Let’s count teeth

A little homily from The Chris Trotter Blog post – Counting the Horses Teeth. It is about political polls but of course underlines the role of evidence in science. Very relevant to current discussions on this site.

“According to legend, the radical medieval theologian and poet, Peter Abelard, once confounded his teachers by subjecting their received wisdom to a simple empirical test.

His scholastic masters had been arguing about exactly how many teeth there should be in a horse’s mouth. If they applied the principles of the classical philosopher Aristotle, they arrived at one number, but, if they relied upon the observations of another ancient sage, a different total suggested itself.

Backwards and forwards the argument raged until the young Abelard, frustrated beyond endurance, rose to his feet, and, calling upon his fellow students to follow him, marched down to the marketplace, where he simply forced open the mouth of the one horse after another – and counted its teeth.”

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272 responses to “Let’s count teeth

  1. Yes Ken, this is very relevant to our discussion in the other thread. I asked you what would you need to consider something as true. You said first that I would have to offer a hypothesis. But you don’t see that that standard is self-refuting, irrational. Show me the hypothesis that comfirms your belief that a hypothesis is necessary for a true belief. And then empirically test the belief that a hypothesis is necessary for a true belief.

    Believe me Ken, you won’t be able to. But please feel free to try. So where does that leave us? Well first your belief (that a hypothesis is necessary for a true belief) is self-refuting. And second, you hold beliefs that can not be empirically tested. Which would then make you a hypocrite if you demand from our beliefs, what you can not offer for your own beliefs.

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  2. @ James:

    Read the quote!

    One can go round in circles using ‘logic’, inference’, ‘deduction’, etc. And such intensive argumentation usually includes its fair share of misrepresentation and ego. (It’s probably what theologians are used to and no doubt develop expertise in).

    In the end it’s easy to resolve the matter. Go out and count the teeth. (That usually works in science – it may not in theology).

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  3. Read the quote!

    One can go round in circles using ‘logic’, inference’, ‘deduction’, etc. And such intensive argumentation usually includes its fair share of misrepresentation and ego. (It’s probably what theologians are used to and no doubt develop expertise in).

    In the end it’s easy to resolve the matter. Go out and count the teeth. (That usually works in science – it may not in theology).

    I understood the point Ken. And I also understand that you really don’t care for logic that much. Especially when your position is self-refuting. So can we all agree that the scientifc method is not the only way to fact find?

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  4. James said…”So can we all agree that the scientifc method is not the only way to fact find?”

    You have a practical alternative?
    How do you find out how many teeth a horse has?

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  5. James said…”So can we all agree that the scientifc method is not the only way to fact find?”

    You have a practical alternative?
    How do you find out how many teeth a horse has?

    I would count the teeth Cedric. But so what? What if there was only one horse in the world (and now long dead and lost) and I was the only one to ever count it’s teeth? Would my conclusion be valid even if it never was repeated?

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  6. “Would my conclusion be valid even if it never was repeated?” – it would be for that horse.

    However, you are surely aware that the scientific community is not stupid enough to generalize from a sample number of one. You are just playing with arguments to defend a position of generalising from a sample number of zero!

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  7. James said…”I would count the teeth Cedric. But so what?”

    So everything.
    You use the scientific method because…?
    (Yep. That’s right.)
    There is no alternative.

    When people go on about materialism in science, they’re talking about counting teeth (metaphorically speaking).

    If somebody has a better way of finding out about how many teeth a horse has then…demonstrate that way by USING this new fangled way that the rest of us have overlooked!
    Publish your results. Enough with the naval gazing.

    Don’t just moan and groan about scientism or “materialism”! Come up with a valid alternative.

    James said…”What if there was only one horse in the world (and now long dead and lost) and I was the only one to ever count it’s teeth?”

    Exactly. How would you go about demonstrating that such a horse existed? How would you demonstrate how many teeth it had?
    What’s your alternative?

    Remember: your memories and firm beliefs are not evidence.

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  8. However, you are surely aware that the scientific community is not stupid enough to generalize from a sample number of one. You are just playing with arguments to defend a position of generalising from a sample number of zero!

    That’s fine Ken. But I’m not asking anyone to generalize. Here is the point on all this. Many things we hold true (like yours and others definition of science) can not be tested by the scientific method. But they are facts nevertheless. As certain as any fact produced by repeated testing. Back to my Tea event, I know for a fact that I had a cup of tea yesterday moring at about 6:00 am EST on 9/22/08. That event and time can not be repeated, yet it is just as much a fact as any testable theory of science. And that goes for most of our memories. We remember a great many facts (perhaps about childhood) that are not open to the scientific method. But are nevertheless true and real.

    Bottom line, when the atheist ask for a testable theory for God it’s nonsense. Why assume that God can be know in such a fashion? And if no testable theory is offered would that make God’s existence any less of a fact? Of course not…

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  9. Remember: your memories and firm beliefs are not evidence.

    But it is evidence for me. Certain evidence. I know how many teeth that one horse had. Why should your ignorance bother me at all? Or change what I know to be true?

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  10. James said…”I know how many teeth that one horse had.”

    I know that you think you know.
    I mean, you know.
    Deep down inside, you really, really, really KNOW.
    You have special inside information.
    That’s nice.

    Not much good to the outside world though.

    You have failed to address the problem.

    ………………………………………

    How would you go about DEMONSTRATING that such a horse existed? How would you DEMONSTRATE how many teeth it had?
    What’s your ALTERNATIVE?

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  11. “Bottom line, when the atheist ask for a testable theory for The Flying Spaghetti Monster it’s nonsense. Why assume that The Flying Spaghetti Monster can be know in such a fashion? And if no testable theory is offered would that make The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s existence any less of a fact? Of course not…”

    Pure hand-waving.

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  12. How would you go about DEMONSTRATING that such a horse existed? How would you DEMONSTRATE how many teeth it had? What’s your ALTERNATIVE?

    That’s my point Cedric, I don’t have to demonstrate either. They are still true. Demonstrating or not demonstrating does not change the fact. Now you can take my word for both or not – but that does not change the facts.

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  13. “Bottom line, when the atheist ask for a testable theory for The Flying Spaghetti Monster it’s nonsense. Why assume that The Flying Spaghetti Monster can be know in such a fashion? And if no testable theory is offered would that make The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s existence any less of a fact? Of course not…”

    My point stands Cedric, certain truth and knowledge comes by ways other than the scientifc method. And they are factual. Also, if you still want to argue Cedric I will again ask you to empirically prove your definition of science.

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  14. James said…”That’s my point Cedric, I don’t have to demonstrate either. They are still true.”

    Doesn’t matter if they’re “true”.
    Without counting the horses teeth, you’re left in the room with the theologians debating how many angels can dance on a head of a pin.

    Unless you can demonstrate how you know things, unless you can provide evidence…then all you’ve got are your private memories.

    “Take my word for it!” is a poor alternative to science.

    It’s a dead end.

    You have to count the horse’s teeth. It’s that simple.

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  15. “And they are factual.”

    Yes, of course they are. I believe you. Really.
    The Flying Spaghetti Monster approves of the way you view facts.

    🙂

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  16. You have to count the horse’s teeth. It’s that simple.

    But I did count the horse’s teeth. You didn’t. So I have factual knowledge that you don’t have. And it’s “factness” – if you will, does not depend on whether I can demonstrate it to you or not.

    “Take my word for it!” is a poor alternative to science.

    Then empirically prove that your definition of science is true by repeated testing. Or should I take your word for it?

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  17. You don’t have to take anyones word for it. Do the experiments, test it yourself, let us know if you get some different results.

    Myself, I am not buying any used cars (or gods) sight unseen from you any time soon James.

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  18. You don’t have to take anyones word for it. Do the experiments, test it yourself, let us know if you get some different results.

    Nick, perhaps you missed the point. See my first post in this thread.

    Myself, I am not buying any used cars (or gods) sight unseen from you any time soon James.

    Did I ever ask you to?

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  19. @ James:

    You are preoccupied with your god and seem to be doing everything to impose it on others in the discussions here (I don’t think anyone is asking you for a “testable theory for god” in this discussion).

    The problem here is that your are equating science with atheism (as in your description of “debating some atheists in New Zealand” on the The Narrow Path Ministries forum)- which no doubt offends Christians who defend science in commenting here (in fact I think I am the only one here who has declared atheist beliefs [see The atheist label] – and then not as part of this discussion).

    You are quite welcome to you religious beliefs – and out secular society guarantees your freedoms in that respect – but really they are irrelevant to discussions of science and human rights.

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  20. “But I did count the horse’s teeth. You didn’t.”

    This is only an assertion.
    If your going to share your knowledge then you must demonstrate it.

    A scientist doesn’t get paid to find out things and then pat himself/herself on the back and say “well done”.
    You’ve go to demonstrate your discovery.

    “And it’s “factness” – if you will, does not depend on whether I can demonstrate it to you or not.”

    So says every crack-pot and loonie out there. It’s a cop-out.
    You have to present evidence.
    You have to demonstrate.

    “I counted them. Trust me. Would I lie to you?”

    Investigation, not revelation.

    Count the teeth.

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  21. You are quite welcome to you religious beliefs – and out secular society guarantees your freedoms in that respect – but really they are irrelevant to discussions of science and human rights.

    Ken, yet you don’t support my freedom of religion. Again, you were the one who called it child abuse to teach our children 6 day creationism. Why should I trust what you are saying now?

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  22. “But I did count the horse’s teeth. You didn’t.”

    This is only an assertion.
    If your going to share your knowledge then you must demonstrate it.

    A scientist doesn’t get paid to find out things and then pat himself/herself on the back and say “well done”.
    You’ve go to demonstrate your discovery.

    “And it’s “factness” – if you will, does not depend on whether I can demonstrate it to you or not.”

    So says every crack-pot and loonie out there. It’s a cop-out.
    You have to present evidence.
    You have to demonstrate.

    “I counted them. Trust me. Would I lie to you?”

    Investigation, not revelation.

    Count the teeth.

    1. Again Cedric, my knowledge of the number of horse’s teeth is a “fact” whether I could demonstrate or not. And that is the point. There are many things or facts we know and come by that are not open the the scientific method, and are true nevertheless. Why are you having such a hard time with that?

    2. Let me ask you. If there was a all knowing God who communicated to man why wouldn’t revelation trump investigation? Wouldn’t He be in a position to know way more than us?

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  23. James, arguing your case in bold type doesn’t really help.
    Tone it down.

    James said…”There are many things or facts we know and come by that are not open the the scientific method, and are true nevertheless.”

    There’s not a single New Age Hippie that would disagree with you.
    Groovy.

    “If there was a all knowing God who communicated to man why wouldn’t revelation trump investigation?”

    Because people lie?
    or
    They can be delusional?
    or
    Because nice, honest, well-meaning people can get it badly wrong?
    or
    People can unconsciously develop a selective memory?

    Revelation doesn’t work.
    It just creates employment for false prophets.

    You have to count the horse’s teeth.

    Derren Brown “instant conversion” part 1
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=2Sq-YUdq1OI

    The Power of Belief w/ John Stossel 1/5
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=B6FhmqgFKIQ

    (the children really see the fox!)

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  24. There’s not a single New Age Hippie that would disagree with you.

    Again, let me ask you. How is my having tea this morning any less of a “fact” than anything science has discovered. Be specific please.

    Because people lie?
    or
    They can be delusional?
    or
    Because nice, honest, well-meaning people can get it badly wrong?
    or
    People can unconsciously develop a selective memory?

    You mean like scientists? And scientific group think? And selective evidence minning?

    But that was not the question. If an all knowing Creator communicated to man would that not trump investigation?

    Yes or no?

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  25. James said…”You mean like scientists?’

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    That’s why counting teeth (the scientific method) is so important.

    Scientists are people.
    People lie. People get confused. People make mistakes, both honest and otherwise.

    If a scientist stand up and says “Hey, I’ve dicovered something” then the rest of the scientific community doesn’t immediately throw laurels at him/her.

    They don’t just toss a Nobel Prize at him.

    It doesn’t matter about how famous or honest or respected or smart or educated or rich or connected or powerful he/she is.

    The response of the scientific community will be the same.

    “Show us your evidence or we’ll gut you like a fish in public”

    If a scientist was so stupid as to say “Um, well, look here, you all know me. I’ve got a PHd and all that. Um…Look. I know what I know. It’s a fact. So there. See?”

    (insert sounds of cutlery being eagerly sharpened here)

    “If an all knowing Creator communicated to man would that not trump investigation?”

    No.
    If the Flying Spaghetti Monster touched somebody with His Noodly Appendage that would not trump investigation.

    Absolutely anybody can say “The FSM touched me.”

    They may actually even believe it.
    Many of them probably do.

    Happens all the time throughout history.
    How do you think all these gods got their start in life?
    Revelation.

    How do the kids know for a fact that there really is a fox in the box? Revelation.

    How Many Gods?
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=KRLp5FZihuc

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  26. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    The response of the scientific community will be the same.

    But you assume that bias and presuppositions end with the individual. Where both may lie with the group. In other words the community could just as well be wrong, or wrongly interpreting the evidence. I wonder how much your Derren Brown video would apply to scientists as a group…

    It wasn’t that long ago that most scientists believed in Newtonian gravity, a steady state universe, continental drift etc…

    No.
    If the Flying Spaghetti Monster touched somebody with His Noodly Appendage that would not trump investigation.

    Again you are not dealing with the question. I did not suggest that God “touched” anyone. I said He communicated – and the fact is Cedric, if such a all knowing God did communicate then that information would clearly trump our petty investigations. By light years…

    BTW you forgot this: How is my having tea this morning any less of a “fact” than anything science has discovered. Be specific please.

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  27. Just a side note Cedric on the steady state universe. When I was going to school (50s) they were still teaching a steady state universe. That the universe was eternal.

    But “Revelation” said that the universe had a beginning. Which one was correct?

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  28. @ James:

    Count the teeth, James. Not hard in this case. I am a supporter of freedom of religion and belief as you are no doubt aware from reading my posts and comments here.

    But you have ignored my point about your characterisation of defenders of science as atheists – a position based on your faulty logic, not from counting teeth.

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  29. James said…”But you assume that bias and presuppositions end with the individual. Where both may lie with the group.”

    No James. I’m not assuming anything of the sort.
    You are not covering any new ground here.

    People have thought about this before, you know.
    Scientists think about it all the time.

    James said…”It wasn’t that long ago that most scientists believed in Newtonian gravity, a steady state universe, continental drift etc…”

    So? What’s your point?

    Revelation doesn’t help. It’s functionally useless.

    James said…”When I was going to school (50s) they were still teaching a steady state universe. That the universe was eternal.”

    Scientific knowledge was and is tentative.
    The reason why it’s been changed is because…people did some hard work and found new ways to count teeth.
    It’s called scientific progress. We build on prior knowledge.
    If we find a better explanation for things then…it’s in with the new and out with the old.
    That’s not a weakness. It’s a great strength.

    Revelation doesn’t produce a thing.
    It’s just a way to avoid hard work.
    There is no alternative to the scientific method and you are not offering one.

    James said…”I did not suggest that God “touched” anyone. I said He communicated – and the fact is Cedric, if such a all knowing God did communicate then that information would clearly trump our petty investigations.”

    Yes, but you have to understand the nature of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. According to His nature, He communicates by touching with his noodly appendage.
    When a Pastafarian says “I’m touched”, they really mean it.
    It’s a revelation.

    If you talk to god, that’s called prayer.
    If god talks back, that’s called schizophrenia.

    ……………………………………………….

    “How is my having tea this morning any less of a “fact” than anything science has discovered. Be specific please.”

    What are you going on about?
    You want to tell the world that you drank tea this morning?
    OK. Umm. Sure.
    (shrug)
    You drank tea. I’m prepared to take your word for it.

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  30. I’m happy to stand corrected (I’m not a geologist, after all), but my understanding is that continental drift hasn’t been “proven wrong” or the like, but extended with more recent work to what is now known as plate tectonics, in much the way that the modern synthesis of the theory of evolution extended Darwin’s earlier work.

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  31. @ Heraclides:

    And I would say ‘continental drift ‘ is really part of evolutionary science these day as it has provided an understanding enabling predictions about the likely locations of fossil remains. Predictions which have enabled testing and confirmation as, for example, in the case of the evolutionary background of tetrapods and whales.

    Counting teeth again.

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  32. For anybody who’s into plate tectonics/continental drift here’s a very well thought out resourse on the subject.

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/dynamic/historical.html

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  33. Count the teeth, James. Not hard in this case. I am a supporter of freedom of religion and belief as you are no doubt aware from reading my posts and comments here.

    So do you still think that teaching our kids 6 day creationism is child abuse? Do you support my freedom to do so? My freedom to practice that form of child abuse?

    But you have ignored my point about your characterisation of defenders of science as atheists – a position based on your faulty logic, not from counting teeth.

    I know many defenders of science that are christian. But as far as I can tell you, Stavros and Cedric (with whom I have had most of my discussions of late) are atheists. Am I wrong?

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  34. Revelation doesn’t produce a thing.It’s just a way to avoid hard work.There is no alternative to the scientific method and you are not offering one.

    Revelation could produce truth. Again who was correct – the scientists of the last century who said the universe was eternal or Revelation that said the universe began? Truth is truth Cedric no matter where it comes from.

    Yes, but you have to understand the nature of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. According to His nature, He communicates by touching with his noodly appendage.
    When a Pastafarian says “I’m touched”, they really mean it.
    It’s a revelation.

    Well my God communicates verbally when necessary in terms we can understand. The point is Cedric, if and I stress if at this point, such an all knowing Creator did exist He would be in a position to know way more than us. I think most readers would grant that fact.

    What are you going on about?
    You want to tell the world that you drank tea this morning?
    OK. Umm. Sure.
    (shrug)
    You drank tea. I’m prepared to take your word for it.

    But it’s not repeatable on that specific day or time. You can not prove it scientifically. Yet that historical event is just as true, and just as much a fact as any scientific discovery.

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  35. @ James:

    So what did I say about child abuse – again let’s count the teeth by going to “Biblically correct” child abuse?.
    “When children are denied access to science, to an understanding of reality, that is immoral. It’s a form of child abuse.”

    Yes I do think lying to one’s children and denying them access to humanity’s best knowledge is a form of child abuse. The fact is that child abuse covers a very wide spectrum. Refusal to see it as anything other than physical or sexual abuse is refusing to recognise many real forms of abuse. That, in itself, is harmful to the victims of this abuse. I have tried to make those points in Facing up to child abuse and Psychological and religious abuse of children if you are interested in trying to understand where I come from on this.

    Teaching about ‘special creationism’ is not child abuse. After all, how can we teach biological knowledge in any real historical way without referring to those old ideas which we now know to be wrong. It’s like referring to the theory of phlogiston when we teach chemistry.

    James – you have characterised your debates here as ‘debating atheists’ despite the fact that several of those you argue against are actually Christians – and have declared themselves as such. (I don’t remember anyone besides myself declaring themselves as atheist – not that it matters because I think one’s religious affiliation are not relevant to the discussion of science). That tells me that when you get into these sort of discussions you see scientists, and supporters of scientific approaches, as atheists. This colours your interpretations of their comments, and you understanding of the subject. Consequently, rather than discussing the real issues – scientific process and how this is being attacked – you end up on your own religious hobby horse and attempt to ram your own minority religious position down everyone’s throats.

    How else could the promotion of ‘revelation’ ever come into a rational discussion of science.

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  36. Yes I do think lying to one’s children and denying them access to humanity’s best knowledge is a form of child abuse.

    I hope you don’t have any children then Ken, because by your own criteria I believe you would be abusing them. What should I do about that?

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  37. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    Four children and four grandchildren (so far) – proud of them all!!

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  38. James – you have characterised your debates here as ‘debating atheists’ despite the fact that several of those you argue against are actually Christians – and have declared themselves as such. (I don’t remember anyone besides myself declaring themselves as atheist – not that it matters because I think one’s religious affiliation are not relevant to the discussion of science). That tells me that when you get into these sort of discussions you see scientists, and supporters of scientific approaches, as atheists. This colours your interpretations of their comments, and you understanding of the subject.

    That is just silly Ken, I knew you were an atheist and I did visit Stavros’ and Cedric’s site early on, so I knew they were atheists. BTW – who exactly are the christians here that I have been debating.

    Yes I do think lying to one’s children and denying them access to humanity’s best knowledge is a form of child abuse. The fact is that child abuse covers a very wide spectrum. Refusal to see it as anything other than physical or sexual abuse is refusing to recognise many real forms of abuse. That, in itself, is harmful to the victims of this abuse. I have tried to make those points in Facing up to child abuse and Psychological and religious abuse of children if you are interested in trying to understand where I come from on this.

    You are proving my point Ken. All your talk about religious freedom is empty rhetoric. See, if our beliefs don’t agree with you beliefs then you are willing to take away our kids. Or at least re-educate them. Hey maybe we could have re-education camps – that would be fun!

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  39. James said…”Revelation could produce truth.”

    Revelation COULD produce truth? Huh?

    “The point is Cedric, if and I stress if at this point, such an all knowing Creator did exist He would be in a position to know way more than us.”

    If an all knowing Flying Spaghetti Monster did exist He would be in a position to know way more than us.
    Meat sauce especially!

    “You can not prove it scientifically.”

    Well, that’s not really saying much coming from you now is it?
    Nothing can be proved scientifically to your satisfaction.

    Remember these clangers?

    “But since all of science is tentative, and since there may be a whole slew of facts out there that may or may not comfirm our present understanding, I will reserve judgement.”

    “…the other problem is – we just were not there.”

    Oops.

    However, if you drink tea in your kitchen, and you wanted to demonstate it…then you could.
    Scientifically.

    You could even repeat it.

    It would be simple enough to do.

    As Carl Sagan said…”Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”

    Mundane claims, however, don’t demand much evidence at all.

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  40. James said…”I did visit Stavros’ and Cedric’s site early on, so I knew they were atheists.”

    Um, I don’t have a site.

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  41. James said…”I did visit Stavros’ and Cedric’s site early on, so I knew they were atheists.”

    Um, I don’t have a site.

    Right you link to Randi’s site. Was it wrong for me to assume that you are an atheist? Are you?

    Again, try a direct answer:

    When I was going to school (50s) they were still teaching a steady state universe. That the universe was eternal. And Revelation taught that the universe began.

    Which one was correct?

    However, if you drink tea in your kitchen, and you wanted to demonstate it…then you could.
    Scientifically.

    You could even repeat it.

    No, I can’t repeat it on the same day. That event (time) is gone. I have no proof except my memory of the event.

    Does that make it any less of a “fact?” If so how?

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  42. “The point is Cedric, if and I stress if at this point, such an all knowing Creator did exist He would be in a position to know way more than us.”

    If an all knowing Flying Spaghetti Monster did exist He would be in a position to know way more than us.
    Meat sauce especially!

    Exactly, thanks for agreeing…

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  43. James said…”Was it wrong for me to assume that you are an atheist? Are you?”

    Does it matter? Think about it.

    If I am a Christian, will that help my arguments in your eyes?
    (It shouldn’t)

    If I am an atheist, will that hurt my arguments in your eyes?
    (It shouldn’t)

    Feel free to disagree with me and attack my arguments.
    Be as devastating as you want.
    However, please don’t try and label me for your own sake.
    You might be surprised about who I am in real life.
    Fair enough?

    …………………………………………………..

    James said…”That the universe was eternal. And Revelation taught that the universe began.

    Which one was correct?”

    Wait a moment.
    (This is not a dodge on my part, ok? Work with me here!)

    Are you saying that the “steady-state theory” was replaced by the “Big Bang Theory” and that this means that Revelation (at least on this point) is in sync with modern science? That Revelation reveals the “Big Bang Theory” before the scientists found out about it?

    (I promise I’m not evading you. I just want to be very sure about what your position is, rather than making assumptions. Trust me on this. I want to give you an answer.)

    ………………………………………………….

    James said…”No, I can’t repeat it on the same day. That event (time) is gone. I have no proof except my memory of the event.

    Does that make it any less of a “fact?” If so how?”

    Well, not being able to repeat it on the same day is not a problem. There may well be evidence of your tea still left in the kitchen. Forensic evidence for example.

    In a murder trial, if your alibi was that you were drinking tea in your kitchen and therefore you could not have killed Professor Plum in the library with the lead pipe, then you could still defend yourself via scientific investigation.

    If your alibi was that you couldn’t have done it because you were on another plane of existence at the time then…that might cause problems.

    ……………………………………………………….

    James said…” Exactly, thanks for agreeing…”

    So you’re open to the possibility of the existence of The Noodly One?
    I’m impressed.
    Truly, it is written. Wear a pirate hat, and they will say “Arrrr”.
    Ramen.

    P.S.
    Do you ever eat at Italian restaurants?

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  44. Are you saying that the “steady-state theory” was replaced by the “Big Bang Theory” and that this means that Revelation (at least on this point) is in sync with modern science? That Revelation reveals the “Big Bang Theory” before the scientists found out about it?

    I made one claim. That the universe began. So which one was right?

    Well, not being able to repeat it on the same day is not a problem. There may well be evidence of your tea still left in the kitchen. Forensic evidence for example.

    Well actually it is a problem. You have no evidence that I had tea yesterday morning. You may find tea evidence in my belly or in my kitchen – but I had tea this AM, so that evidence would be of no use.

    So does this lack of empirical evidence change the truth of my tea event yesterday morning?

    Like

  45. James said…”I made one claim. That the universe began. So which one was right?”

    Well no. That’s not how you put it.

    Here’s what you actually said…

    “That the universe was eternal. And Revelation taught that the universe began.
    Which one was correct?”

    So explain what you mean.
    If this is a “Gotcha” question, then say “Gotcha” and get it over with. Enough with the foreplay.

    ………………………………………………….

    James said…”You have no evidence that I had tea yesterday morning. You may find tea evidence in my belly or in my kitchen – but I had tea this AM, so that evidence would be of no use.”

    Are you claiming that you had tea yesterday morning in your ktichen?

    Like

  46. @ James:

    “I did visit Stavros’ and Cedric’s site early on, so I knew they were atheists.”
    Cedric links to the James Randi site – a skeptics resource. Stavros’ site indicates he is clearly a scientist . I don’t see “I am an atheist” prominent on either site – but then again a don’t go looking for this and am not influenced by such declarations. I don’t know Stavros’ and Cedric’s religious beliefs – and am not really interested. So I can’t see this as evidence – but then I guess you lump skeptic, scientists and atheists together.

    Dale, Frank and Ed have declared themselves as Christians. They seem to have faded into the background. Possibly from embarrassment with the fundamentalist representation of Christianity you and a few others have been presenting. (I actually sympathise with pro-science Christians when they are confronted with this sort of silliness).

    The fact is, I am not interested in the religious beliefs of those who comment here – I’m interested in the reaction to my posts. I do object, however, to god-botherers attempting to ram their fundamentalism down my throat (as I do for the ones who knock on my door). All I can say is that it is a pointless exercise – it does nothing to recommend your beliefs. Rather, it just turns people off.

    Confront the issue, James. You describe this little game as “debating some atheists in New Zealand” (and your mate responds “That’s cool. Have fun debating the atheists. I’m not sure how I can convince and atheist that there is a personal God who sent His Son for us, and I’m an Arminian!”). You have a mindset which sees scientists and sceptics as synonymous with ‘atheist’.

    With that sort of mindset it’s inevitable that you cannot understand, let alone appreciate, the scientific process.

    Your comments on child abuse are just silly – an insult to people who have experienced real abuse as children. Where is your humanity?

    Like

  47. @46 – hear hear!

    Nice to meet you at the Skeptics conference today, by the way: now I have a real face to go with the posts 🙂

    Like

  48. Your comments on child abuse are just silly – an insult to people who have experienced real abuse as children. Where is your humanity?

    Ken I first came to your board because of this issue. Again, you claimed that teaching 6 day creationism to children as fact was child abuse. This is NOT child abuse. Despite what you or others might subjectively assume. And it puts to bed your false rhetoric about religious freedom. The only freedom you support is a freedom that agrees with you.

    Second, and to a larger point. Let’s say that I taught my children a lie. But that lie gave them hope and joy and purpose to their dying day. What have I done wrong? To whom am I accountable to? What objective moral rule have I violated?

    Like

  49. Cedric Katesby Says:

    James said…”I made one claim. That the universe began. So which one was right?”

    Well no. That’s not how you put it.

    Here’s what you actually said…

    “That the universe was eternal. And Revelation taught that the universe began.
    Which one was correct?”

    So explain what you mean.
    If this is a “Gotcha” question, then say “Gotcha” and get it over with. Enough with the foreplay.

    ………………………………………………….

    James said…”You have no evidence that I had tea yesterday morning. You may find tea evidence in my belly or in my kitchen – but I had tea this AM, so that evidence would be of no use.”

    Are you claiming that you had tea yesterday morning in your ktichen?

    1. Well Cedric the point was that Revelation was correct while science was wrong, if our current understanding of the cosmos’ beginning is correct.

    2. Yes I am claiming that I did have tea that morning, two days past now. But more importantly, I’m saying it is a fact, as much of a fact as anything discovered by science – even though it can’t be repeated or empirically verified.

    Like

  50. Cedric said:

    Does it matter? Think about it.

    If I am a Christian, will that help my arguments in your eyes?
    (It shouldn’t)

    If I am an atheist, will that hurt my arguments in your eyes?
    (It shouldn’t)

    Feel free to disagree with me and attack my arguments.
    Be as devastating as you want.

    Cedric, just because we are new best friends doesn’t mean you can use a double standard. You kept proding me to admit that I was a YEC – say it loud and proud was your comment. Yet you turn around and call Bnonn stupid for being a YEC (of course he isn’t *stupid*, not by a long shot). We often do this to minimize our opponent’s arguments. If he is so wrong about A, then he must be wrong about B. Of course that does not follow.

    So Cedric, if you are an atheist – say it loud and proud… ; )

    Like

  51. @ James:

    “say it loud and proud”

    Come on James – take advice from your own words. You did say on your forum you were debating some atheists in New Zealand – and invited others to participate.

    The discussions here have been about science and science bashing – not atheism! So, “say it loud and proud” – you (and apparently your mates on the Narrow Path Ministries forum) equate science with atheism and scientists with atheists!!

    Stop avoiding the issue.

    Like

  52. James said…”Well Cedric the point was that Revelation was correct while science was wrong…”

    James, all it says is “In the beginning”.
    How many stories on creation are you aware of that don’t have a beginning?
    How many stories about dragons and faries don’t start off with “Once upon a time”?

    “In the Beginning, He created a mountain, trees and a midgit”

    http://www.venganza.org/materials/

    ……………………………………………………………………………..

    “Yet you turn around and call Bnonn stupid for being a YEC…”

    YEC’ers are dumb. Dumber than dirt. Bnonn’s arguments are purile.
    He NEVER supports his position on YECism.
    You are wise enough not to, I notice.

    This is about his grip on reality.

    (Is there or is there not a God? Welcome to a lovely discussion on theology.)

    (How old do you think the Earth is? This is a basic test on your grip on reality.)

    James, how do you think that Bnonn got to the sad state of affairs where he actually thinks that the Earth is 6000 years old?
    Remember, this is somebody who lives in the 21st Century and has access to the internet, for crying out loud.
    You may have issues with atheists but seriously…

    As for equating atheism with science, well, it’s wrong of you to do so.
    As I’ve said before, there are many fine religious scientists.

    Like

  53. James said…”Well Cedric the point was that Revelation was correct while science was wrong…”

    James, all it says is “In the beginning”.
    How many stories on creation are you aware of that don’t have a beginning?
    How many stories about dragons and faries don’t start off with “Once upon a time”?

    “In the Beginning, He created a mountain, trees and a midgit”

    Well actually there are many ancient myths about the universe that do not have contain the creation of the universe. Many assumed, like the ancient greeks, that the universe was eternal. Some others believe that the universe gave birth to the gods. Actually, and its been a while sine I studied this issue, Genesis gives the clearest account that the universe had a defined beginning.

    How old do you think the Earth is? This is a basic test on your grip on reality.

    There you go again. You just want to label someone so you can dismiss all they say. If a man is wrong about the age of the earth it doesn’t mean he is divorced from reality. After all Cedric I have never actually seen fossils or layers, and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to date them. So that leaves me depending on the “authority” of science – and we know science is never wrong!

    Like

  54. The discussions here have been about science and science bashing – not atheism! So, “say it loud and proud” – you (and apparently your mates on the Narrow Path Ministries forum) equate science with atheism and scientists with atheists!!

    Perhaps I should not have assumed that I was debating atheists. But I’m pretty sure thatmany of you are. But where did I ever mention “science?” I never equated science with atheism. And neither did anyone at the Narrow Path, as far as I know. And why is it science “bashing” when we point out it’s limitations?

    And if you please Ken, answer my point:

    Second, and to a larger point. Let’s say that I taught my children a lie. But that lie gave them hope and joy and purpose to their dying day. What have I done wrong? To whom am I accountable to? What objective moral rule have I violated?

    Like

  55. James said…”If a man is wrong about the age of the earth it doesn’t mean he is divorced from reality.”

    Of course it does.
    30 seconds on the Internet will get you the correct information.

    Do you believe the Earth is 6000 years old?
    Hell no. Of course you don’t.

    You may have all sorts of unfounded doubts about science.
    You may be prepared to commit to all sorts of silly arguments in order to preach to the supposed “heathen” but a 6000 year old Earth???

    You know and I know and the vast majority of mainstream Christians think that belief in a 6000 year-old Earth is not just astoundingly bad science, it’s damn poor theology.

    Nobody is going to come up with any evidence at all that such a thing is true. You are VERY careful to steer clear of it.
    😦
    Sure, you’d like to chip in and help out Bnonn ’cause somehow you mistakenly believe that he’s “on your side” yet you’re ever so careful not to step in the same camp.
    (You’d never clean that muck off your shoes, for a start.)

    With allies like Bnonn, you don’t need opponents!

    James said…”Well actually there are many ancient myths about the universe that do not have contain the creation of the universe.”

    The ones that do, however, neatly fall into step with modern science, yeah?
    Lucky them. Gosh. How right their religion must be.
    You do realise that this is the same silly argument that some Muslim groups make?

    http://rationalreality.50webs.com/hec.htm

    Stop it. Stop it. It’s such an awful argument to make.

    ………………………………………………………………………………

    James said…”So that leaves me depending on the “authority” of science – and we know science is never wrong!”

    (Love the scare quotes around science.)

    You’re wrong of course. You don’t have to depend on the “authority” of “science”. Nobody’s asking you to. If you want to, you can investigate ANY claim made by ANY scientist.
    ALL of their work is open to anybody. You want to study biology?
    Do it.
    Chemistry? Do it.
    Every single step of the process that scientists do to make the claims that they do is ON PUBLIC RECORD.
    You don’t have to nod your head and meekly do what the nice person tells you. Save that for your charismatic cult leader.

    Everything in science is TENTATIVE. Don’t you get it?
    This is a GOOD thing. It’s a STRENGTH. It’s not a weakness.

    You don’t understand science? Fine. You don’t trust it? Ok then.

    Then get an education in the sciences and enough of this hand-wringing about “Oh, it’s all too hard” and “There’s so much we don’t know” and “I’ll just have to defer judgement” and “Scientists can get it wrong too” etc, etc, ad nauseum.

    James said…”And why is it science “bashing” when we point out it’s limitations?”

    You don’t understand anything about science. That’s painfully clear from your statements. You are in no position to point out anything at all about science, especially it’s limitations.
    Learn first. Criticize later.

    At present, you are a back-seat driver.
    Yelling out instructions on how to drive.
    “Slow down”. “Turn right here”. “Mind that old lady”

    However, you are a BLIND back seat driver.
    Plus there’s the fact that you are sitting in a PARKED car.

    However, your ignorant maligning of science helps promote a culture of anti-intellectualism causing suffering and unnecessary loss.
    You vapid and unfounded assertions create confusion and suspicion in the gullible, unsuspecting public where none should rightly exist.

    Every single pseudo-scientific crack-pot out there is jumping with joy at your declarations about how you doubt it all because you doubt it all because you doubt it all.

    Every faith healer. Every homeopath. Every HIV denialist.
    Every anti-vaccinationist. Every nut that doesn’t believe that we made it to the Moon. Every Breathairian. Every Cold Reader.
    You have left yourself nothing to intellectually defend yourself against the fraud, the charlatan and the quack if you truly mean what you’ve been posting on this site for the past few days.

    Remember that site that’s linked to my name?
    Check it out.
    Go there and find a completely cracked belief there that astounds you because it’s so self-evidently stupid.
    Something that you AND I would agree is wrong, dangerous and should be stopped for the benefit of the community.
    (There’s lot’s to choose from.)
    Now ask yourself how do you rationally understand that the particular subject is wrong?
    Sure, you can see that it’s wrong but how do you KNOW it’s wrong?
    Can you figure out why outwardly sane and perhaps wealthy people would fall for such an obvious con, when you don’t?

    People, ordinary people, get suckered into dangerous and costly beliefs.
    If it was a loved one of yours, how would you reason them out of it?
    Think about it. I’m not kidding. Check out the site properly.
    You want to talk science? Then let’s abandon the hypothetical.
    Let’s go for the real-life tragedies.
    Here’s an example:
    http://oracknows.blogspot.com/2005/09/another-tragically-unnecessary-death.html

    Ignorance of science kills people.

    Like

  56. James said…”If a man is wrong about the age of the earth it doesn’t mean he is divorced from reality.”

    Of course it does.
    30 seconds on the Internet will get you the correct information.

    Do you believe the Earth is 6000 years old?
    Hell no. Of course you don’t.

    You may have all sorts of unfounded doubts about science.
    You may be prepared to commit to all sorts of silly arguments in order to preach to the supposed “heathen” but a 6000 year old Earth???

    You know and I know and the vast majority of mainstream Christians think that belief in a 6000 year-old Earth is not just astoundingly bad science, it’s damn poor theology.

    Nobody is going to come up with any evidence at all that such a thing is true. You are VERY careful to steer clear of it.
    ;(
    Sure, you’d like to chip in and help out Bnonn ’cause somehow you mistakenly believe that he’s “on your side” yet you’re ever so careful not to step in the same camp.
    (You’d never clean that muck off your shoes, for a start.)

    With allies like Bnonn, you don’t need opponents!

    James said…”Well actually there are many ancient myths about the universe that do not have contain the creation of the universe.”

    The ones that do, however, neatly fall into step with modern science, yeah?
    Lucky them. Gosh. How right their religion must be.
    You do realise that this is the same silly argument that some Muslim groups make?

    http://rationalreality.50webs.com/hec.htm

    Stop it. Stop it. It’s such an awful argument to make.

    ………………………………………………………………………………

    James said…”So that leaves me depending on the “authority” of science – and we know science is never wrong!”

    (Love the scare quotes around science.)

    You’re wrong of course. You don’t have to depend on the “authority” of “science”. Nobody’s asking you to. If you want to, you can investigate ANY claim made by ANY scientist.
    ALL of their work is open to anybody. You want to study biology?
    Do it.
    Chemistry? Do it.
    Every single step of the process that scientists do to make the claims that they do is ON PUBLIC RECORD.
    You don’t have to nod your head and meekly do what the nice person tells you. Save that for your charismatic cult leader.
    Everything in science is TENTATIVE. Don’t you get it?

    You don’t understand science? Fine. You don’t trust it? Ok then.
    Then get an education in the sciences and enough of this hand-wringing about “Oh, it’s all too hard” and “There’s so much we don’t know” and “I’ll just have to defer judgement” and “Scientists can get it wrong too” etc, etc, ad nauseum.

    James said…”And why is it science “bashing” when we point out it’s limitations?”

    You don’t understand anything about science. That’s painfully clear from your statements. You are in no position to point out anything at all about science, especially it’s limitations.
    Learn first. Criticize later.

    At present, you are a back-seat driver.
    Yelling out instructions on how to drive.
    “Slow down”. “Turn right here”. “Mind that old lady”

    However, you are a BLIND back seat driver.
    Plus there’s the fact that you are sitting in a PARKED car.

    However, your ignorant maligning of science helps promote a culture of anti-intellectualism causing suffering and unnecessary loss.
    You vapid and unfounded assertions create confusion and suspicion in the gullible, unsuspecting public where none should rightly exist.

    Every single pseudo-scientific crack-pot out there is jumping with joy at your declarations about how you doubt it all because you doubt it all because you doubt it all.

    Every faith healer. Every homeopath. Every HIV denialist.
    Every anti-vaccinationist. Every nut that doesn’t believe that we made it to the moon. Every Breathairian. Every Cold Reader.
    You have left yourself nothing to intellectually defend yourself against the fraud, the charlatan and the quack if you truly mean what you’ve been posting on this site for the past few days.

    Remember that site that’s linked to my name?
    Check it out.
    Go there and find a completely cracked belief there that astounds you because it’s so self-evidently stupid.
    Something that you AND I would agree is wrong, dangerous and should be stopped for the benefit of the community.
    (There’s lot’s to choose from.)
    Now ask yourself how do you rationally understand that the particular subject is wrong? Can you figure out why outwardly sane and perhaps wealthy people would fall for such an obvious con?

    People, ordinary people, get suckered into dangerous and costly beliefs.
    If it was a loved one of yours, how would you reason them out of it?
    Think about it. I’m not kidding. Check out the site properly.
    You want to talk science? Then let’s abandon the hypothetical.
    Let’s go for the real-life tragedies.
    Here’s an example:
    http://oracknows.blogspot.com/2005/09/another-tragically-unnecessary-death.html

    Ignorance of science kills people.

    Like

  57. @ James:

    “And if you please Ken, answer my point: Second, and to a larger point. Let’s say that I taught my children a lie. But that lie gave them hope and joy ”

    I am dealing with this in a separate post. It deserves more attention.

    Like

  58. You don’t understand anything about science. That’s painfully clear from your statements. You are in no position to point out anything at all about science, especially it’s limitations.

    I know Cedric, you just want us laymen to shut up and believe what we are told! BTW – can you show me exactly where I said something false about science or the scientific method?

    Like

  59. Still carefully avoiding the guano masquerading as rational thought that is Bnonn’s YECism?

    (Good thinking. That’s the smart play.)

    James said…”I know Cedric, you just want us laymen to shut up and believe what we are told!”

    Stop it. You’re just being thick. Your empty bluster doesn’t impress anybody.
    Re-read what I wrote. S.L.O.W.L.Y.
    I specifically addressed this.

    “You don’t have to depend on the “authority” of “science”. Nobody’s asking you to. If you want to, you can investigate ANY claim made by ANY scientist.
    ALL of their work is open to anybody. You want to study biology?
    Do it.
    Chemistry? Do it.
    Every single step of the process that scientists do to make the claims that they do is ON PUBLIC RECORD.
    You don’t have to nod your head and meekly do what the nice person tells you. Save that for your charismatic cult leader.
    Everything in science is TENTATIVE. Don’t you get it?”

    Remember?.
    Focus, James. FOCUS!!

    Nothing here about shutting up and doing what you’re told.
    On the contrary…
    You, however, just want to read what you want to read.
    You can’t face what I actually wrote so you create a strawman. A sign of weakness.
    Shame on you. Very dishonest.

    You don’t know anything about science.

    James waves his hands thusly…”BTW – can you show me exactly where I said something false about science or the scientific method?”

    James, I have a BETTER idea. Show me the postings of yours that would NOT give aid and comfort to the anti-science community?

    Remember these beauties?

    The Faith Healer: Give me your money and I will call upon God to cure your arthritis because “…certain truth and knowledge comes by ways other than the scientific method. And they are factual.”

    The Homeopath: That will be $14.99 for the pills. Would you like a bag? Because…
    “…We know may things that are not open to the scientific method and are not able to be falsified – yet they are as true and certain as anything the scientific method has discovered.”

    The HIV Denialist: I’m going to take vitamins and coffee enemas and ignore the evidence on HIV because…

    “…yes the independent lines of evidence seem to point that way. But that could change, after all when it comes to the make up of the universe and time itself we are still quite ignorant.”
    The Anti-vaccinationist: I won’t let you inject my child with the polio vaccine because…
    “…We just don’t know enough…”
    The Moon Conspiracy nutter: Soon NASA will have to admit the truth. Did we really go to the Moon. Did we REALLY, hmm?
    “…all of science is tentative, and since there may be a whole slew of facts out there that may or may not comfirm our present understanding, I will reserve judgement.”
    The Breathairian: Buy my book and get healthly, the Prana way because…
    “…The fact is there may be many questions that science can never answer.”

    The Cold Reader: So tell me, did you have a Mother? I’m sensing an “M”? Yes?

    “…Why not just say that since science is often wrong, and since we don’t have all the facts, we will suspend judgement for now?”

    (Hat tip to Paul for the quote)
    To quote Dawkins “I am hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. It teaches us not to change our minds, and not to want to know exciting things that are available to be known. It subverts science and saps the intellect”.

    Ignorance of science also kills people and causes needless suffering and loss.
    You are a cheerleader for such ignorance.

    I don’t give a flying toss about your religion or your beliefs. Keep it. Nobody cares.
    However….

    Every single pseudo-scientific crack-pot out there is jumping with joy at your declarations about how you doubt it all because you doubt it all because you doubt it all.
    (Jumping with joy AND raking in the cash.)
    You have left yourself nothing to intellectually defend yourself against the fraud, the charlatan and the quack if you truly mean what you’ve been posting on this site for the past few days. It’s drivel. Dangerous drivel.
    The sort of drivel that kills.

    Remember that site that’s linked to my name?
    Check it out.
    Go there and find a completely cracked belief there that astounds you because it’s so self-evidently stupid.
    Something that you AND I would agree is wrong, dangerous and should be stopped for the benefit of the community.
    (There’s lot’s to choose from.)
    Now ask yourself how do you rationally understand that the particular subject is wrong? Can you figure out why outwardly sane and perhaps wealthy people would fall for such an obvious con?
    People, ordinary people, get suckered into dangerous and costly beliefs.
    If it was a loved one of yours, how would you reason them out of it?
    Think about it. I’m not kidding. Check out the site properly.
    You want to talk science? Then let’s abandon the hypothetical.
    We’ve had enough of your junk philosophy and ponderously deep questions to last several lifetimes.
    Let’s go for the real-life tragedies.
    Here’s an example:
    http://oracknows.blogspot.com/2005/09/another-tragically-unnecessary-death.html
    Ignorance of science kills people.

    Like

  60. And if you please Ken, answer my point: Second, and to a larger point. Let’s say that I taught my children a lie. But that lie gave them hope and joy ”

    I am dealing with this in a separate post. It deserves more attention.

    Ken do you concede the point that I never equated science with atheism?

    Like

  61. @ James:

    I think you have conceded you were wrong to have described you contribution here as “debating some atheists in New Zealand” when you said “Perhaps I should not have assumed that I was debating atheists.” Then, of course, you spoiled it by adding “But I’m pretty sure that many of you are.” And you ignore the fact that many of them are obviously not.

    The point is – does it matter???? I am not at all interested in the private religious or ideological beliefs of people who contribute – I am interested in what they say. That is the scientific way – use the evidence – count the teeth. Concentrating on declared or imagined private ideological beliefs will inevitably mean that you put your own interpretation on what is said. You become trapped in your own subjectivism.

    One result of your subjective approach has been to conflate science with atheism. You are the one dragging your god into the scientific discussion, ramming it down our throats, and wishing to draw conclusions about science which guarantee a place for your god.

    Well, I am not at all interested in your god. Get that.

    However, I am interested in scientific knowledge and believe there is a lot of science-bashing out there which needs countering.

    Forget about the theist/atheist division. The point is – what side are you on regarding science? Do you support science-bashing or do you oppose science-bashing?

    Like

  62. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Sorry Ken, which people here aren’t atheists? I know Damian is “agnostic”, but he is a practical atheist regardless of what he says. The rest of you are all clearly atheistic—heavily so.

    I don’t get why you’re so upset about this. When I debate you, I am not debating you as a scientist. I am debating you as an atheist—that is what apologetics is about. I will debate atheists who are scientists and have science-related blogs, or atheists who are philosophers and have philosophy-related blogs, or atheists who are builders and have building-related blogs; or whatever. I’m not debating scientists or philosophers or builders about science or philosophy or building; I am debating atheists about the truth of Christianity and the falsehood of atheism.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  63. Previously Cedric said…”I don’t give a flying toss about your religion or your beliefs. Keep it. Nobody cares.”

    Ken said…”You are the one dragging your god into the scientific discussion, ramming it down our throats, and wishing to draw conclusions about science which guarantee a place for your god.
    Well, I am not at all interested in your god. Get that.”

    Yet Bnonn still gets all confused…”I am debating atheists about the truth of Christianity and the falsehood of atheism.”

    We don’t care about your special brand of Christianity.
    You have a wrong number.
    Get that. Please take your brain out of neutral and get that.

    Stranger wearing a cheap suit and tie: Hello, I’d like to talk to you about Jesus.
    Householder: (slams door)

    Apologise for you apologetics and take it somewhere else.
    It’s boring.
    Really, truly and madly BORING.
    Get a life.

    I’d like to talk about science. This is a science blog.

    Like

  64. I know Damian is “agnostic”, but he is a practical atheist regardless of what he says.

    Bnonn, for the record, I consider myself an atheist in the conclusions I draw but agnostic with regard to whether I think I can prove whether God exists or not. I tend to use the label “atheist” for the sake of clarity in most situations. Semantics, I know, but you made it sound like I’m trying to hide something with your “regardless of what he says”.

    Like

  65. Oh, and my arguments regarding the age of the earth would be the same (i.e. science- and evidence-based) regardless of whether I believed in a god or not. In fact, there was a period where I did believe in the existence of the Christian God and held that the earth is ancient and that humans share a common ancestor with the apes and all other known species on earth.

    Like

  66. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Sorry Damian, I didn’t mean to imply something less than honest about your position. You draw a fair enough distinction I suppose. And I appreciate your polite and sane attitude, as compared to certain others here whose posts regularly entertain me without prompting even the slightest inclination within me to respond.

    As regards the age of the earth, it’s interesting how much blatant abuse has come my way here because of my position on this—especially given how little I have said about it myself. I believe that the Bible is best interpreted as factually representing creation as having taken place thousands rather than billions of years ago (earth-relative). However, I’m aware that there is currently a consensus among scientists that the earth itself is very old. I am also aware that many Christians believe the earth is very old. And I don’t think their belief is heretical or dangerous, per se; I think there is a spectrum of sane views regarding the epistemic relationship between of special and general revelation.

    On the other hand, I’m also aware that one of my friends, who is a science librarian at Massey, is of the opinion that the current scientific literature, taken holistically, tends to suggest that scientists are over-specializing and thus failing to get a “big picture” view in these matters. So they assume that evidence exists in some other field, since it doesn’t exist in theirs, which leads to a general groupthink which is difficult to break. In other words, his view is that there is far less evidence, and far more contrary evidence, than most scientists assume. However, I have not questioned him regarding any specific instances to substantiate this view. He has mentioned catastrophism as having replaced uniformitarianism, thus throwing many dating systems into doubt; aside from this I’m not aware of exactly what examples he has in mind.

    In any case, I’m aware that I may be wrong about the age of the earth. However, it’s not something that really interests me, and it’s not something that really has much import to me. Given my epistemic view of the relationship between science and Scripture, I tend to rely on my best exegesis, and let the cards fall where they will.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  67. So, Bnonn, if you were to become interested in looking further into whether the evidence for an old earth exists and you were to discover that it contradicts the conclusions you have made from your particular reading of the Bible, what part of your methodology would have to change to make the two fit? Would it merely be a matter of adjusting which writing styles you take as literal or would it mean you have to rethink many of the core concepts of Christianity? (I’m thinking here the implications of Original Sin and so on).

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  68. Bnopn said…”And I appreciate your polite and sane attitude, as compared to certain others here whose posts regularly entertain me without prompting even the slightest inclination within me to respond.”

    You forgot to add, “So there!”.
    🙂

    “Bnonn said…”As regards the age of the earth, it’s interesting how much blatant abuse has come my way here because of my position on this—especially given how little I have said about it myself.”

    Yes, it is interesting. Why do people laugh at YEC’s?
    Hmmm.
    Why do you say so little about it?
    Hmmm.

    Bnonn said…”…a science librarian at Massey, is of the opinion that the current scientific literature, taken holistically,…”

    A science librarian? My goodness. A REAL science librarian.
    At Massey! Well, whatever next.
    “Science taken holistically”?
    Now there’s a phrase you don’t hear every day.

    Bnonn said…”In any case, I’m aware that I may be wrong about the age of the earth. However, it’s not something that really interests me…”

    Well, there’s your problem.

    Dawkins: “I am hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. It teaches us not to change our minds, and not to want to know exciting things that are available to be known. It subverts science and saps the intellect”.

    You seem to fit the bill perfectly.
    What’s it like to have a sapped intellect?

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  69. Damian, it’s a hard question to answer because the issues are complex. Given my beliefs regarding epistemology and the philosophy of science, I would be quite uninclined to alter my exegesis of God’s certain revelation simly in view of the tentative conclusions of science. Empirical investigation is on the lowest rung of the epistemic ladder, so it’s hard to see it grossly influencing my views. This is especially the case in light of how science is colored by atheistic presuppositions. I think I would really only be inclined to reconsider my understanding of Scripture if there were solid, explicitly Christian theories which tended to prove an ancient earth over and against a young one. At this stage, such things are in their infancy, and so any decision on my part must be deferred.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  70. “I would be quite uninclined to alter my exegesis of God’s certain revelation simly in view of the tentative conclusions of science. Empirical investigation is on the lowest rung of the epistemic ladder, so it’s hard to see it grossly influencing my views. This is especially the case in light of how science is colored by atheistic presuppositions.”

    Bnonns own words. Bnonns own logic.
    Welcome to the wonderful world of the YEC.
    Scary stuff.

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  71. Bnonn, this might sound flippant but, trust me, it’s not intended that way; using your method of interpreting the Bible, what’s your stance on what the Bible says regarding the “fixed-ness” of the earth? (I ask this because many smart Biblical scholars interpreted it to mean that the scientific evidence that pointed toward the earth orbiting the sun was in direct contradiction to the scriptures.) If you agree that the earth orbits the sun as per observational science, what mistakes were Biblical scholars of the past making?

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  72. One result of your subjective approach has been to conflate science with atheism. You are the one dragging your god into the scientific discussion, ramming it down our throats, and wishing to draw conclusions about science which guarantee a place for your god.

    But Ken, that is the point. I never conflated science with atheism, or equated the two. Perhaps that is your subjective opinion, but it is not a fact. If it is a fact, show me where I have done such…If not, be man enough to admit you mistake. I admitted that I should not have assumed that most of you were atheists.

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  73. James waves his hands thusly…”BTW – can you show me exactly where I said something false about science or the scientific method?”

    James, I have a BETTER idea. Show me the postings of yours that would NOT give aid and comfort to the anti-science community?

    No Cedric, you made the claim. Now show me where I said any thing false about science or the scientifc method. Show me where I misunderstood either.

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  74. What? Doesn’t Bnonn get an “Amen” of solidarity?
    (Oops)
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    James, James, James.
    Focus on what I wrote. Focus!

    My claims are these:
    1) You are an ignorant, blind, back-seat driver sitting in a parked car.
    2) You malign science.

    Malign: having or showing intense often vicious ill will
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/malign

    Malign: malign suggests specific and often subtle misrepresentation but may not always imply deliberate lying.
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/malign%5B2%5D

    3) You have left yourself nothing to intellectually defend yourself against the fraud, the charlatan and the quack if you truly mean what you’ve been posting on this site for the past few days. It’s drivel. Dangerous drivel.
    The sort of drivel that kills.

    Check out the link, you pathetic person.
    The girl’s name was Eliza Jane Scovill.

    Like

  75. You have left yourself nothing to intellectually defend yourself against the fraud, the charlatan and the quack if you truly mean what you’ve been posting on this site for the past few days. It’s drivel. Dangerous drivel.The sort of drivel that kills.

    Cedric, you have not given any evidence where I misunderstood science or the scientific method. I have a lot of posts on this blog, I would think you could produce a few. Now to your point about “drivel that kills.” In a godless universe what is wrong with “drivel that kills?” May be I like “drivel that kills.” You guys are really a hoot!

    Like

  76. Time for my weekly dose of devastating theistic reasoning, which gets forwarded with the usual civility and lightheartedness:

    @post no. 66 & 69:

    Love the haughty, condescending tone and stilted syntax. Erudition personified.

    The irony here is, of course, that Tennant’s biblical epistemology, despite his conviction to the contrary, fares no better than one that sees no need for a recourse to a god.

    His endeavour to build an unassailable, superior epistemological position through a presupposationalist approach is doomed to failure due to his insufficient knowledge of the problem of ultimate justification. Specifically, the whole creaky structure finally collapses on page 61 of “The Wisdom of God”, where we can read the following:

    “The problem that your opponent really has is therefore with the premises you are using, rather than the circularity of your argument. It irks him that you haven’t given an external justification for believing that the Bible is the word of God. […] Your opponent will say that, without extraordinary evidence, your premises must be assumed – which constitutes a leap of faith.
    This is true. To the unconverted, A LEAP IS REQUIRED; […] But then, since evidence is merely data interpreted according to certain presuppositions, AND THEIR PRESUPPOSITIONS ARE WRONG, there is literally no such thing as evidence which could convince them of the truth of God’s word. THE INWARD KNOWLEDGE OF GOD GIVEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL CHANGE THIS ABJECT SITUATION – […]”
    (Emphasis mine)

    So the situation is this: we have a worldview (i.e. a metaphysics and an epistemology) that rests on the first principle “The bible is the word of god”. This is advertised as being the only inherently rational and undoubtedly, objectively true worldview.

    However, the proposition that is supposed to justify this claim can not, as we have just heard, further be rationally or evidentially justified in a conclusive manner, but must be accepted on faith (with some gentle help from the holy spirit). With this admission any legitimate claims to universal validity, exclusive rationality, immunity to criticism, objective correctness etc. are instantaneously forfeit. Furthermore, any categorical pronouncements pertaining to the invalidity of different presuppositions have lost their basis. The whole edifice comes crashing down and the first principle is demoted to the status of an hypothesis whose validity and explanatory power, like those of the resulting metaphysics and epistemology, can (and must) be discussed, compared and evaluated.

    @post no. 75:

    Cedric, you have not given any evidence where I misunderstood science or the scientific method.

    But James, what do you MEAN when you demand “evidence”? What IS “evidence”, James? Can you give a definition of “evidence” that is not arbitrary and self-refuting, James? Until you can, James, I suggest you refrain from demanding of others what you can not provide yourself. Be fair, James.

    In a godless universe what is wrong with “drivel that kills?” May be I like “drivel that kills.” You guys are really a hoot!

    I get a kick out of these kinds of inanities every time I read them. What is truely priceless is the smug and triumphant manner with which it is forwarded, coupled to the fact that the person who utters it is completely oblivious to the conclusions that can be drawn regarding his underlying moral and psychological constitution.

    I wish everyone a very good rest of the week!

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  77. But James, what do you MEAN when you demand “evidence”? What IS “evidence”, James? Can you give a definition of “evidence” that is not arbitrary and self-refuting, James? Until you can, James, I suggest you refrain from demanding of others what you can not provide yourself. Be fair, James.

    Are you agreeing Iapetus that you (or we) can not offer a definition of evidence that is not not arbitrary or self-refuting? And remember old friend, I was not the one who started to demand “evidence.” Besides, that was not what I was asking Cedric for.

    get a kick out of these kinds of inanities every time I read them. What is truely priceless is the smug and triumphant manner with which it is forwarded, coupled to the fact that the person who utters it is completely oblivious to the conclusions that can be drawn regarding his underlying moral and psychological constitution.

    Instead of questioning my motives, try answering my point: In a godless universe what is wrong with “drivel that kills?” Nazism and Communism were drivel that killed. And they were wrong – why?

    Like

  78. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Hi Damian. Re your post #71, there are two primary differences that I see: (i) the passages which speak of the earth’s place in the cosmos are direct statements, which are (ii) easily seen as poetry, or otherwise as being the sorts of typical earth-relative factual descriptions we’d use even today. In comparison, the passages which speak of the earth’s age are generally (i) indirect, in that (ii) we derive said age from the implications of historical narratives which it is very hard not to take literally. Although of course it’s possible there are gaps, these would not account for such a very extreme length of time as billions of years.

    Iapetus, your critique of my book (post #76) seems confused. You don’t appear to have understood most anything I wrote, since your conclusion is patently refuted that “The whole edifice comes crashing down and the first principle is demoted to the status of an hypothesis whose validity and explanatory power, like those of the resulting metaphysics and epistemology, can (and must) be discussed, compared and evaluated.” You’re manifestly begging the question against the revelational foundationalist.

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  79. @post no. 77

    “Are you agreeing Iapetus that you (or we) can not offer a definition of evidence that is not not arbitrary or self-refuting?”

    I love it when you ask these questions as if you have uncovered a profound insight that will revolutionize the intellectual world. I always picture you with a deep voice and stern face in these moments.

    Yes James, what one considers evidence is a decision problem. We have to use our fallible reason to evaluate what is presented as evidence for a given proposition and decide whether we accept it or not. This decision is influenced by a multitude of factors, both conscious and sub-conscious. I am fairly certain, however, that you argue against your own belief when you deny that there is no general commonality between adult, mentally healthy people that lets them find a minimum, basic consent in this matter. Otherwise, you would be socially and personally dysfunctional and unable to cope with life. So I have to conclude that you press this issue merely because you hope to score debating points by it. Not very constructive, James. Consider yourself chided.

    “Instead of questioning my motives, try answering my point: In a godless universe what is wrong with “drivel that kills?” Nazism and Communism were drivel that killed. And they were wrong – why?”

    I am not questioning your motives, I am making an observation.

    Regarding your question, let me give an answer in the patented James-style:

    Let us proceed slowly here. I will turn this right back on you: in a god-filled universe, what is wrong with “drivel that kills”?

    @post no. 78

    “Iapetus, your critique of my book (post #76) seems confused. You don’t appear to have understood most anything I wrote, since your conclusion is patently refuted […] You’re manifestly begging the question against the revelational foundationalist.”

    This is a set of exceptionally pretty, naked assertions there, complete with a bow on top. At least you managed a reasonably polite tone this time. Whenever you feel like you have some substantive arguments to make, give it a whirl.

    And now it’s off into the weekend for me!

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  80. I love it when you ask these questions as if you have uncovered a profound insight that will revolutionize the intellectual world. I always picture you with a deep voice and stern face in these moments.

    First Iapetus, why do you keep ascribing false motives and thoughts to me? Now you know what I look like and speak like?

    Yes James, what one considers evidence is a decision problem. We have to use our fallible reason to evaluate what is presented as evidence for a given proposition and decide whether we accept it or not. This decision is influenced by a multitude of factors, both conscious and sub-conscious.

    Agreed, but remember I did not start this “evidence” thing. But when one demands evidence for my beliefs I have every right to ask for their definition of evidence and what they accept or don’t accept as evidence and why.

    I am fairly certain, however, that you argue against your own belief when you deny that there is no general commonality between adult, mentally healthy people that lets them find a minimum, basic consent in this matter. Otherwise, you would be socially and personally dysfunctional and unable to cope with life.

    Again, I agree. My problem is that many materialist define “evidence” (or what they consider as evidence) way to narrowly. What can be gleened from the scientific method. And I’m simply trying to point out that they believe many things as true that could never be proven by said method. And that these things are just as true and factual as any fact the scientific method can discover (that is why I kept harping on my morning tea example).

    Let us proceed slowly here. I will turn this right back on you: in a god-filled universe, what is wrong with “drivel that kills”?

    Nope, I will be happy to answer you as soon as you answer me.

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  81. “Cedric, you have not given any evidence where I misunderstood science or the scientific method.”

    Re-read your own posts. Your misunderstanding of science abounds.

    Look at this thread for starters….
    “So that leaves me depending on the “authority” of science – and we know science is never wrong!”
    And…
    “I know Cedric, you just want us laymen to shut up and believe what we are told!”

    There is no “authority” of science.
    Nobody is claiming that science is ever wrong.
    I try and defend science, you claim that I (and by implication, the scientific community) want you to shut up and do as your told.
    Only an ignorant person would make that claim.
    Of course, if that’s not what you meant or wanted to imply, then feel free to state that you know fully well that the scientific community doesn’t want people to shut up and do as they’re told.
    Feel free to announce that anybody could falsify any of science’s claims by looking at the data gathered and the methodology used. This applies to all disciplines.

    Now to your point about “drivel that kills.” In a godless universe what is wrong with “drivel that kills?’

    If you want to address my point on your drivel that would be a nice change nice.
    As for your misdirection as a desperate desire to change topics on the “godless universe” fluff, get lost!
    😦
    Address my point or take a hike.

    Your drivel kills. Ignorance of science is dangerous.

    Check out the link, you pathetic person. What’s stopping you?
    The girl’s name was Eliza Jane Scovill.

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  82. Cedric, you have not given any evidence where I misunderstood science or the scientific method.”

    Re-read your own posts. Your misunderstanding of science abounds.

    Look at this thread for starters….
    “So that leaves me depending on the “authority” of science – and we know science is never wrong!”
    And…
    “I know Cedric, you just want us laymen to shut up and believe what we are told!”

    Cedric, these comments were meant for people like you who put their ultimate “faith” in science. Certainly not all scientist fell this way. But this really has nothing to do with the definition science or the scientific method. And you have yet to show where I have misunderstood either. I’ll be waiting.

    f you want to address my point on your drivel that would be a nice change nice.
    As for your misdirection as a desperate desire to change topics on the “godless universe” fluff, get lost!

    Address my point or take a hike.

    Your drivel kills. Ignorance of science is dangerous.

    And I will repeat my point. In a godless universe what is wrong with dying? Or killing? How many species have gone extinct? If humankind went extinct in the next minute – so what, who would care? You are making all kinds of irrational value judgements Cedric.

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  83. “Cedric, these comments were meant for people like you who put their ultimate “faith” in science. Certainly not all scientist fell this way.”

    Here you expose your ignorance again. There is no “faith” in science. It’s not a religion. There is no “authority”.
    There is no blind acceptance expected or required.
    Nobody teaches that in science class.

    “Certainly not all scientist fell this way.”

    Put it more accurately. Scientists don’t think this way.
    Stop maligning science and scientists.
    STOP IT!

    “And I will repeat my point.”

    Which has nothing to do with anything. You brought up your “point” up (as you jokingly point it) as misdirection.
    Not me.
    You wannt to answer your own point? Go ahead.
    Bore us to death with you cereal box philosophy.

    It self-evident you have nothing to offer but science bashing.
    Anything negative, anything to create doubt.
    To create a shadow of doubt so that your religious beliefs can lurk therein.

    Check out the link, you pathetic person. What’s stopping you?
    The girl’s name was Eliza Jane Scovill.
    She was three years old.

    Like

  84. Typo.
    That should read…You brought up your “point” up (as you jokingly put it) as misdirection.

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  85. Here you expose your ignorance again. There is no “faith” in science. It’s not a religion. There is no “authority”.There is no blind acceptance expected or required.Nobody teaches that in science class.

    Cedric, my point about authority was in response to your claim that I (and others I assume) were back seat drivers. Like we have no right to question these things. So again, where did I misunderstand the scientific method. Be specific…

    Check out the link, you pathetic person. What’s stopping you?

    And I will repeat my point, again! In a godless universe what is wrong with dying? Or killing? How many species have gone extinct? If humankind went extinct in the next minute – so what, who would care? You are making all kinds of irrational value judgements Cedric.

    Like

  86. “First Iapetus, why do you keep ascribing false motives and thoughts to me? Now you know what I look like and speak like?”

    Is that not your picture at the top right corner of your posts?

    Seriously though, please learn to carefully read what I wrote, since I am in the habit of thinking first, posting second. I said “I always picture you […]”, i.e. your behaviour on this as well as on Tennant´s blog led to a certain image in my mind. Specifically, it is your endless repetition of the same talking points while failing to seriously engage with, let alone accept, any counterarguments. This creates an irritating atmosphere because, as several posters on different threads have pointed out to you, people get the impression you are not here to discuss ideas and to learn anything new, but merely to prove that you (and in extension, your particular religion) is “correct”. Post no. 85 is a case in point.

    Second, I would advise you on stylistic grounds to refrain from repeatedly addressing posters by their name in the same post. It comes across as patronizing in a “talking to a little child”-like way.

    “My problem is that many materialist define “evidence” (or what they consider as evidence) way to narrowly. What can be gleened from the scientific method. And I’m simply trying to point out that they believe many things as true that could never be proven by said method. And that these things are just as true and factual as any fact the scientific method can discover (that is why I kept harping on my morning tea example).

    Not even the most materialistic of materialists (if he/she gives it a moment´s thought) will state that the only kind of evidence for every problem/question is what results from the scientific method. This sort of generalization is nothing but a caricature. (Btw, did you not claim on another site that you were debating “atheists” here? Now this has turned into “materialists”?)

    That being said, concerning believes about the physical world, there simply is no other method of knowledge-acquisition that is comparable to the scientific method. Why is that? Because it relies inter alia on inter-subjective corroboration, i.e. internal feelings, revelations, intuitions, in short: subjective factors are being minimized as far as possible.

    Your little tea story is a good example of what I am talking about: it is “knowledge” that is solely based on the certainty of the individual, which is anything but certain. How do you know that you did not dream or hallucinate the whole episode? All a third party can conclude with reasonable certainty from this account is that you believe it occurred as you say.
    Countless people have reported that they were abducted and sexually molested by space aliens; they will maintain this story even under hypnosis, i.e. they genuinely believe that it happened. According to you, this would constitute “knowledge” which is just as true and factual as anything the scientific method has discovered. Do you see the problem with this approach?

    So when you make claims about the physical world a la “All species alive today were created in their present form”, it is entirely appropriate if people ask you for evidence they can examine independently which corroborates this claim. Just like you can do research yourself to verify the evidence in support of the theory of evolution. Endlessly repeating “But what IS evidence?” is simply a diversion, and people recognize it as such and react to that.

    “Nope, I will be happy to answer you as soon as you answer me.”

    Nope, ain´t gonna happen. You have pulled this answering-question-with-counterquestion stunt one time too many on me in the past. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

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  87. Your little tea story is a good example of what I am talking about: it is “knowledge” that is solely based on the certainty of the individual, which is anything but certain. How do you know that you did not dream or hallucinate the whole episode? All a third party can conclude with reasonable certainty from this account is that you believe it occurred as you say.

    That’s the point of this Iapetus. My memory of the tea event is real evidence of the tea event. Whether or not it can be confirmed by others it remains a fact. As factual and certain as any scientific discovery. I have no reason to doubt that experience. Will my first person experience convince you? Perhaps not – but why should that bother me? I have no good reason to believe it was a dream or that I was hallucinating.

    So when you make claims about the physical world a la “All species alive today were created in their present form”, it is entirely appropriate if people ask you for evidence they can examine independently which corroborates this claim. Just like you can do research yourself to verify the evidence in support of the theory of evolution. Endlessly repeating “But what IS evidence?” is simply a diversion, and people recognize it as such and react to that.

    I question evolution on it’s merits. Like the unprovable idea that random mutations could create all the systems and body parts we see in a modern human for instance. I question the idea that we all have a single common ancestor. I see little evidence for the gradualism of Darwin in the fossil record. Neither did Gould, Eldredge or Mayr, and that is why they invented punctuated equilibrium. Yet Darwin’s whole theory was grounded in gradualism. Never mind the spontaneous creation of biological life. And there are biasis and assumptions – even in science, and group think.

    Nope, ain´t gonna happen. You have pulled this answering-question-with-counterquestion stunt one time too many on me in the past. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

    Well no Iapetus, I asked the question first. You asked your question second. Actually I know why you don’t answer. And it is valid to ask a non-believer where he grounds human worth.

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  88. @post no. 87

    “My memory of the tea event is real evidence of the tea event. Whether or not it can be confirmed by others it remains a fact. As factual and certain as any scientific discovery. I have no reason to doubt that experience. […]”

    Great. So, by the same reasoning, the memories of people who were abducted and probed from behind by space aliens from Omega 3 are just as true and factual as any scientific discovery. Ergo, you should accept them. The question is: Do you?

    “I question evolution on it’s merits. [Snip irrelevant talking points]”

    See, this is one of the things that most creationists seem constitutionally unable to grasp.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that you are somehow in a position to assess the known facts better than the thousands and thousands of scientists that were and are working in this field (which I find decidedly unlikely, to be polite) and can show that the theory of evolution is in some way fatally flawed. This does nothing whatsoever to prove creationism. Trying to poke holes into the theory of evolution is not sufficient. You have to show corroborating evidence for creationism.

    So, in what respect does creationism explain the paleontological, molecular biological, phylogenetic and geological results as well as those from ontogeny/developmental biology better than the theory of evolution? To pick just one example out of a legion I could choose: humans have 46 chromosomes, while our nearest cousins in the animal kingdom, the chimpanzees, have 48 and we have found that human chromosome 2 is a fusion of two formerly independent chromosomes. There is a very simple and compelling evolutionary explanation for this. What is its creationist counterpart?

    Furthermore, evolutionary biology at least offers a mechanism (obviously ludicrous and false though as it is) to explain the appearance of new species/organs/functions over time. What is the creationist mechanism?

    These are the kinds of questions creationists need to answer if they want to replace the theory of evolution. I am not holding my breath, though, that any convincing ones will be forthcoming.

    “Well no Iapetus, I asked the question first. You asked your question second.”

    Welcome to my world.

    “Actually I know why you don’t answer. And it is valid to ask a non-believer where he grounds human worth.”

    Just as valid as to ask a believer where he “grounds” human worth. So, where is it? I think we both know the answer and its deficiencies.

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  89. Great. So, by the same reasoning, the memories of people who were abducted and probed from behind by space aliens from Omega 3 are just as true and factual as any scientific discovery. Ergo, you should accept them. The question is: Do you?

    Sure it would open up a lot of possibilities for error. But that does not change the fact of my having tea that morning. And it reamins a fact, whether I can demostrate to others or not. I’m surprised Iapetus that you would disagree with this.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that you are somehow in a position to assess the known facts better than the thousands and thousands of scientists that were and are working in this field (which I find decidedly unlikely, to be polite) and can show that the theory of evolution is in some way fatally flawed. This does nothing whatsoever to prove creationism. Trying to poke holes into the theory of evolution is not sufficient. You have to show corroborating evidence for creationism.

    Iapetus, I did not question all of evolutionary theory. Just a couple of specific claims. And we don’t have to offer an alternative theory to know that another theory is wrong. Perhaps we will just never know.

    Just as valid as to ask a believer where he “grounds” human worth. So, where is it? I think we both know the answer and its deficiencies.

    If theism has deficiencies for grounding human worth then materialism really offers nothing.

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  90. Humans have 46 chromosomes, while our nearest cousins in the animal kingdom, the chimpanzees, have 48 and we have found that human chromosome 2 is a fusion of two formerly independent chromosomes. There is a very simple and compelling evolutionary explanation for this. What is its creationist counterpart?

    Perhaps God just created humans with these two chromosomes fused – as they presently are in humans.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v3/n1/tale-of-two-chromosomes

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  91. @post no. 89:

    “Sure it would open up a lot of possibilities for error.”

    I take that as a “No” to my question then. Do you see the inconsistency here?

    “But that does not change the fact of my having tea that morning. And it reamins a fact, whether I can demostrate to others or not.”

    Unfortunately, scientific facts can be demonstrated to others. This is what makes them scientific. They can be corroborated by third parties. Therefore, to any third party your tea experience is manifestly not as true and factual as any scientific discovery. In a wider context, any claim to “knowledge” that rests solely on the certainty of the individual (revelations, instincts etc.) lacking any further corroboration deserves a low confidence value.

    “Iapetus, I did not question all of evolutionary theory. Just a couple of specific claims.”

    On what possible basis do you make these pronouncements? Why do you believe that you are qualified to judge which parts of the theory of evolution are correct and which are not, implying a knowledge that surpasses those of the scientists actually working in this field?

    “And we don’t have to offer an alternative theory to know that another theory is wrong. Perhaps we will just never know.”

    So are you stating on the record here that you are not a creationist?

    “If theism has deficiencies for grounding human worth then materialism really offers nothing.”

    No, you are simply persisting in this erroneous belief that humanity would fall into a nihilistic abyss without a theistic “grounding” of morality. I have advised you before to familiarize yourself at least superficially with moral philosophy. There are moral systems that do not rely on a deity, but are nonetheless objectivist (although I do not subscribe to any of them as I see great conceptual difficulties), so you do not have to wave them away defensively at first sight.

    @post no. 90:

    “Perhaps God just created humans with these two chromosomes fused – as they presently are in humans.”

    Maybe god created every living being and made it look like they evolved. Come on, this is beyond ridiculous.

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  92. I take that as a “No” to my question then. Do you see the inconsistency here?

    The best I could say is that I don’t know if their experience was true or not.

    Unfortunately, scientific facts can be demonstrated to others. This is what makes them scientific. They can be corroborated by third parties. Therefore, to any third party your tea experience is manifestly not as true and factual as any scientific discovery. In a wider context, any claim to “knowledge” that rests solely on the certainty of the individual (revelations, instincts etc.) lacking any further corroboration deserves a low confidence value.

    Now you are just asserting Iapetus. Not being able to demostrate my tea event takes nothing away from its factual reality. It really is a fact – whether you know it or not. It again, is as true as any fact discovered by science. In other words – how does not demostrating it make it any less true?

    On what possible basis do you make these pronouncements? Why do you believe that you are qualified to judge which parts of the theory of evolution are correct and which are not, implying a knowledge that surpasses those of the scientists actually working in this field?

    Ok, then show me proof that random mutations can create new body parts and systems (like hearts, lungs, spine, eyes, brain, arms, legs, etc…) What we see is random mutations acting on material that is alread there. Then prove a single common ancestor. Believe me Iapetus, I have been through this before, you won’t be able to…

    So are you stating on the record here that you are not a creationist?

    Of course I’m a creationist. That doesn’t mean that I know how God did it.

    Maybe god created every living being and made it look like they evolved. Come on, this is beyond ridiculous.

    Well I guess that would depend how you interpret the evidence. Since I believe in God, I do not leave that (Him) out of possible explainations. And certainly God could have created progressively – from the lesser to the greater. And I know some very devout Christians who are evolutionists. It doesn’t seem to be mutually exclusive.

    To be honest Iapetus I’m just not that anal about the theory of evolution. I am anal about materialism…

    No, you are simply persisting in this erroneous belief that humanity would fall into a nihilistic abyss without a theistic “grounding” of morality. I have advised you before to familiarize yourself at least superficially with moral philosophy. There are moral systems that do not rely on a deity, but are nonetheless objectivist (although I do not subscribe to any of them as I see great conceptual difficulties), so you do not have to wave them away defensively at first sight.

    Well, you are correct in not holding an objective view of morality or human worth. It is utter nonsense in a godless universe. If you would like to show how that would be otherwise – I’ll listen.

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  93. @post no. 92:

    “The best I could say is that I don’t know if their experience was true or not.”

    BINGO! So it seems that for a third party their “knowledge”, as your morning tea “knowledge”, is not on the same level as scientific knowledge. Thank you for agreeing.

    “Not being able to demostrate my tea event takes nothing away from its factual reality. It really is a fact – whether you know it or not. It again, is as true as any fact discovered by science. In other words – how does not demostrating it make it any less true?

    Sometimes I wonder if you really do not understand what I am talking about or whether you are just willfully obtuse to wind people up.

    The issue here is not if you can have beliefs or experiences that are factually true even if they can not be corroborated. The issue is that for a third party beliefs that rely solely on your experience deserve a lower level of confidence than those that were independently corroborated. I fail to see what is so difficult to grasp about this.

    “Ok, then show me proof that random mutations can create new body parts and systems (like hearts, lungs, spine, eyes, brain, arms, legs, etc…) What we see is random mutations acting on material that is alread there. Then prove a single common ancestor. Believe me Iapetus, I have been through this before, you won’t be able to…”

    I have no trouble believing this last sentence, which is why I will not bother to cite scientific publications that give the lie to those assertions. You would simply wave them away like all creatonists do.

    So the situation is this: tens of thousands of scientists past and present have evaluated the evidence in support of the theory of evolution and found it compelling. However, they were all wrong and you know better. This is as arrogant as it gets.

    What kills me is that the very same theistic hyper-scepticists who would accept the theory of evolution only if a bacterium turned into a sperm whale before their eyes in a laboratoy (and maybe not even then) turn around on a dime and accept the proposition that a disembodied, invisible super-mind magically poofed every living thing on the planet into existence on no substantive evidence whatsoever. Too bad that those formidable scepticism is not brought to bear on their own pet “theory”.

    “Of course I’m a creationist. That doesn’t mean that I know how God did it.

    As they say, some things do not need refuting, only underlining. Just imagine the reaction if an evolutionary biologist would say: “Of course I am an evolutionist. That does not mean I know how evolution does it”.

    “Well I guess that would depend how you interpret the evidence. Since I believe in God, I do not leave that (Him) out of possible explainations. And certainly God could have created progressively – from the lesser to the greater. And I know some very devout Christians who are evolutionists. It doesn’t seem to be mutually exclusive.”

    Well James, the thing is that those “devout Christians” will be very careful to leave their god out as an explanatory device, since they have no clue whatsoever what this god does, how he does it and how it could possibly be tested. Natural theology was kicked out of science centuries ago.

    “Well, you are correct in not holding an objective view of morality or human worth. It is utter nonsense in a godless universe. If you would like to show how that would be otherwise – I’ll listen.

    I am not your personal tutor. If you want to stop embarrassing yourself with statements like these, I suggest you do some research. You have access to the internet, so it should not be too hard. Since you obviously have to start from total scratch, I would suggest typing “moral objectivism” into Google or Wikipedia and taking it from there.

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  94. BINGO! So it seems that for a third party their “knowledge”, as your morning tea “knowledge”, is not on the same level as scientific knowledge. Thank you for agreeing.

    Sometimes I wonder if you really do not understand what I am talking about or whether you are just willfully obtuse to wind people up.

    The issue here is not if you can have beliefs or experiences that are factually true even if they can not be corroborated. The issue is that for a third party beliefs that rely solely on your experience deserve a lower level of confidence than those that were independently corroborated. I fail to see what is so difficult to grasp about this.

    But independent corroboration does nothing to change the truth of the event Iapetus. Nothing at all… Your confidence in my experience, or lack of, does nothing to mitgate it’s reality.

    I have no trouble believing this last sentence, which is why I will not bother to cite scientific publications that give the lie to those assertions. You would simply wave them away like all creatonists do.

    If you say so…

    So the situation is this: tens of thousands of scientists past and present have evaluated the evidence in support of the theory of evolution and found it compelling. However, they were all wrong and you know better. This is as arrogant as it gets.

    So “science” is never wrong? We should just shut up and believe them?

    What kills me is that the very same theistic hyper-scepticists who would accept the theory of evolution only if a bacterium turned into a sperm whale before their eyes in a laboratoy (and maybe not even then) turn around on a dime and accept the proposition that a disembodied, invisible super-mind magically poofed every living thing on the planet into existence on no substantive evidence whatsoever. Too bad that those formidable scepticism is not brought to bear on their own pet “theory”.

    Pet theory? Like the idea of the spontaneous creation of biological life from non-living matter? Talk about magic…

    As they say, some things do not need refuting, only underlining. Just imagine the reaction if an evolutionary biologist would say: “Of course I am an evolutionist. That does not mean I know how evolution does it”.

    But they do it all the time. How many “just so stories” have I heard – without a lick of evidence? http://darwinstories.blogspot.com/ Evolution DID IT!

    Well James, the thing is that those “devout Christians” will be very careful to leave their god out as an explanatory device, since they have no clue whatsoever what this god does, how he does it and how it could possibly be tested. Natural theology was kicked out of science centuries ago.

    So, nothing here prevents special creation from being true.

    I am not your personal tutor. If you want to stop embarrassing yourself with statements like these, I suggest you do some research. You have access to the internet, so it should not be too hard. Since you obviously have to start from total scratch, I would suggest typing “moral objectivism” into Google or Wikipedia and taking it from there.

    Stop being so full of yourself Iapetus. I have studied this issue, and moral objectivism is nonsense apart from God, and we would both probably agree on “why” that is so…

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  95. @ James:

    “Perhaps God just created humans with these two chromosomes fused – as they presently are in humans.”

    So God did this in a capricious way – actually placing within the chromosome the endpoints from the separate chromosomes which had been fused. Did this god want to actually make it look in every way as if his specially created chromosome had been fused from two previous ones? That’s the sort of mental gymnastics you have to get into.

    I guess you can say yes. After all you have the benefit of a ‘revelation-based’ world-view which you can use to know the intentions and actions of your god.

    I prefer a ‘reality-based’ world-view myself. And we have plenty of historicasl examples of the consequences of these two worldviews.

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  96. I prefer a ‘reality-based’ world-view myself. And we have plenty of historicasl examples of the consequences of these two worldviews.

    You mean like Stalin’s and Mao’s reality based worldview? Pol Pot’s? Castro’s?

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  97. @96 Thats just childish name calling now. You do your argument no service by roping in some despots. And, you forgot Hitler James.

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  98. @97 or are you claiming him for the Christians? Is this like at school where we have turn about on picking our team? If so, I think its unfair that you had first pick.

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  99. @97: I recall paraphrasing a statement he made along very similar lines a while, except that I replaced the same two despots he named with two particularly nasty Christian leaders 🙂 I took the trouble of inverting his argument then to try point out to him that tit-for-tat is just as pointless here as it is at the primary school playground…

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  100. @ James:

    I wouldn’t classify the world views of Stalin, Mao Tse Tung or Pol Pot as ‘reality-based’ – far from it. If they had been they might have actually improved the lot of their countries rather than causing so much destruction.

    The ‘revelation-based’ world view examples of course can be seen with the inquisition. One of the lesser examples was the persecution of Galileo because his ideas were based on reality.

    Actually, in many ways the behaviour of the Maoists and Stalinists was extremely similar to the Christian inquisitionists. People were persecuted for their heresy (Mao’s capitalist roaders) – their deviation from the tyrannical ‘revelations’ of the leadership. (I’m currently reading “The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov” so am sensitive to how these ‘revelation-based’ approaches battled against ‘reality-based’ approaches in Soviet (Stalinist) science – with disastrous consequences)

    Today we see the same behaviour with the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists and the laws of some Islamic states. And many fear similar political results would come from application of the ‘revelation-based’ world view of the Wedge strategists.

    It’s a strong reason for opposing such unscientific intrusions into science.

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  101. @95:

    Reminds me that the variation of the genome within the population and the various recombinations, etc., are a little hard to explain from “design”. The “fusing” of the two chromosomes example you give is a historical recombination event. There are current ones, too… Down syndrome, anyone? Retinoblastoma? And in a long list of other cancers and syndromic disorders…

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  102. @post no. 94

    “But independent corroboration does nothing to change the truth of the event Iapetus. Nothing at all… Your confidence in my experience, or lack of, does nothing to mitgate it’s reality.”

    Amazing how you manage to reply to a post while totally missing its content.

    Here is what I wrote:

    The issue here is not if you can have beliefs or experiences that are factually true even if they can not be corroborated. The issue is that for a third party beliefs that rely solely on your experience deserve a lower level of confidence than those that were independently corroborated. I fail to see what is so difficult to grasp about this.

    So the “objection” you raised here is totally beside the point. Why is it so hard to agree to a very simple concept and drag this out endlessly?

    “So “science” is never wrong? We should just shut up and believe them?”

    Ah, the good old “Science is a dogmatic authority who demands mindless obedience from us poor laypeople.” canard.

    No, you can criticize scientific findings all you like provided you have valid arguments and/or corroborating evidence for your criticism. What is manifestly not acceptable is to try and poke holes in a scientifc theory when you have neither and are simply arguing from a position of personal incredulity and out of ideological motivation.

    So if you have a scientific case to make against the theory of evolution, I suggest you write it up and submit it to an appropriate journal for peer review. If you can not do that, it is highly arrogant to believe that you are in a better position to judge the validity of the theory of evolution than those people who have spent their professional lives working in this field. Would you deem it appropriate if someone without any formal qualification in your field of work barged into your office and tried to tell you that you really have no idea and got it all wrong?

    “Pet theory? Like the idea of the spontaneous creation of biological life from non-living matter? Talk about magic…

    And along comes the next creationist talking point. How boring.

    Newsflash: the theory of evolution and the problem of abiogenesis are distinct. Even if Bert the Magic Penguin brought the first replicator into existence by tapping his Creation Foot three times while fluttering with his stubby wings, that would not change the fact that the theory of evolution is our best explanation of what happened from that point onwards.

    “So, nothing here prevents special creation from being true.”

    It is even better than that: nothing logically prevents you from believing anything, provided you are prepared to add the appropriate amounts of special pleading and handwaving. The possibilities are endless…

    “Stop being so full of yourself Iapetus. I have studied this issue, and moral objectivism is nonsense apart from God, and we would both probably agree on “why” that is so…”

    You have studied the issue? Somehow, I doubt it.

    But if this is so, then you could first explain to me why Immanuel Kant, that sorry excuse for a philosopher, did not see the need to “ground” his objectivist moral system in a deity, and subsequently refute him.

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  103. I wouldn’t classify the world views of Stalin, Mao Tse Tung or Pol Pot as ‘reality-based’ – far from it. If they had been they might have actually improved the lot of their countries rather than causing so much destruction.

    Actually, in many ways the behaviour of the Maoists and Stalinists was extremely similar to the Christian inquisitionists. People were persecuted for their heresy (Mao’s capitalist roaders) – their deviation from the tyrannical ‘revelations’ of the leadership. (I’m currently reading “The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov” so am sensitive to how these ‘revelation-based’ approaches battled against ‘reality-based’ approaches in Soviet (Stalinist) science – with disastrous consequences)

    That is just silly Ken. No one thought Mao or Satlin or Lenin had revelations. What they had were social ideas and power. And power won the day. How is the survival of the fittest, cruelty, hunger for power,and dominance over their fellow man not ‘reality-based.’ This has been the sad history of man.

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  104. Iapetus

    What kills me is that the very same theistic hyper-scepticists who would accept the theory of evolution only if a bacterium turned into a sperm whale before their eyes in a laboratoy (and maybe not even then) turn around on a dime and accept the proposition that a disembodied, invisible super-mind magically poofed every living thing on the planet into existence on no substantive evidence whatsoever.

    One old point Iapetus. No creationist has asked to see a bacterium turn into a sperm whale. What I asked for was evidence that random mutations could create new body parts or new functioning systems. And if you can’t observe this in the lab then how do you know this was the mechanism in nature that created these parts?

    “Pet theory? Like the idea of the spontaneous creation of biological life from non-living matter? Talk about magic…

    And along comes the next creationist talking point. How boring.

    Newsflash: the theory of evolution and the problem of abiogenesis are distinct. Even if Bert the Magic Penguin brought the first replicator into existence by tapping his Creation Foot three times while fluttering with his stubby wings, that would not change the fact that the theory of evolution is our best explanation of what happened from that point onwards.

    Not boring Iapetus, you believe in the fairy tale of spontaneous generation from non-living matter. If you don’t, you believe in some form of guided creation. And even if some form of evolution is true (and I have not denied it was) this creation event is the whole ball of wax. Every thing, all living creatures and plants, flow from this single or multiple event(s).

    You have studied the issue? Somehow, I doubt it.

    But if this is so, then you could first explain to me why Immanuel Kant, that sorry excuse for a philosopher, did not see the need to “ground” his objectivist moral system in a deity, and subsequently refute him.

    I’ll call your bluff – show me how morals or ethics can be objective to humankind apart from the mind of God… Don’t just keep throwing out names Iapetus, put up…

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  105. @post no.104:

    “What I asked for was evidence that random mutations could create new body parts or new functioning systems. And if you can’t observe this in the lab then how do you know this was the mechanism in nature that created these parts?”

    James, in all seriousness: you are not doing yourself any favors here by trotting out these boiler plate creationist talking points that have been refuted again and again and again. Random mutations can not create new functions? Apparently they can:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB101_2.html

    We can infer that the small and middling changes we have observed both in the laboratory as well as in nature can give rise to big changes over time, eventually resulting in new organs and species. If you wanted to show that this is impossible you would have to demonstrate a theoretical hurdle along the way which the process can not cross. Can you do that?

    “Not boring Iapetus, you believe in the fairy tale of spontaneous generation from non-living matter. If you don’t, you believe in some form of guided creation. And even if some form of evolution is true (and I have not denied it was) this creation event is the whole ball of wax. Every thing, all living creatures and plants, flow from this single or multiple event(s).”

    So now you want to accept that evolution occurred, but see another gap to insert your god? Unless you can give the mechanism that was used for this creation and corroborating evidence for it, all you have is a hypothesis. That means we are in the same boat regarding this problem. Well, this is not quite correct: while scientific hypotheses regarding abiogenesis can be experimentally verified or falsified, yours can not.

    “I’ll call your bluff – show me how morals or ethics can be objective to humankind apart from the mind of God… Don’t just keep throwing out names Iapetus, put up…”

    You call my bluff? Please.

    Are you ready to admit that despite your alleged “studying of the issue” you do not have the foggiest idea about Kantian ethics and its basis?

    I strongly suggest you read up on it. When you have done so, we can continue this discussion.

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  106. James, in all seriousness: you are not doing yourself any favors here by trotting out these boiler plate creationist talking points that have been refuted again and again and again. Random mutations can not create new functions? Apparently they can:

    Perhaps Iapetus you did not understand me. First I never denied that RMs could be benefical, or even cause proteins to function in a novel way. But all we observe is RMs acting on the material that is already present. To take that and extrapolate that RMs could create new body parts like arms, legs, or spines, or new systems like lungs or hearts or a brain, is simply a leap of faith. Another glaring problem is that we have no idea if ancient creatures experienced RMs at all. Or if they were anything like what we observe today. That is another leap of faith.

    So now you want to accept that evolution occurred, but see another gap to insert your god? Unless you can give the mechanism that was used for this creation and corroborating evidence for it, all you have is a hypothesis. That means we are in the same boat regarding this problem. Well, this is not quite correct: while scientific hypotheses regarding abiogenesis can be experimentally verified or falsified, yours can not.

    Falsification is not the only standard for truth. And it’s not a gap to insert my god any more that it is a gap to insert your god – materialism.

    Are you ready to admit that despite your alleged “studying of the issue” you do not have the foggiest idea about Kantian ethics and its basis?

    Iapetus, the reason you won’t offer an argument for objective morals/ethics apart from God is that you know I will blow it out of the water. You can bluster all you want but that is fact…

    A simple question that destroys this notion – just show how morals, ethics, or the laws of logic or numbers for that matter,(abstracts in general), can exist apart from a mind. And where they exist. If you can not answer these then it doesn’t matter if your name is Kant.

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  107. @post no. 106:

    “First I never denied that RMs could be benefical, or even cause proteins to function in a novel way. But all we observe is RMs acting on the material that is already present. To take that and extrapolate that RMs could create new body parts like arms, legs, or spines, or new systems like lungs or hearts or a brain, is simply a leap of faith.”

    What you asked for in post no. 104 was evidence that mutations “could create new body parts or new functioning systems.”. I provided you with this evidence.

    Unless you can show why this process, coupled with known mechanisms for altering and/or enhancing the genomic content of a cell like vertical and horizontal gene transfer, gene and chromosome duplication and fusion, aberrant chromosome rearrangements etc., is incapable in principle to generate new functions, systems and body parts over evolutionary timescales, your objection does not have a leg to stand on.

    “Another glaring problem is that we have no idea if ancient creatures experienced RMs at all. Or if they were anything like what we observe today. That is another leap of faith.”

    Do you have any indication that this might be the case? Or to put it in a more scientific way: which observation would be more consistent with this hypothesis than with the assumption of a uniform past?

    “Falsification is not the only standard for truth.”

    Falsification is not a standard for truth at all, since all we can determine by this process is the falsity of a proposition.

    “And it’s not a gap to insert my god any more that it is a gap to insert your god – materialism.”

    Oh dear, you really seem to go off the deep end there.

    I will overlook this childish “materialism as a god” guff and focus on the first part. Of course it is a typical god-of-the-gaps argument that you employ here. You can produce neither a mechanism nor any corroborating evidence for your hypothesis, which means that its explanatory value is zero and it can only survive for the time being due to a gap in our scientific understanding. As soon as a scientific answer to the abiogenesis problem is found, your god will be evicted from this gap, as he has been evicted from numerous other gaps in the past.

    “Iapetus, the reason you won’t offer an argument for objective morals/ethics apart from God is that you know I will blow it out of the water. You can bluster all you want but that is fact…”

    When you are finished with your chest-thumping, I suggest taking a deep breath and reading Kant. Or ANY moral philosophy for that matter, because this gets more embarrassing by the minute.

    Ignorance in general is nothing to be ashamed of. Willful ignorance proudly worn as a badge is something to be ashamed of.

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  108. What you asked for in post no. 104 was evidence that mutations “could create new body parts or new functioning systems.”. I provided you with this evidence.

    Iapetus I was quite specific in what I asked in @92

    “Ok, then show me proof that random mutations can create new body parts and systems (like hearts, lungs, spine, eyes, brain, arms, legs, etc…) What we see is random mutations acting on material that is already there. Then prove a single common ancestor. Believe me Iapetus, I have been through this before, you won’t be able to…”

    Now you are free to assume that RMs could create such systems, but you have no evidence that they actually did. Hey, I don’t ask for much – show me a partial spine or a light patch being created. Show me some simple neurons being formed.

    Do you have any indication that this might be the case? Or to put it in a more scientific way: which observation would be more consistent with this hypothesis than with the assumption of a uniform past?

    I have no idea what happened in these ancient creatures, but neither do you. You are free to assume of course. And how do you know the past was uniformed in the case of RMs? Are you not just begging the question.

    Falsification is not a standard for truth at all, since all we can determine by this process is the falsity of a proposition.

    I think you understood my point Iapetus. If an event can not be falsified, it does not make that event any less true.

    Of course it is a typical god-of-the-gaps argument that you employ here. You can produce neither a mechanism nor any corroborating evidence for your hypothesis, which means that its explanatory value is zero and it can only survive for the time being due to a gap in our scientific understanding. As soon as a scientific answer to the abiogenesis problem is found, your god will be evicted from this gap, as he has been evicted from numerous other gaps in the past.

    But this is not a small gap in understanding Iapetus, it’s the whole ball of wax. And don’t worry, you can’t evict God from His creation. But you are free believe in the myth of spontaneous generation from non-living matter.

    When you are finished with your chest-thumping, I suggest taking a deep breath and reading Kant. Or ANY moral philosophy for that matter, because this gets more embarrassing by the minute.

    Iapetus, this is simple. For you or Kant: just show how morals, ethics, or the laws of logic or numbers for that matter,(abstracts in general), can exist apart from a mind. And where they exist.

    Come on Iapetus, if I’m so ignorant this should be child’s play for you.

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  109. @post no. 108:

    A “partial spine”? Ok, that clinches it. You were pulling my leg here the whole time!

    I will respond in kind:

    You know, James, you might be onto something here. I guess those stupid scientists with their blind faith in evolution never thought that their “theory” could be blown out of the water so effortlessly.

    But I think you let them off the hook much too easily. Why stop at eyes or neurons? I can think of many other things that were never shown to happen in the lab. The evolution of the blood clotting cascade! The immune system! The endocrine system! The nervous system! The Big Bang!

    – Err, wait a minute. The Big Bang?

    – Sure. We assume that it happened, but we have no evidence that it did. So into the dustbin with this myth!

    – Anything else?

    – The formation of stars?

    – Supposed to take thousands to millions of years! Pure fantasy!

    – The rise of a mountain range?

    – Are you kidding me!? We may assume that it happened, but we have no evidence. Out with this fireside tale!

    And there goes much of modern science. Pity, I thought some of it was pretty interesting.

    “I have no idea what happened in these ancient creatures, but neither do you. You are free to assume of course. And how do you know the past was uniformed in the case of RMs? Are you not just begging the question.”

    Maybe you did not parse what I wrote last time, so here it is again in slightly enhanced form:

    Do you have any indication that this might be the case? Or to put it in a more scientific way: which observation would be more consistent with this hypothesis than with the assumption of a uniform past?

    “I think you understood my point Iapetus. If an event can not be falsified, it does not make that event any less true.”

    So first we had: “If an event can not be corroborated, it does not make it less true”. Now it also does not need to be falsifiable to be true.

    Together we get: “I can believe any non-falsifiable proposition that can not be corroborated, because it might still be true!”. Sure, if you accept the low confidence value of such a proposition.

    “But this is not a small gap in understanding Iapetus, it’s the whole ball of wax.”

    What has the size of the gap got to do with the fallacy of the argument?

    “And don’t worry, you can’t evict God from His creation.”

    I am sure that god will be mightily relieved to hear that. Did you already tell him this good news?

    “Iapetus, this is simple. For you or Kant: just show how morals, ethics, or the laws of logic or numbers for that matter,(abstracts in general), can exist apart from a mind. And where they exist.

    Come on Iapetus, if I’m so ignorant this should be child’s play for you.”

    Yeah, go for it James! I am sure this intellectual midget never thought about that. A good thing he is dead and does not have to witness the utter destruction of his philosophy by your lame talking points…err, I mean devastating arguments.

    So in one single post you managed to overturn the theory of evolution and to refute Kantian philosophy, without knowing much about either.

    Applause.

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  110. “I have no idea what happened in these ancient creatures, but neither do you. You are free to assume of course. And how do you know the past was uniformed in the case of RMs? Are you not just begging the question.”

    Maybe you did not parse what I wrote last time, so here it is again in slightly enhanced form:

    Do you have any indication that this might be the case? Or to put it in a more scientific way: which observation would be more consistent with this hypothesis than with the assumption of a uniform past?

    Sure, I have evidence Iapetus. They are called living fossils. They show no taxonomic change over hundreds of millions of years. So it is obvious that they did not experience RMs, or if they did, mutations had little or no effect. So we know that random mutations did not play a significant role in the lives of these creatures. But again, you have to assume a uniform past when it comes to mutations. You don’t have the evidence that this kind biological process was in play. And like I said – I’m agnostic. I can afford to be, I don’t have an ax to grind.

    Together we get: “I can believe any non-falsifiable proposition that can not be corroborated, because it might still be true!”. Sure, if you accept the low confidence value of such a proposition.

    Well confidence is in the eye of the beholder, it’s a rather subjective standard. Many personal or historical events are past being falsifiable, yet they are nevertheless true.

    Yeah, go for it James! I am sure this intellectual midget never thought about that. A good thing he is dead and does not have to witness the utter destruction of his philosophy by your lame talking points…err, I mean devastating arguments.

    So in one single post you managed to overturn the theory of evolution and to refute Kantian philosophy, without knowing much about either.

    I made a simple request Iapetus: just show how morals, ethics, or the laws of logic or numbers for that matter,(abstracts in general), can exist apart from a mind. And where they exist.

    And you have dodged it a number of times now. And the sad thing is, you probably agree with me that such abstracts do not exist apart from minds, but you are just to stubborn to admit it. ; )

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  111. @post no.110:

    “Sure, I have evidence Iapetus. They are called living fossils. They show no taxonomic change over hundreds of millions of years. So it is obvious that they did not experience RMs, or if they did, mutations had little or no effect. So we know that random mutations did not play a significant role in the lives of these creatures.”

    So what?

    First of all, nothing in the theory of evolution says that species have to change. If their environment is stable and there is little or no selection pressure, most if not all mutations that occur will be neutral. We have ample corroborating evidence for this.

    Second, mutations are not confined to the morphology of a specimen. They can just as well act on e.g. metabolic pathways. We again have ample corroborating evidence for this. Consequently, we can not exclude from looking at the fossil record alone that mutations occurred and were selected for.

    But most importantly, in what way are said ancient species evidence for the hypothesis that the past was vastly different from the present?

    “But again, you have to assume a uniform past when it comes to mutations. You don’t have the evidence that this kind biological process was in play.”

    I do not HAVE to assume anything. It is simply the most parsimonious hypothesis which is as of yet not falsified and elegantly capable of explaining our observations.

    “And like I said – I’m agnostic. I can afford to be, I don’t have an ax to grind.”

    Pull the other leg.

    “Well confidence is in the eye of the beholder, it’s a rather subjective standard.”

    It is the same standard that you employ in every aspect of your life except one.

    “Many personal or historical events are past being falsifiable, yet they are nevertheless true.”

    The veracity of reports concerning historical events is judged by the amount of corroborating evidence we can compile for them in the form of e.g. independent sources which complement each other, eyewitnesses, archaeological findings etc. Otherwise their confidence value will be low.

    “I made a simple request Iapetus: just show how morals, ethics, or the laws of logic or numbers for that matter,(abstracts in general), can exist apart from a mind. And where they exist.

    And you have dodged it a number of times now. And the sad thing is, you probably agree with me that such abstracts do not exist apart from minds, but you are just to stubborn to admit it. ; )”

    There is nothing here you have to be afraid of. I deliberately chose Kant because he was no evil atheistic materialistic evolutionist sent out by Satan to threaten your faith. So there is no need for your automatic defense mechanisms to kick in.

    Kant was a believing Christian who incorporated your god into his philosophy. Besides, he was an intellectual giant and one of the most influential philosophers since Aristotle.

    Read what he had to say. Learn.

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  112. First of all, nothing in the theory of evolution says that species have to change. If their environment is stable and there is little or no selection pressure, most if not all mutations that occur will be neutral. We have ample corroborating evidence for this.

    Second, mutations are not confined to the morphology of a specimen. They can just as well act on e.g. metabolic pathways. We again have ample corroborating evidence for this. Consequently, we can not exclude from looking at the fossil record alone that mutations occurred and were selected for.

    But most importantly, in what way are said ancient species evidence for the hypothesis that the past was vastly different from the present?

    But Iapetus, that is the point you have no evidence that RMs ever operated on these species. The only way you could assume it was if we saw body change through the fossil record. So here we have quite a few species where there is no evidence that RMs were active. Again, you are free to assume…

    Kant was a believing Christian who incorporated your god into his philosophy. Besides, he was an intellectual giant and one of the most influential philosophers since Aristotle.

    Iapetus, really. Don’t you agree with me that such abstract concepts can only exist in minds? Be honest bro…

    I’m sorry, that’s all I have for today… Having another bout of lyme, rather drained…

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  113. @ James:

    You got it wrong James. Mao, Stalin, etc. didn’t get revelations – they provided them in the same way that religious leaders do. Their followers relied on these revelations rather than the evidence of reality. Hence the stuff ups and terror – the same as the inquisition.

    I am afraid, James, that Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot are on your team – not mine.

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  114. (disclaimer: the following words aren’t directed at anyone, but just a bit of light sarcastic relief – and of course to stir a bit) 🙂

    Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot??? big deal… you can’t really say what they did was ‘wrong’… maybe not too ‘nice’, but hey, what’s ‘nice’ anyway? ‘Nice’ for Hitler was an arian society…

    All these good men were doing the best they could – working out their logical moral theories. Stuff happens. People massacre. So what? For billions of years, organisms have competed – and we continue to do so today (Rwanda, Darfur, Economic hoarding and subsequent meltdowns)… ‘spose it’ll always be like this – is there some fairy in the sky that says we should expect otherwise or ‘change our behaviour’?

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  115. @post no. 112:

    “But Iapetus, that is the point you have no evidence that RMs ever operated on these species. The only way you could assume it was if we saw body change through the fossil record. So here we have quite a few species where there is no evidence that RMs were active.”

    And once again the content of what I wrote gets ignored…

    What are you even arguing here? That these ancient species somehow disprove the theory of evolution? That they are evidence for god messing with their genome and freezing their form in place? What?

    “Iapetus, really. Don’t you agree with me that such abstract concepts can only exist in minds?”

    Of course I do not agree with this proposition since it can trivially be shown to be false. Which you know pretty well, since I explained this to you some mere months ago. Stop continually pressing the Reset Button.

    And read Kant.

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  116. You got it wrong James. Mao, Stalin, etc. didn’t get revelations – they provided them in the same way that religious leaders do. Their followers relied on these revelations rather than the evidence of reality. Hence the stuff ups and terror – the same as the inquisition.

    I am afraid, James, that Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot are on your team – not mine.

    Ken you are not aware of history. First, communism was a social view. Supported by many intellectuals and social scientists of the time (heck it is even supported to this day in US universities). Second, much of what Hilter did was based on the science of eugenics directly related to Darwin’s view of the races.

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

    Nazi eugenics were Nazi Germany’s race-based social policies that placed the improvement of the race through eugenics at the center of their concerns and targeted those humans they identified as “life unworthy of life” (German Lebensunwertes Leben), including but not limited to the criminal, degenerate, dissident, feeble-minded, homosexual, idle, insane, religious and weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity

    The concepts of racist ideas of competition, termed social Darwinism in 1944, were discussed by European scientists, and also in the Vienna press during the 1920s, but how exactly Hitler picked up these ideas is uncertain.[2] In 1876, Ernst Haeckel had discussed the selective infanticide policy of the Greek city of ancient Sparta.[3] In his Second Book, which was kept unpublished during Nazi Germany, Hitler also praised Sparta, adding that this was because he considered Sparta to be the first “Völkisch State”. He endorsed what he perceived to be an early eugenics treatment of deformed children:

    Sparta must be regarded as the first Völkisch State. The exposure of the sick, weak, deformed children, in short, their destruction, was more decent and in truth a thousand times more humane than the wretched insanity of our day which preserves the most pathological subject, and indeed at any price, and yet takes the life of a hundred thousand healthy children in consequence of birth control or through abortions, in order subsequently to breed a race of degenerates burdened with illnesses.[4][5]

    “Science” all the way Ken. I mean really, what is wrong with preventing the weak, feeble and mentally ill from breeding? From poluting the gene pool?

    As Darwin said: Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

    Now to be fair, Darwin did not advocate eugenics, he believe we should follow our “instinct of sympathy.” But the logical question is why? If the weak, feeble and mentally ill were really so “injurious to the race of man.”

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  117. BTW Ken,

    We can not forget Darwin’s cousin, and scientist, Francis Galton. And his effect on Nazi thinking:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Galton#Heredity.2C_historiometry_and_eugenics

    This orientation led him (Francis Galtonto) defend principles eugéniques which are not compatible with the values attached to human rights in the modern democracies. The Nazis were notably inspired by his theories to rest their politics of individuals’ massive sterilisation considered as deviants (alcoholics, schizophrenics, handicapped persons), These abnormalities having appeared to them as hereditary, thus ” harmful for the integrity and the purity of the Aryan race “.

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  118. James @115: I’m sorry but I’m not going to let you perpetuate this crappy myth that Darwin’s ideas led directly to the horrors of the holocaust.

    Hitler got his ideas from other sources – & brought a Christian perspective to what he was doing, by the way: the motto on the SS regalia was Gott mitt uns (God is with us). In fact he was quite explicit about his beliefs: My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them. April 12 1922, published in My New Order. And he certainly didn’t accept the idea of evolution, stating a creationist viewpoint: From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us, that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump , as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today Hitler’s Tabletalk (Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier).

    He approved of Martin Luther’s comments. Wikipedia says: On the Jews and Their Lies is a 65,000-word treatise written by German Reformation leader Martin Luther in 1543. In it, Luther writes that the Jews are a “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.” They are full of the “devil’s feces … which they wallow in like swine,” and the synagogue is an “incorrigible whore and an evil slut …” He argues that their synagogues and schools be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. They should be shown no mercy or kindness, afforded no legal protection, and these “poisonous envenomed worms” should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time. He also seems to advocate their murder, writing “we are at fault in not slaying them.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Jews_and_Their_Lies

    Hitler also approved of the germ theory of disease promoted by Pasteur & Koch, seeing this as a metaphor for what he regarded as an infection of the German fatherland (& the cure for that infection). And it could be argued that he believed – on the basis of his personal faith – that not to root out that infection was a sin: “The result of all racial crossing is therefore in brief always the following:
    * Lowering of the level of the higher race;
    * Physical and intellectual regression and hence the beginning of a slowly but surely progressing sickness.
    To bring about such a development is, then, nothing else but to sin against the will of the eternal creator. And as a sin this act is rewarded.” – ch. 11 of Mein Kampf http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/mkv1ch11.html

    As for eugenics being based on Darwin’s view of races: yes, the title of the ‘book’ is (in full) “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” But if you read the book you’ll find that he’s using ‘races’ as modern biologists would use ‘subspecies’ and ‘variety’ – he’s not talking about racial differences in humans. In fact, Darwin held very liberal views about race, as did the rest of his (extended) family; he argued passionately against slavery, for example (something that nearly got him thrown off the Beagle).
    You might also read PZ Myers’ comments on this: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/03/was_darwin_a_racist.php

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  119. @post no. 112:

    “But Iapetus, that is the point you have no evidence that RMs ever operated on these species. The only way you could assume it was if we saw body change through the fossil record. So here we have quite a few species where there is no evidence that RMs were active.”

    And once again the content of what I wrote gets ignored…

    What are you even arguing here? That these ancient species somehow disprove the theory of evolution? That they are evidence for god messing with their genome and freezing their form in place? What?

    “Iapetus, really. Don’t you agree with me that such abstract concepts can only exist in minds?”

    Of course I do not agree with this proposition since it can trivially be shown to be false. Which you know pretty well, since I repeatedly explained this to you some mere months ago. Stop continually pressing the Reset Button.

    And read Kant.

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  120. @ James:

    You then agree with Ben Steins comment that “science leads to murder” do you???

    You are demonstrating the same “non-reality based” approach as Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Seizing any argument to support a preconceived idea – in this case a hatred of science. In the process you tie yourself in knots – quoting Darwin to “prove” he advocated something you acknowledge he didn’t advocate!!!!

    This sort of quoting out of context with an agenda of hate typified what happened under Stalin with persecution of scientists who based their work on reality and produced findings which conflicted with those believed by Stalin and his sycophants.

    No, you are definitely on their team.

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  121. Alison, I did not say that Darwins theories were the only theories or ideas that Hitler used. Certainly the scientific theory of eugenics was key to much if the Nazi thinking. After all as my link said Hitler found much in Ernst Haeckel’s point about Sparta’s infanticide policy. Hitler killed over 90,000 of the mentally ill to keep them from infecting the population.

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

    Sir Francis Galton systematized these ideas and practices according to new knowledge about the evolution of man and animals provided by the theory of his cousin Charles Darwin during the 1860s and 1870s. After reading Darwin’s Origin of Species, Galton built upon Darwin’s ideas whereby the mechanisms of natural selection were potentially thwarted by human civilization. He reasoned that, since many human societies sought to protect the underprivileged and weak, those societies were at odds with the natural selection responsible for extinction of the weakest; and only by changing these social policies could society be saved from a “reversion towards mediocrity,” a phrase he first coined in statistics and which later changed to the now common “regression towards the mean.”

    Let me repeat: As Darwin said: Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

    Now to be fair, Darwin did not advocate eugenics, he believe we should follow our “instinct of sympathy.” But the logical question is why? If the weak, feeble and mentally ill were really so “injurious to the race of man?

    Those are the seeds of eugenics Alsion, whether you like it or not.

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  122. What are you even arguing here? That these ancient species somehow disprove the theory of evolution? That they are evidence for god messing with their genome and freezing their form in place? What?

    Iapetus, talk about ignoring the context? What did I claim? That you had no “evidence” that RMs were active in ancient creatures. That RMs caused anything those millions of years ago. Now here we have living fossils (both plant and animal) that show no body change over hundreds of millions of years. So if “body change” (in the fossil record) is the evidence one needs to assume RMs at work, you don’t even have that here.

    Of course I do not agree with this proposition since it can trivially be shown to be false. Which you know pretty well, since I repeatedly explained this to you some mere months ago. Stop continually pressing the Reset Button.

    Ok, if it is so easy – show us how abstract concepts can exist apart from minds. Right here and right now.

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  123. You are demonstrating the same “non-reality based” approach as Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Seizing any argument to support a preconceived idea – in this case a hatred of science. In the process you tie yourself in knots – quoting Darwin to “prove” he advocated something you acknowledge he didn’t advocate!!!!

    Ken from Darwin, to Galton, to Haeckel, and beyond, science gave us eugenics and racial hygiene theory. That is fact. BTW – science also gave us the A bomb – the ability, for the first time in history, to destroy mankind… For all the good science has done that one evil may eclipse it all…

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  124. “Those are the seeds of eugenics Alsion, whether you like it or not.”

    You link to a wikipedia entry; that entry contradicts your statement.

    That entry makes it very clear that the origins of eugenics are far, far earlier in history than Darwin: Darwin is not “the seeds of eugenics”, as you wrote. In fact you illustrated it yourself with your reference to Sparta.

    The entry doesn’t quote or refer to Darwin directly at all, only to other people who read his work. That article names who coined the word ‘eugenic’: it wasn’t Darwin and the man who did is very well-known for coining the phrase. The entry mentions that he didn’t advocate population control either, just as Darwin didn’t. (In the paragraph after the one you quoted Darwin explains this, as you briefly mention, but he also gives his answer to your “why” question. While I’m mentioning quoting Darwin: Darwin was in the habit of posing the problem first, then answering it, which quote miners seem to exploit by dropping the latter part.)

    I note that entry says that Plato was an advocate of eugenics… Plato’s Republic, etc. Plato is one of your philosopher friends… still feel keen on promoting philosophy without balancing it with a little real-world sense?! Perhaps we should be using this as an example of the danger of using pure philosophy to build moral codes?

    Your first quote is from the article, but the second isn’t, nor is it excerpted from the first. “Let me repeat” ? 😉

    Seriously, it shouldn’t take a lot of thought to realise that Galton’s worries weren’t needed.

    I’m going to take “the weak” as the disabled, those with clear genetic disorders, etc. It’d be nebulous to the point of silliness otherwise.

    For a start, we’re not exactly swamped with the disabled, etc: simple observation shows that things are pretty much OK. We’ve had well over a 100 years since Galton and if anything things are better and certainly not worse. (Disabled, etc., probably do live for longer, however.)

    I could bore you with a list of the obvious reasons disabled, etc., remain a minority: social stigmas affect finding a partner (ugly, but real), “practical” reproductive issues for some (esp. in severe syndromes; major genetic changes can mean that they are unable to conceive), etc., etc.

    But I would like to mention that good basic public health helps. A fair amount of disability (etc.) isn’t genetic, but from infectious disease. This wouldn’t have been as clear in their day (possibly not clear at all). This is one of the reasons, there is a higher rate of disabled, etc., in so-called “developing” countries.

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  125. @122:

    “Now here we have living fossils (both plant and animal) that show no body change over hundreds of millions of years.”

    So-called “living fossils” are not unchanged, they are relatively less changed that other species.

    “Ok, if it is so easy – show us how abstract concepts can exist apart from minds. “ And this would be relevant or useful, because…?

    “Right here and right now.” Ooooo. I’m sure this is so terrifying!

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  126. @123:

    “science gave us eugenics and racial hygiene theory.”

    Read that wiki entry you cited again 😉 Philosophers from ages back proposed it and there are even older roots.

    “That is fact.” Funnily your own source disagrees with you 😉

    “science also gave us the A bomb – the ability, for the first time in history, to destroy mankind…”

    You could argue its the military that made the A-bomb. Also man has long had the ability to destroy all of mankind. It seems to me that the idea that the A-bomb could kill all of mankind is probably nonsensical for the same reasons that previous warfare and disease hasn’t.

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  127. First Heraclides, I was speaking of what influence Hitler and the Nazis. I know eugenics, in some form goes way back. My quote reference Sparta for goodness sake. And the Sparta reference was made by Haeckel to make his case. And I know that Darwin did not support eugenics – I clearly mentioned that. But the facts are that men like Galton and Haeckel and other social darwinists pick it up his conclusions and ran with them. It wasn’t the lower uneducated classes making these arguments. It was scientists. You can try to revise history all you want, those are the facts.

    Second, whether you agree with Galton or not, is not the point. The point is that eugenics in modern times was set forth as science by scientists. And it is practiced to this day

    A 2002 literature review of elective abortion rates found that 91–93% of pregnancies in the United States with a diagnosis of Down syndrome were terminated.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down's_Syndrome#Ethical_issues

    http://www.lifenews.com/nat2292.html

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  128. You could argue its the military that made the A-bomb. Also man has long had the ability to destroy all of mankind. It seems to me that the idea that the A-bomb could kill all of mankind is probably nonsensical for the same reasons that previous warfare and disease hasn’t.

    It was scientists that gave us the Atom bomb, would you like their names? Also, such a wide spread exchange could cause a nuclear winter. If it didn’t kill all of mankind, it would kill the majority of mankind.

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  129. You are demonstrating the same “non-reality based” approach as You are demonstrating the same “non-reality based” approach as Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Seizing any argument to support a preconceived idea – in this case a hatred of science. In the process you tie yourself in knots – quoting Darwin to “prove” he advocated something you acknowledge he didn’t advocate!!!!

    Ken, I have a couple of more thoughts about this. Let’s take your atheistic assumptions as fact. Where does that leave us? Well, it was the evolutionary process that created men to think like we do and act like we do. Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were only doing what the process created them to think and do. Again, men can and will use any ideal, whether social, racial, political, or religious to fulfill their natural desire for power and wealth. That is “reality based” Ken. And science has nothing to say about it. Was Stalin “wrong” for killing millions of his own citizens – how does science prove or show its wrongness?

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  130. So-called “living fossils” are not unchanged, they are relatively less changed that other species.

    What do you mean relatively less changed? There is almost no boby change for hundreds of millions of years. Nothing else comes close to these. They show nearly complete stasis. How is this even possible if RMs had been operating in these ancient species?

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  131. @129 As opposed to what? Your kind & bountiful god creating them to act as they do? If a god can create beings with free will, why not an evolutionary process.

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  132. @ James:

    So – you agree with Ben Stein – ‘science leads to killing people’??

    What do you want to do about it? Eliminate science?

    Give us your solution!

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  133. @127: Trying to rewrite your posts after the fact is an interesting game 🙂 Just kidding. More seriously, you did try pin it on Darwin & Galton: that’s quite clear, but its also clear eugenics origins are much earlier. (I find it funny how you are avoiding mentioning Plato in your reply. Embarrassed?) More practically, neither Darwin or Galton encouraged or set forth the practice of eugenics, nor did the majority of scientists (yes, a number of people did, but the community as a whole didn’t). As I wrote, both of these men encouraged the opposite: that it wasn’t a good idea.

    That a concept is discussed by scientists, doesn’t say a thing about others choosing to use the concept. If others choose to use it, that’s their choice and their responsibility.

    The Down syndrome example you give isn’t “by scientists” but by the community, or more specifically the parents-to-be involved. Those involved would include every walk of life. Its also really by the individuals involved, not by some “authority”. No one enforces it, nor “advocates” it. I think you’d find that the position science takes on matters like these is “inform but not decide for others”; it seems to me this is pretty much what is happening. Rather than blame “scientists” for what it a community-based thing, why not look to who are making those decisions and why?

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  134. @130 & 128:

    Both these posts have a common theme: trying to pull back a more general statement. Back peddler 🙂

    128: Its was a military project, run by military. Sure, scientists were involved, but then non-scientists were involved too, especially the military and the good-ol’ Prez of the USA and his buddies. And the air force. And the support staff and the bases. And… You’re really trying so hard to pin this on one set of people, just like your eugenics pitch. You’re also “conveniently” leaving out the scientists opposed to it.

    @130:

    They are changed, just recognisable as being essentially the same animal. Note how you’ve moved your statement back from ‘unchanged’ to ‘unchanged body plan’. Well, that’s not strictly true either, you need to back peddle further to ‘essentially the same body plan’! At which point its no longer ‘unchanged’… 😉

    More practically, its a bit silly pointing at a small number of exceptional species, when the larger majority of species have altered considerably.

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  135. What do you want to do about it? Eliminate science?

    Ken, in another post, not on this thread I don’t think. I made it clear that I like science. I like my TV and my computer and my electric heat and lights. My field is electronics,emergency communication systems, and I problem solve for field techs and engineers. Mostly dealing with ICC problems and interface problems. So I use scientifc principles every day.

    But I do not make science more important than it is. Science simply can not answer the most important questions. Like does man have inherent worth? Are human rights universal, objective? How should we treat our fellow man? Science can not tell us whether a Stalin should or should not kill millions of his own citizens to bring him personal power and to bring order to the state.

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  136. Trying to rewrite your posts after the fact is an interesting game Just kidding. More seriously, you did try pin it on Darwin & Galton: that’s quite clear, but its also clear eugenics origins are much earlier. (I find it funny how you are avoiding mentioning Plato in your reply. Embarrassed?) More practically, neither Darwin or Galton encouraged or set forth the practice of eugenics, nor did the majority of scientists (yes, a number of people did, but the community as a whole didn’t). As I wrote, both of these men encouraged the opposite: that it wasn’t a good idea.

    Heraclides, I am not trying to rewite anything. For goodness sake my first quote on this subject mentioned Sparta and its influence on Hitler and Haeckel. But in modern time the idea was picked up by scientists and given a scientific basis. There is no arguing with that. And why do you keep mentioning Plato? I have no special respect for him.

    That a concept is discussed by scientists, doesn’t say a thing about others choosing to use the concept. If others choose to use it, that’s their choice and their responsibility.

    Correct, but their writings did have a profound influence on Nazi thinking. Sure, Darwin did not support eugenics, but didn’t he understand that people would run with statements like this: Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Never mind the direct Hitler, Haeckel connection which I alread linked, I think.

    The Down syndrome example you give isn’t “by scientists” but by the community, or more specifically the parents-to-be involved. Those involved would include every walk of life. Its also really by the individuals involved, not by some “authority”. No one enforces it, nor “advocates” it. I think you’d find that the position science takes on matters like these is “inform but not decide for others”; it seems to me this is pretty much what is happening. Rather than blame “scientists” for what it a community-based thing, why not look to who are making those decisions and why?

    No, science has made this possible. And medical doctors are strongly advocating for it (as my link stated). And the better science becomes at spotting genetic defects in the womb the less “defective” human beings will be born. Hitler killed the mentally ill outside the womb, we just kill them inside the womb – the end if the same.

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  137. Its was a military project, run by military. Sure, scientists were involved, but then non-scientists were involved too, especially the military and the good-ol’ Prez of the USA and his buddies. And the air force. And the support staff and the bases. And… You’re really trying so hard to pin this on one set of people, just like your eugenics pitch. You’re also “conveniently” leaving out the scientists opposed to it.

    Would we have the A bomb is it wasn’t for science and scientists – yes or no?

    They are changed, just recognisable as being essentially the same animal. Note how you’ve moved your statement back from ‘unchanged’ to ‘unchanged body plan’. Well, that’s not strictly true either, you need to back peddle further to ‘essentially the same body plan’! At which point its no longer ‘unchanged’…

    There are fossils like the sea lilly, Horseshoe Crab, Tuatara, etc… that simply display no noticable change. And the others with little or no change. So back to my point – if RMs plays a major role in the diversity of life they had little or no effect on these creatures. Which brings me back to my original point – that there is no good evidence that RMs played a role in these early creature’s formation.

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  138. I told you why I mentioned Plato.

    Erm, don’t you think its the Nazis fault for taking others words’ well beyond their meaning? Like other crazies of all kinds… Including nutters who take the bible and charge off and blow something up. Do you blame the bible for that? You must if you’re going to be consistent with this line of argument.

    I’ve seen accounts elsewhere that the Nazi persecution of the Jews was, in large part, based on the actions of Christians in earlier times (esp. in the 2nd C). I’ve also seen it written a part of the reason for this was treating some passages of the bible as against Jews. I’ve read that this was apparently particularly true of Catholics (although to be fair, it may just be that the Catholics were the dominant sect in those areas, so it it were to be Christian, it’d likely be Catholic). Nazi Germany picked up from this, that’s well documented.

    Despite this, you try yet another way to “blame” Darwin. How about I take any number of passages from the bible and “run with” them? Do you want to blame the bible or its authors? I guess you must. After all, the earlier Christians did precisely this in their treatment of the Jews, according to what I’ve read. (Incidentally, one account I’ve read was penned by a R.C. priest.)

    re: genetic testing, science may provide the tests, if people want to use them, but the choice to use is with the people involved. You’re playing “shift the blame” again. If people don’t want to use it, they just don’t use it. Not everyone does either.

    (Also: medical doctors aren’t scientists, excepting a minority who also conduct research.)

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  139. Erm, don’t you think its the Nazis fault for taking others words’ well beyond their meaning? Like other crazies of all kinds… Including nutters who take the bible and charge off and blow something up. Do you blame the bible for that? You must if you’re going to be consistent with this line of argument.

    Well if science says that if “the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind” it would be “highly injurious to the race of man” it would not really matter if the scientists had moral reservations about eugenics. That moral opinion would hold no weight – why not remove the weak members to preserve the race? Does science tell us how to treat our fellow man?

    I’ve seen accounts elsewhere that the Nazi persecution of the Jews was, in large part, based on the actions of Christians in earlier times (esp. in the 2nd C). I’ve also seen it written a part of the reason for this was treating some passages of the bible as against Jews. I’ve read that this was apparently particularly true of Catholics (although to be fair, it may just be that the Catholics were the dominant sect in those areas, so it it were to be Christian, it’d likely be Catholic). Nazi Germany picked up from this, that’s well documented.

    Yes, many christians have hated and even killed Jews. Of course they seem to forget that Christ was a Jew and that Christ had many ethical teachings that they completely ignore. So they were not following the explicit commands of Christ. When unbelievers attempt to purify the race through eugenics, what ethical commands of science are they violating?

    re: genetic testing, science may provide the tests, if people want to use them, but the choice to use is with the people involved. You’re playing “shift the blame” again. If people don’t want to use it, they just don’t use it. Not everyone does either.

    First, without science this would not be possible, period. Second, it is still eugenics under the guise of personal choice – the end is the same as Hitler’s. Of course in countries like China there is no personal choice.

    Also: medical doctors aren’t scientists, excepting a minority who also conduct research

    But they all have Phds. And their opinion carries a lot of weight with the general population. And they are strongly advocating this form of eugenics. One wonders what has happened to the Hippocratic Oath…

    I told you why I mentioned Plato.

    Please refresh my memory. You did say that he supported infanticide – but what is that to me?

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  140. Paragraph by paragraph:

    1. You side-stepped entirely what I wrote.

    2. Circular argument, returning to before when I corrected both points. (The first point is being misused and second simply incorrect.)

    3. Surely its common knowledge that medical doctors do not have Ph.D.s, they have M.D.s. (Excepting a minority who have both. You’re back-peddling again, btw.)

    4. Left out the key point: looks like trying to bait me 😉 You know the use of philosophy in forming morals is being discussed on this blog: you are part of that discussion. The fake plea of ignorance looks silly.

    You didn’t reply to my point that the Nazis looked to earlier religious-based persecution of the Jews to model their own persecution of them in your reply, it was a key point in my post. Should I take it from this that you accept this? With it, the blame lies with the Nazis and to some extent the that precedents set a context for this to happen again. The Nazis took it further, in a larger scale and more organised fashion, but the basis in previous persecution is there. This includes persecution by Christians. I’d like to think that you’re not avoiding facing this.

    You might want to consider (retrospective) “fitting” of blame for this on Darwin and Galton, etc., is a convenient way for some Christians to deny the role of Christian history in the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

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  141. 1. You side-stepped entirely what I wrote.

    Er, no I didn’t it. I just brought up another point. What is scientifically wrong with destroying the weak before they infect the race – as Darwin suggested (suggested that the weak infected the race)

    2. Circular argument, returning to before when I corrected both points. (The first point is being misused and second simply incorrect.)

    You have to be more specific. You can’t just assert without defining…

    3. Surely its common knowledge that medical doctors do not have Ph.D.s, they have M.D.s. (Excepting a minority who have both. You’re back-peddling again, btw.)

    Funny, both my doctors have Phds. And no I’m not backpeddling one bit, because “science” proper has given us the means to use this kind of eugenics. Without science all these millions of handicapped babies would have come to term. They would not have been murdered in the womb.

    4. Left out the key point: looks like trying to bait me You know the use of philosophy in forming morals is being discussed on this blog: you are part of that discussion. The fake plea of ignorance looks silly.

    Oh stop. You acted like Plato had some special meaning to me – you said: Plato is one of your philosopher friends.

    Well no he is not, or perhaps Haeckel is one of your special scientific friends.

    Adolf Hitler considered Sparta to be the first “Völkisch State,” and much like Ernst Haeckel before him, praised Sparta due to its primitive form of eugenics practice of selective infanticide policy which was applied on deformed children though the Nazis believed the children were killed outright and not exposed.

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

    You didn’t reply to my point that the Nazis looked to earlier religious-based persecution of the Jews to model their own persecution of them in your reply, it was a key point in my post. Should I take it from this that you accept this? With it, the blame lies with the Nazis and to some extent the that precedents set a context for this to happen again. The Nazis took it further, in a larger scale and more organised fashion, but the basis in previous persecution is there. This includes persecution by Christians. I’d like to think that you’re not avoiding facing this.

    Sheesh Heraclides, I think I agreed with you. But that does not remove the scientific basis for eugenics that the Nazis practiced. And when Christians persecuted the Jews they were violating the very core teaching of Christ. And when Hitler was practicing his form of eugenics,exactly which law of science was he violating?

    You might want to consider (retrospective) “fitting” of blame for this on Darwin and Galton, etc., is a convenient way for some Christians to deny the role of Christian history in the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

    But that had nothing to do with Hitler killing the mentally ill in Germany. They were Germans (all 90,000 of them)of course if he had more time, who knows. That was based on the science of eugenics. I did not bring up the Holocaust in this thread.

    My question was – I mean really, what is wrong with preventing the weak, feeble and mentally ill from breeding? From poluting the gene pool?

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  142. Keep your hair on 😉

    (Remind yourself you throw out taunts all the time, so when you get something back, you should be a little tolerant of it given what you dish out! If you don’t like that, ease off dishing out things to others?)

    1. Yes, one that avoids what I wrote 😉

    2. I should have written ‘travelling in circles’ rather than ‘circular argument’. The explanation is self evidence if you re-read the posts anyway and I don’t “have” explain everything to you.

    3. So? Its not the medical degree (medical doctorate). Ph.D.s are research doctorates. There are actually a range of medical degrees, but the “ordinary” one is the M.D. (There are specialist ones for doctor of dental medicine, etc.)

    re “Sheesh…” Ease up. I didn’t accuse you of anything, I asked because you didn’t say anything in response, but keep on trying to pin things on Darwin, etc. It seemed odd to keep trying to pin this on a small number of scientists based in on very a tenuous link, while not saying a thing about a more important precedent. The whole point of my remark was that the Nazis didn’t do it “on a scientific basis”, but a historical/religious one, and one of their choosing (no-one told them to) so flatly asserting “the scientific basis for eugenics that the Nazis practiced” is a bit out of line to put it politely. In any event, you are still trying to blame “science” rather than the Nazis. The Nazis were responsible for their own actions, no-one else.

    Of course they dressed it up in pseudoscience, just as many natural remedy shysters market their products. That’s not saying science promoted or supported it either. That’s saying that the people who did promote it (the Nazis in this case) invented their own spin by stringing vaguely impressive-sounding bits together, just like the sillier claims of the natural remedy industry.

    Fair point out the mentally ill v. the Holocaust, but the mistreatment of the Jews and the other classes of people were very tightly linked, to the point that considering them separately surely isn’t sensible. The Nazis’ priority in all this was their Aryan Nation arrogance, these things are all tightly linked through that and I guess secondary to that. The rest is just their window dressing and excuses to justify their Aryan stuff I would have thought.

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  143. Fair point out the mentally ill v. the Holocaust, but the mistreatment of the Jews and the other classes of people were very tightly linked, to the point that considering them separately surely isn’t sensible. The Nazis’ priority in all this was their Aryan Nation arrogance, these things are all tightly linked through that and I guess secondary to that. The rest is just their window dressing and excuses to justify their Aryan stuff I would have thought.

    Yes, the Holocaust was a much more complicated issue than the killing of the mentally ill and infirmed. When you have a Haeckel praising the infanticide of Sparta, and Darwin and Galton saying that allowing the weak to breed was highly harmful to the human race, then you have a scientific basis for Nazi eugenics (when it comes to the mentally ill and deformed). Would Darwin and Galton have supported what the Nazi’s did – no. Would Haeckel have – quite likely. And science has nothing to say about the moral solution of the problem.

    Ok Heraclides, it’s been interesting as usual…

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  144. “then you have a scientific basis for Nazi eugenics” No, you have an excuse for it. In banging on about Haeckel, etc., you are repeating the “window dressing and excuses” of the Nazis. I wrote that as thought it might make you think twice about that you’re writing.

    Like I wrote, these are excuses, puffery, “advertising bulls**t”, the choice to use these notions were based on the Aryan idiocy and politics.

    BTW, it seems to me that writing “a scientific basis for Nazi eugenics” conflicts with writing “science has nothing to say about the moral solution of the problem” 😉

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  145. BTW, it seems to me that writing “a scientific basis for Nazi eugenics” conflicts with writing “science has nothing to say about the moral solution of the problem”

    Not at all. If Darwin ,Galton and Haeckel say that the breeding of the weak and infirmed is highly harmful to the human race – that is a scientific conclusion. How we should deal with that fact is a moral question. Science can not answer that. So Darwin and Galton may not have agreed with Hitler’s ways in dealing with the mentally ill and infirmed, but at this point their moral opinion on the matter would be no more vaild or correct than his.

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  146. But it is evidence for me. Certain evidence. I know how many teeth that one horse had. Why should your ignorance bother me at all? Or change what I know to be true?

    Yes, becaus eyou DID count the teeth! Do you have ‘original proof’ that G*d exists? I mean PROOF. Not a ‘feeling’ or ‘revelation’ I mean some mystical thing happening to YOU. If nothing of that sort happened, then you are exercising blind trust in those around you, and ancient writings.

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  147. @145:

    You’ve obviously forgotten Dale’s arguments already… 🙂 Just kidding.

    He claimed science couldn’t provide the basis for morals. If we accept this, “a scientific basis for Nazi eugenics” couldn’t be true if it were a moral thing. You then assert that it can only have a moral solution, making it a moral thing. But according to Dale you can’t have this both ways. You can take that one up with Dale 😉

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  148. @post no. 122:

    “Iapetus, talk about ignoring the context? What did I claim? That you had no “evidence” that RMs were active in ancient creatures. That RMs caused anything those millions of years ago. Now here we have living fossils (both plant and animal) that show no body change over hundreds of millions of years. So if “body change” (in the fossil record) is the evidence one needs to assume RMs at work, you don’t even have that here.”

    Sometimes I seriously wonder whether you suffer from some severe form of selective perception and/or your reading comprehension is subpar.

    In my post no. 111 I gave several arguments as to why having a handful of species that show comparatively little morphological plasticity in the fossil record is perfectly in line with the theory of evolution. Consequently, there is no need to assume that the past was in some strange way different from the present.

    Did you engage with these arguments in any serious way? Of course not. Instead, you inanely harp on about there being no “evidence” that mutations occurred. Par for the course. Which brings me to this clanger:

    “Ok, if it is so easy – show us how abstract concepts can exist apart from minds. Right here and right now.”

    I see that the stern face and deep voice are back in full swing.

    This is a prime example of why it is so terribly wearying and frankly insulting to discuss anything with you. You not only mostly fail to engage with any arguments, but furthermore pretend that nothing was ever said and just trot out the same talking points again and again and again.

    Just a few months ago I explained to you why your statement does not hold up and gave a specific counterexample. So I could just link to this discussion and be done with it. However, for the sake of other readers of this blog, who will doubtlessly be confronted with the same nonsense a few weeks down the road, I will lay it out yet again. Therefore, the following is explicitly not for your benefit, since you will ignore/forget it anyway:

    the cardinal error you and Tennant are making (well, actually you make lots of mistakes, both logically and philosophically; but I will focus on this specific one here) is that you do not fully comprehend the nature of your own propositions. This became abundantly clear when Tennant entered the debate with Steve Zara on the premise “God is a necessary precondition for reason.”. Unbeknownst to him, said premise was stillborn because in this context “necessary” means “necessary in all logically possible worlds”. Thus, all one has to do in order to refute this proposition is to give a logically viable alternative (in this case: non-theistic substance dualism).

    Likewise, asserting that abstract entities can only exist as an idea in a transcendent super-mind is equivalent to saying that they necessarily exist as an idea in a transcendent super-mind. Thus, this proposition is refuted by giving a logically viable alternative. Out of the plethora of options I can choose from, I will pick non-theistic platonism. This view, as you would know if you would not ignore/forget most everything that is/was explained to you, considers abstract entities as having a real ontological referent qua forms, which are themselves seen as non-spatiotemporal and causally inert, i.e. not “ideas” in “minds”.

    And this does not even address the question-begging, inherent premise of yours that abstract entities have an independent ontological status.

    Finally, I see that in the meantime you have opened Chapter VIII in the Creationist Canards playbook and tried to link the theory of evolution to eugenics/nazism. Can you say “A-r-g-u-m-e-n-t-u-m–a-d–c-o-n-s-e-q-u-e-n-t-i-a-m”?

    From what I hear, Isaac Newton was a condescending, insufferable jerk. Furthermore, his equations were used to compute the flightpath of the atomic bombs that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I guess that means we should reject his findings.

    P.S.: Read Kant!

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  149. Likewise, asserting that abstract entities can only exist as an idea in a transcendent super-mind is equivalent to saying that they necessarily exist as an idea in a transcendent super-mind. Thus, this proposition is refuted by giving a logically viable alternative. Out of the plethora of options I can choose from, I will pick non-theistic platonism. This view, as you would know if you would not ignore/forget most everything that is/was explained to you, considers abstract entities as having a real ontological referent qua forms, which are themselves seen as non-spatiotemporal and causally inert, i.e. not “ideas” in “minds”.

    1. Ok Iapetus, finally. Then tell me how these forms can exist apart from minds? You can assert that they exist, but how is it possible? They are outside of time and matter, as Plato said was necessary – tell me – where exactly is that?

    2. Do you personally believe that these ontological forms exist? Moral forms like justice?

    Funny, I just listened to a teaching series on Plato, this should be fun…

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  150. @post no. 149:

    “1. Ok Iapetus, finally. Then tell me how these forms can exist apart from minds? You can assert that they exist, but how is it possible? They are outside of time and matter, as Plato said was necessary – tell me – where exactly is that?”

    No James, you show how it is logically impossible for these forms to exist outside of minds. Otherwise, your proposition is untenable.

    “2. Do you personally believe that these ontological forms exist? Moral forms like justice?”

    My personal beliefs are totally irrelevant here.

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  151. No James, you show how it is logically impossible for these forms to exist outside of minds. Otherwise, your proposition is untenable.

    Well, no actually it’s on you Iapetus. You made the claim. We know that such concepts can and do exist in minds. It is up to you to show that they can exist independent of minds – you are making the claim.

    My personal beliefs are totally irrelevant here.

    Utter nonsense old friend. We both know that you don’t believe in Platonic forms. You made that clear in our debate on Bnonn’s blog. So you argue for that which you reject? And you probably don’t believe in them for many of the same reasons I don’t. So why don’t you just be honest for the sake of the readers and lurkers.

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  152. “Well, no actually it’s on you Iapetus. You made the claim. We know that such concepts can and do exist in minds. It is up to you to show that they can exist independent of minds – you are making the claim.”

    Hilarious. So you are really making an inductive argument here. Since you are so fond of accusing scientists of committing the fallacy of induction, I surely do not have to point out why that does not help you here. Actually, I will do it anyway for the sheer fun of it:

    even if it were true that abstract entities “exist” in our minds in the ontological sense and not merely as patterns of neuronal activity (which I will grant for the sake of argument despite its severe conceptual problems), to infer from this that they ultimately have to be kept in existence by a transcendent super-mind is nothing but a hypothesis which lacks any corroborating evidence whatsoever and can not be proven inductively, since induction will not reliably get you to synthetic truths.

    Consequently, since you can neither evidentially nor logically show my proposition to be false, your assertion is refuted.

    “We both know that you don’t believe in Platonic forms. You made that clear in our debate on Bnonn’s blog. So you argue for that which you reject?”

    As I said, whether or not I believe in a given proposition is totally irrelevant here. I am using non-theistic platonism to show your proposition that abstract entities are necessarily ideas in a transcendent super-mind to be untenable.

    So, can you prove my proposition logically impossible or not?

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  153. even if it were true that abstract entities “exist” in our minds in the ontological sense and not merely as patterns of neuronal activity (which I will grant for the sake of argument despite its severe conceptual problems), to infer from this that they ultimately have to be kept in existence by a transcendent super-mind is nothing but a hypothesis which lacks any corroborating evidence whatsoever and can not be proven inductively, since induction will not reliably get you to synthetic truths.

    Consequently, since you can neither evidentially nor logically show my proposition to be false, your assertion is refuted.

    Iapetus, I have not yet made an argument for a “transcendent super-mind” here. That may come later. All I’m claiming here is that abstracts do not have independent existence apart from minds.

    As I said, whether or not I believe in a given proposition is totally irrelevant here. I am using non-theistic platonism to show your proposition that abstract entities are necessarily ideas in a transcendent super-mind to be untenable.

    So, can you prove my proposition logically impossible or not?

    Iapetus, once again you have moved the goal posts. I am not arguing for a super mind here. I’m saying that these abstracts do not exist apart from minds. So, do you agree or not? And remember Platonic forms necessarily exist in a realm beyond time and matter. Do you believe such a realm exists? And if you don’t how have you offered “a logically viable alternative?”

    Again Iapetus this debate right now is about the possibility of abstracts having existence apart from a mind or minds. Please stay on topic…

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  154. @post no. 153:

    “Iapetus, I have not yet made an argument for a “transcendent super-mind” here. That may come later. All I’m claiming here is that abstracts do not have independent existence apart from minds.”

    Oh really? Strange, the above statement conflicts with this one:

    “Iapetus, the reason you won’t offer an argument for objective morals/ethics apart from God is that you know I will blow it out of the water. You can bluster all you want but that is fact…

    A simple question that destroys this notion – just show how morals, ethics, or the laws of logic or numbers for that matter,(abstracts in general), can exist apart from a mind.[…]” (Emphasis mine)

    Somehow the word “God” crept in there…
    Who do you think you are fooling? Of course your assertion is that your god “grounds” abstract entities in his mind.

    However, even if you want to backpeddle now and water your proposition down to “abstract entities exist in human minds”, it does not help you, since you can not show this proposition to be necessarily true, either. Furthermore, even if it were true, you can not go from there to “thus abstract entities are held in existence by a transcendent super-mind” through induction.

    “And remember Platonic forms necessarily exist in a realm beyond time and matter. Do you believe such a realm exists? And if you don’t how have you offered “a logically viable alternative?””

    You just do not get it. The strength of my belief in the truth of a proposition does not influence its logical viability in the slightest.

    Can you show that my proposition is logically impossible or not? If you can not, I suggest you concede.

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  155. However, even if you want to backpeddle now and water your proposition down to “abstract entities exist in human minds”, it does not help you, since you can not show this proposition to be necessarily true, either. Furthermore, even if it were true, you can not go from there to “thus abstract entities are held in existence by a transcendent super-mind” through induction.

    Iapetus, every argument comes by steps. We are still at step one. And the question is simple: how can abstracts exist apart fom minds.

    You just do not get it. The strength of my belief in the truth of a proposition does not influence its logical viability in the slightest.

    Iapetus, that is just silly. If you don’t believe it is possible for such abstracts to exist apart fom minds, then you are arguing for something you don’t believe is rationally plausible. And what weight does a logical argument have unless the premises are true, or at least possible?

    Iapetus, be honest with us all. Do you believe that abstracts can exist independently apart from a mind/minds? Why can’t you give a direct yes or no answer?

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  156. @post no. 155:

    “Iapetus, every argument comes by steps. We are still at step one. And the question is simple: how can abstracts exist apart fom minds.”

    They can exist as non-spatiotemporal, causally inert forms. Unless you could show that this is logically impossible. Which you can not.

    “Iapetus, that is just silly. If you don’t believe it is possible for such abstracts to exist apart fom minds, then you are arguing for something you don’t believe is rationally plausible. And what weight does a logical argument have unless the premises are true, or at least possible?”

    Who says that I do not believe it is possible?

    The question here is very simple: can you show that my proposition is logically impossible or not?

    You are floundering, mate. I guess the term “run out of steam” applies here.

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  157. They can exist as non-spatiotemporal, causally inert forms. Unless you could show that this is logically impossible. Which you can not.

    Ok, show how your premise is possible. I could just say that these forms exist in the mind of God – would you accept that? Can you prove it “logically” impossible?

    Who says that I do not believe it is possible?

    YOU DID ! On Bnonn’s blog. So now you believe in the objective moral forms, like Justice, of Plato? Stop playing games. Do you believe these forms exist or not!

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  158. @post no. 156:

    “Ok, show how your premise is possible. I could just say that these forms exist in the mind of God – would you accept that? Can you prove it “logically” impossible?”

    Seems like slowly you are getting it.

    No, I can not prove it is logically impossible that forms exist in the mind of your god, just like you can not prove that my proposition is logically impossible. Do you know what that means? It means that neither of us is in a position to say that his proposition is necessarily true. It also means that both of us have a hypothesis about the nature of abstract entities that can be compared for explanatory value, parsimony, corroborating evidence etc. and furthermore that any claims to exclusive validity are illusory.

    Do you agree with this now or do you want to drag this out even more?

    “YOU DID ! On Bnonn’s blog. So now you believe in the objective moral forms, like Justice, of Plato?”

    No, I did not. As I told you before, it is worthwhile to carefully read what I write.

    What I said was that considering their strange ontological status and further for epistemological reasons I consider their existence unlikely. Since I am not the one with the dogmatic, absolutist views here and tend to avoid the pitfall you have walked into, I do not make categorical statements about the logical necessity/impossibility of abstract entities as forms/ideas etc.

    As I already explained several times to you, for the purposes that I am using non-theistic platonism it is utterly irrelevant whether I personally consider it the most likely stance on abstract entities or not. It is a logically viable possibility and thus renders your proposition untenable.

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  159. As I already explained several times to you, for the purposes that I am using non-theistic platonism it is utterly irrelevant whether I personally consider it the most likely stance on abstract entities or not. It is a logically viable possibility and thus renders your proposition untenable.

    You know Iapetus, you really are quite clever. I believe you have smuggled in a completely arbitrary standard. That if I can not show your claim to be logically invalid, I must concede the point. But surely this is unreasonable, for no claim or proposition (unless obviously self-refuting) could thus be shown to be logically invalid. So let me reword my claim: Abstracts can only exist in minds. Now unless you show that my claim is logically invalid, it stands and your position is now untenable. Is that how it works old friend… : )

    What I said was that considering their strange ontological status and further for epistemological reasons I consider their existence unlikely. Since I am not the one with the dogmatic, absolutist views here and tend to avoid the pitfall you have walked into, I do not make categorical statements about the logical necessity/impossibility of abstract entities as forms/ideas etc.

    Unlikely? Then why did you fight tooth and nail, posts after post, even bringing in quotes from Mackie, to deny objective moral truth. This is not the behavior of someone who considers such things as merely unlikely.

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  160. @post no. 159:

    “You know Iapetus, you really are quite clever. I believe you have smuggled in a completely arbitrary standard. That if I can not show your claim to be logically invalid, I must concede the point. But surely this is unreasonable, for no claim or proposition (unless obviously self-refuting) could thus be shown to be logically invalid.”

    EXACTLY.

    Welcome to the world of critical thinking. In this world, absolutist statements have no place and we make no pretensions of being in possession of “The Truth” while everyone else is completely wrong. We know and acknowledge that this kind of ultimate certainty is illusory.

    So yes, you must concede the point if your assertion is “Abstract entities necessarily exist in minds” and you can not show why my alternative is logically impossible. Which you can not do.

    The standard I am employing here is not in the slightest arbitrary, it is simply a consequence of your absolutist assertion. If you want to amend said assertion to “I believe that abstract entities exist as ideas in a transcendent super-mind and give the following arguments X,Y,Z in support of this hypothesis”, we have no problems. However, this would mean that we discuss and compare different hypotheses with regards to explanatory value, parsimony, corroborating evidence etc. and that you refrain from inane statements like this:

    “Iapetus, the reason you won’t offer an argument for objective morals/ethics apart from God is that you know I will blow it out of the water. You can bluster all you want but that is fact…”

    The same line of reasoning applies mutatis mutandis to the issue of different objectivist moral systems, i.e. you are in no position whatsoever to label any non-theistic moral system prima facie invalid unless you could show that it is logically impossible. Which you can not do.

    So go and read Kant.

    “So let me reword my claim: Abstracts can only exist in minds. Now unless you show that my claim is logically invalid, it stands and your position is now untenable.”

    This would only be a rewording if you see it as a tentative, factual hypothesis which makes no pretensions to be necessarily true and simultaneously claims that all other positions are necessarily false.

    So in order to corroborate this hypothesis, you would have to show/argue inter alia that “ideas” have an independent ontological referent. The counterargument to this would be the competing hypothesis that “ideas” are simply neural activation patterns within our brains. And what do you know, suddenly we have entered a critical dialogue where nobody is making untenable absolutist statements anymore.

    “Unlikely? Then why did you fight tooth and nail, posts after post, even bringing in quotes from Mackie, to deny objective moral truth. This is not the behavior of someone who considers such things as merely unlikely.”

    It is the behaviour of someone who considers the existence of objective moral propositions to be unlikely for very good reasons, but acknowledges at the same time that ultimate certainty in this question, as in almost every question, is unattainable unless it is self-fabricated.

    It is the behaviour of someone who takes into account the fallible nature of our cognitive faculties and always allows for the possibility that he might be mistaken.

    It is a behaviour that is the polar opposite of the theistic mindset of dogmatic, absolutist certainty that erroneously believes to be in possession of eternal, ultimate truths which can no longer be doubted.

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  161. Welcome to the world of critical thinking. In this world, absolutist statements have no place and we make no pretensions of being in possession of “The Truth” while everyone else is completely wrong. We know and acknowledge that this kind of ultimate certainty is illusory.

    So yes, you must concede the point if your assertion is “Abstract entities necessarily exist in minds” and you can not show why my alternative is logically impossible. Which you can not do.

    Well no, that is a double standard. You are asserting that if I can not logically invalidate your claim about forms, then my point fails. But you can not logically invalidate my claim. You can not prove that my “absolute” claim is logically impossible. So your point fails, by your own standard. So you can not make the “absolute” claim that my position is untenable.

    It is the behaviour of someone who considers the existence of objective moral propositions to be unlikely for very good reasons, but acknowledges at the same time that ultimate certainty in this question, as in almost every question, is unattainable unless it is self-fabricated.

    It is the behaviour of someone who takes into account the fallible nature of our cognitive faculties and always allows for the possibility that he might be mistaken.

    No this is a behavior of someone who thinks he is right. Absolutely right. The only difference between you and me is that I will admit to being a “absolutist” you hide behind the guise of objectivity and indifference. I guess that is seen as a virtue in our politically correct society…

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  162. A couple more questions Iapetus:

    Welcome to the world of critical thinking. In this world, absolutist statements have no place and we make no pretensions of being in possession of “The Truth” while everyone else is completely wrong. We know and acknowledge that this kind of ultimate certainty is illusory.

    Is this statement absolute? Certain?

    So yes, you must concede the point if your assertion is “Abstract entities necessarily exist in minds” and you can not show why my alternative is logically impossible. Which you can not do.

    How about this one?

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  163. @post no. 161:

    “Well no, that is a double standard. You are asserting that if I can not logically invalidate your claim about forms, then my point fails. But you can not logically invalidate my claim. You can not prove that my “absolute” claim is logically impossible. So your point fails, by your own standard. So you can not make the “absolute” claim that my position is untenable.”

    Don’t be silly.

    You are making a claim that something is “necessary in all logically possible worlds”. This claim is refuted by showing a logically possible alternative.

    This issue is entirely unrelated to the question whether your position is itself logically possible or not. Which it is. Which is why I do not make the claim that it is not or, to say the same thing in other words, that my position is necessarily true and yours necessarily false.

    “No this is a behavior of someone who thinks he is right. Absolutely right. The only difference between you and me is that I will admit to being a “absolutist” you hide behind the guise of objectivity and indifference. I guess that is seen as a virtue in our politically correct society…”

    The fact that you are incapable of thinking outside your absolutist mindset is not my problem.

    I consider myself to be a sceptical fallibilist and a critical rationalist. You can look these terms up to see what this position entails and that it is as far from your above statement as it can possibly get.

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  164. @post no. 162:

    “Is this statement absolute? Certain?”

    No, you can falsify it by showing how ultimate certainty is possible. Go ahead.

    “How about this one?”

    You can falsify it by showing non-theistic platonism to be logically impossible. Go ahead.

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  165. You are making a claim that something is “necessary in all logically possible worlds”. This claim is refuted by showing a logically possible alternative.

    This issue is entirely unrelated to the question whether your position is itself logically possible or not. Which it is. Which is why I do not make the claim that it is not or, to say the same thing in other words, that my position is necessarily true and yours necessarily false.

    No, I never brought up “possible worlds.” This was not your original standard. You original standard was that if I could not “logically” invalidate your claim, that would make my claim moot. But if I apply your standard to my recent claim, then your point is moot. And around we go. So logical viability can not be the standard, and if that is the case then you have said nothing against my position.

    I consider myself to be a sceptical fallibilist and a critical rationalist.

    Are you certain about this or uncertain?

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  166. “Is this statement absolute? Certain?”

    No, you can falsify it by showing how ultimate certainty is possible. Go ahead.

    “How about this one?”

    You can falsify it by showing non-theistic platonism to be logically impossible. Go ahead.

    Are you certain of this criterion for falsification or uncertain?

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  167. @post no. 165:

    “No, I never brought up “possible worlds.” This was not your original standard. You original standard was that if I could not “logically” invalidate your claim, that would make my claim moot. But if I apply your standard to my recent claim, then your point is moot. And around we go. So logical viability can not be the standard, and if that is the case then you have said nothing against my position.”

    Good grief. Discussing anything with you is perfect if one wants to have an inkling of how Sisyphus must have felt when pushing that stone.

    Your assertion was that abstract entities can only exist in minds (human or divine). You furthermore asserted that any other option is prima facie impossible. This is equivalent to saying that abstract entities necessarily exist in minds (necessity in the logical sense of “being necessary in all logically possible words”), which is refuted because other logically possible alternatives exist. If this is not what you are claiming and do not want to be held to this standard, you have to phrase it differently.

    Thus, if you want to water this down and say that while other options might be logically and factually possible, your position is nonetheless the best alternative with regards to explanatory value, parsimony, corroborating evidence etc., then this is fine. However, it follows that you have to forfeit any claim to absolute certainty about the correctness of your hypothesis and consequently are in no position to dismiss any alternatives right from the start.

    “Are you certain about this or uncertain?”

    As with everything in life, I allow for the possibility that I am mistaken. So if you have convincing arguments/evidence, I might even become a Calvinist. However, I have to add that your performance thusfar has not made much headway in this regard. Quite the contrary, I would say.

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  168. @post no. 166:

    “Are you certain of this criterion for falsification or uncertain?”

    Which criterion?

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  169. Iapetus, do you agree or disagree?

    Moral order according to Immanuel Kant:

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

    1.The summum bonum (Highest Good) is where moral virtue and happiness coincide.

    2.We are rationally obliged to attain the summum bonum.

    3.What we are obliged to attain, it must be possible for us to attain.

    4.If there is no god or afterlife, it is not possible to attain the summum bonum.
    God (or the afterlife) must exist.

    Immanuel Kant developed his own version of the argument from morality.Premises (3.1) and (3.2) reflect Immanuel Kant’s belief that behaving morally should lead to happiness. Premise (3.3) tells us that “ought implies can”. It cannot be true that we ought to seek an end if there is no chance of our attaining it. Premise (3.4) points to the fact that the world as it appears to us is governed by morally blind causes. These causes give no hope whatsoever that pursuit of moral virtue will lead to happiness. They do not even give hope that we can become morally virtuous. Agency is beset by weaknesses that make the attainment of virtue — in the absence of external aid — seem impossible. The being postulated in (3.5) has omniscience and omnipotence combined with perfect goodness. Thus it will ensure that the pursuit of a virtuous state is possible through external aid (as in grace) and will promise an immortality where the moral journey can be completed. It will also ensure that in the long run happiness will result from virtue. Its existence would mean that there is a perfect moral causality at work in the world.

    Also, do you agree with his argument that God necessarily exists?

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  170. “Are you certain about this or uncertain?”

    As with everything in life, I allow for the possibility that I am mistaken. So if you have convincing arguments/evidence, I might even become a Calvinist. However, I have to add that your performance thusfar has not made much headway in this regard. Quite the contrary, I would say.

    No, I just wanted to know. So you are not certain if you are a sceptical fallibilist and a critical rationalist.

    “Are you certain of this criterion for falsification or uncertain?”

    Which criterion?

    Any or all criterion for falsification you care to offer. Like whether your claim is loigically falsifiabe or not. Are you certain about these standards of falsification?

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  171. which is refuted because other logically possible alternatives exist.

    Are you certain that these possible alternatives exist?

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  172. @post no. 169:

    So you have finally read up on Kant. I would not have thought it possible, although I note that you have apparently done so solely to search for ammunition in an argument. Better than nothing, I suppose.

    Did you understand Kant’s moral system? Specifically, did you understand the structure and justification of his non-theistic, but nonetheless objectivist stance?

    Regarding the question of god in his philosophy:

    Kant postulated god’s existence because this was the only way he saw to reconcile the objective moral law he presupposes with the human pursuit of beatitude. To him, god’s existence is the necessary prerequisite for the possibility to harmonize this moral law, which categorically demands moral behaviour, and said pursuit, i.e. to guarantee the, in his view, necessary connection between moral behaviour and the corresponding human beatitude.

    Of course, there are obivous weak points in this argumentation. I do not have the time or energy to elaborate on all of them, so here are just two:

    For one, the postulate of a categorical moral law can be doubted when taking into account e.g. changing moral opinions through history.

    Second, the assumption that the human pursuit of beatitude must necessarily be rewarded is nothing but an unproven postulate. We have no reason to assume that it is realistic, i.e. that the structure of reality is conducive to it.

    So, according to Kant’s deduction, god would exist necessarily if his axioms/postulates are true. However, there are serious objections to a number of them. Thus, we can not say that his deduction is valid beyond reasonable doubt. Quite the contrary.

    @posts no. 170&171:

    What are these questions supposed to show? That the claim of the impossibility of ultimate certainty and justification is self-refuting? That it will result in scepticism? You would be wrong on both counts.

    Fallibilism/critical rationalism does neither deny the possibility of rational/logical arguments nor that a person holding to such a view can have strong convictions. It simply acknowledges the fact that human cognitive capabilities are fallible and that the demand for an ultimate justification is utopian. Thus we are called on to constantly test and criticize our convictions and to be ready to amend them if they do not stand up.

    Unless you can show how an ultimate, utterly certain justification in any field of human problem solving could be attained, you are in the same boat.

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  173. So you have finally read up on Kant. I would not have thought it possible, although I note that you have apparently done so solely to search for ammunition in an argument. Better than nothing, I suppose.

    Actually I have read his categorical imperative, about duty. This is where he makes the claim of moral objectivity. But that was many years ago. So I found it on line and re-read it this past week. And I still do not see how duty is an objective moral good, or why we would have an obligation to said duty.

    What are these questions supposed to show? That the claim of the impossibility of ultimate certainty and justification is self-refuting? That it will result in scepticism? You would be wrong on both counts.

    Fallibilism/critical rationalism does neither deny the possibility of rational/logical arguments nor that a person holding to such a view can have strong convictions. It simply acknowledges the fact that human cognitive capabilities are fallible and that the demand for an ultimate justification is utopian. Thus we are called on to constantly test and criticize our convictions and to be ready to amend them if they do not stand up.

    If there is no certainly, no ultimate justification. Then that holds true for every one of your statements, and your very criterion for falsification. Even the standards for testing claims are suspect. Nothing escapes…

    Unless you can show how an ultimate, utterly certain justification in any field of human problem solving could be attained, you are in the same boat.

    Well no, I’m a Christian. For instance: “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth.” That would be a absolute truth…

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  174. “Actually I have read his categorical imperative, about duty. This is where he makes the claim of moral objectivity. But that was many years ago. So I found it on line and re-read it this past week. And I still do not see how duty is an objective moral good, or why we would have an obligation to said duty.”

    I do not know whether you read Kant’s original works “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals” and “Critique of Practical Reason” or just a short summary. The latter might be insufficient since it can not properly convey his argumentation (let alone his beautiful prose, although it will probably suffer anyway if you read an English translation). Neither am I capable and willing to explain his philosophy in this setting, so some general remarks have to suffice:

    Kant was a thinker in the tradition of the Enlightenment and therefore strongly believed in the autonomy and freedom of human beings as well as in the power of reason to explain, structure and organize our life. He tried to map out the possibilites and boundaries of our reasoning capabilities in his “Critique of Pure Reason”, which I will not go into here.

    Suffice to say, he came to the conclusion that our reason is incapable of conclusively deciding on the veracity of “transcendent” matters like the existence of gods, the soul etc., i.e. we principally can not know whether these things exist or not. Consequently, any attempt to base knowledge, morality or anything else on these transcendent things is futile because we can not be sure of their existence in the first place.

    What we can be sure of, OTOH, is the fact that we are rational beings with an a priori certain moral sense. Said moral sense is not and indeed does not need to be “grounded” or further justified, since it is a brute fact of our reason (and indeed of any reasonable, non-human being). This moral sense is absolute, certain and objective, i.e. not dependent on conventions, will, desires etc. and commands us to act in a morally correct way. It is his famous “categorical imperative”.

    Now, this moral system, despite having its weaknesses and points of critique, is objectivist without recourse to a deity. It is totally autonomous. I suggest you try and understand it, because you will then realize how facile your earlier assertions about god being necessary for morality are.

    “If there is no certainly, no ultimate justification. Then that holds true for every one of your statements, and your very criterion for falsification. Even the standards for testing claims are suspect. Nothing escapes…”

    Indeed, that is the point of a general fallibilism. However, this does not deny the possibility of making true statements or, more generally, the concept of “truth” in the sense of an accurate description of certain parts of reality. What it does deny is the possibility of ultimate certainty that a statement is true, or in other words, that we can recognize a statement as undoubtedly true, i.e. the decidability of truth.

    “Well no, I’m a Christian. For instance: “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth.” That would be a absolute truth…”

    No, that is merely an assertion. How do you justify the claim that it is an absolute, indubitable truth?

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  175. What we can be sure of, OTOH, is the fact that we are rational beings with an a priori certain moral sense. Said moral sense is not and indeed does not need to be “grounded” or further justified, since it is a brute fact of our reason (and indeed of any reasonable, non-human being). This moral sense is absolute, certain and objective, i.e. not dependent on conventions, will, desires etc. and commands us to act in a morally correct way. It is his famous “categorical imperative”.

    Now, this moral system, despite having its weaknesses and points of critique, is objectivist without recourse to a deity. It is totally autonomous. I suggest you try and understand it, because you will then realize how facile your earlier assertions about god being necessary for morality are.

    Iapetus, but that isn’t just an assertion on Kant’s part. Certainly you can assert that our obligation to duty is certain and objective, but showing that, that is the case is a different story. How does this objective moral sense obligate us? And why do people so often ignore it? And how would it be a priori? Prior to humankind? The individual? Where did it come from?

    indeed, that is the point of a general fallibilism. However, this does not deny the possibility of making true statements or, more generally, the concept of “truth” in the sense of an accurate description of certain parts of reality. What it does deny is the possibility of ultimate certainty that a statement is true, or in other words, that we can recognize a statement as undoubtedly true, i.e. the decidability of truth.

    Why does it deny ultimate certainty? Is that belief ultimately certain, or uncertain? Do you deny the ultimate certainty of the laws of logic? What would that do to our discussions and human rationality? How about the laws of math? What would that do to science?

    No, that is merely an assertion. How do you justify the claim that it is an absolute, indubitable truth?

    No more of an assertion than Kant’s moral duty being objective. ; ) But since it is Revelation is it absolute.

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  176. @post no. 175:

    “Certainly you can assert that our obligation to duty is certain and objective, but showing that, that is the case is a different story.”

    Just like asserting that morality is certain and objective because it is grounded in a god. However, Kant supplies arguments for his stance. When you have read them, you can critique them.

    “How does this objective moral sense obligate us? And why do people so often ignore it?”

    It obligates us because we are rational beings. That does not mean that people can not ignore it, just like they can ignore divine moral commands.

    “And how would it be a priori? Prior to humankind? The individual? Where did it come from?”

    Our moral sense is a priori certain, i.e. it is not based on sense experience, but purely on our reason. It is a fact of our reason just like our ability to detect causality, space and time.

    As I said, I will not lay out Kant’s philosophy here. Go and read his works.

    “Why does it deny ultimate certainty?”

    Because in order to achieve ultimate certainty, you would have to provide an ultimate justification. There are good reasons to think that this is utopian. Look up the catchword “Münchhausen-Trilemma”.

    “Is that belief ultimately certain, or uncertain?”

    As I said, it would be shown false if you could provide an ultimate justification for a given proposition.

    “Do you deny the ultimate certainty of the laws of logic?”

    No, what I deny is that we can achieve ultimate certainty about the truth of the laws of logic, since this would require to justify them by a meta-logical theory. Good luck with that.

    “What would that do to our discussions and human rationality?”

    It would mean that certain, indubitable knowledge can not be attained and that every proposition must be seen as a tentative hypothesis which can be compared to competing ones to solve a given problem.

    “How about the laws of math? What would that do to science?”

    See above.

    “But since it is Revelation is it absolute.”

    Why?

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  177. “Why does it deny ultimate certainty?”

    Because in order to achieve ultimate certainty, you would have to provide an ultimate justification. There are good reasons to think that this is utopian. Look up the catchword “Münchhausen-Trilemma”.

    “Is that belief ultimately certain, or uncertain?”

    As I said, it would be shown false if you could provide an ultimate justification for a given proposition.

    Iapetus your position does not seem reasonable. Is your claim that we can not know anything with ultimate certainty, ultimate certain? If it is, then the position is sef-refuting. If your claim is not ultimately certain, then it could just as well be false. In that case the claim is no more than an assertion.

    Why?

    Because God would be the ultimate justification for any proposition that He related or communicated. He is in a position to know, since He knows all things.

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  178. @post no. 177:

    “Iapetus your position does not seem reasonable. Is your claim that we can not know anything with ultimate certainty, ultimate certain? If it is, then the position is sef-refuting. If your claim is not ultimately certain, then it could just as well be false. In that case the claim is no more than an assertion.”

    That is exactly what I said.

    The claim that ultimate certainty is not achievable is a hypothesis which is supported by arguments and not deemed to be absolutely certain. If you can show a proposition whose truth is ultimately certain, this hypothesis is falsified. Can you do that?

    “Because God would be the ultimate justification for any proposition that He related or communicated. He is in a position to know, since He knows all things.”

    This is a good example for one of the horns of the Münchhausen-Trilemma, namely the suspension of the chain of justifications via recourse to a dogma. You arbitrarily terminate the justification procedure at a certain point by positing a conviction which can not be further justified itself, but is meant to justify everything else. This automatically invalidates any claim to ultimate certainty. After all, how would you justify that god knows everything if I were to doubt this proposition?

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  179. The claim that ultimate certainty is not achievable is a hypothesis which is supported by arguments and not deemed to be absolutely certain. If you can show a proposition whose truth is ultimately certain, this hypothesis is falsified. Can you do that?

    And you can not show the claim to be true. Is it not just an assertion? Of course there is the negative argument – if the laws of logic are not ultimately certain then all our reasoning becomes suspect. How does that NOT lead to skepticism? I mean two contrary conclusions could be equally true.

    This is a good example for one of the horns of the Münchhausen-Trilemma, namely the suspension of the chain of justifications via recourse to a dogma. You arbitrarily terminate the justification procedure at a certain point by positing a conviction which can not be further justified itself, but is meant to justify everything else. This automatically invalidates any claim to ultimate certainty. After all, how would you justify that god knows everything if I were to doubt this proposition?

    I’m not sure if this line of reasoning means anything, or has any merit. If God exists then He certainly would be in a position to justify any communicated proposition, since He would know all things. And how would your doubt bear on the truth or falseness of this claim?

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  180. @179 If God exists, then he is surely in a position to remove all doubt about his existence also. All it would take is a little bit of writing in the sky with stars, or maybe a wee signature in the DNA of all creatures. Hell, if the bible was encoded in the DNA of humans, I would take it a little bit more seriously.

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  181. @179 If God exists, then he is surely in a position to remove all doubt about his existence also. All it would take is a little bit of writing in the sky with stars, or maybe a wee signature in the DNA of all creatures. Hell, if the bible was encoded in the DNA of humans, I would take it a little bit more seriously.

    His existence is clear as a bell Nick. Creation proves a Creator…Why don’t you see that?

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  182. @181. Actually, if god existed, I would be more than a little pissed off with him.

    Imagine how sick you would have to be to construct a universe that seems to be very knowable by scientific methods, then evolve some Humans with strong instincts of curiosity, and then reward with eternal heaven the people that blindly believe (often in the face of directly contradictory evidence), the stories in the bible, while punishing the people who have the temerity to follow all the evidence of the universe with the eternal fires of hell.

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  183. Imagine how sick you would have to be to construct a universe that seems to be very knowable by scientific methods, then evolve some Humans with strong instincts of curiosity, and then reward with eternal heaven the people that blindly believe (often in the face of directly contradictory evidence), the stories in the bible, while punishing the people who have the temerity to follow all the evidence of the universe with the eternal fires of hell.

    Yes, He is quite a guy, gota love Him… But again, you are not following the evidence. Because creation proves a Creator…

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  184. @post no. 179:

    “And you can not show the claim to be true. Is it not just an assertion?”

    No, it is a hypothesis with supporting arguments. An assertion would be a statement without the latter.

    “Of course there is the negative argument – if the laws of logic are not ultimately certain then all our reasoning becomes suspect. How does that NOT lead to skepticism? I mean two contrary conclusions could be equally true.”

    This is not an argument for an ultimate justification of logic, merely an appeal to consequences. Unless you can provide the former, we will have to live with this uncertainty.

    Scepticism holds that the pursuit of knowledge is entirely futile and should therefore be abandoned.

    In contrast, critical rationalism retains the idea of truth and the possibility to achieve it, but denies the ability to ever reach certainty about it. Thus, we should think in alternatives, should always be open to amend our stance when new knowledge/insights/ideas come along and see whether they might solve the problem better. In other words, the principle of sufficient reason, which was the basis of classical rationalism and empiricism, is replaced by the principle of critical assessment.

    “I’m not sure if this line of reasoning means anything, or has any merit.”

    Then you have never thought about the problem of justification, which is the central problem of epistemology.

    “If God exists then He certainly would be in a position to justify any communicated proposition, since He would know all things.”

    This is what you assert. However, if it is to serve as the basis for an ultimate justification, you have to justify it. Otherwise, your claim is merely a dogma and thus forfeit. Again, how do you justify this proposition if I doubt that god knows everything?

    “And how would your doubt bear on the truth or falseness of this claim?”

    The truth or falseness of the claim is not the issue. The issue is how to achieve ultimate certainty of its truth.

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  185. This is not an argument for an ultimate justification of logic, merely an appeal to consequences. Unless you can provide the former, we will have to live with this uncertainty.

    But living with this uncertainty means that contrary conclusion could both be true. How do you know that any of your arguments here are rational?

    Then you have never thought about the problem of justification, which is the central problem of epistemology.

    Sure, as much as any layman who is at least semi intrested in these things. For instance, you refered to the Münchhausen-Trilemma. How do you show that the trilemma is valid without being impaled on one of the horns yourself?

    However, if it is to serve as the basis for an ultimate justification, you have to justify it. Otherwise, your claim is merely a dogma and thus forfeit. Again, how do you justify this proposition if I doubt that god knows everything?

    Jutification has to stop somewhere or you are left with infinite regression. Are you arguing for infinite regression? If not infinite regression, then what?

    The truth or falseness of the claim is not the issue. The issue is how to achieve ultimate certainty of its truth.

    Iapetus, if God did speak then it is absolute. He has all knowledge. There is nothing beyond. No further justification would be needed – why would it?

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  186. @post no. 185:

    “But living with this uncertainty means that contrary conclusion could both be true. How do you know that any of your arguments here are rational?”

    If by “know” you mean “prove with absolute certainty”, then neither I nor you can do that.

    Regarding core logical principles like e.g. the law of non-contradiction, we assume that they are valid and mutually agree to adhere to them. Indeed, the principle of falsification as I can conceive of it presupposes its validity. But the fact that neither I nor anyone else can conceive of an alternative is not in any sense an ultimate justification. It merely shows the current limits of our imagination and cognitive capabilities.

    Again, if you would want to provide such an ultimate justification, you would have to devise a meta-logical theory which can be used to derive our logical laws from. I have no idea how such a framework should look like. However, even if you could pull off such an awesome feat, we are stuck with the same problem again since this meta-logical theory would have to be justified, as well.

    “Sure, as much as any layman who is at least semi intrested in these things. For instance, you refered to the Münchhausen-Trilemma. How do you show that the trilemma is valid without being impaled on one of the horns yourself?”

    Once again, if by “show” you mean “prove with ultimate certainty”, then this is not possible. The trilemma is a hypothesis which does not make any claim to absolute certainty. If you can show how an ultimate justification can be achieved, said hypothesis would have to be discarded.

    “Jutification has to stop somewhere or you are left with infinite regression. Are you arguing for infinite regression? If not infinite regression, then what?”

    The classical epistemological model was built on the assumption that it is possible to combine truth and certainty, i.e. that we can find true statements and simultaneously recognize them as true with absolute certainty. It was held that this could be achieved by finding an unassailable, indubitable point of reference that was utterly certain and that could act as the platform on which to base our knowledge. Every true proposition could then be identified without error, since it could be justified by tracing it back to this unassailable starting point. This is called the principle of sufficient reason. Examples are rationalism and empiricism, where reason or sense experience respectively were held to be this starting point.

    The problem with this approach is that it will lead into the mentioned Münchhausen-Trilemma and thus does not achieve what it was set out to do.

    A possible escape from this awkward situation is to give up the notion that truth and certainty can be combined. If we accept that all our knowledge is tentative and always open to change and improvement, we can replace the principle of sufficient reason with the principle of critical assessment. According to this model, every proposition is open to criticism and potentially replaceable if and when a superior alternative arises, thus circumventing the trilemma.

    “Iapetus, if God did speak then it is absolute. He has all knowledge. There is nothing beyond. No further justification would be needed – why would it?”

    I know that theists are so used to terminating the justification regress at this point that they can not even imagine further questions.

    However, do you recognize the fact that you are unable to give a justification for the proposition that god has all knowledge? You simply assert it in order to terminate the regress. Do you understand how this automatically invalidates any claim to ultimate certainty?

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  187. A possible escape from this awkward situation is to give up the notion that truth and certainty can be combined. If we accept that all our knowledge is tentative and always open to change and improvement, we can replace the principle of sufficient reason with the principle of critical assessment. According to this model, every proposition is open to criticism and potentially replaceable if and when a superior alternative arises, thus circumventing the trilemma.

    Even if all knowledge is tentative, I don’t see why you get to escape a infinite regression of prior justifications for a claim. Or future justifications ad infinitum, just because you tag the claim with “tentative?”

    Second, how do you, by your theory of knowledge, avoid a vicious circle of reasoning? How do you know that your sense experience of the world actually corresponds to reality – except by using your sense experience?

    However, do you recognize the fact that you are unable to give a justification for the proposition that god has all knowledge? You simply assert it in order to terminate the regress. Do you understand how this automatically invalidates any claim to ultimate certainty?

    No, I do not see how that would invalidate God’s certain knowledge at all. Now as far as justification. First, the Christian God is a Person, not a hypothesis. So we are on different grounds, personal grounds. So if I tell you, for instance, what my faviorite meal is, the justification begins and ends with me. No need to go any further and the truth is established.

    Likewise, if God actually did claim to have all knowledge that claim would begin and end with Him. If not Iapetus, where would He go to justify Himself according to your standard? How exactly would He do that?

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  188. “However, do you recognize the fact that you are unable to give a justification for the proposition that god has all knowledge? You simply assert it in order to terminate the regress.”

    So James just carries on asserting…

    “First, the Christian God is a Person, not a hypothesis.”

    Two assertions here. One that there is a god, and second, the very nature of god.
    Assertion and an assertion.

    “So if I tell you, for instance, what my faviorite meal is, the justification begins and ends with me. No need to go any further and the truth is established.”

    No, you’re just asserting the “truth” is established.
    The rest of us are just shaking our head in dismay.

    “Likewise, if God actually did claim to have all knowledge that claim would begin and end with Him. If not Iapetus, where would He go to justify Himself according to your standard? How exactly would He do that?”

    When was the last time you ate Italian food?

    “Likewise, if the Flying Spaghetti Monster actually did claim to have all knowledge that claim would begin and end with Him. If not Iapetus, where would The Flying Spaghetti Monster go to justify It’s meatballs according to your standard? How exactly would the Noodly One do that?”

    (insert archy stare here)

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  189. @post no. 187:

    “Even if all knowledge is tentative, I don’t see why you get to escape a infinite regression of prior justifications for a claim. Or future justifications ad infinitum, just because you tag the claim with “tentative?”

    The trilemma only arises if I make the claim that any proposition I hold is utterly certain. When the principle of sufficient reason is discarded, this claim can no longer be made. I can limit myself to giving arguments in support of hypotheses while abstaining from any claim to ultimate certainty. See my post no.186.

    “Second, how do you, by your theory of knowledge, avoid a vicious circle of reasoning? How do you know that your sense experience of the world actually corresponds to reality – except by using your sense experience?”

    You continuously use words like “know” or “show” in the sense of “prove with ultimate certainty”. The whole point of my stance is that this is a utopian endeavour.

    The proposition that my sense exerience is capable of mapping an external reality roughly in the correct way is a hypothesis for which we can collect corroborating evidence.

    Btw, you are in the same boat regarding this problem. You may want to bring up a transcendental justification for it, but this will not get you off the horns of the trilemma.

    “No, I do not see how that would invalidate God’s certain knowledge at all. Now as far as justification. First, the Christian God is a Person, not a hypothesis. So we are on different grounds, personal grounds.”

    Well, the claim of his existence definitely is a hypothesis.

    But even leaving that aside, it does not change the nature of the problem. How do you justify the claim that god knows everything?

    “So if I tell you, for instance, what my faviorite meal is, the justification begins and ends with me. No need to go any further and the truth is established.”

    Not at all. Why should I believe you? What justification can you give for the truth of your statement?

    If I tell you that I can fly through sheer willpower, would you say that the justification for this claim begins and ends with me, that there is no need to go any further and that its truth is established?

    “Likewise, if God actually did claim to have all knowledge that claim would begin and end with Him.”

    God can claim whatever he likes, that does not guarantee an ultimate certainty concerning the correctness of this claim. What is the justification that would lead us to believe said claim?

    “If not Iapetus, where would He go to justify Himself according to your standard? How exactly would He do that?”

    This is not my problem, it is god’s problem. And the problem of those who want to use him as an ultimate justification.

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  190. The proposition that my sense exerience is capable of mapping an external reality roughly in the correct way is a hypothesis for which we can collect corroborating evidence.

    Btw, you are in the same boat regarding this problem. You may want to bring up a transcendental justification for it, but this will not get you off the horns of the trilemma.

    But neither you or I can escape this vicious circle. Your “corroborating evidence” is evaluated through sense experience. So, my point is that you are willing to accept circular reasoning here, at this most critical point, and accept it as valid, but not in other araes. That seems quite arbitrary…

    I have another question, you spoke of testing our hypothesis (is that plural?). Are these tests fallible or infallible? How would one know?

    Not at all. Why should I believe you? What justification can you give for the truth of your statement?

    Then falsify my claim. The point is, this is not how the real world works. Most memories can not be falsified or demostrated but they are never the less “true.” How do we apply this theory (the requirement to falsify) to things like justice, love, morality? I know Popper tried, but from what I understand he didn’t get to far.

    God can claim whatever he likes, that does not guarantee an ultimate certainty concerning the correctness of this claim. What is the justification that would lead us to believe said claim?

    Again, why would He need justification for the claim to be “true?” Do you have personal character traits or preferences Iapetus? Are true whether or not they can be falsified or justified by a string prior justifications?

    This is not my problem, it is god’s problem. And the problem of those who want to use him as an ultimate justification.

    I see no problem at all…

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  191. @post no. 190:

    “But neither you or I can escape this vicious circle. Your “corroborating evidence” is evaluated through sense experience. So, my point is that you are willing to accept circular reasoning here, at this most critical point, and accept it as valid, but not in other araes. That seems quite arbitrary…”

    I make no claims as to ultimate certainty.

    Try to wrap your head around this concept.

    Metaphysical positions like realism/idealism/solipsism etc. can never be coclusively proven or disproven by empirical evidence or otherwise, only corroborated and compared with each other.

    For instance, a solipsist sits in an impenetrable castle since nothing can prove his position wrong. However, if my consciousness was all that exists, I would expect to be able to influence my illusory sense perception by my will. This does not seem to be the case, so solipsism is not corroborated in this regard. Thus its confidence value decreases, while the one of those models that posit an independent, external world increases.

    “I have another question, you spoke of testing our hypothesis (is that plural?). Are these tests fallible or infallible? How would one know?”

    Unless you can come up with a criterion that is utterly certain, the same uncertainty applies to our testing methods, which presuppose certain metaphysical, cognitive, methodological etc. principles. However, since we can not question everything at once, we have to take it piecemeal and conditionally take different propositions as valid while testing others.

    “Then falsify my claim.”

    I do not have to. If you can not give an ultimate justification for your claim, it is possible that it is false. Thus we can not be utterly certain about its correctness.

    “The point is, this is not how the real world works. Most memories can not be falsified or demostrated but they are never the less “true.””

    They might well be, but we have no ultimate certainty that they are.

    “How do we apply this theory (the requirement to falsify) to things like justice, love, morality? I know Popper tried, but from what I understand he didn’t get to far.”

    I do not follow what you are trying to say here.

    “Again, why would He need justification for the claim to be “true?” Do you have personal character traits or preferences Iapetus? Are true whether or not they can be falsified or justified by a string prior justifications?”

    You do not get it.

    As I already explained various times, the issue is not whether there exist true claims or not. The issue is that we can not be utterly certain whether a particular claim or proposition fulfills this requirement unless we could come up with an ultimate justification for it.

    “I see no problem at all…”

    Then show how god as an ultimate justification can be justified.

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  192. “But neither you or I can escape this vicious circle. Your “corroborating evidence” is evaluated through sense experience. So, my point is that you are willing to accept circular reasoning here, at this most critical point, and accept it as valid, but not in other araes. That seems quite arbitrary…”

    I make no claims as to ultimate certainty.

    Try to wrap your head around this concept.

    Metaphysical positions like realism/idealism/solipsism etc. can never be coclusively proven or disproven by empirical evidence or otherwise, only corroborated and compared with each other.

    For instance, a solipsist sits in an impenetrable castle since nothing can prove his position wrong. However, if my consciousness was all that exists, I would expect to be able to influence my illusory sense perception by my will. This does not seem to be the case, so solipsism is not corroborated in this regard. Thus its confidence value decreases, while the one of those models that posit an independent, external world increases.

    I understand this Iapetus , but that is not the point. We are both impaled on one of the horns of the Münchhausen-Trilemma. Circularity, and it is a vicious circle if there ever was one. And the theory of critical rationalism can not escape it since it depends (though not totally) on sense experience. And claiming uncertainty does not help you. You still must ground all your arguments, facts about the world, testing, etc… on this circular assumption. Circularity is your starting point. Yet you consider it valid to reason from that point. “Uncertainty” is not a get out of jail free card for you old friend.

    So why should I or you consider other circular arguments invalid? On what grounds? And if you accept a circular argument as valid, then why not dogma?

    Unless you can come up with a criterion that is utterly certain, the same uncertainty applies to our testing methods, which presuppose certain metaphysical, cognitive, methodological etc. principles. However, since we can not question everything at once, we have to take it piecemeal and conditionally take different propositions as valid while testing others.

    So you can not even be certain of the test you use. I suppose we can not even be certain if we are even asking the right questions. Didn’t Russell call critical rationalism a theory of despair?

    As I already explained various times, the issue is not whether there exist true claims or not. The issue is that we can not be utterly certain whether a particular claim or proposition fulfills this requirement unless we could come up with an ultimate justification for it.

    This is where we disagree. Do you have to have “ultimate justification” to know that you had coffee two mornings ago? Is the event any less true? Any less certain? Why?

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  193. “I understand this Iapetus , but that is not the point.”

    It is precisely the point and makes all the difference in the world.

    “We are both impaled on one of the horns of the Münchhausen-Trilemma. Circularity, and it is a vicious circle if there ever was one. And the theory of critical rationalism can not escape it since it depends (though not totally) on sense experience.”

    Absolutely not. Why should it? Critical rationalism has no a priori commitment to empiricism or realism.

    If you could show that a model which posits that all our sense experience is a dream-like illusion that does not correspond even vaguely to something real is in some way superior in terms of explanatory value or problem-solving capability compared to a model that starts from a different position, we would have to adopt it.

    Note that the example I gave does not argue that we use empirical evidence to prove realism. Rather, it takes the hypothesis of solipsism and tests it for one of its logical consequences.

    “And claiming uncertainty does not help you. You still must ground all your arguments, facts about the world, testing, etc… on this circular assumption. Circularity is your starting point. Yet you consider it valid to reason from that point. “Uncertainty” is not a get out of jail free card for you old friend.”

    As you say, it is an assumption, i.e. it is uncertain and might be false.

    I know that it is one of your pet arguments that strong empiricism is self-refuting. But I am no empiricist. I make no claims to the effect that our sense experience per se proves the presence of an outside world, let alone that it is structured as we perceive it. I am a critical realist, but I have no illusions that I can prove it to any degree of certainty.

    That being said, if my metaphysical model posits a real, independent outside world that is more or less accurately reflected in our senses and we find that this model has considerable explanatory value and problem-solving capability, we can see it as corroborating this model. There is nothing circular about it.

    Furthermore, what is the alternative? That there is no outside reality? That there is one, but it is totally without structure? That there is one and it has a structure, but we can not even approximatively recognize it? What arguments are there in support of such hypotheses? The assumption that we could live in a structure-less reality seems highly naive to me; likewise the assumption that we could live in a structured reality without being able to approximatively recognize at least those structures which are important for our survival.

    “So why should I or you consider other circular arguments invalid? On what grounds? And if you accept a circular argument as valid, then why not dogma?”

    An argument is circular if it presupposes in one of its premises what it purports to show in its conclusion. I do no such thing.

    “So you can not even be certain of the test you use. I suppose we can not even be certain if we are even asking the right questions. Didn’t Russell call critical rationalism a theory of despair?”

    Do you prefer to live in an illusory certainty?

    “This is where we disagree. Do you have to have “ultimate justification” to know that you had coffee two mornings ago? Is the event any less true? Any less certain? Why?”

    Can you exclude with ultimate certainty that you dreamed this episode? That you hallucinated it? That your memory is false and you confuse it with something you saw? That your sense experience is unreliable? Do I really have to give arguments in support of the proposition that people’s cognitive faculties are error-prone?

    All we have here is the certainty of the individual. It does not and can not give an ultimate justification.

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  194. Absolutely not. Why should it? Critical rationalism has no a priori commitment to empiricism or realism.

    If you could show that a model which posits that all our sense experience is a dream-like illusion that does not correspond even vaguely to something real is in some way superior in terms of explanatory value or problem-solving capability compared to a model that starts from a different position, we would have to adopt it.

    Oh please Iapetus, do you consider critical rationalism a VALID theory of knowledge or not? If yes, that theory is based on a circular argument (without an outside world it is useless). If you don’t consider it a valid theory of knowledge then why do you use it? And if CR is not dependent not sense experience being valid then what good is it?

    That being said, if my metaphysical model posits a real, independent outside world that is more or less accurately reflected in our senses and we find that this model has considerable explanatory value and problem-solving capability, we can see it as corroborating this model. There is nothing circular about it.

    Of course it is circular. How do you know of this real, independent outside world expect by sense experience? And how do you find corroboration of this assumption except by sense experience?

    An argument is circular if it presupposes in one of its premises what it purports to show in its conclusion. I do no such thing.

    Ok so you don’t suppose that your sense experience generally reflects reality? Then what exacly do you suppose your sense experience reflects?

    All we have here is the certainty of the individual. It does not and can not give an ultimate justification.

    But the event is true nonetheless. It is a fact nonetheless. What requires me to give ultimate justification for such a thing? And why should I care? Will “they” kick me out of some philosophical society? How does the lack of justification make the event any less true?

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  195. Can you exclude with ultimate certainty that you dreamed this episode? That you hallucinated it? That your memory is false and you confuse it with something you saw? That your sense experience is unreliable? Do I really have to give arguments in support of the proposition that people’s cognitive faculties are error-prone?

    Do you think like this when you are driving down the road? Of course not. I have no good reason to distrust said cognitive abilities. Especially since I believe that God created them to aim at truth.

    Furthermore, what is the alternative? That there is no outside reality? That there is one, but it is totally without structure? That there is one and it has a structure, but we can not even approximatively recognize it? What arguments are there in support of such hypotheses? The assumption that we could live in a structure-less reality seems highly naive to me; likewise the assumption that we could live in a structured reality without being able to approximatively recognize at least those structures which are important for our survival.

    The alternative is to admit that we all live with circularity, even Baron Munch-face… And still consider our conclusion valid.

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  196. @posts no. 194&195:

    “Oh please Iapetus, do you consider critical rationalism a VALID theory of knowledge or not? If yes, that theory is based on a circular argument (without an outside world it is useless). If you don’t consider it a valid theory of knowledge then why do you use it? And if CR is not dependent not sense experience being valid then what good is it?”

    So you believe that a valid theory of knowledge must presuppose metaphysical realism? That´s certainly news to me…

    However, it further confirms an impression I have had all along: despite your constant arguing to the effect that empiricism is self-refuting, at heart you are a realist and empiricist. You just erroneously believe that a transcendental grounding of this stance would help you to circumvent the problems you are so fond of pointing out to others.

    “Of course it is circular. How do you know of this real, independent outside world expect by sense experience? And how do you find corroboration of this assumption except by sense experience?”

    Like so many crititcs of critical rationalism, you try to limit its methodology to the falsification of empirical facts. But critical rationalism does not hold that falsifiability is the be-all and end-all of rational inquiry. It also encompasses the thinking in alternatives and the comparison of said alternatives for their explanatory value and problem-solving capability. This is especially true if we compare different metaphysical models, where proof or refutation via empirical evidence does not make sense.

    Since all this is probably too abstract for you, let´s consider a concrete example.

    I think we both can affirm the following proposition: there seems to exist an entity which is aware of its existence (the “subject”) and is furthermore aware of certain contents within its consciousness (the “experiences”). (Although one could point out that this proposition itself entails a bunch of metaphysical assumptions which are open to criticism, but I will not go there for now). How do we account for this proposition? I will pick three hypotheses out of a wide variety of possibilities.

    Hypothesis 1: There exists a subject-independent reality which is acting on receptors of the subject, leading to experiences of said outer reality in the subject´s consciousness that are approximatively accurate.

    Hypothesis 2: There exists a subject-independent reality which is acting on receptors of the subject. However, said receptors are faulty and convey experiences of said outer reality into the subject´s consciousness that are utterly, completely false.

    Hypothesis 3: There exists no subject-independent reality. The subject´s consciousness and its experiences are all that exists.

    Now, all three hypotheses are principally capable of explaining the above proposition. How do we decide which one to choose? Simply saying that our senses show there is a subject-independent outside world is obviously not going to work. Well, we can compare their explanatory value and problem-solving capability.

    Hypothesis 1 is the basis of the scientific method. This method has enabled us to explore and explain said apparent outside world in ever and ever greater detail and accuracy and has resulted in a vastly interconnected and interwoven web we call our scientific knowledge. It has also given us the means to gather facts about our apparently real cognitive apparatus, which in turn enables us to inter alia alter the experiences of another subject´s consciousness with great precision (see e.g. the induction of transcendental experiences when certain parts of the brain are stimulated), thus giving serious, corroborating evidence for said model. Not too shabby.

    Hypothesis 2 might in principle be able to accomplish the same. However, it would imply that by sheer chance we have accumulated a body of knowledge which is highly interrelated and continously tested for failure and which has the appearance of at least marginally resembling reality as it truely is, based, however, on utterly false experiences. I would say this is rather unlikely, although possible.

    Hypothesis 3 is a serious contender. We might even say we have corroborating evidence for it since one could interpret the collapse of the quantum-mechanical wavefunction upon measurement as indicating that a conscious observer is necessary to shape reality. The step from there to denying a subject-independent reality altogether is not totally implausible.
    On the other hand, as I already explained, this model has the problem of having to account for the fact that some experiences seem amenable to my will, others not. Furthermore, there is the question as to why some experiences (those pertaining to the “outer world”) are so much more vivid and tangible than the fleeting, surreal ones of the “inner world” of thoughts, emotions, dreams, hallucinations etc.

    So in summary I would see hypothesis 1 as having the greatest explanatory value and problem-solving capacity. Notice, though, that I do not use the presupposition that our sense experience corresponds to a real world as a logical premise from which any definite conclusions follow. Critical rationalism has no problems discussing and evaluating models which see our sense experience as false or which deny that there is such a thing as sense experience in the first place.

    “Ok so you don’t suppose that your sense experience generally reflects reality? Then what exacly do you suppose your sense experience reflects?”

    To tentatively suppose something as true and to search for corroborating evidence is different from a circular logical deduction. According to your definition of circularity, we might as well stop science since every attempt to find corroborating evidence for a given theory would be “circular” and thus invalid. The same goes for corroborating evidence in court. Would you accept it if the defendant would declare incriminating evidence which corroborates the thesis of the prosecution that he is guilty to be invalid because it is “circular”?

    “But the event is true nonetheless. It is a fact nonetheless.”

    You once again sound like a broken record. You can assert the truth of a proposition as long as you want. You may even believe it is true with every fiber of your being. It does not constitute an ultimate justification. How hard is it to understand?

    “What requires me to give ultimate justification for such a thing?”

    Are you kidding me!? The whole point of these last posts was your assertion that you can provide an ultimate justification by positing your god. When I pointed out that this is illusory, you tried to counter by asserting that “personal” grounds of justification are somehow different from “propositional” ones when in fact they are not.

    “And why should I care? Will “they” kick me out of some philosophical society?”

    As long as you abstain from making claims to be in possession of some ultimate, objective truth I could care less what you are asserting. However, if folks like you and Tennant make grandiose claims of having the one and only, inherently rational, objectively and ultimately true worldview while everybody else is screwed, I will continue to point out that this is a delusion.

    “How does the lack of justification make the event any less true?”

    For the umpteenth time, this is not the issue. Nobody is denying the possibility that there exist true statements and that you may even have discovered one. What is being denied is that you can have ultimate certainty in this regard.

    “Do you think like this when you are driving down the road? Of course not. I have no good reason to distrust said cognitive abilities. Especially since I believe that God created them to aim at truth.”

    You can believe whatever you want, but your belief does not constitute any kind of justification, let alone an ultimate one.

    And you have no reason to distrust your cognitive capabilities? So you were never fooled by an optical illusion? Have never heard sounds or voices that were not real or were coming from a totally different source than you thought? Somehow I have a problem to believe that you are such an extraordinary specimen.

    “The alternative is to admit that we all live with circularity, even Baron Munch-face… And still consider our conclusion valid.”

    I was asking for arguments in support of alternatives to metaphysical realism. They do exist, but neither I nor you (I suppose) find them convincing. This has nothing to do with circularity.

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  197. @ 196

    Using philosphy to illuminate, not to obfusticate.
    Elegantly done.

    (Round of applause for Iapetus.)

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  198. To tentatively suppose something as true and to search for corroborating evidence is different from a circular logical deduction. According to your definition of circularity, we might as well stop science since every attempt to find corroborating evidence for a given theory would be “circular” and thus invalid. The same goes for corroborating evidence in court. Would you accept it if the defendant would declare incriminating evidence which corroborates the thesis of the prosecution that he is guilty to be invalid because it is “circular”?

    I was asking for arguments in support of alternatives to metaphysical realism. They do exist, but neither I nor you (I suppose) find them convincing. This has nothing to do with circularity.

    Iapetus, You said a lot here, and I have to run. So one quick point. I see nothing here to refute my claim. That justifying sense experience depends on sense experience. That it is logically circular. You pick hypothesis 1, but that does not solve the problem, what does it’s ‘explanatory value and problem-solving capacity’ have to do with anything? The problem remains. So do you accept that your experience corresponds to reality, even though that is a logically circular argument. Or do you not accept that your experience corresponds to reality?

    I’ll get back to this later.

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  199. I think we both can affirm the following proposition: there seems to exist an entity which is aware of its existence (the “subject”) and is furthermore aware of certain contents within its consciousness (the “experiences”). (Although one could point out that this proposition itself entails a bunch of metaphysical assumptions which are open to criticism, but I will not go there for now). How do we account for this proposition? I will pick three hypotheses out of a wide variety of possibilities.

    Hypothesis 1: There exists a subject-independent reality which is acting on receptors of the subject, leading to experiences of said outer reality in the subject´s consciousness that are approximatively accurate.

    Hypothesis 2: There exists a subject-independent reality which is acting on receptors of the subject. However, said receptors are faulty and convey experiences of said outer reality into the subject´s consciousness that are utterly, completely false.

    Hypothesis 3: There exists no subject-independent reality. The subject´s consciousness and its experiences are all that exists.

    Now, all three hypotheses are principally capable of explaining the above proposition. How do we decide which one to choose? Simply saying that our senses show there is a subject-independent outside world is obviously not going to work. Well, we can compare their explanatory value and problem-solving capability.

    Hypothesis 1 is the basis of the scientific method. This method has enabled us to explore and explain said apparent outside world in ever and ever greater detail and accuracy and has resulted in a vastly interconnected and interwoven web we call our scientific knowledge. It has also given us the means to gather facts about our apparently real cognitive apparatus, which in turn enables us to inter alia alter the experiences of another subject´s consciousness with great precision (see e.g. the induction of transcendental experiences when certain parts of the brain are stimulated), thus giving serious, corroborating evidence for said model. Not too shabby.

    Hypothesis 2 might in principle be able to accomplish the same. However, it would imply that by sheer chance we have accumulated a body of knowledge which is highly interrelated and continously tested for failure and which has the appearance of at least marginally resembling reality as it truely is, based, however, on utterly false experiences. I would say this is rather unlikely, although possible.

    Hypothesis 3 is a serious contender. We might even say we have corroborating evidence for it since one could interpret the collapse of the quantum-mechanical wavefunction upon measurement as indicating that a conscious observer is necessary to shape reality. The step from there to denying a subject-independent reality altogether is not totally implausible.
    On the other hand, as I already explained, this model has the problem of having to account for the fact that some experiences seem amenable to my will, others not. Furthermore, there is the question as to why some experiences (those pertaining to the “outer world”) are so much more vivid and tangible than the fleeting, surreal ones of the “inner world” of thoughts, emotions, dreams, hallucinations etc.

    So in summary I would see hypothesis 1 as having the greatest explanatory value and problem-solving capacity. Notice, though, that I do not use the presupposition that our sense experience corresponds to a real world as a logical premise from which any definite conclusions follow. Critical rationalism has no problems discussing and evaluating models which see our sense experience as false or which deny that there is such a thing as sense experience in the first place.

    Ok Iapetus, I would like to focus on this. Why wouldn’t the explanatory value and problem solving capacity of hypothesis 1 work just as well, and be just as valid if you were a brain in a vat?

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  200. @196:

    Nice post, although I have to wonder if its wasted on James!

    Although not really related to what you’re writing, I’d be tempted to take off a tangent on human sensory processing!

    @199: I can’t speak for others, but what’s with quoting the entire passage, instead of just the post number and the relevant paragraph?! Especially for the sake of such a brief reply.

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  201. Hypothesis 3 is a serious contender. We might even say we have corroborating evidence for it since one could interpret the collapse of the quantum-mechanical wavefunction upon measurement as indicating that a conscious observer is necessary to shape reality. The step from there to denying a subject-independent reality altogether is not totally implausible.
    On the other hand, as I already explained, this model has the problem of having to account for the fact that some experiences seem amenable to my will, others not. Furthermore, there is the question as to why some experiences (those pertaining to the “outer world”) are so much more vivid and tangible than the fleeting, surreal ones of the “inner world” of thoughts, emotions, dreams, hallucinations etc.

    But if you were the subject of a cartesian demon or a mad scientist (brain in a vat). Your “will” affecting things (in your mind) would only be an induced illusion (exactly what the Matrix wants you to think). And the difference between “waking” states and “dream” states would simply be induced also.

    Iapetus,I know you put a lot of thought in this, and you did quite well. But “critical rationalism” can not solve this problem. It may be a good way to do science, I grant that, but in dealing with these larger questions, it fails. So at the very basic level of knowledge we are left with a vicious circle. And we both accept that our sense experience relates to reality, even though it is circular.

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  202. As long as you abstain from making claims to be in possession of some ultimate, objective truth I could care less what you are asserting. However, if folks like you and Tennant make grandiose claims of having the one and only, inherently rational, objectively and ultimately true worldview while everybody else is screwed, I will continue to point out that this is a delusion.

    Why is our experience of God delusional? Can you falsify that experience? Can you show that I do not have genuine knowledge of God?

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  203. “Why is our experience of God delusional? Can you falsify that experience? Can you show that I do not have genuine knowledge of God?”

    Why is our experience of the Flying Spaghetti Monster delusional? Can you falsify that experience? Can you show that I do not have genuine knowledge of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

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  204. Why is our experience of the Flying Spaghetti Monster delusional? Can you falsify that experience? Can you show that I do not have genuine knowledge of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    Cedric, do you actually experience the FSM? Or are you lying?

    Like

  205. @posts. no. 198, 199, 201 & 202:

    “I see nothing here to refute my claim. That justifying sense experience depends on sense experience. That it is logically circular. You pick hypothesis 1, but that does not solve the problem, what does it’s ‘explanatory value and problem-solving capacity’ have to do with anything? The problem remains.”

    The last two sentences are quite telling as they show how your thinking is restricted to absolutist terms and your resulting inability to understand what critical rationalism is all about.

    As always, we are dealing with a problem here that has no final solution, let alone through the use of empirical data. Thus we have to apply different criteria if we want to come to a decision, bearing in mind that said decision might be false.

    And stop this “logical circularity” nonsense.

    “But if you were the subject of a cartesian demon or a mad scientist (brain in a vat). Your “will” affecting things (in your mind) would only be an induced illusion (exactly what the Matrix wants you to think). And the difference between “waking” states and “dream” states would simply be induced also.”

    This is not an argument against what I wrote. What you are doing here is merely introducing another hypothesis. Actually, these are two separate hypotheses. So let´s consider them in turn.

    Hypothesis one stipulates that a subject-independent world does exist. However, the subject´s experiences do not reflect this “real” outside world, but only an artificial world which is produced by stimulating the nerve endings in the brain. While this might be conceivable in principle, it is virtually impossible in practice since it runs into the problem of combinatorial explosion. This means that since the evil scientists do not know in advance how you will interact with their virtual environment, they have to compute this interaction in real-time. Such a task would require so much processing power as to overwhelm any computer that is in existence today and in the foreseeable future. And the problem does not even start there, since it would furthermore require an antecedent perfect scan of your brain to find out what you are intending to do. All in all, I find this hypothesis to be rather unlikely.

    Hypothesis two is somewhat unclear on whether a subject-independent reality exists. However, one would think that at least the Evil Daemon is subject-independent, otherwise it would be more or less identical to my former hypothesis 3. (Incidentally, Descartes used it to throw doubts on both a priori and a posteriori believes, so what you really have in mind is his “dream argument”). Now, while this hypothesis circumvents the practical impossibility of the brain in a vat since Descartes defined his Evil Daemon as being omnipotent, we again have the problem that we have no rational arguments in support of this hypothesis. What is the nature of this Evil Daemon? What is his motivation? What mechanism does he use to produce his trickery? Unless there are any convincing answers to this, said hypothesis remains nothing but a logical possibility which carries a lot of unparsimonious, unexplained extra baggage. So why should we adopt it?

    “Iapetus,I know you put a lot of thought in this, and you did quite well. But “critical rationalism” can not solve this problem. It may be a good way to do science, I grant that, but in dealing with these larger questions, it fails.”

    A good opportunity for a general remark: your whole argumentation is based on the fact that we can not exclude scenarios like brain-in-a-vat or solipsism with utter certainty, thus we should see each as equally valid and any decision we make is purely random. But this is not how critical rationalism works, neither in scientific nor metaphysical questions. We compare the hypotheses for their internal consistency, explanatory value, problem-solving capability, parsimony etc. and then make an informed decision. That we can not achieve ultimate certainty with this methodology goes without saying, but that is after all the whole point of critical rationalism.

    Trying to limit its approach to scientific questions is unwarranted. It is a general methodology in any field of human attempts towards problem-solving, no matter if said problems are of scientific, metaphysical, moral, religious or whatever character.

    “So at the very basic level of knowledge we are left with a vicious circle. And we both accept that our sense experience relates to reality, even though it is circular.”

    No, it is not. I have explained why at considerable length. Simply denying it won´t do.

    “Why is our experience of God delusional? Can you falsify that experience? Can you show that I do not have genuine knowledge of God?”

    And round in circles we go…

    I do not have to falsify your experience. Unless you can show its truth with utter certainty, it can be doubted. Hence it can not serve as the basis for an ultimate justification.

    Maybe you talk with your god every night. Maybe it is even real. Who knows? However, what is delusional here is the claim that your experience is sacrosanct, ultimately certain and indubitable and thus the unassailable basis for a superior worldview which renders the worldviews of everyone else obsolete.

    Like

  206. Hypothesis one stipulates that a subject-independent world does exist. However, the subject´s experiences do not reflect this “real” outside world, but only an artificial world which is produced by stimulating the nerve endings in the brain. While this might be conceivable in principle, it is virtually impossible in practice since it runs into the problem of combinatorial explosion. This means that since the evil scientists do not know in advance how you will interact with their virtual environment, they have to compute this interaction in real-time. Such a task would require so much processing power as to overwhelm any computer that is in existence today and in the foreseeable future. And the problem does not even start there, since it would furthermore require an antecedent perfect scan of your brain to find out what you are intending to do. All in all, I find this hypothesis to be rather unlikely.

    But these objections Iapetus are being posed by someone in the Matrix. So you would have no idea what they are or are not capable of. What kind of computers, technology they actually possess. You would only know the kind of technology you preceive in the Matrix. You point fails.

    And stop this “logical circularity” nonsense.

    No because it is completely circular, and vicious. And that is not the only problem, try proving other minds (the zombie problem) of that the past exists (that the world was not created ten minutes ago with intact memories and the apperance of age). No set of hypothesis can solve these.

    A good opportunity for a general remark: your whole argumentation is based on the fact that we can not exclude scenarios like brain-in-a-vat or solipsism with utter certainty, thus we should see each as equally valid and any decision we make is purely random. But this is not how critical rationalism works, neither in scientific nor metaphysical questions. We compare the hypotheses for their internal consistency, explanatory value, problem-solving capability, parsimony etc. and then make an informed decision. That we can not achieve ultimate certainty with this methodology goes without saying, but that is after all the whole point of critical rationalism.

    No Iapetus, my point is that we all start with unprovable assumptions. That we all fall into circular arguments, yet still consider our conclusion valid. So when you bring up the Münchhausen-Trilemma just remember, it effects us all, and all theories of knowledge – including yours…

    BTW – how do apply RC without empirical observation? And how do you avoid the general problems of empiricism. I mean doesn’t rational criticism depend on empirical observation?

    Trying to limit its approach to scientific questions is unwarranted. It is a general methodology in any field of human attempts towards problem-solving, no matter if said problems are of scientific, metaphysical, moral, religious or whatever character.

    Really? Does RC tell us whether murder is right or wrong?

    No, it is not. I have explained why at considerable length. Simply denying it won´t do.

    No, you have not offered a hypothesis that offers the likely hood of sense experience conforming to reality over the Matrix model for instance. THe plain fact is – we both believe that our sense experience generally conforms to reality, even though that belief is logically circular. Why don’t you just admit it?

    I do not have to falsify your experience. Unless you can show its truth with utter certainty, it can be doubted. Hence it can not serve as the basis for an ultimate justification.

    Again, that does not change the fact that I have genuine knowledge. And since you can not show that critical rationalism as a theory of knowledge is utterly certain, then we can doubt that also.

    However, what is delusional here is the claim that your experience is sacrosanct, ultimately certain and indubitable and thus the unassailable basis for a superior worldview which renders the worldviews of everyone else obsolete.

    Of course if we actually were in contact with the Creator of the universe and He was communicating, His worldview would be vastly superior to anything…

    Like

  207. “Cedric, do you actually experience the FSM? Or are you lying?”

    We all experience the FSM. Even if we deny it. He is amongst us. Ever eaten at an Italian restaurant? Bingo!

    I have genuine knowledge.
    So do you. Open your heart.

    “Of course if we actually were in contact with the Creator of the universe…”

    If pigs had wings, they could fly.

    “…and He was communicating, His worldview would be vastly superior to anything…”

    How do you know this? The creator of the universe might be incredibly stupid. “He” might not even have a worldview.
    (gasp)
    How could a mere mortal tell?

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  208. I have genuine knowledge.So do you. Open your heart.

    Ok, so you actually believe in the FSM. And you are not lying… But I bet no one here actually believes that you believe in the FSM.

    How do you know this? The creator of the universe might be incredibly stupid. “He” might not even have a worldview.

    Stupid, compared to who? You?

    How could a mere mortal tell?

    Only if God communicated to man.

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  209. “But I bet no one here actually believes that you believe in the FSM.”

    Is that important? Should we judge the value of religious faith according to TV ratings?

    “Stupid, compared to who? You?”

    Who can tell? He is ultimately unknowable. His stupidity might span the expanse of time and space itself several times over.
    It’s all a mystery. Working in mysterious ways.

    “Only if God communicated to man.”

    And if pigs had wings…”

    Besides, you’re neglecting the possibility that maybe god is not interested in communicating to us just so that he can show off his world view.

    Perhaps he is shy about his worldview and so chooses to just make stuff up as he goes along.
    Or perhaps he is bored. If god is immortal, boredom is a good bet.
    So to relieve boredom god communicates with man and tells whoppers!
    Perhaps he goes around creating 6000 year old Earths and then tweaks them so that they look much, much older as a sort of arbitrary cosmic party prank.

    Like

  210. “But these objections Iapetus are being posed by someone in the Matrix. So you would have no idea what they are or are not capable of. What kind of computers, technology they actually possess. You would only know the kind of technology you preceive in the Matrix. You point fails.”

    It “fails” only in the sense that this possibility can not be logically excluded. However, the same can be said for an infinite variety of possibilities, especially if we are talking about metaphysical matters.

    What you persistently fail to understand is that I am not trying to “prove” or “disprove” a position with ultimate certainty. I am rather giving arguments for or against the likelihood of said positions which can be used to make an informed decision. It goes without saying that you can always include additional premises which serve to further shield a given hypothesis from criticism. The prize you pay for this is that your hypothesis becomes more complex, more unwieldy, less parsimonious and therefore more unlikely.

    So now you want to add the assumption that the Evil Scientists have computers which are infinitely more powerful and of a total different kind than the “artificial ones” of our common illusion. You do realize, I hope, that said unparsimonious assumption further reduces the likelihood of your hypothesis being correct, unless you can provide a rational justification for it.

    “No because it is completely circular, and vicious. And that is not the only problem, try proving other minds (the zombie problem) of that the past exists (that the world was not created ten minutes ago with intact memories and the apperance of age). No set of hypothesis can solve these.”

    Again a textbook example of your total misapprehension of the problem situation due to your absolutist mindset.

    We can not solve any of these issues with complete certainty. Your constant inane “Prove this, prove that” is utterly missing the point. All we can do is to critically assess the various possibilities and to pick the one with the most explanatory value, problem-solving capacity, parsimony, consistency etc. while leaving the door open to change if new knowledge arises.

    “No Iapetus, my point is that we all start with unprovable assumptions. That we all fall into circular arguments, yet still consider our conclusion valid. So when you bring up the Münchhausen-Trilemma just remember, it effects us all, and all theories of knowledge – including yours…”

    Hello? Anybody home? The Münchhausen-Trilemma is only applicable if you claim ultimate certainty for a given proposition via recourse to an ultimate justification. The whole point of critical rationalism is the recognition that this endeavour is utopian and is consequently discarded and replaced by the principle of critical assessment.

    And for the last time, there is a difference between a logically circular deduction and the attempt to find corroborating evidence for a given proposition. The premise in my post no. 196 was referring to experiences in general. The question whether they are generated by “senses”, an Evil Daemon, our consciousness or whatever was discussed afterwards.

    “BTW – how do apply RC without empirical observation? And how do you avoid the general problems of empiricism. I mean doesn’t rational criticism depend on empirical observation?”

    Why on earth should it? As I said, it is a general methodology for rational inquiry in all fields of human problem-solving. Do you want to posit the proposition that only empirical questions are meaningful? Are you a positivist/empiricist?

    Of course, if you have adopted a realist metaphysics and want to work on empirical questions relating to what you consider to be a real outside world, critical rationalism can be employed there, too.

    “Really? Does RC tell us whether murder is right or wrong?”

    Why should it? Critical rationalism is not a moral theory.

    What it does do is to enable us to critically discuss and compare different moral theories, their presuppositions, practical feasibility, consistency etc.

    “No, you have not offered a hypothesis that offers the likely hood of sense experience conforming to reality over the Matrix model for instance.”

    This is exactly what I have done. I have described the corroborating evidence in support of metaphysical realism. I have furthermore given arguments why the “Matrix model” or other alternatives have conceptual difficulties (and I could add further arguments but I am beginning to feel that I am wasting my time here).
    In contrast, all you have done is stating a logical possibility and saying that I can not disprove it. This is totally insufficient. What are the arguments in support of the “Matrix model”? What problem could be solved better than with e.g. metaphysical realism? What could be better explained? In short: why should we see it as likely true?

    I would wager that you can not answer this. It is a general pattern in your “argumentation” to limit yourself to pointing out logical possibilities and then gleefully challenging your opponent to disprove it. A case in point is this “mutation in ancient species” fiasco, which I see you repeating now in another thread. If we were to adopt this approach, we would be paralysed since we can never exclude every far-fetched logical possibility with total certainty. The sensible thing to do is to disregard them until positive evidence and/or supporting arguments are presented, which you reliably fail to do.

    “Again, that does not change the fact that I have genuine knowledge.”

    And the broken record is spinning ever faster…

    Unless you can show that this “knowledge” is utterly certain, it can not serve as the basis for an ultimately certain, true worldview which renders all other worldviews false. It really is very simple.

    “And since you can not show that critical rationalism as a theory of knowledge is utterly certain, then we can doubt that also.”

    Your tone suggests that you think you have pointed out a weak spot, which again indicates how little you understand what you are arguing against.

    Show how an ultimate justification can be achieved, and you have consigned critical rationalism to the dustbin. I’m not holding my breath, however.

    “Of course if we actually were in contact with the Creator of the universe and He was communicating, His worldview would be vastly superior to anything…”

    Terrific. Unfortunately, the truth of this worldview would not be utterly certain unless you could supply an ultimate justification for it. I’m all ears…

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  211. Unless you can show that this “knowledge” is utterly certain, it can not serve as the basis for an ultimately certain, true worldview which renders all other worldviews false. It really is very simple.

    Iapetus, I will get to the rest of your post tonight. But I have one quick question here. Can you demostrate your existence with “utter certainty?”

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  212. “Can you demostrate your existence with “utter certainty?”

    I sometimes wonder whether James had too much fun back in the sixties when he starts asking questions like these.
    Heavy, man. Pass the bong.

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  213. “Iapetus, I will get to the rest of your post tonight.”

    I can barely contain my anticipation…

    “Can you demostrate your existence with “utter certainty?””

    This is getting boring.

    If you want to base your system of utterly certain knowledge on the proposition that you exist (or that you are aware of your existence? But I will not give too much away.), then make a positive case for it.

    This should be fun, seeing a professed Christian argue like a Hindu wise man.

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  214. “This should be fun, seeing a professed Christian argue like a Hindu wise man.”

    He’s already done “the professed Christian arguing like a Muslim” thing.

    http://rationalreality.50webs.com/hec.htm

    I don’t think he gets out much. It probably never occured to him that religious fundamentalists from different religions re-cycle each others arguments. No need to change the actual argument, just switch the labels around. It’s all good.

    Keep it up, Iapetus.
    I have the popcorn on stand-by.

    Like

  215. If you want to base your system of utterly certain knowledge on the proposition that you exist (or that you are aware of your existence? But I will not give too much away.), then make a positive case for it.

    No, I’m asking you – can you make a case for the utter certainty of your existence? By the CR method?

    I can barely contain my anticipation…

    I know, but I can only do one liners for now. Don’t turn blue…

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  216. What you persistently fail to understand is that I am not trying to “prove” or “disprove” a position with ultimate certainty. I am rather giving arguments for or against the likelihood of said positions which can be used to make an informed decision. It goes without saying that you can always include additional premises which serve to further shield a given hypothesis from criticism. The prize you pay for this is that your hypothesis becomes more complex, more unwieldy, less parsimonious and therefore more unlikely.

    Oh Ok, perhaps I misunderstood you. You don’t claim that the external world actually exists? In the ultimate sense?

    “And since you can not show that critical rationalism as a theory of knowledge is utterly certain, then we can doubt that also.”

    Your tone suggests that you think you have pointed out a weak spot, which again indicates how little you understand what you are arguing against.

    Show how an ultimate justification can be achieved, and you have consigned critical rationalism to the dustbin. I’m not holding my breath, however.

    No, I’m saying that you can not justify critical rationalism, as a theory, in the ulitmate sense. Correct?

    Like

  217. A case in point is this “mutation in ancient species” fiasco, which I see you repeating now in another thread. If we were to adopt this approach, we would be paralysed since we can never exclude every far-fetched logical possibility with total certainty. The sensible thing to do is to disregard them until positive evidence and/or supporting arguments are presented, which you reliably fail to do.

    So you are supporting induction? Because you can not know if ancient creatures experienced RMs in the way present day creatures do – that they had the same kind of effect. The conclusion would be just as inductive to the unobserved past as it would for the unobserved future. Never mind the fact that we have not tested all the present day creatures/plants – not even close.

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  218. Argument No. 73
    ARGUMENT FROM EXHAUSTION (abridged)
    (1) Do you agree with the utterly trivial proposition X?
    (2) Atheist: of course.
    (3) How about the slightly modified proposition X’?
    (4) Atheist: Um, no, not really.
    (5) Good. Since we agree, how about Y? Is that true?
    (6) Atheist: No! And I didn’t agree with X’!
    (7) With the truths of these clearly established, surely you agree that Z is true as well?
    (8) Atheist: No. So far I have only agreed with X! Where is this going, anyway?
    (9) I’m glad we all agree…..
    ….
    (37) So now we have used propositions X, X’, Y, Y’, Z, Z’, P, P’, Q and Q’ to arrive at the obviously valid point R. Agreed?
    (38) Atheist: Like I said, so far I’ve only agreed with X. Where is this going?
    ….
    (81) So we now conclude from this that propositions L”, L”’ and J” are true. Agreed?
    (82) I HAVEN’T AGREED WITH ANYTHING YOU’VE SAID SINCE X! WHERE IS THIS GOING?
    ….
    (177) …and it follows that proposition HRV, SHQ” and BTU’ are all obviously valid. Agreed?
    (178) [Atheist either faints from overwork or leaves in disgust.]
    (179) Therefore, God exists.

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm

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  219. Cedric, in case you are wondering what is going on. I had misunderstood Iapetus, I assumed that he and I shared some assumptions. The main one being that it was certain that reality, the external world existed. I will let him answer, but after his last post, I suspect that we don’t share that assumption.

    And for Iapetus, and others. There is not “certainty” and “utter certainty.” If something is certain, it is certain by definition:

    Webster:

    known or proved to be true : indisputable

    Wordsmyth:

    Known without question; indisputable. It is certain that the world is round.

    Wikipedia:

    Perfect knowledge that has total security from error

    So there is not certainty and utter certainty, there is only certainty and uncertainty.

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  220. @posts no. 215-217 & 219:

    “No, I’m asking you – can you make a case for the utter certainty of your existence? By the CR method?”

    It will be your homework for today to answer this question yourself.

    “I know, but I can only do one liners for now. Don’t turn blue…”

    Your contributions rarely transcend this volume, so I am not overly disappointed…

    “Oh Ok, perhaps I misunderstood you. You don’t claim that the external world actually exists? In the ultimate sense?”

    What I claim has been explained repeatedly in considerable length. If you still can not make it out, I can’t help it.

    “No, I’m saying that you can not justify critical rationalism, as a theory, in the ulitmate sense. Correct?”

    Yawn.

    “So you are supporting induction? Because you can not know if ancient creatures experienced RMs in the way present day creatures do – that they had the same kind of effect. The conclusion would be just as inductive to the unobserved past as it would for the unobserved future. Never mind the fact that we have not tested all the present day creatures/plants – not even close.”

    See posts no. 105, 107 & 111.

    It seems we have reached a point where I can limit myself to referencing previous posts thanks to James’ frantic hitting of the Reset Button.

    “Cedric, in case you are wondering what is going on. I had misunderstood Iapetus, I assumed that he and I shared some assumptions. The main one being that it was certain that reality, the external world existed. I will let him answer, but after his last post, I suspect that we don’t share that assumption.” (Emphasis mine)

    A “certain assumption”. What can I say?

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  221. What I claim has been explained repeatedly in considerable length. If you still can not make it out, I can’t help it.

    A “certain assumption”. What can I say?

    Actually Iapetus, I went over your posts you were not that clear on this subject. Am I correct – that you are not certain that the external world, reality exists? It’s a simple question.

    “No, I’m asking you – can you make a case for the utter certainty of your existence? By the CR method?”

    It will be your homework for today to answer this question yourself.

    I take that as a no, you can not be certain of your own existence.

    “No, I’m saying that you can not justify critical rationalism, as a theory, in the ulitmate sense. Correct?”

    Yawn.

    I’ll take that as a no also, you can not be certain that CR is a valid theory of knowledge.

    Iapetus, one last question – is there anything that you are certain of?

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  222. “It seems we have reached a point where I can limit myself to referencing previous posts thanks to James’ frantic hitting of the Reset Button.”

    (Cedric nods his head in sympathy. The sound of pop-corn being munched on is heard in the distance.)

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  223. Well Cedric, I was more than a bit taken aback. Do you agree with Iapetus that we can not be certain that reality exists? Can not be certain that you exist? Which means that we can not be certain that science, as practiced, is valid.

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  224. ( Cedric waits patiently for something interesting to happen. The sound of pop-corn being munched on is heard in the distance)

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  225. @posts no. 221 & 223:

    “Actually Iapetus, I went over your posts you were not that clear on this subject.”

    Sorry to say that, but such a statement can only be made if your reading comprehension is severely lacking.

    “Am I correct – that you are not certain that the external world, reality exists? It’s a simple question.”

    Which was addressed repeatedly, exhaustively and clearly. Likewise the inherent problems with this question.

    “I take that as a no, you can not be certain of your own existence.”

    “I’ll take that as a no also, you can not be certain that CR is a valid theory of knowledge.”

    And why is that? Show me that you were attentive in class.

    Incidentally, if you happen to believe that doubting one’s existence is preposterous, I suggest first reading up on Descartes’ “Ego cogito, ergo sum” and then on what Nietzsche had to say about this kind of “certainty”.

    “Iapetus, one last question – is there anything that you are certain of?”

    It is tempting to write something sarcastic in response, but I will exercise restraint.

    If you have understood my position, you should be able to answer your question. You should furthermore be able to realize that we are in the same boat in this regard and why it is nonetheless no ground for despair.

    “Well Cedric, I was more than a bit taken aback. Do you agree with Iapetus that we can not be certain that reality exists? Can not be certain that you exist?”

    You truely are a strange piece of work. It was you who pestered me through several posts to “prove” that there exists an outside reality that we can approximatively perceive through our senses. It was you who tried to score debating points by claiming that I could not do it, although I never said otherwise.

    So now you are “taken aback” by the fact that I acknowledge the impossibility to “prove” metaphysical realism with utter certainty? I really am lost for words here. Are you for real? Or am I talking to a cleverly programmed Turing machine?

    “Which means that we can not be certain that science, as practiced, is valid.”

    So it seems you just realized that the scientific method presupposes certain methodological, cognitive and metaphysical assumptions. Great. Congratulations on catching up.

    I merely have to wonder why you are so shaken by this realization when both you and Tennant continuously point out these assumptions in order to undermine and relativize scientific findings. Now you see it as unbearable?

    @posts no. 214, 222 & 224:

    I find it reassuring that somebody is enjoying himself here, at least.

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  226. Incidentally, if you happen to believe that doubting one’s existence is preposterous, I suggest first reading up on Descartes’ “Ego cogito, ergo sum” and then on what Nietzsche had to say about this kind of “certainty”.

    No, I don’t think it is preposterous. I just wanted to be clear on what you thought. And you do know that Descartes solved his problem of doubt (that perceptions are unreliable) by appealing to God, see his Meditations 3-5.

    If you have understood my position, you should be able to answer your question. You should furthermore be able to realize that we are in the same boat in this regard and why it is nonetheless no ground for despair.

    And tell me why this isn’t a ground for despair? You can not even say that you are certain of your own existence! Sheesh – no ground for despair?

    You truely are a strange piece of work. It was you who pestered me through several posts to “prove” that there exists an outside reality that we can approximatively perceive through our senses. It was you who tried to score debating points by claiming that I could not do it, although I never said otherwise.

    That is because I believed we both assumed the certainty of an external world. I was wrong.

    So now you are “taken aback” by the fact that I acknowledge the impossibility to “prove” metaphysical realism with utter certainty? I really am lost for words here. Are you for real? Or am I talking to a cleverly programmed Turing machine?

    There is no “utter certainty” there is only certainty (by definition) and uncertainty.

    So it seems you just realized that the scientific method presupposes certain methodological, cognitive and metaphysical assumptions. Great. Congratulations on catching up.

    Uncertain assumptions. Right?

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  227. “I find it reassuring that somebody is enjoying himself here, at least.”

    Your efforts are Herculean, Sir.
    It’s all lost on James, of course, but I haven’t seen philosophy so well described since Uni.

    Once upon a time, I had to swat for a series of oral exams on Philosophy (in Russian, no less) but that was a long time ago and I never kept it up.
    The arguments you offer make me keenly wish I had done so.

    I honestly wouldn’t mind trying to do some reading on the subject even though it would probably mean starting from the basics all over again.

    I don’t suppose you could recommend a reading list of introductory literature on philosophy for the self-confessed amateur?
    Anything you recommend would be bought and read A.S.A.P.

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  228. @224:

    The wording of post 224 reminds me so much of Zork… 🙂

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  229. Cedric I’m sure Iapetus has some good suggestions, but this is a very good start. Don’t let the cover throw you.

    http://www.amazon.com/Looking-At-Philosophy-Unbearable-Heaviness/dp/0072828951

    And here is a christian site:

    http://parablemania.ektopos.com/archives/2005/07/theories_of_kno_1.html

    You might just want to focus on part one: Knowledge

    Like

  230. @post no. 226:

    “No, I don’t think it is preposterous. I just wanted to be clear on what you thought.”

    So now that you are “clear” on it, do you in any way disagree with my stance?

    “And you do know that Descartes solved his problem of doubt (that perceptions are unreliable) by appealing to God, see his Meditations 3-5.”

    Descartes did not “solve” anything; he arbitrarily postulated god’s existence in order to be able to trust his thoughts and senses with ultimate certainty, thus providing a prime example of one of the horns (dogma) of the Münchhausen-Trilemma.

    Furthermore, you once again fail to understand what I am getting at. Descartes was an absolutist who, like you, craved certainty and abhorred uncertainty. So he tried to find an unassailable, indubitable point of reference upon which he could construct a structure of absolutely certain knowledge. He thought he had found said point in his own existence, since I can doubt everything but the fact that it is me who is doing the doubting.

    Unfortunately, Nietzsche showed in his work Beyond Good and Evil that this approach is untenable since it involves a bunch of metaphysical assumptions which are not self-evident.

    “And tell me why this isn’t a ground for despair? You can not even say that you are certain of your own existence! Sheesh – no ground for despair?”

    Well, if you find uncertainty emotionally unbearable, then of course it is a ground for despair.

    However, acknowledging the impossibility of utter certainty in any field does not have to lead to apathetic scepticism. We neither have to discard the notion of truth nor our quest to approximate it ever closer. We merely have to show a little humility and refrain from making grandiose and boasting claims of being in possession of an indubitable, objectively true, ultimately certain piece of knowledge and a resulting worldview which renders all alternatives false.

    “That is because I believed we both assumed the certainty of an external world. I was wrong.”

    Obviously I was not clear enough in an earlier post:

    the term “certain assumption” is nonsense. It is in the same category as a “married bachelor” or a “square circle”, i.e. an oxymoron. If you assume something, you are not certain. If you are certain about the truth of something, you do not need to assume it.

    So, can you show metaphysical realism to be indubitably true? If not, all you can do is assume it and allow for the possibility that you are mistaken.

    “Uncertain assumptions. Right?”

    You have won the microvave oven.

    That being said, there is a difference in confidence value between “uncertain, but corroborated” and “uncertain and totally uncorroborated”.

    @post no. 227:

    “Your efforts are Herculean, Sir.
    It’s all lost on James, of course, but I haven’t seen philosophy so well described since Uni.”

    I have no illusions that I could change James’ mind on anything. I remember vividly that one of the first posts from him I read stated something to the effect: “I’m a Christian. This is my story and I’m sticking with it!” The truth of this has been exemplified again and again. We also know from pertinent studies that the overall cognitive architecture of an individual can not be changed at one fell swoop, but only gradually.

    The reason why I engage him in a discussion at all is to point out the mistakes, contradictions and misunderstandings in his “arguments”. There are numerous, which makes it all the more galling that they are so frequently forwarded in a tone of smug superiority and aggressiveness (although I later found out that James is only an apprentice in this regard compared to Tennant’s mastery).

    As someone who worked as a scientist for a couple of years, I find it patently unacceptable that people with such a tenuous grasp of many philosophical and scientific issues and who are not even aware of inherent problems within their own positions, nonetheless feel justified in publicly labeling scientists and anyone else who does not adhere to their particular brand of Christianity as philosophically inept, incompetent fools and who feel qualified to judge the validity of scientific theories better than the experts actually working in those fields. This bizarre mixture of brazen intellectual hubris and philosophical naivety needs to be pointed out for what it is.

    If you have found something worthwhile and interesting in what I wrote, that is surely an added bonus.

    Regarding reading recommendations, I am afraid that it has been quite some time since I read an introductory philosophy book and can not think of a title off the top of my head. However, if you want to get an easy and digestible (although necessarily incomplete) overview of the major philosophical developments from Ancient Greece to today, which is entwined with a lighthearted narrative, you could do worse than having a look at “Sophie’s world” by Jostein Gaarder. He is a philosopher himself, so he knows what he is talking about. Furthermore, he has added a rather comprehensive index for further reading if you want to tackle a particulare philosopher in his own words.

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  231. @230:

    “I have no illusions that I could change James’ mind on anything.”

    Its one of the reasons why (when I remember too!) I try concentrate on writing for the lurkers, even if I’m apparently writing to a particular poster.

    “Regarding reading recommendations, I am afraid that it has been quite some time since I read an introductory philosophy book and can not think of a title off the top of my head.”

    I get a similar problem when people ask me for recommendations for basic biology/evolution books. I usually end up relying on a vague mix of knowing roughly who the authors are and Amazon.com reviews.

    This is probably too obvious to be telling you, Cedric, but you could try plugging a few keywords into Amazon.com, search only books (or you’ll get a surprising amount of unexpected things!), sort them on highest rated, then read the reviews looking for comments as to why the reader thought that the book was book, as opposed to just saying that it is. I often find that the negative reviews more clearly give away the books intended audience and weaknesses (and often the weaknesses of the readers, too!) I usually use that as a starter list for checking at the library, budgets and all that. Hope I’m not teaching you to suck eggs, as it were.

    I’ve got Sophie’s world buried away somewhere, picked up out of a book sale, never found time to read it… (So much else to do…)

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  232. @ Iapetus – October 25, 2008 at 9:39 am

    This comment need highlightin – it’s well said
    “As someone who worked as a scientist for a couple of years, I find it patently unacceptable that people with such a tenuous grasp of many philosophical and scientific issues and who are not even aware of inherent problems within their own positions, nonetheless feel justified in publicly labeling scientists and anyone else who does not adhere to their particular brand of Christianity as philosophically inept, incompetent fools and who feel qualified to judge the validity of scientific theories better than the experts actually working in those fields. This bizarre mixture of brazen intellectual hubris and philosophical naivety needs to be pointed out for what it is.”

    @Heraclides – October 25, 2008 at 10:31 am

    ““I have no illusions that I could change James’ mind on anything.”

    Its one of the reasons why (when I remember too!) I try concentrate on writing for the lurkers, even if I’m apparently writing to a particular poster.”

    Again – a great point as I do sometimes feel I am wasting my time. I know that there are a lot of ‘lurkers’ out there.

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  233. That being said, there is a difference in confidence value between “uncertain, but corroborated” and “uncertain and totally uncorroborated”.

    Are you certain about the corroboration? Or uncertain? If uncertain, why do you have confidence? Are you arguing by probability? At what non-arbitray point does a probable argument give confidence? And in this debate Iapetus you made it clear that you can not know if the laws of logic are universal or immutable. This rationally removes any confidence in any evidence or proposition, since a contradictory piece of evidence or proposition could be equally true. How do we find confidence here?

    However, acknowledging the impossibility of utter certainty in any field does not have to lead to apathetic scepticism. We neither have to discard the notion of truth nor our quest to approximate it ever closer. We merely have to show a little humility and refrain from making grandiose and boasting claims of being in possession of an indubitable, objectively true, ultimately certain piece of knowledge and a resulting worldview which renders all alternatives false.

    Iapetus, are you certain that the physical world exists – yes or no…

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  234. the term “certain assumption” is nonsense. It is in the same category as a “married bachelor” or a “square circle”, i.e. an oxymoron. If you assume something, you are not certain. If you are certain about the truth of something, you do not need to assume it.

    One intresting point: are you certain that a “married bachelor” or a “square circle” are false propositions?

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  235. 234:

    Iapetus can correct me on this, but:

    They’re not propositions to start with, never mind true or false.

    They are terms, not propositions. They need to be used in a declarative context before they become part of a proposition, with proposition being the complete declarative statement, of which the term would only be a part.

    (I’m sure there are controversies over precisely what makes up a proposition: philosophy seems to be riddled with these, from an outsiders view!)

    James: you are aware that oxymoron is derived from the Greek for ‘pointedly foolish’? 😉

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  236. James: you are aware that oxymoron is derived from the Greek for ‘pointedly foolish’?

    Yes, but is Iapetus certain that these are oxymorons, or false statements? How can he be?

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  237. @236:

    You need a dictionary like no-one I know. Oxymoron doesn’t mean “false statement”, they’re not even statements any more than they are propositions. They are phrases or figures of speech, where (apparently) contradictory terms are juxtaposed or combined.

    It seems that when something doesn’t go your way, you even resort to re-defining English! It makes you pointedly foolish, alright 🙂

    Question: did you ever go to high school? Seriously. Were you “home schooled”?

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  238. You need a dictionary like no-one I know. Oxymoron doesn’t mean “false statement”, they’re not even statements any more than they are propositions. They are phrases or figures of speech, where (apparently) contradictory terms are juxtaposed or combined.

    Proposition:

    an expression in language or signs of something that can be believed, doubted, or denied or is either true or false

    anything presented for the purpose of discussion or evaluation

    Grow up Heraclides, the statement a ‘married bachelor’ fits fine. And it is false, it can not be true.

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  239. Using a phrase like “grow up” suggests you need to.

    It still doesn’t make you right, which is quite funny.

    “James is a married batchelor” is a proposition, it proposes something that is to be taken as true. Its also a statement. The phrase within that sentence, ‘married batchelor’, is neither a statement, or a proposition.

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  240. Question: did you ever go to high school? Seriously. Were you “home schooled”?

    Home schoolers test higher on average than those who went to public schools.

    http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp

    I suspect that you went to public schools – that would explain a lot…

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  241. “James is a married batchelor” is a proposition, it proposes something that is to be taken as true. Its also a statement. The phrase within that sentence, ‘married batchelor’, is neither a statement, or a proposition.

    I framed it as a question. And it fits by the definitions I gave. This is what public school did to you?

    Again, anything presented for the purpose of discussion or evaluation And I’m presenting the STATEMENT “a married batchelor” as a proposition to be evaluated as true or false.

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  242. @240:

    You didn’t answer the question. You are also implying a reason that I asked it, without finding out first (hint: your reply suggests you’re wrong). I didn’t add trite rejoinders like “that would explain a lot…”. You appear to be resorting to ad hominems 😉

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  243. Thanks for the reading suggestions.
    “Sophies World” it is.

    (Nukes a fresh bag of pop-corn.)

    🙂

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  244. So, is James homeschooled?

    Radical Fundamentalist Christian Home-Schooling
    http://kr.youtube.com/watch?v=DH_wPUVlJ38

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  245. You didn’t answer the question. You are also implying a reason that I asked it, without finding out first (hint: your reply suggests you’re wrong). I didn’t add trite rejoinders like “that would explain a lot…”. You appear to be resorting to ad hominems

    No I grew up in a “secular” (or cultural)catholic home in the 50s and 60s. I went to public schools the way through. Heck I didn’t even know anyone who was home schooled. But the fact is, home schoolers do better generally than their counter parts in public schools, as my linked showed. Of course, this is no wonder – the public schools in the states are a mess. The professional educators have made a mess of them.

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  246. You appear to be resorting to ad hominems

    Are you a complete hypocrite Heraclides? You started these personal attacks…

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  247. James said…”No I grew up in a “secular” (or cultural)catholic home in the 50s and 60s.”

    You’re a Catholic?
    So what’s with the YEC nonsense and the dismissal of evolution?
    That’s a fringe protestant movement thingy.
    Hence my posting of the youtube video.
    None of that lot would be caught dead inside a Catholic church.
    Or did you switch churches?

    James said..”Are you a complete hypocrite Heraclides? You started these personal attacks…”

    If this is true, then it still reflects badly on you.
    Moral high ground and all that.
    (Just saying)

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  248. You’re a Catholic?So what’s with the YEC nonsense and the dismissal of evolution?
    That’s a fringe protestant movement thingy.Hence my posting of the youtube video.
    None of that lot would be caught dead inside a Catholic church.Or did you switch churches?

    I’m no longer Catholic. And I haven’t dismissed or accepted “evolution”, I certainly question it.I have dismissed materialism though.

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  249. @posts no. 233 & 234:

    “Are you certain about the corroboration? Or uncertain? If uncertain, why do you have confidence? Are you arguing by probability? At what non-arbitray point does a probable argument give confidence?”

    You are really willing to tie yourself into knots and stoop to every lame argument you can think of just to try and prove me “wrong”, aren’t you?

    Furthermore, it once again shows that you do not seriously want to engage with another position, let alone understand and learn from it. Your sole motivation is to try and poke holes in it, no matter how foolish you look in the process.

    Otherwise, you would have remembered what I told you before, i.e. that what we choose to accept as evidence or corroboration for a given proposition is a decision problem, which relies on criteria devised by our fallible reason. The hilarious thing here is that you even agreed to it and confirmed that you use the very same process (see posts no. 79 & 80). So I note that you try to argue against something you previously accepted. Congratulations.

    “And in this debate Iapetus you made it clear that you can not know if the laws of logic are universal or immutable. This rationally removes any confidence in any evidence or proposition, since a contradictory piece of evidence or proposition could be equally true. How do we find confidence here?”

    When I read comments like these, the picture that springs immediately to mind is that of a hamster in his wheel, maniacally kicking his feet and pumping his legs while getting nowhere, when all he would have to do is to get out of the wheel.

    You obviously just can not shed your absolutist mindset. According to you, “Confidence” can only be equivalent to “Certainty”. Likewise, to “know” that certain logical principles are always true can only mean “to be certain that”. Anything else is worthless. However, as I explained repeatedly, this endeavour will lead you down a blind alley, because such a certainty is unattainable. And you are in the same boat here.

    Instead, what we can do is to assume logical principles to be valid and see whether we can obtain explanatory success and problem-solving capability by this. Which we obviously can. So if you want to argue that certain logical principles are invalid, you would have to show why this assumption is superior to its alternative. If you can not do that, why should we adopt this hypothesis?

    “Iapetus, are you certain that the physical world exists – yes or no…”

    Once again I note that you are either unable or unwilling to understand my stance, despite the fact that it was repeatedly and exhaustively explained. No surprise there. Consequently, let’s try a different approach:

    James, I need your help here. You know, I really really want to be utterly certain about the existence of an external world. Unfortunately, I have these pesky doubts in my head that were planted there by some corrosive philosophy.

    So, since you are in a position to indubitably prove the validity of metaphysical realism to the detriment of any competing model, please lay this out for me quickly and succinctly so I can regain my peace of mind.

    “One intresting point: are you certain that a “married bachelor” or a “square circle” are false propositions?”

    Is this supposed to be an attempt at being clever?

    If you think so, I am afraid it only beats into the ground the obvious fact that you lack the ability and/or willingness to really understand what you persistently argue against. Although I have addressed this very issue in a previous paragraph, I will lay it out yet again to take account of your selective reading capabilities:

    an oxymoron is defined as the juxtaposition of two mutually contradictory concepts. This presupposes the validity of the law of non-contradiction and results in a tremendously useful structure which possesses great explanatory value and problem-solving capability. Thus, we have very good reasons to see it as valid, without being in a position to confirm its truth with absolute certainty (furthermore, we have indications that the law of non-contradiction does not hold at the quantum level).

    Therefore, if you want to argue that your “certain assumption” nonsense…erm, I mean “concept” is valid, you would have to show how such a droll structure is capable of even better explanatory value and problem-solving capability. Unless you can do that, my point stands.

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  250. Let’s recap Iapetus, we can not be certain of our own existence, the reality of the external world. Or the methods we use to investigate said world. We can not be certain that the laws of contradiction hold, as a matter of fact you suggest that they don’t on the quantum level, which underlies everything. So contradictory claims may in fact both be true. And you turn around and claim that we can have “confidence” and can discover “truth.” Those my good man are bare assertions.

    My position? If I hold to any system it would be reliabilism, via Thomas Reid, Alston, Plantinga, et al…

    Now before you attack this position, I have to ask from what ground do you attack – from your fallible reasoning powers? Why should I then accept your objections as valid?

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  251. @post no. 249:

    “Let’s recap Iapetus, we can not be certain of our own existence, the reality of the external world. Or the methods we use to investigate said world. We can not be certain that the laws of contradiction hold, as a matter of fact you suggest that they don’t on the quantum level, which underlies everything. So contradictory claims may in fact both be true. And you turn around and claim that we can have “confidence” and can discover “truth.” Those my good man are bare assertions.”

    No buddy, since the concept of truth is unaffected from the fact that we can never be totally certain that we have attained it; likewise, corroboration of a proposition is increasing its confidence value, even if you do not understand and/or want to accept this since anything short of utter certainty is psychologically unacceptable to you.

    Regarding the law of non-contradiction at the quantum level, I do not have to “suggest” anything. Look up the terms “superposition” and “Schrödinger’s cat”. The principle of superposition is even used today for quantum computing. However, since we are not living on the quantum level, we are probably not affected by this to a measurable extent.

    And lest we forget, your little list that you rattle off applies to you as well, unless you can show how an ultimate justification in any area of human problem-solving can be achieved.

    In this regard, I am still waiting for you to prove metaphysical realism…

    “My position? If I hold to any system it would be reliabilism, via Thomas Reid, Alston, Plantinga, et al…

    Now before you attack this position, I have to ask from what ground do you attack – from your fallible reasoning powers? Why should I then accept your objections as valid?”

    Unless you can show how “reliabilism” can solve the Münchhausen-Trilemma and provide an ultimate justification, all you have here is a hypothesis, which we can compare to competing models with regard to explanatory value and problem-solving capability.

    So go ahead, try to say something interesting and constructive for once and make a positive case for it. Why is it superior to other positions? What can be better explained? Which problems better solved?

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  252. No buddy, since the concept of truth is unaffected from the fact that we can never be totally certain that we have attained it; likewise, corroboration of a proposition is increasing its confidence value, even if you do not understand and/or want to accept this since anything short of utter certainty is psychologically unacceptable to you.

    Ok, is this “truth” you speak of certain or uncertain? TRUTH: “correspondence with fact or reality.” Which truth are you certain of that corresponds with reality. And how do you know it?

    Unless you can show how “reliabilism” can solve the Münchhausen-Trilemma and provide an ultimate justification, all you have here is a hypothesis, which we can compare to competing models with regard to explanatory value and problem-solving capability.

    Are you certain that the Münchhausen-Trilemma is valid? Are you certain that problem actually exists? How would you know? And if you can’t show that it is a certain or valid problem then why am I compelled to deal with it?

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  253. So go ahead, try to say something interesting and constructive for once and make a positive case for it. Why is it superior to other positions? What can be better explained? Which problems better solved?

    If there is an all knowing creator, then certainty is possible. He would know all things perfectly, and could communicate specific truths, certain truths.

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  254. @posts no. 252 & 253:

    “Ok, is this “truth” you speak of certain or uncertain? TRUTH: “correspondence with fact or reality.” Which truth are you certain of that corresponds with reality. And how do you know it?”

    This must be the third or fourth time that I write the following paragraph:

    Critical rationalism does not deny the possibility of making true statements or, more generally, the concept of “truth” in the sense of an accurate description of certain parts of reality. What it does deny is the possibility of ultimate certainty that a statement is true, or in other words, that we can recognize a statement as undoubtedly true, i.e. the decidability of truth.

    Can you give a rough estimate as to how many repetitions will be necessary before it sinks in?

    “Are you certain that the Münchhausen-Trilemma is valid? Are you certain that problem actually exists? How would you know? And if you can’t show that it is a certain or valid problem then why am I compelled to deal with it?”

    It is also at least the fourth or fifth time that I have to explain to you that the Münchhausen-Trilemma is a hypothesis which has serious supporting arguments. It would, however, be invalidated if you could show how an ultimate justification can be achieved without getting impaled on one of its horns.

    You are not “compelled” to do anything. But if you make claims that you have some indubitable piece of knowledge, let alone worldview, and want this claim to be taken seriously, you will have to show how this is possible.

    “If there is an all knowing creator, then certainty is possible. He would know all things perfectly, and could communicate specific truths, certain truths.”

    This is it? You throw out terms and names like “reliabilism” and “Plantinga” and all you present as justification for it are two short sentences? Would it kill you to actually lay out a coherent argumentation for a change? What has this got to do with “reliabilism”, anyway?

    Furthermore, I note that once again you have pressed the Reset Button. This very topic was discussed in posts no. 176 and following, where you were unable to show how positing your god as an ultimate justification can be justified. As expected, you pretend that nothing was ever said. But I will not let you off the hook with this. So here we go again:

    How do you justify that god knows everything? Why should we believe anything he says? How do we know that he is not mistaken? How do we know that he communicates correctly? How do we know that he is not lying? If all you can present as justification is your assertion, you have nothing.

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  255. Critical rationalism does not deny the possibility of making true statements or, more generally, the concept of “truth” in the sense of an accurate description of certain parts of reality. What it does deny is the possibility of ultimate certainty that a statement is true, or in other words, that we can recognize a statement as undoubtedly true, i.e. the decidability of truth.

    Let’s see how that works. The laws of logic seems to work, but we really have no idea if they are ultimately true. Pragmatism? But if that is the case, we can have no confidence, no certainty. About anything we believe to be true.

    It is also at least the fourth or fifth time that I have to explain to you that the Münchhausen-Trilemma is a hypothesis which has serious supporting arguments. It would, however, be invalidated if you could show how an ultimate justification can be achieved without getting impaled on one of its horns.

    No, you have to show that this hypothesis certain, or it can be dismissed. Why should I or any one answer an uncertain proposition? It is on you to show that it is valid.

    This is it? You throw out terms and names like “reliabilism” and “Plantinga” and all you present as justification for it are two short sentences? Would it kill you to actually lay out a coherent argumentation for a change? What has this got to do with “reliabilism”, anyway?

    This is only the start. The first question, and I would like to have a direct answer – If an all knowing Creator existed, could He have certain knowledge? If no, why?

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  256. Iapetus said…”This is it? You throw out terms and names like “reliabilism” and “Plantinga” and all you present as justification for it are two short sentences?”

    James replies with…”If an all knowing Creator existed, could He have certain knowledge? If no, why?”

    (rolls eyes)

    Well Iapetus, look on the bright side. You complained that James only gave you two short sentences.
    So now James has done a complete overhaul of the presentation of his argument and made it EVEN SHORTER.
    Now it’s down to a question and an add-on!
    Lucky you.

    “Would it kill you to actually lay out a coherent argumentation for a change?”

    That would require effort.
    A “gotcha” question that will hopefully tie up the opposition in knots is much more convenient.

    (munches popcorn)

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  257. @post no. 255:

    “Let’s see how that works. The laws of logic seems to work, but we really have no idea if they are ultimately true. Pragmatism? But if that is the case, we can have no confidence, no certainty. About anything we believe to be true.” (emphasis mine)

    The stranglehold of an absolutist mindset on a person’s psyche is amazing to behold. You are a veritable case study in this regard.

    You once again conflate “confidence” with “certainty”, as if they were one and the same, which in your mind they obviously are.

    Since nobody, including you, is in a position to give an ultimate justification for any piece of our knowledge, we will have to look for alternatives. One possibility is to use the principle of critical assessment by comparing various hypotheses for their explanatory value, corroborating evidence and problem-solving capability.

    “No, you have to show that this hypothesis certain, or it can be dismissed. Why should I or any one answer an uncertain proposition? It is on you to show that it is valid.”

    Maybe in Jamesland this is the established structure of discussion, but here on Planet Earth you will have to address counter-arguments to your position if you want to be taken seriously.

    So, if you can not show that you are in possession of an ultimate justification which does not get impaled on one of the horns of the Münchhausen-Trilemma, your respective claim will be rightfully dismissed.

    “This is only the start.”

    You mean there are even much grander things to come than you have previously presented? What a prospect!

    “The first question, and I would like to have a direct answer – If an all knowing Creator existed, could He have certain knowledge? If no, why?” (emphasis mine)

    It seems that my excitement was premature.

    So you start off your “argumentation” with a question to me and the demand for an answer (and a “direct” one at that). Way to go.

    However, I got news for you:

    since you are making the positive claim here, the onus is on you to present arguments for it. Additionally, you could provide some answers to my questions in the last paragraph of post no. 254.

    @post no. 256:

    “Well Iapetus, look on the bright side. You complained that James only gave you two short sentences.
    So now James has done a complete overhaul of the presentation of his argument and made it EVEN SHORTER.
    Now it’s down to a question and an add-on!
    Lucky you.”

    Lol.

    Yeah, maybe this whole argumentation could be even further condensed into a single, content-bloated word…

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  258. Since nobody, including you, is in a position to give an ultimate justification for any piece of our knowledge, we will have to look for alternatives. One possibility is to use the principle of critical assessment by comparing various hypotheses for their explanatory value, corroborating evidence and problem-solving capability.

    But Iapetus, your theory effects everything. You can not even be certain that the “principle of critical assessment” is valid.

    Maybe in Jamesland this is the established structure of discussion, but here on Planet Earth you will have to address counter-arguments to your position if you want to be taken seriously.

    But why? You throw out the Münchhausen-Trilemma, but you have no idea if it is, in the end, a valid objection. And you say we must play be the same rules – who made these rules, why should I play by them? What moral obligation do I have to said rules?

    since you are making the positive claim here, the onus is on you to present arguments for it. Additionally, you could provide some answers to my questions in the last paragraph of post no.

    A typical Iapetus dodge. Besides I did not make a positive claim per-say: If an all knowing Creator existed, could He have certain knowledge? If no, why?

    I did stress if.

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  259. @post no. 258:

    “But Iapetus, your theory effects everything. You can not even be certain that the “principle of critical assessment” is valid.”

    And here we go again: if it is not certain, it is of no use. I see that you are still struggling in your wheel as frantically as ever.

    The principle of critical assessment offers a way out of the dead end of finding an ultimate justification.

    If you have anything better or at least equally useful to offer, I’m all ears…

    “But why? You throw out the Münchhausen-Trilemma, but you have no idea if it is, in the end, a valid objection. And you say we must play be the same rules – who made these rules, why should I play by them? What moral obligation do I have to said rules?”

    Moral obligation? What are you talking about?

    If you can not show how an ultimate justification is possible without getting impaled on one of the horns of the trilemma, your claim is forfeit. Simple really.

    If you do not want to adhere to the normal rules of rational discourse, noone can force you to. Just do not be surprised if people will pay no attention to you and your claims.

    “A typical Iapetus dodge.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

    Man, that was really funny! Excuse me while I wipe the tears from my face and try to catch my breath…

    “Besides I did not make a positive claim per-say: If an all knowing Creator existed, could He have certain knowledge? If no, why?

    I did stress if.”

    Aha, so you are not putting forth any arguments here, you are merely indulging in meaningless “what if…” flights-of-fancy scenarios.

    I got one as well: “If my hand was bigger and had six fingers, I could scratch my eyes, ears and nose all at once.” Do you agree with this? If not, why not? Should make for an interesting discussion…

    Wake me up when you are ready to lay out your real argumentation (in case you have one).

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  260. Aha, so you are not putting forth any arguments here, you are merely indulging in meaningless “what if…” flights-of-fancy scenarios.

    Flights-of-fancy? Like the principle of critical assessment – for which you offer no justification? So, I will take it that you agree that an all knowing Creator can have certain knowledge.

    If you can not show how an ultimate justification is possible without getting impaled on one of the horns of the trilemma, your claim is forfeit. Simple really.

    How is the principle of critical assessment not circular? In other words, how do you justify the principle without relying on the principle?

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  261. @post no. 260:

    “So, I will take it that you agree that an all knowing Creator can have certain knowledge.”

    Is this meant to be a positive claim now?

    If so, we might see the beginnings of an actual argument being made (although experience teaches not to hope for too much). Go ahead…

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  262. “So, I will take it that you agree that an all knowing Creator can have certain knowledge.”

    Is this meant to be a positive claim now?

    Why do you keep avoiding the question? Ok, it’s a positive claim – have at it…

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  263. @post no. 262:

    “Why do you keep avoiding the question? Ok, it’s a positive claim – have at it…”

    And is this claim floating somewhere in limbo or do you intent to base an actual line of reasoning on it?

    Come on, James. I know it hurts your brain but at least try to lay out an argumentation that is longer than two sentences and does not consist of a question.

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  264. And is this claim floating somewhere in limbo or do you intent to base an actual line of reasoning on it?

    Come on, James. I know it hurts your brain but at least try to lay out an argumentation that is longer than two sentences and does not consist of a question.

    Ok, God imparted this knowledge to me. That He is all knowing and of a specific moral character.

    BTW, you can answer this:

    How is the principle of critical assessment not circular? In other words, how do you justify the principle without relying on the principle?

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  265. @post no. 264:

    “Ok, God imparted this knowledge to me. That He is all knowing and of a specific moral character.”

    So once again you do not supply more than two short sentences. Thus, I will have to probe a little further:

    Is this knowledge-transfer the basis of the one and only true worldview which necessarily renders all other worldviews false? And exactly how was this knowledge imparted?

    “How is the principle of critical assessment not circular? In other words, how do you justify the principle without relying on the principle?”

    see post no. 186

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  266. Is this knowledge-transfer the basis of the one and only true worldview which necessarily renders all other worldviews false? And exactly how was this knowledge imparted?

    1. Yes

    2. This knowledge is imparted by general revelation “The heavens declare the glory of God” by specific revelation “all scripture is God breathed” which includes God imparting knowledge directly to the human mind “His Spirit (mind) bears witness with our spirit (mind)” (the inner instigation of the Holy Spirit).

    3.see post no. 186. I did, I’m not speaking of Muchhausen per-say. I’m just wondering how you avoided circularity in general. How do you justify the principle of critical assessment without relying on the principle?

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  267. @post no. 266:

    “This knowledge is imparted by general revelation “The heavens declare the glory of God” by specific revelation “all scripture is God breathed” which includes God imparting knowledge directly to the human mind “His Spirit (mind) bears witness with our spirit (mind)” (the inner instigation of the Holy Spirit).”

    As I see it, “general revelation” presupposes “specific revelation”, since you must be aware of god’s existence before the heavens can declare his glory.

    So the situation is this:

    your worldview is based on the assumption that a deity telephathically communicates with you and tells you of his existence, his omniscience and omnipotence (I presume) as well as his moral outlook.

    How do you guarantee the indubitable truth of this? What ultimate justification can you give for it? Why should we assume that this is anything more than wishful thinking on your part?

    Even if you could somehow show that your experiences are not a delusion, how do we know that this deity is truthful in his messages? That he knows what he is talking about?

    If the answers you give to these questions solely rely on your personal testament and certainty, any claims to certain truth are utterly unwarranted.

    “I’m not speaking of Muchhausen per-say. I’m just wondering how you avoided circularity in general. How do you justify the principle of critical assessment without relying on the principle?”

    There is no “justification” in the classical sense. There can not be, since the impossibility of such an endeavour is the whole point of critical rationalism. The principle of critical assessment is offered as an alternative to the principle of sufficient reason in order to circumvent the Münchausen-Trilemma.

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  268. your worldview is based on the assumption that a deity telephathically communicates with you and tells you of his existence, his omniscience and omnipotence (I presume) as well as his moral outlook.

    Something like that. Though He could speak verbally if He so wished.

    How do you guarantee the indubitable truth of this? What ultimate justification can you give for it? Why should we assume that this is anything more than wishful thinking on your part?

    If I can’t give “ultimate justification” would it make it any less true? How so?

    If the answers you give to these questions solely rely on your personal testament and certainty, any claims to certain truth are utterly unwarranted.

    Why? I have no reason to believe that I’m delusional. Why shouldn’t I trust these experiences, this gained knowledge?

    There can not be, since the impossibility of such an endeavour is the whole point of critical rationalism. The principle of critical assessment is offered as an alternative to the principle of sufficient reason in order to circumvent the Münchausen-Trilemma.

    Ok, so we are back to the fact that you can’t even know if critical rationalism is a valid theory. You have nothing to base it on…

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  269. @post no. 268:

    “Something like that. Though He could speak verbally if He so wished.”

    Really? Does he have a strong, masculine voice?

    “If I can’t give “ultimate justification” would it make it any less true? How so?”

    If you can not give an ultimate justification for it, it may be false. Hence its truth is not utterly certain. Hence it can not serve as basis for an indubitably true worldview.

    “Why? I have no reason to believe that I’m delusional.”

    Says every asylum inmate in the world…

    “Why shouldn’t I trust these experiences, this gained knowledge?”

    Whether you have trust or not is irrelevant. The issue is that you can not be certain about this “knowledge”, since you can not rule out that you are mistaken. Thus you are in no position to assert its indubitable truth to the detriment of all other alternatives.

    “Ok, so we are back to the fact that you can’t even know if critical rationalism is a valid theory. You have nothing to base it on…”

    It seems we are merely going in circles here, since all this was already discussed more than once on this thread and you have nothing new, original or insightful to present.

    Thus, I am taking my leave before this “discussion”, which frequently had the feeling of a monologue to me, becomes a form of spam.

    Keep up the good work, Ken! I will surely drop by occasionally to see what’s going on here.

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  270. If you can not give an ultimate justification for it, it may be false. Hence its truth is not utterly certain. Hence it can not serve as basis for an indubitably true worldview.

    Of course it is indubitably true. God said so… And He is utterly certain… You may not be utterly certain about Him, but why should that effect me?

    Says every asylum inmate in the world…

    Are you sure you’re not delusional? Can you prove it?

    Whether you have trust or not is irrelevant. The issue is that you can not be certain about this “knowledge”, since you can not rule out that you are mistaken. Thus you are in no position to assert its indubitable truth to the detriment of all other alternatives.

    No, I’m in no position. But God certainly is… And He is in a position to communicate these facts.

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  271. Of course it is indubitably true. The Flying Spaghetti Monster said so… And The Meatballs are utterly certain… You may not be utterly certain about His Noodliness, but why should that effect me?
    See? Look!

    (insert stick-figure dancing a highland jig here)

    I’m totally unaffected. So there.

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster certainly is… And He is in a position to communicate these facts.
    Bow before His Glory. Let his aroma fill your senses. Salute him with a glass of the house red.
    Ramen.

    (Cedric finishes of the last of the popcorn, burps and wanders off contentedly.)

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  272. Of course it is indubitably true. The Flying Spaghetti Monster said so… And The Meatballs are utterly certain… You may not be utterly certain about His Noodliness, but why should that effect me?
    See? Look!

    Again, except no one actually believes in the FSM.

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