Tag Archives: philosophy

The God Of Irrelevance

Let me give theists a bit of a hard pill to swallow, but it may take a bit of a setup to get to it.

Does God care? How does God care? How do we know that God cares?

The hard pill, to be up-front is that it’s pragmatically irrelevant whether God cares, and I’ll tell you why:

We ask why we say to ourselves that God is love while seeing there is genuine evil in the world, good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people, and the universe itself seems indifferent.

This presumes at least that God is the sort of thing that intervenes, which presumes God is a willing agent. Some suggest God cannot act against His nature and His nature is love. That is to say, God is the sort of thing which empties itself into creation, enables, animates, and empowers it. The universe takes shape, confined and bordered and ordered not by the will of God but that how the universe is reflects God’s nature itself; like a skeleton hidden in flesh and bone. Because then we know that potential is the hallmark of reality, God’s sovereignty isn’t absolute. God isn’t an engineer but scaffolding that enables rather than restricts.

It is that potential exists that natural calamity exists. We can understand now why there is a “loving” God and a world of natural disaster. That potential also extends however to our own ability to make decisions and enjoy the consequences, good and bad. That entails to why there is genuine evil in the world. Does God choose to let this sort of thing go on, or is this too, nothing God wills or desires but is a consequence of potential? Of course a God that would allow sex-trafficking, or in light of that, rescues a little kitty from a burning building, would be a moral monster! The proposal on the table offered by some is that God cannot prevent evil; again, given the simple definition of love above, and the logically convincing premise that God cannot act against his nature.

Here’s the pill:

If God cannot prevent evil but cares, then God can only show He cares in suffering with us. Apart from that entailing to the fact that God isn’t then impassible, we have to ask what that means; that “God suffers with us”. I quote from Jesus’ experience for the best example because surely God loved Jesus most if any at all, at least in the eyes of Christianity: “Lema lema sabachthani”.

We can certainly then say that yes, God cares and how God cares is by giving us freedom, and how we know God cares is that He doesn’t prevent evil but suffers with us, and what it means to have God suffer with us is captured in the words of Jesus on the cross asking “Where are you!”

But of course you realize that for all of the theology and philosophy pushing to tell us that not only is there a God, but that God is love, God is irrelevant under the banner of Christianity because God is powerless, including its figurehead who himself hung on a cross. In other words, there is either a Christian God and He’s a monster, or a Christian God that is powerless such that His very existence is identical to a God that doesn’t exist at all; one whose very suffering with you is the experience of abandonment itself, the revelation of atheism.

This is the theological corner Christian thinking has so far painted itself into; we may either just have to ruin it as we leave the room, or wait for it to dry, and that may take quite a long time.

Just a thought.

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To Will Or Won’t …

I’ll repeat a problem I’ve posed to other philosophers and theologians before. The problem is in agency and what gods folks ought to invent.

If God is love by nature and God cannot act against his nature, God cannot do anything but love. If loving perfectly entails to an optimal response given some particulars, then God has no choice in how His love will be expressed given any particulars; it will always be optimal. In that case, as for any essential characteristic of God, there’s no difference that makes a difference between a God with a will and a God without a will … save the simplicity in the idea that God is not a being with a will, and thus the parsimonious metaphysical view one should have of God.

To say God has a will as evidenced by his suboptimal choice to love makes no sense in what one would hope to mean by the term “God”, as is true in suggesting God can act “uncharacteristically”.

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An Implication Of Involuntarism

On many fronts from epistemology, psychology, and neuroscience, we are geared to form reliable beliefs and these processes through the wonders of evolution, are themselves reliable.

It is true that some have the ability to more often produce more beneficial beliefs and that some have disabilities.

On the whole, these don’t describe anything at issue here.

There is then a sense in saying there are “default positions” but not as hoped by those using the term. Our initial beliefs are the only beliefs warranted until some greater reason to doubt them exists. Since the sciences suggest no one chooses what to believe or how our beliefs will form, there’s no other sense to the application of such a term.

That our beliefs may be mistaken or that we may not be able to account for what we believe or why we believe is irrelevant to being ethical, responsible, and diligent with our beliefs. On this view, the only mistake we can make is not being open to having our minds changed. The only other fault we may have is again ethical in, knowing all of this, suggesting someone ought to be human in a way we are not and suggesting they should doubt their beliefs merely on our sayso.

One must have warrant for every belief and every doubt, and having no good reason to believe is likewise no good reason to doubt, just as having no good reason to doubt is no good reason to believe.

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Critic Critic

Critical to the understanding of a critic of belief in the existence of God is knowing that since people cannot voluntarily choose to believe anything and we inevitably believe whatever appears to be the case, belief and doubt on this question cannot be a matter of faith.

Unlike the uneducated and childish quips back and forth that “I don’t have enough faith to be a” theist or atheist, neither belief nor doubt in the existence of God has a thing to do with faith.

At best, one comes to realize they are atheist, or one comes to realize they are theistic, but none choose to be either; the only choice is to believe and dismiss the belief, doubt and dismiss the doubt, or act responsively to the presence of belief or doubt.

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“Be Objective, Be-ee Objective!” They Cheered.

Often, Christian apologist, philosopher, and theologian, William Lane Craig, will say “objective moral duties, obligations, and values exist”. What he means is that there exist facts which are independent of what human beings make of them, and these facts are what “make” something moral, immoral, or amoral. He supposes that if objective moral duties, obligations, and values didn’t exist, then morality would be subjective and relative. In this, he either ignores or denies “epistimic objectivity”. That is, he requires more than morality being objective in the sense of creating goals and judging progress; he requires, built into his argument already, that something other than human beings legitimizes the objectives and activities humans have. He applies this not only to morality but to his notions of truth as well.

The difference?

Epistemological objectivity is about our rights to confidence in some proposition and its assertability; so, it’s about arriving at a conclusion in “the right sort of way”.

Ontological objectivity is about a proposition’s truth-bearing attributes in a representative way; so rather than asking when and under what conditions something can be “called true”, the question is whether or not something “makes it true”.

Craig of course has no grounds to deny or ignore epistimic objectivity.

Just a thought.

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Foundational Mistake

It seems the idea of Foundationalism is far more rampant in American culture than merely Christianity. The idea that in order to know anything we have to know some things absolutely is an odd one at best, but many are keen on not thinking it through. Alvin Plantinga, for instance, champions the idea that knowledge rests on “properly basic beliefs”. These are beliefs we come by naturally, through direct experience; these cannot be justified through other beliefs.
The problem, however, is that Foundationalism is about justification. There must exist justification for believing something is true. The question then is what justification is sufficient. A second, equally important question is how things like brute facts, direct experience, perceptual statements, and other entitlements do not require justification in order for us to believe what we do about them.
Foundationalism may be summarily dismissed in the light of common sense. If justification is the means to suggest belief is warranted, then it may be fully achieved well before any interlocutor would dream of tracing an immediate belief with its descent down the proverbial tree of life to the roots in common ancestry with “properly basic beliefs”. If warrant is about ethical confidence in what we believe, then justification rather than notions of foundations, or claims of foundations and their necessity, is what provides warrant to truth claims and ultimately, knowledge claims.
It is with great pleasure then that when I correct laymen about poor thinking, it’s not the Christian alone that I correct here; it’s much of Western culture it seems.
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What Logic Is Not

About logical validity … we all realize logic doesn’t entail truth when logic doesn’t tell us if premises or conclusions are true, and that all we know is that premises are false if the conclusion is false, right?

All dogs are cats.
All spaniels are cats.
All spaniels are dogs.

Here above is the last problem. We can’t even say that a conclusion is false even though we know for certain that the premises are false! All spaniels are dogs after all.

It is entirely up to some other enterprise to determine the truth of some statement about the world.

About logical soundness …

1) Logic is axiomatic.
2) Logical arguments are tautological.
3) Sound arguments are those
a) with valid form and
b) with true premises
4) If a sound argument turns out to actually have a false conclusion, we only know that at least one premise is false and that only by definition is the argument no longer sound.
5) We may be wrong about the truth of the premises of sound arguments.
6) Because an argument can have a valid form and the appearance of true premises, the purpose of saying an argument is “sound” isn’t to say its conclusions are in reality actually true; just that there’s no way around such a conclusion except by faulting a premise or conclusion in reality rather than logic.
7) Therefore in practical terms:
a) sound arguments don’t entail truth, as all counter-examples simply cause us to take a once “sound” argument and by definition alone, declare it no longer is sound, and
b) have no guaranteed certainty between necessary conclusions and the real world, and
c) Trivial if 7.a and 7.b are not the expectations of sound arguments.

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Words, Words, Words!

You cannot hope to make any point by appealing to the meaning of a word as if there is only one or that definitions are static and unchanging.
At best, one can only say “Here’s what I mean by x, and given that meaning, doesn’t x apply?”
For example, we cannot argue that “Belief is conviction” because one may be persuaded that something is true without at all being convinced it is actually true; so counter to “Belief is conviction”, some beliefs are convictions and some are simply dispositions to think something is the case even though conviction is entirely absent in our thinking it is so.
Another example is saying “Belief is an attitudinal disposition toward a state of affairs”, which makes affirming and doubting and refraining, dispositions and as such “beliefs”. In that case, Atheism is a belief and no one can be an “Apistivist” given everyone thinks something about any state of affairs they’re considering. Being careful and even-handed here then, does this mean that Atheists and Apistivists are mistaken, or do they themselves have their own definition of belief that we may or may not find useful in the way they do?
When making arguments, do not appeal to “This is what this word means”. That leads nowhere. Instead, explain only that “This is what I mean by this word, and, doesn’t it apply in this case?”
Just a thought.
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“I don’t have enough …” patience

If belief is our draw to think something is or isn’t the case, then an atheist certainly is drawn to think gods are not the case.

Atheists get accused of having faith. This is absurd. Faith is the opposite of belief. Faith is the admission that the state of affairs hoped for isn’t the current state of affairs. Belief, again, is thinking something is true about current states of affairs.

Faith is a choice.

Beliefs cannot be chosen.

Faith is from commitment, desire, hope, trust, confidence into the unknown future or in some object, person, process, etc. likewise cast into the future; it may sometimes be warranted or unwarranted.

Belief is always “here and now” about past or present matters of fact, states of affairs.

While an atheist may indeed have faith in the methodological success and reliability of science for example, it isn’t a religious, blind faith as it is justified in “enumeration”; the process itself tested each time it is applied.

What counts and what’s at stake here isn’t justified belief or justified faith. What is at stake is the apologist’s claim that there is an actual past or present state of affairs that is the case, but there’s no reason , no justification for thinking so. The unethical use of the idea of blind faith being grounds to believe is the issue.

I have yet to meet an atheist whose atheism is so grounded.

Atheism is exactly justified in the fact that the theist continually fails to show that there is warrant to believe that there are gods is the case.

Frank Turek simply didn’t take the time or care to do his homework before writing an entire book dedicated to equivocation and conflation.

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My Dear Watson …

Enumeration is a form of rational justification. It is when we examine particular instances of something and then generalize a truth from it where repetitively, it holds. “All swans are white” or “All ravens are black” is a justified statement as an enumeration. Knowing that there are black swans and white ravens shows us there may be short-comings with this way of justifying our theories.
When we make an argument where the premises lead us to only one conclusion, that’s called a “deduction”. When an argument has premises that don’t necessarily have just one conclusion–like unexpectedly colored swans and ravens–it’s called an “induction”. Sherlock Holmes and Science both employ induction rather than deduction in order to justify hypothesis; theory, further justified from vindication.
The problem isn’t with induction itself. The problem is that logic doesn’t tell us about the world. It may be absolutely true that if all men are mortal and Socrates is a man, then he is mortal, but the truth about such statements is trivial for being completely about language; what are men and what is mortal after all?
If one were to try to justify that Socrates is eventually going to die around age 78, it would be vindicated in the very same way as an induction and the key is that in reality, we don’t have a god’s eye view to keep us from the very same “problem of induction”; better thought of as “exceptions to the rule”.
Logical certainly, or “necessity”, doesn’t itself entail truth in reality.
We can always be wrong and the fact that we all must live with is that in terms of justifying propositions about the world, what counts is being able to come to reasonable conclusions that are vindicated through rigor, testing, peer review, and transparency in the processes applied that suggest we have safely and reliably come to a well-supported theory.
This is why neither Holmes nor Science employ faith and why each is so successful.
Enumeration establishes that each is justified in method and their proposals about the truth, vindicated or falsified and discarded.
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