Sunday, September 30, 2012

Heavy Dexters Gig Tuesday night

I'll be playing drum kit with the Heavy Dexters at The Bullingdon Arms on Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1UE, this coming Tuesday evening from about 9.45pm till midnight. In the back room. Funky dancing.

Demo 2011 cover art

10 comments:

Rick Warden said...

Hellp Stephen,

Sorry to interrupt the drumming gig, but I have a quick question for you: Can you state whether or not you approve of a summary of your EGC argument offered by commenters at my blog? Here's the link:

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/09/7-reasons-why-dawkins-excuses-for-not.html?showComment=1349024720346#c5360182390828906020

Thank you, Stephen

Stephen Law said...

Rick, you ask if I approve the sketch of my argument. It's not a bad rough sketch of the overall structure, but of course the problem with such simplified sketches is that they are - simplified.

The one above to misses out a lot of supporting argument, clarification, and, more importantly, qualification. And there are some logical problems too, e.g. the claim in the conclusion that the arguments for a good God are mirrored by args for an evil God is not supported by the premises (the theodicies are not such arguments).

Like many philosophical arguments, the EGC argument/challenge is fairly complex. Setting it out formally would require pages and pages. Condensing it to a few short bullet-point premises and conclusion inevitably produces a straw man.

Because I previously refused to provide you with such a simplified “for dummies” version of my argument, you said: "Law apparently does not believe the form and specific wording of an argument is very important."

You concluded: "Law does not hold a high regard for very basic logical principles."

Thanks for that, Rick.

Actually, it’s because I consider the form and specific wording of an argument very important that I treat such "for dummies" versions of complex arguments with caution.

Rick Warden said...

As noted at my blog:

Hello Stephen,

>The one above [EGC summary] to misses out a lot of supporting argument, clarification, and, more importantly, qualification.

-I agree with at least this comment in your evaluation.

I believe it is quite possible to offer a summary that uses meaningful premises, as opposed to if X and Y.... Actually, philosophers whom I hold a high regard for seem to be able to offer these types of meaningful summaries of these arguments.

>And there are some logical problems too, e.g. the claim in the conclusion that the arguments for a good God are mirrored by args for an evil God is not supported by the premises (the theodicies are not such arguments).

If the claim in the conclusion is not supported by the premises, in what possible manner could it be considered "not a bad rough sketch of the overall structure"? That would seem to be a "logical problem" as you noted, a logical contradiction in fact.

What claim, then, should be in the conclusion, Stephen?

>Because I previously refused to provide you with such a simplified “for dummies” version of my argument, you said: "Law apparently does not believe the form and specific wording of an argument is very important."...You concluded: "Law does not hold a high regard for very basic logical principles."

- Your comment seems a bit oversimplified, Stephen. My estimation that you do not hold a high regard for logic is based on more than one observation. This was the larger context of the quote you offered me:

"The argument is already out there in various forms, Rick. Engage with them or don't. I could do you your own textbook version, set out as a deductively valid argument, but that would either leave various important stuff out, or else be very complicated in which case I don't have time." (April 19, 2012 11:53 AM)

1. The fact that you encouraged me to engage in any form of your argument I happened to find on the Internet does not suggest that you hold a high regard for logical form or the specific wording attributed to your argument.

2. The fact that you seem to avoid or mock the use of summary outlines flies in the face of most of the outlines I've seen regarding the most basic principles of logic.

3. Another point I made in a previous article highlights your admiration for Dawkins and The God Delusion, an illogically framed book:

"Stephen Law's most recent post on Dawkins offered a most favorable opinion of Dawkins' book, The God Delusion, "This chapter contains Dawkins's central argument, summarized in pages 188-9....On a second reading, I am rather more impressed."[3]"

I'm not sure how anyone who holds a high regard for logic could possibly consider Dawkins' God Delusion to be an impressive tome. WL Craig and many others have pointed out the logical inconsistencies. And Dawkins excuses for not debating Craig only add to the mix.

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/03/stephen-law-helps-reveal-nature-of.html

As compared to someone like William Lane Craig, who tends to present his arguments in a logical summarized format, I would say that your prose approach does not seem to be very helpful when it comes to verifying truth claims. The logical contradiction you just offered in your commentary on this EGC summary is a case in point.

Stephen, just to clarify...

If the structure of the EGC summary noted above is basically OK, but only a concluding statement is off, then it should simply be a matter of just adjusting the concluding statement. If, on the other hand, simply adjusting a concluding statement is not enough, then the structure may be off. IS that correct?

Thanks for your time.

Stephen Law said...

Sorry Rick, but this just ain't worth my time...

Rick Warden said...

>Sorry Rick, but this just ain't worth my time...

- That's OK, Stephen. No one will force you to try and clarify your own arguments.

However, keep in mind that the preface of your EGC states, "This paper develops a challenge to theism" and your responses have for the most part nullified your challenge.

The ambiguous nature of the argument, your self-contradictory statements and your refusal to clarify your own argument all serve to discredit the argument itself.

As far as I understand it, Imnotandrei has an advanced degree related to logic and he could not understand the main gist of your EGC conclusion. You stated of Imnotandrei's summary:

"And there are some logical problems too, e.g. the claim in the conclusion that the arguments for a good God are mirrored by args for an evil God is not supported by the premises (the theodicies are not such arguments)."

Imnotandrei's interpretation seems to be the most straightforward interpretation of your EGC argument and it mirrors your own quotes in the argument verbatim. 17 times in your argument you use the word "mirror," as noted in this comment of yours: "Notice how the evidential problem of evil mirrors the evidential problem of good." and this one: "The three reverse theodices introduced above to deal with the evidential problem of good obviously mirror the three theodicies we looked at earlier."

However, as 'obvious' and straightforward as these statements are in your argument, look at what you claim in your recent comments:

"And there are some logical problems too, e.g. the claim in the conclusion that the arguments for a good God are mirrored by args for an evil God is not supported by the premises (the theodicies are not such arguments)."

Perhaps you should take a little time to create a "for dummies" version that is understandable by your atheist peers and is logically consistent with your own understanding and comments about the same argument. If you contradict yourself and aren't able to adequately clarify your own points, why should anyone else even bother to try to understand your argument?

Stephen, Your EGC challenge reminds me of the Koran challenge, which goes something like this: The Koran is written in such an artistic and beautiful manner that nothing compares to it. If you can find any other writing that matches its beauty, wit and elegance, then you have disproved it."

http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Miracle/mirac3.html

As is the case with the EGC, the underlying implication is, "If you cannot intuitively sense the supposed underlying wisdom of the text, then you are just not perceptive enough."

Without clear premises in a valid form and a defined logical consequence arising from such premises, these types of ambiguous arguments seem to be nothing more than a ruse. Your responses have only helped to clarify that understanding for me.

Rick Warden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Warden said...

Law apparently doesn't have time to clarify his argument. If any other atheists would like to try, that might be interesting.

In the published argument Law states,

"The symmetry thesis

The three reverse theodices introduced above to deal with the evidential problem of good obviously mirror the three theodicies we looked at earlier. In fact, other theodices can be mirrored in this way too (see below). This suggests an interesting way to challenge theism."

Here Law is claiming that these "reverse theodices" are a way to challenge theism.

In the "evil God hypothesis" section Law states:

"I have already pointed out that, certainly in their simplest versions, most of the popular arguments for the existence of God fail to provide any clue as to our creator’s moral character. In which case, to the extent that they support the good god hypothesis (that’s to say, not very much, if at all), they also support the evil god hypothesis."

...basically supporting mirroring in a simplified form.

Law clarifies that there may be some asymmetries in his thesis, but not related to meaning, only related to "simplicity and economy."

"I acknowledge that there may indeed be asymmetries between the good and evil god hypotheses in terms of simplicity and economy."

Then in his conclusion Law offers that he does not believe his symmetry thesis is true... yet people are supposed to take the challenge seriously:

"Now I do not claim that the symmetry thesis is true, and that the evil god challenge cannot be met. But it seems to me that it is a challenge that deserves to be taken seriously."

1.The good-evil symmetry thesis offers a challenge to theism.
2. However, there may be not actually be a symmetrical relationship between good and evil. (there are ways to show there isn't)
3. Nevertheless, the EGC should be taken seriously.

As a further blow to his own argument, Law recently stated at my blog:

"...the claim in the conclusion that the arguments for a good God are mirrored by args for an evil God is not supported by the premises (the theodicies are not such arguments)."

So, it's no longer, "there may indeed be asymmetries between the good and evil god hypotheses" - Now it's, 'the premises do not even support the symmetry thesis at all' according to Law. So what is left of the argument? According to Law's comment, this would be the updated version:

1. The good-evil symmetry thesis offers a challenge to theism.
2. However, the premises of the argument do not support the symmetry thesis.
3. Nevertheless, the EGC should be taken seriously.

Law has basically claimed at least twice now that his challenge is logically tight but just too sophisticated and complex to be put into a formal logical structure. His recent refusal to offer at least a small comment to try and clarify the conclusion of his own argument has left me no other choice but to consider the argument an example of mere sophistry.

If there are any atheists supportive of the argument who have time to address these contradictions, perhaps it would be enlightening in some form. A couple of atheists / secular humanists at my blog were apparently unable to understand Law's argument at face value.

Stephen Law said...

Rick

You're clearly an unacknowledged philosophical genius able to skewer even professional philosophers and reveal their atheistic arguments are full of logical holes. Amazing. Are you entirely untutored? Could this perhaps be a gift from God?

Anyhoo, can I suggest that you send this off immediately to the editor of Religious Studies, the journal in which my paper was published, as he is duty bound to publish it given its deft and penetrating logical analysis.

On the other hand, perhaps this is a pile of crap that I can't justify correcting as it would take ages and I know you'll just plough on regardless...

Begemont said...

Dear Professor Law,
I recently wrote a comment on your previous article (American Dream—and anecdotal evidence), but I am not quite certain that you noticed it at all. Perhaps it is a rather silly question, not worth your while, which I suspect is the case… If you did see it, and it is not a question you are interested in responding to, then please forgive the intrusion. However, if you did not see it, then would you be willing to read it? It came to my mind this thought and somehow stayed there, as silly as it is. I have no intention of becoming second Rick Warden for you, so please do not be alarmed. I will not ask a third time.
P.S. I am reading your “Philosophy” book from the Visual Reference Guides series. Wonderfully done!

Rick Warden said...

Stephen, an atheist at my blog with an advanced degree in logic could not understand the conclusion of your argument, as you yourself pointed out. He is now using a false definition of theodices in an attempt to salvage your argument at my blog.

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/09/7-reasons-why-dawkins-excuses-for-not.html?showComment=1349264032080#c3396766387713774294


William Lane Craig and other prominent philosophers basically consider the EGC argument irrelevant. So why should the editor of Religious Studies consider it worth attention? Secular humanists will attempt to promote anything, no matter how illogical. Dawkins' God Delusion is a case in point. Remember, that's the book you have been so impressed with upon multiple readings.

"This chapter contains Dawkins's central argument, summarized in pages 188-9....On a second reading, I am rather more impressed."

http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2008/09/book-club-god-delusion-chpt-4.html

As noted by Craig, Dawkin' argument

"No logical rules of inference would permit you to draw this conclusion from the six premises..."Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist" does not follow from these six steps, even if we concede that each of them is true and justified... At most, all that follows is that we should not infer God's existence on the basis of the appearance of design in the universe. But that conclusion is quite compatible with God's existence and even with our justifiably believing in God's existence."

Craig, William Lane, On Guard, 2010, David Cook, Colorado Springs, CO, p.121, see online, Reasonable Faith Forum, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5493

The wonderful thing about logic is that it is universally effective and you don't need an advanced degree in philosophy in order to use it. :-)