100 Comments

Mitchell LeBlanc

Maybe you’re not looking in the right places. Have you read Jordan Howard Sobel’s “Logic and Theism” and books of similar merit?

Nocterro

In addition to Mitch’s recommendation, check out the work of J.L. Mackie, Quentin Smith, Michael Tooley, and Graham Oppy.

Nocterro

*addition:

Michael Martin and Theodore Drange have debated presuppositionalism specifically.

Mitchell LeBlanc

Drange’s work I find more interesting than Martin’s, but the note about Quentin Smith is a good one. If his kalam argument succeeds, then we have a problem with the notion of saying that “God created the universe” which is a pretty big problem for theism.

Also, add J.L Schellenberg and Daniel Howard-Snyder to that list.

C.L. Bolt

Of course I am using some rhetoric in posing my question, but even then – out of the philosophers you all mentioned, which ones are still alive, teaching, and defending atheism?

I have read all of the above by the way, though not in full. Admit it, atheism does not look too healthy in the hands of Dawkins, Harris, and highschoolers on the Internet as compared to theism in the hands of Plantinga, Craig, Swinburne, Moreland, etc. 😉

Mitchell LeBlanc

Well, their work is carried on, of course. Their presence in the literature is continued by publications about their works, or utilizing their works, etc. Sobel just only recently passed away =(…

There’s no question that Dawkins and his crew are poor, poor representatives of the position, I agree. It’s the type of stuff that makes you want to convert to theism on principle, as I’ve said elsewhere. =D

C.L. Bolt

Well you’ve heard the saying, “God moves in mysterious ways”? 🙂

Mitchell LeBlanc

=D

Nocterro

Of course there are “intellectual lightweights” on both sides. Look at VenomFangX for example 😛

The question is, should we take the time to answer the poorer defenders of theism/atheism, or simply ignore them?

Agreus

“Are there any serious Atheist philosophers left who put some effort toward defending their position?”

Are there any good non-fallacious arguments for theism that require effort by serious atheist philosophers to defend their disbelief in God? Atheism isn’t really a position that needs to be defended anymore than a disbelief in Zeus is a position that needs to be defended. Until a good argument manifests itself, why waste time considering the existence of supernatural deities?

There are plenty of great atheist philosophers, though not many of them give theism and the fallacious arguments for the existence of God much consideration.

Nocterro

“Are there any good non-fallacious arguments for theism that require effort by serious atheist philosophers to defend their disbelief in God?”

Yes, many.

“Atheism isn’t really a position that needs to be defended anymore than a disbelief in Zeus is a position that needs to be defended.”

Rofl. Yes it is. Even if there are no good positive arguments for theism, you would be left with agnosticism without positive arguments for atheism.

“There are plenty of great atheist philosophers, though not many of them give theism and the fallacious arguments for the existence of God much consideration.”

You must be ignorant of the relevant literature. There are hundreds of books and thousands of papers written on the subject.

Agreus

“Yes, many.”

I have yet to encounter an argument for the existence of God that does not commit some sort of logical fallacy. Just name one and I will be happy to point out the logical problems with the argument.

“Rofl. Yes it is. Even if there are no good positive arguments for theism, you would be left with agnosticism without positive arguments for atheism”

So you are arguing that a disbelief in any arbitrary supernatural deity is one that requires a defense?

“You must be ignorant of the relevant literature. There are hundreds of books and thousands of papers written on the subject.”

Of the serious main-stream atheist philosophers alive today, I would have to say that the subject is given far less attention than it has been given in the past.

Nocterro

“I have yet to encounter an argument for the existence of God that does not commit some sort of logical fallacy. Just name one and I will be happy to point out the logical problems with the argument. ”

Robin Collins’ fine tuning argument does not commit a logical fallacy. You can find it in “The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology”.

“So you are arguing that a disbelief in any arbitrary supernatural deity is one that requires a defense? ”

No. I’m arguing that the belief “There exists no God” or “There more likely than not exists no God” requires a defense. If you have no reason to think it is at least slightly likely there is no God (or no Zeus), then you are agnostic.

“Of the serious main-stream atheist philosophers alive today, I would have to say that the subject is given far less attention than it has been given in the past.”

Graham Oppy. Quentin Smith. Michael Tooley. J.L. Mackie. Erik J. Wielenberg. J.H. Sobel. Michael Martin. Theodore Drange. J.L. Schellenberg. Daniel Howard-Snyder. Mark Walker.

C.L. Bolt

“I have yet to encounter an argument for the existence of God that does not commit some sort of logical fallacy. Just name one and I will be happy to point out the logical problems with the argument.”

Wouldn’t the burden of proof be upon you to name them all and show their logical fallacies? Or is there some argument which shows that all theistic arguments must in principle be logically fallacious?

Notice, for example, the assumptions in the question, “Until a good argument manifests itself, why waste time considering the existence of supernatural deities?” The question assumes that a good argument has not manifested itself. Have you really examined every theistic argument to know that no good ones have been provided? The question also assumes that even considering theistic arguments would be a waste of time, so the answer to my last question must be “no”. But then, there is not much left of your position aside from a number of assumptions held on faith.

danielj

Rofl. Yes it is. Even if there are no good positive arguments for theism, you would be left with agnosticism without positive arguments for atheism.

Agnosticism isn’t a default position one can simply settle into without defense either. It is a positive worldview that makes claims about knowledge and reality that it should have to defend the same as any other worldview. You aren’t exactly “left” with agnosticism, but, it should be the position you naturally consider defending if you can’t accept the other two.

“Until a good argument manifests itself, why waste time considering the existence of supernatural deities?”

The difference between serious and unserious philosophers now perfectly manifests itself. I would consider coming up with my own strong objections to my own philosophy to be a personal problem and not leave it to the others. It is your job to fully articulate your views.

Mitchell LeBlanc

The claim that all theistic arguments are fallacious is a strange one. I mean, just obviously there should be doubt that you’ve engaged all the present ones (let alone the future ones!). It’s almost as if you are expecting theistic arguments to be logically fallacious, but I wonder why you’d say such a thing. I definitely think there are good theistic arguments, and when you say something like:

Just name one and I will be happy to point out the logical problems with the argument.”

I’m extremely skeptical.

The issue also doesn’t seem to be a dead one, Christian philosophy has a real stronghold in today’s academia, at least in the relevant field, philosophy of religion.

Agreus

“Robin Collins’ fine tuning argument does not commit a logical fallacy. You can find it in “The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology”.

Fine tuning arguments tend to be easily refuted. Generally, they tend to take the form of “god of gaps” fallacies as they point out how physical constants of the universe appear to be “finely tuned” and then jump to the conclusion that a God must have created the initial conditions without considering possible non-theistic, naturalistic explanations. (such as top-down cosmology or multiverse). That being said, I’m not familiar with Mr. Collins’ version of the fine tuning argument so perhaps he has addressed this criticism. I’ll have to read up on his argument.

“No. I’m arguing that the belief “There exists no God” or “There more likely than not exists no God” requires a defense. If you have no reason to think it is at least slightly likely there is no God (or no Zeus), then you are agnostic.”

It is impossible and impractical to prove the non-existence of supernatural deities and so it is unreasonable for you to require me to defend my disbelief in supernatural deities.

“Graham Oppy. Quentin Smith. Michael Tooley. J.L. Mackie. Erik J. Wielenberg. J.H. Sobel. Michael Martin. Theodore Drange. J.L. Schellenberg. Daniel Howard-Snyder. Mark Walker.”

I would only consider a few of those as mainstream atheist philosophers. My point is that there are many great atheist philosophers who do not feel obligated to provide a defense for their atheism and hence they have not dedicated their philosophical works to this end. Most atheist philosophers have expressed their thoughts on religion at some point, however only a handful have dedicated their lives to defending their atheism.

Mitchell LeBlanc

“It is impossible and impractical to prove the non-existence of supernatural deities and so it is unreasonable for you to require me to defend my disbelief in supernatural deities.”

This is obviously false, we prove negatives all of the time.

C.L. Bolt

There are so many problems with that statement that I don’t have time to deal with them.

Would you accept, “It is impossible and impractical to prove the [existence] of supernatural deities and so it is unreasonable for you to require me to defend my [belief] in supernatural deities”?

Nocterro

“I have yet to encounter an argument for the existence of God that does not commit some sort of logical fallacy. Just name one and I will be happy to point out the logical problems with the argument. ”

“Fine tuning arguments tend to be easily refuted. Generally, they tend to take the form of “god of gaps” fallacies…”

There is no logical fallacy called “God of the gaps” 🙂

Agreus

“Wouldn’t the burden of proof be upon you to name them all and show their logical fallacies? Or is there some argument which shows that all theistic arguments must in principle be logically fallacious?”

I simply am unaware of a theistic argument that does not commit a logical fallacy and invite someone to provide me with one. I’m not making an argument that theistic arguments are in principle necessarily logically fallacious. You are reading too much into what I’m saying.

“Have you really examined every theistic argument to know that no good ones have been provided?”

I do not claim to know that there are no good arguments out there. I invite someone to provide me with one. Of course, nobody here is obligated to do so.

“The question also assumes that even considering theistic arguments would be a waste of time”

Considering the claims regarding the existence of supernatural deities can be a waste of time if there are no argument offerred to support the claims.

C.L. Bolt

“You are reading too much into what I’m saying.”

No, I was asking a question for clarification.

“I do not claim to know that there are no good arguments out there.”

Oh I see, but I am having trouble squaring this with what you wrote earlier, “Until a good argument manifests itself, why waste time considering the existence of supernatural deities?”

and

“There are plenty of great atheist philosophers, though not many of them give theism and the fallacious arguments for the existence of God much consideration.”

So you are saying that there may be good arguments for theism out there, that they have not manifested themselves, and that the arguments for the existence of God are fallacious. Is this right? I am not sure how referring to the arguments as fallacious fits with your implication that there may be good arguments for theism. Maybe you are just saying that good philosophers don’t waste time with fallacious arguments, but that there may be arguments that are not fallacious.

So correct me if I’m wrong, but essentially you are saying you are an atheist due to ignorance?

Agreus

“This is obviously false, we prove negatives all of the time.”

Generally speaking, proof of non-existence is not possible since one can always fabricate explanations for the lack of evidence and this particularly holds true for the existence of vaguely defined deities such as God.

C.L. Bolt

Can you prove that last negative?

Also, “Considering the claims regarding the existence of supernatural deities can be a waste of time if there are no argument offerred to support the claims.”

Here you went back to saying that there are no arguments.

Agreus

“Would you accept, “It is impossible and impractical to prove the [existence] of supernatural deities and so it is unreasonable for you to require me to defend my [belief] in supernatural deities”?

Though I don’t require that you defend your belief in supernatural deities, I have no problem with you stating that it is impossible for you to prove supernatural deities. If that is in fact what you state, then it would be unreasonable of me to expect you to provide proof.

C.L. Bolt

Oh, and would you concede that the concept of God is coherent? Or would you say that the concept of God is incoherent?

Agreus

“I am not sure how referring to the arguments as fallacious fits with your implication that there may be good arguments for theism. ”

The arguments that I am currently aware of are fallacious. There may be arguments that I am unaware of that are good arguments so I leave that possibility open, just as I would leave the possibility open for a good argument for the existence of the tooth fairy. This really isn’t that difficult.

“So correct me if I’m wrong, but essentially you are saying you are an atheist due to ignorance?”

Not at all. Unawareness of a good argument for theism and simply lacking the belief in God are not the same thing as ignorance.

Agreus

“Oh, and would you concede that the concept of God is coherent? Or would you say that the concept of God is incoherent?”

Which concept of God are you referring to?

Argeus

“There is no logical fallacy called “God of the gaps”

It’s an example of the fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Dawson Bethrick

Agreus stated: “I have yet to encounter an argument for the existence of God that does not commit some sort of logical fallacy. Just name one and I will be happy to point out the logical problems with the argument.”

Chris Bolt stated: “Wouldn’t the burden of proof be upon you to name them all and show their logical fallacies? Or is there some argument which shows that all theistic arguments must in principle be logically fallacious?”

So far as I can tell, Agreus is speaking from personal testimony. He (she?) is essentially saying that all arguments that he has examined, commit some fallacy or another. That’s Agreus’ personal testimony on the matter.

Aren’t we supposed to accept personal testimony?

Christians often insist that I accept personal testimony, such as when it comes to the stories found in the New Testament.

Should we pick and choose when we accept personal testimony? Or is there some principle which defines when we should and when we should not accept personal testimony?

If so, what is that principle, and how is it validated?

I’m in agreement with Agreus that the so-called “fine-tuning” arguments essentially rest on an argumentum ad ignorantium, no matter how camouflaged this fallacy may be. The ingeniousness of such arguments in fact seems to rest in how cleverly they camouflage this or other fallacies.

Also, I do not think that agnosticism is the default position. Agnosticism as I understand it is the view that no certainty either way is possible. It essentially takes the view “I don’t know” and extrapolates from it the view “I can’t know” and elevates it as a prime directive of its own. Such a view has nothing positive or substantial to offer to the discussion.

For the record, I am certain that the non-existent does not exist. Additionally, I am certain that there is a fundamental distinction between what is real and what is imaginary. Lastly, I am convinced that the Christian god is imaginary. See for instance my recent post on this issue.

Why not try this: If you know of an argument for the existence of a god that has your full confidence, one which you think is valid, has true premises, and commits no informal fallacies, then why not present it? State the individual premises, clearly indicating what they are and what they are affirming; clearly state the argument’s intended conclusion, and be ready to defend it.

If Agreus hasn’t seen it before, perhaps this will be new information for him to consider, a new argument for him to review. If he’s seen it before, and tells us that it is one that he has determined to be fallacious, then either you can rest on his personal testimony (as NT apologists insist that we do), or you can ask him to show us the money – i.e., point out where the argument commits a certain fallacy (or fallacies).

Are you up to that challenge?

Chris Bolt asked: “Oh, and would you concede that the concept of God is coherent? Or would you say that the concept of God is incoherent?”

So far as I understand Christianity, “God” is not supposed to be a concept, but an independently existing entity. I do think that the notion of a god (as Christianity conceives of it) is incoherent (see here). But this speaks to the very idea which we as non-believers are expected to accept as a rational idea. If the idea of “God” (perhaps what you mean by “the concept of God”) is incoherent (which I show in my essay on the topic), then would you agree that we should reject its claim to truth?

In the end, I would point out that no one has the burden of proving that the non-existent does not exist. If you think that something exists and others do not accept this claim, it is up to you as a defender of the claim that it does exist to defend it. If you do not, then be prepared to live with the consequences of your inaction.

Regards,
Dawson

Nocterro

Argumentum ad Ignorantiam: (appeal to ignorance) the fallacy that a proposition is true simply on the basis that it has not been proved false or that it is false simply because it has not been proved true.
[http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/ignorance.html]

Collins’ argument does not do this.

Dawson Bethrick

Here’s an encapsulation of the fine-tuning argument from Collins:

“Imaginatively, one could think of each instance of fine-tuning as a radio dial: unless all the dials are set exactly right, life would be impossible. Or, one could think of the initial conditions of the universe and the fundamental parameters of physics as a dart board that fills the whole galaxy, and the conditions necessary for life to exist as a small one-foot wide target: unless the dart hits the target, life would be impossible. The fact that the dials are perfectly set, or the dart has hit the target, strongly suggests that someone set the dials or aimed the dart, for it seems enormously improbable that such a coincidence could have happened by chance.” (http://home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/Fine-tuning/FINETLAY.HTM)

There are many problems with this type of argument, including of course its presupposition of the primacy of consciousness (some consciousness was required for the universe to exist as we find it). On this basis alone the argument is to be rejected since the primacy of consciousness is self-invalidating.

Also, the argument trades on a fundamental reversal which has apparently escaped Collins’ notice. It construes the conditions of life as something existing prior to the universe, as a set of criteria which the universe had to meet in order for life to be possible in it. But the exact opposite of this is actually the case: life developed within the universe and adapted to the conditions under which it exists. This explains the “perfect match” between life’s requirements and the “dial settings” of the universe in a manner that is compatible with everything we can reliably know about life and the world through science. Indeed, this is why many life forms will die out when conditions change radically, such as during an ice age or persistent drought, etc. Such radical changes can and do happen, and yet it is still the same universe.

Another problem is that Collins’ argument hinges on a false dichotomy, namely between “design” and “chance.” These alternatives are assumed to be jointly exhaustive. I have challenged this assumption elsewhere (see my blog http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2009/07/concept-of-chance-right-and-wrong-uses.html). The argument ignores natural causation, for which “chance” is surreptitiously treated as a suitable substitute. In fact, “chance” (especially as theists inform it) is anti-causal, in which case the only form of causality which the theistic argument allows is one which is underwritten by a form of consciousness (e.g., “design”).

It is then, upon this false alternative, the “design” vs. “chance” assumption (and numerous other errors, including for instance those mentioned above), that Collins essentially throws up his arms in ignorance and announces, “the universe couldn’t be this way by chance, therefore it must have been designed!” It’s a veiled appeal to ignorance.

The “solution” which Collins prefers to what for all intents and purposes appears to be a manufactured problem based on some very questionable premises, is first to construe the universe as having to meet the conditions of life in order for life to exist, and then “explain” the universe’s alleged satisfaction of those conditions by positing a living being which has no conditions whatsoever. Collins does think his god is living, does he not? So, either Collins’ god, as a living being, has life requirements which must be met in order for it to live, or it has none at all, in which case we have in Collins’ solution a wholesale exception to the conditions which drove his whole course of reasoning from the get-go. If the former is the case, we’re faced with a potential infinite regress (since a new set of conditions needs to be met by a super-duper consciousness, and so on), and if the latter is the case, then Collins seems a little too willing to jettison the very conditions which earlier in the course of his reasoning were entirely unyielding (since the universe as such was construed as having to meet them). Collins’ response to “the ‘who designed God?’ objection” is inadequate to address either horn of this dilemma.

Design arguments, including Collins’ fine-tuning argument, all seem to suffer from the fallacy of weak analogy. For details, see Kreuger’s What Is Atheism? A Short Introduction, pp. 138-139. Also, I have pointed out additional problems with the design argument here: http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2009/11/kreeft-on-design-argument.html

Regards,
Dawson

Agreus

Thanks Dawson for that well thought out critique of Collins’ fine-tuning argument. I think you have pointed out some fatal flaws of the core part of the argument as presented on his website.

I recently located a complete version of Collins’ fine-tuning argument, without having to purchase “The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology”, but have not had time to read through it yet. On the surface it appears to be what Collins believes is a more philosophically rigorous attempt to present the fine-tuning argument, but still doesn’t seem to manage to overcome the basic flaws of the fine-tuning argument, some of which Dawson has pointed out above.

Collins’ approach is to present the core fine-tuning argument using the likelihood approach, and then argue how theism is to be preferred over other possible naturalistic explanations, particularly concentrating on the multiverse hypothesis.

When I have some time, probably early next week, I’ll study his argument some more and see if it actually achieves what it purports to achieve. The compete argument can be found here… http://home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/Fine-tuning/ft.htm

ZaoThanatoo

“I have yet to encounter an argument for the existence of God that does not commit some sort of logical fallacy. Just name one and I will be happy to point out the logical problems with the argument.”

DEFINITIONS:

[a] X is a network of propositions constituting the non-negotiables of the Christian worldview (which uncontroversially includes the existence of God).

[b] E is human experience (some combination of empirical data, rational method, and mental process)

[c] P is some person

[d] Q is some proposition

[e] “~” means “it is not the case that” (classical negation).

ARGUMENT:

[1a] If E is intelligible, then X are true
{to be proved}

[2a] Assume that ~(If E is intelligible, then X are true) {negation of [1a], ad argumentum}

[2b] (E is intelligible) and ~(X are true)
{negated conditional}

[3] If (E is intelligible) then (P can have knowledge of Q)
{definition of “intelligible”}

[4] If (P can have knowledge of Q) then ((Q is true) AND (P believes that Q is true) AND (P is warranted in believing that Q is true))
{definition of “knowledge”}

[5] if (P is justified in believing that Q is true) then ((P can have transactions1 with abstract entities [such as laws]) AND (P can have transactions2 with concrete differentiated entities [such as the referent of Q]) AND (P can relate transactions1 to transactions2))
{stipulated condition of warrant}

[6] However, ~(P can have transactions1 with abstract entities [such as universal laws]) OR ~(P can have transactions2 with concrete differentiated entities [such as the referent of Q]) OR ~(P can relate transactions1 to transactions2)
{premise}

[7] Therefore, ~(P can have knowledge of Q)
{negated conjunction, Modus Tollens}

[8] Therefore, ~(E is intelligible)
{negated conjunction, Modus Tollens}

[9] Therefore, ~((E is intelligible) and ~(X are true)) {negated conjunction}

[10] Therefore, ~(E is intelligible) or (X are true)
{De Morgan}

[11] Therefore, If E is intelligible, then X are true
{material implication}

QED

Dawson Bethrick

Zao,

Your argument seems to work just as well when X represents ” a network of propositions constituting the non-negotiables of the Blarkian worldview (which uncontroversially includes the existence of Blarko).”

Blarko, of course, did not have a crucified son. That’s the problem with trying to prove arbitrary worldviews: the same type of argument used to prove one arbitrary worldview can be used to prove any arbitrary worldview.

Regards,
Dawson

Nocterro

Zao,

Would you mind translating your argument into symbolic logic, so I can check its’ validity, and understand it better?

Thanks.

Dawson Bethrick

Zao,

Here you go:

DEFINITIONS:

[a] X is a network of propositions constituting the non-negotiables of the Blarkian worldview (which uncontroversially includes the existence of Blarko).

[b] E is human experience (some combination of empirical data, rational method, and mental process)

[c] P is some person

[d] Q is some proposition

[e] “~” means “it is not the case that” (classical negation).

ARGUMENT:

[1a] If E is intelligible, then X are true
{to be proved}

[2a] Assume that ~(If E is intelligible, then X are true) {negation of [1a], ad argumentum}

[2b] (E is intelligible) and ~(X are true)
{negated conditional}

[3] If (E is intelligible) then (P can have knowledge of Q)
{definition of “intelligible”}

[4] If (P can have knowledge of Q) then ((Q is true) AND (P believes that Q is true) AND (P is warranted in believing that Q is true))
{definition of “knowledge”}

[5] if (P is justified in believing that Q is true) then ((P can have transactions1 with abstract entities [such as laws]) AND (P can have transactions2 with concrete differentiated entities [such as the referent of Q]) AND (P can relate transactions1 to transactions2))
{stipulated condition of warrant}

[6] However, ~(P can have transactions1 with abstract entities [such as universal laws]) OR ~(P can have transactions2 with concrete differentiated entities [such as the referent of Q]) OR ~(P can relate transactions1 to transactions2)
{premise}

[7] Therefore, ~(P can have knowledge of Q)
{negated conjunction, Modus Tollens}

[8] Therefore, ~(E is intelligible)
{negated conjunction, Modus Tollens}

[9] Therefore, ~((E is intelligible) and ~(X are true)) {negated conjunction}

[10] Therefore, ~(E is intelligible) or (X are true)
{De Morgan}

[11] Therefore, If E is intelligible, then X are true
{material implication}

QED

According to this argument, intelligibility presupposes the existence of Blarko and the Blarkian worldview.

Regards,
Dawson

ZaoThanatoo

Dawson, Mr. Agreus claimed to be be able to demonstrate a “logical fallacy” in every theistic argument. Your criticism demonstrates no fallacy, so far as I can see. So, even if true it is irrelevant to the original purpose in presenting it.

Besides, you’ve only only chosen to present another one of those (boring, parasitic) non-Christian counter-arguments, the kind referred to in the original linked post. And a category error to boot.

Nocterro, I’ll try to comply with your request in a bit. I’ll be at work 13 hours today and will be moving all my earthly possessions to a new domicile tomorrow. Please bear with me in that regard. Thank you.

Agreus

Zao,

Here is basically the problem with your argument.

Take this statement:

“[3] If (E is intelligible) then (P can have knowledge of Q) {definition of “intelligible”}”

It appears that what you are saying is the following: “If E is intelligible, then it is an epistemic possibility for P to have knowledge of Q”.

Now take the following statement, which your argument seems to hinge upon:

[4] If (P can have knowledge of Q) then ((Q is true) AND (P believes that Q is true) AND (P is warranted in believing that Q is true)) {definition of “knowledge”}

We can interpret this statement to mean:

“If there is an epistemic possiblity for P to have a knowledge of Q, then ((Q is true) AND (P believes that Q is true) AND (P is warranted in believing that Q is true))”

You commit a modal fallacy as you cannot derive any truth status regarding Q merely based on the epistemic possibility of P having knowledge of Q. As Dawson pointed out, if we could do that, then we could pretty much conclude that Blarko exists merely because there is an epistemic possibility for P to have a knowledge of the proposition of Blarko’s existence.

The remainder of your argument pretty much crumbles at this point as this seems to be the crux of your argument.

Dawson Bethrick

Zao wrote: “Dawson, Mr. Agreus claimed to be be able to demonstrate a ‘logical fallacy’ in every theistic argument. Your criticism demonstrates no fallacy, so far as I can see. So, even if true it is irrelevant to the original purpose in presenting it.”

My apologies, Zao: I did not understand that the entire discussion must revolve exclusively around one of Agreus’ many comments, or that my criticism of a proposed theistic argument must be limited specifically to confirming what Agreus has said. In my understanding, if an argument contains premises which are simply not true, then pointing this out is sufficient and the question of whether or not that argument commits any informal fallacies is ultimately of little concern. An argument whose premises are not true simply need not be taken very seriously. Perhaps you disagree with this policy.

I suppose it may be comforting to dismiss the fact that an argument is suited to defending an arbitrary position as “boring” or “”parasitic,” but I’m sure you realize that calling criticism of an argument “boring” or “parasitic” is not itself an argument which undoes the original criticism. The question of interest, to me at least, is whether or not the criticism is true, not whether it fails to lift someone’s skirt.

As for my point that your argument works just as well in vouching for the Blarkian worldview committing “a category error to boot,” you are welcome to explain this. So far, you’ve simply thrown this out there with no content to inform it. Specifically, how does my point commit a category error?

To be sure, Zao, I’m confident that your argument has many additional problems, and these would become evident as the premises of your argument are fleshed out.

For one thing, your argument seems to assume the JTB analysis of knowledge, which of course I reject and thus would consider a flaw. The JTB analysis of knowledge seeks to define knowledge in terms of “belief,” when in fact belief is not cognitively irreducible. Beliefs are not possible without concepts, and it is in fact concepts which constitute knowledge, not beliefs per se. But the conceptual analysis of knowledge is not to be preferred by any pro-Christian argument, for Christianity has no theory of concepts to begin with, and thus a conceptual analysis of knowledge utilized by a pro-Christian argument would indicate borrowing from a non-Christian worldview, specifically from one which does have a theory of concepts.

Also, your argument clearly presupposes the reality of consciousness (since the concept ‘intelligibility’ presupposes consciousness), yet I see no concern in your argument for the proper relationship between consciousness and its objects. This again is an issue where Christianity – the worldview which your argument seeks to vindicate – is inherently deficient, since Christianity assumes the primacy of consciousness.

I could go on, and would be happy to do so if you wanted to explain exactly how you think intelligibility is related to the specifics of the non-negotiables of the Christian worldview. But I’ve done a lot of this homework on my own blog already, which you are free to examine at your leisure.

Meanwhile, Agreus seems to have met your concern for addressing the original charge.

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

Does consciousness not exist?

Dawson Bethrick

Yes, consciousness does exist. You need to be conscious just in order for you to ask the question. None of the points which I have raised is incompatible with this fact.

However, consciousness does *not* hold metaphysical primacy.

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

If consciousness exists how is it that it is exempted from the primacy extended to every other existing thing?

When did consciousness start existing if not with every other existing thing?

Dawson Bethrick

Consciousness exists only in relationship to some object. Consciousness is consciousness of something, of some object. Hence we have the subject-object relationship. To affirm the primacy of consciousness is to affirm the primacy of the subject in the subject-object relationship, which is to affirm subjectivism.

There is no evidence which suggests that consciousness has always existed with every other existing thing. Consciousness is an attribute only of a certain class of existents, namely living organisms. Rocks, for instance, do not possess consciousness. Planets do not possess consciousness, nor do asteroids, quasars, protons, etc.

If you think consciousness holds metaphysical primacy, can you explain why, and point to some evidence which supports your view (especially without committing the fallacy of the stolen concept)?

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

There is no evidence which suggests that consciousness has always existed with every other existing thing.

How exactly did things without any sort of proto consciousness (rocks, protons, etc.) combine to form consciousness and where does this “consciousness” reside? It must reside outside the bounds of “existence” since the things that human beings are made of have no consciousness in and of themselves.

If you think consciousness holds metaphysical primacy, can you explain why, and point to some evidence which supports your view (especially without committing the fallacy of the stolen concept)?

Don’t tell me my business Devil woman.

ZaoThanatoo

“You commit a modal fallacy as you cannot derive any truth status regarding Q merely based on the epistemic possibility of P having knowledge of Q. ”

1.) You seriously intend to argue that a rather widely accepted post-Gettier definition of “knowledge” commits a modal fallacy? You don’t want to think about this just a bit more before you commit yourself to that position?

Dawson’s main contention (regarding Blarkianism) is, obviously, on target. However, this doesn’t refute theism it’s simply a counter-theistic argument prima facie. I didn’t know Dawson was a Blarkian, but that is an interesting position to take rather than adopting Christianity. Of course, if he isn’t a Blarkian then he will need to propose an alternative criticism.

Or if Blarkianism is raised only to show that you can plug anything into (1a) and reach the same conclusion, then this is a tacit admission that the argument is formally valid and we need only discuss whether the premises are true or not.

Either way, no logical fallacy is demonstrated and a theistic argument (of some kind or another) rules the day.

Dawson Bethrick

Danielj wrote: “How exactly did things without any sort of proto consciousness (rocks, protons, etc.) combine to form consciousness and where does this ‘consciousness’ reside?”

Generally speaking, they did this by means of causality. What is the specific process? That is a scientific question. I am not a scientist, and I do not profess to know. I don’t see what relevance it has to the issue. Regardless of how some biological organisms developed the attribute of consciousness, consciousness is still consciousness of something and therefore still exists in a relationship with an object (or many objects, as the case may be). Do you suppose there’s such a thing as consciousness of nothing? How could it qualify as consciousness?

Danielj: “It must reside outside the bounds of ‘existence’ since the things that human beings are made of have no consciousness in and of themselves.”

The notion that something “reside[s] outside the bounds of existence” is incoherent. This is saying that something exists but yet is not included in the sum total of what exists. Also, that consciousness “must reside outside the bounds of ‘existence’” does not follow from the fact that the various parts which make up human beings are not themselves conscious. My spleen, for instance, does not have its own consciousness, and neither does my elbow. These are attributes of me as an entity, just as consciousness is. Consciousness, mind you, is not an entity in itself, but an attribute of some entity (namely biological organisms).

—–

Zao wrote: “Dawson’s main contention (regarding Blarkianism) is, obviously, on target.”

Yes, you’re right: my point is right on target.

Zao: “However, this doesn’t refute theism it’s simply a counter-theistic argument prima facie.”

This misses the fundamental point that there is no need to refute an arbitrary position. The arbitrary has no contextual reference to reality. It is fantasy. I don’t need to refute theism any more than I need to refute Harry Potter.

Zao: “I didn’t know Dawson was a Blarkian,”

And you still don’t know that I am. In fact, I’m not a Blarkian. I think Blarkianism and Christianity are both arbitrary. Go back and re-read what I stated earlier, it should make more sense to you now that I’ve spelled this out explicitly.

Zao: “Of course, if he isn’t a Blarkian then he will need to propose an alternative criticism.”

Feel free to browse my blog and website. I’ve done a lot of proposing over the years.

Zao: “Or if Blarkianism is raised only to show that you can plug anything into (1a) and reach the same conclusion, then this is a tacit admission that the argument is formally valid and we need only discuss whether the premises are true or not.”

You may be reading a bit much into my statements. I’d suggest that a hypothetical approach would be more appropriate, such that your argument would work just as well for the Blarkian worldview as it does for Christianity *if* it is valid. I did not weigh in one way or another on whether or not your argument is valid. Nocterro has asked you to demonstrate its validity, and you’ve not done this yet, so it remains to be seen whether it is valid.

Regardless, claiming that one’s argument is *valid* does not make for a very strong showing at all. Validity is strictly formal. One could make a *valid* argument for the conclusion that monkeys originate from the rings of Saturn. As I suggested in my earlier message, my concern is whether or not the premises of a valid argument are *true*. I’ve already pointed out several reasons why the premises of your argument should be rejected as untrue.

Zao: “Either way, no logical fallacy is demonstrated”

And I spoke to this as well. But I did point out that your argument ultimately assumes the primacy of consciousness, and thus commits the fallacy of the stolen concept. So it is not free of fallacy after all.

Zao: “and a theistic argument (of some kind or another) rules the day.”

I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean. If you’re anxious to reinforce a confessional investment, then I suppose I can understand your motivation for making statements of this sort. An argument does not “rule the day” simply because it avoids logical fallacy. If its premises are not true, and yet it still avoids logical fallacies, do you think it still “rules the day”?

Regards,
Dawson

Agreus

Zao,

You haven’t addressed my concern rather you’ve just conveniently ignored it. By the way, stating “If (P *can* have knowledge of Q)” is very different than “If (P has knowledge of Q)”. We cannot conclude anything about what is actually the case regarding Q based off of the mere possibility of P having knowledge of Q as I pointed out previously. I am going to be out of town without Internet access for about a week, but feel free to address the issue that I’ve raised.

danielj

Generally speaking, they did this by means of causality.

What is betwixt simple, unconscious and unintentional biology and conscious biology and how is it that causality bridges this gap? How does the combination of biology and causality produce consciousness?

What is the specific process? That is a scientific question. I am not a scientist, and I do not profess to know

If consciousness is indeed reducible to biology and it is merely a scientific question then we are just plants. Concept formation is photosynthesis and free will is an illusion.

Regardless of how some biological organisms developed the attribute of consciousness, consciousness is still consciousness of something and therefore still exists in a relationship with an object (or many objects, as the case may be).

They didn’t develop it. One minute it wasn’t there, and the next minute it was. There is nothing in between consciousness and unconsciousness. You’ve denied proto consciousness and proto intentionality as well. There is no 1/2 consciousness or self-consciousness by your own method.

It does not follow from the intentionality of consciousness that existence has metaphysical primacy no matter how many times and in how many ways you repeat it. Consciousness is not a sufficient condition for existence? So what? Existence isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness either. If existence isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness than consciousness simply could not have sprung into existence since no thing can “begin” to exist according to your own philosophy. It (consciousness) is, therefore, not simply an “accident” or “property” of biology since it doesn’t exist in other biological organisms. Or was consciousness divided up into little bits from all eternity and only recently punctured the veil by finally combining so providentially (or “fortunately” if you prefer) in our case?

If you refuse to attribute eternal existence to consciousness you render your own system incoherent, but, if you do attribute it, then you’ve admitted its “co-primacy” at the very least.

Please correct any errors in my thinkin’ here.

The notion that something “reside[s] outside the bounds of existence” is incoherent.

Duh.

Where then did consciousness exist before it punctured that vaunted axiom of yours? How can something exist in the same fashion as existence if it hasn’t always existed?

Consciousness, mind you, is not an entity in itself, but an attribute of some entity (namely biological organisms).

In light of the above – should you let it stand unrefuted – I consider this begging the question. Everything else exists, as existence did, completely eternal and completely un-novel, except consciousness which you’ve exempted from your axiom. I don’t think it is “fair” for you to be allowed to carry an existing thing into the back door of the universe by defining it as a mere “attribute.” Is consciousness just like “blackness” or “hotness.” Does it smell funny?

Either consciousness exists or it doesn’t. If it does, than it has always existed like everything else in existence. If it doesn’t, you cannot wish it into existence as a property of biology which you’ve also wished into existence unless biology is eternal too?

How is it that only the “universe” is eternal? What exactly do you even mean by “existence” exists if things like biology and consciousness are allowed to simply spring into existence out of non-existence?

Dawson Bethrick

Danielj wrote: “How does the combination of biology and causality produce consciousness?”

The question essentially answers itself: The process by which an organism develops consciousness of objects is both biological and causal. You have flat out denied that consciousness develops, but did not provide an argument for this. When a fetus develops in the womb, it develops from a fertilized egg. At the stage of a fertilized egg, there is no heartbeat, but eventually it develops a heart. At the stage of a fertilized egg, it has no sensory organs, so it has no means of perceiving anything, and thus has no capacity for consciousness. But it does develop these organs, and these organs are what give it the capacity to perceive, to be conscious of objects. Why would you think that a biological organism does not develop consciousness? Do you think that an organism was conscious before it existed?

Danielj: “If consciousness is indeed reducible to biology…”

I don’t think consciousness “reduces” to biology; to say this would imply that consciousness is non-biological. Consciousness *is* biological. How could it be otherwise? All organisms which possess consciousness have in common the fact that they have sensory organs which give the organism the capacity to be conscious of objects.

Danielj: “and it is merely a scientific question then we are just plants.”

Human beings are not plants. But both human beings and plants are biological organisms. I don’t think there are any plants that possess the attribute of consciousness. But many species in the animal kingdom do.

Danielj: “Concept formation is photosynthesis and free will is an illusion.”

Incorrect. Concept-formation is not photosynthesis. Anyone who understands both would know this. Concept-formation is volitional and requires a consciousness capable of selectively isolating specific objects and integrating them into mental units. This is not the task of photosynthesis.

Danielj: “You’ve denied proto consciousness and proto intentionality as well.”

Hmmm… I don’t recall doing so. Where do you think I “denied proto consciousness and proto intentionality”?

Danielj: “There is no 1/2 consciousness or self-consciousness by your own method.”

Specifically, what do you know of my method? What makes you suppose that there’s no self-consciousness “by my own method”? With higher organisms (such as human beings), consciousness can be a secondary object – i.e., consciousness of itself. We are exhibiting this ability right here in our discussion. What makes you think my position denies this? Or do you find it expedient to put words into my mouth for some reason?

Danielj: “It does not follow from the intentionality of consciousness that existence has metaphysical primacy no matter how many times and in how many ways you repeat it.”

The primacy of existence is not a conclusion of prior inference. It does not “follow” from some prior set of affirmations. Rather, it is implicit in any affirmation (which is part of the reason why theism is self-contradictory at the fundamental level.) I’ve written much on axioms. Apparently you’ve not examined what I’ve said, or you did not read it very carefully.

Danielj: “Consciousness is not a sufficient condition for existence? So what?”

Existence is not borne on conditions. Those conditions would have to exist. To say that certain conditions had to be met for existence to exist, would be to say that those conditions had to exist in order for existence to exist. The idea commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

Danielj: “Existence isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness either.”

So, you think something other than existence needs to exist in order for consciousness to exist? Please elaborate.

Danielj: “If existence isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness than [sic] consciousness simply could not have sprung into existence since no thing can ‘begin’ to exist according to your own philosophy.”

Consciousness begins the same way that other types of activity begin. When an organism senses an object, this is an action which begins at a certain point in time. The same for when an organism perceives. The same for when a man thinks. These are all species of a type of action. Consciousness is inherently active.

Danielj: “If you refuse to attribute eternal existence to consciousness you render your own system incoherent,”

How so? What would justify attributing eternal existence to consciousness? I know consciousness only as an attribute of some biological organisms, including but not restricted to man. Where do we find an eternally existing consciousness? Biological organisms procreate and die. Find one that is eternally conscious.

Danielj: “but, if you do attribute it, then you’ve admitted its ‘co-primacy’ at the very least.”

Even if you assume that consciousness is eternal, this would not validate the notion that the subject and object share metaphysical “co-primacy.” I suspect that you do not fully understand the issue of metaphysical primacy. Perhaps you could explain what “co-primacy’ between consciousness and its objects would be like.

Danielj: “Please correct any errors in my thinkin’ here.”

I’ve pointed out quite a few already.

I wrote: “Consciousness, mind you, is not an entity in itself, but an attribute of some entity (namely biological organisms).”

Danielj: “In light of the above – should you let it stand unrefuted – I consider this begging the question.”

How so? How is consciousness not an attribute of the entity which possesses it? Also, what conclusion am I assuming in the premises of any argument that I have presented?

Danielj: “Either consciousness exists or it doesn’t. If it does, than [sic] it has always existed like everything else in existence.”

Can you explain how you think this is supposed to follow?

Danielj: “How is it that only the ‘universe’ is eternal? What exactly do you even mean by ‘existence’ exists if things like biology and consciousness are allowed to simply spring into existence out of non-existence?”

I’ve written on many of these topics on my blog. You might want to check it out as you’ve stumbled quite severely if you think your statements have been representative of my position.

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

You have flat out denied that consciousness develops, but did not provide an argument for this.

You denied it. There is nothing in between consciousness and unconsciousness so there can be nothing that leads up to consciousness.

When a fetus develops in the womb, it develops from a fertilized egg. …. Why would you think that a biological organism does not develop consciousness?

You’re missing the point.

Does consciousness equal sensation like you appear to be saying here?

Consciousness *is* biological.

Then the will is not free.

How could it be otherwise?

Well, gee…. Think about that for a second. How could the universe possibly be otherwise? Does ANYBODY here have any theories?

All organisms which possess consciousness have in common the fact that they have sensory organs which give the organism the capacity to be conscious of objects.

So? How do you know that consciousness follows sensation? Or are you equating the two? Even if it does, it doesn’t mean that is the only possible way that it could. One does not necessarily follow from the other.

Anyone who understands both would know this. Concept-formation is volitional and requires a consciousness capable of selectively isolating specific objects and integrating them into mental units. This is not the task of photosynthesis.

If it is simply biology it cannot be volitional. How do the fetus’ organs add up to volition? How does biology give rise to volition? Were there ever non-volitional humans?

Biology isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness. Do you understand this? Biology isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness. Biology isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness. Let it sink in…

Specifically, what do you know of my method? What makes you suppose that there’s no self-consciousness “by my own method”?

From what I read on your blog and in objectivist “literature.” From henceforth, I shall refrain from attributing anything to you. It was hasty and wrong of me and bordering on a violation of the 9th.

With higher organisms (such as human beings), consciousness can be a secondary object – i.e., consciousness of itself.

Now you are defining into existence “secondary” objects. Do these secondary objects exist? Are they equal to attributes? If they do then we are exactly where we were. Is consciousness an object? If not does it exist?

We are exhibiting this ability right here in our discussion. What makes you think my position denies this? Or do you find it expedient to put words into my mouth for some reason?

Of course putting words into your mouth would be expedient (and I’ve got some very choice words for you) and funny, but I’ll refrain.

The primacy of existence is not a conclusion of prior inference.

It isn’t a valid conclusion and is certainly, at the very most, a trivial “axiom” as I pointed out in my last comment.

It is a stolen concept.

Danielj: “If you refuse to attribute eternal existence to consciousness you render your own system incoherent,”

How so?

Then it wouldn’t be an object, wouldn’t fall under the “existence exists” axiom and it wouldn’t exist.

Even if you assume that consciousness is eternal, this would not validate the notion that the subject and object share metaphysical “co-primacy.” I suspect that you do not fully understand the issue of metaphysical primacy. Perhaps you could explain what “co-primacy’ between consciousness and its objects would be like.

Consciousness either exists or it doesn’t. If it exists then it is just as “prime” as existence. If it isn’t an object than it doesn’t exist. I already explained it. You just didn’t read very carefully.

Consciousness is not a sufficient condition for existence and neither is existence a sufficient condition for consciousness, therefore, they are co-prime.

How is consciousness not an attribute of the entity which possesses it?

What kind of attribute is it? I already brought this up and you chose not to address it. It isn’t observable in anyway and does not exist by that standard. Does it smell funny? Is it orange? Is it hot?

Danielj: “Either consciousness exists or it doesn’t. If it does, than [sic] it has always existed like everything else in existence.”

Can you explain how you think this is supposed to follow?

Firstly, please don’t pull that [sic] crap unless it is truly essential to your argument.

It follows from your axiom Dawson. Existence exists. The universe exists and has always existed. Nothing can “begin” to exist, come into existence, or “develop.” Maybe you need to better explain what you mean by existence exists instead of just sweeping your arms around in a grand gesture?

I’ve written on many of these topics on my blog. You might want to check it out as you’ve stumbled quite severely if you think your statements have been representative of my position.

Well, maybe they aren’t then. I certainly don’t wanna misrepresent you and I’m sorry if I did.

I’d prefer to watch objectivists struggle for dear life over at the Maverick Philosphers page. I don’t have any time to waste on your blog.

danielj

For you Dawson, allow me to correct the last bit:

Maverick Philosopher’s page

Dawson Bethrick

I wrote: “You have flat out denied that consciousness develops, but did not provide an argument for this.”

Danielj responded: “You denied it. There is nothing in between consciousness and unconsciousness so there can be nothing that leads up to consciousness.”

Where did I deny that consciousness develops? Didn’t you read what I wrote?

I wrote: “When a fetus develops in the womb, it develops from a fertilized egg. …. Why would you think that a biological organism does not develop consciousness?”

Danielj responded: “You’re missing the point.”

Which point am I missing? Please be specific, especially if you’re going to level accusations like this.

Danielj asked: “Does consciousness equal sensation like you appear to be saying here?”

Sensation is one form of consciousness. Do you think that sensation is not a form of consciousness?

I wrote: “Consciousness *is* biological.”

Danielj responded: “Then the will is not free.”

What do you mean by “free,” and how does your claim follow from the fact that consciousness is biological? It’s not self-evident.

I asked: “How could it be otherwise?”

Danielj responded: “Well, gee…. Think about that for a second. How could the universe possibly be otherwise? Does ANYBODY here have any theories?”

Do you have any arguments to back up your claims? Or just questions? If you do not think consciousness is biological, what is it? Do you think it’s supernatural? If so, just say so. Let’s see how well you understand the matter. It’s clear that you do not accept the primacy of existence. Why not go all the way?

I wrote: “All organisms which possess consciousness have in common the fact that they have sensory organs which give the organism the capacity to be conscious of objects.”

Danielj asked: “So? How do you know that consciousness follows sensation?”

Sensation is a form of consciousness. If an organism is sensing something, it is conscious of that something in sensory form. It’s not a matter of consciousness “following” sensation.

Danielj asked: “Or are you equating the two?”

Again, sensation is a form of consciousness. So is perception. So is conceptualization. There are many forms of consciousness. This is basic stuff. Ask yourself this, Danielj: Are you conscious of your surroundings? By what means are you conscious of them? In what form are your conscious of them? How are you conscious of them? Do you perceive them? When you are perceiving, are you still unconscious? What is your understanding of consciousness? Get it out in the open. Quit hiding.

Danielj wrote: “Even if it does, it doesn’t mean that is the only possible way that it could.”

What else do you have in mind? Again, please be specific. Inform your point.

Danielj continued: “One does not necessarily follow from the other.”

And as you can see, now that you’re learning a little more about my position (perhaps for the first time), I am not arguing that.

I wrote: “Anyone who understands both would know this. Concept-formation is volitional and requires a consciousness capable of selectively isolating specific objects and integrating them into mental units. This is not the task of photosynthesis.”

Danielj asserted: “If it is simply biology it cannot be volitional.”

Why not? What is your argument for this? What assumptions of yours are driving conclusions like this? I’m biological, and I have a volitional form of consciousness. Why can’t it be biological? Is it just that your conception of biological is so narrow that it arbitrarily excludes volition? Or do you think there’s a legitimate reason for this? If so, please state it.

Danielj asked: “How do the fetus’ organs add up to volition?”

I don’t understand the question. I don’t think I said that “organs *add up* to volition.” The sensory organs are the means by which an organism senses an object. This activity – sensation – is a form of consciousness.

Danielj asked: “How does biology give rise to volition?”

Are you asking for a blow by blow explanation of all the causal activity which allows a consciousness to regulate itself? If so, that’s well beyond the scope of a comments section discussion. You might start with Binswanger’s The Metaphysics of Consciousness at least to clear up some profound misunderstandings about consciousness. Once that’s done, there are other sources available for you to start investigating. But until you’ve corrected some of your more fundamental misunderstandings, you’re not ready for that.

Danielj asked: “Were there ever non-volitional humans?”

I don’t think so, given my definition of man. But on a broader definition, perhaps. But you’re asking about something which written history has not recorded, so this would require a lot of input from the sciences which I do not have at my disposal.

Danielj asserted: “Biology isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness.”

Got any argument for this? Oh wait, take a look at what you wrote next:

Danielj wrote: “Do you understand this? Biology isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness. Biology isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness. Let it sink in…”

I guess you’re a student of the Sunday School understanding of reality: repeat a claim long enough until it “sinks in” and you *believe* it. You’re showing us your preferred method. No wonder you have so many misunderstandings.

Since you know so much about the necessary conditions for consciousness, can you identify them for us? If biology is not a sufficient condition for consciousness, can you tell us what is? Watch the stolen concepts!

I asked: “Specifically, what do you know of my method? What makes you suppose that there’s no self-consciousness ‘by my own method’?”

Danielj responded: “From what I read on your blog and in objectivist ‘literature’.”

Where did anything I write or that you found in the Objectivist literature deny man’s capacity for self-consciousness? That is the view you attributed to me. Where did you read this? Please, show me. I want to see.

Danielj wrote: “From henceforth, I shall refrain from attributing anything to you. It was hasty and wrong of me and bordering on a violation of the 9th.”

You’re showing that you’re at least a little teachable. But seriously, where did I deny man’s capacity for self-consciousness? If you did not read this in something that I wrote or that some other Objectivist wrote, why did you attribute this position to me? If you’re having difficulty being honest in our discussion, please say so. I see no reason to continue on with someone who will not be honest.

I wrote: “With higher organisms (such as human beings), consciousness can be a secondary object – i.e., consciousness of itself.”

Danielj: “Now you are defining into existence ‘secondary’ objects.”

You seem to have a real difficulty understanding my position. Do you understand what I mean by “secondary object” in the context of what I stated? I’m not “defining into existence ‘secondary’ objects.” My point is that consciousness must first be conscious of objects other than itself in order for it to be possible for consciousness to have itself as an object. This again is basic Objectivist 101 stuff. I don’t think you’ve read much Objectivist literature. Perhaps you’ve read criticisms of Objectivism; I have too: it’s not a good way to learn about what Objectivism really teaches.

Danielj asked: “Do these secondary objects exist?”

Consciousness exists. In the context of what I stated, consciousness would be the secondary object – an object of itself, consciousness turned inward on itself, just as we do when we contemplate how we became aware of something. But first we had to become aware of that something before we could contemplate how we became aware of it. There’s a hierarchical sequence of activity here. I didn’t realize that you needed such rudimentary information about what Objectivism teaches. What specifically have you read on Objectivism? (You intimated above that you’ve read Objectivist literature. Is that true?)

Danielj asked: “Is consciousness an object?”

It can be. Just as it is in our discussion. Do you understand what Objectivism means by ‘object’? Or, are you again trying to interpret Objectivism on your own unstated assumptions? What will that profit you?

I wrote: “We are exhibiting this ability right here in our discussion. What makes you think my position denies this? Or do you find it expedient to put words into my mouth for some reason?”

Danielj wrote: “Of course putting words into your mouth would be expedient (and I’ve got some very choice words for you) and funny, but I’ll refrain.”

Now that you’ve been caught red-handed, you’ve decided to refrain from this bad habit. Let’s see how long you can control it.

I wrote: “The primacy of existence is not a conclusion of prior inference.”

Danielj wrote: “It isn’t a valid conclusion”

It’s not a conclusion to begin with, Danielj. Do you not understand such basic issues?

Danielj wrote: “and is certainly, at the very most, a trivial ‘axiom’ as I pointed out in my last comment.”

Do you not recognize that you’re assuming the primacy of existence right here in this statement? Do you understand what the primacy of existence is?

Danielj wrote: “It is a stolen concept.”

Actually, the very charge that the primacy of existence is a stolen concept itself commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

I suspect that you really don’t understand what you’re talking about, otherwise you’d not make such blunders.

Danielj had written: “If you refuse to attribute eternal existence to consciousness you render your own system incoherent,”

I asked: “How so?”

Danielj responded: “Then it wouldn’t be an object, wouldn’t fall under the ‘existence exists’ axiom and it wouldn’t exist.”

Are you assuming that something must be eternal to be an object? I’m not sure how else to understand where you’re coming from here. It’s certainly not what Objectivism teaches. So again I suspect you’ve not really ever read any Objectivist literature, at least on the present topic.

I wrote: “Even if you assume that consciousness is eternal, this would not validate the notion that the subject and object share metaphysical ‘co-primacy’. I suspect that you do not fully understand the issue of metaphysical primacy. Perhaps you could explain what ‘co-primacy’ between consciousness and its objects would be like.”

Danielj wrote: “Consciousness either exists or it doesn’t.”

It does.

Danielj wrote: “If it exists then it is just as ‘prime’ as existence. If it isn’t an object than it doesn’t exist.”

Danielj, you clearly do not understand the issue of metaphysical primacy. It’s important for you to recognize this now before you go on making such blunders like this.

Danielj wrote: “Consciousness is not a sufficient condition for existence and neither is existence a sufficient condition for consciousness, therefore, they are co-prime.”

Again, you’re not addressing metaphysical primacy here. None of this is. The issue of metaphysical primacy pertains to the proper orientation between a subject and its objects in the subject-object relationship. What you’re talking about here has nothing to do with this. You’re not even in the ball park, let alone on the playing field.

I asked: “How is consciousness not an attribute of the entity which possesses it?”

Danielj asked: “What kind of attribute is it?”

A kind which belongs to the entity which possesses it. Consciousness is its own type of attribute.

Danielj wrote: “I already brought this up and you chose not to address it.”

I’ve addressed everything you’ve stated that seem to bear on the topic at hand. Much of what you have stated suggests very strongly that you’re unfamiliar with even the basic tenets of Objectivism on the topic at hand. It’s unclear even what your position is, if it were laid out explicitly. For instance, when asked how consciousness is not an attribute of the entity which possesses it, you fail to deliver any kind of reasoning for your view, and instead just ask a question (“What kind of attribute is it?”).

Danielj wrote: “It isn’t observable in anyway [sic]”

Do you mean that consciousness is not observable “in *any* way”? Why do you suppose this? I’m observing my own consciousness introspectively. If I were not able to do this, I’d never be able to form concepts of consciousness. But clearly I have.

Danielj wrote: “and does not exist by that standard.”

Well, that just blew your position out of the water.

Danielj asked: “Does it smell funny? Is it orange? Is it hot?”

You seem to be assuming that only concepts which pertain to the level of sensation should be allowed to apply. But why? Are you stuck at that level of consciousness? Have you not explored your own consciousness beyond the level of sensations? I almost feel sorry for you.

Danielj : “Either consciousness exists or it doesn’t. If it does, than [sic] it has always existed like everything else in existence.”

I asked: “Can you explain how you think this is supposed to follow?”

Danielj wrote: “Firstly, please don’t pull that [sic] crap unless it is truly essential to your argument.”

I’ll do whatever the hell I want, even if you disapprove. Don’t get sore at me if you don’t understand the difference between “then” and “than.”

Danielj wrote: “It follows from your axiom Dawson. Existence exists. The universe exists and has always existed. Nothing can ‘begin’ to exist, come into existence, or ‘develop’. Maybe you need to better explain what you mean by existence exists instead of just sweeping your arms around in a grand gesture?”

I’ve explained this in numerous places on my blog. It’s in the Objectivist literature that you said you’ve read. And still you make some very boneheaded blunders. I thought you said you had read up on this stuff. Your statements clearly show otherwise.

I wrote: “I’ve written on many of these topics on my blog. You might want to check it out as you’ve stumbled quite severely if you think your statements have been representative of my position.”

Danielj wrote: “Well, maybe they aren’t then. I certainly don’t wanna misrepresent you and I’m sorry if I did.”

What is that you thought you were doing? What is that you want to do, if not misrepresent my position? I would accept your apology if you showed some genuine interest in avoiding this bad habit. But I’ve not seen it yet. You haven’t got any of the basics down, and flail away at straw men.

Danielj: “I’d prefer to watch objectivists struggle for dear life over at the Maverick Philosphers page.”

Yes, I remember that guy. He had a lot of trouble getting the basics of Objectivism correct. See for instance here: http://katholon.com/Vallicella.htm

You’ll see that even Vallicella is prone to misrepresenting Objectivism.

Danielj: “I don’t have any time to waste on your blog.”

You’re like a lot of theists. Suddenly you’re out of time when it comes to interacting with a position that poses a challenge to their theism.

Next?

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

Where did I deny that consciousness develops? Didn’t you read what I wrote?

What are the necessary elements of consciousness Dawson? Do you, or do you not agree that biology is not sufficient for consciousness?

Where did I deny that consciousness develops? Didn’t you read what I wrote?

You didn’t explicitly deny it. You equated sensation with it, then, you proceed to declare sensation a type of consciousness.

I believe that you do it implicitly and unintentionally.

Do you think that sensation is not a form of consciousness?

No. I believe sensation is a part of and not a form of consciousness.

What do you mean by “free,” and how does your claim follow from the fact that consciousness is biological? It’s not self-evident.

I mean that biology is not sufficient for volition (or, freedom) which means that biology is not sufficient for consciousness. I don’t think consciousness is biology. I’m accusing you of that belief which I believe to be an absurd belief.

Do you have any arguments to back up your claims? Or just questions?

You know the arguments. You’ve proved you are capable of transcendental argumentation.

If you do not think consciousness is biological, what is it?

It is a God given soul that supervenes on biology, or something. I don’t know exactly.

It’s clear that you do not accept the primacy of existence. Why not go all the way?

You’re a genius! I’ve already tipped my hand in a wildly gesticulatory manner. I don’t accept the unequaled primacy of existence but I don’t go all the way on a first date Dawson.

Sensation is a form of consciousness.

How do you know that?

If an organism is sensing something, it is conscious of that something in sensory form.

What if it is hallucinating?

It’s not a matter of consciousness “following” sensation.

Then it is a matter of consciousness following biology, which, as I’ve already tried to explain, is a dog that doesn’t hunt because biology isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness.

Again, sensation is a form of consciousness.
So is perception. So is conceptualization.

So one could sense without perceiving or conceptualizing? Conceptualize without seeing or perceiving? It seems to me that they all “add up” to consciousness.

There are many forms of consciousness.

What else besides those three?

This is basic stuff.

Well, don’t lower yourself Dawson.

Are you assuming that something must be eternal to be an object?

No. Are do you assume that existence must be eternal for objects to be temporal?

Danielj asserted: “If it is simply biology it cannot be volitional.”

Why not? What is your argument for this? What assumptions of yours are driving conclusions like this? I’m biological, and I have a volitional form of consciousness. Why can’t it be biological? Is it just that your conception of biological is so narrow that it arbitrarily excludes volition? Or do you think there’s a legitimate reason for this? If so, please state it.

Biology is not sufficient for consciousness. Do you deny this?

If you do then I would suggest to you that plants are sentient and conscious and that alone serves as a reductio of your entire worldview. If you don’t then I would suggest to you that consciousness is biology in addition to something else. If you suggest that it is biology plus consciousness I would ask how (and where) consciousness exists independently of biology. If you would then retreat and suggest that consciousness is an attribute of biology I would start the whole ridiculous cycle all over again with you. So Dawson, is biology a sufficient condition for consciousness?

You might start with Binswanger’s The Metaphysics of Consciousness

I’ll check it out. I was thoroughly disappointed with your last recommendation to me (or perhaps it was recommended by somebody who frequents your blog), Piekoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Where did anything I write or that you found in the Objectivist literature deny man’s capacity for self-consciousness? That is the view you attributed to me. Where did you read this? Please, show me. I want to see.

Let’s get off this whole train. I was simply affirming in my own way that you (and all objectivists) deny the “primacy of consciousness” as you call it. It was unimportant and isn’t truly germane.

But seriously, where did I deny man’s capacity for self-consciousness?

See above. You have not denied it by your definition of self-consciousness.

My point is that consciousness must first be conscious of objects other than itself in order for it to be possible for consciousness to have itself as an object.

Please define object.

You’re like a lot of theists. Suddenly you’re out of time when it comes to interacting with a position that poses a challenge to their theism.

I’ve got time. I just like busting your balls. However, this is about the max length comment I can make while still attempting to follow a train of thought so I haven’t addressed everything you wrote. If you’d like me too, bring it up again in another comment. You’re too windy for me. Anyway, as for me, I’m gonna go oil up my space bar, then try to figure out the difference between then and than rather than interact with the argument while my brain is fuzzy.

danielj

If you’d like me too

Oh my gosh! Whoops! Watch out for Dawson the [sic] Nazi!

ZaoThanatoo

Agreus: “You haven’t addressed my concern rather you’ve just conveniently ignored it. By the way, stating “If (P *can* have knowledge of Q)” is very different than “If (P has knowledge of Q)”. We cannot conclude anything about what is actually the case regarding Q based off of the mere possibility of P having knowledge of Q as I pointed out previously.”

I asked you two questions based on your contention (which means I didn’t ignore it), which *you* ignored by not answering.

I guess that means you’re committed to the idea and you really are asserting that there is a modal fallacy in the definition of “knowledge” given in the argument. You believe “If P can have knowledge that Q” does not imply that “Q is true.”

P can only have knowledge that Q if Q is true. If Q ain’t true, whatever P has ain’t knowledge. What alternative propositional definition of “knowledge” would you offer that doesn’t commit your purported modal fallacy?

I frankly don’t think you’ve understood the argument since your position is that since the “crux” of the argument is one of the most prevalent definitions of “knowledge,” therefore it crumbles because you say it commits a modal fallacy (without demonstration).

You can have the final word on this one. I think you’ve said enough already to show you don’t “know” what you’re talking about.

Dawson Bethrick

I asked: “Where did I deny that consciousness develops? Didn’t you read what I wrote?”

Danielj responded: “What are the necessary elements of consciousness Dawson?”

Notice that Danielj does not show where I allegedly deny that consciousness develops. He said that I denied “proto consciousness,” but anyone who examines the record will see that I did not do this. It’s not even been discussed beyond his broaching of the notion.

As for the necessary elements of consciousness, I would list the following as bare minimums:

– To be conscious, an organism needs some means by which it acquires awareness of objects, e.g., sensory organs, a nervous system, a brain, etc.
– Consciousness requires an object to be conscious of (the notion of “consciousness of nothing” is a non-starter)
– Consciousness requires a purpose, e.g., as a means of survival for the organism possessing it.

Danielj asked: “Do you, or do you not agree that biology is not sufficient for consciousness?”

It’s not entirely clear to me what exactly this question is asking. Since consciousness is a biological phenomenon, an organism must have certain biological structures in order for it to be conscious. But not all biological organisms have these structures. So saying “biology is sufficient for consciousness” is somewhat broad and may be misunderstood. But if the biological organism has certain structures which give it consciousness of objects, then its biology is clearly sufficient in such cases.

I wrote: “Where did I deny that consciousness develops? Didn’t you read what I wrote?”

Danielj responded: “You didn’t explicitly deny it.”

No, I didn’t. I didn’t implicitly deny it either. My points about a fetus developing the organs needed for consciousness should clearly indicate that consciousness does develop, just as do heartbeat, respiration, circulation, etc. Consciousness is a biological function, just as these other functions are biological functions. Show us a non-biological entity which has consciousness (and actually exists). I am unaware of any.

Danielj wrote: “You equated sensation with it, then, you proceed to declare sensation a type of consciousness.”

My points have all along been consistent with the view that sensation is a type of consciousness.

Danielj wrote: “I believe that you do it implicitly and unintentionally.”

I asked you to show me where I denied a position, not what you happen to believe. At any rate, I hope you understand now.

I asked: “Do you think that sensation is not a form of consciousness?”

Danielj wrote: “No. I believe sensation is a part of and not a form of consciousness.”

For developed human beings, sensation is definitely part of our conscious experience. But this does not constitute a point of evidence against the recognition that sensation is a form of consciousness. Many organisms have not reached the perceptual level of consciousness, and have only sensation as their means of acquiring consciousness of objects. On Danielj’s view, these organisms are apparently not conscious. But this is arbitrary.

I asked: “What do you mean by “free,” and how does your claim follow from the fact that consciousness is biological? It’s not self-evident.”

Danielj responded: “I mean that biology is not sufficient for volition (or, freedom) which means that biology is not sufficient for consciousness.”

Notice that Danielj does not address my question. Instead, he simply asserts that “biology is not sufficient for volition,” without argument, perhaps because he “believes” that “biology is not sufficient for consciousness,” again a position for which he has provided no argument at all. I’m guessing that’s because he has a faith to defend.

Danielj continued: “I don’t think consciousness is biology. I’m accusing you of that belief which I believe to be an absurd belief.”

Either you do not understand what you read, or you are simply careless. I stated very clearly that consciousness is biological, not biology proper. Biology includes many other things, such as musculature, circulation, respiration, etc. So it’s unclear what you’re calling “an absurd belief.” Besides, on theistic grounds, what could possibly be “absurd”? You must be borrowing from my worldview. That would account for your clumsy use of the concept.

I asked: “Do you have any arguments to back up your claims? Or just questions?”

Danielj responded: “You know the arguments. You’ve proved you are capable of transcendental argumentation.”

I was specifically asking for you to provide some sort of argument (something more substantial than merely your belief or unsupported assertion) for the view that *if* consciousness is biological, “then the will is not free.” I’ve asked you to define your term “free,” which you failed to do, and I asked you to provide an argument for the view you have affirmed. But you produce no argument. Are you stalling so that you can think of one?

I wrote: “If you do not think consciousness is biological, what is it?”

Danielj responded: “It is a God given soul that supervenes on biology, or something. I don’t know exactly.”

Your god is imaginary, Danielj. If you choose to be honest to yourself one day, you will recognize this. I realize that it’s difficult right now.

I wrote: “It’s clear that you do not accept the primacy of existence. Why not go all the way?”

You’re a genius! I’ve already tipped my hand in a wildly gesticulatory manner. I don’t accept the unequaled primacy of existence but I don’t go all the way on a first date Dawson.”

Again, I find I need to ask this: do you know what the primacy of existence means? To say that the primacy of existence is not true is in fact to assume its truth. Do you understand why? I’ve explained this from a variety of perspectives in a variety of contexts on my blog.

I wrote: “Sensation is a form of consciousness.”

Danielj asked: “How do you know that?”

By means of reason.

I wrote: “It’s not a matter of consciousness ‘following’ sensation.”

Danielj wrote: “Then it is a matter of consciousness following biology, which, as I’ve already tried to explain, is a dog that doesn’t hunt because biology isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness.”

Your “explanation” has so far consisted simply of your unsupported denials. Do you think that dog hunts?

I wrote: “Again, sensation is a form of consciousness. So is perception. So is conceptualization.”

Danielj responded: “So one could sense without perceiving or conceptualizing?”

Yes. Many organisms have not reached the perceptual level of consciousness (and therefore not reached the conceptual level of consciousness as well). Moreover, many organisms have reached the perceptual level of consciousness, but have not achieved the ability to conceptualize.

Danielj wrote: “Conceptualize without seeing or perceiving?”

Human beings who have been blind from birth have been able to conceptualize without seeing, but they had to perceive in some form in order to conceptualize. Rand’s study of Helen Keller is remarkable on this topic.

Danielj wrote: “It seems to me that they all ‘add up’ to consciousness.”

You’re assuming strictly human consciousness. Human consciousness is not representative of the type of consciousness which all organisms possess. All biological organisms which possess consciousness have at least the level of sensations; many have the ability to perceive objects qua objects; so far as we can firmly establish, only human beings have achieved the conceptual level of consciousness. But all three levels are types of consciousness. Sensation is the most primitive species of consciousness; perception is more primitive than conceptual consciousness. Perceptual consciousness would not be possible without sensations, and conceptual consciousness would not be possible without perceptual consciousness.

I wrote: “There are many forms of consciousness.”

Danielj asked: “What else besides those three?”

When you get to the perceptual level, there is memory. Dogs, which operate on the perceptual level of consciousness, can remember how to get back to their owners homes, for instance. When you get to the conceptual level of consciousness, in addition to memory there is something called imagination. Many worldviews fail to equip their adherents to distinguish between reality and imagination properly.

I asked: “Are you assuming that something must be eternal to be an object?”

Danielj responded: “No.”

Then I’m having difficulty understanding what you stated.

Danielj asked: “Are do you assume that existence must be eternal for objects to be temporal?”

No. Did you think I was?

Danielj asserted: “If it is simply biology it cannot be volitional.”

I asked: “Why not? What is your argument for this? What assumptions of yours are driving conclusions like this? I’m biological, and I have a volitional form of consciousness. Why can’t it be biological? Is it just that your conception of biological is so narrow that it arbitrarily excludes volition? Or do you think there’s a legitimate reason for this? If so, please state it.”

Danielj wrote: “Biology is not sufficient for consciousness. Do you deny this?”

See above.

Danielj wrote: “If you do then I would suggest to you that plants are sentient and conscious and that alone serves as a reductio of your entire worldview.”

Again, see above.

Danielj wrote: “If you don’t then I would suggest to you that consciousness is biology in addition to something else.”

No, organisms which possess consciousness are still biological organisms. There’s no “in addition” here.

I wrote: “You might start with Binswanger’s The Metaphysics of Consciousness”

Danielj wrote: “I’ll check it out.”

You will?

Danielj wrote: “I was thoroughly disappointed with your last recommendation to me (or perhaps it was recommended by somebody who frequents your blog), Piekoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

That’s a great book!

I asked: “Where did anything I write or that you found in the Objectivist literature deny man’s capacity for self-consciousness? That is the view you attributed to me. Where did you read this? Please, show me. I want to see.”

Let’s get off this whole train. I was simply affirming in my own way that you (and all objectivists) deny the ‘primacy of consciousness’ as you call it. It was unimportant and isn’t truly germane.”

So, are you taking back your claim that I deny man’s capacity for self-consciousness?

I wrote: “My point is that consciousness must first be conscious of objects other than itself in order for it to be possible for consciousness to have itself as an object.”

Danielj wrote: “Please define object.”

For the purposes of the topic of our conversation, an object is any thing (be it an entity, an attribute, an action, a relationship, etc.) of which one is conscious, whether by means of sensation, perception or conceptualization.

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

Notice that Danielj does not show where I allegedly deny that consciousness develops. He said that I denied “proto consciousness,” but anyone who examines the record will see that I did not do this. It’s not even been discussed beyond his broaching of the notion.

Ridiculous!

How do you not get what I’m saying?

Do believe in proto consciousness of any kind? You denied that particles were “conscious” in any way. Do you believe in proto consciousness now? Are there smaller “conscious” entities that combine to form consciousness?

As for the necessary elements of consciousness, I would list the following as bare minimums:

– To be conscious, an organism needs some means by which it acquires awareness of objects, e.g., sensory organs, a nervous system, a brain, etc.
– Consciousness requires an object to be conscious of (the notion of “consciousness of nothing” is a non-starter)
– Consciousness requires a purpose, e.g., as a means of survival for the organism possessing it.

1) Sensory organs are biology

Strange, since you are an objectivist, that you didn’t start with two here.

So consciousness is biology plus an object (which would reduce to existence in my opinion) plus a purpose? That is still just biology Dawson. You’ve also introduced the superfluous notion of “purpose” as well. Purpose isn’t an object and it does not exist. It is a convenient, ad-hoc invention of yours.

It’s not entirely clear to me what exactly this question is asking.

The extremely simple question: Is biology alone a sufficient condition for consciousness?

Since consciousness is a biological phenomenon, an organism must have certain biological structures in order for it to be conscious.

That biology is a necessary condition for consciousness doesn’t mean it is sufficient. We are back to where we were before.

But not all biological organisms have these structures. So saying “biology is sufficient for consciousness” is somewhat broad and may be misunderstood.

That is because it isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness.

But if the biological organism has certain structures which give it consciousness of objects, then its biology is clearly sufficient in such cases.

That just does not follow from the simple fact that it is not sufficient in other cases.

For developed human beings, sensation is definitely part of our conscious experience. But this does not constitute a point of evidence against the recognition that sensation is a form of consciousness. Many organisms have not reached the perceptual level of consciousness, and have only sensation as their means of acquiring consciousness of objects. On Danielj’s view, these organisms are apparently not conscious. But this is arbitrary.

So, sensation isn’t a sufficient condition for perception or concept-formation? Sensation, in addition to what, is sufficient for perception?

So, are you taking back your claim that I deny man’s capacity for self-consciousness?

No, because what I ultimately meant was that you deny, what you would call, the primacy of consciousness. Please stop quibbling about nonsense.

No. Did you think I was?

You don’t believe that existence exists and has done so eternally?

Danielj wrote: “I’ll check it out.”

You will?

Yes. I’m sure they won’t have it a Barnes and Noble though.

danielj

the notion of “consciousness of nothing” is a non-starter

I’m not sure I agree with this either.

Isn’t “nothing” a concept? Isn’t “things that don’t exist” a concept as well?

Dawson Bethrick

Danielj asked: “Do believe in proto consciousness of any kind?”

It depends on what “proto consciousness” refers to. This has not been explained.

Danielj wrote: “Do you believe in proto consciousness now?”

Again, it depends on what it is taken to refer to. At this point it is just as undefined as when you first introduced it. Do you ever explain your terms?

Danielj wrote: “Strange, since you are an objectivist, that you didn’t start with two here.”

Why do you find that strange? I was not listing them in any particular order. All three are necessary elements.

Danielj asked: “So consciousness is biology plus an object (which would reduce to existence in my opinion) plus a purpose?”

Purpose is concurrent with biology, Danielj. Non-living things are not inherently purposive.

Danielj wrote: “That is still just biology Dawson.”

Yep. As I said: consciousness is biological. I’ve asked for you to name one non-biological thing which actually exists and possesses consciousness. You’ve not produced it.

Danielj wrote: “You’ve also introduced the superfluous notion of ‘purpose’ as well.”

You asked me to identify the criteria necessary for consciousness. How is purpose superfluous? Purpose is concurrent with biology because goal-orientation is inherently biological. Living organisms pursue goals; this is part of their living condition. It is not superfluous in any way. Non-living things do not pursue goals.

Danielj wrote: “Purpose isn’t an object and it does not exist. It is a convenient, ad-hoc invention of yours.”

You’re speaking autobiographically here, showing us how little you understand about purpose. Purpose refers to a condition which is present in biology.

Danielj wrote: “The extremely simple question: Is biology alone a sufficient condition for consciousness?

And I addressed this. Let me spell it out for you: if an organism possesses consciousness, then clearly its biology is a sufficient condition for consciousness. Try to understand that there’s a context here.

I wrote: “But not all biological organisms have these structures. So saying “biology is sufficient for consciousness” is somewhat broad and may be misunderstood.”

Danielj wrote: “That is because it isn’t a sufficient condition for consciousness.”

Again, you’re misleading yourself. We can only address the question on a case by case basis, taking into account the particulars of an organism’s biology (since that’s what the question is asking about). A plant for instance lacks the necessary biological structures for sensation. Thus, its biology is insufficient for consciousness. A dog, however, does have the biological structures which give it the ability to perceive. Thus its biology clearly is sufficient for perception. You’re arbitrarily looking for a one-size-fits-all rule which ignores the context of various situations found in nature.

It’s like asking: “Is biology sufficient for flight?” Well, some organisms’ biology is sufficient for flight, while others are not. To salvage any hope for objective meaning to your question, it should be revised. For instance, *which* organism’s biology is sufficient for consciousness? Answer: those organisms which possess consciousness. Show me an organism which possesses consciousness and yet whose biology is insufficient for consciousness. If you can’t do this, then my position on the matter remains unchallenged.

I wrote: “But if the biological organism has certain structures which give it consciousness of objects, then its biology is clearly sufficient in such cases.”

Danielj responded: “That just does not follow from the simple fact that it is not sufficient in other cases.”

Again, you’re looking for something completely arbitrary here. Why wouldn’t we take into account the particulars of each case, from species to species, in considering the question? Each organism has its own biological identity. Why arbitrarily ignore this fact?

I wrote: “For developed human beings, sensation is definitely part of our conscious experience. But this does not constitute a point of evidence against the recognition that sensation is a form of consciousness. Many organisms have not reached the perceptual level of consciousness, and have only sensation as their means of acquiring consciousness of objects. On Danielj’s view, these organisms are apparently not conscious. But this is arbitrary.”

Danielj wrote: “So, sensation isn’t a sufficient condition for perception or concept-formation? Sensation, in addition to what, is sufficient for perception?”

There is a profound distinction between sensation and perception, just as there is a profound distinction between perception and conceptualization. A minimum requirement for perception is the ability to integrate sensations into a single unit, giving an entity awareness of entities qua entities. This ability is biological, but not all organisms have this. A minimum requirement for conceptualization is the ability to integrate percepts into open-ended unities by a process of abstraction. This ability is biological, but not all organisms have this.

I asked: “So, are you taking back your claim that I deny man’s capacity for self-consciousness?”

Danielj responded: “No, because what I ultimately meant was that you deny, what you would call, the primacy of consciousness.”

Oh, of course I deny the primacy of existence. Performatively, you do too. Only you don’t realize it yet.

But if you’re equating self-consciousness with the primacy of consciousness, or somehow think these are one and the same, or suppose that denying the primacy of consciousness entails or is tantamount a denial of self-consciousness, then clearly you’re confused on the meaning of at least one of these concepts. From what I’ve seen, it’s very possible that you’re confused on both.

I asked: “No. Did you think I was?”

Danielj wrote: “You don’t believe that existence exists and has done so eternally?”

Of course, existence is eternal. Time presupposes existence.

But that is not what you were asking. You asked: “Are do you assume that existence must be eternal for objects to be temporal?” And in response to this question, I answered no, because I don’t assume that existence must be eternal (in order) for objects to be temporal.

I wrote: “the notion of “consciousness of nothing” is a non-starter

Danielj asked: “I’m not sure I agree with this either. Isn’t ‘nothing’ a concept? Isn’t ‘things that don’t exist’ a concept as well?”

You’re confusing yourself. I was not stating that consciousness *of the concept ‘nothing’* is a non-starter. Rather, my point was that the notion of a consciousness without an object to be conscious of is a non-starter. It’s a contradiction in terms. You wouldn’t say that an organism is conscious, and then say “Well, it’s not conscious of anything.” If it’s not conscious of anything (i.e., no objects), how can one say it’s conscious?

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

Purpose is concurrent with biology, Danielj. Non-living things are not inherently purposive.

Purpose, like purposeful? Like volitional?

And I addressed this. Let me spell it out for you: if an organism possesses consciousness, then clearly its biology is a sufficient condition for consciousness. Try to understand that there’s a context here.

You’ll now admit that consciousness reduces to biology?

Dawson Bethrick

I wrote: “Purpose is concurrent with biology, Danielj. Non-living things are not inherently purposive.”

Danielj asked: “Purpose, like purposeful? Like volitional?”

Not all purpose is volitional. In fact, statistically speaking, very little is volitional. For instance, your heart beats for a purpose, but it is not regulated by volition. A plant’s roots pull water and nutrients from the ground for a purpose, but this action is not volitionally initiated.

I wrote: “And I addressed this. Let me spell it out for you: if an organism possesses consciousness, then clearly its biology is a sufficient condition for consciousness. Try to understand that there’s a context here.”

Danielj asked: “You’ll now admit that consciousness reduces to biology?”

I’ve addressed this already. My position has not changed. Scroll up and read again if you did not catch it the first time.

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

Not all purpose is volitional.

That is what I was getting at.

For instance, your heart beats for a purpose, but it is not regulated by volition.

What purpose is that? To pump blood? For what purpose is the heart pumping blood? Are you admitting final causes here?

A plant’s roots pull water and nutrients from the ground for a purpose,

No they don’t. They just do it like a pair of Nikes.

I’ve addressed this already. My position has not changed. Scroll up and read again if you did not catch it the first time.

If human beings are purely and entirely circumscribed by their biology, I fail to see how you aren’t just a run-o-the-mill materialist.

Dawson Bethrick

I wrote: “For instance, your heart beats for a purpose, but it is not regulated by volition.”

Danielj asked: “What purpose is that? To pump blood? For what purpose is the heart pumping blood? Are you admitting final causes here?”

I thought you said you had read Objectivist literature. You don’t seem familiar with Objectivism at all.

“…admitting final causes…”? What do you mean “admitting”? With rhetoric like this, you make it sound like you think I’m making some kind of concession here. But if you were familiar with Objectivism, you wouldn’t do this (unless you simply insisted on being dishonest).

According to Objectivism, life is an end in itself. The organism’s actions are purposive in that they serve to meet the goal of living life.

Danielj wrote: “If human beings are purely and entirely circumscribed by their biology,”

I’m not sure what you mean by “purely and entirely circumscribed by their biology.” You make it sound as though human beings were some kind of alien substance encased in meat, implying that they are really something other than biological. If you do not think human beings are biological organisms, would you state this explicitly for the record? You don’t have to explain why – I already know that you embrace the primacy of consciousness.

Danielj wrote: “I fail to see how you aren’t just a run-o-the-mill materialist.”

Yes, there is much that you fail to see, Danielj. I submit that this is because you ascribe to a worldview which systemically stifles your understanding of reality.

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

I thought you said you had read Objectivist literature.

I told you I read Piekoff’s Objectivism. I read it once. I’ll probably not read it again.

With rhetoric like this, you make it sound like you think I’m making some kind of concession here. But if you were familiar with Objectivism, you wouldn’t do this (unless you simply insisted on being dishonest).

Phrase it how you wish.

You don’t have to explain why

Okiedokie.

Yes, there is much that you fail to see, Danielj. I submit that this is because you ascribe to a worldview which systemically stifles your understanding of reality.

Just so you know, I don’t have a problem understanding you. I actually, overstand you homeboy.

Dawson Bethrick

“I actually, overstand you homeboy.”

No you don’t.

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

Do you even listen to Nas?

Dawson Bethrick

Danielj asked: “Do you even listen to Nas?”

I can’t say I do. I do not know the reference.

Do you have any more questions? I have established my posiiton and have shown your challenges to be far too insufficient to put any kind of dent in it.

Anything else?

Regards,
Dawson

danielj

Do you have any more questions? I have established my posiiton and have shown your challenges to be far too insufficient to put any kind of dent in it.

I challenge you to a duel Dawson. In the form of boxing or wrestling.

Dawson Bethrick

How about music?

Pick your instrument.

I’ve got the piano.

danielj

Drum off bro!

I’ll get back to you after I’ve finished Bingswangerdong. I also promise to argue in *better* faith next time if you promise to lighten up. Otherwise, I’ll just go talk to Harry.

Dawson Bethrick

Danielj: “I’ll get back to you after I’ve finished Bingswangerdong.”

Yes, let me know: sortion@hotmail.com

Danielj: “I also promise to argue in *better* faith next time if you promise to lighten up.”

I’m as light as I can go. Just be honest, is all I ask.

Danielj: “Otherwise, I’ll just go talk to Harry.”

I most definitely encourage it. Let me know what you learn.

Regards,
Dawson

Agreus

Zao,

I just read your comment and have to respond. The JTB analysis of truth does not involve modality, which is what your argument introduces. That is something that you don’t seem to grasp. I suggest you read more about the JTB Analysis of Knowledge here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-analysis/#REM

Do you see the difference between:

P knows that Q is true, if Q is true… (JTB definition)

and…

If P can know that Q is true, Q is true… (your original definition)

Familiarize yourself with modal logic. The problem of course is that if you were to strictly use the JTB definition of knowledge, then statement [4] of your argument would not follow from statement [3]. Oh well. Nice try.

C.L. Bolt

Recall that Agreus originally wrote, “Are there any good non-fallacious arguments for theism that require effort by serious atheist philosophers to defend their disbelief in God? Atheism isn’t really a position that needs to be defended anymore than a disbelief in Zeus is a position that needs to be defended.”

The comment was representative of the fundamentalist atheism the original post highlighted. Sixty-some comments later after having to pause to study a well-known theistic proof in order to defend his disbelief in God he continues to exert effort in answering the theists.

Thank you Agreus, for proving my point. 😉

Agreus

Chris,

I suppose you might have a point if you considered explaining to someone the fallacies of their argument as being somehow the equivilant of defending a disbelief in the conclusion of their argument. But these are not the equivilant of one another and I haven’t presented any defense of atheism, so you are incorrect. The effort I am exerting is trying to explain to Tao the problems with his argument, not an effort to defend atheism.

C.L. Bolt

They are the equivalent of each other given your definition of atheism.

Agreus

Atheism is simply the lack of a theistic belief. I don’t understand how they are equivilant based off of this definition. Perhaps you can clarify?

C.L. Bolt

Given your understanding of atheism you have to explain the alleged fallacious nature of theistic arguments in order to *defend* your atheism because if there is *even one* good theistic proof you must relinquish your position. I fail to see how stating, “The arguments that I am currently aware of are fallacious” really helps your case in terms of coming in with guns blazing talking about there being no need to defend atheism because *you* have not come across any good non-fallacious arguments for theism. You were not even familiar with the fine-tuning argument from Collins and thus the confidence you displayed in your initial comment serves to undermine your credibility concerning your own position. It is not difficult to subtly compare the evidence and arguments for the existence of the tooth fairy to the evidence and arguments for the existence of God, but I am asking you for something more than a typical fundy atheist response. You say that you are unaware of a good argument for theism and hence your version of atheism (a lack of belief in God) is grounded in ignorance. I asked if you would concede that the concept of God is coherent or if you would say that the concept of God is incoherent and you responded by asking me which concept of God I am referring to. Given the nature of the site and your constant use of “God” throughout the course of the conversation prior to my question I think you already know which concept of God I am referring to. Do you find the concept of the Christian God coherent or incoherent?

Agreus

“Given your understanding of atheism you have to explain the alleged fallacious nature of theistic arguments in order to *defend* your atheism because if there is *even one* good theistic proof you must relinquish your position.”

Actually, there is no necessity for me to relinquish my position, though if I did come across a good argument for theism, being the reasonable person that I am, I would become a theist. I do feel personally obligated to analyze the theistic proofs for God presented to me. To date, I have yet to find a non-fallacious argument. I don’t regard my pointing out the fallaciousness of an argument as being a defense of atheism because a defense would require that I present an argument defending atheism, which simply isn’t the case.

Your last paragraph in your last comment seems to be a bit disjointed as you ramble from point to point without making any argument. In any case, to answer your last question, there are many different concepts of God and the Christian God is one of the more incoherent ones.

C.L. Bolt

There was only one paragraph in my last comment and the contents referred back to the section of this discussion where I was involved prior to my absence.

You claim that the concept of the Christian God is incoherent, but this is inconsistent with your claim that “There may be arguments that I am unaware of that are good arguments so I leave that possibility open…” There cannot be good arguments or even the possibility of the existence of God if the very concept of God is incoherent. Additionally, this is a stronger form of atheism than your definition allows for. You must not merely lack belief in God, but rather take the position that God *cannot exist* given your claim that the concept of the Christian God is incoherent.

Now you are writing that you feel obligated to analyze the theistic proofs for God when initially you were dismissing the need to interact with them given their fallacious nature.

Your position does not appear to have been very well thought out.

C.L. Bolt

By the way, you also now carry a burden of proof, something I believe you were attempting to avoid through your adoption of the weaker “lack of belief” definition. Your atheism must be defended contrary to your earlier claim that it need not be.

Mitchell LeBlanc

If I were Chris, I wouldn’t even accept this “lack of belief” definition. It certainly is not clear to me how Agreus’ position differs from what we call agnosticism. If he wants to present it as something other than agnosticism, then he certainly does carry a burden of proof. This definition of atheism (lack of belief) has I think led many atheists to act absolutely ridiculous. I suppose one is prone to act brazen when they think their position entails that they can be right without having to do any intellectual legwork.

Just as a side note, it seems perfectly coherent to me that an atheist may find a particular conclusion of some theistic argument to be sound, and still remain an atheist. The important matter is whether or not, in a situation where someone has good arguments on both sides, the arguments of one particular side are ‘weightier’.

Agreus

“There cannot be good arguments or even the possibility of the existence of God if the very concept of God is incoherent.”

I was very specific when I stated the Christian God is incoherent. I can leave open the possibility of good arguments for the existence of God and at the same time believe the Christian God is incoherent.

“You must not merely lack belief in God, but rather take the position that God *cannot exist* given your claim that the concept of the Christian God is incoherent.”

As I stated, I can claim that the *Christian God* is incoherent, whereas I am still open to the possibility of the existence of God. Contrary to what you may think, Christianity doesn’t hold a patent on the concept of God.

“Now you are writing that you feel obligated to analyze the theistic proofs for God when initially you were dismissing the need to interact with them given their fallacious nature”

I never initially dismissed my own personal feelings of obligation to analyze the arguments for God’s existence, especially considering that I am asking others to present non-fallacious arguments to me.

Dawson Bethrick

The proper definition of the concept ‘atheism’ is in fact absence of god-belief. Theism = god-belief, a-theism = no god-belief, lack of god-belief, absence of god-belief. Atheism and non-theism are essentially one and the same.

Agnosticism is not lack of belief. On the contrary, agnosticism is the position that certainty on some matter is unattainable, and may apply to any topic, whether theism or something else (cf. “moral agnostic”).

Thus a person who has certainty on the issue of theism and who also does not believe there is a god, is clearly not an agnostic. For instance, I am wholly certain that god-belief is irrational, and I do not believe in any gods. So I am an atheist, since I lack belief in any god, but I am not an agnostic on the issue, since I am certain. As for burden of proving the irrationality of theism, I have lots of material to share with anyone who is interested. It’s publicly available on my blog and my website.

It should also be pointed out that there is certainly no such thing as a burden to prove that the non-existent does not exist. If something does not exist, it does not exist, and no one needs to prove that it does not exist. If an individual claims that something exists and wants others who do not believe this to change their views on it, the burden of proof rests with him. If he does not attempt to meet this burden, or fails to meet it in trying, he should be prepared to live with the result that others remain unpersuaded to his view.

As for atheists acting “absolutely ridiculous,” it’s unclear how one can know that that the cause of ridiculous behavior can be attributed to one mere definition in their vocabulary. But perhaps Mitch has examples of this, and if so I’d be interested in seeing them.

Regards,
Dawson

Agreus

“If I were Chris, I wouldn’t even accept this “lack of belief” definition.”

He doesn’t have to accept my definition, but that is what I am. I simply do not believe in god(s). Most people would agree that this is what an atheist is by definition. I am by no means a “strong atheist” who would boldly assert that “God does not exit.”

” I suppose one is prone to act brazen when they think their position entails that they can be right without having to do any intellectual legwork.”

Weak atheism is by no means a position that entails not having to do any intellectual legwork. To the contrary, rather than accepting positions on mere faith, we suspend judgement until we have carefully analyzed the arguments and evidence.

C.L. Bolt

If you have been referring to all concepts of God simultaneously in your use of the term throughout the discussion you are still in the same position since you will not allow for the possibility of the existence of the Christian God and all other concepts of gods which you find incoherent. However, you have contradictorily stated that you do allow for such a possibility and hence also the possibility of a good theistic argument(s).

My Satanist friend believes that self is god, but I don’t suppose you lack belief in the existence of your self. I’ve also had friends tell me that the universe is god, and I doubt that you’d want to say that you lack belief in the universe either.

You say that you are unaware of a good argument for theism and hence your version of atheism (a lack of belief in God) is grounded in ignorance.

However with respect to the Christian God your statement, ” I am by no means a ‘strong atheist’ who would boldly assert that “God does not exit [sic]” is false.

So, you’ve been unclear and/or inconsistent and you have a burden of proof; all according to your own position.

Agreus

“If you have been referring to all concepts of God simultaneously in your use of the term throughout the discussion you are still in the same position since you will not allow for the possibility of the existence of the Christian God and all other concepts of gods which you find incoherent.”

I never referred to all concepts simultaneously when I said the Christian God was incoherent during this discussion.

“You say that you are unaware of a good argument for theism and hence your version of atheism (a lack of belief in God) is grounded in ignorance.”

No, it’s grounded in not being aware of a good argument for theism. I don’t ignore the arguments.

“However with respect to the Christian God your statement, ” I am by no means a ’strong atheist’ who would boldly assert that “God does not exit [sic]” is false.”

The Christian Bibilical God does appear incoherent to me, HOWEVER that does not mean my mind cannot be changed if a good argument is presented demonstrating the Christian God’s existence. I still leave that possibility open and I acknowledge that I am not perfect in my reasoning.

C.L. Bolt

What concept of God were you referring to during the course of the conversation?

Ignorance is not the same thing as ignoring.

You have not affirmed a merely apparent incoherence in the concept of the Christian God in your statements but rather an actual incoherence:

“As I stated, I can claim that the *Christian God* is incoherent, whereas I am still open to the possibility of the existence of God.”

“…there are many different concepts of God and the Christian God is one of the more incoherent ones…”

You affirmed that the concept of the Christian God *is incoherent*, even stating that it “is one of the more incoherent ones.” Apparent incoherence without actual incoherence is possible, but actual incoherence is not merely apparent incoherence. Did you want to say that you do not know whether or not the concept of the Christian God is coherent? Even if you say that it is only apparently incoherent, you still carry a burden of proof!

Agreus

I have been referring to the one common to most theologians, which is God having the attibutes of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. When I refer to the Christian God, I’m referring to the God of the Bible.

“Ignorance is not the same thing as ignoring.”

Alright, but you make it appear as though I am somehow unenlightened merely because I am not aware of good theistic proofs. If you are aware of good arguments, then by all means present them. Calling some ignorant because they don’t share your belief in some supernatural deity is just plain silly.

“You have not affirmed a merely apparent incoherence in the concept of the Christian God in your statements but rather an actual incoherence:”

The Christian God actually does appear to be incoherent to me at this actual point in time. That is all there is to it. I’m not sure where your confusion lies.

C.L. Bolt

“I have been referring to the one common to most theologians, which is God having the attibutes of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence.”

You were unclear about this but the definition still includes the Christian concept of God and so you are still stuck with the inconsistencies outlined above. Additionally you wrote, “Contrary to what you may think, Christianity doesn’t hold a patent on the concept of God.” Right, and contrary to what you may think, your unidentified “theologians” do not hold a patent on the concept of God either. 😉

“Alright, but you make it appear as though I am somehow unenlightened”

I don’t know what you mean by “unenlightened”. I think you appear intelligent, but you do not appear to have given as much thought to your position as you may have previously believed.

“…merely because I am not aware of good theistic proofs.”

For the sake of the argument I am not assuming that there are any good theistic proofs. I am merely pointing out that you are an atheist due to ignorance given your own admissions. It is not necessarily that there are good theistic proofs that you are ignorant of, but rather that you are ignorant of whether or not there are any.

“If you are aware of good arguments, then by all means present them.”

An inquiry concerning the consistency of your position including your current view of how your position is related to any such arguments I might present should precede a discussion like that. Atheists, and I am not saying this necessarily applies to you, tend to want to make demands for evidence when a discussion has not even taken place concerning such questions as whether or not facts are related or unrelated to one another, what constitutes evidence, and whether or not evidence is even needed in the first place! The approach is sophomoric and mistaken.

“Calling some ignorant because they don’t share your belief in some supernatural deity is just plain silly.”

I did not do this.

“The Christian God actually does appear to be incoherent to me at this actual point in time.”

Yes I know, this is consistent with your claims that the concept of the Christian God is *actually* and not merely *apparently* incoherent. Again:

“As I stated, I can claim that the *Christian God* is incoherent, whereas I am still open to the possibility of the existence of God.”

“…there are many different concepts of God and the Christian God is one of the more incoherent ones…”

You have not affirmed a merely *apparent* incoherence in the concept of the Christian God in your statements but rather an *actual* incoherence. Saying that the “Christian God actually does appear to be incoherent” is to merely reaffirm the apparent incoherence in the concept of the Christian God which is entailed by your claims that the concept of the Christian God is actually incoherent.

“That is all there is to it.”

Again, just adding “actually does appear” to your statements concerning the apparent incoherence of the concept in question is completely irrelevant to the problems which exist due to your claims that the concept of the Christian God is actually incoherent.

“I’m not sure where your confusion lies.”

I’m not confused.

C.L. Bolt

Also: Did you want to say that you do not know whether or not the concept of the Christian God is coherent? Even if you say that it is only apparently incoherent, you still carry a burden of proof!

Bruce

The proper definition of the concept ‘atheism’ is in fact absence of god-belief. Theism = god-belief, a-theism = no god-belief, lack of god-belief, absence of god-belief. Atheism and non-theism are essentially one and the same.

Agnosticism is not lack of belief. On the contrary, agnosticism is the position that certainty on some matter is unattainable, and may apply to any topic, whether theism or something else (cf. “moral agnostic”).

Thus a person who has certainty on the issue of theism and who also does not believe there is a god, is clearly not an agnostic. For instance, I am wholly certain that god-belief is irrational, and I do not believe in any gods. So I am an atheist, since I lack belief in any god, but I am not an agnostic on the issue, since I am certain. As for burden of proving the irrationality of theism, I have lots of material to share with anyone who is interested. It’s publicly available on my blog and my website.

It should also be pointed out that there is certainly no such thing as a burden to prove that the non-existent does not exist. If something does not exist, it does not exist, and no one needs to prove that it does not exist. If an individual claims that something exists and wants others who do not believe this to change their views on it, the burden of proof rests with him. If he does not attempt to meet this burden, or fails to meet it in trying, he should be prepared to live with the result that others remain unpersuaded to his view.

As for atheists acting “absolutely ridiculous,” it’s unclear how one can know that that the cause of ridiculous behavior can be attributed to one mere definition in their vocabulary. But perhaps Mitch has examples of this, and if so I’d be interested in seeing them.

Regards,
Dawson

Agreus

“An inquiry concerning the consistency of your position including your current view of how your position is related to any such arguments I might present should precede a discussion like that.”

It almost sounds as though (by your reasoning) when someone proposes the existence of x, others must first prove that their own worldviews, which do not include the existence of the proposed x, are consistent. This is the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof. Whenever you claim the existence of x and claim to have a reasoned defense of this claim, then you must support your own claim. Now if you choose not to provide a reasoned defense of your claim and just desire to find logical inconsistencies in the worldviews of those who question your claims, then that’s fine, but that does not serve as a defense of your own claim.

“Again, just adding “actually does appear” to your statements concerning the apparent incoherence of the concept in question is completely irrelevant to the problems which exist due to your claims that the concept of the Christian God is actually incoherent.”

How is the distinction here between apparent and actual incoherence as it pertains to how I perceive the concept of the Christian God significant with regard to the question of whether or not God exists?

“Also: Did you want to say that you do not know whether or not the concept of the Christian God is coherent? Even if you say that it is only apparently incoherent, you still carry a burden of proof”

The Christian God does not appear coherent to me. How do I carry a burden of proof?

C.L. Bolt

No, I did not ask you to prove that your own worldview is consistent, and no it does not sound like I am saying that. I am asking questions pertaining to the relevance of theistic arguments to your own position. The discussion comes logically prior to the production of such arguments.

You drew the distinction between apparent and actual incoherence in an attempt to escape your claim that the concept of the Christian God is actually incoherent. I have noted that the distinction is irrelevant because you affirm an actual incoherence in the concept of the Christian God. If you affirm actual incoherence in the concept of the Christian God then the Christian God cannot exist and you cannot state that you are open to the possibility of the existence of the Christian God. You also carry a burden of proof because you are affirming a strong atheism at least with respect to the Christian God.

Agreus

Chris, you are making this more difficult than need be. If something appears incoherent to me, then from my perspective at this point in time, it will actually be incoherent to me. That does not mean I exclude the possibility of it being made coherent to me. I am not claiming that it is ultimately incoherent (whatever that means), rather I am open to the arguments you have supporting the existence of the Christian God.

Agreus

I’m not sure if you ever read my last comment, but just as a side note, I also find it interesting that you say the following:

“If you affirm actual incoherence in the concept of the Christian God then the Christian God cannot exist and you cannot state that you are open to the possibility of the existence of the Christian God.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you saying that God’s existence really is nothing more than conceptual in nature, i.e. God’s existence is logically necessary? If that is the case, then I would be interested in reading your proof argument for God’s logically necessary existence.

By the way, regarding the other thread about TAG and its circularity which you closed, I certainly hope that you post our conversation in full as promised.

C.L. Bolt

“Chris, you are making this more difficult than need be.”

It is not a difficult matter, though I can see why you might perceive it as difficult when you are trying so hard to wiggle out of the predicament you are in.

“If something appears incoherent to me, then from my perspective at this point in time, it will actually be incoherent to me.”

The key words here are “to me” at the end of the sentence. The sentence is tautological. To put it another way, you hypothesize that something might appear incoherent to you in which case it actually is incoherent to you – that is – it appears incoherent. But this will not help you because you already affirmed that the Christian conception of God actually is incoherent, not that it *only appears* that way *to you*.

“That does not mean I exclude the possibility of it being made coherent to me.”

How can an incoherent concept be “made coherent”? If a concept is incoherent then that is it. It is not a person or time relative issue.

“I am not claiming that it is ultimately incoherent (whatever that means),”

Yes, you did, and I quoted you doing so.

“…rather I am open to the arguments you have supporting the existence of the Christian God.”

No, you are not, since you consider the concept of God to be incoherent.

Let me clarify this for you again:

If you affirm actual incoherence in the concept of the Christian God then the Christian God cannot exist and you cannot state that you are open to the possibility of the existence of the Christian God.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you saying that God’s existence really is nothing more than conceptual in nature,”

No I am not saying this. I am saying that an incoherent concept cannot actually exist. The concept of a butterfly is coherent and butterflies actually exist. The concept of a square circle is incoherent and cannot actually exist. You claim that the concept of the Christian God is incoherent in a similar fashion. Thus you do not believe that the Christian God can exist, but you contradictorily affirm that you are open to the possibility of the existence of God. You cannot have it both ways.

“i.e. God’s existence is logically necessary?”

Yes, God’s existence is logically necessary, but this really has very little to do even with the beginning of your sentence.

“If that is the case, then I would be interested in reading your proof argument for God’s logically necessary existence.”

There appears to be a general tendency amongst the atheists who visit here to want to talk about everything but the topic at hand. You do not yet even understand the relationship between your position and arguments and now you are asking for arguments again.

Agreus

There is nothing contradictory about affirming my belief that the Christian God is presently incoherent and at the same time affirming that it may be made coherent to me in the future. Likewise, I affirm that I presently do not believe the Christian God exists, but I am open to the possibility of its existence. If I state “x doesn’t exist”, I assume that you understand that I am referring to my belief state at the specific point in time when I made the statement, especially if I follow the statement with another statement concerning the possibility of me changing my mind regarding this belief.

C.L. Bolt

It may be that I just have not been clear enough. There is not really anything left for me to say on this one.


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