Paul Baird said…
You have to remember that this didn’t used to be a hypothetical for me. I was a card carrying North European Solitary Pagan at one time, and there was some revelatory basis to my worldview so I’m not playing some devils advocate game with CBC here.
That said, the purpose of using the Pagan worldview is that, arguably, and leaving aside characters like Aleister Crowley, it is an indigenous faith of these islands, alongside Druidism and many others. That is to say it predates Christianity and shares none of the Levantine baggage and therefore cannot be dismissed as casually as something like Fristianity, Blarko, the FSM or the IPU, and because it’s not an Abrahamic faith it has none of the Jewish or Islamic weaknesses.
So, by using it I am able to apply TAG to another valid and historically older worldview.
The overall purpose of doing that is to demonstrate that Christianity cannot claim an exclusive answer to TAG, and as Christian PA is based on such a claim, it therefore fails.
It’s like being in the school playground and some kid comes up to you and says he’s the biggest kids around. You don’t have to be the biggest kid to disprove his claim – you just have to be able to point out the kid who’s the same size.
5 October 2011 19:17
Paul Baird has become more specific concerning PR. We will call this more narrow explanation of PR “Paul’s Paganism,” or PP.
We learn the following about PP from Paul:
– North European Solitary Paganism
– revelatory basis
– not an Abrahamic faith
– has none of the Jewish or Islamic weaknesses
– no Levantine baggage
– cannot be dismissed as casually as something like Fristianity, Blarko, the FSM or the IPU
– able to apply TAG
The negative claims concerning PP are that it is not Abrahamic, Jewish, Islamic, or Levantine. It is also not Fristianity, Blarko, FSM, or IPU. Paul implies that PP has very little, if anything, in common with any of these faiths and hypotheticals. Instead of attempting to offer a counter to TAG that involves a similar worldview to Christianity (as is usually the case with such alleged counters), Paul appears to intentionally distance his alleged counter from the Christian worldview.
Note that Paul refers to the “weaknesses” of the Abrahamic, Jewish, or Islamic faiths and the Levantine “baggage.” He adds that Fristianity, Blarko, FSM, and IPU can be “casually” dismissed. Paul has placed full confidence in PP to ‘do the trick’ with respect to TAG. If PP cannot satisfy the demands of a negative transcendental critique (hereafter NTC), then Paul is not left with much, since PP is, according to Paul, superior to the aforementioned faiths and hypotheticals with respect to answering NTC. Can PP accomplish what Paul needs it to accomplish? Let’s take a closer look at the positive claims concerning PP.
The most important positively stated feature of PP in this discussion is that it is able to apply TAG. Roughly, this “application” of TAG will mean that PP is not only able to satisfy the demands of NTC, but as such also provides a “platform” from which the argument can be launched in order to prove that PP is true. I know of no place that Paul Baird has offered anything like a TAW (“Transcendental Argument for Wotan”) or even any other arguments for the truth of North European Solitary Paganism, so I will focus on the first part of the challenge to PP. Can PP answer the NTC?
Even if PP answers the NTC, Paul does not tell us how, and so his counter is just an assertion. Mere assertions do not prove or rebut anything, and so Paul’s claim is rather uninteresting as he presents it. But the question here is much stronger; can PP answer NTC? To answer this question, I will focus on the more central positive claims concerning PP.
Nature of PP
First, according to Paul, PP is a worldview. As such, it is a systematic belief system, a “network of presuppositions (Bahnsen)” or a “maximal noetic structure (Parrish).” As such, it is a position which may be evaluated upon the basis of its own presuppositions or subjected to an internal critique in order to test it for consistency, coherence, livability, etc. and it is not subject to ad hoc redefinitions and reinterpretations which allegedly render it immune to such criticisms.
Second, according to Paul, PP has a “revelatory basis.” Paul has provided his definition of revelation elsewhere. Paul claims, “A revelation by it’s very nature is an internal mental experience.” It was noted that Paul presents PP as being dissimilar to the Abrahamic faiths, and one such dissimilarity is borne out in the definition of revelation above. When Paul states that PP is a “revelational worldview” or possesses a “revelational epistemology,” he does not mean the same thing that a Christian does. Paul does not provide any information concerning the content, authority, etc. of the revelation in question.
Third, according to Paul, PP is North European Solitary Paganism. Whatever else may be said for paganism, it is at minimum polytheistic. Christianity, by contrast, is monotheistic and as such is able to posit attributes to its conception of God that are not available to the conceptions of pagan deities. For example, consider the possibility that there is more than one omniscient deity or more than one “self-sufficient knower”:
A dualism of self-sufficient knowers would, furthermore, be impossible. If the existence of two such knowers is alleged, a number of observations are appropriate. We shall label these two alleged self-sufficient knowers as K (“Knower”) and DK (“Deutero-Knower”). Now K could never be sure that his judgments were not products of illusions and deceptions generated by DK. K would have to consult DK to make sure that his own epistemological apparatus was not being manipulated. (Remember: we cannot appeal at this point to the self-sufficiency of K’s knowledge to refute this observation, for that is the issue under question.) If DK has an independent life and is not governed (e.g., by mental telepathy) by K, then K could not know everything about DK; K would depend upon revelation, then, from DK in order to assure the truthfulness of his own judgments. Also K could never be sure that his judgments about ultimate states of affairs would not have to be altered by DK’s self-knowledge (which is obviously inapprehensible to K). In addition, K could never be sure of his universals and general interpretative principles without first ascertaining whether DK were secretly in control of historical eventuation or not; the “radically new” might otherwise threaten his interpretive schemes. All in all, K would indeed have to consult standards independent of himself (notably DK) before he could be certain with respect to his judgments. All attempts to escape this circumstance fail either to guarantee incorrigibility to each knower or to make the two knowers genuinely independent of each other. In summary, the difficulties of comprehension, past deception, and control over historical eventuation make the existence of two independent, self-sufficient knowers impossible. If they have independent histories, K and DK could maintain their respective self-sufficiencies only if they had mutual control over each other’s thoughts, plans, activities, and judgments. However, the concept of reciprocal control is obviously muddled; K cannot both be in control of and controlled by DK (just as by definition you cannot have two “ultimates”).
Not only can there not be more than one omniscient deity, but there cannot be more than one omnipotent deity. Bahnsen alludes to this impossibility at the end of the quote above. Since no two or more deities could ever have mutual control over one another, a plurality of omnipotent deities is impossible. Two examples are thus readily available to show that pagan deities cannot be, in the nature of the case, either all-knowing or all-powerful. Hence, while pagan deities may be said to possess “superhuman” traits, they cannot be said to come even close to the Christian conception of God with respect to His being all-knowing and all-powerful. Unlike the Christian God, the pagan deities are finite entities.
Polytheism posits that there are multiple entities which go by the label “god,” but these entities are often so much like humans that they do not merit the label. Positing all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, etc. gods (in the plural) results in a number of contradictions between these attributes. These pagan conceptions typically only possess slightly above and beyond what humans possess in terms of knowledge, presence, and power. They are nothing like the God of the Bible. Pagan deities are thus to be viewed as on par with human cognizers, and this realization has massive implications with respect to answering the NTC.
First, in the pagan worldview, no one deity can completely know or have control over the universe. There is no guarantee that nature will exhibit regularities, and thus there is no justification for inductive inferences. Science is a lost cause along with history and whatever other areas of study rest on induction.
Second, in the pagan worldview, no one deity can completely know or have control over morality or logic. The question that Socrates asked of Euthyphro applies equally as well in the case of the pagan deities as it did in the case of the Greek gods, “Is what is pious pious because the gods will it, or do they will it because it is pious?” Which deity should we go to for our morality? If morality is not grounded in any of the deities, then what good are the deities in accounting for morality in the first place? Ethics is a lost cause along with epistemic normativity and principles of logic.
It is not difficult to see why, given what has been discussed above, polytheism fails to provide an account for human intelligibility. Polytheism is, at base, atheistic. Paul provides very little by way of explanation of PP, and yet what very little he does provide is sufficient to point out a handful of fatal difficulties with PP. There are many more! A claim concerning an explicitly subjective revelation with the mechanics proposed by Paul, for example, is problematic. Inconsistencies abound with respect to the claims of the worldview and its solutions to philosophical difficulties. PP does not satisfy the demands of NTC, and Paul’s claim that “by using it I am able to apply TAG” is demonstrated to be false.
Paul not only offers no account of how PP “grounds” his worldview, but PP has been shown to be incapable of doing so. Additionally, Paul must offer a reason for rejecting the conclusion of APR:
If atheism is true, then PP is false.
Atheism is true.
Therefore, PP is false.
Finally, I have offered Paul a debate challenge:
“Is the Bible the Word of God?”
Affirmative – Chris Bolt
Negative – Paul Baird
15 minute opening statements, 15 minute cross-ex, 12 minute rebuttals, 10 minute closings
Amazingly, Paul boasts, “Nowadays I also argue against Paganism too. :-)”
Paul’s approach in this discussion has been to do all that he can to waste my time, avoid my questions, avoid my arguments, and claim victory, but he has done an extremely poor job at convincing anyone. Yesterday a friend asked me, “This Paul Baird guy…so…is he being serious?” Even some atheists are becoming concerned about Paul’s dancing act. I would be concerned too. Does Paul have anything to offer? So far, he has only insulted the intelligence of his readers and heaped more judgment upon his head. Pray for Paul, and pray for his readers as well.
 PR states: “I have had a revelation from a non-Christian supernatural transcendental entity that I use to ground my worldview.”
 Three other more historically oriented as opposed to definitional claims about PP are:
– indigenous faith of the islands alongside Druidism and many others
– historically older
– predates Christianity
If Christianity is true, then it predates PP, since Adam, the first man, received revelation from the Christian God. However, these claims are not as important to the purpose of the post.
 Fristianity is a hypothetical non-Christian worldview that posits a quadrinity but is otherwise as similar to Christianity “as possible” (which, in my opinion, begs the question concerning its status as “possible”). FSM is the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” and IPU is the “Invisible Pink Unicorn.”
 Transcendental Argument for God
 “Polytheism” is the belief in many gods.
 “Monotheism” is the belief in one God/god.
 “Omniscient” means “all-knowing.” A self-sufficient knower is, “…a mind whose judgments are incorrigible, infallible, and never in need of verification by independent standards.” Greg L. Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended (Power Springs: The American Vision, 2009), 269.
 Greg L. Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended (Power Springs: The American Vision, 2009), 270. “ ( “ prior to “Deutero-Knower” absent in the original.
 “Omnipotent” means “all-powerful.”