Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Vindication of My Argument Against Theism from Rick Warden's Ill-fated Maneuvers

Rick Warden has attempted another refutation of my argument. He already tried once and failed (see here). Then, after seeing that his attempted refutation of my argument failed, Warden requested “a summary of the specific premises and logical syntax of the argument,” which can only serve as an admission that when he attempted his initial refutation, he did so without knowing what my argument’s premises are. I recommend that Warden adopt the policy of “look before you leap.” It might save him some skinned knees.
Or maybe it won’t. You see, I honored Warden’s request by posting a new blog entry in which I lay out my case in the form of three arguments, all with neat and tidy premises arranged in valid form. And now Warden has attempted to refute this in a new blog post of his own.

I’m afraid neither correcting Warden’s previous mistakes nor laying out the premises and conclusion of my argument has been helpful for him, for he continues to repeat the same mistakes that have already been identified and corrected. Seriously, it’s as though he is missing some very basic integrating skills.

Even though I laid out my premises and their logical relationships explicitly, Warden does not directly interact with my premises, save for one (and even then in a most futile manner). The upshot is that at no point can Warden show that any of my premises are false. Thus he attempts to find some informal fallacies that my argument allegedly commits. Unfortunately, this effort also fails, as I will show below. But just to be clear: Not one of my arguments’ premises has been refuted or disproven by anything Warden has written in his latest blog.

In that blog, Warden wrote:
Dawson’s premise, Step 2-P2-1 is not in keeping with all the relevant characteristics of the God described in scripture.
Really? How? Here’s P2-1:
P2-1: If theism affirms the existence of a being which can create existence by an act of will, alter the nature of objects which are distinct from itself by an act of will, and/or cause such objects to act by an act of will, then theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.
How is this “not in keeping with all the *relevant* characteristics of the God described in scripture”? (emphasis added) Warden’s god is supposed to be a conscious being, is it not? This is what is relevant to my argument since my argument has to do with the nature of the relationship believers claim their god has with objects distinct from itself (such as the universe, and everything in it, that it is said to have created by an act of will).

So how is that not relevant to my argument? Or, does Warden think that his god is not conscious to begin with? The “scripture” he mentions is presumably the Christian bible, including the Old and New Testaments. All indicators that I can find are that this god is supposed to be a conscious being.

Warden wrote:
Theism affirms the existence of a being known as ‘God’ who is eternal who can neither logically nullify Himself out of existence nor create Himself ex nihilo.
Fine, but irrelevant. Where precisely is any point in my argument “not in keeping” with the relevant matter at hand as described in “scripture”? Where, for example, is my argument “not in keeping” with the claim that the Christian god is *eternal*? Where is my argument “not in keeping” with the view that the Christian god “can neither logically nullify Himself out of existence nor create Himself ex nihilo”? Warden made these mistakes before about my argument, and I corrected them. Unfortunately, in spite of my correction and the fact that my argument nowhere affirms or requires a non-eternal god, a god which can “logically nullify Himself out of existence,” or a god which can “create Himself ex nihilo,” Warden continues to push the same bewilderingly boneheaded mistakes. It’s as though he has read something other than what I have written, but has mistaken it for what I have written. And he says I’m straw-manning?

Warden wrote:
If God exists eternally and cannot create or destroy Himself, then in what possible manner does theism affirm a metaphysical primacy of consciousness? It does not, unless we avoid discussing ultimate reality here for theism, God’s eternal nature.
This statement is sufficient to indicate that Warden still does NOT understand the issue of metaphysical primacy. Try to get it this time: the primacy of consciousness does not mean “consciousness creates itself” or “consciousness is not eternal.” Both the view that consciousness creates itself and the view that consciousness does not create itself are compatible with the primacy of consciousness. The same with an eternal and a non-eternal consciousness. Warden is doing precisely what he has accused me of doing: overlooking relevant factors key to the intended meaning of the argument’s premises.

Here are few questions for Warden or any other theist to consider:
1. On your view, did your god create the universe by an act of will?  
2. On your view, can your god create *ANYTHING* by an act of will?  
3. On your view, when your god creates something – whether it is a pebble or Mt. Everest – does your god *determine* what identity that something will have by an act of will?  
4. On your view, can your god revise the nature of something it has created (e.g., turn water into wine) by an act of will?
A yes to any of these questions concedes the truth of Step 2 of my overall case.

Consider the words of Greg Bahnsen (Pushing the Antithesis, pp. 153-154):
…the very idea of God’s speaking reality into existence itself requires rationality.
Naturally we can assume that Bahnsen is using ‘speaking’ here metaphorically. Speaking as it is commonly understood requires a biological body, a mouth, a larynx, lungs, etc. Since the Christian god is said to be “immaterial” and “non-physical,” it surely does not have any of these. What Bahnsen essentially means is willing “reality into existence.”

See, Bahnsen is faithful to the Christian “scripture,” which describes its god creating the universe into existence by an act of will, assigning individual natures to the things in that universe by an act of will, altering or revising their natures by an act of will (e.g., turning water into wine), even having an object act in violation of its normal nature by an act of will (e.g., Peter walking on unfrozen water, raising a dead corpse back to life, etc.). These are all instances of consciousness holding metaphysical primacy over its objects. The assumption that the consciousness created itself is not necessary to any of this.

As one theist once put it to me, “God can do anything we can do in a cartoon” – e.g., red grass, 200-foot high grasshoppers, talking flowers, zapping from one place to another, etc. Thus we have what I call the cartoon universe premise of theism. Consider Van Til’s statement:
God controls whatsoever comes to pass. (The Defense of the Faith, p. 160).
How is this view compatible with the primacy of existence? How is this view NOT an expression of the primacy of consciousness?

Warden wrote:
Theist scriptures explicitly describe the primacy of the spiritual over the material,
Is “the spiritual” conscious? If “the spiritual” is conscious, then we have the primacy of consciousness – only the theist is trying to conceal it. But why? If it’s true, why conceal it with such transparent tactics? Or, would Warden say that “the spiritual” lacks consciousness? That would be a surprising turn of events – but it would only do his position harm, not mine.

Warden wrote:
…but not the conscious over the existent.
I just listed several examples above, and gave some quotes by leading apologists affirming just this. Again, I can only presume at this point either that Warden still simply does not understand what the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with, or that he is deliberately misunderstanding it. Either way, his points are ineffective against my case.

Warden wrote:
Because God is the basis of prime reality in scripture, any relevant description of what theism ‘assumes’ metaphysically must be taken into account. Dawson fails miserably in this regard.
How did I fail here? Warden’s god is supposed to be conscious, correct? Since the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects, then I have isolated the factors relevant to my argument successfully. No other factors affirmed about the Christian god’s nature affirmed by “scripture” are going to contradict other factors it affirms about its god, will they? If that were the case, Christianity’s “scripture” would be self-contradictory. So either way, Warden has no point here.

Warden wrote:
Defining the characteristics of the object of an argument (God in this case) according to one’s own biased terms and not according to all the characteristics which happen to be quite relevant and challenging to the argument is tantamount to creating a straw man argument.
But of course, my argument does not do this. Look at P2-1 again:
P2-1: If theism affirms the existence of a being which can create existence by an act of will, alter the nature of objects which are distinct from itself by an act of will, and/or cause such objects to act by an act of will, then theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.
Now here are some fundamental points to settle the matter:
a) Does theism affirm the existence of a being which can create existence by an act of will? Yes, it does. For example, Christian theism affirms the existence of a god, which is characterized as a conscious being, and which is said to have created the entire universe by an act of will.  
b) Does theism affirm the existence of a being which can alter the nature of objects which are distinct from itself by an act of will? Sure, Christian theism does. For example, Jesus (which is “god become flesh”) turns water into wine in John chapter 2. Elsewhere in “scripture” Jesus is said to have brought a dead man back to life. One minute he’s dead, the next he’s alive. Jesus does this by an act of will, not by concocting some chemical solution and injecting it into the cadaver’s veins.  
c) Does theism affirm the existence of a being which can cause objects distinct from itself to act in desired ways by an act of will? Sure, Christian theism does. It holds that “God controls whatsoever comes to pass” (Van Til). It holds that its god has a “plan” for human history, and that everything that happens in our lives has been “predetermined” (a conscious action) since before the creation of the universe (which was also by an act of consciousness).
So P2-1 is unassailably true and entirely relevant to my argument.

Warden wrote:
To ‘create existence by an act of will’ is to create ex-nihilo, from nothing. The Bible implies that God created temporal matter ex nihilo.
Exactly! Give the man a cigar! That’s the primacy of consciousness RIGHT THERE. Boom – right in front of his face. He even affirms it himself.

Warden wrote:
However, the Bible never implies that God can destroy and then create Himself in the same manner.
Which is fine and dandy. And nowhere does any premise at any point in my overall case require this.

Warden wrote:
I know of no theist who believes that God can possibly create his own existence by an act of the will.
That’s fine. But also irrelevant since my argument does not even require this, not even implicitly!

Warden wrote:
If the context of Dawson’s argument against God is supposed to pertain to all that exists, as a metaphysical and philosophical argument about the nature of reality should, then Dawson’s straw man argument is insufficient.
My argument nowhere stipulates that its premises relevant to this point must “pertain to all that exists.” If the Christian god is said to have created an apple and nothing else by an act of will, that alone is sufficient for the charge that it assumes the primacy of consciousness.

Warden wrote:
Step 2-P2-1 is false and his argument obviously fails to disprove God’s existence.
Step 2-P2-1 has been vindicated beyond all challenge. It is undeniably true, it is “in keeping with” what “scripture” affirms about its god, and it is entirely relevant to my overall case.


Next Warden wanted to find my argument guilty of “A False Dilemma Fallacy”

In this section, Warden embarrasses himself by citing (of all people) Dan Marvin in his attempts to tackle the issue of metaphysical primacy. If ever there were a competition among internet apologists for the Clown Prince of Defending the Imaginary Award, Marvin would have a good shot at winning. But I have to say, Warden is giving him a run for his money!

Warden wrote:
The objectivist primacy dichotomy is incoherent on a very basic level.
How so? Consciousness is consciousness *of some object*. When you are aware, you are aware *of something*. So there are two players involved here: (1) the conscious subject, and (2) any object(s) the conscious subject is conscious of. So there’s a relationship between the two when the subject is conscious of something. The issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with this relationship: which – the subject of consciousness or its objects – holds metaphysical primacy over the other? Do the objects of consciousness conform to or obey the dictates of consciousness? If I look at the apple sitting on my table and wish that it transform itself into a pile of hundred-dollar bills, will the object conform to my wishing? The primacy of consciousness says yes; the primacy of existence recognizes the fact that consciousness has no such power.

But as in theism, we can imagine a consciousness which *does* have such power. What faithful Christian would deny his god’s ability to turn an apple into a hundred million dollars just by willing that it be so? Would Rick Warden deny his god this ability? According to Christianity, its god created the apple in the first place and can alter it at any time, just by wishing.

Warden wrote:
Existence is a prime requisite of any conscious being that would allow for the said being to be conscious in the first place and to create from consciousness.
In other words, consciousness presupposes existence, not the other way around. This means (among other things) that existence is NOT a “creation” of consciousness. The task of consciousness is not to “create” its objects, to assign them their natures, or to alter them at will, but to perceive and identify them. Thus Objectivism is clearly right in beginning with the axiom of existence: Existence exists. It is also right in affirming the primacy of existence - e.g., the objects of consciousness do not depend on the activity of consciousness either for their existence, for their identity, for their actions, etc. Quite simply, existence exists independent of consciousness. This is the fundamental truth underwriting such obvious truisms as “wishing doesn’t make it so,” “just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not true,” or “even if you don’t believe it, it’s still true.” All of these imply and are coherent with only the primacy of existence metaphysics.

By contrast, theism rests on the view that a consciousness does hold metaphysical primacy over its objects. Its god creates objects out of nothing by an act of consciousness (an act of will); it assigns identities to the objects it creates by an act of consciousness; it can revise their identities by an act of consciousness; it can make objects perform actions which are not consistent with their normal identities by an act of will, etc. Thus theism assumes the primacy of consciousness: the objects of consciousness depend on and conform to the conscious activity of a conscious subject.

The contrast here is unmistakable. But leave it to Rick Warden to continue getting it wrong virtually every chance he gets.

Warden wrote:
If the conscious being did not exist or have the ability to come into existence without help from another existing entity, then it would obviously neither have consciousness nor the ability to hold so-called metaphysical primacy.
Needless to say, this is irrelevant to my argument. But we can say that regardless of how a particular consciousness may have come into existence, consciousness does not hold metaphysical primacy over its objects to begin with. Every example of conscious organisms that we find in nature are examples of consciousnesses modeling the primacy of existence.

Of course, as I mentioned above, we can imagine conscious beings which can zap things into existence by an act of will and assign them their identities according to its wishes. But this would be imaginary. A case in point: the Christian god.

Warden wrote:
The objectivist primacy argument incorporates a subjective and relativistic approach which focuses on limited conditions that imply support, all the while ignoring conditions that are problematic.
This is simply an unargued assertion. Warden cannot produce any sound argument to support this characterization. But consider: what possibly could “subjective” mean? Would this denote a view which affirms the primacy of the subject in the subject-object relationship? If so, how can the charge that my argument “incorporates a subjective… approach” be at all defensible when my argument is explicitly based on the primacy of the object in the subject-object relationship?

'Relativistic' typically means the view that truth can vary from individual to individual, as for example based on his preferences, his likes, his feelings, etc. But clearly such a view would reduce to the primacy of consciousness: it would be granting metaphysical primacy to the activity of consciousness over the facts of reality. But Objectivism does not take this approach. On the contrary, Objectivism is explicitly objectivistic! How can affirming the absolute primacy of existence be “relativistic”? Indeed, any objections against either subjectivism or relativism would have to take the primacy of existence for granted (even if the objector didn’t realize that he was doing so).

Now, between Objectivism and theism, which view grants metaphysical primacy to the subject in the subject-object relationship? Certainly not Objectivism; Objectivism holds explicitly that existence exists independent of consciousness. Meanwhile, Christian apologist Greg Bahnsen tells us outright that “the very idea of God speaking reality into existence itself requires rationality” (Pushing the Antithesis, pp. 153-154), which could only imply that, on Bahnsen’s Christian worldview, rationality requires the primacy of consciousness – i.e., the primacy of the subject in the subject-object relationship, i.e., subjectivism. The Christian god likes things a certain way, so everything conforms accordingly according to its “counsel” – i.e., subjective determination.

Warden wrote:
Dan [Marvin] made another good point. If there is indeed a general “primacy of consciousness” then all of us humans could wish things into existence. But we cannot. So, the more precise definition they seem to be aiming for is the primacy of God’s consciousness. But perhaps this is a little too close for comfort to the true state of affairs, which is the metaphysical primacy of God.
If Warden prefers “the metaphysical primacy of God,” the only question we need to ask, is: Is this god conscious? If yes, then we have the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. If not, then we have a god that has no mind.

Warden insists that human beings cannot “wish things into existence.” Just by saying that this is the case, he is borrowing the primacy of existence. He is not saying that this is the way things are because he wishes it to be the case. He is not saying “Human beings cannot wish things into existence because that’s how I want it to be!” On the contrary, he is making an affirmation about reality based on how reality is independent of conscious activity.

Now in regard to Marvin’s “good point,” naturally most theists do not hold that human beings have the kind of power that they imagine their god has. This of course does not mean that they do not incorporate the primacy of consciousness into their own psychology; after all, they do have prayer, and folks like Mike Licona are candid enough to come out and say about Jesus’ resurrection: “I want it to be true!” Indeed, some theists today still champion the ontological argument. And of course there’s presuppositionalism.

But the obvious answer to Marvin, from the Christian perspective itself, is that human beings cannot wish things into existence because the Christian god wished that they did not have this ability! Why do human beings have two arms? Because the Christian god, in its wise counsel, wanted it that way. Why do human beings have ears and noses? Because the Christian god wanted it that way. Why don’t human beings have wings? Because the Christian god wanted it that way. Why don’t human beings have the ability to wish things into existence? Because the Christian god wanted it that way.

So, as is so typical with apologists these days, Marvin missed the point of his own worldview! Indeed, how does either Warden or Marvin know that there is no human being out there some place with the power to wish things into existence? They don’t. On their worldview’s premises, it must be accepted as a real possibility, given the omnipotent super-consciousness their worldview has them imagine, that somewhere there is a guy or girl – perhaps many – walking around with the power to wish things into existence. In a theistic universe, who would decide this – Rick Warden and Dan Marvin, or the Christian god?

So another of Warden’s objections fails.

Next Warden accuses me of “The Fallacy of the Unsupported Assertion”

Warden wrote:
Any metaphysical argument regarding the nature of reality must begin with well-supported or self-evident claims.
My argument is more than sufficiently supported by the self-evident recognition that existence exists. Anyone who is familiar with the basics of Objectivism should know this. (Warden himself should know this since he has attempted several times, each time without success, to disprove Objectivism. He must be getting exhausted by now.)

Also, my argument assumes that truth does not conform to wishing, as I make clear early on in my blog entry. Warden cites Dan Marvin confirming this very fact. Fact do not conform to our wishing any more than the objects that inform them. This is self-evident.

Warden wrote:
In the opening premise of Dawson’s argument against God’s existence, the definition of truth presupposes that truth is derived solely from observing the material world. This definition implies and presupposes an atheist explanation of truth.
In other words, it is not an understanding of truth that Warden is willing to accept. After having just pointed out that human beings cannot wish things into existence, Warden now resists this fact’s implications for the concept of truth. Accordingly, on Warden’s view, perhaps we cannot wish things into existence, but apparently on his view this does not imply that truth obtains independently of wishing. But earlier we saw how Warden tacitly borrowed the primacy of existence just in affirming the fact that human beings cannot wish things into existence. He cannot make this affirmation on Christianity’s premises, for given its all-powerful creator-god, how can Warden know whether or not it has created human beings with this ability? So Warden borrows from Objectivism, but then when he sees that the implications of what he has borrowed from Objectivism have damning consequences for his theism, he wants to put it down right away.

By saying “this definition implies and presupposes an atheist explanation of truth,” Warden is conceding that the view that truth obtains independently of people’s wishing is atheistic and therefore incompatible with theism. I agree. But this does not imply any commitment of fallacy on the part of my argument, for my argument is entirely consistent with this truth. Warden gives away the farm without even realizing it. Talk about epic face-palming!

Warden wrote:
If God exists, then, according to Christianity, God’s eternal and unchanging nature is the fountainhead of all that we experience and is the basis of all truth.
In other words, if the Christian god exists, then the primacy of consciousness holds, and human beings cannot discover what is true about reality – “truth” has to be delivered to them by means of revelations. Reason, logic, science, experimentation, discovery, it’s all out – they would be utterly worthless if the Christian god existed. It does whatever it pleases (Ps. 115:3), and it can be pleased by virtually anything – even the destruction of humanity.

Of course, along with Warden we can fantasize alternatives to reality all we like. But in the end, we would only be retreating into our imaginations. This, however, does not give Warden any pause: as a Christian, he is so accustomed to confusing the imaginary for what is real that he is oblivious of the philosophical ramifications in terms of epistemology and the nature of knowledge and truth. Indeed, he does not even seem to know when he’s contradicted himself. Observe:

Warden wrote:
Breakthrough discoveries in quantum physics have led scientists to make statements that support this understanding of truth.
Recall that the understanding of truth that Warden wants to deny is the “atheistic explanation of truth” which is aptly characterized by the truism “wishing doesn’t make it so.” This view, Warden says, is “atheistic” and is contrasted with the view that truth is essentially whatever his god wants it to be (since his god’s consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over reality, which is what my argument has been saying all along!).

Yet earlier his objection to my premise that the Christian god models the primacy of consciousness was that it commits a straw-man – i.e., that I am mischaracterizing his theistic views. Now he wants to say there are “breakthrough discoveries in quantity physics” which “have led scientists to make statements that support” his theistic “understanding of truth” – i.e., a conception of truth that holds it hostage to the primacy of consciousness.

Well, which is it? Am I straw-manning theism when I point out its assumption of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, or is the primacy of consciousness somehow being vindicated when some scientists make statements that are interpreted to support the theistic understanding of truth (which is premised on the Christian god’s wishes and desires) as opposed to the “atheistic explanation of truth” which is characterized by the fact that wishing doesn’t make it so? Warden can’t have it both ways.

And another question: Why do Christians all of a sudden hang on some scientist’s pronouncements as if it expediently sealed a point in favor of theism, but deny the pronouncements thousands upon thousands of scientists in the case of the theory of evolution?

Warden wrote:
Materialists basically tend to assume that truth, logic and information are derived from the material world.
“…the material world…” as opposed to what? As opposed to something we can only imagine?

Good grief! How off can we be supposing that truth has something to do with the world we live in! I filled my cup with coffee two minutes ago, but it’s not true that I even have a coffee cup! Truth has nothing to do with this “material world.”

(In case Warden didn’t grasp it, I was being sarcastic here.)

Now I’m not being sarcastic: Warden would do well not to confuse Objectivism with materialism. But we’ve already seen plenty of evidence that he prefers not to do well for himself.

Warden wrote:
However, some physicists are now claiming the opposite is implied by material universe. It is not so much that information is derived from the physical world, but that physical world is derived from information. In the MIT Technology Review in an article entitled, The Foundation of Reality: Information or Quantum Mechanics?, the following quote was among the concluding statements: "All this work stems from the growing realization that it is not the laws of physics that determine how information behaves in our Universe, but the other way round." This link outlines peer reviewed articles and scientific discoveries regarding the nature of metaphysical reality in harmony with theist conceptions.
Without knowing the specifics involved, the definitions applied, the data observed, the manner in which conclusions were drawn, etc., there’s nothing anyone really needs to say here other than: What’s the point? Earlier Warden objected to my alignment of theism with the primacy of consciousness, saying that I have erected a straw man. Now he seems to be arguing for the primacy of consciousness. He’s going in reverse and thinks it’s forwards.

I will say, however, that university departments, as a result of a number of factors – e.g., philosophical bankruptcy, government funding, the erosion of reason from our culture, etc. – have been infected for decades with a lot of intellectual filth. It started in the humanities departments, but it has spread to the sciences as well. Physics was among its first victims, so we should not be surprised to find a lot of “junk science” spewing from the Ivy League. But Warden is free to lap it up all he likes.

Warden wrote:
The biblical understanding of truth includes moral truth claims. The fact is, the present leading philosophical debater in the world, William Lane Craig, holds a consistent record for winning logical debates and a foundational argument of Craig's regards the nature of objective moral truth based on defending the existence of God.
What relevance does this have to do with my argument? Who cares about “winning debates”? Is that all that concerns Warden – coming in first in some Special Olympics event? Craig’s record is well known to most of my readers, and he’s a great example of the kind of charlatan that twerking for Jesus will mercilessly turn a person into. If Craig is Warden’s hero, he can have him. While he’s cuddling at Craig’s feet, perhaps Warden can show how Christians can explain their way out of Craig’s endorsement of genocide.


Warden also charges my argument with “The Fallacy of Begging the Question”

Warden wrote:
Because Dawson’s first premise offers an unsubstantiated definition of truth that is neither universally agreed upon nor philosophically self-evident in support of his argument, he is guilty of the unsupported claim fallacy.
For one thing, universal agreement is not a test of truth. That’s because truth rests on facts which obtain independent of consciousness. But Warden doesn’t hold to this conception of truth. He wants a consensus – a social subjective compromise among those who’ve been deemed appropriately representative of the whole.

The test of my conception of truth is very simple. Just answer the following question:
Does wishing make it so?
A “no” concedes my conception of truth. A “yes” affirms a subjective conception of truth and concedes objectivity to one’s adversaries.

I’ll go with a firm ‘no, wishing does not make it so,’ and I’m happy to stick with it.

If Warden does not recognize the relevance of this conception of truth to my argument after carefully reading what I have written on the topic, it’s out of my hands.

Warden wrote:
This ties into another fallacy, begging the question. Dawson's explanation of truth in the first premise presupposes that atheism is true, the very conclusion he wishes to prove.
Warden has confused philosophical consistency with fallacy. Isn’t that charmingly ironic?

No, there’s no begging the question going on in my argument. My argument is showing how my atheism is entirely consistent with the objective conception of truth.
Warden wrote:
According to theism, truth ultimately corresponds with the ultimate reality of God's existence and the moral and personal aspects of this truth are quite relevant, as noted previously in this post with regard to winning moral arguments presented by William Lane Craig.
Craig does not win “moral arguments.” He may win “debates,” but his arguments are ultimately grounded in mysticism and thus cannot be true. Truth according to theism is what “corresponds” with “God’s good pleasure,” per Ps. 115:3 et al. Whatever the Christian god says is true, is “true” by virtue of it affirming it as such. On the Christian view, wishing does make it so. This is precisely why Warden objects to the view of truth that I have affirmed in my argument. Warden thinks truth ultimately hinges on wishing and desires. He does this in his own life as well: he wishes that the god he imagines were real, so he insists that his god-beliefs are true. The primacy of consciousness infects the entirety of the believer’s psychology, though he cannot adhere to it consistently as we have seen (such as when Warden borrows the primacy of existence every time he affirms anything as true).

On the Christian view, there really is no such thing as morality to begin with. As Van Til points out, “God controls whatsoever comes to pass” (The Defense of the Faith, p. 160), and this god itself does not face any fundamental alternative (e.g., life vs. death for man); it therefore has no objective basis for valuing anything and thus no objective basis for one choice as opposed to another. It is free to do as it pleases (Ps. 115:3). And this is what Christians say is the basis of morality? Not at all. Even the things they condemn as immoral are things that happen according to “God’s will.” Is the Christian god in control of human history, or not? Christians routinely affirm that it is. Thus when Christians object to abortion, for instance, they’re really objecting to their god’s decision to include it as part of its overall “plan” for human history. If everything that happens is all part of “God’s plan,” then abortion is part of “God’s plan.” Christians misdirect their ire when they condemn human beings for carrying out what their god has already predetermined them to do. If the Christian believer is truly morally outraged by something that takes place in “God’s creation” which he imagines his god controlling from beginning to end, he needs to take it up with his god, not with human beings who are essentially puppets performing according to an inviolable script that was written billions of years before they were born. Thus when Christians get angry at other human beings for doing things that are presumably “against God’s will,” they put on display before us all the cognitive dissonance that is inherent in trying to practice Christianity.

Warden wrote:
It’s not clear how and why Rand objectivists have come up with their false dilemma primacy dichotomy.
If something is not clear to Warden, then on what basis can he dismiss it as “false”? He clearly has not shown that the issue of metaphysical primacy is false; to do this he would have to show that there is no subject-object relationship. And yet, in order to do this, he would have to be a subject participating in relationship to certain objects. Indeed, just by saying it’s “false,” Warden is illicitly making use of the primacy of existence – that is, unless he’s saying it’s false because he wants it to be false, in which case we need only say: wishing doesn’t make it so. So Warden commits the fallacy of the stolen concept. With his concern for fallacies allegedly inhabiting my argument, why doesn’t his own commission of fallacies concern him? As Jesus is said to have stated in Mt. 7:3: “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” The hypocrisy of the theist knows no bounds.

Warden wrote:
It seems to be a desperate grasp for any narrative that could possibly be remotely utilized in an attempt to disprove God’s existence.
What exactly is Warden characterizing as “desperate”? So it is “desperate” to (a) cite the objective nature of truth (i.e., that truth rests on facts which obtain independently of wishes, wants, likes and dislikes, preferences, desires, emotions, fantasies, imagination, etc.), (b) point out that theism violates this nature (since it assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics – i.e., the view that truth conforms to wishes, wants, likes and dislikes, preferences, desires, emotions, fantasies, imagination, etc.), and (c) concludes therefore that theism cannot be true? How is any of this “desperate”? Warden does not explain. In fact, given his repeated failures to find sustainable faults in my argument, his own self-contradictory methodology, and his reliance on the fallacy of the stolen concept, I suspect that he’s deliberately using emotionally laden language to make his case look bigger than it really. (Don’t get me wrong – his failure is huge!)

Warden wrote:
It may be somehow based on the atheist preconception that conscious life on earth evolved from immaterial matter.
I challenge Warden to find any point in my argument that appeals to the theory evolution for its support. Not that it matters, but he won’t find it. Broadly speaking, my argument does not rest on any facts that would require specialized scientific knowledge to understand. Rather, it rests on facts that any ordinary person can grasp (and does so implicitly). It is quite accessible in this regard. It’s not rocket science: theism is a subjective worldview.

Warden wrote:
But we are not shown how this might possibly tie in logically to this argument. There is neither a reference to the theory of abiogenesis nor is there is there an acknowledgement that the theory is scientifically unproven and philosophically open. Darwin's quintessential 6th edition of The Origin of Species. actually presents a theist explanation of the origin of life, as outlined at this link.
No, my argument does not make references to abiogenesis or to Darwin or to parakeets or newts and salamanders. Why does Warden bring this stuff up? It has nothing to do with my argument. We saw above that he cannot deal with it on its own terms.


Lastly, Warden wanted to charge me with something he calls “Atheist Presuppositionalism”

Warden wrote:
I have to point out the irony that Dawson’s blog is entitled, “Incinerating Presuppositionalism” when it is quite obvious that Dawson’s favored “objectivist” argument is fraught with subjective atheist presuppositions.
Such as?

Indeed, what does Warden mean by “subjective”? What possible objection could he, given his commitments to theistic mysticism, have against something that is subjective? Warden does not explain. He uses the word for its connotative effect rather than its denotative value. But it doesn’t work since he cannot make it stick.

Warden wrote:
It seems as though Dawson sincerely believes his argument proves that God does not exist. This is strong evidence that spiritual blindness is a very real and present condition.
I have presented a three-step argument in syllogistic form, per Warden’s request. The arguments I have presented are formally valid. Warden has failed to find any premise in any of my arguments false. He has insisted that I have erected a straw-man, only to go and affirm his worldview’s commitment to the primacy of consciousness (as he has done before). Now that he has failed to bring any sustainable objection against my argument, he wants to say there’s something wrong with me “spiritually” – as though I were metaphysically defective. But if that were the case, it would not do to scold me for this, for according to Warden’s Christian worldview, I am what the Christian god has chosen me to be. I’m just a puppet in a cartoon universe according to Christianity. So if Warden doesn’t like the state of affairs present in reality, he is wrong to get his gaggles up at me. According to his worldview, I’m simply doing what I’ve been predestined since before human history to do.

Warden wrote:
In contrast to a philosophical argument fraught with unsupported presuppositions and logical fallacies, the created world provides observable evidence that the universe is embedded with a certain precise, detailed and hierarchical logical structure that defies explanation from a secular atheist point of view.
This could only be the case so long as we begin with the primacy of consciousness (as evidenced by our need to imagine what Warden describes here), which is self-refuting.

So there you have it. Again Warden shows that he cannot wrestle with the argument from metaphysical primacy and prevail on behalf of his theism. He continues to misinterpret my argument (whether intentionally or as a result of sheer witlessness) to mean that the Christian god created itself. My argument nowhere affirms this or requires this. Warden’s efforts to find faults with my arguments have again proven unsuccessful. My premises are clearly laid out. They are presented in valid logical form. Since Warden has not successfully shown that any of the premises in my arguments are untrue, his efforts to refute my case is another grand flop on his record. But none of this is unexpected. Theists, operating on the primacy of consciousness, are bent by sheer will to have their god-belief, and eat it, too. They do not have facts to support their view, which is why they cannot accept the view that truth is based on facts which obtain independently of consciousness. It is here where Warden has a profound struggle – a deep, psychological struggle that grips him as a result of finding himself lost in the labyrinth of Christian mysticism. He’s been trapped in a nightmarish world similar to a funhouse of mirrors with no apparent exit. And since he cannot find his way out of the labyrinth, what is past is prologue: we cannot expect to find him growing in rational understanding, since he has already sacrificed rationality along with everything else he’s sacrificed for the god he enshrines in his imagination.

by Dawson Bethrick

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16 Comments:

Blogger Justin Hall said...

William Lane Craig... One of the least cited published philosophers in our modern era. Yeah, not the kind of guy I would invoke in a appeal to authority. Also it really amuses me every time Warden talks about quantum physics. It reminds me of the woo woo that Depak Champra meddles.

December 30, 2013 5:45 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

ah, that should have said peddles, its early, need coffee!

December 30, 2013 5:46 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

I don't know if I'm on the mark with the following, but I'll float this out there anyway, for comedic purposes:

If Rick's god was an automobile, he'd likely insist that discussing its relationship with the road was "not in keeping with all the characteristics of the Automobile described in the Chilton manual."

By the way, I should point out that the first two hyperlinks in your blog entry above take me to my blogger dashboard.

(Also, in going back over your archive, I've been keeping a running list of hyperlinks I've come across that are no longer active or which take me to your old geocities site. I don't know how many I have at the moment, but when they've accumulated beyond a yet-to-be-determined quantity, I can always post them -- that is, if it's worth your time and effort).

Ydemoc

December 30, 2013 7:35 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Another thought:

You wrote: "...my argument has to do with the nature of the relationship believers claim their god has with objects distinct from itself (such as the universe, and everything in it, that it is said to have created by an act of will)."

And, according what Christians tell us over and over, some of those objects in the universe that their god has created by an act of will (and continues to control by an act of will) includes believers themselves! -- and everyone else, for that matter. And Rick thinks this isn't relevant to the issue of metaphysical primacy!?!

But, as you point out in your blog entry, all it takes is: "[i]f the Christian god is said to have created an apple and nothing else by an act of will, that alone is sufficient for the charge that it assumes the primacy of consciousness."

Like Yuri Geller, all it takes is the claim that he actually bent one spoon with his mind and... metaphysical subjectivism.

And we saw how easily that was debunked.

Ydemoc

December 30, 2013 8:07 PM  
Blogger Karen S. said...

Enjoyed your article. I was reading some comments at "Reasonable Doubts" for a presuppositionalist podcast, and your post brought one to mind: it is not just a "god of the gaps" argument, but any time there's a challenge, it's answered by another "gap." And like all the others, it was imagined, or should I say, wished into "existence" (because it doesn't make it so, as their god must have intended!) Clearly that's what this Rick Warden did, and failed miserably.

December 30, 2013 9:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Ydemoc,

Thanks for cluing me in about the dead links above. I have corrected them.

********

I checked Warden’s blog entry and noticed that he has added a section titled “Addenda” at the end of his blog.

There Warden writes (or rather complains): “1. Dawson's definition of truth is unsubstantiated in his argument.”

The purpose of my argument was not to substantiate the definition of truth that it assumes. That’s not its purpose. Why doesn’t Warden get this?

Warden writes: “The most basic understanding of truth holds that truth corresponds with reality.”

Right, and an *objective* understanding of reality is that reality exists independent of the conscious activity by which a subject is aware of it. Contrast this with the Christian view of truth, which imagines truth as correspondence to the content of a supernatural (i.e., imaginary) mind. Here’s Bahnsen (Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 163):

<< The believer understands that truth fundamentally is whatever conforms to the mind of God.>>

This view of truth is not at all equivalent to correspondence to facts which obtain independently of conscious activity. On the Christian view, there’s no such thing as facts which obtain independently of conscious activity. Anything we would call a “fact” is merely a creation of the Christian god’s whims. Since on the Christian view nothing exists independently of the Christian god’s creative acts, nothing outside the Christian god’s mind could constrain its creative choices and actions. Whim rules the day. Creating man with two arms would be just as arbitrary as creating him with 45 arms. Nothing in “reality” independent of the Christian god would constrain it to create something one way as opposed to another, since on the Christian view there is no such thing as reality independent of the Christian god in the first place. It’s all subjective whim.

For more on the objective nature of truth, see my blog Answering Dustin Segers’ Presuppositionalism, Part I: Intro and the Nature of Truth. Had Warden bothered to do some homework, he could have spared himself the growing embarrassment he heaps on himself. My answers are already right there in white and black.

[continued…]

December 31, 2013 7:21 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Warden writes: “Dawson has assumed a more narrow definition of truth pertaining only to ‘reality based on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity’.”

Of course, this makes Warden bristle. He wants truth to be dependent on conscious intentions. He prefers truth to be something one discovers by looking inward at the contents of one’s own mind, as opposed to looking outward at the facts of reality. No, I’m not making this up. Observe:

Warden writes: “According to Dawson, a dream which accurately foretells the future could not be considered a source of truth, even though dreams are obviously considered real phenomena and, though difficult to verify after the fact, predictive dreams have been recorded throughout history.”

Dreams are not a source of knowledge of reality. If one wants to learn what food he has in his refrigerator, how to operate heavy machinery, or the best way he should manage his business, the *objective* approach is to look outward at reality in order discover and identify those *facts* which pertain to the matter at hand.

But Warden prefers the looking inward model, consulting the contents of one’s own mind as a means of acquiring “knowledge,” whether it’s dreams, wishing, imagination, fantasies, etc. He objects to my argument because my argument does not adopt his model of truth by looking inward. In essence, he objects to my argument because it is objective.

Warden writes: “Furthermore, Dawson's definition of truth precludes the possibility of divine revelation.”

Well, if “divine revelation” is supposed to signify transmission of “knowledge” from a being which we can only imagine, then “divine revelation” rests on the subjective model of truth – i.e., acquired by looking inward. It is by definition not objective. So yes, the view of truth that I affirm precludes any view reducing truth and knowledge to subjective notions.

[continued…]

December 31, 2013 7:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Warden writes: “Dawson has not offered any reason or proof of why any divine revelation of truth would not be possible, he simply presupposes this.”

If this is what Warden thinks, it only means he has not done his homework. I have now nearly nine years of blog entries for him to start reading. He doesn’t want to put the effort into it, though; he wants everything spoon-fed to him. Also, he wants tell his readers what he wants them to believe.

Warden writes: “Dawson presupposes a narrow atheist explanation of truth in an argument against God and has not justified this definition.”

Again, Warden has not done his homework. The purpose of my three-step case was not to produce an analysis of the objective conception of truth. He did not ask for this. He asked for “a summary of the specific premises and logical syntax of the argument” which I employ against theism, which is what I presented. In his latest blog entry, he acknowledges that I did in fact meet this request.
Above I give a link to a blog entry which I published back in April 2012 where I present a more detailed discussion of the nature of truth. Where does the bible do similarly on behalf of its own view? Blank out. Where does Warden vindicate his subjective view of truth? Blank out. Why does Warden continually borrow from the objective understanding of truth when he contests the very basis of it? Blank out.

Warden writes: “This results in two fallacies: the unsupported claim and begging the question.”

In the case of the “unsupported claim” claim, Warden’s charge of fallacy is itself unsupported: he nowhere supports his claim that I have not supported my view of truth. Indeed I have. See the link I posted above.

In the case of his charge of “begging the question,” Warden begs the question himself by assuming the subjective analysis of truth (the looking inward model) in raising this objection to my view of truth. And yet, at the same time, he borrows the primacy of existence from my worldview by charging me with fallacy in the first place: he’s not telling his readers “Dawson’s argument commits a fallacy because I learned this in a dream, I want this to be the case, I imagine this, I hope it’s the case, I want it to be true.” No, on the contrary, he’s saying that this is the case about my argument because that’s the way it is independent of his wishing, likes, dislikes, preferences, hopes, imaginations, dreams, fantasies, emotions, etc. So for his charge even to carry the weight he wants his readers to think it has, he must adopt the very view he’s condemning. Thus he commits the fallacy of the stolen concept. Meanwhile, my argument is not “begging the question,” for it is not simply restating one of its premises in its conclusion (as can be seen by an examination of the syllogisms that I have laid out). Rather, my argument models an application of a general truth (e.g., truth is objective in nature) to a specific area of inquiry. That’s called deduction. Warden, in spite of all his empty lip service to “logic,” should make some effort to better acquaint himself with formal argumentation. But before he can do this properly, he need to abandon the subjective model of truth which he wants to defend while secretly pilfering from worldviews he openly condemns.

I’m glad these aren’t my problems!

Regards,
Dawson

December 31, 2013 7:22 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Hello Dawson, and to friends and regular readers too

Warden wrote:

"In the opening premise of Dawson’s argument against God’s existence, the definition of truth presupposes that truth is derived solely from observing the material world. This definition implies and presupposes an atheist explanation of truth."

Dawson remarked: "In other words, it is not an understanding of truth that Warden is willing to accept."

FWIW: I have observed throughout my adult life that religious minded people want to believe in magic and A priori knowledge. Their desires seem to be strong enough to superceded their common sense stemming from direct sensory awareness of their own subject object and perception awareness-of-perception relationships. Discounting their own common sense and self-evident reality of an external world in favor of mythological fairy tales, the religious minded prefer comforting fantasies to the animating contest of survival in actual existence. This may be due to some sort of genetic anomaly or cultural training. Tis a pity because only be working to configure the environment beneficially can quality of life be improved. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed.

Best and Good

January 18, 2014 9:27 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Hello friends.

Warden writes: “Furthermore, Dawson's definition of truth precludes the possibility of divine revelation.”

I sense the contrast between Warden's fuming displeasure at the thought others prefer objective reality to his fantasy and his failure to hoist his burden of proof to show how a transcendent immaterial, non-spatial, non-temporal, consciousness devoid of energy can transmit information when information only occurs as a casual encoding in atomist, reductionist, material particles as amusing. If I were completely unfamiliar with human culture and encountered a human mystic like Warden for a first time, I'd pinch myself to see if I were dreaming. This guy and those like him must work hard to ignore the self-evident fact of metaphysical primacy of existence.

I'm grateful to the Objectivist philosophers for their work, for it has helped me live a better more fulfilling life.

Cheers

January 18, 2014 9:50 AM  
Blogger carmel Ka said...

hi DAwson,

regarding your definition of truth from:
Step 1: Truth rests exclusively on the primacy of existence metaphysics:
P1-1: If truth is the identification of reality based on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity (such as preferences, likes and dislikes, wishes, fantasies, emotions, temper tantrums, evasion, etc.), then truth rests exclusively on the primacy of existence metaphysics.
P1-2: Truth is the identification of reality based on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity (such as preferences, likes and dislikes, wishes, fantasies, emotions, temper tantrums, evasion, etc.).

C1: Therefore, truth rests exclusively on the primacy of existence metaphysics.

was refuted by atheist/philosophs , have a look over:
http://fatfist.hubpages.com/hub/There-is-NO-Truth-Truth-Resolves-to-OPINION
The hub is opened for comments/posts , if you are interested to debate against or pro!
Hope it will help out!
Cheers

June 10, 2014 5:00 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello carmel Ka,

Yes, many people - not only Christians, but also many non-Christians - reject the objective theory of truth which I have defended. I realize this is the case. The title in the URL makes it clear what notions are being peddled at the site you link to - namely that "there is NO truth - is that true? All truth is ultimate opinion? Is that true? Or is that just an opinion? Or is it both?

Why would anyone need to debate this? Debate presumes that there is something to be debated. But to suppose that something can be debated itself assumes that something can be either true or not true. Thus the very concept of debate is anathema to such notions as are apparently championed on the site you've linked to. I haven't gone there, and I have no intention to. Why should I make their problems mine?

Regards,
Dawson

June 10, 2014 5:50 AM  
Blogger carmel Ka said...

Hi Dawson,

The reason I sent it over is that notion as "true"
can be rationally construct to just label a statement. It;s a formal and subjective label only, as depicted in the post.
The author concluded: TRUTH = OPINION!
I will not detail all the reasoning here, author makes it better , useless to advocate him further if not reading.

I found the reasoning easy to comprehend and that;s why sending, hopefully adding a good point.Don;t take the title with presupposition(that something can be debated itself assumes that something can be either true or not true). Author has a different approach to it.

The all hub is talking also about rational thinking, no "truth", "absolute truth"


Cheers,
Silviu

June 10, 2014 7:10 AM  
Blogger carmel Ka said...

HiDawson,


have you got my previous reply, is not published and wondering if reaches you correctly or...

Regards,
Sile

June 10, 2014 11:36 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Yes carmel, I received your posts. I live in a different time zone - it's night time here when it's day time on your side of the earth. Hence the delay in my getting around to your comments.

Now that you've brought this to my attention, what specifically are you expecting me to do? From what you have explained about the article you've referenced, I don't agree with any of it. But that does not mean I'm going to drop what I'm doing and go blowing into some forum and shooting it out with folks who for all I know may simply be happily irrational.

I guess all I can say at this point is that there's a lot of garbage on the internet - don't believe everything you read.

Regards,
Dawson

June 10, 2014 3:30 PM  
Blogger Cross Crusher said...

Hi, carmel Ka.

I can tell you from experience that a blogger of Dawson's calibre would be wasting his time trying to converse with 'fatfist'. This fatfist character is far too emotional and dishonest to hold a reasonable discussion in his comments sections. You see, fatfist beats his chest a lot and loudly challenges anyone to try and rebut him but as soon as you do just that and expose his fallacies - he simply disallows your post! He does this even after telling everyone "I never censor a post". Simple right? When your interlocutor outsmarts you, just delete their posts. Easy! Like I said, I know this from experience and I know I'm far from being the only one he has done this to.

fatfist is all hot air and the height of hypocrisy. He uses fake profile pics and I'm willing to bet cold cash that in real life he is none other than crank 'scientist' Bill Gaede, who runs the site youstupidrelativist.com (a site Gaede himself calls "a gift to mankind").

Whenever I attempted to post anything on fatfist's hubs that even slightly alluded to my suspicion of him being Bill Gaede, my posts were very quietly deleted without explanation, and without all his usual hullabaloo. Something to hide, fatfist?

fatfist has since disabled and deleted thousands of other comments from his other Hubpage account (which was under his real name) and his Youtube channels. I suspect he maybe did this because after I'd let the cat out of the bag to others as to his real identity he realised that anyone reading the comments on his other accounts would immediately recognize the identical writing style and word-for-word content he uses as 'fatfist'. In fact there are substantial chunks of text directly copy/pasted from Gaede's site onto fatfist's Hubs and passed off as if they were fatfist's own words!

In any case, it now looks bad for fatfist whether he is, or is not Gaede: on the one hand, if he's not, well so much for all his ranting and raving about thinking for yourself when all he does is parrot everything Gaede says, verbatim! On the other hand, if he is indeed Gaede, then he has openly lied about his true identity (fatfist has denied being Gaede). So 'fatfist' now looks like a fool either way. That's what happens when you post enough crap on the internet. Someone catches you out sooner or later. And fatfist, I caught you out.

Gaede is a crank, an ex-con, a 9/11 'truther' and all-round conspiracy nutbar who has been adamant for years that we are the "last generation on earth".
This is just one of his many videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYoG6nMtAz8
He also has another Youtube channel full of outrageous 9/11 'truther' dross here: https://www.youtube.com/user/GWLaden

Gaede has a son, Eric, who is just as much of an attention seeker as his father. On Youtube, Eric goes by the name Asalieri. Eric is a known stalker, by the way. Oh yes, make no mistake about it, those Gaede's are strange fruits.

Regards.

January 25, 2015 10:49 AM  

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