Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sye on "The God of Eth"

Sye has read "The God of Eth" - thanks Sye, for doing that - and here's his response:

Alright, I read your “God of Eth.” My conclusion, it is entirely irrelevant to our discussion. Both debaters in your story are arguing evidentially, and I am a presuppositionalist, not an evidentialist.

Their debate presupposes the laws of logic, which cannot be accounted for outside of God’s revelation. That same God also reveals that He is all good. There is no logical contradiction with God’s being all good, and the presence of evil, as you cannot show that God does not have a morally sufficient reason for the evil in this world. You can’t even tell us what evil is, apart from an absolute standard of morality (God).

ME Sye, quoting from your website, I see you say:

"Don't get me wrong, I think evidential arguments are wonderful - for Christians"

Yet now, when I give you evidence against what you believe, you say you are "not an evidentialist". Does this mean you will consider and discuss evidence for the existence of God with Christians, but not evidence against the existence of God with us?

SYE Their debate presupposes the laws of logic, which cannot be accounted for outside of God’s revelation.

ME This is neither established by you, nor even true.

SYE That same God also reveals that He is all good.

ME By giving sweet, lovely people horrendous diseases? By burying tend of thousands of children alive, to die alone in the dark over days or weeks, in the Pakistan earthquake? Good grief, God's even a petty, jealous, genocidal maniac in the Old Testament. As Alexander Waugh relates in his book God - The Biography.

Randolph Churchill, son of Winston, had been annoying his friends by talking too much. They wagered he could not keep quiet for a week. Churchill, a keen gambler, thought he could win the bet by reading the Bible. But he didn't last long. After a few pages, he was heard to exclaim, "God! God's a shit!"

SYE: There is no logical contradiction with God’s being all good, and the presence of evil, as you cannot show that God does not have a morally sufficient reason for the evil in this world.

ME: Like many Christians, you seem to be confusing here the logical and evidential problems of evil. I am not saying God's existence is logically incompatible with the existence of evil. I am saying the sheer quantity of suffering heaped on sentient beings is very powerful evidence that there's no such all-powerful all-good God. We can show it's extraordinarily unlikely that there's an all-powerful all-good God in just the same way that we can show it's extraordinarily unlikely there's an evil God. And we can show that. After all, you do think it's extremely unlikely there's an evil God, don't you, and for just such reasons? Well, there are much the same sort of reasons for supposing there's no all-powerful all-good God.

SYE: You can’t even tell us what evil is, apart from an absolute standard of morality (God).

ME: Another common misunderstanding, Sye. The problem can be rejigged without reference to evil at all. Let's just talk about pain and suffering. I can, as an atheist, know what that is. So now explain why an all-powerful and all-good god would unleash literally unimaginable quantities of pain and suffering on sentient creatures over hundreds of millions of years (or do you think the entire universe is 6,000 years old?)

36 comments:

captain howdy said...

So now explain why an all-powerful and all-good god would unleash literally unimaginable quantities of pain and suffering on sentient creatures over hundreds of millions of years (or do you think the entire universe is 6,000 years old?)

~~~~~~~~~~

Sye pretty much believes whatever it says on the scrolls. Or the Golden Plates. Or however The Truth was 'revealed' to him.

anticant said...

"Don't get me wrong, I think evidential arguments are wonderful - for Christians"

Will Sye now please give us EVIDENCE - not just unsupported assertion - for the existence of any God, and in particular of his God?

If he doesn't, I suggest that Stephen wraps up this endlessly circular debate and moves on to something more interesting, as tangling with Sye gets us nowhere.

He's happy in his mental locked ward. Let's leave him there with his fundie playmates, and get back to the real world, where there are more urgent problems to discuss.

Rayndeon said...

By the way, Stephen, a number of philosophers and those philosophically inclined are convinced that not only does an evidential problem of evil work, but a logical one i.e Quentin Smith, Michael Tooley, Jordan Howard Sobel, and others. I also think that the logical problem of evil works.

I don't think Sye understands the problems that the evidential problem has for his view - it shows that it can't "account for logic and induction" (in standard presuppositionalist language) since it has a posterior probability of precisely 0. The general disagreement is not that there if gratuitious evil exists, God doesn't exist, although people like Peter van Inwagen have contested this, unsuccessfully IMO, but whether or not there is actually gratuitous evil. That is inductively established.

Rayndeon said...

There's also that little tidbit on absolute morality requiring God.

._.

Just where did Sye did the idea that not only is moral realism true, but moral *absolutism* is true, and that it could be true if God existed?

And note that many philosophers disagree entirely with moral realism - a lot of intelligent moral philosophers recognize that this issue isn't as simple as Sye might think it is, which is why there are a lot of non-cognitivists.

Frankly, that argument is a total non-sequitur. Even if atheists didn't believe in moral realism, you do Sye. It's an internal problem for theism. Secondly, it doesn't actually make one whit of a difference to either the logical or evidential problem of evil (or suffering it you will) whether it is construed under realism, subjectivism, or anti-realism. All it requires is that "evil" (of if you prefer "suffering") have a meaning, even if that meaning is non-propositional.

Kosh3 said...

Rayndeon: "I also think that the logical problem of evil works."

Could you expand on that briefly?

Paul C said...

Guys (including Stephen), I strongly recommend that this long, tortuous session with Sye is brought to an end. It should be clear to everybody by now that Sye has neither the wit nor the will to engage in debate, that he is reading from a script and not speaking from his mind, and that he does not in fact have any substance to support his position. This brand of PA is a set of tactics not a set of arguments, designed to make a particular sort of Christian feel as if they can compete with "atheist philosophers" such as Stephen.

The original presuppositionalists were clearly informed about the basics of philosophy, and were seeking to put an argument that could stand up to that level of scrutiny. I (and others, including many Christians) feel that their arguments fail almost completely, but Sye is merely their unwelcome offspring. His brand of argumentation makes Christianity appear both philosophically and morally void, a child in the playground shouting as loudly as possible in order to get the teacher's attention.

The tragedy is that Christianity is not the void that Sye presents, but the real tragedy is that he can't see that - and he can't see how much damage he does to his own cause. Leave him be. The only reason to engage with him is to expose the fallacies of his position and the emptiness of his beliefs - you'll never be able to help him leave the pages of his script, because he's so deathly afraid of the possibility that the world might not be black and white.

Rayndeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rayndeon said...

Kosh3,

Just shoot me an e-mail and I'll send you a (relatively!) brief sketch of my thoughts on the logical problem of evil. It's at about 8450 words or 33 pages. I'm certainly not going to flood the comments section with that! ._.

Sincerely,

A.Y.

Paul C said...

I could be wrong about the academic presuppositionalists, of course. John Frame:

Now normally “circular argument” is considered a fallacy. This particular type of circularity, however, I believe, is not a fallacy, but a necessity of human thought. Consider the following:

(a) All valid arguments are circular in a similar way. In the syllogism “All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal,” the conclusion is implicit already in the premises.


So it's not a problem that your argument is circular because you assert that it's not a problem that your argument is circular. Your evidence for this is an argument that is plainly not circular.

I also find Frame's "diagnosis" of the atheist's problem to be... interesting. He uses the example of a student suffering from mental illness in the form of paranoid delusions, and says

What we do, and what we should do, is simply to argue on the basis of our own standard of truth. How can that be persuasive to the paranoid? Well, perhaps it won’t be. But we argue in the hope that at some level of his consciousness he is still in touch with reality. And we hope, indeed pray, that if we press that reality upon him sharply enough, that reality might penetrate his system, rebuking his distortions, redirecting his perverted mind.

Essentially Frame appears not to have noticed that our understanding of how humans think has advanced significantly from the 19th century, which is where his views on psychology would be most at home. It also shows the rotten heart of presuppositionalism, naturally uninterested in debate and only interested in forcing their views down the throats of others. It's all in the interests of the patient, of course - just like the restraints, the purgings and the beatings.

Rayndeon said...

Frame and other presuppositionalists are using "circularity" in an ambiguous, useless, and improper way. Their views are *not* circular and neither are other views - they are *foundational*. This is why foundationalism is to be properly distinguished from the view that justification regresses circularly. The regress argument in epistemology has three possibilities: either our reasons regress infinitely, our reasons regress circularly, or our reasons terminate. Foundationalism takes the last option.

Rayndeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rayndeon said...

Essentially Frame appears not to have noticed that our understanding of how humans think has advanced significantly from the 19th century, which is where his views on psychology would be most at home. It also shows the rotten heart of presuppositionalism, naturally uninterested in debate and only interested in forcing their views down the throats of others. It's all in the interests of the patient, of course - just like the restraints, the purgings and the beatings.

Presuppositionalists are amateur non-philosophers trying to do philosophy with an axe to grind. There isn't much else to expect. It is not for no reason whatsoever that even modern Christian analytic philosophy not just rejects, but outright *ignores* presuppositionalism. At least views like atheism, open theism, process theism, and other things are discussed. Presuppositionalism is just *ignored*, LOL, because no analytic philosopher takes it seriously.

Geert Arys said...

What Sye really is saying is that non-Christians should not be doing science.

Science uses logic and any non-Christian 'have no right to do so' because being based on evidence and hard reality is just 'not good enough'. You need a meta-reasoning to prove reality first, in his reasoning.

But you see, Sye can't do otherwise. He's trapped. IF he accepts we MAY reason based on reality, his whole card house, the bible, just collapses. Just like that. Starting from the erroneous description of the origin of the world in Genesis.

SO, he REALLY needs to hold on the straw that we are not ALLOWED to think, unless we first know something with 100% positive certainty. Moreover, only HIS 100% positive certainty.

Catch 22.

That's why he'll not accept any interpretation of the bible without first admitting its authority first. Sheesh, talking about CIRCULAR thinking.

Anonymous said...

"SO, he REALLY needs to hold on the straw that we are not ALLOWED to think,"

Stephen demonstrated that we do not have to. As long as Sye is able to do so, he can do the work for all of us. All we need to do is suggest what Sye should do. Its a bit like the old puzzle with one guy who always lies while the other is truthful.

Anonymous said...

Anyway Sye asserted that the laws of logic result from the way God thinks.

He is in fact not a Christian Presuppositionalist but a "Thought Preuppositionalist".

JG said...

STEPHEN: "P and Q
Therefore Q

I can just *see* that it's necessarily truth preserving."

SYE: "Hey, I have no problem leaving things right there, thanks for that. "

Was that a concession of the point?

marko99 said...

jg-

After watching Sye run through this same script on a number of other threads, I can assure you that Sye does not concede- no matter how badly he has been defeated. He gets himself locked into a corner, as has been so nimbly done by Stephen, thanks his opponent for making what only Sye could interpret as a statement that proves Sye correct, then agrees to "leave it here".

At this moment, Sye is most likely presenting himself with a small trophy while standing on a plywood podium in his garage and listening to "O Canada" with tears in his eyes, savoring the laurels of his latest self-proclaimed victory.

Stephen-

I would like to thank you for your efforts with Sye, but more importantly for introducing me to the world of philosophy. I have truly enjoyed your commentary, and am now reading The Philosophy Gym. You have both my respect and my gratitude.

Sye-

You are absolutley pathetic.

By the impossibilty of the contrary.

And yes, I like that argument just fine.

scott gray said...

in my opinion:

'logic' is a construct, in particular, a model. models are how we 1) explain how things got the way they are; and 2) predict how things will happen or behave in the future. 'logic' is a relational model involving patterns, conditions, and observations. because it is successful as a model (explains things well, and predicts things well), it becomes a corner stone for much of our thinking.

sye, or anyone else, can choose to explain things and predict things without logic, if they so wish, by proposing a new model. but if only sye, or sye plus a few people, find sye's model successful, then his ability to function in the world at large is limited to those who agree that his model is successful, or to those who tolerate sye in spite of his unsuccessful model.

sye's 'god' is another construct; a model for explaining how things got the way they are and for predicting how things will happen or behave in the future.

oddly enough, when the models of 'logic' and 'sye's god' are rubbed together, their incompatability becomes apparent (as in the problem of evil). at this point, the supremacy of one model over the other, or the articulation of under what conditions each model is successful, or a hybrid of the two models, or some other model entirely, has to come into play.

for sye to say "the construct 'logic' is only successful if one accepts the construct 'sye's god' as successful" requires some serious condition limits. when the condition limits are set at 'objective realism,' sye's position becomes less meaningful.

i still think sye is just a clever spammer who loves to wrestle for the wrestle itself. at 1/10 th cent per disney hit, though, it will take him a lot of atheists to make any money...

peace--

scott

Stephen Law said...

Thanks marko99. and for your contrib. too...

Stephen Law said...

Rayndeon

yes I know some philosophers think the log problem is insuperable. I prefer the evidential problem though.

Bill Snedden said...

Sye (from the post): "Their debate presupposes the laws of logic, which cannot be accounted for outside of God’s revelation"

If the "laws of logic" cannot be accounted for outside of God's revelation, how is God's knowledge of them grounded? He cannot have revealed them to Himself. How does God "know" that A=A absent His revelation?

Rayndeon said...

Stephen:

yes I know some philosophers think the log problem is insuperable. I prefer the evidential problem though.

I like the evidential problem just fine too. :) Many of the moves theist's make there. Skeptical theism in particular leads to enormous problems for their theology, namely the inability to perform natural theology, rational moral skepticism, the rational global skepticism, and the destruction of the normativity of morality. There are other ways to refute skeptical theism (I prefer going the abductive route i.e. while theism + ST is compatible with evil, ST just makes theism all the more an ad hoc explanation, whereas atheism has better explanatory power here without resorting to ad hoc hypotheses) I like these responses too.

James F. Elliott said...

Bill,

Does that mean God is limited by the cogito? =P

Sye TenB said...

Stephen said: ”Sye has read "The God of Eth" - thanks Sye, for doing that”

No problem. I’ve been out all day and I see that I have some catching up to do with your posts.

You quoting my website: ”"Don't get me wrong, I think evidential arguments are wonderful - for Christians"

Hey, I thought you said you wouldn’t go past the “I believe that God exists” button! Wow, I knew it!!! :-D

Stephen: ”Yet now, when I give you evidence against what you believe, you say you are "not an evidentialist". Does this mean you will consider and discuss evidence for the existence of God with Christians, but not evidence against the existence of God with us?”

That’s right, since your presuppositions do not account for ‘evidence’ or its interpretation, whereas ours does.

Me: ”That same God also reveals that He is all good.”

Stephen: “By giving sweet, lovely people horrendous diseases? By burying tend of thousands of children alive, to die alone in the dark over days or weeks, in the Pakistan earthquake? Good grief, God's even a petty, jealous, genocidal maniac in the Old Testament. As Alexander Waugh relates in his book God - The Biography.”

Again, all these things will be interpreted subject to our respective presuppositions. There are consequences to sin, and you have no absolute standard by which you can call God unjust.

Me: ”There is no logical contradiction with God’s being all good, and the presence of evil, as you cannot show that God does not have a morally sufficient reason for the evil in this world.”

Stephen: ”Like many Christians, you seem to be confusing here the logical and evidential problems of evil. I am not saying God's existence is logically incompatible with the existence of evil.”

Then what’s the point?

”I am saying the sheer quantity of suffering heaped on sentient beings is very powerful evidence that there's no such all-powerful all-good God. “

Why Stephen, by what standard is suffering wrong? Without God, whatever is, just is. To call anything ‘wrong’ is to borrow from MY worldview.

Me: ”You can’t even tell us what evil is, apart from an absolute standard of morality (God).

Stephen: ”Another common misunderstanding, Sye. The problem can be rejigged without reference to evil at all. Let's just talk about pain and suffering.”

Same difference. As I said, by what standard is pain and suffering wrong?

”I can, as an atheist, know what that is.”

But you must borrow from my worldview to call it ‘wrong.’

Stephen: ”So now explain why an all-powerful and all-good god would unleash literally unimaginable quantities of pain and suffering on sentient creatures”

For a reason which is perfectly sufficient for God. And as I said, there are consequences to sin. If you think this is bad, just wait.

Cheers,

Sye

Dr Funkenstein said...

That’s right, since your presuppositions do not account for ‘evidence’ or its interpretation, whereas ours does.


How can that be though? Since evidence doesn't come with a tag saying 'this is the conclusion you must accept', and your presupposition has committed you to accepting certain things even if the evidence would suggest the opposite conclusion or falsify it (eg scientific evidence against creationism or a global flood, historical evidence that might make parts of the bible unreliable/wrong etc).

you cannot reach any alternative conclusion for any fact you may discover, making evidence largely (possibly totally) irrelevant to your worldview.

I think this is even pointed out in the book 'Classical Apologetics'

Billy said...

SYE: You can’t even tell us what evil is, apart from an absolute standard of morality (God).


We could humour him and take what the bible says and show the inconsistency of his argument from there.

lets take a look at a good "absolute" love

Love is defined thus:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Let’s take a look:

Patient? God gets fed up with humans and drown almost everyone in a flood (Gen 5:5-7).

Kind? God kills the first born of Egypt because of a gripe with one person (Exodus 11)

Not envious? By his own admission, he is a jealous god – especially where other gods are concerned (Exodus 20:5). He even orders you to kill your family if they suggest that you worship other gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-10).

Does not boast? Always saying how great he is.

Is not rude? He endorses a gentile woman calling herself inferior to the Jews and comparing herself to a dog (Matt 15:21-28).

Is not self seeking? Hmmm, let me see? Always banging on about his own glory and seeking worship (eg Isaiah 43:7).

Not easily angered? Well, as long as you don’t count drowning the world and punishing you if you don’t do what you are told. In fact, so petty is his anger that he gets angry with Moses for telling him that he is not a good speaker (Exodus 4:10-14). In fact, just type anger into bibletab.

Keeps no record of wrongs? Yet, supposedly he is going to judge people individually (eg Matthew 12:36)

Does not delight in evil? Well, if doing what is right is good and what you do is good and you rejoice in it and you make evil……. (Isaiah 43:7)


Rejoices in the truth? Yet he tells lies (Ezekiel 14:7-9). He also tells Jeremiah that Israel will be punished for 70 years in Babylon (Jeremiah 25:11-12). However it was only 49 years from 587/586 BCE to 538 BCE - oops, failed prophecy alert! (Rewriting the bible pp 154-156). The funny thing is that Jeremiah denounced false prophets himself (Jeremiah 29:21)

Always protects? Yet he is constantly handing his people over to their enemies for punishment (eg Jeremiah 25). In fact if you want a real horror story of what will happen if you don't do what you are told, read the thourghly sickening Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

Always trusts? God does not trust people (eg. John 2:24). This is a stupid thing to expect of people. It is perfectly fine not to trust convicted paedophiles with children for example.

Always hopes? So he has hope for those he will throw into the lake of fire for all eternity? (Revelation 20:15). Oops there is that keeping records of wrong doing thing again.

Always perseveres? That would be why he sent the flood and kills people then? That would be why Joshua was sent on a genocidal campaign where he had to kill men women and children for god (Joshua 6:1-7:1)– or when he hardened Pharaoh’s heart to destroy him and other innocent bystanders.

So Sye, god seems to be above his own standards? Is he lying? Does that mak lying a moral absolute in your book? God has lied in the bible though

Stephen Law said...

Hi Sye

You say as an atheist, I can have no standard of right or wrong. And your argument for this is? You don't have one, it seems.

Even if I did not have a standard, the arg still works, as you claim to have such a standard, and on that standard (which, I take it gratuitous, pointless pain and suffering are bad, right?) - YOUR standard, there's staggering amounts of it in the world. Far too much for t to be remotely plausible there's an all-good God.

So, you still have not dealt with the problem.

Got any other answers?

In any case, I can know that pain and suffering are awful, and that your "good" God (you define him as "good") would not inflict such horrendous quantities of awfulness, if he existed. So he doesn't exist.

Sye TenB said...

Hello Stephen,

You said: ”You say as an atheist, I can have no standard of right or wrong.”

Other than an arbitrarily stipulated standard, but that would not give us ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ just whatever your personal preference happens to be.

”Even if I did not have a standard, the arg still works, as you claim to have such a standard, and on that standard (which, I take it gratuitous, pointless pain and suffering are bad, right?) - YOUR standard, there's staggering amounts of it in the world. Far too much for it to be remotely plausible there's an all-good God”

How do you know that it’s pointless? Sorry Stephen, but I’ll take what God says, over what you say every time.

”So, you still have not dealt with the problem.”

The problem exists in your worldview, not mine. God has a sufficient moral reason for the pain and suffereing in this world. Why is pain and suffering ‘wrong’ in your worldview?

”In any case, I can know that pain and suffering are awful,”

But Stephen, is it wrong? If so, how do you know this?

”and that your "good" God (you define him as "good") would not inflict such horrendous quantities of awfulness, if he existed.”

How do you know? Interestingly enough, it is those who experience pain and suffering who quite often turn to God in their distress.

Cheers,

Sye

Stephen Law said...

"How do you know that it’s pointless?"

I just explained that. I guess your point is "Well, it's just possible there's an explanation for why my God would torture children to death. So ha! my position is reasonable!"

It's just possible that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden too. Fact remains though that there's overwhelming evidence against that hypothesis. As there is against the evil God hypothesis.

And as there is against yours....

You just chose to ignore that evidence.

Stephen Law said...

"Other than an arbitrarily stipulated standard, but that would not give us ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ just whatever your personal preference happens to be."

Another unargued assertion. Just like the others.

Sye TenB said...

Stephen said:

"Another unargued assertion. Just like the others."

Alright Stephen, what is your absolute standard of right and wrong?

Cheers,

Sye

Sye TenB said...

Stephen said: ”I guess your point is "Well, it's just possible there's an explanation for why my God would torture children to death.”

Um, no, my point is that God has a morally sufficient reason for the pain and suffering in this world.

”So ha! my position is reasonable!"

How so? You say that it is pointless, but how do you know this?

”You just chose to ignore that evidence.”

All evidence is interpreted subject to our respective presuppositions. Surely you can at least see that?

Cheers,

Sye

Billy said...

All evidence is interpreted subject to our respective presuppositions. Surely you can at least see that?


Sye, just because you have a presupposition, it does not make you right. Cant you see that? Your presupposition is that god exist - please try and justify that!

Are you going to answer my request for evidence that moral absolutes exist and that your god is necessary for them? Your case kind of hinges on this realy - or do you disagree?.

How would you argue with someone with an islamic pre-supposition (I think someone else may have asked that a while back, but you gave no clear answer).

Stephen Law said...

One problem with Sye's presupposition is they end up undermining themselves:

God exists
If God exists, he gave me reliable senses and reason
My senses and reason reveal powerful evidence against God's existence.
Therefore, it's reasonable to conclude the starting presupposition - God exists - is false.

The atheist world view (hehe!) does not have this particular flaw, I believe.

James F. Elliott said...

That’s right, since your presuppositions do not account for ‘evidence’ or its interpretation, whereas ours does.

So you're arguing in bad faith. I think Stephen's justified in asking you to go away, now.

Dr Funkenstein said...

How would you argue with someone with an islamic pre-supposition (I think someone else may have asked that a while back, but you gave no clear answer).

The argument against this that I've been given before is that the worldview must be checked for internal consistency

ie in the case of Christian presuppositionalism, the bible must be without contradiction, and it must be possible to harmonise any part where the information therein is not detailed enough to rule out ad-hoc stories that would dispel the possibility of a given part being contradictory eg the 2 Genesis tales are contradictory (due to the order of creation in both tales) unless one makes up a 2nd creation that was not mentioned in Gen 2 to harmonise them

Likewise for an Islamic presupper, they would have to show the Qu'ran is internally consistent. As the Qu'ran is supposedly not, since it (apparently) says at some point to trust the bible, and the teachings of the bible are not compatible with Islam, then it is internally inconsistent.


However, on the first part, whenever biblical contradictions are discussed with a presupp. Christian, not surprisingly they become very, very generous in the leeway they grant their own interpretations, as well as making allowances for virtually any possible story to explain away missing or incomplete detail.


Presuppositionalism has very little interest in trying to establish truth, and is purely a means of insulating the believer against the possibility his worldview may be wrong (as everyone is probably well aware). I think Cornelius Van Til (the originator of modern presuppositonalism), appeared to have pretty much this motivation according to this essay by David Snoke (page 23).

http://www.cityreformed.org/snoke/PRESBY.pdf