Friday, August 27, 2010

A Critique of Sye Ten Bruggencate’s www.proofthatgodexists.org

A visitor to my website recently informed me about a debate he had on Premier Christian Radio with a presuppositional apologists named Sye Ten Bruggencate.
I’ve seen Sye’s website before (it is located here: http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/). On this site, Sye seeks to prove the existence of his god by leading visitors through a series of pages which present various alternatives regarding the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality. The first four steps ask the visitor to affirm whether or not the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality even exist. If at any point the visitor disaffirms the existence of one of these features, he is taken to a page which reminds him that he makes use of what he has denied on a daily basis. So the visitor is compelled to affirm the existence of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality.

At Step Five the visitor is asked to decide whether those laws, whose existence he has just affirmed, are “immaterial” or “material.” It is at this point that I think Sye’s proof begins to suffer its most profound problems. The alternative “immaterial” versus “material” strikes me as a false dichotomy, since “immaterial” only tells us what something is not, not what it is. This negative term is contrasted with its positive counterpart, namely “material,” suggesting that these are the only two options available. The descriptor “immaterial” has no positive meaning of its own and could refer to just about anything one imagines (for according to Christian apologist Peter Pike, imaginary things are “immaterial” – see here). Sye’s case might raise fewer suspicions if his question at Step Five asked whether the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality were material or not material. This correction would improve things two-fold: first it would undo the mistake of treating “immaterial” as if it had a positive meaning; also, it would generate a question which Sye seems unprepared to ask: If the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality are not material, then what are they? It would be erroneous to suppose that calling them “immaterial” satisfies this question.

By framing the alternatives in the manner which he chooses, Sye seeks to tip the scales artificially in favor of his desired conclusion. But we will find that, even though he does this to give his position an advantage, it does not work. Let’s explore the two alternatives as Sye understands them.

If we click the box in Step Five which says “Laws of logic, Mathematics, Science, and Absolute Morality are Material,” we are scolded with the following statement:
If you believe that laws of logic, mathematics, science, or morality are made of matter, please show me where in nature these laws are. Can you touch them, see them, smell them, hear them, or taste them? Rather than have you produce a material, physical law I will narrow down the field for you... just show me the number '3' somewhere in nature. Not 'three things,' not a written representation of the number 3 but the real physical, material number 3.
Statements like this strongly suggest that Sye has something *conceptual* in mind when he speaks of “the immaterial.” This is because his example of something “immaterial” is the number ‘3’, which in fact is a concept (Sye disqualifies objects in the quantity of three and symbolic representations). This raises yet a further question about the terms in which Sye chooses to inform his proof:
Why doesn’t he frame his question about the ontology of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and absolute morality in terms of conceptual versus material instead of “immaterial” versus material?
The reason why Sye does not cast the alternatives in these terms is most likely because (a) he probably has no conceptual understanding of logic, mathematics, science and morality, and (b) doing so would jeopardize his case for theism. Not only does Christianity not have a theory of concepts (which would explain why Sye does not treat these issues as conceptual phenomena), his god is not supposed to be merely a concept, but an independently existing being.

The problem is even worse for Sye. As noted above, at Step Five Sye contrasts “material” with “immaterial.” Another expression which he uses to designate “the immaterial” is the term “abstract entities.” Does Sye really want to say that his god is “abstract” in nature, like the number 3 or any other abstraction? I wouldn’t think so. Abstractions are not living entities, they have no consciousness of their own, and they are not independently existing entities: they require minds to form and make use of them. But the Christian god is supposed to be an independently existing entity possessing its own consciousness, not needing a mind which forms it (such as in the believer’s imagination).

So just by citing a concept as an example of something “immaterial,” Sye is letting on that “God” refers to something psychological rather than existential, to something in his mind rather than an independently existing entity. Concepts are products of a mental process. By characterizing both “God” and concepts as “immaterial,” Sye is saying that his god is analogous to products of a mental process. Only instead of constituting genuine knowledge about the world (as in the case of concepts formed on the basis of perceptual input), Sye’s god-belief finds its residence in his imagination.

If at Step Five we click the box which says “Laws of Logic, Mathematics, Science and Absolute Morality are Immaterial,” we are taken to Step Six, which has us decide whether these laws “are universal or up to the individual.” Again we seem to have a false dichotomy on our hands. Sye asks: “Does 2 + 2 = 4 only where you are, and only because you say it does, or is this a universal law?” Sye implies that something must be universal in order to be what it is independent of our personal dictates and circumstances. But I’m sure that Sye would agree that this is not the case. In contrast to universal laws and truths, particular objects exist independent of our conscious intentions, and our actions in regard to them show that we recognize this, albeit perhaps only implicitly.

At any rate, most will likely agree (and rightly so) that the equation 2 + 2 = 4 (assuming equivalent units) applies everywhere and not just in one specific location and not just because we might happen to say it does. If this is what is meant by universality in this context, then one can agree that the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality apply everywhere and are thus universal in this sense. (I have presented the proper understanding of universality in my blog Demystifying Universality.)

Before proceeding with Sye’s proof, however, it should be noted that Sye contrasts “universal law” with something being the case because someone says so. This is noteworthy for it is in the theistic worldview where we find the view that a consciousness has the power to speak things into existence and alter them according to its will. Sye keeps this aspect of his theism safely out of view while suggesting that such a position is antithetical to universality as such in the dichotomy he introduces at this point.

If we take the option at Step Six which affirms that the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality are indeed universal, we are then asked at Step Seven to affirm whether or not those same laws unchanging. Sye summarizes how far we’ve come once we’ve made it this far in his proof:
You have acknowledged that laws of logic, mathematics, science, and absolute morality exist, that they are not made of matter, and that they are universal. The next question is whether you believe they are changing or unchanging.
We are asked to decide whether or not, on our own view, the law of identity, for instance, or 2 + 2 = 4, man’s need for values, etc., can be altered in some way or another, either on its own or by means of some external force. Of course, there’s no good reason to suppose that these laws will do this, we do not experience them changing, and the idea that they could or would change seems entirely self-refuting. Indeed, what would cause the laws to change? But causality is one of those laws. To expect a cause to change the laws invokes the laws. But couldn’t they change without a cause? No, because causality is the identity of change; if there’s change, that change – because it exists – would have identity, and thus the law of causality would be in play.

Apologists like Sye, however, think that this state of affairs implies or entails the existence of a god which makes this state of affairs – namely the immutability of the laws in question – obtain, or at any rate that this would not be the case unless their god were real. Of course, with reasoning such as this, we are still left with imagining the god in question, and projecting it as the solution to what may in fact not be a problem at all in the first place (I say this because we have The Axioms and the Primacy of Existence). Besides, presuppositionalists do not make a very clear case for why their god is a necessary precondition for the existence, universality and immutability of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality. In fact, it seems that these laws imply the very opposite: that the very notion of a god is completely arbitrary, even antithetical to them.

At this point, we come to the ”preproof” page in Sye’s case, where he announces:
To reach this page you had to acknowledge that immaterial, universal, unchanging laws of logic, mathematics, science, and absolute morality exist. Universal, immaterial, unchanging laws are necessary for rational thinking to be possible. Universal, immaterial, unchanging laws cannot be accounted for if the universe was random or only material in nature.
We saw above that characterizing the laws in question as conceptual in nature – i.e., as generalized identifications composed of concepts – is vastly preferable to characterizing them as “immaterial,” which ignores their conceptual nature and leaves them subject to whatever arbitrary investment one’s imagination may ascribe to them. In fact, recognizing that these laws are conceptual in nature explains the remaining two attributes: universal and unchanging. Universality is essentially the open-endedness of conceptual reference. For instance, the concept ‘man’ includes not just one man or five men, but all men who exist, who have existed and who will ever exist. It is because of this open-endedness that we can speak of men in the past and in the future as well as in the present, and still have the same essential features in mind – i.e., a biological organism possessing the faculty of reason. Concept’s owe their open-endedness of reference to the process of measurement-omission which is a key aspect of concept-formation, an action performed by the mind. There’s no mystery here, so there’s no reason to attribute universality to something beyond man’s own mental abilities.

Similarly with the attribute of immutability: conceptual reference rests on the proper orientation of the subject-object relationship and the process by which concepts are formed. The orientation between consciousness (the subject) and its objects does not change; the subject and its objects do not and cannot switch places. Moreover, the truth of the axiomatic concepts ‘existence’, ‘consciousness’ and ‘identity’ do not change. For instance, the fact that there is a reality (“existence exists”) does not change. The immutability of conceptual reference is thus grounded in facts, facts which do not conform to conscious intentions, facts which obtain regardless of the actions of any consciousness (whether real or imagined).

So in a sense, just by preferring to characterize these laws as “immaterial” instead of conceptual, Sye has stacked the deck against their real nature in order to underwrite them with theistic presuppositions which have no basis in reality whatsoever, and which in fact violate the very axioms which ground those laws in the first place.

Sye says that these laws “cannot be accounted for if the universe was random or only material in nature.” But they can be accounted for if the universe exists independent of consciousness (the primacy of existence ensures this), if the axiom of consciousness is true (there are organisms which possess the faculty of consciousness), and if one has a theory of concepts which explains how conceptualization is possible. And we have all three of these in the philosophy of Objectivism.

Meanwhile, Christianity defaults on all three of these points. For one thing, it holds that the universe does not exist independent of consciousness. It holds to the primacy of consciousness, claiming that the universe was created by an act of consciousness, and that its contents conform to the dictates of that consciousness (to its “will”). Moreover, Christianity in essence denies the axiom of consciousness, for it must assume that consciousness can exist without an independent object (see my blog Before the Beginning: The Problem of Divine Lonesomeness). Lastly, Christianity has no theory of concepts, which means its adherents have no philosophically native means of understanding the nature of concepts or the processes by which the human mind forms them.

It is because of these fundamental problems that I wager that Sye’s proof ultimately relies on an argumentum ad ignorantium - an argument from ignorance. It is primarily because one lacks knowledge of the axioms, the issue of metaphysical primacy and concept theory that one would seek to exploit the resulting mysteriousness of the nature of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality and attribute them to the “supernatural”.

Sye continues, saying:
The Bible teaches us that there are 2 types of people in this world, those who profess the truth of God's existence and those who suppress the truth of God's existence. The options of 'seeking' God, or not believing in God are unavailable. The Bible never attempts to prove the existence of God as it declares that the existence of God is so obvious that we are without excuse for not believing in Him.
Sye must appeal to the contents of a storybook in order to affirm the antithetical categories into which he wants to fit all men. In doing so, he seeks to wipe out the sheer honesty of many non-believers: those who honestly do not believe any mystical claims, including the claim that a “God” exists. It is honesty which is the casualty of such pronouncements, and this is what we need to understand. If Sye’s proof were built on honesty, why does it seek to exploit ignorance in such a predatory manner? Blank out. Again, he appeals to the storybook, acknowledging that it presents no arguments for the existence of its god, but rather “declares” – i.e., merely asserts, without argument – its existence, claiming (with blatant contradiction at Romans 1:20) that its existence is “so obvious that we are without excuse for not believing in Him.”

What the bible offers, and what Sye repeats here, is essentially an accusation against non-believers. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book: if someone doesn’t believe your claims, accuse them of some moral shortcoming. In this case, we’re accused, given our non-belief in Sye’s god, of purposely “suppressing the truth.” The allegation here is that we are willfully and deliberately denying something that we really know to be true. But again, neither Sye nor any other apologist has any rational basis for making such a charge. He cites no facts or evidence to support his claim; rather, he simply repeats what the sacred storybook already says. The passage where he gets this comes from the apostle Paul. Paul wrote this passage some 1900 years ago, long before anyone reading this was even born. In other words, we were accused of this moral breach before we even existed, without trial, without a hearing, without weighing any evidence, without any investigation into any of our souls.

Essentially, we have the theist saying, “Well, if you do not confess that my God exists, then I’m going to accuse of denying what you really know!” This is somehow supposed to compel us. Who would want people to believe his claims on such a basis? Wouldn’t that make one’s own confidence in said belief all the more shaky? It is noteworthy that apologists want to make the issue a moral matter. Are they not tipping their own cards by doing so? Are they not tacitly admitting that their god-belief is ultimately a matter of choice by telling us that we’re immoral for essentially choosing not to believe? Should we just up and choose to believe that Sye’s god exists, with no reason other than that we do not want to be guilty of his charge of “suppressing the truth”? Should we just retreat into our imaginations on Sye’s say so, on the basis of fear of the imaginary consequences of the alternative, and agree with his claim that his god is needed for any proof in the first place?

I trow not.

So it appears, upon inspection, that what Christians really mean by “believe in Him” is nothing more than “imagine Him.” For no matter what the apologist offers in defense of his god-belief, we still have no alternative to imagining his god which he insists exists.

This conclusion bears out in the claim which Sye presents as his “proof”:
The Proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn't prove anything.
This hardly constitutes any kind of proof. Indeed, it seems merely to be the opinion of someone who already believes the claim that said god exists in the first place. In fact, I see no reason why someone who believes in the Muslim god could not make essentially the same claim about his god:
The Proof that Allah exists is that without Him you couldn’t prove anything.
To bring the point home, we could imagine any god in place of Sye’s “God” and wonder why it would not stick for that god for the kinds of reasons Sye supposes it works for his god:
The Proof that Blarko exists is that without Blarko, you couldn’t prove anything.
I’m guessing that Sye would not find these latter two variations on his own them very compelling.

Finally, after all the steps in Sye’s presentation are exhausted, we come to the question what do you believe? We are given only two options at this point:
“I believe that God exists”
and
“I do not believe that God exists”
If we choose the first option, Sye finally rewards us by taking us to his site’s main page, where he asks visitors who have not gone through his eight-step program to go to his proof’s first step. For those who made it here by following the desired alternatives of Sye’s proof and choosing the “I believe that God exists” path, Sye writes:
For those who have gone through the proof to get here, it may have been a huge step to finally admit that God exists. While it may be a relief to finally make such an admission, it is just the first step, not the last.
He apparently thinks it requires a lot of courage to “admit that God exists,” even though after going through Sye’s proof we still have no alternative but to imagine the god whose existence he’s been trying to prove. Nothing has changed in this regard: before Sye’s proof, we could only imagine his god, and now that he’s presented his 8-step proof, we can still only imagine it. We cannot perceive this god, we cannot conduct a conversation with it, we cannot verify its existence by asking it to reveal itself in some unmistakable, demonstrative manner (such as levitating a book from the book shelf – something that should be easy for the creator of the universe to do). True to presuppositional form, Sye’s god remains marooned in our imagination, even after all his gyrations about absolute truth, the laws of logic and universality. Indeed, while I went through the steps of Sye’s proof, I never experienced any compulsion to “admit that God exists.” Rather, I sensed only that our leg was being pulled.

But Sye makes it sound like “admit[ting] that God exists” lifts some terrible burden off our shoulders. But there was no burden there in the first place. There is no strain in recognizing the fact that there is a fundamental distinction between what is real and what is merely imaginary. In fact, if there’s any “relief” to be achieved, it is in grasping the nature of this fundamental distinction and “admitting” that the imaginary is not real, even if Sye’s god doesn’t like it. But surely even Sye Ten Bruggencate recognizes the fact that there is a fundamental distinction between what is real and what is imaginary, does he not? If so, why then does his proof show no concern for this fact? Why does Sye not tell us how we can distinguish between his god and what is merely imaginary? Why does he not build any safeguard into his proof which ensures that the god whose existence he wants to prove is not something we set up in our imagination as we go through its several steps? And if he were to build such a safeguard into his proof, how would it integrate with the terms of his proof, and how would it affect its intended conclusion? We may never know.

If we go through Sye’s eight-step proof and choose the latter option, namely “I do not believe that God exists,” Sye will naturally be disappointed. Only stubbornness and hardheartedness could lead one to choosing this option. It is by choosing this option that we are lead to a new page where Sye scolds us yet again. There he writes:
Denying the existence of God is not unbelief but an exercise in self-deception. You may know things, but you cannot account for anything you know.
Is it truly an instance of “self-deception” when one recognizes the fact that there is a fundamental distinction between what is real and what is imaginary? Indeed, it seems that ignoring this distinction is a telltale indication of self-deception, and I have yet to see how god-belief is possible without downplaying this distinction. If something does not exist, then how can denying its existence when someone insists that it does exist, constitute an instance of self-deception?

Sye betrays the inherent argumentum ad ignorantium nature to presuppositionalism when he tells us “you may know things, but you cannot account for anything you know.” He grants that his visitors can know things, but essentially says that they don’t know how they know what they know. How does he know this about those who visit his website? Is he omniscient? Does he confuse himself with the god he claims he worships? He may have never made their acquaintance before, and yet he professes to know that they can’t know how they know what we know. He apparently takes his website’s visitors for fools.

Perhaps Sye is expressing a hope here, namely the hope that his visitors are unable to “account for anything” they might happen to know. But why would he hope this? Or perhaps he’s projecting his own ignorance here. Either way, he seems to think he’s on safe grounds here, since he provides no support at all for his claim about people who may very well be complete strangers to him. He talks about being able to “account” for one’s knowledge, but presents no basis to “account” for the knowledge he claims for himself about people he’s never met. Sye is telling us that the basis for his visitors’ knowledge is a mystery to them. And yet isn’t this precisely what Christianity ends up teaching about the “knowledge” believers are supposed to claim for themselves when push comes to shove? Look at what presuppositional apologist John Frame tells us when he wrestles with the question of how the believer can “account for” the “knowledge” he is supposed to claim for himself:
I cannot explain the psychology here to the satisfaction of very many. In this case as in others (for we walk by faith, not by sight!) we may have to accept the fact even without an explanation of the fact. Somehow, God manages to get his Word across to us, despite the logical and psychological barriers. Without explaining how it works, Scripture describes in various ways a “supernatural factor” in divine-human communication. (a) It speaks of the power of the Word. The Word created all things (Gen. 1:3, etc.; Ps. 33:3-6; John 1:3) and directs the course of nature and history (Pss. 46:6; 148:5-8). What God says will surely come to pass (Isa. 55:11; Gen. 18:149; Deut. 18:21ff.). The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16; cf. Isa. 6:9-10; Luke 7:7ff.; Heb. 4:12). (b) Scripture also speaks of the personal power of the Holy Spirit operating with the Word (John 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:4,12ff.; 2 Cor. 3:15-18; 1 Thess. 1:5)10. Mysterious though the process may be, somehow God illumines the human mind to discern the divine source of the Word. We know without knowing how we know. (Presuppositional Apologetics: An Introduction - Part 1 of 2: Introduction and Creation)
Frame construes the problem as a matter of psychology, but what we’re really after here (and what Sye is presumably interested in) is a matter of epistemology, not psychology. For what we’re supposed to be concerned with is giving an “account for” the knowledge we claim to have, right? So this in itself is quite an admission on Frame’s part: it tells us that he has no epistemological “account for” the “knowledge” he claims to have acquired from a supernatural source. And that would be accurate: knowledge that is dispensed from a supernatural source would have no epistemological basis, since it would not be knowledge which one infers from previously validated knowledge, but which would have been forcibly inserted into his mind by means of irresistible magic.

And this analysis is not at all uncalled for: Frame admits that the bible fails to “explain… how it works,” but mentions that it involves some kind of “power,” a power which is powerful enough to “direct… the course of nature and history” (so how could puny little man resist it?). This “power” is something which “operat[es] with the Word” which the believer reads in the sacred storybook, so just by reading the storybook the believer is supposedly giving this power access to his mind to do whatever it chooses to do. Frame himself concedes that he does not understand how this all works, calling the “process” by which this power inserts knowledge into the believer’s mind “mysterious,” insisting that “somehow” his god “illumines the human mind to discern the divine source of the Word,” while failing to explain how this supposed illumination is any different from the believer’s own imagination. It is at this point that Frame throws up his arms in utter cognitive resignation to make the damning admission “We know without knowing how we know.”

This is the philosophical heritage of presuppositional apologetics. And yet, given this concession of defeat on a most important epistemological matter (indeed, the most important matter for the believer if there were any!), Sye wants to exploit the non-believer’s supposed inability to “account for” what he knows. Presuppositionalists have always told us that non-believers cannot “account for” their knowledge, so Sye tells us nothing we haven’t already heard. But if accounting for knowledge were in fact so important to Sye, why doesn’t he make up for Frame’s admitted defeat and get down to the business of accounting for his own so-called knowledge, beginning with explaining how we can reliably distinguish between what he calls “God” and what he may merely be imagining?

The silence on these points is indeed deafening!

But if Christians can give themselves a pass when it comes to giving an “account for” their knowledge and ultimately appeal to “mystery,” why is it an issue of the non-believer is unable to articulate the epistemological grounding of his own knowledge?

Perhaps it is because – and this is what we should expect if Christianity were in fact false – Christianity has no genuine epistemology, and non-believers – who claim no supernatural source for the knowledge they have – should have an epistemological basis for the knowledge they have, since they acquire their knowledge through processes governed by the nature of their consciousness and its perceptual contact with reality. In other words, while believers should not be expected to provide any epistemological accounting for the knowledge they claim to have about “the supernatural” (since such “knowledge” is summarily arbitrary in nature), non-believers do not claim to acquire their knowledge from some “supernatural” source, but instead rely on their own faculties to discover facts, formulate general principles and infer higher-level truths through some understandable process. So the Christian is right on schedule in giving himself a pass, since he has no “account for” the knowledge he claims, and he is clever in challenging non-believers to explain how he acquires the knowledge he has.

But this does not in any way justify the believer’s appeal to “mystery” or some “supernatural power.” By taking this route, the believer announces that his god-belief rests ultimately on his own ignorance: he has no idea how to “account for” knowledge at all, and yet it is on the basis of this ignorance that he hopes to establish the validity of his god-belief. The circular tail-spin of crash-and-burn presuppositionalism leaves its practitioners stranded on a deserted island, unable to fend for themselves, unable to do nothing more than rest on the futile hope that some unsuspecting victim will come along and fall for his pretenses.

That being said, it is true that many non-believers do find it difficult to wrestle with presuppositionalism’s devises and challenges. There are, among others, two fundamental reasons why this may be the case. For one, while individual thinkers do have a great store of knowledge in their minds, they typically do not learn the processes by which they acquire knowledge in an explicit, systematic manner. They started learning knowledge when they were toddlers, and just continued with the processes that they naturally developed over time, never really understanding how their knowledge relates to what they perceive, never exploring how they form a concept, never identifying the process by which they can infer general truths from what they are aware of directly. Since their childhood, the processes by which they acquire their knowledge has been automatized, something they do without fully understanding how they do it. In this way, many non-believing thinkers’ orientation to their own knowledge is no different from what Frame indicates about the religious knowledge he claims when he concedes that “we know without knowing how we know.”

The solution to this is not what the presuppositionalist offers, which is to retreat further into the cave of his religion’s darkness, but to recognize the fact that since consciousness and knowledge both have identity, they can both be understood, since knowledge is essentially a process of identifying that which has identity. This is where Objectivist epistemology, the objective theory of concepts, sheds light where presuppositionalism can only prey on ignorance. (For details, see Ayn Rand’s Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.) I contend that, without a theory of concepts, one will be unable to answer presuppositionalism’s challenges in any definitely resolute manner.

Sye’s next statement is noteworthy:
Arguing against God's existence would be on par with arguing against the existence of air, breathing it all the while.
It’s curious that Sye would compare “arguing against God’s existence” with “arguing against the existence of air,” for his proof makes it clear that his god is supposed to be immaterial while air is undeniably material in manner. We do in fact breathe air, and can feel it rushing into our lungs and out our noses as we breathe. We can directly sense air, since our air channels are equipped with nerve endings which register the passage of air as it moves across them. But the Christian god is supposed to be immaterial, invisible, and beyond the reach of our senses. It’s said to be “out there” some place, but without any ability on our part to perceive. All we can do is imagine it (which we aren’t supposed to talk about). So Sye’s comparison of his god with the air that we breathe, is at the very least highly questionable. If Sye could say this about his god, couldn’t we say this about anything we imagine?

Sye then says:
You use the universal, immaterial, unchanging laws of logic, mathematics, science, and absolute morality in order to come to rational decisions, but you cannot account for them.
How does Sye know that we “cannot account for them”? If we have the objective theory of concepts, we surely can “account for” logic, mathematics, science and morality, since these are conceptual in nature. Indeed, how could these endeavors be possible to any consciousness lacking the ability to form concepts? Blank out! Sye certainly does not explain this. He does not even consider this question. I have already discussed the proper understanding of universality (see here). Universality is essentially nothing more than the human mind’s ability to form open-ended classifications of reference (namely mental integrations) into which new units can be integrated when they are discovered or considered. There is nothing mysterious about universality when it is understood as an aspect of conceptual awareness. But notice that presuppositional apologetics does not encourage an *understanding* of universality, but instead seeks to utilize universality as a point of ignorance against the non-believer.

Similarly with the quality of being “immaterial”: since Sye is talking about universality, he’s clearly talking about the mind’s ability to formulate open-ended classifications of reference. But the mind does not experience its own activity in the same manner that it experiences the concrete entities which it perceives in the world. The mind acts according to its own nature, and this activity is certainly different from the nature of the objects of which one is aware by means of sense perception. A tree which one perceives is different from the concept ‘tree’ which one forms in his mind to integrate and identify the many trees he perceives.

Sye continues:
These laws are not the only way God has revealed himself to you, but they are sufficient to show the irrationality of your thinking, and expose your guilt for denying Him.
The “laws” to which Sye refers here, if they have any objective basis, are not the means by which an invisible magic being “reveals” itself to human beings, but in fact the conceptual form in which human minds identify and integrate general truths which they discover about the world in which they exist. There’s nothing otherworldly about these laws. In fact, they pertain in this world precisely because they are formed on the basis of what is discovered in this world. The reason why religious thinkers treat them as indications of a supernatural dimension is precisely because they do not understand their inherent relation to this world, which again implicates the argumentum ad ignorantium nature of presuppositional apologetics: the apologists do not know how the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality can be derived by the human mind from their awareness of the world around us, therefore they couldn’t possibly be derived from awareness of the world around us. Consequently, they must derive from some awareness alien to this world, they must derive from a supernatural mind. After all, goes the reasoning, this world is nothing but matter in constant flux, particulars that are ever-changing. So how could these laws, which are “immaterial,” unchanging and universal find their basis in this world? If such reasoning were true, how could these laws have any applicability in this world if they didn’t have any basis in it? Again, to address such questions, apologists appeal to the supernatural: because the laws reflect the nature of a supernatural being, and the supernatural being created this world (this world which is a chaos of particulars constantly undergoing change). Still we are left with imagining something beyond what we perceive, beyond what we can infer from an objective basis, beyond what we can reach by means of reason. You just have to have faith in the apologist’s claims that the defense he gives for his god-belief is true, for it will never make sense on the basis of reason.

Sye’s presumptuousness seems to know no bounds when he writes (again, he’s writing this to whoever happens to visit his website and finds his way to this page):
There is a reason that you deny the existence of God and it has nothing to do with proof. I can show this to you. Examine what your initial reaction was to the proof of God's existence offered on this website. Did you think that you could continue to deny God because you are not a scientist, or philosopher but 'Surely somewhere, sometime, a philosopher or scientist will come up with an explanation for universal, immaterial, unchanging laws apart from God?' Did you try to come up with an alternate explanation on your own? OR Did you even consider that the proof was valid?
The problem with Sye’s proof is not whether it is valid or invalid. Validity is a formal concern in logic; one can produce a valid argument that the earth rests on the back of a giant tortoise swimming through space. The question is whether or not Sye’s argument is sound, and this should be his concern. It should be our concern as well, for even if we object that Sye’s argument is invalid, it would not take a lot of effort to make it valid, and then what? The concern should be whether the premises in Sye’s argument are true as well as whether or not they in fact support his intended conclusion. On this note, Sye’s argument does not make it clear how the conclusion that his god exists follows from the premises that the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality are “immaterial,” unchanging and universal. He insists that such laws “cannot be accounted for if the universe was random or only material in nature” (Sye makes this claim on the pre-proof page). But it does not follow from this that his god therefore exists. Nor does Sye’s claiming that these laws “reflect the very nature of God” given their so-called “immaterial,” universal and unchanging nature (as he does here). It is one thing merely to claim that these laws “reflect the very nature of God,” another thing entirely to prove (a) that said god exists and (b) that the laws in question actually do reflect its nature. Sye has merely presented the claim that they do (thus assuming the existence of his god, which is what he was supposed to prove in the first place); he has not at all come close to accomplishing the latter tasks.

Notice Sye’s glaring presumptuousness in speaking on behalf of his visitors, most of whom he will never personally meet. How does Sye know that any given reader’s reason for rejecting the claim that his god exists has nothing to do with proof? Presuppositionalists are constantly asking non-believers to “account for” their knowledge; why doesn’t Sye “account for” what he claims to know here? It could be that readers find Sye’s “proof” deficient (they’d be right to do so), and this would be sufficient to reject its conclusion. Sye says that he can show that his readers’ rejection of the claim that his god exists by examining their initial reaction to his website. But even Sye does not know what his readers’ initial reaction to his website may be. That he does not know this is given away by the fact that he must ask his readers questions in order to probe for those reasons. Sye notes several possible initial reactions, but hardly provides an exhaustive list. It could be that his readers came to his website with a willingness to let Sye make his case, and upon examining his case found it to be insufficient to the task he put before himself. It may be the case that some readers are simply being honest when they examine Sye’s case and find it surreptitious or deceptive. Would Sye fault any of his site’s visitors for being honest?

Sye clearly wants to forestall any alternative to his god-belief:
Hoping that an alternate explanation for universal, immaterial, unchanging laws can someday be found apart from God, is a blind leap of faith, or wishful thinking. Isn't it interesting that this is exactly what professed unbelievers accuse Christians of?
In other words, Sye chides putting hope in what merely be imaginary as an alternative to putting hope in what believers can only imagine. A leap of faith in favor of some mystical concoction of human imagination which starkly departs from the realm in which we exist is to be preferred over man’s potential when it comes to what he may produce in the future (human beings have quite a track record, from the Empire State Building to the Declaration of Independence).

But all of this is for naught, for we already have a rational explanation for the universal, unchanging and objective laws which Sye has in mind. And that explanation is found in the philosophy of Objectivism. (If what he presents to us on his site is any indication, it appears that Sye has no familiarity with this philosophy; he certainly does not interact with it.) So there is no need to “hope” that “someday” an “alternative explanation” can be “found apart from God” (as if positing “God” explains these things to begin with!). No “leap of faith” is required, either for some imagined future explanation or for some supernatural deity which one can only imagine. No “wishful thinking” is needed.

And yes, hoping, leaps of faith, and wishful thinking, are indeed the kinds of things non-believers observe Christians indulging in when it comes to their god-belief. And no, non-believers are not constrained to doing the same, so long as they choose rational philosophy.

But rational philosophy, the philosophy of Objectivism, is precisely what believers do not want to consider. Indeed, does Sye consider the possibility that there is a rational alternative to his god-belief? Not that I can see.

Does Sye Ten Bruggencate present a genuine proof for the existence of “God”? Not if what is imaginary is distinct from what is real. If his god were real, why would Sye rely on the usual tactics of presuppositionalism to demonstrate its reality? I submit that he relies on these tactics precisely because his god is not real, and yet wants it to be real.

by Dawson Bethrick

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

201 Comments:

Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Another superb job! I have read all of your writings (and comments). They are absolutely brilliant.

Ydemoc

August 27, 2010 8:41 PM  
Blogger Sye TenB said...

Maybe someday I'll have the time to read all that.

Perhaps a debate is in order sometime. What say?

August 27, 2010 9:17 PM  
Blogger rhiggs said...

Great post Dawson.


Maybe someday I'll have the time to read all that.

Perhaps a debate is in order sometime. What say?


As usual, Sye refuses to critically examine his own worldview, puffs his chest and dares his opponent to a debate.

Why not just answer the criticisms here?

Is this perhaps because you cannot even prove that you exist for certain without demolishing your argument...?

August 28, 2010 6:57 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Sye,

Thanks for visiting my site and leaving your comment.

I must say that I have to agree with Rhiggs on this: why not take some time to examine my criticisms of your proof, and see if you can answer them? You might begin with explaining why you think “immaterial” is the proper category for the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality, as opposed to *conceptual*.

In my worldview, these things are conceptual in nature. If they are not conceptual in nature in your worldview, I’d have to say you have some major problems to sort out.

For instance, to what does “immaterial” refer *positively*? It seems to tell us nothing more than what something *isn’t* as opposed to what it *is*, which is a non-starter since clearly it is supposed to refer to something that exists (and thus would need positive identification). Also, if “immaterial” refers to products of mental activity (as your own example of the concept ‘3’ indicates), then you’re essentially saying that “God” – by also categorizing it as “immaterial” – is a product of mental activity. But this would defeat your theism as a viable contender in any debate, since it can only mean that your god, far from being a concept (since it’s supposed to refer to a independently existing being that is sui generis), is very likely a product of imagination. In the final analysis, if the Christian god is imaginary, it is not real, therefore it does not exist. I give several reasons – which I think individually are quite compelling, and collectively overwhelming – for supposing that the Christian god is imaginary in nature in my article The Imaginative Nature of Christian Theism.

On the other hand, if you do agree that the laws in question are conceptual in nature, then how do you account for that which is conceptual in nature when your worldview – Christianity – has no theory of concepts? Indeed, I would say that one of the reasons why you prefer to categorize these laws as “immaterial” is precisely because you do not have a *conceptual* understanding of them. Rather, you have a storybook understanding of them, courtesy of Van Til, Bahnsen & co. If you think Christianity does provide a theory of concepts, perhaps you could spell it out for us, explain how it is specifically Christian in nature, and show how it not only justifies your use of “immaterial” in the present context, but also how it addresses the concerns that I raise above.

If you’re interested in other criticisms of presuppositionalism, I have written on the nature of knowledge (see here), logic (see here), numbers (see here), induction (see here), and morality (see here). Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg, but if you’re interested in challenging my position, I’d say you have your work cut out for you.

Regards,
Dawson

August 28, 2010 10:51 AM  
Blogger Sye TenB said...

I must say that I have to agree with Rhiggs on this: why not take some time to examine my criticisms of your proof, and see if you can answer them?

Erm, cause I don't have the time to take right now. I just finished a baseball tournament, and am preparing for a live debate in NC this Thrusday. I will be away all week, and simply do not have the time to sift through such a long post. It's not like I haven't heard these criticisms before, or that you have not heard the resolutions, so I don't feel a pressing need to answer them. As I said, perhaps when I have the time I will get to this.

Still though, if you are interested in a debate, perhaps we can schedule something.

Cheers,

Sye

August 28, 2010 12:21 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Sye: “I will be away all week, and simply do not have the time to sift through such a long post.”

When you have time, and have something substantive to say in response to my criticisms, you know where to find me.

Sye: “It's not like I haven't heard these criticisms before,”

Where have you heard my criticisms before? Can you point us to a source which argues the points I’ve raised against presuppositionalism?

If you've not read through my critique of your proof (you yourself have stated that you've not had any time to "sift through" my post), how could you know if you've already seen my criticisms before?

Sye: “or that you have not heard the resolutions,”

Actually, I find that presuppositionalists tend to do what you’re doing: they have only excuses for not interacting with my criticisms, rather than answers to them. I've certainly not seen any refutations of the papers I linked to in my previous comment. If you know of any, please let me know.

Sye: “so I don't feel a pressing need to answer them.”

But for some reason, you found sufficient need to post your comments. Interesting.

Sye: “Still though, if you are interested in a debate, perhaps we can schedule something.”

I frankly don’t see the point. And if you can't spare the time to read my post, it sounds like you’re already far too busy with other commitments anyway. I am very busy too, but I found time to refute your proof. Besides, I have already published many criticisms of presuppositionalism. If you have responses to them, just let me know what they are. Until then, your “proof” remains refuted.

Regards,
Dawson

August 28, 2010 1:36 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

I'd love to hear what the resolutions are. In fact I'll go so far as to say I have never heard of a sound response to the primary arguement from existense, nor can I concieve of one. So please Sye, if you are too busy fine, but at least post a link or something. I will read any arguement with great interest, altho always with an eye to spot stolen concept fallacies.

August 28, 2010 2:03 PM  
Blogger rhiggs said...

"If you've not read through my critique of your proof (you yourself have stated that you've not had any time to "sift through" my post), how could you know if you've already seen my criticisms before?"


Brilliant! Sye is caught red-handed lying. I will be linking straight to this comment in the future.

Thanks

August 28, 2010 2:40 PM  
Blogger Sye TenB said...

"If you've not read through my critique of your proof (you yourself have stated that you've not had any time to "sift through" my post), how could you know if you've already seen my criticisms before?"

Erm, I skimmed it. Same ka ka, just more words. That is actually why I prefer a live debate, then you can't hide behind your keyboard. If and when I respond to your post, I do not plan to have a back and forth with someone who types so much, yet says so little.

August 28, 2010 3:18 PM  
Blogger Sye TenB said...

In the meantime, why don’t you chew on this. You say:

”At Step Five the visitor is asked to decide whether those laws, whose existence he has just affirmed, are “immaterial” or “material.” It is at this point that I think Sye’s proof begins to suffer its most profound problems.”

So, in order to get to step 5, you had to admit that there are laws of logic, mathematics, science, and absolute morality, how do you account for them according to your worldview? I don’t see the point of offering a refutation to steps that you should not have gotten to.

Cheers.

August 28, 2010 3:24 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Sye wrote: “So, in order to get to step 5, you had to admit that there are laws of logic, mathematics, science, and absolute morality,”

“admit”? Are you really that far behind in all this?

Sye asked: “how do you account for them according to your worldview?”

By means of the axioms, the primacy of existence and the objective theory of concepts. That’s how. (I thought you'd know this since you say it's the "same ka ka" you've seen so often already.)

Rhiggs wrote: “Sye is caught red-handed lying.”

Indeed, if I’m going to debate someone, he or she would at minimum need to be honest. Sye’s own statements suggest that he fails to meet this minimum requirement. Besides, if I’m going to debate someone, I’d want to debate someone who can deal with the criticisms that I raise rather than hiding behind contentless slogans he’s picked up from some apologetics book. Sye has not shown that he’s able to meet this requirement either.

By the way, Sye, if you’re reading: in case you are unfamiliar with what Justin mentioned in his comment, here are some resources:

The Argument from Existence by Anton Thorn

Stolen Concepts and Intellectual Parasitism by little ol’ me

In the meantime, Sye, one really quick question which should be a snap for you to answer since it's the "same ka ka" you've supposedly answered already:

Can you explain how we can reliably distinguish between what you call "God" and what you may merely be imagining?

Regards,
Dawson

August 28, 2010 3:42 PM  
Blogger bc said...

This should be good. Sye is out of his league.

August 28, 2010 4:10 PM  
Blogger Sye TenB said...

"Indeed, if I’m going to debate someone, he or she would at minimum need to be honest."

And with that, I am done with you. Surely a person can glean the contents of your objections by skimming a post? Such unsubstantiated allegations are usually trotted out by the likes of those, like you and rhiggs, who are too afraid to debate the issues live. They hide behind their keyboards and sling mud. Perhaps you, like rhiggs, saw what happened to the last person I debated. If that is the case, I understand your fear.

If you ever get the courage to do a live debate, you know how to contact me.

Cheers.

August 28, 2010 4:27 PM  
Blogger Sye TenB said...

Looks like I got out just in time. "Proof by verbosity." Gotta love it :-)

Cheers.

August 28, 2010 4:43 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I announced that a minimum requirement for me to debate someone, is that he or she be honest.

At this point, Sye stated “with that, I am done with you.”

By declaring my terms, my opponents self-eliminate. That’s classic!

Water does indeed find its own level.

Sye must have been doing some searching on the internet and linked to blog entry by David Smart. This is where Smart famously admits that, on his worldview, something is imaginary “only by the presuppositions and criteria he employs!” In other words, something is either real or imaginary depending on what “presuppositions” one adopts. On this view, I can imagine Blarko, but if I adopt the right presuppositions, Blarko becomes real. Amazing!

For details, see my blog A Response to David Smart on Arrogance. And yes, I do love it!

Meanwhile, I see that Sye has not addressed my question about how we can reliably distinguish between what he calls “God” and what he may merely be imagining. Then again, I wasn’t holding my breath.

On that note, he’s not rebutted a single point that I’ve made in my blog. And he says I’m scared? Hmmmm... couldn't fool us.

Regards,
Dawson

August 28, 2010 5:02 PM  
Blogger Sye TenB said...

"By declaring my terms, my opponents self-eliminate. That’s classic!"

Um no, it was insinuating that I was a liar that did it.
(There's probably a name for that tactic too, but I'm really liking "argumentum ad verbosium," now that's classic! :-))

Cheers.

August 28, 2010 5:12 PM  
Blogger bc said...

Thought you were done here, Sye. You've been asked a 20 word question. Doesn't seem all that verbose to me but I suppose that is all relative.

Can you explain how we can reliably distinguish between what you call "God" and what you may merely be imagining?

August 28, 2010 5:36 PM  
Blogger Sye TenB said...

"Can you explain how we can reliably distinguish between what you call "God" and what you may merely be imagining?"

Simple, denying God reduces one's worldview to absurdity, denying what I may be imagining does not.

Cheers.

August 28, 2010 6:21 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Darn it! It now looks like i'll never see a refutation of the primary arguement from existence. Disapointed... yet again. C'mon Sye, one little old link?

August 28, 2010 6:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Sye,

With each new comment of yours, you dig yourself deeper and deeper into chronic credibility deficit. If you came here to save face, you're not doing very well.

Also, by dismissing my critique of your “proof” as an example of “argumentum ad verbosity,” you’re essentially announcing that you aren’t up to the task of interacting with a mere blog entry, while simultaneously disparaging painfully heavy tomes like Bahnsen’s Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, which weighs in at a whopping 700 pages of profuse repetitiousness. That’s the problem with arbitrary standards: you end up wiping out much more than you first intended.

I asked: Can you explain how we can reliably distinguish between what you call "God" and what you may merely be imagining?

Sye: “Simple, denying God reduces one's worldview to absurdity, denying what I may be imagining does not.”

By denying your god, my worldview has not been reduced to absurdity. (I know, I just checked.) So this is not a reliable method at all. In fact, by your own statement, the fact that my worldview perseveres while I deny your god, suggests that your god is in fact imaginary, as I had suspected all along.

Besides, one could make the claim you have made here about anything one imagines. Observe:

A-blarkist: Can you explain how we can reliably distinguish between what you call “Blarko” and what you may merely be imagining?

Blarkist: Simple, denying Blarko reduces one’s worldview to absurdity, denying what I may be imagining does not.

Got anything better than canned apologetic sloganry?

Regards,
Dawson

August 28, 2010 6:28 PM  
Blogger Reynold said...

Well, one of Sye's fanboys is at it again.

Sigh...

August 29, 2010 12:46 AM  
Blogger Vagon said...

Good job. Sye has heard these arguments before, I amongst many, many others have mentioned them to him in various comments around the place. I'm not saying he has addressed them, just that he has been asked them.

I also wanted to add something into your critique of the website.

It can be seen by clicking "laws of logic do not exist" it sends you on infinite regress until you agree that they exist. This is rightly performed by asking you how you can logically say logic doesn't exist.

Considering we have come to this point without a particular god, there is no need to complicate the matter. Epistemology is governed by logic the defence of which is retortion.

In other words Sye's own website has demonstrated how you can know something without god.

August 29, 2010 5:02 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Sye said:

"insinuating"

Hahahahahahahahahahaaaaaa! No insinuations at all. Of course you are clearly dishonest Sye. I have witnessed you twisting and re-twisting people's comments and positions time and again.

This is why you rather have a "live" debate, where twisting works best. All you have to do is make a mess (charged questions, such as "have you stop hitting your wife? But I never hit my ... aha! you would not have to deny it if it weren't true! But it is not t ... see what I am saying? [public applauds]") and wait for the other person try and disentangle the mess. On that kind of dishonest tricks, you are the utmost expert.

You charlatan of charlatans. You prostitute for Jesus. Nah, you make Jesus into a prostitute too. Good job Sye.

August 29, 2010 6:27 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Vagon: “Sye has heard these arguments before, I amongst many, many others have mentioned them to him in various comments around the place. I'm not saying he has addressed them, just that he has been asked them.”

Thanks for your comment, Vagon. Can you link to some examples? I’m interested specifically in seeing other critics of Sye’s or any other presuppositionalist’s arguments taking issue with his use of “immaterial” to characterize the laws of logic, for instance, and pointing out that it would be more appropriate to classify them as conceptual in nature. Who else has done this, and where? Who else has pointed out that Sye’s false dichotomies owe themselves to his worldview’s lack of a theory of concepts, and that correcting his understanding by reference to the objective theory of concepts would jeopardize his case for theism? Who else argues that by lumping both “God” and concepts into the same category (e.g., “immaterial”), the presuppositionalist is essentially telling us that his god is a product of his imagination (as opposed to an independently existing being), for the reasons that I cite in my blog?

Where has Sye been challenged on these points specifically? I’d love to review such exchanges, if there are any.

Regards,
Dawson

August 29, 2010 10:26 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Photosynthesis wrote: “This is why you rather have a "live" debate, where twisting works best. All you have to do is make a mess (charged questions, such as "have you stop hitting your wife? But I never hit my ... aha! you would not have to deny it if it weren't true! But it is not t ... see what I am saying? [public applauds]") and wait for the other person try and disentangle the mess. On that kind of dishonest tricks, you are the utmost expert.”

In general, I am not very interested in (or impressed by) public debates over, say, the existence of a god. For one thing, I am unpersuaded that they can accomplish much of anything of value. I can understand why some would consider such debates are irrational. Also, public debates often tend to be more about showmanship and style than ideas and content. There are exceptions, but it’s very easy for them to degrade to such level, especially when one’s opponent is arguing on behalf of an irrational position (such as Christianity).

I get the strong impression that, in presuppositionalist circles, public debates are really an occasion for hero-apologetes to pound their chests in an effort to intimidate and humiliate their opponents before a crowd, especially by causing them to trip over their own words and/or barraging them with questions which they have difficulty answering on the fly (since those questions typically cannot be answered by canned slogans, which the apologist has in great abundance). Many apologists practice debating tactics which are intended to do precisely this, and thus have already made a determination not to listen very carefully to what his opponent may say before the debate has even begun. That’s why it is so refreshing when a contender leaves the apologist doubled-over in defeat, such as when George H. Smith had his radio debate with Greg Bahnsen. In that debate, Smith held Bahnsen’s feet to the fire by focusing on the latter’s pre-packaged claims. Presuppers like to talk about the Bahnsen-Stein debate, but you don’t find them talking much about this one.

[continued...]

August 29, 2010 10:30 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

As for Sye himself, I think the reasons for suspecting him of dishonesty were pretty clear in his own comments. In his first comment, he stated “Maybe someday I'll have the time to read all that,” which I think makes it clear that he had not read my blog. In his second comment, he stated that he “simply do[es] not have the time to sift through such a long post.” In stating this, he confirms what his earlier comment indicated: that he hasn’t read my blog.

At the same time, he stated “It's not like I haven't heard these criticisms before…” This statement made me wonder how he could know what criticisms I had laid out in my blog since he had already gone to the trouble twice to say that he hasn’t read it. The two statements seem in direct conflict with each other: on the one hand, he hasn’t read what I’ve written; on the other, he knows what I have presented in what I’ve written.

When called on what very much appears to be a contradiction, Sye said that he “skimmed it,” and later huffed, “Surely a person can glean the contents of your objections by skimming a post?”

Sye was initially trying to say two things: first, that I had written “such a long post” that it couldn’t possibly worth his time to take it seriously, and second, that I’ve presented nothing new in my critiques of his proof, it’s the “same ka ka,” again not worth his time to examine. In other words, he sought to reply with dismissive insults and scornful arrogance. Meanwhile, he makes it clear that he would prefer to engage me in a verbal debate, so that I “can’t hide behind [my] keyboard” (as if I’m “hiding” by posting my writings on an internet site and interacting with my readers' comments).

To answer Sye’s question, “skimming” a paper and examining it carefully are two different things. I’m sure Sye would agree with this. Can one glean the contents of objections by skimming? Typically I wouldn’t suppose that skimming is very reliable. But maybe Sye’s a really good skimmer. Meanwhile, I’ve asked him to point us to where he’s seen my particular criticisms before, and so far he’s not produced. Even worse, if he’s aware of the criticisms I’ve raised against his proof, why hasn’t he revised it so as to avoid making the mistakes I’ve pointed out? Again, I gather that he has credibility issues.

Another point: I had stated that I will not debate someone who is dishonest. Upon announcing my policy, Sye indicated that he’s “done with” me. I was only going by what Sye had stated about himself – that he had not read my blog, and noted that this conflicted with his claim to know the content of my criticisms of his “proof.” But I did not need this to suspect Sye of dishonesty. I could tell from his “proof” that he’s dishonest, and I think some of my criticisms demonstrate this. His proof seeks to establish his god’s existence by means of cheap gimmicks and sleight of hand. An honest man does not rely on such tactics. Many of these gimmicks and devices are on display on Sye’s multimedia page, where he has four videos of a conversation he had with Eric Hovind, the president of some “creation science” organization.

Really, I don’t know how anyone could be persuaded by anything he has to say.

Lastly, if Sye’s “answer” to my question about how we can reliably distinguish between what he calls “God” and what he may merely be imagining is any indication of his intellectual prowess, it would be better to wait for a more challenging opponent.

Regards,
Dawson

August 29, 2010 10:37 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

We're going back a time now but here's a post I made over at weAreSMRT not regarding Sye specifically.

http://wearesmrt.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=609

And here again talking with "scmike" a pesupper in the comments on Comforts blog:

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5823596693953871104&postID=4322938360313106509

When I request a positive ontology, thats the questioning of the immaterial.

I should point out that I probably would say these days that I do have certainty in that it is contextual. So I let the ball drop :)

I doubt you'll find specifically the wording you used in any case but the underlying principles are there.

In any case I'll try to find the convos I've had with Sye specifically.

August 29, 2010 11:03 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

Found the one I was thinking of, starts with induction as a means for knowledge and proceeds painfully into page 3 in amongst the 640 or so posts.

http://debunkingatheists.blogspot.com/2008/12/evolution-gets-owned.html?commentPage=2

And this is a brief criticism of anselms ontological argument with further commenting on the need for a positive ontology:

http://wearesmrt.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=614

I can keep going, but I feel like I'm spamming your blog,

Cheers,
Vagon.

August 29, 2010 11:33 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

Dawson: In his first comment, he stated “Maybe someday I'll have the time to read all that,” which I think makes it clear that he had not read my blog. In his second comment, he stated that he “simply do[es] not have the time to sift through such a long post.” In stating this, he confirms what his earlier comment indicated: that he hasn’t read my blog.

Which is amusing seeing as his comments tend to span comments into the 600 mark and forum posts into the 60 and 70s and yet he cant read a thorough post.

August 29, 2010 11:37 PM  
Blogger Yog Sothoth said...

This Sye is the same kind of Nobody Apologist that you will find anywhere on the internet.

The petulant "I'll look at it if I have the chance" play, by which he means to give the impression "I'm much too busy answering REAL objections to deal with your petty nonsense" is so cliche that I actually groaned.

Then the faux-wounded "That is it! I'm taking my ball and leaving!" response to BB calling him dishonest. It's all textbook as textbook can be, exceedingly lame; the tactics of the angry and intellectually insecure.

Hurray for Dawson Berthrick! Calling out/embarrassing Presuppositional Apologists is an ugly, nasty, unrewarding job, but SOMEONE has to do it and do it well, for all of our sakes.

August 30, 2010 1:14 AM  
Blogger Sye TenB said...

Nah, I'm still around. I'll even still debate Dawson live if he ever grows some.

Cheers.

August 30, 2010 3:37 AM  
Blogger Yog Sothoth said...

He already stated that he dislikes the live debate format because it favors shallow discourse and various forms of verbal bullshittery over reasoned, thoughtful argumentation.

As it stands, he has issued a very serious challenge to your apologetic stance - answer it, or admit that you were in error. "Live debate or nothing" is obviously a deflecting/ saving face tactic.

August 30, 2010 3:58 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Sye says that deigning god reduces the world to absurdity. I'd say that deigning objective reality would reduce one's view of the world to absurdity, tho not the world itself. However given that Christianity is incompatible with the view that reality is objective, I find Sye's statements somewhat amusing.

August 30, 2010 7:47 AM  
Blogger Dylan said...

"denying God reduces one's worldview to absurdity"

You're confused.

You are the one who believes Yahweh's magical powers permeate the universe and its emergent laws. That makes YOU the one with a fucked worldview if there is no Yahweh.

As much as you'd like it to, your mythology plays no part in my worldview. Not even a cameo. I suggest you stick to what apologists are good at - reassuring people who already believe the same as you.

August 30, 2010 9:34 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Vagon,

I’ve been “skimming” the pages you linked to (a trick I’ve learned from Sye Ten Bruggencate himself!). I saw places where you inquired on the ontology of “the immaterial,” and asked for a positive identification in place of what is in fact a negative descriptor. That’s great. I wish I saw more thinkers do this. But I did not see where you pursue the matter as I have, noting that “immaterial” as it is used and exampled by the apologist essentially indicates the conceptual realm.

It’s not that I’m trying to take credit for something others have done. I ask this because I think this connection is extremely important. It is one thing to question apologists on the positive ontology of “immaterial” – which they seem unable to address definitively. It’s quite another thing to note that the apologists’ examples of what they call “immaterial” are in fact conceptualizations – i.e., products of a mental process – thereby indicating quite clearly that “God” (given its “immateriality” so conceived) is essentially nothing more than a mental product – i.e., a product of the believer’s imagination.

My point is not simply that we should question the ontology of what the apologist calls “immaterial.” This simply puts the ball back in his court.

Rather, my point is that apologists already answer this question by citing abstractions as examples of what he calls “immaterial.” This indicates more points which can be made. For instance, abstractions are not “immaterial” (a concept which has no positive definition), but in fact conceptual in nature (a positively informed descriptor), and that (a) apologists prefer to hide behind negative descriptors (like “immaterial”) in order to reserve for themselves the ability to fill in the blanks of their own ignorance (e.g., “God is a spirit,” which is unhelpful because it could mean anything; is the number ‘3’ a “spirit”?); and (b) apologists very typically prefer such descriptors, not because they are meaningful, but because they are operating on the basis of a worldview which provides no understanding of the nature of concepts to begin with. (I’ve asked numerous apologists to provide a specifically Christian theory of concepts, and so far I’ve seen no takers whatsoever.)

So my point is really several-fold: a proper understanding of the nature of concepts is vital not only to rational philosophy, but also to recognizing the fundamental bankruptcy of irrational worldviews (like Christianity); that such an understanding is key to critiquing theistic apologetics (especially presuppositionalism); that characterizing “God” as something “immaterial” and citing abstractions as examples of “the immaterial” (as Sye does in his “proof”) gives away the fact that his god is really nothing more than a product of some mental activity (i.e., imagination), etc.

[continued…]

August 30, 2010 10:40 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Let me cite an example. In one of Vagon’s links, Sye asked: “Where did you observe ‘induction?’ I’d like to have a look myself.” My answer: I observed induction in my own ability to form concepts (i.e., general classes) from the basis of perceptual awareness – i.e., from my awareness of particular objects. I observed two objects which possess similar attributes, and I observed how I formed from this basis the concept ‘round’. In doing so, I went from the specific to the general. All I need to do at that point is add the objective understanding of causality (see here), and voila: I’ve observed induction by means of introspection. Sye’s follow-up challenges ignore the fact that time and place are measurements omitted by the abstraction process. Those who understand this process of abstraction will understand my point here: concepts formed on the basis of perceptual awareness of two or more particular objects are open-ended, including all objects sharing the same common denominators, regardless of time or place. The concept 'man' for instance includes all men - whether they exist in the present, in the past, or in the future. It includes men who exist in New York City, or in the Australian outback. Time and place are omitted in the process of abstraction. So induction essentially models itself on the process of abstraction - i.e., concept-formation. Sye has no understanding of concepts, so he can only ask questions rather than raise substantial objections.

Note that Sye has not yet weighed in on the question of whether or not Christianity provides a theory of concepts. If Christianity did, do you think he would hesitate to point it out for us?

So my point is much bigger than Sye. People like Sye will come and go. But our need for a good understanding of concepts will remain with us throughout our lives. So I’m not stressing this simply as a means of defeating irrational nobodies like Sye Ten Bruggencate. I’m stressing this because proper understanding of how the mind forms concepts as a means of acquiring, integrating and retaining knowledge is a power unlike any other. It opens the doors of our minds to our own informed control. Without such an understanding, an individual will ever be susceptible to the influences of folks like Sye, who are not concerned with teaching and understanding, but with indoctrination and sacrifice.

Regards,
Dawson

August 30, 2010 10:50 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Sye: “Nah, I'm still around. I'll even still debate Dawson live if he ever grows some.”

Sye, you are one inconsistent individual. Earlier you announced that you were “done with” me. But you’ve posted comments more than once since stating this. Perhaps you’ve changed your mind; I hope you have. I'd prefer that you stick with the conversation.

But you strike me as a double-minded man. Doesn’t the bible have something to say about double-minded men? (See James 1:8.)

By “if he ever grows some,” you can only mean: if I sacrifice my standards and compromise my principles. Why would I do that? Why would you want me to do that?

If you cannot even explain how one can reliably distinguish between what you call “God” and what you may merely be imagining right here in these blog comments, how do you expect to survive in a live debate?

My opening statement could simply be this question, and the rest of the debate would consist of you painfully squirming and flailing away in unprofitable efforts to answer it, while digging yourself deeper and deeper into your own pit of futility. Some might find this enjoyable. But I already know the outcome, so I don’t see the value of such an exercise.


A question to all reading this: Sye has, to date, posted no less than nine comments in this thread. This thread follows a blog entry which I posted criticizing Sye’s own website www.proofthatgodexists.org. In those nine comments of Sye’s, can anyone find where he has provided a sustainable response to any of my criticisms?

I can't.

Regards,
Dawson

August 30, 2010 10:58 AM  
Blogger Dylan said...

On a completely related and valid note, "Sye Ten Bruggencate" sounds like a character Graham Chapman would play in a Monty Python sketch.

August 30, 2010 11:05 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Similiarly to the concept immaterial which tells only what something is not, likewise all I can say about Sye's arguement is that it is not here!

August 30, 2010 11:26 AM  
Blogger The Secular Walk said...

@Dawson Bethrick

I hate to do this Mr. Bethrick, because I greatly admire your expertise in Objectvism, and your original solution to the problem of induction, and Universality, and your amazing longevity in promoting and educating via your website, the great worldview of Objectivism, but I vehemently disagree with you saying Mr. Ten-Bruggencate is an irrational nobody. That was very harsh. This man is not an irrational nobody.

He participates in Baseball activities, he's preparing for a live debate in North Carolina. He is passionate about Christianity, and is an activist in spreading his beliefs. He probably does plenty of other things offline that we don't know about, and online, he has authored and runs a beautifully constructed website, and runs a YouTube website, and has created a supposed proof for the existence of God. A most profound question that is of importance to billions of people worldwide. This is not the actions of A NOBODY. Mr. Bruggencate is a somebody. He is doing something constructive with his life, following his passion, and trying to help his fellow man in the way he thinks is important, rather than out trying to tear society down through criminal activity. This man is not an irrational nobody. He's very, very far from it.

August 30, 2010 5:02 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

My purpose was foremost to indicate the axiom Sye unwittingly inserts into his site before God was discussed. as an adjuct to your critique of the site.

In the chat with scmike I mentioned that logic was contained within the brain, without labelling it the conceptual as you have. My lack of education leaves me wanting in philosophy.

Nevertheless you have discussed it far more eloquently and effectively than I could. Furthermore I do not think you are taking credit for anyone else work, the offered "Good job" was sincere if paltry on my part. As far as I'm aware noone has done such a comprehensive take-down of Sye's ridiculous site.

Cheers,
Vagon

August 30, 2010 5:09 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

A quick request Dawson, could you post on (or direct me to) an Objectivist look at Agrippa's Trilemma?

August 30, 2010 5:21 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Vagon

I'd say we can answer this by showing that induction ultimately rests on our recognition of the perceptually self evident. So the axiomatic approach. Dawson will no doubt expound on this in much greater detail:)

August 30, 2010 5:57 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Very good takedown of an apologist who seems to be especially egregious in his dishonesty, Dawson. In my experience, Christian apologetics rarely gets beyond logical fallacies and emotional appeals. And the way Sye weasels out of simply reading and replying to your critique (let alone answering your simple, direct question in an intelligible way), while at the same time demanding a live debate and doing the Bill O'Reilly taunt of "what are you scared?", pretty much sums up how much of an intellectual poser and egoist he really is.

August 30, 2010 11:12 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Dawson,

What is the difference between "not material" and "immaterial"?

You seem to think that "not material" is some type of third option between "material" and "immaterial", but you say that "'immaterial' only tells us what something is *not*".

How is "not material" any less contrasted with the positive "material" than "immaterial" is?

August 31, 2010 8:29 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Vagon,

Thanks for your comments. They were very helpful.

You asked: “A quick request Dawson, could you post on (or direct me to) an Objectivist look at Agrippa's Trilemma?”

I have not devoted any entries specifically dealing with this issue (also known as Munchhausen’s trilemma if I’m not mistaken). And I don’t know of any specifically Objectivist treatments which directly interact with it. (If anyone does, feel free to post a link.)

It’s been quite a while since I've read up on this myself, but if I recall it’s an argument which seeks to conclude that knowledge is impossible given three possible options: knowledge is justified either by circular reasoning, by an infinite chain of justifications, or by some foundationalist approach which affirms as basic knowledge premises which are supposedly controversial. (Did I get that right?)

On the face of it, such an argument seems self-refuting, since it affirms its premises as knowledge, and yet seeks to draw the conclusion that knowledge is impossible. Thus it seems to instance something like the fallacy of the stolen concept: it makes use of knowledge while denying knowledge.

Additionally, as Justin indicated, the Objectivist view shows that the answer to the problem of justifying knowledge in fact ultimately rests on the affirmation of the axioms (existence, identity and consciousness). It should be noted that, according to Objectivism, proof is essentially a process of logically tying that which is not perceptually self-evident to that which is perceptually self-evident. Objectivism identifies that which is perceptually self-evident in the broadest conceptual terms possible: existence exists (i.e., there is a reality), A is A (i.e., to exist is to be something), and consciousness is consciousness of something (i.e., consciousness has identity too). I.e., by means of axiomatic concepts. The axioms identify that which is perceptually self-evident, so they do not need to be proven. Also, they would have to be true in order for one to argue against them.

In my blog A Reply to Tennant on Theistic Foundationalism, I quote a passage from Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand which takes the form of a mock dialogue demonstrating this inescapability of the truth of the axioms.

Also, if I’m not mistaken, the trilemma is typically framed in terms which equate knowledge with “belief.” I don’t think that’s true. “Belief” is not the irreducible unit of knowledge so far as I see it. Rather, knowledge consists of concepts; so do beliefs. You can’t have beliefs without concepts which inform them, so I think it would be mistaken to conceive of knowledge specifically in terms of beliefs, for this misses some crucial features of human mental activity. On this, see my blog Chris Bolt on the Conditions of Knowledge.

I hope that’s helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions on this.

Regards,
Dawson

August 31, 2010 9:38 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Anonymous,

You asked: “What is the difference between ‘not material’ and ‘immaterial’?”

In terms of positive meaning, I don’t think there is much of a difference. In my blog, I gave two reasons why I think “not material” would lend to better understanding. I will repeat them in case they didn’t register:

“first it would undo the mistake of treating ‘immaterial’ as if it had a positive meaning; also, it would generate a question which Sye seems unprepared to ask: If the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality are not material, then what are they? It would be erroneous to suppose that calling them ‘immaterial’ satisfies this question.”

Since “immaterial” does not denote positive identity, and we know that whatever it is that the theist has in mind when he claims his god exists is supposed to be something that exists (and therefore would have to have positive identity), calling it “immaterial” leaves a crucial question unanswered. One would think that a theist would have some way to identify what his god is in positive terms. After all, he is urging us to accept his claim that his god exists as knowledge, and knowledge is primarily knowledge of what is, not what is not.

Of course, my proposal is geared toward improving the chances of understanding on the part of the non-theist. I realize that this is antithetical to apologetic aims (which is why I expect theists would resist my proposal), but if the non-theist is expected to “believe” the theist’s claims about his god, he should first understand what it is that he’s being asked to affirm.

Consider two scenarios:

Theist: God is immaterial.

Atheist: [confused look]

Vs.

Theist: God is not material.

Atheist: Well, if your god is not material, what is it?

Theist: (?)

In the first scenario, the theist’s calling his god “immaterial” fails to move the discussion forward in a positive manner, since we have a negation being treated as a positive identifier, when in fact it’s not. In the second scenario, by using “not material” in place of “immaterial” the theist opens the door to further inquiry: “Well, if your god is not material, what is it?” In other words, what is it in positive terms? The theist then has the opportunity to explain his claim.

The theist may say that his god is “a spirit,” but this would be problematic if he gives as an example of what is not material things which are conceptual in nature (such as Sye’s instance of the number ‘3’, which is a concept). Concepts are not “spirits”; the laws of logic are not “spirits”; the laws of thermodynamics are not ghosts; moral precepts are not angels, faeries or spooks. The theist’s god is supposed to be an independently existing conscious being. But the examples which he gives of things which he calls “immaterial” are neither independently existing nor conscious. At best this could be seen as a simple category error, but it is unclear how the theist could correct it if that is the case. He seems to have over-committed himself.

My point is that he’s actually given away the game, tacitly admitting that his god is a product of mental activity – i.e., of his imagination. If his god is in fact a product of imagination, shouldn’t this be made plain for all to see? Or do theists prefer that we suppress this truth, as he in fact does?

Regards,
Dawson

August 31, 2010 9:46 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

For those who have not yet seen this, I have cited one Christian apologist who essentially equates “the immaterial” with what is really imaginary in nature.

See my blog Is the “Immaterial” Actually Imaginary?


Sye, if you're reading, I'd be interested in seeing your response to this.

Regards,
Dawson

August 31, 2010 9:51 AM  
Blogger Vagon said...

Hi Dawson,

Thanks for your time on this, as you mentioned it is also called Munchhausen's trilemma.

I don't intend to hijack the thread, but it does seem related in that Sye (not that he has an answer) is forever questioning our basis for knowledge.

You have taken the foundationalist approach by choosing an axiom to satisfy the criteria. In this case self refutation or retortion. This is however rightly identified as an arbitrary foundation by the trilemma.

To phrase it it appears almost circular as well: "logic works because it is logical (via self refutation) that it works".

Similarly I find the traditional identity/existence/consciousness Objectivists axioms lacking, because they too are arbitrary.

In my mind I see only one solution and that is being satisfied without certainty and adopting Skepticism at this first point.

Either logic doesn't work and knowledge is absurd, or our current knowledge can be based of a suitable foundation: an axiom.

If there is absurdity (or I am crazy, or we're in the Matrix, or someone is distorting the shadows on Plato's cave etc...) then none of this discussion matters anyhow. If there is logic then we must abide by the axiom retortion.

I have heard Rand sees certainty as contextual, that a level of certainty is the degree of confidence in knowledge.

In that case it is satisfying as well, because if we want to be certain of our knowledge we need not hold it to some omnipotent standard. An omnipotent standard begs the question that anything more than human knowledge (or at least brain contained knowledge) exists.

Therefore in both the skeptical solution that embraces the possibility of adbsuridty and by Rand's limiting of human certainty we simply accept that there is no absolutely certain way to address the trilemma.

This always does my head in. Am I making sense?

August 31, 2010 5:28 PM  
Blogger NAL said...

As mentioned by DB:

Greg Bahnsen vs George Smith debate

Note the subliminal Christian messages.

August 31, 2010 8:36 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nal,

Thanks for the link. There’s a link on my blog’s main page to a .ram version of the debate as well. The entire recording is available in one file. It's under the Recommended Resources section.


Vagon,

You wrote: “I don't intend to hijack the thread, but it does seem related in that Sye (not that he has an answer) is forever questioning our basis for knowledge.”

That’s because he’s probably not listening.

As for what you stated about the trilemma, I’m not sure I follow everything you’re trying to say.

It is true that I hold to the axioms. Indeed, they are true, they are conceptually irreducible, and they identify facts which are self-evident.

But you say that they are “rightly identified as an arbitrary foundation by the trilemma.” Can you step me through the process by which the trilemma makes this determination? Is it just taken as an axiom that all axioms are arbitrary? Or does it apply some (presumably non-arbitrary) criteria which lead to the conclusion that they are arbitrary? If so, what are those criteria? How do they avoid assuming the truth of the axioms?

You wrote: “I find the traditional identity/existence/consciousness Objectivists axioms lacking, because they too are arbitrary.”

“Arbitrary” typically means without any evidence whatsoever, based on personal whim, or the like. But it would be at the very least a gross misunderstanding to say that the axioms have no evidential basis or are affirmed on the basis of whim. Perhaps you mean something else by “arbitrary”? What makes you think they’re arbitrary?

Regards,
Dawson

August 31, 2010 10:02 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

I fail to see how existence, identity, and conciseness are arbitrary. I also fail to see how the perceptually self evident fact that the relationship between conciseness and existence is objective, something known to a 3 year old, is arbitrary as well. These three concepts are truly axiomatic in that they are obvious, unavoidable and undeniable. Further their relationship to each other is implicant in every act of cognation.

August 31, 2010 10:09 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

Well by arbitrary I believe the trilemma does mean without absolute evidence. It is only when evidence is known that it is true that it becomes "evidence". Evidence could be false or noise for example. So how can you rely on evidence when the mechanism for verifying evidence is in question?

I just want to point out that as you mentioned and, I affirmed that the axiomatic foundation is something that I personally accept. There would be little point to this discussion otherwise...

That said I like the trilemma as a thought exercise. When it claims that axioms are arbitrary it means to say that there is no logical sound reason for their justification. Lets look at the "self-evident" defence, but before we start I noticed you mentioned the trilemma would presume to use non-arbitrary standards for reaching its conclusion. It does not, but that hardly seems necessary considering the conclusion it makes.

I see it as reversing retortion: You cant use logic to attack logic without losing your integrity. The trilemma shows you cant defend logic without using the thing in question. Anyhow onward with an example, conciousness seems to fit best:

Conciousness is the ability to know things that exist. How do we know we are concious? It is self-evident, as you say. What does it mean to be self evident? It means conciousness makes itself known. At this point we could come to the crossroads. Wither we:

1.Continue questioning into regress. How do we know we are knowing? etc
2.Circularly state that we know we are knowing.
3.State that knowing is defended by the fact you could never know if knowledge wasn't correct.

Or to use James statement:

"These three concepts are truly axiomatic in that they are obvious, unavoidable and undeniable."

If we follow the question "How do you know they are obvious?" far enough you'd reach one of the 3 problems.

We don't achieve much by this, indeed Rand would probably chatise us for even contemplating it, but I do believe that it indicates the logical lack of an absolute. Furthermore this isn't necessarily a bad thing in my mind and is consistent with the foolishness of Sye asking for absolute certainty in logic. By what standard does he demand absolute certainty?

August 31, 2010 11:32 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

And here in lies your problem; you state:
“How does Sye know that we “cannot account for them”? If we have the objective theory of concepts, we surely can “account for” logic, mathematics, science and morality, since these are conceptual in nature.”

The problem is you’re operating on the same Platonic assumptions that Sye is. i.e. that you have a “theory of concepts” does not give you a non-question begging path to certainty, and that’s what really lies at the heart of Sye’s argument.

Here’s your response to the problem:
“Universality is essentially nothing more than the human mind’s ability to form open-ended classifications of reference (namely mental integrations) into which new units can be integrated when they are discovered or considered. “

Really? How do you know that?

Understand that I don’t in the least agree with Sye’s argument. My contention to what you’ve said here is essentially Pragmatism vs. Platonism(realism), not theism vs. atheism (I could give a rip less about certainty, and think epistemology is a dead end road). I think you can see that after some scrutiny and further questioning, you’ll eventually NOT be able to account for “how you know” without you yourself exposing a presupposition. Perhaps it’s not your “theory of concepts”, but it will be something.

Again, you've said a lot of thoughtful things here, but since you're operating under the same philosophical foundations you end up with the same problems of circularity in accounting for absolutes and universals - you can't do it.

September 01, 2010 5:11 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

why do the people like Sye keep thinking we need to present an argument for the preceptively self evident? Do you ask your eyes for a formal proof that there is a train heading right for you before you act on this knowledge? Asking how do we know we are concision? I'd ask the questioner how he could ask that question if he himself were not! Remember obvious, undeniable, and unavoidable. Our epistemology is grounded in just that, we are not running in circles or building castles on air.

September 01, 2010 7:43 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

oops, i meant to say argument for perceptually self evident. Too early in the morning.

September 01, 2010 7:45 AM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

A note from my last post:
Rand's Objectivism is essentially Realism, hence my use of "Platonism(realism)". Of course, Rand was rather fond of Nietzsche, however unlike taking what I believe to the correct rout in displacing Platonism with Idealism, Rand sticks with Platonism.

And I mean, come on, aside from the lay fans that Rand has within the general public, does anyone in the philosophical community really give a rip about Rand anyway.

September 01, 2010 8:50 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Vagon: “Well by arbitrary I believe the trilemma does mean without absolute evidence.”

If anything exists (and something would have to exist just to consider whether or not the axioms have evidential support, or are arbitrary, etc.), then the axioms are on safe ground. Simply calling the axioms “arbitrary” (for whatever reason) affirms the axioms. Calling the axioms “arbitrary”

a. acknowledges that they exist (there’s the first axiom – existence)
b. indicates that they are arbitrary as opposed to something other than arbitrary (there’s the second axiom – identity)
c. and is an activity of some mind (there’s the third axiom – consciousness)

Vagon: “It is only when evidence is known that it is true that it becomes ‘evidence’.”

I suspect that Rand would argue that this statement here commits the fallacy she called prior certainty of consciousness. For it seems to put knowing prior to perceptual input (while perceptual input in fact precedes any knowing process). We perceive objects, and then – if we choose to – set out to identify and integrate what we perceive into a larger sum. This latter process – the process of identifying and integrating what we perceive – is the knowing process. It can’t happen without primitive awareness of objects in some form (e.g., perceptual form).

Vagon: “Evidence could be false or noise for example.”

If it is noise, it exists. So do its causes. But evidence itself is neither true nor false; true or false come into play when we start identifying and integrating the evidence.

Vagon: “So how can you rely on evidence when the mechanism for verifying evidence is in question?”

When it comes to the axioms, evidence is any perceptual input, whether it is a noise, a tree, a dog chasing a Frisbee. Awareness of objects (i.e., of evidence in this context) precedes any “mechanism for verifying” evidence, and even then, the purpose of such a mechanism could only be to verify our identification of that evidence.

Vagon: “When it claims that axioms are arbitrary it means to say that there is no logical sound reason for their justification.”

I interpret this objection to be saying that there is no sound proof for the axioms. Objectivism is quite adamant that the axioms are not conclusions of proofs, but rather pre-logical fundamentals without which logic would be impossible. We begin with perception, not with logic. I explained what proof is in my initial comment on the trilemma. I did so because it is important to this discussion. Since the axioms are prior to any argument or proof, there trilemma cannot apply, since it’s looking for how knowledge as such is proven.

Vagon: “you mentioned the trilemma would presume to use non-arbitrary standards for reaching its conclusion. It does not, but that hardly seems necessary considering the conclusion it makes.”

If the trilemma has no non-arbitrary standards or criteria by which it rules the axioms arbitrary, why take it seriously?

Vagon: “Conciousness is the ability to know things that exist.”

No, consciousness is essentially awareness of objects. Since it is an axiomatic concept, it is not definable in terms of prior concepts. It includes the ability to know things (particularly in the case of human consciousness), but it is not limited to just this.

Vagon: “If we follow the question ‘How do you know they are obvious?’ far enough you'd reach one of the 3 problems.”

This wrongly assumes a top-down analysis of knowledge. Since we have the axioms, we *begin* with incontestable certainties.

Regards,
Dawson

September 01, 2010 9:10 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew: “The problem is you’re operating on the same Platonic assumptions that Sye is.”

What makes you suppose this? Do you even know what Platonism is? Have you examined Objectivism? Certain statements of yours (including this one) suggest that you have very little informed familiarity with it.

Andrew: “i.e. that you have a ‘theory of concepts’ does not give you a non-question begging path to certainty, and that’s what really lies at the heart of Sye’s argument.”

As I mentioned in my comment to Vagon, Objectivism *begins* with incontestable certainties. It does not grope for certainty in some blind fashion, as Sye and other uninformed critics might mistakenly assume.

I wrote: “Universality is essentially nothing more than the human mind’s ability to form open-ended classifications of reference (namely mental integrations) into which new units can be integrated when they are discovered or considered. “

Andrew: “Really?”

Yes, really.

Andrew: “How do you know that?”

By rational means of knowledge, and by examining the issues. I provided a link to a post of mine which explores precisely the point I raised.

Andrew: “(I could give a rip less about certainty, and think epistemology is a dead end road).”

You’ve told us pretty much all we need to know about you, Andrew.

Andrew: “I think you can see that after some scrutiny and further questioning, you’ll eventually NOT be able to account for “how you know” without you yourself exposing a presupposition. Perhaps it’s not your “theory of concepts”, but it will be something.”

“exposing a presupposition”? You’re projecting here. We have the axioms, Andrew. We declare them explicitly and emphatically.

Andrew: “Again, you've said a lot of thoughtful things here, but since you're operating under the same philosophical foundations”

“same philosophical foundations” as what? As Sye’s? What have you been reading?

Andrew: “Rand's Objectivism is essentially Realism, hence my use of ‘Platonism(realism)’.”

Where are you getting this? Even sophomore students of Objectivism would never make a mistake like this.

Andrew: “Of course, Rand was rather fond of Nietzsche,”

Rand rejected Nietzsche quite vehemently, and for good reason. See for instance For the New Intellectual p. 36.

Andrew: “Rand sticks with Platonism.”

How so??? Can you support this with statements made by Rand (especially taken in context)?

Andrew: “does anyone in the philosophical community really give a rip about Rand anyway[?]”

A growing number of philosophers do. But do you really care about this?

Regards,
Dawson

September 01, 2010 9:30 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Dawson thank you for putting into concise words what I would have liked to have said in regards to this all too common attack on man's means to knowledge.

September 01, 2010 10:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 01, 2010 10:49 AM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 01, 2010 10:49 AM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Are you on par with Sye in at least professing that truth is absolute?

September 01, 2010 10:49 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew: “Realism holds…”

Andrew, if you’re saying that Objectivism is a species of Realism as you describe it here, I’d say you need to do your homework. Cite for instance where Objectivism affirms what you’re describing here in the sense that you’re describing it. Where does Objectivism affirm any of this?

Andrew: “the issue I’m taking is that ultimately, you’re path is no less question begging.”

How so? Where am I presenting an argument whose conclusion assumes the truth of one of its premises?

Andrew: “Just because you, ‘explicitly declare some axioms’ in no way gives you absolute certainty.”

What exactly do you mean by “absolute certainty”? How do the axioms fail to meet this category?

Andrew: “I haven’t read links to other posts you reference, however if epistemological certainty is something you would argue for, then in what way (or how) do you account for those explicitly declared axioms.”

I’ve written much on the axioms. So have other Objectivists. Do some reading on the matter. It’s there. You just need to do some homework.

Andrew: “do you hold to the idea of ‘absolute truths’, i.e. truths that exist independently, exist not in relation to other things, not relative to other things, and are true for every possible circumstance.”

Truth, on my view, is a property of identification. Identification is a mental activity which involves a consciousness’ interaction with the objects of its awareness. Truth is not some Platonic form existing in some other dimension or supernatural realm accessed by revelation or anamnesis. Some truths are general (such as the axioms, inductive conclusions at the categorical level, etc.), while other truths pertain only to particular things (such as the truth of the fact that I had two English muffins for breakfast this morning).

Andrew: “I suppose it’s one thing to suggest that truths are universal (and even leave certainty aside)”

In addition to what I stated above about general and particular truths, please try to understand that universality is an aspect of concepts. It is because concepts are open-ended (i.e., universal) that we need to qualify them when we apply them to specific objects. E.g., “this man” as opposed to “the man standing over there,” or “the students in this classroom” as opposed to “all students in New York City.” Universality and truth are not the same thing.

Andrew: “it’s quite another to say, with Sye, that truth’s are absolute.”

The context which underwrites Sye’s views of truth (even if he calls them “absolute”) is radically different from the context underwriting my views of truth. Sye thinks that truth is something authored by an invisible magic being. For Sye, truth is not governed by the inputs involved in the identification process (which is conceptual in nature).

Andrew: “In this way I suppose one could state a law of logic, and demonstrate how it’s absolute without ultimately begging the question. I’d very much like to see that – sye never has.”

For this, see the axiom of identity. It is the fundamental law of logic (logic being the art of non-contradictory identification), it is absolute (in the sense that I mean it – see below), and it is not ultimately question-begging (since it is not the conclusion of an argument).

Andrew: “Are you on par with Sye in at least professing that truth is absolute?”

As my statements above suggest, I wouldn’t say I’m “on par” with anything Sye professes. What he means by “truth is absolute” could not in any way be what I mean by “truth is absolute.” Sye’s worldview underwrites truth with the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. By contrast, mine recognizes that truth rests on the primacy of existence. According to Objectivism, truth is absolute in the sense that it does not conform to wishing, imagining, preferences, ignorance, temper tantrums, pleasure, etc.

Regards,
Dawson

September 01, 2010 11:41 AM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Perhaps I’m being lazy for the moment, and maybe the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is not the greatest source, but, it states as follows (with regard to Rand’s Objectivism):

“Our perceptual faculties place us in direct contact with reality; in this sense Rand's theory of perception is a version of direct realism, holding that the objects of perception are extramental entities (rather than, say, subjective experiences on the basis of which we infer entities as their causes).
The validity of sense-perception is not susceptible of proof, because it is presupposed by all proof—since proof just is a matter of adducing sensory evidence. Nor can its validity be denied or questioned, since the very conceptual tools one would have to use to do this are derived from sensory data and so presuppose their validity. Hence perceptual error is not strictly possible, though it is possible to misinterpret perceptual evidence—and phenomena that many would regard as perceptual illusions are instead identified by Rand either as correct perceptions misinterpreted (e.g., optical illusions) or as non-perceptions mistaken for perceptions (e.g., dreams and hallucinations).”

All of this falls nicely in line with what I said of the parasitic nature of Objectivism upon Platonism/Realism. First off, what is implicit in this short passage is the idea (which I stated) that truth is “in the world”, as apposed to in language (or a function of language). What is in the mind (and what is relfected in language) is/are not subjective experiences through which we infer entities as their cause. What is in the mind (according to Rand) is a mirrored reflection of the world in itself, thus language (truths, and axioms) are reflections of the way the world is in itselt. Thus for Rand, for something to be true (a statement in language) is for that statement in language to be a reflection of reality. But how will you ever know you've adequately refected anything?

Continued.....

September 01, 2010 3:47 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Continued....

In the next paragraph comes the issue of epistemological certainty and your statement “why do axioms fail to meet this category” - as to some degree it is hopelessly tied to such Realist accounts – because here we're now talking about how we account for these truths we say we know. You can surely relay on an axiomatic truth (for example), but that axiom in and of itself does not account for how you know that-that axiom is reliable, or how you know that your experience and the truths you derive from that are reliable. Objectivism, as stated in the second paragraph here, presupposes the validity of sense perception.

Let's take the the Law of Identity for example, A cannot be both A and /A, or the tautology AisA. In realism, is would be stated that this is a truth that is such of the world in itself, even devoid of consciousness. As you state, existence is prime. But again, the problem becomes the epistemological one of how you know that from a Realist foundation – in other words that becomes a valid question to ask from that position. However, so far as I can see at this point (and you can correct me where I'm wrong), there is no drawn out answer that won't ultimately beg the question about sense-perception; i.e. You know your senses are reliable because your experience has shown them to be reliable.
There-in lies the basis for how Sye argues against his fellow Platonist atheists (that doesn't run together so well does it). From my perspective, I disagree with both sides of the arguement and say that you're both wrong for the same reasons, i.e. Your world views both [ultimately] beg the question. Sye never took the time to debate with you here, but believe me, as someone who's debated with him extensively (and excrusiatingly) his tactic is to expose the same flaws (circularity, inability to account for) in anothers argument that exists in his own, however the catch is he doesn't hold himself to the same standard.

Myself, shit, I'm a pragmatist; I don't care about certainty and I let truth take care of itself. Again, I tend to be very Davidsonian and Rortarian in my philosophical leanings. And NOTE: I'm building up steam here Dawson, I'm actually quite interested in what you have to say about Objectivism, even though I don't ultimately lean that way.

September 01, 2010 3:49 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

On a final note you stated:
“Sye’s worldview underwrites truth with the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. By contrast, mine recognizes that truth rests on the primacy of existence. According to Objectivism, truth is absolute in the sense that it does not conform to wishing, imagining, preferences, ignorance, temper tantrums, pleasure, etc. “

This would actually be an incorrect statement of Sye's position as it relies not on the primacy of consciousness, but on the primacy of God (who exist outside the rhelm of consciousness, according to him) and God's ability to reveal truth to us. Whereas I see you making a similar argument. However in your case you're relying on the primacy of “existence” to reveal [it's] truth to consciousness. As “existence” is that objective thing that just is in itself. So again, both are question begging in the same way.

September 01, 2010 5:11 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

"I interpret this objection to be saying that there is no sound proof for the axioms. Objectivism is quite adamant that the axioms are not conclusions of proofs, but rather pre-logical fundamentals without which logic would be impossible. We begin with perception, not with logic. I explained what proof is in my initial comment on the trilemma. I did so because it is important to this discussion. Since the axioms are prior to any argument or proof, there trilemma cannot apply, since it’s looking for how knowledge as such is proven."

This sums it up nicely. Thanks.

"If the trilemma has no non-arbitrary standards or criteria by which it rules the axioms arbitrary, why take it seriously?"

Well I approach it as a thought exercise. But you're right. This is the unavoidable point we reach and plausibly why Rand avoids it - either there are these axioms or we have nothing to base the foundations of our discussion on.

"This wrongly assumes a top-down analysis of knowledge. Since we have the axioms, we *begin* with incontestable certainties."

I will argue this point in so much as I don't think its wrong to approach top down. If we take a strict fundamental approach then what we "know" comes before what we are. If our brains are stimulated in a particular way to simulate reality how would we know what we are? How would we even know that a brain is actually a mechanism for thought?

There is however no "proof" to this, because as you rightly point out the discussion itself presupposes existence as we know it.

September 01, 2010 6:57 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew,

Thanks for your comments. Some very interesting stuff, but a number of elementary errors so far as I can see.

The passage you quoted from the SEP on Objectivism speaks about Rand’s theory of perception. Realism in perceptual theory is not the same thing as Platonic Realism, or realism in regard to the problem of universals, which is what I understood your earlier comments to be about (since you were talking about truth, language, etc., and earlier challenged my views on universality). There are, of course, many types of realism, so it is always important when discussing realism to clarify what is in mind. Realism in terms of universals is the view that “that universals have a reality of their own, an extra-mental existence. Positions are often marked out, running from moderate to absolute Realism. The more definite, fixed, and eternal the status of the universals, the more absolute is the Realism.” (Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, p. 637). This of course does not describe the Objectivist view; but it does describe Plato’s view.

Referring to what you quoted from the SEP, you wrote: “All of this falls nicely in line with what I said of the parasitic nature of Objectivism upon Platonism/Realism.”

I don’t see how. What you had originally stated was the following:

“OK, well, let’s start with what I’m meaning when I use the term Platonism or Realism – of which objectivism is merely parasitic to. Realism holds the certain sorts of disctictions (for example) the appearance/distinction, the found/made distinction, it holds the idea that truth is something that exists ‘in the world’, that the world in itself is something that exists independently of human consciousness, and that language mirrors reality, or better put, represents reality.”

Where does SEP passage affirm “the appearance/distinction”? What exactly is that? What about the “found/made distinction”? What is that, and where does the SEP passage attribute it to Objectivism? The passage doesn’t even discuss Rand’s theory of truth, so I don’t see where the passage supports your attribution to Objectivism of the view that “truth is something that exists ‘in the world’” (which can be taken to mean “apart from the knower” – including the actions by which the knower identifies and integrates what he perceives). Nor does the passage speak about Rand’s views of language.

Plato’s view was that the universal or abstract has more reality than the individual concretes we perceive. In Objectivism, universals are essentially concepts, and have been misunderstood for millennia because issue of how the many and the one relate to one another got sidetracked into debates about the ontological status of universals. Rand’s theory corrects this by providing an analysis of how the mind forms open-ended mental units which condense whole constellations of data.

Moreover, you refer to Objectivism as “parasitic” in nature, but so far as I can tell you have not explained this. Can you?

Continued....

September 01, 2010 7:04 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew: “what is implicit in this short passage is the idea (which I stated) that truth is ‘in the world’, as apposed to in language (or a function of language).”

This assessment is premature, and ignores many issues in Objectivist epistemology. In essence, you’re not allowing Objectivism speak for itself here. Additionally, these expressions – “in the world” vs. “in language” or “a function of language” – are vague and widely open to interpretation. They are not exacting in their meaning. For instance, isn’t language in the world? I exist in the world, and I use language, and others around me use language. Why isn’t language “in the world”? But let me stress: Objectivism is not a version of linguistic analysis. Cf. my earlier statements about the nature of truth being a property of identification.

Andrew: “What is in the mind (according to Rand) is a mirrored reflection of the world in itself, thus language (truths, and axioms) are reflections of the way the world is in itselt.”

I don’t think even the passage you quoted from the SEP (which is not an Objectivist source to begin with) implies this. Perhaps in a very loose manner, but that would hazard some misunderstandings. It's important to note that Objectivism rejects the representationalist account of perception and all its fallacious baggage. Also, when you speak of “what is in the mind,” at this point I would think you would be referring to concepts. Concepts in Objectivism are not a “mirrored reflection of the world in itself,” but rather mental integrations based on perceptual input, which is quite different. (Rand explains this in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology). As for language, according to Objectivism, it is “a code of visual-auditory symbols that serves the psycho-epistemological function of converting concepts into the mental equivalent of concretes” (ITOE, p. 10). “The primary purpose of concepts and of language is to provide man with a system of cognitive classification and organization, which enables him to acquire knowledge on an unlimited scale; this means: to keep order in man’s mind and enable him to think.” (Ibid., p. 69)

Andrew: “Thus for Rand, for something to be true (a statement in language) is for that statement in language to be a reflection of reality.”

Not exactly: “the truth or falsehood of [an individual’s] propositions rests, not only on their relation to the facts he asserts, but also on the truth or falsehood of the definitions of the concepts he uses to assert them, which rests on the truth or falsehood of his designations of essential characteristics.” (Ibid., p. 48) In essence, a statement is true when it adheres to an objective process of identification of reality. Some have called this a version of the correspondence theory of truth. “Reflect” implies a one-to-one relationship, but in fact conceptualization allows for much, much more than this.

Continued some more...

September 01, 2010 7:07 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew: “In the next paragraph comes the issue of epistemological certainty and your statement ‘why do axioms fail to meet this category’”

Is the following paragraph the one you have in mind?

“The formation of concepts and beliefs upon this sensory basis, by contrast, is a volitional process that is quite definitely capable of being subject to error. Rand accepts sensory data as a basic, unquestionable, pre-conceptual starting-point of all knowledge, and so in that sense embraces a version of the epistemologically ‘Given’. Rand's ‘Given’, however, are extramental entities and their attributes, not propositional judgments about them; all propositional judgments are products of the volitional, conceptual level of consciousness and so are potentially fallible.”

Andrew: “as to some degree it is hopelessly tied to such Realist accounts”

The realist account of perception (as Objectivism informs it), yes. But not the realist account of universals (i.e., Platonism).

Andrew: “because here we're now talking about how we account for these truths we say we know.”
An important point which the above paragraph points out is the fact that concept-formation “is a volitional process that is quite definitely capable of being subject to error.” It is because we are not infallible thinkers that we need an *objective* process for formulating our knowledge of the world. By contrast, perceptual awareness is autonomic, non-volitional, and infallible (since there’s no such thing as a “mistake” in perception). Fallibility enters where volition comes into the process – that is in the process by which we identify and integrate what we perceive.

Andrew: “You can surely relay on an axiomatic truth (for example), but that axiom in and of itself does not account for how you know that-that axiom is reliable, or how you know that your experience and the truths you derive from that are reliable.”

I don’t think Objectivism ever argues that it does.

Andrew: “Objectivism, as stated in the second paragraph here, presupposes the validity of sense perception.”

Objectivism recognizes that perception is essentially a non-volitional, autonomic function of biological organisms. Sense perception is thus just as valid as digestion or photosynthesis, and for essentially the same reasons.

Andrew: “Let's take the the Law of Identity for example, A cannot be both A and /A, or the tautology AisA. In realism, is would be stated that this is a truth that is such of the world in itself, even devoid of consciousness.”

The axiom of identity in Objectivism holds that a thing is what it is independent of consciousness. For instance, if I perceive a tree but choose to integrate it into the concept ‘ball’, the tree does not become a ball. Reality does not realign itself in order to accommodate my conscious intentions. If this is what you mean by “devoid of consciousness,” I guess you can say this. But since the axiom of identity is an *axiom* – i.e., a fundamental recognition about reality – a knower is required (and for precisely this reason).

Andrew: “As you state, existence is prime.”

In the context of the subject-object relationship, yes.


And more...

September 01, 2010 7:11 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew: “But again, the problem becomes the epistemological one of how you know that from a Realist foundation – in other words that becomes a valid question to ask from that position.”

Since knowing in Objectivism is essentially a process of identification (and also integration), we know this implicitly just by perceiving and attempting to identify and interact with what we perceive. The primacy of existence itself is an axiom (Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 24). Just as perception is perception of some object, knowledge is knowledge of some object. There is a relationship involved in all this, between the subject of consciousness and its object[s]. It is perceptually self-evident that the two do not switch places; it is also perceptually self-evident that the objects of our consciousness do not conform to our conscious intentions. I can look at a tree and imagine that it’s a house, but a tree it remains.


Andrew: “However, so far as I can see at this point (and you can correct me where I'm wrong), there is no drawn out answer that won't ultimately beg the question about sense-perception; i.e. You know your senses are reliable because your experience has shown them to be reliable.”

Actually, this is not the Objectivist approach to the matter. Objectivism recognizes that sense perception is non-volitional and autonomic (as I pointed out above). Our sensory organs are existents too – they are what they are and operate as they do independent of our conscious intentions (try seeing five thousand dollars in your hand when you’re holding only a dollar bill). Again, prior certainty of consciousness (an implicit premise underlying your objection) is a fallacy according to Objectivism. This is not an argument for the validity of sense perception which appeals to its reliability in experience, so there’s no question-begging here. As Peikoff rightly points out, “the validity of the senses is an axiom” (OPAR, p. 39).

One more...

September 01, 2010 7:12 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: “Sye’s worldview underwrites truth with the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. By contrast, mine recognizes that truth rests on the primacy of existence. According to Objectivism, truth is absolute in the sense that it does not conform to wishing, imagining, preferences, ignorance, temper tantrums, pleasure, etc. “

Andrew: “This would actually be an incorrect statement of Sye's position as it relies not on the primacy of consciousness, but on the primacy of God (who exist outside the rhelm of consciousness, according to him) and God's ability to reveal truth to us.”

If Sye’s god is supposed to be a conscious being, and the elements making up the universe are said to have been created by this being’s conscious activity (i.e., by an act of will), then we have the primacy of consciousness here. The so-called “primacy of God” is not a legitimate position in the issue of metaphysical primacy; this just moves the issue to whose consciousness holds metaphysical primacys. The issue pertains to the orientation in the subject-object relationship. The view that the subject of consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over its objects is all over Christianity.

Also, if Sye’s god exists outside of the realm of human consciousness, then why are the examples of “immaterial” things which he and other presuppositionalists cite always some product of mental activity (such as concepts)?

Andrew: ”Whereas I see you making a similar argument. However in your case you're relying on the primacy of ‘existence’ to reveal [it's] truth to consciousness. As ‘existence’ is that objective thing that just is in itself. So again, both are question begging in the same way.”

Nowhere does Objectivism characterize existence as “revelatory.” The issue of metaphysical primacy is in fact inescapable; every statement, position, thesis, etc., has implications in terms of the orientation between consciousness and its objects. I do not see Sye making the case for this, or integrating it into his proof. So we are certainly not making similar arguments. Nor am I begging the question by raising the issue.

Regards,
Dawson

September 01, 2010 7:12 PM  
Blogger The Secular Walk said...

@Andrew Louis

"I disagree with both sides of the arguement and say that you're both wrong for the same reasons, i.e. Your world views both [ultimately] beg the question."



Mr.Louis is totally and utterly wrong here, and horribly confused on what it means to beg the question.

To beg the question, is to assume as true, what you have yet to prove, or were supposed to be proving.

Now, what does it mean to ASSUME? It means to take something to be the case, or a fact, without proof or verification. With this articulated, we see that Mr. Louis is wrong. The Objectivist worldview does not beg the question, because the foundation upon which it grounds truth and actualizes reality, is existence as a conceptual whole. Existence as a conceptual whole is not assumed, since it is self-evident, perceptually validated objectively, and axiomatic.

September 01, 2010 8:42 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

Andrew, Dawson says this: "The issue of metaphysical primacy is in fact inescapable; every statement, position, thesis, etc., has implications in terms of the orientation between consciousness and its objects."

And its true. By even contemplating the axiom of existence you are supporting it.

Without it there is absurdity which, not only cannot facilitate debate, but does not allow for it.

September 01, 2010 8:44 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Vagon:
“Andrew, Dawson says this: "The issue of metaphysical primacy is in fact inescapable; every statement, position, thesis, etc., has implications in terms of the orientation between consciousness and its objects."

And its true. By even contemplating the axiom of existence you are supporting it.

Without it there is absurdity which, not only cannot facilitate debate, but does not allow for it.”

What metaphysical primacy are you supporting here? What philosophical position are you trying to endorse? I guess I’m not certain what you’re arguing for here, perhaps you can give an example.

September 02, 2010 5:04 AM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Dawson,
on second thought, my respond is likely going to be a bit legthy, so I will later post it on my own blog (so I don't have to split it up here) and you can respond on your own blog if you're game for that.

I'm jsut interested in having this discussion if you are.

September 02, 2010 7:01 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew,

As I indicated in my previous messages, it’s clear that you are approaching this discussion at a severe disadvantage by not having better familiarity with Objectivism. The issues you are raising have all been covered in the Objectivist literature. So interacting with your statements is essentially a task of correcting mistakes that could be avoided if you studied Objectivism for yourself. While I wish I had the time to do this, I must admit it does get a bit tiresome.

For instance, you say that “’self-evident’ (to say that something is self evident) evokes the Cartesian sphere,” but Objectivism does not have what Descartes had in mind when he called certain truths self-evident. You say “there’s no way I or anyone can validate a self evident claim to certainty that another person makes by climbing into anothers head,” but Objectivism does not require us to climb into someone else’s head in order to validate self-evident claims. Since Objectivism is based on *perceptually* self-evident *recognitions*, we are not evoking the Cartesian sphere, and since Objectivists know that they are not the only ones who perceive things (non-Objectivists do too), we don’t need anyone climbing into our heads to perceive what we perceive. Anything one perceives is self-evident - i.e., given in immediate awareness (Objectivism has a very specific meaning of perception). If I perceive a tree, that tree is self-evident to me. It would be self-evident to anyone else standing in the same spot who was not blind. This is not question begging, because it’s not an inference to begin with. It can’t beg the question, for it is not a matter of attempting to draw a conclusion from prior knowledge.

You asked another question: “You are saying that existence is in itself, self evident. BUT, how do you know that? … how do you know that ‘A’ cannot be both ‘A’ and ‘/A’ at the same time? If you say it’s self evident, that it’s an axiom, or axiomatic I can simply ask, ‘How do you know that’.”

I think what you’re missing here is the general conception of knowledge which Objectivism is working off of. Objectivism teaches that we form our knowledge (by means of a process of concept-formation) on the basis of perceptual input. We have a theory of concepts which details this process. It is by means of conceptualization that we know what we know. How do you know that a truck is a truck? How do you know that a duck quacks? How do you know that machines reduce human labor? You know this by means of a process of conceptualizing, beginning with sense perception, and continuing with abstraction from abstractions. As I pointed out previously, Objectivism does not conceive of knowledge in terms of “beliefs,” but in terms of concepts.

In the case of existence, the answer to your question has to do with the meaning of the concept ‘existence’ as much as it does with the process by which we formed it. The concept ‘existence’ is the widest of all concepts and denotes everything we perceive (and lots more). We know that the concept ‘existence’ denotes everything we perceive because we formed it to do specifically this. We know this because we form the concept ‘existence’ on the basis of what we directly perceive, to identify and integrate everything we perceive, including ourselves as conscious beings, including our action of perceiving.

Continued...

September 02, 2010 9:15 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

So how do we know that existence is self-evident? We know this because we formed the concept ‘existence’ on the basis of direct perceptual input.

Since the concept ‘existence’ is so formed, and since we formed it through our own mental actions, all we need to do is attend to the process by which we formed it to be recognize beyond any doubt (i.e., with certainty) that existence – i.e., the objects which the concept ‘existence’ subsumes – is self-evident. Since the concept ‘existence’ is axiomatic (it identifies that which is perceptually self-evident, it is not definable in terms of previously formed concepts, it is conceptually irreducible, etc.), and since all perception is perception of some object, the concept ‘existence’ is implicit in any perception by a consciousness which possesses the ability form concepts. What the axiom of existence does is make the implicit explicit, as knowledge that is both understood and incontestable. It is the tie between abstract knowledge and primitive awareness.

Also, concept-formation does not take place in a vacuum, producing results (i.e., concepts) which then need to somehow correlated with or married to what we perceive on the hopes that they perchance match. This ties into the Objectivist view that knowledge has a hierarchical structure – with its basis in perception (which gives knowledge its content), and its scaffolding conceptual in nature (which ensures a logical structure).

How do we know that our senses are reliable? What would mean to say that our senses are unreliable? If I perceive an object, my senses are reliable – they are doing what senses do by virtue of their nature: responding to external stimuli, transmitting sensations to the brain, and automatically integrating those senses into percepts. If we perceive entities qua entities (i.e., a car as a car rather than a chaotic blob of sensory qualities with only fleeting duration of the immediate moment). Objectivism argues that conceptualization would not be possible without the integrating function of perception (which is an autonomic, non-volitional process of the body).

Beyond that, it’s not clear what your objection is, unless it’s based on the assumption (which Objectivism holds to be erroneous) that all knowledge must be proven. Again, I explained what the function of proof is according to Objectivism. The alternative to proof is not faith, but axiomatic knowledge – concepts formed directly on the basis of perceptual input, on the basis of objects which we perceive directly. There’s no circularity here, since axioms are not conclusions of argument or derived by a process of inference.

But don’t take my word for any of this. Check out Objectivism from its primary sources, beginning with Rand’s own writings. I think that will go a long way in clearing up some elementary confusions.

Regards,
Dawson

September 02, 2010 9:21 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew,

I notice that your comment responding to The Secular Walk has not posted to my blog for some reason. I received it in my inbox from Blogger, so as far as I can tell it should have posted to my blog. Did you delete it? (I don't see any entry noting that it was deleted by its author.) If want me to re-post it, please let me know, I'd be happy to do so.

Thanks,
Dawson

September 02, 2010 9:29 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

I must say I really like where this thread is going. I have maintained that the axioms of objectivism lay at the root of the matter. The real reason presuppositionalism and all forms of subjectivity fail, as well as the skepticism of the Agrippa's Trilemma. I look forward to seeing how this goes.

September 02, 2010 9:42 AM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 02, 2010 5:51 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 02, 2010 5:53 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Dawson,
on second thought, let me slow this down a bit – you've got a bit more time to articulate then I so I'd like to try and take this apart piece by piece maybe (or what I'll call that for thow). First off you stated that Objectivism rejects a representational theory of truth, yet embraces a correspondence theory of truth – I wouldn't say theres a difference. Correspondence theory has taken on many different titles, for instance; represent, conformity to, accordance, copying, adherence, mirroring, etc.. The basic idea is that truth (some component of language, a spoken fact), represents, corresponds with, or mirrors some aspect of reality, some aspect of sensation, or some aspect of consciousness – depending on whether ones realist leanings are (for example) Platonist (external forms/concepts) or Romantic (internal).

To note, you stated:
“It's important to note that Objectivism rejects the representationalist account of perception and all its fallacious baggage “

Then you state:
“In essence, a statement is true when it adheres to an objective process of identification of reality. Some have called this a version of the correspondence theory of truth. “Reflect” implies a one-to-one relationship, but in fact conceptualization allows for much, much more than this.”

So then, how does this escape representaionalist baggage? Rather then saying, “It's true when it adheres (again, adheres is more representational lingo) to the objective world”, you've somewhat dubiously stated, “it's true when it adheres to an objective process of identification.” However that “objective process” has within it the idea that what we're adhering to is nonetheless some objective thing, and so still does not escape my questions about certainty. All you're saying is that the objective world isn't what's being adhered to, but this mysterious objective “process”. But you're still adhereing (which is the point) and you still have not accounted for that adhering.

continued...

September 02, 2010 5:57 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

You quote here:
“As for language, according to Objectivism, it is “a code of visual-auditory symbols that serves the psycho-epistemological function of converting concepts into the mental equivalent of concretes” (ITOE, p. 10). “The primary purpose of concepts and of language is to provide man with a system of cognitive classification and organization, which enables him to acquire knowledge on an unlimited scale; this means: to keep order in man’s mind and enable him to think.”

Here again we have more dialogue which has within it the sent of representationalism. Language is a “code” that converts concepts (which are derived from the senses and the objective world) into mental equivilents. In what way then, are these codes equivilent might I ask? Are the equivilent in that they adhere to the conceptual, and thus adhere to the senses and thus adhere with reality. I mean that follows from what you've stated above to be sure.

continued...

September 02, 2010 5:58 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

You state:
“The axiom of identity in Objectivism holds that a thing is what it is independent of consciousness... But since the axiom of identity is an *axiom* – i.e., a fundamental recognition about reality – a knower is required (and for precisely this reason).”

Okay, so lets take this on. On the one hand you say that a thing is what it is independent of consciousness. This again implies that truth exists IN reality – things are what they are independent of us, which is yet another point I've made. Then you turn around and say, essentially, a knower is required for an axiom to in essence be, so in fact a thing is not what it is outside of consciousness. And note, when I say outside of consciousness, I mean devoid of mind, outside of mind.

You state:
“Since knowing in Objectivism is essentially a process of identification (and also integration), we know this implicitly just by perceiving and attempting to identify and interact with what we perceive. The primacy of existence itself is an axiom (Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 24). Just as perception is perception of some object, knowledge is knowledge of some object.”

Should I just ignore the tautology here? Again, you're simply avoiding accounting for anything, and trying to avoid question begging by simply asserting things as being axiomatic, and therefore they just are. But that in itself is question begging.

conintued...

September 02, 2010 5:59 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

You state:
“Objectivism recognizes that sense perception is non-volitional and autonomic (as I pointed out above).”

Sure, but you're dodging the problem now and simply re-asserting that perception is perception. Once again, a tautology.

Then you follow that up with:
“Again, prior certainty of consciousness (an implicit premise underlying your objection) is a fallacy according to Objectivism. This is not an argument for the validity of sense perception which appeals to its reliability in experience, so there’s no question-begging here. As Peikoff rightly points out, “the validity of the senses is an axiom”

Right, and now we're right back to perception is perception, more tautologies, more presuppositions. Again, all you're saying is that perception in itself is axiomatic, thereby you feel like you've escaped having to account for it. But that's just plain old bonkers, Dawson. You're saying, I don't need to argue for the validity of my senses, because my senses are my senses – I know I can rely on them because I can rely on them.

continued...

September 02, 2010 6:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Finally, something else you haven't explained. How do connect the objective world, to the senses, to concepts, and to language? How do you know that the “coded” sound that funnels from the mouth amounts to anything like an adherence to anything? Just by calling perception an axiom, doesn't somehow give you a pass in accounting for how gap between language and the objective worlds works in terms of adherence, and I dont think your seeing that. You're having your cake and eating it too. Want to escape question begging, just call your object an axiom and label it self evident, your object is your object. Come on, Dawson.

Nice talking to you by the way...

September 02, 2010 6:00 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

What metaphysical primacy are you supporting here? What philosophical position are you trying to endorse? I guess I’m not certain what you’re arguing for here, perhaps you can give an example.

No problem. I'd say I bridge scepticism and objectivism. In that, I agree strictly with Agrippa's Trilemma, but in the process of acting (eg I think, agree with or critique the trilemma) I am forced to support Objectivist axioms and conclusions by my actions. To not do so is absurd.

As an example you are criticising presuppositions, but the very act of you criticising is founded on the axioms of existence, identity and conciousness.

Its retortion at its finest. You literally cannot rationally pursue your argument without defending those axioms.

Objectivism (from my admittedly limited understanding) doesn't seek to defend the axioms it simply acknowledges they exist and moves on because there can be no rational argument not to accept them.

September 02, 2010 6:55 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

Andrew I noticed you were asking for certainty of the presuppositions, because you take the axioms to be presuppositions.

There are two things I'd like to point out here:

1. As mentioned earlier in asking the question you are affirming Dawson's position. E.g. existence is axiomatic, otherwise your asking would be pointless/absurd.

2. You are demanding certainty, in absolute terms, yet you have not supported this demand. Certainty is just a degree of confidence in human knowledge (what other knowledge is there?). To demand absolute certainty is to hold certainty to an omnipotent standard.

September 02, 2010 7:23 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

To quote Peikoff:

"All the main attacks on certainty depend on evading its contextual character . . . .

The alternative is not to feign omniscience, erecting every discovery into an out-of-context absolute, or to embrace skepticism and claim that knowledge is impossible. Both these policies accept omniscience as the standard: the dogmatists pretend to have it, the skeptics bemoan their lack of it. The rational policy is to discard the very notion of omniscience. Knowledge is contextual—it is knowledge, it is valid, contextually."


Leonard Peikoff, “The Philosophy of Objectivism”
lecture series (1976), Lecture 6

September 02, 2010 7:27 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew: “you've got a bit more time to articulate then I

Actually, I have very little time. Tomorrow (Friday) I’m going out of town and will have a very busy weekend.

Also, it’s becoming less and less profitable addressing your objections, because they are filled with so many elementary mistakes as well as a nagging unfamiliarity with the subject matter (namely Objectivist epistemology). I have tried to correct many of your errors, but you seem to possess a boundless ability to come back with more in hand.

For instance, you wrote: “First off you stated that Objectivism rejects a representational theory of truth,”

No, I did not say this. I wrote (and I quote): “Objectivism rejects the representationalist account of perception.”

You even quoted this statement of mine in your response. A theory of perception and a theory of truth are two different things.

I suspected that you had some knowledge of the history of philosophy – the representationalist view of perception having quite a lineage – and that you would understand what I was saying here. The representationalist view essentially says that we perceive appearances of things. Objectivism holds that this is false (it commits the fallacy of the stolen concept), and that we are perceive things directly (not their appearances). In Objectivism, appearance is the *form* in which we see something, but what we’re seeing is the thing itself, not a representation of it.

So when you say “I wouldn’t say there’s a difference” between what you call “the representationalist theory of truth” and the correspondence theory of truth, I don’t really know what you could mean here. Again, you seem unwilling to allow Objectivism to present its own position, or to take the time to absorb it. As I suggested earlier, it would be beneficial – if you’re seriously interested in learning about Objectivism – to study its primary sources.

You wrote: “However that ‘objective process’ has within it the idea that what we're adhering to is nonetheless some objective thing, and so still does not escape my questions about certainty.”

I guess you’ll have to make your questions about certainty more clear. Given what you’ve stated so far (and the corrections that I’ve had to make in very little time to spend on this), I’ve done my best to address your objections.

Andrew: “All you're saying is that the objective world isn't what's being adhered to, but this mysterious objective ‘process’.”

In the true sense of the word, the world is not objective – it just exists. Objectivity has to do with epistemological method, or process. (See Peikoff, OPAR, p. 117)

Andrew: “But you're still adhereing (which is the point) and you still have not accounted for that adhering.”

How do you know this, Andrew? Are you certain that I’ve not accounted for the adhering that I’ve spoken about?

Continued...

September 02, 2010 10:10 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Regarding the quotations I gave about language being a code symbols, Andrew wrote:

“Here again we have more dialogue which has within it the sent [scent?] of representationalism.”

How so? Where does anything in what I stated suggest the representationalist theory of perception that I mentioned?

Andrew: “Language is a ‘code’ that converts concepts (which are derived from the senses and the objective world)”

Careful here. Concepts are formed by a specific process on the basis of perceptual input.

Andrew: “into mental equivilents. In what way then, are these codes equivilent might I ask?”

Again, careful here: the code of symbols which is language converts concepts “into the mental equivalent of concretes” (emphasis added) – in other words, the code of symbols allows the mind to manage concepts as units, thus overcoming (an understatement here) the limitations of the crow epistemology.

Andrew: “This again implies that truth exists IN reality”

What do you mean by “truth exists IN reality”? What exactly do you mean by “truth”? I’m asking, not to be a nuisance, but to understand your interpretations – in this case, what you take to be implications of – my statements. I fully grant that both the knower and the objects he perceives exist in reality. Hopefully this is not so controversial that it trips you up some more. But as I had stated earlier, truth “is a property of identification. Identification is a mental activity which involves a consciousness’ interaction with the objects of its awareness.” Both the knower (the subject of consciousness) and the objects of his awareness exist in reality, so is there a problem here? We do not hold that truth is a property of things which exist in the world apart from a knower; things simply exist. We don’t say “this rock is true” or “that rock is not true.”

Andrew: “Then you turn around and say, essentially, a knower is required for an axiom to in essence be, so in fact a thing is not what it is outside of consciousness.”

You’re confusing recognition with the objects of recognition. Axioms are baseline recognitions, and recognitions are actions that consciousness performs. It is a fact that things which exist are what they are independent of consciousness, while the axiom of identity is the recognition (performed by some consciousness) of this fact.

I wrote: “Just as perception is perception of some object, knowledge is knowledge of some object.”

Andrew: “Should I just ignore the tautology here?”

Not at all. I wrote what I wrote for a reason, so that some of this might sink in. Tautologies whose reference is to reality are of course true (just as 2 + 2 = 4 is a tautology which is true). My point in stating the above was to emphasize the importance that conscious activity (perceiving, knowing, etc.) always involves some object. This is important to point out because it’s so often ignored or overlooked by many thinkers.

Continued...

September 02, 2010 10:12 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew: “Again, you're simply avoiding accounting for anything, and trying to avoid question begging by simply asserting things as being axiomatic, and therefore they just are.”

How do you know this, Andrew? Are you certain that I’m “simply avoiding accounting for anything, and trying to avoid question begging by simply asserting things as being axiomatic”? I do not say that things are axiomatic because I’m trying to avoid question-begging arguments. Rather, I’m saying they’re axiomatic because they are axiomatic. We need to start somewhere. The axioms are where we start. If you think we start somewhere else, by all means, feel free to present your view.

Andrew: “But that in itself is question begging.”

I guess my labor to date has been all for naught. As I pointed out before, we do not need to prove the axioms; they are not conclusions of arguments; they are not inferred from previous knowledge. We do not need to prove that existence exists, or that things are what they are independent of consciousness. Do you think we do need to prove these things? Do you think we cannot be certain of these axioms without proving them? Again, I’m unclear on what specifically your objection is here.

Andrew: “Again, all you're saying is that perception in itself is axiomatic, thereby you feel like you've escaped having to account for it.”

What I stated (and I really thought I was clear about this) is that the *validity* of the senses is an axiom. I quoted Peikoff specifically stating exactly this. But in your carelessness to attend to what I have written, you wander off complaining about something that I did not really say.

What exactly is it that you think I need to account for, and why? And how exactly do you know that I haven’t accounted for it in what I’ve stated?

Andrew: “You're saying, I don't need to argue for the validity of my senses, because my senses are my senses – I know I can rely on them because I can rely on them.”

That’s not what I wrote, Andrew. I suggest you go back and examine what I did write more carefully. As I pointed out, “Sense perception is thus just as valid as digestion or photosynthesis, and for essentially the same reasons.” Like digestion and photosynthesis, sense perception is a biological function. There’s no such thing as an invalid sense perception. Somehow I suspect this won’t sink in though.

Andrew: “How do [you?] connect the objective world, to the senses, to concepts, and to language?”

Good grief! Andrew, have you not been understanding anything I’ve written so far? For one thing, there’s nothing I have to do to “connect” my senses to the world. It is automatic and beyond my control. Try shoving your hand into a running garbage disposer (something in the world) and not sensing pain. Similarly, my perception of entities qua entities is also automatic and beyond my control. I cannot look at a book and not see it as an object distinct from other objects. From there, we form concepts, which is a volitional process (Rand analyzes this process in her book Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology). From there, we assign words to label the concepts which we have formed in order to manage and organize them economically as distinct units. Again, this is explained in Rand’s book.

Continued (just one more!)...

September 02, 2010 10:14 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew: “How do you know that the ‘coded’ sound that funnels from the mouth amounts to anything like an adherence to anything?”

I’m somewhat speculating here, but I think, for the most part, the process of learning the correspondence of language symbols to specific concepts is automatized memorization which is reinforced by repetition and use. I’ve done a lot of language study (I have a degree in one foreign language), and I think this is generally accurate. Rand likened conceptualization to a filing process, and I think she’s right. When learning a language (which is what it appears you’re inquiring on), we are essentially filing symbols with their corresponding concepts. But there are indeed many instances when I haven’t known what the verbal codes being used around me correspond to, such as when my mother-in-law (who does not speak English) tries to communicate with me in her native Thai. I can pick out words here and there, but not the entirety, which only confirms my somewhat speculative thought above.

Andrew: “Just by calling perception an axiom,”

Again, more carelessness. I did not call *perception* an axiom. I said (or rather quoted Peikoff saying) that “the validity of the senses is an axiom.”

Andrew: “doesn't somehow give you a pass in accounting for how gap between language and the objective worlds works in terms of adherence,”

I’ve drawn your attention to the objective theory of concepts. I don’t know how one could account for what you’re asking about without a theory of concepts. It may simply be that you’re unfamiliar with the mechanics of this process, and thus figure that I’m somehow evading some significant burden here.

Regards,
Dawson

September 02, 2010 10:16 PM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Great post Dawson. Usual response from Sye.

There are two angles here

1) The academic angle - which is the meat of your posta nd your interactions with Andrew Louis.

2) Syes usual challenge to a debate.

The academic angle is not something that I'm actually that interested in.

I am very interested in Syes repeated challenges to a debate, because it shows what it is really going on here.

Sye prefers a live debate because he is an experienced debater (despite any denials) and has a good game plan. Thus he can smooth over any inconsistancies (explaining how he can differentiate between a revelation that would give him certainty and an hallucination that would not) and instead focus on examining his opponents worldview and disappearing down the 'how do you know' rabbit hole.

Syes arguments fail under forum pressure - we've seen that here on this blog, my blog and on the Premier forums.

If the opportunity arises though for a live debate I'd be up for it if you need someone.

September 03, 2010 1:06 AM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 03, 2010 4:49 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Dawson, for the record, if you can’t properly articulate an objectivist theory of truth in some coherent way, I see no reason to look into it more (as you’d suggest I do). The fact remains that the language you’re using is consistent with what I’ve been saying, and now you’ve resigned yourself to saying that “I just don’t get it” (esentially), because you just can’t speak to what your actual theory of truth even is. When I use representation, I’m talking NOT about the relationship between object and perception per se, I’m talking about the relationship between TRUTH and what we say we’re perceiving. And TRUTH, as we know it, is contained within the language practices that we have, the things we say, the facts we present etc.. The only manner with which you’ve addressed any of my objections is the same manner with which Sye addresses his, and that is to be a bully that just keeps re-asserting his prime axiom, and that is, that this thing of yours just is, with no real reason at all to accept it.

continued...

September 03, 2010 4:51 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Here, Dawson, here’s a perfect example, you responded as such to me:
“How do you know this, Andrew? Are you certain that I’ve not accounted for the adhering that I’ve spoken about?”

That response is Sye TenB 101, for those who have debated with Sye. Let’s take language for example. You’ve explicitly stated that what you’re perceiving is actual things in themselves. If that’s true, then it follows (no matter how you make the connections) that truth (what we speak as a matter of fact) are representations, or adherences of/to those perceptions of things in themselves. If you say that-that actually isn't true, then on what basis can you assert that what you're perceiving is actually a thing in itself? Again, I'm sure you'll just re-assert your prime axiom again, in which case, “yawn”.

continued...

September 03, 2010 4:52 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Honestly, this is laughable:
“How do you know this, Andrew? Are you certain that I’m “simply avoiding accounting for anything, and trying to avoid question begging by simply asserting things as being axiomatic”? I do not say that things are axiomatic because I’m trying to avoid question-begging arguments. Rather, I’m saying they’re axiomatic because they are axiomatic. We need to start somewhere. The axioms are where we start. If you think we start somewhere else, by all means, feel free to present your view.”

I don’t care, myself, about certainty, but I’ll get to that. However within your philosophical position you hold YOURSELF to that, and you seem to be blind to that point. Again, this response, (and Vagon will understand this) is Sye TenB 101, and pure intellectual dishonesty. You say above that you're not defining perception as axiomatic because you're trying to avoid a question begging argument, but because it just is axiomatic, however once again you've given no account of how that's so and/or how you know that to be the case. So once again, “yawn”. I mean really, in a sense you're no better then the christian you fight against who can't prove God but tells you to go read the bible because it's in there. i.e. if you can't demonstrate the veracity of you claim, show how perception is an axiom, then you fail. The burden is on you, not me.

September 03, 2010 4:52 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

So let me start with Descartes, that portly French guy who sat in his chalet staring at wax candles (literally). After completing his meditations he came to one big conclusion, and that was that the only thing he could be certain of was the, “I think, therefore I am”, thereby creating what we call today, “The Cartesian sphere”. That he was, that he existed, indeed that he perceived was Descartes prime axiom, it was that one thing that was so self evident we simply could not deny it. You make a similar case, but all you say is, “perception is perception”.

September 03, 2010 4:53 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

So why is the Cartesian sphere a problem? There are of course, many reasons, but I’m just going to focus on one, which is making a claim about “just being” or about “perception just being perception”, is a report of internal states, and not just your internal states, but my internal states, Vagon’s internal states, and everyone elses internal states. You are saying that I cannot deny that I perceive, but of course I can; you have absolutely no idea whether or not I’m just some random meat puppet with no emotion or feeling what so ever, there is absolutely no way for you to prove otherwise. Likewise, I have no way of knowing the same such things about you. As well, by holding the position you do you hold yourself accountable to the epistemic question of how you know that what you’re reporting is true, i.e. it becomes important to the philosophical position – It’s implicit within, parasitic upon. If the facts you report, either about reality or about internal states, are intended to adhere with the reality you’re perceiving in and of itself, then how do you know that anything you say (with certainty) is anything like what you’re perceiving?

September 03, 2010 4:54 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Let me break that down with a very simple analogy. Suppose you say, following perception, that you love tacos – so now you’re making a report about your self-evident perception, and (from your perspective) about the status of you internal states (as perception in itself is an internal state per se). Now, can you provide actual proof that you’re certain you love tacos? Perhaps you don't really love tacos and you're just chowing one down to make me believe that, or maybe some evil demon has taken control of your mind and is making you think you love tacos, or maybe your just a meat puppet that randomly reports, asserts, and behaves in certain ways. Of course, again, we cannot all climb into each others heads and demonstrate with certainty the nature of the reports we make regarding internal states are true, nor should we even worry about doing so. The best we can do is glean from people through dialogue and behavior what ones future behavior might be.

September 03, 2010 4:54 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

As another example, there's no way for me to demonstrate to anyone that my wife actually loves me, or for that matter that she actually perceives anything. Rather, when I report that my wife loves me, I'm reporting something about her behavior (towards me) as we see it within a rich western cultural society. I'm saying that her behavior towards me is consistent with what we in the west consider love – she cares for me (in countless ways) puts up with my crap, laughs at my jokes, has sex with me, gets me a beer, etc. etc.. Likewise if I were to say of her that she perceives, I'm not saying of her that she possesses some internal axiomatic state, I'm merely saying that her behavior (both past, present, and statistically the future) are consistent with those things that we call perceptive beings. In this way I'm shifting the discussion from internal state reporting (and the circular baggage it holds), to reporting about behavior. Because at best that's all we can really fruitfully talk about and make sense of without relying ourselves upon unaccounted for axioms and circular reasonings.

September 03, 2010 4:55 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Bottom line is that the statement “perception is perception” (as an axiom), is a reporting of an internal subjective state; that you perceive, (even though you regard it as an axiom) is a claim about something internal. Of course you MAY not agree with this, but so far you've done nothing to demonstrate otherwise. There is no way to prove the validity of internal states outside of blind assertions, no way to prove that everyone else out there isn't just a meat puppet, or in fact that you yourself are not just a meat puppet. So unless you have something to say that isn't just a reasserting of your prime axiom, or a comment that I don't understand and should read Rand, then so what. You've failed to show anything on your own, and failed to demonstrate why anything your putting forth is something I or anyone should hold to.

September 03, 2010 4:55 PM  
Blogger The Secular Walk said...

@Andrew Louis

Based on your recent spate of comments, it has become obvious to me that a person would be for the most part, wasting their time trying to explain anything to you.

Why is that? Because, you come off as rather hard-headed, obtuse, and argumentative just for the sake of being argumentative. Which is shown by your constant claims of not caring about certainty.

Why a person, who doesn't care about certainty, wishes to bring that up so much is beyond me.

Then, the very notion that you can be so obtuse and as to not care about certainty, yet be at the same time, claiming things like "perception is perception, is a reporting of an internal subjective state", WITH CERTAINTY, is just bloody appalling.

Then the fact that you can be so obtuse as to confuse subjective feelings with Objective perceptions, is amazingly disgusting.

For example, your love tacos analogy. Oh my goodness. The love of tacos is an emotional valuation. Emotions tell you nothing about objective reality, beyond just a human's subjective feelings.

The perception of the taco, is an OBJECTIVE PERCEPT, not the LOVE of the taco. That you didn't understand that was appalling, and shows that you aren't going to be convinced of anything, as you are too stubborn and obtuse. You will just argue till the cows come home, or until you get bored with this and move on.

September 03, 2010 8:34 PM  
Blogger The Secular Walk said...

@Andrew Louis

The great Objectivist Dawson Bethrick is absolutely correct. Perception is axiomatic. This is because our senses and our brain, are man's only direct contact with reality. Our only way to consult reality. As such, to deny perception leaves one in immediate self-contradiction. Which means perception is a fundamental ground that is irreducible. Hence the axiom of consciousness.

Also, your claims about the meat puppet was too stupid for words. All your whining about not being able to know this, or account for that, and your claim that you may be a meat puppet, or everyone else could be a meat puppet, was of course, asserted without objective veracity, or logical account. Or as you put it, blind assertion.

Your inconsistency and hypocrisy is just appalling. But this is the type of thinking I expect from anyone who doesn't immediately get the correctness of Objectivism and it's starting axioms.

Someone who claims they don't care for certainty, and likely thinking it's not possible, all the while, saying things and asserting things, AS IF THEY WERE CERTAIN.

Disgusting, Mr. Louis.

September 03, 2010 8:44 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

I'd like to add that I fail to see what is going on in someone else's head has anything to do with my foundation of knowledge about the world. Further the fact that Andrew continues to respond to Dawson's posts proves that he has sense perception, and further that he trusts it as valid. Also given the latest advances in neurology we can in fact now tell what some one is thinking. In fact using magnetic resonance imaging we can tell what decision a person will make before they themselves are aware of it. Scary put true.

Descartes should have said, I am a conceptual being, therefore I can think.

September 03, 2010 9:39 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Andrew,

The comments section to this post are getting very long now, and I had a number of things to say in response to some of your recent posts. So I have published a new blog to present those things I have to say. You can find it here:

My Squabble with Andrew

I wasn’t able to get to everything you’ve written, but that’s most due to my time constraints. I do have a lot to say in response to the comments I wasn't able to get to. But it's not clear to me that interacting with them would amount to much.

Now you have accused me of being “a bully” and also of “pure intellectual dishonesty.” I have responded to these charges in my new blog interacting with your comments. I would hope that you would consider what I have to say there.

Regards,
Dawson

September 03, 2010 11:29 PM  
Blogger Whateverman said...

Hi Dawson,

I've enjoyed your analysis here and have a read a few of your other essays. Interesting stuff - thanks.

I know I'm late to this party, but I'd like to point out that Sye has admitted that presuppositional apologism is rhetorical trickery rather than an argument (my phrasing, not his). The following is a link to a thread he created on our forums where he advertised the Premier Christian Debate, and admitted the hollow nature of his mantra:

Link

I've also seen him admit that he's not interested in converting "atheists" to Christianity, but rather holding up what he feels is the flaws in their reasoning. I don't have a link for this yet, but am sure I'll come across it in the near future.

I find it telling that he did not once attempt to answer your questions or criticisms. Telling, but entirely predictable.

September 16, 2010 6:25 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Thanks for your comment, Whateverman.

Paul Baird gave me some links to the Premier Community forum “Unbelievable.” I poked around in some of the discussions and read through a few where Sye participated. He strikes me as the usual evasive gadfly that presuppositionalism tends to churn out on the internet. It’s clear he wants to keep the spotlight trained on his opponents’ positions, when in fact he claims to have all the answers to everything via revelation. It seems that, if he really had confidence in such testimony, he’d be more than happy to take the floor and explain carefully how his position is true and where his opponents are wrong. But then again, if all he has is “revelation,” that essentially means he has accepted as knowledge something he could not possibly know by means of reason. Thus he has no contextual basis for affirming it as certainly true. He’d have to accept its claim to truth on faith, and basically *hope* that it’s true, which is in fact more in line with what the bible teaches. His claim to certainty is a front he uses to hide his desire for the unearned in terms of knowledge.

When Sye’s claims are questioned, he’s quick to say things like “God is not on trial as though He needs to be aqcuitted by our evidence. It is unBiblical and sinful to put the Lord our God to the test. God is the judge, we are not” (see here). But such retorts mistakenly assume that when Sye’s claims are questioned, that his god is being put on trial. Basically he begs the question by assuming the truth of what he’s called to prove, namely that his god actually exists. He’s packaged his own claims with the god he claims to worship, as if they were indistinct from one another. He also misses the fact that, just by urging anyone to accept his claims as truth, he’s putting them in the position of a judge, specifically as one who will judge the truth value of his claims. If “we are not” the judge, then we can pass no judgment on Sye’s claims, either true, false or arbitrary. We must be able to judge for ourselves if we’re expected to assent to Sye’s claims. If I'm not allowed to judge, then I can't affirm that Sye's claims are true, for that would be a judgment.

You say that you’ve “seen him admit that he's not interested in converting ‘atheists’ to Christianity.” While I don’t doubt this one bit, it seems to conflict with something he said in the Unbelievable forum. There he writes: “I could not care less about defending the validity of Presuppositional Apologetics, I am here because there are people headed for Hell. I don't care if Stephen wants to defend other worldviews, I want to show him how his falis, and how if he dies holding it he is destined for Hell.” Statements like this suggest that he wants to influence people’s lives in some way. Then again, reading through several discussions, I could not find where Sye actually shows where rival worldviews “fail.” It’s just more presuppo-puffery.

I hope to post some more reactions to Sye’s comedy runs on my blog one of these days.

Regards,
Dawson

September 16, 2010 4:46 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson, I came upon your blog in a search on Sye Ten Bruggencate and found your rebuttal to his blog to be somewhat entertaining, albeit long-winded, but when it comes down to it, I didn't find you "incinerated" his world-view. Actually, in your comments your main focus seems to have been on his reply, nitpicking on whether or not he skimmed or fully read your verbose article.

There is no practical list of subjects or even a list of tags on your blog wherein a visitor may logically research what you have written. If you truly have some solid arguments worth sharing, these types of tools may help you. Because you don't even have so much as a Google search button on your blog, I don't know if you've addressed the issue of biblical prophecy or not.

I've written "An Open Challenge to Bible Critics" at my blog. I have yet to see an atheist pass the challenge. Maybe you or someone here can try if interested. Best regards

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2010/01/open-challenge-to-bible-critics.html

September 25, 2010 9:42 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Rick,

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your comment. My response follows.

Rick: “Dawson, I came upon your blog in a search on Sye Ten Bruggencate and found your rebuttal to his blog to be somewhat entertaining, albeit long-winded, but when it comes down to it, I didn't find you ‘incinerated’ his world-view.”

The purpose of this blog entry was not to incinerate Sye’s worldview globally, but to interact with the “proof” he has posted on his internet site. As you may note, the title of my blog is “Incinerating Presuppositionalism” (note the emphasis here), not “Incinerating Sye’s Worldview.”

So far, I’ve not seen any attempt to salvage Sye’s proof from my criticisms. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever see one.

As for your being entertained by my blog, that's quite reassuring. I was recently told by one Christian that reading my blog put him to sleep. (I suspect he's already asleep...)

Finally, yes, it's true, my blog entries are often long. I'm okay with this, even if some readers choose to complain about it (typically only Christians make this choice). In the case of Sye's "proof," there was much that needed correction, and I was happy to take up the task.

Rick: “Actually, in your comments your main focus seems to have been on his reply, nitpicking on whether or not he skimmed or fully read your verbose article.”

In the comments section of this blog entry, Sye did make a few statements, but he did not interact with my criticisms of his "proof." He made light of some of what I have presented while simultaneously indicating that he had not closely examined what I’ve presented. It was an effort just to explain this to him.

If Sye or anyone else had tried to defend Sye’s proof from my criticisms, I’d be happy to consider them, and perhaps even reply in turn, either in the comments, or in a fresh blog entry.

Rick: “There is no practical list of subjects or even a list of tags on your blog wherein a visitor may logically research what you have written. If you truly have some solid arguments worth sharing, these types of tools may help you.”

I sympathize with you on this, and if Blogger offered a more reliable labeling system, I’d make use of it. Unfortunately, even the system that it has in place is insufficient, since it will not bring up all posts under a selected label.

I have tried, for the most part, to give my blog entries titles which tell readers what they can expect to find in them. Also, I have archived my blog entries (in PDF) on a single page on my website (see the link on my blog). This should help, though I agree, it’s not perfect.

Rick: “Because you don't even have so much as a Google search button on your blog,”

If I knew how to add one, I’d be happy to do so.

Rick: “I don't know if you've addressed the issue of biblical prophecy or not.”

Typically presuppositionalists do not appeal to prophecy, so I have not found it necessary to devote an entry on the topic. In fact, I don’t find the subject at all interesting, nor do I find appeals to bible prophecy at all compelling. Besides, many other bible critics already have addressed the issue, and with far more detail than I’d care to give to it.

Rick: “I've written ‘An Open Challenge to Bible Critics’ at my blog. I have yet to see an atheist pass the challenge. Maybe you or someone here can try if interested.”

Thanks for the link. Perhaps one day I’ll look at it.

Regards,
Dawson

September 25, 2010 10:31 PM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Rick - your challenge

1) Present one piece of archaeological evidence which disproves the history recorded in the Bible.
2) Present one prophecy in the Bible which has not come to pass as predicted.
3) Present one person in history, other than Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled the “vague” prophecies of the Messiah.
4) Present one papyrus or parchment ancient manuscript more reliable than those of the New Testament.

My response

The so called Prophecies of Ezekiel for (2)

Want to go with that one ?

September 26, 2010 12:51 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Paul,

Thanks for quoting Rick’s challenge.

Rick,

Here are some thoughts in response to your four points:

1) Present one piece of archaeological evidence which disproves the history recorded in the Bible.

This is the wrong approach. We do not begin by assuming a position is true (especially one as elaborate as the biblical worldview), and then seek evidence to disprove it. The mind does not work this way. Rather, if you think what the bible says is true, then please present one piece of archeological evidence which proves the “history” recorded in the bible.

2) Present one prophecy in the Bible which has not come to pass as predicted.

This, too, is the wrong approach. If one thinks that the prophecies in the bible have in fact come to pass *as predicted*, he needs to defend this position. I’ve seen many attempts to do this, but I’ve never found one that’s impressed me, since they often rely on unexamined assumptions without which they could not survive.

If you’re looking for any prophecy in the bible which hasn’t come to pass as predicted, I’d say all of them. I don’t think there’s one example of a legitimate prophecy that’s been “fulfilled” as predicted, unless of course it was so vague that my baker could have predicted it. Enough of the chicanery involved in “bible prophecy” has been exposed that I hardly think the matter needs discussion.

3) Present one person in history, other than Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled the “vague” prophecies of the Messiah.

The “fulfillment” of prophecies of Jesus found in the NT (particularly the gospels) is obviously staged and artificial. Various strands of “prophecy” were collected from ancient sources, such as the OT prophets and wisdom literature, and woven into a portrait of a messiah which makes it appear (though not at all convincingly) that those “prophecies” had been miraculously fulfilled in the person of Jesus. The portraits of “Jesus Christ” found in the NT gospels are certainly not historical. On the contrary, they are essentially legends. I’ve argued this at length on my blog (see particularly my Year Four archives).

Also, citing my inability to present one person in history other than Jesus who has fulfilled the vague prophecies of the messiah, misses the point: I do not argue that anyone has fulfilled what have come to be styled as “prophecies,” and such inability to produce an alternative to Jesus as fulfilling them does not make the portraits of Jesus in the gospel narratives factual.

4) Present one papyrus or parchment ancient manuscript more reliable than those of the New Testament.

“Reliable” in what way? I’m happy to concede that the New Testament accurately records, to one degree or another, what some people in the ANE may have *believed*. The issue is not whether or not the NT does this, though. The issue is whether or not what the NT says is *true*. I’m doubtful that the discovery of one or more ancient manuscripts is going to settle the matter one way or another. We need honesty and the guidance of rational philosophy for such inquiries.

There, that was easy.

Here’s a challenge to you, Rick: Demonstrate how theism can be accepted as truthful on a basis wholly consistent with the primacy of existence. I’m convinced it can’t be done, and I have yet to see a theist pass this challenge. Why not try to be the first?

Regards,
Dawson

September 26, 2010 2:10 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson,

Your blog title states "Incinerating Presuppositionalism" which, one would assume, presents straightforward arguments against this worldview. However, a visitor cannot even search to find what arguments you have prepared! Your reply to this problem:


"If I knew how to add one (a Google search button on your blog), I’d be happy to do so.

OK, so you want to incinerate presuppositionalism but can't find the time or help to add a simple Google search button or tags to your blog. All I can say is the proverbial "Wow!"

Also, you aren't interested in presenting any case against prophecy in scripture, which presuppositionalists hold as valid:

"This is the wrong approach. We do not begin by assuming a position is true (especially one as elaborate as the biblical worldview), and then seek evidence to disprove it."

It seems obvious, just based on these two examples, that you are self-assured, couched in your own hermetically sealed philosophical world and not really interested in discussing and debating presuppositionalism on a level playing filed, i.e. an open and objective playing field. You have already determined the very narrow parameters of your analysis, based on your presuppositions, and are not even willing to test another view and approach.

There are very many worldviews, definitions of truth and approaches in philosophy and to state you have incinerated one of them without even testing the main tenets of that worldview is an obvious flaw to anyone with an open mind.

To say the Bible is simply a "legend" is not substantiated by history or archeology and neither you nor your blog has proved this to be otherwise. Because God has chosen to use prophecy as an imprint of truth in the scriptures, only those with an open mind to investigate this fact will test this reality. Because of your presuppositions, it seems, you never will and really, the title of your blog, considering your approach, seems humorous and rather a self indictment.

If you are ever willing to point out a real case in point example where the Bible is proven to be in error, either by history, archeology or in prophecy, I would welcome you to post your comment at my blog, otherwise, it seems a waste of time to continue dialogging with you.

then perhaps it would be interesting to dialogue with you.

For anyone who reads this post with an open mind to investigate Atheism, please read the following article at my blog:

"Are Atheist Jellyfish Taking Over the World?"

Best regards

September 26, 2010 10:42 PM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Yet another "I don't know why I bother trying to have a dialog with you" post from a Christian.

There seems to be a small pool of lines of arguments that they pull them out of. This one must be near the bottom.

September 26, 2010 11:02 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick,

Again you come back to me.

Rick: “a visitor cannot even search to find what arguments you have prepared!”

I already pointed out that I have all my blog entries archived on a single page. Click here. Do you need me to spoon-feed everything to you? If you’re looking for something specific and can’t find it, just ask. If I’ve addressed it, I’ll make special effort to help you.

Rick: “[you] can't find the time or help to add a simple Google search button or tags to your blog."

So far (after 5 years), you’re the first to complain about this. But know this: I am a writer, not a web expert. If you want to show me how to add a search button, I’d be very thankful. Why choose to curse the darkness, instead of lighting a light?

Rick: “Also, you aren't interested in presenting any case against prophecy in scripture, which presuppositionalists hold as valid:”

Presuppers may very well hold that prophecy is “valid” (I’d expect them to). My point (which I’ll repeat) is that presuppers typically do not appeal to bible prophecy in their apologetic arguments.

Rick: “It seems obvious…, that you are self-assured, couched in your own hermetically sealed philosophical world and not really interested in discussing and debating presuppositionalism on a level playing filed, i.e. an open and objective playing field.”

I am indeed self-assured. And I am convinced that rational philosophy is true. This bothers you?

As for being open to discussing presuppositionalism, what more do I need to do to get the conversation rolling? I’ve sought out presuppers throughout the internet, having presented my criticisms of their apologetic devices on my blog and website. They avoid me. Don’t complain to me about this – I can’t (and wouldn’t) force them to participate in discussions.

Rick: “You have already determined the very narrow parameters of your analysis, based on your presuppositions, and are not even willing to test another view and approach.”

What are you’re trying to say here? I am a former Christian myself. What else do I need to do to “test” the Christian view and approach?

Rick: “…to state you have incinerated one of them without even testing the main tenets of that worldview”

Who’s done this? Not I. And if I were guilty of what you say here, how would you know? You just got done complaining that you can’t search my blog! You remind me of Sye.

Have you tested Objectivism, Rick?

Rick: “is an obvious flaw to anyone with an open mind.”

I have an *active* mind, Rick. That’s more important to me.

Rick: “To say the Bible is simply a ‘legend’ is not substantiated by history or archeology”

Prove it. Start by answering the points I’ve laid out in this regard. (Hint: see my archives.)

Rick: “and neither you nor your blog has proved this to be otherwise.”

If you’ve not examined everything on my blog, how would you know this?

Rick: “Because God has chosen to use prophecy as an imprint of truth in the scriptures, only those with an open mind to investigate this fact will test this reality.”

Well, then you could say I had an “open mind” some 19 years ago when I converted to Christianity. I gave it the test of a lifetime, and I eventually made the choice to be honest… to myself. That’s when the mirage of god-belief simply evaporated, and the truth – namely that Christianity is false – set me free.

Rick: “If you are ever willing to point out a real case in point example where the Bible is proven to be in error, either by history, archeology or in prophecy, I would welcome you to post your comment at my blog…”

Rick, you came looking for me. I did not come looking for you. I’m happy to dialogue with you if you maintain civility and strive for some honesty.

My case against Christianity is philosophical in nature. I invite you to explore my archives. Check it out for yourself. If I’m so wrong, then come back and show me.

Now I’ve answered your challenge. Why not try answering mine?

Regards,
Dawson

September 27, 2010 1:18 AM  
Blogger Whateverman said...

OK, so you want to incinerate presuppositionalism but can't find the time or help to add a simple Google search button or tags to your blog. All I can say is the proverbial "Wow!"

This seems to fit the classical definition of 'non sequitur'.

Ok, so you want to destroy religious extremism but you can't find the time or help to organize your CD collection. Wow!

September 27, 2010 5:27 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson,

You wrote: “I already pointed out that I have all my blog entries archived on a single page.”

No, sorry to have to break the news to you, but you did not point that out. You actually wrote “The portraits of “Jesus Christ” found in the NT gospels are certainly not historical. On the contrary, they are essentially legends. I’ve argued this at length on my blog. (see particularly my Year Four archives).”

This was not your main archive page but, rather, a page with some bogus nonsense, a bogus straw man argument from "Year Four: 'Paul's Ignorance of the Earthly Jesus, Part 1: Prologue and Preliminary Basics'"

“If we had only Paul to go by in our knowledge of Jesus, we would never learn about any of these things.”

- So, because Paul did not write very much about Jesus' personal life then that necessitates Paul's Ignorance of Jesus?

- And with more along these same lines we assume that the gospel portraits of Jesus are a myth? - Really now, scratching at the bottom of the barrel.

You wrote: “Do you need me to spoon-feed everything to you?”

No, I simply wanted some references to your main positions, which you did not initially give. The reference you gave to your main list of articles was in a later reply. If you review your comments and links you will see that what I am writing is true.

You wrote: “What are you’re trying to say here? I am a former Christian myself. What else do I need to do to “test” the Christian view and approach?”

Well, for starters, you could address the points in my challenge to you seriously, which you did not. Maybe you considered yourself a Christian, but it is obvious from your comments you are very unfamiliar with the Bible: “If you’re looking for any prophecy in the bible which hasn’t come to pass as predicted, I’d say all of them.”

- Who was the prophecy is Isaiah 53 about? If it is so general, surely you can give at least one person as an example. You can say it was doctored up later, but the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 were determined to have been written before Christ's birth.

Or maybe you have another example, “The so called Prophecies of Ezekiel” you mentioned. Please explain how they were unfulfilled.

continued...

September 27, 2010 9:17 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson,

You wrote: “I already pointed out that I have all my blog entries archived on a single page.”

No, sorry to have to break the news to you, but you did not point that out. You actually wrote “The portraits of “Jesus Christ” found in the NT gospels are certainly not historical. On the contrary, they are essentially legends. I’ve argued this at length on my blog. (see particularly my Year Four archives).” This was not your main archive page but, rather, a page with some bogus nonsense, a bogus straw man argument from "Year Four: 'Paul's Ignorance of the Earthly Jesus, Part 1: Prologue and Preliminary Basics'"

“If we had only Paul to go by in our knowledge of Jesus, we would never learn about any of these things.”

- So, because Paul did not write very much about Jesus' personal life then that necessitates Paul's Ignorance of Jesus?

- And with more along these same lines we assume that the gospel portraits of Jesus are a myth? - Really now, scratching at the bottom of the barrel.

You wrote: “Do you need me to spoon-feed everything to you?”

No, I simply wanted some references to your main positions, which you did not initially give. The reference you gave to your main list of articles was in a later reply. If you review your comments and links you will see that what I am writing is true.

continued...

September 27, 2010 9:19 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson

You wrote: “What are you’re trying to say here? I am a former Christian myself. What else do I need to do to “test” the Christian view and approach?”

Well, for starters, you could address the points in my challenge to you seriously, which you did not. Maybe you considered yourself a Christian, but it seems pretty obvious from your comments that you are very unfamiliar with the Bible: “If you’re looking for any prophecy in the bible which hasn’t come to pass as predicted, I’d say all of them.”

- Who was the prophecy is Isaiah 53 about? If it is so general, surely you can give at least one person as an example. You can say it was doctored up later, but the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 were determined to have been written before Christ's birth.

Or maybe you have another example, “The so called Prophecies of Ezekiel” you mentioned. Please explain how they were unfulfilled.

cont...

September 27, 2010 9:21 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

You wrote:

“Have you tested Objectivism, Rick?”

Though my blog isn't entitled “Incinerating Objectivism” I am willing to look at another perspective, call it “Objective Objectivism.” While I agree that reality exists independent of consciousness, I do not agree with many of the subjective assumptions of Atheistic Objectivism. There is an underlying assumption that people invented the concept of God and that the supernatural and that divine revelation do not exist. This assumption leads to another assumption, that “the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness.”

I've read the Fountainhead and at one time in my life found it inspiring, but now find its underlying philosophy presents an unreal view of life. In addition to her philosophy, Ayn Rand wrote entertaining novels and they are properly categorized as fiction.

You wrote: “If you’ve not examined everything on my blog, how would you know this?”

I'm sorry to have to break the news to you, but, based on your answers so far, I have no interest in trying to ferret out your main propositions which are illusively scattered throughout your articles.

“My case against Christianity is philosophical in nature. I invite you to explore my archives. Check it out for yourself. If I’m so wrong, then come back and show me. Now I’ve answered your challenge. Why not try answering mine?”

So far, your answers have done more to support Presuppositonalism, rather than Objectivism. As Van Til pointed out, people like you are not willing to investigate facts. Highly specific prophecies were recorded long before their fulfillment, as my article “An Open Challenge to Bible Critics” points out. You in fact are an Atheist Presuppositionalist by your own words. You begin with the presupposition, as Rand did, that God does not exist. If indeed the living God revealed spiritual truth in the Bible, which is authenticated by prophecy, as is the case, your calling the Bible a “legend” and ignoring specific facts does not change this truth one bit. It seems, in reality, I seem to be more of an Objective Objectivist than you are because I am willing to test other people's propositions, that is, when I can locate them.

Whenever you want to answer my challenge with at least one real answer, not cop-out ones, then, perhaps, you will show that your mind is not only active but also open, two qualities that together help to arrive at real answers and help to have a meaningful dialogue. You may consider the reason many Christians don't want to dialogue with you is because you don't present any specific propositions.

The biblical world-view offers a more reasonable explanation for the the first cause, prime reality, the existence of logic, mathematical and scientific laws and the complex, ordered universe. Hence, there is no real reason for me or anyone to desire to become steeped in your personal philosophical views when you offer no real explanations for these phenomena and cannot even begin to refute my basic premises. A wise scientist once wrote the following”

“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”

- The Religion of Isaac Newton (1974) by Frank E. Manuel, p. 120

Sir Issac Newton, by the way, wrote more about biblical prophecy in his commentaries than he did about science. And he is to this day considered one of the greatest scientists in history. If objective and open-minded people seeking truth honestly tested out what he believed in compared to what novelist Ayn Rand did, I believe they would also arrive at Newton's conclusion of the nature of reality.

Best regards,

Rick

September 27, 2010 9:27 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

(part 3 of answer)

You wrote: “Have you tested Objectivism, Rick?”

Though my blog isn't entitled “Incinerating Objectivism” I am willing to look at another perspective, call it “Objective Objectivism.” While I agree that reality exists independent of consciousness, I do not agree with many of the subjective assumptions of Atheistic Objectivism. There is an underlying assumption that people invented the concept of God and that the supernatural and that divine revelation do not exist. This assumption leads to another assumption, that “the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness.”

I've read the Fountainhead and at one time in my life found it inspiring but now find its underlying philosophy presents an unreal view of life. Ayn Rand wrote entertaining novels, more than the body of her philosophical writings, I believe, and they are properly categorized as fiction.

You wrote: “If you’ve not examined everything on my blog, how would you know this?”

I'm sorry to have to break the news to you, but based on your answers so far, I have no interest in trying to ferret out your main propositions which are illusively scattered throughout your articles.

“My case against Christianity is philosophical in nature. I invite you to explore my archives. Check it out for yourself. If I’m so wrong, then come back and show me.

Now I’ve answered your challenge. Why not try answering mine?”

So far, your answers have done more to support Presuppositonalism, rather than Objectivism. As Van Til pointed out, people like you are not willing to investigate facts. Highly specific prophecies were recorded long before their fulfillment, as my article “An Open Challenge to Bible Critics” points out. You in fact are an Atheist Presuppositionalist by your own words. You begin with the presupposition, as Rand did, that God does not exist. If indeed the living God revealed spiritual truth in the Bible, which is authenticated by prophecy, as is the case, your calling the Bible a “legend” does not change this truth one bit. It seems, in reality, I am more of an Objective Objectivist than you are because I am willing to test other people's propositions.

Whenever you want to answer my challenge with at least one real answer, not a cop-out ones, then, perhaps, you will show that your mind is not only active but also open, two qualities that together help to arrive at real answers and help to have a meaningful dialogue.

You may consider the reason many Christians don't want to dialogue with you is because you don't seem to present any specific propositions. Besides, the biblical world-view offers a more reasonable explanation for the the first cause, prime reality, the existence of logic, mathematical and scientific laws and the complex, ordered universe. Hence, there is no real reason for me or anyone to desire to become steeped in your personal philosophical views when you offer no real explanations for these phenomena and cannot even begin to refute my basic premises. A wise scientist once wrote the following”

“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”

- The Religion of Isaac Newton (1974) by Frank E. Manuel, p. 120

Sir Issac Newton, by the way, wrote more about biblical prophecy in his commentaries than he did about science. And to this day considered one of the greatest scientists in history. Personally, I would consider his views worth testing more so than Rands.

Best regards,

Rick

September 27, 2010 9:34 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

(answer part 3)

You wrote: “Have you tested Objectivism, Rick?”

Though my blog isn't entitled “Incinerating Objectivism” I am willing to look at another perspective, call it “Objective Objectivism.” While I agree that reality exists independent of consciousness, I do not agree with many of the subjective assumptions of Atheistic Objectivism. There is an underlying assumption that people invented the concept of God and that the supernatural and that divine revelation do not exist. This assumption leads to another assumption, that “the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness.”

I've read the Fountainhead and at one time in my life found it inspiring but now find its underlying philosophy presents an unreal view of life. Ayn Rand wrote entertaining novels, perhaps more than her philosophical writings. Or are they one in the same?

You wrote: “If you’ve not examined everything on my blog, how would you know this?”

I'm sorry to have to break the news to you, but based on your answers so far, I have no interest in trying to ferret out your main propositions which are illusively scattered throughout your articles.

“My case against Christianity is philosophical in nature. I invite you to explore my archives. Check it out for yourself. If I’m so wrong, then come back and show me.

Now I’ve answered your challenge. Why not try answering mine?”

So far, your answers have done more to support Presuppositonalism, rather than Objectivism. As Van Til pointed out, people like you are not willing to investigate facts. Highly specific prophecies were recorded long before their fulfillment, as my article “An Open Challenge to Bible Critics” points out. You in fact are an Atheist Presuppositionalist by your own words. You begin with the presupposition, as Rand did, that God does not exist. If indeed the living God revealed spiritual truth in the Bible, which is authenticated by prophecy, as is the case, your calling the Bible a “legend” does not change this truth one bit.

It seems, in reality, I am more of an Objective Objectivist than you are because I am willing to test other people's propositions, that is, when I can locate them.

cont...

September 27, 2010 9:39 AM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Rick - ok, let's do the Prophecies of Ezekiel.

Please would you set out what you understand the prophecies were and how they were fulfilled.

Thanks.

September 27, 2010 10:35 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part I:

I wrote: “I already pointed out that I have all my blog entries archived on a single page.”

Rick: “No, sorry to have to break the news to you, but you did not point that out.”

Oh, I did, Rick. In my first reply to you, I wrote: “Also, I have archived my blog entries (in PDF) on a single page on my website (see the link on my blog).”

Rick: “This was not your main archive page but, rather, a page with…”

It’s on both pages, Rick. Check it out:

- Year Four Archives

- IP Archives

And you’re wrong: my arguments on these pages are not “bogus nonsense.”

Rick: “So, because Paul did not write very much about Jesus' personal life then that necessitates Paul's Ignorance of Jesus?...”

You need to examine the entirety of my argument if you want answers to questions like this. It’s all there, I don’t see any need to repeat myself.

I wrote: “Do you need me to spoon-feed everything to you?”

Rick: “No, I simply wanted some references to your main positions, which you did not initially give.”

I don’t think you had asked for references to my “main positions.” You asked if I had any arguments against prophecy, and then complained that there was no easy way for you to find such things. My main positions are laid out in the writings that are accessible in my blog archives.

Rick: “The reference you gave to your main list of articles was in a later reply.”

Go back and re-read my initial reply to you. I quoted from it above.

Rick: “If you review your comments and links you will see that what I am writing is true.”

I reviewed what I wrote. I did reference my archive page in my initial reply to you. What’s the problem?

Rick: “Well, for starters, you could address the points in my challenge to you seriously, which you did not.”

What makes you think I wasn’t being serious? How much more seriously do you think I need to take your challenge?

[Continued…]

September 27, 2010 11:04 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part II:

Rick: “Maybe you considered yourself a Christian, but it is obvious from your comments you are very unfamiliar with the Bible: ‘If you’re looking for any prophecy in the bible which hasn’t come to pass as predicted, I’d say all of them’.”

How does this indicate that I’m not familiar with the bible? I’ve read the darn thing many times. I’ve examined many large portions of it very closely.

Rick: “Who was the prophecy is Isaiah 53 about? If it is so general, surely you can give at least one person as an example. You can say it was doctored up later, but the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 were determined to have been written before Christ's birth.”

Where is the “prophecy” in Isaiah 53 supposed to be fulfilled? In the NT, right? I did not say that Isaiah 53 itself was doctored up later. (If you think that’s what I said, your reading skills are in desperate need of rehab.)

Rick: “Or maybe you have another example, ‘The so called Prophecies of Ezekiel’ you mentioned.”

Correction (again): I did not specify the prophecies of Ezekiel, Paul Baird did. Try to read with more precision.

I asked: “Have you tested Objectivism, Rick?”

Rick: “While I agree that reality exists independent of consciousness,

You don’t. You’re a Christian. Christianity explicitly holds that reality conforms to consciousness. You think a consciousness created the universe. That’s reality depending on consciousness.

Rick: “I do not agree with many of the subjective assumptions of Atheistic Objectivism.”

What “subjective assumptions”? Objectivism does not have any “subjective assumptions.” Perhaps you’re speaking before you have any information on the subject.

Rick: “There is an underlying assumption that people invented the concept of God and that the supernatural and that divine revelation do not exist.”

This is not an “assumption” in the sense that we come to the table with this conclusion already settled in our minds. Again, you seem to be speaking without the benefit of knowledge on the matter.

If you’re interested in the evidence for the view that the Christian god is imaginary, see my blog The Imaginative Nature of Christian Theism.

Rick: “This assumption leads to another assumption, that ‘the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness’.”

The recognition that the proper purpose for man’s life is to live end enjoy it, does not rest on the “assumption that people invented the concept of God.” Besides, “God” is not a concept, is it? I thought it was supposed to be an independently existing being. Concepts are not independently existing beings. You’re playing into my hand here, Rick, and you don’t even see it. You’re giving away your deep down recognition that your god is psychological, not ontological.

[Continued…]

September 27, 2010 11:07 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

OK, Paul

Ezekiel 37:21-22: "...and say to them, `This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms."

- This prophecy was fulfilled mainly after 1948 when Israel was granted nation status and more Jews chose Aliya, to return to live in their homeland.

Or do you believe this prophecy was unfulfilled?


BC Fulfilled: after May 14, 1948. In Ezekiel 34:13, the prophet said that God would gather the people of Israel

September 27, 2010 11:08 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part III:

Rick: “I've read the Fountainhead and at one time in my life found it inspiring, but now find its underlying philosophy presents an unreal view of life.”

Since you've read some Rand yourself (so you say), can you specify what is unreal about Objectivism’s view of life? Is life not real? Is not life an important consideration to man? Is life irrelevant to man’s morality? Is man impotent in reality? What specifically is “unreal” in your mind?

Rick: “In addition to her philosophy, Ayn Rand wrote entertaining novels and they are properly categorized as fiction.”

Very good, Rick: Rand’s novels are fiction. Do you think this is a secret?

Rick: “I'm sorry to have to break the news to you, but, based on your answers so far, I have no interest in trying to ferret out your main propositions which are illusively scattered throughout your articles.”

Rick, you wrote: “To say the Bible is simply a ‘legend’ is not substantiated by history or archeology and neither you nor your blog has proved this to be otherwise.” I asked how you could know this since it’s clear from your complaints that you’ve not examined everything on my blog. Now you seem to be claiming that you can assert anything about my writings without any familiarity with them. Go ahead. It’s your own credibility that you’re putting on the line.

Rick: “So far, your answers have done more to support Presuppositonalism, rather than Objectivism.”

How so? Take any article of mine on presuppositionalism, and show how it helps presuppositionalism.

Rick: “As Van Til pointed out, people like you are not willing to investigate facts.”

Which facts do you think I’m unwilling to investigate?

Rick: “Highly specific prophecies were recorded long before their fulfillment, as my article ‘An Open Challenge to Bible Critics’ points out.”

I already know that Christians believe this, Rick. I don’t need to read another blog that points this out.

Rick: “You in fact are an Atheist Presuppositionalist by your own words. You begin with the presupposition, as Rand did, that God does not exist.”

This is so entirely false that either it is stated in utter ignorance, or it’s an outright lie. Objectivism does not begin by negating. It begins by affirming perceptually self-evident facts. No Objectivist, including Rand, begins “with the presupposition… that God does not exist.” To suppose this is only to expose one’s unfamiliarity with elementary positions which Objectivism actually teaches.

Rick: “If indeed the living God revealed spiritual truth in the Bible, which is authenticated by prophecy, as is the case, your calling the Bible a ‘legend’ and ignoring specific facts does not change this truth one bit.”

Actually, I called the NT gospels legendary, and you have not identified any relevant *facts* that I am “ignoring” in deriving this conclusion. That Christians *believe* that OT prophecies have been “fulfilled” does not make this belief a *fact*.

Rick: “It seems, in reality, I seem to be more of an Objective Objectivist than you are because I am willing to test other people's propositions, that is, when I can locate them.”

What specifically do you mean by “test other people’s propositions”? When I compose an essay critically examining positional statements made by presuppositionalists (cf. Does Logic Presuppose the Christian God?), how does this not constitute “testing” other people’s propositions?

[Continued…]

September 27, 2010 11:13 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part IV:

Rick: “Whenever you want to answer my challenge with at least one real answer, not cop-out ones, then, perhaps, you will show that your mind is not only active but also open, two qualities that together help to arrive at real answers and help to have a meaningful dialogue.”

I’ve given your “challenge” all the time it deserves, Rick. I see that you’ve not been able to refute anything I’ve stated in response to it. You might not like it, but you’ve been answered.

Rick: “You may consider the reason many Christians don't want to dialogue with you is because you don't present any specific propositions.”

Why would I consider this? Clearly I have presented “specific propositions” - many of them in fact! I’ll give you some examples:

- “In conclusion, the doctrine of the Trinity is hopelessly contradictory… So the presuppositionalist claim that the Christian god is the basis of logic, or that logic reflects the character of the Christian god, apparently rests on ignoring what Christian theology teaches about its own god. For it would have us believe that logic is based on three distinct instances of something being both itself and more than itself at the same time (i.e., for all eternity, since the trinity is supposed to be eternal).” (link)

- “Christians deny the uniformity of nature in their metaphysics in order to allow for miracles. On the Christian view, any uniformity which nature happens to exhibit must be put there by some conscious action originating outside of nature. This can mean that nature itself has no identity of its own, since any identity it might have has been assigned to it by the will of the ruling consciousness. Thus when presuppositionalists point to Christian theism as the worldview which provides the only justification for the assumption that nature is uniform, they are indulging in the crassest of absurdities, paying no mind to the implications their worldview has on the matter.” (link)

- “Taken together, these 10 facts serve as insurmountable evidence that the Christian god is indeed imaginary.” (link)

Need more?

You’re trying to dialogue with me, Rick. And if you examine our exchange to date, I’ve presented *many* specific propositions. So why would you propose that I consider what you suggest here?

[Continued…]

September 27, 2010 11:16 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part V:

Rick: “The biblical world-view offers a more reasonable explanation for the the first cause, prime reality, the existence of logic, mathematical and scientific laws and the complex, ordered universe.”

“more reasonable” than what? The biblical worldview isn’t based on reason in the first place. How could it be “more reasonable” than anything else? “first cause” of what? What is “prime reality”? I’ve already addressed Christianity on logic (see here), mathematics (see here), science/uniformity of nature (see here). I’ve also proven that theism violates the primacy of existence (see here).

Please show how the biblical worldview can crawl out from underneath all this. You’d have to in order to maintain that the biblical worldview is “more reasonable” than Objectivism.

Rick: “Hence, there is no real reason for me or anyone to desire to become steeped in your personal philosophical views when you offer no real explanations for these phenomena and cannot even begin to refute my basic premises.”

Again, it’s clear that you’ve not spent any quality time in my archives.

Rick: “Sir Issac Newton, by the way, wrote more about biblical prophecy in his commentaries than he did about science. And he is to this day considered one of the greatest scientists in history.”

Tell me, Rick: does Newton appeal to biblical prophecy in arguing for his scientific verdicts?

Rick: “If objective and open-minded people seeking truth honestly tested out what he believed in compared to what novelist Ayn Rand did, I believe they would also arrive at Newton's conclusion of the nature of reality.”

Please show us, Rick. Don’t just say it would happen. Show us your analysis. Start by showing (if you can) how Newton’s scientific discoveries are incompatible with Objectivism’s distinctives.

Regards,
Dawson

September 27, 2010 11:19 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “This prophecy was fulfilled mainly after 1948 when Israel was granted nation status and more Jews chose Aliya, to return to live in their homeland.”

I guess better late than never…

But in fact, Rick, this is not an example of a fulfilled bible prophecy. It can’t be. The Ezekiel passage says that “God” will take the Israelites out of the nations where they’ve gone. But this did not happen. It’s true that the “Israelites” left the nations they had gone to and resettled in Israel, but “God” did not make this happen. On the contrary, people did. Human beings made this happen. There’s no evidence of any supernatural hand making this happen. It took human effort to make it happen. By crediting an invisible magic being, you’re taking from all the courageous people who actually made it happen. Why would you want to do that?

Now, if all the Jews who resettled Israel were magically wafted up into the air from their resident nations and transported through the skies to new settlements in Israel, you might have an instance of a fulfilled prophecy. But if human beings made this happen, then the credit belongs to them, not some imaginary deity.

Regards,
Dawson

September 27, 2010 11:31 AM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Rick - name any King of Israel since 1948.

September 27, 2010 11:33 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hmmm...


Paul wrote: "Rick - name any King of Israel since 1948."


I hear... the sound of crickets.

September 27, 2010 11:57 AM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Rick, just to add to the mix on the Ezekiel prophecy

http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/world-jewish-population.htm

The worldwide Jewish population is 13.3 million Jews. Jewish population growth worldwide is close to zero percent. From 2000 to 2001 it rose 0.3%, compared to worldwide population growth of 1.4%.

In 2001, 8.3 million Jews lived in the Diaspora and 4.9 million lived in Israel. Just about half of the world’s Jews reside in the Americas, with about 46 percent in North America. (top)

Approximately 37% of worldwide Jewry lives in Israel. Israel's Jewish population rose by 1.6% the past year, while the Diaspora population dropped by 0.5%.

So, more Jews live outside Israel than within her borders and New York is the second largest Jewish city.

So, the prophecy fails, unless you want to hide behind the skirts of liberal interpretation, in which case anything is possible.

The truth of the matter is that to understand any prophecy you need to read it within the context of the time when it was written.

September 27, 2010 12:28 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson,

You wrote: “I’ve given your “challenge” all the time it deserves, Rick”

- Actually, it was your friend Paul who addressed my challenge initially, not you. And your answers did not refute the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:21-22. It is a bit sophomoric to state “Well God didn't make the people return, they did on their own.” Well, no people group, culture or nation has ever regrouped in the history of the world after being separated from it's homeland for thousands of years. And at the time the prophecy was written the rulers were called kings, not presidents. And does the prophecy state how many people will return by what time? No. The prophecy is still in the process of being fulfilled.

September 27, 2010 12:56 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson,

Your proof against Christianity:

“For it (Christianity) would have us believe that logic is based on three distinct instances of something being both itself and more than itself at the same time.”

Christianity does not argue that “logic is based on three distinct instances.” It makes no claims of separated logic. One is not “more” or less logic, but, rather, there is unity and harmony. Jesus stated He is one with the Father. He said “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” He was a perfect representation of the Father, not a separate “logic.” The Trinity is a mystery which, likely, is beyond our full human comprehension.

You also wrote: "Christianity explicitly holds that reality conforms to consciousness. You think a consciousness created the universe. That’s reality depending on consciousness."

- You seem to have many assumptions and also freely mix apples and oranges. I, as a human being, do not believe my consciousness creates reality. Do I believe God was conscious of the universe as it was being created? Not necessarily.

You, as someone who does not believe in God, seem to know a lot about what God is like. How do you know? Is it possible that God creates spontaneously and intuitively, without conscious thought, in a manner you are not aware of?

Regards,

Rick

September 27, 2010 1:07 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: “I’ve given your ‘challenge’ all the time it deserves, Rick”

Rick replied: “Actually, it was your friend Paul who addressed my challenge initially, not you.”

This isn’t a contest, Rick. I interacted with all four points of your challenge, just as you had invited me to do.

Rick: “And your answers did not refute the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:21-22. It is a bit sophomoric to state ‘Well God didn't make the people return, they did on their own’.”

How so? If people do something on their own, without supernatural assistance, why is it “sophomoric” to point this out? Is it “sophomoric” in your worldview to point out the facts?

Look, one will always be able to *imagine* that an invisible magic being is responsible for some given state of affairs. That’s what your version of this “prophecy” requires us all to do: it requires that we *imagine* that the god of the bible directed all the events involved in the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. I agree it’s an easy thing to do, imagining your god. But rational philosophy reminds us of the fact that there’s a fundamental distinction between what is real and what is imaginary. Perhaps this is one of the things you don’t like about Objectivism?

Rick: “Well, no people group, culture or nation has ever regrouped in the history of the world after being separated from it's homeland for thousands of years.”

So what? There are a lot of unique things that have happened in history. This does not justify the appeal to supernaturalism.

Rick: “And at the time the prophecy was written the rulers were called kings, not presidents.”

Do you understand the profound distinctions between a president and a king? If the Ezekiel passage specifies that a king will be established over the newly formed state (it does), and this newly formed state has no king in power (it doesn’t), then there is no fulfillment here.

Regards,
Dawson

September 27, 2010 1:17 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson,

You wrote: "Objectivism does not have any “subjective assumptions.” Perhaps you’re speaking before you have any information on the subject."

I've reviewed the Wiki Objectivism summary, which may be wrong, but it states: "Objectivism rejects belief in "every 'spiritual' dimension, force, Form, Idea, entity, power, or whatnot alleged to transcend existence."

This rejection is a starting point, as you yourself stated:

"We do not begin by assuming a position is true (especially one as elaborate as the biblical worldview)."

This is Atheistic Presuppositionalism

In "True Objectivism" Truth would be sought for its own sake on a level playing field. This means any possible conjecture is formed and tested objectively. This is the basis of the scientific method:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

It seems you are perhaps an Atheistic Presuppositionalist after all.

September 27, 2010 1:26 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “Christianity does not argue that ‘logic is based on three distinct instances’.”

It does, to the extent that apologists claim that the Christian god is the basis of logic. Presuppositionalists, for instance, do in fact claim this. They tell us that logic “reflects” their god’s nature (see all the quotes I’ve culled from presupper sources which affirm this in the essay I linked to). The Christian god is supposed to be a “trinity,” which I showed to be internally self-contradictory.

Keep in mind why I quoted what I quoted, Rick. You suggested that Christians choose not to dialogue with me because I “don’t present any specific propositions.” I quoted several specific propositions from my writings for you to see, and the very fact that you take issue with one of them only confirms that it’s specific enough for it to qualify as such.

Rick: “It makes no claims of separated logic.”

I’m not sure what you mean by “separated logic,” but my point was made specifically in response to presuppositionalist rhetoric. Is that difficult for you to understand?

Rick: “One is not ‘more’ or less logic, but, rather, there is unity and harmony. Jesus stated He is one with the Father. He said ‘If you have seen me, you have seen the Father’. He was a perfect representation of the Father, not a separate ‘logic’.”

That is not what I argued. Go read the entire piece if you’re that confused.

Rick: “The Trinity is a mystery which, likely, is beyond our full human comprehension.”

Actually, there’s really no mystery here: it’s a self-contradiction. The mystery is why anyone would deny this. But it’s not a very compelling mystery. It’s just an expression of the believer’s inherent dishonesty.

I wrote: "Christianity explicitly holds that reality conforms to consciousness. You think a consciousness created the universe. That’s reality depending on consciousness."

Rick: “You seem to have many assumptions and also freely mix apples and oranges.”

How so? Indeed, I’m not mixing anything. I’m simply remaining consistent with the primacy of existence.

Rick: “I, as a human being, do not believe my consciousness creates reality.”

Why do you need to specify your consciousness here? Do you think any consciousness creates reality? That you feel a need to specify your consciousness here, suggests that you don’t want to take an absolute stand on the matter.

Rick: “Do I believe God was conscious of the universe as it was being created? Not necessarily.”

And of course, that’s not the issue, either. Do you believe that the universe was created by an act of consciousness? Yes or no?

Rick: “You, as someone who does not believe in God, seem to know a lot about what God is like. How do you know?”

It’s my business to know the content of the position I have chosen to critique. It’s too bad that Christians do not take the time to understand the positions that they choose to critique.

Rick: “Is it possible that God creates spontaneously and intuitively, without conscious thought, in a manner you are not aware of?”

I can imagine that a god does these things. But then I’m imagining, not identifying reality. What’s more important to you?

Regards,
Dawson

September 27, 2010 1:32 PM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Rick wrote:

And at the time the prophecy was written the rulers were called kings, not presidents. And does the prophecy state how many people will return by what time? No. The prophecy is still in the process of being fulfilled.

Ah, a liberal interpretation of a prophecy and one that's open-ended too.

In which case the prophecy is so indiscreet as to be meaningless.

Nostradamus and Old Mother Shipton would be proud.

What else have you got or is that your best shot ?

September 27, 2010 1:41 PM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 27, 2010 1:41 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “I've reviewed the Wiki Objectivism summary, which may be wrong, but it states: ‘Objectivism rejects belief in ‘every 'spiritual' dimension, force, Form, Idea, entity, power, or whatnot alleged to transcend existence’."

I would not recommend Wikipedia articles as a source for accurately learning the details of Objectivism, or any other worldview. Would you recommend Wikipedia over the bible as a source for accurately learning the details of “God’s word”?

Objectivism rejects every form of mysticism, Rick, including supernaturalism. I have examined this matter specifically at length here.

Rick: “This rejection is a starting point,”

Rejecting supernaturalism is not Objectivism’s starting point. The axioms are Objectivism’s starting point.

I wrote: "We do not begin by assuming a position is true (especially one as elaborate as the biblical worldview)."

Rick: “This is Atheistic Presuppositionalism”

I have no idea what you mean by “Atheistic Presuppositionalism.” As I pointed out in a previous message, we do not begin by negating or denying. Perhaps this point is lost on you. Also, my point in the above quote is that we do not begin by assuming elaborate, complex schemes as our starting point. I really don’t see how this could at all be controversial. But I suppose it could be for those who do want to start with a massive collection of assumptions in already in place, with no ability to know whether any of it is true.

Rick: “In ‘True Objectivism’ Truth would be sought for its own sake on a level playing field. This means any possible conjecture is formed and tested objectively. This is the basis of the scientific method:”

I do not think truth is something that should be “sought for its own sake.” Man needs truth in order to meet his needs. So if “Atheistic Presuppositionalism” entails the view that truth is something that would or should be “sought for its own sake,” then, contrary to your musings, I am not an “Atheistic Presuppositionalist.”

I’ve identified myself as an Objectivist. What does it gain you to wrestle with this?

Regards,
Dawson

September 27, 2010 1:46 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson,

You wrote: "Do you believe that the universe was created by an act of consciousness? Yes or no?"

- I cannot be certain and do not want to be presumptuous. It seems you want to make assumptions. You wrote "We do not begin by assuming a position is true." It seems you want to pick and choose your assumptions, depending on your personal goals. Am I correct?

Actually, yes, you clarified this later:

"Man needs truth in order to meet his needs." Instead of seeking truth for truth's sake, as the True Objectvist would do, and as the Scientific Method does, you have pre-qualified truth according to your worldview.

You see, I don't agree that is the purpose of truth. And you haven't proven to me why I should. Can you prove to me why I should not seek truth for its own sake? Can you prove that truth exists for man's utilitarianism and ego?

Regards,

Rick

September 27, 2010 9:02 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I asked: "Do you believe that the universe was created by an act of consciousness? Yes or no?"

Rick: “I cannot be certain and do not want to be presumptuous.”

At the very least, however, you seem to willing to grant validity to the idea that the universe was created by an act of consciousness. Is this accurate?

Rick: “It seems you want to make assumptions.”

Quite the opposite. I’m asking you to clarify your position so that I don’t have to rely on unchecked assumptions.

I wrote "We do not begin by assuming a position is true."

Rick: “It seems you want to pick and choose your assumptions, depending on your personal goals. Am I correct?”

No, you’re not correct, and you haven’t shown any evidence that I’m picking and choosing my assumptions in some reckless, expediently self-serving manner.

And I’ll stand by my above comment. We do not begin by assuming any position to be true. We begin by perceiving, then by identifying what we perceive, then integrating what we perceive, and building our basic knowledge, long before any “assumptions” come into play. Assumptions are only possible once one has a sum of knowledge to work with, for the concept ‘assumption’ implies a hierarchical relationship. But we do not begin with that sum of knowledge already in place. We have to develop it from our first conscious contact with reality.

I wrote: "Man needs truth in order to meet his needs."

I stated this in contrast to the view that we pursue truth “for its own sake.” If pursuing truth “for its own sake” were our ideal, we would quickly find ourselves counting the grains of sand on a beach for no other purpose than to establish the truth of how many grains of sand make up the beach. (Cf. government grants to the tune of $2 million to study the effects of crack cocaine on goats.) To treat truth as an end itself would undercut our needs as biological organisms which face a fundamental alternative (i.e., life vs. death). This doesn’t mean truth is dispensable. Quite the contrary, it’s extremely important: we need truth to help us live.

Rick: “Instead of seeking truth for truth's sake, as the True Objectvist would do, and as the Scientific Method does, you have pre-qualified truth according to your worldview.”

True Objectivists – i.e., those who ascribe to the philosophy of reason – do not seek truth “for truth’s sake.” They seek truth in order better and more successfully to meet their life needs, whatever they may be. Also, the scientific method does not per se seek truth; human beings do. They use the scientific method as a guide toward this goal.

As for your claim that I “have pre-qualified truth according to [my] worldview,” I do not know what you mean here. You’ll need to explain it if you want me to consider what you’re saying.

Rick: “You see, I don't agree that is the purpose of truth.”

You don’t agree that *what* is the purpose of truth? What specifically do you think the purpose of truth is, and why?

Rick: “And you haven't proven to me why I should.”

So far, this hasn’t been a central topic of our discussion. And why should I try to prove anything to you?

Rick: “Can you prove to me why I should not seek truth for its own sake?”

Rick, I really don’t care what you do.

Rick: “Can you prove that truth exists for man's utilitarianism and ego?”

You’re now shifting issues. The original issue was the purpose of seeking truth. Now you’ve changed it to why truth even exists in the first place.

Regards,
Dawson

September 27, 2010 10:09 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson.

You wrote: "At the very least, however, you seem to willing to grant validity to the idea that the universe was created by an act of consciousness. Is this accurate?"

- No, as I wrote, I believe that is presumptuous. It is well known, for example, that martial artists act in an intuitive, subconscious manner. The Japanese have a name for this: "The ultimate timing, sen-sen no sen, responds to an attack that has yet to be launched, one that has only just formed within the opponent’s mind." The defendant is not consciously aware of the attack but acts intuitively. Because you and Rand have subjectively eliminated this documented, paranormal phenomena, you cannot entertain the possibility that action may preclude consciousness.

http://www.martialdevelopment.com/blog/precognition-and-psychic-martial-arts/

You wrote: "you haven’t shown any evidence that I’m picking and choosing my assumptions in some reckless, expediently self-serving manner."

- Quite the opposite. I pointed out two major self-serving assumptions, which you have yet to seriously address.

You wrote: "And I’ll stand by my above comment. We do not begin by assuming any position to be true. We begin by perceiving, then by identifying what we perceive..."

As Wiki pointed out, ‘Objectivism rejects belief in ‘every 'spiritual' dimension, force, Form, Idea, entity, power, or whatnot alleged to transcend existence’."

By definition, you have "rejected" a possibility before you begin your process of perception.

You nitpicked about my definition of the Scientific Method, so I'll rephrase:

"HUMANS" use the Scientific Method forming a conjecture and testing it objectively, seeking truth for its own sake.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

In order to properly test the biblical world-view objectively, you would test it based on the conjecture that God exists, which Van Til suggests.

You wrote: "If pursuing truth “for its own sake” were our ideal, we would quickly find ourselves counting the grains of sand on a beach..."

- Sophomoric answer; we're talking about two viable world-views here, not sand on the beach.

I wrote: “Can you prove that truth exists for man's utilitarianism and ego?”

You wrote: "You’re now shifting issues. The original issue was the purpose of seeking truth. Now you’ve changed it to why truth even exists in the first place."

I believe it is a valid question, because you have made an assumption as to why truth exists.

In summary, your philosophy, called "Objectivism," is unwilling to make the conjecture that God exists and is therefore unwilling to objectively test it (I'll clarify: "Humans" who believe this are unwilling to do so). According to logic and the Scientific Method, this is in reality Atheistic Presuppositionalism, whether you want to acknowledge that or not.

September 27, 2010 11:29 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson.

You wrote: "At the very least, however, you seem to willing to grant validity to the idea that the universe was created by an act of consciousness. Is this accurate?"

- No, as I wrote, I believe that is presumptuous. It is well known, for example, that martial artists act in an intuitive, subconscious manner. The Japanese have a name for this: "The ultimate timing, sen-sen no sen, responds to an attack that has yet to be launched, one that has only just formed within the opponent’s mind." The defendant is not consciously aware of the attack but acts intuitively. Because you and Rand have subjectively eliminated this documented, paranormal phenomena, you cannot entertain the possibility that action may preclude consciousness.

You wrote: "you haven’t shown any evidence that I’m picking and choosing my assumptions in some reckless, expediently self-serving manner."

- Quite the opposite. I pointed out two major self-serving assumptions, which you have yet to seriously address.

You wrote: "And I’ll stand by my above comment. We do not begin by assuming any position to be true. We begin by perceiving, then by identifying what we perceive..."

As Wiki pointed out, ‘Objectivism rejects belief in ‘every 'spiritual' dimension, force, Form, Idea, entity, power, or whatnot alleged to transcend existence’."

By definition, you have "rejected" a possibility before you begin your process of perception.

You nitpicked about my definition of the Scientific Method, so I'll rephrase:

"HUMANS" use the Scientific Method forming a conjecture and testing it objectively, seeking truth for its own sake.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

In order to properly test the biblical world-view objectively, you would test it based on the conjecture that God exists, which Van Til suggests.

You wrote: "If pursuing truth “for its own sake” were our ideal, we would quickly find ourselves counting the grains of sand on a beach..."

- Sophomoric answer; we're talking about two viable world-views here, not sand on the beach.

I wrote: “Can you prove that truth exists for man's utilitarianism and ego?”

You wrote: "You’re now shifting issues. The original issue was the purpose of seeking truth. Now you’ve changed it to why truth even exists in the first place."

I believe it is a valid question, because you have made an assumption as to why truth exists.

In summary, your philosophy, called "Objectivism," is unwilling to make the conjecture that God exists and is therefore unwilling to objectively test it (I'll clarify: "Humans" who believe this are unwilling to do so). According to logic and the Scientific Method, this is in reality Atheistic Presuppositionalism, whether you want to acknowledge that or not.

September 27, 2010 11:31 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part I:

Rick: “…you cannot entertain the possibility that action may preclude consciousness.”

You clearly did not understand my original question. See this blog entry for some background on the matter.

Rick: “Quite the opposite. I pointed out two major self-serving assumptions, which you have yet to seriously address.”

I addressed them. You apparently did not read what I wrote, or you did not understand it.

Rick: “By definition, you have ‘rejected’ a possibility before you begin your process of perception.”

By *what* definition? How can rejecting anything be possible before one begins the process of perceiving things? Even the Wikipedia entry does not suggest this. Indeed, not only do you mischaracterize my position (even after you’ve been corrected on the matter), you beg the question by assuming that the supernatural is a legitimate possibility. You’ve not shown that it is a legitimate possibility. I’ve shown that it isn’t. (See here.)

This is what my challenge to you is about. Do you recall? Here it is again: Demonstrate how theism can be accepted as truthful on a basis wholly consistent with the primacy of existence.

I see that you have not attempted to answer it. You insisted that I answer your challenge, and I did, and even then you wanted me to answer it again, while failing not only to interact with my answers to your challenge, but also to address the challenge that I have laid before you.

You seem to be a painfully ungrounded thinker, Rick.

Rick: “You nitpicked about my definition of the Scientific Method,”

I corrected a mistaken assumption in your statement about the scientific method. I’d think you’d agree that this is not nitpicking since you keep making a big deal about assumptions.

Rick: “’HUMANS’ use the Scientific Method forming a conjecture and testing it objectively, seeking truth for its own sake.”

Which “humans” specifically seek truth “for its own sake”? What does that even mean, to seek truth “for its own sake”? Are you saying that people generally seek truth without any relevance to their need for it? Really, who does this? And why?

You seem to be getting this idea of seeking truth “for its own sake” from a quotation included in the Wikipedia article on the scientific method. The quote, attributed to Ibn Al-Haytham (965-1039, billed as “the great Islamic polymath”), reads as follows:

“Truth is sought for its own sake. And those who are engaged upon the quest for anything for its own sake are not interested in other things. Finding the truth is difficult, and the road to it is rough.”

Al-Haytham essentially makes my point for me. Notice the second sentence: “those who are engaged upon the question for anything for its own sake are not interested in other things.”

I’ve already pointed out to you, Rick, that, according to Objectivism, man’s purpose is to live and enjoy his life. Al-Haytham is essentially saying that those who pursue truth “for its own sake” are not interested in other things (e.g., life).

If you don’t like the fact that I pursue truth with a larger purpose in mind, you can pound sand. I’m not going to change simply because you disapprove.

Do you think people make ovens for the ovens' own sakes?

[Continued…]

September 28, 2010 12:49 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part II:

Rick: “In order to properly test the biblical world-view objectively, you would test it based on the conjecture that God exists, which Van Til suggests.”

Actually, I’ve done precisely this. In fact, apologists scold me for “testing” their bible because they say that it's tantamount to testing their god (since the bible is supposed to be “God’s word”), and that’s a big no-no in Christianity.

But just look at the promises which are put into Jesus’ mouth in the gospels regarding prayer and supplication. Take John 14:14. It states: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” That’s supposed to be Jesus talking there. I’m happy to test this, and assume that it comes from a faithful supernatural personality who stands by his promises. Watch:

O Lord, I have worn glasses since the fourth grade, and every year my eyes get worse and worse. Without my glasses, the wonderful world you created appears as a hazy fog, with no definition, no detail, no distinction between objects. I ask, in the spirit of John 14:14, that you restore my eyesight to 20/20 vision, so that I can once and for all do away with glasses for ever. I ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

Hmmm… everything’s still fuzzy when I take my glasses off.

Of course, you’re going to say this is somehow my fault (as if I want 20/80 vision!). You, the ever-open-minded valiant defender of Yahweh, who’s so concerned that everyone else take your pet possibilities seriously, will not consider the possibility that the bible you’ve been believing for who knows how long, is just as fictional as Ayn Rand’s novels. And yet, you continue to accuse me of making all kinds of “assumptions”, as if you didn’t do this yourself. Brother, can you not consider the beam in your own eye?

I wrote: "If pursuing truth ‘for its own sake’ were our ideal, we would quickly find ourselves counting the grains of sand on a beach..."

Rick: “Sophomoric answer; we're talking about two viable world-views here, not sand on the beach.”

Actually, we were talking about the idea of seeking truth “for its own sake.” I’ve connected man’s search for truth to a larger purpose, namely his needs as a biological organism. You seem to think man has no larger purpose for truth, but should seek it “for its own sake.” And you won’t even defend this view. You just chide me for showing how pointless such an exercise would be.

Rick had asked: “Can you prove that truth exists for man's utilitarianism and ego?”

I replied: "You’re now shifting issues. The original issue was the purpose of seeking truth. Now you’ve changed it to why truth even exists in the first place."

Rick: “I believe it is a valid question, because you have made an assumption as to why truth exists.”

Now you’re dissembling. I have nowhere assumed that “truth exists for man’s utilitarianism and ego.” And you’ll nowhere find that I have affirmed such a view. So why would I try to prove such a view? Why even attribute such a view to me? No, your question is in fact not valid; it commits the fallacy of complex question: it assumes a false premise.

If you think I’ve made some other “assumption as to why truth exists,” kindly quote what I stated and explain how it validates your question.

[Continued…]

September 28, 2010 1:00 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part III:

Rick: “In summary, your philosophy, called ‘Objectivism’, is unwilling to make the conjecture that God exists and is therefore unwilling to objectively test it”

I'll make this very clear for you, Rick:

Objectivism rejects the arbitrary. Once a claim has been determined to be arbitrary, it is therefore to be discarded. The claim that a god exists is arbitrary. I have “tested” this in so many ways on my blog and website that it’s amazing any visitor who has read anything of mine wouldn’t know this. I’ve even given you links to some papers of mine where I do this.

So, just to make sure you understand: it is because the claim that a god exists is arbitrary that Objectivism rejects it.

There’s no “unwillingness to objectively test” anything.

If you have a defense for the claim that a god exists, by all means present it, I’ll be happy to show you that I’m willing to objectively test it.

But you should note something here: By “objectively test” a claim, this would at minimum entail measuring that claim against the primacy of existence, i.e., the recognition that the objects of consciousness hold metaphysical primacy in the subject-object relationship. But there’s the rub, Rick: that’s precisely why I reject god-belief, because it violates the primacy of existence. Again, see my blog which makes this case specifically. Here’s the link again: How Theism Violates the Primacy of Existence.

Rick: “According to logic and the Scientific Method, this is in reality Atheistic Presuppositionalism, whether you want to acknowledge that or not.”

No, not "according to logic and the Scientific Method." According to you, Rick.

I already stated that I do not know what you mean by “Atheistic Presuppositionalism.” And here you use this expression again without informing it. Why don’t you explain your own terms when other parties to the conversation have already indicated that they don’t know what you’re talking about?

Let me ask you, Rick: What exactly are you trying to get out of this discussion? Over and over again, you show yourself to be a very disorganized, careless, even belligerent thinker. Are you trying to show the world some kind of "here's your mind on Christianity" scenario or something?

Regards,
Dawson

September 28, 2010 1:07 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson,

I'd like to answer your points and the articles you've referenced in article form at some point. But first I'd appreciate it if you would clarify an issue.

You wrote: “How can rejecting anything be possible before one begins the process of perceiving things? Even the Wikipedia entry does not suggest this.”

The Wiki quote is this: “Objectivism rejects belief in 'every 'spiritual' dimension, force, Form, Idea, entity, power, or whatnot alleged to transcend existence.;"

This is actually from a quote by Leonard Peikoff, considered Rand's chief student. How did I “mischaracterize” your position? Do you believe Peikoff's quote accurately represents Objectivism, yes, or no? Is it not an unqualified and outright rejection of the supernatural?

So far, you've alleged 1) You don't need to (and have no desire to) test and address the “arbitrary” question of the supernatural 2) Yet, you've written articles that you claim defeat the question of the supernatural and God. 3) That I have mis-characterized you pointing out Rand's (and your) Objectivism includes an unqualified rejection of the supernatural. 4) You apparently don't believe your rejection of the supernatural effects your perception in a subjective manner.

If my comments seem unorganized to you, perhaps it's because your positions are not very clear. It would be especially helpful for my article if you would clarify once and for all what your position is on the supernatural based on these four points. Thanks.

Regards,

Rick

September 29, 2010 9:25 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part I:

Rick: "This is actually from a quote by Leonard Peikoff, considered Rand's chief student. How did I ‘mischaracterize’ your position?”

I never stated that Peikoff’s statement (or your quoting it) mischaracterizes my position. I simply cautioned you not to rely on Wikipedia articles as your source of information on Objectivism. For one thing, it will not give you the entire underlying context of statements like the one quoted from Peikoff’s book.

Rick: “Do you believe Peikoff's quote accurately represents Objectivism, yes, or no?”

Here’s what Peikoff writes as a brief summary of the position he hitherto lays out in his book:

“Objectivism advocates reason as man’s only means of knowledge, and, therefore, it does not accept God or any variant of the supernatural. We are a-theist, as well as a-devilist, a-demonist, a-gremlinist. We reject every “spiritual” dimension, force, Form, Idea, entity, power, or whatnot alleged to transcend existence. We reject idealism. To put the point positively: we accept reality, and that’s all.” (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pp. 32-33)

Check the record, I never suggested that this statement does not accurately represent Objectivist teachings.

Rick: “Is it not an unqualified and outright rejection of the supernatural?”

It depends on what you mean by “unqualified and outright” here. It is an absolute, unequivocal and uncompromising rejection of the notion of the supernatural, but also understand that there is a philosophical context which underlies this rejection. I suspect that you do not grasp this underlying context, but at the very least you should be aware that it exists, as it provides for the soundness of our rejection of the supernatural.

Does it bother you that I reject the notion of the supernatural? If so, why? Why would what I do or don't do even matter to you?

Or are you worried that my position might be right?

[Continued…]

September 29, 2010 11:05 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part II:

Rick: “1) You don't need to (and have no desire to) test and address the ‘arbitrary’ question of the supernatural 2) Yet, you've written articles that you claim defeat the question of the supernatural and God.”

Here’s what I wrote: “I am a former Christian myself. What else do I need to do to ‘test’ the Christian view and approach?”

You have not answered this question. Why?

Of course, it is in fact the case that I have no need (i.e., obligation) to test and address arbitrary notions like “the supernatural.” When I write articles critiquing theistic apologetics, I do this, not because I need to, but because I choose to. There’s no conflict here. It’s like Rachmaninoff: he had no need or obligation to compose his Morceaux de fantasie, he chose to compose them.

Rick: “3) That I have mis-characterized you pointing out Rand's (and your) Objectivism includes an unqualified rejection of the supernatural.”

Again, you show astounding carelessness in your reading skills. Your mischaracterization was in saying that I “have ‘rejected’ a possibility before [I] begin [I] process of perception.” I never stated that the Peikoff quote mischaracterizes Objectivism. If you think I did, you’ll need to find exactly what I wrote where you think I did this, and re-read it, carefully this time.

Rick: “4) You apparently don't believe your rejection of the supernatural effects your perception in a subjective manner.”

It doesn’t. I still perceive objects around me, just as I did before my sojourn as a Christian, just as I did when I was a Christian. My essential biological make-up has not changed. What’s changed is my ability to identify objectively that which I perceive. While as a Christian, I had to continually imagine that there were invisible magic beings (e.g., God, the Holy Spirit, angels, demons, devils, Satan, etc.) lurking behind everything I perceived. As Van Til puts it, "I could believe in nothing else if I did not, as back of everything, believe in this God" (“Toward A Reformed Apologetic,” 1972). I have since put away such childish things. And children posing as adults resent me for this.

Recall what I had stated in regard to your claim that the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 constitutes a “fulfillment” of a “prophecy” in Ezekiel: one will always be able to *imagine* that an invisible magic being is responsible for some given state of affairs. We have no choice, Rick, but to imagine your god when you urge us to believe it is real.

So you see, Rick, I'm being entirely consistent in my position.

Rick: “If my comments seem unorganized to you, perhaps it's because your positions are not very clear.”

Rick, you need to take ownership of your own carelessness, errors and misstatements. These defects are not a result of anything I have done. You have only yourself to blame for this.

Rick: “It would be especially helpful for my article if you would clarify once and for all what your position is on the supernatural based on these four points.”

Here’s the bottom line, Rick: “the supernatural” is imaginary. What’s so difficult to understand about this?

Regards,
Dawson

September 29, 2010 11:14 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

By the way, Rick, I still need to wear my glasses to correct my vision. Apparently prayer to a god who makes the promise "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it" (Jn. 14:14) ends in failure.

Can you explain this?

How else do you think I should test the Christian worldview, if not by giving its promises a whirl?

Regards,
Dawson

September 29, 2010 12:07 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson,

Thank you for your clarification. you stated you basically agree with Peikoff on Rand's philosophy known as "Objectivism":

"It is an absolute, unequivocal and uncompromising rejection of the notion of the supernatural, but also understand that there is a philosophical context which underlies this rejection."

You qualify your statement based on your "philosophical context" which is, in essence, your choice of the latter of only two possible explanations for reality: either primacy of consciousness or the primacy of existence, as defined in your articles. Are we good so far?

And you affirmed your opinion, basically that "Your mischaracterization was in saying that I have rejected a possibility before I begin the process of perception."

One question I'm still not clear on. Maybe it's just a question of semantics. When is your perception ever open to the possibility of the supernatural if you hold an "absolute" rejection of this possibility? In what specific manner did I mischaracterize your position?

September 29, 2010 3:50 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “You qualify your statement based on your ‘philosophical context’ which is, in essence, your choice of the latter of only two possible explanations for reality: either primacy of consciousness or the primacy of existence, as defined in your articles. Are we good so far?”

The point I was trying to emphasize is that Objectivism’s rejection of the supernatural is *not* its starting point. Remember your earlier accusation: “You begin with the presupposition, as Rand did, that God does not exist.”

The human mind does not begin by negating or denying, but (as I had also mentioned) by perceiving (a pre-conceptual conscious activity which automatically integrates sensations into percepts), then by identifying what we perceive, then by integrating what we perceive and identify into a larger sum, which we call *knowledge*. We do this by means of concepts. We do not begin with concepts already formed in our minds. This is a skill that we have to learn.

Objectivism’s starting points are the axioms: existence, identity, and consciousness, and the primacy of existence. The primacy of existence tells us (among other things) that there is a fundamental distinction between what is real and what we imagine. Since “the supernatural” is imaginary, it is not real. Therefore, it does not exist. Q.E.D.

Rick: “One question I'm still not clear on. Maybe it's just a question of semantics. When is your perception ever open to the possibility of the supernatural if you hold an ‘absolute’ rejection of this possibility?”

Perception is not a faculty which entertains possibilities. Perception is the direct awareness of objects which exist within the range of our senses. For instance, I perceive the computer keyboard, my monitor, my coffee cup, my telephone, a stack of books, business cards, some pens and highlighters, ear phones, etc., all of which are tangled in a mess on my desk. If I go downstairs, I will no longer be perceiving these items, but will instead be perceiving a different set of items. So the question whether or not my perception will ever be “open to the possibility of the supernatural” is faulty, for it misconstrues the nature of perception.

But since you’re very concerned about me entertaining “the possibility of the supernatural,” you will need to

1. define what you mean by “the supernatural,”

2. identify the means by which one can have awareness of it (either by perceiving it directly, as I perceive the items on my desk, or by inference from things we do perceive, or by some other means which you must identify), and

3. explain how I can reliably distinguish what you call “the supernatural” from something you may merely be imagining.

So you have some work cut out for you here. Don’t just condemn people for rejecting something. If you think there’s validity to the idea, then lay out your case.

Rick: “In what specific manner did I mischaracterize your position?”

You had stated: “By definition, you have ‘rejected’ a possibility before you begin your process of perception.”

Rejecting anything, is a mental activity. There is no mental activity before one has begun the process of perception. Prior to perceiving anything, one would have nothing to be aware of to reject, and he wouldn’t have the conceptual tools needed to do the rejecting. Essentially, your characterization commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

Hope that helps.

Regards,
Dawson

September 29, 2010 4:35 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson,

You ask how I define the spiritual. I believe in God in addition to other spiritual beings and spiritual power. I believe there are visible evidences of these realities at times, documented unexplainable healing, prophetic dreams and other examples. though I believe the spiritual is generally on a different plane of existence, I believe it is perceivable at times.

Here is a video of a man who can create fire with his hand. This is similar to turning water into wine. It breaks the naturalistic mold. Neither the mind nor the body can naturally create fire starting temperatures.

I believe the martial arts frequently use occult demonic power whether they realize it or not. He says his dead master spoke to him in a dream and told him to stop showing off. Do you believe dreams are ipso facto always mental imaginations? In what case would you consider something to be possibly supernatural?

http://tinyurl.com/376gwlc

Regards,

Rick

September 30, 2010 9:42 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “You ask how I define the spiritual.”

Rick, I issued a three-point challenge to you in my previous message. Here are the three questions again:

1. define what you mean by “the supernatural,”

2. identify the means by which one can have awareness of it (either by perceiving it directly, as I perceive the items on my desk, or by inference from things we do perceive, or by some other means which you must identify), and

3. explain how I can reliably distinguish what you call “the supernatural” from something you may merely be imagining.

You will see that in my first point, I did not ask how you define “the “spiritual,” but how you define “the supernatural.” Even when speaking of “the spiritual,” you fail to offer a definition. You need to define your terms in order for your claims to have any meaningful content.

Rick: “I believe in God in addition to other spiritual beings and spiritual power.”

We already know what you *believe*. I'm looking for how you can address my three questions. The second point in my challenge to you is for you to identify the means by which you can have awareness of these “spiritual beings,” and my third point is for you to explain how I can reliably distinguish between what you call “the supernatural” (e.g., “God,” “spiritual power,” etc.) and what you may merely be imagining. Where is your answer to these?

Rick: “I believe there are visible evidences of these realities at times, documented unexplainable healing, prophetic dreams and other examples.”

We can explore these specifically once you have addressed my three points above. Until then, telling me what you *believe* is neither here nor there.

Also, it appears by what you say here (“documented unexplainable healing”) that “the supernatural” is something you appeal to when you have no idea what else could be the cause of the phenomenon in question. This is a classic appeal to ignorance. You don’t seem to be aware of this.

Rick: “though I believe the spiritual is generally on a different plane of existence, I believe it is perceivable at times.”

What do you mean by “a different plane of existence,” by what means are you aware of it (you say “at times” it is “perceivable” – you need to explain this), and how do we distinguish it from something you may be imagining?

I can *imagine* a “different plane of existence,” but you do realize that there’s a profound difference between reality and imagination, do you not?

Rick: “Here is a video of a man who can create fire with his hand. This is similar to turning water into wine. It breaks the naturalistic mold. Neither the mind nor the body can naturally create fire starting temperatures.”

In other words: “I don’t know how this guy could be doing this, so it must be evidence of the supernatural.” Right? That’s an appeal to ignorance. You need to do better than this, Rick.

As for dreams, they are not a means of discerning reality.

Rick: “In what case would you consider something to be possibly supernatural?”

I think I’ve already addressed this fully right here.

Regards,
Dawson

September 30, 2010 10:18 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

1. define what you mean by “the supernatural,”- Spiritual phenomena described in the Bible.

2. "identify the means by which one can have awareness of it." - It's existence can be proven, for example, by highly specific recorded prophecies (and dreams) which have been historically fulfilled.Naturalism cannot account for this. I've mentioned my article "An Open Challenge to Bible Critics" but you offhand dismissed the possibility that prophecy can occur. Have you read my article which offers this proof including Daniel's prophecy of Messiah's coming, Daniel 9:25?: http://tinyurl.com/2fwefqp

3. "explain how I can reliably distinguish what you call “the supernatural” from something you may merely be imagining?" - Easy, you cannot imagine highly specific events which actually the future. This defies the time-space continuum. In addition to hundreds of scriptural prophecies, people such as my wife have prophetic and highly specific dreams about the future which come to pass.

September 30, 2010 7:49 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

There was a typo:

3. "explain how I can reliably distinguish what you call “the supernatural” from something you may merely be imagining?" - Easy, you cannot imagine highly specific events which occur in the future. This defies the time-space continuum. In addition to hundreds of scriptural prophecies, people such as my wife have prophetic and highly specific dreams about the future which come to pass.

Regards,

Rick

September 30, 2010 7:51 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part I:

Rick’s “definition” of “the supernatural”: “Spiritual phenomena described in the Bible.”

By definition, then, this automatically rules out the guy in the video who makes fire with his hands, since what he’s doing is not described in the bible. It also rules out your wife’s supposedly prophetic dreams, since those too are not described in the bible.

Unfortunately, you need a definition which actually isolates the essential(s) of what you mean by “the supernatural.” This one obviously won’t do because it limits all “spiritual phenomena”(a notion which also needs to be defined) to things “described in the Bible,” in which case nothing that is not described in the bible qualifies (since “described in the Bible” is part of your definition). Most importantly, you need to isolate what distinguishes “the supernatural” not only from what is natural, but also from what is merely imaginary.

In answer to my challenge to identify the means by which one can have awareness of “the supernatural,” Rick wrote:

“It's existence can be proven, for example, by highly specific recorded prophecies (and dreams) which have been historically fulfilled. Naturalism cannot account for this.”

So, in other words, you are not *directly* aware of “the supernatural,” as you are directly aware of, say, the coffee cup you drink from in the morning before you go to work. Is that right? What you’re saying here is that the existence of “the supernatural” is something one *infers*. This is clear because you say its existence can be *proven*. Proof is a process of demonstrating the logical connection between that which is not perceptually self-evident to that which is perceptually self-evident. If this is the case, then we go back to my initial challenge to you:

Demonstrate how theism can be accepted as truthful on a basis wholly consistent with the primacy of existence.

Remember that one? You still have not addressed it.

Rick: “I've mentioned my article ‘An Open Challenge to Bible Critics’ but you offhand dismissed the possibility that prophecy can occur.”

You need to validate the notion of divinely inspired prophecy if you’re going to appeal to it as a premise in your “proof” for the existence of “the supernatural.” In order to validate it, you need, at the very minimum, demonstrate its consistency with the primacy of existence. But there’s the rub, Rick: the primacy of existence necessarily rules out the notion of divinely inspired anything, since the very notion “divinely inspired” presupposes the primacy of consciousness.

Besides, appealing to divinely inspired prophecy in order to prove the existence of “the supernatural” can only beg the question – it would assume the reality of the very thing you’re called to prove. Surely you’d want your proof of “the supernatural” to be free of fallacies, no?

Rick: “Have you read my article which offers this proof including Daniel's prophecy of Messiah's coming, Daniel 9:25?: http://tinyurl.com/2fwefqp”

Nope. And I don’t see any need to read it. As I’ve pointed out before, I am convinced that the gospels are invented narratives based in part on snippets taken OT texts, such as the prophets and the wisdom literature. This would not be difficult for any creative writer to do, and the product could easily look like the story was fulfilling “prophecies” supposedly present in the source texts.

[Continued…]

September 30, 2010 9:27 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part II:

In response to my request for Rick to explain how I can reliably distinguish between what he calls “the supernatural” and what he may merely be imagining, he wrote:

Rick: “Easy, you cannot imagine highly specific events which occur in the future.”

Even if this were the case (and there is in fact a sense in which we can imagine future events – we do it all the time), how does this address my question? How does it explain how I can reliably distinguish between what you call “God” and what you may merely be imagining? Your god is not supposed to be an *event* (even a future event), but an independently existing being. It’s supposed to exist right now. If we have sensory contact with things in the present, we are not aware of them by means of imagination, but by means of perception. But I certainly do not perceive your god. I know of no alternative to imagining it, and I know of no way to distinguish it from what you may simply be imagining.

So this is not helpful unfortunately.

Rick: ”In addition to hundreds of scriptural prophecies, people such as my wife have prophetic and highly specific dreams about the future which come to pass.”

I see, private revelations, eh? Interesting. Of course, one can imagine that all the prophecies of the bible have been fulfilled, but so long as there’s a fundamental distinction between what is real and what is imaginary, this is not helpful to your case. I can imagine that your wife has had prophetic dreams whose specifics have come to pass, but I’m still imagining at that point. So I am still unable to reliably distinguish between what you are calling “the supernatural” and what you may merely be imagining. Don’t you realize this is a problem for your position?

And how about praying for my eyesight to improve? I still need to wear glasses you know, even though I prayed believing the promise that what I prayed would be given to me, as promised in Jn. 14:14. If suddenly my eyesight were 20/20, I would tell you first.

At any rate, Rick, nothing you give here tells me how I can distinguish what you call “God” from what you may merely be imagining. One can easily imagine

Regards,
Dawson

September 30, 2010 9:29 PM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Dawson, I was hoping that when Rick started posting that we might have something serious to deal with but it's basically the same old, same old.

And now Rick has descended into submitting hearsay as evidence.

September 30, 2010 11:31 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Paul,

You're right, it is the same old same old, just a different face, and somewhat different wording.

Christians are always looking for some backdoor means of sneaking their illicit premises into the room.

By holding Rick's feet to the fire, however, I hope that anyone who might happen to read our discussion someday will discover some fundamental truths about the nature of the debate. The Christian seeks psychological refuge in a fantasy, a realm where reality and imagination are essentially indistinguishable from one another. This is why the questions I've posed to Rick are so important: they cut to the heart of the issue. Can he define his key terms, identify the means by which he's aware of what he calls "the supernatural," and distinguish "the supernatural" from what he might really only be imagining?

So far, on all three counts, he's fallen way behind, probably more so than he realizes ("the Force is strong with this one"). At this point, he's put so much of himself into the discussion that he senses a feeling of commitment, if nothing else to save face, if not for himself, then for Jesus, his imagnary lord and savior. As a missionary, Rick is in the prescribed mode: defend the god-belief at all costs (even his own credibility).

It's sad to see, but he offers himself up as a specimen to learn from.

Regards,
Dawson

September 30, 2010 11:54 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

Part 1.

In your rush to dismiss evidence, you are getting careless in your reading:

DB: "By definition, then, this automatically rules out the guy in the video who makes fire with his hands, since what he’s doing is not described in the bible. It also rules out your wife’s supposedly prophetic dreams, since those too are not described in the bible."

RW: I previously wrote: "I believe the martial arts frequently use occult demonic power whether they realize it or not." - The guy in the video who creates fire, is not inconsistent with my definition of the supernatural.

My wife's prophetic dreams are a testimony to the many instances of prophetic dreams in scripture. I mentioned that archeology has proven the Hebrews dwelt in the land of Goshen Egypt. How did they get their? Joseph interpreted prophetic dreams and saved the Jews and founders of Israel from famine. The migration of the Jews to Egypt is a historical fact. Daniel had prophetic dreams, as did others in the Bible.

DB: "In order to validate it (prophecy), you need, at the very minimum, demonstrate its consistency with the primacy of existence.

RW: We've been there before. (Philosphically) "It is an absolute, unequivocal and uncompromising rejection of the notion of the supernatural." Right? Wrong!

You said no, it's not so "unequivocal" you have to verify with observed reality as a test:

“Objectivism points out that just by opening our eyes and seeing anything, we are confirming the truth of the axioms.” “The human mind begins by perceiving...” “We do not begin with concepts already formed in our minds. This is a skill that we have to learn.”

Circular reasoning. You refuse to test my evidence because of the axioms. You refuse to philosophically and “absolutely” reject the supernatural without first saying you have tested it by your perception.

DB: “appealing to divinely inspired prophecy in order to prove the existence of “the supernatural” can only beg the question – it would assume the reality of the very thing you’re called to prove.”

RW: Highly specific prophecies written by humans and fulfilled years later are unexplained by natural law. If I prove these prophecies are documented and valid, I disprove the atheistic assumption the natural world is all that exists, and by definition, I have proven the supernatural.

You refuse to test Old Testament (OT) prophecies because you are “convinced” the gospels are invented narratives. Your obvious lack of OT and NT biblical knowledge, however, shows you neither understand what is written in the Bible nor how to interpret it.

Continued...

October 01, 2010 1:54 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Hypothetical Objectivist and Christian:

OB: Reality is what is perceived and considered reasonable.
CH: Reason itself is not observable.
OB: Reason is implicitly proven by functional use in analyzing the observable universe.
CH: In observing and analyzing the universe, an Intelligent Designer seems more reasonable.
OB: You cannot just invent God. God is not observable and therefore not real.
CH: Wind is not visible, but known by its effects. God is not visible, but the most reasonable explanation for the existence of the universe.
OB: I have a philosophical system, Objectivism, which refutes the idea of God.
CH: Let's fully consider it and honestly test it. Then would you be willing to test my hypothesis?
OB: No, yours cannot be true because my hypothesis disproves it.
CH: How do you know?
OB: Because my maxims disprove it.
CH: Do they absolutely disprove God?
OB: Yes and no.There is also observation and testing involved.
CH: So, essentially, your philosophical system uses circular reasoning to verify itself. So far, this seems like Atheistic Presuppositionalism. I would certainly like to know why this is not what it appears to be.

Best regards,

Rick

October 01, 2010 2:33 AM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Rick wrote:

You refuse to test Old Testament (OT) prophecies because you are “convinced” the gospels are invented narratives. Your obvious lack of OT and NT biblical knowledge, however, shows you neither understand what is written in the Bible nor how to interpret it.


(This comment has appeared in my email but not on the blog yet).

Rick, my knowledge of the Bible has been what Christians have told me. I haven't felt the need to read the Bible for more than 35 years.

You put forward the Prophecies of Ezekiel - why do I need to read the relevant passages when I can ask you to quote them and I can then demonstrate that the only way anyone can claim that that prophecy has been fulfilled would be to permit such a vague interpretation that the nonsensical prophecies of Nostrodamus and Mother Shipton would also be valid.

And here you are again pleading the same thing - if only we 'knew' how to interpret the Bible,very vaguely seems to be your recommendation, then it would all make sense.

Next you go on to demonic influences on the martial Arts (by which I think you may be referring to Aikido and the use of 'Ki') which only adds to how seriously we show read your posts.

Having read your latest posts I think we can only sit back and wait for a real Christian heavyweight to arrive and start making alot more sense than you have up to now.

Perhaps you should ask David Robertson ? Although not actually a heavyweight he does like to think he is.

October 01, 2010 4:11 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part I:

Rick: “The guy in the video who creates fire, is not inconsistent with my definition of the supernatural.”

Rick, the definition of “the supernatural” that you gave included the requirement that the “spiritual phenomena” to which it refers be “described in the Bible.” Unless you can find where “the Bible” describes what this guy is doing, then it falls outside your definition of “the supernatural.” I noted other problems with your definition as well (e.g., it mentions “spiritual phenomena,” which you have not defined). I think you need to go back and re-think your definition. It’s clearly not up to the task you require of it.

Rick: “My wife's prophetic dreams are a testimony to the many instances of prophetic dreams in scripture.”

That’s how you interpret them. I see them as evidence that your wife’s mind has been marinating in biblical mysticism, probably for some time now. I suggest she seek help immediately.

Rick: “I mentioned that archeology has proven the Hebrews dwelt in the land of Goshen Egypt.”

People living in a certain place on the earth is not evidence of “the supernatural,” nor does it prove any of the “spiritual phenomena described in the Bible.” There’s nothing incompatible between the fact that ancient people lived in a certain place and the fundamental tenets of rational philosophy. That people lived in a certain place on the earth is perfectly compatible with the fact that legends about those people being guided by an invisible magic being may have circulated among them and their descendents.

You need to do better, Rick.

Rick: “How did they get their?” [sic]

Is this our cue for throwing up our hands in ignorance and exclaiming Duh, I donno! Must be God did it!?

Rick: “Joseph interpreted prophetic dreams and saved the Jews and founders of Israel from famine.”

That’s the legend recorded in the bible. What you need to do is validate the claim that this accurately represents what actually happened. Simply reading this in the bible and finding evidence of settlements in a certain place on earth, is not sufficient to validate what the bible says. It’s amazing that you would need this explained to you.

DB: "In order to validate it (prophecy), you need, at the very minimum, demonstrate its consistency with the primacy of existence.

Rick: “We've been there before. (Philosphically) ‘It is an absolute, unequivocal and uncompromising rejection of the notion of the supernatural.’ Right? Wrong!”

What are you talking about? You’ve not even begun to demonstrate the consistency of divinely inspired prophecy with the primacy of existence.

Rick quoted several statements of mine: “Objectivism points out that just by opening our eyes and seeing anything, we are confirming the truth of the axioms.” “The human mind begins by perceiving...” “We do not begin with concepts already formed in our minds. This is a skill that we have to learn.”

Rick: “Circular reasoning.”

How so? None of these were presented as arguments; rather, I’m pointing to relevant facts here. So there’s no “circular reasoning” in what I stated above.

Do you understand the axioms? Do you understand what perception is? Do you understand how the mind forms concepts? You won’t learn about any of this from the bible of course, so I’m guessing you might not know about these things. Hence your mistake.

[Continued…]

October 01, 2010 10:43 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part II:

Rick: “You refuse to test my evidence because of the axioms.”

Please explain how you think I should “test” your “evidence.” You’ve given no objective criteria. You can’t even give a suitable definition of your own terms. Your whole method comes across as though you expect me to accept your claims on your say so.

Moreover, if a claim or viewpoint violates the axioms, then I am going to reject it. I know this bothers you to no end. But you don’t explain why it bothers you. (You don’t have to – I already know why.)

Rick: “You refuse to philosophically and ‘absolutely’ reject the supernatural without first saying you have tested it by your perception.”

How do I “test” the “spiritual phenomena described in the Bible” by means of perception? I cannot perceive Moses parting the Red Sea; I cannot perceive Jonah being swallowed by the fish; I cannot perceive Jesus cursing the fig tree; I cannot perceive Jesus rising from the dead. I can *read* about these so-called “spiritual phenomena,” but then I have no alternative but to *imagine* them. Similarly, I can read Harry Potter novels and imagine what they describe. I see no reason to believe Harry Potter novels as accurate depictions of reality, and likewise I see no reason to believe what the bible says as an accurate depiction of reality.

Keep in mind that your definition of “the supernatural” (namely “spiritual phenomena described in the Bible”) points directly to our imagination. The bible *describes* things; we *read* those descriptions; then we *imagine* them. Just like Harry Potter novels. Your whole worldview is stranded in the imagination, Rick.

I wrote: “appealing to divinely inspired prophecy in order to prove the existence of ‘the supernatural’ can only beg the question – it would assume the reality of the very thing you’re called to prove.”

Rick: “Highly specific prophecies written by humans and fulfilled years later are unexplained by natural law.”

In other words, you appeal to ignorance here (on top of assuming the legitimacy of what you call “highly specific prophecies”). Your whole case is laden with fallacies from head to toe, Rick. We already saw how the Ezekiel prophecy failed. Got any others you want to discuss? Bring it on.

Rick: “If I prove these prophecies are documented and valid, I disprove the atheistic assumption the natural world is all that exists, and by definition, I have proven the supernatural.”

This might impress the folks in the pews who want to believe, Rick. But you’re so in over your head here that it’s clear you don’t even see it.

Rick: “You refuse to test Old Testament (OT) prophecies because you are ‘convinced’ the gospels are invented narratives.”

I’ve already “tested” the gospels, Rick. It’s not an issue of my reluctance or refusal. If I refused to “test” these things, I wouldn’t have examined them and written about them as I have.

Rick: “Your obvious lack of OT and NT biblical knowledge, however, shows you neither understand what is written in the Bible nor how to interpret it.”

You just don’t like my conclusions is all. And because you don’t like the conclusions I’ve drawn and confirmed after addressing challenges brought against them by readers, you say it’s because I’m uninformed on the matter. Where have you interacted with my writings on these topics, Rick? Nowhere that I can see. You can find my writings on these topics in posts #151 through #163 in my Year Four archive. Have at it.


[Continued…]

October 01, 2010 10:45 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part III:

Rick made some critical mistakes in his “Hypothetical Objectivist and Christian”:

OB: Reality is what is perceived and considered reasonable.

This is not Objectivism’s definition of ‘reality’. Objectivism holds that reality is the realm of existence. We do not characterize reality as being dependent on perception or our understanding of it. Objectivism is explicit on this: reality exists independent of conscious activity.

CH: Reason itself is not observable.

OB: Reason is implicitly proven by functional use in analyzing the observable universe.

Where does Objectivism say this? Do you know the Objectivist definition of ‘reason’?

CH: In observing and analyzing the universe, an Intelligent Designer seems more reasonable.

OB: You cannot just invent God. God is not observable and therefore not real.

Who has argued “God is not observable and therefore not real”? I’m waiting for you to explain how I can reliably distinguish between what you call “God” and what you might very well be imagining. If you recognize that there is a distinction between reality and imagination, then you should see that this is not an unreasonable request, given your desire that I accept your claim that your god exists.

Keep in mind also, Rick: the invisible and the non-existent look very much alike. And: the imaginary and the supernatural behave very much alike.

So this is your problem, since you affirm the existence of “the supernatural,” not mine.

CH: Wind is not visible, but known by its effects. God is not visible, but the most reasonable explanation for the existence of the universe.

Vision is only one of our modes of perception. I can *feel* wind on my skin by means of the sense of touch. So I can directly perceive the wind. I cannot see, hear, touch, taste or smell your god.

Also, the existence of the universe does not require an explanation. The universe is the sum total of that which exists. An “explanation” of existence would need to appeal to non-existence, otherwise you’d be pointing to existence to explain existence. That’s a non-starter, for you’d be using precisely what you’re called to explain to explain it. Given this, by pointing to your god as “the most reasonable explanation for the existence of the universe,” you are in fact tacitly admitting that your god does not exist, that it is merely imaginary.

OB: I have a philosophical system, Objectivism, which refutes the idea of God.

Indeed I do. And you seem unwilling to engage my refutation.

CH: Let's fully consider it and honestly test it. Then would you be willing to test my hypothesis?

OB: No, yours cannot be true because my hypothesis disproves it.

I am fully prepared to examine the issues openly and honestly. To prove this, I offer the writings on my blog and website. Where have you refuted any of it?

CH: How do you know?

OB: Because my maxims disprove it.

I’ve never stated this. My answer to the question “How do you know?” is: by means of reason. Reason is man’s only means of knowledge.

CH: Do they absolutely disprove God?

OB: Yes and no.There is also observation and testing involved.

Oh, they do absolutely disprove the claim that “God exists.” In fact, Anton Thorn shows how the claim “God exists” in fact contradicts itself. See here.

Theists won’t accept it, but that’s because they’ve got a confessional investment to protect.

CH: So, essentially, your philosophical system uses circular reasoning to verify itself.

How so? Objectivism does not establish its starting points by means of argument, for they are not truths that are *inferred*. The axioms identify facts that we directly perceive. So there’s no circular argument there, for there’s no argument to begin with. Where else do you think Objectivism uses circular reasoning? Be specific, and cite your sources.

Regards,
Dawson

October 01, 2010 10:46 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

DB: Unless you can find where “the Bible” describes what this guy is doing, then it falls outside your definition of “the supernatural.”

RW:Revelation 13:13: “He performs great signs even making fire.”
Here's the link to the guy who does this now. This is not a typically natural phenomena. Many reasonable people consider it a paranormal or supernatural act. Is there any possibility in your mind this could be supernatural?

http://tinyurl.com/376gwlc

DB: "In order to validate it (prophecy), you need, at the very minimum, demonstrate its consistency with the primacy of existence.”

RW: “We've been there before. (Philosophically) ‘It is an absolute, unequivocal and uncompromising rejection of the notion of the supernatural.’ Right? Wrong!”

I believe my point was missed here. Peikoff stated “We reject every “spiritual” dimension, force, Form, Idea, entity, power, or whatnot alleged to transcend existence.” and you agreed. I basically asked “When are you ever open to the possibility of the supernatural if you hold an 'absolute' rejection of this possibility?” You basically answered “The human mind does not begin by negating or denying, but by perceiving.” and “We do this by means of concepts. We do not begin with concepts already formed in our minds. This is a skill that we have to learn. “

Based on what you've written so far, it seems you consider that your prime existence theory proves an atheistic reality, but the theory necessitates “practice” in perception and reasoning for validation. Yet, when you practice your perception and reasoning, for all practical purposes, you have from the beginning discounted the possibility that anything you observe may be at all related to the supernatural.

This may not strictly be circular reasoning, but it is close. In any event, it seems very weak to me.

Next twist:

OB: No, yours cannot be true because my hypothesis disproves it.
CH: How do you know?
OB: Because my maxims disprove it.

DB: “I’ve never stated this. My answer to the question “How do you know?” is: by means of reason. Reason is man’s only means of knowledge.”

RW: This is a hypothetical conversation, not you, and thank you for clarifying your view of the official Objectivist position. I'm attempting to test it.

When I asked if your theory absolutely disproved God earlier, you hedged this by talking about the need for perception and reason practice first. But today you write: “Oh, they (your theory, maxims) do absolutely disprove the claim that “God exists.” In fact, Anton Thorn shows how the claim “God exists” in fact contradicts itself. See here.”

Can you please clarify your “final” answer on this? Does your theory of Primacy of Existence absolutely disprove God or not?
Here are two options so far:

1) The theory of Primacy of Existence absolutely disproves God in and of itself.

2) Reason is the only means of knowledge. Only by perceiving and practicing reasoning can I know anything for sure and confirm the theory is true.

Are there any more options I should be aware of?

Best regards,

Rick

October 01, 2010 1:48 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “RW:Revelation 13:13: ‘He performs great signs even making fire’.”

So for the last two thousand years, this verse was talking about this guy all along? There’s not much in the verse. How can you be sure it’s talking about this guy, and not someone else, or something in the writer's imagination that will never be?

Rick: “Based on what you've written so far, it seems you consider that your prime existence theory proves an atheistic reality, but the theory necessitates ‘practice’ in perception and reasoning for validation. Yet, when you practice your perception and reasoning, for all practical purposes, you have from the beginning discounted the possibility that anything you observe may be at all related to the supernatural.”

Rick, your statement here tells me that you do not know what you’re talking about. Specifically, it tells me that you do not understand what the issue of metaphysical primacy is, and that you have not been reading the articles I’ve linked to. If you’re interested in familiarizing yourself with the matter, here’s the link again: How Theism Violates the Primacy of Existence.

Rick: “This may not strictly be circular reasoning, but it is close.”

The primacy of existence is not circular reasoning. If you think it is, you’ll first need to understand what it is, and then – if you still think it’s circular – come back and show where it’s circular.

Rick: “Can you please clarify your ‘final’ answer on this? Does your theory of Primacy of Existence absolutely disprove God or not?”

Again, I’ve linked to the above article before. It explains what the primacy of existence is, why it is fundamentally true, and how theism violates it. This is absolute. There is no way that it can be wrong. If you don’t want to learn about it, don’t click on the link. But do not say that I have not been clear about this. It’s here, I’ve pointed you in the direction to go, if you’re sincerely interested. The rest is up to you.

Now I’ll ask again, Rick: Why do I still need my glasses? Why hasn’t your god restored 20/20 vision to my eyes? If “the supernatural” is real and stands by its promises, how do you explain my persisting nearsightedness?

Regards,
Dawson

October 01, 2010 3:51 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

RW: "Many reasonable people consider it a paranormal or supernatural act (a man making fire with his bare hand). Is there any possibility in your mind this could be supernatural?"

http://tinyurl.com/376gwlc

DB: ...No answer.

RW: Your answer will help me better clarify your position.

RW: The verse in context is an example of a supernatural sign for a specific individual, but does not state or imply that only this individual will have this ability.

DB: "your statement here tells me that you do not know what you’re talking about. Specifically, it tells me that you do not understand what the issue of metaphysical primacy is, and that you have not been reading the articles I’ve linked to."

RW: Though you refuse to read even one of my articles, I have read some of your articles and found assumptions and circular reasoning in them. Before I get into that I want to show you conclusively you are denying verified, documented facts in order to support your theory.

cont...

October 03, 2010 5:36 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Consider the Ezekiel 37:21-22 prophecy in it's full historical context and consider the laws of mathematical probability in estimating if its fulfillment is only mere chance.

There were at least 30 countries/nations in the world in 6C BCE, when Ezekiel recorded his prophecy. Of these, only one is known to have had prophecies of a great dispersion, 1/30. And of these countries, only one has had a prophecy of a great regathering, 1/900. And, of these, only one has had two such prophecies fulfilled, 1/27,000. (2 for one sale, only counted once). A second aspect of the prophecy is that Israel will not ever be divided again. Upon gaining sovereignty, Israel was immediately attacked by 7 Arab nations in the War of Independence, who basically still don't want to acknowledge Israel's sovereignty.

For the sake of argument, say they had a 50% chance of losing, but they won. 1/54,000. This was just one such war where they were greatly outnumbered. In the Six Days War, 9 Arab countries attacked Israel. Israel won and gained the Gaza Strip! Of the seven wars, five were decisive victories, two were perhaps ties. So factor in 4 more 50% chance victories (very generous) and you have 1/108K, 1/216K, 1/432K, 1/864, 000. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_wars#Wars_of_Israel)

Probability is a verifiable, mathematical law. There is a 1 in 864,000 chance this one prophecy was just an accident, and all you people can say is that the prophecy says a “king” not “president” will rule Israel. This is ridiculous because the word president was not even in the vocabulary at the time. It wasn't a choice. To invent a new language is not a burden a prophet is reasonably expected to bear. This prophecy is one of at least 10 other prophecies which have been fulfilled in Israel since 1948. Do you want the odds? No, why bother. Your minds are shut tighter than a steel trap door.

You claim to have a theory based on reason and objectivity, but, in practice, you must deny verifiable reality in an attempt to explain away mathematical evidence that doesn't fit your model. What is your explanation for this mathematical proof?

Best Regards,

Rick

October 03, 2010 5:39 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick, as a rule, I do not visit “tinyurl” links. If you cannot paste the actual address in your comment, and instead use a “tinyurl” link instead, I’m not going to visit it.

As for your question (“Is there any possibility in your mind this could be supernatural?”), I thought I had made my position on “the supernatural” crystal clear already. I don’t think the notion of “the supernatural” is a valid idea. So to answer your question, the answer is no.

Rick: ”Your answer will help me better clarify your position.”

I don’t know how I could have been more clear than the statements I’ve already made.

Regarding Revelation 13:13 (“He performs great signs even making fire”), Rick stated: “The verse in context is an example of a supernatural sign for a specific individual, but does not state or imply that only this individual will have this ability.”

My question is how we can reliably assume that the verse you cited in Revelation is speaking about the man you who you say can make fire with his hands. Is it just a coincidence, or do you really think this verse is prophesying about this particular individual?

I wrote: "your statement here tells me that you do not know what you’re talking about. Specifically, it tells me that you do not understand what the issue of metaphysical primacy is, and that you have not been reading the articles I’ve linked to."

Rick: “Though you refuse to read even one of my articles,”

I’m a pretty busy man, Rick, and as I have told you before, I have basically zero interest in so-called “prophecies.” Others have addressed this with far more patience than I have for it (cf.Tim Callahan for one). But you should not interpret this as a complete reluctance to read any of your articles. In fact, I recently read one of your blog entries on “how to practice God’s presence” (or something along those lines). Your guide reads like an exercise in how to *imagine* your god. In fact, the points you list in your advice to your readers make most sense if your god is in fact imaginary. I could think of no better list of steps myself in indulging one’s imagination as you have put together. Good job!

Rick: “I have read some of your articles and found assumptions and circular reasoning in them.”

You found “assumptions”? Oh my! Doesn’t everyone make assumptions?

As for circular reasoning, if you really found instances of this, please, bring it to my attention. Let’s look at it.

Rick: “Before I get into that I want to show you conclusively you are denying verified, documented facts in order to support your theory.”

Which theory in particular am I trying to support by “denying verified, documented facts,” and where have I denied these “verified, documented facts”?

[Continued…]

October 03, 2010 8:10 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: ”Consider the Ezekiel 37:21-22 prophecy in it's full historical context and consider the laws of mathematical probability in estimating if its fulfillment is only mere chance.”

Rick, we’ve already gone over this prophecy. You went on to calculate the probability of Israel becoming a nation again. But you seem to ignore the fact that I don’t think Israel’s founding in 1948 was by chance. As I pointed out, people made this happen. You want to ascribe the causality behind this event to your god, which I pointed out only discounts all the effort that human beings put forth to make it happen.

Also, as Paul Baird pointed out, the Ezekiel passage specifies that that there will be a king over the new nation. Have you been able to point to any king that has presided over Israel since 1948? Not that I’ve seen.

Rick: “Probability is a verifiable, mathematical law. There is a 1 in 864,000 chance this one prophecy was just an accident,”

You have it all wrong, Rick. I never suggested that Israel’s founding in 1948 was “just an accident.” I fully admit that there was volition behind this, namely human volition. You want to ascribe it to supernatural volition. Go ahead. That’s your choice, Rick. But don’t put words into my mouth.

As for the “1 in 864,000” odds of this happening, I’m not impressed, Rick. Unlikely things happen all the time. Pull out a dollar bill from your wallet (Rick, in your case, a single hryvnia should do). What are the odds that that very bank note should find its way into your hands? Of all the bank notes that have ever been printed throughout history, this one came into your hands.

I just checked my wallet. I have a 5-dollar bill with the following serial number: IB59893471A. Now, there is presumably only one 5-dollar bill in existence with this serial number. And out of the millions of 5-dollar bills in circulation, this one happened to find its way into my hot little hands. Consider the odds! If there are 10 million 5-dollar bills in circulation, that’s 1 in 10 million! If there are 50 million 5-dollar bills in circulation, that’s 1 in 50 million! Amazing odds! But, it happened. So what? The difference is that you assign certain significance to the occasion of the founding of Israel (specifically in order to confirm your god-belief), while I simply recognize the fact that unlikely things happen all the time.

Rick: “and all you people can say is that the prophecy says a ‘king’ not ‘president’ will rule Israel. This is ridiculous because the word president was not even in the vocabulary at the time. It wasn't a choice.”

Wait a minute? How can we accept that this is a divinely inspired prophecy, but then turn around and swallow the howler that the concept “president” wasn’t a choice? If your god were behind all this, it surely could have been a choice. Doesn’t your omniscient god know the difference between a king and a president? Didn’t your omniscient god know that the new Israel would be governed by a popularly elected president, and not a king? “Wasn’t a choice”? On the contrary, this would be the granddaddy of missed opportunities: the 6c BC would have been a good occasion for the creator deity to introduce the concept of a president to humanity. But you’re essentially saying that it deliberately chose to keep this concept a secret, until two millennia later human beings stumbled upon it by their own discoveries.

Rick: “Do you want the odds? No, why bother. Your minds are shut tighter than a steel trap door.”

Don’t get sore, Rick. Ask yourself: why does it bother you?

Rick: “You claim to have a theory based on reason and objectivity, but, in practice, you must deny verifiable reality in an attempt to explain away mathematical evidence that doesn't fit your model.”

If you examine the debate with a sober mind, Rick, you’ll see that it is you who’s doing precisely this, not I.

Regards,
Dawson

October 03, 2010 8:10 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

So, to summarize your position, the man makes fire with his hands, and you offer no explanation but you assume, because of your theory, it is natural.

A prophecy is fulfilled in modern history with a 1 in 864,000 chance of coming to pass (randomly) and the best you can do is say "king" and not "president" was used in the prophecy, an argument of peripheral semantics, not even addressing the main issues: A nation disperse, a nation re-established, people returning and nation remaining undivided against incredible odds. When you were a Christian, did you read about the people who "strained out a gnat but swallowed a camel?"

You propose an example of a random 5 dollar bill coming into your possession as a corollary: "If there are 50 million 5-dollar bills in circulation, that’s 1 in 50 million! Amazing odds!"

The fact you don't see any difference between an example of a completely random 5 dollar bill and a highly specific prophecy from 2,500 years ago verified in our lifetime, shows you must use unsound reasoning in order to justify your philosophy.

If you must scratch at the bottom of the barrel, it probably infers your barrel is empty.

Now let's move on to clarify some of the unsound assumptions of your philosophy...

October 04, 2010 9:30 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

One of the presuppositions of Objectivism is that human perception and observation infer naturalism. Objectivists usually talk about a small object, such as a stapler on a desk, when making their analogies to support their philosophy. But when you objectify nature as a whole or the universe as a whole, the complex interdependent systems, in reality, infer an intelligent creator.

“Primitive” cultures which have lived in dependence on- and close harmony with nature have always acknowledged belief in the supernatural, because nature is highly organized, intelligent and implies, at face value, the pre-existence of intelligence and a creator. Sir Isaac Newton, who wrote the greatest science book ever written, Principia Mathematica, summarized “The most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.”

Though unsubstantiated, secular humanist teachings are used to promote atheism as the only viable world view in the education system today. But they must use censorship to eliminate all debate on the subject, because it has no philosophical or scientific foundation. Documentary "Expelled: no Intelligence Allowed" documents this censorship.

This false, unsubstantiated presupposition of atheism is just the beginning of the problems of this philosophy, which has many false assumptions and internal inconsistencies.

October 04, 2010 9:43 PM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Rick, once again you're cherrypicking your proofs for the prophecy.

There are still more Jews outside of Israel than inside.

Israel is not a united territory - Gaza is a separate administration, ditto most of the West Bank - both even by the judgement of the modern state of Israel.

The designation of who the ruler of Israel is and the nature of that rule is important - can you cite a single instance in the Bible when the description applied to a ruler is incorrect ? I would suggest not - a King is a King and a non-King is a non-King.

If Ezekiel was unsure he would have used the descriptor "Leader", not "King". King implies inheritance of power and lands, whereas "Leader" does not.

So quote your amazing odds if you want to but the only people who are displaying a willingness to be deceived are the Christians.

Now, do you want to do the Ezekial prophecy regarding Tyre ?

October 04, 2010 11:55 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “So, to summarize your position, the man makes fire with his hands, and you offer no explanation but you assume, because of your theory, it is natural.”

Rick, causality is a natural law. You want to say this event was *caused*, which automatically puts it in the realm of nature. If fire (a natural phenomenon) is caused in the world, why would I suppose it is by some force other than natural? Because you say so? What makes you think it’s “supernatural”? You think this because you don’t know what in nature could have caused it, right? If so, then it is out of your own ignorance that you draw the conclusion that it must be supernatural. Have you ever really considered the *argument* you might make for concluding that it is supernatural? I haven’t seen your argument for this; you just chide me for not accepting your claim that it is supernatural. I’ve asked you to explain why this would bother you, but you haven’t.

Meanwhile, I still need to wear glasses. Where’s my 20/20 vision, Rick? I prayed to your god, and your god promises to do what is asked of him (cf. John 14:14). A non-existent god performs no miracles, Rick.

Rick: “A prophecy is fulfilled in modern history with a 1 in 864,000 chance of coming to pass (randomly) and the best you can do is say ‘king’ and not ‘president’ was used in the prophecy,”

Just pointing out the relevant facts, Rick. The passage in Ezekiel specifies that a “king” will rule over the newly formed country. So far, there’s been no king governing Israel since its founding in 1948. That’s not my problem, Rick. Don’t get sore at me for this fact. You came back with the remarkably feeble claim that “king” was not an option back in the 6 century BC, apparently forgetting that your omniscient god is supposed to be behind the “prophecy” in Ezekiel. So quickly you jettison your beloved god in order to shore up the defects in your position. D. James Kennedy did essentially the same thing when he told his congregation that Jesus couldn’t appear before everyone he wants to save (details here). So suddenly, the omnipotent deity becomes impotent.

Rick: “The fact you don't see any difference between an example of a completely random 5 dollar bill and a highly specific prophecy from 2,500 years ago verified in our lifetime, shows you must use unsound reasoning in order to justify your philosophy.”

Rick, you overlook my point, which was that unlikely things happen all the time, yet you selectively attribute significance to those which bolster your confessional investment.

Enough with the tired Ezekiel/Israel prophecy. It’s done, Rick, you’ve not convinced me that this is a genuinely fulfilled prophecy. Indeed, you’re convincing me that it isn’t and that you’re desperate to think it is.

Regards,
Dawson

October 04, 2010 11:57 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “One of the presuppositions of Objectivism is that human perception and observation infer naturalism.”

Can you provide a quote from an Objectivist source which does this? I mean, you do want to represent the position you’re critiquing accurately, don’t you?

Rick: “Objectivists usually talk about a small object, such as a stapler on a desk, when making their analogies to support their philosophy.”

What’s wrong with that?

Rick: “But when you objectify nature as a whole or the universe as a whole, the complex interdependent systems, in reality, infer an intelligent creator.”

Really? Who does this? Do “complex interdependent systems infer an intelligent creator,” or do *people* do this? What premises are factored into this inference? Show your argument.

Rick: “’Primitive’ cultures which have lived in dependence on- and close harmony with nature have always acknowledged belief in the supernatural, because nature is highly organized, intelligent and implies, at face value, the pre-existence of intelligence and a creator.”

Yes, primitive (i.e., pre-scientific, pre-rational) cultures have typically embraced one form of supernaturalism or another, to one degree or another. But if their close contact with nature were responsible for this trend, and there really were a supernatural realm inhabited by an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-caring personality, we would expect to uniformity in the beliefs of those cultures across the board. But we don’t. On the contrary, we see a vast range of variations, often in the form of folk tales about past heroes, legendary figures and anecdotal narratives involving ancestors from those very cultures.

What’s actually responsible for the supernaturalism and superstition among primitive cultures, is not some actual supernatural realm dispensing revelatory messages to selected human recipients, but the implicit acceptance of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. Name one influential thinker from any of these primitive cultures who discovered the primacy of existence, advocated it as a fundamental, general principle of thought, and consciously incorporated it into writings that helped shape the culture in question. You won’t find one. But don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and check for yourself.

Rick: “Sir Isaac Newton, who wrote the greatest science book ever written, Principia Mathematica, summarized ‘The most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being’.”

So, we’re supposed to accept this as an authoritative pronouncement? We already know that Newton believed in a god. So what? He was a man, wasn’t he? The culture that Newton grew up in was heavily superstitious, with people of all stripes believing in one god or another. He was raised with a god-belief, and, like all believers, compartmentalized it in his daily life so as to contain its conflicts with the real world in which he lived. What’s interesting about Newton, however, is that he was not an orthodox Christian. In fact, he was very likely an antitrinitarian and considered worship of Christ to be a form of idolatry. At any rate, like so many other human beings throughout history, Newton implicitly accepted the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, at least to some degree, even though he probably never realized this himself.

[Continued...]

October 04, 2010 11:58 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Regardless, what Newton believed or didn’t believe, has no impact on the truth of Objectivism.

Rick: “Though unsubstantiated, secular humanist teachings are used to promote atheism as the only viable world view in the education system today. But they must use censorship to eliminate all debate on the subject, because it has no philosophical or scientific foundation. Documentary ‘Expelled: no Intelligence Allowed’ documents this censorship.”

Can you find one example of a genuine Objectivist organization which advocates government-sponsored censorship? By citing “secular humanist teachings,” I suspect you simply don’t have any firsthand familiarity with Objectivism.

Rick: “This false, unsubstantiated presupposition of atheism is just the beginning of the problems of this philosophy, which has many false assumptions and internal inconsistencies.”

Again, I don’t see any problems in Objectivism here. I thought that’s what you were trying to present.

Regards,
Dawson

October 04, 2010 11:59 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Theodore Drange writes the following about the Israel nation prophecy in Ezekiel:

“The obvious objection is that Ezekiel is not here talking about the twentieth century but is predicting the return of the Jews from their captivity, exile, and dispersal at the hands of the Assyrians (in the 8th and 7th centuries, B.C.) and the Babylonians (in the 7th and 6th centuries). That return occurred in 537 B.C., shortly after the book of Ezekiel was written. In itself, it is a prophecy that became fulfilled, though not a particularly remarkable one. The book was written during the exile, and there may have been good evidence available to Ezekiel that the exile would soon come to an end. Other parts of the prophecy, that the returning Jews would faithfully observe God's laws and that they would live in their restored homeland forever (Eze 37:24-28) were not fulfilled. It is understandable why McDowell stayed clear of this alleged prophecy, though it is sometimes cited by missionaries today.” (The Argument from the Bible)

Drange published this piece in 1996. When he says that this prophecy “is sometimes cited by missionaries today,” he must have been predicting Rick Warden using it on my blog in 2010.

Rick had cited Ezekiel 37:21-22 as the “fulfilled prophecy” that he wanted to defend. But let’s not forget the following verse #23, which reads:

“Neither shall they [the Jews who returned to the new nation of Israel] defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.”

Speaking of this prophecy, Steven Conifer writes:

“However, the truth of the matter is that there is nothing remarkable whatever about these alleged prophecies. In fact, the momentous return to which Ezekiel is here referring is almost assuredly that of the Jews from their captivity, which occurred in 537 B.C.E., but a single year after that in which the authors claim the book of Ezekiel was composed. That book was most likely written during the exile, and Ezekiel could have easily been in possession of ample and reliable evidence that it would end in the near future (i.e., within a year or so). It is also of significance that other parts of the prophecy in question were not fulfilled, e.g., that the Jews returning from captivity would strictly follow God's laws and that they would forever onward reside in their restored homeland. In fact, neither of these things ever happened.” (A Critique of Fundamentalism)

Regards,
Dawson

October 05, 2010 12:15 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick,

Back on 28 Sept., I posted my prayer to your Lord and Savior to restore my eyesight to 20/20 vision. (Scroll up to see my prayer.)

I did this in keeping with the promise put into Jesus’ mouth in John 14:13-14, which reads:

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

It’s been a full week now, and your god hasn’t done what I’ve asked. My unaided vision is still just as bad as it was on 27 Sept., there’s been no change, which can only tell me that your god has not kept its promise. Consequently, according to the passage quoted above, “the Father” is not “glorified in the Son.”

So you see, you rail against me for not believing in “the supernatural” on your say so, and when your god’s promises are tested, it fails to deliver as promised.

No doubt you probably want to see this as me being unreasonable, even though I'm not the one who's shirking out on his promises. But what’s your explanation for this?

Regards,
Dawson

October 05, 2010 3:37 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

Part 1

DB: “Can you find one example of a genuine Objectivist organization which advocates government-sponsored censorship?”

RW: I wrote “secular humanist” not Objectivist education. My point was that atheism, in general, is not a result of perception, it is “accepted” by society usually due to an educational agenda and forced censorship. Documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” shows this is the norm. As you verified, no one read your philosophy to the primitives to enlighten them.

DB: “Israel is not a united territory - Gaza is a separate administration...”

“...they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.” (Ezekiel 37:22)

RW: Gaza is just a tiny sliver on the corner compared to the rest of Israel. Rafah is the only point on Gaza's borders not controlled by Israel. This is why Gaza is referred to as a “Palestinian prison.” The West Bank is generally controlled by Israel while scattered Arab towna within the WB are not. I would not consider Israel divided into two nations in these instances because Israel is still the ultimate authority. The main reason there is tension is because the Arabs want Israel to surrender or share authority.

DB: “Rick, you overlook my point, which was that unlikely things happen all the time.” (finding a random $5 bill)

RW: The volume of your writing is substantial but sometimes the content really causes me wonder about your reasoning. It's really not “unlikely,” at all, according to your example, that a random $5 bill with a specific serial number ends up in your possession. It would be unlikely, and remarkable, however, if 2500 years ago a prophet wrote that a man in San Francisco would find a certain bill with a certain number on a certain day. But in that instance, ironically, you would probably say it is nothing special, a man found a bill, so what, he did it himself.

DB: “Theodore Drange writes the following about the Israel nation prophecy in Ezekiel...”

RW: He (and Conifer) did not in anyway prove here in these quotes that this was the specific return in 6C or when the book of Ezekiel was written. When some of the Jews returned in that century, they continued to be ruled by foreign authorities: the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans. In A.D. 70, Titus and the Roman legions destroyed the Temple and scattered the Jewish people as slaves among the various provinces of the Roman Empire. It was in 1948 that Israel regained full autonomous authority, fulfilling the prophecy. At least your authors here made a gallant attempt though.

You pointed out many Jews have not returned, but there is no time limitation on the prophecy's complete fulfillment. We are seeing a rise of antisemitism leading to increased aliyah. Increased percentages of Jews are returning now, firstly, due to the Gaza blowback and racism against Jews, secondly, due to the financial crisis, as the Jewish elite, bankers, lawyers, etc. become scapegoats, and, thirdly, due to an increasing opinion that Mossad may have possibly been complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=178005

October 05, 2010 9:08 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 2

DB: “causality is a natural law. You want to say this event (creating fire with your bare hand) was *caused*, which automatically puts it in the realm of nature.”

RW: In your mind, Dawson, the possibility of the supernatural is “automatically” rejected, no matter what you may see, as you've confessed. I would really like to know your naturalist cause for this event. Can you enlighten me here and explain it to me? BTW “Science will explain it one day” is not a very convincing answer in the 21C.

DB: “It’s been a full week now, and your god hasn’t done what I’ve asked.” (praying for 20/20 vision, according to a scriptural promise, john 14.13 “Ask anything in my name...”)

RW: I had replied that the context was important. I pointed out Jesus was speaking to His disciples. They were fully surrendered to God's will, not given to an ideology of selfishness. There was also no time limit on this promise and I pointed out time is insignificant to you anyway. Your corollary argument shows you don't understand why the prophecies are evidence of God's existence outside the constraints of time.

DB: “Meanwhile, I still need to wear glasses. Where’s my 20/20 vision, Rick?”

RW: The most important question for you, I believe, is not whether or not you have glasses, but whether or not you want to turn on the light.

Objectivism, ultimately, is a choice to stay in the dark. You ask, What's wrong with using a stapler on a desk as an example for reality? I'll show you. shut the lights off, draw the blinds and now observe your tan stapler. Objectification, in a strict sense, is impossible, if you consider what I am writing.

DB: “Regardless, what Newton believed or didn’t believe, has no impact on the truth of Objectivism.”

RW: Actually, the methodology of Newton's approach and the manner in which he received his revelations have been insightful to me recently as I begin to ask questions, contemplate and uncover some of the fallacies of Objectivism.


cont...

October 05, 2010 9:10 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 2

Part 2

DB: “causality is a natural law. You want to say this event (creating fire with your bare hand) was *caused*, which automatically puts it in the realm of nature.”

RW: In your mind, Dawson, the possibility of the supernatural is “automatically” rejected, no matter what you may see, as you've confessed. I would really like to know your naturalist cause for this event. Can you enlighten me here and explain it to me? BTW “Science will explain it one day” is not a very convincing answer in the 21C.

DB: “It’s been a full week now, and your god hasn’t done what I’ve asked.” (praying for 20/20 vision, according to a scriptural promise, john 14.13 “Ask anything in my name...”)

RW: I had replied that the context was important. I pointed out Jesus was speaking to His disciples. They were fully surrendered to God's will, not given to an ideology of selfishness. There was also no time limit on this promise and I pointed out time is insignificant to you anyway. Your corollary argument shows you don't understand why the prophecies are evidence of God's existence outside the constraints of time.

DB: “Meanwhile, I still need to wear glasses. Where’s my 20/20 vision, Rick?”

RW: The most important question for you, I believe, is not whether or not you have glasses, but whether or not you want to turn on the light. Objectivism, ultimately, is a choice to stay in the dark. You ask, What's wrong with using a stapler on a desk as an example for reality? I'll show you. shut the lights off, draw the blinds and now observe your tan stapler. Objectification, in a strict sense, is impossible, if you consider what I am writing.

DB: “Regardless, what Newton believed or didn’t believe, has no impact on the truth of Objectivism.”

RW: Actually, the methodology of Newton's approach and the manner in which he received his revelations have been insightful to me recently as I begin to ask questions, contemplate and uncover some of the fallacies of Objectivism.

October 05, 2010 9:12 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 3

I'm still in the learning mode regarding Objectivism. I would be interested to know your criticisms on this response to your premise from an article:

DB: “It is an undeniable fact that a subject is distinct from the objects of its awareness: a subject and its objects are not one and the same – the two are engaged in a relationship.”

RW: Is it really “an undeniable fact?”

As far as we may surmise, pure, unadulterated logic does not submit into an absolute metaphysical subject/object dualism explanation. Ask an objectivist: “In terms of human perception, is logic considered a subject or an object?”

If the objectivist says logic is a “subject,” then it is considered a part of the mind. Logic, from a utilitarian view, is a tool, an aspect of reasoning. Without a mind, logic would have no use whatsoever. This implies, from a materialist perspective, it should be a cart the horse of reason pulls. But objectivists have a problem here. While Logic is used personally, as a tool for subjective reasoning, it is not ONLY personal, it consists of universal laws, it endures from one generation to the next, as do known “external” natural laws.

If the objectivist says logic is an “object,” then it is presumed to be a part of the “external” world and they have another problem. No one has ever perceived logic, or its effects, with his or her senses and thus cannot “objectively” account for its existence. If the objectivist says gravity is similar because it is not seen but known by its effects, it seems to be a weak corollary. Neither gravity, nor any other law, is known exclusively in the human mind. Neither gravity, nor any other law, can be considered a tool required exclusively for the mind's use.

What does this imply metaphysically?

The laws of logic govern the process of- and ability to reason. Just try to use reason without logic. Therefore, if there is a question of which has primacy metaphysically, logic does. If the existence of logic refutes the assumed metaphysical subject/object duality and logic metaphysically predominates over reason, then an absolute subject/object duality, strictly based on human reasoning, should not be considered a metaphysically reliable premise.

2.The Primacy of Existence theory supposedly disproves Theism because it assumes a single world view cannot entertain both a primacy of existence example (man) and a primacy of consciousness example (God). But there is a third possibility, based on the existence of logic, that something may, in fact, be independent of- and indefinable by the apparent subjective and object duality.

Best regards,

Rick

October 05, 2010 9:15 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I asked: “Can you find one example of a genuine Objectivist organization which advocates government-sponsored censorship?”

Rick: “I wrote ‘secular humanist’ not Objectivist education.”

So I’m guessing the answer to my above question is no.

What was the purpose of griping to me about “secular humanist teachings” and censorship? What relevance does either have to our discussion?

Rick: “My point was that atheism, in general, is not a result of perception,”

I don’t believe I ever argued that it is.

Rick: “it is ‘accepted’ by society usually due to an educational agenda and forced censorship.”

Really? Which society? Not any society I’ve ever lived in. On the contrary, some form of god-belief, typically one version of Christianity or another, has been shoved down my throat since my earliest memories, both in the home and outside it. Atheists are continually being villanized, as if merely not having a god-belief poses some kind of threat. It apparently does. Look how threatened you are by the fact that I don’t believe in your brand of hocus pocus.

Rick: “Documentary ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ shows this is the norm.”

I have not seen the program that you’ve referenced now two or three times, and I won’t be going out of my way to do so. But I do know that religious institutions have an interest in producing and distributing all kinds of propaganda. There’s an entire market of suckers waiting to lap it all up.

You wrote more about the Ezekiel/Israel prophecy, but it’s clear that this is a dead horse as far as I’m concerned. You believe it’s a fulfilled prophecy, I don’t, and you’ve not at all persuaded me to reconsider my position on it. I understand that bothers you, and somehow this is my fault and I’m doing something completely wrong in your mind. I’m prepared to live with that, Rick. Beyond that, I haven’t seen any explanation from you as to why your omniscient god, who was supposedly inspiring the content of the Ezekiel passage in the first place, could not have corrected the mentioning of a “king” to an elected leader if this were really a prophecy about Israel in the 20th century AD. I know you don’t consider this important, but there’s an enormous difference between a president and a king.


I wrote: “Rick, you overlook my point, which was that unlikely things happen all the time.” (finding a random $5 bill)”

Rick: “It's really not ‘unlikely’, at all, according to your example, that a random $5 bill with a specific serial number ends up in your possession.”

Rick, you’ve demonstrated that you’re into the numbers thing. Please calculate the odds of this specific $5 bill winding up in my possession. Show your work. Given the enormous quantity of $5 bills circulating out there, and the fact that I could have been given five $1 bills instead of a $5 bill as change, or that I could have paid the exact amount and gotten no change, etc., I’m confident that the odds would blow your 1/864,000 figure out of the water in terms of astronomical improbability. And yet you want your figure to impress me, and you just poo-poo my example. That’s the sign of a religious mind, Rick. You see significance where you want to.

[Continued…]

October 06, 2010 10:00 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: “causality is a natural law. You want to say this event (creating fire with your bare hand) was *caused*, which automatically puts it in the realm of nature.”

Rick: “In your mind, Dawson, the possibility of the supernatural is ‘automatically’ rejected, no matter what you may see, as you've confessed.”

This is uncharitable, Rick. I have already linked to my own examination of the notion of “the supernatural” (again, see here), where I lay out numerous reasons for concluding that the very notion of “the supernatural” is irrational. Consequently, since I’ve done my homework on the matter, I am fully justified in rejecting claims about “the supernatural” as irrational, especially if the arguments I laid out in my analysis have not been refuted. And they haven’t been refuted.

Rick: “I would really like to know your naturalist cause for this event. Can you enlighten me here and explain it to me?”

For one thing, Rick, I honestly don’t care. (Perhaps that’s what bothers you most.) And no, I have no explanation for you. And I don’t know if one day some scientist is going to come up with one. It could be doctored video footage for all I know, another hoax. There are a lot of religious hoaxes out there, you see. But unlike you, I do not take the lack of a natural explanation as license to invent an imaginary cause. Your approach very much seems to be in the vein of Duh, I donno! Must be God did it!. I still haven’t seen any argument from you for the conclusion that it is a supernatural phenomenon. So don’t get sore at me here.

I wrote: “It’s been a full week now, and your god hasn’t done what I’ve asked.”

Rick: ”I had replied that the context was important. I pointed out Jesus was speaking to His disciples. They were fully surrendered to God's will, not given to an ideology of selfishness. There was also no time limit on this promise and I pointed out time is insignificant to you anyway.”

So, you agree that it is a promise – is it one that your god will stand by and fulfill as promised?

If so, I’m happy to put a time limit on it. Here’s my revised prayer:

O Lord, I ask, in the spirit of John 14:14, that you restore my eyesight to 20/20 vision by sunup October 6, 2010, so that I can once and for all do away with glasses for ever. I ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

It’s now almost 10:00 am Oct. 6. And my eyes? No change. They have not been restored to 20/20. I’m guessing there will still be some reason why your god won’t be correcting my need for glasses.

If you think the problem is that your god won’t hear my prayers, then why don’t you make this prayer request on my behalf, Rick? You’re “fully surrendered to God’s will,” aren’t you? And you’re not “given to an ideology of selfishness,” right? Also, you’ve expressed your desire that we test your god’s word, right? What better way than to see if your god will stand by its stated promises?

By the way, why do you get to decide whether or not time is significant to me? Indeed, you don’t.

[Continued…]

October 06, 2010 10:01 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “Your corollary argument shows you don't understand why the prophecies are evidence of God's existence outside the constraints of time.”

They aren’t evidence of your god’s existence, Rick. No lack of understanding on my part here.

DB: “Meanwhile, I still need to wear glasses. Where’s my 20/20 vision, Rick?”

Rick: ”The most important question for you, I believe, is not whether or not you have glasses, but whether or not you want to turn on the light.”

Well, so far, Rick, you’ve generated a lot of heat in our discussion, but you’ve added no light to my understanding (other than to confirm that your worldview is philosophically bankrupt, but I already knew that).

Rick: “Objectivism, ultimately, is a choice to stay in the dark.”

Objectivism is the philosophy of reason. What you’re saying is that reason is the path to darkness in understanding. You tell me about yourself, Rick. Also, it means that reason is on the side of your adversaries. Muslim terrorists have made the same choice as you have.

Rick: “You ask, What's wrong with using a stapler on a desk as an example for reality? I'll show you. shut the lights off, draw the blinds and now observe your tan stapler. Objectification, in a strict sense, is impossible, if you consider what I am writing.”

Actually, that would just end up confirming the appropriateness of my stapler example.

I wrote: “Regardless, what Newton believed or didn’t believe, has no impact on the truth of Objectivism.”

Rick: ”Actually, the methodology of Newton's approach and the manner in which he received his revelations have been insightful to me recently as I begin to ask questions, contemplate and uncover some of the fallacies of Objectivism.”

In your Part 3 comment, you made an attempt to critique the Objectivist position. I will be posting my own interaction of your objections in a new post on my blog. I’ll post the link here once it’s up.

Regards
Dawson

October 06, 2010 10:02 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick,

As I promised, here is the link to my interaction with your objections against Objectivism:

Rick Warden’s Critique of Objectivism

I'm happy to report that I was able to keep it short and sweet.

Regards,
Dawson

October 07, 2010 12:20 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

In the article located at the link posted here you wrote: "Rick Warden who has attempted to commandeer the comments section of my blog..."

You've written a four part reply to my comment, plus an entire article. Look back over my comments. They have generally been much shorter than yours.

At the risk of further such accusations I will attempt to keep my reply here brief and continue further at the new article.

The film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" is political, not religious. The main theme is the academic censure of valid scientific data.

DB: "I’m confident that the odds (of finding a $5 bill) would blow your 1/864,000 figure out of the water in terms of astronomical improbability."

RW: You are grossly oversimplifying probability theory. You are comparing apples and oranges. A "frequentist" prediction is random and well defined, like your $5 bill. Prophecy is predictive and compound probability related to specific knowledge and belief. A scientific "Bayesian" model is a better example for this situation. If you ever become interested in testing prophecy on more than a superficial level, you can look into it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probability

You enjoy repeating the promise, John 14.13 “Ask anything in my name...” Another qualification I would add, in addition to being a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ, is understanding what it means to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. This means in agreement with His authority and perfect will. It may be that this is another qualification unmet by you and your prayer for perfect eyesight.

DB: "Objectivism is the philosophy of reason."

RW: Really? In your new "Rick Warden..." article, linked in your comment, we can examine how Objectivism is based on Ayn Rand's faulty definitions of logic and reason utilizing a subjective, self serving methodology:

“Logic is the art or skill of non-contradictory identification” (Ayn Rand, “Philosophical Detection,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 15).

"Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses." (Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 20)

Best regards,

Rick

October 08, 2010 2:39 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: "I’m confident that the odds (of finding a $5 bill) would blow your 1/864,000 figure out of the water in terms of astronomical improbability."

Rick: “You are grossly oversimplifying probability theory. You are comparing apples and oranges. A ‘frequentist’ prediction is random and well defined, like your $5 bill. Prophecy is predictive and compound probability related to specific knowledge and belief.”

Rick, you’re the one who raised the issue of probability in characterizing the “fulfillment” of what you call a “prophecy” of Israel becoming a nation in 1948, calculating the odds to 1/864,000. You did this specifically to make the “fulfillment” seem all that more improbable, and thus more impressive. My response to this was to point out to you the fact that unlikely things happen all the time. My $5 bill example was just an example, and you resist taking up my challenge to calculate the odds of that specific $5 bill winding up in my hands. You call it “comparing apples and oranges,” but not if sheer statistical probability (which you introduced to the conversation) is concerned. I won’t accept your squirming on this, Rick. As I mentioned, you want to believe Israel’s founding in 1948 is a fulfillment of prophecy, go ahead, be my guest. I really don’t care. But don’t cite the odds on this unless you’re willing to deal with the fallout.

Rick: “You enjoy repeating the promise, John 14.13 ‘Ask anything in my name...’”

Rick, this should not bother you. You’re the one who kept urging the importance of “testing” your god’s word, to see if it’s true. But you know it’s a bogus promise, so you keep adding new qualifications which need to be met, but this is a con, for no matter how many qualifications are met, it will still never happen as promised, and you know it. Consider what you wrote next:

Rick: “Another qualification I would add, in addition to being a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ, is understanding what it means to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. This means in agreement with His authority and perfect will. It may be that this is another qualification unmet by you and your prayer for perfect eyesight.”

But how do you know if it’s unmet by me? And look at the very notion of “agreement with His authority and perfect will.” For one thing, the John 14:13-14 passage does not include such a qualification, nor does it imply it. You have added it, other Christians have added it, too, in order to frontload a disclaimer to explain why the promise goes unfulfilled.

So, two points:

First, you need to show how a prayer to Jesus asking for the restoration of eyesight is not “in agreement with His authority and perfect will.” You do agree that your god can restore my eyesight, right? So where’s the failure of agreement with your god’s will here?

Second, while it may be plausible that I as a non-believer will not be capable of asking your god “in agreement with His authority and perfect will,” you, as a devoted Christian presumably are already “in agreement with His authority and perfect will.” So, as I suggested previously, you make the prayer on my behalf.

Think of it, Rick. You pray to your god that it restore my vision to 20/20, I wake up tomorrow with 20/20 vision, with no natural explanation, and given this conversation, the conclusion that your god is real will be inescapable, and I become a believer. It’s a win-win. What do you say?

I wrote: "Objectivism is the philosophy of reason."

Rick: “Really?”

Yes sir.

Rick: “In your new "Rick Warden..." article, linked in your comment, we can examine how Objectivism is based on Ayn Rand's faulty definitions of logic and reason utilizing a subjective, self serving methodology:”

Bring it on. But understand: to succeed, you would have to show that they fail to meet the norms of definition supplied by the objective theory of concepts. You’ve not done this, not even close. But go ahead and try.

Regards,
Dawson

October 08, 2010 9:19 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

You imply the "norms of definition" supplied by the objective theory of concepts" are suitable replacements for the time-tested science and principles of logic, as defined by the standard definition of logic. I disagree from the onset. The principles of logic are the generally accepted measuring stick of philosophical truth. The "art" of logic Rand and you propose is by definition subjective not objective. Look up "art" in the dictionary Dawson.

I have no interest in attempting to measure a jellyfish with a jellyfish. Nor do I have any interest in drinking acid-laced Kool-aid in order to understand if acid-laced Kool aid will bring me closer to understanding reality.

Inventing definitions for logic and reason in order to try and justify a philosophy is a pretty good sign the philosophy has problems. There are at least 7 signs I've noticed so far that show Objectivism is a misleading philosophy and more like a cult than a traditional philosophy.

Best regards,

Rick

October 10, 2010 9:04 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Rick,

Rick: “You imply the ‘norms of definition’ supplied by the objective theory of concepts are suitable replacements for the time-tested science and principles of logic, as defined by the standard definition of logic.”

No, I didn’t imply this. The norms of definition supplied by the objective theory of concepts are wholly compatible with logic and science. I did not offer those norms as a “replacement” of these disciplines. What you are probably missing is the fact that a concept’s meaning is broader than its definition. Rand noted that a definition

implies, but does not mention all the characteristics of a concept’s units. If a definition were to list all the characteristics, it would defeat its own purpose: it would provide and indiscriminate, undifferentiated and, in effect, pre-conceptual conglomeration of characteristics which would not serve to distinguish the units from all other existents, nor the concept from all other concepts. A definition must identify the nature of the units, i.e., the essential characteristics without which the units would not be the kind of existents they are. But it is important to remember that a definition implies all the characteristics of the units, since it identifies their essential, not their exhaustive, characteristics,… since it is a condensation of, not a substitute for, a wider knowledge of the existents involved.” (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 42)

Consider the concept ‘man’. Objectivism follows Aristotle in his definition of man as “the rational animal.” The definition does not take the form of an exhaustive list of characteristics of all the units subsumed by the concept ‘man’. The definition implies those characteristics by isolating the essential characteristic(s) upon which the rest depend.

We see this in the case of Rand’s definition of ‘logic’: it is an art (i.e., “skill based on specialized knowledge” – see below) of non-contradictory identification (which implies specific aspects of the identification process, such as induction, deduction, validity, demonstration, soundness, cogency, etc.).

[Continued...]

October 10, 2010 11:35 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “The ‘art’ of logic Rand and you propose is by definition subjective not objective.”

Did you not see the definition I presented? It did not indicate subjectivity. Why do you suppose it did?

Rick: “Look up ‘art’ in the dictionary Dawson.”

I have. See for instance this online dictionary. You’ll note that it offers numerous definitions of ‘art’. None that I could see include the concept of subjectivity in defining ‘art’.

I think the following comes pretty close to what Rand meant: “7. the principles or methods governing any craft or branch of learning: the art of baking; the art of selling.”

Surely you’d agree that logic is a “branch of learning” which has “principles or methods” which govern it, no?

Betsy Speicher, who was a student of Ayn Rand’s, once asked Rand about her definition of ‘logic’ and her use of ‘art’ to inform it. Speicher writes:

“I once asked Ayn Rand why she used the word ‘art’ in the definition of logic and she said she was using the word to mean a skill based on specialized knowledge.” (source)

So unless you think “the principles or methods governing any craft or branch of learning,” or “skill based on specialized knowledge” necessarily implies subjectivity (and even if you do; Rand didn’t), your reaching objection here fails.

Rick: “Inventing definitions for logic and reason in order to try and justify a philosophy is a pretty good sign the philosophy has problems.”

You make it sound like Rand was just making things up ad hoc as she went “in order to justify” her philosophy. This is more of your ignorance speaking, Rick. Since you do not have intimate familiarity with her philosophy, you lack the contextual understanding needed to appreciate how her definitions were not her starting points, but in fact arose out of the application of her conceptual theory’s principles. She wrote an entire book on her concept theory, and devoted a whole chapter specifically to definitions. Without the benefit of understanding her theory, you’ll most likely remain in the dark on the whole matter.

Also, you have yet to show any genuine deficiency with Rand’s conception of logic.

Rick: “There are at least 7 signs I've noticed so far that show Objectivism is a misleading philosophy and more like a cult than a traditional philosophy.”

Care to enumerate them? I’d love to discuss it.

Regards,
Dawson

October 10, 2010 11:35 PM  
Blogger AmericanRiverNews said...

Dawson,

I think you should take Sye up on his debate offer. You want him to answer your questions, and he's willing to debate. No reason for name calling and accusations when a debate would solve both desires, right?

- Luke

September 04, 2012 2:14 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Luke,

Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion.

I must say, it is rather curious that someone would think that I should agree to some verbal exchange with someone who does not even take the time to examine my refutation of his argument. That seems quite puzzling to me, since it would amount to advocating that Sye should debate someone without the benefit of understanding his opponent’s criticisms. This leaves him completely disarmed even before the debate would begin.

I explained all this to Sye when I discussed the matter with him last November in this blog. Most oddly, Sye has accused me of making “excuses” for not participating in some verbal exchange with him (without explaining what value such an exercise would be) while throwing out excuses for choosing not to examine my critique of his argument and discussing them with me on my blog. It has become clear to me that he avoids the matter for the obvious reason that his worldview would not survive such engagement.

As for your opinion that a verbal debate “would solve both desires,” this seems rather hasty and uninformed. As I indicated to Sye in the blog to which I linked above, I’ve already fulfilled my desires: I have refuted his argument and have published my refutation for the entire world to see, all for free. So my desires have been “solved,” to use your words, and have been “solved” for over two years now. So the problem here is not mine. It’s all Sye’s. The ball is in his court, and so far he’s still on the bench, reluctant to get back into the game.

When I point out the fact that Sye has yet to address the points I raise against his argument in my refutation, I am also pointing out that I have achieved my desires while Sye’s precious argument has been blasted into smithereens. So I’m happy with the situation as it stands. It’s not that I “want him to answer [my] questions,” for it’s not so much my “questions” which he needs to answer as my refutation of his argument. I have not gone to Sye with questions, for I don’t think there’s anything to learn from him in the first place. Meanwhile, if he doesn’t even want to take the time to read a nine-page document which interacts with the argument for which he created an entire website, well, that’s his problem, not mine. Wouldn’t you agree?

If he cannot even respond to my criticisms of his argument, then clearly the call for a verbal “debate” is simply too premature. He wants a showdown after he’s been completely disarmed. Hardly a rational thing to do. He has no gun to shoot.

Perhaps now you can see the futility of Sye’s position.

Regards,
Dawson

September 04, 2012 3:47 AM  

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