Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The sense of wonder vs presuppositionalism

Hello everyone. I'm giddy at having "acquired" (I actually stole it from Paul Manata, but don't tell him) a copy of the Presuppositionalist Arbitrary Rant Generator. It's what they use to fill their Usenet posts and blog entries. Here, I'll have it generate a couple sentences :

"Materialism/reductionism/science is the enemy of love and wonder. It is a cruel/cold/unfeeling ideology. We need to leave nature alone and appreciate its mystery. Only God can give us proper knowledge."

That's a common one. You can also get it in New Age circles, and pretty much anyone who has a vested interest in hating materialism, reductionism or science. Christians certainly have a not-so-vested interest in hating at least two of these - science, because it destroys the "specialness" that they impute to human beings, and materialism, because it denies the existence of transcendence by definition.

They, I think, are particularly attracted by the assumed antagonism between materialism and the human condition, not by the mystery aspect. New Agers, on the other hand, tend to be more attracted by the mystery aspect. They're both subjectivists anyway, but I have to give Christians points for not being so arrogant as to think that the universe is subjective to themselves.

Ah, the only problem is that this claim is bullshit. Mystery is shallow and destructive. By maintaining the mystery, we refuse to acquire knowledge, and by doing so we doom ourselves and society to misery. Or to religion, which is just a more roundabout way of saying that we're doomed to misery.

Science, reductionism, materialism, on the other hand, has a triune depth of wonder :

1. The sense of wonder at the object itself. This is a superficial reaction to the observed facts. Not that this makes it bad : it may be superficial, but it's very spiritual nevertheless. Christians also have this kind of wonder.

Well, just because we can explain something doesn't mean the initial reason for our wonder is gone. Science does not dissipate, it reveals more (contrarily to religion, which narrows, twists and attacks man's moral will instead of broadening it). The object, and its complexity and subtelty, is still there. To take the classical example of the rainbow, the fact that we know how rainbows arise does not make them dissapear. Rainbows are still wonderful in themselves (in fact, I would go so far as to say that they "rock").

2. The sense of wonder at the reductionist explanation. Reductionism in itself is incredible. The fact that all the structures of matter that we see around us arise from the interaction of microscopic particles is amazing. To take our rainbow example again, the interaction of light with rain drops produces a perfectly ordered colour gradient. From simplicity, arises complexity.

Compare to the idea that an infinite being created everything. How exactly am I supposed to be impressed by that ? Christians believe that the universe is nothing but a brain fart. It means nothing and is completely arbitrary. In this case, God created rainbows so he would be reminded not to wipe out all life on Earth. How wonderful.

3. The sense of wonder at what we can do with it. For one thing, we can reproduce it ourselves. We can experiment with chemicals, prisms, and all sorts of things, to observe in our own little worlds what happens in the greater universe. We also use the results of science to cure people, help us communicate around the world, make the fruits of technology available to the masses, and generally making human life easier, better, more free.

Christianity is not loving or wonderful. It is full of hatred for human values and human life. It centers itself on God, on the Bible, everything not to acknowledge man's obvious moral will. It rejects the obvious truths of science, and fawns at the meaningless brain farts of a meaningless being.

Presuppositionalism in particular stands squarely against man's moral will and moral autonomy, and tries to substitute it with an impossible dependence on God, desperately jamming a square peg in a round hole. Christians do indeed "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel", like the Bible says.

That's all I have to say about that. Let me give the Presuppositionalist Arbitrary Rant Generator another spin :

"So, I have the concept of oneness, twoness, threeness... and fifty-one billionness. That is, 100 billion divided in half. It gets worse, though. I also have concepts of dogs, cats, elephants, trucks, tables, chairs, televisions, computers, etc. Put differently, I've shown that you don't have enough neurons for the concepts!"

So that's where Paul got that. Oh Paul, you're not stupid after all ! You just selected the "high school debate" setting on the Generator. I'm sorry for laughing at your complete ignorance of mathematics.

Wait, I'm not.

Post a Comment


At 3/31/2005 11:54 AM, Anonymous Aaron Kinney declaimed...

Well said Franc!

I think that science increases wonder. I believe that an educated astronomist has more "wonder" in their knowledge of planets and stars than any ignorant Christian that never looked through a telescope.

Christians are, at the bottom line, just upset that some people try to tell them that their fairy tale book isnt real. To them the only wonder that can exist is whats defined in their piece of shit Bible. They mistake "ignorance" for "wonder".

Real wonder is when you examine and object or entity and learn about it and observe its natural actions or functions. Then you can wonder at the object and what it does. Isnt "wonder" like asking a question anyway?

Imagine a person looking at the stars in the sky and saying to himself "I wonder..." It implies our answer right there. He is asking himself a question about what he observes, and he is seeking answers to those questions. That, by definition, is wonder. Inquiry and the desire to discover.

An appeal to ignorance, like Christians do with their resistance to learning, is an inhumane appeal to evil, obliviousness, and worthlessness.

At 3/31/2005 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous declaimed...

would the stolen concept fallacy be when I cut your brain open and pulled a bundle of neurons out?

At 3/31/2005 6:32 PM, Blogger groundfighter declaimed...

If you could isolate the bundle of neurons responsible for this fallacy then I bet we could get rid of it for good.

At 3/31/2005 6:49 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"would the stolen concept fallacy be when I cut your brain open and pulled a bundle of neurons out?"

Depends on the bundle of neurons.

At 3/31/2005 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous declaimed...

but why accuse someone of the fallacy if your brain is not split open? How could I "steal" your "neurons" without actually pulling a Hanibal and scalping you? It appears, then, that the stolen concept fallacy presupposes that I can use the concept in your mind without messing with the neurons, i.e., using your immaterial concept which can be instantiated in more place than one (i.e., not particular) and so you're borowing from an immaterial worldview... or, committing the stolen concept fallacy. =)

At 3/31/2005 7:54 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

There is no such thing as an immaterial concept. Try again.

At 3/31/2005 10:16 PM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

anonymous asked: "would the stolen concept fallacy be when I cut your brain open and pulled a bundle of neurons out?"

No, that is not what happens when one commits the fallacy of the stolen concept. Like other fallacies, the fallacy of the stolen concept cannot be attributed to the actions of someone other than the one who commits it. The scenario you present for sake of inquiry seeks to pass the buck on this matter. But it doesn't work. If you were to remove a portion of one's brain or nervous system such that his thinking was logically impaired, he could not be accused of committing a fallacy, for accusations of fallacy assume alternatives which would not be available to persons so disabled. The injured party would have no choice about the matter, so he would not be selecting between different alternatives, one of which would be supposedly free of the fallacy in question.

But since it is possible to so disable a person's mind (e.g., through violence to one's head), this only confirms the reality of the mind's dependence on man's nature as a biological organism. This of course does not bode well for those who want to believe they have an "immortal soul." When you die, it will be no different from the period of time before you were born: nothing.

So learn to live for a change, and value every minute you're alive. Sacrificing your life to an invisible magic being is not a means of living, it's means of dying. Why not choose instead to value your time alive, rather than seek to sacrifice it?

Or, are you one of those who is just not consistent with what Christianity teaches?

At 4/01/2005 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous declaimed...

to accuse someone of a stolen concept fallacy looks like this to me:

steal: take something that is not yours.

concept: bundle of neurons in the brain.

to steal a concept: to take something that is not yours, in this case, a bundle of neurons in the brain.

hardee friggin har har

At 4/01/2005 6:13 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Well, at least you can see how ridiculous you are. And how silly you can sound when you don't, you know, understand what an expression actually means.

At 4/01/2005 6:24 AM, Blogger Crowd of None declaimed...

There isn't anything you seem to need more, than a futuristic occult.

You have to know where you fit in.

*Vanishes, but appears to be still here, because there was no vanishing*

At 4/01/2005 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous declaimed...

well what does it me Franc?

At 4/01/2005 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous declaimed...


At 4/01/2005 2:56 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

See, this is why Google was invented. Or does the Bible tell you that Google is an abomination ? Have you perhaps realized that there's no meaning in a theistic universe ?
"Stolen Concept
One or more concepts on which an argument logically depends are denied in the argument."
"The StolenConceptFallacy consists of using a concept while denying its hierarchical roots"



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