Monday, June 18, 2018

Why Materialism is simply Untrue

This is from Dr. Dennis Bonnette on Strange Notions. 


Metaphysical Materialism is Simply Untrue

Only an immaterial cognitive faculty, that is, one not extended in space, can actually apprehend the wholeness of any sensed object. Moreover, in the same act, the sense faculty can apprehend manyindividual wholes at once, as in a flock of birds.
How does an immaterial sense faculty unify the object of perception into a meaningful whole? Knowing how an immaterial entity “works” would require knowing how to make one -- something that exceeds human capabilities. Still, I know a sense faculty can do it, because I actually sense meaningful wholes in sensory experience. That is, in a single act, I see a whole moose or experience hearing a complete melody or am aware that I am touching the total surface of a sphere. No purely physical entity can adequately explain this fact.
Sight’s ability to apprehend its object as a whole is sufficient to show that at least one external sense faculty must be immaterial. Because an animal’s sensitive soul is immaterial – that is, because it is not extended in space, even animals can experience the unified wholeness of sense objects – and many such wholes simultaneously.
Purely materialistic metaphysic’s essential problem is that sense cognition’s immaterial nature is what enables the knower to apprehend the physically extended object as a unified whole. In so doing, immaterial cognition achieves something that mere extended matter cannot do, namely, it can unify in a single simple act what in physical reality is extended in space and multiple in parts.
Some materialists admit that certain cognitive acts cannot be expressed in purely material terms. Yet, they insist that these “epiphenomena” somehow “emerge from” purely physical matter. That is, they are simply a product of physical matter in some way. The problem with this explanation is that the more perfect cannot be explained by the less perfect. Or, to put it another way, that which is inherently unable to explain the unity of the whole (discrete physical parts) cannot be a sufficient reason for apprehending the thing sensed as a unified whole.
Moreover, this immaterial principle must explain how unity is achieved from multiple sense data. Since a material entity can never explain the unity of its discrete elements, what unifies must not only be immaterial, but must be something within the sentient organism that unifies its discrete material organs into a functional whole respecting sense perception. Such an immaterial principle would be the form or soul of even the lowest sentient organisms.
This means that a purely materialistic explanation of all reality is simply false.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Why Opposition to Trump is so intense, or do we all want the same things?

I think that Trump has done a number of things, like implying an equivalency between Klansmen and their opponents at Charlottesville, or trying to undermine investigation of crimes against America by a foreign government, or his buddying up to another foreign government without once mentioning his human rights violations, that make people really concerned about his being President. How do you respond when you really think the President is harming the country.
I am not saying they are right in thinking this,(well, actually I am) but if you think this, how do you respond? Until now, Republicans and Democrats have mostly thought that their respective opponents want the same things, but think that the other party is just going about it in the wrong way. With Trump, I get the sense that he really wants something very different from what a lot of people in America want.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Separating families is not Christian. 2 + 2 is not 5. Any questions?

Here. 

The monotheistic moral revolution

I think we don't understand, or take seriously, the moral revolution engendered by monotheism. Before the monotheistic religions came along, there were moral codes, but evolution gives us an interest in social cooperation but also makes us tribalistic. Moral codes require lots of social cooperation for "us" and nothing for "them." When people started believing in a deity who is interested in our moral lives as opposed to merely our sacrifices, things start changing. A God who values us equally because, in the case of Christianity, he sent his son to die for all of us, makes it hard to believe that anyone is just human garbage. It is true that Christians have historically failed to get it, and some even currently fail to get it, but logic of going from God's being interested in all of us equally, to people being of equal worth, is a real pathway to the idea of equal rights. I see nothing in the naturalistic universe that supports this kind of egalitarianism except that cultures have gradually evolved toward it, largely under the watch of Christianity, and we like the results and don't want to give that up, since it seems to work. But if some Nietzschean were to ask why we should continue to accept this kind of slave morality given the death of God, I don't see what the answer would be. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

The measure of a conservative, or a liberal

Why is the measure of conservatism, or liberalism, a matter of loyalty to or opposition to Donald Trump? In my state a stalwart conservative senator named Jeff Flake is considered by many to be a phony conservative because he finds Trump dangerous. Trey Gowdy, the arch-conservative representative from South Carolina who pushed the criticism of Hillary Clinton for Benghazi as hard as anybody, is now regarded as a fake conservative because he won't agree that the FBI was engaged in spying on the Trump campaign for political purposes. 
Why? Donald Trump actually takes the liberal Democrat position on the war in Iraq, he thinks it was wrong and that we were deceived into going in there. Do conservatives all now think that that the leftists were right about Iraq and George W. Bush was wrong? 
Political conviction and personal loyalty have to be different from one another. Otherwise, we can't really have a democracy. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Fake News!

When I grew up there were three networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS, which had news broadcasts which were not openly of any political viewpoint, but were frequently accused of being liberal by conservatives. Today, there are the cable channels FOX, MSNBC, and CNN. We all know, I take, it, which of these channels is the most politically conservative.  The expression "fake news" abounds, and is deliberately used by Donald Trump (he said as much) to discredit any journalism critical of him. 
How do we apply fairminded thinking to what we hear in the media?  Even for practiced thinkers, it isn't easy. I recommend that you not try to find some piece of journalism that opposes your political perspective, and find bias in that. That is just too darn easy, and it wouldn't create growth in yourself as a critical thinker. Thus, if you're a liberal, don't tear apart some Fox News report accusing it of bias. That's like shooting fish in a barrel. If you are a conservative, don't go looking at the Washington Post or the New York Times, or CNN, to find bias. Again, that's way too easy. Find a source you agree with, and try to find bias from your own side. 
Some material from news sources are opinion pieces, and some are there to report facts. If it is an opinion piece, it's by definition on one side, and there's nothing wrong with that. But ask yourself if the opinion piece has material in it that would convince someone on the other side to question what they think, or, if it would only convince someone who agreed with the reporter to begin with. If it supposed to be factual reporting, we can ask if bias has crept in. Even when something is biased in favor of one viewpoint or another, it often contains real factual information that is worth knowing. Identifying bias does not imply entail that the entire article can simply be dismissed as worthless. 

Monday, June 04, 2018

Why evolutionary naturalism undermines liberal humanism

In one of my first posts on this blog, I wrote:

Perhaps some of the best-known words from our American heritage are the words from the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain Inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

But, if you are an atheist, there is no Creator, so we couldn't be created equal. Advanced thinker that he was for his time, TJ seems to have imbibed some creationist nonsense. Hence to reflect what an atheist really believes, it would have to be rewritten as follows:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men have evolved equally, and that they are endowed by Evolution with certain Inalienable Rights, that among these are Life , Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

But thus altered, isn't this statement howlingly false? Evolution doesn't make people equal, it doesn't endow anyone with inalienable rights, and among these are certainly not life, or liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.

I'm not going to argue that atheists are bad citizens. But my question is what sense an atheist can make of these statements in the Preamble. Doesn't it conflict, profoundly, with what an atheist believes?

I wrote this way back in 2005. There has been some interesting discussion along these lines since. 

Interestingly enough, this issue has been taken  up by atheist Yuval Noah Harari. Vincent Torley takes up the issue in this discussion. Harari says that the statement form the Preamble must be revised in favor of this revision:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men evolved differently, that they are born with certain mutable characteristics, and that among these are life and the pursuit of pleasure.

Hardly the basis of liberal humanism. 

Torley then goes on to quote the following passage: 

At the same time, a huge gulf is opening between the tentes of liberal humanism and the latest findings of the life sciences, a pull we cannot ignore much longer. Our liberal political and judicial systems are founded on the belief that every individual has a sacred inner nature, indivisible and immutable, which gives meaning to the world, and which is the source of all ethical and political authority. This is a reincarnation of the traditional Christian belief in a free and eternal soul that resides within each individual. Yet over the last 200 years, the life sciences have thoroughly undermined this belief. Scientists studying the inner workings of the human organism have found no sould there. They increasingly argue that human behavior is determined by hormones, genes and synapses, rather than by free will – the same forces that determine the behavior of chimpanzees, wolves, and ants. Our judicial and political systems largely try to sweep such inconvenient discoveries under the carpet. But in all frankness, how long can we maintain the wall separating the department of biology from the departments of law and political science?

(Emphases mine – VJT.)

Consider, for example, the defense of gay rights in our society today. The idea people have on this is that even if you don't like gay people, even if they are not your kind, you have an obligation not to discriminate against them, to give them, well, marriage equality. A lot of people think that an atheist position makes it easier to support gay rights and gay equality. Well, yes and no. If you are an atheist, you don't have to worry about whether God created marriage for a man and a woman. However, if your argument is based on the idea that everyone deserves to be treated equally, your atheism looks as if it undercuts the moral foundation of human equality, on which the case for gay equality is based. The atheistic sword that cuts away the anti-gay arguments based on Christian revelation is the same sword that cuts the heart out of the foundation of human equality, which is the very foundation of the case for gay equality in the first place. 




John Loftus on Richard Carrier

JWL: Richard Carrier thinks this book is bad to say the least, but I find Carrier to be shrill, very offensive and exaggerated in defense of his own work.

Here. 

The Seven Deadly Sins

Described here. 
Pride is excessive belief in one's own abilities, that interferes with the individual's recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise. Pride is also known as Vanity.
Envy is the desire for others' traits, status, abilities, or situation.
Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires.
Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.
Anger is manifested in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury. It is also known as Wrath.
Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is also called Avarice or Covetousness.
Sloth is the avoidance of physical or spiritual work.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

A Christian case for abortion

Here. 

I can't be part of a church that has hypocrites in it

Of course, judgmental and hypocritical might just be right about God and Jesus. Churches claim to believe the truth, and the truth of what they believe is independent of whether or not they are hypocrites. In fact, people with higher moral standards are more likely to be hypocrites, because if you have no moral standards, then  you can't claim a higher moral standard than you practice, since you had no moral standard to begin with. 

Timothy McGrew on Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

Here.