Tuesday, July 29, 2008

God and logic

Sye said:

"Look folks, whether you agree with me or not, 220 posts ago, I asked how universal, abstract, invariants such as the laws of logic make sense in the atheist worldview. Don't you find it odd that no one has answered that yet?"

As I just explained here, my criticism of Sye’s argument doesn’t require that I possess any answer to this question. But, let’s look at it anyway.

What is an atheist world view?

Simply put, it’s a view of what there is that doesn’t include God. That’s it. Atheists don’t have to sign up to materialism, reductionist or otherwise. They can be substance dualists, property dualists, etc. etc. They can also allow for a Platonic heaven of abstract entities, if they wish.

Thus an atheist world view can include abstract and objective laws of logic.

Voila!

But Sye is really pushing two different questions:

1. How can the laws of logic possibly exist without the Christian God?
2. How do you justify your use of the laws of logic?

So, while he will no doubt come back to me on my preliminary answer to 1, let’s turn to 2.

Justifying logic is tricky. Here’s one reason why. If such a justification takes the form of some sort of inference, it will itself make use of logic. And so the justification will be circular, and thus no justification at all!

Oh dear! And oh dear for Sye too, if he uses an inference to justify logic, which he does!

So there’s a general sceptical problem here, whether you happen to believe in the Christan God or not.

How to sidestep the problem? One possibility would be to remind ourselves that not all justification is inferential. I am justified in supposing there is an orange on the table in front of me, say, because I can just directly see it there. I don’t infer the orange is there. Its presence is just directly revealed (a "revelation" if you like!)

Now, if that is right - if such non-inferential, perceptual justification is possible - then one possible justification of the very basic rules of deductive inference might be that we can just directly see that they are truth-preserving.

Of course, Sye might not like this justification, but notice:

(i) he himself faces the sceptical problem – appeal to the Christian God doesn’t help.
(ii) Worse still, appeal to the Christian God as a justification in any case looks like an even worse bet given the overwhelming evidence against the Christian God's existence (see my “The God of Eth”).

61 comments:

Kosh3 said...

But is that true? There are two different senses here - perceiving, and perceiving that.

I perceive an orange on the table
I perceive *that* there is an orange on the table.

The second, surely, involves an inference (namely, that the sense data fit a certain category of things - oranges). Now, in real life this happens so thoroughly, rapidly, and naturally, that we are not even aware that any such inference is occuring. And all the better: if we actually had to stop and manually make such inferences, we'd be bloody cognitively slow.

splittter said...

This might be horrendously off topic, but am just wondering how far you can use the term "the laws of logic" and be referring to one, agreed body of knowledge (if knowledge is what it is).

It's been years since I did any logic, and I was never particularly well up on it, but I do remember that there were different 'flavours' of it. Propositional logic, Modal Logic etc. (pulling terms out of memory here, have no real idea what these distinctions are). Anyway, was just wondering if it really is obvious and accepted that underlying all these are some ultimate laws of logic, which are (presumably) the ones that Sye uses?

Sye TenB said...

Hello Stephen et al,

Thanks for your kind words, and decidedly nicer tone than many of the posters here.

I'm heading out to Niagara Falls soon with some Dutch relatives, so I won't be able to post after this until perhaps late this evening.

To be honest, I was more interested in number 1. The laws of logic are universal, abstract, and invariant. 1). I'd like to know how they can exist, in ANY, preferably your, atheist wordlview, expecially considering the random, material nature of the universe which most atheists espouse.

As, far as 2. goes, you beg the question by assuming that God could not reveal the validity of the laws of logic to us, in such a way that we can be certain of them.
2). How can you be certain of their validity, or of anything for that matter?

Since induction has also come up in the last thread, perhaps I'll throw it into the ring here too. 3).On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that nature is uniform?

So, I'm really interested in getting an answer to those 3 questions. Since I won't be able to post until perhaps late this evening, I won't respond to anyone's posts that do not specifically address one, or all 3 of those questions, plus, I've been spending too much time here anyways :-)

All the best,

Sye

Stephen Law said...

Niagara falls? - I was there couple of weeks ago. I got wet...

Splitter. Let's just grant Sye his objective laws, for the sake of argument. But I should say that by "logic" I here mean much more than just e.g. rules of deductive inference. I would count as being "logical" e.g. recognizing that a valid argument with unargued-for and contentious premise does not establish its conclusion is true.

Stephen Law said...

Kosh3. You might be right. Just giving an example of the sort of thing that might be offered. I don't necessarily want to commit myself to that particular answer.

Paul C said...

The laws of logic are universal, abstract, and invariant. 1). I'd like to know how they can exist, in ANY, preferably your, atheist wordlview, expecially considering the random, material nature of the universe which most atheists espouse.

1. Not everybody with agree with your description of the laws of logic. In addition, you're not talking about the laws of logic, you're talking about the laws of thought.
2. My belief is that any such laws are the natural outworking of the particular structure of the visible universe; more specifically, they are simply a shorthand description that humans use to describe that structure. They do not require any particular "worldview" to be useful in this regard.
3. You are mistaking random for formless. You also fail to explain why a material universe should not possess concrete patterns which can be described in abstract terms.

2). How can you be certain of their validity, or of anything for that matter?

You can be certain of their validity as long as they appear to work.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I would argue that the laws of logic are NOT universal. They may, however, be abstract and invariant.

I think it is a mistake to think that logical reasoning is an absolute law which governs the universe. For example Euclidean geometry is logically consistent, but it is not a universal law.

I, as an Atheist, do not espouse a random, material universe. I do however find logic useful for reasoning.

Logic, to me, is starting with a number of premises and proceeding via inference to a conclusion. In what way is this dependant on the existance of a god? Are you implying that for every logical statement there is a hidden premise - There exists my God?

2). How can you be certain of their validity, or of anything for that matter?

The problem with logic is that it allows you to start with false premises, and proceed validly via logic to a true conclusion.

So regardless of whether you have proceeded validly or not, it does not mean your conclusion is correct.

How would God reveal the validity of the laws of logic to us?

3).On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that nature is uniform?

What do you mean by uniform?
Are you saying you believe nature to be non-uniform?
Or that nature without your God can not be uniform?
Actually I could also ask what do you mean by nature?

Personnally I find this to be a fairly sweeping unspecific statement.

Andrew Louis said...

Sye,
(Regarding being nice)

You’ll recall that as a result of you not being able to answer this:
Prove, "that absolute truth exists is a proposition and give an example of an absolute truth and how it is not systemic.

You simply said:
“Your on drugs” (yes, that’s real nice, and quite Christian.)

Then, when you finally do attempt to answer my question you don’t even answer the question, you simply ask more questions, as follows:

“What you fail to realise, Andrew, is that even if you could prove your worldview, BY YOUR OWN ADMISSION it is only true in the system to which you subscribe. Since BY YOUR OWN ADMISSION, your worldview is NOT ABSOLUTELY TRUE, it might not be true!”

From here Sye I respond appropriately with the following:

“what form of logic do you use to evaluate my claim, and how does that logic necessarily apply to it."

If that system of logic is absolute, then provide the necessary proof that establishes that claim by:

Proving, "that absolute truth exists is a proposition and give an example of an absolute truth and how it is not systemic.”

Now Sye,
I’m not sure if you can see whats going on here, but I’m doing to you what you do to everyone else. Whether or not you agree with my worldview or not, the fact remains that I’ve proved it, it stands in direct opposition to what you believe, and if you cannot account for it (refute it) by answering those two basic questions; then your logic within an absolute world view is invalid and I’m going to go smoke my victory cigar.

anticant said...

Sye’s game is to trump all opposing viewpoints with his mantra that everything – material, mental, moral, concrete, abstract – emanates from his self-revealed God, and that therefore anyone who does not accept what Sye terms the ‘objective truth’ of this posited revelation is not entitled to a moral or logical framework – or if they claim one they are behaving like poachers and committing intellectual theft in the eyes of God’s gamekeeper Sye.

He used this ploy on me in the previous thread when he said: “Child molestation is not ‘wrong’ in any atheistic worldview, it may be painful, distasteful, or unpleasant, but without an absolute standard it cannot be ‘wrong.’ If morality can be stipulated, then anyone can stipulate their own, and you lose all argument against anything you happen to personally dislike.” When I said this was a preposterous statement, he then asked “So, how is it ‘wrong’ then?”

Sye appears to believe that nothing is right or wrong – or better or worse - for those who don’t believe in his version of God, because they are fundamentally dishonest. If he is really convinced of this, he must have to be even more wary of most of his neighbours than I am!

I leave it to Stephen and those with more patience than I have to unravel the fallacies in Sye’s argument.

M said...

Ah yes, good old Pressupositionalism. How it has irritated me over the years.

In order to get a fuller sense of the purposely question-begging nature of this man and his modus operandi, see these links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presuppositional_apologetics

http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/

Reynold said...

Sorry, I had this in the wrong post. I deleted my comment from there and placed it here.

This kind of thing is why I didn't like any philosophy courses...I'm no good at this stuff, but even I can see the problems with Sye's thinking...

Anyway, from the previous post: Sye TenB quoting me:

Reynold said: "Therefore one could say that xianity borrowed from the grecian worldview in order to make sense of the laws of logic."


How did the Greeks make sense of universal, abstract, invariant laws?

I'll let someone else give an answer:

No. We test them in the real world and try to come up with counterexamples. Say you think that Affirming the Consequent isn't a fallacy. A-->B means B-->A. Then we come up with a counterexample, like, 'Getting hit by truck follows in death' does not mean 'Death is always caused by being hit by a truck'.


You still haven't shown the bible verses where "god" lays down the laws of logic.

Until you do so, you have no reason to assume that your god even knows the laws of logic, much less has them as part of his "nature" or whatever phrase you use.

That shoots down your claim that the greeks got their logical and reasoning abilities from your god, even without "knowing" he exists. If he didn't give the laws of logic to his own people, why should he help other people figure those laws out?


Sye said:
Now, it is the Christian worldview, that God has revealed to us some of His characteristics, some of which are, that He is universal, not made of matter, and He does not change. In God’s own nature, then, we have the elements necessary to make sense of the laws of logic...(rants on about atheists at this point)

Nutcasenightmare pretty takes your idea apart, but I'll add my two cents...

There is no reason to assume that just because your hypothetical god shares some qualities in common with the laws of logic that they would not exist without him. Remember, you can't even provide the bible verses that show that your god even knows what the laws of logic are.


Sye replying to Nutcasenightmare:
No, it’s more like p is true by the impossibility of the contrary, therefore not p is false.
Anything to back up that assertion with? Prove it.

You're not using logic, Sye, you're just making assertions without proof.



As maragon has said, Sye goes all over the place, repeating the same assertions over and over. I mentioned some of those places.

Rayndeon said...

I find it difficult to take presuppositionalists seriously. Have none of them ever heard of "foundationalism?"

Look: we all face the problem of regress. The Christian God is not more *basic* than induction, logic, the reliability of memory, our sanity, the existence of other minds, etc. In *formulating* the TAG in the first place, these must already be *assumed* indicating that these assumptions are more *basic*. It is ridiculous and impossible to ask for a justification of these assumptions *since they are the very tools of justification in the first place*.

Even if our theist should deny this fairly obvious point, then perhaps they should answer why *the assumption of God's existence does not require justification*. Look: if *properly basic* beliefs such as induction, deduction, reliability of memory, sanity, and the existence of other minds are going to require justification, then by the same *lights*, the assumption of God's existence requires justification.

It is not an adequate answer to say without God's existence we couldn't (allegedly) make sense of logic, induction, reliability of memory, etc. By the same reasoning, I could argue that those things are atheistically justified since without deduction, induction, reliability of memory, etc we couldn't make sense of science. Since that *isn't* a justification of those assumptions, neither can the inability to make sense of the assumptions constitute a justification for the assumption of God's existence.

Moreover, just where the heck is any sort of argument to the effect that *only* under theism (and Christian theism in particular) that those make sense? It's not as if logic is dependent upon God either causally or in terms of identity. If theists believe that, they had better argue for it. And the theistic activism & theistic conceptual realism respectively required for *that* has serious problems on its own, let alone presuppositionalism!

Moreover, on the induction issue, it's not as God's existence explains induction or the reliability of memory. It works the same way as any other "theistic explanation": it takes some presumably brute fact X and "explains it" by saying that "God created X". In other words, *conveniently enough* there just *happens to exist* the type of God who created these things i.e. it takes God as a speculative brute fact. Moreover, it performs none of the functions of true explanation: prediction, elegance and simplicity, etc. "God did X" does not explain X anymore than "God created rocks that attract each other" explains why magnetism works. It simply *restates* the explanandum in question and forms a *tautology* that is empty and doesn't actually explain anything. It tacks on a speculative brute fact that doesn't actually explain a *known* brute fact.

This, by the way, is pretty much the same argument that infects any inductive theistic argument. So, we're done with that then - the argument is ridiculous?

Nick said...

Sye,

I’m afraid that your answers to my questions have left me none the wiser, so I wonder if I could ask you to clarify?

Firstly, you said that God’s existence is a necessary precondition for the existence of the laws of logic because of “…the impossibility of the contrary. No other worldview can account for universal, abstract, invariants such as the laws of logic.”

Let me make sure I understand you correctly here. Are you saying that, from the research you have done, you believe your worldview currently gives the best explanation for the existence of the laws of logic? Or, are you making the much stronger claim that accounting for the laws of logic on any other worldview is impossible? If, as I suspect, you are claiming the latter, then can you please provide an argument to justify this assertion? It seems to me that, to justify your proposition, you must show either that it is an a priori truth, or show that you have considered and rejected every possible worldview other than your own (a practically infinite set of natural and supernatural worldviews). If there is another way, then I would be happy to hear about it. I am not interested in you just repeating your assertion. Rather, I want to see your justification for it as a reasoned argument.

Specifically, I wonder if you could please explain why it is that naturalism is unable to account for the laws of logic?

When I asked you how you know that your ‘objective revelation’ was not just a delusion or other mental aberration, you said that it is “because God has made His revealtion [sic] in such a way that we can be certain of the truth of it.”

Please could you explain exactly how you can be so certain of this? By what means can you discriminate with such certainty between a supposed revelation, and a mental delusion? Again, I don’t want you to just repeat your assertion but, rather, to justify it through reasoned argument.

When I asked you how you can be so sure that your revelation (granting purely for the sake of argument that it was a revelation) was not just a deception from an evil demon, you pointed me to your previous answer. However, since your previous answer was merely an unjustified assertion, I am still waiting for your argument. Could you please supply it? Also, on this subject, even if (purely for the sake of argument) we grant that some superbeing (that you call God) did communicate with you, how can you be so sure that God itself is not being deceived by some demon into believing that it is the omnipotent, omniscient creator of the universe, when it is actually no such thing? If it was being deceived in this way, then how would it ever know (bearing in mind that it is not omnipotent and omniscient – as these are just part of the deception)?

When I asked you how you know that you are not just a ‘brain in a vat’, with all your experiences (including your ‘objective revelation’) being merely illusions, you again pointed me to your earlier answer. However, as this answer was merely an unjustified assertion, I am still waiting for your reasoned argument. Could you please supply it? You asked me how I can be so sure that I am not a brain in a vat. The answer is that I can’t. Unlike you, I do not profess absolute certainty in my worldview. Rather, I merely believe that it is the most plausible and parsimonious one, given the available evidence. Since, by contrast, you do seem to profess absolute certainty that your worldview is correct, then you must surely be able to provide watertight arguments to refute all of my points. Can you please do this?

I will finish with a few additional questions for you. If you have the time to answer, then I would be very interested to hear what you have to say. I assume that you are some variety of Christian. If not, then amend question 1 accordingly, and forget questions 5 and 6.

1. What would be enough to convince you Christianity wasn't true?
2. Will honest, compassionate atheists suffer eternally in hell?
3. If you were certain God commanded you to murder every atheist you
meet, would you?
4. Why doesn't God expose the lies of politicians who deceive voters?
5. Why didn't Jesus write his own gospel down?
6. Why did Thomas get to touch God and Paul get to hear him, but you
and I don't?
7. Have you done enough research to conclude that Taoism isn't the one
true religion?
8. What do you do to make sure you aren't mistaken about your beliefs?

Rayndeon said...

In summary:

1. Those assumptions (i.e. deduction, induction, reliability of memory, existence of other minds, etc) don't need and *can't* have justification, theistic or atheistic.

2. By the same reasoning, the assumption of God's existence requires justification.

3. Logic is neither causally dependent on God nor is it identical to God. Hence, God does not explain logic. The validity of logic is, if anything, logically and metaphysically necessary.

4. God doesn't actually explain induction or the reliability of memory at all.

Rayndeon said...

I'd like clear up some confusion on Sye's point here:

"To be honest, I was more interested in number 1. The laws of logic are universal, abstract, and invariant. 1). I'd like to know how they can exist, in ANY, preferably your, atheist wordlview, expecially considering the random, material nature of the universe which most atheists espouse."

Right. *Abstract* NOT *concrete*. Metaphysical naturalism, at best, only espouses that all *concrete* particulars are enclosed causally in spacetime - says nothing about abstract entities. Logic here consists of the *relationships* between objects of the actual world and all possible worlds. *Given* the existence of actual states of affairs, logical relations necessarily follow. All one needs are actual states of affairs (which necessarily exist of course - just not any *particular* state of affairs) and logical relations will hold. For instance, in no possible world whatsoever is a state of affairs S both actual and non-actual, including the actual world. None of this is really a justification of logic of course since it really *assumes* logic - it just points out that you're thinking of logic in the wrong way; as if it were required to be some concrete, physical object, rather than a set of relations.

get_education said...

Guys,

Well, at least I have learned that Sye's fallacies, tend to fall into the category of "loaded premises" SO be careful with this. For instance:

expecially considering the random, material nature of the universe which most atheists espouse

1. I doubt this is an exact description of the nature of the universe according to most atheists.

2. Why would he ask for this if he always insist that he wants to know how "you" account for logic, and that he is not interested on how others do. A bit inconsistent, right? So, now his pre-condition is, since you are an atheist you better believe that the universe is "random" so that I can refute you properly.

3. The word "random" is also loaded, Sye thinks that random means "anything can happen," such as the sun turning into a penguin within three minutes (randomness would preclude "laws").

I am not embarking into discussing anything else with Sye. Also see my warning at the "Sye's script" thread. I just summarize: Sye will change your meaning in-your-face, he will change his meaning in-your-face, if you call foul he will use the "according to your worldview how is my comment illogical/treacherous/whatever, are these rules absolute ..." instead of acknowledging the trick, and so on, and so forth.

Consider yourselves warned!

G.E.

get_education said...

Oh I was forgetting, tired of his tricks and impossibility to accept any explanation (but you HAVE to accept his, even if you do not like it, yet he will not accept your because he does not like it!), you will leave the guy to himself, at which point he will claim that he DEMONSTRATED your fallacies, claim victory and leave.

G.E.

Nutcasenightmare said...

(BTW, Thanks, Reynold, for quoting me!)

======================

Anyway, Sye, Stephen shows that GOD OR NOT, the infinite regress of reason is still a problem. Stephen says that observation can directly prove something, without further inference.

Though, Stephen, I have a few doubts about that, for then one needs to prove that one is not delusional or living in a virtual world.

I'd like to throw in my own two cents and say that axioms could be the terminating point of the infinite regress. All logic follows after axioms.

====================

Of course, if one arbitrarily chooses axioms for a certain system of logic, that system could very well lead to uselessness. (NOTE: Useless as in, ANY conclusion can follow from the system)

(And why people choose to use logic is because it helps. And why people choose NOT to use logic is because they have faith.)

So Sye, "God, which is universal-abstract-unchanging, accounts for everything universal-abstract-unchanging" canNOT be an axiom alongside "Circular justification is no justifiction".

If you reject neither, your system produces both 'God's existence is justified' as well as 'God's existence is unjustified'. The latter would be as good as the former, thus Sye loses.

If you reject both axioms or the God axiom, Sye has no case, and Sye loses.

If you reject the Circularity axiom, I could say, "God doesn't exist because God doesn't exist", and Sye loses.

Nutcasenightmare said...

Oh and Sye, before you use your mantra "Under what systems of logic did you use to get to those conclusions?" to answer my previous post...

...I got each of those conclusions, using the hypothetical systems of logic themselves.

(Sye's) God Axiom + Circularity Axiom = "God's existence is unjustified."

No God Axiom = "An unchanging-universal-abstract God does NOT account for all things unchanging-universal-abstract."

No Circularity Axiom = "God doesn't exist coz God doesn't exist."

===============

I also wanted to elaborate on the point that even in those hypothetical systems of logic, you STILL lose, Sye.

Andrew Louis said...

And arn't we all going to fall into Godel's incompleteness theorum at some point here.... Your system of logic cannot prove itself, cannot be both consistent and complete.

Sye TenB said...

Paul C. said: ” 2. My belief is that any such laws are the natural outworking of the particular structure of the visible universe; more specifically, they are simply a shorthand description that humans use to describe that structure.”

Do they apply to unobserved phenomenon?

” You can be certain of their validity as long as they appear to work.”

1. How can you be certain of their validity if they only appear to work?
2. By what standard to you determine whether they appear to work?
3. How do you know how they are supposed to work?

Sye TenB said...

Anonymous said: ” I would argue that the laws of logic are NOT universal.”

Where do the laws of logic not apply?

”They may, however, be abstract and invariant.”

How do you account for abstract, invariants according to your worldview?

”What do you mean by uniform?”

Let me explain. When you brushed your teeth this morning, you squeezed your toothpaste tube. You did this because you expected toothpast to come out. You expected this, because you expected the future to behave like the past, or nature to be uniform. My question is, on what basis do you proceed with the assumption that the future will be like the past?

Cheers,

Sye

Sye TenB said...

Andrew said: "You simply said:
“Your on drugs”"


No Andrew, your memory is clouded, I, out of sincere curiosity asked if you took drugs.

Sye TenB said...

Rayndeon said: ” It is ridiculous and impossible to ask for a justification of these assumptions *since they are the very tools of justification in the first place*.”

How do you differentiate between conflicting justifications?

” Moreover, on the induction issue, it's not as God's existence explains induction or the reliability of memory.”

This begs the question that God could not reveal some things to us in such a way that we can be certain of them.

Sye TenB said...

Rayndeon said: ” 1. Those assumptions (i.e. deduction, induction, reliability of memory, existence of other minds, etc) don't need and *can't* have justification, theistic or atheistic.”

- You are asserting a universal negative. Please prove that there can be no justification for deduction, induction…etc.
- If someone posits a contradictory law of logic, is it equally as valid as a non-contradcitory law of logic, since neither require justification?

”2. By the same reasoning, the assumption of God's existence requires justification.”

God has always existed, and is indeed beyond time.

”3. Logic is neither causally dependent on God nor is it identical to God. Hence, God does not explain logic.”

This is merely an assertion, what is the argument?

”The validity of logic is, if anything, logically and metaphysically necessary.”

Right, so how do universal, abstract, invariant laws, such as the laws of logic make sense according to your worldview? Why, for instance, is there uniformity instead of ‘sound and fury signifying nothing?’

4. God doesn't actually explain induction or the reliability of memory at all.”

This is only an assertion, what is the argument?

Cheers,

Sye

Sye TenB said...

Well, it looks like I've addressed all the posts which made even the slightest attempt at answering my questions, if I have missed any, please repost them.

Cheers,

Sye

Rayndeon said...

Hi Sye:

"How do you differentiate between conflicting justifications?"

The same way we already do. Assess the support each justification has and choose the one that tends to be the most supported. Sometimes, we may have to admit that we simply don't know. What you seem to be missing is that these assumptions are *properly basic* assumptions - they do not describe specific arguments, justifications, or positions. Instead, *any* particular argument, justification, or position must assume or *rely upon* these assumptions. In other words, these assumptions are *necessary* for any particular argument, justification, or position but not *sufficient* for any *particular* argument, justification, or position. What you raise is irrelevant.

"This begs the question that God could not reveal some things to us in such a way that we can be certain of them."

Sye, I made an actual argument as to why the assumption of God's existence does not justify induction, immediately following the sentence you quoted from me. Please read the actual justification.

"- You are asserting a universal negative. Please prove that there can be no justification for deduction, induction…etc."

You missed the section where I did just that. The summary was just that: a summary.

To refresh your memory: "Look: we all face the problem of regress. The Christian God is not more *basic* than induction, logic, the reliability of memory, our sanity, the existence of other minds, etc. In *formulating* the TAG in the first place, these must already be *assumed* indicating that these assumptions are more *basic*. It is ridiculous and impossible to ask for a justification of these assumptions *since they are the very tools of justification in the first place*."

Stephen also pointed this out concisely: "Justifying logic is tricky. Here’s one reason why. If such a justification takes the form of some sort of inference, it will itself make use of logic. And so the justification will be circular, and thus no justification at all!"

"If someone posits a contradictory law of logic, is it equally as valid as a non-contradcitory law of logic, since neither require justification?"

I think by "contradictory law of logic" you are talking about the usefulness of paraconsistent logic and the question of dialetheism. These are difficult questions, but typically speaking, when saying that "logic is taken as basic" it is taken to mean that the law of non-contradiction is taken as basic. A paraconsistent logic or dialetheism would be rejected on the grounds that the LNC is assumed. This is not more of a problem any more than the logical possibility of a Matrix-like world should be an indication of something just as valid as induction, reliability of memory, our sanity, and the existence of other minds. This is the initial question - not a new one.

"God has always existed, and is indeed beyond time."

I said a *justification* for the *assumption* of God's existence NOT the *cause* of *God's existence*. By the same lights, I am just as justified in persisting in the belief of an eternal universe or eternal unicorns or eternal whatevers.

"This is merely an assertion, what is the argument?"

Here, I mistyped. Sorry about that. I indicated in the earlier post that nowhere do you show that logic is in anyway causally dependent on God or identical to some aspect of God.

As I said: "Moreover, just where the heck is any sort of argument to the effect that *only* under theism (and Christian theism in particular) that those make sense? It's not as if logic is dependent upon God either causally or in terms of identity. If theists believe that, they had better argue for it. And the theistic activism & theistic conceptual realism respectively required for *that* has serious problems on its own, let alone presuppositionalism!"

That is your burden to satisfy, not mine. By the way, as you're probably going to end up defending some form of theistic activism or theistic conceptual realism, you might be interested in the following philosophical articles detailing the problems with either position:

Davidson, Matthew. "A Demonstration Against Theistic Activism." Religious Studies 35 (1999): 277-290.

Bergmann, Michael and Jeffrey Brower. “A Theistic Argument Against Platonism.” Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 2 (2006), 357-386.

In case you're interested in some of my own somewhat formed thoughts on the matter, you may be interested in my post (under the handle "Dante Alighieri") at Internet Infidels here.

"Right, so how do universal, abstract, invariant laws, such as the laws of logic make sense according to your worldview? Why, for instance, is there uniformity instead of ‘sound and fury signifying nothing?’"

You seem to be talking about induction, not deduction here. The question of deduction is answered by simply that logic is necessary. It is metaphysically impossible for the laws of logic to *not* hold; hence, it is necessary that they hold, hence they *do* hold.

As I summarized here: "*Abstract* NOT *concrete*. Metaphysical naturalism, at best, only espouses that all *concrete* particulars are enclosed causally in spacetime - says nothing about abstract entities. Logic here consists of the *relationships* between objects of the actual world and all possible worlds. *Given* the existence of actual states of affairs, logical relations necessarily follow. All one needs are actual states of affairs (which necessarily exist of course - just not any *particular* state of affairs) and logical relations will hold. For instance, in no possible world whatsoever is a state of affairs S both actual and non-actual, including the actual world. None of this is really a justification of logic of course since it really *assumes* logic - it just points out that you're thinking of logic in the wrong way; as if it were required to be some concrete, physical object, rather than a set of relations."

Of course this isn't really a *justification* of logic (since it already assumes logic); it just shows that logic holds necessarily and is an exposition to the effect that logic holds in all possible worlds.

As for induction, that relies upon the existence of regularities between concrete particulars. The existence of any regularities whatsoever is ultimately a brute fact: inexplicable, without explanation, and *incapable* of explanation. It simply *exists*.

I noted, by the way, earlier that theism is not immune to this either. Atheists take the regularities of the natural world as brute. Theists simply tack on an additional regularity, God, that is similarly brute. A short and dirty explanation of why the existence of *any* regularities is brute is because any explanation relies on a regularity; but the explanation of *all* regularities must itself *not* be a regularity, and hence, not an explanation at all. A more detailed discussion of the necessity of there being brute facts is covered by me here.

So, while logic is necessary, induction is contingent.

"This is only an assertion, what is the argument?"

You missed the section where I tersely explained this: "Moreover, on the induction issue, it's not as God's existence explains induction or the reliability of memory. It works the same way as any other "theistic explanation": it takes some presumably brute fact X and "explains it" by saying that "God created X". In other words, *conveniently enough* there just *happens to exist* the type of God who created these things i.e. it takes God as a speculative brute fact. Moreover, it performs none of the functions of true explanation: prediction, elegance and simplicity, etc. "God did X" does not explain X anymore than "God created rocks that attract each other" explains why magnetism works. It simply *restates* the explanandum in question and forms a *tautology* that is empty and doesn't actually explain anything. It tacks on a speculative brute fact that doesn't actually explain a *known* brute fact."

For additional resources, you might check out my post here as well as an excellent discussion by a person named bd-from-kg here and here.

Sincerely,

A.Y.

Kosh3 said...

Hey Dante is here also. Well that's at least 2 Internet Infidels here.

---

Sye, I didn't want you to miss my most recent reply to you, which came at the very end of the 254 posts:

"I already have one, the thinking of God, as He has revealed to us in His Word."

Your assessment of that involves a logical chain of appeals; it is thereby circular, using the thing aimed to be proved.

"Um no, you are begging the question by assuming that God could not reveal some things to us, I such a way that we can be certain of them."

God certainly *could* reveal something to us, if he existed (he might also exist, and not 'reveal' anything, as in Deism). I just don't know of any cases of revelation. Naturally, I take it you are aware that the notion that the bible is god's revelation is extremely contentious, and not suitable for use in any argument you might want to make here.

If you mean instead something like mystical inner revelation, then this is not in itself an argument. But the moment you formulate it into an argument (in order to make the case), you are using the thing you are trying to prove.

"And how would you know whether those existing features are themselves rational?"

It is assumed (as it must be). You don't seem to see the intractibility of the logical situation here: you *cannot* use logic to argue for logic in any argumentatively useful way.

"By what standard of logic would an argument that utilizes anything that it aims to show be fallacious, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to those arguments?"

Technically, a circular argument is not actually invalid (you can have quite valid circular arguments). Its just argumentatively useless - it has no persuasive force. It is considered a fallacy, but it is only loosely so.

If you have been paying attention, you already know how to answer the other questions you posed.

Paul C said...

Do they apply to unobserved phenomenon?

Like what?

1. How can you be certain of their validity if they only appear to work?

On what other basis would one judge their validity?

2. By what standard to you determine whether they appear to work?

Whether they are coherent with experience.

3. How do you know how they are supposed to work?

This question doesn't make any sense.

Paul C said...

Everybody please bear in mind that Sye firmly believes that he is utterly destroying our reasoning in all the threads in which he appears. Don't spend more time than you have to on your answers, unless you feel that they're helping you to articulate your own thoughts better.

Andrew Louis said...

Sye,
Lets recap.

Prove that, "absolute truth exists is a proposition and give an example of an absolute truth and how it is not systemic.

What's that matter Sye, can't do it? Just say so.

Andrew Louis said...

Sye,
I'll make this easier for you. You say:
"The laws of logic are universal, abstract, and invariant."

State a "law of logic" and show how it is absolute and not systemic.

Keep in mind that once you start typing, you're doing so RELATIVE to a system of proof with you (your mind, your language, what you propose) and everything around you as the method of resolution. So, I'm not really sure how you're going to do this, but anyway, you may proceed.

Say something for me like, "can the sun be the sun and not the sun?" What I love about you saying things like this is that, THE SUN IS NOT TRUE (lets say it together, "the sun is true?", sounds odd doesn't it Sye). That the sun exists is not absolute, nor is it that it's yellow, or hot, or bigger then the earth. Although it is systemically true that all these propositions are true right now.

Things, remember, do not hold the property truth. The only thing true about things, is what we say ABOUT them. In the same way, the laws of logic are not true. What we say about logic (meta-logic) however, may be either true of false.

So come on Sye, let's get to your proof now... Pretty please, with some sugar on top, and a cherry.

SYE: Andrew, is that absolutely true?

ANDREW: Oh that's right, you don't know how to answer questions

Sye TenB said...

@Paul C

I asked: “Do they (laws of logic) apply to unobserved phenomenon?

You answered: ”Like what?”

You know, future events, past unobserved events, theories (such as macro evolution) stuff like that.

I asked: “1. How can you be certain of their validity if they only appear to work”

You did not answer, but said: ”On what other basis would one judge their validity?”

You made the statement, please support it, or retract it.

I asked: “2. By what standard to you determine whether they appear to work”

You answered: ”Whether they are coherent with experience.”

But how do you determine that without valid laws of logic?

I asked: “3. How do you know how they are supposed to work?”

You answered: ”This question doesn't make any sense.”

Allow me to elaborate. The only way one can determine if something works or not, is if they know its proper function. If a snow-blower makes noise, but does not blow snow, it is not working. You said that you can determine the validity of the laws of logic if they appear to work. What is the proper function of logic, and how did you determine this?

Cheers,

Sye

Sye TenB said...

Andew Louis said: "Prove that, "absolute truth exists is a proposition and give an example of an absolute truth and how it is not systemic."

Andrew I said that I would only be addressing posts in this thread that address my 3 questions. Please post on another thread so I can ignore you there.

Cheers,

Sye

P.S. Is it absolutely true that truth is not absolute?

Paul C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul C said...

You know, future events, past unobserved events, theories (such as macro evolution) stuff like that.

Future events and theories are not unobserved phenomena, so we can take them off the table. What sort of "past unobserved events" are you talking about?

You made the statement, please support it, or retract it.

I did support it; I pointed out that the only way of judging something's validity is if it appears to work. If you have an alternative, feel free to present it.

But how do you determine that without valid laws of logic?

Experience.

The only way one can determine if something works or not, is if they know its proper function. If a snow-blower makes noise, but does not blow snow, it is not working.

This analogy is false, since we are not talking about machines working performing function.

What is the proper function of logic, and how did you determine this?

If logic is a description of patterns we observe occurring in the visible universe, then by definition its function is to describe.

Paul C said...

Is it absolutely true that truth is not absolute?

If truth is not absolute, then this question makes no sense.

Andrew Louis said...

Sye said essentailly:
I cannot prove that absolute truth exists. As a result I'm going to ignor it and continue saying:
"Is it absolutely true that truth is not absolute?"

Sye also essentialy said:
"I cannot give an example of an absolute truth, and I cannot even prove it's a valid proposition."

Come on Sye, if you're so absolutely sure you're right, then answer the questions. I've already answered yours.

David B. Ellis said...


Even if our theist should deny this fairly obvious point, then perhaps they should answer why *the assumption of God's existence does not require justification*. Look: if *properly basic* beliefs such as induction, deduction, reliability of memory, sanity, and the existence of other minds are going to require justification, then by the same *lights*, the assumption of God's existence requires justification.


This touches on an issue I've thought about a lot recently (perhaps only tangentially relevent here but, like Sye's views, concerning presuppositionalism). In GOD AND OTHER MINDS, Alvin Plantinga argues that belief in God is as rational, without empirical evidence, as belief in other minds and other properly basic beliefs.

But theism is most distinctly NOT like, for example, the belief that your wife is not a p-zombie or that you are not living in the Matrix. The difference is that for the latter two beliefs empirical evidence can have no relevence to the question since it is fundamentally impossible to have empirical evidence contradicting it (any possible observation can be entirely consistent with both of them).

That's precisely why they're properly basic issues.

Theism isn't, though. With theism we can most definitely have empirical evidence that we should not expect to have if theism were not true (Jesus' second coming would be a good example). And so theism is not a properly basic belief. It is, instead, one which it is possible for empirical evidence to decide beyond reasonable doubt.

David B. Ellis said...

Now, to address more directly the topic at hand:


The laws of logic are universal, abstract, and invariant. 1). I'd like to know how they can exist, in ANY, preferably your, atheist wordlview, expecially considering the random, material nature of the universe which most atheists espouse.


First, my atheist worldview does not view the universe as "random"---simply not governed by an intelligence. These are not the same thing.

Nor am I a materialist. I am agnostic when it comes to metaphysical theories.

But as to the existence of logical truths in a world in which there is no God:

Logical truths are truths that cannot, under any possible circumstances, not be true.

If logical truths cannot not be true then they are true if there is not a God.

Therefore, the atheist is as justified in believing in logical truths as is the theist.

The only way to escape this conclusion, so far as I can see, is to deny the first of the above three statements (since the second and third follow necessarily from it).

Good luck with that.

Sye TenB said...

David B. Ellis said: ”First, my atheist worldview does not view the universe as "random"---simply not governed by an intelligence. These are not the same thing.”

So then do you believe that the universe is ordered? If so, has the universe always been ordered, and what maintains that order? Why is the universe ordered, rather than random?

”Nor am I a materialist. I am agnostic when it comes to metaphysical theories.”

So, in other words, when I ask how abstract entities make sense in your worldview, you don’t have an answer. Well, that is my point.

”But as to the existence of logical truths in a world in which there is no God:
Logical truths are truths that cannot, under any possible circumstances, not be true.
If logical truths cannot not be true then they are true if there is not a God.
Therefore, the atheist is as justified in believing in logical truths as is the theist.
The only way to escape this conclusion, so far as I can see, is to deny the first of the above three statements (since the second and third follow necessarily from it).


The problem is, the first statement only makes sense WITH God. For you see, I could simply ask, what, in any atheistic worldview is a logical truth, and why in any atheistic worldview can logical truths not be false?

Cheers,

Sye

Sye TenB said...

@ Paul C,

I asked: ”Is it absolutely true that truth is not absolute?”

You answered: ”If truth is not absolute, then this question makes no sense.”

Is it absolutely true that if truth is not absolute, the question makes no sense?

”Future events and theories are not unobserved phenomena, so we can take them off the table.”

Since you insist: Do the laws of logic apply to future events and theories such as macro evolution?

”What sort of "past unobserved events" are you talking about?”

Any past event that was not observed, you may choose. (Should be easy because surely you do not believe that all past events were observed?)

”I did support it; I pointed out that the only way of judging something's validity is if it appears to work. If you have an alternative, feel free to present it.”

No, you stated that’the only way of judging something’s validity is if it appears to work,’ but you haven’t even supported that ‘appearance of working’ IS a way to judge validity. Please do so.

I asked: ”By what standard to you determine whether they (laws of logic) appear to work”

You answered: ”Whether they are coherent with experience.”

Then I asked: ”But how do you determine that without valid laws of logic?

To which you replied: ”Experience.”

So you determine whether laws of logic are valid by their coherence with experience, and you determine their coherence with experience with experience??? You don’t see a problem there? How do you determine whether anything is coherent with any of your experiences without valid laws of logic???

”This analogy is false, since we are not talking about machines working performing function.”

By what standard of logic is this analogy false, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to that analogy?

I asked: ”What is the proper function of logic, and how did you determine this?”

You answered: ”If logic is a description of patterns we observe occurring in the visible universe, then by definition its function is to describe.”

Is that what you believe logic is?

Cheers,

Sye

Reynold said...

I'll reply to part of Sye's reply to Rayndeon. Rayndeon's posts are bolded, Sye's are in italics. My response to Sye is plain text.

Sye TenB said, in his reply to Rayndeon
God has always existed, and is indeed beyond time.
This is merely an assertion, what is the argument?


”3. Logic is neither causally dependent on God nor is it identical to God. Hence, God does not explain logic.”

This is merely an assertion, what is the argument?
I'd say the argument is
1) that your god never spelled out the rules of logic in the bible. Without that, there's no evidence that your god, assuming she/he exists, even knows the rules of logic, much less came up with them, or has them as "part of his/her nature".

As I've said before,
1) if god obeys the laws of logic because they are "logical" then they'd exist outside of his existence; he just finds them to make sense, like we do, and he (allegedly) follows them better.

2) If god defines the laws of logic, then he could have made up any old rules he wanted, making it entirely subjective.

You try to dodge that by saying something like: "Neither. The laws of logic are part of gods' nature".

Explain please. To me, it just sounds like the first option. Also, explain how you can think that your god is responsible for the existence of the laws of logic when he never even tells us what they are.


2) God is not "identical" to the laws of logic. Why? According to you, the laws of logic and god are both
-unchanging, immaterial, and forever lasting. You claim that since the laws of logic are like that, and your god is like that, that they are identical.

Problem: Your god is not unchanging. He changes a lot in the bible. He changes his mind when it comes to punishing people in response to prayers in the OT, he changes when in the OT, cripples and sick people couldn't even go into the temple whereas in the NT jesus/god himself touches and heals them, he changes when he makes an avatar of himself to walk around on the earth.



What evidence do you have then, that your god is responsible for the laws of logic?

Reynold said...

Let me rephrase my second point as to what Sye believes his god and logic have in common. Let me use his words:

----------
2) God is not "identical" to the laws of logic. Why? According to you, the laws of logic and god are both
-universal, abstract, and invariant. You claim that since the laws of logic are like that, and your god is like that, that they are identical.

Problem: Your god is not unchanging/invariant. He changes a lot in the bible. He changes his mind when it comes to punishing people in response to prayers in the OT, he changes when in the OT, cripples and sick people couldn't even go into the temple whereas in the NT jesus/god himself touches and heals them, he changes when he makes an avatar of himself to walk around on the earth.



What evidence do you have then, that your god is responsible for the laws of logic?

Sye TenB said...

Reynold said: ” God is not "identical" to the laws of logic. Why? According to you, the laws of logic and god are both
-universal, abstract, and invariant. You claim that since the laws of logic are like that, and your god is like that, that they are identical.”


Huh? Why do 2 entities with some characteristics in common have to be identical??? God has many characteristics that the laws of logic do not have, such as that He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent.

” Problem: Your god is not unchanging/invariant. He changes a lot in the bible.”

Well, like I said, I do not take my Biblical exegesis from those who deny the authority of the Bible, or those who, apparently, do not understand anthropomorphism.

Cheers,

Sye

Sye TenB said...

@Rayndeon

Thanks for your lengthy post. I simply do not have the time to respond to it, plus with all those asterisks it is hard to follow.

I can't even find where you answer my questions in your post.

Let me ask again, and if you keep your response short, I will do my best to answer it.

How do universal entities make sense in any atheistic worldview?
How do abstract entities make sense in any atheistic worldview?
How do invariant entities make sense in any atheistic worldview?

How can you be certain of anything in any atheistic worldview?

On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that nature is unifrom?

With your penchant for lenghty answers, perhaps it would be best to take them one at a time.

Cheers,

Sye

Reynold said...

Sye TenB said...

Reynold said: ” God is not "identical" to the laws of logic. Why? According to you, the laws of logic and god are both
-universal, abstract, and invariant. You claim that since the laws of logic are like that, and your god is like that, that they are identical.”


Huh? Why do 2 entities with some characteristics in common have to be identical???
Only in respect to those characteristics, Sye. You don't really believe that I figured those where the only traits your alleged god had? I guess I need to type more plainly so you can understand me.

God has many characteristics that the laws of logic do not have, such as that He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent.
Mere assertion. Where is the argument? Besides, it was you who was using the commenalities between the laws of logic and god to assert that he's responsible for them.

So far, you've not given any evidence for that assertion.

”Problem: Your god is not unchanging/invariant. He changes a lot in the bible.”

Well, like I said, I do not take my Biblical exegesis from those who deny the authority of the Bible, or those who, apparently, do not understand anthropomorphism.
I understand it, but that doesn't help you at all. You god did change the way he behaved between the OT and the NT. Don't believe me, ask a Jewish rabbi sometime.

By the way, what does my "denying the authority of the bible" have to do with your excuse to dodge my points?

David B. Ellis said...


So then do you believe that the universe is ordered?


I observe it to be orderly.


If so, has the universe always been ordered, and what maintains that order? Why is the universe ordered, rather than random?


Not being omniscient I have no trouble answering: I don't know if the universe has always been orderly nor why it is orderly rather than disorderly---and neither do you. Random is not, by the way, necessarily the opposite of orderly---but thats neither here nor there.

The question is akin to the question "why does God exist rather than not exist" or "why does the universe exist rather than not exist". Some things are probably simply brute facts.


So, in other words, when I ask how abstract entities make sense in your worldview, you don’t have an answer.


When I refer to metaphysical theories like materialism, dualism or idealism I am talking about theories concerning the nature of the basic "stuff" of which our world is composed.

Whatever particular theory is correct, there will be, must be, logical truths. Any metaphysical theory which would deny that there are logical truths must be false.

Beyond that I have no preference as to metaphysical theories. Nor do I need to for my belief in logical truths to be reasonable (they cannot, after all, not be true).


The problem is, the first statement only makes sense WITH God.


The above statement is inconsistent with my first statement. If logical truths can only exist if there is a God then that premise "Logical truths are truths that cannot, under any possible circumstances, not be true" is false.


For you see, I could simply ask, what, in any atheistic worldview is a logical truth.


I have already defined a logical truth and that definition is not altered by the existence or nonexistence of God.


..... and why in any atheistic worldview can logical truths not be false?


If they could be false under any circumstance (including atheism being true) they would not be logical truths. A proposition which can under any circumstance (including the existence or nonexistence of God)be false is not a logical truth.

That's what logical truth means.

What it comes down to is one very simple fact:

The claim "logical truths could be false if God did not exist" is internally contradictory---it is logically impossible for it to be true.

Your argument against the reasonableness of belief in logical truths if there is no God includes as an implicit premise a logical impossibility.

Which, to say the least, makes your argument nonsense.

Rayndeon said...

@Sye:


I can't even find where you answer my questions in your post.


I did so in my first post. See here.

How do universal entities make sense in any atheistic worldview?
How do abstract entities make sense in any atheistic worldview?
How do invariant entities make sense in any atheistic worldview?


A few ground assumptions first: I assume you're talking about logic here. I answered this very question earlier, but I shall do so again for your benefit. I also suspect that you are talking about metaphysical naturalism in particular, since there are inordinately many conflicting philosophies which are all compatible with atheism. For instance, J.M.E. McTaggert was an atheist who rejected naturalism, accepted a form of Hegelian idealism, and believed that all concrete objects were ultimately spiritual in nature, not physical in nature.

Now, how do I reconcile metaphysical naturalism with logic? Quite simply, actually. Metaphysical naturalism is typically expressed as (and it is certainly the variant I adhere to) that "All concrete particular objects are physical and subsumed under spacetime." So, no God, no ghosts, no immaterial souls, none of *that*.

But, what about logic? Well, metaphysical naturalism is a thesis only on the *concrete particulars* of the world, the "real" objects if you will, the flesh and blood of reality. It says nothing about abstract, causally effete entities that serve as mere categorizations of the world. Since, noncontroversially enough, these abstract entities in question (the relata of logic) are metaphysically necessary, since metaphysical naturalism is compatible with these entities, it follows that even if metaphysical naturalism were true, these relata would still hold. If you wish to consider it under Bayesian analysis, no proposition with a probability of 1 can be lowered by any proposition it is conditionalized to. So, for example, the probability of 2 + 2 = 4 is 1, and P(2+2=4|pigs flying) is also equal to 1. All that matters is that metaphysical naturalism is compatible with logic, which it is. Logic is not some strange concrete object we can point to and say "Aha! Here's logic!" Instead, it consists of a broad series of strictly defined relata. There is no more question of why logic works than why all bachelors are unmarried. Since these relata are necessary, they must exist and hence, they *do* exist.

How can you be certain of anything in any atheistic worldview? On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that nature is unifrom?

If you mean philosophical certainty, of the type global skepticism requires, I cannot be "certain" of anything. I cannot be "certain" of any of my beliefs or any of the presumably properly basic ones. I cannot be "certain" that I exist, that I am not in a Matrix-like world or a brain-in-a-vat, that I am sane, that I have reliable memory, that there are other minds, that I am a mind, that God exists, that there are natural regularities, or anything at all really.

But, whoever said I have to be "certain?" I am not "certain." You are also not, unless you think otherwise, "certain." But, we are certain, just not "certain" in many of our beliefs. I am certain that there is an external world, though I am not "certain" about it. The idea is that I cannot seriously doubt any of these properly basic theses without ceasing to function as a rational agent. Oh sure, a philosopher may *say* that he or she doubts induction or deduction or the reliability of their memory or the existence of other minds - they have the *professional* doubt of those things - but they certainly do not act or proceed along their lives in accordance to what they supposedly believe - they lack the *confessional* doubt. When professional belief and confessional belief do not coincide, one is being self-deceptive. And in this case, one is glad that such foolish philosophers are being self-deceptive, rather than being truly sincere in their beliefs. Else, they would behave as madmen, seriously contending that all sorts of insane things. For it is these assumptions that is the *essence* of rationality and doubting them is not an admirable trait. These are the sorts of things that I *cannot* doubt or seriously disbelieve, for without them, rationality essentially destructs and I can proceed no further. I cannot even conclude that it destructs or conclude that I conclude! Rejecting these principles is not optional - you simply cannot do it. To abandon these principles is to abandon rationality and any sort of hope of discovering anything about the world. Of course, I cannot give a *rational justification* of accepting these things, for any mode of justification will presume these assumptions to begin with. These sorts of things are foundational axioms, out of which all other belief is constructed.

This is a brief sketch of how atheism is in no way incompatible with or deriding of logic, induction, the reliability of memory, the existence of other minds, etc.

Sye TenB said...

David B. Elllis said:

"I observe it to be orderly."

How do you know that your observations, and the reasoning you use to interpret them are valid?

”I don't know if the universe has always been orderly nor why it is orderly rather than disorderly---and neither do you.”

So, on what basis do you proceed with the assumption that nature is uniform? By the way, how do you know what I know?

”The question is akin to the question "why does God exist rather than not exist" or "why does the universe exist rather than not exist". Some things are probably simply brute facts.”

Um alright, it’s a brute fact that God exists! How do you like your argument now?

”Whatever particular theory is correct, there will be, must be, logical truths. Any metaphysical theory which would deny that there are logical truths must be false.”

Why?

”Beyond that I have no preference as to metaphysical theories. Nor do I need to for my belief in logical truths to be reasonable (they cannot, after all, not be true).”

Why not?

”A proposition which can under any circumstance (including the existence or nonexistence of God)be false is not a logical truth.”

Alright then, how can logical truths exist in any atheistic worldview, and how can you know this?

”The claim "logical truths could be false if God did not exist" is internally contradictory---it is logically impossible for it to be true.”

What standard of logic are you using to determine that that claim is contradictory, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to that claim?

”Your argument against the reasonableness of belief in logical truths if there is no God includes as an implicit premise a logical impossibility.”

What standard of logic are you using to determine that my argument is a logical impossibility, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to my argument?

Which, to say the least, makes your argument nonsense.

Again, what standard of logic are you using to determine that my argument is nonsense, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to my argument?

Cheers,

Sye

Sye TenB said...

@Rayndeon

I’m sorry man, but most of what you post is just gobbledygook to me.

It just appears to me that you hide what you cannot account for with bigger words.

Let me try to respond to those things which I do understand.

You said: ”There is no more question of why logic works than why all bachelors are unmarried. Since these relata are necessary, they must exist and hence, they *do* exist.”

Are you suggesting that there is no such thing as logic not working, since there can be no bachelors which are married? Wouldn’t that mean that all logic necessarily must ‘work?’ Do logical fallacies work? If not, why not?

I asked: How can you be certain of anything in any atheistic worldview?

You answered: ”If you mean philosophical certainty, of the type global skepticism requires, I cannot be "certain" of anything. “

Ok, fine, then how can you say this: ”You are also not, unless you think otherwise, "certain."” If you can’t be certain of anything, then how can you know what I can or cannot be certain of?

But, we are certain, just not "certain" in many of our beliefs. I am certain that there is an external world, though I am not "certain" about it.”

Hmmm, perhaps you could explain to me, in english, why that is not a contradiction.

” The idea is that I cannot seriously doubt any of these properly basic theses without ceasing to function as a rational agent.”

What is your standard of rationality? Is this a universal, abstract, invariant standard? How do you account for that standard? I agree that you could not function if you doubted the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic, but how does that account for them?

”Rejecting these principles is not optional - you simply cannot do it.”

I agree, but again, that does not account for them. Why are there universal, abstract, invariant laws instead of sound and fury signifying nothing?

” To abandon these principles is to abandon rationality and any sort of hope of discovering anything about the world. Of course, I cannot give a *rational justification* of accepting these things, for any mode of justification will presume these assumptions to begin with. These sorts of things are foundational axioms, out of which all other belief is constructed.”

But how do these axioms make sense in any atheistic worldvie? That you must adhere to them to be rational, does not answer that question.

This is a brief sketch of how atheism is in no way incompatible with or deriding of logic, induction, the reliability of memory, the existence of other minds, etc.

Nope, all you are saying is why you must adhere to universal, abstract, invariant laws, but you have not yet told me how they make sense in your worldview.

If I ask you: “On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that nature is uniform?”

And your answer amounts to: “If I didn’t , I couldn’t function.’ I would agree with what you are saying, but it is not an answer to my question.

Cheers,

Sye

P.S. Don't get me wrong, I really do appreciate the time you took to make these posts, but if you don't answer in simpler English, I simply can't take the time to decipher them.

Rayndeon said...

@Sye:

I’m sorry man, but most of what you post is just gobbledygook to me.

It just appears to me that you hide what you cannot account for with bigger words.


Not really. I haven't exactly used any big words here. If there is something you don't understand, please tell me. Philosophy can tend to get disorienting at times with all the details...

Are you suggesting that there is no such thing as logic not working, since there can be no bachelors which are married? Wouldn’t that mean that all logic necessarily must ‘work?’

Yes. It follows as a matter of necessity.

Do logical fallacies work? If not, why not?

Formal logical fallacies necessarily do not work, as they do not derive theorems, unlike valid modes of formal reasoning.

Ok, fine, then how can you say this: ”You are also not, unless you think otherwise, "certain."” If you can’t be certain of anything, then how can you know what I can or cannot be certain of?

Well, if "certainty" of the type philosophical skepticism requires were needed, neither of us could engage in any meaningful conversation. I couldn't even conclude that I couldn't engage in meaningful conversation or even conclude that! But, I'm talking with the *properly basic axioms already assumed*. That is the only mode in which rationality proceeds and anything one can say can make sense. For instance, I cannot make inferences, make justifications, or make conclusions necessary to conversation without already assuming these properly basic axioms. For example, it is a consequence of the properly basic axioms being false entailing that the rational project is hopeless. Yet, in *reasoning* about the hypothetical hopelessness of the rational project under possible worlds where the properly basic axioms (induction, reliability of memory, existence of other minds) do *not* hold, I am already assuming these in question. Do you see what I mean?

Hmmm, perhaps you could explain to me, in english, why that is not a contradiction.

I distinguished between "certainty" in quotations and certainty without quotations to distinguish between philosophical certainty and the sort of certainty we usually mean when you or I say "I am certain about this." For instance, we are both certain that if we jump off the Empire State Building, we will fall. Yet, neither of us have philosophical certainty on this - we couldn't. So, the functions of certainty are *disparate* from philosophical certainty. I intended to make a distinction but I think you got confused.


What is your standard of rationality? Is this a universal, abstract, invariant standard? How do you account for that standard? I agree that you could not function if you doubted the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic, but how does that account for them?


Sye, I just spent a long amount of time explaining that one can't account for logic, induction, or any of that. You are asking me to do something I already denied one could do. This is also what Stephen said in this post - that you cannot justify logic noncircularly.


I agree, but again, that does not account for them. Why are there universal, abstract, invariant laws instead of sound and fury signifying nothing?


Sye, if you are going to ignore points I already replied to, this discussion is not going to go anywhere. I answered this question in an earlier post, where you asked the same thing:

"You seem to be talking about induction, not deduction here. The question of deduction is answered by simply that logic is necessary. It is metaphysically impossible for the laws of logic to *not* hold; hence, it is necessary that they hold, hence they *do* hold.

As I summarized here: "*Abstract* NOT *concrete*. Metaphysical naturalism, at best, only espouses that all *concrete* particulars are enclosed causally in spacetime - says nothing about abstract entities. Logic here consists of the *relationships* between objects of the actual world and all possible worlds. *Given* the existence of actual states of affairs, logical relations necessarily follow. All one needs are actual states of affairs (which necessarily exist of course - just not any *particular* state of affairs) and logical relations will hold. For instance, in no possible world whatsoever is a state of affairs S both actual and non-actual, including the actual world. None of this is really a justification of logic of course since it really *assumes* logic - it just points out that you're thinking of logic in the wrong way; as if it were required to be some concrete, physical object, rather than a set of relations."

Of course this isn't really a *justification* of logic (since it already assumes logic); it just shows that logic holds necessarily and is an exposition to the effect that logic holds in all possible worlds.

As for induction, that relies upon the existence of regularities between concrete particulars. The existence of any regularities whatsoever is ultimately a brute fact: inexplicable, without explanation, and *incapable* of explanation. It simply *exists*.

I noted, by the way, earlier that theism is not immune to this either. Atheists take the regularities of the natural world as brute. Theists simply tack on an additional regularity, God, that is similarly brute. A short and dirty explanation of why the existence of *any* regularities is brute is because any explanation relies on a regularity; but the explanation of *all* regularities must itself *not* be a regularity, and hence, not an explanation at all. A more detailed discussion of the necessity of there being brute facts is covered by me here.

So, while logic is necessary, induction is contingent."

But how do these axioms make sense in any atheistic worldvie? That you must adhere to them to be rational, does not answer that question.

Again, Sye, this is something I explained in some detail earlier as well. To refresh your memory:

"Now, how do I reconcile metaphysical naturalism with logic? Quite simply, actually. Metaphysical naturalism is typically expressed as (and it is certainly the variant I adhere to) that "All concrete particular objects are physical and subsumed under spacetime." So, no God, no ghosts, no immaterial souls, none of *that*.

But, what about logic? Well, metaphysical naturalism is a thesis only on the *concrete particulars* of the world, the "real" objects if you will, the flesh and blood of reality. It says nothing about abstract, causally effete entities that serve as mere categorizations of the world. Since, noncontroversially enough, these abstract entities in question (the relata of logic) are metaphysically necessary, since metaphysical naturalism is compatible with these entities, it follows that even if metaphysical naturalism were true, these relata would still hold. If you wish to consider it under Bayesian analysis, no proposition with a probability of 1 can be lowered by any proposition it is conditionalized to. So, for example, the probability of 2 + 2 = 4 is 1, and P(2+2=4|pigs flying) is also equal to 1. All that matters is that metaphysical naturalism is compatible with logic, which it is. Logic is not some strange concrete object we can point to and say "Aha! Here's logic!" Instead, it consists of a broad series of strictly defined relata. There is no more question of why logic works than why all bachelors are unmarried. Since these relata are necessary, they must exist and hence, they *do* exist."

I also said the same in earlier posts.

And your answer amounts to: “If I didn’t , I couldn’t function.’ I would agree with what you are saying, but it is not an answer to my question.

Apparently, you are asking for an *account or justification* of the truth of these axioms, not merely a reason for assuming them. I already pointed out that there is no noncircular justification for these axioms and that you can't give one. I also pointed out that this isn't a problem for us.

Sincerely,

A.Y.

P.S. I have had to repeat my same replies at least twice now. I cannot continue a conversation where my interlocutor is continually asking me the same questions again. If I receive the same questions, what else can I do but give the same replies? Is there some lack of clarity in my writing? If so, please point out what you don't understand and I'll be happy to clarify. Much of what is discussed requires a lot of knowledge about epistemology, modality, and formal logic. Perhaps I am assuming too much in terms of background information we share. If so, please tell me and I will attempt to remedy that.

Paul C said...

I really don't know why I do this to myself.

Is it absolutely true that if truth is not absolute, the question makes no sense?

If truth is not absolute, this question makes no sense either.

Since you insist: Do the laws of logic apply to future events and theories such as macro evolution?

Future events: you'll have to wait until they happen. Theories: I don't know what you mean by this.

Any past event that was not observed, you may choose.

I don't like choosing. I'd like you to offer one.

No, you stated that’the only way of judging something’s validity is if it appears to work,’ but you haven’t even supported that ‘appearance of working’ IS a way to judge validity. Please do so.

As I said before, how else would one judge if something was working unless it appeared to be working? I look forward to hearing your alternative suggestion.

So you determine whether laws of logic are valid by their coherence with experience, and you determine their coherence with experience with experience???

I determine whether the laws of logic are valid through experience. It's sufficient.

By what standard of logic is this analogy false, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to that analogy?

It isn't false by a "standard of logic", so I don't have to account for anything.

Is that what you believe logic is?

Yes. That's why I said it.

Stephen Law said...

Shoulders feeling bit better now, thanks. Can just about sleep/drive if dosed up with 600mg of ibuprofen. Torn ligaments I think, yes. Did something similar a few years ago....

Paul C said...

p.s. Unlike some others, I am happy to keep answering Sye's questions. The problem is the same for me as for all of you, though - my answers don't fit his script (which comes with an overwhelming presumption about the "atheist worldview", as you might have noticed), and so the only way he has of dealing with them is to continually ask the same questions in increasingly desperate attempts to get back to the script.

If I was in his position, I would be asking myself if perhaps the script was absolute nonsense. Unfortunately he can't do that, so we can look forward to such gems as "how do you know the sun will rise tomorrow morning?" for as long as he has fingers to type.

Steven Carr said...

SYE
“On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that nature is uniform?”

CARR
Well, as Sye believes nature can be messed about with by supernatural demons, the first step to assuming that nature is uniform is to dismiss the supernatual.

Believers in the supernatural have no warrant to believe that anything they see is real.

They teach that there are supernatural decievers in the world, which disqualifies them from enjoying the benefits of naturalism, such as a belief that nature behaves naturally.

When naturalists see a snake, they are entitled to believe they are seeing s snake.

When Sye sees a snake, he believes he might be seeing Satan in disguise, and so Sye cannot claim that he can believe the evidence of his own eyes.

Sye has no basis for believing anything. For all he knows, his car might be Satan in disguise.

Of course, Sye contradicts his own worldview.

He will presuppose that if something walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, then it is a duck - although his world view teaches him that it could well be Satan in disguise.

Once Sye has sorted out the contradictions in his presuppositions, then he can minister to sinners :-)

Sye TenB said...

@ Steven Carr said,

I said: “On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that nature is uniform?”

You answered: ”Well, as Sye believes nature can be messed about with by supernatural demons, the first step to assuming that nature is uniform is to dismiss the supernatual.”

I suppose you’d have to give me an example of supernatural demons messing with the uniformity of nature, but I get that you do not accept my account for assuming that nature is uniform. Still though, on what basis do YOU proceed with the assumption that nature is uniform. Kinda hard to compare claims if you refuse to submit one.

Cheers,

Sye

Steven Carr said...

Sye cannot account for nature being uniform (whatever that means....)

I guess his worldview is exploded.

All he can do now is parrot the same meaningless questions that he himself cannot answer.

But why should anybody listen to somebody whose worldview mean that he can't rule out his computer being Satan in disguise?

Even the very words that Sye speaks may be demon-generated.

So why should anybody listen to a supernaturalist?

James F. Elliott said...

The problem with logic is that it allows you to start with false premises, and proceed validly via logic to a true conclusion.

Bingo.

David B. Ellis said...

Sye. What you basically are asking us to believe is that if God doesn't exist then we have no reason to expect, for example, 2+2 to equal 4.

Why should we take such an argument seriously?

Sye TenB said...

David B. Ellis said: "Sye. What you basically are asking us to believe is that if God doesn't exist then we have no reason to expect, for example, 2+2 to equal 4.
Why should we take such an argument seriously?"


Perhaps if you answered the questions: 'How do you know that 2 + 2 = 4, and On what basis do you expect 2 + 2 to equal 4 tomorrow?' you would have your answer.

Cheers,

Sye