Saturday, January 04, 2014

Spinning Out of Orbit: Rick Warden Lost in the Outer Limits

Rick Warden has posted yet another attempt to dismantle my argument. And like all the others, it falls flat on its face at the very sounding of the starting shot.

Previous attempts by Warden to refute the argument from metaphysical primacy against theism can be found here:
To date, my blog entries defending my argument can be found here:
And now, in the present entry, I am posting a fifth installment, again exposing Warden’s errors and misunderstandings (or rather, disunderstandings).

General Overview

There are two general areas at issue here, both closely related. The first is whether or not theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. I have argued that it does, and I have brought out many points of evidence documenting theism’s dependence on the primacy of consciousness. Warden has resisted this identification repeatedly, but he has done so in a very ineffectual manner. Briefly, the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects, and in supporting my argument that theism assumes the primacy of consciousness I have cited, among other items, Christianity’s doctrine of creation (where the Christian god – which is supposed to be a conscious being – creates the universe by an act of consciousness; essentially it wishes and *poof* - the universe is zapped into being) and its doctrine of miracles (where the Christian god can alter the nature of objects by an act of will – for example, it can turn water into wine essentially by wishing and enable Peter to walk on unfrozen water by an act of will). Warden has contended that theism does not assume the primacy of consciousness because, according to his brand of theism, its god did not create itself nor can it cause itself to stop existing. None of these points are relevant to whether or not theism assumes the primacy of consciousness, and even though I have explained this, he continues to repeat these objections as though they had some kind of pertinence on the matter. They don’t.

The other issue is the conception of truth which my argument incorporates. I make it explicitly clear in my argument that it adopts the objective theory of truth – i.e., the view that truth corresponds to facts which obtain independently of conscious actions (such as wishing, liking, disliking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.). Warden contests that my argument begs the question because clearly such a view of truth carries negative implications for theism (which is an odd objection given his objection that theism does not assume the primacy of consciousness) and that it is a minority view held only by a specific group, namely atheists or at any rate atheists influenced by the philosophy of Ayn Rand. In response to this, I point out that not only is some general understanding of what truth is necessary prior to evaluating specific truth claims (a point which Warden concedes), but also that the general conception of truth that my argument incorporates is not in fact some unusual philosophical thesis, but in fact the very conception of truth that Warden himself implicitly assumes when stating that my argument is defective in some way (since he’s not saying it’s defective because he wishes it to be so or learned it in some dream of his). Below I will point out that while the wording of the definition of truth on the objective conception may be novel to folks like Warden (which is unfortunate, but merely an autobiographical datum rather than a worthy basis for objection), the essence of the objective theory of truth in principle is not novel, but implicit in virtually any knowledge claim a person makes.

So let’s look at these in turn with Warden’s latest objections in view.


The Issue of Metaphysical Primacy

The first thing I notice about Warden’s latest blog entry is his attempt to completely redefine my argument’s terms. He has removed my premises and replaced them with some of his own fabrication which bear no resemblance to the original. Anyone examining my argument and points that I have offered in support of it can see that the issue of metaphysical primacy as it is understood in my argument has expressly to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Warden’s attempts to revise (or rather mangle) my argument completely ignore this relationship, the very relationship which I have highlighted time and time again in my efforts to correct Warden’s persistent habit of misunderstanding my argument and getting lost chasing rabbits of his own making.

In his new piece Warden says that “primacy” signifies “that which is most powerful and that which is preeminent,” and states:
According to basic definitions, metaphysical primacy relates to fundamental aspects of being and the nature of the universe that supervene over all others.
None of what Warden says here, or elsewhere in his new blog, focuses on the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Rather, Warden’s tact here is to obfuscate this relationship, to bury it under a morass of vague generalities in which one could never know if a relationship between consciousness and its objects is even involved in the first place.

Thus Warden has AGAIN ignored what I have consistently and emphatically pointed out, namely that metaphysical primacy as my argument incorporates it has precisely to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Over and over again, Warden attempts to refute my argument without EVER grasping this distinction and incorporating it into his approach to critiquing it. Instead, Warden avoids – and from all that I can tell, deliberately - dealing with my argument on its own terms. But in fact, this is what we should expect if his sole ambition is to defend his god-belief (as opposed to discovering where the facts actually lead), for my argument is in fact more successful than even he senses as he attempts to refute a distorted version of my argument.

Warden has sought to invest the term “metaphysical primacy” with a meaning that he wants to generate from an analysis of the constituent terms in isolation from each other. This is a most elementary blunder. There are literally thousands of expressions in the English language which contain two or more constituent words and yet whose meaning cannot be derived by an analysis of the individual meanings of those words in isolation from the expression itself. The concept ‘take leave’, for example, cannot be fully understood by taking the meaning of “take” and “leave” and simply adding them together. The same with phrasal verbs (e.g., turn on, split up with, give up, etc.) as well as idiomatic expressions. Moreover, when it has been pointed out numerous times now that the issue of metaphysical primacy as my argument understands it has expressly to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects, Warden has no excuse for antics such as this.

Thus Warden indulges in more context-dropping. He yet again demonstrates a persisting habit of failing to integrate. At this point, I can only surmise that it is deliberate on his part. Warden senses that my argument does in fact refute theism wholly and successfully, and given his confessional investment in theism, he fears losing everything he has committed to a life revolving around his god-belief. Like Mike Licona, Rick Warden wants his theism to be true.

Warden writes:
According to what theism assumes, there is nothing more fundamental and primary in power than God’s eternal existence, to the extent that even an act of God’s own conscious volition could not logically nullify it.
Theism is a set of beliefs revolving around the notion of a “god.” Thus, as a set of beliefs, the concept ‘theism’ presupposes the consciousness of the one who believes it. So while Warden wants to tell us about “what theism assumes” in terms of particular dogmatic affirmations, a vastly more fundamental issue is involved here, namely the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Without this relationship, there would be no beliefs to begin whatsoever, whether theistic or otherwise.

Warden hastens to draw attention to “what theism assumes” as he understands it (i.e., with digressions concerning the details of his worldview’s particular mystical notions) in order to gain control of the discussion. But this only shows how desperate he is to avoid discussing the issue of metaphysical primacy – i.e., the relationship between consciousness and its objects - as it relates to my argument and the conclusion I draw in it. Since the relationship between consciousness and its objects is the central issue here, references to Warden’s god being “eternal” or its inability to “logically nullify” its own power or existence or whatever, are completely irrelevant. Warden can believe these things about his god all he wants, but if his god’s consciousness is characterized as enjoying metaphysical primacy in its relationship to any object distinct from itself, then the primacy of consciousness is thereby presuppositionally confirmed.

And ultimately, Warden’s entire attempt to refocus the discussion onto the question of whether or not his god created itself or can “nullify” its own existence misses a much broader epistemological point: How would anyone discover what Warden claims about his god? Stripped down to its essentials, Warden’s statement reduces to: “Christians imagine their god such that it did not create itself and cannot wipe itself out of existence.” Fine and dandy, but so what? Since this is all imaginary to begin with, it has no legitimate value. One can imagine a god creating itself just as easily as one can imagine it existing for all eternity. Similarly, one can imagine a god wishing itself out of existence just as easily as one can imagine that it does not have this ability. So Warden’s emphasis on “what theism assumes” as he informs it here carries no weight. The question at hand is whether theism assumes the primacy of consciousness or not. I have given ample reasons to conclude that it does. By contrast, Warden has given no reasons to suppose that it does not, and has actually confirmed that it does, such as when he wrote (in his blog Quantum physics proves that there IS an afterlife, claims scientist):
In essence, Lanza proposes that consciousness holds supremacy over the material world. This, of course, is in keeping with the biblical account of Genesis in which the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God.
Here Warden explicitly points out that “the biblical account of Genesis” is that “the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God.” Here the objects of consciousness (in this case, “the material world”) conform to the activity of consciousness. The Christian god wishes, and zap: “the material world” comes into being. This is the primacy of the subject in the subject-object relationship. There’s no getting around this. It’s plain for all to see. But somehow Warden will not allow himself to acknowledge this fundamental fact about his own worldview - even when he himself admits it plainly!

In spite of this fundamental defect, Warden treats “what theism assumes” as he explains as though it were some kind of fact that everyone needs to cohere to. In this way Warden tacitly borrows the primacy of existence from Objectivism. It doesn’t even work in the case of Warden’s Christianity since the Christian worldview essentially holds that “any fact, that is a fact, is a fact because God made it that way” (James White, quoted in The Portable Presuppositionalist, p. 215). On the Christian worldview, “facts” are just creations of a consciousness unconstrained by any facts to begin with. The starting point for Christianity’s god would be a factless void. So its whim holds metaphysical primacy over everything distinct from itself: it can do whatever it wants (as Psalm 115:3 affirms).

Contrary to Warden’s wishes, “what theism assumes” as Warden defines it, is not a fact. It’s simply a fiction. Thus Warden is attempting to shift focus away from the relationship between consciousness and its objects by drawing attention to what is merely a cocktail of imaginative fabrication in the first place. And since it does not address the relationship between consciousness and its objects, Warden’s point is completely ineffectual against my argument.

Warden writes:
If metaphysical primacy relates to fundamental and primary supervening powers in the universe, and there is nothing more universally fundamental, powerful and preeminent than God’s existence according to theism, such that not even a conscious act of God’s own will could nullify God’s existence, then theism does not and cannot assume the primacy of consciousness metaphysics in a universal and timeless sense, the most important aspects of a metaphysical consideration.
Here Warden indulges in a non sequitur of the wildest proportions. Quite simply, it does not follow that “theism does not and cannot assume the primacy of consciousness metaphysics” in any sense from anything Warden says before this. Again, Warden is not addressing the matter at hand, namely the relationship between consciousness and its objects.

The Christian god is said to be a conscious being. If it’s a conscious being, then the issue of metaphysical primacy invites us to examine the relationship this conscious being is said to have between itself as a conscious subject and any objects that are distinct from itself. Nothing in the statement Warden provides above addresses this relationship. As I pointed out previously:
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.
It is unclear why Warden does not grasp this, yet he does not provide any reasons for supposing this evaluation is not true.

In spite of this, however, Warden apparently wants to make it seem that the Christian view is compatible with the primacy of existence. But to do this he would have to show that the objects of the Christian god’s consciousness exist and are what they are independent of the conscious activity attributed to the Christian god. On such a view, there would be no creation of the universe by an act of will; there would be no miracles; there would be no “plan” for human history; there would be no prayer; there would be no “salvation by faith”; there would be no “spiritual healings”; no doctrine of “divine providence”; no doctrine of “divine sovereignty,” etc. All the staples of Christian god-belief would be jettisoned with the abandonment of the primacy of consciousness underwriting them.

In fact, the Christian worldview is explicit in its endorsement of the primacy of consciousness in regard to the Christian god qua conscious being with respect to any objects distinct from itself. Christianity holds, for instance, that the Christian god essentially willed the universe into being. This is known in Christianity as the doctrine of creation. The Christian god essentially thought and as a result the entire universe came into being according to what it thought. On the Christian view, the universe is exactly what the Christian god wanted it to be. Thus on this view, the Christian god’s consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over its objects.

The Christian god wanted to create a creature that is similar to itself in some unexplained way. Thus it took a pile of dust from the universe it had wished into being and wished that that pile of dust become a biological organism – man. According to the creation myth in Genesis, Adam was the first man. The Christian god wanted Adam to have a “helpmate,” so it took a rib from Adam’s body and wished that the rib become another biological organism – a woman. Accordingly, Eve was the first woman.

According to the Christian religion, the Christian god wished that its creatures “go forth and multiply,” and so they did. And when the Christian god got angry at them, it wished that all but a tiny handful be washed away in a worldwide flood, and according to the myth, that’s what happened. When you’re a consciousness that holds metaphysical primacy over all objects distinct from yourself, you can have them do whatever you want them to do. You can create objects at will; you can make them whatever you want them to be; you can manipulate them to do whatever you want them to do; you can do whatever you want, just as a cartoonist in the context of his cartoons can do. Hence Christianity gives us its own version of the cartoon universe of theism. In the end, the ultimate standard is the ruling consciousness’s wishing.

Recognition that this in fact reduces the Christian worldview to subjectivism is what prompted Christian apologist Paul Manata to break down and finally admit:
…in theism, there’s a sense in which reality is subjective - based on the divine mind.
Since then Manata has essentially gone into hiding, poking his head out once in a while to debate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

But Warden insists on continuing to see darkly. His mistakes are unjustifiable, and corrections have been brought to his attention on numerous occasions now. I have repeatedly explained in my responses to Warden that the issue of metaphysical primacy has expressly to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects, and yet Warden continues to avoid dealing with this matter.


Warden’s Antagonism to the Objectivity of Truth

In regard to the concept of truth, Warden is still lost in his own fuzziness. He apparently does not understand what truth is. What is clear in Warden’s mind is that he wants to find my argument guilty of some defect, in this case the fallacy of begging the question. I explained in my previous blog that “possession of at least a general conception of truth is logically prior to truth evaluations of specific claims.” Warden does not contest this. But he does write:
Dawson does not seem to want to admit that his definition of truth in the "first step" of his argument is unique to his beliefs
And yet, I had already pointed out several times that even Warden implicitly acknowledges the objectivity of truth whenever he makes a truth claim. Just to be clear (again), the objective conception of truth is that truth rests on facts which exist and are what they are independent of conscious activity. This means that when a person says that “X is true,” he is (at the very least implicitly) affirming that “X is true” even if other minds wish otherwise, prefer otherwise, don’t like it, imagine alternatives, feel miserable because of it, etc.. This is why I pointed out in my blog Three Steps Proving that Theism Cannot Be True that it is because truth rests on the primacy of existence that we are right to say “wishing doesn’t make it so.” The only alternative to this view is that wishing does make it so. If Warden wants to challenge the general conception of truth that my argument assumes, he must do so without making use of it in the very effort of challenging it. In other words, he must come out of the closet on the matter and acknowledge openly that his worldview’s conception of truth is the subjective view of truth – i.e., the view that wishing, wanting, likes and dislikes, preferences, emotions, imaginations, even dreams (!) hold epistemological primacy over truth just as they hold metaphysical primacy over facts (as they clearly do according to the Christian worldview which essentially holds that “any fact, that is a fact, is a fact because God made it that way” (James White, quoted in The Portable Presuppositionalist, p. 215).

Warden alleges that the conception of truth which my argument incorporates “does in fact define God out of existence from the onset,” and because of this my argument therefore begs the question. But this fails to take into account the fact that truth is not neutral, and thus Warden’s own objection here indicates just how far Warden has wandered away from the standard talking points of the presuppositionalist playbook. One of the beautiful points of my argument is that it exposes a fundamental contradiction in the theistic worldview – namely the contradiction between what theism affirms (e.g., “a supernatural consciousness created the universe and controls everything within it by means of conscious activity”) and the very notion of truth which the theist must employ in claiming what theism affirms is true (e.g., that truth does not hinge on conscious intensions). Just as consciousness does not have the power to wish reality into existence, we cannot objectively define the concept of truth such that it can apply to notions whose metaphysical basis contradicts the metaphysical basis necessary for the concept of truth. Perhaps what Warden fails to recognize is that the concept ‘truth’ does in fact have a metaphysical basis. So if we were to ask what the metaphysical basis of truth is in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects - i.e., the most fundamental relationship to all knowledge – what would theism’s answer be? Christians tell us that truth rests on their god’s existence, in which case, per Warden himself, any argument consistent with Christianity which seeks to establish the truth of theism would be begging the question. The implications of Warden’s approach is that he must beg the question arguing for the existence of his god to the same degree that he faults me for begging the question in my argument that theism is not true. Only my argument has an advantage that his does not have, and this advantage can only mean that my argument does not in fact beg the question, but rather exposes the inconsistency in any claim that theism is true (which I pointed out above).

The concept ‘truth’ that my argument incorporates, therefore, does not “define the Christian god out of existence from the onset,” since “the onset” here could only be the fundamental basis of the concept ‘truth’ which is metaphysical in nature, while definitions are epistemological in nature. Thus in attempting to salvage his charge that my argument begs the question on this point rests on a fundamental category confusion on Warden’s part. As I pointed out, we need a general understanding of the nature of truth prior to evaluating specific truth claims (such as “God exists”). Indeed, even though I pointed this out, Warden seems vacuously clueless on the fact that he himself tacitly administers the very conception of truth that my argument incorporates when he claims that my argument begs the question. Warden is not advancing his charge against my argument on the basis of his own wishing, preferences, likes and dislikes, imagination or dreams (!), is he? If he is, then they can be dismissed out of hand. Any rational individual should see this right off. But no, that’s not what Warden is purportedly doing. Rather, he’s saying that there really is a defect in my argument, and that no amount of wishing or preferring or liking or disliking, imagining, emoting or dreaming will change the situation. So here too Warden himself is making use of the objective theory of truth not only while not realizing it, but also while insisting that my argument is fallacious for making use of it, too!

Warden writes:
Unfortunately for Dawson, his actual definition of truth employed in his argument (Step 1, Premise 1) is not a general concept or definition of truth, but is quite specific to his objectivist beliefs. If this is not so, could someone please post a quote and/or a link to other philosophers, other than Ayn Rand objectivists, who define truth with regard to primacy of existence versus a primacy of consciousness metaphysics.
My argument proceeds on the basis of explicitly identifying the metaphysical basis of truth in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects – i.e., the most fundamental relationship to all knowledge. Since knowledge is knowledge of a conscious subject about some object or set of objects, the question of the nature of the relationship between consciousness and its objects with respect to the metaphysical basis of truth is inescapable.

By identifying the primacy of existence as the metaphysical basis of the objective nature of truth, Objectivism is not doing anything illicit. This is easy to demonstrate. Consider the following questions (which Warden will likely not weigh in on himself, though he should to make his position clearly understood by all – including himself):
1. Do wishes govern what is true? 
2. Do likes and/or dislikes govern what is true? 
3. Do emotions govern what is true? 
4. Do preferences govern what is true? 
5. Do imaginations govern what is true? 
6. Do dreams govern what is true?
At this point, let us ask: Can Warden produce anyone who will affirm a “yes” to any of these questions?

Now let us ask: What do each of these phenomena – wishes, likes and dislikes, emotions, preferences, imaginations and dreams – have in common?

Answer: They are all types of conscious activity.

Thus a consistent answer in the negative (i.e., “no”) to all of the above questions across the board implies a broader, more fundamental recognition, namely: that conscious activity does not govern what is true. In short, truth rests on the primacy of existence.

Warden offered three points as part of his objection against my argument’s explicit use of the objective theory of truth. Let's examine them.

Warden wrote:
1. If the theist God exists, it would be logically possible for God to be able to impart certain valid and important truths to humans directly from God’s consciousness to human consciousness through divine revelation, as described as a fundamental condition in theist texts.
How this is relevant to whether or not my argument is right in employing the objective theory of truth, is not explained. Along with Warden, I can imagine his god sitting up in its heavenly palace imparting “important truths to humans directly” from its mind by whatever magical means I care to dream up. But at the end of the day, I’m simply imagining, just as Warden is. This could only be relevant if truth were governed by conscious actions such as wishing and imagining. But then what would happen? Warden would wish that the Christian god were real while the Muslim would wish that the Islamic Allah were real, the Lahu tribesmen would wish that Geusha were real, the Zoroastrians would wish that Ahura Mazda were real, and I would wish that Blarko were real. Given the subjective underpinnings that Warden wants to reserve on behalf of his worldview’s conception of truth, reality would literally be a free for all, with everything and nothing existing at the same time (since one man’s wishes and imaginations would naturally cancel out anyone else’s).

Next, Warden wrote:
2. Bethrick’s definition of truth, as assumed in his “metaphysical” argument against God, offers that only truth values obtained separate from consciousness represent valid metaphysical truth.
This is a very clumsy attempt to reinterpret the view I have presented. The definition of truth that my argument incorporates recognizes explicitly that truth rests on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity (such as wishing, liking and disliking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.). The only alternative to this view is the view that truth does not rest on facts which obtain independently of such conscious actions. In other words, the only alternative to the view of truth that my argument incorporates would be the view that wishing makes it so, that liking and disliking govern what truth is, that imagination prevails over facts, etc. If Warden thinks there’s some third alternative here, he needs to identify and explain it in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects – specifically with respect to whether or not the types of conscious activity I have identified have any bearing on what is in fact true. Warden will not do this. In fact, as we can all tell, he resists interacting with the topic of the relationship between consciousness and its objects at all costs. That’s not my problem!

Warden wrote:
3. Therefore, by definition, in his argument Bethrick has set forth a definition of truth that precludes the possibility of fundamental theist truth conceptions and therefore precludes the possibility of God’s existence.
If the conception of truth which my argument incorporates does in fact preclude theistic notions from qualifying as truthful propositions (and I gladly concede that it clearly does), it does so not by definition as Warden has insisted, but rather by implication. Drawing out the implications of a general truth with respect to specific applications of that truth is not an instance of begging the question, but rather of deductive inference necessitated by the truth of its terms. As I have pointed out several times now, the conception of truth which my argument incorporates is not some strange, newfangled contrivance deliberately construed to rule out theism. On the contrary, it explicitly accounts for its dependence on the proper relationship between consciousness and its objects given its correspondence to facts which exist and are what they are independent of the types of conscious activity which I have identified (e.g., wishing, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.). If there is a large stone in my backyard, it’s there whether I wish, prefer, emote, imagine or dream otherwise. If I wish that the stone not be there, it will not pick itself up and cast itself over the fence into the neighbor’s yard in order to comply with my wishing. Mt. 17:20 is pure mystical fable. If I go to the rock and command it to remove itself from my yard, what will happen? Of course, the rock will remain right where it is. If I want it removed, I will need to initiate some kind of physical action to remove it. It will not conform to my conscious actions. No facts do. Why should we not take this fundamental fact about the relationship between our consciousness and its objects into account when seeking an explicit understanding of the nature of truth? Warden offers no reason for why we should ignore such facts, but clearly his worldview is not prepared to deal with them on a rationally mature level.

What Warden finds objectionable is not my argument per se, but rather the fact that truth is objective since it does have correspondence to facts which exist and are what they are independent of conscious activity.

Warden wrote:
Dawson has offered that a general acknowledgement of truth must be assumed if any philosophical discussion is to take place. I agree.
Actually, even more important, is that we should recognize that we need to have some understanding of what it means for a statement to be true on a general level before we can embark on evaluating specific claims as to their truth value. Hopefully Warden would agree with this, but he seems so eager to disagree with most anything rational that I dare not assume his agreement here.

But supposing he does agree (and his above statement suggests that he might), the question then needs to be asked: What is the metaphysical basis of truth in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects? If truth involves correspondence to facts (e.g., if a rock is indeed sitting in my backyard, then the statement “there is a rock sitting in my backyard” is true in that it corresponds conceptually to the state of affairs existing in the world), then we must ask:
(i) Do facts to which truth statements correspond exist independent of conscious actions like wishing, liking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.? 
(ii) Are the facts to which truth statements correspond what they are independent of conscious actions like wishing, liking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.? 
(iii) Does any consciousness have the ability to create and/or alter the facts to which truth statements correspond by means of conscious actions like wishing, liking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.?
I challenge Warden to address these and other questions I have asked in this blog. My guess is that he will continue to ignore them, just as he has in the past.

Warden wrote:
However, the specific definition of truth set forth in Dawon’s first step and first premise is in no way general, but highly specific to Ayn Rand objectivists.
No doubt, the wording of the definition of truth that my argument incorporates may be foreign to most worldviews; that is primarily due to the fact that most worldviews do not address philosophical matters with respect to the relationship between consciousness and its objects as Objectivism does. But it would not follow from this that the essence of the conception of truth so defined is therefore foreign to human thought in principle. On the contrary, any rationally mature adult will acknowledge that truth obtains on the basis of facts which exist and are what they are independent of conscious actions like wishing, liking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc. Even Warden’s own statements imply agreement with this, for otherwise they simply would not make any sense whatsoever.

So this is a most weak objection on Warden’s part. Since he is preoccupied with the association of my argument’s conception of truth with Ayn Rand, he will happily reach for any petty means by which he can try to undermine it. But can he deal with the real issues at hand? His performance to date indicates consistently that he cannot.

In fact, folks like Warden should he pleased when an atheist makes his conception of truth explicitly understood. As we see in the initial installment of my interaction with Dustin Segers’ apologetic, Segers’ first question for atheists when he went to the 2012 Reason Rally was:
"What is truth in your worldview? What's your definition of 'truth'?"
Now when I announce this definition up front, I’m charged with fallacy. It’s really amazing!

But even better, as I point out above, what my argument does is explicitly identify the metaphysical basis of the concept of truth in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects. By doing so, it slashes off entire categories of arbitrary and irrational notions. Warden objects to this because his god-belief is one of the things that are discarded as a result, and he wants to protect his god-belief. No one is saying Warden cannot imagine his god any more. He can do this all he likes. But he contradicts the very nature of truth by calling his theism “true” to the extent that he means it is true regardless of anyone’s wishing, preferences, likes or dislikes, emotions, imaginations, dreams, etc. So long as he claims that his theism is true independent of such conscious activity, he is performatively contradicting himself, and my argument exposes this contradiction. No wonder he doesn’t like it!


Conclusion

In the end, we can say with full confidence that Warden has adopted the same intensional orientation between himself as a subject and my argument as one of its objects that he imagines his god has between itself as a subject and the universe it is said to have created as its object. Just as the Christian god is imagined to have the power to magically turn water into wine by an act of will, Warden imagines for himself the power to turn a sound argument into an argument riddled with basic fallacies that even a first-year philosophy student would be careful to avoid. And all of this is made possible courtesy of a number of routine fallacious maneuvers on Warden’s part: mischaracterization, context-dropping, non sequiturs, stolen concepts, missing the point, etc., etc., etc.

Warden has no excuse for this. I have been clear in laying out my argument’s premises and explaining the meaning of their terms as my argument incorporates them. I have given examples and corrected many of Warden’s basic errors on numerous occasions now. Since Warden is clearly unwilling to examine my argument according to its own terms – specifically avoiding the discussion of metaphysical primacy in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects – I can only conclude from my interactions with Warden’s ill-fated attempts to refute my argument (first without knowing what its premises are, and then subsequently repeating fundamental mistakes that have already been corrected) that he senses the devastating damage it poses to theism and therefore is hell-bent on destroying it at all costs. As part of the entry fee for joining the Christian fold, Warden has already had to pledge to sacrifice himself on behalf of his god-belief. And the Christian god, as its worshipers imagine it, demand full sacrifice and allows for no withholdings or reservations on the part of the believer. Warden demonstrates that, while he may not actually be the real McCoy, he certainly wants to be and will spare nothing in his effort to sacrifice himself for his god, or at any rate make it appear to others that he is the real McCoy. Among the things he has sacrificed are his intellect, his integrity, his grasp of reality, his ability to focus on essentials, any ability to recognize his own errors and correct them, and that's just for starters.

So just as Abraham was unflinching in his willingness to sacrifice his own son as a burnt offering at the command of a voice he attributed to a supernatural being which we can only imagine, Warden is unflinching in his willingness to sacrifice his own mind on behalf of a worldview which is insatiable in its demand for personal sacrifice. Thus I shall make a prediction (which even my baker could make at this point): Warden will likely reply again and still fail to grapple with my argument on its own terms: he will fail to defend his theism from the charge that it assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects, and he will fail to acknowledge the objectivity of truth in terms of that same relationship. I also predict that he will continue to avoid answering the questions I have posed that directly pertain to these and related matters, for he prefers to hide in the shadows and not make his stance on objectivity explicit.

But going forward, when Warden charges my argument with some defect or another, we need only ask:
Is my argument defective because Warden wishes it, imagines it, wants it, emotes it, dreams it, dislikes it, etc.? Or, is my argument defective because of some factual state of affairs that obtains independently of anyone’s wishing, imagination, wants, emotions, dreams, likes or dislikes, etc.?
Such a line of inquiry can only haunt the mystically-inclined mind seeking to disguise itself as rationally solvent.

by Dawson Bethrick

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62 Comments:

Blogger Justin Hall said...

Watching Warden is like witnessing a man stubbornly and repeatedly running full speed at a brick wall in an attempt to plow through it. The protagonist keeps picking his bloody self up and making yet another run with predictability the same result. Albert Einstein called that insanity, that is trying the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

January 05, 2014 10:01 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Justin,

Yes, it really is amazing. But Rick Warden is the gift that keeps on giving. He's essentially an example of what happens to a human mind on Christianity.

Warden posted a comment over on his blog responding to you and me. I also posted a response - and it did get published. But just in case it is removed by the blog administrator, I will post both Rick's comment and my response below here on my blog.

Stay tuned!
Dawson

January 05, 2014 2:15 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Here's what Rick wrote in his comment:

******************************

Rick WardenJanuary 5, 2014 at 12:27 PM
Dawson and Justin,

While I in general do not mind answering questions about snow flakes, I believe that the main issues of concern in Dawson's argument could be addressed in a much more efficient manner if either of you would make an attempt to find fault with any of the premises of the two syllogisms I offered in the above article as a challenge.

Should I expect an attempt on either of your parts to address this challenge? Is it possible that you find no fault in any of the premises and simply do not wish to acknowledge that the two conclusions are true? Some feedback on poignant points would be helpful. Dawson is the one who initiated his "proof" against God. He seems to be very reluctant to defend the argument against the specific objections I have been raising,

How about this: you answer my challenge as noted in the above article, and then I'll discuss your snow flakes. Does that sound fair?


******************************

Yes, I know, utterly bewildering!

In a moment, I will post my response.

Regards,
Dawson

January 05, 2014 2:17 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Here's my response to Warden:

****************************


Rick,

The issue is not snowflakes, and I’m confident you recognize this. The issue is the relationship between consciousness and its objects, whether they are snowflakes, entire planets, human lives, etc. Justin’s question about snowflakes was merely for purposes of drawing an example.

I posed a very simple, direct question above when you affirmed that your god can alter things in reality (such as making snowflakes green, which you affirmed your god can do). Why don’t you answer it? You say your god can alter reality – changing snowflakes from white to green, for example (the bible has a different one: changing water into wine in John chap. 2 – I’m sure you’re familiar with it). So is your god’s consciousness involved in altering reality when it alters reality, or does it do this in a mindless manner? Your reluctance to address even a simple, direct answer like this makes you appear completely evasive, which is striking if you have any confidence in your worldview being true. Remember: your actions speak louder than your printed text. Your failure to address direct questions pretty much says it all, Rick.

You say that “in general” you “do not mind answering questions about snow flakes.” But clearly you do mind answering questions about you worldview’s metaphysical take on the relationship between consciousness and its objects. For over and over and over again you ignore precisely this issue, which is the central issue in my argument. Again and again your “refutations” consist of re-affirming that your god is eternal, that it did not create itself, that it cannot “nullify” its existence, and the like. None of this has anything to do with my argument. Thus they are completely ineffectual as objections against any premise in my argument.

Again: the issue at hand is the relationship between consciousness and any objects distinct from that consciousness - such as Justin’s example of your god causing snowflakes to be green – or, such as the water in the water pots being turned into wine.

As for what you have posted above, I have already responded to it here:

Spinning Out of Orbit: Rick Warden Lost in the Outer Limits

In my new entry, I address each premise in your two syllogisms. They’re full of holes, so that was not difficult. I also list some basic questions for your worldview to address, but it’s clear that you’re a very poor defender of Christianity, so I do not expect you to rise to the challenge of addressing them in any clear manner that is not evasive in nature.

[continued…]

January 05, 2014 2:17 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick, in your comment you wrote: “Dawson is the one who initiated his ‘proof’ against God. He seems to be very reluctant to defend the argument against the specific objections I have been raising,”

It would be utterly flabbergasting if you actually believed what you say here. It would only indicate just how out of touch with reality you are even when it comes to matters outside your immediate religious beliefs (such as when it comes to identifying observable actions of human beings right here on earth). I know you have posted my blogs in toto in your blog entries, and I’m glad you do this – your readers should see a stark contrast between your extremely poor attempts to feign a “refutation” and the devastating points I have raised against theism. Since you can’t deal with them, maybe you should find some readers of your site who can do better than merely evade as you have done so far.

By the way, I never did see any attempt by you to “refute” the following argument that I posted on my blog over two years ago:

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


Since you have not addressed this argument, perhaps you have nothing you can bring against it? Or, to paraphrase your own words: “Is it possible that you find no fault in any of the premises and simply do not wish to acknowledge that my conclusion is true?”

Several Christians who have attempted to “refute” this argument sought to deny the initial premise – i.e., “that which is imaginary is not real.” I think this speaks very loudly, don’t you agree?

When I contemplate your god, Rick, I know that I am imagining. I’m certainly not perceiving, and I know that what I have when I contemplate your god is something I must assemble volitionally in my imagination just to have an idea of what you mean by “God” when you speak of it. I can imagine this “God” creating the universe; I can imagine this “God” instructing Abraham to sacrifice his son; I can imagine this “God” becoming flesh and masquerading as a human being here on earth. I can imagine everything that Christianity teaches. The problem is, Rick: I’m imagining. Now, perhaps you think there’s no problem here. But you want to call your god real. I already know that what I imagine is fundamentally distinct from reality. Nothing you say can prove otherwise. But perhaps on your view, there is no such distinction. Again – it all goes back to the same fundamental issue: the relationship between consciousness and its objects – the very issue you keep avoiding in your “refutations.”

So I think you’re done, Rick. You’ve proven that you cannot fail to evade when you pretend to be addressing arguments against your god-belief. Your god-belief is so fragile that it cannot withstand direct attacks. That’s why you avoid addressing direct questions such as the one I asked above and the many that I ask over on my blog.

Regards,
Dawson

January 05, 2014 2:18 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Dawson just to let you know, I hunted down and found a copy of the published scientific paper Warden cites. I am going to read it and then give my opinion as to whether it supports metaphysical subjectivism or not and what conclusions can be drawn from that. I should have something to report by Tuesday night. I am doing this because I suspect that Warden likes to quote science (appeal to authority) without actually understanding it. Anyway cheers and be productive in achieving your goals.

January 06, 2014 11:18 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Justin,

In his blog, Warden cites "physicists such as Alexander Vilenkin" as having allegedly "mathematically determined that both time and the physical universe had a beginning." Do you mean this paper? I'd be very curious what working definition of 'universe' is assumed in such research. Warden himself qualifies it as "physical universe," which seems expressly contrived in order to leave room for something "non-physical," in which case I'd wonder how such research protects itself from wandering off into the imaginary.

Warden claims there that “the deeper question of metaphysical primacy relates to what existed ‘prior to’ time and the temporal, physical universe and what may have caused the universe to exist as we know it.”

First of all, that is not what the issue of metaphysical primacy concerns. I think I’ve been sufficiently clear in pointing out the fact that the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Theists like Warden who are confronted with the issue of metaphysical primacy are constantly going to try to turn the issue into something it’s not in order to avoid addressing questions about the relationship between consciousness and its objects. You won’t find any discussion of this relationship in the bible. Theists are motivated to ignore this issue at all costs since it spells certain death to their theistic affirmations.

Also, I would caution such thinkers to consider the relationship between time and existence. Time is a form of measurement, specifically a measurement of motion. That’s how we get the concept of a rate by which we can define a standard of time – e.g., the earth’s movement in relation to the sun. Time presupposes existence, not the other way around.

Or perhaps you have in mind the paper that Warden cites in this blog where it is stated that: “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”? Again, how are the key terms in such an exercise defined? What does “information” mean as it is used in such studies? Does “information” really mean a conscious being lurking behind everything making decisions and calling all the shots at will? This is what Warden would ultimately need such research to mean in order for it to be useful in defending his theism, in which case he would be conceding my argument’s premise that theism assumes the primacy of consciousness (indeed, that’s what he’s doing by drawing attention to such things in the first place, whether he realizes it or not).

Indeed, how does "information" bring a rock into existence? I want to know this.

Suppose someone concludes, by whatever means, that the primacy of consciousness is true. Such a conclusion would essentially be saying that reality is such that it conforms to conscious intensions. Would this be the case independent of anyone’s conscious intensions? If so, that would be the primacy of existence as the precondition of the primacy of consciousness, which would be a contradiction. Or, suppose I wish otherwise? Would reality conform itself to my wishing such that it no longer conforms to conscious intensions? How would that work?

Anyway, I look forward to your update.

Regards,
Dawson

January 06, 2014 4:13 PM  
Blogger freddies_dead said...

Warden's diversionary tactics are pretty common among theist apologists. They'll talk about literally anything but the topic at hand in order to avoid what's blatantly self evident i.e. that their worldview is nothing more than a house of cards sitting on the shifting sands of a stolen concept.

It's hilarious seeing how many times you've hammered home the fact that metaphysical primacy is an issue of relationships, only to see Warden flail around for some other way of misrepresenting the case.

I wonder if his fellow theists can see what's happening, or whether they too are only interested in protecting their confessional investment in the imaginary.

January 07, 2014 3:15 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi freddies,

Good to hear from you.

Yes, Warden's tactics are typical in the very sense that you identify. They're whole world is about evasion of facts, so we should expect nothing other than this from someone like Warden. Apologetic programs are essentially designed with the intent to disguise the mystic's evasion from facts. I can point out to Warden a hundred thousand times that the issue of metaphysical primacy has specifically to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects, but Warden will continue to try to revise this into something else, all the while leaving the topic of the relationship between consciousness and its objects untouched.

As for any theists who might follow Warden's blog, who knows what they're thinking, if in fact they're even following this discussion. No one else is jumping in to help Warden, which is noteworthy in itself: if my arguments were so tattered and flawed as Warden would like his readers to believe, then why aren't other theists jumping in and helping to point out my argument's alleged shortcomings? My guess is that any theists who might have any awareness of this discussion are simply hoping Warden takes care of it somehow, so that they don't have to get into the mix and soil their reputations. In that case, the subliminal thinking is, in essence: "Let Warden be the sacrifice while the others benefit from it."

Regards,
Dawson

January 07, 2014 3:30 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

OK Dawson I wrote up my thoughts and it turned out to be over 2,600 words long! So I simply posted over on my blog at this link

http://court-of-reality.blogspot.com/2014/01/rick-warden-and-science.html

I could try and break it up and post here if you wish but I have no desire to comment flood your blog. Hope all is well with you.

January 07, 2014 5:11 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Justin,

Thanks for providing a link to your new blog entry. I have started reading some of it, but have not had time to read it word for word or digest it fully. Some of it is rather confusing. I have no doubt that you’re entirely correct when you say that Warden “is speaking out his ass” when attempting to appeal to science in order to defend his god-beliefs, but I’m not familiar with “Kruger Dunning syndrome.” (I never even saw “The China Syndrome” – wasn’t that Jane Fonda?)

I found this statement rather difficult to understand:

<<Warden wants to conflate consciousness which in a broad sense is a subset of information and say because a system can be modeled and predicted solely on the bases of the information in the strictest sense contained within that therefor consciousness rules over matter, ie metaphysical subjectivism.>>

Are you saying that Warden conflates consciousness as “a subset of information”? Or, are you saying that conscious is in fact “a subset of information”? If it’s the latter, you would need to explain this to me. I have no idea what that would mean, or why one would think it’s true. Again, it goes back to what is meant by ‘information’ to begin with, but this is not very clear from what I read in your paper (and again, I have not had time to read it very carefully – very busy week for me here).

Remember that consciousness is axiomatic – it is irreducible. I don’t see how it could be characterized as “a subset” of anything (unless that “anything” is something like “biological activity” – and even here the word ‘subset’ seems ill-placed).

Regards,
Dawson

January 08, 2014 2:27 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Justin,

I think this is a good summary of Warden's "woo woo" tactic:

<<What Mr Warden is going here is what I call the Depak Chompra woo woo maneuver. It goes something like this. Theistic doctrine is non nonsensical, difficult to understand, and makes preposterous conclusions. Quantum mechanics is non nonsensical, difficult to understand and makes preposterous conclusions. Atheists and other septics typically put great “faith” in science therefor I will appeal to that authority and claim that it supports my position. I am likely to get away with it as few are willing or able to actually take the time to study the science I am claiming for my own and call me on my bullshit.>>

(However, I think the guy's name is spelled "Deepak Chopra".)

We could say that you have successfully "deepaked" Warden's "woo woo." Hey, I like that one!

Regards,
Dawson

January 08, 2014 3:28 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

septics... getting Deepak's name wrong was not the only spelling error I made, much to my chagrin. Well at any rate thank of for reading my post. I agree it was confusing, I was trying to explain concepts that are far removed from daily experience without getting bogged down in technical minutia and I think I failed. You are correct in that I was speaking of consciousness in the biological sense. I have always taken the axiomatic nature of consciousness to equate to the inter subjective experience of being aware while the claim that this awareness relates to biological activity in the brain as a argument with valid supporting evidence. The state of activity in the brain is a measure of information and so in that sense we can say that consciousness is information.
Oh and I greatly enjoyed your pun, deepacked indeed!

January 08, 2014 6:05 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Okay, here's an update:


Rick Warden has posted a comment on his blog. He wrote:

<<Hi Dawson,

I will reply to your comments in the form of a new post hopefully soon. Very busy.
>>

I have posted a comment in response to this. I will post it here below.

Regards,
Dawson

January 10, 2014 3:00 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

My response to Rick Warden:

_________

Hi Rick,

Yes, I understand busy. I’ve had a really busy week too. So I definitely sympathize.

But in fact, Rick, it would be most helpful if you could just address the questions that are already on the table waiting for you to address them. You know what they are. Attempting to refute my argument is futile. Your previous attempts have shown this. To refute my argument, you would essentially have to deny either that (a) truth is objective in nature or (b) theism assumes the primacy of consciousness. To date you’ve attempted variants of both, so far as I can tell, but at the same time you have affirmed positions which contradict your attempted refutations.

For example, when you challenge the objective theory of truth, you affirm your statements as if they were objectively true. But this is self-contradictory. It is an example of making use of the very thing you’re trying to refute.

Also, when you deny that theism assumes the primacy of consciousness, you elsewhere make statements like “In essence, Lanza proposes that consciousness holds supremacy over the material world. This, of course, is in keeping with the biblical account of Genesis in which the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God,” which is an explicit endorsement of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. Either you do not recognize this, or perhaps you’re hoping no one noticed the contradiction between this statement and your denial of the second step in my overall case.

So you have a fundamental choice: (i) adopt the objective conception of truth, or (ii) take some subjective path in an attempt to evade it.

Know that, if you affirm anything as a truth, I can simply ask:

Is that true because you or anyone else *wishes* that it is true? Or, is it true regardless of what anyone wishes?M

The former (e.g., “It’s true because someone wishes that it is true”) would assume the primacy of consciousness and therefore represent the approach to “truth” implied by a denial of my case’s first step. But that’s obviously subjectivism.

The latter takes the objective approach and thus coheres with (and therefore confirms) my case’s first step – i.e., that truth is objective.

You need to make your position on whether truth is subjective or objective explicitly true. If you affirm that truth is objective, you endorse my case’s first step; if you deny my case’s first step, you essentially affirm that truth hinges on conscious activity – such as wishing, emotion, likes and/or dislikes, preferences, imagination, dreams, etc. Thus anyone (including me) can simply deny what you affirm on the basis of counter-wishing. How far will that get any of us?

So you need to make your position on the nature of truth crystal clear.

So far you’ve tried to play both sides of a contradiction. You need to choose one or the other and be willing to stick with the results. That’s what a commitment to truth is all about.

[continued…]

January 10, 2014 3:01 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Remember, Rick, the key issue is the relationship between consciousness and its objects.

If your god is supposed to be conscious, then the question is: What is the relationship between your god’s consciousness and any objects distinct from itself that it is aware of? Do the objects of your god’s consciousness exist independent of your god’s conscious activity? Are they what they are independent of your god’s conscious intensions? Or, do they conform to what your god thinks, wills, commands, desires, wishes, etc.?

When you say that your god can make snow green, by what means can it do this? Would it do this by means of conscious activity? Or, would it be some *mindless* activity on the part of your god by which it would accomplish this outcome?

Did your god create the earth? If so, was it by means of some type of conscious activity? Or, was it a mindless action?

You tell me. Which is it?

Regards,
Dawson

January 10, 2014 3:01 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

I have a prediction. Warden will take the route all presuppositionalists take when confronted with POE. They know they cant deny the metaphysical subjectivism of Christianity so they will double down with TAG. They will assert that contra POE that metaphysical subjectivism of Christianity is what is actually required for knowledge. When confronted to produce an argument they will evade and produce large amounts of pretzel logic that upon critical examination will distill down to "you have to have faith" You have to believe god is real in order for TAG to make sense, which of course makes no sense! Around and around we go when one party cares for reason and the other does not.

January 12, 2014 11:25 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Justin,

Well, Rick Warden has posted another comment over on his blog. Your prediction is half correct: he continues to evade and produce even worse than pretzel logic (he just uses the term "logically coherent" as if it were some rubber stamp that he can use with unquestionable authority), but he does not seem bright enough to double down with TAG. Here is his comment in full:

*******************

<<Dawson,

>When you say that your god can make snow green, by what means can it do this?

- It is, of course, logically possible for God to produce green snow. It is logical that the physical law of aerodynamics supervenes over the physical law of gravity. It is logical that a supernatural God could supervene over the material qualities that cause color and change them. However, it is not logically possible for a metaphysical primacy of consciousness to supervene over the metaphysical primacy of God's eternal existence. That is a logically incoherent proposition and no matter how many times you may wish to claim that theism adheres to such a concept, and no matter how many twisted definitions you wish to come up with, you logically incoherent propositions will not be validated at this blog. Sorry.
>>

*******************

Notice how he simply avoids addressing my question entirely?

I will follow up here with the comment that I posted in response to his.

Also, I see that he has a new blog post up: Three Refutations of Objectivism

I have not read this yet. I predict its the same Rickwardenian refuse we've been seeing all along.

Regards,
Dawson

January 12, 2014 1:50 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Here's the response that posted over on Warden's blog:

Rick,

I asked: “When you say that your god can make snow green, by what means can it do this?”

You wrote: “It is, of course, logically possible for God to produce green snow.”

This does not answer my question.

You wrote: “It is logical that the physical law of aerodynamics supervenes over the physical law of gravity.”

This does not answer my question.

You wrote: “It is logical that a supernatural God could supervene over the material qualities that cause color and change them.”

This does not answer my question either. You do not even explain how this is “logical.”

What does it mean to say that “a supernatural God could supervene over the material qualities that cause color and change them”? What exactly does this mean? And, again:

By what means would “a supernatural God” do this?

We are speaking about the Christian god. Would this god “supervene over the material qualities that cause color and change them” by means of some type of *conscious* activity? Or, would it be by means of some *mindless* manner?

Your reluctance to address my question is entirely telling, Rick.

You wrote: “However, it is not logically possible for a metaphysical primacy of consciousness to supervene over the metaphysical primacy of God's eternal existence.”

The term “primacy of consciousness” does not denote an entity, Rick. It denotes a *relationship* between consciousness and its objects. I have explained this over and over. It’s not difficult to understand. Your statement here is itself incoherent. Does your god’s conscious intensions hold metaphysical primacy over the color of snow or any other “material” thing? Yes or no? Why not answer this question?

When we read that Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana in John chapter 2, did Jesus do this by some *conscious* action? Or was it a mindless action of some sort? How does Jesus turn water into wine, Rick? By means of consciousness? Yes or no?

You wrote: “That is a logically incoherent proposition and no matter how many times you may wish to claim that theism adheres to such a concept, and no matter how many twisted definitions you wish to come up with, you logically incoherent propositions will not be validated at this blog.”

I see, so over on your blog, wishing suddenly doesn’t make it so? You mean, the primacy of existence is true then? So any view which assumes the primacy of consciousness is “logically incoherent”?

What happened to your own statement where you wrote:

<<“In essence, Lanza proposes that consciousness holds supremacy over the material world. This, of course, is in keeping with the biblical account of Genesis in which the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God”>>

??????

Rick, the world is watching you dance around, but you can’t get over the bar.

Regards,
Dawson

January 12, 2014 1:52 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

"However, it is not logically possible for a metaphysical primacy of consciousness to supervene over the metaphysical primacy of God's eternal existence."

What the heck does that even mean? How does this even come close to addressing the issue? Rick is going to have to explain himself better.

January 12, 2014 2:43 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

"However, it is not logically possible for a metaphysical primacy of consciousness to supervene over the metaphysical primacy of God's eternal existence."

What the heck does this even mean? What is Rick trying to convey here. He needs to do a much better job of explaining himself

January 12, 2014 2:45 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

He doesn't know what he's trying to say. And that doesn't matter to him. What he's trying to do is move some of the pieces around to make it appear that he knows the board really well and has mastered the game. But in fact, statements like this expose Warden's utter lack of comprehension on the whole matter. He's trying to look smart in order to hide his dullness.

Regards,
Dawson

January 12, 2014 3:06 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

By my reading also, Rick has chosen not address your question(s). Very simple questions which he avoids answering directly. Not only is this reluctance to do so "telling" (as you have pointed out), but so is his choice to push the conversation into different directions via his latest post.

Ydemoc

January 12, 2014 7:37 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Update: Rick has responded to a comment that I left in the comments thread of his blog entry, Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted. - http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/12/bethricks-refined-primacy-argument.html

I had written (rather clumsily, I might add): "...let me ask you something that might help me clarify your position with regards to metaphysical primacy.

In the comments section of Dawson's blog, back on September 27, 2010 at 9:27 AM, you wrote: 'While I agree that reality exists independent of consciousness, I do not agree with many of the subjective assumptions of Atheistic Objectivism.'

Yet, in a more recent entry on your own blog, you stated: 'In essence, Lanza proposes that consciousness holds supremacy over the material world. This, of course, is in keeping with the biblical account of Genesis in which the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God.'

How do you square your two comments, i.e., how are they not contradictory?"

Rick has responded with: "I would like to clarify this issue. 'Reality' is a bit general. I would like to clarify that that the reality of God's eternal existence is a supreme quality not possibly interrupted by God's consciousness. With regard to the physical world, however, God's conscious volition holds supremacy over all. Hope that makes the contrast clearer."

I'm not sure how Rick's response helps him square his two statements. Furthermore, do we have Rick admitting here that his God is "conscious"? If so, why doesn't he simply offer this as an answer to Dawson's questions? Of course, doing so will open up a slew of other problems. Among them, answering this, from Dawson's archives: "...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?"

The Axioms and the Primacy of Existence
http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2006/12/axioms-and-primacy-of-existence.html

Ydemoc

January 12, 2014 8:42 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

"God's conscious volition holds supremacy over all"

Well there you have, metaphysical subjectivism in simple plain words. Glad Rick has seen fit to finally come clean on this. Now I feel completely justified in arbitrarily rejecting Christianity for that which can be only accepted arbitrarily can likewise be dismissed so.

January 12, 2014 9:56 PM  
Blogger Daniel GodIsTime said...

Off topic.

My wife and I are starting a breeding line of Cane Corso. Our foundation bitch is a beautiful female straight from Europe which we paid dearly for whose lines we researched extensively. She will be our pride when the line get going and we have our eye on a few suitable males in the states to breed with her when the time comes.

Long story short, in breeding, (breeding done on the up and up, anyway) litters are often named following the alphabet. The first litter all the pups will be named with "A" names, the second, with "B", etc. Well, since this female is our foundation bitch I chose to give her the ultimate in "A" female names. You can guess what name, I'm sure.

It is funny, that when the dog get's into something and gets under my skin to say, "AYN! You're such an IDIOT!" I think Ms. Rand would enjoy that if she were around.

Daniel

January 13, 2014 9:50 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Ydemoc,

Thanks for the update from Warden’s blog and for posting his damning comment here.

It’s obvious to anyone who knows what the issue of metaphysical primacy is that Christianity assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. Warden’s attempts to play the slippery rat only expose him to be the rat that he is. No amount of slipperiness on the part of Christianity’s apologists is going to change its subjective character. That Warden tries to dance around the issue – completely ignoring direct, enumerated questions posed expressly to him regarding matters where he has charged me with fallacies of various types – only suggests to me that he recognizes how damaging my argument really is.

Warden is clearly in damage-control mode, so it is no wonder, as you point out, that he has attempted to redirect the discussion with his latest blog entry (which is just more recycled rubbish anyway – as if no one has heard this drivel before). While Warden busies himself with trying to contrive new charges of fallacy against my argument, he fails to see the fallacies he himself and his god-belief commits. What were Jesus’ words about beholding the beam in his brother’s eye and not recognizing the mote in his own (cf. Mt. 7:3)?

Now Warden apparently wants people think that Objectivism is false because Ayn Rand took a weight-control drug for a number of years. Warden needs to acquaint himself with the fallacies of relevance, for there is no relevance between, for example, a philosophy’s rightful emphasis on reason and an individual’s dieting practices. It just shows how desperate Warden has become to outrun reason.

But meanwhile, in spite of his attempts to derail my argument’s sub-conclusion that Christianity assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, he entirely concedes the point elsewhere, as in his statement about Lanza’s research and now in his comment responding to you. It’s as though the guy were clinically schizophrenic. In one conversation he insists that X is the case; in another conversation he insists that non-X is the case. And he does this multiple times, going back and forth between these conversations. It’s an example of a mind deformed by the overwhelming desire to defend Christianity, for what reason no one knows. Are we supposed to get the impression from Warden’s hopelessness that he has some special hope to tell the world about? He’s simply trying to save face is all.

Regards,
Dawson

January 13, 2014 1:29 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Daniel,

Interesting comment. I never knew these things about the breeding business - e.g., naming litters in alphabetical order. Also, the term "foundation bitch" is quite colorful. It may even be a good name for a thrash metal band.

Your use of the word 'foundation' brought back a fun memory of mine. Back when I lived in San Francisco, I would frequently go to dinner with an aged acquaintance of mine. Conversation was always fascinating with him. But he had some very clever ways. When we'd show up to any of our favorite restaurants and they were packed with standing rooom only waiting for tables, upon our arrival my friend would whisper to the hostess, "We're with the Foundation," and almost without fail we'd be seated pretty much immediately. It really was hilarious watching the expression on the hostesses' faces when they'd hear this. I can only wonder what they were thinking. It was almost like code for "Seat us now, or someone big and powerful will be calling your boss in a flash." I get a kick every time I remember this.

Regards,
Dawson

January 13, 2014 1:37 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Your friend's "We're with the Foundation" maneuver... I gotta try that some time!

Good stuff!

Ydemoc

January 13, 2014 5:57 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Warden has posted another comment over on his blog. I quote it in full below. In my next comments, I will post my reply to him.

___________

Rick WardenJanuary 13, 2014 at 4:49 PM
>That you need to get your information on Objectivism from "rationalwiki" only confirms that you're only interested in doing a smear job here.

- While there were a number of points at RationalWiki I had not seen published before, I had already drawn the same general conclusions regarding major flaws in Objectivism.

>The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of subjectivism, such as your Christian worldview,

- You are mistaken, Dawson. It is apparently not possible for you to accept the logical possibility that objective truth and objective values are ultimately based on God's existence. Anyone interested in looking into this will find that theism offers a much more cohesive explanation of Rand's Objectivism.

If God Exists, Then Objective Morality Exists

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/08/if-god-exists-then-objective-morality.html

As far as you Argument From Imagination goes, your premise 4 is not only unsupported, the body of logical thought and logical debate today implies that it is patently false:

Premise 4: The god of Christianity is imaginary.

The leading debater on metaphysics today, William Lane Craig, has defeated all of his atheist opponents using logical arguments. It's quite easy for secular atheists to posture and pretend that God is a "delusion" when, in reality, Dawkins' argument is so flawed that he cannot help but to offer a long list of childish excuses for not debating Craig, as noted:

7 Reasons why Dawkins' Excuses for not Debating Craig are Illogical

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/09/7-reasons-why-dawkins-excuses-for-not.html

The spiritual blindness of the "top" atheist academicians is quite evident by their actions. Stephen Law presented a 2 hour critique of The God Delusion and not once did he even address or evaluate the "central argument" of the book, as outlined by Dawkins himself.

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/03/three-questions-stephen-law-wont-answer.html

So, if anything, the burden of proof today seems to be on the atheist today to attempt to gain some kind of traction in supporting atheism. Your personal argument has a number of fallacies that have been pointed out:

Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/12/bethricks-refined-primacy-argument.html

By the way, Dawson, what would you consider the strongest argument against God's existence if you had to choose one. I hope for your sake it is not the one you've just posted.

January 13, 2014 10:17 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Here's my reply to Warden:

************

Hello Rick,

I really enjoy hearing from you. It’s so fun to interact with what you write.

I had written: “That you need to get your information on Objectivism from "rationalwiki" only confirms that you're only interested in doing a smear job here.”

You responded: “While there were a number of points at RationalWiki I had not seen published before, I had already drawn the same general conclusions regarding major flaws in Objectivism.”

I’m afraid that you have yet to persuade me that this is the case, Rick. You don’t like Objectivism because you recognize that it poses a threat to your worldview. You run to “rationalwiki” because it’s already got something put together against Objectivism. The point here is that you do not do your own homework; you rely on another source to speak for you. If you had come to your own conclusions about Objectivism after investigating its primary sources firsthand, then the proper thing for you to do would be to present your own reasoning for your conclusions. But you aren’t doing this. Instead, you’re quoting other sources which are simply recycling the same garbage we’ve seen peddled as though it had any legitimacy (and as though Objectivists had never seen it before). Your choice to redirect our earlier discussion away from my arguments onto something else already tells us that you’re unable to deal with them effectively (and we already knew this from your persisting reluctance to address plain questions directed specifically to you). But now that you’re simply sponging off third-rate websites to do your heavy-lifting for you only makes matters worse for your credibility.

I had written: “The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of subjectivism, such as your Christian worldview,”

You responded: “You are mistaken, Dawson.”

No, I’m not mistaken at all, Rick. Objectivism is the philosophy premised securely and consistently on the primacy of existence metaphysics – i.e., the recognition that the objects of consciousness exist and are what they are independent of conscious intensions. This is the fundamental principle informing the recognition that wishing doesn’t make it so. Now since subjective worldviews are ultimately premised in imagination and wishing, there are hundreds if not thousands of variants of this. Christianity is one of them. Just as the Muslim imagines the Allah he claims to worship, the Christian imagines the Jesus he claims walked the earth and performed miracles 2000 years ago. In terms of fundamentals, there is no difference: both are fantasies.

[continued…]

January 13, 2014 10:18 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “It is apparently not possible for you to accept the logical possibility that objective truth and objective values are ultimately based on God's existence.”

The very concept of objectivity rests on the primacy of existence metaphysics. One cannot have objectivity on a worldview which essentially says “wishing makes it so.” But that’s Christianity – it holds that a supernatural consciousness’s wishing makes it so. The Christian god wished the universe into being; the Christian god wished Adam into being; the Christian god wished Eve into being; the Christian god wished a worldwide flood to wipe out most of their offspring to rid the world of “iniquity” (a lot of good that did); the Christian god wished that “the Sabbath” be holy; the Christian god wished that coveting your neighbor’s ass is a sin; the Christian god wished to be incarnated in flesh to resemble a human being; the Christian god wished water into wine, etc., etc., etc. On the Christian worldview, it all boils down to the Christian god’s wishing. You can’t get more subjective than this. As Christian apologist Paul Manata admitted: ”…in theism, there’s a sense in which reality is subjective - based on the divine mind.” At least Manata finally conceded this, but only because he was confronted with the issue of metaphysical primacy.

You wrote: “Anyone interested in looking into this will find that theism offers a much more cohesive explanation of Rand's Objectivism.”

What is theism’s “cohesive explanation of Rand’s Objectivism”? And on what is it based if not ultimately on the primacy of existence? Is it just more wishing makes it so?

[continued…]

January 13, 2014 10:18 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “If God Exists, Then Objective Morality Exists”

In your paper, I noticed that you cited a secular source (The Oxford Dictionary) as opposed to the Christian bible for your working definition of ‘objective’, which you gave as: “not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.”

If morality is objective, then what does your god have to do with it? Why would a god, whose personal feelings, wishes, commandments, pleasure, etc., influences everything?

A truly objective morality would be based on facts which we discover by means of reason, not deliverances of “revelations” from some supernatural source (which anyone can claim to have received). A truly objective morality could only be objective if the facts upon which it is based obtain independently of anyone’s wishing, preferences, likes, commands, imagination, emotions, dreams, etc. In other words, those facts would have to be what they are independent of anyone’s conscious activity. Since however Christianity is not compatible with the view that facts are what they are independent of anyone’s conscious activity, any morality it affirms could therefore not be based on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity. Thus there would be no objective basis for whatever it affirms as morality. Therefore, Christianity’s “morality” would at best be mere subjective opinion disguised to look like something it isn’t. And Christians who are caught up in the imaginative indulgences of worshiping the imaginary Christian god would be none the wiser, for at this point they would be acting on the basis of a confessional investment, not objective facts (since their worldview does not allow for objective facts in the first place). I’m glad these aren’t my problems!

In your paper, you wrote: “If God exists, then God's eternal nature is an objective fact.” Is that a fact? What is an “objective fact” according to a worldview which is premised on god-belief? What fact could possibly be objective? Christian apologist Chris Bolt writes that “every fact is what it is because God has said it is what it is” (“Redemption in Apologetics,” The Portable Presuppositionalist, p. 162). This can only mean that all facts ultimately hinge on someone’s say-so. But that’s clearly subjective. Going with your favorite Oxford Dictionary, ‘subjective’ means: “dependent on the mind or on an individual’s perception for its existence.” It’s clear that, on the view Bolt expresses here, that “facts” according to the Christian worldview are dependent on a mind for their existence. As Manata stated: “…in theism, there’s a sense in which reality is subjective - based on the divine mind.” So if facts are dependent on a mind for their existence according to Christianity, then there could be no such thing as an “objective fact.”

[continued…]

January 13, 2014 10:19 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Moreover, there would be the question of relevance here. If the Christian god existed, it would be utterly irrelevant to man’s need for morality and the nature of the morality he needs. This is because man needs morality because (a) he faces a fundamental alternative (life vs. death), (b) he therefore needs values in order to live, (c) he needs to act in order to acquire those values he needs in order to live, and (d) he needs a rational code by which he can identify what is a value, what is not a value, and the actions he needs to take in order to acquire those values which his life requires. This is called the moral code of life. According to what Christian teachings say about its god, the Christian god is supposed to be immortal, indestructible, eternal, and therefore would not face the fundamental alternative that man faces. It would not need anything in order to exist, nor would it need to act in order to continue being what it is. Consequently, it would have no objective basis to identify anything as a value or anything as a non-value. Utter indifference to everything would be its only option. It would be like a rock – having no need of anything in order to be what it is.

Man is a biological organism with the ability to identify the things he perceives by means of concepts. Thus he can identify what he needs in order to live and what poses a threat to his life. He can also identify the actions which he needs to take in order to acquire those values he needs in order to live and avoid those things which pose a threat to his life. He does this by means of reason. This is what Objectivism teaches, Rick.

By saying Objectivism is a false worldview, you are essentially saying that man (a) cannot identify what he perceives by means of concepts (which is self-refuting: you are using concepts to deny man’s ability to form concepts in the first place); (b) cannot identify what he needs in order to live and what poses a threat to his life (which we surely can; I do this every day – I would think that you do, too); (c) cannot identify those actions which he needs to take in order to acquire those values he needs in order to live and avoid those things which pose a threat to his life (which we surely do; again, I do this all the time); and (d) does not rely on reason in order to live. Additionally, by claiming that Objectivism is false, you would either be (a) saying this as though it were a fact independent of anyone’s wishing, preferences, likes or dislikes, emotions, imagination, dreaming, etc., or (b) saying it on the basis of your wishes, preferences, likes or dislikes, emotions, imagination, dreaming, etc. But there’s the rub: (a) clearly rests on the primacy of existence while (b) clearly assumes the primacy of consciousness. So if you say that Objectivism is false as though this were a fact independent of anyone’s wishing, preferences, likes or dislikes, emotions, imagination, dreaming, etc., you would performatively contradict yourself; if you say that Objectivism is false on the basis of your wishing, preferences, likes or dislikes, emotions, imagination, dreaming, etc., then you’d simply be expressing your own attitudinally charge opinion, which we can dismiss as nonsense. Either way, Rick, your condemnation of Objectivism is in peril.

[continued…]

January 13, 2014 10:19 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

In your paper, you write: “If God exists, then human morality is based upon God's nature.” This is sheer nonsense, for reasons indicated above. Man’s morality (i.e., the morality proper for man) is one which is based on his nature as a biological organism (which faces a fundamental alternative between life and death) which is capable of identifying what he perceives by means of concepts. An objective morality is one which is based on *facts* (specifically, not only facts which obtain independently of anyone’s wishing, but which pertain to man’s nature and his life needs). And the means by which we discover this objective morality is called reason. To affirm a morality based on theism is to deny both the objectivity of morality as well as reason as the means by which man discovers and defines his code of morality. Again, if the Christian god existed, it would be utterly indifferent to man’s existence, just as you and I are indifferent to the existence of an ant crawling around in Timbuktu. Even worse, while human beings can discover reasons to value the existence of ants, the Christian god would have no objective basis upon which to value anything. Nothing would be either a benefit or a threat to its existence. So any choices it would make would be utterly arbitrary. And at least the biblical portrait of the Christian god is consistent in at least this sense.

So your claim that morality is based on your god is all kaput, Rick.

You wrote: “As far as you Argument From Imagination goes, your premise 4 is not only unsupported,”

Actually, not only is your claim that my premise 4 is unsupported itself not supported, it is completely false. For one, you offer no justification here for claiming that my premise 4 is unsupported. Moreover, you make this statement in ignorance. For it is supported. In my blog The Imaginative Nature o Christian Theism I present 13 different and self-standing reasons for why we must conclude that the Christian god is imaginary.

Now Rick, don’t forget that I myself used to be a Christian. I know what it’s like to enshrine the Christian god in my imagination and seek to obey it through the activity of my life. At the end of the day, however, it’s all imagination. When you or anyone else speak of god, I have no alternative but to invoke my imagination just to contemplate what you’re saying. When I read the opening passages of Genesis chapter 1, I have no alternative but to use my imagination to contemplate what it’s saying. When I am told by Christians that I need to fear their god, I have no alternative but to use my imagination in contemplating what they want me to be afraid of.

I realize you don’t want me to get away with pointing this out and will probably try your best to “refute” me. Of course, I know, I was there myself once as well. Like Mike Licona admits, you want it to be true. It’s a fantasy that you have invested yourself in emotionally, probably for several decades now. You’re like a person who grew up believing in Santa Claus since you were little and simply don’t want to admit that it’s just an invention of the imagination. But if that’s what it is, Rick, that’s what it is regardless of how badly you want to believe it’s true.

[continued…]

January 13, 2014 10:19 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

But tell you what. Since you’re likely to continue insisting that your god is real and not merely imaginary, here’s a challenge for you:

Identify the means by which I can reliably distinguish between what you call “God” and what you may merely be imagining.

What do you say? Can you meet this challenge head-on? Or will you ignore this, just as you have ignored the many questions that I have posed to you in my blog entries?

You wrote: “the body of logical thought and logical debate today implies that it is patently false:”

Actually, that’s not the case so far as I have seen. In fact, pretty much everything I see from theists confirms that their god is imaginary. Your blog entries are no exception. No amount of logic will make something imaginary real. And no amount of logic will provide an alternative to imagination as the only means by which I can contemplate what Christians call “God.” You can produce a hundred syllogisms every day, Rick, each one leading to the conclusion “Therefore, God exists,” but in every case I still need to use my imagination to contemplate your god. Without man’s capacity to imagine, your god-belief would have nothing.

And indeed, you have presented no argument to refute my argument. Do you realize that?

Instead, you wrote: “The leading debater on metaphysics today, William Lane Craig, has defeated all of his atheist opponents using logical arguments.”

Even if this were true (and you do not show that it is true – you just baldly assert it), it’s irrelevant to my argument. Simply winning debates does not prove that the Christian god is real; nor does it alleviate anyone’s need to imagine the Christian god in order to contemplate it.

But since you introduced WL Craig here, can you show where Craig has interacted with any of my arguments?

You wrote: “It's quite easy for secular atheists to posture and pretend that God is a ‘delusion’"

If it’s true, it’s true, and it should be easy to point out the fact that the Christian god is imaginary. I can do it. I’m honest enough to recognize when I’m imagining something. Why aren’t you?

You wrote: “when, in reality, Dawkins' argument is so flawed that he cannot help but to offer a long list of childish excuses for not debating Craig”

What does Dawkins or his choosing not to debate Craig have anything to do with my argument? None that I can see.

[continued…]

January 13, 2014 10:20 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You realize, do you not, that you have a persisting habit of trying to push discussions away from the topic at hand. I asked how you would interact with my argument. You claimed that its premise 4 is unsupported, but this claim of yours is false. But even more importantly, where do you show that premise 4, or any part of my argument, is in error? Nowhere from what I have seen.

You wrote: “Stephen Law presented a 2 hour critique of The God Delusion and not once did he even address or evaluate the ‘central argument’ of the book, as outlined by Dawkins himself.”

What does this have to do with my argument? Nothing. Again, irrelevant. Maybe you can’t tackle my argument after all?

You wrote: “So, if anything, the burden of proof today seems to be on the atheist today to attempt to gain some kind of traction in supporting atheism.”

Why do you think this? If there is no god, what exactly does an atheist need to prove, and to whom do you think he needs to prove it? There will always be people who believe false things. Christians are an example.

You wrote: “Your personal argument has a number of fallacies that have been pointed out”

Yes, you did try to find fault with it, but I have already shown how your efforts to do so have failed. My argument has been defended and vindicated, and I have produced another argument which you have not challenged (unless you really think saying that WL Craig has won a bunch of debates somehow serves as a challenge against my argument – which I have answered above).

You can continue imagining your god all you want, Rick. I would never deny the fact that you have a right to govern your imagination as you please. But really, you should admit it when you’re imagining something. Don’t you agree?

You asked: “By the way, Dawson, what would you consider the strongest argument against God's existence if you had to choose one.”

Hmm.... there are so many! It’s hard to say which is the best. But tell you what. You tell me: What would you consider to be the strongest argument against the existence of square circles if you had to choose one? What would that argument be?

Meanwhile, I’ll stick with the arguments that I’ve already presented, for clearly they’ve got folks like you hanging on the ropes.

Regards,
Dawson

January 13, 2014 10:20 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick Warden is approaching the boiling point. Here's his latest comment:

__________________

Rick WardenJanuary 14, 2014 at 10:47 AM
Dawson,

In the first comment of your long-winded reply, you reiterated your claim that the only alternative to Randoid Objectivism is subjectivism. I've already attempted to explain why this is not so in the simplest terms possible. And I am beginning to understand that a debate with you regarding metaphysical questions is quite fruitless because you insist on incorporating definitions that are patently false.

Based upon your own quote noted in the above article, you have put forward a special and personal (i.e. subjective) definition of metaphysical primacy that no one but Randian Objectivists seem to agree with. If not, as I've requested before, present one reputable philosopher other than a Randoid objectivist, who embraces your view of metaphysical primacy. So far, no response on this, Dawson.

Get a Grip

If you would like to try to become more objective in your thinking, you might begin by not creating subjective definitions that are biased to support your personal world view. I have no interest in adopting your twisted and false definitions. I've already outlined why:

No truly objective person would be interested in adopting a definition of metaphysical primacy that is skewed to serve one metaphysical viewpoint. As outlined in a blog post, Bethrick attempted to prove that God does not exist by claiming that theism assumes a primacy of consciousness metaphysics while a primacy of existence metaphysics represents metaphysical truth. Yes, it’s true that theism outlines how God created the temporal material world with an act of the will. However, on a much deeper metaphysical level, God exists eternally and cannot logically nullify or recreate Himself. Furthermore, humans generally cannot create objects through conscious volition. What is a determined objectivist to do? Well, according to Bethrck’s definition of metaphysical primacy, God’s eternal and unchanging existence cannot be considered as a valid metaphysical aspect of theism in this case. And the fact that humans cannot generally create objects upon demand must be ignored. Wow. That's a very inventive and particular definition of metaphysical primacy, isn't it? Quite amazing. One may as well claim that the physical law of gravity holds physical primacy over the physical law of aerodynamics and that the flight of birds and planes cannot be taken into consideration in this case because one has decided that flying things do not count in one’s definition regarding physical possibilities.

This debate with you is beginning to become very tiresome because you and other objectivists seem to believe that other people must adopt your strange and false definitions as a starting point for debate. Even RationalWiki, a site you apparently dislike very much, could see through this charade. If you were to acknowledge that your definition of metaphysical primacy, as relates to the supposed primacy of consciousness for theism, is flawed, then that would be a starting place for a discussion. As it stands, there is not really much common ground for a debate with someone who demands that others employ blatantly faulty definitions. Would you be willing to acknowledge that your definition of metaphysical primacy is flawed and not objective at all?

January 14, 2014 2:21 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

And my reply:


***********

Rick,

You wrote: “In the first comment of your long-winded reply, you reiterated your claim that the only alternative to Randoid Objectivism is subjectivism. I've already attempted to explain why this is not so in the simplest terms possible.”

Yes, and I explained why your simplistic terms were wrong, and you have yet to interact with my points against your simplistic explanation. I am not going to simply accept what you say on your say so, Rick.

There are strong reasons why subjectivism manifests itself in a broad variety of ways resulting in numerous mystical worldviews – worldviews based on looking inward for knowledge as opposed to looking outward. Since there is only one reality and we discover its contents by looking outward, there can only be one correct worldview in principle. Even many Christians affirm exclusivity in just this sense, but they completely get it wrong when they say that their form of mysticism, which does not differ at all in terms of essentials with other forms of mysticism, is the only true worldview.

Since looking inward at the contents of our imagination, wishing, dreaming, etc., will produce all kinds of different outcomes (it could be Jesus, it could be Mohammed, it could be Buddha, it could be Avalokitesvara, it could be Zeus, it could be Ahura Mazda, it could be Geusha, it could be Blarko, etc.), there are consequently hundreds if not thousands of variations of worldviews based on the looking inward epistemological model.

So again, I have explained this. You ignore this, but get frustrated that I still recognize these facts and articulate them before you.

[continued..]

January 14, 2014 2:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “And I am beginning to understand that a debate with you regarding metaphysical questions is quite fruitless because you insist on incorporating definitions that are patently false.”

No, that’s not what’s happening, Rick. You’re getting frustrated because you are finding that you cannot continue battling against the truth. You have nothing to combat the truth with but a worldview that is ultimately premised in your imagination. Making vague and irrelevant appeals to WL Craig didn’t help; did you really think it would? Again, where has Craig interacted with any of my arguments? If you like Craig’s debates so much, perhaps you should suggest that he debate Dr. Andrew Bernstein; Bernstein wiped the floor with Dinesh D’Souza. Who knows, Bernstein might be happy to do such a debate. Would Craig be willing?

You say that my definitions “are patently false,” but you’ve nowhere shown this to be the case. Indeed, to do this, you would need to have a good understanding of the nature of concepts and the process by which they are formed, definition being the final step of that process. But where will you go for such an understanding? The bible certainly does not provide a theory of concepts. Neither does either Bahnsen or Van Til. In fact, from what I can find (and I’ve looked), there is no such thing as a distinctively Christian theory of concepts at all, and yet Christians going back to the apostle Paul use concepts all the time. But they have no account for what they casually take for granted.

Now, as I have explained to you numerous times now, the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects. This is a legitimate issue in philosophy and has been kicked around in one way or another by various philosophers throughout the history of philosophy, with few ever really coming to consistent terms with it. You have attempted to sidetrack discussion of the nature of this relationship in our exchanges, and instead affirm things like “God did not create himself” and “God cannot nullify his own existence,” none of which addresses any question I have raised on the nature of the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Claiming that my definition is “personal” and therefore “subjective” is just another attempt to slither out of dealing with the issue. If you don’t like the term “metaphysical primacy,” then feel free to call it something else. The issue here is not so much the terms we use, but the nature of the relationship between consciousness and its objects. But again, I don’t see what fault you find with Objectivism’s definition here.

[continued…]

January 14, 2014 2:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Essentially, Objectivism asks:

<<In the context of the subject-object relationship, which holds metaphysical primacy over the other: do the objects of consciousness hold metaphysical primacy over the subject of consciousness (the primacy of existence - objectivity), or does the subject of consciousness hold metaphysical primacy over the objects of consciousness (the primacy of consciousness – subjectivism)?>>

Nowhere do you show that this is an illegitimate philosophical concern. To do so, you would essentially have to say that there is no relationship between the subject of consciousness and its objects to begin with, which would amount essentially to a wholesale denial of the reality of consciousness as such, a position which commits the fallacy of the stolen concept (since one would need to be conscious to affirm this position).

But it’s already clear that Christianity assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics (i.e., subjectivism), as I have indicated numerous times on my blog. You yourself have conceded this in other discussions, but you resist doing so in discussions with me. For example, in your blog you wrote:

<<In essence, Lanza proposes that consciousness holds supremacy over the material world. This, of course, is in keeping with the biblical account of Genesis in which the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God.>>

Notice that in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects, here you affirm that the consciousness belonging to the god you imagine holds metaphysical primacy over “the material world” – since you claim that “the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God.” That’s the primacy of consciousness right there, and you’re clearly affirming that this is what “the biblical account of Genesis” teaches.

Also, just the other day in a comment you added to your blog Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted, you wrote the following to Ydemoc:

<<With regard to the physical world, however, God's conscious volition holds supremacy over all.>>

Here again you openly affirm the primacy of consciousness: “God’s conscious volition holds supremacy over all.” That’s the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, Rick. You have clearly and openly affirmed this at two different points, just as other Christians have throughout the history of Christendom. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

[continued…]

January 14, 2014 2:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Thus you unmistakably concede the soundness of Step 2 of my case against theism, which is:

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.


So contrary to what you have stated to me, statements that you have made elsewhere clearly confirm that there is undiluted common ground here. So if you want to contradict yourself – affirming in some conversations things like “God’s conscious volition holds supremacy over all” and “the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God” while choosing to pretend otherwise in discussions with me – you will only make matters worse for yourself.

Either way, the soundness of my case’s Step 2 is sealed and now beyond dispute.

[continued…]

January 14, 2014 2:23 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

That leaves Step 1:

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.


Here you need to make a decision, Rick: Is truth objective or subjective? To make this choice crystal clear, here are the options:

Option 1: Does truth correspond to facts which are absolute in that they do not conform to conscious intensions (such as wishing, preferences, likes and dislikes, emotions, imagination, dreams, etc.)? Or

Option 2: Does truth ultimately hinge on personal intensions, wishes, imagination, fantasies, emotions, likes and dislikes, preferences, commands, dreams, etc.?

If you affirm Option 1, then you affirm the objective analysis of truth: 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.).

If you affirm Option 2, then you affirm the subjective analysis of truth: that truth ultimately conforms to conscious intensions rather than absolute facts; that truth conforms to wishing, fantasies, imagination, emotions, commands, likes and preferences, etc.

I’m betting that if we examine your blog posts, we will find instances where you have either openly affirmed that truth is objective or at any rate treat truths as though they obtained independently of anyone’s wishing, emotions, commands, imagination, dreams, likes and preferences, etc.

So which option will you go with, Rick? Option 1 or Option 2?

Meanwhile, since you say that my other argument’s premise affirming that the Christian god is imaginary is “unsupported” (which is, as you put it above, “patently false”), I am still waiting for you to take up the challenge I issued previously:

Identify the means by which I can reliably distinguish between what you call “God” and what you may merely be imagining.

Care to take a stab? No?

Regards,
Dawson

January 14, 2014 2:23 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Dawson

Anyone that thinks William Lang Craig is a serious accomplished and respected philosopher in academia should view this youtube video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emZlovxLZUM

January 14, 2014 2:55 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Justin,

Thanks for sharing this. It's very enlightening. I've known since the '90s that Craig is just a hired charlatan shilling for Christianity. When Christians point to Craig as some kind of "leading" authority to be reckoned with and to his debate performances as models of intellectual prowess, they are making an autobiographical confession, namely that they've been conned by a master con artist. And that's really all that Christian apologetics can count on - con artists.

I've examined several of Craig's online articles presenting his theistic arguments. I find them entirely unpersuasive. But even worse, I find that, when I get to his arguments' conclusions affirming the existence of the god he imagines, I find that I too must use my own imagination to contemplate what Craig is trying to prove into existence. I've found nothing in either Craig's many online publications or anyone else's that remedies this profound deficiency.

But I'm always holding out hope. I've asked Warden to comment on this. So far he seems reluctant to engage the matter.

Regards,
Dawson

January 14, 2014 3:50 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Dawson

Yup, Craig has been pimping the same simplified Kalam argument for decades now. Any first year physics student that stayed awake during the introduction to quantum physics knows that premise one. everything that begins has a cause is false. Further anyone that has taken the time to gain more then a cursory understanding of the big bang knows that the second premise, the universe has a beginning is false as well. Very much weak sauce as the saying goes.

January 14, 2014 3:56 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

The way Craig informs the content of his premises strikes me as quite question-begging, especially when he defines 'universe' as something like "the physical universe" or some expressly contrived subset of existence as such.

If we accept premise 1 (e.g., "everything that has a beginning has/had a cause"), why suppose that existence had a cause? The notion that something caused existence as such is incoherent. Whatever is alleged to have caused existence proper would itself had to exist, which just results in an infinite regress.

Why start with a zero? Why not start with the fact that existence exists, as Objectivism does? Warden claims that Objectivism is contradicted by proven scientific facts. But he never delivers on this claim. Show me the money. Where exactly does Objectivism conflict with proven scientific facts?

Does affirming the fact that existence exists contradict any proven facts? Clearly not. Science as such presupposes that things exist.

Does affirming the fact that consciousness is real? Of course not. We could not conduct scientific research if we were not conscious.

So how does Objectivism conflict with proven scientific facts? Warden points out that Objectivists disagree with some scientists on their interpretation of certain phenomena. But scientists are not infallible. What does Warden do with all the biologists and other scientists who agree with the theory of evolution? Does he rest on their authority? Scientists are not monolithic in their conclusions. But Warden treats some scientists as unquestionable authoritites simply because they are scientists when their conclusions and interpretations can be contrived to affirm his religious beliefs, but rejects scientists as "atheistic naturalists" when their conclusiosn and interpretations conflict with his religious beliefs.

And he says my position is "subjective"?

The guy has a number of screws either entirely loose or completely missing.

Regards,
Dawson

January 14, 2014 4:24 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Dawson

The so called big scientific challenge to objectivism is quantum physics. Much of this has to do with an alleged response from Ayn Rand to the stated fact that a election could be in two places at once. She simply replied impossible and is said to have researched the matter no more. The problem however is that it turns out elections can indeed be in two places at once or more to the point travel two different paths at once. This was recently confirmed using neutrons in what was called a weak measurement experiment. Please follow this link for more info, http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.3775. It confirmed that neutrons fired singly could be made to pass down two different paths to a detector at once. What should be born in mind however is that regardless of what the implications of this are for the law of identity at no time was the physicist able to wish into existence the result he desired. If he or she wants to observe a neutron displaying superimpositional behavior he or she must set up the experiment a certain way, mainly to avoid strong measurements of the neutron and create a situation where the neutron can take more then one path. Or the researcher can set up the experiment with strong measurement and get very precise information about one or more aspects of the neutron say for example its position which will always be one place and only one place if one looks for that piece of information. What he or she cant do is preform a strong measurement and wish the neutron to be in superimposition. What quantum physics says is that the act of observing in certain carefully constructed experiments will have a profound impact on the observed result, not that one can wish for and get the result one wants. Wishing doesn't make it so even in the weird and counter intuitive realm of quantum mechanics.

January 14, 2014 11:41 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Oh and another fact, I am sure none of this is understood by Rick Warden. You commented once asking me what Kruger Dunning syndrome was. It is the psychological observation that those with the least standing to speak as an authority often feel they have the most standing. They don't know enough to grasp how incompetent they are. We all do this to one extent or the other. I cop by listening and always trying to grasp what the other has to say. If they call me on BS I will at least listen. I strongly suspect Rick on the other hand should I take the time to try and explain why quantum physics does not pose a problem for objectivism would simply continue on bleating out “Ayn Rand got one thing wrong about quantum physics and therefore her entire philosophy lock stock and barrel is kaput!” Perhaps next he will tell us about the time Ayn Rand stubbed her toe. Man if her philosophy was so good she should have seen that before hand avoided the foot injury!

It is really starting to show how desperate he is with his quibbling over definitions. I work in the IT profession. We out of necessity have taken common words and redefined them within the preview of our profession to mean very certain and precise things. This is necessary in any sufficient detailed and technical subject. When I speak of a bus when discussing computer processors for example I sure don't mean the number 9 to down town. I mean the architecture for passing information between memory and cpu. We are dealing with precise philosophical issues here and any argument should define its terms at the outset as you have done. Rick bitching and moaning about them just shows me that he cant actually deal with the argument, neither its premises nor its conclusion. To date Ricks argumentative style could best be summed up as the “HEY LOOK OVER THERE!” strategy. Well hope all is well Dawson and be well.

January 14, 2014 11:42 PM  
Blogger freddies_dead said...

IMO what Warden has done is the intellectual equivalent of the pigeon shitting on the chess board.

He's realised he's being soundly beaten in this argument and, rather than concede, he's chosen to throw out all manner of bullshit to try and obscure his inevitable defeat just prior to running away for good.

January 15, 2014 5:51 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Hello Dawson and friends. It's been several months since I last visited IP, but as always, Dawson's writing is a feast for one's intellect. I've not yet read through the entire post or any of the comments, and my lunch period only has a few minutes remaining. Therefore I'll keep my comment short.

Dawson observed that What is clear in Warden’s mind is that he wants to find my argument guilty of some defect, in this case the fallacy of begging the question.

My experience is that all theists and sundry other subjectivists want to imagine that logic somehow obtains independently of the relation between existence and consciousness, and this desire acts as a blinder upon their understanding. Consequently they fail to understand and blank-out that logic is how we describe the proper relationship between consciousness and existence and as such it presupposes that things are what they are independently of any form of awareness. Thus the assertion of question begging is an affirmation of metaphysical primacy of existence.

Best Wishes and Regards and Belated Cheers for a Happy New Year.

January 15, 2014 10:59 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Rick is still bitching about definitions over at his blog

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2014/01/three-refutations-of-objectivism.html

I took the time to post a response

http://court-of-reality.blogspot.com/2014/01/beware-those-that-cry-foul-at-use-of.html

January 15, 2014 4:36 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Robert,

Good to hear from you. Yes, you're right - theists do not recognize that logic is no good without objective content. To them it's just a scaffold for propping up their imaginary inputs.

freddies - that's hilarious! Playing chess will never be the same for me as it's going to be pretty hard to shake the image of a pigeon using the chessboard as a canvas!

Justin,

Thanks for your points above. Very intriguing! I will keep them in mind. Also, I'm looking forward to your new blog entry. I think I'll let our friend Rick Warden know about it as well.

Regards,
Dawson

January 15, 2014 5:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Okay, so here's Warden's recent comment:

____________


Hi Dawson,

One of the valid points posted at RationalWiki is the fact that Randian objectivists incorporate "strange definitions"

I had asked you to acknowledge the flawed definition you incorporate in your argument against God's existence, as noted at the following link:

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2014/01/metaphysical-primacy-timeless-truth-and.html

"If anyone disagrees with any of the premises and arguments I’ve offered in this second rebuttal to Bethrick’s primacy argument, please point out specifically which premise or premises you disagree with and why."

As noted in the comments of that post, Bethrick did not address his specious definition of POC. Rather, he offered to discuss snow flake colors instead.

I'll try again. Here I'll present my criticism in the form of a logical argument Could you please point out where you disagree with the following points and conclusion, Dawson?

1. Objectivist Bethrick claims that theism supports a primacy of consciousness metaphysics (PCM) that violates primacy of existence metaphysics (PEM).

2. This claim is based on the fact that theism describes a supernatural God who created the material universe through an act of volition.

3. According to Bethrick, his definition of PCM excludes two aspects that undermine his claim.

4. First, Bethrick claims that the fact that a supernatural and eternal God cannot logically nullify his own existence or recreate Himself is excluded from his definition of PCM.

5. Second, Bethrick claims that the fact that theists cannot generally create objects through an act of volition is excluded from his definition of PCM.

6. Objectivist Bethrick has created a highly specialized definition of a universal concept that denies the universality of that concept and arbitrarily excludes aspects that refute his claims.

7. Any highly specialized definition of a universal concept of reality that denies the universality of that concept and arbitrarily excludes aspects for subjective reasons is an invalid and false definition of that concept.

8. Therefore, Bethrick’s definition of primacy of consciousness is invalid and false.

It's difficult to debate with someone who chooses to use highly subjective definitions for metaphysical concepts.

Before we can continue debating, we need to clear up some major problems with your definitions. Can you address this, Dawson?

January 15, 2014 5:48 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I have posted a new blog entry interacting with the above remarks by Warden.

You can find my blog entry here:

Warden's Persisting Failure to Integrate

As usual, it is a thorough interaction with the subject.

Regards,
Dawson

January 15, 2014 9:08 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Justin et al.,

Warden just posted a couple comments over on his blog. Here's a portion of what he wrote:

<<You quoted one of my comments: <> and then you claim:

"Here you openly affirm the “supremacy” of consciousness."

Then you state, "But thesaurus.com shows that ‘supremacy’ is essentially synonymous with ‘primacy’.

Hmmm. So the fact that a spiritual God holds supremacy over the physical world somehow means that God's consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over his eternal existence?
>>

Can you believe this guy?

Amazing!!

Regards,
Dawson

January 16, 2014 4:34 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Theists tell us constantly that their god created **everything** distinct from itself -- the universe, heaven, hell, Earth, mountains, oceans, us, plants, animals, love, etc. Isaiah 45:7 even states: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."

Yet Rick attempts to minimize and/or completely avoid dealing with this -- with the metaphysical repercussions of his alleged god's alleged actions.

Yep. Amazing!

Ydemoc

January 16, 2014 7:34 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

I see with premise 4 and 5 that Rick still fails to grasp that the dichotomy between PCM and POM is a case of if not P then Q. That is if POM is not universal then PCM attains. His blathering on about how Christians don’t enjoy a PCM relationship with their objects of awareness is like nearly everything else Rick has said irreverent to the real issue. Does PCM attain to any degree for any consciousness, if the answer is yes then PCM attains.

January 16, 2014 9:46 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I have posted another comment (3 parts) over on Warden's blog. I'm posting it below:

****************

Rick,

You wrote: “I hardly see how questioning faulty definition is a ‘red herring’."

You need to open your eyes in order to see. And no, you’re not questioning my definitions, you’re simply asserting that they are faulty. Even here, your statement assumes that they are faulty. It’s a red herring because you’re making the definition of a term the issue of contention rather than dealing with the essence of my argument.

I wrote: "But thesaurus.com shows that ‘supremacy’ is essentially synonymous with ‘primacy’.

You responded: “Hmmm. So the fact that a spiritual God holds supremacy over the physical world somehow means that God's consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over his eternal existence?”

No more than when you say “with regard to the physical world, however, God's conscious volition holds supremacy over all,” that you mean that your god’s conscious volition holds primacy over its own existence. If you mean something else, then why can’t I mean something else?

Clearly you’re saying that your “god’s conscious volition holds supremacy over all” the physical world rather than “over his eternal existence.” Thus in the case of the relationship between your god’s conscious volition and the physical world, that would be the primacy of consciousness.

I find it quite unbelievable that you’re truly so confused as not to grasp this.

[continued…]

January 17, 2014 3:07 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “You have chosen one example, God creating physical things, that does not actually incorporate the meaning of ‘metaphysical’ and ‘primacy’ as a concept, Dawson.”

It does, since (a) the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects (as I have explained numerous times now), and (b) as Christianity teaches, the relationship between your god’s consciousness and the things it is said to have created entails the metaphysical primacy of your god’s consciousness over those things that it is said to have created. Otherwise, if your god’s consciousness did not have metaphysical primacy over its objects, it could not create them by an act of will. And yet Christianity is explicit that its god creates things by an act of will.

Now, if you want to say that your god creates things in some mindless manner, then (and only then) could you have any way of sidestepping the primacy of consciousness. But you’ve already affirmed the primacy of consciousness in an explicit manner, which can only mean that you concede Step 2 of my argument. I’m guessing you simply are not able to grasp these fundamental truths at this point.

You asked: “So what is the ACTUAL metaphysical primacy of theism?”

The primacy of your god’s consciousness over any objects distinct from your god. An apple, for example. When your god is conscious of an apple, which holds primacy over the other? The apple, or your god’s consciousness? Does the apple conform to your god’s conscious will? If so, that’s the primacy of consciousness right there.

You wrote: “God's eternal unchanging existence.”

So, your god is not a conscious being? Interesting. Most theists imagine that the god they worship is conscious.

If you say that your god is conscious, then what is it conscious of? Is it not conscious of things in the universe? In the relationship between your god’s consciousness and anything in the universe that it is conscious of (an apple for example), which holds metaphysical primacy in the context of that relationship: your god’s consciousness, or the objects of its consciousness?

According to Christianity, what you call “supremacy of God’s consciousness” in the context that you yourself intended (“with regard to the physical world”) entails the primacy of the Christian god’s consciousness with respect to any objects distinct from itself. Observe:

1) If your god wills that an apple exists in a certain location at a certain time, will the apple come into existence as willed or not? A yes here would affirm the primacy of consciousness since the apple’s very existence results from your god’s conscious actions. A no here would mean that any apple that exists, exists independent of your god’s conscious activity – i.e., your god would not have supremacy over the physical world.

2) If your god wills that the apple is of the golden delicious variety, will the apple be a golden delicious apple? A yes here would affirm the primacy of consciousness since the apple (the object of your god’s consciousness) obeys your god’s conscious actions. A no here would mean that the apple would not obey your god’s consciousness – i.e., your god would not have supremacy over the physical world.

3) If your god wills that the apple becomes a banana, will the apple become a banana? A yes here would affirm the primacy of consciousness since the apple obeys your god’s conscious actions. A no here would mean that the apple would not obey your god’s consciousness – i.e., your god would not have supremacy over the physical world.

So how do you answer these questions?

1) Yes or no?
2) Yes or no?
3) Yes or no?

Don’t tell me, you’re not going to answer, right?

[continued…]

January 17, 2014 3:07 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “You can CLAIM that God's creative acts signify Theism's metaphysical primacy, but you are not utilizing the true definition of ‘metaphysical primacy’."

As has been explained to you numerous times now, Rick, the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects – i.e., things that exist, things that are apprehended by conscious activity. What source defines the term “metaphysical primacy” as having to do with something other than the relationship between consciousness and existence? What determines which definition of a term is “the true definition”?

If “primacy” means “the state of being first in order, rank, importance, etc.” (per dictionary.com), then a hierarchical relationship is thereby implied by the term: first in relation to what? Objectivism holds that existence holds metaphysical primacy. In relation to what? In relation to consciousness of course.

You wrote: “RationalWiki was correct. Your wish to ignore basic and accepted definitions in favor of flawed and strange definitions puts you in a class by yourselves. :)”

We’re Objectivists, Rick. We’re happy to be in a class by ourselves. The fact that we are distinct philosophically is not an argument against the issue of metaphysical primacy or our definitions.

You refer to “basic and accepted definitions,” but you do not cite any source other than “rationalwiki” and their reaction that Objectivism’s definitions are “strange” (as though that were some knock-down argument). As for “rationalwiki,” their page on Objectivism does give a list of terms which they say have been given “strange definitions” in Objectivism, but “metaphysical primacy” is not among them. In fact, I cannot find any mention of “metaphysical primacy” on that page. So I do not find that they are making the same complaint that you are here.

The Objectivist definition of metaphysical primacy is a basic and accepted definition; what is more basic than the relationship between consciousness and its objects if not existence as such? Once consciousness enters into the mix, then and only then is a relationship in terms of primacy involved. Show me a source which speaks of “metaphysical primacy” and does not have the relationship between consciousness and existence in view. What source defines the term “metaphysical primacy” in some other way? And what relevance would this have anyway since it’s very possible for terms to have more than one definition? Even within philosophy, the term ‘realism’ has several different meanings. For example, there is realism in terms of universals, there is realism in terms of perception, there is realism in art theory, etc. Thus it is common (in fact, necessary) when philosophers discuss “realism,” that they clarify which theory of realism they’re talking about.

If you acknowledge the fact that there is a relationship between consciousness and its objects, then you accept the reality of the inputs which inform the term ‘metaphysical primacy’ as Objectivism has in view. That is what my argument is about, regardless of what terms are used to denote this. If you deny the fact that there is a relationship between consciousness and its objects, then you’re performatively contradicting yourself in that very denial. Either way, you’re stuck, Rick.

So again, Rick, you come back with yet another empty rebuttal. Your objections have no content. So Step 2 of my case is secure (it was all along). Now you need to make your position clear with regard to truth: on your view, is truth objective or subjective? If you affirm that truth is objective, then you concede Step 1 of my argument. If you do not affirm that truth is objective, then you eliminate yourself as having anything of importance to say on the nature of truth.

So, what will it be?

Regards,
Dawson

January 17, 2014 3:08 AM  
Blogger l_johan_k said...

Great post!
(as always)
regards, Johan

October 25, 2014 6:28 AM  

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