Wednesday, July 10, 2024

How did the argument from evil get to be strong?

 From C. S Lewis; 

It would be an error to reply that our ancestors were ignorant and therefore entertained pleasing illusions about nature which the progress of science has since dispelled. For centuries, during which all men believed, the nightmare size and emptiness of the universe was already known. You will read in some books that the men of the Middle Ages thought the Earth flat and the stars near, but that is a lie. Ptolemy had told them that the Earth was a mathematical point without size in relation to the distance of the fixed stars—a distance which one mediƦval popular text estimates as a  hundred and seventeen million miles. And in times yet earlier, even from the beginnings, men must have got the same sense of hostile immensity from a more obvious source. To prehistoric man the neighbouring forest must have been infinite enough, and the utterly alien and infest which we have to fetch from the thought of cosmic rays and cooling suns, came snuffing and howling nightly to his very doors. Certainly at all periods the pain and waste of human life was equally obvious. Our own religion begins among the Jews, a people squeezed between great warlike empires, continually defeated and led captive, familiar as Poland or Armenia with the tragic story of the conquered. It is mere nonsense to put pain among the discoveries of science. Lay down this book and reflect for five minutes on the fact that all the great religions were first preached, and long practised, in a world without chloroform.

Friday, June 14, 2024

stable laws

 If God did not exist, would the universe have stable laws. Minds prefer order, so we should expect stsble lsws if theism is true. But why doesn't the law of gravity quit on us ast some point? Since the laws are stable, doesn't that suggest a Bayesian argument for theism? 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

From Facebbok

Yesterday my kids asked what the world would look like if God did not exist.
What would you say?

Monday, May 20, 2024

Lewis and Nagel


In Lewis’s essay “Meditation in a  Toolshed Lewis distinguishes between looking ay and looking along.  Looking at is the third person scientific perspective, looking along is looking from the first person perspective. This is the issue that is the subject of Thomas Nagel’s famous “What it is Like to Be a Bat.” Many, from J. B. Watson to Patricia Churchland, have argued the uselessness of introspection as sub-scientific. Lewis, like Nagel, argues that this kind of dismissiveness cannot be sustained, and he does sao on the grounds that to do so would undermine the very reasoning process that grounds the scientific argument on which the dismissal is based.  He writes:

Having been so often deceived by looking along, are we not well advised to trust only to looking at? in fact to discount all these inside experiences? Well, no. There are two fatal objections to discounting them all. And the first is this. You discount them in order to think more accurately. But you can't think at all - and therefore, of course, can't think accurately - if you have nothing to think about. A physiologist, for example, can study pain and find out that it “is” (whatever is means) such and such neural events. But the word pain would have no meaning for him unless he had “been inside” by actually suffering. If he had never looked along pain he simply wouldn't know what he was looking at. The very subject for his inquiries from outside exists for him only because he has, at least once, been inside. This case is not likely to occur, because every man has felt pain. But it is perfectly easy to go on all your life giving explanations of religion, love, morality, honour, and the like, without having been inside any of them. And if you do that, you are simply playing with counters. You go on explaining a thing without knowing what it is. That is why a great deal of contemporary thought is, strictly speaking, thought about nothing - all the apparatus of thought busily working in a vacuum. The other objection is this: let us go back to the toolshed. I might have discounted what I saw when looking along the beam (i.e., the leaves moving and the sun) on the ground that it was “really only a strip of dusty light in a dark shed”. That is, I might have set up as “true” my “side vision” of the beam. But then that side vision is itself an instance of the activity we call seeing. And this new instance could also be looked at from outside. I could allow a scientist to tell me that what seemed to be a beam of light in a shed was “really only an agitation of my own optic nerves”. And that would be just as good (or as bad) a bit of debunking as the previous one. The picture of the beam in the toolshed would now have to be discounted just as the previous picture of the trees and the sun had been discounted. And then, where are you? In other words, you can step outside one experience only by stepping inside another. Therefore, if all inside experiences are misleading, we are always misled. The cerebral physiologist may say, if he chooses, that the mathematician's thought is “only” tiny physical movements of the grey matter. But then what about the cerebral physiologist's own thought at that very moment? A second physiologist, looking at it, could pronounce it also to be only tiny physical movements in the first physiologist's skull. Where is the rot to end? The answer is that we must never allow the rot to begin. We must, on pain of idiocy, deny from the very outset the idea that looking at is, by its own nature, intrinsically truer or better than looking along. One must look both along and at everything. In particular cases we shall find reason for regarding the one or the other vision as inferior. Thus the inside vision of rational thinking must be truer than the outside vision which sees only movements of the grey matter; for if the outside vision were the correct one all thought (including this thought itself) would be valueless, and this is self-contradictory. You cannot have a proof that no proofs matter. On the other hand, the inside vision of the savage's dance to Nyonga may be found deceptive because we find reason to believe that crops and babies are not really affected by it. In fact, we must take each case on its merits. But we must start with no prejudice for or against either kind of looking. We do not know in advance 3 whether the lover or the psychologist is giving the more correct account of love, or whether both accounts are equally correct in different ways, or whether both are equally wrong. We just have to find out. But the period of brow-beating has got to end.t


















Saturday, April 13, 2024

Cause and effect

If determinism is  true, the cause has to guarantee the effect. We often use the word "cause" to refer to things that influence,

but do not guarantee the effect, If determinism is true there are causes going back before you were born

that guarantee what you do now.

Anscombe Essay on causality and determination.

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Fallacy of composition?

 1. Every molecule of the planet Saturn occupies space.

2. Therefore , Saturn occupies space.
Fallacy of composition?

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Burdens of proof

 Is there a burden of proof concerning the existence of burdens of proof?