Wednesday, June 20, 2012

McGinn on atheism

The Spring 2012 issue of Theoretical and Applied Ethics contains a symposium on Ethics, Atheism, and Religion.  The lead essay is by Colin McGinn and is followed by responses from me, Steve Fuller, Ted Peters, and Robert Sinclair.  All the essays can be read online, so go take a look.

59 comments:

Arthur said...

I thought McGinn was doing rather well until he deployed what was basically a variant of the 'One God Further' argument. Then I was disappointed.

Hunt said...

The straightness of the sides of a triangle in Euclidean geometry is implied by the axioms of the geometry, so that analogy doesn't hold. There are geometries where sides are not straight, unsurprisingly called non-Euclidean geometry. If however, what you mean is that the notion of God could be called axiomatic, this is not far from the atheist position that God is created from social norms.

Anonymous said...

Fuller does not appear to understand much of Thomistic arguments and metaphysics. His criticism appears to amount to "oh you sound like a sophist".

Hunt said...

"utterly One" ??? What does that mean. Much of what you write almost smacks of New Age BS.

Untenured said...

Fuller makes accusations of "sophistry" and "question-begging" but fails to substantiate either charge. If he really thinks that non-probabalistic demonstrations are attempts to render a position "irrefutable" by mere stipulation, then he is as confused as McGinn.

Anonymous said...

"'utterly One' ??? What does that mean. Much of what you write almost smacks of New Age BS."

aka: I'm a confused, petulant, disingenuous, trigger-happy, arrogant rube.

Arthur said...

"utterly One" ??? What does that mean.'

Here's a tip, Hunt. Maybe you should find out what it means so that you can be a rational, well-informed critic of those ideas. It'll be a lot more impressive than the argument from personal incredulity and ignorance you're proffering here.

Such proud ignorance is sadly rather common. What do those silly theists mean by 'pure act', or 'Being itself', or 'utterly one'? I can't understand it, therefore it must be 'New Age BS'. It can't be that these are simply technical terms that I could become familiar with if I put in the effort. After all, we already know that theism is wrong, so what's the point in trying to understand it... right?

Eduardo said...

Funny, Mcginn is pretty much saying the "classic" or "theist bias bigoted" definition of atheism...

I wonder...WHY!!! with so many atheists always saying that atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods, how come all of a sudden he defines it differently ...

He totally forgot the memo U_U mannn.

________________________________

But in other words... the first two paragraphs from Mcginn was better than all the stuff I read in the from atheists, usually the whole thing is "BS, there is no that there i no this, you are a fool." and it ends there

sort of like what Hunt just did a while ago.

Sorry Hunt, no fun letting you have all the rant and fun by yourself.

Eduardo said...

Errr... Wait is he going with God is like Santa and Sagan's dragon ???

Sure there is no fucking differente between them, a dragon that is not defined as something you would call a dragon, and could just as well exist only to the person making the claim annndd.... a philantropist human being.

Another thing I don't get, isss ... well, if I were to hold that we must think about those creatures and God beginning from some sort of experience, I would just be agnostic about the Dragon and suspicious of Santa non existence, because well ... I never believed in Santa to begin with; I lived in an apartment, there was no chaminey for santa to go down. Now God, is something really different. It is immaterial, now you can believe there is no such thing as immaterial through some well worked metaphysics, you know to avoid the bad and old: "there is only matter, however I don't know what matter is I am waiting on science to tell me "; you know, the approach that pretty much will never reveal to you what matter is and your belief will be forever on hold... quite literally.

And usually gods tend to be transcendent entities, but Santa and Sagan Not-Dragon tend to be pretty much like you and me, but who knows right, I can feel the pathological skpeticism going through my mind. I mean, to be quite sincere, Mcginn excuse to why he is an Atheist ... is bad. It might be A-okay for people that already belief there no gods to feel that the argument is really damn good, but coming from a position of "don't know, wants to know, beliefs it is possible to know this."; Mcginn's arguments sounds really bad.

Eduardo said...

I can almost see the "Extra-ordinary claims..." forming itself out of Mcginn's writing haahhaha.

but anyyyways, this was the kind of article I would love to read from atheists, not weak arguments, but the civil, rational way to deal with questions, if anything Mcginn and atheism wins a point just by that xD.

Anonymous said...

Given McGinn's almost Leiter-like propensity for pettiness and personal vindictiveness, don't be surprised if a hostile "review" of one Ed's books mysteriously appears out of the ether.

Eduardo said...

Leiter as in ... Pants of fire Leiter ????

Richard said...

This isn't a comment about the essays, but is tangenitaly related to the issue in question, I suppose. Leah Libresco, an athiest blogger over at Patheos.com, has recently converted to Catholocism due to her exploration of morality and ethics. And of course, atheists all over the net are flipping their lid.

James said...

Wow, yeah, I admit to being a bit startled by Fuller’s venom, the source of which I don’t quite understand. I seem to recall he’s an ID defender (of sorts); maybe some bad blood from previous discussions? He seems to argue that the advent of modern science and technology required a personalist conception of God-as-mechanic, but even if true, that impugns rather than addresses Feser’s position.

McGinn’s essay was pretty same-old, same-old, but nonetheless (IMO) fairly reasonable. I find myself growing more and more perturbed by the rhetorical trick of continually redefining atheism, making it difficult to pin down and examine; it’s nice to see someone stating the simple truth. If you’re unconvinced by arguments for God, then it’s perfectly reasonable to disbelieve his existence.

Brian said...

I get a "duplicate header" error when I try to access any of the PDFs. Can anyone provide me with a good link?

Anonymous said...

Brian, you are probably using another browser. I got the same error while attempting to access it via Chrome. I went to IE and it worked fine.

Anonymous said...

Fuller just left me shaking my head. He clearly doesn't understand Feser's arguments.

BeingItself said...

Feser's blinkered parochialism once again undermines any hope for serious engagement.

But it is clear from McGinn's essay, says the Hindu Holy Man, that McGinn just does not grasp the finer points of Vishnu theology. Thus, he is a pre-Hindu.

PatrickH said...

Wow, BI uses Courtier's Reply to defend McGinn who uses One God Further. Non-argument deployed in defense of non-argument! Rhetorical evasion deployed in support of evasion by rhetoric!

Ah, the New Atheists. They not only read the same set of books, go to the same set of conferences, preach to the same set of choirs, they even complete the job of causal closure of the universe into which they've sealed themselves by using the same pseudo-arguments to protect one another when they use a different one of those pseudo-arguments to score the same pseudo-points in the non-debate they're having with nobody but themselves.

Man, I haven't seen a group of self-described free thinkers disappear up their own fundamental apertures with the quite the same valve-snapping finality as the New Atheists have. What a self-cancelling bunch. Slow down on the ouroboric autophagous self-annihilation there, fellas. When you're all gone, nobody will remember you were ever there and in the meantime your self-consumption is an object lesson in the perils of thinking you can make big pronouncements about stuff being nonsense without ever...doing...the...reading. Finish chowing down on your own seed capital, you won't be around next year to show everybody else how not to do things. And that would a loss to us. Really.

But seriously, folks. You've got to start feeding your minds on something other than the echoes inside your skulls. Come on out, guys. There's a whole world of wonders outside your cave of shadows. There's even some light being shed!

It would be nice to have a real debate with you for once. Come on. You can do it!

goddinpotty said...

@PatrickH -- nice rant, but it applies equally to both sides.

The atheism/theism debate is extremely dull because of the epistemic closure on both sides, and consequent failure to engage. I'm not sure why I still keep getting drawn to it. I guess it's for the same reason some folks like pro wrestling -- it's not like this is a real battle with real stakes, but it's still fun to watch people break rhetorical chairs over each other's head.

Eduardo said...

In other words... to Potty this is ONE BIG WRESTLEMANIA SHOW, now that is awesome XD.

David T said...

GIP,

Yes, a lot of the discussion seems to go nowhere, but I'm not sure I agree with the epistemic closure.

Feser's point is fairly simple: "God" as understood in the major Western religions is not just another possible being in the universe (like Santa Claus or a Flying Spaghetti Monster), but the ground of being itself. The "One God Further" argument makes a simple category mistake.

It is absolutely true that if the atheist then keeps repeating the One God Further argument, as though Feser never made his reply, then the argument never advances. But who's fault is that?

There are plenty of ways for the atheist to proceed: Deny that talking about the Ground of Being or Being Itself makes sense; or, even if it does make sense, we don't have good reasons to believe such a thing exists; or perhaps to argue that the One God Further argument doesn't make a category mistake. But to simply go on as though no reply was ever made, then claim that both sides aren't engaging, is not, I think, accurate to the situation.

rank sophist said...

Feser's article was the philosophical equivalent of a particularly vicious diss track. Very nicely done. I have to give McGinn credit--despite his Dawkins-esque arguments against theism--for his brave, concrete definition of atheism, though. The average Gnu would never be so bold.

Fuller's article was pretty terrible. His handwaving in response to Feser's arguments made me question his academic credentials, as did his bizarre explanation of Euclidean geometry. You don't get a perfect triangle by "scaling up" a normal triangle. A perfect triangle is an abstraction; it's something that can't exist. No amount of mental or physical "scaling up" could get you to a perfect triangle. Also, his claim that this--and univocity generally--is similar to nominalism is absolutely wrong. From my reading, Ockham proposed a God so utterly removed from our existence, so completely unknowable, that even Aquinas's theology began to look like personalism. This is the tradition into which Luther was indoctrinated; and, as a result, you can see it in the inscrutable deity proposed by early Protestants like Calvin. Where, exactly, is the univocity here?

Further, for the nominalist, only the bare particular exists, and single instances are falsely united by language. This applies even to numbers--the method for describing a perfect triangle--, as far as I know. But, if this is the case, then what is Fuller talking about? Not only is a perfect triangle impossible without universals, but it is something whose existence a nominalist, from my reading, would have denied. All I can gather is that he has horribly confused Scotus and Ockham, as his argument here is a Frankenstein's monster of contradictory ideas.

In addition, he asserts that nominalism fueled the Scientific Revolution (capitalization his); but he then conveniently forgets to add that it also destroyed it. Nominalism can be found in the fideistic fundamentalism currently plaguing religion; Hume's infinitely destructive skepticism; Nietzsche's idea of a fundamentally violent universe; the eventual collapse of philosophy into the meaningless language games of logical positivism and the Heraclitean nihilism of continental post-modernism; and even idiocy like eliminative materialism. One can only ask: where is your Scientific Revolution now, Fuller?

As an aside, I must say that I was a bit disgusted by his ignorant Eurocentrism--which he shares, to a certain extent, with McGinn--regarding monotheism and polytheism. Polytheism has not been "supplanted" by monotheism even to this day, and it was even less "supplanted" during the era that he was describing.

rank sophist said...

But it is clear from McGinn's essay, says the Hindu Holy Man, that McGinn just does not grasp the finer points of Vishnu theology. Thus, he is a pre-Hindu.

Is this supposed to be some kind of damning rebuttal? Too bad; because I agree with you, and I'm not even a Hindu. McGinn's ignorance regarding religion and theism is all-encompassing, and it would probably do him good to read up on everything from traditional Christianity and Islam to Hinduism and Buddhism. His argument fails across the board.

goddinpotty said...

@David T -- you are right, the One God Further argument is not a good reply to Feser. However, there is a good or at least apposite response, which I've made here several times and linked to an article by physicist Sean Carroll that articulates it pretty well. Briefly, sure, if by "God" you mean nothing more than "the ground of existence" or "the single necessary being" or something else equally abstract and bloodless, then atheists /have no problem with it/, although they might not judge it to be a very useful way of talking. But "God" also generally denotes a /person/, someone who /loves/ his creations, who gets /angry/ with them, who /judges/ and /intervenes/ in human affairs. That is quite a different story. Feser's trick is to posit arguements for the first meaning while covertly or overtly trying to sneak in the consequences of the second.

Anyway, I have yet to see a good reply to this argument here, so ball's in your court.

Arthur said...

"If by "God" you mean nothing more than "the ground of existence" or "the single necessary being" or something else equally abstract and bloodless, then atheists /have no problem with it..."

As I understand it, the problem is that once Aquinas has established the existence of Being Itself and a First Cause, he then goes on, throughout hundreds of pages of argumentation, to work out the attributes of this "necessary being". When he's done, that thing sounds an awful lot like God and not at all like "The Universe" of something atheism-friendly. At least, that's the pitch.

In other words, Thomists don't mean "nothing more than the ground of existence" by the word "God". There's plenty of stuff that atheists are most definitely not going to like in there too, and it's supported by hundreds of pages of argumentation.

But then, I'm sure the Thomists here can tell you more about those arguments than I can.

Hunt said...

Such proud ignorance is sadly rather common. What do those silly theists mean by 'pure act', or 'Being itself', or 'utterly one'? I can't understand it, therefore it must be 'New Age BS'. It can't be that these are simply technical terms that I could become familiar with if I put in the effort. After all, we already know that theism is wrong, so what's the point in trying to understand it... right?


You have a point, IF it's a technical definition, and not something like "the one of ones." You know, you could provide it. Regardless, I did cross the line into incivility and so I apologize.

Hunt said...

But then, I'm sure the Thomists here can tell you more about those arguments than I can.

If so, they're not often repeated. It's more common that they reference the fundamental necessary entity, ignoring a survey of any other religions that might also rest their beliefs on such an entity (i.e. remaining atheist w.r.t. them), then launch into discussions about the implications of a personal Christian God, conveniently ignoring the fact that they've just made a giant leap of faith. Non-Thomist WL Craig at least goes so far as to posit that this "entity" is actually a "being" or mind, since what began the material must stand outside the material world. In so doing, he of course begs the entire question of dualism, but it does get him at least as far as Deism.

I strongly suspect that the reasoning here goes like, we've gotten so far as to accept an entity that founds the universe, and the being described by God in the Bible founds the universe. They have to be the same thing! This disregards the distinct possibility that both lines have a common thread.

The basic question is how do you get from Deism to Theism, and that is not easy to answer.

rank sophist said...

Hunt,

Most people have not spent a lot of time reading the Theologica and contra Gentiles. The explanations are in there, in detail. There's no jump at all. Plus, if you accept all five Ways, then you're already dealing with a God who causes all change and creation at every moment, who is necessary rather than contingent, who is the source of all perfections, and who directs all living things toward their final causes. In other words, a God who is beyond infinite, beyond all-powerful and beyond perfect, and who has a direct hand in everything. Also, this deity is apparently interested enough in humans to give them the ultimate gift of existence.

This version of God generally corresponds to those of traditional Judaism, Islam and other religions. This is one key reason why the One God Further objection fails: we aren't necessarily atheists about other versions of God. We disagree on doctrine and ritual, but the major religions are far more similar than atheists realize. I am not an atheist with regard to Allah--I merely disagree with certain Muslim characterizations of Him.

BenYachov said...

>But "God" also generally denotes a /person/, someone who /loves/ his creations, who gets /angry/ with them, who /judges/ and /intervenes/ in human affairs.

Thomist believe all that too except analogously not unequivocally.

God can't "intervene" in human affairs because He is already involved causing them here and now simply TO BE.

I'm sure there is something for Atheists to dislike. They just have to learn enough philosophy to articulate what it is.

Eduardo said...

Potty you are incorrect. If the ground reality is personal, and has free will ... we tend to call that sort of a thing a god.

Atheists therefore hold that the ground reality is just some shit happens kind of deal. No particular reason to be that way or this way it just is the way it is


C'mon you heard that before didn't you O_O LOOK IN MY FREAKING EYES and admit it, you heard fellow atheists saying that didn't you.

David T said...

GIP,

That's fair enough. If we accept the metaphysical necessity of a ground of existence, then everything in the universe requires that ground, i.e. not just molecules but rational minds, personalities and free wills. All these things must implicitly be in the ground of existence (at least virtually as their ultimate cause). This is how you get to a personal God.

Now you no doubt won't accept this, but this is where the game is. Feser's frustrated by the fact that professional philosophers, who should know better, are still retailing the One God Further and similar arguments. Loudly and in public. How is it that the public debate is stuck at a level of simplicity you and I just got beyond in a couple of comm box remarks?

If we want to pursue it further, we don't really need Feser. The ground is well-covered by earlier philosophers like Gilson, Maritain, Josef Pieper, among many others. Feser's mission doesn't seem to be to repeat all that earlier work, but alert people to its existence by challenging the simplistic arguments of New Atheists. I discovered the Neo-Thomists on my own years ago by browsing used bookstores in Cambridge, MA, and found out that most of what I thought I knew about classical philosophy was a gross caricature.

There is no need for Feser to replow all that ground. If he can get people to understand that most New Atheist arguments, far from refuting classical arguments for God, don't even engage them, and get them past the modernist barrier to a genuine encounter with classical philosophy, then he's done a magnificent and noble thing as far as I am concerned.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Doctor Feser is indeed a magnificent and noble thing!

grodrigues said...

@Arthur:

"As I understand it, the problem is that once Aquinas has established the existence of Being Itself and a First Cause, he then goes on, throughout hundreds of pages of argumentation, to work out the attributes of this "necessary being". When he's done, that thing sounds an awful lot like God and not at all like "The Universe" of something atheism-friendly. At least, that's the pitch."

And you understand it right. The Questions on God of Aquinas' Summa Theologica runs about 300 pages. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's God: His Existence and His Nature devotes about 500 pages to the subject. These are just two examples.

But let goddinpotty allow his ignorance to do the talking. I fear it is incurable.

BeingItself said...

"The Questions on God of Aquinas' Summa Theologica runs about 300 pages. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's God: His Existence and His Nature devotes about 500 pages to the subject."

Argument by page number. Feser uses a similar argument is TLS: argument by number of books on his bookshelf. The Hindus likewise have thousands of books and thousands of pages.

I have a finite lifetime. I have read about a dozen books on Christian apologetics, all of them lousy with specious reasoning, factual errors, and logical fallacies . . . including TLS. How many more books should I read on this topic?

Eduardo said...

It means ... go there ON THAT PAGE AND READ IT .... shit shouldn't be hard to guess this one.

Anonymous said...

"How many more books should I read on this topic?"

How about prove to us that you have actually understood a single chapter in one you've already read, instead of obnoxiously touting all the "fallacies" you've unveiled?

Or maybe offer an argument worth the dignity of actually engaging? I won't hold my breath.

David T said...

BI,

You should read no more books on this topic if you don't find them valuable. Especially as time is limited. Why you keep spending your time posting to a blog discussing philosophers you don't want to read is a mystery.

Eduardo said...

BI, the whole deal of talking about number of pages is to show how big the conversation is there.

Well speaking of fallacies, isn't that an unsubstanciated argument you just did, just claiming something without even trying to show you are right ???


yeah ... it is ... unless a part of your comment got erased.

Ismael said...

@ Godinpotty

I think the fallacy of Sean Caroll article can be summed up in his last paragraph:

"The universe is going to keep existing without any help, peacefully solving its equations of motion along the way; if we want to find meaning through compassion and love, we have to create it ourselves."


This is a very bad statement, both philosophically AND scientifically.

It fails to recognize the difference between the theory of the world we created to explained it (i.e. the equation of motion) which are descriptions of ideal situations and reality itself.

The very idea that the 'laws of nature' as we describe them are real is an illusion, or rather, an abstraction and not direct reality.

Reality DOES obey some rules, and scientific theories are nothing more than an abstract description of them, not something real in itself.


For example: gravitation IS real. Apples fall from the tree and hit Newton on his melon.

Newton's and Einstein's gravitation theories and laws, however, are just 'drawings' of gravitation.

So they are to gravitation what a drawing of you is to you. Sometimes very crude drawings indeed.

To note that even Einstein's gravitation law has some competitors and might in itself be partially wrong as Newton's was.

His article/blog post then commits this and other fallacies that hardly critiques classical theism at all.


Simply to state that the universe 'solves equations of motion', even if meant metaphorically, is a fallacious statement as equation of motion exist only in our explanation of reality, not reality as such.


This shows how many scientists who can DO physics, perhaps do not really UNDERSTAND physics, beyond their little research project (and any research is little in the grand scheme of reality).

I think Feymann, even if even he was pretty awful at philosophy, as a scientist understood this.

That is why he said that we can DO quantum mechanics, but no one really understands quantum mechanics.

Arthur said...

I love the way BI openly won't read hundreds of pages of reasoning that resist his preconceptions. I wonder what he makes of "The God Delusion", which also spans hundreds of pages, or "The Origin of Species"?

One wonders why BI is even here. What could he hope to gain? If we're all clueless, just leave us to our confusion; you have little to learn from us. If we're not, engage with our arguments.

rank sophist said...

Argument by page number. Feser uses a similar argument is TLS: argument by number of books on his bookshelf. The Hindus likewise have thousands of books and thousands of pages.

I have a finite lifetime. I have read about a dozen books on Christian apologetics, all of them lousy with specious reasoning, factual errors, and logical fallacies . . . including TLS. How many more books should I read on this topic?


Once again, you admit to being an intellectually dishonest troll. Please, regale us with these "factual errors" and "logical fallacies".

Eduardo said...

Well, I started to realise how wrong is to say that science has necessarily proved one's metaphysics to be right. In Sean Carroll's case is naturalism, but I suppose this can be applied to any metaphysical position.

For instance, when we are doing science, we have to define very clearly what we are studying and what is happening. Now the scientist will obviously define things through his metaphysics, because ... well that is what he believes that exist!

So he defines what is there in the experiment through his epistemological theories and metaphysical theories, or someting between those lines.

And then ... the explanation of what is happening there follows from ... well his own metaphysics! He will explain it within his own set of beliefs/philosophies. So... what we conclude from the universe after we have already postulated that the universe is exactly the way we believe the universe to be.... well THAT THE UNIVERSE IS THE WAY WE BELIEVE THE UNIVERSE TO BE!!!!!!

that sort of answer your question BI, to why metaphysics can't be bothered by science, because it happen BEFORE science ever takes place. Well Feser did replied to you, but you sort of ignored, said that if metaphysics can be infered from experience than another experience can refute it ... you STOPPED THERE, so don't even try to lie like you did with the Heisenberg deal; instead of quoting the guy you said what he said with your own words... of course after you read the thing, he was talking about mechanicism, not really Law of causality... but who knows maybe he did said something of the sort somewhere.

So anyways, just realised how we do circular reasoning when it comes to inferring from science, or rather ... from the theories of science, that our particular metaphysics is right.

So Am I wrong? Am I right?

oh for those who think I am wrong, and will just stop there ... you know say that I am just wrong and that is it. Don't post, don't waste your time posting a freaking one liner

Anonymous said...

Arthur said...
I love the way BI openly won't read hundreds of pages of reasoning that resist his preconceptions. I wonder what he makes of "The God Delusion", which also spans hundreds of pages, or "The Origin of Species"?

One wonders why BI is even here. What could he hope to gain? If we're all clueless, just leave us to our confusion; you have little to learn from us. If we're not, engage with our arguments.


Well he's a troll. No wonder he and GIP are often ignored.

They should be ignored as a matter of fact, unless they contribute meaningfully to the discussion.

I suppose trolls are like dogs and need to be trained. Only they make potty through their keyboards.

reighley said...

@Eduardo,
I certainly agree that we carry some of our preconceptions with us when we engage in model building. That said, if reasoning by analogy in this way were entirely circular, why would we do it? We construct a model of the universe as we imagine it in part to investigate its properties and put it through the paces. If our model produces an absurdity then we should abandon the metaphysics that led to it as absurd. If the model has some unusual property then it may teach us something about the consequences of our metaphysical system as well.

Especially as it is used over generations a good model certainly influences our conception of the world.

Consider for a moment Newton's laws. The statement "every action has an equal and opposite reaction" introduces a symmetry into a system obeying Newton's laws and with that symmetry comes a couple of conservation laws. One of them is energy. I doubt that Newton would have seen the conservation of energy as anything other than a mathematical convenience, but the more it cropped up in physics the more useful and convenient it became to speak of energy as something. Now we don't hesitate to point to energy as one of the basic components from which the universe is made. This is a way different ontology than the one Newton put into his model. So the model did teach us something eventually, as we played with it, about the way the universe might plausibly be put together. It illustrated a relationship between motion and matter that it would have been impossible to guess, and also between symmetry and being. The idea came as a logical consequence of the model, but that doesn't mean Newton had it in mind already, or that it did not have broad consequences.

Are you arguing simply that we cannot prove by a physical argument alone that energy is a real thing? You are certainly correct. Are you arguing that the whole procedure of reasoning by mathematical analogy cannot possibly produce any sound philosophical results? Energy is real isn't it?! Our ontology is better now that we have set it beside matter and always mention them in the same breath. Right? How did we even do that?

Eduardo said...

If our model produces an absurdity then we should abandon the metaphysics that led to it as absurd.

-----------------------

I agree to a certain extend, but most of the time we only get absurdities in science when comparing multiple experiments, the idea that the "truth" in experiment A is the same in experiment B is in a sense metaphysical. The experiments themselves might, of course, show some congruency. But I think that it is indeed something we must discuss must throughly before claiming that the truth here is the same truth there. Now personally I think that is true, but I wonder if we have better arguments beyond ... well, then pragmatism or axioms.

___________________________________

Hmmm, not really. I think argument falls more towards, you can not prove that energy is the way we have defined in physics IF, IF... our metaphysical take on that study is not correct.

Now, I don't how much the assumptions in metaphysics and other fundamental places play out during a more thorough study of these things, but, I suppose that if our metaphysics, applied in physics is correct to a certain extent, the energy you talk about might exist, or at least something that can be defined by us as energy exist.

So, to sum it up, I am really bad at arguing from stuff I have thought just a while ago... The take would be this, something that can have the characteristics of energy might exist as long as we don't any epistemological problems with it; We cannot claim to know certain things, especially those in metaphysics just through our experience, because you contextualise our experience before we tell what we saw; There might be some things we JUST KNOW... Buuuuut, I know people will bitch about that XD.

Eduardo said...

Actually I shouuuulld really ... read stuff twice or thrice before posting... sorry if I just argumented the same stuff as you XD reighley

Crude said...

Are you arguing simply that we cannot prove by a physical argument alone that energy is a real thing? You are certainly correct. Are you arguing that the whole procedure of reasoning by mathematical analogy cannot possibly produce any sound philosophical results? Energy is real isn't it?! Our ontology is better now that we have set it beside matter and always mention them in the same breath. Right? How did we even do that?

I offer this up, just because I enjoy bringing it up whenever the topic of energy shows in these conversations. I wish I had the fuller quote to give context, but damnit, every site online only gives these lines without digging very deeply.

"It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge what energy is. We do not have a picture that energy comes in little blobs of a definite amount."

Richard Feynman

Charles R. Cherry said...

Anyone else get the "Duplicate headers received from server" error?

The message I see is:

"The response from the server contained duplicate headers. This problem is generally the result of a misconfigured website or proxy. Only the website or proxy administrator can fix this issue."

Arthur said...

Try a different web browser. That's what they recomment further up the page.

Mr. Green said...

Charles R. Cherry: Anyone else get the "Duplicate headers received from server" error?

No, but I get the "you need Flash" error. Seriously, Flash? Oh, I see — you need Flash to download the PDFs. Wow. That's… wow. So anyway, I can get McGinn's piece, and Fuller's, but not Ed's (or any others… there are others?).

McGinn: [dragons… one fewer god… no evidence… no proofs… don't believe anything people tell you]

Golly. Of course agnosticism is often reasonable, "lots of evidence, that I don't think is good enough" is not "no evidence", and omnipotence does not mean the ability to create square circles. In fact, these are all pretty bad. Are we sure this isn't a joke? Hey, in the corner of the page it says: "Vol. 1, Issue 4, 2012". Huh… 1/4/2012. I guess the joke's on me. At least that explains the Flash!

Tony W. said...

For some reason the website won't allow me to download the PDF. Has anyone got an alternative link or file?

Tony W. said...

Never mind; I've got it following Arthur's advice.

machinephilosophy said...

"Given McGinn's almost Leiter-like propensity for pettiness and personal vindictiveness, don't be surprised if a hostile "review" of one Ed's books mysteriously appears out of the ether."

And that'll just mean a subsequent two-martini shootout at the old Feser Corral.

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Anonymous said...

@Eduardo

--I wonder...WHY!!! with so many atheists always saying that atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods

The reason why that is the case is because they are terrified of assuming the burden of proof. Given that atheism/naturalism is intellectually bankrupt it would be impossible for them to provide any sort of "proof" in order for their beliefs to be intellectually sound. So they resort to petty little gimmicks.

Anthony Kenny exposes the atheist claim rather well when he explains how atheism is a much bigger claim that Theism.


--Wait is he going with God is like Santa and Sagan's dragon ???


Every time you hear any sort of argument that likens God to an existent (spatiotemporal entity) know that either the writer is an idiot, an ignoramous or a fraud. Don't even bother with the nonsense of fools like sagan and others. They simply do not deserve a response. JJC Smart (atheist) is one that actually makes the distinction and at least tries to understand the Theistic position of a transcendent God so not everyone is like that. Of course smart's argument for atheism is problematic and ultimately fails but at least he attempt to approach Theism in a more honest way.

-above

Anonymous said...

Also in regards to what atheism is, let's stop beating around the bush and say it as it is...

The BELIEF that there are no gods (immanent, mythological etc) and the BELIEF that there is no Transcendent God (Monotheism). From this point, one correctly concludes as James Sennett so accurately put it, "naturalism is the only real alternative for the atheist".

Given that no naturalistic proof has ever been provided and given its internal incoherence no proof can ever be provided, the atheist only has his blind - albeit cynical - faith to base his worldview on... And of course we all know what a big "no-no" that is for someone to postures as a "free thinker" and a "man of science". Hence, why all the sophistry regarding the definition of atheism ensures.

Once you grasp this truth, most of the atheist dogma collapses before your very eyes as "sophistry and illusion" (humean pun intended) ;-)

-above