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« Apologetics Aren't Enough to Connect You with a Person | Main | He'll Do Something He Would Not Have Done »

February 21, 2013

Comments

An agnostic is one who says they don't know. An atheist is one who says they do know and the answer is "no". Big difference, I think, both in terms of who each is and the claims they are making.

As I stated, no one knows anything with absolute certainty. The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain. So to say that one "knows" whether a God exists or not is false, and anyone who claims they know is deceiving himself.

It comes down to how you define "know" I suppose. Nothing is 100% certain; the universe has uncertainty built into its' fabric, but I can state I'm 99%+ certain that God does not exist. He violates every law that governs the universe. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

I consider myself an atheist but I do not "know" that God does not exist. The likelihood of a God is extremely minute given that the evidence of such a being is non-existant.

I suppose Bertrand Russell would disagree with me. It is possible, but extremely unlikely, that a china teacup is in orbit between the Earth and Mars. I am as certain that there is not such a teacup as that there is no God, but there is a non-zero chance that I am wrong. Truthfully, it's not something I worry about anymore. I am who I am and if God exists, he made me this way. Why should I fight it? Rather, I embrace what I can discern and know what is most likely to be true. I live according to Christian principles of morality but reject the idea of the supernatural giver of morality.

Darth Dutch,

I don't need to explain 'out of nothing (no thing)' and neither do you because there's no evidence for it.

That covers 'origins'.

RonH

In other words, 'out of nothing' is said in 2 circumstances.

1) To fit Christianity and not fit a strawman of atheism.
2) For no reason - just repeating it.


AJG wrote: "What, that there is something rather than nothing, and therefore, a first mover is required?"

Yes.

"That's nonsense".

I don't think "nonsense" means what you think it means. It's actually the most logical conclusion. When I see a painting, I assume a painter was involved even though I didn't witness the actual act of painting. I observe creation, therefore the logical conclusion is that there is a creator.

"Just because you want to define God the way the Bible does - as the great I AM who has always been and always will be - doesn't make it true or even a good argument."

I didn't make that claim, yet you've set that straw-man on fire a few times in this thread. I referred you to Louis' previous response which was a very clear summary of the cosmological argument....which you won't engage for some reason.

And since we're getting to know each other, actually, when left to my own devices, I tend to make God into someone more like me, with my personality traits, likes and dislikes - that's my natural bend. Perhaps you struggle with the same problem. If we're going to critique Christianity we have to critique what it actually claims. Can we agree on that point?

" Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

You've mentioned that a few times now, so it must be important to you. What do you mean by extraordinary evidence? You want God to appear to you physically and do circus tricks? Do you want a video tape of the resurrection? Please give me an example.

I happen to think that YOU are the best evidence for God. Explain persons and personality from a naturalistic point of view and you win.


AJG wrote: "To me, faith is better described as hope. Hope that in the end there's someone who will put things to right."

What if the "turn or burn" form of Christianity you've rejected is only part of the picture? What if the God of the Bible actually makes things right, right now? Not when you die, but right now. Between you and Him. Yes He'll be there to take care of you when you die, but what about the rest of your life here on planet earth? Why do you want to reject a relationship with the most loving, giving, funny, joyful, interesting Person in the Universe? Especially when He's made the first move.


"Darth Dutch,

I don't need to explain 'out of nothing (no thing)' and neither do you because there's no evidence for it.

That covers 'origins'.

RonH"

RonH, are you saying that there is no evidence that the universe came into existence out of nothing? I couldn't tell from your post above what exactly you were referring to.

Darth Dutch

Yes Darth,

What does evidence for nothing look like?

RonH

John Willis

"You are arguing against the Mormon view of God, not the Christian view. Does this make sense?"

This is exactly what I find so annoying. Someone offers a definition that has nothing to do with the god of Christianity and then insist on imposing it on Christianity only because they actually posses a large body of knowledge, but no understanding of what they know. A bit of info from here and a bit of info from there and since it all can fall under one particular category, in this case religion, it then must be all just components of the same soup, when in fact some of it is poison that doesn't belong in soup. Just because someone was foolish enough to put poison in the soup doesn't make it nourishing and life sustaining. This is what I mean by actually, not only knowing something, but actually have an understanding of what you know.

Of course you are absolutely right that the better fit of the described god is one of Mormonism.

This is exactly what I find so annoying. Someone offers a definition that has nothing to do with the god of Christianity and then insist on imposing it on Christianity only because they actually posses a large body of knowledge, but no understanding of what they know.

I understand exactly what I know. You wish to set the ground rules of the discussion by claiming that god did not need a creator but that the universe did. Fine. I acknowledge that is the picture of the Christian god. There is simply no good reason to believe it is true because we cannot detect the Christian god.

We can gaze in wonder at the heavens and imagine a being powerful enough to have placed them there, but that is imagination not reality. Perhaps it is true, but there is no compelling reason to believe it is true. It requires a leap of faith. We can look at an ameoba under a microscope and recognize that it is beyond our capability to produce a machine that can do what an ameoba can do, but that still does not necessitate that there is a bigger and better version of us who did. I admit that there is an innate desire to conceive of such a being, but that still does not make it correct.

And even if it was correct that there was a being who did all this, there is no reason to believe that he is not just a finite but more powerful version of ourselves who exists in his own universe that was created by a more powerful version of himself, and so on...

You have to stop somewhere. The most logical place to stop is what we can detect with our senses. When we move beyond that, we are speculating. The universe is what we can detect and nothing more so it makes the most sense to stop there. At least it does to me.

@ AJG -

"As I stated, no one knows anything with absolute certainty."

And yet you state this and seem to know it with absolute certainty.

"I consider myself an atheist but I do not "know" that God does not exist."

Then you're not an atheist in the sense that I understand the meaning of that word. An atheist is someone who claims they know God does not exist.


"The likelihood of a God is extremely minute given that the evidence of such a being is non-existant."

Nonsense. This site (as well as so many others!) is chock full of evidences for God's existence, and thoughtful discussion of those evidences.

"As I stated, no one knows anything with absolute certainty."

And yet you state this and seem to know it with absolute certainty.

Epistemic paradox aside, uncertainty is a fundamental property of the universe and you are a product of the universe.

I am as certain of this statement as I can be certain of anything.

"I consider myself an atheist but I do not "know" that God does not exist."

Then you're not an atheist in the sense that I understand the meaning of that word. An atheist is someone who claims they know God does not exist.

Then you do not understand atheism. Any honest atheist will say he would change his mind should God meet the burden of proof required to accept his existence. We're still waiting, though.

"The likelihood of a God is extremely minute given that the evidence of such a being is non-existant."

Nonsense. This site (as well as so many others!) is chock full of evidences for God's existence, and thoughtful discussion of those evidences.

Name one.

AJG-

So, you might be wrong, and some people might know some things with absolute certainty.

And, of course, some people do know some things with absolute certainty. I, for example, am absolutely certain that the law of identity is true...everything is what it is and not something else.

Might I add how charming it is to see a nominal empiricist claiming to know with the highest degree of certainty (though presumably not absolute certainty) something about the entire universe for all time.

Hume is rolling over in his grave so fast we could use him to excavate tunnels.

"Might I add how charming it is to see a nominal empiricist claiming to know with the highest degree of certainty (though presumably not absolute certainty) something about the entire universe for all time.

Yeah WL, I would hope AJG might take a minute and actually reason through some of his beliefs to see that they are not sound. His question begging to support/argue for his naturalist dogma would be a good place to start.

John and Louis have tried to get a reasoned response from AJG, it looks unlikely that he's even able to argue logically, even if willing since he's responding by slaying strawmen and offering unfounded/unsupported assertions.

AJG says:

"I live according to Christian principles of morality but reject the idea of the supernatural giver of morality."

Huh? The foremost Christian moral requirement is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength". Are you sure that you've understood Christianity? I doesn't seem possible to botch a description of so many different things Christian, and then/also say that you have understood.

AJG

" The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain."

I hope your affinity for being mistaken is just a hobby and not a vocation with a lifelong commitment. :)
Death, at least, is a certainty and we can debate the issue of taxes, if you like. ;)

WisdomLover

"Hume is rolling over in his grave so fast we could use him to excavate tunnels."

ROTFL

As for the rest of your note, point well taken! :)

I think this thread has drifted from the topic.
Maybe not.
I really think it's acquired an unpleasant tone.
Can we drop that?

I, for example, am absolutely certain that the law of identity is true...everything is what it is and not something else.

What kind of thing is the LOI, WL?
Describe what you think it is.
Listing other things in its class, would be interesting but, depending on what you list, might not be very informative.

RonH

@ AJG -

"Epistemic paradox aside, uncertainty is a fundamental property of the universe and you are a product of the universe."

Why should it be put aside? You say no one can know anything with certainty. You say and claim you know this with certainty. Now you tell me just to ignore this glaring problem?

"I am as certain of this statement as I can be certain of anything."

See? Now you're back to being certain. Pick a view and stick to it!

"Then you do not understand atheism."

I sure do. An atheist's claim is that God does not exist. Why not call yourself agnostic, then, if you're not sure?

"Any honest atheist will say he would change his mind should God meet the burden of proof required to accept his existence. We're still waiting, though."

There are plenty of evidences that make for a strong case for the claims of Christ and the Bible. If you'd read through this site or listened to any of Greg's broadcast, you'd have heard plenty of them.


"Name one."

Why? So you can ignore it and ask for another, then ignore that and ask for another and so on?

In an earlier comment on this thread you said:

"I'm a former evangelical who knows all the arguments for God."

So you know the arguments and evidences, but have chosen to reject them.

What I won't do is play games with someone who will just ignore everything I say, because their mind is already made up that God does not exist, no matter what anyone says or what evidences are offered. You've pretty much stated that's what you will do if I offer some evidence.

If you are sincerely seeking, then again, this site has tons of information. I wish you well.

The one:

Then you do not understand atheism.

The other:

I sure do. An atheist's claim is that God does not exist.

Here is a good example of a waste of time.
Words have multiple usages. Get over it guys.

"Here is a good example of a waste of time. Words have multiple usages. Get over it guys."

But I dont see AJG trying to define where different meanings are implied, and it a way he seems free to adjust meaning to evade having to deal with legitimate challenges.

I suspect your question to WL is going to go the way it did a year or so ago when you asked me a similar question. If you reject the logical necessity required by the law of identity and it's companion the law of non contradiction, you only have skepticism left.

RonH

"I really think it's acquired an unpleasant tone."

The truth can sometimes be unpleasant, not just inconvenient. That's why we have such things as tough love.

Louis,

Agreed!

Brad B,

I was talking to AJG and WL: the one and the other. If arguing about the meaning of a word is a waste of time, then arguing about arguing about the meaning of words is also.

Brad B,

you only have skepticism left
Skepticism as opposed to what?

I do see a kind of necessity for identity.

There are 3 kinds of case:

Ron = Ron
Ron = Sue
Ron = Sue's husband

In order, they are trivial, false, and useful.

If we had but one name for each object we'd be only able to say trivial or false things with '='.

Since we have more than one name for some things, identity is necessary to logic.

I don't see how this kind of necessity supports TAG.

RonH

Ron-

You ask: "What kind of thing is the LOI?"

The Law of Identity is a proposition. It is a proposition that I, and many others, know to be true with absolute certainty.

It is unlike some other propositions, like: "The moon is 10% aluminium"

I do not know that that proposition is true, I do not know that it is false. (I do, of course, know that it is one or the other.)

Why is this hard?

Isn't it clear that those who insist on universal uncertainty are simply wrong? The law of identity is one of infinitely many possible counter-examples to the assumption of universal uncertainty. Only someone in the grips of some dogma or other could find universal uncertainty remotely tempting.

Your point about "Ron=Ron" being trivial completely misses the point. It is trivial because it follows logically from a logical truth. OK, so what? Does that mean that I'm somehow not certain of it? Or what?

BTW...who mentioned the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG)? I'm not trying to advance any form of the TAG. I'm just concerned that we agree upon true starting points for our arguments. I'm also concerned that we not be snowed by pseudo-scientific atheist bromides like "uncertainty is a fundamental property of the universe".

A proposition. OK.

Elsewhere then, I assume there is a definition of equality - independent of the LOI - that tells us what this proposition means.

Maybe you can point me to that. Otherwise, I think it looks like a definition.

It (Ron=Ron) is trivial because it tells you nothing. The thing pointed to by the name Ron is obviously the thing pointed to by the name Ron. The '=' is not doing anything.

When someone brings up LOI, TAG is lurking somewhere (as it is here) because the use of identity in logic (as I described) has no apologetic value.

Ron-

Believe me when I tell you that the TAG is not part of my apologetic repertoire.

Maybe the LOI is a definition. I don't know. What's the impact if it is? Are definitions not propositions?

I mean, "F=ma" is a definition. It's also a proposition. It's also a true identity claim. BTW, I don't think "Ron=Ron" tells me nothing. If it told me nothing, it could not be true. But it is.

Hi RonH, I dont think that the employment of logic is possible without LOI,LNC,and LEM[law of excluded middle], working together. In other words, these components are so self evident that they are assumed by even those who are apt to consider their prior commitments. I'm really not sure why it seems that you have consternation regarding LOI, even to the point of challenging it--which is self defeating since any attempt to communicate without LOI,LNC,and LEM makes meaningful communication quite impossible.

By that I mean to say avlmet bncav, tiyowy bptyurstu lmlpikj is comparably as meaningful as anything you've written so far if you dont necessarily employ the very thing you seem uncertain of.

John Willis

"I referred you to Louis' previous response which was a very clear summary of the cosmological argument....which you won't engage for some reason."

The cosmological argument has been debunked many times. If you want it deconstructed again I'll gladly do so.

"You've mentioned that a few times now, so it must be important to you. What do you mean by extraordinary evidence? You want God to appear to you physically and do circus tricks? Do you want a video tape of the resurrection? Please give me an example."

This is a classic bait and switch. It's up to the proposer of the theory to provide the evidence, not those evaluating to say is necessary or sufficient.

Back to the vapid nature of this thread. The fact of that matter, Melinda, is that the notion of God is just like a theory. Its a way of explaining things - the example of the origin of the universe has already come up. I dont buy the evidence you are peddling. Therefore I lack belief. Therefore I am an atheist. THATS IT. Its not that I reject God or make ANY claim about God. I dont have to. The only debate is about the quality of your evidence.

Brad B,

I gave a use of identity in logic: you need it to handle cases where you have two or more names for one thing.

That's the use of identity in logic as far as I know.

Don't take this from me; look it up (in a logic book).

If you do find something else (in a logic book), then please let me know.

Imagine a world where each thing had only one name. Then show what the concept of identity is needed for (in logic).

RonH

I'm going to crib Alvin Plantinga.

I hereby name everything Charley. All other names are declared invalid.

There is now never a case where there are two names for one thing.

Identity is still quite a useful concept, even if there were no names for anything. That's because identity can be used in formulae containing only bound variables. And not names.

Russell, for example, thought that the way you'd say that The morning star is a planet is not by treating the phrase "the morning star" as a name, but by saying "There is a thing, x, such that (for all y, y is a morning star if and only if x=y) and x is a planet". Notice that in this formula, x and y are not names, but variables bound by the quantifiers "There is a" and "for all". Yet x and y are used in an identity claim that is embedded in the overall formula.

"The cosmological argument has been debunked many times"

No doubt with the canard "Who caused God."

(As if Thomas himself did not anticipate this objection prior to even presenting his famous five ways.)

WL,

Thank you.

'=' flanked by two different singular terms tells you that the two singular terms are different names for the same thing.

'=' flanked by bound variables tells you that the that the variables refer to the same thing.

Those are the two uses of identity in logic as far as I know.

But, as you point out, logic doesn't need the first one.

Names can be eliminated from logic - and from speech if you have time. :)

So, I'm back where I started - with, as far as I know - one use of identity in logic.

You need identity to handle cases where you have two or more variables that refer to the same thing.

If you think of identity as being added to the formal language already containing negation, conjunction, and alternation, the new system is also able make statements without mixing in natural language.

Without identity, the language can form 'schemata' - which are true/false about things - but not true/false in themselves.

So, I'll count that as a second function of identity in logic: I'm back up to two.

In logic, 'A=A' is still trivially true of everything.

Neither of these functions of identity in logic is spooky in any way - neither is support for TAG.

(I accept TAG is not for you. I think, nevertheless you want something spooky to be true about logic. Right?)

Don't take 'spooky' to be negative. I'm tired and I don't know how else to say it.

Maybe: identity in logic is perfectly compatible with materialism.

I'm not defending materialism; I'm just objecting to certain arguments against it.

RonH

WL,

Since Thomas, we've been taught this lesson repeatedly: When you look outside, you learn truths you thought impossible thinking in your armchair.

Actually, Thomas should have known this too.

RonH

"But, as you point out, logic doesn't need the first one."

I'm not sure I pointed out anything of the kind. My naming everything Charley was meant to show that the problem is not solved if everything has only one name. If my name is "Charley" and your name is "Charley" and Brad's name is "Charley", the sentence "Charley=Charley" is false in six ways and true in three. We're left like that ridiculous species from South Park that only has one word: "Marklar".

What you need to 'eliminate' one use of identity is that everything have a unique and distinct name.

But this is actually a logical impossibility. That is because there are only countably many names available (i.e. the set of names can be put in 1-1 correspondence with the set of counting numbers), but the number of things that need naming is uncountably infinite.

As for logic and materialism, you are shifting the goalposts.

The issue was not whether the LOI or any other proposition is compatible with materialism. The issue was whether there is any proposition you can be absolutely certain is true. The LOI, whether trivial or not, whether definitional or not, is such a proposition. And that is the end of that debate.

And the fact that it is shows that claims like "uncertainty is a fundamental aspect of the universe" are just made up slogans.

Now, to be sure, there are a lot of things we are not certain about...no one denies that. But the made-up slogan above, advanced initially, I think, by AJG, says quite a bit more than that and is an epic falsehood.

Nevertheless when stated with an air of (hilariously ironic) certitude the made-up slogan tends to snow the interlocutor. We're all supposed to start bobbing our heads and mouthing the words "this isn't the certainty we were looking for" as if Obi-Wan Kenobi had Force-fed them to us.

Now, I think that, even if we were to accept the made-up slogan, there's another fallacy lurking in arguments like AJG's. I think we're also supposed to assume that religious claims are all claims of absolute certainty, and therefore unreasonable by the made-up slogan. But, the argument proceeds, the claims of science are all reasonable because all scientific claims are provisional and blah, blah, blah so that they square with the made up slogan.

Of course, there is no reason at all to suppose that religious claims are different from scientific claims in this way (or any way). Many religious claims are, in fact, claims we are not 100% certain of. If there were no such claims, we would never have doubts about our religion. But doubt is a common phenomenon in Christian life (and, I imagine, in other religious lives).

"I gave a use of identity in logic: you need it to handle cases where you have two or more names for one thing."

Hi RonH, I wonder if I am understanding you, if I am, and you are stating your position accurately, I dont think you understand LOI.

I have not formally studied formal logic, so I certainly could be misunderstanding LOI but I dont think so. In an attempt to comply with your request to answer from a "logic book", I have a few quotes...ones that seem to me to be quite compatible with WL's comments.

Here's a quote regarding Aristotle's view.

"Aristotle highlights "the fact that a thing is itself" because the objective of his inquiry at that point in the Metaphysics concerns "substance" and to provide answers to the question "what kind of thing substance should be said to be", given that "substance is a principle and a cause" of being. He further argues that while it is true that the question, "why a thing is itself" is meaningless, "the fact that a thing is itself" has meaning because we can then restate the why question to inquire "why something is predictable of something" given that each something is itself unique. For Aristotle, "substance is actuality" and it is the actual "thing that is itself" something that proceeds another such something in time."


Fitting that Aristotle links identity with substance, or essence and that in his view, LOI is more precise than your stated version. I could but wont comment more on this quote but will if needed.

Here's a second from A=A,Aristotle's Law of Identity

"Everything that exists has a specific nature. Each entity exists as something in particular and it has characteristics that are a part of what it is. "This leaf is red, solid, dry, rough, and flammable." "This book is white, and has 312 pages." "This coin is round, dense, smooth, and has a picture on it." In all three of these cases we are referring to an entity with a specific identity; the particular type of identity, or the trait discussed, is not important. Their identities include all of their features, not just those mentioned.

I think both of these Aristotle quotes show that he's not isolating LOI from LNC and LEM. I get the sense that you are trying to say that LOI can be employed apart from LNC whereby you can then say A=A really means nothing when more than one thing has the same name even though if LNC is necessarily assumed [as in not needed to be proven because of it's axiomatic nature] you must contend with not just name, but time, sense, relationship, etc... and every other modifier that could distort the particularity of A and itself A. I dont know if I could lay this out any clearer--my bad if it's not clear.

The previous should've look like this:[I'm glad I copied before leaving the page that said "your comment has been posted" NOT, but when reposting, I forgot to add back in the html.]

"I gave a use of identity in logic: you need it to handle cases where you have two or more names for one thing."

Hi RonH, I wonder if I am understanding you, if I am, and you are stating your position accurately, I dont think you understand LOI.

I have not formally studied formal logic, so I certainly could be misunderstanding LOI but I dont think so. In an attempt to comply with your request to answer from a "logic book", I have a few quotes...ones that seem to me to be quite compatible with WL's comments.

Here's a quote regarding Aristotle's view.

"Aristotle highlights "the fact that a thing is itself" because the objective of his inquiry at that point in the Metaphysics concerns "substance" and to provide answers to the question "what kind of thing substance should be said to be", given that "substance is a principle and a cause" of being. He further argues that while it is true that the question, "why a thing is itself" is meaningless, "the fact that a thing is itself" has meaning because we can then restate the why question to inquire "why something is predictable of something" given that each something is itself unique. For Aristotle, "substance is actuality" and it is the actual "thing that is itself" something that proceeds another such something in time."


Fitting that Aristotle links identity with substance, or essence and that in his view, LOI is more precise than your stated version. I could but wont comment more on this quote but will if needed.

Here's a second from A=A,Aristotle's Law of Identity

"Everything that exists has a specific nature. Each entity exists as something in particular and it has characteristics that are a part of what it is. "This leaf is red, solid, dry, rough, and flammable." "This book is white, and has 312 pages." "This coin is round, dense, smooth, and has a picture on it." In all three of these cases we are referring to an entity with a specific identity; the particular type of identity, or the trait discussed, is not important. Their identities include all of their features, not just those mentioned."

I think both of these Aristotle quotes show that he's not isolating LOI from LNC and LEM. I get the sense that you are trying to say that LOI can be employed apart from LNC whereby you can then say A=A really means nothing when more than one thing has the same name even though if LNC is necessarily assumed [as in not needed to be proven because of it's axiomatic nature] you must contend with not just name, but time, sense, relationship, etc... and every other modifier that could distort the particularity of A and itself A. I dont know if I could lay this out any clearer--my bad if it's not clear.

"The only debate is about the quality of your evidence."

Hi Mr. Challenge everything, this isn't the only debate, since evidence of all kinds have to be interpreted. Your handle belies you own lack of commitment to your name in that you fail to challenge your ultimate propositions. For if you did challenge them, I think you'd keep you head down so as to not be noticed embracing a worldview that cannot withstand scrutiny, forcing you to borrow from the worldview that you so publicly dismiss without even realizing the debt you owe.

Brad-

For if you did challenge them, I think you'd keep you head down so as to not be noticed embracing a worldview that cannot withstand scrutiny, forcing you to borrow from the worldview that you so publicly dismiss without even realizing the debt you owe.
Ouch!

That's gonna leave a mark.

Atheism presupposes theism.

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