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.

But as one ever-willing to engage Christian apologists on the presumed merits of their claims, I sought to contact Jackson for a discussion by submitting a comment to his blog. And that is what I did on October 4, 2012, at 5 PM, local Bangkok time.

Though I cannot say that I’m all that surprised, Jackson has to date yet to approve my comment to his blog. And I would gladly content that he has every right to withhold my comment from appearing on his blog, the complete silence in response to my comment, either publicly or privately, can only leave open any speculations and suspicions that might explain Jackson’s decision.

Below I present the comment that I posted to Jackson’s blog entry in its entirety:
Hello Charles,  
I found your blog quite by accident and am really enjoying it. It speaks to an area of antithesis between Christianity and Objectivism that I find fascinating.  
You mention a desire to see philosophers of math evaluating various forms of “isms” (e.g., naturalism, constructivism, formalism, nominalism, etc.) and after having “recognized the ultimate futility of each,” that they would eventually “find MIC” (is that the thesis that “math is Christian”?) and “develop a Christian philosophy of math.” I notice that Objectivism is not listed among the various “isms” that you specify, but apparently it is to be included in your sweeping summary designated as “isms ad nauseum.” And yet, I would be most curious to see how one would demonstrate “the ultimate futility” of Objectivism when it comes to such a project.  
You say that you “will not address these isms here, except to say that they all arbitrarily (i.e. without warrant) assume the Inductive Principle.” This is a rather sweeping charge here, and I wonder how you would make it stick in the case of Objectivism. If by “the Inductive Principle” you have in mind the epistemological basis for “reason[ing] from particulars to universals or generalities,” Objectivism has full justification for this since it applies inductive procedures on the basis of the Objectivist axioms, the primacy of existence and the objective theory of concepts. So it is *not* the case, contrary to what you state in your blog, that for at least this one form of secular or non-theistic philosophy, namely Objectivism, that “Induction lacks a foundation.” In fact, I would argue that there is no more secure basis for induction than this epistemological foundation.  
You say that “whenever one uses human language, he or she reasons from particulars to universals or generalities (i.e. uses induction).” Objectivist epistemology explains precisely how the mind does this by means of concept-formation (cf. the objective theory of concepts), and in its analysis of this process, Objectivist epistemology shows how this process is essentially mathematical in nature. Indeed, it can be argued that one is already performing conceptual processes before he ever uses human language; he adopts linguistic symbols in order to facilitate retention, organization and communication of concepts he’s already formed.  
You proceed to state that “no one can warrant the use of Induction on a non-Christian basis.” And yet, the axioms, the primacy of existence and the objective theory of concepts constitute an explicitly non-Christian basis! In fact, they are philosophically incompatible with any form of theism. I would like to know how one could reason inductively or perform any mathematical procedure consistently while denying any of these fundamentals.  
You cite James Anderson’s “Secular Responses to the Problem of Induction,” but if you examine his paper, you should note that even Anderson does not examine the Objectivist position when it comes to induction. None of the criticisms which he brings against the solutions which he does survey, applies to Objectivism. Indeed, for all I can tell, he was completely unaware of Objectivism’s approach to induction when he wrote his paper. So I would say Anderson is far too hasty when he concludes that “it is evident that there presently exists no satisfactory solution to the problem of induction from a secular perspective.”  
As for math, I would argue that Christianity will provide philosophers of math with an absolute, untraversable dead-end. This is because Christianity denies the axioms, it explicitly assumes the primacy of consciousness (which is self-contradictory), and it has no theory of concepts at all. Incidentally, these are the very same reasons why Christianity can provide no solution to the problem of induction. If you ever read Bahnsen on the topic of induction (and this is evident in Anderson’s paper referenced above), you will nowhere find any questioning of Hume’s epistemology as it is used in developing his famous skeptical conclusion regarding induction. Why is that? I understand why: because Christianity has no theory of concepts, and in fact it does not approach induction as a *conceptual* procedure. Consequently, Christianity has no basis to challenge Hume’s approach to induction. Bahnsen himself proclaimed Hume as a leading authority on the matter. That’s pretty appalling.  
At any rate, I’m sure my remarks here will raise questions for you. Please let me know if you’d like to discuss them.  
Regards,  
Dawson Bethrick
http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/
Perhaps I should have gone easier on the guy.

But I must say that I am very curious how any Christian might respond to the points I raise here and where any following discussion might go. It appears, however, that Jackson does not share this curiosity. For if he did, I would think that he would be happy to pursue it, as I am.

Be that as it may, namely that Christians may not be interested in taking the discussion in the direction that an objective approach to the matter would take it, it will have to suffice to simply note that my points have not been answered.

But there may be another point that we should not overlook. Since there are strong parallels between presuppositionalism and attempts to rationalize the use of mind-distorting drugs (as I point out here), perhaps the title question should be revised to “Is meth Christian?”

by Dawson Bethrick

Labels: , ,

187 Comments:

Blogger _ said...

Dawson,

who's your favorite Christian apologist?

October 18, 2012 9:43 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 18, 2012 10:02 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

The objectivist theory of concepts is as far as I can tell not an attempt at a logical proof of it but more of an explanation and description of it. How it operates which given the vague nature of the how do we "account for" it question that presuppoers always charge us with might suffice. I mean it does account for it does it not in a way? However a thought has occurred to me. Conception formation is a form of induction and concepts are how we think and our thinking is our consciousness. Therefor the question of how one accounts for induction bears the same relationship to consciousness as the question where did the universe come from bears to the concept existence. In essence the whole "problem" of induction amounts to yet another attempt to get underneath or prior to one of the axiomatic concepts. In even asking how does one account for induction one would have performatively already validated it. Am I understanding the issue here correctly?

October 18, 2012 10:04 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Justin,

all the presuppers are dead.

October 18, 2012 10:09 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Thanks for supplying us with more material!

By the way, over on Dan's blog I posed the question: “Do you think reality exists?”

He answered: “Yes as revealed by God.”

Needless to say, his answer didn't come as a big surprise. He also responded to other questions I posed; I'm currently working on my response.

I'll keep you posted.

Ydemoc

October 18, 2012 10:10 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Ydemoc,

what is reality?

I just thought about something funny. I remember bolt telling me that i always failed to explain what was going on in the TAG. it's kind of funny. He also claimed that Sye restored his confidence in PA

October 18, 2012 10:18 PM  
Blogger NAL said...

the Christian God, being, as He is, infinite, ...

Is that infinity Aleph_0 or Aleph_1? How does the Christian worldview account for different infinities?

October 19, 2012 1:38 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Funny thing about taht NAL, I have had christians tell me trans inifinte numbers are a satanic invention, no joke.

October 19, 2012 1:44 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Ydemoc,

Do you think that Dan is worth your efforts? The guy is a complete ass-hole. He has no idea even of what he is saying. He has become such a thoughtless puppet that I wonder if he is not driving his wife and kids crazy. He must imagine with great pleasure licking the shit out of the ass of his god Sye.

October 22, 2012 2:46 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Hey, photo!

It's nice to see that you've been following along over there (at least, I'm assuming that's what you've been doing).

As for your question -- which, as crafted, gave me a good chuckle, the answer is a qualified "yes."

It's worth my time in the sense that in replying to him (and others like him), I not only get to learn more and more about how to respond to and combat his particular brand of irrationality (and others like it), but also, in the process of reading and rereading Rand, Peikoff, Dawson, Thorn, CJ Holmes, et. al., as well in crafting my responses, I end up integrating more fully the various facets of a rational philosophy like Objectivism.

This in turn helps me deal with such irrationality, wherever it rears its ugly head, e.g., from one or more of my immediate family members.

I also get some entertainment value from posting over there (and here).

Secondary to all this (and as I've stated before), I hope that what I've presented on Dan's blog (and elsewhere) ends up being of some value to any fence-sitters who happen to be lurking. Maybe they'll choose to investigate further and end up reading Rand, Peikoff, Kelly, et al.; or maybe they will pop on over here and read the tremendous amount of quality material that Dawson has produced.

Admittedly, I've had to budget my time a little more carefully lately, so I haven't had a chance to respond as much as I would like to what Dan has written. But I will.

If there should ever come a time when I don't get as much out of it as I put in, then I will definitely consider curtailing how often I post over there.

Anyway, thanks for asking!

Ydemoc




October 22, 2012 6:30 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Hey Ydemoc, I am currently working my way through The New Left by Rand. Makes good reading on the long train commute to work. I found her description of the Woodstock festival amusing.

October 23, 2012 12:37 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Justin,

You wrote: "I am currently working my way through The New Left by Rand. Makes good reading on the long train commute to work. I found her description of the Woodstock festival amusing."

I was going to respond to you by just saying, "Hey, that sounds outta sight, man," but I chickened out.

Seriously though, I should give that a read again because it's been awhile.

Anyway, I gotta split.

Later days.

Ydemoc

October 23, 2012 2:02 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

grovy man, I can dig it:)

October 23, 2012 2:19 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 23, 2012 2:34 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Justin,

"I can dig it" -- now that's one phrase that would've been so bitchin' to use in my above comment! But I just spaced out. Now ain't that a drag? Oh well...

Ydemoc

October 23, 2012 2:37 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Hey Ydemoc,

I have followed a bit over there. But just a bit. Dan exasperates me for the level of stupidity that e can attain. Did you see his "primacy of god"? Man, so incredibly stupid. I would rather answer him in a place where I can call him for the incredible imbecile that he is. So full of himself and of shit, which is one and literally the very same ...

No matter how coherently you write to him, he will not get it, and you can't even have the pleasure of destroying him thoroughly in a way that's evident for those who are not mentally challenged but might still be as amateurish as Dan himself.

I rather wait for your report than keep reading the imbecility he writes while feeling so proud of himself. Gives me a stomachache. May he drown in Sye's diarrhoea.

October 23, 2012 6:59 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Ydemoc,

I posted this at Dan's primacy of god crap (had to do something to alleviate my stomachache after reading his verbal diarrhea):

Yes Dan, because surely a god could be conscious without first existing and without there being anything to be conscious about. You can't see your own stupidity and recognize it for what it is. How come? Weren't you supposed to have your god's omnicrapery to assist you?

Now the point, if I were to continue (but I can't stand the man), would be to continue showing in short bits that Dan is always assuming the primacy of existence (which is implicit in my comment, so Dan will miss it. Yes, he is that stupid). He might erase my comment. But I had the pleasure of showing him evidently wrong, and insulted him for letting that out of his ass.

Alloha

October 23, 2012 7:23 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Justin,

I'm def not digging your latest post. It seems like everytime I go over there you're complaining about something.

But it's always nice to see the comraderie between you and Ydemoc.

October 23, 2012 7:48 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Hi Photo,

Thanks for your reply.

You wrote: "No matter how coherently you write to him, he will not get it,"

Yep. This does seem to be the case.

You wrote: "and you can't even have the pleasure of destroying him thoroughly in a way that's evident for those who are not mentally challenged but might still be as amateurish as Dan himself."

Well, then maybe I'll have to kick it up a notch or two.

You wrote: "I rather wait for your report than keep reading the imbecility he writes while feeling so proud of himself. Gives me a stomachache."

I'll try to keep everyone posted. There's so much to explain to him. Right now, he seems to be having a very difficult time integrating the fact that if existence exists, then the primacy of existence must obtain. He's not making the connection. Either that, or he's fighting it all the way because he realizes the implications it has for the "confessional investment" he's made.

You wrote: May he drown in Sye's diarrhoea."

I could be wrong, but I believe I once heard Johnny Carson utter a similar Middle Eastern curse while performing his famous bit, "Carnac the Magnificent."

Ydemoc



October 23, 2012 8:19 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Photo,

I'll be curious to see how Dan replies to your post.

I wonder if he'll resort to: "Are you absolutely certain of that? If so, how do you account for your certainty without being viciously circular?"

And round and round we go.

Ydemoc

October 23, 2012 8:25 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Ydemoc,

I remember the time Steve went after Dawson and you didn't defend him.

What a chicken.

October 23, 2012 8:34 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Photo,

I hadn't seen Dan's latest, but thanks to your heads up, I popped on over there and now see what you were referring to. It looks like a hastily written piece, with several charges of fallacy leveled against Rand's Primacy of Existence Principle.

How he thinks calling the primacy of consciousness, the "Primacy of God" I'm not quite sure. I don't think he does, either.

I guess I'll work on a reply -- that is, if I'm able to decipher half of what he's written. He obviously didn't take much care in putting it together.

For anyone who's interested, here's the link:

http://debunkingatheists.blogspot.com/2012/10/primacy-of-god.html#comment-form

Ydemoc

October 23, 2012 8:53 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Ydemoc,

I see you're still going around trying to convince people that there is a reality apart from you.

it's kinda funny.

what objectivist fear most is the possibility that there is only one mind.

October 23, 2012 9:05 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

I could be wrong, but I believe I once heard Johnny Carson utter a similar Middle Eastern curse while performing his famous bit, "Carnac the Magnificent."

Oh shit. And here I am feeling so original.

:)

October 24, 2012 4:58 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 24, 2012 5:08 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

what objectivist fear most is the possibility that there is only one mind

You might be mistaking objectivism with solipsism. Still, why would anybody fear such a thing? The most solipsist among people would understand that if there's only one mind it would be theirs (and it would be doing pretty amazing stuff).

October 24, 2012 5:11 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

To All,

In case anyone's interested, here's the link to my response to only a small portion of what Dan has written in his latest blog entry and comments:

http://debunkingatheists.blogspot.com/2012/10/primacy-of-god.html?showComment=1351122259559#c1662989713596645095

Ydemoc

October 24, 2012 5:35 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Photo,

if you're the only mind, then all your claims are bogus.

So how is it that you are not the only mind that exists?

October 24, 2012 7:45 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

if you're the only mind, then all your claims are bogus

I am not a solipsist. But I would like to understand what you are saying. Which claims would be bogus if I were the only mind? Why? And, if so (or not so), why would anybody fear such a thing?

October 25, 2012 5:05 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Are you afraid that you might be the only mind?

October 25, 2012 5:06 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Photo,

Aren't you an "objectivist"?


Yes, I'm afraid that I may simply be taking to myself.

October 25, 2012 7:12 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Andrew Louis showed up over on Dan's blog. Here's what he wrote, followed by my response:

Andrew wrote: "Don't worry, Dan, nobody really takes Rand seriously. I mean her argument is just like the theist one, except she replaces the primacy of God with the primacy of existence. Essentially she's substituting one absolute for another."

http://debunkingatheists.blogspot.com/2012/10/primacy-of-god.html?showComment=1351215101160#c9137435822394741524

I responded:

"Hi Andrew,

You wrote: "Don't worry, Dan, nobody really takes Rand seriously."

I followed your numerous exchanges with Dawson back in 2010. You two had a nice discussion going for quite a while, and you posed some really interesting questions that certainly piqued my interest, and from which I was able to learn quite a bit as a result. For those who are interested, I believe Andrew makes his first comment here in this thread at time stamp September 01, 2012 5:11 AM

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11714522&postID=1320433460407799132&isPopup=true

And then it continued, with Dawson devoting a blog entry to his interaction with Andrew.

http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2010/09/my-squabble-with-andrew.html

And then Andrew answered back with a two-part response on his own blog.

http://idiotphilosophy.blogspot.com/2010/09/response-to-dawson.html

http://idiotphilosophy.blogspot.com/2010/09/p2-response-to-dawson.html

And then Dawson replied:

http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2010/09/reply-to-andrew-louis.html

And then Andrew replied again:

http://idiotphilosophy.blogspot.com/2010/09/p3-response-to-dawson.html

And then Dawson replied:

http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2010/09/another-reply-to-andrew-louis.html

And then Andrew replied:

http://idiotphilosophy.blogspot.com/2010/09/p4-reponse-to-dawson.html

And then Dawson replied in the comments section of his blog:

http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2010/09/another-reply-to-andrew-louis.html#5902949155005757943

Those were certainly some serious exchanges that went on for pretty much a full week. And I really enjoyed them. Are you planning to make a return visit anytime soon?

You wrote: "I mean her argument is just like the theist one, except she replaces the primacy of God with the primacy of existence."

Based upon those interactions with Dawson, I guess I'm not all that surprised to see that this is your position. But I am a little surprised that, given all those great exchanges, you wouldn't at least try to represent Dawson's position a little bit better than this.

In one of those threads, you said, "Myself, shit, I'm a pragmatist; I don't care about certainty and I let truth take care of itself."

Is this still your position?"

Ydemoc



October 25, 2012 8:52 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

"Andrew wrote: "Don't worry, Dan, nobody really takes Rand seriously. I mean her argument is just like the theist one, except she replaces the primacy of God with the primacy of existence. Essentially she's substituting one absolute for another."

The difference being no one doubts existence. It is after all directly experienced. To place it in the same category as god which is something that can only be imagined is pretty damn obviously a case of category error and sloppy if not outright dishonest thinking. Further while most may not take Rand seriously they sure as hell take reality a damn sight more seriously then god despite what they may say to the contrary. People do after all look both ways before crossing a street regardless of denomination.

October 25, 2012 9:37 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Justin,

How do you know people look both ways?

If people do look both ways, it's because they fear pain or death not because "existence exists"

October 25, 2012 10:01 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

"_",

Aren't you an "objectivist"?

Nope.

Yes, I'm afraid that I may simply be taking to myself.

Then go solve your problem instead of projecting.

If people do look both ways, it's because they fear pain or death not because "existence exists"

How could anybody fear pain or death unless people, pain, and death existed? How could they look both ways unless both ways existed? ...

October 26, 2012 5:25 AM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Ydemoc,

I was very disappointed at Andrew Louis in that exchange.

October 26, 2012 5:29 AM  
Blogger _ said...

Photo,

Do you believe that there is a reality apart from you?

October 26, 2012 5:41 AM  
Blogger _ said...

Justin,

How do you know you're not the only mind that exists?

I posted this over on Justins blog but he deleted it.

It's kinda funny.

October 27, 2012 2:18 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Underscore,
with regard to:
"How do you know you're not the only mind that exists?"

Why do you think this is a meaningful question? I could be the only mind and everyone else just a bunch of meat-puppets, but who cares. They act like they have minds, like they have pains, like they enjoy sex, and like they get pissed off if you throw feces at them. As a result, we in the very least ACT like they have minds because this gives us the best ability to navigate the environment we're in.

There seems to be this fear that if people don't/didn't have minds, or at least people believed it, that this would give some license to act immorally. I mean afterall, if they're all just meat-puppets, there's no REAL harm in harm. But you'd then be missing the point that regardless of everyones mind status, the cause and effect relationship you have with the world doesn't change. i.e. that guy you threw feces at will kick your ass, robbing a bank will end you up in jail, pinching Mrs. Wilson's butt-cheek will get you slapped and fired, so on and so forth.

So honestly, what real difference does it make and why is this an interesting question?

October 27, 2012 3:16 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Andrew,

For a year now I have been asking the "realist" how do they know that what they claim is real is real?

You should know this.

All I ever get is the same worn out slogans.

October 27, 2012 3:56 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Fair enough,
but personally I think it's a "go nowhere" question.

October 27, 2012 4:02 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Andrew,

Nietzsche ripped the "realist" to shreds a long time ago.

October 27, 2012 4:27 PM  
Blogger Lesley said...

I met my first presuppositionalist today.

"Talking" to him (and I have this in inverted commas because that word generally presupposes (ha!) some sort of mutual agreement on stuff like the meaning of words, or the meaning of meaning) was one of the weirdest experiences of my life - like what I can only imagine synaesthesia might feel like; I felt as if I were trying to eat a mathematical formula, or hold a discussion with the colour green. I've been a Christian my whole life and have never before heard of anything like this (thank whatever you like). This philosophy would do better trying to defend the existence of Nyarlathotep, because the only terms that describe this surreal experience are ones like "eldritch" and "non-Euclidian". I've annoyed my family enough now by rehashing over and over again how freaky it was trying to talk to someone who used words without meaning anything at all, so now I'm here to post my rantings somewhere where people might appreciate them (up to a point of course.)

October 31, 2012 1:52 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Lesley,

Your tripping.

October 31, 2012 5:15 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Hi Lesley,

This isn't my blog; it's Dawson Bethrick's. But I thought it I would take the liberty to jump in here and apologize for the rude behavior of our village "presuppositionalist."

If you read the comments sections back far enough (as well taking a look at a handful of blog entries), you will see that this character, formerly known as Nide, Hezekiah, r_c321, Trinity, Fatheist, Richard, and who lately has started calling himself "_" or as some have called him "Underscore," -- often exhibits the exact type of behavior which you complained about in your comment above.

Most everyone around here no longer pays him any mind, primarily because he tends not to demonstrate that he actually has one.

Ydemoc

October 31, 2012 5:44 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Lesley,

How do you think atheists account for minds?

But Don't mind Ydemoc he's a little sore about his latest failure to defend his beliefs over on the debunking athiests blog. A fellow by the name of Andrew Lewis is up now 100 to nothing. It's pretty funny.

October 31, 2012 5:55 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Greetings Lesley and welcome to the never ending "debate". Just thought I would chime in because you mentioned synesthesia. I assure you as one of the one in 25,000 people with this neurological condition it is not really a problem and the world is very much intelligible:) For me all it amounts to is that my auditory appearance is shall we say "colorful".

October 31, 2012 7:14 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Lesley,

May I say that on just a quick trip through your blog, looking at your drawings/paintings, that I appreciate your artistry.

In case you're interested, Justin, who commented earlier, is also quite talented in that department.

Ydemoc




October 31, 2012 9:50 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Hey there Ydemoc, thank you compliment. On the home front one of my new roommates is a creationist. He is a good man, honest and resourceful. We have already had some pretty cool discussions on the topic of evolution. I might write up a long blog post about it sometime. Wait! I already did:)

October 31, 2012 10:04 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Justin,

You're welcome! And I'll check out your new post.

Ydemoc

October 31, 2012 10:51 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings said...

Rand never properly understood Christian epistemology. Christianity does not hold that finite consciousness has primacy over reality. And like Objectivism, Christianity rejects the rationalist-empiricist dichotomy as a false alternative. It emphatically rejects an unqualified Cartesian rationalism and is particularly unimpressed with Kantian subjectivism.

Equating revealed religion to "imagination" merely begs the question, i.e., presupposes an ontological materialism which cannot be empirically demonstrated in any sense whatsoever. The "reality" on which the Objectivist stakes all being is strictly a matter of faith. The Objectivist just thinks he can escape the metaphysical imperative of the human condition with an arbitrary contrivance . . . nothing more than a rhetorical slight of hand, really.

"Objectivism: The Uninspired Religion of 'Reason' ": http://michaeldavidrawlings1.blogspot.com/2012/10/objectivism-uninspired-religion-of.html

November 04, 2012 1:15 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Michael,

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving your comment. What you have stated suggests very strongly that you do not have a very good grasp of what Objectivism teaches. I’ll touch on some of your objections.

You wrote: “Rand never properly understood Christian epistemology.”

Several questions:

1. Just what exactly *is* “Christian epistemology”? Where can it be found? What does it teach? What does it say knowledge is? What does it say about concepts? What is the process which “Christian epistemology” endorses, and how does it work?

2. Who “properly” understands what you call “Christian epistemology”? There are hundreds if not thousands of different (and often opposing) versions of Christianity as such. For a Christian to say that he understands “Christian epistemology” (as though there were such a thing) means that he is saying that other professing Christians do not understand it.

3. Where precisely does Rand speak on “Christian epistemology,” and how exactly does she get it wrong?

You wrote: “Christianity does not hold that finite consciousness has primacy over reality.”

Again, several questions:

1. Where does “Christianity” state this? Is it in the bible?

2. What about faith? What about prayer? What about belief unto salvation? What about soothsayers and workers of evil wonders? Should we just chuck out everything the bible says?

3. Arbitrary hair-splitting aside, it makes no difference when Christians affirm an imaginary distinction between “finite consciousness” and “infinite consciousness.” If Christianity presumes *any* consciousness holding metaphysical primacy over its objects, then Christianity assumes the truth of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. There’s no getting out of this for the Christian.

You wrote: “And like Objectivism, Christianity rejects the rationalist-empiricist dichotomy as a false alternative.”

1. Where exactly does “Christianity” reject the rationalist-empiricist dichotomy?

2. If such a rejection as such is not to be found in the bible, who or what can speak on behalf of what Christianity does or does not reject?

3. It may be possible that the bible does not explicitly affirm either horn of the rationalist-empiricist dichotomy, while various defenses of the Christian worldview may in fact affirm one or the other. Instances of philosophical inconsistency within Christendom are not a surprising feature.

4. Christianity certainly does not affirm the objective alternative to the rationalist-empiricist dichotomy, for to do so would require a full understanding of the objective theory of concepts, and Christianity has *no* theory of concepts to begin with (let alone an *objective* theory of concepts).

[continued…]

November 04, 2012 4:29 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “It emphatically rejects an unqualified Cartesian rationalism and is particularly unimpressed with Kantian subjectivism.”

Where does classical Christianity show any awareness of Cartesian and/or Kantian metaphysics? I’m curious.

You wrote: “Equating revealed religion to ‘imagination’ merely begs the question, i.e., presupposes an ontological materialism which cannot be empirically demonstrated in any sense whatsoever.”

Again, numerous problems here:

1. It is not clear that (nor do you explain how) “equating revealed religion to ‘imagination’… presupposes an ontological materialism.” I am aware of no overt inconsistency if a non-materialist equates revealed religion to imagination.

2. Objectivism would be right to reject such a charge as committing the fallacy of the stolen concept, for materialism is fundamentally distinguished by a rejection (de facto or de jure) of the axiom of consciousness while the concept of imagination presupposes the reality of consciousness. Someone “equating” revealed religion with imagination could not report an internally consistent materialist metaphysics.

3. As an objection against Objectivism, this point fails, for Objectivism does not “equate” religion (revealed or otherwise) with imagination. Rather, Objectivism recognizes that religion subsists fundamentally on ignoring the fundamental distinction between reality and imagination. I’ve highlighted this fact in numerous entries on my blog.

You wrote: “The ‘reality’ on which the Objectivist stakes all being is strictly a matter of faith.”

Statements like this indicate that you have no firsthand understanding of what Objectivism teaches, or at worst are simply not being honest to what Objectivism does in fact teach. Objectivism couldn’t be any clearer in its recognition of reality as explicitly *mind-independent*. It is not something that is “strictly a matter of faith,” nor does Objectivism in any way “stake… all being” on a reality which is “strictly a matter of faith.” Faith has nothing to do with what reality is or our means of perceiving and identifying it.

You wrote: “The Objectivist just thinks he can escape the metaphysical imperative of the human condition with an arbitrary contrivance . . . nothing more than a rhetorical slight of hand, really.”

What is “the metaphysical imperative of the human condition,” and what specifically do you think Objectivists are doing which suggests that they are trying to “escape” it “with an arbitrary contrivance”? What exactly do you mean by “arbitrary” and where did you get this concept? What specifically would a “Christian epistemology” have against anything that is arbitrary?

If your comments are at all an indication of your level of understanding of Objectivism, then I see no reason to bother exploring the link you provided.

Regards,
Dawson

November 04, 2012 4:29 AM  
Blogger NAL said...

Michael David Rawlings:

Christianity does not hold that finite consciousness has primacy over reality.

So God has infinite consciousness? That would imply that there are infinite things to be conscious of. However, many Christians deny the existence of an actual infinity in our universe. This would imply that there are other universes, an infinity of other universes.

November 04, 2012 6:02 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 04, 2012 7:46 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

setting aside the issue that an "infinite consciousness" is a meaningless term with no referent. The real problem I see is regardless of whether you call it infinite or finite or whatever it is still basically metaphysical subjectivism and thus when Michael makes his claim about god he has already contradicted himself.

November 04, 2012 8:19 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

off topic but it is the big day tomorrow. I am so disillusioned by both parties that I think I am going to just write by own name in for president. So vote for me because I desire pure power for its own sake.

AHAHAHAHAAHHH evil laugh.....

C'mon I will make Ydemoc Secretary of the interior and Dawson ambassador to Thailand.

November 05, 2012 11:30 AM  
Blogger _ said...

Justin,

Who ya voting for?

November 05, 2012 11:41 AM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings said...

Hey, Bahnsen!

I've been reading you for a awhile. Just never commented before.

Well, the matter is complex, isn't it? To save time and space, perhaps you'll allow that I'm well-read in the history of ideas and events, an experienced student of conceptual and mathematical logic, philosophy, theology and science.

When I write about the metaphysical or epistemological concerns of Christian theology, for example, my approach is that of the orthodox believer. This perspective is not to be confused with fundamentalism. The pertinent constructs of being and knowledge and so on are essentially the same for all orthodox believers, whether they be Protestants or Catholics. Ditto, for orthodox Jews, insofar as the Tanakh (or the Old Testament) is concerned. The differences among the various factions or denominations of orthodoxy mostly go to the conceptualizations of the various sacraments and, thus, their expressions. With regard to the matter before us, these are of secondary importance, the incidental differences of psychology.

(Naturally, Jews are still waiting for the arrival of the Messiah.)

The various "liberal" schools of Christian thought are an entirely different matter altogether. The orthodox regards them to be apostate.

Obviously, the level of the orthodox believer's theological sophistication is a matter of concern as well . . . but, ultimately, that's a matter of the ongoing processes of "concept-formation" or "-refinement."

Bare-bone summation: Judeo-Christian orthodoxy holds that being consists of the necessarily transcendent and the contingently immanent. Man, in his current state, is both a spiritual and material creature. He's comprised of spirit, mind (or soul) and body. As for the immediate concerns of this world, he's a creature of rational and sensory perception. Hence, orthodoxy has always rejected the various historical formulations of the rationalist-empiricist dichotomy. Instead, it holds to a synthesis of the two, albeit, contingent to the guidance of divine revelation. Hence, the orthodox Christian rejects rationalism and empiricism proper; he also rejects philosophical skepticism, subjectivism relativism, nihilism and so on. . . .

As Rand would put it, existence subsists! Form is reality. It's substance has primacy over human consciousness.

As for the allegation of splitting hairs. That's nonsensical. By definition the substance of the creature is contingent to that of the Creator. Objectively speaking, as I have no interest in proving God's existence to anyone, if we allow for the moment that reality consists of both the necessarily transcendent and the contingently immanent, the former necessarily has primacy over the latter. There's no disassembling in that observation whatsoever. Assuming the premise, the conclusion is sound. The opposite contention would be irrational.

November 05, 2012 2:31 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings said...

Continued. . . .

As for faith, it has nothing to do with the recognition of the dichotomy of transcendence-immanence, spirit-matter or necessary-contingent with regard to the issue of origin, or with the concomitant distinctions between the subjective and the objective, the a priori and a posteriori, the rational and the empirical or between metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism. . . .

And the conclusion that God is or must be, based on certain ontological and teleological considerations, is in no way, shape or form an unreasonable foundation from which one may inquire further. Simply put: the potentiality of God's existence resides at the base of knowledge, not as a proof, but as an undeniable possibility . . . one that is not subject to scientific falsification, no more than the methodological naturalist's a priori is subject to scientific falsification.

And yes, Judeo-Christian orthodoxy most certain does have a definitive set of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and aesthetics, derived directly from the Bible and expounded in a mountainous, centuries-old tradition of theology.

Except for my acquaintance with them as a matter of academics, I don't give hoot for the variously imponderable, subjectivist and relativist meanderings of "liberal" theology.

As for the realization of faith proper and prayer and the like, well, the only reasonable basis for these, in my opinion, would be a direct revelation from the Creator in some form or another.

But to better understand the matter from my perspective. . . .

http://michaeldavidrawlings1.blogspot.com/2012/10/objectivism-uninspired-religion-of.html

http://michaeldavidrawlings1.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-fuzz-in-descartess-belly-button.html

http://michaeldavidrawlings1.blogspot.com/2012/09/schisms.html

November 05, 2012 2:33 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings said...

Oh, just noticed this. The modifier "revealed" asserts a syllogistic premise for consideration, qualifying the noun "religion." By definition, a divinely revealed religion would not be the stuff of mere "imagination."

Now, whether or not the Bible is such a thing is another matter altogether.

November 05, 2012 2:50 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Michael,

You directed your comments to Dawson, but I would like to interject here with a quick comment.

You wrote: "As Rand would put it, existence subsists! Form is reality. It's substance has primacy over human consciousness."

I just did a search on Google for the string, "Form is substance" and "Ayn Rand." The only result that came back was from your blog.

I did that same with "Ayn Rand" and "existence subsists" and two of the four hits that came back were from your blog. The other two were results that were in no way associated with anything Ayn Rand said or wrote.

The search string, "substance has primacy over human consciousness" and "Ayn Rand" resulted in zero results.

My final search string, "primacy over human consciousness," gave two results. Both were from your blog.

Ayn Rand was very precise in the terms she used. So, with all due respect, your statement that your formulations above are "[a]s Rand would put it..." are clearly *not* as Rand would put it, nor did she ever couch her philosophy in such terms.

Ydemoc

November 05, 2012 3:11 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Michael,

Why don't you have any interest in proving God's existence?

November 05, 2012 3:23 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

_,

Why don't you have any interest in proving God's existence?

Because that would be an exercise of futility. He just wants to use lots of verbiage to show how knowledgeable he is, and how assuming the premises that his god exists all "looks" all right and "reasonable." Which is also nonsense, but the verbiage is built to mask the stupidity behind a curtain of "scholarship."

There's many guys like this. In all kinds of endeavours. The sad thing is, they often actually think that they have something of substance to say. But I am not interested in engaging this kind of people.

See ya Hezek.

November 05, 2012 5:52 PM  
Blogger _ said...

Photo,

It's good to see you are always watching. Surprisingly we finally agree.

It would be nice to see Michael's argument in plain terms.

November 05, 2012 6:07 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello again Michael.

I had replied to your earlier message with a series of questions intended to tease out some of the underlying assumptions and understandings that purportedly would support your more or less unargued assertions. We need to get back to your claim that “Rand never properly understood Christian epistemology.” I asked several questions in response to this claim, but you have not directly addressed them so far as I can tell in your latest spree of comments. I asked these questions because they are important to me. If you want to continue dialoguing with me, you’re welcome to do so. But I would ask that you grant me the courtesy of addressing questions that I think are important. After all, it is you who has come to me, not vice versa.

So before you proceed with anything else, I ask that you address the three question areas that I identified in response to your claim about Rand. What exactly “Christian epistemology” might be and what you think Rand understood it to be are the biggies here. You’ve not addressed either concern yet.

While you are busy with that, I will move on.

You wrote: “The pertinent constructs of being and knowledge and so on are essentially the same for all orthodox believers, whether they be Protestants or Catholics.”

While I am not impressed by claims of unanimity of support for a position (if the position is false, it doesn’t matter how many different people or versions of that position subscribe to it), the unanimity claim here is itself quite dubious in my experience. But to settle this point, you would need to identify what you mean by “the pertinent constructs of being and knowledge and so on.” Without enumerating the specifics here, you could mean all kinds of things, and your readers (me included) would be none the wiser. Help us understand what you want to say, Michael. Spell it out for us.

You say that “The differences among the various factions or denominations of orthodoxy mostly go to the conceptualizations of the various sacraments and, thus, their expressions.”

I find this to be one of the most curious statements in your comments. Sacraments include things like baptism, confirmation, communion (“Eucharist”), tending to the sick, absolution, marriage, etc., whatever they may be. Generally, however, things are things which biblical teaching addresses *explicitly*, which means that you are saying that the areas where the major divisions within Christendom differ are areas which the biblical teaching addresses explicitly. But, you seem to be maintaining, Christendom is essentially united on “pertinent constructs of being and knowledge and so on,” which, so far as I can tell, the bible does not address in any systematic or explicit manner. The upshot of what you are saying is that Christians as a whole (however many there may be) all agree on things that are not explicitly delineated in the bible’s own teachings, but divided on the areas where the bible does provide explicit teachings. That’s a most odd if not dubious position for a Christian to be defending. Am I misunderstanding you in some fundamental way?

[continued…]

November 06, 2012 2:19 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You say that “With regard to the matter before us [would that have anything to do with your claim that “Rand never properly understood Christian epistemology”?], these are of secondary importance, the incidental differences of psychology.”

This statement appears to stem from pains to downplay the reality of the myriad divisions within Christianity and reduce them to trifling expressions of competing “psychological” phenomena. And yet the divisions within Christendom are very real and profoundly divisive. It’s curious how essential unanimity on “pertinent constructs of being and knowledge and so on” could “give rise” (a favorite apologetic term) to the kinds of festering divisions which have fractured Christianity since its inception, especially if those divisions are ultimately merely “psychological” in nature. Naturally Christians will chalk this up to “sin,” blaming the nature of man qua man, which, on the other hand, we are told was created by a perfect creator, a creator incapable of creating perfection. So a dubious outcome of doctrine is followed up by an even more dubious assertion. You see, Michael, why it has become more and more difficult, and unlikely, to convince rational individuals of your religion’s problem-riddled claims to truth?

[continued…]

November 06, 2012 2:21 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You say that “the level of the orthodox believer's theological sophistication is a matter of concern as well . . . but, ultimately, that's a matter of the ongoing processes of ‘concept-formation’ or ‘-refinement’."

How on earth could anyone who understands the objective nature of concepts think that “the level of the orthodox believer’s theological sophistication” is *ultimately* “a matter of the ongoing process of ‘concept-formation’”? Do you know what concept-formation is? It has nothing to do with “theological sophistication,” and since concepts are rightly formed on the basis of *objective input*, it could have nothing to do with promoting or increasing a Christian believer’s “theological sophistication.” Theology is ultimately an attempt to camouflage a mystical worldview’s basis in stolen concepts, floating abstractions, rationalistic deductions, context-denying speculations, and other anti-intellectual vices. Theology is essentially a fake environment intended to keep the believer distracted from the fundamentals which threaten to unseat his mystical presuppositions and expose their folly. The chief reason why there is no substantive discourse in the bible on the nature of imagination and its crucial epistemological distinction from rational identification of the inputs provided by perceptual awareness, is that doing so would give away the game. Such a discourse would be counter to the designs of the biblical devotional program, a program whose architecture is specially geared toward undermining the believer’s confidence in his own intellect, his own judgment, his own identity as a thinking individual worthy of pursuing the very task of thinking. Just by accepting the Christian worldview’s key initial premises (which include the “sinner” complex – “I’m a depraved reprobate deserving of eternal wrath”), the believer has already predisposed his mind against itself. Using fear to inspire imaginations which conjure phantasmic threats against one’s own soul, is an indispensable aspect of the Christian devotional program’s means of breaking the believer’s spirit. Someone out defending Christianity is either one who has already surrendered his spirit to such a program, or who is in the process of doing so. Which category any particular apologist finds himself in, really matters not.

Meanwhile, his eternal hopes are set on the promise that his god will forego justice on his behalf and give him a free pass, excusing him of the guilt and shame which he has accepted on his own behalf of himself. His hopes are set on justice being suspended, at least in his case. For if justice is not suspended in his case (what he euphemistically calls “mercy”), his worldview tells him that he deserves eternal punishment. Only by a supernatural consciousness deciding to thwart justice, is the believer going to enjoy reprieve from the eternal torment he imagines awaits some after death.

So again, Michael, in spite of your efforts to advertise yourself as “well-read in the history of ideas and events, an experienced student of conceptual and mathematical logic, philosophy, theology and science,” I must say I’m finding your statements rather thin on substance and inflated on ignoring crucial issues.

[continued…]

November 06, 2012 2:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

In your “bare-bone summation,” you wrote: “Judeo-Christian orthodoxy holds that being consists of the necessarily transcendent and the contingently immanent.”

More concerns here:

1. This suggests that, on what you call “Judeo-Christian orthodoxy,” being as such is not an irreducible primary; it “consists” of something more fundamental to it. And yet, do these more fundamental constituents of “being” themselves exist? Do they have “being” as well? The position you’ve presented seems unavoidably to invite an infinite regress. Why not simply begin with existence as an irreducible primary, and go from there?

2. The “necessarily transcendent” *what*? The “contingently immanent” *what*? These questions are not anticipated in what you say, and nothing that you do say sheds any light on what one is expected to understand them to mean. They seem to denote nothing specific, nothing that can be observed directly, nothing whose asserted existence is objectively verifiable.

3. Also (and this is very important), how would one discover that “being consists of the necessary transcendent and the contingently immanent”? What is the epistemological process, step by step, by which one could come to such an understanding of “being”? What is the starting point from which one would begin the process of discovering this?

4. The view you have put into the mouth of “Judeo-Christian orthodoxy” (you cite no biblical passages to authenticate any of what you have attributed to an essentialized Christianity) indicates that this set of doctrines inherently assumes the necessary-contingent dichotomy, which has already been shown to be a false dichotomy (since it trades on a false understanding of concepts). So on these grounds alone it should be rejected.

5. Your words suggest that “Judeo-Christian orthodoxy” is monolithic in its fundamentals, which vies entirely against what I have observed among those professing “orthodoxy.” I have found within Christianity myriad conflicts, disputes, disagreements, incongruities, inconsistencies, internecine rivalries, etc., many lasting centuries if not longer, with every attempt to resolve them encountering critical resistance and often leading to deeper conflicts. Where Christians are unanimously united is in their rejection of objective reality, reason, rational self-interest in ethics, individual rights in politics, etc. Beyond these uniting negations, Christians differ on the positives. One believer will say that logic is created, another says it is not created. One will say that the doctrine of the trinity is not a puzzling mystery whose labyrinthine complexities will never be understood, while others confess that it will probably never be understood, even in the afterlife. Some say that the divine has an earthly representative in the person of the pope (hardly a matter of “psychology” or a mere “sacrament”), while others reject this idea and all its adjunct flourishes completely. Luther’s 95 theses are not all reducible to psychological predilections or differences in sacramental expressions!

6. Where exactly is the definitive source on “Judeo-Christian orthodoxy” and where does it affirm that “being consists of the necessarily transcendent and the contingently immanent”? I’ve never read this in the bible, for instance.

[continued…]

November 06, 2012 2:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “Man, in his current state, is both a spiritual and material creature. He's comprised of spirit, mind (or soul) and body.”

Rand accurately summarized the mystical view of man which Christianity inherited from earlier forms of religion and subsequently developed when she wrote:

“They have taught man that he is a hopeless misfit made of two elements, both symbols of death. A body without a soul is a corpse, a soul without a body is a ghost—yet such is their image of man’s nature: the battleground of a struggle between a corpse and a ghost, a corpse endowed with some evil volition of its own and a ghost endowed with the knowledge that everything known to man is non-existent, that only the unknowable exists.” (“Galt’s Speech,” For the New Intellectual, p. 138)

You wrote: “As for the immediate concerns of this world, he's a creature of rational and sensory perception.”

The existence of man’s rational faculties are undeniable, even for mystics who seek to downplay or undermine their role in cognition. Only the consistently mystical end up committing mass suicide. But Christians try to have it both ways. They want their mysticism, and they want what it contradicts, too.

But man’s concerns are not merely “immediate.” They are also long-term. But his *rational* concerns are constrained to the reality in which he actually lives. Concerns about some *imagined* “afterlife” are not *rational* concerns. Such concerns are based on a fiction. Religion involves the attempt to get thinkers to accept this fiction as a reality, and essential to this task is the blurring of the distinction between what is real and what is imaginary. This is where biblical allegory finds its highest purpose.

If, however, it is conceded that man’s mental faculties are inherently rational in nature (and of course, this fundamentally involves his ability to perceive things in the world in which he exists by sensory means), then any “beliefs” he forms will have to cohere with the nature of his mental faculties if they are to be rational. But how does any form of theism meet this demand? It does not. It cannot.

Put another way, if the theist concede that the primacy of existence in fact holds at least in the case of man’s consciousness, then he must admit that man’s epistemology must operate in a manner consistent with the primacy of existence. It would not be rationally feasible to say on the one hand that, yes, the primacy of existence obtains in the case of human consciousness, but then on the other hand proceed as though his epistemological formulations could enjoy the primacy of consciousness. One’s epistemology must be consistent with his metaphysics. But we find that theists cannot maintain both their theism and an epistemology that is consistent with the primacy of existence, since theism violates the primacy of existence (as I have shown here).

[continued…]

November 06, 2012 2:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “Hence, orthodoxy has always rejected the various historical formulations of the rationalist-empiricist dichotomy.”

Which I find to be a most curious statement, coming from someone who has made at least some effort to posture himself as a credible thinker on these matters. If we accept what is stated here as historically factual, how do we explain thinkers like Gordon H. Clark who claimed to represent orthodox Christianity and yet whose philosophical writings consistently indicate an overtly pronounced devotion to a rationalistic system?

You wrote: “Instead, it holds to a synthesis of the two, albeit, contingent to the guidance of divine revelation.”

Again, several concerns:

1. Where does any Christian-authoritative source (if not the bible) endorse “a synthesis” of rationalism and empiricism? Where does any Christian authoritative source attempt to strike a compromise between the two horns of this false alternative?

2. What exactly does an attempt to blend two horns of a false alternative into a cohesive whole look like (aside from the added complication of deferring to “the guidance of divine revelation”)?

3. Why is there no concern here for objectivity?

4. Why is there no concern expressed here for the nature of man’s mind and the general manner in which it operates?

5. Why, if “contingent to the guidance of divine revelation” is a legitimate constraint within which this “synthesis” of two jointly opposing alternatives are supposed to function together, is this qualification introduced with the disclaimer “albeit”? If “the guidance of divine revelation” is necessary to the proper operation of the faculty seeking to straddle such a dichotomy, why is it treated in such a provisional manner as this? Why isn’t the relevance of the latter to the former explained? Indeed, what is the relevance to the latter?

You wrote: “Hence, the orthodox Christian rejects rationalism and empiricism proper; he also rejects philosophical skepticism, subjectivism relativism, nihilism and so on. . . .”

Why, then, is rejection – indeed, vehement rejection – of Objectivism the consistent report among Christians, whether orthodox, fundamentalist, or otherwise?

You wrote: “As Rand would put it, existence subsists! Form is reality. It's substance has primacy over human consciousness.”

Where did Rand ever make the statements you attribute to her here? Ydemoc posed this very question. If you’re going to characterize a person’s position, you should make some effort to get it right. You seem at best to have a most peripheral familiarity with what her philosophy teaches.

[continued…]

November 06, 2012 2:23 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “As for the allegation of splitting hairs. That's nonsensical. By definition the substance of the creature is contingent to that of the Creator.”

My “splitting hairs” point was made in reference to your statement that “Christianity does not hold that finite consciousness has primacy over reality.” Your qualifier “finite” here implies that you believe there is such a thing as an “infinite” consciousness, and in the context of your statement it is sufficient to meant that you are affirming that while “finite consciousness” does not enjoy primacy over existence, an “infinite consciousness” does. When I point out that this ultimately amounts to an affirmation of the primacy of consciousness in spite of such hedging qualifications, this is not nonsensical, since it is intended to draw attention to the broader fact that you are still trying to reserve room for the primacy of consciousness in your philosophical outlook, namely in the imaginative figment of your god. Attempting to shore up this problem with some “definition” which is in itself borne on arbitrary notions (e.g., the “creator-creature distinction”) does not make the primacy of consciousness inherent in theism go away. It’s still there as an integral part of the grand backdrop of the theistic worldview. There’s no way to outrun this, Michael. But meanwhile, if you grant that human consciousness is a species of “finite consciousness,” then we’re back to the razor which I explained above: your epistemology will need to be consistent with the primacy of existence, and so far no theist has shown how he can affirm theism in a manner that is consistent with the primacy of existence. You might check out Anton Thorn’s paper How the Claim “God Exists” Contradicts Itself.

You wrote: “Objectively speaking, as I have no interest in proving God's existence to anyone, if we allow for the moment that reality consists of both the necessarily transcendent and the contingently immanent, the former necessarily has primacy over the latter.”

But why would we “allow” this? Reality is not what we “allow” it to be. Reality is what it is independent of anything we think, believe, imagine, speculate, etc. In one of my earlier replies to you, I have already raised several objections against dividing reality into two opposing alternatives. There is nothing “objective” which justifies such a needless bifurcation. Existence exists. We either acknowledge this fact and grasp its implications for our epistemology, or we seek to evade it. Take your pick.

You wrote: “There's no disassembling in that observation whatsoever. Assuming the premise, the conclusion is sound. The opposite contention would be irrational.”

Sure, Michael. If we assume a faulty premise, we should not be surprised when we wind up with faulty conclusions. If I assume that the universe is analogous to a cartoon, I should come away with the conclusion that it is the artifact of a master cartoonist. But why suppose that the universe is analogous to a cartoon in the first place? Here’s where your theism blanks out.

Regards,
Dawson

November 06, 2012 2:23 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

http://tpophilosophy.blogspot.com/

Welcome.

November 06, 2012 5:33 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

While you’re still working on my initial questions about “Christian epistemology” and how you think Rand “never properly understood” it, I wanted to examine the last of your recent messages.

You wrote: “As for faith, it has nothing to do with the recognition of the dichotomy of transcendence-immanence, spirit-matter or necessary-contingent with regard to the issue of origin, or with the concomitant distinctions between the subjective and the objective, the a priori and a posteriori, the rational and the empirical or between metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism. . . .”

Several questions come to mind here:

1. How can we know that faith has nothing to do with the “recognition” you describe here? The dichotomy which you mention here is not something we observe in nature, but is in fact a result of accepting a long string of questionable premises underlying it. What is the mechanism by which one accepts these premises if not faith?

2. If not “by faith,” by what means does one “recognize” the “dichotomy of transcendence-immanence”? You have to tell me, because I have no awareness of such a dichotomy inherent in reality, so I would urge you to identify the means by which you have awareness of it, if in fact you are claiming to have awareness of such an animal (which I’m guessing you do, since you affirm “the recognition” of it in this passage of your comment and elsewhere).

3. The Christian bible endorses faith as some kind of something or another. If faith “has nothing to do with the recognition of transcendence-immanence” etc., what does it have to do with? What do you think faith is, and how does it work? What do you use it for? What role does it play in your worldview?

[continued…]

November 07, 2012 4:01 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “And the conclusion that God is or must be, based on certain ontological and teleological considerations, is in no way, shape or form an unreasonable foundation from which one may inquire further.”

It is unreasonable if it cannot withstand rational scrutiny. And I don’t think it can. Rest assured, however, I am happy to explore this, as I have over the years.

Some curious points here:

1. You categorize “that God is or must be” as a *conclusion*. This can only mean that it is *not* a starting point. One does not start with conclusions; one reasons *to* conclusions from premises, i.e., from more fundamental knowledge. So this is important to note.

2. Your statement suggests that this conclusion is “based on certain ontological and teleological considerations.” You have already stated that you “have no interest in proving God's existence to anyone.” But it seems that if you had confidence in these ontological and teleological considerations on which the conclusion that “God is or must be” is supposedly based, you’d be more willing, perhaps even eager, to share what you know. If you have confidence that something is the case, and you actively seek out engagement with people who you already know do not share your confidence, why not try to inform and enlighten? What little you’ve offered so far in this regard (dichotomizing “being” into mutually exclusive categories of “the necessarily transcendent” and “the contingently immanent”), Objectivism defeats with both hands tied behind its back. So hopefully there’s something better than this to recommend your position, no?

3. Regarding “ontological… considerations,” the issue ultimately comes down to metaphysical primacy. Does existence exist independent of consciousness, or does existence depend on consciousness? Does wishing make it so, or is something the case regardless of what someone wishes? Is reality what it is independent of what a person imagines, or does imagination conform to imagination? These are ontological questions since it has to do with the relationship between consciousness and reality, and thus they point to issues which must be understood explicitly before running off half-cocked with arbitrary, imagination-infused notions of “being” “consisting” of some very highfalutin notions that would take pages and pages of theory-laden text to explain, even to the initiated! Remember that you opened your second spree of comments with the question “the matter is complex, isn't it?” Ultimately, I would disagree. I think the matter is very simple: either existence exists independent of consciousness, or it doesn’t. Your attempt to divide the concept ‘consciousness’ into two contradictory halves (“finite” vs. “infinite” consciousness) tells me that you are not willing to tackle this question head on. Why not? What are you trying to hide?

[continued…]

November 07, 2012 4:02 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

4. As for “teleological concerns,” you need to clarify what you mean by this. By “teleological” do you mean goal-orientedness? If so, that puts the matter squarely on biology, for only biological organisms are capable of goal-oriented action. And since the Christian god could not be a biological organism (given the descriptions which Christians have attributed to it), goal-orientedness could not be possible for the Christian god. Given the claims that it is eternal, immortal, indestructible and in need of nothing, it would have no purpose to act on behalf of, no reason to act, and no goal to strive for. Goal-orientedness would be as foreign to the Christian god as battery-operated go-carts are to jellyfish.

On the other hand, if by “teleological” you have in mind “design,” especially in the context of the claim that the universe was “designed” by some extra-universal consciousness, there is no objective evidence that the universe was designed by some form or act of consciousness. Of course, we can *imagine* that an extra-universal consciousness designed it, and we can even *imagine* an extra-universal consciousness. But that puts us into the arena of imagination, not the arena of fact; it puts us in the arena of fiction, not the arena of reality. As I mentioned earlier, we can imagine that the universe is analogous to a cartoon and therefore that its existence points to a supernatural cartoonist. But Objectivism tells us without a shadow of a doubt that there is a fundamental distinction between imagination and reality.

So even without knowing the specifics of your “considerations,” I suspect they need some serious review.

[continued…]

November 07, 2012 4:03 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “Simply put: the potentiality of God's existence resides at the base of knowledge, not as a proof, but as an undeniable possibility . . . one that is not subject to scientific falsification, no more than the methodological naturalist's a priori is subject to scientific falsification.”

I’m reminded of Porter, who writes “anybody can deny the validity of ‘God’, but nobody can deny the validity of ‘existence’” (Ayn Rand’s Theory of Knowledge, p. 176). And I certainly do deny the “possibility” that a god exists. The truth of the primacy of existence will not allow otherwise. One would have to ignore the fact that wishing doesn’t make it so in order to entertain the notion that “God exists” is a real possibility. I’m simply too honest to the facts to do this. Michael, do you object to my honesty?

That the alleged “potentiality of God’s existence” is, in your words, a “potentiality” that is “not subject to scientific falsification” does bode well on the theist’s behalf. On the contrary, given the theist’s stipulations that his god is beyond the reach of man’s perceptual awareness (which makes the matter of “God’s existence” necessarily a matter of inference, at best), it suggests that it is in need of special anaesthetization from scientific processes which would otherwise call this “potentiality” into doubt. In other words, just by saying that it is “not subject to scientific falsification” raises the suspicion that it is not compatible with known scientific facts. Attempting to partner this dubitable situation with “the methodological naturalist’s a priori” accomplishes nothing. Any claim to “a priori” knowledge, whether on behalf of “the methodological naturalist” or anyone else, provides no cause for comfort, for such a notion constitutes an attempt to evade the norms of objectivity in knowledge.

You wrote: “And yes, Judeo-Christian orthodoxy most certain does have a definitive set of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and aesthetics, derived directly from the Bible and expounded in a mountainous, centuries-old tradition of theology.”

I’m not interested in, nor do I have time for, “mountainous” tomes of tradition or theology. Let’s cut to the chase. What does the epistemology of Judeo-Christian orthodoxy which is “derived directly from the bible” have to say about the nature of concepts? What is a concept, according to the bible? How is a concept formed, according to the bible? To what exactly does a concept refer, according to the bible? Feel free to use first-level conceptual examples, like ‘ball’ or ‘chair’ or ‘length’ to explain your point. Don’t forget to incorporate biblical verses to authenticate your claim that the epistemological points you present are bible-authentic.

[continued…]

November 07, 2012 4:03 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “As for the realization of faith proper and prayer and the like, well, the only reasonable basis for these, in my opinion, would be a direct revelation from the Creator in some form or another.”

By “a direct revelation from the Creator in some form or another,” I would think that this would be tantamount to something quite distinct from what we have in the bible. At best, Christians could claim that the *writers who penned the bible* enjoyed “direct revelation” from its alleged supernatural author. For anyone else, it would be secondhand information, essentially no different from hearsay, and certainly not “direct revelation.” When I read passages from the OT or NT, for instance, I am not receiving “direct revelation” from a supernatural source. On the contrary, I’m reading text penned by human beings that has been translated by human beings intervening me and those who originally penned it. There is a long chain of human interaction between me and the persons who actually put the original words to paper, whoever they might have been, whatever those words might have affirmed. I don’t see how anyone else living in recent centuries could feasibly claim to be in any kind of different situation from me. Even Thomas Paine, in the later eighteenth century, made this point (cf. his The Age of Reason). It has not changed since his day.

You wrote: “Oh, just noticed this. The modifier ‘revealed’ asserts a syllogistic premise for consideration, qualifying the noun "religion." By definition, a divinely revealed religion would not be the stuff of mere ‘imagination’."

By *what* “definition” would a religion claimed to have been “divinely revealed… not be the stuff of mere ‘imagination’”? Really, please, spell out this definition, and identify the concept to which this proposed definition allegedly belongs.

If a person tells me that some claim X has been “divinely revealed” to him, how can I as the person he wants to accept it as truth distinguish what he claims from something he may merely be imagining? Anyone can claim that something he believes has been “divinely revealed” to him. Similarly anyone can claim that something he has *imagined* is something that has been “divinely revealed” to him.

Again, Michael, I continue to find that you are in stark need of bringing your “presuppositions” to the surface so that they can be identified, understood, and examined. But so often you appear to have the habit of keeping your key premises submerged in the murkiness of philobabble. I’m willing to grant that this is not your intention, but rather the consequence of a very bad habit you’ve picked up from the sources that you digest regularly with relish.

I ask that you make a greater effort to identify the fundamentals which underwrite your assertions and then show how they support the assertions that you do make.

Regards,
Dawson

November 07, 2012 4:03 AM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Do you appreciate the necessity of defining terms, Bahnsen?

When I say, "perhaps you will allow," I'm using an idiom that in this instance is asking you to trust me for the moment with regard to the pertinent theological matters of orthodoxy for the sake of exegesis. You did, after all, ask me to explain the biblical basis for the Christian epistemology. Right?

All I'm really saying is that I'm not your average laymen, but a learned believer.

LOL! Do you always quibble like this?

Look, I already know that you don't believe that God exists. I know that you don't believe in the actuality of certain premises. That's all you're really saying.

I'm not asking you to accept their actuality. I’m asking you to understand them so that you may follow the Christian's reasoning from the premises that he does believe to be substantial . . . for reasons that I haven't even touched on yet.

So how could you possibly be refuting those kinds of things?

Make no mistake about it, your lack of belief in certain things does not impinge upon the logic of my syllogisms in and of themselves. That's not relevant to the objective process of defining terms.

The conclusions are sound.

Your charges of irrationality are baseless.

At this point, were you or were you not asking me to account for the epistemology of the Bible?

The fundamental academics, Bahnsen, or ontological actualities?

Which is it? Your shifting the discussion without notice.

The actuality of the premises is an entirely different matter altogether, one that we are hardly in a position to address until we're on the same page. I have a working knowledge of Objectivism, you don't appear to have a working knowledge of Christianity.

If you're not interested in defining terms that we may establish a mutual ground of understanding for the sake of objectivity than what's the point of discussing any this?

I mean, it's okay with me if you don't want to do that.

It's your blog. Your rules. I wouldn't dream of imposing. After all, it's safe to assume that we're both proponents of laissez-faire, speaking for myself and given that you're an Objectivist.

Continued. . . .

November 07, 2012 6:12 AM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Btw, I'm well-acquainted with what I call the material-consciousness primacy argument. It's asinine, a straw man, nothing more. It certainly does not apply to the metaphysics of Judeo-Christianity.

There's a classic, centuries-old argument that is akin to it, one that is far superior, one that stems from the problem of evil and/or the problem of free will in the face of omnificence. But, let's put that aside for the moment.

Bahnsen, why are you rehashing the Objectivist's position with me? Obviously, I know what his position is. That's the whole point of isolating the instance at which Objectivism and Judeo-Christianity agree--what you keep nonsensically referring to as an instance of dissembling.

Clearly, the Christian would not agree with the statement that existence has primacy over sentience; he would, however, agree with the statement that existence has primacy over finite sentience.

And the Objectivist can readily agree with the statement that finite sentience does not have primacy over existence, though of course he has something more in mind as well given the fact that he believes that existence does not extend beyond the empirical.

Nevertheless, that is the nexus at which the two systems of thought converge. Hence, this is the reason that both Judeo-Christianity and Objectivism reject relativism, subjectivism and philosophical skepticism.

That is self-evident, beyond dispute.

Why does that simple, straight-forward observation have to be made more than once?

If we are to rightly understand one another, it's necessary to establish that fact for reasons that you don't fully appreciate at this point because you apparently think that Christianity either (1) holds to the straw-man premise of the material-consciousness argument, which it does not, or (2) can be overthrown by some other argument.

Either way, you're dead wrong.

As for the other tangent that you prematurely went off on. . . .

I merely spoke of a direct revelation, nothing more in that regard, and stated a tautology: by definition a divine revelation would not be the stuff of human imagination; it would be a divine revelation. Period. Whether this direct revelation were given to a thousand or a hundred or to just a few, it would still be a divine revelation regardless of what others might think or say about the claim of its receivers. Neither it's nature nor the actuality of its existence would be changed one iota by the contrary belief of others. Their personal or subject conviction would be irrelevant to the fact. And neither one of the factions would be beholden in any way, shape or form to the other.

I have no interest in proving the Christian God's existence to anyone or proving that the Bible is a direct revelation from Him. That's silly. Each person will decide what he will or will not believe for himself.

My only interest here is to expose certain logical fallacies for what they are and correct certain misapprehensions about what Christianity actually teaches as opposed to the straw men routinely attributed to it by some.



November 07, 2012 8:31 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

Again you come back to me. I must have something you want.

You asked: “Do you appreciate the necessity of defining terms, Bahnsen?”

Yes, I do appreciate this, Michael. You had indicated that you have been reading my blog for some time prior to commenting. If that is true, you will have seen in many of my blog entries that I am careful with definitions.

You wrote: “When I say, ‘perhaps you will allow’, I'm using an idiom that in this instance is asking you to trust me for the moment with regard to the pertinent theological matters of orthodoxy for the sake of exegesis.”

I have no problem with this, Michael. I simply don’t think it’s relevant when a commenter states early in the discussion something like “perhaps you'll allow that I'm well-read in the history of ideas and events, an experienced student of conceptual and mathematical logic, philosophy, theology and science.” It does the discussion no good to say “I’ve read a lot of books on these and those topics.” It does nothing to inform the relevant content of the discussion. It really deserves little more than the old “So what?”

You asked: “You did, after all, ask me to explain the biblical basis for the Christian epistemology. Right?”

Actually, I asked you to explain what “Christian epistemology” *is*, how it works, what it does, etc. I can already suspect what you will say its *basis* is. I want to know what this “epistemology” looks like.

You wrote: “All I'm really saying is that I'm not your average laymen, but a learned believer.”

Like so many before you, Michael. As one poet once put it, “I’ve known you all my life.”

You wrote: “LOL! Do you always quibble like this?”

Like what? I didn’t realize that I was quibbling.

[continued…]

November 07, 2012 2:40 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “Look, I already know that you don't believe that God exists. I know that you don't believe in the actuality of certain premises. That's all you're really saying.”

Well, no, that’s not true. I don’t think I’ve stated in my discussion with you that “I don’t believe God exists.” Perhaps you should go back and re-read my responses to you if you think this is all I’ve said.

You wrote: “Make no mistake about it, your lack of belief in certain things does not impinge upon the logic of my syllogisms in and of themselves. That's not relevant to the objective process of defining terms.”

Of course, I would never make a mistake about something like this. But also recognize that logic by itself is philosophically inert – logic needs content, it needs facts, it needs input from reality. That is what I’m focused on, Michael – the *content* of your arguments: what are they, where did they come from, what justifies them? Syllogisms whose premises are simply arbitrary fantasies can be fashioned to appear formally logical. But they simply lead to more arbitrary conclusions. So hopefully you can appreciate my angle on this as well, that we cannot simply manufacture “truth” from imagination. So when you say “the conclusions are sound,” I can only wonder where you think you got your syllogisms’ content. This is what you would need to explain if you want to persuade me that they are sound. You’ve gotten my attention. Now what are you going to do with it?

You wrote: “Your charges of irrationality are baseless.”

Your charges that my charges of irrationality are baseless, are baseless. See, Michael, I can do it too. You need more than simply to stipulate your way to your conclusions. You need content to inform them.

[continued…]

November 07, 2012 2:41 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “At this point, were you or were you not asking me to account for the epistemology of the Bible?”

I do not believe I used the phrasal verb “account for” in my questions about your statements regarding “Christian epistemology.” Here are my questions again:

[SNIP]
1. Just what exactly *is* “Christian epistemology”? Where can it be found? What does it teach? What does it say knowledge is? What does it say about concepts? What is the process which “Christian epistemology” endorses, and how does it work?

2. Who “properly” understands what you call “Christian epistemology”? There are hundreds if not thousands of different (and often opposing) versions of Christianity as such. For a Christian to say that he understands “Christian epistemology” (as though there were such a thing) means that he is saying that other professing Christians do not understand it.

3. Where precisely does Rand speak on “Christian epistemology,” and how exactly does she get it wrong?
[SNIP]


If you prefer, think of it this way. When you affirm something called “Christian epistemology,” Michael, I’m looking for two general things:

First, I want to know what qualifies what you’re calling “epistemology” as epistemology to begin with. That is what several of my questions are aimed at teasing out. What does it teach? What does it say knowledge is? What does it say about concepts? What is its process? How does it work? Some case examples demonstrating how “Christian epistemology” operates would be most helpful here.

Second, I want to know what makes what you’re calling “epistemology” distinctively Christian. If you address my questions by saying something like “we use reason to identify and integrate what we perceive, and concepts are the form in which we do this; concepts are formed by a process of abstraction involving measurement-omission based initially on integrating two or more units, etc.,” there’s nothing distinctively Christian here, and since there’s nothing in the bible that talks about any of this stuff, it would appear that you’d be borrowing from non-Christian sources and simply slapping the label “Christian” on it to claim it on behalf of Christendom. You should be concerned to avoid this if what you have in mind is in fact distinctively Christian.

So before we even start discussing the *basis* of what you call “Christian epistemology,” we should get on the table before us a good idea of what it is you’re calling “Christian epistemology.” I don’t think this is an unreasonable request for me to pose to you. Do you?

[continued…]

November 07, 2012 2:41 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “The fundamental academics, Bahnsen, or ontological actualities? Which is it? Your shifting the discussion without notice.”

How can I be shifting the discussion without notice, Michael? I’m exploring your comments and allowing you to take the lead. But since you seem to think there is such a thing as “Christian epistemology,” I want to know more about it. I’ve asked numerous Christians who have used this term, and they quite typically come back empty-handed. I’m allowing (as you prefer to say) that you have something to say about it. So please, don’t get sore at me. I could just put you on ignore. But I’m not. I’m engaging you. This means you have an opportunity here. It’s up to you what you do with that opportunity.

You wrote: “The actuality of the premises is an entirely different matter altogether, one that we are hardly in a position to address until we're on the same page.”

Then help me get on the same page with you, Michael. Explain what you mean by “Christian epistemology.” Start there. That is where you started the discussion, with your unexplained and unargued declaration that “Rand never properly understood Christian epistemology.” I take it that you believe that you do proper understand it. That’s good, if that’s true. And if it’s true, you should be able to help me get on the same page with you on this initial point.

You wrote: “I have a working knowledge of Objectivism, you don't appear to have a working knowledge of Christianity.”

Michael, when you make statements like “As Rand would put it, existence subsists! Form is reality. It's substance has primacy over human consciousness,” you give away that you really do not have a very good understanding of Objectivism. But perhaps this was just a brainfart moment for you. If so, you still have the opportunity to demonstrate your familiarity. So far, you haven’t made it to first base on this point yet.

As for my knowledge of Christianity, I am quite accustomed to defenders of Christianity telling me “You don’t understand!” when I disagree with or criticize something they say. And yet, they never do seem to show this kind of reaction to be anything more of a psychological defense mechanism. You will allow that I’ve done my share of reading as well, right Michael? Also, don’t forget I was raised in a culture infused with Christian influences, and that I was a Christian myself for a period in my life. So the “You don’t understand Christianity” thing seems rather reaching at this point. Besides, the bible itself at many points makes it clear that *belief* is far more important than “understanding.” Believers are expected to believe whether they understand or not.

But perhaps you’re right. Perhaps I simply don’t understand it. So please, take this opportunity to address my questions. You see, Michael, I’m extending you the opportunity to help me understand. Why not use this opportunity to help enlighten me rather than express resentment?

[continued…]

November 07, 2012 2:41 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “If you're not interested in defining terms that we may establish a mutual ground of understanding for the sake of objectivity than what's the point of discussing any this?”

Michael, if you’ve done any reading of my blog and of the Objectivist literature, you will find great care when it comes to making definitions clear and explicit. What terms do you think I’m uninterested in defining? If you think I need to define some terms I’ve been using, just ask me to define them. “Dawson, what do you mean by X?” I’m happy to help you understand as well.

You wrote: “Btw, I'm well-acquainted with what I call the material-consciousness primacy argument. It's asinine, a straw man, nothing more. It certainly does not apply to the metaphysics of Judeo-Christianity.”

Okay, Michael, here’s a point where you should explain yourself. What is this argument that you call “the material-consciousness primacy argument”? Do you think that the label you’ve given it is sufficient to indicate what this argument is, what it hopes to establish, and the premises it enlists to establish it? I don’t, and I am careful not to presume to know what you are talking about. Perhaps other readers do know, but I doubt it. But you introduce this here without explanation, telling us how “well-acquainted” you are with it (and you very well may be – I’m not trying to take that away from you), and you do this right after complaining that I’m apparently not interested in defining terms!

You wrote: “There's a classic, centuries-old argument that is akin to it, one that is far superior, one that stems from the problem of evil and/or the problem of free will in the face of omnificence. But, let's put that aside for the moment.”

Again, you show a strange behavior pattern here, Michael. I’ve already made very clear that there are some open questions on the table regarding “Christian epistemology,” and you’re off introducing things like “the material-consciousness primacy argument” and “a classic, centuries-old argument that is akin to it,” and immediately after introducing it, you say “let’s put that aside for the moment.” And just earlier you accused me of “shifting the discussion without notice.” Where is it that you want to go with this discussion, Michael? It’s getting harder and harder to follow you, and hope is waning that there will be some kind of pay-off at the end. Why not go back to your initial claim and start informing it?

[continued…]

November 07, 2012 2:42 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “Bahnsen, why are you rehashing the Objectivist's position with me? Obviously, I know what his position is. That's the whole point of isolating the instance at which Objectivism and Judeo-Christianity agree--what you keep nonsensically referring to as an instance of dissembling.”

Michael, you seem to have me confused with someone else. I have nowhere referred to anything you’ve stated as “an instance of dissembling,” either sensibly or nonsensically. It is not a term I tend to use.

You wrote: “Clearly, the Christian would not agree with the statement that existence has primacy over sentience;”

Of course. Christianity assumes the primacy of consciousness. On Christianity’s conception, the universe is analogous to a cartoon, and controlling it is a master cartoonist.

You wrote: “he would, however, agree with the statement that existence has primacy over finite sentience.”

He may verbally affirm agreement here, but can he do so in a manner consistently with the entirety of the teachings of his worldview? I don’t think he can. What it amounts to is a duplicitous metaphysics resulting from the arbitrary dividing of the concept ‘consciousness’ into two contradictory alternatives, “finite” on the one hand and “infinite” on the other. There are no facts in reality which can justify such a move, and it results in a self-contradiction on the part of the notion of an “infinite consciousness.” If something exists, it is finite. There is no such thing as an actual infinite. It’s a contradiction in terms. But even if this is not accepted, the Christian has already made it clear that ultimately his worldview accepts the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, since “finite sentience” itself is not primary (it refers to man, and Christianity says that man is a creation of consciousness), while “infinite sentience” is primary (since it refers to the universe-creating, reality-ruling consciousness which Christians enshrine in their imaginations). So in the end, the Christian is not agreeing with Objectivism at all.

When we get to epistemology, we do find the primacy of consciousness functioning in what believer’s call “knowledge” of the supernatural. Since there is no objectivity to any of this religious talk, it is an attempt to misuse the human mind as though it were not constrained by the primacy of existence principle. Believers “just know” that their god exists. But that’s not how the human mind works. The mind does not “just know” anything. Anyone could claim that he “just knows” that something is the case, when in fact he’s simply not being honest to reality, beginning with the nature of his own consciousness.

[continued…]

November 07, 2012 2:42 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “And the Objectivist can readily agree with the statement that finite sentience does not have primacy over existence, though of course he has something more in mind as well given the fact that he believes that existence does not extend beyond the empirical.”

For one thing, I don’t know where Objectivism ever says that “existence does not extend beyond the empirical.” This is not something that I’ve ever read in any of the Objectivist literature on the topic, and it seems to violate the primacy of existence as such anyway (since it attempts to use conscious activity as a limiting factor on what existence could be). I’d have to explore that further, but it’s merely academic at this point. It is sufficient to point out here that this is not something Objectivism affirms.

Also, Objectivism does not accept the implications intended by the notion of “finite sentience,” since among those implications is the view that there is such a thing as an “infinite sentience,” and there’s no good reason to suppose this, and many good reasons to reject such a notion. But you said you had a working knowledge of Objectivism, so I’d think you’d have been able to spot this objection a mile away. Why is it catching you off-guard like this?

You wrote: “Nevertheless, that is the nexus at which the two systems of thought converge.”

Basically what you’re saying is that where Christianity and Objectivism “agree” is on the primacy of existence with regard to man’s consciousness. Of course, Objectivism holds that existence holds metaphysical primacy in regard to consciousness as such, and any species of consciousness, whether it is human consciousness, dog consciousness, cat consciousness, frog consciousness, shark consciousness, etc. We are wholly consistent with this. Christianity does not agree with this. At best, it holds that existence holds metaphysical primacy in some cases of consciousness, but not in other cases. Let’s also not forget Christianity’s teachings on angels and demons. Presumably these would need to be species of “finite sentience” (since it has been argued in some sources I’ve read that there could be only *one* “infinite sentience” – perhaps you disagree?), and yet these beings are imagined to enjoy primacy over existence – they can take over human minds, they can cause diseases, they can deceive, etc. So given this, it cannot be said that Christianity agrees that existence holds primacy in the case of “finite sentience.” Christianity is very choosy in whose consciousness enjoys primacy over existence, and this in itself is an expression of the primacy of consciousness at work in Christianity. A little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump, Michael.

You wrote: “Hence, this is the reason that both Judeo-Christianity and Objectivism reject relativism, subjectivism and philosophical skepticism.”

I have never read any Christian text which argues against relativism, subjectivism and philosophical skepticism on the basis of the primacy of existence, Michael. Can you point me to some sources which do?

You wrote: “That is self-evident, beyond dispute.”

Is it beyond you being able at least to support? Until you can support it, I see no reason why it is beyond dispute. It certainly is not self-evident, given various points in Christian doctrine that you seem to be overlooking.

You wrote: “Why does that simple, straight-forward observation have to be made more than once?”

It doesn’t need to be made more than once. You’re choosing to re-affirm something that’s already been shot down. I see no need to do this. You need to ask yourself your own question.

This will have to do for now. More later.

Regards,
Dawson

November 07, 2012 2:42 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

I wanted to pick up where I left off this morning.

You wrote: “As for the other tangent that you prematurely went off on. . . .”

Michael, I have to object here. You say that I “prematurely went off on” something that *you* introduced into the conversation. If you introduce something into the conversation, it becomes fair game for discussion. If you are not prepared to discuss something, you will be better off if you simply don’t bring it up. I reserve the right to examine *anything* a commenter says, just as you yourself do. So enough with the accusational tone here. It is only undermining your own credibility here.

You wrote: “I merely spoke of a direct revelation, nothing more in that regard, and stated a tautology: by definition a divine revelation would not be the stuff of human imagination; it would be a divine revelation. Period.”

Yes, I understand what you stated. But I disagree. Simply stipulating that something is the case “by definition” doesn’t do the trick. Merely asserting something doesn’t make it so, Michael. Surely you must understand this. That was the point I was trying to make. That is why I asked you to clarify what definition you had in mind, and which concept you think it belongs to.

Two important issues on this topic for me (now that it is a live topic, since you’ve introduced it into the discussion), are:

1. Is the notion of “divine revelation” an objectively warranted concept? and

2. How would one who claims to have received a divine revelation distinguish what he is calling “revelation” from something he may in fact only be imagining?

In the case of the first question, I would answer a resounding no: the notion of “divine revelation” has no basis in reality. It is itself an imagination-based construct. The very notion assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, and for this reason alone it is to be rejected. Christian metaphysics, as I have explained many times already, is saturated with blurring the distinction between reality and imagination. Indeed, isn’t it curious how apologetic defenses of theism never incorporate safeguards to make the distinction between reality and imagination explicit and observe it in the conclusions they are intended to secure?

In the case of the second question, the Christian has no reliable answer, for he himself has no reliable means of distinguishing between reality and imagination when it comes to his supernaturalism. The question of how one identifies some mental content of his as “divine revelation” never comes up in the bible, and it seems to get a complete pass in the apologetic literature. This is why I think my questions on “Christian epistemology” are so important to the discussion, Michael, for a “Christian epistemology” would at minimum need to provide guidelines for making such identifications (among many other things, of course). So for any Christian who thinks there is such a thing as “Christian epistemology” and believes that there is such a thing as “divine revelation,” it would behoove him to give this matter some serious consideration. Saying “I’ve read a lot of books” does nothing to inform the matter.

[continued…]

November 08, 2012 3:10 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “Whether this direct revelation were given to a thousand or a hundred or to just a few, it would still be a divine revelation regardless of what others might think or say about the claim of its receivers.”

And I’m not contending against this per se. My point was that this is not what we have in the case of the Christian bible, since its content was not revealed directly to either you or me. It is alleged to have been revealed to people living two, three or more thousand years ago. So whether or not you want to believe that its content was divinely revealed to persons living long ago in the past, it’s neither here nor there. It does us no good, epistemologically, since it comes to us *secondhand*. This reduces it to mere hearsay for you and me. This can only mean that appealing to divine revelation in the case of the bible is inadmissible as any kind of premise supporting further conclusions. You don’t have to like this, Michael. But it is the case.

You wrote: “Neither it's nature nor the actuality of its existence would be changed one iota by the contrary belief of others. Their personal or subject conviction would be irrelevant to the fact. And neither one of the factions would be beholden in any way, shape or form to the other.”

Two points for you to consider here:

1) You do know, do you not, that your claim here is an application of the primacy of existence, a principle which the Christian worldview cannot consistently embrace? Christianity posits a consciousness which can change facts at will and by will. And yet here you are affirming a position that cannot be changed by will or at will. As I’ve pointed out on my blog numerous times, Christianity is chock full of allegories and doctrines which assume the primacy of consciousness. Indeed, many apologists have insisted that the primacy of existence is false. Consider Dustin Segers for example. Naturally he got many of his facts wrong, but even after he was corrected on the matter, he continued to affirm his rejection of the primacy of existence. (For details, see here.) You have affirmed that Christianity is on cozy terms with the primacy of existence in regards to “finite sentience.” If that were so, why would an orthodox pastor like Dustin Segers campaign against the primacy of existence as he did? Blank out.

2) Given the content affirmed by Objectivism, I as an Objectivist can consistently apply the primacy of existence and point out that, if what a thinker believes is “divine revelation” is in fact his own imagination running away with itself and confusing its fantasies with reality, calling it “divine revelation” will not change this fact one iota.

[continued…]

November 08, 2012 3:11 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “I have no interest in proving the Christian God's existence to anyone or proving that the Bible is a direct revelation from Him. That's silly. Each person will decide what he will or will not believe for himself.”

So, just let me get this straight. It’s “silly” to try to prove that the Christian god exists? I really don’t know how else to read your comment here. William Lane Craig, Greg Bahnsen, Richard Swinburne, Phil Fernandes, Sye Ten Bruggencate, Eric Hovind, etc., etc., etc., are all therefore engaging in silliness when they try to prove that their god exists?

Don’t get me wrong. I happen to agree that it’s silly to try to prove that a god exists, but for different reasons – not only because there is no such thing as a god, but also because it would not serve the religionist’s purposes. Peikoff rightly points out that “a proof of God would be fatal to religion: a God susceptible of proof would have to be finite and limited; He would be one entity among others within the universe, not a mystic omnipotence transcending science and reality. What nourishes the spirit of religion is not proof, but faith, i.e., the undercutting of man's mind." (Leonard Peikoff, "'Maybe You're Wrong'," The Objectivist Forum, April 1981, p. 12)

[continued…]

November 08, 2012 3:11 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “My only interest here is to expose certain logical fallacies for what they are and correct certain misapprehensions about what Christianity actually teaches as opposed to the straw men routinely attributed to it by some.”

If you want to correct certain misapprehensions about what Christianity actually teaches, it seems you would have to buttress your corrections with references to the bible, for this is the primary source when it comes to what Christianity teaches. But I don’t see any scriptural references from you when you make your pronouncements. For instance, on the rationalist-empiricist dichotomy, you don’t show where the bible either offers rejection of it or remedy for it. A Christian apologist who never quotes the bible on philosophical matters. I have to say, I’m neither surprised nor impressed.

Now it is important to note that citing some theologian is not the same as citing the bible. Theologians are not authoritative in Christianity in the sense that the bible is, and theologians, especially those of recent centuries, have the added advantage of benefiting from discoveries in science, developments in philosophy and advancements in culture. So even if a theologian develops a position on some philosophical matter, he may very well be contaminating his religious worldview with secular influences. And for any theologian affirming support for one position (even yours), there will likely be hundreds if not more who differ with that view to one degree or another. The divisions within Christendom are virtually endless, and they are to be found in every quadrant. And even if this could be overcome, there’s still the question of whether or not the position a theologian affirms is in fact bible-authentic.

This is why I want to get back to your assertions about “Christian epistemology.” Specifically, I’m interested to see what the bible says about epistemology. Some defenders of orthodox Christianity have expressed doubt that an epistemology can be gleaned from the bible. I can produce quotes if you like. But if you cannot even connect your own statements about epistemology to what the bible says, it seems unnecessary to do this kind of digging.

As for “the straw men routinely attributed to [Christianity] by some,” you really cannot be talking about me here, Michael. Since I first started my blog back in March 2005, I have consistently and happily allowed defenders of Christianity to have their say on my blog. I do not censor any commenters, and I gladly let them have their say. I also interact with their views as they present them. It is my habit to cite sources in the interest of authenticating my characterization of their positions, and anyone is free to chime in here to correct their own statements or show mine to be wrong, as the case may be. You have not done this, Michael. Specifically, you have not brought any statement of mine to the table and shown how it misrepresents what it is intended to represent.

It may be the case that you would disagree with some of the apologists with whose work I have interacted (e.g., many clearly do not think it’s “silly” to try to prove the existence of a god, some insist that the primacy of existence is false, etc.). But this would amount to conflict that is *internal* to Christianity; it would not follow from such internecine conflicts that my position is wrong or that I have mischaracterized anything.

So if you’re going to accuse me of some fallacy or other indiscretion, you better be prepared to back it up with some substance. For I am wholly prepared to defend myself from such charges.

I’m guessing that you already know the value of doing one’s homework. Now that you are trying to engage me, it’s time for you to do some more.

Regards,
Dawson

November 08, 2012 3:11 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Dawson,


Said: "Like so many before you, Michael. As one poet once put it, “I’ve known you all my life.”"

Great line. I think I will add it to my list.

I think Michael is really just playing around. A lot of what he is saying is really funny.




http://tpophilosophy.blogspot.com/

November 08, 2012 9:07 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide,

Do you think it’s funny that Dustin Segers hasn’t posted one entry on his blog since I rolled out the last of my six-part series answering his presuppositionalism back in May of this year?

You can check out his blog here: Grace in the Triad

The guy has pretty much disappeared from the entire internet apologetics scene so far as I can tell. He gets answered comprehensively and – Poof! – he’s gone.

Do you think that’s funny?

Regards,
Dawson

November 08, 2012 2:33 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

*Sigh*

Richard,

I'm here because I thought this might be a good place to expand my understanding of Objectivism, as my wife and I recently befriended an Objectivist couple.

Also, intellectual adversity always serves to improve the understanding of one's own system of thought. At least that's true for me and many others I know.
____________________

And perhaps I've known you all my life too, Richard, assuming that you're displaying the sort of herd mentality that presupposes someone's incompetence, in this instance, based on a flourish of posts written by one of your fellows who is writing the sort of things one might expect. But I have yet to flesh out my ideas or answer the contents of Dawson's posts. You're conflating Dawson's premature allegations about a few generalities, feelers, really, nothing more, with a demonstration of my incompetence. That's an error in judgment.

Objectivity? Based on what?

November 08, 2012 2:45 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Dawson, you write: "I do not believe I used the phrasal verb 'account for' in my questions about your statements regarding 'Christian epistemology.' "

Followed by:

"Here are my questions again:

Just what exactly *is* ‘Christian epistemology‘? Where can it be found? What does it teach? What does it say knowledge is? What does it say about concepts? What is the process which ‘Christian epistemology’ endorses, and how does it work?"


You are asking me to account for it, and what have I told you so far?

Answer: The epistemology of Judeo-Christian orthodoxy is a rational-empirical construct.

And, in essence, what have I asked of you in this regard?

Answer: (1) Please, trust me, I have the expertise to address your concerns; but (2) let's lay that aside for now as the matter is complex, and I couldn't possibly do it justice at this point in our discussion as certain problems involving semantics and categorical distinctions haven't been mutually resolved.

You write: "I’m exploring your comments and allowing you to take the lead."

Yet you dismiss my statement of credentials as irrelevant and heedlessly press me once again about the Judeo-Christian epistemology.

You also write this: "But since you seem to think there is such a thing as 'Christian epistemology,' I want to know more about it. I’ve asked numerous Christians who have used this term, and they quite typically come back empty-handed."

I emphatically affirmed that "there is such a thing as 'Christian epistemology,' " Dawson. I know you want to know more about it.

Hold on! First things first.

You have yet to adequately appreciate what's behind my statement of credentials. From the experience that comes with my years of learning, I know that starting out with Judeo-Christianity's epistemology is not productive, and I see that this is particularly true when discussing it with an Objectivist, which is a novel, first-time experience for me.

I strongly suggest that we forego "[m]ore later" as seems to always be your wont until we have resolved the wrinkle implied by "finite sentience" or "consciousness" as it relates to my alleged nexus of agreement first. Clearly, this is the bone of contention that may in fact evince a mutual exclusivity of the two systems of thought even at that level . . . rather than an inherent contradiction in the metaphysics of Judeo-Christianity relative to its actual premise.

After that, it's logical to examine the Objectivist's claim that theism is inherently contradictory as allegedly extrapolated from the primacy of existence vs. the primacy of consciousness "argument"
(your terminology in order to avoid any more car wrecks over nothing). That would also involve a definitive annunciation of Judeo-Christianity's metaphysics.

Incidentally, what label does serve as an exegesis? It's a label!

After that, it's makes sense to discuss Judeo-Christianity's epistemology.

To that end, let me make just a few quick observations, as you seem to be under the impression that you can easily run roughshod over me. For it's you who has assumed way too much, writing volumes, several posts at a time, that amount to lectures about logic and concepts and methodology as if that were necessary.

November 08, 2012 2:54 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Dawson,

Who's nide? I'm Richard thanks.

No, Dawson, I'll tell you what's funny. Chris Bolt's claim that Sye restored his confidence in PA. Now, that's funny.

But it's good to hear you from bud.

Regards,
Richard.

November 08, 2012 2:58 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

You wrote: “I'm here because I thought this might be a good place to expand my understanding of Objectivism, as my wife and I recently befriended an Objectivist couple.”

I applaud your decision to want to learn more about Objectivism. But I would suggest that if your true intent when coming to my blog was to expand your understanding of Objectivism, it was an unwise choice to begin by announcing “Rand never properly understood Christian epistemology” and spouting other unargued opinions. I am more than happy to help you understand Objectivism, or engage your apologetics. But you should have some clarity in mind regarding your purpose. So far you have not made the impression that you’re here to learn about Objectivism, but rather to try to show that there’s some agreement between Christianity and Objectivism on the primacy of existence. This is clearly not the case, but you seem unwilling to accept it for some reason.

As for “Richard” (Nide), he is not among his “fellows” here at IP. He is a fly that wandered from his native dung heap looking for something more appetizing than the decaying carrion he gets elsewhere. He knows that it’s good here at IP, and better than anywhere else, so he sticks around. But he’s not from here.

Regards,
Dawson

November 08, 2012 3:01 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Michael,

Actually, we may be on the same team. I am a Christian and I am assuming you are too. Me, Dawson and his followers go way back. Please, no hard feelings.

It's easy Mike. If you want to refute the "realist", just ask them to give you a proof for the reality that they claim is "out there". Just watch out for the sparks. By the way, Nietzsche ripped the realist to little pieces a long time ago. Of course that's if you want to play on their own terms. We know there is a reality becsuse YHWH says there is a reality.


Blessings.

November 08, 2012 3:08 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Michael,

Don't mind Dawson's arrogance, pride and rudeness.
Deep down inside he's a sweetheart. He even told me that he cared about me some time ago. That lead to one of the most hilarious conversations ever.

Love in the savior,
Richard

November 08, 2012 4:13 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Statements like the following are not helpful:

"As for my knowledge of Christianity, I am quite accustomed to defenders of Christianity telling me 'You don’t understand!' when I disagree with or criticize something they say. And yet, they never do seem to show this kind of reaction to be anything more of a psychological defense mechanism."

But I never made that complaint as such. How could you possibly misunderstand me, let alone annihilate, as you claim, that which has not been definitively expounded by me? I won't tolerate being faulted for any lack of addressing your "101 Dalmatians" at this point prematurely, as if I could reasonably do so out of turn.

This is not helpful:

On Christianity's conception, the universe is analogous to a cartoon, and controlling it is a master cartoonist."

The burden of proof is on you, given that you must necessarily acknowledge the self-subsistent, objectivity of the God idea in your denial that there be any substance to it. And if waste my time with analogies comparing a potentiality of First Cause arising from the problem of origin with zombies and unicorns, my response will be a deafening silence.

Instead, I direct you to this piece: http://michaeldavidrawlings1.blogspot.com/2012/10/objectivism-uninspired-religion-of.html.

Scroll down to the portion where I discuss "the base of knowledge."


This is helpful:

"Also, Objectivism does not accept the implications intended by the notion of 'finite sentience,' since among those implications is the view that there is such a thing as an 'infinite sentience' . . ."

Assuming that's necessarily true in lieu of a better term or modifier, this is where we must begin. I attempted to settle the matter with that very "wrinkle" in mind, but I'm not married to it. Your allegation that I'm not cognizant of the tension or was "caught off guard" is false, just as the conclusion in your argument that the transcendent minds of the biblical narrative have primacy over existence is false--the latter being a non sequitur.

Forewarning: the Christian doesn't accept your rationally and empirically indemonstrable and, therefore, arbitrary dismissal of the existence of transcendence either. And please, don't suppose that I have misunderstand you because I fail to comprehend the thrust of the supposed violation of the law of non-contradiction with regard to the ideas of the finite and the infinite, as if they were in fact mutually exclusive relative to anything but the premise you incessantly impose, perhaps unwittingly, on Judeo-Christianity's metaphysics without justification.

Continued . . .

November 08, 2012 4:14 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

And this is both unhelpful and redundantly obtuse:

"Again, you show a strange behavior pattern here, Michael. I’ve already made very clear that there are some open questions on the table regarding ‘Christian epistemology,’ and you’re off introducing things like ‘the material-consciousness primacy argument’ and ‘a classic, centuries-old argument that is akin to it,’ and immediately after introducing it, you say ‘let’s put that aside for the moment.’ "

 
Wrong! You introduced it, Dawson, not I! Neither my terminology nor my allusion to similar arguments is relevant to this documented fact. I merely acknowledged your introduction of it in order to let you know that I appreciate its importance and intend to address it.

Cleary, this is indisputable, given the chronology of things, and the fact that indeed I did request, politely, that we lay it aside for now as well, for it too entails the need to establish the meaning of certain terms and, especially, delineate categorical distinctions that logically precede any coherent discussion of it.

I did no introducing or shifting at all. Period. You wasted two to three paragraphs upbraiding over this fantasy.

I don't know about you, but that strikes me as a perfectly reasonable request, especially given the following problems.


You write: "Michael, when you make statements like ‘As Rand would put it, existence subsists! Form is reality. It’s substance has primacy over human consciousness,’ you give away that you really do not have a very good understanding of Objectivism."

Well, if that's true, it wouldn't be first time I was less than satisfactorily informed about something. Certainly, you know more than I about Objectivism. I wouldn’t dream of challenging you on that score. But I avoid the expression "existence exists" merely as a matter of personal aesthetics. “Existence subsists” has the very same meaning, sans the inherently prosaic redundancy. Also, it's my understanding, based on Peikoff’s analysis no less, that Rand's rejection of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy is predicated on the argument that form is realty, as it is in Judeo-Christianity, albeit, relative to the pertinent processes of concept-formation. Form in this instance does not denote any refugee, as it were, of Idealism or rationalism, assuming that‘s the cause of your complaint.

I’m guessing here as you didn’t tell me what the problems were. If I’m off here, get me straight. This is important. I'm always open to understanding things better . . . but are you sure my understanding is substandard?


And this is a problem:

"For one thing, I don’t know where Objectivism ever says that ‘existence does not extend beyond the empirical.’ This is not something that I’ve ever read in any of the Objectivist literature on the topic, and it seems to violate the primacy of existence as such anyway (since it attempts to use conscious activity as a limiting factor on what existence could be)."

Well, Objectivism rejects the existence of the transcendence and, thus, the notion that any legitimate knowledge could possibly be derived from it for some reason, which for me suggests an instance of "conscious activity as a limiting factor on what existence could be". As I understand it, Rand's metaphysical triadic is informed by Aristotelian metaphysics sans any lingering, conceptual apriorities carried over from Platonic idealism.

November 08, 2012 4:25 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Michael,

Great observation. Objectivism is a rehash of Aristotle. In fact, Aristotle was wrong about much. It always amazes me that people take him seriously.

November 08, 2012 4:44 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Richard, I have no problem with Dawson's tone. It's cool. I'm known to take as good as I give without getting all bent. A little urgency or force now and again shouldn't hurt anyone. I like Dawson's confidence, his style, his wit, his writing . . . even when his criticisms are unfounded. I'll just push back a bit when that happens.

LOL!

And of course, no hard feelings. I misinterpreted you anyway. My apologies for that.

The matter is forgotten, though you shouldn't be finding anything funny about my recent posts, well, not in the sense that I'm pulling on folks' legs. I simply hadn't gotten to the meat of things yet. That's all.

November 08, 2012 4:44 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Well, aside from some typos in the above--". . . I [strike]have[strike] misunderstand. . . ", for example, and some missing words, that's all I've got for today.

November 08, 2012 5:49 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Mike,

Great! No problem.

November 08, 2012 6:40 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

I will continue with our discussion, now that I have had some time to give it more attention.

I wrote: "I do not believe I used the phrasal verb 'account for' in my questions about your statements regarding 'Christian epistemology.' "

My question was: “Just what exactly *is* ‘Christian epistemology‘? Where can it be found? What does it teach? What does it say knowledge is? What does it say about concepts? What is the process which ‘Christian epistemology’ endorses, and how does it work?"

Notice that I do not say “account for” here.

But you say: “You are asking me to account for it,”

Per my understanding of what “account for” means, no, I’m not. Rather, I’m asking you just to describe it, to present what it is. Based on how I see “account for” used, it is typically used in regarding to justifying or validating something – a task that would logically come after the thing being validated or justified had been presented and understood. But I admit it is a loose and imprecise term, which is why I avoid it. If by your understanding my questions amount to asking you to “account for” what you call “Christian epistemology,” so be it. I just want to know what “Christian epistemology” *is* before anything else.

You continued: “and what have I told you so far? Answer: The epistemology of Judeo-Christian orthodoxy is a rational-empirical construct.”

Okay, that’s a start, but I’m sure you realize it does not address my questions. You’ve given a label to it. Great. But it really tells me very little. You want t save the meat for later. Okay. I get that. I’m not sure I understand why though.

Also, before it was just “Christian epistemology,” now it’s “Judeo-Christian epistemology.” Would this imply that the epistemology of Christianity has fundamental similarities with Islamic epistemology, since both religions stem from Abrahamic roots? I know, it’s another tangent. But as your presentation of your position evolves, additional questions are bound to come up.

You wrote: “And, in essence, what have I asked of you in this regard? Answer: (1) Please, trust me, I have the expertise to address your concerns; but (2) let's lay that aside for now as the matter is complex, and I couldn't possibly do it justice at this point in our discussion as certain problems involving semantics and categorical distinctions haven't been mutually resolved.”

Michael, I’m happy to grant that you’ve attained your degrees and other credentials and have expertise in whatever field or fields. But that really does not interest me. I do not say this to belittle you in any way. I just don’t think it’s relevant, and it certainly does not address the questions on the floor.

I recognize that the issues involved are or at least can get complex. But we can start simple. Indeed, begin by identifying your starting point if you like. This should not be complex. An actual starting point does not rest on layers and layers of underlying ideational context. It may take some context to explain it, but it shouldn’t take much.

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 9:10 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: "I’m exploring your comments and allowing you to take the lead."

You responded: “Yet you dismiss my statement of credentials as irrelevant and heedlessly press me once again about the Judeo-Christian epistemology.”

Yes, that’s true. And I will continue to do the same, for reasons stated, unless I’m persuaded to do otherwise. If you really think your credentials are relevant, then please argue for their relevancy. For so far, I don’t see why credentials are an issue. If your ideas have merit, credentials won’t make them any better. If your ideas are weak or arbitrary, credentials won’t make them strong or rational. Does that help?

But yes, epistemology is a big interest of mine. If there is such a thing as “Christian epistemology,” I want to know the details, and I want to know what makes it distinctively Christian.

You wrote: “You have yet to adequately appreciate what's behind my statement of credentials.”

I can only suppose that’s true. I really don’t see why it’s important. In fact, it seems a bit bizarre to me that my acceptance of your credentials, or whatever it is that you want on this matter, is so important to you. But I’m sure you have your reasons, whatever they may be.

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 9:10 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “From the experience that comes with my years of learning, I know that starting out with Judeo-Christianity's epistemology is not productive, and I see that this is particularly true when discussing it with an Objectivist, which is a novel, first-time experience for me.”

Perhaps you should post a glossary of important terms. I’m not saying this to be funny. I do think definitions are important, and our lack of mutual definitions is in some part responsible for the points where are communication has encountered conflict. (An example will come further down.)

For instance, when I see the term “rational-empirical construct,” I start to wonder. Objectivist epistemology is called *reason*. Objectivism defines reason as “the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses” (“The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 20). “Reason integrates man’s perceptions by means of forming abstractions or conceptions, thus raising man’s knowledge from the perceptual level, which he shares with animals, to the conceptual level, which he alone can reach. The method which reason employs in this process is logic—and logic is the art of non-contradictory identification” (“Faith and Force: Destroyers of the Modern World,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 62). So reason necessarily involves sense perception, i.e., the “empirical” level of awareness. Objectivism defines rationality as “the recognition and acceptance of reason as one’s only source of knowledge, one’s only judge of values and one’s only guide to action” (“The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 25). The point here is that, for Objectivism, coupling the concept ‘empirical’ with the concept ‘rational’ is redundant, which leads me to suspect that on the understanding taken by “Christian epistemology” (as you have presented it so far), the “rational” and the “empirical” are somehow separated from each other. Otherwise it seems they should not need to be joined in the manner that you have done. For Objectivism, rationality *subsumes* the empirical, and is not possible without the empirical (where “the empirical” denotes sense perception).

This is an important distinction to make, and thus an important inquiry regarding Christian epistemology so-conceived, since the conflict between rationalism and (strict) empiricism cannot, as Objectivism understands this conflict, be assuaged simply by blending rationalism and empiricism together. On the Objectivist analysis, rationalism dispenses with the evidence of the senses (to one degree or another) and attempts to deduce truths without reference to things we perceive. This amounts to affirming the conceptual level of consciousness without perceptual input. By contrast, (strict) empiricism affirms the validity of sense perception, but denies the conceptual level of consciousness (either de facto or de jure). So both views are profoundly mistaken, according to Objectivism, and joining two profoundly mistaken views together cannot result in a problem-free epistemology.

So that is my initial concern when you refer to “Judeo-Christian epistemology” as “a rational-empirical construct.” My concern here may be off the mark simply because there’s some way Christian epistemology as you understand it avoids the conflict implied by these analyses. If so, I await your clarification and correction.

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 9:10 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

At any rate, I should note that I do not find Christians typically referring to their worldview’s epistemology as “a rational-empirical construct,” but then again, that’s because, in my experience, Christians say *very little* about what their worldview supposedly teaches on the topic of epistemology, even when – perhaps especially when – they are asked to discuss it! That is my experience, Michael. Please appreciate this if nothing else.

Perhaps in addition to a glossary of sorts, then, would be comparing and contrasting what you take to be Christian epistemology with epistemology as Objectivism informs it. This would help me understand a lot, I would think! Perhaps you too.

My concern is that Christian epistemology, whatever it is, does not remain shrouded in mystery for some reason or another. If there really is an epistemology that is distinctively Christian in nature, I think it should come out into the open once and for all. But you can understand my worries in this regard when historically my experience is that Christians say next to nothing about what their worldview’s epistemology supposedly is, and when someone blows into town professing to have all these credentials on the topic seems to be stalling on the matter. I don’t think you will not observe this kind of behavior among tutored Objectivists. We love epistemology and we love to tell people about it. We want to help people understand. We aren’t guarding some secret here.

If I may, my experience on the matter raises numerous puzzling questions on behalf of believers. Perhaps you can help shed light on the matter. Is Christian epistemology something you think all Christians understand? Or, do you think it’s just for those who have been initiated into Christianity’s deeper bosom? Is it something one can piece together by reading the bible, or is it something that one learns about outside the sacred texts? Would you say that someone like “Richard” (Nide) employs “Christian epistemology” when he navigates himself through the world, makes assessments like “that’s funny” or proclaims victories on behalf of philosophers like Nietzsche? Or is he as in the dark on the matter as I am? Really, if this is an epistemology sourced in the divine, I don’t understand why it’s such a big secret and requires so much higher-institution learning even to get into the basics. I realize I’m just a Neanderthal, but I ask that you hold my hand through all this.

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 9:11 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “I strongly suggest that we forego ‘[m]ore later’ as seems to always be your wont until we have resolved the wrinkle implied by ‘finite sentience’ or ‘consciousness’ as it relates to my alleged nexus of agreement first. Clearly, this is the bone of contention that may in fact evince a mutual exclusivity of the two systems of thought even at that level . . . rather than an inherent contradiction in the metaphysics of Judeo-Christianity relative to its actual premise.”

Well, frankly, since I reject the notion of “infinite sentience” as conceptually self-contradictory, I would say that the wrinkle here is already resolved. The issue really does revolve around the issue of metaphysical primacy – i.e., the proper relationship between consciousness and its objects. There certainly is no instance of an “infinite sentience” discovered in nature – i.e., in the world we observe around us when we “look out” from the private confines of our minds. We find rocks, flowers, waterways, mountains, animals, people, man-made things, etc., but we do not find any “infinite sentience” there. On the other hand, we can *imagine* such a thing. Fortunately, however, Objectivism has in place certain prophylactic principles which guard against confusing reality with the imaginary. I would hope that you can appreciate the need for such principles, as well as their importance to the task of knowledge-seeking.

Objectivists recognize theism ultimately to have its “inspiration” in the imagination. If Objectivists are right on this point, wouldn’t you agree that they are right in rejecting theism? Or, could they be right that theism is premised in imagination, but they are still wrong to reject it for some reason?

You wrote: “After that, it's logical to examine the Objectivist's claim that theism is inherently contradictory as allegedly extrapolated from the primacy of existence vs. the primacy of consciousness ‘argument’ (your terminology in order to avoid any more car wrecks over nothing). That would also involve a definitive annunciation of Judeo-Christianity's metaphysics.”

I would say, Michael, that for you to understand the Objectivist position that theism is inherently contradictory, you will first need to understand the issue of metaphysical primacy as Objectivism informs it, the antithesis between the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness, and why Objectivism wholly embraces the former and wholly rejects the latter. I do not know whether you understand this background or not, but you can get a better understanding of it by checking out various entries I’ve posted on my blog. Here are two for starters:

How Theism Violates the Primacy of Existence
The Inherent Subjectivism of God-belief

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 9:11 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “After that, it's makes sense to discuss Judeo-Christianity's epistemology.”

Well, if that’s the case, it is even more mysterious to me now than before that you debuted yourself in these comments with the announcement that “Rand never properly understood Christian epistemology.” One would think that you’d be able to defend this statement at the time you made it. But you have a progression you want to follow. So I’ll try my best to be patient.

I wrote: “On Christianity's conception, the universe is analogous to a cartoon, and controlling it is a master cartoonist."

You responded: “The burden of proof is on you, given that you must necessarily acknowledge the self-subsistent, objectivity of the God idea in your denial that there be any substance to it.”

I honestly don’t understand what you mean by me needing to “acknowledge the self-subsistent, objectivity of the God idea in [my] denial that there be any substance to it.” It is unclear what the antecedent to the final pronoun “it” is intended to be, and I suspect we probably have differing conceptions of objectivity. Also, it is unclear what you mean by “self-subsistent” here, especially followed by a comma.

There is the claim that a god exists, with all the descriptions of said god that go along with it, and there is the analysis of that claim based on rational principles. That is my basic approach. I do not think the *notion* of “God” is either “self-subsistent” or objective: for one, it is not a notion that I’ve ever come to by my own examination of nature – it is not an idea that, for as far as I can tell, has its source in the world around us. Also, not only do I learn of this notion from other human beings, human beings who are just as capable of imagining things as I am, but the notion seems to vary from person to person, unlike concepts which are in fact based on objective inputs from reality.

If you’re looking for back-up supporting my characterization of Christianity’s conception of the universe, I have already met that burden here: The Cartoon Universe of Christianity.

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 9:12 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “And if waste my time with analogies comparing a potentiality of First Cause arising from the problem of origin with zombies and unicorns, my response will be a deafening silence.”

Well, actually, the cartoon universe analogy is an analogy focusing on the relationship between the reality-creating, universe-ruling god of Christianity and the universe it is alleged to have created and over which it is said to have absolute sovereignty. My analogy is actually an improvement over an analogy found in Romans where the apostle Paul likens man to a piece of clay and the Christian god to a potter who molds it into desired shapes. If that analogy has its merits, certainly the cartoon universe analogy is much stronger.

You found this statement of mine helpful: “Also, Objectivism does not accept the implications intended by the notion of 'finite sentience,' since among those implications is the view that there is such a thing as an 'infinite sentience' . . ."

You responded: “Assuming that's necessarily true in lieu of a better term or modifier, this is where we must begin. I attempted to settle the matter with that very ‘wrinkle’ in mind, but I'm not married to it.”

Can you clarify what you mean by “wrinkle” here? Is the “wrinkle” which you tried out but to which you are not “married” the notion that an “infinite sentient” is real and implied by the qualified notion of a “finite sentience”? Or, is it something else?

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 9:12 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You continued: “Your allegation that I'm not cognizant of the tension or was ‘caught off guard’ is false, just as the conclusion in your argument that the transcendent minds of the biblical narrative have primacy over existence is false--the latter being a non sequitur.”

Two issues here:

1) If I read you right (and please correct me if I’m wrong – but also recognize that there’s some haziness to your statements here), you seem to be saying that you anticipated that the notion of an “infinite sentience” would be implied by your term “finite sentience,” and that you recognize (since my “allegation” that you’re “not cognizant of the tension” here “is false”) that the notion of an “infinite sentience” does in fact suffer from certain tensions. Is that correct? Or am I simply misreading you here?

2) You object to the inference from biblical stories that angels and demons enjoy metaphysical primacy over any objects of their consciousness, whether it be other minds, objects in the world, biological systems, etc. Is that the case? How is such an inference a non sequitur, especially given various details in the biblical narrative which suggest just this?

You cautioned: “Forewarning: the Christian doesn't accept your rationally and empirically indemonstrable and, therefore, arbitrary dismissal of the existence of transcendence either.”

If this is intended to mean that Christians do not accept my rejection of their worldview’s supernaturalism, I already know this. Christians blow in here on occasion, assert their position, and when I explain my objections, they disappear, going their merry way affirming the very thing I’ve challenged without rebuttal and without apparently learning anything. But to charge my rejection of supernaturalism (assuming that is essentially the same thing as “the transcendence”) of being arbitrary or rationally indemonstrable, is, as you like to say, quite premature, Michael. Have you read my paper explaining why I reject “the supernatural”?

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 9:12 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “And please, don't suppose that I have misunderstand you because I fail to comprehend the thrust of the supposed violation of the law of non-contradiction with regard to the ideas of the finite and the infinite, as if they were in fact mutually exclusive relative to anything but the premise you incessantly impose, perhaps unwittingly, on Judeo-Christianity's metaphysics without justification.”

I’m hoping that, whether or not you’ve misunderstood me, will come out as the discussion unfolds, and if you are in need of correction, that I will be able to supply it and that you will accept it.

I wrote: "Again, you show a strange behavior pattern here, Michael. I’ve already made very clear that there are some open questions on the table regarding ‘Christian epistemology,’ and you’re off introducing things like ‘the material-consciousness primacy argument’ and ‘a classic, centuries-old argument that is akin to it,’ and immediately after introducing it, you say ‘let’s put that aside for the moment.’ "

You wrote: “Wrong! You introduced it, Dawson, not I! Neither my terminology nor my allusion to similar arguments is relevant to this documented fact.”

I have not introduced anything called “the material-consciousness primacy argument.” I have never even heard of this. Now, if this is *your* name for the argument from metaphysical primacy – an argument that I have used in my writings, then yes, I did introduce this argument. But the name that you have given to it is a very poor choice of words. What your choice of words describes does not call to mind any argument which I have made. So yes, the terminology you have chosen to use is relevant. The argument which I have defended on my blog and elsewhere is what I call the argument from metaphysical primacy; it has nothing to do with “material” or “material-consciousness,” whatever that is. It has to do with the *relationship* between consciousness and its objects, between the object and the subject of consciousness. “Material” has nothing to do with it and is a distracting descriptor, so much so that it renders what you apparently had in mind as my argument unrecognizable as such. In fact, my argument is essentially a variant of Thorn’s Argument from Existence, which also demonstrates the incompatibility of god-belief with the primacy of existence principle.

As for “a classic, centuries-old argument that is akin” to the argument from metaphysical primacy, I am unaware of any arguments that are “centuries old” and that are “akin to” the argument which I have used in my interactions with theism. But perhaps you are aware of such. If so, please feel free to clue me in. I’d love to see them.

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 9:13 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: "Michael, when you make statements like ‘As Rand would put it, existence subsists! Form is reality. It’s substance has primacy over human consciousness,’ you give away that you really do not have a very good understanding of Objectivism."

You responded: “I avoid the expression ‘existence exists’ merely as a matter of personal aesthetics.”

Okay, so you’re aware of how Rand actually stated her axiom. You simply chose to rephrase it in your own words. “Existence subsists” however certainly is not how “Rand would put it.” And there’s a good reason why Rand uses two forms of the same concept (the one a noun, the other a verb) by which to state her axiom, and that is precisely because they are two forms of the same concept. Rand was very careful to ensure that her founding axiom is not conceptually complex, that it in fact is conceptually singular. Axioms, Rand held, consist of axiomatic concepts, and the concept ‘existence’ and its immediate cognates are in fact axiomatic as her epistemology forms them. Commenting on Rand’s discussion of axiomatic concepts in ITOE, Porter remarks: “Axiomatic concepts have to be identified in tautologies because any lesser predicate would restrict them. Together they state the primacy of existence; it’s restricted just enough… How does restating a concept as a tautology serve as a base and a reminder? These tautologies do something the concepts alone don’t: they explicitly aassert the validity of their concepts” (Ayn Rand’s Theory of Knowledge, p. 228). Hopefully you will find this helpful in understanding why the interests of “personal aesthetics” do not, so far as I can see, outweigh the importance of safeguarding the axiomatic nature of the constituents of one’s starting point.

You wrote: “Also, it's my understanding, based on Peikoff’s analysis no less, that Rand's rejection of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy is predicated on the argument that form is realty, as it is in Judeo-Christianity, albeit, relative to the pertinent processes of concept-formation. Form in this instance does not denote any refugee, as it were, of Idealism or rationalism, assuming that‘s the cause of your complaint.”

I have read Peikoff’s essay on the analytic-synthetic dichotomy numerous times (though not recently), and I do not recall him ever making any statement to the effect that “form is reality.” I certainly don’t find Rand putting her views this way. If you can find a reference, please do. It seems quite alien to Objectivism, especially because it risks the implications you mention.

You wrote: “I’m guessing here as you didn’t tell me what the problems were. If I’m off here, get me straight. This is important.”

Yes, it is important. Ideally, direct quotes work best if you’re going to attribute a view to a thinker, especially if that thinker has stated the view in question. I have nowhere seen Rand make the statements you attributed to her. Even in the case of “[reality’s] substance has primacy over human consciousness,” this does not cohere very elegantly with Rand’s view as I have come to understand it. For one thing, to say that reality has a “substance” is quirky; for Rand, “reality is that which exists” (“Galt’s Speech,” For the New Intellectual, p. 126). The notion of reality having a “substance” seems to complicate what should and can already be understood in basic terms. Also, for Rand, existence does not hold metaphysical primacy only in the case of human consciousness, but in the case of consciousness as such – for *any* consciousness, human or otherwise. I realize that theists will have a problem with this, but I’ve already touched on this previously.

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 9:13 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “I'm always open to understanding things better . . . but are you sure my understanding is substandard?”

The jury is still deliberating, and frankly waiting for more evidence. But with some minor corrections, a willing attitude which you seem to possess, and the desire to continue learning, there’s promise for a positive verdict.

I wrote: "For one thing, I don’t know where Objectivism ever says that ‘existence does not extend beyond the empirical.’ This is not something that I’ve ever read in any of the Objectivist literature on the topic, and it seems to violate the primacy of existence as such anyway (since it attempts to use conscious activity as a limiting factor on what existence could be)."

You wrote: “Well, Objectivism rejects the existence of the transcendence”

This is something I’m happy to explore. To understand what it is saying, I’d have to understand what the term “the transcendence” is intended to denote. If it denotes something that is mere fantasy, then yes, Objectivism rejects the claim that “the transcendence” is actual. Frankly, I don’t see how any reasonable person could have a problem with this. But it is likely to be the case that those who affirm the reality of “the transcendence” disagree with the view that it is merely a fantasy. If so, they are free to take up the matter and present a positive case for its existence.

Now, the question for the present matter seems to be whether or not “the transcendence” denotes *everything* that “does… extend beyond the empirical.” This identity claim would need to be secured, if in fact this is your position.

You continued: “and, thus, the notion that any legitimate knowledge could possibly be derived from it for some reason, which for me suggests an instance of ‘conscious activity as a limiting factor on what existence could be’.”

The rejection of claims that things which are in fact merely imaginary are real, are not an instance of conscious activity serving as a limiting factor on what existence is or could be. It is an issue of *identifying* what existence is and is not. Objectivism nowhere says, “because we cannot perceive it, it therefore does not/cannot exist.” I’m perfectly happy to grant that there are many things in existence which I cannot and never will perceive. For instance, I do not deny the existence of Ulan Bator, but I have never seen it, and probably never will. There may be some planet revolving one of the stars making up the Pleiades, but I have never seen it, and I do not reject the possibility that it exists. But I’m guessing that these are not things that you would characterize as members of “the transcendence.”

As I understand it, Rand's metaphysical triadic is informed by Aristotelian metaphysics sans any lingering, conceptual a priorities carried over from Platonic idealism.

I have not done a line-by-line comparison between Objectivism and classic Aristotle. A good person to contact on this might be Burgess Laughlin, an Objectivist author who has published two books on Aristotle. His blog can be found here: Making Progress.

Rand credited Aristotle not only for providing a model for her own philosophical views, but also for the cultural advancements in the west. Living in SE Asia, I’ve come to appreciate Aristotle in profoundly new ways. It is very easy to take Aristotle’s contributions to western civilization for granted, when you live in the west. But it’s quite a different thing over here in Thailand. This part of the world could use a strong dose of his teachings. But better yet, I think Rand is what the people of this part of the world desperately need. Reality, reason and rights – how could any reasonable person have a problem with such a philosophy? Michael, what do you say?

Regards,
Dawson

November 09, 2012 9:13 AM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Clarification:

Dawson, in the above, I write: "As I understand it, Rand's metaphysical triadic is informed by Aristotelian metaphysics sans any lingering, conceptual apriorities carried over from Platonic idealism."

It should be noted, as I was primarily talking about epistemological concerns in the paragraph in which that sentence appears, that Rand, in the Aristotelian tradition, holds that knowledge comes from perception and experience. Aristotle talked about the "unscribed tablet," though his rendition did not necessarily preclude structural or categorical apriorities as Locke's tabula rasa did, the latter being closer to Rand's view or precisely that of Rand's.

November 09, 2012 9:25 AM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

My mother injured herself and had reconstruction surgery. I was up with her most of the night before and most of the night before that, but didn't want to sleep during the day and throw my pattern off. But that left my head a bit mushy for a couple of days. LOL! I'm off this week, btw; took vacation to care for her 'til we can get her into a temporary nursing facility next week. The wife has the duty today.

Yes, indeed, my error: I conflated "account for" with "give an account of". Just the same, insert "account of" and my observation stands.

But that's not the only thing I muddled. There are missing words here and there, thought but not written; what was intended to be a correction in tense, thought but not entirely struck. The day before yesterday I misspelled "omniscience." LOL! Wish there were an edit option on this thing.

But, finally, last night, I had a good, uninterrupted sleep, so things will be better today. Sorry about the confusion.

November 09, 2012 10:18 AM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Dawson,

You write: "Okay, that’s a start, but I’m sure you realize it does not address my questions. You’ve given a label to it. Great. But it really tells me very little.”

Agree.

Again: “You want to save the meat for later. Okay. I get that. I’m not sure I understand why though."

No. I want to deal with the meat right away, but in smaller pieces, one piece at a time.

Dealing with an avalanche of different arguments about a number of different things is a huge problem. Big arguments. Complex arguments. It's too much at the same time. It's futile. Unrealistic. Unproductive.

Moreover, Judeo-Christianity's epistemology cannot be properly understood without a fleshed-out knowledge of its metaphysics. My skeletal summary, a mere outline, is not sufficient.

Starting with my alleged "nexus of agreement," whether it be adequate or not, is a good place to start. Why? Because that leads directly to the finite-infinite (or immanent-transcendent) dichotomy of ontological realities proposed by Judeo-Christianity (J-C); it elicits a dispute that serves as an excellent medium through which the metaphysics of J-C may be simultaneously propounded and its epistemology readily revealed.

Your objection to the statement of my credentials goes to essence, but the thrust of that statement does not pertain to essence, but procedure. You're confounding the matter.

November 09, 2012 2:14 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Michael,

Notice what BB has decided to focus on regarding me.

What's wrong with funny things?

But how does the Christian know things? It's easy by faith.

November 09, 2012 2:26 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Ydemoc said to Michael:

You wrote: "As Rand would put it, existence subsists! Form is reality. It's substance has primacy over human consciousness."

I just did a search on Google for the string, "Form is substance" and "Ayn Rand." The only result that came back was from your blog.

I did that same with "Ayn Rand" and "existence subsists" and two of the four hits that came back were from your blog. The other two were results that were in no way associated with anything Ayn Rand said or wrote.

The search string, "substance has primacy over human consciousness" and "Ayn Rand" resulted in zero results.

My final search string, "primacy over human consciousness," gave two results. Both were from your blog.

Ayn Rand was very precise in the terms she used. So, with all due respect, your statement that your formulations above are "[a]s Rand would put it..." are clearly *not* as Rand would put it, nor did she ever couch her philosophy in such terms.
_____________________

Ydemoc, I didn't mean to imply something different than what Rand had in mind. The "substance" I had in mind in that instance was material or empirical per Objectivism. I agree that it's a poor choice of word. "Existence" and "existents" have a specific conceptual meaning in Objectivism. In context, "substance" refers back to "reality," by which I meant reality as perceived by the Objectivist.

Sorry for the confusion.

As for "existence subsists" and "form is reality":

The first goes to aesthetics, nothing more. I know that what Rand actually wrote was "existence exists." "Existence subsists" means the same thing and for me per Objectivism bears the same conceptual implications.

The second goes to a centuries-old philosophical conviction as asserted by the more empirical tradition of epistemology, which includes the annunciations of Aristotle, Aquinas, the British empiricists, Rand and others. . . . Judeo-Christianity espouses it.

Form is reality is short-hand for this conviction, which especially since Kant, refutes the subjective exegesis of the analytic-synthetic: "things as perceived-things as they are."

Rand, unlike others, rejects the analytic-synthetic dichotomy altogether; she emphasis the distinction between object and form, i.e., the object of perception and the form of perception. These are the realities that consciousness considers and deciphers to assimilate knowledge.

More specifically: Objectivism asserts that the form in which one perceives an object is realty. The quantities and the qualities of the object are perceived, then identified and subsequently incorporated by consciousness. The assimilation of knowledge is an open-ended process. That's all. The limits of consciousness or the imperfections of its concepts at any given moment during the process of knowledge assimilation does not impinge upon the reality of the perceptions or that of the object perceived.

“The fact that certain characteristics are, at a given time, unknown to man, does not indicate that these characteristics are excluded from the entity—or from the concept. A is A; existents are what they are, independent of the state of human knowledge; and a concept means the existents which it integrates. Thus, a concept subsumes and includes all the characteristics of its referents, known and not-yet-known” (Leonard Peikoff, “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy”).

I wholeheartedly agree with this.

November 09, 2012 3:12 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Some folks asked why I have no interest in proving God's existence, with one poster being rather uncharitable about the whole thing. LOL!

The problem with trying to prove God's existence is the same problem as that of trying to prove His nonexistence. Neither can be done. The uncharitable poster apparently doesn't grasp that truth.

Nevertheless, the argument for God's existence has the better of it in my opinion.

November 09, 2012 3:34 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Michael,

Thanks for your explanation.

So as to not derail the entertaining and informative exchange you and Dawson are having, I will refrain from delving into your latest reply, trusting instead, at this juncture, that any difficulties and questions I have concerning what you've written above -- (and there are a few items I find troubling) -- will be thoroughly addressed and answered as this thread marches on.

Ydemoc

November 09, 2012 4:46 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Michael, let me ask you a couple very simple questions:
A.) Why should I accept that God exists?
B.) If I don't accept that God exists, what are the consequences?

Lastly, while I really do appreciate your avoidance of proving God, I find that your justification is hopelessly meaningless. Given you knowledge of philosophy, proving non-existence should be a concept you'd completely avoid bringing up as anything close to justification for something. I mean, it's irrelevant. I can't prove that invisible flying pink elephants don't exist, but that's just trivially true.

Incidentally, if there are no consequences to not believing in God, then why believe in god?

November 09, 2012 4:46 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

PS,
not that it's your justification per se, it's just meaningless to even mention.

November 09, 2012 4:48 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Dawson,

Most of what you write today strikes me as being unnecessarily argumentative. Your rehashing settled matters, such as the argument that you introduced and the rather uninteresting objections that you have to my particular label for it. As for most of the rest, see the post I addressed to Ydemoc.

Also, whether you appreciate it or not, many of your arguments, especially those directly or indirectly related to the actuality of a transcendent realm of being, are not at all clear to me. Some assertions appear to jump up out of nowhere with no sign of a premise anywhere in sight, while other statements appear to be premises followed by non sequiturs. The Objectivist's reality appears to be organized around a predetermined conclusion, it's contents handpicked to suite the arrangement. As I read your posts, the question "why is that so?" arises in my mind again and again, and when I arrive at the end of this or that argument, the question remains unanswered.

You raised well over a dozen ideas that I would like to explore . . . but that's too many to discuss at once. These posts of yours – too much! I just don't have the time. I've been busy all day with other things too.

Please, can we start with just this one idea:

“Also, for Rand, existence does not hold metaphysical primacy only in the case of human consciousness, but in the case of consciousness as such – for *any* consciousness, human or otherwise. I realize that theists will have a problem with this, but I’ve already touched on this previously.”

Yes, you did, and I understood Rand's view completely from the very first moment I encountered it, at a glance I understood it. It's not rocket science. But it is fascinating to me, as all things that are interesting about Objectivism – i.e, as it relates to the concerns of Judeo-Christianity – arise from this view.

The nexus of agreement: Both Judeo-Christianity and Objectivism hold that existence has primacy over all instances of cosmological consciousness.

This statement appears to be true, one that avoids the immediate tension of the finite-infinite dichotomy. The only problem might be with the modifier "cosmological." If so, I'd like to explore why that would be so . . . tomorrow.

November 09, 2012 5:58 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Warning: typo in the above, i.e., "suite." My friggin' spell check kicks in the corrections it "thinks" are right. LOL!

This demands an answer. . . .

You write: "Reality, reason and rights – how could any reasonable person have a problem with such a philosophy? Michael, what do you say?"

Well, not only Thailand, but the whole world, including America, could use a lot more of the reason and rights of classical liberalism, a banner under which I place Objectivism's politics.

You understand why I didn't include the term "reality," as it denotes something for the Objectivist with which I disagree.

: )



November 09, 2012 6:34 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Andrew,

It's the reason that God's existence cannot be proven by one human being to another, which is what we're really talking about here, that's philosophically/theologically important, not the fact of this impossibility. The believer doesn’t need proof from another human being. God has proven it to him. LOL! Yes, I’m sure the Objectivist has real problems with that idea too.

The reason is not meaningless at all, but impinges on a wide range of concerns, including the justification of knowledge, for example. Also, science cannot rationally or empirically prove its underlying premise. Why? Because it’s a metaphysical presupposition of one kind or another, and this touches on the processes of the scientific method and the evaluation of data. The implications of the reason are far-reaching.

But I’d rather not get into that right now. Otherwise, I’ll be in two dialogues, both inevitably arriving at the same destination. That would be redundant. One of the things I’m curious about is Objectivism's destination with regard to that reason. I honestly don’t know, as I don’t know enough about Objectivism yet. I’m hoping Dawson will help lead me there.

November 09, 2012 7:13 PM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

You could have answered those questions in about the same or less amount of type than you just put out there, Micheal.

Why should one believe in God? And so what if one doesn't?

Let me simplify it more for you. Nobody here believes in God (well, for the most part), and presumably they're living quite nice and happy lives and will continue to do so. That said, what are the consequences of continuing not to believe?

I mean really, you guys are throwing way to much complexity and philosophical mish-mash into a very simply conversation. Dodging the question by saying you'll get there is just being disingenuous considering you took at least some time to type out a few paragraphs when the answer would have taken less.


Why?

November 09, 2012 7:36 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

I hope your mother’s condition is improving. I’m sure she’s delighted to have a son who tends to her needs at this time.

You stated: “But that's not the only thing I muddled. There are missing words here and there, thought but not written; what was intended to be a correction in tense, thought but not entirely struck. The day before yesterday I misspelled ‘omniscience’. LOL! Wish there were an edit option on this thing.”

Yes, typos are annoying, and I make them as well, and often fail to catch them even if I get a chance to review what I’ve written before posting. Very annoying! But let’s not worry about it unless it really contributes to confusion. A misspelling of ‘omniscience’ is nothing to worry about. At first I wondered if it were a new omni- category, but that didn’t last long. Believe me, I can appreciate the need for editing before publishing. I have a four, soon to be five-year old daughter and she loves to interact with me. So interruptions and distractions are constant for me. Hence I am not always able to concentrate without impediment. It’s part of life. We are busy adults with esoteric interests. To help, I always compose my blogs and comments on MS Word, which has way better editing powers than Blogger’s tight little form boxes.

To clarify yourself, you wrote: “It should be noted, as I was primarily talking about epistemological concerns in the paragraph in which that sentence appears, that Rand, in the Aristotelian tradition, holds that knowledge comes from perception and experience. Aristotle talked about the ‘unscribed tablet’, though his rendition did not necessarily preclude structural or categorical apriorities as Locke's tabula rasa did, the latter being closer to Rand's view or precisely that of Rand's.”

That is my understanding as well. As you already seem to know, Rand rejects the notion that man’s consciousness begins with mental content of some sort already formulated and ready to go, straight out of the shrink wrap if you will. Knowledge is something man must act in order to acquire – he needs to earn it. I tend to see claims of possessing some kind of “a priori” knowledge as an expression of the pursuit of the unearned. As I believe I mentioned before, anyone can claim that he “just knows” something. Often such individuals are simply unaware of the mental processes they performed to acquire what they are claiming to know. The hazard here is that they won’t know if they’ve made a mistake or not. And if there really is no process or steps that the person took in acquiring what he claims to know, he’s essentially claiming infallibility.

Speaking very generally here, consciousness is consciousness *of some thing* - it needs an object, and the primary means by which we have awareness of objects is sense perception. From this we form concepts, and if they are formed correctly, they are grounded in what we perceive. We build our knowledge from the ground floor as it were, and the resulting hierarchy is anchored to the perceptual level of awareness. If we adhere to the norms of objectivity, i.e., the primacy of existence applied to knowledge-building, our knowledge will be knowledge of reality. The primacy of existence constrains our knowledge to reality and provides us with a guide for distinguishing between reality from imagination.

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 8:02 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “Starting with my alleged ‘nexus of agreement’, whether it be adequate or not, is a good place to start. Why? Because that leads directly to the finite-infinite (or immanent-transcendent) dichotomy of ontological realities proposed by Judeo-Christianity (J-C); it elicits a dispute that serves as an excellent medium through which the metaphysics of J-C may be simultaneously propounded and its epistemology readily revealed.”

That’s fine, we can proceed to explore this. I have already raised some concerns on this matter. What would be crucial at this point are some definitions and also identification of the primary source of what you are attributing to Judeo-Christianity. Some of the key terms you should define would include “the transcendence” (speaking directly to what this term is intended to denote; if it is not intended to denote something that you perceive in the world by means of sense perception, then identification of the means by which you have awareness of it would be a wonderful bonus), “the immanent” (and hopefully some pointers on how the former and latter are to be distinguished from one another), and “infinite sentience,” if indeed this is a “reality” that you are affirming. Where all this can be found in Judeo-Christianity is also of crucial importance. I have not found these terms in the bible, though they may be assumed. Since you are speaking on behalf of Christian orthodoxy, it is the biblical credentials of the tenets you attribute to Christianity, as opposed to your personal academic credentials, which are important here.

You wrote: “Your objection to the statement of my credentials goes to essence, but the thrust of that statement does not pertain to essence, but procedure. You're confounding the matter.”

I confess I’m not really following you here, and I’m finding all this back and forth about your credentials wearying. If there’s something important you want to say about your credentials, please get to the point. If you’re Jesus Christ, then please, do a parlor trick or something. I’ve got about 25 one-liter bottles full of water in my kitchen – turn it into merlot or something. Would be nice!

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 8:02 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

In regard to your “form is reality” comment, you stated in reply to Ydemoc:

“Rand, unlike others, rejects the analytic-synthetic dichotomy altogether; she emphasis the distinction between object and form, i.e., the object of perception and the form of perception.”

Yes, but as I’m confident you know, this is not the primary thrust of Objectivism’s rejection of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy. The real issue is the relation between a concept and its referents as well as the nature of that concept’s definitions with regard to the referents the concept subsumes. This is why a good understanding of Objectivism’s concept theory is crucial to appreciating Objectivism’s rejection of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy. Fascinating stuff!

You continued: “More specifically: Objectivism asserts that the form in which one perceives an object is realty.”

Objectivism does distinguish between form and content of perception, that is true. Both are real, and this is an application of the axioms: consciousness exists, and whatever exists has identity. Hearing is distinct from seeing, and touching is distinct from tasting. When I see an ice cream cone, I perceive it in a certain form; when I hold it in my hand, I perceive it in a different form; when I take a taste, I perceive it in yet another form.

David Kelley has done a lot of work in this area. Perhaps you’re aware of his book The Evidence of the Senses? In one of his lectures, Kelley considers the age-old question “if a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Kelley’s answer is very straightforward: if by “sound” one means the whishing and crackling sound that we perceive when we are in earshot of a falling tree, then no, not for human beings anyway (any animals present would hear this though); if by “sound” one means sound vibrations traveling through the air, then yes, there is a sound. Kelley’s point is that the meaning of ‘sound’ as we typically use it is owing to the fact that we perceive objects in certain forms, and this form itself is objective, not subjective –it is a natural part of our consciousness, not something we intentionally install in our perceptual faculties.

Another example that Kelley cites is the sound we hear when a car is passing by. If you’re in the car racing down the road, the sound that the engine makes is constant, because you’re continually present and your proximity to it is constant. But if you’re standing on the side of the road as the car passes you by, the sound fades in from the surrounding background noise, increases in intensity, and then dissipates once the car has passed. Kelley’s point here is that the form of perception is contextual as well as objective.

It’s been a while since I’ve studied Kelley on these points, so hopefully I’m not butchering them beyond all recognition. But this just to say that, in the sense I’ve discussed here, form with regard to perception is real. But to say “form is reality” without clarifying that this is what is in mind, is confusing, to a troubling degree even, especially given the various connotations which have historically informed the word ‘form’ in philosophical dialogue. Moreover, to say that “form is reality” with this sense of form in mind, should be accompanied by the disclaimer that this is not intended to be an A is A type identity statement; not all of reality is perceptual form. The form of perception is simply a part of reality.

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 8:02 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “Some folks asked why I have no interest in proving God's existence, with one poster being rather uncharitable about the whole thing. LOL!”

Previously you had stated “as I have no interest in proving God's existence to anyone, if we allow for the moment that reality consists of both the necessarily transcendent and the contingently immanent, the former necessarily has primacy over the latter… Assuming the premise, the conclusion is sound. The opposite contention would be irrational.”

So given that you apparently think that the view that “reality consists of both the necessarily transcendent and the contingently immanent” is fundamental to any proof of your god’s existence, it does seem that this is the point of contention worth exploring. If you do not want to argue for your god’s existence directly, I’m okay with this. But I can understand why some would find this puzzling. I’m already satisfied that god-belief is irrational and that claims of a god or gods existing are mystical fantasies. So debating the existence of a god per se is not really all that interesting. It’s the attendant issues to the discussion that I find interesting.

[continued…]

November 09, 2012 8:03 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You stated: “The problem with trying to prove God's existence is the same problem as that of trying to prove His nonexistence. Neither can be done. The uncharitable poster apparently doesn't grasp that truth.”

Just so I’m reading you correctly here, you’re saying that it’s impossible “to prove God’s existence.” Whether or not it is possible to prove its non-existence is less important to me. There is no onus to prove that something does not exist; if something does not exist, no one needs to prove that it does not exist. The mind does not begin with certain content, some or all of which needs to be disproved before securing the integrity of our knowledge. The issue is why one should allow specific content items into one’s knowledge to begin with. With that said, while one can debate whether or not it is possible to prove that something does not exist, there is no disputing that one can demonstrate that certain beliefs are irrational and therefore should be rejected. This latter approach is the one which I rely on, although I have presented my own proof that the Christian god does not exist. I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet or not. I published in July 2011, and the basic syllogism I propose is the following:

Premise 1: That which is imaginary is not real.
Premise: 2: If something is not real, it does not actually exist.
Premise 3: If the god of Christianity is imaginary, then it is not real and therefore does not actually exist.
Premise 4: The god of Christianity is imaginary.
Conclusion: Therefore, the god of Christianity is not real and therefore does not actually exist.


I would think that most people would affirm the first three premises, and that theists would dispute the fourth. Does this suspicion apply in your case?

You wrote: “Nevertheless, the argument for God's existence has the better of it in my opinion.”

Oh, now you’re trying to tease us, Michael!

But two important questions I have for Christians and any kind of theist really, are:

1) When I imagine the Christian god (or any other god), how is what I’m imagining not imaginary?

2) What is the alternative to imagining then Christian god when trying to apprehend it?

Again, more later. My wife and I need to go out and do some shopping now.

Regards,
Dawson

November 09, 2012 8:03 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

If you promise not to beat yourself up over incidental typos and other trivial gaffs, I'll promise not to beat myself up for the same. Deal?

Really, it's no big deal. We are all capable of typing errors. They are not sufficient discredit our intelligence.

Okay, I have to go now, or the wife is going to roast me on a spit and dunk me in hot chili sauce!

Regards,
Dwason

November 09, 2012 8:07 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Michael,

What are your credentials? Are you a Ph.d or something?

November 09, 2012 8:45 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

In response to Andrew, you wrote: “The believer doesn’t need proof from another human being. God has proven it to him. LOL! Yes, I’m sure the Objectivist has real problems with that idea too.”

I have some questions for you.

Would you agree that it would be possible for a person who is confessionally invested in a set of religious beliefs, to imagine that the god he worships has communicated to him in various ways, up to and including proving its own existence to the believer? Would you also agree that if the believer has imagined this to be the case and subsequently comes to believe that it is true, that he has deluded himself?

When you say that the believer doesn’t need proof from another human being, we might point out that he doesn’t need proof because he already believes it. It may be the case that he simply wants it to be true, and consequently makes up excuses for not discussing proofs. Is that possible?

You say that “God has proven” its own existence to the believer. But what about non-believers? From the religious standpoint, the reluctance to validate one’s god-belief to non-believers seems to leave them in the dark.

Either way, it is still not clear why you think your god’s existence cannot be proven by one human being to another. Stating that “God has proven it” already to the believer is to be expected so far as believers are concerned; they are typically motivated to protect their beliefs due to varying degrees of personal investment in any number of aspects which religious belief seems to offer the believer, e.g., emotional comfort, hope for an afterlife, psychological security that one is living right, dissociation from a world full of problems, belonging to a social network, etc. But this does not explain why proving the existence of something so big in the believer’s mind to other individuals would not be possible. Indeed, earlier you had mentioned that trying to prove your god’s existence is silly. But if it is true and important, why would it be silly?

Many apologists have indicated that non-believers actually already do “know” that their god exists, and they are simply in denial, “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness,” as they say. This view is inspired by what strikes me to be a plain reading of Romans 1 (i.e., it does not seem that it would be a controversial interpretation among orthodox Christians). But speaking for myself, when I introspect on the matter, I find that I must imagine the Christian god merely to even contemplate these questions; the only awareness I have of any supernatural being, whether it is the Christian god, Islam’s Allah, the Lahu tribe’s Geusha, etc., is by means of imagining it. And reason tells me that there is a fundamental distinction between what is real – what really exists – and what I imagine. And curiously, I do not find that apologists for a god-belief express concern for maintaining the integrity of this distinction in their theistic defenses. Indeed, it typically is not mentioned, let alone discussed and deliberated.

The upshot is that I would have to be dishonest to what I know to be true in order to affirm the existence of a god. No theist, Christian or otherwise, has persuaded me that I should turn my back on what I know to be true since I’ve discovered it.

Incidentally, the points that I raise here are points that I’ve raised in many of my treatments on the matter. You have expressed that some of my “assertions appear to jump up out of nowhere with no sign of a premise anywhere in sight, while other statements appear to be premises followed by non sequiturs.” Do you detect this characteristic in what I’ve written here? If so, how can I frame my points and questions in a manner that is any more down to earth for you to grasp?

Regards,
Dawson

November 10, 2012 5:18 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

You wrote: “The nexus of agreement: Both Judeo-Christianity and Objectivism hold that existence has primacy over all instances of cosmological consciousness… This statement appears to be true, one that avoids the immediate tension of the finite-infinite dichotomy. The only problem might be with the modifier ‘cosmological’. If so, I'd like to explore why that would be so . . . tomorrow.”

A few points:

First, I don’t know what you mean by “cosmological consciousness.” Is this intended to denote any consciousness which exists in the natural realm, such as here on earth – i.e., biological organisms? “Cosmological consciousness” as opposed to what other kind of consciousness? If you are withholding the primacy of existence from applying in the case of some other kind of consciousness, you invite a never-ending series of complications and problems, and I would also say you invite a worldview ultimately premised in something that simply is not true. But I will await your clarification before proceeding.

Second, I am entirely convinced, as you probably already suspect, that Judeo-Christianity is not compatible with the primacy of existence. The primacy of existence does not allow for exceptions, and exceptions are what Christianity requires. Naturally I would expect most reasonable Christians (and I think there are such individuals – thanks to their ability to compartmentalize their professed religious beliefs and their de facto interaction with the world) to recognize and affirm the truth of the primacy of existence, since it is undeniably true. But it would not follow from expressing agreement with the principle that one’s professed worldview is systematically consistent with this principle. One can verbally affirm a position and yet performatively subscribe to its contradiction. I’m reminded of Cornelius Van Til’s denial of circular reasoning in the transcendental argument on the one hand, and his famous endorsement that Christians “prefer to reason in a circle to not reasoning at all” (A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 12). It is very possible for a person to speak out of both sides of his mouth, as it were. It only exposes internal problems for a person to say on the one hand that wishing doesn’t make it so, only then to turn around and insist that there exists a supernatural consciousness to whose wishes everything conforms.

Third, what is wrong with being entirely consistent with the primacy of existence principle, i.e., recognizing that the primacy of existence describes the actual orientation between *any* consciousness and its objects? Do you think this is something a person simply cannot know? Or do you think there is evidence which contradicts this? In either case, would you not be assuming the truth of the primacy of existence to argue for an exception to it?

Regards,
Dawson

November 10, 2012 5:45 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

I wrote: "Reality, reason and rights – how could any reasonable person have a problem with such a philosophy? Michael, what do you say?"

You responded: “Well, not only Thailand, but the whole world, including America, could use a lot more of the reason and rights of classical liberalism, a banner under which I place Objectivism's politics.”

What is happening in America was predicted by Rand in her novel Atlas Shrugged. It is haunting how close she called it.

You wrote: “You understand why I didn't include the term ‘reality’, as it denotes something for the Objectivist with which I disagree.”

What is happening in American politics is in large part happening because people think that they can have reason and rights while denying reality.

Regards,
Dawson

November 10, 2012 5:46 AM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Andrew,

Your attitude is boorish.

Another poster suggested that I’m here to show off. Perhaps that was you. I don’t remember. Naturally, I wouldn’t agree with that. But even if I were such a grubby, small-minded little twit, I wouldn’t have the time to indulge that fetish right now.

It’s one thing to read Rand’s novels—Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead—which for the classical liberal are interesting if for no other reason but their political content. But in those same works she also expresses much about her metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and aesthetics for the alert reader.

I've read a couple of her works of non-fiction. I’ve also read some of Peikoff’s stuff. But that’s preliminary, mere academics, child’s play.

To sit down and speak directly with someone who practices Objectivism, has discussed it at length, has for years thought and written about it—lived it!—is priceless. There are those patterns of speech, patterns of thought, patterns of behavior that cannot otherwise be experienced; always there is nothing like those unique, real-life insights of a worldview that reside just beyond the grasp of those who have had nothing at their disposal but academic treatments of them.

You think theism is a waste of time. Fine. The implications of certain metaphysical concerns are to you nothing more than “philosophical mish-mash”. That’s fine too. I get that. For beyond the academics of communicating Judeo-Christianity to a world inured as it is to the rot of secular humanism, I don’t have much tolerance for useless philosophical meanderings either. But the operative term here is useless.

On the whole, despite its atheism, I find that Objectivism has more in common with Judeo-Christianity than any other single system of thought, at least as far as the temporal realm of existence is concerned, though not without some tension, which I have come to appreciate with even greater clarity; and from me, that is saying something, as I am familiar with most all of the various system’s of thought espoused in the history of Western culture.

So perhaps nothing I might say would be of any value to you. I’m just another theistic yahoo who has stumbled into your midst.

That’s even better.

For after scouring the Internet for the most competent exemplar of Objectivism that I could find, one who might be gracious enough to speak with me directly, I didn’t come here to teach or to prove God’s existence to you. I’m here to learn and make new friends if you wish. But since you asked why I’m not interested in proving what one cannot prove to another, as a matter of courtesy and respect I answered your question as extensively as the circumstances warrant for the moment.

But then you imply that you already knew the sort of answer I would give and say that the type and the time I expended on it is a waste. Indeed. Apparently. What then is the type and the time you expended on asking it?

A little advice, that comes from a place that’s close to home for you, and I paraphrase: It’s not wise to live one’s life for others or to ask others to live their lives for one.

Don’t bother asking me anymore questions.

November 10, 2012 10:59 AM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Dawson,

I'm reading your links, and will respond shorty.

By the way, on Google blogger how do you extend the comments beyond the standard five as you do? I had to "freeze" my blog for a bit and don't recall how that function is accessed. It would save me time if you could tell me.

November 10, 2012 11:06 AM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Michael,
First off, I never said anything about you “showing off” (not even really sure what that means). With regard to your “boorish” comment, well, I don’t know what to tell you. If you’re unwilling to get to a central (and simple) question, yet willing to turn around and say some things about science that didn’t in any way pertain to the questions I asked, it really looks to me like you’re just dodging. If you didn’t want to answer the questions you could have just said so, and if pointing that out make me boorish to you, then I guess I’m boorish.

And once again you’ve taken the time to say a lot of things to me that have nothing to do with the questions when you could have just said you don’t want to answer the questions. You also have to understand that in this conversation here, you’re not just arguing philosophy with Dawson, you’re arguing for your position, which is a Christian one. That means the questions I asked are quite pertinent. But, if you have no interest in it, that’s quite alright.

Incidentally, I don’t actually think theism is a waste of time at all and was really curious to know what your responses would be. My blog should be a testament to that.

Finally, I’m not asking you anymore questions as I’ve already asked the ones I wanted.

November 10, 2012 11:31 AM  
Blogger Andrew Louis said...

Micheal, you said:
"But then you imply that you already knew the sort of answer I would give and say that the type and the time I expended on it is a waste. Indeed. Apparently. What then is the type and the time you expended on asking it?"

Essentially I wasn't expecting you to get all dodgy and sensitive about it, so I took the time to ask the question.

November 10, 2012 11:35 AM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Narrowing the scope, quick snapshots. . . .

In your first post of this round, yes, we are on the same page. For Rand, the competent acquisition of knowledge is an act of will. Ditto in Judeo-Christianity.

Another snapshot. . . .

You write: “Speaking very generally here, consciousness is consciousness *of some thing* - it needs an object, and the primary means by which we have awareness of objects is sense perception.”

Yes. And stated even more emphatically in my piece from Prufrock’s Lair:

“Rand's notion that consciousness is relationally dependent in the sense that ‘it cannot be aware only of itself’ as ‘there is no 'itself' until it is aware of something’ other than itself is unnecessarily argumentative. Nevertheless, Rand's endorsement of the rational foundation on which the Christian doctrine of the Trinity rests is certainly welcome. Of course, the consciousness to which Rand refers is human and the independent reality that she has in mind is the material world. From there, she sensibly goes on to argue that existence subsists independent of human consciousness and adroitly brings to bear the law of identity (A is A) and the law of non-contradiction (A is B, and A is not B are mutually exclusive). Though some would beg to differ, she thusly annihilates epistemological skepticism and Kantian subjectivism.

(Like Rand, I have no tolerance for the inscrutable, philosophical meanderings of doubt and indecision.)”

(Note: I’m aware that a few of the ideas in that summary, those which lurk beyond the reaches of her view proper, are contestable for reasons that are inherent to that view. Keep in mind I’m commenting from the Christian perspective. I’ll be getting to those ideas soon when we address the metaphysics and epistemology of Christianity against those of Objectivism.)

Another. . .

You write: “The primacy of existence constrains our knowledge to reality and provides us with a guide for distinguishing between reality from imagination.”

Of course, in this instance, I don’t accept the intent of the underlying premise known to both of us, but I “feel” ya from the Objectivist perspective. Ironically, this is the very same view as that of the Christian, albeit, with the opposite force of a more expansive view of existence . . . if ya “feel” me, and I “imagine” that you do.

Good. Moving on. . . .

November 10, 2012 12:53 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 10, 2012 1:43 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Sorry, Dawson. Something came up. Forgot to tell you. I'll have to get back to you later. I did have time to read the pieces at the other end of the links though.

November 10, 2012 4:43 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

You wrote: "A little advice, that comes from a place that’s close to home for you, and I paraphrase: It’s not wise to live one’s life for others or to ask others to live their lives for one."

Just FYI, not everyone who posts comments on my blog are Objectivists or even sympathetic to Objectivism. There is no screening test that anyone needs to pass to comment here, and I welcome folks of whatever bent to comment here. It's a marketplace of sorts, everyone invited to sample what's being offered and to offer what they have to share as well. But please don't count on everyone commenting here as a representative of Objectivism.

As for "scouring the Internet for the most competent exemplar of Objectivism," while I am happy to discuss these and other matters with you, I'm sure there are many on the net who are better qualified than I am. Folks like Diana Hsieh and her colleagues, Betsy Speicher (if you can find her these days - I think she's active on some forums) and many others come to mind. Whether they would be willing to participate in extended discussions is another matter. But I caution you not to take everything I say as some authoritative representation of Objectivism.

Hope that helps!

Regards,
Dawson

November 10, 2012 4:48 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Photo,

Michael does not strike me as either a snob or an asshole. Far from it. In fact, he seems quite level-headed to me and willing to have a two-way conversation on these matters. That's rare in my experience.

Let's try to keep things friendly, okay?

Regards,
Dawson

November 10, 2012 4:55 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

No, Richard, I'm not a Ph.d of anything, I do have a BA in theology and one in history. Nothing too fancy.

Got to go.

November 10, 2012 4:55 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Mich,

cool.

Photo,

Are you still traumatized from your days of dealing with PAs?

November 10, 2012 5:50 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

You wrote: “In your first post of this round, yes, we are on the same page. For Rand, the competent acquisition of knowledge is an act of will. Ditto in Judeo-Christianity.”

How is that the case in Christianity? Christians are frequently telling me that their god essentially inserts knowledge into their minds, knowledge they somehow acquire without any action on their own part. They cite things like the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” and the “sensus divinitatis.” One apologist out there is famous for claiming that his god has “revealed” knowledge to him “such that [he] can be certain of it.” Claiming to have knowledge that was “revealed” from a supernatural source does not seem to be acquisition of knowledge by one’s own volitionally guided initiation. Rather, it characterizes the human mind as a passive receiver of knowledge in which case the volitionally guided initiation originates outside the human mind. Vis-à-vis Objectivism and other secular philosophies, the claim to having received knowledge by revelation from a divine source is distinctively Christian.

Or, perhaps what you’re saying is that such instances of (claimed) knowledge do not qualify as competent acquisition of knowledge?

Broadly speaking, Michael, I’m still struggling with the task of cohering what you say Christianity teaches with what I know about Christianity. The Christianity I’m familiar with (I have in mind the kind which is bible-based) does not make the statements you are making about Christianity. I’ve indicated this concern several times now, but you haven’t addressed it. But I’ll be patient and hope that eventually you get to it.

You wrote: “Rand's notion that consciousness is relationally dependent in the sense that ‘it cannot be aware only of itself’ as ‘there is no 'itself' until it is aware of something’ other than itself is unnecessarily argumentative.”

Can you explain what you mean by “unnecessarily argumentative”? Rand is making fundamental philosophical observations about the nature of consciousness. How is what she affirms “unnecessarily argumentative”? How do you determine when something is “unnecessarily argumentative”?

You wrote: “Nevertheless, Rand's endorsement of the rational foundation on which the Christian doctrine of the Trinity rests is certainly welcome.”

Where in the history of the development of the Christian doctrine of the trinity is it found that it rests on the points which Rand cites? Where, for instance, is it stated within authoritative Christian sources (if not the bible???) that consciousness cannot be aware only of itself and that there is no consciousness without there being something outside itself to first be aware of?

The foundation of the doctrine of the trinity was pieced together from narrative elements culled from various passages in the New Testament treating its members as members of a “Godhead.” There is nothing in the bible making references to the principles which Rand enumerates in her philosophical fundamentals.

Now, given that you qualified this foundation of the doctrine of the trinity with the word ‘rational’, are you saying that the rational foundation of the doctrine of the trinity is owing to the truths which Rand has (albeit independently) affirmed in Objectivism, while the culling together of the doctrine of the trinity from various passages in the bible would constitute an irrational foundation of that doctrine?

[continued…]

November 10, 2012 6:14 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “Of course, the consciousness to which Rand refers is human and the independent reality that she has in mind is the material world. From there, she sensibly goes on to argue that existence subsists independent of human consciousness and adroitly brings to bear the law of identity (A is A) and the law of non-contradiction (A is B, and A is not B are mutually exclusive).”

Again, I feel it necessary to point out that while Rand is speaking primarily of human consciousness, she is not limiting these principles exclusively to human consciousness. Reality existing independent of consciousness is the case for all consciousnesses, whether human, cat, dog, rat, elephant, reptile, fish, snail, etc. There are no exceptions to the primacy of existence in the world we discover objectively around us.

There are two issues pertaining to Rand’s view of consciousness to explore here:

1) Primacy of existence obtains in the case of human consciousness (really, all consciousness).

2) Human consciousness needs an object.

If the primacy of existence does not obtain in the case of a supernatural consciousness, why suppose that supernatural consciousness needs an object? If Christianity does not endorse the primacy of existence in the case of a supernatural consciousness, why suppose that it would endorse the need for a supernatural consciousness to have an object?

Again, where does the bible speak on these things directly? Where does it even indirectly state that the primacy of existence obtains in the case of human consciousness? Where does it indicate that consciousness requires an object?

Or, is the authoritative source for what orthodox Christianity teaches something other than the bible? Am I wrong to be expecting the bible to authenticate the views you are attributing to orthodox Christianity? If there’s another source which we should consider as having the final say on what orthodox Christianity teaches? If so, what is it? If not – if the bible is the authoritative source, where does it address these issues?

Regards,
Dawson

November 10, 2012 6:14 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 11, 2012 7:29 AM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Your next post deals with the analytic-synthetic. . . .

You write: “Yes, but as I’m confident you know, this is not the primary thrust of Objectivism’s rejection of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy. The real issue is the relation between a concept and its referents as well as the nature of that concept’s definitions with regard to the referents the concept subsumes.”

Yes, I am. That’s why immediately under my summary of process, I quoted Peikoff to underscore my explanation and complete the thought with regard to its ultimate “thrust” as you put it. That was easier and faster than composing original prose to conclude the matter. Time!

No. I’m not familiar with Kelley’s work, but I once did a thought experiment with another Christian on the phone. I wish we had thought to record it! Anyway, we would both emphatically agree with him. Also, about twenty years ago, I composed a Bible study and a series of essays on the nature and evidences of sensory perception from the Judeo-Christian perspective, annunciating similar observations and conclusions. Unfortunately, they were lost. We see eye-to-eye.

You write: “Moreover, to say that “form is reality” with this sense of form in mind, should be accompanied by the disclaimer that this is not intended to be an A is A type identity statement; not all of reality is perceptual form. The form of perception is simply a part of reality.”

We see eye-to-eye on this as well

Actually, it’s a problem for the same reason Ydemoc didn’t find it on the Internet. The English translation of the label that refers to the reality of perceptual forms is obscure and only appears perhaps two or three times in the literature of epistemology . . . in Latin. My article assumes way too much on the part of the reader. I pulled the article on Objectivism off my blog for now. After speaking with you guys I see that it needs to be revised here and there. The label is accurate, but what is the use of its accuracy if the allusion is too obscure and, therefore, the meaning unclear or confusing?

None!

Sometimes we get so caught up in our personal understanding of things that we neglect the necessities of communicating that understanding to others. I appreciate your suggestion with regard to the law of identity, but it would be even better if I just spelled it out in such a way that no qualification be necessary.

Thanks.

November 11, 2012 4:08 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Dawson,

1. As for the idea of God. Make no mistake about it, I intend to show that it is in fact at the base of knowledge relative to the problem of origin, that the recognition of this is derived from reason, not faith. Faith enters the fray after that point. The experience of God's existence, which He actualizes in response to one's faith, for reasons that should be obvious, cannot be transmitted from one person to another. That’s all.

On the other side of that "leap of faith" and its fruition, I will expound on the existents immanence and transcendence, which, like the problem of origin, is subject to objective analysis in terms of logical consistency.

2. Also, of course, any one of the scenarios of delusion that you describe are not only possible but occur all the time.

To a lesser degree of delusion, some folks hold to an idea of God that is in fact a floating abstraction or "just believe" in this or that all the time in a fideistic sense. Neither scripture, in my opinion, nor the vast majority of orthodox opinion recommends Pascal’s wager, for example, even though the god of philosophy is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Scripture does indeed affirm that the Gospel is foolishness to this world, but the thrust of that observation has nothing to do with content, but with the perception of an unredeemable world.

You raised other psychological objections, including Paul’s observation about knowing “the truth in unrighteousness”. Generally, this pertains to the imago dei, and its specifics entail the three classic laws of logic and the universal law of morality. Actually, this is my favorite vehicle to jump in and drive home the exegesis of Christian epistemology. Metaphysics first.

The direct impartation of inspired knowledge from the Holy Spirit does not negate human will. More on that later. Metaphysics!

3. Yes, I will be bind ideas to scripture and the very best annunciations of them in the literature of orthodoxy, from the early theologians of the Second Century to those of today when applicable.

4. The reference to the Trinity is an inside joke among Christians. Disregard it. It has no bearing on actualities. There is no reason for a necessary being to be triune in nature . . . at least in terms of any rational necessity. The Christian God simply is triune in being, and the rational conceptualization of this doctrine is mathematical, a single set comprised of three. I see now that the joke doesn’t work in this context or for a general audience, but causes the very dispute you raised, which is really not there. But, hey, that's an easy edit. It just goes away.

5. Yes, “cosmological consciousness” is “intended to denote any consciousness which exists in the natural realm,” but it sucks. Let’s just stick with human consciousness with the understanding that while Objectivism can agree that existence has primary over it, that is merely an example of the Objectivist’s notion of primacy, not a full account of it. In short, Objectivism rejects any ontological or epistemological duality of any kind beyond the distinction between existence, which has absolute primacy without exeception, and its inherent states of consciousness, which are absolutely contingent.

6. What’s wrong with the assertion that existence has primacy over all consciousness? It’s not true. And this inherent contradiction you keep alluding to with regard to the ontological duality of Judeo-Christianity is a mirage. At a glance I grasp that, and I’m amazed that you don’t.

November 11, 2012 6:22 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Now as for the "Why is that so?" monologue and your request that I make things manifestly clear.

METAPHYSICS AND THE INEVITABLE BITS OF EPISTOMOLOGY THE GENERALLY APPLY

Yes certain things need to be defined.

I need to know precisely what “realty” or “existence” means to the Objectivist. My understanding of that seems to be a bit hazy to say the least.

I don't see the justification for what appears to be Objectivism’s arbitrarily imposed constraint on the extent or the essences of existence.

The declaration that "existence exists" appears to be a compound construct for the Objectivist, one that embodies a gratuitous notion: the aforementioned constraint, an idea not logically or inherently indicated by the declaration in and of itself. This constraint appears to be unrelated and preordained.

It appears to unjustifiably relegate transcendence, for example, to the realm of floating abstractions and leaves it there without any recourse whatsoever; in other words, it preemptively assumes that the idea of transcendence cannot be (1) abstracted from any demonstrable base of knowledge proceeded by an integrated, conceptual hierarchy and (2) has no referent in the perceptual level of existence.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve incinerated this stolen concept, which holds the concept of proof hostage as an irreducible primary.

If this constraint is a corollary of sensory perception, one wonders what the limitations of sensory perception in and of themselves have to do with the ontological problem of being in and of itself. The answer: nothing, really.

These are two categorically distinct things. Indeed, they are incongruently distinct. We have the idea of sensory perception “here,” and “way over there, above and beyond,” we have ontology. We have, in other words, what appears to be a constraint placed on reality that does not follow from the limitations of sensory perception at all. Instead, we have a mere precondition attached to reality with a strip of willy-nilly tape—one that presumes a static evaluation of the physical realm of being without any regard for the very real problem of origin.

It cannot be said that sensory perception, the sum of the mere “nuts and bolts” of a mechanical apparatus, perceives this constraint. That would be absurd, for this constraint is a notion, an idea, an abstraction. It’s not an object of perception. Consciousness would have to be the force behind the busy fingers which imagine this constraint and attach to reality. In short, it’s an abstraction that doesn’t necessarily follow from the percept on which it’s predicated: namely, the limitations of sensory perception.

November 11, 2012 6:35 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

That should be "bits . . . that . . . apply.

November 11, 2012 6:37 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

continued . . .

Ontologically, it would appear that Objectivism doesn’t assert the primacy of existence after all, but the primacy of consciousness: the Objectivist thinks to wave the problem of origin out of existence with a magic wand composed of the limitations of sensory perception.

(It should be noted, however, that this argument in no way undermines Objectivism’s idea that existence has primacy over consciousness with regard to the science of knowledge, i.e., epistemology.)
______________________________

Also, for the Objectivist what is the substance of realty and its existents precisely?

General terms, like physical, material, empirical, natural, that are commonly used and understood as descriptive referents of the known cosmos seem to be sources of tension or, to some extent, problematical. Surely “all of this” is nothing more than a matter involving the definition of terms.

November 11, 2012 6:39 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

The parenthetical caveat in the above should read: "It should be noted, however, that this argument in no way undermines Objectivism’s idea that existence has primacy over consciousness with regard to the science of knowledge, i.e., epistemology . . . insofar as immanently based instances of consciousness are concerned."

November 11, 2012 6:47 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Michael,

How do you know what the bible says is true?

Maybe this will help cut through the verbiage and help get to the point.

November 11, 2012 6:49 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

continued . . .

As for my side of things, beginning with the immanent . . .

The first book of the Pentateuch or Torah (Genesis) begins with the statement that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. . . .” The term “heaven” in this instance either refers to the cosmos at large or, roughly, to our solar system. In other words, it’s not known beyond dispute whether the biblical narrative begins sometime after the creation of the space-time continuum or at the very moment of its creation.

For further clarification on this, see: http://michaeldavidrawlings1.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-mountain-of-nothin-out-of-somethin-or.html

However, it’s clear from both the Old and New Testaments that Judeo-Christianity holds that the cosmos is contingently finite, i.e., did not always exist, but was at sometime in the distant past created ex nihilo by God, despite the recent “scholarship” of liberal theologians which asserts that the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo was contrived by Second-Century Christians. This scholarship, among other things, merely confounds the early systematic works of Christian theology with the origin of the concept, as it inexplicably disregards the scriptural justifications given by the authors of these early works. More accurately, this scholarship, when it bothers to acknowledge these justifications, alleges that the early Christian theologians misunderstood the nature of these scriptural declarations..

Hmm.

It would seem that a whole lot of misunderstanding was goin’ on then, given the sheer volume of the apparent support for this concept: Isaiah 40:21; Proverbs 8:22-26; Isaiah 44:6, 48:12 and Revelations 1:8; Isaiah 44:24, 45:18, 46:9; Psalm 33:6-9; Romans 11:36; I Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16-20; Revelations 4:11; John 1:1-3; Ps 102:25-27 and Heb 1:10-12; Hebrews 11:33, Romans 4:17 and 2 Peter 3:5.

(A few of these references might require further explication, as their relevance to the concept of creatio ex nihilo are extrapolations that necessarily obtain given the context and the attributes of divinity according to Judeo-Christianity. Let me know if that's the case.)

In Judeo-Christianity the immanent realm of being is the physical cosmos and all that’s contained therein. The substance or the essence of the immanent realm is material, empirical or natural; i.e., it consists of matter and energy, that which is immediately, though not always directly, accessible to the constituents of the various apparatuses of sensory perception that reside within it.

Currently, it appears to adhere to a four-dimensional structure, including three spatial dimensions and the dimension of time. It’s thought to have been a ten-dimensional expanse during the embryonic stage of its development. It’s approximately 14 billion light-years old, and it’s thought to be more than 150 billion light-years in diameter and expanding at an accelerated rate.

What lies beyond its expanse, if anything, is unknown, a mystery really, as the issue appears to involve the relational concept of location—a reference to something else. Where’s the cosmos located or situated in the larger scheme of things? Is that question even meaningful? given that it appears to be a problem that’s infinitely irresolvable. I Don’t know. It seems to be valid in some sense and absurd at the same time. But that’s just me getting weirdly curious and as precise as I know how to be at this stage of human knowledge about the immanent realm of being.

Obviously, beyond the fundamentals of origin and purpose, the ideas regarding our current state of knowledge are not contained in the Bible.

While the Bible does make a number of empirical claims, these are few. Among other things, God created man to govern and tend to the affairs of the Earth and its contents; He leaves the details of scientific investigation and discovery to us.

November 11, 2012 9:04 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

continued . . .

The ancients had no inkling as to the vastness of the universe in which they lived. Certainly what they could divine boggled their minds even within the constraints of their primitive technology. Their technology, of course, at the time of the writing of the Torah, was nothing more other than the unaided apparatus of sensory perception with regard to astronomical concerns. Imagine what they would have made of the vacuum of quantum mechanics, particles at the subatomic level randomly jumping in and out of existence. The Big Bang. The exertions of dark matter and dark energy on the perceptible fabric and forces and contents of the cosmos. Empty space, a substance of sorts after all with a force of its own. What the?! We’re scratching our heads. The more we know, the weirder things get. The more we learn, the less we know. Each new answer raises a multitude of new questions.

Meanwhile, back in the geocentric realm of the ancients, the world was flat, literally supported by pillars anchored in the foundations of the Earth below. Sheol was a physical place residing at some depth beneath their feet. Below the foundations of the Earth, resided the waters of the great deep. The heavens were enclosed within a spherical dome, equipped with massive “flood gates” that periodically swung open to let in the rain, that is, the waters of the firmament stored above the heavens in the space between the spherical enclosure of the heavens and a spherical outer shell. These waters were continuously replenished by the waters of the great deep below. The Moon, the stars, the Sun, the solar system, the entire cosmos!—all of these things were thought to reside within the inner enclosure above the Earth, with the entire spherical structure suspended by the hand of God whose Heaven of heavens lay beyond.

See link: http://io9.com/5586362/a-scientific-diagram-of-the-ancient-hebrew-cosmos

Now read Genesis with the description and the picture depicting the ancient Hebrews cosmology in mind and watch it jump out at you, literally just so. This is precisely how they imagined things to be. Though wrong, their cosmology was rather ingenious, really, given the level of their calculi and means of discernment.

Before moving on to the transcendent, I'll wait to address the issues these last few posts raise.

November 11, 2012 9:30 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Michael,

Thank you for all your comments. I had a really busy day at work yesterday, and it promises to be a very busy week as some new projects are in the mill. But I was eager to check out your latest posts, and soon as I got home I printed them out so that I could review them more closely.

I’m sorry to say that I won’t have time today to cover everything you’ve stated. But perhaps that’s not even necessary. I will speak on a few matters below which are in my view the most important at this point in the discussion.

In your point #6, you write: “What’s wrong with the assertion that existence has primacy over all consciousness? It’s not true. And this inherent contradiction you keep alluding to with regard to the ontological duality of Judeo-Christianity is a mirage. At a glance I grasp that, and I’m amazed that you don’t.”

Numerous issues here, but I’ll try to keep my response brief.

1) I will be expecting some argumentation at some point for you to support your contention that “it’s not true” that existence has primacy over all consciousness. I have seen zero support for this in anything you’ve written so far. And wouldn’t it be ironic if any support you do cite for this, if you do cite any, will only confirm the primacy of existence? After all, facts are what you need to support a contention. But facts are mind-independent phenomena; they cohere entirely with the primacy of existence as Objectivism understands it.

2) As for the inherent contradiction within a worldview which seats itself on the primacy of consciousness (e.g., Christianity et al.), I have to admit that I did not clearly grasp it “at a glance,” not fully anyhow. But I wasn’t contented with first impressions, Michael. I explored the issue. I examined the nature of the claim in depth (the writings I’ve published on my blog and my website are a testament to this), and now that I do understand matters better, I recognize “the impossibility of the contrary” (as Bahnsen & co. would put it). The primacy of consciousness literally is impossible, and affirming it does result in contradiction. But take your time. Don’t be content with first impressions “at a glance.” Do some pondering on it. Do some experimenting. Continue your research. Be willing to learn new things. And consider the implications of everything you discover. It’s a fascinating journey. But be prepared for some unexpected insights. It can get pretty intense for some folks. Maybe too intense.

[continued…]

November 12, 2012 3:01 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Regarding reality and existence:

You have stated that Objectivism has “arbitrarily imposed [a] constraint on the extent or the essences of existence,” but you do not support this characterization with direct citation. So it is unclear where you’re getting this idea or why you think it accurately represents what Objectivism teaches. In fact, you voice this concern right after admitting that your understanding of what Objectivism means by ‘reality’ or ‘existence’ “seems to be a bit hazy to say the least.” Later I hope to have time to get some more information to you on this, so that your fuzziness does not persist. It should help, but it will have to wait.

Fundamentally, however, I think you’re making a serious mistake in your characterization of Objectivism. Objectivism does not set any constraint on what existence can or must be at the level of the axioms ‘existence exists’. This is simply a fundamental recognition; it is not stipulative in any way, including in the manner that your objection requires.

The axiom ‘existence exists’ makes no statement, affirmative or deleterious, about “the transcendent” or “the transcendence.” ‘Existence exists’ is an axiom, a general recognition at the base of knowledge. Such notions as you have introduced are simply not available for consideration at the level of an axiom. Objectivism holds, as Peikoff put it, “Existence exists—and only existence exists” (“The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy,” Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 109). But even this qualified expression of the axiom is not affirmed at the axiomatic level itself. It is only available later, after proposed alternatives to existence have surfaced and been dispelled.

So it is not the case that the axiom ‘existence exists’ is some “compound construct” in the sense that you have described. Keep in mind that Objectivism does not posture itself as being “deducible” from the axioms. The axioms perform a constraining function, but this is not to be conflated with the supposition that they are arbitrarily constraining things at the outset. There is nothing arbitrary in recognizing the fact that there is a reality and that one is conscious of things around him. So there’s no arbitrariness here at all. There is no “preordained” constraint here; there couldn’t be at the level of an axiom. Objectivism is extremely careful about things like this.

All this is to say, in short, there’s a lot more to Objectivism’s critique of theism than merely the affirmation of its founding axiom ‘existence exists’. Indeed, a lot more!

Objectivism can and does make evaluative pronouncements about notions like “the transcendence,” “the supernatural,” and other mystical notions, but not at the level of the axioms. I am repeating this so that it sinks in, since you have charged that Objectivism “preemptively assumes” things about the idea of “transcendence.” It doesn’t do this, and I challenge you to locate an instance of this in the Objectivist corpus. Don’t be surprised if you’re mistaken about this.

But you’re right – if Objectivism did make the kinds of constraining contentions that concern *at the level of the axiom ‘existence exists’*, it would constitute a stolen concept – but not because it would “hold the concept of proof hostage as an irreducible primary,” but simply because it would be assuming knowledge that is not yet available at the axiomatic level of cognition. Simple as that. Again, Objectivism is very careful not to do this. It would be an elementary blunder that even a publisher could point out before the manuscript ever got to the press!

[continued…]

November 12, 2012 3:02 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You also wrote: “"It should be noted, however, that this argument in no way undermines Objectivism’s idea that existence has primacy over consciousness with regard to the science of knowledge, i.e., epistemology . . . insofar as immanently based instances of consciousness are concerned." (Emphasis yours)

If by “immanently based instances of consciousness” you mean at least “human consciousness,” then this takes us back to the razor I had indicated earlier: if the primacy of existence is true in the case of human consciousness, then human epistemology must be consistent with the primacy of existence. This is an example of how the primacy of existence provides a constraining function on knowledge without “preemptively assuming” any conclusions about specific claims before the relevant facts of the matter have been identified and considered. The primacy of existence is a fundamental principle, and fundamental principles have a delineating as well as guiding function. I can perceive a pizza sitting on my dining room table, and I can imagine one sitting on top of my television set. The primacy of existence helps me understand, once I’ve learned about the distinction between perception and imagination, that the one I perceive is real and the one that I imagine is not real. But this outcome of inquiry was not “preemptively assumed” by the principle in question.

So if you concede that the primacy of existence applies, you’re on Objectivism’s turf.

I will have to stop here for now.

Regards,
Dawson

November 12, 2012 3:02 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Dawson,

Just wondering, as I don't recall it from what I've read about Objectivism thus far: does Rand employ the law of excluded middle, the exhaustive expression of the law of identity's and non-contradiction's joint aspect, in her refutation of epistemological or ethical relativism, given that they attempt to insert the absurd?

November 12, 2012 3:40 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

You write: "In fact, you voice this concern right after admitting that your understanding of what Objectivism means by ‘reality’ or ‘existence’ “seems to be a bit hazy to say the least.” Later I hope to have time to get some more information to you on this, so that your fuzziness does not persist. It should help, but it will have to wait."

That would be helpful. Thank you.


You write: "Fundamentally, however, I think you’re making a serious mistake in your characterization of Objectivism. Objectivism does not set any constraint on what existence can or must be at the level of the axioms ‘existence exists’. This is simply a fundamental recognition; it is not stipulative in any way. . . ."

I agree, that would have to be the case . . . logically. Hence, my point. But I’ll allow that "my characterization" is off, as you say, that this declaration in and of itself is not a compound construct in the sense that I propose.


You write: "There is nothing arbitrary in recognizing the fact that there is a reality and that one is conscious of things around him."

No argument there. Hence, as you say, "there’s a lot more to Objectivism’s critique of theism than merely the affirmation of its founding axiom ‘existence exists’. Indeed, a lot more!"

Good. There would have to be "a lot more!"


You write: "Objectivism can and does make evaluative pronouncements about notions like 'the transcendence,' 'the supernatural,' and other mystical notions, but not at the level of the axioms. I am repeating this so that it sinks in. . . ."

I'm listening.


You write: "There is no 'preordained' constraint here; there couldn’t be at the level of an axiom."

Indeed. Agree.


You write: "Don’t be surprised if you’re mistaken about this."

As I said, there would have to be more to Objectivism's repudiation of the existence of the transcendent than a self-evident assertion on which both an atheist and a theist can readily agree. So, no, I won't be surprised, but I’m skeptical about how this "more" of yours could be beyond reproach.


You write: "But you’re right – if Objectivism did make the kinds of constraining contentions that concern *at the level of the axiom ‘existence exists’*, it would constitute a stolen concept – but not because it would 'hold the concept of proof hostage as an irreducible primary'. . . ."

No. It wouldn't, not based on that kind of error, but my contention in this instance isn’t predicated on that.

It's predicated on the idea that perhaps Objectivism proposes to "relegate transcendence, for example, to the realm of floating abstractions and leave it there without any recourse whatsoever; in other words, [perhaps] it . . . assumes that the idea of transcendence (1) cannot be abstracted from any demonstrable base of knowledge proceeded by an integrated, conceptual hierarchy and (2) has no basis in the perceptual level of existence."

If that is the case, I assure you, it would be attempting "to hold the concept of proof hostage as an irreducible primary."


(Note: the original should have read "basis," not "referent," as I began to compose the thought with a different approach in mind, changed my mind and failed to strike “referent” and replace it with “basis.” I didn’t notice that ’till now.)

I think you’ll agree that there’s no need to respond to any of this directly. Save time. Read it. Be aware of where we’re at. Proceed.


November 12, 2012 5:32 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

However, this does require a response. . . .

You write: "Such notions as you have introduced are simply not available for consideration at the level of an axiom."

What notions do you mean, and why aren’t they "available for consideration at the level of an axiom"?

November 12, 2012 5:34 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Dawson,

Got your message. It's fine. No need to rush. I've got a lot on my plate on this end too.

November 13, 2012 7:29 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

I got up extra early this morning so that I could get some responses to you... (But bear with me please, I'm still undercaffeinated!)

You asked: “Just wondering, as I don't recall it from what I've read about Objectivism thus far: does Rand employ the law of excluded middle, the exhaustive expression of the law of identity's and non-contradiction's joint aspect, in her refutation of epistemological or ethical relativism, given that they attempt to insert the absurd?”

As for specifics of what she stated in regard to relativism, I’d have to do some reviewing myself. But generally speaking, one of Rand’s approaches focused on relativism’s denial of facts and absolutes, its characterization of reality as some kind of “goo” (her word) that can be revised at will, etc., noting that such views are actually self-refuting and pointing out that, if there are any facts (such as the “facts” such views must eventually affirm on their own behalf, whether real or imagined), then such views are simply inadmissible. Such a view begins in conflict with its own position.

Also, Rand held that propositions could be either true or false, but she also noted that many thinkers affirm what she called the arbitrary. Truth and falsehood have to do with correspondence to reality (the former successfully corresponds to reality and the latter attempts to but fails at some point) while the arbitrary has no correspondence to reality and is not actually concerned with correspondence to reality (which is why pointing to facts which would obviate an arbitrary position are ignored by those who insist on embracing the arbitrary). Rand held that arbitrary ideas do not need to be considered seriously by rational thinkers for purposes of refuting them; she certainly did not accept the notion that thinkers have any kind of obligation or “duty” to debunk them.

For further information, you might check out the following entries on the online version of the Ayn Rand Lexicon:

Arbitrary

pragmatism

[continued…]

November 13, 2012 1:20 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Previously you had written: “I need to know precisely what ‘realty’ or ‘existence’ means to the Objectivist. My understanding of that seems to be a bit hazy to say the least. “

I’m hoping Peikoff will help here, whom I quote at length:

“We begin as philosophers where we began as babies, at the only place there is to begin: by looking at the world. As philosophers, however, we know enough to state, as we look at anything: it is. This (I am pointing to a table) is. That (pointing to a person seated at it) is. These things (sweeping an arm to indicate the contents of the whole room) are. Something exists.

“We start with the irreducible fact and concept of existence – that which is.

“The first thing to say about that which is is simply: it is. As Parmenides in ancient Greece formulated the principle: what is, is. Or, in Ayn Rand’s words: existence exists. (“Existence” here is a collective noun, denoting the sum of existents.) This axiom does not tell us anything about the nature of the existents; it merely underscores the fact that they exist….

“The concept of “existence” is the widest of all concepts. It subsumes everything – every entity, action, attribute, relationship (including every state of consciousness) – everything which is, was, or will be. The concept does not specify that a physical world exists. As the first concept at the base of knowledge, I covers only what is known, implicitly if not explicitly, by the gamut of the human race, from the newborn baby or the lowest savage on through the greatest scientist and the most erudite sage. All of these know equally the fundamental fact that there is something, something as against nothing.” (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pp. 4-5)

None of this should be taken as a definition of the concept ‘existence’. Most concepts are defined in terms of prior or more fundamental concepts, concepts which are found on lower, preceding rungs of the conceptual hierarchy. In the case of certain concepts, such as those referring to sensations and axiomatic concepts, there are no prior or more fundamental concepts to inform them. So we cannot define the concept ‘existence’ in terms of more fundamental concepts. We can describe it, as Peikoff does, indicating what its units of reference are and pointing out its fundamentality in relation to all knowledge, but we can only define them ostensively. Similarly we cannot define the concept ‘blue’ in terms of more fundamental concepts.

Check out one online dictionary’s entry for ‘blue’: “the pure color of a clear sky; the primary color between green and violet in the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 450 and 500 nm.”

Here we have an ostensive definition by way of comparison (to a clear sky), another comparison to other colors, and then a scientific description involving a very complex method of measurement. Each of these methods involve concepts, but the concepts involved here are not more fundamental on the conceptual hierarchy.

[continued…]

November 13, 2012 1:20 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Similarly with the concept ‘existence’. The same dictionary does not define ‘existence’ in terms of prior or more fundamental concepts:

1. the state or fact of existing; being.
2. continuance in being or life; life: a struggle for existence.
3. mode of existing: They were working for a better existence.
4. all that exists: Existence shows a universal order.
5. something that exists; entity; being.

In three of the five entries here, we see the word ‘being’, which is essentially synonymous; it is as fundamental as the concept ‘existence’. At no point do we have a definition in terms of more fundamental concepts; there are no more fundamental concepts.

Reality is the realm of existence. It is existence considered as a whole as contrasted with what can be categorized as unreal. It too is fundamental, but it is contextually nuanced by a purposeful perspective. It emphasizes actuality as opposed to non-actuality – e.g., fantasy, imagination, delusion, etc.

The concept ‘universe’ is another collective noun denoting existence as a sum totality: The universe is everything that exists considered as a whole. Since the universe is everything that exists, there is nothing that can exist outside the universe. “Outside” the universe has no referents other than what we can imagine, and even then, if one posits what one imagines as actually existing, if it truly exists, it would be part of the universe. Notice that this is not an attempt to stipulate what the contents of the universe are; rather, the concept ‘universe’ serves a legitimate conceptual need – the need to treat all of existence as a sum totality.

Naturally there’s much more to be said about these very unique and fascinating concepts. But I don’t want to overload you, and perhaps you’ll have additional questions which will help bring out additional relevant data.

[continued…]

November 13, 2012 1:20 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: "Such notions as you have introduced are simply not available for consideration at the level of an axiom."

You asked: “What notions do you mean, and why aren’t they ‘available for consideration at the level of an axiom’?”

Those would be notions like ‘the transcendent’ or ‘the transcendence’, or “supernatural,” etc. (btw, the first two I specified in the preceding sentence). They would not be available for consideration at the level of an axiom because they are not conceptually fundamental, nor do they denote things which we perceive firsthand (like colors).

When you eventually get around to defining these terms, we will see that you need the axiomatic concepts already in place and likely several if not many other concepts as well, in order to inform them and distinguish them from other things. Of course, your definitions could consist of mere negations, in which case we still need the axioms, as well as any concepts you use to perform the negating. All of this will only validate my point.

Regards,
Dawson

November 13, 2012 1:21 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

You wrote: “It's predicated on the idea that perhaps Objectivism proposes to "relegate transcendence, for example, to the realm of floating abstractions and leave it there without any recourse whatsoever; in other words, [perhaps] it . . . assumes that the idea of transcendence (1) cannot be abstracted from any demonstrable base of knowledge proceeded by an integrated, conceptual hierarchy and (2) has no basis in the perceptual level of existence."

A couple points:

First, if upon examination the notion “transcendence” turns out to be a floating abstraction, don’t blame Objectivism for this. Objectivism is not the author of this notion. If an idea is proposed and upon analysis we discover that it has no objective tie to reality, it is not proper to hold those who did not originate the idea in the first place responsible for this outcome. It’s like any other datum we encounter in the world: we can either identify it and allow the details of what we discover about its identity in the broader context of our knowledge determine what we do next, or we can ignore it. Or, we can accept certain illicit premises and evade the responsibility of objective inquiry. There are different options here. An Objectivist is going to take the first: identify and integrate.

Second, can you make a clarification? In your point (1) above, you write “cannot be abstracted from any demonstrable base of knowledge proceeded by an integrated, conceptual hierarchy.” Since the participle “proceeded” here is passive and qualifies the noun phrase “any demonstrable base of knowledge,” do you mean “preceeded” here? This would make more sense in my mind.

Third, I am not yet in a position to evaluate *your* conception of “the transcendence,” since I have yet to see it. But if it cannot be *reduced* to the perceptual level of knowledge (as legitimate concepts can be), then it will turn out to be a floating abstraction. Just to be clear, I’ll quote Peikoff on what a floating abstraction is:

“This is Ayn Rand's term for concepts detached from existents, concepts that a person takes over from other men without knowing what specific units the concepts denote. A floating abstraction is not an integration of factual data; it is a memorized linguistic custom representing in the person's mind a hash made of random concretes, habits and feelings that blend imperceptibly into other hashes which are the content of other, similarly floating abstractions. The 'concepts' of such a mind are not cognitive devices. They are parrotlike imitations of language backed in essence by patches of fog.” (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 96)

[continued…]

November 13, 2012 2:07 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Your task, Michael, when you do start to speak more about what you mean by “the transcendence” or whatever you call it, will be to demonstrate its tie to reality without contradicting any known knowledge and without breaching the primacy of existence (which we already know applies in the case of “human consciousness” – remember the little razor I told you about?). Some questions will help guide your course in this:

What do you mean by “the transcendence”? What does it denote? If it denotes a concrete or set of concretes (i.e., it denotes things which really exist, not simply other abstractions which in turn have to be reduced to the perceptual level of knowledge), by what means do you have awareness of that concrete or concretes? How did you discover it? How did you identify what you call “the transcendence” as what you have identified it to be? Was some kind of measurement involved? Did you form a concept to denote it? If there is only one sui generis concrete denoted by “the transcendence,” what justifies the formation of a concept to denote it (as opposed to a proper name)? What measurements were omitted, and why? If it is actually a proper name instead of a concept uniting two or more units, what is it naming? Also, what prophylactic measures did you apply (and what are currently still in place) to ensure against error? How can I as an outsider to your experience distinguish what you call “the transcendence” from something you may only be imagining? How can I have awareness of the same thing you’re talking about? And once you’ve indicated how, how can I be sure I’m aware of what you’re aware of? Etc., etc. There are many, many issues here that you will need to address.

These are not the Objectivist’s problems, Michael. We are not the ones who are affirming the reality of something we call “the transcendence,” and we are not affirming the existence of anything which will leave these questions unsatisfied.

Hopefully you're starting to see what is philosophically important to an Objectivist.

Regards,
Dawson

November 13, 2012 2:07 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

Dawson,

I understand the processes of sound knowledge, the proper course of integration, beginning with concretes at the base of knowledge, with each new inference or abstraction directly linked to the previous. Judeo-Christianity insists on it.

But you need to appreciate that according to Judeo-Christianity truth is from God and no other. True knowledge is analogical. The believer's reasoning is analogical, the non-believer's, univocal.

I have a very good reason for going into the sort of detail that I did with regard to the construct of creatio ex nihilo (anchored in scripture), the fact of the immanent realm’s existence, it's essence and extent, the detailed state of our current knowledge as compared to that of the ancients (the latter anchored in scripture). As we examine the transcendence, I will be drawing from these facts and their implications as I expound the Bible’s metaphysics and epistemology.

But first, I need to absorb what you've written in response. I don't have the time to do that right now. I merely scanned over it to get the gist. Once I have done that, I will begin.

Do you have anything else before I do that?

November 13, 2012 4:11 PM  
Blogger Michael David Rawlings, a.k.a. "Bluemoon" said...

I will be getting back to you tomorrow. Got my hands full with my Mother's problems right now.

November 15, 2012 12:47 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Ydemoc

I just looked over Dan Marvin's critique of the objectivist primary argument from existence. He makes my brain hurt from the pain of his stupidity. I lost count of his sophomoric logical fallacies. I don't know how you can even stand to deal with him.

November 15, 2012 4:48 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Hi Justin,

You wrote, regarding Dan: "I don't know how you can even stand to deal with him."

Well, first and foremost, I get a kick out of responding to some of his stuff. Also, in answering him, it gives me an opportunity to revisit material written by Rand, Peikoff, Kelly, Dawson, Perkins, Dreamweaver, Grames, et al. And this is especially valuable, because not only do I end up discovering new things, but it allows me to study, understand, and integrate stuff that I may not have done so the first time around.

Secondarily, I do so with the hope that any Christians or fence sitters looking on will take note and investigate the material for themselves.

Ydemoc

November 15, 2012 5:55 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Ydemoc,

Have any real philosophy I can read?

November 15, 2012 7:27 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Justin,

It's a lovely world. isn't it?

November 15, 2012 7:29 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Hey Ydemoc have you heared about this guy, John Freshwater. This is the creationist nutt bag teacher that burned a cross into a student's arm! Looks like he finally got fired but what I want to know is why assault charges were not filed. You can read about it here

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-6120032-504083.html

November 16, 2012 12:44 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Hi Justin,

I've never heard of this guy. I'll check out the link.

By the way, I'm sure we could do this all day long, but I saw a link to a video on this guy over on Loftus' blog a few months back:

"Pastor accused of having sex with minor faces 10 years in jail"

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-20/news/chi-pastor-accused-of-having-sex-with-minor-faces-10-years-in-jail-20120920_1_plea-agreement-pastor-indiana-megachurch

Here is the link I originally saw, showing him in action on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr0UpQXYkGs

Ydemoc

November 16, 2012 1:58 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Justin,

Well, I just read that story. And you're right -- I'm not sure either, why this guy wasn't charged with a crime.

Ydemoc

November 16, 2012 3:09 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

I appreciate you’re busy and that you’re hands are full with your mother. I’m in a similar situation – I have some new projects at work and yesterday I had to take my daughter to the doctor – she picked up something from school. Life sets its priorities for us.

I have posted a new entry on my blog summarizing portions of our discussion and also replying to you last response to me. The entry can be found here: My Discussion with Michael Rawlings.

I created this blog entry for two reasons: One, the comments on this blog entry are getting way too long (soon to reach 200), and two, I needed to post something new for the month of November. So we can continue the discussion on the new blog once you have some free time (and I likewise).

Okay, I have to run. My wife’s friend is getting married today, so our attendance is requested.

Regards,
Dawson

November 16, 2012 5:31 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Hello Friends. Here's my take based on some of Michael Martin's arguments against omniscience found in Chapter 12 of "Atheism: A Philosophical Justification."

Charles Jackson claims: “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.”

The Christian God can't be all-knowing for several reasons. First, knowledge can be divided into categories: propositional knowledge held in conceptual form, knowledge of how to do actions, knowledge by acquaintance. As the Christian God doesn’t have a physical body, it can’t have knowledge of any action requiring a body. Thus no form of disembodied consciousness can be “all-knowing”.

Secondly, the Christian God is alleged to be morally perfect such that it can’t know lust, envy, greed, hate, or the pleasures obtained from getting revenge against an enemy. But human beings know all these feelings and are acquainted with them, and an “all-knowing” omniscient consciousness must logically possess and cannot fail to have all knowledge that non-omniscient beings have. Thus an “all-knowing” omniscient consciousness that is morally perfect cannot exist.

Thirdly, the Christian God and human beings are alleged to have contra-casual free volitional will such that all decisions made by humans and the Christian God are uncaused by any prior state of affairs. The Christian God then cannot know what its future decisions will be, nor can it know what any human’s future decisions may be. Thus the Christian God cannot know what decision it will uncasually make in response to any uncaused action of any human. Additionally, the Christian God cannot inductively infer what it most probably will decide in response to the uncaused decisions of any human because this presupposed the uniformity of nature, but the Christian God cannot know it’s future uncaused decisions regarding whether it will forebear performing or will perform a magic miracle intervention into the realm of nature. Thus no form of consciousness having contra-casual free volitional will can be “all-knowing” and hence cannot exist.

January 22, 2013 6:27 AM  
Blogger David Eriol Hickman said...

“This is Ayn Rand's term for concepts detached from existents, concepts that a person takes over from other men without knowing what specific units the concepts denote. A floating abstraction is not an integration of factual data; it is a memorized linguistic custom representing in the person's mind a hash made of random concretes, habits and feelings that blend imperceptibly into other hashes which are the content of other, similarly floating abstractions. The 'concepts' of such a mind are not cognitive devices. They are parrotlike imitations of language backed in essence by patches of fog.” (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 96)

''Men become superstitious not because they have no imagination but because they are not aware that they have any.'' Santayana

August 26, 2014 8:56 AM  

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