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Old 10-05-2008, 09:58 PM   #1
Samuel Dravis
 
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Presuppositionalism

I came across a debate between Greg Bahnsen and Gordon Stein earlier that piqued my interest. It is available here [PDF | HTML]. It's titled, "Does God exist?" I'm sure most of you have read discussions on this subject before, both here and in formal debates like this one. However, the thing that differentiates this debate from numerous others on the same subject is that it introduces the concept of presuppositionalism - that is, that various things we believe about morality, logic, and science necessarily entail God's existence. I don't intend to go too deeply into that, however - I'm not well read on it - and I'll limit my comments to what is present in the debate. Bahnsen's opponent is essentially forgettable and I won't bother with his side of the debate.

Bahnsen is the Christian and he starts out by declaring what he is not doing:
  • He is not defending theism; he is defending Christian theism. In my opinion, an excellent move, although there is incredible variety of interpretations in "Christian Theism" as well. Those could be used as an argument against him.
  • He is not interested in subjective views on God's existence, i.e., he acknowledges that what someone believes isn't necessarily what is.
  • Material reasons for belief are not in question here: even if it was shown that being Christian made you live 2x longer than an atheist, that does not affect the truth of one philosophical system or the other.
  • Both Christians and atheists are capable of and have committed moral wrongs. He uses the examples of the Inquisition and French Revolution; while it is arguable that these events were caused by the philosophical beliefs of those person who were involved, that they indeed did these things is not in question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahnsen, p. 2
"The question is ... whether atheism or Christian theism as philosophical systems are objectively true."
Bahnsen's opening remarks are extremely interesting - to me, the best part of the debate. In particular, his views on evidence for the existence of God (which I'll quote in full here):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahnsen, p. 2-3
1. The nature of the evidence

How should the difference of opinion between the theist and the atheist be rationally resolved? What Dr. Stein has written indicates that he, like many atheists, has not reflected adequately on this question. He writes, and I quote, "The question of the existence of God is a factual question, and should be answered in the same way as any other factual questions."

The assumption that all existence claims are questions about matters of fact, the assumption that all of these are answered in the very same way is not only over simplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken. The existence, factuality or reality of different kinds of things is not established or is confirmed in the same way in every case.

We might ask, "Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?" And we know how we would go about answering that question. But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty. In such cases, one does not do anything like walk to the pantry and look inside for the crackers. There are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case. Just think of the differences in argumentation and the types of evidences used by biologists, grammarians, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, magicians, mechanics, merchants, and artists. It should be obvious from this that the types of evidence one looks for in existence or factual claims will be determined by the field of discussion and especially by the metaphysical nature of the entity mentioned in the claim under question.

Dr. Stein's remark that the question of the existence of God is answered in the same way as any other factual question, mistakenly reduces the theistic question to the same level as the box of crackers in the pantry, which we will hereafter call the crackers in the pantry fallacy.
This is quite refreshing, actually. I have seen many people - particularly on the internet - who would flatten the ontological map into something similar to scientism, i.e. they would reject the idea that a proposition could have a truth value if it is not scientific. Various people in the past have done this - notably A. J. Ayer in Language, Truth, and Logic and his verificiationism, but also (in a weaker sense) others like Popper who adhere to a principle being the arbiter of scientific truth (falsificationism), which implies that anything falling outside of it is undecidable (see Feyerabend's Against Method for a more developed attack on falsificationism).

Instead, however, Bahnsen realizes that not all factual statements are to be evaluated by the same standard - something that sounds quite obvious on the face of it, but it's easy to lose track when discussing questions like the existence of God.

Now, on to the transcendental argument for God:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahnsen, p. 5
When we go to look at the different world views that atheists and theists have, I suggest we can prove the existence of God from the impossibility of the contrary. The transcendental proof for God's existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist world view is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist world view cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes.
So Bahnsen thinks that there is something special about logic, science, intelligible experience, and morality - something that ties them directly to the Christian God. What might that special something be? Let's see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahnsen, p. 15-16
The laws of logic are not conventional or sociological. I would say the laws of logic have a transcendental necessity about them. They are universal; they are invariant, and they are not material in nature. And if they are not that, then I'd like to know, in an atheist universe, how it is possible to have laws in the first place. And secondly, how it is possible to justify those laws?

The laws of logic, you see, are abstract. As abstract entities, which is the appropriate philosophical term, not spiritual - entities that Dr. Stein is speaking of - abstract entities - that is to say, not individual (or universal in character). They are not materialistic. As universal, they are not experienced to be true. There may be experiences where the laws of logic are used, but no one has universal experience. No one has tried every possible instance of the laws of logic.

As invariant, they don't fit into what most materialists would tell us about the constantly changing nature of the world. And so, you see, we have a real problem on our hands. Dr. Stein wants to use the laws of logic tonight. I maintain that by so doing he's borrowing my world view. For you see, in the theistic world view the laws of logic makes sense, because in the theistic world view there can be abstract, universal, invariant entities such as the laws of logic. Within the theistic world view you cannot contradict yourself, because to do so you're engaging in the nature of lying, and that's contrary to the character of God as we perceive it. And so, the laws of logic are something Dr. Stein is going to have to explain as an atheist or else relinquish using them.

The transcendental argument for the existence of God, then, which Dr. Stein has yet to touch, and which I don't believe he can surmount, is that without the existence of God it is impossible to prove anything. And that's because in the atheistic world you cannot justify, you cannot account for, laws in general: the laws of thought in particular, laws of nature, cannot account for human life, from the fact that it's more than electrochemical complexes in depth, and the fact that it's more than an accident. That is to say, in the atheist conception of the world, there's really no reason to debate; because in the end, as Dr. Stein has said, all these laws are conventional. All these laws are not really law-like in their nature, they're just, well, if you're an atheist and materialist, you'd have to say they're just something that happens inside the brain.

But you see, what happens inside your brain is not what happens inside my brain. Therefore, what happens inside your brain is not a law. It doesn't necessarily correspond to what happens in mine. In fact, it can't be identical with what is inside my mind or brain, because we don't have the same brain.

As the laws of logic come down to being materialistic entities, then they no longer have their law-like character. If they are only social conventions, then, of course, what we might do to limit debate is just define a new set of laws. and ask for all who want the convention that says, "Atheism must be true or theism must be true, and we have the following laws that we conventionally adopt to prove it," and see who'd be satisfied.

But no one can be satisfied without a rational procedure to follow. The laws of logic can not be avoided, the laws of logic can not be accounted for in a Materialist universe. Therefore, the laws of logic are one of the many evidences that without God you can't prove anything at all.
When Bahnsen is questioning Stein, he finds out some interesting things which are supposed to help his argument:
  • The laws of logic are immaterial.
  • The laws of logic are conventions that are self verifying (says Stein).

Clearly there's something wrong with Stein's view here; how could a law of logic be universal if it's contingent on human conventions? Isn't A=A true always, and not just because every person agrees to it? And if they're merely conventions, why can't Bahnsen simply say he has a different convention? What could justify Stein saying that logic applies to Bahnsen's ideas too, as he clearly wants to apply them to it?

Bahnsen thinks that this failure of Stein's argument opens the door for his God. Since Stein must postulate something universal and immaterial - the laws of logic - to use in his argument, he cannot be using a purely physicalist worldview. And, in order to justify using something so metaphysical as logic, Bahnsen believes that Stein must turn to God for it, given that physicalism cannot possibly offer a justification for metaphysics.

At this point I have to offer my own criticism of Bahnsen's argument. As I said, he thinks that it's impossible to hold onto the laws of logic as universals without believing in his God. There is another way to resolve this problem, however.

In Bahnsen's introduction - that of evidence for God - he quickly came to the conclusion that there are many ways in which we use the word evidence, and not all of them are semantically equivalent, i.e., not all things have the same "kind" of existence, and so the kinds of evidence one would look for are different in each case. E.g, grammatical rules are contingent upon language, so we'd look in English textbooks or simply listen to people talk for evidence of a rule.

Now if we apply similar reasoning to logic, we can come up with a coherent idea that does not require Bahnsen's God in order to justify our use of universals. What would happen if the rules for the use of logic in our language were so that we are trained to say that these always applied?

Let me try to illustrate my point. Suppose there's a stop sign on a street corner. If someone came by on the same street corner next year, would the sign mean the same thing? Next century? At any point of time in the future? Of course; a stop sign always means, "Stop." That's the use of a stop sign.

Let's take a look at what we're doing here with the stop sign, however. When did we learn what a stop sign was? Well, our parents showed us how to act when we see a stop sign - they held us back when we wanted to run across the street. Driver's Ed drilled it through our brains: "FULL! STOP! AT! THE! STOP! SIGN!" We knew what the word "stop" meant perhaps before we knew what a stop sign meant, so we could also draw on our experience from there as well.

The important point about the stop sign is that it's a rule, a rule for behavior. This rule is not independent of humanity, but is rather an extension of how we live our lives. We drive cars; it is dangerous to have intersections without guidelines, we don't accept that amount of danger, therefore there are signs.

I propose that logic is of the same kind of rule as a stop sign: logic is a human endeavor, is defined by humanity, and cannot be meaningfully separated from it. What we mean by logic is shown in how we live and explain what logic is. It is a method whose rules are defined as universal, just as the stop sign means "stop" regardless of whether you know what it means or not - or even whether anyone actually stops at it! But note that this doesn't mean that the meaning of the stop sign is independent of the way of life of those people who use it.

If I say, "A is not B", I am saying a true proposition of logic. This is true universally, not because it is justified by a God, but because it is defined so (and I don't mean someone just came up and defined it, as in a dictionary; people use words in certain ways and in so doing define them). "Not" here means: things that are different are different. How to justify this? We can't respond by saying that someone else (i.e. God) defined them like that, because that would just raise the question: "And why did he...?"

Instead, one should answer the question like this: "What are you talking about? Don't you know what logic is?" For in order to raise the question, you have to be able to ask it, and before you can ask the question, you are taught the meaning of the word, and the meaning of a word is the rules for its use - and there can be a great many such rules, as Bahnsen admitted in the very beginning of his argument. Bahnsen has learned a particular rule - that of attributing to God universals - but not everyone has (in fact presuppositionalism is not a particularly popular area of theology, from what I understand).

In this case, I think, the uses of the word logic are many and varied, but "logic" does not necessarily correspond to the metaphysical idea that Bahnsen proposes. He has "flattened the landscape", so to speak, of the uses of "logic" into a single one - that of his own worldview, and in so doing has presupposed his own argument.

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Old 10-05-2008, 10:32 PM   #2
Achilles
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Quote:
There are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case.
I think this sentence is key to what's wrong with his argument: yes, they are answered in the same way. They are answered via observation. How we observe things and what we can draw from those observations does vary, but that does not mean that some other means is used.

Quote:
Dr. Stein's remark that the question of the existence of God is answered in the same way as any other factual question, mistakenly reduces the theistic question to the same level as the box of crackers in the pantry, which we will hereafter call the crackers in the pantry fallacy.
I just wanted to point out that this itself is a strawman fallacy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis
Instead, however, Bahnsen realizes that not all factual statements are to be evaluated by the same standard - something that sounds quite obvious on the face of it, but it's easy to lose track when discussing questions like the existence of God.
Could you expand on your thinking here please?

I'm going to jump ahead here other than to quickly note that I think Bahnsen has read too much William James at some point in his life

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis
I propose that logic is of the same kind of rule as a stop sign: logic is a human endeavor, is defined by humanity, and cannot be meaningfully separated from it.
I always come back to the idea that 2+2=4 no matter where you go, what language you speak, or what flavor of carbon-based life form you are. Based on what you seem to be suggesting here, 2+2=4 only because that's what we've been conditioned to think. Am I missing something?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis
He has "flattened the landscape", so to speak, of the uses of "logic" into a single one - that of his own worldview, and in so doing has presupposed his own argument.
I hate when that happens

Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing it!
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Old 10-05-2008, 10:40 PM   #3
Litofsky
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How did the Greeks do this?

Seriously, however, that was a very interesting post to read. My first thoughts revolved around the current state of the world compared to your post. But I digress.

You propose that Bahnsen undermined his own argument by faulty logic, correct? By saying that there can be no order without God, he presupposed his own argumet? This might be a bit above me, but I'll do my best to attempt to answer anyways:

You say that there does not need to be God to prove the laws of reason and logic, and that it can, in fact, be proven by human beliefs (or societal ideals, if I'm correct) and reason.

Again, you also say that a human creation (logic, in this case) cannot be separated from humanity without losing its meaning. After all, what is the point of a book if there are no people to read it (that example might not be the best, but, on first glance, it appears to work)? Therefore, if attempt to apply the principles of reason and logic to God, we arrive at an impossible-to-solve conundrum, due to the fact that these two ideas are incompatible.

Did I have that even close to right, or am I terribly off-course?

Last edited by Litofsky; 10-05-2008 at 10:57 PM.
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Old 10-05-2008, 11:31 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Achilles View Post
I think this sentence is key to what's wrong with his argument: yes, they are answered in the same way. They are answered via observation. How we observe things and what we can draw from those observations does vary, but that does not mean that some other means is used.
I think that, for an extremely large amount of cases, this is true. However, there are some things that can be factually true without relying on observation; that is, definitions. Bahnsen's argument is based on defining certain things - universals, like logic, morality, etc - such as they require God in order to understand. While Bahnsen may not be (and probably is not) lying that these things require God, he forgets that his ideas are not independent of his own circumstances.

Quote:
Could you expand on your thinking here please?
See above, on definitions. Additionally, there is a tendency to use the scientific method as an end-all way of coming to The Truth(tm), which I commented on with a note on Ayer, Popper and Feyerabend. I think it's important to keep in mind that not all knowledge is scientific, nor does it need to have a litmus test applied to it to make sure we really do know it. An art critic might know what a splash of paint means without having a theory which he uses to identify a particular case. I can even know what a stranger intends to do without needing to see him do it (except in extraordinary circumstances), if he tells me. We can be wrong about knowing something, but that's not a problem. In fact, that's often what distinguishes knowing from believing.

Quote:
I'm going to jump ahead here other than to quickly note that I think Bahnsen has read too much William James at some point in his life


Quote:
I always come back to the idea that 2+2=4 no matter where you go, what language you speak, or what flavor of carbon-based life form you are. Based on what you seem to be suggesting here, 2+2=4 only because that's what we've been conditioned to think. Am I missing something?
I'm afraid I must not have been very clear. Sorry!

Anyways, I don't think that 2+2=4 is true because we think that way. It's true that 2+2=4 is confirmed by observation, but the generality of the equation is not justified by those observations (this is part of Bahnsen's argument, actually). However, the proposition 2+2=4 is a part of our language and used in a certain way within it, and that use is intertwined with how we can talk about it. So, if an alien were to come and learn how we use it - see the context in which we apply it - then they'd know what we meant by 2+2=4. It's universal in that anyone who uses our methods of solving mathematical problems will inevitably come up with 4 as the answer to 2+2. Of course, there's no warranty for the results coming from anyone using some other method!

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I hate when that happens

Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing it!
Sure. I'd been itching to write something long and frightening for a while now.


"Words are deeds." - Wittgenstein
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Old 10-06-2008, 12:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Litofsky View Post
How did the Greeks do this?
Well, before the internet people had a lot of time on their hands. Me included.

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Seriously, however, that was a very interesting post to read. My first thoughts revolved around the current state of the world compared to your post. But I digress.
I'm curious what you mean here. I wasn't aware I was being quite that general.

Quote:
You propose that Bahnsen undermined his own argument by faulty logic, correct? By saying that there can be no order without God, he presupposed his own argument?
Well, I think he uses a particular view of logic, etc., which forces him to assert that God is necessary for them to exist. However, his argument doesn't force people to agree that his view is the only one.

Quote:
This might be a bit above me, but I'll do my best to attempt to answer anyways:

You say that there does not need to be God to prove the laws of reason and logic, and that it can, in fact, be proven by human beliefs (or societal ideals, if I'm correct) and reason.
Well, I'm a bit wary of "proving" the laws of reason and logic. I agree with Aristotle in that we should argue from some central ideas like logic, morality, etc., and not to them. I think it's clear that no finite amount of cases where someone jumping out the window and living will ever make it necessary that someone who jumps out a window will live. I'm not even sure what it would be like to argue "for" logic. I mean, how could you argue without it? Something has got to be the bedrock for discussion here; it's not just turtles all the way down. Logic is that kind of bedrock for many things.

Quote:
Again, you also say that a human creation (logic, in this case) cannot be separated from humanity without losing its meaning. After all, what is the point of a book if there are no people to read it (that example might not be the best, but, on first glance, it appears to work)? Therefore, if attempt to apply the principles of reason and logic to God, we arrive at an impossible-to-solve conundrum, due to the fact that these two ideas are incompatible.

Did I have that even close to right, or am I terribly off-course?
I'd say that the meaning of logical propositions cannot be separated from how we use them. That doesn't mean that the truths of logic are human "creations", but the development of our methods of logic could certainly be seen as a subject of scientific interest. I think it's entirely possible to apply reason and logic to God, but doing so comes after you accept certain things (like the existence of God). Those things which are accepted are not reasonable and they are not logical. You can see them as a religious bedrock. "Whatever else happens, this cannot be doubted."


"Words are deeds." - Wittgenstein

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Old 10-06-2008, 12:31 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
Well, before the internet people had a lot of time on their hands. Me included.
And before government mandated schools, too?

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I'm curious what you mean here. I wasn't aware I was being quite that general.
Well, as I was reading and responding to your post, a commercial was playing in the background, and I was comparing where we were as a society (intellectually) as to what you were talking about (way above most of society).

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
Well, I think he uses a particular view of logic, etc., which forces him to assert that God is necessary for them to exist. However, his argument doesn't force people to agree that his view is the only one.
So, his logic fits his views? In most cases, we do that with our minds/perception: we modify the facts (even slightly) to fit in with our established opinions.

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
Well, I'm a bit wary of "proving" the laws of reason and logic. I agree with Aristotle in that we should argue from some central ideas like logic, morality, etc., and not to them. I think it's clear that no finite amount of cases where someone jumping out the window and living will ever make it necessary that someone who jumps out a window will live. I'm not even sure what it would be like to argue "for" logic. I mean, how could you argue without it? Something has got to be the bedrock for discussion here; it's not just turtles all the way down. Logic is that kind of bedrock for many things.
So, before we argue, we assume that certain notions or ideas are true? That makes sense: if you don't have an initial platform, you can't argue from there. However, I wonder where we developed these initial ideas from (i.e., 'what is logic?') at times.

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I'd say that the definition of logic cannot be separated from how we use it. That doesn't mean that the truths of logic are human "creations", but the development of our methods of logic could certainly be seen as a subject of scientific interest. I think it's entirely possible to apply reason and logic to God, but doing so comes after you accept certain things (like the existence of God). Those things which are accepted are not reasonable and they are not logical. You can see them as a religious bedrock. "Whatever else happens, this cannot be doubted."
But the truths of logic would be entirely dependent upon one's viewpoint, would they not? Relying on my previous idea (that we shape logic to our opinions), would not reason be a point of view?

The Greeks must've spent hours upon hours just thinking.
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Old 10-06-2008, 01:42 AM   #7
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So, his logic fits his views?
Yes, but he probably didn't choose that view, which is why I said he wasn't lying. It most likely grew out of his study with Cornelius Van Til, a man who had similar views. A teacher often has a powerful effect on the views of his students. My problem with Bahnsen is that he attempts to say that his view is The View - an objective view, one above or below all others. I disagree with that mainly because I don't see how it's possible to have such a view. Only God could be said to be objective in that way; no man is an island, cut off from every influence.

Quote:
So, before we argue, we assume that certain notions or ideas are true? That makes sense: if you don't have an initial platform, you can't argue from there. However, I wonder where we developed these initial ideas from (i.e., 'what is logic?') at times.
We can't assume they are true, since they can't be false. Perhaps a better way to think of it is that you have to speak English in order to be understood by someone who speaks only English.

If you're asking how we came to use logical laws, I imagine it was because we found a use for the varieties of expression they provide, or wanted a more general system that combined several systems with smaller scopes. That's what prompted the growth of logic within the last 150 years, with Frege, Russel and other innovations like set theory in mathematics. It's pretty useful to have ways to formulate arguments which force your opponent to agree with you.

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But the truths of logic would be entirely dependent upon one's viewpoint, would they not? Relying on my previous idea (that we shape logic to our opinions), would not reason be a point of view?
I'm not sure what you mean by entirely dependent. Yes, I agree that the particular terminology we might use is dependent on our viewpoint, but if we use the same methods we should be free from subjectivity as far as meaning goes. Indeed, it's essential that logic should be free from subjectivity; if it wasn't it would be logic. That's just part of what it logic is... but you will remember that I am not an independent observer; I am human, after all. "That is just part of what logic is" shows what I have learned of the use of the word within the context of my language and my life. I couldn't be wrong about it, if that's what you're asking, in the same way I couldn't be wrong about the fact that my name here is Samuel Dravis-- but someone else might know differently.

To say that being reasonable is just a point of view is in some cases appropriate and others not. For example, I could understand it if you said that in the context of seeing an insane person raving about something imaginary, and you'd say, "See that man? He thinks he's reasonable, but that's just his point of view." And I would agree: "Yeah, he's a bit crazy."

But if you were to say, then, that our being reasonable was just a point of view: "What if we're like him, not reasonable and we don't even know it? How can we justify saying that we're reasonable?" I'd have to dismiss your speculation. Why? Because it simply demonstrates a misunderstanding. In order to say this, you have to learn the use of the word "reasonable." A necessary part of learning the use of the word is learning the contexts in which it is appropriate to say. If the word "reasonable" cannot be applied to us - we who are here talking calmly and normally about this man's illness - then it cannot be applied to anyone, but it's clear from a cursory inspection of the possibilities that it is in fact used and applied to people like us all the time. If you were to insist that, contrary to the natural linguistic usage and everything you'd been taught, we could not be described as reasonable people in this situation, then you'd simply have made a mistake using the word. Some things can't be denied because there literally is no such thing as their denial.

It's interesting when you look at language this way. It seems to wrap itself around us, like quicksand, in a sheathe we cannot escape, always changing and never solid... but really that quicksand is of the thickest concrete and serves as the foundation of our most lasting structures.


"Words are deeds." - Wittgenstein

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Old 10-06-2008, 11:18 AM   #8
Litofsky
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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
My problem with Bahnsen is that he attempts to say that his view is The View - an objective view, one above or below all others. I disagree with that mainly because I don't see how it's possible to have such a view. Only God could be said to be objective in that way; no man is an island, cut off from every influence.
So, he sees his view as superior to others? And, if he believes that his view is superior, wouldn't that mean that he could not be swayed by other views/opinions, seeing as they are 'beneath' his?

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If you're asking how we came to use logical laws, I imagine it was because we found a use for the varieties of expression they provide, or wanted a more general system that combined several systems with smaller scopes. That's what prompted the growth of logic within the last 150 years, with Frege, Russel and other innovations like set theory in mathematics. It's pretty useful to have ways to formulate arguments which force your opponent to agree with you.
Thanks for taking time to get into that. Without logical responses, I do believe that most conversation about scientific advances (and other relating fields) would have been near impossible. So, would it be a fair guess to say that logic was pioneered with the Greeks?

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I'm not sure what you mean by entirely dependent. Yes, I agree that the particular terminology we might use is dependent on our viewpoint, but if we use the same methods we should be free from subjectivity as far as meaning goes. Indeed, it's essential that logic should be free from subjectivity; if it wasn't it would be logic. That's just part of what it logic is... but you will remember that I am not an independent observer; I am human, after all. "That is just part of what logic is" shows what I have learned of the use of the word within the context of my language and my life. I couldn't be wrong about it, if that's what you're asking, in the same way I couldn't be wrong about the fact that my name here is Samuel Dravis-- but someone else might know differently.
Well, if we look at logic in a literary and linguistic sense, the word 'logic' means using sound reasoning- without any influence whatsoever- to arrive at a conclusion. However, when we explore the individual perception of logic, it's quite possible to arrive at a different conclusion, is it not?

However, I believe this part of the conversation may turn into one of fact and fiction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
To say that being reasonable is just a point of view is in some cases appropriate and others not. For example, I could understand it if you said that in the context of seeing an insane person raving about something imaginary, and you'd say, "See that man? He thinks he's reasonable, but that's just his point of view." And I would agree: "Yeah, he's a bit crazy."
I'd have to disagree with you on the first part of your statement. I feel the sudden need to quote Obi-Wan here: "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

Reason can be shifted to fit someone's point of view. I agree with you that it will always produce result "x" in certain situations, but, nevertheless, people will continue to alter it to their needs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
But if you were to say, then, that our being reasonable was just a point of view: "What if we're like him, not reasonable and we don't even know it? How can we justify saying that we're reasonable?" I'd have to dismiss your speculation. Why? Because it simply demonstrates a misunderstanding. In order to say this, you have to learn the use of the word "reasonable." A necessary part of learning the use of the word is learning the contexts in which it is appropriate to say. If the word "reasonable" cannot be applied to us - we who are here talking calmly and normally about this man's illness - then it cannot be applied to anyone, but it's clear from a cursory inspection of the possibilities that it is in fact used and applied to people like us all the time. If you were to insist that, contrary to the natural linguistic usage and everything you'd been taught, we could not be described as reasonable people in this situation, then you'd simply have made a mistake using the word. Some things can't be denied because there literally is no such thing as their denial.
But how does one go about determining if they are reasonable? If we decide who is and who is not reasonable, wouldn't that make it a matter of point of view? I have a grasp on the linguistic meaning of 'reason,' (or so I like to think) but when we begin to apply it, wouldn't that be a matter of what one accepts as reasonable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
It's interesting when you look at language this way. It seems to wrap itself around us, like quicksand, in a sheathe we cannot escape, always changing and never solid... but really that quicksand is of the thickest concrete and serves as the foundation of our most lasting structures.
Language suddenly holds more power than previously thought: instead of just words on paper, or letters in a word, it proves to be the basis for everything that we view as a being. My mind shifts back to 1984, and Newspeak, which involved taking out all words that could be possibly used to insight rebellion, amongst other things. If there are no words for something, is it possible to exist? A very interesting point, Mr. Dravis.
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Old 10-06-2008, 12:30 PM   #9
Arcesious
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I came across a debate between Greg Bahnsen and Gordon Stein earlier that piqued my interest. It is available here [PDF | HTML]. It's titled, "Does God exist?" I'm sure most of you have read discussions on this subject before, both here and in formal debates like this one. However, the thing that differentiates this debate from numerous others on the same subject is that it introduces the concept of presuppositionalism - that is, that various things we believe about morality, logic, and science necessarily entail God's existence. I don't intend to go too deeply into that, however - I'm not well read on it - and I'll limit my comments to what is present in the debate. Bahnsen's opponent is essentially forgettable and I won't bother with his side of the debate.
Time for my brain to get some exercise, it seems...

Quote:
Bahnsen is the Christian and he starts out by declaring what he is not doing:
He is not defending theism; he is defending Christian theism. In my opinion, an excellent move, although there is incredible variety of interpretations in "Christian Theism" as well. Those could be used as an argument against him.

He is not interested in subjective views on God's existence, i.e., he acknowledges that what someone believes isn't necessarily what is.
Material reasons for belief are not in question here: even if it was shown that being Christian made you live 2x longer than an atheist, that does not affect the truth of one philosophical system or the other.

Both Christians and atheists are capable of and have committed moral wrongs. He uses the examples of the Inquisition and French Revolution; while it is arguable that these events were caused by the philosophical beliefs of those person who were involved, that they indeed did these things is not in question.
At least he seems open minded...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahnsen, p. 2
"The question is ... whether atheism or Christian theism as philosophical systems are objectively true."

Bahnsen's opening remarks are extremely interesting - to me, the best part of the debate. In particular, his views on evidence for the existence of God (which I'll quote in full here):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahnsen, p. 2-3
1. The nature of the evidence

How should the difference of opinion between the theist and the atheist be rationally resolved? What Dr. Stein has written indicates that he, like many atheists, has not reflected adequately on this question. He writes, and I quote, "The question of the existence of God is a factual question, and should be answered in the same way as any other factual questions."

The assumption that all existence claims are questions about matters of fact, the assumption that all of these are answered in the very same way is not only over simplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken. The existence, factuality or reality of different kinds of things is not established or is confirmed in the same way in every case.

We might ask, "Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?" And we know how we would go about answering that question. But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty. In such cases, one does not do anything like walk to the pantry and look inside for the crackers. There are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case. Just think of the differences in argumentation and the types of evidences used by biologists, grammarians, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, magicians, mechanics, merchants, and artists. It should be obvious from this that the types of evidence one looks for in existence or factual claims will be determined by the field of discussion and especially by the metaphysical nature of the entity mentioned in the claim under question.
This does not prove God...


Quote:
Dr. Stein's remark that the question of the existence of God is answered in the same way as any other factual question, mistakenly reduces the theistic question to the same level as the box of crackers in the pantry, which we will hereafter call the crackers in the pantry fallacy.
No, it's still the Strawman fallacy.

Quote:
This is quite refreshing, actually. I have seen many people - particularly on the internet - who would flatten the ontological map into something similar to scientism, i.e. they would reject the idea that a proposition could have a truth value if it is not scientific. Various people in the past have done this - notably A. J. Ayer in Language, Truth, and Logic and his verificiationism, but also (in a weaker sense) others like Popper who adhere to a principle being the arbiter of scientific truth (falsificationism), which implies that anything falling outside of it is undecidable (see Feyerabend's Against Method for a more developed attack on falsificationism).
Does he allow God to be a falsifiable concept?


Quote:
Instead, however, Bahnsen realizes that not all factual statements are to be evaluated by the same standard - something that sounds quite obvious on the face of it, but it's easy to lose track when discussing questions like the existence of God.
It's just as easy to lose track of what is and idea and what is a fact... God is an idea, not an absolute fact. How can you claim something, such as God, as an absolute, when the idea of God is non-falsifiable?


Quote:
Now, on to the transcendental argument for God:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahnsen, p. 5
When we go to look at the different world views that atheists and theists have, I suggest we can prove the existence of God from the impossibility of the contrary. The transcendental proof for God's existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist world view is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist world view cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes.
Yes, yes it can. But we have no evidence for God. He can't support Christian theism with this argument, only deism. Both annoyingly non-falsifiable positions.


Quote:
So Bahnsen thinks that there is something special about logic, science, intelligible experience, and morality - something that ties them directly to the Christian God. What might that special something be? Let's see.
He's already making all these concepts harder than they need to be.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahnsen, p. 15-16
The laws of logic are not conventional or sociological. I would say the laws of logic have a transcendental necessity about them. They are universal; they are invariant, and they are not material in nature. And if they are not that, then I'd like to know, in an atheist universe, how it is possible to have laws in the first place. And secondly, how it is possible to justify those laws?
He wants them to have a transcendental necessity, but there is no evidence for one.

Quote:
The laws of logic, you see, are abstract. As abstract entities, which is the appropriate philosophical term, not spiritual - entities that Dr. Stein is speaking of - abstract entities - that is to say, not individual (or universal in character). They are not materialistic. As universal, they are not experienced to be true. There may be experiences where the laws of logic are used, but no one has universal experience. No one has tried every possible instance of the laws of logic.
He claims that they are abstract- he cannot prove that. Logic isn't abstract, it simply gets very complex and slightly confusing when you consider all the different ways you can look at logic. We have not tried all of them, no, but we've tried all the ones we are capable of trying. Again, he wants there to be a 'hidden' meaning to all of this, but there simply is no proof for it. Call me materialistic if you wish, but IMHO, what ifs are a waste of time.

Quote:
As invariant, they don't fit into what most materialists would tell us about the constantly changing nature of the world. And so, you see, we have a real problem on our hands. Dr. Stein wants to use the laws of logic tonight. I maintain that by so doing he's borrowing my world view. For you see, in the theistic world view the laws of logic makes sense, because in the theistic world view there can be abstract, universal, invariant entities such as the laws of logic. Within the theistic world view you cannot contradict yourself, because to do so you're engaging in the nature of lying, and that's contrary to the character of God as we perceive it. And so, the laws of logic are something Dr. Stein is going to have to explain as an atheist or else relinquish using them.
He does contradict himself. Science proves quite a bit. If he wants to embrace this metaphysical view of things, there's a lot of scientific concepts and facts he must deny. Let's see... Law of gravity, evolution, modern medicine, abiogenesis, the illogicality of any and all theistic Gods... (I will elaborate on the illogicalities if you with, but the reason I am not elaborating on them in this post is because the argument he have about them is very long and probably won't fit in this post.

Quote:
The transcendental argument for the existence of God, then, which Dr. Stein has yet to touch, and which I don't believe he can surmount, is that without the existence of God it is impossible to prove anything. And that's because in the atheistic world you cannot justify, you cannot account for, laws in general: the laws of thought in particular, laws of nature, cannot account for human life, from the fact that it's more than electrochemical complexes in depth, and the fact that it's more than an accident. That is to say, in the atheist conception of the world, there's really no reason to debate; because in the end, as Dr. Stein has said, all these laws are conventional. All these laws are not really law-like in their nature, they're just, well, if you're an atheist and materialist, you'd have to say they're just something that happens inside the brain.
Incorrect on so many levels... We have very strong (falsifiable) claims of concepts of all those things. The 'irreducible complexity' and 'to unlikely to happen' arguments aren't as irreducable and unlikely as he'd like to think.

In fact, the odds are quite good. If you want I'll elaborate on the likelihood of sentient life to form and exactly how abiogenesis and evolution seem to have worked throughout earth's history.

Quote:
But you see, what happens inside your brain is not what happens inside my brain. Therefore, what happens inside your brain is not a law. It doesn't necessarily correspond to what happens in mine. In fact, it can't be identical with what is inside my mind or brain, because we don't have the same brain.
So he thinks his argument is the best... How arrogant. I wanted to be nice to this guy, but that's pretty arrogant.


Quote:
As the laws of logic come down to being materialistic entities, then they no longer have their law-like character. If they are only social conventions, then, of course, what we might do to limit debate is just define a new set of laws. and ask for all who want the convention that says, "Atheism must be true or theism must be true, and we have the following laws that we conventionally adopt to prove it," and see who'd be satisfied.
This isn't proving his specific argument. "Extroadinary (sp?) claims require extroardinary evidence."


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But no one can be satisfied without a rational procedure to follow. The laws of logic can not be avoided, the laws of logic can not be accounted for in a Materialist universe. Therefore, the laws of logic are one of the many evidences that without God you can't prove anything at all.
This is a horrible misunderstanding of just how logic works. He is making harder than it is.

Quote:
Bahnsen thinks that this failure of Stein's argument opens the door for his God. Since Stein must postulate something universal and immaterial - the laws of logic - to use in his argument, he cannot be using a purely physicalist worldview. And, in order to justify using something so metaphysical as logic, Bahnsen believes that Stein must turn to God for it, given that physicalism cannot possibly offer a justification for metaphysics.
To me, his argument seems to simply be like Stein's, only rephrased to seem different. When you get right down to it, Bahnsan is arguing in metaphysics just like Stein.

Quote:
In this case, I think, the uses of the word logic are many and varied, but "logic" does not necessarily correspond to the metaphysical idea that Bahnsen proposes. He has "flattened the landscape", so to speak, of the uses of "logic" into a single one - that of his own worldview, and in so doing has presupposed his own argument.
Agreed.

"Only when you think you're so right can you be so wrong."

Edit:

Okay, history of the universe time, since I decided to explain it all in one post (lol, summarized. I hope it fits.):

In the beginning, something happened. We think it was the big bang, what we can't be entirely sure.

Looking at the stars, we can track the movements of all the galactic objects within our visual range. We can study the physics of their movements, along with take various scans for different light wavelengths.

Here, a timeline pic:



Now for the origin of life:

The most vital elements for life (not neccessarily the only ones) are:

carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and nitrogen.

Now let's look at the periodic table of elements:



Hydrogen- the most abundant element in the universe.

Hydrogen was the first atom. Along with helium. Hydrogen and helium came together to formed the first stars, which work by nuclear fusion. Heat under gravity is basically the driving force of nuclear fusion. Heavier elements come from being smaller elements being fused and mixed up. Stars going supernova and whatnot leaves behind quite a lot of elements. Massive amounts of simplicy breeds complexity.

So, eventually we get even more complex elements, such as carbon, oxygen, phosphorus, and nitrogen.

Now, here's where it gets cool.

All elements have layers. IE, layers of electrons.

Their atomic masses are the nuetrons and protons combined. Their atomic number is the amount of protons they have. Usually, the electrons are equal to the amount of protons. When they are not, the element is an isotope of the pure form of the element.

Here's how the electron layers work:

First level: up to two electrons.
Every level afterwards- 8 electrons per level.

The 8 electrons per level after the first level is called the octet rule.

These atoms want to fill their outer layer of electrons, due to the forces of gravity. The electrons in their outer levels are called valence electrons.

With these electrons and the open slots in their outer levels, there is the opportunity for chemcical bonds. The chemical bonds (the ones I know of) are:

Covalent bonds and Ionic bonds

Covalent bonds are what make life possible, pretty much. Covalent bonds are where two atoms share valence electrons. Ionic bonds are the transferring of an electron to another atom. Ionic bonds occur when one atom has an electron it doesn't need, and another has an open 'slot'. The one with the open slot says "Gimme that electron!" and it gets that electron from the other one. Covalent bonds are strong and hard to break. Ionic bonds are weak. When one atom does not have an extra electron and the other one has an open slot, most often, the atoms will come together and form a covalent bond, sharing that electron. Get it? Co- (as in sharing) -valent (referring to the electron.)
You can get tons of covalent bonds- double covalent bonds and rarely even triple covalent bonds.

Now, two atoms fused together to form a bond isn't necessarily the end of a chain. Other atoms with open valence electron slots can come and 'ask' the other atoms to share all the other valence electrons they have. And then more atoms (isotopes) come over and 'see' the chain of atoms and bond to the ones that have open valence electrons that can be shared, etc, etc - you get the idea.

Proteins, fats, DNA... They all can very, very easily form from various atoms forming chains of bonds.

That, and the elements vital for life are very common int he universe. See the periodic table? You can order the abundance of various atoms by atomic numbers. For example, carbon has the atomic number of 6, and is thusly the sixth most common element in the universe.

Now, organic compunds. Compounds are masses of two or more elements together.

First, hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, etc, etc made covalent bonds with each other. This happens all the time with many different elements.

From that, we get chains of atoms, forming the very first, most simple organic compounds. over time, we get even longer and more complex chains. Now, beyond that, I can't explain it very well, so I'll hand it over to a youtuber who can explain it better than I can - cdk007.

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_lis...96457CAFD6D7C9

This whole playlist he has made is pretty informative, although the last two have nothing to do with abiogenesis...

Edit 2:

This site is pretty informative if you'd like to take the time to read everything...

http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs.html


Please feed the trolls. XD

Last edited by Arcesious; 10-07-2008 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 10-06-2008, 11:35 PM   #10
Samuel Dravis
 
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Originally Posted by Litofsky View Post
So, he sees his view as superior to others? And, if he believes that his view is superior, wouldn't that mean that he could not be swayed by other views/opinions, seeing as they are 'beneath' his?
Not within the context of this argument, no. He could not be swayed. However, he might well eventually realize that not everyone is saying quite the same thing that he is.

Quote:
Thanks for taking time to get into that. Without logical responses, I do believe that most conversation about scientific advances (and other relating fields) would have been near impossible. So, would it be a fair guess to say that logic was pioneered with the Greeks?
Yes, although there are other kinds of logic than that which developed from the Greeks.

Quote:
Well, if we look at logic in a literary and linguistic sense, the word 'logic' means using sound reasoning- without any influence whatsoever- to arrive at a conclusion. However, when we explore the individual perception of logic, it's quite possible to arrive at a different conclusion, is it not?
No. If there is a bias where there shouldn't be, a conclusion can't be logical. Bahnsen is able to assert he's using logic in the proper way without lying, but we can still correct him. "Well, Mr. Bahnsen, I don't think of logic as necessarily associated with God. Simply because I assert that logic is universal doesn't mean I must appeal to metaphysics, but instead I am appealing to how the word 'logic' is actually used in our language." You'll remember that Bahnsen's argument is trying to show that some of his opponent's concepts rely on God. If that's not the case, then his argument is a non-starter.

Quote:
I'd have to disagree with you on the first part of your statement. I feel the sudden need to quote Obi-Wan here: "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."
I'll point out the context of Obi-Wan's statement:

Quote:
Luke: Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father.

Obi-Wan: Your father... was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and *became* Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view.

Luke: A certain point of view?

Luke: Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. Anakin was a good friend. When I first knew him, your father was already a great pilot. But I was amazed how strongly the Force was with him. I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi. I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong.

Luke: There is still good in him.

Obi-Wan: He's more machine now than man; twisted and evil.

Luke: I can't do it, Ben.

Obi-Wan: You cannot escape your destiny. You must face Darth Vader again.

Luke: I can't kill my own father.

Obi-Wan: Then the Emperor has already won. You were our only hope.

Luke: Yoda spoke of another.

Obi-Wan: The other he spoke of is your twin sister.

Luke: But I *have* no sister.

Obi-Wan: Hmm. To protect you both from the Emperor, you were hidden from your father when you were born. The Emperor knew, as I did, if Anakin were to have any offspring, they would be a threat to him. That is the reason why your sister remained safely anonymous.

Luke: Leia! Leia is my sister.

Obi-Wan: Your insight serves you well. Bury your feelings deep down, Luke. They do you credit, but they could be made to serve the Emperor.
In this context, Obi-Wan's statement makes sense. Obi-Wan was concerned for Luke's reaction if he learned that his father was the second most evil man in the galaxy; he was worried that Luke might not want to fight his own father; he wasn't exactly lying because it was true that the Anakin that he had trained turned to evil. "I don't know who he is anymore" is often an expression that's used in situations like this one. "We thought we knew who he was... but we were wrong." Who could blame Obi-Wan? He was doing the best he could. Manipulative, but the fate of the galaxy was at stake.

Suppose Obi-Wan were to say that Anakin was now Darth Vader because he ate a cracker one time and he didn't like how it tasted. That's either ridiculous or simply making up excuses for lying to Luke, not "another point of view." I'd suggest reading Descartes' Evil Genius [PDF] by Bouwsma for a more developed and clear idea of what I mean when I said that some statements can only be used in certain contexts. Meaningful words are never used independent of a context.

Quote:
Reason can be shifted to fit someone's point of view. I agree with you that it will always produce result "x" in certain situations, but, nevertheless, people will continue to alter it to their needs.
As long as people know how they're supposed to use the concepts I don't think it matters if they change or not.

Quote:
But how does one go about determining if they are reasonable? If we decide who is and who is not reasonable, wouldn't that make it a matter of point of view? I have a grasp on the linguistic meaning of 'reason,' (or so I like to think) but when we begin to apply it, wouldn't that be a matter of what one accepts as reasonable?
You certainly didn't decide what you were taught in school; you didn't decide the contexts in which you heard "he's a reasonable person" used; you didn't decide what "reasonable" means and in fact there are few, if any, times when you actually DO decide such things. Simply the fact that there is a bit of play in who you might apply it to doesn't mean there isn't a rule, or that you can just start deciding whatever you like. As an example, I'd like to go back to the stop sign. What does a stop sign mean? Well, it means you need to stop at it-- but how do you interpret that? Where do you need to stop at it? Ten inches from it? Twenty? Three feet? Five? But what if someone said they stopped at the stop sign twenty feet back from it? I'd say that stopping twenty feet back is a clear violation of the rule, while five is arguable. If they stopped twenty feet back then they just don't know how to use a stop sign. They'd need to be taught - be shown - what the appropriate action is.

Similarly, we might say someone who who's a little fishy in his arguments is unreasonable, we'd definitely say that someone who's insane is unreasonable, but we'd never say that we were unreasonable (in the context of our talking calmly about it). That would be a clear violation of the rules for the use of saying someone is unreasonable or not. Then you'd need to tell them, "That's ridiculous, you obviously don't know how to use that phrase correctly."

And by a violation of the rules, it's not like you can't say it, or that the world caves in if you do say it. It's just that the words don't have the same descriptive power when you change their use. People won't understand you when you say, "We're unreasonable," and they'll likely look at you funny. I would too; I mean, it's pretty strange that someone would say that I'm unreasonable (or even might be unreasonable) without justification within a context. I wouldn't know what you meant.

Quote:
Language suddenly holds more power than previously thought: instead of just words on paper, or letters in a word, it proves to be the basis for everything that we view as a being. My mind shifts back to 1984, and Newspeak, which involved taking out all words that could be possibly used to insight rebellion, amongst other things. If there are no words for something, is it possible to exist? A very interesting point, Mr. Dravis.
I can sit on a tree branch and know what kind of thing a tree is without knowing that it is called a tree. Merely not having a word for something doesn't mean that is somehow banned from our lives. Similarly, I don't think 1984's Newspeak would radically affect anyone's ability to commit thoughtcrime -- they'd just use different terminology than we do. We use our language, it does not use us. If you're interested, you can read more on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and linguistic determinism. I am not a big fan of that last, however, except in the most trivial sense. The words we use determine what we can know - that is, to "know" is also a word, and it means means you can use this set of words in the appropriate contexts. There's nothing that says that the words we have now are all of the words we're ever going to use - or even that the words will always have the same uses - which means it's not really deterministic at all. Wittgenstein's work in the Tractatus has several critical flaws in any case, so I wouldn't be too eager to agree with him there (although it is certainly an interesting read).


"Words are deeds." - Wittgenstein
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Old 10-07-2008, 02:33 AM   #11
Samuel Dravis
 
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Originally Posted by Arcesious View Post
This does not prove God...
It's not supposed to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I just wanted to point out that this itself is a strawman fallacy
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcesious
No, it's still the Strawman fallacy.
I'm curious why you would both say it was a strawman fallacy within the context of the debate. Stein responded to Bahnsen's statement which you (Arcesious) quoted with this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stein, p. 6
Now, Dr. Bahnsen repeated for me that the existence of God is a factual question. I don't think he would dispute that. I think he misinterpreted what I said, when I said we resolve factual questions in the same way. I didn't mean exactly in the same way; I meant with the use of reason, logic, and evidence. And that is what I am holding.
But look at what Bahnsen said:
Quote:
The assumption that all existence claims are questions about matters of fact, the assumption that all of these [existence claims] are answered in the very same way is not only over simplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken. The existence, factuality or reality of different kinds of things is not established or disconfirmed in the same way in every case.

We might ask, "Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?" And we know how we would go about answering that question. But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty. In such cases, one does not do anything like walk to the pantry and look inside for the crackers. There are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case.
Bahnsen's Crackers in the Pantry fallacy covers a variety of mistaken assumptions, some of which do not apply to Stein. While the choice of name for the fallacies he is talking about is certainly unfortunate (it's clear that Stein does not care about how we find out whether there are crackers in the pantry), I don't think he has committed a fallacy himself by saying that Stein has made a category error.

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Does he allow God to be a falsifiable concept?
If you try reading the debate you'll find out that such objections aren't legitimate answers to his argument.

Quote:
It's just as easy to lose track of what is and idea and what is a fact... God is an idea, not an absolute fact. How can you claim something, such as God, as an absolute, when the idea of God is non-falsifiable?
You read the debate.

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Yes, yes it can. But we have no evidence for God. He can't support Christian theism with this argument, only deism. Both annoyingly non-falsifiable positions.
See above.
Quote:
He's already making all these concepts harder than they need to be.
And just how hard do they need to be? Bahnsen's objective is to win a debate. He obviously thought that his was a better tactic than trying other ways, like natural theology. It may be that his ideas are unnecessary to us, but quite necessary for him, in which case he hasn't made them harder than they need to be.

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He wants them to have a transcendental necessity, but there is no evidence for one.
I don't know what would constitute evidence for transcendental necessity. I'd venture to guess that Bahnsen isn't too worried by a lack of evidence.

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He claims that they are abstract- he cannot prove that. Logic isn't abstract, it simply gets very complex and slightly confusing when you consider all the different ways you can look at logic. We have not tried all of them, no, but we've tried all the ones we are capable of trying. Again, he wants there to be a 'hidden' meaning to all of this, but there simply is no proof for it. Call me materialistic if you wish, but IMHO, what ifs are a waste of time.
Logic is practically the definition of abstraction. Being abstract doesn't mean it's mysterious, just generalized: you can use the same kind of reasoning with different specific instances of the same class of concepts.

Bahnsen's problem with logic in an atheistic universe is that it asserts as its domain everything, yet provides no justification for that generality. He sees it as an unfounded assumption that A=A will always be so. There is no such thing as proving the laws of logic by experiment, so he comes to his conclusion that logic is not justified. And he's right; logic isn't justified in that way.

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He does contradict himself. Science proves quite a bit. If he wants to embrace this metaphysical view of things, there's a lot of scientific concepts and facts he must deny. Let's see... Law of gravity, evolution, modern medicine, abiogenesis, the illogicality of any and all theistic Gods... (I will elaborate on the illogicalities if you with, but the reason I am not elaborating on them in this post is because the argument he have about them is very long and probably won't fit in this post.
I don't know if he did disagree with any of those items or not, but his argument would not force him to deny any of them (save of course, the illogicality of theist Gods. He might deny that a theistic God is illogical, but agree that God is a non-logical concept).

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Incorrect on so many levels... We have very strong (falsifiable) claims of concepts of all those things. The 'irreducible complexity' and 'to unlikely to happen' arguments aren't as irreducable and unlikely as he'd like to think.
I imagine he is talking about the problem of induction there, in which case no amount of scientific, falsifiable claims are going to help at all. For example, why should the nature be uniform? Why should how things happened in the future reflect how things happened in the past? Those are not a scientific questions insofar as you would have to use the scientific method in order to check the scientific method - an obvious nonstarter. He talks about induction later in the debate transcript starting on page 27.

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So he thinks his argument is the best... How arrogant. I wanted to be nice to this guy, but that's pretty arrogant.
I'd hope you think your argument is best. I certainly think that of mine; that's why I hold it. In any case, Bahnsen was making a point: if the laws of logic are physical, then they are conditional. They couldn't be universal, so Stein couldn't say they apply the same everywhere (in Bahnsen's brain, for example, so that he would agree with Stein).

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This isn't proving his specific argument. "Extraordinary (sp?) claims require extraordinary evidence."
He's making a point: that we wouldn't be satisfied if we just decided to define God as existing or not, and then manufactured "evidence" to show that our assertion was true. Why wouldn't we be satisfied by that if truths were truths because we agreed to them?

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To me, his argument seems to simply be like Stein's, only rephrased to seem different. When you get right down to it, Bahnsan is arguing in metaphysics just like Stein.
Well, yes. Bahnsen is arguing for God, after all. Bahnsen just wants Stein to realize that some of Stein's ideas are metaphysical and can't be made sense of without a metaphysical explanation. I disagree with him there, but I've already said why in the first post.

I'm not sure what the rest of your post had to do with the debate so I won't respond to it.


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Old 10-07-2008, 10:41 AM   #12
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It's not supposed to.


I'm curious why you would both say it was a strawman fallacy within the context of the debate. Stein responded to Bahnsen's statement which you (Arcesious) quoted with this:
But look at what Bahnsen said:
Bahnsen's Crackers in the Pantry fallacy covers a variety of mistaken assumptions, some of which do not apply to Stein. While the choice of name for the fallacies he is talking about is certainly unfortunate (it's clear that Stein does not care about how we find out whether there are crackers in the pantry), I don't think he has committed a fallacy himself by saying that Stein has made a category error.

If you try reading the debate you'll find out that such objections aren't legitimate answers to his argument.

You read the debate.
Everybody loves fallacies... But I think it is reasonable to allow some fallacies to fly. (Within limit)

Quote:
And just how hard do they need to be? Bahnsen's objective is to win a debate. He obviously thought that his was a better tactic than trying other ways, like natural theology. It may be that his ideas are unnecessary to us, but quite necessary for him, in which case he hasn't made them harder than they need to be.
His objective was to win the debate yes, but when you try to use metaphysical concepts with logic, without anything but 'fallacy this, fallacy that' to back up an argument, there's a problem...

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I don't know what would constitute evidence for transcendental necessity. I'd venture to guess that Bahnsen isn't too worried by a lack of evidence.
But the evidence is exceedingly important. If its there, it's best to take it into account. If God wanted us to follow him religiously, why did he give us these five senses and brains and useful hands that allowed us to construct such complex pieces of technology that are telling us otherwise as we look at the universe and see quite a bit of evidence for things such as human evolution...

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Logic is practically the definition of abstraction. Being abstract doesn't mean it's mysterious, just generalized: you can use the same kind of reasoning with different specific instances of the same class of concepts.
True when you put it that way. The logic I was talking about is scientific, rational, analytical logic.


Quote:
Bahnsen's problem with logic in an atheistic universe is that it asserts as its domain everything, yet provides no justification for that generality. He sees it as an unfounded assumption that A=A will always be so. There is no such thing as proving the laws of logic by experiment, so he comes to his conclusion that logic is not justified. And he's right; logic isn't justified in that way.
Our claims are falsifiable though. The scientific method doesn't use the inductive fallacy that much, because it is self correcting. If we find evidence for or against something, we go with it, and attempt to find every contributing factor for and against what we analyze with the scientific method. True, it uses the inductive fallacy, but only to a certain extent. All scientific papers are examined by the scientific community to be put under peer review in order to make sure that everything checks out. We as humans have to use the inductive fallacy to a certain extent, but those nice scientists who give us these amazing computers and other conveniences such as modern medicine and whatnot- they go to a lot of work to make sure things work. BTW, faith uses the inductive fallacy much more.

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I don't know if he did disagree with any of those items or not, but his argument would not force him to deny any of them (save of course, the illogicality of theist Gods. He might deny that a theistic God is illogical, but agree that God is a non-logical concept).
He was arguing in metaphysics, but not analyzing the illogical actions of the Christian God in the Bible.

Quote:
I imagine he is talking about the problem of induction there, in which case no amount of scientific, falsifiable claims are going to help at all. For example, why should the nature be uniform? Why should how things happened in the future reflect how things happened in the past? Those are not a scientific questions insofar as you would have to use the scientific method in order to check the scientific method - an obvious nonstarter. He talks about induction later in the debate transcript starting on page 27.
Nature is not all that uniform, and if you see my points on abiogenesis and cdk007's, you can see that it isn't too hard for the universal conditions to form complex life over a long period of time.

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I'd hope you think your argument is best. I certainly think that of mine; that's why I hold it. In any case, Bahnsen was making a point: if the laws of logic are physical, then they are conditional. They couldn't be universal, so Stein couldn't say they apply the same everywhere (in Bahnsen's brain, for example, so that he would agree with Stein).
Most of the time now I come to debate not to win, but to learn. Although there are some debates I come to try to come to an agreement with fellow debaters.

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He's making a point: that we wouldn't be satisfied if we just decided to define God as existing or not, and then manufactured "evidence" to show that our assertion was true. Why wouldn't we be satisfied by that if truths were truths because we agreed to them?
The scientific method isn't something you vote about... We don't know all the answers, and perhaps we never will know them all, but it seems less of a waste of time to attempt to understand the universe than to cling to a superstition. We've gotten pretty far thanks to the people who do all that confusing science stuff...

Quote:
I'm not sure what the rest of your post had to do with the debate so I won't respond to it.
Oh I was just trying to explain how the formation of complex life such as humans on earth doesn't need divine intervention to happen.


Please feed the trolls. XD

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Old 10-08-2008, 11:45 AM   #13
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Everybody loves fallacies... But I think it is reasonable to allow some fallacies to fly. (Within limit)
Stating that everyone loves fallacies is fallacious. I can't imagine Achilles, for example, ever saying such a thing (and to be clear, that's a good thing--I don't want anyone reading anything negative into that, please.)

Which fallacies should fly, by the way? Yours? Mine? Someone else's? What limits shall we apply? Yours? Mine? Someone else's? Does this really sound reasonable to you?

The very origin of the universe becomes a metaphysical issue. Time and space, the physical aspects of our universe as we know it (albeit woefully incompletely), were created at the point of the Big Bang. The point where we discuss how that singularity came into being to create the Big Bang becomes a metaphysical one, because there's no way we can prove it scientifically because the laws of physics, and therefore the scientific method, don't start working until a fraction of a second after the Big Bang occurs. String theory and other non-theistic explanations for the singularity origin become nothing more than metaphysics at that point. Like it or not, there are going to be some metaphysical questions and metaphysical answers that science will never be able to answer, Arcesious.


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Old 10-08-2008, 12:22 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi View Post
Stating that everyone loves fallacies is fallacious. I can't imagine Achilles, for example, ever saying such a thing (and to be clear, that's a good thing--I don't want anyone reading anything negative into that, please.)

Which fallacies should fly, by the way? Yours? Mine? Someone else's? What limits shall we apply? Yours? Mine? Someone else's? Does this really sound reasonable to you?
Well the 'Everybody loves fallacies comment was sarcastic and technical meaningless, only being meant to lighten the mood...

As for fallacies...

The inductive fallacy, is one the should be allowed to fly, but within strict regulation. IE, criticism of opposing and supporting evidences for what is being inductively claimed. For example, evolution uses the inductive fallacy, but that's why we call it a theory. Thinking gravity works is also an inductive fallacy, but so far, as long as our knowledge of gravity works with what gravity does, then its safe to assume that we will stay on the ground, until we start floating away and every atom of every compound breaks apart...
We need evidence because in order to make up for the inductive fallacy, we need falsifiable claims. The theories must suit the facts. If evolution was disproven tomorrow, I'd be reluctant to accept it being falsified because it is such a vital concept to how many things seem to work. But, I would gladly do research on my own to see if it really was disproven, and if it was, I would most certainly accept that as a reality.

The Big Bang, for example, is a theory that is a little difficult to put into cold hard fact at the moment. We have been able to analyze movements of galactic objects and have done scans on various light wavelengths, and have managed to be able to see that it appears that the galaxy rapidly expanded from some central point. For the moment, most of our theories about the universe are based in mathematics.

To get more answers, we've been building things like the LHC, we've even got our 1337 Hubble telescope checking out all those stars and whatnot...

The inductive fallacy should be strictly regulated, as the scientific community has done in their studies and experiments.

I'm not so sceptical as to think that it's not safe to assume that my computer won't explode in my face. Scepticism at that level would be paranoid and not let anything get done. Although it is smart to be cautious.

Basically, overall, with fallacies, I think it's important to keep a careful balance.

As for the metaphysical theories of the big bang. Yes, they are metaphysical, but as least we use something falsifiable, such as mathematics, in theorizing about it. Quantum physics is far different than the laws of physics. There are some odd things about the universe we do not know for sure about, such as dark matter and whatnot. That's why we're building things like the LHC to attempt to figure it out.


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Old 10-08-2008, 01:04 PM   #15
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Well the 'Everybody loves fallacies comment was sarcastic and technical meaningless, only being meant to lighten the mood...
Sure.

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Originally Posted by Arcesious
Thinking gravity works is also an inductive fallacy, but so far, as long as our knowledge of gravity works with what gravity does, then its safe to assume that we will stay on the ground, until we start floating away and every atom of every compound breaks apart...
Gravity is a physical law: F = (G*(m1m2))/r^2
I can get into the general theory of relativity and its discussion of gravitation, strong and weak forces, and so on when you've gotten through the basics of Newton's gravitation law. Gravity works regardless of what we think of it, fallacy or otherwise.

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Originally Posted by Arcesious
We need evidence because in order to make up for the inductive fallacy, we need falsifiable claims. The theories must suit the facts.
What a concept for science. I'm glad your 6th grade teacher was diligent in teaching you that.

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Originally Posted by Arcesious
The Big Bang, for example, is a theory that is a little difficult to put into cold hard fact at the moment. We have been able to analyze movements of galactic objects and have done scans on various light wavelengths, and have managed to be able to see that it appears that the galaxy rapidly expanded from some central point. For the moment, most of our theories about the universe are based in mathematics.
That would be because physics uses math in its equations--something you'll learn when you hit physics in high school. The Big Bang is hard to put into cold hard fact because physical laws were created a fraction of a second after the Big Bang occurred. Science can't explain it prior to that fraction of a second.
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Originally Posted by Arcesious
To get more answers, we've been building things like the LHC, we've even got our 1337 Hubble telescope checking out all those stars and whatnot...
Along with all the other |337 particle accelerators we have, radio telescopes, telescopes in a variety of wavelengths both visible and non-visible, let me know what others you might need help with.

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Originally Posted by Arcesious
The inductive fallacy should be strictly regulated, as the scientific community has done in their studies and experiments.
I'm sure Congress will get right on that.

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Originally Posted by Arcesious
I'm not so sceptical as to think that it's not safe to assume that my computer won't explode in my face. Scepticism at that level would be paranoid and not let anything get done. Although it is smart to be cautious.
What does this have to do with anything else said in this thread? That's just you sitting in front of your computer deciding the probability of it exploding is minute compared to it not exploding and electing to take the risk of sitting there.

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Originally Posted by Arcesious
Basically, overall, with fallacies, I think it's important to keep a careful balance.
Who decides the balance? Which fallacies?

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Originally Posted by Arcesious
As for the metaphysical theories of the big bang. Yes, they are metaphysical, but as least we use something falsifiable, such as mathematics, in theorizing about it. Quantum physics is far different than the laws of physics. There are some odd things about the universe we do not know for sure about, such as dark matter and whatnot. That's why we're building things like the LHC to attempt to figure it out.
Quantum mechanics is a fundamental branch of physics and your statement that it's different from the laws of physics is just plain wrong.

You've missed part of the point I made about the metaphyics part--physics (and the underlying mathematical forumulas) don't work and don't even come into play until that fraction of a second after the singularity explodes into the universe. Since there is no physics prior to that, any explanation becomes metaphysical, i.e. outside the realm of physics/science. In respect to how this fits into the rest of this thread, it shows that scientism cannot explain everything--there are some metaphysical issues we're forced to deal with.


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Old 10-08-2008, 02:08 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi View Post
Sure.
Was that sarcastic or something else?

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Gravity is a physical law: F = (G*(m1m2))/r^2
I can get into the general theory of relativity and its discussion of gravitation, strong and weak forces, and so on when you've gotten through the basics of Newton's gravitation law. Gravity works regardless of what we think of it, fallacy or otherwise.
Sounds facinating actually... Once I'm done with Biology this year I'll take Cosmology next year, and then Physics...



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What a concept for science. I'm glad your 6th grade teacher was diligent in teaching you that.
Mrs. Ritch was a really good teacher, yes...


Quote:
That would be because physics uses math in its equations--something you'll learn when you hit physics in high school. The Big Bang is hard to put into cold hard fact because physical laws were created a fraction of a second after the Big Bang occurred. Science can't explain it prior to that fraction of a second.
Along with all the other particle accelerators we have, radio telescopes, telescopes in a variety of wavelengths both visible and non-visible, let me know what others you might need help with.
Sounds interesting... I could wiki it, but I'd prefer a good source to learn about those things...

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I'm sure Congress will get right on that.
I think I phrased that part wrong. I should have said: "We should strictly self-regulate our arguments against big inductive fallacies when debating."

Quote:
What does this have to do with anything else said in this thread? That's just you sitting in front of your computer deciding the probability of it exploding is minute compared to it not exploding and electing to take the risk of sitting there.
True, unless if you'd like to argue about probability too...

Quote:
Who decides the balance? Which fallacies?
Good point. We can't be precise. We have to figure out what makes sense and what doesn't. If some 'fallacies' in an argument make it make sense, it's either a good argument or just a bad argument, depending on just how the argument is structured... No argument I've heard seems to be perfect however.

Quote:
Quantum mechanics is a fundamental branch of physics and your statement that it's different from the laws of physics is just plain wrong.

You've missed part of the point I made about the metaphyics part--physics (and the underlying mathematical forumulas) don't work and don't even come into play until that fraction of a second after the singularity explodes into the universe. Since there is no physics prior to that, any explanation becomes metaphysical, i.e. outside the realm of physics/science. In respect to how this fits into the rest of this thread, it shows that scientism cannot explain everything--there are some metaphysical issues we're forced to deal with.
Yeah I don't know physics beyond what I've displayed what I know, really... I would gladly welcome it if you could explain it to me so that I can avoid making an ignorant argument about physics...

This must be one of the most annoying arguments for you to hear, but:

How can you assume God created the universe? Before the Big Bang, at this time, as you've been saying, we don't know and can't know what happened.


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Old 10-08-2008, 04:55 PM   #17
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Anyways, I don't think that 2+2=4 is true because we think that way. It's true that 2+2=4 is confirmed by observation, but the generality of the equation is not justified by those observations (this is part of Bahnsen's argument, actually). However, the proposition 2+2=4 is a part of our language and used in a certain way within it, and that use is intertwined with how we can talk about it. So, if an alien were to come and learn how we use it - see the context in which we apply it - then they'd know what we meant by 2+2=4. It's universal in that anyone who uses our methods of solving mathematical problems will inevitably come up with 4 as the answer to 2+2. Of course, there's no warranty for the results coming from anyone using some other method!
But doesn't that still reflect an objective truth? 2+2=4 is true. It just happens to be our language and the categories we think in that make it a "2+2=4". But the concept itself is, arguably, simply representing the truth, regardless of human constructs (such as language etc). Our numbers and our language as well as our logic are merely the means to talk and think about it.
And if an alien were to come, it would probably have a completely different approach to it, something we might not be able to understand, but 2+2 would still be 4. If that makes any sense.

To be honest, I don't understand your point entirely, but I find it very interesting. Please expand! (I know you already did in this thread, but I still don't get it )

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Additionally, there is a tendency to use the scientific method as an end-all way of coming to The Truth(tm), which I commented on with a note on Ayer, Popper and Feyerabend. I think it's important to keep in mind that not all knowledge is scientific, nor does it need to have a litmus test applied to it to make sure we really do know it. An art critic might know what a splash of paint means without having a theory which he uses to identify a particular case. I can even know what a stranger intends to do without needing to see him do it (except in extraordinary circumstances), if he tells me. We can be wrong about knowing something, but that's not a problem. In fact, that's often what distinguishes knowing from believing.
I read about half-way through Against Method some time ago. (And I fully intend to finish ). From what I remember, Feyerabend used Galilei as an example to get his point across. His point is, that quite a lot of scientific accomplishments were not achieved by adhering to strict rules and that imposing such a set of rules can seriously hinder our scientific progress. He argued that Galilei's Copernicanism was in fact irrational at that time. Irrational, because people back then had different "natural interpretations" of facts. Nonetheless, Galilei was persistent and eventually Copernicanism was shown to be correct.
I agree with Feyerabend insofar as I believe that it doesn't matter how one comes up with a theory. Any restrictions here would certainly hinder our thinking and our creativity. But the process of determining if a theory actually reflects the real world is always the same.

(The art critic might indeed think he knows what a splash of paint means, but that knowledge would be entirely subjective)


Edit: If anything is unclear or doesn't make sense, it is due to my inferior English, not my flawed thinking! xD
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Old 10-08-2008, 05:35 PM   #18
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Was that sarcastic or something else?
No--wasn't meant to be sarcastic--sorry for the confusion on that.
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Originally Posted by Arcesious
Sounds interesting... I could wiki it, but I'd prefer a good source to learn about those things...
Wiki's a good starting point--then check some of the sources listed. Any good basic text on Big Bang theory should get you started.
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Originally Posted by Arcesious
I think I phrased that part wrong. I should have said: "We should strictly self-regulate our arguments against big inductive fallacies when debating."
Define 'big inductive fallacies'. At what size do they become acceptable?

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Originally Posted by Arcesious
True, unless if you'd like to argue about probability too...
Took that in college, too. What would you like to know?



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Originally Posted by Arcesious
If some 'fallacies' in an argument make it make sense, it's either a good argument or just a bad argument,
Wouldn't you prefer an argument without fallacies?

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Originally Posted by Arcesious
Yeah I don't know physics beyond what I've displayed what I know, really... I would gladly welcome it if you could explain it to me so that I can avoid making an ignorant argument about physics...
Pick up a beginning physics book at the school library--there's a lot more than I could cover in a post and it would be off topic for this thread.

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Originally Posted by Arcesious
This must be one of the most annoying arguments for you to hear, but:

How can you assume God created the universe? Before the Big Bang, at this time, as you've been saying, we don't know and can't know what happened.
I think I covered that with you in a PM months ago, and that belongs in one of the origins threads anyway.


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Old 10-08-2008, 05:55 PM   #19
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No--wasn't meant to be sarcastic--sorry for the confusion on that.
Wiki's a good starting point--then check some of the sources listed. Any good basic text on Big Bang theory should get you started.
Define 'big inductive fallacies'. At what size do they become acceptable?

Took that in college, too. What would you like to know?
Well it's not so much that it's hard to understand the theory about how it happened- it's the math that is used when explaining it...


Quote:
Wouldn't you prefer an argument without fallacies?
Doesn't every argument have some sort of a fallacy in one form or another, whether subtle or problematic?


Quote:
Pick up a beginning physics book at the school library--there's a lot more than I could cover in a post and it would be off topic for this thread.
The very basics I know, but I do probably have a couple things confused. All the things about physics I have read about make sense to me for the most part, it's just the when it comes to the math of those things... I end up having no clue what is being said if it's anwhere beyond the level of mathematical comprehension of a student taking Algebra 1.



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I think I covered that with you in a PM months ago, and that belongs in one of the origins threads anyway.
I don't quite remember that beyond a bunch of recommendations to Ravi Zacharias... I think that the arguments being made simply didn't convince me.


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Old 10-08-2008, 06:22 PM   #20
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Doesn't every argument have some sort of a fallacy in one form or another, whether subtle or problematic?
I think it depends on what kind of fallacy you are talking about. Most people in this forum (well, some ) point out the logical fallacies. That's when the conclusion does not follow from the premises, when the inference is incorrect.
And that's something you will always want to avoid.
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Old 10-08-2008, 11:54 PM   #21
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I propose that logic is of the same kind of rule as a stop sign: logic is a human endeavor, is defined by humanity, and cannot be meaningfully separated from it. What we mean by logic is shown in how we live and explain what logic is. It is a method whose rules are defined as universal, just as the stop sign means "stop" regardless of whether you know what it means or not - or even whether anyone actually stops at it! But note that this doesn't mean that the meaning of the stop sign is independent of the way of life of those people who use it.

I disagree. Reality demonstrates itself in a multitude of logical patterns. Human beings did not invent "logic", but rather discovered ways of representing it in symbollic form for communication. I know you can recognize the subtlety between the words that represent the reality and the reality itself.

You could argue the patterns of logic require an observer to have meaning, but you have to then say the same about all reality.

Regarding Bahnsen, I would argue that any laws which describe reality in any non-linear manner (gravitation, thermodynamics, etc) are inherently describing how things change over time. He seems to have missed the concept of calculus here. That is, an invariant law can describe a world where things are constantly changing. In fact the laws of physics were derived from empirical study of the world combined with logical symbology and rules that we human beings had already embraced as invariant (ie. math).


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Old 10-09-2008, 12:20 AM   #22
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I think that, for an extremely large amount of cases, this is true. However, there are some things that can be factually true without relying on observation; that is, definitions.
We might have to agree to disagree here. I would argue that definitions are subjective. Take a look at how many examples we have of words in one language that don't have accurate translations in another and I think you'll see my point.

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Bahnsen's argument is based on defining certain things - universals, like logic, morality, etc - such as they require God in order to understand.
Indeed he was quite good about positioning the argument in such a way as to shield it from any serious counter-arguments. This is common practice amongst people arguing a certain religious position.

"Please tell me how X is possible, but don't dare bring up A, B, C, or D. Oh and assume that Y is true and you're not allowed to point out that it isn't."

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See above, on definitions. Additionally, there is a tendency to use the scientific method as an end-all way of coming to The Truth(tm), which I commented on with a note on Ayer, Popper and Feyerabend. I think it's important to keep in mind that not all knowledge is scientific, nor does it need to have a litmus test applied to it to make sure we really do know it.
Again, we'll have to agree to disagree. Anything objective can and should be able to survive the scientific method.

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An art critic might know what a splash of paint means without having a theory which he uses to identify a particular case.
This is subjective though. Poor example for the point, imo.

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I can even know what a stranger intends to do without needing to see him do it (except in extraordinary circumstances), if he tells me.
And I would argue that this is only possible due to observation.

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We can be wrong about knowing something, but that's not a problem. In fact, that's often what distinguishes knowing from believing.
And how do we determine our error if not through observation?

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I'm afraid I must not have been very clear. Sorry!

Anyways, I don't think that 2+2=4 is true because we think that way. It's true that 2+2=4 is confirmed by observation, but the generality of the equation is not justified by those observations (this is part of Bahnsen's argument, actually). However, the proposition 2+2=4 is a part of our language and used in a certain way within it, and that use is intertwined with how we can talk about it. So, if an alien were to come and learn how we use it - see the context in which we apply it - then they'd know what we meant by 2+2=4. It's universal in that anyone who uses our methods of solving mathematical problems will inevitably come up with 4 as the answer to 2+2. Of course, there's no warranty for the results coming from anyone using some other method!
At the risk of sounding contrarian, I think I'm going to have to disagree once again. An alien species might have other words for "two", "plus", "equals", and "four", however I find it very difficult to believe that the idea itself would be in any way, shape, or form, foreign to them.

Let's change the example just slightly. Suppose we were tasked to sit down and have a discussion with an alien race about the process of nuclear fussion. Their understanding might be superior to our own or vice versa, but I have no doubt whatsoever that they would have terms for "hydrogen", "helium", "nuclei", etc.

And I am also willing to argue that they learned about those things via observation, etc, just as we have.

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Sure. I'd been itching to write something long and frightening for a while now.
I'm always pleased when you do.

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I'm curious why you would both say it was a strawman fallacy within the context of the debate. Stein responded to Bahnsen's statement which you (Arcesious) quoted with this: <snip>
He took the argument that was made, replaced it with an analogy of "crackers in a pantry" (the strawman), and then proceeded to attempt to discount that argument (strawman fallacy).

Stein (via your quote) argues that factual questions can be answered with the use of reason, logic, and evidence. Bahnsen ignored the "reason" and "logic" part and just based his counterargument on "evidence" (and didn't do a very good job of it, imo).
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Old 10-09-2008, 01:28 AM   #23
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2+2=4 is only true so long as you are using the correct base. For instance in base 2(binary) 1+1=10. So even the simple mathematical equasion can be interpretted differently based on the system of measurement. 2+2 in base 4 would actually be 10. in base 3 it would be 11.

I was writing a sci fi novel with creatures that had three fingers per appendage, and had their countdown use 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0(basing it off how we use base 10 cause we have 5 digits and 2 arms...).
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Old 10-09-2008, 03:09 AM   #24
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It's true that 2+2=4 is confirmed by observation, but the generality of the equation is not justified by those observations (this is part of Bahnsen's argument, actually).
At the risk of sounding contrarian, I think I'm going to have to disagree once again. An alien species might have other words for "two", "plus", "equals", and "four", however I find it very difficult to believe that the idea itself would be in any way, shape, or form, foreign to them.
I agree with Achilles here. Bahnsen here is trying to claim that mathematics and logic is inductive and cannot be known to be true. Unfortunately, if you allow me to use logic here, that is a contradiction.

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However, the proposition 2+2=4 is a part of our language and used in a certain way within it, and that use is intertwined with how we can talk about it. So, if an alien were to come and learn how we use it - see the context in which we apply it - then they'd know what we meant by 2+2=4. It's universal in that anyone who uses our methods of solving mathematical problems will inevitably come up with 4 as the answer to 2+2. Of course, there's no warranty for the results coming from anyone using some other method!
What method? The method of defining numbers? If the quantity denoted by '2' is increased by another quantity of '2' the final quantity is defined as '4' (for any base > 4).

Perhaps we should question whether the idea of any 'number' is has any real meaning outside the human experience as well. It's just as abstract as logic and even more simple. I suppose Bahnsen would suggest that numbers are inductive as well and hold no universality to them or that God is required for them to be reliable?


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Old 10-09-2008, 03:25 AM   #25
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I agree with Achilles here. Bahnsen here is trying to claim that mathematics and logic is inductive and cannot be known to be true. Unfortunately, if you allow me to use logic here, that is a contradiction.

What method? The method of defining numbers? If the quantity denoted by '2' is increased by another quantity of '2' the final quantity is defined as '4' (for any base > 4).

Perhaps we should question whether the idea of any 'number' is has any real meaning outside the human experience as well. It's just as abstract as logic and even more simple. I suppose Bahnsen would suggest that numbers are inductive as well and hold no universality to them or that God is required for them to be reliable?
Well there is also another way of defining it. See you could also look at it like 2+2=22 if you were to use a somewhat different method of defining the combination of the numbers. We just assume that 2+2 means to combine the values of both not to join the two numbers together because we have been taught to do that. See it could be 2 flashes plus 2 flashes means 22. It is faster than flashing 22 times to let you know the number is 22. I mean think about how you tell someone a phone number when you are in a high noise location. Or in a location that prevents you from being able to tell them with voice.

I had thought about something similar when I was working with number sequences one night...

1211
111221
______
13112221
1113213211

Before I hit that one, I had been using mathematical equasions to figure out the missing number in the sequence. in this case the missing number is 312211. See if you can guess the next number in the sequence.

Last edited by Tommycat; 10-09-2008 at 03:40 AM.
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Old 10-09-2008, 12:12 PM   #26
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The semantics of our mathematics is arbitrary. The concepts they are assigned to however are constant and universal. I guess in affirming that, they do seem to take on a transcendental, Platonic quality in relation to a materialistic universe. Pythagoras believed the essential nature of the universe was based on number. I wonder if Bahnsen would be willing to accept the idea of number as the end-all rather than assert that God created number.

P.S.
31131211131221


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Old 10-10-2008, 07:43 AM   #27
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Actually the semantics of mathematics is exactly at the heart of the debate. It is what we are generally taught. Ultimately that's what the whole debate boils down to.

Another example... In the automotive realm, 2+2 means something completely different than a 4 seater. It generally means 2 actual seats, and a glorified package shelf behind those 2 seats.
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Old 10-10-2008, 08:32 AM   #28
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Numbers are still numbers... 1 + 1 = 2 or 11, or if an alien race took it differently and wanted to get simply the number 1, they could do 1 + 0.0 or 1 + 0, whichever fits their system of thinking. Or 1 could equal 0. Who knows...?


Please feed the trolls. XD
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Old 10-10-2008, 10:27 AM   #29
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Actually the semantics of mathematics is exactly at the heart of the debate. It is what we are generally taught. Ultimately that's what the whole debate boils down to.
No it's not. The heart of the debate is the concept behind the semantics, and whether that concept has truth independent of our knowing it and independent of empirical evidence. It is an epistimological question at its core.


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