Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Franc answers the "Questions for Atheists"

Since I love answering questions, why not get into the fun? The blog "Christian Skepticism" (?) asks:

Q1: Why is there something rather than nothing?
A: "Is" presumes existence, and "nothing" presumes non-existence. So asking "why is there something rather than nothing" is rather like asking "why is the elephant walking instead of flying": it is a loaded question, a logical fallacy, something which the author of the question incidentally asked us to avoid.

Q2: How do you know that you exist (without being circular)?
A: Since existence is irreducible (that is to say, cannot be reduced to prior concepts), it is impossible to justify existence without being circular. All we can do is point it out. Once again, loaded question, etc.

Q3: Where does human self-consciousness come from?
A: If we're talking about the capacity for self-consciousness in the species homo sapiens, then the answer is: it came from the self-consciousness present in the brain of our evolutionary ancestors. Since it is so trivial, I am not sure what this question was supposed to demonstrate; maybe I missed the point here and the question was just badly formulated.

Q4: How do you know that your senses are reliable (without being circular)?
A: Because any attempt to prove that the senses are not reliable is circular. Presumably, such an attempt would try to demonstrate that a given perception was erroneous, and thus that the senses are unreliable. But in order to demonstrate "how it actually is," one needs to use the senses as well.
For instance, one may argue that the senses are unreliable by showing us how a pencil looks bent in a glass of water, but in order to demonstrate that this bending is illusory, one needs to use another sense, like touch, or take the pencil and observe it outside of the water, or rely on such observations as done by other people and apply its result, the law of refraction. Thus the empiricism-skeptic accepts the reliability of the senses and, like the empiricist, is only arguing about interpretation.

Q5: What is truth?
A: A truth is an epistemically justified proposition. An epistemically justified proposition is one which describes what we observe or explains its causal relations, not going beyond what we have or omitting anything.

Q6: What is the cause of everything?
A: Entities have different causes. The cause of you posting what you did is different from the cause of this current post. The case of the existence of a star is very different from what caused my coming into being. Essentially, this question contains a hidden fallacious premise... once again, something that we were asked to avoid.

I find it quite interesting that three out of these six questions contain fallacies, when we were explicitly told not to use fallacies. Another case of typical Christian projection? You decide.

Post a Comment


At 3/06/2007 9:06 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

You know, it just occurred to me, these questions are very different qualitatively than the original 89 which were posed by the RRS to theists. I think I might be interested now in seeing some theist answers to these questions.

...although, the moment that thought passes through my mind, I realize that the standard Christian answer to all of them is: "God."

I think their question three would be better phrased as "Where are the origins of consciousness?" More of a general notion than just for our species. Although, have you ever read about bicameralism in regards to human consciousness? I've heard of it, but never read anything definitive persuading me to it. I was curious as to your thoughts.

At 3/06/2007 12:23 PM, Blogger Unknown declaimed...

I quite enjoy the everything and nothing arguments. I once had an argument with a friend - I came from nothing and therefore am - he came from everything and therefore is. We both made good points but missed the middle of these two extremes - Mu, in Japanese thought. Could be described as neither something nor nothing but the transition of energy between the two extremes, the information flow that connects them in the soup of what we know. We ask questions to get focused tangable answers, yet there exists nothing that is 100% focused and tangable, only everything could ever be considered 100% whole - which people tend to label god as it is also untangable. We should therefore ask questions with no want or need for an answer. All answers are temporary.

At 3/06/2007 2:23 PM, Blogger BlackSun declaimed...

Franc, good points. What I always enjoy about these types of leading questions is that they reveal the obvious bias of the questioner. They're kind of a pseudo-sophisticated attempt to trap the respondent into admitting something the questioner wants.

In other words, these questions are not intellectually honest in the first place. Some are unanswerable, and others are word-games having to do with philosophical concepts like "qualia" e.g. how do you know when you see red, it's the same as when I see red.

Anyone who has gotten beyond these word-games knows that consciousness and existence are the two greatest mysteries.

'Proving' that science can't answer such questions fully and completely accomplishes nothing but to throw up a smokescreen in front of the fact that theism can't answer them at ALL.

At 3/07/2007 11:01 PM, Blogger Error declaimed...

I wouldn't put much trust in Tremblay's atheological abilities and his "refutations" of theism:

At 3/07/2007 11:12 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Gee Paul, your bitterness wouldn't have anything to do with the book I wrote against presuppositionalism would it?

Silly Christian.

At 3/08/2007 1:13 AM, Blogger Error declaimed...

what bitterness. Is that what you call "critiques?" So, your critique of presuppositionalism is "bitterness?"

"Silly Christian"

Gosh, how will I come back from that one.


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