Tag Archives: Belief

The Beauty Of Atheism

There’s a beauty in Atheism that cannot be found in Theism.

When one stands in the awe and amazement this vast and powerful yet distant and cold universe provides, and does so thinking that no moments necessarily lead to this one, that there’s no determined future, that there’s no necessarily cosmically moral target for existence or humanity but what we think matters to us alone as the sort of beings who can think and feel this way, freedom is realized.

As a result then, the “ought” of behavior is of far more significance when observed, no matter how slight the consequences of acting one way or the other. Freely, we ourselves find life meaningful in its experience rather than thinking some other reality, some other experience after this one, is warranted or granted by our activities here and now. No, meaning is only entailed in this “now” and the Atheist recognizes precisely what the Theist cannot. That is “now” finds its meaning in us alone, not in the gods.

Were Atheism or Theism genuine choices one could make, then it seems to me the one which is morally more beneficial to believe is the case that there are no deity; it puts the whole of human experience and ownership of those experiences immediately on us; Theism doesn’t, and no matter how benign, can’t.

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“Bird” Ain’t The Only Word!

It must be hard to understand that we use the word “truth” functionally and completely differently than we actually talk about it. The oddest thing of all is that we deny the function and think our casual use of the term is all there is. It must be hard because most people can’t even see it.

For instance, we say that whatever is true is true regardless of what we believe. We say that truth is elusive. We say that the truth is out there. That’s all causal language.

Functionally, there are only actual states of affairs and our perspectives on what those actual states are. That means that truth isn’t reality but is a word attributed to a perspective we think best describes a state of affairs.

Yes, there is one reality. However, truth is not a property of states of affairs or the sentences we use to describe what we think of them. That means that it is possible to have many ways to describe a state of affairs but no way to say one is true or another is false, as long as their usefulness is the same, essentially. This is the first birthed idea of Pragmatism from Peirce and still echoed by other scientists today; for instance, Mlodinow and Hawking in the pragmatic reprise, Model-dependent Theory.

Reality is “out there”, folks; sentences are “in here”, as Rorty would say.

Nothing is “true”. There are only sentences that entail to justified propositions, or warranted assertability, or reason to assert. And there is no necessary limit to the number of justified ways we can think about any single given state of affairs; making the idea of “a” truth obsolete.

Hence, the functional end of “truth” because when a person thinks something is true, they must argue. In arguing, they are justifying. In justifying, people demonstrate no use for the word “true” but actually, functionally mean that truth is justification. Justification is what we appeal to in order to prove “truth”. We​ cannot merely appeal to “truth” and have anyone think it’s a justified comment; in other words, a true statement.

That’s what we’ve determined in Western Epistemology in its entire history, which comes from millennia of rigorous thought on human knowledge starting with the Greeks.

Truth is a word and that’s about it. Our use of it is poetic in most cases. However, most mistake their poetry for Epistemology. That’s a mistake.

Carry on.

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On Being “Suobjective” …

I’ll put aside my being amazed and perplexed at the way laymen understand the terms “subjective” and “objective” so that I can redress whatever magic has beguiled the masses.

Everything is subjective.

Objective is not the opposite of subjective.

Objective does not entail mind-independence.

As it concerns morality then, we are subjective in our behavioral tastes, we are objective in that as human beings, we have the same natural sentiments (natural attractions and repulsions) and we reason similarly. This means we will generally reason similarly and feel similarly about the same sorts of problems and situations. These shared circumstances are the objects of our moral choices. Judging morality then has these three basis of objectivity and objectiveness; sentiment, reasoning, circumstance.

The fact that there’s no absolute fact of the matter about why humans should want one sort of society or another (say egalitarian versus authoritarian) doesn’t negate the fact that some choices we make are objective towards things like egalitarianism or totalitarianism. The social good itself is subjective and its attainment, objective, and that social goods vary between cultures and circumstances, morality is relative to these concerns.

So, my Theist friend, objective morality requires only society, not deity. And my Atheist friend, one need not reject that objective morality exists. Rather, just that it needn’t exist independent of ourselves, as if morality is an object in the world, like a book or rainbows. And for goodness sakes, if your discussions about morality eventually bring up Hitler, you’ve no business discussing ethics or morality at all.

In short, human morality is subjective, objective, dynamic, and relative.

When a person appeals to moral absolutes and standards, it’s not because they believe it and want to themselves comply, but to simply demand theirs is the standard unwaivering and that you’d best comply.

Just a thought.

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What Meets The Eye

It only makes sense that arguments are only necessary when genuine reasons to doubt exist. That which is most obvious then, requires no argument and no other consideration at all in order to be justly believed. It should have by now in so many thousands of years become clear that evidence is inversely related to argumentation.

It is true that doctoral theses merely present old evidence, rearranged, but defending a thesis always entails to providing more of one and less of the other. So at the core, foundational level of belief are brute facts which are so obvious that we can only think to suggest they aren’t so. Antithetical claims of them must be justified before we doubt them. Frankly, whatever speaks for itself should be allowed to, until we’ve found it to be a liar.

This leaves Foundationalists and Presuppositionalists frustrated in the demand that because we can doubt, say, existence, that we aren’t entitled to say we know we exist; that it’s merely supposed. Quite wrongly, no, we need not suppose at all. One only supposes we should doubt simply for the sake of doubting.

For what it’s worth though, almost nothing speaks for itself. However, this is the most straightforward way to explain why we can be justified in holding some beliefs without any literal reason (ie from consideration and deliberation) or evidence outside of what most obviously meets the eye.

Just a thought.

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On Vocality …

I cannot stress this enough.

When we say things like “God is love” or “God is peace”, we are defining what we mean by the word, “god”. What we cannot be and are not doing is saying that “god” is what defines either love or peace. That’s because “god” has no inherent meaning aside from those meanings we choose to use in order to give it any meaning at all. God, if such a thing exists, isn’t either love or peace because God transcends. Love and peace would then only stand to be effects by which we know God. But if that’s the case, one may completely dismiss the idea of God because the ineffable, the transcendent, has no causal proposition to any effects. In other words, no one in their right mind would find it meaningful​ to say “Love is love” or “Peace is peace” or that “Love is the cause of love” and “Peace is the cause of peace.” And so is the fate with any signifier we’d use for God.

“God” literally is exactly what we say He is, exactly what we claim He is; only He really isn’t at all in any epistemological sense; “God” is an idea and, God may not exist at all, proving the meaning of “god” and the meaningfulness of god-talk isn’t tied to God.

Just a thought.

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Love And Other Ideas

Epistemic entitlement in principle is much like other perceptual states.

It would be out of place it seems, to ask yourself why you were first smitten by your lover. There are words we can use and reasons we can articulate that would explain in part, but those same features may actually apply to others we don’t love or even to those we may hate. It would beg the question as to why those features lead your affections to one but not another given they all share them. Too, that feature list may be the same as mine but I find I love someone else entirely and find no affection for your mate. At the bottom of those reasons one may give to establish that there is love there and that one is justified in loving that person, there’s a jes nes se qua which is the compelling reason one’s mind changed from “not loving” to “now loving”.

It’s this idea best exemplified in asking why I may love you that entitlements are understood. The idea is that why I love you is because I am as I am and I simply love whatever it is I find you to be. I cannot articulate why I genuinely​ love you, but I know that I do. My being entitled to love you isn’t just that I ought to be able to love anyone I want. It’s that I am entitled to love anyone I genuinely love despite my ability or inability to express why I do.

There are things we are entitled to believe because we find them so obvious to believe that like love, it is effort lost if someone were to say those beliefs aren’t justified for the mere fact that we didn’t argue or think about them or didn’t even know why we believed at all.

Is it an unjustified belief that I exist even though reason and evidence — as Descartes so brilliantly made clear by the time we get to the end of his third meditation — cannot justify asserting that I do?

There are scores of brute facts like existence that we are entitled to believe and which warrant asserting as being the case, despite their independence of rational justification or evidence.

As this has possible implications on Theology and Atheism, the believer is entitled to the belief something like a god may exist as long as it is from a compelling, genuine impulse. However, the Atheist is likewise so entitled to the belief that there are no deity or even just in denying claims that “There are deity” is true. Too, neither are entitled to assert these beliefs as true, because “God” is a metaphysical proposition and therefore not truth-bearing. So while many modern Atheists contend nothing should be believed without reason or evidence, Theists are right in appealing to modern Epistemology which has long denied that as a requirement for truth-candidates. However, the Atheist is completely right in pointing out, without knowing it, that whatever beliefs to which a person is entitled, god-talk is not of that sort.

Just a thought.

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Properly Meaningless Beliefs

Most have heard the question, “How do I know reality is real or whether or not I’m just a brain in a vat?” Some think that if we can’t tell, then we don’t have any way to know what’s true and what isn’t. But for any question that cannot be answered using evidence or some other means of falsification and validation, the answer either way doesn’t actually matter.

If we must merely suppose things like reality or God or regularity and uniformity in nature or the existence of other minds, then we are equally merely supposing we ought to act one way versus another; it’s artificial.

It turns out that supposing reality is really real or that I’m a brain in a vat doesn’t at all effect my behavior either way, as long as I cannot discover what the case actually is. The same is true with the existence of God and so on. In that case, these “cornerstone positions” are only so-called. That’s for the fact that the reliability of how I go about justifying my experience only hinges on how well my means and methods help me come to describe my experiences, whatever world that may be; reality or vat. Since I’m able to experience, my relation to whatever world I may be in is what matters rather than knowing what lies outside my ability to know. Warrant from these propositions is drawn from the functional role between myself and my surroundings, even if fictive. That role is simply coming to know how to properly interact within an environment.

Therefore, regarding reality, brains, and vats, warrant hinges on justified beliefs, beliefs entail to action, and justification can only ever be vindicated; meaning that there is a payoff when acting one way versus another.

In other words, is what I’m thinking about things the way those things seem to be, because it actually matters.

For all such category of beliefs for which there can be no answer through reasoning or evidence, their import is exactly tied to the fact that they are not truth-bearing propositions. There may actually be a case for reality, vats, deity, other minds and so on, but they have literally no meaning to our human existence except the meaning we ascribe to them.

That’s for the very fact that we can’t know if they actually matter at all.

Just a thought.

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On Presuppositionalism …

I have as of late been posting about one topic which is both a counter to Atheistic criticisms of just belief in God and that defeats the Presuppositionalist complaint of needing a basis for all beliefs, or that all beliefs must be justified through reason or reasons to assert.

I am unconcerned with the Atheist’s criticisms because I agree with them, and generally they agree with how I do in fact justify my beliefs about God.

The Presuppositionalist is a spurious creature however. Their argumentation platform is actually more related to “Foundationalism” than to anything Van Til proposed. Their idea is that a belief must ultimately​ be traced back to a special kind of belief that must also be justified but cannot be justified by other beliefs. This sort, they call “Properly Basic”, or “Cornerstone Propositions”.

The idea is that in order to say justfication hinges on reliable methods, for example, there must be a properly basic belief that “the future resembles the past” or “there is general order to change over time, uniformity, regularity, order” and so on. The problem lies in the fact that if we merely justify these beliefs through presuming or assuming these are in fact the case, then the “foundation” is not truth. It follows then that it is literally meaningless as a preliminary for justifying other, non basic beliefs such as the initial belief that justification hinges on reliable methods; which pragmatically and justly affirms that belief time and again. The common complaint that Science isn’t the basis of Science or that it doesn’t justify itself using itself is moribund. The evident, obvious fact that it works not only vindicates Science and its methods and philosophies, it is justified because by “true” we can only mean “it works” and in a particular way which correlates to the subject of the “work”; ie. a demonstration that a proposition is describing a real state of affairs.

It suffices that Foundationalism isn’t a very interesting theory of human knowledge in Epistemology and is generally​ easy to defeat, as I initially attempted above.

However, we can indeed agree for the sake of argument that there must be a foundational belief outside of rational criticism because it is justified aside from other beliefs. We can also take up the charge that all beliefs must be justified. This is where I engage “entitlement” in the various forms given by Dretske, Wright, Burge, and Peacocke.

Entitlements are beliefs that are warranted because they are apparent and obvious, compelling, in terms the Foundationalist describe properly basic beliefs. However, we don’t presume these things or assume these things are true. We consently hold to the Foundationalist change that there are justified beliefs for which reason and evidence are not required. So where Foundationalism yields to self-refutation (no rational person would say supposition is justification, or that assuming is either), entitlements purport to be beliefs which are obviously true, and unlike Foundationalism again, defeasible.

The Atheist may worry that we can’t or shouldn’t say any belief is warranted without reason or evidence, but then several assurances follow. First, that “God” or any other metaphysical proposition cannot be an entitlement by definition. Second, that a volume, a volley, a landslide of examples of warranted beliefs which are properly basic do exist. Third and last is that the Skeptic is going to be more inclined to want some other basis of their Epistemology than beginning with presumption and assumption, and entitlements provide just that.

And for interesting trivia, notice those in the list of Anti-Foundationalists:

Roy Bhaskar
Jacques Derrida
John Dewey
Stanley Fish
Michel Foucault
G.W.F. Hegel
William James
Friedrich Nietzsche
Charles Sanders Peirce
Richard Rorty
Wilfrid Sellars
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Each in their own way defeat this idea of the need of foundations, be it Derrida making the case that beliefs are tied to language more than reality, or Peirce describing a closure principle of beliefs much like the web of meaning created by the words in a dictionary, though in the broadest sense all beliefs entail other beliefs cleanly, semiotically without any other problems like foundations.

In the end, the Presuppositionalist is claiming we presuppose some beliefs, but what they imply is that we only merely assume they are true and since assumptions create assess, as the saying goes, “God” (whatever the hell that term means!) ought to be the foundation for all knowledge claims. But that just carries assumption into credulity and desire and definition. In contrast, Entitlements are neither presumed true nor assumed true. They are asserted true and find warrant in their obviousness as being the case and for the fact that the only sort of reasoning which can be done about them is to justify doubting they are true; which of course no one can do, especially since the Entitleist can adopt all the initial positions of the Presuppositionalist yet not contradict itself in the end.

No, Presuppositionalist, I don’t presume anything in any of my beliefs; they are all justified beliefs that are either so, obviously, or not so obviously which then requires me to otherwise argue their justification.

Just a thought.

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Fess Up!

“We have a right to accept what we are powerless to reject.”

Fred Dretske, “Entitlement: Epistemic Rights without Epistemic Duties?” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, p. 598).

If it occurs to a believer in a consistent manner and is from genuine conviction that reality entails something extra or volitional, then the believer is justly entitled to a belief he may name “God”.

If it occurs to a skeptic in a consistent manner and is from genuine conviction that reality doesn’t entail something extra or volitional, then the skeptic is justly entitled to a belief he may name “Atheism”.

That is, in both cases, where conviction is not akin to personal desire or credulity but to convincing, irresistible persuasion.

This is one reason I love Philosophy in that through its study, we soon find out that most involved in “The Great Debate” are simply ignorant, else they wouldn’t​ bother debating. It also immediately identifies to you those most despicable souls who do know better but profit off of the ignorance of others; William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Frank Turek, Ravi Zacharias, R.C. Sproul, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

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What’s The Point Of God-talk?

I wish more Theists were intuitive in talking about “Why God at all?” It should be simple. Years of study in epistemology will all distill to a single, simple fact of the matter answered from another question, “Why do you feel god exists [or doesn’t]?”

The Theist answers “I get the impression God exists”, and then goes about defining God. We can talk about the Atheist response, but it begins and ends with simply adding to that response “don’t”; “I don’t get the impression God exists”.

Being that “God” is a metaphysical proposition, there are no facts for any person to know what “the case with God” is, and so we are left with impressions. Each of us are justified in our respective responses to the question. Anyone arguing other “facts” of the matter of God is not rational to the extent needed in order for someone else who is, to take them seriously. And for the Theist, all of his work is ahead of him, for the Atheist is justified in simplicity; sticking just to the impression alone. While the Theist, also having an impression (in both cases, Theist and Atheist, the impression takes more work to doubt than believe), has to tread carefully about the comprehended “God” he MUST create in order to attempt to describe the incomprehensible God he feels exists. That work, for the Theist, is nearly undone completely and always in arguments that never connect the Theist nor the Atheist. Worse, that some purported connection with his God fails to connect him to humanity and then every narrative he could construct would have no practical end but the effect of even the most devout Theist rejecting each and every one of them. And all of this must naturally exclude from any conversation those holding to “credo quia absurdum”!

Is there any work though for the non believer? Only inasmuch as owning all beliefs must be justified, owning no facts exist to satisfy his perhaps venting appeal to Positivistic thinking that “all beliefs must have evidence to justify them” (which is untrue), and particularly owning that reason itself is not that which justifies his belief “The assertion ‘deity exist’ is false”; given the rational premises of arguments are irrationally accepted on the sole condition that they “make sense” rather than being inherent truth-containers — for rational proofs prove only sentence structures and sentence relations, and some please us and “feel” right where others do not; and of course that it is a trivial matter to produce any logically valid argument for the existence of God, given the premises indeed only need to conform to essentially, syntax rather than actually having any real quality or appearance of “being the case”.

The justification for either believer or non believer is only, and can only be, “it makes sense to me that …”.

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