Monday, July 02, 2012

Three Arguments for Dualism

A discussion by Jeremy Pierce.

55 comments:

Papalinton said...

Dualism, like supernaturalism, is a figment. There is no mind and body dualism. There is no natural/supernatural dualism. The mind is what the brain does, and the brain is an integral component of the physical body.

The three arguments proposed by Pierce; The
. Argument from Disembodied Existence, the
. Argument from divisibility, and the
. Argument from introspection,

are little more than philosophical flatulence. The most pertinent point made in the piece comes in the comment section of his website:

By Bruce C. Meyer on October 13, 2008 10:42 PM
"In the intersection of the worlds of Stand-Up Comedy and Metaphysics, no one comes close to Steven Wright. He said, someone broke into my house last night and replaced everything with exact duplicates."

And that is all that metaphysics is; ideas. The notions of gods and the supernatural are simply 'ideas', nothing more, nothing less. Science does not presuppose naturalism. Naturalism is a direct conclusion from doing science. That is, we learn about the natural world without recourse to divine intervention or influence, and that the "laws" of nature are all that exists. We learn nothing about the universe by adding the presumption of a god in to the mix. In other words, naturalism wins because it works. The arrant redundancy of applying 'supernaturalism' as an add-on to any explanation by theists, the unnecessary superfluous nature of supernaturalism, is the means by which `supernatural' defines itself out of existence. The notion of the supernatural is just mentation. There is the physical world and the world of ideas. Dualism is an idea only.
The supernatural is an idea not a phenomenon. Ideas are limitless, but, if there is a `ghost' it must interact with the physical world, if there is a god and it intercedes or intervenes, as the religious claims that it does, then it can only do so by interaction with the physical world and therefore be a function of the natural world. By all means use the idea of 'supernatural' if you wish for ideas about gods, fairies and such, but do not confuse it for any registrable phenomenon, occurrence or fact.

There is a direct and inverse interaction between the natural and the supernatural. In every instance since the dawn of time, once inexplicable phenomena [lightning, thunder, germ theory] are exposed to rational natural explanation there is a concomitant reduction in the supernatural. Not on any occasion has there been a documented case of a natural claim being placed into the 'supernatural' category of our knowledge and understanding. Not one.

And as with supernaturalism, dualism is simply mentation, an idea conjured by the mind.

BenYachov said...

Since when does one have to believe in the supernatural to be a dualist?

Property dualism hello!

All this time & you haven't learned shit.

BenYachov said...

Says who?

Papalinton said...

The body is a property. Mentation is not a property. It is a function.

BenYachov said...

The body is a property? Says who?

So matter is a property? But if matter can be a property why can't there be an emergent property of consciousness from matter?

Property dualists can be materialists too after all.

Karl Grant said...

Ben,

I thought we had agreed to ignore the troll for a couple of weeks.

BenYachov said...

Sorry I missed the board meeting.

Ignoring now.

Prediction.

He is now going to post something anti-Catholic to try an bait me.

Not falling for it.

B. Prokop said...

Perhaps the "Ship of Theseus" paradox has some relevance to this discussion.

After all, doctors tell us that, other than some philosophically insignificant parts of us such as our teeth, every last atom in our bodies is replaced by a new one every 7 to 10 years. this means that, physically at least, I am not the same person who went by my name 10 years ago. (I'd like to see a defendant in a 10-year old murder case use this as a defense. "It was someone else whut done it, yer honor!") But, as my parenthetical joke shows, this is demonstrably not the case.

So... if, despite being materially an entirely new being every decade, we nevertheless remain the same person, there must be some non-material element of our being that is the true definition of our identity!

cl said...

Ben,

The idea was to ignore Paps for at least a few weeks, to see if his arguments change at all. So far, based his vacuous atheist / materialist preaching, I see no indication that they will. I can see the logic in swatting down his factual errors—lest innocent bystanders get sprayed with his intellectual collateral damage—but other than that, I see no value or benefit in engaging with the guy. He doesn't show any indication of being here to learn or to contribute to the discussion. He just shows up and hurls insults at those he fancies intellectually inferior. Materialist intellectual snobbery, 101.

Honestly, can anyone point to a single Scripture that would justify incessant back-and-forths with people like Paps? Contrary, Paul warns against getting sucked into "vain philosophy" and "arguments over words." When the disciples were sent to a town, Jesus instructed them to "shake the dust" if the message was scoffed or mocked, right? Might that be because our time could be better spent on more fertile soil? Why should the mocker and scoffer consume so much of our precious time?

Not saying I'm not fully guilty of that which I question above, just sayin' that's my take these days. Life's too short, atheist or not.

William said...

Wasn't the Leibniz of the Leibniz' law quoted in the OP some kind of a neutral monist, not a dualist?

B. Prokop said...

I'm with you on this one, cl. A while ago, I realized that one big reason for responding to Papalinton was the same reason the drunk kept looking for his keys under the lamp post. "Cause the light was better there!" In the same vein, Papalinton is such an easy target, taking no effort at all to refute, that it's awfully hard to resist getting a free point in every now and again.

But I agree - it's time to draw a curtain on this one. Paul tells us to put away childish things. And at this point, engaging with Papalinton most definitely falls into that category!

Victor Reppert said...

If you want evidence that atheism doesn't cure the cognitive ills of the human race, that it doesn't convert us to unbiased critical thinkers, that it does nothing to keep us from following cult leaders blindly, that it will not improve our moral character, that it offers no protection against the very tendencies that produced the Inquisition, there are many examples that you can point to. Papalinton is one of them.

Papalinton said...

"If you want evidence that atheism doesn't cure the cognitive ills of the human race, that it doesn't convert us to unbiased critical thinkers, that it does nothing to keep us from following cult leaders blindly, that it will not improve our moral character, that it offers no protection against the very tendencies that produced the Inquisition, there are many examples that you can point to. Papalinton is one of them."

Thanks for the personal smear, Victor. It now seems clear you are indeed unable to discipline yourself against competing in a race to the bottom along with the other mud shovelers, an Apologist that masquerades as a 'philosopher'. Unfortunately, it is not me you have to worry about in not 'curing the cognitive ills of the human race' or convert you to 'unbiased critical thinking', or 'following cult leaders', 'improving your moral character', or protect you against christianity's own god-inspired inquisition. You can only save yourself from the horrors of superstitious supernaturalism and christian shamanism by critically looking at and testing the christian mythos. It is not up to me to encourage you to think wider, deeper and broader than Apologetics. I have already taken that journey that so many millions are now making towards secular humanism as the universal principle by which humankind can prosper, grow and progress. The moribundity of 2.000 years of christian theism has finally washed over and swamped any vestige of usefulness in social governance. On the balance of probabilities the backwash of christian theism has tipped the balance where the negatives now outweigh the positives.

"A while ago, I realized that one big reason for responding to Papalinton was the same reason the drunk kept looking for his keys under the lamp post. "Cause the light was better there!" "

Yes. Yes. Funny, Bob. But I've heard it many times before. Ever more germane to the current debate about the role of christian theism in contemporary society is that coined by the great English writer and playwright:

"“Religion is like a blind man looking in a black room for a black cat that isn't there, and finding it.” Oscar Wilde

In response to the prissy, juvenile response of supposedly mature adults to play 'no speakys' with me because 'I have been a naughty boy' and won't say 'sorry', the only mature response that I van offer is:

"People will forget what you did, people will forget what you said, but they won't forget the way you made them FEEL.” Maya Angelou

Believers obviously feel mightily uncomfortable with any form of criticism of their fundamentals knowing how hard it is to prop up the unsupportable, because they know deep down that if christianity were truly supported by the evidence there would be no controversy. I am reminded of Robert W Funk, Bible scholar, Chairman of the graduate department of religion, Vanderbilt University:

"If the evidence supports the historical accuracy of the gospels, where is the need for faith? And if the historical reliability of the gospels is so obvious, why have so many scholars failed to appreciate the incontestable nature of the evidence?"

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Your latest post eloquently demonstrates the wisdom of boycotting your commentary. You are deluding yourself if you think anything you've ever written has caused the least bit of discomfort to any Christian on this site. No, what appalls us is your recent Declaration of War, your crystal clear repudiation of argument and reason in favor of mockery and ridicule. That doesn't discomfort us - it saddens us.

I for one have come to the conclusion that, although I strongly suspect that in person you are probably a quite likable guy, you have aligned yourself with Mankind's darkest impulses for unfathomable reasons, and nothing we say can help at this point. Whatever it will take to ultimately return you to sanity will have to come from within. Until then, any dialog with you is like kicking dust in our own faces. Why should we want to do this?

For my part, I will welcome you back with open arms once you repudiate your pledge to use ridicule and mockery as a talking point.

Karl Grant said...

Paps,

In addition to what CL and Bob said, you're boring. I don't mind trolls, so long as they are entertaining. But you have no originality (you substitute it with the copy-and-paste function). You're repetitive in the extreme and I personally get tired of seeing the same boring shit in your posts over-and-over-and-over. Your insults look like they were copied at random from Dawkin's forums and quite frankly they lost their bite and whatever witty charm they might have had six years ago.

So to put it bluntly, as a debater you suck and as troll you suck even more. And until you improve as a debater or a troll-and I frankly don't give a damn which-you can go beg for attention somewhere else.

Papalinton said...

Bob
"For my part, I will welcome you back with open arms once you repudiate your pledge to use ridicule and mockery as a talking point."

The more disconcerting aspect is that believers on this site seem very reluctant to debate the substance of my claims, for example, supernaturalism and gods are simply the product of mentation. They are ideas, no phenomena. Science does not presuppose naturalism; naturalism is the conclusion of doing science.

There is the natural physical world, and there is the world of ideas. This is as close that any theologian and philosopher will get to describing some form of dualism, because dualism itself is simply an 'idea. Philosophy is about manipulating ideas, not about establishing or testing phenomena. That is the role of science.

Earlier on another OP, I challenged believers to establish the 'evidential'[?] physical reality of the revivification of a three day-old dead and putrescent corpse, the physical and bodily levitation of a dead but supposedly living person slowly drifting upward as if a balloon into the blue beyond to who-knows-where and how; and parthenogenesis, and 3-in1 godhead, all those central tenets of christianity.

What I received was an obfuscatory response, personal abuse and cries of 'being delusional'. To the religious, Bob, the manner of my description of these events seems disrespectful and uncivil. Read the sentence carefully. Which word or words offend you? All I have done is transpose words that are theologically laden with scriptural significance with synonyms that do not ordinarily put the reader into the emotively psychological swoon that such words invoke. For example I substituted 'resurrection' with 'revivification', 'ascension' with 'levitation', 'virgin birth' with 'parthenogenesis', and the 'trinity' with the '3-in-1 godhead'. Perhaps the notion of putrescent is objectionable to you? But then to remind us all starkly and without equivocation, in all normal circumstances known to humankind, a three day old dead body lying in the relative ambient temperature and pressure of a hot desert climate would indeed be putrescent after three days. There is no escaping that fact.

I have de-theologized the statement, put it into plain simple language, removing the highly charged emotive and psychologically induced notion of 'sacred' from the words. I have not tried to be rude, discourteous, impertinent, or flippant. Mindful of the remarkable level of explanatory power about our world and our relationship in it, now within humanity's grasp, it is indeed up to believers to demonstrate today, right now, beyond a shadow of doubt, without resorting to the default state of 'faith', the many extraordinary physical claims of reality made throughout the judeo-christian writings.

Papalinton said...

CONT.
Science and naturalism, trespass on the boundary of the sacred not because it is opposed to the sacred but because it has no concept of sacred at all. Sacred is a purely religious concept, not a scientific one and certainly not a natural one. To science, nothing is sacred, because 'sacred' is not a part of its vocabulary. Remove the hyperbole, the rhetoric and emotion, and all that remains are ideas, imaginings, not phenomena.

The notions of gods and the supernatural are simply 'ideas', nothing more nothing less. I reiterate, science does not presuppose naturalism. Naturalism is a conclusion from doing science. That is, we learn about the natural world without recourse to divine intervention or influence, and that the "laws" of nature are all that exists. We learn nothing about the universe by adding the presumption of a god in to the mix. In other words, naturalism wins because it works. The arrant redundancy of applying 'supernaturalism' as an add-on to any explanation by theists, the unnecessary superfluous nature of supernaturalism, is the means by which 'supernatural' defines itself out of existence. The notion of the supernatural is just mentation. As I say, there is the physical world and the world of ideas.
The supernatural is an idea not a phenomenon. Dualism is an idea, not a phenomenon. Ideas are limitless, but, if there is a `ghost' it must interact with the physical world, if there is a god and it intercedes or intervenes, as the religious claims that it does, then it can only do so by interaction with the physical world and therefore be a function of the natural world. By all means play with the idea of 'supernatural' if you wish to conjure ideas about gods, fairies and such, but do not confuse it for any registrable phenomenon, occurrence or fact.

There is a direct and inverse interaction between the natural and the supernatural. In every instance since the dawn of time, once inexplicable phenomena [lightning, thunder, germ theory] are exposed to rational natural explanation there is a concomitant reduction in the supernatural. Not on any occasion has there been a documented case of a natural claim being placed into the 'supernatural' category of our knowledge and understanding. Not one.

How does a theologian, no less a believer get around the evidentiary facts of the matter without invoking the mysticism or supernaturalism?

Eric said...

Perhaps the most annoying thing about posts like those left by Papalinton is the fact that they perfectly instantiate what atheists so frequently accuse theists of, viz. they're big on rhetoric while utterly lacking in substance. Not only that, but Paps, and those like him, seem to have at the same time a deep need to discuss these issues and an aversion to learning one iota about them. It's an odd combination, but I seem to encounter it frequently on sites like this. Perhaps worst of all is the obvious inability that the so called reasonable, logical and rational folk display when it comes to exercising reason, logic and rationality! It's all very odd indeed, which is why I say that one distinctive of the New Atheism is the way that atheism tends to be understood as an intellectual accomplishment, and hence provides an instant self-esteem boost to those the consider themselves to be atheists. With one simple decision even the dullest among us can feel as if he's among the brightest (pun intended), for he's seen through the superstition and the stories that so many smart people still accept. You can almost hear them thinking, "Yeah, he may have a PhD, or he may be my boss, or he may have a host of other actual accomplishments, but I'm an atheist -- I'm smart enough to see the truth about the most important issues of life, but the PhD and my boss aren't! Maybe they're not so smart after all, and maybe I'm actually smarter then they are -- and more courageous too! I can face the facts as they are, while they have to hide behind fairy tales. And I can be truly moral, for I don't act out of fear of punishment, or out of a desire for a reward." And so on.

When atheism becomes the ultimate accomplishment, anyone can feel like a winner. I may be off here, but this seems to me to be a big part of the appeal of the New Atheism.

Papalinton said...

Eric
You need to do a little more than pychologise about me.

Remember it is you that claims that a dead, putrified body came back to life, not me. It is you that tells us for a fact that a real live person just lifted off and drifted up into the blue beyond, not me. It is you that tells us with a straight face that a person just hopped out of a boat and walked on water, not me. Tell me how this happens, Eric? Why is this any more believable than what a billion-plus Muslims claim as a point of fact that Muhammad flew to heaven on the back of a winged horse? How is your levitating body any more believable than an elephant god, Ganesh, with a broken tusk, and a god no less than jesus to boot, against whom close to a billion Hindus thinks jesus shades to insignificance in comparison?

You see Eric, just as Prof David Eller, renowned Anthropologist, University of Colorado, so clearly notes: When one studies religion, whether historically, sociologically, psychologically, anthropologically, and so on, one can do trivial things like count worshippers in church or evaluate their voting habits. This generates a certain amount and kind of information about religion, or at least religious behaviour. But most influential students of religion have wanted to do much more, namely, provide a theory of religion, give an explanation of religion. What does it mean to explain religion? The one thing it does not mean is to take it at face value - to respect its claims, its authority, its boundaries. If one were to explain scientifically some ritual or ritual in general, what one would NOT do would be to explain it as true: "Those people do that rain-making ritual because it really does make it rain". Investigations of the sort discussed above - pulling down the statues and scriptures to give them a good look - is easily appreciated as a disrespectful (and entirely warranted and desirable) thing, but it is not always so easily grasped that explanation itself is a disrespectful thing as well. If a scientist asks a communion taker, "Why are you swallowing that wafer and wine?" and gets back the answer, "Because it is the body and blood of Christ," he or she would not publish that as the theory of communion. That is a religious response, not a scientific analysis. The scientist is likely to 'translate' the behaviour into some symbolic or psychological or social or perhaps biological idiom. That is, the scientist essentially concludes, "Well, that is what the believer says, but that is not what's really going on. Let me tell you what is really going on."

Eric, believers like yourself must demonstrate today, right now, beyond a shadow of doubt, without resorting to the default state of 'faith', the many extraordinary physical claims of reality made throughout the judeo-christian writings. You are almost there with your rejection of Ganesha, the elephant god, and I am with you on that one. You and I are one when it comes to Muhammad flying off to heaven on the back of a winged horse. But, how does one get over the hump of a three-day-old dead body in a hot desert climate not putrefying? Magic? Miracle? Give us a break. Shamanic mumbo jumbo is the kindest that one can ascribe to such an idea.

I would hazard a guess to suggest that the most annoying thing about my posts is that they starkly expose the facade of religious belief, in all its forms, and constantly remind people there is no substantive nucleus to the fundamental claims of christian theism. And I am not about to let believers get away with glossing over the supernatural claims of magical belief.

Matt DeStefano said...

Do any dualists here find any of these arguments compelling? You might find them to be sound given that you accept dualism, but do any dualists think that these are the death knell to naturalism?

Papalinton said...

Eric
"Perhaps worst of all is the obvious inability that the so called reasonable, logical and rational folk display when it comes to exercising reason, logic and rationality! It's all very odd indeed, which is why I say that one distinctive of the New Atheism is the way that atheism tends to be understood as an intellectual accomplishment, and hence provides an instant self-esteem boost to those the consider themselves to be atheists. With one simple decision even the dullest among us can feel as if he's among the brightest (pun intended), for he's seen through the superstition and the stories that so many smart people still accept."

"God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also the kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set them above their betters." H L Mencken (1850-1956)

Cale B.T. said...

I am willing to try and engage you Papalinton, but I think it would be helpful if you separated out your various arguments into blog posts, so that they can be separately addressed. I am not a retiree and can't keep up with your pace.

Papalinton said...

Cale B T
"I am willing to try and engage you Papalinton, but I think it would be helpful if you separated out your various arguments into blog posts, so that they can be separately addressed."

Pick one and go for it.

Cale B.T. said...

For starters, the statements,

"And that is all that metaphysics is; ideas. The notions of gods and the supernatural are simply 'ideas', nothing more, nothing less"

and

"We learn nothing about the universe by adding the presumption of a god in to the mix. In other words, naturalism wins because it works. "

Papalinton said...

Well?
Go on.

Cale B.T. said...

Sorry, I didn't make it very clear: if you are willing to write a brief blog post concerning these topics, I am willing to respond in depth. Otherwise, I am taking the "paps challenge".

Eric said...

"Remember it is you that claims that a dead, putrified body came back to life, not me. It is you that tells us for a fact that a real live person just lifted off and drifted up into the blue beyond, not me. It is you that tells us with a straight face that a person just hopped out of a boat and walked on water, not me. Tell me how this happens, Eric? Why is this any more believable than what a billion-plus Muslims claim as a point of fact that Muhammad flew to heaven on the back of a winged horse?"

Pap, I hear this all the time, and no atheists has yet been able to respond to my standard response, which is:

You're claiming that the reasons Christians adduce for concluding that Jesus was resurrected are minimally as strong as the reasons Muslim's adduce for accepting the truth of Muhammad's Night Ride. Now, since you're making this claim, I'm going to assume that you're aware of the strongest arguments for both conclusions, and if that's true, perhaps you can enlighten me: Where -- *specifically where* -- can I find an argument supporting the truth of the Night Ride that's minimally as strong as the stronger arguments Christians have adduced to support the resurrection, e.g. those of Wright, Licona, etc.?

N.B. To meet this challenge of mine you *must* be specific, and the reasons that either your source presents or that you summarize must be at least as strong as the case made for the Resurrection.

You made a specific claim (or, your claim is presupposed by your question, for without it, the question loses all its force); I've provided you with a challenge to defend that claim. Will you please respond with a clear and concise answer to my challenge? Or will you, like most atheists I've encountered who make similar claims, do everything you can to duck it because you know that it exposes the faulty assumptions on which your claim is premised?

Papalinton said...

I don't think so Cale B.T. Review the context in which I present my commentaries. They are the product of comprehensive, diverse and documented sources of fact, evidence and properly founded inference. They are not self-limiting, and draw wide reference across a broad range of disciplines, from the sciences, anthropology, sociology, history, archeology, apologetics and biblical studies and philosophy.

However, I will provide a broad outline that guides my reasoning.

In reading through theist commentary on this site it is demonstrably clear that they are limited to essentially two secondary sources of knowledge, theology and philosophy. And there is a reason for this. Theology and philosophy are singularly limited to discourse in ideas, not phenomena; and ideas are limitless. And as a result of the very nature of these two areas of discourse, neither can be subject to verification or falsifiability and given over to testability. In fact, both are incapable of expression outside the world of ideas.
The funny thing about philosophy [as it is with theology] is that: “For every philosopher, there is an equal and opposite philosopher”. And that was from Plato, Phaedo (c.380 BC) himself. The practice of philosophy and theology does not lead to a conclusion; they are perpetually bound in the swill of ideas. Science on the other hand looks and tests for causation, explanation, and confirmation.

Outlined in his book, Acts of Meaning, Harvard University psychologist Jerome Bruner confirms "that we tend to search for meaning whenever others' behaviours violate our expectations, or when they don't adhere to basic social norms. For instance, breaches of linguistics rules - what language theorists call "conversational implicatures - often encourage a frenzied search for the speaker's intentions. If someone responds with a "whiskey sour, please" after being asked what the weather forecast is for tomorrow , most listeners will automatically think about the causes for this inappropriate - or at least unexpected - social response. Perhaps the person doesn't speak English and didn't understand the question; perhaps the person is mentally ill; or maybe he's angry and is trying to frustrate the listener; perhaps the person is being sarcastic, playful, is hard of hearing - or maybe he's just really thirsty. Although each of these explanations invokes different theories for the cause of the speaker's strange response, they all share an appeal to his mental state. By contrast, it's unlikely a similar search for meaning would occur if he had made an appropriate response, such as, "I think it is going to rain." Likewise, natural events that are expected or mundane are unlikely to be signs or messages from God, because they fail to trigger our theory of mind. most of the time, things unfold in a manner consistent with our expectations. It's when they don't that we become such willing slaves to illogical thinking."


CONT.

Papalinton said...

CONT.
Prof Jesse Bering, in his extensive research outlined in his book, 'The God Instinct', notes: "The important thing to notice ... in which a natural event is taken as a sign, omen, or symbol, is the universal common denominator: theory of mind. In analyzing things this way, we're trying to get into God's head - or the head of whichever culturally constructed supernatural agent we have on offer. Consider, however, that without our evolved capacity to reason about unseen mental states, hurricanes and tsunamis would be just what they are for every other animal on earth - really bad storms. This is to say, just like other people's surface behaviours natural events can be perceived by us humans as being about something other than their surface characteristics only because our brains are equipped with the specialized cognitive software, theory of mind, that enables us to think about underlying psychological causes. Of course, in reality there probably aren't any such psychological causes, but our brains don't mind that. Our theory of mind goes into overdrive, jump-started in the very same way it's provoked by another person's unexplained social behaviour. It's a bit like if you were to shake your best friend's hand and he punched you in the face. It may not be immediately apparent, but there must be some reason for him to have acted in this way. Except here, it's not other people's behaviour we're trying to understand; it's God's 'behaviours', or otherwise the universe is acting as if it were some vague, intentional agent."

Bruner and Bering are clearly outlining our evolutionary predisposition to indiscriminate teleology. In theology, teleology is the doctrine of design and purpose in the material world. A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. But as Bering and Bruner record, the philosophical account and indeed the theological narrative is presuppositional nonsense with not a skerrick of evidential support.

And what the mounting evidence is showing us is not some dualism nonsense of mind and body but rather that which Spinoza [Ethics (1665)] so eloquently observed: "Mind and body are one and the same thing, which is conceived now under the attribute of thought, now under that of extension. ... And consequently the order of the actions and passions of our body is the same as the order of the actions and passions of the mind.”

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Tell me Eric. Who are NT Wright and Licona etc when they're not Apologists?

I'll raise you a Robert M Price, a Bart Erhman AND a Richard Carrier.

Sorry Eric, there are so many theologians who simply do not agree with NT Wright. For example, John Piper:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Future-Justification-Response-Wright/dp/1844742504

Or perhaps you might wish to review:
Review: Gerd Lüdemann. 2004. The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Resurrection-Of-Christ-Historical/dp/1591022452%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJN76WD3MCXEU2J2Q%26tag%3Dinternetinfidels-21%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3D1591022452

Dragging up theologians as purveyors of 'evidence' for the revivification of a three-day old putrescent dead corpse is not what one would call real evidence. Not one Muslim, not one Hindu, not one Universalist, nor I, would be convinced by NT Wright's take.

Any one of these sources, Price, Erhman, Carrier, Piper, Lüdemann, are an equal if not a greater match and as strong a rebuttal to the NT Wright or Licona malarkey that need be made. QED

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

Great challenge, Eric. And I notice that it wasn't met. Indeed, the obfuscation and non sequitur in his response were near-record breaking. I don't think there's been so much twisting and turning since Ozawa's aircraft carriers vainly attempted to avoid Admiral Halsey's bombs at Leyte Gulf. (And in both cases, the results were direct hits and the sinking of the defender.)

I second your observation. I've discussed historicity arguments with a Hindu friend of mine on occasion and concluded that while they are bedrock critical to Christianity, they are completely irrelevant to a Hindu (and properly so - their faith does not rest on a verifiable historical event). Although I've never asked a Muslim the same question, I wouldn't be surprised if I got the same answer.

Historical verification is indeed a good yardstick to go by. The case for Orthodox Christianity is strong, but not so strong that it would compel a person to believe. This is by divine design. To be otherwise would be for God to fall before the devil's second temptation ("If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down" Matthew 4:6) In contrast, the case for Mormonism is not only weak, it is objectively refutable. Same thing for cults (which I don't count as "religions") like Scientology.

BenYachov said...

All we have from Paps in sum is some long winded armature psycho-babel on people's alleged motivations for religious belief. An emotive appeal for the glories of scientism complete with fundie gnu atheist bashing of philosophy as a legitimate means of nature rational knowledge. Topped off with an appeal to authority by referring to various known Atheist and Skeptical apologists.

In short nothing original.

Eric said...

"The case for Orthodox Christianity is strong, but not so strong that it would compel a person to believe. This is by divine design."

I agree.

"All we have from Paps in sum is some long winded armature psycho-babel on people's alleged motivations for religious belief."

Funny, isn't it, Ben, how Paps goes in almost the same breath from saying, "You need to do a little more than pychologise about me" to, well, doing nothing more than 'psychologizing'!

"Any one of these sources, Price, Erhman, Carrier, Piper, Lüdemann, are an equal if not a greater match and as strong a rebuttal to the NT Wright or Licona malarkey that need be made. QED"

My claim was not that the case for the Resurrection cannot be refuted (though I of course don't think that it has been), but that there's no case of similar strength for Muhammad's Night Ride, and hence that your questions were premised on a demonstrably false assumption. Now that you think that referencing Ehrman or Price on this has anything to do with my point tells me that you're not every adept at following a simple line of reasoning. Care to try again?

B. Prokop said...

Eric,

More to the point (re Mohammed's ride) than its refutabality is its relevance to a Muslim's faith. Were one to conclusively prove that Mohammed never flew to Paradise by night, such refutation would have zero impact on Islam. On the other hand, were one to definitively disprove the Resurrection, that would be the end of Christianity! So the two events are not equivalent, and the pairing of them is nonsensical.

Even worse is the differing standards being used. Supposedly, a Christian is supposed to lose his faith because somebody else believes differently. But an atheist is not expected to abandon atheism due to others not agreeing with him! I say, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Eric said...

"More to the point (re Mohammed's ride) than its refutabality is its relevance to a Muslim's faith. Were one to conclusively prove that Mohammed never flew to Paradise by night, such refutation would have zero impact on Islam. On the other hand, were one to definitively disprove the Resurrection, that would be the end of Christianity! So the two events are not equivalent, and the pairing of them is nonsensical."

Yes, I agree, Bob. I just hear this sort of claim all the time, so I go along with it to make my point. But you're right, it shows that Paps and those like him don't even understand the objects of their 'critiques' very well.

"Supposedly, a Christian is supposed to lose his faith because somebody else believes differently. But an atheist is not expected to abandon atheism due to others not agreeing with him! I say, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."

Again, spot on. Atheists like Pap suppose that atheism is the default position, so if there's doubt and disagreement, atheism is the logical resting place. This is manifestly absurd, of course, on every level (culturally, it's easily refuted, since almost all cultures at all times are deistic/theistic, not atheistic; psychologically, it's easily refuted, since our innate tendency is to assign agency behind the workings of the world; logically it's easily refuted, since atheism doesn't follow from doubt and pluralism, agnosticism does ((and the cowardly attempt to make agnosticism a type of atheism is illustrative of the desperation of these folks)).

B. Prokop said...

But hear me now and mark my words. Despite having just demonstrated that the "Night Ride" objection is a complete and ludicrous fallacy, we'll be hearing it again (and again, and again...).

finney said...

The only good argument here is the third.

Papalinton said...

I despair at the ignorance.
The Musilms believe Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged-horse.
The Hindus believe Ganesh, the elephant god with a broken tusk, a jesus equivalent, is a god.
The christians believe that a 3-day old rotting corpse was revivified.

No challenge at all, Eric. You based your challenge on unhelpful information contrived through the lens of Apologetics. These are all fables. They have no foundation in reality. No matter how NT Wright massages the information, the impact of his perspective will only be felt within christian theology. There will be not a scintilla of movement or ripple of his great 'revelation' that will impact on any area of human activity outside Apologetics. I can't imagine a Jehovah's Witness or a Universalist suddenly jumping up and exclaiming, "Holey Jesus H Christ, we've got it all wrong" or a Rosicrucian saying, "Honey, Nt Wright has just blown away our whole belief system." It is called some old, same old. On a scale of importance towards contributing to human progress, Wright's treatise will simply swirl around in the dust of christian theism. No, NT Wright's account will never see the light of day outside christian theological circles. A re-interpretation of old information does not a fact make.

I wave off NT Wright and Mike Licona as off-handedly as you wave off Bob Price, Bart Erhman and John Piper.

Bob says, " I've discussed historicity arguments with a Hindu friend of mine on occasion and concluded that while they are bedrock critical to Christianity, they are completely irrelevant to a Hindu ..."
Never a truer word spoken. That which is bedrock to christian theism, or Islam or Hinduism are all completely irrelevant, just as you say. None improve the human condition going forward. They simply perpetuate the prevailing conditions and lock people into a stable diet of misery and have done so for millennia. The greatest improvements and the greatest growth in humanity's knowledge and understanding have been generated through the sciences, through greater appreciation of and understanding naturalism as the best and most efficacious explanatory tool we currently have.

Bob says, " The case for Orthodox Christianity is strong, but not so strong that it would compel a person to believe. This is by divine design."
Precisely what I am arguing. This is vintage archetypal christian woo at its most pristine. The congenital inability of bible crazies to be able to distinguish between reality and superstition, between fact and fantasy, unable to extrapolate the proofs from allegory. And this is worrying.

Ben says, "All we have from Paps in sum is some long winded armature psycho-babel on people's alleged motivations for religious belief."
Perhaps news to you Ben, this is called science. And there is so much out there that simply blows away any semblance of credibility of christian theism to offer cogent and eloquent explanation that is not steeped in magical religious woo. Compare the sciences to the superstitious babble of christian apologetics.

CONT.

Papalinton said...

CONT.
Eric says, "Atheists like Pap suppose that atheism is the default position, so if there's doubt and disagreement, atheism is the logical resting place."
Absolutely not. One only arrives at atheism through investigation, study and mental discipline . Atheism is the result of the exercise of the intellect that lifts us away from the primeval predisposition that we, as humans, all have, imaging agency where there isn't one. The evolutionary genetic survival mechanisms that predisposes us to teleological intentionality is a deeply rooted primitive response that aided us as a species to provide the bast chance for survival. Religion is a product of and a wholly-owned derivative of this very primitive existential proclivity. It is innate, it is intuitive, and it is unlearned. It is only through strength of mind, through expansive education, through reasoned discipline, can one be lifted out of the quicksand of the theological swamp. Religion was humanity's initial and very primitive response at attempting to explain the world and our relationship in it.

You will have heard of Dan Barker, President and co-founder of Freedom From Religion Foundation. A former evangelical, Barker was the quintessential evangelist's evangelist. He even spent years as a missionary in Mexico converting catholics to christianity. :o)
He astutely observes:
"You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that WE are the ones that need help?"

Papalinton said...

Here is another wonderful insight from Dan Barker, the former evangelist's evangelist:

"Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing, 'Yes gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down .... Amen." If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it."

I say, Amen to that.
Hallelujah! to the triumph of science and reason over ignorant superstition and theology.

Even Dave Barry (1947-), American humorist. Son of a Presbyterian minister. Elected class clown in high school. Avoided military service during the Vietnam War by registering as a religious conscientious objector [thank god for his dad's occupation], even though, as he said, "I decided I was an atheist early on." Won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1988; astutely notes;

"The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes."

Eric said...

"No matter how NT Wright massages the information, the impact of his perspective will only be felt within christian theology. There will be not a scintilla of movement or ripple of his great 'revelation' that will impact on any area of human activity outside Apologetics. I can't imagine a Jehovah's Witness or a Universalist suddenly jumping up and exclaiming, "Holey Jesus H Christ, we've got it all wrong" or a Rosicrucian saying, "Honey, Nt Wright has just blown away our whole belief system.""

Right, which is why conversions are completely unheard of, eh Pap? That totally explains why Christianity, which began with a handful of uneducated, uninfluential nobodies whose leader had been executed by authorities of the greatest civil power in the world, now dominates the religious landscape with over two billion Christians in cultures around the world -- because, you know, we just can't imagine someone encountering the Christian message and the reasons Christians have for believing it and saying, "yes, that's it! I've been wrong!" Happens all the time, Pap.


Now don't you think you should have thought for at least a moment about that one *before* you posted it? Sounds kinda' stupid now, doesn't it?

Eric said...

"One only arrives at atheism through investigation, study and mental discipline . Atheism is the result of the exercise of the intellect that lifts us away from the primeval predisposition that we, as humans, all have, imaging agency where there isn't one."

Thank you for confirming my initial point. Atheism, you concede, is an achievement -- perhaps, you would say, the ultimate achievement. Even those who have no real accomplishments to their credit have the ultimate achievement within their grasp! If you're not particularly bright but want to be a Bright, then just say 'no' to god, and voila -- instant access to the cognoscenti! Just be sure to stay away from those darn Christian apologists and their incessant demands for arguments, reason and evidence. It kinda takes all the fun out of being an atheist when you discover that your ultimate achievement is seen as the ultimate failure by a group of people who are capable not only of refuting all of your arguments, but also of presenting arguments of their own that aren't quite so easy to deal with. Which is why, of course, so many atheists now resort to ridicule and studiously avoid (and advocate avoiding) anything approaching reasoning and argumentation. (Of course I'm referring primarily to the New Atheist types, and not the the many serious and respectable atheists out there.)

Papalinton said...

Eric, Eric Eric.
" ..[christianity]... now dominates the religious landscape with over two billion Christians in cultures around the world..."

You might wish to tone down the hyperbole a little. The spread of the christian memeplex doesn't make it right or correct. It was the very fortunate happenstance of Constantine and his mother that changed the fortunes of christian woo. And just as Lysenko captured the imagination of the Russian authorities which lead to mass starvation, so too did christianity lead to the obliteration of the believers in Roman pantheism, Greek polytheism, Mithraism and a host of other competitive but understrength and ill-equipped belief systems. The strength of christian theism was underwritten by the troika of public policy strategies, heresy, blasphemy and apostasy, not by the substance of its arguments or its truth claims. And that is now exactly what history and textual and biblical criticism is now exposing for us after centuries of Apologetical obscurantism. I liken the contagion of christian theism not too removed from an unwanted potential H5N1 bird flu epidemic. It is just terribly unfortunate that reasoned people were unable to contain it all those centuries ago. But bit by bit, piece by piece, we are sloughing off the old skin of christian whackery. And it is very exciting to be living at this time as I expect with a little optimism to observe the slide of christian theism, if not into relative obscurity, then to an inconsequential rump of the community living at the margins of society.

It is interesting to note though, the very cradle of christianity, around the eastern end of the Mediterranean, [Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco], the birthplace of christianity, once festooned with christians, now no longer attests to the factual 'truth' claims of christianity. Just as christian theism whupped Mithraism and the Roman and Greek and Egyptian gods in an earlier time, so too did Islam come along 600 years later and kick christian butt so red that one is hard-pressed to find but a handful of christians anywhere in the vicinity. Look what's happening in Europe, and more interestingly in the US.

"Atheism, you concede, is an achievement -- perhaps, you would say, the ultimate achievement. "

Not at all, Eric. There is no 'ultimate' in atheism; just hard work and mental discipline to override our primitive predisposition to imagine agency where there patently is none. I am afflicted pretty much as you are with this same primordial characteristic. What I do not allow myself, though, is to be slavishly driven by this unguided and unlearned predilection. "Ultimate achievement' or 'ultimate failure', or more correctly, the prescriptive 'ultimate' is a purely religious construct, a thoroughly religious concept, fitting hand-in-glove with christian theism's other ultimates, the ultimate creator, the ultimate designer, ultimate reality, ultimate truth, and ultimate source. This form of hyperbole solely resides within the christian mindset.

CONT.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

CONT.
I temper my explanation with due diligence and reasoned reserve. Perhaps you missed it. I reiterate, naturalism as the best and most efficacious explanatory tool we currently have. Note again, we currently have.
I am open to the possibility of a better explanatory tool coming along in the future. But in terms of comparison between theological explanation and scientific explanation, there is no contest. There hasn't been for a couple centuries now.
American theologist, poet and University of Connecticut professor, and author of "From the Ashes of Christianity: A post-Christian View (1968), Mary Jean Irion encapsulates the prevailing trend:

"Christianity .... has been over for a hundred years now .... When something even so small as a lightbulb goes out, the eyes for a moment still see it; and a sound after it is made will have, in the right places, an echo. So it is not at all strange that when something so huge as a world religion goes out, there remains for a century or more in certain places some notion that it is still there."

Indeed, it might flare up just before the end.

Papalinton said...

Off topic, but here is another little bit of institutional catholic skulduggery in India:

http://www.rationalistinternational.net/

Sanal Edamaruku is India's James Randi, religious mythbuster extraordinaire.

Police in Sanal’s house to arrest him
4 July 2012.This morning, officers of the Delhi Police reached Sanal Edamaruku’s house to arrest him. They came upon directions of a Delhi court to execute an arrest warrant issued by a Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrate Court (second highest Criminal Court). If Sanal had been at home, he would be in jail now....The officers were informed that Sanal is presently out of Delhi and traveling. They insisted on details of his whereabouts, addresses and contact numbers. Some hours later, they came again to press for information, to no avail.
What will happen next?
With this dramatic turn of events, Sanal Edamaruku’s persecution has reached a dangerous new level. Exposing the “miracle” of the water-dripping crucifix at the Velankanni church in Mumbai as a plumber’s problem, he incurred Catholic fury beyond all trademark forgiveness. Highly alarming is the fact that the Catholic side has managed to secure considerable support from Indian government agencies. The Catholic Church is representing only a small minority of believers in India. But it is backed by a powerful worldwide apparatus, driven by great ambitions to conquer India and make up for its losses in the western world. I don’t want the Dark Ages to come to India! Sanal says in the controversial TV program, drawing the battle lines
In the ongoing conflict, Sanal has the evidence-based factual truth on his side - regarding capillary action as well as regarding church history. Moreover, he enjoys the full support of the Indian Constitution that explicitly obliges all citizens to develop “scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”. And then, of course, there is the right to Freedom of Expression (Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.) on his side of the balance tray.
The revengeful local Catholic leaders, on the other side, have the tacit support of another heavy weight: the powerful Catholic Church. The Pope is keeping mum, ignoring thousands of contemporaries from various parts of the world who are calling upon the Vatican via an Online Petition of the Rationalist Association (UK) to take a stand in this case. But his Mumbai representative, Bishop Agnelo Gracias (whom Sanal encountered in the TV-9 program), does all the talking. Unstinting in his public praise for Sanal’s prosecutors, Gracias “rejoices” about their courage!
It is obvious that the Catholic Church is trying to pull the strings to silence its most vocal and courageous opponent in India. If there is one person who could cross their ambitious plans, it is Sanal Edamaruku. So there is much at stake, for both sides. How far will they be able to go? That cannot be foreseen. We have to be prepared for the worst.

Eric said...

"You might wish to tone down the hyperbole a little. The spread of the christian memeplex doesn't make it right or correct."

First, what hyperbole? Are there two billion Christians in the world today? Did Christianity begin in the way I suggested? Where's the hyperbole, Pap?

Second, note that immediately after you mistakenly accuse me of hyperbole, you set up a strawman. I didn't refer to the number of Christians worldwide, across cultures, and through time to defend the claim that Christianity is true, but to show how absurd your claims about defenses of the Christian faith having no effect on anyone except Christians. Please, do try to keep the arguments straight, ok? You're representing the rational folks, aren't you? Well, then, following a simple line of reasoning shouldn't be too difficult for you.



"The strength of christian theism was underwritten by the troika of public policy strategies, heresy, blasphemy and apostasy, not by the substance of its arguments or its truth claims."

Which, of course, is why we find careful argumentation in the works of Christians from Justin Martyr to Athanasius to Augustine to Anselm to Aquinas to -- you get the idea. This is not to deny the many immoral acts of the Church and its members from its founding to today, of course, but it is to nuance your rather naive and simplistic characterization of the spread of Christianity. Christianity, like atheism, has been spread at times both by argument and by force.

"I reiterate, naturalism as the best and most efficacious explanatory tool we currently have. Note again, we currently have."

Naturalism isn't an explanatory tool; it's a metaphysical position on the ultimate nature of things. (I'm assuming, of course, that you're referring to naturalism as such here, and not to methodological naturalism.)

Science 'works' just as well on a host of metaphysical positions, for our experience of the world is consistent with a host of metaphysical positions. This is why philosophy is so important -- science simply cannot adjudicate these disputes (though it can, of course, inform them). You may mistakenly think that modern science confirms naturalism, but I sincerely doubt that you could provide a non-question begging defense of that position. If anything, modern science, which consistently reveals a deep mathematical structure at the heart of things, and which describes those things in the language of mathematics (which is then explained to laymen like you and me in the form of imperfect images and 'stories'), points towards a theistic worldview, not a naturalistic one. Hence, the intelligibility of the universe, which is a necessary condition of all scientific inquiry, is better explained by theism, not by naturalism.

Martin said...

Papalinton,

And that is all that metaphysics is; ideas.

Of course you realize that this is ITSELF a metaphysical statement, and hence "just an idea". So you should not believe it.

BenYachov said...

Paps,

There are bogus reports of miracles all the time. The Vatican has libraries full of exposed fraud. My favorite was some Irish arsehole who would bite his lip and accurately spit his own blood on a crusifix. It was the Vatican investigators who unearth that nonsense.

Edamaruku is a Richard Dawkins wannabe who is using this un-approved "miracle" to attack the Church. In India there is no freedom of religion. Just as Edamaruku can be prosecuted for attacking the Church a Catholic who convinces a Hindu to convert to Christianity can & have been arrested.

So he is full of shit that this is all the Vatican's fault.

HyperEntity111 said...

I can't believe this. After we all agreed to ignore Paps we still end up debating him. Why? Do you think you'll convince him? Do you think he's raising serious or original points? Do you think you can change him? Suppose someone claims that Earth is flat because Richard Dawkins told him so. Suppose that this person is corrected hundreds of times but still continues to argue that this is an adequate justification for believing that Earth is flat. Would you still debate this person? Or would you assume that he was deeply damaged and ignore him? This is precisely the situation we find ourselves in with Paps. He is the intellectual equivalent of a flat earther and he is clearly damaged beyond repair. Why on earth are you still debating him?

Eric said...

"I can't believe this. After we all agreed to ignore Paps we still end up debating him. Why?"

Sorry, folks -- I wasn't aware of that agreement. I won't clutter up the site with responses to Paps any more if it's bad form to do so around here.

By the way, and off topic, has anyone listened to Victor's interview on Apologetics 315 on the Argument from Reason? If not, I highly recommend it -- it's one of the best interviews in that series, in my judgment.

Crude said...

Why on earth are you still debating him?

Probably because he has a tremendous amount of time on his hands and desperately, very desperately, needs attention - so he throws out bait after bait, and people have trouble leaving the bait alone.

Leave it be, folks. If he throws something out, skip past his post. If someone else who can actually think starts a conversation, devote your time there.

Blogger would do well to add a upvote/downvote system. I think Beretta Blog has this, and guys like paps are never seen, while skeptics who can actually think are greenlighted.

Anyway, back to ignoring the desperate lil' monkey. ;)

Horapollo Aesymnetes said...

Dualism fails on a far more fundamental level: non-material things can't affect material ones. It's causal nonsense. If a 'soul' existed it would have to be, as Aristotle and the Stoics believed, made up of /stuff/ or it wouldn't exist at all. Supernaturalism and idealism, in their most literal sense, are nonsensical.

The same general problem applies to God (one of many in His case). God is, by definition, not real. A 'real' God would be like Zeus or Superman, which would make him useless for theological wankers and apologists who want magical solutions to problems they made up.