Friday, September 17, 2010

Lofty Thoughts By Loftus on Loftus

BDK, if brain studies mean anything people are persuaded into thinking differently. They aren't just reasoned into it. Persuasion. So in the interests of persuading people rather than follow up on what seems to me to be a dead end I simply try a different tact. You can claim what you do all you want to. It's just that I can better persuade my opponents by several different ways of seeking the same truth than following them down the rabbit hole.

We see things differently. I know this. You don't seem to. That's our difference. It's not about more detailed arguments and reasoning. It's about helping those who disagree with me to see things my way. It takes a conversion, a new way of seeing the evidence, much like a lawyer who becomes a prosecutor in the midst of the same trial.

That's the genius of what I do, although for this I am railed against by my own side. Still I know what I'm doing and I'm making a difference.


There you have it, in his own words. This is a time-honored tradition that goes all the way back to the Sophists of ancient Greece.

192 comments:

awatkins69 said...

You have to at least admire the evangelistic zeal. However, I'm not sure that admitting that you forego reasoning for the sake of soul-winning is going to convince anybody.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Using that technique, he won't persuade those who are persuaded by rational discourse. I guess we do see things differently.

John W. Loftus said...

The facts are the facts. Kick against these goads all you want to. I have a properly basic belief that God doesn't exist. The only thing left is to persuade. ;-) <-----

Or, you could tell me how to reach brainwashed people. You cannot reason with them. They are impervious to reasoning. They always have an escape clause much like the guy who thought he was dead, was convinced dead men don't bleed, then upon being cut with a knife concluded dead men do bleed after all! All I'm doing is treating the patient in ways appropriate to their illness. This is exactly what I see in you. since you have not shown me otherwise.

You don't like this. I understand that. But if you don't like it then don't invite me here with posts like this one.

Eric said...

"Or, you could tell me how to reach brainwashed people. You cannot reason with them. They are impervious to reasoning."

John, I don't think you really believe this. When you believed, were you brainwashed? Let's say you agree that you were (I don't buy the 'brainwashing' thing in most cases, but let's go with it for now); you were still in part reasoned out of your belief, right? Or look at all the former preachers who have given up their faith that you post about on DC; I suppose many of them were brainwashed, as believers, by your standards, yet they were in part reasoned out of their belief, right? Clearly, by your own standards, 'brainwashed' people aren't impervious to reason. It seems to me as if you're using this charge to avoid engaging the arguments on these threads, and that surprises me. You may think the arguments are horrible, and you may think they're not worth engaging (we all make these judgments some of the time), and that's fine (I disagree but I understand), but I don't think the 'brainwashed' charge alone does any work here; in fact, I think it's clearly counterproductive.

mattghg said...

And he thinks he's a 'genius' as well. Chuckle.

Tim said...

The quotation that forms the bulk of this post sounds disturbingly like a rationalization for being rude and childish.

I think this would fall within the scope of the things that Phil Plait had in mind when he spoke at TAM8 this summer. We all have to decide what we will not do in order to try to persuade others.

John W. Loftus said...

Counter productive to what, Eric? there are people impervious to reason. My judgment over the years is that this applies to Vic. I might be wrong but that's exactly what I think.

I said what it took for me to walk away from the faith in my book WIBA and I was not purely resasoned out of my faith.

Sometimes all one can do is be that person in the crowd who yells out, "Hey he doesn't have any clothes on." This is the level at which Vic is at in my judgment. I'm better off staying away but then next up, Vic quotes these words of mine in a post tomorrow too.

mattghg someone can do something that is genius without himself being a genius.

What idiots there are here.

nect I'll learn this guy is a PH.D. and then the other idiots here will proclaim I called some important PH.D. guy an idiot.

Idiots almost all.

John W. Loftus said...

Phil Plait? Sheesh.

steve said...

Well, as my Scottish forebears would say, "Never shaw your teeth unless you can bite."

Loftus has done a lot of tooth-baring, but where's the intellectual bite to match the choppers? Rhetorical dentation without rational indentation doesn't leave a mark. It only merits a swat on the nozzle with a rolled up newspaper.

Eric said...

"Counter productive to what, Eric?"

I suppose that's the real question. I had supposed that your aim was to attempt to attempt to provide a rational case against theistic belief, and against Christian belief in particular, with the goal of persuading theists that their beliefs are false. Now I agree, calling a believer "brainwashed" may bring him to atheism or agnosticism if he's not very reflective, but that's not the sort you're dealing with on Victor's blog: BDK (an atheist himself), Victor, Joshua, Tim and the like are clearly well educated, intelligent and rational people, and as such they demand arguments and evidence, and simply will not brook unwarranted charges of 'brainwashing' or 'delusion.' You too are obviously well educated, intelligent and rational, and when you're on top of your game you make a great case, but when you get carried away emotionally, as you have in my judgment done on a few threads here, you don't help your case with those who are well educated, intelligent and rational.

"there are people impervious to reason."

I agree, and I try my best to avoid reasoning with them.

"My judgment over the years is that this applies to Vic. I might be wrong but that's exactly what I think."

I have to say that this really surprises me. In my judgment, Vic is obviously one of the most reasonable bloggers out there. I don't think atheists the caliber of Clayton or BDK would engage with him so regularly if this were not so.

"I said what it took for me to walk away from the faith in my book WIBA and I was not purely resasoned out of my faith."

Right, which is why I said that you were "in part reasoned out of your faith." But this means that you, as a believer, weren't impervious to reason, which was my only point.

"Sometimes all one can do is be that person in the crowd who yells out, "Hey he doesn't have any clothes on.""

Again, I agree, but it depends on (1) the obviousness of the claim you're making, and (2) the kind of crowd you're in. I don't think, given the generally high intellectual level of the crowd that frequents this blog, and given the fact that the claims you're making are not at all obviously true, that that particular strategy is counterproductive.

Eric said...

Ack, sorry for the errors:

"I had supposed that your aim was *to attempt to provide a rational case against theistic belief..."

"I don't think, given the generally high intellectual level of the crowd that frequents this blog, and given the fact that the claims you're making are not at all obviously true, that that particular strategy is *productive."

Proofreading *after* you post isn't exactly productive either...

steve said...

Here's a little experiment: since Loftus has the "equivalent" of a PhD, why doesn't he submit an article to Philo, in which his argument against Christianity consists of stipulating ad nauseam that Christians are brainwashed, and see how far that gets in the peer review process.

Anonymous said...

I'm no phd, just a regular reader of this blog, and one who only comments very occasionally.

The back-and-forth of the past few days has removed pretty much any possibility of me buying any of Loftus' books. My usual procedure is to read Amazon reviews, or flick through books in a bookstore, but I won't need that when I can come here and see first hand that the author makes poor arguments in an infantile, stubborn manner.

Perhaps my judgement is harsh based on Loftus' online activities, and perhaps his printed work is of a better standard. Nonetheless, the weight of evidence would suggest it'd be a waste of my money.

Anonymous said...

Loftus is to atheism what Jim Bakker is to Christianity.

That some atheists can't see this is... a lot of things. But hilarious is one of those things.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, VR, I wish you would be a bit more polemical in your posts. And with guys like Loftus, there's so much to work with.

John W. Loftus said...

I am not here to win friends. And I don't have any regard for Steve Hays who has never heard a good argument against his faith, nor cowardly anonymous comments which as far as I can tell are written by him, or Vic. To avoid this confusion I do not allow them on my blog.

But I do agree with David Silverman folks, that The Future of (Secular) Humanism (or "So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades").

And I'm so happy to be a part of it regardless of whether people here buy my books or not.

And I've already explained why I could care less about writing a scholarly article, although I have written some and I might write one more. It's because I'd rather spend my time reaching the educated person in the pew. that's why.

Genius or not, like me or not, this is what I'm doing. Skewer me all you like. I really don't care. I'm going to help change the religious landscape.

Steven said...

Loftus said: "I don't have any regard for Steve Hays who has never heard a good argument against his faith"

Of course, he's heard some of your arguments; I guess you admit here that your arguments are no good.

At least you're modest in some respects!

Joshua Blanchard said...

Has anyone bothered to explain to John the technical meaning of the term "brainwashing"? Uninterestingly, for his arguments from this premise to work, the technical meaning has to obtain; yet he applies the word only in its popular sense. I assume somewhere someone has done this, maybe even here. I just haven't seen it.

John writes, "Skewer me all you like."

It is interesting to note how many of the traits of standard conservative Christian apologetics Loftus has inherited. I'll list some (I take this whole thread to be frivolous, which is why I'm having some fun):

(1) Persecution complex projected onto regular disagreement and debate
(2) Constant need to bombard the reader with quotes from scholarly sources in agreement with his conclusions (see e.g. Josh McDowell, who if I remember correctly had influence on Christian Loftus).
(3) Resort to psychological assumptions when arguments don't convince (opponents fail to compensate for the mistakes in their "brains" - an issue Loftus has curiously never explained in any depth, perhaps reflective of his level of understanding of the technical issues).
(4) Proclaimed, proud a-rational goal of just pushing his opponents, by any means necessary, into a certain kind of recognition of the truth of his beliefs - curiously similar to strategies that result in the brainwashing Loftus claim to dislike.

Can anyone think of any others?

Lastly, I think it is important to recognize that to some extent Loftus may be (he can clarify) attempting to be deeply ironical in some fashion. He might be trying, due to either poor education or sloppy reading or mischievous choice, to mimic what he takes to be religious tactics - see for example his cute but obtuse reference to proper basicality above. It may be useful to cease responding to his incitements. Since the arguments are few and far between (e.g. he keeps linking to that same post on "brainwashing," where no recognizable argument is present beyond question-begging assertions that don't even answer the question he sets out for himself), it won't be hard to just respond to what's valuable.

Joshua Blanchard said...

Sorry, the form appeared to reject the comment, when it actually accepted. Then again, maybe by submitting the comment twice I can "overwhelm" my opponents.

That is, my "educated" opponents ... who are brainwashed and won't listen to reasons and arguments.

awatkins69 said...

"It may be useful to cease responding to his incitements."

^That's what I'm saying. Don't give him the attention he begs for. It's just like a little kid. If you keeping giving the boy attention whenever he does something bad, he keeps doing it because he wants more.

Arthur said...

If brainwashing is not really a great problem.And reasoning is always such a really good answer to try help some people see their mistakes.

Im wondering what happened to all the amazing magical reasoning folks,when they were really needed to help in cases like Jim Jones or David Koresh.And why cant these magicians of reasoning help us out today with the Taliban or chatting with Kim Jong-il or religious cult leaders.And where does all the reason disappear to, when many people will buy lots of junk and later on end up paying even more for it.

I know maybe i will possibly be hated for seeming to even agree with what John Loftus seems to suggest.But im not afraid to agree with what i think maybe holds quite a lot of valid truth to it.

Yes sure there are some people that are reasoned into what they believe.But plenty more around us are brainwashed.

And if some people are not often almost "impervious to reasoning" as John Loftus suggests ,then why is it we have so much trouble reasoning with the likes of Kim Jong-il or Taliban or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Fred Phelps or maybe even discussion with the Catholic church with regards to the matter of sex abuse .And why is there so much controversy that gets to build up over matters like for instance the mosque at ground zero or Quran burnings ,we should find this magical reasoning is always such a really wonderful handy dandy tool right?, to help us keep most all these people thinking more reasonable.

No personally i cant agree reason is always as helpful as some people would like to suggest it might be.

Yes sometimes reason is most useful ,but many times it not so useful either.

I think people should choose to use what they personally find to be most useful in situations that arise.

Anonymous said..."Sometimes, VR, I wish you would be a bit more polemical in your posts. And with guys like Loftus, there's so much to work with."

Anonymous is very quick, and realizes there is some milage to be gained by using different techniques depending on who you are dealing with.

Part of learning to go fishing,is deciding exactly what bait is best bait to use, depending on what type of fish are around doing the biting.

The smartest fish in the sea that survive the longest, learn when its best not to be bothered swallowing the bait.

PhysicistDave said...

Eric wrote:
> I don't think the 'brainwashed' charge alone does any work here; in fact, I think it's clearly counterproductive.

Perhaps it would have been better if John had said “convinced by social and emotional pressure”?

Look: by far the best predictor of someone’s religious views is his parents’ views. If we hear that someone is Muslim or Hindu or Christian, by far the best guess is that his parents were Muslim or Hindu or Christian respectively. This just cannot be a coincidence: it is clear that people tend uncritically to accept the religious views of the environment in which they were reared, differing depending on that religious environment.

And, that is compelling evidence that the environment causes the religious views independent of rational thought.

Anyone familiar with the details of how kids are treated in their religious upbringing knows the details of how this works: how many kids are told “Explore atheism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, etc. for yourself and try to make up your own mind rationally”?

“Brianwashing”?

Yeah.

I fact, I cannot think of any other example of brainwashing as clear as this. Can you?

Dave Miller in Sacramento

PhysicistDave said...

Eric wrote:
>I suppose that's the real question. I had supposed that your aim was to attempt to attempt to provide a rational case against theistic belief, and against Christian belief in particular, with the goal of persuading theists that their beliefs are false.

Hmmmm….. Eric, a lot of us non-believers think that this has been done so often that any honest non-brainwashed Christian has already discovered the truth and abandoned the Satanic faith of Christ: Hume’s argument against miracles, the scholarly historical-critical study of the Bible (vide so many of Ehrman’s books), the obvious arguments from comparative religion, etc.

Christianity has not entirely disappeared simply because of the social and emotional pressures that keep people in the church, much as Soviet Communism endured decades after it was clear to honest people that it had failed.

So, perhaps what is needed is *counter* social and emotional pressures, to encourage wavering folks to free themselves from the Satanic bonds of the church.

Personally, if I run across serious, honest arguments from Christians in favor of Christianity, I try to answer them. But, that has not happened in decades. Instead, what I get is attacks on atheist morality, bizarre attempts to revive disproven philosophy (a la Ed Feser’s Scholasticism fetish), utter contempt for modern science (I have a Ph.D. in physics), etc.

I myself have had enough, and I decided some time ago to treat Christians just as they treat non-believers. Traditional Christianity maintains that I deserve to go to Hell unless I accept a bunch of crazy myths about a dead Jewish carpenter?

Two can play at that game!

In my judgment, all traditional Christians deserve to go to Hell for believing in a Satanic doctrine, and I do not see why I should hide that opinion of Christians, any more than most Christians hide their opinion of non-believing human beings.

Dave

John W. Loftus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John W. Loftus said...

Arthur and Dave, thank you so much.

Listen, recently two prominent philosophers of religion have called it quits with regard to their discipline.

Over the past ten years I have published, in one venue or another, about twenty things on the philosophy of religion. I have a book on the subject, God and Burden of Proof, and another criticizing Christian apologetics, Why I am not a Christian. During my academic career I have debated William Lane Craig twice and creationists twice. I have written one master’s thesis and one doctoral dissertation in the philosophy of religion, and I have taught courses on the subject numerous times. But no more. I’ve had it.

Keith Parsons wrote: "I now regard “the case for theism” as a fraud and I can no longer take it seriously enough to present it to a class as a respectable philosophical position—no more than I could present intelligent design as a legitimate biological theory. BTW, in saying that I now consider the case for theism to be a fraud, I do not mean to charge that the people making that case are frauds who aim to fool us with claims they know to be empty. No, theistic philosophers and apologists are almost painfully earnest and honest; I don’t think there is a Bernie Madoff in the bunch. I just cannot take their arguments seriously any more, and if you cannot take something seriously, you should not try to devote serious academic attention to it. I’ve turned the philosophy of religion courses over to a colleague."

John Beversluis: "Keith and I have emailed about getting out of the philosophy of religion. I've made the same decision. I'm through wasting my time trying to convince people who don't want to be convinced of the irrationality of their beliefs. And I have had more than enough verbal abuse from the Richard Purtills, the Peter Kreefts, and the Thomas Talbotts. We are all getting older and I, for my part, would much rather read books I want to read (or reread) and listen to great music that I either don't know or want to know better. Not to mention, spending more time with my wife instead of constantly yielding to the lure of the computer to work on yet another project that will convince few, antagonize some, and be ignored by most. Interestingly, Keith and I came to this conclusion more or less simultaneously but independently."

I have been writing and blogging almost daily for about six years on these topics and studying them for about forty years. At some point you just lose respect for the case of your opponents and in some cases you lose respect for some of the people who espouse them.

As they can't take this seriously anymore, neither can I. That's how bad we think the case for theism and Christianity is.

John W. Loftus said...

Sorry, the quote from Parsons begins one paragraph earlier with the words: "Over the past ten years I have published...

I was waiting for Vic to link to what he said but I guess Vic didn't think it worthwhile!?

John W. Loftus said...

I was trying to provoke Vic into linking to what Parsons said but decided instead (after just a few minutes) to do it for him. You'll have to get there via my blog *ahem* but then it's my find after all.

I liked what he said so much I'm opening my next book with what he said.

Blue Devil Knight said...

John, since you have become incapable of engaging in the give-and-take of rational argument with people that disagree with you, then this is the wrong blog for you.

It's clear that you have become a promoter, a witness, an evangelical, a cheerleader for adolescent atheists. This isn't the right place for you: you belong on the street corner handing out cartoon-filled pamphlets like your evangelical dopplegangers. Debunking Christianity seems to fit that bill perfectly.

You have the audacity to act as if you are the victim of an unprovoked attack, the unwitting victim of Victor's abuse. Let's be clear about what really happened. You have constantly badgered Victor to read your book, to engage with your devastating arguments because he doesn't "get it." Victor reads said book and responds in great detail. Suddenly you become completely uninterested in discussing your arguments. The crusader full of bluster and combat and provocation has suddenly become a dumb mute. Like the schoolyard bully when someone finally puts his foot down.

Incidentally, there was an extensive discussion of Parsons' post here about a week ago. However, why would anyone here would bother discussing it with you after you have proven yourself such an unfit interlocutor?

This blog isn't Jim Jones. Parsons was smart enough to call it quits. Connect the dots, John.

John W. Loftus said...

BDK didn't we agree to ignore each other? You are one of the most ignorant people on my side of the fence I have ever met online. This does not have to do with your evaluation of my contributions only in so far as you cannot possibly have read them enough to conclude as you do about me, which means you are too quick to conclude what you do on scant evidence unlike the scientist you are who merely records what he observes in a petrie dish but cannot think critically outside of that task.

You are a buffoon. So when I say I'm not interested in making friends that applies to everyone, although I do like having the one or two friends I do (which includes my wife, mom, brothers and children).

Jason Pratt said...

Incidentally, here is where Victor set up a discussion for KP and Bv's burnout a week or so ago. The article links to Prosblogion, which also provides links to (and discussion about) the comments from Drs. Parsons and Beversluis.

JRP

Joshua Blanchard said...

Loftus say, "[Y]ou cannot possibly have read [my contributions] enough to conclude as you do about me."

I don't know which is more startling - that Loftus thinks this way, or admits publicly that he thinks this way. It is just bizarre, even uncomfortable, picturing respectable authors speaking about their interlocutors in such a fashion. The normal mode is to say, "Your arguments X, Y, and Z, make ____ errors about my statements A, B, and C." His persistent refusal to do this, in my interactions with him anyway, are truly incredible. I have discovered that no matter how clear and explicit I am regarding what I am responding to and why, the response is always the same.

Tim said...

John says, of BDK:

"You are one of the most ignorant people on my side of the fence I have ever met online."

I've gone a few rounds with BDK in earlier threads, and I find this statement bizarre. BDK and I disagree about a lot of things, but I cannot imagine an excuse for calling him ignorant. He is intelligent, thoughtful, well-informed, and courteous. And he reasons like a grown man: he makes arguments, criticizes arguments, and cites literature. He even admits when you've made a good point. I haven't once seen him stoop to petty insults and name-calling.

I can have a conversation with a person like that. I can learn from a conversation with someone like that. And I can respect him even though we disagree deeply.

Anonymous said...

"Listen, recently two prominent philosophers of religion have called it quits with regard to their discipline."

Nope, they were both minor players, not prominent at all. Not exactly Alvin Plantinga or Richard Swinburne. Or, dare I say it, the late great Antony Flew.

PhysicistDave said...

I've tried several times (starting last night) to post a comment explaining why scientifically oriented people cannot take modern apologetics seriously. It appears for a moment and then vanishes. Anyone know why?

I want to avoid suddenly having a dozen copies show up because I don't understand how this system works!

And, if Vic has silently banned me, perhaps he can simply let me and everyone know.

PhysicistDave said...

Let me add that I am, in fact, a fan of C. S. Lewis’: I read “Screwtape” and “Mere Christianity” decades ago in my undergrad days, and have since read “God in the Dock,” “The World’s Last Night,” “The Great Divorce,” etc.

But Lewis’ points can now be, and have been, answered: e.g., the issue of the source of the moral law, raised in “Mere Christianity” can now be answered by evolutionary psych., game theory, etc. His “Liar/Lunatic/Lord” trichotomy now has to be supplemented by “Legend,” which is the most likely option in light of modern Biblical scholarship (see, e.g., Ehrman’s “Jesus Interrupted,” or his longer “Introduction to the New Testament”).

As a scientist, I accept that objective evidence will often refute my most cherished theory. The Christian theory that Jesus was God, as expounded by Lewis, has been refuted.

The result has been deeply embarrassing attempts to prop up the discredited theory: I have in mind, for example Ed Feser’s horrible “The Last Superstition,” which pretends to justify Scholasticism by giving examples from modern science, examples which he gets horribly wrong.

Feser is a joke.
(CONT.)

PhysicistDave said...

(CONT.)
When scientifically literate people such as myself look at modern Christian apologetics, we see simply embarrassing nonsense, such as constant claims that scientists think the universe began with the Big Bang (ignoring modern inflationary cosmology, which goes back decades).

Why don’t we seriously debate the serious arguments put out by Christians? What serious arguments? All I have been able to find produced by Christians in recent decades is nonsense produced by people who are near illiterates: occasionally, someone recommends to me some supposedly intelligent Christian apologist, but the apologist turns out to be even worse than I expected (e.g., Plantinga).

Intellectually, Christianity is now the likes of Plantinga, Feser, etc.

There is no there there.

Dave

P.S. This is the non-posting post: I don't know why it posts in two parts but no one.

John W. Loftus said...

I have a much lower estimation of anyone who says BDK is a reasonable person. He's not. Only idiots would say such a thing. Apparently you cannot read. That's what I think. And just because I will not defend this assertion does not mean I can't if I decided to spend a few hours wasting my time researching all of the times I've dealt with him. Just look at his last comment, okay? I could rip him a new asshole if I took the time to do so, but he's not worth it.

And I expected Blanchard with the sophomoric attitude to chime in. He does not know he's infected with being ignorant of his own ignorance.

Listen folks, idiots. If you have ever read Paul Johnson's The Intellectuals you know people who have caricature flaws have made a huge impact on our society. I am positive that people (adults) who agreed with Socrates hated him as I am that people on both sides hated Nietzsche. Call them whatever you want, arrogant, boastful, etc, does not change a thing. They changed the world.

[Waiting with baited breath for the idiots to respond with the standard line about me not being anything like them].

Arthur said...

PhysicistDave said..."P.S. This is the non-posting post: I don't know why it posts in two parts but no one."

Hi Dave.Vic doesnt moderate or ban people as far as i can tell.There is some problem within blogging itself that sometimes wont allow some comments through, specially the larger ones like you noticed.And they can disappear exactly like you discribed.Lately i have experienced this can happen on some other blogs too.

Tim said...

Dave,

It isn't just you: I've had the same problem recently on several posts. Sometimes posting in two parts works; sometimes that fails too. It's something wrong with the Blogger/Blogspot sofware -- a known bug, not yet resolved.

I have also read Ehrman's works, but I have a very different estimate of them than you do. Perhaps we could discuss that issue some time.

I don't know which apologists you have in mind, but William Lane Craig works very hard to keep abreast of inflationary cosmology and regularly consults working physicists and astronomers.

Speaking of being behind the times, I did notice that you referred to Hume's critique of reported miracles. Are you aware of the recent work on that has put the Humeans very much on the defensive, e.g. John Earman's book Hume's Abject Failure?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Tim thank you that is very generous of you to say.

John W. Loftus said...

In Defense of Hume.

Blue Devil Knight said...

John: I will leave you and your 'caricature flaws' [sic] alone for now, and enjoy roasting marshmellows in the heat of your internet meltdown.

Tim said...

John,

Yes, I know: I reviewed Fogelin's book in Mind 114 (2005): 145-149.

John W. Loftus said...

Tim I'll try to find it online if I can, thanks. But I'll tell you this much, even if Hume can be taken to task for not dealing with Bayesian priors the case for miracles will not get any stronger. It's been debunked so many times by people like Mackie and Flew and others it's laughable that so-called educated people think the historian can establish them.

John W. Loftus said...

'caricature flaws'

One of them is in clicking "yes" when my spell checker notices I failed to type an "h" without looking to see which word it thinks I intended to write.

But my, oh my I have many more of them, just ask my family and friends.

John W. Loftus said...

And Tim, is one of your Bayesian priors the belief that the tombs were opened and the dead OT saints claim out of them alive when Jesus died?

No, don't bother, for I would ask you about ten dozen other priors in succession.

Tim said...

BDK,

Sounds like we could have an ecumenical gathering around the electronic campfire. If Vic brings some graham crackers I bring some Hershey bars, can we make s'mores? I'll also bring a set and clock and we can do some blitz while we munch.

Tim said...

John,

You could limit the damage by not trying to pretend that you know anything about probability. Proverbs 17:28 and all that.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Tim: I think it would more be a matter of you schooling my sorry butt.

John W. Loftus said...

Tim, I gotta go, but I easily admit I don't know much about probability compared to you. Why did you suppose I thought otherwise? I can't figure this out from anything I said.

But you'd be dead wrong to suppose that your knowledge about probability theory makes you any expert in Biblical criticism, or as a historian. Can you use it to show a donkey could talk, an axe head could float, or that a rock could pour forth water? What say ye about the probability of a woman turning to salt or a man who is swallowed by a great mythical fish?

Don't suppose for one nanosecond that more knowledge in a particular area means you are right when you apply that knowledge or that you can speak outside that area.

You know what I mean. Don't pretend you don't.

normajean said...

Re. BDK, not to kiss too much of his butt, BUT the theistic fellows I role with also share much of Tim’s sentiments in private. Now, of course, I usually default to the instruction of my Christian colleagues when wrestling with difficult philosophical ideas though these days I find myself contemplating a bit of BDK because his arguments are so good. Even when I disagree with the man in private (I’m not on his level to object to him in public) my view of him remains favorable, jus sayin. That guy is solid!

Tim said...

John,

You say:

[Y]ou'd be dead wrong to suppose that your knowledge about probability theory makes you any expert in Biblical criticism, or as a historian.

And I never claimed it did. The study I've done of those areas is only tangentially connected to my day job.

I don't assume that, because you clean carpets for a living, you must be unaware of scholarship in history and biblical studies. Why would you assume that, because I teach philosophy for a living, I must be unaware of such scholarship?

Arthur said...

Blue Devil Knight said...
Using that technique, he won't persuade those who are persuaded by rational discourse. I guess we do see things differently."

Hi Blue.

Were you refering to ability of re-persuading the many folks who were first persuaded by rabid pastors standing at a pulpit, frothing at the mouth.Or fundy parents threatning hell brimstones and eternal damnation for any of those who dared choose not to listen :)

Folks spoon fed on such rational conversion technique.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Arthur: I was talking about the adults at this site that are quite capable of rational discussion, thank you very much.

normajean, I appreciate it, though you sell yourself short a bit I think.

benyachov said...

>Ed Feser’s horrible “The Last Superstition,” which pretends to justify Scholasticism by giving examples from modern science, examples which he gets horribly wrong.

I reply:As someone who actually read book I know for a fact Feser didn't give any examples from modern science to justify scholasticism. Anyone who has read the book knows by defintion that is impossible in scholasticism. At best he briefly cited an essay by Heisenberg on how quantum phenomena resemble Aristotle's metaphysics on actualities & potencies. But he made a careful distiction between Aristotles faulty physics vs his metaphysics.

The book is about making a purely philosophical & metaphysical argument for God. It explicitly says he rejects the empiricism of both the Atheists & Machanistic Theists.

Your rant is unconvincing. clearly you are channelling Dembski & filtering everything threw that prism.

PhysicistDave said...

Tim wrote to me:
> Speaking of being behind the times, I did notice that you referred to Hume's critique of reported miracles. Are you aware of the recent work on that has put the Humeans very much on the defensive, e.g. John Earman's book Hume's Abject Failure?

Hmmm…. Tim, with all due respect, I do not have much respect for the community of philosophers (nothing personal: I do like and respect some individual philosophers). All of the critiques of Hume I have seen either misread him or play the old philosophical game of burying the reader in “word salad” in the hope he will give in. So, I think I’ll just counter with my favorite recent Hume scholarship, which I find quite convincing, Fogelin’s “A Defense of Hume on Miracles” (which seems to be more recent than Earman) and leave it at that.

My general view is that philosophers and natural scientists have mutually exclusive functioning epistemologies, that we have run a very nice empirical test in comparing these competing epistemologies during the last few centuries, and that the philosopher’s mode of thought is now dead. To be sure, the best exponent of this view is the philosopher (!) Ernest Gellner, but since his Ph.D. was in anthropology, we’ll let him off the hook.

I’m good enough at playing the philosophical game when it suits my fancy (i.e., I got As in philosophy classes), but I just think the whole philosophical approach has been discredited by experience.

Surely, two millennia during which they could produce nothing that even their colleagues could generally agree was correct is failure enough. Some animals just need to be put out of their misery.

Dave

PhysicistDave said...

benyachov wrote to me:
> I reply:As someone who actually read book I know for a fact Feser didn't give any examples from modern science to justify scholasticism. Anyone who has read the book knows by defintion that is impossible in scholasticism. At best he briefly cited an essay by Heisenberg on how quantum phenomena resemble Aristotle's metaphysics on actualities & potencies. But he made a careful distiction between Aristotles faulty physics vs his metaphysics.

Hmmm… I am currently reading the book and have been taking notes, so I can give specific page numbers.

For example, on page 92, in justifying the concept of an “essentially ordered” causal series, he claims that “the firing of the motor neurons” is “simultaneous” with the effect, “the hand’s curving.” He goes at great length to explain that he really means literally simultaneous, not just a fairly short delay: this is essential to the distinction he is making.

And, he’s wrong. The firing of the motor neurons, which induces neurochemcial changes in the muscle cells leading to muscular activity, takes *time*, not a lot of time, but it is not simultaneous.

He makes mistakes of this sort all through the book. Another example: on p.82, he states that, with regard to geometry, “The premises are indubitable…”

That is a scientific (and mathematical) error. Mathematicians, including some of the very best (e.g., Gauss and Riemann) have been doubting those premises for centuries, with, it turns out, good reason: we know that the premises of Euclidean geometry are not true of the real world. The initial measurement that showed this was carried out in 1919 by Arthur Eddington and has been refined over the years. It is of course a consequence of General Relativity.

Now, I suppose crazy Ed would say that, though the premises of Euclid’s geometry are not true in the real world, they are nonetheless “indubitable” in some fairy-tale world of his imagination. And, I have a fairy-tale world in which Crazy Ed is a Klingon.

No doubt Ed would claim that all of his scientific errors are irrelevant and due to his not being a scientist, etc.

But, he does clearly intend these scientific statements to have the rhetorical effect of making his Scholastic nonsense more credible to the unsuspecting reader. And I am sure it works with readers ignorant of science (i.e., almost all Americans).

It’s despicable.

Frankly, quite aside from the numerous scientific errors in the book – there are many others – the whole book just makes a scientist like myself want to reach for his trusty Philosopher’s Stone, drink a pint of dragon’s blood, and look for a spell that will cause Crazy Ed to ascend to a higher realm.

Dave

P.S. In Ed’s defense, I’ll say that this is generally what I expect from philosophers – their knowledge of actual facts about reality, as opposed to verbal philosophical fantasies, tends to be close to non-existent. I’m always surprised when a philosopher like Colin McGinn breaks the stereotype.

PhysicistDave said...

benyachov wrote to me:
> Your rant is unconvincing. clearly you are channelling Dembski & filtering everything threw that prism.

What on earth are you talking about? Never read a thing by any dude named Dumbski! Is he a friend of yours?

PhysicistDave said...

Tim,

I have a very simple and sincere (i.e., no gotchas except for the obvious) question for you that might help clarify for you and me and everyone else here our respective views of philosophy.

Can you give me a half-dozen interesting, non-trivial, positive propositions on which nearly all professional philosophers of the past half-century agree (by “positive,” I mean to exclude propositions that merely assert that some other philosopher got something wrong – obviously, that sort of propositions is a dime a dozen!)? It would of course be easy to give such a list for natural science (just wingin’ it – plate tectonics, the atomic theory, special relativity, evolution, the heliocentric theory, the Big Bang, DNA to RNA to protein, etc.) and quite trivial to do so in math.

I have only managed to elicit a single proposal for such a proposition thus far: “There are necessary a posteriori truths,” from Robert Gressis at Cal State Northridge. And, I am pretty sure that it is not the case that nearly all professional philosophers of the last fifty years accept that proposition.

I realize that many philosophers do not think it to be a bad thing that there are few or no such propositions generally accepted by their fellow philosophers.

But, if you could show me such propositions, or confirm that you cannot think of any, I think it might help clarify the discussion.

Dave

Anonymous said...

We have a phd physicist here who's making the case that philosophy is useless, and one of his arguments is that philosophers don't all agree on anything.

So, because philosophers can't ALL agree on something, philosophy is useless, right?

With that statement, I think our physicist friend just inadvertently provided us with a good reason for needing philosophers- to teach the scientists some logic!

What's more, for every philosopher who's ever existed and who has believed something ridiculous, there's probably been a scientist who's been convinced by him. Would that make the scientists doubly stupid? And equally useless, since they can't agree on anything either?

John W. Loftus said...

Tim said: "And I never claimed it did."

And I never claimed that you did. I was preempting a possible come back from you thereby thrusting my point at you with more force.

So basically you admit that even though you probably have a superior understanding of probability theory (being generous) when you apply it to biblical criticism or history or economics or politics your conclusions may not be sound ones. Cool! And you also admit that when you step outside your area of expertise it applies equally as well. Again, cool!

BTW: Spinoza was a lens grinder for a living in case my present occupation was meant as a slur against me, or is it that all honest work isn't meaningful or good work (preempting again just in case I need to tell you this).

John W. Loftus said...

PhysicistDave, don't waste your time responding to the idiocy of Anonymous just above. It's idiocy, expressing typical Christian Tu Quoque and Either/Or fallacies.

John W. Loftus said...

I'll hitchhike on Dave's analysis of philosophy. It spawned the sciences and helps us in properly arguing our cases, but when I see philosophers like Plantinga, Craig and Swinburne, the three men admired most (no, it's not the Father Son and Holy Ghost) argue their cases with a straight face I can only laugh at how much of Christian philosophy is nothing more than special pleading, begging the question, arguing from ignorance, filled with non-sequiturs and false assumptions. These things should be seen quite plainly by a undergraduate taking his first class in critical thinking, and one of the reason I think Christians are brainwashed just like the faithful who accept one of the cargo cults, or Scientologists.

I have no regard for THAT kind of philosophical analysis. It is on the par with Mormon apologetics.

John W. Loftus said...

I have a section in a chapter I'm writing with this heading: "Defending the Faith Makes Brilliant People Look Stupid" and I'm drawing examples from the three men admired most.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Dave: he really argues that there is no delay betwen firing of a motor neuron and muscle contraction? That' a silly mistake, the relevant data are easy to find.

Philosophy is not good at producing results, but it is good at incubating important questions ('What about consciousness?'), maintaining vigilance about patterns of illicit inference (e.g., inference in nonextensional contexts), and they can be good at generating mind-blowing conceptual possibilities that other people don't consider (Twin Earth).

Unfortunately they often get way too attached to conceptual possibilities and believe they are actualities (e.g., Lewis' possible world semantics is probalby the worst case of this).

I like to run the same question against philosophers: name the top five results from philosophy in the last 30 years. Ask this question in a room of philosophers (especially continental and analytic mixture) and you will see a very entertaining spectacle.

So I largely share your suspicion for philosophy. However, you (and I) do seem to spend a lot of time at sites discussing philosophy, so there is something hard to resist about it, no? There are errors we can point out, arguments to be made, and there is progress even if there aren't results.

Philosophy is fun as a hobby, but as a profession science is much more rewarding, partly because in addition to producing beautiful ideas, it produces results.

John W. Loftus said...

I truly have low expectations about our ability to reason with each other. That's why we MUST lean on the sciences for the evidence to believe. That's what Blanchard continues to miss. You see, like Plantinga, Craig and Swinburne he thinks we'll get somewhere if we reason it out. But we will only clarify our positions. That's a good thing, no doubt. But no one's mind will be changed. In fact what happens in such a dialogue is that we each become more entrenched in what we think. I can't tell you how often some Christian has tried to disabuse me of one of my arguments only to help me better clarify and strengthen my case. It's as if they are helping me debunk Christianity. It some way you ought not do this. Do you understand this?

Blanchard does not think overwhelming people with a cumulative case is honest work, or that there is a role to play in persuasion. That, quite frankly is utterly ignorant. Utterly ignorant. He can claim to have the high ground but he's like the emperor with no clothes on at that point.

I know a hell of a lot more than I can say, you see, and so I cannot possibly write in any singkle comment of chapter or book or series of books all that I know. I know Christianity has no better epistemic warrant than Mormonism. Now, how can I convince others of that? I'm trying to convince others of what I know. At that point there is nothing dishonest with what I'm doing even if you don't like it. If you don't like it don't continue helping me make my case.

Next up, Reppert uses this as his next post. But here's the problem. Every time he does this there is a slight spike in sales for my books, and with it comes more deconversions.

You really ought to ignore me not because I'm stupid, but because I'm dangerous. And until you recognize this you are helping me make my case.

And, I might add, I'll be better off not responding to such drivel I see here from the so-called heavyweights. THERE ARE NO HEAVYWEIGHTS! There might be brilliant people here, but defending the faith makes them look stupid.

Tim said...

Dave,

As I mentioned above, I reviewed Fogelin’s book in 2005. I do not think very highly of it. If you found his arguments impressive, I’d be happy to talk about it. I do suggest that before, you get into a discussion about Fogelin, you read Earman’s book.

“Can you give me a half-dozen interesting, non-trivial, positive propositions on which nearly all professional philosophers of the past half-century agree.”

I suppose it depends on your definition of “trivial” and “nearly all.” It is also worth pointing out that “philosophy,” like “science,” is an umbrella term; the discipline is home to numerous specialties, and one must not assume that every philosopher is a specialist in metaethics any more than one would expect every scientist to be an expert in genetics. The relevant consensus for your question is the consensus of those who work in the subfield to which the proposition properly belongs.

Tim said...

But that being said, there are certainly some propositions that aren’t obvious to most people but are widely accepted among professional philosophers who have thought about them. Here, per your request, are half a dozen:

* There are some meaningful non-tautological statements that do not have empirical verification conditions.

* Time travel, in anything like the straightforward sense in which most people imagine it, is not possible.

* It is possible to make rational choices between hypotheses that are empirically equivalent, i.e., hypotheses that cannot be tested by a crucial experiment.

* A hypothesis H may lead us to expect a certain piece of evidence E, yet E may count as evidence against H; and H may lead us to expect that ~E, yet E may count as strong evidence for H.

* E may be strong evidence for H without its being the case that ~E is strong evidence for ~H.

* The mere fact that there is a present consensus in some field is not a good reason to believe that the consensus is true; and the mere fact that there is not a present consensus in some field is not a good reason to believe that the problems are irresolvable, that the practitioners are incompetent, or that the questions are pseudo-problems.

John W. Loftus said...

Hey wait, did Tim just ignore me? Damn but I hate it when people do exactly as I asked them too.

;-)

John W. Loftus said...

to

BenYachov said...

cont @ physicdave

>For example, on page 92, in justifying the concept of an “essentially ordered” causal series, he claims that “the firing of the motor neurons” is “simultaneous” with the effect, “the hand’s curving.”……. And, he’s wrong. The firing of the motor neurons, which induces neurochemcial changes in the muscle cells leading to muscular activity, takes *time*, not a lot of time, but it is not simultaneous.

I reply: That is almost verbatim the same phony objection & misreading made by some guy named “UnBeguiled” over at Feser’s Blog.

See here.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/search?q=essentially+ordered

and here.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/07/beguiled-by-scientism.html

As Feser tries to explain to UnBeguiled in vain Quote “’motion’ in the context of the argument means the actualization of a potential, and applies to all kinds of change, having nothing necessarily to do with local motion in particular. He assumes that the idea of a per se or essentially ordered causal series has fundamentally to do with a simultaneity of causes and effects; in fact it has to do with the instrumental character of (all but one of) such a series’ causes, their having (apart from the first member) no independent causal power.”End Quote

It is clearly as I said, you are treating Feser’s arguments as empirically scientific arguments (even thought he explicitly says he is not making those types of argument and repudiates using them in proving God) not philosophical and metaphysical ones.

>Hmmm… I am currently reading the book and have been taking notes, so I can give specific page numbers.

I reply: So you are admitting here you haven’t even finished reading the book? So you haven’t had time to digest it or think about it’s arguments! It is clear to me you are approaching the book with the attitude “Whatever he is saying must wrong” & you are reading into his words what you want him to say & mean. In short it is clear to me you are reading this book in bad faith. Your insults “It’s despicable” and other examples of bombast are a dead giveaway to someone who has abandoned his reason & is running on pure emotion. If I denied the existence of God tomorrow I would still conclude your “criticism” here is obviously a lot of bluster & hogwash.

You have not made your case. You have given no evidence. If anything you have reinforced my original opinion.

> What on earth are you talking about? Never read a thing by any dude named Dumbski!

I reply: I’m sorry I am a horrible speller. I meant William Dembski(I meant no insult to him with the misspelling). He is the ID guy & he is in fact trying to make empirical scientific arguments for the existence of God based on his “methodological Machinist” presuppositions. Feser gave him a good shellacking IMHO. Most New Atheist Fundamentalists amateurs are channeling Dembski & confusing the two. You are clearly doing that in spades.

BenYachov said...

>For example, on page 92, in justifying the concept of an “essentially ordered” causal series, he claims that “the firing of the motor neurons” is “simultaneous” with the effect, “the hand’s curving.”……. And, he’s wrong. The firing of the motor neurons, which induces neurochemcial changes in the muscle cells leading to muscular activity, takes *time*, not a lot of time, but it is not simultaneous.

I reply: That is almost verbatim the same phony objection & misreading made by some guy named “UnBeguiled” over at Feser’s Blog.

See here.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/search?q=essentially+ordered

and here.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/07/beguiled-by-scientism.html

As Feser tries to explain to UnBeguiled in vain Quote “’motion’ in the context of the argument means the actualization of a potential, and applies to all kinds of change, having nothing necessarily to do with local motion in particular. He assumes that the idea of a per se or essentially ordered causal series has fundamentally to do with a simultaneity of causes and effects; in fact it has to do with the instrumental character of (all but one of) such a series’ causes, their having (apart from the first member) no independent causal power.”End Quote

It is clearly as I said, you are treating Feser’s arguments as empirically scientific arguments (even thought he explicitly says he is not making those types of argument and repudiates using them in proving God) not philosophical and metaphysical ones.

BenYachov said...

>Hmmm… I am currently reading the book and have been taking notes, so I can give specific page numbers.

I reply: So you are admitting here you haven’t even finished reading the book? So you haven’t had time to digest it or think about it’s arguments! It is clear to me you are approaching the book with the attitude “Whatever he is saying must wrong” & you are reading into his words what you want him to say & mean. In short it is clear to me you are reading this book in bad faith. Your insults “It’s despicable” and other examples of bombast are a dead giveaway to someone who has abandoned his reason & is running on pure emotion. If I denied the existence of God tomorrow I would still conclude your “criticism” here is obviously a lot of bluster & hogwash.

You have not made your case. You have given no evidence. If anything you have reinforced my original opinion.

> What on earth are you talking about? Never read a thing by any dude named Dumbski!

I reply: I’m sorry I am a horrible speller. I meant William Dembski(I meant no insult to him with the misspelling). He is the ID guy & he is in fact trying to make empirical scientific arguments for the existence of God based on his “methodological Machinist” presuppositions. Feser gave him a good shellacking IMHO. Most New Atheist Fundamentalists amateurs are channeling Dembski & confusing the two. You are clearly doing that in spades.

John W. Loftus said...

My comments post just fine. Maybe others lack the right amount of faith or the proper secret code.

;-)

Anonymous said...

So my post are visible too others?

-BenYachov

BenYachov said...

FINALLY! That last post was my first. It got eaten 10 times!

OTOH I'm using my wife's computer with the crappy Vista & not my computer with Win7.

Sorry for the multi posts.

Anonymous said...

This is not funny. It's gone again!

Anonymous said...

BenYachov here

>He makes mistakes of this sort all through the book. Another example: on p.82, he states that, with regard to geometry, “The premises are indubitable…”


I reply: You need to lean about a little thing called context. On that same page before that statement he says “Geometry……doesn’t involve the formulation and testing of hypotheses, after the fashion of empirical sciences. So is that statement wrong or doubtful? Must we physically measure every perfect circle to make sure it conforms to the calculations of PI? Are we to expect in our “experiments” we might come up with a perfect circle that doesn’t physically conform to the measurements of PI? BTW on that very same page Feser says “Now Aquinas’s arguments, like Plato’s and Aristotle’s, are metaphysical in character, not scientific.”

Why do you keep pretending Feser is trying to make a scientific demonstration of scholasticism? I don’t see the evidence. He is clearly making a philosophical one.

Anonymous said...

BenYachov again. Worst posting script ever!!!!

>Now, I suppose crazy Ed would say that, though the premises of Euclid’s geometry are not true in the real world, they are nonetheless “indubitable” in some fairy-tale world of his imagination.

I reply: There is no reference to Euclid or Euclid’s geometry on page 82 & I can’t seem to find any reference to that topic in the Index. There is reference to Pythagorean theorem on page 82 but no Euclid. So it is clear Feser is in fact narrowly referring to ontological real world geometry not esoteric non-real conceptual theoretical forms of geometry like what we would find in Euclid.

Red Herring much?

-BenYachov

BenYachov said...

My original posting chronology consisted of Post #79, #78 & #71 in that order.

72 & 73 are redundant.

Eric said...

I've tried to post a number of detailed responses to Dave, but they've all been lost. Here's my response in a nutshell: Yes, beliefs that are held for social and emotional reasons only aren't justified, and yes, uncritically accepting a belief is generally not a good thing; and again, yes, we should think critically and rationally about our beliefs. Finally, not every religious person thinks critically about his religious beliefs; I suspect most by far do not. This is basically what you've been saying, right?

Here's my response:

So what?

I was referring specifically to people like Victor and Tim who have thought critically about their beliefs.

Now you want to assert -- not argue -- that they, i.e. Christians who understand the arguments against Christianity, must be either brainwashed or dishonest ("a lot of us non-believers think that this has been done so often that any honest non-brainwashed Christian has already discovered the truth and abandoned the Satanic faith of Christ". I suppose we would have to put Leftow, Polkinghorne, Moser, Stump, Gingerich, Swinburne, Pruss etc. into the same 'brainwashed or dishonest' category. Now this is a remarkably strong claim, yet you've failed to provide any evidence whatsoever to support it. As such, I see no reason to take it seriously.

Re: Feser, Ben is right: you've badly misunderstood him (I could be as uncharitable as you are and claim that you're either being dishonest by intentionally misrepresenting him, or that your reading of him evinces the signs of brainwashing, but that would be patently silly, wouldn't it?).

First, you've confused the role an example plays in an explanation with the role evidence plays in an argument. Feser's 'neuron' example is just that: an example of a particular kind of causal series, and not evidence that a particular conception of causality is justified.

Second, as Ben points out, you've misunderstood his account of motion.

Third, you've misunderstood his use of the term 'simultaneous.' He's talking about "simultaneous *dependence*," not simultaneous causation. That is, he's looking at the causal series from the 'end' to emphasize the *instrumental* nature of such a causal series. He wasn't arguing that the neuron fires at precisely the same time that the hand moves (i.e. that when analyzed from the first act there's no delay), but that as the hand moves the neurons are firing. In other words, it's true that the engine moves before the caboose, but when the caboose is in motion down the tracks, so is the engine, and the caboose isn't moving itself.

Here's Feser on the issue: "I didn't say simultaneity didn't matter at all. I said that it isn't what's doing the philosophical work -- instrumentality is. Hence, whether a cause and its effect exist at _exactly the same instant_, where "instants" are carved up as finely as possible, is not to the point. What is to the point is rather whether the cause and its effect are related in this instrumental way, as in an essentially ordered causal series. That's why I focused here on the actualization of the cells' potential to constitute muscles etc...."The series is 'essentially ordered' because the later members of the series, having no independent power of motion on their own, derive the fact of their motion and their ability to move other things from the first member, in this case the hand." In other words, when defining what makes something an essentially ordered series, I explicitly appealed to instrumentality, not simultaneity. Yes, the example involves simultaneity, but that's not the salient characteristic. (Note also that I refer here to the hand as "the first member" even though later on I say that it is not _strictly_ speaking the first member -- the point of the example was to introduce the concepts, which it does adequately even if it is stated loosely.)"

PhysicistDave said...

Poor little benyachov wrote to me:
>There is no reference to Euclid or Euclid’s geometry on page 82 & I can’t seem to find any reference to that topic in the Index. There is reference to Pythagorean theorem on page 82 but no Euclid.

But, you see, the Pythagorean theorem is not true in non-Euclidean geometry: specifically, it is not true in the real world. So, referring to the Pythagorean theorem *is* referring to Euclidean geometry.

But, you wouldn't know that, now would you? You'd have to be scientifically or mathematically literate.

Jake Elwood XVI said...

Mr Loftus writes
"Spinoza was a lens grinder for a living in case my present occupation was meant as a slur against me, or is it that all honest work isn't meaningful or good work (preempting again just in case I need to tell you this)"


I thought the mentioning of your carpet cleaning business Mr Loftus, was a subtle reference to the cult mentioned in Seinfeld that tried to brainwash people after they had given them cheap carpet cleaning.

PhysicistDave said...

poor ignorant benyacov wrote to me:
> I reply: I’m sorry I am a horrible speller. I meant William Dembski(I meant no insult to him with the misspelling). He is the ID guy & he is in fact trying to make empirical scientific arguments for the existence of God based on his “methodological Machinist” presuppositions. Feser gave him a good shellacking IMHO. Most New Atheist Fundamentalists amateurs are channeling Dembski & confusing the two. You are clearly doing that in spades.

Oh, poor ignorant one, you didn’t misspell it: I did, on purpose, just to pull your leg. (Lots of people like to spell his name my way, just to indicate their utter contempt for Dumbski.)

I know who Dumbski is, I was just teasing you (though I told the truth: I have not read any of his books).

No, I’m not confusing Crazy Ed with Dumbski, since, I have, after all, never read Dumbski.

Crazy Ed used a bunch of fake scientific “facts” trying to illustrate his pseudo-metaphysics: no one has shown I was wrong on that, and I doubt anyone here will, since there do not seem to be many folks here who are scientifically or mathematically literate.

Crazy Ed’s using of fake science to illustrate his fake metaphysics does indicate his contempt for truth and where he is coming from.

Of course, any honest, intelligent person should be able to tell that his Scholasticism is just cow manure anyway, and that really is my point.

PhysicistDave said...

poor benyacov wrote to me:
> So you are admitting here you haven’t even finished reading the book? So you haven’t had time to digest it or think about it’s arguments! It is clear to me you are approaching the book with the attitude “Whatever he is saying must wrong” & you are reading into his words what you want him to say & mean. In short it is clear to me you are reading this book in bad faith.

Oh, great Darwin!

Life is short, child.

I do not have to read “Mein Kampf” cover to cover to see that Schikelgruber was one bad dude. (See: under Godwin’s Law, you can stop replying to me, now!)

There are so many errors, so much nonsense, such smoking piles of cow manure in Feser’s book, that no educated person would need to read more than fifty pages or so to realize what a horse’s rear end Feser is.

I myself will probably finish it, since I have a morbid fascination to see how much science he can get wrong by the end of the book.

You are making Loftus’s point for him: there is just not time in life to carefully sit down with every uneducated, foolish, arrogant ignoramus and try to carefully reason with him in an infinite regress of nonsense.

Sometimes, all one can say is, “In the name of Darwin, Hume, and all else that is holy. Get off you fat duff and learn something about reality instead of this cow manure about Christ and metaphysics.”

And it is written, “And when no one on that Website will take heed of your warnings, when no duffer will get off his duff, shake the dust off your keyboard as you leave that Website. For verily I say unto you, it shall be better for the harlots and the supporters of George W. Bush on the Day of Judgment than for those who inhabit such Websites.”

Loftus should give you an award: you really are proving his point.

PhysicistDave said...

Tim wrote to me:
> As I mentioned above, I reviewed Fogelin’s book in 2005. I do not think very highly of it. If you found his arguments impressive, I’d be happy to talk about it.

Ummm…. Tim I am trying to be polite here, but I’m not sure how to say the following less bluntly.

I do not respect how you and most of your fellow philosophers think. I think that we have tested your manner of “thinking” and “reasoning” empirically over thousands of years and found that it is a failure. For example, to use your words, the idea of “arguments” being “impressive” leaves me quite cold, I fear. That is not how good scientists (or mathematicians, a very different breed from natural scientists, of course) think.

I think that the method of thinking in science is contrary to and adversarial to the method of thinking employed in philosophy, theology, psychotherapy, hermeneutics, etc. I think science should and will replace such pseudo-disciplines, and I think that it is a good thing that those disciplines are dying. I favor defunding and delegitimizing such disciplines whenever possible.

So, to discuss Fogelin’s book with *you*, well, no – I do not think I would find that fruitful. Fogelin is one of those rare philosophers whose mode of thought is more similar to scientists than to most of his fellow philosophers, which is why I respect him. Your mode of thought is not. If your review is posted online, please give the link and I will try to glance at it.

Again, I am truly sorry if this sounds insulting: I’m not quite sure how to say it any other way.

I really do think we have an actual empirical case of “polylogism,” between guys like you and guys like me, Loftus, and Fogelin: incommensurable, mutually incompatible modes of mental operation. I think that empirical tests show that your mode of functioning is ineffective and that ours is effective.

I am also pretty sure that I can never convince you of this, since your mode of thought is self-confirming.

Incidentally, our mode of thought is *not* self-confirming: it might have been the case that empirical tests would show that our quasi-empiricist mode of thought fails compared to your mode of thought. But, they have not.

As I said above, my thoughts on this are heavily influenced by Gellner: notably, “The Legitimation of Belief,” but also “Words and Things,” “The Psychoanalytic Movement,” etc. I suspect you have about as much use for Gellner as I have for you and your colleagues.

As Kipling said, “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…”

All the best,

Dave

John W. Loftus said...

Wow, what an ally in a like-minded person is Dave to me, who said:

I know this makes no sense to you at all. Sorry, you cannot teach calculus to a chimp.

I laughed for a while on that alone!

Full Disclosure: No, I do not know calculus, it's funny just the same.

BenYachov said...

>But, you see, the Pythagorean theorem is not true in non-Euclidean geometry: specifically, it is not true in the real world. So, referring to the Pythagorean theorem *is* referring to Euclidean geometry.

I reply: But what does any of this have to do with Feser's point "Geometry……doesn’t involve the formulation and testing of hypotheses, after the fashion of
empirical sciences."
& where does he deny correct geometry in any of this?

Again Red Herring much?

>But, you wouldn't know that, now would you? You'd have to be scientifically or mathematically literate.

I reply: Well you wouldn't make these non-sequitur "arguments" if you where literate in philosophy. Which I'm sorry you clearly are not.


>There are so many errors, so much nonsense, such smoking piles of cow manure in Feser’s book, that no educated person would need to read more than fifty pages or so to realize what a horse’s rear end Feser is.

I reply: Well you have yet to show me one, other that citing a sentence fragment four words long (i.e "The premises are indubitable…”) on page 82 & your
misreading of page 92 & then going off on irrelevant tangents and while having a general meltdown. I get it! You haven't read the book because you already know it's wrong. Very convincing.....no not really.

As Feser once said to a certain Atheist on an unrelated topic "Are you for real buddy?".

Cheers! Nothing but luv for ya guy.

PhysicistDave said...

(CONT.)

Believe it or not, I actually do understand most of the points you gave: they lean in the direction of the subfields of philosophy that are closer to science.

I will offer a comment on only one of them:
>Time travel, in anything like the straightforward sense in which most people imagine it, is not possible.

This is a good example of the failure of philosophy.

As it happens, physicists have addressed this issue at great length in the highest quality refereed journals (obviously, it is sort of a fun topic for R&R!). Physicists suspect that physical laws will turn out to prevent time travel, but we are *quite* clear that we have not shown this to be the case and that no one, including philosophers, have shown this to be the case. A discussion in layman’s terms can be found in Kip Thorne’s “Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy.” David Deutsch also has a fascinating paper on how all this relates to quantum mechanics published years ago in Phys. Rev.: anyone can find the cite via Google. I myself have been following this work for decades, and actually originated some of the initial ideas on my own and communicated them to Kip in my student days (he did not give me credit, and I assume he thought of them independently from me).

We physicists know the standard arguments of course: the grandfather paradox, causal circles (technically “closed timelike worldlines,” for anyone who digs into the physics literature), etc.

And, we are quite certain that this has not been proven impossible.

Now, the paradoxes are weird enough that we suspect that some physical law will indeed turn up that will rule out time travel, just as there turn out to be physical laws that rule out weird things like perpetual motion machines. Steve Hawking has actually suggested a mechanism based on quantum field theory that Kip and I suspect will indeed work to eliminate time machines; unfortunately, it is very hard to correctly do the calculation Steve suggests, which is why we are still uncertain (see Kip’s book for details in layman’s terms).

But, again, the fact that, as you claim, *philosophers* think they have ruled out the possibility of time travel without doing all the necessary work in physics (I trust no philosopher claims to have completed the Hawking calculation!) just proves to me once again that philosophers are not mentally competent at a very fundamental level.

Again, sorry for my bluntness, but, given my interest in this research for three-and-a-half decades, I just find this more hilarious than I can possibly put into words.

All the best,

Dave

BenYachov said...

Physicist Dave has gone bye bye people.

Disturbing.

PhysicistDave said...

Poor little ignorant BenYacov wrote to me:
>I reply: But what does any of this have to do with Feser's point "Geometry……doesn’t involve the formulation and testing of hypotheses, after the fashion of
empirical sciences." & where does he deny correct geometry in any of this?

You know, even given your lack of education, if you were an honest and intelligent person, I think I could explain this to you.

But, I have decided you are not.

To put this in Thomistic terms, I have decided that, in terms of intellect, you and chimps possess the same essence.

For any non-chimps out there, the fact is that the truth of the axioms of geometry is an empirical issue, and they happen to be untrue; the Pythagorean theorem happens to be untrue, although it is a pretty good approximation if the gravitational fields are not too strong. Feser is wrong to claim that the axioms of geometry are “indubitable.” All well-educated people already know what I have said and do not have to have it proved to them.

That is really all I have to say: this issue was decisively settled over ninety years ago, and I am no more interested in debating it than I am interested in debating the heliocentric theory.

I have posted more than enough on this topic to convince any intelligent, well-educated, honest person. I have even posted enough that an intelligent and honest but *ill*-educated person can dig into it and figure it out with enough Googling and enough trips to the local university library.

But I certainly cannot teach this to a chimp or a semi-human equivalent.

I know my limits.

I’m no longer reading poor ignorant BenYacov’s posts in their entirety (though I may take a pot shot at an isolated idiocy if it is irresistible!): you have been calibrated BenYacov; your level of mental functioning is now known.

And, again, thank you oodles and oodles for proving my point that we scientists have a different mode of mental functioning than you do. That, at least, should now be clear to everyone.

(And, no, everyone, benyacov is not my sock puppet created merely to prove my point!)

PhysicistDave said...

Ben Yacov wrote:
> Physicist Dave has gone bye bye people.

I have?

BenYachov said...

>To put this in Thomistic terms, I have decided that, in terms of intellect, you and chimps possess the same essence.

I reply: You are not an expert in Thomism. That is self evident. You can insult me all you like but I'm not intimidated.

>The fact is that the truth of the axioms of geometry is an empirical issue,

I reply: All forms of geometry? No exceptions? In all areas? Really?

>and they happen to be untrue; the Pythagorean theorem happens to be untrue, although it is a pretty good approximation if the gravitational fields are not too strong.

I reply: But as I said & you keep ignoring, Feser is not making a scientific empirical statement about scientific fact. He was not making an argument from Physics but metaphysics. He is
making a philosophical argument about the truth of axiomic reasoning(in comparison to how Thomism deduces truth see the last paragrah page 81) & how they
don't rely on empiricism so he gives a general example from geometry. If I believe your wild claims then as I said before we must then physically measure
all perfect circles to see that they conform to the ratio of PI. Because we might come up with a perfect circle that doesn't, which is logically absurd.

>Feser is wrong to claim that the axioms of geometry are “indubitable.” All well-educated people already know what I have said and do not have to have it
proved to them.

I reply: He wasn't trying to assert any facts about the more esoteric forms of geometry or apply his claims to all forms of geometry in every area. He was showing how axiomic reasoning is a valid way to know truth even thought it's not empirical. It's not hard buddy.

John W. Loftus said...

And I quote: I’m no longer reading poor ignorant BenYacov’s posts in their entirety (though I may take a pot shot at an isolated idiocy if it is irresistible!): you have been calibrated BenYacov; your level of mental functioning is now known...(And, no, everyone, benyacov is not my sock puppet created merely to prove my point!)

Dave, ever think of doing atheist stand-up comedy! I'd pay to hear you, serious!!!

BenYachov said...

BTW it says on Page 82 Of course it might turn out that some particular proof for a geometrical theorem has a flaw in it somewhere in which case it would fail as a proof; geometries aren't infallible anymore than empirical science is.
But the reason that it would fail is not that there is some evidence it failed to take account of......It would be there is a logical fallacy somewhere in the proof."


It's clear to mean Feser is making measured statements about things outside his discipline. It is clear to me he is teaching philosophy not science or geometry. It is also clear Dave doesn't see to know what he is talking about & is reading inot Feser what he wants him to say & mean.

JS Allen said...

@BDK - Like others here, I've always found you to be intelligent and disciplined, and you've made me reconsider some important points. I appreciate good role models who can engage these issues clearly and unemotionally, although I often fall short myself.

@BenYachov - Thanks very much for the additional context about Feser. I've made similar mistakes when reading papers on philosophy of perception (e.g. Gibson), since I'm steeped in the scientific perspective.

BenYachov said...

Isn't 1+1=2 indubitable? But geometry isn't according to Dave? In any circumstance or category?

So somewhere out there in space there are four sided triangles and perfect circles whose ratio to the circumference to its diameter is a perfect 3:1 instead of the #PI? That is possible?

All I have to say is Wow! You don't believe in God but this makes sense to you?

K'yee! (BenYachov backs away real slowly & tries not to make too much noise that might set off crazy Dave).

BenYachov said...

Well I guess the Bible isn't wrong at all about that bronze laver which is one cubic wide & 3 cubics around if I believe Dave.

I guess the New Atheists will have to find a better example of an errand biblical text eh?:-)

(Hey I can joke too):-)

Cheers!

JS Allen said...

BTW, I still think Loftus's book is a better argument against Christianity than any Dawkins book, and I will continue to recommend it to people unimpressed by the other "new atheists".

That's not to say that Vic's responses to the arguments put forward in the book aren't strong, nor that the comment thread shenanigans are good PR. But it's worth reiterating that the book is one of the better popular cases for deconversion.

Victor Reppert said...

Is this the new method of arguing for atheism? Just assert that you're right and that the other guys are stupid?

Where is Tony Flew when we need him? Oh, right, he left the atheist fold.

Anonymous said...

Why is this Loftus character under the delusion that the calm, careful, and level-headed thinkers on this blog take him seriously, after all of the cavalier rhetorical recklessness that seems to be a staple part of his personality and that invariably accompanies any attempt at discussion with him?

He is wasting his time here.

PhysicistDave said...

BDK wrote to me:
> Dave: he really argues that there is no delay betwen firing of a motor neuron and muscle contraction? That' a silly mistake, the relevant data are easy to find.

Well, Feser’s a poor enough writer, and slippery enough personally, that he would probably try to weasel out of it somewhat along the line that Ben Yanchov has: you know, redefining “simultaneous” to mean something different that it actually means or some trick of that sort. BY has already quoted something from Feser where he says something to the effect that simultaneity is not the essential part of his argument but only a part of it. Perhaps, but it is a part he got wrong. And, in the book he goes on at great length about the simultaneity issue and certainly makes it sound as if he thinks it is important.

But, important or not, yeah, he definitely gets it wrong, if we interpret what he wrote by the normal standards of the English language.

The scientific errors Feser makes are actually closely connected to his trashing of the so-called “mechanistic philosophy” (which is not really a philosophy, but that is a different point). Anyone well-versed in the “mechanistic philosophy” – i.e., anyone well-trained in natural science – will automatically say to himself, “Well, sure, it seems to happen almost instantaneously, but we know from basic principles that it does not, and we can actually measure the delay with sufficiently good instruments.”

It is not natural to Feser to think in that way, probably because he cannot, and possibly because he really, truly hates that way of thinking, as he demonstrates at great length in constant asides in the book. His mistake about geometry is of course just due to his remarkable lack of interest in math and science: anyone with a reasonable interest in the history of math would know this (just as I know about Kant and the “synthetic a priori” without being a philosopher): it’s one of the really Big Deals in the history of math. But, Feser clearly does not like math and science, so it is easy to understand why he has not bothered to learn about their history.

BDK also wrote:
> Unfortunately they often get way too attached to conceptual possibilities and believe they are actualities (e.g., Lewis' possible world semantics is probalby the worst case of this).

Yeah, another of my pet peeves: there are obvious cases where “possible worlds” can be a useful figure of speech, a useful shorthand, but many of these philosophers, even some of the brighter ones, seem to really believe in it! One more example of my claim of mental incommnesurability between scientists and philosophers. (An aside to anyone who wonders about paralell worlds theory in physics: A) it is a very different critter B) most of us physicists consider it a wild if amusing speculation but do not think it is Established Truth.)
(CONT.)

PhysicistDave said...

(CONT.)

BDK also wrote:
> However, you (and I) do seem to spend a lot of time at sites discussing philosophy, so there is something hard to resist about it, no? There are errors we can point out, arguments to be made, and there is progress even if there aren't results.
> Philosophy is fun as a hobby, but as a profession science is much more rewarding, partly because in addition to producing beautiful ideas, it produces results.

I suffer from an even worse disability: for some bizarre reason, I am actually interested in classical theology. I love “Mere Christianity,” even though I think it is almost all wrong (admittedly, Lewis’ charm explains a lot).

I’m arguing my case strongly here because I think it is largely true and because I am trying to elicit counter-evidence from guys like Tim. However, I actually do leave open the possibility that someone like Tim will prove me wrong, though I doubt it, or at least point out some area where the approach of philosophers is really fruitful. I also doubt that, but the universe is a big place. Could happen.

Of course, I am also the atheist/physicist who thinks that physics cannot explain consciousness, that God may well exist, and that life after death is a possibility.

Let me tell ya’: I get myself into all sorts of trouble!

Dave

Victor Reppert said...

TCD certainly goes further inside the Christian perspective than do Dawkins and company. However, I think it appeals to psychological explanations in a way that leaves them vulnerable to those explanations being applied to their own positions. If we all reason so badly, how is science even possible? If naturalism is true, why do we reason at all?

PhysicistDave said...

Ben Yachov wrote to me:
> Isn't 1+1=2 indubitable? But geometry isn't according to Dave? In any circumstance or category?
>So somewhere out there in space there are four sided triangles and perfect circles whose ratio to the circumference to its diameter is a perfect 3:1 instead of the #PI? That is possible?
> All I have to say is Wow! You don't believe in God but this makes sense to you?

Four-sided triangles, no, by definition (i.e., just the way we used language, no info about the world.)

As to “perfect circles whose ratio to the circumference to its diameter is a perfect 3:1 instead of the #PI”,
not only does it make sense to me, but it is a well-established result in general relativity (and indeed in classic, nineteenth-century math – this is very old, very, very solid stuff that goes back to Gauss). The example you give is indeed one of the classic points made in non-Euclidean geometry. You have inadvertently stumbled onto the truth, my boy. Congratulations!

Anyone who wishes to actually learn this (as opposed to parading their ignorance) should study, for example, Misner, Thorne, and Wheeeler’s classic “Gravitation.” (Ben Yachov: don’t try it. It will give *you* a brain aneurysm. Guaranteed. I don’t won’t you to sue me for your medical costs.)

Showing off his utter ignorance about twentieth-century physics and nineteenth-century mathematics, BY also wrote:
> K'yee! (BenYachov backs away real slowly & tries not to make too much noise that might set off crazy Dave).

Oh, BY, you are priceless. You are truly, indeed, what modern Christianity is all about. Do you mind if I quote you elsewhere (book, article, whatever)? The level of ignorance combined with arrogance that you exhibit is truly wonderful.

What happens though if some Christian actually goes to a university library and finds out that I am right? Makes Christianity look kinda bad, doesn't it?

And, that is such a good thing.

BenYachov said...

Dave's responses & "arguments" have been.....interesting........much like birther & truther memes about the President's citizenship & who pulled off 9/11 (btw it was Kyle from South Park. I don't care what Bush said in that episode. How could Carmen be wrong?).

Interesting indeed.

BenYachov said...

Well it's clear Dave is not a moderate realist. He is a conceptionalist on acid.

>As to “perfect circles whose ratio to the circumference to its diameter is a perfect 3:1 instead of the #PI”,
not only does it make sense to me, but it is a well-established result in general relativity..

I reply: If you say so but again on Page 82 there is no mention of relativity. All this stuff from left field is interesting but again he is arguing philosophy not physics, Einstein or geometry.

If he meant to make a statement about physics(which is not indicated in the text) then reason dictates he was likely making a Newtonian claim. Which is what most of us non-physicists tend to do naturally.

It's still not hard.

PhysicistDave said...

Vic wrote:
> Is this the new method of arguing for atheism?

Vic, in all honesty, scientists tend not to refer to “arguing” except in the colloquial sense. You present your evidence, you show the theoretical predictions, and you let it all speak for itself. A scientist who, in his scientific work, “argues” as philosophers do is dismissed as a loon (Google Jack Sarfatti, if you want an example of what I mean). (To be sure, there is *plenty* of arguing in the colloquial sense of the word!)

I once tried to slip a bit of philosopher-style “arguing” into a paper when I was doing my thesis work. My advisor nixed it, not because he claimed it was wrong but because he indicated it was a faux pas: well-bred physicists just do not soil themselves as philosophers do, he implied.

Again, this is the incommensurability I am arguing for: almost all “arguments” by philosophers that I have seen strike me not just as wrong but as pathetic nonsense. Conversely, I expect that when an intelligent person learns the truth about science, about Biblical scholarship, etc. he will automatically abandon Christianity without “argument”: if he does not, I draw obvious conclusions about his intelligence or honesty.

Vic also wrote:
> If we all reason so badly, how is science even possible?

It barely is possible. For most human beings, it really is not – take Ben Yachov, please!

It’s right at the limits of human abilities, a bit like a pig riding a bicycle. The only thing that makes it possible at all is its self-correcting nature.

If you want to see what happens to physicists absent the prod of self-correction via experiment, look into the current situation in superstring theory (see, e.g., Woit’s “Not Even Wrong”). Almost as bad as philosophy (some prominent physicists have called it “theology,” and they are not being complimentary).

BenYachov said...

>The example you give is indeed one of the classic points made in non-Euclidean geometry. You have inadvertently stumbled onto the truth, my boy. Congratulations!

I reply: So the Bible isn't wrong about PI then as is often claimed? Good to know.....now sit down carefully. Don't excite yourself.

No loud noises.

PhysicistDave said...

John W. Loftus wrote:
> I truly have low expectations about our ability to reason with each other. That's why we MUST lean on the sciences for the evidence to believe.

Have you read Gellner’s “The Legitimation of Belief”? That is his central point: the phrase he uses is that belief systems prior to science intentionally “poisoned the well,” i.e., built in local biases that served local elites in a self-confirming, circular way. Gellner argues that science created a testing system that breaks through such insular, self-confirming systems of thought and allows us to attain knowledge that is the same on both sides of the Pyrenees, to use Pascal’s metaphor, or, indeed in Beijing, Delhi, Rio, and LA.

Or, as my own mentor, Dick Feynman, put it, science is our way of trying not to fool ourselves. Of course, a lot of people dislike science and love philosophy or theology for precisely that reason: they desperately want to fool themselves.

All the best,

Dave

P.S. To anyone who wonders why I keep referring to science alone and not, say, history, the answer is that for a century or more there have been historians who have seriously and successfully used a scientific method in history. It is now the norm for many (not all) historians. The same is true for many (certainly not all!) Biblical scholars. I am not privileging the *subject* of science but rather the method of science, in the broad sense, which can be, and now has been, successfully used in various other disciplines (alas not all!) besides the natural sciences. I simply want to make that trend universal. Tim and most philosophers oppose me on that. I think the Chinese are on my side, so I expect to win. (My kids and I are learning Mandarin – “you gotta know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em…”)

BenYachov said...

“Scientists sometimes deceive themselves into thinking that philosophical ideas are only, at best, decorations or parasitic commentaries on the hard, objective triumphs of science, and that they themselves are immune to the confusions that philosophers devote their lives to dissolving. But there is no such thing as philosophy-free science, there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.” Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 1995, p.21.

Does this remind us of anyone we know?

Three guesses.:-)

PhysicistDave said...

I invite everyone to do a bit of Googling to find out whether Ben Yachov or the guy with the Ph.D. in physics from Stanford is right about Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

If there is anyone here who suspects that Ben Yachov is anything but an utter fool, this is your chance to correct your mistake.

BY, I love you man, but you might want to actually check this out before you keep posting about it.

On second thought: no, don’t. Just keep it up.

Christianity has exactly the same value as the thought of Ben Yachov. On that proposition, I am content to wage my eternal soul.

Oh, this is fun!

Anyone: am I taking unfair advantage of BY or am I right that he really, really has it coming?

PhysicistDave said...

The self-admitted ignoramus wrote:
>{dave} >As to “perfect circles whose ratio to the circumference to its diameter is a perfect 3:1 instead of the #PI”,
not only does it make sense to me, but it is a well-established result in general relativity..
>[the ignoramus]I reply: If you say so but again on Page 82 there is no mention of relativity. All this stuff from left field is interesting but again he is arguing philosophy not physics, Einstein or geometry.

True in geometry as well as physics, BY. Sorry, but you get the circles you talked about either way.

As I said, this goes back to nineteenth-century mathematics.

In geometry, it all depends on which *non*-indubitable axioms you use. Of course, physical reality is what it is.

JS Allen said...

@BenYachov -

"Scientists are very easily deceived. They think logically, extrapolate possibilities from evidence presented, assume (with a good probability of being right) certain aspects of the observed data and draw upon their past experience in coming to decisions. This is to say that they act very much as all humans do, struggling with sensory input to derive new facts from it. But scientists do this with a certain authority and certainty born of their training and discipline. They are thus excellent candidates for being flimflammed by a clever operator who is aware of the fact that scientists seldom bring the human element into account."

That's noted skeptic James Randi in the journal "Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences".

"Under these conditions it is no wonder, that the movement of atheists, which declares religion to be just a deliberate illusion, invented by power-seeking priests, and which has for the pious belief in a higher Power nothing but words of mockery, eagerly makes use of progressive scientific knowledge and in a presumed unity with it, expands in an ever faster pace its disintegrating action on all nations of the earth and on all social levels. I do not need to explain in any more detail that after its victory not only all the most precious treasures of our culture would vanish, but — which is even worse — also any prospects at a better future."

That's Max Planck, father of quantum physics

BenYachov said...

Dave I don't deny Einstein at all & as far as I know neither does Feser.

But no matter how you spin it & no matter how abusive you act the brute fact remains you misread page 82 & at this point I think you are doing it on purpose.

But it's still good to know in a Einstein relativist universe PI breaks down as we approach the speed of light & thus the bible is not in error about PI.;-)

OTOH if you are talking about how space distorts in relativity well then a perfect circle viewed from that perspective would look like an ovum not a perfect circle. Shrinking or stretching spacetime is no different than changing the length of the diameter or circumference of said circle. But of course then you wouldn't have a perfect circle now would you?

OTOH I think your just blowing smoke.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

PhysicistDave likes talking about PhysicistDave.

JS Allen said...

@BenYachov - Pi is, by definition, the ratio of circumference to diameter in Euclidian space. So it will always be a constant ~3.1416. But Dave is correct that the ratio of circumference to diameter can vary in non-Euclidian geometry, and could certainly be 3. It wouldn't be correct in this case to say that pi is 3, though -- only that the ration of circumference to diameter is 3.

Having said that, I agree that the whole discussing is irrelevant to what Feser actually wrote.

BenYachov said...

All joking aside I would never pretend to be Dave's equal when it comes to math or physics.

What's bizzare however is Dave pretending he understood Feser & the wild dance he is doing to dodge that brute fact.

Anonymous said...

it is clear that people tend uncritically to accept the religious views of the environment in which they were reared, differing depending on that religious environment.

I'm kind of stunned someone is still using this as an argument.

And, that is compelling evidence that the environment causes the religious views independent of rational thought.

But I'm not stunned that a person who uses the former would end it with this latter closer.

It's not compelling evidence for the falsity of religious belief - it's compelling evidence for a bad argument.

Psychoanalzying the 'true reasons' for someone's religious beliefs is a poor way to engage in a discussion about them.

John W. Loftus said...

I'm sorry (not really) but does B Y or JS Allen know what a non-sequitur is? Didn't Dave already say the same thing with regard to science? And wouldn't James Rani and Max Planck agree that science is the best and only way to break free of our self-absorbed self-delusional beliefs that we defend because we prefer them?

And didn't Carl Sagan say science is "a candle in the dark" rather than a spotlight, or the sunlight?

And what the hell is the alternative to the sciences? Again, what alternative is there to the sciences? Why must Christians take out of context what scientists say? Why must they denigrate science so often? Again, what is the f*ucking alternative?

Sheesh. There is no end in sight when it comes to the circular nature of apologetics.

So let me return to what I said much earlier about apologists (corrected):

They always have an escape clause much like the guy who thought he was dead, was convinced dead men don't bleed, then upon being cut with a knife concluded dead men do bleed after all! So why shouldn't we treat the patient in ways appropriate to his illness.

This is exactly what I see here, sheer idiocy. Repeated idiocy. For people to visit here for the first time to see me rail against the commenters here and think this is the way I am every where is also sheer idiocy. Idiocy. Sheer. Also.

Listen, if you think there are reasons to believe when most all I ever see is sheer idiocy then how is it possible for any of you believers to be confident at all that what your believe is reasonable and true? And I think I have pointed out enough of this that you should see quite plainly where I have shown this to be the case that someone spouted some idiocy. That's why I repeatedly do this, to show you that on some items that are plain to see this is how you argue. Then maybe just maybe you'll wonder if you can trust your reasoning skills when it comes to your faith. I would hope so. If not, why not?

Big Scary physicist said...

Anyone familiar with the details of how kids are treated in their religious upbringing knows the details of how this works: how many kids are told “Explore atheism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, etc. for yourself and try to make up your own mind rationally”?

“Brianwashing”?

Yeah.


physicistdave sounds like a roman patrician. Telling every one else what's right and wrong for them and how they should rear their own children.... and if they don't do it a way that meets dave's standards, well heck that's just brainwashing.

It's brainwashing because Dave makes the boneheaded assumption of guessing that parents really have no grounds for believing their beliefs. They simply believe them because their parents believed them. These silly irrational beliefs are just moulded by the environment. These imbecile parents unreflectively coasted through life never once thinking about the relevance of their own beliefs.

From there Dave can make the jump that these parents in turn brainwash wash their children into unreflectively taking on their beliefs.
For the looks of his blog it looks like he has a child. Funny thing is, he acts like a detached adult who had never once tried 'impressing' something upon a child.
As if children are just little robots you can program to uncritically accept any belief that you hold.


But more importantly, Dave's first assumption is arrogant. It fits with a worldview he accepts: religious beliefs are false and any reason that a person has for hold on to their own are simply a product of the environment.

I'm guess Dave has an immunity license from the effects of the environment. One of the elite few (patricians) who can rightfully separate himself from the plebs and scornfully look down.

In closing - dave's an arrogant schmuck.
With any luck his child will rebel against Dave's force indoctrination.... become a God fearing Christian and lead to years of dysphagia from swallowing down all of that bile.

John W. Loftus said...

Soooo, Big Scary, which parents are you talking about, eh? John Travolta who passes Scientology to his kids? Militant Muslims? Orthodox Jews?

How do you propose to judge which parents adequately reflected on their inherited beliefs and how do they adequately do this?

Idiot. You are clueless, absolutely clueless.

Tell brainwashed believers to be self-critical and objective about their beliefs and every single one of them will say that they are.

But tell them to critically asses their own beliefs with the same skepticism they use to evaluate the others that they reject and that will get their attention.

BenYachov said...

So John what does your question have to do with the price of tea in China?

BTW FYI I love & accept Science. But I reject Scientism.

Here compliments of Prof Feser.
part one
http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/03/1174

part two

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/03/1174

enjoy

John W. Loftus said...

Yes, Dave, this IS fun!

I feel like I'm in a tag team wrestling match. When you are out of the ring I show up. When I'm out there you are.

Let's get ready to rummmmmmmble!

BenYachov said...

>Let's get ready to rummmmmmmble!

I reply: Sorry John I loath wrestling. Maybe you can go pick a fight with Bill Donahue at the Catholic League. He loves that crap.

Me I prefer a good MMO or PC RPG.

Cheers.

John W. Loftus said...

B Y cannot even see the relevance of what I write.

Maybe there is one person, perhaps a philosopher(?) who can spell this out for him. Tell him how my comment was relevant. Please. Can someone here give me a glimmer of hope.

No wonder I come her to blast away. I do not see much by way of reasoning. I claim it's because of Victor Reppert who leads the way.

Again, idiots.

Sorry B Y but you are as Dave says you are.

Someone take him, please!

BenYachov said...

Wow John! I say wow!

As Feser once said to you.

"Are you for real?"

Peace.

PhysicistDave said...

Ben Yachov,

I really do have other things to do.

I think everyone here with an IQ above 85 knows which of us is correct in an argument about math and physics.

I’ll zap you some more later.

TTFN

P.S. Can I quote you by name elsewhere (not that I really need your permission – this thread is in the public domain -- fair-use doctrine and all that).

Anonymous said...

I have often wondered why atheistic naturalists such as Loftus get so indignant and/or worked up over the existence of theists and why they even bother making the strenuous efforts that they do to persuade us towards atheism. It's almost as if they imagine that they're acting from a position of genuinely moral superiority, but...

..if you're an atheistic naturalist, and accept that human beings are essentially particular organizations of atoms and biomolecules that unfold mechanically and deterministically according to the laws of physics, there is nothing -absolutely nothing- wrong with doing whatever you want. Strictly speaking, 'you' can 'do' whatever the heck you like if you accept this view of human nature. Why? Simple: Whenever I say that you 'ought to do' some action, I am always presupposing that you can in fact choose to do a particular moral action instead of an immoral action -generally, that you can choose one course of action over another one. But, on the naturalist's view of human nature, every choice that you have ever made and will ever make in life was already made for you at the Big Bang. The Big Bang is billiard ball number one, and all of nature (including the whole process of naturalistic evolution on Earth) is subsequently a cascade of billiard balls, and thus we are essentially just complex systems of interacting billiard balls. Choice is meaningless. You have as much choice in what you do as a billiard ball has a choice to move once it gets smacked. There is only action and reaction, and everything, including the thoughts you have, is bound by causal history. So you don't really have a choice in any matter at all, and you're entire past -and by extension all of human history - is a frozen necessity. Once any action has been completed (or, more accurately, an 'event' has 'occurred'), morally condemning the actions of a Christian apologist or an anti-Semitic mass murderer is just as unintelligible as morally condemning rocks that have been drifting through space for the past 13.7 billion years or a tsunami that has just obliterated a coastal city(again, if, like such things, we undergo a total dissolution into the one great flux of the natural world of atoms and molecules, our historical circumstances become just as frozen over and therefore just as meaningless. Events in human history couldn't have occurred in any other way, and it would be totally idiotic of us to get angry or upset over such cosmic necessities, as it would be for us to get upset over all other cosmic necessities). Hence, 'right' and 'wrong' are unintelligible categories, and morality becomes wholly illusory. Like earthquakes and tsunamis, and like the rest of the mechanical universe, human beings don't choose anything, whether it be a thought, a belief, or an action. Like everything else, they are just events or 'happenings' that 'happen' or unfold according to the laws of physics.

Bottom line: If everything is reducible to a single engine, if the Big Bang has programmed me to accept atheistic naturalism, don't worry - I'll get around to accepting it eventually, regardless of whether I presently want to or not, and if the Big Bang has rigged the dice in advance for the triumph of atheism among the future humanity, I suppose congratulations are in order. If not, well, too bad. It is a fact, though, that there exists no good reason whatsoever for you to be upset over what I or anyone else chooses to believe or not believe, because on a naturalistic worldview I, at bottom, had no choice in the matter at all. In light of being made aware of this fact, then, one wonders why you take the immense pains that you do in order to persuade us otherwise.

PhysicistDave said...

To anyone who wants to actually know about the supposedly “indubitable” axioms of geometry:

Euclid’s axioms are incomplete: he missed a whole set of axioms (the Hilbert order axioms) which make a number of his proofs technically invalid: some of the weird paradoxical “proofs” in geometry that are obviously wrong but look right are due to ignoring the order axioms.

That is just a parenthetical remark: none of Euclid’s conclusions change once you add the order axioms.

Where Euclid’s conclusions *do* change is when you realize that his axioms are indeed not “indubitable,” contrary to Feser’s and BY’s error.

This was first realized in the early 1800s by Bolyai, Lobachevsky, and Gauss.

Specifically, if you decide to doubt Euclid’s parallel axiom, and simply, at one single point in the plane and considering only one line upon which that point is not incident, require that there be (at least) two lines through that point that do not intersect the given line (Euclid’s parallel axiom says there can be only one, of course), then you get a geometry in which things are different than BY and Feser think possible.

Specifically, the sum of the angles of a triangle is *always* less than 180 degrees, the Pythagorean theorem never holds, the ration of the circumference to the diameter of a circle always exceeds pi, etc.

It is, to me, a bit surprising that all this happens if you just slightly alter the parallel axiom at a *single* point and for a single line: what is happening is that the other axioms force a certain rigidity in the plane so that this one single alteration changes everything. If you are willing to concede that some of the other axioms are also not “indubitable,” you can alter them so as to get rid of this rigidity (the result is “Riemannian geometry”).

Alter the parallel axiom in the other way -- allow *no* parallel lines at all -- and you get still another geometry in which BY's supposed impossibility, the ration of the circumference of a circle to its diameter being less than pi, always occurs. The nice way of doing it lets that ratio be any number less than pi and greater than 2. (As I recall, the Hilbert order axioms have to change in this case, however.)

As I kept saying to BY, this is classic math, well-established for nearly two hundred years. Its relevance for both logic and philosophy is of course obvious (e.g., to Kant’s claim that the axioms of Euclidean geometry are known a priori), and, of course, no one can be literate in either logic or philosophy who does not know this. (Yes, I know many philosophers do *not* know this.)

The locus classicus is David Hilbert’s “Foundations of Geometry.” (If you do not know who Hilbert is, please do not embarrass yourself by saying so publicly!) For a contemporary textbook, I like Wallace and West’s “Roads to Geometry,” but there are many, many more available in the math section (not the philosophy section!) of any decent university library.

And, if anyone here really wants to debate whether Gauss, Hilbert, et al. were insane fools who did not know what they were doing, as Ben Yachov has tried to do, please, please, do not take it up with me but go over to your local university and have a nice talk with the friendly people in the math department: I understand they have standard ways of dealing with this particular form of mental illness.

Dave

PhysicistDave said...

To anyone who wants to actually know about the supposedly “indubitable” axioms of geometry:

Euclid’s axioms are incomplete: he missed a whole set of axioms (the Hilbert order axioms) which make a number of his proofs technically invalid: some of the weird paradoxical “proofs” in geometry that are obviously wrong but look right are due to ignoring the order axioms.

That is just a parenthetical remark: none of Euclid’s conclusions change once you add the order axioms.

Where Euclid’s conclusions *do* change is when you realize that his axioms are indeed not “indubitable,” contrary to Feser’s and BY’s error.

This was first realized in the early 1800s by Bolyai, Lobachevsky, and Gauss.

Specifically, if you decide to doubt Euclid’s parallel axiom, and simply, at one single point in the plane and considering only one line upon which that point is not incident, require that there be (at least) two lines through that point that do not intersect the given line (Euclid’s parallel axiom says there can be only one, of course), then you get a geometry in which things are different than BY and Feser think possible.

Specifically, the sum of the angles of a triangle is *always* less than 180 degrees, the Pythagorean theorem never holds, the ration of the circumference to the diameter of a circle always exceeds pi, etc.

It is, to me, a bit surprising that all this happens if you just slightly alter the parallel axiom at a *single* point and for a single line: what is happening is that the other axioms force a certain rigidity in the plane so that this one single alteration changes everything. If you are willing to concede that some of the other axioms are also not “indubitable,” you can alter them so as to get rid of this rigidity (the result is “Riemannian geometry”).

Alter the parallel axiom in the other way -- allow *no* parallel lines at all -- and you get still another geometry in which BY's supposed impossibility, the ration of the circumference of a circle to its diameter being less than pi, always occurs. The nice way of doing it lets that ratio be any number less than pi and greater than 2. (As I recall, the Hilbert order axioms have to change in this case, however.)

As I kept saying to BY, this is classic math, well-established for nearly two hundred years. Its relevance for both logic and philosophy is of course obvious (e.g., to Kant’s claim that the axioms of Euclidean geometry are known a priori), and, of course, no one can be literate in either logic or philosophy who does not know this. (Yes, I know many philosophers do *not* know this.)

The locus classicus is David Hilbert’s “Foundations of Geometry.” (If you do not know who Hilbert is, please do not embarrass yourself by saying so publicly!) For a contemporary textbook, I like Wallace and West’s “Roads to Geometry,” but there are many, many more available in the math section (not the philosophy section!) of any decent university library.

And, if anyone here really wants to debate whether Gauss, Hilbert, et al. were insane fools who did not know what they were doing, as Ben Yachov has tried to do, please, please, do not take it up with me but go over to your local university and have a nice talk with the friendly people in the math department: I understand they have standard ways of dealing with this particular form of mental illness.

Dave

PhysicistDave said...

To anyone who wants to actually know about the supposedly “indubitable” axioms of geometry:

Euclid’s axioms are incomplete: he missed a whole set of axioms (the Hilbert order axioms) which make a number of his proofs technically invalid: some of the weird paradoxical “proofs” in geometry that are obviously wrong but look right are due to ignoring the order axioms.

That is just a parenthetical remark: none of Euclid’s conclusions change once you add the order axioms.

Where Euclid’s conclusions *do* change is when you realize that his axioms are indeed not “indubitable,” contrary to Feser’s and BY’s error.

This was first realized in the early 1800s by Bolyai, Lobachevsky, and Gauss.

Specifically, if you decide to doubt Euclid’s parallel axiom, and simply, at one single point in the plane and considering only one line upon which that point is not incident, require that there be (at least) two lines through that point that do not intersect the given line (Euclid’s parallel axiom says there can be only one, of course), then you get a geometry in which things are different than BY and Feser think possible.

Specifically, the sum of the angles of a triangle is *always* less than 180 degrees, the Pythagorean theorem never holds, the ration of the circumference to the diameter of a circle always exceeds pi, etc.

It is, to me, a bit surprising that all this happens if you just slightly alter the parallel axiom at a *single* point and for a single line: what is happening is that the other axioms force a certain rigidity in the plane so that this one single alteration changes everything. If you are willing to concede that some of the other axioms are also not “indubitable,” you can alter them so as to get rid of this rigidity (the result is “Riemannian geometry”).

Alter the parallel axiom in the other way -- allow *no* parallel lines at all -- and you get still another geometry in which BY's supposed impossibility, the ration of the circumference of a circle to its diameter being less than pi, always occurs. The nice way of doing it lets that ratio be any number less than pi and greater than 2. (As I recall, the Hilbert order axioms have to change in this case, however.)

As I kept saying to BY, this is classic math, well-established for nearly two hundred years. Its relevance for both logic and philosophy is of course obvious (e.g., to Kant’s claim that the axioms of Euclidean geometry are known a priori), and, of course, no one can be literate in either logic or philosophy who does not know this. (Yes, I know many philosophers do *not* know this.)

The locus classicus is David Hilbert’s “Foundations of Geometry.” (If you do not know who Hilbert is, please do not embarrass yourself by saying so publicly!) For a contemporary textbook, I like Wallace and West’s “Roads to Geometry,” but there are many, many more available in the math section (not the philosophy section!) of any decent university library.

And, if anyone here really wants to debate whether Gauss, Hilbert, et al. were insane fools who did not know what they were doing, as Ben Yachov has tried to do, please, please, do not take it up with me but go over to your local university and have a nice talk with the friendly people in the math department: I understand they have standard ways of dealing with this particular form of mental illness.

Dave

BenYachov said...

>I think everyone here with an IQ above 85 knows which of us is correct in an argument about math and physics.

I reply: To bad Feser's book was about Philosophy & you seem to be unable to grasp that simple fact.

>P.S. Can I quote you by name elsewhere (not that I really need your permission – this thread is in the public domain -- fair-use doctrine and all that).

I reply: Why ask me if I can't stop you?

Anyway, no you may not quote me by name or at all. You have proven by your conduct to be an irrational & vicious person who has no moral aversion to misrepresenting what others believe. So it would be foolish to grant your request.

OTOH if you do it anyway(which wouldn't suprise me one bit) then that proves in your case lack of belief in God leads to an abandonment of morals & honor.

But you will do what you want.

Wow crazy & chutzpah!

Wow!

PhysicistDave said...

Apologies to all for the triple post; blogger kept saying:
"The characters you entered didn't match the word verification. Please try again."

So, I kept trying again, until I realized this must be a famed blogger malfunction. Vic, if you have the power please delete the two extra posts (and this one).

Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks JS Allen I appreciate your comment.

Also, PhysicistDave's comments on time travel were very interesting: I was somewhat suspicious of Tim's rather bold claim.

John W. Loftus said...

I'm done here as well. I'm unsubscribing. I have other things to do.

Dave, no I haven't read Gellner’s “The Legitimation of Belief”? but I will when I get a chance.

It was fun.

Vic, make you a deal. It is probably in your best interests to leave me alone as I argued earlier. I know it would suit me perfectly.

B Y yes, Feser did say that to me. He is as Dave said so I treated him as the patient he is.

I will state for the record that Eric, who is a fan of Feser's and who commented here earlier, is an intelligent person whom I have had plenty of reasonable discussions with and from whom I have learned some things. I suspect I could have those discussions with Dr. Tim McGrew too, like I have had with several Christian schoalrs including Craig Blomberg and James Sennett, John Haught, Doug Groothuis and others.

Just not here.

Cheers.

Blue Devil Knight said...

At a thread someone here linked to at Feser's blog, Crude brought up the principle of charity in argument. I think a whole bunch of people need to learn about that. It was one of the first things we learned as philosophy students, and has stood the test of time as a Good Thing.

PhysicistDave said...

BY wrote to me:
>OTOH if you do it anyway(which wouldn't suprise me one bit) then that proves in your case lack of belief in God leads to an abandonment of morals & honor.
> But you will do what you want.

Yes, I will, and I promise to quote you far and wide – your posting here is public: legally and morally you have no “expectation of privacy.”

I have told everyone where they can get detailed info on all this in any decent university library (Google probably has it too, though I have not looked since I own the books I cited): Ben Yachov, the game is over. Everyone knows the truth now. I think even you do, though I am sure you will never admit it.

I’m on this thread looking for people like you: the data you have provided is very useful.

Benyachov said...

>B Y yes, Feser did say that to me. He is as Dave said so I treated him as the patient he is.

I reply: Actually I read the discussion because we talked about this before on the tentative apologists blog. You did not come off well.

Still if you & Dave want to do Atheist Apologetics by being abusive to people knock yourselves out.

It's only gonna backfire in the end. But what do I know? Low IQ I guess.

Benyachov said...

BDK,

Even thought I disagree with your reading of Feser page 92 of his book TLS(assuming Dave is representing your views correctly which is a big strech) I just want to say you are a class act here & in general.

Cheers to you!

Blue Devil Knight said...

Benyachov: Thanks!

Note I have never read Feser, I was merely expressing surprise when Dave said Feser would make that claim about delay between motoneuron activation and muscle contraction.

I repeat, that wasn't my interpretation of Feser, but of Dave's summary! Sounds to me like Feser likely didn't mean to say that (that's one reason I brought up the importance of the principle of charity).


When I was a philosophy major at UNH, there was a great class for the majors called 'Philosophy Workshop' that taught many basic principles of good argumentation. That was one of the main ones that he pushed into our stubborn know-it-all minds. It was more useful than just about any other undergraduate philosophy course I ever took (except perhaps a course on Wilfrid Sellars).

Tim said...

BDK,

Which rather bold claim about time travel did you take me to be making?

JS Allen said...

@Tim - Here's Michio Kaku talking about time travel.

As BDK says, though, this is all a distraction from the original point: Feser never said anything about a (lack of) delay between motoneuron activation and muscle contraction -- and some of the other valid points BenYachov raised. I would say that the mistake of assuming Feser was talking about neuronal activation was an amateur oversight if I hadn't made the same mistake myself at first when reading Gibson :-)

Benyachov said...

All you have to do is read THE LAST SUPERSTITION and find out for yourself. Even if you don't buy the Thomist argument for the existence of God (which contain Feser's responses to Sir Antoney Kennedy. The primere Thomist Critic & religous Agnostic) you will learn a lot about the history of philosophy.

Speaking from my own experience the book gave me a strong intellectual belief in the existence of God & ironically crushed any chance I would ever be an Intelligent Design supporter or believe Evolution was in conflict with Classic Theism.

Anonymous said...

I 2nd Ben.
BDK, you're very different from most atheists I meet online.
Please don't take that as an insult! You're also much more intelligent and patient than me too.

Sometimes I get frustrated reading some atheists postings because it feels like i'm being, indirectly, labeled a moron who believes in the equivalent of fly spagetti monsters. But I never feel that way when reading your posts, and I do learn alot too.

Soooo....
Thanks!!

Tim said...

JS,

Thanks. I've run across Gödel universes and Kerr models with rotating black holes, but they don't fall under the scope of "the straightforward sense in which most people imagine it," a qualification I explicitly put into the claim. We're not talking about a DeLorean time machine here.

Also, I deliberately expressed the claim with the neutral phrase "is not possible" so as not to prejudge the question of whether the impossibility is logical or physical.

Dave seems to have blown past both of these points without slowing down, just as he assumed that benyachov must be talking about physical geometry and not about pure geometry.

Finally, I simply reported the claim as something that (from my sample) I think a majority of philosophers working in the philosophy of spacetime physics think. It isn't my field; I'm just reporting what I perceive as a sociological fact.

Anonymous said...

Dave,
I'm reading your posts and they're all coming from left field.
Who exactly are you arguing with?

BenYachov said...

Well I will be the first to confess I am often cruel to New Atheist fundamentalist types. Especially over their ignorance of philosophy & their one size fits all low browe overly general anti-religous polemic.

Still it's impossible not to have a soft spot for the more rational informed Atheist types. People who read Sobel & spurn Dawkins. Those people are challenging. You have to do some heavy reading to respond to their criticism of the plausiblity of religious belief.

Also you are the better for it.

Benyachov said...

>Dave seems to have blown past both of these points without slowing down, just as he assumed that benyachov must be talking about physical geometry and not about pure geometry.

I reply: Well I'm glad someone else noticed that too.

PhysicistDave said...

Tim wrote:
> Dave seems to have blown past both of these points without slowing down, just as he assumed that benyachov must be talking about physical geometry and not about pure geometry.

Tim, you’re a liar.

I very clearly covered both issues.

Liar.

PhysicistDave said...

Anonymous wrote to me:
>I'm reading your posts and they're all coming from left field.
> Who exactly are you arguing with?

Ummm…. that’s kind of obvious if you look through the thread.

I guess you're just making a little joke, eh?

PhysicistDave said...

Joshua S. Allen wrote:
> Feser never said anything about a (lack of) delay between motoneuron activation and muscle contraction -- and some of the other valid points BenYachov raised.

Lying as usual, I see, Joshua. How you doing, youngster?

I certainly urge any honest people here (not too many, it seems) to get the book and check for themselves.

PhysicistDave said...

BDK wrote:
> Note I have never read Feser, I was merely expressing surprise when Dave said Feser would make that claim about delay between motoneuron activation and muscle contraction.
>I repeat, that wasn't my interpretation of Feser, but of Dave's summary! Sounds to me like Feser likely didn't mean to say that

BDK, get the book. He really does say that. He goes onat great length about it, far too great length for me to type it all in here.

These Liars for Jesus ™ are just lying, trying to defend Feser.

Dave

PhysicistDave said...

BDK wrote:
> Also, PhysicistDave's comments on time travel were very interesting: I was somewhat suspicious of Tim's rather bold claim.

BDK, if you check back, you’ll see that I did not claim that this was Tim’s position but attributed it specifically to “philosophers,” relying on Tim for that. Now, that it has been established that Tim is a liar, perhaps I should not have trusted him.

But, at any rate, I was just replying to what Tim claimed many philosophers thought and explaining why any philosophers who thought that were demonstrating their lack of intelligence.

Dave

BenYachov said...

I can't get over how Dave's phony objection to page 92 is almost verbatim identical to UnBeguiled.

see
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/07/beguiled-by-scientism.html

He just can't accept Feser wrote a book on Aristotelian Philosophy.

Wow!

PhysicistDave said...

Eric wrote:
> Victor, Joshua, Tim and the like are clearly well educated, intelligent and rational people

Ummmm… no.

Eric also wrote:
> I had supposed that your aim was to attempt to attempt to provide a rational case against theistic belief, and against Christian belief in particular

Eric, the point John and I keep trying to make is that this was done two centuries ago. We do not need to reinvent the wheel: intellectually, Christianity is dead. The body just still twitches occasionally.

The only problem that now remains is sociological and psychopathological: how do we break the cycle of insanity that keeps bringing new generations into the cult.

We’ve figured it out. Europe is now largely de-Christianized. The ARIS surveys show that the Great Evil is now dying in the States. We’re at the end game.

And, we are not going to be diverted by your pretense that there is actually some legitimate intellectual defense of Christianity that we should take seriously.

The Kingdom of God is dead. The Great Satan AKA Christianity is a stinking pile of decay.

Dave

PhysicistDave said...

The pathological liar wrote:
> He just can't accept Feser wrote a book on Aristotelian Philosophy.

Huh????

I like Aristotle. It's pathological liars like you and Feser that I would enjoy seeing in Hell for a few eaons.

BenYachov said...

>These Liars for Jesus ™ are just lying, trying to defend Feser.

Or maybe BDK will read the book continue to disbelieve in God, maybe find fault in Feser's actual philosophical arguments for God and raise those points & still conclude your charges have no foundation?

That's the problem with Fundie Atheists like Dave & John. They don't seem to know you can be wrong about smaller things and still be right about the big picture.

It's kind of sad. Anyway it's nice to know BDK read my link.

BenYachov said...

>Huh????

You don't know Feser's book is about Aristotle and how his metaphysics point to God? Well of course you don't know you didn't read the Book.

I guess you just looked in the index & skipped a bit eh?

>I like Aristotle. It's pathological liars like you and Feser that I would enjoy seeing in Hell for a few eaons.

Wow all this hatred! I feel real pity for you. I do.

PhysicistDave said...

BS wrote:
> It's brainwashing because Dave makes the boneheaded assumption of guessing that parents really have no grounds for believing their beliefs. They simply believe them because their parents believed them. These silly irrational beliefs are just moulded by the environment. These imbecile parents unreflectively coasted through life never once thinking about the relevance of their own beliefs.

Yep., that is usually what happens. Just ask people, and they’ll usually admit it.

BenYachov said...

Dave you are embarrassing yourself at this point & I'm no longer going to indulge you anymore. For your own sake.

Bye.

Wow!

BenYachov said...

additional:

Enjoy your echo chamber unless John comes back.

PhysicistDave said...

Well, now that BY is gone, I can stop being polite and say what I really think about him – wheeeeeee!!

Okay, if you click on his name and go to the website he links to, you find a nice little money machines – donations, items for sale, etc.

I guess it always comes to this -- the God scam is the world’s oldest profession, and I should have expected that Ben Yachov is in on it. I suppose Ben Yachov is a pseudonym (I expected that: who would make such a fool of himself under his own name?), so…

Anyone know who Ben Yachov really is vis a vis the catholic.com scam site?

I betcha he’s playing games with taxes, with siphoning off money, etc. Any way we can get the goods on him and put him behind bars where I’d bet he belongs?

These crooked God scamsters really are scum. But every now and then it is possible to put one of them behind bars.

PhysicistDave said...

BY wrote to me:
> But it's still good to know in a Einstein relativist universe PI breaks down as we approach the speed of light & thus the bible is not in error about PI.;-)
>OTOH if you are talking about how space distorts in relativity well then a perfect circle viewed from that perspective would look like an ovum not a perfect circle. Shrinking or stretching spacetime is no different than changing the length of the diameter or circumference of said circle.


No, not at all. Completely different matter. You are confusing special relativity and general relativity.

A circle at rest does not work the way you think it does.

I give up on you, you poor ineducable fool. You truly do have intellectual capabilities similar to a chimp’s.

PhysicistDave said...

Vic,

Well, Vic, John has been completely vindicated. We have calibrated the posters here on your site, guys you know yourself, and John’s point has been proven correct.

Incidentally, as far as I know, John and I have never met, in person or on the Web, prior to this thread. So, I am an outside referee judging the debate.

All the best,

Dave

POM said...

I thought people like PhysicistDave died out with the collapse of logical positivism.

Anonymous said...

If I was an atheist, I'd find this entire conversation downright embarrassing.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Tim: mainly I'm surprised you would say it was philosophers that showed it (given that it is clearly a physics question).

Tim said...

BDK,

I made no claim about what philosophers have "shown": I merely reported what I perceive to be a consensus of those who work in the area regarding "Back to the Future" style time travel.

Tim said...

Dave writes:

Tim, you’re a liar.

I very clearly covered both issues.

Liar.


It's a very long thread -- 167 comments as I sit down to write this morning -- so it's certainly possible that I missed it. Where did you discuss "the straightforward sense in which most people imagine" time travel? What I had in mind, as I would gladly have told you if you had had the courtesy to ask, was a "Back to the Future" conception of time travel. If you'll point me to a specific passage in one of your comments where you address this qualification, I'll gladly retract my claim.

Tim said...

Dave,

Again, you object strenuously to my claim that you saddled BenYachov with a claim about physical geometry where he appears to me to have been talking about a claim in pure geometry. I do see two comments of yours that have direct bearing on this. One of them runs:

[T]he fact is that the truth of the axioms of geometry is an empirical issue, and they happen to be untrue

That does seem to be a rather straightforward assimilation of geometry to physical geometry. The comment makes no sense as a statement about pure geometry.

The other runs:

[W]e know that the premises of Euclidean geometry are not true of the real world

This is a commonplace in physics, and there is a sense in which it is perfectly true. But it requires, once again, that we treat geometry physically, and in particular that we interpret "line" as the path taken by a ray of light traveling in a vacuum. This is a contingent identification that goes beyond pure geometry.

Eric said...

Dave, let me try to formalize the argument you've been making in this thread:

(1) I, Dave, am a trained scientist (Ph.D. in physics), while most of you, and most of the people you reference, are philosophers.

(2) Scientists and philosophers approach questions about the truth of a claim about the real world differently (i.e. use different methods).

(3) The scientific approach is more effective than the philosophical approach when our aim is to determine whether a claim about the real world is true.

(4) Christianity rests on claims about the real world.

(5) Therefore, a scientific approach to determining the truth of Christianity's real world claims is more effective than a philosophical approach.

(6) I, Dave, am approaching the question of the truth of Christianity's real world claims scientifically while those who oppose me on this thread are approaching it philosophically.

(7) Therefore, my conclusions about Christianity's real world claims are more likely to be true than those reached by a philosopher.

(8) I, Dave, have concluded that Christianity's real world claims are false, while the philosophers on this thread, and the philosophers they reference, have concluded that Christianity's real world claims are true.

(9) Therefore, Christianity's real world claims are more likely false than true.

Now I've formulated these premises very charitably (Dave's claims are actually much stronger), and below I'll provide a series of quotes from Dave's numerous posts to demonstrate that this really is the argument he's making (though he'd repudiate my categorizing it as an argument; whatever).

But before we get to the quotes, let's take a quick look at the argument.

Let's suppose that Dave really has a Ph.D. in physics, and that (1) is true. Let's also brush aside any technical problems with (2) and suppose that it's true.

We run into our first problem with (3), for it supposes that philosophers and scientists are applying different methods to the same kinds of questions. In most cases, this is obviously false.

Let's grant that (4) is true if we don't limit, a priori, what the real world comprises to the world as naturalists conceive it.

I think (5) is problematic because of the problem I raised about (3), viz. it's not the case that all the questions about the truth of Christianity are scientific questions. For an couple of obvious examples, the questions of whether god's attributes are logically consistent isn't a scientific question, and neither are the questions raised by the various forms of the problem of evil.

The problem with (6) is that Dave hasn't actually presented any scientific arguments that purport to show that Christianity is false. Rather, he's asserted that it's false a number of times, and has instead focused on *examples* (not evidence used to justify a claim, but examples used to illustrate a claim) of natural phenomena and mathematical reasoning that a particular Christian philosopher has used to illustrate a particular conception of one kind of causal series and a way of thinking about how metaphysics differs from empirical science. And, as I pointed out earlier, he badly misunderstood the causation example, and as Tim has now pointed out with the distinction between pure geometry and physical geometry, he mangled the mathematics/metaphysics example.

Finally, the problem with (7), (8) and (9) is that Dave hasn't actually done any of the work necessary to establish that conclusion. It's this obvious lack of work, and the quotes below, that have led me to conclude that the argument I've formalized above is in fact his argument; needless to say, it sucks. Now for the quotes, lest Dave should attempt to say I've misrepresented him (and, as the quotes will show, I've been exceedingly charitable to him):

Eric said...

"I've tried several times (starting last night) to post a comment explaining why scientifically oriented people cannot take modern apologetics seriously."

"When scientifically literate people such as myself look at modern Christian apologetics, we see simply embarrassing nonsense"

"with all due respect, I do not have much respect for the community of philosophers"

"My general view is that philosophers and natural scientists have mutually exclusive functioning epistemologies, that we have run a very nice empirical test in comparing these competing epistemologies during the last few centuries, and that the philosopher’s mode of thought is now dead."

"I just think the whole philosophical approach has been discredited by experience."

"Surely, two millennia during which they could produce nothing that even their colleagues could generally agree was correct is failure enough."

"I’ll say that this is generally what I expect from philosophers – their knowledge of actual facts about reality, as opposed to verbal philosophical fantasies, tends to be close to non-existent."

"Sometimes, all one can say is, “In the name of Darwin, Hume, and all else that is holy. Get off you fat duff and learn something about reality instead of this cow manure about Christ and metaphysics.”"

Eric said...

"I do not respect how you and most of your fellow philosophers think. I think that we have tested your manner of “thinking” and “reasoning” empirically over thousands of years and found that it is a failure. For example, to use your words, the idea of “arguments” being “impressive” leaves me quite cold, I fear. That is not how good scientists (or mathematicians, a very different breed from natural scientists, of course) think."

"I think that the method of thinking in science is contrary to and adversarial to the method of thinking employed in philosophy, theology, psychotherapy, hermeneutics, etc. I think science should and will replace such pseudo-disciplines, and I think that it is a good thing that those disciplines are dying."

"Fogelin is one of those rare philosophers whose mode of thought is more similar to scientists than to most of his fellow philosophers, which is why I respect him."

"I really do think we have an actual empirical case of “polylogism,” between guys like you and guys like me, Loftus, and Fogelin: incommensurable, mutually incompatible modes of mental operation. I think that empirical tests show that your mode of functioning is ineffective and that ours is effective."

"I am also pretty sure that I can never convince you of this, since your mode of thought is self-confirming.
"Incidentally, our mode of thought is *not* self-confirming: it might have been the case that empirical tests would show that our quasi-empiricist mode of thought fails compared to your mode of thought. But, they have not."

"But, again, the fact that, as you claim, *philosophers* think they have ruled out the possibility of time travel without doing all the necessary work in physics (I trust no philosopher claims to have completed the Hawking calculation!) just proves to me once again that philosophers are not mentally competent at a very fundamental level."

Eric said...

"And, again, thank you oodles and oodles for proving my point that we scientists have a different mode of mental functioning than you do."

"I’m arguing my case strongly here because I think it is largely true and because I am trying to elicit counter-evidence from guys like Tim. However, I actually do leave open the possibility that someone like Tim will prove me wrong, though I doubt it, or at least point out some area where the approach of philosophers is really fruitful. I also doubt that, but the universe is a big place. Could happen."

"Oh, BY, you are priceless. You are truly, indeed, what modern Christianity is all about. Do you mind if I quote you elsewhere (book, article, whatever)? The level of ignorance combined with arrogance that you exhibit is truly wonderful."

"What happens though if some Christian actually goes to a university library and finds out that I am right? Makes Christianity look kinda bad, doesn't it?"

"I once tried to slip a bit of philosopher-style “arguing” into a paper when I was doing my thesis work. My advisor nixed it, not because he claimed it was wrong but because he indicated it was a faux pas: well-bred physicists just do not soil themselves as philosophers do, he implied."

"Again, this is the incommensurability I am arguing for: almost all “arguments” by philosophers that I have seen strike me not just as wrong but as pathetic nonsense. Conversely, I expect that when an intelligent person learns the truth about science, about Biblical scholarship, etc. he will automatically abandon Christianity without “argument”: if he does not, I draw obvious conclusions about his intelligence or honesty."

"Or, as my own mentor, Dick Feynman, put it, science is our way of trying not to fool ourselves. Of course, a lot of people dislike science and love philosophy or theology for precisely that reason: they desperately want to fool themselves."

"To anyone who wonders why I keep referring to science alone and not, say, history, the answer is that for a century or more there have been historians who have seriously and successfully used a scientific method in history. It is now the norm for many (not all) historians. The same is true for many (certainly not all!) Biblical scholars. I am not privileging the *subject* of science but rather the method of science, in the broad sense, which can be, and now has been, successfully used in various other disciplines (alas not all!) besides the natural sciences. I simply want to make that trend universal. Tim and most philosophers oppose me on that."

"As I kept saying to BY, this is classic math, well-established for nearly two hundred years. Its relevance for both logic and philosophy is of course obvious (e.g., to Kant’s claim that the axioms of Euclidean geometry are known a priori), and, of course, no one can be literate in either logic or philosophy who does not know this. (Yes, I know many philosophers do *not* know this.)"

"the point John and I keep trying to make is that this was done two centuries ago. We do not need to reinvent the wheel: intellectually, Christianity is dead. The body just still twitches occasionally."

"we are not going to be diverted by your pretense that there is actually some legitimate intellectual defense of Christianity that we should take seriously."

"The Kingdom of God is dead. The Great Satan AKA Christianity is a stinking pile of decay."

Terry Schleicher said...

I Googled "John Loftus christianity dangerous" looking for a quote and came across this site. So far I used up 2 hours reading the posts about John.

As a high school science teacher I would like to ask PhysicistDave a question. I only perused about half the comments so far. Sorry if this was covered already!

My brighter students want to do real science at prestigious schools like Stanford. Are your posts here a good example of how physicists at Stanford think? Is this how you and your colleagues do physics? Do you just do research, or do you teach classes at Stanford? If you teach at Stanford, is this how you teach students to do science? Appreciate your insights!

++Terry

BenYachov said...

I was hoping this thread would die because I can't bear to watch Dave meltdown anymore. But you sow the wind you reap the whirlwind.

@Tim

>Again, you object strenuously to my claim that you saddled BenYachov with a claim about physical geometry where he appears to me to have been talking about a claim in pure geometry.

I reply: It's obvious to anyone who reads page 82 of Feser's book this is the case as well. Tim's quotes of Dave show his contradictory thinking.

But of course Dave I think deep down knows this, but you know I think he believes if he admits he was wrong about Feser, that somehow that's the equivalent of admitting God exists. Sane Atheists like BDK seem to except the possibility Dave might have misread or misunderstood Feser with no problem to their unbelief. Guys like Loftus & Dave OTOT seem to act as if admitting an error is equivalence to admitting God.

Christians do this too. It's a disturbing phenomena.

Blue Devil Knight said...

It's pretty obvious he misread Feser. That's what Feser said, after all!

Eric said...

BDK, yes; in fact, I think it's a safe wager that Feser, not Dave, is the world's foremost expert on what Feser thinks!

Blue Devil Knight said...

On the other hand, I just re-read what Feser wrote, and can certainly understand the confusion.

I can see misreading him, and he probably should have been more clear what he was saying about motor neurons and such.

BenYachov said...

>he probably should have been more clear what he was saying about motor neurons and such.

I reply: As I said on the other thread that's a fair criticism & I'm the big Feser fan here.

Tim said...

Sounds like a consensus is emerging.

BenYachov said...

>Sounds like a consensus is emerging.

I reply: Well it's possible I might wind up politely disagreeing with BDK on how clear Feser is in this matter. Or not. But I have no reason to deny BDK's good faith here.

That's all I require.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I've quoted in full the relevant bits of Feser's book, and Dave's criticism here. I will post on it later tonight, just there for people to consider.

BenYachov said...

Well long as we all realize Feser is talking about Aristotle's metaphysical view of motion(i.e. being change, not spacial movement per say, potencies being actualized etc) & he is using the example of physical motion as analogous to Aristotlian motion.

He is not intending to make an statement about the nature of physical motion. (one has only yo read pages 1 to 91 to get the context).

Anymore than if I say "the sun will rise tomorrow" I'm intending to repudiate heliocentric science or profess the fixed nature of the Earth.

Dave can't get past the fact Feser isn't talking about physics.

Eric said...

Ben, I also think it's clear that Feser was talking about an analysis of a causal series *from the last effect considered*, and not, as Dave erroneously concluded, *from the first cause of the series*. That is, Feser isn't saying that the first cause is simultaneous with the last effect, but that when analyzed from the point of view of the last effect, the last effect *depends* as that moment (i.e. simultaneously) on the first cause. So, while there may be a delay from the time my neurons fire to the time my hand moves a lever, and from the time the lever flexes and moves a stone, it's the case that as the stone is moving, the lever is moving, my hand is moving, and my neurons are firing. Hence, Dave's criticisms, though accurate statements of the science involved, falsely attribute an inaccurate scientific account on Feser's part.

Here are some quotes from TLS (pages 92 - 95) to support my reading:

"...if we think of a hand which is pushing a stone by means of a stick, *the motion of the stone* [the last effect being considered] occurs only insofar as the stick is moving it, and the stick is moving it only insofar as it is being used by the hand to do so. At every moment in which *the last part of the series* (viz. the motion of the stone) exists, the earlier parts (viz. the motion of the hand and of the stick) exist as well...The series is essentially ordered *because the later members of the series*, having no independent power of motion on their own, derive the fact of their motion and the ability to move other things *from the first member*, in this case the hand...[in an essentially ordered causal series] each member *depends simultaneously* on other members with *simultaneously depend* in turn on yet others, and so on...the hand's potentiality for motion is actualized by the arm, and the arm's potentiality for motion is actualized by the muscles, and the muscle's potentiality for motion is actualized by the nerves; and again, *all of this* is simultaneous [by "all of this" Feser indicates that he's talking about the series from the point of view of the last effect under consideration, as I have been arguing]...the motion of the stone depends on the motion of the stick, which depends on the motion of the hand, which depends on the firing of the neurons, which depends on the firing of other neurons, all of which depend on the state of the nervous system, which depends on its current molecular structure, which depends on the atomic basis of that molecular structure, which depends on electromagnetism, gravitation, the weak and strong force, and so on and so forth, **all** simultaneously, **all** here and now [again, notice the structure of the analysis: Feser moves from the last effect to the earliest causes, and not, as would be required on Dave's reading, from the first cause to the last effect. The next sentence makes this even clearer.]. The actualization of one potential depends on the simultaneous actualization of another, which depends on the simultaneous actualization of another, which depends on the simultaneous actualization of another, which depends on...How far can it go? [Here, when specifically referencing "simultaneous actualization," the "How far can it go?" at the end clearly indicates that he's asking how far *back to the first cause* can it go, which again supports my reading of his use of the term "simultaneous," not Dave's]"

Blue Devil Knight said...

And it is pretty clear, anyway, what he means by one thing 'sustaining' another in an essentially ordered chain. If you take out the first, the whole chain collapses.

I think instead of all these hedges and such about 'final' versus 'efficient' causality, Feser could have just said, in response to Dave's criticism:
"Sigh. Fine. My main point was that motorneuron activity sustains the hand movement, that if you take away the neurons, the muscles in the hand won't move any more. That is what is supporting the present movement of the hand. Yes, technically, motorneuron firing onset does not immediately cause muscle fibers to contract. There is a cascade of intervening steps between the two, so there will be a very short time between the two, and I might have spelled that out more explicitly. So yes, in that sense what is sustaining the present movement of the hand is technically motorneuron firing a millisecond or so ago (this is contra Eric's claim trying to justify the simultaneity defense by appeal to final effects). The final step in the cascade from neuron to contraction is the true "simultaneous" sustainer of my hand movement (e.g., tendons exerting a change in force being applied to my bones is simultaneous with my hand movement)."

At any rate, to focus on such details in the rather coarse and impressionistic introduction to the idea of an essentially ordered series on p 92 is, in the final analysis, a mistake. An understandable mistake that Feser perhaps could have blocked by being just a tad more clear. But the criticism comes across as a kind of "gotcha" criticism that clearly doesn't damage Fesers overall stance in a substantive way, it is a detail he can trivially absorb into his Aristotelian apparatus.

Note I'm not defending his Aristotelian apparatus! I don't understand it, haven't read it closely outside of the bits relevant to this discussion, and am frankly not interested in learning all that much about it (sorry, but ya' gotta pick what you will die ignorant of, and one of those things for me is Aristotelian metaphysics).

BenYachov said...

Seems like a fair critique. I suppose I could quibble on a very minor point or two (or not) but I'm too tired & sleep beckons.

Good job BDK. Oh, I have have been remiss, congratulations on your child as well.

Cheers.

PS
>(sorry, but ya' gotta pick what you will die ignorant of, and one of those things for me is Aristotelian metaphysics).

Tragic! Since till now I don't know how I could have lived this long & believe in God without knowing Aristotelian metaphysics. But to each his own.

Cheers again.

R O'Brien said...

Dave Miller is no doubt one of those pathetic individuals who introduces himself as Dave Miller, PhD or Dr. Dave Miller at parties. I am not impressed with his advanced degree in physics; I know many, many people at UCSD (and elsewhere) who are better than he could ever hope to be. Moreover, his self-promotion and arrogance is especially pathetic considering that he appears to be dried up as a physicist. Lastly, and most importantly, he is apparently unaware that most mathematicians are realists. If he confronted a mathematician with his foolish little empiricism re: Euclidean geometry he'd be squashed like a bug.

BenYachov said...

@R O'Brien

Obviously Dave skipped the beginning of TLS where Dr. Feser PhD talks about the difference between Realism, Conceptualism and Nominalism. Then Feser goes on to argue for a moderate Realism. Naturally then Feser would look at both math & geometry threw the prism of moderate Realism.

I can figure this out & I don't have a PhD.

Blue Devil Knight said...

BY: thanks for the congrats. It is amazing having her in our lives! She's a sweet baby.

Yes, it hurts me to have to choose what to learn versus not learn in my life. But it absolutely must be done, there is no way to learn everything.

Joshua Blanchard said...

Loftus says, "I truly have low expectations about our ability to reason with each other. That's why we MUST lean on the sciences for the evidence to believe. That's what Blanchard continues to miss."

I wonder where have I missed this - certainly not in this thread, although apparently I am in good company (Loftus lists Plantinga and Swinburne). I don't know about Loftus, but I think getting to conclusions via evidence and reasons is a good thing. Loftus evidently thinks that where our "ability to reason with each other" fails, "evidence" comes in. His he just saying that all our arguments shouldn't be a priori? Is Loftus saying anything at all here? He either thinks we should resort to counter-brainwashing or he doesn't. Sounds like he doesn't want to reason, but he wants to rely on evidence. Can anything be salvaged from Loftus' comments?

Loftus says, "Blanchard does not think overwhelming people with a cumulative case is honest work, or that there is a role to play in persuasion. That, quite frankly is utterly ignorant. Utterly ignorant."
Although Loftu doesn't give any reasons for why this is ignorant (other than the non-sequitur that there are more facts in his brain than he can put in a book), he evidently thinks that getting to a desired effect (deconversion) via something other than standard intellectual methods (charitable interpretation of opponents, giving voice to opponents, not skewing case, etc.) can be honest. This is very remarkable, and will be news to educators everywhere.

"Now, how can I convince others of that? I'm trying to convince others of what I know. At that point there is nothing dishonest with what I'm doing even if you don't like it. If you don't like it don't continue helping me make my case."
A million dollars for anyone who can extract information from this statement. Loftus asks how he can convince others of "that" (presumably, that Christian belief has no more "epistemic warrant" than one of its denominations, Mormonism), then answers: trying to convince others of what he knows (which includes, among other things, the "that"). Then he says, in further destruction of language, that "at that point" there is nothing dishonest in what he is doing.

This is quite remarkable. Loftus suggests bludgeoning methods to overwhelm people into believing something. Yet he himself criticizes religious belief on the grounds that it is motivated by "brainwashing," the term he has failed to define which presumably is a non truth-conducive method.