Friday, December 30, 2011

Hitchens, Dawkins, and Craig

As I have said, I never thought it was realistic to expect a deathbed conversion from Christopher Hitchens.  But for all his ill-informed ranting and raving on the subject of religion, Hitchens was capable of showing a manful, basic decency toward the other side in a way some other New Atheists are not.  Consider these remarks by Hitchens about William Lane Craig, prior to their debate:


And compare them to the cringe-makingly dishonest tactics employed by Richard Dawkins in avoiding the public debate with Craig that he so obviously fears, and to these remarks:


(Hat tip to Peter Byrom for calling my attention to Hitchens’ comments.   Peter is the guy in the second clip asking Dawkins the question about Craig.)

Dawkins is a petty man.  Hitchens was not that.

183 comments:

Crude said...

I just have one question. Well, two.

A) Is that a water bottle Hitchens is holding?

B) If so, what are the odds there's actually water in it?

Anonymous said...

And that is why, of all the NA squad, Hitchins is the only one that will be remembered posthumously by both sides in anything like a fond way.

Tim Lambert said...

Did Hitchens ever give an opinion on Dawkins?
Hitchens seems like the kind of guy who wouldn't just be your friend because you happened to hold the same views.

I'd be curious to hear his opinion on Dawkins.
or on Harris.

man with a computer said...

[...] remembered posthumously by both sides in anything like a fond way.

I don't know, it is very hard to please these people. You can spend decades advocating their views, but one step in the opposite direction and you're out. Antony Flew is now 'forgotten', Ayer is discussed with caution, etc. Even Dawkins had a small falling out with his disciples after the infamous elevator incident (he was right, by the way).

What a quixotic movement. So much for being rational and all that.

Tim Lambert said...

Found this from an interview Hugh Hewitt had with Peter Hitchens (Christopher's Anglican brother):

"He’s more and more amiable in the past year or so, I think. And he’s made some remarks, I mean, a few months ago, he was at the Hay Festival, and he made some very generous remarks about my book. And he also said that maybe his hostility to religion was, I don’t want to, there’s a link on the Hay Festival site, and I also put it on my own blog, which you can find if you look up, oddly enough, Isfahan, the Iranian town, because what he said roughly was that he wondered if it might not be a failure of imagination on his part that he’d been so unsympathetic. And also, the interviewer asked him whether he thought that religion was wholly unredeemed. And he said no, of course not. I’ve seen Isfahan. Now I also have seen Isfahan, which is one of those most beautiful places on Earth. And it’s obviously the work of people who believe profoundly in God. So I was intrigued by that remark, and I’ve put it up on my blog, having transcribed it from the Hay Festival website. Of course, I thought that people should know about that. But oddly enough, as is so often the case with important things, and nobody even seemed to be interested in it."

Tim Lambert said...

manwithcomputer,

What was the elevator incident with Dawkins?

man with a computer said...

Tim,

Here. Follow the reference links for details.

Anonymous said...

@Man With A Computer:

It's rather ironic, I think, that the extreme ostracism and ridicule that former atheists receive when they change their mind in the slightest is the exact sort of attitude that the self-same atheists condemn in religion. Ironic, but not unexpected, to be sure.

I would call them impossible to please, rather than difficult. Practically by the very nature of the case, these types of atheists are misanthropic in the extreme. Here I refer, of course, to the atheist equivalent of the charming folks at Westboro. I grant that there are some atheists and agnostics who are pretty fair-minded when it comes to discussion and debate of this matter. One isn't likely to find these types on the internet, though. If Hitchens were to have converted at some point - whether he did or not is not something that I am in a position to judge with anything approaching accuracy, though I think it's unlikely - he would likely have been shunned and belabored at long, long length by the atheist fundies. The more fair-minded members of his camp might actually seriously deal with that possibility, rather than dismissing it out of hand.

And we shouldn't be surprised that irrationality follows from this kind of atheism. The whole NA movement seems to be some bizarre, ultimate form of adolescent rebellion. If you're rebelling against authority, why not go all the way to the top, after all? There are some - at least on the face of it - good arguments and reasons to at least consider the possibility of atheism. But the kind of atheism advocated by the Trite Trio (or Duplicitous Duo, if you exclude Dennett) is far closer to the "punk" movement of the 1970s than it is to, say, the Enlightenment. At least the Enlightenment people now how to make a proper logical argument.

Tim Lambert said...

Wow...
Watson is a nut if that's how she interpretted that incident.

Cheers to Dawkins.

Tim Lambert said...

Crazy with this Rebecca Watson.
I've never heard of her before.
Kind of find it odd that Dawkins felt the need to comment on anything she'd say. But, maybe she carries more clout in the atheistic community that I would have thought.

But think of it - if there was a notable theist proponent who argued for that metaphysic and his or her background was "once a street juggler and magician"...
imagine the reaction of the atheist community.

DNW said...

Tim Lambert said...

Wow...
Watson is a nut if that's how she interpretted that incident.

Cheers to Dawkins.

December 30, 2011 1:34 PM"

Atheism is one thing. You are either convinced by some experience or argument, or you are not. But there's something screwy with this whole other movement. It's not about unbelief, so much as a kind of absurd "dogmatic skepticism", if one might be allowed to use such an oxymoronic term.

It's replete with creeds and professions and demonstrations of social allegiance and faith, and a kind of excruciating to observe juvenile desire to be "cool" through the adoption of what are imagined to be fashionable poses.

I can't believe that adults - supposedly intellectuals - really behave like this.

Skepchick? Pig tails? These people are like humans trying to metamorphose into goddamned cartoon characters.

Would anyone who had slogged through Outlines of Pyrrhonism in college, trying to make sense of the supposed "logic", and to grasp the utility of such an attitude, seriously hang the label of "skeptic" (even nowadays) around their own neck as if it were some kind of historic badge of valor or honor?

Could this possibly have as much a psychological and emotional (cite Ayer's charming admission to Magee years ago), as intellectual, component to it?

I shudder to think what such a social truth would entail for anyone seeking the "truth".

Tim Lambert said...

Let them have their hipster "SkepChick".... I'm more than please with an G.E.M. Anscombe on this side.

shane said...

Anonymous,

How can something be both expected and ironic?

Tim Lambert said...

Shane,
Irony isn't necessarily something that is unexpected.

I could imagine some kind of ironic insight as being as obvious as day light. And the following utterance of that irony as being expected.... by another who also noticed it.

Birdieupon said...

Somebody mention Dawkins and the elevator?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdSX4ndFNy0

;-)

Anonymous said...

"Even Dawkins had a small falling out with his disciples after the infamous elevator incident (he was right, by the way)."

Dawkins was right about the elevator incident? A male should not proposition a female stranger to go into his room when they are all alone in an elevator at 4am. It's not a huge moral failing by any means, and is no sufficient reason for harridans to shriek incessantly about "rape" and the "patriarchy," but still bespeaks a defective sense of etiquette and a complete lack of tact.

Anonymous said...

In one sense it can't. Something entirely expected wouldn't be quite ironic - at least, from the point of view of the person expecting it. So in that sense, I concede that it's a paradox.

However, I believe that one can also use irony to denote an incongruity between what should be and what is. In this case, I think that it shouldn't be surprising that people of the NA persuasion should be entirely inconsistent. However, while I expect ironic things from them as a matter of course - that is, they consistently do and say things that have a rather dichotomous element to them, especially in terms of honesty and dishonesty - I may not have expected a particular irony from them.

That is to say, while in retrospect one might say that something of a certain kind was to be expected given the factors interacting, a particular event or situation was not expected - at least in the sense of having foreknowledge of that particular thing. So, while I might expect in principle that a certain person or group of people might do something - in this case, behave in a way that they claim to despise and hate -, I might not have similar knowledge as to the particulars of the case. Granted, this all has a ring to it that hearkens back to the old phrase, "expect the unexpected," which is a little paradoxical. The phrase, however, means to generally be on guard for something unexpected. Similarly, I might be expecting something ironic to happen, but it would only cease to be ironic if I had complete foreknowledge of the actual event.

Or I might be arguing in a circle. This is more a justification than anything else, to be sure, and thus is a little ad hoc. I probably should have been rather more clear and substituted "hypocritical" or "inconsistent" for "ironic". I've made no claim to perfection. :)

Ann Olivier said...

For HItchens admirers, here's a poignent eulogy from the WaPo On Faith blog. It's by his friend Francis Collins. Collins is the MD head of NIH who led the Human Genome Project. He was an agnostic, then converted to Christianity. However, he and Hitchens remained friends, and during Hitchens' last illness they became particularly close.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/in-remembrance-of-my-friend-hitch/2011/12/18/gIQAHxMx2O_blog.html

Anonymous said...

Here is the most honest eulogy of Hitchens I've come across. Gives him credit where credit is due, while never failing to call him out on his many defective personal traits and to resist painting him as some sort of "great thinker" that will be remembered for a long time to come.

http://www.beretta-online.com/wordpress/2011/hitch-being-dead-does-not-make-him-any-more-noble/

man with a computer said...

Dawkins was right about the elevator incident? A male should not proposition a female stranger to go into his room when they are all alone in an elevator at 4am. It's not a huge moral failing by any means, and is no sufficient reason for harridans to shriek incessantly about "rape" and the "patriarchy," but still bespeaks a defective sense of etiquette and a complete lack of tact.

Of course a man should not do that. It's on the level of the awkward episodes high schoolers talk about all the time. That's the kind of thing that someone who has never interacted with the fairer sex would do.

But Dawkins never disputed that. His point was that it was a petty thing compared to what happens to other women around the world, and certainly not something you to write 888 blog posts about. He didn't buy all the talk about "feeling sexualized" and whatnot just because some unattractive dork mumbled an awkward pick-up attempt at her. This is the kind of "incident" that women usually gossip and laugh about, not the kind that provokes angry YouTubes.

J5 said...

The atheist morality of a man not hitting on a woman?? Because it makes the woman feeling sexualized?
Cute.

man with a computer said...

Anon 1:31P and DNW,

That's exactly where I disagree with those who label the NAs as quasi-religious or cultish. It's a shallow and inaccurate criticism and it doesn't get you anywhere close to understanding its nature, which I find interesting because they maintain a more-or-less uniform narrative despite lacking a strong authority and explicit structure.

Having spent some good time observing their behavior on Internet forums and social networks, reading the screeds they post on their blogs, watching their videos, etc. I'm always reminded of the new personality type that Christopher Lasch described in the 1970s -- overly concerned with external validation, status-seeking, with a heightened sense of self-worth, lacking historical sense, etc. Combine that with a seductive worldview that lets the individual claim a position of superiority in moral and intellectual matters (militant atheism is just one among many; marxism, libertarianism, veganism, etc. have similar potency) and you get some interesting individuals.

I was amused when the elevator incident came to light, because for anyone with a bit of malice it is quite obvious that a lot of the rage directed at Dawkins' haughty mockery was fake, and exploited for moral pontification and self-promotion by Watson and a few dozens of batsh*t mouth-breathing feminists, indignation-addicted liberals and lonely nerds (of the "men are douchebags but I'm not like that" kind). All this because some awkward kid did something awkward and dumb? Yeah, right.

I'm with Feser here: bring back the old style atheism. At least guys like Nietzsche and Schopenhauer understood the consequences of their views, could structure an argument and had somewhat interesting personalities, unspoiled by the vapid pseudo-moralism and science fanboyism.

Anonymous said...

@ Man With A Computer

I agree. There is more profundity, intelligence and philosophical substance in ten paragraphs of The Plague than in the entire collected works of the NAs - not to mention infinitely more honesty.
Even in his fiction, Camus made far more sense than the insipid "non-fiction" written by our so-called intellectuals.

And I think it's wrong to characterize the movement as a religion or cult. It's got less in common with a religious institution than it does the jock caste in high school. The insults and the posturing are the same - the only thing that has changed is the means of intimidation and ridicule. And, like so much else, I expect it's just history repeating itself. The bullied becomes the bully, and all that.

Crude said...

a man with a computer,

That's exactly where I disagree with those who label the NAs as quasi-religious or cultish. It's a shallow and inaccurate criticism and it doesn't get you anywhere close to understanding its nature, which I find interesting because they maintain a more-or-less uniform narrative despite lacking a strong authority and explicit structure.

As someone who regularly refers to the NAs as the Cult and Cultists of Gnu, I'll throw in my own thoughts on this matter.

What primarily differentiates a cult from a mere religion, in my understanding, is behavior, attitude and obsession. A man who believes that there is one God and Mohammed is his prophet is religious. A man who, on any given day, can be expected to be spending all his free time (and even a chunk of his work time) frantically attacking anyone who does not agree with him about Mohammed - and regarding anyone who does not join him in these attacks as a traitor - is a cultist. A man who likes to read up on muslim apologetics to bolster his faith is religious. A man who will defend or at least treat as reasonable any claim or idea in favor of Islam, no matter how whack-ass (9/11 didn't really happen, it was an international jewish conspiracy to paint muslims bad, those terrorists were all jews and maybe Christians), is a cultist. A man who is greatly offended that a blasphemous picture of Mohammed was drawn in the newspaper is religious. A man who regards A Flintstone Christmas Carol as 'Christian propaganda' and demands equal time to show art of Barney Rubble in hell, is a cultist.

I have to call things as I see them, and when it comes to the NAs - far too many of them in these comboxes - they fit the cultist bill. They (like many marxists, vegans, feminists, and otherwise) see conflicts everywhere. They obsess. They exaggerate, they pontificate, they attack, attack, attack, they rarely understand or try to understand those who disagree, and in fact view attempting to understand those who agree with suspicion. And if you think, 'Well, that guy I disagree with - I disagree with him, but I think he's reasonable all told, he just has different fundamental understandings than I do'? Enjoy what in any deeply religious community would be called shunning. But with more expletives.

Frankly, I think most of what animates the cultists has little to do with religion or God anyway. Religion is usually a proxy for other things, often political issues, sometimes personal issues. People are complicated. But being complicated is no barrier to being a cultist.

That's my two cents on it all. And as I always say, not every atheist is a cultist of Gnu, just as not every irreligious is an atheist. But at the end of the day, I have to call it as I see it.

Pseudo-Augustine said...

Dawkins is a coward, and has probably realized that he stepped into a world that he knew nothing about. Dawkins knows he would be an embarrassment to himself, which puts him in a catch 22: Either debate Craig and be embarrassed, or hide and be embarrassed. Not a comfortable position to be in...

Maolsheachlann said...

I think the difference might be that Hitchens was a writer. If you dismiss theism as completely barbarous and worthless, you are shutting the door to Milton and Blake and Yeats and Dante and TS Eliot and hundreds of other great writers. An appreciation of nuance and ambiguity is essential for any literary taste, and scientism leaves no room for that. Dawkins did say that somebody with no knowledge of the Bible was essentially a barbarian, and seems rather au fait with the classics, but it doesn't seem to moderate his hostility to religion at all. Ultimately, at bottom, I don't think there is any other subject for art except man's quest for the Divine.

Eric said...

"Did Hitchens ever give an opinion on Dawkins?"

This may be relevant.

Hitchens (from the clip): "If I could convince [everyone in the world] to be a non-believer, and I'd really done brilliantly, and there's only one left, one more, and then it'd be done. There'd be no more religion in the world. No more deism, theism -- I wouldn't do it. And Dawkins said, "What do you mean you wouldn't do it?" And I said, "I don't quite know why I wouldn't do it." And it's not just because there'd be nothing left to argue with and no one left to argue with. It's not just that. Though it would be that. Somehow if I could drive it out of the world, I wouldn't. And the incredulity with which he [Dawkins] looked at me, stays with me still. I've got to say."

Now did it stay with him in the same way that a favorite professor's look of disappointment may stay with someone, or did it stay with him because he saw in that moment the fatal lack of what we might call 'imagination' or 'wonder' or 'sense of mystery' implicit in Dawkins's take on the world and on the human condition that Hitchens, as a man of letters, would surely be keenly aware of? Or was it something else entirely?

I tend to think that Hitchens's intimate acquaintance with the great literature of the Western world is what in large part kept him from being too much like Dawkins. It seems to me that someone who knows -- who really knows, that is, which of course involves more than mere familiarity with -- Aeschylus and Milton and Shakespeare and Goethe and Waugh and authors like them is going to find it more difficult to sign up without reservation to Dawkins's take on the world than someone whose predilections and education were focused primarily on the natural sciences.

man with a computer said...

Well, guys, happy new year.

And you, TruthOverfaith, don't do this time what you always do.

Anonymous said...

Hey man_with_a_computer, Happy New Year to you 2! Hope your knee's also better!

Edward Feser said...

Guys. Let's make "Don't feed the trolls" a New Year's resolution, OK?

All the same, I couldn't bring myself to delete man with a computer's latest response. Good one!

Richard said...

Since the discussion is the New Atheists, I thought that I would point out an interview with Dan Dennet that P.Z. put up on his website over at freethoughtblogs. Daniel talks about his work talking to clergy who find that they have no faith, then goes on to talk about the importance of his work and the work of the other Horsemen. He also states that there have been no rebuttals to their work that they should take seriously. It's worth a look.

Anonymous said...

"Since the discussion is the New Atheists, I thought that I would point out an interview with Dan Dennet that P.Z. put up on his website over at freethoughtblogs."

Sure, there's a name for this. Bluster. There's plenty - impossible amounts - that Dennett and PZ need to rebut. But to actually rebut those arguments and claims would do them no good, since they'd see how tenuous their positions are. So the hope is that they can ignore and fake their way through it.

It's especially funny since Dennett disparages in the grossest terms people who disagrees with him, but when they argue back, he acts like the master whiner.

Anonymous said...

This is doubly amusing since Dennett is the horsemen everyone forgets. Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins are given far more respect than Dennett, since philosophers are (materialist or otherwise) written off as BSers. So Dennett's got an audience of nearly zero.

BeingItself said...

Here is the panel discussion Hitch was referring to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4frOWZjvh0

Hitchens and many secular folk admire WLC for his debating and rhetorical skill. But like most apologists, Craig is intellectually bankrupt and essentially dishonest. Just read his train wreck Reasonable Faith.

Dawkins' idiotic excuse for not debating him is transparently dishonest as well, and is a low point in his intellectual life, imo.

Anonymous said...

BeingItself why do you say "Craig is intellectually bankrupt and essentially dishonest."

Could you show how he is those things?

Anonymous said...

@ Crude

But that's certainly the point, isn't it? The behavioural element of what you label the "cultist" type applied specifically to the NAs is virulent disrespect towards anyone who professes belief in God in general, and Christianity in particular. Though this is one of the defining characteristics of the NAs, I think it would be a mistake to say that such attitudes are engendered simply by subscription to that school of non-thought. Rather, an established social group that has as one of its rules being an obnoxious ass to anyone who slightly disagrees of you is likely to attract that kind of personality type, rather than create it out of thin air. Indeed, I think that the reason that the NAs act this way is because of that defect in its founders.

For that reason, I think it's mistaken to define them as some sort of anti-religion. Religion, or at least Christianity, is supposed to create a certain type of behavioural pattern in its adherents. With the NAs, it's more like the reverse. These people liked to act like malicious Tourette's patients - or at the very least hated religion for reasons that are somewhat less than rational -, and therefore came up with a sort of justification for their actions.

BeingItself said...

Sure. In Reasonable Faith he says that he 'knows' Christianity is true because of the voices he hears in his head. He claims that this is "self-authenticating" testimony and cannot even in principle be falsified by any argument or evidence.

But then what of a Mormon who has a burning in the bosom which tells her that Mormonism is true? Well, according to Craig she should be persuaded by arguments or evidence against Mormonism!

If that is not intellectual bankruptcy then nothing is.

Brian said...

BeingItself, I actually am critical of Craig on that point, but I do think you are simplifying his view and not presenting it the strongest way it can be presented.

Incidentally, the notion of the "internal witness of the Holy Spirit" as a rational basis for the truth of Christianity strikes me as heretical, or at least having some serious problems with the orthodox view of faith and reason. I have been meaning to explore the issue some more.

BeingItself said...

Brian,

I have no dog in the fight about what is or is not heretical. Until religious folk get their epistemological house in order, what is orthodox will remain an essentially contested concept. I'm not holding my breath.

I don't think I am over-simplifying the feebleness of Craig's position. I encourage anyone to just read his book. Or watch some of the "Dr Craig is not" vids on youtube for more examples of his clownishness.

Anonymous said...

That does sound crazy, BeingItself. However those arguments would be easy to defeat, as you've done so now in a combox. Special pleading?

Does Craig expect others to believe Christianity is true on the basis of auditory hallucinations (it sounds from your description that he is psychotic) or some vague yet deeply held conviction that he is correct?

TimLambert said...

BeingItself said "Craig is intellectually bankrupt and essentially dishonest".

I've heard Clayton Littlejohn say that same thing many times.

Salz said...

Craig explains the falsifiability of Christianity and how this interacts with the internal witness of the Holy Spirit here.

Note that Craig does not argue that he can show Christianity is true from the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. He explicitly and admittedly relies on evidence and argument to advance the case for God and Christianity alike. What he believes is that the HS can provide testimony which acts as evidence that defeats counter-evidence. This may be an unpopular belief, even odd, but where's the intellectual dishonesty?

"But then what of a Mormon who has a burning in the bosom which tells her that Mormonism is true? Well, according to Craig she should be persuaded by arguments or evidence against Mormonism!"

It's not "burning in the bosom" which does it according to Craig, nor really, really wishing or hoping something was true, but the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. I guess you meant "should not be" here.

A better example of the sort of "intellectual dishonesty" you speak of would be PZ Myers claiming that there can be no evidence for God, because it can always be either interpreted naturalistically, or that one could hold out for a naturalistic explanation of - and doing so while claiming to be led by reason, argument and evidence. Or maybe Jerry Coyne's redefining of evidence and argument that requires God to put on a variety show on live TV.

Brian said...

Yes, you are oversimplifying it, and I do not even think YOU have read Reasonable Faith.

My comment about the orthodoxy of his view was not directed at you but at fellow Catholics.


I actually would like some help from you guys on dissecting Craig's views. I think it has some major differences with the orthodox views on nature/grace and faith/reason. Maybe the blog can touch on those issues soon?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Fred Phelps at some stage have a "warming of the heart" which convinced him to open up his Westboro Baptist Church?

Edward Feser said...

I've heard Clayton Littlejohn say that same thing many times.

Hmm, are you insinuating an identity claim there, Tim?

What about it, BeingItself? Care to confirm or deny?

BeingItself said...

I am not Clayton Littlejohn.

Salz,

NO! I did not mean "should not be".

Craig argues that all other religious folk who are not-Christians should be persuaded by arguments, even if they perceive an inner witness of God or whatever, whereas Christians like him should not be persuaded by arguments or evidence if they have the inner witness.

BeingItself said...

Craig says in linked article:

"So, yes, if the bones of Jesus were to be found, then he did not rise and Christianity would be false; but given the Spirit's witness we will never be justified in thinking that any bones discovered were those of Jesus."

The only way to react to that is with a horse laugh and ridicule.

His "inner witness" trumps any and all factual evidence. But he will not permit this get-out-of-jail free card to any non-Christians. The guy is a complete joke, and that linked article proves it.

Suppose I said "I know the Dallas Cowboys will win the Superbowl this year because God told me." But then suppose the Packers win the Superbowl. Then according to Craig's logic I can be certain that the "Packers" are really the Cowboys in disguise!

Anonymous said...

BeingItself, if the Christian God exists, then it is completely natural to expect Him to provide a means whereby lay, poor, average, mentally ill, etc., people from all around the world could come to know of his existence without having to spend hours perusing philosophical material in the hopes of addressing fairly complicated philosophical issues that they in all likelihood do not even know exist.

In light of this, why are you so averse to that means being the "inner witness of the Holy Spirit"? (Myself, I prefer to speak of a "sensus divinitatis.")

Anonymous said...

"The guy is a complete joke."

Complete? Then I suppose someone should alert the prominent and extremely well-respected atheistic philosopher Quentin Smith about this fact, since he has publicly described Craig as being one of the foremost philosophers of religion and philosophers of time living today.

Frankly, people who go around saying things like this ("Craig is a complete joke") are on the same par as those who say "The Mona Lisa is pure garbage." What they haven't yet realized is that they do not judge the work. The work judges them.

BeingItself said...

"BeingItself, if the Christian God exists, then it is completely natural to expect Him to provide a means whereby lay, poor, average, mentally ill, etc., people from all around the world could come to know of his existence without having to spend hours perusing philosophical material in the hopes of addressing fairly complicated philosophical issues that they in all likelihood do not even know exist."

I agree. Then why do lay, poor, average, mentally ill people all over the world not know that the Christian God exists?

Prolly cuz he don't.

TimLambert said...

Being said:

"I agree. Then why do lay, poor, average, mentally ill people all over the world not know that the Christian God exists?"

You know they don't?
A rose by any other name.



13 For the ones that God will justify are not those who have heard the Law but those who have kept the Law.
14 So, when gentiles, not having the Law, still through their own innate sense behave as the Law commands, then, even though they have no Law, they are a law for themselves.
15 They can demonstrate the effect of the Law engraved on their hearts, to which their own conscience bears witness; since they are aware of various considerations, some of which accuse them, while others provide them with a defence . . . on the day when,
16 according to the gospel that I preach, God, through Jesus Christ, judges all human secrets.

TimLambert said...

Being said:

"Craig argues that all other religious folk who are not-Christians should be persuaded by arguments, even if they perceive an inner witness of God or whatever, whereas Christians like him should not be persuaded by arguments or evidence if they have the inner witness."


Maybe you're not Clayton. But you're certainly recycling alot of things he's said about William Lane Craig in the past.

TimLambert said...

Being:

"The only way to react to that is with a horse laugh and ridicule."

You're an angry little thing, ain't cha??


It really gets to you that someone believes something and they think it worth believing.

You act as if from Craig's vantage the worth of the testimony of the Holy Spirit solely rests on discovery of the bones of Christ:


"I'm the Holy Spirit!! And as proof I say you'll never discover the bones of the risen Christ! However, if you do find them I'm declaring right now that you've actually found something else!!"

Being,
Do you think it's possible for someone to have been impressed into trusting the worth of the Holy Spirit's testimony independent of the comment that you'd like to horse laugh at?

Could it be that maybe there were reasons more fundamental to trusting the activity of the Holy Spirit?

Anonymous said...

From a different anonymous:

D for reading comprehension, A+ for being a blithely insipid dullard.

BeingItself said...

Tim,

It seems you have completely missed the point of my criticism.

I'll try and spoon feed it to you.

According to Craig, the voice of God in his head telling him that Christianity is true trumps all evidence or argument that Christianity is false.

Fine.

But also according to Craig, if a person of another religion hears the voice of God in her head telling her that Islam is true, then that person should be persuaded by arguments or evidence that Islam is false.

Get it now? It's called hypocrisy.

Also, quoting Christian writings to me is about as persuasive as quoting from a Superman comic book. Same genre.

Bartlet said...

Tim,

I like this little used quote.

Samuel 18:27

"David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage"

Barclay said...

The 'purpose' of foreskin, payment for women.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

""The only way to react to that is with a horse laugh and ridicule."

You're an angry little thing, ain't cha??"

Mockery was all the rage when you all ran the show in the middle ages.

Just ask the heretics Jan Hus or Jerome of Praque. Oh wait. You can't.

After years in a sewage filled cell the "Righteous Ones" put funny paper crowns on them. Mocked them. Flayed them and burned them at the stake. Just a couple of the nice examples. History is ripe with the church's 'mockery'.

Anonymous said...

"History is ripe with the church's 'mockery'. "

Yes, atheists do have a habit of engaging in the exact same antics as the worst religious people.

Good point!

Anonymous said...

So it's hypocrisy to believe that one proposition is true and another is not? It's hypocrisy to think people should believe the true one? My word, it's the greatest paradigm shift in philosophy since Decartes.

Anonymous said...

"So it's hypocrisy to believe that one proposition is true and another is not? It's hypocrisy to think people should believe the true one? My word, it's the greatest paradigm shift in philosophy since Decartes."

That's why we mock you. We're and you're not. ;-)

At least we don't burn you at the stake.

What's your stupid point?

Yes. The worst religious people. The Vicar of Christ. Your church's figurehead. The one with his ear to god. Condoned burning at the stake.

If Papa cannot be trusted. Why should I trust you or anything your high minded chuch dictates. I mean, for Christ's sake the church can't even live up to it's standard.

Anonymous said...

"So it's hypocrisy to believe that one proposition is true and another is not?"

Ergo. Burn the 'heretic'.

Is that your point?

Would you reinstate burning at the stake?

Edward Feser said...

Fellows, let's call the pissing contest a draw and move on to something more substantive, please.

Anonymous said...

"I agree. Then why do lay, poor, average, mentally ill people all over the world not know that the Christian God exists?"

Faith in Christ need not necessarily be externalised through some church membership, especially where the church members themselves show poor example.

Anonymous said...

"Faith in Christ need not necessarily be externalised through some church membership, especially where the church members themselves show poor example."

Ok. But then, why is every child born atheist. Do you think a child would ever speak of Yeshua, Christ, or Yahweh if they weren't taught or exposed to it. Would they feel broken and flawed if it weren't taught to be so. Would they know of hell? And if it's 'innate' as you say, why was there a need for a message? Why didn't god just rely on this 'innate' feature in us. Why the need for a muddled message in Hebrew and Greek leaving the world arguing about ancient words?

Seems a 'design' flaw to me. Or a massive failure in communicating the message.

BeingItself said...

I'll say one more thing and leave it alone.

It's hypocrisy for Craig to claim that his religious experience can trump all arguments and also to claim that another person's religious experience cannot trump all arguments.

It's really not that complicated. I realize it must be painful when one of your heroes is shown to be a fool. But by denying reality and continuing to defend the indefensible, you begin to look a bit foolish yourself.

Dr. Feser, I am unwilling to 'call it a draw', but this is my last comment on the matter.

TimLambert said...

Being,
That's a childish way to end it.
Everyone already knows what your point is.
You're like a little kid who after the adult says "okay, we're done with this".
Child: "Fine, fine, fine...but!!!" and then he has to restate his entire point.

You're too emotional over all of this. Whatever you're conjuring up in your head as the 'motives of Dr. Craig', in my mind, you're really no different.

The way you talk about it too, "one of your heroes". What is this, "argument by sneer"?

Just don't be too hard on ol' Dr. Craig. Because from your vantage on the whole matter, you and him have alot in common.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply.

"Seems a 'design' flaw to me. Or a massive failure in communicating the message."

That's the thing, it "seems" to be a flaw or failure ... but that presupposes that one has God's eye view of everything. I just don't see how we can have the confidence to think that.

Eric said...

This isn't exactly on-topic, but it's pretty darn funny.

BenYachov said...

>Ok. But then, why is every child born atheist.

Children are born unable to feed themselves & they poop themselves.

This is child's argument for atheism.

Pun intended.

Prof F is right let's talk about something more substantive.

Anonymous said...

Something more substantive:

Since someone mentioned Craig as being a leading philosopher of time, what philosophical theory of time do most Thomists like Feser and classical theists hold to, the A-theory or the B-theory? Since the Five Ways work either way, should it even matter to the Thomist which one is true?

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that Boethius came up with something quite like the B-theory (if I'm understanding both Boethius and the B-theory correctly) when he wrote something to the effect that God sees the past, present and future simultaneously - in the Consolation, if I remember rightly. This was, granted, originally construed to solve the problem of predestination and free will, but it seems to me that that view of God's predestination implies something like the B-theory.

I don't know whether the Thomist school of thought uses this conception, but given that Boethius is pretty well regarded, I think it's pretty possible.

Corrections and/or amendments from those who know more than I are welcomed, of course.

Anonymous said...

@Ben

"Children are born unable to feed themselves & they poop themselves."

So that's what this means.

Luke 18:17
"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

Interesting mental picture Ben.

There's a double standard for ridicule here. You guys love to do it but get your feewings huwrt when it's done to you. I call truce.

And Ben. That's a false comparison. Your bible claims people innately know the heart of God.

On a serious note. Really. The heritic really wants to know.

How do you know the universe is finite. Or that time is finite. What are the arguments. Honest. Serious.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

Children are not born atheists. Atheism is a proposition about reality, not a property, and no one is born subscribed to any proposition, because infants don't have the mental power to subscribe to anything.

Furthermore, children are also born ignorant. By your logic, do you suggest they remain that way?

Anonymous said...

Ok. Agreed.

Not atheist. Ignorant.

Why do they need to be taught theology and by whom? Seems God is leaving a lot in the hands of those who many or may not have it right. What if you're born to the 'wrong' parents.

You claim it's innate. I challenge that. I don't think children would come up with heaven and hell. I don't think they would think themselves flawed. I don't think they would come to ''realize' they have to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to be redeemed. God left it to inept humans to teach what could have been innate. Again. If you say it's innate why the need for all the teaching?

Tony said...

Seems to me that Boethius came up with something quite like the B-theory (if I'm understanding both Boethius and the B-theory correctly) when he wrote something to the effect that God sees the past, present and future simultaneously - in the Consolation, if I remember rightly. This was, granted, originally construed to solve the problem of predestination and free will, but it seems to me that that view of God's predestination implies something like the B-theory.

Anonymous at 2:30 pm: I don't know for sure exactly how Thomistic philosophers address Time, but I think I can guarantee you that all Aristotelian and Thomist thinkers categorically reject the entire epistmelological and metaphysical assumed framework of McTaggert's A and B series. They just don't make sense given the A-T framework. For example, A defines time to be "the measure of motion with respect to before and after". This probably sounds a lot like B-series approach. But McTaggert's idea completely ignores what has been said for millennia, about the fact that neither the PAST nor the FUTURE can be said to have reality in the same sense that the present has reality. It's like McTaggert, and others that propose to divide discussion of time into A and B series, have never even bothered to read what earlier thinkers have said.

I would suggest that if you want to understand the Thomist approach, it probably starts with Aristotle's definition of time, and builds on that without the silly nonsensical B theory that time is an illusory appearance. Time is the measure of motion, and motion is real so time is real. Time hangs on other physical realities so time is relative to other realities rather than its own reality independent of things in motion.

BeingItself said...

"McTaggert's idea completely ignores what has been said for millennia, about the fact that neither the PAST nor the FUTURE can be said to have reality in the same sense that the present has reality."

It does not matter what McTaggert ignores. General relativity tells us that there is nothing more "real" about your present moment than any past or future moment.

One slice of my current space time could include your future or past. This is very well explained by Brian Greene on his latest PBS special.

Watch it. It's awesome.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/fabric-of-cosmos.html#fabric-time

Who cares what philosophers have "said for millennia"?

Anonymous said...

@ Tony

That sounds like an good point. I'll look into it. I have always suspected that when someone asks (as people do all the time, I'm sure; philosophy of time is SO hot these days) if you subscribe to the A or the B theory of time, they're presenting a false dichotomy. It seems that, in line with what you said, there are elements in each theory that are not quite consistent with the A-T school of thought.

However, there is at least something to be said for the B-theory, in my view. It seems to make the point that what we regard as the passage of time is not as fundamental as we think. Where Taggart went awry, I think, is in assuming that all time is simply an illusion created by our mind (though he can't have been the first to say something like that; I seem to recall Kant saying something about how time is "not numinal but phenomenal"). He was at least somewhat correct in saying that time is not quite what we think it is. I'm just an interested amateur, so my only claim to knowledge are the books I've read. I ask that I may learn, and all that. :)

Cheers

S

Anonymous said...

That should have been "MacTaggart". Drat.

grodrigues said...

@BeingItself:

"It does not matter what McTaggert ignores. General relativity tells us that there is nothing more "real" about your present moment than any past or future moment."

Whatever you mean by that sentence, if you want to jump from an abstract mathematical description of a slice of reality to a metaphysical conclusion you have to do some work; simple assertion is not enough.

SR said...

First off, it's 'McTaggart'.

Here's a short argument roughly for time's illusory nature (actually I wouldn't call it illusory, just not fundamental). I'm curious what A-T would make of it.

To be aware of time's passage (that is, of being able to distinguish past, present, and future, or to discern that something has changed) one must to some extent be outside of time's passage.

There is more going on at the quantum level than fits into a strict 4-dimensional spacetime (superposition of states, energy/time uncertainty, non-locality, etc.).

Combining these two, I conclude that fundamental reality is not strictly temporal. Hence I infer that strict time (one-dimensional, unidirectional) is created in the act of perception, like color or sound, rather than being a feature of reality outside of consciousness.

BenYachov said...

@Anon January 2, 2012 4:03 PM

Your response is infantile.

Pun intended.

Also as the other Anon pointed out children are born ignorant not Atheists.

>Luke 18:17
"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

Simply means we should trust God the way children trust their parents.

>There's a double standard for ridicule here. You guys love to do it but get your feewings huwrt when it's done to you. I call truce.

Rather Gnus don't offer any intelligent ridicule. They tend to be historically & philosophically ignorant. They are ignorant of Theology as well but if they knew philosophy they wouldn't waste the time of Catholics arguing the Bible with us.

Since the Bible is not common ground and we have no motivation for excepting their (Mis)interpretations of it over the Holy Church.

>And Ben. That's a false comparison. Your bible claims people innately know the heart of God.

Where does it say that? Plus why should I accept your fallible interpretation over the authoritative one given me by the Church?

All that I know is God wrote his Law on the hearts of Men so they have an intuitive sense of right vs wrong.

But your ambiguous concept of "people innately know the heart of God" has no meaning for me. It's not a phrase I have ever seen in scholastic writings nor have I ever read it in the writings of the Church Fathers or the Rabbis.

We are Catholics here. Your one size fits all polemic against fundamentalist Protestantism has no meaning here.

Acknowledge that unconditionally & I will accept your "truce".

Because I won't waste my time defending Protestant heresies I don't accept in the first place.

It's a waste of my time and yours.

Ray Ingles said...

man with a computer - "His point was that it was a petty thing compared to what happens to other women around the world, and certainly not something you to write 888 blog posts about."

Um... Watson was using it as an example of the kinds of things that often make women feel unwelcome or out-of-place in atheist or skeptical venues. She, in fact, didn't write '888 blog posts' about it. Here are her actual words:

"Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don't do that. You know, I don't really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I'll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and—don't invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner."

I'm struck by the lack of hysteria there. She never claimed that it was as bad as "what happens to other women around the world". She just said, "don't do that".

So... that makes her a "batsh*t mouth-breathing feminist"?

Ray Ingles said...

BenYachov - "Simply means we should trust God the way children trust their parents."

Perhaps 'child and parent' isn't really that good an analogy. After all, optimally kids grow up to be full adults on an equal standing with their parents right? And that isn't supposed to ever happen with us and God, right? We'd be much more akin to pets than children, really.

BenYachov said...

As for A-theory vs B-theory I so seem to remember Dr. Feser mentioning in passing he rejected B theory.

Oderberg criticizes the 4 dimensional model in his book REAL ESSENTALISM.

Now wither that means Thomism in general must reject B Theory time IMHO is anybody's guess.

I love Feser and Oderberg but they can't be the last word on the subject.

BenYachov said...

@Ray
>Perhaps 'child and parent' isn't really that good an analogy.

I don't see why?

>After all, optimally kids grow up to be full adults on an equal standing with their parents right?

Are you aware it was St Paul who talked about believers first drinking milk then moving on to eat meat? He also talks about believing as a Child then when he grows puts away childish things.

>And that isn't supposed to ever happen with us and God, right? We'd be much more akin to pets than children, really.

Rather you can't proof text the Bible to a Catholic & be taken seriously. You can cite one verse read an absolute meaning into it & divorce it from the whole of Scripture, Tradition and the Church.

So your analysis is a non-starter.

BenYachov said...

@Ray

Really next you & Anon are going to be telling me when Jesus say "If Thy right eye offend thee pluck it out.." really meant Jesus advocated self-mutilation.

We are not fundamentalists here sir we are Catholics.

Even some of the Protestants here aren't fundamentalists that I can tell.

Ray Ingles said...

BenYachov - You misunderstand. I'm not claiming the Bible says we are God's pets. I quite understand that the Bible specifically analogizes humans as God's children.

What I'm saying is, that appears to be a flawed analogy.

We want our kids to eventually grow up. I’d be quite happy if all my kids end up smarter and more successful than me. We love our children, and we want them to love us... but we also want them to eventually be able to live independently from us, to stand up on their own two feet. We still love and care for children who, for whatever reason, can’t manage to develop that far (for biological or emotional reasons) but we know that’s not the best thing, it’s not how it’s ‘supposed to be’.

None of that applies to the “relationship” with “God”. At no point are “God’s children” ever supposed to grow up, be independent, or even understand the rules that their “celestial parent” gives them.

There’s a different, much more analogous relationship in human experience. Where we care for them, but don’t ever expect them to be our equals. They need to obey, even if they don’t – can never – understand why. Indeed, if they ever behave like they consider themselves our equals, it’s a disaster, and may necessitate their eventual destruction.

Hence, the discussion of 'pets'.

BenYachov said...

@Ray

>What I'm saying is, that appears to be a flawed analogy.

So you are going to ignore what I said referencing St Paul?

>but we also want them to eventually be able to live independently from us.

Make up your mind is the verse in question an "analogy" or an unequivocal comparison between human parenting and God being our Divine Parent?

Because obviously given the classic definition of God via Thomism, Classic Metaphysics and Catholic Tradition in general it is impossible for us to be "independent" from God in any meaningful way.

Given that it is analogous comparison of human parenting to God's Divine parentage by definition it they are alike but not unequivocally so.

Or do you now want to say with a straight face because the Bible calls God "Our Father" that means He like Zeus shagged our collective mums and we are all Demigods in the pagan sense?

Seriously Ray this whole line of thought is bolderdash. If I deny God tomorrow I say it's still bolderdash.

You seem to take Scripture in a hyper-literal fashion.

This is alien to a Catholic.

The analogy is a reasonable one. Even if we deny God.

Ray Ingles said...

BenYachov - "Make up your mind is the verse in question an "analogy" or an unequivocal comparison between human parenting and God being our Divine Parent?"

It's an analogy - as I said. Just - as I, ahem, said - a flawed one.

Yes, of course, an analogy highlights similarities between two differing, non-identical things. But it does so for purposes of explanation or clarification. If an analogy obscures or avoids relevant points, then to that extent it's a flawed analogy.

The 'pets' analogy seems to me to capture relevant features of the putative relationship between God and humans that the 'children' analogy does not. For example, you point out that humans, in the theistic conception, cannot "be 'independent' from God in any meaningful way." Likewise, pets by the very nature of what a pet is cannot be independent from their owner.

Regarding St. Paul, pet owners can raise a pet from newborn to adult, and it can mature in many ways, but - again, by definition - a pet can't become independent of its owner.

Anonymous said...

Dennett Undresses Craig in Ten Minutes

Your arguments are logically airtight and your premises are plausible, but that's not good enough anymore! If science has taught us anything, it's that our intuitions about plausibility aren't reliable. We know this from quantum physics. We know this from Einstein.

If our brains were flawless truth-getting devices, we wouldn't need science; we'd just sit on rocks and work stuff out like Aristotle or Descartes. (and unlike them we'd get it right.

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous:

"Your arguments are logically airtight and your premises are plausible, but that's not good enough anymore! If science has taught us anything, it's that our intuitions about plausibility aren't reliable. We know this from quantum physics. We know this from Einstein.

If our brains were flawless truth-getting devices, we wouldn't need science; we'd just sit on rocks and work stuff out like Aristotle or Descartes. (and unlike them we'd get it right."

(1) So even though arguments are logically airtight, because QM or GR has taught us that "our intuitions about plausibility aren't reliable", you feel free to reject them? That is indeed the acme of rationality.

note: it is my experience that the people who most often invoke QM or GR are the ones that know less of it.

(2) Maybe you do science with your tongue or your butt cheeks but on this corner of the world, it is done with the brain, being as it is, an intellectual activity.

Now maybe what you meant to say is that we must get our hands dirty and actually observe the world. Still not good enough: mathematics being the obvious counter example. And without mathematics you can kiss QM or GR goodbye.

grodrigues said...

@Prof. Feser:

It must be really tiresome having to constantly deal with trolls who cannot understand a simple "get lost". My sympathies.

Anonymous said...

grodrigues,

Dude. Give up your special pleading with mathematics. It's a tool. You can do all sorts of things with mathematics that have no bearing on reality. As with logic and philosophy alone!

The point is. No body of knowledge can express absolute, eternal and infinite truth. But knowledge is knowledge only by the virtue of the (relative, approximate, historical) truth that it imparts or by virtue of the error that it refutes - whence its ability to progress.

Why is it you need to resort to buttcheeks? That's seems a common theme among Catholics. Right back at you JA.

Anonymous said...

"(1) So even though arguments are logically airtight, because QM or GR has taught us that "our intuitions about plausibility aren't reliable", you feel free to reject them? That is indeed the acme of rationality."

"Logically airtight."

You know failure to recognize sarcasm is one of the first signs of Alzheimer's. Better have that checked genius.

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous:

"Give up your special pleading with mathematics."

I am not aware of any special pleading, care to explain?

"It's a tool. You can do all sorts of things with mathematics that have no bearing on reality. As with logic and philosophy alone!"

I do not know what you imagine you are refuting, but the fact continues to be that without mathematics there is no physics; pure and simple. But is perfectly possible to have mathematics without physics -- a casual perusal of contemporary mathematics fully attests this.

Or to take an historical example, if Einstein had not befriended Marcel Grossmann and counted on his knowledge of differential geometry, he would not have invented GR (see Abraham Pais' biography for the details).

"The point is. No body of knowledge can express absolute, eternal and infinite truth."

Is that an absolute, eternal and infinite truth?

Nevermind.

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous:

"Better have that checked genius."

Finally, someone that recognizes the true quality of my intellect. First step to wisdom, boy.

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous:

"That's why 'no one' has ever, by your admission, 'recognized the true quality of your intellect'."

Oh but you shall recognize, you WILL ALL recognize my genius; ha ha ha ha! (maniacal laughter)

"Back to your ivory tower."

They make for splendid habitations, and although the air is somewhat rarefied, it is a damn fine view from up here.

Edward Feser said...

It must be really tiresome having to constantly deal with trolls who cannot understand a simple "get lost". My sympathies.

Ah, comes with the territory. And it isn't surprising that the certifiable lunatics (J, TruthOverfaith) would keep posting when they know their drivel will just be deleted.

But who would have thought that djindra so desperately needed to get a life? (Doesn't he have a wife or something? Maybe she's the inflatable kind...)

BenYachov said...

@Ray

At this point I think you are Bullsh**ing me for the sake of busting chops.

>Yes, of course, an analogy highlights similarities between two differing, non-identical things. But it does so for purposes of explanation or clarification.

So what is unclear about Luke 18:17 again? Trust God as a child would/should trust his parents. Why is that hard?

At this point Ray you are moving the goal posts around & backpedaling to such a silly degree one would think you are trying to jockey for djindra's former spot.

It's not attractive.

Here is some advice. Be like dguller.

BenYachov said...

@Ray
>For example, you point out that humans, in the theistic conception, cannot "be 'independent' from God in any meaningful way."

Because in Classic Theism we would cease to exist if we where independent of God.

>Likewise, pets by the very nature of what a pet is cannot be independent from their owner.

So you disbelieve in the existence of feral ex-pets or abandoned pets?

Right! Sure pal. Let me know when Elvis get here.

Ray Ingles said...

BenYachov - "At this point I think you are Bullsh**ing me for the sake of busting chops."

Or maybe I'm approaching this topic from a different perspective.

"So what is unclear about Luke 18:17 again?"

It obscures the radical and eternal dependency humans would have towards a putative God. Children grow up, eventually. Eventually they don't have to take their parents' instruction 'on faith'.

"So you disbelieve in the existence of feral ex-pets or abandoned pets?"

No. But... they aren't pets anymore, are they? They're "ex-pets".

A pet has a certain kind of relationship with its owner, by virtue of its being a pet. Just because a wild squirrel might eat out of your hand once doesn't make it your pet, for example. And a feral cat or dog might once have been a pet, but is a pet no longer.

We can further refine the analogy, if you want. Many pets are unable to survive without the care of their owners; either because of specialized breeding or how they were raised. (Neither chihuahuas nor declawed cats tend to do well trying to go feral, for example.) Humans would be rather like such radically dependent creatures, no?

Anonymous said...

Ray, it seems to me that we are not capable of growing up to the degree to understand God fully or be able to live independently of Him (as per the Theistic view of God sustaining everything continuously). The gap between us and our parents is much smaller than between the best of us and God. But we do grow up in God in a way and we may be able to achieve the Beatific Vision. There is no way to achieve that by our own strength, even in principle. Still we're obstinate and we think we can, although in life, we always have to bow to someone anyway, either you wife, your IRS or your boss.

Gio said...

"After all, optimally kids grow up to be full adults on an equal standing with their parents right? And that isn't supposed to ever happen with us and God, right?"

No, in the ancient Hebrew context these teachings were initially taught in, the parent was always considered superior to the child, even after the latter grew up. So your objections rest on decontextualization.

BenYachov said...

@Ray
>Or maybe I'm approaching this topic from a different perspective.

Rather clearly you are.

>It obscures the radical and eternal dependency humans would have towards a putative God.

It's an instruction to trust God as a child trusts His/Her Parent. Nothing more.

So if I tell you to "Be as quiet as a mouse", unless I explicitly tell you otherwise your going to take that to mean dress up in a mouse suit, eat cheese and live in a hole in the wall?

Oh & if I don't tell you not to do that then "quiet as a mouse" is a "bad analogy"?

Ray your funny but clearly full of shit.

BenYachov said...

>No. But... they aren't pets anymore, are they? They're "ex-pets".

Then it's a "lousy analogy" on your part since you obscure the difference between Pets can't leave their owners and live in the wild vs Pets can't be Pets if they leave their owner & go live in the wild.

Or maybe it is a fine analogy but you are just unclear in your speech and you are falsely equating the brute fact Scripture isn't always clear (something we Catholics assume A Priori) with having "bad analogy".

BenYachov said...

@Ray

Catholics aren't fundamentalists.

Accept it.

man with a computer said...

She, in fact, didn't write '888 blog posts' about it.

I never claimed she wrote them. There was already a fuzz about it when Dawkins wrote his first post.

So... that makes her a "batsh*t mouth-breathing feminist"?

No, that just makes her a nerdy victim of nerdhood. Again, I never put her in that category -- I was referring to all the sanctimonious BS that followed in other sites.

Ray Ingles said...

BenYachov - "It's an instruction to trust God as a child trusts His/Her Parent. Nothing more."

You're kinda missing the point. I'm not questioning what the verse says. I understand the intent of the analogy.

My question is a step removed from that. I'm asking if that's really a good analogy, and pointing to one that seems to cover more territory.

"So if I tell you to "Be as quiet as a mouse", unless I explicitly tell you otherwise your going to take that to mean dress up in a mouse suit, eat cheese and live in a hole in the wall?"

I'm not questioning analogies in general. But - for example - if we were sneaking up on someone, I might suggest that the rarer idiom "as quiet as a cat" would be more accurate.

BenYachov said...

@Ray

You are so full of shit. I can smell you from here.

>You're kinda missing the point. I'm not questioning what the verse says. I understand the intent of the analogy.

Your bullshit here has a point?

Seriously?

>My question is a step removed from that. I'm asking if that's really a good analogy, and pointing to one that seems to cover more territory.

Cut the bullshit Ray you where just ridiculing passage & now you are backtracking because I called you on it.

Since it is a trivial & silly question to ask "Why doesn't Jesus simply say 'We should receive the Kingdom of God as puppies before their Master'. Isn't that better then `little Children'?".

No it's not. It's silly & trivial.

>I'm not questioning analogies in general. But - for example - if we were sneaking up on someone, I might suggest that the rarer idiom "as quiet as a cat" would be more accurate.

How is using the analogy of us as God's "Pets" more accurate in Our Theology?

It's not to anyone who has made a serious study of it regardless of their personal belief of lack there of.

It's just bullshit on your part Ray for the sake of bullshit.

Nothing more.

E.H. Munro said...

I beg to differ on Rebecca Watson, as I documented in my admittedly acerbic post on the matter, the (not so) lovely Ms. Watson is guilty of the very things she was complaining about. And the incident is clearly the most commented upon incomplete pass this side of the Tom Brady Tuck.

BenYachov said...

djindra,

Have you no pride man?

A certain Catholic Blogger kicked me off his blog because I bagged on him for calling Sarah Palin a "gold digger".

My wife still posts there. You don't see me searching out anonomizers IP's & still posting there refusing to leave.

You sir are pathetic. Out of hundreds of posts you have maybe said one possibly two intelligent things. That's it the rest has been stupid nonsense.

Get a life.

djindra said...

Ed,

Btw, here is your comment (not mine) in "Grow up or shut up" July 24, 2011 11:32 AM:

So Chuck's been banned from Coyne's blog? Unbelievable.

Don't worry, djindra, there is no ideological litmus test here. You are free to stick around and continue your tirades against me. Others are free to engage with you if they think it worthwhile.


So, seriously, I'd like to know. Are you a man of your word or not?

Don.

Edward Feser said...

djindra,

As is blindingly obvious to everyone but you, you were not banned because of any "ideological litmus test." (You'll notice that BeingItself, StoneTop, dguller, and many others who routinely disagree with me regularly post here unmolested.)

The reason you were finally banned (after months of putting up with you and giving you time to reform) is that your comments were not only amazingly, consistently clueless -- you seem incapable of understanding, or even trying to understand, what someone actually says before launching into an attack on it -- but were also increasingly rude and insulting to me personally. Why you think anyone should be expected to tolerate such a combination, in his own combox, is just further evidence of your cluelessness.

Now, kindly get lost. For good.

man with a computer said...

Just checked djindra's blog.

You mad, brah.

Ray Ingles said...

BenYachov - "Since it is a trivial & silly question"

Then it should have a trivial answer, no? So far, your answers seem to boil down to, "Is not! You're a poopyhead!" While forceful and manly, it's somewhat lacking in the area of informativeness.

"Cut the bullshit Ray you where just ridiculing passage & now you are backtracking because I called you on it."

Um, no, I've asked the question before, in other venues, and never gotten a straight answer either. You seem to be continuing the trend, I'm afraid.

Ray Ingles said...

E.H. Munro - Upon reading your comments on Watson et. al., I can see that manners really are your stock in trade. :)

BenYachov said...

Ray writes:
>Then it should have a trivial answer, no? So far, your answers seem to boil down to, "Is not! You're a poopyhead!"

In psychology we call what you are doing "projection".

Friends I would like to nominate Ray Ingles as djindra's successor!

His qualifications? He thinks the Bible has flawed analogies because it doesn't compare believers to house pets!

Your a funny guy Ray & I've seen some of your posts & you seem intelligent thus I don't want to believe you are actually being serious here.

Because if you are being serious then you are a first class flake on the level of Flat Earthers and Moonlanding deniers.

It's really that simple.

E.H. Munro said...

I'm not sure what that site has to do with me, Ray. It's not even funny so I can't imagine why you would think it mine.

Richard said...

@ man with a computer Jan 3, 2012 6:35 p.m. Wow, you are not kidding. Actaully prompted me to comment...haha.

Anonymous said...

grodrigues,

"...Still not good enough: mathematics being the obvious counter example. And without mathematics you can kiss QM or GR goodbye."

Ok. The theory of GR breaks down at small values. How do you know that from 'mathematics' alone? How would you know if you don't test it? When do you switch to QM?

Now, if you say we will someday have a new 'mathematical' theory that marries the two, I would agree. But, you won't get it with mathematics alone and know it works without EMPIRICALLY checking. Furthermore, in the mean time you'll come up with many mathematical theories that didn't work. How will you know this using only metaphysics/math? You won't. You have to test which mathematical models are complete or wrong.

In other words,and this is the important thing, you'll be imagining a bunch of useless stuff along the way *thinking* it's right.

I'm not discounting the usefulness of mathematics. Just that there are limits to it's usefulness. It MUST be tested to see if it comports to reality.

Anonymous said...

grodrigues,

Furthermore, If we were so convinced that the mathematics alone was correct in formulating GR why did we bother testing the results?

Why did we check the perihelion precession of Mercury, the deflection of light by the Sun, gravitational redshift, gravitational redshift, Probe-B and frame-dragging?

Why not just rely on our brains to intuit correctly and the almighty mathematics?

Ray Ingles said...

BenYachov - What you seem to be missing is that I have actually argued for my point. On January 3, 2012 7:28 AM, I pointed out what seems to me a relevant difference between the relationship between parents and children, for example.

Then, at 9:05 AM I pointed out what again seem to me to be relevant similarities in the relationship between humans and pets.

I pointed out another at 9:54 AM, at the same time pointing out a problem with your one and only attempt to defend the original analogy.

So far, you've basically said I'm wrong, and engaged in a little ad hominem, but not actually done much of anything to point out problems with what I've said.

Anyone else want to take a crack at explaining to me why I'm so wrong?

grodrigues said...

Anonymous:

"...Still not good enough: mathematics being the obvious counter example. And without mathematics you can kiss QM or GR goodbye.

Ok. The theory of GR breaks down at small values. How do you know that from 'mathematics' alone? How would you know if you don't test it? When do you switch to QM?"

You are confused if you think I am saying that to do physics, an *empirical* science, you do not need... experiments. What I am saying is that to do physics you need mathematics and mathematics neither needs physics neither is an empirical discipline.

note: and the establishment of GR itself by Einstein is probably the most successful story of a thought experiment (although he did know about the anomalous rate of the perihelion precession of Mercury).

Ray Ingles said...

E.H. Munro - I didn't think it was your site. Just seemed your style, that's all. :)

I mean, it was a higher priority to point out you found her unattractive than to accuse her of hypocrisy. Obviously, though, she would have been right if you'd found her attractive.

Anonymous said...

grodrigues,

"note: and the establishment of GR itself by Einstein is probably the most successful story of a thought experiment (although he did know about the anomalous rate of the perihelion precession of Mercury)."

And he knew that Faraday's Law's were problematic. He also knew Special Relativity wasn't complete.

He didn't pull the theory out of the aether either. ;-)

Look, I'm a science and math guy. Physics and math minors. Have read Pais' biography on Einstein, and others. Electrical engineer degree. Practiced for years. Now an airline pilot. I'm not besmirching the power of math as a tool nor do I recognize the power of thought experiment, but it must be checked against reality. If you know anything about flying airplanes via instruments you'll know how easily tricked the brain is. Similar to sitting at a stop light and the car next to you moves forward and you panic thinking you're moving backwards even though you aren't moving.

Agreed that much of what Einstein did was great gadankenexperiment. I acknowledge intuition carried him a long way. What it couldn't do was carry him to the subatomic range. Plus, how many others did thought experiments that end up in the trash bin of science?

I don't for a second have much confidence in string theory. Nor do I have confidence in extrapolations of current physics as to what might happen in a black hole without evidence. Informed guessing at this point. That's a prudent way of thinking. I think. I wouldn't bet my life on any of it.

Furthermore, as Newton shows. The theory wasn't complete. He wasn't done. Like Einstein wasn't done. Science isn't done. And how do you know until you 'look'?

So you can see how I might be skeptical of metaphysics alone trying to posit the 'cause' of the universe let alone the 'purpose' for things. Especially coming from a 4th century b.c. and a 13th century worldview. I think it's still guessing at this point.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I wrote Faraday in comment. I meant Maxwell.

Geez. See how fallible the brain is. Well, at least mine.

man with a computer said...

Obviously, though, she would have been right if you'd found her attractive.

Sorry, Ray. Playa don't white knight. Not even if she's a 10.

BenYachov said...

@Ray


>I pointed out another at 9:54 AM, at the same time pointing out a problem with your one and only attempt to defend the original analogy.

I pointed out too you 9:29 AM that you can't make an unequivocal comparison between God and man.

Your comparison between God as Divine Parent vs human parents was clearly an unequivocal one & you ignored this point insisting you understood analogy. Well I don't know what you think analogy means but it's clearly not the Thomist concept of analogy which is what is relevant here.

You bullshit is top down a non-starter. We are Classic Theists here. The Theistic Personalist Deity you are channeling which is just a meta-human mind with the body abstracted away is of no interest to me nor do I believe such a fundamentalist "deity" exists in the first place.

Thus I feel no need to defend such a thing.

I told you Catholics aren't fundamentalist. Stop being obtuse.

Ray Ingles said...

man with a computer - "Sorry, Ray. Playa don't white knight. Not even if she's a 10."

Well, apparently E.H. Munro does. 'Cause apparently it's not enough that he decide she's wrong, she must be "not so lovely" and wrong.

In other words... why does her appearance have anything to do with anything?

Ray Ingles said...

BenYachov - Your comparison between God as Divine Parent vs human parents was clearly an unequivocal one

Well, you claimed that, and I explained that was not the case. I wasn't claiming that 'God as parent' was not an analogy. I was pointing out what appears to me to be a better analogy. Still not identical, but 'covers more ground'.

To return to a previous example, there are two idioms, "quiet as a mouse" and "quiet as a cat". Both imply being quiet. Neither involve putting on a fur suit.

But being "quiet as a mouse" implies sneaking past or away from someone, whereas "quiet as a cat" implies sneaking up on someone. Depending on the situation, one can be a better analogy than another.

Now, if you can point to some reasons why 'children' is a better analogy than 'pets' - some greater similarity, or invalidating difference - that'd be helpful. Just saying "nuh-uh" is less than helpful.

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous:

"Look, I'm a science and math guy. Physics and math minors. Have read Pais' biography on Einstein, and others. Electrical engineer degree. Practiced for years. Now an airline pilot. I'm not besmirching the power of math as a tool nor do I recognize the power of thought experiment, but it must be checked against reality."

Curious, I am also a science and math guy: undergraduate studies in physics, phd in mathematics. To repeat myself, if you are doing physics, or any empirical science for that matter, you had better "check against reality". I really do not know why you keep banging on this.

"So you can see how I might be skeptical of metaphysics alone trying to posit the 'cause' of the universe let alone the 'purpose' for things. Especially coming from a 4th century b.c. and a 13th century worldview. I think it's still guessing at this point."

I think you fail to realize that metaphysics (wheher from 4th century b.c. or the 21st century a.c.) and the empirical sciences respond different questions; that they have different methods of inquiry; that to do science you *must* presuppose all sorts of answers, including metaphysical ones (what is causation? can our senses be relied upon? can our intellect be relied upon? what justifies the inductive method?) and as it usually happens, if one is unaware of one's implied presuppositions, one makes all sorts of illegitimate jumps without a proper justification.

DNW said...

Ray Ingles writes,

" In other words... why does her appearance have anything to do with anything?

January 4, 2012 8:30 AM"

Well, in the somewhat abstract, and on materialist presuppositions, perhaps quite a lot; as European researchers have discovered regarding fertility and female looks and shape.

As there are things the blind cannot sense, nor the stupid understand, it might also be that there are things the ugly cannot know, nor comprehend.

Now of course and speaking broadly, adaptation may take different forms today than it did 100 years ago; and Elsa Lanchester female types and their steatopygous boyfriends may be well fitted to modern desktop life - within the limits of its own sustainability as a mode of effective reproduction. And, we could argue forever over whether what, if any role, social ridicule or rejection plays in amplifying the performance effects of preexisting organic inadequacies, and over whether there is some objective moral duty in "correcting" such "cruelties". But it seems pretty clear that in a world of material things interpreted nominalistically, there's much less of a hidden life or essence to be imagined as existing "inside" the thing observed, than would otherwise be the case.

And this would, on the materialist's own terms, unfortunately apply to humans, and even to female humans, as well.

BenYachov said...

>Well, you claimed that, and I explained that was not the case.

You explained nothing you merely asserted it & ignored what I said.

>Now, if you can point to some reasons why 'children' is a better analogy than 'pets'.

You have not shown there is an some objective criteria to judge one better than the other.

There is no philosophical reason to prefer "Quiet as a mouse" over "Quiet as a Cat". Since both are quiet and both can make noise.

So you question is subjective sophistical bullshit.

I accept the analogy of us as God's Children because I accept divine revelation. If I have no divine revelation then I have no criteria other than subjective preference.

You questions are wasting my time.
They are catagory mistakes.

Your the one making the claim the "pets" analogy is superior. Give me an objective criteria for why your analogy is "better".

You haven't just your subjective preference & unstated assumptions.

BenYachov said...

Or to put is simply Ray your argument is trivial.

We might as well debate how much "better" it would be for God to have created two Sun for Earth rather then one.

Trivial & philosophically uninteresting nothing more.

Anonymous said...

grodrigues,

"I think you fail to realize that metaphysics (wheher from 4th century b.c. or the 21st century a.c.) and the empirical sciences respond different questions; that they have different methods of inquiry; that to do science you *must* presuppose all sorts of answers, including metaphysical ones (what is causation? can our senses be relied upon? can our intellect be relied upon? what justifies the inductive method?) and as it usually happens, if one is unaware of one's implied presuppositions, one makes all sorts of illegitimate jumps without a proper justification."

I don't fail to realize this. However, if you're saying the metaphysician is somehow immune to faulty senses and reasoning, I'm not following.

At bottom. I think we are ultimately left to our senses. We can achieve consensus on abstract ideas with other independent minds and that will only take us so for as Quantum Mechanics has shown. That took observation. That's as good as I can do at the moment with words.

...and as Dennett says in the video with regard to immaterial causation. We have no experience with it. We know nothing about it. Just as we don't know what happens inside the event horizon of a black hole. We don't know.

And yes I said, "no body of knowledge can express absolute, external and infinite truth. But knowledge is knowledge only by virtue of the (relative, approximate, historical) truth that it imparts or by virtue of the error it refutes - whence its ability to progress."

I recognize the apparent irony in the statement. Is that statement true. Dunno. There is 'truth' in it. ;-) I'll work on it.

As you can tell. I'm not a philosopher. I enjoy the discussions. I enjoy the learning. I think it can help to clarify thinking if one doesn't expect too much from 'thinking' alone.

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - "it might also be that there are things the ugly cannot know, nor comprehend."

Um... okay. But... there are an unlimited number of hypothetical correlations like that. Am I supposed to presume such a correlation exists before any evidence of it's been presented? Or is it my duty to prove that such a correlation doesn't exist?

"But it seems pretty clear that in a world of material things interpreted nominalistically, there's much less of a hidden life or essence to be imagined as existing "inside" the thing observed, than would otherwise be the case."

Why?

DNW said...

Ray Ingles writes,

'But it seems pretty clear that in a world of material things interpreted nominalistically, there's much less of a hidden life or essence to be imagined as existing "inside" the thing observed, than would otherwise be the case.'

Why?"

Per the stipulative definitions of the meaning of the terms "nominalism" and "materialism" as employed by proponents of these, (especially the flatus vocis) doctrines, and the implications drawn from conjoining the terms so defined.

For example, and Feser has dealt with these arguments extensively, there is on the *above assumptions*, no definitional reason to assume that all men have a qualitatively identical inner life just because they are called "men", simply because others also called men convince themselves on the basis of "interior" reflection, that they do.

Just as a general observation, I wonder why people ardent to debunk the reality of natural kinds are so anxious to preserve the notion of moral obligation among supposedly "like-kinds".

Perhaps they fear unpleasant consequences. But then unpleasant consequences have never been held to be a reliable indicator of the truth or falsity of a proposition, now have they.

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous:

"I don't fail to realize this. However, if you're saying the metaphysician is somehow immune to faulty senses and reasoning, I'm not following."

Do not want to sound a naysayer, but it sure looks like you do fail to realize, because I am definitely not saying that the metaphysician is immune to faulty senses and reasoning (unless the metaphysician is an angel in the heavens).

"At bottom. I think we are ultimately left to our senses. We can achieve consensus on abstract ideas with other independent minds and that will only take us so for as Quantum Mechanics has shown. That took observation. That's as good as I can do at the moment with words."

In some sense you are correct, as our knowledge is informed by sense data; so for example, such concepts as that of number or line or set, arose from our common field of experience that we usually call "reality". But you keep restricting yourself to knowledge of the physical world via empirical means. To return to mathematics, you cannot deny that mathematics is knowledge of *something*: for lack of a better word, let us call this something, the mathematical universe (no implied adherence to Platonism). This mathematical universe, not being physical in any reasonable sense of the word, cannot be probed by empirical methods. And I am even afraid to ask what you mean by "achieve consensus on abstract ideas with other independent minds"... are mathematical questions to be decided by popular vote?

What I said about mathematics applies to metaphysics and in fact to all questions of the philosophy of nature or the philosophy of science. No doubt, the inquiry is informed by new scientific discoveries, but these questions are beyond the pale of the modern empirical sciences so appealing to them is a non-starter.

"...and as Dennett says in the video with regard to immaterial causation. We have no experience with it. We know nothing about it. Just as we don't know what happens inside the event horizon of a black hole. We don't know."

The "We don't know" only makes sense because you are restricting yourself to the empirical sciences as the unique valid mode of knowledge. The supposed lack of experience of evidence for immaterial causation (this is a misnomer and part of the confusion, but let that pass for now) follows from this metaphysical position, which was left unargued (presumably, because you are not even aware that there is a real question here). That is why at the beginning, I brought the counter-example of mathematics as it is an example of a body of knowledge that is not empirical. When Pithagoras showed that the square root of 2 is irrational or Euclid showed that the set of primes is not finite, they showed, contra your statement below, absolute, necessary and eternal truths. And they showed this by pure reason without having made a single experiment and there isn't a single experiment you can perform that can overturn these theorem as they do not belong to the class of empirical, falsifiable statements.

"And yes I said, "no body of knowledge can express absolute, external and infinite truth. But knowledge is knowledge only by virtue of the (relative, approximate, historical) truth that it imparts or by virtue of the error it refutes - whence its ability to progress."

I recognize the apparent irony in the statement. Is that statement true. Dunno. There is 'truth' in it. ;-) I'll work on it."

It is not an irony (e.g. a literary device that in its broadest sense, means one thing while saying another, sometimes completely opposite), it is a self-refuting statement so it cannot be true.

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - "no definitional reason to assume that all men have a qualitatively identical inner life"

But there could be other reasons than definitional, surely? Unless we go the "I have no head" route, on the assumptions of materialism there appears no cognitively-significant qualitative material difference between the vast majority of humans and oneself...

Anonymous said...

"This mathematical universe, not being physical in any reasonable sense of the word, cannot be probed by empirical methods"

For me it's quite a leap from irrational numbers and infinite primes to the creator of the universe and what it is. If you want me to agree that there are predictable regularities in the universe. Ok.

Finite and infinite. More loaded terms. When can one use that concept with any certainty?

And it's only consistent given the presuppositions (axioms and definitions) we use. Those are not provable. What if I have a problem with your metaphysical definitions?

The square root of two 'can' be used in practice.

"...these questions are beyond the pale of the modern empirical sciences so appealing to them is a non-starter."

What happens 'outside of time' or 'before time' is also beyond the pale. Not to be flippant, but it's like being at a Star Trek convention and arguing nuance of inter-stellar relations. In Klingon.

"The "We don't know" only makes sense because you are restricting yourself to the empirical sciences as the unique valid mode of knowledge. The supposed lack of experience of evidence for immaterial causation (this is a misnomer and part of the confusion, but let that pass for now) follows from this metaphysical position, which was left unargued (presumably, because you are not even aware that there is a real question here)."

So explain to me how metaphysics will get you any certainty as to what happens inside a black hole. Or 'before time' 'outside of time' or 'beyond time'. Etc.

I'm not willing to make the leaps you are willing to make. I'm grateful for the civil conversation. I'm just not willing to go 'where no man has gone before'. ;-)

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous:

woa, slow down, you are conflating a whole many things and making a lot of unwarranted jumps here.

"For me it's quite a leap from irrational numbers and infinite primes to the creator of the universe and what it is. If you want me to agree that there are predictable regularities in the universe. Ok."

Where did I invoke the Creator of the universe? Let us take things one step at a time, shall we? And you better agree that "there are predictable regularities in the universe" for otherwise science is not possible.

"Finite and infinite. More loaded terms. When can one use that concept with any certainty?"

Mathematicians do it all the time. Analysis and calculus (as used by physicists and engineers all the time, as you should surely know) can hardly get off the ground and get a proper justification without some definite notion of finite and infinite. Really, if you have a minor in mathematics you should know all this (or I guess you should as I am not familiar with the American system).

"And it's only consistent given the presuppositions (axioms and definitions) we use. Those are not provable. What if I have a problem with your metaphysical definitions?"

First, it is not "consistent with" but "provable from". Second, mathematical axioms indeed cannot be proved, but can only be motivated and justified -- and yes that has been done -- but so what? Ex nihilo nihil fit. You have to start from somewhere. Third, you are confusing mathematical axioms with metaphysical definitions. You are free to disagree with the AT metaphysical view say, but at least make sure you actually understand what you are disagreeing with.

"The square root of two 'can' be used in practice."

So what? There are whole fields of mathematics that have no practical application whatsoever, yet at least. And sorry to be blunt, but this "practical" schtick is pure, unmitigated crap. A physicist views mathematics as a tool to comprehend the natural world; an engineer views physics as a tool to harness the world and the end user views engineering as a wonderful toy factory of technologies of distraction. So why should the "practical" canard apply to mathematics more than to physics or engineering?

"So explain to me how metaphysics will get you any certainty as to what happens inside a black hole. Or 'before time' 'outside of time' or 'beyond time'. Etc."

For the love of God, how many times do I have to repeat that the proper subject of metaphysics is not physical, contingent reality, so if you want to know what happens inside a Black hole go ask a physicist. Time is a whole different kettle of fish and there are some tricky metaphysical questions related to it, but once again, the questions that a metaphysician would try to grapple are not the same questions that a physicist would.

Anonymous said...

grodrigues,

Given our difficulty understanding what quantum mechanics, for example, I'm not so quick to accept absolute definitions of beginning, time and infinite, and so forth.

I just don't have the confidence in pure reason. Maybe I've misused the terms 'pure' and 'reason'. More definitions. ;-)

Thanks for the conversation and I'll continue to make the effort to learn.

DNW said...

Blogger Ray Ingles said...

" DNW - 'no definitional reason to assume that all men have a qualitatively identical inner life'

[Ray Ingles]... on the assumptions of materialism there appears no cognitively-significant qualitative material difference between the vast majority ..."

Instead of following you down the garden path as you quantitatively shift *from* a universal affirmative proposition which could eventually lead to a demonstrative conclusion, if not necessarily a demonstrative moral conclusion, *to* a supposedly empirical subaltern (Some S is or may be P) which is modally or even hypothetically advanced, I'll content myself here with merely pointing out your move.

Not that you necessarily intended any deception ... ahem.


Now, if *you* have a probabilistic argument regarding mind to make, that entails some normative conclusion which you wish to assert is objectively binding across some specified distribution, feel free to make it.

You however asked me a question regarding my comments and the terms involved, and I answered it by explaining the application of the terms and the implications involved in those applications.

If you on the other hand wish to demonstrate something regarding the identicality of say, the qualitative nature of an Andaman Islanders's interior life as it relates to or compares with say, Bertrand Russell's, and then inform us as to what objectively obligatory normative conclusions you logically infer from your surmises, please ... be my guest.

If Edward Feser will allow, that is.

Anonymous said...

g,

"Mathematicians do it all the time. Analysis and calculus (as used by physicists and engineers all the time, as you should surely know) can hardly get off the ground and get a proper justification without some definite notion of finite and infinite."

But, knowing when you can use those concepts is equally important. Calculus can be empirically tested and found consistent with the 'thought' experiment. Like we have said you can create all sorts of mathematical and metaphysical tools that really don't represent any thing 'real' (for lack of a better word).

"You have to start from somewhere."

That's it in a nutshell. I don't agree with the A-T starting point.

"For the love of God, how many times do I have to repeat that the proper subject of metaphysics is not physical, contingent reality,"

No disagreement from me here either. Although I'm not sure I know the philosophical meaning of contingent reality.

I apologize for being boorish. And yes I understand what you are getting at. I just don't see the use this sort of metaphysical groping with, in my opinion such uncertain definitions. It's like defining the luminescent aether.

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous:

"Given our difficulty understanding what quantum mechanics, for example, I'm not so quick to accept absolute definitions of beginning, time and infinite, and so forth."

What exactly are these difficult points in quantum mechanics you allude to? I think I know what you are referring to, but let me just say that in all respects QM is perfectly fine physical theory and that some of its "difficulties" are amplified by notoriously bad philosophy.

And I simply do not understand how you jump from the difficulties in understanding QM to "accept absolute definitions of beginning, time and infinite, and so forth". What is the relation between one thing and another? And what is an "absolute definition"? I know what a nominal definition and a real definition is, but not what an absolute definition is.

And there are definitions for all the terms you mention: beginning - in physics and related to the universe, it is a space-time boundary. time - in AT metaphysics it is the measure of change. infinite - in mathematics there are several concepts of infinite; in set theory for example, it is a set that it is not in bijection with any finite ordinal (assuming classical logic; if you are constructivist things are more subtle).

Anonymous said...

g,

I'm enjoying this conversation but must fly off to work.

San Francisco and Chicago this week.

I apologize for the typos as the iPhone leaves me all thumbs.

r (dot) l (dot) graham at sbcglobal (dot) net

See ya

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous:

"Calculus can be empirically tested and found consistent with the 'thought' experiment. Like we have said you can create all sorts of mathematical and metaphysical tools that really don't represent any thing 'real' (for lack of a better word)."

No, calculus cannot be empirically tested. Where do you got such a foolish idea?

"I apologize for being boorish. And yes I understand what you are getting at. I just don't see the use this sort of metaphysical groping with, in my opinion such uncertain definitions. It's like defining the luminescent aether."

No apologies needed; if I though you were being a nuisance I would have stopped responding a long time ago.

Just one question though: do you know anything about metaphysics? I am going out on a limb here and risk that the answer is no. If I am correct, in the name of what are you justified in passing judgments such as "I just don't see the use this sort of metaphysical groping with, in my opinion such uncertain definitions. It's like defining the luminescent aether"? That you are not *interested*, that is perfectly understandable. The world of knowledge is potentially infinite and we are mere finite beings, with limited finite minds and our time in this earth is short and soon it is at an end, so there are only a couple of things we can hope to know well. That you do not see the use? But what use? What counts as useful?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous, and anyone else who is ignorant of, yet perhaps interested in, metaphysics as a formal subject:

E.J. Lowe's A Survey of Metaphysics is one of the best introductions to the field and is eminently readable. You can download it for free in pdf format here:

http://www.ebook3000.com/A-Survey-of-Metaphysics_66714.html

Though of course it would be more ethical if you bought it. My only excuse for downloading it is that I already own the book.

The Deuce said...

grodrigues:

So even though arguments are logically airtight, because QM or GR has taught us that "our intuitions about plausibility aren't reliable", you feel free to reject them?

...Maybe you do science with your tongue or your butt cheeks but on this corner of the world, it is done with the brain, being as it is, an intellectual activity.

...

It is not an irony (e.g. a literary device that in its broadest sense, means one thing while saying another, sometimes completely opposite), it is a self-refuting statement so it cannot be true.

...

No, calculus cannot be empirically tested. Where do you got such a foolish idea?



Something I've noticed recently, and judging by your exchanges here and the ones over at Tom's site I'm guessing you've noticed it too, is that naturalists are increasingly denying the absoluteness of truth, as well the objective validity of the laws of logical inference for discerning truth. And this seems to be happening at roughly the same time that theists are increasingly using the arguments against naturalism from reason.

I'm not sure whether to be annoyed at how maddening and ultimately futile it is to argue with someone who is willing to embrace logical incoherence, or grateful that they're finally being more consistent with their own materialism, so that everyone can see what it really entails. I just wonder when they'll be *fully* consistent in embracing their newfound post-modernism and stop presenting themselves as hard-headed disciples of "evidence", "science", "objectivity", and "reason".

Ray Ingles said...

DNW, speaking of 'not intending deception', I note that your most recent comment is the very first place the word 'normative' appears in this discussion.

"Now, if *you* have a probabilistic argument regarding mind to make, that entails some normative conclusion which you wish to assert is objectively binding across some specified distribution, feel free to make it."

You were looking for a "reason to assume that all men have a qualitatively identical inner life". I agreed that "in a world of material things interpreted nominalistically", there's "no definitional reason" [emphasis added].

I then noted, "there could be other reasons than definitional, surely?"

I, for example, know I have an "inner life", however that comes about. Based on what I've read about neurology, it seems to arise from the processing going on in the brain.

Now, I have no reason whatsoever to suppose my brain is unique in this regard. And a long history of research has failed to confirm the notions of those who've believed in the uniqueness of certain classes of human brains, despite ardent investigation.

Before moving on to any "normative conclusions", can we agree that that - while not 'definitional' - is nevertheless a reason to conclude that others have a qualitatively similar "inner life" to my own?

(I'll also note in passing that "definitional" reasons haven't proven to be convincingly "normative" in history - racism flourished and thrived long before the birth of neurology, even among at least nominal [ :) ] Thomists.)

Anonymous said...

The Deuce

"...that naturalists are increasingly denying the absoluteness of truth, as well the objective validity of the laws of logical inference for discerning truth."

It more to do with your 'application' of 'absoluteness' and 'objectiveness'.

DNW said...

Ray Ingles says,
" Before moving on to any "normative conclusions", can we agree that that - while not 'definitional' - is nevertheless a reason to conclude that others have a qualitatively similar "inner life" to my own?"

Let's try and get this back on track. As I replied earlier:

"" DNW - 'no definitional reason to assume that all men have a qualitatively identical inner life'

[Ray Ingles]... on the assumptions of materialism there appears no cognitively-significant qualitative material difference between the vast majority ..."

Instead of following you down the garden path as you quantitatively shift *from* a universal affirmative proposition which could eventually lead to a demonstrative conclusion, if not necessarily a demonstrative moral conclusion, *to* a supposedly empirical subaltern (Some S is or may be P) which is modally or even hypothetically advanced, I'll content myself here with merely pointing out your move.

... if *you* have a probabilistic argument regarding mind to make, that entails some normative conclusion which you wish to assert is objectively binding across some specified distribution, feel free to make it."


Again then, we are looking at the logical implications of taking your primary "metaphysical" assumptions regarding class objects. "Primary metaphysical" taken here to mean materialism and radical nominalism, seriously.

It seems that you are a loathe to do this, and would prefer to merely present them as a default position from which you may then - presumably - base prescriptive claims.

"Presumably", which is why I invited you to do so.

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - Explain the 'track' you want to take in simple words, as you would a child. I was replying to a specific claim only - only (very much) later did you introduce "normative" and "prescriptive" considerations, seemingly out of left field.

(BTW, did you mean "qualitatively shift" rather than "quantitatively shift"?)

(Also BTW, I actually haven't taken an explicit position on nominalism - particularly 'radical' nominalism - here. I dunno if I might be a quasi-Platonist; certainly it seems like the Mandelbrot Set might 'exist' in some sense - but it's not at all clear it has any causal power.)

DNW said...

Ray Ingles says,


"(I'll also note in passing that "definitional" reasons haven't proven to be convincingly "normative" in history - racism flourished and thrived long before the birth of neurology, even among at least nominal [ :) ] Thomists.)

January 5, 2012 6:01 AM""

If you are interested in turning this into a discussion of "scientific" racism rather than the qualities of mental experiences as class defining attributes, again, feel free to do so. You might find someone who is interested in following you down this path too.

I would simply note for the record that it was Spanish Thomists who most famously (among the informed) argued for the rights of New World aborigines based upon a trans-racial class definition inclusion concept.

Of course from an historical point of view, "racism" has hardly been the only or even most common motive for viewing others as a material objects fit for use and exploitation, even among those who viewed themselves as mere material objects or part of, or outgrowths, of the "natural" world.

Also, and just for the record again, I am unsure what point you are trying to make with your link to the Wiki article on Gould's famously discredited book, unless you are somehow trying discredit Gould's general point of view as well ... which seems unlikely.

Perhaps you are simply unfamiliar with the recent literature? It's been out since summer. In fact it was mentioned somewhat down the Wiki page ...

My advice is that you might not wish to cite it in future in the way you did, as the recent scholarship did show that however admirable Gould's views on "scientific racism" per se may have been, he was apparently, or at least debateably, perpetrating a conscious academic fraud. http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001071


But once again, if you wish to make categorical claims regarding a certain class of objects while refraining from stipulating precisely how you determine membership in the class, or what it is exactly that constitutes membership in the class, go ahead and make your argument.

You hardly need my permission to do so, and you do have my invitation.


In the meantime, here's a rather famous quotation from the A-T tradition for you to ruminate on:

"Spoken words are the symbols of mental experience and written words are the symbols of spoken words. Just as all men have not the same writing, so all men
have not the same speech sounds, but the mental experiences, which these directly symbolize, are the same for all, as also are those things of which our experiences are the images. This matter has, however, been discussed in my
treatise about the soul, for it belongs to an investigation distinct from that which lies before us."

DNW said...

(BTW, did you mean "qualitatively shift" rather than "quantitatively shift"?)


You shifted the quantity of the ostensible predication from all to some.

You also shifted from a categorical universal affirmative framing to a modal, or (possibly implicitly) hypothetical, based on some empirically based distribution you wished to affirm.

DNW said...

Ray Ingles,

By the way, I did follow your link to your personal musings page, and read through to the passages on the specialness of rainbows and humans and other material phenomena.

I would not doubt for a moment that if you say that certain phenomena stir awestruck feelings within you, or that subjectively speaking, you find them ennobling, that you are truthfully describing your subjective feelings.

But, while I do not doubt the sincerity of your rapturous feelings regarding them, I am not sure what it is you really wished to argue.


Every snowflake and frost bloom is of course special and unique (we presume), but that hardly stops anyone from clearing their windshields of what at times become an obvious nuisance.

I'll take another look, and see if I can figure out what it is your really wish to say ...

DNW said...

Ray Ingles writes,

(Also BTW, I actually haven't taken an explicit position on nominalism - particularly 'radical' nominalism - here. I dunno if I might be a quasi-Platonist; certainly it seems like the Mandelbrot Set might 'exist' in some sense - but it's not at all clear it has any causal power.)

Oh, F**k. (Sorry Professor Feser) Not another fractal based sweet-magical-mystery-of-me man.

Has this become the new line of argument for materialists and atheists who wish to preserve the scent of essences while dumping the concept?

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - "But once again, if you wish to make categorical claims regarding a certain class of objects while refraining from stipulating precisely how you determine membership in the class, or what it is exactly that constitutes membership in the class, go ahead and make your argument."

'Live humans with functional brains' isn't precise enough?

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - "Has this become the new line of argument for materialists and atheists who wish to preserve the scent of essences while dumping the concept?"

I don't recall posting any arguments with regard to anything like that yet. But if the word 'fractal' makes you break out in hives, substitute the value of pi or the abstract concept of the triangle. Again, there intuitively seems a sense that they 'exist' - but on the other hand, there seems no way they could exert any causal power.

goddinpotty said...

the Mandelbrot Set might 'exist' in some sense - but it's not at all clear it has any causal power.

Well, it clearly has causal power, because it has caused you and me to comment on it.

Of course if you define causality strictly in terms of physical force, then it doesn't. It isn't a physical thing (and possibly, neither are you and me).

E.H. Munro said...

"E.H. Munro - I didn't think it was your site. Just seemed your style, that's all. :)

I mean, it was a higher priority to point out you found her unattractive than to accuse her of hypocrisy. Obviously, though, she would have been right if you'd found her attractive."

Hmmmm, could you point out where in the following statement I made any remark to her looks at all?

"I could point out to Rebecca Watson that when you openly and publicly sexualize other people on your blog you’re not on very solid ground, by your own retarded standards, complaining about other people sexualizing you. This before getting into the cold hard reality that your “rights” stopped long before they reached that guy’s brain. (Or anyone else’s brain for that matter, aren’t you supposed to be rational? Do I really have to explain the concept of “Keep you hands off my body and my mind” to a bloody feminist?) Oh, and that whole feminist canard about men “taking advantages of power differences”, would that be like you using a public forum in front of dozens of gnus to publicly humiliate a couple of your coreligionists for having the gall to disagree with you? Doubly funny as your victims were fematheists too. Were you channeling your inner Phallocrat? Yeah, you’re a pretty rude person too. Not that there’s anything unusual in that amongst the gnu herd."

Because I'm not seeing anything in that statement about her looks at all. Her hypocrisy and manners, on the other hand...

As for her "being right if she were good looking" that's a complete non-sequitir (I understand logic isn't really plentiful there in the gnu herd, so you're just going to have to break down and acquire some). And as my humour requires a little thought, it has nothing in common with the sorts of websites you apparently prefer reading.

DNW said...

Ray Ingles writes,

"Live humans with functional brains' isn't precise enough?

January 5, 2012 10:55 AM"


It's your argument - if there is an argument waiting poised somewhere - to make Ray.

Set your premisses and draw your inferences any way your wish. You can continue to talk about rainbows and how they make you feel, if you feel compelled to do so and think that it demonstrates some philosophical point.

You can also talk about Mandelbrot sets, or for that matter anything else that doesn't test the limits of our host's no doubt wearing-thin patience, and adds light rather than mere heat.

As I have told you repeatedly, you don't need my permission.

Just remember that this isn't a Socratic dialog, and I am not obligated to applaud your gropings toward your goal, whatever that might be; just to judge for myself whether your reasoning is adequate to substantiate the social claims you (apparently) wish to eventually make.

SR said...

@The Deuce,

I just wonder when [naturalists will] be *fully* consistent in embracing their newfound post-modernism and stop presenting themselves as hard-headed disciples of "evidence", "science", "objectivity", and "reason".

Though I am not a naturalist, I am also not unsympathetic to some post-modernist moves. In particular, I regard "proof" as something that only occurs in mathematics. This does not mean that I consider reason to be absent in other areas -- in particular in metaphysics -- but it does mean that I consider it unreasonable to think one can arrive at metaphysical certainty. The best one can hope for is to think that one's metaphysical position is more plausible, taking everything into consideration (including a multitude of varying revelations), than all others one knows about. Reason being the means of judging plausibility.

I'm not sure if that is postmodernism, but I would like to hear how you would react to it.

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - "the social claims you (apparently) wish to eventually make."

I'm curious what you think those might be.

The way the conversation went, from my perspective: You stated that that 'nominalist materialists' have "no definitional reason to assume that all men have a qualitatively identical inner life".

I agreed with the "no definitional reason", but pointed out that they could have other reasons, and outlined an example.

You apparently think I'm trying to establish some social policy thereby. However, all I'm trying to do is demonstrate the possibility of alternate means of reaching the conclusion that "all men have a qualitatively identical inner life".

DNW said...

Ray Ingles says,

" all I'm trying to do is demonstrate the possibility of alternate means of reaching the conclusion that "all men have a qualitatively identical inner life"."

If that is what you wish to argue - mere alternate means by which you shall establish that " 'all men have a qualitatively identical inner life' "; without suggesting any additive implications which you have elsewhere implied the notion of a soul has been used to formulate, then please, by all means, go right ahead and do it.

But once again, and before we go too much further, I'll take the liberty of pointing out that you had previously modified the terms of the issue being mooted from a categorical proposition formulated in universal affirmative terms, to something very much less than that.

Now, if you are convinced that saying that "some men" or "most men" have substantially similar qualitative inner lives constitutes a sound major premiss for deducing the conclusion that "all men have a qualitatively identical inner life", then again, for the umpteenth time, go ahead and make your argument.

You don't have to stop every few moments, in effect asking, "Am I doing alright? Do you agree so far?" LOL

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - "without suggesting any additive implications which you have elsewhere implied the notion of a soul has been used to formulate"

Examples?

DNW said...

Ray Ingles writes,
"Examples?"

Try following your link to your own page.

Now, you can quit stalling and get busy making whatever argument you earlier implied you were about to make, or not.

It's up to you, Ray. And it's all the same to me either way.

Anonymous said...

The Deuce,

"I'm not sure if that is postmodernism, but I would like to hear how you would react to it."

Me too.

The Deuce said...

Hi, SR:

In particular, I regard "proof" as something that only occurs in mathematics.

This already puts you ahead of the guy grodriges responded to who, if his claims are actually taken at face value, indicated that mathematical findings are subject to empirical confirmation/disconfirmation. And remember, math follows from logic, not the other way around, so it should at least be worth looking into whether proof is possible in other areas.


but it does mean that I consider it unreasonable to think one can arrive at metaphysical certainty.

The obvious question here is, "How certain are you about that?" because the claim that it's unreasonable to think you can arrive at metaphysical certainty is itself a claim about metaphysics (and specifically our place in it), which you think that reason objectively shows.


The best one can hope for is to think that one's metaphysical position is more plausible, taking everything into consideration... than all others one knows about. Reason being the means of judging plausibility.

Well, of course everyone's own position is most plausible *to them*, which is what makes it their position. If you mean *objectively* more plausible, as in closer to the truth, or "would be more likely to be believed true by a perfectly reasonable person given the same information", then you are affirming the status of reason as a guide to truth, and so aren't a post-modernist (at least in the sense that I meant it, as a deconstructionist/relativist about truth and logic).

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - We already had a "normative" argument: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/10/reading-rosenberg-part-i.html

You apparently want to have another one, but that wasn't what I was going for. I was addressing one specific point, and referred to that page for that purpose.

If you want to talk about further implications, that's a separate issue.

Anonymous said...

The Duece,

"This already puts you ahead of the guy grodriges responded to who, if his claims are actually taken at face value, indicated that mathematical findings are subject to empirical confirmation/disconfirmation. And remember, math follows from logic, not the other way around, so it should at least be worth looking into whether proof is possible in other areas."

I notice the equivocation. I'm open to being corrected regarding math. But, math is built on definitions and axioms of your choosing. Whether the mathematical model you are using has any relevance to the world can still be in question. How about this? Changing the definitions (constraints, add more or leaving some out) lead to vastly different results. ie. Euclidean and Non Euclidean geometry. Is it true or not then that there is any Euclidean representation in the physical world? There is matter and energy so space is curved, non Euclidean. It's simpler to approximate using Euclidean but its not 'true'.

I'm not so convinced (and I'm a novice at metaphysics) how you can be so certain about your definitions of 'categories', 'universals', 'purpose', etc. Especially when applied to the non material world. How are you confident of your guesses about how the material and non material world interact?

How are you certain you have a 'good' definition (one that represents what actually happens) of time and beginning. I submit you don't.

I go back to quantum mechanics. It wasn't by pure reasoning that one could determine how things worked on a small scale. What gives you the confidence you can accurately do it with 'God'?

"If you mean *objectively* more plausible, as in closer to the truth, or "would be more likely to be believed true by a perfectly reasonable person given the same information", then you are affirming the status of reason as a guide to truth, and so aren't a post-modernist."

I probably wouldn't argue with that. If you'd like to say math is true, I'll agree. But, as Dennett says in the video I posted above. With math you have high confidence in your choosen definitions. When you start cantilevering out with things you really can't confirm in extension of your arguments your confidence plummets.

I'm open to being wrong because I'm not certain. I prefer to think in confidence intervals and relative probability.

DNW said...

Ray Ingles says today...

DNW - We already had a "normative" argument: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/10/reading-rosenberg-part-i.html

You apparently want to have another one, but ..." January 6, 2012 7:13 AM


Hold on Ray. Please refer to my post of yesterday, January 5, 2012 1:50 PM. It is only the last and latest in a series of invitations to you yesterday, and in this very thread - using Edward Feser's bandwidth - to post whatever the hell argument you want to post.

To wit:

"If that is what you wish to argue - mere alternate means by which you shall establish that " 'all men have a qualitatively identical inner life' "; without suggesting any additive implications which you have elsewhere implied the notion of a soul has been used to formulate, then please, by all means, go right ahead and do it."


Or earlier that same day, at January 5, 2012 12:03 PM


"It's your argument - if there is an argument waiting poised somewhere - to make Ray.

Set your premisses and draw your inferences any way your wish. You can continue to talk about rainbows and how they make you feel, if you feel compelled to do so and think that it demonstrates some philosophical point."


See Ray? You are and have been free to make any argument you want. You have had not only my permission but my repeated and explicit invitations to do so.

Hiding behind me now, and implying that I am stopping you from doing so because the day before yesterday I surmised some logical implications which someone taking up your position on class membership and attribute possession would eventually face, is highly unconvincing.

You are in fact coming off as a real autistic case.

And hey, you didn't even thank me for saving you from further embarassment regarding Gould's scientifically fraudulent polemic. Think of the ongoing embarassement you would suffer if I had, without comment or warning, allowed you to continue to strut around citing that book as if it were some kind of fact filled gospel.

Yet, not a word of thanks.

That makes you seem ungrateful, as well.

So, you go ahead and do or don't as seems safest to you. It's all the same to me either way.

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous:

"But, math is built on definitions and axioms of your choosing."

The choice of axioms is not arbitrary (which it seems is what you think), rather it is motivated and justified by various sorts of considerations, both mathematical and philosophical, that I will not go into.

"Is it true or not then that there is any Euclidean representation in the physical world? There is matter and energy so space is curved, non Euclidean. It's simpler to approximate using Euclidean but its not 'true'."

Look, a theory modeling some slice of reality, say General Relativity, uses some mathematical tools and does not use others. So according to GR, our spacetime is a 4d Lorentizan manifold and Einstein's equation connects the distribution of matter and energy to the geometry of the manifold codified by the metric. In particular, and assuming that GR is an accurate picture of reality (which a lot of considerations which I will not go into show that it cannot be), it says that spacetime has only 4 dimensions (and not say 3 or 24 or infinite dimensions) and it has certain *specific* structures (it is a smooth manifold, it is orientable, it has a Lorentizan metric, etc.).

What conclusion do you want to draw from this? The status of Euclidean geometry as a *mathematical* theory has not changed one iota. Sure, it is not anymore a good model for physical spacetime (although only at the large scale or in "unusual" conditions, as Engineers in most cases continually to operate in blissful ignorance of GR), but so what?

"I'm not so convinced (and I'm a novice at metaphysics) how you can be so certain about your definitions of 'categories', 'universals', 'purpose', etc. Especially when applied to the non material world. How are you confident of your guesses about how the material and non material world interact?"

This is a very stupid question. The proof of say Feit-Thompson's theorem takes up some 200 pages of difficult mathematics. How are mathematicians sure that there is not an error somewhere in there? Well, they *study* the proof...

Besides, what is causation? what is order? what is a physical law? Physics *presupposes* these notions, all of them metaphysical at bottom, so if you follow the rules of your game consistently, your skepticism entails skepticism of the natural sciences themselves.

grodrigues said...

@Anonymous (continued):

"How are you certain you have a 'good' definition (one that represents what actually happens) of time and beginning. I submit you don't."

For someone who admits that he is a novice at metaphysics you sure have some definite opinions on it. And your comments actually show that the qualifier "ignorant of" is more appropriate.

"I go back to quantum mechanics. It wasn't by pure reasoning that one could determine how things worked on a small scale. What gives you the confidence you can accurately do it with 'God'?"

I go back to mathematics. What gives you good reason to think the Feit-Thompson theorem is true? Repeat with me: you study the proof. The same with metaphysics; you study the arguments.

"But, as Dennett says in the video I posted above. With math you have high confidence in your choosen definitions. When you start cantilevering out with things you really can't confirm in extension of your arguments your confidence plummets."

This is hopelessly confused. What does it mean to have high confidence in chosen definitions? And sticking to mathematics, you really cannot confirm anything in mathematics outside the arguments offered, so what exactly are you trying to say?

If you wish to maintain that rational arguments are not enough for the *empirical sciences*, whoever disputed that? If you wish to maintain that rational arguments are not enough, full stop, then no rational argument you can provide is enough to substantiate the claim that "rational arguments are not enough" -- in other words it is a self-refuting position.

Bottom line: clear your mind of cant (as Dr. Johnson admonished), drop the self-refuting scientism, go read a book.

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - "Please refer to my post of yesterday, January 5, 2012 1:50 PM"

I refer you to my post of January 5, 2012 6:01 AM, where I outlined an argument and didn't get a response.

To summarize things even further: "Me have inner life. If materialism, then inner life come from brain. Live humans with functional brains all seem to process about same. So, reason to assume inner life for them too."

That's only an outline of an argument, though I've linked to something that fleshes out a few sections of it.

Now, before we walk hand-in-hand down such a garden path... does this seem like something you could accept as an argument (whether or not it's a good or bad argument)?

"And hey, you didn't even thank me for saving you from further embarassment regarding Gould's scientifically fraudulent polemic."

I referred to it as an illustration of historic 'scientific' racism, but your cautions are welcome. You're quite correct that Gould was demonstrably wrong about Morton; other points, such as "g", are... a little more nuanced, at the very least.

SR said...

The Deuce,

My reason for saying that proof only exists in mathematics is, as Anonymous @7:50 says, is that all the terms used in a mathematical proof are self-contained. Mathematics does not refer to anything outside of itself. This is not the case in metaphysics, or in science.

Now I do not say that metaphysics has no rational arguments, but how logical they are depends on agreeing with certain assumptions and on the univocal definition of the terms used. If one disagrees with the conclusions, it is seldom difficult to find an assumption that was used that one can disagree with. So how does one adjudicate between assuming X versus assuming Y?

The best answer I can give to that question is to use abduction, that is, what overall view of everything does one get assuming X versus assuming Y, and then just choosing one or the other as "most plausible". But then what does that mean? Well, one can make some stabs at it, like coherency, and agreement with experience, but there isn't (in metaphysics) any objective way to be certain one has made the right choice. So I think at bottom it is just an intuitive choice.

Which should make sense, since metaphysics is about more than the objective, and to assume that only the objective is real is, of course, a metaphysical choice, one that I strongly disagree with.

You said:

If you mean *objectively* more plausible, as in closer to the truth, or "would be more likely to be believed true by a perfectly reasonable person given the same information", then you are affirming the status of reason as a guide to truth, and so aren't a post-modernist (at least in the sense that I meant it, as a deconstructionist/relativist about truth and logic).

I agree and disagree with this. One could say that I used the word 'objective' in a somewhat different sense than you do here, but I think this difference is relevant. One thing I agree with in postmodernist thinking (at least as Rorty put it) is that there are different kinds of truth, that different intellectual activities have differing methods of arriving at their kind of truth. They all use reason, but they have different kinds of criteria. For example, science uses experiments on objects, while law courts depend on apparent trustworthiness of witnesses, historians depend on apparent authenticity of documents, and so forth. So what do metaphysicians use?

In my opinion, the discipline that metaphysics is closest to is, as it turns out, mathematics, in that there is nothing outside the system against which it can be tested. Except perhaps one, and that is the effect a commitment to the system has on the metaphysician. Now I do think there is an absolutely true "way things are", but since we can't look to see what that is, the only clue we might have is to consider those effects ("by their fruits you will know them"), but then that raises further issues and I've gone on long enough.

DNW said...

Ray Ingles writes:

" 'To summarize things even further: "Me have inner life. If materialism, then inner life come from brain. Live humans with functional brains all seem to process about same. So, reason to assume inner life for them too.'

That's only an outline of an argument, though I've linked to something that fleshes out a few sections of it.

Now, before we walk hand-in-hand down such a garden path... does this seem like something you could accept as an argument (whether or not it's a good or bad argument)? "


I don't know what it's supposed to be an argument for: The previously mooted categorical proposition that, " ... all men have a qualitatively identical inner life ..." ?

Because that is not what you are even trying to argue in what you now present.

Perhaps what you are now trying to argue is not about "all men" as a class of beings, but about the existence of Some Men that, as near as you can tell, have brains which Probably present them with Qualitatively Similar experiences to that of Some Other Men: *assuming* that these subjects have brains that are shown to work the same way, and that the brains that are shown to work the same way are undamaged or unwarped, and that we would on materialist premisses somehow still be justified in saying the following: That of the number of those potentially similar brains which do not in fact work in the same way because of "defect", it would nonetheless be correct on some grounds or other to continue to impute to them membership in the class of Similarly Working Brains. Which is technically speaking, a class to which they do not on strict empirical grounds really belong. But imputed nonetheless, despite the fact that as good little materialists we don't believe in concepts like teleology, or in the way things "properly should be because of some essential nature they possess"



By the way, your "Me have inner life" bit is irrelevant to making your case that an inner life (of some unspecified kind or quality) exists in any human having a brain, and that therefore if possessing a functioning brain, then experiencing an inner life.

It's simply not needed if you wish to stipulate that a functioning brain necessarily means an inner life ... of some kind or another

The developed, "Me have inner life", "You like-same me", "You got same inner life too", is in fact a nice example of a rather famous fallacy used to illustrate logic texts. See, C. West Churchman, "Elements of logic and formal science" 1940, for an example.

So,

No I would not accept your argument. And I certainly would not, to answer your question, accept it "whether or not it's a good or bad argument"


And now I think I'll bow out of this conversation since it's obvious that we are merely chewing up Feser's bandwidth to no good end.

You of course, are free to do as you wish. And I am sure that some are still waiting patiently for you to develop your argument. Whatever that argument might be.

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - "No I would not accept your argument."

I didn't ask you to accept it. I asked you if you would classify it as an argument at all, whether good or bad. You went on for a while working to classify it as a bad argument, so apparently you do, actually, think it's an argument.

Maybe someday we'll come back and address some of your points about it (of course, you attacked the baby-talk version of it, which was deliberately 'strawmanned' to show its (essential?) nature as an argument at all, not meant to actually establish a case). Be well until then.

Anonymous said...

To caracterize William Lane Craig inner testimony of the Holy Spirit as voices in my head is a great stretch..

one must go to Alvin Plantinga and look for his pressuposionalist defence, reformed epistemology and his doctrine of basic beliefs, like the belief that I really had lived 5 minutes ago and not pop up with this memories now.

Would be awesome if crimes were commited in front of judges, but until there, the only guy who knows you didn't commit a murder is you and the murdered, even if the real murder make all evidence look like it was you.

And if you don't have any reason to distrust your senses, if they work properly, you can rely on your inner witness, while members of other religions, which think they have this witness (another stretch, a budist have a very different way to feel "God", like a oneness with nature) but in reality, and by evidence, they don't.

Anonymous said...

I remember chatting with Craig after a debate with an athiest at the University of Maryland. About a dozen people were around Craig asking him questions and he was very charitable. I recall mentioning to him a quote by Peter Kreeft relevant to something that came up in the debate. Craig was very interested in the quote and discussed it with me and asked a few questions on the subject. He was a very nice guy.

DNW said...

Ray Ingles said...

DNW - "No I would not accept your argument."

I didn't ask you to accept it. I asked you if you would classify it as an argument at all, whether good or bad. You went on for a while working to classify it as a bad argument, so apparently you do, actually, think it's an argument."


Ray,

On the restricted matter of whether or not I think or acknowledge that you have made an argument of some kind.

Why don't we clarify, for the future, what such a presumably tacit admission such as you suppose, might actually imply or not imply.

To do so, let's refer to a what is probably a well-known passage, one with which we were all once immediately familiar.


"Although the process of inference is not of interest to logicians, corresponding to every possible inference is an argument, and it is with these arguments that logic is chiefly concerned. An argument, in this sense, is any group of propositions of which one is claimed to follow from the others, which are regarded as providing grounds for the truth of that one." Irving Copi

Now, since you seem to believe that some of the propositions you mooted provide grounds for concluding the truth of some other propositions which you either stated or imply, then I think that it is fair to say that I assume that you believe that you have made, or are in the process of making, some kind of argument or another.

In order to say so I do not have to conclude that the structure of your assumed argument is coherent or valid or would lead anywhere, nor that some of the premisses would in fact technically follow from others, nor that any of the premisses are themselves sound propositions.

I hope this helps to clarify the matter.

Anonymous said...

Well...hmm...

I remember Peter Kreefts words in refusing to debate a deconstructionalist primarily because they lack integrity (which is a necessary conclusion from such a universal standard of judgment). So in a way, if Dawkins has the equivolent, albeit "apparent" view of William, I suppose his dismissal makes sense.

What doesn't make sense, however, is debating with only Bishops/Cardinals/Popes...It seems as if his point here is merely this: Those who are in authority, which of itself is a fallacy.

While the clergy are educated in philosophy, their given vocation may not be toward debate or even philosophy itself. Laity should be respected in their field, simply for what they know, rather than what position they hold.

As for characterizing William C. as absurd as a deconstructionalist, I'd have to conclude that would not be true or fair. In any case, not entering into a debate does not give us the right to impute motives on Dawkins. Calling him a Coward to me is merely a device that detracts from arguments. While I can empathize with frustration on him not being open to dialogue, I must say we should be careful not to market the same tactics of fallacious reasoning many in the Athiestic Agenda employ. We ought to not only espouse a Christian philosophy, but live it to...FYI - preaching this to myself as well.

Deacon Chris