Wednesday, August 6, 2008

atheism and logic

Sye keeps issuing a challenge to atheists to account for the rules of logic. They can't, insists Sye. Only a Christian can do that, he says.

Of course, even if we atheists can't account for the rules of logic, that doesn't show they cannot be accounted for within an atheist world view. So if Sye is trying to construct an argument for the claim that only a Christian can account for logic, this won't do, because:

1. Our inability to do something does not show it cannot be done
2. Even if atheism cannot account for logic, it's still a huge further leap to the conclusion that Christians, and indeed only Christians, can.

Anyhow, can atheists "account for logic"? As I said earlier, there seem to be two challenges that Sye is pressing. They are:

1. How, if atheism is true, can the laws of logic possibly exist? What underpins them and makes them hold true?

2. How can an atheist justify his or her belief in the laws of logic? How can they know that, e.g. the law of non-contradiction holds?

The first question is metaphysical; the second epistemological.

Sye, a long time ago, said that question (1) was the question he was really challenging us with (However, notice that, whenever we answer (1), he switches to question (2), as if that showed we haven't answered (1) [e.g. we explain how an atheist can accommodate the law of non-contradiction, but then he asks, "Yes but how do you know the law of contradiction holds true?" etc.]. But of course we have answered (1), he's just switching to another question. He does this pretty much every time, actually, and will probably do it this time, too. I will return to this point.).

Now, at first sight, atheists have no particular problem accommodating laws of logic. They simply deny there is a God. But they don't have to be crude reductive materialists (they don't have to say logic "came from a rock", as Sye recently put it). They can be dualists, idealists, Platonists, etc. There's no obvious reason why laws of logic are not something that can be accommodated within an atheist world view. For an atheist world view can be very rich indeed. It just leaves out God.

Still, that won't satisfy Sye. I guess what's really bothering him is this question - "But what makes the laws of logic hold true on your atheist world view? What underpins them? What forces the world to conform to the law of non-contradiction, for example?"

Would that be your challenge, Sye? If not, what is it exactly?

Once we have an answer to this, we can move on to step 2.

22 comments:

Steven Carr said...

What is the law of non-contradiction?

For example, can my pet be both fully cat and fully dog?

anticant said...

Stephen, I'm not sure you understand that reason isn't Sye's currency. I'd be surprised if he's in the least "bothered" about any of the holes in his "proofs" which have been pointed out here ad nauseam. Sye lives by faith, not reason. He has repeatedly stated that "since the laws of logic are a reflection of His nature, and the way He thinks. God cannot be ‘not-God.’", and that logic cannot exist without God.

However much you go on endeavouring to engage him in reasonable discussion, I don't think you will succeed. Sye doesn't do that. He knows what he knows because he knows it. He knows it right or he knows it wrong, but he KNOWS it.

If Sye persisted in saying that he was a poached egg, I wouldn't dream of trying to reason him out of that conviction. I would sit him on a slice of hot buttered toast and stick a sharp fork into him to see what comes out.

You'll have to use similarly robust tactics if you are ever going to puncture his sublimely smug ego.

Rayndeon said...

The ontic question is very simple to answer and I have provided it in detail multiple times, although Sye continually ignores. Given the epistemic realm, logic holds necessarily, hence, it actually holds. As for the epistemic realm, logic is properly basic - it is without epistemic justification and *can't* be epistemically justified because any attempt to epistemically justify logic will itself use logic.

Sye TenB said...

Stephen said:

”Sye keeps issuing a challenge to atheists to account for the rules of logic.”

Yip, and you keep ducking it. Let me post the questions AGAIN:

1. How can you know anything to be universally true or false, without universal knowledge? Where have you posted your answer to this?

2. How do YOU account for abstract entitities according to YOUR worldview? You haven’t even told us to which brand of atheism you subscribe, so claiming that you have answered this is mistaken at best.

3. How do you know anything to be invariant? How do you know that the laws of logic have not changed, or that they will not change? Where have you posted your answer to this?

4. On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that nature is uniform? You totally avoided that question. I also asked that if you denied the uniformity of nature, why you squeazed your toothpast tube this morning? (Considering that you are from England, make that a hypothetical question :-)

Cheers,

Sye

Anonymous said...

Steven carr

"For example, can my pet be both fully cat and fully dog?"

Strangely enough yes.

I remember from an edition of QI (so it must be true) that the ancients had a single word which encompassed both.

You could also have one or more of each and be able to truthfully claim both "I have a pet cat" and "I have a pet dog".

anticant said...

"The ancients had a single word which encompassed both."

Ah, yes! so much of this debate is about the meaning of words and whether what they are alleged to represent actually exists. Sye isn't the only one who exhibits confusion over these issues.

Terence said...

Steven, I think Sye's "the contrary is impossible" argument is his way of saying that he believes his stated premise to be correct since there are in his mind no other (contrary) premises possible. This explains why he keeps asking "the athiests" to explain the "underpinnings" of logic: he's asking for "the contrary" to try and show that if they have no adequate contrary premises, it only proves his "the contrary is impossible" premise.

This is how I understand what he is saying; I don't agree with the reasoning.

anticant said...

I meant to add in my earlier post that when you stick the sharp fork into Sye-who-believes-he-is-a-poached-egg, whatever comes out - blood, entrails, or whatever - Sye will persist in maintaining that it is egg yolk.

That's what makes arguing with people of his ilk a sheer waste of time.

James F. Elliott said...

Strangely enough yes.

I recall that Leibniz's reductio method can be used to "prove" a contradiction, yes? Which is how we know that the laws of logic are not invariate, abstract, and universal, else they could not be broken by a method of logic. Ergo, Sye is wrong.

Maragon said...

"(Considering that you are from England, make that a hypothetical question :-)"

And as always, Sye has been bested and his argument degenerates into 'because I said so,' and 'well you're ugly.'

You're so predictable and pathetic, Sye.

Sye TenB said...

Maragon said: "(Considering that you are from England, make that a hypothetical question :-)"

And as always, Sye has been bested and his argument degenerates into 'because I said so,' and 'well you're ugly.'


Um, quite the convenient memory there Meagan. You are the only one who has called anyone ugly, and you did it before I commented on your appearance. My comments to you were only intended to expose your comments for what they were, and your reaction does that perfectly.

Besides, the England - teeth thing was a joke, and not intended as a personal smear, as yours towards me was.

Cheers,

Sye

Stephen Law said...

Sye, did you read the post carefully? The whole point of it was that raising the "how do you know" type question is irrelevant here, where we are discussing the metaphysical question.

Go to the following post for an atheist-friendly answer to these epistemological questions.

So what's you answer to my question in my post?

BTW, I don't adhere to any particular theory about the laws of logic. This is one of the many philosophical puzzles I am unsure about. I'm showing a little humility here. How about you?

Your job is to explain why no atheistic theory can possibly do. You have to rule out all atheistic theories as inadequate. How do you plan to do this, exactly? What's your argument? Looking forward to seeing it.

Of course, you do realize don't you that endlessly asking "But how do you explain...?" is entirely irrelevant here. We don't need to explain (but hey, I am providing some explanations anyway, just for fun). You, on the other hand, do need to explain why no atheistic account can succeed.

Otherwise you look just like a jerk.

Sye TenB said...

@ Stephen

I have laid out my challenge in my post (the 4 questions). I have posted those questions many times, don't know how you missed them.

You said: "BTW, I don't adhere to any particular theory about the laws of logic. This is one of the many philosophical puzzles I am unsure about."

Surely you have a position regarding them though? If you can't answer my questions, then you are actually making my point.

"I'm showing a little humility here. How about you?"

I would hardly consider it humility to posit that logic, science, and morality are possible without God.

Cheers,

Sye

Stephen Law said...

I have laid out my challenge in my post (the 4 questions). I have posted those questions many times, don't know how you missed them.

Didn't miss them. Some are irrelevant and some are answered. I'll be bothered to answer them if you can be bothered to respond to God of Eth.

Stephen Law said...

You said: "BTW, I don't adhere to any particular theory about the laws of logic. This is one of the many philosophical puzzles I am unsure about."

SYE Surely you have a position regarding them though?

No I don't. Honest.

SYE If you can't answer my questions, then you are actually making my point.

ME Well, it may be I *can* answer yur questions. So far, you haven't shown there to be anything wrong with my suggested answer. And I have a bucketful more.

But even supposing I can't answer them, why does that "make your point" i.e. that it is *in principle impossible* for atheists to account for logic (and that only Christians can)?

Really, please explain why. Clearly and precisely. Why.

anticant said...

Because Sye says so, and God has told him that's the right answer.

It really is time to give up, Stephen.

tom said...

Stephen,
You not only cannot now account for the laws of logic, you never will do so under a materialistic world view. It's kind of like arguing there is no air while breathing in air.

You've got no basis to trust your thinking under materialism. For that matter, you have no basis for any universal morality either. You've got no basis for purposeful behavior.

My guess is though, you live your life trusting that there are laws of logic, acting as if there are absolute morals, and acting as if life is not meaningless. If my assumption is correct I am glad that you are borrowing from a theistic world view. I submit though, you should stop the hypocrisy. That is unless you want to start acting consistently with your world view that everything is meaningless and end up like Nietzsche in an asylum.

In fact, Peter Kreeft says this about Nietsche: Did not Nietzsche let the cat out of the bag? The demonic cat that was hidden in the respectable bag of secular humanism? Once "God is dead," so is man, morality, love, freedom, hope, democracy, the soul and ultimately, sanity. No one shows this more vividly than Nietzsche."

Regards,
t

Stephen Law said...

Hey Tom. How's it going? How do you end up here?

tom said...

God sent me. :)

Roberto Clemente said...

Merry Christmas Steven!

Stephen Law said...

Thanks Roberto - you too!

De Ha said...

"1. How can you know anything to be universally true or false, without universal knowledge? Where have you posted your answer to this?"

You assume too much. In other words, you are thinking like a Theist, projecting it on us and then challenging us to back up what you assume we think. Assuming too much is how Theists think. We are skeptics.

"2. How do YOU account for abstract entitities according to YOUR worldview? You haven’t even told us to which brand of atheism you subscribe, so claiming that you have answered this is mistaken at best."

What we have here is Reification fallacy; treating abstract concepts like real physical things. Hell, you used the word "entities"! So, are you under the impression that, without God, there is no property, law etc? Let's test that hypothesis, shall we? Slap a cop, point out that the Bible says nothing about "assaulting a police officer", claim that "man's laws" are just abstract concepts, and let me know how that works out.

"3. How do you know anything to be invariant? How do you know that the laws of logic have not changed, or that they will not change? Where have you posted your answer to this?"

*sigh* I almost remember a time when philosophy seemed intelligent to me. Theists with their "you can't get an aught from an is" bullshit have ruined philosophy for me. Oh well.
STOP ASSUMING WE ASSUME! Also, how the hell would that happen? What exactly would cause 1+1 to equal 3 instead of 2?

"4. On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that nature is uniform? You totally avoided that question. I also asked that if you denied the uniformity of nature, why you squeazed your toothpast tube this morning? (Considering that you are from England, make that a hypothetical question :-)"

*facepalm*
It's not you idiot. I don't even know what you think we think.