Saturday, May 03, 2014

A new brief form of the argument from reason

By Darek Barefoot.

81 comments:

Ilíon said...

People tend to get distracted by the materialism component of naturalism/God-denial, and thus vainly imagine that by positing some non-materialistic naturalism/God-denial (*) the AfR can be defeated (as see in the comments) .

However, the fatal weakness of naturalism/God-denial which gives the AfR the ability to so easily and thorooughly falsify it isn't its incidental (to Western-style God-denial) materialism, but rather its necessary denial of God as "the ground of all being"; or putting it in other terms, its fatal falsehood is its necessary denial of personhood and agency and freedom as fundamental to reality.

As under naturalism/God-denial agent freedom is not (nor can be) fundamental to reality, therefore the only explanatory resource available is mechanical necessity. And, as the AfR shows, when you try to "explain" reason and rationality -- when you try to "explain" rational beings -- in terms of mechanical necessity, all you end up doing is denying that are any such things as reason and rationality ... and rational beings.

As I keep saying: *You* are the proof the God is


(*) more accurately, positing the mere possibility of some non-materialistic naturalism/God-denial; they never really deliver. But even if they did deliver, it wouldn't blunt the AfR.

im-skeptical said...

Good argument: presuppose "God as the ground of all being", and then nobody can challenge any claim or argument you make that God exists, no matter what it is.

Note that Barefoot does the same thing: "The idea of God is already on the table, as it were, before the peculiar properties of reason come into view."

Ilíon said...

^ What an intellectually dishonest fool this fellow is.

Papalinton said...

"^ What an intellectually dishonest fool this fellow is."

I agree, Illion. Barefoot is indeed a presuppositional fool to utter the unsubstantiated, "The idea of God is already on the table, as it were, before the peculiar properties of reason come into view" as a given.

Ilíon said...

I'm-not-ashamed-to-be-intellectually-dishonest: "Good argument: presuppose "God as the ground of all being", and then nobody can challenge any claim or argument you make that God exists, no matter what it is."

I’m-a-poseur is "projecting", again: he presupposes God-denial -- and *will not* reason with respect to his assumption, *will not* test it to see whether it holds up -- and being intellectually dishonest, presumes that everyone else does as he does.

As any honest man can see, I did nothing of the sort, neither here nor in the longer argument at the linked post. Rather, I contrasted the only two possible answers (with a focus on the "no" response) and some of the entailments of those two answers to the question, "Is 'the ground of all being' personal?"

Since there exist contingent entities -- to wit: ourselves and every other physical thing -- necessarily there must be some non-contingent entity which is the source-and-cause of the existence of these contingent entities. That is, since there is something rather than nothing, necessarily there is some necessary entity which is "the ground of all being".

Now, this necessary entity, this "the ground of all being" is either personal or not-personal. There are no other options. If one says that "the ground of all being" is personal, then one has committed to "mere theism"; but, if one says that "the ground of all being" is not-personal, then one has committed to atheism.

Of course, simply committing oneself to one answer or the other doesn't really answer the question, for answering the question must also involve determining whether one’s answer accords with reality. And, since there are only two logically possible answers, falsify one of them necessarily verifies its denial.

As I discussed, the atheistic denial of the personhood-and-agency of “the ground of all being” is simply the standard atheistic assertion of ultimate-and-utter determinism, or “mechanical necessity” as I phrased it in the previous post. For, if there is no freedom to initiate causal-chains, then all that is left as an explanatory resource is necessity (‘atheists’ sometimes try to use a claim of “randomness” to create some wiggle room with respect to this issue, but that’s just the assertion that things can happen without any cause at all).

The AfR shows that this atheistic denial of the personhood-and-agency of “the ground of all being” logically entails the denial that there are any such things as reason and rationality ... or rational beings – and recall, to deny this denial is to affirm the personhood-and-agency of “the ground of all being”, that is, it is the denial of atheism.

That is, the AfR functions as a reduction ad absurdum upon atheism: for, since the denial of the personhood-and-agency of “the ground of all being” necessarily entails the absurd denial of one’s own personhood-and-agency, one sees that first denial is itself the source of the absurdity, that the first denial is absurd. That is, denying that God is logically entails denying that one’s own self is; since the second denial is absurd, the first denial is also absurd.

Again recall; there are only two logically possible answers. Since we can see that denying the reality of God is absurd, we can know by that means (even were it true that we had no other means to know) that God is.


Now, the thing is, *everything* I’ve explained in this post is already contained in my previous post. Anyone who wanted to understand the issue, anyone who was willing to think critically about the issue (and about what I’d written) could have done so. I’m-a-poseur has no desire to understand the issue; rather, his desire is to obfuscate.

im-skeptical said...

"Since there exist contingent entities -- to wit: ourselves and every other physical thing -- necessarily there must be some non-contingent entity which is the source-and-cause of the existence of these contingent entities."

Theistic claptrap based on an unproven assumption. If it is possible for God to exist non-contingently, then it is possible for something else to exist non-contingently. Or many things.

"The AfR shows that this atheistic denial of the personhood-and-agency of “the ground of all being” logically entails the denial that there are any such things as reason and rationality ... or rational beings."

Nope. The ability to respond to our surroundings and adapt our behavior in a manner that enhances survival is something that develops naturally, as we can observe. There are creatures with adaptive processing systems (brains)ranging from nil all the way to our own human brains, with every conceivable level of complexity in between. These systems give rise to sentience and varying degrees of problem-solving capabilities. Agency is fundamentally nothing more than acting in a manner conducive to our most basic instinct: survival. And because of the higher level of cognitive function we humans have, we are aware of our own agency. Rather than understanding it for what it is, many of us attribute it to an imaginary super-being. This is proof that the cognitive function of humans is far less than perfect. People concoct what they see as ironclad proofs of their super-being, while remaining oblivious to the fact that THEY don't see the world for what it is, and THEY haven't evaluated the evidence properly, and THEY aren't as rational as they make themselves out to be.

planks length said...

"Theistic claptrap based on an unproven assumption. If it is possible for God to exist non-contingently, then it is possible for something else to exist non-contingently. Or many things."

Amazing. Despite numerous repetition, im-not-rational still doesn't understand the meaning of the term "contingent being". Let's try this ONE. MORE. TIME. A contingent being is something in existence that either began to exist or has changed in some manner since it came into existence (or both).

Since you insist that some entity other than God can exist non-contingently, pleas identify this thing to us. Remember, it has to satisfy both requirements for non-contingency:

1. It must have always existed (i.e., have no beginning), and
2. It must have never changed.

So let's hear it. You have stated the above quoted opinion numerous times, but have yet to actually identify this mysterious non-contingent being that is not God. And remember - if there was either some time in the past at which it did not exist, or if it has changed in any manner over time, then it is NOT non-contingent!

Ilíon said...

I-hate-truth: "Theistic claptrap based on an unproven assumption. ..."

Such typical atheistic *refusal* to read what was actually written. But then, what was actually written is a reductio ad absurdum that shows God-denial to be false by initially assuming it is true and then noticing that it inevitably generates absurdities.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

Despite your obvious impatience with someone who doesn't swallow your Thomistic system of logic, I'll try again to explain my viewpoint.

"if there was either some time in the past at which it did not exist ..."

According to my understanding of Einstein's theory of relativity, there is no time in the past when our universe did not exist.

"... or if it has changed in any manner over time, then it is NOT non-contingent!"

This is Thomistic logic, and has nothing to do with reality. If something exists without having been created by something else, then it is non-contingent, and I don't care how much it may have changed. This requirement for no change is not logically necessary. It is just a Thomistic assumption that you make with absolutely no justification. And if you think it is necessary for non-contingency, please explain why.

planks length said...

Ohhhh.... I get it. So when you don't like where an argument is going, you get to change the definitions of the terms - to something only you and no one else in the universe accepts as valid meanings. How convenient! I guess that the next time I can't afford to buy something, I'll just re-define "broke" as "I can still afford this". Let's see how far that gets me.

You do realize that if you decide to have your own private language, then no one can meaningfully communicate with you.

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

HERE is an interesting interview in the New York Times between Gary Gutting, Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame U and Louise Antony, a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In part it reads:

G.G.: "That makes it sounds like you don’t think it much matters whether we believe in God or not.

L.A.: "Well, I do wonder about that. Why do theists care so much about belief in God? Disagreement over that question is really no more than a difference in philosophical opinion. Specifically, it’s just a disagreement about ontology — about what kinds of things exist. Why should a disagreement like that bear any moral significance? Why shouldn’t theists just look for allies among us atheists in the battles that matter — the ones concerned with justice, civil rights, peace, etc. — and forget about our differences with respect to such arcane matters as the origins of the universe?"

It is a good sensible read. Try it.



Papalinton said...

HERE is a wonderfully delightful take on David Bentley Hart's GOB.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

"I get it. So when you don't like where an argument is going, you get to change the definitions of the terms"

I'm afraid it is the Thomists who have changed the definition. There is nothing in the definition of philosophical contingency that refers to 'change', or lack of change as being essential to non-contingency. This is only part of the Thomistic definition of their God. But if you don't swallow Thomism, it is totally irrelevant.

planks length said...

"There is nothing in the definition of philosophical contingency that refers to 'change'"

Nonsense. For an entity to change, it must either:

a. be acted upon by an external force, power, influence (i.e., it is not self-sufficient), or
b. must itself be composed of parts, which are themselves necessarily contingent upon their temporal interactions.

Changelessness is an inevitable corollary to the other half of the definition, which is self-sufficiency.

Now I have no idea whether or not Thomas was the first to discover this corollary. It matters not. Even if he was, he was not thereby changing the definition, but rather exploring and clarifying its logical consequences. Did Lewis and Clarke change North America by exploring it? No, but they did reveal to others more of what was within the continent.

Hugo said...

Regarding the article, the author accepts the notion that minds can exist, and do exist, without a natural/physical/material body. Minds are thus a priori considered to be non-natural/non-physical/non-material things. Next, arguments presented using that framework, like the AfR, attempt to show that if you start with a purely natural world, you cannot explain things such as minds, which were already defined as non-natural to start with, hence naturalism is false. In this case, the ability to use reason is put to the test. Since that ability is ascribed to minds, defined as non-natural, reason cannot possible be proven to be natural since it depends on non-natural minds doing the reasoning. The author could just say 'I start my worldview with the belief that there are things that are non-natural, like my own mind, hence naturalism is necessarily false' but that would be too obvious...

planks length said:
"A contingent being is something in existence that either began to exist or has changed in some manner since it came into existence (or both).
[...]
it has to satisfy both requirements for non-contingency:

1. It must have always existed (i.e., have no beginning), and
2. It must have never changed.
"

I am sorry if I make you repeat as I don't have all the context regarding what you explained multiple times, but what is it that you consider to be non-contingent exactly? Are you talking about any 'thing' in general or about 'beings' more specifically?

If it's specifically about 'being', which is what the God you believe in is, I suppose, then you should explain why the definition of 'being' should be extended to be more than just 'human being'. In other words, why should we believe that there exists such a thing as a non-human being?

By the way, I also replied back to your and others' comments on that "old" thread but it's now buried down so if you don't have an email alert it's easy to miss...

Hugo said...

Papalinton quoted:
"Why do theists care so much about belief in God? Disagreement over that question is really no more than a difference in philosophical opinion. Specifically, it’s just a disagreement about ontology — about what kinds of things exist. Why should a disagreement like that bear any moral significance? Why shouldn’t theists just look for allies among us atheists in the battles that matter — the ones concerned with justice, civil rights, peace, etc. — and forget about our differences with respect to such arcane matters as the origins of the universe?"

That sounds very interesting; thanks for sharing. It's something I wonder quite often and the main reason why I interact with bloggers online once in a while. I go through life without ever thinking to myself 'because there is (probably) no god, I am going to do this'. Never. I do things because of reasons, not because of non-reason like not believing in gods. Somehow, according to a lot of religious people around the world, this somehow makes me an evil person and/or incapable of rational thought, when philosophically inclined theists get involve.

planks length said...

"why should we believe that there exists such a thing as a non-human being?"

Huh? Why not? What are you, a solipsist?

Kid's stuff.

Hugo said...

I dont get your comment. When you mention 'being' I am instantly thinking of someone, a person, a human being; what does it mean for you?

Solipsist? No, you probably think it's possible though, I dont. I am sure you won't get what I mean, it will come back, no worries grandpa. (Is that what I am supposed to reply to this unwarranted kids stuff comment??)

planks length said...

The "kid's stuff" refers to hand wringing over the screamingly obvious, as though dumb questions like "Am I really only imagining all this?" were actually worth discussing.

Waste of time.

But if it's just definitions you're worried about, then I am using "being" to mean"anything that is".

By the way, I am a grandpa. When you get old enough, you'll find it's a compliment.

im-skeptical said...

"Nonsense. For an entity to change, it must either:

a. be acted upon by an external force, power, influence (i.e., it is not self-sufficient), or
b. must itself be composed of parts, which are themselves necessarily contingent upon their temporal interactions."

Again, this is unproven assertion. Can you demonstrate the truth of these things without resorting to Thomistic dogmatic beliefs? What if I showed you that things can change without any external thing acting upon them? And what does it mean to say "necessarily contingent upon their temporal interactions"?

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Again, this is unproven assertion. Can you demonstrate the truth of these things without resorting to Thomistic dogmatic beliefs?"

planks length analysis of change is not the Thomistic one. Would it kill you to speak the truth? Even if only once?

planks length said...

"Can you demonstrate the truth of these things without resorting to Thomistic dogmatic beliefs?"

Yeah, just by looking around.

"What if I showed you that things can change without any external thing acting upon them?"

Please do.

"planks length analysis of change is not the Thomistic one. Would it kill you to speak the truth? Even if only once?"

grodrigues,

It probably would.

im-skeptical said...

"Yeah, just by looking around."

I'm still not convinced. Your 'demonstration' leaves something to be desired.

Radiation occurs (causing the radiating body to change) without any detectable external force or influence acting upon that body. This is a direct refutation to Aquinas' assertions about motion. And I don't really care how garbled you got it - it's still mumbo-jumbo.

planks length said...

I am in awe. There is only one answer possible for such breathtaking ignorance, and that is THIS.

im-skeptical said...

"There is only one answer possible for such breathtaking ignorance"

That is to say, you have no idea how to respond to a challenge to your so-called logic. Neither my challenge, nor Hugo's was met with anything that resembles a sensible answer.

toddes said...

"Radiation occurs (causing the radiating body to change) without any detectable external force or influence acting upon that body."

Not time? Not any of the four basic natural forces?

What an amazing discovery? Have you published this?

im-skeptical said...

toddes,

I'm saying nothing that is new to physicists. However, it was unknown to Thomas Aquinas, who made assertions in direct contradiction to what we can observe today. Many modern Thomists insist on the absolute truth of everything he said, regardless of what we have learned since then.

Greg said...

While the strongest portion of the AfR is in its argument against naturalism form, I wonder if more can be done to show that theism, or Christian theism more generally, accords well with reason. I'm thinking about John's use of λόγος in the beginning of his gospel. Integral to Christianity is not merely that the mind and reason exist. It is not merely that a personal, rational being exists. Rather it is that the world was made through the Word; our existence is due to Reason itself.

Just as arguments from reason against naturalism show naturalism to be epistemically self-refuting, Christianity and reason interact in a self-reaffirming way since both find their grounding in the self-existent Word.

planks length said...

"That is to say, you have no idea how to respond to a challenge to your so-called logic."

Giving such an ignorant statement the dignity of a response would be like arguing with a flat-Earther.

But... since I'm in the mood to go slumming:

You say "Radiation occurs (causing the radiating body to change) without any detectable external force or influence acting upon that body." Really? No external force or influence? How about your beloved Laws of Physics? You're not going to try and tell me that they are integral to the radiating particle now, are you? Because if you do, then you'll be compelled to posit that each and every individual particle in the universe is operating under a unique set of laws that apply to it alone. Oh, that's not what you're saying? You say that the same set of laws operate at all times and in every place, and that there are no exceptions - ever? (Don't deny it - you've trumpeted this many, many times on this website.) Well then, I guess that those very laws you so love to cite are an external influence upon the radiating particle.

See? That wasn't so hard. Appears that I really did "have an idea how to respond".

im-skeptical said...

The laws of physics are simply our description of the the regular patterns by which things behave. The laws of physics do not act upon anything.

grodrigues said...

"The laws of physics are simply our description of the the regular patterns *by which things behave*." (emphasis mine).

Translation: the laws of physics are simply our description of the laws of physics.

And just to preempt the usual custom idiocy, my point is *not* that there are indeed laws of physics acting upon things -- there are not.

planks length said...

How convenient. What's that I always hear you blathering on about... something about "unproven assertions" and "mumbo-jumbo" (a borderline racist comment, by the way)?

To paraphrase you: "But if you don't swallow [materialist atheism], it is totally irrelevant."

im-skeptical said...

Keep your racism to yourself, please.

Papalinton said...

Greg, I assume you speak for all religionists: "Just as arguments from reason against naturalism show naturalism to be epistemically self-refuting, Christianity and reason interact in a self-reaffirming way since both find their grounding in the self-existent Word."

This claim simply doesn't add up. Given the rather mind-blowing and clearly resounding success of the sciences [its investigatory and research practices based as they are on methodological naturalism for their epistemic validity] it seems that any argument that suggests that naturalism is self-refuting is truly in need of a fundamental re-think. The evidence for imagining naturalism as some-how self-refuting is simply not there. I don't think anyone with a modicum of reason can deny that the success of science as an explanatory tool dwarfs theology as an explanatory tool.

The 20th century witnessed a ground-swell cleaving among philosophers. Many, if not the majority, argued that the success of naturalism in science meant that scientific methods should also be used in philosophy. It is from this perspective that science and philosophy are said to form a continuum. Many other philosophers however sought to reject this view, remaining as they are wedded to a philosophical tradition that clung to outmoded theological [supernatural] premises as the basis of their thinking. Today we have those that subscribe to scientifically-informed philosophy and those in ever decreasing numbers choosing to conduct their philosophy not informed by the sciences.

Ultimately, philosophy must assume science if it is to sustain epistemological credibility going forward. To do otherwise leads to fiction.




:

planks length said...

"Keep your racism to yourself, please."

Hey, you're the one using the racist terminology. You've been called out for such language in the past, as I recall (Dangerous Idea: November 12, 2013 9:41 PM). Seems like you're a serial offender. I think you need to do some soul searching here. And remember, denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

Greg said...

Papa:

If you'd bother to read my comment you'd realize I wasn't defending the AfR but rather assuming it for the sake of meta-analysis. You had no response to me pointing out that a gospel writer taught the necessity of the Logos--that is the meta-concept of mind, reason, thought, the Word--as the very ground of our existence.

Either way let's see how you do defending the coherency of naturalism. Your confused response about the "success" of the sciences really doesn't get at the point because the natural sciences presuppose a rational world and rational minds which can discover it. Thus any appeal to the success of the sciences on rational grounds only makes the problem worse for you.

With regard to the sciences telling us so much more about reality than other fields I frankly disagree. Not only are the physical sciences built on more basic knowledge bases--philosophy, logic, mathematics, reason--but much of science is speculative and only understood analogously (think of cosmological models or views on quantum mechanics). By contrast what we know directly, such as the existence of the external world, moral values, and other persons, is known quite intuitively and without need of physicists or Darwin.

You are somewhat right about one thing, the continuity of philosophy with the sciences. But even two minutes spent on the couch thinking about this relationship will lead one to the conclusion that it is philosophy which is more basic and fundamental toward having a correct epistemology. A trained monkey in a lab coat can do all the physical tasks that "science" requires, unlike Stephen Hawking. What makes the latter a scientist is his ability to reason.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

You have earned your rightful place among the hate-mongers who deserve no further response from me. For the record, I have no idea what your race is, and you have no idea what mine is. The term I used has little or no connotation of racism in modern usage. But if you want to see it that way, you have a problem.

planks length said...

Wow! Classic case of blaming the offended party for being offended. Listen, im-bigoted, when you've given offense, it is always wrong to excuse your error by saying "Gee, I didn't mean to offend!" I'll just have to assume you're one of those who are always wondering why "the girls can't take a joke".

"Hate-mongers"??? Look in a mirror.

im-skeptical said...

""Hate-mongers"??? Look in a mirror."

Ha! Here's a quote from a total hypocrite:

"I propose a new internet law, similar to the "no Hitler analogies" rule. The first side that attempts to turn the conversation into one about race, loses.

May 05, 2014 3:34 AM" - plank's length

Hugo said...

planks length said...
"if it's just definitions you're worried about, then I am using "being" to mean "anything that is"."
Yes I am "worried" about definitions because I am trying to have a meaningful discussion; feel free to let me know if I am wasting my time trying to do so with you... Now that you clarified 'being', I am going to go back to your previous comment, which I was attempting to discuss since you said that it's something you are trying to explain, and I thus assume it's important:

planks length said:
"Let's try this ONE. MORE. TIME. A contingent being is something in existence that either began to exist or has changed in some manner since it came into existence (or both).
Since you insist that some entity other than God can exist non-contingently, pleas identify this thing to us. Remember, it has to satisfy both requirements for non-contingency:

1. It must have always existed (i.e., have no beginning), and
2. It must have never changed.

[...] have yet to actually identify this mysterious non-contingent being that is not God. And remember - if there was either some time in the past at which it did not exist, or if it has changed in any manner over time, then it is NOT non-contingent!"


Ok, now that I know that we are talking about 'anything that is' when using the word 'being'; so your comment above can be re-phrased:

A contingent 'being' is something in existence...
(already implied by the fact that it's 'anything that is', let's re-write again)
A contingent thing...
...either began to exist or has changed in some manner since it came into existence (or both).
(but it does not matter if it's 'both' as the second one implies the first; let's re-write again)
A contingent thing is something that began to exist; it may or may not have changed since it began to exist.

Therefore, it seems to me that things which we see around us, in the real material world within the physical universe, are all contingent, having a beginning. However, would you say the same about the universe itself? It may have always existed but it certainly changed, so it's also contingent though very different from its content.

Next, what about mental constructs and other abstract things? Opinions are contingent; they begin/end to exist and change over time. Truth, as a set of all facts, is contingent; always existed but change over time. Individual facts are contingent; begin/end to exist but never change over time, they cease to exist when void, being replaced by other facts. So it looks like abstract things are also contingent under that definition.

Ok, so that covers it up on my end... using your definition, literaly everything I can think of is non-contingent (though, I am not so sure about things like 'truth' since its definition never change). Let me know where it went wrong if you disagree and why the God you believe in does exist non-contingently, and is thus an exception.

Hugo said...

im-skeptical said:
"That is to say, you have no idea how to respond to a challenge to your so-called logic. Neither my challenge, nor Hugo's was met with anything that resembles a sensible answer."
It does seem to me that there are a lot of dodges here... I replied back on the 'old' thread regarding the challenge and nobody cares, yet they take the time to insult you...
The only thing I see you doing wrong though im-skeptical is that you make claims such as 'radiation occurs' which do not disprove philosophical statements made by Aquinas, even though he had no knowledge of things like this. His reasoning was generic enough that it does work with pretty much anything we observe today. Our scientific understanding of the universe is not what makes him wrong imo. The circular arguments, false assumptions and errors in reasoning are the problems and could have been spotted if we had live with him.

Dan Gillson said...

I honestly wonder how grown men have nothing better to do than to bicker endlessly on the internet. Do you people work? Have hobbies? Do you find this fun? What's your deal?

N.b., I say this because it's frustrating that by the time I get around to being able to participate in a discussion, the same idiots have already derailed it.

im-skeptical said...

Hugo,

I mention radiation as an example of things we observe that contradict what Aquinas claims. He said that everything that changes is acted upon by another, and we know this by observation. Yet when an atom spontaneously emits a photon, there is no known external force or influence of any kind that causes it to happen. So unless you define "acted upon by another" in a different way than I do, his assertion is unproven. Yet it forms the basis of first way argument to "prove" the existence of God.

To be clear, I don't know whether Aquinas' assertion is true or not, but I do believe that it is unproven.

toddes said...

"I'm saying nothing that is new to physicists."

You really don't know how to stop, do you?

Can you provide evidence, not assertion, that a radiating body is not acted upon by any external "thing"? That it is not acted upon by time, by gravitational force, by electromagnetic force, by strong nuclear force, by weak nuclear force?

Ilíon said...

Perhaps "the same idiots" do consider it fun to endlessly/pointlessly bicker and actively work to derail all threads into the same tiresome non-argument. You know, sort of like someone else apparently found it fun to do nothing but try to troll someone else for the first several months he posted here.

Ilíon said...

Toddes: "Can you provide evidence, not assertion, that a radiating body is not acted upon by any external "thing"? That it is not acted upon by time, by gravitational force, by electromagnetic force, by strong nuclear force, by weak nuclear force?"

Really! What e=mc**2 has been repealed?

im-skeptical said...

Toddes,

"You really don't know how to stop, do you?"

You clearly don't know what you're talking about, so why don't you take a class or read a book or something? Then you'll have some idea about what I'm saying. I would request that Ilion make the same effort, but it's hopeless.

grodrigues said...

@Hugo:

"The only thing I see you doing wrong though im-skeptical is that you make claims such as 'radiation occurs' which do not disprove philosophical statements made by Aquinas, even though he had no knowledge of things like this."

Obviously, you are ignorant of the real state of affairs, so let me clue you in. As a test case, let me quote im-skeptical's response to you in May 07, 2014 8:33 AM:

" He said that everything that changes is acted upon by another, and we know this by observation. Yet when an atom spontaneously emits a photon, there is no known external force or influence of any kind that causes it to happen. So unless you define "acted upon by another" in a different way than I do, his assertion is unproven. Yet it forms the basis of first way argument to "prove" the existence of God.

To be clear, I don't know whether Aquinas' assertion is true or not, but I do believe that it is unproven."

There is not a single sentence in there that is completely correct (well, maybe there is one); every single one is either flat out wrong or needs some heavy qualifications. And most of the reasons why they are wrong have *nothing* to do with what Aquinas specifically held, that is, it could be the case that both im-skeptical and Aquinas are wrong; he either misrepresents him, or he make some really dumb logical mistakes, or he equivocates (on modalities say), etc. Now this has all been pointed out numberless times, and yet im-skeptical persists in trotting out the same tired crap. Over and over.

Hugo said...

Dan Gillson said...

I honestly wonder how grown men have nothing better to do than to bicker endlessly on the internet. Do you people work? Have hobbies? Do you find this fun? What's your deal?

N.b., I say this because it's frustrating that by the time I get around to being able to participate in a discussion, the same idiots have already derailed it.


Well it 'is' a hobby; isn't it? Of course the problem is that it's a hobby that people like to practice in very different ways. It's a bit like video games in a way: when playing online, some people do pretty much anything but play the 'real' game; they don't see their opponents as valuable players but rather want to do anything they can to annoy them and have fun at their expense.

Also, just like any hobby, it can take a lot of time, too much time, if it does become too much 'fun' or in the case of arguments, too much involvement. I am talking from experience; having commented online for many years and forced myself to stop here and there... only to come back after a few weeks, it can really be an addiction!

I personally do find it fun mostly because it almost never happens in real life. Even my smartest friends with PHDs do not seem to care that much about philosophical discussions about the nature of reality, what we can know, why we believe what we believe and so on... Believers and non-believers alike are mostly dismissive of the topic and focus on the actual moment and our shared reality. An example you might find interesting is this couple I am really good friends with. The girl told me she is an Atheist because of the Big Bang; no need for a god for that so that's it, nothing else to talk about. I was curious and tried to play Devil's advocate by exposing the theistic arguments, but could not get anywhere; she just does care about the deeper exploration of these arguments as they would not impact anything she does and would, at best, just raise the 'possibility' that there is some sort of god behind the universe, without any way for us to know what this god wants. Her boyfriend, by far the most intelligent person I have ever met, is even faster to dismiss religious questions. He calls himself an Agnostic and simply refuses to take a stance on whether God exists or not. He says nobody knows, we will most likely never know, hence we should discuss the Crimea conflict or Game of Thrones because at least we know there is a new episode coming.

Hugo said...

im-skeptical, I don't think I can agree with that since the photon emission 'appears' to be spontaneous and self-caused, but the fact that it's not completely random right away points to the notion that something within the atom is causing it to work that way. It is thus likely the result of inner forces within the atom acting on its component. My knowledge of physics is not good enough to try to explain more than that...

That being said, grodrigues said:"Obviously, you are ignorant of the real state of affairs, so let me clue you in [...]There is not a single sentence in there that is completely correct"

That does not really clarify anything. Even if I were to agree with you that he is the dumbest person ever, I don't see why insults keeping being thrown instead of just stating why it's wrong, or ignoring... Plus, which sentence is flat out wrong in what he wrote? I don't agree with the notion that photon emission is an example of 'not acted upon by another' but it's not completely wrong and certainly not obvious. Moreover, we read logical errors all the time here, so why would you call him dumb? Because he disagrees with you? What about the ridiculous claims that planks length made in response to my challenge? Nobody ever seems to notice the absurdity in 'Jesus (supposedly) did awesome magical stuff, hence what he said was true'. It's completely illogical yet never ever questioned...

toddes said...

"You clearly don't know what you're talking about, so why don't you take a class or read a book or something? Then you'll have some idea about what I'm saying."

Here I'll make it simple for you. From Wikipedia:

"The neutrons and protons that constitute nuclei, as well as other particles that approach close enough to them, are governed by several interactions. The strong nuclear force, not observed at the familiar macroscopic scale, is the most powerful force over subatomic distances. The electrostatic force is almost always significant, and, in the case of beta decay, the weak nuclear force is also involved."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_decay#Theoretical_basis_of_decay_phenomena

So, to be as blunt as you deserve, put up or shut up. Either:

1) Provide documentation for your assertion that ""Radiation occurs (causing the radiating body to change) without any detectable external force or influence acting upon that body.")

2) Admit your are wrong

3) Or please stop pretending to know what you do not know.

grodrigues said...

@Hugo:

"Even if I were to agree with you that he is the dumbest person ever, I don't see why insults keeping being thrown instead of just stating why it's wrong, or ignoring..."

Observing the obvious is an insult? Why do why not respond to him and point in excruciating detail where he goes wrong? I have done already; numerous times -- a futile exercise. As im-skeptical himself stated: from here, November 25, 2013 7:54 PM:

"Maybe I do have it all wrong. But you'll never convince me of that"

Why don't I just ignore him? Hmm, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, as whim leads me. I will grant that I probably should improve on that, but personally, I do not attach too much importance to it. Maybe I should. Shrug shoulders.

Now, do you really want me to scalpelize all the mistakes he has managed to pack into a single post? I confess I am not very much inclined to it, in part because it is a very boring task, in part because in the few posts I have read you yourself also make some baffling mistakes (hint: no, Derek Barefoot did not do anything close to what you impugn him as doing; either you have not read the article, or you have not understood it).

Hugo said...

@grodrigues
"Observing the obvious is an insult?"
No, you're right. I don't see direct insults from you in the recent posts, confused you with the others who keep changing his name to im-'insult' I guess...

Please do point out what I got wrong, I did read the paper but, just like you, didn't take the time to address specific sentences.

im-skeptical said...

grod,

You've thrown that comment in my face several times now. Perhaps you should try to understand what I was telling you (which is still true today): You'll never convince me because you don't make any arguments are explanations. All you do is say that I'm wrong, insult, and act like a pompous ass. That's why you can never convince me of anything. I have asked you on numerous occasions to participate in the discussion with me in a productive way, but you refuse to do it.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Perhaps you should try to understand what I was telling you (which is still true today): You'll never convince me because you don't make any arguments are explanations."

Which is a *blatant lie*, as for example, anyone consulting the linked thread can readily attest.

im-skeptical said...

Ah yes, the thread where you either didn't understand, or deliberately misstated my argument, over and over again, in an asinine attempt to "prove" that I reject all science.

im-skeptical said...

Hugo,

"the fact that it's not completely random right away points to the notion that something within the atom is causing it to work that way. It is thus likely the result of inner forces within the atom acting on its component"

My assertion was nothing more than that we don't know. You may believe that everything is caused by something else, but we can't say that for certain because we don't really know. By our current state of observation and knowledge, it is unproven.

planks length said...

"things which we see around us, in the real material world within the physical universe, are all contingent"

Agreed.

"would you say the same [i.e., that it's contingent] about the universe itself?"

Yes.

"but it certainly changed"

And that's why.

"Truth, as a set of all facts, is contingent; always existed but change over time."

Nope. Dead wrong. Our knowledge of the Truth changes over time, but the Truth itself does not, and is independent of whether we know anything about it or not, or whether we believe the wrong things to be true.

"So it looks like abstract things are also contingent under that definition."

Again, no - and for the same reasons as above.

Hugo said...

planks length said:
""things which we see around us, in the real material world within the physical universe, are all contingent"

Agreed.

"would you say the same [i.e., that it's contingent] about the universe itself?"

Yes.

"but it certainly changed"

And that's why.
"

Ok but that contradicts what I wrote above when trying to summarize your view on contingency. Since the universe is changing, it is contingent; but since it may have no beginning, it is thus not true that all contingent things began to exist. So contingency is just a synonym for 'change'? As in the Argument from change?

""Truth, as a set of all facts, is contingent; always existed but change over time."

Nope. Dead wrong. Our knowledge of the Truth changes over time, but the Truth itself does not, and is independent of whether we know anything about it or not, or whether we believe the wrong things to be true.

"So it looks like abstract things are also contingent under that definition."

Again, no - and for the same reasons as above.
"

What is 'Truth' with a big T if not the set of all true facts? The set clearly changes so why would there be such as thing as 'Truth' which does not change?

planks length said...

"but since [the universe] may have no beginning"

I did not agree that it had no beginning. I strongly believe that time does not and can not extend infinitely into the past. You cannot traverse an infinite series, and for the universe to have always existed means that "today" would forever be in the future and never arrived at. But here we are, so there must have been a first moment of time.

"The set clearly changes"

I was tempted to say, "It does not. Only the set of known facts changes." But even while typing this, I thought of historical "facts". At some point, we will know who won the 2016 presidential election. We do not know today who will. So in that sense, it is an unknown fact. But, can we say that it is a fact that does not exist today, but will exist in 2017? And is such a fact even "Truth"? Perhaps we need a better definition of Truth that your "set of all true facts". Or perhaps this is a problem with the English Language, where we use the same word for fundamentally different concepts. Or even we just need to use qualifiers, such as the hoary "Eternal Truths".

Must think about this...

planks length said...

That should have read "than your" and not "that your".

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Ah yes, the thread where you either didn't understand, or deliberately misstated my argument, over and over again, in an asinine attempt to "prove" that I reject all science."

I will leave to anyone interested (most probably nobody) to make their own judgment as the thread is a matter of public record. I do note however, that you changed your tune and in fact, it is not the case that I "don't make any arguments are explanations", but rather that I "didn't understand, or deliberately misstated" your argument. In other words, I was correct; you have have serious problems in speaking the truth as I did presented arguments and have given explanations. What is more, after giving evidence of my claim (and I could multiply it by several factors), you did not retracted or acknowledged the mistake, instead you changed the goalposts. In other words, even if unwittingly, you confirmed that "Maybe I do have it all wrong. But you'll never convince me of that" and the invitation to "participate in the discussion with me in a productive way" is just a load of bullshit that you tell in a pathetic attempt to convince yourself and possibly others that you are actually interested in any sort of dialogue.

note: and yes, you are a Science-denier. Not that it matters much, since you know next to nothing about Science to be able to coherently deny any of it.

im-skeptical said...

grod,

Buzz off, you pompous ass.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Buzz off, you pompous ass."

I do not deny being a pompous ass; but methinks it is better than being an intellectually dishonest derp.

And no, I will not buzz off. This is pure comedy gold, and more importantly, a moral cautionary tale in what not to do and what not to be, because, after all, "but for the grace of God, there go I".

Hugo said...

planks length said:
"I strongly believe that time does not and can not extend infinitely into the past. You cannot traverse an infinite series, and for the universe to have always existed means that "today" would forever be in the future and never arrived at. But here we are, so there must have been a first moment of time."

Are you aware of funny mathematical "proof" that show that 1=2 or that 1=0? The reasoning behind your belief that there must have been a first moment is flawed in exactly the same way. Today exists; you cannot deny its existence in order to build an argument. Unjustified belief.

Don't get me wrong by the way. I don't believe the universe always existed; it cannot be demonstrated. I do however accept the logical possibility, which renders any argument based on the assumption that the universe did not always exist invalid.

"But, can we say that it is a fact that does not exist today, but will exist in 2017?"

It's not a fact today. It's extremely likely that there will be a fact in 2017 about the winner of the 2016 election.

"And is such a fact even "Truth"?"

Facts are part of the set of true things, which I call 'Truth', but I am not sure if we agree on what this means and I agree with that conclusion:

" Perhaps we need a better definition of Truth that your "set of all true facts". Or perhaps this is a problem with the English Language, where we use the same word for fundamentally different concepts. Or even we just need to use qualifiers, such as the hoary "Eternal Truths".

Must think about this...
"

I really don't know what 'Truth' with a big 'T' is other than something like a set of true facts. Perhaps there is some other definition that better fits, I don't know...

planks length said...

"I do however accept the logical possibility"

I don't. I, being alive today, will never be alive at some point in time an infinite number of years in the future. In like manner, for the universe to have no beginning, it must have been around at some point in time an infinite number of years in the past, and we would not be here today (because you can't get from there to here, no matter how long you wait).

"Must think about this..." (me)

Still thinking.

B. Prokop said...

We discussed this very issue (of whether or not the universe can be infinitely old) way back in 2009, HERE. If I remember correctly, this was only the first of several such conversations/debates on the subject.

Ilíon said...

B.Prokop: "
We discussed this very issue (of whether or not the universe can be infinitely old) way back in ...
"

Some people *need* that question never to be settled properly, as their (false) metaphysics seems to require its incorrect resolution. You know, sort of like some people love to call other people things like "Hell's Own Constitutionalist", without ever, you know, presenting as argument to estabklish the wickedness of the other, because their self-serving hypocritical leftism requires that the other be eevil by definition.

Ilíon said...

grodrigues: "I do not deny being a pompous ass; but methinks it is better than being an intellectually dishonest derp."

But you're a hypocrite about opposing intellectual dishonesty.

Ilíon said...

Hugely-erroneous: "Are you aware of funny mathematical "proof" that show that 1=2 or that 1=0? The reasoning behind your belief that there must have been a first moment is flawed in exactly the same way."

That funny "proof" "proves" that 1=2 or that 1=0 by surreptitiously introducing ‘infinity’ into the algebraic equation. *You* are the one who is trying to introduce ‘infinity’ into the time-count. So, in fact, it is not that PL’s reasoning that “is flawed in exactly the same way”, but rather yours.

grodrigues said...

@Hugo:

"Please do point out what I got wrong, I did read the paper but, just like you, didn't take the time to address specific sentences."

For context, I will quote the relevant portion, sentence per sentence.

"Regarding the article, the author accepts the notion that minds can exist, and do exist, without a natural/physical/material body. Minds are thus a priori considered to be non-natural/non-physical/non-material things."

The first time the author even uses the word mind is almost at the end of the article, so where are you getting this from?

"Next, arguments presented using that framework, like the AfR, attempt to show that if you start with a purely natural world, you cannot explain things such as minds, which were already defined as non-natural to start with, hence naturalism is false."

This is a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the argument. The arguments are *not* presented "using that framework", by which I presume you mean substance dualism. And while we are at it, another hint: not all theists are substance dualists, e.g.: I am not. And although admittedly I am a nobody, since what I believe is in the tradition of Aristotle and Aquinas...

"In this case, the ability to use reason is put to the test. Since that ability is ascribed to minds, defined as non-natural, reason cannot possible be proven to be natural since it depends on non-natural minds doing the reasoning."

The argument does revolve around the nature of reason and on what reasoning consists of essentially, but it does not make the silly detour of "ascribed to minds, defined as non-natural, reason cannot possible be proven to be natural" that you impugn it. Have you really read the article or just skimmed it, and thinking for yourself "Oh I already know what game this guy is playing" you then wrote the above?

grodrigues said...

@Hugo.

And what the hell, while am at it, let us see your response to planks length in May 07, 2014 10:21 PM.

"Are you aware of funny mathematical "proof" that show that 1=2 or that 1=0? The reasoning behind your belief that there must have been a first moment is flawed in exactly the same way. Today exists; you cannot deny its existence in order to build an argument. Unjustified belief."

Huh? I do not even understand what is supposed to be the rebuttal here. Who denies that today exists? What are you talking about?

"Don't get me wrong by the way. I don't believe the universe always existed; it cannot be demonstrated. I do however accept the logical possibility, which renders any argument based on the assumption that the universe did not always exist invalid."

There are a couple of things wrong here; first, logical possibility is not the only possible (heh) modality and in fact, Craig (*) himself admits that he is not using such because it is too weak (or too strong, depending on how you look at it). Second, it is incumbent upon you to actually *prove* that it is indeed logically possible, it is not enough to say that "I don't believe" or "I do however accept the logical possibility" as if what you believe or what you accept have any demonstrative force. Now I suspect that whatever you think could or can ground the logical possibility will be a highly contentious *metaphysical* thesis, thereby sinking your argument.

(*) Although what in my judgment are the two best versions of the Kalam are not from Craig but from Oderberg and Pruss.

grodrigues said...

@Ilíon:

"But you're a hypocrite about opposing intellectual dishonesty."

If by being a "hypocrite" you mean that I do not oppose, in the sense of speaking out against, every instance of intellectual dishonesty, that is true. But since it is a practical impossibility to do so (that is, by that criterion, everyone is a hypocrite), I am not sure what your point is in stating the obvious.

Anyway, this is all rather irrelevant and above all, extremely boring. If the subject is me, I hastily plead guilty just for the sake of ending the discussion -- precisely because there is nothing interesting to discuss. And you have to grant that in expecting everyone to emulate your shining stellar example, you are setting the bar a *tad* too high for the common mortal.

im-skeptical said...

"I really don't know what 'Truth' with a big 'T' is other than something like a set of true facts. Perhaps there is some other definition that better fits, I don't know..."

Truth is an attribute of a proposition. It's not a universal object. If someone makes a (propositional) statement, you can say that statement is true or not true, but in the absence of such a statement, there is nothing about which you can say it is true.

I think many people confuse the term 'reality' with 'truth'. The truth of a proposition is a reflection of its correspondence (or lack thereof) with reality. A fact has no truth value unless it is stated in the form of a proposition. There are many aspects of reality that simply are what they are, and until someone makes a statement about them, they have no truth value in their own right.

This notion of truth is what grod refused to understand or accept in our earlier discussion. He appears to see Truth as some kind of Platonic thing that exists independent of any physical reality. Of course, if it is taken in this sense, it really has no meaning. That's why people find it difficult to define.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"This notion of truth is what grod refused to understand or accept in our earlier discussion. He appears to see Truth as some kind of Platonic thing that exists independent of any physical reality."

You really ought to refrain from commenting on what you know nothing about.

B. Prokop said...

Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" (John 18:38)

I wouldn't want to find myself in the same category as Pilate, with his sarcastic non-question. Pilate only believed in "reality", i.e., whatever was declared to be so by Roman Law and its armies. He saw no use for "Truth", and scoffed at any idea that the word might actually have real meaning.

Ilíon said...

grodrigues: "If by being a "hypocrite" you mean that I do not oppose, in the sense of speaking out against, every instance of intellectual dishonesty, that is true. But since it is a practical impossibility to do so (that is, by that criterion, everyone is a hypocrite), I am not sure what your point is in stating the obvious."

Plllease! You know very well that that has noting to do with hypocrisy.

grodrigues: "... And you have to grant that in expecting everyone to emulate your shining stellar example, you are setting the bar a *tad* too high for the common mortal."

Ah, there is an echo of what I was talking about. You sometimes join in the "let's all condemn Ilíon for his rudeness at calling out intellectual dishonesty (as a matter of principle) instead of alleging it when we're pissed, as we do" group hugs-and-bonding-moments.

grodrigues said...

@Ilíon:

"You sometimes join in the "let's all condemn Ilíon for his rudeness at calling out intellectual dishonesty (as a matter of principle) instead of alleging it when we're pissed, as we do" group hugs-and-bonding-moments."

Actually, I never once joined in either a collective condemnation of your rudeness or even single-handedly condemned your rudeness. Not once. I will admit that my memory is not flawless so if you have a specimen of such a condemnation, I would appreciate you showed it to me so that I can amend my ways.

There is one thing that puzzles me though: why exactly is my opinion important? You are a sect of one man, so what does it matter? You feel all alone in the trenches, fighting an unfair battle with the savage barbarians and no one protecting your back, is it? Lost that lovin' feelin'?

Hugo said...

grodrigues said...
"The first time the author even uses the word mind is almost at the end of the article, so where are you getting this from?"
Because 'using reason' is something human minds do and after reading the article it's obvious that the author accepts the notion that minds can exist, and do exist, without a natural/physical/material body. This answers your question at the end of the comment: "Have you really read the article or just skimmed it".
Yes I did and wrote what my impression is, instead of a line-by-line dissection; not that my opinion matters but we are all people talking to each other, not writing essays...

Regarding the line from you that I just quoted; it does not say anything about why I would be wrong. You just don't get where it came from...

"This is a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the argument. The arguments are *not* presented "using that framework", by which I presume you mean substance dualism. And while we are at it, another hint: not all theists are substance dualists, e.g.: I am not. And although admittedly I am a nobody, since what I believe is in the tradition of Aristotle and Aquinas... "

I am not sure if the label 'substance dualism' is accurate as I tend to forget the subtle differences between these positions. What I am referring to is probably broader; I am talking about the idea that theistic arguments always imply that minds are somehow not purely natural things. But again, I am not sure what you think I got wrong since you did not say anything about it; you just say that I misunderstood something while I am almost certain that the author does believe what I just said.

As a side question, going back to the label 'substance dualism', I would like to know what would better describe your position?

"The argument does revolve around the nature of reason and on what reasoning consists of essentially, but it does not make the silly detour of "ascribed to minds, defined as non-natural, reason cannot possible be proven to be natural" that you impugn it. "

Again, you just say 'you're wrong' but do not offer any explanation. The author implicitly ascribe reason to non-natural minds as soon as starts the argument, under the section 'Distinguishing Reason from Natural Processes'. He makes a distinction between breathing/digestion and thinking, as if one was more mysterious than the others in terms of origin; when in reality they are all products of natural things and are thus purely natural. This is made more evident by the quick comment saying 'We will here waive quibbles over treating beliefs as physical'. There is no quibble; beliefs are physical in the sense that physical humans hold them. Beliefs are not physical in the everyday usage of the word, since we cannot touch/smell/hear them, but they are nothing but products of physical brains. There is no problem with 'confirming reason as a natural process' as reason is nothing but a mind thinking about its existing beliefs and trying to figure out how they can yield more beliefs or correct existing ones.

Hugo said...

B. Prokop said...
"We discussed this very issue (of whether or not the universe can be infinitely old) way back in 2009, HERE. If I remember correctly, this was only the first of several such conversations/debates on the subject."
Thanks for sharing this. I was about to reply but instead ended up reading this thread and other pages it links to for around an hour; hence I have almost no time left to reply... This link was particularly interesting:

Unchanging Time and the Infinite Past

Perhaps more later...