Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is There Truth and How Could I Know? An Essay

Occasionally I run into Relativists who insist that nothing is constant, the world is in a continual state of flux, and therefore there is no Truth; certainly not absolute truth – nothing is absolute. What was thought to be true 50 years ago now seems quaint and erroneous. Not only is this the case for the progress of science and technology, it is also the case for our culture and its view of values and morality. In fact, nothing in the physical universe is the same, moment to moment, as particles move, are created and destroyed, masses move, and energy is deployed.

This idea of change over truth is so ingrained that it is used as an axiom, a basis for an entire panoply of beliefs. This axiom is a statement of complete variability, randomness and instability. “Whatever we think now will seem quaint and obsolete in the future; we cannot predict what will be 'truth' in the future”. This, then, justifies the idea that there can be no absolutes and that those who claim otherwise are irrational, or at least misguided, at best. At worst they are dangerously deluded, needing to be isolated for the good of all.

The previous two posts deal with rational thought and logic, and the need for a solid, permanent foundation on which to build ones ideas, a foundation known as the First Principles. I have made the case for the absolute need for consistency in order to produce coherence and stability in thought. Because without consistency and coherence there is absolutely no stable logic in our statements: it would all be untethered and irrational.

While there is much of our thought process that is merely functional daily activity oriented thinking, our worldviews are definitely in need of a rational, logical foundation. What could be worse, we might think, than an irrational worldview? Empirical science requires consistency in its axioms, or researchers would be wasting their time taking data in an inconsistent universe. Empirical science also requires that its axioms be valid, at least in the boundaries of the field that is being investigated. So some of the axioms of science incorporate the known variability of the universe, such as entropy, for example. But mostly empirical science depends on the invariability of physical laws across time and space, within our universe.

But not our worldviews; they have become relative and variable, without absolutes and morphing to fit the culture at the moment. If our worldviews are fluctuating, truth-free and value-free, accommodating the momentary convenience and not the eternal decencies, then why bother to have one? This is precisely the issue with Relativism: it engenders intellectual anarchy, which is the definition of irrationality. And intellectual anarchy engenders moral anarchy.

Enlightenment values seem to favor such an anarchy, certainly over the hated absolutism which the Enlightenment pretends to have overthrown. It allows the imagination of a discomfited proletariat where in reality there is no proletariat, much less a discomfited one. It allows the imagination of personal and class and racial superiorities based only on subjective proclivities. It allows the rationalized manufacture of axioms that are convenient, but not true, and the use of those axioms in a worldview. Relativism and its accompanying intellectual anarchy are dangerous.

The idea that there can be logic requires that there be a consistent base of truth available to those who would use that logic in deriving their worldviews. This body of consistent truth is a problem for Relativists, for whom it cannot exist, absolutely: there can be no absolutes in a fluctuating universe. So are there, really, universal, consistent truths?

If there were to be consistent, absolute truths in the universe, how would we know them? For a start, and to make it easy on ourselves, we will question the philosophers, for whom such questions make their careers. I like to go straight to Nietzsche, who denied their truth, thereby revealing their existence, at least intellectually. These principles and others are contained in the previous posting today, here.

We can examine these principles and see immediately that there is nothing there that can be measured, empirically. These principles are not physical, material things; they are metaphysical. So they cannot be validated or invalidated, empirically, using weights and measures or any physical techniques.

Next we can see that they are true, obviously and incorrigibly. They cannot be otherwise, even though they can be denied, obstreperously and without any accompanying validation. But viewed objectively and without prior agenda, they are so intuitively valid that they cannot be reasonably denied. Their truth is incorrigible.

And we can also see that without these intellectual foundations in play as axioms, logic cannot exist as a principled endeavor and rational thought becomes impossible.

So we can know, without material validation, that they are true, inexorably and incorrigibly. And because of this, we can also know that truth exists, that it is non-material (metaphysical) in nature, and that it must be either intuited as are the First Principles, or developed rationally from an intuited base.

Relativists, Materialists and Atheists deny – or at least decry – intuition. Either it doesn’t exist for the Relativist, or it is inherently faulty and subjective. This is in part the Nietzschean argument, which led him to develop Anti-Rationalism. But Anti-Rationalism is once again an absolute-free intellectual anarchy. And if nothing is true, then why bother thinking about anything at all? This produces a self-oriented, declining narcissism, a decay of purpose for being, a devaluation of life and self. (In fact, Nietzsche came to produce a power-based totalitarian philosophy that was needed to overcome the enervation of such intellectual and moral anarchy.)

But Relativists and other Enlightenment fans claim to be rational, not irrational. And they seem to succumb to irrational proofs of their rationality, such as placing the conclusion (agenda) into the premises in order to 'prove' the conclusion/agenda; or rationalizing false or fantasy premises to support a presupposed conclusion. The analysis of Materialist arguments always seems to turn up such fallacious reasoning.

In order to be truly rational and logical, the order must be reversed: it is the process which must be held dear, not the conclusion. The conclusion must roll naturally out of the process, and regardless of one’s opinion of the conclusion, if the process is valid, the premises are valid, and the testing against the First Principles succeeds, then the conclusion – whatever it is – will be valid. If such a conclusion contradicts ones agenda, it is the agenda that must be rejected, not the conclusion.[1]

Further, if there is Truth, if Truth is metaphysical, and if there is support from the process of rationality and the First Principles, then “incorrigibility” follows: it makes no difference what anyone thinks about it, says about it, does about it, it is totally independent in both existence and validity. Non-belief and denial have no effect on incorrigible truth.

Are there other metaphysical truths, incorrigible and independent? If one asks the questions, “Is there a source for this incorrigible truth? And if so what is it?”, a new level of answers becomes apparent. But that is not the subject of this essay.

[1] It is this process that drove me out of my Atheist, Materialist worldview.


Martin said...

" is the process which must be held dear, not the conclusion."

Then riddle me this: Why did I come to the opposite conclusion about reality that you did, by holding the process dear and not the conclusion?

I fought to keep my conclusion (Christianity), clinging to it with fingernails scraping, painfully letting go only after two years of logical reasoning JUST LIKE YOU OUTLINED in this essay.

Stan said...

Kindly outline the premises that led to your conclusion.

Martin said...

- Humans will believe anything if that belief promises immortality and answers to the meaning of life. Witness Heaven's Gate, Scientology, Jonestown, Branch Davidians, Raelians, etc.

- Belief in paranormal phenomena is generally not given up easily, even in the face of contradictory evidence. This was coined "true believer syndrome" by psychic M Lamar Keene, who admitted his exploitation of this ubiquitous behavior to defraud people out of money.

- The particular god a person believes in is generally an accident of geography. A person born in the American South will generally grow up to believe in the Christian God. A person born into an Indian neighborhood will generally believe in the Hindu gods. Each will be 100% certain they are right and the other is wrong.

- Absolute religious truth is relative. For Mormons it is Absolutely, Positively, 100% Truth with a capital "T" that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. Of course, nobody else believes this. For Hindus it is Absolutely, Positively, 100% Truth with a capital "T" that the human soul is reincarnated after death. Of course, nobody else believes this. However, try convincing a follower of one of these religions that they are wrong and see what happens.

- Every believer will defend their holy scriptures as unique in comparison with other holy scriptures. None of these defenses are convincing to a non-member of said religion.

- Christianity has split into tens of thousands of denominations, based upon different interpretations of the eternal, perfect, and absolute Word of God.

- The Bible seems to be easy to use to support any bias. Even if it's the absolute Word of God, then why is it so easy to abuse?

- Ask five different Christians a question on salvation, and you will get five different answers. Contrast this with science: ask five different astronomers what the speed of light is, and you will get the exact same answer down to the decimal point.

- The Bible was written at a time of many such beliefs. Every culture had various mixtures of gods, afterlife, and creation stories. From the point-of-view of a non-believer, it does not stick out as exceptional in comparison with its contemporaries.

- The Gospels were written by believers, not impartial bystanders. They may have had as a goal the conversion of non-believers.

- Jesus is described in the Gospels as having great fame due to his preaching and miracles, yet not a single contemporary historian or writer mentions him, including some who were interested in such phenomena and lived in and around the same area at exactly the same time.

Stan said...

I have taken two liberties with your list of reasons that there is no God.

First I have condensed the statements into their essence, as best I could understand it; you might correct me if I have gotten the essence wrong.

Second, I have added explicitly the conclusion which is implied but not stated, and have turned them into If/therefore statements of Premise/Conclusion. This is to give a more complete statement, one that might be more easily discussed.

Why there is no God.

1. (If/because) Humans will believe anything, the evidence being cultists (Therefore there is no God).

2. (If/because) People are sometimes defrauded by false beliefs (Therefore there is no God).

3. (If/because) Belief is an accident of geography (Therefore there is no God).

4. (If/because) Absolute truth is relative (Therefore there is no God).

5. (If/because) Nonbelievers don’t believe in religious texts (Therefore there is no God).

6. (If/because) Christianity has tens of thousands of denominations (Therefore there is no God).

7. (If/because) The bible is easy to abuse (Therefore there is no God).

8. (If/because) Christians give different reasons for salvation; scientists always give perfect answers (Therefore there is no God).

9. (If/because) There were lots of gods, so the bible is not unique (Therefore there is no God).

10. (If/because) Bible was written by believers (Therefore there is no God).

11. (If/because) No secular contemporary historians or writers mention Jesus (Therefore there is no God).

Before we proceed, let me know if this is an accurate representation of your premises for rejecting the existence of a deity.

Martin said...

No, none of this leads to "there is no God" for me.

The conclusion is this: I have reasonable doubt that Christianity is real.

Stan said...

So your Atheism and Materialism are based on what, exactly?

Your beef seems then to be based on ecclesiasticism, and the charge that it contains human errors?

Martin said...

:) I knew that would throw a wrench in the works, because you love logical proofs and absolute conclusions. You're dealing with a different animal here, my friend! You're in uncharted waters now! :)

I've been trying to tell you that most atheists I know would not identify with the version you are busy criticizing on this blog. Not that it's a strawman per se, but more of a midget in the corner while the giant stands safely on the other side of the room. Very, very few atheists I know arrived at their conclusions based on anything even SIMILAR to what you've outlined in your writings. Most atheists I know would agree more with what I've outlined above.

I'm not sure where you're getting that I'm skeptical because of ecclesiasticism or because of human errors.

I'm skeptical of Christianity for the same reason you are skeptical of Scientology. For the same reason you are skeptical of gremlins. For the same reason you are skeptical of any given UFO video on Youtube. For the same reason you are skeptical when your kid tells you that aliens abducted him on the way home from school and stole his report card and that's why he doesn't have it. For the same reason you are skeptical that John Edward is really talking to dead people on his psychic show.

My Atheism and Materialism are simply the leftover positions after coming to strong doubts about ALL religions. My position is tentative. But in order for you to nudge me away from it, you would have to convince me of Christianity rather than attack Atheism, as that is where the problem lies.

Stan said...

Then you are on the wrong blog aren't you?

So if you don't care about a rational worldview, and you admit that your reasons don't lend to rational analysis (i.e. no rational content), then why are you here?

My intent is to talk with those Materialists who actually think that their views are rational and logical, and there are quite a few of those.

But if you don't care about rationality, as your list indicates, then there is nothing to be done in the way of discussion. Irrational discussion and/or irrational defense of emotional, logic-free premises is not how I want to spend my time.

I have no intent of convincing anyone of Christianity; it can't be done. Christianity is a potful of ecclesiastical human dogmas. Christianity is not what Jesus was all about, he also was against ecclesiasticism.

If you want to fight with dogmatists over ecclesiatical Christianity, that would be someone else's blog, not this one.

I must say it is very interesting that you claim that the Atheists you know aren't Atheists for logical reasons(!) This supports my claim that irrational agendas are more important to some people than is the truth. Very interesting admission...

Martin said...

"...then why are you here?"

Hmmm. Perhaps you're right.

But I think I'm here because you intrigued me with your claim to debunk Atheism without resorting to scripture and other religious arguments. I'm always interested in a fresh perspective, and Christians quoting me the Bible to prove Yahweh is, as you can imagine, very tiring and unconvincing.

Keep in mind when I use the word "Christianity" I don't necessarily mean the Church or ecclesiasticism. I'm just using it as a shortcut to mean: the belief that Yahweh created humans, who then fell into sin, and who now have a chance to save themselves through Christ, and will live forever.

When I say I'm unconvinced of Christianity, I mean I'm unconvinced of the reality of THAT particular worldview, details or dogma aside.

"I must say it is very interesting that you claim that the Atheists you know aren't Atheists for logical reasons(!)."

You and I have different perspectives on the world. Most atheists I know are of the "black swan problem" variety. Every swan we've seen so far is black. Some ancient texts say there are white swans. We have nothing to go on other than these texts. There are several people who are absolutely certain white swans exist based on these texts, even though we only see black swans everywhere we look. Either there were once white swans that are either no longer around, we haven't found any yet, or the ancient people were mistaken.

Seeing as one feature of human behavior is to really, REALLY want white swans to exist, I remain skeptical that these ancient texts are accurate.

I only say that black swans are all there is because that's all we've ever observed. If I'm going to believe there are white swans, I'm going to need more than "ancient people said so," given the aforementioned human bias in wanting white swans to exist.

"This supports my claim that irrational agendas are more important to some people than is the truth. Very interesting admission..."

Not for me. I'm only interested in reality. That's why I like to have my beliefs challenged. :)

But the Atheists of my ilk maintain a negative position, not a positive one. What you're saying is like saying that "skepticism of the existence of gnomes" was arrived at by rational means. ????

Stan said...

Before I let this topic fade away, let’s try one last approach. This will be a standard syllogistic statement of Martin’s Christianity-is-false premises.

Argument 1.
Premise A: If Christianity were true, then people would not be gullible.
Premise B: People are gullible.
Conclusion: Christianity is false.

Argument 2.
Premise A: If Christianity were true, then people would not occasionally be defrauded by false beliefs.
Premise B: People are sometimes defrauded by false beliefs.
Conclusion: Christianity is false.

Argument 3.
Premise A: If Christianity were true, then belief would not be an accident of geography.
Premise B: Belief is an accident of geography.
Conclusion: Christianity is false.

Argument 4.
Premise A: If Christianity were true, then some people would not claim absolute truth for competing religions.
Premise B: Some people would not claim absolute truth for competing religions.
Conclusion: Christianity is false.

Argument 5.
Premise A: If Christianity were true, then non-believers would believe in religious texts.
Premise B: Non-believers do not believe in religious texts.
Conclusion: Christianity is false.

Argument 6.
Premise A: If Christianity were true, then there would not be “tens of thousands” of denominations.
Premise B: There are “tens of thousands” of denominations.
Conclusion: Christianity is false.

I stop here until interest is shown in continuing. In each case, one or both premises is false, usually Premise A. Logically then, each conclusion is also false. Additionally, there is no evidence for support of the conclusion, since Premise A is unprovable and is a presumption, only.

However, as you have shown through the past weeks, you prefer to defer to inference in some cases, authority in other cases: and now rejecting logic as a source for you and your friends. Presumably, since inference is preferable to logic, none of this will interest you. But it interests me because I choose to challenge all my presumptions with actual truthfulness via the methods of logic.

Martin said...

I'll take a closer look later this afternoon and respond, but first a quick question:

Don't you think you are trying to apply pure rationalism in a case where it's inappropriate to do so?

Given a hypothetical universe with the black swans, how would you approach that? How do you use pure rationalism to answer the black swans question? It seems to ME that empiricism is the ONLY way to approach a question like that.

Stan said...

I did it again, posting a comment before checking for your most recent comment. However, in this case, it changes nothing.

I do have a question though. Your black swan metaphor is interesting because it refers to two material objects, one observable, one not yet observed. The problem with rejecting ... what shall we call it, YHWH/salvation(?), requires a rejection of a non-observable, non-material thing, yet a thing you seem to require an observation of.

What sort of observation do you require? Must it be a personal appearance of the deity? Or is there something of inference that you look for but cannot infer?

You have shown no hesitation to engage in inferences of unprovable things in the past. (Probabilities won't do as a reason here, because even the probabilites are inferred).

So what evidence or proof are you in need of?

Stan said...

Empiricism is a subset of rationalism; it is based on the logical principles of induction, deduction and cause and effect, and is counter-checked by the logical principles of coherence. It is the pride of the Enlightenment that rationalism spawned empiricism. (But don’t confuse empiricism with Philosophical Materialism, as I have said before).

As for black swans, you have presented a purely material problem with a material solution, which is ultimately soluble by empiricism which is designed to specifically address material issues. It is intellectually honest to say that only black swans have ever been seen, and no other colors have been reported to date. There is no reason to introduce closed skepticism when open agnosticism would do. Open agnosticism is typical of empiricism, while closed skepticism is typical of defending a position.

But this problem is not the same as declaring material reasons for rejecting non-material existences such as YHWH/salvation. Such a rejection requires a non-material basis (i.e. logical, rational or emotional, irrational). I have found that most rejection is based on an emotional, irrational basis, with the logic either inverted, twisted or non-existent. Black swan/white swan is not an adequate algorithm or analog for dealing with non-material entities, because empiricism voluntarily chooses not to deal with non-materialities.

Some people don’t care about rational vs. irrational, and choose their answers based on what they prefer, not on what is. Since preferences change, so do their answers. Rational answers do not change.

Your preferences seem to run toward rejecting all human institutions categorically, based on the premise that they might be flawed, and caution reigns. This is actually an absolutist position, locking out any truth values that might exist somewhere despite human fallibility. You are entitled to your opinion of course. But if you actively want and choose absolutist irrationality, then you are wasting your time in talking to me.

But I have prattled on without answering your question: how would pure logic address the issue of black swans…

Demonstration of the Induction Fallacy:

Premise A: Every [known, observed swan] is black.
Premise B: Swan X has not been observed until now.
Conclusion 1: Swan X is black. (Not valid; Hume’s statement of the fallacy of induction).

Conclusion 2: Swan X is probably black. (Popper’s justification of induction).

Conclusion 3: Swan X should be properly observed before this conclusion is made. (open agnosticism typical of empiricism).

Conclusion 4: Any observation out of the ordinary is probably tainted by human failures and cannot be believed. (closed skepticism).

Conclusion 5: The observation was made using a long lens at night in a fog and the data consists of a blurred photo of a dot on the horizon of indeterminate coloration much less species identification. (legitimate empirical analysis and critique of the observation’s value based on available data and technique).

The conclusions are multiple because the Premise A is conditional. The logical process is the same though. If the Premise A said that “all swans are black (unconditionally), then only conclusion 1 would be valid; but one must analyze the validity of the premises before jumping to the conclusion, and Premise A would be found not to be valid. So conclusion 1 also would not be valid.

Logic always works except in cases where it is not wanted.

Martin said...

I'm working on putting my logic into formal arguments, but it's taking some time.

Bear with me...

Stan said...

Great! Take your time, I'll still be here. (Actually I will be gone for a week very soon, I have an operation coming up this Wednesday) but I'll be here afterwards.

But I encourage you not to rush this process, think deeply about your reasons, record them, re-think and re-record them, meditate, etc.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Stan said...

I should mention that the process took me well over a year, because I needed to discover the rational process itself, as well as the fundamentals of truth. This is not documented anywhere except in piecemeal, so I had to reconstruct it into a unity (which I put into the ebooks). Probably my best single source was the logic book by Copi, which I had found at a library book auction, kept for years and didn't really ingest until I began my search.

But even Copi seems to gloss over the First Principles, which he doesn't mention until the middle of the book. That is probably necessary for didactic reasons, but not for philosophical worldview reasons.

By the way, you and I are both autodidacts, which means that logic and rationality are very important to us.

Martin said...

Welcome back Stan! How is your recuperation process going?

I was waiting for you to get back into the game before posting anything again, and I'm still not even close to done.

But here's a tidbit.

1. Human beings have a long history of inventing imaginary beings called gods both to explain observed events and phenomena, and to put a face on nature in order to reason with it so control can be achieved/hoped for.
2. As events and phenomena in the world have been explained, and some measure of control over the environment and human life and health has been achieved, belief in most of these gods has evaporated.
3. Yahweh is a god who explains the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and provides hope for control where people do not have it (illness, death, etc).
4. The origins of the universe and life are still unexplained, and illness and death are still with us.
5. Therefore, skepticism of the existence of Yahweh is rationally justified.

Stan said...

Martin, Thanks...I was doing well until I twisted my new knee this week. But I will recover, if slowly.

If you are not done with your analysis, then I suspect you don't expect me to comment on your interim work, is that correct?

Martin said...

No, please do. There are many and they are all less than perfect. The more holes you can pick in them the better. :)

Stan said...

OK, Maybe after dinner or tomorrow, depending on how I feel.

Martin said...

Take your time.

I wanted to give you small pieces for that very reason. :)

Stan said...

Before I turn to your apologetic, let me say this: an objective search first of all accepts the possibility that it winds up analyzing for acceptance or refutation. Here are a couple of examples.

1. “If there were a deity, here is what I would expect”. This assertion is then followed by instances of the deity not living up to my expectations. The failure of this analysis is two-fold:
a. It is unjustly locked into the material spatio-temporal zone that we inhabit (my expectations);

b. It is a category error in that the deity is presumed to be working to human ends, with human attitudes and human limitations. But the deity is not human.

2. “If there were a deity, what could I know about it?” This assertion is objective and if followed without intervening presuppositions, could produce insights.

In order to approach argument #2 without subjective presuppositions it is necessary to overtly accept, temporarily but in advance, the proposition that a non-material reality might exist, and that entities might exist inside that reality that are both active and passive. Then the question can be analyzed to determine what, if anything, can be known about this, how it can be known, and the probability of its actual existence.

A more complete investigation might look something like this:

“If there were a non-material reality, what could I know about it?”

“If there were non-material entities, what could I know about them?”

“If there were sentient non-material entities, what could I know about them?”

“If there were a deity, what could I know about it?”

I would be interested in your approach to answering these questions.

Now for your particular apologetic, items #1 and #2 are not necessary to the argument, and in fact they serve to restrict the scope of reality to physical reality even before the fact: a category error. Plus the presumption of delusion is explicitly stated, a prejudicial error of agenda. If these are allowed to bias the argument, then there effectively is no argument, it is a tautology instead.

Item #2 is not correct, given that the number of believers in the world outstrips non-believers by over 10:1.

The real argument is made starting with item #3, which is incorrect for the following reasons: a) The deity does not give, nor attempt to give, detailed scientific reasons for anything; this is the premise being “disproved” in the conclusion. For example, the creation of the universe in Genesis states that it happened, not the mechanics of how it was made to happen. b) The deity does not provide hope for human control over the hazards of physical existence; hope is provided for a continuity between physical reality and non-physical reality, an entirely different thing.

For these reasons the argument is not linear and won’t convince.

Again an argument should assume that [X] is true, and then provide evidence for and against [X]. The converse does not ever produce coherent results: Assuming [X] is false is a premise that cannot be proved for all time and space: the old inductive failure.

The most common materialist failure in logic is to prebias the premises in order to make the conclusion appear valid: rationalization.

Martin said...

"...items #1 and #2 are not necessary to the argument, and in fact they serve to restrict the scope of reality to physical reality even before the fact: a category error. Plus the presumption of delusion is explicitly stated, a prejudicial error of agenda. If these are allowed to bias the argument, then there effectively is no argument, it is a tautology instead."

Nothing about item 1 or 2 say anything about restricting reality to the physical world.

Item 1 simply states that there is a ubiquitous human behavior: the imagining of gods to explain the unknown (Choc explains where rain comes from, Zeus explains where lightning comes from, Neptune explains events at sea, etc)

"Item #2 is not correct, given that the number of believers in the world outstrips non-believers by over 10:1. "

Item 2 does not make a statement about numbers of unbelievers. It only states that as explanations have been discovered for previously unknowns, the gods once used to explain them have disappeared (belief in Zeus has disappeared).

"The real argument is made starting with item #3, which is incorrect for the following reasons: a) The deity does not give, nor attempt to give, detailed scientific reasons for anything; this is the premise being “disproved” in the conclusion. For example, the creation of the universe in Genesis states that it happened, not the mechanics of how it was made to happen. b) The deity does not provide hope for human control over the hazards of physical existence; hope is provided for a continuity between physical reality and non-physical reality, an entirely different thing."

Belief in Yahweh does not give scientifically detailed explanations, however, it is used as an explanation for things for which we still do not have an explanation for. We now understand lightning and no longer need Zeus to explain it, but we do not have an explanation for where life originated from or where the universe originated from. Yahweh is often used as an explanation for these events.

In addition, where Yahweh may not give immediate control over environment, it does give some measure of hope for greater meaning, a puppet master of sorts, in the face of things which are out of our control: death of a loved one, meaning of life, natural disasters, etc. A face behind the madness.

The point is, as the Greeks were in error in positing a god to explain something they didn't have an explanation for, so too may we be in error in positing a god to explain our current unknowns.

Skepticism of Yahweh is rationally justified.

Stan said...

Your first statement most certainly does prejudice the rest of the argument. It implies that there is no basis other than imagination for belief in a deity. It is a de facto denial of any reality other than material. Essentially it poisons the well.

#2: Can you prove this assertion? You imply that empirical rationality killed these cults. More likely they died due to conquest and conversion to a different belief system. What is your proof that the religions died specifically because science killed them? And again, this is not essential to your argument, it merely prejudices the reader toward materiality: poisoning the well.

Perhaps your argument #3 should be rephrased to your full intent; as stated it is not valid.

The "puppet master" is a non-valid straw man creation of Atheists who do not comprehend Christianity, and who are forced to deny free will in order to prop up their beleif system.

The final statement is a false association; each instance must be judged on its own.

Further, "skepticism" is a maximally weak conclusion to an argument. If you go to the trouble of creating premises to support a conclusion, the conclusion should be either true or not true. "Dunno" is too vaporous to satisfy anyone but a predisposed materialist.

And further yet (if you read my complete response above) the entire argument is in the wrong zone, it should attack the (non)existence of nonmaterial and metaphysical existences. As it is, it is a statement of induction: All previous instances of [X] were false, therefore the one in question is false, because the others were. (Inductive fallacy).

Finally, I do agree that doubt is justified, at least during a search, and including an inductive search.

Skepticism, however, is a hardened, calcified position that is not open to entire fields of reality. So Skepticism is not doubt, it is a consistent denial. The justification for Skepticism (captial S)is merely an unprovable rejection and denial without accompanying empirical support. Skeptics are never skeptical of their own philosophical effluent.

You might legitimately be dubious; but skepticism is rarely legitimate (re: David Hume). The cure for dubiousness is empirical verification of factoids in the material zone, and personal self-investigation of truth in the non-material zone.

For Skeptics, the non-material zone is rejected out-of-hand, and all references to such a zone are labelled as lies or delusions. I was once a Skeptic; now I know better.

Martin said...

Why is induction a fallacy? Induction is what science is all about.

My goal is not to prove Yahweh false. My goal is to show rationally justified skept.... doubt.

All previous cases of X were false, therefore the current case of X is most likely false.

In all previous cases of mornings the sun arose in the east, therefore, the sun will most likely rise in the east tomorrow morning.

Absolute proof? No. Rationally justified? Yes.

Stan said...

Induction is a fallacy if and when it hardens into a dogma. So the philosophical use of induction as a "true" premise is not acceptable.

For example, justifying "doubt" is actually a no-brainer... iff doubt motivates the continuation of an objective search of the area that is doubted[1].

For doubt to be the final objective suggests that it is actually on its way to becoming cant or dogma.

So is it really "doubt" that you wish to justify or is it a rigid position that will not be pursued because the position itself satisfies you?

And if it is a soft concern, this doubt, then what would it take to remove it, given that what you doubt has no physical, material track (and keeping in mind that it is not rational to demand physical verification of nonphysical entities)? In other words, what is next?

[1]"The area being doubted" refers to conducting the search in the proper zone of existence. One would not search for scorpions in the antarctic; one would not expect to find the non-material entity in the material realm.

Martin said...

It's definitely NOT a dogma for ME. I simply doubt the existence of Yahweh because humans have been fooled by their own imaginations before.

It's doubt that I rationally justify, but not as a hardened dogma.

So perhaps you can help me formulate what I'm trying to say, then.

Stan said...

Then one compound question comes to the fore: Are you frequently fooled by your imagination? If so how could you develop a method to discriminate between imagined and real? Do you not feel the urge to do so?

Stan said...

Reality Check:
Here is what I observe. You are coming up with apologetics that are designed to justify one single conclusion: skepticism of the deity.

The same conclusion every time with various attempts at forcing premises to fit in order to support that conclusion, suggests strongly that - despite your claim to the contrary - your intent is to justify your prejudice.

And now you even ask my help to create this rationalized argument.

All this suggests strongly that you have either not read, or at least not internalized, the things that I have written, beyond the refutations of your arguments.

So I feel that you are using me to try to create a bullet proof justification of your presupposition.

Because what you are doing is a violation of both the intent and the procedures of logical analysis, you cannot hope to produce a truly logical argument.

The intent of logic is to determine, without presupposition or prejudice, what the outcome would be if valid premises are placed together in a syllogystic manner. The outcome is purely a function of the premises, and is not preselected for preferential treatment.

The procedures of logic are to verify the premises first, place the premises in the proper format, and then determine what answer that produces.

Because of your approach to this, it indicates strongly that you do, indeed, consider the conclusion more important than the validity of the approach.

A couple of comments back, I suggested an approach; if you wish to pursue that I will discuss it with you. But I won't pursue a rationalization of your favored conclusion. OK?

Martin said...

I am just as guilty of confirmation bias, wishful thinking, apophenia, etc as any other human being.

So while I may not be able to think of any specific incident, I am absolutely susceptible to being fooled by my own imagination and other flaws in perception.

The method I believe best able to tell the difference between reality and perceptual flaws is the scientific method. Rigorous objective testing against reality, multiple times from multiple parties. And the answer is still always provisional due to aforementioned flaws that may not have been weeded out properly.

Stan said...

And now I will produce the syllogism you are looking for, although I doubt you will like it very much:

Premise A:
I am comfortable with rationalizing my prejudice;

Premise B:
Self-delusion is a part of my thought process;

Rationalization and self-delusion are reason enough to doubt just about everything I think up, including the validity of this "syllogism".

Stan said...

Then your view of reality has calcified and anything I write will be ignored since it doesn't correlate with your Philosophical Materialism.

So, I guess we're done here?

Martin said...


Wait. Let me think on this a bit.

Martin said...

Oops. Didn't see your comment above (three up). Must've crisscrossed.

My goal is not necessarily to use you to bullet proof my argument because I want it to be true, but because I want to know reality and if my reasoning is wrong I want to know about it.

So far, you've criticized my logic but haven't really convinced me my conclusion is incorrect.

So, two questions:

a) if you have a compulsive liar of a roommate, and he makes a new claim, would you not doubt his claim? is this not a reasonable conclusion? how is this different from my argument?

b) if you are aware that humans have several perceptual flaws (placebo effect, confirmation bias, communal reinforcement, etc) then what do YOU think is the best way to tell if something is real or not?

Stan said...

It is not my responsibility to disabuse you of your faulty Faith Statement. It is up to you to learn and apply the principles of rational thought and logic for yourself. I have tried to point you to those doors, but you steadfastly adhere to your rationalization process instead. Apparently you think you will ultimately stumble onto a combination of premises to support your Faith Statement which cannot be refuted, and then you will be able to visit other web sites with this magnificent accomplishment.

But this won’t happen except with fallacious logic, because your objective, skepticism, is not empirically measurable, has no inherent mass or energy of its own, has no height, width, or depth, no reflectivity or refractivity, contains no particles, has no temperature because it contains no thermal mass. In short, it is not material.

Yet your materialist Faith Statement demands repeatable empirical tests in order to believe something. So you cannot believe in both skepticism and empiricism without the obvious paradoxical self-refutation: you cannot prove your Faith assertion empirically.

You and other materialists cherish these two articles of faith to the extent that they must be accepted regardless of the cost in rationality loss. That is what makes it Faith: it is belief without the possibility of empirical evidence and despite the obvious paradox. And this is colored by a distaste for religous people that keeps you focused on their faults as "liars", fools who are deluded by their imaginations, a hurdle you can't jump to get to the goal beyond.

I have allowed myself to accept the delusion that you were interested in the precepts of logic and rational thought. But you are not interested in that. You are only interested in justifying your Faith Statement.

So be it. But I am done. Continually addressing rationalization fallacy is a waste of my time. If you want information on critical thought processes, First Principles, rules of syllogistic argumentation, I will address those. But that’s it.

I do hope that you think this through without rationalized prejudice. Ask yourself, how is logic justified, empirically? (I have addressed the limits of empiricism time and again.) So good luck, but that’s it for this thread.

Martin said...

I don't know why you are suddenly cutting this off. I'm asking you genuinely sincere questions. It may be that I don't fully understand the basic philosophy.

I'm open to my "faith statement" being wrong, but I still really want to know how YOU personally deal with the question, "How do you tell the difference between reality and human flawed perception of reality?" if not the scientific method.

Sincerely. I'm really not trying to justify anything.

Martin said...

And a second thought: OK, so you can't empirically prove empiricism.

So what's the alternative? What do you do? How do you examine reality?

Stan said...

Martin said,
So what's the alternative? What do you do? How do you examine reality?

Ok then, we can proceed from this basis, it is an honest question deserving an answer... and I warn you in advance, that it will very likely be massively uncomfortable, and that you will have to provide much of the substance for yourself.

I will address this from my own experience, which is all that I can do. (And I will explain this sentence more fully later, if I remember...)

The first step (and I think that I will defer later steps until I have properly communicated this one) is to declare everything that I think I know to be false until I can properly assess that it is valid, if not rigorously True.

This step is harder than it looks. It requires eliminating long held axioms and precepts and dogma from the "truth" bin in the mind.

But unless I can do this with honesty and completeness, none of the later steps will matter. By asserting "falseness" instead of just "questionable" or "possibly false" I place the onus on a process of validation (unknown at this point) to completely remove any doubt about the validity of the concept in question.

(when I did this, I was not sure that there actually were any later steps, and it took me quite a while to put them together).

We can step through this as time and progress permit.

Let me know what you think, are there concepts that you cannot release if they are false?


Martin said...

If I seem to be dogmatic about something, it's ENTIRELY subconscious.

OK, so I'm starting with everything I think I know to be false until shown to be valid or True.

Stan said...

Alright then. From this point on, the value you receive is directly proportional to your internal intellectual honesty, a quality that I cannot know. So I assume it to be so.

Because this process took so long for me to sort out, it was performed in a massively parallel fashion. By this I mean that because I had no idea how to proceed, I took to educating myself in a big way, reading everything I could get my hands on, voraciously and - of course - in no particularly logical order.

I highly recommend the self-education from ground zero, but I will try to spare you the confusion of being out of order if I can, and the process will proceed in a much more rapid fashion (although not all at once).

Now that you have uniformly rejected the truth value of any and all concepts, the next question becomes, "Is there any metric or mechanism that can be found to discriminate between valid and non-valid concepts, across all possible types of reality?"

Cliff Hanger alert: I will answer this tomorrow if you haven't already figured it out by then. The following question will be: "How can I know that this metric or mechanism is, itself, valid or true?"

To be continued...

Martin said...


Stan said...

If we would have a metric / mechanism for determining validity and truth of our concepts, it must have some powerful characteristics. For example, it must apply to the entire physical universe as well as to our thoughts and mental constructs. To be brief, it must apply universally and without exceptions. Because it is universal, it must also be basic, so basic that it is irreducible to any lesser supporting mechanisms.

It took me an excruciatingly long time to find references to these universal principles; your time will end now, because here they are.

Because these principles are the most elemental of all principles, they are referred to as the First Principles. There are three that are seen to be universal and there are others that are arguable.

Each applies to both physical existence (ontology) and to truth (epistemology). As a preliminary observation, note that physical existence does not include truth.

(I did not make these up)

The First Principles.

1. Principle of Tautology:
If it (an object) exists, then it exists. (ontology)
If it (a concept) is true, then it is true. (epistemology)

2. Principle of Non-Contradiction:
It (an object) cannot both exist and not exist. (ontology)
It (a concept) cannot both be true and not true. (epistemology)

3. Principle of the Excluded Middle:
It (an object) cannot partially exist and partially not exist. (ontology)
It (a concept) cannot partially be true and partially not be true. (epistemology).

The first principle describes a definition, or in some cases circular reasoning.

The second principle is extremely powerful; it describes a method for determining the coherence of a concept. It is used in defining self-referencing paradox fallacies, for instance.

The third principle describes the fallacy of mixed validities and non-validities in a single proposition. It also asserts the “incorrigibility” or complete exclusivity of truth, which is said to be totally free of fallacy. If fallacious statements contain a fragment of truth, those statements are still false.

The Problem:
How do we know these principles are, themselves, true?

The Answer:
These principles are seen to be true intuitively. The test for this is to ask, “What would the universe be like if these principles were NOT valid?"

The activation of this test is left to you to answer.

If you have questions concerning this, please fire away.

Martin said...

But it almost seems like you can just arbitrarily declare certain axioms to be true "intuitively."

Why can't I do the same for empiricism? What if it's intuitive that empiricism is true?

Stan said...

Empiricism is valid. But it has limitations which it voluntarily places upon itself. One can certainly intuit that if the universe is rational, if the universe is consistent over time and space, then empiricism is valid. But empiricism cannot conclusively prove that those "ifs" are 100% true, and since empiricism is about experimentally proving things (not inferring), then one must also intuit a limited scope for empiricism. Those "ifs" are actually axioms of the more questionable type; they are necessary for empiricism but NOT necessary for logic, math, and other rational thought. That means that empiricism cannot be a superset of logic, nor of the First Principles.

Empiricism is a subset of rationality, and rationality is based on axioms, those axioms being the First Principles.

Intuition of universality is not "just seeming like" something is true or valid; intuition of universality is the observation that something is valid without constraint, without limit, an unquestionable, total truth (within our known universe of course).

One of the logical defects of empiricism is that it overall exhibits the "induction fallacy". This is because each experiment is a single instance; many experiments accumulate in the same fashion as induction collections do. According to Popper, each successful experiment does not and cannot produce a "verification"; what a successful experiment produces is a "lack of falsification". Numerous similar successful experiments produce a probabilistic confidence based on numerous "lack of falsification" instances, but never a complete verification. For this reason empiricism cannot ever produce Truth, in the sense of the First Principles. The conclusion is that empiricism can produce valid results within the limitations of its axioms and self-restraints IFF the axioms are valid; empiricism cannot produce categorical, incorrigible truth, ever.

Questions and issues are welcome.

BTW, it is possible to deny the truth value of the First Principles based on the fact that they cannot be empirically proven. This is Nietzsche's approach to his philosophy of Anti-rationalism. However Anti-rationalism is based on the category fallacy that presumes empiricism to be more universal than the First Principles.

Think about that and how it would affect rational thought and logic, not to mention our concept of the universe.

Martin said...

Fine, but I still don't see what the problem is with induction. I agree that science IS lack of falsification as opposed to verification. But why can't something be unfalsified to such a degree that it can be considered de facto Truth, if not actual Truth? Such as the sun rising tomorrow because it always has in the past.

Stan said...

Because "de facto" truth is not incorrigible, and in fact there will be a time when the sun no longer "rises". De facto means probabilistic. At this point we are looking for the difference between probabilistic and certain.

Empiricism does not cover a great many things, and does not provide complete certainty of those things which it does cover. This is the reason that scientism is incomplete as an explanatory tool.

We are asking a different question. We are asking if there are intellectual tools that would infallibly select the incorrigible truth from the probabilistic (if the tools are properly applied).

As a preliminary, we ask if empiricism invariably and infallibly provides differentiation between incorrigible truth, and probabilistic validity.

Another ponderable: empiricism applies only to a portion of the scientific endeavor. Forensics is the other scientific method, which is used for historical and volatile situations. Empiricism has a great many limitations.

And finally there is a difference between "truth" and "validity" for the following reason: an answer might be valid, but only under certain conditions; a truth is always valid (within our universe).

An example from Bertrand Russell, which he used to illustrate this idea:

"The prime minister of Great Britain has a mustache and his last name starts with 'B'".

This statement was and is verifiably valid, for the date at which it was written; For other dates it is verifiable not valid. The idea of validity has boundaries; Truth, being incorrigible, does not have boundaries (again, within our universe).

In a sense, "truth" is "valid" without bondaries or exceptions: it is incorrigibly valid for all conditions of space/time and mass/energy.

I will be posting on the subject of empiricism and truth soon - when I have the time to put it together properly.

Meantime, questions welcome...

Martin said...

OK I'm board to see where it goes, but...

Objection your Honor. You keep distinguishing between empiricism and forensics. From all definitions I know, empiricism simply refers to knowledge gained through data obtained from the real world, as opposed to knowledge gained from intuition, innate knowledge, etc, as in rationalism.

From what I know, forensics falls under empiricism.

Stan said...

Both empiricism and forensics are included in the term "scientific method", which I avoid because it includes squishy definitions like, "science is whatever scientists do", and "science is what a concensus of scientists agree upon".

"empiricism" is also squishy because it includes its antonym in many dictionary definitions. Plus there is a difference between the philosophical use and the scientific use of the term.

I use this one:

(read the "Variations" section too)

I think that most will agree to defining empiricism as experimental, requiring verification. That is what differentiates it from forensic, which is a scientific method that cannot use experimental verification because it is based on found information, not experimental information.

Popper pretty well drove the meaning of empiricism to be constrained to experimental. For example forensics is inductive, simply, followed by inference.

Empiricism (per Popper) is a)inductive preliminaries plus speculation to provide a hypothesis; b)deductive experimental design and implementation; c)data analysis and congruity check against hypothesis; d)repeat.

In the end, empirical tests are inductively repeated, but its data is deductively derived by testing the consequences of the hypothesis.

Do you still have questions about the problem with induction?

Martin said...

I still don't agree with your analysis of forensics.

You can analyze blood samples and DNA left over at a crime scene.

This is information arrived at by, according to the definition you linked to, "observations made using the physical senses or using instruments which extend the senses."

Stan said...

If your issue is not to use the term empiricism, perhaps you have another, generally accepted term differentiating the two methods? But you have not addressed the main issue.

Here is the main issue: the "scientific method" has serious limitations, which I have outlined in the post yesterday.

There I outlined a few of the many differing definitions and why I chose to use one compatible with Popper's definition. Popper claims that a non-falsifiable assertion is not empirical, it is metaphysical. He does not use the term "forensic", he refers to inductive assertions, which includes historical forensics such as paleontology as used by evolutionary theorists. Historical finds and extrapolated stories speculating relationships are not falsifiable. Popper would call them metaphysical, by which he means not experimentally falsifiable.

As for DNA replications, finding the DNA is forensic; it is a discovery of a single instance; experimentally comparing it with other samples is empirical, and the hypothesis (eg. "it is Joe's DNA")is falsifiable experimentally (empirically a la Popper).

If you choose a different nomenclature, go right on ahead, just be consistent with it when you use it.

But it is time to move on to the main issue.

And there also is this: if you are truly interested in pursuing the Truth of any and all assertions, I cannot do that for you - you will need to research this for yourself and pursue whatever Truth values you find or don't find. I'll answer any question the best I am able, but the search is not mine to conduct, it is yours.

For instance, I cannot decide for you whether the scientific method produces Truth or not; but I can and have produced a case for you to examine and maybe use in your own decision.

Sooo, what have you decided?

Martin said...

I don't want to get too far off track, but this needs to be addressed because I believe it is a major sticking point between you and me. Also, it is kinda the core issue I have.

I do not and will never claim that the scientific method produces Truth with a capital "T." All I'm claiming in my original "faith statement" is that a) humans easily fall victim to numerous perceptual errors and that b) the scientific method is a way of emulating a human mind that is much more free of those perceptual errors (although not perfect) and is thus the best method of examining physical (testable) reality.

That's all I'm saying.

IF there is a metaphysical reality that is beyond the ability of science to examine, then my "faith statement" says that the only other option to examine it is to use the human mind, which is prone to aforementioned perceptual errors.

This is probably the core issue for me: humans are prone to perceptual errors.

And if the scientific method has limitations, what else is there?

Maybe I'm jumping the gun.

Please continue...

Stan said...

Mental Constructs
Science can be considered a mental construct: a hypothesis that models a physical existence or behavior is developed into a principle.

The hypothesis construct is tested physically by implementing another mental construct: experimental design.

The results (data) are analyzed with another mental construct: checking for integrity and coherence. Integrity includes a check for falsification; coherence is a check for internal contradiction.

The science procedure is modeled on the process of rational thought, where a hypothesis is presented, a method of testing is developed, the results are analyzed for integrity and coherence.

For abstract concepts that are outside the physical realm, the same standards of integrity and coherence apply. Integrity is determined by the fallacy content; coherence is determined by the First Principles, especially the Principle of Non-Contradiction, but also the Excluded Middle, and Tautology principles.

If a concept is based on faulty premises, it cannot be true.

If a concept is internally contradictory, it is paradoxical: false.

Here is an example. Hypothesis: “the source of all physical laws is physical.”

This is the same structure as Bertrand Russell’s “set of all sets” paradox: If the source is physical, it must have a supervening physical law; that physical law cannot be contained in a subset of physical laws created by the physical source. Therefore, the hypothesis cannot be true.

Another way of stating this:
Premise: The source of all physical laws is physical. Conclusion: All reality is physical.

Because the premise is non-coherent, the conclusion is not proven.

It is not necessary to be concerned about deception in this matter any more than deception in scientific experimental matters. Deception – self deception – occurs primarily when rational testing is not done or not done properly (or is superceded by presuppositions).


Martin said...

All right. I'll got with it.


You were saying something ab out ...First Principles

Stan said...

Go to these pages for information about the First Principles:

Martin said...

OK, where do you go after First Principles?

Stan said...

The First Principles are basic tools for analyzing any proposition. What proposition(s) do you wish to explore? Put it into syllogystic form if you can, or into "cause/effect", or into "if/then", or into "because/then" form.

These are all "evidence/conclusion" statements, where the evidence must be Axiomatically valid and the conclusion must directly follow due to the necessary and sufficient character of the evidence.

I think that most (not all) evidence/conclusion arguments will refer to physical entities, and will provide physical evidence. physical evidence - as we have discussed - has a probabilistic nature due to its use of induction. So the conclusion will be probabilistic (and contingent).

Some if/then statements might be based on abstract evidence, which is also probabilistic.

Or maybe it is a single subject/predicate that purports to be a Truth statement.

If it is a single statement purporting to be a Truth, then examine it for self-contradiction, or contradiction with Axioms of rationality.

These types of statements will be more oriented to abstracts, where physical evidence doesn't exist.

Some of these pretend to be axiomatic: "there is (is not) a maximum prime number" is understood as "it is true that there is (is not) a maximum prime number". It is a statement purporting Truth. It cannot be falsified because there are infinite numbers; it is coherent since it doesn't contradict itself; but it is not self-evident so it cannot be an axiom.

So it might be analyzed like this:
1. There are infinite numbers (no end to them). This is self-evident.

2. There is no known mechanism that would prevent coninued prime numbers, which although becoming increasingly scarce, might well never go to zero at any point. (this is a coherent assertion).

3. We might conclude that it is highly probable that there is no end to prime numbers, in a number system that has no end.

But that particular issue doesn't demand an answer in the same sense that other abstract questions do. What are your questions? Pick one, state it, then analyze it.

Martin said...

OK, then, let's try something back on track with the original subject.

I start with the assumption that all I know or think I know is false until shown to be valid or True.

YHWH/salvation is false.

Now, can you show me, using first principles, a logical argument that YHWH/salvation is True? To the exclusion of Buddha/Nirvana, Xenu/engrams, Allah/jihad, etc?

Stan said...

Challenging me is meaningless. Your intellectual pursuit is up to you. (Kindly rearead this before moving on...)

You appear to be attempting to set up an adversarial situation where you deny that I have "proved" a Truth.

Your actual responsibility is two-fold:
1. Admit that all fact and Truth is probabilistic;
2. See what happens when you apply the rules of coherence and axiomatic rationality to your assertion.

Go ahead and do it. Then we'll talk.

Stan said...

BTW you have misused the concept of denying what you think you know: Here's the valid statement:

I assume that this idea is false: "YHWH etc is false".


I assume that this idea is false: 'YHWH etc is true".

Your error suggests that you have not internalized the goal of this procedure: Deny your presuppositions, your axioms, your worldview, everything and ANYTHING is valid / true until you examine it using proper principles.

Martin said...

OK, I assume YHWH/etc is false is false and I also assume YHWH/etc is true is false.

I still don't know how you would use the rules of logic to examine this one particular belief system.

I'm not trying to be adversarial. I'm trying to understand how one starts with a "blank slate" and ends up with YHWH etc is true.

This is a core issue for me, and the source of my atheism, because the way I see it all religions use the same basic logical arguments to prove themselves.

I want to know the logical strengths of YHWH belief specifically.

Or, at least some guidance in that direction. Even if the search is up to me...

Stan said...

Ok, try the "if/then" approach.

If [X evidence is valid] then YHWH cannot exist.

Then list all the premises [X] that you can think of that would prove that YHWH does not exist.

Then look at each premise individually, extremely carefully to see if it violates any of the First Principles, starting with non-Contradiction: does it contradict itself in any way? (coherence check). Is it part true and part false? Is it a definition or tautology?

Is the evidence necessary and sufficient?

Is the evidence congruent with other similar concepts, or does it contradict them?

What is the probability that the evidence is valid?

And ask whatever other questions you might have that might shed light on the validity of the evidence: is it some kind of informal fallacy? Is it a presupposition in support of an agenda? Is it a false axiom?

It's up to you to define the issues that you feel are pertinent to the discussion. My issues might not matter to you.

You can repeat this process for whatever issue comes up later that needs analyzing.

Stan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stan said...

Take the assertion, "Hinduism is false".

This is not self-contradictory (it is coherent); it does not claim partial truth; it is not a definition. However, it is neither necessary nor sufficient to provide the conclusion that "YHWH does not exist". Further the combined statement is a fallacy: guilt by association.

See how it works?

Martin said...

So help me out here. This really is IT.

As I said before, I'm not convinced Christianity is false; I'm UNconvinced it's true.

Please. I have no intention of trying to prove you wrong.

Tell me how YOU would arrive at it's truth as opposed to any other religion.

Stan said...

Martin, I have told you. I worked this process on each issue of my concern.

Let's recap. You now know that Truth comes not from physical sources, it is discovered through introspection. Truth is universal and pre-exists its discovery by mere mortal man.

You now know the basis for rational thought; you know how to check every premise and assertion for validity; I have given examples of how it is done.

Seriously, it is now up to you to determine your issues with Christianity, to write them out plainly and simply for analysis, and to get on with the analysis.

Your assessment of Truth is purely up to you, I can't make it happen for you. There's really not much else that I can do for you at this point, since it is your mind and its processes that matter now.

Perhaps I can help you clarify issues if you tell me what your issues are. If your issue is how could one be right while the others are not right, then you must fully understand all the bases for each religion and analyze them.

Perhaps you are still assuming that if one thing in a category is wrong, then all things in that category are wrong, without analyzing each one individually. If so, then analyze that assumption, using the rational techniques.

It's really up to you. I can't do it for you.

Martin said...

My issue with Christianity is that so far, no logical argument has convinced me it's true.

I've read a bit of Lewis and a bit of Craig.

Here is one of Craig's arguments:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause

The problem with 1 is: how does he know that? Everything? He's really examined EVERYTHING in the universe? And second, he's already wrong. Heard of vacuum fluctuations? Particles literally pop into existence from nothing.

The problem with 2 is: we don't know enough about the beginning of the universe to make a statement that conclusive. M-Theory says that matter is embedded in large membranes, and when these membranes collide, they cause what we know as the Big Bang. Hoyle's Steady State Theory is still alive and well, albeit not mainstream. There are many theories, and the reason there are so many is that we simply don't have enough data yet to confirm or invalidate any of them conclusively.

And the ultimate problem with this argument is that it can also be used to prove Vishnu, Quetzalcoatl, you name it. I don't see how this leads to Yahweh specifically.

Here's another thing Craig states, although not really an argument:

He uses Martin Luther to distinguish between the ministerial use of reason and the magisterial use of reason. Magisterial reason examines the Gospels critically, whereas ministerial reason submits to the Gospels as true and only examines things in that context.


So first, just accept the Gospels as true, THEN use reason. And a Muslim can say the same thing about the Koran, no?

As for Lewis, I don't find his trilemma to be complete.

1. Jesus claimed to be God
One of the following must be true:
2. He was a liar
3. He was a lunatic
4. He was God
5. If not God, Jesus was either not great or not moral

But what about legend? This is the option I think most likely to be the case. Witness the John Frum cult in the South Pacific. An American soldier during WWII interacted with the natives in Fiji; clearly, he was not divine or miraculous. Yet, within only a few decades a legend has built up around this unnamed man, that he was miraculous, that he will return some day, etc.

Stan said...

Kindly re-read what you have written. Then ask yourself, am I analyzing the basis for my objections or am I throwing them out there as fixed objects of truth?

Here is my impression of your message:
You imprinted on the position that people can be deceived. You are massively fearful that you might be deceived. So you look for arguments that you can debunk by claiming “no proof”, and reinforce your comfort zone of skepticism.

You go so far as to use M-brane theory (unproved and unprovable) as if it were a known entity, to justify not taking a position, lest you be deceived.

But you have not once used the tools we discussed, and you obviously are firmly attached to the fallacy of guilt by association. You are also obviously convinced that you cannot help but be deceived, and have not let that go: you have not nullified your original belief “axioms”.

In fact, your comment is a repetition of your comments of months ago; no progress whatsoever, from my viewpoint.

Debunking theodicies is (frankly) child’s play. That’s why I don’t use them and don’t recommend them. Materialists always demand material proof, as you continually do, and use that to declare them false. So theodicies are useless.

You have only listed one real issue:

Assertion: if Hinduism and Buddhism are deceptions, then you cannot believe anything, because Christianity uses the same logic.

(Declaring that "no argument has convinced you" is not analytical, it is critical, and the easy way out).

a. That assertion is a fallacy of guilt by association, as we have discussed numerous times – NUMEROUS times!
b. You have not listed any logical tenets of any of the religions, nor have you shown that they are all using the same logical tenets; you are canonizing your presuppositions.

Seriously, I can’t help you if you stay in your current mode.

If you had said,

IF: primitive natives believe that John Frumm will return,
THEN: Jesus is a legend,


IF: Hinduism and Buddhism are wrong,
THEN: Christianity is wrong.

We might have something to discuss. But you don’t look at your assertions with any logic, you just throw them out and say, in essence, “there, take that.”

If you can’t analyze your own statements, then what is left?

BTW, particles do not jump out of nowhere, they are created within and from a universal quantum field that is speculated to fill every bit of space within our universe. So the real question is, “what is the source of the universal quantum field?”

You must strip your assertions to their core, and then analyze them. Criticising other's arguments is useless.

I can’t do this for you. If you really want to know something you will pursue it beyond your fear of being deceived (and thus thought “foolish”? – a peer problem? or a self-esteem issue? Why such fear of entering into analytical mode?)

Again, please re-read your comment and try to analyze your statements.

Martin said...

Hey Stan, I wanted to thank you for continuing to talk with me. I appreciate your continual challenges of my viewpoints. It gives me stuff to think about that I might not have gotten elsewhere, especially in forums that just involve preaching to the choir and reconfirming biases.

Let me think about this for a bit, and I'll get back to you...


Stan said...

"Let me think about this for a bit, and I'll get back to you..."

Perfect! Just what I wanted to hear...

Martin said...

Question: What do you mean by "theodicy?" I thought a theodicy deals with the Problem of Evil. I don't understand how this applies to my arguments.

Also, if I'm supposed to remove all my biases and prejudices, and not analyze other people's arguments, then where do I start? How do I go from blank slate to arguments about specific religions?

Martin said...

Just thought of another question.

Earlier, you said "declare everything that I think I know to be false until I can properly assess that it is valid, if not rigorously True."

So I then said that Christianity is false, and looked at some arguments that attempt to show that it is True. I said why these arguments do not work.

I don't understand how what I did there was wrong.

Stan said...

A theodicy is a rationalized "proof" of the existence of a deity. The claim is that the logic is inescapable.

You do not have a blank slate. You still have all the information you had before, but you now have removed all judgments that you passed on that information. (I hope).

So now you are in a position to form logical judgments on that information that are congruent with rational principles.

Martin, you present me with a conundrum. I am feeding you step by step with a process that took me over a year to discover on my own. Actually it didn't fully form for probably three years.

During that time I educated myself by reading as many authors of general philosophy, logic, materialism, philosophy of science, historical relationships of philosophies, etc., etc. as I could identify.

I am now thinking that without that sort of education, maybe the process doesn't incubate well. For example, your idea that you have a blank slate indicates that you have not read Locke, a read that I think is essential, along with many, many others. Another example: it is difficult to understand cause and effect, and induction without having read both Hume and Popper (and Russell for that matter). And please, please don't get this info off the internet; read the first-hand words of the authors.

There are very, very many pieces to this puzzle, and I'm not sure that I can give you a process that works, when you don't have enough of the pieces.

I actually can't know the answer to this conundrum, because I can't know how extensive your knowledge base is. But I have fed you the process, you have the knowledge to work the process against, you just need to do it. (If you don't have the knowledge, certainly you can get it).

So ask a question and then analyze all the possible answers to it:

Example Question: "Is there a creating being?"

Possible answers, to be analyzed:
a) No, there is no concrete physical evidence.
b) Very likely, because there is a rational set of laws for the performance of inanimate mass/energy.
c) I cannot know so I give up.
d) Very likely, because the Big Bang resembles the quantum equation collapse of Schroedinger's equation when observed by intelligent beings, turning a probability function into mass/energy reality (Stephen Hawking).
e) Find your own reasons, and analyze them.

I don't know what else to do at this point. I can recommend a reading program, but you really should develop that on your own.

Martin said...

You may be right.

Remember how I said it seemed like we were speaking two languages, and you thought that was because I'm a materialist? I think it's because you are well-versed in formal, technical philosophy and I am not.

This doesn't, however, necessarily mean that my reasoning is flawed.

Regardless, let me continue to think about it for awhile...

Stan said...

It doesn't mean that you cannot work the process successfully by any means. What I think it means is that you have some research to do when questioning your own premises and axioms. Just develop objective methodology, meaning question your methods every time as well as the premises and their connection to whatever conclusion they force out. Along the way you will develop your own feeling for "rational acceptability" and "rational deniability", based on your research of the premises.

Martin said...

Whew! 74 comments already on this thread?! It all goes so fast...

This is a tangent I wanted to get your analysis on, as it's an argument I've been using:

1. The universe shows order (laws of nature, mathematics, logic, etc)
2. This order is evidence of a supreme being.
3. Young Earth Creationists say this order is broken on occasion (woman being formed out of a rib, animals popping into existence from nothing fully formed, etc)
4. 3 contradicts 1 (so, according to the creationists, the universe is NOT orderly).
5. Therefore, YEC is self contradictory.

Does that work?

Stan said...

That will convince only predisposed materialists, who will insist that instances of singularities - violations of supposedly inviolable "laws" - are material in nature and cannot be otherwise. I'm not a YEC and I don't know exactly what they propose, but your argument seems to be just another way of stating that everything must be material, including all causes for all effects - a premise that is clearly not the case for the initial Big Bang, and is not necessarily the case for other singularities.

Martin said...

But what I'm saying is that some YECs use the consistency of material laws as proof of God, but then postulate the breaking of those material laws, hence contradicting their original proposal.

- The universe shows order in the consistency of it's material laws, therefore God exists.

- The material laws are broken from time to time.

So to YECs: are there orderly material laws or not?

Stan said...

Software is written based on fixed rules; Yet its creator can make changes that are either temporary or permanent.

A YEC undoubtedly believes in a creator; And probably believes that a creator can make temporary or permanent changes to his creation.

You are too bound up in literal materialism to understand the full impact of the existence of a creator.

But go ahead and make your argument to your YECs; you are playing cowboys and indians rather than engaging in self-education. I must say that I'm rather disappointed.

Martin said...

I'm just thinking out loud. Allow me that.

OK, another question, related but centered back on my own search:

Why must God break the laws of nature? Can't you say that God exists but he never reaches in to break the laws?

Stan said...

"Can't you say that God exists but he never reaches in to break the laws?"

What is your evidence to support this assertion? You are trying to assert the truth of a negative, a logical fallacy.

"Why must God break the laws of nature?"

I think you probably didn't mean this exactly the way it sounds to me... care to try again?

Martin said...

I'm not making the argumnet. I'm just asking about the premise.

I'm not sure how to formalize it.

1. Broken laws of nature is evidence of God.
2. The laws of nature are occasionally broken.
3. Therefore, God exists.

Why #1?

Stan said...

OK, separate the elements and analyzed them fully.

1. Broken Laws of Nature. It is fully possible that the “broken law” is really just an indication that the law has not been fully understood, and has unexplored interactions in its list of causes. In other words, the incident is really just an example of an outlying case of natural interactions, yet to be explained.

2. Broken Law of Nature. It is possible that a law of nature is truly rescinded for a short period of time; after all black holes contain kernels that do not conform to the natural reality of the rest of the universe. This could conceivably be a natural phenomenon.

3. Broken Law of Nature. It is possible that the law of nature is rescinded in a manner that demands to be coupled to a human outcome. An example would be parting the Red Sea long enough to save the Israelites yet closing in over the Egyptian army. The demand for coupling to an outcome is purely intuitive, yet is compelling.

However, broken laws of nature are rarely if ever observed in a fashion that can extend beyond an ancillary intuition of possible fantasy or fable, at least by non-observers trying to retro-analyze the situation.

1. Evidence. This word probably should not be used in this context, because it generally implies material substance that continues to exist, which can be used in verifying an assertion. This never happens in these events, at least not to the point of being compelling to a materialist viewpoint.

A more correct term would be “intuition”, which is at the bottom of all evidentiary presentations, including material evidence.

An observer who sees a modern Israeli army drive through a parted Dead Sea, which then closes on top of a pursuing Iranian army, might be compelled to interpret the event as extranatural intervention, attached to human activity. But materialists / skeptics would not be convinced and would “investigate” for the rest of their lives.

So I don’t think that your original statement works because it is too general and doesn’t account for all the issues. Try this one:

1. Broken laws of nature that attach irrevocably to human affairs provide intuitions of extra-natural influence.
2. Such events occur.
3. Therefore, an extra-natural influence exists.

In this theodicy the weak element is #2, because materialists dispute that such events occur, and demand – anti-rationally – that material evidence be provided for verification.

This demonstrates the reason that I do not engage in theodicies, as I have said before. At the very end of the logic is an inference, based on personal intuition, every time. Intuition doesn’t produce valid outcomes if it is preempted by personal worldview biases. And personal intuition must be practiced and honed, and that means that the outcome is not the same for any two individuals. Thus the theodicy logic ends in a mudhole, not on stable ground.

One person’s intuition cannot be mapped onto another person’s thought process. But intuitions tend to be asymptotic as they mature, in use, in experience, and in objectivity.

Martin said...

More questions:

"...demand – anti-rationally – that material evidence be provided for verification."

So how would you go about knowing whether singularities actually occurred, or whether they are myth, legend, or hallucination?

Stan said...

You have to use the same objective intuition and discernment/judgment that you use to determine the truth-value of any other non-material proposition.

I am not an expert on miracles but the ones of which I am aware are not purported to have occurred specifically for the purpose of convicting anyone of anything. For that reason, using miracles as proof of something is a non-starter, because denial of both the occurrence and the meaning of the occurrence are inevitable and are just as credible to materialist agendas.

Proper discernment can take place only in an environment of complete objectivity, and even then it is very probabilistic to consider a reported singularity/miracle to have occurred, much less to have meaning. That’s the reason that I do not personally pursue the subject.

However, if one accepts that the universe was created by a being with power and intelligence of immense magnitudes, then there is no logical tension in the secondary concept of that being modifying his invention, even briefly, for whatever reason he might have had.

As for a proof or disproof of the existence of a creating deity, I think the subject of miracles is of little use, except as a weapon against “credulousness” wielded by materialists from a non-objective agenda.

What is far more difficult for materialists is the concept of personal contact with a non-physical being. This is not a singularity because it does not interfere in any way with existing laws of known physical interaction. It is a consistent phenomenon, as opposed to temporary event. And it is just as viable as the intuition of non-material truth, and the inference of meaning. That’s the reason that entire cadres of philosophers from Nietzsche on have denied the existence of truth: it allows the denial of a god and the elevation of themselves to elitehood. The existence of a deity naturally and logically humbles the importance of the individual by comparison.