Sunday, December 09, 2012

Michael David Rawlings and the Primacy of a Bad Attitude

Christians are notorious for having hurt feelings when their god-belief claims are not accepted as the truths they affirm on their mere say so. Their feelings are hurt even more when their “arguments” are exposed as the silly collections of incoherence that they are. But in spite of their hurt feelings, some Christians keep coming back for more punishment, pushing the same nonsense like a dog coming back to its own vomit, apparently expecting that his next iteration of the same nonsense, perhaps in a new guise, will somehow slide under the radar of philosophical detection. I have bad news for the believer: it won’t.

Christian apologist Michael David Rawlings is no exception to this frequently encountered quagmire. He has come posting on my blog under the guise of wanting to learn about Objectivism and peddling a highfalutin perspective on Christianity backed up by “credentials” which he never specifies. His pockets are loaded to bear with reality-denying assumptions and ten-cent theological jargon to give the impression that he has the answer to the age-old question, “Where’s the beef?” In practice, Michael Rawlings doesn’t even really try to back up his assertions. On the contrary, he simply gets furiously angry when others don’t accept what he says on his mere say so. And this is a guy who says that Christianity does not affirm the primacy of consciousness when human consciousness is involved.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Discussion with Michael Rawlings

In the comments section of my previous blog entry, Is Math Christian?, a visitor to my blog named Michael Rawlings has engaged me in a fascinating and, I’m happy to say, very civil discussion about Christianity.

Michael does not strike me as the typical apologist for Christianity. His tone is mature and he exhibits a refreshing willingness to examine ideas and take them seriously. He has also expressed admiration for Objectivism, which I find encouraging.

Still, Michael seems to have a persisting hesitancy to address direct questions responding to his statements. To his credit in this regard, he has expressed caution for taking things slowly and addressing issues in a sequential manner. However, the list of outstanding questions has been growing since the discussion first began.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is Math Christian?

Two weeks ago, on October 4, I submitted a comment to the blog “MATH IS CHRISTIAN, on an entry titled THE FUTILITY OF ALL NON-CHRISTIAN APPROACHES TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF MATHEMATICS (pardon the caps - perhaps the author figured that caps would ensure the truth of what he claims).

The author of the blog, a Charles Jackson who, according to his personal info page, holds an MS in mathematics from Cal State Long Beach, claims in his blog that “the Christian God, being, as He is, infinite, personal, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-controlling, self-attesting, and self-revelatory, provides what is necessary for a successful philosophy of anything.” Given this “presupposition,” Jackson reasons, “the sufficiency of the concept of the Christian God for the intelligibility of human mathematical experience follows directly from the sufficiency of the concept of the Christian God for the intelligibility of human experience, simpliciter.” Consequently, he continues, “the concept of the Christian God is a sufficient condition for the intelligibility of human mathematical experience: mathematical knowledge, mathematical practice, etc.”

From these premises Jackson concludes that “all non-Christian approaches to the philosophy of mathematics” are therefore necessarily futile. They would have to be, goes Jakson’s reasoning, since the “concept” of the Christian god is so necessary to “mathematical experience” and “mathematical knowledge.”

For those lounging in the choir, such “reasoning” probably seems both air-tight and bullet-proof. But is it? Does such reasoning have any objective basis in reality? Or, does it only seem so unassailable from within the fake environment of the Christian worldview which elevates imagination over reality?

I suspect it is the latter rather than the former.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hell is for Believers

There are many unintended ironies in Christianity and Christian apologetics. For instance, Christian apologists claim that their worldview is the only worldview which can consistently “account for” objective moral absolutes, but at the same time they claim that there exists such a thing as a “morally justifiable reason” for allowing evil and that their god has this (cf. Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 171; see also here). So much for the Christian god being “absolutely good.”

Or consider the claim that only Christianity “provides” the necessary preconditions for knowledge, but at the same time Christianity has no theory of concepts to inform a theory of knowledge. So in spite of all the “How do you know?” questions that presuppositionalists discharge in their debates, their worldview has no answer to how one can know anything and can offer nothing more than “We know without knowing how we know,” as John Frame has affirmed (see here).

Another example is the claim that the Christian god is a perfect creator and that it created everything in the universe, including human beings, but at the same time they say that human beings are inherently flawed and depraved creations in need of redemption (see here). According to this view, a creator that is perfect created creatures which are not perfect. This is like saying that “invisible things” are “clearly seen” (cf. Romans 1:20).

Monday, October 08, 2012

Christianity vs. Happiness

Presuppositional apologists are continually focusing the philosophical debate on issues such as which worldview can account for logic, which worldview can solve the problem of induction, which worldview provides the necessary preconditions for intelligibility, etc. And while presuppositionalism has been answered on each of these points (for logic, see here; for induction, see here; for knowledge, see here), one thing that presuppositionalists tend to overlook in their worldview analysis is man’s need for happiness. Indeed, one may even get the impression that according to their worldview, man does not need happiness or should not even try for happiness. Happiness does not at all seem important to the apologist, for he never draws attention to its importance, and apologists in general do not come across as very happy persons.

This oversight, to the degree that it is merely an oversight, is most fitting. For the Christian worldview cannot provide the necessary preconditions for human happiness. Happiness is not possible to a mind haunted by Christianity’s fear and guilt.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Answers to “50 Important Philosophical Questions”

I recently saw a blog entry on Thoughts On The Line (TOTL) titled 50 IMPORTANT PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS (no, that’s not me shouting), and after reading some of the questions I thought I’d take some time and answer all fifty questions. So here they are, in the order in which they appear on the TOTL blog entry:

Monday, August 27, 2012

STB: Two Years and Counting

It has now been two years to the day since I posted my refutation of the argument showcased on Sye Ten Bruggencate’s website “proof that god exists dot org.” While the argument on his site remains unchanged, Bruggencate has so far failed to vindicate the defense of his worldview which he has presented to the world against my critique.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Is Anyone Truly a Christian?

Non-Christians generally accept a person’s claim to be a Christian without hesitation. If a person claims that he or she is a Christian, non-believers typically take their word for it. And rational individuals usually grant that other adults are mature enough to identify themselves accurately and honestly upon first meeting them. And generally speaking, Christian believers themselves are happy with this situation: they typically expect non-Christians to accept their self-identification as Christians at face value.

Christians themselves, however, are not nearly so accepting. To be sure, they expect others to accept their own self-identification as Christians. But they are not always so accepting of the claims of other individuals to be Christians as well. Internal squabbles among Christians, complete with accusations of heresy and denunciations of deviant practice, are commonplace and have colored the landscape of Christendom since its earliest days. Even in his letters to the churches he had planted, the apostle Paul warned Christians of imposters, contributing from Christianity’s first moments to the “who can you trust?” atmosphere of Christian “fellowship.”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Chris Bolt vs. the Evils of Demanding Evidence in Support of Truth Claims

In his blog Answering the Evidentialist Objection, Chris Bolt makes it clear that does not like the idea, attributed to W.K. Clifford, that
It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.
He calls this a “marvelously strong claim” (perhaps stronger than the claim that a first century Palestinian Jew was resurrected by a supernatural consciousness after dying by means of crucifixion) and asks, “What reason does one have for thinking it true?”

Bolt’s reply to this question is “Probably none,” which strikes me as somewhat deficient in confidence. Perhaps this is the reason why he has turned off the commenting option for this blog entry.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Craig Keener on Miracles

To date I have not devoted a specific entry on my blog to a discussion of miracles. This is partly due simply to more important priorities, lack of time, and the fact that I’d expect anyone familiar with my worldview could surmise why I reject miracle claims. But it’s very simple: the notion of ‘miracle’ presupposes a universe governed by the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, and we can know this because it denotes an event in which some or all entities involved are under the direct control of a supernatural will - i.e., a form of consciousness. Since I reject any version or expression of the primacy of consciousness, I consequently reject the notion of miracles since the notion of miracles is an expression of the primacy of consciousness.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In Shambles: Nide's Crumbling Worldview

Nide has posted some comments replying to my previous blog entry responding to him here: Christian Anti-Morality: A Response to Nide. While it does not appear that Nide has finished his response to what I stated to him in that blog entry (he left his last comment with an indication that there was yet more to come), I am moving on with a response to what he stated in his reaction to what I wrote.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Greg Bahnsen on the Problem of Evil

Greg Bahnsen (1948 – 1995) was the most high-profile popularizer of presuppositional apologetics of his day. He remains today one of the foremost interpreters of Cornelius Van Til’s apologetic works, his lengthy Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis being published posthumously from Bahnsen’s own manuscript, which he completed shortly before his death (p.xv). The result is 764 pages, including a bibliography and three indices (for bible verses, names and topics) of excessively repetitive droning about how the “unbeliever” can’t account for this, can’t account for that, doesn’t know how to put on his pants in the morning, doesn’t know how to put his shirt on, etc. Throughout all this Bahnsen nowhere lays out an actual epistemological method for one to apply and come to the same “knowledge” Bahnsen and other Christians claim for themselves. Truly, it is a most ironic spectacle.

What some may find surprising is the fact that, in the space of 764 pages, there is in the topical index only one reference to the problem of evil, and that is to a footnote straddling pages 525 and 526 of Bahnsen’s thick tome.

And while it is rather lengthy in itself so far as footnotes go, Bahnsen states in that footnote that the problem of evil is, in his experience, “the most popular argument urged against Christianity.” So while his book is over 700 pages, he spends just one paragraph, relegated to a passing footnote, on addressing what he says is “the most popular argument urged against Christianity.”

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Answering Dustin Segers’ Presuppositionalism, Part IVb: Collectivism, Evil and Slavery

This will be the final installment of my extended reply to Dustin Segers’ questions for atheists. My previous responses to Segers can be found here:
In the present entry, I continue my exploration of Segers’ final question, namely:
”How do you account for objective morality without God?"
I have already provided a direct response to this question in my previous blog entry. In this entry, I explore some of the political implications of the moral system found in Christianity, focusing on Christianity’s proclivity towards collectivism, its affinity with Nazism and communism, the problem of evil, and the issue of slavery.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Answering Dustin Segers’ Presuppositionalism, Part IVa: Objective Morality

I am back! I had originally intended to post my response to Segers’ question about morality back in April, but I had several conferences to attend and I also moved into a new house on the outskirts of Bangkok. There’s still much to do and I’m extremely busy, but I have managed to devote some snippets of time here and there to my writing. Not ideal, but I’ll take what I can get!

So many issues came up as I was writing about the contrasts between (genuinely) objective morality and what passes for morality in Christianity, that I have decided to split this portion of my reaction to Segers into two different blog entries. In the present entry I answer Segers’ question about morality, provide definitions for important terms relevant to his question (e.g., what is morality? What is objectivity? Etc.), emphasize the importance of focusing on the individual when discussing morality, examine the 10 commandments, explore the topic of how one determines his own values, and make some points about the abortion debate.

In the follow-up entry (IVb), I will highlight the collectivistic implications of Christian morality and explore Christianity’s permissive view of slavery.

Throughout all of my discussion I draw attention to the stark contrasts between objective morality and Christian morality, leaving no question that Christian morality is entirely unfit for human life and certainly not to be confused with a moral code which is in fact objective in nature. To serve this end I make use of some dazzling quotations from defenders of Christianity themselves.

The previous four entries in my response to Segers can be found here:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Answering Dustin Segers’ Presuppositionalism, Part IIIb: The Problem of Induction

Here is Part IIIb of my response to Dustin Segers’ four questions for atheists.

Previous responses to Segers can be found here:
In this entry, I continue my response to Segers’ third question, which is:
3. Science - "How do you answer the problem of induction from a secular perspective?"
In my previous blog entry, I provided the first part of my answer to this question. In that previous entry, I addressed an area of concern which typically accompanies the presuppositionalist’s questions about induction, namely the uniformity of nature. I explained that, on the objective view, the uniformity we observe in nature is inherent in nature and obtains independently of conscious activity, while on the subjective view, any uniformity which we observe in nature is thought to be the product of some act of consciousness. Given the stark antithesis of these two contrasting positions, I recommend that rational individuals who encounter presuppositionalists raising the issue of the uniformity of nature as a debating point, ask the apologists to state explicitly whether or not they think the uniformity we observe in nature is a product of conscious activity, or if it is inherent in nature and obtains independent of any conscious activity. Watch for any reluctance to answer this question; watch for consistency with the apologists’ professed worldview in any answer that is given.

Now let’s turn our attention to induction and see if Objectivism, the Philosophy of Reason, can shed even further light in answering the presuppositionalist.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Answering Dustin Segers’ Presuppositionalism, Part IIIa: The Uniformity of Nature

I now continue with my series of responses to several questions Christian apologist and “church-planter” Dustin Segers poses to atheists. This will be the third installment in this series. The first two included my responses to Segers’ first two questions, which can be found here:
Let us now consider his third question:
3. Science - "How do you answer the problem of induction from a secular perspective?"
Ah, now this one’s juicy!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Answering Dustin Segers’ Presuppositionalism, Part II: The Nature of Logic

In this second installment of my series answering Dustin Segers’ apologetic questions for atheists, I focus on Segers’ question about logic. (My initial blog entry responding to Segers can be found here).

This one’s a biggie, so buckle up and hold on tight. You’re in for a wild ride!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Answering Dustin Segers’ Presuppositionalism, Part I: Intro and the Nature of Truth

Christian apologist Dustin Segers (remember him?) recently posted an entry on his blog in which he tells about his experiences at something called the “Reason Rally.” Segers used the words ‘sophisticated’ and ‘blasphemous’ to describe what he witnessed at the event, which he calls “an opportunity to trash religion in general and Christianity specifically.” I’m guessing any non-religious assembly must by its very nature be guilty of this particularly nefarious misdeed. Believers gather on a weekly basis to condemn non-believers and fancy themselves as numbering among “the chosen,” but when non-believers gather at an annual meet open to all comers, it’s specifically intended to “trash” Christianity.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Seven

Today is March 26, 2012, which means: another anniversary of Incinerating Presuppositionalism has been reached. That’s right, another milestone has been achieved.

The past year has signaled a most momentous transition for me. I moved with my then three-year-old daughter to Thailand from the United States in May 2011, started a new position, and have sought to live as a functionally single parent in a foreign country (where I do not speak the language). It’s been the experience and challenge of a lifetime. My lasting as long as I have – with my daughter reaching her fourth birthday, completing her first year of kindergarten, and developing as an exceptionally gifted child (albeit, with my special help) – is not a miracle, but a testament to my dedication and perseverance as a civilized human being and my ability as a father. Indeed, I’m not the kind of parent who’s about to stand idly by and let his child be abducted, tortured and executed by a bunch of lawbreakers and miscreants. Nope, unlike the Christian god, I’ll protect my child till my last breath!

In the meantime, I have continued with my blog, and have published the following entries since my blog’s last anniversary, the same time last year:

250. Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Six – March 26, 2011

251. Imagine There’s a Heaven - April 29, 2011

252. The Argument from the Unity of Knowledge - May 25, 2011

253. Considering Tony’s Offerings - June 2, 2011

254. A Proof that the Christian God Does Not Exist - July 15, 2011

255. Nide’s Snide - July 22, 2011

256. Presuppositionalism vs. Objectivism: How Objectivism Prevails - August 2, 2011

257. Five Years and Still Waiting… - August 12, 2011

258. STB: One Year and Still Waiting… - August 27, 2011

259. Answering Nide’s Questions about the Uniformity of Nature - September 6, 2011

260. Strange Bedfellows? - October 3, 2011

261. George H. Smith’s “Atheism: The Case Against God” – Online – Free PDF - October 16, 2011

262. Has the Primacy of Existence Been Refuted? - October 27, 2011

263. A Reply to Dustin Seger’s Dismantled Blog Entry on Objectivism - November 1, 2011

264. Cognitive Reliability vs. Supernatural Deception - November 21, 2011

265. Christianity’s Sanction of Evil - December 1, 2011

266. Christianity’s Psychological Price Tag - December 4, 2011

267. Some Thoughts on the “Sensus Divinitatis” - December 6, 2011

268. A Reply to Michael: Further Thoughts on the Issue of Supernatural Deception - December 10, 2011

269. Are the Laws of Logic “Thoughts” of the Christian God? - January 1, 2012

270. Reaction to My Critique of Anderson and Welty’s “The Lord of Non-Contradiction” - February 25, 2012

271. Nide’s 15 - March 6, 2012

272. Can a Worldview “Provide” the “Preconditions of Intelligibility”? - Part I - March 16, 2012

273. Can a Worldview “Provide” the “Preconditions of Intelligibility”? - Part II - March 17, 2012

274. Can a Worldview “Provide” the “Preconditions of Intelligibility”? - Part III - March 20, 2012

275. The Self-Attesting Absurdity of the Christian Worldview - March 22, 2012

Highlights from the past year include (not to mention being evacuated from a flooded Bangkok in the fall of 2011!):
- a most historic pwning of Dustin Segers in his fault-ridden attempt to refute the primacy of existence;
- two posts interacting with James Anderson and Greg Welty’s paper The Lord of Non-Contradiction, found here and here;
- and a three-part analysis of the presuppositionalist claim that the Christian worldview “provides” the necessary preconditions for intelligibility, found here, here, and here.
So there’s a lot here to sink your teeth into. So get busy – start reading, start digesting, start thinking. Consider the points I raise, and formulate your own view. Perhaps I’m wrong. If so, discover why. Perhaps I’m right. If so, understand why. In the meantime, I will do my best, given my haphazard and very full schedule, to keep up with my blog and carry it to its eighth anniversary.

by Dawson Bethrick

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Self-Attesting Absurdity of the Christian Worldview

Over the past week, I presented a three-part series exploring the common presuppositionalist claim that the “Christian worldview” is the “only worldview” which “provides” the necessary preconditions for intelligibility. My investigation of this claim, which can be found here, here and here, demonstrates why this claim simply cannot be true.

But in spite of giving the matter more careful and systematic attention than presuppositionalists themselves typically devote to their own talking points, this demonstration – and more importantly, just the idea of taking a critical look at such a claim – will likely be ignored by apologists.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Can a Worldview “Provide” the “Preconditions of Intelligibility”? - Part III

What Are the Preconditions of Intelligibility?
If intelligibility is the capacity of some thing to be an object of awareness and be identified and integrated into the sum of one’s knowledge without contradiction, then what can we say about the preconditions of this ability?

I would wager that we can say quite a bit, and everything we can say about them – it will be seen – vies against the presuppositionalist claim that the Christian worldview “provides the necessary preconditions for intelligibility.”

But let’s ask the question: what is needed for a thing to be an object of awareness and be identified and integrated into the sum of one’s knowledge without contradiction?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Can a *Worldview* “Provide” the “Preconditions of Intelligibility”? - Part II

What is “Intelligibility”?

In my initial post in this series, we saw that it is common for presuppositionalists to assume that a worldview is what “provides the necessary preconditions for intelligibility.” By ‘worldview’ presuppositionalists explicitly mean “a network... of beliefs,” and it has even been stated that “beliefs are preconditions for intelligible experience” (see here).

This is not an isolated example. Indeed, I gave several other examples in my previous entry on this topic, and here are yet two more:
TAG [i.e., the “transcendental argument for the existence of God”] asserts that only the Christian worldview provides the necessary preconditions for the intelligibility of human experience. (Michael Butler, TAG vs. TANG)
Van Til contended that the Christian worldview supplies the preconditions of intelligibility. (Steve Hays, Theonomy under fire-2)
Logically this all means that “a network.. of beliefs” – i.e., a worldview - is the source of the necessary preconditions of intelligibility.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Can a *Worldview* "Provide" the "Preconditions of Intelligibility"? - Part I

One of the more commonly met elements of presuppositionalism is the assumption that a worldview can “provide the necessary preconditions of intelligibility.” From what I have seen, this assumption in itself is never defended. Presuppositionalists typically do not present arguments for why one should expect that a worldview as such (regardless of the particulars of that worldview) “provides the necessary preconditions of intelligibility.” The assumption that “the necessary preconditions of intelligibility” are “provided” by a worldview is generally taken completely for granted by presuppositionalists, and I’ve never seen an argument which establishes this premise.

Rather, it is typically embedded into the presuppositionalist characterization of the antithesis between Christian theism and any acknowledged contenders, as though it required no substantiation whatsoever. This in itself is noteworthy since presuppositional apologists commonly seek to make a worldview’s ability to “provide the preconditions of intelligibility” the fulcrum upon which the debate between Christianity and any non-Christian position hinges.

In this series, I will argue that at least some (indeed, the most fundamental) preconditions of intelligibility are actually not provided by any worldview. The position which I will defend is the view that those preconditions in question would already need to be in place for any worldview to exist in the first place. Moreover, I will argue that in the case of those preconditions for intelligibility which a worldview should supply, Christianity as a worldview comes up far too short to be seriously considered as their source.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Nide's 15

Christian apologist in-the-making Nide Corniell, who blogs and comments under the pseudonym “Hezekiah Ahaz,” continues to insist on playing the court jester. I recently posed 15 questions for Nide to consider (in the comments section of this blog), and he addressed them in his usual evasive and tirelessly adolescent manner (see here.)

Most of these are questions that I had posed to Nide earlier in our comment discussion but which he had resisted answering. Now we have his answers. Let’s take a look and see what he says.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reaction to My Critique of Anderson and Welty’s “The Lord of Non-Contradiction”

It’s not very common to find Christian apologists acknowledging my critiques of theistic apologetics (let alone actually interacting with them). So when it does happen, and I learn about it, my interest is piqued. Typically theistic apologists ignore my writings, suggesting that even if they are aware of them and have taken some time to examine any of them, they are left only with a blank stare and perhaps some sneering reaction against me personally. There are occasions when apologists confronted with my critiques of theistic defenses will indicate that they’ll examine the matter more deeply at some unspecified future time, but fail to deliver on such promises. I’m reminded of several occasions when Chris Bolt, for example, would promise to look further into the matter at some unspecified future time.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Are the Laws of Logic "Thoughts" of the Christian God?

Hello my readers.

Happy 2555 to all!

Yes, here in Thailand, it’s not 2012. Thailand goes by a version of the Buddhist calendar, and it’s already the year 2555 here. Perhaps you could think of me as writing to you from the future.

As I predicted in earlier messages to you on my blog, I’ve been busier than Wall Street on a bull rally since getting back to Bangkok late November. The flood waters are for the most part gone, and life for most people is back to normal. But there’s a sense of urgency to make up for lost time, both in the private sector and also in public works. Schools are even going six days a week here, which means my daughter, who’s only in kindergarten, has a brutal schedule to keep.
Unfortunately, that means I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog. I see that Nide is still going at it, and that Justin Hall and Ydemoc are continuing to engage him. They’re all welcome to continue doing so. I’m sure it will all make for some interesting reading one day, supposing I get the time.
In the meanwhile, I’ve been feasting – really, nibbling and grazing, when opportunity arises – on a paper recently published by James Anderson and Greg Welty called The Lord of Non-Contradiction: An Argument for God from Logic. In this paper, the authors set out to “argue for a substantive metaphysical relationship between the laws of logic and the existence of God” (p. 1). Specifically they aim to prove “that there are laws of logic because God exists,” that “there are laws of logic only because God exists” (Ibid.). Presumably this is the Christian god of the New Testament whose existence their argument will finally prove. They say of their own argument that it is “a fascinating and powerful but neglected argument for the existence of God.” Of course, this is not meant to be self-congratulatory, but rather a device intended to hook the reader’s interest so that he’ll continue on for the next twenty-plus pages of fun-filled reading. (I’m guessing that, for Sye Ten Bruggencate, 22 pages devoted to the development of a single argument does not constitute “argumentum ad verbosium,” since it’s intended to establish, once and for all, the existence of a deity.)