Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jake Farr-Wharton Responds

Jake Farr-Wharton has engaged the observations which I placed on the Martin S Pribble blog yesterday. Farr-Wharton has claimed exceptional morality and now takes on the task of providing data for the proof of Atheism:
“On the contrary, every field of study attributing their findings to the scientific method (i.e. we made a prediction and tested it, then repeated it, then put it out for everyone else to test it, and it remains valid until proven invalid or improved upon) finds that we live in a natural universe without any influence from outside (supernatural) forces.”
Sir, your definition of the scientific method is only partial, having omitted the very first sort. The first sort is done by determining the falsifiability of the proposition. This is the Popper Demarcation Principle (note 1). This merely says that if a claim cannot be proven false using empirical, material techniques, then it is not a proposition which science can address. Now you claim to use premise/conclusion, so let’s put this principle into a syllogistic deductive format:
P1: IF[a proposition Q is not falsifiable under empirical material testing procedures], THEN [it is not available for adjudication under the procedures of empirical science];

P2: Proposition Q is not falsifiable under material testing procedures;

C: Therefore empirical science cannot adjudicate Proposition Q.
Now then, the proposition, Q, might be that ”there is no non-material existence”. Empirical science is voluntarily and functionally material-limited (not philosophically, only functionally). So there is no material procedure which can test for non-material existence. This is a given, an understood limitation of science. Being unable to test the proposition, the proposition cannot be either proven nor can it be falsified (refuted). So science is impotent in the case of Proposition Q.

In fact, the assertion/belief that science can, in fact, adjudicate questions of non-material existence is false, and is known as Scientism, an erroneous belief system. It is also a Category Error of the most basic kind, expecting to find Set [!A] within Set [A]. (note 2)

So the use of science to make a claim about non-physical existence is a false procedure. It proves nothing, because of the impotence of science when science is pushed outside its limitations. This is fatal to Scientistic claims.

Therefore, now that you see the full extent of scientific theory, the limitations of science to material questions, and the failure of Scientism as a philosophical proposition, surely you will reconsider your evaluation.
” The premise above, which posits that all scientific findings support a naturalistic universe without any requirement or evidence of any of the millions of gods and supernatural deities that humanity has believed in since our ancestors gained an enormous cortex capable of introspection, concludes that atheism is indeed an evidence based position.”
The abject failure of the first proposition causes the use of that proposition in this claim to flunk this claim as well. Furthermore, you have not attempted in the slightest degree, so far, to provide any actual empirical scientific data that shows the complete non-existence of non-physical existence. What you have chosen to present is presumptions (based on ignoring certain issues which I will get to in a moment) which are that “absence of evidence is evidence of absence”, a demonstrably false proposition. Here is your basis for your Truth statement.
IF [there is no evidence for P], THEN [P cannot exist].

Since science is your only source of knowledge, then I challenge you to devise an experiment which shows this to be the case for all possible P.

What you are actually asserting is the standard Inductive Fallacy of philosophical misapplication, which says that if there is no evidence for black swans, then black swans do not exist. This is false. It is an improper inductive extrapolation. Further, true logical induction does not assert that its findings are adequate to be a universal philosophical Truth, as you do. Inductive logic merely says that no swans that are not white have been observed so far. This is a statement of fact, not of philosophical Truth. The comparable statement in your case is this:

”No gods or God or god-dependency has been observed in the observable portion of the universe, using current technology for material observation”.
That is the full extent of the capability of inductive science; the actual limits of inductive knowledge must be honestly declared. To claim more than is actually inductively known is to add metaphysical presumptions which are not in any way scientific understandings. However, even the limited inductive statement shown is false, because there are observations of non-physical interference which have to be ignored in order to make that claim.

The claims made regarding an observed series of non-natural occurrences at Lourdes, France is always available for material refutation. There is even a material remnant which is available for refutation, and a heavily documented observation of its occurrence. This constitutes a refutation of the original calim which you made regarding a complete lack of evidence: evidence is available for you to examine and refute using the empirical, experimental, replicable, falsifiable, peer reviewed techniques which you prefer. Until you have presented replicated and non-falsified data refuting this claim at Lourdes, you cannot make the statement that there exists no evidence, because there is evidence at Lourdes.

Further, the existence of agency is contradictory to a deterministic universe, as is life, consciousness, mind, qualia, and irrational behaviors as well as rational comprehension and self-awareness. So scientism, even if it were coherent, is not enough to declare knowledge which Atheists think they have.

To summarize this part before venturing further:
1. Your claim of evidence is shown to be a Category Error and misapprehension of the limits of materialist science.

2. Your claim of evidence is based on the Inductive Fallacy and cannot be accepted.

3. Your claim of evidence is falsified until the claims made at Lourdes and similar claims are successfully empirically refuted.

4. Your Scientistic claims are non-coherent as will be demonstrated below.
Since the evidence which you claim is actually inadequate and inappropriate to the purpose given it, the original position that Atheists have no evidence and are therefore engaged in blind belief stands.

” While I am unsure of what is meant by the term “escalating scepticism”, chiefly because you made it up, I can indeed speak to the idea of an asymmetrical approach to dealing with multifaceted issues.
If you told me that there was a white chair in my office, I could walk into my office and check your claim. In a metaphorical way, this could be described as a symmetrical or linear way to address your claim. If, however, you told me that there was a white chair orbiting the distant star Betelgeuse, I would, metaphorically speaking, have to take a multifaceted approach to counter your claim. Such an approach, again, metaphorically, could be considered asymmetrical.

With that stated, your claim is an ad hominem, and thus not considered an argument. As such, sir/madam, your argument premise is faulty, thus your argument is invalid. Please retract it at your earliest convenience.”

Escalating skepticism is observable as a process within the Atheist argumentation procedure. Being observable, it is an empirical statement and not an imagined fabrication as you imply. It generally works like this: After Scientism has been deleted as a way of knowing anything about the non-physical esxistence, Atheists tend to use their own metaphysical beliefs, of which they are completely non-skeptical. However, any contrary metaphysics presented to them, even as grounded deductive propositions which are grounded in both empirical observations and First Principle axioms, those propositions will be attacked with increasing skeptical denialism until complete Pyrhonnian denialism is used, if necessary.

So the skepticism generally used by Atheists in argumentation is both asymmetrical (not applied to their own propositions), and escalating as deductive propositions are presented to them.

So the claim, being empirically observed, is not Ad Hominem in the least. The supposed refutation is denied.

” The first premise of your argument, that “atheism presents no morals” is correct. Around 2.5 million years ago our ancestor, Homo habilis began congregating in ever larger groups, as evidenced by the remains they left behind. Due to the fact that the ability to congregate, an ability which we take for granted (if you question this, please experiment by placing a foreign mature male gorilla in an established group), confers such an immense advantage in survival, those who were able to stay in groups passed on their sociable genes and propagated the remainder of the Homo genus with that trait.”
This is a Just So Story without any empirical, replicable data for support. Which genes are the “sociable genes”? What mutations brought them into place? When were they actually observed to have been passed on for the first time? What data shows that non-gene carriers did not survive because they could not assimilate into the group? This is a fabricated story which is fabricated out of whole cloth in order to satisfy a hole in the actual, empirical knowledge base. Using such a fatuous fable for a Truth statement renders the worldview which depends on it to be based on a demonstrable fable, not on any sort of Truth. It is actually a metaphysical prop, not fact in any sense.
” Today, we call this trait “morality” (the elements that make up morality we call “ethics”), despite the fact that theists give it an absolute value, it is a continuously evolving socially derived mechanism.”
Yes, this is the concept which many Atheists use: morals are socially derived, so in a given society, whatever they choose for themselves is Moral, by Atheist definition. This total flexiblity in moral sense is the reason that Dawkins observed that it is not possible for him to fault Hitler, who was doing the socially-derived moral thing. Under the Atheist concept of morality, there is exactly no morality as a fixed concept. As society “evolves”, it can accept killing fetuses, then killing defective postnatal babies (PNAC), then killing old people by denying health care (Obama's "grandma"), then killing subnormal individuals who “can’t have a productive, happy life”, then killing subnormal ethnic groups who are not productive, etc., and there is no end to this "rational" progression.. This is only an example, not an actual progression, yet it is not precluded under Atheist variable moral theories (think Peter Singer).

These progressions, while not yet in force, of course are not morals, they are Consequentialist tactics which are deemed moral, because Atheists thought them up and call them such. The word "morality" has come to have no meaning under Atheism, because it encompasses any and all behaviors, discriminating against none. A concept which has no capacity to discriminate or differentiate against what it is not, is useless: morality = any and all behaviors.

In the shorter term, however, Atheists find that they cannot generate any trust from others, because they believe in the total variability of Consequentialism as their ethic/tactic. In fact, there is no reason for one Atheist to trust any other Atheist, because of the extreme fluidity of their “moral” system.
”Evidence of this is the fact that slavery is abhorred in the West, yet continues in the East (and is both justified and endorsed in the New and Old Testaments of the bible). Further evidence of this is feminism and equality in the West and honour killing, segregation and subjugation of women in the East.”

The difference in morality show above is merely the difference between good and evil, not in genetic evolutionary processes. In fact, Atheists claim that there is no good or evil, but that God is evil, of course.

In fact, by making this claim you are claiming that the denizens of the West are further morally evolved than the denizens of the East. And that claim is obviously racist. Unless you care to back up your evolution claim with genetic data showing that the denizens of the East are actually genetically inferior to the denizens of the West your claim must be seen as bigoted. In your defense, I doubt that you will claim that there is a genetic lag in Easter peoples; I suspect that you didn't see the consequence of your theory, which is non-coherent even under Atheist standards.

Now you might argue that neither moral claim is better or worse than the other moral claim; that would prove that there is no consistent moral basis for the Atheist worldview, and anything goes, morally.

Or you might claim that it is Western society which evolved, not humans, and that would invalidate your evolutionary claim above regarding humans and genetic change.

And this:
” The remainder of your argument is objectively invalid because, as explained in the above two paragraphs, atheists do not make up morality, morality, an evolved trait, exists as a social construct independent of any religion or ideology.”
Until you present your empirical, experimental, replicable and replicated, falsifiable and not falsified, peer reviewed data to support this metaphysical claim, you have not proven your case. In fact, you have made up the concept that morality is [R], where R = social construct. Other Atheists do not agree, and accept Consequentialism, and still others don’t agree with that and accept Virtue Ethics. So your position is a fabricated one, one which is not universal within Atheism, and not proof of anything regarding Morality, except that for Atheists, it is whatever they say it is, whenever they say it.

Your argument then cannot be accepted.

Now for this:
” “Here’s another claim: Atheists have no evidence or logic which proves incorrigibly that there is no continuity of life which is not attached to the dead corpse.”

If you will consider reading my first response, you will find that I have already addressed this claim. As such, sir/madam, your argument premise is faulty, thus your argument is invalid. Please retract it at your earliest convenience.”

You have in no manner presented the empirical, experimental data you promised up front. Where is your experiment on dead corpses showing that consciousness, for example, is dead also (producing the dead consciousness for our examination) and therefore without any continuity? My claim is that you don’t have such data, and my suspicion is that you will claim something along the lines of “that requirement is unfair”, or some other claim absolving yourself from providing the empirical, scientific data you promised.

Remember this about science: deduction is useful only for creating hypotheses; the hypotheses must be physically tested, or they cannot have any value as knowledge. Hard data is required, in real science.

And this:
” What I do notice, however, is that both sides are rarely able to find common ground due to the theist’s inability to move past the inherent cognitive dissonance and into the evidence refuting their belief system. The inherent cognitive dissonance I speak of is summed up in the first point I made above.”
Your claim #1 is demonstrably false, so the cognitive dissonance would be on your side, because you have accepted a false premise which you use as the foundational argument. There has been no evidence provided in the form of direct empirical testing of the propositions, despite your claim to adhere to thescientific method. None: zero hard data. So your claim to science as the basis for your belief is false.

Your insults are unbecoming and yet are common to the Atheist dialog:
” You’ve gone from making inconsistent and fallacious claims bereft of all evidence, to ranting. As such, I assumed you were low on batteries, though I fully acknowledge that you could be a diabetic, in which case, please, for the appeasement of the 10,000 gods of the Hindu pantheon, eat some sugar!”

You probably mistake that for wit, the wit of the master you suppose yourself to be. In fact those are merely cheap childish insults, and quite standard for Atheist comments. Yet you, the master, have provided no hard evidence to support your case.

Here’s what evidence would be required to support your case:
1. Data on non-physical entities, showing conclusively that they do not exist. (not possible due to the Popper demarcation principle).
2. Data showing that there is no knowledge outside of empirical science.
3. Data showing that there is a “sociability gene”.
4. Data showing observations of the sociability gene evolving.
5. Data showing that gene to have created ethics.
6. Data showing that there is a moral genetic difference between Western and Eastern populations.

” We have demonstrated above that atheism is an evidence based, logically coherent and rational position to hold.”
You have demonstrated that you do not understand the fallacy of using inductive evidence for philosophical purposes. That alone falsifies your entire set of arguments. And you have not even made a claim of demonstrating logical coherence, so it is legitimate to wonder if you know what that entails. As for logical coherence, your first point above (the basis for the rest of your argument) is in fact not logically coherent. Here’s why:
P1: [if science can provide all knowledge], THEN [science can prove itself true].

This is a statement of Scientism in syllogistic form: it is clearly not the case that science can prove itself true (Godel's second theorem). Therefore your Scientistic claim is internally contradictory, and non-coherent. Being non-coherent, it is not rational. Here's why:
P1: IF [science can provide all knowledge] & [science cannot prove itself true], THEN [the truth value science is not provable or knowable].
Since the consequent contradicts the antecedent (first part) then the idea of Scientism is non-coherent.

So your entire last statement is false. Your argument is not evidence-based, it is not coherent, it is not rational.

You have provided no actual scientific material data except that which you erroneously use as an inductive base, and you have ignored existing contrary evidence; you have provided no case for logical coherence and have failed coherence as demonstrated; you have presented only one premise: scientism as fact (it is not coherent). So your argument cannot be accepted.

Note 1. Popper, Karl; "The Logic of Scientific Discovery", 1935, routledge, p 11-26.

Note 2. Boole, George; "An Investigation Of The Laws Of Thought", 1853, Proposition III, p 34.


Jake Farr-Wharton said...

Hi Stan,

As much as I'd love to respond in kind, you've not prepared a thesis as much as a statement of faith, which I'm simply not able to respond to due to my sincere ineptitude as both an atheist, and a human being.

With that stated, I host a whimsically named show, The ImaginaryFriendsShow.com Podcast, and would be delighted to have you on to discuss your "hypotheses" (hyperbole). All you need is a computer, skype and a microphone/earphone combination.

As I'm sure you've gleaned from both posts, I am an affable sort of lad with a perpetually open mind and mouth.

You can contact me via e mail, imaginaryfriendsshow "at" gmail "dot" com.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,


Stan said...

It's too bad that you view logic as a statement of faith... but not too surprising. What about a Category Error in Atheism is a faith statement? It is not, of course.

I appreciate your invitation, but I do not do real time interviews for the specific reason that logic, disciplined thinking, requires time, rethinking, and editing. None of which are available in real time interviews, and they devolve imo to contests of wit rather than to reason.

But thanks for the offer. I am available for blog debates any ol' time. So I'm a little disappointed in your response. But have a good life.

Anonymous said...

@ Jake

I'm disappointed. It seems like you have whimpered out of the debate instead of actually addressing Stan's points.

If Stan has used hyperbole and relied on faith statements in his post surely you could have easily demonstrated this with a logical refutation - otherwise how else do you challenge those holding irrational beliefs with evidence, reason and rationality?

Jake Farr-Wharton said...

Hi Stan,

I wasn't offering an interview, instead a discussion and an opportunity for you to explain how one goes from atheist to theist. I employee you to visit my website and have a listen to a few of the discussions I've had with other theists and just how menial I am.

The reason I refused to respond to your post is that you didn't address anything I said. You pasted my text, then commenced hyperbole. It was simply not conducive to discussion, let alone debate.

With that said, I'd still love to have you on the show and would find it very disappointing if you didn't. Again, have a listen to a couple of the episodes of the show before you respond.

Stan said...

The charge of hyperbole is an empty charge; I demonstrated the logical error.

The problem here seems to be that you don't wish to address your logical errors. That seems to directly contradict any claims to rational, logical content that your Atheism has. I mean this seriously, not as an insult. Why won't you address this single issue: the logical Category Error which underlies Atheist claims? At least explain why that is hyperbole and not worthy of discussion?

And again, I feel strongly that rational conversation cannot occur properly in real time, it needs time to consider each thought from its several perspectives. At least that is so for me. So I respectfully decline your offer.

Stan said...

Please choose a moniker,

Stan said...

Oh, and Jake,
It's hard to get past your top graphic; that alone indicates a prejudice which is concrete. Yep. I think I will pass.

You and the "Stupid Exposer" at least demonstrate your prejudice right up front. No pretense of thoughtful consideration there.

Grung_e_Gene said...

As a newbie I understand the difficulty in re-arguing the basic points which you believe to be established facts.

Unfortunately the problem with your first assumption is that anyone needs to establish Faith as a pre-requisite for Life;

"Further, there are definite, real consequences attached to declaring a void as the foundational basis for a worldview"

I do not accept this premise because I do not need to start my worldview with whether or not there's a god.

Thus your entire point is irrelevant to my worldview as the question of "god" is that the foundation but a branch off later on which does not support my philosophical belief system.

That you attach such significance to god and make it the basis for you worldview need not mean I have to do the same.

Stan said...

Welcome, and thanks for your comment.

Unfortunately the problem with your first assumption is that anyone needs to establish Faith as a pre-requisite for Life;

I don’t make that assumption; I make the conclusion that life is exceptional to determinist materialism, and that it derives from a different source. That is not Faith, whatever that means. It is a deductive extrapolation of empirical observation with Reductio Ad Absurdum to assist in the conclusion.

”Further, there are definite, real consequences attached to declaring a void as the foundational basis for a worldview"

I do not accept this premise because I do not need to start my worldview with whether or not there's a god.”

Regardless, you start your worldview with a void and then choose the structural components as you see fit. That has consequences.

”Thus your entire point is irrelevant to my worldview as the question of "god" is that the foundation but a branch off later on which does not support my philosophical belief system.”

Your structure is entirely consistent with starting with a void; further, your view of “god” not supporting your worldview is also consistent with starting with a void.

”That you attach such significance to god and make it the basis for you worldview need not mean I have to do the same.”

No one has to do anything; Free Will exists (up to death and taxes). But when an action generates consequences, those realities will impact the course of your life.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Hey Stan, I wrote several comments, so I think this one got put on the wrong post to begin with but I'll continue here as it would be difficult to transition over, keep the flow, and not cause you a hassle while writing new posts!

You actually answered some questions in this post about your view of atheists.

To say I am saddened by your views is an understatement. You're obviously intelligent, well-versed, educated and rhetorically sound so I will continue to read your posts, but I believe me commenting here will not be valuable because you consider me to be an abhorrent monster. Whose philosophical view-points start with a void, and encompass the worst people and atrocities in history.