Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Plantinga-Dennett exchange

It seems like discussion by the pros can be about as acrimonious as it is here in the comboxes of Dangerous Idea.

98 comments:

Steven Carr said...

'There is no conflict between theism and the central tenets of Darwinism. God could have used evolutionary mechanisms to create the world.'

Did Plantinga really say something like that?

That Darwinism has evolutionary mechanisms that can result in a word being created?


'Plantinga's argument is merely that the complexity of the cell is more likely on theism than naturalism. '

That is not an argument. It is a statement,made with hindsight.

dvd said...

Steve Carr, if an Oscar could be given to a person who gets wrong the arguments of others on the internet, I believe you would win, even athiests I know would agree. B

As for the discussion, I didn't think it was that tense, I actually thought both were pleasant enough but not overly warm. Plantinga obviously is at a different level then Dennett and the fac that Dennett didin't really go after Plantinga's arguments showed.

Perezoso said...

Doc Dennett defers to Darwin; Planty, to demons, who are responsible for natural disasters, and for the suffering of the innocent, according to Planty. So when "bad things happen to good people", demons did it more or less.

The obvious varsity-boy response: Doesn't G*d control those natural demons? Not sure of the proper class of heresy, but on occasion Planty sounds a bit manichean. Which is to say, if G*d cannot control those natural demons (say, the demons responsible for plagues, earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanoes, etc.) then G*d's not G*d, and Planty more or less capitulates.

Steven Carr said...

I see DVD cannot say how I got Plantinga's arguments wrong.

I am SO suprised.

Perhaps DVD can tell us the probability of the cell being complex on theism. Is it 90%? Or just 20%?

Could an omnipotent God create humans beings out of Lego bricks?

Why is it then more probable than not that this alleged god would create complex cells for practically all life forms?

dvd said...

Steve Carr,

Its not the fact that one does not want to address you, its the fact that you so often get "So Wrong" or "Misrepresent" the other side, that people are left scratching their heads. I wonder sometimes if you are actually a Theist in disguise, because you sure help our cause!

Now for the Love of All things Good-(in your case if you truly are atheist) and for God, can you get correct what others argue so that you and your followers can reach out to more then just the "choir?"

Thanks.

Ilíon said...

DVD: "I wonder sometimes if you are actually a Theist in disguise, because you sure help our cause!"

An amusing conjecture, but one that, were it true, would speak quite poorly about Mr Carr's character.

Steven Carr said...

I see DVD STILL cannot say how I got Plantinga's arguments wrong, even after a second go at hurling abuse at me.

I am SO suprised.

Ilíon said...

Oh, put a sock in it, already.

Perezoso said...

As many have pointed out, there's an ad ignorantium fallacy to Behe's argument as well. something like "Darwinism can't explain all cellular mechanisms; ergo, the Almighty designed it, and we can continue as a private religious college!"

The Plantinga or Behe sort of egghead-theologian thus does not merely attempt to justify belief; he attempts to justify the Institution of monotheistic Christianity itself (as jewish or muslim theologians do the same for their faiths).

Similarly (though without Behe's skills in biochemistry) Plantinga argues not only for the existence of God, but for Notre Dame itself. A WL Craig's represents for Biola, a Ben Stein for Brandeis, Kripke for NYU etc. Sort of like cheerleaders: Rah rah for God! A lot of shekels riding on that. God must exist, or the theologians (and many philosophasters) are out of a job.

It might be recalled that Clergymen, priests, and pedants (professors) were traditionally "premier etat", ie, with the King's party--when the party started in paris 1792 or so, their heads were in the same stacks as the kings and nobles.

Gordon Knight said...

For what it is worth, Plantinga thinks the demons, if they exist, have free will. So the FW defense if it works with humanly created evil, would also work with natural evil if we assume NE is caused by these demons.

dvd said...

Just to add something here; I was deeply disapointed in Dennett's response to Plantinga, he told stories and tried to speak with conviction but in the final analysis he never really tackled the arguments of Plantinga although he did mention a premise, which Plantinga noted:)

To Steve Carr, I don't mean to insult you, but if you want an honest discussion, then you have to at least interpet and put into context what the other person or side is arguing for. If you don't do that, it becomes pointless to engage.

There are many athiests who have my utmost respect for at least understanding what the other side is saying and trying to reflect this.

You will find that you go a lot further with whatever your trying to achieve if you engage another worldview, or like I said you at best would be just "preaching to the choir", and I am sure you want to do more then that.

Steven Carr said...

DVD complains when I simply ask for clarification of what Plantinga said.....

Plantinga told me in a private email that his god can and has created beings with free will that have never chosen evil.

So much for the claim that it is logically impossible for god to create beings with freewill that never choose evil (A claim that Plantinga himself never makes)

If gremlins cause havoc , then why make gremlins?

Steven Carr said...

'For what it is worth, Plantinga thinks the demons, if they exist, have free will.'

CARR
*If* they exist?

Plantinga doesn't say if demons exist or not?

Obviously there are no such things as demons, or else our reasoning and senses would be under constant attack by these malevolent entities.

But Plantinga claims his cognitive faculties are so reliable, that we can trust his arguments to be logically sound.

So if demons do not exist, what caused the tsunami which killed 300,000 people while Plantinga's god was passing by on the other side?

Ilíon said...

If children cause havoc, why have a child?


Is there a law that 'atheists' are required to be like these boys?

Perezoso said...

Plantinga thinks the demons, if they exist, have free will. So the FW defense if it works with humanly created evil, would also work with natural evil if we assume NE is caused by these demons.

The usual hedge via conditional. Do they or don't they? He suggested they do.

Anyway, Planty's fortunate that he only has to deal with bottlewashers like Dennett: were say a Bertrand Russell around, Russ. might remind Planty of his own theological presumptions, say omniscience. God, assuming He existed, bestowed freedom upon his creation, including humans (and demons, heh). Yet He KNOWS what they will do in advance, like a evil programmer would know what his programs would do; if he programmed then to kill, and they kill, he's guilty, really.

SO the supposed free-will argument doesn't really do much: from a King-God's perspective there is no free will (and no difference between God or the devil). Ergo, safe to assume a monotheistic He does not exist, unless one imagines like some cackling, demonic Henry VIII in space, laughing at World Wars, tsunamis, plagues, etc.

Russell said this a bit more eloquently than moi, sometime during the 30s when he strung the corpse of Calvin up like the perp he was...

(now time for some more Ad Homs from Il Duce Iliot

Gordon Knight said...

Is there a possible world in which free creatures never do evil? maybe yes, but maybe not. And it it is contradictory to suppose that God forces a free creature to perform a free action. Plantinga develops this in detail in _The Nature of Necessity_ and other places. The arg. does pressupose molinism, which I think is incoherent. but the basic insight is still sound: God cannot force a free creature to perform a free action. That would be like making a round square.

From what I gather, P does believe in demons.

Steven Carr said...

So how did this alleged god create beings with free will that never do evil, if such beings have to be 'forced' never to do evil?

Molinism is trivially true.

Plantinga's defense is no more than a saving the appearances defense - utterly worthless.

ILION
If children cause havoc, why have a child?

CARR
Very clever of Ilion to take an argument about 'demons', which allegedly killed 300,000 people, change it to be about children, who don't kill 300,000 people, and then accuse atheists of deliberately misrepresenting the arguments of other people.

The Gods of Irony are strong today.

This alleged god is proclaimed by its defenders to be capable of creating little angels, who never do anything wrong.

So why does this god also create little devils, that it knows in advance will try to kill people?

Gordon Knight said...

Molinism is not only not trivially true, its not coherent.

The best argument is that the counterfactuals of freedom that God supposedly knows prior to creation cannot be true, b/c there is nothing to make them true (if there were, that would be determining factor, rendering the choice in question unfree)

Proponents of Molinism have had to basically deny that true propositions require anything that makes them true, that it could be a brute fact that, e.g. Curley would freely accept a bribe two days from now.) I just don't understand this.

I disagree with Plantinga on a lot of things, but to call his development of the FW defense "utterly worthless" is a bit much. Even hardcore atheist philosophers (maybe not shallow thinkers like Dennett, but see e.g. Gale). are generally agreed that P.'s work is important and subtle.

Steven Carr said...

Given libertarian free will and the existence of omniscient beings (not necesarrily God), then Molinism is trivially true.

And 'saving the appearance' type defenses are 'utterly worthless' - as worthless as claims that theism is compatible with us all having only 1 leg, because there is a logically possible world where we are mistaken about how many legs we have.


GK
Proponents of Molinism have had to basically deny that true propositions require anything that makes them true, that it could be a brute fact that, e.g. Curley would freely accept a bribe two days from now.) I just don't understand this.

CARR
According to theists, when Curley makes his choice, we have to examine what his 'counterfactuals of freedom' are in the exact circumstances which pertain at the instant he makes his free choice.

If those circumstances include the existence of an omniscient being who knows Curley will freely choose the bribe, Curley's counterfactual of freedom in *those* circumstances are that he will freely take the bribe.


If those circumstances include the existence of an omniscient being who knows Curley will *not* freely choose the bribe, Curley's counterfactual of freedom in *those* circumstances are that he will freely refuse the bribe.

So each and every set of circumstances has a definite 'counterfactual of freedom'.

These counterfactuals of freedom differ from one set of circumstances to the next, but it is to be expected that people might well choose differently, in different circumstances.

So Molinism is trivially true...

Gordon Knight said...

If there is nothing that makes those counterfactuals true, then there is nothing for God to know
No matter how omniscient, God cannot know something if there is nothing there to be known.

Only when Curley makes his free choice, is there a fact of the matter about what he would do.
(though there are true probability judgements, mayhap)

Gordon Knight said...

If there is nothing that makes those counterfactuals true, then there is nothing for God to know
No matter how omniscient, God cannot know something if there is nothing there to be known.

Only when Curley makes his free choice, is there a fact of the matter about what he would do.
(though there are true probability judgements, mayhap)

Rob G said...

"The usual hedge via conditional. Do they or don't they? He suggested they do."

It's not a hedge. There is no dogmatic requirement that I'm aware of for a Christian to believe in demons. Misunderstandings of this type occur when atheists and skeptics A) lack knowledge about what Christianity really teaches, B) refuse to examine its teachings on their own terms or C) exhibit a combination of both these faults.

The strawman results of such bloviatings are actually too ephemeral even to call strawmen; they are feather-men, gossamer-men, Charmin Ultra-Soft men.

Steven Carr said...

Plantinga's book 'Warranted Christian Beliefs' does not have a list of Christian beliefs which are warranted.

This makes it difficult to know which Christian beliefs are warranted.

Is belief in demons warranted?

Steven Carr said...

GORDON
If there is nothing that makes those counterfactuals true, then there is nothing for God to know
No matter how omniscient, God cannot know something if there is nothing there to be known.

CARR
OK, if there are no omniscient beings then Molinism is not true.

I had said that Molinism was only true, granted libertarian free will and the existence of omniscient beings.

Take this logically possible set of circumstances, which was never actualised.

1) I am sitting down to breakfast in an hotel at 8:30 am on Wed. 2/11/2005, and a waiter is asking me ‘Tea or Coffee’, and an omniscient being has infallible knowledge that I will choose tea.

Are you claiming that in that logically possible set of circumstances, there is no fact of the matter about how I would have freely chosen, if that set of circumstances had obtained on that ill-fated Wednesday?

Or is your claim that that set of logically possible circumstances is not in fact logically possible at all?

That there is a contradiction between the idea of the waiter asking me if I will choose tea or coffee and an omniscient being knowing what I will freely choose?

Gordon Knight said...

"Or is your claim that that set of logically possible circumstances is not in fact logically possible at all?

That there is a contradiction between the idea of the waiter asking me if I will choose tea or coffee and an omniscient being knowing what I will freely choose?"


I do think free will (in the libertarian sense) and divine foreknowledge are incompatible. But Molinism falters on other grounds. There is nothing there to know, at the time God supposedly knows it, (acc. to Molinism). M. holds that prior to creation God knows that I will freely choose to buy a cup of coffee tommorow.--what makes this true? It cannot be that there is some fact accessible to God that determines what i choose (then it would not be a free choice).

Whether this involves denying divine omniscience is a matter of definition. One natural def. of omniscience is: God knows whatever is true, is true, and whatever is false is false. if a prop. lacks a truth value, God obviously cannot know that its true(or false).

Rob G said...

"This makes it difficult to know which Christian beliefs are warranted.
Is belief in demons warranted?"

Not having read his book, I can't speak to that particular issue. However I can say that belief in demons is not a required, a dogmatic, or a 'first tier' belief. It may, in fact, BE warranted, but if it is, it is warranted because it's "downstream," so to speak, from the various first tier beliefs.

If you take the Nicene Creed as the basic summary of required or "dogmatic" Christian belief, it's possible to reason from there and from the Bible that belief in demons is warranted, but not necessarily required. Plantinga, I'm sure, is aware of this, hence the conditional nature of his statement. It's not a hedge, it's the accurate portrayal of Christian doctrine.

Ilíon said...

Personally, I would say that it's trivially clever to so effortlessly discombobulate the prior cleverness which was on display here; this is not to say that such discombobulation is itself a trivial matter.

Perezoso said...

What's more amusing than Idion's Ad Homs are the believers attempting to defend Plantinger's pseudo-arguments and the usual possible-worlds folderol (like, you can't prove there aren't possible worlds where's everything's much better and more Christian than this world; therefore, that world necessarily possibly exists! That world exists about like unicorns or Zeus do--actually not that high degree of probability).

For that matter, molinism sounds like another hedge, and by definition denies G*d's omniscience (tho' the windbags probably have some way to weasel out of that).

If G*d does not know the results of ALL of his acts and decisions (including creating humanity, or demons), and, really, infinity itself, then He's not a monotheistic G*d: indeed, the very idea of foreknowledge is very absurd, but that is what Omniscience and omnipotence implies. Introduce qualifications and limitations, and JHVH disappears, and the theologians are about like Gurus (tho' usually not as talented).

Ilíon said...

Ah, the perpetual cry/distraction of the hypocritical fool: 'Ad hom! Ad hom!'

Perezoso said...

Step in a ring, LA style, 405- Roscoe. Yeah? Marquess of Queensbury, legal like (that's called Honor, something most calvinist zombies know nothing about). Mano a Mano for Jeeezuss, Idion the macho man. You're punk, sunday school.

You can't deal with the argument, and instead spew juvenile insults. So like back it up.

Ilíon said...

Fools generally don't make/present arguments, and I will not pretend that they have when they haven't.

Perezoso said...

You got that right, fool. Like most biblethumpers, you have no arguments (but plenty of jargon), and what's more, you're a coward as well. Just another punk, Ted Haggard like: salesman for Jeezuss.

Ilíon said...

What a pathetic thing this particular pretend-atheist is. I suppose he's trying to get a jump-start on being worm-dung.

Ilíon said...

the ad hominem fallacy fallacy

"One of the most widely misused terms on the Net is "ad hominem". It is most often introduced into a discussion by certain delicate types, delicate of personality and mind, whenever their opponents resort to a bit of sarcasm. As soon as the suspicion of an insult appears, they summon the angels of ad hominem to smite down their foes, before ascending to argument heaven in a blaze of sanctimonious glory. They may not have much up top, but by God, they don't need it when they've got ad hominem on their side. It's the secret weapon that delivers them from any argument unscathed. ..."

Perezoso said...

You're the pathetic thing, puto. Then so was your mother, so to be expected.

Step in a ring, coward.

Like most theo-bots you simply don't understand the counter-arguments (the 2nd law of thermodynamics a quite powerful counterargument to a G*d's perfection)

Nathaniel said...

Is it just me, or is the quality of discourse in this thread deteriorating?

Steven writes:

"Plantinga told me in a private email that his god can and has created beings with free will that have never chosen evil."

This does not by itself undermine the FWD, as Gordon understands. Plantinga's comment pertains to the actual world; the relevant question is whether God could create genuinely free beings who always choose the good in all possible worlds.

One need not accept Plantinga's overall strategy to understand it. That, plus a bit of candor in representing it and some basic civility, should be an irreducible minimum for an intelligent discussion of the issue.

Hiero5ant said...

Did someone just use the phrase "quality of discourse" in a Perry-and-Ilion thread?

"Hey, you spilled your troll peanut butter in my troll chocolate!"

"No, YOU spilled your troll chocolate in my troll peanut butter!"

A match made in heaven.

Perezoso said...

That, plus a bit of candor in representing it and some basic civility.




Rah-thur! Civility, like those civil Plantinger gremlins, makin' mischief with the forces of nature. Re-peruse the comments and you will note the believers started with the insults and trolling, after someone dared to object to Herr Doktor Plantinka.


I think Planty's a crypto-machiavellian anyway, like most churchmen: They want a Il Duce... Il Duce, Reiterated.

Victor Reppert said...

I guess the Plantinga-Dennett exchange was more civil than the exchanges in my combox. I stand corrected.

The key to blogging is knowing what to ignore.

Ilíon said...

VR: "The key to blogging is knowing what to ignore."

Indeed. Though that never seems to satisfy the persons whose foolishness one is ignoring, as witness the response that DVD is ignoring certain foolishness (or, for that matter, that I am ignoring most of the foolishness being so ineptly directed my way).

Ilíon said...

Nathaniel: "Is it just me, or is the quality of discourse in this thread deteriorating?"

Any time you get standard-issue 'atheists' around, the quality of discourse is liable to deteriate: 'atheists' almost always "misunderstand" everything. So, when you get a couple of them playing tag-team, you can:
1) end the "discussion" (which frequently appears to be their goal), at which they are likely to crow about having, once again, mopped the floor with those stoopid "theists;"
2) keep correcting their "misunderstandings" ... and shortly re-correcting the "misunderstandings" you've already corrected;
3) admit to yourself that ... whatever may be true of some hypothetical atheist out there ... the particular 'atheists' you've encountered are not intellectually honest. That, by the way, is a $10 phrase meaning that one is saying that the person or persons one is so accusing are behaving worse than mere liars.

If one has decided that 3) applies, then one has to decide how to deal with that, and there aren't too many options:
3a) ignore the intellectual dishonesty ... which is to say, conceed the field to the intellectual dishonesty persons (this is a variation on 1) ).
3b) *deal* directly with the intellectual dishonesty in some manner.

3c) try foolishly to maintain that the real problem lies with persons such as I who will not overlook (this frequent) intellectual dishonesty.

It comes down to what one values more highly. Does one value truth more highly? Or does one value "niceness" and/or "being respected" more highly?

Perezoso said...

You mean like ignore the non-theists, Doc Reppert, or ignore the threats and juvenile insults of Idion? He's the troll.

The only place Plantinga-style theo-arguments remain in force are at private religious colleges, and I wager most or all of the believers on here attended a private religious college.

As Russell noted, when some bright skeptic challenges the chestnuts of a Plantinga (basically Aquinas, redux), the believer can always fall back on dogma. You see that with the superficial, dogmatic responses on this thread: what, doubt Plantinga?? preposterous! Nothing suffices for a counterargument for the True Believer.

Anonymous said...

"Similarly (though without Behe's skills in biochemistry) Plantinga argues not only for the existence of God, but for Notre Dame itself. A WL Craig's represents for Biola, a Ben Stein for Brandeis, Kripke for NYU etc. Sort of like cheerleaders: Rah rah for God! A lot of shekels riding on that. God must exist, or the theologians (and many philosophasters) are out of a job."

This was perhaps the most meaningless comment I've read.

Robert said...

Hello Gordon,

You make consistently intellignet comments and from your comments here you appear to take the open theism position (you do not seem to be a calvinist and you repeatedly argue againt Molinism). You wrote:

"I do think free will (in the libertarian sense) and divine foreknowledge are incompatible."

WHY do you believe this? That is your belief/claim, but what makes you conclude this to be true?

Robert

Perezoso said...

Not meaningless, just upsetting to a zionist-calvinist trying to implement monarchy via his daily bogus-theological prevarication.


Did you or did you not attend a private religious college? I wager you did, but will lie about it.

No biblical inerrancy also means no divine right of Kings: and that upsets the fundie as much as skepticism does.

Ilíon said...

downloadable audio

Gordon Knight said...

Robert,

Yes I am an open theist. Regarding foreknowledge and freedom, there are oodles of complications, but here is the gist.

If God knows that I will choose to drink coffee tommorow, this knowledge is part of the universe, part of the world in which I make my choice.

I assume that if I am free, I am able to make a choice other than the one I make.

But I cannot render God's knowledge of what I would choose false (God is essentially omniscient). If I choose not to drink coffee I would be changing what God knows.

(I also assume backwards causation is not possible)

So it follows that if God knows I will drink coffee tomorow, I do not have the ability to choose otherwise.

Its an old argument, where is the flaw?

Robert said...

Hello Gordon,

Thanks for responding, you presented the problem simply and clearly when you wrote:

“If God knows that I will choose to drink coffee tomorrow, this knowledge is part of the universe, part of the world in which I make my choice.

I assume that if I am free, I am able to make a choice other than the one I make.”

So those two statements are declarations of God's’ foreknowledge (first statement) and man’s libertarian free will (second statement) and the standard argument is that those two are incompatible, cannot possibly be true simultaneously, correct?


“But I cannot render God's knowledge of what I would choose false (God is essentially omniscient). If I choose not to drink coffee I would be changing what God knows.”

This is a secondary argument to the first argument stated earlier. Often used to buttress the standard argument (provide more ammunition! :-) ).


“(I also assume backwards causation is not possible)”

A third argument, again, “stacking the deck” further against the compatibility of exhaustive and infallible foreknowledge and libertarian free will.


“So it follows that if God knows I will drink coffee tomorrow, I do not have the ability to choose otherwise.”
The conclusion and also the flaw that is both present but not easily seen.

“Its an old argument, where is the flaw?”

Gordon would you give up your Open Theism if I share with you the solution and show how the two are in fact reconcilable? I don’t want to present the solution and then have you just ignore itor downplay it, and then launch into other arguments against the compatibility of foreknowledge and free will. And I don’t want to give the solution to someone whose mind is already made up and just wants to argue. From reading your posts in the past you seem like a very reasonable and civil person, which is why I do not think it would be wasting time to discuss it with you. There are others (such as the calvinists at Triablogue who **are** a waste of time, whose minds are made up against the truth and so they will simply shift to other arguments when refuted). You don’t strike me as like that at all. So what do you think, if I give you the solution and show the flaw will you then reject open theism and accept that God could know the future exhaustively and infallibly and at the same time we could have libertarian free will?

Robert

Victor Reppert said...

There are plenty of non-theists whom I do not ignore. Ask Blue Devil Knight if you doubt me. Or Eric Koski. Or Clayton Littlejohn.

Gordon Knight said...

Robert,

That is a rather odd reply. You excite my curiosity claiming to have a way of reconciling lib. free and foreknowledge, and then don't tell me! I am not sure that is fair! And you don't want me to respond or argue! I think there has got to be holes in the argument as stated, probably of a technical nature that can be fixed, so I am not going to say right now that I would not reply or give other arguments!

And you seem to assume that whatever counterarguments I may give will not actually persuade you of the truth of the incompatibilist position! How can you know that before you "hear" the arguments?

But to answer your question, I think open theism has advantages over and above the foreknowledge problem. There is a genuine relationality between God and creatures in the open view that is not possible in a world in which God knows what people will do in advance. I also think the strong divine providence that characterizes most foreknowledge views, makes the problem of evil insurmountable, pretty much. (God intentionally puts x in situation y, so x can be raped and murdered, all for the greater good!)

but maybe a simple foreknowledge view does not have that problem. God could still be surprised by what happens

Ilíon said...

GK: "... God could still be surprised by what happens."

That "open" little-god is not God; cannot honestly be called 'God.'

Isn't it rather amusing that they call this "open theology," when the whole point to it is to try to stuff God into their shirt-pocket, as though he were a pocket-monster?

cratefromastoria said...

"Did you or did you not attend a private religious college? I wager you did, but will lie about it."

I attend a college in nyc.

Ilíon said...

Welcome to Atheist "Logic" 101

Perezoso said...

You're no logician, Idion: that's quite obvious.

For one, you don't understand that sound arguments require that all premises be confirmed as true (not merely valid forms), and without True premises (not merely possible) an argument is unsound, even if trivially valid.

So when Planty offers a premise (at least implied) like "naturalism is false" a real logician (or intelligent person) says, like, prove it, show it, deal with the counterarguments. Planty did not prove that naturalism (ie physicalism a better term) is false.

He insists upon the falsity of physicalism-- repeats that, chants it--but offers no proof. In fact he ducked the issue: sort of like you do with each of your posts--. Why argue when you can just insult, or do a Jonathan Edwards schtick? Dogma serves your purposes better than Reason does.

Anonymous said...

"He insists upon the falsity of physicalism-- repeats that, chants it--but offers no proof."

Do you mean that he insists it in his discussion with Dennett, or in general whenever he's told to prove it?

Perezoso said...

From the Link:

Naturalism is the view that physics and the sciences can give a complete description of reality. Plantinga defines it as the view that there is no God or anything like God.

Don't mix naturalistic metaphysics with science, says Plantinga. Naturalism is incompatible with theism by definition but not evolution.

THere's more. I haven't bothered to buy Plant.'s books, but have read excerpts from his arguments online, and he seems to take this anti-naturalist perspective regularly. Note Plant. also asserts that "science defeats naturalism" (no support offered).


I don't pretend to be Niels Bohr, but that's hardly the majority view. Ordinary science upholds physicalism and does not offer the theist any support (at least in terms of transcendence).

For that matter, one could argue that naturalism and theism are compatible in some vaguely Spinoza-istic, determined sense (not that I am--but some theo-peoples have).


Read Bricmont on some of the misapplications of quantum physics (ie mystical/theological applications) for a good run-down on this issue. The uncertainty principle (usually negligible, or less than negligible) does not magically create worlds.

Planty also now seems to suggest ala Behe that evolution must relate to theism: a rather bizarre idea. Why would a perfect being create species that develop, mutate, go extinct? The Designer also rather fond of say insects, predators, plagues.

Ilíon said...

"Do you mean that he insists it in his discussion with Dennett, or in general whenever he's told to prove it?"

He means nothing; he intends distraction. He is, after all, intellectually dishonest.

Perezoso said...

Which part do you disagree with? You think Planty disproved physicalism? Hardly.

In other words, you're lying again, Ilion: cardinal sin o' the morning. Then believers depend upon anti-rationalism: the alternative is a bit too scary for 'em.

Anyway, you're a christian about like Mussolini was.

Victor Reppert said...

Perry: I hope you haven't confused these cheap shots with arguments.

Ilíon said...

Exactly.

And, from the fellow's very first post on your blog (or, at any rate, the first I noticed, it being a "cheap shot" directed at me) this has been his manner of "argument." And this manner is why I respond as I do or comment as I do, if I do respond or comment, to all that ilk, whatever that ilk's theological positions.

Perezoso said...

Point out which part you disagree with, or you're no better than Idion. Where's the cheap shot? Planty merely makes assertions (as do most of the believers on this site), like "science defeats naturalism." Hah. Let's ask even some of the gents, like Doc Edis, from secular outpost about that.

The assertions were offered without argument, even of the usual bad Aquinas thing that a MavP does. And in fact, if a premise, it needs to be confirmed, which it wasn't. Really, even Carrier's somewhat obvious points regarding naturalism would hold force here.


(btw, I suspect I know as much or more about FORMAL LOGIC than you, from modus ponens to undecidability itself. Of course that doesn't stop your usual attempt at Ad Auctoritas).

Perezoso said...

Let's put it this way: does the rational parent with a sick child call a doctor, or does he call a priest, or pastor? He calls a doctor, experienced in the natural science of medicine .

The methodological naturalism of the sciences has proven itself FAR more effective than any religious or metaphysical "first philosophy". Plantinga may say that's compatible with theism, but that's beside the point. Religion had little to do with the development of modern medicine, or physics, periodic table etc. Penicillin works. Prayers don't.

Read Quine on Epistemology naturalized for one (that doesn't mean we should accept Quine as a guru). Now, hit me with some of your mafia-xtra-lite invective, Don Ilion.

Anonymous said...

Ilíon is a pathetic lying troll.

Victor Reppert said...

Calling someone a Christian like Mussolini is a cheap shot. Leave them out of your discussion please. If you have arguments, these distract from those real arguments.

Finney said...

Pere, you said
"He insists upon the falsity of physicalism-- repeats that, chants it--but offers no proof. In fact he ducked the issue"

That's not the case, I think. Plantiga's made several arguments against strict physicalism, 2 of which are made in his lecture "Against Materialism" (notes found at http://www.maclaurin.org/article_detail.php?a_id=37). However bad or good those arguments are isn't the point; you made a claim that's not true.

Perezoso said...

OK, but those arguments weren't part of the debate against Dennett, at least as quoted/reported on a few blogs (there may be a youtube).

The quote from Leibniz on preception not arising from mechanical causes is interesting (Leibniz, the theist's Big Gun. Sort of Aquinas cubed). I do not claim strict physicalism to be necessarily true (at least in terms of eliminating Mind, content, belief, concepts). At the same time, even if were some bizarre dualism to hold (un f-n likely) that would not in itself establish monotheism.

Finney said...

"I haven't bothered to buy Plant.'s books, but have read excerpts from his arguments online, and he seems to take this anti-naturalist perspective regularly"

I suggest reading the arguments in context rather than excerpts, because it seems like you've never encountered the EAAN when you think that Plantinga just asserts "Naturalism is incompatible with science" without offering any reasons. Books have been written over his argument, which would be highly unlikely if it were merely a one-liner premise of "Naturalism is incompatible with science". That this is your criticism of Plantinga means that you haven't had any reading of the argument.

That dualism doesn't prove monotheism is irrelevant to the aim of his argument, "against materialism".

Perezoso said...

Will do, Richie Cunningham! Perhaps you can read Quine's Epistemology Naturalized.

I've read enough of Plant. to see that he does often suggest anti-naturalism justifies theism. He affirms a transcendent and dare we say Cartesian mind. There may be additional subtleties (ie the Leibnizina labyrinthe: holy monad, batman), but in essence, he's claiming ghosts aka souls exist.

I do not think that claim is warranted: lobotomies, the effects of alcohol, drugs, hunger, pain, all sorts of physical, neurological events have a direct effect on mental states, and cognition. Some transcendent soul if four shots of Cuervo render it mostly useless, either for driving, or reading Quine. Not real fancy modal argument there, but can hardly be denied.

Finney said...

"I've read enough of Plant. to see that he does often suggest anti-naturalism justifies theism"

He actually doesn't say it justifies theism. He thinks it makes materialism unwarranted, and argues that science and supernaturalism are more consistent than science and materialism.

To your objection, I don't think that does damage to dualism. Think of the soul and body as a transmittor and receiver of a radio set, respectively. That the receiver is damaged may hurt the message conveyed by the transmitter, That the message conveyed by the transmitter is scratched up or gone doesn't need imply that the transmitter itself has been broken.

Rob G said...

"If you have arguments, these distract from those real arguments."

Re: Perezoso, that's a heck of a big "if." One could write a lengthy treatise with the sole purpose of correcting his misconceptions.

Perezoso said...

The big If would be thou: ie. those taking the minority position of dualism, though the clever theist (or at least nominal theist) likes to pretend that he upholds Authoritay of some sort. The Ad Il Duce.

The radio analogy doesn't really work. Radio e-m waves are mechanical processes, even if not physical in the sense that trees or transmitters are physical; indeed the analogy itself all explainable by physical processes.

Even Hobbes had made several good somewhat mechanical remarks against Descartes, centuries ago: thinking implies a thinker, and thinkers are corporeal (at least far more likely than not), just as eating, implies corporeal eaters, or walking implies corporeal walkers.

I respect Descartes (at least the mathematician), but he was not justified in moving from "Cogito," to "Cogito, and I exist in some transcendent supernatural realm apart from my body."

Rob G said...

Christianity does not teach dualism, but instead the idea that the human person is a 'psychosomatic unity.'

Here is David Bentley Hart on the soul/body issue:

**What caught my attention was the unreflective dualism to which all three clearly subscribed: The soul, they assumed, is a kind of magical essence haunting the body, a ghost in a machine.

This is in fact a peculiarly modern view of the matter, not much older than the 17th-century philosophy of Descartes. While it is now the model to which most of us habitually revert when talking about the soul--whether we believe in such things or not--it has scant basis in either Christian or Jewish tradition.

The "living soul" of Scripture is the whole corporeal and spiritual totality of a person whom the breath of God has wakened to life. Thomas Aquinas, interpreting centuries of Christian and pagan metaphysics, defined the immortal soul as the "form of the body," the vital power animating, pervading, shaping an individual from the moment of conception, drawing all the energies of life into a unity.

This is not to deny that, for Christian tradition, the soul transcends and survives the earthly life of the body. It is only to say that the soul, rather than being a kind of "guest" within the self, is instead the underlying mystery of a life in its fullness. In it the multiplicity of experience is knit into a single continuous and developing identity. It encompasses all the dimensions of human existence: animal functions and abstract intellect, sensation and reason, emotion and reflection, flesh and spirit, natural aptitude and supernatural longing. As such, it grants us an openness to the world of which no other creature is capable, allowing us to take in reality through feeling and thought, recognition and surprise, will and desire, memory and anticipation, imagination and curiosity, delight and sorrow, invention and art.**

The whole piece is here:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110006500

If you're going to jump on the Christian idea of the soul, at least get the idea right.

Perezoso said...

Ad Auctoritas. For that matter, St. Thomas was not always considered Authori-tay. Didn't Avicenna call Aquinas a pansy addicted to greek pagan lit or something? The history of Catholic theology often consisted of a battle between the platonic pansies and Aristotelian pansies (quite materialist themselves), until the time of Descartes (and Hobbes, etc.). Once experimental science came to the forefront, the older theological conceptions faded, including the ideas of substance, essence, the soul, etc. Paraphrasing Nietzsche, the church wanted to keep feeding people dogma, immaterialism, the priestly ethos, humility, eternal life/salvation, etc. Naturalism's bad for the God bidness.

Then I get nearly all my info from Wiki's, so I could be mistaken.

Anonymous said...

"indeed the analogy itself all explainable by physical processes."

That's why the parts of the analogy are taken figuratively, not literally, you moron.

Tim said...

Didn't Avicenna call Aquinas a pansy addicted to greek pagan lit or something?

Since Ibn Sina died early in the 11th century, that would have been difficult.

Robert said...

Hello Rob G,

Thanks for bringing up a great statement on dualism properly conceived by David Hart (one of my favorite theologians). Regarding Hart and since this thread involves Dennett, Rob did you see Hart's absolutely devastating review of Dennett's book on religion (found here:

http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=5394

??

Hart absolutely annihilates Dennett's views, Rob have you read it?

Robert

Perezoso said...

You put forth an irrelevant analogy, you're the moron, moron: besides, analogies are never necessary arguments, even when relevant.

Then, if you've held the Bible to be infallible since your first indoctrination in sunday school, you're probably included in the class of Morons until grave.

Perezoso said...
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Perezoso said...

Aver-oe, Avicenna, who cares: leave it to the heritage-mongers to focus on a trivial issue to try to score points (bogus points).

The important point was that Aquinas was accused of impiety for bringing back Aristotle. The Augustinian school did hold to a dualism for most part, and so Rob B not entirely correct even in terms of dogma-slinging.

Some of us read a bit of the Stagirite back in the day: the square of opposition ain't exactly scripture. Aristotle's politics not at all Judeo-Christian anyway.

The code of Aristotle serves the emperors well--Alexander, and then Caesar, or Marcus Aurelius--no friend of christians (he sounds about like Nietzsche when discussing them).

Aristotle gave the catholic church a certain power (even Caesarian) that it had lacked.

The more important point, however, missed by moron, was that the transmitter/receiver analogy, while not lacking a certain illustrative power, does not prove anything, whatsoever, but a nice red herring, sort of akin to the watchmaker analogy and others.

Rob G said...

"Hart absolutely annihilates Dennett's views, Rob have you read it?"

Yes, I'm in the process of reading Hart' new book, "In The Aftermath," right now and that piece is in there. Hart is the bomb. I'm glad we Orthodox have him! ;-)

"Ad Auctoritas. For that matter, St. Thomas was not always considered Authori-tay."

For a more detailed traversal of this issue (Hart did, after all, write this piece as a column for the WSJ) see John Paul II's "The Theology of the Body." That early Christianity did not hold to soul/body dualism is well documented therein by the late pope.

"Once experimental science came to the forefront, the older theological conceptions faded, including the ideas of substance, essence, the soul, etc."

This "argument" is a pious fraud put forth by the church of naturalism, the philosophes, etc. It ignores the fact that many of the pioneers of experimental science were themselves believers, and saw no conflict between science and faith (which is the same with many today, I might add),

"Paraphrasing Nietzsche, the church wanted to keep feeding people dogma, immaterialism, the priestly ethos, humility, eternal life/salvation, etc. Naturalism's bad for the God bidness."

The "it's all about control" bit? Please. The only people I know who still take this argument seriously are the Randians.

Perezoso said...

Your typical diversion: ah, no one believes that anymore, except Randians, so you're a Randian! Nyet.

Given the rise of the Dennett/Dawkins/Hitchens gang, and the backlash against fundamentalism of all sorts, and even the continuing presence of the Randians it's quite obvious many humans are concerned with the churches' power-- and abuses of power. I don't support objectivists, though Aynnie knew her Aristotle, unlike the usual seminary student; she also quoted Jefferson & friends once in a while.

Ilíon said...

'Atheist' "argument" at its finest!

LOL

Just keep in mind, guys, that this fellow is not arguing and he is not seeking truth. Keep that in mind and you'll be less likely to be goaded into responding in anger.

Perezoso said...

How do you know Idion's lying? He has a new post up.

You're no logicians, either. Analogies are not valid arguments. And arguments making use of unconfirmable premises (a God exists, or a soul exists, Heaven exists, etc etc) are unsound, even if trivially valid.

Indeed to suggest (as most DIsters do regularly) that there are necessary arguments for God, when there aren't, is a type of mendacity as well. The dogma is not infallible, and neither is Aquinas. So you are left with "faith".

Robert said...

Rob G said:

“Yes, I'm in the process of reading Hart' new book, "In The Aftermath," right now and that piece is in there. Hart is the bomb. I'm glad we Orthodox have him! ;-)”

You guys are lucky, I wish I could clone that guy! Have you read THE BEAUTY OF THE INFINITE yet?

Rob G why are you wasting time trying to reason with “Perezoso”?

Ilion is right when he says:

“Just keep in mind, guys, that this fellow is not arguing and he is not seeking truth. Keep that in mind and you'll be less likely to be goaded into responding in anger.”

Ilion I believe that you would enjoy the piece written by Hart as well: have you read it?

Finally, Victor have you read the Hart piece on Dennett? And if you have, why haven’t you posted it on your blog yet so that everyone can **enjoy** it? :-)

Robert

Ilíon said...

Foolish Person: "How do you know Idion's lying? He has a new post up."

Foolish, petty, pointless man, do you *really* imagine that you get my goat? And especially in such an infantile manner?

Who is 'Idos,' and why should I care that you've confused him with 'Ilos?'

Ilíon said...

Robert, I *might* have read it soon after it was published on First Things (I don't remember at the moment).

But, thanks for asking if I'd read it ... and thus reminding me that I'd intended to check out the link you provided: Daniel Dennett Hunts the Snark

Ilíon said...
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Perezoso said...

You're mistaken again. Dogma does not suffice as proof of Judeo-Christiainity (as Hume pointed out. You just won't read it, or can't understand it). So you say the dogma is correct? A minority and indeed nearly fascist view. Idion sound fairly blackshirt like to some of us (as I said, macho man, step in a ring, legal and proper like. LA way. Capiche?). And Darwin/Lyell offered rather substantial revisions of the Old Testament.

The Aquinas chestnuts are not proof either: KANT himself dealt with those rather effectively (then I doubt you've read that either. THEOLOGY IS NOT PHILOSOPHY). Nor is Descartes: the Cogito itself not axiomatic.

So, you're dissembling. Not that that ever stopped the xtian-mafioso.

You don't only mock the Founding Fathers, you mock Reason, and the Enlightenment itself.

SE said...

Foolish, petty, pointless man, do you *really* imagine that you get my goat? And especially in such an infantile manner?

Actually a description of Ilíon himself, an obvious fool who imagines that calling anyone who challenges his delusions a "fool" or "liar" makes it so, or will get an angry reaction (his real purpose). He lives in a fantasy world where invisible magic beings are conjured from thin air by his imagination, so it's no surprise that he imagines he has exposed those "dishonest" atheists as well with his childish comments.

Perezoso said...
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Perezoso said...

The anger and bellicosity of the DI pious amuses me: turn the other cheek, brutthr!

I have not argued for complete "atheism," btw: my position that of strong agnosticism (and against monotheism). Pointing out the lack of convincing arguments which would establish the existence of "God," or asserting the dogma of OT and NT is unreliable does not equate to '"all religious thinking is mistaken."

Simply mention Hume, or Jefferson and Co, and they start shrieking. Really, anyone who values calvinism over the principles of the Founding Fathers (however quaint they seem to modern academia, or hipsters) should simply be ignored. We don't have to idolize Ayn Rand to understand the need for secular tolerance, and the need to oppose fundamentalism, whether of jiahdists, Opus Dei freaks, or the baptist-mormon bonehead sort.

Rob G said...

"Given the rise of the Dennett/Dawkins/Hitchens gang..."

They'd be far more compelling if they actually knew a damn thing about what Christianity actually teaches. As they are now, they barely rise to the level of interesting.

**Rob G why are you wasting time trying to reason with “Perezoso”?**

LOL. Good question. Tar baby and all...

I've read Hart's "The Beauty of the Infinite" but, frankly, much of it was over my head. I did thoroughly enjoy, however, the section where he discussed postmodernism and deconstruction. That section alone is worth the price of the book, IMO.

Perezoso said...

The usual Ad Mysterium from Rob B. You're the derailers here , and sounding more calvinist with each post. I'm not too fond of Dennett; Hitchens, however, knows his skeptical classics pretty well, and quite rhetorically gifted (DawkinsSpeak may be a bit raw for some, but TGD outlines the counterarguments fairly effectively).

Anyway, Mainstream Christianity rarely touches upon the system of Aquinas, or Calvin, or religious philosophy. Rev. Hagee is not discussing the First Cause argument (if he even understands it). He's whipping up his congregation into a froth with some loudmouthed rants from the Book of Revelation (As are preachers, rabbis, imams, priests the world over--though using the dogma particular to their own sect).

Of course, there's little point in having reasonable discussions with biblethumping zombies who actually accept the authenticity of the Book of Revelation (as the True Believer must, since it's all Gawd's word and therefore inerrant) .

Holy Doomsday Asteroid of Providence, batman

Ilíon said...

You know, the main reason for the interminability of the “free-will” “debate” is that most persons -- including most who have posted in this thread -- are so utterly resistant to wrapping their minds around the quite simple fact that there is no such thing as “the future.”

Ilíon said...

It's just about impossible to discover truth when you persist in (and insist upon) asking the wrong questions.

SE said...

the quite simple fact that there is no such thing as “the future.”

I think this is an interesting question, and in an everyday sense you're right, but it depends upon your view of time, also. To a character in a novel, on page 41 the events on page 141 haven't "happened" yet and so do not yet exist for them, but for the reader of the novel, who can skip ahead to see what is going to take place, that "future" is already there.


It's just about impossible to discover truth when you persist in (and insist upon) asking the wrong questions.


True.

Rob G said...

"The usual Ad Mysterium from Rob B. You're the derailers here , and sounding more calvinist with each post."

Hah! I'm an Eastern Orthodox and probably couldn't be more strongly ANTI-Calvinist. It was, in fact, an examination of Calvinism that led me to Orthodoxy (go figure).

And it's Rob 'G', not 'B.'

SE said...

And it's Rob 'G', not 'B.'

Looks like a plain old everyday typo to me Rob B.

Oops, I meant Rob G (what does the G stand for, gullible)?