Monthly Archives: October 2016

Just The Facts, M’am.

​”The sky is blue.”

As a “truth-bearer”, this proposition shows three things. First is that facts are aside from propositions. Second, whether or not it is true that the sky is blue, the proposition that the sky is blue exists either way. Third, we can only say a fact exists if in fact the fact exists (in other words, the proposition about the fact is actually true), or that facts, like propositions, are atoms of perception which obtain mind-dependently.

It is a fact that these first two cases are facts. It’s this third case which is interesting. At which point does my asserting that the sky is blue not a fact, except that it is shown false? Given that color doesn’t exist in reality, is the sky being blue a fact of perception? If so, objectivity in such cases is merely “correspondence to perception” and “intersubjective agreement”. If not, speaking about the sky this way leads any normal human being to call “it’s not a fact that the sky is blue” detractors pedantic. They will naturally respond, “You know what I mean!” when being corrected about the blueness of the sky. I think I would have to agree.

This would mean that facts are facts not because they are true but because we perceive the world in no other way, and when we can, there is no better way to speak about them and their subject. It is impossible to tell which is the case until some fact is disproved. Unfortunately, one can’t simply demand “x is a fact” to solve the problem. To say “x is a fact” is only to say there is some state of affairs which appears obvious. In other words, there is a great divide between “x is a fact” and “it is a fact that x”. In terms of substitution, it is clear:

  • “x” is “the sky is blue”.
  • “[The sky is blue] is a fact.”
  • “It is a fact that [the sky is blue].”

The former is a fiat. The latter shows “fact” as a label for “The scintilla of talking about our perceptions of the world; an atomic idea”. There is no general sense in which facts “correspond to reality”, except to say by analogy that what we think of Huck Finn binds us in some way not to speak fictionally about this fiction. Being objective about reality and Huck entails to shared perspectives of these and, are the facts about facts.

Just a thought.

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Pascal’s Asshole

The problem with Pascal’s Wager is that belief entails action. There’s nothing significant to any assertion unless it has the ability to change a person’s behavior. One can say they believe in God, but what on earth does that mean? That assertion isn’t meaningful because it’s completely unclear how belief in it ought change our behavior if true? With a transcendent God, there comes ineffability. Belief in God is then incoherent because the assertion cannot signify God. Beliefs about God must be about something else and matter in some other way, if at all.

Next, no one can choose what to believe about anything. We are determined to believe whatever we think or feel the case is. Again, we can say we believe, but that’s only true if behavior changes. Even then, one can “act as if” they believe and this can be as indistinguishable as one who “acts as if” what they believe is true. There’s a huge difference between the two however. In either case, God must only care about the behaviors belief can produce.

Behavior matters but what matters about intellectual ascent except behaviors they can produce? And certainly belief in God can turn good people into assholes just as much as turning assholes into genuinely good people. Unless God’s an asshole, religion must literally be for assholes, in hopes of creating good people. 

Clearly then, as not all assholes are unbelievers and not all unbelievers are assholes, a God who is not an asshole cannot care about intellectual ascent to some idea; like the idea of God itself.

Were Pascal more thorough and less cavalier, he’d have concluded with the ancients, from Plato to Marcus Aurelius. He’d have properly concluded, because of all of the above and more:

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

Just a thought.

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Apologies

​An Apologist will say things about the world prove there’s a God, but this is impossible because in saying “God”, we have no other literal meaning but “incomprehensible”.

Better is this: I see the dawning sun, I feel the beauty of the grass, the order in the stars, I see you, and I am thankful that all of these are what bring God to mind. In that sense, God is comprehensible and real, for He is discovered in everything, and this includes you and me.

God is none of these things but all of these things are what bring God to mind. And in as much as we realize this, we should only ask what ideas of God we will be giving others today. And that is an apologetic that actually matters. No others do.

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Plenipotentiary Theology

Most people who become Atheist aren’t really against the idea of a “Big Other” and, I suspect, are still inclined to think there is some big mystery out there. What Atheism is for these is the rejection of ideas that attach to the idea of the mystery.

Really, I think religion, marriage, politics and everything else should be approached with the idea that the subject is always infinitely remote and that how we understand them is only through our desires about them and the expectations we have for them; all of these being a cloud to their reality but cannot be fully remedied. Seeking to understand them as they are in themselves entails to commitments against static beliefs about them. That means our beliefs should be dynamic because we can’t expect to ever have some final language about them. That means the subject is not replaced with an idol of static belief, which we’ve held in place of the subject. We hold beliefs with respect to how they help us understand the subject in question, but no longer than that.

On that view, we are free to give the subject its proper respect by changing our often misguided ideas we’ve foisted on them; spouses, gods, ideologies, peoples, self and so on.

My use of the label “Plenipotentiary Theology” is a caution to say and remind that we cannot confer onto some mystery an authoritative set of ideas, static or dynamic, without acknowledging we’re being totemic. And given the remoteness of the subject, we’ve assumed for pragmatic reasons, our ideas move us toward and into this mystery but are not at all the mystery itself nor will they ever be. Whatever we would want to be representative of God is not able to capture that which it tries to represent; God. The nature of beliefs with respect to the “Big Other”, then, is akin to “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think on these things.” In other words, our theology is relative to human, aesthetic principles, not lines we discover in the sand as it were, limiting or pointing the way to the end of the subject itself.

The result of being such a Theist is that one becomes Atheist in the very way most Atheists are, save that the perception of some great mystery remains.

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On Time …

A person vehemently asserts that the future is undetermined, but this person also demands that the past is determined. Going back in time 30 years to a determined past, she must now demand that at least for the next 30 years, the future is determined. However, her presence in a determined past makes this impossible. She then concludes both the future and the past are undetermined.

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On Open Theism …

​In terms of Open Theism, and in terms of logic, I’m left guessing why people had thought throughout time that having a plan necessarily entails to all events which happen in time being controlled by the agent exercising his will, trying to fulfill the plan. What I mean is that most people are planners yet no one would ever hear that “Johnny plans on …” and naturally think as a result that Johnny’s plans must then be fully determined or it won’t come to fruition.

Why have we thought it natural about God?

Jokingly, if God’s plan was utter chaos in the universe, would God even be able to attain it? It’s logically possible, however, the fault making it a paradox is this idea that God’s plans must be deterministic, and chaos by definition …

Simply, if God’s plan is a participatory pedagogy with man for the revelatory well-being of humanity, what necessarily demands that all events in time are determined in order to accomplish it, and more, participation implies a necessity quite contrary to this idea of determinism.

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Total Shenanigans

​Perhaps I don’t fully grasp Total Depravity since as I understand it, the logical consequence is necessarily that God is only different than Satan (or unpersonified evil) and greatness is only measured in terms of power; which has no bearing on the morality of either God or Satan.

Holding to Total Depravity as the natural state of man, no one has a vocabulary to speak to either the goodness of God or the harrow of evil. Man is left to only describe God and evil in terms of what men prefer and this preference — again because he has no connection to the good at all, being totally depraved — has no other objective point of reference. And while this doesn’t present any problems whatever in discussing human ethics, it certainly does mean by definition that our ethics have nothing to do with God. That’s quite a departure from scripture.

Scripturally and logically, our understanding of what is good is because there is goodness in creation itself and that all are drawn to participate in it in as much as any creature is able. That presence being grace and the draw to it being “pistis”, persuasion, faith. This is seemingly the natural state of man; inclined to the good because however dark the glass, it still reflects the image before it, namely goodness aside from man and that man desires as its icon.

Just a thought.

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