Friday, September 7, 2007

How "The Transcendental Argument" Begs the Question

I posted a refutation of The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG) on a few internet forums, and have generally gotten positive feedback. However, some people seem to have trouble understanding precisely why I believe TAG begs the question. For that reason, I have decided to break things down systematically, in hopes that my analysis becomes clear and inescapable.

1. TAG intends to prove the existence of god. Because god’s existence is the argument’s conclusion, god’s existence may not be presupposed in the argument’s premises. If god is presupposed, the argument begs the question.

2. TAG, in short, says that rationality, logic, induction, communication and other such things are only possible if god exists. Because humans employ rationality, logic and all the rest, god exists. Indeed, says the presuppositionalist, in order to deny god, the atheist must utilize god’s gift of reasoning.

3. Indisputably, this argument depends upon god having a particular nature that suits it to be the “foundation” of rationality, reasoning and logic. The argument is not called The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of Rutabagas or The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of Sea Monkeys. TAG inescapably implies that god possesses a particular nature and set of characteristics, which suit the deity to be the “foundation.”

4. Therefore, because this argument depends upon god having a particular nature that suits it to be the “foundation,” anybody proposing the argument holds certain things about god’s nature to be true.

5. We must wonder: Where did these proponents get information about god’s nature? The answer, for Christians, is the Bible.

6. The Christian Bible offers descriptors for god and dispenses information about the deity’s nature. Through reading the Bible, Christians come to know that god is infinite, solely god, eternal as god and other such tidbits. In short, TAG’s presuppositions about god’s nature come from the Bible.

7. Anybody seriously proposing TAG obviously hopes to prove god exists. Therefore, such a proponent accepts the argument’s premises as true. [If a serious person rejected the premises, he would abandon the argument.] Because god’s nature has been shown to be part of the argument’s premises, one can conclude that proponents of the argument accept the truth of god’s nature.

8. However, to accept the truth of god’s nature is to imply the Bible is truthful. If god’s nature is revealed in the Bible, and god’s nature is accepted as true, the clear implication is that the Bible is truthful.

9. The Bible is rife with stories about god doing and saying things. The deity fills the pages of the Bible, acting as a very real and present character. Therefore, if the Bible is presumed truthful, the god contained therein is presumed truthful. That is to say, god is presumed to exist.

10. TAG begs the question because it presumes god existent (because it presumes the Bible truthful, which cannot be denied because it presumes god’s nature truthful, which cannot be disputed because god’s nature is central to the premises).

27 Comments:

Blogger Gavin said...

you may find this interesting:


'Virgin' Mary called a vigin due to translation error.
http://accurapid.com/journal/18review.htm

11:18 PM EDT  
Anonymous pgc1981 said...

Don't you ever get bored with the same thing over and over and over and over again Jolly? I've been away for awhile (since March) and you are still up to the same old things. Maybe you should move onto something new.

2:01 PM EDT  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Hello again, PGC

I must admit, I am nonplussed by your comment.

What do you mean by "up to the same old things"? By that, do you mean atheism?

For me, embracing atheism is a positive and stimulating exercise. It keeps my mind sharp.

Your comment is sort of like me saying to you, "You're back in church? Don't you ever get bored with doing the same old things?"

JN

7:36 PM EDT  
Anonymous caroline said...

Hey there,

This is Caroline from SocialRank.


I am trying to get in touch with you but couldn't find your email address.


We're launching a new Web 2.0 site dedicated to Atheism and we have started indexing your blog posts as part of our

content filter.

I'd like to send you an invite to a beta preview. Can you get back to me with your email address.

Mine is caroline@challengereligion.com

Kind regards,


Caroline

www.SocialRank.com

8:12 AM EDT  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Feel free to email me anytime at thejollynihilist@yahoo.com

JN

11:06 PM EDT  
Blogger pgc1981 said...

no i'm saying it's the same post all the time

11:11 PM EDT  
Blogger John Morales said...

pgc1981,

Does the fact this blog is titled My Case Against God perhaps hint as to the reason for the consistency of topic?

I submit the answer is yes, and that it is stupid to point this out as if it were novel.

7:41 AM EDT  
Anonymous Rohan said...

Jolly Nihilst,

I think the fallacy here is that you assume that I as a Christian assume the Bible to be true *before* engaging another in the TAG.

The reality is, however, I merely establish that the law-like nature of logic (due to their being conceptual, transcendent etc.) is the precondition of a supernatural intelligible force. This would be the only rational explanation for the existence of the laws of logic.

Afterwards, I can then pose the question, "are there any sacred texts with self-attesting authority that rationally account for the supernatural necessity of logic?"

The Bible happens to be one of them.

10:07 AM EST  
Anonymous Interested Passerby said...

My understanding of TAG, as a formal logical argument, can be summarized this way:

(1) In order for rationality, logic, reason, communication, comprehension, etc. to exist, god must exist to serve as 'grounds'.

(2) Rationality, logic, et al exist.

(C) Therefore, god exists.


I think The Jolly Nihilist was making the point that the first premise, when posited by Christians in an attempt to prove the biblical god, infuses the deity with biblical characteristics. Those characteristics are relevant because they, themselves, ostensibly suit god to be 'grounds' of logic, reason, comprehension and all the rest. Lacking the bible as a reference source, there is no way to infuse the deity with the specific characteristics deemed essential.

Put simply, it begs the question to treat the bible as a reference source for an argumentative premise when the argument in question is aimed at proving the god of the bible exists.

Moreover, there is no safeguard to prevent TAG from being used to prove 100,000 different deities, each of which just happens to have the key ingredients necessary to make it suitable 'grounds'. Make a list of the requisite characteristics to serve as logic’s grounds, then add variables that don’t affect the core components. You have a recipe for proving infinite deities.

If TAG is intended only to prove Yahweh, then it seems to me that every jot and tittle of that deity needs to be demonstrated essential to TAG’s soundness.

9:40 PM EST  
Anonymous Rohan said...

Hi passer-by,

If anyone was to use the TAG in that way, even I as a Christian would think it to be suspect.

The reality (as you rightly point out) is that the TAG is only useful insofar as it proves that some form of theistic supernatural force exists in the universe, and that atheistic explanations are automatically proven to be irrational. Given that, it's irrelevent if the God of the argument is undefined, because it still necessitates a God in some form, and the absurdity of the atheist's position.

After one choses to submit to the impeccable logic of the TAG itself, then we must pose the question "which God is the right one?", which requires further evidence and argument.
I would then suggest that only the Christian Bible makes rational sense of human experience, scholarly integrity and historical scrutiny.

Thank you for your reply.
Warm Regards,
Rohan

2:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Interested Passerby said...

Hello again, Rohan

Can you state your interpretation of TAG in the standard premise, premise, conclusion argument form? A longer version would be acceptable too, if more premises and conclusions are needed. I'd prefer reading it in your own words, rather than a cut and paste.

Also, it seems to me that logic, reason, etc. are not supernaturally infused into the universe but rather simply the tools of the human mind. Humans have big enough and complex enough brains to be able to employ logic, evidence-based analysis, etc. I remain unconvinced that 'grounds' are necessary to explain these tools.

Perhaps your statement of the argument can resolve these lingering questions.

Jim

9:24 AM EST  
Anonymous Interested Passerby said...

I wish to quickly addend my most recent comment, in order to more plainly state my views on logic and the nature of reality.

Logic does not exist in the universe. The universe has no property called "logic." Rather, logic is a tool of the mind. Much like how scientific theories are models of reality, but not the reality itself, logic helps us model the world, but is not actually a property of the world. If you contend a deity infused the world with logic, I disagree on logic's very existence.

5:45 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

Your claims about the transcendental argument dont prove anything other than you dont like them and you dont seem to give any better answers to how this world can be rational.

9:53 PM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Richard,

I have proved the Transcendental Argument (TAG) guilty of question beggary because its conclusion is implicit in its premises. TAG’s premises presuppose god’s biblical nature; they must make this presupposition in order for TAG to be meaningful (because god’s biblical nature is precisely what purportedly makes god the singular wellspring for rationality). Because TAG’s premises are reliant upon god’s biblical nature, those premises must presuppose god’s biblical nature truthful. That means anybody articulating the argument is presupposing the Bible truthful. Because god is an active character in the Bible (after all, the Bible is not a book of definitions, but rather a narrative), presupposing the Bible truthful implicitly presupposes god extant. Thus, TAG’s premises implicitly presuppose the conclusion toward which they build and, therefore, the argument is question beggary.

6:40 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

Hi Jolly

Are you in fact trying to say some thing? or are you just beging the question, I mean i could say the following about you reasoning upon your reasons.


“Any argument, which is intended to prove rationalism’ existence, but in the premises presupposes rationalism’s nature, begs the question.”

“Rationalism is intended to prove rationalism’ existence (by using it), but in the premise presupposes rationalism’s nature.”“Therefore rationalism begs the question.

The fact is we all do it, but which worldview makes sense of it. non-intelligence, biological random chemical reactions in the brain, chance, impersonal matter,? We could say on an atheists worldview that reasoning is just based on absurd random choices.

2:30 AM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

The problem is not so much that TAG presupposes god's biblical nature; the problem is that, in the act of presupposing god's biblical nature, one is also presupposing the veracity of the Bible. If one presupposes the veracity of the Bible, one implicitly presupposes the existence of the god contained therein. Again, the Bible is not a book of definitions; it presents a narrative in which its characters are very much extant. Presupposing the Bible's truth presupposes Yahweh's existence. TAG is shameless question beggary.

As to rationality and other "transcendent" phenomena springing from material roots, I will quote Richard Carrier, a noted metaphysical naturalist.

"[The presuppositionalist approach] is like trying to argue that bricks, being just bricks, can never create a house. Obviously, a house can be reduced to mere bricks, none of which has doors or windows or a living-space inside. Yet those bricks can be organized so as to produce such a thing—a thing that can exist in no other way except as such an assembly of simpler things that are not themselves a house. After all, must a wheel be composed of parts that are themselves 'in the last analysis' round? Obviously not. Yet the wheel can roll, even when its parts cannot. Causal properties thus arise from the organization of material, not just from the material itself. A gold ring will roll down an incline, but a gold block will not—despite these objects being made of nothing whatsoever but the very same gold. In the same way, a teleological system can arise from the organization of simpler nonteleological systems."

This is emergentism, and both consciousness and rational thought emerge from brain activity.

7:12 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

Thank you for your reply

You didnt answer my question very well. so I will define it again "what justifes your reasoning upon your reasons"? Why is this not question begging?

All thinking starts off with presuppositions...If reality as a whole has no interpretation, then all you are doing is labeling matter with your absurd opinions. Without God there are no facts to be found.

You presuppose there is no God, so all evdience you look at will be interpreted without God, so you would doubt the Bible. I presupose God does exist...

As for Richard Carrier I dont think his argument works. For a start he has to presupoose that there is such a thing as a "metaphysical naturalist". That again is his starting point, first principle. But many other people believe that metaphysics is something totally diiferent than matter and chemicals. His presupposition forces his interpretation.

For one, the bricks are being used to build an "idea" that being a house. So we start of with mind, then matter is shaped in to the plan, and then we have a house repersenting the idea. What we dont have is blind random bricks turning into a house.The irrational turning into the rational, or impersonal matter turning into a concept off a house.

This is the same with rationality, God is the source for our rational thinking.

Also please tell me, Is the brain activity process rational in itself. Would you say then that our thoughts are controled by random chemical reactions in the head, which i do not have control over. So does this eliminate free will ?

11:46 PM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

You didnt answer my question very well. so I will define it again "what justifes your reasoning upon your reasons"? Why is this not question begging?

Nobody has yet proved that things such as rationality and reasoning require a foundation of the type to which TAG appeals. You are asking for a foundation that might not be required. Can you prove the necessity of a supernatural foundation?



All thinking starts off with presuppositions...If reality as a whole has no interpretation, then all you are doing is labeling matter with your absurd opinions. Without God there are no facts to be found.

Some presuppositions, indeed, are necessary. I presuppose that a square cannot be triangular. I presuppose that, within the same time zone, it cannot simultaneously be noon and midnight. That is, I presuppose the impossibility of logical contradictions. More importantly, I presuppose that evidence is the best way for human primates to discover truth. This presupposition is axiomatic—a First Principle from which to argue. My devotion to evidence, in itself, does not determine the god issue; I do not simply presuppose a godless cosmos. My atheism—that is, my lack of theism—springs from theism’s poor evidence. You wish to make theism, itself, your First Principle. Such is not an axiom; it is question beggary. It is not a principle from which to argue; it is a default answer that makes argumentation moot.

By the way, if you say, “Without God, there are no facts to be found,” I might as well say, “Without the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish, there are no facts to be found.” Both are meaningless.



You presuppose there is no God, so all evdience you look at will be interpreted without God, so you would doubt the Bible. I presupose God does exist...

I do not presuppose atheism; my atheism flows from my presupposition that evidence is the best way for human primates to discover truth. Christianity has lousy evidence to support its claims. If Christianity had good evidence, I would be a Christian. The same goes for Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Scientology and all the rest of the 10,000 distinct extant religions. My atheism is rooted in my presupposition that evidence is paramount.



As for Richard Carrier I dont think his argument works. For a start he has to presupoose that there is such a thing as a "metaphysical naturalist". That again is his starting point, first principle.

Of course there is such a thing as a metaphysical naturalist. Metaphysical naturalists reject the supernatural and believe there are natural explanations for everything. Whether such people are right or are not, metaphysical naturalists exist.



But many other people believe that metaphysics is something totally diiferent than matter and chemicals. His presupposition forces his interpretation.

Not at all. He has examined the evidence and come to realize that consciousness and human rationality emerge from brain activity. That is, consciousness and rationality are emergent. They are emergent in exactly the same way a dwelling, such as a suburban house, emerges from bricks. Bricks, in themselves, do not possess the properties of a house. However, in a particular arrangement, a house emerges from those very same bricks. Matter does the same: Mere matter can be configured into a soda can, a wooden desk or a human brain, from which consciousness can emerge.



For one, the bricks are being used to build an "idea" that being a house. So we start of with mind, then matter is shaped in to the plan, and then we have a house repersenting the idea. What we dont have is blind random bricks turning into a house.The irrational turning into the rational, or impersonal matter turning into a concept off a house.

The point is not how the bricks get into the shape of a house; the point is that, when put into a particular configuration, brand new properties can emerge, despite the fact that the pieces themselves do not possess the emergent properties. Again, simple matter, in different configurations, can produce a can of orange soda or the human brain. The pieces of the puzzle are less important than the configuration thereof, because the configuration dictates what properties emerge.



This is the same with rationality, God is the source for our rational thinking.

Or maybe the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish is the source. All rational thought might flow from its Magical Supernatural Gills.



Also please tell me, Is the brain activity process rational in itself. Would you say then that our thoughts are controled by random chemical reactions in the head, which i do not have control over. So does this eliminate free will ?

Some brains are evolved enough to utilize rational thought. As such, rationality is a tool of the brain. The universe is not infused with rationality; the universe simply is as it is. Rationality helps us model the universe and reach tentative truths about it.

The workings of one’s brain are not random: they are shaped by genetics, environmental factors, one’s upbringing and other variables. There is nothing random about it. For example, people do not randomly speak foreign languages; they speak the languages they have learned. Of course, as with any part of the human body, things can break down in the brain. However, that is a far cry from saying the brain’s workings are random.

5:27 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

Nobody has yet proved that things such as rationality and reasoning require a foundation of the type to which TAG appeals. You are asking for a foundation that might not be required. Can you prove the necessity of a supernatural foundation?


You say nobody has proved that such things as rationality do not need a rational source. I say common sense tell us we do. But my point is you assumed you are right and I am wrong. Maybe both come down to a Faith.

Some presuppositions, indeed, are necessary. I presuppose that a square cannot be triangular. I presuppose that, within the same time zone, it cannot simultaneously be noon and midnight. That is, I presuppose the impossibility of logical contradictions. More importantly, I presuppose that evidence is the best way for human primates to discover truth. This presupposition is axiomatic—a First Principle from which to argue. My devotion to evidence, in itself, does not determine the god issue; I do not simply presuppose a godless cosmos. My atheism—that is, my lack of theism—springs from theism’s poor evidence. You wish to make theism, itself, your First Principle. Such is not an axiom; it is question beggary. It is not a principle from which to argue; it is a default answer that makes argumentation moot


Presuppositions are necessary, and you assume that a square cannot be triangaular, because you have already defined what a square is. A square is a conceptual idea in the mind imposed into matter. You assume that your experience of this idea is true.You also presuppose that logic corresponds to the world outside us. As you say latter, the universe is not fused with rationality. So why are you trying to say something rational about the irrational or non-rational as atheist's like it put. You presuppose that logic can bring you to truth, but what is truth for you? As we have already seen with your example of Red Dragons breathing fire, logic can be true without corresponding to reality. Reasoning upon your reasons of the way you interprete a non-rationl universe is a defult answer that makes your argumentation moot.

By the way, if you say, “Without God, there are no facts to be found,” I might as well say, “Without the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish, there are no facts to be found.” Both are meaningless


Makes no sense at all, when was a catfish ever rational? and why by changing somethings name do you think it also carrys the same nature with it?. As I said if reality as a whole has no rational interpreation to it, then it is meaningless and many atheist philosophers would agree. I can give examples if you want?

Of course there is such a thing as a metaphysical naturalist. Metaphysical naturalists reject the supernatural and believe there are natural explanations for everything. Whether such people are right or are not, metaphysical naturalists exist.


You didnt read my answer very carefully, I did not say there are no metaphysical naturalists. I said that he presupposes that there is such a "reality" as metaphysical naturalism. One says, people believe reality is like that, the other is " Reality is like that". He assumes because of his worldview and dogamatic first principle that all that exists is matter, so it must be explained by nutural explanations. Have you searched the whole universe to make that bold statement? My point is are they right and how do they prove there point without forcing there presuppositions.

Not at all. He has examined the evidence and come to realize that consciousness and human rationality emerge from brain activity. That is, consciousness and rationality are emergent. They are emergent in exactly the same way a dwelling, such as a suburban house, emerges from bricks. Bricks, in themselves, do not possess the properties of a house. However, in a particular arrangement, a house emerges from those very same bricks. Matter does the same: Mere matter can be configured into a soda can, a wooden desk or a human brain, from which consciousness can emerge.


He has not examined the evidence to come to a 100% conclusion. He has looked at it from an emperical standing point, but that does not prove rationality or consciousness comes from brain activity. I do agree that there is a relationship, but that does not mean that they are the same thing.

The point is not how the bricks get into the shape of a house; the point is that, when put into a particular configuration, brand new properties can emerge, despite the fact that the pieces themselves do not possess the emergent properties. Again, simple matter, in different configurations, can produce a can of orange soda or the human brain. The pieces of the puzzle are less important than the configuration thereof, because the configuration dictates what properties emerge.


You seem to be trying to step the question, yes it does matter how bricks shape into a house? explain from an atheists worldview how bricks randomly would fall together to make a house? I dont disagree that brand new properties can emerge, even when the pieces themselves do not possess the emergent properties, My answer is that a mind behind the building is the source that puts the bricks together to make a house. Same example with the universe. a mind (God) imposes his ideas in to matter, and infuses a rational soul to work through the brain. To say that the pieces of the puzzle are less important, is a cop out, even if I am wrong.

Some brains are evolved enough to utilize rational thought. As such, rationality is a tool of the brain. The universe is not infused with rationality; the universe simply is as it is. Rationality helps us model the universe and reach tentative truths about it.


Yes rationality is a tool of the brain. Please tell me how the mind can tell us anything true or rational about an irrationl universe? all you are presupposing is that your logic and reasoning correspond to reality. When in fact from your irrrational worldview you are just justfiyng your absurd abstract choices and thoughts, which were produce by impersonal chemicals in your brain.

The Christian Faith is the impossiblity of the Contrary, reject it and you become irrational, having meaningless thoughts stuck in the void of an irrational universe. That is why I believe in the Transcendental Argument.If reality as a whole has no interpreation, then we are lost to our own random meaningless thoughts.

12:56 AM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

You say nobody has proved that such things as rationality need a rational source. I say common sense tell us we do. But my point is you assumed you are right and I am wrong. Maybe both come down to a Faith.

You are refusing to accept the burden of proof on a positive claim that you have posited. You are making the positive claim that rationality absolutely requires some kind of rational supernatural foundation. I do not accept this positive claim, because you have done nothing to prove it. Moreover, with the brick and house example, I have shown that new properties can emerge when mere matter is put in a new configuration. This is analogous to rationality emerging from the brain’s configuration.



Presuppositions are necessary, and you assume that a square cannot be triangaular, because you have already defined what a square is. A square is a conceptual idea in the mind imposed into matter. You assume that your experience of this idea is true. You also presuppose that logic corresponds to the world outside us. As you say latter, the universe is not fused with rationality. So why are you trying to say something rational about the irrational or non-rational as atheist's like it put. You presuppose that logic can bring you to truth, but what is truth for you? As we have already seen with your example of Red Dragons breathing fire, logic can be true without corresponding to reality. Reasoning upon your reasons of the way you interprete a non-rationl universe is a defult answer that makes your argumentation moot.

I think you have skewed notions of rationality and reasoning. Of course the universe is not infused with rationality or infused with reason; the universe simply is as it is. Rationality and reasoning are tools of the brain. The human mind is capable of modeling the universe in which humans live, and rationality and reasoning are tools that help in the modeling process. There is nothing incoherent about using the tool of rationality to model a universe that simply is as it is. After all, whether infused with rationality or not, there are facts about the cosmos (i.e., numbers of planets per solar system, number of solar systems per galaxy, distance from star to star, etc.). Reasoning can help us approximate those facts.



Makes no sense at all, when was a catfish ever rational? and why by changing somethings name do you think it also carrys the same nature with it?. As I said if reality as a whole has no rational interpreation to it, then it is meaningless and many atheist philosophers would agree. I can give examples if you want?

Consider all the attributes that, in your opinion, make god a necessary creature. Maybe the list includes god’s alleged omniscience. Maybe the list includes god’s alleged omnipotence. Maybe the list includes god’s alleged reticence to make humans suffer. I am sure you have a litany of characteristics that, in your mind, make your god character necessary. Now, I can posit the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish and infuse my deity with every single characteristic that you claim makes Yahweh necessary. Then, with every necessary characteristic infused, I can add distinguishing characteristics (like Magical Supernatural Gills) that make ECC different from Yahweh. By doing this, I have presented a case that is equally compelling as yours: not compelling.

There are rational interpretations of reality to be found, by the way. As I have repeatedly said, the universe is the way that it is—and that way is very specific. Even though the universe is not infused with rationality, there are still facts to be found in relation to the cosmos. The human mind, from which reasoning emerges, can approximate those facts and use them to model our universe.



You didnt read my answer very carefully, I did not say there are no metaphysical naturalists. I said that he presupposes that there is such a "reality" as metaphysical naturalism. One says, people believe reality is like that, the other is " Reality is like that". He assumes because of his worldview and dogamatic first principle that all that exists is matter, so it must be explained by nutural explanations. Have you searched the whole universe to make that bold statement? My point is are they right and how do they prove there point without forcing there presuppositions.

Actually, I responded to your words, which were, “For a start he has to presuppose that there is such a thing as a "metaphysical naturalist.” Maybe you did not mean what you actually wrote, but I cannot try to imagine what you might be intending to say.

Now, I will admit that, even though I am a metaphysical naturalist, I cannot prove metaphysical naturalism true. Neither can you prove the Christian superstition true, nor can Muslims prove their superstition, nor can Hindus prove their own. However, again, I am not working from a materialist or atheistic First Principle. I am working from a First Principle that makes evidence paramount in reaching the truth. At present, there is no good evidence for supernatural workings in the world; if and when you provide good evidence, I will reconsider. After all, there are numerous evidences that would shake my atheism.



He has not examined the evidence to come to a 100% conclusion. He has looked at it from an emperical standing point, but that does not prove rationality or consciousness comes from brain activity. I do agree that there is a relationship, but that does not mean that they are the same thing.

Where is your evidence that rationality and consciousness come from something other than brain activity? Where is your evidence that the aforementioned are supernaturally imposed on the material? I have explained this as best I can, so perhaps I need to examine your alleged evidences and show where they are faulty.



You seem to be trying to step the question, yes it does matter how bricks shape into a house? explain from an atheists worldview how bricks randomly would fall together to make a house? I dont disagree that brand new properties can emerge, even when the pieces themselves do not possess the emergent properties, My answer is that a mind behind the building is the source that puts the bricks together to make a house. Same example with the universe. a mind (God) imposes his ideas in to matter, and infuses a rational soul to work through the brain. To say that the pieces of the puzzle are less important, is a cop out, even if I am wrong.

I said that the pieces of the puzzle are less important because anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of biology knows how “the pieces” of the brain come together. The assemblage of the human body is encoded into our genes and DNA. When an egg is fertilized, all the assembly information is there to build a new human, who reflects the genes of both parents. The “recipe” to make a human brain is such that, when fully assembled, that brain can utilize the tools of rationality and reasoning. Human brains can use these tools because that is how human brains are assembled.



Yes rationality is a tool of the brain. Please tell me how the mind can tell us anything true or rational about an irrationl universe? all you are presupposing is that your logic and reasoning correspond to reality. When in fact from your irrrational worldview you are just justfiyng your absurd abstract choices and thoughts, which were produce by impersonal chemicals in your brain.

We need to get away from this “impersonal chemicals in your brain” nonsense because we have already discussed emergentism thoroughly. It does not matter that individual brain pieces and processes are irrational; what matters is that, given the assemblage of the human brain, rationality emerges from such pieces and processes. The other key point is that rationality can be used to model and discover truths about things that, themselves, are not infused with rationality. The universe has facts and figures associated with it, because the universe is how it is. Rationality can help discern those facts.



The Christian Faith is the impossiblity of the Contrary, reject it and you become irrational, having meaningless thoughts stuck in the void of an irrational universe. That is why I believe in the Transcendental Argument. If reality as a whole has no interpreation, then we are lost to our own random meaningless thoughts.

Then I guess, just to be on the safe side, you also have to believe in the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish. All I need to do is infuse my deity with every characteristic you believe makes Yahweh a necessary creature. Then, when I have infused ECC with every required characteristic, I can add additional characteristics, such as Magical Supernatural Gills. As such, my deity will be decidedly different from your own, and both could be used to solve the "problem" that TAG confects.

2:53 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

You are refusing to accept the burden of proof on a positive claim that you have posited. You are making the positive claim that rationality absolutely requires some kind of rational supernatural foundation. I do not accept this positive claim, because you have done nothing to prove it. Moreover, with the brick and house example, I have shown that new properties can emerge when mere matter is put in a new configuration. This is analogous to rationality emerging from the brain’s configuration.

Well the burden of proof is on both sides, not just mine. You havent shown or proved that rationality emerges from brain configuration. You have just seen a relationship and then assumed that one produces the other. Science (not all) is based on what works and there can be different theories. Just because your theory works does not mean it is true. Its an interpretation of assuming the effect comes from the cause, but you cant see that, only that there is some relationship.It has not be proven by anyone. As for rationality needing a rational source, which would you take, when your sick you go to a doctor and he gives you the right medicine after rational thought or you go and throw a ball at the medicine shelves with your eyes closed and what ever fallls of you will take? I mean the irrational can give you a rational medical source? I dont think so..

Objective data is also seen from within an established paradigm of expectations and assumptions, which determines what data is collected, how they are collected, and the use to which it is applied. As a result all data is theory laden. Its your interpretation.

I think you have skewed notions of rationality and reasoning. Of course the universe is not infused with rationality or infused with reason; the universe simply is as it is. Rationality and reasoning are tools of the brain. The human mind is capable of modeling the universe in which humans live, and rationality and reasoning are tools that help in the modeling process. There is nothing incoherent about using the tool of rationality to model a universe that simply is as it is. After all, whether infused with rationality or not, there are facts about the cosmos (i.e., numbers of planets per solar system, number of solar systems per galaxy, distance from star to star, etc.). Reasoning can help us approximate those facts.

Yes the universe is simply what "is' non-rational. Can you tell me how you model something that is non-rational with conceptual forms?Are you telling me there are mute facts in the universe. Facts that just stand out there with no interpreatioan to themselves, in isollation with no rartional context? Please tell me what is a Fact?
A fact is not what I say it is or my interpretation.True objective facts are revelation, there is a rational order, a unity of truths between the facts before we come to them. If you reject that reality as a whole has no interpreation before we come to it, then all you are doing is impossing the world of your mind upon it. For you nature is ordered by our priori ideas or categories inherent in the mind, not in nature. Can you explain why our ideas should correspond to the non-rational.

Could you read a non-rational book? and give true facts about it? if not try interpreting a non-rational universe. The truth is we do find facts and we do find evidence but your worldview does not give us a reason how!

Consider all the attributes that, in your opinion, make god a necessary creature. Maybe the list includes god’s alleged omniscience. Maybe the list includes god’s alleged omnipotence. Maybe the list includes god’s alleged reticence to make humans suffer. I am sure you have a litany of characteristics that, in your mind, make your god character necessary. Now, I can posit the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish and infuse my deity with every single characteristic that you claim makes Yahweh necessary. Then, with every necessary characteristic infused, I can add distinguishing characteristics (like Magical Supernatural Gills) that make ECC different from Yahweh. By doing this, I have presented a case that is equally compelling as yours: not compelling.

The problem here is you are just copying the attributes of my God, but in my worldview I take these attributes to be given to me by divine revelation, the Bible. A source from outside this world. Of course you wont believe this and you dont have to, its not your worldview. But working in your worldview you have just reasoned that your catfish must have the same attributes. Does not prove anthing...

There are rational interpretations of reality to be found, by the way. As I have repeatedly said, the universe is the way that it is—and that way is very specific. Even though the universe is not infused with rationality, there are still facts to be found in relation to the cosmos. The human mind, from which reasoning emerges, can approximate those facts and use them to model our universe.

Good to see you put , there are rational interpretationsssssssssss. Yes there are many and just saying the universe is the way it is, just is, doesnt tell us anything about it. Again we come down to what a fact is? If I found a fact in the universe I would want to know what its relationship was to another fact and then to all the facts. Well I would if i wanted the claim it to be a true fact. That implies that there is a fixed eternal interpreation to reality, that facts are all part of a unit of truth with a context guided under a rational mind (God) for man to re-interprete. But for you "facts just are there floating in the void...Evidence is based on facts, but you are interpreting what the fact must be for the first time as it has no interpretation for itself. You just look at an object, and label it with a theory. Postmodernist come accross as mad, but in your worldview they are right.

I said that the pieces of the puzzle are less important because anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of biology knows how “the pieces” of the brain come together. The assemblage of the human body is encoded into our genes and DNA. When an egg is fertilized, all the assembly information is there to build a new human, who reflects the genes of both parents. The “recipe” to make a human brain is such that, when fully assembled, that brain can utilize the tools of rationality and reasoning. Human brains can use these tools because that is how human brains are assembled

Yes encoded with DNA, and DNA is information and information is not physical. The ink on the pages of my books, are not the same thing has the context repersented by the ink. So no it does not prove that it was by a non-rational source.

We need to get away from this “impersonal chemicals in your brain” nonsense because we have already discussed emergentism thoroughly. It does not matter that individual brain pieces and processes are irrational; what matters is that, given the assemblage of the human brain, rationality emerges from such pieces and processes. The other key point is that rationality can be used to model and discover truths about things that, themselves, are not infused with rationality. The universe has facts and figures associated with it, because the universe is how it is. Rationality can help discern those facts.

So are you saying if you re-arrange an irrational book, with all it pages enough (the pieces), the book will become rational? You seem to think that minds have facts in them and data and figures and then also the universe has them as well... I thought facts were an interpretation of a mind? a context of knowledge?

4:38 PM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Well the burden of proof is on both sides, not just mine. You havent shown or proved that rationality emerges from brain configuration. You have just seen a relationship and then assumed that one produces the other. Science (not all) is based on what works and there can be different theories. Just because your theory works does not mean it is true. Its an interpretation of assuming the effect comes from the cause, but you cant see that, only that there is some relationship. It has not be proven by anyone.

Looking at the evidence with an open mind, there is every reason to think rationality and consciousness spring from brain function, much as one’s personality, character and memory are bound up with brain function. Look at Phineas Gage, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and ended up with a dramatically altered personality. Consider degenerative illnesses that ravage the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease. In these cases, we see that injuries to, or degeneration of, the brain result in the slow erasure of the “self”: memory, character, personality, reasoning ability, etc. Show me a shred of evidence that rationality and consciousness are supernaturally imposed. And then explain how brain afflictions can so thoroughly mask a fully functional soul.



As for rationality needing a rational source, which would you take, when your sick you go to a doctor and he gives you the right medicine after rational thought or you go and throw a ball at the medicine shelves with your eyes closed and what ever fallls of you will take? I mean the irrational can give you a rational medical source? I dont think so..

Nobody is saying we should rely on irrationality. I have explained, ad nauseum, that humans employ rational thinking in order to solve problems and discern facts. It just so happens that this rationality is emergent, rather than supernaturally endowed.



Objective data is also seen from within an established paradigm of expectations and assumptions, which determines what data is collected, how they are collected, and the use to which it is applied. As a result all data is theory laden. Its your interpretation.

As I have said, there are plenty of potential evidences that would make me susceptible to Christian conversion. Yahweh, in an instant, might carve his name onto the moon. There might be a double-blind experiment in which prayer was proved to decrease complications after heart surgery. Priests might be able to resurrect rotting corpses, simply by invoking Jesus’ name. There are plenty of potential evidences out there; none has been presented in anything approaching a convincing manner.



Yes the universe is simply what "is' non-rational. Can you tell me how you model something that is non-rational with conceptual forms? Are you telling me there are mute facts in the universe. Facts that just stand out there with no interpreatioan to themselves, in isollation with no rartional context? Please tell me what is a Fact?

The cosmos is brimming with facts. Here are some:

1. The universe is about 13.7 billion years old.
2. Earth is approximately 4.54 billion years old.
3. Earth is the third planet from the Sun.
4. The mass of Mars is roughly 6.4191×10^23 kilograms

I could continue endlessly. The universe had to develop in some way, and this is the way it developed. Trying to apply “rationality” to it, frankly, betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of rationality as a concept. Rationality is a tool of the mind. It is almost like you are asking, “Why does the universe not have a memory?” or “Why does the universe not speak Aramaic?” It is unwise to attempt to divorce rationality from a mind able to use it.



A fact is not what I say it is or my interpretation. True objective facts are revelation, there is a rational order, a unity of truths between the facts before we come to them. If you reject that reality as a whole has no interpreation before we come to it, then all you are doing is impossing the world of your mind upon it. For you nature is ordered by our priori ideas or categories inherent in the mind, not in nature. Can you explain why our ideas should correspond to the non-rational.

Again, you absolutely must stop misappropriating the term “rational” to a universe or any other non-mind entity. Rationality is a tool of the mind; you absolutely must accept this and cease your constant misappropriation. Again, many of your comments are akin to asking why the universe lacks a personality. Personality and rationality are functions of mind.

Now, the universe, as I repeatedly have said, is how it is. The mass of Mars is as it is whether humans have a formalized measuring system or not. The age of the universe is as it is whether humans have invented the notion of a “year” or not. Inescapably, there are absolute facts about the universe simply because the universe developed as it did. Tools of the human mind help us model the universe and discern those facts. It is remarkably simple.



Could you read a non-rational book? and give true facts about it? if not try interpreting a non-rational universe. The truth is we do find facts and we do find evidence but your worldview does not give us a reason how!

Yes, one could read a fundamentally irrational book; a good example is the Bible. I could provide facts about a copy of the Bible I might possess, such as the language in which it is published; the weight of the tome; the number of pages; the frequency with which words appear; the color of the text; the condition of the binding; and many others.

And, yes, there are facts to be found about the universe. For the eightieth time, the universe developed in a particular way and, therefore, the universe is how it is. Because the universe exists in a specific way, there are myriad facts to be found. Emergent tools of the human mind, such as rationality and reasoning, enable us to model the universe and approximate truth. There is no clearer way of stating this.



The problem here is you are just copying the attributes of my God, but in my worldview I take these attributes to be given to me by divine revelation, the Bible. A source from outside this world. Of course you wont believe this and you dont have to, its not your worldview. But working in your worldview you have just reasoned that your catfish must have the same attributes. Does not prove anthing...

The point is, there are many, many, many religions other than Christianity, nearly each of which has its own divine texts that allegedly come from the supernatural realm. The Bible is just one of the “god-written” texts that litter bookshelves the world over. If there were a genuine believer in the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish, who came to that deity through divine revelation, and who then wrote a book that purported to be ECC’s immutable words, that believer would be in the same position as you. You both would have a “perfect” book written by god—just different ones. Now, you have not spelled out which characteristics, in particular, are necessary for Yahweh to function as the “grounding for rationality.” However, I assume it is not every jot and tittle of the deity, but rather specific things. Therefore, ECC could just steal those necessary characteristics and complement them with other characteristics to differentiate it from Yahweh. In that sense, they would not be the same deity at all, but rather similar ones with crucial differences.



Good to see you put , there are rational interpretationsssssssssss. Yes there are many and just saying the universe is the way it is, just is, doesnt tell us anything about it. Again we come down to what a fact is? If I found a fact in the universe I would want to know what its relationship was to another fact and then to all the facts. Well I would if i wanted the claim it to be a true fact. That implies that there is a fixed eternal interpreation to reality, that facts are all part of a unit of truth with a context guided under a rational mind (God) for man to re-interprete. But for you "facts just are there floating in the void...Evidence is based on facts, but you are interpreting what the fact must be for the first time as it has no interpretation for itself. You just look at an object, and label it with a theory. Postmodernist come accross as mad, but in your worldview they are right.

We are treading over the same ground over and over and over again, getting nowhere closer to agreement and, in my view, no closer to you understanding what I am trying to present. Take the mass of Mars as an example. The mass of that planet is what it is; its mass is not reliant upon humans being able to model it. Earth being the third planet from the Sun is an absolute fact, whether humans exist to discover it or not. Facts can be given about the universe due to the universe existing in a specific way. Rationality and reasoning are just tools of the human mind, which help to model the universe and discern these facts.



Yes encoded with DNA, and DNA is information and information is not physical. The ink on the pages of my books, are not the same thing has the context repersented by the ink. So no it does not prove that it was by a non-rational source.

How much college education have you had in genetics? Do you truly understand how DNA and genes produce new humans? I cannot tell.



So are you saying if you re-arrange an irrational book, with all it pages enough (the pieces), the book will become rational? You seem to think that minds have facts in them and data and figures and then also the universe has them as well... I thought facts were an interpretation of a mind? a context of knowledge?

Whether I reply to you the next time depends entirely on whether you show signs of understanding what I have been repeating endlessly.

We have been through emergentism enough already. The brick and house example should be enough to illustrate the principle. For real-world illustration, look at the human brain, from which rationality and reasoning emerge.

There exist facts about the universe due to the universe’s regularity (i.e., the universe existing in a particular way). Whenever an entity exists in a particular way, particular facts can be given about said entity. I have provided examples of facts connected to the universe, such as its age, Earth’s age, Mars’ mass and others. These facts are independent of humans being able to model them (after all, if humans went extinct tomorrow, the Mars’ mass would still be the same).

Humans model the universe and approximate these facts by using rationality and reasoning, which are tools of our minds. We impose our models onto the universe—never fully comprehending it as it independently exists. However, our faculties are good enough, and the universe regular enough, that truth approximations can be had.

8:19 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

As normal we can see that an Atheist just never gets it and assumes by reductionalism that the world just "is". Lets not look for a rational cause for rationality, lets just say rationality exists because it exists. Waw that tells us a lot...

Looking at the evidence with an open mind, there is every reason to think rationality and consciousness spring from brain function, much as one’s personality, character and memory are bound up with brain function. Look at Phineas Gage, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and ended up with a dramatically altered personality. Consider degenerative illnesses that ravage the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease. In these cases, we see that injuries to, or degeneration of, the brain result in the slow erasure of the “self”: memory, character, personality, reasoning ability, etc. Show me a shred of evidence that rationality and consciousness are supernaturally imposed. And then explain how brain afflictions can so thoroughly mask a fully functional soul.

looking at evidence with an open mind, oh mine was closed and yours was open, oh Im sorry. All you have proved again is that there is a relatipnship between them. If the brain is injured then the other can not function through it as it should, because the two are related. But this does not prove that rationality is the brain only.

Nobody is saying we should rely on irrationality. I have explained, ad nauseum, that humans employ rational thinking in order to solve problems and discern facts. It just so happens that this rationality is emergent, rather than supernaturally endowed.

The fact is you are, you believe by random evolution that the mind has been produce by non-rational reactions. If this is the case then what is in our heads, which is thoughts that are based on random chance. For it is not there because of any rational reason's is it ?. The problem is you just want to think that the non-rational produces a mind that can think rationaly and from then on all thinking is rational. But that is a huge leap...rationality being emergent is your naturalistic presupposition which makes everything "HAVE" to be interpreted and explained in this dogma. You just dont want to acceapt that in your radom worldview all thinking is deterrmined by what "is' and what 'is" is not rational or ordered logicaly as there is no plan or order to it. why should our thought s correspond to reality?

The cosmos is brimming with facts. Here are some:

1. The universe is about 13.7 billion years old.
2. Earth is approximately 4.54 billion years old.
3. Earth is the third planet from the Sun.
4. The mass of Mars is roughly 6.4191×10^23 kilograms

Oh these are pure objective facts are they, so you were there at the beginning, you saw how the earth has aged over time and stayed the same ever since, aging at the same rate over millions of years. No you stand in the present and find a formula or theory of age and set it on the present world to give us the age of the universe. I mean who says mathamatics correspond to the outside world? I thought you said it was unwise to want rationality without a mind, but we have numbers and mathamatics floating in the world. Again you have just labeled matter with your abstract formulas.

I could continue endlessly. The universe had to develop in some way, and this is the way it developed. Trying to apply “rationality” to it, frankly, betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of rationality as a concept. Rationality is a tool of the mind. It is almost like you are asking, “Why does the universe not have a memory?” or “Why does the universe not speak Aramaic?” It is unwise to attempt to divorce rationality from a mind able to use it.

I agree rationality is a tool of the mind and it can tells us things, and only of our experiences of our thoughts. You have the problem in trying to rationalized the irrational. I dont believe that the world outside our mind is rational in itself. but i do believe that a rational mind is behind it and its it laws. And that reality as a whole has a full interpreation.

Now, the universe, as I repeatedly have said, is how it is. The mass of Mars is as it is whether humans have a formalized measuring system or not. The age of the universe is as it is whether humans have invented the notion of a “year” or not. Inescapably, there are absolute facts about the universe simply because the universe developed as it did. Tools of the human mind help us model the universe and discern those facts. It is remarkably simple.

Yes the universe is just how it "is", but it doesnt have to be what your formula says it is. Apperence and reality can be different things. I mean if one person calls an object we have never seen before a "Zar" and another person calls it a "Mar" it does not have to be any one of them. It is what it "is" and does not have to be what the formula is saying it is. I believe God has interpreted all things and things are what they are, before we come along with our opinions or formulas to try and repersent them. As for absolute objective facts from humans with limited knowledge and experience, this is nonsense in a non-rational world.

The Greeks looked at the world and tried to interpret change, Plato thought that the universal abstract truths were part of the eternal forms, Aristolole thought you could just pull the abstractions out of the objects to the mind, and you believe that the non-rational reactions of evolution produced universal forms and truths, which must some how correspond to reality. But why? just saying they do because that is the way it "is" is not an answer. Its easy to prove anything by saying the reason for all things, is just becaue it "is'. For you nature just is that way!

I believe that man re-interpretes God's eternal interpretaion on a finite level. Because God has interpreted all reality, our thoughts correspond to what "is" and is knowledge and is not based on just our abstract opinions about raw matter in motion. Knowledge is of knowledge!

Yes, one could read a fundamentally irrational book; a good example is the Bible. I could provide facts about a copy of the Bible I might possess, such as the language in which it is published; the weight of the tome; the number of pages; the frequency with which words appear; the color of the text; the condition of the binding; and many others

You missed the point, I said a non-rational book, in the sense that you cant make sense of anything on the page?

Whether I reply to you the next time depends entirely on whether you show signs of understanding what I have been repeating endlessly.
We have been through emergentism enough already. The brick and house example should be enough to illustrate the principle. For real-world illustration, look at the human brain, from which rationality and reasoning emerge.

You think just because you can state the same argument everytime, that i believe it is true, I dont...You assumed it is that why for no rational reason. Its nice to say "it just is".

Humans model the universe and approximate these facts by using rationality and reasoning, which are tools of our minds. We impose our models onto the universe—never fully comprehending it as it independently exists. However, our faculties are good enough, and the universe regular enough, that truth approximations can be had.

Yes it works, but not from your worldview, you have no reasons for anything as reasoning is produce from non-reason. To make it clear I have never held that the universe has its own mind or is rational in itself.

11:51 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

Any Evidence?
The Jolly Nihilist insists that there is no evidence at all for the existence of a human soul. This is a strong claim and very dogmatic to say the least. A few years a go I was listening to tape by Dr. Gary Habermas. This Scholar and researcher has interviewed over a 1000 Near Death experiences. He tells of this one time when a lady had just arrived in America from over seas for a holiday. She had never been to America before this time. But as she was leaving the airport she had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. Once at the hospital her heart stoped and she was declared clinically brain dead. So the Doctors tried to start her heart up again, and after a few times her heart started to beat and she came back to life. As she woke up she said that she had left her body and floated to the roof of the hospital and as she looked down she saw a blue shoe with a hole in it on the roof. When the Doctor heard this he thought he would just check it out and to his suprize there was a blue shoe on the roof of the hospital with a hole in it as she described.
Now what does this prove, it proves that our mind is more than our brain and also we don’t need our eyes balls to see everything once we leave our body.
But what is the metaphysical naturalist going to say about this evidence,
1. Because of my worldview these kinds of things just do not happen
2. The lady must have been reacting to some drugs
3. Near death experiences can all be explained by reactions in the brain
4. Both the lady and the Doctor were mad and lying
5. The Doctor went and found a blue shoe some where in the hospital

Why is it that this kind of evidence is not accepted? The reason why is that it goes against the dogmatic philosophy of the naturalist. That all that exists is the physical world of matter and that everything can be explained by material causes. This is making a philosophical standard that set’s the criteria for what evidence can be. If they were more opened minded they would let the objective evidence would speak for itself.
As for the rational mind having to be the brain, Richard Carrier does an ok job of linking the mind or soul with the brain as inseparable in his book, but does not mention that the mind has its control over the brain too. He argues that the mind works by chemical reactions in the brain with other stuff too. But in cases of depression, even with medication, the mind seems to override the chemical reactions and so someone can be under medication but still have a depressed mindset. I would agree that the mind and brain work together most of the time, but also the mind seems to be immune to chemical reactions in the brain. You can look at a Scientific American article on the mind-brain relationship through depression.
If what Carrier says is true, then the depression that is caused by the mind would be eliminated in nearly all cases since if you prevent some reactions from occurring in your brain, that cause a depression sensation, then you would not be depressed or have sad thoughts since those thoughts would be chemically repressed. This does not occur as much as we want. So the mind does look like it is somehow separate from the brain and yet linked as well . This also explains what Carrier agues in p. 328-329 of people in coma are dormant persons not annihilated persons. Also as of yet neuroscientists have not been able to find the part or parts of the brain that constitute our Will to do anything. I have not heard of any findings yet thus I must deny a whole mind-brain link as not true unless evidence proves otherwise

8:52 PM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Any Evidence?
The Jolly Nihilist insists that there is no evidence at all for the existence of a human soul. This is a strong claim and very dogmatic to say the least.


I recall no instance in which I claimed there is “no evidence at all” for a supernatural soul haunting our fleshy carcasses. Rather, I have repeatedly said there is neither good evidence nor convincing evidence for a soul or other supernatural imaginings. This is an important distinction.



A few years a go I was listening to tape by Dr. Gary Habermas. This Scholar and researcher has interviewed over a 1000 Near Death experiences. He tells of this one time when a lady had just arrived in America from over seas for a holiday. She had never been to America before this time. But as she was leaving the airport she had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. Once at the hospital her heart stoped and she was declared clinically brain dead. So the Doctors tried to start her heart up again, and after a few times her heart started to beat and she came back to life. As she woke up she said that she had left her body and floated to the roof of the hospital and as she looked down she saw a blue shoe with a hole in it on the roof. When the Doctor heard this he thought he would just check it out and to his suprize there was a blue shoe on the roof of the hospital with a hole in it as she described.

I chose to respond to you this time because, in a novel twist, you have attempted to present actual evidence to bolster your claims. Whenever you present fresh evidence, I will be more inclined to engage you. However, I must say that this evidence is extremely weak. First of all, the story, as you have articulated it, is impossible. The woman could not have been declared brain dead and then come back to life because brain death is irreversible. If you are suspicious of this medical fact, click this link: http://www.aacn.org/aacn/jrnlccn.nsf/0/5ebf8de743ead0fa8825674e005a8950?OpenDocument

Quoting from the link, I submit the following: “First and foremost, brain death is irreversible. Patients who are brain dead have permanently lost the capacity to think, be aware of self or surroundings, experience, or communicate with others.”

Now, setting aside the impossibility of the story as you have presented it, there are still insurmountable problems. You do not give the woman’s name. You do not give the doctor’s name. You do not give the name of the hospital, the city in which it is located or the year the events supposedly occurred. You do not state whether Habermas’ source is a peer-reviewed scientific journal or whether he found the case in popular literature; the former has a very high standard of evidence, whereas the latter has an evidential bar set all too low. After all, in popular literature, myriad books chronicle Big Foot sightings, alien abductions, cases of reincarnation and other manifest lunacy. If you truly wish to grab my attention with this story, demonstrate that it has been vetted by the peer-review system. The collected ravings of Gary Habermas, while amusing, do not comprise a field of study.

Additionally, you do not reveal whether the principals in the story passed a polygraph examination related to the alleged incident. You do not reveal whether either principal had cause to lie, whether for fame, monetary gain or any other reason. You do not reveal whether either principal had a criminal record, history of mental illness, chemical dependency or other credibility-shredding characteristics. In short, you have presented a skeletal anecdote that is just as likely to have come from a book of urban legends as from a respected peer-reviewed scientific journal. [Believe me, if a woman suffered brain death and then came back to life, the scientific community would be churning out peer-reviewed papers by the score.]

As has been wisely observed, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. As a corollary, that which can be posited without evidence also can be dismissed without evidence. After all, if I told you that, while walking one afternoon, I saw some genuine, honest-to-goodness zombies in a graveyard, you probably would dismiss the story out of hand. Nobody’s mere say-so is sufficient to substantiate a zombie claim. In my view, the story you are spreading is equally fantastical, and say-so cannot cut the mustard. In a sense, I am merely asking you to recognize the principles of skepticism you follow in the rest of your life, and then apply those principles to the religious ideas by which you are enchanted. If that same woman had claimed to meet Vishnu during her “near-death experience,” and Vishnu imparted some knowledge she claimed she previously had not had, would you become a Hindu? Or, might you be skeptical?

By the way, make no mistake, even if your story has a kernel of truth, it does not do a bit to advance your claim that Christianity is true. After all, as the woman’s disembodied soul was floating about above the hospital, she could have been on her way to meet the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish. Then again, she might have been rising to find her place on a cosmic queue, on which souls wait to be reincarnated into a new body. Or she might have been a hair’s breadth away from meeting Vishnu himself! You have not proved the soul—far from it—but, even if your tale is true, you are still as far as ever from proving Christianity.



Why is it that this kind of evidence is not accepted? The reason why is that it goes against the dogmatic philosophy of the naturalist. That all that exists is the physical world of matter and that everything can be explained by material causes. This is making a philosophical standard that set’s the criteria for what evidence can be. If they were more opened minded they would let the objective evidence would speak for itself.

It is hardly reasonable to criticize me for not accepting your evidence when, in fact, your evidence is extremely weak (at least as presented). The tale you have shared with me is analogous to a wild-eyed Scot breathlessly claiming to have ridden the Loch Ness Monster.

One more thought about evidence…. I have already enumerated some of the potential evidences that would shake my atheism. Again, I repeat: My presupposition is not naturalism; rather, my presupposition is the centrality of evidence.

The following incidents would shake my atheism:

1. If, in an instant, Yahweh carved his name onto the moon.

2. If, in a double-blind, large-scale, independent study, it was conclusively demonstrated that people who were prayed for suffered fewer complications following heart surgery than people who received no prayers.

3. If a priest were able to resurrect the dead simply by invoking Jesus’ name.

4. If, every time people cursed god, he smote them right on the spot—in the public view.

5. If god could make it rain Bibles.

6. If, on a lark, god rearranged the order of planets in our solar system.

7. If, after praying to Jesus, an amputee’s arm or leg spontaneously regenerated. Repeated success would up the evidential ante.

These would be strong evidences—hard to explain away. I am open to such evidences being presented. To this point, Christians, to the shame of their superstition, have presented none.

7:37 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

Why is it impossible? Because empirical observation can not see it. Again we are being dictated by your dogmatic philosophy. All that exist is the material world of matter and on and on its goes. You seem to have to set the rules for what can and cannot be. I mean just because most people who die (clinical brain dead) do not come back to life gives evidence that they are dead, does not prove that there is no soul able to leave the body. It is only ruled out when you say that the brain is the mind, so when the brain is dead so is everything else. Are you telling me that we cannot gain information or evidence from non-empirical sources? If the answer is Yes, which is obvious, then we should let the evidence speak for its self. If the lady and the doctor where not lying and the evidence of the shoe is there then we have evidence for a soul. I mean do I need medical tests, or lie detectors to take any of your experience s to be classed as being true? No we live from day to day having experiences that lead us to conclusions. The experience was real, the evidence was the shoe, and it can not be ruled out, by imposing that it just does not fit our worldview, that every thing must be based on empirical observation. Because this is our dogmatic view, they must of both been lying. This is a joke mate. The mind can do a lot more than you think why would 1000’s of people want to lie about an experience they had when they were half-dead? You just reply with trying to make every attempt of proof have to be skeptical and false.

1:29 AM EST  
Blogger Open Air Campaigners said...

OK then prove that laws of logic exist scientifically.

2:14 PM EDT  

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