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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Retro Question of the Day: The Plantingan Slip

Now, I don't mean to step on Brucker's toes, as he's doing a wonderful job with QotD. One of the reasons I stepped down was because I felt my questions were becoming...errr... a little repetative. But recently I had a classic Christian zinger thrown in my face, one which we've all heard before, and I knew that I had to break my silence here at the Goose and post another one-time-only Question of the Day!


The Christian says, "Thanks for strengthening my faith."


QUESTION: Now how the hell is this even possible?

I thought Christians KNEW Jesus. It's a personal relationship, after all! And yet I hear this saying from Christians all the time, implying that they're somehow more convinced of their faith than they were a moment ago. Since being a TrueChristian® means that you only get saved once, I thought that you're pretty much fully convinced the first time! How many times have we heard Christians accuse former Christians of being liars based on this very premise?

And how the hell, as an atheist, am I even able to affect a Christian's faith in any way, shape, or form? Allegedly, I'm corrupt, do wicked things, and can do no good, but I can strengthen your faith?! I'm utterly astonished to find that I've been bestowed with such powers!

Perhaps it was a just a Freudian slip. NAH! Christians don't like Freud. We'll call it a Plantingan slip!

Post a Comment


23 Comments:

At 10/15/2006 2:11 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

I don't think it's as much of a slip to the average Christian as we might view it. Retreat to faith, specifically belief without evidence, is in the understanding of most Christians, a cornerstone of their belief system. Reliance upon evidence is, as long as it is stacked (or perceived to be stacked) on the side of Christianity, is permissible. However, the moment that evidence shows a contradiction with Christianity, the temptation is strong to eschew evidence claims altogether and retreat to fideism.

What we need to work at is to show that a fideistic approach is worthless, and that evidence has to be considered, whether it helps or hurts the Christian position.

 
At 10/15/2006 2:32 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

For one thing, things we "know" can be strengthened. For example, take indcutive knowledge.

Second, Christianity has never tuahgt that faith cannot be stengthened. Indeed, that's one of the reasons for the means of grace.

Third, the Christian who said that wasn't being Freudian, he was being sarcastician. That is, he meant that your position was so week and so it strengthened his faith. Specifically, the context was that you didn't post his rather embarrassing critique of your statements. You used a communistic form of censorship.

Fourth, I have no clue what you mean by it's being "Plantingan." How so?

Fifth, Zach Moore holds the classic evidentialist constraint on the Christian. I'd like to know how he avoids Plantinga's (and Bergmann et al!) infinite regress argument as well as the other arguments against evidentialism. Is he even familiar with them.

Sixth, if *all* beliefs need to be based on evidence, then what of Zach's belief in his Randist axioms? Is "the primacy of existence" *based* on evidence? If so, how is it an axiom? If not, then why the hypocrisy when it comes to christianity.

Seventh, this post was for those familiar with contemporary epistemology, they know the problems I've raised and they'll be able to see through Zach's answers. I won't be responding to Zach's comments (which are sure to come given his high level of testosterone which won't allow him to sick back) since I don't really desire to discuss something with someone who is ignorant of the issues. Put differently, I don't have time to really teach Moore.

Anyway, we'll all sit back and read your comments, and those who are conversant will see that you don't have a handle on the issues and will actually see that you're someone who just talks to hear the sound of his own voice.

 
At 10/15/2006 4:03 PM, Blogger Mr. Neil declaimed...

First and second points, Paul. Thank you for answering my question. That's all you really needed to do. You could have actually stopped there, and I would have been satisfied.

I've never posted a QotD with the intent of presenting a counter argument. It's a question to stimulate converstation. Now, if my premise or assumptions were wrong, then fair enough.

Third: The "embarrassing" post was basically a flame post that I deleted along with several others. I do get my share of mystery flamers, you know. I probably should have at least kept it at least screened, but I can't really help that now.

Besides, I'm sure you've had your own experiences with deleting replies to your posts.

Fourth: "Plantingan" wasn't meant to specifically mean anything other than a pun. It's not worth tearing apart something that was never meant to have any substance.

Your final paragraph... Gee thanks for your kind words. You're quite the gentleman.

 
At 10/15/2006 4:44 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Glad to know you're back and in rare form, Paul. You still have quite a way with straw. ;)

 
At 10/15/2006 4:51 PM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Paul: “For one thing, things we "know" can be strengthened. For example, take indcutive knowledge.”

Just so you know, faith is not knowledge. Rather, it’s the claim to having knowledge without the rational processes that knowledge requires. As John Frame candidly admits, “We know without knowing how we know.” The question here, of course, is: how can what you claim to know qualify as knowledge? Blank out.

Paul: “Second, Christianity has never tuahgt that faith cannot be stengthened. Indeed, that's one of the reasons for the means of grace.”

Sure: “but with God, all things are possible” (Mt. 19:26). Of course, that could only mean that even “the contrary” is possible, regardless of what presuppositionalists uncritically repeat. Such is the way of the cartoon universe of theism, where the only “standard” is whatever the ruling subject wishes.

Paul: “Third, the Christian who said that wasn't being Freudian, he was being sarcastician. That is, he meant that your position was so week and so it strengthened his faith. Specifically, the context was that you didn't post his rather embarrassing critique of your statements. You used a communistic form of censorship.”

I think you meant “weak” here, didn’t you? So much for “analogous reasoning.” Thinking your god's thoughts after it doesn't seem to help your spelling skills very much. Why is that? Is your god also a poor speller?

Paul: “Fourth, I have no clue what you mean by it's being "Plantingan." How so?”

I’m curious: why doesn’t the Holy Ghost provide you with insight into such matters?

Paul: “Fifth, Zach Moore holds the classic evidentialist constraint on the Christian. I'd like to know how he avoids Plantinga's (and Bergmann et al!) infinite regress argument as well as the other arguments against evidentialism. Is he even familiar with them.”

I’ve read my share of Plantinga, and I must say, I’m not impressed by anything he says. Typically an infinite regress argument is easy to quell if one has an objective starting point. Christian apologists are so captivated by infinite regress arguments because, having no objective starting point, they figure (even hope) that no one does, and thus think everyone is going to fall prey to such arguments, just as they did.

Paul: “Sixth, if *all* beliefs need to be based on evidence, then what of Zach's belief in his Randist axioms? Is "the primacy of existence" *based* on evidence? If so, how is it an axiom? If not, then why the hypocrisy when it comes to christianity.”

All this has been explained to you here. For one thing, an axiom is not a "belief," it's a fundamental recognition. Also, the evidence for the truth of the axiom “existence exists” is immediately perceptual in nature. The axiom is a founding conceptual identification. The fact that it is based on evidence (in fact, inescapable) does not make it any less than an axiom.

Paul: “Seventh, this post was for those familiar with contemporary epistemology, they know the problems I've raised and they'll be able to see through Zach's answers. I won't be responding to Zach's comments (which are sure to come given his high level of testosterone which won't allow him to sick back) since I don't really desire to discuss something with someone who is ignorant of the issues. Put differently, I don't have time to really teach Moore.”

Paul, all you ever seem to “teach” is bad attitude and bully tactics, which Zach probably isn't interested in picking up. You don’t even demonstrate that you can learn when others teach you (as I have, in the link above). That you “don’t have time to really teach Moore” is a convenient excuse.

Regards,
Dawson

 
At 10/16/2006 1:05 AM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

BB,

1. Irrelevant. The question seemed to imply that "knowledge" can't be "strengthened." My response refuted that. Agree?

2. I've already refuted your "all things are possible" objection, Dawson:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/05/bethricks-blunders-or-up-dawsons-creek_14.html

(And, yes, I've read your reply.)

3. Good jab about the spelling Dawson. I have no response to that. Forget the fact that it had nothing to do with my response to Zach, otherwise, string point! ;-)

4. The Holy Spirit cannot "help me out with that" because He doesn't know the answer. One can't know what is false. I "don't know what he means by that" was a veiled way to point out that he's speaking out of his bum bum.

5. Apparently you're unfamiliar with the infinite regress argument against *evidentialism.*

6. Yes yes, I've read all that before. But, I never said the axiom was a"belief." What I did say, if you had bothered to read and grasp what i wrote, was that Zach *believs* the axiom "existence exists." That is, he has a positive cognitive attitude toward the proposition "existence exists." Therefore, he has a belief. So, where's the evidence for that belief? After he gives it, will be "believe" that he has given me evidence for his belief? if so, where's the evidence for *that?* Then, when he provides it, will he beleve that this new evidence backs up the belief he had in his previous evidence? If so, where's the evidence for that, ... ad infinitum.

7. It's a two way street with Zach, Dawson. Don't you think if Zach can give he should be able to take? Anyway, i'm sure he appreciates you playing the role of his mother.

 
At 10/16/2006 1:09 AM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

Oh, btw, BB, hope you and your wife are doing well.

 
At 10/16/2006 8:16 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

I'm sure you realize that I was criticizing fideism, Paul. Should I take your irritation to mean that you support this position? I would think that only a sophomoric reading of my comment would conclude that I was advocating for classic evidentialism.

 
At 10/16/2006 11:37 AM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

Zach,

You clearly pointed out that "belief without evidence" is retreating to "faith." So, faith is bad since it's "belief without evidence."

Now, all Christians have "faith." But not all Christians are fideists. ANd, apparently, having "faith" is bad because it's a "retreat" and this "retreat" is to "specifically hold belief[s] without evidence."

Furthermore, you said that "eschewing evidence" is to "retreat to fidesim." Thus it is clearly obvious to everyone that since you do not want to be someone who has "faith" or is "fidesitic" then you think we should never eschew evidence for our beliefs. Indeed, "evidence has to be considered" (emphasis yours) for all our beliefs, lest we become "fideists" or people of "faith."

Now, if you don't hold that position, i.e., the position that we must have evidence for all of our beliefs. then what of your claim that people of "faith" and the "fideists" (you seemed to interchange the two, thus showing another area of ignorance you have) hold to some beliefs which are not based on evidence? What of your claim that "evidence has to be considered?" If you're not advocating "classical evidentialism" then are you saying that "evidence [does not] have to be considered" for all of our beliefs? If so, then you have the famous problems attached to evidentialism. If not, then it appears that you've refuted yourself (or, you think that it's okay for you to hold some beliefs while "eschewing evidence" for them, but the Christian cannot hold beliefs without "evidence" for them).

SO, it's very clear to almost anyone conversant with contemporary issues of epistemology that you're out in the deep waters right now and you've never bothered to even take a swimming lesson.

So, either (a) "faith, specifically belief without evidence" (as you call it, thought the Bible disagrees) is not problematic for the Christian's epistemic life (which serves to show that you disagree with your own critique), or (b) you're holding classical evidentialism (which suffers from many, not to mention the regress problem, problems).

So, (a) refutes your above post and (b) ends in absurdity. Either way, the Christian position comes out looking good.

Also, I found your first comment very interesting. Interesting because you run "Apologia." That's the place where you say you're trying to "find common ground and understand the theist's position." But it appears you really have no desire to either (1) understand our position, or (2) take care to represrnt it properly.

So it apears to me that the only way you can defeat theism is by closing yours eyes and swinging wildly at anything, hoping one of the blows will land on their mark. It's actually quite sad to see, Zach.

 
At 10/16/2006 5:40 PM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Paul: “1. Irrelevant. The question seemed to imply that ‘knowledge’ can't be ‘strengthened’. My response refuted that. Agree?”

My point was relevant to the extent that “faith” was being confused with “knowledge.” The question was about whether or not faith could be strengthened. But in response to this, you chimed in with the following statement:

For one thing, things we "know" can be strengthened. For example, take indcutive knowledge.

So you jumped the tracks, apparently thinking that the fact that knowledge can be strengthened somehow speaks to the question.

Also, I did not get the impression that the question was implying that knowledge cannot be strengthened. Again, if you were confusing knowledge with faith, I could see how you might have gotten that impression. But even if the question did imply that knowledge cannot be strengthened, I don’t think your Paul-try (sorry, couldn’t resist!) offerings would be sufficient to serve as a refutation of this. You simply asserted that knowledge can be strengthened and listed “indcutive knowledge” [sic] apparently as an example, with no explanation how this supports your assertion. Regardless, I fully agree that knowledge can be strengthened. The question is: can faith?


Paul: “2. I've already refuted your ‘all things are possible’ objection, Dawson:
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/05/bethricks-blunders-or-up-dawsons-creek_14.html
(And, yes, I've read your reply.)”

So, are all things possible, or not? Apparently you have a hard time deciding which. At any rate, the claim that the contrary to Christianity is patently false, and Christian apologists themselves performatively contradict this claim all the time whenever they try to discredit rival worldviews. After all, if worldviews that are contrary to the Christian worldview were not possible, then how could there be anything for them to discredit?

Also, not all apologists seem to be on board with the “impossibility of the contrary” dogma endorsed by presuppositionalism. Some apologists seem willing to admit that so-called “naturalistic” explanations to the Christian resurrection story are not impossible. Take Jason Engwer for instance. He wrote:

“[Dawson] keeps telling us that his speculations are ‘not impossible’. That's true.”

How can it be true that my “speculations” (i.e., alternative explanations which do not involve a retreat to the imaginative realm of “the supernatural”) are “not impossible” if in fact “the impossibility of the contrary” dogma of presuppositionalism were true? Engwer went on to say that my “speculations” are “highly unlikely,” but upon what basis? My alternative explanations do not require us to imagine an invisible magic being which controls the universe as a cartoonist controls his cartoons. What makes my “speculations... highly unlikely” in Jason’s opinion is the context of assumptions on which he bases his evaluation, namely a context of assumptions which wants to take supernaturalism seriously. And yet, that same supernaturalism essentially says that “anything is possible” and offers no objective guide to evaluating what is likely as opposed to unlikely in the first place. Was it “likely” or “unlikely” that Peter would walk on unfrozen water if he had sufficient faith? Will it be “likely” or “unlikely” that Paul Manata will walk on unfrozen water if he has sufficient faith? In the cartoon universe of Christian theism, all bets are off, for whatever happens is up to the whims of an invisible magic being. This is what we’re told by Christians, and yet I’m accused of “poisoning the well”? On the contrary, I’m simply not willing to allow the poison of mysticism to contaminate my mind. There was a time when I did (I was a Christian myself, you know), so I’m speaking from firsthand experience. Recovery is possible, Paul. But so long as you are committed to division and disagreement, you’ll likely remain a hostage to the primitive philosophy of the bible.


Paul: “3. Good jab about the spelling Dawson. I have no response to that. Forget the fact that it had nothing to do with my response to Zach, otherwise, string point! ;-)”

My question about your spelling was not intended to have anything topical to do with your response to Zach. And I’m not sure what a “string point” is, but if my point is a “string point,” well I suppose that’s fine by me. But I do wonder what accounts for the persistence of errors and mistakes on the part of believers when they are supposedly “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” That is, they claim (do they not?) to be thinking the thoughts of an omniscient, infallible being. If that’s the case, what explains their continued errors? Is it possible that they really aren’t thinking the thoughts of an invisible magic being after all, but are simply bullshitting us? Or is this not a possibility you’re willing to entertain?

Paul: “4. The Holy Spirit cannot ‘help me out with that’ because He doesn't know the answer. One can't know what is false. I ‘don't know what he means by that’ was a veiled way to point out that he's speaking out of his bum bum.”

Typically, when one confesses ignorance of something, he’s not necessarily charging the person he does not understand with “speaking out of his bum bum.” So thank you for making this clear. But I’m still curious about what the Holy Ghost tells you. What kind of information do you get from this supposedly infallible and omniscient source? Or, do you get any information from it at all?

Paul: “5. Apparently you're unfamiliar with the infinite regress argument against *evidentialism.*”

That may be, Paul. I do not take it upon myself to stay abreast of every new development that Plantinga or other apologetic gurus might produce. As I stated, I’ve read my share of Plantinga, and I am duly unimpressed. His stuff is not even interesting in an amusing way (like Bahnsen and Van Til, for instance). And if what you stated below (point 6) is at all indicative of what this dazzling infinite regress argument is all about, then I see I have nothing to worry about. It’s just another way of trying to bamboozle a thinker with unnecessary digressions. And Plantman is an educator? Well, it just goes to show they’ll let just about anyone in the door these days.

Paul: “6. Yes yes, I've read all that before. But, I never said the axiom was a"belief." What I did say, if you had bothered to read and grasp what i wrote, was that Zach *believs* the axiom "existence exists." That is, he has a positive cognitive attitude toward the proposition "existence exists." Therefore, he has a belief. So, where's the evidence for that belief? After he gives it, will be "believe" that he has given me evidence for his belief? if so, where's the evidence for *that?* Then, when he provides it, will he beleve that this new evidence backs up the belief he had in his previous evidence? If so, where's the evidence for that, ... ad infinitum.”

Let’s step back and take another go at it, so that once again you’ll have another opportunity to see what’s going on.

Paul, you asked “Is ‘the primacy of existence’ *based* on evidence?”

The answer to this is: Yes. The primacy of existence principle is the recognition that the objects of consciousness exist independent of consciousness. The evidence for the primacy of existence principle is available every time we perceive an object. A simple thought experiment (which I had asked you to perform before) will demonstrate the truth and constancy of this principle to any honest thinker. If the primacy of existence principle is true, then we would rightly expect that the objects of your consciousness will not conform to your wishes. So if you look at an object that’s nearby, and wish it to do something (e.g., levitate, turn into a pumpkin, or start singing “Over the Rainbow”) and yet it does not obey your wishes, then that will simply confirm the primacy of existence principle. Another piece of evidence would be the fact that something remains as it is even though you forgot that it was that way. For instance, if I left my wallet in my car but forgot this, and a few hours later when I get back in my car I find my wallet, it should be clear that my forgetfulness did not alter this state of affairs. The state of affairs that exists persisted in spite of my forgetting.

Then you asked: “If so, how is it an axiom?”

The primacy of existence is a corollary to the axioms of existence, identity and consciousness. These are the fundamental concepts which one would have to assume even to deny. To deny something, at minimum you would have to exist. This would be evidence of the first axiom, “existence exists” (i.e., reality exists). For you to deny this statement, it would have to be true. Also, since denial is an act of consciousness, the axiom of consciousness would have to be true in order for you to deny it. Essentially, you would have to be conscious in order to deny consciousness. Also, if you deny a statement, you are making the claim that that statement does not accurately reflect the state of affairs it is intended to describe. But for you to say that your denial is true assumes that reality obtains independently of anyone’s consciousness, otherwise you’d essentially be saying “that statement is not true for me, but it may be true for you.” Many apologists have referred to this as “relativism” and they seem to associate it with non-belief in their invisible magic being, even though according to their god-belief “God’s ‘thought content’ actively makes these things so (i.e., actively makes the truth)” (Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Reading & Analysis, p. 227n.152), which can only mean: the subject holds metaphysical primacy over the object. That’s metaphysical subjectivism. You can’t get more subjective than this.

Then you asked: “If not, then why the hypocrisy when it comes to christianity.”

What hypocrisy? Not only does Christianity offer no objective evidence for its claims, all available evidence contradicts Christianity’s claims from the ground up. This does not prevent a thinker from deluding himself that Christianity is true; in fact, if he grants validity to the metaphysical subjectivism which it entails and allows fear to serve as his intellectual starting point (cf. Prov. 1:7), then such delusion is quite likely to take root and pollute his thinking. And to speak to the original question of this post: Yes, a delusion can be strengthened. After all, that’s the purpose of returning to church every week – to reinforce the delusion. And religious faith is a type of delusion.

Now, in response to your questions, I did provide a link to a blog that I posted a little over a year ago. That blog addressed some eleven points you tried to raise against the Objectivist axioms. You say you have read it, but I don’t see any evidence that you did read it or made any attempt, at any rate, to comprehend it. For you continue in confusions that are easily dispelled by an understanding of the axioms. Beyond that, you seem eager to try to find ways of confounding the axioms. This won’t succeed, Paul; the axioms are immune to criticism. They would have to be true even for you to try to criticize them. I see you haven’t grasped this, or are simply denying to spite yourself. You tried to bring an infinite regress criticism against them. But in so doing, you’ve mixed issues beyond recognition and have gone whirling off on a tangent that bears no relevance to their truth status. Indeed, the very concept “infinite regress” could have no meaning if the axioms were not true. As Peikoff writes (which I quoted in my blog answering your attempts to raise points against the axioms):

Existence, consciousness, identity are presupposed by every statement and by very concept, including that of “disagreement.” (They are presupposed even by invalid concepts, such as “ghost” or “analytic” truth.) In the act of voicing his objection, therefore, the objector has conceded the case. In any act of challenging or denying the three axioms, a man reaffirms them, no matter what the particular content of his challenge. The axioms are invulnerable. (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pp. 9-10.)

You stated that Zach “*believs* the axiom ‘existence exists’.” [sic] Okay, let’s assume he does. You regard this as “a positive cognitive attitude toward the proposition ‘existence exists’.” Okay, let’s assume that’s the case. This you take to mean that Zach “has a belief.” Okay, let’s assume this. Then you asked, “where’s the evidence for that belief?” Just so I’m clear at this point, are you asking what evidence is to be cited to support the statement “existence exists”? If so, anything that Zach perceives would support this. If I see a book, a bowl of fruit, a cargo ship, etc., all these things would be considered as evidence for this statement according to Objectivism, as Objectivism understands the axiom to be affirming. If you meant to ask something else (e.g., “where’s the evidence that Zach believes this?” etc.), then you’ll need to clarify.

But supposing that the first interpretation of your question is correct, and Zach points to an apple sitting on his desk, the desk it’s sitting on, the house in which the desk sits, the town in which the house is located and the planet earth on which the town is situated, as evidence for his “belief” that “existence exist,” now what? Now you ask: “after he gives [this evidence], will [he] ‘believe’ that he has given me evidence for his belief?” He probably will believe he has given evidence. But note that this is a different question at this point, not a step in an infinite series on the same act of substantiation. If he provided evidence for the statement “existence exists,” then he has satisfied the question of what evidence can be supplied for that claim. Now the question has shifted: do you believe you’ve given evidence for the statement “existence exists,” and if so, what evidence do you have for that belief? It becomes a game at this point, a game that any 12-year-old can play. That’s precisely what you describe – a childish game. I predicted as much in my blog With Minds of Children. Did you not read it?

At this point, Paul, all we need to do is ask: what’s this “infinite regress” game supposed to accomplish? Is it supposed to lead us down some merry whimsical path that never terminates until we throw up our hands and say “Duh, I donno! Must be God did it!”?

No wonder you take Plantinga so seriously. That’s exactly what you did when you “accepted Christ.” Isn’t it?

Paul: “7. It's a two way street with Zach, Dawson. Don't you think if Zach can give he should be able to take? Anyway, i'm sure he appreciates you playing the role of his mother.”

I don’t think I’m “playing the role” of anyone’s mother, Paul. Nor do I suppose Zach does, either.

Paul: “Oh, btw, BB, hope you and your wife are doing well.”

We are doing great, Paul. Thank you! Things are going very well after our move, and we like our new surroundings very much. I hope things are going well for you and your wife as well.

Regards,
Dawson

 
At 10/16/2006 6:11 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

1. No, you've read wrong. Here's what Neal wrote:

"The Christian says, "Thanks for strengthening my faith."


QUESTION: Now how the hell is this even possible?

I thought Christians KNEW Jesus."


Thus, as we can see, Neal implied that since Christians "KNOW" Jesus, they cannot have thier faith stregthened. Why? Because you don't strengthen things you KNOW.

This inference is the mopst obvious and if there was any conflating it wasn't done by me.

2. If you take "all" as quantitatively, then no.

3. I simply don't bother to read what I write on thse things. I'm too busy to bother if I've hit two letters at once, or switched their order of appearance. But, I'm not bothered by this point. You can keep picking on it if you like.

4. Actually, I don't think you're curious.

5. Well, it appears that not only are you unfamiliar with the infinite regress argument, you're unfamiliar with its consequences.

6.

i) Well, that I can't make a table move doesn't imply anything about God. I thought I already pointed out this hast generalization and category fallacy of yours.

ii) I don't see how zach's seeing of an apple proves "existence exists." But, as I said, it's uncontroversial that things exist.

iii) Your pointing to so-called evidence doesn't avoid the infinite regress.

iv) the "game" accomplished the goal of refuting Zach's evidentialism.

7. Glad to hear you guys are doing well.

 
At 10/16/2006 8:11 PM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Paul: “Thus, as we can see, Neal implied that since Christians ‘KNOW’ Jesus, they cannot have thier faith stregthened. Why? Because you don't strengthen things you KNOW.”

The way I interpreted this was different from how you interpreted it, precisely because knowledge and faith are distinct from each other in my view. I interpreted it to mean that, if the believer KNOWS his Jesus, then his faith wouldn’t need any strengthening (nor would strengthening it even be desirable), for knowledge as such is already many times stronger than the weakness in confidence that faith is intended to shore up. On my interpretation, faith and knowledge are still distinct, and nothing in my interpretation implies that knowledge cannot be strengthened.

Paul: “Well, it appears that not only are you unfamiliar with the infinite regress argument, you're unfamiliar with its consequences.”

Oh no, Paul! What’s going to happen now? Is the earth going to stop spinning, or will metaphysical primacy suddenly reverse itself? Again, I know of no reason to take Plantinga very seriously. It’s been a while since I’ve read him, and since I found his material so uninteresting, it will likely be a long time before I read him again. But if you want to make Plantman's case, have at it. I'm open to further entertainment.

Paul: “Well, that I can't make a table move doesn't imply anything about God.”

The principle of metaphysical primacy is not intended to imply anything about things that are not real, Paul. As I have pointed out before, nothing is going to prevent a deluded person from investing what he imagines with the insistence that it is real.

Paul: “I thought I already pointed out this hast generalization and category fallacy of yours.”

Yes, I remember you did try this, but I also noticed that you fail to see how such a move not only speaks volumes about your inability to reason inductively from objective inputs, but also how it could only wind up in self-defeat. The question at this point would be: how did you form the concept ‘consciousness’? That is, what units does this concept integrate, where did you find those units, and which of those units enjoy the orientation between subject and object that Objectivism calls the primacy of consciousness? How did you acquire awareness of those units? How can I acquire awareness of them? Remember: imagining something that does not exist does not count, for the imaginary is not real. We’re looking for actually existing units that went into your concept ‘consciousness’ that actually enjoy the opposite orientation that your consciousness has with respect to its objects. If you point to the bible for this, then we can be confident that your imagination supplied those units. For the bible is a collection of stories, and those stories give us no alternative but to imagine the entities they portray.

Paul: “I don't see how zach's seeing of an apple proves ‘existence exists’.”

Paul, wouldn’t Zach have to exist in order to see an apple in the first place?

Paul: “But, as I said, it's uncontroversial that things exist.”

Indeed, it should be uncontroversial, and that’s all that the axiom of existence is explicitly affirming – that there is a reality. In Objectivism, existence = reality. Observe:

The first thing to say about that which is is simply: it is. As Parmenides in ancient Greece formulated the principle: what is, is. Or, in Ayn Rand’s words: existence exists. (“Existence” here is a collective noun, denoting the sum of existents.) This axiom does not tell us anything about the nature of existents; it merely underscores the fact that they exist... This axiom must be the foundation of everything else. Before one can consider any other issue, before one can ask what things there are or what problems men face in learning about them, before one can discuss what one knows or how one knows it – first, there must be something, and one must grasp that there is. If not, there is nothing to consider or to know... The concept of “existence” is the widest of all concepts. It subsumes everything – every entity, action, attribute, relationship (including every state of consciousness) – everything which is, was, or will be. (Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pp. 4-5.)

Now, if “it’s uncontroversial that things exist,” then what’s the fuss over the axiom that makes this fact explicit? You seem now to be agreeing with an atheist. But consider Greg Bahnsen’s urgent caution that believers not agree with non-believers:

the believer must respond to the onslaught of the unbeliever by attacking the unbeliever’s position at its foundations. He must challenge the unbeliever’s presuppositions, asking whether knowledge is even possible, given the non-Christian’s assumptions and perspective. (Always Ready, p. 55; see also Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 99.)

Now, be careful here, Paul. You wouldn’t want to be caught acknowledging the truth of my “position at its foundations,” would you? After all, if Objectivism’s axiom of existence is true (and you seem to be in agreement now that this is an uncontroversial truth; indeed, you've nowhere shown it to be untrue), then my starting point is true. And if you acknowledge that my starting point is true, then you’re not following Bahnsen’s method of division at all costs. Naughty naughty, Paul! That's a big no-no in Bahnsen's book!

Now, you are welcome to take Bahnsen’s advice here and “attack” my starting point. But then you’d essentially be saying that my starting point is not true. I.e., you would in effect be claiming that there is no reality, that nothing exists. But you’d have to exist in order to make such a claim (for things that do not exist cannot make any claims), and thus you’d be performatively contradicting yourself. And for what purpose? So that you wouldn’t be found agreeing with a “nasty unbeliever”?

In response to Bahnsen, I have to ask: could knowledge be possible if my starting point were not true? In other words, if it were not the case that things exist, could there still be knowledge? Well, if there was knowledge, then something would exist, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t that knowledge itself exist? And of what would it be knowledge? Of nothing? Now, who would say that they have knowledge, but it’s knowledge of nothing? What good would that be? And who would know it? Someone that doesn’t exist?

No, poor ol’ Bahnsen was just too zealous in his commitment to division for division’s sake. He certainly doesn’t want his followers agreeing with those “unbelievers” whom he resented so much. But it doesn’t seem that you have any rational alternative to my position here.

In spite of having an unassailable starting point, however, you still don’t want to let it rest:

“Your pointing to so-called evidence doesn't avoid the infinite regress.”

The infinite regress only exists in your imagination, Paul.

Paul: “the ‘game’ accomplished the goal of refuting Zach's evidentialism.”

Give it up, Paul.

Regards,
Dawson

 
At 10/16/2006 10:28 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Oh, please, Paul. The vast panoply of theistic claims are diverse enough without considering your own, which apparently I have to give special reverence to whenever I say anything about Christianity. If your position isn't represented to your liking, then do more than just bitch about it.

I don't require that ALL beliefs have to be supported by evidence, and I didn't say so. Please do me the courtesy of representing my position accurately, especially if you're going to complain so much about your own perceived slights. What I was talking about was areas in which the evidence contradicts an aspect of Christianity. What I find questionable is the tendency to, once some evidence is shown to contradict a specific claim made by Christianity, back away from evidence claims. I find that disingenuous.

 
At 10/16/2006 10:35 PM, Blogger Mr. Neil declaimed...

"The way I interpreted this was different from how you interpreted it, precisely because knowledge and faith are distinct from each other in my view. I interpreted it to mean that, if the believer KNOWS his Jesus, then his faith wouldn’t need any strengthening"

This is actually the correct interpretation. I apologize if it was not as clear as it could have been, but I certainly would never have implied that faith and knowledge are synonyms.

 
At 10/16/2006 11:58 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

Dawson,

1. Then it's up to you now to show that "if one KNOWS Jesus that means his faith can't be strengthened." (All this despite the fact that the Bible *does* teach the strengthening of faith, e.g., by the means of grace, etc.).

2. Dawson, "The principle of metaphysical primacy is not intended to imply anything about things that are not real, Paul."

And as I've pointed out before, then how is this meant to be an argument against God's existence? We both know that Objectivists have used it as an argument against God's existence.

You frequently employ it as a reason not to believe in God, I'm still waiting for the argument. Instead, all I get is the sense that you don't think you need to provide arguments against God's existence because you say he doesn't exist.

3. Dawson: "Yes, I remember you did try this, but I also noticed that you fail to see how such a move not only speaks volumes about your inability to reason inductively from objective inputs, but also how it could only wind up in self-defeat. The question at this point would be: how did you form the concept ‘consciousness’? "

No, Dawson, I don't need to argue against a fallacious position. Re-frame your argument first.

4. Dawson: "Now, if “it’s uncontroversial that things exist,” then what’s the fuss over the axiom that makes this fact explicit? You seem now to be agreeing with an atheist. But consider Greg Bahnsen’s urgent caution that believers not agree with non-believers:"

Yeah, it's uncontroversial that things exist. So what. bahnsen would agree. The problem comes in when your entire worldview is put together.

So now what? Things exist. Big deal. I fail to see how that position is unique to you, or can be used to beat theism in any interesting sense.



Zach

So now you say,

"I don't require that ALL beliefs have to be supported by evidence, and I didn't say so. Please do me the courtesy of representing my position accurately, especially if you're going to complain so much about your own perceived slights."

But above you said,

"Retreat to faith, specifically belief without evidence, is in the understanding of most Christians, a cornerstone of their belief system."

So, faith was defined by you as "belief without evidence" and since you admit that you have "beliefs without evidence" then it appears that you have faith. So, what's the problem, Zach?

Inded, why did you say this:

"What we need to work at is to show that a fideistic approach is worthless, and that evidence has to be considered, whether it helps or hurts the Christian position."

So, I don't get it, Zach. Are you denying that "evidence has to be considered for all of our beliefs?

I'm afraid that your position has died the death of a thousand qualifications.

At any rate, your smug posturing is as transparent as Paris Hilton.

"What I was talking about was areas in which the evidence contradicts an aspect of Christianity. What I find questionable is the tendency to, once some evidence is shown to contradict a specific claim made by Christianity, back away from evidence claims. I find that disingenuous. "

First, what evidence are you talking about that "contradicts" Christianity? I mean, the Bible contradicts your claims, but I don't see you counting that as evidence. So, you must be thinking that facts speak for themselves here, another blunder.

Second, sources, please?

Third, everyone does this when the center of their web of beliefs is challenged. If the last 50 years of epistemology have taught us anything, they've taught us this. So, this isn't a "problem" unique to Christians. For an example, see the controversy surounding Uranus' orbit and Newtonian math.

So, your new claim is sophomoric and naive, to be blunt about it.

 
At 10/17/2006 9:01 AM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Paul: “1. Then it's up to you now to show that "if one KNOWS Jesus that means his faith can't be strengthened." (All this despite the fact that the Bible *does* teach the strengthening of faith, e.g., by the means of grace, etc.).”

No, Paul, it’s not up to me to show that “if one KNOWS Jesus that means his faith can’t be strengthened,” as this is not a position that I have affirmed. This is just how I understood the question. The question is for believers to address. This is a chance for Christians to weigh in on an issue that gets increasingly less attention: the nature and role of faith in their beliefs.

I wrote: "The principle of metaphysical primacy is not intended to imply anything about things that are not real, Paul."

Paul: “And as I've pointed out before, then how is this meant to be an argument against God's existence? We both know that Objectivists have used it as an argument against God's existence.”

The primacy of existence is a component in arguments showing mysticism to be invalid, because mysticism denies the primacy of existence while the asserter of mysticism has no choice but to assume its truth while denying it. Since god-belief is a type of mysticism (it asserts a supernatural subject which holds metaphysical primacy over the universe of objects), citing this fact is the most useful way to deal with nagging apologists. I’ve not found one who can informatively challenge it. That includes you, Paul Manata.

Paul: “You frequently employ it as a reason not to believe in God, I'm still waiting for the argument. Instead, all I get is the sense that you don't think you need to provide arguments against God's existence because you say he doesn't exist.”

One does not need to produce arguments proving that the non-existent does not exist, Paul. The burden is not on me to “justify non-belief.” I was born not believing. If someone wants me to believe X, and I see no reason to believe X, it is up to him to present some kind of rationale for accepting X. When his case turns out to affirm two diametrically opposite orientations between subject and object, that only tells me that he does not have an explicit understanding of the issue of metaphysical primacy, and that he cannot consistently build his case in particular or his worldview in general with a good understanding of the proper relationship between subject and object in mind. Hence he’s got problems, and I have a way of steering clear of those problems. Case closed.

I wrote: "Yes, I remember you did try this, but I also noticed that you fail to see how such a move not only speaks volumes about your inability to reason inductively from objective inputs, but also how it could only wind up in self-defeat. The question at this point would be: how did you form the concept ‘consciousness’? "

Paul: “No, Dawson, I don't need to argue against a fallacious position. Re-frame your argument first.”

I agree that no one needs to argue against a fallacious position. That is why I have no burden to argue against a worldview built upon stolen concepts. If you did not understand my argument, I’ll need to know what it is that you do not understand before I set down to re-formulate it for you. A quicker way to cut through the chase is to simply ask you: What is your starting point. Once you declare this, we can set down to see if it is truly primary (i.e., it is conceptually irreducible, assuming no prior concepts), or if in fact it is smuggling unchecked assumptions.

I wrote: "Now, if “it’s uncontroversial that things exist,” then what’s the fuss over the axiom that makes this fact explicit? You seem now to be agreeing with an atheist. But consider Greg Bahnsen’s urgent caution that believers not agree with non-believers:"

Paul: “Yeah, it's uncontroversial that things exist. So what. bahnsen would agree. The problem comes in when your entire worldview is put together.”

Right – the problem for Bahnsen comes when he sees that I can remain consistent with the fact that existence exists independent of consciousness, while his worldview does not, even though he needs and makes use of this fact any time he asserts a truth. I don’t see that Bahnsen ever tried to take on Kelley or Peikoff. He was wise to stay clear of them.

Paul: “So now what? Things exist. Big deal. I fail to see how that position is unique to you, or can be used to beat theism in any interesting sense.”

This fact is not unique to any individual thinker. Bahnsen needed it to be true just as you and I do. We need all the axioms in order to do anything. They constitute the common ground that does not yield to Christianity's mystical assumptions. Essentially, you and Bahnsen need my worldview’s explicit foundations to be true in order to do anything, Paul. So you are in fact borrowing from my worldview any time you assert something to be true, even if what you claim turns out not to be true. And I already quoted Bahnsen insisting that you and your fellow apologists resist my worldview from its foundations on up in order to be a good little apologist. So far, I’d say you’re not doing your job as Bahnsen wanted you to do. All you seem able to do is say “Big deal!” now. Your apologetic has been summarily neutralized.

I rest my case.

Regards,
Dawson

 
At 10/17/2006 11:47 AM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

Dawson,

1. Well i took the question diffeently. Anyway, both my points stand. Knowledge can be strngthened as well as faith.

2. Dawson: "The primacy of existence is a component in arguments showing mysticism to be invalid, because mysticism denies the primacy of existence while the asserter of mysticism has no choice but to assume its truth while denying it."

Yeah, well, I don't see it. I don't see how my position denies that "things exist." I don't see how "things exist" can be used as an argument against theism. I know you say it can, but showing it is another story. Once you attempt to do so, then we'll get in to one of my problems with your position. Once you *pour meaning* into "existence exists" it actually turns out to be non-axiomatic. So, as long as it stays at the uninteresting and obvious level, i.e., things exist, I don't see (a) how it's "unique to secularism" and (b) how it could possibly be an argument.

Dawson: "Since god-belief is a type of mysticism (it asserts a supernatural subject which holds metaphysical primacy over the universe of objects)"

Hmmmm, "things exist" does not, in any obvious way, logically infer that "an all powerful God cannot de what He so chooses whith what he's created."

3. So you don't have to provide arguments against god's existence, gotcha. At any rate, I've not been shown how my belief in God is irrational, and I've not been given any reasons not to believe in a being's existence who i take it to be perfectly obvious that He exists.

As far as your position goes, though I may not be able to (and wouldn't want to) challenge the uninteresting claim that things exist, I do not think you can account for "consciousness" and thus one of your planks is destroyed. the comeback that my asking you how you know your conscious assumes that you are misses the point. I don't doubt that you are warranted in believing that you are conscious. I just doubt that if you consistently assumed your physicalism you could account for consciousness. One thing that seems obvious, for example, is that you have intentionality. Another is that you have thoughts. Both these things cannot survive in a naturalistic and materialistic view of the mind.

So, not only have you not given me reasons not to believe in God, you have unwittingly given me reasons to deny your position.

4. Dawson: "A quicker way to cut through the chase is to simply ask you: What is your starting point. Once you declare this, we can set down to see if it is truly primary (i.e., it is conceptually irreducible, assuming no prior concepts), or if in fact it is smuggling unchecked assumptions."

When a Van Tillian speaks of "starting points" he's speaking about epistemological preeminance. So, you'd be barking up the wrong tree on this approach. but, as I said, my worldview allows for consciousness, yours does not.

5. Dawson: "Right – the problem for Bahnsen comes when he sees that I can remain consistent with the fact that existence exists independent of consciousness, while his worldview does not, even though he needs and makes use of this fact any time he asserts a truth. I don’t see that Bahnsen ever tried to take on Kelley or Peikoff. He was wise to stay clear of them."

Well, we'd have to see what you mean by "remain consistent." I don't see how, say, "morals" would exist "independant of consciousness." I don't see how necessary propositions would exist without a mind. So, it would be like a suitcase. If you have the sleeves and pant leggs hanging out of the sides of your case you can, instead of re-packing, just cut off those bothersome hangups.

And, I don't see that 99% of the worlds philsophers bothered to take on Piekoff or Kelley, they're probably too wise also, huh? It couldn't be because of what they say, now could it?

6. Dawson: "Essentially, you and Bahnsen need my worldview’s explicit foundations to be true in order to do anything, Paul."

As I said (and you agreed), I don't see how they are "your worldview's foundations." Second, you don't have consciousness as a foundation. Third, perhaps you've misunderstood my position, for the fact that things exist, that we are conscious, etc., does not hinder my position, and I've never denied it, neither has Christianity. In fact, "In the beginning God" as well as the doctrine of His eternity, pretty much assumes that soemthing has always existed. So, why would the fact that thinsg exist bother me? Furthermore, God's been eternally conscious. So why would I have a problem with consciousness? You see, the only way I'd have a problem is when you *mean* those axioms in a non-axiomatic way. Say you meant "things exist" to mean "only hard bits of matter exist, but *that's certainly not-axiomatic!

7. Dawson: "So you are in fact borrowing from my worldview any time you assert something to be true, even if what you claim turns out not to be true."

I don't see how that's the case, at all. My worldview never denied those things. But, you do assume the falsity of yours when you assume logical laws and consciousness.

8. Dawson: " And I already quoted Bahnsen insisting that you and your fellow apologists resist my worldview from its foundations on up in order to be a good little apologist."

You don't scare me by quoting Bahnsen. Second, taken in the uninteresting sense, "those aren't *you* foundations." Now, if you *mean* something by them, i.e., "only hard bits of matter exist" (for example), then I would resit that axiom.

9. Dawson: "So far, I’d say you’re not doing your job as Bahnsen wanted you to do. All you seem able to do is say “Big deal!” now. Your apologetic has been summarily neutralized."

Despite the rhetoric...

Yeah, big deal, Dawson. So far we're at, "things exist." I failt o see how that's problematic for me or my apologetic.

I fail to see how my apologetic has been neutralized. I simply pointed out that your "axioms" are not a threat to my worldview. So, that's projecting. I've actually neutralized your "axioms" as uninteresting and unable to do the work intended for them.

I rest my case,

PM

 
At 10/17/2006 9:07 PM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Paul: “Yeah, well, I don't see it. I don't see how my position denies that ‘things exist’."

You must not have been reading very well, Paul. As I said, my starting point is the recognition that things exist. My worldview makes this explicit. I pointed out that my starting point (i.e., my “ultimate presupposition” in Bahnsen’s terms) would have to be true in order for you to claim that Christianity is true. Bahnsen wants you to disagree with the foundations of my position; I quoted him on this point.

Paul: “I don't see how ‘things exist’ can be used as an argument against theism.”

You demonstrate that you’re not at all familiar with my atheology, or you’re just playing dumb. Theism is contrary to the principle of objectivity (i.e., the principle that the universe of objects exists independent of consciousness). That’s because theism asserts a subject which holds metaphysical primacy over the universe of objects. On this view, all objects have their source in and/or conform to the will of the ruling subject. You can’t get more subjective than this. The concept ‘truth’ presupposes the principle of objectivity, as Objectivism explicitly conceives of it. So when you claim that theism is true, you are applying a concept which requires the primacy of existence to a view which negates the primacy of existence. Thus you commit the fallacy of the stolen concept: you employ a concept while ignoring or denying its genetic roots. Hence, theism is philosophically invalid at its very foundations.

Paul: “So you don't have to provide arguments against god's existence, gotcha.”

That’s right. No one needs to provide an argument to prove that the non-existent does not exist. If your god does not exist, it does not exist, whether I or anyone else undertake the task of trying to show you that it doesn’t exist. The state of affairs that exists does not depend on what I can or cannot argue. See, I’m simply being consistent with my stated principles.

Paul: “At any rate, I've not been shown how my belief in God is irrational, and I've not been given any reasons not to believe in a being's existence who i take it to be perfectly obvious that He exists.”

You have, Paul, you’re just clinging to your delusions. That’s your choice. It’s called faith.

Paul: “As far as your position goes, though I may not be able to (and wouldn't want to) challenge the uninteresting claim that things exist, I do not think you can account for ‘consciousness’ and thus one of your planks is destroyed.”

One of my “planks” is that consciousness exists. This fact does not stand or fall on my ability or inability to “account for consciousness.” I recognize that consciousness is real, and that’s sufficient for my purposes as a thinker. Besides, what do you mean by “account for consciousness” and how do you “account for consciousness”? “Duh, I donno, must be God did it!” is not an answer, because if you claim that your god is conscious, then you’ve simply asserted what you’re called to account for. Thus you don’t even make it to first base. You’re just trying to invent ways to discredit my position in your mind so that you can feel like you've put challenges to your faith beliefs to rest. All the while, you try to evade the fact that my position’s foundations need to be true in order for you to challenge them.

Paul: “the comeback that my asking you how you know your conscious assumes that you are misses the point.”

What point? Please, try to be specific.

Paul: “I don't doubt that you are warranted in believing that you are conscious. I just doubt that if you consistently assumed your physicalism you could account for consciousness.”

Your doubts are of no concern, Paul. And what do you mean by “physicalism”? What have I affirmed that makes consciousness so incompatible? Are you saying that by denying the existence of your imaginary deity, that I am at odds with myself for recognizing the fact that I am conscious? That would not be very cogent. In fact, by granting that your god-belief is imaginary, I am affirming consciousness (namely yours), not denying it.

Paul: “One thing that seems obvious, for example, is that you have intentionality. Another is that you have thoughts. Both these things cannot survive in a naturalistic and materialistic view of the mind.”

You mean, if someone holds a “naturalistic and materialistic view of the mind,” intentionality and thoughts somehow cease? How does that work? Seems to me that, no matter what view a person may hold, whether true or false, consciousness still exists. Again, if you think I’ve affirmed something that is incompatible with the recognition that I am conscious, can you specify what it is exactly? Seems you’re raising an old canard that was decisively put to rest long ago.

Paul: “So, not only have you not given me reasons not to believe in God, you have unwittingly given me reasons to deny your position.”

Ah, so you deny the fact that things exist now? Earlier you said that this was uncontroversial. Now you say you have “reasons to deny [my] position." But it’s unclear what those reasons might be.

I wrote: "A quicker way to cut through the chase is to simply ask you: What is your starting point. Once you declare this, we can set down to see if it is truly primary (i.e., it is conceptually irreducible, assuming no prior concepts), or if in fact it is smuggling unchecked assumptions."

Paul: “When a Van Tillian speaks of ‘starting points’ he's speaking about epistemological preeminance. So, you'd be barking up the wrong tree on this approach. but, as I said, my worldview allows for consciousness, yours does not.”

So, you cannot identify a conceptually irreducible starting point? Or, you just don’t know of one that does not inadvertently assume the truth of mine? I already know that you cannot declare your starting point, Paul. That’s why I asked you to do it, so that your evasion could be clear to all.

I wrote: "Right – the problem for Bahnsen comes when he sees that I can remain consistent with the fact that existence exists independent of consciousness, while his worldview does not, even though he needs and makes use of this fact any time he asserts a truth. I don’t see that Bahnsen ever tried to take on Kelley or Peikoff. He was wise to stay clear of them."

Paul: “Well, we'd have to see what you mean by ‘remain consistent’. I don't see how, say, ‘morals’ would exist ‘independant of consciousness’."

Are you suggesting that the facts upon which moral principles are based are subject to someone’s wishing? That’s the theistic worldview. “God doesn’t like it!” is essentially the religious formula for determining “right and wrong.” If you’re interested in understanding my approach to morality, see here and here for starters.

Paul: “I don't see how necessary propositions would exist without a mind.”

Propositions are functions of a consciousness. We have already recognized that consciousness is real. Since consciousness exists, it has an identity (for to exist is to be something – that’s the axiom of identity). The nature of a consciousness is what it is independent of its own wishing. For instance, I can wish that I can speak Cantonese, but wishing will not give me the ability to speak it. Even in making use of my consciousness, I must obey its nature. So there’s no problem here.

I wrote: "Essentially, you and Bahnsen need my worldview’s explicit foundations to be true in order to do anything, Paul."

Paul: “As I said (and you agreed), I don't see how they are ‘your worldview's foundations’."

They are. My worldview’s foundations are the axioms of existence, identity and consciousness. They would have to be true in order for you to deny them. Bahnsen wants you to deny them. But, obviously being unfamiliar with my worldview, Bahnsen didn’t realize that his “disagree at all costs” policy would lead you right down Absurdity Avenue.

Paul: “Second, you don't have consciousness as a foundation.”

I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. You neither explain this statement, nor attempt to back it up.

Paul: “Third, perhaps you've misunderstood my position, for the fact that things exist, that we are conscious, etc., does not hinder my position, and I've never denied it, neither has Christianity. In fact, ‘In the beginning God’ as well as the doctrine of His eternity, pretty much assumes that soemthing has always existed.”

Yes, like any statement, whether true or untrue, they must assume the truth of my worldview’s axioms. I’ve pointed this out many times, Paul. Remember why I asked you to declare your conceptually irreducible starting point? I did that so we could have the opportunity to show how your starting point assumes the truth of mine.

Paul: “So, why would the fact that thinsg exist bother me?”

Did I ever say it should “bother” anyone? I don’t think I ever said this.

Paul: “Furthermore, God's been eternally conscious.”

Funny, that’s what the Blarkists say about Blarko. Anyone can make claims like this about an imaginary being.

Paul: “So why would I have a problem with consciousness?”

I would hope you don’t have a problem with consciousness, Paul. After all, you’d have to be conscious in order to deny your consciousness, as my worldview points out.

Paul: “You see, the only way I'd have a problem is when you *mean* those axioms in a non-axiomatic way.”

Such as?

Paul: “Say you meant ‘things exist’ to mean ‘only hard bits of matter exist’, but *that's certainly not-axiomatic!”

And I’ve never affirmed that “only hard bits of matter exist.” Did you read the quote from Peikoff? Here’s the relevant part again:

This axiom does not tell us anything about the nature of existents; it merely underscores the fact that they exist... (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 5.)

You aren’t trying to put words in my mouth, are you, Paul?

I wrote: "So you are in fact borrowing from my worldview any time you assert something to be true, even if what you claim turns out not to be true."

Paul: “I don't see how that's the case, at all. My worldview never denied those things.”

Your worldview denies the primacy of existence by affirming a notion that grants metaphysical primacy to consciousness. But in asserting your primacy of consciousness claims as truth, you make use of the primacy of existence. So you have no choice but to borrow from my worldview in order to assert yours.

Paul: “But, you do assume the falsity of yours when you assume logical laws and consciousness.”

What specifically am I assuming to be false about my worldview when I “assume logical laws and consciousness”?

I wrote: "And I already quoted Bahnsen insisting that you and your fellow apologists resist my worldview from its foundations on up in order to be a good little apologist."

Paul: “You don't scare me by quoting Bahnsen.”

I’m not trying to scare you, Paul. I’m trying to educate you.

Fear is the tool of the religionists, Paul. Knowledge is mine.

Paul: “Second, taken in the uninteresting sense, ‘those aren't *you* foundations’."

How are the axioms of existence, identity and consciousness not my foundations? Pick up any book on Objectivism and show me where it says these are not the founding concepts.

Paul: “Now, if you *mean* something by them, i.e., ‘only hard bits of matter exist’ (for example), then I would resit that axiom.”

See above.

Paul: “I simply pointed out that your ‘axioms’ are not a threat to my worldview.”

Then why do you always have such a problem with them?

Paul: “I've actually neutralized your ‘axioms’ as uninteresting and unable to do the work intended for them.”

You can call the axioms “uninteresting,” but generalizing this for all thinkers is a subjective move. It won't be true just because you want it to be true. Some thinkers think the axioms are very interesting, especially the uniqueness of axiomatic concepts (even if you disapprove). Now you claim that my axioms are “unable to do the work intended for them.” How so? They’re still true, and I still have to assume them in order to deny them. As Peikoff puts it, "the axioms are invulnerable." You can huff and puff and threaten to blow down the house with your god’s mighty breath all you want, Paul. But the truth of the axioms will not bend to your will.

Regards,
Dawson

 
At 10/17/2006 9:54 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Paul: So, I don't get it, Zach. Are you denying that "evidence has to be considered for all of our beliefs?

First of all, you're missing a quotation mark. I said that "evidence has to be considered," but no more. What I mean by this is that no matter what supernatural claims a person may hold to, empirical evidence cannot be ignored. It's all well and good, for example, to claim that Zeus throws lightning bolts from the clouds to the the ground. But if scientific evidence shows that actually lightning travels from the ground to the clouds, it does the supernaturalist no good to simply ignore that evidence and retreat to faith.

 
At 10/18/2006 10:11 AM, Blogger Not Reformed declaimed...

Very interesting read, guys!

 
At 10/18/2006 12:20 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

Dawson,

Dawson: "You must not have been reading very well, Paul. As I said, my starting point is the recognition that things exist. My worldview makes this explicit. I pointed out that my starting point (i.e., my “ultimate presupposition” in Bahnsen’s terms) would have to be true in order for you to claim that Christianity is true. Bahnsen wants you to disagree with the foundations of my position; I quoted him on this point."

Paul: Again, Bahnen would not agree (and I've pointed out myriad occasions where you have butchered Bahnsen). Bahnsen would agree that, say, in order to assert that Christianity is true one must exist to do the asserting.

But, my worldview makes the claim that "things exist" explicit as well. Take the creation account. God created "thinsg" and, hence, they now "exist."

So, without pouring any more meaning into "things exist" it is totally unproblematic for my worldview, as well as not being unique to yours.

Dawson: "You demonstrate that you’re not at all familiar with my atheology, or you’re just playing dumb. Theism is contrary to the principle of objectivity (i.e., the principle that the universe of objects exists independent of consciousness). That’s because theism asserts a subject which holds metaphysical primacy over the universe of objects."

Paul: But here the problem is you getting from the proposition "things exist" to what you just said above.

There is nothing in "things exist" which, on any normal reading, imply the proposituions above.

This: "things cannot be subject to an all powerful God" is not inferred from this: "things exist" on any rules of inference that I'm aware of. In fact, taken as they are above, both of those claims are actually *logically consistent* (i.e., they're not like these claims: (1) Paul was from Tarsus and (2) Paul was not from Tarsus).

Dawson: "On this view, all objects have their source in and/or conform to the will of the ruling subject. You can’t get more subjective than this."

Paul: And? Big deal, Dawson. So an all-powerful God can create things, so what. The only force your claims have is the rhetoric they're baptized in.

Dawson: The concept ‘truth’ presupposes the principle of objectivity, as Objectivism explicitly conceives of it. So when you claim that theism is true, you are applying a concept which requires the primacy of existence to a view which negates the primacy of existence.

Paul: None of this is obvious at all. First, among the myriad theories of truth, what's yours.

Second, the primacy of existence, as you said, is "things exist." How does theism negate "things exist?" It doesn't. Unless, of course, you pour meaning into "things exist" and show that you've not been forthright and honest in our discussion, which is what I'm trying to draw out.

Third, you've not given any reason to suppose that an all-knowing God cannot do what he so desires which what he's created. You have voiced your dislike of this concept, but as we both know, reality does not conform to finite man's wishes.

Dawson: "Thus you commit the fallacy of the stolen concept: you employ a concept while ignoring or denying its genetic roots. Hence, theism is philosophically invalid at its very foundations."

Paul: Hardly, Dawson. Other than your say-so, you've not shown any problems with my view. I don't deny that "things exist." As you pointed out, "things exist" does not, according to Piekoff, say "anything about what kind of things exist." hence it does not say that they cannot be the "kind of thing" that is created and subject to an all-powerful God. So it appears that you're not even being consistent with your own position.

Dawson: That’s right. No one needs to provide an argument to prove that the non-existent does not exist. If your god does not exist, it does not exist, whether I or anyone else undertake the task of trying to show you that it doesn’t exist.

Paul: Right, but saying so doesn't make it so, as we've both agreed (again, for finite and limited and non-omnipotent humans). So, if you think that you can just *assert* thta God doesn't exist and then this means that if he did you'd "poof" him out of existence, I disagree. At any rate, you don't need to state the obvious, but I figured you didn't have any arguments against God's existence. :-)

I previously wrote: “At any rate, I've not been shown how my belief in God is irrational, and I've not been given any reasons not to believe in a being's existence who i take it to be perfectly obvious that He exists.”

Dawson: You have, Paul, you’re just clinging to your delusions. That’s your choice. It’s called faith.


Paul: No, I havent'. But I could just reverse the above on you. At any rate, "The state of affairs that exists does not depend on what I can or cannot argue."

Dawson: "One of my “planks” is that consciousness exists. This fact does not stand or fall on my ability or inability to “account for consciousness.” I recognize that consciousness is real, and that’s sufficient for my purposes as a thinker."

Paul: But my claim is that *IF* your posituion were true, there would be no such thing as "consciousness." Consciousness is immaterial. You should deny it like Paul and Pat Churchland. they are consistent materialists. So, though I know that consciousness exists regardless of whether you can account for it or not, my point was a deeper one which can be stated like this:

1. If the truth of a worldview undercuts the existence of consciousness then we should reject the worldview.

2. If Dawson's Objectivism were true it would undercut the existence of consciousness.

3. Therefore we should reject Dawson's objectivism.

Dawson: You mean, if someone holds a “naturalistic and materialistic view of the mind,” intentionality and thoughts somehow cease? How does that work?

Paul: No, I mean that *IF* their worldview were true then those things wouldn't exist. This is what Chruchland et al has agreed to. So, *IF* naturalism and materialism would be true, there would be no such things as minds (of course the "minds" they allow for aren't really minds and you don't have the metaphysical resources to give a cogent account of what's going on in our mental lives).

Dawson: Seems to me that, no matter what view a person may hold, whether true or false, consciousness still exists.

Paul: And now you see how I'm arguing it above. I agree it still exists, even though people still believe in naturalism and materialism. I'm beginning to argue, though, that if the world *really was* ontologically the way the naturalist and materialist says it is, then yes, those things would not exist.

I previously wrote: “So, not only have you not given me reasons not to believe in God, you have unwittingly given me reasons to deny your position.”

Dawson: Ah, so you deny the fact that things exist now? Earlier you said that this was uncontroversial. Now you say you have “reasons to deny [my] position." But it’s unclear what those reasons might be.

Paul: I don't deny things exist. The context was consciousness. I'd appreciate it if you'd stop the schoolyard tactics of purposefully misrepresenting my.

I wrote: “When a Van Tillian speaks of ‘starting points’ he's speaking about epistemological preeminance. So, you'd be barking up the wrong tree on this approach. but, as I said, my worldview allows for consciousness, yours does not.”

Dawson: So, you cannot identify a conceptually irreducible starting point? Or, you just don’t know of one that does not inadvertently assume the truth of mine? I already know that you cannot declare your starting point, Paul. That’s why I asked you to do it, so that your evasion could be clear to all.

Paul: I can "declare my starting piont." It is, "the Christian worldview." Now, the problem is that you're equivocating on "starting point." You seem upset if I won't play by your rules. When did this start? Who says you get to determine how the conversation gioes or how I defend my position.

Dawson: Are you suggesting that the facts upon which moral principles are based are subject to someone’s wishing? That’s the theistic worldview. “God doesn’t like it!” is essentially the religious formula for determining “right and wrong.” If you’re interested in understanding my approach to morality, see here and here for starters.

Paul: Well that's not my view of ethics. But, yes, if you say that moral laws exist, then you'd either have to say that humans created them, or they exist irreguardless of humans, or they do not exist at all.

Now, you said that there is a "code of values which guide man's thinking." Really? Where? Is it floating around in space? How does it "guide you?" Do you need to mediate to get in touch with this invisible code?

At any rate, if you'd say that ethics exist, and if you'd say that they would not exist if there were no "forms of consciousness" then I'd say you believe that a form of consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over reality. Or, I guess if that's not the case then you believe that if all humans were to die by a commet htting earth, then there'd still be a "code of values which guid man's thinking" (even though there's no men) floatin around space looking for a home.

Dawson: "Propositions are functions of a consciousness."

Paul: So the proposition 2+2=4 is a "function of consciousness?" Would 2+2=4 dissapear if "consciousness" did? Would it not be true any more? Dawson, *you're* the subjectivist.

And, 'propositions' are not "functions of consciousness." First, what is a "function of consciousness" in your worldview. Secretion of fluid in the brain? Second, all philosophers agree that, a proposition is the content of an assertion, that is, it is true-or-false and defined by the meaning of a particular piece of language. The proposition is independent of the medium of communication. The problem arises, how does something like this exist if what you say about the world is true?

Dawson: "And I’ve never affirmed that “only hard bits of matter exist.”

Paul: Oh, so you *do* believe that invisible magick things exist.

Dawson: "Your worldview denies the primacy of existence by affirming a notion that grants metaphysical primacy to consciousness. But in asserting your primacy of consciousness claims as truth, you make use of the primacy of existence. So you have no choice but to borrow from my worldview in order to assert yours."

Paul: Again, my worldview claims that an all-poweful God can create things, and can do with them what he so pleases. You've not once showed me how this is problematic. Your argument has always run thus:

D: Can you make a table levitate?

P: No.

D: See, consciousness can't affect reality.

P: I fail to see how the fact that *I* can't do such and such means that *God* can't do such and such. That's a hasty generalization.

D: No, it's an inductive conclusion.

P: No, it's not even comparing like samples, it therefore breaks the rules of inductive generalizations.


Zach,

You said, point blank that faith is "specifically belief without evidence." Since you've granted that you're not an evidentialist and that people can have beliefs without evidence and that's not problematic, then I'd assume that you don't think faith is problematic and that even you have faith (since you can't base all of *your* beliefs on evidence as you saw you can't defeat the infinite regress argument).

So, I'd say that you defeated yourself without my help this time, you're getting better and better Zach. :-)

 
At 10/20/2006 1:46 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

I can't believe I missed this.

Dawson messed up big time.

Dawson: "Propositions are functions of a consciousness."

Paul: What do you do about necessary propositions, then?

You see, I also hold that abstracta exits in a mind, the divine mind, that is.

But for Dawson, if propositions are a function of consciousness, hence they exist in minds, then whose mind do necessary proposiitons exist in? Since they're necessary there's no possible world in which they fail to exist (say, the proposition, "something cannot be red and green all over").

Theism has the resources to account for this: the necessary mind of God, which has always existed.

Dawson either must give up his view of propositions, or become a theist.

thanks,

PM

 
At 10/20/2006 2:42 PM, Blogger Brother Blark declaimed...

Discomfiter...

Great work!!!!

Maybe if you come back and re-read this whole thread yet again, you can find another statement to shine the light of your truth upon!

I'm with you brother!

 

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