Friday, April 12, 2013

Atheism's cyanide pill

We have seen the argument that atheism must be true, because it's the wave of the future? But is it? Apparently atheists don't reproduce at the rate of religious believers, so the future belongs to...well, not the atheists.

170 comments:

LadyAtheist said...

But... 100% of babies born to believers are atheists!

Dr. Evangelicus said...

No they're not.

Victor Reppert said...

If you are going to claim all the babies because they lack a belief in God, then I suppose you can have my cats, too. But, so much for atheists being brighter than the rest of us.

Ephram said...

100% of babies are also born ignorant. Do you suggest they remain that way?

Martin said...

And rocks. Rocks are atheists as well.

Papalinton said...

Ephram
"100% of babies are also born ignorant. Do you suggest they remain that way?"

And later they go to Sunday School and even then remain ever ignorant. :o)

It is rather ironic to read Dr Reppert's justification for religion seems now to be predicated on the 'populate or perish' incantation. Whether atheism dies out or not is of no concern to me. It stands or falls on its merits. And while atheists per capita do not breed as rabbits, atheism is nonetheless growing rapidly, if polls and surveys over the last couple decades are correct. It is the factuality of atheism, being concerned with what is actually the case rather than interpretations of or reactions to it, that gives it its enormous explanatory power. The great advances in medicine, food production, behavioural sciences, social and community development, transportation, communications technology etc etc have all been a consequence of applying the principles of methodological naturalism authenticated through the substantive nature inherent in the metaphysical naturalist paradigm.

Papalinton said...

"And rocks. Rocks are atheists as well."

No. No. Not all rocks. Only the stationary rocks. Rocks flying down the hill, or in motion from being thrown, are theists filled with teleology or more particularly, teleological intentionality. ;o)

im-skeptical said...

From Loftus' blog:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/religion/article/56789-atheists-the-next-generation-unbelief-moves-further-into-the-mainstream.html

Heuristics said...

Are children natural atheists or theists?

"Separate bodies of research suggest that young children have a broad tendency to reason about natural phenomena in terms of purpose and an orientation toward intention-based accounts of the origins of natural entities."

http://www.scipie.net/docs/2007/Kelemen_PS_2004.pdf


" Human beings have natural tendencies to believe in God and life after death, according to a three-year international research project directed by two academics at the University of Oxford."

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/its-natural-to-believe-in-god-oxford-study/152066-19.html

Victor Reppert said...

No, what I was arguing is that IF you are going to argue that atheism must be regarded as true because it is the wave of the future, in other words, if you are going to use the "we are winning" argument, then you are going to have to face up to some untoward consequences with respect to rates of reproduction.

These are bad arguments to begin with, but they do backfire on you if you use them.

Papalinton said...

Backfire? I don't think so Victor.
I think the tenor of the comments on the article you cite is about right to the proposition atheism/secularism is breeding itself out of existence. Not going to happen.

[H/T John Loftus] DC has just posted a LINK to the Publishers Weekly, about the longer term trends in atheism/seularism and the consolidation of atheism into the mainstream.

Indeed, following the 'shock and awe' ;o) of the New Atheists into the marketplace of ideas, atheism is now steadying down as a genuine and compelling and growing paradigm within the community. People are increasingly becoming comfortable with open declaration of their godlessness. It is now a largely respectable position to hold in a continuing sea of openly hostile religiosity. Atheism is here to stay, and the protuberance of religion in its various manifestations is in remission, with the swelling subsiding significantly.

Papalinton said...

im-skeptical
Apologies. I didn't twig to your placing the same article from DC earlier.

Interesting source, though.

im-skeptical said...

Victor's article is actually comical. Abortion is killing atheists. Right. What this guy doesn't seem to realize is that what produces atheists more than anything else is knowledge. And that's something that is becoming more widespread.

Papalinton said...

Heuristics
"... young children have a broad tendency to reason about natural phenomena in terms of purpose and an orientation toward intention-based accounts of the origins of natural entities."

We've known that for yonks. It is the why or for what reason that predisposition occurs.

And there has been much tremendous research into it. It is much acknowledged that intention-based accounts is primarily a function of evolutionary survival. What the research is also informing, is the attribution of intentionality to things in the world and environment is principally due to the use of the only referent we have available to us in our early years, our own inherent realization and understanding of our consciousness and our own intentions, and we relate and project those to other things. Our brain is a thoroughbred agency-detection device, even detecting agency where there is none. When ancient man saw a rustle in the bush, he automatically generated a false-positive response. Is the rustle cause by the wind or a predator? Better to run and survive and have more kids rather than be curious and become a meal. As children we know that we need something rather sharp or acute to scratch an itch, not something round or flummery. Therefore to children rocks are intentionally sharp so that animals can rub against them to scratch an itch. For the child, to attribute to entities actions or intentions to that which they do is a natural evolutionary consequence of conscious self-awareness.

But to attribute a god, and the supernatural, is the adult edition of the continuation of juvenile-derived intentionality, and projects beyond the basic orientation of child intention-based accounts. Religious belief is an emergent cultural artifice, a secondary function of the primary survival use of the genetic basis of intentionality. And religiosity remains an expression of the survival function. With no clear and present danger of being eaten by a lion on the savannah anymore, or being killed by a marauding neighbour tribe, that immediate existential threat is now no longer the primary motivation for this genetic survival mechanism. The gradual evolving into larger groups [into cities and regions and nation states], the advent of farming and animal husbandry removing the inherent dangers of earlier food gathering practices in the wild etc etc, has resulted in religiosity transposing those survival mechanisms to a different form of survivalism; that of the 'soul' and the cheating of death through resurrection and accession to heaven; a very comforting thought to be sure, but a false one nevertheless [another false-positive reading]. It is no longer the fear of being a tiger's meal or being trampled by a mammoth that is of concern, it is the great anxiety of the realization of our own mortality, our own rather tenuous grip on life, that perpetuates the caring, maintaining and sustaining father god myths of today. We realize we are all going to die. Nothing more than a brute fact. How does one overcome the inevitability of one's own death one's own non-existence? How do we survive this brute fact? By imagining we can live forever/eternally, with our families past and future, our friends, indeed even with Jesus.

And to round out, all the research into these intention-based accounts in children you refer to show no correlation at all let alone a sniff of any god-based element in the equation. The false-positive reading of religion allows us to run away from the curiosity of our own final and inevitable demise by reading in scripture how one can survive immanent death, indeed cheat death by believing in the supernatural, for another day in the comfort of our own home or church.

Doesn't make it a fact, though.

Papalinton said...

Corrigendum
"We've known that for yonks. It is the why or for what reason that predisposition occurs."

should read:

""We've known that for yonks. It is the why or for what reason that predisposition occurs that is important."

cautiouslycurious said...

This is the same type of reasoning that makes someone say that if you put gay people in a pen, then gay people will die out, completely missing the point that gay people come primarily from heterosexuals and not from their own reproduction.

Graph: http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/MichaelBellInternetMonkChart.gif

Report: http://www.pewforum.org/newassets/images/reports/flux/fullreport.pdf

Looking at the graph, it's clear that the majority of the non-religious grew up in a religious household (with a good chunk being Catholics). Only %21 of those who were currently non-religious grew up in a non-religious household. So, breed away; it's not like the non-religious suddenly decreased their birthrate and it hasn't stopped the growth of the non-religious, so to say that's going to stop it now is simply silly and points out the flaw in statements such as "Apparently atheists don't reproduce at the rate of religious believers, so the future belongs to...well, not the atheists." Sorry for butting into your fun speculation with facts to the contrary.

Heuristics said...

cautiouslycurious:

The argument was not limited to religiosity vs non-religiosity, it was also about degree of religiosity or coinservatism. The claim is that fewer atheists come from families of high religious conservatism and that higher birthrate correlates with higher religious conservatism. Lower religious conservatism and also atheism correlates with lower birthrate.

TheWedge said...

If atheism is indeed the "base" state for human beings, doesn't that mean that atheism is the most rejected notion in human history (given that the vast, vast majority of people apparently then abandon atheism to become some form of theist)?

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

>What this guy doesn't seem to realize is that what produces atheists more than anything else is knowledge.

I don't think this is the case at all. I was perusing articles about atheism on infidels.org, trying to find out why people didn't believe, for example, the cosmological argument is successful. I found tons of gems like this introduction to cosmological arguments. It's strange to watch someone make such mincemeat of Aquinas' argument, while then patting themselves on the back about how "knowledgeable" they are.

If you can't tell why this is a strawman of Aquinas, then you are not knowledgeable at all, but rather, quite unaware.

cautiouslycurious said...

Heuristics,
How is he measuring conservatism? Is it by church attendance? If so, then the majority (74%) of Catholic to non-religious transitions was from weekly church goers when they were children. By strength of belief (which doesn’t make much sense because we’re talking about all children of Catholics and not just those who become devoted Catholics)? If so, nearly one third (30%) considered themselves to have had a strong faith.

Then you have data showing that people are leaving because the Catholic stances are too conservative: “Majorities of former Catholics who are now unaffiliated also cite having stopped believing in Catholicism’s teachings overall (65%) or dissatisfaction with Catholic teachings about abortion and homosexuality (56%), and almost half (48%) cite dissatisfaction with church teachings about birth control, as reasons for leaving Catholicism.”

By the way, nearly all (95%) of the people who left because of abortion said that the Catholic stance was too conservative, and that’s almost half of those who left. Then factor in their stance on birth control and homosexuality and ask yourself if the Catholic is not too conservative on those issues as well. People are leaving Catholicism in large numbers because it’s already too conservative; do you really think that going more extreme is going to help retention rates?

I doubt many would paint the Amish as being particularly hypocritical and judgmental people, but that’s exactly how those who left Catholicism view Catholics and that’s another common reason for leaving: “Additionally, many people who left a religion to become unaffiliated say they did so in part because they think of religious people as hypocritical or judgmental, because religious organizations focus too much on rules or because religious leaders are too focused on power and money.” That’s 74% for hypocritical/judgmental (55% cite it as an important reason for leaving) and 73% for too focused on rules (46% for important).

Not to mention the third (32%, 23% for important) that leave Catholicism citing “modern science proves religion a superstition” as a reason. I doubt that the Amish know a lot, if any, science compared to the average Catholic who has gone through the public school system. Who knows, perhaps the author wants Catholics to restrict educating their children to the first eight years, giving them just enough information to function in an Amish community? Is that the kind of conservatism he is referring to?

The author is wishfully thinking that Catholicism’s retention rate is going to mirror the Amish as it’s not backed up by the evidence and there are many reasons to doubt it. Regardless, it’s an argument that is contrary to fact. The factors he describes would have predicted that the nonreligious wouldn’t have grown, but that’s not what we observed (not to mention what we see in Europe). As such, we can tell that there are other factors in play (particularly that the Catholics stances on issues are too conservative making people leave the religion in sufficiently large numbers) that make his conclusion invalid, so it’s a reason why we shouldn’t take him seriously in the first place.

Samwell Barnes said...

I'd say the internet has greatly encouraged "atheism" (quotes, because most people bastardize the word, or have bought into one of several bastardized meanings). By bombarding people ceaselessly with innumerable fragments of information, the internet promotes breadth at the expense of depth, in short flirting around the surface of a subject instead of really delving into it. Distracted, scattered thinking at the expense of calm reflection. A juggler's brain as opposed to a philosopher's brain.

It's not surprising when you consider that the tools we use (particularly intellectual tools like books and the internet) eventually shape the way we think.


A calm, reflective, philosophically-competent civilization that digests books is not going to have an atheist majority, let alone a Gnu atheist majority.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

I agree that the article you cite doesn't present Aquinas' argument accurately, but I also understand that there are many versions or variants of the argument, and they have all been addressed with counter-arguments. That doesn't change the validity of my point. People have greater access to information than ever before, and that correlates to a move away from theism.

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die."

What was he afraid of?

B. Prokop said...

im-skeptical,

The Lord God was not afraid of anything. You've read the passage that you quoted with an utter and complete lack of understanding.

Good and evil are known to God as contingent reality, i.e., God does not have to experience a thing to know fully what could have been. Man, however, is a creature capable of knowing a thing only be experience. He can know evil only by its actual occurrence.

The passage is a (quite truthful) warning that, for Man to know good and evil, he must of necessity suffer its consequences, which is death. "For in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die."

im-skeptical said...

"Man, however, is a creature capable of knowing a thing only be experience."

That is an argument for empiricism. How does that square with everything I keep hearing about how reason is the way to true understanding?

B. Prokop said...

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to improve my wording! I should have written, "Man, however, is a creature capable of knowing contingent reality only by experience, i.e., when it is actually part of or within creation. God, being a necessary reality, may be known to Man through revelation or by reason."

Much better.

im-skeptical said...

"God, being a necessary reality, may be known to Man through revelation or by reason."

Whew!! For a minute I thought I might have to give up my superstitions and just go with what is observable. But seriously, what we observe is that the more people learn, the more they tend to reject religion. The internet has an important role to play in exposing people all over the world to knowledge of things they would have never seen or heard in times past.

B. Prokop said...

In your dreams!

ingx24 said...

I dunno, the more I learn on the Internet, the more likely theism seems to me. The arguments for God's existence are a lot more powerful than I had previously thought.

im-skeptical said...

"The arguments for God's existence are a lot more powerful than I had previously thought."

What did you learn that brought you to that conclusion?

im-skeptical said...

"In your dreams!"

What I'm talking about is exposure to ideas and factual information that are contrary to religious dogma. The more dogmatic your religious beliefs, the more likely you are to lose that faith when you leave the closed bubble of your religious upbringing, I think. That's why so many fundamentalists in particular want to protect their children from exposure to the outside world.

ingx24 said...

im-skeptical,

I learned what the arguments actually were instead of the crude strawmen set up by the likes of Dawkins.

im-skeptical said...

So are you saying you're a theist now?

ingx24 said...

I'm still agnostic - I was never an atheist. I just think that the case for theism is stronger than I had originally suspected, is all.

Martin said...

I agree with you ingx24. The case for theism is considerably stronger than I used to think, and the case for naturalism is considerably weaker than I used to think. I attribute my earlier opinion (that theistic arguments are obvious failures) to the atheist echo chamber I was living in at the time.

Papalinton said...

"I agree with you ingx24. The case for theism is considerably stronger than I used to think, and the case for naturalism is considerably weaker than I used to think. I attribute my earlier opinion (that theistic arguments are obvious failures) to the atheist echo chamber I was living in at the time."

;o)
:o)
;oD

im-skeptical said...

;oD - made my day!

Papalinton said...

ingX24
"I'm still agnostic - I was never an atheist. I just think that the case for theism is stronger than I had originally suspected, is all."

No, you're not. An agnostic is a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena.

You position is that of an equivocator. Agnosticism is not a transitory half-way house between atheism and theism. Agnosticism is a philosophical position that maintains that whatever the evidence 'nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena', period.

Your disdain of materialism clearly places you in the theist camp, albeit a Doubting Thomas.

Sheesh!

Papalinton said...

;oD - made my day.

:oD
;oD

ingx24 said...

Your disdain of materialism clearly places you in the theist camp, albeit a Doubting Thomas.

How many FUCKING times do I have to emphasize that MATERIALISM IS NOT THE SAME AS ATHEISM AND DUALISM IS NOT THE SAME AS THEISM before you get it through your FUCKING THICK, DENSE SKULL? You cannot see anything outside of the false dichotomy of crude scientistic materialism and religious fundamentalism.

Also, nice job copying and pasting your definition of "agnostic" directly from Google. I think it should have been painfully, painfully obvious that I was referring to agnosticism specifically on the question of God. But then again, you're stuck in your black-and-white world where everyone is either a materialist or a religious fundamentalist, aren't you?

Fucking idiot.

Martin said...

I'm-skeptical

"When you have no basis for argument, abuse the plaintiff. "

- Cicero

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

Who do you think I am abusing?

Papalinton said...

C'mon ingX24, please don't blow your head off on my account. You have a very strange notion of atheism and of materialism. Nobody was saying they are the same apart from your addled brain. I was simply pointing out your disdain for materialism is a reasonable indicator that you have no understanding of atheism. Materialism is a central element of philosophy that characterises atheism. Metaphysical Naturalism is in essence materialism writ large. Most if not all Metaphysical Naturalists are atheist. Indeed materialism in its various manifestations are key to the idea of atheism. Some would say, inextricable. But materialism as you understand it is gauche and simplistic. Here is a capture of the word 'materialism':

"Materialism (or physicalism) can signify either a broad metaphysical view, or, more narrowly, a type of theory of mind. Metaphysical materialism is a specific kind of naturalism which contends that everything that exists is either physical or dependent upon the physical. Broadly understood, reductionist materialism maintains that everything is strictly physical; more narrowly, it maintains that the mind (at least) is purely physical. Nonreductive materialism also allows the existence of nonphysical properties that inhere in, or emerge from, a physical substrate. Consequently, it is sometimes called emergent materialism or property dualism. In the broad sense, nonreductive materialism holds that everything is physical or at least dependent upon the physical; and in the narrower sense it holds that the mind can have both physical and nonphysical aspects even though it must be instantiated in a physical system like the brain.

While metaphysical materialism entails a materialist theory of mind, one can be a materialist about the mental without believing that everything is physical (e.g., some theologians are nonreductive materialists about the human mind but believe that God is neither physical nor dependent upon the physical; and some philosophers who think that the mind is purely physical also believe in nonphysical abstract objects)."
HERE

And it is precisely for these reasons, among others, that I am an atheist. I am happy to subscribe to the various camps about the materialist mind, be it physical or an emergent property. And as the mind is what the brain does, there is no evidence of the 'more' you subscribe to. There is no separate mind, thoughts, emotions that float independently of the brain, or are derived from or the property of some supernatural realm or even something that is influenced or manipulated by a [putative] live entity that inhabits a netherworld. Such beliefs are simply teleology and intentionality gone feral. Teleological purpose is the meat and potatoes of theism. To the atheist, this is religious crap.

Whatever theological reference you have drawn your definition of 'materialism' and 'atheism' from seems to be a misconstrual. You need to take your head out of that book on philosophy for a bit and smell the roses.
So, your insane bluster, "How many FUCKING times do I have to emphasize that MATERIALISM IS NOT THE SAME AS ATHEISM AND DUALISM IS NOT THE SAME AS THEISM before you get it through your FUCKING THICK, DENSE SKULL?" is, well, psychotypal bluster.

Martin said...

papalinton,

>And as the mind is what the brain does, there is no evidence of the 'more' you subscribe to.

I've given you evidence multiple times, but you never respond.

If the mind is what the brain does, then the mind is epiphenomenal: it has no causal efficacy. This is because the brain is causing both the mind, and the action. For example. the brain causes the mental event "fear of burglars", and the brain causes your hand to switch the lock. So the "fear of burglars" did not cause you to flip the lock.

This is completely at odds with what we observe, empirically.

Papalinton said...

Martin
What is the source of your evidence? I'm talking about primary sources, not the Plantinga or the Francis Collins variety.

Here is something that will set philosophy and religion to re-assess their positions:

See HERE.

In part it reads:

"Qualia could arise from information processing in local cortical networks"
Roger Orpwood, Centre for Pain Research, Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK

Re-entrant feedback, either within sensory cortex or arising from prefrontal areas, has been strongly linked to the emergence of consciousness, both in theoretical and experimental work. This idea, together with evidence for local micro-consciousness, suggests the generation of qualia could in some way result from local network activity under re-entrant activation."


If qualia is indeed found to be a function of brain activity, there seems little value in arguing the toss over theistic notions of qualia. Aquinas, eat your heart out.

ingx24 said...

Papalinton,

You just don't get it, do you? Even if qualia are generated by brain activity, that does NOT show that they are either IDENTICAL TO or REDUCIBLE TO brain activity. The problem of how qualia arise from brain activity remains as mysterious as ever, still being just a brute correlation with no explanation.

Also: STOP ASSUMING THAT ANY OPPOSITION TO MATERIALISM IS THEOLOGICALLY OR RELIGIOUSLY MOTIVATED. THERE ARE PLENTY OF DUALISTS WHO ARE NOT THEISTS AND VICE VERSA. JUST BECAUSE TWO POSITIONS ARE NORMALLY FOUND TOGETHER DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY ARE NECESSARILY CONNECTED. THIS APPLIES TO MATERIALISM AND ATHEISM TOO.

Martin said...

I never said a word about quails. Nor did I say anything about theism or Aquinas. Ingx24 is right. You are a very black-and-white thinker. Us vs them. If someone doubts materialism, then they must be a theist.

The argument I have given you is from Jaegwon Kim, a materialist. Also, Churchland uses it to argue for his eliminativism: "Suppose a memory, say of singing a wrong note in public, causes me to wince in embarrassment.  The memory presumably causes the wince by being identical with or at least supervening on a neurophysiological state N which (together with background conditions) guarantees the wince by biological law.  But then N and the background conditions alone suffice to cause the wince; the object or content of the memory itself--my having sung the wrong note--plays no role, and is in that sense epiphenomenal."

Of course, Churchland solves it by simply eliminating the mind. But it can be used to argue for dualism as well.

Victor Reppert said...

Bulverism is alive and well on planet earth, sad to say.

Samwell Barnes said...

You just don't get it, do you?

Trolls of his sort - as a matter of principle - never will, and are therefore better off being ignored. Getting frustrated with him is a complete waste of time.

im-skeptical said...

"You just don't get it, do you? Even if qualia are generated by brain activity, that does NOT show that they are either IDENTICAL TO or REDUCIBLE TO brain activity. The problem of how qualia arise from brain activity remains as mysterious as ever, still being just a brute correlation with no explanation."

Might as well not bother trying to explain materialist concepts. To the dualist, any phycicalist notion of mind is inconceivable. No explanation or argument can penetrate the dualist way of thinking. When there is finally a well-established theory of mind (without any immaterial component involved, of course), backed up by sufficient evidence to convince any skeptic, they will still deny that it's even possible. Don't waste your time.

Papalinton said...

"Bulverism is alive and well on planet earth, sad to say."

Yeah. A term drenched with religious whine [wine: get it?] confabulated by Lewis as he witnessed and lamented the turning point in society ushering in the demise of Christianity as the primal social and communitarian activity in the public square. And as we know Lewis was a woo-meister extraordinaire, a person who wore his strong and habitual predilection for premodern classical and Christian traditions in the manner of the pietistic canonicals.

Bulverism is a religious response to modernity. Bulverism is an indiscriminate retaliatory retort to all and any criticism and, more particularly, of those that criticize the beliefs of woo-meisters, who claim to have specialist knowledge and expertise in supernatural superstition and demand to be respected.

Those days are passing.

Type in 'Bulverism' into the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and nothing turns up, not even a smell of Bulverism as an incidental, co-incidental or peripheral philosophical conception comes up. Nothing.

Type in 'Bulverism and theology' into Google and page after page of theology and theological interpretation floods the screen.

The claim of Bulverism is the contemporary Christian euphemism of the old and once revered charge of blasphemy and heresy.


Papalinton said...

Martin
There is little subtlety or nuance in your ability to comprehend or to adjudicate what is the substance of the message in written communication.

The information I offered about qualia, something theists and woo-meisters bang on incessantly about proclaiming it will never be discovered how it arises in conscious thought, is the kind of EXAMPLE of evidence that is of the primary kind that I requested from you. Give me the primary sources of your claim of the non-existence or flawed concept of materialism, research that demonstrates clearly that materialism is a crock. Don't waste my time with the claptrap of a Plantinga or a Feser or a Francis Collins. That is all just theological opinion.

My call to Aquinas, who declared qualia a god-sent rudiment, Is a call to the Feserites that this sort of nonsense is now being rigorously challenged and seriously questioned.

Dan Gillson said...

Papalinton,

As I have been telling you since I started commenting here, your writing sucks. I even took the liberty of proving why, in certain instances, your prose makes absolutely no sense. Therefore, you should at least begin to suspect, (and you won't, because you are objectively stupid) that it's not anyone's problem, much less Martin's, if they can't comprehend your inane writing; it's yours.

Dumb as a fucking ox ... honestly.

Dan Gillson said...

Re: The Strength of Theistic Arguments

Personally, I find the arguments for Theism to be very weak. The only thing that they have in their favor is that they are horribly convoluted, and that therefore it is easy to equivocate with respect to terms and definitions.

That said, I have started making a fine-grained distinction between 'Theism', 'Atheism', and what I consider to be their respective, properly basic dispositions, 'believing in God' or 'not believing in God'. The evidence--to use a fully-loaded term--for the properly basic dispositions can cut either way, as I see it. I see it that way because I follow Sellars in rejecting something in experience that's Given, (I won't rehearse the arguments for that here, I'm just telling you all ideas with which I'm playing), the upshot to that being, the world rationally constrains experience in such a way as to make evidence for the properly basic attitudes ambiguous.

I won't bore you all with the rest. I would appreciate critical responses. (Personal note to Papalinton: don't bother responding. Your input is unappreciated and worthless.)

Martin said...

Paplinton,

>The information I offered about qualia, something theists and woo-meisters bang on incessantly about proclaiming it will never be discovered how it arises in conscious thought, is the kind of EXAMPLE of evidence that is of the primary kind that I requested from you

You said that the mind is caused by the brain. I offered reasons, from two of the most well known materialists, why that won't work. You ignored this point, and continue to ignore it.

As for qualia, the reason there is no physical explanation of qualia is because the early modern philosophers defined matter as being devoid of such properties. Recall the primary and secondary properties of Descarets and Locke: primary properties, such as length, width, velocity, etc, are "really out there", but secondary properties, such as the way red looks, the way sugar tastes, etc are not "really out there", but rather are just in the mind.

So if consciousness has secondary properties, and matter does not, then there can be no material explanation of consciousness.

Not to mention, the disction between primary and secondary properties actually entails dualism, because the mind becomes the town dump where materialists can get rid of all the stuff that doesn't fit how they want the world to be. Properties such as abstract objects, purpose and meaning, and secondary properties (qualia). None of it really exists "out there". It's all "just in our minds". So the mind serves as a convenient town dump to chuck all this stuff, but then ensuring that the town dump itself cannot also be chucked into the town dump.

Thus, dualism results.

ingx24 said...

Martin,

I have issues with the idea that a physical explanation of the mind could work if Aristotelianism were embraced. Final causes may allow for things to be objectively "directed at" certain things, but it doesn't explain how thoughts have content (to illustrate, final causes cannot make the word "cat" objectively refer to cats). Colors, sounds, and the like existing in the external world may explain the specific character of our experiences, but it does not explain why we have any experiences at all. And defining matter so that it can be conscious does not explain why animals and humans are conscious while plants and inorganic matter is not. It still seems as though a separate substance is needed to add mind and consciousness to matter.

I have a lot of respect for the Aristotelian tradition in general, but I think its view on living things and the mind is misguided.

Materialists' removal of anything mind-related from the physical world sure does make a physical explanation for the mind a hell of a lot harder, though. :P

Martin said...

>Materialists' removal of anything mind-related from the physical world sure does make a physical explanation for the mind a hell of a lot harder, though.

And that's my main point. Perhaps final causality cannot explain the mind, but if your worldview completely lacks it, then it makes it almost impossible, if not logically incoherent, to explain it. Typically, minds are explained in terms of computer software, but this is circular if interpreted in the context of a worldview lacking final causes. In such a world, something only counts as a symbol for something else if a mind assigns meaning to that symbol. Therefore the mechanistic view of the mind is circular:

1. Mind is...
2. Software, which is...
3. An algorithm that manipulates...
4. Symbols, which require [go to 1]

Victor Reppert said...

Bulverism is ad hominem circumstantial. Nuff said.

B. Prokop said...

Returning to the original OP for this thread, whether or not one believes atheism to be true, it is nevertheless a verifiable (and, in fact, verified) fact that societal loss of faith leads to a decline in population. Again, whether or not this is a good thing is irrelevant to the fact that it is happening. Birthrates in secularized Europe are plummeting far below replacement rates... other than among, interestingly enough, Islamic immigrants. So the atheist fantasies of a post-religious world in the near future simply ain't gonna happen. The most they can "hope" for is to replace one religion with another. They're worried about lack of acceptance in today's Western World? Just wait until they have to live in an Islamized one!

As Sgt Friday would say, "Just the facts, Ma'am."

im-skeptical said...

"Materialists' removal of anything mind-related from the physical world sure does make a physical explanation for the mind a hell of a lot harder, though."

"And that's my main point. Perhaps final causality cannot explain the mind, but if your worldview completely lacks it, then it makes it almost impossible, if not logically incoherent, to explain it."

Martin, perhaps you should stick to Thomism. You have misrepresented both Jaegwon Kim and Churchland. Kim is no materialist. His more recent positions are a rejection of materialism. Churchland is a materialist, but you claim that his position is an argument for dualism. I think he would disagree with that. Check this:

http://webspace.webring.com/people/nj/jwschmidt/books/eliminativism.html

"Therefore the mechanistic view of the mind is circular:"

A specious little piece of non-logic. Try getting out of your Thomist bubble and understand other views before you dismiss them.

Hal said...

Martin,

I think it mistaken to conceive of the mind as an agent that causes things to happen. We both have minds and so can discuss philosophical issues such as these, but our minds are not making us have this discussion.

By the way, I do agree with you that the conception of the mind as a type of software is wrongheaded.

Hal said...

Ingx24,
"And defining matter so that it can be conscious does not explain why animals and humans are conscious while plants and inorganic matter is not."

What are your views regarding the gap between living substances and non-living substances? Do you think there has to be some sort of 'life' force or entity that interacts with a non-living sustance to make it live?

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

>Kim is no materialist.

Yes he is. He wrote "Physicalism, Or Something Near Enough." He is a bit of a dualist regarding qualia, as far as I know, but he epiphenomenal about it: qualia can't cause anything.

>Churchland is a materialist, but you claim that his position is an argument for dualism.

I did not claim that, and your inability to read what I wrote is very irritating. I wrote: "Of course, Churchland solves it by simply eliminating the mind. But it can be used to argue for dualism as well."

Churchland's argument can be used to support both eliminativism and dualism. If eliminativism can be shown to be incoherent, then dualism remains.

>A specious little piece of non-logic.

Please provide a more specific criticism.

im-skeptical said...

re: Kim

"More recently, he has rejected strict physicalism on the grounds that it is an insufficient basis for resolving the mind-body problem. In particular, he has concluded that the hard problem of consciousness--according to which a detailed and comprehensive neurophysical description of the brain would still not account for the fact of consciousness—is insurmountable in the context of a thoroughgoing physicalism. His arguments against physicalism can be found in his two latest monographs: Mind in a Physical World (1998) and Physicalism, or Something Near Enough (2005). Kim claims "that physicalism will not be able to survive intact and in its entirety."[6] This, according to Kim, is because qualia (the phenomenal or qualitative aspect of mental states) cannot be reduced to physical states or processes. Kim claims that "phenomenal mental properties are not functionally definable and hence functionally irreducible"[7] and "if functional reduction doesn't work for qualia, nothing will"[7] Thus, there is an aspect of the mind that physicalism cannot capture."

re: Churchland

A definition of eliminative materialism: "The view that our common sense psychological framework is false and should be rejected." It is not about "simply eliminating the mind."

"Please provide a more specific criticism."

OK. The mind is not a piece of software, written by some coder. Mind is a function of the brain. Although the configuration of neural connections may be likened to a program, they developed naturally, without any conscious design activity involved. So to say that mind is a bunch of symbols that can only be understood by another mind is absurd.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

I note that you have said nothing about the argument in question. Whether someone named "Jaegwon Kim" is or is not a True Materialist (tm) is irrelevant to the argument in question.

Papalinton said...

Martin
"As for qualia, the reason there is no physical explanation of qualia is because the early modern philosophers defined matter as being devoid of such properties. Recall the primary and secondary properties of Descarets and Locke: primary properties, such as length, width, velocity, etc, are "really out there", but secondary properties, such as the way red looks, the way sugar tastes, etc are not "really out there", but rather are just in the mind."

And all that you say is acknowledged. That contention however is problematic, Martin, in that Cartesian precepts of primary and secondary properties were drawn from the latest and fullest knowledge base of his time. That knowledge base has since exponentially increased in the last couple of centuries to levels they could never have dreamed of. So Cartesian philosophy must be applied with due diligence and with a good deal of caution. To utilize Descartes' classification without regard to the context in which it was expounded [as somewhat immutable fact] exposes the Achilles heel of a few subsets of philosophical thought today, those mostly if not all connected with theology. Dr Reppert may bury his head in the sand and charge it as ad hominem circumstantial, as indeed you most likely will. But it is a fact to be reckoned. All the explanatory tools available today that are built around the burgeoning knowledge base, spearheaded principally through the sciences and related disciplines, are suggesting that the notion of primary and secondary properties as they are applied today are largely superseded by recent evidence. They simply do not fit with the findings of research emerging.

The philosophical history of 'qualia' is one such example. True, under the Cartesian paradigm qualia can only be a secondary. Mindful of the advances in our understanding of today's research, the Cartesian categories are at best uncertain and unquestionably debatable. Much of modern philosophy has set aside historical philosophy going forward mindful of its limitations to explaining recent investigation.

ingx24 said...

lol

Papalinton said...

The gross misconception of supernaturalists that thought, ideas and emotions are separate and distinct from brain activity, is almost palpable [one can almost taste it, another immaterial exclusive god-derived qualia]. It is as if these are the dominion of the homunculus within, an entity [soul?] generating all the thoughts, emotions and ideas, driving the man.
One can trace the history of the homunculus and its impact on religious thought about the soul and the homunculus.

eg from the Miriam-webster dictionary:
Homunculus noun
(plural) -li (-ˌlaɪ)
a miniature man; midget
(in early biological theory) a fully-formed miniature human being existing in a spermatozoon or egg
Former name: homuncule.

Within catholicism the 'soul' [the essence of the being] is put into the egg at conception.

The parallels are striking. Their shared and inextricable pedigree clear. Soul and homunculus derive from the same source of the ineffable, unseen unknowable.

Clearly one can deduce why it is theists fight so hard to separate thoughts, emotions and ideas physically away from the person having them. Without the analogy of an homunculus within, there would be no basis, no good reason by which the proposition of the existence of an ineffable, unseen unknowable god could be entertained.

ingx24 said...

Papalinton,

You are a moron. Just stop talking.

Martin said...

Papalinton,

>That knowledge base has since exponentially increased in the last couple of centuries to levels they could never have dreamed of.

So now "qualia", or secondary properties, have been discovered to be really out there?

No, I'm sorry. They haven't. The same methodology instituted by Descartes and Friends continues today. Secondary properties are still "just in our minds". Purpose and meaning is "just in our minds." Abstract objects are "just in our minds."

The Cartesian Split continues unabated, and paradoxically still entails dualism. Or eliminativism, if you are nuts enough.

Papalinton said...

Hal
"What are your views regarding the gap between living substances and non-living substances? Do you think there has to be some sort of 'life' force or entity that interacts with a non-living sustance to make it live?"

You make an interesting point and a very good question.

What we do know with some pretty good certainty there is organic chemistry and there is inorganic chemistry. The constituents of each are indistinguishable to those on the periodic table. Carbon is carbon, oxygen is oxygen, magnesium is magnesium etc etc. It is the combination of them that determines which is organic and which remain inorganic.

We know:
C + H + O + Na + Ph + etc = live entity.
We as yet don't know how. But we are making progress, even if it is only the beginning. See HEREH and HERE.

The first article in part writes:

"Meanwhile, back on Earth at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, have created synthetic molecules that copy genetic material. The enzyme, tC19Z, that has been synthesised could be an artificial version of one of the first enzymes that ever existed on our planet three billion years ago -- and a clue to how life itself got started. Their goal is to create fully self-replicating RNA molecules in the lab."

The second scientific reference notes the stage at which we currently are:

"Laboratory systems have been devised for the Darwinian evolution of nucleic acid or protein molecules (36–38). These systems use large heterogeneous populations of compounds, each of which is assembled from many subunits. The maximum possible information content of a nucleic acid species of length n is log2(4n), whereas that of a protein species is log2(20n). An evolutionary search of this vast number of possibilities is an open-ended process that can lead to the development of molecules with complex structural and functional properties. However, all of the laboratory evolution systems that have been described do not involve self-replication; replication is instead carried out by polymerase proteins that are not part of the evolving system."

Granted some way to go yet. But the evidence is mounting. It seems the formula:

C + H + O + Na + Ph + etc + God miracle = live entity, isn't looking so sustainable.

Papalinton said...

"Bulverism is ad hominem circumstantial. Nuff said."

Only ever applied by theists to non-theists.

Victor Reppert said...

But surely, God would have the power to bring life into existence if he chose to do so, assuming, of course, that God exists.

Papalinton said...

"But surely, God would have the power to bring life into existence if he chose to do so, assuming, of course, that God exists."

Victor, your comment underscores the immensely problematic nature of theistic philosophy. It has always remained a captive to and been predicated on the conditional, 'if', or 'assumption'. Whatever evidence there is, is evidence of a very different nature and form to that normally acknowledged as prima facie evidence. Even the very best of the circumstantial evidence that can be mustered is in the very bottom percentile of the range, indistinguishable to that of opinion. It is only by the ruse of faith that the purported evidence is enigmatically elevated to imagined respectability. The central tenets of the Christian template, deeply shrouded in history's shadow are factoids that have risen to prominence in battles over innumerable other competing religious belief systems, with which Christianity shares its archetypal genetic material. Factoids are assumptions and opinions, when repeated often enough assume the status of fact.

As the facts of Christianity bump up against the facts from other sources of information and knowledge, of which science is but one, it has been religion that has had to make the change, to compromise its stance. The one-way traffic flow in this relationship could not bring into starker contrast the dissimilarity of fact and factoid.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

"I note that you have said nothing about the argument in question. Whether someone named "Jaegwon Kim" is or is not a True Materialist (tm) is irrelevant to the argument in question."

Kim had made a case for a dualist view of mind. You cite that as evidence that dualism must be true because it was a 'materialist' making the argument (so I'm supposed to buy it the way you believe anything a Thomist like Feser says). That is a fallacy, and I was pointing it out to you.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

>You cite that as evidence that dualism must be true because it was a 'materialist' making the argument

No, I do not say that the argument must be true because a materialist made it. Why are you incapable of reading? Papalinton asked me where the argument was from, and that it must have been from some theist (ad hominem), so I responded to Papalinton.

Where an argument is from has no bearing on its truth value.

I again note that neither you nor Papalinton have given an answer to the argument. Just a lot of wasting of time talking about someone named "Jaegwon Kim" and whether he has the Correct Beliefs (tm) or not.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

"I again note that neither you nor Papalinton have given an answer to the argument."

Which argument are you looking for an answer on? Are you referring to the circular argument of mind? If so, I did respond to that. otherwise, I don't know which argument you mean.

Incidentally, you didn't answer my question to you. Who are you accusing me of being abusive to>

Martin said...

You and Papalinton provided laughs :o rather than rebuttal, which I characterize the same way I do creationists when they high five each other after saying "if humans evolved from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?"

The original argument I gave to Papalinton:

If the mind is what the brain does, then the mind is epiphenomenal: it has no causal efficacy. This is because the brain is causing both the mind, and the action. For example. the brain causes the mental event "fear of burglars", and the brain causes your hand to switch the lock. So the "fear of burglars" did not cause you to flip the lock.

This is completely at odds with what we observe, empirically.

im-skeptical said...

"This is completely at odds with what we observe, empirically."

First, While I believe that thoughts are epiphenomenal in a sense (they don't directly cause action), they certainly feed back into mental processes by virtue of entering into the stream of consciousness and memory. In that sense they can influence subsequent behavior.

Also, What exactly do we observe empirically that is inconsistent with the notion that mind is a function of the brain? We sure as hell don't make any empirical observations that support your immaterial view of mind.

Martin said...

We observe the scientist publishing his work in Nature because he believes it to be good research, he desires to further human knowledge and his own career, etc. We observe in ourselves that we switch the lock because we fear burglars.

The mind is not epiphenomenal.

Hal said...

Martin,

"The mind is not epiphenomenal."

The mind is not an agent. It does not act. Nor can it cause someting to happen.

Kim's argument fails because it is based on a misguided conception of the mind.

Martin said...

Of course the mind can act. What alternative explanation is there for why the scientist published his research in Nature?

Hal said...

Martin,
What alternateve explanation are you looking for?

Seems clear to me that the agent in your example is the scientist. He is the one publising the work. He is the one who has reasons for his actions.

Do yoy conceive of the mind as some sort of internal entity that is causing the scientist to publish his work?

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

Did you ever drive to work and then realize that you don't remember it? The mind operates on auto-pilot and functions quite well without any conscious thought, making decisions and causing your body to do things. Conscious thought is nothing more than an awareness of part of your mental activity. However, it is not strictly epiphenomenal, because that awareness in its own right is another mental activity, that can enter into subsequent mental process. But the important point is that whether you consciously think about it or not, your brain functions and decides what you do.

im-skeptical said...

Incidentally, my use of the word 'mind' may not match exactly with Hal's. I agree with him, but when I say "the mind operates ...", I really mean the functions of the brain. There is no separate entity called 'the mind', but I tend to use the language that most people use when I talk about it.

Martin said...

> He is the one who has reasons for his actions.

So he IS publishing his work because of his desire, belief, etc?

Then the mind is causally efficacious, in contradiction to what you said earlier.

Martin said...

>But the important point is that whether you consciously think about it or not, your brain functions and decides what you do.

OK, good. So then the scientist did not publish in Nature because of his belief that his research is good, and his desire to further human knowledge. Those would be mental causes, and as you agree, mental causes are not efficacious.

So the scientist published in Nature perhaps because gravity pulled his arm one way, and then the negative charges of two electrons pulled his arm the other way.

Can you imagine what he was thinking? "Wow, my brain just published research in Nature! I wonder what it's going to do next? Perhaps it will apply for the doctoral program at Harvard! I guess I'll have to wait and find out!"

im-skeptical said...

"So the scientist published in Nature perhaps because gravity pulled his arm one way"

Here we go with the dualist crap again. A physical brain can have no intention, no 'aboutness', no rationality. Refer to my earlier remark. I said it was a waste of time trying to explain my views to you, and you keep proving it.

Martin said...

>Here we go with the dualist crap again. A physical brain can have no intention, no 'aboutness', no rationality.

I never said anything about dualism. You provided an epiphenomenalist viewpoint: mental events have no efficacy.

Which commits you to the view that the scientist did not publish because of his belief that his research is sound, or his desire to further human knowledge, because BELIEFS and DESIRES are mental events, which you deny have the ability to cause anything.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

I have a suggestion for you. Read what I said. Make a little effort to understand it without imposing your own beliefs on it.

Martin said...

I have read what you said. Which you summarized here: "... the important point is that whether you consciously think about it or not, your brain functions and decides what you do."

You brain performs actions, and your mind is just along for the ride. That is epiphenomenalism.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

I'll be charitable and chalk it up to my own ability to communicate, which is lacking. I attempted to clarify my use of the term mind, and probably failed. What you call mind equates to what I call conscious mental activity. I have used the term 'mind' loosely, and in retrospect it would be better if I only talked about mental activity, which can be conscious or unconscious.

Going back to my earlier explanation, decision-making is done unconsciously. Conscious awareness follows (or can follow). When we are aware of our mental activity, it is a kind of perception, and has a physical impact on the brain in the same way perceptions of sensation do. We can remember and react to those perceptions. Thus, conscious mental activity indirectly affects subsequent unconscious mental activity. But conscious awareness doesn't have to be part of a decision-making process.

When you have a conversation, you don't have to "think about" every word you say. It just happens. That's your brain at work, not your conscious mind. You find yourself listening to your own words. Don't try to tell me you have to consciously decide everything you do, because in most cases, you don't.

Martin said...

But a belief, or desire, or fear, can be unconscious and yet you are still acting on the basis of those beliefs, desires, or fears.

Therefore, beliefs, desires, and fears are causally efficacious. Therefore non-reductive physicalism cannot be true, because non-reductive physicalism says that the brain causes beliefs, desires, and fears, and the brain also causes actions.

So in the case of locking your door because you fear burglars, the fear (whether conscious of it or not) is caused by the brain, and the locking of your door is caused by the brain, so the fear does not cause the locking of the door.

im-skeptical said...

Subnstitute [brain state] for belief, or desire, or fear:

> But a [brain state] can be unconscious and yet you are still acting on the basis of those [brain state]s.

>> True.

> Therefore, [brain state]s are causally efficacious. Therefore non-reductive physicalism cannot be true, because non-reductive physicalism says that the brain causes [brain state]s, and the brain also causes actions.

>> Non sequitur. The brain (along with other inputs) does cause successive brain states, and brain states do cause actions. None of this is inconsistent with non-reductive physicalism.

> So in the case of locking your door because [of a brain state], the [brain state] (whether conscious of it or not) is caused by the brain, and the locking of your door is caused by the brain, so the [brain state] does not cause the locking of the door.

>> False.

Martin said...

>Non sequitur. The brain (along with other inputs) does cause successive brain states, and brain states do cause actions. None of this is inconsistent with non-reductive physicalism.

If brain states cause actions, and brain states cause beliefs, desires, etc, then beliefs, desires, etc do not cause actions. So the mind (beliefs, desires, fears) is epiphenomenal.

See, e.g., from Churchland:

Suppose a memory, say of singing a wrong note in public, causes me to wince in embarrassment. The memory presumably causes the wince by being identical with or at least supervening on a neurophysiological state N which (together with background conditions) guarantees the wince by biological law. But then N and the background conditions alone suffice to cause the wince; the object or content of the memory itself--my having sung the wrong note--plays no role, and is in that sense epiphenomenal.

im-skeptical said...

As far as I can see, what I have said is fully consistent with this statement from Churchland. You are confusing or conflating the physical brain state (memory) with what he calls the object of memory (the thing that is remembered). Memories, beliefs and desires are brain states. The object of the memory doesn't cause anything. The brain state does.

Martin said...

>Memories, beliefs and desires are brain states.

Then you are talking about reductive physicalism, if beliefs, desires, etc are brain states.

And so you can now shift over to the multiple realizability argument as to why that won't work: if belief that P is the firing of P neurons, then anyone such as aliens or A.I. that lacks P neurons cannot, by definition, believe that P.

im-skeptical said...

"Then you are talking about reductive physicalism, if beliefs, desires, etc are brain states."

Correct. I had was confusing non-reductive with reductive. I don't know why I did that. My views are reductivist.

"if belief that P is the firing of P neurons, then anyone such as aliens or A.I. that lacks P neurons cannot, by definition, believe that P"

That's not true. Belief P can be caused by different neural configurations (p, q, ...). It's a safe bet that no two humans who share a belief have exactly the same neural configurations.

Martin said...

>Belief P can be caused by different neural configurations (p, q, ...). It's a safe bet that no two humans who share a belief have exactly the same neural configurations.

Then that is non-reductive physicalism: fears, beliefs, desires etc can be realized by different physical substrates (aliens, robots, different people).

And so you are back to the same problem: the brain realizes beliefs, desires, fears, and the brain causes actions, and so beliefs, desires, fears do not cause actions.

ingx24 said...

Martin,

Are you sure about your characterization of functionalism as being non-reductive? I've always seen it characterized as reductive in most sources (i.e. functionalism means mental states reduce to functional states), with non-reductive physicalism more or less resembling property dualism and/or epiphenomenalism.

im-skeptical said...

What I mean by non-reductive physicalism is this: "Complex structures or concepts can have irreducibly non-physical properties, such as consciousness and will" (as opposed to reductive, where everything does reduce to physical states or properties).

You are using a different definition "fears, beliefs, desires etc can be realized by different physical substrates" that has an entirely different meaning.

I don't see how your definition even relates to physical vs non-physical, so I'm not basing my statements on that.

Martin said...

Reductive physicalism is the view that language referring to mental events (beliefs, desires) can be swapped out with language referring to physical events (firing of C fibers).

Water was reduced in this way, because these two sentences are equivalent:

Bob drank a glass of [water]
Bob drank a glass of [H2O]

So reductive physicalism of the mind seeks to do the same:

Bob is in [pain]
Bob's [C fibers are firing]

But obviously, aliens may have followed a different evolutionary track than humans and may not have C fibers. The same for future A.I. So when the alien or robot tells you he is in pain, you will have to answer "No, you're not". Because pain = C fiber firing and aliens and robots lack C fibers.

The answer is, as im-skeptical-of-everything-but-physicalism unwittingly pointed out, to say that the mental event (beliefs, desires, pain) can be realized by multiple different physical substrates.

So the two statements are not swappable:

Bob is in [pain]
Bob's [C fibers? gamma fibers? silicon circuitry?]

Since we don't know what kind of creature Bob is. The physical system of Bob's brain could be different depending on what he is.

So that is non-reductive, because the language referring to mental events cannot be replaced with language referring to physical events, since the physical events could be different for every species, and species we haven't even encountered yet.

See here for my handy list of physicalist taxonomy.



Martin said...

im-skeptical,

>You are using a different definition "fears, beliefs, desires etc can be realized by different physical substrates" that has an entirely different meaning.

That is THE definition of non-reductive physicalism, straight out of my textbook. If you insist on something different,then you are living in a fantasy world of your own creation and I'll have to refer you over to pigeon chess.

im-skeptical said...

"But obviously, aliens may have followed a different evolutionary track than humans and may not have C fibers. The same for future A.I. So when the alien or robot tells you he is in pain, you will have to answer "No, you're not". Because pain = C fiber firing and aliens and robots lack C fibers."

This is absurd. If you want to define things in these terms, then I'd say this:

OK, fine. Pain for me is my own private version of the experience of pain, and it is equivalent to a particular physical neural state P1 that only I can have. An alien creature can also experience pain, but it is his own private experience of pain, caused by his own particular neural state P2. So big deal. We still both experience pain.

You are using this definition to make an argument that is false, and anyone can see that by taking a careful look at it.

Martin said...

>Pain for me is my own private version of the experience of pain, and it is equivalent to a particular physical neural state P1 that only I can have. An alien creature can also experience pain, but it is his own private experience of pain, caused by his own particular neural state P2. So big deal. We still both experience pain.

That is non-reductive, then, because you cannot swap the word "pain" with "C fibers", because the underlying physical substrate is different in every case.

>You are using this definition to make an argument that is false, and anyone can see that by taking a careful look at it.

It is THE definition, in multiple textbooks I have at home, on philosophy of mind, and in every academic paper I've ever read on the subject. Again, if you don't agree, then you might as well go on a chemistry forum and insist that hydrogen is a noble gas, and waste their time forever trying to argue with them about it.

im-skeptical said...

"That is non-reductive, then, because you cannot swap the word "pain" with "C fibers""

I just got done explaining how you can swap them. The key is that my experience of pain is not identical to the experience of someone else, but they're both still an experience of pain. So do all the swapping you like.

Martin said...

>The key is that my experience of pain is not identical to the experience of someone else, but they're both still an experience of pain.

I just got done showing you how you can't swap them:

im-skeptical is [in pain]
im-skeptical has [gamma fiber firing] if an alien
im-skeptical has [silicon firing] if a robot

And so on. The physical substrate could be different in each case. So we can't swap out the word "pain" for a particular physical event.

im-skeptical said...

"So we can't swap out the word "pain" for a particular physical event."

That's not what I said. Listen now, and I'll try to make it clear. You can swap my pain for my neural state. You can swap the alien's pain for the alien's neural state. etc. I'm not equivocating between different individual's private experience of pain, but you are.

Papalinton said...

This has been an interesting conversation between i-m and Martin.

And an observable pattern has emerged in the form of argument I-m is being subjected to. I have dubbed it, 'death by definition'.

Martin's penchant for definitionalism [for want of a word] is clear, lurching from definitional stance to definitional stance as the argument proceeds. It is as if definitionalism embodies some form of 'espiritus sanctus' which one can invoke by repeated incantation of these magical words. To wit:

. "We observe the scientist publishing his work in Nature because he believes it to be good research, he desires to further human knowledge and his own career, etc. We observe in ourselves that we switch the lock because we fear burglars. The mind is not epiphenomenal."

. "You brain performs actions, and your mind is just along for the ride. That is epiphenomenalism."

. "Therefore, beliefs, desires, and fears are causally efficacious. Therefore non-reductive physicalism cannot be true, because non-reductive physicalism says that the brain causes beliefs, desires, and fears, and the brain also causes actions."

. "If brain states cause actions, and brain states cause beliefs, desires, etc, then beliefs, desires, etc do not cause actions. So the mind (beliefs, desires, fears) is epiphenomenal."

. "Then that is non-reductive physicalism: fears, beliefs, desires etc can be realized by different physical substrates (aliens, robots, different people)."

In the mix Martin has advanced no argument in counter to im-skeptical's reasoned responses and challenges.

Martin said...

>In the mix Martin has advanced no argument in counter to im-skeptical's reasoned responses and challenges.

LOL!

Im-skeptica-of-everything-but-physicalism has not offered an argument at all! That's hilarious! It's a prime example of pigeon chess! He craps all over the board and flies home to declare victory.

:o
:o
:o
:o

All he's done is switch back and forth between reductive physicalism and non-reductive physicalism, dancing back and forth as needed to avoid any of the implications.

There hasn't been any argument at all because I've been trying to teach him grade-school level (if they taught philosophy in grade school, which they don't, which is part of the problem) philosophy of mind. Like trying to teach someone basic arithmetic so they can see why their objections to algebra don't even make sense!

That's a good one, papsy!

im-skeptical said...

Papalinton, you beat me to the punch. I have made a similar complaint before. This seems to be favorite tactic of theirs. One common characteristic of theistic arguments seems to be that they use obscure language and definitions to make a case that would never fly if they tried to say it in plain straight-forward language.

Martin said...

im-skeptical-of-everything-but-physicalism,

>One common characteristic of theistic arguments seems to be that they use obscure language

LOL!

Did you seriously just say that?!

You've been dancing back and forth for 50 comments now, between reduction and non-reduction! That's hilarious that you would accuse ME of doing that! Oh, damn. I need to catch my breath from laughing! Seriously. That is some funny damn projection you are doing, there.

Reduction has the problem of multiple realizability.

Non-reduction has the problem of collapsing into epiphenomenalism.

You are trying to escape by dancing back and forth between the two, having one, and then the other, at the same time.

You yourself admitted above that you can't communicate very well (the understatement of the millenium!), and you are equivocating all over the place.

"What's that? Non-reductive physicalism collapses into epiphenomanlism? Well, I'm a reductionist. What's that? Reduction falls prey to multiple realizabilty? Well, I'm a non-reductionist!"



Martin said...

Here, I'll lay it out and then y'all can decide which premise is false:

1. Mental events cause actions
2. Brain events cause actions
3. Mental events and brain events are distinct
4. An action does not have more than one cause

If you reject 3, then you are saying that the mental and brain events are identical, and thus you will have to contend with multiple realizability.

If you reject 1, then you will have to say that mental events (beliefs and desires and fears, etc) never cause anything.

If you reject 4, then you will have to say that an action is caused by two distinct events at the same time.

Non-reductive physicalists will, of course, reject 4, and have to be committed to saying that an action has two distinct causes. And therein lies the heart of the argument. If actions have two distinct causes, but mental events are realized by (or supervene on) physical events, then mental events are not efficacious.

Good luck.

im-skeptical said...

"You've been dancing back and forth for 50 comments now, between reduction and non-reduction!"

No. I have never argued for anything other than what I believe, which is reductive physicalism.

However, at 2:30, I said "None of this is inconsistent with non-reductive physicalism." when I should have said "None of this is inconsistent with my reductive physicalism."

On reviewing the remarks that led up to it, I realize that you switched the argument to non-reductive for no reason. I guess that threw me off for a moment.

After that, I did not make that mistake again, but YOU are the one who keeps jumping back and forth. Don't blame me for that.

"Reduction has the problem of multiple realizability."

Only when you use your obscure way of describing it. I showed that the problem doesn't exist. What is your answer to that?

"Non-reduction has the problem of collapsing into epiphenomenalism."

I don't care, because that's not my position, and I never said it was. Quit changing the subject.

Which premise is false? 3 and 4 are both false. And I already broke your multiple realizability argument. I don't know what 4 has to do with this topic, but there are always multiple causes for everything that happens, as I have argued in the past.

Martin said...

You answered multiple realizability by switching to non-reductive physicalism, when you said this: "Belief P can be caused by different neural configurations (p, q, ...). It's a safe bet that no two humans who share a belief have exactly the same neural configurations."

That is precisely non-reductive physicalism. More precisely, it sounds like Davidson's anomalous monism.

ingx24 said...

Martin,

I think I might be understanding what im-skeptical is saying. I think he's trying to say that his experience of pain is not the same as an alien's experience of pain - the only similarity being the resulting behavior and the word used to name it. I think Jaegwon Kim may have made a similar argument against multiple realizability at one point (don't quote me on that though). Either way, identity theory has way more problems than multiple realizability - there's also the obvious (as in, so obvious a 3rd grader could point it out) difference between electrochemical reactions and consciously experienced mental states.

Hal said...

Martin,
"So he IS publishing his work because of his desire, belief, etc?

Then the mind is causally efficacious, in contradiction to what you said earlier."

You seem to be assuming that the mind is some sort of internal entity that is causing the scientist's behavior.

I don't share that assumption.



im-skeptical said...

"there's also the obvious (as in, so obvious a 3rd grader could point it out) difference between electrochemical reactions and consciously experienced mental states."

That's like saying there's a difference between the act of walking and the locomotion of the legs that are doing the walking. So what?

Papalinton said...

To Martin, the mind is the homunculus that resides in the brain. The homunculus, that separate miniature fully-formed human that squats inside one's brain and does all the thinking, expresses all the emotions and generates all the ideas inside the physicalist external meat machine we call man/woman.

This is the outcome of decades of imbibing the nectar of supernatural superstition.

im-skeptical said...

"To Martin, the mind is the homunculus that resides in the brain." The thing that I find so amazing is how he can believe that a brain can't think for itself, but put this other thing in there (whatever it is), and all is explained. So how does the other entity do the thinking that I can't do? Oh, that's right - it's supernatural. No further explanation is required. It's so simple.

Hal said...

ingx24,
"Either way, identity theory has way more problems than multiple realizability"

I agree with your comment regarding identity theory.

To identify the mind with the brain or with the person or with something that interacts with the brain is quite mistaken.

Martin said...

> so obvious a 3rd grader could point it out

Well there's the problem right there!

>That's like saying there's a difference between the act of walking and the locomotion of the legs that are doing the walking. So what?

There is no difference. However, there IS a difference matter and mind. If matter and mind are the same thing, then they should have e same properties. This is obvious. If Mark Teain is white and has a mustache and it is claimed that Samuel Clemens is identical to Mark Twain, then Samuel Clemens should also be white and have a mustache. If Samuel Clemens is black and clean shaven, then he is not Mark Twain.

Matter has extension. Mind does not (a headache does not have length or width).

Matter is divisible. Mind is not (you can't have 3/4 of a belief that P).

Matter is public (in principle, anyone can observe it). Mind is private to he who has it.

Matter cannot logically exist without matter (law of non contradiction). Mind can logically exist without matter( there is no logical contradiction in supposing that you are a disembodied mind being tricked by a demon).

Matter does not have secondary qualities (redness, blueness, flavor). Mind has secondary properties (conscious experience of redness, of taste).

Matter is devoid of teleology (it does not point to ends and goals). Mind points to ends and goals (thinking about things planning, performing actions and tasks).

Material objects are always particulars (this triangle, that elephant). Thoughts are often universal (triangleness, elephantness).

Material representations are always imperfect (no drawing of a triangle will have perfectly straight lines and corners). A thought of the concept of triangles contains no such imperfections.

Matter + form of (e.g.) elephant = an actual elephant. Mind + form of elephant != elephant.

Therefore, mind is not matter.

Otherwise, that is like saying that Mark Twain is short, fat, bald, black, a woman, and Jewish, and Samuel Clemens is tall, skinny, has a full head of hair, male, and Buddhist, but they are the same person.

Hal said...

im-skeptical,
"The thing that I find so amazing is how he can believe that a brain can't think for itself, but put this other thing in there (whatever it is), and all is explained."

I find it amazing that anyone can believe the brain thinks for itself.:-)

It is the person who can be said to think for herself. Not the brain. Not the mind.

So far based on this discussion, you and Martin and ingx24 appear to think the mind is some sort of internal entity that thinks and causes the person to act.

Why do all three of you share that assumption?

im-skeptical said...

Hal,

"So far based on this discussion, you and Martin and ingx24 appear to think the mind is some sort of internal entity that thinks and causes the person to act."

That's not what I think. What I keep saying is that mind is a function of the brain. It's what the brain does, like walking is what legs do. It may be true that I refer to mind as though it were a thing, but I mean it only in the same sense that walking is a thing. Walking is the thing that legs do, not an entity with its own existence. Mind is the thing that the brain does. I hope that makes sense to you.

im-skeptical said...

Hal,

"I find it amazing that anyone can believe the brain thinks for itself"

If you don't believe that brains think or perform mental functions, what do you think?

Martin said...

>The thing that I find so amazing is how he can believe that a brain can't think for itself, but put this other thing in there (whatever it is), and all is explained

Dualism is not an explanatory posit, so this objection makes no sense. It's like saying that it doesn't explain anything to say that Mark Twain and Sam Clemens are two different people. Obviously, we are saying they are two different people because they have entirely different properties.

ingx24 said...

Obviously, we are saying they are two different people because they have entirely different properties.

Of course, Mark Twain and Sam Clemens are the same person, so this example doesn't actually work :P

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

As I said, "Oh, that's right - it's supernatural. No further explanation is required. It's so simple."

Martin said...

I have no idea what "supernatural" means or how that counts as a refutation of anything I've said.

im-skeptical said...

"I have no idea what "supernatural" means or how that counts as a refutation of anything I've said"

Supernatural is your view of mind, as far as I can tell. Something that has a separate existence, that goes to abide with God after you die.

And it doesn't refute anything. It's just a statement of what you think, as I understand it.

All the stuff you said at 6:55 is not something I need to refute because it doesn't argue against what I believe. (I don't insist that mind is the same as matter, and I keep saying it, and you keep ignoring it.) So you can make those arguments to someone who holds those beliefs.

Martin said...

>I don't insist that mind is the same as matter, and I keep saying it, and you keep ignoring it.

Surely you do. You are a reductive physicalist, according to your own words. Which identifies mind with matter.

I think you are extraordinarily confused.

im-skeptical said...

"I think you are extraordinarily confused."

And I think you don't listen.

Martin said...

You are a reductive physicalist, according to your own words. Which identifies mind with matter.

And yet, simultaneously, you believe that "mind is a function of the brain." So the mind is not identical to matter.

Does it physically hurt to have two contradictory beliefs in your head at once?

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

"You are a reductive physicalist, according to your own words. Which identifies mind with matter.

And yet, simultaneously, you believe that "mind is a function of the brain." So the mind is not identical to matter."

Well, perhaps the problem is that I haven't been able to identify the correct philosophical position that describes exactly what I believe. There is no question that I am a materialist or physicalist. So what brand of physicalism fits? Not non-reductive. What's left?

If we can say that reductive physicalism simply means that mental activity is reducible to physical processes in the brain, I don't think I have a problem with that. If you make the definition more nuanced by saying that mind must be the same thing as a physical object or that the mind is matter, that no longer matches what I believe, because mind isn't a physical object. I believe mind is what the brain does, not what it is. To me, it sounds like a form of reductive physicalism. But you don't agree, so what would you call this position?

Martin said...

I recommend that you stop commenting about this topic on blogs, and get to reading. The best book I've found on this topic is Philosophy of Mind: A Comprehensive Introduction by William Jaworski.

Papalinton said...

William Jaworski is heavily involved with the American Catholic Philosophical Association and a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers. He has a particular fascination for hylomorphism as a philosophical concept, having written many papers on the hylomorphic perspective.

One very interesting aspect of hylomorphism is that it was picked up big time by Aquinas and incorporated into Christian theology. Of course hylomorphism is primarily used in Christian theology in explaining the ritual practice of the Eucharist and the relationship of soul and body in humans.

I can understand why it is that Martin would recommend Jaworski as a primer.

I would suggest Colin McGinn or Daniel Dennett, both internationally recognised and acknowledged philosophers of recent times.


Hal said...

im-skeptical,
"If you don't believe that brains think or perform mental functions, what do you think?"

It is the person who thinks and reasons and hopes and fears. It is the person who can act for a reason: his actions can be described as rational or irrational.

Of course we all would like to know how it is that people have the wonderful capacity.
But saying the brain is thinking is no answer. That is, to put it crudely, using thinking to explain thinking. It is no better than the supernaturalist's "explanation".

By the way, I would ignore Martin's suggestion to stop posting. Having to write down what one's position is and responding to other's criticisms can be quite helpful. It would be good to take his suggestion to read more on the subject. I haven't read the book he recommends but it looks fairly good from perusing it's contents on Amazon.

I would suggest P.M.S. Hacker's Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience. Especially since you indicated that you enjoyed his article I linked to earlier. I think he is very good at pointing out the many misconceptions that can lead to some confusion regarding the mind and consciousness. His position is probably closest to the Aristotelian-Thomist conception of mind but without all the metaphysical baggage.:-)

Martin said...

As usual, the ad hominem from Papalinton. That is because he has no argument, so he attacks the person instead of the argument.

Jaworski is a defender of hylomorphism, but he clearly delineates that in his book as a separate section.

AND he offers criticisms of his own position.

AND he criticizes the Thomistic proofs of God: "Rice's argument to an unmoved mover, on the other hand, trades on a theory of motion we know to be false. Unlike Aquinas, we've known at least since Newton that objects will continue in rectilinear motion at constant velocity unless acted upon by outside forces. Consequently, although one might infer that an object in motion must have been moved by something, one cannot infer that its mover still exists."

AND, in his book that I recommended, he also criticizes the Thomistic arguments for dualism as being untenable.

AND he gave a speech titled Hylomorphism: Naturalism without Physicalism. In short, a non-theistic version of hylomorphism (even though Jaworski is himself a theist; see how gray and not black and white the real world is, Papalinton?)

AND an atheist on another forum told me that he is good to read because you can get the Aristotelian stuff without all the religious baggage like you get from Feser.

All that aside, the first three quarters of the book only deals with the various theories available in philosophy of mind, and the last quarter dealing with hylomorphism can be skipped, if you like.

On the other hand, Daniel Dennet is a quasi-religious physicalist who will stop at NOTHING to believe physicalism, even when shown to be incoherent. In his book Consciousness Explained Away, he commits all kinds of fallacies of reasoning.

McGinn, on the other hand, is good. But I don't know if he has a comprehensive guide to ALL the theories like Jaworski does. Jaworski gives you the cliff notes to McGinn's theory, Dennet, Descartes, etc.

I know you know that ad hominems are fallacies, so why do it? Is it because it's Your Side (tm) and therefore OK? You are a very simple-minded, black-and-white thinker, kinda like George W. Bush. You are either with us, or you are with the religionists! The world must be easier to deal with like that, I guess, so I suppose I can't blame you.

It doesn't reflect reality, though.

B. Prokop said...

"William Jaworski is heavily involved with the American Catholic Philosophical Association and a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers."

Sound like good points in his favor! (or "favour" to those Down Under)

Hal said...

im-skeptical,
"To me, it sounds like a form of reductive physicalism. But you don't agree, so what would you call this position?"

If you look at this SEP article you'll find that most would classify it as mind/brain identity:

"The identity theory of mind holds that states and processes of the mind are identical to states and processes of the brain. Strictly speaking, it need not hold that the mind is identical to the brain. Idiomatically we do use ‘She has a good mind’ and ‘She has a good brain’ interchangeably but we would hardly say ‘Her mind weighs fifty ounces’. Here I take identifying mind and brain as being a matter of identifying processes and perhaps states of the mind and brain. Consider an experience of pain, or of seeing something, or of having a mental image. The identity theory of mind is to the effect that these experiences just are brain processes, not merely correlated with brain processes."

im-skeptical said...

I thank everyone for the suggestions. In the reading I have done so far on this topic, I have seen many different philosophical positions. It seems there is one to support just about any belief. But I don't enjoy being put in a box, especially if the one trying to confine me wears Thomist-colored goggles. If I say I believe A, the response is "then you must be X and believe B and C". I say I don't believe B. The response is "Well, you are a Y, and that contradicts C, so you are incoherent". Only if my beliefs are confined to that little box. I will do more reading.

BenYachov said...

>Rice's argument to an unmoved mover, on the other hand, trades on a theory of motion we know to be false.

Even if he is a Theist and a Thomist the above argument is just plain wrong.

The argument from motion is an argument from metaphysics not physics. It tells us than no potency can actualize itself.

In the realm of physics & physical motion if we accept Newton and Einstein then we must confess physical motion is not something we can observe directly in principle. We can only observe it via reference points of observation. If I am floating in a black void and Martin shoots past me from my observations it looks like he is moving and I am standing still. Yet from his perspective it is me who is moving etc..

As to what causes things to exist from moment to moment maybe he should investigate what Dr. Feser calls existential inertia & wither that is possible or not and forget about Newton.

Since the argument is one of metaphysics it's valid regardless of what physics you employ and regardless of what physics are ultimately true.

Victor Reppert said...

On Bulverism/ad hominem circumstantial, it does seem to be a stock in trade of atheists (no matter how good your arguments are, you can't possibly have any real argument for your position, because we know you have religious motivations and desperately want to believe in eternal life), but theists use it as well (you are motivated not to want to acknowledge a divine source for a moral law you so often violate).

The point is, it's a poison pill for argumentation. It doesn't take more than two seconds to come up with an ulterior motive for your opponents (while advocates of your own view can be thought of in your mind as defending their beliefs only as a means of pursuing the Truth).

im-skeptical said...

Victor, aren't you glad it's only the atheists here who commit these crimes of logical argumentation?

B. Prokop said...

Well, I for one am glad!

Karl Grant said...

Victor, aren't you glad it's only the atheists here who commit these crimes of logical argumentation?

Tu quoque is also a logical fallacy.

Papalinton said...

Victor
'On Bulverism/ad hominem circumstantial, it does seem to be a stock in trade of atheists (no matter how good your arguments are, ..."

Yes, I was amazed at the countless times you repeatedly chided Yachov, CI, Morrison, etc etc for the Bulverism towards Dennett, Harris, et al. One need only to review the numerous occasions that I have been subjected to personal attacks, character assassinations, threats of even physical violence. All that flashes by you as if of no consequence and no relevance. The trouble for you, and of which you are unable to rebut or refute, are that my arguments have been robust and they have been delivered robustly. Mind you the personal attacks do not unduly concern as I chose to comment here. They are to me in their vehemence a confirming indicator of the discomfort apologists experience when they are confronted face-to-face with the reality of the underlying mythical superstition they hold to so resolutely. Reminds me so much of the remarkable similarity of the attitudes Christians share with Hindus, and Jews, and Muslims, and Scientologists as they hold so resolutely to their particular gaggle of noisy myths. And boy, they are 'noisy'.

You seem to be a rather disjointed and indiscriminate invoker of the Bulverism rule. Try not exercising the pious elevation of one's own stature. It really isn't a good look.

im-skeptical said...

"Tu quoque is also a logical fallacy."

True. If you use it in a logical argument.

B. Prokop said...

"a confirming indicator of the discomfort apologists experience"

Boy, talk about projection!

I have news for you, Papalinton. Nothing that you, or BeingItself, or im-skeptical (to name just a few) have written has ever caused me the least bit of "discomfort". The bald truth is that none of you has ever expressed a coherent thought worthy of discomfort.

Pity, maybe. Perhaps laughter. At times even exasperation. Mostly I just feel sorry for you. But discomfort? In your dreams.

Victor Reppert said...

Christians can and do commit the fallacy. All I ask is for people to realize that the motive arguments cancel one another out.

Papalinton said...

In philosophy all's fair in war and war.

The trouble with tu quocque is that it a total cock-up as it is with Bulverism.

Bulverism is in the eye of the beholder.

Victor Reppert said...

If any Christian on this site argues that there must be something wrong with someone's position because of their atheistic motivations, kindly point it out to me.

Victor Reppert said...

Saying that Bulverism is a fallacy is simply to say that you can't refute someone's position by pointing out an ulterior motive they might have for believing in it.

Here's the way the whole thing works. Once an argument is given, the focus goes away from the person to the argument they use.

If someone gives an argument for the claim that smoking really doesn't cause cancer, then it isn't a refutation of their argument to point out that the person is paid by the cigarette companies. They might, for all that, have a good argument. Now if they are saying "I'm an expert, trust me, smoking really doesn't cause cancer," then the fact that they are paid by the cigarette companies is a problem. But if you can evaluate the argument, you should do that, as opposed to just considering the source.

BenYachov said...

>If any Christian on this site argues that there must be something wrong with someone's position because of their atheistic motivations, kindly point it out to me.

To be fair I would nominate Ilion but that is it.

(Now I have opened a can of worms. Oh well.)

BenYachov said...

I sometimes question people's motivations but not so much for their overall non-belief or belief but mostly for their belief in non-essential secondary matters.

For example I still think if Paps gave a little ground and concluded Jesse was right about the bogus nature of the OTF he wouldn't stay an atheist like Jesse he would return to Young Earth Creationist fundamentalism.

;-)

Papalinton said...

" If any Christian on this site argues that there must be something wrong with someone's position because of their atheistic motivations, kindly point it out to me."

Ah! The potency of self reporting.
Gang leader, "If any of you guys beat up that attendant that I was keeping an eye on , I want you to tell me now."

Gang member 1, "Not me, Boss." Gang member 2, "Not me, Boss." Gang member n, "Not me, Boss."

Simplistic really,


Papalinton said...

Bob
"The bald truth is that none of you has ever expressed a coherent thought worthy of discomfort."

Not one coherent thought worthy? Now that is amusing given that the bald truth is how does one engage let alone argue against the preposterous proposition of an unseen, unknowable and ineffable no-thing? How does one argue against a mythos?

In many ways Bob, the stuff you hold in your head is by its very nature not open to any form of coherent argument. I would even venture to add that much of what I do, much of what atheists do is rightly shadow boxing. The irony though is not about the boxing but boxing against a literally genuine and veritable shadow. If one vehemently believes he is one of the select, one of the chosen few in a world of godlessness, how does a reasoned person disabuse him of that neurosis?

Whether or not an unseen, unknowable and ineffable no-thing exists, the idea isn’t germane to dealing with our issues, be it global, national, local, or personal. What is compelling me to continue fighting the shadow, is that this mythical artifice is brought into the public policy forum and attempts to ingratiate itself into the livs of others in the most unwarranted and gratuitous way.

I am reminded of Remy de Gourmont, 20thC French philosopher:

"God is not all that exists. God is all that does not exist."

Dan Gillson said...

Papalinton,

1.) If it is absolutely hopeless for you to reason with Bob, or for that matter any other Christian, then quit wasting your time arguing here. You don't need to come to Dangerous Idea to say the same stupid, predictable things over and over again. You can go to Loftus's blog, where the commentariat won't understand a word that you're writing, but they'll give you an up-vote merely for writing something against Christianity.

2.) You are a shit-for-brains arguer. You have never--ever--delivered a robust argument, and where you fail to argue, you succeed at leaving overwritten, tangential, beside-the-point comments. Sure, you encounter some vehemence for that; but the vituperation you receive isn't just from Christians. To say, as you did, that the vehemence is a confirming indicator of the discomfort apologists feel when they are, thanks to you [there's that misplaced sense of nobility I spoke of in an earlier thread], confronted face-to-face with reality, not only flat-out contradicts what you say in a later comment about the impossibility of arguing with Christians, because you start bragging that you are getting them, but it also is a confirming indicator that you possess very little in the way of self-assessment. What all the aspersions people throw at you should confirm is that you're doing this wrong. You should do this in a way that makes friends, creates respect--in general, in a way that facilitates good feelings between you an others. You're not doing that, so either go away or change.

im-skeptical said...

" The bald truth is that none of you [atheists] has ever expressed a coherent thought worthy of discomfort."

Bulverism! Bulverism!!

B. Prokop said...

No, in this case it's more like "Papalintonism, Papalintonism!"

B. Prokop said...

But seriously, im-skeptical. If you actually do think that's an example of Bulverism, then it's clear you don't understand the term.

It would be Bulverism if I said that none of the persons I mentioned had ever made a coherent argument on the grounds of their being who they were. But I didn't do that. I was simply making an observation. (And an objective one, at that.)

Big difference.

Ilíon said...

Martin: "And rocks. Rocks are atheists as well."

And, on average, as clear-thinking.

im-skeptical said...

"And, on average, as clear-thinking."

Unlike theists, who are WRONG about so, so much.

Papalinton said...

Bob
"No, in this case it's more like "Papalintonism, Papalintonism!"

That's right Bob. You are bashing me, not the substance of my argument. That is pure Bulverism. To wit:

"It would be Bulverism if I said that none of the persons I mentioned had ever made a coherent argument on the grounds of their being who they were.

Let's just go over that again: ""No, in this case it's more like "Papalintonism, Papalintonism!" and on the grounds of their being who they were.

In response you will now attempt to justify that Papalintonism has nothing to do with my character and therefore your comment does not constitute Bulverism. Your attitude and demeanour pretty much reflects a dispiriting mess of hate towards me personally, Bob. And that I find disconcerting.

B. Prokop said...

What? You can't recognize humor when you see it? That wasn't "hate", but lighthearted banter amongst people who really ought to be friends (despite your continuing refusal to disown the tactics of the self-styled Westboro Baptist Church).

im-skeptical said...

While we're talking about Bulverism and the substance of one's arguments, I will remind all concerned of what Bob said not so long ago:

"I started out years ago naively thinking that we were all debating on a level playing field. I have since (sadly) come to accept the fact that atheists are by and large impervious to logic, reason, and argument. they are what they are because that is what they wish to be, and not because of any argument. Therefore, for an atheist to change his mind, he must first change his heart.

I will continue to proclaim Truth and refute error, but I will leave the convincing of others to Someone far above my pay grade. "

Ilíon said...

ME: "And, on average, [God-deniers are] as clear-thinking [as rocks]."

I don't know what 'skeptical' means: "Unlike theists, who are WRONG about so, so much."

So asserts the foolish materialist who also ultimately asserts that he himself does not, and cannot, exist.

And yet, you (singular and collective) never can manage to identify even one thing about which Christians are so, so "WRONG". The nearest you (again, singular and collective) ever come to making a rational argument against Christianity goes like this:
1) IF there is a Creator-God, then Christians would be right about that, and I would be wrong;
2) BUT, Christians are stupid "faith-heads", who by definition (for I have defined the terms) do not believe what they believe for rational reasons;
3) ERGO, Christians are wrong. PLUS, they’re stupid.

Notice, Gentle Reader, there is nothing rational about that; it a rationalization for the God-denier’s own refusal to reason about the reality of God –

1) IF there is no Creator-God (*), then the only sorts of cause existing ab initio are those of non-rational mechanical necessity;
2) No purely non-rational mechanically necessary cause can ever give rise to a free result, nor a rational result;
3) THUS, *all* subsequent events in the history of the world are purely non-rational mechanically necessary;
4) BUT, “all subsequent events in the history of the world” includes our own ratiocinations –
4a) meaning that it is not a free-and-rational comprehension of the logical truth of some matter that enables us to say ‘X’ – nor, likewise, a free-if-irrational refusal to say ‘X’ that enables us to say ‘not-X’ – but rather, our saying ‘X’, or ‘not-X’, is simply the purely non-rational mechanically necessary effect of some prior purely non-rational mechanically necessary cause. Tomorrow, due to some other purely non-rational mechanically necessary cause, we may well say ‘Y’.
4b) THUS, is there is no Creator-God, then we humans do not, for we cannot, reason.

(*) who is a Necessary Being, and who is personal – being both rational and free

Ilíon said...

5) BUT, we human beings *do* reason;
6) THEREFORE, there is a Creator-God -- which is the Necessary Being, and which is both rational and free ... which is to say, the Necessary Being is not a 'what', nut a 'who': he is personal.

im-skeptical said...

"2) No purely non-rational mechanically necessary cause can ever give rise to a free result, nor a rational result;"

Some mechanistic thinking machines work better than others. Addled by faulty religious programming, yours is not one of them.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/3195

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic, PREDICTIONS? CYANIDE? What's your point? Simplistic garbage.

I'm perfectly happy not to predict the "win" of any particular religion, sect, or philosophy. Most people don't know much about either the Bible or philosophy. I predict rather than religions, including Christianity, will probably continue to mutate, diverge, speciate, based on a number of different factors, including the continuing investigations of science into how the cosmos, our brains and bodies function.

Edward T. Babinski said...

replace than religions with "that religions"