Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The principle of noncontradiction

The principle of non-contradiction is not a provisional postulate, it is a necessary truth based in reality. If it isn't, we are screwed. Our science is about cloud cuckoo land, not reality. Logic is ontologically prior to the material world. Reality is fundamentally intelligible, and at the foundation of everything is a rational, not a material explanation. Even the philosopher Thomas Nagel, who is careful to avoid any theistic implications for this line of reasoning, realizes this. 

If you say we agree to the convention, that implies we could have done otherwise. We can't. We bump up against reality, not our own rules, when we do so. When we agree to conventions, we could have done otherwise. When we are facing reality, we cannot do otherwise without, well, scraping ourselves against reality.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A schema for a good god of the gaps argument?

I was looking at this: 






Here is your version of a god of the gaps argument: 

(1) There is some puzzling phenomenon P which science cannot at present explain.
(2) Theism does explain P.
(3) Therefore, P is more likely on the assumption that God exists than on the assumption God does not exist.
The form makes it appear to be fallacious, on the assumption that future science is an open book, and who knows what it will come  up with.


But what if we produce and argument like this?

(1) There is some puzzling phenomenon P which science cannot at present explain.
(2) If naturalism is true, then we should have expected science to have explained this already. 
(3) Theism does explain P.
(4) Therefore, P is more likely on the assumption that God exists than on the assumption God does not exist.
God of the gaps arguments are often accused of being appeals to ignorance. But isn't it possible, somewhere along the way if not now, that our ignorance will prove to be itself naturalistically surprising?



Friday, April 14, 2017

Homophobia can be lots of things

Which of the following acts constitutes homophobia?
1. Believing that active homosexuality is morally less acceptable than homosexuality
2. As a gay person, choosing to live a celibate lifestyle.
3. Believing that your church ought not to ordain practicing homosexuals.
4. Believing that your church ought not to perform same-sex weddings.
5. Expressing opposition to same-sex marriage.
6. Contributing financially to a campaign to oppose same-sex marriage.  (This cost Brandon Eich his job as CEO of Mozilla, due to boycotts).
7. Preaching a sermon against homosexual activity in your church.
8. Preaching a sermon against homosexual activity on a street corner. (People in some countries have been arrested for hate speech for this).
9. As a baker, refusing to bake a gay-themed cake for a same-sex wedding.
10. Being asked for a marble cake with chocolate frosting for a gay wedding, and refusing to provide it.
11. Putting a sign in your hardware store that says “No gays.”
12. Blaming homosexuals for natural and medical disasters, or even 9/11.
13. Passing laws in Russia preventing gay pride parades.
14. Protesting funerals of AIDS victims with signs that say “God hates fags.”
15. Attempting to kill all homosexuals in Chechnya.

But some supporters of the gay community, anything less than absolute acceptance of homosexuality is homophobia. They strike me as the Grand Inquisitors of the 21st Century. 



Thursday, April 13, 2017

How ancient eyewitness testimony became the gospel record

By J. Warner Wallace. 

Why the Is-Ought Problem Will Not Go Away: A Reply to Stardusty Psyche

Stardusty Psyche:
Carrier presents a well written summary of account for 9 aspects of reason on naturalism. The naturalistic account refutes the necessity of god to account for reason.
https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/reppert.html#rcn1

Reppert's response includes a claim to a supposed "is/ought" problem:
" I can show we are dealing with a conceptual chasm that cannot simply be overcome by straightforward problem-solving. An example would be the attempt to get an “ought” from an “is”."
http://maverickphilosopher.blogspot.com/2004/10/argument-from-reason-reppert-replies.html#main3
Victor is wrong in thinking there is an is/ought problem. Our morality comes from our sense of ought, which is what Carrier calls a confidence level output by a brain virtual model, or what I call a correlation score output by a brain correlation matching processing network.

In computing our sense of ought we do not follow a formal logical argument. It doesn't matter to our emotions that stating an "ought" does not follow in formal logical notation from an "is".

Our sense of ought is an evolved mechanism to drive our behavior. We feel we ought to get a sandwich, or we ought to go to work, or we ought to help that child. This sense of ought is simply an animal behavior mechanism.

Theists operate by this same sense of ought that we atheists do, always doing what they want in the aggregate because it is the only thing each of us can do. 
In short, Reppert is wrong on morality and reason.
VR: There is a simple argument that is used to generate the is-ought problem. It is called the open question argument, going back to G. E. Moore.
Here it is explained in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Moore's main argument against their view was what has come to be known as the “open-question argument,” though he actually stated in a couple of slightly different ways. Consider a particular naturalist claim, such as that “x is good” is equivalent to “x is pleasure.” If this claim were true, Moore argued, the judgement “Pleasure is good” would be equivalent to “Pleasure is pleasure,” yet surely someone who asserts the former means to express more than that uninformative tautology. The same argument can be mounted against any other naturalist proposal: even if we have determined that something is what we desire to desire or is more evolved, the question whether it is good remains “open,” in the sense that it is not settled by the meaning of the word “good.” We can ask whether what we desire to desire is good, and likewise for what is more evolved, more unified, or whatever (Principia Ethica 62–69). Sidgwick had used one form of this argument against Bentham and Spencer, but only in passing; Moore spent much more time on it and made it central to his metaethics.
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moore-moral/#1\

So, how does this work in the context of the discussion? We have an evolved mechanism to drive our behavior. Great. We have an evolved sense that we ought to help a child. You still have an is-ought gap, unless all statements like:

1) We have an evolved sense that we ought to help a child
Entails
2) We ought to help the child.

Why do we have moral dilemmas? Well, we have an evolved sense that we ought to protect small humans, and this includes those in the womb. We also have an evolved sense that we ought to allow women the right to make medical decisions that affect their own bodies without interference. This is called the abortion debate. Why would we disagree about this, if there were no is-ought gap?

In logic, our “evolved sense” permits humans to commit logical fallacies like affirming the consequent and denying the antecedent. My evolved sense of reasoning led me to conclude that I ought to accept the argument from reason. Richard Carrier’s same sense led him to reject it. SP said that I was wrong about reason and morality. How could that be? I evolved just the same way Richard Carrier did.

You can’t make the is-ought problem go away that easily.


Are all fetuses viable?

Technology enables us (or soon will) to take a fetus out of a womb and put in in an artificial environment where it can survive. So, are all fetuses viable? If so, what happens to viability as a criterion for abortion? 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jeffrey Jordan on the difference between anti-gay and racial discrimination

The grounds of objection differ in the respective cases: one concerns racial identity; the other concerns behavior thought to be morally problematic. Racial identity is an immutable trait and a complaint about mixed-race marriages necessarily involves a complaint about immutable trait. Sexual behavior is not an immutable trait and it is possible to object to same-sex marriages based on the behavior which would be involved in such marriages. Objections to mixed-race marriages necessarily involve objections over status, while objections to same-sex marriages could involve objections over behavior. Therefore, the two cases are not analogues since there is a significant modal difference in the ground of the objection. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Saints and Skeptics on Trump

Here. 

Some time ago, this site pointed out that Donald Trump ranks as one of the most virulently anti-Christian politicians of modern times. He does not even pay lip service to the Christian virtues of fidelity, humility and repentance. He glorifies in the self and he boasts of his worldly possessions. It is no caricature to say that he is a few blasphemies shy of embodying the spirit of an antichrist.-

Graham Veale

Richard Carrier: An Example of Atheism's Moral Problem?

Here.  But it could be a problem with Carrier's personality.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Faith-Heads and Silly-Billies

Jimmy S. M. wrote: Do you really take "faith-head" to be as insulting as "nigger"? It sounds more like calling someone a "silly-billy" to me..

Silly-billy? No, I don't think so. Dawkins, for one, is very clear about what he is trying to do:

I have from time to time expressed sympathy for the accommodationist tendency so ably criticized here by Jerry Coyne. I have occasionally worried that – just maybe – Eugenie Scott [of the NCSE] and the appeasers might have a point, a purely political point but one, nevertheless, that we should carefully consider. I have lately found myself moving away from that sympathy.

I suspect that most of our regular readers here would agree that ridicule, of a humorous nature, is likely to be more effective than the sort of snuggling-up and head-patting that Jerry is attacking. I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt.

Michael Shermer, Michael Ruse, Eugenie Scott and others are probably right that contemptuous ridicule is not an expedient way to change the minds of those who are deeply religious. But I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.

You might say that two can play at that game. Suppose the religious start treating us with naked contempt, how would we like it? I think the answer is that there is a real asymmetry here. We have so much more to be contemptuous about! And we are so much better at it. We have scathingly witty spokesmen of the calibre of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Who have the faith-heads got, by comparison? Ann Coulter is about as good as it gets. We can’t lose!

Richard Carrier put it this way, which John Loftus endorsed. 

By and large the minds of the ridiculous can't be changed. It's their flock we're talking to. But even the ridiculous change under ridicule some respond by getting more ridiculous (and those are the ones who could never be swayed even by the politest methods), but others accumulate shame until they see the error of their ways (I've met many ex-evangelicals who have told me exactly that). Thus, ridicule converts the convertible and marginalizes the untouchable. There is no more effective strategy in a culture war.

Message: Even though you we are ostensibly in a conversation with you, we are actually talking through you to some low information "fence-sitters" who, in fear of the social penalty they might pay if the went to your side of the fence, will head meekly over to ours. You think you are my discussion partner, and equal in the conversation, but you're not. You don't count, it's the stupid people who might consider following you. 

It's interesting that Tom Clark, of Naturalism.org, maintains that this whole attitude presupposes that religious people have made bad choices, which in turn presupposes a kind of contra-causal freedom neither he nor Dawkins think we possess. (Remember Basil's car?) Why be so mad at Christians for not following what you take to be the evidence? Does the evidence, as you see it, suggest that they can help doing so? 

That is why, for quite awhile now, I have broken the bad habit of posting in Debunking Christianity. In the final analysis, someone who takes this line isn't really talking to you, so what is the point of talking to them. 

What if someone behaved this way toward gay people? 

Legal Scholars Write and Amicus Brief for Arlene's Flowers

This is one of the cases in which a gay couple sued for the refusal of service. I heard one of the writers of the brief, Steven Smith, at a presentation on religious freedom at ASU West.

If Republicans had spent more time on religious freedom and stayed off the Trump train, they could have made my voting decision more difficult.

An atheist blog corrects bad New Atheist history

Here.