Hinman’s REMEC Argument: DOA

Joe Hinman has (allegedly) posted a second argument for the “existence of God”:

http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2017/07/bowen-hinman-debate-existence-of-god-my.html

Although Hinman believes that the claim “God exists” is NOT literally true (but is only “metaphorically true”, whatever that means), he has included the phrase “existence of God” in the title of this latest post, implying that his second argument is an argument in support of the existence of God:

Bowen-Hinman Debate (Existence of God) my argument 2

But his second argument is NOT an argument for the existence of God, nor for the “reality of God” (whatever that means), nor for the rationality of “belief in God” (whatever he means by that phrase).

Rather, Hinman’s second argument, which I call REMEC (Religious Experience Meets Epistemic Criteria), is an argument for an UNCLEAR claim about the UNCLEAR notion of “religious experience”, and so Hinman has attempted to pull a huge bait-and-switch move, and has failed to even attempt to argue for the existence (or reality) of God.

HINMAN’S REMEC ARGUMENT

(1) we trust perceptions that work for us in navigating the world

(2) we judge by criteria Regular, Consistent, Shared (inter-subjective)

(3) RE fits this criteria

(4 ) enables “navigation” (the point of the criteria) 

(5) :. we are warranted to trust RE as indicative

 

 REMEC IS DEAD ON ARRIVAL

You can tell that this is NOT an argument for the existence of God by the fact that the word “existence” (or “exists”) does not appear in the conclusion, and because the word “God” does not appear in the conclusion.  Furthermore, the word “existence”, and the word “exists”, and the word “God” do not appear in any of the premises of this argument!!  Because the words “God” and “existence” and “exists” appear nowhere in this argument, I judge this argument, which was supposed to be an argument for the “existence of God”, to be DEAD ON ARRIVAL, just like the first argument (the ABEAN argument) that was presented by Hinman.

There is nothing so sad and so pathetic as an argument for the “existence of God” that never once mentions God or existence.  An argument for the existence of God cannot possibly FAIL any faster or more completely than such an argument.  It is the all-too-common presentation of such sad and pathetic arguments for God that convinces me that theism is unworthy of belief.  Norman Geisler’s pathetic case for God by itself is sufficient to warrant serious doubt about the existence of God.  Hinman’s pathetic ABEAN and REMEC arguments provide more reason for skepticism about God.

I’m tempted to say that the REMEC argument is a SPODS (a Steaming Pile of Dog Shit), but some of the readers and contributors here at The Secular Outpost do not like me to make such harsh criticisms, so I will refrain from doing so now.  However, I will be making some strong criticisms of this so-called “argument”.

Like the ABEAN argument, REMEC is VERY UNCLEAR, too unclear to seriously and rationally evaluate.  Because this is NOT an argument for the existence of God, and because this argument is VERY UNCLEAR,  I’m not going to attempt to evaluate the truth of the premises or the logic of the argument.  I’m just going to point out problems of unclarity, and hope that someday Mr. Hinman will learn how to present a clear and intelligent argument for his views.

PREMISE (1) IS VERY UNCLEAR

“We trust perceptions that…”

What does the word “trust” mean in this premise?  There is no definition or explanation by Hinman of what this means, but it is crucial for the success of this argument that we know precisely what “trust” means in this premise.

What does the word “perceptions” mean in this premise?  Is it possible to “perceive” something that does not exist?  If it is not possible to perceive something that is non-existent, then the use of the word “perception” is question begging in this context.

that work for us in navigating the world”

What does this phrase mean?  This is a very vague idea.  Miracle diets and bogus natural remedies are sold to millions of naive consumers on the basis of testimonials about how some powder, elixir, or pills are ones  “that work for us”.  I wouldn’t spend one nickel on such bogus products without a good deal more clarity and specificity than that.  The phrase “navigating the world” is more poetry than science, and is hardly the sort of phrase that allows for confident judgments and conclusions, apart from provision of a definition or a clear explanation of this concept.

PREMISE (2) IS VERY UNCLEAR

“we judge by…”

This is a very sloppy start to this sentence.  What Himan means here is this:

We judge some unspecified aspect of religious experience by…

Some aspect of religious experience is apparently going to be evaluated, but the aspect is left unspecified, making this sentence UNCLEAR.

Furthermore the concept of “religious experience” is problematic, so this phrase is in need of definition or clarification.  Hinman makes an attempt to clarify the meaning of this problematic phrase:

RE: Religious Experience. umbrella term including mystical experience, born again experience and others.

Hinman gives us one general category of religious experience (i.e. “mystical experience”) and one specific type of religious experience (i.e. “born again experience”), and then adds the open-ended phrase “and others”.

This is NOT a definition of “religious experience”.  Hinman leaves us completely in the dark as to WHY “mystical experience” and “born again experience” should both be categorized as “religious experiences” and as to WHY we should treat these two kinds of experiences as being similar or related to each other.

Furthermore, the addition of the phrase “and others” leaves the door open to a wide variety of other kinds of experiences being categorized as “religious experiences” even though we have been given NO HINT as to how to determine whether some specific experience is or is not properly considered to be a “religious experience”.

So, Hinman leaves the central concept of this argument, namely “religious experience”, VERY UNCLEAR.  This gives us sufficient reason to declare REMEC to be DEAD ON ARRIVAL, even if we ignore the fact that REMEC is clearly NOT an argument for the existence of God in the first place.

According to Hinman, some unspecified aspect of “religious experience” (whatever that means) is to be evaluated in terms of

“...criteria Regular, Consistent, Shared…”

But Hinman makes no attempt to define or clarify what these “criteria” consist of, and that makes an already UNCLEAR premise VERY UNCLEAR, because he is now basing his argument on a set of UNSPECIFIED criteria.  There is a footnote attached to this premise, and so I expected to find some definition or clarification of these UNSPECIFIED criteria in the article that the footnote pointed to:

http://hume.ucdavis.edu/mattey/phi102kl/tkch4.htm

I took a look at this article and discovered the following important facts about it:

  • There is NO MENTION OR USE  of the word “regular” in this article.
  • There is NO MENTION OR USE of the word “consistent” in this article.
  • There is NO MENTION OR USE of the word “shared” in this article.

In other words, not only is Hinman too intellectually lazy to provide clarification of these key “criteria” in his presentation of REMEC,  but he sends us on a wild goose chase to read a long article on epistemology that does not mention or use any of the words Hinman uses to specify his key epistemological criteria!  If these criteria are false or faulty, then Hinman’s REMEC argument FAILS.  But we have no way to evaluate these epistemic criteria because Hinman doesn’t bother to spell out any of his epistemic criteria.

This failure to specify the epistemic criteria upon which REMEC is based is sufficient reason by itself to judge REMEC to be DEAD ON ARRIVAL, and to declare premise (2) to be VERY UNCLEAR.

THREE STRIKES, SO HINMAN’S REMEC ARGUMENT IS OUT

Given that Hinman’s REMEC argument never mentions God or existence, and given that Hinman fails to define the central concept of the REMEC argument (i.e. “religious experience”), and given that Hinman fails to specify the content of the three key epistemic criteria, upon which REMEC is based, we now have three good reasons to declare REMEC to be DEAD ON ARRIVAL:

  • Neither God nor existence are mentioned ANYWHERE in REMEC
  • The central concept of REMEC (i.e. “religious experience”) is left UNDEFINED and VERY UNCLEAR
  • The contents of the key epistemic criteria upon which REMEC is based are left UNSPECIFIED

There is no point in me continuing my critique of REMEC.  It is a sad and pathetic bit of reasoning that is VERY UNCLEAR and that fails to address the main question at issue. I will not waste another minute of my time examining and thinking about this argument.

As with Norman Geisler’s sad and pathetic and VERY UNCLEAR case for God, Hinman’s arguments provide us with a good reason for skepticism about the existence of God.  Theists have had thousands of years to perfect their case(s) for God, and yet it is all-too-common to find really bad arguments and cases for God, even by educated people who ought to know better than to present such crap to the public.

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