option 2:
    Why not get psychiatric help BEFORE you land in that situation?

    I really think true believers ought do this exercise, because IMHO it’s the most pointed dilemma of faith.

  67. 67
    Leon

    “We exist in time and space, and are locked in with no way out. Dammit induction is not a problem, it’s INESCAPABLY embedded in all of us!”

    Dito…

  68. 68
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @Leon #68:

    So basically they have have to find a way to assert that there must be a world without causality in order to make a argument of first cause for the laws of logic to be founded on.

    Pretty much.
     
    Excerpts of a random post by C.L. Bolt:

    By his own admission, he cannot know anything through science and is unreasonable in his use of induction. After all the fuss that has been made it turns out that Mitch falls right back into the grip of the Problem of Induction. Why does Mitch expect his next glass of water to remain water anymore than he expects it to turn into merlot?
    [...]
    The God of the Bible has communicated to us. The Word of God is the final authority, it cannot be held up to a higher authority. [...] God does not change, does not lie, governs the world and hence justifies our use of induction through causing creation to exhibit non-absolute regularities and fashioning our minds in such a way that they function in accordance with the operations of nature with the result that we come to know His world though not necessarily with certainty. [...] It is not only impossible for me to give up my presupposition as has been clearly shown in the confusion Mitch offers in response to an old problem of philosophy, it would also be sinful for me to do so.
    [...]
    Mitch is showing himself to be incapable of rejecting my worldview without losing his claims to knowledge and rationality. [...] Having made this clear I would call upon Mitch to turn from his would-be lordship over himself and submit instead to the Lordship of Christ Jesus of Scripture who upholds the universe by His power, was crucified for sins, buried, and raised again on the third day in accordance with Scripture.

    Using the Muslim Ghazali’s modification of pagan Platos’ metaphysics to defend a deist god, that doesn’t change or lie, who commissioned a collection of Jewish folklore depicting the Yahweh character (retconned as Jesus in sequels), who both changed and lied repeatedly. And since the deity’s in charge of everything, maintaining the book’s accuracy falls within its purview.

    Yessir the induction riddle’s totally not a red herring. Presuppositionalism’s just a matter of honestly waiting for someone to offer a gapless position to trade-up into. And when you come up with that, I’m sure the whole “concluding the deity doesn’t exist is a sin” thing won’t be an issue…

  69. 69
    Andrew Ryan

    “Why does Mitch expect his next glass of water to remain water anymore than he expects it to turn into merlot?”

    That’s supposed to be a problem? I can understand someone saying that water turning into wine is evidence for God. It takes a brass neck to say that it REMAINING water is also evidence for God.

    I just ‘debated’ CL Bolt at his site. He dedicated a whole blog to arguing that it’s absurd for an atheist to argue against theism since he doesn’t believe in it. This from a theist who has filled umpteen blog posts arguing against atheism. Apparently that’s not the same though… Among his more interesting claims was that religiosity makes a person no more likely to reject evolution or an old earth than atheism. In other words it’s just complete coincidence that the vast majority of people who believes in a young earth or reject evolution are also religious. He also claimed there’s nothing in the bible that condones beating slaves.

    All this was argued with a wearying snotty tone, together with threats that any rudeness on my part would get me banned from posting. Given that, and my suspicion that he was posting deliberately ludicrous arguments just to troll me into continued posting, I suggesting that I’d given his site enough extra hits, and that if he wanted to continue the conversation he could post here again.

    I’m guessing he won’t, but I’d be happy to engage him again if he does.

  70. 70
    philstilwell

    C. L. Bolt says…

    “Why does Mitch expect his next glass of water to remain water anymore than he expects it to turn into merlot?”

    Because Mitch is rational. He has learned from experience that what happens with greater frequency in the past is more likely to happen in the future.

    This is no gaurantee of the truth behind the matter; the water may indeed turn into wine. But the rational position is to follow success; in this case, the success of previous suspicions that the water will remain water, and the success of this inductive process in the scientific method and technological advances that have culminated in the intricate tangle of working technology today.

    To believe contrary to inductive experience is irrational since it requires the unparsimonious addition of a deceiver manipulating appearances.

    The question is not what is true. The question is what is rational. The truth may be we are a brain in a vat, but we are rational in believing we are not if the deception is as consistent as is induction.

    Our confidence in induction is based on 1) the fact that to abandon it leads to absurdities, 2) the fact that, by all rational accounts, it works, and 3) it is far more parsimoneous than supposing there is some deceiver intentionally leading us into falsehood. (A deeper argument supporting this is that, the more necessary ontological nodes you introduce into an ontic web of relations, the more likelihood there is of logical decohesion.)

    The absolute truth is inaccessible to us, but the degree of rationality we possess compels us to accept induction as an honest indicator of probable truths.

  71. 71
    Andrew Ryan

    If you believe God gave us logic, is it blasphemous to make completely illogical arguments?

    Bolt’s argument against the claim that theism makes people more likely to reject evolution is that a) not every theist is a creationist and b) some atheists don’t think evolution should be taught in classrooms.

    This would work great as an argument to allow drunk driving. a) Not every drunk driver crashes his car; b) Sober people also crash cars. Ergo – there’s no correlation at all between consumption of alcohol and decreased driving ability!

  72. 72
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @Andrew Ryan #72:

    deliberately ludicrous arguments just to troll

    Theist apologetics in a nutshell.

  73. 73
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Bwahaha
    Video: SMBC – Death

  74. 74
    C.L. Bolt

    “That’s supposed to be a problem?”

    Yes and it has been recognized as such in philosophy for hundreds of years.

    “I just ‘debated’ CL Bolt at his site.”

    Emphasis on the quotation marks. I do formal debates. I was just responding to your comments.

    “He dedicated a whole blog to arguing that it’s absurd for an atheist to argue against theism since he doesn’t believe in it.”

    That was not the argument of the blog post.

    “This from a theist who has filled umpteen blog posts arguing against atheism. Apparently that’s not the same though…”

    That’s right, it’s not.

    “Among his more interesting claims was that religiosity makes a person no more likely to reject evolution or an old earth than atheism.”

    All that work and you still don’t get it. Andrew, do you remember me telling you that the post is not about “religiosity,” but rather theism? And secondly, that’s right, theism does not make a person any more likely to reject evolution or an “old” earth. You have a very narrow understanding of theism.

    “In other words it’s just complete coincidence that the vast majority of people who believes in a young earth or reject evolution are also religious.”

    Not only does that not follow from what was just said, but it was not my claim either.

    “He also claimed there’s nothing in the bible that condones beating slaves.”

    You are either mistaken or lying. I never made that claim. I did make the claim that the text you quoted did not condone slavery, but even that was peripheral to your false comment about that text. If you look in the comments you even have another atheist correcting you.

    “…my suspicion that he was posting deliberately ludicrous arguments just to troll me into continued posting”

    Yes it was all about you. ? No it was not ludicrous.

    “I suggesting that I’d given his site enough extra hits, and that if he wanted to continue the conversation he could post here again.”

    And you bowed out, leaving the questions from Rhology unanswered. It’s extremely odd to suggest that someone go to another site (here) to debate two posts that were never made on that site but rather were made on the original site (CH) and had already been discussed there. Why on earth would you want to do that?

    You have been anything but honest in your comment above, and I am fairly confident you know that. I am not going to debate posts that I wrote at CH on someone else’s website. Not only is it terribly confusing, but it’s somewhat disrespectful to the site owners. It is irrelevant to this post.

  75. 75
    Andrew R

    ” I did make the claim that the text you quoted did not condone slavery,”

    A pointless claim to make, as I never said the text DID condone slavery! You’re either being dishonest or deliberately obfuscating. To refresh your memory, the contention was over whether the bible condoned the BEATING of slaves.

    “Not only does that not follow from what was just said, but it was not my claim either.”

    Great, then you effectively concede my point that someone who wishes to defend the science of evolution or an old earth is behaving rationally to argue against a belief system that makes people more likely to reject those scientific ideas.

  76. 76
    Andrew R

    “And you bowed out, leaving the questions from Rhology unanswered”

    You’re the one who keeps claiming lack of time, how many questions am I supposed to answer? Give Rhology my email address – if he’s desperate for answers he can contact me and I will send him a considered response. On a delayed response board like yours I have no idea if my replies will appear or be read if they do get published.

    “All that work and you still don’t get it. Andrew, do you remember me telling you that the post is not about “religiosity,” but rather theism?”

    Replace the first word with the second in my posts and my point remains exactly the same, regardless of whether you dispute the point itself. Theists are still more likely to reject evolution than atheists. How many atheists out there with alternative theories for the diversity of life on our planet?

  77. 77
    Andrew R

    Weren’t Rhology’s questions things like ‘why bother feeling pleasure rather than pain?’. Odd question! Most people figure that, by definition, pain is quite unpleasant, whereas pleasure is, er, nice. You might as well ask why someone would want to be happy. He also asked what justice and morality are. Whole books have been written on both, so forgive me for not tapping out a paragraph on both on my lunch break. Suffice to say that inserting a God into the equation doesn’t solve any problems Rhology might see in a materialistic explanation of either. I’ve looked on Rhology’s site and people are explaining just that to him at the moment. If the man himself joins that conversation, I might pitch in myself.

  78. 78
    C.L. Bolt

    lol

    Why do you insist on dragging this out on a website that has nothing to do with the posts in question? I’m not going to do that.

    http://www.choosinghats.com/2012/03/atheist-andrews-misreading-of-exodus-2120-21-on-beating-slaves/

  79. 79
    Ryan

    Hey guys,

    The links to Mitch LeBlanc’s work are dead. I have authored something on the presuppositionalist arguments here:
    http://aigbusted.blogspot.com/2010/02/refuting-presuppositionalism.html

  80. 80
    Andrew R

    Lol indeed, I’m not posting on your site any more, least of all on a thread which basically says “Andrew is wrong” in its thread title and then opens with a lie – I’m no fan boy of Richard Dawkins. I’ve already answered you; if you’re saying you can’t reply here that’s fine – I’ll use your own words and say “You’re bowing out; I don’t blame you”.

  81. 81
    Andrew Ryan

    And by the way, I think it’s quite ‘on topic’ to discuss pre-suppositionalist subjects with pre-suppositionalists on a thread about pre-suppositionalist apologetics.

  82. 82
    johnmoriarty

    Alas it gets tedious to read when civility starts wearing thin. no wonder boxing matches have referees.

  83. 83
    Andrew Ryan

    Well the only thing worse that boxing match without a referee is when one of the pugilists IS the referee – hence why in some circumstances I’m wary of moderated boards where you’re “debating” (for want of a better word) the moderator.

    Those circumstances is where the mod/opponent starts scattering their posts with irrelevant machismo of the “You’re obviously ignorant on this subject” variety. This gives me the option of a) Ignoring those comments b) Leaving them to it or c) Figure that that is the kind of discussion they’re after, and start chucking it back at them.

    When I choose option c (you’ve got to do something to keep things interesting when their arguments stop being any kind of challenge), they’ll often say “Show me respect or I’ll chuck you off my board!”. Then I invite them to continue the discussion on neutral ground.

  84. 84
    Leon

    Thanks CompulsoryAccount7746, It’s good to know that my layman logic holds up. Now I’m just left wondering that if a simpleton such as I can reach that conclusion… Where the hell is Dr. William Lane Craig?

  85. 85
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @leon #87:

    It’s good to know that my layman logic holds up.

    For completeness, I’ll connect the dots a little further.

    If gods are to be required for objects exhibiting consistent behavior, objects first can’t be allowed to do that on their own, hence the absurd universe. Gods can then optionally take on the role of my hypothetical laws’ random number generator, nudging particles around at a whim, but sometimes appearing to follow recognizable patterns near other particles.
     
    If an absurd universe were impossible, this would just be a classic first cause of existence argument.
     
    “The End of Induction is Nigh” proclaims we are living in such a world (miracles and lovecraftian horrors might take place any moment now). We only think the universe follows consistent laws and is amenible to induction because induction has worked in the past.
     
    And by “worked”, I mean led to “true” theories that, regardless of their means, match well enough with “True” patterns to yield tangible results. Actually knowing “True” patterns would mean having the most accurate theory possible and accounting for all unobserved and even unobservable objects. If the “Truth” is absurdity, the best possible theory predicts nothing because it’s all an external agent’s whim or state variables are unmeasurable.
     
    The only useful course is to make induction-based “true” theories as if the universe weren’t absurd: you’ll at least live more comfortanbly before transmogrifying into a flower pot. To assume otherwise is to give up on reality altogether, waiting to spontaneously become a whale. To accept both absurdity AND the likelihood of science working in the future, you have to presume gods have OCD, deceptively hiding the absurdity forever and making themselves functionally irrelevant. Deism is having an invisible friend who won’t play with you.
     

    Now I’m just left wondering that if a simpleton such as I can reach that conclusion… Where the hell is Dr. William Lane Craig?

    Article: arguing that as long as God gives the thumbs-up, it’s okay to kill pretty much anybody.
     
    * Video: Hitchhiker’s Guide reference

  86. 86
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Oh that segues into AronRa’s latest lecture…
    Video: YouTube – Reasonable Faith

  87. 87
    Jon H

    I’ve been thinking it over, and I’m confused as to how God saves us from the problem of induction. I mean, it certainly gives us a possible answer, but I don’t know how we could prove that it’s the correct answer, which seems to be the biggest question at hand.

    I’ve seen prepositionalists bring up Russel’s chicken and farmer, but I don’t see why God couldn’t be like the farmer, just waiting to pull the rug out from under us.

    Sure, you can appeal to the bible, personal revelation, and so forth, but to me that’s just like the chicken appealing to the fact that the farmer takes care of it. The full force of the argument is that no amount of evidence can ultimately prove our assumptions.

    I apologize if this isn’t particularly insightful, it’s just been on my mind.

  88. 88
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @Jon H #90:

    I’m confused as to how God saves us from the problem of induction. I mean, it certainly gives us a possible answer,

    Play the X-of-the-gaps game, defining X as whatever makes problems go away and itself doesn’t need explaining. Then never think on it again.

    but I don’t know how we could prove that it’s the correct answer, which seems to be the biggest question at hand.

    You can’t. That’s why the god assertion’s part of presuppositionalism house rules. By imagination, chance, or direct revelation (via puppetmastered neurons), you get the notion and choose to stick by it just in case it’s correct. Unless someone else can make a case for something with no gaps at all, X wins by default so long as you don’t mind having an ‘answer’ that tells you nothing useful.

    Why epistemological nihilism would be appealing is a matter for social psychology.

  89. 89
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @Jon H #90 cotd:
    Empiricism recognizes it might be possible that the universe is absurd, but that there’s no advantage in taking preemptive action on that contingency. Induction will be useful as long as it remains so, whatever the underlying reason, if any.
     
    Presupposing an OCD deist god in that gap is asserting beyond available evidence that absurdity won’t happen, betting that being wrong won’t matter.
     
    Presupposing a capricious theist god in that gap is asserting a dickish trickster who may well “pull the rug out from under us” with miracles for believers and inconsistencies to thwart arrogant scientists. It’d make anything possible, including cherished fairy tales.

  90. 90
    felixmeister

    I was in the middle of a discussion with Mr Bolt over on choosing hats when he closed off almost all the current posts to comments.
    Which is itself perfectly fine as it is his forum, but, I find it a little disturbing that he did so straight _after_ posting his own replies.

    So if it is not too much of an imposition I will respond to him here tomorrow.

    In the meantime I would like to ask why is so much much time being devoted to the presuppositional argument?
    It seems to me that the first premise is subject to a falsifiable test.
    In that:
    If it is impossible to have knowledge of anything with a specific or non-specific deity.
    It then follows that if it is possible to have knowledge of just one thing, no matter what it is, the premise is invalidated.
    And since it is possible to know that I exist, it is therefore not necessary to presuppose any deity for the existence of knowledge and hence logic et-al.

    Does this follow or am I missing some fundamental point of the presuppositional argument?

  91. 91
    Andrew R

    Felix, that’s why I stopped posting there. Most moderated boards start allowing your posts to appear automatically after you’ve posted a few times. I noticed Bolt would generally only allow your posts to appear after he’d got his response already written, so he could always give himself the last word. If he believes in his arguments he can post his responses here.

  92. 92
    felixmeister

    Response to: C.L. Bolt March 11, 2012 at 2:24 am

    “Yes, as I have repeatedly said, the text does not address that. It also does not address NASCAR or bunny rabbits.
    While the keeping of slaves is a similar topic to that of punishments for murdering slaves,
    neither the keeping of slaves nor NASCAR nor bunny rabbits are mentioned in the text.”

    The text of Exodus 21:20-21 addresses the punishment for the beating of slaves that one owns if those slaves die from that beating within a day or two.
    There is an implication that if an individual is beating slaves that the individual owns, then that individual owns slaves and therefore the text _is_ addressing that.
    If there is a condemnation of the owning of slaves then there is no need to ascribe punishment to the slave owner for the beating of slaves as such punishment is covered by the covenants regarding the beating of other individuals in general. Otherwise, the slave and slave owner are therefore considered to be different within the eyes of this law which then therefore implies that slave and slave owner are accepted stations within that society as if they are not accepted the distinction becomes meaningless.
    The text of Exodus 21:20-21 would then need be read within the context of Exodus 21 itself.
    The specific text of Exodus 21:20-21 implicitly condones slavery by the specification of a slave as the owners property (money).
    To determine if implication is bourne out one must examine the remainder of Exodus 21 to determine the condemnation xor approval xor neutrality of the attitude towards slavery.
    I the remainder of the passage it can be clearly seen that not only is slavery is condoned there are specifics as to how one can and cannot become or aquire slaves.
    The remainder of the text does not however mention NASCAR or bunny rabbits so it can safely be assumed

    “And I am not arguing that Scripture does not, outside of this text, “condone” slavery. It just is not relevant to Andrew’s obvious blunder.”

    This text, as I have shown above must nessecarily taken into consideration the text leading up to it in which it clearly noted the specifics of the obtaining and keeping of slaves
    The specifics of punishment for the beating of a slave to death which is the subject of Andrew’s obvious blunder are as such:
    If you beat your slave to death then you will be avenged unless that slave is alive after a day or two.
    1. Slave is not beaten.
    2. Slave is beaten.
    3. Slave is beaten and dies within 1 day
    4. Slave is beaten and dies after 2 days.
    In the above 3 situations only 2 requires punishment or avengeing in which case unless there is something else mentioned in the text surounding Exodus 21:20-21 it can safely be presumed that these are as they have no punishment ascribed to them.

    It can be safely assumed to be condoned because if there are proscriptions placed upon certain behaivours then other behaivours that are not proscibed are therefore deemed to be acceptable or condoned.

  93. 93
    felixmeister

    Response to:BK March 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    (Which has been awaiting moderation since Mar 10th)

    felixmeister March 10, 2012 at 11:49 am
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    “In conclusion, perhaps a simpler claim will make this easier for you to understand. Let’s say that a particular diety – D – claims that all people believe it exists. Is it possible for the atheist to be passive and claim mere unbelief in this diety? Obviously not. The honest atheist would have to say “I believe this particular diety does not exist”. Why? Because the atheist claims a lack of belief in any diety at all, so obviously such a diety as this could not exist (according to the atheist), as if it did, the atheist *would* believe it existed. The thought exercise is designed in such a way as to disallow for any neutrality on the issue.”

    The problem is that a particular diety is not claiming that all people believe it exists. Some people are claiming that certains books were authoured directly or indirectly by the diety and that those books claim that all people believe in this diety.
    As a claim the burden of proof lies first upon the people who claim those books are directly or indirectly authoured by the diety to show such, and then upon the the diety itself to show good reason that all people believe it exists.
    Which in itself is falsifiable.

  94. 94
    felixmeister

    And finally:
    Response to: C.L. Bolt March 11, 2012 at 2:08 am

    “Just to be clear, there are many atheists who make arguments against the concept of God and/or gods.”

    Which, as I demonstrated, is a perfectly rational course of action.
    Making arguments against the concept of god/s if one feels/believes/thinks they do not exist is not only rational but to not do so is in itself not rational.

  95. 95
    felixmeister

    And again apologies to all for filling up this blog with crap directed at another blog. If you find this to be unacceptable please do not hesitate to delete.
    (but if you could email me the text of the comments I would be quite grateful)

    BTW I have come to this blog by way of the excellent Goodness Over God & Fundamentally Flawed podcasts who I have noticed frequent these pages, and as such have subscribed to RD podcast and will start working my way through them :)

  96. 96
    M S

    Is this argument by Dr. Alvin Plantinga of Notre Dame a pre-suppositionalist argument?

    He argues that no combination of naturalism, evolution, and materialism can provide a basis for logical argument. My critique of his argument with pointers to key portions is below, but I’m wondering if I’m just falling into the trap that your counter-apologetics segment described of not addressing the core of pre-suppositionalism.

    —-

    “Elephants don’t play chess” by Rodney Brooks explains multi-agent
    systems.
    You may disagree with his argument in 3.1, but it is a well-written
    paper that explains the ideas behind multi-agent systems as
    fault-tolerant decision frameworks and if you’re not familiar with
    that field, it may shine some light on the role that organization
    dynamics play in filtering arguments and the difference in time-scales
    between belief formation and adaptation.

    If I understand his argument, he advances his thesis at 2:28.

    If you take a given belief, say any particular belief on the part of one of these creatures and ask “what is the probability given that naturalism, evolution, and materialism that the belief is true?” It’s got to be fairly close to 50/50. It’ll be likely to be true as false.

    Why does it have to be 50/50?

    The argument that natural selection will weed out maladaptive
    behaviors and therefore our beliefs are incidental to the behaviors
    may apply when natural selection has had time to do its job, but it
    does not apply when natural selection has not had time.

    Would a creature that has a greater likelihood of producing and
    retaining true beliefs not have a survival advantage over a creature
    that produces false beliefs when those beliefs involve a new niche
    that natural selection has not had time to produce adaptive behaviors
    for?

    If beliefs can give rise to novel behavior patterns more quickly than
    evolution, and true beliefs are more likely to give rise to adaptive
    behaviors than false beliefs, then there is reason to suppose that a
    material brain that produces true beliefs more often than not has
    adaptive value for his hypothetical Arcturans.

    I have a less serious quibble with what he said at 6:50:

    You can’t give an argument for your cognitive faculties being reliable. You can’t give an argument of any sort, really, you’ll already be presupposing them being reliable before giving the argument.

    I think he is ignoring the role that group dynamics play in filtering truth.
    One can always give the argument, one just shouldn’t take one’s own word for it.
    I may be a completely random generator of arguments, but if my
    audience has a way to filter out invalid arguments and false premises
    then they have a sound process for finding true propositions.

    In human society, when a diverse group of people hear an argument and
    each brings their own knowledge to the table, you effectively have a
    multi-agent system. No single agent produces a very clear signal as
    to whether the argument is valid or rests on true premises, but there
    are ways of aggregating those signals to produce a higher fidelity
    signal. Believers in the “invisible hand of the market” believe that
    market economies are one such aggregator, and multi-agent systems
    researchers have other methods.

    At 6:38, he quotes Thomas Reid, “If you want to know whether a
    man tells the truth, the best way to proceed is not to ask him.” I
    know he’s quoting that tongue in cheek, but to continue my point,
    Thomas Reid is wrong. Seasoned interrogators will tell you that the
    best way to tell whether a man *believes* he is telling the truth is
    to ask him many questions over and over and see whether his story
    stays consistent over time. To tell whether he is telling the truth
    requires testing the parts of the story for which you have data, but
    asking is definitely part of the process and observing a sequence of
    decisions by a single agent lets you compute bounds on the reliability
    of that agent.

  97. 97
    Erich

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  98. 98
    Manola

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  99. 99
    C.L. Bolt

    “In the meantime I would like to ask why is so much much time being devoted to the presuppositional argument?”

    You mean like all the time you have spent at my blog posting the same comments that you have reposted here?

    “It seems to me that the first premise is subject to a falsifiable test.”

    Felix, do you actually know what “falsifiable” means or do you just use that word (constantly!) to try and sound smart?

    “In that:
    If it is impossible to have knowledge of anything with a specific or non-specific deity.”

    This is not coherent. You have not stated a full premise. What exactly are you trying to say?

    “It then follows that if it is possible to have knowledge of just one thing, no matter what it is, the premise is invalidated.”

    What premise? Please don’t say the one above, because that is not stated as a premise.

    “And since it is possible to know that I exist, it is therefore not necessary to presuppose any deity for the existence of knowledge and hence logic et-al.”

    Of course it is possible for you to know that you exist. But you cannot know that you exist *in terms of your own worldview*. And yeah, I can show you that. You operate off of “borrowed capital” from the Christian worldview. You were asking a moment ago why so much time is being spent on presup, but you have missed one of the most basic claims of presup.

    “Does this follow or am I missing some fundamental point of the presuppositional argument?”

    No it does not follow. Yes you are missing a fundamental point of the presuppositional argument. See above.

  100. 100
    philstilwell

    I think it’s clear that the presuppositionalist is hoping we spend our time arguing the more complex and nuanced notion undergirding the philosophy of science.

    If you wish to toy with them as a cat would a mouse, that’s fine. But it creates in them (and perhaps others) the illusion that they may have actually conjured up a valid defense of christianity.

    With the very same logic they so vigoriously defend, it is a quick checkmate to demonstrate their redemptive story implodes into incoherent rubbish.

    Google my website “the impossible god” for several arguments, any one of which is sufficient to dispatch the presuppositionalist where it hurts most; their very concept of the “gospel”. You’ll find they’ll refuse to debate you on the very redemptive story they claim is core to their beleif system, and instead prefer to play zenoesque games elsewhere.

  101. 101
    Andrew Ryan

    Bolt: “You mean like all the time you have spent at my blog posting the same comments that you have reposted here?”

    Ah (in your own words), the tu quoque fallacy!

    Anyway, you can hardly have a pop at felixmeister for re-posting comments here when you closed comments at your own blog after giving yourself the last word.

  102. 102
    C.L. Bolt

    No Andrew, that’s not the tu quoque fallacy.

    Yes Andrew, on my site, I have the last word.

    No Andrew, all of the comments on my site were not closed, and in fact what Felix has been posting here is up at my site now.

  103. 103
    andrew R

    Do you fancy then explaining what your point was here, and how it was supposed to be a reply to Felix’s question?

    Felix: “In the meantime I would like to ask why is so much much time being devoted to the presuppositional argument?”

    Bolt: “You mean like all the time you have spent at my blog posting the same comments that you have reposted here?”

    Bolt: “No Andrew, all of the comments on my site were not closed”

    I didn’t say ALL of the comments. I just said “you closed comments at your own blog after giving yourself the last word”. If any thread might get closed at any moment, you can’t be surprised that people don’t trust the it as a forum, and wish to repost elsewhere at a site you do not control.

  104. 104
    Andrew Ryan

    Parse this sentence:

    “Bill chopped down trees in his forest”.

    Do you take that to mean that Bill chopped down every single tree in the forest? I’d guess not.

    So why do you think you can refute the statement: “you closed comments at your own blog after giving yourself the last word” by claiming that you didn’t close every single thread?

    Sure, you’ve got the right to give yourself the last word on your own site, but equally others have the right to continue posting and reposting elsewhere.

    “In fact what Felix has been posting here is up at my site now”

    Neither here nor there: you’ve already ended previous conversations at moments of your own choosing, so he knows you’re likely to do the same on any new threads. It’s kind of like having a race with someone, but they’re claiming the right to randomly announce at any moment when it’s over. Given that, it’s quite sensible for people to re-post elsewhere. You seem to have control issues.

  105. 105
    felixmeister

    “Felix, do you actually know what “falsifiable” means or do you just use that word (constantly!) to try and sound smart?”

    I’m fairly sure that something can be said to be falsifiable if it makes a prediction that can be tested to be true or false or there exists something that would show it to be false.

    And yes I have a bad habit of saying falsifiable test when what I mean is a test of whether something is false given that thing is falsifiable. I apologise, it still does not follow that

    In this case the Premise:
    Without a specific christian god it is not possible to have knowledge.

    Makes a prediction that without justification in reference to the christian god it is not possible to know anything.

    Therefore if there is a least one thing that we can know without needing to explain how we know it by reference to the christian god then it is false.

    In another way that you may prefer:
    A. It is stated as a premise of the transcendental argument for the the existence of god, that without a specific christian god it is not possible to have knowledge.

    B. If there is anything that can be known without needing to justify it by reference to that christian god then it is possible to have knowledge without that christian god

    C. There is a least one thing that we can know without needing to justify it by reference to that christian god.

    D. Therefore it is possible to have knowledge without that specific christian god.

    It is possible to know this within the terms of my own worldview or even within worldviews predating the many christian ones.

    Thank you for approving the posts lingering in the limbo of awaiting moderation. Although not everything here which I have been posting is up at your site now given that I was unable to respond to the preceding comments before the threads were closed.

  106. 106
    Andrew Ryan

    Felix, can you keep posting your responses here too, please?

    I checked for your posts at the Choosing Hats website a few times, but they’re never flagged up on the ‘Recent Posts’ part of the site. This is presumably because the moderators only allow them to pass when the mods have several of their own responses to post, meaning that ‘Recent Posts’ generally only consists of Mod posts.

    CL Bolt, I have now addressed Rhology’s questions on his own website. He gave up before I did. He’s welcome to do that, but you can no longer claim I was running from his questions.

    Finally, CL Bolt, do you care to explain, if your answer here to Felix was not a “well, you’re doing it too” dig, what exactly the relevance of your response was?

    Felix: “In the meantime I would like to ask why is so much much time being devoted to the presuppositional argument?”

    CL Bolt: “You mean like all the time you have spent at my blog posting the same comments that you have reposted here?”

    If it was a general complaint about the reposting, how is that relevant to Felix’s question about spending time on the presup argument?

    If not that, then it seems you WERE saying “You’re devoting time to the argument yourself”, in which case that IS the Tu quoque fallacy, “the appeal to hypocrisy, a logical fallacy that attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting his failure to act consistently in accordance with that position”.

  107. 107
    Felice

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  108. 108
    Ken

    I enjoy the podcast very much. Thank you. I’m listening to your comments about the birth control debate. I don’t understand how the government or insurance not paying for something is the same as taking it away. Women need birth control? So that’s why someone else should pay for it? Why won’t the government or my insurance company cover my wife’s food and water? The lack of those two items will affect her health more than anything else.

    BTW, even if President Obama has his way, birth control won’t be free. We’re all going to pay for it.

  109. 109
    LykeX

    even if President Obama has his way, birth control won’t be free. We’re all going to pay for it.

    And then we’ll all be getting several times the amount spent back in saved health care costs.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/03/19/birth-control-saves-money-again/

  110. 110
    Lillah

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  111. 111
    Leo

    But UrbanPhilosophy links are broken! Please, provide a mirror.

  112. 112
    felixmeister

    As it seems to be taking a while for Mr Bolt to approve this post (I presume 20 days should be enough) I’ll post it here.

    In reply to C.L. Bolt March 20, 2012 at 1:50 am:

    felixmeister March 25, 2012 at 5:21 am
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    First, Steven I don’t mind at all your joining in. In fact, if there are issues you discover in my postings please don’t hesitate to point them out.

    “Felix responds that no one sets or enforces the laws of nature or logic since they are not laws that can be broken. But I would like to submit that, for example, the laws of logic are broken all the time. Especially by atheists. Is Felix really suggesting that no one is ever illogical? All sorts of absurdities follow.”

    I would submit that no, the laws, as you say, are not broken. One may describe an illogical situation, do or say something that seems illogical. But, in the second case, that is only due to the fact that either the initial conditions are not completely known or are incorrectly posited. In the first case logic is not ‘broken’ as that illogical situation has not actually occurred.

    I am surprised though that you used this idea. For if it was, as you submit, that the laws of logic are broken all the time, there could be no absolute authority ensuring that they work at all times.

    “And yet, Felix goes on to explicitly affirm that, “We are not obliged in any way to follow them.” Well there you have it. An atheist who thinks he is above the principles of logic.”

    No, that is not what I said. I said we are not obliged in any way to follow LAWS of logic as some transcendent rule that is enforced by an external authority.
    But you conveniently ignored the rest of the sentence “, but to not address the way things actually work when describing or acting upon the world simply doesn’t allow you act in any meaningful way.”

    “Not an overly surprising opinion in my experience, but not overly persuasive or rational either. He has lost all of his objections to the Christian faith at this point, for according to him, we are not obligated to follow the principles of logic.”

    We are obligated to ourselves and others to be logical in our dealing or interactions or thoughts as to do otherwise renders us unable to interact in a meaningful way.

    “Bringing it back to the laws of nature, we can say, again following Felix, that the laws of nature cannot be broken. But why can’t they be broken? That was the gist of my question. And further, why does Felix go on to imply that nature itself is not “obliged” in any way to follow the laws of nature? Why does Felix think his computer will remain a computer and not turn into a man-eating piranha as he reads this line?”

    They cannot be broken by nature because they _are_ nature, and as I said previously we merely categorise, quantify, describe and collate how nature works and interacts into those things you describe as laws of logic, science, and maths, which all serve to describe how nature/the universe works.
    As I have been, seemingly very badly, trying to explain is that you are making a category error.
    You are confusing what you think of as laws, ie rules imposed upon something by an outside agent, with what are the definitions of what actually happens.

    “According to Felix, what I, “define as laws of nature and logic are not laws, they are our attempts to describe the part of the universe that we can test and verify,” but again I would ask how we “test” or “verify” something like, for example, the principle of non-contradiction or for that matter the principle of the uniformity of nature.”

    One way we can do this is to show the apparent breakdown of it.
    This is quite simple so I apologise in advance.
    If something (a) is a particle P(a) it is not a wave ~W(a).
    If something (a) is a wave W(a) it is not a particle ~P(a).
    P(a) -> ~W(a)
    W(a) -> ~P(a)

    A photon (ph) is a particle. P(ph)
    A photon is a wave. W(ph)

    So we end up with:
    P(ph) -> ~W(ph)
    W(ph) -> ~P(ph)

    Which does not make sense. This though, is not a category error. It can be shown that the properties of particles do not allow them to act as waves and vice-versa. Photons can be demonstrated to be waves and they can be demonstrated to act as particles. (and annoyingly enough, both at the same time – but that’s completely outside of this)
    The solution, is that when they are observed as being particles they act as particles and when being observed as waves they act as waves. This is due to the fact that the very observation of these quanta forces them into a specific state. Observation in this case does not have to be a person, just something that can detect the thing being observed, like a photographic plate or some other detector. You cannot observe something without effecting it in some way, it’s just not possible.

    So what does this say about the non-contradiction? Is it that it is only in ‘effect’ when there is no observation upon something (which really never happens except within the realm of the individual isolated quanta)? If so, then we could reliably say that non-contradiction is only apparent where there is interaction (which as I noted above, does not – to our perception – ever actually happen) and so supports the premise that these so called ‘laws’ are our descriptions of what actually happens and not some transcendental rule imposed upon reality.

    At this point I would expect you to respond with the – but how can you know that this will continue to work into the future and did prior to now. I would say that you cannot completely know this but can be reasonably justified in presuming it was and will continue, given the knowledge that we currently have and most specifically that we can determine when and where certain ‘laws’ do break down which enables us to proscribe those areas.

    “In all of the history of philosophy no one has ever accomplished either of these tasks. Additionally, Felix destroys his foundation for saying anything once again by relegating laws of logic to the descriptive realm. If laws of logic are merely descriptive of, say, the way that people think, then there is no distinction between logical and illogical thinking.”

    Well, no, they aren’t merely descriptive of how people think, they are descriptive of how things actually work. The difference between logical & illogical thinking, is that the former reflects how the world/universe/nature works and the later does not.

    “Felix goes on to concede that he does not account for the laws of logic and science. He writes, “I think what you are asking here is for how I account for the ‘laws of logic and science’, that’s the thing, I don’t.” Amen.”

    Mmmm, again you seem to have missed the qualification to that sentence. I can account for what you describe as the ‘laws’ of nature, either by myself or by reference to those who have tested & defined them prior to myself. You seem to think that there is some big rulebook that can be peeked into once in a while, within which resides these laws. There is no such thing – there is just what is, and our limited ways of describing them. What you call laws of reality are just the descriptions of what you and others have ‘seen’ to actually occur. And these ‘laws’ are revised when we are able to understand more of how the reality we inhabit actually works.

    “He then goes off into vague generalizations about “reality” as though this solves any of the particular problems in philosophy that I have brought against his view.”

    It wasn’t a vague generalisation it was a statement that you seem to think that reality isn’t really real unless its existence and working can be accounted for. I exist, I can be reasonably sure that others exist as they quite uniformly act and react as one would expect and act outside of my perceptions. What they inform me about what I perceive, is generally in agreement and I can use that to test that what I perceive is generally correct. Where it differs actually informs one about the nature of one’s reality and in what ways our perceptions can be fooled.

    “Again Felix concedes the underlying point of my questions concerning how on earth Felix allegedly perceives the principle of non-contradiction and other similar principles. He writes, “Of course there is no significantly meaningful answer to these questions, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say.” In other words, he claims that he perceives the laws of logic, and when I ask some questions about how he does so, he retorts that there is, “no significantly meaningful answer to these questions.” “

    Um, no. I said, in response to each of the following:
    “So I must ask, with which of your five senses did you perceive the ‘principle of non-contradiction’?”
    I perceive it by testing and defining.

    In this response I was too flippant, I was trying to re-iterate the previous statement that one does not perceive the laws or principles as such, but the evidence of how they present themselves.

    “What does the principle look like?” “Where can I go to perceive all of the other logical principles in the universe?”
    You can go anywhere you would like, you are just defining what actually occurs.

    “I would submit that there is no significantly meaningful answer to these questions.”

    The reason why there is no significantly meaningful answer to the question of how does one perceive the principle of X or of Y, is that it tells us nothing meaningful to have that answer.

    I did not concede the underlying point, I perceive these ‘laws’ of logic in much the same way you do. I perceive that the world lines up with what I understand to be those principles in the same way you do. As the principles themselves are descriptions they can be perceived as those descriptions. Once again you don’t understand that the law or principle is the description/codification of how things work, not that things work in a particular because the law or principle says so.
    You have it completely back to front. The laws of logic/etc do not tell or make something act according to those laws, they describe how something does or will act.

    “So much the worse for his view. We call this ‘invincible ignorance.’”

    I am not ignoring the evidence presented, I am stating that you are mistaken about the implications of the term law.

    “Felix likewise concedes my point that finite human beings are incapable of experiencing everything that there is to know about logic and mathematics. He writes, “Exactly.” Okay. So…what he previously said is incorrect. He just does not understand that what he previously said is incorrect, even though he concedes my point.”

    I did not concede your point, you conceded my point that it is not possible to understand completely any of these ‘laws’ because they are not laws (in the meaning of some external to our reality set of rules imposed upon our reality) but our description of how things actually work.
    You don’t understand that what you cling to as laws of logic, maths, science, nature etc, are not the same thing as laws that are enforced or imposed upon us. They are our way of being able to interact in a meaningful with the rest of the world.

    “Recall that I wrote, “Let me make sure I understand you correctly. I am interacting with someone on the Internet who is allegedly so intellectually well-off in terms of meta-ethical theory as to be unable to condemn the sexual molestation of little girls, genocide in Darfur, Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and the like as *objectively wrong*? You must not get a lot of dates.”

    With no indication that he has thought about my words for more than a few seconds, Felix fires back that I do not understand him correctly and explains, “I most certainly can and do condemn all of those actions as they are all *subjectively* wrong.” Rather than answering my question Felix accuses me of misunderstanding his position and exchanges my question about what may be considered objectively wrong for what he considers merely subjectively wrong. “

    You asked if you were interacting with someone on the Internet who is intellectually well-off in terms of meta-ethical theory enough to do “X”.

    I said no you do not understand me correctly because I said there is no need to account for absolute or objective ‘laws’ of morality as they do not exist.
    The fact you stated that these things are “merely subjectively wrong” does show that you misunderstood my position. There is nothing ‘merely’ about how wrong those actions are and it is because the consequences are so far reaching and subjectively wrong for so many that I can condemn them heartily.

    “But who cares what Felix subjectively feels is wrong?”

    When did I say that anyone should care what I feel is wrong? Actions and consequences are not just subjective to a single individual.

    “But maybe once again Felix just does not understand the terms being used in this discussion, for he asserts that he recognizes, “that the correctness of a belief or action is dependent upon it’s [sic] consequences, not some arbitrary standard.” A moment ago he was unabashedly defending subjectivism.”

    I was not unabashedly defending subjectivism, I was saying that all moral actions have someone they affect in a subjectively good or bad way (here I mean ‘OR’ not ‘NOR’ and I’ll try to continue that way).
    All actions (or inaction) by a person (in this I mean any entity capable of action) have some consequence. Including those upon others or themselves, immediately or in the future.
    That there is no need to call upon some external standard as all actions can be judged in these ways.

    For your examples above:
    1. This is subjectively wrong for the girls obviously due to the immediate physical or mental harm – long term physical or mental or social harm. It is also subjectively bad for the molester both mentally or socially or physically
    2. The genocide in Darfur was subjectively wrong for everyone killed. It was subjectively wrong for those that committed those actions but was also subjectively right for them in that there were benefits they derived from their actions. It is also subjectively bad for almost everyone who hears or knows about it due to the empathic reaction we will have or the economic cost to those outside and inside of Darfur. There is still though some subjective good, in that the actions prompt others to do something about the situation or make them aware of similar situations or prevent the same occurring again elsewhere.
    3. I could detail the bad and the good in the syphilis study, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

    “Now he is a sort of utilitarian. The good news is that there are plenty of problems with utilitarianism as well. Does Felix want to go down that road now too, or stick with subjectivism? Perhaps it just depends upon how he feels at the moment. In any event, it is laughable that someone who espouses these sorts of views thinks he is in any position to question God.”

    I must admit at this point to little knowledge on the intricacies of subjectivism & utilitarianism, but I’ll have a look into them to see how much of either is suitable to describe my position

    “Felix concludes, “Your immediate jump from me stating that morality is subjective to assuming I am unable to condemn some horrific actions is a little troubling.” I have already noted that Felix conveniently left out what I actually said when he responded to my question.”

    You said objectively wrong, but those actions were all ethically wrong because of how they affect and act upon the victims, the perpetrators and anyone in some way affected. The ‘wrongness’ does not exist independent of them, it is wrong because of its (not using an ipad this time ) affect upon them.

    “Felix claimed he was a moral *subjectivist*.”

    I didn’t actually claim that, I claimed that morality is inherently subjective.
    If I take as correct what subjectivism is, I don’t believe ethical situations for individuals are relative only to themselves or can be applied regardless of circumstances.

    “I asked a question which highlighted the types of evil he cannot condemn as *objectively* wrong. Perhaps Felix does not understand that “subjective” and “objective” are antonyms?”

    I do in my own limited sense understand that subjective is in reference to that which pertains to the perception or affects upon individuals whereas objective is in reference to that outside of the perception or affects upon individuals.

    “Sure Felix can condemn some horrific action as subjectively wrong, but it’s on par with his preferring one type of icecream over another.”

    Condemning some horrific action as subjectively wrong is very much not on par with my preferring one type of ice cream over another. In that case there are very few subjective viewpoints and the effects one way nor another are quite limited. As I demonstrated the effects of the other situations affect a large number of people in highly significant ways.

    “He has no basis upon which to condemn some horrific action as objectively morally wrong.”

    Which I did state is not required as one can condemn a horrific action as morally wrong without needing to justify that condemnation by reference to some absolute.

    “(Again, when I called this to his attention he looked as though he would switch over to some form of utilitarianism.”

    Okay, had a quick look at this and while I would agree that the consideration of actions to be ethical or not is dependent upon their consequences, it seems to miss that merely thinking of something has consequences to ones-self or that one should not only consider how much ‘happiness’ an action causes but also how much ‘badness’ it does. Also I don’t agree that we need to know all the consequences of an action because it’s simply just not possible.

    “Felix confusedly asks, “Do you assume that everyone, unless they explicitly say all their morals derive from some meta-authority, are completely depraved and unable to tell right from wrong?” My answer would be ‘no,’ and there was nothing remotely similar to this idea in my question.”

    I just wanted to be sure on that point. As further to the point that morals are subjective, I don’t see how it is necessary to have objective moral values.

    It is possible at any given time to determine if an action is right or wrong.
    If the right or wrongness of an action is determinable then moral decisions can be made.
    Therefore morals can be derived without requiring objective or absolute moral laws.

    “I think Felix was troubled about my question not because of some alleged philosophical fault on my part, but because Felix tasted a bit of his woefully inadequate meta-ethical theory.”

    I was a little troubled that, if you did say that it was not possible to be moral without reference to absolute moral laws, what you would then think of others who did not.

    I have tried to think of something that could be considered objectively right or wrong but that could not be judged as subjectively right or wrong. If you have any suggestions I would be happy to hear them.

    REPLY
    felixmeister March 27, 2012 at 9:15 am
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Whoops, this: If so, then we could reliably say that non-contradiction is only apparent where there is interaction
    Should be: If so, then we could reliably say that non-contradiction is only not apparent where there is no interaction

    REPLY

  113. 113
    Rhology

    Andrew Ryan said:
    CL Bolt, I have now addressed Rhology’s questions on his own website. He gave up before I did. He’s welcome to do that, but you can no longer claim I was running from his questions.

    You did? Where? When?
    Neither Google nor I remember you.

  114. 114
    Andrew R

    Under the name Stephen B. Yes, that was me. If you’re going to use a pseudonym, I reserve the right to as well! Anyway, I answered your questions there, we had a few posts back and forth, then you apparently moved on. I’m happy to answer any other questions you may have if you want to post them here, or on another board that is moderated by a third party (ie not you, Bolt or one of your mates).

  115. 115
    Rhology

    OK, thanks for letting me know.
    Yes, I dropped that convo b/c I ran out of time and desire. But I can’t deny that the mention of the convo here has helped me get some appetite for it back. Maybe I can try again.

  116. 116
    David Leisure

    My name is David Leisure and I belong to a free thinkers group in Santa Clarita CA. Back in Dec.of 2012 our group was joined by the biology professor of The Master’s Collage, a creationism based institution, in a effort to create a dialogue between them and us as they have a annual symposium on the differences that lay between. Originally they tried to get Michael Shermer, but he was engaged. So our group suggested two of our own, myself (an actor) and another, Richard, a professional personal counselor. Speaking on behalf of the collage would be Douglas Wilson. I was aware that Mr. Wilson had been in several debates with Christopher Hitchens because the collage was promoting a movie made about their relationship called “Collision” and there was an effort made by the producers to film this event also. Fortunately our professor from The Master’s College nixed the idea, as the director seemed to want to create conflict where as the purpose we intended was to open an avenue for dialogue. Even so, John MacArthur, the president of the collage, made a online video encouraging everyone to attend in an effort to show not just that the collage is a viable institution but that everything they do is based on “true” science and the tone was “let’s show those atheists”. I just happened to play golf with a good friend who a counselor, pastor, and formerly had worked at The Master’s Collage when I mentioned the symposium and Douglas Wilson.
    “Douglas Wilson from Idaho who debated Christopher Hitchens?” he asked.
    “Yes” I said.
    “You’re not going to debate him are you” asked my friend.
    “No, I was told it’s just a symposium, a dialogue” I answered.
    “Good! Because if you debate him he’s going to hand you your ass!”

    Okay, so now I’m in my kitchen at home starring out the window unable to sit down because I’m holding my metaphorical ass in my hands thinking to myself “what have I gotten myself into!” But I had a couple of months to prepare. So I ordered a book based on one of Wilson’s and Hitchens debates and watched several online. I also went back to several of Reasonable Doubts episodes and listened to them over and over again. There were many but specifically helpful were episodes on creationism, presuppositionalism (huzza), and debunking DeSousa, looking for arguments, counter apologetics, and taking the advice from the observation that Susan Jacoby wasn’t prepared for the cacophony of false premises that seemingly support each other.

    Feb 23, the auditorium was packed and there was overflow into other buildings and they set up TVs and sound for them. I’m used to speaking in front of people but not as a counter apologetic and my co-conspirator had never been on a podium.

    It went very well because the homework paid off. And I will give appreciation to Douglas Wilson because he may well have had an extra gear he might have shifted into, but did not. And there was an unintended consequence that helped the non-theist side greatly. As Wilson was speaking, and I was turned towards him listening, I heard a slight murmur from the audience, and suddenly appearing in the corner of my eye like something from a Circ du Soleil show, out of nowhere was a man holding a book with the word GOD on it walking ever so slowing in front of the audience and holding it towards the dais. Then he starts shouting “You are evil…”
    So here’s an interesting cognitive bias. I believe on your show you once said, and I’m paraphrasing, we have a penchant to lower our critical thinking abilities when confronted with worldviews that conform to our already established beliefs. I though that he was addressing me. But he was directing this towards Wilson. So I then thought he was a strict fundamentalist because the collage has a strict doctrinal statement, which is very fundamental, 11 pages long and supported by 581 quotes from the bible (something else I familiarized myself with). But he was an angry atheist (granted one that may need a washer or two replaced) who came to disrupt. After an awkward moment of silence, and I wish I could remember what came out of my mouth but I don’t, I spoke up, shut him down and sent him off to a rounding applause from all the Christians. Now the dialogue was really open and we could address the issues with much more openness without having to acquiesce positions or stances on subjects.

    Afterwards some Christians joined us atheists for coffee and more talk at a local eatery.

    One final thank you for your show. During Q&A the question was asked of us, and I had to rephrase it for the questioner, where do we get our ethics and morals if not the bible. I said get mine from society and so does the bible because it’s on a social sliding scale and went to Abraham’s sacrificing his son, which if my neighbor was doing that instead of burgers on the 4th of July, I’d be calling 911 and not remarking about how cool it was to have a prophet next door. It’s was the moral thing for him to do because God commanded it, and yet we are all relieved when the angel stopped his hand because it’s immoral when we do it. Wilson started in about the covenant Abraham had with God and that this was about faith. I countered that it wasn’t faith, but justifiable compensation. Straight from Reasonable Doubts! Thanks for all your good work.
    David Leisure

  117. 117
    Lucy Harris

    Still waiting for the episode on an atheistic account for logic. Lazy fucks. >:-|

  118. 118
    LykeX

    Still waiting for an explanation for what it means to “account for logic” and how a god allows you to do so.

  119. 119
    Trudi Lugones

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you need to publish more on this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but generally folks don’t discuss such topics. To the next! Many thanks!!|

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    God’s relativistic morality « coming of age

    [...] all seriousness, though, the reason this passage caught my attention is because the chaps at Reasonable Doubts were arguing against presuppositionalism, and part of their argument was to show that God’s [...]

  2. 121
  3. 122
    Praxis Presup: Episode 20

    [...] makes some initial comments on the second podcast in the series on presuppositional apologetics at Reasonable Doubts. Blog this! Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Buzz it up share via Reddit Share with Stumblers [...]

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