A Dozen Responses to the Transcendental Argument for God (3 of 3)

We conclude our responses to the Transcendental Argument (TAG) here. I introduced the argument and begin in part 1.

9. Transcendental Argument for theNon-existence of God (TANG)

TANG is a variant on TAG. It supposes that God created everything, including logic. But then logic is dependent on God—it’s contingent. Said another way, logic isn’t logically necessary. The laws of logic are then arbitrary, and God could’ve made them something else. X and not-X could both be true, for example.

You may enjoy logic as we know it, but TAG says that it’s not as absolute as you thought.

10. Some things don’t need supernatural explanations

I’ve always found the claim, “Well, if there are moral or logical laws, there must be a lawgiver!” to be a mindless applause line.

When falling sand in an hourglass forms a cone, does that require a supernatural cone maker? When a river changes course as it meanders over a flat valley, does that demand a river designer? When there is an earthquake, must the timing and placement of that be supernaturally ordained? No, there natural explanations for all these things.

Similarly, the question “Why these fundamental laws and not others?” doesn’t demand the supernatural. To support a claim of supernatural grounding, we need the evidence.

11. An answer without evidence is no answer

“God did it” explains everything. Therefore, it explains nothing. “God did it” is a solution searching for a problem, and apologists thinks they’ve found one with “What grounds logic?”

But “God did it” is simply a repackaging of “I don’t know.” It tells us nothing new. I’m no smarter after hearing “God did it” than before. How did God do it? Why did God do it? Did he break any scientific laws to do it? Who is this guy and where did he come from? This is an answer that just brings forth yet more questions, and it never comes with any evidence to back it up. Since the apologist answers “I don’t know” to each of these new fundamental questions, let’s just save a step and avoid replacing a natural “I don’t know” with a supernatural one.

And which scientists, on hearing and believing TAG, say, “Well, I guess my job is pointless now, so I’ll go be a plumber”? That “explanation” doesn’t explain anything; it simply relabels “We don’t know.”

12. TAG asks a poor question

The Edge had an interesting list of scientists’ musings on a similar topic. I’ll summarize a few points from physicists Sean Carroll and Jeremy Bernstein.

We’re used to asking questions about nature. What causes earthquakes? Why do the continents move? Why is the sun hot? It seems natural to then ask, “Why does logic work?”

But that’s a different kind of question. Earthquakes, continents, stars, molecules, and the elements of nature are part of a larger whole. Asking about the fundamental properties of reality is instead asking about the whole.

The demand to explain the laws of reality is malformed—explain in terms of what? There’s no larger context in which to explain them. The buck stops with these fundamental properties.

Caltrop arguments

I first heard the TAG argument when it was given as a challenge by apologist Matt Slick during a live radio interview ten years ago. Here’s a tip: a radio interview is not the best place to hear a new argument against your position.

And that’s the point. That’s why TAG is a good argument—not that it’s accurate but that it’s confusing.

I call this category of argument caltrop arguments—arguments made simply to slow down an opponent. They’re good for scoring rhetorical points, not for revealing the truth.

You can make your argument so simple that there are obviously no errors. Or you can make it so complicated that there are no obvious errors (Hoare’s Dictum). Said more colloquially, if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Gods are fragile things; 
they may be killed by a whiff of science 
or a dose of common sense. 
— Chapman Cohen

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 12/9/13.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

 

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  • Halbe

    “Logic exists and therefore God exists, who else could have created logic?”
    – “Ehm, okay… so can God create a stone He cannot lift?”
    “No, that is illogical, and God cannot do things that contradict logic”
    – “Ehm, okay… so God created logic but He cannot change it, and He cannot contradict it? Is He bound by other laws as well? Does not sound all that omnipotent too me.”
    “Well ehm… yeah, you know, ehm… logic is different you know.”
    – “Ehm, okay… different how exactly?”
    “… MYSTERIOUS WAYS!”

    • Tony D’Arcy

      Can God create a world without poverty, inequality, disease, warfare, and death ? It seems not. Mysterious ways or not, the old codger never DOES ANYTHING ! Almost as if He weren’t there !

  • Doubting Thomas

    The laws of logic don’t need a lawgiver because, much like the laws of nature, they’re descriptive, not prescriptive.

    And logic doesn’t necessarily work. In much the same way that bad math (2+2=5) doesn’t work because it doesn’t accurately describe reality, bad logic (X=notX) is simply logic that doesn’t accurately describe reality.

    We figured out logic. It wasn’t something handed down from on high.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      … bad logic (X=notX) is simply logic that doesn’t accurately describe reality.

      I would argue the opposite. The usual two-value logic (something cannot be both X and notX) is part of abstract mathematics, it may fail when you try to take it into the real world. Example: are viruses alive? Things get messy out there in the real world.

      • Doubting Thomas

        The logical premise still holds up even when things are on a spectrum. For example, viruses couldn’t be 2/3 alive and not 2/3 alive at the same time.

  • Major Major

    Alex Malpass does a sit down with Matt Slick over why the Transcendental Argument is not even a good argument. Another good source would be Ozymandias Ramses II, who also talks about presupp apologetics and properly basic beliefs. I suck at linking them, but they are good to search out on Youtube.

  • Taneli Huuskonen

    I was the one who created logic, and I’m immune to any logical arguments to the contrary.

  • Tommy

    Maybe OT. I’ve posted this on another thread but it got ate up as spam for some reason, so I’ll post it here again. Here’s a hypothetical discussion between me and a christian apologist:

    Christian Apologist: Of course the universe has a creator! All scientific and all physical, natural evidence testifies to a creator!

    Tommy: So, about this creator. Is it a he or a she or an it?

    Christian Apologist: It’s a being! It has a mind! It’s a consciousness! The creator is a person! We believers call it a ‘he’!

    Tommy: So, about ‘him’; is he a natural being like you and me or is he ‘supernatural’?

    Christian Apologist: He is supernatural! He is above nature! He created nature! He is not bound by natural laws or made up of atoms! He’s a spiritual being! A spiritual being is not of this world!

    Tommy: So you believe supernatural ‘spiritual’ beings exist? What evidence do you have that supernatural/spiritual beings exist? Can you demonstrate it through the scientific method?

    Christian Apologist: You silly deist! That question has no meaning! You’re asking me to provide natural/physical evidence of non-natural and non-physical beings! It is impossible! You cannot prove the supernatural using the natural!

    Tommy: So what you are telling me is that I cannot demonstrate the supernatural/spiritual using the scientific method, nor is there any physical/natural way to prove their existence?

    Christian Apologist: Of course!

    Tommy: If that is true, then your statement ‘All scientific and all physical, natural evidence testifies to a creator!’ is false since the creator you posited is a supernatural/spiritual being and you further explained that it is impossible to provide natural/physical evidence of non-natural and non-physical beings and that one cannot prove the supernatural using the natural. You then confirmed that I cannot demonstrate the supernatural/spiritual using the scientific method, nor is there any physical/natural way to prove their existence.

    Christian Apologist: ……………

    Tommy: Hello? Are you still with me?

    Christian Apologist: Why do you hate Jesus so much?

    • https://www.jonmorgan.info Jon Morgan

      Nice conversation.

      Re: Spam
      May or may not be relevant to your comment, but I have a theory that the Disqus spam checker attacks edits. Just about every one of my comments that have been marked as spam were where I saw an error in the comment and edited it. Annoying.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    TAG: “You are honest enough to admit you don’t have absolute certainty and I’m not, therefore I win.”

    Oh shit, you got me there.

    • Tommy

      TAG: “You are honest enough to admit you don’t have absolute certainty and I’m not, therefore I win.”

      Presuppositional apologetics in a nutshell.

  • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

    Not quite, boys. For instance, #9 is absolutely (pun intended) mistaken. TAG proponents (although I am more humble in what I think TAG does) such as myself argue that logic is a necessary character of the divine nature – God is a perfectly rational being. That is a very important point. If God is a necessary being, then God exists in all possible worlds. And if logic is a property of the divine nature as we claim that it is, then logic is necessary in all possible worlds. And if logic is necessary in all possible worlds, that is by definition, absolute. Therefore, Bob is horribly mistaken in his understanding on TAG and logic.

    I have not reviewed Bob’s 12 responses to TAG but it is next up on my list once I complete his amusing 10 objections piece. Having dismantled those objections easily, I suspect that if #9 above is any indication, Bob is probably not competent to critique TAG. I could be mistaken about that. Time will tell.

    • epeeist

      Having dismantled those objections easily

      I think the only response to this is

      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-tOHfXsuCi2A/UAR-aWhhiHI/AAAAAAAADds/GEPBcd-ogfU/s1600/roflmfao.jpg

      • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

        Of course…what other response could you have. A rational argument? A critical review of why my statement is wrong? Now that is silly.

        • epeeist

          You have been given lots of rational (and empirical) arguments by a number of people here. All you have done in response to them is produce bare assertion after ideological assertion.

          Oh, and bullshit, lots and lots of bullshit.

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          What an uninteresting comment…yawn.

        • epeeist

          What an uninteresting comment…yawn.

          And yet, as is usual for you, you offer no rebuttal.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Who’s got the Big Swinging Dick today? Looks like it’s Big Ed yet again.

          Does your arrogant approach ever make friends? Or does it annoy everyone?

        • Otto

          Solipsism is lonely business.

        • epeeist

          Solipsism is lonely business.

          Not completely lonely, as Bertrand Russell noted.

          I once received a letter from an eminent logician, Mrs. Christine Ladd-Franklin, saying that she was a solipsist, and was surprised that there were no others. Coming from a logician and a solipsist, her surprise surprised me.

    • Otto

      Logic is a product of the universe being consistent with itself. The rest of your post is blather.

      • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

        Uh….logic is the universe being logical? What? Logic are immaterial laws, abstractions, not extended in the physical universe. So much for materialism. Yet, one more thing that naturalism cannot explain.

        • epeeist

          Uh….logic is the universe being logical? What? Logic are immaterial laws, abstractions, not extended in the physical universe.

          Which logic, there are many (see something like Susan Haack’s The Philosophy of Logics for more details)

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          Red herring alert…red herring alert. Ignore…ignore..ignore.

        • epeeist

          Red herring alert.

          So you aren’t aware of any other logic besides what, propositional calculus?

          Oh, I have mentioned Quine before. At one time he proposed that both logic and mathematics were revisable in the light of experience. In other words, an empiricist view of logic.

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          Gee…what sort of logic would cause one to think that logic could be revised? Is there already a law of logic being invoked to say that laws of logic can be revised? Fascinating! How can one experience that a contradiction is no longer possible? Or that A is not both non-A and A at the same time and in the same way? Like I said, not wasting my time on theories and ideas that are nothing more than the attempt to salvage views that are collapsing under the weight of their own absurdities.

        • epeeist

          Or that A is not both non-A and A at the same time and in the same way?

          You obviously aren’t aware of paraconsistent logic or the school of mathematics that rejects the law of excluded middle. Or quantum logic for that matter.

        • Herald Newman

          Since logic is an analytic system, you can define a system in just about any way you want, as long as you aren’t starting with contradictory axioms. One of the beautiful things about math and logic.

          Note that if you want to use such a system outside of your mind, you’re going to need to show that it maps onto reality in some way, or in some circumstances.

        • Otto

          The ‘laws’ of logic begin with the logical absolutes which start with what we see in the materialistic universe. This is easily demonstrable, something you can’t do with your claim logic originates with God, which is why you need to presuppose that claim.

        • Greg G.

          Lifeforms with brains use heuristics for survival by using any means that helps. Humans have separated the methods that are always true from the ones that are almost always true or simply prudent. Those that are always true are called logic. Those that are almost always true are called fallacies.

          Presuppositionalism is crap.

      • Herald Newman

        Logic is a product of the universe being consistent with itself.

        I don’t entirely agree with that. That is what logic is describing, not logic itself. Logic is simply a tool we invented to help us describe reality. Logic is the product of minds trying to make sense of a universe that is consistent.

        • Otto

          Logic is describing the universe being consistent with itself, i.e. it is a product of that fact and minds thinking about that fact. I think we are in agreement, the brevity of my statement probably didn’t help.

    • Michael Neville

      If God is a necessary being, then God exists in all possible worlds.

      That’s a very big if and you’ve come nowhere close to providing the slightest evidence for that if.

      • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

        The point, which you failed to see or deliberately chose not to see, or ignorantly do not see is that Bob’s analysis on the relationship between God and logic is terribly mistaken. It is a basic, rudimentary misunderstanding of TAG and what TAG proponents claim about God and his relationship to logic. That is the point.

        There is no possible world in which logic does not exist. Therefore, necessarily, logic. If logic, then God. Therefore, necessarily, if logic, then God. Therefore, necessarily, God. By the way, naturalism cannot ground logic. Naturalism cannot make intelligibility, intelligible. This means that one has to presuppose God in order to deny God.

        If intelligibility, God.
        Intelligibility
        Therefore, God.

        In intelligibility, God.
        ~Intelligibility
        Therefore, God. (the denial of intelligibility is self-refuting)

        If naturalism, ~intelligibility.
        Naturalism
        Therefore, ~intelligibility (skepticism) (the denial of intelligibility is self-refuting)

        If naturalism is intelligible, ~naturalism
        Naturalism is intelligible
        Therefore, ~naturalism. (the claim for naturalism is self-refuting)

        If ~naturalism, God
        ~Naturalism
        Therefore, God (as the only alternative to ~naturalism)

        • epeeist

          If intelligibility, God.

          Dogmatic assertion, why should I accept it as true?

          If naturalism, ~intelligibility.

          Bare assertion, why should I accept it as true?

          If ~naturalism, God
          ~Naturalism
          Therefore, God (as the only alternative to ~naturalism)

          And this of course is definitely a false dichotomy.

        • Dys

          Ed presupposed he’s right, and anyone that disagrees with him is wrong.

          And his only real fallback is “God can account for anything by definition” and assumes he wins by default.

        • epeeist

          Ed presupposed he’s right, and anyone that disagrees with him is wrong.

          Something I have over the years come to refer to as “thinking with the mouth”. It passes straight from the dogma to the mouth (or in this case, keyboard) without touching the brain on the way.

        • Rudy R

          There is no possible world in which logic does not exist. Therefore, necessarily, logic. If logic, then no God. Therefore, necessarily, if logic, then no God.

          See how easy that is to refute?

          Funny thing about premises. If they are not proven to be true, then they are just unproven assertions and the argument is not sound.

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          The premise, if logic, no God is without backing. You cannot prove that because there is logic, there is no God. Therefore, your argument while valid, is false.

          The existence of logic in no way supports the belief there is no God. On the other hand, the existence of logic does actually provide support for the belief, God. How? Logic requires a mind. Since you seem to agree that logic is necessarily the case, and it is uncontroversial that logic requires a mind, it logically (hahaha) follows that logic requires a necessary mind, a mind that is the case in all possible worlds. An absolute mind. See how that works? if necessarily Logic, then necessarily mind. And if necessarily mind, necessarily God’s mind. If necessarily God’s mind, necessarily God.

        • Rudy R

          Logic does not require a mind. The three fundamental laws of logic, which is the foundation of all logic, would be true without a mind.

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          Really? Laws of logic are propositions. Propositions are impossible without a mind. If there is no one to think it, it isn’t a proposition. Laws of logic are propositional in nature. No language = no logic.

          Logic is concerned with correct and incorrect reasoning. Logic is essentially the study of the use of human reason. This is why atheism cannot account for logic. It realizes that logic is necessary but since humans are not, it is at a loss for where to go. So you come up with nonsense like logic doesn’t require a mind. Absolutely absurd on the very face of it.

          This is why many find logic a strong or forceful argument for God. But I realize that your bias cannot possibly allow for a strong or forceful argument for God. So, you will retreat into absurdity like this.

          Logic indeed requires a mind. If logic is necessary, it requires more than a human mind, it requires a necessary mind. If logic does not require a mind, then I can believe that the sky is blue and the sky is not blue at the same time and in the same sense and no one should accuse me of being irrational. In fact, there is no irrational. Nonsense follows…utter nonsense.

          This also introduces another problem you boys cannot explain: human language.

        • Rudy R

          Yes, really, logic does not require a mind. For instance, the law of non-contradiction makes it is impossible for both p and not p to be true. A tree cannot both exist and not exist at the same time. It’s essentially an axiom; it’s evidently true, whether a mind has awareness of this fact, or not.

        • Herald Newman

          Laws of logic are propositions.

          Not really. I suppose you can call a tautology a proposition, but it’s a useless proposition.

          Logic is descriptive, and analytical. Yes, logic requires a mind, but it is not some innate property of the universe. This is where your thinking is muddled.

          The three laws of logic are:
          1. Law of identity. (P therefore P)
          2. Law of excluded middle (P OR NOT P)
          3. Law of non-contradiction (NOT (P AND NOT P))

          At their most basic, these three “laws” are effectively tautologies, given our definitions of binary logic. In essence, the laws of logic are always true because they really cannot not be true.

          Logic is an invention of human minds!

          EDIT: I think I fucked up the expression for the law of identity. Something seems wrong about this one, but I can’t find my reference. I’m thinking it should be (P AND P)

        • epeeist

          I think I fucked up the expression for the law of identity.

          (∀x) (x = x)

        • Herald Newman

          (∀x) (x = x)

          I’m aware of that one. I thought there was an expression involving only logical terms?!

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          the law of identity is simply p is p, or p is not ~p.

          Logic is NOT an invention of human minds, otherwise, it cannot always be true because human minds were at one time, not the case. This would make logic contingent, not necessary. Additionally, the laws of logic can be violated and, as I have seen on this thread, they are more often than not. This is unlike the laws of nature.

          To say that p is p is a proposition. To say that p or ~p is a proposition. To say that ~(p and ~p) is a proposition. The laws of logic force themselves on the human mind. They are irresistible. But to call them inventions of the human mind is simply not the case. If you have some proof that the laws of logic are inventions of the human mind, I am certainly interested in reading it. Take it away.

        • Herald Newman

          Logic is NOT an invention of human minds, otherwise, it cannot always be
          true because human minds were at one time, not the case.

          Do you accept the analytic/synthetic distinction? If you don’t, I’m wasting my time.

          This would make logic contingent, not necessary

          Yes. I accept that logic is contingent, and not necessary. Why do you think logic is necessary?

          Additionally, the laws of logic can be violated

          Cool. Then you should have no trouble formulating a logical expression, which is true, that breaks one of the three “laws”.

          But to call them inventions of the human mind is simply not the case.

          Asserted, but not demonstrated. If logiç is something real, and exists outside of human minds, prove it!

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          To say that something is necessary is to say that it is true in all possible worlds. It means that its denial is self-contradictory.

          You will have to prove that human minds invented the laws of logic. Perhaps you can point to the historical event itself when there was a time that the law of non-contradiction did not exist while the human mind did exist. What would have led the mind to “invent” the laws of logic?

          I can see it now: back in the good old days when you could be right about A and exactly wrong about it at the same time. I remember when I was right about A and right about ~A at the same time. I really miss those days.

          One word: poppycock.

          To say that the mind preceded logic is to say that there was a time when logic did not exist…until some mind thought it up. But the laws of logic are such that unless they already were in play, no mind would have ever invented them. In other words, only the laws of logic could have given rise to the laws of logic. Without them, you can’t get to them. You can’t get started. And I do think that from the very first human mind, there was already ~(A and ~A). The mind could never function without logic…EVER. Try and picture a mind operating without logic. Good luck.

        • Otto

          Feel free to jump to the part where ‘Logic = Jesus’.

        • Herald Newman

          You will have to prove that human minds invented the laws of logic.

          The laws of logic, just like mathematics, are analytical systems that humans invented in order to help us describe reality.

          As the old saying goes, don’t confuse the map for the the terrain.

          What would have led the mind to “invent” the laws of logic?

          A desire to be able to analytically describe reality and be able to better communicate how reality behaves.

          I remember when I was right about A and right about ~A at the same time. I really miss those days.

          Again, confusing the map for the terrain. Unless you’re a platonic realist, logic doesn’t exist without humans. The universe was consistent with itself without humans, but minds were needed to recognize it.

          The same is true of mathematics,, all of which is meaningless without a mind to sort it out.

        • Rudy R

          Logic is NOT an invention of human minds, otherwise, it cannot always be true…Additionally, the laws of logic can be violated…

          So which is it? Logic can always be true or can be violated?

        • Herald Newman

          So which is it? Logic can always be true or can be violated?

          I missed this obvious contradiction.

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          Wow. You actually got 4 up votes on that which tells me I am wasting my time. Ever heard of person contradict themselves before? Does that contradiction do anything to nullify the laws of logic? If it did, we wouldn’t have laws of logic now would we?

        • Otto

          That is like saying flying an airplane is violating the laws of gravity. The law is not violated in either case.

          Humans can be illogical, doing so does not violate the laws of logic.

          Wake me up when you get to the ‘Logic = Jesus’ part.

        • Rudy R

          Dude, what’s with you and up votes? Frankly, I couldn’t give a shit. Secondly, YOU contradicted yourself; not the laws of logic. Sometimes, you just gotta say, oops, fucked up.

        • Michael Neville

          Logic is NOT an invention of human minds

          Guess again. Logic was invented independently by the Greeks, Chinese and Sanskriti Indians. These three logic systems are similar but not identical, but all are valid. That means the systems all have three things: consistency (none of the theorems of the system contradict one another); soundness (the system’s rules of proof will never allow a false inference from a true premise); and completeness (there are no true sentences in the system that cannot, at least in principle, be proved in the system).

          Learn more about logic before you make stupid claims about it. It’s quite obvious that your knowledge of logic consists of little more than skimming a wikipedia article

        • Michael Neville

          Logic was invented independently by the Greeks, the Chinese and the Sanskriti Indians. It considers the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. The Greek version, which we are most familiar with, is based on three laws. These are axioms, statements which are assumed to be true but are not proven.

          The three laws of logic are: The Law of Identity, A equals A; the Law of Contradiction, A does not equal ~A; and the Law of the Excluded Middle, either A or ~A. No gods are required for these axioms to provide a basis for logic.

          Ed, you really suck at this Phil-101 stuff.

          This means that one has to presuppose God in order to deny God.

          I’ve already explained that presuppositionalism is a logical fallacy. You keep incorrectly declaring arguments to be “begging the question”. Presup actually is begging the question.

    • epeeist

      If God is a necessary being, then God exists in all possible worlds.

      Total aside, in all of Plantinga’s efforts on behalf of Christianity using modal logic does he ever use anything stronger than S5?

  • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

    For those who claim to be philosophically informed, the position, it seems to a person that those in this thread affirm is “Classical Foundationalism.”

    This (CF) position asserts: A person is justified in accepting a belief if and only if either the belief is properly basic for him/her (self-evident, incorrigible, or evident to the senses) OR the belief is held on the the evidential basis of propositions that are properly basic and that evidentially support the belief deductively, inductively, or abductively.

    What I have said about (CF) all along, and have been completely ignored, is that (CF) itself isn’t properly basic in that it is NOT self-evident, NOT incorrigible, and NOT evident to the senses. This means it must be held on the basis of other beliefs.
    But so far, no one in the literature has been able to demonstrate that (CF) is supported by other beliefs that are properly basic and that support (CF) deductively, inductively, or abductively.

    What this means is that (CF) is not justified itself. So either it is false or it is such a belief that it goes contrary to duty in accepting it. Either way, no one should accept it.

    Now, if (CF) is false or should not be accepted, anything that is grounded on (CF) should not be accepted. The claim that Christianity is irrational and should not be believed, at least in this comments thread, has been entirely grounded on the value of (CF). Since (CF) is self-refuting or false or unjustified, it only follows that the objections against Christian that are based on it are groundless. They should be vacated by any rational thinker.

    That has been my response and it has been consistent throughout. What the philosophically and logically inept crowd in this thread have wanted is for me to uncritically accept (CF) despite its incredible flaws. It is precisely that acceptance of (CF) that I have been unwilling to do. Rather than defend (CF), the rude atheists and juveniles in this thread have ignore my challenges and engaged in juvenile rhetoric grounded in mindless nonsense. My engagements, moving forward will only be with those who are courteous, respectful, and who demonstrate a degree of understanding on these issues.

    I will review Bob’s TAG objections in the coming days and then move to his “God is always the worse answer” posts. My aim to demonstrate that Bob is terribly mistaken in many places and simply uninformed in many more where Christian belief is concerned.

    • epeeist

      For those who claim to be philosophically informed, the position, it seems to a person that those in this thread affirm is “Classical Foundationalism.”

      And yet again you simply assert something and then go shooting off as though your assertion was true.

      As it is we have been through this before and I, for one, accepted that there is a problem with foundationalism and non-inferential beliefs. I mentioned both fallibilism and reliabalism as possible ways out of this. You asserted (surprise, surprise) that both of these weren’t normative and anyway you didn’t like the former since it was self-refuting.

      When asked to say why reliabalism wasn’t normative and why fallibilism was self-refuting you dropped the topic like a hot potato.

      It’s almost as though you are a Luke Breuer in training.

      • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

        Fallibilism, depending on its brand is self-refuting. If you could always been wrong about your beliefs, then why should I adopt the belief that fallibilism is actually true? It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between fallibilism and skepticism. Hard, soft? Whatever. It is, in the end, too weak to provide warrant for its justification.

        Reliabilism, again, depending on which version you hold requires design, purpose, a cognitive faculty that is aimed at delivering truth. Whether you are talking about reliable indicators or reliable processes, there is always the problem of normative cognitive faculties designed to operate in a specific way within a certain environment. Atheism, naturalism, cannot provide an adequate ground for either fallibilism or reliabilism.

        • Herald Newman

          If you could always been wrong about your beliefs, then why should I adopt the belief that fallibilism is actually true?

          Do you recognize that there are limitations to what we can actually know about reality? Unless you’re omniscient, you ought to recognize that we have limits to how certain we can be true about synthetic propositions.

          You keep treating some problems like they’re analytical in nature, and that we can have 100% certainty about them. Not all knowledge is analytical in nature, and some things require us to take a pragmatic approach.

          Whatever. It is, in the end, too weak to provide warrant for its justification.

          So you believe that we can know every any empirical proposition, beyond things like our incorrigible thoughts and senses, with 100% certainty? I’m curious what this class of propositions is? If you can, then we have good justification for accepting fallibilism as likely to be true.

          At the end of the day, my epistemic methodology for the synthetic revolves around empiricism, skepticism, and rational inquiry, simply because of our limitations in empirical investigation.

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          Unless some mind knows everything, no mind knows anything. – E. A. Dingess

          Feel free to quote me on that.

        • Herald Newman

          Fuck your presuppositional bullshit!

        • epeeist

          Fuck your presuppositional bullshit!

          Well yes, the thing that is obvious here is the hypocrisy. Quite rightly (in my view) he makes stringent demands on what we can regard as knowledge. Well stringent until it comes to his god of course, anything that supports its existence and properties is known to be true regardless.

        • Otto

          And this is based on what exactly?

          It sounds an awful lot like a deepity.

        • Herald Newman

          And this is based on what exactly?

          Nothing more than his desire to presuppose that his preferred god exists.

        • Dys

          Some day, a presuppositional apologist will demonstrate that they’re not an egotistical, condescending, egotistical asshat.

          Today is not that day.

        • Greg G.

          I know everything. I even know your correct SSN and I know that you don’t.

        • epeeist

          If you could always been wrong about your beliefs, then why should I adopt the belief that fallibilism is actually true?

          Well that way leads, yet again, to the inevitable infinite regress.

          As Herald Newman notes you seem to want to categorise only the analytic as knowledge. How much could we be said to know if you want to claim that we must logically preclude the possibility of error in our justification.

          It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between fallibilism and skepticism.

          Is it? One view that says our knowledge is provisional and the other that says knowledge is not possible.

          Reliabilism, again, depending on which version you hold requires design, purpose, a cognitive faculty that is aimed at delivering truth.

          So what theory of knowledge doesn’t depend on a “cognitive faculty”? What happens if instead of basing reliabilism on a single individual we look at reliabalism from a group perspective?

          Again, we are not restricting this to things that are universal, necessary and certain.

          Let us ask, do you apply this level of criticality to all knowledge claims, or do you exclude your religious claims from such rigorous requirements?

          EDIT: I missed out this bit:

          Atheism, naturalism, cannot provide an adequate ground for either fallibilism or reliabilism.

          This of course is yet another bare assertion and non sequitur.

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          Hard fallibilism is merely a step removed from skepticism. You seem to be reading more into my challenge than is there. It is one thing to deny that the human cognitive faculties are reliable given one’s basic beliefs about what a human being is and another to deny it absolutely. I do not deny the reliability of our cognitive faculties. I believe our cognitive faculties are reliable but my belief is based on a design plan grounded in a perfectly rational God.

          My point is that atheistic theories of knowledge fail because they reduce to irrationalism. If humans are what atheism claims, if the world is what atheism claims it is, then knowledge simply isn’t possible.

          The approach takes two steps: step into the atheist’s shoes and demonstrate that his theories cannot achieve justification because they involve contradictions and uncritical assumptions. Then show the atheist that Christianity, as revealed in Scripture, provides justification for its beliefs.

          In other words, Christianity is true because of the impossibility of the contrary. I don’t think Christianity is true because every other view is demonstrably false. That doesn’t follow logically speaking. But at this point, I think Christianity can not only be shown to be rational, it has very strong case for being true.

          Christian epistemology is revelational in character. All knowledge is revelation, given by God in nature and in the human conscience. This means Christianity claims that all knowledge is dependent on God. Humans DO know things. They possess amazing capacity for knowledge. But only Christianity provides the necessary condition for knowledge. The denial of God entails the denial of the very possibility of knowledge. Or, better, the denial of God requires the sort of knowledge that only presupposing God can provide. God’s denial entails the backdoor admission of his existence.

        • MNb

          “Hard fallibilism is merely a step removed from skepticism.”
          Perhaps – but

          “One view that says our knowledge is provisional and the other that says knowledge is not possible.”
          suggests it’s a huge one. That’s confirmed by the simple fact that the scientific version of skepticism (and if I know Epeeist a bit he’s thinking of that one) has amongst other produced the computer and internet you too use so enthusiastically. In other words: you accept the results of skepticism when it suits you and reject it when it doesn’t. That of course explains your entertaining reaction to my Flat Earth question, a path you very sensibly didn’t explore because it would make you look even sillier than you already look.
          You’re a funny guy.

        • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

          I have reason to believe that you do not understand my argument. Cannot waste time on people who clearly don’t get it. Sorry

        • MNb

          Christian love and modesty in full action. Your Great Hero would be proud. Not.

        • epeeist

          That of course explains your entertaining reaction to my Flat Earth question, a path you very sensibly didn’t explore because it would make you look even sillier than you already look.

          He has a habit of dropping things when they are hard or might undermine his position.

        • epeeist

          It is one thing to deny that the human cognitive faculties are reliable given one’s basic beliefs about what a human being is and another to deny it absolutely.

          What makes you think I take the second position?

          I believe our cognitive faculties are reliable but my belief is based on a design plan grounded in a perfectly rational God.

          And yet all it takes is to read something like Oliver Sacks’ Hallucinations to realise that this is simply untrue.

          My point is that atheistic theories of knowledge fail because they reduce to irrationalism.

          No, this is simply another unsubstantiated assertion.

          If humans are what atheism claims

          Given that all atheism consists of is a lack of belief in the existence of gods then I am at a loss as to what it supposedly claims about humans,

          Then show the atheist that Christianity, as revealed in Scripture, provides justification for its beliefs.

          And this is the usual “god of the gaps” conflation of false dichotomy and argument from ignorance.

          In other words, Christianity is true because of the impossibility of the contrary.

          And this is intellectual dishonesty writ large. You, rightly in my view, wish to hold systems of ideas to the most rigorous scrutiny except when it comes to Christianity. Here you are prepared to offer a completely free pass. At best the is specially pleading, at worst it shows a complete lack of integrity.

        • Herald Newman

          Atheism, naturalism, cannot provide an adequate ground for either fallibilism or reliabilism.

          And neither can theism, or supernaturalism. What exactly is your point?

        • Greg G.

          Atheism, naturalism, cannot provide an adequate ground for either fallibilism or reliabilism.

          Atheism is a position on the existence of gods, nothing else.

          But the reliability and fallibility of the mind can be explained by natural causes. Creatures that can model reality better have a selective advantage for defense, feeding, and other areas so any advantage that comes from genetics will be passed on more often than lesser abilities to understand the rest of the world. But higher reliability has a trade-off that requires more processing power which means weight and energy requirements. Since the processing is based on electro-chemical reactions, the time to process such things are a limitation, which explains why we still have reflexes that are not always optimal but are statistically better than nothing in certain situations.

          The diameter of the dendrites that relay signals between neurons matter here. The larger the diameter, the more reliable the signal but they require more weight, energy, and time to form a long-term memory. Smaller diameter dendrites allow more errors. Smaller diameter dendrites allow for more neurons and thinking power. Natural selection is terrific at optimizing the trade-offs. But the errors can be detected as errors or as new ideas which account for creativity and the illusion of free will.

          You should really think about things more before jumping to the godidit solution.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      The claim that Christianity is irrational and should not be believed

      My position is that Christianity has insufficient evidence and so shouldn’t be believed.

      • http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/ Ed Dingess

        This raises the question, once again, of the question of justification.

        There are two questions that have yet to be answered regarding that position.

        1) What is evidence?
        2) What do you mean by sufficient (qualitative or quantitative or both)?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This sounds like a unnecessary speed bump. Since you have strong opinions on the subject, you go ahead, and I’ll let you know if I agree.

          As I’ve said before, I suspect that the algorithm you use to evaluate other religions would probably work for me, too. My guess is that you just don’t use it on the one religion that you believe.