Saturday, May 17, 2014

Shining a Bright Light into Dave's Dark Cave

Dave McPhillips posted several comments responding to blog A Reply to Dave McPhillips on Bahnsen’s Treatment of the Problem of Evil. Dave is another wannabe presuppositionalist, trying his hand well beyond his skill and well beyond his knowledge of the topics that come up in debate. The darkness of ignorance encouraged by the Christian worldview is strong with Dave McPhillips: it has served to keep him from the light and has effectively reduced him to repeating apologetic slogans liked a well-trained presuppositionalist marionette.

For those who have been following my blog for several years now, do you notice a pattern? Every couple months another apologist comes by, often with some drive-by comment, speaking his nonsense and often not realizing how summarily he and his worldview have been refuted. Many disappear after the first round, but on occasion they return after a brief season only to wedge their feet deeper into their oral cavity. All too often this takes the form of simply asserting dismissive remarks like “that’s arbitrary,” “that’s subjective,” “that begs the question,” etc., without even attempting to explain why the tidbit in question commits the offense so charged. In fact, had my critics bothered to read more of my blog than just the brief passage that made them bristle to begin with, they would find that I have already anticipated their objections and have validated my position, even if they do not approve of it.
 
But after a few short rounds, they disappear for good and never come back, never the wiser, never the more enlightened. This is the effect of Christianity: it corrals the believer’s mind into a cave of ignorance where it seeks to enslave it to its mystical fantasies. Very few seem to find the courage it takes to question Christianity’s subjective premises and recognize them for what they are. To do this requires the choice to be determined in one’s honesty. Without this choice, the believer will be forever ensnared in Christianity’s tangled web of lies and deceits.

So here we go again.

Dave wrote:
I noticed in your reply to my comment you accuse me of using an ‘apologetical maneuver’, attempting to deflect attention away from what Christianity affirms and direct the spotlight on the non-believers worldview.
Yes, that’s right. And it’s true. We will see such deflection again in your own comments.

Dave wrote:
You say that this is done in order to evade the problem of evil. Such a conclusion could only be reached if one has completely failed to understand the nature of the presuppositional argument.
Ah yes, the old “You don’t understand!” part. Well, coming from presuppositionalists, perhaps there’s some plausibility to this since presuppers are in the habit of saying all sorts of things *about* their argument, but very rarely actually presenting it. Indeed, do you even present the argument? Perhaps you think you have. But it’s not clear that you’ve presented any argument. Observe:

Dave wrote:
Allow me to clarify. The presuppositional argument for the existence of God is a ‘transcendental’ argument; it seeks to determine what the preconditions to reality are given the espoused worldviews of opposing systems.
Stop right there. First, consider the notion of “the preconditions to reality.” If this is what a TA “seeks to determine,” it seems that it’s off to a doomed start. Wouldn’t those “preconditions to reality” themselves have to be real, and therefore part of reality? How does one go about determining that reality has any preconditions beyond itself to begin with? How is this guiding premise justified? It’s just assumed. What is meant by “reality” according to the TA? Well, presumably this would be informed by whatever worldview is generating the question to begin with. But a worldview which assumes that there are “preconditions to reality” to begin with seems to be saying that reality itself is not a primary, that something else is a primary. By what means of awareness do we come to know what this something else is? How do we distinguish this “something else” from something that is merely imaginary, and if it is supposed to be the “precondition to reality,” how do we qualify it as real?

Also, notice also this notion that the TA (as presuppers supposedly employ it) “*seeks* to determine” these alleged “preconditions to reality.” Well, when I listen to Bahnsen and other presuppers present their apologetic, I don’t find any “seeking” going on. In his debate with Stein, for example, Bahnsen presents his TA: “The transcendental proof for God's existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything.” I don’t see any “seeking” going on here. He’s simply asserting this. It’s not "seeking" that presuppers do with their “transcendental argument,” but rather stipulating.

Dave wrote:
It is an argument which attempts to evaluate opposing worldviews in order to distinguish which one is rationally coherent, that is, which worldview can adequately account for reality and make human experience intelligible.
Again, we have this notion that something other than reality must “adequately account for reality.” But if reality exists, it exists and it is what is independent of anyone’s wishes, preferences, likes, dislikes, feelings, imaginations, etc. In other words, the primacy of existence tells us that existence exists independent of consciousness. And yet, here we have the presuppers saying that they’re interested in what’s “rationally coherent.” Is it “rationally coherent” to say that wishing makes it so? I’m guessing (hoping?) Dave would say this is not rationally coherent. But yet, what does the Christian worldview give us? It gives us the notion that reality was created by an act of consciousness (cf. wishing) and that conscious activity “controls whatsoever comes to pass” (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 160). In short, the Christian worldview tells us that the “ultimate reality” is essentially a form of wishing makes it so. And the Christian imagines a conscious being whose wishes can make anything so.

Dave wrote:
This is the nature of the argument it is not an “appologetical [sic] maneuver.
Yes, the TA as presuppers employ it is an apologetic maneuver. It is saying one thing (e.g., we’re “seeking” something”) and doing something else (stipulating what must be, and based ultimately one something that is merely imaginary).

Also, what Dave offered in response to the problem of evil is also an apologetic maneuver. The problem of evil is an internal critique of Christianity. But in order to shift focus away from this fact, apologists redirect attention on how non-believer’s define evil, or whether or not they can in a manner consistent with their non-theistic premises. Dave made this maneuver plain as day when he stated: “The problem of evil is not a problem for the believer but rather a problem for the unbeliever.” No, it’s a problem for Christianity. Christianity affirms the existence of evil, and it affirms the existence of an all-good, all-powerful god which creates everything and controls everything. So the tension between these is all internal to Christianity, regardless of what some non-Christian happens to believe.

Dave wrote:
Instead of dealing with my statement that “one must first define what they mean by ‘evil’ given their espoused worldview and how that definition is meaningful” (i.e. have an epistemic basis for your assertion) before raising any moral complaint, you simply lay out the common form of the argument for the problem of evil.
Actually, no, that’s not what I did. What I did is lay out the relevant premises which Christianity affirms. Here they are again:
1. The god of Christianity is real and it is supposed to be all-good, all-powerful and wholly perfect;   
2. The universe (including everything within it) was created by the god of Christianity;   
3. Everything that happens in the universe is controlled by the god of Christianity;   
4. Evil and imperfection exist in the universe (i.e., in what the god of Christianity is said to have created).
The problem of evil is already evident right here in what Christianity affirms. This is not the non-believer’s problem. The non-believer may have other problems, but the non-believer (speaking for myself here) does not affirm the existence of a universe-creating, reality-controlling super-consciousness which calls all the shots and is supposedly capable of doing and creating only good. It is not the non-believer (again, speaking for myself here) who affirms the notion of “a morally sufficient reason for evil.” It is not my worldview which sanctions the use of evil to achieve desired ends. Christianity does this, not Objectivism. The problem of evil is certainly not a problem for the Objectivist worldview, since we do not grant metaphysical primacy to consciousness in the first place.
 
Dave wrote:
You do not interact at all with my challenge.
What exactly was Dave’s challenge? To provide a definition of ‘evil’? I did this. Was it to provide a context in which the concept of evil is meaningful? I have already done this. Was it to show how the problem of evil does not apply to my worldview? I have done this.
 
Dave wrote:
Now who’s making “apologetical manuvers”?
Answer: Dave is.
 
Dave wrote:
The form of the argument which you offer I have no quarrel with except of course, when you refer to the God of Christianity as an ‘It’. This is a blatant misrepresentation, Christian’s do not believe that God is an impersonal being but rather a ‘personal’ and ‘living’ God and although He does not possess reproductive organs, the Bible clearly defines God as male.
The word “it” is not a misrepresentation. In English, ‘it’ is the standard pronoun reserved for beings that are neither male nor female. The precondition for being either male or female is biological in nature. The Christian god is not supposed to be a biological organism. So it cannot be either male nor female. My reasons for using “it” to refer to the supernatural being which Dave and other Christians imagine may be offensive to them, but they will simply have to lump it. After all, Dave does not have to post his comments on my blog if he feels the god he imagines is being belittled somehow by the language he finds here.
 
Dave wrote:
Moving on however, your statement, “Thus the universe is supposed to have been created by an all-good, all-powerful [G]od which controls everything, and yet the universe is clearly saturated with evil and imperfection,” Shows no attempt to deal with Bahnsen’s answer, namely, that “God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil He foreordains”. In fact, at this point it has not even been mentioned.
The statement of mine which Dave quotes here was not intended to “deal with Bahnsen’s answer.” As Dave notes, I hadn’t even mentioned it yet. But I do deal explicitly with “Bahnsen’s answer” in the section following this quote.

What’s noteworthy is that Dave himself never mentioned “Bahnsen’s answer” to the problem of evil in his original comment about the matter (found here). Had I not brought it up, Dave may never have drawn attention to what Bahnsen has stated.

Dave wrote:
You then reply to my statement that ‘the problem of evil is not a problem for the believer but rather a problem for the unbeliever’ by saying that there is clearly an internal tension within Christianity on the problem of evil. But I would like to know where the ‘internal tension’ is so conspicuous?
The statement Dave makes here in the form of a question is autobiographical in nature: it reveals the shallowness of his understanding on these matters. If the problem of evil were not evident in what Christianity affirms, why have apologists for millennia (going back to the apostle Paul and earlier) struggled so hard to come up with solutions to it? Why does presuppositional theologian John Frame throw his hands up in defeat and state the following regarding the problem of evil? He writes (Apologetics to the Glory of God, pp. 150-151):
Is there an answer to the problem? That depends on what you mean by an answer. If you are seeking an explanation that will vindicate God's providence in every instance of evil, I certainly cannot supply that, and I doubt if anyone else can, either. Nor, I think, can we supply a totally satisfying theoretical reconciliation between divine sovereignty, goodness, and evil. The mystery of God's relation to evil is one that will, I am convinced, never be completely dissolved in this life, and I am not sure whether it will be in the next.
Notice that Frame does not endorse Bahnsen's "answer" to the problem of evil here. In fact, I don't think Frame's admission here can be reconciled with Bahnsen's attempted solution.
 
The problem of evil is generated by Christianity's own confessional affirmations. Christianity affirms that everything was created by the Christian god, that this god "controls whatsoever comes to pass" (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 160), that this god is all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing. Moreover, Christianity itself affirms that evil exists in the world. Even Bahnsen’s own “answer” to the problem of evil acknowledges this. And yet, the world is supposed, according to Christianity, to have been created by a perfect creator-god which is supposed to be all-good – i.e., everything it does – including everything it creates – is supposed to be good and only good. And yet, it created a world which, according to Christianity itself, is broiling in evil. There was so much evil in the world that the Christian god had to drown almost everyone with a global flood. (A lot of good that did!) All of human history, according to the Christian god, is said to be guided by the Christian god’s “plan” – right down to the number of hairs on everyone’s head. If Dave does not grasp the problem of evil in all this, I can only guess he’s not reading what has been explained to him.
 
Dave wrote:
Given the added premise offered by Bahnsen in reply to the problem of evil I don’t see why the problem of evil is a problem.
Dave’s blindness to the problem is no better a solution to the problem of evil’s than “Bahnsen’s answer.” I have critiqued “Bahnsen’s answer” in my post replying to Dave.

Dave wrote:
Consider the argument (1.) God is all-good. (2.) God is all-powerful . (3.) Evil exists. On these premises alone I can see how this seems inconsistent. However, if we add, as Bahnsen did, another premise (4.) God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil He foreordains or allows, the tension immediately melts away.
How so? Dave acts like premise (4) has some magic power that does not require explanation. Bahnsen did the same thing. Bahnsen nowhere even attempted to validate the notion of “a morally sufficient reason for the evil He foreordains or allows.” How can a “reason” for allowing evil be justifiably accepted as a “moral” reason? This is the challenge I raised against “Bahnsen’s answer,” but Dave seems oblivious to the problem.

Dave wrote:
In no way is there any logical violation or ‘tension’ if all four points are taken into account.
Here Dave tells us about himself and his worldview. He’s essentially saying that the moral is perfectly compatible with the choice to allow (and even “foreordain”) evil. This speaks to Dave’s understanding of what morality is. It also speaks to how Christianity informs morality.

Let's examine a case in point. Christians like to champion the anti-abortion cause. But according to what Christianity teaches, abortion could only be part of the Christian god’s “plan”: the Christian god has chosen to make the practice of aborting human pregnancies a part of human history. This was the Christian god's own choice; no one forced the Christian god to include abortion in its "plan" for human history. And yet, Christians act as though abortion were evil. But the Christian god has the ability and every opportunity to stop abortion. It even had the ability and opportunity to prevent it before the first abortion was ever performed. But abortion nonetheless happens in this world which the all-good, all-powerful god of Christianity is said to have created and continues to control. But Christians proclaim that abortion is morally unjustifiable. And yet, it’s all part of their god’s “plan”. Christians vilify abortion doctors for doing something that they've been predestined by the Christian god to do all along. The Christian god’s “plan” includes things that its worshipers proclaim as morally unjustifiable, something that is evil according to believers. Then Bahnsen comes along and says that his god has “a morally justifiable reason” for all this evil.

It’s bewildering that anyone could accept this (let alone propose it) as a solution to the problem of evil, but the only way one could accept it is by embracing a view of morality which is not inherently opposed to evil.

I’m glad these aren’t my problems!

Dave wrote:
You may not be persuaded by this argument but whether you are psychologically persuaded or not is intellectually irrelevant and does nothing to ‘invalidate’ the argument.
My criticisms of “Bahnsen’s answer” are not “psychological” in nature, as Bahnsen himself projected in his own follow-up remarks to it in Always Ready. My points against it are philosophical in nature. I will summarize a few of the essentials (though there is a lot more).

For one, Bahnsen nowhere attempts even to validate the very notion of “a morally sufficient reason to allow evil” to begin with. He simply asserts this notion and gives no explanation for how it could be meaningfully accepted as a conceptually solvent notion on its own.

Second, Bahnsen nowhere produces this “reason” which he calls “morally sufficient.” So we don’t know what it is that he is calling “a morally sufficient reason” which he says his god has for allowing and foreordaining evil. Bahnsen asserts that his god has such a reason, but we never get to see the reason and determine whether in fact it is “morally sufficient” for the task in question. Bahnsen himself even acknowledges that he does not know what this reason is, which means he affirms his evaluation that it is “morally sufficient” sight unseen.

Third, the very notion of “a morally sufficient reason” for allowing (let alone “foreordaining”) evil is a contradiction in terms. The purpose of morality is to equip man with the principles necessary for identifying, pursuing and preserving the good. On a rational understanding of morality, there can be no such thing as “a morally sufficient reason” for allowing evil. But this is what we find in Christianity: the Christian god routinely allows evil to happen, and since everything that happens, happens according to its “plan,” it actively foreordained all evil that has happened, that is happening now, and that will happen. The Christian god is clearly on cozy terms with evil. It is not anti-evil. And since it is not anti-evil, it cannot be said to be pro-good. That which is pro-good does not allow evil to happen (let alone “foreordain” it).

None of these criticisms are “psychological” in nature. Bahnsen (and now Dave) wants to call them “psychological” in order to dismiss them out-of-hand without attempting to defend the very notion of “a morally sufficient reason” for allowing evil in the first place (which Bahnsen never does!).

Dave wrote:
Granted, Bahnsen does not explicate his statement but I don’t believe he has to.
See? I rest my case. Bahnsen doesn’t have to explicate his statements, but everyone else has to. Somehow, Bahnsen gets a free pass.

Dave wrote:
The challenge from the problem of evil is that it attempts to show that there is logical inconsistency within the nature of God and since Bahnsen solves this “problem” by adding a fourth premise there is no need for further discussion since the “tension” has been quashed.
The logical inconsistency is internal to the entire Christian worldview. It stems from Christianity’s claims about a supernatural being which (a) we can only imagine, (b) is supposed to be all-good and all-powerful, (c) is supposed to have created the universe and everything within it, (d) govern all events that take place within the universe, and (e) condemns certain things and actions within the universe it allegedly created as utterly evil. Stating that this god then has “a morally sufficient reason” for evil can only mean that moral action is compatible with actions that allow and foreordain evil. By affirming such a notion as their “solution” to the problem of evil, Christians simply announce that their morality is not pro-good, not pro-value, not pro-human. But we know that already.

Ironically, what Bahnsen offers as his “solution” to the problem of evil can rightly be called “psychological” in nature, since (a) it provides no rational content in answer to the problem, and (b) it is geared toward putting the believer’s own anxieties about the problem of evil to rest.

Dave quoted Bahnsen:
"The problem of evil amounts to the charge that there is logical incoherence within the Christian outlook – regardless of how much evil there is in the universe, compared to how much goodness can be found. If Christianity is logically incoherent, no amount of positive, factual evidence can save its truth. The internal inconsistency would itself render Christian faith intellectually unacceptable, even granting there might be a great deal of indicators or evidence in our experience for the existence of goodness or for God, otherwise considered." (Always Ready. p.166.)
Of course, there is no “positive, factual evidence” on behalf of Christianity in the first place, so let’s get that out of the way. It’s like saying that I have “positive, factual evidence” for an invisible magic dragon which I imagine in my mind. What “positive, factual evidence” do I have for the existence of this thing that I imagine? Well, I could concoct all sorts of arguments for it, and like those proposed on behalf of the existence of the Christian god, one would have no alternative but to imagine the invisible magic being whose existence my arguments are supposed to prove. I could say that the invisible magic dragon explains everything in the world in a most tidy way. Hey, that works for William Lane Craig and the Christian god, why can’t it work for me and the invisible magic dragon that I imagine? Indeed, I still have no alternative but to imagine the god that William Lane Craig talks about.

But the problem of evil should not be difficult to understand. Christianity insists that everything that exists and happens finds its origin in the Christian god: it created everything that exists, and it “controls whatsoever comes to pass.” Nothing is exempt from the Christian god’s initiative in all this. And yet evil exists. So on this view the Christian god could be the only source of evil just as much as it could be the only source of rocks and dust. So given this, what could it possibly mean to call this god “all-good”? What does the concept “good” come to mean when it is applied to the source of evil? It’s cataclysmically worse than stepping on a piece of gum on a sidewalk and posting the sole of the shoe it got stuck on in an art gallery next to the Mona Lisa and calling it “a historical achievement in art.”

Dave quoted Bahnsen:
"Accordingly, it is crucial to the unbeliever’s case against Christianity to be in a position to assert that there is evil in the world"
This kind of maneuver (and yes, it is a maneuver) misses the point of the problem of evil, and only shows that Christianity’s defenders again fail to grasp fully the fact that the problem of evil is an internal critique. Christianity itself asserts that there is evil in the world. Christianity itself says its god is the source of everything in the world. Christianity itself says that its god is wholly good. One could suppose that, so far as he’s concerned, there is no such thing as evil, and yet observe the contradictions nestled deeply within Christianity’s own claims about its god and the world. This only suggests that Bahnsen is a very poor defender of Christianity. But how do you defend something that’s so wrong in the first place? Blank out.

Bahnsen continues:
“to point to something and have the right to evaluate it as an instance of evil.”
This is precisely what Christianity wants to deny men: the right to call evil what it is. But it requires men to accept the claim that its god is good. But how can one do this without having grasped the concept ‘good’ in the first place? And if one must be able to grasp the concept ‘good’ in order to accept the claim that something (e.g., the Christian god) is good, how can one do this without grasping what the good is distinguished from, i.e., evil?

This simply reveals the shallowness of the presuppositional apologetic. With its mind-numbing habit of continually dropping relevant contexts, it requires to both know and not know at the same time. One must know what good and evil are in order to know that the Christian god is good, and yet one is not supposed to know what good and evil are in order to recognize the obvious contradictions which result from the conjunction of Christianity’s own claims about its god and the world it is said to have created in its all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful wisdom.

Bahnsen continues:
“If it should be the case that nothing evil exists or ever happens – that is, what people initially believe to be evil cannot reasonably be deemed “evil” – then there is nothing inconsistent with Christian theology which requires an answer.” (Ibid. p.167-168).
But if that were the case, we could not make sense of the claim that the Christian god is “good.” So Bahnsen dumps the baby out with the bath water in order to excuse his worldview’s contradictions.

Dave wrote:
Therefore in order for the Problem of evil to be a workable argument against Christianity, the onus is on the unbeliever to validate his belief in the existence of evil, that is he must show that his conception of evil is rationally coherent given his espoused worldview.
Again, Dave misses the fact that the problem of evil is an internal critique of the Christian worldview. It matters not what the non-believer’s worldview may affirm; his worldview might be wrong too. But inability to do something in one’s own worldview would not undo the contradictions in another. And yet, this is precisely the angle taken by apologists here. Again, Christianity itself affirms that evil exists. That’s sufficient for the problem of evil to plague Christianity internally.

Dave wrote:
what he considers to be ‘evil’ must be universally recognisable as evil and to do so requires a rationally coherent standard for morality.
Why does one need that whatever he considers to be evil to be “universally recognisable as evil”? This is an appeal to collective agreement, and as such is a symptom of the primacy of consciousness: “if everyone agrees that X is evil, then and only then can we say we have a rationally coherent standard of morality.” But rational morality is not premised on the primacy of consciousness. Of course, Christians have yet to grasp this fact.

Dave wrote:
However, you might say that whether the unbeliever can validate the existence of evil or not, the Christian certainly has a conception of evil and believes in the reality of evil in this world. Therefore the Christian still faces an inconsistency.
Give the man a cigar! It matters not what the non-believer can or cannot do, or what his worldview provides or fails to provide. The problem is internal to Christianity, flat and simple. It is good that Dave has finally come around on this. That’s progress.
 
It's very simple: if a worldview contains a contradiction within itself, that contradiction obtains regardless of what some other world does or does not do. What another worldview does or does not do is irrelevant; nothing that another worldview does will alter the fact that the contradiction obtains in the first one. This is what presuppositionalists seem to have a most difficult time grasping.

Dave wrote:
As we have noted already this inconsistency is immediately vanquished once we add the fourth premise: ‘God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil and suffering He ordains’.
This is false. The problem is not solved by such assertions. All we have here in Bahnsen’s “answer” is an evaluation without content: we are told that a reason is “good,” but we are not allowed to see what that reason is in order to confirm whether or not it is indeed good. It’s like piling up a rent bill for years and saying, “Yeah, I can pay it, don’t worry.” What Gertrude Stein said of Oakland fits here as well: “There’s no there there.” Moreover, as I have already point out above, Bahnsen’s “answer” simply means that whatever it is the Christian worldview means by “moral,” is on amiable terms with evil. This takes all the wind out of any expression of Christian outrage. Indeed, all that Bahnsen offers in his “answer” is a psychological palliative which is intended to put the believer’s own anxieties to rest.

Bahnsen himself confirms this when he writes:
We can find it emotionally very hard to have faith in God and trust His goodness and power when we are not give the reason why bad things happen to us and others. We instinctively think to ourselves, “Why did such a terrible thing occur?” Unbelievers internally cry out for an answer to such questions also. But God does not (indeed rarely) provide an explanation to human beings for the evil which they experience or observe. (Always Ready, p. 173)
This is what Bahnsen is seeking to put to rest: the anxiety in those believers who find Christianity’s answers to such questions as “Why did such a terrible thing occur?” unsatisfactory. Bahnsen’s concern is not to offer answers which enlighten the mind on a given matter, but to stop the mind from considering the matter any further. Reading between the lines, we might find something along the lines of the following:
“Don’t worry what the reason for this terrible thing might be; just rest assured that whatever reason God has, it is a morally sufficient reason for allowing and foreordaining evil. So don’t inquire any further. God does not owe you an explanation. You’re just supposed to obey and worship regardless of what you can and cannot understand.”
So when a jumbo jet crashes and kills all 224 people aboard; when a tsunami strikes a string of fishing villages dotting the coast of some Southeast Asian country and wipes out some 15,000 families; when evil men rise to political office; when a gunman takes out 22 high school students; when a suicide bomber blows up a city bus and kills 29 people along with himself, etc.: the believer is not supposed to question why these things happened any further than he can satisfy his anxieties about such expressions of evil in the world he is expected to believe was created by an all-good, all-powerful supernatural being which he can only imagine, with the notion that it has “a morally sufficient reason” for allowing such evil to obtain in its own creation. For all that the believer knows, the Christian god just might find that it “has a morally sufficient reason” to deny the believer entrance into heaven and thus condemn him to an eternity in hell. Indeed, how can the believer argue with “a morally sufficient reason” to do so?

Of course, it never seems to occur to Bahnsen and those suckered by his subterfuge that his “answer” implies that the Christian god has no morally sufficient reason to prevent all forms and expressions of evil. So the Christian god, in all its wisdom, can have “a morally sufficient reason to allow and foreordain evil,” but in all that wisdom it cannot find a morally sufficient reason to oppose and prevent all evil absolutely. That’s an “all-good, all-wise, all-powerful god,” Christian style. Some “absolute god” there!

Thus Bahnsen’s “answer” has no rational value whatsoever. On the contrary, given the importance of morality, it is philosophically corrosive at its very root.

Dave wrote:
Now as Bahnsen did not explain as to what possible ‘reason’ God would have for evil that is morally sufficient,
Actually, Bahnsen goes even farther than this. He tells us that we will never know what this “reason” is that he calls “morally sufficient.” Here Bahnsen quotes Deuteronomy 29:29, which states: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God.” But of course, if the “reason” which the Christian god supposedly has for allowing and foreordaining evil is a “secret,” then on what basis can one rightly say it is a “morally sufficient reason”? This is what Bahnsen ignores, and that’s no accident. Indeed, he nowhere even attempts to validate the notion of “a morally sufficient reason for allowing and foreordaining evil.”

Dave gave his own speculations on the matter:
I will offer a brief explination. The claim of Christianity is that God is a "personal" God, a God who determines to enter into fellowship with His creation in order that we may gain a greater knowledge of our Creator (Jn.17:3).
I.e., of a god which chooses to keep secrets from us (vis. Deut. 29:29), so that “we may gain a greater knowledge” of it? Yes, in fact, that tells us quite a bit about the Christian god: it will not explain its actions, and it insists that everyone blindly call whatever it does “morally justified,” even if it causes us to ask “Why did such a terrible thing occur?”

If its intention is “that we may gain a greater knowledge” of it, why not show itself to begin with and stop with the hide-and-seek games? Why not distinguish itself from something that believers have been imagining all along?

Dave wrote:
To do this God must reveal Himself to us, that is, His divine nature and holy character must be made manifest to man if he is to achieve this knowledge.
This of course has not happened. Instead of the Christian god revealing itself to us, we find human beings claiming that it has. There’s quite a difference there. Christianity and its defenses always reduce to claims made to us by human beings, many of whom being unwilling to acknowledge their own fallibility on such matters.

Dave wrote:
All of God’s divine attributes are therefore revealed.
Dave’s use of “therefore” here suggests that he thinks this logically follows from the previous statements. It doesn’t. It’s a non sequitur. If Dave’s god is merely imaginary, then it hasn’t revealed anything to anyone.

Also, by appealing to revelation, Dave is signifying that reason is not involved in discovering and validating any of this. Rather, reason is replaced by faith in revelations. Faith is hope in the imaginary. Revelation itself is imaginary. So faith in revelations is essentially hope in imaginary revelations. That can only mean that his worldview is necessarily irrational, since rationality is the commitment to reason as one's only source of knowledge, one's only standard of judgment and one's only guide to action. Appeal to revelations constitutes a rejection of reason.

Dave wrote:
Man would know nothing of mercy if all men were innocent creatures.
Why? How does Dave know this? He provides no basis for this whatsoever.

Dave wrote:
He wouldn’t know God’s wrath if God didn’t exercise it upon sinful and rebellious creatures, he would [not?] have knowledge of justice if there were no injustice.
Actually, I don’t accept this either. One can imagine the wrath of an invisible magic being that he imagines just as easily as he imagines the invisible magic being itself. Also, such an individual can interpret the world according to such imaginations, calling the downing of a passenger jet or the destruction of a tsunami an expression of that invisible magic being’s “wrath.”

But it is interesting that Dave resorts to this kind of reasoning here, when earlier he completely ignored it. Here he seems to be saying that man “would [not] have knowledge of justice if there were no injustice.” And yet above, we saw how presuppositionalism wants to say non-believers cannot raise the problem of evil against Christianity since we cannot define the concept of evil. Yet at the same time, we are supposed to accept the claim that the Christian god is “good.” But if we cannot know what justice is if we don’t know what injustice is, how can we know what good is if we don’t know what evil is?

Of course, all these concepts – justice, injustice, good, evil, etc. – lose all meaning once they are underwritten by Christianity’s irrational premises. Just as the concept ‘morality’ loses meaning when one proposes the notion of “a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil.”

Dave wrote:
The apostle Paul gives a more in depth presentation of this fact in his epistle to the Romans (Rom.9:19-23).
Here’s what Romans 9:19-23 states:
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory
Here we have an appeal to the cartoon universe premise of Christianity. This simply means that we’re all puppets performing according to the dictates of the master puppeteer. Thus Christianity’s talk of good vs. evil, justice vs. injustice, moral vs. immoral, is all a charade, nothing more.

Dave wrote:
Allow me to offer the following hypothesis. If for argument sake, the God of Christianity exists and all men are rebels against Him and spurn His every gracious will and desire and are therefore liable to divine justice. Would the substitutionary sacrifice of His only begotten Son on the cross be an evil act that had no morally sufficient purpose on God’s part?
If one accepts the premise that an invisible magic being to whose wishes reality automatically conforms, he could argue anything, including the notion that it impregnated its own mother and died in order to appease its own arbitrary rules concerning blood sacrifice. Accepting the arbitrary in premise opens the door to the arbitrary in practice.

Dave wrote:
No doubt that the act of crucifying a man who had committed no crime would be evil (2.Cor.5:21, Lk.23:4, 14) but what was God’s reason for ordaining this event? The Christian claim is that through this act God would save those who deserve His eternal wrath and instead give them eternal life by offering Christ to pay the penalty due unto them.
In other words, the end justifies the means.

Here we have a parent turning its back on its own child while he is being tortured and readied for execution. The parent knows that its child is guiltless, and yet it does nothing to intervene and rescue its own child from suffering and death. And we’re told that this parent is a “loving God.” This is a “love” that sacrifices its own ideals to the corruption of vicious persons. And what was the express purpose of this? Indeed, the purpose was to make possible the withholding of justice as such! As Dave puts it, to “save those who deserve His eternal wrath.” On the Christian view, people deserve death, but justice is gagged and thus has no say. Those who deserve death are allowed to live by making someone else pay the penalty. This is Christianity’s formula for the pursuit of the unearned. It has nothing to do with rational morality.

Dave wrote:
Now given your Objectivist theory on morality salvation and the means thereof, must be the ultimate expression moral good because it is conducive to a person’s life not just temporally but eternally!

I’m not sure what Dave was trying to say here for it is garbled beyond coherent comprehension. But if he is trying to make a commentary on the Objectivist ethics, he needs to do his homework.

I had written:
They must also concede that, according to their worldview, the Christian god provides the necessary preconditions for evil as well.
Dave concedes my point:
I agree, God must be the precondition for evil inasmuch as without the God of the bible evil could not be defined.
Which can only mean that there is no Christian answer to the problem of evil. The Christian god, which is said to be all-good, is the ultimate source of evil. Thus Bahnsen’s “answer” that his god “has a morally sufficient reason” for allowing and foreordaining evil, is merely a distraction – not for non-believers, but for believers who cannot psychologically cope with the implications of the Christian worldview’s teachings.

Dave wrote:
God is absolutely holy and righteous, “in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn.1:5).
So the believer is to accept the view that a parent which chooses to stand idly by while its own child is being savagely tortured and executed, is “absolutely holy and righteous.” This can only be accepted on the premise of sacrificial ethics: the view of morality which holds that the sacrifice of values – not their achievement and preservation – is moral. Only on the basis of such a conception of morality could one come along and affirm the notion of “a morally sufficient reason” for allowing and foreordaining evil.

Dave wrote:
This is His fundamental character and evil is the very contradiction of that character.
And yet, Bahnsen (along with Dave) is telling us that this god’s character is such that it “has a morally sufficient reason for allowing and foreordaining evil.” In other words, going by what Dave states here, this god’s character is such that it “has a morally sufficient reason” for allowing and foreordaining that which is “the very contradiction” of its nature. Thus the Christian god, in terms of “moral character,” is on very cozy terms with that which is “the very contradiction of [its] character.” This is like saying one has a morally sufficient reason to replace food with poison when feeding people.

Folks like Dave really make it easy for me to remember how wonderful it is that Christianity is not my worldview!

Dave wrote:
If there was no absolute moral standard evil could not be defined or known, so in this sense God is the precondition for evil but not its creator.
The purpose of an absolute moral standard is not simply to define or know what evil is, but to teach man how to oppose and prevent evil absolutely. But if they worship a being which is said to have “a morally sufficient reason for allowing and foreordaining evil,” then they worship a being which is not prepared to oppose and prevent evil absolutely in terms of principle. And this is the key that’s missing from Christianity. Why is it missing? Because it attempts to build morality on an arbitrary basis: the whims of an invisible magic being imagined to be above the law and whose every action is supposed to be deemed “purely good” even if it results in the same kind of destruction that would result from wanton evil.

Dave wrote:
But how does the unbeliever understand evil? What standard does he use to distinguish between right and wrong? When posing an ethical judgment against another person what authority is the unbeliever appealing to which could justly validate his complaint? Surely the unbeliever believes that evil exists based upon his challenge to Christianity, but according to his worldview how can he account for the reality of evil?
These are all good questions. But Dave should understand that answers to these questions will vary from non-believer to non-believer (just as “answers” to the problem of evil have varied from believer to believer throughout history; not all defenders of Christianity would sign on with what Bahnsen has proposed). And this is because the answers to these questions have their genesis in philosophy, and there is a wide variety of philosophies out there, and most people have an implicit mix of various philosophies without any set of unifying principles. Of course, premising our understanding of moral concepts on the notion of things which are merely imaginary, will only render our moral concepts arbitrary. But this is what we find in Christianity, and it is true that many non-Christians have implicitly borrowed from Christianity’s model.

Dave wrote:
You then say that with regards to the problem of evil, “Any non-Christian’s view or lack of ability is irrelevant to the matter.” Wow, this is possibly the greatest example of an “apologetical maneuver” to date. By saying that the unbeliever’s views or lack of ability is irrelevant to the matter is purely an absurd statement. If you are raising a moral complaint against someone it is implicitly relevant for you to define your terms, what do you mean by the term “evil” and how do you define “existence?” If these terms cannot be made meaningful or intelligible then there is no more rational force to the argument. Given the same liberty the Christian could just as easily say “Any Christian’s view or lack of ability is irrelevant to the matter of the problem of evil.” So what if the Christian cannot account for God being both all-good and all-powerful and yet evil existing, if the atheist doesn’t need to account for his worldview why should the Christian? This is clearly prejudicial.
Here Dave errs (as so many Christians do) here by failing to properly understanding the nature of the problem of evil as it serves to undermine the Christian worldview. The problem of evil, at root, is not a “moral complaint” raised against Christianity on the basis of non-Christian premises. The problem of evil is an internal critique. Dave himself acknowledged the factors framing it as such above. Christianity affirms both horns of the contradiction identified by the problem of evil; the problem of evil merely identifies the contradiction.

Dave wrote:
You Finally begin to engage with Bahnsen’s answer to the problem of evil (i.e. “God has a morally sufficient reason for the suffering and evil that He foreordains”). You then comment that such a statement is not one which you have read in the bible. I’m not surprised there are possibly a lot of statements in the bible which you have not read.
The proper response to my observation that I have not read Bahnsen’s proposed “answer” to the problem of evil in the bible, is not to speculate on what else I might not have read in the bible (I haven’t found any passages on concept-formation, logic, the nature of induction, the square of opposition, the rules of inference, music theory, aerodynamics, etc., either), but to correct me if I’ve missed something that is in fact contained there. In other words, if the bible itself states that its god “has a morally sufficient reason” for evil, and Dave knows where it states this, he should provide a reference. That Dave does not, does not surprise me. In fact, it only confirms my observation.

Dave wrote:
Nevertheless, Bahnsen in no way shape or form contends that he is quoting from the bible when he says “God has a morally sufficient reason for the suffering and evil He foreordains.” This is rather an inference draw from the bible’s pervasive testimony of God’s righteous will. To take one example we have (Rom.8:28) “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good.”
Bahnsen claims to be giving a biblical defense against the problem of evil. And yet Bahnsen cannot find any passage in the bible suggesting that any reason for allowing and foreordaining evil can be “morally sufficient.” The notion of “morally sufficient” is absent from the bible. The passage which Dave cites here (Rom. 8:28) is just another psychological palliative intended to comfort the faithful. To the extent that it has any content, its only use is in citing the end to justify the means, nothing more.

Dave continued:
You then define your perspective or rather that of Ayn Rand, namely the “Objectivist” view of morality. You assert that “morality is a code of values which guides man’s choices and actions.” That “Objective morality is a moral code whose values are based on facts pertaining to man’s nature as a living organism that we discover by looking outward at reality.” So according to your view morality is a code of values which guides man’s choices and actions, as to why man is in need of such a code and to where he is being guided we are not told, it’s just asserted arbitrarily.
No, man’s need for morality is not “just asserted arbitrarily.” Consider the statement I made in my post responding to Dave:
Man faces a fundamental alternative – life vs. death – and life itself is conditional in nature: man must meet those requirements his life has in order to continue living. Since these requirements are factual in nature, an objective theory of morality must take them into account since morality as such is about guiding one’s choices and actions.
The fact that man faces a fundamental alternative – life vs. death – is a fact; citing this fact as a relevant concern to guiding man’s choices and actions is not arbitrary. “Arbitrary” means having no evidential basis and affirmed on the basis of one’s preferences. Man does not face a fundamental alternative because I prefer this. This is a fact that we observe about our nature and need to take into consideration if we want to live. We must act in order to live. We can choose to act, or we can choose not to act. If we choose to act, we can choose what actions we will take: to take those actions which promote our life, or to take those actions which work against our life. So our choices and actions have direct relevance to whether we live or die. Also, we need values to live. Because we face a fundamental alternative, our lives are conditional, and we must meet those conditions dictated by our nature as biological organism as to what those conditions are and how we should meet them. These are considerations for objective morality. That Christianity ignores these concerns only means that its “morality” is no objective.

Thus, because man faces a fundamental alternative, because his life is conditional, because he needs values in order to live, because he must act in order to achieve those values which his life needs, and because he must choose to act, he needs a code of values which guides his choices and actions. If Dave thinks this is “arbitrary,” no wonder he’s a Christian!

Dave wrote:
Moreover, how do we know that the codes of values are in themselves moral ones?
What is meant by “moral” here if it does not refer to a code of values? Dave apparently thinks the concept ‘moral’ can be applied as an evaluative descriptor without reference to values. But that’s Christianity: Christianity ignores values, their importance to life, and man’s need for them.

But to speak more generally to Dave’s question “How do we know?” Objectivism recommends that we always go with reason: we know these things by means of reason. Contrast this with what Christianity recommends in place of reason: faith in revelations – i.e., hoping in the imaginary. I’ll go with reason. Dave has apparently made his choice in favor of something else.

Dave wrote:
That is to say, upon what authority or by what standard to we distinguish between “good” codes and values and “evil” codes and values?
Objectivism answers this as follows: we distinguish good codes from evil codes on the basis of the axioms, the primacy of existence and the objective theory of concepts. In short, we go by facts, not by fantasy. I realize Christians find this quite unsettling.

Dave wrote:
Just asserting things with no validation is the same complaint you raised against Bahnsen and yet you hypocritically do the same thing.
How have I affirmed something without validation? I pointed explicitly to the conditional nature of man’s existence, the fact that he faces a fundamental alternative between life and death, the fact that he needs values in order to live, etc.

Dave wrote:
You say that moral codes and values are based on “facts” pertaining to man’s nature as a living organism that we discover looking outwardly at reality. I believe you are suggesting that moral values are a part of man’s nature which we deduce by looking outwardly at reality.
Man’s nature as a biological organism possessing the conceptual level of consciousness determines what he needs in order to live, i.e., the values he must pursue in order to satisfy his requirements for living. We discover what values we need, not by looking inward, consulting our feelings, imagination, wishes, preferences, etc., and calling them “revelations” from the beyond, but by looking outward at reality, including at ourselves as biological organisms and recognizing the conditionality of our natures.

Dave wrote:
Does everyone have the same codes and values?
Generally speaking, yes: we all need to eat, we all need to drink water, we all need to shelter ourselves against the elements, we all need an incentive to continue living, etc. And everyone I have met everywhere I have traveled on the globe, people pursue these values.

Dave asked:
If so, how do you know this?
By means of reason, of course.

Dave wrote:
Or are they relative to each individual’s interpretation of reality?
Suppose two people are hungry. Both of them need food in order to live. One of them finds an apple tree and eats a couple apples. His hunger is satisfied. But the other finds a bush with poisonous berries. If he eats that, what will happen? Will the consequences of his action depend on his interpretation of reality? The primacy of existence says no: the poison will be introduced into his system and take its effect regardless of what he thinks, believes, prefers, imagines, wishes, hopes, etc. That’s the primacy of existence. Why is it so difficult for theists to grasp this fundamental principle?

Dave asked:
And what exactly is reality?
Reality is the realm of existence. It exists and is what it is independent of anyone’s conscious activity (cf. the primacy of existence). Contrast this with the Christian view: reality is a creation whipped into being by the whims of an invisible magic being which the believer can only imagine (i.e., he can only “know” it by looking inward; he does not discover his god by looking outward).

Dave asked:
What method (i.e. epistemology) “ought” one adopt to know what is real and why?
Reason, of course.

Dave wrote:
Should we use empiricism, rationalism, existantionalism or pragmatism?
All these “isms” that Dave lists here have been defined in a variety of ways by different thinkers, so I do not suggest that we use them as though they had stable denotations. By reason, I mean the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses. We do this (identify and integrate what we perceive) by means of concepts.

Dave wrote:
These questions haven’t been honestly considered.
I can only suppose that Dave is speaking for himself here; in that case, I suggest he start considering them honestly.

Dave wrote:
People do not interpret the world in the same way; their interpretation of reality is determined by their underlying pressuppositions.
That’s why we need the primacy of existence. If one approaches questions about the nature of reality with the “presupposition” that wishing makes it so, for example, his “interpretation” of reality will differ fundamentally from the “interpretation” of someone who explicitly recognizes the fact that existence exists independent of conscious activity (cf. Objectivism).

Dave wrote:
Everybody has presuppositions;
So, in terms of metaphysical primacy, what are Dave’s “presuppositions”? Does he explicitly recognize the primacy of existence, or does he grant metaphysical primacy to some form of consciousness to whose whims and dictates reality allegedly conforms? Does Dave’s worldview provide a fundamental principle by which he can reliably distinguish between the real and the imaginary? Or, on his view, is the imaginary just as real as the real? If he has such a principle, what is it and where did he get it?

Dave wrote:
in fact in order to study the “outward reality” one must rely solely upon the fundamental assumption that there is uniformity and regularity in nature.
How could we have this “assumption” about nature if we did not discover it by looking outward? Does Dave think that nature conforms to his “presuppositions”? Or, does he think that his “presuppositions” should be based on and should correspond to nature?

Dave wrote:
Without order in the universe one would have no basis or grounds for projecting past experiences into future experiences.
Is this something Dave discovered by looking outward at reality, or by looking inward and consulting his imagination, his feelings, his wishes, his preferences, etc.? Or, does he not know how he discovered this in the first place? How exactly does his worldview address questions pertaining to the relationship between reality and consciousness? On his view, does reality conform to consciousness? Or does reality exist independent of consciousness? Or, has he never considered these fundamental matters in such explicit terms before?

Dave wrote:
But how exactly can you account for the uniformity in nature?
I suppose how one should answer this depends on what is meant by “account for” here. In my view, nature is not caused by something beyond itself; I reject the view that nature is the result of some form of conscious activity. Also, I do not hold that nature’s uniformity with itself is the product of conscious activity either. If nature is uniform, it is uniform independent of anyone’s conscious activity (whether that activity is wishing, preferring, emoting, hoping, praying, imagining, etc.). Since to exist is to be something specific, the uniformity of nature is essentially the concurrence of identity with existence: wherever things exist, those things have identity, they are themselves, and they are so independent of conscious activity. The task of consciousness is not to create and alter reality according to its internal content, but to perceive and identify reality and assemble contents based on what is discovered in reality by looking outward. If Dave is honestly interested in my views on these matters, I have already addressed these matters here.

Dave asked:
Is it just that way, in which case will it be just that way tomorrow?
The future is nothing more than the continuation of existence from the present. Concepts of time – including the concepts ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’ – presuppose the fact that existence exists. Thus to entertain questions about future activity, necessarily presuppose existence and identity, including the identity of action.

Dave asked:
And if so, on what basis do you believe that?
On the basis of the axioms, the primacy of existence and the objective theory of concepts.

Dave wrote:
Since no one has experienced the future empirically and since empirical observation is said to be the ultimate standard for truth as proposed by Ayn Rand, you have no way of verifying or even having confidence that order in the universe will be present in the future, in which case you have no rational grounds to engage in scientific investigation given your view of reality..
This is a most naïve understanding of what Objectivism affirms on these matters. Where does Rand say that “empirical observation is said to be the ultimate standard for truth,” and what exactly does that mean? Objectivism has a theory of concepts. This means that our knowledge is not bound to the perceptual level of awareness. We are able to form concepts on the basis of what we perceive and draw implications from those concepts. That’s called logic.

The notion that the universe will not be present in the future is incoherent. As pointed out above, the concept ‘future’ presupposes existence and identity. The universe is the sum total of that which exists. Existence does not presuppose time; on the contrary, time presupposes existence.

How does the Christian know that the universe will be present in the future? Indeed, his worldview teaches that the god which created it will wipe it out one day. They even have a name for it – the apocalypse. You can read about it in the drug-induced hysteria known as the Book of Revelation. It’s all visions and imaginings penned as though it were from the mouth of an invisible magic being (which has no mouth or other body parts to begin with). So this is a Christian problem. It’s certainly not my problem.

Dave asked:
You use the term “objective morality” and of course I agree morality is objective, it does not depend on man for its existence but how do you validate an objective standard of morality in an atheist world?
Well, for one thing, I do not validate objective morality by appealing to an invisible magic being which I can only imagine and saying that it “revealed” its moral code for man in a series of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots,” which do nothing to teach people to think for themselves in terms of moral principles.

Rather, I use reason to validate things like morality. What does “objective” mean? Objective does not mean “does not depend on man for its existence.” Rather, it means guided by the primacy of existence. Remember the view that wishing doesn’t make it so?

Dave asked:
Do you mean that morality is a product of the natural world?
Since to be objective, morality must have its basis in facts which we discover by looking outward (as opposed to fantasies, emotions, hopes, preferences, etc., which we find by looking inward). Thus nature determines what kinds of actions are moral and which kinds are not. There is no is-ought dichotomy here since value is a type of fact. Objective morality is not informed by categorical imperatives (e.g., “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not”) but by hypothetical imperatives – e.g., if you want to live, you should take those actions which make living possible. The purpose of objective morality is to teach man, not to suffer and die (like a Jesus), but to live and enjoy life. Do you want to live and enjoy life? Then Objectivism is for you. Do you want to suffer and die like Jesus? Then Christianity’s subectivist ethics of sacrifice is for you.

Dave asked:
If so, shouldn’t we then based of the evolutionary model, expect morality to change over time just like nature?
Evolution is not a philosophy. Nor is the theory of evolution the basis of morality. Man’s nature, his requirements for living, the facts pertaining to his life’s conditions, are the metaphysical basis of morality. If man somehow evolved such that he did not need values in order to exist – just as a rock does not need to do anything in order to continue being a rock – he would no longer need morality. But this hasn’t happened. We deal with facts, not fantasized alternatives to facts.

Dave asked:
How could anything be considered absolutely immoral based on this proposition?
Based on the god proposition, nothing could be considered absolutely immoral, for on such a view everything that happens, happens according to a god’s “plan,” and that god is said to have “a morally sufficient reason for allowing and foreordaining evil.”

But if morality is based on facts relevant to man’s life requirements, then we have a standard on which to apply moral judgment.

Dave wrote:
What’s evil today may be good tomorrow right?
This statement describes Christianity, not Objectivism. I wrote:
The good is that which furthers a rational individuals life by meeting his life needs and providing an incentive for continuing the effort living requires of him.
Dave reacted:
What you are advocating is that “good” is that which achieves a certain end, in this case the end achieved if the furtherance of a rational individuals life.
Something good can be that which moves one towards and end, or an end in itself. Pleasure, for example, is a good as an end in itself since it provides incentive for continuing life. What I am advocating is a morality based on facts relevant to man’s life needs, a morality that is pro-values, not anti-values, a morality which teaches man to pursue and achieve those values which further his life as opposed to a morality which insists that man sacrifice his values on command (cf. Abraham and Isaac, Jesus Christ, etc.).

Dave wrote:
However when you say “good” is that which is conducive to the furtherance of life you are already assuming that the furtherance of life is itself good. How do you know that the furtherance of life is an end worth achieving?
Since the basis of objective morality is factual in nature, and the facts which inform objective morality are facts pertaining to man’s life needs, life is the standard of value. The alternative to life is death. For worldviews which urge men to sacrifice their values on command (e.g., Abraham and Isaac, Jesus Christ), the standard is not life, but death. Death was the end that Jesus came to earth for. He came expressly to suffer and die, not to live and enjoy life.

Dave asked:
How do you validate the end which you have proposed?
Well, certainly not by appealing to an invisible magic being which I can only imagine. That’s for sure. How do I validate life as the proper end of moral action? That should not be so difficult to figure out. Remember that morality is a code of values which guides man’s actions. Values are those things which man requires to live. Thus values are distinguished by their pro-life orientation to human nature. Since man must act in order to live (he will not continue living if he takes no action whatsoever), he must act in a manner that results in pro-life consequences. Thus life is the proper end of such action – i.e., of moral action. Again, these are all facts. Death is the end of inaction or irrational action.

Dave interjected:
This is a completely arbitrary assertion; it would be just as plausible to say that good is that which destroys a rational individual’s life.
Thus saith the Christian in our midst: Life is arbitrary, facts are arbitrary, values are arbitrary, the good is arbitrary, etc. This is Christianity speaking.

Dave wrote:
Unless you can make your asserted end meaningful all you do is you posit an irrational basis for morality.
Meaning is a property of concepts and symbols. My life is an actual concrete. If my moral code is successful in teaching me to live and enjoy my life, how is it irrational? What possibly could a Christian even mean by “irrational”? Rationality is the chosen commitment to reason as one’s only source of knowledge, his only standard of judgment, his only guide to action. Thus a rational form of morality must be one that is based on reason – i.e., on the facts which we discover in the world by looking outward. Dave seems anxious simply to dismiss any alternative to Christianity as “irrational” without being very concerned about the content he is condemning. How is a morality based on facts as they are discovered by means of reason “irrational”? Dave does not explain. He simply throws it out there in a most typical Christian unthinking way.

Dave wrote:
You say “man faces a fundamental alternative- life vs. death, if so, “how ought man make his decision? On what basis does he choose life over death or is it merely assumed that man should choose life?
No, it is not assumed that man should choose life. But morality does not apply at this point: morality only applies once one has made the choice to live. If one chooses to die, then he does not need morality. Morality is for the living, not for the dead. Morality is for those who choose to live, not for those who choose to die. As for why choose to live? Each individual must make this choice for himself. No one can for this choice on another.

Now consider, if I supposed that there were an invisible magic being and I worshiped it, and I wanted to spend all eternity with it, and I thought that this is what would happen once I died, why would I choose to live? This life, according to Christians, is but a vapor. Here one minute, gone the next, and its only importance is in reference to the eternity fated to everyone according to the whims of the ruling consciousness. But seriously, why would anyone who truly believes what the Christian worldview teaches, go to all the trouble of trying to live, when the alternative to life – i.e., death – is counted as “gain” according to the apostle Paul and “paradise” according to what Jesus supposedly promised one of the malefactors crucified with him? Why not just die and go to your maker, and you’ll exist in bliss for all eternity? However Christians answer this, it always amounts to some kind of point-missing rationalization. E.g., they might say that their god has “work” for them to do while on earth. But this does not explain why they choose to live. It only tells us what they will do while they live (and it doesn’t say much on that score, either). Besides, the Christian god can always find someone else to do its work, or it could do its own work itself. Moreover, the notion that “there’s still work to do” suggests a present state of imperfection. But we’re told that the Christian god is a perfect creator. But if it does not create things already perfect, then it’s not a perfect creator. If there’s still work to be done, then a state of perfection does not obtain. On the contrary, we have a state of incompletion. That’s not perfect.

Dave wrote:
But if man is nothing more than a bag of chemical biological stuff subject to the laws of nature, then what “right” does he have to live?
I can always tell when a Christian is on the ropes when he pulls out the bag-of-chemicals locution. It’s all he has going for him. It’s as though he does not know what man is. Even worse, he does not know what an entity is. He does not know what identity is. A is A. Which means: Man is man. He is everything that he is, nothing less, nothing more. Man is an integration of matter and consciousness. The notion of a “bag of chemicals” ignores the fact that man is a conscious organism. My worldview does not teach that we do not have consciousness, nor does my worldview mischaracterize the nature of man’s consciousness. But Christianity does. My worldview denies nothing about the nature of man, but Christianity urges its followers to deny themselves.

Dave asked:
Where does man get his sense of dignity from if he is no different than any other chemical which we might find in the chemistry lab for example?
Is this supposed to be a serious question? Who thinks that man is a chemical to begin with?

Dave wrote:
Based on this arbitrary assertion you begin to say that man’s “life needs” are “independent of any conscious activity on man’s part, which means that he must discover them by means of an objective method of acquiring and validating knowledge – i.e., by means of reason.” But if man has to first choose between life and death, life being arbitrarily essential on your view, then is his decision a conscious one?
I notice several characterizations of “arbitrary” here, but without any clarity as to what those references are intended to correspond to. Moreover, it appears that Dave thinks merely choosing something renders it arbitrary. But this would render everything in Christianity arbitrary, for everything according to Christianity is supposed to be a result of the Christian god’s unconstrained “will.”

As for what specifically Dave is asking here, it’s simply unclear. It seems he’s simply trying to camouflage his unargued accusations of arbitrariness in the form of a question.

Dave wrote:
And What exactly is a “life need?”
Is this really so hard? Food is an example of a life need. Life needs are those things needed in order to live. Does Dave take the same magnifying glass to what he reads in the bible?

Dave wrote:
does every one have the same life needs?
Generally speaking, yes, we all do, since we’re all biological organisms. We all need food, for example. Does Dave know of any exceptions to this?

Dave asked:
If so, how do you know this?
Easy, by means of reason.

Dave asked:
how do you know that life needs are independent of any conscious activity?
Again, I know this by means of reason. Our life needs are facts about our nature. I can wish that I don’t need food in order to live, but reality does not conform to my wishing. Nor does reality conform to other types of conscious activity, such as hoping, prayer, imagining, prayer, dreaming, etc. So again, I go with the primacy of existence.

Dave asked:
Is reason a life need?
Of course!

Dave asked:
And if so, is reason devoid of conscious activity?
The concept ‘reason’ does not denote a living organism. Rather, it denotes a faculty available to men. And no, its nature does not conform to anyone’s wishes, imagination, preferences, prayers, hopes, dreams, etc. The nature of reason is entirely consistent and compatible with the primacy of existence.

Dave wrote:
These statements are just asserted without any rational basis.
Dave’s statement is just asserted without any rational basis.

Dave wrote:
You say that man “must” discover his life needs, but this is only the case if again, man first chooses to live instead of die but on what rational grounds should man make his choice without being arbitrary?
“Arbitrary” does not mean “chosen.” One can choose to live without his choice to live itself being arbitrary. Arbitrariness is abandonment of the primacy of existence. The choice to live is compatible with the primacy of existence.

Dave wrote:
You then claim that an objective method for discovering truth is by means of reason. “objectivism affirms the only objective standard for this: rationality.” I take it then that you believe in logical absolutes. But what is the nature of logic?
Logic is the application of the law of identity to the task of identification. As Rand put it, logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. Identification is a conceptual task. Also, logic is conceptual in nature – i.e., it is applied conceptually. I have explained this on my blog and my website – it should not be difficult to find this if you’re truly interested. We could not have logic – nor would we need it – if we did not have the ability to form concepts.

Dave wrote:
Is it material or immaterial?
Logic is conceptual. Is the invisible magic dragon I imagine in my backyard material or immaterial? Will Dave answer this?

Dave wrote:
Are logical absolutes universal and law like or simply conventions?
Universality is a property of concepts, as I explain in my blog Demystifying Universality. It is because logic is conceptual in nature that logic applies universally. But I realize that all this is presently beyond Dave’s understanding.

Dave wrote:
If they are absolute truths then they are transcendent if they are conventions they are relative and non-law like.
If by “transcendent” Dave really means some association with “the supernatural,” then no, I’m afraid he’s completely wrong. The laws of logic denote general truths whose basis are facts that obtain in this world. There are facts in this world which do not change, for example: the fact that existence exists. This fact does not change. The fact that there is a fundamental distinction between the subject of consciousness and the object of consciousness does not change. The fact that to exist is to be something does not change. These are the axioms. The laws of logic find their basis in the axioms. Why not recognize these facts at the very basis of one’s worldview explicitly, and allow them to shape one’s worldview going forward? Why start with something that is merely imaginary and then try to finagle everything in one’s worldview to appear as though everything stemmed from there? Why not be honest to reality instead of embracing what is merely a fantasy? Dave has a lot of thinking to do.

Dave wrote:
To say that they are objective truths compels one to account for their objectivity, how does one know that they will be objective truths tomorrow?
Objectivity is the application of the primacy of existence to discovering, validating and applying knowledge. Does Dave understand what the primacy of existence is? I’m guessing this is new to him. He should do some more research and discover what it means. I have explained it countless times in my writings. Consider the question: Does wishing make it so? The primacy of consciousness says yes: reality conforms to conscious activity. The primacy of existence says no: existence exists and is what it is independent of conscious activity. If Dave understands that wishing does not make it so, then he has the beginnings of the necessary basis to understand why Christianity is not only false, but irrational and subjective. The problem is that he is confessionally invested in his Christian faith, lost in the imaginary, and enshrining a fantasy as the standard for his life. It is entirely irrational. Dave, it’s time to come out of the cave.

Dave wrote:
You simply assume their objectiveness in order to argue for their objectiveness, a clear case of begging the question.
If Dave can show where in my writings that I have sought to establish a truth using a viciously circular argument, he needs to restate the offending passage and explain why it is fallacious. But clearly Dave has not read very much of my writings, but is rather reacting emotionally and reaching for anything that might stick. It doesn’t work.

Dave wrote:
What “rational” argument could you have to validate “reason” without first assuming the reality of reason as your staring point?
Validation is broader than proof. Validating an observation, for example, might not require one to produce an argument, but rather simply point to the facts which inform the observation in question. At that point, other observers can respond: “Oh, I see it now. Now I understand.” We begin with the fact that existence exists. Do you perceive anything? If you do, you’re perceiving existence. Do you identify anything you are perceiving? Such as a table, a chair, a dog, a feather, a pen, a coffee cup, a book? Then you’re using reason. Reason is validated with the formation of the first concept, for reason is the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses. See, there’s no question-begging or other fallacies going on here. Of course, we should remember that we will not learn about reason and its mechanics from the bible. The bible requires the believer to blur the fundamental distinction between reality and imagination.

Dave wrote:
In the end, you have not demonstrated a rational ground for your philosophy, you have only demonstrated classic cases of arbitrariness, subjectivism, and logically fallacious argumentation.
So says Dave, a Christian, who has yet to prove the existence of his god, who has yet to explain how we can reliably distinguish between what he calls “God” and what he may merely be imagining, who has yet to tell us whether the imaginary is material or immaterial. The basis of my worldview is the fact that existence exists. If existence exists, then my worldview is off to a good start. If Dave does not grasp this, the deficiency is all his. I encourage him to seek enlightenment. He’s come to the right place for that.

Dave wrote:
The problem of evil for the unbeliever is not seriously considered in your reply; you seem to throw out a lot of challenges but are unprepared to evaluate the conspicuous inconsistencies in your own world view.
I have already addressed the problem of evil from my own perspective. Dave has yet to bring forth a worthy challenge to The Moral Code of Life (which I cited in my reply to Dave, but with which he has not directly interacted).

Dave wrote:
You borrow presuppositions from the Christian worldview e.g. logical absolutes and objective morality, which can only make rational sense in a Christian worldview and apply them to your own demonstrating that your worldview cannot account for such presuppositions rendering your world view as logically inconsistent.
Actually, Christianity has borrowed the notions of “logical absolutes” and “objective morality” from secular philosophies; you will find no mention of these things in the bible – such concepts are foreign to what the bible has to say, not only in terms of its underlying narrative, but also in terms of its underlying philosophical spirit. The bible is clear that the believer is not to guide himself either by logic or a clearly laid-out moral code which he can apply using his own understanding. On the contrary, the bible is clear in that it requires believers simply to lay down their lives, to sacrifice themselves (including most importantly their intellect) and pretend that what they are told is true (i.e., “just believe”). They are to obey, not to think. If you want to govern your life simply by obeying someone you believe is in authority because he can harm you, then Christianity is all for you. If you want to think for yourself, then obeying authority figures unquestioningly is anathema to what you should have as your philosophical model.

Christianity’s ultimate “presupposition” is the primacy of consciousness – cf. “wishing makes it so.” There’s nothing objective about this, since the subject of consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over its objects, hence subjectivism. A supernatural consciousness can say “Rain today,” and voilá, today it’s raining, all because the supernatural consciousness wishes that it rain. There can be nothing objective in a worldview when its basis is overtly subjective in nature, as it is in Christianity. Moreover, there is nothing beyond the subject-object relationship that could be called “absolute” under such a “presupposition,” for any object you find in reality can be one thing one moment, and something entirely different the next, simply because the ruling consciousness wishes it – for on Christianity’s ultimate “presupposition,” all objects originate in and conform to the ruling consciousness’ wishing. The substance in the waterpots might be water one moment, but magically turned into wine the next, all because the ruling consciousness made a wise (cf. John ch. 2). Christianity is all about wish-making. Consider prayer: you are unhappy, your friend is sick, your mother needs extra cash, etc. Just pray to the ruling consciousness – i.e., make a wish. That’s what Dave’s worldview is all about. And he says my worldview is “subjective”? Truly he needs to come out of his cave and re-think a lot of things.

by Dawson Bethrick

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69 Comments:

Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dave,

You make the claim that Dawson "[s]hows no attempt to deal with Bahnsen’s answer, namely, that 'God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil He foreordains'. In fact, at this point it has not even been mentioned."

Dave? If you're reading these comments, I direct your attention to:

Some Thoughts on Presuppositionalism and the Problem of Evil

http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2010/10/some-thoughts-on-presuppositionalism.html

But perhaps Dawson has supplied the link for you, further along in his current blog entry.

Ydemoc

May 17, 2014 9:43 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

After reading a little further, I see that you did indeed supply the above link.

Ydemoc

May 17, 2014 9:45 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

wow... I have not even finished reading his comment and I can see that he fails at reading comprehension when he accuses you of being subjective. It is good that he recognizes that a concept is not synonymous with its referent however. On the other hand his view of "laws" such as the law of gravity is naive and uninformed in the extreme. The immutable law of gravity that he cites has already been over turned. Newtons law of gravity was superseded in fact by general relativity in 1915!

Back to the point however, its if funny how he equates our conceptual recognition of the perceptually self evident (A = A) which is a brute fact not requiring "an accounting" with subjective projecting. Project much Dave?

Dawson on a different yet old topic. I have not forgotten nor abandoned my attempt to delve into quantum mechanics and the implications for objectivism. It is just that I have feel down the rabbit hole. The more I learn on this topic the more I must investigate further. It is a difficult subject but some day before the world ends I will write up something. My opinions on the matter are right now in flux or should I say a superpostional state!

May 18, 2014 9:01 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Here's a another offering, from The Objective Standard, in response to Dave's question, "On what basis does he choose life over death or is it merely assumed that man should choose life?"

Why Choose to Live?
http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2013/07/why-choose-to-live/

Another outstanding blog entry, by the way.

Ydemoc

May 18, 2014 9:06 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

Dear Bahnsen Burner,
When I ask for a precondition to reality I am asking for what must be the case in order for reality and human experience to be intelligible, if this was unclear in my previous comment Mea culpa. A precondition is a part of reality you are right. You say in your response that (TAG) does not “seek” to determine these preconditions given the premise “without the Christian God of the Bible it is impossible to prove anything.” However, the “seeking” is the blatantly open challenge to defy this premise by offering an alternative to Christianity as being the only rationally viable precondition to intelligibility.
When you say, “the primacy of existence tells us that existence exists independent of consciousness”.
First of all there are a few problems with your term “primacy of existence” (existence exists)
1. Existence is not a standard for truth, truth claims are not proven to be true simply because they exist. Existence cannot tell you what is true or false because it doesn’t have a mind or knowledge.

2. The very statement says that “existence is independent of consciousness.” But the statement itself does in fact exist and statements are conceptual in nature they are totally dependent upon a conscious mind for their existence. If a statement were not conceptual it would be material, but statements are not material you cannot find a statement in the physical world. Of course, you can write a statement down and then observe it with your eyes, but these are mere “instances” or “representations” of the statement which exists beyond the physical order.

3. By saying that “existence exists,” you are saying that existence exhibits a certain quality (i.e. it exists) but you haven’t defined what constitutes existence, it’s like saying red is red, unless you define what you mean by the term “existence” the quality you apply to it (i.e. it exists) becomes meaningless. Saying that it’s an axiom doesn’t explain how the term “existence” is meaningful. You don’t answer the important questions, “What is existence? How is existence possible? Why is it that we have existence rather than non-existence? How do you know the way in which things exist today will be the same tomorrow? Again, saying that it’s an axiom is saying that it is what it is and doesn’t need verification, that it’s self-evident. However , I would assume you would not afford the same liberty to a Christian who says God is because God is, He is just an axiomatic truth.

You say that existence is not contingent upon consciousness, but if so wouldn’t reality cease to exist seeing as though reality is defined by one’s conscious application of reason in interpreting our empirical observations of nature? In other words, if we cannot observe something empirically and rationally interpret the perception of our senses then that something does not exist right? So then consciousness does validate existence on your view after all.
You say that the Christian world view believes that reality is based on the idea of a conscious being “wishing” things into existence. If you are going to comment on theological matters at least

May 19, 2014 12:35 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

capriciously, God “willed” things into existence according to His sovereign “purpose” (Eph.1:11). Anyone can knock down a straw man.
You keep saying that the problem of evil is an internal critique of Christianity and that’s true, but again you have failed to recognise that the nature of the challenge is an accusation of “logical inconsistency.”
Again:
1. God is all-powerful.
2. God is all-good.
3. Evil exists.
The tension is that if God is said to be all-good and yet evil exists then He is either willing to prevent evil but unable to, which means He is not all-powerful, or He is able to prevent evil but unwilling to do so meaning he is not all-good. There is an apparent contradiction in the Christian position it seems. However if we posit a fourth premise:
4. God has a “morally” sufficient reason for the “evil” He ordains.
The “logical” tension is alleviated. If God’s reason for the existence of evil is good, then God is vindicated and is still all-good and all-powerful. The problem I sense you are having trouble understanding is how evil can be something that an all-good God would allow. Firstly, God did not create evil, evil originated in the heart of man, it was man’s conceited rebellion against his creator which caused him to sin, and that is to say, the motivation for the action on man’s part was wicked. However God did foreordain that man would sin but His motivation was righteous because it was to initiate a plan of redemption by which God would reveal Himself (i.e. His holy character) to His creation; displaying His love for man, His mercy and grace, His sovereignty, His justice and power; ultimately pointing toward the Messiah to whom He would display the greatest love by giving Him a people and a kingdom to enjoy forever. The Bible validates the compatibilist view of Sovereignty and free-will in various places (Gen 50:20; Isa. 10:5-15; Act.2:22-23, 4:27-28). Now of course I don’t expect those outside of the Christian worldview to believe or understand this (1 Cor.1:18; 2 Cor.4:3-4), but the logical inconsistency which the problem of evil attempts to show is simply defeated by the Bible’s own claim that God is righteous and just in all His ways (Ps.145:17) but that man’s ways are evil (Gen.6:5). Now we as Christians don’t presume to know how God’s morally sufficient reasons are evident in every instance of evil but in every instance of evil it is man who is the one carrying out the action and his intentions are evil, and Bahnsen is right “the secret things belong of the Lord” (Deut. 29:29), God is not under obligation to relinquish Hs throne and become subservient to man, God is the sovereign determiner of history and LORD of creation, He alone sits upon His throne and he does according to His will (Dan.4:35-36).
Seeing as though the internal “logical” tension has been dealt with, I am still awaiting a response as to how the unbeliever no matter what worldview they choose to hold can make the idea of “evil” meaningful in order to make such an argument rationally valid. You have attempted to define evil as that which is non-conducive towards the furtherance of life, that is you defined “good” as that which achieves a certain chosen end and I have asked you to validate for me why you have chosen that end to be one worth achieving. The fact that man is a conscious biological being in no way justifies his

May 19, 2014 12:35 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

right to live. So what if certain bits of matter exhibit different characteristics to other bits of matter such as consciousness, how in any way is that ethically relevant to the assumption that man “ought” to do that which furthers his life?
You say that there is no “positive, factual evidence” on behalf of Christianity,” you then make the logical fallacy of “false analogy” comparing an imaginary dragon to God. What I would like to know is how in any way shape or form are the Christian God of the Bible, the sovereign creator of the universe who has revealed Himself to His creation pervasively (Rom.1:20)and the imaginary dragon in the driveway analogues to each other? There are plentiful factual evidences for the existence of God (i.e. through creation, conscience, miracles, fulfilment of prophecy, the person of Jesus Christ, the resurrection, the historical reliability of Scripture e.tc.), the problem is not that there is no positive evidence for the existence of God the problem is with your suppression of such evidence. Your presuppositions determine how you interpret the evidence offered, you look at the evidences and interpret them in such a way so as to make them “fit” your presupposed beliefs about the nature of reality, knowledge and ethics and so does the Christian. The question which we then need to ask is “which worldview (i.e. which set of presuppositions about the nature of Metaphysics, epistemology and ethics) can make human experience intelligible?”
As for your statement that “so on this view the Christian God could be the only source of evil” fails to take into account what Christianity and more importantly the Bible has to say about the nature of God. God did not create evil, it originated in the heart of man. God is absolutely holy and righteous and he must operate in conformity to His own character for He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim.2:13). However God has ordained evil and providentially controls the level of its existence in this world all according to His righteous purpose which I have briefly explained above. But you still have not made your use of the term “evil” meaningful, you haven’t given a rationally valid standard of morality which can justify your ethical judgments about God or Christianity, yet you continue to make them. Again you claim that good is that which achieves a certain chosen end although you have not justified the end which you have chosen as one worth achieving and if you do not supply a “reason” for such a choice it is “arbitrary!” your claim that existence exists, that it is an axiom simply begs the question. You assume certain “facts” about existence without making them rationally meaningful and then say that existence is an axiom that verifies itself.
You keep saying that morality is based on “reason” however the faculty of reasoning is itself not a standard for truth. Everybody can reason, but whether they are reasoning logically is another matter. To reason logically means that you must be reasoning in conformity to an absolute standard of logic, If morality is based upon reason, then who’s reason? How would you know that the reasoning you are applying to morality is accurate without a standard? Morality would then be based on interpretation, meaning that it would be subjectively qualified.
Furthermore, if you believe morality exists (which I assume you do) but then say that it’s based on reason which is a “conscious” application of the mind, then the “existence” of morality would depend upon the “conscious” application of reason. This is simply inconsistent with your objectivist theory that existence is independent from consciousness.
Your statement that “one must know what good and evil are in order to know that the Christian God is good” again fails to take into account how Christianity defines good. God is good, He is the standard by which we distinguish good and bad behaviour. Good is that which is in perfect

May 19, 2014 12:36 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

conformity to His character and evil is that which is the very contradiction of that character. How do we know the character of God? Through His revealed word in the Holy Scriptures. These are elementary convictions of Christianity which are grasped by Sunday school students but which seem to escape your attention for some reason. Our knowledge of good and evil comes from the unchanging holy character of God, it’s not the case that we must first know good and evil in order to know if God is good, but rather, we must know God in order to determine what is good or evil in this world. It is by Him and no other standard.
You may not hold to my standard but I for one believe that morality is immutable, absolute, transcendent and invariant. But how would such a standard exist? If it’s just that way then we have no confidence that it will be just that way tomorrow, for no one has experienced or existed in the future and therefore we must be open to the possibility that all of reality may change tomorrow. But if there is a God who Himself is immutable, absolute, transcendent and invariant and morality is a description His holy character and that this God has promised to uphold the universe in a uniform and regular way (Gen.8:22; Heb.1:3) than this accounts for their reality.
You ask the question: “why does one need that whatever he considers to be evil universally recognizable as evil”? Simply, because if evil is not universally recognizable, that is if it’s not objective, then what relevance is there when two different people speak about ethics. If there is no objective standard or authority by which to distinguish between and therefore define good and evil then good and evil would cease to exist as concepts because morality would be completely subjective and relative. In which case what happens in reality would just happen there would be no ethical consideration whatsoever. If I say that what Ted Bundy did was morally wrong or evil how would that statement be meaningful to someone who says that what he did was morally good? If there was no objective universal standard of morality then I have no more ethical authority than he has. In which case what Ted Bundy did was neither right nor wrong they were just actions and therefore no one could legitimately harbour any moral indignation for such actions.
Saying that it was morally wrong because it was not conducive toward life doesn’t solve the problem because again, why ought Ted Bundy live for the moral standard you have subjectively chosen to be virtuous? Bundy may have simply chosen the ethic that “good is that which destroys human life.” Moreover, since on the objectivist view, personal happiness is man’s chief goal and that he should not live for others then why would Ted Bundy’s actions be a problem? Certainly he gained enjoyment or at least a sense of fulfilment or gratification in killing therefore he achieved the highest level of virtue according to the objectivist view didn’t he?
You say that Bahnsen’s answer to the problem of evil is without content, you say:
“we are told that a reason is “good” but we are not allowed to see what that reason is in order to confirm whether or not it is indeed good”
My question would be “if the unbeliever doesn’t have a rationally workable standard or definition for morality what benefit would it be to reveal God’s “good” reason to him? He would not be able to evaluate the “goodness” of God’s reason given that he doesn’t possess a standard by which to evaluate God’s reason. This is why it is imperative for the unbeliever to first make his understanding of “evil” meaningful before raising an ethical complaint against anyone.

May 19, 2014 12:36 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

You say that the God of the Bible should show himself and stop playing “hide and seek.” The fact is that God has shown Himself in various ways, (Heb.1:1-2) particularly in the person of Jesus Christ. To claim that you haven’t personally been an eyewitness to Christ somehow invalidates the fact is like saying I haven’t personally been an eyewitness to George Washington therefore he didn’t exist, this is childish. The reason why you don’t accept the ubiquitous evidence which God has given is because you are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Rom.1:18), you prejudicially exclude the possibility of the truthfulness of the claims of the bible because of the hardness of your heart. Lord willing you don’t continue in this fashion and through God’s grace your eyes will be opened, but seeing as though the Christian claims do not fit in your presupposed world view you exclude the possibility of Christianity at the outset openly displaying your non-neutral approach to the objective evidence.
You say that because I appeal to “revelation” that “reason is not involved in discovering and validating any of this. Rather, reason is replaced by faith” I see your attempt at establishing a dichotomy of faith over against reason. But again, on the Christian view God is the beginning of all knowledge (Prov.1:7) and deposited in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (col.2:3). God thinks rationally seeing as though reason is an attribute of His divine nature. And since we are commanded to be holy as God is holy (Lev.11:14; 1 Pet.1:16) that is, we are to reflect his character and seeing as though thinking rationally is a reflection of His character for one to be irrational is immoral according to Christianity. But where does reason come from in your worldview? how do you account for its existence? And why “ought” people be rational? What if people are most happy when they are being irrational? Would the fact that people have obtained the highest virtue on the objectivist view make rationality unnecessary?
My comment was:
Man would know nothing of mercy if all men were innocent creatures
Your response:
“Why? How does Dave know this? He provides no basis for this whatsoever.”
If all people were righteous people and innocent, that is, they have committed no crime worthy of penalty then how would the concept of mercy be meaningful or relevant to them? Mercy is the unmerited restraint of penalty upon an individual but if all people were not deserving of any such penalty then by definition mercy would not exist.
You say that according to Christianity “we’re all puppets performing according to the dictates of the master puppeteer.” This is not what Christianity affirms; I for one hold to the compatibilist view. I would refer you to (Why I Am Not an Arminian. Robert A. Peterson /Michael D.Williams. Chpt.6). But given your objectivist view that existence is what it is and that all things are basically contingent upon the physical properties of the universe, how is freedom even possible in your view? If concepts are contingent upon the physical brain or the physical factors in the universe that whatever I think or do is determined by those physical factors either in the brain or in the physical universe. I would not have the freedom to evaluate evidence and make a conscious choice as to what to believe it would simply be my brain as conditioned by the laws of the physical universe requiring me to do and say whatever it is that I do and say. Which means all my thoughts and actions are ultimately determined

May 19, 2014 12:36 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

by the physical universe making intellectual freedom impossible. Christianity doesn’t make you a puppet atheism does.
You attempt to use an emotionally charged argument about the crucifixion of Christ as proof that God is evil. Of course this is another one of your straw man arguments you have failed to honestly represent the Christian view of the resurrection, I suggest it’s you who needs to do their homework. The crucifixion was the pivotal event in history whereby “God Himself” entered into history in the person of Jesus Christ in order to fulfil the demands of absolute righteousness in behalf of His people because since the fall man is morally unable to do so for himself. He would bear the full weight of the guilt of His people and pay the penalty in their stead thereby procuring for them justification, salvation and reconciliation with the Father. Christ had to propitiate (satisfy) the wrath of the Father in order to free his people from that liability. The bible says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down His life for his friends” (Jn.15:13). I can see that you would probably see this as being abhorrent given the objectivist view that people should care nothing for others but live solely for selfish gain and individual happiness a concept which unambiguously detrimental to civilized society.
You seem to be confused as to what I meant by the statement
“Moreover, how do we know that the codes of values are in themselves moral ones?”
You reply:
“What is meant by “moral” here if it does not refer to a code of values?”
What is meant by “moral” is that which is the opposite to immorality. Values are those principles which people hold to as virtuous and determine to live for. However, such principles can be either good or evil ones. One may say that killing people is something which they value more than anything else and then live in terms of that value such as did Ted Bundy, Dahmar and Gracie e.t.c. therefore my question was how do you know that the codes or values are moral ones as opposed to immoral ones.
Your answer is that you “always go with reason” but again, this is subjective, the things you may take to be “reasonable” may not be reasonable to someone else. If people went with their own “reason” then people could justify any action or behaviour given the reasons they supply to validate them. Q: “Why did you kill that child?” A: “Because it was reasonable for me to do so?” This is where your philosophy leads. Rather, we must have an absolute objective standard of rationality to distinguish correct applications of reason from incorrect ones. But how would an immaterial laws exist in a material universe? To say that they are just a part of reality begs the question; to say reason is a part of reality but reality must be interpreted by reason is to argue in a circle. How is transcendence possible on your worldview? You still have not provided an answer.
My question was:
“Does everybody have the same codes and values?”
You answered:
“Generally speaking, yes: we all need to eat, we all need to drink water, and we all need shelter “e.t.c.

May 19, 2014 12:37 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

This is an equivocation on your part these are not codes and values they are necessities I could understand if you had said these are “life needs” but you are calling these “codes and values” now.
I wrote:
“In fact in order to study the “outward reality” one must rely solely upon the fundamental assumption that there is uniformity and regularity in nature.”
Your response:
“How could we have this “assumption” about nature if we did not discover it by looking outward?”
Are all assumptions reached through outwardly observing nature? Is personal identity something we discover each and every day by looking outward? Or what about the reliability of our sense which we use to interpret outward reality? Does our fundamental assumption about the basic reliability of our senses need to be discovered outwardly? No. These are beliefs about the nature of reality which we take for granted they are not verified by the methods of science, they are our basic presuppositions. We assume the uniformity of nature before we study it because if we believe that something in nature could be considered a fact such as the law of gravity it could only be a fact of nature if we assume nature remains the same and therefore its characteristics remain the same throughout time. But we cannot prove the uniformity of nature through the scientific method of induction. That is, the belief that future cases will reflect past cases.
Science ultimately studies predictability and does so through empirical methods of investigation. If we conduct an experiment under a certain set of conditions and obtain a certain result we expect that in the future under the same set of conditions we will get an identical result. If someone has a headache we offer them paracetamol because in our past experience paracetamol has relieved the symptoms of a headache. But this assumes that past cases will be like future cases, which is to say it assumes the uniformity of nature. But if “facts” about reality are empirically or even rationally obtained and seeing as though no one has empirically experienced or has applied the laws of logic in the future we have no basis for the assumption in natures uniformity. In other words, the atheist cannot make sense out of the uniformity of nature; he cannot provide the preconditions to make the uniformity of nature intelligible. However, on the Christian view God has promised to uphold the universe in a regular and consistent way (Gen.8:22; Heb.1:3) Christians can make sense out of why we assume the regularity in nature.
You say that “nature determines what kinds of actions are moral and which actions are not”
Nature is not a Conscious being; it does not have a mind and therefore cannot make rational or irrational choices for that matter, particularly ones pertaining to morality. This is an obvious example of the “pathetic fallacy” (attributing human emotions or characteristics to nature). Even if we granted that nature possessed such a power what standard would nature use to decide which actions are moral and which are immoral? If there is no standard outside of nature than nature would determine ethical behaviour arbitrarily.
You say that on your view “nature is not caused by something outside itself”

May 19, 2014 12:37 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

I’m not arguing the cosmological argument; however are you suggesting in your statement that the universe created itself? In which case it would have to exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense, a clear violation of the law of non-contradiction. You then assert that “if” nature is uniform, it is uniform independent of anyone’s conscious activity” I take it then that you are somewhat uncertain as to whether nature is uniform given that you say “if”… but if you are uncertain that uniformity exists then why do you take it for granted as self-evident without giving a rational foundation for your assumption?
You say that “to exist is to be something specific” but what about diversity? It exists and certainly is not specific. You say that “uniformity of nature is essentially the concurrence of identity with existence”. That is not uniformity in nature. Uniformity in nature is the consistency of operation within nature. It is the characteristics of nature operating consistently throughout time. How do you know that in the future there will be concurrence between identity and existence? This is taken for granted without a meaningful explanation; to say something is this way today does not validate the projection that it will be that way tomorrow. You cannot make rationally meaningful the existence of uniformity within nature; you have no rational foundation for its truth.
You say that the book of Revelation is “drug –induced hysteria” do you have valid evidence that the apostle John was under the influence of a hallucinogen or is this simply unfounded conjecture?
The rest of your comments are basically restatements of your earlier ones which I have already responded to or of course they are misrepresentations of Christian theology and or poorly constructed straw men.

May 19, 2014 12:38 AM  
Blogger l_johan_k said...

Excellent article!
Thank you!

May 19, 2014 1:03 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Dave,

You asked: "are you suggesting in your statement that the universe created itself?"

Questions like this indicate that you are woefully uninformed about my position, even though I have over 9 years worth of blog entries and a website dedicated to spelling out my position and my critique of Christianity. What you have asked here and elsewhere are already answered in writings that I have published. I have no time to re-state my position every time a person comes along and reacts to one thing without having looked a little bit deeper into what my position holds. I have done my homework. Now it is up to you to do yours.

Again, you have been answered. So have Van Til, Frame, Bahnsen and many others.

As for how the Christian god and the invisible magic dragon that I imagine analogous to each other, the point is simple: they are both imaginary. Specifically, I have no alternative but to imagine both. If you think there's some alternative to my imagination as a means of "knowing" the Christian god, you'll have to explain yourself. But I know for a fact that when I entertain claims from Christians about the god they worship, I must use my imagination to consider those claims. You don't have to like that, you don't have to approve of it. But it's a fact all the same.

Now, if you are interested in dialoguing any further, just answer whether you think the invisible magic dragon I imagine is either material or immaterial. That's what I want to know from you.

Regards,
Dawson

May 19, 2014 3:07 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Johan and Ydemoc,

Thank you for your comments.

Regards,
Dawson

May 19, 2014 3:08 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dave McPhillips,

You wrote: "When I ask for a precondition to reality I am asking for what must be the case in order for reality and human experience to be intelligible..."

This has been dealt with throughout Dawson's writings and was specifically addressed in a three-part essay on this matter. I've posted the links for your convenience.

Can a *Worldview* "Provide" the "Preconditions of Intelligibility"?

- Part I
http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2012/03/can-worldview-provide-preconditions-of.html

- Part II
http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2012/03/can-worldview-provide-preconditions-of_17.html

Part III
http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2012/03/can-worldview-provide-preconditions-of_20.html

Ydemoc

May 19, 2014 6:16 AM  
Blogger freddies_dead said...

dave mcphillips said (to Dawson)...

Dear Bahnsen Burner,
When I ask for a precondition to reality I am asking for what must be the case in order for reality and human experience to be intelligible, if this was unclear in my previous comment Mea culpa. A precondition is a part of reality you are right. You say in your response that (TAG) does not “seek” to determine these preconditions given the premise “without the Christian God of the Bible it is impossible to prove anything.” However, the “seeking” is the blatantly open challenge to defy this premise by offering an alternative to Christianity as being the only rationally viable precondition to intelligibility.


Ignoring for a moment that Dawson has already answered the challenge, why on earth should we even take up a challenge to defy a wholly unargued for assertion? Do you have an actual argument which demostrates in principle that it is impossible to prove anything without the Christian God of the Bible? Currently all we have is the presupper shouting "You have to have my God now prove me wrong!" when you've done jack shit in the way of proving yourself right.

cont'd...

May 19, 2014 8:46 AM  
Blogger freddies_dead said...

cont'd...

When you say, “the primacy of existence tells us that existence exists independent of consciousness”.
First of all there are a few problems with your term “primacy of existence” (existence exists)


First of all your conflation of the metaphysical primacy of existence principle with the axiom "existence exists" is a major problem here.

1. Existence is not a standard for truth, truth claims are not proven to be true simply because they exist. Existence cannot tell you what is true or false because it doesn’t have a mind or knowledge.

What is your definition of "truth" here? You seem to be stating that a mind is required for truth to hold which makes no sense. The truth or falsity of the statement "there is a mug on my desk" does not depend on any conscious activity. All it requires is a desk with a mug on.

2. The very statement says that “existence is independent of consciousness.” But the statement itself does in fact exist and statements are conceptual in nature they are totally dependent upon a conscious mind for their existence. If a statement were not conceptual it would be material, but statements are not material you cannot find a statement in the physical world. Of course, you can write a statement down and then observe it with your eyes, but these are mere “instances” or “representations” of the statement which exists beyond the physical order.

This is mostly incoherent. I'm unsure what you're attempting to say. It seems like you're mistaking concepts for their referents. Unsurprising from someone with a worldview with no theory of concepts.

3. By saying that “existence exists,” you are saying that existence exhibits a certain quality (i.e. it exists) but you haven’t defined what constitutes existence, it’s like saying red is red, unless you define what you mean by the term “existence” the quality you apply to it (i.e. it exists) becomes meaningless.

You couldn't have looked up the Objectivist definition of "Existence"? Lazy.

Saying that it’s an axiom doesn’t explain how the term “existence” is meaningful. You don’t answer the important questions, “What is existence? How is existence possible? Why is it that we have existence rather than non-existence? How do you know the way in which things exist today will be the same tomorrow? Again, saying that it’s an axiom is saying that it is what it is and doesn’t need verification, that it’s self-evident. However , I would assume you would not afford the same liberty to a Christian who says God is because God is, He is just an axiomatic truth.

Can you point us to the referents in reality that demonstrate the self evident nature of your claim that "God exists"? Also please show that your God is conceptually irreducible.

cont'd...

May 19, 2014 8:48 AM  
Blogger freddies_dead said...

cont'd...

You say that existence is not contingent upon consciousness, but if so wouldn’t reality cease to exist seeing as though reality is defined by one’s conscious application of reason in interpreting our empirical observations of nature?

That would be a no. Reality isn't defined by conscious activity. The conscious application of reason to our perceptions merely allows us to form concepts through identification and integration. Again, concepts aren't referents.

In other words, if we cannot observe something empirically and rationally interpret the perception of our senses then that something does not exist right? So then consciousness does validate existence on your view after all.

Still no. It's the nature of the thing you say we cannot observe empirically and cannot rationally interpret that determines it's non-existence. All we're doing is identifying and integrating that into our conceptual hierarchy.

You say that the Christian world view believes that reality is based on the idea of a conscious being “wishing” things into existence. If you are going to comment on theological matters at least The text goes across 2 posts so I assume something got a little lost in the mix capriciously, God “willed” things into existence according to His sovereign “purpose” (Eph.1:11). Anyone can knock down a straw man.

In order to backup your accusation of "straw man" can you explain what you believe the fundamental difference is between "wishing" and "willing" here? Both are forms of conscious activity so the terms seem perfectly interchangeable to me.

May 19, 2014 8:48 AM  
Blogger freddies_dead said...

dave mcphillips said (to Dawson)...

Firstly, God did not create evil,

Hold on a moment. So you're saying that something exists that wasn't created by your God? How can that possibly be? And if God didn't create evil, yet it exists, why should we accept the claim that we need a God to create anything?

I must say that I did enjoy the mental gymnastics you employed to try and make out that the creation and application of evil is somehow a good thing but I'm still left having to imagine what the "morally sufficient reason" might be. Far from dealing with the internal tension it merely ratchets it up a notch.


The rest of it just seems to be Dave crying and repeating his already refuted nonsense coupled with a catastrophic lack of understanding concerning Objectivism.

May 19, 2014 8:49 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Hello Dawson

You correctly stated > "But I know for a fact that when I entertain claims from Christians about the god they worship, I must use my imagination to consider those claims."

This is true. However, it's also fortunate that Christians don't actually worship the monster depicted in their book of religious fairy tales, for if they did actually surrender their moral autonomy to such a vile fantasy, there would be no civilization. Instead all of humanity would be consumed in the flames of never ending religious sectarian war. I for one am quite happy people like Dave are liars and hypocrites. Better that than honest terrorism.

Will read more later. Make it a Great Day.

May 19, 2014 9:04 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Dave wrote:

//As we have noted already this inconsistency is immediately vanquished once we add the fourth premise: ‘God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil and suffering He ordains’.//

Dawson Replied:

//This is false. The problem is not solved by such assertions. All we have here in Bahnsen’s “answer” is an evaluation without content: we are told that a reason is “good,” but we are not allowed to see what that reason is in order to confirm whether or not it is indeed good. It’s like piling up a rent bill for years and saying, “Yeah, I can pay it, don’t worry.” What Gertrude Stein said of Oakland fits here as well: “There’s no there there.” Moreover, as I have already point out above, Bahnsen’s “answer” simply means that whatever it is the Christian worldview means by “moral,” is on amiable terms with evil. This takes all the wind out of any expression of Christian outrage. Indeed, all that Bahnsen offers in his “answer” is a psychological palliative which is intended to put the believer’s own anxieties to rest.//

If it's OK to add a premise to the argument, then it's OK to expand one of the premises.

"God" is alleged to be the source and standard of morality. The inseparable corollary is that with moral authority comes moral responsibility. The alleged Christian "God" must necessarily exhibit moral perfection because it is responsible for so doing. Consequently, that there is evil in the universe means an alleged necessary Omnipotent being is not doing what is must do. The only way an alleged necessary being cannot do what it must do, is if it does not exist.

Christians will deny this at the high cost of their personal integrity and credibility. Turely they are a reprehensible lot.

May 19, 2014 10:46 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Dawson remarked concerning one of Dave's statements:

//Also, by appealing to revelation, Dave is signifying that reason is not involved in discovering and validating any of this. Rather, reason is replaced by faith in revelations. Faith is hope in the imaginary. Revelation itself is imaginary. So faith in revelations is essentially hope in imaginary revelations. That can only mean that his worldview is necessarily irrational, since rationality is the commitment to reason as one's only source of knowledge, one's only standard of judgment and one's only guide to action. Appeal to revelations constitutes a rejection of reason.//

Important here is that Dave has no basis for distinguishing his alleged revelation as truthful. Consider 2 Chronicles 18:18-23

//8 Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right and on His left. 19 The Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab king of Israel to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. 20 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘How?’ 21 He said, ‘I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and prevail also. Go and do so.’ 22 Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of these your prophets, for the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you.”//

In worldviews dependent upon Abrahamic Theism, there's no basis for certainty of any sort. Dave cannot tell whether his perceptual input is the same as Dawson's or is even valid, nor can he refute Last Tuesdayism.

May 19, 2014 11:02 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

Dear Bahnsen Burner,

When I asked:

"are you suggesting in your statement that the universe created itself?"

I was replying to your statement:

"nature is not caused by something outside itself"

by saying that nature was not "caused" by something outside itself, you create for yourself a logical dilemma. Either you are suggesting:

(a) nature is un-caused and therefore eternal.

(b) nature caused itself.

if you hold to (a) nature is uncaused and therefore eternal, you would be fallaciously associating the law of identity with nature. in which case development or change would be impossible. evolution could not be possible seeing as though something is what it is and not something else, one species could not have developed from another
species. this would also mean that if nature were eternal "every" part of nature would also be eternal meaning "death" could not exist.

if you hold to (b)nature caused itself. you commit a violation of the law of non-contradiction. for nature would have to exist and yet not exist at the same time and in the same sense in order to cause itself to exist.

you said:

"Questions like this indicate that you are woefully uniformed about my position"

However, when I made my comment I was commenting on your "statement" not specifically your overall philosophical view point.

you say that the reason God and the invisible magic dragon are analogous is because:

"they are both imaginary"

I think you are confusing conception with imagination. to imagine something is to use one's "creative" thought process to conjure something into conceptual existence. when I think about laws of logic I'm not imagining them into existence, I am conceiving of them. there is a difference, cognitive awareness is not imagination.

you conclude by asking whether I think "the invisible magic dragon (you) imagine is either material or immaterial"

My answer would be that if it cannot be experienced empirically than its immaterial. if one imagines something even if the thing imagined is material in reality it is immaterial in their imagination of it. the dragon is an immaterial and fictitious aberration draw from imagination. however, God is an immaterial personal being who is "perceived" by one's cognitive awareness of the objective evidence.

my question to you would be how do you deal with the problem of induction?

May 20, 2014 12:31 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Dave,

You asked if I affirm whether or not nature created itself. Again, questions like this only indicate that you do not know much (if anything) about Objectivism. Existence is not created. “Nature is existence—the sum of that which is. It is usually called ‘nature’ when we think of it as a system of interconnected, interacting entities governed by law. So ‘nature’ really means the universe of entities acting and interacting in accordance with their identities.” (Leonard Peikoff)

Thus, nature is not created at all - not by itself, not by some act of consciousness, not by something other than nature.

You claim that this somehow commits a fallacy. But you do not indicate what fallacy this commits, nor do you explain how it commits a fallacy. You suggest that the fallacy occurs by “associating the law of identity with nature.” But again, what fallacy do you have in mind here? Nature is existence. Identity is existence. Nature is identity. “Existence is Identity. Consciousness is Identification.” (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged) Apparently you think that somehow this means action and change are not possible. But Objectivism does not agree with your assertions (which you do not even argue for). Action and change presuppose nature. An entity acts according to its nature. That’s the law of causality. That existence is eternal does not deny causality. Not in the least. Indeed, it’s only if you’re packing some hidden assumptions in your terms (assumptions that are foreign to Objectivism and which you do not bring out into the light) that one could hold the objections you’ve asserted here.

To say that “this would also mean that if nature were eternal ‘every’ part of nature would also be eternal meaning ‘death’ could not exist” is an obvious division fallacy. That the universe as a whole is eternal does not in any way imply that entities within the universe cannot act (and therefore change). This is just another of the many elementary blunders proliferating throughout your commentary.

I wrote: "Questions like this indicate that you are woefully uniformed about my position"

You responded: “However, when I made my comment I was commenting on your ‘statement’ not specifically your overall philosophical view point.”

That may be. But it does not reverse the fact that your statement was clearly made in ignorance of my broader philosophical viewpoint. Had you taken some time to familiarize yourself with Objectivism, you would not be asking such questions.

[continued…]

May 20, 2014 5:56 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “you say that the reason God and the invisible magic dragon are analogous is because: ‘they are both imaginary’.”

Yes, that’s true.

You wrote: “I think you are confusing conception with imagination.”

No, I’m not. Nor am I confusing conceptualization with imagination. Conceptualization is performed on the basis of two or more inputs by means of a process known as measurement-omission. The concept ‘marble’ for example includes all marbles regardless of their size, color, density, regardless of when they exist, regardless of where they exist, etc. That’s why when we use the concept ‘marble’ in reference to a specific marble, we say “this marble” (meaning: “as opposed to any other marbles”).

Moreover, the Christian god is not supposed to be a concept in the first place. So, like Bahnsen does in his debate with Stein, you give away the farm yourself, Dave, simply by hastening to put your god in the “conception” [sic] as opposed to the imagination category. Besides, the Christian god is supposed to be sui generis - i.e., there’s supposed to be only one, which means conceptualization could not be involved in the first place.

You say that “to imagine something is to use one's ‘creative’ thought process to conjure something into conceptual existence.”

And to the extent that I would accept this as a rough definition, that is exactly what I do when I contemplate the Christian god, just as it is what I do when I contemplate Islam’s Allah, C.S. Lewis’ magic wardrobe, Orwell’s Winston Smith, etc., etc., etc. In each case, I’m using my “creative thought process to conjure something into conceptual existence.”

You wrote: “when I think about laws of logic I'm not imagining them into existence,”

Well, no one can “imagine” anything “into existence” in the first place. But whether you are using your imagination when you contemplate the laws of logic, I cannot be certain. You seem to have a mystical understanding of what they are.

You wrote: “I am conceiving of them.”

On what objective basis? Can you step us through your mental process on how you did this?

You wrote: “there is a difference, cognitive awareness is not imagination.”

Oh, I’m certainly in agreement that there is a difference between concept-formation and imagination. But what you need to do, Dave, is explain to us how we can reliably distinguish what you call “God” from what you may merely be imagining. And you haven’t done this. In fact, you’ve made no progress toward presenting such an explanation.

[continued…]

May 20, 2014 5:57 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I asked whether or not the invisible magic dragon that I imagine is material or immaterial.

You answered: “My answer would be that if it cannot be experienced empirically than its immaterial. if one imagines something even if the thing imagined is material in reality it is immaterial in their imagination of it. the dragon is an immaterial and fictitious aberration draw from imagination.”

What I take from this is that, on your view, the invisible magic dragon which I imagine is “immaterial” rather that “material.” Very good, Dave. Thank you.

As for assuming that the invisible magic dragon that I imagine is fictitious, how do you determine this according to your worldview? Please specify the biblical verses which you would use your guide in making such a determination.

You wrote: “however, God is an immaterial personal being who is "perceived" by one's cognitive awareness of the objective evidence.”

Why do you put “perceived” in quotes here? How can I “perceive” your god? Please explain which sense organs are used in this perceptual experience that you seem to have in mind. If it is not by means of sense perception, then please specify the means by which you have “cognitive awareness” of your god? How do we distinguish this process from imagination? What “objective evidence” do you have? Why don’t you specify these things rather than simply claiming to have them without elaborating?

So far, Dave, nothing you’ve presented in anything you have posted to my blog has brought anything remotely challenging my view that the Christian god is merely imaginary.

Now you ask: “my question to you would be how do you deal with the problem of induction?”

So we’re on to a new topic now?

I have already posted many writings on the topic (see my website for the Resources on the Problem of Induction page).

In considering the problem of induction, I recommend taking the objective approach which Objectivism alone makes possible. This will allow one to spot Hume’s fundamental errors, correct them, and grasp induction as a conceptual process (which it is). But quite frankly, this is way, way over your head at this point.

My recommendation to you, Dave, is that you allow yourself to recognize that you simply have a lot of homework to do if you’re going to try to challenge my position.

Regards,
Dawson

May 20, 2014 5:58 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Dawson Thanks for yet another great blog. This one was quite long, yet it kept me entertained and informed me too. The righteous corrective interlocution you've here composed once again shows up presuppostionalism's utter incomprehension of rational philosophy. Dave's charges of irrationality, subjectivity, arbitrariness, and question begging are laughable. Why does the religious adherent fail to understand that what one directly perceives needs no proving?

Many Thanks and Stay Safe Out There.

May 20, 2014 6:46 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Dawson asked Dave:

As for assuming that the invisible magic dragon that I imagine is fictitious, how do you determine this according to your worldview? Please specify the biblical verses which you would use your guide in making such a determination.

2 Chronicles 18:18-23 > The religious story book story book says Dave's "God" sends lying "spirits" to deceive folk. People of faith have no way to validate any claim.

May 20, 2014 11:06 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Dave makes statements like the following:

<< You don’t answer the important questions, “What is existence? How is existence possible? Why is it that we have existence rather than non-existence? How do you know the way in which things exist today will be the same tomorrow? >>

Questions of this sort have been addressed elsewhere in my writings. But to say that I “don’t answer the important questions” when in fact they were not posed in Dave’s comments to begin with, suggests that I’ve failed to do something when in fact it was never my task in the present discussion to do so. There’s no failure on my part here. Rather, there is merely characterization of failure on Dave’s part.

Moreover, even though Dave raises these questions, he does not explain how they are answered by his worldview. Consider the following:

1. According to the bible, what is existence?

2. According to the bible, how is existence possible?

3. According to the bible, why is it that we have existence rather than non-existence?

4. According to the bible, how does one know the way in which things exist today will be the same tomorrow?

This latter question is quite easy to answer from my perspective: The way that I know that the future will be generally like the present is because there are no invisible magic beings which can mess with reality. See, it’s very easy on my view. But this highlights an insurmountable problem in Dave’s worldview.

But what answers does Dave provide on these matters which he himself raises? Dave champions a worldview which is supposed to have been authored by an infallible and omniscient magic source. And yet, he only has questions, no enlightenment. He crawls out of his cave to issue his interrogations, in response to which we’re apparently all supposed to throw up our hands in ignorance and say, “Duh, I donno! Must be God did it!” But that’s merely an announcement of ignorance, not knowledge.

I’ll go with knowledge, thank you. And that’s why I side with reason.

Regards,
Dawson

May 20, 2014 4:20 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

Dear Bahnsen Burner,

You keep attributing certain qualities towards nature which you assert are "facts" (e.g. "An entity acts according to its "nature"). But how do you know the "nature" of an entity? Any so-called "fact" which we derive from nature depends upon the method of induction. in order for induction to be legitimate one must assume the uniformity of nature. My question which you are yet to answer rationally is,how does your worldview make the uniformity of nature rationally possible? on what epidemiological basis do you assume that the future will be like the past? is to misunderstand my challenge completely.I don't doubt that the future presupposes existence, what I'm asking for is how do you know that the existence in the future will be like the existence in the past? things may exist differently in the future, natural laws might change in such a way that people may levitate. now I would assume that you do not believe this is possible and so i ask you to give me a rational basis as to why you believe that people wont levitate in the future? If you say because its not the nature of humans to do so, you beg the question because one cannot know the nature of something without induction which ultimately presupposes the uniformity in nature.

Moreover, the definitions you give for terms like existence, nature, identity e.t.c are simply false.

(1.) Collins English dictionary defines nature as: "the whole system of the existence, arrangement, forces, and events of all physical life that are not controlled by man." the synonyms offered are: " creation, world, earth, environment, universe, cosmos. (absent from the list existence)

(2.) Existence is defined as: "the fact or state of existing; being. or everything that exists, esp that is living" the synonyms offered are: " reality, being, life, survival, duration, endurance, continuation, subsistence, actuality" (absent from the list nature).

(3.) Identity is defined as: "the state of having unique identifying characteristics held by no other person or thing. or the individual characteristics by which a person or thing is recognized. the offered synonyms: "individuality, self, character, personality, existence, distinction, originality, peculiarity, uniqueness, oneness, singularity, separateness, distinctiveness, selfhood, particularity"

Granted, existence is added as a synonym for identity but nature is not and seeing as though you believe that all three terms are synonymous you are in conflict the accepted definitions of these terms.

How do I perceive God,easy through the things which have been made (Rom.1:20)that is what is experienced in nature is the work of His hands (Ps.19:1). when I look "outward" God is perceived through what is made when I look "inwardly" I see the very image of God. the objective evidence is abundant. but evidence alone wont do, because as I have stated one's presuppositions determine how one interprets the evidence. I look at nature and reach the conclusion that an intelligent sovereign God created it and controls it. when you look at nature you see a impersonal non-intelligent and meaningless eternal universe.the problem is not the evidence; all men are without excuse for unbelief (Rom.1:18). its whether you accept the evidence or suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

May 21, 2014 12:34 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Dave,

You wrote: “You keep attributing certain qualities towards nature which you assert are ‘facts’ (e.g. ‘An entity acts according to its nature’). But how do you know the ‘nature’ of an entity?”

You should know the answer to this question by now. The process of knowledge proper to man is called reason. Here it is again: R-E-A-S-O-N. Reason is the how of knowledge. The objects known are the what of knowledge.

You wrote: “Any so-called ‘fact’ which we derive from nature depends upon the method of induction.”

Pardon me? Have you given this any genuine thought, Dave? The facts of reality do not depend on any method by which we discover and identify them. If something is a fact, it is a fact regardless of whether or not we discover it, whether or not we properly identify it. Again, existence holds metaphysical primacy over consciousness. I see this principle is still lost on you. Why?

You wrote: “in order for induction to be legitimate one must assume the uniformity of nature.”

And your argument for this?

On what basis do you think one “assume[s] the uniformity of nature” if not an objective basis – i.e., one that is wholly consistent with the primacy of existence?

You asked: “My question which you are yet to answer rationally is,how does your worldview make the uniformity of nature rationally possible?”

Again, questions like this show that you are not integrating what has already been presented to you. Nature’s uniformity obtains independent of anything we think, believe, wish, prefer, imagine, hope, pray, etc. A worldview does not “make” the uniformity of nature “possible” (rationally or otherwise) any more than a worldview can make a tree grow leaves. Your whole worldview is suffocating in subjectivism, Dave, and you don’t even realize it. Your own questions ooze with the primacy of consciousness.

You asked: “on what epidemiological basis do you assume that the future will be like the past?”

To the extent that I “assume that the future will be like the past,” I do this on the basis of the axioms, the primacy of existence and the objective theory of concepts. I think I’ve stated this before in response to your queries, but I see that you haven’t grasped it yet. Why?

You wrote: “natural laws might change in such a way that people may levitate.”

You are speaking on behalf of your own worldview here, Dave. You seem to have accepted the view that whatever one can imagine must be accepted as a legitimate possibility. I do not accept such a view. Imagination does not hold metaphysical primacy over facts. An objective worldview acknowledges this fact explicitly. But you clearly deny this fact.

You wrote: “i ask you to give me a rational basis as to why you believe that people wont levitate in the future?”

Again, on the basis of the axioms, the primacy of existence and the objective theory of concepts. Summarily these constitute the basis of my knowledge.

[continued…]

May 21, 2014 2:41 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “If you say because its not the nature of humans to do so, you beg the question because one cannot know the nature of something without induction which ultimately presupposes the uniformity in nature.”

Using induction to formulate generalizations is not fallacious, Dave. The fallacy of begging the question is a fallacy committed by deductive arguments. If it is not the nature of human beings to do something, citing this fact in answer to arbitrary questions (such as the one you propose) is not in any way fallacious.

You wrote: “Moreover, the definitions you give for terms like existence, nature, identity e.t.c are simply false.”

You have not shown that my definitions are false in any way. At best, you have merely shown that one or two of the definitions which I have presented in answer to your questions are not, word for word, identical to other definitions you have found. It does not follow from this that anything I have presented is false. The importance of defining terms is fundamentally two-fold: (a) that one in fact defines his terms according to objective criteria (which the objective theory of concepts makes clear) and makes their meaning plain, and (b) that his position is consistent with those definitions. You have not shown that any position which I have affirmed conflicts with the definitions I have affirmed.

You wrote: “How do I perceive God,easy through the things which have been made (Rom.1:20)”

You mean, such as a magnifying glass? Or a telescope perhaps? These are “things which have been made,” and you say that you “perceive” your god “through” such things. What specifically is it that you perceive, and by what means do you identify what you have perceived? This is the great unexplored chasm of your worldview, Dave.

Besides, it’s unhelpful for you to rely on Romans 1:20 if for nothing else for the fact that it is self-contradictory. Take a look at what it says: “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen.” It says that “invisible things… are clearly seen.” If something is “clearly seen,” then it’s not invisible. You need to choose one – either “invisible” or “clearly seen” – and be willing to stick with it.

You wrote: “that is what is experienced in nature is the work of His hands (Ps.19:1).”

Of course, I can imagine that this is the case. But the problem is that you identify no alternative to imagination as the means by which I can contemplate such a claim.

You wrote: “when I look ‘outward’ God is perceived through what is made”

So, your god is material after all? Then Greg Bahnsen and scores of other Christians got it totally wrong. How can that be?

[continued…]

May 21, 2014 2:41 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “when I look ‘inwardly’ I see the very image of God.”

When you look inward, you “see” what you imagine, Dave. You don’t have to admit this, but we both know it’s true.

You wrote: “the objective evidence is abundant.”

If you say so, Dave.

You wrote: “but evidence alone wont do, because as I have stated one's presuppositions determine how one interprets the evidence.”

Yes, that’s your worldview: what you call “evidence” has already gone through the filter of your presuppositions, which themselves can have no evidential basis, in order to confirm what you wanted to believe all along. That is exactly how your worldview utilizes “presuppositions” – i.e., as a means of reinforcing subjectively held faith-based beliefs.

You wrote: “I look at nature and reach the conclusion that an intelligent sovereign God created it and controls it.”

Ah, so now you’re saying that you get to your god by means of inference - since you find it in a “conclusion.” But above your statements suggest that you perceive it directly. You have to pick one or the other, Dave. Do you perceive your god directly (in which case it would have to be physical, since sense perception only reacts to physical stimuli), or do you infer it (in which case you should identify what specifically you perceive and how you get yourself to the conclusion “God exists”). Throughout all this, you need to explain how one can reliably distinguish what you call “God” from what you may merely be imagining, which so far you haven’t done.

Tell me, Dave: what is wrong with explicitly and consistently distinguishing between reality and imagination? If I already know that I must use my imagination merely to contemplate what someone tells me, on what basis should accept the claim that what I’m imagining is actually real? Again, you do not speak to this. It’s as though you’re not even aware of this problem.

Regards,
Dawson

May 21, 2014 2:41 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Dawson

I read in the news yesterday that the army has declared martial law in Thailand. I hope all is well and that you and your family are safe.

May 21, 2014 4:21 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Justin,

Thanks for your concern. So far, we're okay, though there are troops, tanks and other armored vehicles scattered throughout Bangkok. Yesterday it caught us all off-guard since the declaration was made at 3am in the morning, and major commute arteries were blocked, constricted or detoured. But today was better. Things are touchy here, but have been for months. Hopefully things do not get any more violent than they have been. But most think it will get worse before it finally reaches a new and workable equilibrium around here. We just have to keep our ears and eyes open is all.

Regards,
Dawson

May 21, 2014 4:41 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

By the way, Dave, I noticed that you have not answered the following questions yet, so I am reposting them:

1. According to the bible, what is existence?

2. According to the bible, how is existence possible?

3. According to the bible, why is it that we have existence rather than non-existence?

4. According to the bible, how does one know the way in which things exist today will be the same tomorrow?


Please cite biblical references (e.g, Luke 14:26) for each of your answers.

Regards,
Dawson

May 21, 2014 5:41 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Dawson

Glad to hear everything is ok. I was in the military when 911 happened and I clearly remember how much on edge we were. I hope things get better and people can get on with their lives with out having tanks in the streets.

I just got done viewing a hour long interview of Neil deGrasse Tyson by stephen Colbert of all people. At the end Stephen asked of Neil "why is there something rather then nothing" Neil in keeping with the comic atmosphere of the interview responded in haiku form "words that make questions, may not be questions at all" I loved it!

May 21, 2014 10:32 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

Dear Bahnsen Burner,

First, let me answer your 4 questions:

1. According to the bible, what is existence?

Existence is all things within God's created order. (Gen.1.1ff.). It is, all things which live move or have being (Act.17:28).

2. According to the bible, how is existence possible?

Existence is possible because there is an all-powerful sovereign God who purposed it. (Jn.1:3; Col.1:16; Isa.46:10; Rom.11:36; Eph.1:11).

3. According to the bible, why is it that we have existence rather than non-existence?

Because God, according to His own pleasure and sovereign will determined to create. (Gen.1:1, 26; Isa.46:10; Ehp.1:11).

4.According to the bible, how does one know the way in which things exist today will be the same tomorrow?

Because God, who is the creator of the universe has promised in His word to uphold the world in a uniform consistent and regular way (Gen.8:22; Heb.1:2).

Now these answers may not be persuasive to you but at least I have given you an answer for the presuppositions which I hold about the nature of existence. I am still waiting for your answers.

May 21, 2014 11:09 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

I asked you how do you know the nature of an entity? you replied: "R-E-A-S-O-N" again I fail to see how you don't recognize the fact that you are begging the question. the faculty of reasoning cannot supply you with any facts about nature. Anyone can reason, however your reasoning must be measured against a standard in order to determine weather you are reasoning properly or coherently. That standard is the universal laws of logic which are a property of the universe (they exist). Now when you say that you can determine the nature of an entity by applying reason you are assuming the unchanging nature of reason itself.

You say in regards to my statement "any so-called "fact" which we derive from nature depends on the method of induction." that
"the facts of reality do not depend on any method by which we discover and identify them."
Facts are truth statements derived from man's experience of the world. they totally depend upon the method of induction. how do we learn about the universe? through studying it, of course. but we are limited by our experience of it. outside of our experience of the natural world we have complete uncertainty. one could not claim something to be a fact without assuming the thing under investigation will continue to exist in the exact way he or she has experienced it. Horses don't lay eggs, this is a fact or truth claim we have derive from our experience of horses. But no one has ever studied the nature of every single horse ever to exist at the same time and in the same place. The fact that horses don't lay eggs is inferred from all known experiences of horses, that is, through induction.

you ask, "on what basis do you think one assumes the uniformity of nature?" I will answer with a question: do you make plans for tomorrow? or for next week or month? but if the universe were not operating in a uniformly consistent way such planning would be futile. you assume that the world is a certain way, namely uniform and consistent. what ever knowledge you have gained in your past experiences is completely irrelevant unless you assume that future experiences will reflect past ones. I fail to see why you cannot understand this.
you say, "nature's unformity obtains independent of anything we think, believe, wish, prefer, imagine,...e.t.c" I agree with you and I have never asserted that the uniformity of nature is dependent on man's consciousness. my question is how do you rationally account for the uniformity of nature? that is, how do you make sense out of the existence of uniformity in nature? on the Christian worldview it makes perfect sense given our presuppositions about God and creation. but on your worldview where there is no God and existence is essentially matter in motion without design or intelligence, the idea of the universe being uniformly consistent, absolute and unchanging seems completely contradictory.

May 21, 2014 11:10 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

you said using induction to formulate generalizations is not fallacious,Dave."

I never said it was, but when I ask how do you know the nature of something and you say that something cannot do a certain thing because its not within its nature to do so, you assume its nature in order to argue for its nature. induction does not beg the question, your argument does.

you criticize my citation of (Romans 1:20)saying that its contradictory because you say it means invisible things are seen. this is poor exegesis, the Greek word often translated as "clearly seen" is Kalhorao, which specifically means in this context to discern or understand. in other words, God's invisible attributes are manifested in such a way that they are clearly discernible.

you wrote,"so, your God is material after all? don't know how you drew that inference from the fact that God is understood clearly as are His eternal qualities through the externally observable creation.

when you say I get to my God by means of inference, once again you build a straw man. I don't get to God through the evidence, I understand the evidence in light of my ultimate presupposition that God exists and the universe is His creation. looking outwardly is empirical confirmation of my ultimate presupposition.

Regards,

May 21, 2014 11:10 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Dave,

I asked: “1. According to the bible, what is existence?”

You wrote: “Existence is all things within God's created order. (Gen.1.1ff.). It is, all things which live move or have being (Act.17:28).”

None of these verses which you have given in response to my questions specifies that these are supposed to be taken as definitions of the concept ‘existence’. So your citation of these verses strike me as ad hoc. Also, two important assumptions are clear from what you are saying:

1) The Christian god is not *part* of existence – it’s “outside” existence? That would be an admission that it does not exist.

2) Your statements confirm my analysis that Christianity assumes the primacy of consciousness at the most fundamental level – i.e., characterizing existence as having its source in some act of consciousness – i.e., metaphysical subjectivism.

Both 1) and 2) render Christianity utterly incomprehensible, self-refuting and purely subjective in nature.

I asked: “2. According to the bible, how is existence possible?”

You wrote: “Existence is possible because there is an all-powerful sovereign God who purposed it. (Jn.1:3; Col.1:16; Isa.46:10; Rom.11:36; Eph.1:11).”

In other words, existence on the Christian view is a product of conscious activity. That makes reality completely subjective.

I asked: “3. According to the bible, why is it that we have existence rather than non-existence?”

You wrote: “Because God, according to His own pleasure and sovereign will determined to create. (Gen.1:1, 26; Isa.46:10; Ehp.1:11).”

So again, we have another affirmation of metaphysical subjectivism. You can’t get more subjective than all this.

I asked: “4.According to the bible, how does one know the way in which things exist today will be the same tomorrow?”

You wrote: “Because God, who is the creator of the universe has promised in His word to uphold the world in a uniform consistent and regular way (Gen.8:22; Heb.1:2).”

Stating “because God” does not identify the how of cognition, so this does not answer my question. Also, even the Christian bible says that there will come a day when everything changes – an apocalypse, an “end times” which was promised way back when but has never come. Believers supposedly expect that Jesus is coming back “soon” (per the Book of Revelation). So if one goes by the bible, the same Christian god which supposedly promised to uphold the world in a uniform way also promised to demolish the world through an act of will, a “judgment.”

You wrote: “Now these answers may not be persuasive to you”

Do you think they should? You don’t even try to persuade me here. But what’s clear is that my worldview’s fundamentals need to be true even for you to contemplate the pseudo-answers which you have given above.

You wrote: “but at least I have given you an answer for the presuppositions which I hold about the nature of existence.”

You have not explained why you accept metaphysical subjectivism.

[continued…]

May 22, 2014 4:39 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “I asked you how do you know the nature of an entity? you replied: "R-E-A-S-O-N" again I fail to see how you don't recognize the fact that you are begging the question.”

Using an objective means of knowledge (i.e., reason) to discover the nature of an entity is not question-begging.

You wrote: “the faculty of reasoning cannot supply you with any facts about nature.”

That depends on what specifically you mean by “supply” here. Facts exist in nature. We discover and identify them by means of reason.

You wrote: “Anyone can reason, however your reasoning must be measured against a standard in order to determine weather you are reasoning properly or coherently.”

Yes, that standard is the primacy of existence. Your entire worldview denies the primacy of existence, and yet you assume the primacy of existence whenever you assert that your worldview is true (unless of course you say that Christian is true simply because you want it to be or believe it to be true, which perhaps you do).

You wrote: “Now when you say that you can determine the nature of an entity by applying reason you are assuming the unchanging nature of reason itself.”

Reason has identity. If something is not reason, it’s not reason. I don’t see any problem here. It sounds like you’re trying to manufacture a problem, via skepticism, in order to evade reason. That’s your choice.

You wrote: “Facts are truth statements derived from man's experience of the world.”

Wrong again. You’re confusing facts with statements identifying those facts. Facts are entities existing in specific contexts. This is a consequence of adhering to a worldview which fails to distinguish between the subject of consciousness and its objects. You’ll find no discussion of this in the bible, and yet it’s fundamental to primary philosophy.

You wrote: “they totally depend upon the method of induction.”

Again, wrong. Facts exist independent of the method by which we discover and identify them. Again, existence exists independent of consciousness. As I indicated earlier, your whole world is choking in metaphysical subjectivism and you don’t even know it.

You wrote: “how do we learn about the universe? through studying it, of course. but we are limited by our experience of it.”

Not if we have concepts. Of course, you don’t understand how concepts expand our awareness beyond what we directly experience, so this point is lost on you. That is why you think you need to escape reality and fantasize an imaginary alternative to reality.

You wrote: “outside of our experience of the natural world we have complete uncertainty.”

That’s your worldview, Dave, not Objectivism. Your worldview denies the conceptual level of consciousness. That is why you have fallen for this completely false understanding of knowledge.

[continued…]

May 22, 2014 4:40 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “one could not claim something to be a fact without assuming the thing under investigation will continue to exist in the exact way he or she has experienced it.”

How do you know this? You don’t even give an argument for this. Your worldview is the one stranded on unargued and examined assumptions, precisely because your worldview begins by denying the axioms and the primacy of existence. Moreover, your worldview strands you at the perceptual level of awareness because it denies the conceptual level of knowledge. You don’t even recognize any of this about your worldview, but in fact it is these deficiencies which lead you to the false views you are affirming here.

You wrote: “Horses don't lay eggs,”

One can say this with certainly only on the basis of the Objectivist fundamentals. But if we posit a universe-creating, reality-ruling consciousness which can create anything and alter anything at will, we would have no way of knowing if there are no such things as horses which do lay eggs. If I were a Christian and I chose to be faithful to Christianity’s metaphysical subjectivism, I’d have no way to know whether or not there are horses which lay eggs.

I asked: "on what basis do you think one assumes the uniformity of nature?"

You do not answer this question, but instead pose additional questions of your own. So perhaps you have no basis on which to assume the uniformity of nature? Or do you appeal to the magic wishing of something that we can only imagine?

I wrote: "nature's unformity obtains independent of anything we think, believe, wish, prefer, imagine,...e.t.c"

You responded: “I agree with you”

Then you concede the truth of my worldview.

You wrote: “I have never asserted that the uniformity of nature is dependent on man's consciousness.”

Presumably you do not think the UoN is dependent on cat consciousness, dog consciousness, monkey consciousness, antelope consciousness, etc. Objectivism recognizes the primacy of existence – i.e., that existence exists independent of consciousness – of any consciousness. Your worldview clearly holds that any uniformity one might attribute to the universe is a product of conscious activity, only the consciousness allegedly responsible for this is something we can only imagine. Thus subjectivism is involved not only in the content of your worldview’s affirmations, but also in its method (since you treat what you imagine as though it were factual).

You wrote: “my question is how do you rationally account for the uniformity of nature? that is, how do you make sense out of the existence of uniformity in nature?”

[continued…]

May 22, 2014 4:40 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “on the Christian worldview it makes perfect sense given our presuppositions about God and creation.”

This is a most weak claim. The issue is not whether it “makes sense” (and you’ve not shown that it does; by contrast, if you examine my writings from over the years, you’ll see that I have shown that it does not), but whether or not it’s true. A fictional story can “make sense” when a character in that performs some action that would be sensible given the context in which that action is performed. But this does not make the story true. James Bond ducking out of the way of a bullet “makes sense” given the story elements involved – i.e., that someone is shooting at him. But this does not mean that there really is a James Bond ducking bullets.

You wrote: “but on your worldview where there is no God and existence is essentially matter in motion without design or intelligence, the idea of the universe being uniformly consistent, absolute and unchanging seems completely contradictory.”

Even with the way you characterize my worldview as “matter in motion without design or intelligence,” why would uniformity “seem completely contradictory”? If something exists, it exists and is what it is independent of consciousness. In other words, identity is concurrent with existence. Wherever and whenever things exist, they exist and are what they are independent of conscious activity. That’s uniformity. That is what we find in nature. I see no contradiction here. What is contradicting what here? The only contradiction that you can find is by attempting to find something analogous to your primacy-of-consciousness assumptions, which my worldview rejects outright (and which are inherently incompatible with the uniformity of nature).

You wrote: “when I ask how do you know the nature of something and you say that something cannot do a certain thing because its not within its nature to do so, you assume its nature in order to argue for its nature.”

You’re confused here. Where was I attempting to “argue for its nature”? That’s different from what you asked. Discovering and validating one’s identification of what one discovers is epistemological. I don’t have to “argue for” something’s nature in order to know it; I merely need to discover it and identify it according to an objective method – i.e., the objective theory of concepts.

You wrote: “you criticize my citation of (Romans 1:20)saying that its contradictory because you say it means invisible things are seen. this is poor exegesis, the Greek word often translated as ‘clearly seen’ is Kalhorao, which specifically means in this context to discern or understand. in other words, God's invisible attributes are manifested in such a way that they are clearly discernible.”

No exegesis on my part to begin with. My bible clearly says that “invisible things” are “clearly seen.” I did not have to perform exegesis to get this from the text; it states this plainly all by its own. But apparently you sense a problem here since you prefer a different translation than one put out by experts in the field. Fine. But this means that the “invisible things” which supposedly belong to the Christian god are not seen directly, but rather are inferred from what is seen directly. But what premises are involved in that inference? How are those premises validated? It can only mean that you do not have direct awareness of your god when you look outward at the world, which was the original point in question.

[continued…]

May 22, 2014 4:41 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “you wrote,"so, your God is material after all? don't know how you drew that inference from the fact that God is understood clearly as are His eternal qualities through the externally observable creation.”

I guess you need everything spelled out for you. My statement was made in response to your own statement, namely: “when I look ‘outward’ God is perceived through what is made.” As I explained, sense perception only reacts to physical stimuli. That’s what “perceive” means: perceive by means of the senses – i.e., the sensory organs. If you mean something other that perception (e.g., imagination or something like that), then you need to specify it.

You wrote: “when you say I get to my God by means of inference, once again you build a straw man.”

No straw man on my part. I’m trying to understand what you’re saying. On the one hand your statements indicate that you perceive your god directly, elsewhere your statements indicate that you infers its existence, as I pointed out. It’s up to you to spell out your position clearly and consistently.

You wrote: “I don't get to God through the evidence, I understand the evidence in light of my ultimate presupposition that God exists and the universe is His creation.”

This can only mean that your “ultimate presupposition that God exists” has no objective basis. But we already know that.

You wrote: “looking outwardly is empirical confirmation of my ultimate presupposition.”

Please identify one instance in which looking outward indicates that existence conforms to conscious activity. When I look at a rock (something I perceive by looking outward), and wish that it turn into a refrigerator, guess what: it doesn’t. The rock does not conform to my conscious activity. Nothing does. Why grant the view that existence does conform to conscious activity as your ultimate presupposition when there is nothing that we discover by looking outward at reality which suggests that this is true? Again, we can imagine this, but that’s all you have going for this.

Again, please explain how I can reliably distinguish between what you call “God” and what you may merely be imagining. So far, I’ve seen nothing from you on this matter, even though I’ve raised this concern several times now.

Regards,
Dawson

May 22, 2014 4:41 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Okay everyone, listen up...

A military coup has just been announced here in Thailand. This was effective 4:30 pm this afternoon, Thursday May 22.

Also, I just learned early this afternoon that I need to go to a three-day training, beginning tomorrow morning and going through Friday - this training is in a neighboring province outside Bangkok - i.e., reclaimed jungle.

Given these and other uncertain factors, I will probably not be able to post anything. If I can approve comments from my iPhone, I will. But things are pretty unstable here at the time. Hopefully it will be a safe ride for everyone. But neighbors are already urging everyone not to leave their homes.

Exciting times... I understand this is like the 19th coup, attempted and/or real, in Thailand since the 1930s or something. So the folks here have survived it before.

Regards,
Dawson

May 22, 2014 4:46 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Sorry, that should be "going through Sunday" - not "going through Friday".... Obviously lots on my mind here.

May 22, 2014 5:53 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

The local morning show is on here in L.A. as I'm writing this, and they just did a little news blurb on the coup over there.

Be safe.

Ydemoc

May 22, 2014 8:19 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

Dear Bahnsen Burner,
You said:
“None of these verses which you have given in response to my questions specifies that these are supposed to be taken as definitions of the concept ‘existence’. So your citation of these verses strike me as ad hoc.”
However I believe your question was “according to the “bible”, what is existence?” your question was not “which specific verses in the bible gives a detailed definition of the term existence?” The bible is not a dictionary, it is God’s revelation to man and from it we gain knowledge about Him. This knowledge comes from studying His word, taking in the “entirety” of the bible’s testimony about Him and from this we come to a human level of understanding who God is. My citations were to show that God is the source of all existence, that all things are contingent upon Him. Even His own existence is dependent upon the fact that He is God, He is not outside existence He is existence. He says to Moses, I am, who I am (Ex.3:14).
You said that based on my answers to your questions I assume two points which are detrimental to my worldview:
(1.) “The Christian God is not *part* of existence”
When I said that existence is everything in God’s created order, I did not include God within the created order because He was not created. I was speaking of existence in terms of that which exists in creation as I believed this to be in the context of the discussion. God is outside of existence inasmuch as He is not a part of that which exists in creation.
(2.) “Your statements confirm my analysis that Christianity assumes the primacy of consciousness at the most fundamental level – i.e., characterizing existence as having its source in some act of consciousness – i.e., metaphysical subjectivism.”
Yes, you are right. I do believe in the primacy of consciousness, not my own or any other human but God’s. without the mind of God nothing is possible. Things do exist independent of man but man has no way of knowing this outside of his experience. No one has experienced the future, that is, no one has experienced that which is not yet, the only way I can know things about reality is if I extrapolate my experiences of the past or present into the future. In other words, I must assume that the future will be like the past. When you appeal to reason you are assuming its universality, validity and unchanging character. You are not alone in this, Christians assume this too. However Christians have a rational basis for this assumption which I have explained previously. But on what basis can the unbeliever make sense of his assumptions? No one is asking you to prove reason without using reason, as this is impossible. What I am asking is how do the characteristics which you assign to reason make sense within your worldview?
You wrote:
“I asked: “3. According to the bible, why is it that we have existence rather than non-existence?”

May 23, 2014 5:17 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

Dear Bahnsen Burner,
You said:
“None of these verses which you have given in response to my questions specifies that these are supposed to be taken as definitions of the concept ‘existence’. So your citation of these verses strike me as ad hoc.”
However I believe your question was “according to the “bible”, what is existence?” your question was not “which specific verses in the bible gives a detailed definition of the term existence?” The bible is not a dictionary, it is God’s revelation to man and from it we gain knowledge about Him. This knowledge comes from studying His word, taking in the “entirety” of the bible’s testimony about Him and from this we come to a human level of understanding who God is. My citations were to show that God is the source of all existence, that all things are contingent upon Him. Even His own existence is dependent upon the fact that He is God, He is not outside existence He is existence. He says to Moses, I am, who I am (Ex.3:14).
You said that based on my answers to your questions I assume two points which are detrimental to my worldview:
(1.) “The Christian God is not *part* of existence”
When I said that existence is everything in God’s created order, I did not include God within the created order because He was not created. I was speaking of existence in terms of that which exists in creation as I believed this to be in the context of the discussion. God is outside of existence inasmuch as He is not a part of that which exists in creation.
(2.) “Your statements confirm my analysis that Christianity assumes the primacy of consciousness at the most fundamental level – i.e., characterizing existence as having its source in some act of consciousness – i.e., metaphysical subjectivism.”
Yes, you are right. I do believe in the primacy of consciousness, not my own or any other human but God’s. without the mind of God nothing is possible. Things do exist independent of man but man has no way of knowing this outside of his experience. No one has experienced the future, that is, no one has experienced that which is not yet, the only way I can know things about reality is if I extrapolate my experiences of the past or present into the future. In other words, I must assume that the future will be like the past. When you appeal to reason you are assuming its universality, validity and unchanging character. You are not alone in this, Christians assume this too. However Christians have a rational basis for this assumption which I have explained previously. But on what basis can the unbeliever make sense of his assumptions? No one is asking you to prove reason without using reason, as this is impossible. What I am asking is how do the characteristics which you assign to reason make sense within your worldview?
You wrote:
“I asked: “3. According to the bible, why is it that we have existence rather than non-existence?”

May 23, 2014 5:18 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

You wrote: “Because God, according to His own pleasure and sovereign will determined to create. (Gen.1:1, 26; Isa.46:10; Ehp.1:11).”

So again, we have another affirmation of metaphysical subjectivism. You can’t get more subjective than all this.”
I don’t think you are grasping the Christian claim that no reality exists outside of God. Metaphysics is subjective but only to God, not to man. Man is finite, God is infinite, and He is from everlasting to everlasting (Ps.90:2), “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom.11:36). If it were not so He would not be God.
You said:
“I asked: “4.According to the bible, how does one know the way in which things exist today will be the same tomorrow?”
“You wrote: “Because God, who is the creator of the universe has promised in His word to uphold the world in a uniform consistent and regular way (Gen.8:22; Heb.1:2).”

Stating “because God” does not identify the how of cognition, so this does not answer my question. Also, even the Christian bible says that there will come a day when everything changes – an apocalypse, an “end times” which was promised way back when but has never come. Believers supposedly expect that Jesus is coming back “soon” (per the Book of Revelation). So if one goes by the bible, the same Christian god which supposedly promised to uphold the world in a uniform way also promised to demolish the world through an act of will, a “judgment.”
Firstly, you must remember that if God is who the bible says He is (i.e. the sovereign and immutable creator of the universe), then His word is likewise immutable (Num.23:19). Therefore if God promises that “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” then upon His authoritative and immutable word we have an absolute certain foundation for belief in the uniformity of nature. Secondly, I feel as though you are trying to ascribe an eschatological position to me which I do not personally hold, namely the dispensational school of pre-tribulational rapturism. I don’t expect that Jesus is coming back “soon” not until all His enemies become the footstool of His feet (Ps.110:1; 1 Cor.15:25; Heb.10:12-13). Furthermore the book of Revelation does mention that Christ is coming “soon” but this was a judgment coming of Christ upon the house of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (I’d refer you to “Before Jerusalem Fell.” K en L. Gentry). Nowhere in the bible does God say He will demolish the world. We don’t await the destruction of the world but the restoring and renewing of it.
You wrote:
“You don’t even try to persuade me here.”
Your right, I don’t. It’s not my job to persuade you but there is a difference between proof and persuasion. I cannot invoke psychological persuasion within you, what you take to be persuasive is

May 23, 2014 5:18 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

subjective. People can be persuaded by poor argumentation or even lack of evidence but proof is objective as I would assume you believe.
You wrote:
“Using an objective means of knowledge (i.e., reason) to discover the nature of an entity is not question-begging.”
My question is what objective means of knowledge do you use to discover the nature of reason? You must first presuppose certain things about reality before you devise or apply a method to discover reality. You cannot start with epistemology and move to ontology without having certain ontological presuppositions.
You wrote:
“Facts exist in nature. We discover and identify them by means of reason.”
I disagree with your definition of facts. Facts are truth claims based on our experience of nature. We have no certainty that a “fact” of nature will exist tomorrow unless we assume uniformity. But on what basis do you assume uniformity? This is what I keep trying to ask.
You said:
“You wrote: “Anyone can reason, however your reasoning must be measured against a standard in order to determine weather you are reasoning properly or coherently.”

Yes, that standard is the primacy of existence. Your entire worldview denies the primacy of existence, and yet you assume the primacy of existence whenever you assert that your worldview is true (unless of course you say that Christian is true simply because you want it to be or believe it to be true, which perhaps you do).
No. the standard is not the “primacy of existence” the standard for validating ones reasoning is the laws of logic. Such laws must be universal, absolute and invariant. As I mentioned before “existence” is not a standard for truth, something is not true because it exists. The statement: “apples are bananas,” exists but is untrue as it violates the law of non-contradiction. So I will ask again, how do you account for universal, absolute and invariant laws of logic?
You said:
“Reason has identity. If something is not reason, it’s not reason. I don’t see any problem here. It sounds like you’re trying to manufacture a problem, via skepticism, in order to evade reason. That’s your choice.”
Reason does have identity but will reason exhibit the same identity tomorrow? What confidence do you have in assuming the same identity of an entity over time?

May 23, 2014 5:19 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

You said:
“Facts are entities existing in specific contexts”
What does a fact look like? What does it feel like? Or how can I measure one? Facts are immaterial or abstract. They are ones rational conclusions about nature derived from ones experience.
You wrote:
“Even with the way you characterize my worldview as “matter in motion without design or intelligence,” why would uniformity “seem completely contradictory”? If something exists, it exists and is what it is independent of consciousness.”
It’s contradictory because if existence is nothing more than matter in motion (i.e. Changing), and yet you claim that the universe is uniform (i.e. unchanging) this is a contradiction. Something cannot be changing and unchanging at the same time and in the same sense. Moreover, I would assume that you believe humans are intelligent beings, but if there were no intelligence to begin with how did intelligence come to be? Intelligence cannot come from non-intelligence.
You criticize my citation of Romans 1:20 saying:
“No exegesis on my part to begin with. My bible clearly says that “invisible things” are “clearly seen.” I did not have to perform exegesis to get this from the text; it states this plainly all by its own. But apparently you sense a problem here since you prefer a different translation than one put out by experts in the field. Fine. But this means that the “invisible things” which supposedly belong to the Christian god are not seen directly, but rather are inferred from what is seen directly. But what premises are involved in that inference? How are those premises validated? It can only mean that you do not have direct awareness of your god when you look outward at the world, which was the original point in question.”
Your bible may clearly state the phrase “clearly seen” but the bible was not written in English. If I want to know exactly what an ancient manuscript says I believe it’s prudent to read it in light of the language in which it was written. Furthermore, the very moment I have conscious awareness of myself I have conscious awareness of God seeing as though I am made in His image. Calvin called this the “Sensus divinitatis” (Institutes. I. 3. 1). the invisible attributes of God are evidenced through what has been made. The universe bears witness for its Creator (Ps.19:1).
You wrote:
“I guess you need everything spelled out for you. My statement was made in response to your own statement, namely: “when I look ‘outward’ God is perceived through what is made.” As I explained, sense perception only reacts to physical stimuli. That’s what “perceive” means: perceive by means of the senses – i.e., the sensory organs. If you mean something other that perception (e.g., imagination or something like that), then you need to specify it.”
You are confused, perceiving is not the same as sense perception. Sense perception is a “type” of perception. To perceive is to become aware or conscious of (something) it is to come to realize or understand. This understanding can be the result of the senses but not always, the laws of logic are

May 23, 2014 5:19 AM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

perceived without means of the senses, seeing as though the laws of logic are immaterial and cannot be seen by the senses.
I wrote:
“Looking outwardly is empirical confirmation of my ultimate presupposition.”
You wrote:
“Please identify one instance in which looking outward indicates that existence conforms to conscious activity. When I look at a rock (something I perceive by looking outward), and wish that it turn into a refrigerator, guess what: it doesn’t. The rock does not conform to my conscious activity. Nothing does. Why grant the view that existence does conform to conscious activity as your ultimate presupposition when there is nothing that we discover by looking outward at reality which suggests that this is true? Again, we can imagine this, but that’s all you have going for this.”
I never said that existence “conforms” to conscious activity, but that empirical observation CONFIRMS my ultimate presupposition!” That is, the empirical evidence validates my ultimate presupposition. No one is talking about imagining things into existence except you.
You close by saying:
“Again, please explain how I can reliably distinguish between what you call “God” and what you may merely be imagining. So far, I’ve seen nothing from you on this matter, even though I’ve raised this concern several times now.”
The way in which one distinguishes God from imaginary things is the overwhelming objective evidence for God’s existence. Evidence such as: universal laws of logic, the physical universe, moral absolutes , consciousness, the bible e.t.c. God has revealed Himself to all men so that they are without excuse (Rom.1:18). These things are proof of God’s existence through the impossibility of the contrary. The Christian system alone can make sense out of human experience and ain, the evidence is there it all depends on how you interpret the evidence based upon your underlying presuppositions.

Regards,

May 23, 2014 5:19 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Dave,

I have seen your comments and have posted them. I will be responding in due course. This past week has been horrendously busy for me, and all indications are that this will be the case for the next month or so. So please be patient. Once I have a response posted, I'll let you know here.

Naturally, if anyone else would like to interact with Dave's comments, please feel free.

Regards,
Dawson

June 01, 2014 3:49 PM  
Blogger freddies_dead said...

I see Dave is back with some more nonsense.

God is outside of existence inasmuch as He is not a part of that which exists in creation.

How can anything be "outside of existence"? Either your God exists or He doesn't, which one is it?

Yes, you are right. I do believe in the primacy of consciousness, not my own or any other human but God’s.

So consciousness isn't the same for everybody then? In which case why call it consciousness?

without the mind of God nothing is possible

I've seen this baseless assertion over and over but not once have I seen an actual argument to support it. Simply claiming something isn't the same as demonstrating the truth of it. Maybe Dave could furnish us with an argument that actually shows the "impossibility of the contrary"?

However Christians have a rational basis for this assumption which I have explained previously.

Your supposed rational basis for assuming uniformity is a consciousness capable of changing everything on a whim - including uniformity. The Bible consistently tells us that we cannot know the workings of God's mind so any claim that He will not change everything whenever He feels like it is just so much horse shit.

It’s not my job to persuade you

Good job really as you're failing quite dismally.

proof is objective

I agree but how do you account for objectivity from within your inherently subjective worldview?

I disagree with your definition of facts. Facts are truth claims based on our experience of nature.

So facts can change depending on experience? What utter tosh. Consider the claim that "the earth exists". Now we will all (probably) accept that claim as "true" based on our direct experience of the earth but that's not what makes the earth's existence a fact. Why? Well, on a planet circling a star many many light years from here, in a society that hasn't yet discovered the means to observe far away planets, there's a small alien fellow named Jer-Twill. Now Jer-Twill has never had direct experience - indeed any experience - of the earth. By your "logic" the fact that the earth exists is now untrue. Well done Dave, you've managed to get the earth to both exist and not exist at the same time. The fact of the earth's existence doesn't depend on anyone's experience of it. It exists quite apart from what anyone may want or wish or hope or demand.

on what basis do you assume uniformity?

You really are quite lazy. A quick search turned up this entry

No. the standard is not the “primacy of existence” the standard for validating ones reasoning is the laws of logic.

And yet the "laws of logic" affirm the Primacy of Existence. Unless you think the law of identity holds depending on what someone wants, wishes, believes etc...? It seems you're still not understanding that the Primacy of Existence is a relationship. It's an understanding that objects exist independently of the subjects (consciousnesses) that are aware of them. Without the Primacy of Existence there's no way to call anything "true" for a consciousness could come along and decide that apples are indeed bananas (to use your example).

cont'd...

June 02, 2014 6:52 AM  
Blogger freddies_dead said...

cont'd...

So I will ask again, how do you account for universal, absolute and invariant laws of logic?

Dawson has written quite extensively on this subject. You could start with his response to Sye Ten Bruggencate's demand for an accounting.

Reason does have identity but will reason exhibit the same identity tomorrow?

And we're back to uniformity - see earlier link.

What confidence do you have in assuming the same identity of an entity over time?

Total confidence.

the very moment I have conscious awareness of myself I have conscious awareness of God seeing as though I am made in His image. Calvin called this the “Sensus divinitatis” (Institutes. I. 3. 1).

How do you distinguish between your "sensus divinitatis" and misinformation given to you by other supernatural beings (Satan, demons etc...)?

I never said that existence “conforms” to conscious activity

Hold on, you said God created everything. Have you changed your mind now?

No one is talking about imagining things into existence except you.

So how did God create everything ex nihilo?

These things are proof of God’s existence through the impossibility of the contrary.

Still waiting on that argument.

the evidence is there it all depends on how you interpret the evidence based upon your underlying presuppositions.

So it's not objective evidence then? After all objective evidence wouldn't be affected by what anyone thought, wished, demanded etc...

June 02, 2014 6:54 AM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

dave mcphillips,

The way in which one distinguishes God from imaginary things is the overwhelming objective evidence for God’s existence.

The only possible objective evidence for the existence of anything is the thing itself. I bet this is not what we're getting.

Evidence such as: universal laws of logic, the physical universe, moral absolutes , consciousness, the bible e.t.c.

Universal laws of logic are proof that there's beings who can conceptualize on the basis of what exists. Laws of logic would actually be proof that the Christian god does not exist, since this god is awfully nonsensical, and it's association to logic a perversion of the mind. An insult to our faculty to reason.

Morality cannot be absolute. It depends on there being beings who need values and a code of conduct in order to exist. It therefore is relative to those beings. Otherwise there would be no morality to talk about.

Note that for something to be absolute it should not depend on anything else. Yet, the Christian claims that there's moral absolutes, but that they depend on this "God." Christianity is self-contradictory.

Consciousness?

The bible is a compilation of stories, ancient laws, fables, a couple creation myths, several gods, etc. Nothing there objective about any gods at all.

God has revealed Himself to all men so that they are without excuse (Rom.1:18). These things are proof of God’s existence through the impossibility of the contrary.

In other words, your god does not exist. I know because I have had no revelation at all. Let alone one that some incoherent being exists and has revealed so to me. Since you have no objective anything, you rather make claims about this "God" and then expect us to take a burden of proof that belongs to you? No thanks.

The Christian system alone can make sense out of human experience and ain,

I don't know what you meant by "ain," but certainly, the Christian god would not make sense out of my experience. Actually, it is contradictory to the whole of my experience. I have had no revelations. The god is contradictory, which would be quite the wrong basis to make sense of my experience, etc, etc, etc.

the evidence is there it all depends on how you interpret the evidence based upon your underlying presuppositions.

If it all depends on how you interpret the evidence based upon your underlying presuppositions, then your "evidence" is openly subjective, yet you tried to have it pass for objective. Therefore your method to distinguish your god from imaginary things is based entirely on what you imagine, and thus it's self-refuting. You have no way of distinguishing your god from something you are merely imagining.

Sorry Dave, but all of your comments are contradictory, self-refuting, nonsense. You would be able to detect the problems with your comments all by yourself if you payed a little better attention. Why not try to do so? Go back to Dawson's first comments to you. Read carefully and for understanding. Actually pay attention with the aim of understanding, rather than the aim of deforming what's being explained to you. I know that deforming is part and parcel with presuppositionalism, but, if you care about learning at all, if your mind and self-respect as a human being have not been destroyed by the presuppositionalist system, then learn.

June 02, 2014 3:10 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

I wrote:

“God is outside of existence inasmuch as He is not a part of that which exists in creation.”
You wrote:
“How can anything be "outside of existence"? Either your God exists or He doesn't, which one is it?”
What you are failing to take into account is the Creator creature distinction. God is not just “anything” He is “God,” He is not subject to or controlled by His creation, i.e. his is not confined to the governing qualities of the universe. God is unique, He is in a category all His own. When we speak of existence we generally use definitional terms like: universe or reality. However if God were (apart) of the universe then He would be subject to the laws of the universe which He is not. God is rather self-existent and non-contingent. In this sense God isn’t (apart) of “existence” He is in another category (i.e. God), He is self-existent and is not confined by laws of the universe rather, He is the precondition to those laws and existence in general.
I wrote:
“Yes, you are right. I do believe in the primacy of consciousness, not my own or any other human but God’s.”
You wrote:
“So consciousness isn't the same for everybody then? In which case why call it consciousness?”
Again, you are failing to take into account the Creator creature distinction. God is not (apart) of the category entitled: “everybody” He is God and cannot be viewed as equal with man and man’s capabilities. Otherwise He would not be God. Consciousness is not the same for God and man no one has the mind of God because no one is God, God is God.

I wrote:
“without the mind of God nothing is possible”
You wrote:
“I've seen this baseless assertion over and over but not once have I seen an actual argument to support it. Simply claiming something isn't the same as demonstrating the truth of it. Maybe Dave could furnish us with an argument that actually shows the "impossibility of the contrary"?
This is not a baseless assertion. How do I know that “without God nothing is possible?” through the impossibility of the contrary. Suppose God doesn’t exist how would it be rationally possible to justify or account for those things in human experience which you and I take for granted? I submit that no other worldview can make sense out of reality. No other worldview can provide the necessary preconditions of rationality and human experience. Naturally you can attempt to refute my

June 06, 2014 7:18 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

argument by offering a rational basis contrary to Christianity which accounts for human experience but I am yet to hear one that is not either contradictory or rationally inconsistent.

I wrote:
“However Christians have a rational basis for this assumption which I have explained previously.”
You wrote:
“Your supposed rational basis for assuming uniformity is a consciousness capable of changing everything on a whim - including uniformity. The Bible consistently tells us that we cannot know the workings of God's mind so any claim that He will not change everything whenever He feels like it is just so much horse shit.”
In your response you demonstrate that you don’t wish to accurately represent your opponent’s position. God doesn’t do things on a “whim,” He is not spontaneous or arbitrary. God has a purpose in all things which He ordains. That is to say, God has a “reason” for every event that takes place. Although we cannot know the entirety of the Divine mind we can know what God has revealed to us about His character. God has revealed to us that He cannot lie (Num.23:19; Rom.3:4; 2 Tm.2:13) God has also promised that He will uphold the uniformity and regularity of the universe until the earth is no more (Gen.8:22; Heb.1:3; Col.1:17). Therefore that which God has revealed about Himself gives us a rational foundation for belief in nature’s uniformity. However, I would be interested to know what rational foundation you have for your assumption in the uniformity of nature?
You wrote:
“any claim that He will not change everything whenever He feels like it is just so much horse s***.”
I would like to express my disappointment that you feel the need to resort to childish, irrational and profane insults rather than deal respectfully and rationally with the arguments like an adult.
I wrote:
“proof is objective”
You wrote:
“I agree but how do you account for objectivity from within your inherently subjective worldview?”
I would ask you to please demonstrate how my world view is “subjective” because it appears to me that my worldview is the only one which can account for objectivity. How do you account for objective truths like: uniformity in nature, moral absolutes, laws of logic etc? I have not yet heard a rationally coherent answer.
I wrote:
“I disagree with your definition of facts. Facts are truth claims based on our experience of nature.”

June 06, 2014 7:18 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

You wrote:

“So facts can change depending on experience? What utter tosh. Consider the claim that "the earth exists". Now we will all (probably) accept that claim as "true" based on our direct experience of the earth but that's not what makes the earth's existence a fact. Why? Well, on a planet circling a star many many light years from here, in a society that hasn't yet discovered the means to observe far away planets, there's a small alien fellow named Jer-Twill. Now Jer-Twill has never had direct experience - indeed any experience - of the earth. By your "logic" the fact that the earth exists is now untrue. Well done Dave, you've managed to get the earth to both exist and not exist at the same time. The fact of the earth's existence doesn't depend on anyone's experience of it. It exists quite apart from what anyone may want or wish or hope or demand.”
I would like to know where in my statement I said facts can change on the basis of experience. My point was not that facts change but that they are acquired through experience. Facts are derived from man’s experience of the natural world, they are conclusions we posit about nature after repeatedly studying it empirically or rationally. But we do not know the future because we have not yet experienced the future. Therefore we cannot classify anything as “fact” unless we “assume” that the future will reflect the past. Which naturally leads us back to my question “how do you rationally justify the possibility of uniformity in nature?” as for you hypothesis, Jer-Twill does not know that the earth exists because he has no experience of it, therefore he cannot say that it is a fact that the earth exists this doesn’t nullify the existence of the earth it simply says that such a claim of the earth’s existence isn’t untrue its unproven according to Jer-Twill. Therefore I believe that your suggesting I have violated the law of non-contradiction is unfounded. Moreover, by appealing to an abstract universal and invariant law like the law of non-contradiction you demonstrate that you believe such things exist. But how is their existence possible in your worldview? What rational basis do you have for believing that the laws of logic are abstract, absolute, universal and invariant? I submit that What you are doing when you appeal to such laws is borrow from the Christian worldview which can make sense out of these things and then turn around and deny the Christian worldview. Essentially you are biting the hand that feeds you.

I wrote:
“ the standard is not the “primacy of existence” the standard for validating ones reasoning is the laws of logic.”
You wrote:
“And yet the "laws of logic" affirm the Primacy of Existence. Unless you think the law of identity holds depending on what someone wants, wishes, believes etc...? It seems you're still not understanding that the Primacy of Existence is a relationship. It's an understanding that objects exist independently of the subjects (consciousnesses) that are aware of them. Without the Primacy of Existence there's no way to call anything "true" for a consciousness could come along and decide that apples are indeed bananas (to use your example).”

June 06, 2014 7:19 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

I have never said nor do I believe that existence is contingent upon the mind of man. Moreover what someone wishes or wants or believes is not the same as ones consciousness. As I have already stated consciousness is ones cognitive awareness or apprehension of something, it is not synonymous with “imagination or wishing.” People are conscious of the laws of logic, but our consciousness is not the precondition of their existence, they are non-contingent and abstract! They are reflections of how God thinks and expects us to think, God is immaterial, absolute, invariant, universal (omnipresent). The laws of logic being that they reflect God’s thinking are likewise immaterial, absolute, invariant and universal. When you state that existence exists independent of conscious activity, I ask, does the truth claim “existence exists independent of conscious activity” itself exist? In which case, how can the truth claim be derived without conscious activity? Its very existence is wholly dependent on ones conscious activity. To say existence exists independent of conscious activity is to make a non-empirical claim, for no one has experienced every instance of existence rather, this is a claim derived from reason. As such, it assumes absolute, invariant and universal laws of logic and again I ask how are these laws justified in your worldview?
Moreover, you have no way of knowing the truth of the claim you are making without assuming uniformity in nature. While theoretically the claim may be true today how do you know it will be true tomorrow? On what rational basis can you extrapolate your past experience into the future?
I asked:
“What confidence do you have in assuming the same identity of an entity over time?”
You answered:
“Total confidence.”
In other words you don’t have an answer.

I wrote:
“the very moment I have conscious awareness of myself I have conscious awareness of God seeing as though I am made in His image. Calvin called this the “Sensus divinitatis” (Institutes. I. 3. 1).”
You wrote:
“How do you distinguish between your "sensus divinitatis" and misinformation given to you by other supernatural beings (Satan, demons etc...)?”
By my ultimate standard for truth, God’s word. Why do I believe that God’s word is the ultimate standard for truth? By the impossibility of the contrary.
I wrote:
“I never said that existence “conforms” to conscious activity”

June 06, 2014 7:19 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

You write:

“Hold on, you said God created everything. Have you changed your mind now?”
God did create everything, but the context of my statement had to do with the conscious activity of man. Ultimately God’s conscious activity is the pre-condition of all existence but man does not possess the same power. Again you are failing to take into account the Creator creature distinction.
I wrote:
“No one is talking about imagining things into existence except you.”
You wrote:
“So how did God create everything ex nihilo?”
Again there is a failure to consider the Creator creature distinction. God is not in the category of “No one.” When we say God created “ex-nihilo” we mean that God didn’t create things out of pre-existing matter, in which case it wouldn’t be creation but rather, re-organisation. God created things which previously didn’t exist, however technically God’s creation was “ex-Deo” (out of God) God created by His own power.
I wrote:
“the evidence is there it all depends on how you interpret the evidence based upon your underlying presuppositions.”
You wrote:
“So it's not objective evidence then? After all objective evidence wouldn't be affected by what anyone thought, wished, demanded etc...”
No. the evidence is objective, the conclusions drawn from such evidence is subjective because people interpret things differently according to their presuppositions about the nature of reality, knowledge and ethics.
I wrote:
“The way in which one distinguishes God from imaginary things is the overwhelming objective evidence for God’s existence.”
You wrote:
“The only possible objective evidence for the existence of anything is the thing itself. I bet this is not what we're getting.”
I gather you are referring to physical things. In which case you preclude the possibility of non-physical existence. so then you must not believe in the existence of concepts, laws, thought, rationality, morality etc.

June 06, 2014 7:19 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

I wrote:
“Evidence such as: universal laws of logic, the physical universe, moral absolutes , consciousness, the bible e.t.c.”
You wrote:
“Universal laws of logic are proof that there's beings who can conceptualize on the basis of what exists. Laws of logic would actually be proof that the Christian god does not exist, since this god is awfully nonsensical, and it's association to logic a perversion of the mind. An insult to our faculty to reason.”
Do you have any proof that God is nonsensical and an insult to our faculty to reason or is this merely you prejudicial conjecture? Moreover, in your response you imply that you believe in universal laws of logic. Good. So do I. How do you justify their existence, their universal character and their unchanging quality?
You wrote:
“Morality cannot be absolute. It depends on there being beings who need values and a code of conduct in order to exist. It therefore is relative to those beings. Otherwise there would be no morality to talk about.”
If morality isn’t absolute then why do we apply morals as if they are? If someone does something like kill an innocent child why do we classify that act as evil? when we do so we view morality as authoritative, absolute and objective. But on your worldview morals are relative in which case killing innocent children isn’t wrong given the values a person has subjectively chosen to adopt. You say that beings “need values and a code of conduct in order to exist.” My question is, how do we decide which values and codes of conduct to adopt? What standard do we apply? Secondly who cares if we exist or not? If humans are nothing more than bits of matter in motion why does man have any more value than say a carrot?
You wrote:
“Note that for something to be absolute it should not depend on anything else. Yet, the Christian claims that there's moral absolutes, but that they depend on this "God." Christianity is self-contradictory.”
To say something is absolute is to say that it is transcendent, unchanging, universal etc. morals are absolute because they are an attribute of an absolute being (God) they are not outside of God they are a part of His nature how is that a contradiction? A contradiction goes more like this:
1. if a person has no conscious activity that person is dead and no longer exists
2. Existence exists independent of conscious activity
You wrote:
“The bible is a compilation of stories, ancient laws, fables, a couple creation myths, several gods, etc. Nothing there objective about any gods at all.”

June 06, 2014 7:20 PM  
Blogger dave mcphillips said...

Any evidence to validate these claims or are these more prejudicial conjectures?
I wrote:
“God has revealed Himself to all men so that they are without excuse (Rom.1:18). These things are proof of God’s existence through the impossibility of the contrary.”
You wrote:
“In other words, your god does not exist. I know because I have had no revelation at all. Let alone one that some incoherent being exists and has revealed so to me. Since you have no objective anything, you rather make claims about this "God" and then expect us to take a burden of proof that belongs to you? No thanks.”
You have had direct revelation but you choose to supress the knowledge of that revelation in unrighteousness. How do I know you have had direct revelation? Because you do things which can only be possible if God exists. You attempt to reason, surely you have a moral standard, you believe in science etc. these things are only possible in the Christian worldview and by you engaging in this areas of human experience you show that in your heart of hearts you know God but you openly defy Him, you rely upon His existence in order to live in this world but then you refuse to acknowledge the foundation upon which you stand. You are like the man who argues against the existence of air all the while relying upon the existence of air in order to make his argument.

June 06, 2014 7:20 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@dave mcphillips

"You are like the man who argues against the existence of air all the while relying upon the existence of air in order to make his argument."

project much friend? Actually you are the one trying to pull up the very foundation you require to conceptualize like a man trying to life the chair he is sitting in. You advocate and argue for a world view that explicitly presumes a metaphysically subjective relationship between the subject and object of consciousness all the while oblivious to the fact that to argue presumes and requires the exact opposite, a objective relationship. Quit comical indeed. However by all means keep providing the sport, I love this.

June 07, 2014 11:12 AM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

dave mcphillips,

A contradiction goes more like this:
1. if a person has no conscious activity that person is dead and no longer exists
2. Existence exists independent of conscious activity


That's not a contradiction, that's an equivocation fallacy built upon the reasoning skills of a toddler.

In 1, you're using existence to mean "to be alive," and "conscious activity" to mean that when a person is alive, the person has conscious activity. In 2, you are expression the primacy of existence metaphysics, which shows the proper relationship between consciousness and its objects. The first means that someone is dead. the second that wishing does not make it so. Had you paid attention, you would not have constructed this fallacy.

That leads to my realization that you're not here to learn. You're here to try your rhetorical skills. In the example, you composed those sentences together in order to make it appear as if there's a problem with Objectivism's primacy of existence, but the problem is all in your unwillingness to understand the meaning of the sentences, rather than on Objectivism being at fault. Change those two sentences for the equivalents:

1. A person is dead, therefore the person can't be conscious.
2. Wishing doesn't make it so

See? No contradictions. Yet, you prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that you're here for rhetoric, not for reason.

I state the obvious fact that morality is contingent upon the existence of beings whose survival depended on having a code of values to guide their choices and actions. Rather than getting the point, you started arguing about whether some rules always apply to those very beings or not, rather than understand that a rock has no need to survive in the first place. therefore morality is not universal, and it is not absolute. It does not apply to rocks, or trees, or anything that does not have choices and actions, or might not even have a need to survive. Again. Mere rhetorical strategy on your part. No willingness to understand.

It is contradictory to state that something is absolute if you then say that in order for that to be absolute it has to be attached to something else that is absolute. If it's absolute it needs no attachments. Needing attachments, standards, etc, is the very definition of relative. So, yes, Christianity's claims are contradictory.

Finally, I know for a fact that you already know that your god is false. A mere fabrication. If you believed this god to be real, then you would have no need to practice rhetorical skills. You would have no need to deform the primacy of existence and use it to mean something that it does not mean in order to fabricate a "contradiction." I don;t need to be able to read your mind. Your attitude in defending your faith shows it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I would answer more of your rhetorical game. But it's already quite obvious that's all you''re going to offer (rhetorical games). You'll refuse to reason what's explained to you. I am sure that with these few examples, plus all the patient explanations already provided by Dawson, other readers can find the purposeful faults in your understanding themselves.

June 08, 2014 8:15 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Good Comment Photosynthesis. Thanks.

June 09, 2014 3:17 AM  

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