Saturday, May 21, 2022

Bertrand Russell on the search for causes

. A man may look for gold without assuming that there is gold everywhere; if he finds gold, well and good, if he doesn't he's had bad luck. The same is true when the physicists look for causes. --Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Is the law of non-contradiction a source of intolerance?

 Christians assert certain things. That is what being a Christian means. They assert that God exist, that Jesus rose from the dead, that God gave the Ten Commandments, etc. That means they are, by definition, also maintaing that the claim that God does not exist, the claim that Jesus did not rise form the dead, and the claim that God did not give the ten commandments, are false. If you affirm one claim,you deny its contradictory. That is what it means to say something. It is not tolerant, but incoherent, to maintain both that Jesus rose from the dead, and that Jesus did not rose from the dead. The same is going to be true if you, for example, believe that evolution is true, or that tthe 2020 election was not stolen, or if you believe that vaccines are an effective response to COVID-19 that people ought to receive if they can. If you believe these things, then you believe that it is false to say that evolution is false, it is false to say that the 2020 election was stolen, and it is false to say that vaccines are an effective response to COVID-19 that people ought to receive if they can. 

The law of noncontradiction is not intolerance. it is simple logic.

Now, what do we think of people who hold false positions? Are Christians harsher to people who disagree with them that non-Christians? I wonder what the evidence is for that kind of a claim? It is true that for lots of people,including Christians, the truth matters. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Explaining the sixth commandment

 Does the moral requirement not to kill innocent people require explanation? If so, what would it be? If you say that God has commanded us not to kill innocent people, what is His explanation for why he gave such a command. (The Bible does seem to include commands to kill innocent people, see I Sam. 15:3 as an example). Can he justify the Sixth Commandment? If so, how? If he can't, is his commandment invalid?

One response to this would be to ask "Are you saved? If you were, why would you dare ask such a question?" I find that the more I understand why something is wrong, the easier it is for me to avoid doing what is wrong.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The similarity between polytheism and atheism

 A famous quote from Stephen Roberts says "I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” If you look at that quotation, it would appear that monotheism is more similar to atheism than polytheism. But in another important sense, atheism and polytheism are similar. Both polytheists and atheists believe that what controls events in the universe, what will determine everyone’s ultimate destiny, has not interest in right or wrong. The causal structure of the world is morally indifferent, in the case of polytheism because there are many deities but none with ultimate power or moral authority, and in the case of atheism because events in the universe are ultimately purposeless, and once again no being is morally authoritative. The monotheistic religions and philosophies maintain, by contrast, that events in the universe are aimed at a moral purpose, moving toward a final triumph of righteousness.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Hugh Chandler, RIP

My doctoral dissertation advisor, Hugh Chandler, passed away on New Year's day. Most professional philosophers would have discouraged me from writing a dissertation on C. S. Lewis's argument against naturalism, but Chandler directed mine. Our numerous conversations made my defense of Lewis's argument possible. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Tax fairness and the "free" market

 How free is our market, really? Let's look at that tax loophole mentioned in this article. Corporations have to be taxed one way or another. Why not tax them in such a way that they are encouraged to pay their executives in an ethical manner?

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Logic: An extra-sensory perception?

 The cat is on the mat. That's a relation. I perceive the cat on top and the mat below it. Now, without any of our five sense to produce this perception, we somehow perceive entailment relationships. We don't have science, mathematics, or philosophical arguments for naturalism unless we can do this. As Lewis puts it, it must be the case that one thought can cause another thought not by being, but by being seen to be a ground for it. That mean's the fact of A's being the ground for B, or even A's entailing B, has to be central to the production of our belief that B. But if look at the forces in the universe that physicalism allows, that kind of fact is ruled out as a possible cause for anything. We have a perception of logical relationship, and since it can't be a sensory perception, it has to be an extra-sensory perception. How is THAT naturalistically possible?