The following discussion took place due to my video Example of why John Loftus is Atheism’s weird creepy drunken uncle, when all segments are posted you will be able to find them all here.
A certain Tom Paine commented
If you hypothetically wind time backwards, according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, you would have ever decreasing entropy. Eventually you would reach a minimum entropy condition, that is, the “singularity.” Since you cannot have any lower entropy state, then this theoretically is a limit to the regression of time in the past. This points to the possibility of the universe having a temporally beginning as a matter of physical necessity.
Philosophically, if we accept the logical impossibility of actual infinities and infinite regress, then the universe would also have a temporal beginning as a matter of logical necessity. Further, the impossibility of infinite regress suggests that it is logically necessary that an uncaused cause exists. Given all of this I would posit that given what we know about the universe, the most reasonable candidate for the uncaused cause is the physical singularity itself and there is no more necessity for a naturalist to give any further explanation as to where this uncaused cause originated from or why it exists than there is for a theist to explain where God came from or why God exists.
This naturalistic hypothesis has an advantage over the theistic hypothesis (Supernatural agent as uncaused cause) in that it it is more parsimonious. Occam’s razor suggests not multiplying entities or increasing the complexity of explanations beyond need. It makes little sense to posit an unknown and mysterious supernatural agent in order to explain the existence of a known entity such as the physical universe even if the nature of the universe itself is admittedly still quite mysterious. Note: This is not saying the universe popped into being from nothing, because there was no time prior to the temporal beginning of the universe at which the universe did not exist. There was no time at which nothing existed in order for anything to pop out of it.
Given all that, this belief is obviously more reasonable than the belief that the universe began to exist five minutes ago with the appearance of being billions of years old. The former hypothesis is based reasonably on the extrapolation of time back to a minimum entropy state of the universe that would reasonably represent the initial condition of the universe, since according to the 2nd law of thermo dynamics we can infer that no earlier point in time could possibly exist. In other words there is good reason to think the universe would have, perhaps necessarily began in that way. There is no good reason to think the universe would have begun in the latter manner.
I, Ken Ammi, replied:
Admirable attempt but you did run ruff shot over some points and moved the goalpost as well.
Parsimony is something quite subjective when it comes to such abstract considerations for example, you note to “not multiplying entities or increasing the complexity of explanations BEYOND NEED” but you are assuming that the singularity is the uncaused first eternal cause which therefore, requires nothing beyond it.
You say “This is not saying the universe popped into being from nothing” but that is exactly what Big Bang cosmogony is premised upon.
Now, even if the singularity is the uncaused first eternal cause: does eternal stasis suddenly accidentally result in a fine tuned universe?
Since, on your view, the singularity is itself the uncaused cause then “the most reasonable candidate for the uncaused cause” cannot be “the physical singularity itself” since in order to cause itself if would have to preexist its own existence.
You then shift to “the physical universe” by noting, “It makes little sense to posit an unknown and mysterious supernatural agent,” then why does it make sense to posit an unknown and mysterious agent that is also supernatural, yet non-personal which I think is that which you seek in all of this, since it preexisted the natural: the universe.
But is this supernatural agent unknown and mysterious? If I may, we know now finally know that the universe is a time, space, matter continuum. The Bible’s very first statement is “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Now, read it again thusly, “In the beginning [time], God created the heavens [space] and the earth [matter]” so that in one single sentence, we already have a basic cosmology.
Now again, “In the beginning, God [a preexisting being] created [volitionally acted out a plan] the heavens and the earth” so we have a basic theology: the universe’s creator is personal and mind-full.
Again, “In the beginning, God [so being beyond/outside of/transcendent of time: God is timeless or eternal] created [possibly requiring omnipotence and omniscience] the heavens [so God is not subject to locality: omnipresent] and the earth [so God is not subject to physicality: is spirit].”
So, even restricting ourselves to one single sentence, we find out quite a bit about a supposedly unknown and mysterious being who turns out to be personal, intelligent, omnipresent, perhaps omnipotent and omniscient, is not subject to the continuum, etc.
Well, I might just return your compliment, nice attempt, but you missed an important point. I am NOT saying the universe popped into being out of nothing, because that implies a time before which the universe existed when it did not exist, but that is precluded in my hypothesis. Not only is there no time before the beginning of the universe when it did not exist, it may very well be both logically and physically impossible that there was. So, this is not saying there (a time when) there was nothing and then pop the universe comes into being from nothing. Neither is it saying the universe created itself. There’s simply nothing causally prior to the first cause/uncaused cause. That’s implied by the name and unless there is some reason to think otherwise, then the physical singularity itself because we actually know that must have existed is a more parsimonious candidate for the first cause. This is true no matter how unlikely it might seem that the initial conditions should be such as to bring forth sentient life. However whatever the first cause is, whether it’s personal or impersonal, divine or simply the physical universe in its initial condition, it is entitled to have whatever properties it had with no need for further explanation. As to Bible I’m don’t doubt that the human authors who wrote it were aware of time, space and material world. What people who ever lived were not aware of those things? The Greeks had Earth, Air, Fire and Water, which just shows they knew about all the different phases of matter and energy. I dob’t presume that knowledge came to them from Mount Olympus and the gods, do I? I think it’s great in the Bible when Moses asks God “Who are you?” And he answers “I am what I am.” This shows me that whoever wrote the book was aware that there is no explaining the first cause. It is wha it is, whatever it is. I’m not saying I’m sure my thesis is correct. I’m pretty sure there is probably a deeper explanation on the quantum level. Maybe something like Penrose’s conformal cyclical cosmology. I really don’t know. I just don’t see any need for there to have been or reason to think there is a supernatural agent behind it all.
I should back up and point out that if you are right then this discussion is a waste of time since we would then be merely accidentally and temporarily existing bio-organisms and there are no universal imperatives—such as any imperatives to adhere to truth, logic and ethics (so, for example, you appeal to logic without a premise).
So this all seems to come down to the subjective phrase “more parsimonious.”
And yet, we have no experience to the effect that physical singularity can just be and can result in that about which we do have experience which is that that information, such as that upon which the entire universe is designed, comes from mind.
Also, “physical” singularity implies a characteristic of the universe.
As to the Bible, my point was not about “time, space and material world” but that the universe, as a whole, is a time, space, matter continuum and that it had a beginning. To compare that with “Earth, Air, Fire and Water” is to make a category error.
Big Bang cosmogony has nothing accidentally brining about everything.
Also, by definition whatever brought the universe into being is “supernatural.”
Tom Paine replied thusly
But naturalism is the belief that nature is uncaused, not that is was caused by accident. Those are not the same thing. I can’t prove this, but I believe that it is a mistake to think that the physical universe can’t have this or that characteristic that we associate with the objects of our experience. Yes, in our experience when something looks designed it usually is, but that doesn’t allow us to assume without risk that the universe as a whole is incapable of producing design without intelligent input. Yes, in our experience information usually comes from intelligence, but that does not allow us to assume without risk that nature as a whole doesn’t have the potential to produce information without intelligent input. I almost wrote “always” instead of “usually” in the above statements about design and information, but then I realized that to say always begs the question. Why? Because it assumes that all design and information including that which our science tells us is the result of evolutionary forces is actually from an intelligent source beyond nature and that would be to beg the question in favor of supernaturalism. Honestly, you can’t posit that all design and information comes from intelligent sources without begging the question. it would be like me trying to say that DNA and apparent design in living organisms is proof that these things don’t need intelligent input. I won’t say that because I know it begs the question. I will only say they might very well just be counter examples. I can’t know for sure, but they seem to be. You on the other hand seem to be willing to assert that all design and information comes from intelligent sources, but that just begs the question of whether apparent design in living organisms and information in DNA are counter examples to that alleged principle or not.
Ken Ammi You seem to be conflating “no absolute imperative” with “no imperative” and those are completely different terms. I don’t buy into the idea that that which is ultimately insignificant is insignificant to me. Again those two mean different things. Since the ultimately insignificant is in fact insignificant I’m not gonna worry. But I am concerned about what is significant to me and to my fellow human beings. That’s been built into my nature by Nature. And I’m not even sure Nature doesn’t have it’s own sort of intelligence when looked at as an organic whole Also parsimony isn’t entirely subjective. There are definitions of it. For example: The principle that the most acceptable explanation of an occurrence, phenomenon, or event is the simplest, involving the fewest entities, assumptions, or changes. Naturalism is quite obviously IMO (so yeah, I say IMO, because I can’t remove my own cognitive biases, as much as I may try, from my analysis) the more parsimonious hypothesis. Theism multiplies entities rather egregiously by positing a whole other realm of existence, i.e., timeless/spaceless existence. This multiplies entities, assumptions and changes and surely raises more questions than it answers especially when adding in personality. How can a person be timeless and spaceless when the essence of personhood is mind and the essence of mind is thought, thought is a process and processes are time dependent???Sure there are possible rationalizations of these problems, but they are utterly ad hoc. Every person in our experience exists in time and space, if I’m expected to believe that a timeless spaceless person exists, I’m deontically entitled to being provided some evidence. What even is timeless existence? If someone tells me that something exists, my first questions are where and when. If I’m told this entity exists at no time and no in place, that sounds practically the same as saying it doesn’t exist at all. However, under the naturalistic assumption, most likely the universe in its initial condition as a singularity existed uncaused in the instant before the Big Bang. This is where all physical evidence points. And so, I can tell you where it existed and when it existed, though realize “where” and “when” are relative terms. It existed in the only space that existed at the time, perhaps a plank unit cubed (not sure that is a correct quantum interpretation), and at the very first instant of time, relatively speaking about 14 billion years ago. there’s no need to posit a whole other realm of existence beyond nature. That’s why it’s called naturalism, and that’s why it’s more parsimonious. As I said I won’t say that is a fact because I can’t empirically test parsimony. And I won’t say it proves naturalism is true. All I can say is the assumption at the bottom of naturalism sure seems rather evidently more parsimonious given the definition of the principle of parsimony given. And also according to that principle it is the rationally preferable hypothesis. Of course, that’s also “all else being equal”. But all else is never equal. IMO all else also weighs in favor of naturalism and those few points that do seem prima facie to weigh in favor of theism are the result of misconceptions. But that will require a lot more burden of proof. Of course I believe I can justify that statement. I just don’t have time right now.
I should note upfront that your comments equate beginning with conclusions, un-premised conclusions and conclusions based on premises that your worldview cannot justify.
You seem to state that you believe that “nature is uncaused” and not “caused by accident” but when you say that “it is a mistake to think that the physical universe can’t have this” I am unsure to what you are referring: does “this” refer to a cause, an accidental cause, being uncaused—what?
You also imply that when something looks designed, is information based, it is for some reason reasonable to deny it that it is the result of intelligent input.
My view is based on what we know, your reply is that we should base our views on what which we do not know—on the off chance that perhaps, somehow, maybe, etc.
Now, please realize that to speak of that which “our science tells” is a fallacy as “science” tells us nothing rather, human scientists tell us things and there is a huge difference between the two.
As to begging the question in favor of supernaturalism well, that is the question upon which “our science,” the scientific method, is premised.
And no, “our science” does not tell us that the universe and information are “the result of evolutionary forces.”
I see we come to one of Atheism’s consoling delusions: the delusion of seeking subjective meaning in an objectively meaningless existence since you, for some unknown reason have personally decided that you are “concerned about what is significant to me and to my fellow human beings” which also stinks of speciesism.
You then merely assert that “That’s been built into my nature by Nature” and you then speculate that Nature (in with a capital letter and which you virtually personify as you did “our science”) may “have it’s own sort of intelligence” which is a nice (but unjustified) goal moving—God is not the intelligence but “Nature” may be.
To take a page from your book, there is a difference between “parsimony isn’t entirely subjective” and “parsimony is subjective.” For example, you cannot claim that “Naturalism is quite obviously…the more parsimonious hypothesis” without knowing all that is involved. Also, you are clearly beginning with the speculated conclusion that “Nature” can do things that “Nature” is unknown to be able to do. You are beginning to sound like a Pagan—literally, in terms of nature worship.
As to how a person be timeless and spaceless well, you answered your own question: mind is spaceless and thought is a time dependent process when being exercised within a time domain. But I am not merely punting since we know that different organisms’ minds function differently, that, for example, jellyfish do not even have brains, etc. so we cannot simply assert a neat claim about minds and thoughts.
So, that a timeless spaceless person exists is simple logic.
Now, when you refer to that to which you are “entitled” you are merely asserting your own self-appointed authority as you have yet to provide a premise for anything you wrote much less have bridged the “is” “ought” problem.
As, on your worldview, temporarily existing animals on a temporarily existing planet in a temporarily existing universe: you are entitled to nothing nor is it incumbent upon me to provide you anything.
You also seem to see that we are on a very similar boat but you try to claim that your boat is better because well, your playing with terms like science and evolution for one and because you have decided that “the universe in its initial condition as a singularity existed uncaused IN THE INSTANT BEFORE the Big Bang” (although I appreciate the qualifiers “assumption, most likely”).
Granted, such issues are difficult since we live in an time, space, matter domain and so it is difficult to conceive of things such as eternality/timelessness and are all but forced of speaking in terms of “before” when we are referring to before time. But we have no experience of an uncaused something that what, comes into being uncaused in the instant before that of which we do know? We have no experience of uncaused things coming into being, uncaused explosions, uncaused explosions leading to information, etc.
Now, it is actually called naturalism because it is Pagan: again, naturalists assert that “Nature” can do things that it is unknown to do.
But the biggest problem for you is that if naturalism is more parsimonious and more evidence based then that is all the more reason to reject it because then it does not matter.
I mean seriously, how cares (and I do not mean subjectively) what a temp animal believes via its temp brain made up of temp chemicals?
I would very much prefer to focus on what premise you have for truth, logic and ethics since your combined 878 word comments lead to one that is 825 words and that will only lead to unsustainable exponential growth.
Well, Tom decided to not only ignore my point about word could but took it up a few notches. Rather than posting his following four comments, I will post my reply and you will get the gist:
I hope you will pardon me but I literally do not have time to reply to four lengthy comments you wrote—I already spend hours replying to comments as it is and cannot trade essays.
The bottom line of your view seems to be that if it looks designed then it is not designed because if it is designed then it is troublesome to your worldview.
In any case, in order to simplify matters: how does your worldview provide you a premise for truth, logic or ethics, for holding to these and for demanding that others do likewise?
No, you completely straw manned my view. I never said that if something looked designed that it’s not. What I did say is that just because some natural thing looks designed we cannot assume that it is intelligently designed. For one thing evolutionary theory gives us a very plausible and so far unfalsified theory of how natural processes can mimick intelligent design. Secondly, there is no logical basis for concluding that nature cannot have some sort of inherent telos. Yes, the complex proper parts of nature, i.e., all the objects of our experience, appear to have no inherent telos, but it does not logically follow then that nature as a whole has no inherent telos. That I think is a concise summary of my argument if you would care to respond to the short version. As to your question, the premises of truth, logic and ethics are all axiomatic. They are either self-evident truths or assumed to be true (unless proven false), and this is true whether your worldview is based on naturalism or theism. In order to base ethics on divine command one must either consider the existence of God to be self-evident or assume His existence in oder to provide a foundation for your ethics. My ethics it founded on the axiom that it is morally right to act according to the principle of reciprocity and morally wrong to act against the principle without justification, and I believe that the principle of reciprocity was determined by social evolutionary imperative. Since, if I am correct, the moral axiom is not determined by personal opinion, then it is by definition epistemically objectively true. Logic is based on self-evident truths about the nature of reality and language, again true whether operating under theism or naturalism. Truth is simply the correspondence of beliefs or propositions to reality. So, reality is the basis of truth. Naturalism does not deny that there is any absolute reality. It does not even deny that there are absolute truths. Analytical truths are all absolute and eternal, but are tautological. The only thing that kind of truth that us unlikely under naturalism is that there is any sort of comprehensive absolute truth, i.e., some set of propositions that fully describe and perfectly correspond to reality. BTW: Ken, no need to be pardoned. Feel free to respond or not, however your time allows. Excuse me for being overly verbose.
Well, if I straw-manned your view I did not mean to. However, I am certain that you might see how “just because some natural thing looks designed we cannot assume that it is intelligently designed” is awfully close to “if something looked designed that it’s not.”
Now, if you want to refer to the “evolutionary theory” then you will have to define to what you are referring first (since, for example, there is no “evolutionary theory” but various evolutionary theories—plural).
What we do have is a logical basis for concluding that nature cannot account for itself.
As to truth, logic and ethics: I am empathetic about you asserting that they are axiomatic since you realize that your worldview fails to provide a premise for them, for adhering to them and finally for that which makes your asserted axioms irrelevant: even if they are axiomatic then you have only gotten as far as “is” but still have no “ought.” Thus, there is no universal imperative to adhere to truth, logic and ethics—on your worldview.
I will note that you referred to “ethics” but then to “morally” that his may become an issue as they are technically very different.
As to your assertion of a “social evolutionary imperative”: has it evolved (whatever that means) or is it still evolving? Also, are you against abortion?
No, those two statements are not even close to meaning the same thing. The first is stating that it’s possible that the appearance of design is not necessarily indicative of actual intelligent design and the second says that it’s necessarily not indicative of such. When I speak of evolutionary theory, I’m basically speaking of Darwinism: ” ….all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor… the development of life from non-life… a purely naturalistic (undirected) “descent with modification”. That is, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism’s genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival — a process known as “natural selection.” These beneficial mutations are passed on to the next generation…” Sure we’ve learned a lot since the time of Darwin such as the role of genetics is inheritance. This of course was a huge boost to TOE even though Darwin knew nothing of DNA, because it proved that a such a mechanism, that was predicted by the theory, for inheritance exists and is completely consistent with the theory. Sure there are is plenty of room for debate on non core issues regarding inheritance, but basic pillars of the theory, common decent and natural selection, etc., are all intact after nearly two centuries of testing. I’m not saying nature can account for itself. I’m saying that philosophically speaking, whatever is fundamental to reality is fundamental and cannot be accounted for by itself or something beyond itself. There is simply no other answer to the IMO stupid question “Why does something exist instead of nothing” except that “It just does!” That’s the reality we are faced with. Proposing the existence of an inexplicable Being who created it all only pushes the question back one very unparsimonious step. “As to truth, logic and ethics: I am empathetic about you asserting that they are axiomatic since you realize that your worldview fails to provide a premise for them, for adhering to them and finally for that which makes your asserted axioms irrelevant: even if they are axiomatic then you have only gotten as far as “is” but still have no “ought.” Thus, there is no universal imperative to adhere to truth, logic and ethics—on your worldview.” I’m sorry, but that is a load of absolutist bollix. No worldview provides premises for it’s axioms (axioms literally ARE the PREMISES), so you have no idea what you are talking about. Axioms are generally things that are held to be self-evident. Of course, what seems self-evident to one person may not seem self-evident to another, and that’s why we have debates like this. I’m trying to explain to you why I think the idea that it is self-evident that everything that begins to exist has a cause –if you include the universe as a whole as part of everything–is WRONG. The universe is not a part of everything, the universe is the whole of everything and you cannot hold the whole to rules that are inferred from our experience of what are all but parts of that whole. It’s a type of the fallacy of composition. And, why are we discussing oughts? Anyway, the imperative to adhere to truth is that falsehood can get you killed. If I stand in front of train in the false belief that I’m an immortal God, then I die. I don’t want to die, which is probably because I’m an evolved being and with evolution (though not necessarily for individual humans) survival is the ultimate “good.” And so to me and nearly all humans there is a kind of imperative to know the truth. So, there IS an imperative of sorts for truth. Logic is imperative if one wants to reliably get at the truth, and ethics is imperative if we wish to have a society that can survive and flourish.
Well, denying design by basing it on Darwinian evolutionary theory is to impose a worldview philosophy as an interpretive lens.
Indeed, Darwinism’s premise that that “all life is related” for which there is zero evidence that the “common ancestor” is a crypto-zoological mythical chimera. The theory is about species (whatever that means) originating from other already preexisting species and such is what is still un-evidenced.
I 100% understand why you consider what has been historically viewed as the most important philosophical question “Why does something exist instead of nothing?,” declare it “stupid” and reply “It just does!” Yes, exactly: your worldview fails before it even begins. It is not that the question is stupid, it is that your worldview has no reply except the same reply that it has for anything and everything, “It just does!” “It just is!” “it just happens to have happened by accident,” etc.
Yet, it is not accurate that “Proposing the existence of an inexplicable Being who created it all only pushes the question back” since it provides a commencement point: a self-existent being.
Now, the problem for you, since you chose a very, very poor worldview, is that even if and especially if evolution is true, if anything that exists exists just because then guess what, you just 100% discredited everything you have ever argue since you are merely typing out the byproduct of accidental biochemical neural reactions.
You are confused about the issue of premises. I did not ask you for “premises for it’s axioms” but about your worldview’s premise for truth, logic and ethics.
So, “why are we discussing oughts?” because without oughts/imperatives then you can throw truth, logic and ethics out the window: if we ought not be truthful, logical and ethical then there is no way to even have a discussion. On your worldview, being truthful, logical and ethical are mere subjective options.
Now, to assert that “the imperative to adhere to truth is that falsehood can get you killed” is merely pragmatic: you are basing that on hidden assumptions such as that not being killed matter, that it is an ought, etc. and yet, survival is merely the result on an accidental mutation, on your worldview.
Thus, when you write, “I don’t want to die” that is a mere option since and that “survival is the ultimate ‘good’” is imposing an ethic and also myopic: I mean, just listen to extremist environmentalists and animal rights people who will tell you that your death is “good” for the planet and animals—and they argue evolutionarily just like you do.
You also commit a category error in assertion “Logic is imperative if one wants to reliably get at the truth” since one category is “imperative” and a different one is “if one wants to”: imperative means that your subjective desires are irrelevant as an imperative is a “must do” and not a “do it only if you feel like it.”
Same with “ethics is imperative if we wish to have a society that can survive and flourish”: if it is an imperative then it is not based on a “wish” and you are sneaking in the assertion that human “society that can survive and flourish” is “good.”
But these issues are problematic to you because you worldview simply fails—which is why you must always begin with conclusions.
Lastly, you did not reply about your stance on abortion.
Ken Ammi “Well, denying design by basing it on Darwinian evolutionary theory is to impose a worldview philosophy as an interpretive lens.” No, it’s not. It’s simply a statement of the fact that Darwin’s theory offers a naturalistic explanation for apparent design in nature. “Indeed, Darwinism’s premise that that “all life is related” for which there is zero evidence that the “common ancestor” is a crypto-zoological mythical chimera. The theory is about species (whatever that means) originating from other already preexisting species and such is what is still un-evidenced.” You are being ignorant. There’s tons of evidence for common descent: http://www.stat.cmu.edu/~genovese/depot/archive/evidence-CD.pdf Species: “A biological species is a group of organisms that can reproduce with one another in nature and produce fertile offspring. ” “Yes, exactly: your worldview fails before it even begins. It is not that the question is stupid, it is that your worldview has no reply except the same reply that it has for anything and everything, “It just does!” “It just is!” “it just happens to have happened by accident,” etc. Yet, it is not accurate that “Proposing the existence of an inexplicable Being who created it all only pushes the question back” since it provides a commencement point: a self-existent being.” Yes, it is pushing the problem back because naturalism is simply the hypothesis that nature itself is self-existent. The burden of proof is on the theist to explain why nature cannot be self-existent. It’s as simple as that. That burden of proof has never been IMO and that is why I’m a naturalist. “Now, the problem for you, since you chose a very, very poor worldview, is that even if and especially if evolution is true, if anything that exists exists just because then guess what, you just 100% discredited everything you have ever argue since you are merely typing out the byproduct of accidental biochemical neural reactions.” That’s utter nonsense, my worldview in no way implies that “neural reactions” are accidental. The human brain is the most complex structure in the known universe. It arose from evolutionary processes that are not random. Yes, mutations are random, but natural selection is decidedly NON random. A neural activity is more non random. It’s highly organized because as I said the brain is the most complex structure in the known universe. In fact, you DID accuse me of having no premises for my axioms. Now you are asking me what my premises are for truth, logic and ethics. However, I explained that rather painstakingly in my last post. “On your worldview, being truthful, logical and ethical are mere subjective options.” I’m not even sure what that means. Being truthful is not optional if one wants to know the truth. Logic is imperative to finding the truth, because you cannot makes sense of the data of your sense without processing it through logical algorithms. That’s why we believe that those logical algorithms are true, i.e., because they reliably lead to correct deductions. Ethics is imperative if a society is going to survive and flourish. I already explained all this. Maybe if you try and actually process what I’m saying instead of trying to pick it apart, you’d be able to understand what I’m saying I wouldn’t have to keep addressing off-base critiques of it. At the risk of sounding boastful, I tested in the upper 2% of the people taking the Graduate Record Exam in the area of verbal reasoning. That doesn’t mean I’m infallible, but it does mean that I’m well above average in verbal reasoning, so it’s not likely that I’m going to be making arguments that are total nonsense like you think I am. IMO, you simply disagree with my conclusion and so rather than actually thinking about whether my arguments make sense you are assuming they don’t and futilely trying to find fault with them. Drop you confirmation bias for a moment and try and actually process what I’m saying. “You also commit a category error in assertion “Logic is imperative if one wants to reliably get at the truth” since one category is “imperative” and a different one is “if one wants to”: imperative means that your subjective desires are irrelevant as an imperative is a “must do” and not a “do it only if you feel like it.” That’s not a category error. You simply aren’t processing what I’m saying. I’m not sure what you think I mean by “imperative.” In this sentence it just means “necessary.” So, am I wrong that employing logic is necessary if one wants to get at the truth.” That seems pretty much self-evident to me. “Now, to assert that “the imperative to adhere to truth is that falsehood can get you killed” is merely pragmatic: you are basing that on hidden assumptions such as that not being killed matter, that it is an ought, etc. and yet, survival is merely the result on an accidental mutation, on your worldview.” Merely pragmatic? I don’t know what you are trying to get at. Evolution IS totally pragmatic. My take on morality is that it is the product of social evolution. That is, there is a survival imperative for a society to inculcate the value of reciprocity in its members. If a society is not successful in this then it does not survive to pass its values on to future generations. As such, we find this value in every surviving society and this is what we call morality. It has been determined by social evolutionary imperative (survival of the fittest societies). Now, the definition of an epistemically objective fact is that it is NOT determined by personal opinion. Morality has NOT been determined by personal opinion but by social evolutionary imperative and so, by definition, it is an epistemically objective fact that it’s morally wrong to violate the principle of reciprocity and morally good to abide by the principle. Yes, survival is a “good”. It is not itself the “moral good,” but group survival is the actual objective that defines the moral ought. Members of society ought to act morally if they want their society to survive and flourish.It’s as simple as that. Even IF morality was based commandments from God, God would reasonably have to have some reasons for His commands right? They aren’t just arbitrary. Why would God care whether his creatures obeyed the golden rule (a variant of the principle of reciprocity) except that He has some objective in mind. And would that objective not be the survival and flourishing, ie., the welfare of His creatures? I just don’t see any reason to impose God into the picture. It make perfect sense that there would be a social evolutionary imperative for reciprocity. It’s a perfectly plausible naturalistic explanation of why epistemically objective moral values exist. Sure, the idea that there is an eye in the sky watching over us even when no one around who can punsih us even after death is an idea with some social utility in prodding people to act morally even when no other person is watching, but that has no bearing on whether it’s true or not.
Ken Ammi Also Thus, when you write, “I don’t want to die” that is a mere option since and that “survival is the ultimate ‘good’” I never said that survival is the “ultimate good”; you are straw manning me now. Also, I presume you mean opinion not option. Of course, rather than a mere opinion the goodness of survival is a near universal human value. When people don’t value their own survival we feel they are sick. Why? Because we are evolved beings and if beings don’t value their own survival then they are less likely to survive and so less likely to pass on their disposition and values to future generations. But you seem to be confused about what I’m saying. I’m not saying that survival is the moral good. Again the moral good is reciprocity and once again this has been determined by evolutionary imperative. Reciprocity is imperative to survival of groups of sentient social beings, this why social evolution has determined that human societies will value reciprocity. Again, since this value is determined by social evolutionary imperative and not by anybody’s personal opinion, it is objective in the epistemic sense.
Well friend, I apologize but I can no longer trade essays. In short, if you are correct then that is all the better reason to reject your views because if we are merely temporarily and accidentally existing apes then delusion, such as theism, is a survival mechanism and in any case, what we believe is irrelevant—especially when our very thoughts are the result an on accidental mixture of chemical subject to the laws of nature: our beliefs are merely the byproduct of neural reactions. Laws of nature which are also accidental as they just happened to happen within an accidentally and temporarily existing universe. You still have not replied about abortion.
Well, in my view nothing is totally accidental. Everything flows from the laws of nature which are non random (though perhaps at the quantum level there is some randomness) and to me at least apparently has some sort of telos. I mean, even under naturalism, life could not evolve unless the potential for it exists intrinsically within the universe itself from the beginning. As far as religion goes. I’m all for the religious sentiment that we are all children of God/Nature and that we ought to treat each other accordingly. But I don’t think valuing love and reciprocity requires one to reject sound scientific theories and cling to superstitious beliefs such as that some entity is gonna come and save us from ourselves. There’s really no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. I understand some atheists are all too willing to do that, and unfortunately there are plenty of theists who will back them up on that because they want people to think that life is meaningless without their religion, which is simply false. Also, given that the brain is the most complex structure in the known universe and that we are conscious and capable of reason and compassion, I don’t think there is anything MERE about neuronal activity. It’s the most wondrous thing I can think of. mere1 adjective that is solely or no more or better than what is specified. “questions that cannot be answered by mere mortals” synonyms: trifling, meager, bare, trivial, paltry, basic, scant, scanty, skimpy, minimal, slender; More the smallest or slightest.
You are getting ahead of yourself again by beginning with a conclusion again. For example, of course you believe that the laws of nature are the result of accident(s), the result of previous accidents. You are clearly seeing design all around you but you have bought into a worldview that tells you to deny reality. Why not just admit that you believe that the universe, life, you, etc. are the results of accidents which somehow happened to have happened—even if you believe that “the potential for it [life] exists intrinsically within the universe itself from the beginning” by accident.
Of course “valuing love and reciprocity requires one to reject sound scientific theories” (even though you are basing some of your assertions on unsound ones) since that would be a non sequitur.
No, you are seeing telos but “cling to superstitious beliefs such as that” there is nothing from which to be saved. But then again, when you complain that some reject sound scientific theories and cling to superstitions you are just expressing bio-chemical byproducts that you call thoughts and that subjective opinion is literally impotent and meaningless since it is a mere assertion: there is not universal imperative not reject sound scientific theories and cling to superstitious beliefs on your worldview.
You hit upon one of Atheism’s consoling delusions: the delusion of subjective meaning in an objectively meaningless existence. Indeed, you can make up your own meaning: Mother Theresa did and so did Hitler.
So, “the brain is the most complex structure in the known universe” by accident “and that we are conscious and capable of reason and compassion” but being capable of something is not the same as there being an imperative to do it: and your worldview provides no such imperative.
Ken Ammi >You are getting ahead of yourself again by beginning with a conclusion again. For example, of course you believe that the >laws of nature are the result of accident(s), the result of previous accidents. No, the fundamental laws of nature are not the results of accidents. The fundamental laws are brute facts. Sure, there is some overlap in the definition of “brute fact” and “accident” but they are not the same thing. They both have no deliberate cause, but the former has no cause whatever (as properties of the uncaused first cause) while the latter still have some cause just not deliberate one. >You are clearly seeing design all around you but you have bought into a worldview that tells you to deny reality. No, there is nothing in naturalism that requires me to deny any reality. >Why not just admit that you believe that the universe, life, you, etc. are the results of accidents which somehow happened >to have happened—even if you believe that “the potential for it [life] exists intrinsically within the universe itself from the >beginning” by accident. I don’t even know what you’re trying to say there. The potential for anything that actually happens has to exist within the universe. That’s self-evident. It’s not self-evident that the potential is intrinsic to nature itself, but that is a more parsimonious hypothesis than to posit that it is imparted to nature by a supernatural agent. The potential for life that exist within the universe would not be an accident, it would be an intrinsic property of nature, which as I have explained is not the same as saying that it’s an accident. >Of course “valuing love and reciprocity requires one to reject sound scientific theories” (even though you are basing >some of your assertions on unsound ones) since that would be a non sequitur. What? Valuing anything is a subjective act and doesn’t require one to either accept or reject any scientific theory. How would my valuing love require me to reject a sound scientific theory. You’re talking nonsense. Not sure if I’ve addressed your point point because your statement isn’t even coherent. >No, you are seeing telos but “cling to superstitious beliefs such as that” there is nothing from which to be saved. Again, what? How is that superstitious. >But then again, when you complain that some reject sound scientific theories and cling to superstitions you are just >expressing bio-chemical byproducts that you call thoughts and that subjective opinion is literally impotent and >meaningless since it is a mere assertion: there is not universal imperative not reject sound scientific theories and cling to >superstitious beliefs on your worldview. I don’t know whether I’d call it an imperative, but I certainly believe that it would behoove the human race to let go of superstition and embrace sound scientific theory. And just because human thoughts are the by product of biochemical reactions doesn’t mean they cannot be more or less rational or more or less conducive to human well being. Are you in the thrall of the idiotic idea that the electrochemical signal processing that goes on in the human brain, the most complex structure in the known universe, is in any way analogous to a simple chemical reaction. That argument is the equivalent of someone arguing that because a simple electrical current cannot process information then neither can a computer. It’s just a horribly fallacious argument and you should just drop it now. >You hit upon one of Atheism’s consoling delusions: the delusion of subjective meaning in an objectively meaningless >existence. Indeed, you can make up your own meaning: Mother Theresa did and so did Hitler. I don’t seeing anything consoling or delusional about believing that meaning is subjective. Meaning IS undeniably ontologically subjective (mind-dependent) and would be even if God had some purpose for creating the world. That meaning would still be dependent on the mind of God and hence ontologically subjective. You could argue that it’s not epistemically subjective for humans then because it would not be determined by any individual human opinion. However, I can…and did… make the same argument for epistemically objective moral values under naturalism. They are epistemically objective because they are not determined by any individual human opinion, but rather by social evolutionary imperative. Sure Hitler subscribed to an aberrant morality, what Nietzsche called “master morality.” But Neitzsche was a damned fool who apparently didn’t understand the real social evolutionary basis of morality and apparently neither did Hitler. That’s all. If someone defines a “dog” as a “flightless bird”, they are not creating their own personal definition of “dog” they are simply talking nonsense. The same goes for anybody who tries to define morality as something other than what it actually is (fundamentally the principle of reciprocity). >So, “the brain is the most complex structure in the known universe” by accident “and that we are conscious and capable >of reason and compassion” but being capable of something is not the same as there being an imperative to do it: and >your worldview provides no such imperative. Again, the brain evolved and evolution is only partly based on random mutations. Evolution is largely based on survival of the fittest and there is nothing random about that, and again neither are the laws of nature random. As for the rest, I think you are simply misunderstanding what I mean by “imperative.” I’m using it in this sense: imperative 1. of vital importance; crucial. “immediate action was imperative” synonyms: vitally important, of vital importance, all-important, vital, crucial, critical, essential, of the essence, a matter of life and death, of great consequence, necessary, indispensable, exigent, pressing, urgent; etc. You seem to think I’m trying to use it in this sense: 2. giving an authoritative command; peremptory. I understand that under divine command theory morality is an imperative in sense 2. Under naturalism it is, of course, not an imperative in that sense, but it is an imperative in sense 2, a “social evolutionary imperative.” That is, if a society is going to survive and flourish it is imperative that it inculcates the value of reciprocity in its members. Survival is essential (imperative) to evolution and morality is essential (imperative) to the survival of society. Get it?
Friend, I am not trading essays. In short, if you believe anything like that which follows then your comments are precisely as meaningful and potent and imperative as apes arguing whether it is “ooh, ooh, aah, ahh” or “aah, aah, ooh, ooh”:
Nothing caused nothing or an eternal uncaused first cause to explode for no reason, made everything without meaning, the universe, life, you, your brain are accidents, your thoughts are the mere byproducts of random bio-chemical neural reactions predetermined by the laws of nature as you, a temporarily and accidentally existing organism, sit atop an temporarily and accidentally existing rock orbiting a temporarily and accidentally existing star in the backwaters of a temporarily and accidentally existing universe.
I realize that Atheism offers various surface level appealing consoling delusions to run away from these facts but facts are that which they are—by accident, on your worldview.
You keep repeating the fallacy of Nature being random and use it to justify rejecting my wold view. Again, randomness is a function of having a number of possibilities and not being able to predict the outcome. That does not apply to the universe /Nature as a whole. It simply is what it is and there’s nothing random about it, unless perhaps some kind of quantum randomness is involved, and even then I think that would only apply to proper parts of Nature and not Nature as whole. The brain is evolved and, as I explained already, evolution isn’t random because neither the laws of physics nor the process of natural selection is random. So, your argument there also lacks merit. Our brains have evolved a much higher degree of intelligence than apes, so obviously comparing what I’m saying to an ape going oooh ooooh ooooh is ridiculous. And quite to the contrary it is theism that offers the consoling delusions to run away from realities like death, though I tend to agree with Epicurus that the fear of death is irrational. http://marklindner.info/writings/Epicurus.htm
Continuing to appeal to the Atheist consoling delusion that there is subjective meaning in the objective meaninglessness by proposing that the universe, life, you, your brain, your thoughts were came about randomly but are not random what is fallacious: but that is on my worldview which has a premise for condemning fallacy and not on yours which would say that if holding to fallacy gives you a survival advantage then have at it.
Call it what you will but your worldview is that the universe, life, you, your brain, your thoughts are all undersigned, uncreated, accidental and temporary.
You also say, in the past tense, “The brain is evolved” but what makes you so sure that it has stopped evolving? In fact, since it is still evolving (whatever that means) then it may function very differently in the future and what is logical today will be illogical then and visa versa.
But I see that you are appealing to “the laws of physics”: invisible, omnipotent, omniscient, administrators of the universe—sounds familiar. Yet, on your worldview the laws of physics are accidents.
Well, you may think (with “think” being the mere byproduct of accidentally evolved chemical reactions in which you put much too much stock) that you have a higher degree of intelligence than apes but the point is the same: they are making sounds and attribute meaning to them and so are you. You just subjectively assign more import to your chemical reactions but if you traipsed into a Silverback’s territory, you would soon find out that it disagrees with you.
In short, your worldview fails before it even begins since it provides no premise for truth, logic and ethics and especially no premise upon which to make adhering to these an imperative.
When you argue that for some unknown reason we evolve to survive and survive to evolve then it is a matter of do what thou wilt—unless you beg, borrow and steal from my worldview.
For example, you say “it is theism that offers the consoling delusions to run away from realities like death” and the come back is quite simple: so what if it does?
Ken Ammi Of course, my worldview has a premise for condemning fallacies. It’s called logic. You’re the one who’s reasoning is fallacious. You are saying that because simple chemical reactions (soda fizz or whatever) cannot code information about it’s environment, therefore the human brain cannot do that. I think I’ve already pointed out how stupid that is. It’s a totally false analogy and it’s a sort of composition fallacy. Again, can a simple electrical current code information about it’s environment. NO. But a self driving car can. We know this for a fact. So, if the electric brain in a self driving car can do that, then what reason is there to think that our human brains, the most complex structures in the known universe, would not be able to do as much, and then some. Since the human brain can code information about its environment and has evolved to use logical algorithms (something a self driving car can do also, though programmed by us rather than evolution) to process and make sense out of that information, then that right there is the naturalistic basis for identifying logical fallacies. On my worldview the laws of physics are not accidental any more than on theism the nature of God is accidental. Yes, there is no, and can be no explanation for why fundamental reality –at least in its initial condition–is what it is, because it is uncaused. The difference between theism and my take on naturalism is just that the fundamental is not something beyond nature, but just Nature itself. Yes, I find a physical nature that just happens to have the capacity to evolve sentient life to be a more plausible hypothesis than that the hypothesis that a timeless, immaterial person created Nature. Not only is it more parsimonious, it doesn’t require me to posit something as absurd as a timeless person. That’s not even a coherent concept. The essence of personhood is sentience, the essence of sentience is thought, and thought is a process and processes are time dependent. As such the idea of a timeless person is utterly nonsensical. Also, every person I know of is at least partially a material being. I have no experience of immaterial persons, as such I’m not even sure such a thing is possible. Please stop repeating things I’ve already refute. On naturalism, the premise for truth is reality. Truths are simply propositions that correspond to reality. There’s nothing in my worldview that makes our having ideas about the world impossible and there is nothing that prevents those ideas from more or less corresponding to reality. Evolution should very much favor faculties that produce ideas that correspond with reality because by and large having accurate ideas of reality is more conducive to survival than having false ones. The premise for logic is much the same, i.e., the rules of logic are just algorithms we use to process the raw data of our senses and help us discern information that we might not be getting directly from the raw data. The premise for morality is group survival. It’s very reasonable to believe that groups of individuals (societies) who treat each other according to the principle of reciprocity (i.e.act morally) survive and thrive better than one who don’t. In fact, I’d say reciprocity is the sine qua non of human (and likely all sentient) society. Humans survive better as a members of a society than as “lone wolves.” It all makes perfect sense under naturalism, much more so actually than under theism. Under theism it’s hard to explain why humans are evolved at all. The evidence of human evolution is VERY WELL established. Why is that the case if as theist believes we were molded from dust by a God who breathed the spirit of life into us. Something for which there is NO EVIDENCE at all. Under theism it’s hard to explain the fact that our cognitive faculties actually are far from perfect. It makes sense under evolution and it’s the reason why it took us millennia of social evolution to develop tools like math, formal logic and science to correct for the deficiencies in our biologically evolved faculties. But if God created us, why did He create us with much better faculties. Why do we have to learn, math and science, why isn’t this just built into our brains or revealed in scripture? It’s especially perplexing to think that God creates us with these faulty faculties but then expects us to be able to see the supposed wisdom of his plan to send his son to be tortured to death in order that we can be forgiven for being imperfect humans as He created us. Well, I don’t see the wisdom of it. In fact it strikes me as rather unhinged. Whose fault is that though? I didn’t create my own mental apparatus. The fact is, dude, you’ve got nothing other than the totally wrong assertion that there is no basis for truth, logic or morality on naturalism. You think somehow by asserting that that you can win by never even letting me get started. Unfortunately this isn’t one of those stupid presup videos where you can constantly cut off my arguments before I can get sto the point by pepper spraying me with idiotic questions and the repeated assertion that I can’t even begin to offer an argument because I have no basis. You’re just wrong about that, and I have very cogently explained why. Take it or leave it, but if you’re either unequipped or unwilling to understand my arguments. That’s your loss, not mine.
“You also say, in the past tense, “The brain is evolved” but what makes you so sure that it has stopped evolving? In fact, since it is still evolving (whatever that means) then it may function very differently in the future and what is logical today will be illogical then and visa versa. ” Well, yes, the brain is still evolving, slowly. However, it would be impossible for logic to become illogical or vice versa. Logical rules are algorithms that produce true outputs(corresponding to reality)when given true (corresponding to reality) inputs. They are based on the way things work in reality and the way language works. In a sense these are algorithms that we discover (or were discovered by evolution as much of our reasoning goes on at a subconscious level) not that we invent. Of course its possible that we could evolve (or devolve) away from more logical/reasonable understandings of reality, but it seems unlikely given how valuable a true understanding of reality is to survival. Of course, it’s possible that certain false ideas could be useful to survival, religions and other social concepts, tribalism, etc., may be good examples. My thinking though, right or wrong, is that it will be conducive to the survival and flourishing of the human race as a whole for more people to believe more true ideas and fewer false ideas.
Well friend, I cannot trade essays with you as it take me HOURS to write replies to all of the comments I get as it is.
In short, when you believe that the universe, Earth, life, you, your brain, your thoughts are accidents (massaged by whatever feel good consoling delusion term you prefer: but they were either created by thoughtful design or not) then all that comes thereafter is merely made up stuff.
Everything you say is merely circular reasoning—which is unreasonable—since, for example, to seek to premise condemning fallacies via logic via a tall tale about how the human brain can code information about its environment and has evolved to use logical algorithms which is merely begging the question and also does not result in an imperative to be logical.
And if it all hinges on what will be conducive to the survival and flourishing of the human race as a whole then that is merely a subjective personal preference based on speciesism and also not an imperative.
Not even one of your comments was true. Let’s take this one step at a time to keep it from getting out of hand. What do you mean a “tale” about how the human brain can code information? What in the world do you imagine brains do if not code and process information? Yes, it’s true that how the brain codes and processes is far from fully understood, which is not surprising given that the brain is the most complex structure in the known universe. However, I’m really not sure how anybody could doubt that that is what brains do. We know that information can be physically encoded because we can do it with computers, so what on earth reason would there be to doubt that that is what is going on in brains. I’m truly mystified that anybody would even question that. So, tell me if you don’t think the brain’s function is to encode and process information about our environments, what in the world do you think it does? Is it just there to keep our skulls from imploding? I mean, really, I find your questioning of this point unfathomable.
But the point is that even if “Not even one of [my] comments was true” it does not matter, I have violated nothing, will not be held transcendently accountable for it, and if it aids my survival to believe in and promulgate falsehoods then so be it—right? Or are you some sort of self-appointed truth police and arbiter of evolution?
The bottom line is that no matter what natural processes you appeal to: on your worldview they are all the result of previous accidents that are the result of previous accidents until it is accidents all the way down.
You could say that hey, this works and works due to that but all of it, the entire universe and everything in it including those thoughts of yours, are there by accidents. And that, I say, is a tragic worldview because it forces you to deny creation via design since no matter how much evidence we have of information preceding all things, not matter how we can see how the universe conforms to mathematical structures, no matter anything: you can just say that it just happens to have happened because something previous to it just happens to have happened ad infinitum. That is one of the true tragedies of Atheism: it is thought restricting.
So yes, “brains…code and process information” but on your view, they do so by accident based on a prior accident, etc. Thus, that which results from those processes is still the result of accidents upon accidents and there is no way to go from that to an imperative such that: you have to be logical, ethical, etc.
So no, this is not about “doubt[ing] that that is what brains do” but that, on your worldview, there is no reason to be impressed by what they do as an end result such as that you are typing out the result of a long series of accidents and I should, for some mysterious reason, be impressed by it, change my accidental neural-chemistry to match yours, etc.
Lastly, you keep sidestepping answering the simple question as to whether you oppose abortion (let us say, convenience abortion to begin with).
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Atheist actually says “We know that information can be physically encoded because we can do it with computers”