Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Three Steps Proving that Theism Cannot Be True

In the comments section of my previous blog entry, Christian apologist Rick Warden of Templestream Blog has requested that I produce “a summary of the specific premises and logical syntax of the argument” which I employ against theism.

Curiously, Warden’s request comes after he posted a blog of his own in which he attempted to refute my argument. Warden’s methodology seems logically reversed; one would hope that Warden would already be familiar with my argument’s premises before publishing his attempts to refute it. Perhaps Warden has simply “presupposed” that my argument is unsound and, eager to act on this presupposition, didn’t bother to check the facts from the beginning. Needless to say, this would explain a lot.

Below I present three steps sealing the conclusion that theism cannot be true. Step 1 is a proof that truth as such rests exclusively on the primacy of existence metaphysics (this is the reason why we often hear the undeniably true retort, “wishing doesn’t make it so”). Step 2 is a proof that theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics (think of the claim that a god created the universe by speaking, that it governs human history by its “counsel,” that it “controls whatsoever comes to pass,” etc.). Step 3, drawing from the previous two Steps, is a proof that theism therefore cannot be true.

Each Step consists of its own two-premise argument stated in the form of a hypothetical syllogism. Each argument is formally valid. This means that, if the premises of each argument are true, then their conclusions cannot fail to be true. Thus Warden should be satisfied by these proofs since he has expressed concern for “logical philosophical arguments.”

So without any further ado, let us proceed…


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.
Step 2: Theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics:
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. 
P2-2: 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 to act in any way by an act of will. 
C2: Therefore, theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.
Step 3: Theism cannot be true:
P3-1: If theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, then theism is incompatible with the primacy of existence metaphysics and consequently cannot be true. (From Step 1 above) 
P3-2: Theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. (From Step 2 above) 
C3: Therefore theism is incompatible with the primacy of existence metaphysics and consequently cannot be true.
So there you have it – a tidy little summary of my argument against theism. Naturally the premises of each argument can be defended. But providing these defenses in this blog entry would make it much longer than it already is, and Warden has expressed reluctance for reading lengthy treatments (the books on his shelf must be quite thin). Besides, I have already posted many blog entries over the years addressing these matters and providing the necessary defenses for the premises I incorporate in the arguments above. That being as it may, I welcome questions and even challenges to what I have presented here.

by Dawson Bethrick

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21 Comments:

Blogger Ydemoc said...

Hi Dawson,

I submitted a response over on Rick Warden's blog, making him aware that you posted your Proof that the Christian God Does Not Exist on the previous thread and also reminding him that I had supplied him with a link to Anton Thorn's Argument from the Fact of Existence on his own blog.

Will these two arguments, along with your most recently published one, suffice in satisfying Rick's request for "specific premises and logical syntax"?

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Ydemoc

December 25, 2013 8:44 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Ydemoc,

I checked Warden’s blog a little while ago, and he has not posted your comment from what I can tell. He did post a new blog entry on the ‘Duck Dynasty’ flap. But he has not posted any new “refutations” of my work. (He has not even successfully salvaged his earlier attempt to refute my position.)

One would think that by now, Warden would be satisfied. What has been presented to him is far more systematic in terms of clearly laying out "the specific premises and logical syntax of the argument" than anything one could ever hope to find in the bible, and Warden seems to think the bible is some sort of excellent guide. But Warden has not even acknowledged that I have made any effort to meet his special needs.

One would also suppose that, if Warden's god-belief were so unassailably true as he apparently thinks it is, that refuting the arguments that have been presented to him would be a cinch.

Whether it’s Warden, Segers, Bruggencate, Licona, or any other theistic apologist, the question I’d like to see them address is: “Does wishing make it so?” Will they commit themselves to a clear stand on the matter and consistently stick with it? Or will they hesitate and falter as they try to stuff their responses with disclaimers that are deliberately intended to make room for their religious fantasies? Or will they come back with attitude and bluster, as has become the norm with apologists?

Maybe Rick Warden will muster up the courage he needs to face such simple challenges.

Or maybe he won't.

Regards,
Dawson

December 28, 2013 2:36 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Hi Dawson,

You wrote: "I checked Warden’s blog a little while ago, and he has not posted your comment from what I can tell."

Yep. I just checked and I didn't see any replies to the comments I left, either. In my most recent post, I let him know that, despite my concerns about tinyurl links, I **did** end up going to the one he linked to. I told him that when I got to the site, it just appeared to me to be a place for converting long url links to the shorter, "tinyurl" links. I couldn't find anywhere on the site where one could comply with his request: "When you or anyone has such a logical argument, do post it at the following link:

http://tinyurl.com/create.php"...


In fact, while attempting to explore the site to see if I was overlooking anything, i.e., if I could locate any place where one could, in fact, post "such a logical argument," my browser quit on me! Twice!

So I don't know what his purpose was in supplying that link. Maybe he can clarify this, too.

By the way, have you had a chance to see Edward Kline's article over on Capitalism Magazine (The Ten Commandments Rationally Examined)?

http://capitalismmagazine.com/2013/12/ten-commandments-rationally-examined/

He makes some good points, and it inspired me to reread your 2007 blog entry:

The Moral Uselessness of the 10 Commandments
http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2009/08/razorskiss-on-christian-god-as-basis-of_18.html

Ydemoc

December 28, 2013 6:50 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Oops. I see that I posted the wrong link under the heading of your blog entry, The Moral Uselessness of the 10 Commandments. Here is the correct link:

http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2007/05/moral-uselessness-of-10-commandments.html

I made this copying/pasting error because, at the time, I also had your "RazorKiss" blog entry open, and I accidentally copied its url from its address bar instead of from the address bar of your "Moral Uselessness... 10 Commandments" blog entry.

Ydemoc

December 29, 2013 8:58 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Ydemoc,

Thanks for the link to Edward Kline’s article on the 10 Commandments. I started reading it but got distracted and never finished. I’ll try to get back to it as it looks good!

Also, thanks for the correction on the link to my blog. No big deal! I knew which blog you had in mind, and in fact I did not notice at the time that you had posted a link to a different blog. Well, it’s all fun to read, so why not a link to “Razorskiss”? ha!

Rick Warden has posted an entry on his blog attempting to find various faults in my above case.

His blog entry can be found here:

Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted

Unfortunately, Warden continues in his utter misunderstanding of the primacy of existence and the point of my argument in using it. I corrected this mistake previously (here), but either Warden has not read this, or he has and simply has not grasped my points in contention to his.

For support, Warden appeals to (of all people) Dan Marvin (!), William Lane Craig, and a batch of unnamed physicists for support at various points. And in the process, Warden characterizes my argument as “desperate.” I must say, I’m at a loss for words here.

Anyway, I have posted a new entry on my blog interacting comprehensively with Warden’s latest post. You can find it here:

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

Regards,
Dawson

December 30, 2013 1:00 AM  
Blogger McFormtist said...

Hello Dawson,

In your understanding, does "consciousness" presuppose the "existence" of anything? I ask because you draw a dichotomy between God being conscious and God being and I can't quite figure out why.

Thanks,
McFormtist

January 09, 2014 6:48 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello McFormtist,

I’m guessing this is not your real name, but for some reason you prefer to publish your comments under this pseudonym.

You asked: “In your understanding, does ‘consciousness’ presuppose the ‘existence’ of anything?”

Of course! First of all, if we are talking about the concept ‘consciousness’, which is an axiomatic concept, it entails the recognition on the part of the individual using it of the fact that he is conscious, and therefore that he is conscious of something - i.e., of some object. Thus it presupposes the existence of the individual making this recognition to begin with.

Also, since consciousness with nothing other than itself to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms, a state of consciousness must involve something distinct from consciousness of which the conscious individual is conscious.

We also need to keep in mind the fact that consciousness is essentially a type of activity. Consciousness is not an entity, but rather a type of activity performed by an entity. In the case of man, for example, man is the entity, and his consciousness is a series of actions which he performs – e.g., sensing, perceiving, seeing, hearing, thinking, emoting, etc.

Moreover, consciousness as a type of activity which a subject performs presupposes some means by which the subject is conscious – e.g., perception. Without some means by which a subject could be conscious of something, it cannot be conscious of anything; it would be conscious no how - i.e., simply not conscious. Consciousness is a biological faculty; rocks, dirt, rainclouds, asteroids, etc., do not possess consciousness – they have no means by which they could be conscious of anything. On the other hand, many biological organisms have organs which make consciousness of objects possible, whether by means of mere sensation, or by perceptual integration of individual sensations.

So yes, consciousness presupposes both the existence of the organism that possesses the organic structures by which it can acquire consciousness of objects as well as the objects it is conscious of.

You wrote: “I ask because you draw a dichotomy between God being conscious and God being and I can't quite figure out why.”

Actually, I do not do this. Christians do, especially when they are confronted with the issue of metaphysical primacy, and quite typically because they simply do not grasp the essence of this issue – i.e., the relationship between consciousness and its objects. For instance, when I draw the conclusion that the Christian worldview assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics in the case of its god, many Christians will hasten to say things like “But God’s existence holds metaphysical primacy!” This is often affirmed as “God’s being holds metaphysical primacy,” which introduces the “dichotomy” you are asking about here, but which fails to address questions about the relationship between said god’s consciousness and its objects.

Hope that helps!

Regards,
Dawson

January 09, 2014 1:57 PM  
Blogger McFormtist said...

Thanks for the reply.

And, my apologies for using a nickname in lieu of a real name. I apparently signed up for a Blogger profile using that nickname which I use for some chatrooms, and so it automatically populated with that name for the comment when I signed in to post. I didn't feel the urge to change it at the time, nor to sign the comment using a different name than the author name appeared as. I don't quite know how to change it, but I guess it makes little difference in any case.

Now, if I'm not mistaken, I believe I've seen you mention such concepts in the past as Divine Aseity and Divine Simplicity, which are well-established concepts in Christian philosophy. Would you say that for a Christian to affirm the type of dichotomy above would be to misspeak with regard to those concepts?

If I were to use Objectivist terms as best as I can with respect to God, I would say what Christians hold concerning God is a co-ultimate existence-consciousness, in accordance with Divine Simplicity and Divine Aseity. Ultimately I don't think the Objectivist categories are broad enough to assess God (which means I think any critique from its foundation, as far as I understand it, falls short). Thoughts?

Thanks,
Matthias

January 10, 2014 6:06 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Matthias,

Thanks for your message, and also for giving a name I can use with greater confidence.

First of all, before jumping into your newest questions, did my previous response satisfy your earlier questions? Do you understand now how consciousness presupposes existence? Or, is this still not clear to you? Also, how about my response to your question about imagination and physics in the other blog?

Okay, let’s look at your newest questions.

You wrote: “Now, if I'm not mistaken, I believe I've seen you mention such concepts in the past as Divine Aseity and Divine Simplicity, which are well-established concepts in Christian philosophy.”

I did a quick search of my files for my blog and found two instances where I have used the term ‘aseity’. You can find them in these blog entries:

1) A Reply to Dustin Segers’ Dismantled Blog Entry on Objectivism (Nov. 2011). In this case, the word ‘aseity’ appears in my blog as part of a quote from Dustin Segers, a Christian apologist.

2) How Theism Violates the Primacy of Existence (Feb. 2010). Here I mentioned the word ‘aseity’ in passing as an example of some of the higher abstractions theists sometimes use when describing their god.

I did not do a search for ‘simplicity’ since this word is commonly used in other contexts. But generally, I tend not to use the terms ‘divine simplicity’ or ‘divine aseity’ since I do not think they are either conceptually legitimate nor helpful in clarifying matters.

You asked: “Would you say that for a Christian to affirm the type of dichotomy above would be to misspeak with regard to those concepts?”

I’m not sure what exactly you’re asking here. As I mention above, I don’t think these are conceptually legitimate notions to begin with.

[continued…]

January 10, 2014 3:04 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “If I were to use Objectivist terms as best as I can with respect to God, I would say what Christians hold concerning God is a co-ultimate existence-consciousness, in accordance with Divine Simplicity and Divine Aseity.”

This would not address the question concerning the issue of metaphysical primacy as Objectivism informs it. The issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects – i.e., the subject of consciousness and the things (objects) it is conscious of. Saying that existence and consciosuness are "co-ultimate" misses the point entirely. Plus it would be an unfounded proposition, one that clearly ignores the dependence of consciousness on the existence of things that make it possible (such as the biological structures necessary for consciousness belonging to the organism possessing it).

Objectivism identifies two approaches to this issue that have characterized the history of philosophy:

1) The primacy of existence: this is the recognition that the objects of consciousness exist and are what they are independent of consciousness. For example, when I *see* a rock in my garden (seeing being an action of consciousness), the rock exists and is what it is independent of my seeing (i.e., of consciousness). I can wish that the rock were a Ferrari instead, but the rock will not conform to my wishing – it remains a rock. I can command it to become a Ferrari, but again, given the primacy of existence, the rock does not conform to my conscious intensions. Hence we recognize explicitly that existence exists independent of consciousness. Existence is not a creation of consciousness, nor do the objects of consciousness conform to the content or intensions of conscious activity.

2) The primacy of consciousness: this is the view that the objects of consciousness in some way (e.g., for their existence, their nature, their actions, etc.) depend on and/or conform to conscious intensions. On this view, the rock would turn into a Ferrari if I so wished. Or perhaps merely my seeing the rock caused the rock to exist. Or the rock would simply obey my commands. Etc. An example from the gospel of John is Jesus turning water into wine simply by willing that it be so.

It should be clear to anyone who understands these two approaches as well as what Christian theism (CT) teaches, that CT assumes the primacy of consciousness in the case of its god: according to CT, its god created the entire universe by an act of will; it created heaven, the angels, the demons, hell, you, me, the materials making up your house, the atoms in your pencil, the protons and neutrons in those atoms, etc. It created all these things by an act of will. Some Christians say their god “spoke” the universe into being, but within the context of what Christianity says about it’s god (it’s non-physical, it has no biological body, organs, mouth, larynx, lungs, etc.), what I think they really mean is that it simply willed these things into existence – it *wished* and *presto* - reality conforms to its wishing. There are numerous other examples of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics throughout the bible, and Christians insist that they are all true. So I would really like to know why Christians like Rick Warden resist admitting that their worldview assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.

[continued…]

January 10, 2014 3:10 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “Ultimately I don't think the Objectivist categories are broad enough to assess God (which means I think any critique from its foundation, as far as I understand it, falls short). Thoughts?”

Sure, I have many thoughts. First, I don’t think you understood the issue of metaphysical primacy when you wrote this. I’m hoping the pointers above will help you understand.

Second, I don’t see how “the Objectivists categories” could fail to be “broad enough to assess God.” The categories in question here are the concepts ‘existence’ and ‘consciousness’. The concept ‘existence’ is the widest of all concepts: it includes everything that exists; even if the Christian god existed, this concept would include it. Christians themselves concede that the concept ‘existence’ is broad enough to assess their god when they tell us that their god *exists*. It’s broad enough then, why isn’t it broad enough when considering the relationship between their god as a consciousness and the objects of its consciousness? Similarly with the concept ‘consciousness’: this concept clearly applies since Christians want to confer conscious activity of sorts to their god, such as knowing, planning, reacting, commanding, judging, getting angry, choosing, etc.

So I would say that, if CT affirms that its god (a) exists and (b) is conscious, then these concepts are clearly “broad enough to assess God” and the issue of metaphysical primacy applies (since consciousness always involves an object - conscious of what?).

If Christians maintain that these concepts are still not broad enough to apply to their god, then CT needs to find some new concepts – without making use of these – and provide validation for their meaning and application. But I don’t think that’s going to happen; it would require complete revision of nearly two thousand years of assumptions, texts, rulings, edicts, creeds, church doctrines, etc., and avoiding the use of the concept ‘existence’ is pretty much impossible when trying to speak of anything. Rather, I think you are just not very clear on what the issue of metaphysical primacy is.

Does that help?

Regards,
Dawson

January 10, 2014 3:14 PM  
Blogger McFormtist said...

Thanks for the reply Dawson.

You did answer my original question in a way that lets me understand how objectivism regards the distinction. If a Christian affirms God's existence while denying that his existence entails his consciousness, I think that Christian is mistaken. There's a surface-level conceptual distinction, but ultimately not an actual distinction. And this is per Divine Simplicity.

The two doctrines, Divine Aseity and Divine Simplicity are elementary to a Reformed theology, whereupon "presuppositional apologetics" is predicated, and so I would have expected that any address of this type of apologetic to include consideration for those things.

You wrote: "This would not address the question concerning the issue of metaphysical primacy as Objectivism informs it. The issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects – i.e., the subject of consciousness and the things (objects) it is conscious of. Saying that existence and consciosuness are "co-ultimate" misses the point entirely. Plus it would be an unfounded proposition, one that clearly ignores the dependence of consciousness on the existence of things that make it possible (such as the biological structures necessary for consciousness belonging to the organism possessing it)."

If the point is that all of nature is subject to this dichotomy, then it hit precisely where I meant it to. I go into a little more detail in my comment on your other post. But essentially, they're both bound up in God.

You wrote: "So I would say that, if CT affirms that its god (a) exists and (b) is conscious, then these concepts are clearly “broad enough to assess God” and the issue of metaphysical primacy applies (since consciousness always involves an object - conscious of what?)."

If God is conscious then his existence essentially entails consciousness, and with God, neither takes primacy over the other, but in fact both take primacy over everything else. That is what I meant by "not broad enough."

You wrote: "If Christians maintain that these concepts are still not broad enough to apply to their god, then CT needs to find some new concepts – without making use of these – and provide validation for their meaning and application. But I don’t think that’s going to happen; it would require complete revision of nearly two thousand years of assumptions, texts, rulings, edicts, creeds, church doctrines, etc., and avoiding the use of the concept ‘existence’ is pretty much impossible when trying to speak of anything."

Rather, I think you are mistaken to think "existence" as Christianity informs it is different from "existence" as Objectivism informs it, particularly with respect to God. There is a Creator/creature distinction, which is also elementary to the presuppositional apologetic.

Thanks,
Matthias

January 15, 2014 8:58 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Matthias,

You wrote: “If the point is that all of nature is subject to this dichotomy, then it hit precisely where I meant it to. I go into a little more detail in my comment on your other post. But essentially, they're both bound up in God.”

I have posted some thoughts in response to your comment on my other blog. Hopefully some of what I have written there will clarify the issues involved here.

In the present discussion, I had written: "So I would say that, if CT affirms that its god (a) exists and (b) is conscious, then these concepts are clearly “broad enough to assess God” and the issue of metaphysical primacy applies (since consciousness always involves an object - conscious of what?)."

You responded: “If God is conscious then his existence essentially entails consciousness, and with God, neither takes primacy over the other, but in fact both take primacy over everything else. That is what I meant by ‘not broad enough’."

It seems that, if ultimately there is some dispute between us over what these concepts (‘existence’ and ‘consciousness’) essentially mean, we would have to examine our respective approaches to concept-formation and the manner in which we inform our concepts to get to the root of that dispute. Thus we would need to set side by side our respective theory of concepts to determine which one is most suited to the way in which our human minds operate. But that’s a major part of the problem that I have discovered: Christianity has no distinctively Christian theory of concepts so far as I can find. Certainly there is no theory of concepts laid out in the bible. Perhaps some theologian has attempted to assemble some notions here and there on what concepts are. But he would simply be just one of a huge many, a herd of believers groping in darkness for what something is the case (given, within Christianity, the fact that the bible does not provide a theory of concepts). And suppose some Christian theologian has assembled a theory of concepts; how can we be sure that he was not borrowing it from a non-Christian source?

At any rate, I highly doubt that the concepts ‘existence’ and ‘consciousness’ are “not broad enough,” since we are all expected to understand what Christianity affirms when it claims (a) its god exists, and (b) its god is conscious.

But in case there is still some lingering dispute here, perhaps you could identify the inputs which Christians take to inform each concept as well as identify the means by which Christians acquire awareness of those said inputs. What do you say? It would be most helpful if knowledgeable Christians weighed in on these matters.

[continued…]

January 15, 2014 9:44 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I had written: "If Christians maintain that these concepts are still not broad enough to apply to their god, then CT needs to find some new concepts – without making use of these – and provide validation for their meaning and application. But I don’t think that’s going to happen; it would require complete revision of nearly two thousand years of assumptions, texts, rulings, edicts, creeds, church doctrines, etc., and avoiding the use of the concept ‘existence’ is pretty much impossible when trying to speak of anything."

You responded: “Rather, I think you are mistaken to think ‘existence’ as Christianity informs it is different from ‘existence’ as Objectivism informs it, particularly with respect to God.”

It’s actually quite hard to say, since Christians often dispute what I say regarding fundamentals pertaining to existence and consciousness, and yet they have notorious difficulty in articulating what exactly it is they are disputing. I don’t know of any philosophy that is more explicit than Objectivism in its explanation of what the concept ‘existence’ means. Indeed, where does the bible explain what is meant by the concept ‘existence’? Can you tell me? Similarly (if not even more so) in the case of consciousness: Christians clearly assume that their god is conscious, but it’s unclear what they mean by this concept. Most carry on in discussions with the assumption that everyone “just knows” what this concept means without any need to clarify what it means explicitly. Some try to give it a definition informed by more fundamental concepts; but this is problematic in that concepts as such presuppose the reality of consciousness, which draws attention to another concern, namely Christianity’s lack of a theory of concepts.

Regardless, in my experience (and many regular visitors to my blog can attest to this wholeheartedly), most Christians who are confronted with the issue of metaphysical primacy, are either reluctant or for whatever reason unable to address direct questions about the relationship their worldview posits between their god as a consciousness and any objects that would be distinct from that consciousness. Consider, for example, the Christian god – conscious as it is supposed to be of everything that exists – and an apple sitting on the ground in the Salinas Valley in California. Clearly Christians think their god is conscious of this apple. So what is the nature of the relationship between this apple and the Christian god’s consciousness according to what Christianity teaches? Which holds metaphysical primacy over the other? Does the apple hold metaphysical primacy over the consciousness allegedly belonging to the Christian god? Or, does the Christian god’s consciousness hold metaphysical primacy over the apple?

Do me a favor, would you, before responding here, and read my blog Confessions of a Vantillian Subjectivist. Post any reaction you have here – that would be fine. But I think it’s vitally important that you grasp the issues my approach highlights here.

Regards,
Dawson

January 15, 2014 9:44 AM  
Blogger McFormtist said...

Thanks Dawson, I'll get around to what you linked as soon as I get a chance.

Also, I actually misspoke in my last comment here. I said, "...you are mistaken to think 'existence' as Christianity informs it is different from 'existence' as Objectivism informs it..."

I should have said "no different." This was meant to be a restating of the Creator/creature distinction that (I believe) I mentioned previously.

Matthias

January 16, 2014 6:16 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Matthias,

As I mentioned above, it's hard to say how precisely Christians inform the concept 'existence' because Christians I've interacted with tend not to be able to articulate what they mean by 'existence' very well. But I'm quite confident that Christians typically do not mean what Objectivism means by 'existence'.

In Objectivism, the concept 'existence' is axiomatic. This means, among other things, that it cannot be defined in terms of more fundamental concepts - since there can be no more fundamental concept than 'existence' (to what would any "more fundamental" concept refer if not to something that exists?). As an axiomatic concept, 'existence' is foundational.

The units informing the concept 'existence' are every existent, entity, attribute, etc., that exists. Objectivism uses the concept 'existence' to distinguish against things that are not real, that do not exist, such as, for example, things we imagine. I can imagine a 900-foot robot attacking Columbus, Ohio, but there really is no 900-foot robot doing this in reality. Thus Objectivism distinguishes between existence and the imaginary in this way.

I grant that Christians do not inform the concept 'existence' in the manner that Objectivism does, and frankly I think that is just the beginning of Christianity's problems. It means that Christianity has no conceptualy reliable means of distinguishing between what is real and what is merely imaginary. Christianity's failure to provide guidance on the proper relationship between consciousness and its objects only makes matters worse for the believer. I will shed more light on some of these points in my post replying to your other comments.

Until then, best regards!
Dawson

January 16, 2014 3:29 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Hello. Here's a friendly observation. Christians such as Matthias are substance dualists. They believe consciousness is an entity in and of itself which would, if their God willed the external world to cease existing, still exist in nothingness. Philosophers rarely agree, but on the issue of substance dualism, there is wide agreement the long list of problems with SD renders that doctrine conceptually invalid.

January 21, 2014 1:04 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Hello Dawson. If you and your family are in danger due to the current civil unrest in Thailand, do not hesitate to take prudent precautions for safety.

January 21, 2014 1:21 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your concern. So far we're out of the immediate crisis areas, so we've been okay. Unfortunately my wife works in the center of Bangkok (Wittiyu Road) which has at times been vulnerable to the protest marches. For the most part they have been peaceful, but there have been incidents of violence and a few fatalities. Last night (Tuesday evening here) the Thai gov't declared a state of emergency. It is unclear what exactly will result of this, but most are not very optimistic that things will get better. It is a strange situation - the folks marching in the streets are demanding a retreat from popular elections and want a sovereign autocrat as head of state. It's simply inexplicable.

At any rate, we're all keeping a close eye on local developments.

As for substance dualism, yes, you're entirely correct. Christians typically (and without deep examination into the matter) assume that consciousness is some kind of independently existing entity and that the body is just some temporary "host" or "shell". Nothing in reality suggests that this is the case, but going with nature represents the looking outward model of epistemology, and Christians of course prefer the looking inward approach, and so sense no objection to treating their emotions and imagination as facts.

I am working on more interaction with Matthias' comments (the ones he left on my blog Confessions of a Vantillian Subjectivist) but progress is slow due to time constraints and other responsibilities. Anyway, I'll keep plugging away when I can.

Regards,
Dawson

January 21, 2014 1:59 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

I had heard about some civil unrest over there some time ago, but I didn't really know the details and hadn't heard anything about it lately, as I hadn't been keeping tabs.

In any event, I hope it plays itself out peacefully, without it adversely affecting you and your family.

As for Matthias' comments on the comments thread of Confessions of a Vantillian Subjectivist, I'm looking forward to your response. I read his comments and was tempted to leave a reply in which I would've cited passages from your blog entry The Axioms and the Primacy of Existence, including this one: "So what inputs inform the theist's concept of consciousness beyond his own firsthand experience such that he thinks it is meaningful to suppose that there exists a consciousness possessing the exact opposite relationship that his consciousness has with its own objects? What gives his concept of consciousness such latitude? What units has he discovered and integrated into his concept of consciousness which allows him to affirm two contradictory metaphysics?..."

I didn't have time to craft a response, but here are just a few untenable notions which I was able to detect in Matthias' comments (my very brief comments and/or citations are in parenthesis):

Matthias: "...the Creator/creature distinction"

(Rationally speaking, an unnecessary distinction. As Anton Thorn notes: "The operative fallacy committing the religionist to dual-natured ideas, insomuch as he attempts to employ legitimate concepts, is the fallacy of reverse packaging. This fallacy was first identified in my article, The Issue of the Historicity of Jesus, Letter 1 of my Letters to a Young Atheologist, from which I quote:

The fallacy of reverse packaging is the attempt to divide single concepts by imposing on them an arbitrary idea or standard. Where the fallacy of the package-deal is the failure to distinguish between crucial differences, the fallacy of reverse packaging is the attempt to create such differences where they do not exist." http://www.oocities.org/athens/sparta/1019/WhyObjAth/Dear_Apologist.htm)

Matthias: "But Christians do use a different term than “knowledge” for God. We use 'God’s knowledge.'"

("Knowledge" by what means? Matthias is neck deep in stolen concepts here.)

Matthias: "I can think of one way, immediately, in which our approaches to concepts differ. As Christians, we begin with a description of God as set forth in the Bible."

(That the approaches differ is an understatement. Objectivism has an "approach," -- a theory, actually -- while, from what I've seen Christianity has nothing approaching that. Zilch as far as concept formation is concerned.

And "[d]escription"? A description composed of **what**? A bible composed of stories, which are composed of **what**?!)

Anyway, those are just a few of the many things that stood out. There are many more.

Ydemoc








January 21, 2014 6:07 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

bump

December 01, 2015 10:41 AM  

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