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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Problem of Evil Answered

Introduction

One of the oldest, and still most popular, arguments against the Christian God is the so-called problem of evil. Dr. Walter Kaufmann, who tragically lost family members in the Holocaust, refers to the problem of evil as his strongest argument against Christianity, a "complete refutation of popular theism". H. J. McCloskey, in a 1960 Philosophical Quarterly article, wrote that "Evil is a problem, for the theist, in that a contradiction is involved in the fact of evil on the one hand and belief in the omnipotence and omniscience of God on the other."

Perhaps the original problem of evil argument was attributed Epicurus by Lactantius (See Lactantius - A Treatise on the Anger of God; Chap. XIII. - Of the Advantage and Use of the World and of the Seasons; AD 260-330). Although it is debatable if Lactantius chose the correct philosopher, it is clear that the "problem of evil" argument existed very early in Christendom. The Apostle Paul, in some rhetorical measure, dealt with the problem of evil in regards to the doctrine of unconditional election (Romans 9:14 - See Jay Adams' answer below).

The problem of evil is presented as a logical problem in regards to an omnipotent and omnibenevolent Deity. With a few variations, the arguments is stated as such:

P1: If God were omnipotent, He would be able to prevent all evil.
P2: If God were omnibenevolent, He would want to prevent all evil.
P3: Evil exists.
Conclusion: There is no omnipotent, omnibenevolent God.


The Atheist's Problem of Evil

While the problem is presented as an obstacle to Christianity, it must be pointed out that it presents two huge (and I would say, insurmountable) challenges to atheism. The first is the premise P3: Evil exists. The entire argument is based on the idea the evil is an objective reality. However, such a reality cannot be accounted for in an atheistic worldview. A judgment of "evil exists" requires an absolute moral standard, an objective "right and wrong" that goes well beyond simply subjectivism and "conventional wisdom". But how can a moral absolute come into existence in a materialistic universe? In an atheistic world, complete with its "survival of he fittest" ontology, there may be things that are painful, tragic, and grate against our sensibilities. However, such a worldview logically leads to genetic determinism, thus no grounds for proclaiming that evil exists. Yet, aside from Stoics who deny the existence of evil, every man has an innate and inescapable knowledge of evil, because they "by nature do what the law requires" (Romans 2:14), proving their knowledge of the one true God. And even if variable "secular" ethical theories could provide an objective moral standard, there is no grounds for demanding any life form to subject themselves to that standard. Materialism cannot produce morality, and "is" cannot justify "ought". C.S. Lewis explains this problem by looking back on his days as an atheist:

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?... Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too--for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies." (C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity - Touchstone: New York, 1980 p.45-46)

The second obstacle is that the problem of evil argument presupposes, not just a god, but the one and True Christian God. To suppose any other deity would eliminate evil as being a problem. From a standpoint of "general theism" (whatever form it may take), there are many logical reasons why evil may exist. There could be an evil god, who loves to do evil things. There could be an irrational god, who cannot tell the difference between good and evil. There could be a weak god, who is unable to prevent evil.

So we must concluded that, if the problem of evil is a valid problem, then atheism is refuted, and the Christian God is presupposed a priori. Nonetheless, the Christian is commanded by His Lord to answer the problem (1 Peter 3:15), though the problem itself is proof of the unbeliever's suppressed knowledge of God (Romans 1:18).


Past Answers Attempted

There have been many attempts throughout history to answer the logical problem of evil, yet without examining the truth of it's premises. Irenaeus suggested that evil is necessary and useful for men to seek God. Variations consider that evil is necessary for free will to exist (Plantinga). Justin Martyr attributed evil to angels who "transgressed their appointment", but does not explain how this idea is compatible with God's omnipotence. Dionysius echoed the Stoic view that evil does not exist. Augustine suggested that evil was simply an absence of good, but unwittingly denies the omnipresence of God in the process. Various "Best Possible World" Theories have abounded. C.S. Lewis holds to a combination of the "best possible world" and "free will" theories. He suggests that "Perhaps this is not the 'best of all possible' universes, but the only possible one" (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 26). In Lewis's view, evil is a result of a "fixed nature of matter" (pp. 23-25), and is necessary for free will to exist. He writes, "We can, perhaps, conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by His creatures at every moment,...But such a world would be one in which all wrong actions would be impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void." (p. 24)

However, The Christian Doctrine of a perfect heaven is a death blow to "free will", necessary evil, or "best possible worlds" arguments. No Christian truly believes that this is the best possible world, for we all look for a better world yet to come, where evil will finally be defeated, and man's "will" shall truly be free of it's sinful nature.

Other theories tend to compromise God's attributes, making Him less than God. Monism holds that God is above good and evil, thus denying God's omnibenevolence. Dualism denies God's sovereignty, teaching that God produces only good, but a separate power (usually Satan) produces evil. Process Theology ("open" theism) flatly denies the omnipotence of God. The unthinkable result is that, in order to satisfy a weak intellect concerning the problem of evil, these poor deluded souls have no rational hope that evil won't eventually triumph in the universe. Those who hold that evil is "necessary" deny the solitariness of God, who does not need "anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." (Acts 7:24-25). Whatever answer we come up with for the problem of evil, we cannot let that answer make God to be anything less than God.


The Problem of Evil Answered

Lactantius' answer to Epicurus' alleged statement over 1700 years ago was very close to the correct answer.

"For God is able to do whatever He wishes, and there is no weakness or envy in God. He is able, therefore, to take away evils; but He does not wish to do so, and yet He is not on that account envious. For on this account He does not take them away, because He at the same time gives wisdom, as I have shown; and there is more of goodness and pleasure in wisdom than of annoyance in evils. For wisdom causes us even to know God, and by that knowledge to attain to immortality, which is the chief good. Therefore, unless we first know evil, we shall be unable to know good." (Lactantius - A Treatise on the Anger of God; Chap. XIII. - Of the Advantage and Use of the World and of the Seasons.)

Thomas Aquinas expounded this line of thought even further, holding that God is the primary cause of evil (as penalty), but not the secondary cause (as fault) (See Summa Theologica: Question XLVIII - The Distinction of Things in Particular.) Jay Adams was short to the biblical point, Evil exists for God to show his wrath on evildoers and "in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory" (Romans 9:23). While this is true, (as well as the broad argument that everything, including evil, exists for the glory of God), it doesn't provide a direct answer to the logical problem presented. Using a combination of the arguments above, let us re-examine the premises presented in the problem of evil.

P1: If God were omnipotent, He would be able to prevent all evil.
P2: If God were omnibenevolent, He would want to prevent all evil.
P3: Evil exists.
Conclusion: There is no omnipotent, omnibenevolent God.

Premise 1 is sound, God is clearly omnipotent and "he does all that he pleases." (Psalms 115:3). "...he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?" (Daniel 4:35). These passages can be considered God's job description.

As we saw earlier, Premise 3 poses a problem for atheists, thus is a good starting point for discussion with one who uses this argument. But from the Christian perspective, it is quite obvious that evil does exist. Unbelievers are aware of evil, though they have issues defining it or accounting for it.

The real issue is Premise 2. Does an omnibenevolent God necessarily want to prevent all evil? How does this premise match the God of Scripture?

"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7 KJV)

Therefore Premise 2 is false. The Bible teaches that the omnibenevolent God does not want to prevent evil, but actually creates evil and uses it for His own ends. It will come as no surprise that many Christians are uncomfortable with this rendering, thus many translations substitute "calamity" in place of "evil", as though it really makes any difference (See also Amos 3:6). But why would a omnipotent, omnibenevolent God create evil? Based on the clear teachings of Scripture concerning God's omnipotence and His omnibenevolence, we may propose the following correction to Premise 2:

P2: If God were omnibenevolent, He would have a good purpose behind the evil He creates.

With this corrected premise, the problem of evil ceases to be a problem. The premise is biblical, and solves the logical problem with evil in God's universe. We may conclude that evil exists, therefore there is an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God who uses that evil for his own good purposes. We have also established that, without God, there can be no evil, only a material world governed by undesigned chance or blind fate. So it is the atheist worldview that has the real "problem with evil".

One may object to my correction of Premise 2 by asking what precisely is the "good purpose" for evil. That I have no answer for, nor do I need to in order to validate this answer for the problem with evil. "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." (Deuteronomy 29:29)

We have clues as to why God sovereignly works in certain evil events. The kidnapping and enslavement of Joseph was a direct act of God (Genesis 45:7), yet while Joseph's brothers meant it for evil, "...God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive...". (Genesis 50:20). The most evil act in history was the death of God's own Son, delivered into the hand of wicked men according to the "determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23), for all these did nothing but "what the hand and counsel of God had decreed" (Acts 4:27-28). Yet the good that has come about by the evil act is wondrous indeed, the redemption of poor, deformed sinners, deserving of God's wrath, into adopted sons who have the promise of an inheritance.

We may not know what the ultimate "good" purpose for evil is in God's most wise and determinate counsel, for He has not revealed that to us. However, let not this keep us from the One who has all power and authority, and guarantees "that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

183 comments:

JDJ said...

Thanks for posting this one. This is a little discussed topic on the Christian blogosphere.

Puritan Lad said...

Thanks JDJ. Love your blog.

I'm having some template issues right now, but will add you to my blogroll as soon as I get it straightened out

Annie said...

You don't have to define evil as objective in order for it to exist.

Subjectively, I think most people would think it is evil for children to be born into a live of poverty and suffering and die before they reach age 5. Millions of children die of starvation related causes EVERY YEAR.

You postulate a god who has some aim for humanity that can BEST or ONLY be achieved through the suffering and deaths of these children.

I say, that doesn't sound plausible at all for an omnipotent benevolent god.

Therefore you have one of a few choices:
1) god is not omnipotent
2) god is not benevolent
3) no god exists.

I choose #3.

The problem with Xians and the problem of evil is that you prefer to look at this as an abstract exercise, rather than considering real-world cases of incredible human suffering.

Puritan Lad said...

Annie,

If evil is subjective, then it really doesn't exist. You cannot make a moral judgement on a materialistic universe, even in the tragic events like the starvation of little children. It may be painful, but in an atheistic "survival of the fittest" worldview, it cannot be considered a moral evil.

So you'll have to justify moral evil in an atheistic world before you can use this argument.

The only thing I've postulated is that God has a good purpose for the evil he inflicts, thus your list of choices is incomplete.

As for your last charge, you do not know me, nor do you have any insight into what I consider. In any case, my premise stands, and thus the "problem of evil" argument fails.

DMH said...

My take is that God can't prevent evil or suffering. My reason comes from the bible.

Judges 1:19: And the LORD was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but He could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron.

If God can't defeat armies with chariots of iron, he certainly isn't powerful enough to take on evil and suffering.

Puritan Lad said...

DMH, how would you square this questionable conclusion with Judges 4:13-15

"Sisera called out all his chariots, 900 chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. And Deborah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the LORD go out before you?" So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot."

If was Judah who could not handle the chariots in the plains, and since it is clear that God can handle chariots above, we must conclude that Judah had an issue, not God.

DMH, you postion is that of process theology (open theism). How can you have any confidence is such a God, and how can you be sure that evil won't eventually triumph in the universe? How can Christ become victorious over evil dictators with nuclear warheads if He cannot handle chariots of iron?

I urge you to repent of this heterodox position and bow before the God of the Bible.

DMH said...

Oh goodness. Don't get bent out of shape Puritan Lad. I'm not an open theist. I'm a former christian of 36 years who is now an agnostic.

On the question of how I can reconcile Judges 1:19 and Judges 4:13-15, apparently God wasn't powerful enough to defeat the Canaanites in Judes 1, but was powerful enough to defeat Sisera in Judges 4. I really have no idea. But the fact remains that the bible says that God couldn't help Judah defeat the armies with iron chariots in Judges 1:19.

Puritan Lad said...

"the bible says that God couldn't help Judah defeat the armies with iron chariots in Judges 1:19"

No DMH. The Bible does not say that.

What kind of agnostic are you?

DMH said...

"the bible says that God couldn't help Judah defeat the armies with iron chariots in Judges 1:19"

No DMH. The Bible does not say that.


Puritan Lad,

Any proof or reasoning for your believing it doesn't say that? It seems to me it does, which would call into question god's omnipotence.

What kind of agnostic am I?
I'm an atheist agnostic. I don't believe the god of the bible exists, but I also don't think there is any way to prove any god's existence.

Puritan Lad said...

DMH,

Let's examine your quote again:

""the bible says that God couldn't help Judah defeat the armies with iron chariots in Judges 1:19"

You can examine Judge 1:19 from any angle you wish, and will not find anything remotely similar to what you have stated above. That would be my proof and my reasoning. The idea that God "couldn't" help Judah is an idea that you have inserted into the text. The text itself says nothing of the sort.

Having addressed that, I need to ask you what kind of proof that you would require for God's existence. What if I was prepared to offer you proof?

DMH said...

Puritan Lad,

I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on Judges 1:19.

You asked: I need to ask you what kind of proof that you would require for God's existence. What if I was prepared to offer you proof?

Proof that the god of the bible (jehovah) exists or proof that a creator exists? Usually when someone states that they can provide proof that God exists, they're not specifically talking about the god of the bible but just that a creator exists. Either way, I'll be willing to listen, although I doubt anything you provide as proof will convince me.

PS - I envy where you live. The mountains of Virginia are beautiful.

Puritan Lad said...

Yes, I love it here. Plus we are only 3 hours from the beach.

I will offer proof that the God of the Bible exists. Whether or not it will convince you depends on you own metaphysical presuppositions.

P1: If humans can obtain knowledge, then God exists, since God is the precondition of human knowledge.

P2: Human can obtain knowledge.

Conclusion: God exists.

As you consider this proof, be mindful of the atheistic/naturalistic view of the human brain, it's makeup, and it's origins.

Puritan Lad said...

BTW: I want you to really consider what kind of proof it would take to prove to you that God exists. You didn't answer that question, but go ahead and put some thought into it.

DMH said...

"P1: If humans can obtain knowledge, then God exists, since God is the precondition of human knowledge.
P2: Human can obtain knowledge.
Conclusion: God exists"

This is a circular argument. It presupposes from the start what you want to prove: that god exists. That's circular. You can't begin with what you are setting out to prove.

"I will offer proof that the God of the Bible exists"

The argument above can't prove that the christian god exists. It can only prove that a god exists. Any god will do in this argument.

"I want you to really consider what kind of proof it would take to prove to you that God exists"

I suppose if a diety would undeniably intervene in human lives today, that would be good proof. There would have to be absolute concrete evidence. The jewish/christian bible doesn't provide that, which is why I left christianity.

Puritan Lad said...

I've assumed nothing here. The argument does not presuppose that God exists. It rather examines the absurdity of his non-existence. The premises are true, the logic sound, and thus the proof stands. To state it another way, I'll borrow a reductio ad absurdem from a fellow blogger.

Prove A: The Christian God exists.
Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): The Christian God does not exist.
Step 2 (~A--> B): If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility
Step 3 (~B): There is intelligible experience (Contradiction!)
Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God does not exist (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)
Step 5 (A): --> God does exist (Law of negation.)
Q.E.D.

Furthermore, this proves the Christian God, since only the Christian God can account for intelligibility (We can discuss this more once w establish the impossibility of God's non-existence.

Since the logic is sound, you'll have to refute the premises from an atheistic/maerialistic worldview. If you can justify meaningful sense experience from that worldview, then my proof fails. Until then, it stands.

DMH: "I suppose if a diety would undeniably intervene in human lives today, that would be good proof. There would have to be absolute concrete evidence."

You are assuming that God doesn't "undeniably intervene in human lives today". In any case, I would need you to be more specific. What kind of intervention would you accept.

And I disagree that the jewish/christian bible doesn't provide proof. It is the ultimate proof, since it is God's personal revelation to mankind. Therefore, He must exist.

DMH said...

"If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility"

How so? How is God the precondition of intelligibility? This is a meaningless statement with no backing. Where did that idea come from?

"Furthermore, this proves the Christian God, since only the Christian God can account for intelligibility"

I know you want to save this for a later time but it has to be addressed now. The reason is because I indicated to you two posts ago that usually any argument for the existence of god isn't an argument for the christian god. I don't see how "only the christian god" can account for intelligibility. By whose authority? Where is the proof of that? For instance, if I ask a Hindu, they would say it is Krishna. If I ask a Muslim, they would say Allah. They especially would have a problem with you saying that only the christian god can account for intelligibility.

Unless you can explain why or how the christian god provides these things (and cannot be applied to any other god) then the argument is empty to me.

Puritan Lad said...

DMH: "How so? How is God the precondition of intelligibility? This is a meaningless statement with no backing. Where did that idea come from?"

Prove A: God is the precondition of intelligibility.
Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): God is NOT the precondition of intelligibility.
Step 2 (~A--> B): If God is NOT the precondition of intelligibility, then a godless worldview can account for intelligibility.
Step 3 (~B): A godless worldview CANNOT account for intelligibility. (Contradiction!)
Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God is NOT the precondition of intelligibility (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)
Step 5 (A): --> God is the precondition of intelligibility (Law of negation.)
Q.E.A.

This is hardly a "meaningless statement". It is proof of the existence of the Christian God. He alone is the God who can account for Kant's "transcendentals". With all due respect, your argument shows an ignorance of world religions, which I would hope that you would have examined more before committing yourself to a materialist worldview. Hinduism (and it's many eastern mystical offshoots) is a self defeating worldview. It claims that its holy texts are meaningful, while at the same time telling us that the physical universe doesn't really exist, but is only an illusion. Of course, that means that the holy texts don't exist either. The Muslim God Allah is not absolutely sovereign. He is too dependent upon his own creatures, and thus cannot be the precondition of intelligibility (his world is more geared toward fatalism).

The Christian God provides intelligibility by a combination of revelation and tools (empiricism) based on his Creative attributes and His Providence.

I must ask you yet again to provide the specific evidence for God's existence that you would find acceptable. That will help narrow the discussion, and show that evidence isn't really your problem.

DMH said...

Puritan Lad,

This is exactly why I don't involve myself with philisophical arguments. Both people end up being nasty to one another and trying to one-up the other person. It's a fruitless endeavor in my opinion. This is not a road I will continue to travel because I genuinely like you.

If I may be so bold, I realize why you're doing it. Your intentions are well-meaning. You want me to see the error of my thinking and change my mind and be a God-follower. But I can't, for one reason. That reason being the bible. I left the christian faith because when I began studying the historicity of the stories in the bible and the ancient history of the levant region, I became convinced (over a five month period) that the bible isn't the infallible, inspired word of god I thought it was. That's why I don't believe in the christian god anymore. In a nutshell, the bible itself was the undoing of my faith. Nothing more, nothing less. That's why philisophical arguments go no where with me. I hope you understand.

Puritan Lad said...

DMH:

I hope that you don't find my comments "nasty". If so, I apologize. Passionate, yes. But I try to approach the issue with a "humble boldness".

You are correct in that I'm trying to get you to be a "God-follower". I believe that your issue isn't with "evidence" as much as a blind pre-commitment to materialism. You have become "autonomous" in your thinking, assuming that human knowledge can have any meaning apart from the Christian God.

What specific historical issue do you have?

What specific evidence would you need to convince you of the truth of the Christian God?

On what authority will you find the Bible unreliable? That is, itself, a philosophical argument.

I would hope that you would continue on this road a little longer. No question is as important as this one.

DMH said...

No, I wasn't trying to point a finger at you about nastiness. I just think a philisophical ping-pong match can escalate into a heated discussion.

I don't think I'll be able to answer all your questions in one post. I'll try to tackle the first one: What specific historical issue do you have?

It's easier if I just tell you how it happened to me in the first place. One day back in Feb 2008 I was listening on my headphones at work to a pastor preach a message. The passage he used was the story of the tower of babel. When he finished reading the passage out of the bible, I was struck quite unexpectedly with how childish the story is. This had never happened before. It felt as if I got hit by a bat. No one told me this. No one planted the thought in my head. I was just struck out of the blue by how much it sounds like a fable.

I began going over the story in my head....people build a tower to reach heaven, god gets angry because "nothing will now be restrained from them" , god goes down and confuses their language and scatters them across the earth.

I sat back and my first thought was: This sounds like a bedtime story I would tell to my son. I couldn't get away from that thought. I must've studied that story from every angle for a week or more. I began studying the other stories in the OT as well....Jonah and the fish, Noah and the flood, David and Goliath, the creation story. The more I studied, the more I began realizing that the bible certainly isn't inerrant and may not even be inspired by god at all.
Anyway, the studying went on for a few months. I examined the OT and the NT as well. The more I studied the bible critically, the more evidence I found for not believing. Believe me, there is an abundance of evidence the bible contains within its pages to convince someone that its not the inspired word of god. I wish this we're true because I was a perfectly happy christian. But I can't unknow what I've learned.

Like I said, it's not really just one story or passage that undid my faith. It was a cumulitive effect over a period of five months. I suppose we could take each story/passage/subject one by one if you'd like.

Puritan Lad said...

I would like to do what you've suggested. It sounds like you are a relatively new agnostic, and, if nothing else, maybe you would be willing to treat the materialistic worldview with equal skepticism. Most atheists tend to accept it by default, not even considering the challenges I have already laid out.

BTW: I don't blog too much on weekends, but I would like to keep this discussion going. Don't leave if I don't give an immediate response.

What is it about the Tower of Babel episode that you find to be untrue? Why do you find it so?

DMH said...

Okay. Here are some thoughts on the towel of babel story and the problems I see.

1. We can conclude from the story that the people thought it would be architecturally possible to build a tower to reach heaven (as if heaven is in the sky). However, skyskrapers today are far higher than anything they could've built back then. Yet, so far, no one has reached heaven. In fact, humans have been on the moon but god didn't stop NASA from doing that.
2. Unbelieveably, Yahweh was frightened of these ancient builders. So much so that he felt he had to do something to stop them from building.
3. God created all the different human languages instantaneously. We know this isn't true because languages evolve over time as different groups of people are seperated from one another.
4. God was scared because the people was of one language and so they could do anything. Therefore, he confused their language. This makes no sense since there are millions of people in the US alone that speak the same language and yet god hasn't struck us with the inability to understand oone another.

None of it makes sense. That's why I was suddenly struck by how much it sounded like a fable.

Puritan Lad said...

DMH,

You claimed you "must've studied that story from every angle for a week or more." Perhaps you should have taken a little longer. Not doubting your honesty, but I really question the depth of your studies. You seem to arrive at some false conclusions regarding Biblical passages (this is the second time in two attempts), and then reject the Bible based on those conclusions. Perhaps it is the fault of the pastor who was teaching you, I don't know. (A week is a pretty short time to arrive at such a life changing conclusion.) I'll comment more on your study methods in response #4, but first, a response to each point.

1.) It is debatable if they were literally trying to reach God in heaven, but even if they were, it should be no surprise, especially in that ancient culture. It was no more possible then than it is now. Sinful men do all sorts of foolish things.

The difference between moon exploration and the tower of Babel was the intended purpose. God has no problem with big buildings or moon exploration. What He objects to is disobedience, and that was the problem in Babel. God expressly told the people to fill the earth and subdue it, yet Nimrod and his followers decided to "build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4). God just saw to it that they would be scattered as He commanded. It also must be noted that the tower being described is quite consistent with the type of tower in ancient Mesopotamia.

2.) God certainly wasn't afraid of men. Unfortunately, some poor translations would suggest so. The literal translation says that "nothing is restrained from them of that which they have purposed to do" (right now), meaning that they are acting unimpeded in their disobedience. The literal passage does not suggest that men could be omnipotent if they all spoke the same language, nor was God worried that they might actually reach heaven (assuming they were actually trying to do this.)

3.) The passage does not tell us that "God created all the different human languages instantaneously", but simply that "the LORD confused the language of all the earth". Interestingly enough, this claim is supported (somewhat) by many etymologists, who suggest that all current languages are rooted in no more than three basic languages. Just how many God created at Babel is not specified.

4.) I think the first three points adequately deal with number four. Have you really studied these texts that you struggle with to see if your struggle is valid? Have you really examined the validity of the conclusions that you come up with to see if they are faithful to the text? Have you studied original languages, hermeneutic methods, scholars, etc.? Have you considered difficulties in translations from Hebrew and Greek to modern English? I would suggest doing so before totally writing off difficult passages. And even if something doesn't quite make sense, that doesn't necessarily make it false. That said, the story in Genesis 11 makes perfect sense.

DMH said...

"Have you really studied these texts that you struggle with to see if your struggle is valid? Have you really examined the validity of the conclusions that you come up with to see if they are faithful to the text? Have you studied original languages, hermeneutic methods, scholars, etc.? Have you considered difficulties in translations from Hebrew and Greek to modern English"

The answer to all these is yes. I wouldn't have left the faith I was a part of for 36 years had I not been thorough. I guess this is a good example of how two people can see two very different things even when reading the same thing. Nevertheless, thank you for your post. Have a great day.

David

Puritan Lad said...

David,

The reason I ask, once again, is because you come to conclusions that are not valid. It's not a matter of "how two people can see two very different things even when reading the same thing". It's a matter of you coming to a false conclusion and then rejecting the faith based on that conclusion.

In other words, it's not just a matter of disagreement on what we read. It's a matter of you making the text say what you want it to say in order to justify leaving the faith. That's what's sad here.

I have pur forth the proof for the existence for the Christian God, and have answered adequately two of your objections, which as it turns out, aren't even valid objections. Being in the faith for 36 years, I assume that you are familiar with the gospel, and with what happens to those who reject Christ. I can only ask you, once again, to reject your groundless faith in your autonomous mind, and submit to the True and Living God. However, I cannot enact such a change in you. May the Holy Spirit convince you of these truths.

Blessings,

PL

Jonathan Steinebach said...

First, the three premises are not things that atheists presume, they are things that atheists acknowledge Christians presume. Atheists using the problem of evil argument don't say that the premises are true, but say that if Christianity is true, the premises are true. The premises lead to a contradiction, so Christianity can't be true.

Second, (but this is unrelated to the central point), there are moral theories that make a convincing point on the possibility of objectivity of ethics without God. For instance Immanual Kant, who, admittedly, postulated the existence of God, but whose ethics work better without God.
Not all atheists are amoralists as you so conveniently assume. But, once again, this is not relevant, because, as I said before, the problem of evil is a challenge to Christianity from the inside, using it's own logic.

Third, while it may be true that an omnibenevolent God would not necessarily prevent all evil, if it services the greatest good, you must agree with me that an omnibenevolent God would want to prevent as much evil as possible, while still preserving the greatest good.
However, if God is truly omnipotent, that is to say: he can do everything, he should also be able to achieve the greatest good, while preventing all evil.

This leads us to three possible conclusion, namely the refuation of one of the three premises. Either God is not truly omnipotent, for he is unable to prevent all evil and still achieve the greatest good, or he is not omnibenevolent, because he does not prevent all evil he can prevent, or there is no evil, but this is plainly untrue, biblically speaking.

Therefore, whichever premise you deny, the Christian God does not exist.

Puritan Lad said...

Jonathan Steinebach: "First, the three premises are not things that atheists presume, they are things that atheists acknowledge Christians presume. Atheists using the problem of evil argument don't say that the premises are true, but say that if Christianity is true, the premises are true. The premises lead to a contradiction, so Christianity can't be true."

Response: That's a "distinction without a difference", so to speak. Even if I grant you that "Atheists ... say that if Christianity is true, the premises are true", it is that very premise that I reject. On what authority would you make such a statement when the God of Christianity himself refutes that premise?

Jonathan Steinebach: "Second, (but this is unrelated to the central point), there are moral theories that make a convincing point on the possibility of objectivity of ethics without God. For instance Immanual Kant, who, admittedly, postulated the existence of God, but whose ethics work better without God.
Not all atheists are amoralists as you so conveniently assume. But, once again, this is not relevant, because, as I said before, the problem of evil is a challenge to Christianity from the inside, using it's own logic."


Response: How so? Please provide details. Show how Kant (or anyone else) accounts for moral absolutes without God (I assume that's what you mean by (the possibility of objectivity of ethics without God). And I never assumed that atheists are amoralists. Indeed, that have absolute moral standards in spite of themselves. I merely stated that "...the idea the evil is an objective reality, and that "such a reality cannot be accounted for in an atheistic worldview." I stand my that statement until you can show otherwise.

Jonathan Steinebach: "Third, while it may be true that an omnibenevolent God would not necessarily prevent all evil, if it services the greatest good, you must agree with me that an omnibenevolent God would want to prevent as much evil as possible, while still preserving the greatest good. However, if God is truly omnipotent, that is to say: he can do everything, he should also be able to achieve the greatest good, while preventing all evil."

Response: Aside from the fact that "good" and "evil" are quite vacuous terms in a materialistic worldview, you need to explain why I "must agree with me that an omnibenevolent God would want to prevent as much evil as possible, while still preserving the greatest good." Since when is God subject to Utilitarian philosophy?

Jonathan Steinebach: "This leads us to three possible conclusion, namely the refuation of one of the three premises. Either God is not truly omnipotent, for he is unable to prevent all evil and still achieve the greatest good, or he is not omnibenevolent, because he does not prevent all evil he can prevent, or there is no evil, but this is plainly untrue, biblically speaking.

Therefore, whichever premise you deny, the Christian God does not exist."


Response: Since you have failed to establish that an omnibenevolent God is required to prevent all evil, your argument is a non-sequitur. Once you establish that evil does exist (Good luck), then you may attempt to prove why God should adopt Utilitarianism.

Anonymous said...

You know you're totally misinterpreting Atheïsm, don't you? Atheïsm is for example, not just survival of the fittest. On contrary, most theories do not even mention it. The problem with Christianity, or Theïsm in general, and even some of the scientific Atheïst theories, is that they have a moral standard that's above humans. Why and how should people follow those morals. The 3rd Premisse is not: Evil excists. It's Why is this so-called evil not good, and is this so-called good not evil. And moreover, why should we presume this so-called god, while it's notting more than an ideology, which has used people for the good of the leaders of this ideology. For example, tell me why the vatican has used it's power to hide people like Göring. And why should we follow something which bases itself on a fictive person. Why should we presume a god, which we ourselves invented. And if God is perfect, he would lead a perfect happy life, 'cause otherwise he is not perfect. A perfect happy life does not include working. So why should a god intervene in our world or even create it? And if God uses evil for his own good, than he's using us as a means to an end, and, by following a kantian theory in this argument, than he's acting morally wrong, and thus, for Kant argues that acting morally good by following the categorical imperative is rational, God is not rational. Thereby lies the argument, that Evil is a different thing to every single person, and the same is viable for good. So if there's something universally good, following to the idea of God and christian morality, why is it different to everybody? So you can conclude that God is just an idea of some hallucinating minds, and there's historical evidence for it, 'cause Paulus, was literally, hallucinating and crazy. So following Onfray: Nietzsche was wrong by saying God is dead, 'cause we're still living in a Judaeic-Christian society, with a Judaeic-Christian Ideology and a Judaeic-Christian morality. We must move to a Post-Christian morality and society. We should defeat this christian morality and bring our own values instead of following some crazy ideology. Your prophet Zarathustra speaks.

Huub said...

And in following Hume and some Neo-Humeans, you can say that evil excists, cause when someone murders someone, you have a negative emotion.
He starts from the point: "the reason is the slave of the passions". He accompanies this with a method of empirism. So truth can only be found with empiric evidence. Moral judgements are based on emotions. Namely, whenever is see someone murder someone, i think that's morally wrong, and want to prevent that. So in saying this, i can experience evil deeds, which i find morally condemning, thus evil excist. When you use this on the pre-conception of god, you can state that, when god sees something evil happen, ('cause god can make good things happen right? ) He thinks they're morally bad, and is thus objected to prevent this. Evil still excists, 'cause there are still murders, so God doesn't excist.

Puritan Lad said...

Anonymous: "You know you're totally misinterpreting Atheïsm, don't you? Atheïsm is for example, not just survival of the fittest. On contrary, most theories do not even mention it."

Response: I realize that there are different denominations of atheism, from Buddhism to strict materialism. The most popular form in the west takes the form of materialism, and does invoke natural selection. In any case, atheists still cannot account for moral absolutes.


Anonymous: "The problem with Christianity, or Theïsm in general, and even some of the scientific Atheïst theories, is that they have a moral standard that's above humans. Why and how should people follow those morals."

Response: How is this a problem? A moral standard that is not above humans is subjective at best. Why and how should people follow those morals?


Anonymous: "The 3rd Premisse is not: Evil excists. It's Why is this so-called evil not good, and is this so-called good not evil."

Response: If you are an atheist, that's a tough question.


Anonymous: "And moreover, why should we presume this so-called god, while it's notting more than an ideology, which has used people for the good of the leaders of this ideology. For example, tell me why the vatican has used it's power to hide people like Göring. And why should we follow something which bases itself on a fictive person. Why should we presume a god, which we ourselves invented. And if God is perfect, he would lead a perfect happy life, 'cause otherwise he is not perfect. A perfect happy life does not include working. So why should a god intervene in our world or even create it?"

Response: Argumentum ad Circulum. Referring to God as "nothing more than an ideology" and a "fictive person... which we ourselves invented" assumes atheism to be true. Also, I have no need to apologize for the Vatican. Go speak to someone who holds to papal infallibility. I have little use for Romanism (as my screen name suggests).

Puritan Lad said...

Anonymous: "And if God uses evil for his own good, than he's using us as a means to an end, and, by following a kantian theory in this argument, than he's acting morally wrong, and thus, for Kant argues that acting morally good by following the categorical imperative is rational,"

Response: Well then, we should all be thankful that Kant came along with his absolute ethical standard so that he could straighten God out.


Anonymous: "God is not rational. Thereby lies the argument, that Evil is a different thing to every single person, and the same is viable for good. So if there's something universally good, following to the idea of God and christian morality, why is it different to everybody?

Response: First of all, the so called "differences" are very minute (ie. murder, dishonesty, etc.). In any case, having an absolute moral standard does not imply that all humans obey that standard. Besides, if you are arguing that morality is subjective, than the entire "problem of evil" argument falls apart anyway.


Anonymous: "So you can conclude that God is just an idea of some hallucinating minds, and there's historical evidence for it, 'cause Paulus, was literally, hallucinating and crazy. So following Onfray: Nietzsche was wrong by saying God is dead, 'cause we're still living in a Judaeic-Christian society, with a Judaeic-Christian Ideology and a Judaeic-Christian morality."

Response: Argumentum ad Circulum.


Anonymous: "We must move to a Post-Christian morality and society. We should defeat this christian morality and bring our own values instead of following some crazy ideology. Your prophet Zarathustra speaks."

Response: Suggesting that we "must" do anything is to assume an absolute moral standard, which you have yet to establish. Whose values should we bring, yours or mine? Why?

Puritan Lad said...

Huub: "And in following Hume and some Neo-Humeans, you can say that evil excists, cause when someone murders someone, you have a negative emotion."

Response: Why should one be concerned with another's negative emotions? Atheist Ayn Rand would disagree. Why choose Hume over Rand? Can animals act immorally? They certainly can cause negative emotions.


Huub: "He starts from the point: "the reason is the slave of the passions". He accompanies this with a method of empirism."

Response: So are moral absolutes a product of the passions (emotions)? How do you account for either reason or emotion in an atheistic worldview, since both are merely the product of impersonal laws acting upon ones biochemical elements?


Huub: "So truth can only be found with empiric evidence.

Response: Do you have any empirical evidence to support this claim?


Huub: "Moral judgements are based on emotions. Namely, whenever is see someone murder someone, i think that's morally wrong, and want to prevent that.

Response: There are some people who get enjoyment out of murder and even torture? Since they are acting according to their passions, why are they morally wrong? Is it because that cause you negative emotions? Whose emotions should we based our morality on?


Huub: "So in saying this, i can experience evil deeds, which i find morally condemning, thus evil excist.

Response: Since you have not established that empiricism leads to truth, you are begging the question.


Huub: "When you use this on the pre-conception of god, you can state that, when god sees something evil happen, ('cause god can make good things happen right? ) He thinks they're morally bad, and is thus objected to prevent this. Evil still excists, 'cause there are still murders, so God doesn't excist."

Response: And thus, since your premise has not been substantiated, your conclusion is invalid.

Huub said...

Puritan Lad: Why should one be concerned with another's negative emotions? Atheist Ayn Rand would disagree. Why choose Hume over Rand? Can animals act immorally? They certainly can cause negative emotions.

You really should choose Hume over Rand, 'cause Hume doesn't want the destruction of the world and morals as we know it. Rand wants to base morals on economy and interest. (atlas shrugged), Unless you want that, you should choose Hume over Rand. (Not that there are other options, I give you that)
We should be concerned be the emotions of others, 'cause if we don't, there can't be a society, 'cause caring about someone other's emotions is the only thing that keeps us from a state of nature.
And to Animals, they don't act immorally, 'cause they have no notion of Human morals, they only have Animal morals, between animals, As Frans de Waal has shown. Thus, animals don't behave morally towards us, they just act.
And yes there's a difference between acting and acting morally.

Response: So are moral absolutes a product of the passions (emotions)? How do you account for either reason or emotion in an atheistic worldview, since both are merely the product of impersonal laws acting upon ones biochemical elements?

For Hume and Neo-Humeans as Prinz, there are no moral absolutes. Hume brings in the common point of view, in which you loosen your self-interest, and, based on your emotions, act so that it is morally right. Prinz nuances this. As psychology has shown (and yes there's evidence, research has found out, that when you act morally, your emotionate part of your brain works, there's a direct link between emotions and morals, I'm no psychologist, so if you really want to know, you should read some (neuro)psychology, like Haidt) Prinz states that you make moral judgements on your sentiments. Which are dispositions to have an emotion of (dis)approbation. And you get these by empiricism. So when you felt often bad when you saw or heard about murder, you sort of learn a sentiment. And will act on the basis on this sentiment. You can also learn this by education ofcourse.
And I think you have a really bad notion of Atheism, as if there are no values in Atheism. 'Cause there are, but we can but make them our own, when we're out of this Judaeic-Christian society. And you already see we're in a transition period. The place where I live, we already accepted Homesexuality, we don't burn books of other thinkers than our own morals admit etc. And why should Atheistic laws be impersonal, they're made by ourselves, so they're the most personal you can get, while the christian laws are coming from some impersonal god, which doesn't even excist, so to me they're impersonal.

Response: Do you have any empirical evidence to support this claim?

As already noted, (by truth I mean of course moral truth, as we're in a moral debate), there's psychological evidence that proves morals have a direct link to emotions.

Puritan Lad said...

Huub,

For pure pragmatic purposes, Rand's ethics make more sense. They would lead to further advancement for the human race, natural selection applied to human needs. Not only would society survive, one could argue that it would be better off. Throw in some Eugenics or some other form of social Darwinism and we could advance even further.

You see, any sort of ethical standard that is based upon utilitarianism or pragmatism can lead to all sorts of horror stories, since it would depend upon what each person viewed to be in the best interest of... (society, the individual, nature, etc.) Fill in the blank. John Owen stated it best. "Without absolutes revealed from without by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers."

In any case, the entire "problem of evil" argument presented by atheists is contingent upon the fact that evil is an objective reality. When you tell us that "For Hume and Neo-Humeans as Prinz, there are no moral absolutes", then you must concede that the problem of evil is invalid (per the subject of this blog post). It is simply not rational to reject the exist of God on the basis that the universe He created doesn't meet your personal approval.

As far as values go, they are once again subjective in an atheistic society. If we make our own values, well, see above...

You may assert over and over again that God doesn't exist. Perhaps you will want to deal with my proof at http://covenant-theology.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-knowledge-of-god-part-vii.html

One more point. I do not accept psychology as a valid science. In fact, I can't think of any discipline that has proven over time to be more of an abject failure in dealing with the very subject in which it claims expertise. We have more psychologists, psychiatrists, behavior "experts" etc. than we've ever had, but I haven't noticed a dramatic improvement in human behavior. (There are other reasons I reject it as well, but from a pure pragmatic point of view, psychology doesn't work.)

Tatsu no guchi said...

" In any case, atheists still cannot account for moral absolutes."
Moral absolutes are self-refuting, you know that, besides if God is the source of your morality then it is still subjective, because its dependent on someone's opinion, besides this standard is much better ""If people regarded other people's families in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own family to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself." -Mozi, now i know you might say something absurd like why is this standard the best? why is this better then Nazi morals? And if you do then i fear you cant even really understand what the phrase "For one would do for others as one would for oneself" even means
" Fill in the blank. John Owen stated it best. "Without absolutes revealed from without by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers."
"
"To the West, it seems hardly imaginable that the relationship between man and man (morality) could be maintained without reference to a Supreme Being, while to the Chinese it is equally amazing that men should not, or could not, behave toward one another as decent beings without thinking of their indirect relationship through a third party." My Country, My People (1935) by Lin Yu Tang.
Nice to see you again Scott!

Puritan Lad said...

Welcome Back Tatsu:

Tatsu no guchi: "Moral absolutes are self-refuting, you know that"

Response: Really? Can you expound that idea for us? I'm curious. (I would suggest that, while you may deny the existence of moral absolutes, you do not live consistent with that belief.


Tatsu no guchi: "besides if God is the source of your morality then it is still subjective, because its dependent on someone's opinion,"

Response: Since that "someone" will be the ultimate judge of every person who ever lived, I would suggest that his opinion is pretty important. Add to that the qualities of Creator, Provider, Omnipotence and Omniscience, the "subjectivity" of his opinion greatly decreases.


Tatsu no guchi: "besides this standard is much better ""If people regarded other people's families in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own family to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself." -Mozi, now i know you might say something absurd like why is this standard the best? why is this better then Nazi morals? And if you do then i fear you cant even really understand what the phrase "For one would do for others as one would for oneself" even means"

Response: I have to say that this is the first time I've ever seen someone presume the question that is the logical ramification of their statement, and than purposely dodge the question before it is even asked by charging me with ignorance. At least I know that you are seeing the ramifications of your position, but I won't let you off that easy. Why is your position better than, say, eugenics? If I'm ignorant of your position, than please enlighten me. You'll find me a willing learner.


Tatsu no guchi: ""To the West, it seems hardly imaginable that the relationship between man and man (morality) could be maintained without reference to a Supreme Being, while to the Chinese it is equally amazing that men should not, or could not, behave toward one another as decent beings without thinking of their indirect relationship through a third party." My Country, My People (1935) by Lin Yu Tang."

Response: Like Huub above, both you and Tang missed the point of the transcendental moral argument. It's not about how people behave, but about what obligates them to behave that way. "Is" cannot produce "ought". This is especially true in materialistic atheism, where we are simply impersonal containers of biocarbions governed by the laws of nature. Thus we are stuck with genetic and epistemological determinism, ie, "I behave the way my genes tell me to behave, and I think the way my neurons tell me to think."

The fact that all men are aware of a moral standard only proves the truth of Scripture. They know God, and their law is written on their hearts. Thus unbelievers have an absolute moral standard in spite of themselves.

Finally, per the subject of this original post, not only have you done little to support the "Problem of Evil" argument, but by denying the existence of moral absolutes, you like Huub, are conceding that there really isn't a "problem",

Tatsu no guchi said...

if you really did believe is cannot make ought then you wouldn't be asking athiests about why shouldnt they practice eugenics

" Like Huub above, both you and Tang missed the point of the transcendental moral argument"
his last name is Lin btw, and second of all what Lin was refering to is what obligates them to obey that way, that he found it absurd that white guys believed that you MUST involve God in your equation to produce a reason why you must behave a certain way
"Since that "someone" will be the ultimate judge of every person who ever lived, I would suggest that his opinion is pretty important. Add to that the qualities of Creator, Provider, Omnipotence and Omniscience, the "subjectivity" of his opinion greatly decreases."
it doesnt make because its still solely his opinion and no matter how you try to how you try to put it, its still subjective morality,
"Really? Can you expound that idea for us? I'm curious. (I would suggest that, while you may deny the existence of moral absolutes, you do not live consistent with that belief."
no you profess the belief of moral absolutes but you dont live consistently with that belief, for example lying to save someone's life, if there are moral absolutes that exist according to the bible then it would be wrong to lie NO MATTER WHAT,ive seen people like Doug Wilson claim deception is not the same as lying!and what Rahab did was okay,but that's utter nonsense!look in the dictionary! Lying is a SYNONYM of deception, while murder is not exactly the same as killing.
" If I'm ignorant of your position, than please enlighten me. You'll find me a willing learner."
you keep claiming is cannot make ought, yes i agree and thats why eugenics will never work! and as well tell me do you want me to kill you simply because you are "fat" "ugly" or "stupid"? what ever your answer is, you would prove my point

Tatsu no guchi said...

"The fact that all men are aware of a moral standard only proves the truth of Scripture. "
please tell that to a psychopath and how aware of your God's moral standards they are,wait you believe psychology is not valid..eh never mind

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: "if you really did believe is cannot make ought then you wouldn't be asking athiests about why shouldnt they practice eugenics"

Response: Once again, asserting my ignorance is one thing. Demonstrating it is another. Please answer the question.


Tatsu no guchi: "what Lin was refering to is what obligates them to obey that way, that he found it absurd that white guys believed that you MUST involve God in your equation to produce a reason why you must behave a certain way"

Response: Once again, I'm aware of what he is asserting. Where is his demonstration. Why must a person behave in a certain way without God? Until you or Lin answer that question, you haven't demonstrated any sort of moral standard, much less call it "absurd". BTW: If there are no more absolutes, then why should anyone behave a certain way.


Tatsu no guchi: "it doesnt make because its still solely his opinion and no matter how you try to how you try to put it, its still subjective morality,"

Response: Not so. If an Absolute, Omniscient, and Omnipotent Being establish good and evil as part of His created order, than it is not subjective, but absolute.


Tatsu no guchi: "no you profess the belief of moral absolutes but you dont live consistently with that belief, for example lying to save someone's life, if there are moral absolutes that exist according to the bible then it would be wrong to lie NO MATTER WHAT,ive seen people like Doug Wilson claim deception is not the same as lying!and what Rahab did was okay,but that's utter nonsense!look in the dictionary! Lying is a SYNONYM of deception, while murder is not exactly the same as killing."

Response: By what standard would you conclude that it is wrong to lie and save someone's life? Certainly not the Bible...


Tatsu no guchi: "you keep claiming is cannot make ought, yes i agree and thats why eugenics will never work! and as well tell me do you want me to kill you simply because you are "fat" "ugly" or "stupid"? what ever your answer is, you would prove my point"

Response: Again, you are dodging the question. Whether it works or not isn't the issue. Why is it wrong (immoral, evil) as opposed to not being practical (inconvenient)?


Tatsu no guchi: "please tell that to a psychopath and how aware of your God's moral standards they are,wait you believe psychology is not valid..eh never mind"

Response: Psychopaths are fully aware that they are wrong, which is why they are responsible for their actions. Tell me, are psychopaths acting immorally? Why?

wakawakwaka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tatsu-no-guchi said...

"Once again, asserting my ignorance is one thing. Demonstrating it is another. Please answer the question."
simple naturalistic fallacy
"Not so. If an Absolute, Omniscient, and Omnipotent Being establish good and evil as part of His created order, than it is not subjective, but absolute."
Scott,you just cant realise cant you Good and Evil would still be his personal opinion, which is subjective
"Psychopaths are fully aware that they are wrong, which is why they are responsible for their actions. Tell me, are psychopaths acting immorally? Why?"
i think you missed my point, but anyways psychopaths dont believe they are wrong in the actions they commit,they believe all that they do as the right thing!Though despite all their guile and intelliect, most psychopaths cant realise their own morality fails them until its too late. And are they acting immorally? it depends on what they are doing doesnt it?
"Again, you are dodging the question. Whether it works or not isn't the issue. Why is it wrong (immoral, evil) as opposed to not being practical (inconvenient)?"
no i am not dodging anything,like i said "If people regarded other people's families in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own family to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself." -Mozi i just gave you the standard that is the source of almost every morality on earth
"By what standard would you conclude that it is wrong to lie and save someone's life? Certainly not the Bible..."
YES EXACTLY this shows how the bible cannot sport any type of morality (not even what ever code you hold on to) thats not reletvistic, subjective or might makes right

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

I'm not leaving this line of questioning until I get a rational answer from you. Just appealing to my ignorance and then failing to demonstrate that ignorance does not make me at fault for a fallacy. Until you show both my ignorance and my fallacy, you've demonstrated nothing but your attempt to dodge the question (ie, "you obviously don't understand....."). That's not an argument, just an unsubstantiated assertion.

Your continuous quote of Mozi does nothing to establish "the standard that is the source" of morality. Why is anyone obligated to obey Mozi? Why should we care how we treat others, especially since, according to your worldview, we are "simply complex computers made of meat"? Why choose Mozi over atheist Ayn Rand? What obligates us to obey either? What about the other secular ethical theories? What one should we hold to? Subjectivism, Egoism, Altruism, Utilitarianism, others? They are fail for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that none can establish any obligation to obey it. How do you avoid naturalistic determinism in ethics as an atheist? I never got an answer from you in our last discussion, and this is the second time I've asked you today. If I've committed a fallacy, please demonstrate the fallacy.

Your comments about the Bible not only fail to answer my question, but God's commandments are anything but subjective. They are commandments, not suggestions. But that is another discussion.

For now, if what you say is true about morality being subjective, not only do we not have an obligation to obey Mozi or anyone else, but "evil" becomes nothing more than "non-conformity", and the atheist argument for the so-called "Problem of Evil" falls flat on it's face.

Tatsu-no-guchi said...

"I'm not leaving this line of questioning until I get a rational answer from you"
heh its funny with your kind, you never want to get out of the starting gate no matter how badly youve been refuted, anyrate i suppose we should move on with what you want to get anwsered
"They are fail for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that none can establish any obligation to obey it."
no seems its just you cant think of a reason why,
"For now, if what you say is true about morality being subjective"
if morality was as absoulte as you claim we have a whole bunch of absuridities!
" Why should we care how we treat others, especially since, according to your worldview, we are "simply complex computers made of meat"?"
making scarecrows aside,if you want to be treated poorly Scott or killed in an extremely brutal fashion be my guest,dont care
"Why choose Mozi over atheist Ayn Rand?" BECAUSE ITS AYN RAND

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu-no-guchi: "heh its funny with your kind, you never want to get out of the starting gate no matter how badly youve been refuted"

Response: Tatsu, I'm quite disappointed in your latest round of posts. In the beginning, you at least tried to make a rational arguemnt. Now, all you have offered is plenty of unjustified assertion. You haven't offered a refutation of anything, or even attempted a logical demomnstration to support or refute. If you have I must have missed it. Please repost your refutation so that we can all see it.


Tatsu-no-guchi: "no seems its just you cant think of a reason why [we are obliged to obey any secular ethical theory]."

Response: You are correct. When you think of one, let me know (after you have decided on which theory we should obey). I'm still waiting...


Tatsu-no-guchi: "making scarecrows aside,if you want to be treated poorly Scott or killed in an extremely brutal fashion be my guest,dont care"

Response: So now we move from Mozi as the standard to what Scott thinks is the standard. I guess I'll write up my demandes tomorrow.

To summarize your position, you concede that the "Problem of Evil" argument is invalid because evil doesn't really exist as an objective reality. Rather, it is merely nonconformity to a subjective moral standard created by Mozi (who you arbitrarily decide is better than Ayn Rand for apparently secret reasons). Sort of a "golden rule", but since you deny the existence of a golden rule giver, it really isn't a rule. Should we call it the "golden opinion"? Anyway, since you hold that morality is subjective, there can be no basis for obligation to such a standard (well, at least I can't think of one, but apparently you can, but for some reason refuse to share it. Another secret) Of course, since our minds and bodies consist of nothing more than biochemicals, we are subject to the laws of nature, thus unable to choose a moral standard anyway. We can act only in a way that those impersonal laws determine for us to act, until, some day, the universe reaches maximum entropy and suffers heat death.

So according to your standard, why should I be concerned with how other people are treated again? You seem to have too much "secret wisdom" concerning which of the dozens of secular ethical rules that we should obey, and why we should obey them. Please share some of that wisdom with us.

Tatsu no guchi said...

". Rather, it is merely nonconformity to a subjective moral standard created by Mozi (who you arbitrarily decide is better than Ayn Rand for apparently secret reasons). Sort of a "golden rule", but since you deny the existence of a golden rule giver, it really isn't a rule"
what you said made no sense here,and the fact that you think its a subjective moral standard is just absurd,it is not just "mere opinion" deny what Mozi said and i doubt you will enjoy the consequences.Yes it is a golden rule, and it DOES NOT NEED A RULE GIVER i dunno why you would actually think that. That Ayn Rand thing was a bit of a joke yeesh

Tatsu no guchi said...

" So now we move from Mozi as the standard to what Scott thinks is the standard. I guess I'll write up my demandes tomorrow."

you really dont understand consequentialism do you?

Tatsu no guchi said...

"To summarize your position, you concede that the "Problem of Evil" argument is invalid because evil doesn't really exist as an objective reality."
i wasnt even interested in arguing about problems of evil, i was solely interested in talking about morality

Tatsu no guchi said...

"Rather, it is merely nonconformity to a subjective moral standard created by Mozi"
funny i could say the same of your morality, its just merely nonconformity to a subjective moral standard by Yahweh, that is enforced by fear, hate and punshiment

DannyM said...

Tatsu,

Once again you are simply all over the place. In one breath you deny moral absolutes, and in the next breath you seek to establish an absolute rule for everyone to follow. And then you imply this arbitrary 'rule' is absolute by denying its subjectivity! Do you follow your own ramblings, Tatsu?

Why should we accept the arbitrary whims of the random collection of atoms called Mozi and Tatsu?

All you have offered is unsubstantiated assertions and disjointed ramblings.

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: "you really dont understand...do you?"

Tatsu, that is either the second time (or third) that you've tried this not-so-subtle ad hominem. Your failure to justify your position does not equate to ignorance on my part. Again, if you have some higher knowledge to share with us, please do so.

Perhaps we have a definition of a "rule". Please explain what you think a "rule" is, and how do you justify rules while at the same time telling us that morality is subjective. What obligates a person to conform to these rules? I have repeated asked these questions and have yet to see an answer. Let's see if you can do better than simply assert my ignorance in the matter.

Tatsu no guchi said...

"Why should we accept the arbitrary whims of the random collection of atoms called Mozi "
its not arbitary whim! its treat others like you want to be treated whats so hard about understanding that? Mozi even gave you a reason why to follow his teaching!

Tatsu no guchi said...

and are you arguing for objective or absolute morality? cause those are slightly different you know,i was against absolute morality and i assumed you were arguing for it since you were using terms like "moral absolutes"

Puritan Lad said...

I sure am. I curious what you think a "rule" is without moral absolutes, and where obligation to obey those rules come from. (again)

Tatsu no guchi said...

well i need to know first are you arguing for absolute morality or objective morality

Puritan Lad said...

Absolute. Anything else isn't a rule, but merely and idea, an opinion, or at best, a convention.

DannyM said...

Tatsu

you are arguing for a 'rule,' which by definition means you are arguing for an absolute standard for people to follow; therefore, you are arguing for the very thing you have sought to argue against!

Good grief... Could it get any more desperate than this?

Tatsu no guchi said...

but this would mean you cant lie to save a person's life!
"
Good grief... Could it get any more desperate than this? "
yes i could almost smell desperation coming from you danny

Puritan Lad said...

No, it wouldn't.

Please answer my questions Tatsu. How do you justify rules in a world of subjective ethics, much less obligation?

Tatsu-no-guchi said...

"No, it wouldn't."
yes it would because if it was ABSOULTLEY wrong to lie then you cant lie NO MATTER WHAT
"Please answer my questions Tatsu. How do you justify rules in a world of subjective ethics, much less obligation? "
well Scott lets see now if what Mozi said was just mere opinion then why dont you have that person who disagrees put in a situition they REALLY hate, they will at one point or another appeal to that standard, if its just mere opinion why would they appeal to that standard? (its more then just a mere opinion)

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu, not only haven't you NOT answered my question, you are waffling back and forth. You want Mozi to be a standard, but you cannot justify the standard because you have already stated that morality is subjective. (BTW: Moses taught the "golden rule" 1000 years before Mozi, but that is another discussion).

The case that you put forth about having "person who disagrees put in a situition they REALLY hate" actually supports Ayn Rand's egoism more than Mozi's "consequentialism". In any case, you haven't justified why one person should care about another person plight. Try again.

tatsu-no-guchi said...

"In any case, you haven't justified why one person should care about another person plight. Try again. "
we been through this,if you do not want to be treated a in a certain way, treating others in a certain way would be extremely detrimental,treatinf others poorly will only breed consquences you cannot handle i cant believe i have to spell it out for you like this

Puritan Lad said...

Yes, we've been through this several times, and you still haven't justified "obligation" in Mozi's moral code. What is really strange is that you appeal to egoism (how "I" would want to be treated) and pragmatism to support consequentialism. You can't even maintain a consistent standard in your argument. In any case, no of these standard can justify obligation. You may continue to repeat the same tired nonsense, and I'll let you have the last word if it makes you feel better. But you have not "explained" anything that justifies obligation.

Tatsu no guchi said...

Humans, acting without divine hand-holding, can easily understand that mutual respect is a survival benefit. If I don't knock my neighbor in the head he might help me fend off the lions after I make a kill. If my neighbor makes a kill he might share with me if I offer to share with him if he doesn't make a kill. We figured out a long time ago it makes pretty good sense to want to be treated well by others, and to want to treat them the same way. Besides, I don't need a threat of eternal damnation to keep me from wanting to treat my fellow man any differently than I expected to be treated. It's called civil behavior.

Jonathan Steinebach said...

Jonathan Steinebach: "First, the three premises [...] can't be true."

Puritan Lad: That's a "distinction without a difference", so to speak. Even if I grant you that "Atheists ... say that if Christianity is true, the premises are true", it is that very premise that I reject. On what authority would you make such a statement when the God of Christianity himself refutes that premise?

Jonathan: I think my phrasing may have given rise to a misunderstanding. My apologies. This particular part of my response to your original text was dedicated to 'The Atheist's Problem of Evil'. It is not important, as you have indicated, for the problem of evil as discussed by Christians, but rather serves to show why the problem of evil isn't necessarily a problem for atheists, as not al atheists believe that objective evil exists.

Jonathan Steinebach: "Second, (but this [...] it's own logic."

Response: How so? Please provide details. Show how Kant (or anyone else) accounts for moral absolutes without God (I assume that's what you mean by (the possibility of objectivity of ethics without God). And I never assumed that atheists are amoralists. Indeed, that have absolute moral standards in spite of themselves. I merely stated that "...the idea the evil is an objective reality, and that "such a reality cannot be accounted for in an atheistic worldview." I stand my that statement until you can show otherwise.

Jonathan: Because this is quite beside the central topic of this post and Kant is extremely complicated, I will simplify. Kant stated, that, when functioning as human beings (for instance by making any decision whatsoever), we necessarily and automatically view ourselves as rational beings. This rationality is something that all human beings have in common. Thus it is suited to provide an objective standard.

Jonathan Steinebach: "Third, while it [...] preventing all evil."

Response: Aside from the fact that "good" and "evil" are quite vacuous terms in a materialistic worldview, you need to explain why I "must agree with me that an omnibenevolent God would want to prevent as much evil as possible, while still preserving the greatest good." Since when is God subject to Utilitarian philosophy?

I want to begin by adressing your statement that '"good" and "evil" are quite vacuous terms in a materialistic worldview'. As we've both affirmed, this is not the central point, but it is a returning topic nonetheless. It is the reason I posed my first and second points, in order to show two things. That the debate over the problem of evil does not take place in a materialistic worldview, but rather in a Christian worldview, as it is a challenge from within. And that even a materialistic worldview offers, in the right hands, possibilities for objective norms.

I have finally reached the focus of our discussion: why God should want to prevent as much evil as possible. And you're right about this, preventing evil is not by far in all ethical systems a criterion for benevolence. I yield this claim and substitute a better claim for it: God should cause as little evil as possible. If you do not agree to this criterion for benevolence, I kindly request you supply a definition. If you have already given one, I apologise and ask that you point it out to me. If you do agree that it is benevolent to cause as little evil as possible, you will also agree with me that he who is omnibenevolent causes as little evil as possible. He who is, in addition to being omnibevolent, omnipotent, should be able to fulfill all his goals without causing any evil at all, or he would not be omnipotent. Since there is (from a Christian worldview) evil in this world and all things are (again, from a Christian worldview) caused by God, God has caused evil and is therefore either not omnibenevolent or not omnipotent.

Puritan Lad said...

Hey Jonathan,

Sorry for the delayed response. Been kind of swamped lately. Anyway...

It's interesting that both of you appeal to Kant in an effort to justify an objective ethical standard. Kant's philosophy is rooted in an escapable (and unjustifiable) dualism. On one hand, he wants to approach the universe as a blind mechanistic device, with every particle in the universe being subject to the laws of nature. On the other hand, he wants to apply qualitative values to things like morality, thought, the will, etc. Even Kant himself admitted that this dualism appeared to be contraditory (I would suggest that the contradiction is more than a mere appearance).

You wrote, "when functioning as human beings (for instance by making any decision whatsoever), we necessarily and automatically view ourselves as rational beings." The problem with materialistic atheism is that you cannot provide any justification for assigning a quality to either "human beings" or "rationality", for of necessity, both are merely the result of matter being subject to the laws of physics and biochemistry. Our thoughts and actions are merely illusions encapsulated in sort of a genetic and epistemological determinism. (In that sense, there is really no reason to debate anything. The fact that you are doing so suggests an inconsistency in your worldview). What distinguishes human beings from rocks, or rational thought from a windstorm?

You then added, "This rationality is something that all human beings have in common. Thus it is suited to provide an objective standard." How does rationality proved a basis for an objective moral standard? First, you have to justify a basis for rationality beyond our material minds (see above). Then you have to somehow explain how such a rationality can result in obligation (the still unsolved "is" and "ought" question.)

Finally, I do not agree to this criterion for benevolence. God's benevolence means that He is the source of all good (Indeed, he alone defines good and evil.) God's goodness is infinite, but that "infinite" goodness is perfect in it's own quality, not necessarily in it's manefested application. I think my original post adequately addresses this issue, as God even has a "good" plan for the evil He creates and works out for His own purposes. We are confident that Christians will ultimately experience that goodness, for even the evil we experience will be worked out for good.

When you claim that "God should cause as little evil as possible", to what moral standard are you appealing? "Should" requires obligation. The Christian God is not obligated to "cause as little evil as possible", especially if it is part of His grand plan to glorify Himself. Thus your conclusion is invalid.

Tatsu no guchi said...

"The problem with materialistic atheism is that you cannot provide any justification for assigning a quality to either "human beings" or "rationality", for of necessity, both are merely the result of matter being subject to the laws of physics and biochemistry"
what you said here made no sense what so ever, according to your logic there is no difference between the digestion system in your stomach and running because both are merely the result of matter being subject to the laws of physics and biochemistry

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

If you are referring to qualitative value, you are correct. There there is no difference between the digestion system in your stomach and running in an atheistic worldview because both are merely the result of matter being subject to the laws of physics and biochemistry. Assigning value to one over the other is arbitrary at best. How ridiculous is it to assign ethical value to the unchangeable physical laws that we are all bound by (and that would include our thoughts, wills, and actions)?

Just because you don't approve of the logical implications of your worldview doesn't mean that makes "no sense what so ever". It makes perfect sense. The burden of proof is on you to show otherwise (starting with resolving Kant's contradition.)

Tatsu no guchi said...

"Just because you don't approve of the logical implications of your worldview doesn't mean that makes "no sense what so ever". It makes perfect sense."
no it doesn't what you said again makes no sense, they are not the logical implications of anything its a big magic leap from our bodies are subject to biochemistry and physics to "determinism"

Tatsu no guchi said...

THESE ARE ALL ARGUMENTS AGAINST YOUR OWN FREE WILL! You might as well be arguing that we can't choose to be a unicorns, really. Can you turn into a unicorn without relying on a choice derived from physical laws, but have that choice? Can you be free of the source of that choice that is not dependent on physical properties? Take a photo of it and send it to me when that works out for you.

Puritan Lad said...

Free Will? Tatsu, I'm afraid that you've either missed the point, or are trying to avoid it altogether. Free will is an interesting concept, and one certainly can't uphold any sort of ethical standard if free will is absent.

My question is the same that I have proposed to you from the very beginning. How does an atheist avoid genetic and epistemological determinism? I am not arguing against my own free will. I am arguing that, in a strictly materialistic universe, there can be no free will. The fact that you believe in free will shows a gross inconsistency in your worldview. Even Kant admitted that that much. From whence comest "free will"? Do electrons have free will? Cells? Organic systems? Worms? Is free will the result of some biochemical reaction? Is it material in nature? What exactly is it?

No "big magic " is necessary. By appealing to free will (a necessary precondition of ethics), you are borrowing from my worldview. Please justify the existence of free will in an atheistic universe, then we can proceed to ethics.

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

Tell me if you agree or disagree with this quote (and please explain why):

"In the universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won’t find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A. E. Houseman put it:

For nature, heartless, witless Nature
Will neither know nor care.

DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music."
(Richard Dawkins)

Tatsu no guchi said...

" you are borrowing from my worldview. "
this is really ironic coming from a calvinist, you claim that everyone had moral responsibility to your god and yet outta the other side of your mouth you argue only he chooses who is allowed to obey him and who is just a reprobate that "hates him",and the best part is you will probably make references to clay pots! so much for free will
"I am not arguing against my own free will. I am arguing that, in a strictly materialistic universe, there can be no free will."
i was saying that by arguing against a strictly natural universe you shoot yourself in the foot, all you did was push the supposed problem back one step

Puritan Lad said...

Sorry Tatsu, but you aren't getting off by dodging the question. Aside from your lack of understanding of Calvinism, you have yet to answer my question? Do you agree with Dawkins' quote or not, and why? You cannot simply ignore the issues in atheism by observing that I hold to the very things that atheism cannot account for. That isn't a problem for me, because I'm not an atheist. I'm not arguing for a strictly materialistic universe. That's your position (and if not, please share what your position is). Thus it is atheism that shoots itself in the foot.

Tatsu no guchi said...

as for dick dawkins, YES and NO much of what he said is true, even if your god, Jesus did really exist good and evil would still just be someone's point of view, but i would exactly call it purposeless, as there is at least one purpose of the universe to grow and to create life, and free will is the ability to make choices

I see a couple of problems with your claims. The first is that any materialist view of mental states allows for interaction with an outside world. In other words, even if it really is just unthinking chemistry, it still reacts to input, and there are choices embodied in that input. You are presented with a menu and your unthinking chemistry chooses. I am presented with a slightly different menu and mine chooses differently.

But your real mistake is assuming we understand, at the kind of detailed level required, that there is some straight line process from brain mechanisms to rational thought. I would assert that one leads to the other, but there can (and are) many, many twists and turns in between.

As you present it, we are either programmed meat-robots or... what? What other ingredient will you slip into the mix? If you introduce "spirit or soul" as an alternative, you got the same problem, only without neurons in play.

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: "As you present it, we are either programmed meat-robots or... what?"

Response: That's the question I'm asking you. What? This question needs to be answered before the "Problem of Evil" can make any sense.

Tatsu no guchi: "What other ingredient will you slip into the mix? If you introduce "spirit or soul" as an alternative, you got the same problem, only without neurons in play.

Response: Why does the introduction of the soul result in determinism, and why must it exist sans neurons? Please explain. The problem with atheism (well, at least the materialistic sort) is that neurons are all you have? Where does free will come in?

Tatsu no guchi said...

no i am asking you how do you solve this supposed problem if you add in "soul or spirit" into the mix, it seems all you are doing is pushing the supposed problem back one step! and no i do not misunderstand your Calvinism and the role of free will in that system

Puritan Lad said...

I'm not sure what is so difficult to understand Tatsu. Since God created the human mind and gave it a meaningful connection with the world He created, man's thoughts are not simply the product of natural law. He has a choice in his actions, and is thoroughly responsible for those actions. Christians don't hold to a blind mechanistic view of the universe. We have a basis for free will and other teleological values.

Tatsu no guchi said...

if your mind was just a product of nature as you put it there would be no free will? sorry thats a bit of a non-sequitor,first of all its precisely why we would have free will, since no bigger being could mess around with it! Second of all just because your will is limited to what it can choose doesnt mean its not "free".
"He has a choice in his actions, and is thoroughly responsible for those actions."
we dont have a choice to be "sinful" because if your God exists then he made us this way, though i doubt you loose too much sleep at night over that
"If you are referring to qualitative value, you are correct. There there is no difference between the digestion system in your stomach and running in an atheistic worldview because both are merely the result of matter being subject to the laws of physics and biochemistry. Assigning value to one over the other is arbitrary at best."
so then according to you there is no difference between humans and devils then because both are merely the results of God's creation and all value God assigns is subjective at best?

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

You are still avoiding the issue. We aren't talking about limits on what a person can choose. In a materialistic world, there can really be no choices. Of necessity, all of our thoughts and actions are subject to blind forces acting upon matter. We may think we are making choices, but that is really an illusion. As Richard Dawkins says, "DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music".

What exactly is "free will"? The very term suggests that there is something to the will which is not subject to the laws of physics and biochemistry. The fact that you are debating this issue shows a gross inconsistency in your worldview. (ie. I'm a Christian because I have the "Christian" gene, and there is no purpose in trying to change that.)

Attempting to paint the theistic worldview as a non-teleological, deterministic one does not help your cause. I don't accept the premise that a value assigned by God is subjective. It is were, nothing could be true.

You claim to be knowledgeable in how free will works in Calvinism, but I have my doubts. In any case, that doesn't help your position. You would just be defending some offshoot of Pelagianism, not Materialism.

So I'll ask, yet again. How does a materialistic atheist avoid genetic and epistemological determinism? You have yet to even attempt a rational answer.

Tatsu no guchi said...

The neuroscientist Roger Sperry has argued for a position called "emergent monism" or "mental monism," based on the concept of emergence.This could be seen as a type of compatibilism in that consciousness arises out of the deterministic physical properties of the brain and "free will" is part of consciousness.
A compatibilist may argue that not all types of prior influences and causes should be treated as equivalent. There's a difference between someone throwing you through a window and someone pointing a gun to your head and ordering you to jump through the window. The former leaves no room open for free choices; the second does, even if the alternatives are unappealing. a decision is influenced by circumstances or experience does not entail that the decision is fully determined by particular circumstances or experiences. The existence of influences thus does not exclude the ability to choose. So long as we humans are capable of rationality and able to anticipate the future, we can be held accountable (to varying degrees) for our actions, regardless of how we are influenced.

This is why children and the insane are not always treated in our legal system as moral agents. They lack the full capacity for rationality and/or cannot conform their actions to take future events and consequences into account. Others, though, are assumed to be moral agents and this assumes some level of determinism.

Without some measure of determinism, our brains wouldn't be reliable and our legal system wouldn't work — it wouldn't be possible to treat certain actions following from moral agency and other actions as following from someone who lacks moral agency. Nothing magical or supernatural is necessary and, what's more, a complete absence of determinism is thus not only not necessary, but excluded.
and i "attempted" several rational anwsers including the one timestamped 1:40

"I don't accept the premise that a value assigned by God is subjective. It is were, nothing could be true." well it has to be subjective by definition! its a good thing then your God isnt the one assigning values then huh?

Tatsu no guchi said...

well it seems after a little thinking, i think i understand what you are trying to say that is, if we are truly mechanistic beings, down to our cognitive and neural processes, then aren't all our thoughts determined in advance? Are we actually making decisions, or do decisions happen to us in a pre-determined way? Is the conscious sensation of making choices a true representation of some de-novo event in the universe?

The answer is no- all mechanistic phenomena have reasons and causes, and the brain is not immune from this logic. This is spelled out in a nice book by Daniel Wegner "The illusion of conscious will". The neurobiology is not crystal clear yet, but it is clear that our sensation of conscious choice follows by a substantial lag the actual mechanism of choice made elsewhere in our brains. Thus our brains make choices, based on experience, on reason, on happenstance... whatever, and then our consciousness is informed of the result, at which point an idea "pops" into our heads.

What this means is that we have free will, insofar as we are not aware of the subconscious processes that lead to all our decisions, or conversely can cite and use reasons for some decisions (however inaccurately rationalized in retrospect). We also have free will in that we take moral responsibility for our actions, even when they are desperately at odds to our more considered desires (addictions like smoking, gambling, eating). But in the end, we do not have free will in the atomic sense that there is an inner homunculus that purely reasons its way to action and represents our instant consciousness of that decision-making.

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

Yes, that is what I've been saying (for quite a while). I guess it falls to me for not being able to express that idea clearly enough throughout this discussion. This sort of non-teleological determinism is the logical end conclusion of the materialistic worldview. This is, in fact, the Kantian Paradox, and you are finally seeing this.

The fact that "we are not aware of the subconscious processes that lead to all our decisions" does not take away from the fact that our decisions are not free according to your worldview. One could argue that the moral standards we apply to these decisions are also predetermined, but that only escalates the problem. In a materialistic universe, there is no rational basis for assigning any qualitative value to our thoughts, actions, rationality, wills, etc. Free will is simply an illusion in a such a universe (as you ultimately admit.) We simply dance to DNA's music.

Of course, you do not live that way. You live as though you believe that the immaterial world is objectively true. You do assign qualitative value to your thoughts, actions, will, rationality, ethics, etc. You are appalled at things like child abuse, torture, etc. You do value "human reason" as something more than a biochemical reaction within the human brain. The fact that you are willing to undertake this very discussion is a testimony to that fact. That's the problem with materialistic atheism. Those who hold to such must rely on God's Creation and Providence in order to even function, while at the same time denying His existence. This points to proof of God's existence that I have offered at The Knowledge Of God Part IV.

Atheism cannot account for knowledge, logic, science, free will, morality, or any of the "upper story" realities of Kant. Your options are either to accept the Kantian contradiction in materialism, which is irrational, or honor God. My hope is that you do the latter.

Tatsu no guchi said...

" You live as though you believe that the immaterial world is objectively true
according to you if Christianity is true NOTHING is objective
" In a materialistic universe, there is no rational basis for assigning any qualitative value to our thoughts, actions, rationality, wills, etc. Free will is simply an illusion in a such a universe (as you ultimately admit.) We simply dance to DNA's music."
I never admit such a thing, i told you free will is a part of our consciousness
"Atheism cannot account for knowledge, logic, science, free will, morality, or any of the upper story realities of Kant."
This is really ironic coming from you, as you believe all of reality is founded on an irrational bedrock- the trinity
"The fact that we are not aware of the subconscious processes that lead to all our decisions" does not take away from the fact that our decisions are not free according to your worldview."
yes they are i already explained it to you
"You do assign qualitative value to your thoughts, actions, will, rationality, ethics, etc. You are appalled at things like child abuse, torture, etc" we the reason why anyone should be appealed by any of those things cant be because of the bible!

Tatsu no guchi said...

besides i already gave you an account of logic way back,but i guess you just wont accpet it because it doesnt have your god in the equation

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

It seems that, whenever you are faced with the clear contradiction in your worldview, you get defensive and begin to make assertions rather than defend your position (I'm not the only one who has noticed this). The following statements will serve to expose this:

1.) "according to you if Christianity is true NOTHING is objective".

According to me? Please show quote or logical syllogism needed to substantiate this assertion. And then tell us how that helps explain objective truth in your worldview.

2.) "I never admit such a thing, i told you free will is a part of our consciousness.

Yes, you asserted this while at the same time telling us that "all mechanistic phenomena have reasons and causes, and the brain is not immune from this logic" and that "we do not have free will in the atomic sense". Since, in materialism, consciousness itself is the result of a mechanistic processes, you are back to square one, no real free will. (More than likely, you are trying to avoid the obvious.)

3.) "This is really ironic coming from you, as you believe all of reality is founded on an irrational bedrock- the trinity".

Asserting something to be irrational and proving it to be are two different things. Please provide logical syllogism needed to substantiate this assertion. And then tell us how that helps explain objective truth in your worldview.

4.) "besides i already gave you an account of logic way back,but i guess you just wont accept it because it doesn't have your god in the equation".

Please do so again, because we must have missed it. You have not given an account of any universal or unchangeable law, whether it be logic or otherwise. Try again.

At this point, I'm well satisfied to let the reader decide if you've made your case. Once you justify any of Kant's upper story realities (including consciousness) in your worldview, we may proceed further. Until then you are relying on Christianity to argue against Christianity, the ultimate in irrationality.

tatsu-no-guchi said...

"Since, in materialism, consciousness itself is the result of a mechanistic processes, you are back to square one, no real free will. (More than likely, you are trying to avoid the obvious.)"
just because something is the result of such a process doesnt mean the thing its self has all the same charactersitics as the process
"According to me? Please show quote or logical syllogism needed to substantiate this assertion. And then tell us how that helps explain objective truth in your worldview."
everything is dependent on God, if everything is dependent on God it is subjective because if God was to disappear nothing could be real! and objective truths are truth that exist indepdent of any mind
"Asserting something to be irrational and proving it to be are two different things. Please provide logical syllogism needed to substantiate this assertion. And then tell us how that helps explain objective truth in your worldview."
i am suprised you didnt know this one, saying the trinity is rational is like saying both peter parker and spider man are the same person but peter parker is not spider man
"Until then you are relying on Christianity to argue against Christianity, the ultimate in irrationality"
why would i use irrationality to argue against irrationality?

Puritan Lad said...

tatsu-no-guchi: "just because something is the result of such a process doesn't mean the thing its self has all the same characteristics as the process"

Response: True or not, it doesn't help your cause. In materialistic atheism, everything is part of the process. Either human consciousness and the will are subject to mechanistic laws of nature, or they are free to make decision apart from those impersonal laws. It can't be both. Which is it?


tatsu-no-guchi: "everything is dependent on God, if everything is dependent on God it is subjective because if God was to disappear nothing could be real! and objective truths are truth that exist independent of any mind"


Response: I don't see how a hypothetical case of God's disappearance (a theoretical impossibility) has any bearing on the objectivity of His laws. His moral laws are about as subjective as His law of gravity. You may disagree with either, but you will ignore either at your peril.

tatsu-no-guchi: "i am surprised you didn't know this one, saying the trinity is rational is like saying both peter parker and spider man are the same person but peter parker is not spider man."


Response: Aside from the fact that your analogy does not represent the doctrine of the Trinity with even the remotest similarity, you haven't shown the irrationality of the Trinity. What law of logic is being violated? Is something "irrational" simply because it's something we don't normally experience? or because we cannot sufficiently explain it?

In any case, you may actually want to study some sound Christian doctrine before you mock it. Either you are ignorant of both Calvinism and the Trinity, or you're being disingenuous. I prefer to think the former. In the meantime, you may want to work on defending your own worldview.

tatsu-no-guchi: "why would i use irrationality to argue against irrationality?"


Response: Another groundless assertion. You are borrowing philosophical capital from Christianity in order to form your arguments. Example #1 is your previous appeal to "consciousness" in order to justify free will, despite the fact that your worldview must hold consciousness as a blind function of impersonal mechanistic laws.

Tatsu no guchi said...

" True or not, it doesn't help your cause. In materialistic atheism, everything is part of the process. Either human consciousness and the will are subject to mechanistic laws of nature, or they are free to make decision apart from those impersonal laws. It can't be both. Which is it?"
just because its subject to something doesn't mean you cannot make choices, you believe the will is subject to sin and yet believe people can still make geninue choices, human consciousness might be subject to certian laws but it doesnt mean they cannot make choices within those laws
" I don't see how a hypothetical case of God's disappearance (a theoretical impossibility) has any bearing on the objectivity of His laws. His moral laws are about as subjective as His law of gravity. You may disagree with either, but you will ignore either at your peril."
it has a great bearing because according to you if god disappeared none of those things would exist, which would mean they are not objective as their truth depends on a person for them to sustain
" Aside from the fact that your analogy does not represent the doctrine of the Trinity with even the remotest similarity, you haven't shown the irrationality of the Trinity. What law of logic is being violated? Is something "irrational" simply because it's something we don't normally experience? or because we cannot sufficiently explain it"
Its irrational because it violates the law of idenity and the law of non-contradiction

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: "just because its subject to something doesn't mean you cannot make choices, you believe the will is subject to sin and yet believe people can still make geninue choices, human consciousness might be subject to certian laws but it doesnt mean they cannot make choices within those laws."

Response: Tatsu, you are still avoiding the issue (not to mention borrowing more philosophical capital from Christianity). A "choice" implies a free will, which you have yet to account for. You cannot choose to obey materialistic laws. Otherwise, they aren't laws, but merely conventions


Tatsu no guchi: "it has a great bearing because according to you if god disappeared none of those things would exist, which would mean they are not objective as their truth depends on a person for them to sustain."

Response: You have a strange definition of "subjective". By your standard, existence itself is subjective. In any case, you are correct, that, without God, nothing would exist. That would include the laws of physics. If that makes them "subjective", then so be it.


Tatsu no guchi: "Its irrational because it violates the law of idenity and the law of non-contradiction."

Response: Really? How does three persons within one essence violate the law of identity? Please explain. And please express the alleged contradiction in it's proper form so that we can all clearly see it (P=not P).

And once again, please account for free will and consciousness in a materialistic worldview. We're still waiting...

Tatsu no guchi said...

any ways to clear things up about what ive meant when i said the trinity was irrational

Christianity holds that “God exists as a tri-personality” (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 12). This is known as the doctrine of the Trinity. Consequently, when presuppositionalists claim that logic presupposes the Christian god, they are claiming that logic presupposes this thing which they call “Trinity.” The presuppositionalist claim that logic could not exist without the Christian god, is logically equivalent to the claim that logic could not exist without the Trinity. Now, the notion of the Trinity is perplexing enough by itself. Christian theologians throughout the centuries have tried their best to make sense of the doctrine of the Trinity, but at the end of the day they all seem to finish by throwing up their hands in resignation, only to announce that it's a big “mystery.” To then turn around and claim on top of this that there could be no logic without the existence of the Trinity, stretches credibility to new heights of absurdity.
The question I’ve always had for the doctrine of the Trinity, and one which I’ve not seen the literature address explicitly, is: how many consciousnesses are we talking about? Is the Trinity one consciousness, or three consciousnesses? How could one discover this? Or could it be discovered? Christians tend to claim that they can only know what their god has “revealed” to them about itself, suggesting that one could not discover these things without such spoon-fed information. I have not found any text which directly speaks to this, but it seems a most basic question. Often we see statements to the effect that the Christian god is three unique persons, each one with individual personality traits… Trinity does not mean three gods exist who together make up God. That would be tritheism. God is one…. There is only one God, but within that unity are three eternal and co-equal Persons – all sharing the same essence and substance, but each having a distinct existence… There’s no question that the Trinity is one of the great mysteries of God and the Bible. Yet that should not keep us from trying to understand it and what it means for us. (Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz, Knowing God 101: A Guide to Theology in Plain Language, p. 57)
If “three unique persons” entails three distinct consciousnesses (and why wouldn’t it? Doesn’t a unique “Person” have its own consciousness?), it seems that we are in fact dealing with polytheism. But Christians will vehemently deny this interpretation. As the statement above asserts: “Trinity does not mean three gods exist who together make up God.” But since “God” as such supposedly includes these “three unique persons,” this doctrine suggests that “God” is more than any of its “three unique persons” considered individually. After all, for example, what would the Son be without the Father and the Spirit? But this view is also apparently rejected, for we are told that “each person in the Godhead is both equal to and the same as the others” (Ibid., p. 58). What’s more, “each Person in the Trinity is equal to God,” such that:

Yahweh the Father is God

Jesus the Son is God

The Holy Spirit is God

Given that the members of the Trinity are “unique persons,” and each of these members is equated with “God,”

Tatsu no guchi said...

part 2

But no, you insist that the Christian god is only one god: “Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Deut. 6:4).

Let’s see if some other statements can help clarify the matter. Regarding the so-called “Trinitarian” nature of the Christian god, John Frame explains:
the Christian God is a three in one. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is only one God… But the Father is God…, the Son is God…, and the Spirit is God… Somehow they are three, and somehow they are one. The Nicene Creed says that they are one “being” but three “substances,” or, differently translated, one “substance” and three “persons.” I prefer simply to say “one God, three persons.” The technical terms should not be understood in any precise, descriptive sense. The fact is that we do not know precisely how the three are one and the one is three. We do know that since the three are God, they are equal; for there is no superiority or inferiority within God. To be God is to be superior to everything. All three have all the divine attributes. (Apologetics to the Glory of God, p. 46)

Tatsu no guchi said...

Part 3
Let’s see if some other statements can help clarify the matter. Regarding the so-called “Trinitarian” nature of the Christian god, John Frame explains:the Christian God is a three in one. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is only one God… But the Father is God…, the Son is God…, and the Spirit is God… Somehow they are three, and somehow they are one. The Nicene Creed says that they are one “being” but three “substances,” or, differently translated, one “substance” and three “persons.” I prefer simply to say “one God, three persons.” The technical terms should not be understood in any precise, descriptive sense. The fact is that we do not know precisely how the three are one and the one is three. We do know that since the three are God, they are equal; for there is no superiority or inferiority within God. To be God is to be superior to everything. All three have all the divine attributes. (Apologetics to the Glory of God, p. 46; emphasis added)



So far as I can tell, we’re still faced with the same muddle here. Note that both sources so far consulted confess in one way or another that this doctrine poses stumblingblocks to sense-making. Above we were told that “there’s no question that the Trinity is one of the great mysteries of God and the Bible,” and here Frame admits that Christians “do not know precisely how the three are one and the one is three.” When Frame announces that “somehow they are three, and somehow they are one,” he’s essentially telling us that he doesn’t know how they can be both one and three at the same time. But then we’re expected to accept this as knowledge. By suggesting that the difficulty lies in his inability to find the “precise” terms by which this quizzical relationship can be best described, Frame is trying to trivialize the problem: the difficulty is not in describing it with terminological precision, but in reconciling the elements which are said to enjoy a relationship which can only be described in a manner which points to contradiction. One should not be in the habit of accepting contradictions only to say that the contradiction results merely from the inability to find the right terms to describe it. Christians have had 2,000 years to find the right terms, but the problem still persists. Doesn’t that tell us something? Then again, for the religious mind, which opens itself up to accepting absurd notions, this may be seen as unproblematic. But insofar as identifying the proper basis of logic is concerned, the doctrine of the Trinity is a haunting spectre which decisively disqualifies the presuppositionalist claim that the laws of logic "reflect" the Christian god's "nature." The laws of logic definitely do not reflect the nature of something so monstrously irrational as Christianity's doctrine of the Trinity.

Tatsu no guchi said...

part 4

In fact, what we have in the doctrine of the Trinity, as it has been described in the foregoing sources, is a three-fold contradiction. Expressed in terms of the law of identity, the doctrine of the Trinity reduces to the following formulation:

A is both A (itself) and non-A (more than itself)

This formulation of course is self-contradictory.

When applied to the different members of the Trinity, we then have the following:

A) God is both (i) God the Father (itself) and (ii) the Godhead (more than itself)

B) God is both (i) God the Son (itself) and (ii) the Godhead (more than itself)

C) ) God is both (i) God the Holy Spirit (itself) and (ii) the Godhead (more than itself)
Why?

Because:
God the father is both God the father and more than God the father – i.e., also God the son and God the Holy Ghost. In other words, God the father is both itself and more than itself at the same time. It is both A and more than A.
The same is the case for the other two persons of the trinity.
In conclusion, the doctrine of the Trinity is hopelessly contradictory.
So the presuppositionalist claim that the Christian god is the basis of logic, or that logic reflects the character of the Christian god, apparently rests on ignoring what Christian theology teaches about its own god. For it would have us believe that logic is based on three distinct instances of something being both itself and more than itself at the same time (i.e., for all eternity, since the trinity is supposed to be eternal).


Van Til tells us that “God must always remain mysterious to man” (The Defense of the Faith, p. 14). If this same god is supposed to be the foundation of logic, this would mean that the foundation of logic “must always be mysterious to man.” But why should one accept this? We understand what logic is, what its purpose is, why man needs it, etc. Logic itself is not mysterious in any way. Why should we think its foundation “must always remain mysterious to man”?


Tatsu no guchi said...

"You have a strange definition of "subjective". By your standard, existence itself is subjective"

it is not a strange definition it is that as found in the dictionary, but no existance itself is not subjective because existance exists whether your god exists or not- in other words truth that exists independent of any person or mind, that is what objective means

Tatsu no guchi said...

you see just because you have no choice but to obey a certain law doesn't mean the law cant give YOU choices on how to act

thinkahol said...

"Prove A: God is the precondition of intelligibility.
Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): God is NOT the precondition of intelligibility.
Step 2 (~A--> B): If God is NOT the precondition of intelligibility, then a godless worldview can account for intelligibility.
Step 3 (~B): A godless worldview CANNOT account for intelligibility. (Contradiction!)
Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God is NOT the precondition of intelligibility (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)
Step 5 (A): --> God is the precondition of intelligibility (Law of negation.)
Q.E.A."

So if you thought a godless worldview could account for intelligibility you would abandon your faith?

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

I will deal with the above issues as time permits (there is obviously alot there, so probably in a separate post someday). However, for the purpose of this discussion, I will point out that...

1.) Your "identity" argument fails because it assumes that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all "less" than the Godhead when in fact, the Divine natures of all three are infinite (that's what Divine means). You're argument successfully refutes modalism, not the Trinity. Try again.

BTW: Are you reading Van Til's book, or quoting him from somewhere else? If you are, keep at it. It'll give you plenty more to chew on that what I've offered up.

2.) We cannot know ANYTHING to be objectively true unless God reveals it to us. (All proposed secular epistemologies fail, as I have already pointed out many times.)

3.) One's failure to understand the innerworkings of the Trinity does not make it irrational. One must justify a claim of irrationality, not just merely assert it.

4.) The definition of "objective" that I'm familiar with is that a CONSIDERATION of a truth claim is "not influenced by personal feelings or opinions." You are confusing the consideration of a truth claim (subjective) with the truth itself (objective). Thus, while you may argue that all Christian truth claims are influenced by God's personal opinions, truth itself is not an opinion. God's truth is not subjective, because His "representation" or "consideration" of the facts aren't swayed by His personal opinions. His opinions ARE facts. In other words, God doesn't consider truth (subjective), He establishes truth (objective). Otherwise, there could be no objective facts (and that is a self-contradiction). When God decides that a ball falls to earth at 9.8 m/s2, His decision is not a mere opinion that can be overturned by the idealist who may disapprove. Similarly, when He decides that those who rebel against Him will spend eternity in Hell, it matters not what the Supreme Court says. That which God determines to be fact is fact. (I would also point out that you do believe in objective truth even though your worldview cannot account for it. Again, you are borrowing from a Christian worldview.)

5.) You still have not accounted for consciousness or free will in a materialistic worldview. You're not going to change the subject that easily. We're still waiting...

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: "you see just because you have no choice but to obey a certain law doesn't mean the law cant give YOU choices on how to act."

No Tatsu, I do not see, so I will ask yet again. Either human consciousness and the will are subject to mechanistic laws of nature, or they are free to make decision apart from those impersonal laws. It can't be both. Which is it?

Puritan Lad said...

thinkahol: "So if you thought a godless worldview could account for intelligibility you would abandon your faith?"

That's an interesting hypothetical. I'll give Greg Bahnsen's answer. If there were no rational reason to hold to the Christian faith, I would abandon it.

Tatsu no guchi said...

"Your "identity" argument fails because it assumes that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all "less" than the Godhead when in fact, the Divine natures of all three are infinite (that's what Divine means). You're argument successfully refutes modalism, not the Trinity. Try again."
i did not assume they are all "less"the the Godhead,I assumed that they were equal,if you believe the trinity then you believe that God is both God the father and more than God the father – i.e., also God the son and God the Holy Ghost.AT THE SAME TIME
"would also point out that you do believe in objective truth even though your worldview cannot account for it. Again, you are borrowing from a Christian worldview."
what you said here makes no sense what so ever- it was pointed out to your friend Ron "reformed apologist", you have re-defined objective truth in a way that is absurd, the REAL definition of truth is what conforms to reality reality exists independent of your god and the existence of your god is contingent on reality not vice-versa
" His opinions ARE facts. In other words, God doesn't consider truth (subjective), He establishes truth (objective)"
If truth was established by a mind then ALL truth is subjective! If something is only true because a person no matter how powerful establishes it to be so then it is subjective, no amount of word games can change it Scott
the REAL definition of truth is what conforms to reality the existance of reality is objectively true, so you are saying that God must be outside of reality since he is separate from what he creates and establishes and if he is outside of reality....oops you just refuted yourself, if God's opinions are facts then ALL truth is subjective!
"When God decides that a ball falls to earth at 9.8 m/s2, His decision is not a mere opinion that can be overturned by the idealist who may disapprove"
Well when i decided that I like eating dogs it cannot be merely overturned by the PETA member that may disapprove
"We cannot know ANYTHING to be objectively true unless God reveals it to us"
this is a naked assertion that you cannot prove as you seem to be insisting that one has to either be omniscient (or know someone who is) to be able to know anything - sadly for you this means that he would have to be omniscient to know that the revelation you claims to have had is genuine, as (by your own argument) there could be something else out there that could disprove it
"Similarly, when He decides that those who rebel against Him will spend eternity in Hell,"
btw i must remind you no one is actually "rebelling" against your god even if he did exist, he was the one who "pre-programmed" us to be sinful
"You still have not accounted for consciousness or free will in a materialistic worldview. You're not going to change the subject that easily. We're still waiting..."
I already did many many times, just because you dont want to accept it wont change its truth, but its try it again-we interact with our physical, biological, and social environments on two way streets respectively. Gazelle stotting isn't predictable based on the initial physical arrangement of the gazelle's atoms alone, but can be made sense of through signalling theory (one example of emergence).

Puritan Lad said...

We are way off subject, so I'll separate this out:

Tatsu no guchi: "i did not assume they are all "less"the the Godhead,I assumed that they were equal,"

Response: Let's see. Here is your argument:

"A) God is both (i) God the Father (itself) and (ii) the Godhead (more than itself)"

That assumes that God the Father is less than the Godhead (modalism). The Trinity states that God the Father and the Godhead are equal in essence.


Tatsu no guchi: "if you believe the trinity then you believe that God is both God the father and more than God the father."

Response: No, that's Modalism. Like I said, try again once you learn enough Christian doctrine to actually form a reasonable argument against it.

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: "what you said here makes no sense what so ever- it was pointed out to your friend Ron "reformed apologist", you have re-defined objective truth in a way that is absurd, the REAL definition of truth is what conforms to reality reality exists independent of your god and the existence of your god is contingent on reality not vice-versa."

Response: Why is my definition of truth absurd? Aside from your unsubstantiated claims about reality and God, you are once again attempting to place qualitative values upon that which is subject to material laws. Can you prove than reality exists independent of God?


Tatsu no guchi: "If truth was established by a mind then ALL truth is subjective! If something is only true because a person no matter how powerful establishes it to be so then it is subjective, no amount of word games can change it Scott".

Response: I have already refuted this in my previous post. A mind considering truth cannot be confused with truth itself. I'll let my previous argument stand on it's own merits.


Tatsu no guchi: "the REAL definition of truth is what conforms to reality the existance of reality is objectively true, so you are saying that God must be outside of reality since he is separate from what he creates and establishes and if he is outside of reality....oops you just refuted yourself, if God's opinions are facts then ALL truth is subjective!"

Response: Tatsu, you would do well to concentrate on defending your own worldview. This is the third time that you've erected a Christian strawman and then refuted it. First with free will and Calvinism, then with the Trinity and Modalism, and now with transcendence vs. immanence. All in an effort to try and change the subject avoid the clear Kantian Contradiction in materialism. See below:


Tatsu no guchi: "this is a naked assertion that you cannot prove as you seem to be insisting that one has to either be omniscient (or know someone who is) to be able to know anything - sadly for you this means that he would have to be omniscient to know that the revelation you claims to have had is genuine, as (by your own argument) there could be something else out there that could disprove it."

Response: I didn't merely assert it. I proved it via Modus Tollens, as well as establishing that there is no "neutral" territory in this debate. We either begin with God and have a basis for logic, knowledge, rationality, inductive reasoning, morality, etc., or we begin with "no god" and end up lost in the Kantian Contradiction.


Tatsu no guchi: "I already did [account for consciousness or free will in a materialistic worldview] many many times, just because you dont want to accept it wont change its truth, but its try it again-we interact with our physical, biological, and social environments on two way streets respectively. Gazelle stotting isn't predictable based on the initial physical arrangement of the gazelle's atoms alone, but can be made sense of through signalling theory (one example of emergence)."

Response: With all due respect, that sounds like a bunch of psychobabble to me. Nonetheless, I'll give it a whirl. What are these "two way streets"? Are that material in nature or immaterial? How is the signalling theory free of materialistic laws in a materialistic universe?

If this is the best that you can come up with, I rest my case.

Tatsu no guchi said...



"That assumes that God the Father is less than the Godhead (modalism). The Trinity states that God the Father and the Godhead are equal in essence."
you made it even worse and dug yourself a deeper hole now its even more contradictory and absurd if they are equal in essence ive found a picture that supposedly describes the trinity in a traditional fashion with "a" being
http://rationalwiki.org/w/images/d/d8/LTri.png
"The Father is God"
"The Son is God"
"The Holy Spirit is God"
"God is the Father"
"God is the Son"
"God is the Holy Spirit"
"The Father is not the Son"
"The Son is not the Father"
"The Father is not the Holy Spirit"
"The Holy Spirit is not the Father"
"The Son is not the Holy Spirit"
"The Holy Spirit is not the Son"
the statements 1-6 can be restated as follows:

God = Father
God = Son
God = Holy Spirit

while the statements 6-12 can be restated as:

Father ≠ Son
Father ≠ Holy Spirit
Son ≠ Holy Spirit

Conventional logic says that equality is transitive Let's start from one of the "is not" relations.

Father ≠ Son

Now let's substitute the left side with the statement "God = Father":

God ≠ Son

and then substitute the right side with "God = Son":

God ≠ God

Further application of transitivity leads to the following statements:

Son ≠ Son
Father ≠ Father
Holy Spirit ≠ Holy Spirit

We conclude that God is not God, and so the doctrine of the Trinity implies that God as well as all three persons of the Trinity violate the law of identity. One of the fundamental assumptions of conventional logic is that objects that violate the law of identity do not exist: there is no entity that is not itself. This means several things:

If Trinity is true, then God does not exist, and neither do any of his three persons.
If God exists, then by the law of noncontradiction Trinity is a false doctrine.
If God exists and Trinity is true, it can mean two things:
Logic is meaningless, because it is possible to prove anything, including the existence and the non-existence of God.
Trinity means something else than its Christian definition.

Tatsu no guchi said...

"Can you prove than reality exists independent of God?"
too easy- if reality doesn't exist God wouldn't either because God is a part of reality (if he exists) Which means that god's existence is contingent on reality not vice versa

" I have already refuted this in my previous post. A mind considering truth cannot be confused with truth itself. "
You have refuted nothing, i did not confuse anything, the thing is you see you have re-defined subjective in a way to suit your needs.Again if God is the only one that establishes truth then its all subjective because the objectivity of truth is something that is independent of any mind.
"truth itself is not an opinion"
its not but your definition of truth turns it into opinion

Tatsu no guchi said...

" With all due respect, that sounds like a bunch of psychobabble to me. Nonetheless, I'll give it a whirl. What are these "two way streets"? Are that material in nature or immaterial? How is the signalling theory free of materialistic laws in a materialistic universe?"
the point was that not everything we do is dependent on physical arrangement of the gazelle's atoms and genes alone, the arrangement of these genes opens one's consciousness to choices WITHIN the confines of various laws

Tatsu no guchi said...

btw the definition of objective i am using is the one found in philosophy something is objective truth if it is "mind-independent"—that is, existing freely or independently from a mind (from the thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc. of a sentient subject).

Tatsu no guchi said...

"This is the third time that you've erected a Christian strawman and then refuted it. First with free will and Calvinism, then with the Trinity and Modalism, and now with transcendence vs. immanence. All in an effort to try and change the subject avoid the clear Kantian Contradiction in materialism."
no straw men, this was just the logical conclusion of you trying to claim reality cannot exist with out your god or that objective truth cant exist without your god, and also no strawmen with free will and Calvinism either as well with modalism vs trinity ( What ive meant by the Godhead was all three members of the trinity at once)which is more then God the Father only. It was not done to try and change the subject but to highlight the absurdities in your arguements

Puritan Lad said...

Oh..you found a picture of the Trinity? and on Rationalwiki nonetheless? In that case... Seriously?

Like I stated before, the Father is the Son is the Holy Spirit in essence, just distinct in personhood. Therefore, your proof fails. We may not normally experience a being who is one in essence with three distinct personhoods, but that does not make it irrational.

You may continue to erect these strawmen, but your objection has been adequately answered. In any case, this is a red herring thrown out by you because you still haven't provided a solution to the Kantian Contradiction.


Your definition of "objective truth" is only valid if you assume that Realism is a valid Epistemology. Not only are you are begging the question, but I have already refuted Materialistic Realism. We obviously have a presuppostional conflict in worldviews, and we can continue to play "word games". However, definitions themselves are mere tautologies with no explanatory value. If the terminology offends you, then I will call it "Absolute (Universal) Revealed Truth" if it makes you feel better. (Revelationalist, like Realist, can invent definitions as well.) Objective truth in a materialistic worldview cannot be justified anyway.

Now back to the question at hand. You wrote: "the point was that not everything we do is dependent on physical arrangement of the gazelle's atoms and genes alone, the arrangement of these genes opens one's consciousness to choices WITHIN the confines of various laws". I will ask once again how you separate one's consciousness from the genetic mechanism that "opens" them up? Is the conscious material in nature or immaterial? This is the 5th or 6th time I've asked you this, and have yet to see even a hint of an answer, only repeated assertions. Please deal with this topic first. Until you do, you have no basis for rational thought or ethics, thus no need to address any other topic.

Abaddon said...

The definition of "objective" that I'm familiar with is that a CONSIDERATION of a truth claim is "not influenced by personal feelings or opinions." You are confusing the consideration of a truth claim (subjective) with the truth itself (objective).
Quixotic, but ok then.

Thus, while you may argue that all Christian truth claims are influenced by God's personal opinions,
No. Christian opinions are made up by Christians. It is their opinions, not any imagined entity.

truth itself is not an opinion. OK.

God's truth is not subjective,Who appointed you the arbiter of the thoughts of any gods?

because His "representation" or "consideration" of the facts aren't swayed by His personal opinions.Now you claim your god has no personal opinions. How do you know this?

His opinions ARE facts. In other words, God doesn't consider truth (subjective),Yet somehow you know what he really meant? So did Harold Camping. Good luck with that.

He establishes truth (objective). Un-evidenced claim.

Otherwise, there could be no objective facts (and that is a self-contradiction).Un-evidenced claim.


When God decides that a ball falls to earth at 9.8 m/s2, His decision is not a mere opinion that can be overturned by the idealist who may disapprove.Two unevidenced claims.

Similarly, when He decides that those who rebel against Him will spend eternity in Hell, it matters not what the Supreme Court says.
I am the gatekeeper. I decide.

That which God determines to be fact is fact.
Un-evidenced claim.

(I would also point out that you do believe in objective truth even though your worldview cannot account for it. Again, you are borrowing from a Christian worldview.)And a final flourish with flat out wrong.

Puritan Lad said...

Abaddon,

To answer your objections:

Who appointed you the arbiter of the thoughts of any gods?
No one. God himself is the arbiter of his own thoughts.

Now you claim your god has no personal opinions

No, I never said this.

somehow you know what he really meant? So did Harold Camping. Good luck with that.

Non-sequitir. Harold Camping has nothing to do with this. We know what God meant because he has made it clear.


Un-evidenced claim...Un-evidenced claim...Un-evidenced claim...

Not so. There is plenty of evidence for these claims in Scripture. The fact that you reject the evidence does not mean that the evidence does not exist.

And a final flourish with flat out wrong.

What is wrong, that you believe in objective truth, or that your worldview cannot account for it? If the former, then your response was self-defeating, since your are claiming that something is "flat out wrong" (is that objectively true? If the latter, then feel free to account for objective truth in a materialistic worldview (once you find a way out of the aforementioned Kantian Contradiction.) I'm still waiting...

Tatsu no guchi said...

"What is wrong, that you believe in objective truth, or that your worldview cannot account for it?"
AGAIN what you said made no sense what so ever -its absolutely absurd objective truth is just things that are true independent of anyone's mind and thats true for ANY worldview

Puritan Lad said...

You are kidding, right? Ever traveled to the far east? Ever hear of Idealism, Empiricism, Pure Skepticism? What makes your Realism the Default worldview?

Abaddon said...

To answer your objections:

Who appointed you the arbiter of the thoughts of any gods?
No one. God himself is the arbiter of his own thoughts.


Well, start with that. How do you know this?

Were it true then you could not. Yet you claim you do.

Furthermore, your response assumes that there is a god or gods in the first place. You have no evidence for this assumption.

Puritan Lad said...

In any case, back to the subject at hand. How you separate one's consciousness from the genetic mechanism that "opens" them up? Is the conscious material in nature or immaterial? Please answer the question.

Puritan Lad said...

Furthermore, your response assumes that there is a god or gods in the first place. You have no evidence for this assumption.

I beg to differ.

If God has revealed Himself, then He exists.

The problem you have isn't with the evidence (you have the same evidence I have.) What kind of evidence would convince you? I would suggest none.

Abaddon said...

I beg to differ.

If God has revealed Himself, then He exists.


Where would that be that god has revealed himself?

Abaddon said...

The problem you have isn't with the evidence (you have the same evidence I have.) What kind of evidence would convince you? I would suggest none.

So, no evidence at all, then?

Puritan Lad said...

There is no shortage of evidence. We have Moses experience on Mt. Sinai, Isaiah's vision in the temple, and over 500 witnesses to Christ's resurrection for starters. But you didn't answer my question. What kind of evidence do you require?

tatsu no guchi said...

first of all PL the fact that the truth is what conforms to reality the only logically coherent definition of truth, because its absurd to think that anything even your god should take primacy over reality as God cannot exist unless reality exists, and second of all even if what you said about realism and other secular epstomologies where true then there are stll some things you can know for certain beyond a shadow of a doubt
I will answer our objections tomorrow about strawmen and the trinty as well freewill

tatsu no guchi said...

first of all PL the fact that the truth is what conforms to reality the only logically coherent definition of truth, because its absurd to think that anything even your god should take primacy over reality as God cannot exist unless reality exists, and second of all even if what you said about realism and other secular epstomologies where true then there are stll some things you can know for certain beyond a shadow of a doubt
I will answer our objections tomorrow about strawmen and the trinty as well freewill

Puritan Lad said...

Sorry Tatsu, but you aren't going to avoid this issue by trying to establish your worldview as the default. There are at least 5 competing categories of epistemology, why accept Realism as the default? I would suggest that it is absurd to hold that God is dependent upon a separate reality because then He would, by definition, not be God. However, it is fruitless to try and quabble over definitions between workdviews.

In any case, I have, for the sake of argument, accepted your materialistic realism throughout this discussion, and shown it to be absurd. It leads to the Kantian contradiction. If you want to establish Realism as a valid epistemology, then you must somehow justify free will in a materialistic universe (among other things, like how can we know that Realism is true since it is independent of our minds and presumably our senses.) Anyhow, just suggesting that the human conscious is "free to operate within the laws of nature" doesn't cut it. If the conscious is material in nature, then it is not free. If must respond mechanistically to an impersonal stimuli, thus no choice is possible. If it is immaterial in nature, then your epistemology falls apart. So which is it?

You may continue to beat up on imaginary strawmen within Christian doctrine, or back up and try to assert Realism as the default position, all in an effort to avoid the issue. But the question is not going to go away. How you separate one's consciousness from the genetic mechanism that "opens" it up? Is the conscious material in nature or immaterial? Please answer the question before we proceed to anything else.

August said...

Abaddon, why don't you define "evidence" for us?

tatsu, since you insist on reality, why don't you explain how you come to know what reality is? I've read through your posts, and haven't seen you explain that.

Puritan Lad said...

Abaddon,

I removed your previous comment. If you wish to participate in this discussion, please do so without blasphemy. (And if you are trying to be funny, you failed). This is a Christian blog, and I ask you to respect that.

Abaddon said...

I removed your previous comment. If you wish to participate in this discussion, please do so without blasphemy. (And if you are trying to be funny, you failed). This is a Christian blog, and I ask you to respect that.

Is any differing opinion allowed?

Puritan Lad said...

I think Tasty will affirm that it is. You may continue to answer August's questions sans the insults.

August said...

Differing opinion is always welcome. Ad-hominem and other fallacies are not. You seem to just want to bring up some standard objections that have been answered many times. Let's make it easy, why don't you just submit your proof that there is no God.

Puritan Lad said...

I mean Tatsu. Love my phone, hate the spellchecker.

Abaddon said...

I think Tasty will affirm that it is. You may continue to answer August's questions sans the insults.
Feel free to point out any post where I insulted anyone. Bet you can't, because it never happened. Go ahead. I know you won't.

Puritan Lad said...

Carry On Abaddon. You have some questions to answer. I deleted your post for a reason.

Abaddon said...

Carry On Abaddon. You have some questions to answer. I deleted your post for a reason.

I answered. You deleted those because you did not like the answers.

If you want me to answer any questions, it behoves you to respond, not delete. It further behoves you to provide actual answers to the questions posed, not avoid the by means of simply deleting them.

If your god is all you claim it to be, surely you have more than censorship of different opinions to offer, right?

Abaddon said...

Carry On Abaddon. You have some questions to answer. I deleted your post for a reason.

Yet you were unable to provide any reason. Post your reason here.

August said...

So we shall just assume that your answer is one sentence, followed by ad-hominem? When you insult God, you insult Christians. So far all we have seen from you are unsubstantiated assertions, and some petulant child-like behavior.

I'm not sure this discussion is for you.

Puritan Lad said...

Abaddon,

I'm not going to debate you over the proper posting etiquette on my own blog. You know why your post was deleted. To say it was because I disagreed with your answers is disingenuous. Now either carry on with a proper response or ship out.

Abaddon said...

So we shall just assume that your answer is one sentence, followed by ad-hominem? When you insult God, you insult Christians. So far all we have seen from you are unsubstantiated assertions, and some petulant child-like behavior.

I'm not sure this discussion is for you.
Be so kind as to point out any ad hom. You cannot and you know it. That you exercise such censorship simply demonstrates that you have no leg on which to stand.

Abaddon said...

I'm not going to debate you over the proper posting etiquette on my own blog. You know why your post was deleted. To say it was because I disagreed with your answers is disingenuous. Now either carry on with a proper response or ship out.


Nope. What you are stating is that you will not allow any opinion which does not agree with yours. You will further delete any contrary opinions.

You are not seeking discussion. You are seeking abject agreement.


You might believe you can get away with that, but others are watching, and taking notes.

I put it to you. Do you desire discussion, or do you desire an empty echo chamber?

Is your god so weak as to fail at the first hurdle?

August said...

Like I said, this discussion is not for you. I mistakenly believed you were interested in serious discussion, but it seems that is somehow out of reach for you.

I refuse to repeat your deleted statements, as they are nothing substantive, just playground name-calling. This blog will not be a billboard for your anti-Christianity trash-talking. Calling God your cute little made-up names does not constitute an argument, nor does it impress anyone, except maybe those with similar limited reasoning capabilities, and are not worthy of serious consideration, nor an answer. It is clear that you are not intellectually curious or honest enough to engage and maybe be threatened in your beliefs, you just want to play gotcha. We have seen many of your kind over the last few years, and frankly, it is boring to refute the same tired old assertions again and again, as if we have never seen them before.

You have not offered a single argument, you just wish to engage in drive-by statements and playing games. You have repeatedly refused to answer simple questions posed to you, apparently because you can't offer an intelligent answer (if the one liners you offered were any indication). If you are interested in actually offering any arguments, please do so. If not, then I'm sure those who you refer to that are seeing this discussion, will see the level at which you wish to engage, and come to the same conclusion that we do...that you are unwilling or unable to engage in a civil, respectful, intellectual discussion that includes actual arguments.

I will respond when there is something substantive to respond to.

Puritan Lad said...

I think that Tatsu would disagree with you. He has posted tons of contrary opinion and has yet to be censored.

Once more Abaddon, please respond to August's questions in a proper way or move on. Complaining about what I allow here will get you nowhere.

Abaddon said...

I think that Tatsu would disagree with you. He has posted tons of contrary opinion and has yet to be censored.

Once more Abaddon, please respond to August's questions in a proper way or move on. Complaining about what I allow here will get you nowhere.



Once again you fail to define "prpper" response. I am an atheist. How exactly would you expect me to respond?

Abaddon said...

Once more Abaddon, please respond to August's questions in a proper way or move on.

How can I do that if you keep on refusing to define a "proper way"?

Seems to me you are retaining the wheels on the goalposts for your own personal use.

Puritan Lad said...

Try answering questions without calling God names. In case you didn't know, some of us here think pretty highly of the Triune God.

Tatsu no guchi said...

you do realise that you are making this issue of "freewill" far to simplistic right? Daniel Dennett,proved in Freedom evolves that, even machines can have an element of free will,and are they not just fully material things even in your worldview? So if machines can have even a degree of freewill why not people? And secondly i did not "assert" that realism was the default worldview, all i did was tell you that truth is being what conforms to reality the only coherent definition of truth, the presupptionalist trying to claim that only their worldview can account for truth is biting off far more then they can chew and just makes no sense what so ever. Also by the way i check some van til stuff and both he and John Frame said that God cannot be described as three persons with one essence (Van Til: The Theologian, p. 14)

Abaddon said...

Try answering questions without calling God names. In case you didn't know, some of us here think pretty highly of the Triune God.

Why? Your bible does not paint an admirable picture of god.

Tatsu no guchi said...

"Like I stated before, the Father is the Son is the Holy Spirit in essence, just distinct in personhood. Therefore, your proof fails. We may not normally experience a being who is one in essence with three distinct personhoods, but that does not make it irrational."
total red herring,no strawmen has been set up ,my proof does not fail, if they have the same essence then my arguement still applies fully, because the chart i provided shows that they have the same "godly essence" but are different persons and if all three are the same one being with the same essence then they should all be the same person.. but they are not and since they are not it is irrational and i showed you why, just because you wont accept the reality of your irrational trinity doesnt make it go away

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: you do realise that you are making this issue of "freewill" far to simplistic right? Daniel Dennett,proved in Freedom evolves that, even machines can have an element of free will,and are they not just fully material things even in your worldview? So if machines can have even a degree of freewill why not people?"


LOL!!

Did this machine evolve?

Seriously Tatsu, is this what we've come to? I was thinking about letting that argument stand on it's own merits. However, you have my curiosity up. I have no intention of wasting any of my hard-earned salary on anything Daniel Dennett writes. However, since you tell us that he "proved" that machines can have an element of free will, then you've obviously read the book. Please enlighten us. How did Dennett prove this? Was it via logical demonstration? Perhaps he offered some sort of empirical evidence? Some other proof? If Dennett has indeed proven this, then by all means please share the proof rather than merely assert that he has proven this. Until you do so, yo haven't justified your Materialistic Realism in spite of your continued effort to establish it as the default position. (Yes, your definition of objective truth being outside of God's mind is an attempt to establish Realism, like it or not.)

So we'll await your (or Dennett's) proof that free will can evolve and that machines have free will. (What is their will, and what is it "free" from?) In the meantime, I'll watch some old movies about Herbie the Volkswagen and consider the possibilities if what you say is true.

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: ?if all three are the same one being with the same essence then they should all be the same person."

That's what you need to prove, not merely assert. As I said before, just because we don't normally experience something does not make that something irrational. Try again.

Tatsu no guchi said...

No sorry buddy my definition of objective truth is the only one that is logically coherent it's not an attempt to establish realism as th only true worldview , in case you haven't noticed yet your definition of objective truth is self refuting , it would destroy your worldview right out of the starting gate! This is not squabbling over definitions between worldviews it's showing that your definition of truth is incoherent, I have for the sake of argument accepted your worldview to be true and shown that it is absurd! You destroy your own worldview by claing that
truth and your god is not contigent on reality! And drive yourself into absurdity

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

You haven't shown how anything in Revelational Epistemology is self-refuting, only that it doesn't meet your personal fancies.

See Realism Refuted

However, I'm willing to let the reader decide if you've proven anything at all, or if you are trying to establish your worldview as the default by definition. (If God is "contingent" upon anything, then He is, by definition, not God.) In the meantime, you have to proof to show us concerning free will in evolution and in machines. Please comply.

Tatsu no guchi said...

"You haven't shown how anything in Revelational Epistemology is self-refuting, only that it doesn't meet your personal fancies."
if by personal fancies you mean reality then yes- again by trying to say God has primacy over literally everything is self-refuting. I saw your blogpost, but the thing is even if your strawman was correct,there are still certain things we know for certain in the worldview of realism but however the thing before i anwser your request is are you willing to watch boring videos of an old man droning on for hours about a subject that even i can barely understand ?

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

Fortunately this is slow week at work due to the holidays, because discussing anything with you is like pulling teeth. You simply don't answer questions, even after they have been proposed to you multiple times. Instead, you continue to try and establish Realism as the default worldview, complain when I don't accept your default worldview, and then try to muddy the waters by erecting strawmen based upon bad theology. Please try and concentrate on the task as hand.

There are five major categories of Epistemology, though many subcategories. They are Materialistic Realism, Idealism, Empiricism, Skepticism, and Christianity. On what authority will you value Realism above all others? Just stating that "my definition of objective truth is the only one that is logically coherent" doesn't cut it. Aside the fact that you cannot justify Realism since, by definition, it exists outside the human mind, you still haven't resolved the Kantian Contradiction. Until you do so, your worldview is not "logically coherent". If you want to establish Realism as a valid epistemology, much less the default one, then you must resolve this contradiction. Otherwise, your worldview is irrational, and further attempts to establish it by default will be fruitless.

In Christianity, God is the source of all reality. If that definition is indeed "self-refuting" as you have charged, then please provide the contradiction in it's proper form so that we all may see it.

You have an important task to perform, so try and concentrate. You have asserted that free will can (and has) evolved, and that even machines are not purely mechanistic, but have some element of free will. You said that Daniel Dennett has proven this. If you can thus supply us with this proof, and if this proof is indeed valid, then you are well on your way to justifying Realism. This is your task at hand.

I'm not really interested in long boring videos, but I'll consider them. In any case, you made the assertion, it is up to you to provide the proof. we're still waiting...

Tatsu no guchi said...

Daniel Dennett lecture on "Free Will" (Edinburgh University): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKLAbWFCh1E

Freewill as moral competence, (Dennett): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwbnGqOrAEM

Daniel Dennett - "Free will, determinism and evolution": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrCZYDm5D8M

I hope you enjoy wasting your time.... but even i doubt someone like you on a slow week like this one would spend so much time on Dennett Videos
Dennett on "Free will and evolution": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZhuaxZX5mc

"Dennett on "Freewill and determinism": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrCZYDm5D8M

Dennett - "Consciousness and free will: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4Ag7wbr2HI

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

Obviously, this will take me some time. While I peruse these, can you summarize the proof for us?

I'll comment on these in due time.

Tatsu no guchi said...

also even if what you said about atheism was true-so what? even if free will is just a mere illusion it doesnt mean athiesm is not true, it might mean you will never accept it as true, but not that its not true

"Aside the fact that you cannot justify Realism since, by definition, it exists outside the human mind"
this statement does not make any sense what so ever a thinking mind must have some connection to the reality it exists in if not soley due to the fact that its thinking

"Just stating that "my definition of objective truth is the only one that is logically coherent" doesn't cut it.
its irrelevant of whether realism is true or provable for that matter,but only the definition of truth i provided is coherent, you might act otherwise but deep down you KNOW that your definition of truth is unworkable, besides i dont see how adopting my definition of what truth is will automatically negate the existance of your worldview

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: "also even if what you said about atheism was true-so what? even if free will is just a mere illusion it doesn't mean atheism is not true, it might mean you will never accept it as true, but not that its not true."

Response: Perhaps. However, the free will issue isn't only one of your problems. You also have to justify the other "upper story" knowledge elements of Kant such as intelligible experience, rational thought, consciousness, human dignity, justice, ethics, etc. All of these face the same problem as free will. In a materialistic universe, they are merely the result of impersonal mechanistic laws and can have no qualitative value. Do you really want to go down that road? No reason to discuss or think about anything.


Tatsu no guchi: "a thinking mind must have some connection to the reality it exists in if not solely due to the fact that its thinking."

Response: But one cannot, by definition, think or know anything outside of it's mind. See the problem.


Tatsu no guchi: "its irrelevant of whether realism is true or provable for that matter,but only the definition of truth i provided is coherent, you might act otherwise but deep down you KNOW that your definition of truth is unworkable, besides i don't see how adopting my definition of what truth is will automatically negate the existence of your worldview."

Response: It's not about whether or not it will negate my worldview, but rather or not it is logically coherent. If you really wish to adhere to your first statement, then I rest my case. There can be no right or wrong opinions, since both are merely the result of biological laws acting upon matter. Thus you have no basis for making moral judgments or even judgments about people's thoughts.

BTW: I picked up a little 10 minute segment on free will and determinism by Daniel Dennett. As you may expect, I'm not impressed. (Aside from being viciously circular, I have yet to see this "proof".) Will respond more later.

Tatsu no guchi said...

" There can be no right or wrong opinions, since both are merely the result of biological laws acting upon matter. Thus you have no basis for making moral judgments or even judgments about people's thoughts."
fallacy of division, i guess its impossible for presupptionalist to ever escape this trap they does themselves into....so according to you there is no difference between a car and a scrap pile of tin after all they are both metal

" I picked up a little 10 minute segment on free will and determinism by Daniel Dennett. As you may expect, I'm not impressed"
thats because you dont like it,there is no such thing as "viciously circular" its just a nonsensical term that people like you invented so you can have an excuse in continue to beg the question and make it look legit

"But one cannot, by definition, think or know anything outside of it's mind."
not exactly.... for example any thinking mind that is not your god know its not your god....

" You also have to justify the other "upper story" knowledge elements of Kant such as intelligible experience, rational thought, consciousness, human dignity, justice, ethics, etc. "
all been done before many many times.. by the way i might add there can be no human dignity if Christanity was true

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: "fallacy of division, i guess its impossible for presupptionalist to ever escape this trap they does themselves into....so according to you there is no difference between a car and a scrap pile of tin after all they are both metal."

Response: There you go again Tatsu, trying to dodge the issue. There is no fallacy here. The difference between a car and a scrap pile of tin is teleological. The car was designed for a purpose by an intelligible person. You're failure to explain free will in a non-teleological world does not require that I hand you this as a philosophical freebie. When you appeal to free will, you are borrowing philosophical capital from my worldview. You are appealing to God's Creative Attributes and Providence in order to form an argument against God's existence. That is irrational.


Tatsu no guchi: "thats because you dont like it [Dennett's Video],there is no such thing as "viciously circular" its just a nonsensical term that people like you invented so you can have an excuse in continue to beg the question and make it look legit"

Response: Want to know something funny? I was just mentioning this tactic to my fellow bloggers. Since Tatsu is unable to justify free will in his worldview, how long will it take for him to post links, claim that the proof is somewhere in there, and chastise me for not understanding it (or liking it in your case?) There is a difference between broadly and viciously circular arguments. Everyone uses broadly circular arguments to answer questions like "Is my mind reliable?" To deny this is silly. Viciously circular means assuming the consequence in the antecedent in order to justify the consequence.

In any case, even if you reject this distinction, Dennett's argument is circular by any definition. He appeals to "avoidability" (and I would suggest it is "perceived avoidability") as the foundation for free will in an evolutionary worldview. But "avoidability" assumes free will to be true. Therefore one cannot appeal to avoidability in order to justify free will.

Check your third statement. I can't make any sense out of it. "not exactly.... for example any thinking mind that is not your god know its not your god...."

Tatsu no guchi: "all [Justification of the "upper story" knowledge elements of Kant such as intelligible experience, rational thought, consciousness, human dignity, justice, ethics, etc. has] been done before many many times."

Response: In that case, you should have no problem presenting that proof here. Please comply. If there is proof in these videos, please present it here. Thanks.

DannyM said...

Tatsu,

Where's the proof from Dennett's 'Freedom Evolved'? Why are you posting multiple videos that you claim you don't even understand? How can you understand the book if you can't understand the videos? Have you read the book?

Tatsu no guchi said...

"you're failure to explain free will in a non-teleological world does not require that I hand you this as a philosophical freebie. When you appeal to free will, you are borrowing philosophical capital from my worldview. You are appealing to God's Creative Attributes and Providence in order to form an argument against God's existence"
Iam SO GLAD you brought that up, philisophical captial fro my our worldview ha! dont count on it, first of all all you do is add "soul" into the mix and you still have the same problem- you can only do what God had programmed you to do, in other words all of your behaviour whether its "sinful" or not is preprogrammed God is said to be omniscient, and this poses a special problem for free will: if God knows the future, that means that the future is predictable and immutable. This, in turn, means that our actions are predetermined. We may have pondered long and hard over which action to take, but the very act of pondering is as predictable as the execution of a complex computer program.

Note that this reasoning also applies to God: if God is omniscient, then he knows what he will do, and must inevitably do what he already knows he will do.

Some apologists argue that since God exists outside of time, he can have knowledge of everything that has and will be done without predetermination. An apologist might explain the situation in this way: Suppose Tom knows Susy quite well — so well that he knows if she sees a homeless man by the bus station, she will give him any change she has in her purse. However, even though Tom knows Susy will do this, she doesn't do it because Tom knows she will do it, but because she was going to do it anyway. Tom simply had the knowledge that she would do it. The difference between Tom and God, they say, is that God knows people better than they know themselves (being their creator), and so he knows, on a deeper level than Tom, just what Susy will decide to do in a given situation--again, not that Susy does it because God knows she will do it, but she does it regardless because that's what she decided to do.

Nevertheless, God's omnipotence causes the analogy to break down. If God has perfect knowledge of what will happen without his intervention, and his intervention is guaranteed to bring about a different result, then God has absolute control over what will happen. By refusing to intervene, God has effectively chosen the course of action. Also, Christian doctrine implies that God created both Tom and Susy while knowing everything that they would do in advance.
as for your comments on free will, you seem to be that determinism (a cause mechanistically producing an effect) is not the same as inevitability.for example from from baseball a batter has a choice of turning away from a pitch that is going to hit him or allowing it to hit him, depending on which action will help his team. His action is not determined by the prior history of the universe, but by his own analysis in the moment. In a different game, he might make a different choice. as for aviodability you should have kept watching the view that, although in the strict physical sense our actions might be determined, we can still be free in all the ways that matter, because of the abilities we evolved. Free will, seen this way, is about freedom to make decisions without duress (and so is a version of Kantian positive practical free will, i.e., Kantian autonomy), as opposed to an impossible and unnecessary freedom from causality itself. To clarify this distinction, he coins the term 'evitability' as the opposite of 'inevitability', defining it as the ability of an agent to ANTICPATE likely consequences and act to avoid undesirable ones

DannyM said...

Tatsu,

You are the master of the informal fallacy known as Bare Assertion. You substantiate nothing! Do you think saying, 'and by the way there would be no human dignity if Christianity was true' makes you sound 'knowledgable' or something? Or is it your intent to move from unsubstatiated assertion to unsubstantiated assertion so as to clutter up the debate? Or is it merely coincidental that you throw out bare assertions when unable to defend the previous assertion?

But you shoot yourself in the foot every time! For now we have 'human dignity' on the table. Yet another connundrum for the atheist! How does one go about establishing dignity in an atheistic universe inherently devoid of any meaning? You may assert you have meaning, but then you fly in the face of consistent atheism and consistent atheists who have recognised this.

Tatsu no guchi said...

"Why are you posting multiple videos that you claim you don't even understand? How can you understand the book if you can't understand the videos? Have you read the book?"
I said I BARELY understand... there is a big difference between not understand and BARELY understanding, but to tell you the truth i dont really have a postion on free will vs determinism, but since Puritan lad brought it up, i suppose i need to defend a position for this conversation to be meaningful

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu no guchi: "His action is not determined by the prior history of the universe, but by his own analysis in the moment."

Response: That, Tatsu, is what you have to prove, not merely assert. How are these actions free from the biochemical forces that govern them?

Or to revert back to the related issue that we've been discussing. Where is the proof for the evolution of free will? You can throw all kinds of other stuff in here, but that question is not going to go away. Still waiting for your proof...


Tatsu no guchi: "truth i don't really have a position on free will vs determinism, but since Puritan lad brought it up, i suppose i need to defend a position for this conversation to be meaningful."

Response: In theory, you may be correct. But in practice, you do take a position on free will. That is, in effect, the Kantian Contradiction.

Tatsu no guchi said...

"You may assert you have meaning, but then you fly in the face of consistent atheism and consistent atheists who have recognised this."
i never asserted that i have meaning- but that if Christianity was true we would have LESS meaning

"Or is it merely coincidental that you throw out bare assertions when unable to defend the previous assertion?"
not bare assertions but proven facts, it seems that when the presupptionalist's worldview is being attacked they struggle to defend it, in fact the only real way to utterly defeat the presupp in an arguement is to constantly attack their basis for knowledge and everything else and ignore their attacks on your own worldview by telling them that since their worldview is inconsistant and with a broken foundation they cannot attack your worldview as they havent proven they have the foundation to attack!

DannyM said...

Tatsu,

You 'barely' understanding is as good as not understanding the position. And it CERTAINLY blows away your own claim that Dennett PROVED free will evolves and machines 'have an element of free will' since YOU can have no way of knowing this when you *barely understand' the position Dennett is espousing!

You've exposed your own desperation and ignorance.

Perhaps you *read* somewhere that Dennett had 'proved' his position?

But this just about sums up your modus operandi, Tatsu. You throw out wild, mainly second-hand claims, do diddly to defend them, and all with an absurdly misguided air of having 'settled' the issues. Amateur night in Dixie, really, pal.

DannyM said...

LOL. So there is no meaning, but if Christianity were true, there'd be EVEN LESS meaning than no meaning?

Tatsu, can you divulge for us what less meaning than no meaning, erm, means, ecactly?

And Tatsu, where's Dennett's 'proof' located, exactly?

DannyM said...

Tatsu,

What 'proven facts' would these be, then? Your assertions and arguments from analogy?

Tatsu admits to ignoring all attacks on his world-view. He concedes he is not interested in shaping-up and examining the real issues at hand. Evidently Tatsu thinks this coupled with playground shouting passes as intelligent discussion. Sadly, an indictment of the modern 'New,' unthinking atheism.

Tatsu no guchi said...

"You've exposed your own desperation and ignorance."
this is why i enjoy posting on your blog Danny, and why you are my favorite character on this blog

"Amateur night in Dixie, really, pal."
yes indeed Danny indeed

DannyM said...

Tatsu,

Since you concede there is no meaning, why are you, as an evolved primate, here battling for an opinion that means nothing?

Tatsu no guchi said...

"Tatsu admits to ignoring all attacks on his world-view. He concedes he is not interested in shaping-up and examining the real issues at hand."
well thats what Greg Bahnsen did so i dont see why I cant do it too, and I have examined real issues at hand and found them to be solved

"LOL. So there is no meaning, but
if Christianity were true, there'd be EVEN LESS meaning than no meaning?

Tatsu, can you divulge for us what less meaning than no meaning, erm, means, ecactly?"
what ive meant is that you are just fire wood for the eternal BBQ pit if you are correct (except for a lucky few like yourself and Scott of course)

DannyM said...

Tatsu,

1. This is not my blog it is Puritan Lad's blog.

2. Your response gives new meaning to the phrase 'going out with a whimper.'

Tatsu no guchi said...

"Since you concede there is no meaning, why are you, as an evolved primate, here battling for an opinion that means nothing?"

Because presupptionalists are arrogant need to be brought down and exposed

this is a thought experiment that i wanted to have, i wanted to see how would a dominionist presupptionalist would react to certain arguments and well you more or less just said the things i expected you to

DannyM said...

Tatsu,

1. Bahnsen gave a defence as well as an attack, so your claim is false.

2. What if Bahnsen *did* ignore attacks? Are we back at school? Can't you think for yourself?

3. So what if we are arrogant? Is it 'wrong' to be arrogant? On what grounds do we need to be 'brought down a level'? Are you not being arrogant when you say you are ignoring our attacks?

4. Is your 'thought experiment' merely to meet arrigance with arrogance and the ignoring of attacks of Greg Bahnsen with the ignoring of attacks of your own, despite the fact the Greg Bahnsen isn't either with us or on this blog debating the issues? How does this give me hope that your 'thought experiment' is well-thought-out?

5. On what authority would we need taking down a peg? Are your beliefs about this authoritative? How authoritative? More authoritative than mine? Are the neurons in your brain that produced the thoughts that produced your beliefs wearing yellow hats tthat are more authoritative than the blue hats of my poor neurons?

6. Could you please, for the love of all that is sane, put some more thought into your next thought experiment.

August said...

"in fact the only real way to utterly defeat the presupp in an arguement is to constantly attack their basis for knowledge and everything else and ignore their attacks on your own worldview by telling them that since their worldview is inconsistant and with a broken foundation they cannot attack your worldview as they havent proven they have the foundation to attack!"

This is the money quote. You can "tell" all you want, but you have proven nothing. I have not seen a single logical proof here that would even begin to achieve what you claim.

But you are also being hoisted on your own petard here, if you want to attack our worldview, you have to first establish yours as valid, or else the same argument applies to you.

Ignoring the need for you to establish your worldview as valid just means that that you are intellectually dishonest, and your arguments become nothing but ad-hominem.

I look forward to your proof of your epistemology and ontology, but won't be holding my breath.

"Because presupptionalists are arrogant need to be brought down and exposed"

If that was your objective, you have failed miserably, unless you mean by "exposed", that the weakness of your arguments have been shown. Still waiting for you to answer the question I asked you above, btw. How do you come to know reality?

Unfortunately, like most atheists, you do not engage, you hover on the peripheries of the discussion, do not take a strong defensible position on anything, and in general do not provide valid logical arguments for your position, just drive-by assertions interspersed with barely disguised personal attacks. Whenever a weakness in your position is pointed out, you either repeat your assertions, or you run from it.

I would challenge you to provide some real proof or arguments that you see has solved "issues", from your own thoughts and conclusions, not quote mining Dennett et al.

Puritan Lad said...

Tatsu,

If you are going to make claims like...

"Daniel Dennett,proved in Freedom evolves that, even machines can have an element of free will,and are they not just fully material things even in your worldview"

and...

"the [justification] the other "upper story" knowledge elements of Kant such as intelligible experience, rational thought, consciousness, human dignity, justice, ethics, etc. all [have] been done before many many times"

Then it falls to you to provide this proof. I'm not very optimistic, however, that you will ever provide this.

Abaddon said...

Then it falls to you to provide this proof. I'm not very optimistic, however, that you will ever provide this.

Ironic, Given you have no proof at all for the existence of any god/s.

Puritan Lad said...

Abaddon,

I certainly have, though I'll give you a pass due to the number of replies in this thread.

See My Proof Here

In any case, you haven't yet answered my original question. What kind of evidence do you require?

Abaddon said...

In any case, you haven't yet answered my original question. What kind of evidence do you require?

Any evidence at all. How many times must I answer the same question? Is it that you think that somehow my answer will be different the next time you ask the very same question?

You have none. Else you would have at least attempted to provide it by now. Yet you have not.

Oh, and linking to a blog chain? That is not evidence of anything other than blogs exist.

Post your own verifiable evidence here and now, in your own words.

Puritan Lad said...

Well, I provided you with historical and empirical evidence, and you rejected those. So, seriously, what kind of evidence would convince you? Perhaps logical demonstration?

Since you don't like the link I provided (which was an earlier comment in this post), I'll repeat my proof here for your benefit.

P1: If humans can obtain knowledge, then God exists, since God is the precondition of human knowledge.

P2: Human can obtain knowledge.

Conclusion: God exists.

DannyM said...

Abaddon,

You understand that 'proof' and 'evidence' are two different things, right? Whenever I see the atheist use the two terms interchangably in quick succession, alarm bells start to ring. This is only intensified when the same atheist proceeds to assert, 'You have [no evidence].'

You might want to look to look more into the term 'evidence' to see what you are missing out on. There are different categories of evidence. And lo behold, there is plenty of evidence for the Christian God. You just don't like the evidence.

But guess what, Abaddon? Your rejection of the evidence does not affect or change in any way the nature of that evidence.

Tony J said...

so then you folk here not only seem quite certain of your arguements and how great they are, but also seem more intelligent then most christians that have appeared on the fundamentally flawed podcast, so i am wondering are any of you guys DannyM, Puritan Lad, or August willing to appear on the podacst?

Puritan Lad said...

Tony,

That may be in order for some future endeavor, but for now, I would rather have such discussions here. Feel free to chime in.

Tony J said...

so then is the apolgetic method christians call presupptionalism which seems to be what you are pushing on our blog associated with calvinism? as in would an arminian be inconsistent and inchoerent in his/her theology if he/she was also a presupptionalist? is it like a package deal that comes with calvinisitic thinking?

Puritan Lad said...

Good Question. Most of those who call themselves "Arminians" today usually aren't true Arminians (ie. they do believe in the substitutionary atonement of Christ, whereas true Arminianism denies this). Typical American Evangelicalism (I'll let Danny speak for the UK) takes some sort of semi-pelagianism, but is full of inconsistencies. For example, they pray for God to save their lost loved ones while at the same time teaching that God cannot save them against their will.

So I would not be surprised to learn that there are some Arminian Presuppositionalists, though I'm not familiar with any. That said, Presuppositional Apologetics are not consistent with Arminian doctrine. The heart of Presuppositionalism is that the human mind is incapable of any meaningful activity outside of the Creative Attributes and Providence of God. Arminianism, however, teaches that man has a will that is free from such Providence.

Hope that answers the question.

Tony J said...

well actually i found a person whom claims to be a presupptionalst apologist and a pelagian which just is plain head straching, but any ways so a consistent arminian like let's say Josh Mcdowell or Lee Strobel MUST present me with evidence and more evidence right?

State of Head said...

The problem with many theistic arguments put forth above is that their particular flavour of theism has granted them explanatory closure on: who created the universe, what is ultimate morality, what is the nature of mind etc. From this supposed monopoly of truth their metaphysics is cast, and hence easy to target methodological naturalism which, although does not offer explanatory closure (it is too honest to make false claims), does offer an accurate rendering of reality.

However, we can step further back and see the supposed "accounts" of theistic arguments should not be accepted so lightly. If we construct an account of reality, we have an inventory of things we "take off the shelf" to provide the explanation. But theists "take off the shelf" things like the supernatural and supernatural causation. So I say "hang on...how do we know they are available to use as explanations?".

In constructing a rendering of reality, it is better to have an incomplete working hypothesis that is albeit accurate; rather than a fantasy that otherwise offers explanatory closure and then used for cute armchair arguments that should not impress anyone intellectually honest enough to see the con.

If you can provide theistic accounts, and you ask "what evidence" would impress an atheist: well we can get 2 for the price of 1 - where is the evidence of supernatural causation?