Wednesday, July 13, 2016

If Physicalism Then Determinism

   Suppose we assume a naturalistic or physicalistic world-view. If we do, then the physical world is a causally closed system. And everything else that exists, at least in space and time, is a necessary consequence of the state of the physical. Now it seems as if we don’t choose the state of the physical, since the physical is determined and determined only by other physical states. Nor are we responsible for the necessary consequences of the physical. But if our actions are the necessary consequences of the physical, then we are not responsible for our actions either.

48 comments:

Ilíon said...

And if atheism (*), then physicalism, then determinism.

(*) obviously, I mean western-style atheism, the atheism that acknowledges the reality of the physical.

Lorenzo Sleakes said...

Determinism or strict closure of the known physical laws cannot be true. If it were true then it would imply that qualia such as the phenomenal color red do not exist since it is not part of any known physical law. Eliminative materialism throws out obvious empirical facts such as qualia to achieve logical consistency. Compromise approaches which aim to show that qualia such as pleasure and pain actually do exist and may actually serve a function while still being limited to strict physical determinism are illogical. If qualitative pain actually causes something to happen then it cant be a mere physical process or epiphenomena.

see my defense of interactive dualism. http://philpapers.org/rec/SLETLO-2

Lorenzo Sleakes said...

see the logic of interactive dualism

Dan Gillson said...

A few brief criticisms:

1. I do not understand how adding 'the mental' or 'the supernatural' changes things. The system is ultimately still causally closed, but with a permeable boundary between the physical and whatever else. From the point of view from outside the system, which is how we are choosing to look at the physicalistic or naturalistic system, everything that exists is a necessary consequence of the state of the system. Determinism wins. (Unless, of course, the real problem is the vantage point from we are viewing physicality and/or experience?)

2. There is a sense in which this argument is trivially true. From the point of view of the subject, much of the physical world has been determined for me (meaning not that it has been determined for the benefit of me, but that I haven't had to determine it); these (physical) determinations have been determined by previous (physical) states, from moment to moment, ad infinitum, and I am not at all held responsible for how the world is (thankfully). The trouble comes in when you're trying to describe our actions in the same terms as you are describing the world; you've elided the difference in the point of views between, say, God and us to make your case.

3. You're begging the question against the possibility of determinability within an enclosed physical system. What if we considered 'determinism' to be more like the rules of chess, merely determining what could be done on the game board --the system-- not determining the strategies or the moves the players make?

William said...

I don't see how either of the possible theses below are excluded by the OP except by mere assertion without evidence:

1. The physical is not deterministic.

2. The nonphysical is deterministic.

Ilíon said...

Dan Gilson: "3. You're begging the question against the possibility of determinability within an enclosed physical system. What if we considered 'determinism' to be more like the rules of chess, merely determining what could be done on the game board --the system-- not determining the strategies or the moves the players make?"

I'll try to get to, by which I mean eviscerate (*), Mr Gilson’s other points later, but this one had me laughing, so I want to eviscerate it now.


"3. You're begging the question against the possibility of determinability within an enclosed physical system."

Not at all. Ask him: Mr Reppert believes – as do I, as does B.Prokop, as does almost everyone else who posts here (**) – that “the physical” (or “the material”) is fully deterministic. What Mr Reppert is denying – and providing evidence for the denial – is *your* (singular and collective) mere assertion, which always involves question-begging on your (singular and collective) part, that “the physical” (or “the material”) is the entirety of reality.

It is *you* people who are (constantly) engaging in question-begging, along with various other logical fallacies and flaws. This just makes it so much more delicious that you (singular and collective) so frequently follow up your own question-begging by accusing those who are not question-begging of doing do.


"What if we considered 'determinism' to be more like the rules of chess, merely determining what could be done on the game board --the system-- not determining the strategies or the moves the players make?"

I thought I was going to fall off my chair when I read this.

The players are outside “the system”. The players are neither determined nor ‘random’ (***), they are free (***), for they are agents.

If atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then there is no such thing as “outside the system”. If atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then “the system” of the physical/material exhausts reality. If atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then all causes are deterministic and all events are fully determined the “causal net” of prior conditions. If atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then there are no such things as agents.


Now, Mr Gilson’s analogy is a fairly good analogy, as far as analogies go, for what *everyone* -- including Mr Gilson himself, and every other so-called atheist you will ever encounter – actually believes about the relationship(s) between “the system” of the physical/material and agents, such as ourselves.

(*) very private joke

(**) In fact, it is you God-deniers who tend to grasp at ‘randomness’ as an indeterminate “cause” within the physical/material “system”

(***) ‘randomness’ is the nearest a committed God-denier can get to acknowledging agency (i.e. agent freedom).

David Brightly said...

The critical words here are 'choose' and 'responsible'. We are happy to say 'the hurricane was responsible for much destruction' or 'the chess program chose a novel move' and nothing non-physical or non-deterministic is implied. For the argument to work some special senses of the critical words must be in use. These senses and their incompatibility with the physical and the determined need to be made clear.

Ilíon said...

Don't materialists say just the cutest things when they're trying to protect their quaint and/or primitive beliefs from rational scrutiny?

David Brightly: "The critical words here are 'choose' and 'responsible'. We are happy to say 'the hurricane was responsible for much destruction' or 'the chess program chose a novel move' and nothing non-physical or non-deterministic is implied. For the argument to work some special senses of the critical words must be in use. These senses and their incompatibility with the physical and the determined need to be made clear."

Mr Brightly is asserting that because people frequently use the words 'choose' and 'responsible' in an imprecise/inaccurate and/or analogical manner, that therefore the words can’t be used in an accurate and precise manner in the argument. Or, to put it another way, what he is trying to slip past the unwary reader is the idea that because *he* refuses to think properly that therefore *you* are unable to think properly.

And then, look at his two examples --

"the hurricane was responsible for much destruction" -- not only does this sentence use 'responsible' in an analogical (or even inaccurate) manner, it uses 'hurricane' as though a hurricane were a real entity possessing identity.

"the chess program chose a novel move" -- not only does this sentence use 'choose' in an analogical (or even inaccurate) manner, it uses the word 'novel' falsely: there is no such thing as a novel move in chess.

Victor Reppert said...

Now I think these questions are legitimate. One presupposition in this discussion is the view that in defining the physical, we are affirming the non-mental character of the basic level of reality, the level where the actual causation in the universe really happens. At the physical level, nothing makes a choice. And yet, if physicalism is true, then what happens on the physical level determines everything else, including the mental.

Gyan said...

Ilion,
" “the physical” (or “the material”) is fully deterministic."

Is it? Consider motion of animals. Are animals entirely physical?
Is the animal motion deterministic?

It is anything but obvious.
PS Aquinas did not think that animals move by the laws of necessity.
"Stones move by necessity, animals move by instinct and man moves by deliberation".

David Brightly said...

VR: At the physical level, nothing makes a choice.

I think this needs a little qualification. Certainly, elementary particles, atoms, and molecules, seem to be too simple individuals to be thought of as making choices. But single-celled marine bacteria can choose between swimming up to the surface or down to the depths, depending on the light. Natural history documentaries often tell us that carnivores identify, select, pick out, choose, etc, weak or injured prey animals for attack. So on the larger scale of cellular individuals choices are indeed being made, whereas on the smaller scale of molecular and lesser individuals choices are not occurring. Yet I'm happy to see all of this as purely physical. I would say that choice is a macroscopic physical phenomenon.

Victor Reppert said...

The concept of a choice needs some clarification. On my view it requires the recognition of two or more options and a selection of one as better than the other. Now, surely particles at the physical level don't make those kinds of choices, do they? Are you going panpsychist a la Nagel? Apparently Galen Strawson has a definition of physicalism that allows panpsychism. To do that, however, you need to define the physical in a different way from what I am arguing against, and what most card-carry naturalists want to defend against my attacks.

David Brightly said...

Panpsychism? No, I can't believe that full-blown mentality is assembled from from lots of tiny bits of mentality. The slipperiness of water is not the accumulation of the slipperinesses of lots of H2O molecules, and most macroscopic properties are like this. Mass, say, is an exception.

The chess program has options and it selects one as better than the others. What it lacks is the recognition that these are options for it and that their value is their contribution to winning the game. This requires a sophisticated self-awareness that only humans seem to possess. But just as a physical animal brain can have awareness of the outside world can't a physical human brain devote some of its resources to awareness of what is going on inside itself?

B. Prokop said...

"a selection of one as better than the other"

Reminds me of a passage in Dante's Paradiso (Canto IV, lines 1-3)

"A man, finding himself between two foods, equidistant and identically tempting, would starve to death, unable to choose between them."

While looking this up (since I could not immediately recall where the quote was in the poem), I discovered this dilemma is known as Buriden's Ass.

Victor Reppert said...

But what thing, exactly is aware? The brain is a set of things, not a thing. It can behave as if it has awareness even if it has no awareness. If the whole is more than the sum of its parts, then are there laws that govern it that are not the laws that govern the proper parts?

Gyan said...

On choice:
"it requires the recognition of two or more options and a selection of one as better than the other."
Certainly the animals do not choose in this way-they do not deliberate. Equally certainly, the animal behavior is not as determined as that of lifeless objects or even plants.

So, we must avoid the false dichotomy between deterministic physical phenomena and non-deterministic mental phenomena. Reality is more complex and there is need to account for the animals and plants. Are they just the complex machines?

B. Prokop said...

I think plants "choose" using the method I learned in business school as satisficing, which involves opting for the first solution that meets one's requirements without examining any further alternatives.

An example of satisficing would be how I purchase shoes. I go into the show store looking for, say, a new pair of black shoes. The moment I find a pair that fits and looks pretty much the way I want them to, I stop looking and buy that pair. Search over.

In the same manner, I would imagine that a climbing vine which must "choose" where next to cling to a brick wall will do so at the first spot it encounters that fulfills its needs. It doesn't keep looking for a potentially better spot to attach itself to.

David Brightly said...

But what thing, exactly is aware? In the first instance, the organism itself. I don't know of a standard term, but I use 'awareness' to denote a 'consciousness-neutral' sensitivity to surroundings. Thus if a living thing responds to changes around it in ways we can understand as conducive to its life chances I say it is 'aware' of those changes. This is independent of any speculation as to whether it is conscious in anything like the way we are conscious. Even trees are thus aware of diurnal and seasonal changes in light and warmth. Clearly higher animals have sense organs, nervous systems, and brains that directly support awareness (and maybe consciousness), and it's easy to fall into saying, as I did above, that those parts themselves possess awareness. But strictly speaking, it's the individual organism that has this property.

Yes, complex individuals are more than the sum of their parts. They have properties that are ascribable only to such wholes, and they obey corresponding laws relating those properties. But the laws of the whole must be explicable in terms of the laws of the parts (plus the laws of the environment, perhaps). That's a kind of closure condition.

I agree that it's unlikely that non-humans deliberate in anything like the way we do. Nevertheless, we can objectively observe even relatively simple animals making choices, for which they have to be aware of their surroundings in my sense of the word.

I'm not sure how this relates to the question of determinism. We know that on the tiniest scales the stuff of the world behaves indeterministically, but as we go up in scale deterministic behaviour seems to appear. Yet sometimes the indeterminism of the very small percolates upwards to the macroscopic. Whether you win a lottery might depend on a radioactive decay.

Ilíon said...

Nothing is "more than the sum of its parts", any more than 1+1=3. If someone imagines that 1+1=3, what is going on is that there is another +1 that he hasn't accounted for. If someone imagines that a thing is "more than the sum of its parts", what is going on is that there is another part that he hasn't accounted for.

B. Prokop said...

Ilion,

What say you to this argument? You have a carburetor, a distributor, some pistons, a fuel line, a fan, etc., etc. Individually, they're all "parts", but put them together, and you have an automobile engine - something that wasn't there before. But you haven't added any new entity to the mix. (that is, unless you regard the assembly itself as one more "part").

Ilíon said...

Bingo!

B. Prokop said...

Ahh.. But no materialist would let you get away with that! "Assembly" is not a material object, and therefore does not actually exist (since the material is "all there is").

Victor Reppert said...

On the view developed by Hasker and myself, which is often accepted by naturalists like Blue Devil Knight, there are three components to a genuinely physicalistic or even naturalistic view. One is a closure constraint, the second is a supervenience constraint. But the third constraint is that the physical be mechanistic, and by mechanistic I mean that purpose, subjectivity (first person awareness), intentionality, and normativity.

Are you working within this framework?

David Brightly said...

Can you elaborate a bit on that third constraint?

Victor Reppert said...

At the level of basic physics, the elements of purpose, subjectivity, intentionality, and normativity are not present. Explanations using these terms are placeholders for explanations on a deeper level of analysis that lack them. To make those kinds of explanations basic is to violate the "no skyhooks" rule."

Unknown said...

"Even trees are aware of seasonal.. changes"

Are they? Now, is this awareness no different from "the whole?" -- that is to say, are they merely 2 different terms that refer to the *same thing*? Because that would seem absurd, but who knows, you may have already fleshed this out.

If not -- if they aren't the same thing -- then in positing an "awareness", are we not positing some kind of dualism?

I'm not as smart as anyone here. I am just genuinely interested. I am catholic though.

Ilíon said...

VR: "... make those kinds of explanations basic is to violate the "no skyhooks" rule.""

Since when has logical and intellectual consistence *ever* mattered to any 'materialist' or 'atheist' who finds himself in a pinch?

David Brightly said...

Thanks. I had become fixated on an early modern interpretation of 'mechanistic'. Am I working within this framework? Yes, I think so. My present view is that each of purpose, intentionality, value, and reason can partly be reduced by mechanistic physical explanation leaving a residue of subjectivity that proves intractable. Hence the project of everywhere 'bracketing off' subjectivity. For example, it seems perfectly conceivable that machines could communicate with one another about things in the world in a language replete with referring terms such as proper names. However, their kind of intentionality would lack the element of subjectivity that we normally associate with the term.

David Brightly said...

... then in positing an "awareness", are we not positing some kind of dualism? I don’t think so. I think of the predicate 'is aware of X' in this special sense as an abstraction from concrete observations: A tree slows its growth rate in winter. Therefore, it is aware of the seasons. A rock shows no change from month to month. Therefore it is unaware of the seasons. Generally, if something happens inside an individual that causally correlates with something happening outside then that individual is aware of that outside something.

B. Prokop said...

"Generally, if something happens inside an individual that causally correlates with something happening outside then that individual is aware of that outside something."

An electron changes its course when it comes into the vicinity of a proton, and heads toward the proton. In a similar manner, when it approaches another electron it will alter its course to move away from it. At no point is there any physical contact between the particles. Therefore, the electron is somehow "aware" of the presence of other particles.

But it does not appear to have any choice in the matter of how it will react to this awareness.

David Brightly said...

No, an electron has no internal structure. It lacks the wherewithal to reflect internally changes in its proximity to other particles. So an electron has no awareness.

B. Prokop said...

Then how does it know how to react to the vicinity of another particle?

Ilíon said...

How does a radioactive atom, such as C14, know when its particular half-life is up? To put it another way, how does an individual C14 atom know that it can't "go off" just yet, given that a C14 atom on the other side of the world just did, since if it were to do so that would "violate" the half-life ratio of C14 to C12?

David Brightly said...

1. How does a rock know how to fall down a mountain!

2. The discussion is about the implications of physicalism. In particular, is it consistent with choice and responsibility? So we are assuming a physicalistic world view. Such a view gets by without asking how particles 'know' how to behave. It merely describes how they do in fact behave.

3. It's not clear how the phenomenon I'm calling---for want of a better word---'awareness' relates to the phenomenon we call 'knowledge'. Obviously, I think that awareness is a kind of primitive knowledge, minus the subjective factor we normally associate with that term. But some things are just too simple to possess knowledge. I'm not advocating a 'pan-cognitivism'.

B. Prokop said...

"a physicalistic world view ... merely describes how they do in fact behave"

So-o-o, it doesn't actually explain anything, right?
It's basically on the order of
Q: "Why is the sky blue?"
A: "Because it is!"

Gyan said...

B Prokop,
"Then how does it know how to react to the vicinity of another particle?"

The term "know" does not apply to electrons. Electron, not being a person, can not be said to "know" anything. Physicists use these terms in a loose sense but we should not be carried away by their usage.

Gyan said...

B Prokop,
"it doesn't actually explain anything, right? "
sure it does. That sky is blue has actually been explained: molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light. Why the molecules do so is also understood.

Miguel Corleone said...

Hey David, thanks for the response! A bit difficult to wrap my mind around though.

David Brightly said...

Getting back to the main argument, here is a suggestion that may be relevant: the terms 'choice' and 'responsible for' have a weak sense and a strong sense. The weak sense of 'choice' is the objective one I outlined above. The bacterium can swim towards the light or away from the light. Depending on circumstance, it chooses one or the other. The weak sense of 'responsible for' is 'causes', as when I say that my neighbour's leylandii are responsible for the arid patch on my side of the garden fence. The strong senses are the weak senses with an additional factor: the sense that the subject is subjectively aware (standard meaning) of the choice or responsibility. The strong senses contain an essentially mental component and apply only to human subjects, but the weak senses apply to non-human animals, plants, inanimate things, even events like the weather.

Victor's argument has the feel of a reductio ad absurdum because we take the senses of 'choose' and 'responsible for' to be the strong ones. There would be no contradiction if we took the weak senses. But this we cannot do (without deliberate effort). Our ordinary conception of ourselves is intrinsically dualistic, with a physical component and a mental component. The mental component may supervene on the physical but we cannot see how. We observe ourselves making choices and being responsible for actions (weak senses) but have no understanding of how this happens. Accordingly, we postulate an entity outside the physical realm that is the source of choice and responsibility. It's this entity that chooses and is responsible in the strong senses and to which we refer collectively as 'we' in passages like Victor's post. In effect, the argument equivocates on 'we' between a physical sense (our bodies) and a mental one, and between the corresponding weak and strong senses of 'choice' and 'responsibility'.

Victor Reppert said...

But can you support concepts such as praiseworthiness and blameworthiness on the "weak" sense?
Can you support the idea of "belief based on evidence" in this way? I don't think so. Strict naturalism is bound to treat the strong sense as an illusion.

David Brightly said...

These are hard questions. Some initial thoughts: We praise and blame very little children when they do and don't say their pleases and thankyous, but this is surely more akin to conditioning by reward and punishment, with smiles and glowers being instinctively understood as such. This would be the weak sense of praise and blame. At some point in our childhood we 'get' the concept of being an autonomous individual with free will and I suspect the strong adult concepts of praise and blame are somehow dependent on this earlier notion. Similarly, I think that as young children we must simply accept what parents and others tell us and act on it. At some point we 'get' the concept that we are agents acting on beliefs largely supplied by others, and that we can be deceived by them, for good or ill. We lose our innocence. From then on we are cautious and seek ways of verifying what we learn by description from others. So there is a weak sense of belief as some internal representation that somehow guides action and a strong sense in which I recognise my belief as mine, that I can hold it up and examine it, and maybe discard it and even challenge its source.

I think it's a mistake to see these strong senses, under the pressure of physicalism, as illusory. That's not the right word. They are no more illusory than are the colour and solidity of Eddington's table under pressure from the scientific image. They are the concepts in which are lives are immersed and without which we can hardly be. Maybe we are obliged to be dualists in some sense, but not Cartesians.

grodrigues said...

@David Brightly:

"The weak sense of 'choice' is the objective one I outlined above. The bacterium can swim towards the light or away from the light. Depending on circumstance, it chooses one or the other. The weak sense of 'responsible for' is 'causes', as when I say that my neighbour's leylandii are responsible for the arid patch on my side of the garden fence."

From which it entails that every substance with causal powers (that is everything, from an electron to a human being) is responsible in the weak sense, ergo the weak sense is irrelevant, contrary to your expectation.

And it is irrelevant for a second reason; your neighbor is a cause but an *instrumental* one (on naturalism). His actions, his causal power, is made possible and actual, by causes external to him and in principle traceable back to the Big Bang. If I coerce your neighbor to kill you, your neighbor is still the cause of your death, but moral responsability lies on me, which is precisely what you cannot say. By the same logic, on physicalism, no one is truly responsible for their actions. And this shows by the way, why there is no equivocation going on in Victor's post.

Now you could object here that your neighbor, in being coerced, was acting against his will so there is a difference. But to justify that difference you need what you yourself called the "strong" sense of responsability. And even then it does *not* work, because on naturalism your wills and desires are also determined by forces external to you.

"Our ordinary conception of ourselves is intrinsically dualistic, with a physical component and a mental component. The mental component may supervene on the physical but we cannot see how. We observe ourselves making choices and being responsible for actions (weak senses) but have no understanding of how this happens. Accordingly, we postulate an entity outside the physical realm that is the source of choice and responsibility."

In here it is summarized with uncommon clarity why both naturalism and Cartesian dualism are really siblings, the daughter of the same error (roughly, a mechanist conception of the universe at large, and of human nature in general). Cartesians posit a *proper* part of the human being, necessarily immaterial, as the seat of the mental powers. The naturalist, a dualist of sorts, takes the brain, a *proper* part of the human being, and endows it with magical properties that allows him to be the seat of our rational capacities.

A pox on both houses.

Hal said...

"In here it is summarized with uncommon clarity why both naturalism and Cartesian dualism are really siblings, the daughter of the same error (roughly, a mechanist conception of the universe at large, and of human nature in general). Cartesians posit a *proper* part of the human being, necessarily immaterial, as the seat of the mental powers. The naturalist, a dualist of sorts, takes the brain, a *proper* part of the human being, and endows it with magical properties that allows him to be the seat of our rational capacities.

A pox on both houses.


Bingo. Those holding the mind to be an immaterial substance interacting with the human body and those holding the mind to be a physical substance (in this case, the brain) interacting with the human body share the same mistaken presuppositions.

David Brightly said...

'Weak responsibility', aka 'cause', is irrelevant? Can A be responsible for B without some causal connection between them? Example?

I have put forward two senses for 'responsibility'. Now we have in addition 'moral responsibility' and 'true responsibility'. Yet we can show that, in an argument leading to paradox, there is no equivocation on 'responsibility'?

Nobody has explained why, in a causally closed physicalistic world, provided that this allows thought and feeling, there cannot be creatures like us whose lives are guided by conceptions of choice and responsibility. I agree it's a big proviso, but that's altogether another question.

grodrigues said...

@David Brightly:

"I have put forward two senses for 'responsibility'. Now we have in addition 'moral responsibility' and 'true responsibility'. Yet we can show that, in an argument leading to paradox, there is no equivocation on 'responsibility'?"

If this is in response to what I wrote, there is really nothing to add to what I said earlier because whatever it is, it is not an actual response.

But I will still add this. So *you* makle (an irrelevant) distinction between two senses of responsibility (I have not added any, contrary to what you *seem* to be implying) and on that count charge the OP with "equivocation"? Methinks that you do not know how equivocation works.

"Nobody has explained why, in a causally closed physicalistic world, provided that this allows thought and feeling, there cannot be creatures like us whose lives are guided by conceptions of choice and responsibility."

Are you asking why in a "causally closed physicalistic world", provided it allows for selves with rational thought and choice (for reasons I will not go over, rational though is the pre-condition, both necessary and sufficient, for Free Will), there cannot be creatures like us, selves with the capacity for thought and the power of choice? What type of answer are you expecting?

David Brightly said...

OK. Let's not pursue the relevance question. One difficulty we face is that Victor's argument is highly compressed. He says, Nor are we responsible for the necessary consequences of the physical. I think this must be intended as a common assumption concerning our nature and the physical and some sense of 'responsibility'. Suppose I drop a glass a metre above a stone floor. That the glass beaks seems to be a necessary consequence of the physical. But aren't I responsible for breaking the glass? If it were your glass, I'd apologise. So can we bring out the sense of the quoted sentence so as to make it true? I contend that this requires considerable expansion on the meaning of 'responsible', which is where I came in.

Ilíon said...

David Brightly: "Nobody has explained why, in a causally closed physicalistic world, provided that this allows thought and feeling, there cannot be creatures like us whose lives are guided by conceptions of choice and responsibility. I agree it's a big proviso, but that's altogether another question."

This absurdity, this anti-logical and anti-ratiional bullshit, never stops with these people.

Time and time again, many ot the "theists" who comment here have explained just why it is that "in a causally closed physicalistic world ... there cannot be creatures like us whose lives are guided by conceptions of choice and responsibility"

So, how does the "high-information" 'atheist' deal with these many arguments, over many months and years, showing that his worldview is utterly false to what we *all* know to be true about our own individual selves? Why, he just ramps up the illogic -- "Nobody has explained why, in a causally closed physicalistic world, [if we assert that 'causally closed physicalistic world' does not entail absolute determinism], there cannot be creatures like us whose lives are guided by conceptions of choice and responsibility. I agree it's a big proviso, but that's altogether another question."

Well, yes. If we assert that 'A' = 'not-A', then we can "reason" our way to any "conclusion" that we wish.

These "high-information" pretend-atheists are not stupid, and they are not ignorant ... they are intellectually dishonest.

grodrigues said...

@David Brightly:

"That the glass beaks seems to be a necessary consequence of the physical. But aren't I responsible for breaking the glass? If it were your glass, I'd apologise. So can we bring out the sense of the quoted sentence so as to make it true? I contend that this requires considerable expansion on the meaning of 'responsible', which is where I came in."

And I contend that I have already addressed this; but it is now obvious that you are not addressing or responding to me (or anyone recognizable actually) so there is nothing to add.