Atheism Culture

The Brit riots: “When churches disappear, the vacuum is filled by gangs or tribes.”

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In “Cleaning up pre-riot” (Toronto Sun August 19, 2011) British-born Canadian commentator Michael Coren discusses practical riot prevention, suggesting, among other things,

3) Stop the war on religion. Whatever your view of faith and God, the massive decline of religious observance and community in Britain has removed one of the glues that held the country together.

When churches disappear, the vacuum is filled by gangs or tribes. Beyond this is the disappearance of moral standards and ethical absolutes. Witness how in the black community it is the Christian evangelical youths who are least touched by the anarchy.

It was noted at the time that Muslim youths didn’t riot either. Thoughts?

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113 Replies to “The Brit riots: “When churches disappear, the vacuum is filled by gangs or tribes.”

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    News

    Here is Plato’s warning from 360 BC, in The Laws, Bk X:

    ____________

    >> [[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

    [[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . >>
    ____________

    Yes, we were warned 2,350 years ago on the amoral implications of evolutionary materialism. By a leading voice in our intellectual culture. Who in correction then went on to discuss the self-moved ensouled living entity, and to draw a cosmological design inference. (He began by distancing himself from the pagan traditions.)

    Those who refused to heed this and subsequent warnings have some serious explaining to do.

    GEM of TKI

  2. 2
    Bantay says:

    It was widely reported that the Japanese did not riot or loot when in the aftermath of their recent tsunami disaster too, and they are nonreligious for the most part. What conclusion could we come to except that

    1. When rioters riot and looter loot, it is not due to a lack of religion, but because they are choosing to act in a way that is contrary to what they themselves would consider evil if that same act was done to them.

    2. When nonreligions people do not riot or loot, it is not due to their lack of religion but because they are acting on what they know to be morally good even though they don’t acknowledge the locus of that moral good.

    Bottom line..No correlation can be made between nonreligious and evil acts, and religious and good acts. We are all capable of doing either good or evil, irrespective of our personal beliefs.

  3. 3

    So how do you account for the Troubles in Northern Ireland? no gangs or tribes?

  4. 4

    Yes indeed 🙂

    Well said.

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    You mean the rioting by youth in Northern Ireland?

    When was that?

  6. 6
    nullasalus says:

    It was widely reported that the Japanese did not riot or loot when in the aftermath of their recent tsunami disaster too, and they are nonreligious for the most part.

    Why are you comparing the lack of a riot after a natural disaster with a riot that spawned from no natural disaster? Hey, the british didn’t riot *today*, so clearly there’s no moral problem in the UK, right?

    When rioters riot and looter loot, it is not due to a lack of religion, but because they are choosing to act in a way that is contrary to what they themselves would consider evil if that same act was done to them.

    What makes you think they would ‘consider it evil’? What makes you think they even believe that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ exist?

    Why isn’t another candidate – that they have secular morals and secular values upon which they justify their secular actions – considered? Why not consider the possibility that they believe morality, the very concepts of good and evil, are a bunch of BS-words that come down to personal likes and dislikes and feelings in the end? Or that their ‘secularization’ left them with a moral vacuum, and that this moral vacuum may be unable to be filled given atheism and materialism – and will have to be replaced instead by threats of harsh punishments, additional camera observation, and so on?

    When nonreligions people do not riot or loot, it is not due to their lack of religion but because they are acting on what they know to be morally good even though they don’t acknowledge the locus of that moral good.

    Or because of the fear of repercussions. Or because, in the case of Japan, their nationalism or possibly even racial homogeneity, was a factor. Or because the idea simply did not occur to them, rather than occurred to them and was discarded as ‘morally evil’. Not to mention that the question of ‘religiosity’ in the east is more complex than in the west.

    Bottom line..No correlation can be made between nonreligious and evil acts, and religious and good acts. We are all capable of doing either good or evil, irrespective of our personal beliefs.

    Bottom line – the idea that ‘personal beliefs’ play no role in a person’s behavior is so ridiculous that it needs no refutation. Though really, the riots in Britain did have a comedic aspect, since it came hot on the heels of Coyne going on about how *clearly* atheism can lead to nothing bad, because we see secular countries and golly, there’s no rioting in the streets.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    It was also not so widely reported in recent times that the grandfathers of these Japanese were responsible for the rape of Nanking, and much more.

    The Chinese were viewed by those grandfathers as other, so the power of the tribe led to massacre rape and worse. 1/4 million murdered IIRC.

    This time around, law and order did not break down in Japan.

    That is all that this means, it does not mean that evolutionary materialism does not lead to radical relativism, which inter alia comes in the form of cultural/tribal relativism.

    What needs to be faced, is the challenge of warrant.

    We need a worldview foundational IS capable of grounding OUGHT.

    (Try this one for size.)

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    The troubles, insofar as they have a religious root [as opposed to being an onward extension of the British conquest of Ireland and the way they made the provinces vote on independence separately instead of as a whole so that six remained with the rule of London . . . . ] are due to both sides refusing to heed for instance this rather specific teaching from the scriptures — the text for today’s sermon it turns out — used by both Protestants and Catholics.

    Let me clip:

    Colossians 3:5-14

    Amplified Bible (AMP)

    5So kill (deaden, [a]deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God).

    6It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will),

    7Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices].

    8But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips [evil thoughts, feelings and words are precursors to evil deeds . . . ]!

    9Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices,

    10And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect [b]knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it.

    11[In this new creation all distinctions vanish.] There [c]is no room for and there can be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, [nor difference between nations whether alien] barbarians or Scythians [[d]who are the most savage of all], nor slave or free man; but Christ is all and in all [[e]everything and everywhere, to all men, without distinction of person].

    12Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper].

    13Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].

    14And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony].

    Footnotes:

    Colossians 3:5 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
    Colossians 3:10 Literal translation.
    Colossians 3:11 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.
    Colossians 3:11 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.
    Colossians 3:11 James C. Gray and George M. Adams, Bible Commentary.

    So, whose fault is that, the principles of morality and their ultimate warranting grounds, or the fact that as finite, fallible, morally fallen/struggling sinners, we are all too often ill-willed and stubborn about refusing to first remove planks from our eyes before we demand that our fellows remove sawdust from theirs?

    So, let us remember that when we despise or angrily dismiss the NT scriptures on some well poisoning or red herring rhetoric or other, that is what we are dismissing.

    Please, let us put things in proper and balanced perspective.

    And, this has utterly nothing — other than to distract — to do with the issue of warrant for ought. What is the IS that can ground OUGHT?

    The only solid answer to that is the inherently good Creator God who is the architect of the cosmos.

    Nothing else can provide an IS that can properly logically ground ought. As a result, such views as are incompatible with such a foundational is end in radical relativism and/or the amorality of might makes right, if pressed to their logical conclusion.

    GEM of TKI

  9. 9
  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Notice the chirping crickets on this issue?

  11. 11

    Oh, during the major part of my life.

  12. 12

    So it’s not atheism that’s the problem then?

    Really, I do not see why atheism – a position taken by certain people regarding the existence of god or gods – should be blamed for the evils of every group of people, whatever their views on god or gods, regardless of whether they even have a view on the matter.

    Religious people, including Christians, have behaved appallingly since time immemorial, as have irreligious people.

    And whatever else you might want to say about the Troubles of Northern Ireland, you can’t blame it on atheism. The perpetrators and instigators were explicitly religious, and some of them were clergy.

  13. 13

    I don’t think anyone is disputing that the people who rioted lacked a moral compass.

    What I’m disputing is that this has anything to do with atheism.

    I’m also disputing that you can derive a moral compass from religion objectively. Sure you can conclude you were made for some objective purpose, but unless you can also objectively discern that purpose you are just as stuck with subjectivity as anyone else.

  14. 14
    nullasalus says:

    Really, I do not see why atheism – a position taken by certain people regarding the existence of god or gods – should be blamed for the evils of every group of people, whatever their views on god or gods, regardless of whether they even have a view on the matter.

    So if a nihilist goes on a killing spree, we can be certain that his nihilism played no role in his behavior, eh?

    And whatever else you might want to say about the Troubles of Northern Ireland, you can’t blame it on atheism. The perpetrators and instigators were explicitly religious, and some of them were clergy.

    Because someone who is a member of a religion can never engage in a secular action, or have secular motives, right? And on the flipside, if a person who describes themselves as a Christian goes out and kills a few infants, clearly killing infants must be condoned by Christianity in some way?

  15. 15
    nullasalus says:

    I don’t think anyone is disputing that the people who rioted lacked a moral compass.

    *I* am disputing that. They did not lack a moral compass – they had, or they arguably had, a secular moral compass, such as it is. They had secular values, secular desires, and engaged in secular acts based on these things.

    What I’m disputing is that this has anything to do with atheism.

    Sure. Because as we all know, only nice actions we approve of could have anything to do with atheism. ‘I believe everyone deserves a big ol’ hug!’? Secular value, atheism in action. ‘I believe there’s nothing wrong with me smashing open a window to a store, beating the owner, and taking what I want.’? Not a secular value! Totally disconnected from atheism!

  16. 16
    africangenesis says:

    “Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality.”

    Quite the contrary, evolutionary materialism leads to the recognition of what Sarah Palin called “the fallen nature of man”. Religion and evolutionary anthropology converge on this conclusion, and the most judicious adaptation of society to this fact to date is classical liberalism, the recognition that men are not fit to rule other men except when their power is checked, balanced and held to standards, and even then the people and leaders must possess a civil morality and a sense of civic duty and the society must treat individuals as if they were responsible for their actions, whether they really have free will or not.

  17. 17

    No, of course you can’t be sure, Nullasalus. But the claim in the headline is: “When churches disappear, the vacuum is filled by gangs or tribes”.

    In Northern Ireland the churches not only had not disappeared, but were actively responsible for the maintenance of “gangs and tribes”.

    Bantay has it absolutely right IMO.

  18. 18

    Yes, it is totally disconnected from atheism. In fact, I’d say you were equivocating with the word “secular”, meaning “temporal” or “earthly” when used by religious people, with connotations of “base”, but merely “non-religious” when used by atheists.

    I think you mean “selfish” values. Substitute “selfish” for “secular” in your post above and you have something on which we can all agree.

    There is nothing inherently “selfish” about atheism.

  19. 19
    nullasalus says:

    In Northern Ireland the churches not only had not disappeared, but were actively responsible for the maintenance of “gangs and tribes”.

    Seatbelts protect ya from injury in a car accident? Pff. I know me a guy, had his seatbelt on, got in an accident – died anyway. Them fellers tellin’ ya that not wearing yer seatbelt leads ta getting yerself more hurt inna accident are fulla it. How they gonna explain that feller who died?

    And again: So if a nihilist goes on a killing spree, we can be certain that his nihilism played no role in his behavior? The self-described Christian who engages in act X shows that act X is a teaching of Christianity? What’s gone on in Ireland really has no secular roots, and doesn’t come down to secular values and desires in large part?

    As usual, secular values are only secular values if they involve hugging. Secular values, actions, and motives that are less popular are disowned immediately.

  20. 20
    nullasalus says:

    I think you mean “selfish” values. Substitute “selfish” for “secular” in your post above and you have something on which we can all agree.

    I don’t give two craps whether we ‘all agree’.

    And, just as I said: If it’s a value an atheist disagrees with, they insist it cannot be a secular value. Why? Because that would be way too freaking honest, in an argument where honesty is to be avoided at all costs.

    So is rational thinking, it seems. Let’s see what you say.

    In fact, I’d say you were equivocating with the word “secular”, meaning “temporal” or “earthly” when used by religious people, with connotations of “base”, but merely “non-religious” when used by atheists.

    No, there’s no equivocation here whatsoever. Go ahead and refer to ‘secular’ values as merely ‘non-religious’ values. Guess what? Deciding that it’s A-OK for you to bust into a store, beat the shopkeeper, and steal the goods – particularly if you never get caught or arrested – is a secular value. Whimpering that it’s ‘selfish’ doesn’t make it non-secular, because ‘secular’ and ‘selfish’ are entirely compatible.

    Nor did I say all secular values have to be ‘selfish’, other than the innate ‘selfishness’ you get when morality is whatever you like or agree with at the moment. Why, I’m willing to say that a materialist who decides, ‘Everyone should get a big ol’ hug!’ has a secular value. I’m simply pointing out that deciding that it’s okay to rob a shopkeeper is also a ‘secular value’.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    Observe the response to specifically showing the Christian scriptures being violated by any followers of Christian churches involved in the troubles in Ireland, in the case in view.

    Observe, too the response to taking time to point out that moral struggle is a constant of humanity, and moral failure is a challenge we must all face.

    Notice, thirdly, how the keystone issue: the grounding of OUGHT, is being continually diverted from.

    Null is quite correct to highlight that nihilism is a serious challenge to atheistic attempts to ground morality, as the only ISes that today’s relevant form of atheism — evolutionary materialism wearing the lab coats of science — allows, are simply irrelevant to the grounding of ought.

    By contrast, ethical theism does have specific warranting ground for ought in its foundational is, the inher3ently good Creator God.

    And, when we turned to the specific tradition that was accused, it was specifically identified from the main teaching text of that faith, that the sorts of behaviours in Ireland in recent years, or the excesses and crimes associated with the crusades, were specifically counter to teachings rooted in precisely the principle of the goodness of God. Which was brushed by as thought hat had no relevance.

    But it does, all the relevance in the world, and especially so in a day where many with access to very loud microphones are trumpeting from the rooftops that theistic faith is in effect the main root of evils.

    A slander, a willful and vicious slander, rooted in a refusal to acknowledge the sterling, millennia-long, sustained ethical-moral contributions of the Judaeo-Christian tradition to our civilisation, while too often trying to shout down any who would point to this omission by highlighting litanies of the real or imagined sins of Christendom.

    So, let me quote Bernard Lewis, on this, in his famous 1990 essay on the roots of Muslim rage:

    . . . The accusations are familiar. We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty — not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst. The treatment of women in the Western world, and more generally in Christendom, has always been unequal and often oppressive, but even at its worst it was rather better than the rule of polygamy and concubinage that has otherwise been the almost universal lot of womankind on this planet . . . .

    In having practiced sexism, racism, and imperialism, the West was merely following the common practice of mankind through the millennia of recorded history. Where it is distinct from all other civilizations is in having recognized, named, and tried, not entirely without success, to remedy these historic diseases. And that is surely a matter for congratulation, not condemnation. We do not hold Western medical science in general, or Dr. Parkinson and Dr. Alzheimer in particular, responsible for the diseases they diagnosed and to which they gave their names.

    Of course ethical principles are not self-enforcing. But that they exist and have warranting grounds is very important indeed if we are to move beyond “might makes right.”

    Just ask the prophets, martyrs, confessors, reformers, abolitionists and other moral voices in our civilisation across many, many centuries.

    So, let us not be distracted from that key point: we MUST move on beyond “might makes right.”

    And, plainly evolutionary materialism has no such basis to do so.

    So, it is irretrievably morally bankrupt.

    If other relevant forms of atheism do, let us now hear their case.

    But, let us not allow ourselves to be dragged away from our focus on this pivotal point, through the distractions of various red herrings.

    GEM of TKI

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    AG,

    kindly read from comment 1 above.

    Evolutionary materialism has in it no worldview foundational is that can ground ought. That makes it amoral,inescapably.

    And ever since the days of Plato, that has led to the promotion of such amorality to bright young people in the name of sophisticated skeptical thought and “knowledge.”

    The result has ever been the same over the past 2400 years: nihilistic factions and power politics, leading to social chaos.

    Which was the point being raised in the OP when it cited the author in Canada:

    Stop the war on religion. Whatever your view of faith and God, the massive decline of religious observance and community in Britain has removed one of the glues that held the country together.

    When churches disappear, the vacuum is filled by gangs or tribes. Beyond this is the disappearance of moral standards and ethical absolutes. Witness how in the black community it is the Christian evangelical youths who are least touched by the anarchy.

    That is no accident.

    GEM of TKI

  23. 23

    I’m not “whimpering” nullasalus, you are simply asserting that breaking into a shop is a “secular value”. It isn’t, in any sense of the term that an atheist would recognise.

    It’s selfish – it’s grabbing stuff for yourself, never mind the trouble and loss you cause from someone else.

    Your implication that for an atheist “morality is whatever you like or agree with at the moment” is simply false.

  24. 24

    So if churches disappear, gangs and tribes fill the vacuum, and if churches don’t disappear, gangs and tribes still appear, organised by church affiliation and incited by religious slogans, but it’s still the fault of “secular” values?

    Somebody is having their cake and eating it I think.

  25. 25
    nullasalus says:

    I’m not “whimpering” nullasalus,

    Sure you are, Liz. All over my pointing out just what is ‘secular’.

    you are simply asserting that breaking into a shop is a “secular value”. It isn’t, in any sense of the term that an atheist would recognise.

    It’s not? You told me that ‘secular’ amounts to “merely “non-religious” when used by atheists.” I pointed out that a value of “It’s okay for me to smash this shop window, go inside, beat up the shopowner, and take what I want” is a secular value.

    Are you disputing that it’s non-religious? Apparently not – there’s no mention of religion there.

    Are you disputing that it’s a value? Apparently not, because you recognize ‘selfish values’.

    The only reason an atheist ‘would not recognize’ breaking into a shop as a secular value is because of the convenient obfuscation with the word ‘secular’. Why, a secular value is only supposed to entail what they and people they agree with praise and call good! Any atheist who thinks that way is in need of a little reality check. I’m supplying it.

    It’s selfish – it’s grabbing stuff for yourself, never mind the trouble and loss you cause from someone else.

    Great, it’s selfish. There’s no incompatibility between a selfish act and a secular act, nor a selfish value and a secular value. And does it not become selfish if you grab some stuff for a girl you want to bed too?

    The secular can be selfish, Liz. Face it.

    Your implication that for an atheist “morality is whatever you like or agree with at the moment” is simply false.

    Have we now hit the point where not only morality is determined by individual like and whim, but truth as well? 😉 For the atheist materialist, yes, that is what morality comes down to. And a value which determines that breaking into shops and lighting cars on fire is A-OK is a secular value.

    London just experienced an outpouring of secular values in action. That they weren’t the sort of secular values you think are particularly peachy doesn’t change that.

  26. 26
    nullasalus says:

    kf,

    Observe the response to specifically showing the Christian scriptures being violated by any followers of Christian churches involved in the troubles in Ireland, in the case in view.

    Not to mention the secular history of that affair. Yes, let’s pretend it’s a 100% religious conflict that has nothing to do with temporal powers, politics, or secular aims.

    And of course, on the flipside, if a secular act or value is one which justifies crime, then you better not call it secular. Even if it is. Because you’ll make someone cry.

  27. 27
    africangenesis says:

    @GEM of TKI,

    The longer historical perspective is that the presence of churches and religions may have united peoples providing internal cohesion and cooperation within collective identities, whether tribal, racial or national, but did little to improve human behavior against other groups. This internal order and discipline is the normal role of religion in modern humans.

    You are correct that if religion disappears, there is little to replace it. The “humanists” have a rather unscientific and selective view of human values, choosing to ignore the evidence that the inhuman values are human too. Their self delusion is dangerous, or perhaps they just hope to make their proclaimation of a secular Christian subset of human values a self fulfilling prophecy.

    But when religion is looked at closely, it doesn’t provide a foundation for moral values that is meaningful to non-believers either. Unfortunately, when religion is lost, it isn’t evidence based reasoning that replaces it, but something religion-like, but less well tested, like ideologies, or new age beliefs or gaia, or environmentalism, etc. Religion is the human norm. What we need to negotiate are the terms upon which we are willing to live and let live.

  28. 28
    Dick says:

    The critical point to be made in this discussion, in my opinion, is this: When people who call themselves Christian riot, loot, and kill they are rejecting and betraying the fundamental principles of the belief system they purport to follow.
    When people who call themselves atheists riot, loot, and kill they are betraying no principle imposed upon them by their atheism.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    Null

    We have an implicit concession, here.

    GEM of TKI

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers, observe here.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    “And every man did that which was right in his own eyes . . . “

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    when religion is looked at closely, it doesn’t provide a foundation for moral values that is meaningful to non-believers either.

    It seems to be very hard for people to hear what is being said from what is not being said, because the atmosphere has been so poisoned and polarised for a long time.

    Nowhere have I argued that RELIGION provides a moral foundation for values, though such may well inculcate the relevant values, and sometimes of course such can horribly fail to do so as has plainly happened in Ireland in recent decades, just cf Col 3:5 – 14 and the course of events.

    What I have said is that a foundational challenge for any worldview is to ground OUGHT in its foundational IS.

    Let’s pause to define a worldview, courtesy Wiki testifying against interest:

    A comprehensive world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.[1] The term is a calque of the German word Weltanschauung[2] [?v?lt.?an??a?.??] ( listen), composed of Welt (‘world’)[3] and Anschauung (‘view’ or ‘outlook’).[4] It is a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts with it.

    As Dr Liddle has now effectively conceded, evolutionary materialism fails that IS-OUGHT gap test.

    On very many excellent grounds, the only serious candidate worldview foundational IS that is logically capable of grounding OUGHT is the inherently good,Creator God, who having made us in his image, has endowed us with core equal and unalienable rights that for instance governments are instituted to defend from evildoers, foreign and domestic [including government officers gone bad].

    That — standing by itself — is not an argument that such a God exists, it is a point on IF, THEN.

    Next, we may observe that it is manifest that we have rights and that we recognise the reality of evil and object to it. That means that we acknowledge the reality and desirability of the good and the right.

    So, now, what grounds that, on inference to best explanation, why?

    GEM of TKI

  33. 33
    africangenesis says:

    I’m not sure that makes much difference to the people who are victims of those rioting, looting and killing. atheism isn’t a moral philosophy that imposes anything, it is merely the absence of belief in the supernatural.

    About two-thirds of libertarians are atheists, if they riot, loot and kill, they are betraying a principle they voluntarily adopted. Is a voluntarily adopted principle more likely to be adhered to than an “imposed” one?

  34. 34
  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    AG

    Such atheism in our day is as a rule deeply wedded to evolutionary materialism, which is a worldview. And it is an inherently amoral view that int eh name of “science” undermines moral principles and the fabric of the society, replacing them with might and associated manipulation makes for right.

    BTW, the “absence of belief in God” attempted rhetorical positioning of atheism fails.

    Atheism — on abundant evidence — is the claim or belief that there is no God [e.g. you have “absence of belief in God” because you think there is no God . . . often because you take on board assumptions about reality that imply there can be no God, like the Youtube advocate who set out to prove there was not a God in two minutes by asserting that here is nothing beyond the material universe], however rationalised.

    Just, some think it a clever argument to pretend that by saying they do not posit a belief they have nothing to defend. Sorry, EVERY worldview sits at the table of comparative difficulties and needs to answer to empirical adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    GEM of TKI

  36. 36
    africangenesis says:

    I think you are confusing the claim that there is no God, with the claim there there is no evidence for a particular God, a claim which should be easily refutable, if untrue. Not all atheists are what I call capital “A” Atheists, insisting there is no god and perhaps even evangelizing that position and perhaps even exhibiting hostility to religion.

    I don’t self identify as an atheist, but find that most would probably categorize me as that based upon their particular definition of “god”. By some definitions of “god”, I’m an agnostic, and some people worship things I believe in, like the sun or earth, although I see little reason for worship. I’m agnostic about a creator unless one insists for instance he must be omnipresent or can travel faster than the speed of light.

  37. 37
    Michael Servetus says:

    You can indeed blame immorality and troubles on atheism. I disagree with Elizabeth and others who try to argue one cannot. Talkers such as these will always point out the alleged bad behavior of various believers but fail to recongnize the obvious truth that people who behave in this way are behaving –as what?– when they do these things– UNBELIVERS. They may be called Christians or Catholics or whatever but the religion they sometimes profess to be a part of, denounces and rejects them and goes onto deny them the right to call themselves that which is sacred and clearly defined. It is thus very easy to see that when people are doing ungodly and unchristian things they are behaving like , well, atheists , as in without God.
    So if you take a person that the bible or tradition itslef casts out as a hypocrite and unbeliever and insist defiantly as calling him or her a believer for purpose of slander, reproach and advantage in debate or argument, you behave dishonestly.
    This is not the same as saying all atheists will act like ungodly devils because conversely the truth is, that when a atheists behaves morally he or she is not behaving consistently with thier worldview but are also behaving hypocritically in a sense and behaving as religous moral people who believe in unprovable absolutes and fixed oughts which according to their worldview have no basis in ultimate reality.

  38. 38
    africangenesis says:

    I value my life, it is incredibly precious. I don’t want to live it alone. I value my wife, children and friends (and wish I had more of the first two). I value many benefits of mass society including the comfort and research enabled by the production of surplus. I like helping others, but, lacking in absolutes, would not presume to force others to help. I like the idea that I have rights (even though they have no mass) and am willing to reciprocally agree to respect the “rights” of others. I value earnest seekers of wisdom and truth, such as some philosophers, scientists and Christians. Lacking something systemic, I presume my “worldview” would be the values I was raised with, at least those I continue to embrace. How is that being hypocritical?

  39. 39
    bornagain77 says:

    This tidbit, about Benjamin Franklin, is interesting to the topic;

    Review of the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
    Excerpt: In the book, Franklin talks about his 13 virtues, which he tried to integrate into his life – temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity and humility. He chose a virtue and focused on it for the entire week. Benjamin Franklin wanted to be morally perfect, but found perfection to be elusive. He realized that being perfect wasn’t possible, but he was glad he tried because he was a happier and better man after trying.
    http://ezinearticles.com/?Revi.....id=3781959

    of note; I think generally Franklin is considered a Deist, though I have heard that point argued against rather forcefully since he is said to have called for prayer during the constitution convention;

  40. 40
    Michael Servetus says:

    africangenesis, I was mainly trying to make a somewhat subtle and perhaps ethereal point about the connection between what one professes and what one lives and how they sometimes conversely mix and match , as in the cases I alluded to. I in no way mean to call you or anyone in particular a hypocrite towards others. But rather I was trying to highlight what may liberally be called an unwitting hypocritical stance towards a worldview or perhaps most simply a inconsistency. There are many variations of mindsets out there and judging by the few gentle and thoughtful words you have shared I would not lump you together with atheists–seeing you are probably not absolutely determined on the subject– or hypocrites.

  41. 41
    Michael Servetus says:

    Very good point Dick

  42. 42
    africangenesis says:

    I think Franklin was probably an atheist. People with whom he would be open about his intellectual life seemed to think so. After Franklin’s death, Priestly, in a letter to Jefferson, lamented that it was too bad Franklin wasn’t a believer, that from one of the founders of Unitarianism and whom Jefferson credits for his continued belief. We would probably know more if his correspondence with Hume had survived, although I doubt they discussed atheism, their discourse would have taken that as a given. Franklin wasn’t one to unnecessarily shock or alarm those around him.

    Source for the Priestly info:

    http://tinyurl.com/44rwttw

  43. 43
    bornagain77 says:

    Well, If Franklin was an Atheist, which is a point I won’t argue, the point of this ‘good man’s’ self observed ‘imperfection’, to his rather modest personal system of self imposed morality, is all the more vivid testimony towards the Biblical truth that ‘sinful’ man needs a ‘perfect’ Savior in order to face, and be redeemed by, a perfect and holy God. i.e.

    Romans 3:23
    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

    G.O.S.P.E.L. Poetry Slam; To The Point
    http://vimeo.com/20960385

    ====================

    The Mountain
    http://video.yahoo.com/editors.....60678.html

    POD – End of the World – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYWQLXHml-0

  44. 44
    vjtorley says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’d just like to comment on the oft-heard claim that the Japanese are not religious. They are. I vividly remember a conversation I had with a Japanese friend a couple of years ago, on this very subject. He was a young man who had no religious beliefs, but he earnestly informed me that there was an important difference between Western atheists and Japanese atheists. In Japan, everyone takes part in certain popular religious ceremonies, no matter what their religious beliefs are. Religion in Japan is seen as a matter of practice, rather than belief; hence even atheists can be quite religious.

    Thus, for instance, even Japanese who are total atheists will still visit a Shinto shrine on New Year’s Day, join their hands in prayer, and bow three times before the altar before clapping their hands and making a silent prayer. How seriously they take it, I don’t know, but the fact that they take the trouble to do it every year is remarkable in itself.

    Also, around the middle of August, many Japanese families congregate in their gardens, burn off pieces of kindling and paper in a large metal bowl and welcome home the ancestral spirits for their annual visit, which lasts about three or four days. The spirits get a similar send-off, when they depart.

    There are other religious practices which the Japanese also engage in. The point I wanted to make is that until about 50 years ago, Japanese society was steeped in religion. In the aftermath of World War II, religious convictions weakened, but many of the practices that glue a society together continued. According to some accounts, the word religion comes from the Latin religare, meaning to bind fast. In this sense, the Japanese are a highly religious people.

    The Japanese moral code has been heavily influenced by various religions: Confucianism, Buddhism (especially Zen) and Shinto. It would be a mistake to view it as secular.

  45. 45
    africangenesis says:

    That is the type of statement that just doesn’t make sense to me.

  46. 46
    africangenesis says:

    The Japanese response was orderly, but not much beyond that display of civic order or politeness. They emptied the grocery shelves, hoarding. There wasn’t the spontaneous inclination to help others that we see in America. I saw no stories of those in distant cities collecting goods, loading semis and heading to those in need. All seemed to wait on the government.

    I’ve heard similar stories of public piety in Islam. Shows of piety and prayer, but living behind walls while sewage runs in the streets. Perhaps where the pressures for conformity are greatest, the human tendency is to pay mere lip service.

  47. 47
    Brent says:

    It’s selfish – it’s grabbing stuff for yourself, never mind the trouble and loss you cause from someone else.

    This is one area where it is very easy to talk past each other. In one breath you say “selfish” as if it is bad (i.e. actually wrong), and speak as if it is also wrong to cause someone else trouble and loss. The problem isn’t that we disagree on that! We do agree. The problem is when I decide to say, “To hell with your morals. I’ll do as I please.” What THEN!? To who or what do you appeal? Another man’s morals? I clearly don’t care, for I am a man and therefore at least his equal. To the government? Governments of MEN?

    No. There is no ought derived from another man.

    Your implication that for an atheist “morality is whatever you like or agree with at the moment” is simply false.

    No, it is quite correct as I’ve just shown. If there is no higher authority than my own equivalent, then I am my own authority.

  48. 48
    Brent says:

    No indeed.

    Why do you think that Japanese morality isn’t grounded in a higher authority than their society? That is not even close to being correct. I don’t agree with their thinking about God, but to say that their sense of morality isn’t based on a transcendent source, or at least idea, isn’t the case. And surprise, they act accordingly.

  49. 49
    Brent says:

    It was also not so widely reported in recent times that the grandfathers of these Japanese were responsible for the rape of Nanking, and much more.

    The Chinese were viewed by those grandfathers as other, so the power of the tribe led to massacre rape and worse. 1/4 million murdered IIRC.

    This time around, law and order did not break down in Japan.

    I’m not sure the contrast “this time around” is necessarily warranted. It wasn’t a case of the Japanese acting outside of their moral beliefs in the cases mentioned.

  50. 50
    bornagain77 says:

    What? Do you not understand the basic Biblical truth that all men are sinful???, or do you not understand the basic Biblical truth that man cannot be redeemed (perfected; set free from death both physical and spiritual) by his own good works, i.e. by his own endeavors??, as was clearly illustrated by Benjamin Franklin in his personal ‘experiment’ of self imposed morality???

    If so, Here is a neat little study on ‘Good works’ vs. Faith that is clear to understand:

    Good Works and Salvation –
    The Doctrine of Justification by Faith
    http://www.redeemedscoundrels......62607.html

    ================

    Casting Crowns – Who am I? with lyrics
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt7OZyBj5Ik

    Lyrics excerpt:

    ‘Not because of who I am,
    But because of what you’ve done.
    Not because of what I’ve done,
    But because of who you are.’

  51. 51
    Robert Byers says:

    The riots were done by bad people. These lower classes simply have more bad people. Its always been that way with the lower classes. perhaps they are lower because they are bad. perhaps God rewards people based on morality.
    These areas further are ethnic (non English) that are more hostile to the native population generally as I note it.
    I don’t think these riots would happen so easily in poor English areas.
    The ethnics are not just poorer but are blaming the british to some extent for their condition. These rioters simply took it too a further degree.
    They are not that many.
    In fact I understand the gov’t has been more firm then usual because other ethnic groups do quite well in britain and there is no more liberal “blame the white man’ credibility left.

    If they are an enemy then be firm with them as a enemy and let the punishment fit the crime. Here the crime is not just the details of robbery/fire. it is the crime of rebellion against the people and their gov’t and law.

  52. 52
    Eric Holloway says:

    Japan is an interesting example. The wikipedia entry isn’t sure whether Japanese are 80-90% religious or 80-90% atheist/agnostic:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Japan

    I also suspect there is some bias in that article, since when I follow the link regarding the quote “84% of the Japanese claim no personal religion”
    the actual quote is:
    ‘According to Johnstone (1993:323), 84% of the Japanese claim no personal religion, but most follow “the customs of Japanese traditional religion.”’

    From what one of my friends tell me, it seems more the Japanese take an ala carte approach to religion, where they believe in almost everything incase it is right. Additionally, while many are not observing Buddhists or Shinto, their culture is very much based on those religions.

    So, it seems that while Japanese people may intellectually not believe in God, it seems they are still culturally pretty religious. But, it also seems that cultural religion is on the decline.

  53. 53
    Brent says:

    Japanese think religion is going to a weekly meeting and forking over money. They are very religious, but they don’t even know it. I live in Okinawa where the history and traditional religion isn’t in line with mainland Japan, but in this respect they are very much the same. When asked why I won’t attend to the traditional prayers in front of the alter and burning of incense, I respond that I am a Christian, to which invariably the questioner replies that their tradition isn’t a religion. It’s quite funny to see their face when I say, “Great! Please come to church on Sunday.”

  54. 54
    Brent says:

    Altar, just in case spelling counts. 🙂

  55. 55
    Meleagar says:

    IMO, many Western atheists became atheists largely because they rightfully rejected what they perceived as a “might-makes-right” morality imposed on humans by what they perceived as an irrational, capricious, hypocritical god. They were right to reject such a notion of God; that’s the notion of god that I rejected when I became an atheist many years ago.

    Unfortunately, such a backstory makes it very difficult to allow in the notion of a rational god, and a rational morality. There is great emotional bias against such seemingly totalitarian, fascistic notions. God would be tyrannical and fascistic if god was a dictatorial man-in-the-sky issuing forth arbitrary commands towards invented purposes, bribing worshippers with promises of reward and threatening doubters with pain and suffering unless they bow in submission to its arbitrary will.

    It is right to reject such a god, and any system of thought that advocates such a god. Might makes right is not a proper grounding for any moral system, even if it comes from god.

    But that is not the god anyone here (as far as I can tell) is advocating for; it’s certainly not the kind of god I could advocate or argue for. I’d rather live for eternity with my first ex-wife than shill for such a monster.

    As with most such atheists, I threw the baby out with the bathwater. Without god as grounding for first principles, there is no reason to tie anything we say or do to any first principles, and so we are free to rampage about doing as we wish whether we can rationally justify it or not, because reason itself becomes nothing but just another will-to-power device for oppressing the minds of the masses.

    Which is essentially what some of the interviewed rioter said; it is what leftist radicals have advocated for decades. Religion, to them, and logic, and tradition and the social structure itself are simply “control mechanisms” meant to oppress them into subservience for the enrichment of the upper and ruling class.

    IOW, leftist philosophers and academics have redefined the constraints upon evil tendencies (reason, morality, religion, social contracts) as evils themselves, recasting them as nothing more than camoflaged devices of “might-makes-right”. The problem with this perspective is that if the “might makes right” of reason, religion, and the social structure is evil, then rioting “because we can”, an expression of might-makes-right, is as evil as the oppressive social, moral and rational construct it rails against.

    If morals and ethics are subjective, then you have nothing to complain about. If everything is “might makes right”, you have nothing to riot against, because those in power are exactly like you, and their morals and ethics are no different – fundamentally – than your own; they have just exercised their own subjective morals and views on others via the standard of might makes right.

    So, what are they rioting against? IMO, they don’t like their situation (for whatever reason), and they lack any rational moral grounding (which would prevent random burning and looting of the property of other individual they don’t even know in any situation), they don’t believe there are any consequences to their behavior (as long as they don’t get caught) because “morality”, to them, is nothing but a control mechanism for the bourgeoisie.

  56. 56
    africangenesis says:

    No. It is the “perfect and holy God” that doesn’t make sense, I don’t know what that would be. I try to think of what that would mean, I guess it would mean he isn’t up to something nefarious, and that doesn’t sound too daunting or unexpected.

    So why would there be a “need” for a perfect savior in order to “face” him or be “redeemed”? A “perfect savior” would seem a strange mechanism and serve what purpose? If you need an intercessor with a perfect and holy God, why wouldn’t you need one with a perfect savior, a priest for instance, although I don’t know what he would add either? What is “savior” about the perfect savior? I assume you are referring to the blood sacrifice. Why would a God construct a grusome mechanism for redemption like that, when a simple snap of his figurative fingers would do?

    And frankly, I don’t see why redemption would be necessary, he should be able to take men pretty much as they are, like I do, and as he has supposedly created them. If there is something so bad about some of them, why bother redeeming those at all?

    None of it really makes sense to me and I don’t see what is necessary about it.

    As for the “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, what did he expect? Did that come as a surprise? It is a big, so what? If he wanted gods, why didn’t he make them instead?

    So, none of your statement makes sense, it tries to sound terrible or something, but it just doesn’t seem meaningful.

  57. 57
    tribune7 says:

    Britain wasn’t hit by a earthquake/tsunami. Why did they riot?

    Actually, I suspect that a major disaster that clarified to the minds of the citizenry that the government was not the ultimate source of their food and shelter would have led to a different form of group behavior.

  58. 58
    africangenesis says:

    “but that is not the God that anyone here is advocating for”

    A god that requires the blood sacrifice of a perfect savior as a mechanism for redemption, seems pretty arbitrary and capricious. I don’t see how even might can make that “right”.

    I don’t think the rioters were rioting “against” anything. I think they had a sense of entitlement, their material needs had been met at no cost to them, so they had no sense of the value of the material, and they didn’t value those they were harming. They felt anonymous and those they were harming seemed just as faceless. They didn’t think that there might be consequences to themselves, and may have had little ability to defer gratification, since they had never had to do it. Human variation has always included those that are impulsive, sensation seekers, the opportunists, who like the apache and navajo, who swept in and stole the harvest of the pueblo. They must have had some success for they are part of our variation. Eventually, agriculture was so successful that it created a population dense enough to set the conditions for their deferral of consumption and investment. The rules are so that people get to reap what they have sown and civilization is the result. There will always be those that try to reap without sowing. They must be controlled preferably through education and training, and with serious consequences if necessary.

  59. 59
    tribune7 says:

    So it’s not atheism that’s the problem then?

    the problem is failing to follow Jesus.

    Culture cannot save you. Culture, however, can damn you, I think.

    And of course culture — and the laws that it directs to happen — can make our temporary stay here more pleasant or more hellish.

    If our society strongly holds that a God exists who demands that we should love our neighbor, a Martin Luther King Jr. or Abraham Lincoln or FDR or Ronald Reagan (the communists were as bad as the Nazis) will ultimately triumph.

    If a society strongly holds that we are all here by accident and the purpose of existence is survival of the productive the winner will end up being a Hitler or Stalin or Mao.

    It should also be pointed out that if a society strongly holds that a God exists who demands that all dissenters be crushed the winner will be a Khomeini or those who constituted European royalty in its prime.

  60. 60
    Bantay says:

    KF I am sympathetic to the objections put forth by Nullasalus, and I notice you are supportive of his comments. He brings up some good questions, but some that I think are purely emotionally driven. I can sense that Nullasalus objects to the concept of a single, objective morality. That’s a different issue entirely.

    However, even as a Christian, I would not be the first to admit that a Christian can (and does) sin at times. Thus, there is no correlation between religion and its ideal (and antecedent), expected type of moral behavior. I just find it to be unfair to our unbelieving friends, to point out their immoral behavior and be quick to attribute it to a lack of religion, while Christians (or, religious people in general) do immoral acts all the time. Thus, I don’t think there are sufficient grounds for claiming that riots in the UK is due solely to a lack of religion. After all, there are many religions, and not all of them are peaceful. But this issue isn’t about other religions is it? At the end of the day, it is Christianity that is singled out here. So let’s just call it like it is. The issue here is not the lack of religion in the UK, but the lack of Christian morality in the UK. To that, I would agree.

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    First things first; we know your likes and dislikes, the issue is what is warranted as a worldview foundation.

    Is morality objective?

    If not, then we are stuck at might makes right, which is absurd and destructive.

    We know that evolutionary materialism — in a lab coat or a philosopher’s robe makes but little difference — is amoral. It’s a non-starter.

    Before we get to any particular religious tradition, we are looking at a plainly contingent world that seems to be fine tuned for C-chemistry cell based life. As such life, we find ourselves inescapably bound by a sense of ought.

    What worldview foundation best explains that?

    The only serious answer on the table is, a necessary being and architect of the cosmos, who is inherently good, and the Creator God. That seems to be the only serious candidate to be an IS who explains OUGHT, as well as to be the architect of the world we inhabit.

    From that, we find that we are equipped to reasonably accutrately perceive our world and to come to reasonable knowledge about it and about ourselves, including moral knowledge on the premise that as creatures made with minds and consciences, we find ourselves to be equal and to have core rights that are equal.

    So, we have a basic foundation for thought and life as morally governed creatures. There is enough evidence, if we do not shut our eyes, minds and hearts to it, to make such a baseline generic theism quite reasonable.

    Now, we also find ourselves, finite, fallible, morally fallen/struggling and too often ill-tempered and ill-willed. So we have to be very careful of the subtle self-serving deceitfulness of our own hearts.

    In that context, in our civlisation, we have a longstanding religious tradition, one that is anchored on the life and teachings of a certain carpenter form Nazareth, Israel. Is he the Saviour, and Lord incarnate as teacher, healer and redeemer that we can see in the Israelite prophetic tradition?

    Whatever we like or don’t like, the best answer tothat is to examine that tradition in light of its core warranting argument. Since that is going afield of what UD is really about — a worldview level discussion is appropriate to the issue of design thought, science and society but that seems to be about he reasonable limit, i.e this is not really the place for theological debates [though some may slip over the line from time to time], I suggest that you take a moment to look through the 101 level summary on that here.

    What I do know, beyond that, is that in that tradition, we are explicitly warned:

    Isa 55: 6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
    7 Let the wicked forsake his way
    and the evil man his thoughts.
    Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

    8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the LORD.
    9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
    and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
    and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
    11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
    but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

    And again, we are counselled:

    Matt 6: 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

    And, yet again:

    Eph 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

    20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

    So, let us be very careful of how we reason and debate on these matters, and of our inner motives when we weigh up cases.

    There are many fora where such matters can be followed up, online and offline.

    I trust that helps

    GEM of TKI

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    Bantay,

    I rather doubt that anyone here is seriously arguing that it is solely lack of religion that was driving the mess in the UK. But, it was being highlighted from the OP on that now highly touted antipathy to God, the only serious candidate to be an IS who grounds OUGHT is a factor in the breakdown of moral principle and social cohesion that are key to that mutual self respect that tends to restrain rioting.

    For instance, I am pretty sure that if in the past few days in the UK you saw a group of young men walking behind you especially in the evening, you would have been greatly relieved to know they were coming from a Bible Study.

    And sound Christian religion cannot be separated form sound Christian morality.

    But then that morality is also not to be separated from the underlying worldview frame that gives it grounding. Which is strongly compatible with first principles of morality that are written on our hearts as a key part of our nature. That old candle of God within, our consciences. Sure that can be distorted or polluted or suppressed — I am not so sure it can entirely be killed off — but that does not mean that it is not real.

    Now I am also sure there are various moral systems in the world, but i am pretty sure they stand before the bar of reasoned ethical thought, and so there is an objectivity about morality. I missed anything in Null that cuts across that, could you help me see what I missed if anything?

    All best

    GEM of TKI

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT: Quite significant. G

  64. 64
    africangenesis says:

    Of course evolution is amoral, it is a mechanism. Would a moral means have produced humans that couldn’t regrow limbs, synthesize vitamin C or that used the same genetic code as other animals making transpecific disease transmission easier or that were vulnerable to collective identitification or cults of personality?

    The “fine tuning” for carbon based life is a selective and subjective assessment. Most of the universe is hostile to carbon based life, either too hot or too cold, and our own position is precarious vis’a’vis collisions with objects from the periphery of our own solar system and the occasional supernova. If the goal of the universe is the success of carbon based life, then we may be the collateral damage since our chances of surviving the next 200 million years, much less the next 5 billion are minimal. In such a large universe, chance alone will assure that some life will survive, so perhaps that is the purpose of the universe, finer, less wasteful and harsh tuning may not have been possible given constraints we are unaware of and we are the price that has to be paid. Perhaps god will shed a tear for us. Or perhaps we will take our future into our own hands, we are close to being able to protect ourselves from solar system objects. We will need to be lucky for a few more millenia as far as supernova go.

    Humans are social animals, and our increased intelligence enabled strategies with high payoffs involving investment. Already there was some moral sense in our ancestors as demonstrated by related living species, a sense of fairness, the ability to detect deceit, defense of territory, etc. Investment requires morality to be successful. We must have some benefit from the tools we make, the animals we husband and the crops we sow. Any intelligent being would invent a morality that helps assure that. But our nouveau intelligence also asked questions for which there were no answers and it was a social intelligence that understood mechanisms in terms of anthropomorphic motivations, so we got animism, religion and gods.

  65. 65
    bornagain77 says:

    AG; perhaps you need to ask God to illuminate your mind more fully, and clearly, on these matters. I am sure, since He is if fact real, that He will ‘serendipitously’ make it more clear to you if you are honest in seeking answers from Him. i.e. As Jesus said, ‘Seek and ye shall find!’; As for myself, it is just blatantly obvious to me that finite, fallible, man cannot possibly measure up to the ‘infinite justice’ that is inherent within, and indeed one of the defining attributes of, infinite God.,,, AG you seem to, ever so nonchalantly, consider it a fairly light thing to enter into the presence of the One who created this entire material universe. Have you looked upon the vastness of the universe lately??? Does it not even enter your mind that Almighty God just may know more about what is required for you to securely enter eternal life than you do???

    Hell? We Can’t Afford To Get This Wrong! by Francis Chan – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnrJVTSYLr8

  66. 66
    Joseph says:

    Of course evolution is amoral, it is a mechanism.

    Evolution is a mechanism of evolution?

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    Again, we are so constituted as to find ourselves bound by ought.

    When evolutionary materialism turns out to lack any IS that can ground OUGHT, it fails to fit reality, and in addition, it is destructively dangerous through promoting the notion that might makes right. [Notice the operative word, materialism.]

    If any further demonstration of the problem was needed, the history of the past century provides more than enough.

    It is safe to say that no sane, adequately informed person would knowingly adhere to the view that might makes right, or anything that locks him up to such a view; whether or not the promoters of that view dress themselves in lab coats.

    Why, has been gone over again and again.

    GEM of TKI

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    In addition, such evolutionary materialism undermines rationality itself.

    To see why, cf what Haldane had to say on the matter as long ago as the 1930’s. (Kindly cf my recent post here for a discussion with a link to more elaborate details and nuances.)

    Let’s clip Haldane as he says the heart of the problem succinctly:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    There is more to the issue than simply reciting off the usual stories we are told in the name of science.

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    As for fine tuning, I think you will find here helpful.

    Let us just say that ALL human evaluations are “subjective,” but some have warrant that points to an extra-mental reality.

    This seems to be one of them, starting with the characteristics of the cosmos that give us water and Carbon in appropriate abundance.

    Observe, particularly, the remarks of Sir Fred Hoyle, an eminent, Nobel-equivalent prize holding astrophysicist, as just a dipping of your toe in the water:

    From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16. Emphasis added.]

    I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars. [[“The Universe: Past and Present Reflections.” Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12]

  70. 70
    ScottAndrews says:

    Consider the two World Wars, and throw in the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Imagine if the clergy in the various countries had given their congregations solid reasons for not going to war, including the absurdity of Christians going forth to war against each other.

    What would have happened?

    One possibility: The wars couldn’t have happened.
    Another possibility: Everyone ignores the clergy and goes to war, and the clergy go to prison or hang. Bad for them, but at least they stood for what was right.

    Neither happened. The clergy on every side of every war told men that God wanted them to fight. They blessed the bombs and the guns. Their hands were bloodied to the elbows.

    That’s what everyone forgets when they say these weren’t religious wars. Of course they weren’t. But they were possible because clergy set God aside to support the bombing, burning, maiming, shooting, and raping of soldiers, civilians, women, and children who even belonged to the same religion. The point about their own religion isn’t to say it’s okay to do it to someone else, but were these not the sheep of their own flock whose deaths they condoned?

    I shouldn’t be the one making this argument because I am a religious person. But how is there a shred of moral authority left in those who supported these atrocities? The Bible says that those who are from God love their brother. Those who are from the Devil kill him.

    I don’t mean to be so harsh. But I’m offended to see those who did these things used as examples of superior morality. They may not have pulled the triggers themselves, but they at best condoned and at worst encouraged the mountains of evil acts that were done.

  71. 71
    bornagain77 says:

    AG as to ‘looking upon’ the vastness of the universe;

    Journey Through the Universe – George Smoot- Frank Turek – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3993965/

    Psalm 8: 3-4
    When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?

    Since it is very easy for someone to feel ‘lost’, and extremely uncared for, in such a vast universe, here is scientific evidence that Almighty God does indeed care ‘personally’ for each of us, from His highest dimension, in such a vast universe:

    ,,, First I noticed that the earth demonstrates centrality in the universe in this video Dr. Dembski posted a while back;

    The Known Universe – Dec. 2009 – a very cool video (please note the centrality of the earth in the universe)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U

    ,,, for a while I tried to see if the 4-D space-time of General Relativity was sufficient to explain centrality we witness for the earth in the universe,,,

    4-Dimensional Space-Time Of General Relativity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3991873/

    ,,, yet I kept running into the same problem for establishing the sufficiency of General Relativity to explain our centrality in this universe, in that every time I would perform a ‘mental experiment’ of trying radically different points of observation in the universe, General Relativity would fail to maintain centrality for the radically different point of observation in the universe. The primary reason for this failure of General Relativity to maintain centrality, for different points of observation in the universe, is due to the fact that there are limited (10^80) material particles to work with. Though this failure of General Relativity was obvious to me, I needed more proof so as to establish it more rigorously, so i dug around a bit and found this;

    The Cauchy Problem In General Relativity – Igor Rodnianski
    Excerpt: 2.2 Large Data Problem In General Relativity – While the result of Choquet-Bruhat and its subsequent refinements guarantee the existence and uniqueness of a (maximal) Cauchy development, they provide no information about its geodesic completeness and thus, in the language of partial differential equations, constitutes a local existence. ,,, More generally, there are a number of conditions that will guarantee the space-time will be geodesically incomplete.,,, In the language of partial differential equations this means an impossibility of a large data global existence result for all initial data in General Relativity.
    http://www.icm2006.org/proceed.....l_3_22.pdf

    and also ‘serendipitously’ found this,,,

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: Gödel’s personal God is under no obligation to behave in a predictable orderly fashion, and Gödel produced what may be the most damaging critique of general relativity. In a Festschrift, (a book honoring Einstein), for Einstein’s seventieth birthday in 1949, Gödel demonstrated the possibility of a special case in which, as Palle Yourgrau described the result, “the large-scale geometry of the world is so warped that there exist space-time curves that bend back on themselves so far that they close; that is, they return to their starting point.” This means that “a highly accelerated spaceship journey along such a closed path, or world line, could only be described as time travel.” In fact, “Gödel worked out the length and time for the journey, as well as the exact speed and fuel requirements.” Gödel, of course, did not actually believe in time travel, but he understood his paper to undermine the Einsteinian worldview from within.
    http://www.faqs.org/periodical.....27241.html

    But if General Relativity is insufficient to explain the centrality we witness for ourselves in the universe, what else is? Universal Quantum wave collapse to each unique point of observation! To prove this point I dug around a bit and found this experiment,,,

    This following experiment extended the double slit experiment to show that the ‘spooky actions’, for instantaneous quantum wave collapse, happen regardless of any considerations for time or distance i.e. The following experiment shows that quantum actions are ‘universal and instantaneous’:

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment
    was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    ,, and to make universal quantum Wave collapse much more ‘personal’ I found this,,,

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

    Here is the key experiment that led Wigner to his Nobel Prize winning work on quantum symmetries:

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    i.e. In the experiment the ‘world’ (i.e. the universe) does not have a ‘privileged center’. Yet strangely, the conscious observer does exhibit a ‘privileged center’. This is since the ‘matrix’, which determines which vector will be used to describe the particle in the experiment, is ‘observer-centric’ in its origination! Thus explaining Wigner’s dramatic statement, “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

    I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe:

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  72. 72
    bornagain77 says:

    The expansion of every 3D point in the universe, and the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe to each point of conscious observation in the universe, is obviously a very interesting congruence in science between the very large (relativity) and the very small (quantum mechanics). A congruence that Physicists, and Mathematicians, seem to be having a extremely difficult time ‘unifying’ into a ‘theory of everything’.(Einstein, Penrose).

    The conflict of reconciling General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics appears to arise from the inability of either theory to successfully deal with the Zero/Infinity problem that crops up in different places of each theory:

    THE MYSTERIOUS ZERO/INFINITY
    Excerpt: The biggest challenge to today’s physicists is how to reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics. However, these two pillars of modern science were bound to be incompatible. “The universe of general relativity is a smooth rubber sheet. It is continuous and flowing, never sharp, never pointy. Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, describes a jerky and discontinuous universe. What the two theories have in common – and what they clash over – is zero.”,, “The infinite zero of a black hole — mass crammed into zero space, curving space infinitely — punches a hole in the smooth rubber sheet. The equations of general relativity cannot deal with the sharpness of zero. In a black hole, space and time are meaningless.”,, “Quantum mechanics has a similar problem, a problem related to the zero-point energy. The laws of quantum mechanics treat particles such as the electron as points; that is, they take up no space at all. The
    electron is a zero-dimensional object,,, According to the rules of quantum mechanics, the zero-dimensional electron has infinite mass and infinite charge.
    http://www.fmbr.org/editoral/e....._mar02.htm

    Yet, the unification, into a ‘theory of everything’, between what is in essence the ‘infinite Theistic world of Quantum Mechanics’ and the ‘finite Materialistic world of the space-time of General Relativity’ seems to be directly related to what Jesus apparently joined together with His resurrection, i.e. related to the unification of infinite God with finite man. Dr. William Dembski in this following comment, though not directly addressing the Zero/Infinity conflict in General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, offers insight into this ‘unification’ of the infinite and the finite:

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31
    William Dembski PhD. Mathematics
    Excerpt: “In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.”
    http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

    Moreover there actually is physical evidence that lends strong support to the position that the ‘Zero/Infinity conflict’, we find between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, was successfully dealt with by Christ:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

    Turin Shroud 3-D Hologram – Face And Body – Dr. Petrus Soons – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5889891/

    A Quantum Hologram of Christ’s Resurrection? by Chuck Missler
    Excerpt: “You can read the science of the Shroud, such as total lack of gravity, lack of entropy (without gravitational collapse), no time, no space—it conforms to no known law of physics.” The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. Dame Piczek created a one-fourth size sculpture of the man in the Shroud. When viewed from the side, it appears as if the man is suspended in mid air (see graphic, below), indicating that the image defies previously accepted science. The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically.
    http://www.khouse.org/articles/2008/847

    “Miracles do not happen in contradiction to nature, but only in contradiction to that which is known to us of nature.”
    St. Augustine

    Philippians 2: 5-11
    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    While I agree with a criticism, from a Christian, that was leveled against the preceding Shroud of Turin video, that God indeed needed no help from the universe in the resurrection event of Christ since all things are possible with God, I am none-the-less very happy to see that what is considered the number one problem of Physicists and Mathematicians in physics today, of a ‘unification into a theory of everything’ for what is in essence the finite world of General Relativity and the infinite world of Quantum Mechanics, does in fact seem to find a successful resolution for ‘unification’ within the resurrection event of Jesus Christ Himself. It seems almost overwhelmingly apparent to me from the ‘scientific evidence’ we now have that Christ literally ripped a hole in the finite entropic space-time of this universe to reunite infinite God with finite man. That modern science would even offer such a almost tangible glimpse into the mechanics of
    what happened in the tomb of Christ should be a source of great wonder and comfort for the Christian heart.

    Psalms 16:10
    because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

    It is also interesting to note that ‘higher dimensional’ mathematics had to be developed before Einstein could elucidate General Relativity, or even before Quantum Mechanics could be elucidated;

    The Mathematics Of Higher Dimensionality – Gauss & Riemann – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6199520/

    3D to 4D shift – Carl Sagan – video with notes
    Excerpt from Notes: The state-space of quantum mechanics is an infinite-dimensional function space. Some physical theories are also by nature high-dimensional, such as the 4-dimensional general relativity.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VS1mwEV9wA

    I think it should be fairly clear by now that, much contrary to the mediocrity of earth and of humans brought about by the heliocentric discoveries of Galileo and Copernicus, the findings of modern science are very comforting to Theistic postulations in general, and even lends strong support of plausibility to the main tenet of Christianity which holds Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God.

    Matthew 28:18
    And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and upon earth.”

  73. 73
    africangenesis says:

    @kairosfocus,

    “For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true.”

    The mechanisms of evolution wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that your beliefs were true either. Beliefs don’t always have to be true to be adaptive. For instance, social cohesion of a group may be increased by shared false beliefs, such as that they are a chosen people, or that other groups are subhuman. The modern human advantage may not have been more rational assessment of the “truth”. One thought example I have is of a small rational group of neanderthals peacefully living with their families, and a hoard of fanatical religious “modern” humans descends upon them. It may not matter which is the more rational, but which is the more committed and fanatical and which strikes first. Modern humans emerged from Africa into occupied territory. Their advantage was in competing with other groups who already had a long record of success in exploiting the environment.

    Of course, a world that has some order presents an opportunity for and intelligence which can predict the what the consequences of what ones actions will be. True beliefs aren’t necessary even in this case. Natural forces and animals can be believed to have personalities that allow their behavior to be predicted. Winds from one direction can be ominous and from another promising and it doesn’t matter whether it is believed to be due to the laws of physics or to the personalities if the predictive value is the same. Arriving at the “truth” doesn’t necessarily come easy to humans, a process of refinement as technology became more sophisticated required different models of reality. Difficult and unnatural disciplines such as the scientific method, seem to allow us to assess the truth of beliefs, but repeatedly we find our models are wrong, but our predictions have become better. We have also encountered seemingly intrinsic limits to our ability to predict.

    So even if we can’t supposed our beliefs to be true, we can assess our ability to predict and even notice that false beliefs can have value, if you have ever gotten help from someone attending your church, you have seen examples of that yourself. It is quite possible for widespread belief in the moral absolutes of religion to have value, whether they are true or not, and their value may be increased to the extent they are believed to be true and absolute.

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    SA:

    Over the past day or so, primarily in response to the Troubles in Ireland, I have pointed out the text actually used for the sermon yesterday, Col 3:5 – 14. This explicitly forbids acting from anger, hate etc.

    I am not sure who you may be seeing as holding up clergy or the like or religious institutions as superior moral examples, but it has been explicitly pointed out that religious institutions or individuals are no more capable of warranting the OUGHT on their own strength, than are courts, parliaments or presidents or royals. Such institutions my well — and certainly have a duty to — teach the right and the good, and to correct the wrong (a duty too often failed) but hey are not the grounding IS that can sustain the weight of OUGHT.

    The atmosphere, however, has been so badly poisoned for so long that it is hard to hear the actual point.

    Namely, we find ourselves indeed bound by OUGHT, as your indignation over hypocrisy illustrates. So, only a world view that has a foundational IS that can ground OUGHT is factually and logically and explanatorily adequate to account for the existence of such creatures.

    That means, for instance, that evolutionary materialism, is off the table, as it is inescapably amoral. Matter, energy, space, time and natural law driven interactions of chance and necessity are insufficient to ground ought.

    The only serious candidate for an IS that can ground OUGHT, is an inherently good Creator God.

    That is not in itself a proof that such a God exists, or that he is the God of any given tradition. It is pointing out the class of worldviews in which we will find a best explanation for a reality that we do experience, the reality of OUGHT.

    One can go on beyond this, though further investigations, but that is an important start, as it moves us beyond might makes ‘right.’

    The ONLY serious class of answers to that challenging issue.

    And in that context, we can then see ourselves as made in his image, and as sharing a fundamental dignity and equality of worth that leads tot he Golden Rule, to love and respect neighbour as self. From which we may then see much of the core patterns of moral principle, and unsurprisingly this core is indeed taught in many philosophical and religious traditions. (Our temptation is to draw a restrictive circle and think that we can exclude the outsider from that basic premise of equality of worth under our common Creator.)

    That is a basis for reformation. But first we must make it clear that ought is to be taken seriously, and to be followed up to where it points.

    Which takes us beyond might makes right.

    GEM of TKI

  75. 75
    kairosfocus says:

    Something seems to have vanished.

    Okay, in brief, you are underscoring the point, not undermining it.

    Perhaps the issue raised by Provine in his 1998 Darwin Day address may help:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    If we are bound up in determined frames, our actions including choices are [presumably sub-consciously] CAUSED, rather than free to follow the logic of ground-consequent or the degree of warrant on epistemic grounds.

    If our acts, including mental ones are so bound, we are right back at Haldane’s dilemma stated in terms of chemical determinism [much like Crick’s electro-chemical reductionism].

    Reductio ad absurdum.

    As Haldane pointed out so long ago now.

    And we therefore need to recognise that for science to be possible, as well as much else, we must be significantly free and responsible. That means that systems that entail that we are not significantly free, are self-refuting.

    All materialist systems of thought fall under this axe.

    GEM of TKI

  76. 76
    GugulethuKid says:

    Scott, many clergy did hang or go to death camps. I can speak for my native Poland that many clergy (priests and nuns) helped others (such as Jewish children and other refugees) and paid for it with their lives. Similar things happened under the atheist Communists where the Church stood for freedom from Soviet oppression.

    It should also be said that the overwhelming majority of the people who saved Jews in Poland were Catholics and usually did it for religious reasons. Why risk your entire family’s life and hide a stranger who needs to eat when food is rationed? The harshest punishments (not even comparable to Western Europe) were in place in Poland for hiding Jews as we were considered inferior people – a slight step above Jews but nowhere near your level. You would be an honorary Aryan if not fully Aryan. Yet Catholic Poland has statistically the largest number of people honoured by Israel for saving or helping Jews. Yet most Jews in Poland in 1939 lived in separate communities and did not intermix or intermarry with Slavic Poles, having remained a separate religious and ethnic group. So it was doubtful that it was done for reasons of simple kinship.

    I think what is also at issue is that people don’t really listen to religious instruction very much in the great scheme of things. If we can’t listen to a priest when he tells us not to become angry at others, lie or have hateful thoughts, I seriously doubt people can be motivated enough to forgo worldly comforts and stand up to a government. And it were secular (non-religious) reasons which drove people to war. Let’s also not forget that the Nazis had a major propaganda machine running: Poland had attacked first. Poland had German territory. German women and children were suffering because of Poles who were now owning German lands and factories in the east. What German Christian or priest would not allow compassion to blind him? Of course they’d want to reclaim that and do so in a limited war.

    The Germans were themselves suffering after WW2 and so it was possible for the Nazi party to become popular. In this setting few people would want to continue the perceived suffering — think of liberation theology — and many priests would side with the Nazis at least as far as the Nazis were reducing unemployment, improving peoples’ lives, rebuilding Germany etc. After all these priests were Germans who witnessed the suffering and indignity of their people (unemployment, starvation, debt, poverty etc). In addition few Germans knew exactly how terrible the German treatment of Jews, Poles and others was. But even so the local German Church did condemn the Nazis.

    As for the Allies, should these countries surrender and let Hitler win?

  77. 77
    GugulethuKid says:

    My Japanese “atheist” friend considered becoming Catholic for a Swiss girl. He also refuses to keep any figures of his favourite anime shows (he’s a lawyer) in his place because they could invite evil spirits. But even so he mentions God in a positive way and has deep respect for the Catholic Church. He noted that Catholic charities were some of the first on the scene handing out supplies and food to the victims of the Tohoku quake. In addition virtually every Japanese person I meet (and these are random people) has some view of God. They’re definitely not typical Western European Anglo-Saxon anti-theists.

  78. 78
    GugulethuKid says:

    africangenesis: “Why would a God construct a grusome mechanism for redemption like that, when a simple snap of his figurative fingers would do?”

    Being a libertarian I’m sure you would not want to be converted involuntarily would you? With Jesus’ sacrifice we see God Himself suffering and dying at our hands. We see a perfect example of love. The relationship between man and God is not one of slave and master, but one of love.

    God with all His power did not intervene to save His Son. That’s an incredibly degrading thing for God to do, and He did it out of love, and He suffered on that cross not for Himself, but for us.

  79. 79
    ScottAndrews says:

    Agreed. My point was less productive and more of a rant. I believe that God sets the definition of what is right, and that anyone would benefit from it.
    The trouble is, all of the evil done by supposed ministers of God makes it harder to see. When they claim to act in God’s name, many interpret their actions as representative of the one whose Bible they wave about. That’s what people remember when they’re buried in philosophical differences over whether God exists or whether he is good. They give detractors something to point to.

    But I’ve gone OT again, I think. You or I might see all this as perfectly logical, but it’s more than that. More logical people than me examine the same evidence and reject it. In the end, it’s a choice. To paraphrase a verse, “According to their desire they remain unaware.” If God wants the issue to be forced, he has more compelling tools at his disposal than logic.

  80. 80
    africangenesis says:

    It is possible to have deterministic machines (e.g. humans, computers) that can follow the logic of ground-consequent. This is different from the true belief issue. It is “free will” in every sense that is meaningful, because the extent to which it isn’t free will, is because of what we have inherited, the environment through which we traveled as influenced by the decisions we have made, the things that have happened to us, the beliefs we have been inculcated with, the beliefs we have chosen, and the beliefs we have chosen to question or confirm. We may not be free to be other than what we are or to go beyond our limitations.

    Many humans are not able to follow the logic of ground-consequent. I know I don’t always, sometimes giving way to impulses and mental blocks, even though I don’t want to (or do I?). I’ve had a side effect from a drug administered in an ER, that made me irrational, agitated and hostile, my wife and I knew it wasn’t “me”, but it gave me an appreciation for how the mentally ill, or chemically imbalanced might not be responsible for their actions.

    So, I agree with your first 4 points, but I doubt there is a sense of free will possible under the laws of physics that is any better than what we’ve got. Training and discipline can increase the extent to which we have it, but we also must be careful not to train away who we are, and who we really want to be, even though the extent to we desire that sense of self may also be determined.

    What we have seems to fit the bill, why would we want to have something else, it might be something we wouldn’t recognize, alien to who we are.

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    Re:

    It is possible to have deterministic machines (e.g. humans, computers) that can follow the logic of ground-consequent. This is different from the true belief issue.

    Humans are different from computers.

    A computer program or machine does nothing of its own initiative, it is no better than its programming and the design and organisation of its circuits. It is precisely not reasoning, it is merely grinding away mechanically. Nor does it really choose, it merely executes programmed branches, utterly unconscious as a mere mechanism.

    Somebody has to build in the procedures and executing machines that, step by step take in inputs, process them and give rise to outputs. And, GIGO, the computer will just as mechanically carry out nonsense until it crashes as it will carry out sense. Computers are not authorities, no more than dictionaries, it is those who stand behind them who are the real sources of what happens.

    We do reason, and we really do choose, and I daresay in the teeth of attempts to redefine choice and freedom, we choose freely, truly freely.

    But, we need to ask, what would have to be the root of that, on evolutionary materialistic premises?

    And there is where the foundations are found wanting.

    There is an IS-OUGHT gap and there is an IS/IF-THEREFORE/THEN gap too.

    The latter is what Haldane highlighted with particular reference to Chemistry, and Provine inadvertently highlighted both.

    If we are determined by chance circumstances and forces of mechanical necessity across time, we are not making a real choice, and if we are not making a real choice we cannot be morally responsible, nor have we any basis to assume, infer or believe that our “reasoning” is anything above delusion.

    That cannot merely be asserted away and dismissed.

    Let me clip a summary of the how-come of the matter, for convenience (it was previously linked — NB, there are several further onward links there):

    _______________

    >> it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin. This can be addressed at a more sophisticated level [[cf. Hasker in The Emergent Self (Cornell University Press, 2001), from p 64 on, e.g. here], but without losing its general force, it can also be drawn out a bit in a fairly simple way:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains.

    d: These forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.

    i: The famous evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt and (v) the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity.

    m: Moreover, as Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin reminds us all in his infamous January 29, 1997 New York Review of Books article, “Billions and billions of demons,” it is now notorious that:

    . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel [[materialistic scientists] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    n: Such a priori assumptions of materialism are patently question-begging, mind-closing and fallacious.

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.) >>
    _______________

    In short there is a problem here that cannot simply be asserted away or breezily brushed aside.

    Cause-effect is not ground-consequent, and the forces that drive the former and their consequences have little or nothing to do with the capacity to carry out the other by choosing to infer from grounds to their consequences in light of warrant. And in particular mechanical necessity and chance are not the ground in which soundness grows.

    That is, evolutionary materialism runs into a barrier of self referential incoherence when it comes to mind and morals.

    This you may choose to rhetorically brush aside, but that has nothing to do with its warrant. To address warrant you will have to cogently address the structure of the argument on evident facts and the way logical inferences work. While you are at it, see if you can account for the origin of the linguistic ability that lies behind that process on evo mat premises as well, especially the problem of bridging to islands of complex, specifically organised function in vast, beyond astronomical, configuration spaces.

    And, the laws of physics are only inferrable by beings who are significantly free to conceptualise, choose to follow steps of evidence and reason, etc. So, those laws do not exhaust reality. (The implicit assumption that they do, is the core assumption of physicalism, aka evolutionary materialism, i.e I am highlighting the question-begging circle of argument you are doing the laps in.)

    You are right to show that some people have a breakdown in rational ability, due to drink or drugs or defects of mind and body including brain, which only shows some necessary causal factors at work — and that too is a major problem, we often do not understand the difference between necessary and sufficient cause [cf remarks here, please do the half-burned match experiment] — think about what happens when something goes wrong with a hard drive or a wireless link.

    Has that suddenly made the computer only what it is as a found object, or has it shown that components put in by its designers are required to be in working order for it to work?

    GEM of TKI

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: We may see here the speech gap in action:

    . . and, for further example, there is no such step by step, empirically and probabilistically credible account for our being physically equipped to speak, while chimps etc. are not. This gap is actually a critical issue, as the ability to use complex, conceptual, abstract language is a key aspect of human intelligence. And, so, by right of fair comment, we may note that:

    So long as [[Neo-]Darwinian macro-evolutionary theory lacks an empirically credible, tested and well-supported explanation of the origin and validity of human intelligence, language and associated reasoning powers, the very need to use these same human faculties to propose, discuss and analyse a theory that should but cannot account for them, turns every presentation of (or argument for) the theory into an unintended but eloquent illustration of the major and un-answered weaknesses of the theory.

  83. 83
    Jet Black says:

    so it’s not atheism that’s the problem, it’s not being Christian that is the problem? Then why does the opening post mention muslims?

  84. 84
    Jet Black says:

    I’m sorry, has someone done a survey of all the imprisoned/caught rioters to check what their religious position is? There seems to be an awful lot of “look at those nasty atheists” when we aren’t even sure that any of those people are atheists.

  85. 85
    tribune7 says:

    with the claim there there is no evidence for a particular God, a claim which should be easily refutable,

    The claim that “there is no evidence” for the God described in the Bible is easily refutable.

    There are ontological proofs, there are historical proofs, there are the life-changing examples of converts, there material successes that flew in the face of conventional wisdom predicated on the assumption of the existence of God. IOW there is plenty of evidence.

    The existence of the universe is evidence of something. What is it evidence of? The omnipotentcy of chance? That’s the only alternative to a belief in a designer who stands outside the laws of nature.

  86. 86
    africangenesis says:

    Computers can monitor and respond to conditions in the environment, they can optimize and choose paths, seek preprogrammed goals, etc.

    Humans are very different, we are good at satisficing goals, but deduction is hard work, and as Barbie would tell you, “math is hard”. But the main difference is the pre-programmed goals. Humans too can monitor and respond to conditions, like a baby crying, unexpected sounds that should be checked out. Humans can sit and do nothing until they feel like doing something. What are the sources of these feelings? There is a lot of subconcious internal monitoring, that will result in feelings of hunger after awhile, or discomfort from being in the same position too long. But other social animals are capable of sophisticated social monitoring, such as positions and changes in the social hierarchy. Other animals can have goals of rising in the social hierarchy, or failing that satisficing other goals through opportunistic matings, or heading out to look for other opportunities. Children like other young mammals engage in play and exploratory behavior. Many humans retain this to adulthood. The motivations and initiative are all there in “lower” animals, but they are just a layer of social intelligence required for animals which obtain resources and reproductive success through social cooperation and organization. Any “leap” is from adaptive strategy based upon monitoring the actions and inferring the intentions of other group members to explicitly transmitting such information, enabling preparation and plans at a greater distance in space and time. The “leap” is from non-verbal implicit communication and some verbal communication of warnings, moods and emotions, to explicit symbolic communication.

    f) Religion is not always a whipping boy of evolution, in the anthropological branch it can be seen as a universal human norm, spandrel or meme. As a meme the surviving religions all have group elements for group discipline, conformance and spreading through evangelism or other means. Marxism and other ideologies have many of the characteristics of religions, “God” apparently isn’t necessary.

    b) the dismissive phrase “random chance” must also cover the spontaneous order and dynamic systems, and optimized order that result from the laws of physics

    j) “the reasonings we attempt and (v) the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity.”

    Discussion) Not quite, this assumes that relevance to purpose, truth and logical validity, when “randomly” stumbled upon wouldn’t have a survival advantage. Happenstance and necessity that are irrelevant will only persist if for some reason they work or are a spandrel of something that does work. A fascination and tendency to play with sound may have resulted in both language and the irrelevancy of music which in the complex social millieu, the irrelevancy may result in reproductive success. A fascination with design that resulted in better tools and structures, may have resulted in the irrelevancy of art,and both new variations may have then been co-opted for social cohesion and religion.

    Rationality is undermined daily in human societies, don’t you remember that it was the football heros and not the nurds that got the deliciously fertile looking cheer leaders? (this is back before they got so skinny). Yes, sometimes techies get their due, we are lucky rationality was of any benefit at all. Or was it “luck”?

  87. 87
    africangenesis says:

    p.s., We apparently love to play with thoughts too. Is it any wonder that we came up with thought systems and thought structures. May the most relevant ones survive. But perhaps even the irrelevant ones should be preserved like art or cultural artifacts in museums and libraries … or on the internet!

  88. 88
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    Re: Computers can monitor and respond to conditions in the environment, they can optimize and choose paths, seek preprogrammed goals, etc.

    In short, I have struck out every point where you fallaciously anthropomorphised those collections of silicon, gold wire, copper wire, fibreglass circuit board, etc that we call computers.

    It is computer designers who build computers as machines that are collections of electronic circuits and associated peripheral machines. It is computer programmers that in various levels from microcode to high level language, instruct that certain sequences of actions are to occur on input of certain signals, and that certain patterns of digits are to be stored in certain devices, which manipulate other devices.

    At no point int eh process is the computer doing anything more than blindly executing chains of causal patterns designed by external designers.

    Have you ever designed and built one from monitor on up, laying out architecture and machine code instructions or even assembly language instructions?

    “Choose” sounds so much more impressive than “check flag register, bit Z, branch to line XXXX if high, continue sequential fetch-decode execute cycles if not.” It is the latter that is actually happening at machine code level.

    By creating a hierarchy of higher level artificial languages, this sort of elementary operation can be chained, branched and looped to carry out required physical operations, that are then useful to designers, programmers and users.

    There are no smarts in a computer that were not put in, and there is no choosing, only branching on condition in a sequence of machine code instructions, each of which is nowadays carried out by microcode; hard wired instruction execution seems to be a dead art.

    GEM of TKI

  89. 89
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    In addition, survival advantage and truthfulness of perceptions or models are utterly distinct.

    For very simple example, if I had to design a transistor amplifier, I would reduce the BJT to an input resistive etc network, and the output side to a controlled current source perhaps shunted by R, L and C elements as appropriate. The bias circuits and load would find power supply shorted to signal ground, and the like. None of this is true to the actual components in the circuit, but that then allows that fictional model to analyse sufficiently well for me to build the amp.

    The same obtains across a lot of science and technology.

    Practical advantage is not at all necessarily or even usually linked to truth.

    So, the question of the credibility of the mind per materialism is very much an unanswered challenge, and it is usually met by brush-aside attempts.

    GEM of TKI

  90. 90
    Philip says:

    So is it to fallaciously anthropomorphize animals to talk of, say, an ant monitoring and responding to the environment, an eagle optimizing its flight, a lion seeking and choosing a mate?

  91. 91
    Philip says:

    kairosfocus

    In addition, survival advantage and truthfulness of perceptions or models are utterly distinct.

    To call them “utterly distinct” from survival advantage seems excessive, when a truthful perception of depth might prevent you from stepping over a cliff edge.

  92. 92
    Philip says:

    The inability of the computer to make human-like choices is a good argument against the idea that life in general, and human life in particular, is the product of intelligent design.

    The only examples of intelligent design that we can see happening right now are designs by humans such as computer engineers.

    So if the outcome of intelligent design by humans cannot produce something that’s able to make choices in the way humans (or even animals) do, then we currently have no grounds to infer that a process of intelligent design is behind life itself.

    This is not necessarily an argument for traditional evolutionary theory. There may be other processes at work. But why call them intelligent design, when we know of know design process that could give rise to our experience of making choices?

  93. 93
    Philip says:

    Last sentence should have read:

    But why call them intelligent design, when we know of no design process that could give rise to our experience of making choices?

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    Philip:

    First, kindly look here on what beavers do, and see what I say about it.

    Second, have you ever designed and built a computer system?

    There is simply no comparison between even an ant or a bee and a computer, much less a beaver.

    In addition, we do have a very good account of what intelligence does, characteristically and recognisably.

    As conscious and intelligent creatures, we know what conscious reasoning is like from the inside, and what real choice is like. Branch on Z-flag = 1 is not that.

    You also need to make acquaintance of Craig Venter’s work. Intelligent design of life forms is not any more simply an inference from the FSCI in it, it is a practical demonstration to the tune of was it a US$ 20 mn lab?

    The inference to design as cause on empirically reliable signs is also not an inference to either the specific process used or the particular designer involved.

    As in, there is more than one way to skin a catfish.

    GEM of TKI

  95. 95
    kairosfocus says:

    Philip:

    That’s desperate.

    Do you see the strawman you erected?

    I have pointed out, with examples, that a successful model is not to be equated to actual reality.

    I don’t know if you have ever taken time to address the serious discussions that have shown that adaptive behaviour that promotes differential reproductive success is not to be equated to veridicality of beliefs or world models. (the latest major discussions on this are in nature of nature, which you may want to look at.)

    That was my point, and the underlying issue is that it has been shown, repeatedly and by many from many directions that the forces that drive an evolutionary materialist model of origin of mind, are simply not connected to veridicality.

    Why don’t you scroll up and actually address the issue point by point on the merits, including were I point out the implications of the claimed delusional nature of religion? [And its extension to several other ideologies.]

    Pummelling strawmen as just did, is a lot easier than dealing with serious issues.

    So, let’s see you grapple with the serious issues.

    GEM of TKI

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    Here is the argument as excerpted, as a 101 version. You may want to follow the link there to Hasker.

  97. 97
    Philip says:

    kairosfocus

    The inference to design as cause on empirically reliable signs is also not an inference to either the specific process used or the particular designer involved.

    For ID to be a scientific theory, you need at least to be able to show how in principle observable intelligent design could lead to the design of life, including the way humans and animals make choices. But in your comparison with computers, you implied strongly that observable human design cannot lead to this.

    First, kindly look here on what beavers do, and see what I say about it.

    I have done so.

    Second, have you ever designed and built a computer system?

    Yes.

    There is simply no comparison between even an ant or a bee and a computer, much less a beaver.

    I agree. There cannot be such a comparison. That is why it is not shown how design could lead to an ant, a bee, or a beaver.

    In addition, we do have a very good account of what intelligence does, characteristically and recognisably.

    Exactly. The account based on observable intelligence does not show that it could produce creatures or artefacts capable of making human-like choices.

    I’m not saying that evolutionary theory fills that gap in scientific knowledge, but I cannot see how intelligent design theory could complete the jigsaw either.

  98. 98
    africangenesis says:

    GEM of TKI,

    “Practical advantage is not at all necessarily or even usually linked to truth.”

    You appear to be disputing on points I’ve already agreed with and even made myself. I hope you are reading my posts.

    The credibility of the mind doesn’t depend on access to the truth, but to what works. Natural selection is a harsh mistress in that regard. I don’t see a difference in the credibility of mind per materialism and per some undefined something else. We can only confirm our models through the prediction and consistency of sensory input. What works is not necessarily what is true.

  99. 99
    kairosfocus says:

    And (pardon directness, it seems I have to be pretty direct to be clear to you), as I noted already, you keep repeating the points I have made, as though their implications have no relevance to the intellectual credibility of evolutionary materialism.

    Let’s cut to the chase scene, and ask you to respond to Haldane’s observation:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. ]

    Do you see what he is getting at and why it matters?

    As in reductio ad absurdum?

    Per, self-referential incoherence and self-refutation?

  100. 100
    kairosfocus says:

    Philip:

    Survival advantage and practical success lie in a completely different conceptual category from truth.

    AS I HAVE POINTED OUT BY SEVERAL MEANS, OVER AND OVER.

    Is that clear enough, yet? (Or are you playing at perceived refutation by passive-aggressive strawman tactic nit-picking that evades the real matter at stake?)

    Let me put it the way professor Harald Neiderriter profoundly did in my first university course in Mathematics, in the opening unit on logic and set theory: ex falso, quod libet.

    From the false, anything follows.

    The significance of an emphasis on truth is that false premises can yield both true and false consequences in logic, but from true premises only true consequences will follow.

    In ducking and dodging the core issue and setting up a strawman to knock it over, you are missing the point. So, let me repeat, practical success is not a decisive criterion of truth.

    Period.

    Now, go back and deal with the core problem of evolutionary materialism as a theory of the roots and competence of mind, as has been laid out at 15.1.1.1 above, at 101 level (with an onward link to more sophisticated discussions): self refutation by reduction to self-referential incoherence.

    GEM of TKI

  101. 101
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: it may help to provide a short definition of truth, based on Ari in Metaphysics, 1011b: that which says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not.

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    Philip:

    I wonder if you are reading accurately:

    For ID to be a scientific theory, you need at least to be able to show how in principle observable intelligent design could lead to the design of life, including the way humans and animals make choices. But in your comparison with computers, you implied strongly that observable human design cannot lead to this.

    1: Venter, as pointed out already, is empirical proof of concept that the design of life can be accounted for on molecular nanotechnology in the hands of intelligent agents.

    2: To compound the question as you did is to dodge the key implication. For, we have good and empirically anchored warrant that cell based life — starting with the single cell the foundation of biology, is designed. (There is literally no observational evidence that anything other than a designer can do this, and there is serious analytical reason to see that mechanical necessity and chance circumstances absent designers, will not credibly do so on the gamut of the observable cosmos.)

    3: Both beavers and us are examples of cell based life, so the implication is that our life forms are designed, especially as the implied functionally specific complex info to get to the body plans is again well beyond the reach of chance and necessity on the gamut of the observed cosmos.

    4: So, we have warrant to infer that designing life forms can be the product of design in turn.

    5: Observe in the previously linked the Smith Model, which shows an architecture of an autonomous cybernetic entity capable of decision and giving effect to decision.

    6: Observe as well the discussion on limited vs unlimited autonomy.

    7: Blend in the context of robotics and artificial intelligence as also discussed, and the question of various possible ways to effect a supervisory controller, with hints at the likely capacities and limitations.

    _______

    It should be plain that it is possible to infer to design of life forms, without addressing designing life forms. So the addition is a rhetorical complexification of a matter to dodge the plain weight of the evidence int eh first instance. In the second instance, some significant points were adduced that address the onward issue of the design of designers.

    Such an objection as you made is either confused or is not serious, save in the rhetorical sense.

    GEM of TKI

  103. 103
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers, cf here for the other thread which discusses the design architecture of self-directing systems. And, kindly note it is possible to infer that an object per reliable signs is designed, even if we do not know how or why or by whom, or even what it does.

  104. 104
    Philip says:

    kindly note it is possible to infer that an object per reliable signs is designed, even if we do not know how or why or by whom, or even what it does.

    Such an inference would be unreliable, when no observed process of design has ever been shown to give rise to phenomena such as the making of free choices, that are supposedly explained by it.

    Be prepared to admit that we have very limited scientific knowledge about the origins of many aspects of our existence.

  105. 105
    kairosfocus says:

    Philip:

    If you ran across a perfectly cuboidal highly polished slab of polycrystalline rock on the moon, with lines of what looked like text on it, you would be well warranted to conclude it was designed and hosted writing on it, even if you hadn’t a clue as to the text, the author or the means by which the stone was created.

    And that example is just one that I have in mind.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: On inferring design on signs, cf here and onward.

  106. 106
    Philip says:

    Your example fits within the category of observed products of intelligent design. But I still do not see how beings that can make free choices fit into this category.

    Thanks for the reference to the article on inferring design. But as you pointed out to me elsewhere, we mustn’t get off-topic or off-subject, so I shall not respond further here.

  107. 107
    africangenesis says:

    What “seems to me” is hardly a rigorous reductio ad absurdum. What seems “immensely unlikely” to Haldane, is not evidence or deductive logic. And it certainly isn’t conclusive, because even if it is unlikely, it doesn’t have to happen often and may have happened only once in the common anscestor of mammals, reptiles and the dinosaur/bird lineages.

    Haldane may merely be ignorant or negligent when he states that if his “mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true” How hard did he look for reasons? Did he go beyond just supposin’? That isn’t a search at all, much less the exhaustive search required to prove a negative.

    Even without a unifying evolutionary theory, he has reason to believe his beliefs are true (well except maybe the one we are discussing). He is descended from functional beings, parents and grandparents, and presumably a long line of them , hypothetically to adam and eve, that had minds that were able to use and produce technology, plot their paths through terrain, develop social strategies for surviving in cooperation and competition, and pass these inate and cultural abilities to their children, including eventually an oral and written wisdom literature sharing what they have learned. We and the other animals have minds that have been harshly screened by competition, happenstance and environmental challenges. We do more than just “work” and “function” we succeed.

    In 1927 Haldane may not have been familiar with the reasons for supposing his “brain to be composed of atoms”, but they existed even then. If today, he would still have no reason to believe his brain was composed of atoms, he would have noone but himself to blame. He would have to both lack curiosity and be illiterate in our society.

    How do we define “truth”? Our brains work, they develope models and maps of reality that work. We can through experience (try that Haldane) confirm and become confident that are models achieve some level of success to the extent that we can see order, repeatabilty and predictability in our sensory in put. How similar are our models to actual reality, to real “truth”? We don’t know. We can tell that through practicing certain difficult mental disciplines, we can develop models like the laws of physics are more consistent across our range of sensory experience than other models.

    It was’t being sound chemically, that made our minds sound logically, in fact our brains aren’t sound logically without discipline. Logic may be a cultural achievement. A model itself of the characteristics of consistency in patterns we detect in our sensory input. Life is an energetically expensive uphill battle. When it came to minds, it may not have needed “truth”, but it did need something that worked and that may be as good as it gets, and it may well sometimes be the truth.

    Haldane’s brain may not have been sound logically, his paragraph doesn’t allow us to conclude that he was capable of more rigor. For most of human life “supposing” may be good enough. Where is the reductio ad absurdem!

  108. 108
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    B+ for rhetoric and flourishes and distractors, now please deal with the actual substantial issue.

    FYI, Haldane was an English man, and such habitually understate their case.

    Now, kindly deal with the issues starting with say the 101 here, as you have already been repeatedly pointed to.

  109. 109
    kairosfocus says:

    Philip:

    Mere drumbeat repetition of a talking point does not suddenly turn it into a substantial objection.

    Kindly address the matter on its merits.

    You have been duly corrected [the signs of design are in that unnatural shape and sustained smoothness of a polycrystalline rock, and in what appears to be a text, of course building on a scenario well known from sci fi as a thought exercise to make a point plain . . . ], so accept it and move on.

    THIS THOUGHT EXPERIMENT IS SUFFICIENT TO SHOW THAT WE NEED NOT KNOW THE THINGS YOU KEEP TOSSING UP AS HURDLES, IN ORDER TO CREDIBLY INFER DESIGN ON RELIABLE, TESTED SIGNS.

    You know full well that if one of the Apollo missions had found such a rock, it would have been instantly recognised as designed, regardless of our not knowing what it was for, who put it there, or when or how it was made. Because it has in it functionally specific complex information only reasonably accounted for on design.

    Now, there is a real world directly comparable case, though we have actually begun to read this text over these past sixty or so years.

    DNA in the living cell.

    And onlookers can see for themselves the a prioris that lead you to reject what should be plain.

    GEM of TKI

  110. 110
    africangenesis says:

    GEM of TKI,

    You clipped an extremely long summary in “101”, which I responded to selectively, there is no reason to assume the rest of 101 was any better. Do you (yourself) have a particular point you think you can rest your hat on?

    I will pick out “j” by name and remind you of its conclusive final language:

    “the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity”

    Gee, I’ve just realized I’ve already discussed this a lot, even paraphrasing it. Looking it over perhaps it is the choice of words that make it seem, well like what, some might find the idea distasteful, or disturbing?

    The “blind forces of chance”, look like a lot more probable cause for your “conclusions”, when you realize that they were operating in the parents and your teachers who may have taught you about logical validity. We are at the current end of a long chain of such life energetically creating order out of random chance.

    This is perhaps more your own voice:

    “If we are determined by chance circumstances and forces of mechanical necessity across time, we are not making a real choice, and if we are not making a real choice we cannot be morally responsible, nor have we any basis to assume, infer or believe that our “reasoning” is anything above delusion.”

    Here you don’t try to rise above Haldane at all with the unrigorous “nor have we any basis to assume”, I’ve already responded to this with a “basis”, the brain has to work argument, natural selection is rather unforgiving of ones that don’t work.

    If knowing you will be held morally responsible, causes you to make different decisions, because you are capable of consider consequences and making different decisions, why would you claim you cannot be morally responsible? Western philosophy is not unfamiliar with the issue of determinism vs free will. Can we hold someone morally responsible for their “uncaused” decisions? What would be the point, since their next decision is likely to be uncaused too, why would we assume it was related or presaged by the earlier one at all? But the issue has been well worked in the philosophical literature. The causal chain that runs through us and results in us making the decisions, we apparently would want to make anyway, if we were who we are. If “free will” is something different, then perhaps it is just a widely held illusion. Remember, these things don’t have to be relevant to the truth to “work” and have survival value. Perhaps there was some value to feeling guilty and not destroying society every time it presumed to hold you responsible, when you knew that you were just a bunch of impulses beyond your control, determined by God long ago. There are people who believe God already knows what they are going to do. The spiritual realm may not be that friendly to free will either.

  111. 111
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    Your attempted refutation above inadvertently underscores your failure to address the logic of the analysis, or the evidence behind it. You picked one statement out of context and tried to dismiss it then whistled by the overall summary step by step case.

    And as for “long,” you will note that I have highlighted a classic short summary by Haldane, that has never been soundly answered. Caricatured and evaded, yes, soundly and cogently answered on the merits in light of the underlying issues, no.

    Should I refer you instead to Hasker as already linked, or to Plantinga in say this 58 pp. argument, or to Reppert’s argument from reason book-length presentation [responses to critiques here] or many others?

    At first level the above links should be warrant enough to see that this is not something to be lightly brushed aside on strawmanistic scooping out of context.

    Let me do a point by point on a clip from your attempted rebuttal just above:
    _________

    >> I will pick out “j” by name and remind you of its conclusive final language:

    “the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity”

    Gee, I’ve just realized I’ve already discussed this a lot, even paraphrasing it. Looking it over perhaps it is the choice of words that make it seem,

    1 –> Not choice of words, but logical import of self referential incoherence, as in if mind is a wholly shaped product of the blind forces, this undermines the credibility of thought, and examples were given that more than amplify just how this happens in several real-world cases.

    well like what, some might find the idea distasteful, or disturbing?

    2 –> Dodges the actual historically and currently relevant cases given by way of illustrating the self referential incoherence. Let me clip again:

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.

    3 –> Notice the way that these examples PRECEDE the summary remark, and give it specific force.

    The “blind forces of chance”, look like a lot more probable cause for your “conclusions”, when you realize that they were operating in the parents and your teachers who may have taught you about logical validity.

    4 –> begging he question at stake and ignoring the specific examples under examination.

    We are at the current end of a long chain of such life energetically creating order out of random chance.

    5 –> begs the question by assertion.

    This is perhaps more your own voice:

    “If we are determined by chance circumstances and forces of mechanical necessity across time, we are not making a real choice, and if we are not making a real choice we cannot be morally responsible, nor have we any basis to assume, infer or believe that our “reasoning” is anything above delusion.”

    Here you don’t try to rise above Haldane at all with the unrigorous “nor have we any basis to assume”,

    6 –> Again studiously avoids dealing with the actual on the ground examples that bring the force of the point home.

    I’ve already responded to this with a “basis”, the brain has to work argument, natural selection is rather unforgiving of ones that don’t work.

    7 –> Nope, you failed to cogently address the categorical difference between that which pragmatically works and that which is true; again ignoring serious real world examples that give the summary point force.

    If knowing you will be held morally responsible, causes you to make different decisions,

    8 –> This is now on the IS-OUGHT gap, where the issue is to account for why OUGHT is real. but instead of addressing the actual question the strawman substitute is put forth: you are likely to be punished if you do X so you will avoid X. That does nothing to address the IS-OUGHT gap, save to illustrate the point that evo mat thought ends up in one form or another of the horrifying nihilistic principle might makes right.

    9 –> or putting that the other way around (as the original post does on the riots in the UK) the real question then is if one is in a situation where one likely can get away with doing something. If that calculation says yes then do what you want. Ask the 100 million ghosts of regimes that lived by that in the past 100 years where that goes wrong.

    because you are capable of consider consequences and making different decisions, why would you claim you cannot be morally responsible?

    10 –> Cf just above. You have admitted the problem and managed to try to present it in suitably repackaged form as the solution. Oops.

    Western philosophy is not unfamiliar with the issue of determinism vs free will.

    11 –> And the upshot of 2500 years is this: if one is not significantly free one cannot choose what tho think or what to do in any responsible or credible fashion. If choice is a delusion as Provine et al imply, then that means love is a delusion, and virtue is a delusion. Similarly, if one is not free to think for oneself but is the plaything of unconscious forces that are driven by dynamics that are irrelevant to truth or validity etc, then one is trapped in delusions.

    Can we hold someone morally responsible for their “uncaused” decisions? What would be the point, since their next decision is likely to be uncaused too, why would we assume it was related or presaged by the earlier one at all?

    12 –> Have you bothered to read say Plato in The Laws Bk X 2350 years ago, on self-moved agency as ensouled life?

    13 –> Much less, tried to understand the nature of responsible thought and choice as a free agent, indeed subject to external influences but not determined by them?

    14 –> If you have, why did you resort to a crude caricature, apart form having an argument so weak that it can only succeed rhetorically by knocking over a strawman? If not, are you not simply regurgitating fundamentally fallacious talking points without having addressed the issue on the merits?

    But the issue has been well worked in the philosophical literature. The causal chain that runs through us and results in us making the decisions, we apparently would want to make anyway, if we were who we are.

    15 –> Another restatement of the problem presented as a pretended solution. If we are the playthings of the blind forces as summarised above, we are in a position where mind and conscience are fatally undermined, leading to radical relativism on knowledge and radical amorality, onward promoting chaos in the community. Plato spotted this 2350 years ago, and you or the serious onlooker would profit by reading what he had to say, as a first point of departure.

    If “free will” is something different, then perhaps it is just a widely held illusion. Remember, these things don’t have to be relevant to the truth to “work” and have survival value.

    16 –> restating the problem as though this were the solution, yet again. Work out he implications, as I laid out above please.

    17 –> BTW, this means that you actually accept the logic of my case, which you tried to dismiss.

    Perhaps there was some value to feeling guilty and not destroying society every time it presumed to hold you responsible, when you knew that you were just a bunch of impulses beyond your control, determined by God long ago.

    18 –> An attempted turnabout, to project the same problem unto theism. Only problem, the theists have long since answered the issue along the general lines Plato laid out: take the evident case of the self-moved initiating ensouled cause seriously, including the hebraic insight that the ability to choose to love is the foundation of all virtue. let’s clip Plato in the relvant discussion, to see where this must begin [as in doing the 101 homework of basic review of positions before coming to one’s own view in light of a balanced analysis . . . ], to reach a sensible conclusion:

    Ath[enian Stranger]. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle[nias, Megilus being silent]. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.]

    There are people who believe God already knows what they are going to do.

    19 –> And for God, who is present everywhere and every-when, to know the future is not at all to be equated with his so determining it that there is no real power of choice. This is a basic theological and philosophical confusion of categories. To know or to predict a given state of affairs is not to cause it.

    The spiritual realm may not be that friendly to free will either.

    20 –> yet another attempted turnabout driven by failure to understand the basic issues and cases in the situation.
    >>
    ________

    Thus, we see how the attempted rebuttals fall apart on closer examination.

    GEM of TKI

  112. 112
    tgpeeler says:

    “the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity”

    If conclusions are the result of thought, and it must be so as the entire process is thinking, then the materialist account is necessarily false.

    All human thought requires the free and purposeful manipulation of symbols according to the rules of logic and a “local” (i.e. the one being used) language. The problems for the materialists encompassed in the last sentence are many.

    First of all, the rules of logic do not reduce, are not explained by, the laws of physics. Modus tollens, for example, is inexplicable by means of the standard model, the equations of quantum or classical physics, the laws of thermodynamics, etc…

    Just as the laws of reason cannot be explained by reference to physical laws, neither can the existence of languages be so explained. All languages are comprised of symbols and rules. The symbols are freely and purposefully arranged into words, which mean something (represent reality or a truth claim or whatever – see Law of Identity) and can be arranged, according to the rules of grammar and syntax of the language, to develop and/or communicate a thought. Physics has nothing to say about why “the dog” makes reference to Rover and “Der Hund” can also refer to Rover. These particular arrangements of symbols MEAN something because people agree that they do. In this example, in English and German.

    The problems of “free will” and “intentionality,” neither of which exist in the materialist ontology, are never more apparent that when it comes to thought. If my thoughts – “without residue – must be controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity” then how is it that I can type “this” rather than “that”? What law of physics explains how I am freely and purposefully choosing from among various possible combinations of letters and other symbols on my keyboard to communicate the message I am trying to communicate? Well, none, of course. What could be more obvious? Every thought requires freedom and intentionality which are inexplicable by reference to physical laws operating on neuro-transmitters in my brain. Were my thoughts governed by the laws of physics then I could have no thoughts. I could only “think” in terms of aaaaaaaaa (classical law based algorithm) or 48fjm57dm$o^ (quantum physics based algorithm) but clearly neither of those strings of symbols means a thing because there is no LANGUAGE that allows for the encoding of a message. So even if 48fjm57dm$o^ could mean anything, it would be necessary for a set of rules (known by sender and receiver) for any communication to take place. Said rules being beyond explanation in terms of physical laws.

    The huge irony here is that whenever a materialist (or naturalist or physicalist – take your pick) denies free will, or purpose they are using both free will and purpose to encode the message and deliver it. Talk about internal contradictions. It’s as if I say that I do not exist. A moment of reflection will reveal that I must be here in order to deny that I am here. In the same way, purpose and free will must be used in order to deny purpose and free will.

    The entire materialist project is fundamentally and irretrievably irrational and hopelessly incapable of explaining anything that matters to human beings. Why it persists is a mystery for the ages.

  113. 113
    tgpeeler says:

    Philip at 25.1.1 said: “But I still do not see how beings that can make free choices fit into this category.”

    Maybe the post above (27) will help.

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