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Science Answers the Big Questions

In a recent post, I argued that Christianity’s smug claim to be able to answer the Big Questions of Life® is empty.  Sure, it can answer these questions, but so can anyone.  It’s whether the answers are credible that matters.

For discovering reality, religion comes up short.  And I would argue that Science does provide answers to these questions.

For example: Why are we here?  We’re here for no more cosmically-significant reason than why deer, jellyfish, and oak trees are here.

For example: Where did we come from?  Science has some decent answers (Big Bang, evolution) and still has a lot of work to do in other areas (string theory, abiogenesis).  Science never answers anything with certainty, but the scientific consensus, where there is one, is the best explanation that we have at the moment.  The retort “Well, if Science can’t answer it, my religion can!” is hardly an argument.

For example: What is my purpose?  There is no evidence of a transcendental or supernatural purpose to your life.  One great thing about rejecting dogma is that you get to select your own purpose!  And who better than you to decide what that is?

And so on.  Science has answers; it’s just that religion doesn’t like them.

Science has only one reality to align itself with.  By contrast, each religion makes up its own, which is why they can’t agree.  Science provides answers and doesn’t demand faith to accept them.

Think about a church steeple with a lightning rod on top.  The steeple proclaims that God exists, and the lightning rod says that it can reduce lightning damage.  Which claim has the evidence to argue that it’s true?  Religion makes truth claims and so does science, but science takes it one step further: it actually delivers on its claims.

Religion … well, not so much.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

About Bob Seidensticker
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  • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

    Bob, Is science the only way we gain knowledge?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      “Gain knowledge” is a bit ambiguous, so perhaps you could suggest some disciples that come to mind. I think Science is the only way we gain knowledge about the natural world. But History can certainly give us good approximations to the truth. There are probably other disciplines that I’m forgetting.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Are you *certain* that “science never answers anything with certainty”? If you are certain, then by what other means (clearly outside science) do you know this?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        I am not certain that Science answers questions with certainty. Any statement Science makes might be perfectly true, but how would I know?

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Do you know anything with certainty?

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        … If you’re not certain about anything (to be a bit pedantic, forgive me) … then perhaps your views vis-a-vis atheism are misplaced and perchance the merits of theism should be explored?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        No, I don’t know anything with certainty. And you?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        If you’re not certain about anything (to be a bit pedantic, forgive me) … then perhaps your views vis-a-vis atheism are misplaced and perchance the merits of theism should be explored?

        Sure, let’s explore them. My mind isn’t closed.

        Are you certain about theism? If not, do you feel compelled to kick the tires of Islam or Shintoism or Jainism? Do you feel compelled to give them a try? Heck, you might convert if you did so. I might convert if I did so.

        But why would either of us do this?

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Bob said: No, I don’t know anything with certainty. And you?

        I’m curious if you see any reason to reject the notion that the law of identity, excluded middle and non-contradiction are false? If there is none, could we agree that these are known with certainty?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        No and no.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Bob said: “no and no

        I assume the second “no” means that you are not certain about the 3 laws, correct? From your perspective, what is uncertain about the 3 laws of logic? Are you aware of any credible challenge to their veracity? If they can be wrong, then surely anything you believe may be wrong, and that includes atheism, correct?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        I assume the second “no” means that you are not certain about the 3 laws, correct?

        No, it means that I wouldn’t be comfortable saying “I know ___ with certainty.”

        From your perspective, what is uncertain about the 3 laws of logic? Are you aware of any credible challenge to their veracity?

        Nope. Nor with evolution, quantum theory, or germ theory. Still, it’s unwarranted IMO to say “___ is certain.”

        If they can be wrong, then surely anything you believe may be wrong, and that includes atheism, correct?

        Obviously.

  • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

    Bob, since you mentioned the Big Bang, do we know what caused the Big Bang? If no, then what origins question is really being answered?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      If you’re imagining the child asking “But why?” to every answer that he gets (nothing wrong with that, BTW), then you’re right. Cosmology could tell us that our universe came from the Big Bang and we could ask what caused that, and so on. Perhaps we could always ask “But why?” to any question science gives us. But that doesn’t mean that science doesn’t have answers, and it certainly doesn’t mean that Christianity has anything better.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        So we’re back to the point you made early in your post: which answer is more credible? An infinite regress, which produces logical inconsistencies, or an uncaused cause (per Kalam)?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        If “God always exists” is satisfactory then “the universe in some form or another has always existed” is satisfactory for the same (poor) reasons.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        But, if, according to the second law of thermodynamics (entropy is always increasing) and logic (infinite regress leads to logical inconsistencies), don’t we have scientific and purely logical evidence that the universe has not always existed?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        But, if, according to the second law of thermodynamics (entropy is always increasing) and logic (infinite regress leads to logical inconsistencies), don’t we have scientific and purely logical evidence that the universe has not always existed?

        Does the second law apply to the Big Bang? Maybe it does, but I don’t know why it’s obvious that it should. Common sense would certainly dictate it, but common sense is a useless tool here.

        Infinite regress? What infinite regress would cause me a problem but not the theist?

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Are you hypothesizing that at some point the second law did not apply to the universe?

        What scientific evidence are you using to support this belief?

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Bob said: “Infinite regress? What infinite regress would cause me a problem but not the theist?”

        My understanding is that theists do not propose an infinitely old universe. If I’m not mistaken, you do — is that correct?. If the universe is infinitely old, then, by the definition of infinite, we could not have arrived at this (finite) point in time. Do you agree?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Are you hypothesizing that at some point the second law did not apply to the universe?

        Nope, just asking the question. We’ve tested it here on earth. I don’t know if any tests beyond the earth are possible (how do you measure entropy in another galaxy?). Maybe applying the Second Law to the Big Bang fails in some way. I’m simply uneducated on this question.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        My understanding is that theists do not propose an infinitely old universe.

        I’m pretty sure they propose an infinitely old god.

        If I’m not mistaken, you do — is that correct?

        Nope. There is no scientific consensus on the age of whatever came before our universe (if anything).

        Do you agree?

        No. I have no strong opinion on this question.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Bob said: Maybe applying the Second Law to the Big Bang fails in some way. I’m simply uneducated on this question.

        Based on the uncertainty reflected in this and other responses in this thread, would it be more accurate to say you’re an agnostic rather than an atheist?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      An atheist is someone without a god belief. I’m without a god belief; I’m an atheist.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        There is no neutral state on this matter among blogs of your type … the knowledge reflected in your responses thus far bely the curious and clearly fashionable statement you make above.

        As my grandmother used to say, “making no decision is a decision” — translating to our current specific topic, “claiming an absence of belief is in itself a position about the merits of holding a particular belief”. Let me support my claim with some observations:

        I. You have premises leading to your “conclusion”, “claim”, “belief”, “view”, or “position” (call it what you want) that you lack of evidence for the existence of God. Your claim and the premises supporting it are subject to verification and are either true or false: “I lack evidence for a belief in God” is in effect a verifiable claim about the existence/nonexistence of evidence for a deity.

        II. Atheism:

        (1) is a claim about knowledge
        (2) is different from agnosticism
        (3) is more than a description of a psychological state
        (4) is either true or false.

        III. You claim “no belief” in the face of

        a) the cosmological argument for the existence of God
        b) the moral argument for for the existence of God
        c) the teleological argument for the existence of God
        d) the historical evidence supporting the existence of Jesus
        e) the archeological evidence supporting the existence of biblical events
        f) other arguments and evidences

        To reach the position of “lacking belief” surely you must have evaluated evidence and arguments and erected strong conclusions (dare I say beliefs?) about the merits of the above.

        The “lack belief” statement is a non-starter. You’re clearly better than that, my friend.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        As my grandmother used to say, “making no decision is a decision” — translating to our current specific topic, “claiming an absence of belief is in itself a position about the merits of holding a particular belief”.

        I’m missing the problem. I won’t say “There is no god” because that’s not my belief. If that’s what you want me to say, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.

        If you’ve read my stuff, however, you’ll see that I’m quite happy to support the argument that there is no god.

        II. Atheism:

        (1) is a claim about knowledge

        What’s the claim? When I use the word, it means “lack of belief in god.” Sorry, this is my party and I’ll use it how I choose (but strive to make sure no reader is confused about my definition).

        (2) is different from agnosticism

        Atheism refers to belief; agnosticism refers to knowledge. That’s the difference.

        III. You claim “no belief” in the face of

        a) the cosmological argument for the existence of God
        b) the moral argument for for the existence of God
        c) the teleological argument for the existence of God
        d) the historical evidence supporting the existence of Jesus
        e) the archeological evidence supporting the existence of biblical events
        f) other arguments and evidences

        You are correct!

        The “lack belief” statement is a non-starter. You’re clearly better than that, my friend.

        Again, I’m missing the problem.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Why are you “happy to support the argument that there is no god”?

        Because you believe it to be the case, or because of some other motivation?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Both because I believe it to be the case (that is, I think that’s where the evidence points) and because it’s not an especially charitable stance in the conversation to demand that the Christian make all the positive assertions (burden of proof, and all that).

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Bob said: “Again, I’m missing the problem.”

        Here’s the problem:

        (A) You state you “lack belief” in God.

        (B) You state you “believe it to be the case (that is, I think that’s where the evidence points) [...] that there is no god”

        (C) You’re not asserting that God does not exist, just that you lack a belief in God. But in (B) you take the atheist position that “there is no god.” This obfuscates the views (asserted beliefs) you clearly expressed in (B), and have clearly expressed throughout your blog. It’s confusing at best, and either an attempt at obfuscation or misdirection at worst.

        (D) Stating you lack belief in God is non-specific. Lack of belief is consistent with your being an (i) agnostic, (ii) atheist, or (iii) someone who thinks the question meaningless.

        (E) It appears that you do not merely lack a belief in God; instead you believe that there is no God. So I want to know the reasons for your atheism. What justification will you offer us for your belief that “there is no God”?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        It sounds like you see me being disingenuous and trying to evade an important issue. Make clear what this issue is. As it stands right now, this seems to be hair splitting.

        Some atheists say, “There is no god,” the opposite of many Christians’ “There is a god.” That’s not me; that’s my point.

        But where does the evidence point? To there not being a god.

        This is a blog by an atheist. What benefit would I have for not making clear my views?

        An atheist is someone who does not have a god belief. That’s me. An agnostic is someone who doesn’t know (in this case, whether there is a god or not). That’s also me.

        Any questions?

        What justification will you offer us for your belief that “there is no God”?

        I’ve made 5 posts on this topic.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Views about the veracity of a particular claim logically fall into 3 states (the claim in this case is “god exists”: affirmative (“I believe the claim”); opposed (“I don’t believe the claim”), or neither (“I’m undecided as to the veracity of the claim.”)

        So one could say, “I lack the affirmative view” and eliminate 1/3 of the states with 2/3 remaining. One may also assert, “I lack the opposed view” and eliminate a different 1/3 with a different 2/3 remaining.

        The classes of views that are “without a belief in god” include both atheists who classically assert, “I don’t believe god exists” and agnostics who classically assert, “I don’t know if god exists.” So the statement “I’m without a god belief” is logically nonspecific. It doesn’t uniquely identify one’s view w.r.t. belief in the existence of god.

        But it’s even more nonspecific than that. My cat is “without a belief in god”. My rocking chair is “without a belief in god”. My tablet PC is “without a belief in god.” Etc.

        But, as you’ve already stated, you believe there is no god. So you actually could have shared additional data at the outset to place you into one of the 3 states described above. Why start with (or ever state, for that matter) the non-specific claim, “I’m without a god belief” and then, only after additional inquiry, state, “and further, I don’t believe god exists. And I have 5 blog posts to support my position.”

        Can you help me understand why you take this tact? I’m truly curious what advantage you perceive in this approach, rather than simply asserting the most specific claim at the outset — that is, “I’m an atheist. I don’t believe god exists. I havee reasons why I don’t think god exists.”

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Views about the veracity of a particular claim logically fall into 3 states (the claim in this case is “god exists”: affirmative (“I believe the claim”); opposed (“I don’t believe the claim”), or neither (“I’m undecided as to the veracity of the claim.”)

        I don’t believe the claim. (Though, in saying that, I can’t imagine that I’m telling you anything you didn’t know before.)

        So the statement “I’m without a god belief” is logically nonspecific. It doesn’t uniquely identify one’s view w.r.t. belief in the existence of god.

        Huh? When someone says, “I have no god belief,” you’re still left scratching your head about where this guy is with respect to Christianity?

        Can you help me understand why you take this tact?

        You have a heckuva lot of energy for this question. Are you just trying to do me a favor with this tiny matter or is there actually something meaningful here that I’m missing?

        “Atheist” is very often defined by Christians as some who states, “There is no god.” That’s what I’m trying to avoid.

        It’s really quite simple. “An atheist is someone who doesn’t have a god belief” is a popular definition among atheists and it’s how I define the word. That’s what we’re stuck with.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        OK – I need your help. What tag do you use to create the nicely indented text? I tried “ul” and “p” (with angled brackets, of course, but couldn’t use angled brackets this context)

        Bob said: Huh? When someone says, “I have no god belief,” you’re still left scratching your head about where this guy is with respect to Christianity?

        No – in other situations where I have no prior knowledge about the person, I genuinely wonder if they’re an atheist or an agnostic. And if one says they’re an atheist who “lacks a god belief”, I wonder why the traditional definition of “believes god does not exist” is insufficient. It’s a bit like being asked, “What species are you?” and responding, “the one without a tail.” Maybe it just me, but it seems peculiar. And since I had the chance to clarify I thought I would. I think I get you’re perspective on this (mostly) :)

        Bob said: You have a heckuva lot of energy for this question. Are you just trying to do me a favor with this tiny matter or is there actually something meaningful here that I’m missing?

        Thanks for your patience!

        Bob said: “Atheist” is very often defined by Christians as some who states, “There is no god.” That’s what I’m trying to avoid.

        Why are you trying to avoid that?

        Bob said: It’s really quite simple. “An atheist is someone who doesn’t have a god belief” is a popular definition among atheists and it’s how I define the word. That’s what we’re stuck with.

        I will respect your preferences.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        OK – I need your help. What tag do you use to create the nicely indented text? I tried “ul” and “p” (with angled brackets, of course, but couldn’t use angled brackets this context)

        “blockquote” (not what I would’ve used, but no one asked me!)

        No – in other situations where I have no prior knowledge about the person, I genuinely wonder if they’re an atheist or an agnostic.

        And I’m both.

        And if one says they’re an atheist who “lacks a god belief”, I wonder why the traditional definition of “believes god does not exist” is insufficient.

        And that’s the problem. In my experience, that’s not the traditional definition. That’s why I hope that a simple definition of atheism will get us on the same page quickly. (Though, in this case, not very quickly …)

        Why are you trying to avoid that?

        ?? Because that definition is not what I am!

  • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

    Bob, if the universe is eternal, does that imply you believe in an infinite regress of events?

    If so, why, and doesn’t an eternal universe lead to logical inconsistencies?

    If not, then what was the prime moving event? How do you invalidate the Kalam argument?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      Seems to me that the universe in its present form is 13.7 billion years old and came from the Big Bang. Before that, science has no consensus answer.

      But why would Christianity have a better answer? “God did it!” invites the question, “But where did God come from?” If you answer that by saying that God’s simply been around forever, I would (1) ask for scientific evidence of this and (2) suggest that a natural chain of events going back forever would be equally justified.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        I didn’t say “God did it” — I’m asking you why you believe what you do.

        If we assert God did *not* do it, then tell me where I’m thinking about his wrong. Either:

        1) *Something* caused something from nothing (theism’s view of the big bang), or
        2) *Nothing* caused something from nothing (atheism’s view of the big bang).

        Which is more plausible?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        The Big Bang is an expansion event, not a creation event. The Big Bang theory says nothing about the origin. Or course, there has been speculation. Hawking’s new book argues for your second point, in fact. But the consensus (which is what I try to lean on) has made no conclusion.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Bob said: “The Big Bang is an expansion event, not a creation event.

        What scientific evidence supports your position? (In keeping with the theme of this post, “Science answers the big questions” — I would submit that whether the Big Bang was an expansion or creation event is a Big Question )

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        I would submit that whether the Big Bang was an expansion or creation event is a Big Question

        I think the Big Bang being an expansion event is to simply state the Big Bang model correctly. If you try and fail to find a credible site that makes this clear, I can find one for you.

        Are you saying that the Big Bang is a creation event? If that’s so, tell me what it says about the beginning (without using information from a Creationist web site, please!).

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Again I ask, what Scientific Evidence supports your claim that the Big Bang was exclusively an expansion event, not also a creation event? I remind you that you did not make the claim that “Some theorize the Big Bang was exclusively an expansion event”. Instead, you said “the Big Bang is an expansion event [...]” This is a claim to knowledge, which I presume from your post’s title, is derived from Scientific evidence. So could you kindly tell me what that Scientific evidence is?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Again I tell you, consult the experts if you want the details. Are you saying that the Big Bang gives an explanation for the beginning? I haven’t heard this–what is this explanation?

        “The Big Bang is an expansion event” is the scientific consensus. Are you suggesting that I’ve got it wrong? That’s certainly possible, but I’ve heard this said many times.

        If you’re asking for details about the Big Bang theory, I’m the wrong guy to give them. My only claim is to be able to correctly convent the scientific consensus.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Bob said: But why would Christianity have a better answer? “God did it!” invites the question, “But where did God come from?” If you answer that by saying that God’s simply been around forever, I would (1) ask for scientific evidence of this and (2) suggest that a natural chain of events going back forever would be equally justified.

        The scientific method invites the question, “Can I use the scientific method to determine whether we can trust the scientific method? No – we can’t use the scientific method to validate itself. How then can I know it to be valid? I must use an alternative epistemology beyond the scientistic method to do so.”

        My point with the above — and I welcome your feedback — is that you and I rely on the scientific method for non-scientific reasons. Therefore, while you and I agree that asking for scientific evidence is generally a constructive approach, there are demonstrably important truths (such as the validity of the scientific method) that we deduce through methods other than science.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        The scientific method invites the question, “Can I use the scientific method to determine whether we can trust the scientific method? No – we can’t use the scientific method to validate itself. How then can I know it to be valid? I must use an alternative epistemology beyond the scientistic method to do so.”

        Suppose 1 + 1 = 2 were a fundamental statement, built on nothing else. Kinda scary having all of mathematics resting on this and a few more primitives.

        Is this faith? No, it’s trust. We demand that the statement hold true. We test it out in every way possible. And if we suddenly find a counterexample, we don’t consider questioning this foundational statement illegal or sacrilegious. No, we welcome the questioning and will discard whatever turns out to be false.

        We’re still evidence-based here. Faith is still of no use–it’s trust all the way. No question is off-limits. Etc.

        Does this address anything of what you were asking?

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Bob said: “We’re still evidence-based here. Faith is still of no use–it’s trust all the way. No question is off-limits. Etc.”

        Amen and amen. You and I are in agreement vis-a-vis trust versus faith. The word “Faith” as identified in many modern translations of historical Greek and Hebrew texts actually is more accurately translated as “Trust” or “Conviction”. Faith is not wishing. Rather, it is an act of trust based on being convinced of the truth because of evidence. As a Research Scientist and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, I have every confidence that the evidence we have for the supernatural soundly justifies trust in the existence of the supernatural.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Bob said: “The Big Bang is an expansion event” is the scientific consensus. [...] If you’re asking for details about the Big Bang theory, I’m the wrong guy to give them.

        I infer you are then using “authority” (from authority/experience/reason) in this case to determine what you believe to be true?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        I infer you are then using “authority” (from authority/experience/reason) in this case to determine what you believe to be true?

        Relying on the scientific consensus is not an example of the Appeal to Authority fallacy, if that’s what you’re getting at.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Bob said: [...] if we suddenly find a counterexample, we don’t consider questioning this foundational statement illegal or sacrilegious. No, we welcome the questioning and will discard whatever turns out to be false.

        Again, you and I agree on the need to seek out truth and reject what is false. I’ve tried to “faithfully” ;) take that approach as I’ve examined the ancient teachings of the philosopher Jesus of Nazareth.

        I once “lacked a god belief” ;) like you, and began examining the evidence of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and “The Way”. Jesus’ view was most consistent with the world I observed. The most challenging aspect of His views wasn’t recognizing the consistency and truth therein. Instead, the greatest challenge I faced was admitting the implications that those truths held for my life — I recognized that I needed to make dramatic changes in my attitude, my heart, and my behavior. Much time elapsed between when I acknowledged the truth and when I began living the truth, and I’m still working on these changes today, but in doing so, I’ve also become a better father, son, husband and brother. And since you and I agree on the need to seek truth and reject what is false, I’d love to dive into any of issues you have with the veracity of Jesus’ teachings.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Instead, the greatest challenge I faced was admitting the implications that those truths held for my life — I recognized that I needed to make dramatic changes in my attitude, my heart, and my behavior.

        I’ve heard this before, but it still sounds odd. Consider this truth claim: “Regular doses of vitamin C will prevent your scurvy.” How hard would it be to wrap my life around this truth claim after having scurvy and then trying some vitamin C? It would be trivial.

        We could ratchet up the stakes. Let’s imagine that getting vitamin C is very difficult–expensive or requires a lot of time to harvest just the right berries or something. I might not take vitamin C because it’s such a hassle, but the truth of the claim would never be in doubt once I’d given it a try.

        That Christian demands are difficult to follow is a consequence, IMO, of the evidence being so ephemeral.

        I’d love to dive into any of issues you have with the veracity of Jesus’ teachings.

        IMO, the truth claims of Christianity are as strong as those of any other religion. In other words–not strong in the least. If you want to take the top couple of reasons why anyone with a brain should be a Christian, I’d like to hear them.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        I have absolutely zero interest in whether truth exists if we can’t know it.

        Who said we can’t know it? Are you implying you believe truth exists but we can’t know it? Are you implying the examples of truth I’ve provided at your request are not truths? Is it true that someone using the name Bob Seidenbecker posted that they have ‘absolutely zero interest in whether truth exists if we can’t know it’?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Are you implying the examples of truth I’ve provided at your request are not truths? Is it true that someone using the name …

        No more trivial truth claims. Seriously. We’ve been over this. Yes, trivial statements can be true.

        Now, for the sake of the god that isn’t there, get on with it! Move on to interesting statements.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        I said:

        So you believe that it’s possible that torturing babies for entertainment may be moral in some instances?

        You said:

        Of course not. I’m simply saying that you’re dancing around the point.

        What point am I dancing around?

        You just stated that you believe that torturing babies for entertainment is immoral.

        Unless there is good reason to believe our reasoning is flawed, and I see none, we are justified in concluding to have found an objective truth, that is, a truth that is true for all people at all times, and is independent of the observer. Well done.

        BTW, 2+2=4, while “trivial” — have you seen the proof!?!? — also fits this bill and provides reasonable evidence for the existence of objective truth.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        What point am I dancing around?

        Your claim that there is objective truth. I’m still waiting for evidence (rather than just a claim).

        Unless there is good reason to believe our reasoning is flawed, and I see none, we are justified in concluding to have found an objective truth, that is, a truth that is true for all people at all times, and is independent of the observer. Well done.

        Huh?? I think we need to be a little more humble before we pat ourselves on the back and submit our truth to God to include in his Big Book of Morals.

        BTW, 2+2=4, while “trivial” — have you seen the proof!?!? — also fits this bill and provides reasonable evidence for the existence of objective truth.

        Perhaps you refer to Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica, which showed the incredibly involved foundation for 1 + 1 = 2. Granted. And yet you glibly figure that for really interesting questions (torture, in this case), if you and I agree, that’s enough to declare it an objective truth?! We’re most definitely not on the same page here.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        I said:

        If the evidence supplied above is insufficient in your view, please provide philosophically sound objections to the claim.

        You said:

        [...] But you’ve only shown why *you* believe this to be the case [...]

        I’ve given reasons. You’ve not rebutted them, you’ve said they’re my reasons. Yes they are my reasons. They’re either true or false. Could you kindly give a reason why you disagree with these reasons? Or simply admit that objective moral values exist :)

        I’ll also note again that you seem to want it both ways: you’re willing to use reason, experience and authority to support your faith in the scientific method, yet reject these same sources of evidence when assessing the evidence for objective morality. Why is that?

        So – two questions:

        1) why do you reject evidence from reason, experience and authority in support of objective morality?

        2) why do you accept evidence from reason, experience and authority in support of the scientific method?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Fred:

        Could you kindly give a reason why you disagree with these reasons?

        As far as they go, they’re fine. Have I not made this clear? My point is simply that you’re making a strong case about why you think something is wrong. Understood.

        Now tell my why this is binding on all people for all time.

        1) why do you reject evidence from reason, experience and authority in support of objective morality?

        Because we’re no closer to objective morality. (Or maybe we’re using this word differently. I suggest you give me your definition.)

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      Faith is not wishing.

      A pet peeve of mine is definitions switching midstream. Christians like to say that faith = trust, as you do. But then they reserve the right to play the old definition switcheroo and lighten up on the evidentiary requirements when it suits them. If the terms for these two ideas were “trust” and “blind faith,” that would be my preference.

      I have every confidence that the evidence we have for the supernatural soundly justifies trust in the existence of the supernatural.

      You’ll have to share some of this slam-dunk evidence with us sometime.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        I didn’t say “slam dunk”, you did. I said, “I have every confidence”, which is a colloquialism that can also be conveyed as “I’m confident …”, or “It appears highly probable …” I’m not infallible, and I could be wrong. But as you characterize your belief in atheism, I characterize my belief in theism, “I believe it to be the case (that is, I think that’s where the evidence points) that there is a god”

        There are 3 primary means by which we establish virtually all our beliefs:

        (1) reason (“upon deductive/inductive/abductive reflection I believe it to be true”);
        (2) experience (“My practical contact with and observation of facts or events lead me to believe it to be true”); and
        (3) authority (“a reputable expert has declared truth in their area of expertise, I trust their view and believe it to be true”).

        Not uncommonly, beliefs can be validated by using multiple means.

        I’m curious, given your expressed willingness to accept uncertainty in your world view, what means and with what level of evidence would you require to be convinced of the truth of theism?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        I didn’t say “slam dunk”, you did.

        Lighten up. I was only trying to approximate your point, not back you into a corner.

        I’m curious, given your expressed willingness to accept uncertainty in your world view…

        Do any of us have an alternative?

        … what means and with what level of evidence would you require to be convinced of the truth of theism?

        Christians say that it’s the most important issue of all, so that suggests that being very, very sure would be important. That this is absolutely unprecedented (objective disciplines like science and history recognize zero supernatural beings but zillions of faux ones) would also demand huge amounts of evidence. I can’t give you anything precise.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Can you imagine any type of evidence that would convince you of God’s existence? If so, what would that be?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        For starters, God knows what that would be even if I don’t. He hasn’t provided that. Maybe God is toying with me, like a cat with a dying bird. Or maybe the Problem of Divine Hiddenness is resolved by there being no god.

        But I digress. I don’t have a good answer for you, but the evidence that I’ve seen is not even in the ballpark. It’s miniscule, trivial. (Imagine how you see the evidence for Shinto or Baha’i. It’s like that.)

        If the stars rearranged themselves to spell out “Dude, get a clue! I exist. Love, God,” I might still not become a Christian. Is this a delusion? Maybe it’s not a delusion, but this “God” is Allah or Brahma. And you can imagine other questions.

        But note that this puzzling new predicament for me would have provided a huge, vast, immense amount more evidence than I have right now. It would actually put “God exists” into the category of plausible options. (As it is, God’s in the Mythology bin, rattling around with leprechauns and unicorns.)

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        … that doesn’t give us objective truth.

        So you believe that it’s possible that torturing babies for entertainment may be moral in some instances? If that’s the case, can you say why you believe that?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        So you believe that it’s possible that torturing babies for entertainment may be moral in some instances?

        Of course not. I’m simply saying that you’re dancing around the point.

        Is there objective truth? Show me. Don’t just give me a statement that we agree with–give me (1) an interesting statement (not something trivial like 1 + 1 = 2) and (2) show me that it is objectively true.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        And yet you glibly figure that for really interesting questions (torture, in this case), if you and I agree, that’s enough to declare it an objective truth?! We’re most definitely not on the same page here.

        Why don’t you tell me what you think would serve as sufficient evidence to establish that torturing babies for entertainment is objective truth. At this point:

        (a) you’ve agreed that truth exists
        (b) you’ve agreed that the law of non-contradiction is true
        (c) you’ve agreed that torturing babies for entertainment is immoral in all instances

        It seems from these premises we can conclude that:

        (a) truth exists
        (b) the law of non-contradiction is true, and
        (c) object moral truth exist

        But somewhere in this discourse you disagree. Help me understand where you disagree with the above.

        Also – I’m travelling and only be able to check in periodically over the next few days.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Why don’t you tell me what you think would serve as sufficient evidence to establish that torturing babies for entertainment is objective truth.

        You said that objective truth is absolute truth (true for all people, in all places at all times). Prove that there’s a god, and you’ve made a good start, but you haven’t even begun making that argument. Failing that, I can’t imagine how you’d even begin supporting such an enormous claim.

        I’m amazed that your standard for objective/absolute moral truth is so low. But perhaps I shouldn’t be. I remember feeling similar amazement when WLC’s argument that objective moral truths exist was something like “We just know that some things are morally right and wrong.” That’s it? We “just know”??

        I see two possibilities: (1) There is universal moral truth. (2) There are universally-held moral instincts. Both explain what we see around us, but one requires the enormous assumption of a universal-moral-truth giver while the other is 100% natural. Both of us must select the plausible natural explanation over the supernatural one IMO.

      • Fred Flinstone

        I’m amazed that your standard for objective/absolute moral truth is so low.

        Low in what sense? By what measure? Please explain.

        If my instincts tell me that 2+2=4, does that mean it cannot also be universally true? If so, then aren’t we back at the same question again:

        Given that reason, experience and authority (all methods for assessing truth) indicate that torturing babies for entertainment is immoral, what reason do you offer to support the claim that it is not an objective truth?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Low in what sense? By what measure? Please explain.

        What else can I say that I haven’t said already? By saying that a “truth” that is validated only because you and I agree on it is an “objective truth” mocks the definition that you gave us: an absolute truth that is true for all people at all times.

        Given that reason, experience and authority (all methods for assessing truth) indicate that torturing babies for entertainment is immoral, what reason do you offer to support the claim that it is not an objective truth?

        Yeah, apparently we are at the same question again, though I can’t imagine why. And I’ll give my same answer again: if “torturing babies is immoral” is an absolute truth, prove it. Your simply saying so doesn’t even begin to prove it. Seriously–you think that you could answer the question “prove that X is an absolute moral truth” in a college Philosophy class with “Well, I really feel strongly that it’s so, and my buddy Bob agrees, so that’s two of us”?

        I proposed two explanations for the morality that we see. Could you respond to that?

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        I see two possibilities: (1) There is universal moral truth. (2) There are universally-held moral instincts.

        Could I restate your options? I would do so for a couple reasons: (1) The two alternatives you propose don’t seem to be mutually exclusive, and (2) I’m not sure if we’ve yet concurred whether objective moral truth exists — I thought we were talking ontology, not epistemology — diving into “instincts” shifts to epistemological, rather than ontological questions. May I restate your options as:

        I see two possibilities: (1) There is universal moral truth. (2) There is no universal moral truth.

        Is that fair?

        I prefer clarity to speed because I believe this topic is important (as I’m sure you do too).

        So, do you agree that objective moral truth exists? (And since this thread is getting long, recall we’ve defined “objective truth” as being true “for all people at all times, and is independent of the observer.”)

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        (1) The two alternatives you propose don’t seem to be mutually exclusive

        Point out other alternatives if you find them.

        (2) I’m not sure if we’ve yet concurred whether objective moral truth exists

        I see zero evidence for objective moral truth, so, yes, that’s a point of disagreement.

        I see two possibilities: (1) There is universal moral truth. (2) There is no universal moral truth.

        Is that fair?

        No. That question is a valid one: is there objective moral truth? But my dichotomy remains. I still see two options (the Christian says that there is universal moral truth and the naturalist says that we’re simply seeing universally-held moral instincts). I obviously find that the second one explains the facts very well and is all natural. I’d like your reaction to this thinking.

        So, do you agree that objective moral truth exists? (And since this thread is getting long, recall we’ve defined “objective truth” as being true “for all people at all times, and is independent of the observer.”)

        No. Our own history makes this idea suspect. Slavery is now unthinkable. 200 years ago, that wasn’t true. Not giving women equal political rights is now unthinkable. 100 years ago, that wasn’t true. This unthinkable world (slavery, genocide, a subordinate position for women) is exactly what you find in the Bible. This shows that morals change.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Our own history makes this idea suspect. Slavery is now unthinkable. 200 years ago, that wasn’t true. Not giving women equal political rights is now unthinkable. 100 years ago, that wasn’t true. This unthinkable world (slavery, genocide, a subordinate position for women) is exactly what you find in the Bible. This shows that morals change.

        Bob you and I sadly agree that moral injustices do occur.

        But does pointing out that some “get it wrong” demonstrate that objective morality does not exist? Does asserting (incorrectly) that “1+1=3″ show that “1+1=2″ is not true?

        Is it your sense that 200 years ago there was no one who opposed those immoral principles? Do you think there are those today who would still support them, if given their way (e.g., tragically, child slavery is still alive and well)? How does your example and the reality that humans can a) recognize truth and ignore it, and/or b) have misguided instincts, say anything about the underlying existence of objective moral truth?

        This shows that morals change.

        I would modify your statement a bit to say your examples show that humans may interpret morality differently over time. That’s epistemology. We weren’t talking about epistemology — it was ontology. Your examples don’t address the existence of morality as an objective entity (ontology).

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        By the way, I’ll come back to this a bit later:

        I obviously find that the second one explains the facts very well and is all natural. I’d like your reaction to this thinking.

        I have some other work to do :)

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        But does pointing out that some “get it wrong” demonstrate that objective morality does not exist?

        Pretty much.

        Today, we think that slavery was wrong. In biblical times, they didn’t. Who’s right? Obviously, each party thinks that they’re right. Where’s the cosmic arbiter?

        Is it your sense that 200 years ago there was no one who opposed those immoral principles?

        200 years ago, we can imagine two groups of people, those in favor of slavery and those opposed. We think that one group was right and one wrong. But what makes our opinion any more correct in an absolute/transcendental sense than any other opinion?

        How does your example and the reality that humans can a) recognize truth and ignore it, and/or b) have misguided instincts, say anything about the underlying existence of objective moral truth?

        You’re begging the question. What does “recognize truth” mean? Are you saying that humans can recognize objective moral truth as objectively true? This is what you must prove.

        I would modify your statement a bit to say your examples show that humans may interpret morality differently over time.

        OK

        Your examples don’t address the existence of morality as an objective entity (ontology).

        Not surprising, since I don’t imagine that morals are objectively true/false. If you do, show me.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        I said:

        But does pointing out that some “get it wrong” demonstrate that objective morality does not exist?

        You said:

        Pretty much.

        Not sure what you mean by “pretty much.” Is that a yes or a no?

        If it’s a yes, can you say how? Again, just because I mistakenly say 1+1 equals 3, doesn’t prove that 1+1 does not equal 2.

        Highlighting immoral acts or beliefs does not prove that moral laws are not transcendant.

        Do you in any way believe there is an objective distinction between good and evil, right and wrong? When you reflect on your moral experience, why do you see any reason to distrust that experience than the experience of your five senses? I believe what my five senses tell me, that the world of physical objects exists. Similarly, in the absence of some reason to distrust my moral experience, I should accept what it tells me, that some things are objectively good or evil, right or wrong.

        I’ve yet to witness or read the history of a culture that believes it moral to torture babies for entertainment; I’ve yet to read the hypothesis of a trained sociologist or futurist who believes that in the future it will be morally proper to torture babies for entertainment; I cannot deduce a rationale for how it may become possible for a species to torture their babies for entertainment. Thus, here is an act that is in all ways, at all times, and for all entities, immoral — dare I say evil? This is a plainly objective moral truth. Why do you deny it to be so?

        The evidence for the existence of at least this single moral truth seems to be on at least equal footing as our faith in the scientific method, who’s veracity, I’m sure you recall, does not rest on the scientific method. We inductively rely on history, authority and reason to assert the scientific method’s ability to “answer the big questions.” And in parallel fashion we inductively rely on history, authority and reason to validate the unwavering moral truth that it is evil to torture babies for entertainment.

        Thus, we have at least one objective moral truth.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Not sure what you mean by “pretty much.” Is that a yes or a no?

        “Pretty much” means that I think that there’s evidence this way but that I can’t prove it.

        If it’s a yes, can you say how?

        I’m not sure where the problem lies. As you’ve noted, sometimes some people say that X is morally correct, and at other times and places, other people say that it’s morally wrong. This is evidence that objective morality doesn’t exist. I put the ball in your court: if you claim that objective morality exists, show me. I’ve seen no reason to imagine that it does.

        Highlighting immoral acts or beliefs does not prove that moral laws are not transcendant.

        Agreed. But it’s you who is making the remarkable claim.

        When you reflect on your moral experience, why do you see any reason to distrust that experience than the experience of your five senses?

        Huh?? (1) You and I probably agree on big moral issues and (2) I happily trust my senses when I get a very strong visceral feeling that X is morally right or wrong. Now, back to the question: how do we get objective moral truth from this?? How does this show that X is morally right for all people at all times, whether they believe it or not?

        I’ve yet to witness or read the history of a culture that believes it moral to torture babies for entertainment

        Nor have I. Now, back to the question: give me more than just your speculation. Your argument is, We all agree that X is morally wrong. Obviously, I agree!

        What does this have to do with objective moral truth?!

        When everyone in biblical times agreed that slavery was morally acceptable, was “slavery is A-OK” objectively true? “Widely accepted” isn’t the same thing as “objectively true.”

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        sometimes some people say that X is morally correct, and at other times and places, other people say that it’s morally wrong. This is evidence that objective morality doesn’t exist.

        Why does society’s fickle nature count as evidence for the absence of objective morality? That human kind at one point believed leaches to be a treatment for anemia in no way implies that a treatment for anemia does not exists. So the above claim does no go through.

        My claim is the following:

        A. There are three, and only three, sources of knowledge to ascertain truth: 1) reason, 2) experience, and 3) authority.

        B. Reason: I cannot deduce, nor have you produced, a plausible rationale for how it may become possible for a species to torture their babies for entertainment.

        C. Experience: I’ve not engaged in, witnessed, nor read the history of, nor have you presented evidence of a culture that believes it moral to torture babies for entertainment

        D. Authority: There are no assertions from trained sociologist, futurist, philosophers, or other relevant stakeholders who believe that in the future it will be morally proper to torture babies for entertainment

        E. Thus, reflecting upon sources of evidence including reason, experience or authority, here is an act that is in all ways, at all times, and for all entities, immoral. This is a plainly objective moral truth.

        So:

        Based on the evidence supplied, to deny (E) is to claim, at a minimum, that you’re unsure if it’s an objective moral principle, and at most, that torturing babies for entertainment can be morally proper in certain circumstances. There seems no place for, “objective morality doesn’t exist.” (and asserting that society gets it wrong is not evidence for the absence of objective moral truths)

        If the evidence supplied above is insufficient in your view, please provide philosophically sound objections to the claim.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Fred:

        Why does society’s fickle nature count as evidence for the absence of objective morality?

        I have no need to provide evidence of the absence of objective morality. The burden of proof is yours.

        E. Thus, reflecting upon sources of evidence including reason, experience or authority, here is an act that is in all ways, at all times, and for all entities, immoral. This is a plainly objective moral truth.

        In all times, in all ways, and for all entities?? You’ve done a good job showing why you believe that it’s immoral, but that’s it. (But let me congratulate you: I’ve never heard anything this substantial in any William Lane Craig debates. At least you’re trying. He doesn’t even try–he just handwaves that we “all know” that something is morally true and assumes that proves the existence of objective moral truth.)

        Maybe the problem is simply with the word “objective.” If you are using it to refer to things that you think are binding on everyone (or should be), fine. But you’ve not taken any steps to show that they actually are.

        Let me again offer two possibilities: “torturing babies is wrong” is either (1) a universal moral truth (your view) or (2) a universally-held moral instinct (my view). Option 2 is preferred because it explains the facts and it’s all natural. No supernatural anything needs to be imagined.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        (I posted in the wrong spot — thread’s getting too long)

        I said:

        If the evidence supplied above is insufficient in your view, please provide philosophically sound objections to the claim.

        You said:

        [...] But you’ve only shown why *you* believe this to be the case [...]

        I’ve given reasons. You’ve not rebutted them, you’ve said they’re my reasons. Yes they are my reasons. They’re either true or false. Could you kindly give a reason why you disagree with these reasons? Or simply admit that objective moral values exist :)

        I’ll also note again that you seem to want it both ways: you’re willing to use reason, experience and authority to support your faith in the scientific method, yet reject these same sources of evidence when assessing the evidence for objective morality. Why is that?

        So – two questions:

        1) why do you reject evidence from reason, experience and authority in support of objective morality?

        2) why do you accept evidence from reason, experience and authority in support of the scientific method?

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        [...] let me congratulate you: I’ve never heard anything this substantial in any William Lane Craig debates. At least you’re trying [...]

        I appreciate your kind words.

    • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

      Bob said: Relying on the scientific consensus is not an example of the Appeal to Authority fallacy, if that’s what you’re getting at.

      No – not at all. I am not claiming a flaw in your reasoning. I was making the simple observation that w.r.t. the Big Bang early universe cosmology (e.g., on the order of planck time), we rely on authority to determine what is true, correct?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        No – not at all. I am not claiming a flaw in your reasoning. I was making the simple observation that w.r.t. the Big Bang early universe cosmology (e.g., on the order of planck time), we rely on authority to determine what is true, correct?

        I wouldn’t phrase it that way. I would say that we laymen rely on the scientific consensus to get society’s best approximation to the truth at the moment.

    • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

      Bob said: Maybe God is toying with me, like a cat with a dying bird.

      I think a lot of people have wrestled with these issues. Why do you think He might be toying with you?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        I have zero evidence that he is. That God is toying with me is simply one way to square the Christian view of the world with reality. (And not a very good way, as I hope I made clear.)

    • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

      Bob said: If you want to take the top couple of reasons why anyone with a brain should be a Christian, I’d like to hear them.

      OK. Do you agree with the following statements?

      - Truth is discovered, not invented and is independent of anyone’s knowledge of it.
      - Truth is transcultural. if something is true, it is true for all people, in all places at all times.
      - Truth is unchanging even though our beliefs about truth change
      - Beliefs don’t change a fact, no matter how sincerely they are held.
      - All truth is objective.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        If you make a true statement, how do you know? All we have are approximations. “The earth is flat” isn’t a bad approximation for everyday tasks, but it’s not true. “The earth is a sphere” is a much better approximation, but it’s also not true. “The earth is an oblate spheroid with a rough surface” is better still, but science wouldn’t call this true. (True for all practical purposes, perhaps, but not true.)

        I’ve never seen a nontrivial objective truth. Show me one. Is 1 + 1 = 2 objectively true? Maybe, but that’s uninteresting. Give me something meaty–”abortion is always wrong” or “capital punishment is always wrong,” for example.

        (And I suppose we should make sure we’re using the same definition of “objective.”)

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        The reason I’m starting with truth is that if we can’t agree on what truth is, we can’t have a conversation about evaluating truth claims.

        Let’s start with the first one. Do you agree that truth is discovered, not invented and is independent of anyone’s knowledge of it?

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        If you make a true statement, how do you know?

        Knowing truth is different than deciding whether truth exists at all (epistemology vs ontology) I’m starting with ontology.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        give me something meaty–”abortion is always wrong” or “capital punishment is always wrong,” for example.

        Torturing babies for entertainment is wrong.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Do you agree that truth is discovered, not invented and is independent of anyone’s knowledge of it?

        I reject the question for the same reason that I reject the question “How many corners does a circle have?” It’s confusing. It directs us down the wrong road.

        We can perhaps agree that the most trivial statements are true: 1 + 1 = 2 or “I just dropped the ball” (assuming you just witnessed it). But this doesn’t help us with interesting statements.

        I’d rather focus on questions like objective truth. If you say it exists, show me.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Knowing truth is different than deciding whether truth exists at all (epistemology vs ontology) I’m starting with ontology.

        I have absolutely zero interest in whether truth exists if we can’t know it. This is as useless as wondering how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

        The claim, “Truth exists, and we can know it” is interesting. Defend that if you’d like.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Torturing babies for entertainment is wrong.

        I agree. Just because we both agree (and even granting that we’re both incredibly intelligent and very good looking), that doesn’t give us objective truth.

        (And BTW, you should probably define “objective truth.”)

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        I reject the question for the same reason that I reject the question “How many corners does a circle have?” It’s confusing.

        Not only is the example question you use confusing, it’s logically contradictory. Are you saying that by my asking you if truth is discovered, not invented and is independent of anyone’s knowledge of it that I’m asking a logically contradictory question?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Are you saying that by my asking you if truth is discovered, not invented and is independent of anyone’s knowledge of it that I’m asking a logically contradictory question?

        Nope–just a question that confuses us. I say yes, truth is discovered (or the opposite), and this makes the claim that truth is an accessible trait of interesting sentences. I disagree that this is the case.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        I have absolutely zero interest in whether truth exists if we can’t know it.

        Shouldn’t one decide whether one believes an entity exists before one seeks to know details about said entity?

        I’m happy to give you more evidences, but you still have to decide whether you’re willing to believe in the existence of objective truths (ie, absolute truth, ie, true for all people, in all places at all times):

        More objective truths:
        - You stated you believe it to be the case that there is no god.
        - 2+2 = 4 (you stated this truth was trivial. Why should triviality be an exclusion criteria? If something is true, it’s true)
        - law of identity is true (a=a)
        - law of non-contradiction is true (proposition ‘a’ cannot be both ‘a’ and ‘not a’ at the same time and in the same sense)
        - law of excluded middle is true (proposition ‘a’ is either ‘a’ or ‘not a’ but not something else)

        So with that, do you believe truth is discovered, not invented and is independent of anyone’s knowledge of it?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Shouldn’t one decide whether one believes an entity exists before one seeks to know details about said entity?

        Again, this is only interesting if the entity exists and we can access it. I only have interest in something accessible.

        objective truths (ie, absolute truth, ie, true for all people, in all places at all times)

        OK, let’s try to use that definition.

        More objective truths:

        These are all trivial. Give me something interesting. Go back to your torture claim and show me that that is objectively true, for example.

        So with that, do you believe truth is discovered, not invented and is independent of anyone’s knowledge of it?

        Why are we still at this point? If the question is trivial (1 + 1 = 2, say), I don’t have anything interesting to say. I don’t much care whether this truth is discovered or invented.

        And if the question is interesting (“abortion is always wrong,” say), I don’t see how you can make an absolute truth claim about it.

    • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

      The claim, “Truth exists, and we can know it” is interesting. Defend that if you’d like.

      Is the following statement true: Bob wrote the claim, “Truth exists, and we can know it” is interesting.

      If so, then truth exists.

      Bob, I’ll ask you one last time: do you believe truth is discovered, not invented and is independent of anyone’s knowledge of it?

      If not, why not?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Is the following statement true: Bob wrote the claim, “Truth exists, and we can know it” is interesting.

        If so, then truth exists.

        You do see the point I have made several times about trivial vs. interesting? This statement is trivial. Neither of us cares.

        Move on to interesting truth claims.

        Bob, I’ll ask you one last time…

        There is a god! :-)

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        So since we agree that at least “trivial” truth exists, do you believe that the law of non-contradiction is true?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Yes.

    • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

      No more trivial truth claims. Seriously. We’ve been over this. Yes, trivial statements can be true.

      I’m glad to hear you agree with me that truth exists.

      Please know that I’m not trying to be pedantic, but to clarify the “trivial” issue you raise — because it’s confusing me a bit. “Trivial” is defined as, “Of little value or importance” or “Concerned only with trifling or unimportant things.”

      Why should the qualities of “value” or “importance” (clearly subjective measures) be used to assess objective truths? It doesn’t make sense to me. Truth is truth, whether it’s “profound and/or interesting” or “pedestrian and/or trivial”, right?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Please know that I’m not trying to be pedantic, but to clarify the “trivial” issue you raise — because it’s confusing me a bit. “Trivial” is defined as, “Of little value or importance” or “Concerned only with trifling or unimportant things.”

        Trivial means not complicated. 1 + 1 = 2 is not complicated or mind wrenching. No one questions the claim. “Abortion is always wrong” is the opposite.

        Are we on the same page yet?

        (And I pray to the god that isn’t there that this conversation will pick up speed. Can you oblige me?)

  • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

    By the way Bob – I appreciate your willingness to dialog!

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      My pleasure! Thanks for your input.

      • http://gravatar.com/asdnet Fred Flinstone

        Hey Bob — gotta go. Will check back later.

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