Sunday, October 12, 2014

Petersen’s Failed Attempts to Refute Leonard Peikoff: Objection 1

This is the second entry in my series examining attempts by “Clarkian presuppositionalist” Jason Petersen to refute a series of statements by Objectivist philosopher Dr. Leonard Peikoff on the topic of the existence of a god.

The first entry in this series can be found here.

Dr. Peikoff’s statements in question can be found here.

Jason Petersen’s response to Peikoff can be found here.

In the present entry, I will examine Petersen’s interaction with Peikoff’s first objection to theism, which I will quote below.
Peikoff’s first objection is the following:
“For instance, God is infinite. Nothing can be infinite, according to the Law of Identity. Everything is what it is, and nothing else. It is limited in its qualities and in its quantity: it is this much, and no more. “Infinite” as applied to quantity does not mean “very large”: it means “larger than any specific quantity.” That means: no specific quantity—i.e., a quantity without identity. This is prohibited by the Law of Identity.”
Petersen responds with the following:
Answer: Contrary to Peikoff’s assertion, the law of identity says absolutely nothing concerning whether or not anything can be infinite. All the Law of Identity says is that things are what they are.
Okay, let’s take a look at what’s going on up to this point.

First, notice that, in his statement, Peikoff is careful to clarify what he means by ‘infinite’. In the context of Peikoff’s point, ‘infinite’ means “larger than any specific quantity.” Petersen does not raise any objection to this understanding of ‘infinite’. Thus it seems safe to assume that Petersen agrees with Peikoff’s conception of ‘infinite’, for he had the opportunity to challenge it when he was composing his response to Peikoff, and he did not raise any objections to Peikoff’s definition of ‘infinite’. We will see below that this is significant.

Second, what is Petersen’s argument for his claim that “the law of identity says absolutely nothing concerning whether or not anything can be infinite”? He asserts (without any argument) that “all” that is denoted by the law of identity “is that things are what they are.” But is that truly “all” that the law of identity states?

Quoting from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, we find the Objectivist conception of identity which at the very least Peikoff has in mind:
To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of non-existence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes. Centuries ago, the man who was—no matter what his errors—the greatest of your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself.
Since, then, “to exist is to be something,” then an existent is limited to what it is. Thus, for any existent, if it exists, it must be something having “a specific nature made of specific attributes.” Thus, the law of identity is the formal recognition that if something exists, it must be something specific, and its attributes exist in specific quantities. Whether it is a pebble by a pond, a pocket watch, as postage stamp, the Empire State Building, a Harry Potter novel, etc., a thing is itself, a thing is specific.

Now contrast this with Peikoff’s conception of ‘infinite’ which he gives in the quoted transcription from his lecture series (and which Petersen himself does not contest):
“Infinite” as applied to quantity does not mean “very large”: it means “larger than any specific quantity.” That means: no specific quantity—i.e., a quantity without identity.
Thus the law of identity states that to exist is to be something specific, and the notion of ‘infinite’ means “larger than any specific quantity.” To call an existent “infinite”, then, would mean to say that it is “larger than any specific quantity.” As Peikoff puts it, “This is prohibited by the Law of Identity.” Consequently, to call an existent “infinite” would be a contradiction of the law of identity; it would, in essence, be saying that the thing in question is larger than itself in some way. Such a claim would be absurd.

Moving on, Petersen interprets the law of identity to mean that “if God is omnipotent, then he is omnipotent. If God is God, then he is God.” Indeed, if “God” is merely imaginary, then “God” is merely imaginary. What’s unfortunately for Christianity is that there is no alternative but our imaginations as the means of “knowing” the Christian god. Petersen can tell me that his god is omnipotent, that it is infinite, that it is all-good, that it is all-knowing, that it is holy, just, loving, etc. But I have no alternative but to imagine such a god. I cannot acquire awareness of such a thing as Christians describe by looking outward at the world – meaning there is no objective evidence that the theist can point to in order to support his god-belief assertions, and we will find Petersen himself essentially confirming this.

What’s clear up to this point, however, is that Petersen is failing quite expressly to vindicate the assumption that an existent can be infinite. Running headlong on his sorely mistaken understanding, Petersen seeks to turn the tables on Peikoff in order to charge him (Peikoff) with an internal inconsistency.

Petersen writes:
Ironically, Objectivism holds that the universe is eternal. Thus, this view of the law of identity would entail the time that he universe has existed is infinite. Does this mean that there is no passage of time?
It is true that Objectivism holds that the universe is eternal. Petersen himself gives a link to Peikoff’s statements on this matter (from the same lecture series), but he does not seem to have understood what Peikoff explains there very well either. Among Peikoff’s statements about the universe being eternal, we find the following:
The universe is the total of that which exists—not merely the earth or the stars or the galaxies, but everything. Obviously then there can be no such thing as the “cause” of the universe…
So Peikoff makes crystal clear what he means by ‘universe’: it is “the total of that which exists” – i.e., all existence treated as a sum totality. Going by what this means, then, it should be clear that there could be no such thing as something outside the universe; the notion “outside the universe” could not denote anything that exists, for if something exists, it is necessarily part of the universe given this conception of what the concept ‘universe’ means. It’s hard to see how this could be misunderstood, but it happens. Also, we must keep in mind what Peikoff means by ‘time’. Again from the same lecture series, Peikoff makes this clear as well:
Time is a measurement of motion; as such, it is a type of relationship. Time applies only within the universe, when you define a standard—such as the motion of the earth around the sun. If you take that as a unit, you can say: “This person has a certain relationship to that motion; he has existed for three revolutions; he is three years old.” But when you get to the universe as a whole, obviously no standard is applicable. You cannot get outside the universe. The universe is eternal in the literal sense: non-temporal, out of time.
If time, then, is a type of measurement, as Peikoff holds, then the concept of time is essentially epistemological in nature: it denotes a standard of measurement given the relationship of specific existents (“such as the motion of the earth around the sun”). Consequently, the concept ‘time’ necessarily presupposes existence, which is to say: existence is a metaphysical precondition for time. Since time is the measurement of motion, there must be things that exist and that can be in motion in order for temporal measurement to be possible. One would not be able to speak of earth years, for example, if there were no earth orbiting the sun; without such a relation, the notion of a year would have no objective standard of reference. Similarly, one would not be able to speak of time if nothing at all existed – indeed, if nothing at all existed, there’d be no such thing as someone who could speak in the first place. Thus, while existence (i.e., the universe) can exist outside of time, time cannot exist outside of existence (i.e., the universe).

Moreover, given the nature of the meanings which Peikoff has clarified, it would be nonsensical to say that time exists “outside” the universe. And since the existence of the universe is preconditional to time, it could only be proper to agree that “the universe is eternal in the literal sense: non-temporal, out of time.”

It does not follow from any of the points Peikoff has affirmed that “this view of the law of identity would entail the time that he [sic] universe has existed is infinite.” Since time is a form of measurement, it has the potential to be extended indefinitely, like the number series, without implying that an “actual infinite” exists. So Petersen is proffering a non sequitur here.

We must keep in mind the fact that time is measured between two points, one prior to the other: e.g., between the time I was born and today (which I can measure in terms of years), or between the time I woke up this morning and the time I took a shower (which can be measured in terms of minutes). We can even measure the time between today and the days of ancient Greece (which we can measure in terms of (millennia). Even larger units of time can be used to measure between greater quantities of time. But if we take away one of those points, then we are no longer measuring anything, so the concept of time no longer applies. So again, Petersen’s attempt to find an internal inconsistency on Peikoff’s part (and consequently within Objectivism proper) fails.

Also, it should be noted that the idea of an eternal universe in no way implies the existence of an actual infinite. The concepts ‘eternal’ and ‘infinite’ do not mean the same thing. Peikoff makes it clear that he does not mean that the universe is infinite:
Is the universe then unlimited in size? No. Everything which exists is finite, including the universe. What then, you ask, is outside the universe, if it is finite? This question is invalid. The phrase “outside the universe” has no referent. The universe is everything. “Outside the universe” stands for “that which is where everything isn’t.” There is no such place. There isn’t even nothing “out there”: there is no “out there.”
Thus there is no conflict between affirming the eternality of the universe (i.e., existence exists “outside of time”) and affirming the law of identity as Objectivism informs it. Since time is a form of measurement, it is like the number series – possessing the potential to extend it indefinitely without implying the existence of an “actual infinite.” Moreover, since (a) the concept of time presupposes existence (i.e., the universe), and (b) time is measured between two points, one prior to the other, then errors of the sort that Petersen is peddling in his response to Peikoff’s statements are essentially the result of their author’s failure to integrate rather basic principles that should not be difficult even for fourth-graders to grasp.

Petersen quotes Peikoff:
To grasp the axiom that existence exists, means to grasp the fact that nature, i.e., the universe as a whole, cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence.
In response, Petersen replies:
This is an exercise of special pleading by objectivists. They wish to say that God cannot be infinite, yet they wish to assert that the universe has never been created and will never be annihilated. This entails an infinite passage of time.
On the contrary, since existence (i.e., the universe) is the metaphysical precondition of time, the concept of time has no meaning outside the context of the universe. The universe exists, and time can be measured only within it. So there is no instance of special pleading here, either on Peikoff’s part, or on the part of “objectivists.” There’s just Petersen’s dismal failure to integrate.

Also - and this is important, the notion of a “passage of time” does not denote an entity, which is what the law of identity is primarily concerned with. Objectivism does not reject the notion that a series can be extended indefinitely (such as the number series), so long as it is understood that such a notion does not imply the existence of an ‘actual infinite’ (which it doesn’t). A “passage of time” could only have meaning in the context of measuring, which is what time does: it measures distance between two points given an objective standard, e.g., a year ago today until today constituting a full revolution of the earth around the sun. So even if Petersen wants to focus on the notion of a “passage of time,” which Petersen himself does not define, he’s already missing crucially important points about the meaning of the law of identity as Peikoff is applying it (since the notion of a “God” is supposed to denote an entity, not a potential like the ability to continue extending a series indefinitely).

A further difficulty for Petersen is in how he measures temporal units. For however he measures these, they would have to imply an actual infinite once they’re added together in order to have any hope of bringing a sustainable objection against Peikoff’s position. But this is akin to the problem of counting ‘events’. Summing up the number of events that happen in a given time period, such as today (October 12, 2014), runs into the “problem” (for Petersen, anyway) that whatever sum is reached, we will have a finite quantity. So if N- number of events happened today and M- number of events happened the day before, and L- number of events happened the day before, and so on, in each case we have a finite number (indeed, the notion of a ‘finite number’ is a redundancy). If we add two finite numbers, we have yet another finite number as their sum. If we add 40 billion finite numbers, we still have a finite sum. At best, all that Petersen can do is point to the potential that we can continue adding finite sums together, in which case we can happily say: Congratulations! You’re (hopefully) catching on!

Petersen goes on:
If Peikoff were consistent with his own philosophy of objectivism, he would have to conclude that the universe shouldn’t be eternal, for it would entail an that [sic] the universe is eternal, and thus, the passage of time is infinite.
But as should be unmistakably clear by now, Petersen is entirely wrong here. There is no contradiction between (a) affirming that the universe is eternal and (b) holding that no actual infinite exists. Since time is a form a measurement, what it measures exists independent of temporal measuring, and since time can only be measured between two points, the existence of the universe (i.e., the sum totality of all that exists) is the precondition of time and thus exists independently of time. This can only mean: the universe exists outside of time - i.e., it is eternal. At best one could say that a “passage of time” is potentially infinite, just as the number series is potentially infinite (and in the same sense). This in no way affirms the existence of an actual infinite. The only rational conclusion here is that there is no consistency internal to Objectivism on the matter under dispute.

So Peikoff is entirely consistent with his own worldview’s definitions and positions in affirming the eternality of the universe. Only by smuggling in non-Objectivist notions and inserting them into Peikoff’s mouth can Petersen and other detractors of rational philosophy attempt to find some problem here, but in doing so they would no longer be executing an internal critique. It simply becomes more ignorance-laded misrepresentation at that point, and that is essentially all that Petersen has given us throughout his paper.

But Petersen doesn’t want to let go. He continues:
Objectivists accept that there is a passage of time, but according to Peikoff’s view of infinity, there can be no passage of time because according to his metaphysic, the passage of time is infinite.
Peikoff nowhere affirms the view that “the passage of time is infinite.” I challenge Petersen to show where Peikoff endorses such a statement.

But what would this even mean? Clearly Petersen has imported a non-Objectivist conception of time, treating time as though it were an entity of sorts (rather than a form of measurement requiring an objective standard), in order to try to find some internal inconsistency among Peikoff’s affirmations. But Petersen has not consulted Peikoff’s statements about what time is according to Objectivism. If he had, perhaps he might have been able to catch his own errors before presenting them to the world (though I’m coming to doubt that he has such ability). That Objectivism clashes with other worldviews which do not share its definitions, is conceded. But so what? We already know this. This does not automatically make Objectivism wrong. Moreover, by importing non-Objectivist notions into his critique, Petersen has abandoned his own task of trying to produce an internal critique of Objectivism. Petersen’s entire case against Peikoff (not to mention Objectivism proper) is falling to pieces here.

And yes, Objectivists do in fact “accept that there is a passage of time” in the sense that they agree that activity can be measured in reference to an objective standard – such as the earth’s motion around the sun. But this in no way implies the existence of an actual infinite. If Petersen thinks he’s secured such an implication, he is sorely mistaken.

Petersen continues:
Since the passage of time is infinite, it cannot, according to Peikoff, have any specific quanity. [sic]
Where does Petersen establish that “the passage of time is infinite”? He doesn’t. Where does he show that the view that “the passage of time is infinite” is implicit in what Objectivism teaches? He doesn’t. But this is central not only to his criticism of Peikoff’s statements, but also to his (supposed) internal critique of Objectivism proper. What would it even mean to say that “the passage of time is infinite”? Petersen does not even explain this. He’s simply groping for any strands which he can use to manufacture a case against Objectivism, probably because he senses it to be a threat to his religious faith. But as we have seen, he can only do this by importing non-Objectivist notions, notions which are precluded by definitions and positions which Objectivism explicitly affirms and defends.

Petersen continues:
The proper implication for Peikoff’s argument for God [sic] is that there is no passage of time.
For one, Peikoff is not presenting an “argument for God.” Petersen needs either to reconsider what his opponents are affirming, or he needs to perfect his editing skills.

Also, Peikoff’s objections to the notion of a god in no way imply that “there is no passage of time” if by “passage of time” one means activity which can be measured against a specific standard, such as the motion of the earth around the sun. (If Petersen means something else here, he needs to spell it out, but so far he hasn’t. Why?) Objectivism affirms that entities both exist and act. These are the metaphysical preconditions of time. Epistemologically, one needs both a standard for temporal measurement (e.g., the earth moving around the sun) and two points that can be measured against that standard (e.g., my daughter was born six and a half revolutions of the earth around the sun – from the date of her birth to today). All these points fly right over Petersen’s head.

Petersen concludes:
Therefore, his argument against God contradicts his own objectivist metaphysic. From this contradiction, a proper implication can be drawn that the idea of an eternal universe is nonsensical. The law of identiy [sic], according to Peikoff’s own logic, actually contradicts objectivist metaphysics.
All that we have really seen in Petersen’s interaction with Peikoff’s statements, is that Petersen is demonstrably under-prepared to launch a tenable refutation of Objectivism. He shows time and again that he is unfamiliar with the elements involved in the relevant context of the points he is critiquing, that he cannot properly integrate the points which he himself cites in the development of his would-be critique, and that he cannot get his critique to float without importing non-Objectivist notions to shore up his deficient understanding of what Objectivism actually teaches on the relevant topics.

Petersen threw in some last-minute confusion on the matter:
An objectivist such as Peikoff might respond by saying that time is an abstraction, but the fatal flaw in this response is that it doesn’t recognize that with the passage of time, the universe expands. Thus, the size of the universe is increasing, the age of the universe is increasing, their [sic] is no finite quantity to the universe because it is expanding in size and in age. By Peikoff’s logic, the universe cannot exist because it is of no specific quantity. Rather, the universe is in constant change for better or for worse. Perhaps according to Peikoff’s logic, existence does not exist.
In response, we can cite the following points:

1. Since time is a form of measurement, it is essentially epistemological rather than metaphysical;

2. What time measures – namely motion, activity, action – is metaphysical and must exist in order to be measurable;

3. Existence, i.e., the universe as a whole, then, is metaphysically preconditional to time;

4. Therefore, that the universe is literally eternal – i.e., outside of time – is the only position logically compatible with the facts;

5. To say that “size of the universe is increasing” because the universe is expanding, is at best misleading. The quantity of what exists is not what’s expanding; it is the distribution of what exists that is expanding: things are moving away from each other. This does not mean that new material is being added to the universe;

6. To say that the age of the universe is increasing because its inflation (“expansion”) is increasing, is also misleading at best. What is increasing in age is not the universe as a whole, but its expansion. These are two different things that Petersen has failed to distinguish and has conflated for apologetic purposes;

7. No scientific discovery that I am aware of, either about the inflationary expansion of the universe or its rate, contradicts the essence of what Objectivism teaches. Even in the case of the so-called “big bang,” if its proponents are saying that the entire contents of the universe were compressed into some tiny particle the size of a proton and spontaneously exploded into what we find today, then they’re still starting with existence and thus tacitly affirming the eternality of the universe; they would not be saying “something from nothing” in such a case. What has changed is only the arrangement of the universe’s contents – from being compressed into tiny particle to the continually inflating distribution of stars, planets, and galaxies that we see today in the night sky.

For some fascinating information on these matters from an Objectivist perspective, I highly recommend David Harriman’s two interviews on Gnostic Media Research & Publishing, which can be found here:
It really boils down to two alternatives: do we begin with existence, or with non-existence? Objectivism begins with the fact that existence exists. It does so explicitly and unwaveringly. Thus, Objectivism does not need to worry itself with nonsensical questions such as “How did existence come into being?” or “Why is there something rather than nothing?” or “What is the age of existence?” The default assumption to such questions is the notion of nothing - i.e., total non-existence – as one’s ultimate starting point. But existence exists. So why start with nothing? Why start with non-existence? Why start by wiping out reality and then trying to figure out how reality came into being? Also, how would one prove that “at some time” in “the past” there was no existence? I don’t think such an assumption is provable. But it is crucial to the Christian apologetic agenda to treat such questions as though they had some importance to philosophy (for we see variations of them again and again proffered by Christian apologists), even though such an agenda cannot consistently hold to the presuppositions underlying such questions. For indeed, Christianity itself does not want to begin with nothing, but rather with the existence of a specific “infinite” something – namely a something which can only be imagined, never perceived, measured or objectively detected in any way.

All of this points to a fundamental distinction between my worldview and Petersen’s: Objectivism begins with what exists, with what is real, while Christianity starts with what is imaginary. The two could not be more at odds with each other.

Petersen raised three more objections against Peikoff’s comments about the existence of a god. I will review each in separate upcoming entries on my blog.

by Dawson Bethrick

Labels: , , , ,

13 Comments:

Blogger freddies_dead said...

Holy shit but he's a walking talking example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

He assumes his knowledge of Objectivism is far greater than it actually is, leading him to make many elementary mistakes by attacking Objectivism on claims it simply does not make.

It would be nice if, for once, an apologist could actually learn what Objectivism says instead of simply assuming he knows what it says.

I won't be holding my breath.

October 13, 2014 8:15 AM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

A comment if I may:

«All of this points to a fundamental distinction between my worldview and Petersen’s: Objectivism begins with what exists, with what is real, while Christianity starts with what is imaginary. The two could not be more at odds with each other.»

I would say that "Christianity pretends that it can start with what is imaginary." After all, nobody can start there. In order to pretend that they can start with the imaginary, they need to begin with what exists. No matter how loudly they might want to deny it, Christianity starts in abject self-refuting mode.

Of course, in a different sense, "Christianity" does start with the imaginary, since it would not exist would its followers understand that their real stating point is what exists.

Anyway we twist it, Christianity is self-refuting nonsense.

October 13, 2014 2:18 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

I read Jason Petersen's interaction with the preamble to this series, and I have to say that it's spectacular how arrogantly mistaken he is. He made so many of the most basic mistakes that it's hard to try and pinpoint but one without being tempted to examine it in the many angles in which it is mistaken. Petersen should really take his own advice and go slowly and carefully, instead of trying to quickly refute something he does not understand at all. The worst of it is that he does not understand basic logic. He thinks he does, but, as freddies_dead pointed out, he's a clear case of The Dunning–Kruger effect.

Just one example of amazing stupidity (from the banner):

«One does not simply presuppose existence»

Really? How were you able to write anything at all Jason?

October 13, 2014 3:03 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Jason Petersen starts his pretentious "answer" to Dawson's preamble thusly:

«When I responded to Peikoff’s arguments, I emailed Peikoff’s organization to inform him of my response to his arguments that he raised in his lecture. I also asked them to reply if they had any feedback on my critique.»

Since all organization have the obligation to respond to just about any idiot like Jason Petersen, then Jason is justified to think that e-mailing Peikoff's organization and getting no answer is a sign that his "critique" must be devastating.

Didn't this guy say that: «you should be careful rather than overly presumptuous»?

Jason continued:

«One would hope that if someone gives a lecture, that the arguments they give would be developed enough for the lecturer to have confidence that his presentation would be able stand on its own merit. Thus, it is fair to respond to the summary of Peikoff’s critiques.»

I would guess that when Jason wrote the following:

«When one argues about any topic and claims to have knowledge of a proposition, that person must be able to give an answer that is consistent with their own epistemology.»

He did not actually meant it. In this instance Jason pretends that Peikoff should have given his objections to the existence of "God" using the Christian "epistemology," if there's such a thing, instead of Peikoff's own. What am I missing here? Ah, of course, that Jason can change his stance one moment to the next if his rhetoric so requires.

Not surprising given that presuppositionalism is a commitment to irrationality and subjectivism. Presuppositionalism is pure and unadulterated rhetorical bullshit, as Jason Petersen is happy to demonstrate time and again.

October 13, 2014 4:25 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Photo,

You wrote: “I would say that "Christianity pretends that it can start with what is imaginary."

I would say this about the individual believer rather than Christianity proper. The believer obviously cannot truly start with things he imagines (so he’s immediately at odds with the worldview he espouses); he would not have any content to begin with if he did not start by looking outward at the world. Besides, if the teachings of Christianity were available to the human mind by looking inward in the first place, why would there be any need to print bibles?

Quoting Petersen: «One does not simply presuppose existence»

You asked: “Really? How were you able to write anything at all Jason?”

Perhaps he learned it in a dream, just as several bible characters are portrayed to have done.

When Petersen posted a comment announcing that he replied to my Preamble, I admit that I was quite disinclined to check it out. After reviewing the quotes you gave from his latest blog entry, I’m even less inclined to examine it. It’s just more of the same. Petersen apparently does not know when he’s been corrected.

This is what’s so shameful: Petersen portrays himself before his audiences as though he were some kind of authority on epistemological matters. Unfortunately, he displays a most superficial understanding of even rudimentary epistemological issues, essentially just regurgitating the same errors his apologetic predecessors made with self-effacing zeal. He strikes me as pretty much unteachable, and this mostly because of his attitude.

We will see in the post that I will publish this evening, that Petersen is basically clueless on matters of epistemology. Objectivism lays out a developed epistemology, one of Rand’s shining achievements, but Petersen seems bafflingly oblivious to this fact, and of course he nowhere interacts with Objectivist epistemology. Most of his pronouncements on Objectivist epistemology only show that he has little if any familiarity with it. Sadly, given his divide and conquer mentality, he is only interested in destroying, not understanding, and given this inexcusable predilection he is quite susceptible of making the error of trying to refute something before he comes close to understanding it.

When he states “When one argues about any topic and claims to have knowledge of a proposition, that person must be able to give an answer that is consistent with their own epistemology,” my first thought is: Where does Jesus do this? Where does Jesus lay out an epistemology? Where does Jesus explain what concepts are, how the mind forms them, how they relate to what we perceive, how they include the units they include, how they can be integrated with other concepts, how they are to be properly defined? We don’t find any of this in the bible. There is no epistemology in the bible. Christian believers themselves have to look outside the bible to find even a wisp of understanding on epistemological matters.

We’ve seen all before. He fails to distinguish himself from a whole army of self-appointed apostles for the imaginary. (I think that was how Ydemoc put it once.)

Regards,
Dawson

October 13, 2014 6:06 PM  
Blogger l_johan_k said...

Great, Mr Bethrick!
Thank you!

October 14, 2014 2:12 AM  
Blogger fishbone said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 14, 2014 7:21 AM  
Blogger fishbone said...

Sorry Bahnsen, wanted to edit out a couple things. Here goes again.

Jason's "response" is hilarious, riddled with gems such as:

"The notion that all knowledge must come from the senses is demonstrably false. Readers will likely be able to read this text even though the letters are out of order, “I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg.”

The eyes read the letters and the brain interprets them. Still material processes. The brain is part of a sensory system.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_system
There's more but having ran into so many I finally decided to pick one and post it.

As it has been said here, his attitude is absolutely the issue, and he sees every contradictory thought as an opportunity to pounce and refute it. He greatly overestimates his own knowledge and ability and that is why he hastens to respond which leads to so much blunder and superficial thinking.
I find that he is an example of the worst interlocutors, the kind that squarely falls into the category of "can never be wrong". With him, it's never an actual dialogue. It's just him telling you how wrong you are.

October 14, 2014 7:37 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Fishbone apparently quoted Jason Petersen:

<< The notion that all knowledge must come from the senses is demonstrably false. Readers will likely be able to read this text even though the letters are out of order, “I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg.” >>

So, according to Petersen, the mind cannot identify and integrate the material provided by the senses, because the example he gives requires the mind to identify and integrate what it perceives as out of order?

This is just bald-faced argument from stolen concepts. Seriously, it’s as blatant as it gets.

Good grief! Petersen is more out of his element than I had originally suspected!

Regards,
Dawson

October 14, 2014 7:37 AM  
Blogger fishbone said...

By the way
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typoglycemia

Typoglycemia is a sort of Internet meme that's only partially true at best. The wiki article has a good example of when the brain can't do it as easily as in the example Jason conveniently used.

October 14, 2014 7:40 AM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

«Good grief! Petersen is more out of his element than I had originally suspected!»

Which leads me to suspect that your own words will not be part of your diet any time soon.

:D

October 14, 2014 2:42 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

«The notion that all knowledge must come from the senses is demonstrably false. Readers will likely be able to read this text even though the letters are out of order, “I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg.»

Yeah, I read that [at Jason's blog] and I couldn't believe the level of self-refuting stupidity. Not just wrong, incredibly, indescribably, stupid. All of it courtesy of an apologist so full of shit, which here means "so full of himself," that he hastens to "refute" without giving his stupidity a second thought.

Out of his element? Dawson, you're way too kind.

October 14, 2014 2:49 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Petersen stumbled:

// This is an exercise of special pleading by objectivists. They wish to say that God cannot be infinite, yet they wish to assert that the universe has never been created and will never be annihilated. This entails an infinite passage of time. //

The late Dr Victor Stenger noted the fallacy employed by many religious apologists including Petersen in the present quote.

// In cosmology, Philoponus

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Philoponus )

rejected the notion of an eternal universe, obviously in conflict with Christian teaching, in a work called On the Eternity of the World against Aristotle. One of his arguments was that a temporally infinite universe is impossible because it implies an infinite chain of causes is needed to reach the present. That is, if the universe is eternal, it would never have reached the present. But Philoponus was assuming that an eternal universe still had a beginning, one that occurred an infinite time ago. This argument continues to be used by modern-day theologians, as we will see in a later chapter . To put things simply for now, it is wrong. The universe need not have had a beginning. The time from the present to any moment in the past no matter how distant— last year, a thousand years ago, ten billion years ago— is still finite. //

Stenger, Victor J. (2014-09-09). God and the Multiverse: Humanity's Expanding View of the Cosmos (Kindle Locations 779-785). Prometheus Books. Kindle Edition.

Petersen's charge of special pleading is rooted in his fallacy of arbitrarily assuming his creationism fantasy is somehow factual. To say existence is past eternal doesn't implicitly mean there was a creation event an actual infinite time ago, but rather that there was no beginning.

October 20, 2014 10:34 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home