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Atheism’s problem of warrant (–> being, Logic and First Principles, No. 23)

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Atheism seems to be on the table these days here at UD and a few points need clarification.

First up, what is Atheism?

The usual dictionaries are consistent:

atheism
n. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
[French athéisme, from athée, atheist, from Greek atheos, godless : a-, without; see a-1 + theos, god; see dh?s- in Indo-European roots.]

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

atheism
n (Philosophy) rejection of belief in God or gods
[C16: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos godless, from a-1 + theos god]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

a•the•ism
n. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
[1580–90]
Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

atheism
the absolute denial of the existence of God or any other gods.
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

However, from at least the 1880’s, there has been a claim by some advocates of the same, that what is meant is someone without faith in God.

(This tends to serve the rhetorical purpose of claiming that nothing is asserted and it can be taken as default, demanding that theists provide “compelling” warrant for faith in God. Where, often, this then leads to selectively hyperskeptical dismissals, sometimes to the degree of claiming that “there is no evidence” that supports the existence of God. [Of course, the no evidence gambit should usually be taken as implying ” there is no evidence [that I am willing to acknowledge].” Through that loophole, as fair comment, a lot of clearly question-beggingly closed minded hyperskepticism can be driven.)

There are many varieties of atheists, including idealistic ones that reject the reality of matter. However at this juncture in our civilisation, the relevant form is evolutionary materialistic, often associated with the scientism that holds that big-S Science effectively monopolises credible knowledge. (Never mind that such a view is an epistemological [thus philosophical and self-refuting] view. Evolutionary materialism is also self-refuting by way of undermining the credibility of mind.)

A key take-home point is that atheism is not an isolated view or belief, it is part of a wider worldview, where every worldview needs to be responsible before the bar of comparative difficulties: factual adequacy, coherence, balanced explanatory power. Likewise, given the tendency of modern atheism to dress up in a lab coat, we must also reckon with fellow travellers who do not explicitly avow atheism but clearly enable it.

So, already, we can see that atheism is best understood as disbelief — NB, Dicts: “refusal or reluctance to believe”/ “the inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true” — in the existence of God, claimed or implied to be a well warranted view; not merely having doubts about God’s existence or thinking one does not know enough to hold a strong opinion. It inevitably exists as a part of a broader philosophical scheme, a worldview, and will imply therefore a cultural agenda.

(I add: Note by contrast, AmHD on agnosticism: “The belief that the existence or nonexistence of a deity or deities cannot be known with certainty. “ Where, of course, certainty comes in various degrees, starting with moral certainty, and where knowledge, as commonly used often speaks to credibly warranted beliefs taken as true but not typically held as utterly certain beyond any possibility of error or incompleteness. We not only know that 2 + 3 = 5, but we claim knowledge of less than utterly certain facts and theories. For instance, in the mid 2000’s, the previous understanding and “fact” that Pluto was the 9th Planet of our solar system was revised through redefining Pluto as a dwarf planet.)

It will be further helpful (given objections that suggest inapt, distorted caricature) to excerpt from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, as appears at comment 11:

“Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

This definition has the added virtue of making atheism a direct answer to one of the most important metaphysical questions in philosophy of religion, namely, “Is there a God?” There are only two possible direct answers to this question: “yes”, which is theism, and “no”, which is atheism. Answers like “I don’t know”, “no one knows”, “I don’t care”, “an affirmative answer has never been established”, or “the question is meaningless” are not direct answers to this question.

While identifying atheism with the metaphysical claim that there is no God (or that there are no gods) is particularly useful for doing philosophy, it is important to recognize that the term “atheism” is polysemous—i.e., it has more than one related meaning—even within philosophy. For example, many writers at least implicitly identify atheism with a positive metaphysical theory like naturalism or even materialism. Given this sense of the word, the meaning of “atheism” is not straightforwardly derived from the meaning of “theism”. . . . .

[A] few philosophers and quite a few non-philosophers claim that “atheism” shouldn’t be defined as a proposition at all, even if theism is a proposition. Instead, “atheism” should be defined as a psychological state: the state of not believing in the existence of God (or gods). This view was famously proposed by the philosopher Antony Flew and arguably played a role in his (1972) defense of an alleged presumption of “atheism”. The editors of the Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Bullivant & Ruse 2013) also favor this definition and one of them, Stephen Bullivant (2013), defends it on grounds of scholarly utility. His argument is that this definition can best serve as an umbrella term for a wide variety of positions that have been identified with atheism. Scholars can then use adjectives like “strong” and “weak” to develop a taxonomy that differentiates various specific atheisms. Unfortunately, this argument overlooks the fact that, if atheism is defined as a psychological state, then no proposition can count as a form of atheism because a proposition is not a psychological state. This undermines his argument in defense of Flew’s definition; for it implies that what he calls “strong atheism”—the proposition (or belief in the sense of “something believed”) that there is no God—is not really a variety of atheism at all. In short, his proposed “umbrella” term leaves strong atheism out in the rain. [–> which makes little sense]

Although Flew’s definition of “atheism” [thus] fails as an umbrella term, it is certainly a legitimate definition in the sense that it reports how a significant number of people use the term. Again, there is more than one “correct” definition of “atheism”. The issue for philosophy is which definition is the most useful for scholarly or, more narrowly, philosophical purposes.

We can go further.

For, we all have intellectual duties of care in general and as regards worldviews and linked cultural agendas. There are particular, inescapable associated duties to truth, right reason, prudence (including warrant), sound conscience, fairness, justice, etc. To see why such are inescapable, consider the consequences of a widespread rejection of such duties: ruinous chaos that would undermine rationality itself. Reason is morally governed.

Also, given that post Godel, not even sufficiently complex mathematical systems are subject to proof beyond doubt, that one cannot provide absolute demonstration is not at all the same as that one does not have adequate warrant to hold responsible certainty about key points of knowledge. In this context, the issue is reasonable, responsible faith in a credible worldview. Where, the claim one has “absence of belief in” God is often patently evasive. Why such a strange lack?

Could it be that one knows enough to realise that trying to disprove the reality of God is an almost impossible task, once there is no demonstrable incoherence in the theistic concept of God? (Where, we note, that the old attempt to use the problem of evil to lead to such a contradiction has failed; a failure that is particularly evident, post-Plantinga.)

Now, such is significant, especially given point 7 from the recently cited six-country study on atheists:

7. Also perhaps challenging common suppositions: with
only a few exceptions, atheists and agnostics endorse
the realities of objective moral values, human dignity and
attendant rights, and the ‘deep value’ of nature, at similar
rates to the general populations in their countries. (3.1)

A key to this, is the already mentioned point that our mental lives are inescapably under moral government, through undeniably known duties to “truth, right reason, prudence (including warrant), sound conscience, fairness, justice, etc.” The attempt to deny such rapidly undercuts rational discussion and the credibility of thought and communication, much as is implicit in what would happen were lying to be the norm. So, one who rejects the objectivity of such duties discredits himself.

However, it is also possible to hold an inconsistency; accepting objective morality but placing it in a framework that undermines it.

A start-point is to see that our rationality is morally governed through said duties. This means, our life of reason operates on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap, requiring that it be bridged. That can only be done in the root of reality, on pain of ungrounded ought. And no, indoctrination, socialisation and even conscience do not ground ought. We need that the root of reality is inherently and essentially good and wise, a serious bill to fill.

You may dispute this (so, as a phil exercise, provide an alternative _____ and justify it _____ ), but it is easy to show that after many centuries of debates there is just one serious candidate: the inherently good, utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. One, worthy of loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature. This is the heart of ethical theism.

There is another angle. How much of reality do we know, how much of what is knowable do we actually hold, and how much of that is certain beyond future correction? The ratio is obviously trending infinitesimal; even dismissing Boltzmann brain scenarios, Matrix worlds and Plato’s cave worlds etc.

So, what if what is required to know God is, is beyond what one happens to know, or what one is willing to acknowledge?

In short, the positive affirmation that there is no God is arguably an act of intellectual irresponsibility, given our inability to show that being God is incoherent and our effectively infinitesimal grasp of what is knowable.

Let me add a table, as a reminder on logic of being:

Indeed, as it is easy to see that reality has a necessary being root (something of independent existence that therefore has neither beginning nor end), given that traversal of the transfinite in finite temporal-causal steps is a supertask and given that were there ever utter non-being, as such has no causal powers that would forever obtain, if a world now is, something thus always was. Thus, too, the question is: what that necessary being is, and that is further shaped by our being under moral government starting with our rationality.

Where also, a serious candidate to be a necessary being either is, or is impossible of being as a square circle is impossible of being. Where, a necessary being is a world-framework entity: a component of what is necessary for there to be any world. God as historically understood through theism is clearly such a serious candidate (if you doubt, kindly justify: ____ ), and so the one who poses as knowing that God is not implies having warrant to hold God impossible of being. Where, given the centrality of root of reality, ducking the question is clearly irresponsible.

In short, asserting or implying atheism requires a serious — and unmet — burden of warrant. END

477 Replies to “Atheism’s problem of warrant (–> being, Logic and First Principles, No. 23)

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Atheism’s problem of warrant

  2. 2
    daveS says:

    Conservapaedia’s description of “weak atheism” seems about right:

    Weak atheism (sometimes referred to as “negative atheism”) describes a belief system and philosophical stance whereby a person lacks a belief in God/gods. It differs from strong atheism, which goes further than a simple lack of belief and makes an assertion that no gods exist. It also differs from agnosticism, in that a weak atheist says they do not believe in any gods, while agnostics do not know whether or not any gods exist.

    As the article states, the location of the boundary between weak atheism and agnosticism is debated.

  3. 3
    Brother Brian says:

    It seems to me that a Christian’s definition of an atheist carries as much weight as an atheist’s definition of a Christian.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,
    I have pointed to the standard and general understanding. I have also pointed to the no belief in God claim and why it is and has always been seriously problematic: ducking (to rhetorical advantage) a serious worldview responsibility and unjustifiably shifting a burden of warrant.

    BB,

    You would be well advised to attend to the identified responsibilities of worldview warrant. Your strawman caricature of standard dictionary understandings, the better to personalise and polarise, is duly noted.

    KF

    PS: I took time to find Conservapedia on Atheism, and see there:

    Atheism and why do atheists state they disbelieve?

    See also: Weak atheism and Strong atheism

    Atheists claim there are two main reasons for their denial of the existence of God and/or disbelief in God: the conviction that there is positive evidence or argument that God does not exist (strong atheism, which is also sometimes called positive atheism), and their claim that theists bear the burden of proof to show that God exists, that they have failed to do so, and that belief is therefore unwarranted (weak atheism).

    As alluded to above, theists and others have posited a number of causes of atheism and this matter will be further addressed in this article.
    Attempts to broaden the definition of atheism

    In 1876, Charles Bradlaugh proposed that atheism does not assert “there is no God,” and by doing so he endeavored to dilute the traditional definition of atheism.[5][8] As noted above, in the latter portion of the 20th century, the proposition that the definition of atheism be defined as a mere lack of belief in God or gods began to be commonly advanced by agnostics/atheists.[5][9] It is now common for atheists/agnostics and theists to debate the meaning of the word atheism.[5][10]

    Critics of a broader definition of atheism to be a mere lack of belief often point out that such a definition is contrary to the traditional/historical meaning of the word and that such a definition makes atheism indistinguishable from agnosticism.[4][5][11]

    PPS: I took time to follow its link:

    Weak atheism (sometimes referred to as “negative atheism”) describes a belief system and philosophical stance whereby a person lacks a belief in God/gods. It differs from strong atheism, which goes further than a simple lack of belief and makes an assertion that no gods exist. It also differs from agnosticism, in that a weak atheist says they do not believe in any gods, while agnostics do not know whether or not any gods exist.

    Atheism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and other philosophy reference works, is the denial of the existence of God.[2][3][4][5] A common criticism of the concept and term “weak atheism” is that it is not a form of atheism and it is indistinguishable from agnosticism (see: Definition of atheism and Attempts to dilute the definition of atheism).

    Weak atheism is based on the belief that the theist, not the atheist, bears the burden of proof to show that any God or gods exist, because it is the theist who is asserting the existence of an entity. Weak atheists typically compare belief in God/gods with belief in other equally indemonstrable beings like “flying spaghetti monsters,”[6] or “invisible pink unicorns,”[7] and argue that, “The person attempting to prove that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists has the burden of proof. In the absence of sufficient proof to warrant belief, I am justified in disbelieving in all these beings.”

    That sort of contrast reflects precisely the want of addressing logic of being and the difference between a contingent and a necessary being brought up in the OP. In short, worldview warrant responsibilities are not being adequately addressed i/l/o the aspect of necessary being that such will be framework for a world to exist and the strong implication of the ethical theistic view that God is at minimum a serious candidate necessary being. Precisely what the suggested comparatives — all of them composite contingent entities — are not. Not believing in the existence of a serious candidate necessary being implies either that one can show it impossible of being [like a square circle] or else mischaracterised, i.e. contingent [like a fire]. Such cannot be got on the cheap.

  5. 5
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Well, what can I say? I strongly doubt that any gods exist, but I can’t be completely certain. I do think it’s an interesting question, but it’s very unlikely I’m going to convert. I don’t care too much about labels, so you can call me what you please.

  6. 6
    Latemarch says:

    DaveS

    so you can call me what you please.

    We’ll just call you late to dinner. “;^)

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I took time to look at and clip from two articles as you suggested. My results and remarks are added as PS and PPS. It is clear to me that there is a logic of being [ontological] issue that needs to be cogently addressed before one can say of a serious candidate necessary being, that one doubts [or dismisses] its reality. The comparison to unicorns and spaghetti monsters — contingent entities — immediately red flags that issue. KF

  8. 8
    daveS says:

    Latemarch,

    Heh.

    KF,

    I don’t endorse the sections on FSM etc. Definitely not the IQ graph from ‘Vox Day’. 😛

    I’ve also wrestled sufficiently with contingent and necessary beings, I believe.

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I just added a table on modes of being/ non-being. I don’t have a clue what your reference to “the IQ graph” is about, though I know who Mr Day is, author of The Irrational Atheist but also fairly controversial. I do know that many popular objectors to theism and dismissers of modal ontological arguments try to make comparisons to spaghetti monsters and the like. They make the same logic of being error that I am seeing in the claims of weak atheism. As I pointed out in the OP, there is a logic of being, worldview warrant issue to be cogently addressed. One that as a rule is not going to be so addressed by someone trying to assert that he makes no positive assertion and can sit on “no evidence” claims all day to brush aside what theists have to say. The fact is, there is a necessary being world root bill to fill, simultaneous with a world root level bridging of the IS-OUGHT gap, antecedent to there being a credible faculty of rational responsible argument and reasoning. KF

    PS: Your case that God is impossible of being is ____ or else that he is contingent is _______ . Theists holding that God is the independent, supreme, inherently good, utterly wise, eternal being who creates and sustains this and all other worlds are wrong in this conception (which implies necessary, maximally great being and adequate ground of morality) because _____ .

  10. 10
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Oops, forgot the link. Here’s the section with Beale’s IQ graph. (Not that it is of interest to either of us).

    I don’t think I have failed to put forth enough effort studying these issues. Again, if you don’t think my position is atheism, you can call me something else. Perhaps a very doubtful agnostic.

    Edit: Obviously I’m not attempting to make the case that it is impossible for God to exist.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I further clip from SEP on atheism:

    1. Definitions of “Atheism”

    “Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

    This definition has the added virtue of making atheism a direct answer to one of the most important metaphysical questions in philosophy of religion, namely, “Is there a God?” There are only two possible direct answers to this question: “yes”, which is theism, and “no”, which is atheism. Answers like “I don’t know”, “no one knows”, “I don’t care”, “an affirmative answer has never been established”, or “the question is meaningless” are not direct answers to this question.

    While identifying atheism with the metaphysical claim that there is no God (or that there are no gods) is particularly useful for doing philosophy, it is important to recognize that the term “atheism” is polysemous—i.e., it has more than one related meaning—even within philosophy. For example, many writers at least implicitly identify atheism with a positive metaphysical theory like naturalism or even materialism. Given this sense of the word, the meaning of “atheism” is not straightforwardly derived from the meaning of “theism”. While this might seem etymologically bizarre, perhaps a case can be made for the claim that something like (metaphysical) naturalism was originally labeled “atheism” only because of the cultural dominance of non-naturalist forms of theism, not because the view being labeled was nothing more than the denial of theism. On this view, there would have been atheists even if no theists ever existed—they just wouldn’t have been called “atheists”. (Baggini [2003] suggests this line of thought, though his “official” definition is the standard metaphysical one.) Although this definition of “atheism” is a legitimate one, it is often accompanied by fallacious inferences from the (alleged) falsity or probable falsity of atheism (= naturalism) to the truth or probable truth of theism.

    Departing even more radically from the norm in philosophy, a few philosophers and quite a few non-philosophers claim that “atheism” shouldn’t be defined as a proposition at all, even if theism is a proposition. Instead, “atheism” should be defined as a psychological state: the state of not believing in the existence of God (or gods). This view was famously proposed by the philosopher Antony Flew and arguably played a role in his (1972) defense of an alleged presumption of “atheism”. The editors of the Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Bullivant & Ruse 2013) also favor this definition and one of them, Stephen Bullivant (2013), defends it on grounds of scholarly utility. His argument is that this definition can best serve as an umbrella term for a wide variety of positions that have been identified with atheism. Scholars can then use adjectives like “strong” and “weak” to develop a taxonomy that differentiates various specific atheisms. Unfortunately, this argument overlooks the fact that, if atheism is defined as a psychological state, then no proposition can count as a form of atheism because a proposition is not a psychological state. This undermines his argument in defense of Flew’s definition; for it implies that what he calls “strong atheism”—the proposition (or belief in the sense of “something believed”) that there is no God—is not really a variety of atheism at all. In short, his proposed “umbrella” term leaves strong atheism out in the rain.

    Although Flew’s definition of “atheism” fails as an umbrella term, it is certainly a legitimate definition in the sense that it reports how a significant number of people use the term. Again, there is more than one “correct” definition of “atheism”. The issue for philosophy is which definition is the most useful for scholarly or, more narrowly, philosophical purposes. In other contexts, of course, the issue of how to define “atheism” or “atheist” may look very different. For example, in some contexts the crucial issue may be which definition of “atheist” (as opposed to “atheism”) is the most useful politically, especially in light of the bigotry that those who identify as atheists face. The fact that there is strength in numbers may recommend a very inclusive definition of “atheist” that brings anyone who is not a theist into the fold. Having said that, one would think that it would further no good cause, political or otherwise, to attack fellow non-theists who do not identify as atheists simply because they choose to use the term “atheist” in some other, equally legitimate sense.

    If atheism is usually and best understood in philosophy as the metaphysical claim that God does not exist, then what, one might wonder, should philosophers do with the popular term, “New Atheism”? Philosophers write articles on and have devoted journal issues (French & Wettstein 2013) to the New Atheism, but there is nothing close to a consensus on how that term should be defined. Fortunately, there is no real need for one, because the term “New Atheism” does not pick out some distinctive philosophical position or phenomenon. Instead, it is a popular label for a movement prominently represented by four authors—Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens—whose work is uniformly critical of religion, but beyond that appears to be unified only by timing and popularity.

    This underscores several points in the OP (pace BB) and points to the onward significance of the logic of being issue being underscored.

    Namely, denial of the reality of or — on the part of a reasonably intelligent and informed person — holding oneself to be without belief in a serious candidate necessary being’s existence is in a very different epistemological category from disbelieving that in this world some contingent entity X exists. For instance I believe that no unicorns exist today but due to demand for exotic pets and the reality of genetic engineering one will within 100 years.

    When one holds oneself to be warranted as without belief in a serious candidate necessary being, say, S, then it seems to me that one has a worldview level burden to show impossibility of S or else that S is at most contingent. I take it that those professing to be without belief in the number 2 will not be seen as sitting on no affirmation and needing to provide no warrant for such an absence of belief, while demanding arbitrarily high warrant for those so benighted as to imagine that 2 is real.

    I trust the magnitude of the issue is clearer.

    KF

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, are you trying to make the case that God is not a serious candidate necessary being — here, that he would be contingent (thus depending on external enabling causal factors*)? KF

    * A contingent being, C will exist in a possible world W, but not a near neighbour one W’ = {W -f}, f now being manifest as an external enabling causal factor for C such that once ~f then ~C. Such a concept works for stars, trees, fires and people but would be utterly alien to any serious ethical theistic view of God.

  13. 13
    daveS says:

    KF@12:

    No. I’m just saying I doubt that God (or gods) exist.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, doubt is a psychological state, not a proposition. It is an epistemological claim to personal lack of confident warrant, or possibly to factors that impair confidence in accessible warrant. Some such factors — pardon, this is an analysis not an attempt to psychoanalyse — can attach to simple lack of awareness or to states induced through countervailing issues or even to personal circumstances. I would suggest that the logic of being issues are pivotal to resolving such. In my view, recognising that the ethical theistic view pivots on God being a necessary and maximally great being is a key to clarifying what is at stake. Perhaps God is impossible of being, or maybe he is possible but contingent . . . with implication that ethical theism is radically wrong in its conception of God as we just saw. But I doubt the notion that the God of ethical theism is contingent will fly, one would have to show strong reason to conclude God must be subject to some external causal factor. Arguing that God is impossible of being has gone out of fashion since Plantinga. So, it looks like there is serious reason to hold God a serious candidate necessary being and to be possible, so arguably actual. KF

  15. 15
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I use the term “doubt” in the sense of “to consider unlikely”, not in the sense of “lacking confident warrant”.

    I guess I don’t have much more to add. I believe we’ve discussed the modal ontological argument before, and at this point I’m not keen to revisit it. This is an interesting topic, however, so I’m sure others will have more to say.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, pardon but I think i/l/o the above it necessary to further explore the issue. Where, to consider unlikely is to hold the belief that (subject to your inevitably bounded rationality) you either have access to significant but not decisive warrant against or else that you have lack of access to adequate warrant in favour plus further reason to doubt that such exists beyond your purview. Either is a strong claim and they would fit the rubric above. In addition, you suggest dismissal of modal ontological arguments. However, the above concerns pivot on something prior to such: what is God, considered as a candidate being. Clearly, widely taken as a serious candidate necessary being. Such are either impossible of being (like square circles) or else actual. Where, it is seriously arguable that we need and have a necessary being root of reality, the issue being of what character in a world containing morally governed creatures — us. It is doubtful that God is impossible of being and it is doubtful that he is contingent. Arguably, he is possible of being and necessary, so actual. Those who deny or seriously doubt this have a fairly serious implicit burden of warrant. KF

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: An illustrative typical exchange drawing out key issues from the OP and discussion above is here: https://apologetics315.com/2013/10/richard-dawkins-and-the-absence-of-belief/ Particularly note how evident ignorance of logic of being (and linked roots of reality) considerations leads to needless errors and dismissiveness on the part of atheism advocates. KF

  18. 18
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I’m not dismissing modal arguments, I just don’t want to go over that again.

    Essentially, I have been here a few decades without encountering this omnipresent being which my Christian friends say exists and with which they have a deep relationship. It’s puzzling, but I have concluded this being (probably) does not exist. How many null results are required before this conclusion is warranted?

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, there are literally millions who report life transforming encounters with God, including great, positive figures in world history. That you or I may not for the moment be among that circle does not constitute an adequate reason to dismiss their reports. And BTW, I am one, I would not be here otherwise. KF

  20. 20
    hazel says:

    A couple of verses from Paul Simon’s “Ace in the Hole”, one apropos and one I just like a lot.

    Some people say Jesus, that’s the ace in the hole
    But I never met the man so I don’t really know
    Maybe some Christmas, if I’m sick and alone
    He will look up my number
    Call me on the phone, and say
    “Hey, boy, where you been so long?
    Don’t you know me?
    I’m your ace in the hole”

    Once I was crazy and my ace in the hole
    Was that I knew that I was crazy
    So I never lost my self-control
    I just walk in the middle of the road and
    I sleep in the middle of the bed
    I stop in the middle of a sentence
    And the voice in the middle of my head said
    Hey, Junior, where you been so long
    Don’t you know me
    I’m your ace in the hole (oh yeah)

  21. 21
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Yes, and I have heard such reports myself. Some from mainstream Christians, but also some from JWs, Mormons, Scientologists, and Hare Krishnas.

  22. 22
    Seversky says:

    Kairosfocus @ 19

    DS, there are literally millions who report life transforming encounters with God, including great, positive figures in world history. That you or I may not for the moment be among that circle does not constitute an adequate reason to dismiss their reports

    There are many who report transformative experiences through faiths or beliefs other than Christianity or through experiences which could be hallucinations such as those induced by psychedelic drugs, I am prepared to accept these reports as genuine but why should I accept your explanation – based in your own faith – as the right one when there may be others equally convinced of the truth of their own explanation? Do you find it conceivable that you could be wrong?

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev (attn H & DS), the report of transformative experience is not in itself a proof of one’s full framework of understanding, there is a comparative difficulties process to be carried out. I have given a 101 on such here on in context. Be that as it may, I note that if just one of the millions who report encounter with the living God through the once crucified, risen [with 500 eyewitnesses] Christ — all, in accordance with & fulfillment of the centuries old prophecies of the scriptures [by count 300, core being Isa 53] — has actually done so, then we have truth to address. Truth being, the accurate description of reality. If the millions are all delusional, then we are looking at serious doubts on the credibility of the human mind. Notice, your injection of “hallucinations” [which are of disintegrative, not genuinely transformational character] and your “based on your faith,” which short circuits the comparative difficulties worldviews analysis which is key in the OP and above, which answers the question of circularity by way of worldviews level inference to the best explanation across competing worldview cores i/l/o factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power. KF

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: In 16 above, I pointed out:

    the above concerns pivot on something prior to such: what is God, considered as a candidate being. Clearly, widely taken as a serious candidate necessary being. Such are either impossible of being (like square circles) or else actual. Where, it is seriously arguable that we need and have a necessary being root of reality, the issue being of what character in a world containing morally governed creatures — us. It is doubtful that God is impossible of being and it is doubtful that he is contingent. Arguably, he is possible of being and necessary, so actual. Those who deny or seriously doubt this have a fairly serious implicit burden of warrant.

    Notice the highlighted: it is seriously arguable that we need and have a necessary being root of reality, the issue being of what character in a world containing morally governed creatures — us.

    The context for this is that of a cosmos that credibly had a beginning and exhibits causal-temporal succession of finite stages (think, years for convenience or stages along the usual cosmological timeline). Extending such into the past, as we recently explored, cannot go to a causal loop where a successor state t effectively reaches back to t-n and causes itself. Nor is it plausible that we have had a successive finite stage traversal of an actual transfinitely large past (and yes, an implicit transfinite is just as transfinite as an explicit one, as was recently revisited, going over grounds first looked at in 2016). This leads to a finitely remote causal root of reality.

    Logic of being has somewhat to say.

    First, that were there ever utter non-being (the genuine nothing . . . as opposed to quantum foams etc), as such has no causal powers, that would forever obtain. As a world is, manifestly, then also something always was. That is, there is arguably a finitely removed world root that always was, i.e. is of causally independent character, is a necessary being. Our challenge is to characterise it, circular cause and world out of nonbeing not being credible, with transfinite succession of finite stages being comparably difficult (start with, perpetual postponement of and assuming already completed transfinite traverse). Actually, that does point to something of eternal enduring character being beyond any finitely remote point, i.e. it is a claim as to what the world root is. One that BTW would have long since attained heat death, which just is not the case, indeed the prevalence of white dwarfs suggests that their cooling down time has not been traversed.

    A key to onward characterisation is that we are inescapably morally governed, starting with duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence (including warrant), to sound conscience, to fairness and justice, etc. This means we operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap, especially in exercising rational freedom (which computational substrates cannot have — they calculate based on inputs and organisation, they do not freely infer). That requires bridging the gap in the root of reality, in turn requiring inherent goodness there.

    As has been pointed out above, that points (after centuries of debates) to the sole serious candidate to fill such a bill: the inherently good, utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. One, worthy of loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature. That is the heart of ethical theism. As also noted, “You may dispute this (so, as a phil exercise, provide an alternative _____ and justify it _____ ).” Those making the attempt will soon see why I have spoken of a sole serious candidate.

    Likewise, the OP goes on:

    There is another angle. How much of reality do we know, how much of what is knowable do we actually hold, and how much of that is certain beyond future correction? The ratio is obviously trending infinitesimal; even dismissing Boltzmann brain scenarios, Matrix worlds and Plato’s cave worlds etc.

    So, what if what is required to know God is, is beyond what one happens to know, or what one is willing to acknowledge?

    That is a serious challenge and it points to the unmet challenge of worldview level warrant faced by atheism.

    KF

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I find this transcript at Reasonable Faith is significant:

    https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/the-proper-definition-of-atheism

    Dr. Craig: The standard definition of atheism is that God does not exist. It’s the view that there is no God. [–> confirmed, cf above]

    Kevin Harris: That’s not what many of the new atheists hold to. They hold to a kind of a watered-down . . . it’s just a lack of belief – ‘I lack belief’ – which is a personal statement about themselves.

    Dr. Craig: Right, it’s just an autobiographical confession; it’s not a viewpoint that’s true of false. [–> See SEP’s evisceration at 11 above: “If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).”]

    Kevin Harris: This atheist blogger wants to examine the claim of Penn that not knowing the origin of the universe justifies atheism. And Penn Jillette says [1],

    What makes me libertarian is what makes me an atheist — I don’t know. If I don’t know, I don’t believe. I don’t know exactly how we got here, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. We have some of the pieces of the puzzle and we’ll get more, but I’m not going to use faith to fill in the gaps. [–> notice, the disparaging reference and failure to appreciate the worldviews alternatives challenge, to use comparative difficulties analysis to hold a reasonable, responsible set of first plausibles defining a faith-point or worldview core] I’m not going to believe things that TV hosts state without proof. I’ll wait for real evidence and then I’ll believe.

    Dr. Craig: Uh huh. Well, that statement doesn’t comport with the standard definition of atheism. That simply is to say that you don’t know and therefore you don’t have a belief in God. That’s the revised definition. So this Penn fellow isn’t a standard atheist, he would be an agnostic. It would be somebody who says, ‘I don’t know.’ Now, the odd thing about his statement is that he seems to assume the only way to know that God exists is by knowing the origin of the universe, and that’s very strange. I mean, think of times earlier in human history when people had no idea what the origin of the universe might have been. Does that mean that therefore they had no way of knowing that God exists? Why should we think that the only way to know God exists is by having a theory of the origin of the universe? I think that’s extraordinarily peculiar.

    Kevin Harris: And ‘I’m not going to use faith to fill in the gaps’—that’s the old God of the gaps.

    Dr. Craig: Right, that’s the old God of the gaps, but that’s assuming, again, that the only way to know that God exists is through having a theory of the origin of the universe, and I can’t think of anybody, frankly, who believes that. Even non-theists, I don’t think, believe that in order to know that God exists you have to have a theory of how the universe originated. That’s really an extraordinary claim.

    Kevin Harris: This atheist blogger says, “First, I reject the claim that atheism is a lack of belief.”

    Dr. Craig: So, he disagrees with Penn.

    Kevin Harris: Yes.

    This may be its definition among a small club of self-important atheists who have adopted a particular and peculiar private language, but it is not the American-English definition of the word. In American English an atheist is a person who believes that the proposition that at least one God exists is almost certainly, or certainly, false.

    Dr. Craig: I wouldn’t say that the atheist is committed to the certainty of that proposition. He’s just committed to the falsehood of the proposition that God exists, but he may hold that very tenuously and provisionally. [2] There’s no reason to saddle the atheist with the claim that he has to be certain about it or nearly certain.

    Kevin Harris: He says,

    I’m an atheist in the American English sense of the word. I hold that the proposition that at least one God exists is almost certainly false. I also hold much of religion as it is practiced is immoral. However that is not a part of atheism, it is a corollary of that.

    He brings up the issue of “Is atheism a worldview or is it a subsidiary of naturalism or metaphysical naturalism as a worldview?”

    Dr. Craig: Oh, I don’t think it’s a subsidiary. Atheism, as he says, is simply the belief that there is no God. Now, the atheist might be a humanist who thinks that human beings have intrinsic moral value, or he might be a nihilist who thinks that there are no objective moral values at all. And therefore the atheist might not be committed to the claim that religions are immoral, as this atheist is. This atheist wants to affirm the objectivity of moral values despite his atheism. And there are a good many atheists who won’t make that leap of faith, who will say that in the absence of God there are no objective moral values, and therefore the claims of religion are not immoral.

    Kevin Harris: He says, “On the question of how the universe came into existence, I do not know how it came into existence, and the proposition that some God is responsible is almost certainly false.”

    Dr. Craig: Uh huh. I wonder how he knows that.

    This onward bit is almost as interesting — revealing:

    Kevin Harris: Yeah, that would need some justification.

    Dr. Craig: Right, does he give any justification or argument for why that proposition is false?

    Kevin Harris: Just one. He says,

    Let’s assume I had a deck of cards. It is a special deck of cards with one billion different suits and one billion and three cards of each suit. You draw a card, don’t tell me what it is. Somebody asks me to name what card you drew. I answer—’I do not know.’ They ask, ‘What do you think of the proposition that he drew the king of hearts?’ My answer: ‘I think that the proposition that he drew the king of hearts is almost certainly false.’ There is no contradiction here. Both claims are true. I do not know what card he drew, and the proposition that he drew the king of hearts is almost certainly false.

    Dr. Craig: Right, it’s highly improbable that that (indiscernible) but I don’t see the connection with theism. What’s he say about theism?

    Kevin Harris:

    On the question of how the universe came into existence I do not know how it came into existence, and the proposition that some God is responsible is almost certainly false. And even if he did draw the king of hearts and I said he drew the king of hearts, it would be utter absurdity for me to claim that I knew he drew the king of hearts. This is not knowledge; this is merely a lucky guess. No matter how certain I might be that my totally unfounded random belief is true.

    Do you see any correlation between the illustration?

    Dr. Craig: No, it seems to me that this experiment that he’s suggesting is just not set up properly. Suppose we have a series of cards with pictures of U.S. presidents on them, and someone picks blindly a card from the deck and asks me to guess whose picture is on it. And suppose I say President Obama. Now, it’s almost certainly false that I have picked the card with President Obama’s picture on it. Given the range of alternatives it’s highly improbable that the card that was randomly picked corresponds to my guess that it’s President Obama. But does that mean that it’s almost certainly false that Obama is the president? Well, obviously not. It just doesn’t follow at all from the fact that the choice that I have picked is probably not Obama that therefore it’s highly improbable that Obama is the president. The whole experiment is misconceived. This is really a strange argument, Kevin.

    What he seems to be saying is that if you have a number of possible explanations and you’re just blindly asked to pick from one of them without any evidence then if you have this wide, wide range of alternatives any one you pick blindly is probably false; it’s highly improbable that you’d have randomly picked the true explanation. But the problem with this argument is that that applies to every choice in the deck. Every one of them, any one that you might pick is almost certainly false in the sense that it’s highly, highly improbable. Now, that would mean that if atheism is one of the alternatives then atheism is almost certainly false, since a random pick of that is just as highly improbable as any of the other ones. It’s a trivial sort of argument because it’s true of every alternative you pick, including his own chosen alternative, atheism. [3] It would be almost certainly false.

    Moreover, I’m not sure that he’s properly set up the thought experiment because his claim is that no God is responsible for the origin of the universe. So if you have all these different gods to choose from, all these different cards to pick from the deck, what he’s saying is that there is no god that has created the universe. And that’s not one alternative. He’s trying to rule out a vast range of cards, and in order to do that he might have to rule out virtually all of the cards except for the atheistic card. So that would make it highly probable that some god has created the universe and highly improbable that there is no god that created the universe.

    So it seems to me this argument really is bizarre and perhaps self-defeating, and in any case irrelevant, because what he’s assuming is that we are in a state in which we have absolutely no evidence [–> sounds familiar?] and we’re asked to simply blindly pick from various alternatives, and I don’t think we’re in such a state . . .

    KF

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: More from WLC:

    https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/definition-of-atheism

    There’s a difference between saying, “I do not believe (p)” and “I believe (not-p).” Logically where you place the negation makes a world of difference.

    But where your atheist friends err is in claiming that atheism involves only not believing that there is a God rather than believing that there is no God.

    There’s a history behind this. Certain atheists in the mid-twentieth century were promoting the so-called “presumption of atheism.” At face value, this would appear to be the claim that in the absence of evidence for the existence of God, we should presume that God does not exist. Atheism is a sort of default position, and the theist bears a special burden of proof with regard to his belief that God exists.

    So understood, such an alleged presumption is clearly mistaken. For the assertion that “There is no God” is just as much a claim to knowledge as is the assertion that “There is a God.” Therefore, the former assertion requires justification just as the latter does. It is the agnostic who makes no knowledge claim at all with respect to God’s existence. He confesses that he doesn’t know whether there is a God or whether there is no God.

    But when you look more closely at how protagonists of the presumption of atheism used the term “atheist,” you discover that they were defining the word in a non-standard way, synonymous with “non-theist.” So understood the term would encompass agnostics and traditional atheists, along with those who think the question meaningless (verificationists). As Antony Flew confesses,

    the word ‘atheist’ has in the present context to be construed in an unusual way. [–> smoking gun] Nowadays it is normally taken to mean someone who explicitly denies the existence . . . of God . . . But here it has to be understood not positively but negatively, with the originally Greek prefix ‘a-’ being read in this same way in ‘atheist’ as it customarily is in . . . words as ‘amoral’ . . . . In this interpretation an atheist becomes not someone who positively asserts the non-existence of God, but someone who is simply not a theist. (A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, ed. Philip Quinn and Charles Taliaferro [Oxford: Blackwell, 1997], s.v. “The Presumption of Atheism,” by Antony Flew)

    Such a re-definition of the word “atheist” trivializes the claim of the presumption of atheism, for on this definition, atheism ceases to be a view. It is merely a psychological state which is shared by people who hold various views or no view at all. On this re-definition, even babies, who hold no opinion at all on the matter, count as atheists! In fact, our cat Muff counts as an atheist on this definition, since she has (to my knowledge) no belief in God.

    One would still require justification in order to know either that God exists or that He does not exist, which is the question we’re really interested in.

    The issue of epistemic burden-shifting is patent.

    KF

  27. 27
    daveS says:

    KF,

    If the millions are all delusional, then we are looking at serious doubts on the credibility of the human mind.

    Yes, and it’s a well-known fact that people commit mental errors all the time. Consider the QAnon phenomenon, for example.

    Here’s another *possible* illustration that occurred just yesterday at church. A friend was describing to me how while he was fixing his car, he dropped a part over the engine. When this happens, often the part will land in a particularly inaccessible place, very difficult to retrieve. In this case my friend was fortunate in that the part landed within easy reach, and he credited God with causing this to happen.

    While his explanation could be true, I cannot dismiss the possibility that this is a case of mistaken attribution. Especially in view of the horrible things that happen around the world (for example, this.)

    PS: I am a sucker for the paranormal, so if you can locate any decent-quality video of a levitation or some other incident which is clearly physically impossible (absent divine presence) please do post it.

  28. 28
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    You would be well advised to attend to the identified responsibilities of worldview warrant. Your strawman caricature of standard dictionary understandings, the better to personalise and polarise, is duly noted.

    There’s that strawman accusation again. I’m beginning to think that you don’t know what that means. Let me provide you with a text book example so that you will have a better understanding.

    Person A established a false description about what what person B’s worldview is and entails, and then proceeds to pick apart the inconsistencies in this incorrectly described worldview.

  29. 29
    SmartAZ says:

    Mama tells Baby not to touch the stove. Baby touches the stove.

    Baby blames Mama for punishing him when he meant no harm. He was merely curious. Baby denies the existence of Mama, since if she existed he would have to love her and obey her, and he refuses to do that while she is punishing him with physical pain.

    The God of rightness has an enemy, the god of confusion, who inspires men to think that all things are subject their reason. The deeper you go into this concept the goofier it gets.

  30. 30
    Brother Brian says:

    The bigger question is why Mama allowed baby to get up on the stove.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I am not talking about minor errors but grand delusion. As you know I am a witness to a real levitation case but it was not taped, no one there was interested in such and it would probably be a privacy violation. I am talking about people I know. KF

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, there you go again. You would be better advised to read this, from SEP at 11 above, in case you actually imagine as you said in 3 above: https://uncommondescent.com/philosophy/atheisms-problem-of-warrant/#comment-679867 KF

  33. 33
    daveS says:

    KF,

    it was not taped

    For some reason that’s always the case in these alleged paranormal incidents.

    Maybe I should set up a reward (like Randi did). Anyone who presents compelling video evidence of a levitation gets a $10 gift certificate to Chipotle.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, in the case I and dozens of others witnessed, no tape was a matter of privacy — exorcism porn is porn, to use a word that seems to be migrating in meaning. KF

    PS: A media case: https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/haunting-indiana-home-leads-exorcism-levitation-report-article-1.1593169 and a report by a pshrink: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/07/01/as-a-psychiatrist-i-diagnose-mental-illness-and-sometimes-demonic-possession/?utm_term=.7e007a16d5b6 Based on what I have seen and dealt with I would not dismiss these out of hand. I add this interview: http://www.thechristianreview......exorcists/ WARNING: I caution against involvement with these things unless one is thoroughly prepared and knows what one is doing. Demonically motivated attempted murder is real, and much more that I shudder to think of.

  35. 35
    Brother Brian says:

    KF, you continue to claim to understand more about the atheist world view than the atheists who comment here. DaveS, Mimis, Hazel and Sev are all atheists (I think), yet I would be willing to bet that we each have a different view as to what that means. To think that you, a devout Christian, would know more about the atheist world view than we do is just ludicrous, if not arrogant. That is why I posted comment 3. Now, if you are willing to admit that it is entirely possible for us atheists to know more about the Christian world view than you do, I might have to rethink my comment.

  36. 36
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I wouldn’t dismiss them out of hand, either, but again all we have are testimonials.

    WARNING: I caution against involvement with these things unless one is thoroughly prepared and knows what one is doing. Demonically motivated attempted murder is real, and much more that I shudder to think of.

    Well, I’m willing to take one for the team. Is there some way I can attract or conjure up a demon? I can set up cameras and record the whole thing. The main purpose would be to witness it myself, though.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, kindly read and respond to the clipping in no 11 above. Your personalising without actually addressing substance is duly noted. KF

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, eyewitness testimony is evidence, especially from responsible and credible people. these days, with deep fake stuff beginning and the like, I think we are going to have to revert to prioritising the report of a responsible trustworthy person over the imagery and videos we have become used to. And yes, that is a warning on agit prop fakery as things get worse and worse. KF

  39. 39
    hazel says:

    I’m with Dave on this levitation business. There are too many examples of people being fooled to take eye witness accounts seriously.

    And I’m with BB about atheism. I can’t take seriously people who tell me what the “real reasons” for my beliefs are.

  40. 40
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    BB, kindly read and respond to the clipping in no 11 above. Your personalising without actually addressing substance is duly noted.

    I did read it. I thought that it was a bunch of nonsense. Naval gazing and word-splitting like this really doesn’t interest me or convince me of anything.

    There are as many flavours of atheism as there are of Christianity or Islam. World views are personal. To suggest that only one definition can be used is ridiculous.

    My view is simply that there is no higher being responsible for the universe, life or humans. If there was some compelling evidence (and no, unsubstantiated claims of levitation or God saving your life don’t count) I would reconsider my opinion.

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    H, I wasn’t fooled (nor were other witnesses), there was no trickery and the parson involved did not draw attention to that or other oddities that I am not going to discuss. What such cases do is they give me an inside view on how we often interact with what is strange or unexpected. I have already pointed to the deep fakery problem and its manipulative potential, given how we have been conditioned. I predict, photography and video are about to become the biggest fakes of all, the best source is a truthful, reliable eyewitness. KF

    PS: 11 above and beyond are in the main philosophical analyses on centuries of debates on well known subjects. The standard, longstanding readily seen definition of atheism is the claim to know — that’s epistemology — that there is no God. The recent weak form version is in that context subject to precisely the objections described and on experience not just reports, has been used in precisely the ways described. The wider reality is that such claims are parts of worldviews and worldviews come with built-in cultural implications and agendas. I add: note my direct remark in the OP before focussing on the currently more relevant evolutionary materialistic scientism and its fellow travellers: [t]here are many varieties of atheists, including idealistic ones that reject the reality of matter.” Worldviews are subject to comparative difficulties analysis and are of interest to other members of a civilisation who may be subjected to their import and agendas, leading to a right of fair comment. Atheistical views (note the broadened focus from just the particular claim about God and attitude to him), for cause, are quite controversial.

  42. 42
    daveS says:

    KF,

    If we had an eyewitness to this “levitation” event who was more forthcoming, I might give it more weight. But you are very reticent about the details. It’s not even clear in what way it was a levitation, since you say the subject was pinned to the floor.

  43. 43
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    Is there some way I can attract or conjure up a demon?

    Gabriel Amorth’s books are a good starting point. Life of St. Pio will give you some good ideas also. Matt Baglio’s book will help. Again, the Fatima story is excellent to comprehend. There are a lot of sources for research in answer of your question.
    Or, you could read nothing and learn nothing more about the topic?

  44. 44
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    There are as many flavours of atheism as there are of Christianity or Islam.

    I don’t see it that way. I think there are very few ways to negate the existence of God. That is different from the number of ways there are of affirming the existence of God, or affirming beliefs in various sacred texts. There is no real guidebook to atheism. It’s just a denial or negation.

  45. 45
    hazel says:

    From Ghostbusters, one of many iconic lines: Bill Murray says about Sigourney Weaver, “She sleeps above her covers. Four feet above her covers!”

    I saw it with my own eyes!

  46. 46
    daveS says:

    Thanks, SA, I’ll look up Gabriele Amorth.

  47. 47
    hazel says:

    More seriously, I don’t think I can have very meaningful conversations with people who actually believe in demons.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: H, I have never ever made a main case for ethical theism that turns on “claims of levitation or God saving your life.” If you wish to see a 101 case, I again point to here on in context. Yes, my main case pivots on understanding worldviews and first principles of reason as morally governed rational creatures, and that is as regards ethical theism, God of the philosophers not yet the Christian faith. Notice, where I actually begin:

    Building a theistic Worldview: first principles and first truths

    First, we must accept that all worldviews have foundational or core “first plausible” basic — foundational — beliefs that are not subject to further proof: they are where our proofs must start from. For, to warrant a claim, A, as worthy of trust and acceptance — i.e. as credible, or even as knowledge — we need B, and B would need C, and so on. It would help us to see this, by briefly defining the key term, worldview:

    world·view (wûrldvy)
    n. In both senses also called Weltanschauung.
    1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
    2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.
    [Translation of German Weltanschauung.]

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

    The terms “perspective” and “beliefs” point to the implications of the chain of warrant challenge just outlined. For, in the end we face the proverbial “turtles all the way down” forever; or else circularity; or else, if we are to be logically coherent and rational, we must stop at “first plausibles” that are reasonable . . .

    From there, I went on to:

    Now, a vicious infinite regress of warrant is absurdly impossible for finite, fallible thinkers such as we are: we would never get far back enough to get started with proving, nor could we trust ourselves to be right all along the chain.

    Looping back through “turtles in a circle” is little better: it ends up assuming what should be shown.

    That is, the last turtle has to stand somewhere . . . . We are thus forced to stop at some set of “first plausibles” or other — that is, a “faith-point” (yes, we ALL must live by some faith or another, given our finitude and fallibility) — and then we need to compare alternatives and see which “somewhere” — which worldview foundation — is least difficult.

    And so forth.

  49. 49
    kairosfocus says:

    DS (attn H), pinned down from the pelvic girdle, rest of torso floated up, more or less level by perhaps 4 inches, sufficient for the head to loll back (being in a limp dead faint) and arms too. In discussions long after, the victim was not aware of the state. Being aware from the inside as an eyewitness, it is almost amusing to see how something that is actually not that utterly unknown, is reacted to. And BTW, in earlier decades some people here had to call in the bishop so they could actually get to sleep IN their beds. As for the movies and cartoons, some of what I saw has led me to a very different estimation of what I laughed at as a kid on Saturday mornings, thinking of it as a zany joke. I now think we were being conditioned by people who knew some things that are not common knowledge. KF

  50. 50
    kairosfocus says:

    H, if you want evidence on the reality of the demonic and where that can lead, I call up as witnesses the White Rose martyrs who paid with their lives for what they reported about what had gone wrong with their nation at the hands of a demonic mad man:

    WR, II: Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way . . . The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals . . . Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!

    WR, IV: Every word that comes from Hitler’s mouth is a lie. When he says peace, he means war, and when he blasphemously uses the name of the Almighty, he means the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan. His mouth is the foul-smelling maw of Hell, and his might is at bottom accursed. True, we must conduct a struggle against the National Socialist terrorist state with rational means; but whoever today still doubts the reality, the existence of demonic powers, has failed by a wide margin to understand the metaphysical background of this war . . .

    I think a little reconsideration is advisable.

    KF

  51. 51
    daveS says:

    KF,

    pinned down from the pelvic girdle, rest of torso floated up, more or less level by perhaps 4 inches, sufficient for the head to loll back (being in a limp dead faint) and arms too.

    Hm, that doesn’t appear to be obviously contrary to the laws of mechanics. I can lie flat on my back and do a partial sit-up and end up in a similar position.

    I now think we were being conditioned by people who knew some things that are not common knowledge.

    Intriguing. Are these “things that are not common knowledge” things that you know? That you can share?

  52. 52
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    There is no real guidebook to atheism.

    Very true. But atheist world views range from a very strict materialism (again, poorly defined) to a very broadly held spiritualism.

  53. 53
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    There is no real guidebook to atheism.

    Very true. But atheist world views range from a very strict materialism (again, poorly defined) to a very broadly held spiritualism.

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, a person in a limp-body dead faint? Floating up as if on a slab? KF

    PS: I don’t want to talk about them. Enough is on the table, I’ll just say I cannot look at cartoons etc. the same way again. (In retrospect, I feel that I was manipulated by people who — had I understood at the time — I would have stayed far away from. The old fuddie duddies who didn’t want TV or radio and movies have been vindicated. That leaves me with Star Trek and Abbott & Costello as relatively innocent. And I understand the ideological loading in those.)

  55. 55
    daveS says:

    KF,

    a person in a limp-body dead faint? Floating up as if on a slab?

    No, not with a limp body. But how do you know this person’s body was limp, i.e., that his abdominal muscles were not taught?

    I don’t want to talk about them. Enough is on the table, I’ll just say I cannot look at cartoons etc. the same way again.

    Ok then.

  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the dead faint limpness was manifest; on call for prayer, the individual collapsed and was drifting in and out of consciousness over an extended time. The lifting also came in repeated phases. KF

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, actually, there is a for dummies on atheism, over recent years there was a spate of evangelistic literature by Dawkins and co, and there are academic surveys as well as the older literature and major phil exchanges. Atheism and atheistical views have been part of the intellectual ferment of our civilisation and are not exactly novelties. As Provine and many others point out, they were embedded in science and education in connexion with Darwinism, actually within his lifetime — Aveling’s remarks on his death and the response of the Darwin family are of interest. I don’t take very seriously the notion that outsiders cannot understand the pivotal claims and the variety of worldviews that build them in. Some of the outsiders were formerly atheists themselves. KF

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Aveling, de facto son in law of Marx, on a meeting with Darwin shortly before his death:

    [Having been invited to lunch and at the end of the meal with a Dr Büchner of Germany, withdrawing to Darwin’s study, so] once we were within the walls of his study, and he was sitting in most unconventional fashion in the large, well-worn easy chair, almost the first thing he said was, “Why do you call yourselves Atheists?” . . . . It was pointed out that the Greek [ALPHA] was privative, not negative; that whilst we did not commit the folly of god-denial, we avoided with equal care the folly of god-assertion: that as god was not proven, we were without god (ATHEOI) and by consequence were with hope in this world, and in this world alone . . . with point after point of our argument he agreed; statement on statement that was made he endorsed, saying finally: “I am with you in thought, but I should prefer the word Agnostic to the word Atheist.”

    Upon this the suggestion was made that, after all, “Agnostic” was but “Atheist” writ respectable, and “Atheist” was only “Agnostic” writ aggressive. To say that one did not know was the verbal equivalent of saying that one was destitute of the god-idea, whilst at the same time a sop was thrown to the Cerberus of society by the adoption of a name less determined and uncompromising. At this he smiled and asked: “Why should you be so aggressive? Is anything gained by trying to force these new ideas upon the mass of mankind? It is all very well for educated, cultured, thoughtful people; but are the masses yet ripe for it?”

    We have been over this ground before, and the SEP remarks are right on target..

    KF

    PS: Let us recall, SEP:

    1. Definitions of “Atheism”

    “Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

    This definition has the added virtue of making atheism a direct answer to one of the most important metaphysical questions in philosophy of religion, namely, “Is there a God?” There are only two possible direct answers to this question: “yes”, which is theism, and “no”, which is atheism. Answers like “I don’t know”, “no one knows”, “I don’t care”, “an affirmative answer has never been established”, or “the question is meaningless” are not direct answers to this question.

    While identifying atheism with the metaphysical claim that there is no God (or that there are no gods) is particularly useful for doing philosophy, it is important to recognize that the term “atheism” is polysemous—i.e., it has more than one related meaning—even within philosophy. For example, many writers at least implicitly identify atheism with a positive metaphysical theory like naturalism or even materialism. Given this sense of the word, the meaning of “atheism” is not straightforwardly derived from the meaning of “theism”. While this might seem etymologically bizarre, perhaps a case can be made for the claim that something like (metaphysical) naturalism was originally labeled “atheism” only because of the cultural dominance of non-naturalist forms of theism, not because the view being labeled was nothing more than the denial of theism. On this view, there would have been atheists even if no theists ever existed—they just wouldn’t have been called “atheists”. (Baggini [2003] suggests this line of thought, though his “official” definition is the standard metaphysical one.) Although this definition of “atheism” is a legitimate one, it is often accompanied by fallacious inferences from the (alleged) falsity or probable falsity of atheism (= naturalism) to the truth or probable truth of theism.

    Departing even more radically from the norm in philosophy, a few philosophers and quite a few non-philosophers claim that “atheism” shouldn’t be defined as a proposition at all, even if theism is a proposition. Instead, “atheism” should be defined as a psychological state: the state of not believing in the existence of God (or gods). This view was famously proposed by the philosopher Antony Flew and arguably played a role in his (1972) defense of an alleged presumption of “atheism”. The editors of the Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Bullivant & Ruse 2013) also favor this definition and one of them, Stephen Bullivant (2013), defends it on grounds of scholarly utility. His argument is that this definition can best serve as an umbrella term for a wide variety of positions that have been identified with atheism. Scholars can then use adjectives like “strong” and “weak” to develop a taxonomy that differentiates various specific atheisms. Unfortunately, this argument overlooks the fact that, if atheism is defined as a psychological state, then no proposition can count as a form of atheism because a proposition is not a psychological state. This undermines his argument in defense of Flew’s definition; for it implies that what he calls “strong atheism”—the proposition (or belief in the sense of “something believed”) that there is no God—is not really a variety of atheism at all. In short, his proposed “umbrella” term leaves strong atheism out in the rain.

    Although Flew’s definition of “atheism” fails as an umbrella term, it is certainly a legitimate definition in the sense that it reports how a significant number of people use the term. Again, there is more than one “correct” definition of “atheism”. The issue for philosophy is which definition is the most useful for scholarly or, more narrowly, philosophical purposes. In other contexts, of course, the issue of how to define “atheism” or “atheist” may look very different. For example, in some contexts the crucial issue may be which definition of “atheist” (as opposed to “atheism”) is the most useful politically, especially in light of the bigotry that those who identify as atheists face. The fact that there is strength in numbers may recommend a very inclusive definition of “atheist” that brings anyone who is not a theist into the fold. Having said that, one would think that it would further no good cause, political or otherwise, to attack fellow non-theists who do not identify as atheists simply because they choose to use the term “atheist” in some other, equally legitimate sense.

    If atheism is usually and best understood in philosophy as the metaphysical claim that God does not exist, then what, one might wonder, should philosophers do with the popular term, “New Atheism”? Philosophers write articles on and have devoted journal issues (French & Wettstein 2013) to the New Atheism, but there is nothing close to a consensus on how that term should be defined. Fortunately, there is no real need for one, because the term “New Atheism” does not pick out some distinctive philosophical position or phenomenon. Instead, it is a popular label for a movement prominently represented by four authors—Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens—whose work is uniformly critical of religion, but beyond that appears to be unified only by timing and popularity.

  59. 59
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF
    I think Rosenberg’s book attempts to be a kind of introduction to atheism. He equates atheism entirely with materialism, of the Dawkins variety.

  60. 60
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Hazel

    More seriously, I don’t think I can have very meaningful conversations with people who actually believe in demons.

    I think that means that a large number of people would not be able to have meaningful conversations with you. I find that unfortunate. It’s a sign of civilized, good taste, to be able to engage in a meaningful conversation with just about anyone.

    “… you can do something like google Seat Survey angels demons … you would discover that state, in 2007, 68% of Americans think that devils and angels are active in the world.”

  61. 61
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    I don’t take very seriously the notion that outsiders cannot understand the pivotal claims and the variety of worldviews that build them in. Some of the outsiders were formerly atheists themselves.

    Then, of course, you also must accept that atheists who were former Christians can fully and unbiasedly understand the Christian worldview. Is this a correct statement?

  62. 62
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    But atheist world views range from a very strict materialism (again, poorly defined) to a very broadly held spiritualism.

    On this site, we look at the question of Origins. “Where did it come from?”
    Would you agree that atheists who assert that some kind of spiritual entities actually exist are not giving serious or reasonable thought to that question of Origins?
    And adding to it, in classical theistic thought, God Himself, is the ultimate Origin and by definition is not caused by anything else.
    But lacking an uncaused God, don’t those questions of where, how and why various spiritual entities exist continue to arise and remain inadequately answered?

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, atheists, Communists, Buddhists, Muslims and others can easily understand the Christian Faith, which is publicly documented in scriptures, creeds, historic summaries or statements of confession [39 Articles, Westminster Confession, Barmen Declaration etc], systematic theologies, encyclopedias, dictionaries and more. I should point out to you that ex atheist exhibit no 1 for the past 100 years is a certain Clive Staples Lewis, who wrote essays, books and even Sci Fi and Children’s novels relevant to the matter. On my part, I cut my intellectual eyeteeth on a Marxist Uni Campus, where atheism is historically a requisite for Party Membership [the campus was the de facto HQ for the main Communist Party there]. What atheism is and has been, is no secret, including the novel formulation promoted in recent years by Dawkins et al. No surprise, in that light, that it is rhetorically effective but philosophically questionable — almost a signature of that movement that refused to do their phil home work. I have pointed out that atheistical commitment will be part of a wider worldview, which means there are many different particular atheistical worldviews, where there will be in-built cultural consequences and agendas. The atheistical position, consistently will deny/dismiss or imply denial/dismissal of the existence of God, usually with the implication that the one who so denies/dismisses claims to be epistemically well warranted. This also holds for the so-called weak form, which typically seeks to shift burden of worldview warrant in favour of claiming atheism as a default. All of that is widely and very publicly documented and exemplified, including in excerpts above. So, I am not particularly impressed by the rhetorical tack you have led in the thread above. KF

  64. 64
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    Would you agree that atheists who assert that some kind of spiritual entities actually exist are not giving serious or reasonable thought to that question of Origins?

    Spirituality does not necessitate a spiritual entity. Just ask the millions of Buddhist’s.

    And adding to it, in classical theistic thought, God Himself, is the ultimate Origin and by definition is not caused by anything else.

    Not by definition, by convenience.

    But lacking an uncaused God, don’t those questions of where, how and why various spiritual entities exist continue to arise and remain inadequately answered?

    Again, spiritualism doesn’t require a spiritual entity.

    I lean more towards the materialist flavour of atheists, but I can envision a karmic type of spirituality (ie, good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished) that does not require a spiritual entity.

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, yes, he exemplifies evolutionary materialistic scientism at what, a semi-pop level? In so doing, he let a few cats out of the bag. However, there are many different ways one may have an atheistical worldview, including idealistic ones that deny the reality of matter. KF

  66. 66
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Atheism is very simplistic. The atheistic worldview is the same. It doesn’t even really require an explanation. The Enlightenment thinkers just wrote attacks against the theistic view. There is no positive program for atheism. It’s just a denial. I consider all atheism to be nihilistic in its essence. It is reductionist.
    Christianity, on the other hand, is almost infinitely rich and deep in thought, development, meaning.
    As a Catholic, I have works of theology, spirituality, history, politics – that span 20 centuries. And that’s just in the English language.
    Lives of the Catholic saints, for example, in all the languages of the world? It has to be 50,000 volumes.
    Most atheists have never read any of it. Many Christians have an impoverished understanding also.

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, some who are atheistical take the view that occult, manipulable forces are real, leading to atheistical magicians and the like, or in mild forms, to atheists who believe horoscopes, may play the Ouija board or the like. Some may accept the reality of souls and even spirits [including, personalities] while rejecting the existence of the God of ethical theism. And, more. For recent cases poke around in say the Harry Potter series and think about where it may lead some influenced by that world of ideas. BTW, there are atheists who pray to God, without even the benefit of a foxhole being shelled for an excuse. KF

  68. 68
    daveS says:

    Some of us even visit family and friends at Christmas!

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, down here in the Caribbean, there have been Muslims who celebrate Christmas. But then, Witches in Harry Potter do the same. KF

    PS: There are atheists in churches, including in pulpits. And I don’t mean ultra-libs.

  70. 70
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    SA, some who are atheistical take the view that occult, manipulable forces are real, … Some may accept the reality of souls and even spirits [including, personalities] while rejecting the existence of the God of ethical theism.

    Two points. Following my previous comment, do you think an atheist who proposes that immaterial, spirits, forces or souls exist, has an explanation for their origin? I was suggesting that they do not and this renders the view inconsistent. If the atheist says that “souls from an all powerful spirit” — to me, this is not atheism.
    Secondly, I am not using the term atheist as strictly referring to “ethical theism”. For example, if American founder, Thomas Jefferson was a Deist, as many state, I wouldn’t also call him an atheist.
    There was a time in the past, however, where pagans who worshipped various man-made gods or idols, were called atheists. That conforms to the strict usage of the word. But I’m using a more general meaning which is a denial of all gods, even a Deistic force.

  71. 71
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    Would you agree that atheists who assert that some kind of spiritual entities actually exist are not giving serious or reasonable thought to that question of Origins?
    Spirituality does not necessitate a spiritual entity. Just ask the millions of Buddhist’s.

    I inquired of Buddhist sources. No, you’re incorrect. Buddhist spirituality necessitates a spiritual entity. Note the bold text:

    “This is called the Law of Karma, or the Law of Cause and Effect. Karmic law will lead the spirit of the dead to be reborn, in realms which are suitable appropriate to their karmic accumulations.”
    https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma5/viewdeath.html

    In Buddhism there is a spirit (or soul) that lives on after physical death. This is a spiritual entity. Final nirvana is where souls live as gods or deities. The entity that is reincarnated is a spiritual soul.

    As I stated, the existence of spiritual entities requires an explanation. Buddhism is “atheistic” in that it is not a Theistic religion. But it is not atheistic in the ordinary use of that term to mean “disbelief in God or gods”. There are deities in Buddhism.

    As for the rest of your comment, you didn’t answer the question.

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, atheism is one component of a worldview, denoting rejection of God. If other components accept occult powers, even personalised, that is possible (maybe souls after death?). In the relevant sense Deism is a variant form of theism, and I note Americans were different from the usual reference standard in Europe, e.g. Franklin seemed to believe in prayer and Jefferson referred to God’s judgement of America (for slavery IIRC). I note, there are (odd? idiosyncratic?) forms of Buddhism that would be effectively atheistical — a well known case in my native land was a leading columnist. Ironically, the man who took up the mantle (and just passed on) was a SDA Elder! KF

    PS: I am not sure of the question, but if it is on where spirits or souls or occult forces more broadly came from, worldviews do not have to be comprehensive, they can have explanatory gaps. Where, that something is accepted as being does not imply knowing how so. Notice, factual adequacy and balanced explanatory power are two of three key comparative difficulties tests. The third, is coherence (logical and dynamic).

  73. 73
    LoneCycler says:

    In today’s world atheism does come with a certain mindset and worldview. You will see people claim it’s just a lack of belief but if that was so atheists wouldn’t work so hard to punish those that do believe. It’s like they want everyone else to share their cynicism or else they’ll come at you with intent to destroy your business or your life.

    As an example after having won the war on gay marriage in the U.S. via judicial fiat and not at the ballot box, many atheists insist on now going house-to-house to shoot any remaining survivors. They seek out Christian businesses to provide flowers or cakes for a gay wedding so they can call the cops if the Christians try to pass.

    Civil laws can reasonably require the accommodation of individual religious beliefs and have been around for centuries. That’s why priests don’t have to reveal confessions to the police and Quakers don’t have to join the military.

    But in states that don’t have religious protection laws, Christians are being compelled, by general non-discrimination laws, to either participate in gay marriages or else go out of business. There has been a recent Supreme Court case that set the atheist community back by ruling in favor of a baker in Colorado, but the case is not over and they are even more upset now than they were before. Don’t assume that just because they’re in a panic they have a point. The more hysterical they are the more you should assume the whole thing is a sham.

    A roomful of gays would say, “Why don’t you guys just go to one of the nine out of 10 bakers who would be happy to have your business?” (My guess is, if the zealots looked really hard, they might even be able to find a gay baker!) But that’s not what this is about. It’s about making others conform to the exercise of raw rule-making power. When whoever has the political power makes the rules without regard to reason absurd consequences often result.

    It’s utter nonsense that any shopkeeper, least of all a nice Christian, would turn away a customer for any reason other than a deeply held religious belief, such as not wanting to participate in a gay wedding, a Planned Parenthood gala or any event involving Hillary Clinton.

    KF states that reason is morally governed. I agree. But the problem here is that many think that morals are whatever you define them to be.

    We are told by many that education (of the right sort), life experience, feedback and societal pressure can have all the good influence of ensuring young people grow to become responsible members of a moral and just society without any reference to an inherently good, utterly wise creator God. People can instead have a personal loyalty to and give service to a civil society established by their own communal ideas that establish what is good and just. In short they don’t think they need God for anything. They’ll make up their own rules and it will be a shining example everyone should follow. It’s been tried many times.

    I don’t think anybody denies that humans can be raised to believe and accept as fact just about anything. Unfortunately long term immersion in socio-political indoctrination can result in dangerous individuals wreaking havoc on our world. See China’s Red Guards, Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge and the Soviet Union’s NKVD. Members of these organizations were given education, indoctrination, life experience, feedback and a great deal of societal pressure to remove enemies of the State from existence. Of course, some commenting here have had a hard time admitting these people did anything morally wrong.

    In my younger life I was a fine example of what long term socio-political indoctrination can accomplish. In the 1980s I was a U.S. Marine. I was sent to Honduras to train their military. I educated members of Battalion 3-16 in the finer points of how to kill quietly, quickly and without the neighbors knowing anything about it. I handed out hundreds of Ka-Bar fighting knives and taught how to use them. After returning to the U.S. I began hearing stories about what some soldiers I had trained were doing.

    There were death squads that kidnapped, tortured and killed people. School teachers, doctors and policemen were being killed. Most likely by many of the boys – teenagers – I had trained. I had a lot of pride in being a Marine but what this seemed to mean in practice is that my government would send me around to various places to harden the hearts of foreign soldiers so they could kill with little remorse. I went through all the stages of loss from denial, to anger, grief, and eventually I left the Corps and never looked back.

    It’s up to everyone to reach their own sense of reason for what they do with their life. And to lead their lives as they see fit. It’s best to be humble, and not tell other people how to live or what to do. If you do that you need to make sure you have reason on your side. Not just power. We all make mistakes. Not all of us keep repeating them.

    If someone has something to ground their ideas of civil peace and justice other than the a raw exercise of rule-making power, once they and their fellow travelers have seized political power, please enlighten us. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on the number of words a comment on an OP here at UD must meet. But all we ever see are a few lines that summed up say “I disagree” with the OP. I think we all knew that before the usual fingers hit the keyboard.

    “Words never fail. We hear them, we read them; they enter into the mind and become part of us for as long as we shall live. Who speaks reason to his fellow men bestows it upon them. Who mouths inanity disorders thought for all who listen. There must be some minimum allowable dose of inanity beyond which the mind cannot remain reasonable. Irrationality, like buried chemical waste, sooner or later must seep into all the tissues of thought.”

    Quote from “Less Than Words Can Say” by Richard Mitchell.

  74. 74
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    I am not sure of the question, but if it is on where spirits or souls or occult forces more broadly came from, worldviews do not have to be comprehensive, they can have explanatory gaps.

    The atheist/materialist worldview has some explanatory gaps, yes. I think that’s what some of us try to point out here.
    The fewer explanatory gaps, the more coherent and comprehensive the worldview is. It was massive explanatory gaps, in part, that led to the destruction of ancient paganism as a more comprehensive and coherent worldview appeared.

  75. 75
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, quite so. All worldviews bristle with difficulties and we have to face how bounded we are in our knowledge and reasoning, how error-prone, how we struggle to be honest and truthful, how often we are polarised, unduly biased and outright ill-willed. Indeed, in decision theory, bounded rationality is a key concept and one of the most troubling ideas I met was the garbage can theory that in effect organisations (and how much more, movements or communities) can fall into a trap of deep irrationality by which what are called “problems” or “solutions” and how they are matched as factions vie for power as led by champions bear but little connexion to objectivity or soundness. Politics, rhetoric, policy and soundness too often face an utter disconnect, including on deep worldviews issues — precisely what happened in the Roman world in C1 as a certain messianic sect of Judaism burst on the scene, welcoming gentiles into their ranks without their first having to become full practicing Jews. It should be no surprise that I fear that our civilisation is clearly falling into this sort of intellectual debasement trap, best expressed as a mutinous ship of state. This is part of why I think we need to work our way through logic and first principles, here, including understanding the core issue of atheism. KF

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    LC,

    Welcome, you seem to be new in these parts. (Or are you an infrequent commenter or someone who has just decided to move beyond lurking?)

    You raise a raft of concerns, but I find your clip from Richard Mitchell — who on a quick search seems to have led a bit of a crusade against the ill-informed and/or willful corruption of language, reasoning and soundness — as perhaps the most striking:

    Words never fail. We hear them, we read them; they enter into the mind and become part of us for as long as we shall live. Who speaks reason to his fellow men bestows it upon them. Who mouths inanity disorders thought for all who listen. There must be some minimum allowable dose of inanity beyond which the mind cannot remain reasonable. Irrationality, like buried chemical waste, sooner or later must seep into all the tissues of thought.” [“Less Than Words Can Say”]

    Yes, yes, yes!

    Now, you took up my point on the moral government of rationality, pointing out how our understanding of morality has been corrupted through subjectivism and relativism etc. This echoes a concern that Plato long since stated in The Laws Bk X (which targets evolutionary materialism and linked sophism), but first let me note the inescapable first duties of mind that I have highlighted: duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence (thus, warrant), to sound conscience, to neighbour, to fairness and justice, etc.

    These of course can be subverted, starting with warping our understanding of truth and undermining our respect for its incalculable worth. And yet, it still stands as Aristotle recognised it 2300+ years ago in Metaphysics, 1011b: truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not. Similarly, distinct identity is a self-evident, undeniable first principle of thought, communication and reality alike, carrying with it as close corollaries the laws of the excluded middle and non-contradiction.

    Closely associated are other self-evident first truths and tools of rationality (see my 101 level exploration here on in context).

    Cicero, in highlighting the built-in law of our nature as the core of law, rightly pointed to prudence (so, warrant) and [sound] conscience. The neighbour love principle is pivotal to articulating morality and sound law that undergirds the civil peace of justice, which involves a deep commitment to fairness. In this context, core rights are clear, and we can understand justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. That’s why it leads to a sound civil peace . . . a peace that is now being willfully, wantonly broken by characters all across our civilisation who seem to have stepped right out of the character-sketches in Plato’s devastating parable of the ship of state. (And before one hastens to fasten such on one’s favourite designated target for the daily two minute hate, one should take pause to ponder the point of Orwell’s 1984. Beyond a certain point, satire fails as reality has now exceeded it.)

    Such laws were not passed by any Bench or Parliament or Executive ruling by decree or media-manipulated referendum. They cannot be struck down by such figures — never mind today’s arrogant pretensions. We can only recognise them as first principles and build soundly on them, or else face the consequences of voyages of folly due to failure to heed such laws of our morally governed nature, starting with rationality. The folly and blindness of our day are patent.

    In this light, let us reconsider the rise of evolutionary materialistic scientism and associated atheism and fellow travellers i/l/o Plato’s grim warning driven by the bloody lessons of the failure of Athenian democracy — and notice, how we have been systematically robbed of history and its sobering lessons too:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] 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 . . . [such that] 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 [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] 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.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    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 — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    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 influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    KF

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: We should be ashamed of ourselves as a civilisation, given the Ship of State:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Let us note Cicero in De Legibus, too:

    —Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus [his real-life brother]. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I/l/o discussion above, I have put in some highlights — I find that reading in our day has so deteriorated that such crude aids (which some have mocked, apparently not recognising that if your leg is broken, a crutch is relevant) are helpful for many — and I have put in some remarks on agnosticism; which I had earlier left out as likely to be distractive but it now seems necessary despite that potential. I have also added further dictionary definitions. The following picks up from the point where the standard definition was given and the so-called weak form was given. After brief fair comment, it is time to round up:

    So, already, we can see that atheism is best understood as disbelief — NB, Dicts: “refusal or reluctance to believe”/ “the inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true” — in the existence of God, claimed or implied to be a well warranted view; not merely having doubts about God’s existence or thinking one does not know enough to hold a strong opinion. It inevitably exists as a part of a broader philosophical scheme, a worldview, and will imply therefore a cultural agenda.

    (I add: Note by contrast, AmHD on agnosticism: “The belief that the existence or nonexistence of a deity or deities cannot be known with certainty. “ Where, of course, certainty comes in various degrees, starting with moral certainty, and where knowledge, as commonly used often speaks to credibly warranted beliefs taken as true but not typically held as utterly certain beyond any possibility of error or incompleteness. We not only know that 2 + 3 = 5, but we claim knowledge of less than utterly certain facts and theories. For instance, in the mid 2000’s, the previous understanding and “fact” that Pluto was the 9th Planet of our solar system was revised through redefining Pluto as a dwarf planet.)

    I trust these will help.

    KF

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On defining God in terms of ethical theism, I of course mean the inherently good, utterly wise maximally great necessary being who as creator is the root of reality and who is worthy of loyalty and the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good that accords with our evident (morally governed) nature. I find VJT’s philosophically rooted summary also helpful:

    [A Philosophical Definition of God:] By God I mean Someone, not some thing, or some state or some process. More specifically, I mean Someone (beyond space and time) Whose nature it is to know and love in a perfect and unlimited way, Whose mode of acting is simply to know, love and choose (without anything more basic underlying these acts), Who is the Creator and Conserver of the natural world, and Who is therefore capable of making anything He wishes to, provided that it’s consistent with His nature as a perfectly intelligent and loving being, and with His other choices . . . . Since God is self-explanatory, as the Ultimate Cause, He cannot possess any ad hoc features, like being a trickster. Nor can God be totally evil, since evil is a privation [–> i.e. evil has no independent existence, it is the frustration, diversion, perversion or privation of the good out of its proper end, function, role or potential], and God is an infinite and unbounded Being. Hence we are forced to suppose that God is good. As to whether God is loving in a personal sense: each and every person is an end-in-itself, and for God to treat a person in an impersonal fashion would reflect a deficiency on His part; and since we know God is free from deficiencies, it follows that He must be personal.

    We can also explore God through scripture and theology (see 101 here) but that is not going to affect the force of the above.

    KF

  81. 81
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    we need to work our way through logic and first principles

    Right, and as you have pointed out elsewhere, we look for an origin of these principles of rationality. We cannot merely start with or accept without concern, the existence of logic and first principles.

    There are three options for an explanation of origin:
    1. It came from nothing
    2. It exists eternally without beginning
    3. It came from an uncaused, absolute, non-contingent, self-existing Being we call God

    Many people are content to say merely that they do not know. Others will say “anything but God”.

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    SA,

    Logic and linked first principles, we should not take for granted. In my own 101, I started from worldviews and the turtles all the way down challenge. That’s a serious problem.

    On the roots of reality:

    >>There are three options for an explanation of origin:
    1. It came from nothing>>

    a: No-thing means, non-being, which has no causal capacity.

    b: Were there ever utter nothing, that would forever obtain. But such is patently not the case.

    c: A world is, so something always was, pointing to the root of reality, where neither infinite regress nor circular cause make sense.

    >>2. It exists eternally without beginning>>

    d: The temporal-causal succession of finite duration stages cannot span the transfinite in steps, whether that transfiniteness is explicit or implicit.

    e: We look to an entity of a different nature, the most promising being a necessary (world framework, independently existing) being as world root.

    >>3. It came from an uncaused, absolute, non-contingent, self-existing Being we call God>>

    f: As in, this.

    >>Many people are content to say merely that they do not know.>>

    g: We were confident to boldly follow logic before, why the hesitation now?

    >>Others will say “anything but God”.>>

    h: So, why that anything but? ________

    KF

  83. 83
    daveS says:

    SA,

    Does modus ponens (as an example) require an explanation for its existence?

    Edit: If I had to choose one of your options, I would go with #2, although I’m not sure I agree completely with it.

  84. 84
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    Does modus ponens (as an example) require an explanation for its existence?

    Yes, everything requires an explanation. The modus ponens form exists. Where did it come from? Did someone invent it? Or did we just discover it, and it has a pre-existence to humans? Is it embedded into the fabric of reality?
    Well, modus ponens comes from the laws of logic. From the Law of Identity we can say If P then Q. Because P is uniquely different from Q. So, the modus ponens has an explanation for its existence. It comes from the first principles, which are essential to the nature of the world.
    The human mind is ordered to that nature. We know the human mind could not fabricate the first principles, and thus, humans discovered modus ponens they did not invent it.

  85. 85
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dave

    Edit: If I had to choose one of your options, I would go with #2, although I’m not sure I agree completely with it.

    Yes, I recall us debating that point last year. You were looking for ways to say that we could “arrive at a present point” at the end of an infinite sequence that had no beginning. But I never understood your point on that. You were saying that it was infinite in the past, but could progress into the future past today.
    I think the ordinary, classical approach to that problem is that if a sequence never had a beginning, then over an infinite stretch of time it would never reach a finite point in the future. Then there is the problem of possibility or potentiality, where anything that could happen, anything that was possible to happen, over an infinite period of time – would have already happened.
    There are a lot of paradoxical issues with an infinite regress.

  86. 86
    daveS says:

    SA,

    Yes, everything requires an explanation.

    I’m guessing that KF will object that this leads to a vicious infinite regress. I think I would as well.

    Does God require an explanation? If so, call it E. Now does E require an explanation? If so, call it E1. Etc.

    From the Law of Identity we can say If P then Q. Because P is uniquely different from Q. So, the modus ponens has an explanation for its existence.

    Hm, I don’t quite follow that. Perhaps KF (or you of course) can expand on it.

  87. 87
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, that everything requires explanation is likely poorly phrased, but it is reasonable that of any distinct, particular thing that is, A (or any particular distinct truth claim, T, that is accepted), we can indeed ask why A or T and seek an adequate explanation. It may be that B warrants A or T (including, implying it). We may proceed, coming to some F that exists as a necessary entity at root of reality or at some truth G that is properly self evident. We have now reached a terminus that is a satisfactory explanation without being infinitely regressive. Of course, by happenstance A or T may already be of this character, such as that error exists. I should add, that in general, a cluster F = {f1, f2, . . . fn} can define a world frame that though not even largely self evident, on comparative difficulties frames a tenable worldview which supports accepting A or T. As for a causal temporal, finite stage regress that is explicitly or implicitly transfinite, the spanning is a supertask that cannot be bridged by us. KF

    PS: For P => Q, if they are distinct, that is part of a discussion of how the one is adequate warrant for the other: ~ (P and [~Q]) . . . why (which raises meaning, requiring distinct identity and its close corollaries), but it is always so that trivially P => P.

  88. 88
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dave

    I’m guessing that KF will object that this leads to a vicious infinite regress. I think I would as well.

    I think he does not object to it?

    KF… that everything requires explanation … is reasonable …[so] … we seek an adequate explanation.

    Does God require an explanation? If so, call it E. Now does E require an explanation? If so, call it E1. Etc.

    I don’t see the problem there. God is given an explanation. From there, explanations are existent things, all of which are explained as a category of being (explanatory thoughts). All explanations are explained by what they are. They come from thought. They have an origin. It doesn’t matter how many you have. An animal has an explanation. Explaining the explanations of the animal does not multiply the existence of the animal. It just multiplies thought. But all of the thoughts, (question and response) even to an infinite progression in the future, have the same origin. They are already explained by what they are: Explanations.

  89. 89
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dave,

    Hm, I don’t quite follow that. Perhaps KF (or you of course) can expand on it.

    With the Law of Identity, everything that exists as a distinct thing, has a unique identity. Once that principle is realized, we are capable of comparing and grouping things and assigning qualities to them. The modus ponens is an output of the rational process of comparison, equivalency, excluded middle and non-contradiction. That is the origin of modus ponens. That is the explanation of where it comes from.

    1. LOI – P is distinct from Q.
    2. Rational process of comparison/contrast: if P then Q.
    3. Non-Contradiction — if P is Q, then P cannot be non-Q.
    4. Excluded middle. Given P, it must either be Q or non-Q. There is no 3rd choice.
    5. Modus ponens conclusion: Given P, then Q.

  90. 90
    daveS says:

    KF,

    that everything requires explanation is likely poorly phrased, but it is reasonable that of any distinct, particular thing that is, A (or any particular distinct truth claim, T, that is accepted), we can indeed ask why A or T and seek an adequate explanation.

    Sure. I mean we can ask a lot of things, pretty much anything we like. We can also seek explanations for virtually anything as well.

    PS: For P => Q, if they are distinct, that is part of a discussion of how the one is adequate warrant for the other: ~ (P and [~Q]) . . . why (which raises meaning, requiring distinct identity and its close corollaries), but it is always so that trivially P => P.

    Do we have an explanation here for why modus ponens exists? Is God required for it to exist?

    I believe you would say that modus ponens exists in every possible world and is thus a necessary being, so its existence is not contingent on any other being’s existence. Furthermore, it never began to exist. Therefore it would not be profitable to argue for SA’s third option.

  91. 91
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the issue is, why does reality exist — the domain in which there are possible and even actual worlds (complete with necessary beings). Something does not come from non-being, circular causation of successive finite stages is a non-starter, transfinite traverse is a supertask. We are looking at a finitely remote world root, and a world with rational (not merely computational) morally governed creatures — us. That points to a world root adequate to sustain both IS and OUGHT, calling for inherent goodness. A creator-sustainer who is inherently good. And BTW, no such root, no reality, so no basis for laws pivoting on distinct identity, no responsible, rationally free inference capable mind thus no modus ponens etc. Recall, in reasoning Q follows from P on being seen to be its consequent. KF

  92. 92
    daveS says:

    The issue (my original question anyway, relating to SA’s #81) was actually why modus ponens (and logic in general) exists. Do you agree it exists in every possible world?

  93. 93
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, MP is a consequent of particular relations that pivot on distinct identity, holding its place due to that underpinning. LOI obtains as possible worlds exist that are distinct in reality. That’s why the root issue is why reality. And in that context, I can freely point out that necessary first principles, structures and quantities are bound up in the characteristics of that root. Reality is structural, with logic and quantity manifesting through the import of distinct identity. So, the root issue is, the necessary being world root, which brings the panoply of logic, structure, quantity. KF

  94. 94
    daveS says:

    So is that “yes” or “no”? (Hint: apply the LEM 😛 )

  95. 95
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    I believe you would say that modus ponens exists in every possible world and is thus a necessary being, so its existence is not contingent on any other being’s existence.

    Modus ponens is a reference to Being. Additionally, it is dependent upon Distinct Beings. There must be two Beings for modus ponens to exist. Thus, modus Ponens is a contingent being. It is not independent or self-existing. Modus ponens follows from first principles, which also require that there is such a thing as Distinct Beings. Modus ponens depends on Being and can have no other source except for God.
    Could there be a world where there were no distinct beings? Well, there could be minds that viewed everything as One. All distinction between one chair and another chair is not real. Perhaps there would be minds that could not see, feel, weigh or position the two different unique chairs. Do they exist? Those minds would never know it. It is like saying “that is one cloud” and “that is another cloud”. but the clouds are touching a little. Are they really two clouds? Or are they all a part of one huge cloud pattern?
    Rationally, we make distinctions because we can observe them with our senses. That is how we know what Reality is.
    But the Law of Identity exists even in a world where there is only one being (one huge cloud) because that being is distinct from everything that is not it.
    The Law of Identity, however, is not an independent being. It is dependent, and contingent. It is a reference to Being.
    if it was possible that there was Absolute Nothing. There would be no Law of Identity.
    As long as something exists, however, the Law of Identity exists. Existing things do not create the LOI. But the LOI is embedded into the fabric of existence.

  96. 96
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dave

    The issue (my original question anyway, relating to SA’s #81) was actually why modus ponens (and logic in general) exists. Do you agree it exists in every possible world?

    It exists in every possible world, yes. So, you are saying that it therefore is self-existent and does not require God to explain it.

    But that is like saying “the existence of things is required in every possible world”. Yes, true. But we would not say then, “therefore, since the existence of things exists in every possible world, they do not require God as an explanation for their origin”.

    But no, they have to come from somewhere. They are dependent upon something. The same with logic.

  97. 97
    Seversky says:

    I think most atheists and/or agnostics would align themselves broadly with Bertrand Russell in his essay “Am I an Atheist or an Agnostic?:

    Here there comes a practical question which has often troubled me. Whenever I go into a foreign country or a prison or any similar place they always ask me what is my religion.

    I never know whether I should say “Agnostic” or whether I should say “Atheist”. It is a very difficult question and I daresay that some of you have been troubled by it. As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one prove that there is not a God.

    On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.

    None of us would seriously consider the possibility that all the gods of homer really exist, and yet if you were to set to work to give a logical demonstration that Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and the rest of them did not exist you would find it an awful job. You could not get such proof.

    Therefore, in regard to the Olympic gods, speaking to a purely philosophical audience, I would say that I am an Agnostic. But speaking popularly, I think that all of us would say in regard to those gods that we were Atheists. In regard to the Christian God, I should, I think, take exactly the same line.

    The question of warrant is really a variant of the burden of proof and atheism has no special duty in that respect. Anyone who states a definite claim, whether it is that God exists or it is that God does not exist, is obliged to provide argument and evidence to support that claim if and only if their purpose is to persuade an audience of the merits of that claim. If the claimant presents argument and evidence but the audience finds them unpersuasive then, unless the claimant has other arguments and evidence to bring forward, an impasse is reached. If the claimants best arguments and evidence are not sufficient to compel the audience to agree then they must agree to disagree for the time being at least.

  98. 98
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev,

    First, with all due respect, Lord Russell makes a telling error of misconcept regarding logic of being; one that BTW seems quite common. One, that reflects just how unphilosophical our age is.

    Hera, Zeus et al simply are not in the same ontological status as the God who is the root of reality, a necessary, maximally great being. They are clearly contingent, second order candidate beings.

    And in fact he is wrong regarding how he addresses their existence or possible existence: there is no reason why superhuman, capricious and too often outright evil entities might not exist, standing behind the myths, statues and temples. (We would call such by another name today, demons — as the early Christians did. The myths, statues and buildings in themselves are of little import, but that behind such, very real and in the end destructive entities might stand, should not be dismissed without thought. We should at least be open to that in our day, given, say, a Hitler . . . as the White Rose martyrs warned at cost of their lives. But that is utterly different from there being a finitely remote necessary being root of reality adequate to ground a world inhabited by free, rational [not merely computational] morally governed, choosing creatures such as we are..)

    Coming back, Russell clearly recognises that our epistemic status — relatively, negligible knowledge — is such that it is extraordinarily difficult for us to credibly claim knowledge that a serious candidate necessary, maximally great being at the root of reality is impossible of being. Hera, is not even a candidate to be that; such categories should not be conflated.

    Where, no, warrant does not equal burden of proof — a legal term. In law (and debates) there is often a default set out of prudence by way of which of competing possible errors is least harmful. So, at criminal law in common law jurisdictions the accused is presumed innocent unless shown otherwise to moral certainty by the comparatively vast resources of the state. On civil matters, where consequences of error are less destructive, weaker standards apply, e.g. preponderance of the evidence. And yes, mild forms of the prudential counsel Pascal gave, are embedded in legal thought and in any form of prudent decision-making. That’s a reason why when I see over-wrought dismissals of Pascal Wager type reasoning in a worldview roots context, I conclude: these protest too much, too sharply, I wonder why? (As in, are we seeing the difference between reasoning with prudence on one hand and on the other in the end defensive, challenge deflective rationalisation of views held on other grounds than worldview level inference to the best, most prudent explanation? Cicero aptly said, prudence is a law, conscience is a law.)

    Instead, I submit: every serious worldview alternative has a burden of warrant on comparative difficulties, the duty to show itself credible per factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power. And so, to play at rhetorical tactics (as he admits) rather than using one’s prestige to soberly inform and educate the public seriously about such matters, is in the end sadly illuminating. Huxley, pioneer of the modern concept and coinage, agnosticism, took a different tack on this subject. So did the ex-atheist, C S Lewis. And, now we know why the public debate with Fr Copleston took the strange shape it did.

    It is clearly emerging that some form of agnosticism is far more defensible than the classic atheistical stance. Where, the SEP point that psychologising the definition of atheism instead fails to capture the semantic range is also relevant (cf OP as augmented i/l/o 11 above).

    In short, it stands established that atheism faces a serious problem of warrant, and that it cannot properly claim the default as a worldview stance on the root of reality; that would beg big questions. We must look more broadly at the worldview that has an atheistical commitment and address comparative difficulties.

    Coming back to the worldviews challenge, we therefore face what was outlined, say, in 91:

    the issue is, why does reality exist — the domain in which there are possible and even actual worlds (complete with necessary beings [ –> try, the panoply of quantities from 0, 1, 2 on through Z,Q,R,C, hyperreals and surreals, and linked structures]). Something does not come from non-being [–> which has no causal capacity], circular causation of successive finite stages is a non-starter, transfinite traverse [–> so, the suggested beginningless quasi-physical past] is a supertask. We are looking at a finitely remote world root, and a world with rational (not merely computational) morally governed creatures — us. That points to a world root adequate to sustain both IS and OUGHT, calling for inherent goodness. A creator-sustainer who is inherently good. And BTW, no such root, no reality, so no basis for laws pivoting on distinct identity, no responsible, rationally free inference capable mind thus no modus ponens etc.

    Going back further, to 82:

    On the roots of reality:

    >>There are three options for an explanation of origin:
    1. It came from nothing>>

    a: No-thing means, non-being, which has no causal capacity.

    b: Were there ever utter nothing, that would forever obtain. But such is patently not the case.

    c: A world is, so something always was, pointing to the root of reality, where neither infinite regress nor circular cause make sense.

    >>2. It exists eternally without beginning>>

    d: The temporal-causal succession of finite duration stages cannot span the transfinite in steps, whether that transfiniteness is explicit or implicit.

    e: We look to an entity of a different nature, the most promising being a necessary (world framework, independently existing) being as world root. [–> Necessary beings are independent of external, enabling causal factors, are part of the framework for any world to exist . . . BTW, the root for the extraordinary power of the logic of structure and quantity, i.e. Mathematics, and are thus integral to the roots of reality.]

    >>3. It came from an uncaused, absolute, non-contingent, self-existing Being we call God>>

    f: As in, this.

    >>Many people are content to say merely that they do not know.>>

    g: We were confident to boldly follow logic before, why the hesitation now?

    >>Others will say “anything but God”.>>

    h: So, why that anything but? ________

    That’s where we need to begin, perhaps with a glance up at the table in the OP on alternatives regarding being.

    KF

    PS: Having found what looks like an augmented transcript, let’s clip:

    C: Take the proposition “if there is a contingent being then there is a Necessary Being.” I consider that that proposition hypothetically expressed is a necessary proposition. If you are going to call every necessary proposition an analytic proposition, then — in order to avoid a dispute in terminology — I would agree to call it analytic, though I don’t consider it a tautological proposition [–> I assume, in the sense, trivial repetition in other words]. But the proposition is a necessary proposition only on the supposition that there is a contingent being. That there is a contingent being actually existing has to be discovered by experience, and the proposition that there is a contingent being is certainly not an analytic proposition, though once you know, I should maintain, that there is a contingent being, it follows of necessity that there is a Necessary Being. [–> contingent beings are not self-explanatory and causal-temporal chains run into issues as seen above]

    R: The difficulty of this argument is that I don’t admit the idea of a Necessary Being and I don’t admit that there is any particular meaning in calling other beings “contingent.” These phrases don’t for me have a significance except within a logic that I reject.

    [–> extraordinary! Try to imagine a world in which two-ness did not exist until a switch was flipped then, poof there it is, now, flip back again and poof, it ends. Sorry, that already has twoness: ON/OFF. That’s a big clue. Where, for any distinct world W, we have some attribute A so that it is identifiable as not its near neighbour W’. So W = {A|~A}, thus on distinct identity of any possible world, we have nullity [the dichotomy is empty], unity [A-simple, ~A complex], duality [the two together]. From such we proceed to N, Z, Q, R, C and beyond as necessary entities and structures in ANY possible world. Lord Russell’s scheme of logic and adherence to verification principle led ideas leads astray. Later, it was found that this principle cannot pass its own test of meaningfulness and the related movement is dead.]

    [ C: Do you mean that you reject these terms because they won’t fit in with what is called “modern logic”?

    R: Well, I can’t find anything that they could mean. The word “necessary,” it seems to me, is a useless word, except as applied to analytic propositions, not to things.

    C: In the first place, what do you mean by “modern logic?” As far as I know, there are somewhat differing systems. In the second place, not all modern logicians surely would admit the meaninglessness of metaphysics. We both know, at any rate, one very eminent modern thinker whose knowledge of modern logic was profound, but who certainly did not think that metaphysics are meaningless or, in particular, that the problem of God is meaningless. Again, even if all modern logicians held that metaphysical terms are meaningless, it would not follow that they were right. The proposition that metaphysical terms are meaningless seems to me to be a proposition based on an assumed philosophy. [–> Fr Copleston turned out to be right on target.]

    The dogmatic position behind it seems to be this: What will not go into my machine is non-existent, or it is meaningless; it is the expression of emotion. I am simply trying to point out that anybody who says that a particular system of modern logic is the sole criterion of meaning is saying something that is over-dogmatic; he is dogmatically insisting that a part of philosophy is the whole of philosophy. After all, ]

    …a “contingent” being is a being which has not in itself the complete reason for its existence. That’s what I mean by a contingent being. You know, as well as I do, that the existence of neither of us can be explained without reference to something or somebody outside us, our parents, for example. A “Necessary” Being, on the other hand means a being that must and cannot not exist.

    [–> I of course draw out more, it is not just an arbitrary, hypothetical contrast to contingent beings dependent on external enabling causal factors. There are entities that are part of the framework for a world to exist.]

    You may say that there is no such Being, but you will find it hard to convince me that you do not understand the terms I am using. If you do not understand them, then how can you be entitled to say that such a Being does not exist, if that is what you do say?

    [ R: Well, there are points here that I don’t propose to go into at length. I don’t maintain the meaninglessness of metaphysics in general at all. I maintain the meaninglessness of certain particular terms — not on any general ground, but simply because I’ve not been able to see an interpretation of those particular terms. It’s not a general dogma — it’s a particular thing. But those points I will leave out for the moment. ]

    Well, I will say that what you have been saying brings us back, it seems to me, to the Ontological Argument that there is a being whose essence involves existence, so that his existence is analytic. That seems to me to be impossible, and it raises, of course, the question what one means by existence, and as to this, I think a subject named can never be significantly said to exist but only a subject described. And that existence, in fact, quite definitely is not a predicate.

    C: Well, you say, I believe, that it is bad grammar, or rather bad syntax to say for example “T. S. Eliot exists”; one ought to say, for example, “[He,] the author of Murder in the Cathedral, exists.” Are you going to say that the proposition, “The cause of the world exists,” is without meaning? You may say that the world has no cause; but I fail to see how you can say that the proposition that “the cause of the world exists” is meaningless. Put it in the form of a question: “Has the world a cause?” or “Does a cause of the world exist?” Most people surely would understand the question, even if they don’t agree about the answer.

    R: Well, certainly the question “Does the cause of the world exist?” is a question that has meaning. But if you say “Yes, God is the cause of the world” you’re using God as a proper name; then “God exists” will not be a statement that has meaning; that is the position that I am maintaining. [–> extraordinary!] Because, therefore, it will follow that it cannot be an analytic proposition ever to say that this or that exists. Take for example, suppose you take as your subject “the existent round-square,” it would look like an analytic proposition that “the existent round-square exists,” but it doesn’t exist.

    C: No, it doesn’t, then surely you can’t say it doesn’t exist unless you have a conception of what existence is. As to the phrase “existent round-square,” I should say that it has no meaning at all. [–> As required core characteristics are mutually contradictory, such is impossible of being.]

    R: I quite agree. Then I should say the same thing in another context in reference to a “Necessary Being.”

    C: Well, we seem to have arrived at an impasse. To say that a Necessary Being is a being that must exist and cannot not exist has for me a definite meaning. For you it has no meaning.

    R: Well, we can press the point a little, I think. A Being that must exist and cannot not exist, would surely, according to you, be a Being whose essence involves existence. [–> See above on numbers and related structures]

    C: Yes, a being the essence of which is to exist. But I should not be willing to argue the existence of God simply from the idea of His essence because I don’t think we have any clear intuition of God’s essence as yet. I think we have to argue from the world of experience to God. [–> I would expect, from our inner conscious, minded and morally governed life as well as the external world we share]

  99. 99
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Seversky

    Anyone who states a definite claim, whether it is that God exists or it is that God does not exist, is obliged to provide argument and evidence to support that claim if and only if their purpose is to persuade an audience of the merits of that claim.

    Shouldn’t the person have the intellectual integrity to have argument and evidence so that he persuaded himself?

  100. 100
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, not everything we accept can be separately warranted, or we face infinite regress of warrants. What we can do is to warrant our worldview frameworks on comparative difficulties, and also particular things of concern. For example, how can we trust our senses? Witness reports? Record? Bodies of knowledge? And of course, in the context of the OP, claims to atheism are going to be parts of worldviews. KF

  101. 101
    daveS says:

    SA,

    It [MP] exists in every possible world, yes. So, you are saying that it therefore is self-existent and does not require God to explain it.

    Yes, in fact I stated that MP must be a necessary being whose existence does not depend on any other being (including God).

    You are stating that there can and do exist beings which, although they exist in all possible worlds, actually do depend on other beings (God in particular). That is, there are some contingent beings which do exist in all possible worlds.

    If that is the case, then my argument does not work. I am still having a hard time conceiving of how a logical rule of inference (and a whole raft of other mathematical/logical things) could depend on anything else, however (even in view of your #95).

  102. 102
    daveS says:

    ‘sup, KF.

  103. 103
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, that something is present in creating any world (as it is framework to a distinct world) it can be present necessarily and can even constrain being, without being the actual root of reality with causal power to be the source of any given world. I am thinking here, numbers and their extensions. These, would be eternally contemplated by God, on classic theistic views. KF

  104. 104
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Yes, I agree.

  105. 105
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dave

    Yes, in fact I stated that MP must be a necessary being whose existence does not depend on any other being (including God).

    It’s an interesting a good challenge. I will rethink my confirmation of your proposal. (I’m exploring the concept just on my own thoughts at this moment and I am open to correction and revision). Sorry the following is messy and complicated.

    Is it really true that Modus Ponens must exist in every possible world?

    I’ll propose “no”. I may be wrong here, but the principles of logic happen to conform to what we know as human reason. So, when we consider every possible world, we consider “possibility” as regards to what we can think of.

    Could we say that the existence of modus ponens is contingent upon the existence of human-like rationality? In other words, if human reason never existed, would modus ponens also not exist?

    I hinted at this before but I’ll elaborate. Modus ponens only works when there are more than two propositions in a given world. If, for example, there was a world with a single, indivisible, unified entity – then modus ponens would not work. The Law of Identity would still work, but not modus ponens.
    If P then Q. But this world only has P and “Not-P”. We could call “Not-P”, “Q”. However, we could never have modus ponens in that case. If P, then “Not-P”. Correct?

    So, in a world like that, modus ponens would not work. Therefore, modus ponens is contingent upon worlds that have more than one component. Is it possible that a world could have only one, indivisible, unified, unique entity? I’m not sure, but why would it be impossible? I believe the reason why it might not work is that unique entity must have some contingency as to origin, support, location in space, etc. However, if the possible world was just a world with God alone, a world with only Absolute Being, then that might be the case. Human reason tells us that if there was God-alone, then there would be “not-God”. That is how we can trust our rational power. But is it necessary that there must be a state of “non-Being”?
    How about the Law of Identity? In that case, if there was only one, distinct, indivisible entity – the Law of Identity would still work.
    Well, is there a possible world where the Law of Identity does not work?
    Let’s accept the world given above, where God is the only Being in it.
    Then yes, the Law of Identity would not be necessary in that world, because that law conforms to human reason, and there would only be “Divine Reason”.
    What would be the difference?
    Well, again, just proposing … human reason sees unique distinctions between things.
    Are the distinctions we see “real”? Or are they simply the way human senses separate one thing from another?
    We see one chair here. Another chair there. So, two chairs. The Law of Identity tells us they are two unique entities. Chair A is not Chair B. The Law of Non Contradiction enables logic and reason to work.
    However, is Chair A really unique and distinct from Chair B? We see them and experience them through our human senses as two distinct, unique objects. They have different contingencies, occupy different places in space, are composed of different molecules.

    However, could there be some kind of “oneness” idea that says Chair A and Chair B cannot really be distinguished from each other? If so, then in that possible world, even the Law of Identity would not hold. In other words, the Law of Identity is dependent upon the distinctions that human reason makes. Is there a possible world where there is no such thing as “non-being”?
    For me, I would say “yes”. Non-being is the polarity of Truth. Really, even beyond the laws of logic, the more fundamental component (that you could argue for) is that “the concept of Truth versus Falsehood” is Present in every possible world.

    If we could accept that the Laws of Logic are dependent upon a world where there are values of Truth versus Falsehood (Being versus Non Being), how about Truth itself?

    Here we could say that Truth is self-existent and a necessary being. But that can only be Absolute Truth, where there is no error or falsehood. Yes, that Truth is the equivalent of Being. Absolute Being would be Absolute Truth.

    Unlike Logic, Truth would be necessary in every world.

    But Absolute Truth, which means Absolute Being (without any diminishment) is another term for God.

  106. 106
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, recall, A => A, is a trivial MP. However, the key point really is implication, that the truth of a first proposition suffices to establish that of a consequent. In short, a summary of various types of relationships between described actual or potential states of affairs. For instance Q may be the causal result of P. It may be a logical consequent, e.g. P: If a triangle ABC is scalene, THEN its three sides are unequal, or IF ABC is a right angle triangle THEN pythagorean relations obtain. And so forth. I also suggest there is a hidden premise, that reality exists, which then raises the issue that we may never get away from at least one mind in any possible or actual world, God’s mind. God’s mind simultaneously contemplates all propositions and all possible or actual states of affairs, aka, worlds. So, a world with God enfolds at least as potential, all possible worlds and all propositions. Truth, being accurate correspondence between what a proposition asserts and reality as it refers to, which may be abstract. As for distinct identity, any distinct possible world W can be distinguished from some near neighbour W’ as there is some distinguishing aspect A. So W = {A|~A}, i.e. no distinct world without distinct identity and its close corollaries LEM, LNC, and for that matter, the panoply of numbers all the way to the surreals. This can tie to coningency of being and cause as let there be some C that is in W but not W’, as W’ = (W – f), which blocks C. that is W = (W’ + f) => C, a contingent being, and f is an enabling causal factor. My symbols here may require development. KF

  107. 107
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: To help us probe deeper, it is advisable to examine a bit more on necessity of being and possible worlds. First, let me clip from Belief Net on Necessity of being:

    https://beliefmap.org/god-exists/necessary-being

    Does a necessary being (or thing) exist?
    Introduction
    Clarifying the question

    Modal logic is a standardized logic. It is taught in every major university and is used in many disciplines, especially computer science. It is a theorem in standard S5 modal logic that if something is possibly necessary, then it is actually necessary. So if a necessary entity is something that could even possibly exist, in this logical-metaphysical sense, then per this theorem, it actually does exist: in fact it has to exist.

    If that sounds weird at first, you’re not alone. This might help:

    Necessary truths vs. contingent truths
    Contrast necessary truths with contingent truths. For example, “Romney rather than Obama became the U.S. president” is false, but it is not necessarily false because if things had been different (which really could have been different), then Romney instead could have been president. “Romney became the U.S. president” just happens to be false. It’s contingently false. Contrast this with necessary truths like “No square-circles exist” or “1+1=2”. The latter is a mathematical truth, and all such truths are timeless and necessary. If 1+1=3 is false, then it is necessarily false and no possible change in the world could have made it true. Likewise, if it’s true, then it’s necessarily true.

    Epistemic possibility vs. Metaphysical possibility
    One open problem in mathematics is Golbach’s conjecture, that every even number equal to or greater than 4 is the sum of two prime numbers. From our perspective (i.e. epistemically), Golbach’s conjecture may be true or false. We don’t know! However, in reality (i.e. metaphysically) it has to be one or the other. And in fact, whichever it is, it is metaphysically necessary that it had to be that. [Note: When philosophers say something is “necessary” withouat a qualifier, they usually mean mean “metaphysically” necessary.]

    Putting it together
    How does this help us see that possibly necessary entails actually necessary? Well, recall again that if Golbach’s conjecture is true then it has to be true, because it is the kind of proposition that is necessarily true or necessarily false. In the same way, “God exists” is the kind of proposition that is necessarily true or necessarily false. Why? Because God is defined as a necessary being. That means that if theism is true, then “Necessarily, God exists”. By contrast, if theism is false, then “Necessarily, God does not exist”. So, “Theism is true” is very much like “Golbach’s conjecture is true”. We may not know whether it is true or false, but like 1+1=x, whatever the answer is, it metaphysically could not be otherwise. So if it is metaphysically possible that God does not exist, then necessarily God does exist. And if it is metaphysically possible that God exists, then metaphysically necessarily God exists.

    So the big debate today is over whether a necessary being like God is metaphysically possible. Traditional atheists say “no”, while traditional theists say “yes”.

    Of course, it is clear that God is a serious candidate necessary being, so atheists need to provide cogent arguments as to why they reject the serious candidacy [e.g. flying spaghetti monster analogies miss the point as such would be a composite entity, thus contingent], or else why they would hold God contingent [thus, dependent for existence on an external, enabling factor], or else why they consider God impossible of being [rather difficult, after Plantinga’s free will defence . . . as opposed to theodicy . . . which shows the theistic set to be coherent — arguably, God is not incoherent as a square circle would be].

    As fair comment, in much current discussion from atheists, we do not find such an approach.

    Next, there is of course the “alternative” definition of being without belief in God (or, possibly, as so strongly doubting as to set aside). We already saw at 11 above, that this is a problematic formulation, a psychological-internalist justification view that becomes problematic. The issue isn’t to report one’s internal state but whether such a state is well warranted objectively. Here, knowledge does involve belief but not only belief: warranted, credibly true (and by implication, reliable) belief. That then either reduces such “weak” atheism to agnosticism, or else to the standard form. Where, to warrant the claim that one knows that God is not is a serious and generally unmet challenge.

    Where, also, atheism is always part of a wider worldview (everyone has a worldview!), which given the human predicament inevitably comes with a cultural agenda. So, those outside of atheism have a legitimate interest in the question. And, every worldview faces the challenge of comparative difficulties.

    So, the challenge of addressing the issue that God is a serious candidate necessary being, needs to be seriously addressed. (I note, that a NB is not just to be seen as contrasted with contingent ones, but i/l/o why it is present in all possible worlds: it is a part of the framework for a world to exist.)

    KF

    PS: On the S5 axiom, I suggest we use the world-framework, serious candidate approach to NB’s to see why it makes sense. For, such a serious candidate if successful, would be part of the framework for ANY world to exist.

    (Think here of two-ness or duality. Any distinct world W has associated the contrast between some aspect A and whatever is ~A, duality and twoness are inevitable in any world. And as non-beinghas no causal powers, were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain. A world now is so something always was, i.e. reality cannot ever have been utter non-being and whatever is framework for any world to exist has always been and will never cease to be. Existence of a world entails that something is “forever,” eternal.)

    Now a serious candidate NB is not something patently impossible of being. Nor is it obviously contingent. So, if one objects to the candidacy, one needs to dig out how it may be impossible of being (as with a square circle: mutually inconsistent core characteristics) or else how it may be contingent: composite, dependent for existence on an external, enabling cause, having a beginning, coming to an end or the like.

    Where if a NB is possible, it would be actual were some possible world W actual. But, such a being is framework for any world to exist, so if possible at all then it would be in EVERY possible world, including any worlds that are actual. For a NB, if possible then actual, and given serious candidacy, if possibly necessary — i.e. [1] possible of being, [2] not merely contingent, [3] framework for any possible world — then actually necessary.

    Also, as framework for any world to exist, if a NB did not exist, then no world would exist, there would be utter non-being. So, as a world is, reality has always been non-empty, and all framework beings have always been. Thus too, that a world is and that some necessary world-framework being N is not stand in core contradiction. N cannot not exist, on pain of contradiction. The mere existence of a world entails that all NB’s exist.

    Moreover, if any contingent being C exists, it requires a world to exist in and so all NBs must also exist as framing the world in which C exists.

    These are strange thoughts, yes, but not empty ones. It is just, that they are unfamiliar given the emphases of current education and the public intellectual culture. For, logic of being is at a steep discount. Ill-advisedly.

  108. 108
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let’s move on to possible worlds, courtesy SEP:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/possible-worlds/

    Most of us also believe that things, as a whole, needn’t have been just as they are. Rather, things might have been different in countless ways, both trivial and profound. History, from the very beginning, could have unfolded quite other than it did in fact: the matter constituting a distant star might never have organized well enough to give light; species that survived might just as well have died off; battles won might have been lost; children born might never have been conceived and children never conceived might otherwise have been born. In any case, no matter how things had gone they would still have been part of a single, maximally inclusive, all-encompassing situation, a single world. Intuitively, then, the actual world of which Anne’s immediate situation is a part is only one among many possible worlds.

    The idea of possible worlds is evocative and appealing. However, possible worlds failed to gain any real traction among philosophers until the 1960s when they were invoked to provide the conceptual underpinnings of some powerful developments in modal logic. Only then did questions of their nature become a matter of the highest philosophical importance . . .

    In effect, a possible world, strictly, is a sufficiently complete description of the state of affairs of an actual world or a way an actual world might be (but may not be). That is, it is a set of propositions sufficiently describing the state of affairs in an actual world or a potentially actual world. In the case of an actual world, that sufficient, accurate description is what truth means: to say of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not. I use “sufficient” to avoid need for an infinite set of such propositions for practical purposes.

    One consequence of this when coupled to necessary beings is that if we set up an abstract logic-model world of structure and quantity, then identifying necessary beings in that system of Mathematics automatically extends that domain to the real world. In short, this stuff is as important and relevant as the all-pervasive power of mathematics and logic.

    Wikipedia is helpful in discussing possibility, necessity, contingency:

    Those theorists who use the concept of possible worlds consider the actual world in which we live to be one of the many possible worlds. For each distinct way the world could have been, there is said to be a distinct possible world. Among such theorists there is disagreement about the nature of possible worlds; their precise ontological status is disputed, and especially the difference, if any, in ontological status between the actual world and all the other possible worlds. One position on these matters is set forth in David Lewis’s modal realism (see below). There is a close relation between propositions and possible worlds. We note that every proposition is either true or false at any given possible world; then the modal status of a proposition is understood in terms of the worlds in which it is true and worlds in which it is false. The following are among the assertions we may now usefully make:

    True propositions are those that are true in the actual world (for example: “Richard Nixon became president in 1969”).
    False propositions are those that are false in the actual world (for example: “Ronald Reagan became president in 1969”). (Reagan did not run for president until 1976, and thus couldn’t possibly have been elected.)
    Possible propositions are those that are true in at least one possible world (for example: “Hubert Humphrey became president in 1969”). (Humphrey did run for president in 1968, and thus could have been elected.) This includes propositions which are necessarily true, in the sense below.
    Impossible propositions (or necessarily false propositions) are those that are true in no possible world (for example: “Melissa and Toby are taller than each other at the same time”).
    Necessarily true propositions (often simply called necessary propositions) are those that are true in all possible worlds (for example: “2 + 2 = 4”; “all bachelors are unmarried”).[1]
    Contingent propositions are those that are true in some possible worlds and false in others (for example: “Richard Nixon became president in 1969” is contingently true and “Hubert Humphrey became president in 1969” is contingently false).

    The idea of possible worlds is most commonly attributed to Gottfried Leibniz, who spoke of possible worlds as ideas in the mind of God and used the notion to argue that our actually created world must be “the best of all possible worlds”. Arthur Schopenhauer argued that on the contrary our world must be the worst of all possible worlds, because if it were only a little worse it could not continue to exist.[2]

    Scholars have found implicit earlier traces of the idea of possible worlds in the works of René Descartes,[3] a major influence on Leibniz, Al-Ghazali (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), Averroes (The Incoherence of the Incoherence),[4] Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (Matalib al-‘Aliya)[5] and John Duns Scotus.[4] The modern philosophical use of the notion was pioneered by David Lewis and Saul Kripke.

    This sets context.

    KF

  109. 109
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: One of the problems solved by understanding that NB’s are framework for any world, combined with seeing the need for a necessary being root of reality, is the relationship between God and NB abstracta such as numbers. Observe SEP on this:

    Historically, many theists have thought that anything that exists must depend on God for its existence. Call this the sovereignty-aseity intuition (see Plantinga 1980, Davison 1991, Davidson 1999). Abstract objects exist, and so they too must depend on God for their existence. But problems arise at this point (see, e.g., Leftow 1990, Wierenga 1998, Davidson 1999). Consider the following proposition, which seems clearly true:

    (1) Necessarily, x depends on y for its existence iff y were not to exist, neither would x.

    Now, consider the number four. If it depends on God for its existence, then the truth of Four exists depends counterfactually on the truth of the proposition God exists; if God exists were false, then Four exists would be false. According to the widely-accepted Lewis (1973) semantics for counterfactuals, any proposition is counterfactually implied by a necessarily false proposition. However, It is false that four exists is necessarily false, and thus counterfactually implies any proposition. So, it’s also true that if four didn’t exist, neither would God, and by (1) God depends on four for God’s existence. This dependence relationship is problematic; the dependence relation between God and abstracta should be asymmetrical if we are to understand the claim that God is the source of being for abstract objects.

    The error here, is to fail to see that if four does not exist, nothing would exist, as four is framework to any world existing. But while four, obviously, may constrain the logic of how things exist in a world [and so must exist in any world including that root world from which all of reality springs], it has no power to be the root of a world. That is, we must seek elsewhere for a necessary being world root.

    Where, God is a serious candidate to be that world root, the eternal independent being with wisdom and power to bring particular worlds into existence AND the power to contemplate all possible worlds (i.e. we see here a manifestation of omniscience). So, it is not that the existence of God depends on that of four-ness, but that God is the world root, the reason why reality always was and will be. In which domain, at least one world must exist, and a logic of being framework condition for any world is that the panoply of structure and quantity including numbers such as four, exists. Again, we see the error of separating God and reality frameworks, reminiscent of how the Euthyphro dilemma mistakenly severs God and goodness.

    Speaking of, one constraint on this world is that it has in it morally governed, rational (not merely computational) creatures — us.Where, that starts with mindedness, where our thought world is governed by inescapable duties to truth, right reason, prudence (thus, warrant), sound conscience, fairness, justice, etc. Thus, we operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap and that gap must be bridged.

    This can only be done at the root of reality, on pain of Hume’s ungrounded ought. Thus, we see a key characteristic of the required world-root: ability to ground ought. For that, there is, again, just one serious candidate. (If you doubt, just state __ and justify on comparative difficulties: _______ . Hint, much easier to assert than to do.)

    Namely, the inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature.

    This means that one who dismisses or so doubts as to find incredible the reality of God has serious worldview warrant challenges to face, to provide and justify on comparative difficulties, an alternative world-root adequate to ground mind, to ground its moral government and to ground a coherent world with us in it. The challenge requires stating an alternative world root: ____, warranting it on comparative difficulties: _____ and showing why it is warranted to dismiss the theistic contention that God is a serious candidate world-root necessary being ______ .

    It is fair comment for me to note that by and large this challenge has not been met by atheists, agnostics and fellow travellers. Where, no, naturalism (= evolutionary materialistic scientism) — never mind the lab coats, institutional and cultural dominance — does not make the grade. And, further fair comment, to not address this issue while confidently asserting atheism, agnosticism or naturalism and/or fellow travellers is to fail some fairly serious and readily recognised intellectual duties and duties to our civilisation.

    The challenge of worldview warrant is on the table.

    And yes, “if God exists were false, then Four exists would be false” is trivially true i/l/o the above: if God (the NB world-root) were not to exist, reality would not exist, there would be utter non-being, there would be no world and no such world would ever emerge from such utter non-being [which as no causal prowess to be a world root]; thus, perforce, fourness would not ever exist.

    The issue, then, is, who or what is that NB world-root, esp. in a world that includes morally governed, minded creatures — us.

  110. 110
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: As such root issues have emerged, I will shortly promote this to Logic and First Principles no 23. KF

    PS: Done.

  111. 111
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Wiki has a useful onward discussion on Possible Worlds:

    From this groundwork [of the apparatus of a modal logic calculus], the theory of possible worlds became a central part of many philosophical developments, from the 1960s onwards – including, most famously, the analysis of counterfactual conditionals in terms of “nearby possible worlds” developed by David Lewis and Robert Stalnaker. On this analysis, when we discuss what would happen if some set of conditions were the case, the truth of our claims is determined by what is true at the nearest possible world (or the set of nearest possible worlds) where the conditions obtain. (A possible world W1 is said to be near to another possible world W2 in respect of R to the degree that the same things happen in W1 and W2 in respect of R; the more different something happens in two possible worlds in a certain respect, the “further” they are from one another in that respect.) [–> Thus, we see a context for considering implication logic, Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens] Consider this conditional sentence: “If George W. Bush hadn’t become president of the U.S. in 2001, Al Gore would have.” The sentence would be taken to express a claim that could be reformulated as follows: “In all nearest worlds to our actual world (nearest in relevant respects) where George W. Bush didn’t become president of the U.S. in 2001, Al Gore became president of the U.S. then instead.” And on this interpretation of the sentence, if there is or are some nearest worlds to the actual world (nearest in relevant respects) where George W. Bush didn’t become president but Al Gore didn’t either, then the claim expressed by this counterfactual would be false.

    Today, possible worlds play a central role in many debates in philosophy, including especially debates over the Zombie Argument, and physicalism and supervenience in the philosophy of mind. Many debates in the philosophy of religion have been reawakened by the use of possible worlds. Intense debate has also emerged over the ontological status of possible worlds, provoked especially by David Lewis’s defense of modal realism, the doctrine that talk about “possible worlds” is best explained in terms of innumerable, really existing worlds beyond the one we live in. The fundamental question here is: given that modal logic works, and that some possible-worlds semantics for modal logic is correct, what has to be true of the world, and just what are these possible worlds that we range over in our interpretation of modal statements? Lewis argued that what we range over are real, concrete worlds that exist just as unequivocally as our actual world exists, but that are distinguished from the actual world simply by standing in no spatial, temporal, or causal relations with the actual world. (On Lewis’s account, the only “special” property that the actual world has is a relational one: that we are in it. This doctrine is called “the indexicality of actuality”: “actual” is a merely indexical term, like “now” and “here”.) Others, such as Robert Adams and William Lycan, reject Lewis’s picture as metaphysically extravagant, and suggest in its place an interpretation of possible worlds as consistent, maximally complete sets of descriptions of or propositions about the world, so that a “possible world” is conceived of as a complete description of a way the world could be – rather than a world that is that way. (Lewis describes their position, and similar positions such as those advocated by Alvin Plantinga and Peter Forrest, as “ersatz modal realism”, arguing that such theories try to get the benefits of possible worlds semantics for modal logic “on the cheap”, but that they ultimately fail to provide an adequate explanation.) Saul Kripke, in Naming and Necessity, took explicit issue with Lewis’s use of possible worlds semantics, and defended a stipulative account of possible worlds as purely formal (logical) entities rather than either really existent worlds or as some set of propositions or descriptions.

    Bring in the concept that Mathematical systems lay out abstract, logic model worlds, and that importance exponentiates.

    KF

  112. 112
    Seversky says:

    Silver Asiatic @ 99

    Seversky

    Anyone who states a definite claim, whether it is that God exists or it is that God does not exist, is obliged to provide argument and evidence to support that claim if and only if their purpose is to persuade an audience of the merits of that claim.

    Shouldn’t the person have the intellectual integrity to have argument and evidence so that he persuaded himself?

    I think so but that person is under no obligation to present them if the person is not concerned with what I think. By the same token, however, I am not obliged to believe a word the person says if he is not prepared to support his claims.

  113. 113
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF
    Thank you for the resources on logic and tools of rational thought.

    So the big debate today is over whether a necessary being like God is metaphysically possible. Traditional atheists say “no”, while traditional theists say “yes”.

    If atheists followed and agreed upon the argument given up to the point that statement was made, then they’d have to affirm that “it is impossible for God to exist”.

    I rarely see atheists say such a thing. But as the article states, to say “it is possible that God exists” is to affirm that God does necessarily exist.

  114. 114
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Seversky

    By the same token, however, I am not obliged to believe a word the person says if he is not prepared to support his claims.

    Agreed, but I think you would be obliged to make an honest response to the claims given, based on the amount of support offered. After that, I think also you’d be obliged to assign the proper weight to the options you have — so again, just honestly assessing them.
    For example, I have often heard (less so recently) “there is absolutely no evidence for the existence of God”.
    But that statement is not true. There is metaphysical, logical and testimonial evidence. ID gives scientific evidence.
    Yes, to say instead that there is “no compelling evidence” would be hard to argue against. The person has not been compelled by the evidence. But what would it take, for example in your case, to be compelled? We can’t really know that.

    Here’s where I’d say that you are obligated to set the standard of “what it takes for me to be compelled to believe something” at a reasonable, honest, balanced level. In other words, you already believe things based on more or less evidence. In those cases, you find the evidence compelling. For example, you believe that Socrates existed, or Julius Caesar. So, you have to honestly look at the evidence given in those cases and ask yourself why you accept it there, and not in cases regarding the existence of God. Have you judged both fairly?

    If not, I think you’re obliged to recognize the evidence given, state that it exists, evaluate its strength and seek for more knowledge where it is lacking.

  115. 115
    daveS says:

    SA,

    If atheists followed and agreed upon the argument given up to the point that statement was made, then they’d have to affirm that “it is impossible for God to exist”.

    I rarely see atheists say such a thing. But as the article states, to say “it is possible that God exists” is to affirm that God does necessarily exist.

    Phrases such as “X is possible” are used in different ways however. People often say such things to mean that they don’t know that X is impossible.

    If someone wrote down a 200-digit number that had no obvious small divisors and asked me if it was prime, I might say “it’s possible”, meaning it’s not obviously composite.

    Similarly, when I say “it’s possible” god could exist, I mean simply that I don’t know that it’s impossible.

    I also doubt that very few people are in a position to confidently assert that it is impossible for god to exist.

  116. 116
    daveS says:

    Correction to previous post:

    I also doubt that very many people are in a position to confidently assert that it is impossible for god to exist.

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, that God is a possible being [or is not possible of being] is not an epistemological issue but an ontological one. The key point is that God is a serious candidate necessary, world-root being, and that once such a being is not impossible it will be actual. So, if one rejects God, one either has to have reason to hold him impossible of being, or else to show that he is inherently contingent in some way so that while possible of being, in this particular world, there is no God or being similar to the God of ethical theism as corrected conceptually [ contingent not necessary as ____]because of given reasons. KF

  118. 118
    daveS says:

    KF,

    See epistemic possibility for an elaboration on what I’m saying.

    Edit:

    So, if one rejects God, one either has to have reason to hold him impossible of being, or else to show that he is inherently contingent in some way so that while possible of being, in this particular world, there is no God or being similar to the God of ethical theism as corrected conceptually [ contingent not necessary as ____]because of given reasons.

    I wouldn’t say I “reject” god. Rather, I haven’t found any evidence which I consider strong enough to convince me that s/he exists. And I’ve been looking for some time. At some point, I concluded that the god of Christianity probably doesn’t exist. Perhaps some more remote god which doesn’t make often make appearances in our world does exist, but I’m not so interested in such a being.

  119. 119
    daveS says:

    PS: And yes, if the god of Christianity does not exist, then that might imply that such a god is impossible. But I can’t prove that directly.

  120. 120
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I am busy right now but came by for a moment (there is no holiday here). Could you explain in outline what would count as evidence, and what would count as adequate evidence? KF

  121. 121
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, I think the logic of being issue is pivotal, both to understand why we need a root of reality and to understand what modes of being and non-being are about. The Russell-Copleston debate is already a strong sign of that. Looking around, I think that deep misunderstandings here are driving much of the trouble. I suspect, in particular, that we don’t understand necessary being and the need for a world-root. Further, we don’t understand the implications of moral government when seen in that context. Okay, back to RW. KF

  122. 122
    daveS says:

    KF,

    An obvious miracle, performed in front of me, occurring under controlled conditions, would suffice. For example, if someone could write down the factors of:

    6568401418247371894319742314514459270093103532728988929440326027487
    7697544787154583945508353272261577922955335759400908776955927363361
    2475356221411856908165688389290206004720145608187001144177506953960
    1278610639778177655067429242013437127323309976164029928439910852429
    1419892033111581055813777656351688061996559416142501663142642716294
    5541383560918659174457202189263769340595703211117586410478143758421
    8354927610187360316748190826098007066024833680159714606642922809108
    9866030330410946845403797055868891096320050975760356942906916432277
    1385901220369843038541922014887078333388967857631242346490654663

    within 15 minutes of being presented with that number, I would be convinced something paranormal had happened.

    Converting water to wine, levitating the Great Pyramid of Giza, causing the sun to remain motionless in the sky for 24 hours, these would all count as exceptionally strong evidence.

    Less dramatic examples would probably suffice as well, but I would have to judge them on a case-by-case basis.

  123. 123
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dave

    And yes, if the god of Christianity does not exist, then that might imply that such a god is impossible. But I can’t prove that directly.

    We say that “it’s possible” that the number you give is a prime number. We know something about numbers. They are defined as certain things. So, we know it is “not possible” that 1+1=3. But the 200-digit number you mention, “could possibly be a prime number”. We know that, because if certain conditions are met, then it falls in the realm of possibility.

    Let us imagine we have discovered the largest prime number so far. Whatever it is. Now, is it possible that there is another prime number larger than this, in the infinite set larger? There are a few answers:
    1. Yes, it is possible. But how do we know this? To say that it is possible is to say “yes the number exists”. Obviously, if such a number is definitely possible (that we know it is possible) in an infinite range of possibilities, then the number necessarily exists. We might say that “it is possible for the conditions that create a prime number to exist are present in an infinite string”. To me, that sounds reasonable. But it’s still a guess. I think it’s strongly-supported. In an infinite collection of numbers, would the conditions exist for a prime number to appear? Why would it be impossible for that to occur?
    2. We change the first assertion to, “It might be possible”. Given the range of numbers is infinite, would it seem a good guess that there is at least one more prime number larger than the largest we know of? I’d think so. So, it’s an educated guess. Probably the number exists.
    3. No, it is not possible. It’s impossible. As with #1 above, how do we know it? Why would we assert that it is impossible? In an infinite number of chances, a prime number would not appear? It doesn’t seem like a reasonable opinion to say that it is impossible.
    4. So, changing that we say it might be impossible. Ok, on what basis? There is an infinite set. Sure, there might not be another prime number. But why would we guess that there is no possibility for it? Out of the range of infinite numbers have we found the largest one possible? It’s still a guess, but is it reasonable?

    The same is with God. God is defined as absolute being, infinite and the fulfillment of all potentialities. So, God is like the infinite string of numbers in a completed infinite (a paradoxical term but we consider say the “infinite present absolute being with nothing partial or incomplete).
    To say “it is possible” that God exists is to accept that there are conditions under which God exists. The reason that doesn’t make any sense is because God, by definition, is the creator and fulfillment of all potential and all possibility. So, if God doesn’t exist, then it must be impossible for God to exist.
    But as above, that is a very difficult position to adopt. To say that God doesn’t exist is to state that God’s existence is impossible.

  124. 124
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dave

    Converting water to wine

    Why do you not accept testimonial evidence that this occurred? What is your explanation for why this story was written in the Gospel of John? Why do you give your interpretation more weight than the interpretation of those who believed it happened?

  125. 125
    daveS says:

    SA @124,

    Wouldn’t you find an in-person demonstration of the water to wine conversion more persuasive than a testimonial? I’m talking about running the demonstration in a laboratory setting where I could observe everything very closely visually and use instruments such as a mass spectrometer to analyze the water and wine.

  126. 126
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, notice, the clip at 107 above, on the difference between epistemic and ontological possibility of being:

    One open problem in mathematics is Golbach’s conjecture, that every even number equal to or greater than 4 is the sum of two prime numbers. From our perspective (i.e. epistemically), Golbach’s conjecture may be true or false. We don’t know! However, in reality (i.e. metaphysically) it has to be one or the other. And in fact, whichever it is, it is metaphysically necessary that it had to be that. [Note: When philosophers say something is “necessary” withouat a qualifier, they usually mean mean “metaphysically” necessary.]

    What is, is — regardless of whether or not we confidently know so on a warrant we trust for good reason. God, as understood through ethical theism (we are not yet up to scriptural tradition) is a serious candidate necessary being and world-root. There is no good reason to hold him contingent such that for some world W he would exist but in a close neighbour world W’ which lacks some enabling factor f so W’ = [W – f] antecedently, so consequently in W’ God is not. Nor is this a matter of arbitrary notions, as the domain of reality that hosts possible and so also actualised worlds, needs to have a necessary being world root. That was explored above.

    Therefore, we have good reason to see God as a serious candidate necessary being. Not contingent, and not credibly impossible of being. (If there were a credible argument for that post Plantinga, it would be all over the Internet.) Thus, credibly, there is a God, the necessary, inherently good world-root being who is creator of all actual worlds as well as contemplating all possible ones.

    There are many convergent lines of evidence pointing to the same conclusion. Where, too, we do not have a right to simply dismiss testimony and record. Though, we have duties to responsibly handle such.

    KF

  127. 127
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Several uses of “credibly” there. 😛

    Anyway, we each have to think for ourselves, ultimately.

  128. 128
    hazel says:

    re 123: Euclid proved long ago that the set of primes is infinite, and that there is no largest prime.

  129. 129
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, you have a built-in miracle already, your morally governed rationally inferring mind which demonstrably rises beyond what a computational substrate can do. It points definitively beyond a materialistic ontology and calls for an adequate root of reality adequate to ground ought. KF

  130. 130
    daveS says:

    KF,

    If the sun were to freeze in place for the next 24 hours, that would probably make the evening news. The ‘miracle’ you cite in #129? Probably not.

  131. 131
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dave

    Wouldn’t you find an in-person demonstration of the water to wine conversion more persuasive than a testimonial?

    Well, yes, but would I really need to go back through human history and personally witness every important event in order to have confidence in the testimonial evidence that has been handed down? I accept that Socrates lived, and he died as it was written. I accept that Julius Caesar was killed in a conspiracy by Brutus. Do you? On what basis do you accept or not? Is your view on this consistent with how you treat the gospel stories?
    Sure, I’d like to be there when it happened.

    But I’ll just add, on a personal note, the best way to witness something of a supernatural character, in your own life, is to experiment. Using scientific equipment to try to observe an immaterial phenomenon is not always the best. Science looks for physical evidence, and the immaterial is not physical.

    Instead, I’d suggest an experiment using spiritual equipment. Instead of a microscope, try prayer in a Catholic Church. Go to a church on off hours and sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament and pray for a while. Try to find something. I know you go to church already, but maybe try something different.

    I’m sure I am biased, because I see the immense benefits of belief in God in my own life, but if I was an atheist I would try anything I could to find God, as others would seem to have done. Again, the benefits of belief (and the true realization of God’s presence, not merely an imagination of illusion of such) are so overwhelmingly great and beautiful, available freely to anyone … why would I want to live without such a thing?

    For me, I would seek and seek for such a good thing, as I have already done in my life.
    And in the end, while it is not water turning to wine, I have seen a multitude of things, amazing and inexplicable in any other way, that confirm my belief.

  132. 132
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    If the sun were to freeze in place for the next 24 hours, that would probably make the evening news.

    What is your response to this?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun

  133. 133
    daveS says:

    SA,

    If I had witnessed it with my own eyes, then I might have found it convincing. I don’t think I understand precisely what happened though. Was the sun moving around in the sky? Or was it more of a colorful display? I wonder if someone has made a simulation of it which we can view.

    I would of course wonder why people around the world didn’t see the same thing; how could such a phenomenon be so localized?

    I have seen a few atmospheric phenomena, including a spectacular Fata Morgana, which it first seemed inexplicable. In the case of the Fata Morgana, I actually could not understand what I was looking at; eventually I realized it was snow-capped mountains in the distance, but wildly distorted. If I had to guess what actually happened at Fatima, I would bet on some unusual atmospheric effect.

  134. 134
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, that may say more about our media than about the force of the point. KF

    PS: You may note that generally speaking (as say science, history and other less than utterly certain things count as knowledge) knowledge is warranted, credibly true belief.

  135. 135
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    If I had to guess what actually happened at Fatima, I would bet on some unusual atmospheric effect.

    Ok, that was preceeded by three children telling people to come and expect something? I don’t think you’re taking in the details of what actually happened. But at least you’re giving some odds (betting against) that it was a supernatural event.

  136. 136
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    If I had witnessed it with my own eyes, then I might have found it convincing.

    Do you think anyone should believe you if you did actually witness it and were convinced and told them? Or should they assume, by default, that you were deceived (or perhaps worse, dishonest)?

    I will guess you didn’t like, understand, accept, agree with, want to deal with, or want to discuss my comments in 131.

  137. 137
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, I need to second that. For some years now I have noted on an incident I actually directly observed and another I experienced that is literally why I am alive today — two of many things I have observed or experienced. I find (and see with others) a standard dismissiveness that tells me we are dealing with a worldview filter that is selective and hyperskeptical. Ironically, with deep fake AI enhanced video (and doubtless photo and document) manipulation, we are going back to an era where the most reliable empirical evidence is again a credible eyewitness’ report, with no. 2 being a proper chain of custody record of same. Fake news and linked censorship backed by utterly reprobate-minded agit-prop just hit stratospheric possibilities. What we are seeing in the thread above is a wake-up call, especially as you had better believe that if the atheistical refutations of the reality of God were solid, this thread would be swarming with those from the objector penumbra eager to shove what is pointed out above back down our throats. The bad dog that didn’t charge in, barking, growling and biting tells its own story. KF

    PS: The fakery and manipulation to come will include alleged credible original documents promoted to undermine confidence in say the NT. Already, we saw the National Geographic’s promotion of the so-called Gospel of Judas and the ill-founded claims promoted by Dan Brown and his imitators.

  138. 138
    daveS says:

    SA,

    Sorry, I’m a little slammed today.

    Re: 131, I’m not a historian, but I accept that some historical or literary sources are reliable. Some aren’t. For example in one of the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, she states that a Native American ran a mile in under 3 minutes (there’s no way). Joseph Smith claimed to be able to translate ancient Egyptian documents into English, which turned out to be false. It’s likely that virtually all of L. Ron Hubbard’s writings on Xenu are rubbish.

    I’m not asserting that the Gospel of John is of similar quality, but I don’t assume every word of it is accurate either.

  139. 139
    daveS says:

    SA @ 136,

    If I claimed to have witnessed the sun dancing in the sky (so apparently moving in a very abnormal way), I would not expect anyone to believe me unless, say, a solar observatory could back me up. There is a lot of drug use and mental illness in my community, so I would expect people to hypothesize that I was hallucinating.

  140. 140
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the comparatives you made create an unjustifiable invidious association. You would be better advised to start with the known historical strength of the NT’s backbone books, Luke-Acts, and the links onward from there. KF

    PS: Speaking from the inside, I can see the way a dismissive hyperskeptical filter is being applied.

  141. 141
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    PS: Speaking from the inside, I can see the way a dismissive hyperskeptical filter is being applied.

    It was that obvious? Someone claims to know for a certainty that he is only alive because of God’s direct intervention, that he was witness to a levitation, even though the person was held down, that there were no recordings due to privacy rights, etc. Sorry, but somebody being skeptical of this is not dismissive hyperskepticism. It is just reasonable and rational doubt. The same reasonable and rational doubt that makes me question Bigfoot claims, and alien abduction claims, and vapour trail conspiracies, and pizza-gate…

  142. 142
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Didn’t you at some point say you believed that the birth certificate that Obama released was, if not faked, at least doctored so as to look like a fake? And that this was done to bait the birthers and make them look like fools?

    Now that’s hyperskepticism.

  143. 143
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, your twisted cynical words tell us all we need to know. You obviously refuse to report facts straight. That is sad, I suggest you think afresh and do better. KF

  144. 144
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I did use software that allows seeing layers in a PDF document, as I saw a claim somewhere to that effect and decided to check facts for myself. The WH released document had IIRC seven layers, it was not a simple scan of a document. As to what that means, that is another story; I suggested that it may well have been meant to draw in those who would focus on that, allowing themselves to be easily discredited through media message dominance — but then, I have seen some pretty ruthless agit prop in my time and so would be wary of something “obvious” like that; the resources to make a good fake would be available if that were intended so something that odd does not fit with an intent to simply pass off a fake as if real. Such an issue, however, is utterly irrelevant to what is on the table before us today; save that I just pointed to an unwarranted invidious comparison and it seems to be distractive and escalatory. It is further interesting that the focal issue in the OP and thread above, warrant i/l/o worldview and logic of being considerations connected to atheistical claims, still need to be dealt with fully. KF

  145. 145
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    You obviously refuse to report facts straight. That is sad, I suggest you think afresh and do better.

    What was there about my comment was inaccurate, and can be supported by something other than hearsay?

    BB, you have used half-reports and stitched together in a highly misleading fashion. That can be seen in part by scrolling up. You have been duly notified through this annotation — Thread Owner.

  146. 146
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    I’m not asserting that the Gospel of John is of similar quality, but I don’t assume every word of it is accurate either.

    It’s a strangely-worded response. It’s not that you don’t assume that every word is accurate, but that you reject the accuracy of, let’s say half or most of it. Certainly, you reject the primary claim, purpose and main theme of the gospels. I can only assume that you think they are of similar quality as L. Ron Hubbard’s writings. Otherwise, why mention him?
    But really, just forget it Dave. You’re not willing to treat the topic seriously, you’re not going to look into or explain your own beliefs on this matter and you are dismissive.
    That’s ok. I understand. I had to tease even that much of a response from you, and it’s not worth it.
    You present to me an intellect and attitude that is closed off. I see that as defensive. You’re protecting yourself. I hope there will be a time in your life when you’re willing to take a look. I’m not saying it’s easy. The time must be right in a person’s life.
    As I do with many people in my own life, I have to wait for that time and simply pray for it, and I will do that now.

  147. 147
    daveS says:

    Ok, thanks for the discussion, SA.

  148. 148
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    If I claimed to have witnessed the sun dancing in the sky (so apparently moving in a very abnormal way), I would not expect anyone to believe me …

    You wouldn’t expect any of the other 10,000 people who saw it to believe you? Strange.
    You’d expect everyone to assume that they were all called to an event by three children, stood in a field and all had a simultaneous hallucination.
    Ok, well I appreciate your reply.

  149. 149
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF
    That was insightful and helpful, thanks. Yes, I do not find it unusual that people have experienced very significant events as you mention. To assume that such people are mentally-ill is, as you say, hyperskeptical.
    Yes it’s interesting that fake photo evidence weakens that area for proof, and personal credibility remains strong.

  150. 150
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, sadly, we are at a very dangerous pass as a civilisation, and given the sort of fakery and cynically dismissive or tainting speculations we have already seen, I have cause to be very wary of the rise of deep fake capable AI. We are returning to the days when the word of a credible witness will be the most trustworthy evidence, closely followed by record of such coming from good custody. In that context, as one on the inside of cases — and there are many others who have similar experiences — it is illuminating to see the routine resort in answer to testimony and sound record. That bodes ill indeed for what is to come at the hands of the sort of agit prop operators known to be out there. KF

    PS: It is also interesting to look back across this thread to see who has been exploring and drawing out substance and who has not done a fair share of the work. Remember, atheism today ever so often poses as the bright, thinking, scientifically minded person’s natural viewpoint.

  151. 151
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    To assume that such people are mentally-ill is, as you say, hyperskeptical.

    To be fair, being skeptical is not the same as assuming that someone is mentally ill. I don’t doubt for a minute that KF believes that he is alive due to an intercession from god, or that he believes that he actually witnessed a levitation during an exorcism. But just because I think that he is wrong, as most rational thinkers would, does not mean that he is mentally ill. It just means that he may be mistaken.

    I’m sure that you have seen televangelist ministers (eg, Popoff, Bakker, Angley, etc. ) perform on TV. Their “healings” are obviously scams, but that doesn’t mean that the entire audience is mentally ill. Hopeful? Certainly. Easily mislead? Probably. Overly trusting? Yup. Wishful thinkers? Again, yup. Gullible? Perhaps.

  152. 152
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, your cynically dismissive reaction tells me a lot about how worldview blinding can lock out evidence. Perhaps, it escaped your notice that there were dozens of eyewitnesses to the relevant event, many of whom are still here four years later? I suspect you do not know that collective mutually consistent hallucination (on a matter that the officiating minister did NOT draw attention to) and other phenomena will be utterly implausible. That you immediately project “mistaken” (thus hallucination) is telling, you are seeking to dismiss what does not fit your expectations. Further, above, you failed to give the full picture: someone in a dead faint, pinned down to the ground at the pelvic girdle but elevated with the floor quite visible under by about 4″ (as was specifically noted above in reply to DS), something that repeated several times over a significant duration of time, indeed, several of us were exchanging glances as we saw the phenomenon repeat itself. Head and arms, limp. As one who was there I can use what I know I saw with a good number of others to evaluate the reactions, and the reactions are telling as noted. At this juncture, I need not elaborate on more, it is obvious that this case suffices to show how far too many atheists and others will respond to evidence that does not fit their preconceptions and biases. KF

  153. 153
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    Perhaps, it escaped your notice that there were dozens of eyewitnesses to the relevant event, many of whom are still here four years later?

    None of which have come forth to give us testimony here. This is what we have:

    1) you honestly believe that you witnessed a demonic possession that resulted in levitation.

    2) there were a dozen other people present when you witnessed this.

    3) none of these witnesses have provided independent testimony. All we have is your assertion that they saw exactly what you saw and believe as you do.

    4) we know that eyewitness testimony is incredibly unreliable.

    5) so, what we have is one eyewitness account, not thirteen.

    This reminds me of another claim that you have made. The one about there being 500 witnesses to Christ’s resurrection. When, in fact, there is only one main account of the 500 witnesses, by one person, written approximately 20 years after his death. That is one account, not 500. Now, that one account may be completely accurate, as yours may be, but it gains no more credence by saying there were a dozen other witnesses or 500, unless you can present twelve independent accounts (preferably documented) or 500, all you have is a single account.

    So, both accounts, have the same credibility (or less) than the eyewitness accounts of alien abduction. Alien abductions, by the way, have been claimed and documented by over a dozen people. Over a dozen independent and independently documented accounts. Unless you are willing to give the veracity of alien abduction equal credence than the veracity of your levitation account, then you are the one being selectively hyperskeptical.

  154. 154
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    But just because I think that he is wrong, as most rational thinkers would, does not mean that he is mentally ill.

    On a scale of 0-10, how would you rate your level of knowledge about exorcisms? 10 being you’ve read and studied and explored the topic extensively. Zero meaning you’ve never done serious research at all on the perspective of those who explain what they believe are real exorcisms? If it’s anything other than Zero, what books have you read?

  155. 155
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    sadly, we are at a very dangerous pass as a civilisation, and given the sort of fakery and cynically dismissive or tainting speculations we have already seen, I have cause to be very wary of the rise of deep fake capable AI.

    It’s an important point with relevance far beyond just the minor discussions we have here. I see this cynicism you speak of present throughout society. It’s a profound damage to the human soul. People are not able to contemplate the truth of things, or the beauty found in that. Cynicism blinds the mind and embitters the attitude. It becomes impossible for people to make the appropriate “response to values”. Our integrity, our greatest achievement as persons, is to respond with sincerity, openness and awe to that which has value. It is to appreciate the highest goods and treasure them – without skepticism or cynicism.

    It’s a sign of a corrupted society when people lose this character. It’s far worse now as I see even young children becoming skeptical of everything, and losing innocence of heart. It was cynicism, to a large extent, that contributed to the destruction of the Roman empire. Civilized values were not appreciated for what they are, so they were lost for many centuries and only recovered and rebuilt (to a greater extent) by a lot of effort.

  156. 156
    Brother Brian says:

    SA, I have not read any books on demonic possession or exorcism, other than fiction. I also have not read any books on zombies, angels and witches, other than fiction. In this case I think the burden of proof is on those who claim that demonic possession is real, not on those who don’t. So far, all KF has presented is that a person held down by the pelvis raised his torso. And 12 other anonymous people saw this miraculous event. And nobody took video (exorcism porn). Not exactly a compelling testimony.

    The question I have is how do you distinguish between mental illness, which afflicts a significant portion of humanity, and demonic possession?

  157. 157
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    The question I have is how do you distinguish between mental illness, which afflicts a significant portion of humanity, and demonic possession?

    There are a number of things that an exorcist looks for to make that distinction. I am speaking of Catholic exorcists who have a rigorous program of training on this. First, most claims of possession by persons turn out to be mental health issues. The first thing that occurs when a request is made to bring in an exorcist, is that a trained, professional (need not be a believer) psychiatrist is called in for evaluation. If the person responds well to medicine or other treatment, no exorcism is attempted. However when there is no response, or even adverse/unexpected responses to medicinal treatment, then more investigation continues. If a person has generally a positive attitude towards religion, for example, and yet in the possessed-state reacts violently towards religious symbols, this is an indication of demonic influence. Additionally, if a person exhibits super-human strength, impossible contortions of the body, voices not of their own, and the revelation of hidden knowledge (can be about things the exorcist has done in the past, or reading of minds, etc), then those are indications. If the exorcist experiences hostility when the prayers of exorcism are offered, this also is a sign that there is possession. Probably the biggest indicator is if the person has been active in occult practice or trying to conjure demons, various magical practices or spiritualism – those are, as exorcists explain, those tend to be what they look for in a diagnosis of possession. There are several other things they look for. As a validation, after the fact, if the exorcism eventually brings peace to the client (the possessed state leaves) then this is viewed as a confirmation of what happened.

  158. 158
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    you proceed to further show the real problems of selective hyperskepticism, likely driven by your obvious a priori commitment to evolutionary materialistic scientism. It is quite clear that you lack familiarity with the circumstances or facts but instantly choose to dismiss a report of an eyewitness [one of a significant number that were present] that does not fit your conceptions because in your view eyewitness testimony is “incredibly unreliable.” You just wrote off history, law, management, news-reporting, science and much more — all of which rely on eyewitness testimony and reports. Of course, a more balanced view will recognise principles of credibility and will further recognise that one’s own worldview or interests may inappropriately filter out what does not readily fit in. I suggest, you need to ponder on selective hyperskepticism and sound principles of evidence (cf. here on).

    (And BTW, the number of witnesses present was several dozen, and as there was a wider process, health care professionals were also involved; the non-medical nature of the root problem was readily recognised as a familiar problem here. I suggest that you find some Haitian Christians and have a serious, open-minded conversation with them about what happens with generational occult involvement — a typical context for the level of problem described.)

    I find it almost amusing that you cannot even bring yourself — after initial and supplementary information — to accurately summarise what was seen and described.

    Now, you then proceeded to try to dismiss the core gospel narrative and its central 500 witnesses in similar fashion — you were not even able to acknowledge that Paul summarised the official summary of the joint testimony of the 500 and named or identified up to about 20 (the leading witnesses), inviting the objectors he was addressing to speak with the then surviving majority of the 500; also noting on what we calculate today as the fulfillment of about 300 points of centuries old prophecies, cf Isa 52 – 53 for a particularly key case from c. 700 BC. I will only link on that, for those sufficiently open to evaluate responsibly to ponder for themselves. I do note, how the fallacy of selectively hyperskeptical closed mindedness undermines ability to be reasonable and responsible, but it can hardly be argued out of. As a rule, only shattering life experiences will sufficiently shake up the underlying a prioris and lead to serious worldview level re-thinking.

    Let me refocus the main theme in the thread, with the above exchange as a side-light. It should be obvious that one with the sort of locked-in mindset we saw will not be open to a worldviews level comparative difficulties analysis, nor can such a one be expected to accurately summarise what is argued, much less make a fair-minded cogent response on said issues of factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power. For example, having been shown a collection of Dictionary definitions of atheism, followed by a discussion informed by Buchner’s formulation of the currently promoted “weak atheism” (and fair comment on its defects), this was your immediate response:

    BB, 3: It seems to me that a Christian’s definition of an atheist carries as much weight as an atheist’s definition of a Christian.

    My response at 4 was warranted, and is now further warranted: “You would be well advised to attend to the identified responsibilities of worldview warrant. Your strawman caricature of standard dictionary understandings, the better to personalise and polarise, is duly noted.”

    I did not give a “Christian” report (the subtext of contempt is patent), but a summary of standard usage from what would be regarded as current, collegiate level dictionaries. I augmented from my knowledge of another presentation, tracing at least to the 1880’s. I pointed out the way that second approach is typically used (rhetorically), and its defects. Subsequently, I provided a discussion from SEP, which I have added to the OP; a discussion which parallels my experience.

    At no point above have you given a cogent, fair minded onward response, and the most recent exchange if anything underscores the problem. Indeed, what you proceeded to do is to suggest (in the teeth of manifest facts) that I do not understand what a strawman caricature is and then indirectly suggested that I have used such to inappropriately critique.

    Of course, at no point did you present an authoritative definition of atheism that corrects the dictionaries, Aveling’s report of his and Buchner’s discussion with Charles Darwin, the SEP, the Conservapedia discussion first introduced by DS and other things that could be adduced. That strongly suggests that you have had no cogent counter to the point that atheism is disbelief in God, as a part of a wider worldview or ideology, and that those who take it up typically imply or suggest that such rejection is warranted. The rhetorical stance, that a is privative not negative and that as atheists make no positive assertion they have no burden of worldview level warrant so can challenge theists to provide proof to their satisfaction fails. It further fails when we see the sort of selective hyperskepticism, evident lack of awareness and/or appreciation on logic of being and roots of reality issues that so often come out across the Internet (and even showed up in the famous Russell-Copleston debate of 1948) and the like.

    The balance on merits is clear, and not in your favour.

    I suggest, rethinking is in order.

    KF

  159. 159
    kairosfocus says:

    SA,

    Your summary of exorcist procedure is apt and relevant. I add, that demonic influence (direct and indirect) is far more widespread than actual demonisation. The old cartoon picture of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, though a myth, has a point.

    The wider issue of debasement and even reprobation of individual and general cultural mindset through pervasive hyperskepticism and cynicism is relevant. Ironically, that selectivity tied to polarisation then makes people hyper-credulous to those who tickle their itching ears with what they want to hear. So, we come to the crooked yardstick strategy of the agit prop operator: if such can induce us to swallow a crooked yardstick as standard of straightness, accuracy and uprightness, then when what is genuinely such comes along they will be rejected out of hand as they cannot fit with crookedness.

    The answer is plumbline, self-evident test truths and credible first principles that then allow us to compare what is naturally straight and upright (a plumbline) to what is crooked or not upright. Then, we can proceed to a sounder reformed view. But, some are so locked in that they will dismiss a plumbline bearing a message they do not wish to hear. Resemblance to what is happening all over our civilisation is NOT coincidental.

    KF

    PS: Observe where I start, here on in context.

  160. 160
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Webster’s 1828, showing a longstanding understanding:

    Atheism

    A’THEISM, noun The disbelief of the existence of a God, or Supreme intelligent Being.

    Atheism is a ferocious system that leaves nothing above us to excite awe, nor around us, to awaken tenderness.

    Merriam Webster reflects the recent advocacy:

    atheism noun
    athe·?ism | ??-th?-?i-z?m

    Definition of atheism

    1a : a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods
    b : a philosophical or religious position characterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods
    2 archaic : godlessness especially in conduct : ungodliness, wickedness

    The “lack of belief” claim is of course loaded. We live in a civilisation where theism is a major live option for worldviews. One who “lacks” belief in God does so through active choice to disbelieve, which rests on an explicit or implicit warrant. And, atheism is to be distinguished properly from Agnosticism, which through doubt about warrant leads to lack of belief clearly distinguishable from atheistical disbelief.

    Merriam-Webster:

    agnosticism noun
    ag·?nos·?ti·?cism | ag-?nä-st?-?si-z?m
    , ?g-
    Definition of agnosticism

    : an agnostic quality, state, or attitude:
    a : the view that any ultimate reality (such as a deity) is unknown and probably unknowable : a philosophical or religious position characterized by uncertainty about the existence of a god or any gods Religious agnosticism may accept the ethical value of a religious way of living and even endorse religious ideas as a viable basis for understanding various aspects of human existence.— Gary Gutting

    The degree of breakdown at work is visible in the same dictionary on theism:

    theism noun
    the·?ism | ?th?-?i-z?m

    Definition of theism

    : belief in the existence of a god or gods specifically : belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world

    Nope, “theism” is actually a short form of monotheism, and the choice of “a god” is diagnostic. When belief in many gods is intended [as notice my shift to common g] we speak of polytheism or henotheism. Such gods are of materially different ontological character than the God of ethical theism.

    Let me add, Webster’s 1913:

    Atheism

    A”the*ism (?), n. [Cf. F. athéisme. See Atheist.] 1. The disbelief or denial of the existence of a God, or supreme intelligent Being.

    Atheism is a ferocious system, that leaves nothing above us to excite awe, nor around us to awaken tenderness.
    R. Hall.

    Atheism and pantheism are often wrongly confounded.
    Shipley.

    2. Godlessness.

    The pivotal issue, clearly, is to soundly address logic of being and the linked question of the root of reality.

    KF

  161. 161
    daveS says:

    KF,

    The wider issue of debasement and even reprobation of individual and general cultural mindset through pervasive hyperskepticism and cynicism is relevant. Ironically, that selectivity tied to polarisation then makes people hyper-credulous to those who tickle their itching ears with what they want to hear. So, we come to the crooked yardstick strategy of the agit prop operator: if such can induce us to swallow a crooked yardstick as standard of straightness, accuracy and uprightness, then when what is genuinely such comes along they will be rejected out of hand as they cannot fit with crookedness.

    I for one don’t reject your levitation account out of hand, but rather file it under “accounts of extraordinary events which I did not witness”. Of course it could have been a case of genuine demonic possession.

    On the other hand, I have seen people make mistakes and misinterpret what is happening around them many times. Not once have I seen an events which suggests demonic possession, or anything else “paranormal”. Therefore, if I were forced to render a judgement of your account, I would reason inductively and conclude no demons were involved. But there is no need for me to render such a judgement, so I leave the matter open.

    If I had actually witnessed this event, then the situation would be quite different. If the levitation were “obvious” enough, then I could be convinced on the spot of the presence of paranormal activity. If this person were floating a meter off the floor, then the evidence is clear.

    I do think it’s odd that I have never witnessed any paranormal activity (assuming it exists). First, I’m a non-Christian who is curious about these things. I used to read books on the paranormal all the time. I have an aunt (almost the same age as me, so more like a cousin) who had a Ouija board and who would conduct quasi-seances when we were kids. It was entertaining, but I don’t recall anything unusual happening. I should be a magnet for demons, but for some reason they leave me alone.

  162. 162
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    The answer is plumbline, self-evident test truths and credible first principles that then allow us to compare what is naturally straight and upright (a plumbline) to what is crooked or not upright. Then, we can proceed to a sounder reformed view. But, some are so locked in that they will dismiss a plumbline bearing a message they do not wish to hear. Resemblance to what is happening all over our civilisation is NOT coincidental.

    Very good points. Truths and first principles are naturally straight, as you say. So, even these guidelines for human nature, have integrity. I just see a widespread corruption and degradation of humanity, however, and the goodness that is built-into nature itself, is twisted. I see the corruption in our culture as a reflection of damaged human-souls which have lost the innocence they should have. We are taught to believe that adulthood means cynicism and skepticism towards all things, but the fulfillment of adult maturity really is a deeper innocence, a more pure conscience and more robust virtue. We can see it in Socrates, Plato, Cicero … clarity of soul.
    Now, one may say that they were skeptical of false religious myths, but that’s not accurate. Instead of embittered despair towards everything good, which is what people today often have, the men of virtue were direct in their condemnations (not merely skeptical) and they forceably promoted what is good (virtue, honor and piety given to God).
    So, even without the beautiful teaching of Christ (so much more advanced), the philosophers could conform themselves to the truth of reality. They treasured the gift of rational intellect and held truth in the highest esteem. They responded to the values of goodness that they saw in the nature of things, and in their own nature – and proposed that God is the creator of them.

  163. 163
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    It was entertaining, but I don’t recall anything unusual happening. I should be a magnet for demons, but for some reason they leave me alone.

    It’s a paradox, but obvious manifestations of demonic activity in a person, or outright possession are not always simply a result of dabbling in superstition, or even of a sinful lifestyle. Demonic conflict can happen with people who are actually opposed to evil and are very virtuous. The case of Anneliese Michel (Emily Rose, as in the movie title) is one of those. In fact, she is being proposed for canonization as a saint.
    http://www.mysticsofthechurch......d-and.html

    A big question is “assuming demons exist and do such things, what is the purpose?” There are a number of things revealed by demons in the course of exorcism. One of the interesting things is that sometimes, they are compelled by God to reveal their very ugly, frightening and powerful nature. That is, they are compelled against their own desire or best interest, to show themselves. They would prefer to remain concealed. If a person does not detect the presence of evil, in himself or in society, for example – is this a good thing? Well, not really, because evil is actually very present in the world. We could start there. Would it be rational to live as a human being on this earth and have no recognition of the evil that is within it? No. It would be blindness. There is great injustice, suffering, starvation, violence, persecution, theft, corruption … all this calls for a response of opposition from our own goodness.
    And this is just talking about the evil in the world around us.

    What about the evil within ourselves? Is it rational or reasonable to imagine that we have no evil tendencies or that we never commit sins? Well, we can be blind to it. If there is a devil hoping to keep us in a state of oblivion, quieting our conscience, then being blind to our own evil and never recognizing demonic influence is the best thing for him to do.
    So, as our conscience becomes stronger and more pure through the practice of virtue, we become more aware of evil, not less. We become more sensitive to spiritual matters. When we do this, it becomes more clear that we are being pushed, shaped, tempted, opposed and confronted by evil that is not our own doing, not in our own interest. We set ourselves to do good, but the good is opposed even within us. Why?
    Well, I’m not saying that it is easy or obvious to detect this spiritual conflict. In cases of overt possession, it is more obvious, but those are more rare.
    I recommended the books by Amorth. Three (of many possible) biographies I’d recommend are those of Jean Vianney, Francesco Forgione … and the website I posted has a page on Gemma Galgani.
    http://www.stgemmagalgani.com/
    It’s worth the research.

  164. 164
    daveS says:

    SA,

    Thanks for the interesting perspective. One point that I believe you are making stands out: Demons prefer to remain hidden; in fact, they might see me as a “willing” host I suppose [or perhaps simply an ally], and therefore would not reveal themselves to me.

  165. 165
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    One point that I believe you are making stands out: Demons prefer to remain hidden; in fact, they might see me as a “willing” host I suppose [or perhaps simply an ally], and therefore would not reveal themselves to me.

    Yes, that’s what I’m saying and I realize that does not sound very considerate if I proposed such a thing to you, but I’d just speak of my own experience. If I grow lax in spiritual exercise or I start to excuse moral lapses, life seems easier, more comfortable. When I am pushing myself to get closer to God, there is more opposition. I am in no way saying that you are abnormally or hopelessly evil, being in the clutches of Satan. I’m saying that we all have this presence trying to move us on the path that is “wide and easy, and many people go there”. When we talk about demons, we are talking about Hell also. It all works together. There is a destination to our life. We have help from God towards one end-point, and help from demons towards the other.

    I’d suggest also that your interest in this topic, and you taking time to read what I say about it, is an indication of goodness from God in your life, opening up a different pathway of knowledge. While you have not experienced demonic influence, you may also not have experienced any spiritual awareness of God. A conflict between heaven and hell, good and evil, helps to put things in perspective.

    Another strange thing revealed by demons in possession is that while they prefer to be concealed, for reasons I gave, that’s not their ideal status. There is some humiliation involved in the idea that “I have to hide myself or else everyone would run from me”. For the demon, while it is necessary to hide to fulfill the goal (of capture) — it is far better and more desired, if possible, to be worshipped outright by humans. That’s really the goal.

    So, we hear of the sin of Idolatry. It is where people worship something other than God. An idea here is that the demon masquerades as something good. Glamor, money, power, pleasure. Humans give their attention and effort and interest. “Worship” of a sort. The demon is still hiding. However, a goal from this would be to have the human eventually establish a religion where the demon is worshipped openly, in all of his ugly splendor. So, something like Satanism would be an ideal here.

    So, it’s interesting. In cases of possession, where there is an overt combat, information is revealed that teaches us a lot about what this activity is all about.

  166. 166
    Silver Asiatic says:

    C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters is pretty interesting on this topic.

  167. 167
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I’ve been busy. I just note that the events we saw were quite strikingly clear. They are also not in my usual range of observations, so they were noteworthy. They for sure recalibrated my understanding of a lot of things including as I said Saturday morning cartoons. KF

    PS: I suggest, steer clear of Ouija boards and the like.

  168. 168
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, picking back up. I am convinced that as we learn to prize things like truth, right reason, prudence, justice, etc we will be blessed by the simple contemplation of the excellence of virtue. And as we turn to ponder the roots, that will lead us to the root of reality. A dingy, cynical, tainted, burnt out soul is not one rising to what it can be but one thwarted by vice. KF

  169. 169
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: One of the issues that may come up is modal logic and S5. Here, Wiki may help:

    Applications

    S5 is useful because it avoids superfluous iteration of qualifiers of different kinds. For example, under S5, if X is necessarily, possibly, necessarily, possibly true, then X is possibly true. Unbolded qualifiers before the final “possibly” are pruned in S5. While this is useful for keeping propositions reasonably short, it also might appear counter-intuitive in that, under S5, if something is possibly necessary, then it is necessary.

    Alvin Plantinga has argued that this feature of S5 is not, in fact, counter-intuitive. To justify, he reasons that if X is possibly necessary, it is necessary in at least one possible world; hence it is necessary in all possible worlds and thus is true in all possible worlds. Such reasoning underpins ‘modal’ formulations of the ontological argument.

    I would augment by an interpretation of necessity of being that takes away what may appear arbitrary. Why would a necessary being be present in all possible worlds? Because, it is an aspect of the framework for a world to exist.

    In this case, serious candidacy to be necessary can also be interpreted, as being one step short of being demonstrably possibly necessary. That is, there are no obvious obstacles, but it is not confidently established that the entity may not be impossible of being or else possible but contingent.

    Where, before being taken seriously, contingency has to be addressed.

    KF

  170. 170
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: What about “proofs” of God or arguments to God?

    Generally, we are taught that such arguments fail, and often some version of Aquinas’ arguments are used as the demonstration. Though, in some cases, there are errors in how such are put.

    My first problem is with the notion of proof, meaning an argument that starts from a universally accepted framework of premises then works, step by inexorable step to a conclusion. Sounds great, until we realise that post Godel, not even Mathematics fulfills this model.

    So, where are we?

    I think the debate moves to which set of premises we accept and/or to what is the best explanation on comparative difficulties. Which run across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power. (In turn, these require considerable unpacking.)

    Further, I think that we need to take the logic of being seriously, and where it points as regards candidates not possible of being, possible beings and of these, necessary vs. contingent ones. The issue of non-being comes up too, and we have the stark implication that were there ever utter nothing such would forever obtain. So, if a world now is, SOMETHING always was. We are debating across candidates to be such.

    This then sets the context for onward analysis.

    KF

  171. 171
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N What does it mean to be possible of existence and for a world to be possible?

    A possible world, for our considerations, is a collection of propositions that sufficiently describe how a world is or may be. If a world is, it is actualised, it is real and the sufficient description tells the truth about that world, describing it accurately. generally, such a world will have its own attributes and will contain beings and dynamics that are described in such propositions.

    Now, a candidate being B will have defining, constitutive characteristics c1, c2 . . . cn. If two such characteristics stand in mutual contradiction, B will be impossible of being. A circle is possible, a square is possible but a circle square is not. A possible world therefore can contain circles and squares etc but not circle squares.

    In a world, beings must be possible in themselves and must be mutually consistent, or the world, considered as a composite entity, will be similarly incoherent and impossible. Core logic and being are inseparable.

    The common attempt to suggest that phil is about empty words and speculations unconnected to reality, fails.

    Indeed, Metaphysics with its component Ontology — reality and being — are core to philosophy, and indeed to other domains of knowledge. Where, the identity-consistency (and linked excluded middle) issues we just saw mean that logic of being (ontology) is absolutely central.

    As to what breathes fire into the propositions and gives actuality of some form, we have a world all around us that is physically instantiated. Similarly, we could consider that a world of abstract entities has some semblance of reality if it is contemplated by some mind or even simulated on some computational substrate. Possible worlds speak is implicitly conditional on minds to conceive/contemplate and on the existence of a reality in which at least one world is actual.

    We have already seen that non-being is the true nothingness, and that if there ever were utter non-being, such would forever obtain, so if a world now is, some domain of reality always was and must contain at least one instantiated world, ours of course being case zero.

    We have also discussed that candidate beings fall into diverse categories, impossible of being [as described just above], and possible of being. Of the latter, some are contingent, existing in some possible worlds but not in close neighbour worlds, where a missing factor is such that they are not. For example, it is possible that Mrs Clinton could be president of the USA in a nearby world, had she won the Electoral College vote in 2016 for the USA. (That system was designed to block domination by populous states, currently forcing some 50 local elections and opening up some interesting possibilities for electoral outcomes, such as actually happened.)

    We therefore have identified that the present/missing factor involved in a contingent being being actual or not actual in a given world is a dynamically or logically necessary, enabling causal factor. There may be many such for a contingent entity such as a fire: heat, oxidiser, fuel, combustion chain reaction . . . and we have seen that fluorine gas can make a brick burn at white heat. for a contingent being CB to exist, a sufficient cluster of causal factors is required, including all such on/off enabling factors. Also, contingent beings therefore exist in at least one possible world but do not exist in at least one possible world.

    We may also contemplate necessary beings, which exist in all possible worlds — and so have no external, enabling on/off causal factors within worlds as then they would instead be contingent. What would such be?

    We have already seen how, for a world W to be distinct from a near neighbour W’ there has to be some distinct attribute A such that W = {A|~A}, and that this then establishes as close corollaries, 0, 1, 2 thus the panoply of numbers N, Z, Q, R, C and more, up to the hyperreals and surreals. Worlds implicitly establish the law of identity and its corollaries, thus necessarily contain transfinitely many entities, starting with the core entities of structure and quantity, which is why mathematics and logic are so powerful as tools of thought. Such entities are a part of the framework for any distinct world to exist and so are co-extensive with the domain of possible worlds in reality.

    This directly implies that necessary beings are without beginning nor can they cease from being. it also identifies that we can understand them (an unfamiliar concept to most educated people nowadays, and sometimes spoken against) as parts of the framework for any world to exist; noting that as reality is, at least one world exists.

    This then sets up a context to ponder on God as a serious candidate necessary being. Where, we seek a reality-root being that accounts inter alia for our credibly contingent world [think, Big Bang etc] and contingent beings in it including us — morally governed, rationally inferring creatures.

    Now, a serious candidate necessary being is either possible of being or impossible of being. If possible of being, then actual in at least one possible world, but as a necessary one, similarly framework for any world and so in all possible worlds including our own. Notice, possible worlds, not worlds we may imagine. Worlds that have to have in them a world root adequate for the worlds to exist and for at least one such world to have in it morally governed rational creatures, us. That points to an inherently good world root being with the wisdom and power to cause the existence of — create — all actual worlds, also to contemplate other possible worlds.

    And yes, that is close to the ethical theistic conception of God.

    Indeed, arguably, given the need to bridge the IS-OUGHT gap (only feasible at world-root, on pain of ungrounded ought), there is precisely one serious candidate after centuries of debates. Of course, if you deny, propose another ____ and cogently address comparative difficulties _______ . I freely summarise the candidate: the inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of our loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our evident morally governed nature.

    (Yes, this points onward to natural law implanted in us by creation order as free responsible rational creatures, as a guiding compass. Such starts with the inescapably evident duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence [so, to warrant], to sound conscience [the Lord’s candle within], to neighbourliness [so, the golden rule], to fairness and justice.)

    Finally, those who promote atheism and/or agnosticism [as opposed to mere doubt and lack of knowledge] therefore have a serious worldview warrant challenge. Including, if they reject or dismiss God, showing that God is not a serious candidate necessary being or that while he is, he is in fact impossible of being. Note,that maximal greatness implies, of possible beings, so for example, the idea of making a stone too heavy for God to lift and then using that to object to omnipotence, is an ill-founded objection. There are many others of like order.

    Let me add, from Catholic Enc, on omnipotence:

    Omnipotence is the power of God to effect whatever is not intrinsically impossible. These last words of the definition do not imply any imperfection, since a power that extends to every possibility must be perfect. The universality of the object of the Divine power is not merely relative but absolute, so that the true nature of omnipotence is not clearly expressed by saying that God can do all things that are possible to Him; it requires the further statement that all things are possible to God. The intrinsically impossible is the self-contradictory, and its mutually exclusive elements could result only in nothingness. “Hence,” says Thomas (Summa I, Q. xxv, a. 3), “it is more exact to say that the intrinsically impossible is incapable of production, than to say that God cannot produce it.” To include the contradictory within the range of omnipotence, as does the Calvinist Vorstius, is to acknowledge the absurd as an object of the Divine intellect, and nothingness as an object of the Divine will and power. “God can do all things the accomplishment of which is a manifestation of power,” says Hugh of St. Victor, “and He is almighty because He cannot be powerless” (De sacram., I, ii, 22).

    As intrinsically impossible must be classed:

    1 Any action on the part of God which would be out of harmony with His nature and attributes;

    2 Any action that would simultaneously connote mutually repellent elements, e.g. a square circle, an infinite creature, etc. . . .

    KF

  172. 172
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Yes, I know this is taking many of us into domains of thought that are strange indeed. Yes, strange but important (notice how the domains of mathematics and logic “naturally” emerge and are given powerful relevance as necessary entities corollary on there being a world with distinct identity) — blame the impoverishment of our current dumbed down education system that has so often robbed us of tools useful to think with. What are we going to do in a world where the UK has had to put in place a compulsory Computing curriculum from age 5 to survive competitively in the era ahead? At least, streaming, multimedia and even blog technology allow us to set up independent education. Here is a useful primer on modal logic: http://faculty.georgetown.edu/.....tledge.pdf and here is another: https://mally.stanford.edu/notes.pdf

  173. 173
    daveS says:

    SA,

    I’d suggest also that your interest in this topic, and you taking time to read what I say about it, is an indication of goodness from God in your life, opening up a different pathway of knowledge.

    That’s possible, although I might chalk it up to simple curiosity. I’ve always been interested in things that are completely outside my experience, but which other people firmly believe exist.

    As an example, my wife used to faithfully read every book in the Left Behind series when it came out. She felt that although it’s fiction, it probably is a fair depiction of what things will be like during the end times (I don’t know if she still holds those views). I found it to be quite incredible, in the literal sense, yet fascinating at the same time.

    This is when I learned that many Christians believe there are these tremendous battles going on between supernatural beings all the time, that dwarf anything you would read about in a science fiction novel. Anyway, it’s a radically different “model” from mine, so it probably opened my mind to how others think and helped me understand their views better.

  174. 174
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I suggest that the gift of mind and that of thirst to credibly know are just that, gifts. If you want evidence of a titanic spiritual war ranging from our hearts to our world, start by reading the White Rose pamphlets and comparing the Barmen declaration. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters against the backdrop of that same war. KF

  175. 175
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    I found it to be quite incredible, in the literal sense, yet fascinating at the same time.

    I agree with incredible, in the literal sense. I admire your willingness to read it. I just couldn’t bring myself to sit through even one in that series.

  176. 176
    daveS says:

    SA,

    Heh. To be clear, I actually didn’t read any of the books completely. I discussed them with my wife (very briefly) and read a little about them from other sources.

  177. 177
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    The issue of non-being comes up too, and we have the stark implication that were there ever utter nothing such would forever obtain. So, if a world now is, SOMETHING always was.

    That is a good starting point. There should be an agreement here, and then a conversation could go forward. However, I can imagine a hyper-skeptical approach that would even deny that initial point. It is like Krauss’ “universe from nothing”. To avoid having to affirm a universal conclusion, some magic is invoked or some irrational process.

  178. 178
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    you proceed to further show the real problems of selective hyperskepticism, likely driven by your obvious a priori commitment to evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    You keep misrepresenting my doubt of the actual “levitation” you refer to as hyperskepticism. You have presented one account of demonic possession, presented by someone who firmly believes in demonic possession. You claim that there were dozens of witnesses to this but are unable to link us to a single other account of this event. Surely you aren’t the only one on the island with internet access. My skepticism of what actually happened, not with your belief in what happened, is based on reason, logic and over 60 years of experience and observation.

    Let’s look at it from a different perspective. What if I said that I was abducted by aliens, taken into their spaceship, and probed? And what if I said that this event was witnessed by dozens of other people but that there were no videos taken, and I couldn’t provide any documented accounts from any of these witnesses? Would you be skeptical of the reality of my account? I am not asking if you thought that I believed it was true, I am asking if you would believe that it is true. And if you were skeptical, would I be justified to claim that you were being selectively hyperskeptical?

  179. 179
    kairosfocus says:

    SA,

    It is hard to deny that we live in a world with temporal-causal succession. At micro and macro [cosmological] scales, that points to heat death as energy concentrations dissipate, through the implications of thermodynamics. A beginningless temporal causal succession of the observed and hypothesised wider cosmos is not credible.

    The point above is that utter non-being cannot account for reality, and it implies that reality embeds eternality.

    That points beyond a matter-energy, space-time, temporal-causal order.

    That cannot be side-stepped, the underlying reasons are too general and are too empirically warranted.

    Evolutionary materialistic scientism has some fairly big questions to answer.

    KF

  180. 180
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    you immediately projected hallucination or other error, in ways that manifestly showed selectively hyperskeptical closed mindedness and refusal to acknowledge the significance of eyewitness testimony — as was shown by blanket dismissal. I speak as one of many eyewitnesses to something that obviously cuts across your worldview and your reaction was, it cannot be actually true.

    I just note, we did not see “demonic possession,” we saw a dead limp body elevated so that the well lighted ceramic tile floor underneath was visible; the elevation was not consistent with normal behaviour of bodies, and repeated several times across over an hour by my recall of duration.There was no trickery, there were no invisible wires etc, no attention was drawn to what was going on, the focus was on other things tied to helping the victim, there was a significant context that is consistent with occultic, demonic attack.

    I should add, there were and are dozens of eyewitnesses but we have not the slightest interest in entertaining media games given the sort of behaviours we have routinely seen. There is a victim, there is a family, there are various people here and in Antigua who were involved. We know what we dealt with and the hyperskeptical denial games that are so drearily familiar only tell us just how far off the rails our civilisation has gone. If you want a case with witnesses and media reports, one was linked above (also see here also here from BBC); notice the shocked police and health care officials who started with a child abuse assumption then changed their minds. Note, report that fresh battery recording devices mysteriously failed in that case, though there is now a linked recording. BTW, cases with large numbers of eyewitnesses go back across centuries, this is not utterly unknown.

    Indeed, for me it underscores how the discovery of coded language and algorithms in the heart of the cell can be taught in every high school while the obvious import of design is suppressed.

    As for an alien abduction, if a significant number of credible witnesses reported such, I would give consideration, though I suspect my first suspects would be closer to home, bearing familiar ugly alphabet-soup initials. If such known abusive and corrupt agencies with billion dollar resources were eliminated, I would be open to extra solar system agencies. Worse, I would not put a partnership with such beyond the usual suspects.

    As to your naive trust in videos etc, deep fakes using AI now exist, you need to drastically recalibrate your estimation of what evidence is credible. Especially with the next US election cycle on the table. I repeat, as at now, the credible eyewitness is again the gold standard.

    KF

    PS: I add, that my overall impression is that this is largely distractive from a very serious logic of being issue and linked challenge of worldview warrant faced by atheists, agnostics and fellow travellers including you.

  181. 181
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    you immediately projected hallucination or other error, in ways that manifestly showed selectively hyperskeptical closed mindedness and refusal to acknowledge the significance of eyewitness testimony…

    Suggesting error or misinterpretation is not hyperskepticism. It is simply a logical possibility given the lack of any other accounts of the event.

    As for an alien abduction, if a significant number of credible witnesses reported such, I would give consideration,…

    So, me telling you that there were dozens of witnesses is not enough? You expect witness reports? Why do I require a burden of proof that you do not?

    though I suspect my first suspects would be closer to home, bearing familiar ugly alphabet-soup initials.

    So, you suspecting another explanation is logical, rational and warranted, yet me suspecting another explanation is selective hyperskepticism. Why the double standard? We are either both skeptical for valid reasons or we are not.

    I repeat, as at now, the credible eyewitness is again the gold standard.

    Tell that to the thousands of people wrongfully convicted based on eyewitness testimony. Ask any prosecuting attorney, they will take hard evidence (including surveillance cameras) over eyewitness testimony any day.

  182. 182
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, I already pointed you to a 101 on evidence. I simply re-link — nah, let me also clip as a PS. It is clear that you wish to strain at a gnat while swallowing a camel. KF

    PS: From Simon Greenleaf:

    perhaps the list of time-tested, common-sense based principles of wise reasoning worked out in Courts of Law over the centuries and collected by Simon Greenleaf in his assessment of the testimony of the evangelists — cf. also his Evidence, Vols I, II and III [these, at Gutenberg] — may prove useful:

    1] THE ANCIENT DOCUMENTS RULE: Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise. [p.16.]

    2] Conversance: In matters of public and general interest, all persons must be presumed to be conversant, on the principle that individuals are presumed to be conversant with their own affairs. [p. 17.]

    3] On Inquiries and Reports: If [a report] were “the result of inquiries, made under competent public authority, concerning matters in which the public are concerned” it would . . . be legally admissible . . . To entitle such results, however, to our full confidence, it is not necessary that they be obtained under a legal commission; it is sufficient if the inquiry is gravely undertaken and pursued, by a person of competent intelligence, sagacity and integrity. The request of a person in authority, or a desire to serve the public, are, to all moral intents, as sufficient a motive as a legal commission. [p. 25.]

    4] Probability of Truthfulness: In trials of fact, by oral testimony, the proper inquiry is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but whether there is a sufficient probability that it is true. [p. 28.]

    5] Criteria of Proof: A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence. By competent evidence is meant such as the nature of the thing to be proved requires; and by satisfactory evidence is meant that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond any reasonable doubt. [pp. 28 – 9.]

    6] Credibility of Witnesses: In the absence of circumstances which generate suspicion, every witness is to be presumed credible, until the contrary is shown; the burden of impeaching his credibility lying on the objector. [p. 29]

    7] Credit due to testimony: The credit due to the testimony of witnesses depends upon, firstly, their honesty; secondly, their ability; thirdly, their number and the consistency of their testimony; fourthly, the conformity of their testimony with experience; and fifthly, the coincidence of their testimony with collateral circumstances. [p.31.]

    8] Ability of a Witness to speak truth: the ability of a witness to speak the truth depends on the opportunities which he has had for observing the facts, the accuracy of his powers of discerning, and the faithfulness of his memory in retaining the facts, once observed and known . . . It is always to be presumed that men are honest, and of sound mind, and of the average and ordinary degree of intelligence . . . Whenever an objection is raised in opposition to ordinary presumptions of law, or to the ordiary experience of mankind, the burden of proof is devolved on the objector. [pp. 33 – 4.]

    9] Internal coherence and external corroboration: Every event which actually transpires has its appropriate relation and place in the vast complication of circumstances, of which the affairs of men consist; it owes its origin to the events which have preceded it, it is intimately connected with all others which occur at the same time and place, and often with those of remote regions, and in its turn gives birth to numberless others which succeed. In all this almost inconceivable contexture, and seeming discord, there is perfect harmony; and while the fact, which really happened, tallies exactly with every other contemporaneous incident, related to it in the remotest degree, it is not possible for the wit of man to invent a story, which, if closely compared with the actual occurrences of the same time and place, may not be shown to be false. [p. 39.]

    10] Marks of false vs true testimony: a false witness will not willingly detail any circumstances in which his testimony will be open to contradiction, nor multiply them where there is a danger of his being detected by a comparison of them with other accounts, equally circumstantial . . . Therefore, it is, that variety and minuteness of detail are usually regarded as certain test[s] of sincerity, if the story, in the circumstances related, is of a nature capable of easy refutation, if it were false . . . . [False witnesses] are often copious and even profuse in their statements, as far as these may have been previously fabricated, and in relation to the principal matter; but beyond this, all will be reserved and meagre, from fear of detection . . . in the testimony of the true witness there is a visible and striking naturalness of manner, and an unaffected readiness and copiousness in the detail of circumstances, as well in one part of the narrative as another, and evidently without the least regard to the facility or difficulty of verification or detection . . . the increased number of witnesses to circumstances, and the increased number of circumstances themselves, all tend to increase the probability of detection if the witnesses are false . . . Thus the force of circumstantial evidence is found to depend on the number of particulars involved in the narrative; the difficulty of fabricating them all, if false, and the great facility of detection; the nature of the circumstances to be compared, and from which the dates and other facts to are be collected; the intricacy of the comparison; the number of intermediate steps in the process of deduction; and the circuity of the investigation. The more largely the narrative partake[s] of these characteristics, the further it will be found removed from all suspicion of contrivance or design, and the more profoundly the mind will rest in the conviction of its truth. [pp. 39 – 40.]

    11] Procedure: let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances.[p. 42.]

    Here, we supplement: J W Montgomery observes of the NT accounts — and following the McCloskey and Schoenberg framework for detecting perjury — that the modern approach to assessing quality of such testimony focusses on identifying internal and external defects in the testimony and the witness:

    (a) Internal defects in the witness himself refer to any personal characteristics or past history tending to show that the “witness is inherently untrustworthy, unreliable, or undependable.”

    (b) But perhaps the apostolic witnesses suffered from external defects, that is, “motives to falsify”?

    (c) Turning now to the testimony itself, we must ask if the New Testament writings are internally inconsistent or self-contradictory.

    (d) Finally, what about external defects in the testimony itself, i.e., inconsistencies between the New Testament accounts and what we know to be the case from archaeology or extra-biblical historical records?

    –> In each case, the answer is in favour of the quality of the NT, as can be observed here.

    12] The degree of coherence expected of true witnesses: substantial truth, under circumstantial variety. There is enough of discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them, and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction, as the events actually occurred. [p.34. All cites from The Testimony of the Evangelists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics, 1995).]

  183. 183
    Brother Brian says:

    KF@182, you have a knack for avoiding questions that you can’t answer without conceding your opponent’s point. Let’s try again, using numbering that you are so fond of.

    1) you claim that I am being selectively hyperskeptical about your account of levitation because I suggest that there might be another explanation.

    2) the only evidence we have is your account and your claim that there were dozens of other witnesses.

    3) you have not provided any reports from these dozens of witnesses.

    4) you suggest that there might be a non-alien explanation for my claim of alien abduction, witnessed by dozens of people.

    5) you suggest that you might consider my claim dependent on the reports from the dozens of witnesses I claim witnessed my abduction.

    Why am I hyperskeptical but you are not? The evidence for both is identical. One claim each with a claim of dozens of witnesses each. Neither have provided witness reports.

  184. 184
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, I could waste time on a distraction that I know from the inside is barking up the wrong tree (where on track record no correction will ever suffice, save to spin out further distractions) or I could issue a correction and return to focus. BTW, I also find your not so subtle insinuation that I am lying or grossly deluded is seriously out of order. I am returning the thread to focus, having issued a correction by way of laying out principles of evidence you were pointed to by way of a link but obviously ignored. KF

  185. 185
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    BB, I could waste time on a distraction…

    Translation: I can’t justify why BB is hyperskeptical and I am not, and I can’t admit that I was in error, so I will attack the motivations of BB.

    [–> you have immediately, consistently reacted to eyewitness testimony with arguments that fail to address how the quality of such testimony can be evaluated. You also fail to realise that recording devices etc can also be problematic and dependent on eyewitness evidence, chain of custody etc. I took time to link and to actually provide a useful summary but you continued, now turning to a turnabout ad hominem. It is you who directly implied above, more than once, that I am a liar or utterly delusional. Stop it.]

    BTW, I also find your not so subtle insinuation that I am lying or grossly deluded is seriously out of order.

    I have never said that you were grossly deluded or lying. [–> direct implication, cf several times above.]

    I even stated a couple times that I think that you firmly believe what you claim to have seen. All I have suggested is that there might be another explanation

    [–> i.e, I am deluded, the lying part is on my report of a large number of other witnesses which you immediately and repeatedly dismissed by oh no it’s just one. We were not born yesterday.]

    and that you might have misinterpreted what you saw. [–> I did not misinterpret nor did the others who were there, you jump to self-serving conclusions and imply I lied when I spoke of others who were there] That you take this as a personal insult says more about you than it does about me

    [–> Really, you are deluded and/or a liar, how dare you take that as uncivil and object.]

  186. 186
    Brother Brian says:

    SA, thank you for the description of demonic possession. Very interesting.

    But KF’s comment about having a discussion with Haitian Christians peaked by curiosity. Why would Haitian Christians have more insight into demonic possession than any other Christian community? [–> Because of a national circumstance tied to their history] Is it possible that communities that repeatedly warn about demons and demonic possession report higher incidents due to a self-fulfilling prophecy? [–> there you go on projections of delusion again. Go speak to those with significant experience and evaluate them in light of sound principles of evidence] Are they more willing to ascribe uncharacteristic or undesired behaviours from loved ones to demonic possession than those less immersed in that community? [–> You are already dismissing before you hear what sort of cases and experiences will be reported, when actually it is fairly easy to find reports of practising, trained exorcists] And, throughout history, how many schizophrenics have been “diagnosed” as being possessed? [–> the delusion thesis again. Schizophrenia etc do not confer abilities to speak in never learned languages, or to reveal secrets, or superhuman physical power or levitation and many other observed and recorded phenomena. You also conveniently leave out why psychiatric or psychological professionals are in fact often brought in to help evaluate cases before concluding that this is demonisation not mere mental illness. I trust this will be enough correction to now allow the thread to refocus on a major worldview issue.]

  187. 187
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Having already pointed out worldview considerations and the issue that on significant issues there are no universally accepted “proofs,” I now want to highlight some approaches to modal-ontological discussions regarding God. Where, such are in the context that we need a necessary being root of reality.

    Here, I first focus Vladimir Šuši?, who has put up a useful discussion, pivoting on the concept of maximal greatness. I intend to use this, in part, to show the differences in my own discussion. I think that interleaving comments in square brackets will prove useful:

    One often highly overlooked and rarely used argument is the Modal Ontological Argument.

    The reason why the Modal Ontological Argument (from now referred to as the MOA) is rarely used is not because it is in some way flawed or unsubstantiated, but because the concepts it is making use of [–> which originally emerged in part with Aristotle but were developed across C20 as first implication logic was elucidated and now have been extended to all sorts of similar issues] are often very hard for most people to grasp.

    [–> we are poorly educated on logic of being and linked ideas]

    The Craig/Plantinga argument goes like this:

    1 It is possible that God [–> the theistic candidate world-root being] (the Maximally Great Being [–> which requires necessity of being]) exists
    2 If it is possible that God exists, then God exists in some possible worlds [–> definition]
    3 If God exists in some possible worlds, then God exists in all possible worlds [–> God is necessary]
    4 If God exists in all possible worlds, then God exists in the actual world
    _____________
    5 (C) God therefore exists.

    Now, most people when they look at this argument usually “scratch their head and walk away”. The purpose of this article will be to explain the underlying concepts of the argument in the simplest ways possible and then address commonly raised objections, from both people who do not, and those that do understand its concepts.

    Firstly, the argument makes extensive use of Modal Logic. In simplest terms, Modal Logic usually deals with possibility, impossibility and necessity of beings. For this purpose, a “being” is simply defined as some conceivable concept, thing or person, whether such a being is possible, impossible or necessary.

    To explain this further, in Modal Logic, there exists a semantic of what we would call “possible worlds”. A possible world is simply defined as a conceivable world ruled by the laws of logic. An actual world, the world we live in is also a possible world, it can be conceived and it is ruled by the laws of logic. A possible world is not some universe, region of space or anything like that, although such beings can exist in possible worlds . . . .

    [L]et’s further expound on what kinds of beings we can have in Modal Logic. As hinted above, there exist 3 kinds of such beings:

    a Impossible beings: These are the beings that could not exist in any possible world. Examples would include square circles, four sided triangles, married bachelors etc. Such beings are plainly illogical and thus could not exist in any possible world.

    [–> Where, we may consider from the angle of candidate beings which, due to internal contradictions of core characteristics cannot exist in any world]

    b Possible (or Contingent) beings: These are the beings that could exist in some possible worlds but do not exist in others. Examples would include unicorns, humans, cars, planets etc. We can easily conceive of worlds with or without such beings. [–> note above on causal factors enabling such]

    c Necessary beings: These are the beings that must exist in every possible world such as for example numbers and mathematical axioms (if they have concrete existence), laws of logic etc.

    Anything that could, could not, does or does not exist can be put in these 3 categories. [–> exhaustive listing by analysis of alternatives] Thus the question arises, in which one do we put God?

    God is properly defined as a Maximally Great Being. A Maximally Great Being would be the greatest conceivable being. A Maximally Great Being is an Omnipotent (All Powerful), Omniscient (All Knowing), Morally Perfect being that Necessarily exists. [–> note, candidacy issue]

    Now, why would it be the case that if God exists in a single possible world he exists in all of them?

    [–> see why it is important to identify that NB’s are framework for a world to exist and are independent of on/off enabling causes]

    Join me now, in trying to conceive a being that would possess the Maximallity of Great Making Properties, let us try to conceive of THE Maximally Great Being.

    We can conceive of a variety of beings in possible worlds, but if we ought conceive of THE Maximally Great Being, we have to assign it certain specific attributes.

    It is certainly a great making property to be maximally powerful, as such, a Maximally Great Being, ought have maximal power, that is, Omnipotence.

    It is also certainly a great making property to know all things that can possibly be known, as such, a Maximally Great Being, ought have maximal knowledge, that is, Omniscience.

    It is also certainly a great making property for one’s nature to represent THE Moral Standard of conduct, as such, a Maximally Great Being, ought be Morally Perfect.

    [–> Note, my discussion on our being morally governed and how this requires a bridge between IS and OUGHT only feasible in the root of reality. So we need an inherently good, utterly wise world-root being]

    Certainly, all of this is the case, but could we conceive of even a greater being, than the one who possesses these 3 Great Making Properties? Well, we think one can indeed do that.

    [–> this is an unfolding of maximal greatness, with necessity of being as key, where we need a necessary world root being]

    If we ought talk of a Maximally Great Being, an attribute that one cannot fail to exist would also most certainly be great making. As such, an attribute of Necessity has to be added.

    [–> I think, coming from this end, it may seem arbitrary, but considering the need for an adequate world root, and seeing that there are world framework beings, that arbitrariness is removed]

    Now, if this is the case, what changes? Well, if there exists, in one possible world, a being that cannot fail to exist, then necessarily, by the implications of its existence in a single possible world, which grants it possibility of existence, such a being has to exist in all possible worlds, as it is necessary. If it failed to exist in all possible worlds, it couldn’t exist in the single possible world we originally conceived of it in, since its attribute of necessity would not be exemplified, and as such we would not have this being. If this being is possible in a single possible world, it means that its attribute, of “cannot fail to exist” is validated, and as such, implies its existence in all possible worlds. (This paragraph is the key to understanding the argument and ought be reread and studied several times).

    Of course, if God is not possible, then he cannot exist.

    [–> implies a challenge to show the idea of God being considered is incoherent. A contingent being is causally dependent on an external, enabling factor or factors and so cannot be a necessary being world root]

    Norman Malcolm correctly stated that God is either Impossible or Necessary. He CAN NOT be simply Possible.

    This is thus the very climax of the MOA: You either have to demonstrate that God is Impossible, or accept that God exists, and exists necessarily.

    [–> once you recognise that a panoply of possible worlds is conceivable and that reality requires a necessary being world root]

    So, I am not outright rejecting this argument but consider that as here formulated — a fairly typical case — it lacks a wider context that removes a sense of arbitrariness often asserted as defining God into existence and concluding, he exists.

    The in-short is, premise 1 does the heavy lifting and needs to be well buttressed: “It is possible that God [–> the theistic candidate world-root being] (the Maximally Great Being [–> which requires necessity of being]) exists.”

    I think it is seriously arguable that reality requires a necessary being world root. In a world that includes morally governed creatures, such needs to be inherently good. Also, a serious candidate necessary being is either impossible of being or else if possible then framework for any world to exist thus actual as a world exists.

    The issue is to provide these prior, background considerations, or the skeletal argument will seem arbitrary. Unfortunately, this is not a day that is patient of such detailed case-making.

    I note from later:

    in the words of Shaun Doyle of CMI . . . “Many people when they hear “It’s possible that God doesn’t exist” don’t hear what the first premise is actually positing. They hear things like “As far as I know, God might not exist” or “God could’ve existed, but doesn’t actually exist”. Neither of these are right; the first is an issue of what we know, not an issue of what’s really possible, and the second makes God out to be a contingent being, which is nonsense. Rather, it’s asserting that ‘God’ possibly can’t exist, like how we could assert that ‘married bachelors’ possibly can’t exist. Remember that part of the definition of ‘God’ these arguments work with is that ‘God’ cannot fail to exist. In other words, the first premise isn’t simply asserting the idea that God might exist, but doesn’t actually exist; it’s asserting that the concept of God is possibly incoherent.” (1)

    The confusion of epistemology for ontology is a serious problem indeed, and this is about dialectics, not rhetoric. We need to first appreciate the logic of being and its power, hence my approach above. Then, we need to recognise why we need a necessary world-root being and why that needs to ground moral government.

    In that context, we need to realise that our reasoning is itself morally governed.

    KF

  188. 188
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    SA, thank you for the description of demonic possession. Very interesting.

    I’m glad you found it interesting. I suggested more reading for you. This is another one that addresses some of the questions you have.

    https://heroicvirtuecreations.com/2015/07/06/a-new-demonology-book-discerns-demon-possession-or-mental-illness/

  189. 189
    Brother Brian says:

    SA@88, thank you. I promise to read it. I don’t promise to accept it, but, baby steps. 🙂

  190. 190
    Brother Brian says:

    KF@185 & 186, thank you for the childish insertions in my comments. I would complain but I think that they make my case far more than they make yours. I am happy to let the readers decide on their own.

  191. 191
    Seversky says:

    Kairosfocus @ 98
    I had intended to offer a few comments earlier but was diverted by other interests and only just remembered.

    First, with all due respect, Lord Russell makes a telling error of misconcept regarding logic of being; one that BTW seems quite common. One, that reflects just how unphilosophical our age is.

    Hera, Zeus et al simply are not in the same ontological status as the God who is the root of reality, a necessary, maximally great being. They are clearly contingent, second order candidate beings.

    I would argue that the conceptual differences between the Greek and Christian versions of gods has no bearing whether they have any existence other than in human imagination. All that matters in both cases is whether the arguments and evidence that can be presented in either case is sufficient to warrant belief in either.

    And in fact he is wrong regarding how he addresses their existence or possible existence: there is no reason why superhuman, capricious and too often outright evil entities might not exist, standing behind the myths, statues and temples. (We would call such by another name today, demons — as the early Christians did. The myths, statues and buildings in themselves are of little import, but that behind such, very real and in the end destructive entities might stand, should not be dismissed without thought. We should at least be open to that in our day, given, say, a Hitler . . . as the White Rose martyrs warned at cost of their lives. But that is utterly different from there being a finitely remote necessary being root of reality adequate to ground a world inhabited by free, rational [not merely computational] morally governed, choosing creatures such as we are..

    I think we can all allow that both the Christian God and the Greek pantheon are at least possibilities. But so are a giant Matrix-like AI or even that the Dark Lord Sauron is real and not just a figment of Tolkien’s imagination. The question is how do we decide between them? What evidence, if any, might we expect to find if any of them is real?

    The problem with the argument for God as the Uncaused First Cause (UFC) is that it appears arbitrary. If everything we observe of this Universe is caused then why should we assume that either this Universe or a Creator is uncaused? The only reason seems to be that the alternative, an infinitely regressive chain of causation, is even more unacceptable.

    As I see it, both the UFC and the infinite regress are problematic. It’s a bit like the problem in physics of trying to reconcile relativity and quantum theories. Both are astoundingly successful in their respective domains but, however good they are, they must also both be incomplete. My suspicion is that we are still missing something, maybe a whole lot of something, so the best we can say is that we still have a whole lot of unanswered questions.

  192. 192
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    I admire your willingness to read it! Yes, if I was in your shoes I’d approach with skepticism also, so it makes sense. But even without accepting what is proposed, you’ll have a good knowledge about how people address the problem.

  193. 193
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev:

    Lord Russell’s error amounted to a misunderstanding of class of being, where it is highly material that worlds require necessary, world-root beings to explain their existence. The gods of the Greeks are contingent, God is at minimum a serious candidate necessary, world root being. Where, necessity of being is highly relevant to existence: a serious candidate necessary being either is impossible of being (as a square circle is) or else it is present as part of the framework for any world to exist. Thus, the difference between being contingent and necessary has significant bearing on the matter of evaluating evidence — not merely empirical, observed physical data — as to existence.

    In short, you too have made the same error Lord Russell did.

    Second, you conflate two senses of possibilities: epistemic and ontological. In the case of a serious candidate necessary being, if it is possible of being, it is therefore present as part of the framework for any world to exist and is actual. So, one either shows that such a proposed entity is at best contingent or else if it is indeed a serious candidate necessary being, that it is impossible of being if one wishes to dismiss it. As an example, two-ness is an inherent part of world-frameworks. Try to imagine a world in which the number two or distinction [A vs ~A] does not exist or comes into existence at some moment or ceases from existence at some particular point; immediately, absurd — two-ness is framework to any distinct world and is not dependent on an external on/off enabling cause. That illustrates some of the difference we are speaking of.

    With contingent beings, such are causally dependent on external on/off enabling factors and so will be present in particular worlds but absent in near-neighbour ones where relevant factors block them.

    It seems, you are overlooking the difference between the more familiar contingency of being and necessary being.

    This is not arbitrary, once one understands that a contingent entity cannot be a root of reality, but only part of a going concern world that manifests a chain of temporal-causal succession. Which, in a world of thermodynamics, cannot continue autonomously without limit as there is the problem of heat death due to degradation of energy concentrations. In short, starting with thermodynamics, our world’s temporal-causal succession cannot have credibly extended to now from a beginningless past as we have not reached heat death. That is before we face the challenge that a transfinite succession of finite duration stages is implicitly or explicitly an infeasible supertask.

    The physical world’s past is credibly finite, even if one projects back beyond a big bang.

    This does put on the table a need for a finitely remote world root adequate to sustain the world we experience.

    Such includes that we are morally governed rational creatures. Rationality that makes reasoned insight based inferences inherently cannot be accounted for on any computational substrate (which is a dynamic-stochastic rather than rational, insight-based system). Similarly, that rationality is inescapably morally governed through duties to truth, right reason, prudence, sound conscience, fairness, justice etc. Thus, we operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap and on pain of reduction to grand delusion, that gap must be bridged. Such is only possible in the world-root, requiring that such be inherently good.

    In short, these and other lines of evidence point to a necessary being world root with key characteristics of God.

    KF

  194. 194
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let us observe Plato in The Laws BkX:

    Ath. . . . 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. 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.]

  195. 195
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Modal Logic Tutorial, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FacUHU_gjPw

    This draws out from K to D or T/M then S4 and S5 which allow reduction of modal strings, S5 being in effect, cut down to the last modal operator before a claim A. Also, the route from T/M via S4 + B –> S5, is explored. B is the difference between S4 and S5. Let’s use for convenience N: and P: for necessity and possibility, and use –> for it follows logically that.

    We may now portray:

    Preliminarily, we see a symmetry

    N:A –> ~P: ~A (If A is necessary, it is not possible that it is not present in any possible world)

    where also

    P:A –> ~N: ~A (If A is possible, it is not necessary that ~A obtains, there is at least one possible world with A)

    K, take propositional calculus and augment:
    Necessitation Rule: If A is a theorem of K, then so is N:A. (theorems hold necessarily)
    Distribution Axiom: N:( A –> B) –> (N:A –>N: B). ( if it is necessary that if A then B, then if necessarily A, then necessarily B)

    D: N:A –> P:A (if A is necessary, then it is possible — it is in all worlds so it is in at least one world)

    T/M, adds N:A –> A (if A is necessary then it is actual, it is in any actual world)

    S4: N:A –> N:N: A (And the same for P:)

    B: A –> N: P: A (what is the case is necessarily possible . . . if something is actual, it must be possible)

    S5: P:A –> N: P:A (And vice versa If possible then necessarily possible, also if necessary then possibly necessary)

    –> These are successively stronger reduction rules, chains of the same kind are reducible to the last, and chains of diverse kind are reducible to the last.

    S5 of course entails that

    P:N:A –> N:A

    If it is possible that A holds necessarily, A holds necessarily. This means that ontological possibility is the pivot for addressing a serious candidate necessary fact/claim/truth/entity.

    Because of its strength, it has been challenged, starting with being counter-intuitive. As we saw from a Wiki clip, possible worlds speak allows us to draw out plausibility:

    Applications

    S5 is useful because it avoids superfluous iteration of qualifiers of different kinds. For example, under S5, if X is necessarily, possibly, necessarily, possibly true, then X is possibly true. Unbolded qualifiers before the final “possibly” are pruned in S5. While this is useful for keeping propositions reasonably short, it also might appear counter-intuitive in that, under S5, if something is possibly necessary, then it is necessary.

    Alvin Plantinga has argued that this feature of S5 is not, in fact, counter-intuitive. To justify, he reasons that if X is possibly necessary, it is necessary in at least one possible world; hence it is necessary in all possible worlds and thus is true in all possible worlds. Such reasoning underpins ‘modal’ formulations of the ontological argument.

    All of this makes more clear sense in the possible worlds frame, where a possible entity would exist were a certain relevant world actualised. A necessary entity will exist in any possible world if it were actualised. Of course, a contingent entity C would exist in a certain world W but not in another closely neighbouring one W’ that lacks a certain antecedent factor f. That is, f is an enabling on/off causal factor for C. Exploratorily, I suggest this can be represented:

    Ant: W’ = (W-f)
    Conseq: W’ –> ~C
    Ant: W, Conseq: W –> C

    (Think, fires and the need for fuel, oxidiser, a combustion chain reaction and heat.)

    We then see that necessary entities can be identified as framework requisites for a world to exist. That’s a best, non-arbitrary explanation for why they are present in any possible world, W. W being distinct from near-neighbour W’ means some aspect A is unique to W. We may partition W = {A|~A} which structurally draws out nullity, the bar is empty, two distinct unities A simple and ~A complex. Thus too, duality. Further, from distinct identity, no x in W is both A and ~A by dichotomy, also no x in W is neither A or ~A by exhaustion of contents. From 0, 1, 2 we may proceed via von Neumann’s construction etc to numbers: N, Z, Q, R, C etc. This illustrates how necessary beings are part of a world framework. This also points to the power of logic and mathematics in any world.

    A world-root entity, given temporal-causal order, would be a necessary being adequate to ground the world causally. Where, as non-being has no causal power were there ever utter nothing such would forever obtain. Also, circular causation would require that a thing cause the chain leading to itself before it exists so this is a non-starter. Accordingly, if a world now is, SOMETHING always was with adequate causal capacity to account for the domain of reality involving at least one actual world — ours.

    Given that we are rational and morally governed starting with that morality, adequate root cause requires ability to sustain moral government. This requires inherent goodness.

    Further, if a world root entity always was, it is eternal, where its independence of being [aseity] means that in any time in any world, it is.

    These are familiar characteristics.

    Further, an inherently good being with world building power has undiluted untainted goodness, pointing to not only being the most powerful but the best, greatest actual entity.

    This sets up discussion on what it means to be a maximally great being.

    (Note, necessity of being is plausibly greater than contingency, so the characteristic of greatness to maximal degree is suggestive of necessity of being, thence partly characterising world-root being where an actual world has rational, morally governed creatures — us.)

    KF

  196. 196
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let’s use Susic’s summary on the reverse modal argument, to bring out one aspect of the logic of being problem:

    Some Atheists, sadly, even from the more Philosophical spectrums, have undertaken on themselves to make a caricature out of the MOA by attempting to reverse it against the position of Theism.

    Namely, their argument would go like this:

    1: It is possible that God (the Maximally Great Being) does not exist [–> so either contingent or impossible, but the concept of God inherently claims necessary so this implies not necessary]
    2: If it is possible that God does not exist, then God does not exist in some possible worlds
    3: If God does not exist in some possible worlds, then God does not exist in any possible worlds [–> this is using the fact that God is claimed to be a necessary being!]
    4: If God does not exist in any possible worlds, then God does not exist in the actual world
    _________________
    (C) God therefore does not exist

    An obvious problem with this argument is in its very first premise. To state that it is possible that God does not exist is to state that in fact, God is illogical.

    We can see the contradiction introduced by begging the question at 1 against being necessary then using necessary at 3.

    But then, could God be present in some worlds but not others, i.e. contingent? This means there is some factor f that f–> OFF for W’ then no God in W’ but f –> ON for W then God is W. This is immediately opposed to what theists understand by speaking of God. God is not a dependent being.

    So, the issue will pivot on God as a serious candidate necessary being. Possible beings are contingent or necessary so if God is not plausibly contingent God must be regarded as a candidate to be necessary. God, not being a silly conception, is a serious candidate to be the necessary being world root where at least one world has in it morally governed creatures.

    So, to assert that God possibly does not exist (which means, does not exist in at least one world) is tantamount to saying God is impossible of being as say a square circle is. No, we are not saying one is ignorant of or doubtful about God so for all one knows he may not exist. That’s epistemic not ontological.

    Those who suggest such need to provide a warrant for such impossibility: ______ .

    Which brings us full circle to the warrant challenge faced by atheists, agnostics and fellow travellers.

    It also brings the key issue into sharp focus: plausibility of competing major worldview claims. Which is more plausible, that God is a serious candidate necessary being and possibly exists or God [as understood by informed theists] is impossible of being.

    If you say the latter, why.

    KF

  197. 197
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let me add, WLC:

    https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/does-the-ontological-argument-beg-the-question

    The whole point of the ontological argument is to show that in asserting the possibility of the existence of a maximally great being one has committed oneself to its actual existence. The nature of a deductive argument is that the conclusion is implicit, stashed away, as it were, in the premises, waiting to be made explicit by means of the logical rules of inference. One typically believes that P: N: G without first believing that N: G; at least one needn’t first believe that N: G and then on that basis infer that P: N: G. One’s modal intuitions may support the belief that P: N: G, and then one may realize that that is logically equivalent to and so [–> after steps of modal logic informed inference] entails that N: G, and so one comes to believe that a maximally great being exists.

    In a nutshell: the logical equivalence of the conclusion of the ontological argument to its first premiss just shows that it’s a valid deductive argument, not that it’s question–begging.

    As for the atheist’s retort that it’s not self-contradictory to say, “God does not exist,” this is irrelevant because the argument is framed in terms of broadly logical possibility/necessity, not narrowly or strictly logical possibility/necessity. There’s no contradiction in asserting “The Prime Minister is a prime number,”[–> sounds like a theme for a legally themed sci fi short story: In Planet Legandia, the Prime Minister under law is a prime number. Maybe then, used to encode authentication of decisions and laws . . . ] but that hardly shows that such a statement is possibly true in the relevant sense (that there is a possible world in which that statement is true). The atheist has to maintain that the idea of maximal greatness is broadly logically incoherent, like the idea of a married bachelor. But the idea of maximal greatness seems perfectly coherent and therefore possible—which entails that maximal greatness is exemplified!

    PPS: Test ??G — confirms, symbols diamond and box or square fail to come through.

  198. 198
    daveS says:

    KF,

    You can use:

    & #x25a1; for □

    & #x25c7; for ◇

    (But with no space between the & and #).

  199. 199
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, thanks. KF

  200. 200
    daveS says:

    KF,

    There are all sorts of things that could go awry in this discussion of maximally great beings.

    It assumes that the collection of beings is at least a partially ordered set under this “greatness” relation. What is the procedure we use to compare the “greatness” of two beings? For example, a fir tree and a slug? Or Miley Cyrus and the number represented by π? Etc.

    Perhaps there is no maximally great being, just as there is no maximal element in the set (0, 1).

    Perhaps all beings have equal greatness (in which every being is a maximally great being, which is not very interesting).

  201. 201
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I must refresh memories on the issue of moral evidence on matters of fact, record, report, chain of custody etc, thus rhetorical proof to moral certainty, from Simon Greenleaf in his treatise on Evidence:

    Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction. [–> that is, his focus is on the logic of good support for in principle uncertain conclusions, i.e. in the modern sense, inductive logic and reasoning in real world, momentous contexts with potentially serious consequences.]

    Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd. [–> the issue of warrant to moral certainty, beyond reasonable doubt; and the contrasted absurdity of selective hyperskepticism.]

    The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them. [–> moral certainty standard, and this is for the proverbial man in the Clapham bus stop, not some clever determined advocate or skeptic motivated not to see or assent to what is warranted.]

    The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved. [–> pistis enters; we might as well learn the underlying classical Greek word that addresses the three levers of persuasion, pathos- ethos- logos and its extension to address worldview level warranted faith-commitment and confident trust on good grounding, through the impact of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in C1 as was energised by the 500 key witnesses.]

    By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind [–> in British usage, the man in the Clapham bus stop], beyond reasonable doubt.

    The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal [–> and responsible] test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest.

    [= definition of moral certainty as a balanced unprejudiced judgement beyond reasonable, responsible doubt. Obviously, i/l/o wider concerns, while scientific facts as actually observed may meet this standard, scientific explanatory frameworks such as hypotheses, models, laws and theories cannot as they are necessarily provisional and in many cases have had to be materially modified, substantially re-interpreted to the point of implied modification, or outright replaced; so a modicum of prudent caution is warranted in such contexts — explanatory frameworks are empirically reliable so far on various tests, not utterly certain. Morally certain facts of observation and experience in our common world are not necessary truths.]

    [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]

    Humbling, but realistic.

    KF

  202. 202
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I will of course be going on to look at what greatness of being entails, here excellencies. Recall, this is in the context of a world-root necessary being adequate to ground moral government, thus inherently, utterly, through and through good and wise. KF

  203. 203
    Brother Brian says:

    SA, wrt your link, I didn’t realize that it was a review of a book. The following only reflects my view of what was written in the review, my view might be very different if I read the book. If I can find it in my local library, I will check it out.

    In our modern times it is en vogue to explain away demon possession in ancient times and in the present day to mere mental disorders.

    But Fr. Driscoll explains that that is simply not an acceptable belief as a Christian.

    I found this an interesting phrase. If I read this right, a Christian is obligated to believe in demonic possession, which many do not.

    It also talks about possession being rare but demonic temptations are not. How is this any different than being tempted by our base animal instincts (our inner demons). Is he suggesting that “real” demons are responsible for my lust or my greed? Or is this simply a metaphor? I would argue that these “temptations” are nothing more than the result of us not being as far separated from our animal cousins as we would like to think we are.

    That leaves actual possession, presumably exhibited by KF’s levitation example. When we give in to our temptations, we are held morally and legally accountable. But if our acts are due to mental illness (insanity in the legal sense) we don’t hold these people morally or legally accountable. I assume that the same applies to acts conducted under demonic possession. I would argue that the best explanation for what we have historically attributed to possession is mental illness.

    When I read KF’s example, I was struck by the similarity to an epileptic (or similar) seizure. Seizures which, by the way, were often ascribed to demonic possession.

    [–> Another mis-description. NOT grand mal or petit mal seizure or the like — and health services personnel dealing with wider circumstances of the case readily recognised a somewhat familiar, distinct phenomenon in this region: you need a Pastor as in for exorcism. Dead limp faint, not convulsions or the like. You are force-fitting to a procrustean bed, again.]

  204. 204
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    I found this an interesting phrase. If I read this right, a Christian is obligated to believe in demonic possession, which many do not.

    Yes, true. Christians often propose conflicting beliefs on very serious questions. I have argued elsewhere on this site that if Christianity is a subjective, individualized religion (where anyone can interpret the Bible as they see fit) then the term Christianity has no real meaning. In my faith tradition, there are authoritative leaders and teachers who speak for what Christianity is, so we are not permitted to just have our own opinions on what beliefs to accept.

    It also talks about possession being rare but demonic temptations are not. How is this any different than being tempted by our base animal instincts (our inner demons). Is he suggesting that “real” demons are responsible for my lust or my greed? Or is this simply a metaphor? I would argue that these “temptations” are nothing more than the result of us not being as far separated from our animal cousins as we would like to think we are.

    Great question and insights. Yes, the most common temptations come from our animal instincts. We have bad habits, inclinations to lust, greed, selfishness – and the demons (wanting to remain hidden) do not need to intervene if we continually slip down into these sins. Usually, it is when we start making an effort towards moral goodness that we can notice unusual temptations that do not come from our own inner desires. In fact, demonic activity is most easily evidenced in the lives of people who are really striving and successful in virtuous living and in spiritual excellence – they’ll experience strong temptations coming “out of nowhere”. That’s one of those indicators. But you’re correct, most of the temptations we face are just the normal things that occur because of our weakness. The Gospel speaks of three sources of temptation: The world, the flesh and the devil. The world is the instincts of other people and our desire to join the crowd. So, those two, the world and our own animal-flesh so to speak, are the majority of temptation. The devil comes in later, again especially when temptation is the last thing we want in our life.

    That leaves actual possession, presumably exhibited by KF’s levitation example. When we give in to our temptations, we are held morally and legally accountable. But if our acts are due to mental illness (insanity in the legal sense) we don’t hold these people morally or legally accountable. I assume that the same applies to acts conducted under demonic possession. I would argue that the best explanation for what we have historically attributed to possession is mental illness.

    Possession is rare, but it exists. Yes, some medical conditions were misinterpreted as demonic presence. Also, importantly, you’re correct – possession is not necessarily an indication of a moral or sinful disorder in the possessed person. As I mentioned to DaveS, the heroine of the movie “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” (true story) suffered a very severe possession and she was totally aware of what was going on. She accepted all of that pain for the benefit of other people. She was in no way guilty, or in any way desiring demonic influence. In fact, her cause for canonization as a saint has been proposed in the Church. So as above, demonic activity that is overt like that, where people can see what demons are doing, is not desired by the demons. It’s like an act of despair, a last resort, to attack and create fear. But demons are more willing to remain hidden, and also to simply allow animal-nature to do the work of putting the person in a condition of sin, from which the person cannot (or without very significant effort) escape. It’s that kind of “possession” that is the thing to really dread.

    When I read KF’s example, I was struck by the similarity to an epileptic (or similar) seizure. Seizures which, by the way, were often ascribed to demonic possession.

    Yes, but if you look at cases of real possession, the movements of the human body and many other aspects, go far beyond what we would see in a seizure. But yes, sometimes especially in the past, seizures were misinterpreted as demonic attacks.

    [–> Another case I know through the victim’s own description was repeatedly misdiagnosed by Parsons disbelieving in demonisation as mental illness — yes, misdiagnosis or rather assumptions can and do go the other way. When the victim finally found people to help, said had experiences of observing [rather slender] arms move under another control, and tossing grown men across a room. For decades since, has been an outstanding Christian person and scholar.]

  205. 205
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    What is the procedure we use to compare the “greatness” of two beings? For example, a fir tree and a slug? Or Miley Cyrus and the number represented by ?? Etc.

    We compare against what we would consider “absolute being” which would be the perfection and fullness of being.

    Perhaps all beings have equal greatness (in which every being is a maximally great being, which is not very interesting).

    That’s where many of us have a problem with Darwinism. In that view, all beings have equal greatness. We cannot distinguish a difference in value of a slug from a human being. Some will object and say that humans have greater “utilitarian” value, or perhaps that we just see greater value in humans because we are biased towards them.

  206. 206
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Rational intelligence is required to understand the world, engage in thought, have conversations and to create good things by design (to make use of powers that are latent in natural resources to create beauty, food, shelter, protection and even help other species).

    So, beings with rational intelligence has a greater value than beings that lack it. A maximally great being would have maximally great intelligence. The maximally greatest intelligence would be that which possesses all possible knowledge without any deprivation, lack or potential for ignorance or mistake.

    We can judge that on a hierarchy of perfection. The greatest possible intelligence would be that which has nothing lacking to it.

  207. 207
    Brother Brian says:

    SA, it is obvious that neither of us is likely to convince the other of the existence or non-existence of demons, but I do thank you for putting in the effort to explain your views. But a couple things you said jumped out at me.

    Usually, it is when we start making an effort towards moral goodness that we can notice unusual temptations that do not come from our own inner desires.

    Could you provide some examples. I’m not sure what you mean by “our own inner desires”. My inner desires would include things like sex, wealth, revenge, power, unending pleasure, adoration, etc., regardless of the consequences to others. Thankfully, I have been able to keep these desires in check. Were you referring to something else?

    In fact, demonic activity is most easily evidenced in the lives of people who are really striving and successful in virtuous living and in spiritual excellence – they’ll experience strong temptations coming “out of nowhere”.

    Would this not be the natural consequence of intentionally depriving ourselves of things that we know would give us personal pleasure? For example, I have not eaten dessert in several years and every now and then I get this strong urge for a bowl of ice-cream. I would never consider this temptation to be demonic in nature.

  208. 208
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    First, note that our context starts with our need to recognise the force and relevance of the logic of being (and non-being). In that context, of possible beings, we have the contingent (which we saw depend on enabling, on/off causal factors which is why they are present/absent in W/W’ as discussed) and the necessary, which are present in every possible world. Why is that? Ans: they are part of the framework for a world to exist, and on the premise that utter-non-being could not lead to a world, reality has always contained at least an independent root of being. Where, in a world with morally governed creatures, that world root will be inherently good (as was also discussed).

    In that context, the theistic concept of God is non-arbitrary, it is a serious candidate to be that world-root necessary being. Where, too, such a candidate either is impossible of being or else it is actual. Here, actual as world-root.

    Now, your concern is along the lines of there being no definable highest finite number. So, you suggest a rank-order of “greatness” which has no defined upper limit. For every being k, there is a place for k+1, k+2 etc. But, what does that mean (other than oddly echoing the Gnostic conception of cosmic order)?

    First, that there is a ranking principle, so that for every being, k, there is a defect in greatness so it is exceeded. In short, finitude is exceeded and non-maximal. With the case of the open interval (0,1) there is no defined particular greatest value but why the OPEN interval? Close on the upward side at 1 and there is. Where also, every number from 1 upwards has an image under 1/x in the range (0, 1] including the transfinite hyperreals with infinitesimal images closer to 0 than any finite r in R [and yes that is truly boggling on what “continuum” means], so this microcosm is good enough. I add, take 1 + an infinitesimal cloud just above it and we have values under 1/x closer to 1 than we can get with any ordinary real, and yet 1 remains a definite upper bound for the interval.

    But then, we are really pointing out why the Athanasian creed uses “immensus,” immeasurably great, to speak of God. If you have a value that can be exceeded, we aren’t there yet.

    Going back to the greatness of being concept — and, notice just how much of this is conceptual [and that’s why I recognise this is not a matter for popular discussion] — we can consider how it is developed. We have great-making properties — properties of excellence — that can be held by beings to various degrees. Being possible of being exceeds being impossible of being. Being possible but contingent is of lesser excellence than being necessary of being. This being a finite exhaustive set with mutually exclusive properties, we know members of the necessary being class cannot be exceeded in this respect. But now consider the number 2 and a worm. Both are beings but the former (an abstract entity albeit a necessary being) does not have life. A worm hardly has intellect, a baby [even though a potential genius] does not have a highly developed intellect. A genius of persuasion like a Hitler can also be a demonic mass murderer, failing the moral greatness test. All of these suffice to suggest that greatness of being is multi-dimensional.

    However, we can conceive of maximal greatness in the necessary being world-root who is utterly wise, capable of creating worlds, who is through and through good etc. Indeed, we can conceive of such as having great-making properties to the ultimate compossible degree. Thus, for instance, it would not be a defect of God that he cannot make a square circle or a stone too heavy for him to lift or another “God” greater than himself, or that he utterly will not calculatedly deceive us for his profit (= lie), etc. All such entail ontological or logical or moral incoherence.

    We thus find what we were looking for, a limit, the ultimate.

    In so learning a limit, we have also been led to more clearly understand maximal greatness of being: having all and only properties or more properly attributes of excellence and having them to the maximal compossible degree. If a claimant to be God is defective, that claimant is not God, and also beyond that limit lies impossibility of being as essential claimed attributes would stand in mutual contradiction.

    Limit, implying maximal bound.

    As is well known, I have often argued that there is just one serious candidate necessary being world root capable of adequately grounding OUGHT and bridging the IS-OUGHT gap (inviting comparative difficulties assessment of other candidates): the inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being — thus, the root of all worlds. Such a one is worthy of our loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our manifest nature. In turn, this frames a sound natural law approach to governing mind, life and community, pivoting on duties to truth, to right reasom, to prudence [thus warrant], to sound conscience, to neighbourliness [the golden rule], to fairness and justice etc.

    I add, that this frame leads into the sort of picture of God developed in philosophical and systematic theology.

    I also rather like VJT’s more expansive philosophical definition:

    [A Philosophical Definition of God:] By God I mean Someone, not some thing, or some state or some process. More specifically, I mean Someone (beyond space and time) Whose nature it is to know and love in a perfect and unlimited way, Whose mode of acting is simply to know, love and choose (without anything more basic underlying these acts), Who is the Creator and Conserver of the natural world, and Who is therefore capable of making anything He wishes to, provided that it’s consistent with His nature as a perfectly intelligent and loving being, and with His other choices . . . . Since God is self-explanatory, as the Ultimate Cause, He cannot possess any ad hoc features, like being a trickster. Nor can God be totally evil, since evil is a privation [–> i.e. evil has no independent existence, it is the frustration, diversion, perversion or privation of the good out of its proper end, function, role or potential], and God is an infinite and unbounded Being. Hence we are forced to suppose that God is good. As to whether God is loving in a personal sense: each and every person is an end-in-itself, and for God to treat a person in an impersonal fashion would reflect a deficiency on His part; and since we know God is free from deficiencies, it follows that He must be personal.

    And, as we have a right to see indiscernibles as effectively different views or invocations of one common thing, just as there is but one null set, there is but one maximally great being.

    Shema Yisroel, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai echad.

    And of course, I AM THAT I AM.

    Yet again, before Abraham was, I AM.

    And again, I AM ALPHA AND OMEGA.

    KF

  209. 209
    daveS says:

    KF,

    With the case of the open interval (0,1) there is no defined particular greatest value but why the OPEN interval? Close on the upward side at 1 and there is.

    Well, because that’s the example I chose. Where the degrees of greatness comprise the set of real numbers (0, 1). If that is so, there is no maximally great being, since no being has greatness 1 (or more). The question is, how do we know that is not the case?

  210. 210
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, see above where a value is established. KF

  211. 211
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    Could you provide some examples. I’m not sure what you mean by “our own inner desires”. My inner desires would include things like sex, wealth, revenge, power, unending pleasure, adoration, etc., regardless of the consequences to others. Thankfully, I have been able to keep these desires in check. Were you referring to something else?

    Well, take something like having a sudden urge to cheat on your wife; not from an urge for sex, but an urge to hurt her. That wouldn’t make any sense. More significantly, sins at the spiritual level, not just with bodily comforts, but sins directed at God are clearer signs of demonic temptation. For example, if you suddenly had an urge towards blasphemy or hatred of God. Where would that come from? It couldn’t be just bodily comfort. What good would it do? It is that kind of thing that is demonic. There are other very strong temptations towards things that go against your own reason. Like if you had the temptation to abuse a child.

    Would this not be the natural consequence of intentionally depriving ourselves of things that we know would give us personal pleasure? For example, I have not eaten dessert in several years and every now and then I get this strong urge for a bowl of ice-cream. I would never consider this temptation to be demonic in nature.

    Right. First of all, ice cream is an innocent pleasure. It’s not a sin to eat it. Now if you have to refrain from sweets for serious health reasons, it could be a moral problem, but even then it’s not a serious sin. Demons are going to open a pathway to something worse, usually. If you would fall into excessive gluttony or damage your health seriously with some ice cream, then maybe there would be a demonic suggestion there.

    The primary temptation the demons will use is spiritual pride. It’s the belief that we are morally better than we really are. Sometimes the opposite can be the case, where we believe we are worse than we are. Humility is the virtue of seeing ourselves in reality, the good and the bad, without exaggeration. So, a test for us as we face temptations is this: “I set my mind against this action (lust, greed, whatever). There is no good reason for me to do it, in fact, no good reason for me to even want to do it”. This is good.
    However, aren’t there activities that you would never be tempted to do because they are disgusting to even think about? I can think of a lot of things, too disgusting to mention, and I would never do them. But now we have our normal sins – sex, pleasure, cruel selfishness. We’ve done such things. We decide now: “I set my mind against those actions. It is not something I ever want to do. I see that it hurts myself, hurts others and has no benefit.” Yes. However, later we are we tempted to do such things. Why?

    It really doesn’t make sense. To say it is “our own desires” is not true since we already said our desire was never to do such a thing.
    Could this irrational desire be a demonic temptation?

    In the end, it really doesn’t matter that much if you can discern where the temptation is coming from. Our job is to resist the temptation and overcome them. We’re always going to have temptations. Whether they come from demons or our own weakness, it doesn’t matter. However, if a person is struggling with a temptation and begins to question his own integrity and commitment to doing good, it can be very helpful to realize that the temptation may not be coming from his weaker, animal-self, but from a spiritual enemy. In that case, some spiritual weapons (prayer, fasting) should be used to help fight off the temptation.

  212. 212
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, see above where a value is established. KF

    There is no being associated with that value, though.

  213. 213
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, yes there is. The limit is there and there is a rather obvious relevant case. For example ponder making a stone too heavy to lift or being deceitful as mentioned. KF

  214. 214
    daveS says:

    KF,

    In effect you are saying that the set of degrees of greatness cannot comprise exactly the set (0, 1) then.

  215. 215
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, you used an interval that excludes its limit case, I guess to suggest what seemed at first a possibility. By the nature of our case, logic of BE-ing, we need rank-ordered scales that INCLUDE the limit case of possible beings; which seems to be inherent to the idea of ranking cases. Notice, the limit value of excellence of being is the maximal attainable value, where beyond lie cases that are impossible of being. Such turn out to be familiar from coming on 2000 y of thought on systematic and philosophical theology, where concepts like omnipotence have always been seen as excluding what is incompatible with the inherently good character of God and also pseudo-challenges such as, build a square circle. An entity capable of building a square circle is impossible of being. God as understood through ethical theism by his inherent goodness will not violate character, e.g. by being deliberately deceitful to his advantage. KF

    PS: Such suggests the scale even requires room for impossible cases “beyond” what is feasible. That is, to identify where we cannot go, why.

  216. 216
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I clip from a current discussion:

    https://capturingchristianity.com/a-faultless-modal-ontological-argument/

    The most serious objection to perfect being theism concerns the consistency of the divine attributes. The objection is that there are several well-known arguments that the divine attributes are not metaphysically consistent, and no good arguments that they are. There might be no possible world in which the divine attributes are coexemplified. Call that the problem of metaphysical consistency.

    There is a solution to the problem of metaphysical consistency. The maximal properties—knowledge, power, and goodness [–> to be maximally good, one needs the wisdom and capability that accord with that]—are all degreed properties. We argue that there is a hierarchy of sets of maximal properties from the highest degreed traditional divine attributes to lower and lower degreed properties of knowledge, power, and goodness. We argue that there is some highest consistent set of maximal properties in the hierarchy, and that the highest consistent set includes the properties of God . . . . We understand God to be the greatest possible being but not necessarily the greatest conceivable being. We leave open the possibility that the greatest conceivable being might be metaphysically impossible. The set of conceivable worlds far outstrips the set of possible worlds. If the greatest conceivable being is an impossible being, then that being is not God. Anything is greater than an impossible being, so no impossible being could be God.

    I suspect, by conceivable, they mean imaginable or expressible in words though possibly impossible of being, e.g. a world with square circles can be put in words but cannot be effected, it is not a POSSIBLE world.

    I add, that for nearly two thousand years, systematic theology has explored the nature of God and found the Biblical picture of God to be coherent as to logic of being. This includes being able to soundly answer not only the sort of objections we have seen, but specific objections to the Christian synthesis, such as Christians think 1 + 1 +1 = 1.

    This last is simply answered in terms of the legend of the Shamrock [MNI being the 2nd Emerald Isle and having looked at Padraig’s statue in the church named after him just yesterday — methinks, the old man winked at me . . . ]. On returning to Ireland as a missionary bishop — having escaped from slavery through a prophetic dream decades before — he was challenged along those lines. He bent down and plucked a shamrock.

    He asked, is this one leaf or three? If one, why three lobes and if three then why one stem?

    Thus, he drew out the subtleties in unity and according to the legend, the three-leaf clover duly became the symbol of Christian Ireland [and of course, of Montserrat, too].

    KF

    PS: Recall, context. To have a going concern, reality must always have been, requiring a necessary — causally independent etc — world root being. Where, as we are morally governed (even in our rationality), we need adequate grounding for such, which can only be in that world root [post Hume]. So that world root has to be inherently good, with what comes with that. And yes, this is utterly independent of empirically grounded design inferences; part of the point is to let us see that independence. Don’t forget, numbers are also world-framework necessary entities.

  217. 217
    timothya says:

    KF:
    “This draws out from K to D or T/M then S4 and S5 which allow reduction of modal strings, S5 being in effect, cut down to the last modal operator before a claim A. Also, the route from T/M via S4 + B –> S5, is explored. B is the difference between S4 and S5. Let’s use for convenience N: and P: for necessity and possibility, and use –> for it follows logically that.”

    Can somebody explain in simple terms what this piece of text means?

  218. 218
    kairosfocus says:

    TA, the list of axioms for Modal Logic is laid out and labelled, starting with K (and beyond S5, there are many more). Kindly, view the video to see how they are drawn out. Notice, box –> it is necessary that, and diamond –> it is possible that. A is a generic claim. KF

    PS: The summary in 195, note vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FacUHU_gjPw :

    Preliminarily, we see a symmetry

    N:A –> ~P: ~A (If A is necessary, it is not possible that it is not present in any possible world)

    where also

    P:A –> ~N: ~A (If A is possible, it is not necessary that ~A obtains, there is at least one possible world with A)

    K, take propositional calculus and augment:

    Necessitation Rule: If A is a theorem of K, then so is N:A. (theorems hold necessarily)

    Distribution Axiom: N:( A –> B) –> (N:A –>N: B). ( if it is necessary that if A then B, then if necessarily A, then necessarily B)

    D: N:A –> P:A (if A is necessary, then it is possible — it is in all worlds so it is in at least one world)

    T/M, adds N:A –> A (if A is necessary then it is actual, it is in any actual world)

    S4: N:A –> N:N: A (And the same for P:)

    B: A –> N: P: A (what is the case is necessarily possible . . . if something is actual, it must be possible)

    S5: P:A –> N: P:A (And vice versa If possible then necessarily possible, also if necessary then possibly necessary)

    –> These are successively stronger reduction rules, chains of the same kind are reducible to the last, and chains of diverse kind are reducible to the last.

    S5 of course entails that

    P:N:A –> N:A

    If it is possible that A holds necessarily, A holds necessarily. This means that ontological possibility is the pivot for addressing a serious candidate necessary fact/claim/truth/entity.

  219. 219
    timothya says:

    KF:
    “TA, the list of axioms for Modal Logic is laid out and labelled, starting with K (and beyond S5, there are many more). Kindly, view the video to see how they are drawn out. Notice, box –> it is necessary that, and diamond –> it is possible that. A is a generic claim. KF”
    So now “it is possible that”. Previously you said that “it follows logically that”. It seems that now you are making a much weaker claim.

  220. 220
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, you used an interval that excludes its limit case, I guess to suggest what seemed at first a possibility.

    To be clear, I used (0, 1) simply because it does not have a greatest element.

    By the nature of our case, logic of BE-ing, we need rank-ordered scales that INCLUDE the limit case of possible beings; which seems to be inherent to the idea of ranking cases. Notice, the limit value of excellence of being is the maximal attainable value, where beyond lie cases that are impossible of being.

    I just don’t see any reason to conclude that the limit value (IOW, the supremum) of excellence is attainable. That is precisely what is in question.

  221. 221
    daveS says:

    KF,

    OT: You have mentioned childrens’ cartoons a few times; does this have anything to do with the rather creepy phenomenon known as “ElsaGate”?

  222. 222
    kairosfocus says:

    TA, I am speaking of symbols as seen in the vid. The box means necessary, the diamond possibly. These are most easily understood as in all vs at least one but not all possible worlds. The axioms from K to S5 define frames for modal reasoning, S5 the strongest. KF

    PS: I think I used the arrow in two senses, my bad. In the box, diamond context, explanatory. In the expressions as logical entailment.

  223. 223
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, never heard of that one. Looked it up, sounds like grooming for child abuse. What I saw as a kid LOOKED much more innocent and laughable. KF

  224. 224
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, there is a very natural, attainable bound (as possible*) as was discussed above: maximal compossible excellence, i.e. the threshold beyond which there will be impossible beings. And, as that threshold maxes out across the board, coming at it from different directions ends at the same place, much as we make many invocations of the one null set. God as maximally great being, will be unique. And of course, as proposed, we have a serious candidate NB. The issue is, impossible of being or else actual. Contingent, in this case, will not fly: there is no on/off switch that would turn God on/off across neighbouring states of affairs. KF

    *PS: Recall, in possible worlds speak, a PW is a potentially state of affairs that are described in a sufficient set of propositions, or else an actual one. A possible being would be in at least one PW, were it actualised. Compossible can be seen as compatibly possible.

  225. 225
    timothya says:

    KF:
    “If it is possible that A holds necessarily, A holds necessarily”.

    What? Are you seriously arguing that if A possibly holds, then A necessarily holds. In what world is this proposition worth considering?

  226. 226
    daveS says:

    It seems to me that the last “necessarily” should be omitted. That is:

    ◇ □ A → A

  227. 227
    daveS says:

    Anyway, Peter van Inwagen discusses the plausibility of this rule somewhere in his book Metaphysics. I’m away from my copy now, but using Google books, I believe it’s around page 215 or so.

  228. 228
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, S5 is a general reduction axiom, which will reduce any chain of modal operators to the last one. That gives it its power and is why some have disquiet over its use.Hence, Plantinga’s result. Of course, if necessarily A then A is actual. the force in S5 as extended to the consequence shown is that if we have possibly necessarily A then necessarily A. In terms of meaning, it pivots on what necessary existence is about and what possible existence is about. In at least one world, necessarily A. But if A is necessary at all, it is necessary in all worlds, as this means framework for any world so in all possible worlds — and, this is central to the power of core Mathematics BTW: if we identify a necessary result or quantity or structure in any world, it extends to all possible worlds, so if we play the von Neumann game or the Surreals game, we can extend their results to all possible worlds. So, necessarily A. So too, A as a further reduction. But that means that if A is a serious candidate to be necessary, it is either impossible or actual. So, the first thing is, is something possible of existence (i.e. is there a way a world could be in which A is? If no, it is impossible, but that is a far stronger claim relative to our state of partial knowledge) If possible, then is it contingent or necessary, contingent meaning there are factors that could disable existence of A. If not contingent but possible then necessary, i.e. framework to any world. Of course these must be worked out. KF

    PS: Windows headaches this morning.

  229. 229
    daveS says:

    KF,

    You are correct, my mistake.

  230. 230
  231. 231
    Silver Asiatic says:

    If it is possible that A holds necessarily, A holds necessarily.

    If it is possible that A holds necessarily, then A must necessarily exist in some possible world.
    To say that it is possible that A is necessary is to agree that it necessarily exists in some possible world.
    But a possible world may not be an actual world.

  232. 232
    Silver Asiatic says:

    If not contingent but possible then necessary, i.e. framework to any world.

    A necessary being must exist in all possible worlds. If A is possibly a necessary being, then it exists in some possible world, and therefore necessarily exists in all possible worlds.

    If God exists in any possible world then God exists on all possible worlds. If God is possible, then God necessarily exists.

  233. 233
    kairosfocus says:

    SA,

    You raise interesting points, I would adjust as noted:

    >>A necessary being must exist in all possible worlds.>>

    a: This is not just arbitrary, first, a NB is possible of being so must exist in at least one world.

    b: Next, a NB is not contingent, it is not dependent on some switch factor f between world W and its close neighbour W’ such that in W f = ON and NB A exists, but in W’ f = OFF and so in W’ A does not exist. F is of course a causal, enabling factor for A.

    c: So, a NB A is present in every possible world, best understood as A being part of the framework for any world to exist.

    >> If A is possibly a necessary being, then it exists [–> as a necessary being!] in some possible world,>>

    d: A possible being would exist in at least one world W were it instantiated.

    e: If a being A is possible AND is of NB character, in W it would exist AS A NECESSARY BEING.

    >> and therefore necessarily exists in all possible worlds [–> as part of the framework for any world to exist].>>

    f: As a NB is part of the framework for any world to exist, if it would be observed in some world W, then this confirms that it is not impossible of being, while retaining its NB character.

    g: Thus, it is part of the framework for any given world, V, so for all worlds.

    h: Therefore it exists in our particular world, which is an actual thus possible world.

    >>If God exists in any possible world then God [–> would exist there as a NB]>>

    i: God is a serious candidate NB, and would have the NB characteristics.

    j: So, if God were present in some world V, he would be present there as a NB.

    >>[he thus] exists on all possible worlds.>>

    k: That is, he would be the root of reality for every possible world, including actual ones.

    >> If God [–> a serious candidate NB] is possible [–> thus exists on some world V as a NB] , then God [–> is not impossible of being and is not contingent so he] necessarily exists.>>

    l: By the logic of being.

    –> This is probably strange to most of us, and it is conceptually involved, so it will need time to think through.

    –> No this is not issuing an arbitrary definition then pulling God’s existence out of a magic definitional hat. It starts with understanding modes of being and linked logic of being.

    KF

  234. 234
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Since a necessary being must exist in all possible worlds, it would never be correct to say that “it is possible that [anything] is a necessary being”. A necessary being cannot merely be a possibility.

  235. 235
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: An interesting and even revealing exchange at Quora:

    https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-philosophical-logic-mathematical-logic

    What is the difference between philosophical logic & mathematical logic?

    This question previously had details. They are now in a comment.
    17 Answers
    Anders Ahlgren
    Anders Ahlgren, Ph.D. mathematical logic
    Updated Jun 27, 2018

    When I was getting my PhD, we had a joint logic seminar with both philosophical and mathematical logicians. I would say the most striking difference is what part of the talk they are interested in.

    When a mathematical logician gives a talk in front of an audience that contains philosophical logicians, it often goes something like this. There is a brief introduction, including a couple of definitions. For the mathematical logician, this is just boring routine stuff, something you need to go through before you write down the theorem and gets to the interesting part, the neat techniques he or she invented to prove it.

    However, as soon as the definitions are shown, the philosophers raise their hands and want to discuss whether this is the “right” definition. For them, the definition is supposed to clarify what you are studying; the definition itself should captures some underlying basic truth. The mathematical logician just doesn’t care about that. He or she will rather be thinking something along the lines of “Clearly it is the right definition, because that is the definition that lets us prove this extremely cool theorem that I haven’t even gotten to write down yet! Shut up and let me get on with it!”

    Both philosophical and mathematical logic has several branches, that differ quite a bit from each other. However, just to get a feeling, a good example of philosophical logic is this: Intuitionistic type theory – Wikipedia, and a good example of mathematical logic is this: Forcing (mathematics) – Wikipedia

    Edit: Some comments have made me feel I didn’t make myself completely clear. I did not intend to put down philosophers. Sure, I was describing the experience of the seminars from my point of view, but I thought the value of having good definitions would be obvious enough to make it clear it was written with a certain amount of self-deprecation and tongue-in-cheek. For the record, I think both approaches are valuable. I also think it is difficult to do both approaches at the same time, so having two separate disciplines is important.

    Here we see that the Mathematicians want to set up a logic-model world (shaped ultimately by the core facts of structure and quantity) and get on with churning out interesting results. The Philosophers are looking for a connexion to reality.

    I liked this onward comment a lot, as it resonates with the third [or is it fourth — what are Computer Scientists in this context?] group, Physicists:

    Anders Ahlgren
    Anders Ahlgren
    Original Author · Jun 29, 2018 · 3 upvotes including Siering Lodrö Pharchin

    I think mathematical logicians are very interested in ”important stuff”, it is just a matter of how you pick what is important. Mathematicans often subscribe to Keats’ position on the relation of truth and beauty. If we can prove interesting stuff, that in itself means something. If you picked the wrong definition, you won’t get beauty in your proofs and results. So, beautiful work means you are on the right track. That is enough for us, we leave the debating to philosophers.

    KF

  236. 236
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, you have a point, but we start from relative ignorance. Notice, I speak of serious candidates, implying want of certainty. Obviously a NB is possible of being. But, its presence in any world W vs neighbour W’ is not conditioned by the state of a switch factor f. That is, NBs are not causally dependent. Inded, they are framework factors for any world. So, we may first wonder if A is possible of being, then confirm yes, in W it is. Then, oh, there are no enabling on/off factors for A so it is of NB character. Then, voila, it is present in every possible world. That can be a big surprise. And lurking beneath the surface is this: a serious candidate NB is either impossible of being or else actual. Where, impossibility of being is tied to contradictory proposed core characteristics. So, as God is not plausibly contingent and is a serious candidate NB, then he is real or else impossible of being. That last is a serious challenge to those who would dismiss him. KF

  237. 237
    daveS says:

    SA,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that it makes sense to say that A implies possibly A. Hence (in KF’s notation) N. A –> A and A –> P. A, so N. A –> P. A.

  238. 238
    daveS says:

    SA,

    PS: On second thought, I don’t know that my symbolization matches what you say. I would agree that this is correct: ” A necessary being cannot merely be a possibility”.

  239. 239
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that it makes sense to say that A implies possibly A. Hence (in KF’s notation) N. A –> A and A –> P. A, so N. A –> P. A.

    I think it makes sense in terms of logical form, but it doesn’t make sense in human terms.
    We couldn’t say, for example “A exists, therefore there is some possibility that A exists”.
    A thing that is possible is a thing that is contingent upon those matters that would make it potentially or possibly existent.
    But a necessary being is not contingent. So, its existence could never be said to be a matter of possibility, as if there are some conditions under which it could exist.
    A necessary being is not a possible being, in the same way that a being which exists cannot be said to perhaps be possible of existence. A being that exists has already fulfilled conditions needed to exist and can no longer be categorized as “possible of existence” since to be a possibility would require some potential of non-existence.
    But in formal terms, it is like saying that something has 100% probability of existence. The concept of probability or predictability would not really be appropriate in that case.
    Possibility is a measure of estimation.
    And in that case we couldn’t say that “we estimate that is has 100% possibility of existence”. That cannot be a measure of estimation but rather an observation of the existence of the thing, and it is no longer merely a possible being.

  240. 240
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Remember in all of this, the logic of structure and quantity — Mathematics (a major issue for this topic). KF

  241. 241
    kairosfocus says:

    DS (& SA), if A is actual, it necessarily is possible, here by dint of being “observed in the wild.” I think that makes it more plausible. Likewise, if A is necessary, it is not merely possible, it fits in on the NB not the contingent side of possible beings. KF

  242. 242
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, I should note that possible here takes the sense: would exist in at least one world W, were it actualised. This is not an epistemological question of perhaps being in some doubt but open to A being so (and likely, also to A not being so). A possible being A is so if some state of affairs where A is, is possible — termed a possible world. All observing A does is instantiate a world in which A is. A contingent being exists in at least one world W but in another W’ it does not exist. A necessary being exists in all possible worlds. A proposed being that is not possible of existence will not exist in any possible world. KF

  243. 243
    john_a_designer says:

    The following is something that I have shared on this site before which I think is relevant to the discussion here. It also brings us back from abstract concepts to real world empirical ones, which is the focus of ID.

    If Big Bang cosmology is true then the universe had a beginning. Furthermore, if we accept the standard model of the big bang, based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity, not only did the universe have a beginning but so did space and time. Therefore, based on what we presently know that there was no time (no before) the origin of the universe. So that empirically rules out any possibility of an infinite regress. In other words, there is no evidence that the universe always existed—yet logically something must have always existed. What is that something?

    Leibnitz argued that there are two kinds of being: (1) contingent being and (2) necessary, or self-existent, being. Contingent beings or things (books, ink, paper, planets or people, rocks trees and poison ivy etc.) cannot exist without a cause. By contrast, a necessary being does not require a cause. Everything we observe in the universe, including the universe as a whole, appears to be contingent. However, it is logically possible that whatever it is that caused the universe exists necessarily or, in other words, is self-existent. An eternally existing (or self-existing) transcendent being, does not require any other explanation because it is the explanation. To prove this simply ask yourself the question, ‘what caused the always existing something to exist?’ The answer should be obvious to anyone who considers the question honestly. Obviously, since it has always existed, it wasn’t caused by anything else, therefore, doesn’t need to be explained by anything else.

    The evidence from the “big bang” for example suggests that whatever caused the universe transcends the universe. Furthermore, if it is the cause of the universe it must, in some sense, have always existed. It must be eternal. Transcendence and eternality are attributes of what theists call God. So big bang cosmology gives us two thirds of what we mean by God.

    Theists also believe that God is personal. He has a mind and intelligence, volition and the ability to communicate with other personal beings. I would argue that for God to be the ultimate explanation (IOW maximally great) He must be personal. If the eternally existing, transcendent being is not personal then we are back at an infinite regress. Because whatever it was that caused the universe must have created it freely and intentionally. In other words, there wasn’t anything that caused God to create the universe. He created it simply because he wanted to.

    Does this argument prove that God exists? No it doesn’t. However it does offer a viable, logical and rational alternative to naturalism and materialism, as well as other world views, like pantheism.

    In his book, Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science & Cosmology, R.C. Sproul, outlines the parameters of logic on this question– whether or not the idea of a necessarily existing being is logically valid– as follows:

    “Logic requires that if something exists contingently, it must have a cause. That is merely to say, if it is an effect it must have an antecedent cause. Logic does not require that if something exists, it must exist contingently or it must be an effect. Logic has no quarrel with the idea of self existent reality [an uncaused cause or necessary being]. It is possible for something to exist without an antecedent cause. It remains to be seen if it is logically necessary for something to exist without an antecedent cause. For now it is sufficient to see that self-existence is a logical possibility. The idea is rationally justified in the limited sense that it is not rationally falsified. Something is rationally falsified when it is shown to be formally or logically impossible.” (p172-173)

    Again, I am not claiming that I can prove that God exists. My argument is really very modest. I am only arguing that (1) the concept of an uncreated, necessary or self-existent being is a logically valid and rational. And, (2) God as a necessary being is the best explanation why anything at all exists. The philosophical arguments for God’s existence are not the only reason Christian theists believe in God. Indeed, many people become Christians without even knowing about them.

  244. 244
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD,

    As usual a very thoughtful comment.

    In context, the thread is primarily on the warrant-challenge of atheism (which carries a secondary issue as to how should we properly understand the same). At third level, it includes logical issues, logic of being questions and their application to understanding God and the way we ponder him. That’s where the unusual subject of modal logic comes in, leading to the discussion of possible worlds, being vs non being, possibility, contingency and necessity etc. In that context we can see that NB’s are framework for any world to exist so that if any NB n does not obtain, there would be no reality. That’s how stark and powerful the concept is.

    In that context of a very powerful concept, it is an obviously interesting matter to explore NB’s and the linked issue that the God of ethical theism is a serious candidate NB, in particular, to be the root of reality. The ethical aspect turns out to be a key, as we need a root of moral government that bridges the IS-OUGHT gap at the only place that is feasible (on pain of ungrounded ought): the root of reality. Where, even our rationality itself as an aspect of our responsible freedom, is morally governed through inescapable duties of care to truth, right reason, prudence, sound conscience, fairness & justice, etc. A further relevant issue is, that once God is such a serious candidate NB, per canons of modal logic, he is either impossible of being or actual. That is, those who disbelieve in God have shouldered a fairly stiff (and as a rule unmet) burden of warrant.

    All of this comes back to the ID issues in several ways. First, it shows a bit of the lay of the land on logic of being and roots of reality. This, separate from whether design may be properly inferred on our epistemic rights, given observations such as functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information, cosmological fine tuning, the correlation between such tuning and observability of the cosmos etc. In short, we here decouple the question of the idea of God and of warrant for belief/disbelief from the design debates. Also, by clarifying logic of being and non-being we draw out key issues on origins of being.

    Another tied issue is Wigner’s amazement at the power of Mathematics, which it turns out pivots on how key aspects of structure and quantity are inherently embedded in the existence of any distinct possible world i/l/o the principle of identity. Which last appears yet again as a major but underappreciated principle of logic.

    In light of all of this, we can see that yes, our observed cosmos in its current form is credibly rooted in a beginning, and has in it composite entities, also laws and parameters setting up a deeply isolated operating point friendly to C-chem, aqueous medium cell based life. Thus, we are looking at contingency and complex functional, information rich organisation in the composition of our cosmos. That points to cause and raises questions of purposeful, deeply knowledgeable design. Multiverse objections then run into the Boltzmann brain lower fluctuation challenge.

    Likewise, the projection of an onward quasi-physical sub-cosmos behind our world runs into questions on a reality rooted in utter non-being or circular cause [by implication the like as the not yet reaches back and causes itself . . . absurd] or finitely remote world root. A linked point is the traversal of a successive chain of finite duration temporal-causal chain faces a supertask if it is claimed that such has spanned a beginningless past. (This last has been debated several times here.)

    All of this is bringing up subtle connexions and how one side illuminates the other.

    You said (and I annotate):

    >>If Big Bang cosmology is true then the universe had a beginning.>>

    1 –> this is now routinely extended to an underlying sub-cosmos that throws up fluctuations (leading to Boltzmann brain issues)

    2 –> We have to deal with cause [hence discussion on contingent beings and on/off factors between neighbouring worlds]

    >>Furthermore, if we accept the standard model of the big bang, based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity, not only did the universe have a beginning but so did space and time.>>

    3 –> our spacetime continuum, on the usual multiverse models, hence fluctuations and Boltzmann brains vs fine tuning etc

    >> Therefore, based on what we presently know that there was no time (no before) the origin of the universe. So that empirically rules out any possibility of an infinite regress.>>

    4 –> Not now, the underlying sub-cosmos is seen as tossing up fluctuations with their timelines. Hence we have to tackle the logic of contingency, cause and temporal stage succession

    >> In other words, there is no evidence that the universe always existed—>>

    5 –> Our observed cosmos

    >>yet logically something must have always existed. What is that something?>>

    6 –> This is logic of being, with issues of possible worlds, necessary beings and world roots.

    7 –> Yes, if a world is, something always was, of what nature being the pivotal question.

    >>Leibnitz argued that there are two kinds of being: (1) contingent being and (2) necessary, or self-existent, being. Contingent beings or things (books, ink, paper, planets or people, rocks trees and poison ivy etc.) cannot exist without a cause.>>

    8 –> More on logic of being here

    >> By contrast, a necessary being does not require a cause.>>

    9 –> the why of that requires drawing out, hence many issues above.

    >> Everything we observe in the universe, including the universe as a whole, appears to be contingent. >>

    10 –> our observed cosmos, the debate has been widened.

    11 –> Contingency again.

    >>However, it is logically possible that whatever it is that caused the universe exists necessarily or, in other words, is self-existent. An eternally existing (or self-existing) transcendent being, does not require any other explanation because it is the explanation.>>

    12 –> Actually, necessity of being and linked eternality require serious discussion.

    >> To prove this simply ask yourself the question, ‘what caused the always existing something to exist?’ The answer should be obvious to anyone who considers the question honestly. Obviously, since it has always existed, it wasn’t caused by anything else, therefore, doesn’t need to be explained by anything else. >>

    13 –> Quite an involved issue obtains!

    In short, things have become a lot more complex. The design perspective — unacknowledged of course — has triggered a whole new level in the discussions. Hence the significance of our current focus.

    KF

  245. 245
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: In discussing the Modal Ontological argument Ben Mines recalls, in replying to a maximally evil being parody argument:

    https://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2017/12/the-modal-logical-version-of-the-ontological-argument/

    Leibniz has given an argument to show that omniscience and moral perfection [–> also, omnipotence] are mutually inclusive: all freely willed action strives towards some goal; all goals are the pursuit of some good entertained by the agent; [ –> real or imagined?] the scope and quality of entertainable goods is dependent on knowledge; the maximisation of knowledge perfects an agent’s judgment of the good. An evil being therefore lacks perfect knowledge; and lacking perfect knowledge, is not omniscient; and lacking omniscience, cannot be omnipotent since there will be some actions it lacks the knowledge to perform. The proposition, It is possible that a maximally great but evil being exists is therefore broadly incoherent. A being cannot be both evil and maximally great.

    This seems to be a useful addition to our stream of thought, clarifying how an inherently good and utterly wise world root being will span relevant properties of excellence.

    Further food for thought fed by a most fruitful proposition.

    KF

  246. 246
    daveS says:

    How about considering the collection of maximally evil beings, then among those, choosing the most powerful one(s)?

    Note: This is not intended to contradict the previous post, but rather to perhaps argue for the existence of The Enemy/Satan/The Prince of Darkness, etc. [Or perhaps the ‘result’ is a mere mortal, such as Jeffrey Epstein?]

  247. 247
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, evil is not a thing in itself but the privation of a thing or its perversion. A maximally evil being is simply irrelevant and would go out of existence. No being can be wholly or even strictly mostly evil –similar to how not so many car parts going wrong will incapacitate the car. Unfortunately, not so much evil strictly can turn functionality and capability such as intelligence and power, into forces of horrific chaos. We can have a powerful but evil being, but even that makes the point, power is a good, ability to get things done, just it is perverted out of its proper end. KF

  248. 248
    daveS says:

    KF,

    We can have a powerful but evil being, but even that makes the point, power is a good, ability to get things done, just it is perverted out of its proper end.

    Can we order beings by their degree of ‘evilness’? For example, is it correct to say that CS Lewis is/was less evil than The Enemy?

  249. 249
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    Can we order beings by their degree of ‘evilness’? For example, is it correct to say that CS Lewis is/was less evil than The Enemy?

    It’s a fascinating question and I think we can do it.
    We usually say that evil is a deprivation of good, and the fulness of being is the greatest good, so the maximum evil would be non-being. But would it be right to say that non-existence is more evil than the worst evil a creature can do?

    I think our definitions have to be adjusted a bit. If we consider evil not merely to be equated to Being, but rather to the opposite of moral goodness — then we would require some being to have evil. Nothingness could not be evil in itself, even though it has a lack of being.

    Can there be a ranking of moral goodness and evil? I think there is. First, evil can only be done by rational beings who can intend to do something good or evil. An animal cannot do an evil act, as such.

    At the highest peak of perfection of good, we have God. Rational, intelligent and filled with love and self-giving of life and happiness to all – that is the top. At the bottom? I think we first rank levels of sin. Then we rank the intention or commitment each rational creature has towards a sinful condition. Evil is directed against the good. A person who does evil to another person is directing evil towards the good of that person – stealing, or taking away the good from that person. Then we rank the power each has towards doing evil. Power would include intellect and ability to carry out actions. A billionaire has more capability of doing destructive evil than a destitute person alone someplace remote.

    For sinfulness, we might say the highest level of evil is that which is directed at stealing, destroying or taking away the highest amount of good.

    Those are classically ranked as sins of the spiritual-order, sins directly against God. Hatred of God would be the highest evil.

    Finally – and I apologize for wandering all around this topic, I just had some strong coffee and thoughts are not fully collected, this aphorism says a lot:

    CORRUPTIO OPTIMI EST PESSIMA

    The corruption of the best is the worst.

  250. 250
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    This seems to be a useful addition to our stream of thought, clarifying how an inherently good and utterly wise world root being will span relevant properties of excellence.

    I think it’s a very important exercise for us to consider these things you mention: Excellence, the maximally greatest being, perfection of goodness, wisdom, intelligence, power.

    If we rise up on the scale of values to think about those peak levels, it has a profound, lasting and beneficial effect on our mind. If we think about greatness, we actually will become greater in our own thought and intention.

    Eventually, I think that if we consider “that, than which nothing greater can be conceived”, we have to wonder why our thoughts travel up that hierarchy of value. We are able to recognize deprivations in excellence – this points to a standard or a peak. The greatest being we can conceive of cannot exist in the understanding alone, and eventually we realize that being must exist actually,

  251. 251
    daveS says:

    Thanks, SA, that’s quite to close to what I had in mind (referring to #249).

  252. 252
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    How about considering the collection of maximally evil beings, then among those, choosing the most powerful one(s)?

    I think that’s correct. We can rank beings in terms of power. Intelligence, strength and various excellences can be evaluated.

    … posted before I saw your previous.

  253. 253
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, it is a really tricky thing especially if we are looking for not the worst known or commonly believed case but a maximal one. Evil cannot be isolated, it rides piggyback on good. So, we can say that a certain former archangel with built-in musical instruments is perhaps the worst known abuser of high power and privilege, but that is different. Likewise, Germany c 1933 – 45 was in many respects a very admirable country, world leader in sci-tech, with man for man probably the best soldiers in the world. Their national leader was a man of great talents. But, he and they perverted what should have been a blessing and wreaked havoc. I guess that may make possible a ranking of greatest potential to do good betrayed, but I am by no means persuaded that such can be turned into a metric of evil. KF

  254. 254
    john_a_designer says:

    Dave’s question makes no sense from an atheistic perspective because the existence of actual good and evil depends on the existence of transcendent moral truth (i.e. a transcendent moral standard.) In other words, the atheist is not warranted in asserting such a premise. So either he is being either inconsistent or insincere.

  255. 255
    daveS says:

    JAD,

    I am deliberately asking questions which I believe make sense from a Christian perspective. That’s because I am curious about KF’s and SA’s ‘framework’, if you will, not so much my own.

  256. 256
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    Methinks a more fruitful approach would be a worldviews, comparative difficulties approach. Here, starting with logic of being (cf. table in OP) and roots of reality. Where, as non-being is the genuine no-thing, were there ever nothing (& as non-being can have no causal power) were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain. Similarly, circular cause on the deep past would require a future, not yet state reach back to cause itself and is similarly ruled out. So, that a world now is entails that SOMETHING always was, thus is independent, is necessary.

    This means, the effective alternatives orbit the issue: which serious candidate necessary being world root offers the best explanation. Where, our observed cosmos had a beginning and so is contingent, and where we are morally governed creatures, even in our thinking and reasoning. That means we operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap and — on pain of undermining rationality — the gap must be bridged in the only place it can be (on pain of ungrounded ought), the world root.

    Where, BTW, I have by and large not been speaking to a Christian frame but a worldviews frame, with a particular eye to world-roots informed by logic of being. That is a wide issue and raises always comparative difficulties across live option alternatives. Do I need to state at this juncture that I am every inch a worldviews thinker, not narrowly a Christian thinker? Where, that means I at least have a few crumbs from the table sat at by the likes of a Paul or a Justin Martyr or an Augustine or the Angelic Doctor, etc, down to today’s Plantinga or Craig or even a Schaeffer or a Nash or a Geisler or a Feser, further etc?

    I have also in mind (as always) Wigner’s challenge on the unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics; where we have traced that to a core of structure and quantity being necessarily framework to any distinct possible world, i.e. to principle of identity applied to how W has some A in it distinguishing from near neighbour W’ so we dichotomise W = {A|~A} with nullity, unity (simple and complex) and duality directly manifest thence via von Neumann’s construction, the Surreals game and the rotating vectors view, a panoply of numbers and [ideal, abstract] spaces. From this we set up abstract logic model worlds and use such to intersect with reality that we experience, not least as a necessary entity must ever be present in any possible world. In short, any world view must also draw in the power of Mathematics through logic of being and the significance of the logic of structure and quantity.

    Coming back, we see that the two main alternatives on the table for world-root just now are a beginningless temporal-causal succession of finite stages and an inherently good and utterly wise, necessary and maximally great being, creator God. This last is the God seen through the lens of ethical theism, not as such God as identified through the Judaeo-Christian scriptural tradition and linked historic communities of worship. However, maximal greatness indicates per indiscernibles [cf. above], that the faith communities are looking at recognisably the same Supreme being.

    I would suggest here, that although significantly variant, the Islamic tradition is also looking at the same Supreme being, and there are other less well known traditions; there is here no commitment that any particular tradition is 100% right nor a claim that differences in theology are insignificant. So, never mind debates on particular points — which are to be hammered out at another level with different tools, generic ethical theism, the God of the philosophers, is good enough for our purposes. Serious candidate world-root being.

    Notwithstanding, I note that there is no way Moshe could have understood the force of I AM THAT I AM, nor could Isaiah’s picture of Aseity* — yes, a rare but necessary word — have been painted on an understanding of necessary being. The tools to hammer that out came along a lot later. It looks to me that they genuinely heard things they could not understand and wrote them down accurately, leading us to ponder, how could they have that, at such early dates?

    *Dictionary stack:

    a·se·i·ty (?-s???-t?, ?-, -s??-)
    n. Philosophy
    The state or quality of existing in and of oneself, without external cause.
    [Medieval Latin ?s?it?s : Latin ?, by, from, of + Latin s?, himself, herself, itself (in the Scholastic descriptive phrase used of God, (?ns) ? s?, (something existing) from itself, of itself; see s(w)e- in Indo-European roots) + Latin -it?s, -ity; see -ity.]
    American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
    aseity (e??si??t?)
    n
    (Philosophy) philosophy existence derived from itself, having no other source
    [C17: from Medieval Latin aseitas, from Latin ? from + s? oneself]
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

    R C Sproul Lecture:

    https://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/orlando_2004_national_conference/aseity-of-god/

    Unlike creation, God is self-existent, uncaused, and independent. In this lecture, Dr. Sproul will examine the doctrine of God’s aseity, and explain why it is vital to a proper understanding of who God is as Creator and Redeemer.

    CATHOLIC ENC:

    Aseity (Latin a, from; se, itself: ens a se) is the property by which a being exists of and from itself. It will be easily understood that this property belongs, and can belong only, to God. When we look for the efficient, exemplary, and final cause of all things, of their existence, nature, and organization, we come ultimately to a Being Who does not depend for His existence, realization, or end on any cause other than Himself; Who has within Himself His own reason of existence, Who is for Himself His own exemplary and final cause. It is to this very property of absolute independence, or self-existence by nature that we give the name of aseity. This notion of aseity includes, therefore, according to our conception, a negative and a positive aspect; absolute independence and self-existence, which complement each other and form one single objective property. As is easily seen, the Catholic concept of aseity which represents God as absolutely independent and self-existent by nature, and, consequently, all-perfect without any possibility of change from all eternity, is altogether opposed to the pantheistic concept of absolute or pure being, which absolute or pure being evolves, determines, and realizes itself through all time.

    (NB: Wikipedia gets it wrong here, talking about self-caused. I suspect its contributors do not understand the differences of contingent vs necessary being and the gap between a self-moved volitional first cause free agent and circular cause. Oddly, sliding below the intro-summary, I find something much better: >>Aseity has two aspects, one positive and one negative: absolute independence and self-existence.[1] In its “negative” meaning, which emerged first in the history of thought, it affirms that God is uncaused, depending on no other being for the source of God’s existence. In its “positive” meaning, it affirms that God is completely self-sufficient, having within Godself [–> neologism, wouldn’t “himself” do] the sufficient reason [–> notice, PSR] for God’s own existence.[2] The first concept derives from “the God of philosophers”, while the second one derives from “the living God of Revelation” (I Am Who Am: Exodus 3:14).[3]>> On further digging, the talk page has an even more revealing remark: >>I put the original research banner over the Aseity page because of the last claims regarding aseity of the universe. I am not aware of decay and corruption being widespread throughout the universe [–> That raises entropy and long term heat death issues, methinks], nor am I aware that it is self-evident, nor am I aware how this poses a problem to atheistic aseity of the universe. [–> Aha, here we go, the evo-mat-scientism picture here tries to suggest the physical cosmos as necessary being world root] Since there is no citation or source for this claim, I decided that it falls under the guidelines for original research and put up the banner. 70.243.116.156 20:43, 22 May 2007 (UTC)Adam Pierce

    Someone seems to have removed the original-research type comments, so I removed the original research banner.69.137.181.88 09:18, 17 June 2007 (UTC)Adam Pierce >>)

    Now, traversal of a transfinite span through finite stage temporal-causal succession is plainly a supertask. That obtains whether the transfinite nature is explicit or implicit, as was hammered out here a few months back, addressing issues going back across three years. Also, such does not even credibly account for the FSCO/I in brains regarded as mere computational substrates (not including quantum interfaces to fifth dimensional supervisory oracles needed to account for rational insight and required freedom). Much less, moral government. Besides, the world picture painted by evolutionary materialistic scientism is multiply self-referentially incoherent and self-falsifying.

    That really leaves the Supreme being on the table as the only serious candidate to be the necessary being world root.

    Note, candidate, serious candidate.

    That further means, either impossible of being or else possible AND framework to any possible world. That is, actual.

    Where, impossible of being is as a square circle is impossible of being: core characteristics that cannot be surrendered while retaining identity stand in mutual, irreconcilable contradiction. So, a square circle or the like will be infeasible, no such entity can exist in any possible world. And yes, this is a very powerful logic of being result. Yes, logic is connected to essence of distinct being through identity and its close corollaries LNC, LOI etc. Also, yes, as touching any candidate being or non being we may freely ask why is it or may it be or must it be or even why it cannot be, in hope of a sensible answer — the weak form, inquiry based principle of sufficient reason.

    So, now, is there a good reason to introduce another candidate to be necessary being world root: _______ ? Why? __________ . How does it fare across comparative difficulties on factual adequacy _______ coherence _____ and balanced explanatory power ______ ?

    Do you or any other person here or in the penumbra have a cogent reason to hold the Supreme being as a failed candidate being: __________ ? On what grounds _________ ? (Note, post-Plantinga, the logical form problem of evil is effectively dead, and the inductive form shorn of claws and teeth. Ever since Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy and arguably since Solomon in Ecclesiastes or even Job, the existential form has lost its worldviews force, though we must never underestimate its sheer raw impact on a life or community.)

    The challenge of worldview warrant is on the table for Atheism, Agnosticism and fellow traveller views and ideologies also _______

    The above thread makes interesting reading, therefore, given the known penumbra of objector sites.

    KF

  257. 257
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Found this tracing to Mackie:

    https://philosophydungeon.weebly.com/necessary-existence1.html

    some philosophers claim that the idea of a ‘Necessary Being’ doesn’t really make any sense. J. L. Mackie argues that there is always the logical possibility that God might not exist; even if God does in fact exist, there is the possibility that he might not have existed. If Mackie is right, then God is really contingent too and it’s reasonable to ask for an explanation [–> presumably causal with factor f that accounts for possible world W where God is vs neighbouring W’ where he is not] for God’s existence.

    Of course this then invites, where did God come from? Thence, infinite regress and the problem of traverse again. But never mind, let’s look at this.

    First, actually, God is who “from-ness” and “where-ness” come from!

    That is, we are again looking at logic of being and necessary vs contingent being. Let us parallel, where did two-ness come from? We already see that so soon as there is a distinct possible world, there is a contrast, W vs what is not W. Two-ness is there as part of the logic and framework of being of worlds. And as non-being as root of reality is not feasible, reality has always been, there has always been at least one world. Two-ness neither began nor can it cease from being. if it did we could neither think nor communicate, which pivot on distinct identity. (And of course, theists argue that World-zero, the root of reality, is God — the creator-sustainer of all that has been made.)

    We are of course back again at what seems to be a particularly difficult concept to digest, logic of being thus the root: candidate entities, which may be possible or impossible of being, with possible beings being dependent/independent of antecedent on/off enabling causes — so contingent/necessary. In short, we have a coherent framework for candidate, possible and actual beings, which is connected to cause and to world-framework entities. This is a rational, explanatory framework and it answers to the sufficient reason challenge.

    Mackie’s question is misdirected.

    Yes, we can somehow imagine all sorts of things and put in words such as square circles, but such is very different from it is feasible for such a world to be. That is, the “possible” in possible world is a powerful criterion.

    KF

  258. 258
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Found another case, here Jason Thibodeau:

    https://notnotaphilosopher.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/do-theists-need-to-explain-gods-existence-part-1/

    . . . Randal seems to assume that the notion of aseity is the same as the notion of necessary existence. In other words, he assumes that a being that exists a se also exists necessarily. However, I am not sure that he is correct about this. Let’s start by noticing that the concept of aseity is, I think, a combination of two distinct notions: (1) the concept of absolute independence; (2) the concept of having the reason for one’s own existence in one’s own nature. I don’t think it is too difficult to show that these are distinct notions:

    Suppose that there exists a being whose nature guarantees that it will be created. That is, the being is of a nature to be created. Thus, in every possible world in which one or more creators exist, this being will exist because it will be created. Let’s call the property that such a being would have, ‘compulsory createdness.’

    Now, maybe you think that compulsory createdness is an absurd notion, that it is a property that no being could have. I sympathize. However, if we assume that aseity (in particular the idea of a being whose nature contains the reason for its own existence) is a coherent notion (or, indeed, that at least one being exists a se), I don’t see why we would not assume that essential createdness is equally coherent. If anyone thinks that aseity is a coherent notion but that complusory createdness is not, I invite them to provide us with an argument to this effect.

    Here is the point: A being that is compulsorily created has the reason for its existence in its own nature. It exists because it is of a nature that guarantees that it will be created. However, it is not an absolutely independent being

    Of course, this pivots on almost the opposite to Mackie. One tries to make God contingent, another tries to make something contingent into a must-be in all possible worlds. The latter also fails, as if something is contingent it must be such that there is a conceivable, feasible state of affairs where it is, W AND a second neighbouring one W’ where it is not as some factor f is now off. So, the meaning of necessary and contingent is being equivocated.

    So, we are right back to the logic of being framework:

    We are of course back again at what seems to be a particularly difficult concept to digest, logic of being thus the root: candidate entities, which may be possible or impossible of being, with possible beings being dependent/independent of antecedent on/off enabling causes — so contingent/necessary. In short, we have a coherent framework for candidate, possible and actual beings, which is connected to cause and to world-framework entities. This is a rational, explanatory framework and it answers to the sufficient reason challenge.

    This question, too, is misdirected.

    KF

  259. 259
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: From Thibodeau, I found more,

    https://notnotaphilosopher.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/do-theists-need-to-explain-gods-existence-part-2/

    Rauser thinks that by building aseity into the concept of God, the theist is relieved of the responsibility of explaining God’s existence. But I think that this is a bit of a lazy way out of a really interesting problem: the problem of why there is something rather than nothing. Maybe there is a self-existent being and maybe there is not, maybe a self existent being created the universe, maybe the creator of the universe was himself created by some other being (maybe even a self-existent one), maybe a self-existent being sent his only son to die on Earth, or maybe a created being did, or maybe nobody did. Maybe the concept of self-existence makes sense and maybe it does not. But we don’t get to go around saying that we know that there is a self-existent being, that we know why there exists something rather than nothing, just because we have a concept with the very notion of existence built into it.

    Now, trivially, no-thing means non-being in the ontological sense. Were there ever non-being — as such has no causal powers — such would forever obtain. Therefore, if a world now is, something (ultimately, the root of reality) always was. Thus, again, necessary being world root capable to account for us as rational, morally governed creatures is a pivotal challenge.

    {OKAY, I WILL COME BACK TO THIS ONE, WIP as duties call]

    {OKAY, BACK . . . ]

    Further to this, given a context of logic of being, a necessary, world framework being is not an arbitrary concept, and particularly, a world-root necessary being is not an arbitrary concept. Where also, the God of ethical theism is a serious candidate. Further, not all beings are caused in the sense of between possible world W and W’, due to on/off state of some factor f in W vs W’, some entity G is in W but not W’. Certain things are part of the enabling framework for any world to be and cannot not-be so long as any world is. So, there is not an evasion of responsibility once that context is on the table. However, sometimes, it is not.

    Further to this, we are dealing with what enables worlds with rational, morally governed creatures — us — to be. That requires a necessary being, world-root entity adequate to ground ought. The only serious candidate for that — notice, how this aspect is not addressed in the objection — is an inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of our loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature. If you doubt this, simply pose an alternative and explain how it passes the comparative difficulties challenge _______ .

    As for speculative suggestions provided without warrant (apart from creating an aura of being alternatives) what grounds are there to take them as more serious than empty speculation? _________

    So, it seems that the warrant challenge shoe is actually on the other foot.

    KF

  260. 260
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Well, I have considered most of the issues you raise below (and have even participated in discussions of them here).

  261. 261
    john_a_designer says:

    Atheism per se as just disbelief doesn’t offer much in terms of rationale, justification or warrant. In other words, atheism per se (just disbelief) is nothing more than nihilism. I have said this here before, “if I were an atheist I wouldn’t bother anyone else.” What’s the point? How does atheism improve anyone’s life? Furthermore, how can it be justified epistemologically or ontologically? If we are honest, it can’t. Nihilistic atheism is quite harmless if it wasn’t for people who haven’t come to terms yet with its logical implications. Again, if it’s just disbelief why try to push it on anyone else?

    On the other hand, there are atheistic world views, naturalism, materialism and some forms of humanism etc. which do present something of an intellectual challenge. We see this kind of atheism exhibited, often very aggressively, in the thinking writing of Sagan, Provine, Dawkins, Ruse, Hitchens etc. (that’s about half the people I can think of off the top of my head) who try to use science (which is really “scientism”) to try to justify their “scientistic” world view. In other words, it’s not atheism per se which is the challenge; it is many atheistic world views which are promoted and marketed as being grounded and based on science which try to monopolize the discussion and debate.

  262. 262
    daveS says:

    JAD,

    Speaking for myself, I am interested in whether atheism is true or not; whether it can or can’t improve anyone’s life is unimportant to me.

    And I certainly don’t want to push it on anyone else. However, in view of the title of this thread, this seems an appropriate venue to discuss/debate atheism, theism, and related issues, which I do occasionally enjoy.

  263. 263
    kairosfocus says:

    Back, augmented.

  264. 264
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, you have raised several serious concerns. And when we see notions like, to believe in God is to be delusional, or to be raised in a theistic tradition is tantamount to child abuse, or schemes that boil down to social, professional and media marginalisation or even scapegoating, things have gone way too far. Even the attempt to dress up atheism in the lab coat is questionable. KF

  265. 265
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On curiosity, I looked for some of the penumbra of attack, and picked up a sampler, from several participants in a group:

    >”Atheism seems to be on the table these days here at Uncommon Descent and a few
    >points need clarification.”
    >
    …no they don’t. It’s already benn clarified…it’s really quite
    simple. We reject the extraordinary claim for the existence of a
    “God”/gods because there’s NO verifiable evidence to support the silly
    notion.

    ..now, is the [vulgarity deleted] clear enough for you Dunky ? If not, I’d suggest
    some remedial education in logical reasoning.

    [ . . . . ]

    Speaking as one that everything just took the time to create itself.

    [ . . . . ]

    A rather pathetic whine. Meanwhile there is not a whimper or glimpse
    of gods in evidence. Consider that even if there were booming voices
    from the clouds we could not even then conclude the presence of gods.
    As it is we have nothing at all. Just a load of whining.

    [ . . . . ]

    Atheism is the birth right of every human being….needs no clarification!

    [ . . . . ]

    Yes, NATURE took millions of years to make things!

    It works without satisfying your mood……or you delusion in the form of a pixie which is untenable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Let’s look at these typical claims, as they reflect the sort of frame of reasoning that drives many who are locked into evolutionary materialistic scientism [which, recall, is inherently self-referentially incoherent and self-falsifying at the outset]:

    >>It’s already benn clarified>>

    1 –> It is clear from the above that even the definition of atheism is in need of clarification (especially weak form, so-called) and that its setting in worldviews frameworks faces the same challenge of comparative difficulties that every responsible worldview faces.

    2 –> Let’s elaborate briefly on the self-referential undermining of rationality, from Haldane:

    “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. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    . . . and Reppert:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A [–> notice, state of a wetware, electrochemically operated computational substrate], which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief [–> concious, perceptual state or disposition] that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    3 –> That is, we already see that atheism has no right to claim to be a default worldview, and/or to put on a lab coat and put up that it is the proper view of a rational, scientifically informed person.

    >>…it’s really quite simple. We reject the extraordinary claim for the existence of a
    “God”/gods>>

    4 –> Clifford/Sagan evidentialism fails its own test, as it implies an infinite regress of warrant and/or embeds self-serving selective hyperskepticism: the “extraordinary” claims that demand “extraordinary evidence” — i.e. evidence not likely to be available given our epistemic challenges — is likely to mean, worldview and/or factual claims one does not like.

    5 –> Instead, worldview claims and factual claims should be addressed on responsible, fair-minded assessment of adequate, reasonably accessible evidence.

    >> because there’s NO verifiable evidence to support the silly notion.>>

    6 –> likely, echoes the 50 years dead verification principle that in effect only analytic claims and empirically/operationally verifiable claims are meaningful. Unfortunately, the verification principle in its various forms and derivatives — formerly used to try to wreak havoc on metaphysics, theology etc — fails its own test. But it took decades for that point to get through.

    7 –> Next, what counts as evidence? Does the logic of being i/l/o possible worlds semantics, clarifying what it means to be impossible/possible or contingent/necessary, or causally dependent on on/off enabling factors? (In that light, does an analysis of the fire tetrahedron count as evidence, being a discussion of how such enabling factors affect that which begins, is sustained and may cease, vs. what is embedded in the framework for a world to be possible, vs. the infinite regress supertask faced by a worldview that implies that a quasi-physical causal-temporal chain of finite stages has traversed an implicitly transfinite past in successive steps? Etc?)

    8 –> Where, such is directly connected to Wigner’s unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics?

    9 –> Where, further, the relevant warrant challenge is to support the claim that there is no God and/or no reasonably accessible evidence that warrants responsible belief in God. Where, God is indubitably a serious candidate necessary being root of reality. Serious candidate NB’s are either impossible of being or are present as foundation for possible or actual existence of any feasible world. So, the warrant that God is not in fact a serious candidate NB is: __________ and/or, the warrant that God is impossible of being is: _________ ?

    10 –> Where, the notion that between two worlds W and its close neighbour W’ there is an enabling/disabling factor f such that God is contingent on such so present in W but not W’ as f is off in the latter, simply will not pass the smell test.

    11 –> Where, further, especially post Plantinga’s free will defense, the logical problem of evil is effectively dead (which is why it is no longer common in serious discussions). That is, the most common reason formerly adduced to infer that God is impossible of being has failed.

    12 –> Similarly, notions that suggest things like if God is omnipotent he should be able to create a stone too heavy for him to lift or a square circle etc fail as being empty forms of words. That which is intrinsically impossible of being is a non-being and that which is repugnant to the goodness of God etc are not proper objections to the existence of God.

    13 –> The “silly notion” sneer fails, and fails in ways that are revealing about underlying contempt. In some cases, certainly historically, that contempt has been a warning-sign of a far more serious, dangerous attitude: misanthropy.

    14 –> Furthermore, as this is an ID blog, let us note that there is considerable evidence of design in the world of life (which is full of functionally specific, complex organisation and/or linked information) and in the fine tuning of a cosmos that sustains such life. Of course, the only actually empirically observed source of FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 bits is intelligently directed configuration, which is backed up by search challenge in beyond astronomically large haystacks.

    15 –> But of course, the extraordinary claim that blind chance and/or mechanical necessity have created such FSCO/I and/or account for relevant fine tuning (as opposed to Boltzmann brain fluctuations or the like) has never been empirically observed or analytically sustained, it has simply been imposed by institutional domination backed by hardened, hostile mindsets.

    >>..now, is the [vulgarity deleted] clear enough for you Dunky ? If not, I’d suggest
    some remedial education in logical reasoning.>>

    16 –> Fallacy of turnabout projection and dismissal without serious engagement on issues of warrant. Speaking of which, we are still looking for the actual warrant for atheistical views.

    >>Speaking as one that everything just took the time to create itself. >>

    17 –> Fallacy of circular causal origin and/or traversal of infinite past regress.

    >>A rather pathetic whine.>>

    18 –> Contempt-laced dismissal rather than serious engagement of comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power.

    >> Meanwhile there is not a whimper or glimpse of gods in evidence.>>

    19 –> Fallacious conflation of contingent pagan dieties with the inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. This reflects the corrupt definition of theism now commonly advanced that fails to recognise that the term is effectively the short form for monotheism, which then muddies the distinction in logic of being between what is contingent and what is necessary.

    20 –> Again, what counts as evidence, cf. the above.

    >> Consider that even if there were booming voices from the clouds we could not even then conclude the presence of gods. As it is we have nothing at all. Just a load of whining.>>

    21 –> Closed minded dismissiveness and the “no evidence” strawman caricature on your part does not constitute actual lack of a good worldviews case on the part of ethical theists. What it does point to is the insistent locking out of God from what is accepted as knowledge, likely pointing to setting up crooked yardsticks as standards of what is straight and/or accurate and/or upright. Notice, the strawmannish caricature of theistic warrant.

    22 –> One whose thinking has been so warped will reject what is genuinely these things as they cannot conform to the standard of crookedness.

    >>Atheism is the birth right of every human being….needs no clarification! >>

    23 –> The atheism is default notion. The “needs no clarification” claim is a refusal to adequately define and justify i/l/o comparative difficulties.

    >>Yes, NATURE took millions of years to make things!>>

    24 –> evolutionary materialistic scientism, joined to implicit dismissal of evidence of design in the world of life and the fine tuned cosmos.

    >>It works without satisfying your mood……>>

    25 –> Projection of emotional clinging, even while there is abundant evidence in this thread being clipped, of deeply emotive roots of attitudes and thought.

    >>or you delusion in the form of a pixie which is untenable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! >>

    26 –> The delusion projection. Notice, the contempt-laced caricature by comparison to a fairy tale creature and linked magic.

    ______________

    Fair comment: while these are hardly leading atheistical spokesmen, this reflects a too common underlying attitude that needs serious adjustment. The so-called new atheism has not helped matters in our civilisation.

    KF

  266. 266
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: The same search tossed up this from a certain Laika, April 12, 2015:

    https://www.religiousforums.com/threads/strong-atheisms-burden-of-proof.175945/

    This question is directed more specifically at strong atheists who make a positive assertion that god does not objectively exist rather than weak atheists who have grounds for not having a subjective belief in god. Realizing this is the case, I’ve actually decided to change my position to an agnostic as I cannot objectively prove Atheism is true (agnosticism and weak atheism are barely distinguishable).

    I honestly, don’t know how it would be done because it appears to involve radical changes in how we define the nature of objective reality and would appear to involve considerable amount of philosophy in addition to a scientific method to approach the question. I suspect it’s closely related to philosophical materialism, but I’m not 100% sure. Given the breadth of the question I felt I needed to throw it out to everyone on RF and just see what comes up.

    So I wanted to ask:

    i) how does a (Strong) Atheist set about to prove that god’s non-existence is an objectively truth- irrespective of the beliefs of agnostics, theists etc?

    ii) what proof would be required for a believer to voluntarily give up their belief in god/gods?

    This of course immediately warrants that the OP and early exchanges above are very relevant. We see here a case observed in the wild.

    An immediate, brief reply is also significant: “I don’t see how the non-existence of something can be proved. What can be demonstrated is the lack of evidence, though absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.”

    It seems to me that induced ignorance of evidence (I blame our formal and informal education systems for failing to provide good worldviews analysis foundations) and linked rise of polarisation lead to a situation where there is widespread substitution of crooked yardsticks for sound ones. At minimum, we need to understand the force of Agrippa’s trilemma on warrant, and how it leads to a worldviews, comparative difficulties approach thus a diversity of views on what are accepted core first plausibles. In that context we need to rehabilitate the concept that there are certain self-evident truths with ability to serve as naturally straight and upright plumb-lines that correct crooked yardsticks. For example, Josiah Royce long since highlighted the significance of the premise that error exists. Similarly, distinct identity and close corollaries such as LEM and LNC, also the panoply of numbers, will help a lot. Similarly, an assessment of logic of being. See here on in context.

    From this, we can clear out a lot of worldviews confusion and needless polarisation that seem to be all too common across our civilisation.

    And BTW, on evidence, world views comparative difficulties warrants arguments to God, a sampler here may be useful.

    So might be this discussion on atheism.

    This collection of essays on warrant for the Christian faith may help. (See my own summary here on in context, starting with a video.)

    These answers may also be helpful.

    KF

  267. 267
    kairosfocus says:

    Recall, these are cases seen in the wild.

  268. 268
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On broader worldview commitments that are typically intertwined with atheistical views:

    http://www.apologetics.net/pos.....dview-(II).aspx

    Atheists generally reject the claim that atheism is a worldview[i]. Some say atheism is merely the belief in a single proposition, whereas a worldview is a set of propositions comprising a philosophy of life or a conception of the world. Others say atheism is nothing more than the rejection of all gods and any system of belief one might wrap around this view is diverse and independent. But are these claims reasonable, and if not, why all of the denial? And suppose atheism is a worldview, why does it matter? These questions I will attempt to answer in this post.

    Is it or is it not?

    A single proposition is not a worldview. The proposition “God exists” is no more a worldview than its negation “God does not exist.” It is one’s view of God and the corollaries associated with that view which contribute significantly to worldview. When someone says “an atheist only believes no gods exist” their statement is somewhat misleading. They are using the textbook definition of the word instead of the de facto description of the typical atheist. There may be a rare few out there who do not know or care about anything beyond the belief “there are no gods” (P) but most atheists have a fairly consistent set of corollary belief derived or dependent upon P. Consider the following questions:

    Do most atheists believe matter ultimately precedes mind?
    Do most atheists believe in abiogenesis over biogenesis (that life arose through material processes on earth or on some other world and transported here?)
    Do most atheists believe the world has apparent design produced by material processes instead of actual design by an intelligent agent?
    Do most atheists believe all self-regarding acts are amoral?
    Do most atheists believe the essence of a man ceases to exist at death?
    Do most atheists believe the only purpose for existence is that which one self-determines?
    Do most atheists value reason over faith and in significant numbers devalue faith altogether?
    Do most atheists believe man is the primary determinant of man’s future?

    Of course the answer is yes to most of these questions for most atheists.[ii] And these questions of origin, purpose, morality and destiny are the kinds of questions comprising worldview. One may find some variation in response to the above just as Christians for example do not agree on every issue, but that is not grounds to dismiss the correlation that generally exists. Let’s be candid, atheists do not rally, come together for coffee, write books, debate, argue, criticize, litigate, and devote scores of hours to atheist-causes merely because they hold to a single contrary proposition to theists. No, many atheists have a substantive and comprehensive worldview, one that is derived and dependent upon their view of God, and one that motivates their behavior.[iii] Given who atheists generally are in terms of common core belief comprising worldview, it is obvious atheism is a richer description than just one who holds to a single proposition regarding nonexistence. This richer description is a worldview.
    Why deny it?

    So what’s the big deal? Why would not atheists simply respond: “Yeah, atheism is a worldview, so what?” There are at least two answers; one clear-cut and the other a little more difficult to prove. I’ll just mention the later and then move right on to the former. The more atheism is acknowledged as a worldview, the more it will be recognized as a religion, and I don’t need to explain why this is an anathema to the atheist[iv]. But let’s skip this one and move on to a more tenable explanation as to why there is denial. Recognizing atheism as a worldview puts a new epistemic burden on the atheist. To start with:

    If a core proposition (P) in one’s worldview is without warrant, then any corollary propositions (P1, P2 … Pn) of P are also unwarranted unless they have independent warrant.

    Say because I believe that P (there are no gods), I also believe that P1, P2, and P3 given they are corollaries of P. I may very well have done my epistemic duty accepting corollaries P1, P2 and P3 given I have warrant (good reason) to believe that P. But what if I do not have good reason for that P? What if I assume there are no gods merely because I have no good reason for believing there are? In the absence of independent warrant for that P1, P2 and P3, I am slacking off my epistemic duty if I accept them. When the new atheist says: “you have not given me any good reason for believing Q” that does not mean therefore Q is false. One should be agnostic to Q merely on this basis. Building a worldview on a proposition you ought to be agnostic on is epistemic negligence. I won’t rehash what I’ve gone into at length in my previous post. But suffice it to say the atheist does not want this additional epistemic burden.

    If my point is still unclear, consider the following example. If I believe there are no gods (P) then I may very well believe design in nature is apparent and not actual (P1). P1 is a corollary belief on P because it is highly implausible, given that P; design in nature is actually due to the action of an intelligent agent[v]. Therefore, given that P1, my perspective on intelligent design (ID) is likely to be clouded. My skepticism of ID will most likely be exceedingly higher than my skepticism of abiogenesis. But without independent warrant for that P1, this bias is based solely on that P. But if the proper epistemic position for that P is agnosticism, then such bias is unwarranted.

    It should be clear at this point the core proposition of the atheistic worldview “there are no gods” (P) must be warranted and accepted because there is good reason to accept it. Otherwise, without warrant, atheism as a worldview is a house of cards. One must have good reason for that P and not merely accept it as a default or hold the view as an agnostic. Otherwise, such a person cannot honestly claim their worldview, which depends significantly on that P, has epistemic integrity. But given the popularity of the sort of weak/default atheism displayed by the most prominent new atheists today, a house of cards it often appears to be.
    Why does it matter?

    In some ways it doesn’t. It is not illegal to deny what atheism is any more than it is to have a straw worldview. But atheist activism is on the rise. Skepticism and unbelief are on the rise[vi]. Prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins at the recent Reason Rally are as blatant as ever in their attacks. Their strategy is to “ridicule and show contempt” for what religious people hold dear while allegedly taking the high road of reason. Ironically it may be their high-calling of rationalism that is their unraveling. In the meantime, I hope others will stand up for those being deceived into thinking one has to check their brains out at the church door except when entering the church of atheism.

    Every worldview faces the challenge of warrant as a responsible, reasonable faith and cannot avoid the challenge of unprovable first plausibles.

    KF

  269. 269
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: The lurking issue of moral grounding is also relevant. Theo Hobson:

    https://www.spectator.com.au/2014/04/atheisms-empty-tomb/

    Atheism has crept so close to religion these days that it’s de rigueur for political atheists like Ed Miliband to boast about a dual identity: a secular allegiance to a religions tradition, in his case Judaism. They don’t of course believe any of the mumbo jumbo about God, prophets and angels.

    But as pleasant and rational as this all sounds, the new atheists are now hitting the intellectual buffers. The problem that confronts them is as stark as it is simple: our morality has religious roots. Put another way: when God is rejected, the stakes are gulpingly high; the entire moral tradition of the West is put in question.

    This was the insight of Friedrich Nietzsche — and for all the different atheist thinkers and philosophers since, it remains just as true today. It’s all very well to say that blind faith is a bad idea, and that we should move beyond it to a more enlightened ethical system, but this raises the question of what we mean by good and bad, and those ideas are irrevocably rooted in Christianity. Nietzsche saw this, and had the courage to seek a new ethos amid the collapse of all modern systems of meaning. Did he find one? Yes, in pagan power-worship — the sort that eventually led to fascism. We think of him as mad and bad — but he was brave. Imagine Ed Miliband trying to follow in this tradition, gazing into the abyss of all meaning, the dark crucible of nihilism.

    The trouble is that too many atheists simply assume the truth of secular humanism, that it is the axiomatic ideology: just there, our natural condition, once religious error is removed. They think morality just comes naturally. It bubbles up, it’s instinctive, not taught as part of a cultural tradition. In The God Delusion Richard Dawkins tries to strengthen this claim using his biological expertise, arguing that humans have evolved to be altruistic because it ultimately helps their genes to survive. But in the end, he admits that no firm case can be made concerning the evolutionary basis of morality. He’s just gesturing with his expertise, rather than really applying it to the issue at hand. . . .

    A warning. One, given history over the past 100 years, with grim potential consequences.

    KF

  270. 270
    Brother Brian says:

    270 comments in and nobody has brought up the fact that atheism is the default position. The burden of proof is on the theist, not the atheist.

    Many arguments against atheism that I have read are based on perceived outrageous ideas of what an atheist society would look like. And, in spite of the variations on this, I see these as more evidence for atheism. If we look through history we can see societies that come close to matching these types of societies. If God does exist, he is obviously incompetent at getting his message out. He needs a good marketing team.

  271. 271
    asauber says:

    “nobody has brought up the fact that atheism is the default position”

    That’s because it’s not the default position, Brother Blockhead.

    Andrew

  272. 272
    daveS says:

    KF,

    From the apologetics article:

    Do most atheists value reason over faith and in significant numbers devalue faith altogether?

    In these discussions, it seems to me that “faith” ends up being defined more or less as rational, evidence-based belief. What exactly is the difference between a judgement based on reason and one based on faith?

  273. 273
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, you obviously have not read the OP. Atheists like to claim that atheism holds default, but that rhetorical stance lacks warrant, especially when considered from the point that the atheistical claims are just a part of a wid3er worldview. Busy now, more later. KF

  274. 274
    asauber says:

    BB,

    It only takes a moment for a reasonable person to realize that ‘I don’t know’ is the default position. After that normally comes a desire for the knowledge, if its possible to acquire. For a person to close their mind off before they even get started is anti-science. Atheists are anti-science, and you are one of their Poster Boys.

    Andrew

  275. 275
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    BB, you obviously have not read the OP. Atheists like to claim that atheism holds default, but that rhetorical stance lacks warrant,…

    That is where you are wrong. The requirement for a “warrant” (and burden of proof) lies with the person claiming that something exists, not with the person claiming that there is no evidence for its existence. For example, do I require warrant backed up with evidence and argument to claim that the default position should be that Santa Clause and leprechauns don’t exist, or is this warrant borne by those who claim that they do exist.

    By default, I have no obligation to provide evidence that God does not exist. It is up to those who do believe that he exists to provide compelling evidence of such.

  276. 276
    Silver Asiatic says:

    An explanation is required for Existence or Being.
    The default position is that you exist and that other things exist.
    Some explanation is required for that.
    The atheist view is that there is no explanation. That view is irrational.
    The explanation that accords with reason is that God is the explanation for that which exists.

  277. 277
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    In these discussions, it seems to me that “faith” ends up being defined more or less as rational, evidence-based belief. What exactly is the difference between a judgement based on reason and one based on faith?

    First of all, faith is required for any kind of rational judgement. Faith is the foundation for a reason-based view. We must have faith that reason and logic direct us to what is good. We have faith that the pursuit of truth has meaning or value and that we should pursue Truth as a moral good.

    So, we start with faith. A reason-based approach, actually starts with faith in those principles. The principles cannot be evaluated by reason, because faith in the value of those principles is required in order to use any reason. It is possible for a person to assert that reason is not valuable or that truth is not a moral requirement. A person could claim that they do not accept the value of the law of non-contradiction. In the West, we would call that person irrational. It’s a person acting against human nature. But it’s possible, because we have to have faith in the foundations of reason.

    On this site, we argue from a rational, evidence-based position. Faith has two meanings in this case. There is the faith I mentioned, which is a belief in the unprovable foundations of reason – faith in the value of rational, logical argument and faith that living by integrity of reason is a necessary thing — that’s one kind of faith.
    Then, building on that, there is what we might call “divine faith” which is the faith that is oriented towards the presence of God and the willingness to communicate with God and follow what God is teaching to the person. That’s a higher level of Faith, going beyond just faith in the rational process itself (which can be done without reference to God).

  278. 278
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    any worldview has a burden of appropriate warrant per comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power. I know, I know, there is a common rhetorical talking point that those who advoicate atheism (esp. in the so-called “weak” form) aren’t asserting anything and so hold default. Simply wrong and an evasion of worldview responsibilities. Just for starters, consider whether you hold that mind comes from brain as computational substrate and why (i/l/o the issue of computation vs rational inference). Then similarly, on OOl and OO body plans, then origin of the world. Pretty soon, it will be clear that your worldview is evolutionary materialistic scientismn, which is known to be both amoral and self referentially incoherent. Dressing up in a lab coat does not evade this challenge of thinking through across major worldview options. The unmet warrant challenge of atheism still stands. KF

  279. 279
    daveS says:

    SA,

    I think we have very different perspectives on this, but I’ll try and engage with one of your points. While the principles underlying reason and logic (the 3 classical laws of thought, I take it), may not be provable, surely they must be falsifiable, right? If so, they are testable. And if they always pass those tests, then I can be somewhat confident that they are correct, even without exercising any faith.

  280. 280
    kairosfocus says:

    DS

    Actually the famed three laws of thought can neither be proved nor disproved: the act of trying to do either inevitably uses them implicitly — something Epictetus long ago recognised. That’s one reason they are taken as undeniably true and so self-evident first principles. We trust them as part of where proofs and reasoning more broadly must start.

    Yet more broadly, ponder a claim A you accept. Why? B (some argument, evidence, observation etc). Similarly, why B? C, etc. This forces infinite regress or circularity or a finitely remote set of first plausibles. That defines your faith-point,

    KF

  281. 281
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    270 comments in and nobody has brought up the fact that atheism is the default position.

    Except for the fact that babies are born still connected to the One. They have to be trained to forget about it.

  282. 282
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    While the principles underlying reason and logic (the 3 classical laws of thought, I take it), may not be provable, surely they must be falsifiable, right? If so, they are testable. And if they always pass those tests, then I can be somewhat confident that they are correct, even without exercising any faith.

    Yes, the three laws are not provable. They are laws. They are the First Principles of Reason. As such, they cannot be proven and they cannot be tested. In order to conduct any kind of test, you have to rely on those laws, and that is obviously circular.

    Those First Principles can only be accepted by faith – not by a rational process.

    It seems that we could test those Principles. For example, the Law of Identity. Is each thing composed of its own unique set of characteristic qualities or features? To test this law, you have to accept what is meant by “unique” and “to identify”. These are philosophical assumptions.
    For example, if I said that “everything is one”, then the Law of Identity would be false. There is no way to test the idea that “everything is one”. It just is. We might say that things “look different” but in reality a person says they are not really different. They are all composed of exactly the same thing, there is no difference between air molecules and the molecules of the house – they are all one field of an invisible substance – like one large energy field that we cannot detect. There is no way to test that one thing has exactly the same invisible substance as another. It is like looking at a cloud cover in the sky and counting exactly how many clouds. Are there ten clouds? Or maybe just two? Are they all joined together with a faint trace of cloud that we can barely see?
    What is the correct answer here? We only know arbitrarily because we identify one cloud and another. It could be that way with all of reality.

    We accept the three Laws because we want to be rational. We want to be rational because we accept, by faith, that reason is a good thing. We could accept, by faith, that irrationality is good (although logically that is impossible, but we don’t have to accept logic).

  283. 283
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF @ 280
    A good and simpler explanation, thank you.

    Yet more broadly, ponder a claim A you accept …

    Yes, to test something, we identify claim A, then measure the effects or results.

    However, to identify claim A, we must accept that there is a real difference between claim A and all other claims. If we said, “the Law of Identity requires that there is a difference between the one and the other”, then that is right. However, in this case claim A is the Law of Identity. We would be attempting to test a first principle that is actually required to do any testing at all.
    We can’t use the truth of claim A to test the truth of claim A.

  284. 284
    kairosfocus says:

    ET (attn, BB),

    The claim is simply false from OP onwards. For example note from 11 above (as was then taken up to the OP, first, here clipping SEP:

    1. Definitions of “Atheism”

    “Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

    This definition has the added virtue of making atheism a direct answer to one of the most important metaphysical questions in philosophy of religion, namely, “Is there a God?” There are only two possible direct answers to this question: “yes”, which is theism, and “no”, which is atheism. Answers like “I don’t know”, “no one knows”, “I don’t care”, “an affirmative answer has never been established”, or “the question is meaningless” are not direct answers to this question.

    While identifying atheism with the metaphysical claim that there is no God (or that there are no gods) is particularly useful for doing philosophy, it is important to recognize that the term “atheism” is polysemous—i.e., it has more than one related meaning—even within philosophy. For example, many writers at least implicitly identify atheism with a positive metaphysical theory like naturalism or even materialism. Given this sense of the word, the meaning of “atheism” is not straightforwardly derived from the meaning of “theism”. While this might seem etymologically bizarre, perhaps a case can be made for the claim that something like (metaphysical) naturalism was originally labeled “atheism” only because of the cultural dominance of non-naturalist forms of theism, not because the view being labeled was nothing more than the denial of theism. On this view, there would have been atheists even if no theists ever existed—they just wouldn’t have been called “atheists”. (Baggini [2003] suggests this line of thought, though his “official” definition is the standard metaphysical one.) Although this definition of “atheism” is a legitimate one, it is often accompanied by fallacious inferences from the (alleged) falsity or probable falsity of atheism (= naturalism) to the truth or probable truth of theism.

    Departing even more radically from the norm in philosophy, a few philosophers and quite a few non-philosophers claim that “atheism” shouldn’t be defined as a proposition at all, even if theism is a proposition. Instead, “atheism” should be defined as a psychological state: the state of not believing in the existence of God (or gods). This view was famously proposed by the philosopher Antony Flew and arguably played a role in his (1972) defense of an alleged presumption of “atheism”. The editors of the Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Bullivant & Ruse 2013) also favor this definition and one of them, Stephen Bullivant (2013), defends it on grounds of scholarly utility. His argument is that this definition can best serve as an umbrella term for a wide variety of positions that have been identified with atheism. Scholars can then use adjectives like “strong” and “weak” to develop a taxonomy that differentiates various specific atheisms. Unfortunately, this argument overlooks the fact that, if atheism is defined as a psychological state, then no proposition can count as a form of atheism because a proposition is not a psychological state. This undermines his argument in defense of Flew’s definition; for it implies that what he calls “strong atheism”—the proposition (or belief in the sense of “something believed”) that there is no God—is not really a variety of atheism at all. In short, his proposed “umbrella” term leaves strong atheism out in the rain.

    Although Flew’s definition of “atheism” fails as an umbrella term, it is certainly a legitimate definition in the sense that it reports how a significant number of people use the term. Again, there is more than one “correct” definition of “atheism”. The issue for philosophy is which definition is the most useful for scholarly or, more narrowly, philosophical purposes. In other contexts, of course, the issue of how to define “atheism” or “atheist” may look very different. For example, in some contexts the crucial issue may be which definition of “atheist” (as opposed to “atheism”) is the most useful politically, especially in light of the bigotry that those who identify as atheists face. The fact that there is strength in numbers may recommend a very inclusive definition of “atheist” that brings anyone who is not a theist into the fold. Having said that, one would think that it would further no good cause, political or otherwise, to attack fellow non-theists who do not identify as atheists simply because they choose to use the term “atheist” in some other, equally legitimate sense.

    If atheism is usually and best understood in philosophy as the metaphysical claim that God does not exist, then what, one might wonder, should philosophers do with the popular term, “New Atheism”? Philosophers write articles on and have devoted journal issues (French & Wettstein 2013) to the New Atheism, but there is nothing close to a consensus on how that term should be defined. Fortunately, there is no real need for one, because the term “New Atheism” does not pick out some distinctive philosophical position or phenomenon. Instead, it is a popular label for a movement prominently represented by four authors—Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens—whose work is uniformly critical of religion, but beyond that appears to be unified only by timing and popularity.

    By 32, BB’s attention was specifically drawn to 11 above, complete with a link. He repeated his line of argument (sustained since 2 above) and in 37 I again drew his attention to the matter. By 40, this is what he said about an obviously well summarised discussion in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which specifically described the historic sense of “atheism” and the proposal that leads to the “default” claim:

    BB, 40: I did read it [this is SEP, as clipped just above]. I thought that it was a bunch of nonsense. Naval gazing and word-splitting like this really doesn’t interest me or convince me of anything.

    Translation, BB is utterly locked into a crooked yardstick as standard for straight and upright so facts and highly informed expert reasoning to the contrary don’t even faze him, they are dismissed out of hand as “Naval gazing and word-splitting”. Notice, at 58 above, I proceeded to cite Aveling reporting on his visit with Darwin, which was one of the earliest records of the claim he makes, which I then corrected by reference to SEP as already clipped:

    [Having been invited to lunch and at the end of the meal with a Dr Büchner of Germany, withdrawing to Darwin’s study, so] once we were within the walls of his study, and he was sitting in most unconventional fashion in the large, well-worn easy chair, almost the first thing he said was, “Why do you call yourselves Atheists?” . . . . It was pointed out that the Greek [ALPHA] was privative, not negative; that whilst we did not commit the folly of god-denial, we avoided with equal care the folly of god-assertion: that as god was not proven, we were without god (ATHEOI) and by consequence were with hope in this world, and in this world alone . . . with point after point of our argument he agreed; statement on statement that was made he endorsed, saying finally: “I am with you in thought, but I should prefer the word Agnostic to the word Atheist.”

    Upon this the suggestion was made that, after all, “Agnostic” was but “Atheist” writ respectable, and “Atheist” was only “Agnostic” writ aggressive. To say that one did not know was the verbal equivalent of saying that one was destitute of the god-idea, whilst at the same time a sop was thrown to the Cerberus of society by the adoption of a name less determined and uncompromising. At this he smiled and asked: “Why should you be so aggressive? Is anything gained by trying to force these new ideas upon the mass of mankind? It is all very well for educated, cultured, thoughtful people; but are the masses yet ripe for it?”

    I commented: “We have been over this ground before, and the SEP remarks are right on target,” then quoted 11 above. In 63, I noted in further response to BB, regarding his outsiders cannot properly understand insinuation:

    I should point out to you that ex atheist exhibit no 1 for the past 100 years is a certain Clive Staples Lewis, who wrote essays, books and even Sci Fi and Children’s novels relevant to the matter. On my part, I cut my intellectual eyeteeth on a Marxist Uni Campus, where atheism is historically a requisite for Party Membership [the campus was the de facto HQ for the main Communist Party there]. What atheism is and has been, is no secret, including the novel formulation promoted in recent years by Dawkins et al. No surprise, in that light, that it is rhetorically effective but philosophically questionable — almost a signature of that movement that refused to do their phil home work. I have pointed out that atheistical commitment will be part of a wider worldview, which means there are many different particular atheistical worldviews, where there will be in-built cultural consequences and agendas. The atheistical position, consistently will deny/dismiss or imply denial/dismissal of the existence of God, usually with the implication that the one who so denies/dismisses claims to be epistemically well warranted. This also holds for the so-called weak form, which typically seeks to shift burden of worldview warrant in favour of claiming atheism as a default. All of that is widely and very publicly documented and exemplified, including in excerpts above. So, I am not particularly impressed by the rhetorical tack you have led in the thread above.

    Then, notice what happened earlier today when I went to an attack-site and cited then commented on the claims of several participants, in 265 above, with further clips in 266 and a remark that these are about in-the-wild cases. By 268, I clipped another response on the worldviews warrant responsibilities that were on the table since the OP.

    By 270, BB again pops us with what is now a demonstrable falsehood seeking to profit rhetorically by it being perceived as truth: “270 comments in and nobody has brought up the fact that atheism is the default position. The burden of proof is on the theist, not the atheist.” False, and as BB had tried to dismiss a well founded remark from SEP in 11 above, we can safely conclude, deliberately, knowingly misleading in disregard to duties to truth. Trollish, on fair comment.

    I should now mark up how he continued, as though I had primarily spoken to the notorious consequences of atheism in power over the past century or so:

    Many arguments against atheism that I have read [–> not in the thread above, BB, the primary arguments have been about an unmet burden of worldview warrant] are based on perceived outrageous ideas of what an atheist society would look like [–> actually, atheistical societies have been tried, certainly starting with the Russian revolution and some would argue aspects going to the French one, the horrors that resulted were anything but imaginary, with north of 100 millions killed] . And, in spite of the variations on this, I see these as more evidence for atheism [–> warnings on the consequences of atheism are arguments FOR it?].

    The conclusion is plain, BB has failed to seriously consider a serious matter, much less to have regard for simple truth about the actual course of the discussion. I would say, credibility reduced to zero, but it clearly was already there. We would be well advised to take any further remarks by this objector as only illustrative of the problem, not ways to a sensible solution.

    KF

    PS, Let me again clip from 268:

    A single proposition is not a worldview. The proposition “God exists” is no more a worldview than its negation “God does not exist.” It is one’s view of God and the corollaries associated with that view which contribute significantly to worldview. When someone says “an atheist only believes no gods exist” their statement is somewhat misleading. They are using the textbook definition of the word instead of the de facto description of the typical atheist. There may be a rare few out there who do not know or care about anything beyond the belief “there are no gods” (P) but most atheists have a fairly consistent set of corollary belief derived or dependent upon P. Consider the following questions:

    Do most atheists believe matter ultimately precedes mind?
    Do most atheists believe in abiogenesis over biogenesis (that life arose through material processes on earth or on some other world and transported here?)
    Do most atheists believe the world has apparent design produced by material processes instead of actual design by an intelligent agent?
    Do most atheists believe all self-regarding acts are amoral?
    Do most atheists believe the essence of a man ceases to exist at death?
    Do most atheists believe the only purpose for existence is that which one self-determines?
    Do most atheists value reason over faith and in significant numbers devalue faith altogether?
    Do most atheists believe man is the primary determinant of man’s future?

    Of course the answer is yes to most of these questions for most atheists.[ii] And these questions of origin, purpose, morality and destiny are the kinds of questions comprising worldview. One may find some variation in response to the above just as Christians for example do not agree on every issue, but that is not grounds to dismiss the correlation that generally exists. Let’s be candid, atheists do not rally, come together for coffee, write books, debate, argue, criticize, litigate, and devote scores of hours to atheist-causes merely because they hold to a single contrary proposition to theists. No, many atheists have a substantive and comprehensive worldview, one that is derived and dependent upon their view of God, and one that motivates their behavior.[iii] Given who atheists generally are in terms of common core belief comprising worldview, it is obvious atheism is a richer description than just one who holds to a single proposition regarding nonexistence. This richer description is a worldview.

    That’s what BB et al repeatedly fail to face and address cogently. That leads right back to the now repeatedly confirmed force of my own remarks in the OP:

    from at least the 1880’s, there has been a claim by some advocates of the same, that what is meant is someone without faith in God.

    (This tends to serve the rhetorical purpose of claiming that nothing is asserted and it can be taken as default, demanding that theists provide “compelling” warrant for faith in God. Where, often, this then leads to selectively hyperskeptical dismissals, sometimes to the degree of claiming that “there is no evidence” that supports the existence of God. [Of course, the no evidence gambit should usually be taken as implying ” there is no evidence [that I am willing to acknowledge].” Through that loophole, as fair comment, a lot of clearly question-beggingly closed minded hyperskepticism can be driven.)

    There are many varieties of atheists, including idealistic ones that reject the reality of matter. However at this juncture in our civilisation, the relevant form is evolutionary materialistic, often associated with the scientism that holds that big-S Science effectively monopolises credible knowledge. (Never mind that such a view is an epistemological [thus philosophical and self-refuting] view. Evolutionary materialism is also self-refuting by way of undermining the credibility of mind.)

    A key take-home point is that atheism is not an isolated view or belief, it is part of a wider worldview, where every worldview needs to be responsible before the bar of comparative difficulties: factual adequacy, coherence, balanced explanatory power. Likewise, given the tendency of modern atheism to dress up in a lab coat, we must also reckon with fellow travellers who do not explicitly avow atheism but clearly enable it.

    So, already, we can see that atheism is best understood as disbelief — NB, Dicts: “refusal or reluctance to believe”/ “the inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true” — in the existence of God, claimed or implied to be a well warranted view; not merely having doubts about God’s existence or thinking one does not know enough to hold a strong opinion. It inevitably exists as a part of a broader philosophical scheme, a worldview, and will imply therefore a cultural agenda.

  285. 285
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, yes just to talk about A (as opposed to ~A by implication) the triple principles are already at work. KF

    PS: Epictetus on proving logic:

    Someone asked Epictetus:
    “Convince me that logic is useful.”
    “Would you like me to demonstrate it to you?”
    “Yes.”
    “Then I must use a demonstrative argument.”
    “Agreed.”
    “How will you know if I am misleading you with a dishonest argument?”
    “I don’t know.”
    “Don’t you see, you yourself are admitting that logic is necessary. Without it, you cannot even decide whether you need it or not.”
    Think about this
    “Logic is necessary, since without it you can’t even tell whether it is necessary or not.” Discourses II.25.3. Epictetus [RH]

    As in, what more can we say to that?

  286. 286
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, please note as just above, esp. the PS. KF

  287. 287
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF @285 – that is excellent.

    In that case, the questioner is wondering if logic is useful. What Epictetus does not say is, the answer to the question is that by faith we believe that logic is useful. We cannot prove it is useful, for reasons he gave. So, we just accept it.

    Now, regarding DS’s thought, don’t we merely test the usefulness of logic? In some sense, yes. We discover that logic is not always useful. We tested the usefulness of it and realized that logic is not the best tool in all situations. This is testing the logical structure and formula, which could be done in different ways, that is why we have different kinds of logic. We can use some logical principles to test the usefulness of others.

    However, the first principles of logic are different. We cannot test to see if those are useful. We cannot do any kind of demonstrative argument without using those principles.

    Additionally, I believe it is impossible to live as a human being without making a commitment to rationality. That is part of our nature. We can claim to decide to live irrationally – and that is why we take the first principles on faith. But in reality, all of our thoughts use those first principles, and it would take a super-human effort to live with irrationality as a basis of life.

  288. 288
    daveS says:

    KF and SA,

    Yes, you are correct that the classical rules of thought cannot be falsified. But I don’t see that faith is required to accept them. Could I not simply say they are self-evident?

    One more question: Could any of the 3 laws of thought in fact be false?

  289. 289
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    For example, do I require warrant backed up with evidence and argument to claim that the default position should be that Santa Clause and leprechauns don’t exist …

    A lot has been explained already. Atheism is irrational, for one thing. It has and can offer no explanations.

    But regarding the other, there are no a-leprechaunists. People do not identify themselves that way. They do not declare that they do not believe in leprechauns. So, it’s not a good analogy.

    Atheism exists because people present claims and evidence about the existence of God, people live their entire life for God and many make sacrifices of their life for belief and love of God.

    So, it doesn’t help your case to trivialize such matters.

    The default position is our rational nature. The smallest child asks where the world came from and why things exist. The same child accepts and understands God as a good and true answer to that question.

  290. 290
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, acknowledging the self-evident as true is not a proof, it is an act of reasonable faith. KF

    PS: The principle of distinct identity is not just a self evident and undeniably true law of thought but of reality, ponder sound food vs poison. LNC and LEM are close corollaries, and BTW, the numbers 0,1,2 too leading to core Mathematics. The first principles of right reason can neither be proved or disproved, the effort to do either must start from them, e.g. think of how words and phonemes work.

  291. 291
    daveS says:

    I’m having trouble identifying exactly where the faith comes in.

  292. 292
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    But I don’t see that faith is required to accept them. Could I not simply say they are self-evident?

    Great questions and challenges.
    I think we do say that they are self-evident. However, this masks what is really going on. To see those principles as self-evident, we need to have faith that the reasoning process is necessary and effective.
    In the Catholic Faith, for example, the good use of reason, having integrity in arguments and not “cheating” or denying principles — all of that is considered “Intellectual Virtue”. So, it is a good action to argue fairly and well, and to show integrity. Good actions or virtues make the person a better human being.
    Well, where there is virtue there is also sin. So, to violate principles of reason would be a sin against that virtue.
    We see it happen all the time. A person makes statements that lead to a conclusion. But then a situation occurs where the conclusion is not desired so the person contradicts himself (we see it in the abortion debate or others like that). Then some excuses are made or in some cases, the contradiction is allowed to stand. Why?
    Well, good reason (right reason) is always threatened by sinful or immoral attitudes of cheating, lying, blindness, manipulation, etc.
    A person is not forced to use logic. Instead, logic is a tool for those who want to use rational understanding.
    But the choice to be rational, and the choice to show integrity in arguments – is a choice.
    Why choose to follow the truth? Logic can show us something, but logic requires that a person affirm the value of the truth.
    Many people today believe that pragmatism or utility is more important than logic. This is not the rational intellect at work, but rather the human Will. By the Will, a person just wants something.
    The logic says one thing. But the person chooses against logic because they want something. So, the willful, illogical choice is a threat to the intellect in this case. Or in another case, the logic actually is fine but there a person chooses a better, more moral conclusion reached by the will that contradicts logic also – so we can override logic for good reasons, not just bad.
    The point here is that we accept, by faith, that we are going to use logic and we are going to have integrity in what we do.
    There are some cultures that believe that to tell a lie, for a higher purpose, is a good thing to do. By faith they believe it. In our culture, generally, we believe we should not lie in our arguments. But both positions are based on faith.

    One more question: Could any of the 3 laws of thought in fact be false?

    Yes, I gave an example. “Everything is one”. If that is the case, then Claim A is the same as Claim B.
    We accept, however, by faith that there are differences between Claim A and Claim B.
    By faith, we believe that a solid, integral argument – following the rules of reason, is a good thing. It produces good results.
    In some cases, as I said, by faith we even believe it is a virtue to use good, sound arguments.
    But we can’t prove that.

    The Laws or Logic are true for those who value logic and rationality.
    For those who value something else (like Fideism to a divine revelation) then logic only has limited value. They would have no problem with contradictions if they believe that the end result justifies the means (telling a lie is necessary to achieve the result needed). A person says “Claim A is exactly the same as Claim B”. We can insist that they are obviously different but the person refuses to accept it.

    Governments do such things – they violate the principles. Are the principles thereby false? Well, if a person doesn’t accept them they can’t be proven false. Even if a person accepts them and insists that they must be kept with integrity – that cannot be proven true. They just have to be accepted, by faith, for a reason.

    The reason we accept those 3 Principles is that they “make logic work”. And we want logic to work because, by faith, we believe that logical, rational argument is a good thing. But we can’t prove that logic or rationality is good. We just believe it to be so.

  293. 293
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    I’m having trouble identifying exactly where the faith comes in.

    KF may not agree with my use of the term “faith” here. By faith I mean the acceptance, without proof, of principles. We put our faith in those principles. We have a reason for putting faith there, but we do not accept the First Principles because they have been proven. We cannot prove that logic is something good to use. We observe reality and then choose, by faith, to understand and reason about it – and, yes the First Principles are self-evident at that point, but only after we have decided to evaluate reality and arrive at the truth of things.

  294. 294
    Silver Asiatic says:

    A person is not forced to use logic.

    I am questioning my own proposal here.

    It’s a debatable point. It could be said that we are hard-wired for logic. In that case, no faith would be required to use logical principles. Could we imagine some kind of human life that did not use logic at all?

    I think it’s possible somehow. I’m not sure.

    But to Dave’s point – if the First Principles are embedded into human nature – then my proposal would not be correct. No faith would be required to use them.

    But I think my counterpoint stands — a person could choose some kind of system (oneness) that somewhat conflicts with those first principles. I think it’s just about impossible, but I think it could be done in theory. “There is only one thing”. So, all of reality is one – there could be no comparisons, so no logic possible.

  295. 295
    daveS says:

    Thanks for the responses, SA. I’m on mobile now and can’t respond at length, but I did read your posts.

  296. 296
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, faith is everywhere. We trust our perceptions and minds, we trust first principles of reason, we trust first plausibles that go far beyond what self evident truths can span, we trust that the patterns in the world we perceive mark a stable order, and much more. KF

  297. 297
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    The atheist view is that there is no explanation. That view is irrational.

    I agree. That view would be irrational. But since that is not the atheist view, there is no point discussing it.

    The explanation that accords with reason is that God is the explanation for that which exists.

    An atheist looks at how things exist. How the universe got started. How the solar system formed. How life originated. How life diversified. And, most importantly, what mechanisms were responsible for it all.

    Theists address the “how” by throwing God at it, not addressing how this God did all of it. That does not sound very rational to me.

    The biggest difference is that theists demand a higher purpose/meaning for everything, atheists do not.

  298. 298
    daveS says:

    KF,

    If by “trust”, you mean “provisionally conclude, based on evidence and philosophical reflection”, I agree that we trust in at least some of those things.

  299. 299
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, you have not got any empirically warranted, credible account of the origin of: the cosmos, a solar system hospitable to life, cell based life, body plans, mind, rationality and moral government. The imposition of evolutionary materialistic scientism, and censorship of anything that does not fit that imposition have created an utterly false impression of successful explanation. For example, there is an empirically and analytically well warranted account of origin of functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information — with trillions of cases in point observed and search challenge showing why — intelligently directed configuration, the work of skilled knowing mind using design principles and approaches such as TRIZ. This has been specifically pointed out to you over and over but as is predictable you lock it out and double down on assertions such as just above. Credibility zero confirmed. KF

  300. 300
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    An atheist looks at how things exist. How the universe got started.

    What is the atheistic explanation for this?

  301. 301
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    If by “trust”, you mean “provisionally conclude, based on evidence and philosophical reflection”, I agree that we trust in at least some of those things.

    That’s the same as having faith. But with the First Principles, we accept without evidence. We accept that one thing is different than another. We accept that a proposition cannot be both true and false at the same time. We cannot prove what the term “true” means, but only accept that there are things which are true. We accept by faith that the term “truth” refers to something good.

  302. 302
    kairosfocus says:

    DS & SA:

    The first principles of right reason are in place as necessary factors in our thinking, communicating and even living.

    Strangely enough, a very good source on this a biblical text, where the Apostle Paul speaks to the importance of intelligible communication:

    1 Cor 14: 7 Yet even lifeless things, whether flute or harp, when producing a sound, if they do not produce distinct [musical] tones, how will anyone [listening] know what is piped or played? 8 And if the [war] bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So it is with you, if you speak words [in an unknown tongue] that are not intelligible and clear, how will anyone understand what you are saying? You will be talking into the air [wasting your breath]! [AMP]

    You literally cannot prove distinct identity and close corollaries, as the very attempt necessarily uses said principles, just to be intelligible communication.

    These principles are obviously self-evident, you cannot deny them without the absurdity of relying on them.

    They are undeniably and inescapably true.

    And, they must be taken on trust.

    Indeed, you cannot look at evidence without them: evidence vs non-evidence. Intelligibility to be evidence, etc.

    KF

  303. 303
    daveS says:

    KF,

    And, they must be taken on trust.

    I take it you accept they could be (for all we know) false? Just as we can’t be certain we are not living in a Matrix type simulation.

  304. 304
    Seversky says:

    It seems to me that the three principles of reason, like the physical laws, are simply based on observation of the world and are of value because they are found to apply effectively to that world. For example, we never observe a cat that is both dead and alive at the same time, Schroedinger notwithstanding. In his cat-in-the-box metaphor, one point was that we cannot know whether the cat is dead or alive until we open the box, at which point we always observe that cat to be in one state or the other, which supports that particular law of thought. On the other hand , the cat story meant to illustrate the fact that, at the quantum level, a particle is held to exist in a superposition of all possible states until an act of measurement causes it to settle into just one, which would seem to call. that law into question.

    As I said, in my view these laws are of value because they are abstracted from and describe what we observe to be the nature of things.. We can conjure up any number of imaginary worlds governed by imaginary laws we like. For example we could have one one in which a being of great power can forge a ring in the fires of a volcano which, amongst other things, can confer long life and invisibility on the wearer, But we never observe such phenomena so while it may be entertaining it has no explanatory value.

    Obviously, these laws or principles do not tell us how or why they came to be as they are but applying them and investigative methodologies based on them might. More so than postulating deities which, whether they exist or not, only offer a ‘who’ not a ‘how’ or ‘why’.

  305. 305
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, without these principles we can neither think nor communicate much less prove — as Epictetus so eloquently put the matter. Any attempt to prove or disprove them or suggest a delusional world so they are not applicable is forced to rely on these principles from the outset. We cannot escape them, we cannot refute or discredit them, we cannot prove them. All we can do is implicitly trust them as inescapably true. This is just one way among many that faith is inextricably entangled with reason. Contrary to the attitude of many skeptics, it is not faith vs reason, it is not knowledge and science vs backward superstition and credulousness, it is that faith is pervasively intertwined with all our reasoning and knowing. Speaking of, science is a capital reason why I advocate a weak sense definition of knowledge: warranted, credibly true (and reasonably reliable) belief. Belief is just as operative there as anything, and the point is science is known to be in significant part provisional and open-ended. KF

  306. 306
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I think I agree with most of what you say here.

    My question is: Do you accept that, as far as we know, these laws of thought could be false?

  307. 307
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, to observe and interact with the world we already have to implicitly rely on these principles: an identifiable self, a thinking self, perceptions that are freighted with meanings, an outside world that is the object of observation, etc etc. Laws that we can neither prove nor disprove as such must rely on them. Laws that are self-evidently, undeniably, inescapably, incorrigibly true. We can only trust them and hold one who would disregard them, irrational. And, to do Quantum Mechanics, just to scratch the equations on the proverbial chalkboard, the Physicists were already deeply committed. Then, once one engages structure and quantity, these two are pervaded with these first principles of right reason. KF

  308. 308
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, they are incorrigible, we have to use them in attempts to correct them, as one may imagine. These are more certain than any proof and are embedded in any other self-evident truth. The very notion, could they be false relies on their holding. That is how powerfully they grip us. No, they cannot be false, they are the means by which we in some cases can know some things are false. KF

  309. 309
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Thanks, I think I agree with your conclusion, although I’ll have to consider SA’s scenario as well.

  310. 310
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    What is the atheistic explanation for this?

    There isn’t one that has risen to the surface as a most likely explanation yet but at least people are proposing mechanisms and examining where they are strong and where they are week. Theists just have “God-did-it”, problem solved, move along, nothing to look at here. I prefer curiosity over absolutism.

  311. 311
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    I pick up:

    do I require warrant backed up with evidence and argument to claim that the default position should be that Santa Clause and leprechauns don’t exist

    First, the Bishop of Smyrna, St Nicholas, corrupted to Santa Claus, is a real person. Leprechauns in some sense are possible beings [esp. if you consider that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic]. Both of these cases are contingent beings, reliant on external, enabling on/off causal factors. It is plausible that we could construct a sufficient description of a coherent state of affairs with leprechauns in it. Sci Fi authors do something like that all the time.

    The choice of such comparatives shows the fundamental failure to cogently address logic of being. The proper comparative to God as a serious candidate necessary being is whether a world is possible without two-ness in it or whether a world is possible with a square circle in it. Given that distinction is intrinsic to the framework for any possible world, two-ness is a necessary entity and aspect of any possible world. It never began and cannot cease from being, bringing with it the associated world of numbers. By contrast, a square circle is impossible of being and cannot be present in any world.

    God, being a serious candidate necessary being cannot be ruled out by default. Either he is as the needed root of being behind this and any other worlds or else he is impossible of being and something else of materially different character is that required world root. Where, that root has to not only account for a fine tuned cosmos amenable to C chem aqueous medium cell based life but also the presence of reasoning [not merely computing] morally governed creatures — us. Where, moral government starts with our rationality via duties to truth, right reason, prudence (so, warrant), sound conscience, fairness, justice, etc. We need a necessary being world root that is inherently good, utterly wise and capable of building such a world. Evolutionary materialistic proposals don’t even begin to scratch the surface for what we need.

    The attempt to play definitional gerrymandering rhetorical games and so suggest that atheism is the educated man’s default, fails and fails in a way that reveals the unmet challenge of warrant facing ever so many atheists.

    And of course, it has not escaped notice that attention has been repeatedly drawn to such matters, only to be studiously ignored or diverted from. That brings us back to the issues in the OP on an unmet burden of warrant.

    KF

    PS: Your issuance of yet another dubious explanatory IOU to SA, covering the many previous unmet ones, is duly noted. What is needed is an adequate worldview framework and evolutionary materialistic scientism has no answer for origins of the world, the eternal nature of reality, required world root, origin of a habitable solar system, origin of life, body plans, rational mind (or even computational brains) and origin of moral government. Indeed, it is self-referentially absurd, undermining credibility of mind and doesn’t even begin to adequately found moral government.

  312. 312
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I don’t believe any/many of us are ruling out this candidate necessary being/world root/etc by default. Rather, we are saying that He is nowhere to be seen (in our experience, anyway). We conclude that this candidate likely does not exist.

  313. 313
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    BB, you have not got any empirically warranted, credible account of the origin of: the cosmos,

    I agree. But neither do you. “God-did-it” is not an empirically warranted, credible account.

    a solar system hospitable to life,

    Astrophysicists would disagree with you. But I admit that what they have done, and continue to do, takes a lot more effort and brain power than to simply conclude that “God-did-it”.

    cell based life,

    We have several contenders for an explanation. None of them have risen to the surface yet as a most likely explanation yet. But, again, “God-did-it” is not an explanation. How God did it is. Do you have an explanation of how God did it?

    body plans,

    An explanation for this was provided long ago. And since then we have found more mechanisms and more evidence to support it. “God-did-it”? Not so much.

    mind, rationality

    Nobody has an explanation for this yet. But we do know that there is absolutely no evidence that it exists without the physical brain. We have thousands of examples of the mind and rationality being altered, suspended or destroyed through chemical, physical and electromechanical means. Where are your experiments to show that “God-did-it”?

    and moral government

    Since all of history and all of current human life do not support your version of “moral governance” (ie, humans being governed by objective moral values and the entire IS-OUGHT nonsense) I don’t see the point in discussing an explanation for something that doesn’t exist as you believe it does.

  314. 314
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, methinks it’s how and where one looks. KF

  315. 315
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    This caught my eye:

    humans being governed by objective moral values and the entire IS-OUGHT nonsense

    Thanks for the red flag warning and inadvertent confirmation of the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialism.

    Duly noted, starting with disregard for the duties of reason.

    KF

    PS: Plato gave an apt warning 2350+ years ago:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] 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 . . . [such that] 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 [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] 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.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    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 — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    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 influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

  316. 316
    Silver Asiatic says:

    SA @276 “The atheist view is that there is no explanation. ”
    BB @297 “that is not the atheist view”
    SA @300 “What is the atheistic explanation?”
    BB @310 “There isn’t one”

  317. 317
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS, let’s continue the warning that was bought at the price of the bloody failure of Athenian democracy — this time around, nukes and other horrors are in play:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  318. 318
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS & KF
    The three laws cannot be false, because the derivation of True versus False in propositions relies on the Three Laws.
    Yes, true. They cannot be evaluated as false. Rational evaluation requires the Three Laws.
    Additionally, the concepts of True versus False are embedded into human nature. They preceed even the Three Laws.
    We know being from non-being, and we related True to being, and false to non-being.
    In fact, we related True to Good, and False to Bad. This is the basis of a universal moral norm in humans. (evidence of ID).
    Yes these are universal values present in every human being.
    True versus False — then leads to the Three Laws which are derivations of that concept, then leads to the system of logic.

    One possibility overlooked here is that when we say “can the Three Laws be false” we are asking if we can falsify through rational process the laws. The answer is No because the rational process is required to call something true or false. However, can the three laws just “be false” without a person using a rational process to determine it?
    I will say Yes. The three laws could, in an imaginary scenario, not be true representations of reality.
    From God’s perspective, for example, could a person be in one place and another place at the same time?
    Could a person do an action in the past, present and future at the same time?
    How do we describe a timeless reality? How do we understand beings who live outside of space and time? What are limits on them? Does the law of non-contradiction apply? Can Three Individual Persons actually be One, Undivided Being?

    So, I think the Three Laws are dependent upon human reason in time and space. They are oriented to our knowledge of things. They are true according to time and space.

    Now … is Faith required to accept the Three Laws?

    I think we say that distinction between True and False is embedded in us. We have no choice. Difference between Being and Non-Being, does not require faith to accept. We know it. Everyone knows it and we have to accept it as part of life. It is impossible to be a human being without that distinction.
    The Three Laws, cannot be rationally falsified, yes. However, could a person reject the three laws? Are they necessarily embedded into human nature? I’m not sure. We would say that logic is something that is not embedded, we have to make a choice to think logically. So, in that sense, it requires faith to use logic. We have to believe that logic is good.
    This means we believe there is a purpose. Why not act illogically? In our culture, reason is upheld as a value, so we believe (have faith) that logic is good. We believe that the truth is good. Why not lie and cheat if it serves a good purpose? By faith we do not do such things.
    On the Three Laws, I think we cannot falsify them but we accept and use them by faith.
    Is it possible to contract oneself in an argument? Yes. That’s a violation of the three laws. The laws remain unfalsfied, but we did not use them. We violated them.
    So, we could say “it does not require faith for the laws to be valid, but it requires faith to trust and use those laws in one’s reasoning process”.
    We are not absolutely required by nature to use perfect logical processes. We use them by faith, we believe in their value.
    We are required by nature to evaluate true versus false. It is impossible for us to violate that part of our nature.
    So, the root of the Three Laws (true versus false) is necessary, unfalsifiable, embedded in human nature and not a faith-based proposition. I think, however the next step above the root, to the Three Laws does require some faith to use consistently.

    We use faith when we tell ourselves that a logical argument where there is no middle term, for example, is a good thing.

    The Law of Non-Contradiction does not say that it is impossible to claim that a thing both is and is not. People claim such things all the time. People lie and contradict themselves. They are not required by nature to follow that law. They are required by nature to value the truth higher than falsehood, and they must adhere to truth as a value (it is impossible to perpetually lie). No faith is required there. Even in a contradiction, truth is spoken and given value. But the law of logic can be broken in that case.

  319. 319
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    All we can do is implicitly trust them as inescapably true.

    This is what I was trying to say also.
    Yes, it requires faith to trust the laws as true. This means that there is some possibility that they could be false. But we trust them because what we observe in the world is understood through those laws. The laws guide our thinking – we did not create the laws. We cannot falsify the laws either.

    However, this is different from when we trust the laws to be true. We are required by our nature to accept the difference between true and false. We cannot assert anything without giving value to True. We then apply that embedded knowledge to the Laws, and choose by faith to accept them.

  320. 320
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, I would rather say that distinct identity as a condition of existence is embedded in simply having any distinct world — non contradiction and excluded middle are close corollaries, as are numbers. As rational and communicating creatures, the laws are built into that nature of rational animality. KF

    PS: T/F, etc are distinctions, reflecting the ontological aspect of the laws and also how they apply to communication. For, truth is accurate description of reality. In turn, what is vs what is not, reflects the laws again in ontological form. And yes, the soundness of the laws is very different from our recognising and trusting them. A lurking issue in what we are seeing here in this thread is that many of the sorts of worldviews that are now commonly touted, would deny these laws, revealing their utter irrationality.

  321. 321
    Brother Brian says:

    SA@316, my apologies. I misinterpreted your statement to mean that the atheist view was that there is no possible explanation. Not that the atheist view is that there is not yet an explanation.

  322. 322
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Seversky

    It seems to me that the three principles of reason, like the physical laws, are simply based on observation of the world and are of value because they are found to apply effectively to that world.

    It can’t work that way. You are already using the laws to find them to “apply effectively”. You cannot test the laws by themselves because before even deciding that they are effective, you chose to use them for evaluation purposes. You don’t have a competing proposition.

    As I said, in my view these laws are of value because they are abstracted from and describe what we observe to be the nature of things..

    The act of abstracting one thing from another uses the Laws. You have to create a rational system without using the Laws and then say “I evaluated the Laws and they are useful”. You can’t start with the Laws because you’re just affirming their usefulness before even testing.

    How to you determine that your scale at home is weighing you correctly? You stand on it, and it gives a reading. To test it, do you put another unknown object on it? You get another reading, and decide scale is working well? No, obviously, you need another scale to evaluate the one you have. You can’t test the Laws of Reason by using them.

    Obviously, these laws or principles do not tell us how or why they came to be

    It’s not that obvious. In fact, that’s the question. How or why did they come to be?

    More so than postulating deities which, whether they exist or not, only offer a ‘who’ not a ‘how’ or ‘why’.

    A deity that created the Laws of Reason, shows the value of human reason, shows a purpose. Human reason works because the Three Laws work. The Laws are given in reality and are the basis of logic and reason. We didn’t create them, we cannot falsify them. If they come from a Rational Creator, then we have good reason to know Why they exist, and also somehow How they exist.

    Why? To give human beings the power of rational thought. Because rational thought is an immense benefit.
    How they exist? They come from the mind of the creator, so we know something about His mind.

  323. 323
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB
    Apology accepted and I understand the confusion there. Thanks.

  324. 324
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF
    It’s interesting, we could say that LOI is embedded in our nature. In the same way that True vs False, Being vs Non-Being are not optional for us. I think the corollaries are closely related but require more faith to accept.

  325. 325
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    Thanks for the red flag warning and inadvertent confirmation of the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialism.

    You keep raising this red herring. Just because there are no objective (ie God given) moral values that we are governed by does not mean that we do not develop and impose rules of behaviour that we expect others to follow. I don’t need God to tell me that it is in my best long term interest and that of my family not to kill, lie, cheat, steal, etc. And to expect (and pressure) others to do the same. I can figure that out in five minutes. The ability to predict possible consequences is a powerful force for behavioural modification.

    Duly noted, starting with disregard for the duties of reason.

    I have no idea what you mean by this. We have no duties of reason. We have desires for it.

  326. 326
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, they are just that, close corollaries. Ponder say a given bright red ball on a table in the world, A: W = {A|~A}. Immediately, we have dichotomy, so LEM and that no x in A is A AND ~A. The identity of A is obvious. The three are so bound up in one another than one cannot effectively deny any of them, and that there are ideologies around that try speaks volumes on the irrationality raging like a ruinous wildfire across our times. KF

  327. 327
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, thanks for doubling down on the warning. We duly note that you are in the grips of an utterly amoral, incoherent philosophy and that we should be on the lookout for manipulative behaviour and deeply embedded irrisponsibility. KF

    PS: There is no evolutionary materialistic, empirically warranted, cogent acount of origin of the funcitonally specific complex organisation and/or associated information needed for everything from OoL to origo=in of a rational, morally governed mind. Likewise, there is no such account for origin of a fine tuned cosmos that hosts same. Never mind, many just so stories promoted while wearing lab coats. To refute me, simply post who did these accounts _____, where and when _____ on what research ______ and what prizes were won _____. You will not be able to fill in these blanks with cogent answers that meet the criterion of empirically well warranted, dynamics supported by actually observed causal factors. There are trillions of cases of FSCO/I originating by intelligently directed configuration. The logic of being context is on the table, and it is clear that for instance, it is self-evident that it is wrong to kidnap, bind, gag, rape and murder a young child on his way home from school. Objective and even self evident moral principles and laws are well known. Similarly, it is undeniable on pain of reduction to absurdities, that our rationality is governed by duties — i.e. moral principles — to truth, right reason, prudence, sound conscience, fairness, justice etc. I tis only the prevalence of ill advised ideologies and associated worldviews that makes it seem that such could even be responsibly doubted much less dismissed.

  328. 328
    daveS says:

    tfw when ur an evolutionary materialist scientist.

  329. 329
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    We duly note that you are in the grips of an utterly amoral, incoherent philosophy and that we should be on the lookout for manipulative behaviour and deeply embedded irrisponsibility

    Your flaming pile of red herring soaked strawman is duly noted.

    PS: There is no evolutionary materialistic, empirically warranted, cogent acount of origin of the funcitonally specific complex organisation and/or associated information needed for everything from OoL to origo=in of a rational, morally governed mind.

    Then we have something in common. Unless, of course, you can explain how God created life or the mind. Get back to me when you have an explanation. Until then, I will go with the fact that there is no empirical evidence or warrant to conclude that God did it. However, as I mentioned, there has been much effort into finding the mechanisms by which life arose. How much effort has been put into identifying the mechanisms by which God created life?

  330. 330
    Brother Brian says:

    DaveS <tfw when ur an evolutionary materialist scientist.
    I look good in white. 🙂

  331. 331
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I actually preferred dark greyish-blue. KF

  332. 332
    Brother Brian says:

    DaveS

    tfw when ur an evolutionary materialist scientist.

    What the best dressed fundamental theists are wearing.
    https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/crazy-cartoon-man-straight-jacket-193143881

  333. 333
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, Plato’s warning has held true for 2350+ years. All you need to do is turn from a failed system. KF

  334. 334
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    We have no duties of reason.

    We have the duties to respect the truth, to be honest, not to cheat, to treat others fairly.

    These are some of the moral duties of reason. To respond irrationally, to disrespect truthful, honest, logical arguments and to use dishonest motives when discussing issues with others is to fail in one’s duties.

  335. 335
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    BB, Plato’s warning has held true for 2350+ years. All you need to do is turn from a failed system. KF

    Being an atheist isn’t following a system. It is just the logical conclusion from seeing no evidence for a deity. Believing something that isn’t supported by the evidence, on the other hand..,

  336. 336
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    We have the duties to respect the truth, to be honest, not to cheat, to treat others fairly.

    We are not obliged to follow any of those. Those are rules that we choose to follow, and rules we expect others to follow. Rules, by the way, that anyone with an interest in the long term thriving of themselves and their family can figure out in five minutes. Are we really that weak minded that we need “God” to impose these rules on us?

    These are some of the moral duties of reason. To respond irrationally, to disrespect truthful, honest, logical arguments and to use dishonest motives when discussing issues with others is to fail in one’s duties.

    Who determines what is irrational? You, me, KF? And who is using dishonest motives when discussing issues with others? I don’t know your motives, let alone whether they are honest or dishonest, anymore than you know mine. However, KF does have a bad habit of ascribing the motives of others when he is arguing with them. In my mind, that is just one in a long list of fallacious arguments that he uses. Others include claiming red herring, strawman, agit-prop, etc. When responding to someone who disagrees with him. Frankly, I find it amusing and entertaining.

  337. 337
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    Ponder say a given bright red ball on a table in the world, A: W = {A|~A}.

    Notice here you have identified three items. Ball, table, world.

    I cannot experience those items, but only in my mind. Now say “the light makes the ball look red but it’s not really red. The ball is the same color as the table, and in fact, I do not accept that the ball and table are two separate things. it is some sort of illusion of sunlight that makes it look like there is a ball. Now the LOI does not apply. It makes it look like there is a ball, but in reality the ball and the table are one thing.

    So, we make a distinction by faith. We say, “whether the ball is real or not, it looks like a ball. So, therefore, there is a ball and a table. Now there is that which is Not-the-ball and that which is Not-the-table. Thus we have LOI, LEM and LNC.”

    So, for those laws to apply we have to make an act of faith first. We say “yes, I accept that there are real differences and we can distinguish those things”.

    Regarding Truth, however, we cannot do the same. We must say that something Is or it Isn’t. However we decide, it has to be one or the other, it cannot be both.

  338. 338
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    We are not obliged to follow any of those. Those are rules that we choose to follow, and rules we expect others to follow.

    Having a moral obligation and actually choosing to act in a moral manner are not mutually exclusive. We have the obligation to tell the truth, be honest, not cheat, treat others well. We choose to do those thing because we want to fulfill our obligations.

    Rules, by the way, that anyone with an interest in the long term thriving of themselves and their family can figure out in five minutes. Are we really that weak minded that we need “God” to impose these rules on us?

    Your mind is weak enough to not know if God exists or not, if God is the moral authority, what will happen after death or even if you are a good person or not. You don’t know those things. How accurate and comprehensive is your judgement about the world of human beings? How complete is your understanding of human history? How do you explain the life of Jesus? What knowledge do you really have? What level of certainty can you have about the origin and meaning of human life, or of human spiritual experience? Can you judge every believer in every religious tradition in the world over the past 4,000 years or so? Do you know what they really experience?

    If you think your own mind is strong and powerful and well-informed and wise enough, to answer questions that the greatest minds in the world have pondered from the very beginning, well then … I draw some conclusions from that.

    Seriously, BB. It’s best to approach the most challenging questions that humanity has always faced with some humility. You do not know that God does not exist.

    Who determines what is irrational? You, me, KF? And who is using dishonest motives when discussing issues with others? I don’t know your motives, let alone whether they are honest or dishonest, anymore than you know mine. However, KF does have a bad habit of ascribing the motives of others when he is arguing with them. In my mind, that is just one in a long list of fallacious arguments that he uses. Others include claiming red herring, strawman, agit-prop, etc. When responding to someone who disagrees with him. Frankly, I find it amusing and entertaining.

  339. 339
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    Having a moral obligation and actually choosing to act in a moral manner are not mutually exclusive. We have the obligation to tell the truth, be honest, not cheat, treat others well. We choose to do those thing because we want to fulfill our obligations.

    Who is your obligation to? I choose to honour these rules (not obligations) because doing so, and expecting others to, will make the lives of myself and my family easier. I can figure that out without any higher power other than my desire to be part of society.

    Your mind is weak enough to not know if God exists or not, if God is the moral authority, what will happen after death or even if you are a good person or not.

    So, you are only following these rules in order to get a reward after death? Are you seriously suggesting that you wouldn’t follow these rules if God didn’t exist?

    How accurate and comprehensive is your judgement about the world of human beings? How complete is your understanding of human history?

    Better than some, worse than others.

    How do you explain the life of Jesus?

    The same as any other life. His parents had sex and a baby developed.

    Seriously, BB. It’s best to approach the most challenging questions that humanity has always faced with some humility. You do not know that God does not exist.

    I have never said that I know with absolute certainty that God dies not exist. All I have said is that I have never seen any compelling evidence that he does.

  340. 340
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    It is just the logical conclusion from seeing no evidence for a deity.

    Except that neither you nor any other atheist knows how to assess the evidence. You definitely don’t have any evidence for materialism.

    Believing something that isn’t supported by the evidence, on the other hand..,

    Is called being an evolutionist.

    However, as I mentioned, there has been much effort into finding the mechanisms by which life arose.

    And they have all FAILed. That is very, very telling.

  341. 341
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    All I have said is that I have never seen any compelling evidence that he does.

    There isn’t any evidence for materialism. There isn’t even a way to test its claims. That is just pathetic

  342. 342
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    Who is your obligation to?

    To God. To others I communicate with. To myself.
    I have the moral obligation to tell the truth. If I lie and deceive people, I hurt my own integrity and I hurt others. I have the obligation to do good and avoid evil. It’s a responsibility that I am accountable for.

    I choose to honour these rules (not obligations) because doing so, and expecting others to, will make the lives of myself and my family easier.

    I talk with you and you claim you have no obligation to tell the truth. You say you have no obligation to be honest. You say you have no obligation towards justice. You have no obligation to fairly judge an argument. None of these are moral obligations for you.

    So, you are only following these rules in order to get a reward after death?

    I have the obligation towards God, towards my fellow humans and towards myself to follow the rules.

    I have never said that I know with absolute certainty that God dies not exist.

    I don’t think you have a compelling argument against the belief of about 80% of the world’s population.

  343. 343
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, on the irrationality of evolutionary materialism. This view is also lacking of any world root level capability to ground ought — and note here BB in 325, letting the cat out of the bag:

    [BB, 325:] “We have no duties of reason. We have desires for it.”

    Plato has warned of consequences on history tracing to Athens’ collapse through and after the Peloponnesian war, a history that has been horrifically echoed many times. Evolutionary materialism (though it likes to dress up in the lab coat these days) is hardly new, and its irrationality and nihilistic consequences for a society have literally been documented in foundational history for our civilisation; history that, unsurprisingly, is little taught today. On fair comment, that history is yet again being echoed in leading countries in our civilisation in our time. KF

  344. 344
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: As we are apt to forget, I again remind:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] 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 . . . [such that] 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 [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] 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.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    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 — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    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 influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

  345. 345
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Recall, that the first thing that is morally governed — just the opposite of BB in 325 above: We have no duties of reason. We have desires for it. — is our rational faculty, through inescapable duties to truth, right reason, prudence, sound conscience, fairness, justice etc. Any scheme of thought (and so also cultural agenda) which undermines moral foundations therefore inevitably undermines rationality. As we see all around.

  346. 346
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    To God. To others I communicate with. To myself.
    I have the moral obligation to tell the truth. If I lie and deceive people, I hurt my own integrity and I hurt others. I have the obligation to do good and avoid evil. It’s a responsibility that I am accountable for.

    It is a responsibility that I am accountable to myself and those close to me for. A responsibility that I have taken on myself voluntarily (admittedly, with pressure from society, family and friends). God does not enter into the equation.

    I talk with you and you claim you have no obligation to tell the truth. You say you have no obligation to be honest. You say you have no obligation towards justice. You have no obligation to fairly judge an argument. None of these are moral obligations for you.

    They are not objective moral obligations. They are rules that I have adopted voluntarily and that I am willing to be held personally accountable for. But KF (and I assume you) are talking about an objective moral obligation that is imposed/expected by God, at the risk to your soul.

    I don’t think you have a compelling argument against the belief of about 80% of the world’s population.

    We could argue over the 80% number, but that is irrelevant. I am not trying to make a compelling argument against your belief. I am just explain why I don’t thing there is compelling evidence for the existence of God.

  347. 347
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    They are not objective moral obligations. They are rules that I have adopted voluntarily and that I am willing to be held personally accountable for.

    Looking again at first principles you have no choice in valuing the truth. God has created human nature that way. You cannot deny the value of truth — its value is not something you adopt voluntarily but you are compelled to accept and use.
    I explained that previously. There is a moral value to truth propositions that you cannot deny. Everything that you consider to be good emerges from this affirmation of what is true.

    Regarding how your soul will be judged by God at the end, this is the risk you are taking. You reject the spiritual authority and wisdom that has been present in the human race for thousands of years.

  348. 348
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    Any scheme of thought (and so also cultural agenda) which undermines moral foundations therefore inevitably undermines rationality.

    That’s the point. BB does not accept rationality as an objective value. The denial of objective moral norms such as honesty (to oneself and to others) means that the choice of truth-telling is optional, and also that there is no objective difference between a life of virtue and a life of sin.

  349. 349
    kairosfocus says:

    SA,

    now, imagine a civilisation that, with 2300+ years of historic warning on record from history (communicated by a founding philosopher), with 2,000+ years warning from a pioneer of its historic main legal tradition and 3500+ from its main religious tradition, studiously insists on suppressing those historic, hard-bought lessons of history, then on effectively imposing, establishing and indoctrinating in worldviews that utterly undermine moral government and recognition that we are under a law of our built-in morally governed nature.

    A law, that starts with our rationality being under inescapable duties to truth, to right reason (starting with LOI, LNC, LEM etc), to prudence (thus, to warrant and restraint in knowledge claims), to sound conscience, to neighbour (who is as oneself), to fairness and justice, etc.

    Ponder the result of spreading widespread doubt that we are so governed, dressed up in a lab coat. Where, the chief ideological driving force behind this, is a frame of thought which if taken seriously discredits mind itself, but which is irretrievably self-referentially incoherent. Where, a further motivation appears to be the discarding of inconvenient moral restraints on what is thought, said, done. Another, is a trend to take up said worldview — which we can describe as evolutionary materialistic scientism [usually it calls itself naturalism or even science] — that in denying moral government also disbelieves and denies that such government is rooted in the source of reality, bridging the well-known gap between IS and OUGHT. Where, that gap is a defining characteristic of moral government of rational, responsible creatures: we are free, so we may choose and act in ways we ought to or even ought not to.

    Where, another aspect of that rejection, is that after centuries of debates, it is clear that there is but one serious candidate to be the root of reality capable of sustaining ought: the inherently good (so, utterly wise) creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. One, worthy of loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good that accords with morally governed nature.

    I think, we would properly indict such a civilisation as irresponsible, reckless, irrational and even suicidal.

    Now, let us look in the mirror, this is us.

    (And the suicidal, voyage of mutinous folly, nature of such a civilisational trend is why I insist on pointing out what I know are some very unwelcome truths. It may be too late already to avert shipwreck but having insight on the table so we can better heed sound counsel in taking refuge. Swiss Family Robinson is better than a shipload of the manipulated, dumbed down and ill-taught, who have not a clue as to what to do.)

    KF

    PS: Do you see the massive irresponsibility and utterly needless failure of our intelligentsia that I am pointing to?

    PPS: Cicero, in De Legibus, c. 50 BC, on the roots of law:

    —Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man.

    [–> Note, how justice and our built in nature as a morally governed class of creatures are highlighted; thus framing the natural law frame: recognising built-in law that we do not create nor can we repeal, which then frames a sound understanding of justice. Without such an anchor, law inevitably reduces to the sort of ruthless, nihilistic might- and- manipulation- make- “right,”- “truth,”- “knowledge,”- “law”- and- “justice”- etc power struggle and chaos Plato warned against in The Laws Bk X.]

    We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus [his real-life brother]. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

  350. 350
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, I see where you speak as to how there is not compelling evidence pointing to God, and yet you have studiously evaded addressing the logic of being cogently and have brushed aside the force of an implication of freedom: responsibility under moral government through the in-built law of our nature. A moral government that begins with that of our rationality itself, through duties to truth, to right reason (starting with LOI, LNC, LEM etc), to prudence (thus, to warrant and restraint in knowledge claims), to sound conscience, to neighbour (who is as oneself), to fairness and justice, etc. You have consistently failed to address comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence, balanced explanatory power. In this regard, you have repeatedly tried to privilege evolutionary materialistic scientism-driven disbelief in the reality of God as though it is a mere default, frequently exerting selective hyperskepticism that would frustrate reasonable warrant. When challenged on world-roots, you at first spoke with confident manner as to the commonly projected picture of origins promoted by popularisers of the evolutionary materialistic view, but latterly have been reduced to issuing IOU’s as there is no compelling, empirically well founded evolutionary materialistic account of origin of fine tuned cosmos, of a habitable solar system, of cell based life, of body plans, of the required functionally specific complex organisation and associated information, of mind, of moral government and freedom. Indeed, such a worldview is demonstrably, inescapably self-referentially incoherent and self-refuting, thus necessarily and irretrievably false. I suggest, it is time to reconsider. A good place to begin would be the root of reality informed by the logic of being and further informed by the implications of our being under moral government from our rationality itself onward. KF

    PS: Re your straightjacket suggestion above (332), Dawkins’ silly attempt to dismiss those who challenge evolutionary materialistic scientism as ignorant, stupid, insane or even wicked has long since passed sell-by date. It should be retracted.

    PPS: You are still invited to engage the worldviews level 101 discussion here on in context, on the merits. Theism is not so easily dismissed as an intellectual straightjacket, as you have tried to rhetorically suggest.

    PPPS: Let me refresh, from Reppert, on the gap between brains as wetware computational substrates and rational, insightful, inferring mind:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A [–> notice, state of a wetware, electrochemically operated computational substrate], which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief [–> concious, perceptual state or disposition] that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

  351. 351
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I think it is useful food for thought to clip and annotate Blackstone:

    Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769)
    Sir William Blackstone

    INTRODUCTION, SECTION 2
    Of the Nature of Laws in General

    . . . [L]aws, in their more confined sense, and in which it is our present business to consider them, denote the rules, not of action in general, but of human action or conduct: that is, the precepts by which man, the noblest of all sublunary beings, a creature endowed with both reason and freewill, is commanded to make use of those faculties in the general regulation of his behavior.

    Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his creator, for he is entirely a dependent being [–> we are contingent creatures under a Creator who as Maximally Great, necessary being, has aseity]. A being, independent of any other, has no rule to pursue, but such as he prescribes to himself [–> notice, aseity, and the implied folly of a contingent creature presuming that responsible rational freedom gives him utter, arbitrary autonomy of action]; but a state of dependence will inevitably oblige the inferior to take the will of him, on whom he depends, as the rule of his conduct: not indeed in every particular, but in all those points wherein his dependence consists. This principle therefore has more or less extent and effect, in proportion as the superiority of the one and the dependence of the other is greater or less, absolute or limited. And consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his maker for every thing, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his maker’s will.

    [–> hence, the significance of seeing from our inescapably being under moral government, that we operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap. So, it must be bridged, which is only feasible in the root of reality, on pain of Hume’s ungrounded ought: reasoning is-is then poof, ought from nowhere. Coherence demands fusion, only feasible in the world-root source. This requires a necessary being root of reality adequate to support ought. After centuries of vexed debate, there remains just one serious candidate: the inherently good (and so, utterly wise and soundly acting) creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. Thus, one who is framework to any world existing, indeed, its source. Further, one who is worthy of loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature.

    This will of his maker is called the law of nature. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.

    Considering the creator only as a being of infinite power, he was able unquestionably to have prescribed whatever laws he pleased to his creature, man, however unjust or severe. [–> Blackstone errs somewhat in this suggestion, as he does not adequately consider God’s goodness and the moral coherence of his character: God as inherently good will do no evil] But as be is also a being of infinite wisdom [–> notice, utterly wise so also inherently good], he has laid down only such laws as were founded in those relations of justice, that existed in the nature of things antecedent to any positive precept. These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the creator himself in all his dispensations conforms; and which he has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions. Such among others are these principles: that we should live honestly, should hurt nobody, and should render to every one his due; to which three general precepts Justinian1 has reduced the whole doctrine of law. [–> In introductory remarks in the built-in textbook, Institutes, for Corpus Juris Civilis, which in turn echoes Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, and of course Paul, Jesus and Moses on the law of neighbour love.]

    But if the discovery of these first principles of the law of nature depended only upon the due exertion of right reason [–> notice, the implicit duty to reason aright starting with its first principles], and could not otherwise be obtained than by a chain of metaphysical disquisitions, mankind would have wanted some inducement to have quickened their inquiries, and the greater part of the world would have rested content in mental indolence, and ignorance its inseparable companion. As therefore the creator is a being, not only of infinite power, and wisdom, but also of infinite goodness [–> he now draws this out], he has been pleased so to contrive the constitution and frame of humanity, that we should want no other prompter to inquire after and pursue the rule of right, but only our own self-love, that universal principle of action.[–> which is the implicit premise in love neighbour as self] For he has so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former; and, if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter. In consequence of which mutual connection of justice and human felicity, he has not perplexed the law of nature with a multitude of abstracted rules and precepts, referring merely to the fitness or unfitness of things, as some have vainly surmised; but has graciously reduced the rule of obedience to this one paternal precept, “that man should pursue his own true and substantial happiness.” [–> which by definition cannot but be in a community of like creatures, leading to mutual obligations of neighbour-love; note the direct echo in the US DOI, July 4, 1776. However, the lack of balance is a key weak point] This is the foundation of what we call ethics, or natural law. For the several articles into which it is branched in our systems, amount to no more than demonstrating, that this or that action tends to man’s real happiness, and therefore very justly concluding that the performance of it is a part of the law of nature; or, on the other hand, that this or that action is destructive of man’s real happiness, and therefore that the law of nature forbids it.

    This law of nature, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other-It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this: and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original.

    But in order to apply this to the particular exigencies of each individual, it is still necessary to have recourse to reason; whose office it is to discover, as was before observed, what the law of nature directs in every circumstance of life: by considering, what method will tend the most effectually to our own substantial happiness.

    Therein lieth much that is good and the seeds of the ruin that now confronts our civilisation through failure to balance the individual and the community. I suggest that for instance, justice is best understood as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities in the community of the morally governed.

    KF

  352. 352
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, 338:

    you have identified three items. Ball, table, world.

    I cannot experience those items, but only in my mind. Now say “the light makes the ball look red but it’s not really red. The ball is the same color as the table, and in fact, I do not accept that the ball and table are two separate things. it is some sort of illusion of sunlight that makes it look like there is a ball. Now the LOI does not apply. It makes it look like there is a ball, but in reality the ball and the table are one thing.

    So, we make a distinction by faith. We say, “whether the ball is real or not, it looks like a ball. So, therefore, there is a ball and a table. Now there is that which is Not-the-ball and that which is Not-the-table. Thus we have LOI, LEM and LNC.”

    Obviously neither time nor energy suffice to pursue all issues, questions and ramifications, but this is worth highlighting.

    1: The ball is A, rest of world, table and all is W – A. This does not preclude interaction, resting on table, reflecting white light in a filtered red fashion [thus implying quantum processes etc], being observed etc.

    2: There is a difference: A is, and A is observed and recognised, then evaluated on warrant and known. Metaphysics and ontology are prior to epistemology.

    3: Our experience is after the Ball’s existence, and we credibly may accurately perceive an actual reality.

    4: The irrational chain of undermining accuracy of perception and how such is truth is of course in the main familiar from the error made by Kant and those who followed in his train. F H Bradley aptly replied:

    We may agree, perhaps, to understand by metaphysics an attempt to know reality as against mere appearance, or the study of first principles or ultimate truths, or again the effort to comprehend the universe, not simply piecemeal or by fragments, but somehow as a whole [–> i.e. the focus of Metaphysics is critical studies of worldviews] . . . .

    The man who is ready to prove that metaphysical knowledge is wholly impossible . . . himself has, perhaps unknowingly, entered the arena . . . To say the reality is such that our knowledge cannot reach it, is a claim to know reality ; to urge that our knowledge is of a kind which must fail to transcend appearance, itself implies that transcendence. For, if we had no idea of a beyond, we should assuredly not know how to talk about failure or success. And the test, by which we distinguish them, must obviously be some acquaintance with the nature of the goal. Nay, the would-be sceptic, who presses on us the contradictions of our thoughts, himself asserts dogmatically. For these contradictions might be ultimate and absolute truth, if the nature of the reality were not known to be otherwise . . . [such] objections . . . are themselves, however unwillingly, metaphysical views, and . . . a little acquaintance with the subject commonly serves to dispel [them]. [Appearance and Reality, 2nd Edn, 1897 (1916 printing), pp. 1 – 2; INTRODUCTION. At Web Archive.]

    5: BTW, the inner abstract world of appearances and perceptions etc is itself a possible world populated with entities (yes, abstracta but that does not mean, of no reality) and subject to the same first principles of right reason.

    6: All through, we are exerting acts of trust, of faith, in our reasoning and in the key inference on correspondence to reality.

    7: As an illustration, ponder a trip to the supermarket. One buys food and cleaning supplies requiring detergent action, bleaching, the corrosive power of phosphoric acid, the caustic power of sodium hydroxide. One instinctively knows it is advisable to separate food from not-food, and that confusion on this can be harmful or fatal.

    8: Laws of thought are laws of faith and action and laws of reality too.

    KF

  353. 353
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF
    Those are key issues in 349.

    A person who says that “we have no duties of reason” discredits rational discourse.
    We observe the rational power in humans and we observe the Three Laws (LOI, LEM, LNC) are not invented by us but received. So, the appropriate response to those great values – the value of reason – is respect.
    To deny that we have any duty or obligation to the truth is to destroy the foundation of human life, discourse, trust.

    As you correctly point out, what is done individually is done at a corporate level. A government that states it has no obligation to the truth gives us the evils we have seen.

    An obligation is a “giving of oneself”. We submit ourselves to something outside of ourselves – in this case, we conform ourselves to the truth of things. That is the moral duty. We do not choose or create the structure of rational thought, we simply have the responsibility to follow it well. That is the basis for moral growth, for virtue.

    Beyond that, we cannot “decide that truth will have value”. Truth is given, and we are compelled with every thought we have to affirm its value. A denial of this point is self-refuting.

  354. 354
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Broadcast church today, so let’s put up an advance notice for follow-up.

    As there is a notion abroad that absent arbitrarily high warrant — i.e. selectively hyperskeptical dismissiveness and too often imposition of crooked yardsticks as standards of straight, upright, accurate — for the reality of God, one may presume or insist on dismissing God under the assertion “no evidence,” and as basic logic can be taken as established also the logic of being and its import for serious candidate necessary beings — either impossible due to essence being incoherent or actual — then we can begin to address the matter of theistic proofs.

    As a prelim note, I clip Plantinga:

    TWO DOZEN (OR SO) THEISTIC ARGUMENTS

    Lecture Notes by Alvin Plantinga

    I’ve been arguing that theistic belief does not (in general) need argument either for deontological justification, or for positive epistemic status, (or for Foley rationality or Alstonian justification)); belief in God is properly basic. But doesn’t follow, of course that there aren’t any good arguments. Are there some? At least a couple of dozen or so.

    Swinburne: good argument one that has premises that everyone knows. Maybe aren’t any such arguments: and if there are some, maybe none of them would be good arguments for anyone. (Note again the possibility that a person might, when confronted with an arg he sees to be valid for a conclusion he deeply disbelieves from premises he know to be true, give up (some of) those premises: in this way you can reduce someone from knowledge to ignorance by giving him an argument he sees to be valid from premises he knows to be true.)

    These arguments are not coercive in the sense that every person is obliged to accept their premises on pain of irrationality. Maybe just that some or many sensible people do accept their premises (oneself)

    What are these arguments like, and what role do they play? They are probabilistic, either with respect to the premises, or with respect to the connection between the premises and conclusion, or both. They can serve to bolster and confirm (‘helps’ a la John Calvin); perhaps to convince.

    Distinguish two considerations here: (1) you or someone else might just find yourself with these beliefs; so using them as premises get an effective theistic arg for the person in question. (2) The other question has to do with warrant, with conditional probability in epistemic sense: perhaps in at least some of these cases if our faculties are functioning properly and we consider the premises we are inclined to accept them; and (under those conditions) the conclusion has considerable epistemic probability (in the explained sense) on the premises . . .

    Okay, a beginning, where we should note that the error of the skeptic (as Greenleaf pointed out) is to effectively exert a double standard of warrant that locks out what is unwelcome.

    KF

  355. 355
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    God does not enter into the equation.

    How did you determine that? You wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for God. So clearly God is the equation.

  356. 356
    Brother Brian says:

    KF &SA, as far as I can see, the only difference between why you and I follow many of the same moral values (don’t lie, cheat, steal, etc) is that I am honest about doing so for purely selfish and rational reasons. Your reasons are equally selfish but, for some reason, can’t reason for yourself why following these values is beneficial to you even if there is no promise of a reward in the afterlife.

  357. 357
    daveS says:

    I’m with Brother Brian on this:

    It is a responsibility that I am accountable to myself and those close to me for. A responsibility that I have taken on myself voluntarily (admittedly, with pressure from society, family and friends). God does not enter into the equation.

    I just had my annual physical exam. I expect my doctor to be truthful with me because it’s in my interest to have accurate information about my health. And since I’m his customer, it’s in his interest to meet my expectations.

    It’s also in my interest to be truthful with my doctor so that he can make correct diagnoses if necessary. If either one of us suspects the other is not upholding his end of the bargain, then he or I could choose to end the doctor/patient relationship.

    This sort of common interest in the truth holds in many/most of my relationships with others, whether god exists or not.

  358. 358
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    I am honest about doing so for purely selfish and rational reasons.

    You observe the rules of reason for rational reasons. That is circular. The rules of reason do not originate in yourself but from God.

  359. 359
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    This sort of common interest in the truth holds in many/most of my relationships with others, whether god exists or not.

    You are compelled by human nature to give value to the truth. It’s not merely an interest. The value of truth is not something you choose or invent. You accept it – and in so doing, you acknowledge something outside of yourself that gives a foundation for reason. That something is what we call God.

  360. 360
    Brother Brian says:

    DaveS, good example. But there are also times when I believe that it is wrong to blindly follow these moral values under all circumstances. For example, if I were in Nazi germany and a German cop asked me if I knew where Jews were hiding, am I morally bound to answer truthfully? Of course not.

    Now, I know that KF would say that that is an absurd example because answering truthfully will cause the death of innocent people. But what about this one. Let’s hypothesize that I was a closeted homosexual in the 70s who wanted to enlist in the army. When I am asked during enlistment if I am homosexual, is it OK for me to lie about it? What if I were than same young gay man desiring to enter the priesthood? Wanting to be a Boy Scout leader? I suspect that my answer to these latter examples would be different than KF’s.

  361. 361
    daveS says:

    SA,

    It looks like your perspective is “top down” and mine is “bottom up” here. Not that that makes either position wrong or right, just an observation.

  362. 362
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    I expect my doctor to be truthful with me because it’s in my interest to have accurate information about my health.

    It could be in his interest to not be truthful to you. It could increase your need to return, increase your need for purchase. If he says that “he has no obligation to the truth”, then why not?

    You say:

    If [I suspect him of} not upholding his end of the bargain, then he or I could choose to end the doctor/patient relationship.

    This assumes you have an option.
    As KF has pointed out, when honesty is not an obligation but rather a choice for pragmatic or utilitarian reasons (“selfish” reasons for BB), then individuals can choose to be dishonest for their own benefit.

    In the case of governments and rulers, dishonesty has many direct benefits. Even in your case, with medicine, keeping patients dependent upon medical care has a lot of benefit for the medical practice – if doing that requires dishonesty, then that’s what would happen.

    Instead however, if a person recognizes the moral duty, a responsibility towards integrity, justice, honesty — regardless of the pragmatic benefits of such (in fact, it may cost the person to be honest), then there is trust.

    If someone discussing matters on this blog tells me he feels no obligation to tell me the truth (there is nothing in his moral conscience directing him to be honest and straightforward with me) — then he has destroyed his own integrity and credibility. I would have no basis to trust him. The very same person who says he does not recognize a duty to truth, would tell me that he decided to tell the truth. Well, he has proven to be a very inconsistent arbiter of moral values since there is no objective difference for him in telling me the truth and telling a lie. It’s all an arbitrary choice made for some (unknown to me) benefit. The same selfishness that causes him to say a truthful word can cause him to lie – for exactly the same reasons, and with exactly the same consequences.

  363. 363
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    It looks like your perspective is “top down” and mine is “bottom up” here. Not that that makes either position wrong or right, just an observation.

    Dave, I disagree and I propose that yours is objectively and provably wrong.
    You need to show me that you can make a choice to give value to truth.
    I am saying you cannot do it. It is not a subjective value.
    You are claiming that you can choose to give value to truth propositions.

    Now, it is up to you to demonstrate to me that truth is subjective. You have to present something to me that indicates your starting point where truth has a neutral or no value. Then tell me how, from that point, you chose to give bottom-up value to truth.

    I’ll just say – you’ll refute yourself in the attempt.

  364. 364
    daveS says:

    BB,

    Yes, those are good examples which are more challenging, and where considerations other than truth could be more important.

  365. 365
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    You are compelled by human nature to give value to the truth. It’s not merely an interest.

    Anybody who has had children knows that telling the truth, and the value of truth, is not inherent in us. It is something that we have to teach our children, and something that we have to continually reinforce with both positive and negative reinforcement. As their reasoning abilities improve, they are able to discern the benefit to their well being of being truthful.

  366. 366
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    But there are also times when I believe that it is wrong to blindly follow these moral values under all circumstances.

    True moral judgement is a process of discerning values against a standard. It is not a question of blindly following. It is recognizing an obligation and responsibility to moral values that transcend our own selfish interest. There is a hierarchy of values, and for example, the preservation of life would be a higher moral responsibility than telling of a truth (which would cause the death of the person). There is a higher value than preservation of one’s own life – thus some will face martyrdom. A person will sacrifice his own life rather than destroy his commitment to moral goodness before God.

  367. 367
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    … telling the truth, and the value of truth, is not inherent in us.

    I invite you to try to prove that to me. The statement you offered above already uses truth as a value. So, it’s circular. Present your view without giving value to truth.

  368. 368
    daveS says:

    SA,

    It could be in his interest to not be truthful to you. It could increase your need to return, increase your need for purchase. If he says that “he has no obligation to the truth”, then why not?

    Then I doubt he would be practicing long in the small community where I live. People compare notes re: their doctors, and word gets around fast. Our local hospital also has an elected board of directors composed of local citizens that represents the interests of the community.

  369. 369
    daveS says:

    SA,

    You need to show me that you can make a choice to give value to truth.
    I am saying you cannot do it. It is not a subjective value.
    You are claiming that you can choose to give value to truth propositions.

    Now, it is up to you to demonstrate to me that truth is subjective. You have to present something to me that indicates your starting point where truth has a neutral or no value. Then tell me how, from that point, you chose to give bottom-up value to truth.

    Eh? I don’t believe that truth is subjective. I don’t think I am choosing to give value to truth propositions either. True propositions are sometimes useful (e.g., 2 + 2 = 4), while false propositions are essentially useless, as far as I can tell.

    Edit: Perhaps there is a misunderstanding here. I’m definitely not saying truth is subjective. I actually believe truth is objective. My physician example is merely meant to illustrate why people value truth even if they don’t believe there is a god.

  370. 370
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    Perhaps there is a misunderstanding here. I’m definitely not saying truth is subjective. I actually believe truth is objective.

    No, I am saying “the value you give to truth” is objective. I believe you are saying that it is subjective and that we decide to give value to the truth. I am saying that is self-refuting.

  371. 371
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    Then I doubt he would be practicing long in the small community where I live. People compare notes re: their doctors, and word gets around fast. Our local hospital also has an elected board of directors composed of local citizens that represents the interests of the community.

    That’s the beauty of democracy and our capitalist system which is founded upon, and relies upon trust and honesty as obligations of reason. However, as KF often projects, there are other kinds of governments and communities that could be based on arbitrary or utilitarian values of honesty. Where there is no competition for medical providers – they come from the dictatorship, for example.

  372. 372
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    back but still busy. However, I pause to pick up a point that has too often been used to warp our moral judgements, to induce us to accept yet another crooked yardstick.

    I see you are trying the old moral dilemma talking point on casting one value above another.

    It does not demonstrate what those who pushed “values clarification” etc thought.

    What it means is that in a world where evil (even demonic evil) can have power, sometimes our only realistic choice is the least of evils; which is still not a pure good. Hence, fighting a war with the Nazi state, using realistic means and accepting that to fight will cost much. Starting with rivers of blood and a devastated continent, continuing through horrific waste of economic resources and leading to needing to race towards nukes as you know the pioneers who discovered the principles were on the other side. Also knowing that information security is absolutely vital. And much more, lessons best learned from a deep, sound understanding of lessons of history paid for with blood and tears.

    A classic biblical instance is that of Paul, in Rome as an appeals prisoner having already been forced to appeal to Nero from the Jerusalem hierarchy seeking to assassinate him, and with his neck already literally on the line. He is closely guarded by soldiers (traditionally actually chained to one). Suddenly, Onesimus comes to him, having escaped as a slave and apparently having stolen money. To harbour an escapee is already another capital charge, and to directly challenge Roman law and institutions would be to confirm the accusation he was already facing.

    He sends Onesimus back home, with the letter Philemon that in effect exerted influence and principles to utterly undermine such oppressions, clearly leading to manumission. Also, teaching principles of equality, dignity, brotherhood and responsible liberty. Later, we would hear of a Bishop Onesimus, and some suggest this is he, also that he may have been a key figure in collecting what is now our NT.

    So now, how to answer the demonic Gestapo? By first recognising that when evil dominates we can face genuine moral dilemmas and must recognise that innocent life is a first right without which there are no rights — the exact principle why many of us look with horror on the ongoing abortion holocaust and refuse to enable it. And, extending to our own circumstances, those who vote in evil are enablers of evil, here, voting in holocaust is on the table.

    A lot closer to home than imagining some new Gestapo.

    KF

  373. 373
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    I invite you to try to prove that to me. The statement you offered above already uses truth as a value. So, it’s circular. Present your view without giving value to truth.

    I was referring to the value that we as a society place on truth. Not any value that any God may place in it.

    Humans, for whatever reason, have opted to live in groups. Basic reason suggests that, in general, being truthful is a benefit (has value) to the thriving of a society and to the individuals in it. If we were not a gregarious species, it is possible that lying might have value for the individual. And then you would be arguing for the god given moral value of lying.

  374. 374
    Brother Brian says:

    KF@372, I predicted that you would jump all over the Nazi example, and completely ignore the other examples. Are you willing to respond to them? To refresh your memory, is it morally acceptable to lie about being a homosexual when enlisting in the military, when going through the process of becoming a priest, when applying to be a Boy Scout leader? If your answer is “yes” then we agree and this discussion is over. If your answer is “no” you will have to explain why.

  375. 375
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, perhaps it has escaped your notice that due to an emergency, I am busy with work on Sunday. I find myself under no obligation to respond to shopping lists of fashionable obsessions or agenda items (especially those that we can now see are used to impose immorality and breakdown of core protective institutions in society starting with family and marriage), but have given a case study that should be inductively instructive on handling the all too common approach of casting moral principles one against the other in order to undermine moral government as a whole through radical relativism. In addition, such are further tangential on a thread that is about a very serious and not properly addressed issue: atheism and its warrant gap. I have already pointed to where I intend to go when I can find time. KF

  376. 376
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB: … telling the truth, and the value of truth, is not inherent in us.
    SA: … I invite you to try to prove that to me.
    BB: … I was referring to the value that we as a society place on truth.

    You stated that the value of truth is not inherent in the human person. You’re saying it is not an objective value. I am inviting you to prove this. It is clear that you cannot do it, as below.

    Basic reason suggests that, in general, being truthful is a benefit (has value) to the thriving of a society and to the individuals in it.

    The benefit and value of truth is required before you can use basic reason. So, again, your argument is circular. You are accepting the value of truth first, then using reason to show that truth should be valued. But you cannot use “basic reason” without affirming the value of truth first.

    So again, you prove clearly that you are compelled to accept the value of truth. It is not a option for you. It is an objective value that you have used here. You start by reasoning. But reasoning requires an obligation to the value of truth.

    Try to give me a reasoning process that does not accept the value of truth.

  377. 377
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB
    I’d guess that you’re diverting the discussion to a hot-button issue.

  378. 378
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    is it morally acceptable to lie about being a homosexual when enlisting in the military, when going through the process of becoming a priest, when applying to be a Boy Scout leader?

    No. People with mental issues should not be allowed in the military. People with mental issues should never be allowed to be a priest and people with mental issues should never be any type of leader. Homosexuality is a severe mental issue.

  379. 379
    Brother Brian says:

    KF@375, it is interesting that you are dissembling on my question, which has nothing to do with the morality of sexuality. It was about whether a homosexual who prefers to keep his sexual attraction to himself is obliged to tell the truth when asked about it for employment.

  380. 380
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    It was about whether a homosexual who prefers to keep his sexual attraction to himself is obliged to tell the truth when asked about it for employment.

    Boy scout leader is not a form of employment. There are very few places of employment allowed to ask such a question.

  381. 381
    Brother Brian says:

    SA

    You stated that the value of truth is not inherent in the human person. You’re saying it is not an objective value. I am inviting you to prove this. It is clear that you cannot do it, as below.

    I am not the one with the burden of proof in this. The burden of proof lies with those who claim something exists, not with those who claim that there is no compelling evidence that something exists.

    The benefit and value of truth is required before you can use basic reason.

    Well, that is one of the most ridiculous statement I have read here. I was just surprised that it didn’t come from ET. If I already know the benefit and value of truth, reason is not required.

    I’d guess that you’re diverting the discussion to a hot-button issue.

    How is this a diversion. I am using a hot button issue to highlight the issue of the objective value of truth. If it was as objective as you claim, there would be no disagreement on it. But as you can see by KF’s lack of response, it does not appear to be as objective as you thought.

  382. 382
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    The burden of proof lies with those who claim something exists, not with those who claim that there is no compelling evidence that something exists.

    It is up to you to explain why you think the evidence is not compelling, especially in the face of the fact you have nothing to explain it.

    The benefit and value of truth is required before you can use basic reason.

    Well, that is one of the most ridiculous statement I have read here.

    You should read your posts.

    If I already know the benefit and value of truth, reason is not required.

    That doesn’t follow.

  383. 383
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB
    ET @ 382 has indicated the problem. What you said does not follow.

    I am not the one with the burden of proof in this. The burden of proof lies with those who claim something exists, not with those who claim that there is no compelling evidence that something exists.

    You made a statement. The burden of proof is on you to defend the statement you made. Clearly, you can’t or don’t want to do it. But you made the point anyway.

    The benefit and value of truth is required before you can use basic reason.
    Well, that is one of the most ridiculous statement I have read here. I was just surprised that it didn’t come from ET.

    If you find that ridiculous then you really don’t understand. I’ll try again, “the benefit and value of truth is required before you can even engage in a reasoning process”. Ok? You don’t accept that.

    If I already know the benefit and value of truth, reason is not required.

    Yes, that’s what I said. You cannot use reason to decide upon the benefit and value of truth. A rational process requires that you know the difference in value and benefit of a true conclusion versus a false one. You think that is the most ridiculous thing you have seen here. But you’re so completely wrong you cannot defend your own position.

    The reasoning process uses premises. You make statements and then draw a conclusion. You compare and analyze things.

    If you do not accept that the truth has value and benefit, then you cannot affirm a statement or arrive at a conclusion.
    The value of truth is required before using a reasoning process. Again, you think that is the most ridiculous thing you have heard.

    Your argument is this: “I must use reason to determine the value and benefit of truth”.
    I ask you to defend this argument, and you cannot do it.

    With whatever you argue, you are already using a truth-value in that statement. You are relying on the value of truth to make your first premise. Your task is to use reason, without already accepting the value of truth, to prove that truth has value.

    As I said, you cannot do it. You talk yourself in a circle. You are compelled to use truth in your arguments – you cannot prove the value of truth. Truth is an objective value, given to you by God – and you cannot do any reasoning at all without accepting the value of truth.

    I ask you to give me an rational, reasoned argument that does not contain truth-propositions as values, and you cannot do it.

  384. 384
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BB

    If it was as objective as you claim, there would be no disagreement on it.

    You’re using the objective value of truth to make that claim.

    If A, then not B.

    You show an example of B and conclude “Not A”.

    That is objective. There is no disagreement on how that works. The value of truth is required before you made your statement, and objective truth is required to evaluate what you said.

  385. 385
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, The number of times you have tried to drag discussion threads through the sewer itself is telling. This thread has a focus which is civilisation-critical and needs to be properly addressed. After nearly 400 comments, it is clear that atheism does have a challenge of worldview warrant but many atheists (given recent movements) feel they have a rhetorical winner argument by posing on so-called weak atheism as default. All they actually show is a stubborn refusal to acknowledge that they too have worldviews that require warrant, that all worldviews have in them an inevitable commitment to first plausibles that are unprovable, either in principle or in practice [start with the first principles of reason and Agrippa’s trilemma of warrant], and that a responsible position will freely engage the comparative difficulties process. That approach is symptomatic, and can be translated into what it effectively means: I cannot actually provide cogent comparative difficulties warrant for evolutionary materialistic scientism (the relevant form of atheism) and/or its fellow travellers, but can pose on the rhetorical stance that as a key claim is a denial, I am not making a claim other than to being the default. Fair comment: self-defeatingly indefensible, in effect declaring a rationally unwarranted faith dogmatically and seeking to impose it on the pretence that it is the intelligent educated, scientifically minded man’s view. It is ironic and revealing to see such a dogmatic faith declaration on the part of those who claim to disdain faith as irrational. KF

    PS: I will be getting back to focus soon enough, on the issue of theistic warrant.

  386. 386
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Are theistic “proofs” useless, and is there an adequate warrant for theism?

    Let’s note from just above:

    [BB, 381:] The burden of proof lies with those who claim something exists, not with those who claim that there is no compelling evidence that something exists.

    [ET, 382:] It is up to you to explain why you think the evidence is not compelling, especially in the face of the fact you have nothing to explain it.

    [SA, 383:] ET @ 382 has indicated the problem. What you said [in 381] does not follow . . . . You made a statement. The burden of proof is on you to defend the statement you made. Clearly, you can’t or don’t want to do it. But you made the point anyway.

    The reality of the atheistical default claim is clear, as is how it seeks to evade responsibility to warrant any serious worldview claim. Let me note, again, from SEP as at 11 above and as was added to the OP — something that has not been cogently answered by those trying the default to atheism gambit backed up by what on fair comment is ill-advised selective hyperskepticism regarding worldviews warrant and ethical theism:

    1. Definitions of “Atheism”

    “Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

    This definition has the added virtue of making atheism a direct answer to one of the most important metaphysical questions in philosophy of religion, namely, “Is there a God?” There are only two possible direct answers to this question: “yes”, which is theism, and “no”, which is atheism. Answers like “I don’t know”, “no one knows”, “I don’t care”, “an affirmative answer has never been established”, or “the question is meaningless” are not direct answers to this question.

    While identifying atheism with the metaphysical claim that there is no God (or that there are no gods) is particularly useful for doing philosophy, it is important to recognize that the term “atheism” is polysemous—i.e., it has more than one related meaning—even within philosophy. For example, many writers at least implicitly identify atheism with a positive metaphysical theory like naturalism or even materialism. Given this sense of the word, the meaning of “atheism” is not straightforwardly derived from the meaning of “theism”. While this might seem etymologically bizarre, perhaps a case can be made for the claim that something like (metaphysical) naturalism was originally labeled “atheism” only because of the cultural dominance of non-naturalist forms of theism, not because the view being labeled was nothing more than the denial of theism. On this view, there would have been atheists even if no theists ever existed—they just wouldn’t have been called “atheists”. (Baggini [2003] suggests this line of thought, though his “official” definition is the standard metaphysical one.) Although this definition of “atheism” is a legitimate one, it is often accompanied by fallacious inferences from the (alleged) falsity or probable falsity of atheism (= naturalism) to the truth or probable truth of theism.

    Departing even more radically from the norm in philosophy, a few philosophers and quite a few non-philosophers claim that “atheism” shouldn’t be defined as a proposition at all, even if theism is a proposition. Instead, “atheism” should be defined as a psychological state: the state of not believing in the existence of God (or gods). This view was famously proposed by the philosopher Antony Flew and arguably played a role in his (1972) defense of an alleged presumption of “atheism”. The editors of the Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Bullivant & Ruse 2013) also favor this definition and one of them, Stephen Bullivant (2013), defends it on grounds of scholarly utility. His argument is that this definition can best serve as an umbrella term for a wide variety of positions that have been identified with atheism. Scholars can then use adjectives like “strong” and “weak” to develop a taxonomy that differentiates various specific atheisms. Unfortunately, this argument overlooks the fact that, if atheism is defined as a psychological state, then no proposition can count as a form of atheism because a proposition is not a psychological state. This undermines his argument in defense of Flew’s definition; for it implies that what he calls “strong atheism”—the proposition (or belief in the sense of “something believed”) that there is no God—is not really a variety of atheism at all. In short, his proposed “umbrella” term leaves strong atheism out in the rain.

    Although Flew’s definition of “atheism” fails as an umbrella term, it is certainly a legitimate definition in the sense that it reports how a significant number of people use the term. Again, there is more than one “correct” definition of “atheism”. The issue for philosophy is which definition is the most useful for scholarly or, more narrowly, philosophical purposes. In other contexts, of course, the issue of how to define “atheism” or “atheist” may look very different. For example, in some contexts the crucial issue may be which definition of “atheist” (as opposed to “atheism”) is the most useful politically, especially in light of the bigotry that those who identify as atheists face. The fact that there is strength in numbers may recommend a very inclusive definition of “atheist” that brings anyone who is not a theist into the fold. Having said that, one would think that it would further no good cause, political or otherwise, to attack fellow non-theists who do not identify as atheists simply because they choose to use the term “atheist” in some other, equally legitimate sense.

    If atheism is usually and best understood in philosophy as the metaphysical claim that God does not exist, then what, one might wonder, should philosophers do with the popular term, “New Atheism”? Philosophers write articles on and have devoted journal issues (French & Wettstein 2013) to the New Atheism, but there is nothing close to a consensus on how that term should be defined. Fortunately, there is no real need for one, because the term “New Atheism” does not pick out some distinctive philosophical position or phenomenon. Instead, it is a popular label for a movement prominently represented by four authors—Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens—whose work is uniformly critical of religion, but beyond that appears to be unified only by timing and popularity.

    Okay, we do need to cogently respond.

    Let’s therefore start the main discussion with a watershed moment in modern intellectual history. At the turn of the 1930’s, shock waves went through the Mathematics community when Godel presented his two key results: [1] once we deal with sufficiently complex mathematical systems, no axiomatic scheme will be both comprehensive and coherent, [2] there is no constructive procedure that can build a limited axiomatic scheme that is demonstrably free of contradictions. In short, the view of Mathematics as the perfection of rational certainty on generally acceptable axioms was dead and nearly a century later remains dead.

    Nor is this isolable to Mathematics and its daughter science, computing. As Mathematics can be seen as the [study of the] logic of structure and quantity, where core elements emerge from the distinct identity of a possible world, this result is right there in the roots of how we understand reality and address reasoning. In short, Mathematics and other major movements of reasoning are faith ventures, aspects of the wider worldviews challenge of responsible, reasonable views anchored on tenable first plausibles.

    It is in that humbling context that we can responsibly take up the challenge of warrant for worldviews. (Of course, for details kindly cf. here on in context for a 101. This is a summary for purposes of focussed discussion.)

    Is ethical theism a reasonable, responsible, rational worldview? Is it reasonable to believe in God? Is there responsible warrant for a theistic view in a day of aggressive atheistical agendas? Thrice over, yes.

    Why do I so boldly say this?

    First, let us note the logic of being and its import for the nature and roots of reality. Notice, I have been literally pointing to this from the OP on, only to meet with repeated evasion and doubling down on the atheistical escape talking point on default views. Sorry, we can set such dogmatism and defaults aside and deal with worldviews warrant as a general intellectual challenge to be addressed not dodged.

    Existence is a reality to be understood, as is non-existence.

    Start with the genuine no-thing, non-being. Such has no causal powers [and we see temporal-causal chains all around us], so were there ever utter no-thing, such would forever obtain. A first result then, is that if a world now manifestly is, SOMETHING always was. Reality is eternal and must be explained on a principle of existence that can sustain eternality. So, to the logic of being as a pivotal explanatory framework:

    0: Utter non-being cannot account for being, so SOMETHING always was, the question being, of what nature.

    1: We can consider candidates to be, and can see that some [square circles] are impossible of being in any possible world. Such is because they have in them claimed essential characteristics that stand in mutual contradiction and so are infeasible in any sufficient description or actualisation of a compossible state of affairs. (And yes, we just defined possible worlds.)

    2: Other candidates are feasible, i.e. they may exist in at least one PW. A fire, dependent on heat, oxidiser, fuel and combustion chain reaction is paradigmatic. Such on/off enabling factors are key causal factors showing that a fire is contingent.

    3: Accordingly, we distinguish two classes of PB’s: contingent [CB] and necessary [NB]. NB’s are present in any possible world and are easiest understood as being integral parts of the framework for any PW. As an example, any distinct PW, say W, must have a distinguishing feature A, that marks it apart from a near neighbour W’, so we may see a structure: W = {A|~A}, thus recognise how two-ness is structural in any world being.

    4: This is a non-trivial result as it frames the core quantities and structures of Mathematics: the Naturals, N, thence Z, Q, R, C, transfinites, infinitesimals, hyperreals and up to surreals. The logic of structure and quantity, in its core, is framework to any PW and so our actual world. Hence, the power of logic and mathematics.

    5: Necessary beings are real, and neither began to be nor can they cease from being, and as two bonuses, Mathematics is about abstract entities and is deeply embedded in the currently most prestigious disciplines, the sciences. (Try to imagine a world without two-ness or where it ceases to be — impossible.) Again, a non-trivial result, we must face eternality of reality.

    6: We thus have necessary beings as eternal and a reality that is eternal, so we see that the two go together, we are seeing the need for a necessary being root of reality. The issue is not, if such, but which such.

    7: One constraint on this, is that our cosmos exhibits finite stage temporal causal succession, and credibly had a beginning. Where, attempts to extend to an underlying sub-verse actually pose a candidate NB world root. The question is viability.

    8: If we try to extend the world, we see that on thermodynamics, a long enough past yields heat death, dissipation of centres of concentrated energy, and that fluctuations would point to Boltzmann brain scenarios as overwhelmingly more likely than the sort of world we see.

    9: Likewise, a fine tuned world fitted for C-chem, cell based life is a challenge. Walker and Davies:

    In physics, particularly in statistical mechanics, we base many of our calculations on the assumption of metric transitivity, which asserts that a system’s trajectory will eventually [–> given “enough time and search resources”] explore the entirety of its state space – thus everything that is phys-ically possible will eventually happen. It should then be trivially true that one could choose an arbitrary “final state” (e.g., a living organism) and “explain” it by evolving the system backwards in time choosing an appropriate state at some ’start’ time t_0 (fine-tuning the initial state). In the case of a chaotic system the initial state must be specified to arbitrarily high precision. But this account amounts to no more than saying that the world is as it is because it was as it was, and our current narrative therefore scarcely constitutes an explanation in the true scientific sense.

    We are left in a bit of a conundrum with respect to the problem of specifying the initial conditions necessary to explain our world. A key point is that if we require specialness in our initial state (such that we observe the current state of the world and not any other state) metric transitivity cannot hold true, as it blurs any dependency on initial conditions – that is, it makes little sense for us to single out any particular state as special by calling it the ’initial’ state. If we instead relax the assumption of metric transitivity (which seems more realistic for many real world physical systems – including life), then our phase space will consist of isolated pocket regions and it is not necessarily possible to get to any other physically possible state (see e.g. Fig. 1 for a cellular automata example).

    [–> or, there may not be “enough” time and/or resources for the relevant exploration, i.e. we see the 500 – 1,000 bit complexity threshold at work vs 10^57 – 10^80 atoms with fast rxn rates at about 10^-13 to 10^-15 s leading to inability to explore more than a vanishingly small fraction on the gamut of Sol system or observed cosmos . . . the only actually, credibly observed cosmos]

    Thus the initial state must be tuned to be in the region of phase space in which we find ourselves [–> notice, fine tuning], and there are regions of the configuration space our physical universe would be excluded from accessing, even if those states may be equally consistent and permissible under the microscopic laws of physics (starting from a different initial state). Thus according to the standard picture, we require special initial conditions to explain the complexity of the world, but also have a sense that we should not be on a particularly special trajectory to get here (or anywhere else) as it would be a sign of fine–tuning of the initial conditions. [ –> notice, the “loading”] Stated most simply, a potential problem with the way we currently formulate physics is that you can’t necessarily get everywhere from anywhere (see Walker [31] for discussion). [“The “Hard Problem” of Life,” June 23, 2016, a discussion by Sara Imari Walker and Paul C.W. Davies at Arxiv.]

    10: Circular causation requires a not yet stage to reach back and cause itself. A disguised appeal to non-being. Non-starter.

    11: We need a finitely remote, NB world root that is not subject to heat death. No evolutionary materialistic candidate can meet such a requirement, apart from its self referential incoherence. As a reminder, Haldane:

    “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. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    12: In addition, the required NB world root is constrained by the existence of rational, responsible, significantly free, morally governed creatures — us. Starting with rationality, we are inescapably morally governed through duties to truth, right reason, prudence (so, warrant), sound conscience, neighbourliness, fairness, justice etc. This can only be founded in the world-root, on pain of ungrounded ought, as we can see in attempts to dismiss such.

    13: This requires a causally, morally and rationally adequate NB world root entity. If one objects to the following, this is phil, simply put up an alternative: ______ and warrant cogently on comparative difficulties: _______ . (I assure you, were such easy to do on evolutionary materialistic scientism, it would be all over the Internet, a simple Google search away.)

    14: After centuries of debates,we can freely hold that there is but one serious candidate: the inherently good, utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great [so, unique!] being. One, worthy of loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our evident — morally governed — nature. One, who eternally contemplates possible worlds and things like Mathematics, and who is creator-sustainer of actual worlds such as ours.

    15: Thus, we see the bill to fill and have on the table a serious candidate NB. Such a candidate will either be impossible of existence or possible. If impossible, incoherent . . . which has never been cogently shown, nor is such seriously in prospect. (Atheists, if you deny this, kindly show your case _____ instead of posing on dogmatic defaults of an atheistical credo.)

    16: If possible, such a necessary being world root is present in at least one PW.

    17: But if so present, it is by nature present as framework for that or any world, possible or actualised.

    18: This being an actual world, credibly present in this one therefore. Thus, explaining the fine tuning, presence of non-computational actually responsible and rationally free morally governed creatures and much more. So, we have a strong horse candidate to beat. If you reject, why ____ and with what alternative per comparative difficulties _____ .

    19: In the particular case of so-called weak,i.e. more properly default-claim atheism, it is further credible that the default-claim rhetorical gambit we see is resorted to in key part as there is now no serious case that such a necessary being world root is impossible of being. If you deny this, kindly provide a case ______ .

    Notice, the above is an outline, first level summary worldview warrant on comparative difficulties inference to best explanation case, not a claimed deductive proof on universally accepted premises. It then invites further discussion on other lines of evidence — and BTW, we can set aside the “no evidence” atheistical talking point too. If you have a better case for a worldview, what is it ___ and why is it held to be better _______ .

    Okay, more to follow as time permits.

    KF

    PS: No, theists can and do properly wear lab coats too. Notice, nothing in the above is remotely dependent on a young earth Bible based creationist narrative of origins, or even an old cosmos, old earth model. A subverse of 10^25 years to reach heat dissipation or the like is still finite for example. The inference to fine tuning turns on observing special circumstances and basic stat mech principles. The logic of being is a logical case. That we are morally governed starting with rationality is effectively undeniable. And so forth.

  387. 387
    kairosfocus says:

    PREDICTION: Studious ignoring by objectors or else less than cogent responses. Please, prove me wrong: ______ . At any rate, something is needed for record. KF

  388. 388
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I should note on deductive frames of argument on sets of premises or axioms, first, that we often have high confidence in some set of axioms or premises but do not necessarily recognise what they entail, so an exploration of a logic-model world is useful, especially where it draws out necessary truths or entities that obtain for any PW. And in cases of models of restricted scope they may have in them in common archetypes sufficient to apply to our world as a tested, reliable, insightful model — that’s how scientific explanatory constructs work. Which then brings in inference to the best current explanation as a form of inductive warrant. So, it is by no means useless to explore theistic arguments, especially if this leads us to seriously examine alternative world-frame first plausibles. As I will argue onwards, DV, it is the challenge of comparative difficulties across alternatives that lends strength to ethical theism. Above, we have already seen that we need a finitely remote NB world root to adequately account for a world with rational [not merely computational], responsible, morally governed creatures in it. KF

  389. 389
    daveS says:

    SA,

    No, I am saying “the value you give to truth” is objective. I believe you are saying that it is subjective and that we decide to give value to the truth. I am saying that is self-refuting.

    I’m not certain I understand, but I will say I do believe truth has objective value which doesn’t have anything to do with my personal views.

    I couldn’t choose to ‘give value to falsity’ and expect to get satisfactory results.

    That would be somewhat like choosing to believe I could survive a fall off a 100 foot cliff.

  390. 390
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    I’m not certain I understand, but I will say I do believe truth has objective value which doesn’t have anything to do with my personal views.

    Ok, you’re on the right track. You cannot use reason to decide that truth has a greater value than falsehood, for example. Your rational intellect is dependent upon the value and benefit that truth has – it is not something you have created or decided upon. It is an objective value, embedded in human beings. I take it farther and say that this objective value, that we are all compelled to accept, is the foundation of “objective moral norms”. We must accept that truth has a different and higher value than falsehood. We do not have a choice in that. Truth relates to “what is real” and that relates to “what is good”. Thus we have the moral law in every person.

    All of these objective truths are evidence of the existence of God, who created our rational intellect which is oriented towards these values and must accept them as objective. They are values given to us, not created by us.

    I couldn’t choose to ‘give value to falsity’ and expect to get satisfactory results.

    Yes, exactly. Your results would be irrational. You cannot affirm a value to falsity in that way.

    That would be somewhat like choosing to believe I could survive a fall off a 100 foot cliff.

    Or even more, that you could survive underwater with no apparatus for a month.

    If start to reason this without already accepting the value and benefit of truth, the reasoning process will be confused but it may conclude “no human being can survive underwater for a month”. However, you could give “falsity a value” on that conclusion and therefore decide to try the experiment.

    No, we accept, before any reasoning process, that truth has a higher value – in a reflection of reality and a reflection of “what is good” before we can do any reasoning process.

  391. 391
    daveS says:

    Thanks, SA, I believe I understand the point now.

  392. 392
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let’s begin to look at at least some version of typical theistic arguments.

    Above, we have set a context, where logic of being and world roots requisites lead to the obvious reasonableness of ethical theism, especially once it is seen that God is a serious candidate NB and root of reality, so either he is impossible of being or else he is actual. In absence of cogent positive reason to reject the reality of God — default atheism sans warrant to reject God as possible does not make the cut — it is very reasonable to accept that God exists.

    In turn this readily explains the evident fine tuning of the cosmos that supports cell based, C Chem aqueous medium life, and the FSCO/I in that life from the “simple” — NOT! — cell across body plans to our own. It would make sense of our rationality as a divine endowment. It grounds us as having quasi-infinite worth, thence fundamental equality as in God’s image, thus rights, in-built natural law, sound conscience and more. So, we see that a theistic worldview –pace much current rhetoric — is not to be despised as though it were little better than rank superstition or belief in fairies or whatever one may see.

    So, that holds before and independent of whether the classical theistic arguments are, valid, sound, rationally plausible, convincing, compelling to one and all, etc.

    Sadly, it needs to be said in a world where– this is fair comment — there is a lot of contempt, dismissiveness, disdain, prejudice or even bigotry directed at ethical theism from fairly influential quarters.

    It is time for a serious rethink in such quarters.

    KF

  393. 393
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DaveS

    Understand and accept? I believe you do. If not, you’d have the impossible task of trying to show that you do not accept truth as an objective value and foundation of reason. Right?

  394. 394
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I have found an interesting discussion by a certain “Christopher” — Christ-bearer — here, that I wish to now clip as food for thought:

    It seems implausible that all religious people have been deceived completely. The existence of a Transcendent God is more plausible than a completely skeptical outlook on life.

    “It seems much more likely that such self-analyzing and self-critical men as Augustine, Blaise Pascal and Kierkegaard were not totally deceived than that total skepticism is right. Unless it is true that no person in the history of the world has ever really been truly critical of his religious experience, then it follows that the reality of God has been critically established from human experience” (76).

    This raises the issue that if every person who has ever believed in or had a life-transforming encounter with God [however well or poorly understood or expressed] has been delusional, such would bring the credibility of the human mind under serious doubt.

    We are playing with big matches here, and would be well advised to be careful of what we may burn down.

    In that context, let us contrast a common enough view (as summarised by the same) on arguments to God:

    Most theists are not satisfied with proving God’s existence on experience alone. They went to establish rational proofs.

    The Modern attitude toward proofs for God

    Since the time of Plato, philosophers have offered proofs for the existence of God.

    There are four basic categories of theistic proofs:

    1) Teleological – argument from telos (design or purpose)
    2) Cosmological (aetiological) arguments from causation
    3) Ontological – argument from onto (being)
    4) Moral – argument from morality

    Peter Koëstenbaum stated that theistic proofs are “logically invalid, epistemologically defective and axiologically misplaced” (80).

    Proofs are Psychologically Unconvincing

    Rational proofs are generally unpersuasive to non-believers.

    Some argue that the mystical theology, not rational theology is the draw for religion. William James thought this was so because human needs are deeper than the rational.

    “Psychological persuasion precedes rational demonstration” (81).

    Proofs are logically invalid

    If God does not appear in any of the premises he cannot appear in the conclusion because a conclusion cannot be broader than the premises.

    Also, if God appears in the premises than the argument begs the question.

    [–> In response I note from 388: >>I should note on deductive frames of argument on sets of premises or axioms, first, that we often have high confidence in some set of axioms or premises but do not necessarily recognise what they entail, so an exploration of a logic-model world is useful, especially where it draws out necessary truths or entities that obtain for any PW. And in cases of models of restricted scope they may have in them in common archetypes sufficient to apply to our world as a tested, reliable, insightful model — that’s how scientific explanatory constructs work. Which then brings in inference to the best current explanation as a form of inductive warrant. So, it is by no means useless to explore theistic arguments, especially if this leads us to seriously examine alternative world-frame first plausibles. As I will argue onwards, DV, it is the challenge of comparative difficulties across alternatives that lends strength to ethical theism.>>]

    Proofs are Epistemologically Defective

    This argument holds that even if God exists we cannot rationally know that he exists.

    Kant held that we can only know the thing as it appears to us and not the thing in and of itself.

    Proofs are ontologically inadequate

    This argues that what is rationally inescapable may not be real. We may be able to devise a rational argument for the existence of God, but that does not mean God exists.

    The inescapability of a rational argument is based on the principle of non-contradiction but the principle of non-contradiction, while being rationally inescapable has not been proven to be necessarily true. [–> I of course beg to point out right away that such is part of distinct identity and is rightly a first principle of right reason! This one is really a bad sign of our times.]

    Proofs are Axiologically Misplaced

    The proof for the existence of God should not be the prime importance of one’s religious experience.

    Relating to the Modern Attitude Toward Proofs

    Modern criticism are of value to theists today, but should not warrant a retreat to fideism.

    Proof or Persuasion?

    If people are never persuaded by proof then there is not intellectual integrity in the world.

    While a rational proof may not play as crucial a role as Rene Descartes held it to, it does not follow that it plays no role at all. Even if if were true that people always believed in God apart from evidence, it does not follow that they believed against the evidence.

    A proof for God, if it is successful, leads only to the belief that there is a God, not necessarily a belief in that God . . . . Why do some great minds reject theistic proofs?

    1) Some atheists accept no kinds of proof.
    2) Some do not allow the types of arguments for God that they allow elsewhere.
    3) Some choose not to commit themselves to God despite the evidence.

    A lack of persuasion by a theistic proof is not necessarily a fault of that proof, it is a result of a personal choice.

    Proofs and logical validity

    A formal invalidity of a single proof does not mean all proofs are invalid.

    Even if no one has stated a formally valid proof yet, it does not follow that one won’t ever be stated.

    Logical validity is not purely objective.

    Not all rationally acceptable demonstration need to be valid deductions.

    Are all Theistic Proofs Epistemologically Defective?

    Kant’s objections are rested on the unfounded assumption that all true knowledge is modeled after the empirical/mathematical knowledge of Newtonian science.

    Kant’s consistent agnosticism is not livable because it is self-defeating.

    The dichotomy between phenomena and noumena is an unfounded assumption.

    Each argument or theistic proof must be examined on its own grounds. One cannot reject all theistic proofs a priori . . .

    . . . with Plantinga as was already cited in his lecture on two dozen or so theistic arguments:

    TWO DOZEN (OR SO) THEISTIC ARGUMENTS

    Lecture Notes by Alvin Plantinga

    I’ve been arguing that theistic belief does not (in general) need argument either for deontological justification, or for positive epistemic status, (or for Foley rationality or Alstonian justification)); belief in God is properly basic. But doesn’t follow, of course that there aren’t any good arguments. Are there some? At least a couple of dozen or so.

    Swinburne: good argument one that has premises that everyone knows. Maybe aren’t any such arguments: and if there are some, maybe none of them would be good arguments for anyone. (Note again the possibility that a person might, when confronted with an arg he sees to be valid for a conclusion he deeply disbelieves from premises he know to be true, give up (some of) those premises: in this way you can reduce someone from knowledge to ignorance by giving him an argument he sees to be valid from premises he knows to be true.) [–> this is a key]

    These arguments are not coercive in the sense that every person is obliged to accept their premises on pain of irrationality. Maybe just that some or many sensible people do accept their premises (oneself)

    What are these arguments like, and what role do they play? They are probabilistic, either with respect to the premises, or with respect to the connection between the premises and conclusion, or both. They can serve to bolster and confirm (‘helps’ a la John Calvin); perhaps to convince.

    Distinguish two considerations here: (1) you or someone else might just find yourself with these beliefs; so using them as premises get an effective theistic arg for the person in question. (2) The other question has to do with warrant, with conditional probability in epistemic sense: perhaps in at least some of these cases if our faculties are functioning properly and we consider the premises we are inclined to accept them; and (under those conditions) the conclusion has considerable epistemic probability (in the explained sense) on the premises . . .

    So, it is time to do some thinking about how we think and whether our thinking is as coherent as we believe. Plantinga on reversing knowledge is especially telling.

    KF

  395. 395
    daveS says:

    SA @393: Yes.

  396. 396
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: How I reviewed skeletal form theistic proofs back in 2003, in presenting an intro to phil course:

    3. Theistic “Proofs”

    Perhaps, it is wisest to start with Pascal’s Wager: given the vital importance and potential consequences of the question whether God is/is not, as the core of all worldviews, and the rough balance of the arguments, one faces a forced, momentous choice.

    For, if one “bets” that God is not, and is wrong in the end, s/he has lost all – one’s soul. If one has bet that God is, and is eventually proved wrong, one still has lived by a manner of life that is arguably at least as good as the alternative, and has lost nothing – for one would then face oblivion as all other men do.

    Pascal, father of probability theory, therefore argues that on the balance of expectations (= probability x payoff – cost) the bet that God is, is far better – a case of comparative difficulties at work. His underlying point is that if you then sincerely seek God, God will meet you, so that you can come to know God through personal experience.

    To see what that “rough balance” looks like, we first explore the classic theistic arguments to God, using modern examples[2] from the families of such “proofs” presented and summarised by Thomas Aquinas in his famous Summa Theologica:

    B. Cosmological:

    (NB: This appears out of the classical order, as IMHO it makes A far more clear if this is done, by distinguishing and rationalising “contingent” and “necessary” beings. This is an example of a cumulative argument.):

    1. Some contingent beings exist. (E.g.: us, a tree or a fruit, an artifact, the planets and stars, etc. — anything that might not have existed, i.e. is caused.)

    2. Contingent beings do not exist by themselves – that is in part what “contingent” means – so they require a necessary being as their ultimate cause.

    3. If any contingent being exists, then a necessary being exists.

    4. Thus, there exists a necessary being, the ultimate cause of the existence of the many contingent beings in the cosmos.

    A. Ontological:

    1. If God exists, his existence is necessary. (NB link to B.4 just above.)

    2. If God does not exist, his existence is impossible.

    3. Either God exists or he does not exist.

    4. God’s existence is either necessary or impossible.

    5. But, God’s existence is possible (i.e. not impossible).

    6. So, God’s existence is necessary.

    C. Teleological/design:

    1. Highly complex objects with intricate, interacting parts are produced by intelligent designers, at least so far as we can determine from cases where we do directly know the cause.

    2. The universe (and/or a specific part of it[3]) is just such a highly complex object.

    3. Probably, it is the result of intelligent design.

    4. But, the scope/complexity of the universe is such that only God could be its designer.

    5. Probably, there is a God.

    D. Moral:

    1. People, in practice, invariably act as though there are binding moral obligations. (For instance, as C. S. Lewis points out, that is how we quarrel.)

    2. Probably, such objective, binding moral obligations exist.

    3. Probably, unless there is a God, there cannot be objectively binding moral obligations.

    4. Probably, there is a God who is the author of the moral order of the universe.

    E. Religious experience:

    1. If and only if God exists, can God reveal himself to us — through direct encounters/revelations, and/or through miracles, and/or through indirect witness (such as the voice of conscience or the glories of creation, or the intellectual and moral incoherence of other views about ultimate reality), etc.

    2. A great many people report that they have had just such experiences of/encounters with/discoveries about God; often sensing union with and/or the utter otherness of God.

    3. Many of these are in the list of greatest minds and/or greatest lives in human history.

    4. It is extremely unlikely that all of these people are lying, mistaken or deluded.

    5. It is therefore highly probable that God exists, as the ground of such experiences. (This argument brings us back to Pascal’s wager.)

    These arguments are of valid — or at least inductively strong — forms, and they mutually reinforce like the strands and fibres in a rope[4], but objections can be made to at least some of their premises. However, such rejection comes at a price:

    Cosmological: major objections assert that the universe may be eternal, the result of an infinite chain of contingent beings and cause-effect links, and/or that the universe’s existence is a brute – inexplicable – fact. (The first runs head-on into the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which implies that the universe is running down so probably is not infinitely old; but more importantly, the above argument makes no assumptions about the age of the cosmos. The second main objection in effect rejects the principle of sufficient reason: if things happen, there is a good/adequate reason for it. Which alternative is more plausible/ “reason”-able?)

    Ontological: from premises # 4 & 5, God’s existence is only possible if it is necessary – inviting the objection that God’s existence is impossible, but this is in turn a very strong claim (and far harder to prove than to assert)!
    Design: Objections try to deny the link between the observed complexity of the universe or objects in it and the existence of an Intelligent Designer, aka God. Or, they may point to the gap between the Designer and the God people wish to worship. (The latter is largely irrelevant: teleological arguments do not set out as a rule, to prove ALL that we may wish to know about God, just to argue that the design in the cosmos implies a Designer. The former hinge on providing alternative explanations for complexity in the cosmos, in effect asserting that even very improbable complex systems, given enough time will happen by chance. But, for instance, the calculated odds that a living cell could arise by chance are estimated at ~ 1 in 10 ^ 40,000 – i.e. 1 followed by 40,000 zeroes, a fair number of pages worth. This is so close to impossible as makes no practical difference: it is not likely to have happened once in the whole known universe in any reasonable timeframe for its existence, usually judged at 10 – 15 billion years. Indeed, odds of 1 in 10 ^ 200 are generally regarded as effectively zero.)

    Moral: often people simply assert that there are no binding obligations, or claim that there is no set of universally accepted moral principles. Others seek to suggest ways in which moral obligations can exist in a non-theistic world; or else simply say that these obligations are yet another brute – i.e. inexplicable — fact. (The common fact that relativists wish to assert binding moral principles themselves, such as “tolerance,” indicates that relativist claims are self-defeating, sometimes even hypocritical. Disagreement over principles needs not imply their non-existence, just that reasoning about morality has its pitfalls just like any other type of reasoning. Also, C S Lewis and others have highlighted that in fact when individuals and cultures speak of those they care about, they do assert a surprisingly consistent set of values. Evolutionary theories of morality run into difficulties explaining say, self-sacrificing behaviour, and may argue in a circle from “survival is good” to “good is survival.” Many moral obligations cut right across our instincts, to the point where our daily challenge is usually whether we should go with conscience or impulse. And, the “brute fact” claim is actually a major concession: “I cannot explain morality on the basis of my core beliefs, but I have to accept it as a fact.” If so, then why not accept a framework that can make good sense of morality?)

    Religious Experience: Some object that religious experiences are simply subjective perceptions: i.e. that they are not veridical. Others add that such experiences are not publicly checkable, i.e. that they lack objectivity. Further, it may be pointed out that different traditions have different, conflicting experiences. (But, to say some religious experiences are not veridical is one thing; to claim that ALL are only subjective and/or delusional is another — especially given that some of those so indicted are central to the world’s intellectual and cultural history; e.g. Moses and his Law, Jesus of Nazareth, the Apostles and their experience of the resurrection of Christ, and a great many others, such as the great scientists Newton, Pascal and Maxwell. Further, just because experiences are mediated through our senses and consciousness does not imply that they are dubious, apart from specific reason to suspect delusion. Thirdly, if we insist on public tests for all experiences, then we face an infinite regress. And, it is more appropriate to observe that there are conflicting interpretations of the experiences rather than contradictory experiences as such; especially as regards union with God and/or of God’s utter otherness.)

    Thus, we see that there are no universally compelling theistic arguments, but that rejecting them all comes at a metaphysical price that may be steeper than one is willing to pay.

    Okay, there is some meat on the table, so we may ponder together.

    KF

  397. 397
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: What is the main anti-theistic case? (Other than, default and no evidence claims.)

    Now that the logical form problem of evil is blunted, it boils down to the evolutionary materialistic view on origins, presented as known fact. Which immediately brings out why the ID issue is such a hot button topic. For, we know about complex, coherent, fine tuned, functionally specific complex organisation and associated information and where they come from: intelligently directed configuration. On trillions of observed cases. Backed up by analysis of blind search, needle in haystack challenges.

    So, we have a reason to understand the intensity of polarisation against the design inference on empirically tested, reliable sign.

    KF

    PS: Recall, Dembski’s summary on Boethius:

    In his Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius states the following paradox: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?” . .

  398. 398
    Silver Asiatic says:

    SA: All of these objective truths are evidence of the existence of God, who created our rational intellect which is oriented towards these values and must accept them as objective.

    DS: @395 Yes

    You’re making some very good progress, DS!

  399. 399
    daveS says:

    SA,

    Actually I don’t agree with that part 🙂 Just the part about the objective value of truth.

  400. 400
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Feser on the often misunderstood cosmological argument.

    We only need to pause to point to the logic of being to correct the simplest misconception, that theists argue to an “exception” to the premise that everything has a cause. Take the very fact of how common this is, as an indictment of the educational poverty of our times.

    Now, Feser, clipping:

    The cosmological argument in its historically most influential versions is not concerned to show that there is a cause of things which just happens not to have a cause. It is not interested in “brute facts” – if it were, then yes, positing the world as the ultimate brute fact might arguably be as defensible as taking God to be. On the contrary, the cosmological argument – again, at least as its most prominent defenders (Aristotle, Aquinas, Leibniz, et al.) present it – is concerned with trying to show that not everything can be a “brute fact.” What it seeks to show is that if there is to be an ultimate explanation of things, then there must be a cause of everything else which not only happens to exist, but which could not even in principle have failed to exist. And that is why it is said to be uncaused – not because it is an arbitrary exception to a general rule, not because it merely happens to be uncaused, but rather because it is not the sort of thing that can even in principle be said to have had a cause, precisely because it could not even in principle have failed to exist in the first place. And the argument doesn’t merely assume or stipulate that the first cause is like this; on the contrary, the whole point of the argument is to try to show that there must be something like this.

    Different versions of the cosmological argument approach this task in different ways. Aristotelian versions argue that change – the actualization of the potentials inherent in things – cannot in principle occur unless there is a cause that is “pure actuality,” and thus can actualize other things without itself having to be actualized. Neo-Platonic versions argue that composite things cannot in principle exist unless there is a cause of things that is absolutely unified or non-composite. Thomists not only defend the Aristotelian versions, but also argue that whatever has an essence or nature distinct from its existence – so that it must derive existence from something outside it – must ultimately be caused by something whose essence just is existence, and which qua existence or being itself need not derive its existence from another. Leibnizian versions argue that whatever does not have the sufficient reason for its existence in itself must ultimately derive its existence from something which does have within itself a sufficient reason for its existence, and which is in that sense necessary rather than contingent. And so forth. (Note that I am not defending or even stating the arguments here, but merely giving single sentence summaries of the general approach several versions of the arguments take.)

    So, to ask “What caused God?” really amounts to asking “What caused the thing that cannot in principle have had a cause?”, or “What actualized the potentials in that thing which is pure actuality and thus never had any potentials of any sort needing to be actualized in the first place?”, or “What imparted a sufficient reason for existence to that thing which has its sufficient reason for existence within itself and did not derive it from something else?” And none of these questions makes any sense. Of course, the atheist might say that he isn’t convinced that the cosmological argument succeeds in showing that there really is something that could not in principle have had a cause, or that is purely actual, or that has a sufficient reason for its existence within itself. He might even try to argue that there is some sort of hidden incoherence in these notions. But merely to ask “What caused God?” – as if the defender of the cosmological argument had overlooked the most obvious of objections – simply misses the whole point. A serious critic has to grapple with the details of the arguments. He cannot short-circuit them with a single smart-ass question. (If some anonymous doofus in a combox can think up such an objection, then you can be certain that Aristotle, Aquinas, Leibniz, et al. already thought of it too.)

    Of course, there is much more there. For example:

    7. The argument is not a “God of the gaps” argument.

    Since the point of the argument is precisely to explain (part of) what science itself must take for granted, it is not the sort of thing that could even in principle be overturned by scientific findings. For the same reason, it is not an attempt to plug some current “gap” in scientific knowledge. Nor is it, in its historically most influential versions anyway, a kind of “hypothesis” put forward as the “best explanation” of the “evidence.” It is rather an attempt at strict metaphysical demonstration. To be sure, like empirical science it begins with empirical claims, but they are empirical claims that are so extremely general that (as I have said) science itself cannot deny them without denying its own evidential and metaphysical presuppositions. And it proceeds from these premises, not by probabilistic theorizing, but via strict deductive reasoning. In this respect, to suggest (as Richard Dawkins does) that the cosmological argument fails to consider more “parsimonious” explanations than an uncaused cause is like saying that the Pythagorean theorem is merely a “theorem of the gaps” and that more “parsimonious” explanations of the “geometrical evidence” might be forthcoming. It simply misunderstands the nature of the reasoning involved.

    Of course, an atheist might reject the very possibility of such metaphysical demonstration. He might claim that there cannot be a kind of argument which, like mathematics, leads to necessary truths and yet which, like science, starts from empirical premises. But if so, he has to provide a separate argument for this assertion. Merely to insist that there cannot be such an argument simply begs the question against the cosmological argument.

    None of this entails that the cosmological argument is not open to potential criticism. The point is that the kind of criticism one might try to raise against it is simply not the kind that one might raise in the context of empirical science. It requires instead knowledge of metaphysics and philosophy more generally.

    Or even:

    8. Hume and Kant did not have the last word on the argument. Neither has anyone else.

    It is often claimed that Hume, or maybe Kant, essentially had the last word on the subject of the cosmological argument and that nothing significant has been or could be said in its defense since their time. I think that no philosopher who has made a special study of the argument would agree with this judgment, and again, that includes atheistic philosophers who ultimately reject the argument. For example, I don’t think anyone who has studied the issue would deny that Elizabeth Anscombe presented a serious objection to Hume’s claim that something could conceivably come into existence without a cause. Nor is Anscombe by any means the only philosopher to have criticized Hume on this issue. I’m not claiming that everyone would agree that the objections leveled by Anscombe and others are at the end of the day correct (though I think they are), only that they would agree that it is wrong to pretend that Hume somehow ended all serious debate on the issue. (Naturally, I discuss this issue in Aquinas.)

    To take another example, Hume’s objection that the cosmological argument commits a fallacy of composition is, as I have noted in an earlier post, also greatly overrated. For one thing, it assumes that the cosmological argument is concerned with explaining why the universe as a whole exists, and that is simply not true of all versions of the argument. Thomists often emphasize that the argument of Aquinas’s On Being and Essence requires only the premise that something or other exists – a stone, a tree, a book, your left shoe, whatever. The claim is that none of these things could exist even for an instant unless maintained in being by God. You don’t need to start the argument with any fancy premise about the universe as a whole; all you need is a premise to the effect that a stone exists, or a shoe, or what have you. (Again, see Aquinas for the full story.) Even versions of the argument that do begin with a premise about the universe as a whole are (in my view and that of many others) not really damaged by Hume’s objection, for reasons I explain in the post just linked to. In any event, I think that anyone who has studied the cosmological argument in any depth would agree that it is certainly seriously debatable whether Hume draws any blood here.

    In general, critics of the cosmological argument tend arbitrarily to hold it to a standard to which they do not hold other arguments. In other areas of philosophy, even the most problematic views are treated as worthy of continuing debate. The fact that there are all sorts of serious objections to materialist theories of the mind, or consequentialist views in ethics, or Rawlsian liberal views in political philosophy, does not lead anyone to suggest that these views shouldn’t be taken seriously. But the fact that someone somewhere raised such-and-such an objection to the cosmological argument is routinely treated as if this sufficed to establish that the argument has been decisively “refuted” and needn’t be paid any further attention.

    Jason Rosenhouse plays this game in his response to my recent post on Jerry Coyne. Writes Rosenhouse:

    Feser seems rather taken with [the cosmological argument], but there are many strong refutations to be found in the literature. Off the top of my head, I found Mackie’s discussion in The Miracle of Theism and Robin Le Poidevin’s discussion in Arguing for Atheism to be both cogent and accessible.

    Does Rosenhouse really think that we defenders of the cosmological argument aren’t familiar with Mackie and Le Poidevin? Presumably not. But then, what’s his point? That is to say, what point is he trying to make that doesn’t manifestly beg the question? After all, what would Rosenhouse think of the following “objection”:

    Rosenhouse seems rather taken with the materialist view of the mind, but there are many strong refutations to be found in the literature. Off the top of my head, I found Foster’s The Immaterial Self and the essays in Koons’ and Bealer’s The Waning of Materialism to be both cogent and accessible.

    Or, while we’re on the subject of what prominent mainstream atheist philosophers have said, what would he think of:

    Rosenhouse seems rather taken with Darwinism, but there are many strong refutations to be found in the literature. Off the top of my head, I found Fodor’s and Piatelli-Palmarini’s discussion in What Darwin Got Wrong and David Stove’s discussion in Darwinian Fairytales to be both cogent and accessible.

    Rosenhouse’s answer to both “objections” would, I imagine, be: “Since when did Foster, Koons, Bealer, Fodor, Piatelli-Palmarini, and Stove get the last word on these subjects?” And that would be a good answer. But no less good is the following answer to Rosenhouse: Since when did Mackie and Le Poidevin have the last word on the cosmological argument?

    Food for onward thought.

    KF

  401. 401
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: On so-called brute facts, Wiki is inadvertently illuminating:

    In contemporary philosophy, a brute fact is a fact that has no explanation.[1] More narrowly, brute facts may instead be defined as those facts which cannot be explained (as opposed to simply having no explanation).[2] To reject the existence of brute facts is to think that everything can be explained. (“Everything can be explained” is sometimes called the principle of sufficient reason). There are two ways to explain something: say what “brought it about”, or describe it at a more “fundamental” level.[citation needed] For example, a cat displayed on a computer screen can be explained, more “fundamentally”, as there being certain voltages in bits of metal in the screen, which in turn can be explained, more “fundamentally”, as certain subatomic particles moving in a certain manner. If one were to keep explaining the world in this way and reach a point at which no more “deeper” explanations can be given, then they would have found some facts which are brute or inexplicable, in the sense that we cannot give them an ontological explanation[citation needed]. As it might be put, there may exist some things that just are. The same thing can be done with causal explanations. If nothing made the Big Bang expand at the velocity it did, then this is a brute fact in the sense that it lacks a causal explanation.

    Of course, the root of this is the Agrippa trilemma, multiplied by failing to attend to differing kinds of explanation. Providing, there is a logic of being, there is no necessity that everything has a causal explanation, as some things are possible of being but not contingent. They are part of the framework for any world to exist. In that context, a particularly important case is not a “brute” but an ULTIMATE fact, the root of reality — something which, in principle must and does exist as wellspring of all worlds. Non-being having no causal power were there ever only such, that would forever obtain. So, that a world is points to a world root, where circular cause is a disguised appeal to non-being — not yet being — acting as cause. So, we find ourselves with an ultimate, necessary being fact, and one that must be adequate to account for moral government.

    In that context, the idea that one has to go to the next fact please for further explanation, rather than find oneself facing the ultimate and self-existent as its own sufficient explanation seems to be a problem for many today. But that does not mean that one can just sweep it off the table, it is a live option.

  402. 402
    Brother Brian says:

    BB@.378

    KF@375, it is interesting that you are dissembling on my question, which has nothing to do with the morality of sexuality. It was about whether a homosexual who prefers to keep his sexual attraction to himself is obliged to tell the truth when asked about it for employment.

    KF@385,386,387,388,392,394,396 and 398.

    BB, The number of times you have tried to drag discussion threads through the sewer itself is telling. [plus a few thousand other wirds]

    Anywhere in that massive deluge of verbiage, was there something resembling a “yes” or “no” to my question?

  403. 403
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, the prediction is being borne out. KF

    PS: I will not have this thread dragged down into the sewer, kindly take notice. There is a serious and central issue on the table. One I declared intent to take up yesterday morning and took up across today.

  404. 404
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let us follow up a bit on the brute fact (vs “sufficient reason”) concept — and BB, a discussion of central issues is not mere empty verbiage [that reaction goes to the heart of the warrant issue raised in the OP and inadvertently exposes the hollowness of the atheistical default notion].

    Such a brute facts argument, is generally set off against the concept that at some level entities in reality are or can be expected or hoped to be intelligible — the sufficient reason principle.

    For relevant instance, on being challenged regarding this aspect of his atheism, in the 1948 BBC debate with Fr Copleston, Lord Russell’s response was: “I should say that the universe is just there, and that’s all.” The point being, on the Agrippa trilemma, there are three allegedly equally unpalatable alternatives. As SEP summarises, in discussing the principle of sufficient reason:

    A third crucial problem for proponents of the PSR is how to address the Agrippan Trilemma between the apparently exhaustive three horns of: (i) acceptance of brute facts, (ii) acceptance of an infinite regress of explanation (or grounding), or (iii) acceptance of self-explanatory facts. Prima facie, each horn in the trilemma undermines the position of the proponent of the PSR.

    One wonders why something which is, say, a necessary being world root, and so cannot not exist on pain of radical incoherence, undermines there being a reasonable basis, as opposed to a cause specifically, say.

    SEP goes on to note:

    The term “Principle of Sufficient Reason [principe de raison suffisante/principium reddendae rationis]” was coined by Leibniz, though Spinoza is thought by many scholars to have preceded Leibniz in appreciating the importance of the Principle and placing it at the center of his philosophical system.[2] The Principle seems at first sight to have a strong intuitive appeal—we always ask for explanations—yet it is taken by many to be too bold and expensive due to the radical implications it seems to yield. Among the alleged consequences of the Principle are: the Identity of Indiscernibles, necessitarianism, the relativity of space and time, the existence of a self-necessitated Being (i.e., God), and the Principle of Plenitude.

    Of course, there seems to be an allergy to powerful first principles out there, especially if they are suspected of supporting theism.

    At any rate, going further, SEP discusses Spinoza and what we can call a weak form PSR:

    Spinoza’s earliest statement of the PSR appears in his first published work, the 1663 geometrical exposition of Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy. The eleventh axiom of Part I of the book states:

    Nothing exists of which it cannot be asked, what is the cause (or reason) [causa (sive ratio)], why it exists.

    In a brief explanatory note to this axiom, Spinoza adds:

    Since existing is something positive, we cannot say that it has nothing as its cause (by Axiom 7). Therefore, we must assign some positive cause, or reason, why [a thing] exists—either an external one, i.e., one outside the thing itself, or an internal one, one comprehended in the nature and definition of the existing thing itself. (Geb. I/158/4–9)[3]

    Axiom 7, to which Spinoza appeals in the explanation, is a variant of the “ex nihilo, nihil fit” (“from nothing, nothing comes”) principle, and stipulates that an existing thing and its perfections (or qualities) cannot have nothing or a non-existing thing as their cause. Interestingly, however, in another work from this early period of his philosophical writing, the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, Spinoza allows for one unique item to be without a cause. In §70 of this treatise, Spinoza argues:

    [T]hat Thought is also called true which involves objectively the essence of some principle that does not have a cause, and is known through itself and in itself. (II/26/33–4. Our emphasis)

    It is not completely clear what “the principle [principium]” at stake is, but given its qualification as “known through itself and in itself”, it may refer to God and indicate Spinoza’s understanding of Descartes’ rather nuanced view—in his Second Set of Replies—according to which God does not need a cause in order to exist, but there is a reason why God does not need a cause (AT VII: 164–65; cf. Carraud 2002: Ch. 2).[4]

    SEP also brings up Leibniz:

    No philosopher is more closely associated with the PSR than Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716). He was the first to call it by name and, arguably, the first to formulate it with full generality. His treatment of the PSR is also noteworthy for its systematicity and the centrality that he accords it.

    Leibniz often presents it, along with the Principle of Contradiction, as a principle of “reasoning”. For example, in the Monadology he writes:

    31. Our reasonings are based on two great principles, that of contradiction, in virtue of which we judge that which involves a contradiction to be false, and that which is opposed or contradictory to the false to be true.

    32. And that of sufficient reason, by virtue of which we consider that we can find no true or existent fact, no true assertion, without there being a sufficient reason why it is thus and not otherwise, although most of the time these reasons cannot be known to us. (G VI, 612/L 646)

    These principles are characterized in what appears to be epistemic terms. They are principles of “our reasoning”. They concern what we “judge” or “find”. And yet it is clear that Leibniz intends them to have metaphysical as well as epistemic import. In the case of the PSR, this will become more evident when we discuss how Leibniz understands the notion of a sufficient reason but it is already indicated in the passage quoted above by the fact that Leibniz explicitly states that there are sufficient reasons for every truth or fact even if such reasons are unknowable by us.

    The scope of the PSR, as stated above, includes facts and truths. Leibniz sometimes, however, characterizes the scope of the principle in different terms. For example, he writes:

    [T]he principle of sufficient reason, namely, that nothing happens without a reason. (G VII 355; LC L2; AG 321, our emphasis)

    The PSR is here said to apply to what “happens”. This suggests a version of the PSR that applies not to truths or facts but rather events: Every event has a sufficient reason.

    These vacillations in the formulation of the PSR are not typically taken to register indecision on Leibniz’s part as to the scope of the PSR. Rather they are usually understood as indicating that Leibniz views the scope of the PSR to be very wide, perhaps even absolutely general, but at least wide enough to encompass facts, truths, and events (see Rodriguez-Pererya forthcoming).

    Leibniz associates the Principle of Contradiction and the PSR with a variety of domains where each is especially important. For example, there are domains where the truths of the domain depend on one of the two principles. These domains are characterized modally: The Principle of Contradiction rules over the domain of necessary truths and the PSR rules over the domain of contingent truths (A 6 4 1616/MP 75; G VII 355–56/LC 15–16).

    There are also domains that are characterized in terms of subject matter or areas of inquiry. The Principle of Contradiction allows us to study mathematics, whereas the PSR allows us to study metaphysics, natural theology, and physics (G VII, 355–6; LC L2; AG 321).

    So, are key aspects of the world or reality utterly inexplicable (and not just not understood by finite, fallible creatures such as we are)?

    Feser brings to bear a sobering counter-weight to those inclined towards the brute fact approach:

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.....n-psr.html

    [I]f PSR were false, we could have no reason to trust the deliverances of our cognitive faculties, including any grounds we might have for doubting or denying PSR; and an argument to the effect that a critic of PSR cannot coherently accept even the scientific explanations he does accept, unless he acknowledges that there are no brute facts and thus that PSR is true. Della Rocca’s argument bears a family resemblance to this second line of argument.

    Della Rocca notes, first, that even among philosophers who reject PSR, philosophical theses are often defended by recourse to what he calls “explicability arguments.” An explicability argument (I’ll use the abbreviation EA from here on out) is an argument to the effect that we have grounds for denying that a certain state of affairs obtains if it would be inexplicable or a “brute fact.” Della Rocca offers a number of examples of this strategy. When physicalist philosophers of mind defend some reductionist account of consciousness on the grounds that consciousness would (they say) otherwise be inexplicable, they are deploying an EA. When early modern advocates of the “mechanical philosophy” rejected (their caricature of) the Aristotelian notion of substantial forms, they did so on the grounds that the notion was insufficiently explanatory. When philosophers employ inductive reasoning they are essentially rejecting the claim that the future will not be relevantly like the past nor the unobserved like the observed, on the grounds that this would make future and otherwise unobserved phenomena inexplicable. And so forth. (Della Rocca cites several other specific examples from contemporary philosophy — in discussions about the metaphysics of dispositions, personal identity, causation, and modality — wherein EAs are deployed.)

    Now, Della Rocca allows that to appeal to an EA does not by itself commit one to PSR. But suppose we apply the EA approach to the question of why things exist. Whatever we end up thinking the correct answer to this question is — it doesn’t matter for purposes of Della Rocca’s argument — if we deploy an EA in defense of it we will implicitly be committing ourselves to PSR, he says, because PSR just is the claim that the existence of anything must have an explanation.

    In responding to these different examples of EAs, one could, says Della Rocca, take one of three options:

    (1) Hold that some EAs are legitimate kinds of argument, while others — in particular, any EA for some claim about why things exist at all — are not legitimate.

    (2) Hold that no EA for any conclusion is legitimate.

    (3) Hold that all EAs, including any EA for a claim about the sheer existence of things, are legitimate kinds of argument.

    Now, the critic of PSR cannot take option (3), because that would, in effect, be to accept PSR. Nor could any critic of PSR who applies EAs in defense of other claims — and the EA approach is, as Della Rocca notes, a standard move in contemporary philosophy (and indeed, in science) — take option (2).

    So that leaves (1). The trouble, though, is that there doesn’t seem to be any non-question-begging way of defending option (1). For why should we believe that EAs are legitimate in other cases, but not when giving some account of the sheer existence of things? It seems arbitrary to allow the one sort of EA but not the other sort. The critic of PSR cannot respond by saying that it is just a brute fact that some kinds of EAs are legitimate and others are not, because this would beg the question against PSR, which denies that there are any brute facts. Nor would it do for the critic to say that it is just intuitively plausible to hold that EAs are illegitimate in the case of explaining the sheer existence of things, since Della Rocca’s point is that the critic’s acceptance of EAs in other domains casts doubt on the reliability of this particular intuition. Hence an appeal to intuition would also beg the question.

    So, Della Rocca’s argument is that there seems no cogent way to accept EAs at all without accepting PSR. The implication seems to be that we can have no good reason to think anything is explicable unless we also admit that everything is.

    Naturally, I agree with this. Indeed, I think Della Rocca, if anything, concedes too much to the critic of PSR. In particular, he allows that while it would be “extremely problematic” for someone to bite the bullet and take option (2), it may not be “logically incoherent” to do so. But this doesn’t seem correct to me. Even if the critic of PSR decides to reject the various specific examples of EAs cited by Della Rocca — EAs concerning various claims about consciousness, modality, personal identity, etc. — the critic will still make use of various patterns of reasoning he considers formally valid or inductively strong, will reject patterns of reasoning he considers fallacious, etc. And he will do so precisely because these principles of logic embody standards of intelligibility or explanatory adequacy.

    To be sure, it is a commonplace in logic that not all explanations are arguments, and it is also sometimes claimed (less plausibly, I think) that not all arguments are explanations. However, certainly many arguments are explanations. What Aristotelians call “explanatory demonstrations” (e.g. a syllogism like All rational animals are capable of language, all men are rational animals, so all men are capable of language) are explanations. Arguments to the best explanation are explanations, and as Della Rocca notes, inductive reasoning in general seems to presuppose that things have explanations.

    So, to give up EAs of any sort (option (2)) would seem to be to give up the very practice of argumentation itself, or at least much of it. Needless to say, it is hard to see how that could fail to be logically incoherent, at least if one tries to defend one’s rejection of PSR with arguments. Hence, to accept the general practice of giving arguments while nevertheless rejecting EAs of the specific sorts Della Rocca gives as examples would really be to take Della Rocca’s option (1) rather than option (2) . . .

    On balance, I suggest that it is reasonable on seeing an actual or candidate being A, to inquire why it is, or may be or may not be or is impossible to be etc. We may hope to find a good answer, not always a causal one, as some entities are necessary beings. In the case of a world-root being, the challenge is, that a world is and cannot plausibly come from utter non-being. So, on best explanation, there is a necessary being world root. Such a being exists necessarily (in the ontological sense), and is in a relevant sense its own explanation, given the going concern world with rational creatures making the inquiry.

    But of course, that is worlds apart from there being a perfect, complete explanation that we grasp just now, with utter certainty beyond question of error.

    KF

  405. 405
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: In my own discussion, after drawing forth the triple first principles LOI, LEM, LNC, I then go to number 4:

    a fourth key law of sound thought linked quite directly to the above is the principle of sufficient reason , which enfolds the principle of cause and effect.

    Schopenhauer in his Manuscript Remains, Vol. 4, notes that:

    [PSR, strong form:] “Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.”

    This, we may soften slightly into a weak form investigatory version that should be unobjectionable to reasonable thinkers . . . thus avoiding unnecessary side issues over the PSR, and will prove quite adequate for our purposes :

    [PSR, weak (investigatory) form:] Of any particular thing A that is

    [. . . or (ii) is possible, or even (iii) is impossible],

    we may ask, why it is

    [. . . or (ii’) why it is possible, or (iii’) why it is impossible],

    and we may expect — or at least hope — to find a reasonable answer.

    Of course, for any given case, X, we may simply directly proceed to ask why is X so, or why is X possible or why is X impossible, and seek a reasonable answer. So, the weak form as it stands is unobjectionable.

    Cause-effect explanations arise, of course, for contingent beings. Being part of the framework for a world to exist, arises for necessary beings (and this is connected to the distinct identity of a particular world). Likewise, what is impossible of being is such that core characteristics are mutually contradictory, rendering such impossible of being.

    And, this summary of logic of being is already an outline explanatory framework of broad and arguably general character; albeit this is generic. That is, it seems the hope of reasonable explanation is not empty, though in our limitations, we know but little of what is in principle knowable.

    We are back to the centrality of the logic of being.

  406. 406
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Feser has some onward remarks:

    Della Rocca also remarks:

    I suspect that many of you simply will not see the force of the challenge that I am issuing to the non-rationalist. (I speak here from long experience, experience that prompted me to call my endeavor here quixotic.) Philosophers tend to be pretty cavalier in their use of explicability arguments — using them when doing so suits their purposes, refusing to use them otherwise, and more generally, failing to investigate how their various attitudes toward explicability arguments hang together, if they hang together at all. We philosophers — in our slouching fashion! — are comfortable with a certain degree of unexamined arbitrariness in our use of explicability arguments. But my point is that a broader perspective on our practices with regard to explicability arguments reveals that there is a genuine tension in the prevalent willingness to use some explicability arguments and to reject others.

    Amen to that. As with the urban legend about First Cause arguments resting on the premise that “everything has a cause,” the notion that the PSR is a relic, long ago refuted, is a mere prejudice that a certain kind of academic philosopher stubbornly refuses to examine. It doesn’t matter how strong is an argument you give for PSR; he will remain unmoved. He “already knows” there must be something wrong with it, because, after all, don’t most members of “the profession” think so?

    Why, it’s almost as if such philosophers don’t want the PSR to be true, and thus would rather not have their prejudice against it disturbed.

    He then goes on to suggest, that part of this is that PSR is in effect a key component of cosmological arguments [and we may add, modal ontological ones] that point to God.

    So, again, the question of alternative start-points for worldviews and why we choose them i/l/o comparative difficulties is on the table.

  407. 407
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: Notice, how the “there is no evidence” claim so often used by objectors to theism (and which is often a key component of so-called weak form atheism), is gradually evaporating?

    –> Do not overlook, that the appeal to [lack of] evidence implies an appeal to PSR.

  408. 408
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    BB, the prediction is being borne out. KF

    Are you referring to the prediction that you would jump all over my Nazi example but completely avoid the more nuanced examples of whether closeted homosexuals are obligated to say that they are sexually attracted to people of the same sex when asked during a job interview? Yes, that prediction was completely borne out. Several thousand words later, and you still have not answered this. Which, by the way, is completely on topic with the OP as it deals with what you say is the God given moral governance and the God given moral value of not lying.

    Arguments, such as yours, become less tenable when they can’t soundly address these more nuanced examples. And become highly questionable when the people supporting the argument refuse to address them and project nefarious motives on those who raise them.

  409. 409
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    If you will scroll up, you will see the following prediction regarding the at length laying out on core considerations, tied to challenges to address on comparative difficulties:

    387
    kairosfocus
    July 15, 2019 at 4:17 am (Edit)

    PREDICTION: Studious ignoring by objectors or else less than cogent responses. Please, prove me wrong: ______ . At any rate, something is needed for record. KF

    I note, from 3 above:

    3
    Brother Brian
    June 30, 2019 at 3:17 pm (Edit)

    It seems to me that a Christian’s definition of an atheist carries as much weight as an atheist’s definition of a Christian.

    That has been answered and the usual “no evidence” rhetorical gambit has been answered at first level.

    Only, to be dismissed as “verbiage” — clearly indicative of the real balance on dealing with the merits.

    KF

    PS: And no, I will not allow this thread to be dragged down into the sewer, there was already a thread recently where such utterly distasteful and frankly disgusting issues were adequately aired and addressed. There is no need to obsessively rehash such over and over again.

  410. 410
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    PS: And no, I will not allow this thread to be dragged down into the sewer, there was already a thread recently where such utterly distasteful and frankly disgusting issues were adequately aired and addressed. There is no need to obsessively rehash such over and over again.

    So, you are not willing to answer a question directly related to what you say is our binding to God given moral governance and the moral value of not lying? [–> I answered enough above by giving a concrete case study, Paul and Onesimus; I have no obligation to indulge a thread drag through the sewer.] I thought that was one of the foundations of your entire argument. [–> thread dragging off topic and through the sewer yet again have utterly nothing to do with atheism’s warrant challenge, nor the roots of morality as a part of accounting for origins.] But if you are not willing to address it, your lack of response says more than your words ever could. [–> No, your twisting of the matter is what speaks. KF]

  411. 411
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Often, when we see strawman caricatures of cosmological arguments, we find the supposition that theists start from “everything has a cause” and then try to get to a first cause. I am wondering if this is a misunderstanding of the PSR, driven by lack of understanding of associated logic of being. To wit, if one is unaware of the issue of necessary being, one may imagine that all beings are contingent. A reason — that which makes sense of existence or non existence, rendering it at least intelligible in principle (if not in detail) — is not synonymous with a cause. Hence, again the need for at least the sort of outline survey of logic of being that appears in the OP. KF

    PS: And no, attempts to drag the thread off track into dreary polarisations that serve only to distract and distance (even if simply driven by such being what appear to be burning, urgent issues) will not prevail. There are prior, foundational things that need to be sorted out if we are to return a civilisation that has lost its way to sanity and away from a crumbling cliff’s edge.

  412. 412
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: In February, Reppert pointed out something that has become conventional textbook wisdom:

    https://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2019/07/of-course-there-is-no-proof-of-gods.html

    Of course, there is no proof of God’s existence
    The textbook that I use in Introduction to Ethics uses as an argument against the Divine Command theory the idea that there is no proof of God’s existence. Of course there is a lot of debate about these arguments for God, and there is an atheist side to the discussion. What bothers me in the text is its assumption, without talking about any of the arguments, that of course there’s no proof of God’s existence. This is a popular belief in our culture, typically arrived at with no real study.

    Why do textbook authors (so also the typical certificated “educated” person) think this?

    Likely, they echo the conventional wisdom of the guild of scholars in an age dominated by evolutionary materialistic scientism. A day in the which, were one to say the opposite or propose that the question is or should be open for consideration, one will be marginalised or even pounced on. For sure, a textbook cutting across the anonymous authority claim of such a conventional wisdom is unlikely to be recommended for adoption, unless it makes a clever argument indeed. Where, such an argument is not likely to be found in a 101 textbook or even a 201 intermediate.

    In short, dominance is self-sustaining, until it goes over the cliff’s edge.

    In the meanwhile, an alternative needs to be worked through and persistently communicated (never mind distractions), until there is at least a growing recognition that the dominant narrative may have passed its sell-by date.

    Which is part of the justification for this thread of record.

    Where, in turn, the wider context is, theistic arguments and the warrant challenges of atheism are far broader than debates over design inferences.

    Never mind, that in a day dominated by scientism, it is important to redirect science to what is empirically warranted. Namely, there are indeed strong signs of design that are empirically reliable and analytically backed. Where also, such signs appear in the world of life and in the evident fine tuning of the observed — the only actually observed — cosmos.

    KF

  413. 413
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Feser gives us a live case in point:

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.....rmies.html

    most of what the average contemporary secular philosopher thinks he “knows” about the traditional arguments of natural theology and natural law theory is nothing but a hodgepodge of ludicrous caricatures, and the standard “objections” to these arguments, widely considered fatal, in fact have no force whatsoever. If such philosophers’ continued employment depended on demonstrating some rudimentary knowledge of (for example) the actual views of Thomas Aquinas, many of them would be selling pencils.

    Consider this breathtaking example from an introductory book on philosophy:

    The most important version of the first cause argument comes to us from Thomas Aquinas (1225-74).

    The argument runs like this: everything that happens has a cause, and that cause itself has a cause, and that cause too has a cause, and so on and so on, back into the past, in a series that must either be finite or infinite. Now if the series is finite is [sic] must have had a starting point, which we may call the first cause. This first cause is God.

    What if the series is infinite? Aquinas after some consideration eventually rejects the possibility that the world is infinitely old and had no beginning in time. Certainly the idea of time stretching backwards into the past forever is one which the human mind finds hard to grasp… Still we might note here that Aristotle found no difficulty in [this] idea. He held that the world has existed forever. Aristotle’s opinion, if correct, invalidates the first cause argument.

    [From Jenny Teichman and Katherine C. Evans, Philosophy: A Beginner’s Guide, Second [–> as in, there was opportunity to learn, correct and update] edition (Blackwell [–> as in the publishers who later threatened to pulp the Enc of Christian Civ], 1995), p. 22.]

    Now, I don’t need to tell you what’s wrong with this, right?

    Maybe I do. Teichman and Evans are not liars, after all; they just don’t know any better. And if this is true of two professional philosophers, it’s bound to be true of many non-experts. Explaining everything that is wrong with this travesty of Aquinas would take several pages, and since you can find those pages in The Last Superstition, I direct the interested reader there. But very briefly: Aquinas nowhere in his case for God’s existence argues that the world had a beginning in time; indeed, he rather famously argues that it cannot be proved that it had such a beginning. Nor was he unfamiliar with Aristotle’s views on this subject, given that Aquinas was – again, rather famously – probably the greatest Aristotelian after Aristotle himself, and the author of many lengthy commentaries on The Philosopher’s works. What Aquinas seeks to show in all of his arguments for God’s existence is not the existence of a first cause who operated at some point in the distant past to get the world going, but rather one who is operating here and now, and at any moment at which the universe exists at all, to keep the world going. And part of his point is that the existence of such a God is something that can be proved even if the universe has always existed. (He did not actually believe it has always existed, mind you; he just didn’t get into the issue for the purposes of arguing for God’s existence.)

    I don’t mean to pick on Teichman and Evans. Indeed, I have profited from some of Teichman’s work, and I enjoyed her occasional contributions to The New Criterion back when she was writing for them several years ago. But this is not a mere slip of the pen. This is a basic failure to make sure one knows what one is talking about before writing on something of major importance. The reason Teichman and Evans could get away with it is that so many other philosophers get away with it routinely, and no one calls them on it. (Here’s a set of errors, by the way – far more egregious and undeniable than any error allegedly made in the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization – that Blackwell not only didn’t threaten to pulp the book over, but even left in the second edition!)

    There are surely hundreds or even thousands of philosophers who think Aquinas is guilty of various fallacies because they simply don’t understand what his arguments are really about. And there are surely many more thousands of non-philosophers – including the students of the ignorant philosophers in question, and the readers of their works – who think the same thing. Widespread errors of this sort are an enormous part of the reason atheism has the respectability it has come to have.

    That’s a pretty sobering thought, on the gap between guild conventional wisdom (and what naive students or readers are led to imagine) and what reading original sources would show. In praxis of course most scholarship is busily engaging current debates and views, having little time to dig back hundreds or thousands of years. And often that works, but as C S Lewis advised, reading old books might be very useful in getting a corrective on the widespread errors of the present.

    And of course something like Wikipedia is going to be even more likely to reflect the problems being highlighted today.

    KF

    PS: This link by Feser on the Enc of Christian Civ, is eye-opening on the underlying problems of an ideologically polarised radically secularist age.

  414. 414
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: A sampler from Aquinas in Summa Theologica — a highly structured introduction and summary, first on self-evidence:

    I answer that, A thing can be self-evident in either of two ways: on the one hand, self-
    evident in itself, though not to us; on the other, self-evident in itself, and to us. A proposition
    is self-evident because the predicate is included in the essence of the subject, as “Man is an
    animal,” for animal is contained in the essence of man. If, therefore the essence of the pre-
    dicate and subject be known to all, the proposition will be self-evident to all; as is clear with
    regard to the first principles of demonstration, the terms of which are common things that
    no one is ignorant of, such as being and non-being, whole and part, and such like. If, however,
    there are some to whom the essence of the predicate and subject is unknown, the proposition
    will be self-evident in itself, but not to those who do not know the meaning of the predicate
    and subject of the proposition. Therefore, it happens, as Boethius says (Hebdom., the title
    of which is: “Whether all that is, is good”), “that there are some mental concepts self-evident
    only to the learned, as that incorporeal substances are not in space.” Therefore I say that
    this proposition, “God exists,” of itself is self-evident, for the predicate is the same as the
    subject, because God is His own existence as will be hereafter shown (Q[3], A[4]). Now be-
    cause we do not know the essence of God, the proposition is not self-evident to us; but needs
    to be demonstrated by things that are more known to us, though less known in their nature-
    –namely, by effects.

    To see the self-evident as such, one has got to first access it through a proper basis of experience, understanding and insight. But to get there can be a challenge in a world where many are induced to use crooked yardsticks as standards for straight, accurate, upright. To break that, one needs plumbline, self evident truths and first principles, that one is willing to acknowledge. Where, mental debasement and attachment to the false can induce some to reject formerly acknowledged principles and points of knowledge because they lead, not to the actually absurd, but where one would not go.

    Note, where I begin here.

    Now, let us use the Wiki summary of the five ways, which are picked up from classical philosophy:

    The quinque viae (Latin “Five Ways”) (sometimes called “five proofs”) are five logical arguments regarding the existence of God summarized by the 13th-century Catholic philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas in his book Summa Theologica. They are:

    the argument from metaphysical motion;
    the argument from efficient causation;
    the argument from contingency;
    the argument from degrees of being;
    the argument from final causality (“teleological argument”).

    Aquinas expands the first of these – God as the “unmoved mover” – in his Summa Contra Gentiles . . . .

    A summary version of the Five Ways is given in the Summa theologiae[7] The Summa uses the form of scholastic disputation (i.e. a literary form based on a lecturing method: a question is raised, then the most serious objections are summarized, then a correct answer is provided in that context, then the objections are answered), and the Five Ways follow Medieval Theories of Demonstration.

    A subsequent, more detailed, treatment of the Five Ways can be found in the Summa contra gentiles.[1] Aquinas further elaborated each of the Five Ways in more detail in passing in multiple books.
    Essential and Accidental Causal Chains

    The first two Ways relate to causation. When Aquinas argues that a causal chain cannot be infinitely long, he does not have in mind a chain where each element is a prior event that causes the next event; in other words, he is not arguing for a first event in a sequence. Rather, his argument is that a chain of concurrent or simultaneous effects must be rooted ultimately in a cause capable of generating these effects, and hence for a cause that is first in the hierarchical sense, not the temporal sense.[8]

    Aquinas follows the distinction found in Aristotle’s Physics 8.5, and developed by Simplicius, Maimonides, and Avicenna that a causal chain may be either accidental (Socrates’ father caused Socrates, Socrates’ grandfather caused Socrates’ father, but Socrates’ grandfather only accidentally caused Socrates) or essential (a stick is moving a stone, because a hand is simultaneously moving the stick, and thus transitively the hand is moving the stone.)[9]

    An accidental series of causes is one in which the earlier causes need no longer exist in order for the series to continue. … An essential series of causes is one in which the first, and every intermediate member of the series, must continue to exist in order for the causal series to continue as such.[1]
    —?”Agellius” (paraphrasing Fesser), The First Cause Argument Misunderstood

    His thinking here relies on what would later be labelled “essentially ordered causal series” by John Duns Scotus.[10] (In Duns Scotus, it is a causal series in which the immediately observable elements are not capable of generating the effect in question, and a cause capable of doing so is inferred at the far end of the chain. Ordinatio I.2.43[11])

    This is also why Aquinas rejected that reason can prove the universe must have had a beginning in time; for all he knows and can demonstrate the universe could have been ‘created from eternity’ by the eternal God.[12] He accepts the biblical doctrine of creation as a truth of faith, not reason.[9]

    This is surprisingly well balanced given source.

    I would actually note that there is relevance here as from the premise that no-thing is non-being were there ever utter nothing such would forever obtain. So, in reality, something always was and is, the root. Which, we can consider to be a world — to later be identified as God. God who, as root of communicative reason and responsible moral government, will also be seen to be personal, acting with thought and will. So, it is appropriate to think more broadly than our particular world of temporal-causal succession through finite stages, which indeed is seriously challenged to extend and span to a beginningless thus implicitly transfinite past given the supertask implied. In effect, to argue for such is to imply that at any given finitely remote, past finite duration stage k [think years for convenience], there was already k-1, k-2, etc without limit, effectively begging the question of the supertask of transfinite traverse.

    Wiki makes an observation:

    In the Summa theologiciae presentation, Aquinas deliberately switched from using the term demonstrabile (a logical or mathematical proof) to using probile (an argument or test or proving ground). [6] A more accurate translation would be “The existence of God can be argued for in five ways.” That he deliberately switched terms away from a term used for proof indicates a signal of an intent or nuance.

    Now, let us see skeletal summaries, through Graycik:

    http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/.....alysis.htm

    The First Way: Argument from Motion

    1 Our senses prove that some things are in motion.

    2 Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion

    [–> this uses the idea of potential –> motion or change –> actualisation, it is broader than physical movement].

    3 Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.

    4 Nothing can be at once in both actuality and potentiality in the same respect (i.e., if both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another).

    5 Therefore nothing can move itself.

    [–> I would add, directly, given f/b loops and cybernetic systems]

    6 Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.

    7 The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum. [–> not temporal sense but antecedent]
    ________
    8 Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

    The Second Way: Argument from Efficient Causes

    1 We perceive a series of efficient causes of things in the world.

    2 Nothing exists prior to itself.

    3 Therefore nothing [in the world of things we perceive] is the efficient cause of itself.

    4 If a previous efficient cause does not exist, neither does the thing that results (the effect).

    5 Therefore if the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series exists.

    6 If the series of efficient causes extends ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.

    7 That is plainly false (i.e., there are things existing now that came about through efficient causes).

    9 Therefore efficient causes do not extend ad infinitum into the past.
    _____________
    10 Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

    The Third Way: Argument from Possibility and Necessity (Reductio argument)

    1 We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, that come into being and go out of being i.e., contingent beings.

    2 Assume that every being is a contingent being.

    3 For each contingent being, there is a time it does not exist.

    4 Therefore it is impossible for these always to exist.

    5 Therefore there could have been a time when no things existed.

    6 Therefore at that time there would have been nothing to bring the currently existing contingent beings into existence.

    7 Therefore, nothing would be in existence now.

    8 We have reached an absurd result from assuming that every being is a contingent being.

    9 Therefore not every being is a contingent being.
    ____________
    10 Therefore some being exists of its own necessity, and does not receive its existence from another being, but rather causes them. This all men speak of as God.

    The Fourth Way: Argument from Gradation of Being

    1 There is a gradation to be found in things: some are better or worse than others.

    2 Predications of degree require reference to the “uttermost” case (e.g., a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest).

    3 The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus.

    [–> Is this in effect a tree, pointing to root?]
    ________________________
    4 Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

    The Fifth Way: Argument from Design

    1 We see that natural bodies work toward some goal, and do not do so by chance.

    2 Most natural things lack knowledge.

    3 But as an arrow reaches its target because it is directed by an archer, what lacks intelligence achieves goals by being directed by something intelligence.
    ____________
    4 Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

    This is of course 800 years ago, these are related to how we think now but are cited and summarised as a pivotal historical point not the be-all, end all.

    KF

  415. 415
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Gracyk excerpts the text:

    The existence of God can be proved in five ways.

    The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

    The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

    The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence–which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

    The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But “more” and “less” are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

    The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

    Again, a marker of a pivotal point, and at that a summary of arguments drawn out by the Angelic doctor in more details, as Feser emphasises.

  416. 416
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    I answered enough above by giving a concrete case study, Paul and Onesimus.

    In the comment where I included the Nazi example and the other examples of whether homosexuals are morally obligated to tell the truth when asked about their sexual attraction during a job interview

    [ –> again, you try to drag the thread into the sewer. You are a primary person who has made the claim in thread there is no evidence supporting the reality of God, and as that evidence has been adduced in part and in summary at 101 level, you are found consistently pulling off on a side track that pivots on disgusting and irrelevant issues. I gave a classic case study on addressing moral dilemmas when life is on the line, which takes in by extension cases that are less involved, thus provides sufficient food for thought on the subject of moral dilemmas forcing choices across evils and also the way that such has been abused in recent decades to try to undermine moral principles and the objectivity of morality. That stands as my sufficient answer, I have no obligations to follow up on every side-track. KF]

    , I predicted that you would jump all over the nazi example but completely ignore the more subtle sexual attraction examples. You did not disappoint.

    [–> I documented the actual prediction on the table, that when time would be spent on addressing the evidence regarding world root reality, it would be likely indeed that such would not be addressed. The past several days shows that this is just what has happened. It seems that there is only a rhetorical, talking point gambit behind the no evidence and default atheism claims. Were there a serious argument, it would be all over the Internet.]

    I have no obligation to indulge a thread drag through the sewer.

    How is discussing the moral value of telling the truth and your claim that we are bound by moral governance, using real world examples, dragging the thread through the sewer?

    [–> You know full well the nature of the examples you chose, especially given that they were discussed in a recent thread. An adequate answer on a real moral dilemma with multiple lives on the line has been given, only to be ignored and mischaracterised for days. I have the right to infer, therefore, that the examples being given reflect an obsessive insistence on dragging down into the sewer. Notice, also the substitution of “governance” — a synonym for the politics of decision-making — for government, a subtle strawman twisting of the actual issue. The attempt to thereby suggest that we are not under moral obligation thus bound by duties to truth, right reason, prudence, fairness and justice etc speaks volumes on the corrosive effects of undermining the binding nature of moral government. the subtle amorality and nihilism that this points to, speak for themselves. Plato’s warning was right. And, evil forever seeks to impose a crooked, corrupt yardstick of power and manipulation in the place of the right. ]

    thread dragging off topic and through the sewer yet again have utterly nothing to do with atheism’s warrant challenge, nor the roots of morality as a part of accounting for origins.

    How does the issue of your opinion of moral values and moral governance off topic and not directly related to atheism’s “warrant challenge”?

    [–> this utterly mischaracterises this thread from the OP on and further warrants the conclusion that we are seeing a peristent attempt to derail a serious discussion that the objector raised but now finds it hard to address on the merits, not even by linking sources online.]

    These are fundamental to the warrant of theism, and atheism is is the counterpoint to theism.

    [–> First, the problem of moral dilemmas was adequately responded to on a key case study of civlisational significance. let’s just say that it is not by accident that the motto of the Antislavery Society was taken from Philemon. Moral dilemmas, real or imagined — including, concealing of relevant serious moral flaws from prospective employers — are not a true counterpoint to theism. next, theism is not thereby undermined or overthrown, and the direct discussion of evidence which is being ducked still remains to be addressed cogently. Beyond that, theism vs atheism are not the only possible or actual worldviews options, so the issue of warranting atheistical worldviews on their own merits remains, and remains unaddressed by objectors tot he message in the OP. The attempt to dismiss a serious argument by use of a drag to the sewer distractor, fails.]

    No, your twisting of the matter is what speaks.

    How is directly addressing the issue of your OP using real world examples a twisting of matters?

    [–> there is a direct matter, addressed on the merits with considerable substance, not replied to, and distractors are posed. These are answered through a pivotal real world case on moral dilemmas, which is not addressed either. This goes to lack of serious intent.]

    When and when we are not morally obligated to tell the truth is at the heart of this issue. The fact that you refuse to discuss it using real world examples that call it in to question speaks volumes about your view.

    [–> attempted turnabout, based on further misrepresentations, fails. There is a main subject on the table and it will be addressed. if this objector were to work his way through the case of Onesimus, he would see more than enough of an answer. KF]

  417. 417
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: What about the Ontological argument of Anselm?

    Ironically, it appears in an OBJECTION (part of the standard structure of the Summa approach):

    Whether the existence of God is self-evident?

    Objection 1: It seems that the existence of God is self-evident. Now those things are
    said to be self-evident to us the knowledge of which is naturally implanted in us, as we can
    see in regard to first principles. But as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. i, 1,3), “the knowledge
    of God is naturally implanted in all.” Therefore the existence of God is self-evident.

    Objection 2: Further, those things are said to be self-evident which are known as soon
    as the terms are known, which the Philosopher (1 Poster. iii) says is true of the first principles
    of demonstration. Thus, when the nature of a whole and of a part is known, it is at once re-
    cognized that every whole is greater than its part. But as soon as the signification of the word
    “God” is understood, it is at once seen that God exists. For by this word is signified that
    thing than which nothing greater can be conceived. But that which exists actually and
    mentally is greater than that which exists only mentally. Therefore, since as soon as the word
    “God” is understood it exists mentally, it also follows that it exists actually
    .
    Therefore the
    proposition “God exists” is self-evident.

    Objection 3: Further, the existence of truth is self-evident. For whoever denies the ex-
    istence of truth grants that truth does not exist: and, if truth does not exist, then the propos-
    ition “Truth does not exist” is true: and if there is anything true, there must be truth.
    But
    God is truth itself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6) Therefore “God exists” is
    self-evident.

    On the contrary, No one can mentally admit the opposite of what is self-evident; as the
    Philosopher (Metaph. iv, lect. vi) states concerning the first principles of demonstration.
    But the opposite of the proposition “God is” can be mentally admitted: “The fool said in his
    heart, There is no God” (Ps. 52:1). Therefore, that God exists is not self-evident.

    [–> he then starts the familiar remark on self-evidence that already appears above:]

    I answer that, A thing can be self-evident in either of two ways: on the one hand, self-
    evident in itself, though not to us; on the other, self-evident in itself, and to us . . .

    Aquinas here is speaking about self evidence and whether God is self-evident. In doing so he uses Anselm’s compressed remarks as speaking to objections, which are not actually endorsed.

    At any rate, it is clear that the argument is skeletal, there seems to be a huge suppressed context. When that has been elaborated, we end up with some form of discussion about logic of being, necessity vs contingency, maximal greatness, thus modality. And modality is at least pointed to as Anselm is saying “that which exists actually and mentally is greater than that which exists only mentally.” What exists only mentally would be at best a possible being of contingent character, which would indeed be inferior to a necessary world root being.

    Where, we are looking for a necessary, world root being, given the failures of infinite regress and circular cause of origin, so the debate is of what character. Which then brings to bear the existence of morally governed creatures and the need for an inherently good (and so utterly wise) creator God as that necessary being. Maximal greatness points to a unique being to fill the bill: a necessary, world-root maximally great being who is inherently good and utterly wise. We can then add in something like, by which all men understand, such is God.

    The ontological argument takes importance as it frames things like the eternity of God, his greatness, his goodness, his being world root, and forces us to reflect on these in light of the logic of being. Where possible worlds semantics allows us to give a fairly sharp focus to such things.

    In that context, we can note that there are features of the cosmos that point to a first cause source with significant aspects of such characteristics, that there is evidence of purpose through signs of design (and indeed let us remember, cell based life through DNA has in it language and algorithms!), that contingent entities in reality point to a necessary being root with again key charascteristics. Moral government also points to the world root.

    So, we can perhjaps best consider this world of discussion as looking at convergent lines of observations, insights and linked reasoning — collectively, evidence — that form a mutually supportive framework pointing to the rationality and reasonableness of accepting the reality of God. This, before one actually may encounter him personally and be transformed by him, or, actually we may argue that a sound conscience is already his voice within, regulating our thought, speech, decisions and behaviour.

    Those who so hastily and so insistently declare that there is “no evidence” pointing to God, are patently ill-advised.

    The atheistical “default” claim evaporates.

    KF

  418. 418
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.

    Something has to preceed a potential motion in order for the potential to be converted to actual motion.

    It’s the same way with causality. A thing cannot cause itself because it would have to exist before it existed in order to be the cause that caused itself to exist.

  419. 419
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N (& attn BB): Now that I have worked through a sufficient initial summary giving food for thought on theism, let us pause to deal with an attempted argument in claimed warrant {!!!!!!!} of atheism, from moral dilemmas.

    That is, circumstances where at least apparently, there are no morally good {!!!!!!!} choices for at least one agent x, whose inaction will also end in an evil and deep guilt {!!!!!!} either naturally or by imposition of an oppressive power acting in the situation.

    This argument is already patently incoherent as it appeals to duties to truth, to warrant, to justice etc in order to try to undermine same. Where, already, if we are not actually duty-bound to truth, right reason, prudence, sound conscience, justice etc, there not only are no moral dilemmas but we have set loose the utter undermining of responsible rationality. Therefore, those who pose it are enabling utter demonic nihilism. Which is the surest way to find ourselves under evil powers who will try to lock us into corrupting, soul-tainting evil.

    So, the argument condemns itself at outset: it is imprudent, evil, corrupting, manipulative, oppressive, fundamentally deceptive counsel.

    Second, as was long since already pointed out in 397 above, Boethius in his classic Consolation of Philosophy identifies a pivotal flaw in any antitheistic argument that appeals from evil against God: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?”

    Arguments that appeal to our innate knowledge that evil is real and to be rejected, depend inescapably on the reality of evil and so also of good, thence our inescapable duties to reason and the right, which start by governing our intellectual faculties through our known duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to sound conscience, to fairness, to justice etc. Thus they inadvertently highlight that we operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap and that this must be bridged in the only place where such is possible, the roots of reality. For which, as noted, there is just one serious candidate: the inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. One, who is worthy of our loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature.

    Manifestly, such duties of justice include that we should not set up oppressive institutions, powers and decrees that trap people into enabling evil or into participating in it. That manifestly holds for dictatorships setting up concentration camps where a guard can trap a mother by telling her there is not enough space so you pick which of your sons will be killed now or both will be killed if you refuse to choose which lives and which dies. It also holds for cases where immoral conduct is claimed as a right under false colour of law and those who refuse to enable evil as though it were the right are subjected to crippling penalty under false colour of law — which corrupts the judiciary and law enforcement systems. Which, BTW, is exactly how we end up with Gestapos acting wickedly under false colour of law enforcement.

    It holds for exposing the evils of slavery as was pointed out in 372 above on the case of Onesimus and Paul:

    A classic biblical instance is that of Paul, in Rome as an appeals prisoner having already been forced to appeal to Nero from the Jerusalem hierarchy seeking to assassinate him, and with his neck already literally on the line. He is closely guarded by soldiers (traditionally actually chained to one). Suddenly, Onesimus comes to him, having escaped as a slave and apparently having stolen money. To harbour an escapee is already another capital charge, and to directly challenge Roman law and institutions would be to confirm the accusation he was already facing.

    He sends Onesimus back home, with the letter Philemon that in effect exerted influence and principles to utterly undermine such oppressions, clearly leading to manumission. Also, teaching principles of equality, dignity, brotherhood and responsible liberty. Later, we would hear of a Bishop Onesimus, and some suggest this is he, also that he may have been a key figure in collecting what is now our NT.

    Notice, what is going on here:

    I pause to pick up a point that has too often been used to warp our moral judgements, to induce us to accept yet another crooked yardstick.

    I see you are trying the old moral dilemma talking point on casting one value above another.

    It does not demonstrate what those who pushed “values clarification” etc thought.

    What it means is that in a world where evil (even demonic evil) can have power, sometimes our only realistic choice is the least of evils; which is still not a pure good. Hence, fighting a war with the Nazi state [–> the most widely acknowledged case of recent, entrenched demonic evil in control of the organs of state power and law], using realistic means and accepting that to fight will cost much. Starting with rivers of blood and a devastated continent, continuing through horrific waste of economic resources and leading to needing to race towards nukes as you know the pioneers who discovered the principles were on the other side. Also knowing that information security is absolutely vital. And much more, lessons best learned from a deep, sound understanding of lessons of history paid for with blood and tears. [–> That is, sound record of hard bought experience is the only effective guide to dealing with existential moral dilemmas]

    I then drew out a conclusion:

    So now, how to answer the demonic Gestapo? By first recognising that when evil dominates we can face genuine moral dilemmas and must recognise that innocent life is a first right without which there are no rights — the exact principle why many of us look with horror on the ongoing abortion holocaust and refuse to enable it. And, extending to our own circumstances, those who vote in evil are enablers of evil, here, voting in holocaust is on the table.

    A lot closer to home than imagining some new Gestapo.

    Now, let us consider another key case, St Maximilian Kolbe, at Auschwitz.

    For, they overcame the wicked one by the power of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto death:

    After the outbreak of World War II, which started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, Kolbe was one of the few brothers who remained in the monastery, where he organized a temporary hospital.[5] After the town was captured by the Germans, he was briefly arrested by them on 19 September 1939 but released on 8 December.[2][5] He refused to sign the Deutsche Volksliste, which would have given him rights similar to those of German citizens, in exchange for recognizing his ethnic German ancestry.[16] Upon his release he continued work at his friary, where he and other friars provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from German persecution in the Niepokalanów friary.[2][11][12][16][17] Kolbe received permission to continue publishing religious works, though significantly reduced in scope.[16] The monastery continued to act as a publishing house, issuing a number of anti-Nazi German publications.[2][11]

    On 17 February 1941, the monastery was shut down by the German authorities.[2] That day Kolbe and four others were arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison.[2] On 28 May, he was transferred to Auschwitz as prisoner 16670.[18]

    Continuing to act as a priest, Kolbe was subjected to violent harassment, including beating and lashings. Once he was smuggled to a prison hospital by friendly inmates.[2][16] At the end of July 1941, one prisoner escaped from the camp, prompting SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch, the deputy camp commander, to pick ten men to be starved to death in an underground bunker to deter further escape attempts. When one of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, “My wife! My children!”, Kolbe volunteered to take his place.[8]

    According to an eyewitness, who was an assistant janitor at that time, in his prison cell, Kolbe led the prisoners in prayer. Each time the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. After they had been starved and deprived of water for two weeks, only Kolbe remained alive. The guards wanted the bunker emptied, so they gave Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid. Kolbe is said to have raised his left arm and calmly waited for the deadly injection.[11] He died on August 14. His remains were cremated on 15 August, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary.

    Nazism seized power in Germany by pretending to be a vehicle of deliverance, but was manifestly tainted by evil nihilistic practices. Once it gained some power, through ruthless opportunism it exploited the Reichstag fire set by a deranged Dutch boy, to hold a show trial for the communist party and to trick the legislature into an enabling act for dictatorship for seven years. Then, it introduced ever growing demonic evils and oppressions, crushing those who dared stand on principle and conscience. This was the main cause of WW2, with perhaps 85 millions needlessly dead in Europe and Asia etc. It is not for nothing that Churchill said that there never was a more easily averted war.

    So, in our day, I point to the abortion holocaust and how it and things connected to it are corrupting our civilisation. And yes, I dare to echo the White Rose Martyrs and name such as demonic evil.

    When it comes to pretended rights, I simply say that to justly claim a right, one must be manifestly in the right. Something that must be soundly warranted, coming full circle to the duties that govern our intellectual faculties. Duties, which are inescapably moral, are instruments of moral government.

    And so, again, it comes back to the point Boethius made 1500 years ago while awaiting execution on an unjust charge: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?”

    KF

  420. 420
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, yes, and this is where it points — Plato, in The Laws, Bk X:

    Ath. . . . 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. 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.]

    KF

  421. 421
    Brother Brian says:

    [–> SNIP, further attempt to drag thread], OWNER]

    let’s move to a subject that you talk about at the drop of a hat. The holocaust of blood guilt of the posterity in the womb, or whatever you call it.

    I think we both agree that it is morally acceptable to use some level of violence to prevent the imminent violence against an innocent person. It is morally acceptable to hit someone who is trying to rape a girl. Or to forcibly hold back someone who is beating on a handicapped person.

    Given this, is it morally acceptable to break the hands of an abortion doctor to save dozens of innocent unborn lives? Is it morally acceptable to confine a woman who is trying to procure an abortion until she gives birth?

  422. 422
    Seversky says:

    Brother Brian @ 421

    Given this, is it morally acceptable to break the hands of an abortion doctor to save dozens of innocent unborn lives? Is it morally acceptable to confine a woman who is trying to procure an abortion until she gives birth?

    Exactly so, and lurid references to holocausts do not do justice to the moral dilemma which is why I mentioned Judith Jarvis Thomson’s paper A Defense of Abortion . In it, she gives the standard ‘right to life’ argument against abortion thus:

    I propose, then, that we grant that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception. How does the argument go from here? Something like this, I take it. Every person has a right to life. So the fetus has a right to life. No doubt the mother has a right to decide what shall happen in and to her body; everyone would grant that. But surely a person’s right to life is stronger and more stringent than the mother’s right to decide what happens in and to her body, and so outweighs it. So the fetus may not be killed; an abortion may not be performed.

    I should say that I tend to agree with that argument. I think the concept of personhood is too vague to be of use and is, in any event unnecessary. We only need to argue that the right to life should attach to any individual human being – the physical entity – at any detectable stage of development. However, she then proposes this hypothetical scenario:

    It sounds plausible. But now let me ask you to imagine this. You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, “Look, we’re sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you–we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist is now plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it’s only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.” Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation? No doubt it would be very nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? What if it were not nine months, but nine years? Or longer still? What if the director of the hospital says. “Tough luck. I agree. but now you’ve got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life. Because remember this. All persons have a right to life, and violinists are persons. Granted you have a right to decide what happens in and to your body, but a person’s right to life outweighs your right to decide what happens in and to your body. So you cannot ever be unplugged from him.” I imagine you would regard this as outrageous, which suggests that something really is wrong with that plausible-sounding argument I mentioned a moment ago.

    In other words, if you assume that the right to life is paramount, to what extent are you morally obliged to sacrifice your own interests or even life to preserve that of another?

  423. 423
    kairosfocus says:

    BB & Seversky,

    There has been yet another attempt to drag off topic, compounded by refusal to acknowledge existence of an answer to the general claim of how moral dilemmas allegedly undermine moral government; cf. 419 above. But in fact this argument refutes itself from the outset as those who pose it appeal to our recognition of the binding nature of duties to truth, right reason, prudence, sound conscience, fairness and justice etc. If these duties are disregarded, rationality and responsibility as well as community evaporate. The whole rhetorical exercise pivots on gliding by a key contradiction and so we properly hold that moral government and its world root reality requisites are real, undeniably real.

    Now, we see further posing of alleged cases pursuing the same end.

    The answer to oh is it acceptable to carry out violence against an abortionist — set in the context of dismissiveness to concerns over the ongoing slaughter of our innocent posterity in the womb at about a million further victims per week (and 800+ millions in 40+ years) — is that resort to lawless conduct of vigilantism is just as wrong as any other form of lawless behaviour. The solution is to peacefully present the truth and to restore the law to sanity. That is the real problem and as you full well know, vigilantism will also only further lock in the insanity that acts under false colour of law.

    A living human being is a natural person and the correct presumption is such that living human beings should be protected under law. The project of dehumanisation and un-person-ing under false colour of law speaks for itself given history.

    The made up scenario refutes itself on many grounds, starting with that the child in a woman’s womb (half the time not the same sex) is not artificially connected as a result of kidnapping but is naturally present as the result of human biology. We are undermining the natural bond between generations through our current insanity.

    As to the question of obligation to defend or protect another life — and notice how all the way such alleged dilemmas appeal to the principles they would overturn to have any persuasiveness — consider a very real case: when confronted by the rising threat of nazism, conscription was imposed under law in order to build up armed forces to fight and if needs be die.

    That should be answer enough in principle to show the fallacious nature of these appeals.

    We also can observe the studious continued absence of a response on merits to the main issues for the thread. That speaks, given allegations of no evidence and claims of default in favour of atheism.

    KF

    PS: I think there is a place to distinguish just from unjust use of force, and to confine the ambiguous word violence to the latter.

  424. 424
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: The case for God in a one-liner nutshell: Jesus of Nazareth and his resurrection (with over 500 witnesses and its impact).

    Perhaps, it is advisable to refresh our thoughts through Morison’s challenge:

    [N]ow the peculiar thing . . . is that not only did [belief in Jesus’ resurrection as in part testified to by the empty tomb] spread to every member of the Party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual centre of Judaea . . . and in the face of every impediment which a brilliant and highly organised camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish Church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less than fifty years it had began to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire . . . .

    Why did it win? . . . .

    We have to account not only for the enthusiasm of its friends, but for the paralysis of its enemies and for the ever growing stream of new converts . . . When we remember what certain highly placed personages would almost certainly have given to have strangled this movement at its birth but could not – how one desperate expedient after another was adopted to silence the apostles, until that veritable bow of Ulysses, the Great Persecution, was tried and broke in pieces in their hands [the chief persecutor became the leading C1 Missionary/Apostle!] – we begin to realise that behind all these subterfuges and makeshifts there must have been a silent, unanswerable fact. [Who Moved the Stone, (Faber, 1971; nb. orig. pub. 1930), pp. 114 – 115.]

    Let us now turn to the real issue, warrant for the core of the gospel. Once there is serious warrant, we need to ponder whether we are willing to live by the truth and right that we know or should know.

    To begin, let us ponder the minimal facts approach that looks at relevant consensus facts of scholarship regarding Jesus, as Habermas has studied and documented for a generation. Yes, I know it is in the linked but obviously unless it is put in thread, it seems it will not be faced.

    Summarising from Apologetics Wiki:

    The minimal facts method only uses sources which are multiply attested, and agreed to by a majority of scholars (ranging from atheist to conservative). This requires that they have one or more of the following criteria which are relevant to textual criticism:

    Multiple sources – If two or more sources attest to the same fact, it is more likely authentic
    Enemy attestation – If the writers enemies corroborate a given fact, it is more likely authentic
    Principle of embarrassment – If the text embarrasses the writer, it is more likely authentic
    Eyewitness testimony – First hand accounts are to be prefered
    Early testimony – an early account is more likely accurate than a later one

    Having first established the well attested facts, the approach then argues that the best explanation of these agreed to facts is the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . . . [Source: “Minimal facts” From Apologetics Wiki. Full article: here. (Courtesy, Wayback Machine.)]

    A list of these facts can be compiled, up to a dozen:

    1. Jesus died by crucifixion [–> which implies his historicity!].

    2. He was buried.

    3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.

    4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).

    5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).

    6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.

    7. The resurrection was the central message.

    8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.

    9. The Church was born and grew.

    10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.

    11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).

    12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).

    Why are such generally accepted? As I summarised:

    That a Messiah candidate was captured, tried and crucified — as Gamaliel hinted at — was effectively the death-knell for most such movements in Israel in the era of Roman control; to have to report such a fate was normally embarrassing and discrediting to the extreme in a shame-honour culture. The Jews of C1 Judaea wanted a victorious Greater David to defeat the Romans and usher in the day of ultimate triumph for Israel, not a crucified suffering servant. In the cases where a movement continued, the near relatives took up the mantle. That is facts 1 – 3 right there. Facts 10 – 12 are notorious. While some (it looks like about 25% of the survey of scholarship, from what I have seen) reject no 4, in fact it is hard to see a message about a resurrection in C1 that did not imply that the body was living again, as Wright discusses here. Facts 5 – 9 are again, pretty clearly grounded.

    So, the challenge is to explain this cluster or important subsets of it, without begging questions and without selective hyperskepticism.

    It is not hard to see why the old objections commonly seen since C17 – 18 have fallen by the wayside; they just cannot cover the facts. Today, there are two men left standing: the historic Christian view and some sort of mass hallucination theory.

    Of these, the latter is exceedingly problematic, as ” collective visions are not psychologically plausible as the cultural expectations of a resurrection would have been of a general one in the context of the obvious military triumph of Israel. Nor, does it explain the apparently missing body. Moreover, we know separately, that the culturally accepted alternative would have been individual prophetic visions of the exalted that on being shared would comfort the grieving that the departed rested with God.”

    This issue of the twelve minimal facts and the challenge of alternative explanations is the guilty secret at the heart of today’s hyperskepticism toward, dismissal of, apostasy from and hostility against the historic Christian faith.

    KF

  425. 425
    Brother Brian says:

    Sev

    In other words, if you assume that the right to life is paramount, to what extent are you morally obliged to sacrifice your own interests or even life to preserve that of another?

    I find it interesting that most of us find it morally acceptable to use an appropriate level of violence to protect a baby, a child or any innocent person. But the same people would not think it morally acceptable to use an appropriate level of violence to protect a fetus from an abortion doctor. Where is that objective moral governance when you need it?

  426. 426
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    The answer to oh is it acceptable to carry out violence against an abortionist — set in the context of dismissiveness to concerns over the ongoing slaughter of our innocent posterity in the womb at about a million further victims per week (and 800+ millions in 40+ years) — is that resort to lawless conduct of vigilantism is just as wrong as any other form of lawless behaviour.

    We both know that this is just an equivocation. You would use whatever violence was necessary to prevent someone from intentionally harming a baby, a child or an innocent adult. As would I and most other people. We would consider the violence to be morally justified as long as it wasn’t excessive. I find it strange that you would can justify a measured level of violence to protect a single individual, but would not use a similar level of violence to protect the lives of 800+ million innocent lives.

  427. 427
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    such alleged dilemmas appeal to the principles they would overturn to have any persuasiveness

    That is a cogent and decisive answer to the sort of moral outrage and various dilemmas that are put forward in place of a real discussion. There is always an appeal to principles.

  428. 428
    asauber says:

    Brother Brainless,

    You are living an a stupid woke fantasy land. Trying to get anywhere near an abortion doctor or patient when they are in the abortion mill to do their killing will get you violently subdued by security, likely arrested, and your life otherwise messed up. So your fruity little hypothetical comparison of apples and oranges is worthless like most of the rest of your comments.

    Andrew

  429. 429
    ET says:

    Seversky quotes: