November 25, 2012

A Refutation of Dawson Bethrick's Central Argument Against Theism


(Note: there have been a few posts since this one on this subject, including the following:  Rand's Primacy of Existence Argument Refuted,  Three Refutations of Objectivism  Metaphysical Primacy, Timeless Truth and Atheist Presuppositionalism and  Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted)
    
In modern philosophy, the straw man lives and thrives among atheist apologists. For example, one of the most popular books supporting atheism today is based on a logical fallacy known as a straw-man argument. Richard Dawkins argues that God needs a designer because God is complex. However, when the true nature of the theist God is considered, Dawkins is obviously offering a straw-man argument. Though he loves to travel and promote his books, Dawkins offers illogical excuses for avoiding any rational debate where his ideas would be dismantled faster than the scare crow was ripped apart by the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.

Dawson Bethrick is another atheist who continues to promote straw-man arguments. Bethrick operates a personal blog and website related to defending atheism and disproving argument's supportive of God's existence. He is basically an Ayn Rand objectivist whose central argument against Theism may be dismantled with a simple pin-prick of thoughtful consideration.

I. Dawson Bethrick's Argument
II. Dawson's Logical Fallacies
III. The True Nature of God

No matter what the given subject, Randian objectivists hold to an underlying set of presuppositions referred to as axioms that are supposedly rock-solid, conceptually sound truths. For example, one Randian axiom is, "existence exists." As others have noted, the word existence is an abstract concept. Existence does not exist because existence is nothing in particular at all. Matter exists, people exist, and, in very real sense, the laws of physics exist, even though though we may not be able to see them. Even if you forgive the blunder of this summarized statement, presuming that things in the universe "just exist" with no metaphysical cause or explanation is nothing more than a metaphysical presupposition. It is not a metaphysically incontrovertible axiom. This fallacy, however, is not the crux of my criticism. My main criticism has to do with a type of straw man argument perpetuated at Bethrick's blog and website related to another axiom.

I. Dawson Bethrick's Argument

One of the main axioms used to attempt to disprove Theism relates to what is known as "the primacy of existence." Objectivists hold that the primacy of existence is a metaphysically true condition and that theists hold to a "primacy of consciousness" because God's will is sovereign over his creations. Because human perceptions tend to support the primacy of existence explanation, it is presumed that the primacy of consciousness supposedly inherent in Theism is a fallacy. This presumed dichotomy is described at Dawson's website, Katholon:

"In metaphysics the objective position is the view that the objects of consciousness are what they are independent of any subject’s conscious activity, while the subjective position is the view that the objects of consciousness depend in some way on a subject’s conscious activity, either for their nature, the actions they perform, their very existence, etc. Given this explicit understanding of these two antithetical metaphysical viewpoints, it should not be difficult to see how theism rests on the subjective orientation in the subject-object relationship, particularly in the case of its object of worship, a universe-creating, reality-ruling consciousness which sovereignly calls all the shots. The notion that the universe as a whole is a cosmic king’s whipping boy, obediently conforming to its commands and dutifully carrying out its wishes, undeniably assumes the metaphysical primacy of consciousness."

As noted, Dawson offers that there is an "objective position" and "subjective position" that are "antithetical metaphysical viewpoints" in an either-or dichotomy. Dawson believes his objective position is true and the subjective position is false. In accordance with criticisms he has received, at some point, Dawson had refined his argument to exclude a key aspect of God's nature, questions related to God's creative ability, and at least two logical fallacies are noted in a post from (12/26/08).

II. Dawson's Logical Fallacies

"The objective argument which I defend (actually special pleading) is not that god-belief is subjective because its god allegedly created itself (straw-man: excluding the nature of God's creativity). Rather, the argument is that god-belief is subjective because it ascribes metaphysical primacy to a subject..."(12/26/08).

As noted in the previous quote, Dawson's main "objective" argument includes at least two logical fallacies. Firstly, in accordance with the tenets of critical thinking, Dawson is not offering an objective argument at all, which is a bit ironic. According to both the scientific method and the basics of critical thinking, any influential variables should be included in any hypothesis in order to achieve valid, objective results.

A. It is a Straw-man Argument to First Eliminate Qualities of God's Nature.

The nature of God's creative abilities is certainly a valid aspect to consider when attempting to honestly evaluate subject-object relationships and Theism. But Dawson's metaphysics conveniently removes this question that would disprove his argument. "The objective argument which I defend"... is basically a subjective one. As Dawson states in the article, "Now it’s well and good that a system of god-belief holds that its god did not create itself." This subject is actually not very "well and good" for Dawson's argument, because this is quite enough to show that volition and consciousness do not hold metaphysical primacy in Theism. If God cannot whimsically cause Himself to exist and not exist, then there is no metaphysical primacy of volition is Theism. By excluding this important issue, Dawson is committing the fallacy of special pleading and he is offering a straw-man God whose unique creative abilities are being ignored in the subject object relationships of Theism. Dawson's excuse is that objectivist definitions are unique, as we'll see later.

According to the standard philosophical definition of subjective reality, God's own mind and God's own existence satisfy the qualifications for discerning that reality in accordance with God's existence is not subjective. The philosophical definition of subjective is as follows: relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.

That is a fairly standard definition similar to ones that may be found at various Internet sites, such as this one. Why should we rely on Dawson's own personal definition of "subjective" when there are more commonly accepted definitions? The impetus is on Dawson to convince us why this is necessary, but, instead of strong reasoning, we find confusion within the ranks of objectivists as to how to define the mind / body relationship.

The distinction between God's knowledge and God's nature is definable and rationally understood in the context of Theism. If God cannot will Himself to exist or not to exist, then God's existence is not subject to the knowledge of His existence or God's will. If God cannot will Himself to sin or to lie - against His eternal nature - then God's nature is not subject to the knowledge of his nature or His will to change it.

Dawson's emphasis on the Creator-created relationship is an arbitrary condition used to display his subject-object argument. He avoids the more subtle distinctions between personal volition and personal nature that would undermine his argument.

Dawson's argument conveniently eliminates aspects of God's nature by using the unique definition of 'subjective' offered by objectivists, which, as I'll show, has no justification. In creating his own definitions and defining limited arbitrary parameters, Dawson is only advancing his own disconnected definitions and theories. It is a straw man argument supported by straw-man definitions utilizing a straw-man God. Once conventional definitions are used, the arbitrary nature of Dawson's God and Dawson's argument parameters becomes evident.

B. Definitions and Concepts Within Objectivism are Inconsistent and not Cohesive

When asked to justify his unique definition of 'subjective,' Dawson stated, "And the definition which Objectivism provides for the concept ‘subjective’ is entirely consistent with its metaphysics and epistemology."

1. Dawson claims "Objectivism provides for the concept ‘subjective’ is entirely consistent with its metaphysics and epistemology."

2. When twice asked to summarize his theory that defines the mind/body relationship (a fundamental issue regarding subjectivism) with respect to a number of other explanations offered by objectivists, Dawson refused to actually define it in philosophical terms within this context.

3. Therefore, Dawson, in his apparent unwillingness to clarify his own definitions with respect to the many other inconsistent variants, is underscoring the fact that Objectivism does NOT allow for definitions entirely consistent with its metaphysics and epistemology.

Objectivists define the mind / body duality in a number of inconsistent explanations, as noted by Daniel Barnes:

"Nathaniel Branden has tentatively plumped for panpsychism. Roger Bissell holds what appears to be a version of identity theory, with hard-deterministic implications. Binswanger has the above causal substance dualism, which is apparently "controversial" among Objectivists. But it is hardly any "spookier" than Rand and Peikoff's position, which from what can be made out, is a vague but interactionist position."

C. Ayn Rand's reason for claiming there is no mind / body dualism is inadequate.

 Rand offers very shaky foundation for objectivist presumptions regarding the subject of mind body dualism:

"Just as there can be no dichotomy between mind and body, so there can be none between the true and the good. Even in regard to metaphysically given facts, cognition and evaluation cannot be sundered. Cognition apart from evaluation is purposeless; it becomes the arbitrary desire for “pure knowledge” as an end in itself. Evaluation apart from cognition is non-objective; it becomes the whim of pursuing an “I wish” not based on any “It is.”

Rand is quite wrong. The differences between true and good are in no way similar to the differences between mind and body. Rand simply makes a bald assertion - which is a logical fallacy. Mind has no substance and is not quantifiable, body has substance and is measurable and quantifiable. Truth and goodness do not offer these contrasts in any way. As a comparison and juxtaposition it is a terrible misfit.

If Rand is way off in foundational issues such as her evaluation of  mind / body duality, we cannot assume any further objectivist assertions built upon this false foundation have any merit. Here we are again, back up Dawson's Creek without a paddle.

Dawson's straw man argument is evidenced in other areas as well, as noted at his website:

"The notion that the universe as a whole is a cosmic king’s whipping boy, obediently conforming to its commands and dutifully carrying out its wishes..."

The use of the word "notion" here implies that these views are what scripture teaches. We theists, however, do not summarize God merely as a personal will that has a sovereign volition. By narrowing God down to one characteristic and focusing only on God's volition, Dawson is offering another straw man version of God.

And, as you read on a little further, you pick up the thrust of another one of Dawson's straw-man arguments...

"[God's personal nature] undeniably assumes the metaphysical primacy of consciousness."

God is not merely a personal being with volition, God is also eternally conscious and eternally existent, and, therefore, in a temporal sense, there is no dichotomy according to the ultimate metaphysical reality proposed in Theism according to the true theist "notion" of reality.

All the three main branches of Theism underscore that God is an eternal being. For example, Isaiah 57.15 offers that God is the "High and Lofty One...who lives forever." Even if a skeptic were to propose an absurd notion that God could create Himself, that would be irrelevant to this argument, because that is not what scripture offers.

III. The True Nature of God

- Ultimately, Theism ascribes metaphysical primacy to all aspects of God in harmony - God's existence, God's consciousness, God's glory, God's holiness, God's truth, God's nature, God's omnipotence, God's omniscience, God's omnipresence, all hold metaphysical unity and primacy in the universe and there is no dichotomy between these aspects of God.

- Nowhere in scripture is it implied that God's own nature is subservient to His will. Numbers 29.13, for example, implies that God's will is metaphysically subservient to His nature: "he is God, that cannot lie."

- Unchanging aspects of a person's inherent nature hold metaphysical primacy over a person's volition.

- What holds ultimate metaphysically primacy (God's existence) represents the most significant aspects of reality in the universe.

- Because there is no dualism or primacy between existence and consciousness in the eternal unchanging God, then there is no dualism or primacy in the most significant aspects of reality in the universe.

It is quite clear that Dawson is offering convoluted straw-man arguments based on anything that will possibly help his case and justify the world view he has chosen to believe, no matter how he has mischaracterized his "objective" argument and the true nature of God.

Because Ayn Rand, Dawson Bethrick and other objectivists are quite intelligent and aware that the theist God is described in scripture as a much more than simply task master barking commands, then one is forced to surmise that either their arguments against God's existence are based upon an intentional dishonesty, or, as the Bible describes, their minds are "blinded" to the point where they cannot perceive logical fallacies such as their straw-man arguments.

So, what do you believe is the case with Dawson Bethrick? Why does he perpetuate obvious straw-man arguments against Theism? Do you believe he is intentionally disingenuous, or do you believe he is simply blinded to the reality of his own straw-man God? The fact that this type of argument has been perpetuated since Ayn Rand was alive and many people continue to support it implies that these people simply aren't conscious of the fact that their "objective" philosophy and arguments are loaded with materialistic preconceptions. These "objectivists" have truly believed that their arguments against Theism are logical and valid. Thus, the biblical explanation of their actions seems to hold more veracity as an answer, that they are simply blinded to the truth. Though fraught with problems, Free Thought Blogs recommends Bethrick's blog and calls presuppositionionalism "intellectually dishonest" - as though Bethrick is offering an intellectually honest and valid argument against God's existence. Is it logical to answer theist presuppositionalism with atheist presuppositionalism? Hardly. Why am I not surprised Free Thought Blogs would recommend Dawson Bethrick? Free Thought Blogs is the home of PZ Myers - who rails on theism and offers no logical arguments for his beliefs whatsoever.

Tags: atheist straw-man arguments against God's existence, Dawson Bethrick disproved, Objectivism is not objective but presupposes materialism and atheism, Incinerating Presuppositionalism debunked, objectivism debunked, false metaphysical dichotomy, primacy of existence versus primacy of consciousness in objectivism

(this post was updated 12/03/12)

Related:

Why Top Atheist Apologists Avoid Logic Like The Plague


101 comments:

  1. Here we go again:

    1) Your links in re: Dawkins are to arguments you abandoned; I encourage readers of this post to follow them and read the comments rather than take Rick's word for it.

    2) Far be it from me to defend a lot of Objectivism: I consider quite a bit of Rand's philosophy repugnant. That said, your objection to the Randian axiom "Existence exists" is sophistry; you read:
    "The abstract concept of existence has a physical existence"
    when an equally-valid, on the face of it, reading is:
    "That which possesses a material existence, possesses a material existence." -- and while that may sound tautological, most axioms in formal logical systems come very close to that.

    What Rand is asserting here is that there is a material existence, independent of individual thought.

    The concept of "existence" exists just as much as the "laws of physics" exist -- they are human shorthand for describing things that are in, or are phenomena of, the material universe.

    3) As noted, Dawson claims that the "objective position" and "subjective position" are "antithetical metaphysical viewpoints" and that Theism is "ultimately a subjective worldview" because God created the universe using his mind.

    Indeed; if there exists something that can alter the world at will, through the efforts of its mind, that thing possesses the relationship to the world of subject to object.

    Ultimate metaphysical reality would have to to with ultimate metaphysical conditions, not merely the existence of the universe.

    You accuse Dawson of presupposing his conditions, yet here you do the same -- presupposing an "ultimate metaphysical reality" beyond that of the material universe.

    Thus, the "objective position" and the "subjective position" ultimately have no metaphysical dichotomy or aspects of primacy in accordance with an honest assessment of Theism.

    You fail to understand the "subjective position" in this case. If there is a divine entity, which possesses a will, and omnipotence, then all conditions are, well, subject to that will; it is an ultimate assertion of subjectivity. There is no "objectivity" here other than the will of God -- a subjective will.

    Now, you're free to accept that, and assert it, even, but that does not make Bethrick's position on this point contradictory, or even easily dismissed. Eternal existence and consciousness are not arguments *against* subjectivity.

    (Indeed, the only way you could use arguments like that against the notion of a subject/object division would be to assert a pantheist view -- that we are all parts of God, and there is no separation between ourselves and the Godhead. If you assert that, then we have different, but much smaller arguments to have; but I doubt you do, from what I've seen here before.)

    then one is forced to surmise that either their arguments against God's existence are based upon an intentional dishonesty, or, as the Bible describes, their minds are "blinded" to the point where they cannot perceive logical fallacies such as straw-man arguments. 

    Or you're misrepresenting their arguments, or failing to understand their arguments, whether willfully or through ignorance.

    I notice, at the end, that having been presented repeatedly with atheists who do offer logical constructions, you now try and focus in on specific ones who do not -- a bit of rhetorical trickery you would do well to avoid in the future, if you do not wish to be thought willfully blind rather than merely misguided.

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  2. Imnotandrei seems to have got the point across. The only thing I might add here would be that theists can manage to slip away from the subjective/objective criticism by pointing out that god is unchanging. Though, that would create huge problems for other christian dogma.

    Our Universe supposedely operates by the rules of an unchanging omni mind. If god ways are unchanging then that makes them indistiguishable from unchanging laws of physics which are considered objective.

    Unfortunately, a mind by definition is something dynamic. There is no such thing as a static mind. Christian claims of an unchanging god invalidate the claim of a personal god since personhood is impossible without a dynamic mind.

    P.S. I would also like to remind that christians are not unified. They cannot even come into agreement with each other what dogma is right or wrong. A straw man for another cristian is a the right argument for another.

    And yes, the irony that Rick with his straw men factory shows his indignation on the topic does not escape me.

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  3. And then we have Steve:

    Helping Steve find reality. Remember Steve?

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    1. Richard, it seems we have a bit of a double standard here with Steve. He is rather insistent that I should engage him in debate, yet he refuses to debate with you based on what seems to be an ad hominem attack. He cited your discourse as "inanity." Here's the recent link:

      I've argued with him on different blogs in the past, and am no longer interested in doing so. You can go look at his blog if you want to see the inanity he produces, which should explain, in short order, why I'm not interested."

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-coming-ebt-riots-what-will-happen.html?showComment=1353780116448#c4302872653333580776

      As for me, I am rather uninterested in attempting a dialogue with Steve, who has a tendency towards ad hom attacks and slander.

      After a prolonged game of cat and mouse, Imnotandrei finally admitted September 10 that he had made a false claim about an article:

      If it is so important to you, I'll say it -- on August 28th, it had not been formally discredited. Yet, even though he admitted this at 7.44 AM, by 10.26 AM he was back at it,  calling me a liar. Imnotandrei has claimed my article here is a lie because famous atheist apologists today do supposedly utilize logic properly and adequately in their lives and arguments. Though not in my article, he cited Stephen Law as an example. However, Law had displayed a low regard for logic and logical principles in his attitude as a professional philosopher.

      In a post of his, Stephen Law had claimed that he was "more impressed" by Dawkins' chapter in the God Delusion outlining his central argument after Law had read it for the second time. Later, however, when repeatedly asked to comment on the logic of the chapter, Law stated,"I think Dawkins argument is non-scientific, and probably flawed..."

      When I asked Law to present a summary of his favorite argument , his EGC argument, he stated, "The argument is already out there in various forms, Rick." In accordance with the bare minimum of logical consequence, the form and wording of an argument are highly important and so we can see that Law does not seem to hold a high regard for very basic logical principles. Thus, Imnotandrei's knee-jerk claim that I am a "liar" is shown to be unsubstantiated.


      Though he offers kind remarks on holidays, I simply do not have time to chase down all of Imnotandrei's slander and correct him when this habit flares up. This makes it quite impossible to carry on a civilized discourse. If there are any atheists who are able to carry on a civilized debate, I would welcome it.

      Delete
    2. Richard: Helping Steve find reality.
      Richard, I'm not sure how you'd help anyone find reality ;-)

      Delete
    3. Rick: In a post of his, Stephen Law had claimed that he was "more impressed" by Dawkins' chapter in the God Delusion outlining his central argument after Law had read it for the second time. Later, however, when repeatedly asked to comment on the logic of the chapter, Law stated,"I think Dawkins argument is non-scientific, and probably flawed..."
      Rick, I can't believe you're still banging on about it.
      Law saying he was "more impressed" with the argument the second time around, is relative to what he thought the first time around. It merely means that he found the argument to be better than he'd initially thought. Now, given Law states that the argument is probably flawed, we can surmise that he thought the argument was worse than that initially.

      You, on the other hand, seem to think that "more impressed" means that Law thinks the argument is stellar. Just like you had to twist words to try to demonstrate Dawkins' endorsement of eugenics, you have to twist words again in order to try to embarrass, or otherwise score points against Law.

      In fact though, you're just embarrassing yourself with your continued dishonesty.

      Delete
    4. Havok seems to believe that time is the pardoner of all. I simply don't have time to waste on attempting to dialogue with another atheist who believes that slander is an acceptable alternative to a civilized debate.

      Beginning in December 2011, Havok became so frustrated with his lack of answers that all he could do was to post unsubstantiated slander against me. With regard to the question of slander and Internet etiquette, most commenters seem to believe that ignoring a person who slanders is probably the best solution. Havok repeatedly claimed that I either ignored cogent comments or made "illogical" replies to comments in my article "How Identity Logic and Physics Prove God's Existence." Yet, he failed to provide one such example.

      With regard to the question of slander and Internet etiquette, most commenters seem to believe that ignoring a person who slanders is probably the best solution. If there are any atheists who are able to discuss and debate ideas without resorting to childish slander, I would be open to it as time allows.


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    5. Rick: who believes that slander is an acceptable alternative to a civilized debate.
      Luckily for me I've justified all of the claims I made, and pointed out, just above, your dishonesty in approaching Stephen Law.
      As for slander - people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones Rick. You engage in slandering people, but get upset when people point out verifiable dishonesty on your part.

      Perhaps you should try to engage in discussion without slandering people prior to requiring it from your commenters?

      Delete
    6. Hezekiah Ahaz, a.k.a. Nide, has deleted his old blog; but he has proven repeatedly that he's not interested in debate; he's interested in argument. When asked to define a position, he responds with random questions. When asked questions, he responds with more questions. So, I no longer bother engaging with him. He chases me, instead, from blog to blog.

      Now, as to the rest:
      If you don't feel inclined to have a dialogue with me, that's your lookout; however, unless you make a point of banning discourse on your blog from specified individuals, you're going to have to deal with the fact that people disagree with you. It's up to you to decide whether or not to respond to them, or let their responses go unchallenged.

      I think anyone who looks at Richard's comments, and mine, can tell the difference between engagement with the text and engagement with the person independent of the text -- so bear that in mind when you talk about ad hominem argument. ;)

      So; if you want to leave the dicussioon to me, that's OK.

      Delete
  4. If it is possible for any atheist on the Internet to engage in a civilized philosophical debate without resorting to ad hom attacks and unsubstantiated slander, now would be a good time to appear. So far, there has not been much luck, at least at this blog anyway.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Rick: If it is possible for any atheist on the Internet to engage in a civilized philosophical debate without resorting to ad hom attacks and unsubstantiated slander, now would be a good time to appear. So far, there has not been much luck, at least at this blog anyway.
      I've not engaged in ad hom attacks, and the "slander" has not been unsubstantiated.

      I've been waiting for you to respond to various questions on various posts for months and months Rick. You simply avoid doing so, and then have the temerity and arrogance to claim victory.

      *sigh*

      Delete
    2. Ps. your first link, where you accuse me of slander, appears before ANY comment from me on that thread.
      You may want to modify your silly little disclaimer to avoid looking so ridiculous in the future :-)

      Delete
  5. Steve,

    he debates just like you.

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    1. Richard, are you saying that like it's a bad thing or a good thing?

      Delete
  6. Havok,

    are you insecure?

    Me and Steve debated appearance and reality some time ago. It was hilarious. Steve believes that there may be aliens messing with us.

    In fact, he mentioned being a science-fiction writer which made it even more hilarious.



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    1. Richard: are you insecure?
      Not particularly.

      Richard: Me and Steve debated appearance and reality some time ago. It was hilarious. Steve believes that there may be aliens messing with us.
      My experience with imnotandrei is pretty much limited to his interactions on this very blog, where he has tended to put forward thoughful and coherent comments.
      Whether he actually believes aliens might be messing with us, or whether you're misrepresenting his actual position (perhaps he merely thinks it is a possible scenario, but not actually the case) I don't know.

      Richard: In fact, he mentioned being a science-fiction writer which made it even more hilarious.
      I'm not sure why that makes things more hilarious?

      Delete
  7. Richard, why did you delete the website from which you took that -- was it so no one could challenge what you say?

    That was the same website where you said that logic was meaningless, that you didn't believe anything you said, and we shouldn't expect you to be consistent.

    perhaps that's why you deleted the blog.

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  8. Steve,

    I deleted my blog because I needed time to do some soul searching.

    I was going through a spiritual crisis and needed time to reflect.

    Also, I had to distance myself from those who have made "TAG" an idol.

    "I didn't believe anything I said"

    That's hilarious because I would say something like that.


    Why don't you stop by?

    Were debating appearance and reality.

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    1. You're not debating, Richard; you're posting non-sequiturs and spouting nonsense. Let's look at some of your discussions, shall we:

      In spite of what some people wanna believe, the universe is not eternal.

      The idea of an eternal universe is irrational and therefore the universe is not eternal.

      There you go philosophy the old school way.


      Why should I bother arguing with that?

      Rick, though he may be misguided, *tries*. He has ideas, he supports them, and he sticks to them. I tried debating with you in the past, and, indeed, you change your position like other people change their pants -- whenever you feel like. That's not debate, Richard, that's at best idle wordplay and, at worst, trolling. So, not worth my time.

      Delete
    2. Early on in the discussion regarding the universe being eternal(link here, Richard admitted that it was an emotional reaction, that he had no real argument to support the claims he made, nor did he have more than intuition to support the claim that God is eternal.

      By the end of the long and somewhat rambling discussion, Richard seemed to admit that his entire belief in god and Christianity is based upon a feeling of conviction he has that it is true.

      Delete
  9. Havok you shuold debate Steve on whether or not aliens are messing with us.

    How about it?

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    1. I'm not convinced that that is imnotandrei's position, and it has not come up in his comments.

      I also don't really care that much, since the people who do actually believe are very much on the fringe of society, and are not really attempting to legislate their views.

      Christians (and other theists), on the other hand, are not on the fringe (though those of your ilk are more on the fringe here than in the USA) and are indeed trying to legislate their views. Hence, I think I'm far more interested in demonstrating the failure of claims like your own than I would be debating a UFO'logist.

      Delete
    2. Don't worry, Havok: His whole point comes down to a deliberate misreading of the argument about sufficiently advanced aliens -- how do you distinguish them from God? -- back when he was worshipping at the altar of Bahnsen.

      Nothing to debate here. ;)

      Delete
    3. I'd thought something along those lines :-)

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  10. Steve,

    Bahnsen is still my homeboy don't worry.

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    1. Oh great...is this "Nide/Hezekiah Ahaz/etc" again?

      Delete
  11. Richard,

    4 days and 28 comments later, and not one of the atheists here has admitted that Dawson Bethrick is wrong.

    Richard, I presume that you are a theist of some sort based on your comments. Do you agree that the theist God is one who is described as both eternally existent and eternally conscious? - And do you understand why this refutes Bethrick's false straw-man argument that Theism is "ultimately a subjective worldview" ?

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    1. 4 days and 28 comments later, and not one of the atheists here has admitted that Dawson Bethrick is wrong.
      Speaking as a non-atheist skeptic, I've read your post and the subsequent discussion. 4 days and 28 comments later, I don't think you've shown that Dawson was wrong.

      Delete
    2. Whatever man,

      Thanks for your comment. You are perhaps the most civilized commenter I've had here at this blog who is not a theist. You don't slander, you don't use ad hom attacks, and, to top it off, you say nice things on holidays.

      Let me try to clarify my main point here. The set up for a straw-man attack is the idea that, "Hey, this is what theists think, such and such about their God, and now I will shoot this down..." You may have missed where and how Dawson Bethrick has done this because obfuscation is the name of the game. But here it is, spelled out:

      "The notion that the universe as a whole is a cosmic king’s whipping boy, obediently conforming to its commands and dutifully carrying out its wishes..."

      That was the straw-man set up. We theists supposedly believe "this notion" and it is implied that Dawson does not believe "this notion" - but is this notion really an accurate summary of the theist God? Hardly - but it does suit Dawson's purpose - to focus on God's personal nature rather than acknowledging important characteristics of God's eternal nature that would refute Dawson's point. And, as you read on, you pick up the thrust of Dawson's straw-man argument...

      "[God's personal nature] undeniably assumes the metaphysical primacy of consciousness."

      As I just described in the previous comment, Dawson's assumption is patently false because the true "notion" of the theist God is one that presupposes an eternally existent and eternally conscious personal being - in whom there is neither primacy of existence nor primacy of consciousness. Do you understand, Whateverman?



      Delete
    3. You are perhaps the most civilized commenter I've had here at this blog who is not a theist. You don't slander, you don't use ad hom attacks, and, to top it off, you say nice things on holidays.
      I dislike point-by-point responses in discussion like this, because it makes reading the replies tedious. However, I'm going to engage in a bit of it simply because I can't see how to avoid it. I apologize in advance.

      Plenty of people in the blogisphere dislike me, so I'd caution placing me on too-high of a pedestal. I'm imperfect, occasionally insult folks, and I happen to be a theist (because Wikipedia defines deism as an obscure branch of theism). Still, I try hard to engage people honestly, and I hope I can maintain that "standard" of discourse here. Either way, thanks for the kind words.

      "The notion that the universe as a whole is a cosmic king’s whipping boy, obediently conforming to its commands and dutifully carrying out its wishes..."

      That was the straw-man set up. We theists supposedly believe "this notion" and it is implied that Dawson does not believe "this notion" - but is this notion really an accurate summary of the theist God? Hardly

      Of course it's not an accurate summary of the theists' God - it wasn't meant to be. It was meant to be an accurate summary of what the theists' universe is like - and it seems to me that many many many Christian descriptions of their universe match Dawson's. Obviously, a Christian isn't going to refer to the universe as God's whipping boy - but the fact that Dawson did is simple disparagement. It's not part of a straw man, most notably because Christians DO BELIEVE God interferes actively with the workings of His universe.

      As I just described in the previous comment, Dawson's assumption is patently false because the true "notion" of the theist God is one that presupposes an eternally existent and eternally conscious personal being - in whom there is neither primacy of existence nor primacy of consciousness.
      Whether Dawson's focus is flawed or not is the real question. You're claiming the presence of an underlying straw man in his argument, but you haven't shown where it is. All you've shown is that you disagree with his characterization.

      A straw man isn't something you or I find objectionable in an argument. It's a clear misrepresentation of an idea with the intent of using that misrepresentation to "debunk" said idea.

      Whether you disagree with Dawson's claim about the primacy of consciousness is immaterial to whether Dawson's argument contains a straw man. I'm pretty sure you've demonstrated the former (aka. your disagreement), but you have yet to demonstrate the latter (re. logical fallacy)

      Delete
    4. Whateverman,

      >Of course it's not an accurate summary of the theists' God - it wasn't meant to be. It was meant to be an accurate summary of what the theists' universe is like...

      - Dawson's straw-man God helps define his straw-man universe. You still don't seem to get it.

      1. Dawson is making a metaphysical proposition.

      2. Dawson is claiming that the theist universe (as the metaphysical sum total of all that exists in this case) is based on a "primacy of consciousness."

      3. This is false because, according to the true understanding of the metaphysical universe in Theism, God is both eternally existent and eternally conscious - there is no metaphyical dichotomy or primacy.

      >A straw man isn't something you or I find objectionable in an argument. It's a clear misrepresentation of an idea...

      - Yes, I agree, and I've just outlined that misrepresentation. Which specific point do you not agree with: 1. 2, or 3?

      Delete
    5. So, Rick... Are you going to claim that your interpretation of god is the only one in Christianity? 8)

      And since you do have a long history of distorting your opponent s views and having a straw men factory of your own, I have not much faith in the accuracy of your claims.

      You have also been engaging mostly in ad hom attacks on atheism. Instead of providing arguments for your position, you have tried to make cheap shots on atheism by trying to discredit individuals.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous and all atheists / skeptics posting here,

      1. I've offered 3 points showing why Dawson is wrong.
      2. Anonymous has attacked the 3rd point.
      3. Anonymous' point is easily refuted.

      I am not offering my personal interpretation of Christianity or even Christianity for that matter. All the main three branches of Theism offer that God is eternally conscious and eternally existent. For example, God is the “High and Lofty One . . . who lives forever” (Isaiah 57:15).

      If I am wrong, show me verses from scripture that disprove this.

      Even if someone wants to pretend that God can create Himself, that is ultimately irrelevant to this discussion because that is not what scriptures propose - and Dawson's argument is supposedly based on a "notion" of what theists actually belief.

      However, the true "notion" of God is a very basic scriptural one - God lives eternally as a conscious being. Dawson is refuted. Skeptic arguments in support of Dawson here are severely lacking. The lack of understanding of this very basic concept underscores the truth of scripture, that people are often blinded to very simple spiritual truths.

      Delete
    7. I have not read Dawson s paper yet. Hence, it is difficult for me to say where your criticism might be valid, Rick. However, as I have pointed out before, you have a long history of distorting your opponents views.

      And as it was demonstrated before, you cannot claim that the relationship between god and existence is objective without throwing away the concept of a personal god and the claims of miracles wich undermine the laws of physics and logic, i.e. "the reflection of god s nature". So no rising from the dead and no loving god if you disagree with Dawson on this point it seems.

      Delete
    8. Anonymous,

      >I have not read Dawson s paper yet.

      - That would be a start.

      >You have a long history of distorting your opponents views.

      - I use referenced quotes in context for all my main points.

      > you cannot claim that the relationship between god and existence is objective without throwing away the concept of a personal god.

      - No one is throwing away any personal God. I am simply not limiting God to a one dimensional characteristic - His volition - as Dawson wishes to in attempting to disprove God.

      Seeing that no one seems to have any additional points relative to the debate at hand and no one has contradicted the three main points I've offered, then Dawson's argument has been shown to be a straw-man argument and has been refuted. I have no interest in wasting time with any more irrelevant points.

      Delete
    9. R: I use referenced quotes in context for all my main points.

      And yet we know of multiple examples where you used quotes out of context.

      R:No one is throwing away any personal god. I am simply not limiting to a one-dimensional characteristic - His volition - as Dawson wishes to in attempting to disprove god.

      You oppose the claim that the Universe is subjective to god s mind. As it was explained before, you cannot deny that point without rejecting the concept of a personal god and the concept of miracles. It does not matter how many characteristics you add, Rick.

      Either god is bound by the laws of logic and
      physics or he is not. You could also claim that god is bound by some laws of logic and physics, but you would need to explain why only by some.

      Also the concept of an unchanging god is incompatible with the notion of a personal god from the start. At best you could argue for a super computer, but not for a being with feelings. A living mind by definition cannot be static.

      Delete
    10. AnonyRus,,

      >You oppose the claim that the Universe is subjective to god s mind.

      - Let's try and be a little more precise, shall we? This is what I wrote:

      1. Dawson is making a metaphysical proposition.

      2. Dawson is claiming that the theist universe (as the metaphysical sum total of all that exists in this case) is based on a "primacy of consciousness."

      3. This is false because, according to the true understanding of the metaphysical universe in Theism, God is both eternally existent and eternally conscious - there is no metaphyical dichotomy or primacy.

      The created universe is subject to God's mind. However, God's eternal mind and God's existence as a being are not in any way threatened by each other or subjective to each other - they simply exist eternally in harmony. To conflate some type of dichotomy or primacy between the two is artificial and is a straw man argument. There is no dichotomy.

      If you wish to try and conflate the logical tenets of existence by claiming that God must be in such a state of sovereignty that he can make himself exist and not exist at will, then you are simply offering illogical and childish challenges at this point.

      There is no logical reason why God should be obliged to have such whimsical and illogical characteristics. You may as well say, "God must be so wise that he can ask a question that he cannot answer!" "God must be so strong that he can create a rock that he cannot lift!" These types of questions are just plain silly and if these are the best types of metaphysical challenges you have to offer, then my work is done here.

      Delete
    11. R:This is false because, according to the true understanding of the metaphysical universe in Theism, God is both eternally existent and eternally conscious - there is no metaphyical dichotomy or primacy.

      It seems you were sloppy as usual in your article. Dawson did address that criticism before in his blog a long time ago. You also mostly ignored his answer to you in his latest post.

      "Rather, the argument is that god-belief is subjective because it ascribes metaphysical primacy to a subject (e.g., “God’s will”) over any and all of its objects, regardless of whether or not that subject is said to have created itself. That is where the root of subjectivism lies in the Christian worldview: in the relationship between its god as a subject and any objects distinct from itself."

      "This is certainly not the orientation between subject and object which man’s consciousness has. Where man’s experience, characterized by the metaphysical primacy of existence, is that the objects remain what they are regardless of what he knows, thinks, wishes, desires, commands or insists on, the Christian god is said to be able control its objects by its own conscious activity. Thus in the case of man the objects of consciousness hold metaphysical primacy over the subject of consciousness (i.e., objectivism), in the case of the Christian god the subject of consciousness is described as holding metaphysical primacy over its objects (i.e., subjectivism). It’s completely irrelevant that Christians claim their god did not create itself. The subjectivism of their god-belief is inherent in the orientation it is said to have between itself and everything distinct from it. As Drew Lewis reminds us, “whatever else exists is created by Him.”

      http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.ru/2008/12/inherent-subjectivism-of-god-belief.html

      Unless you disagree that all things came into being through the will of god (a very common theist claim of primacy of cinsciousness), there is no straw man. That is the only thing claimed in Dawson s quote, he does not claim that god wished himself into existence or anything of the sort.

      Delete
    12. Anonymous,

      I'm not surprised that both you and Dawson would have serious misunderstandings about who God is, what holds primacy in Theism, and why Dawsons' argument is definitely a straw man argument.

      What Dawson says:

      "god-belief is subjective because it ascribes metaphysical primacy to a subject (e.g., “God’s will”) over any and all of its objects."

      What scripture says:

      - Ultimately, Theism ascribes metaphysical primacy to God (in all aspects of God's existence and glory), not merely God's will or consciousness. To pretend that God's will alone is the primary identifying characteristic of God is a straw man presentation par excellence.

      - God's existence, God's consciousness, God's glory, God's holiness, God's truth, God's nature, God's omnipotence, God's omniscience, all hold metaphysical unity and there is no dichotomy between these aspects of God.

      - The eternal living God holds ultimate metaphysical primacy over what is created.

      - What holds ultimate metaphysically primacy represents the most significant aspects of reality in the universe.

      - Because there is no dualism or primacy between existence and consciousness in the eternal unchanging God, then there is no dualism or primacy in the most significant aspects of reality in the universe.

      - If Dawson wishes to focus on the nature of the relationship between God and God's creations, then he is focusing on a less significant aspect of reality than the nature of the glory of the eternal, unchanging God.

      - If Dawson wishes to cherry pick and focus on what are considered to be less significant aspects of Theism, then why does he pretend that these less significant aspects hold metaphysical primacy in Theism? This is illogical because these qualities obviously do not hold metaphysical primacy for God, for theism, or for theists, according to the most basic understandings of scripture.

      Thus, it is quite clear that Dawson is offering a convoluted straw man argument based on anything that will possibly help his case and justify the world view he has chosen to believe, no matter how he has mischaracterized the scriptural nature of God and those things considered to hold true metaphysical primacy in Theism.

      Sorry to have to burst your bubble. But the sooner you face reality, the better. When people sense the need to contrive convoluted straw-men arguments, there are most likely some things they are attempting to avoid. It's not really worth attempting to avoid God. How much better to worship God in all God's glory and holiness and mercy.

      Delete
    13. R:Ultimately, Theism ascribes metaphysical primacy to God (in all aspects of God's existence and glory), not merely God's will or consciousness. To pretend that God's will alone is the primary identifying characteristic of God is a straw man presentation par excellence

      Do point out where Dawson claims that god s will is the primary identifying characteristic of god. God s will being primary or not to his nature is completely irrelevent. What Dawson claims is that christian believe that the world can be influenced through god s will, full stop. Only if you disagree with that can you claim a straw man was made.

      R:God's existence, God's consciousness, God's glory, God's holiness, God's truth, God's nature, God's omnipotence, God's omniscience, all hold metaphysical unity and there is no dichotomy between these aspects of God.

      Those characteristics create a whole lot of different problems on another matter. Furthermore, they only describe how the universe is changed through god s will. In no way does adding them change the fact that the relationship between god s mind and the universe is ultimately subjective, "ie. god's will cannot help but be done".

      R:Because there is no dualism or primacy between existence and consciousness in the eternal unchanging God, then there is no dualism or primacy in the most significant aspects of reality in the universe

      Explain why god being eternal, good and so on changes the relationship between deity-universe from subjective. There might not be a dualism inside your vague concept of a deity, but that does not mean there is no dualism in the universe (unless you start to claim a panteistic approach that god IS the universe).

      R:If Dawson wishes to focus on the nature of the relationship between God and God's creations, then he is focusing on a less significant aspect of reality than the nature of the glory of the eternal, unchanging God.

      If god was not omnipowerful, I suspect most people would not care much for him. The nature of relationship between god/creation for most people is central (that includes christians). You need to to make a better argument, for now it just looks like you are stating your opinion.

      R:If Dawson wishes to cherry pick and focus on what are considered to be less significant aspects of Theism, then why does he pretend that these less significant aspects hold metaphysical primacy in Theism?

      DO prove it is a less significant aspect of theism.

      R:This is illogical because these qualities obviously do not hold metaphysical primacy for God, for theism, or for theists, according to the most basic understandings of scripture.

      You forget there are thousands of different understandings of scripture. Furthermore, god s will still holds metaphysical primacy compared to the universe, "ie. god's will cannot help but be done". You can believe whatever you want, but by sheer christian definition, god s mind holds primacy over the universe. It does not matter if the mind is omniscent, omnibenevolent, eternal and so on.

      R:Sorry to have to burst your bubble. But the sooner you face reality, the better.

      Right back at you. You still need to point out where the straw man lies. The only claim that Dawson made here is that god's will cannot help but be done. Only if you consider that claim false can you hold your argument.

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    14. >Right back at you. You still need to point out where the straw man lies. The only claim that Dawson made here is that god's will cannot help but be done.

      - As I pointed out at Dawon's blog, Bethrick is honing away at one of God's characteristics, his volition. The question of primacy, however, has to do more with the fixed, inherent nature of a person than his volition - especially when that person is God. I added a Bible verse to the article to help inform this question:

      - Nowhere in scripture is it implied that God's own nature is subservient to His will. Numbers 29.13, for example implies that God's will is metaphysically subservient to His nature: "he is God, that cannot lie."

      - Unchanging aspects of a person's inherent nature hold metaphysical primacy over a person's volition.

      Focusing on God's volition to the exclusion of other characteristics is a straw man argument - in addition to other reason's I've already pointed out.

      Delete
    15. R:As I pointed out at Dawon's blog, Bethrick is honing away at one of God's characteristics, his volition.

      Again, you can add any characteristics whatsoever to your deity, but that does not change the subjective nature of the relationship god-universe. Though, it creates huge problems with other dogma.

      Dawson also never claimed that god s will is metaphysically subservent to its nature, but you continue to press that point for some reason. The concept of the christian god is messed up as it is. Indeed, he cannot will himself into oblivion because then his eternal nature would conflict with his omnipotency. It would be the same as all-destructive bullet hiting an indestructable wall. You have a classic round square with your god, Rick.

      R:Focusing on God's volition to the exclusion of other characteristics is a straw man argument - in addition to other reason's I've already pointed out.

      God s volition seems to be a minor point in Dawson s article. You are nitpicking and distorting as usual.

      Delete
    16. Rick, when are you going to realize that your standards need to apply to everyone in your arguments?

      You claim that Dawson's presenting a "straw man" because he doesn't understand your "proper view of God" -- yet you do not demonstrate an understanding of his principles and definitions.

      The primacy of existence, for example, (at least to my understanding) is a reference to which is to be considered the grounding for reality -- is it primarily a reference to an external universal material, or a state of consciousness. So, arguing that God combines both existence and consciouness is rather beside the point.

      And:

      - If Dawson wishes to focus on the nature of the relationship between God and God's creations, then he is focusing on a less significant aspect of reality than the nature of the glory of the eternal, unchanging God.

      He's focusing on an aspect of reality that *he* considers significant. You don't get to decide what is, and is not, significant -- and as one of those alleged creations, I can see why that would be an issue of primary importance. Furthermore, it's an area where you might be able to detect an effect, rather than simply making suppositions and guesswork that rely upon one's notions and intuitions.

      This is illogical because these qualities obviously do not hold metaphysical primacy for God, for theism, or for theists, according to the most basic understandings of scripture.

      If a logical system is correct, and perfect, then it should be out to the outermost extents; if it is broken out there, why should one suspect anything is correct inside?

      those things considered to hold true metaphysical primacy in Theism.

      Again -- why should he rely upon theists to tell him what is important?

      When people sense the need to contrive convoluted straw-men arguments, there are most likely some things they are attempting to avoid.

      Pot. Kettle. Black -- this coming from the person who went to great lengths to argue that because Phoenix did not have precise decibel levels in their laws for noise complaints, they were engaged in persecuting Christians. Or that because there were not syllogisms in a philosopher's papers, he was not using logic.

      So, Rick, what are you avoiding?

      Delete
    17. Anonymous,

      >Again, you can add any characteristics whatsoever to your deity, but that does not change the subjective nature of the relationship god-universe.

      - I'm sorry, Anonymous, but the relationship between God and the universe is not allowed in Dawson's argument. No first causes are allowed to be discussed. That would apparently be self-refuting for Dawson. Dawson admits this exclusion in his own writing. So much for the "objectivity" of objectivism" :-)

      I couldn't help but add this additional point to the post:

      II. Dawson's Logical Fallacies

      "The objective argument which I defend (actually special pleading) is not that god-belief is subjective because its god allegedly created itself (straw-man: excluding the nature of God's creativity) . Rather, the argument is that god-belief is subjective because it ascribes metaphysical primacy to a subject..."(12/26/08).

      As noted in the previous quote, Dawson's main "objective" argument includes at least two logical fallacies. Firstly, in accordance with the tenets of critical thing, Dawson is not offering an objective argument at all, which is a bit ironic. According to both the scientific method and the basics of critical thinking, any influential variables should be included in any hypothesis in order to achieve valid, objective results. The nature of God's creative abilities is certainly a valid aspect to consider when attempting to honestly evaluate subject-object relationships and Theism. But Dawson arbitrarily removes this question because it disproves his argument. "The objective argument which I defend" ahem, is a subjective one. As Dawson states in the article, "Now it’s well and good that a system of god-belief holds that its god did not create itself." This subject is actually not very "well and good" for Dawson's argument, because this is quite enough to show that volition and consciousness do not hold metaphysical primacy in Theism. If God cannot whimsically cause Himself to exist and not exist, then there is no metaphysical primacy of volition is Theism. By excluding this important point, Dawson is committing the fallacy of special pleading and he is offering a straw-man God whose unique creative abilities are being ignored in the subject object relationships of Theism.

      So Dawson chooses to avoid first causes and God's creative nature, well, Dawson's straw men pop up in other areas as well, as noted at his website:

      Delete
    18. R:I'm sorry, Anonymous, but the relationship between God and the universe is not allowed in Dawson's argument. No first causes are allowed to be discussed. That would apparently be self-refuting for Dawson. Dawson admits this exclusion in his own writing. So much for the "objectivity" of objectivism" :-)

      I am used not to take your word for anything, Rick. Unless you provide direct links to your claims, that is no more than empty rhetorics. But discussing the first cause would be a red herring in this case.

      Furthermore, I never mentioned the first cause in the discussion. We are talking about the present relationship god-universe in the christian dogma.

      R:The nature of God's creative abilities is certainly a valid aspect to consider when attempting to honestly evaluate subject-object relationships and Theism.

      Nope, it is not. Your additional characteristics only serve to determine HOW the universe is influenced through god s mind, not WHAT is the nature of the present relationship god-universe. For the who-knows-what-time, the relationship god-universe is subjective by the sheer christian definition, ie. god's will cannot help but be done.

      R:This subject is actually not very "well and good" for Dawson's argument, because this is quite enough to show that volition and consciousness do not hold metaphysical primacy in Theism.

      In the relationship god-universe, god holds metaphysical primacy according to christianity. That is Dawson s claim. He does not go into details with the confused deity concept in this passage. Do you understand there can be more than one perspective on relationships?

      R:If God cannot whimsically cause Himself to exist and not exist, then there is no metaphysical primacy of volition is Theism.

      That is the problem of the confusing concept itself. Why can t you understand that he is speaking only about the relationship god-universe? He does not include an analysis of god s nature in that passage.

      R:So Dawson chooses to avoid first causes and God's creative nature, well, Dawson's straw men pop up in other areas as well, as noted at his website

      The first cause has nothing to do with the present relationship god-universe and god s creative nature has no bearing on the subjectivity or objectivity of the relation between deity and universe.

      Delete
    19. >But discussing the first cause would be a red herring in this case....The first cause has nothing to do with the present relationship god-universe and god s creative nature has no bearing on the subjectivity or objectivity of the relation between deity and universe

      - Like Dawson, you are not approaching the subject objectively. And you are avoiding questions of ultimate reality. There is no reason to limit the discussion of primacy to a creator-created, subject-object relationship. Who is to say that metaphysical primacy is only understood in narrowly defined humanistic terms? If God cannot will Himself to exist or not to exist, it what possible manner is theist reality subjective? If God cannot will himself to sin or to lie - against his eternal nature - in what possible manner is ultimate reality subjective according to Theism?

      Dawson's argument is a case of special pleading using arbitrary conditions and an arbitrary god.

      Delete
    20. R:There is no reason to limit the discussion of primacy to a creator-created, subject-object relationship.

      You accused Dawson on a specific straw man. He did not talk about the nature of your deity concept in that quote, hence your accusation is groundless. He only spoke about the present relationship between god-universe. Again, I must repeat myself that a problem can be viewed from more than one perspective.

      R:And you are avoiding questions of ultimate reality.

      Because it has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

      R:Who is to say that metaphysical primacy is only understood in narrowly defined humanistic terms?

      We are humans and we use humanistic terms, Rick. I doubt dauphins are interested in philosophy.

      R:If God cannot will himself to sin or to lie - against his eternal nature - in what possible manner is ultimate reality subjective according to Theism?

      Why are you pressing the same false assertion over and over again? I am going to quote myself and this time point out precisely what you disagree with:

      "Your additional characteristics only serve to determine HOW the universe is influenced through god s mind, not WHAT is the nature of the present relationship god-universe. For the who-knows-what-time, the relationship god-universe is subjective by the sheer christian definition, ie. god's will cannot help but be done."

      Since we have no knowledge of your "ultimate" reality, most people limit themselves to the reality they are familiar with.

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    21. >R:And you are avoiding questions of ultimate reality....Because it has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

      - This is quite funny. Ultimate reality has nothing to do with primacy?

      Dawson is essentially limiting the parameters of his argument to conditions that suit him. There is no objective reason to limit the discussion of primacy in Theism to a Creator-created, subject-object relationship. According to the philosophical definition of subjective reality, God's own mind and God's own existence satisfy the qualifications for discerning that reality in accordance with God's existence is not subjective.

      The philosophical definition of subjective offers: relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.

      The distinction between knowing and being is enough to disprove Dawson's argument. If God cannot will Himself to exist or not to exist, then God's actual existence is not subject to the knowledge of His existence or God's will. If God cannot will Himself to sin or to lie - against His eternal nature - then God's actual nature is not subject to the knowledge of his nature or His will to change it.

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    22. R:This is quite funny. Ultimate reality has nothing to do with primacy?

      There is no ultimate reality for most people. There is just reality.

      R:Dawson is essentially limiting the parameters of his argument to conditions that suit him.

      Red herring. You initially claimed that it was a straw man. Now you just say that you do not like the way Dawson analyses a single aspect of your god concept.

      R:According to the philosophical definition of subjective reality

      Dawson explicitly shows what he means by subjective reality. You are the one commiting the straw man fallacy by ignoring his explanation.

      R:If God cannot will Himself to sin or to lie - against His eternal nature - then God's actual nature is not subject to the knowledge of his nature or His will to change it.

      How many times do we need to do the same thing? How many times do I have to repeat myself that god s characteristics have nothing to do with the objective/subjective relationship between deity-universe?

      "Your additional characteristics only serve to determine HOW the universe is influenced through god s mind, not WHAT is the nature of the present relationship god-universe. For the who-knows-what-time, the relationship god-universe is subjective by the sheer christian definition, ie. god's will cannot help but be done."

      I gave you my quote. Point out what you disagree with or retract your accusations of a straw man.

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    23. Dawson explicitly shows what he means by subjective reality.

      - Yes, and if he comes up with a defintion that is different from standard accepted definitions, is that a very objective approace to the subject? No.

      The definition I found and posted is basically the standard definition, as echoed at another site:

      Subjective: relating to or determined by the mind as the subject of experience; characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind; phenomenal; arising out of or identified by means of one’s awareness.

      http://www.lightouch.com/subjobj.htm

      Why should I or anyone accept Dawson's or Ayn Rand's subjective personal definitions of "subjective" when we are supposed to be disucssing metaphysics on an objective level playing field?

      If you torture any set of definitions long enough, you can get them to confess anything you want to. :-)

      So much for "objectivism"

      >How many times do I have to repeat myself that god s characteristics have nothing to do with the objective/subjective relationship between deity-universe?

      - Dawson can begin by using conventionally accepted definitons of subjective. This would perhaps help him to see that he is setting up arbitrary parameters in his arguments in order to try and prove a point.

      Why should anyone at all accept Dawson's personal defintions of metaphysical concepts over standard definitions?

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    24. Red herring at full speed. You still did not retract your claim of a straw man even if you did not provide any proof of a distortion of the deist position from Dawson.

      R:Why should I or anyone accept Dawson's or Ayn Rand's subjective personal definitions of "subjective" when we are supposed to be disucssing metaphysics on an objective level playing field?

      For the same reasons we accept christian definitions of different terms. Like omnipotency not meaning exactly omnipotency.

      The goal of interraction is to correctly convey information. There is no problem with using any kind of definition, provided that it is clearly explained.

      Furthermore, by the dictionnary definition you provided god s relation to the universe is subjective, i.e. "relating to or determined by the mind as the subject of experience; characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind". The fact that the mind is influenced by its own nature does not chage the subjective nature of the relationship.

      R:Dawson can begin by using conventionally accepted definitons of subjective.

      Why should he if he clearly explains his terms and the information is conveyed correctly?

      R:Why should anyone at all accept Dawson's personal defintions of metaphysical concepts over standard definitions?

      You are nitpicking at small holes at this stage. The goal is to convey information. Hence, it is irrelevent what definitions are used if they are well explained beforehand.

      Delete
    25. Dawson's emphasis on subject-object, Creator-created relationships is an arbitrary distinction. In creating his own definitions and defining limited arbitrary parameters, Dawson is only advancing his own disconnected definitions and theories. His argument is not even aimed at the true relationship between metaphysical subjectivism and the nature of the God described in scripture. It is a straw man argument supported by straw-man definitions utilizing a straw-man God.

      Delete
    26. R:Dawson's emphasis on subject-object, Creator-created relationships is an arbitrary distinction.

      He has every right to emphasis whatever characteristics he wants. You cannot rely on scripture to claim that one cannot emphasis on an individual characteristic of your deity.

      R:In creating his own definitions and defining limited arbitrary parameters, Dawson is only advancing his own disconnected definitions and theories.

      Prove those are disconnected definitions and theories, do not just assert them like usual.

      If you disagree with Dawson s claim, than you disagree with the claim god's will cannot help but be done. Either you can accuse Dawson of a straw man and be a heretic for rejecting a fondamental christian claim or you can retract your accusations.

      R:It is a straw man argument supported by straw-man definitions utilizing a straw-man God

      Nonsense, Rick. That sentence is a complete word salad.

      a. There is no straw-man definition. Dawson is using his own definition, not misrepresenting the definition of someone else.

      b. You will be considered a heretic by your fellow christians by claiming god s will cannot help but be done (used in Dawson s argument). It is a common religious claim that define the relationship between deity-universe as subjective.

      c. You claim of a straw man argument is also ridiculous. That is Dawson s argument, not the misrepresenting of the argument of someone else.

      Maybe turning Dawson s argument into a syllogism will help? I am out of ideas at this point and you stubbormly refuse to point out exactly what you disagree with in my quote.

      1. Subjective is defined by the dictionnary as relating to or determined by the mind

      2. The Universe is shaped by god s mind (the fact that it is shaped according to the nature of the mind does not invalidate the claim above)

      3. Conclusion: the relationship between god-universe is subjective

      What do you disagree with in that syllogism, Rick?

      Delete
    27. >He has every right to emphasis whatever characteristics he wants.

      - Yes, Dawson is living in a free society where he may do as he pleases. However, if he wants to pretend he is offering an objective argument, then he should not use subjective quirky definitions of phenomena. This is simply unacceptable.

      >There is no straw-man definition. Dawson is using his own definition...

      - Dawson uses subjective definitions in order to set up straw man arguments.

      >1. Subjective is defined by the dictionnary as relating to or determined by the mind

      2. The Universe is shaped by god s mind (the fact that it is shaped according to the nature of the mind does not invalidate the claim above)

      3. Conclusion: the relationship between god-universe is subjective

      What do you disagree with in that syllogism, Rick?

      I disagree because, like Dawson, you are attempting to arbitrarily limit the parameters of the discussion.

      The created universe is not all that exists. God, the creator of the universe, also exists according to Theism. As I've pointed out several times already, God's holiness is not subject to his will or his mind, it is an eternal aspect of his nature. God cannot lie. God's existence and nature are objective, not subjective, therefore, Theism is not a "subjective position" as Dawson claims. Quite simple.

      Delete
    28. R:However, if he wants to pretend he is offering an objective argument, then he should not use subjective quirky definitions of phenomena. This is simply unacceptable

      We have been at it before. There is no harm in using one s own definitions, provided they are explained. Do you really not understand or are you just being dishonest?

      Furthermore, just analysing a single aspect of a phenomena does not make one s argument subjective or false. At best you can argue for incompletness, but certainly not for a straw man.

      R:I disagree because, like Dawson, you are attempting to arbitrarily limit the parameters of the discussion.

      Explain why the discussion cannot be limited to one aspect of your deity concept as I have asked you before. You have no basis in scripture to claim that single aspects of your deity cannot be discussed.

      R:The created universe is not all that exists. God, the creator of the universe, also exists according to Theism.

      Your point is irrelevent. What is discussed is the relationship between the supposedely created universe and its alleged creator. Dawson s explains that. Even if after his explanation you claim he is putting a straw-man, you are either dishonest or unable to comprehend basic english.

      R:God's existence and nature are objective, not subjective, therefore, Theism is not a "subjective position" as Dawson claims. Quite simple.

      Again you repeat yourself and ignore your opponent. I explained to you why your point is irrelevent, but you continue to press on regardless. Let us try once more and read it several times so it sunks in:

      God s nature blah-blah is irrelevent in the discussion. I told you that god s characteristics only serve to explain HOW the universe is influenced through god s mind, not WHAT (the question analysed by Dawson) is the nature of the present relationship god-universe.

      R:God's existence and nature are objective, not subjective, therefore, Theism is not a "subjective position" as Dawson claims. Quite simple.

      Non sequitor. Humanity's existence and nature are also objective, but that has no bearing on its objective/subjective relationship to the universe.

      Again, you fail at pointing out where exactly the straw man lies in Dawson s argument. You are only nagging that he analizes a single aspect of your god without giving any concrete reasons why he cannot do it.

      Delete
    29. Dawson claims that the quirky definitions of objectivism are consistent: "And the definition which Objectivism provides for the concept ‘subjective’ is entirely consistent with its metaphysics and epistemology."

      However, with respect to God's thoughts and nature, aspects of the mind / body duality come into play and various objectivists hold different explanations of this type of relationship, as noted by Daniel Barnes:

      "Nathaniel Branden has tentatively plumped for panpsychism. Roger Bissell holds what appears to be a version of identity theory, with hard-deterministic implications. Binswanger has the above causal substance dualism, which is apparently "controversial" among Objectivists. But it is hardly any "spookier" than Rand and Peikoff's position, which from what can be made out, is a vague but interactionist position."

      Obviously, there is no cohesive metaphysical logic in objectivism with regard to this subject.

      Delete
    30. That is a complete red herring that has nothing to do with the alleged accusation of a straw man on Dawson s part.

      Delete
    31. Red herring subject?

      Ayn Rand is quite incoherent on this subject:

      1. "Just as there can be no dichotomy between mind and body, so there can be none between the true and the good. Even in regard to metaphysically given facts, cognition and evaluation cannot be sundered. Cognition apart from evaluation is purposeless; it becomes the arbitrary desire for “pure knowledge” as an end in itself. Evaluation apart from cognition is non-objective; it becomes the whim of pursuing an “I wish” not based on any “It is.”

      http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_fv

      Rand is wrong. The differences between true and good are in no way similar to the differences between mind and body. Rand simply makes a bald assertion - which is a logical fallacy. Mind is ethereal and not quantifiable, body has substance and is measurable and quantifiable. Truth and goodness do not offer these contrasts.

      Therefore, if Rand is way off in her bald assertions about mind / body duality, we cannot assume any further objectivist assertions built upon this false foundation have any merit.

      There is definitely a lot more to be said regarding the mind / body relationship and subjectivism:

      2. The subjective argument relates to dualism:

      An important fact is that minds perceive intramental states differently than sensory phenomena,[31] and this cognitive difference results in mental and physical phenomena having seemingly disparate properties. The subjective argument holds that these properties are irreconcilable under a physical mind.

      Mental events have a certain subjective quality to them, whereas physical seem not to. So, for example, one may ask what a burned finger feels like, or what the blueness of the sky looks like, or what nice music sounds like.[32] Philosophers of mind call the subjective aspects of mental events qualia (or raw feels). There is something that it's like to feel pain, to see a familiar shade of blue, and so on. There are qualia involved in these mental events. And the claim is that qualia seem particularly difficult to reduce to anything physical.[1]

      Thomas Nagel first characterized the problem of qualia for physicalistic monism in his article, "What is it like to be a bat?".

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism_(philosophy_of_mind)

      3. In philosophy of mind, dualism is the assumption that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are not identical.

      3. During the 19th and 20th centuries, materialistic monism has became the norm.[9] Still, in addition to already discussed theories of dualism (particularly the Christian and Cartesian Models) there are new theories in the defense of dualism. Naturalistic dualism comes from Australian Philosopher, David Chalmers (born 1966) who argues there is an explanatory gap between objective and subjective experience that cannot be bridged by reductionism because consciousness is, at least, logically autonomous of the physical properties upon which it supervenes. According to Chalmers, a naturalistic account of property dualism requires a new fundamental category of properties described by new laws of supervenience; the challenge being analogous to that of understanding electricity based on the mechanistic and Newtonian models of materialism prior to Maxwell's equations.

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

      4. "The temper of Realism is to de-antropomorphize; to order man and mind to their proper place among the world of finite things; on the one hand, to divest physical things of the coloring which they have received from the vanity or arrogance of the mind; on the other, to assign them along with minds their due measure of self-existence."
      -- Samuel Alexander

      http://www.benbest.com/philo/objsub.html


      Delete
    32. We are speaking about a precise quote from Dawson and his alleged straw man.

      So far you have been digging your hole only deeper, by attackimg objectivism as a whole instead of addressing the initial topic

      Delete
    33. I asked for a specific answer from Dawson at his blog regarding his "entirely consistent metaphysics and epistemology" and so far he has refused to answer my question.

      "So, Dawson, is your personal mind/body explanation "entirely consistent" with panpsychism, identity theory, causal substance dualism, or Pekoff's interactionist position? Or, do you offer yet a fifth perfectly consistent theory?"

      All he can seem to produce are tangential offerings of philosophical newspeak. So much for your precise answers from Dawson.

      Delete
    34. Rick, you're very quick to demand others answer your questions, and to pronounce victory when you think they have failed to do so.
      You're less quick in answering questions put to you - I've been waiting for about a year for answers from you on your "Identity" post.

      You apply different rules to yourself and your own beliefs.

      Delete
    35. Beginning in December 2011, Havok became so frustrated with his lack of answers that all he could do was to post unsubstantiated slander against me. He is still unable to validate his slander with any comments made before December 7, 2011.

      With regard to the question of slander and Internet etiquette, most commenters seem to believe that ignoring a person who slanders is probably the best solution

      Delete
    36. Is there any wonder why I got (and get) frustrated with YOUR lack of responses Rick?
      When you can't provide a response, your resort to childish tactics such as this.
      When others don't provide a response to your liking, or within your time frame, you smear them.

      One rule for you, one rule for everyone else?

      Delete
    37. R:I asked for a specific answer from Dawson at his blog regarding his "entirely consistent metaphysics and epistemology" and so far he has refused to answer my question.

      You are engaging in an obvious red herring, Rick. How many times do I need to remind you we are dealing with a specific quote from Dawson and we have his own blogpost where he defines his terminology?

      You claimed it was a straw man, but you miserably fail to show where it lies, since Dawson s argument is consistent with the terminology he uses.

      It would have been better of you to also provide a link to Dawson s response. At least it would have looked like you were trying to be honest.

      Delete
  12. Rick,

    if you go over to Dawson's blog, there is presently a debate going on about this. My friend Michael has been going at it with Dawson.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard, Thanks for the heads up, but I've had enough of Bethrick's obfuscation. What do you think personally about the two questions I asked:

      1. Do you agree that the theist God is one who is described as both eternally existent and eternally conscious?

      2. Do you understand why this point refutes Bethrick's false straw-man argument that Theism is "ultimately a subjective worldview"?

      Your thoughts would be appreciated.

      Delete
  13. Rick,

    1. yes

    2. Dawson's claim is that Christianity is untenable, invalid and false, because according to Christianity reality is subject to God's will and therefore it violates "the primacy of existence". I have always asked dawson simple questions, for example, "so, what?", "what's wrong with that?"

    Objectivism is dumb. Plus, it's not even taken seriously in philosophical circles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >reality is subject to God's will and therefore it violates "the primacy of existence".

      - What I've been trying to get across is that, according to Theism, ultimately there is no primacy of existence or primacy of consciousness. Please take a minute to try and break free from this paradigm. I'm not sure why people are having such a difficult time understanding this.

      Let me offer an example, could God will Himself not to exist? No. This is an incoherent proposal precisely because there is ultimately no dichotomy between existence and consciousness in God's eternal existence - do you see? Don't just accept the dichotomy Dawson if offering - think it through.

      Delete
    2. Rick, I think you're thinking in terms of temporal precedence - that god's will, nature, etc are all just as eternal as each other.

      As has been pointed out, Dawson's argument rests upon metaphysical precedence, which as anonrus pointed out, is basically that existence if subservient to god's will - ie. god's will cannot help but be done.

      Delete
  14. Rick,

    I don't think I ever have.

    The thing is, the bible says God is in control of the universe. For example, he upholds it day by day.

    In other words, he is in control of existence.


    I don't really pay much attention to foolish atheist arguments.

    We need to live by faith, rick.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Richard,

    Existence means all of existence, not just our specific physical universe. If you don't differentiate between our present universe and the sum total of all existence - then it's easy to fall into Dawson's little straw-man fallacy.

    Though God is in control of the universe - there are certain things that God cannot do according to logic. One of those things is to make Himself not exist. With people like Bethrick, Dawkins and other atheists, you need to try to be logically precise in order to reveal the kinds of subtle logical fallacies that are presented in order to attempt to logically disprove God's existence.

    I am not claiming that we will ever know everything about God, or that we will be able to fully explain all the mysteries regarding God's existence. However, God has given us logic and reason as tools that we may use to the best of our ability in order to glorify God. Jesus is the Logos - the Logic made flesh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rick: Though God is in control of the universe - there are certain things that God cannot do according to logic. One of those things is to make Himself not exist.
      On the face of it, God willing himself to not exist is not inherently illogical. It seems to rest upon claims that god is logically/metaphysically necessary, ie. successful ontological argument.

      But there are no successful ontological arguments, and so the possibility of God willing himself into non-existence cannot be said to be illogical (at least as far as I understand it).

      Delete
  16. Havok,

    got it all figured out. don't you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not at all Richard.

      I do however, at least try to work things out, something you haven't seemed inclined to do much of in our discussions :-)

      Delete
    2. Ps. If you would care to change your habits, and actually point out where I'm mistaken, I would appreciate it.

      Delete
  17. Havok,

    You need to get saved.

    That's all that matters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yet you can't give me any good reasons to think that I need to get saved.
      You can't even give me a coherent description of the being that is supposed to save me!

      Delete
    2. And nothing is said of "Richard/Nide/Hezekiah" obfuscation here?

      Richard, you pillock, you have to prove that your god exists first before you can go rattling on about the need to get "saved".

      Havok asked you to show where he was mistaken, and you refused to do so. You obviously can't.

      Delete
    3. Reynold, Richard's certainty that his god exists is Cartesian. After his demonstration that he exists, Decartes goes on to demonstrate that god exists. He claims that god is so awesome that Descartes could not have come up with the idea of god, that no limited being could have come up with the idea of god, and therefore that god itself must have put the idea of god in Decartes mind. From there he asserts that god therefore exists (seemingly with the same certainty he has that he himself exists).
      As I pointed out to Richard, and as Decartes himself acknowledges, his idea of god is limited (since god is so awesome). This indicates that Decartes could have indeed come up with the idea of god - and that's assuming we accept all of Decartes other premises leading up to this claim.

      Richard, as seems to be his way, said nothing about this obvious problem with his god belief, yet continued to assert with certainty that his god exists.

      In short, Richard is certain that god exists because he is certain that god exists - there's nothing further backing up his claims, and his certainty of gods existence forms the foundation for the rest of his claims regarding Christianity.

      Delete
  18. Havok,

    You can't play make believe for ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard, please show that I'm playing make believe, or retract the accusation.

      Delete
  19. Havok,

    There's nothing to retract. In our lengthy discussion I gave you reasons why God exists.

    the claim that the universe is indifferent is just as incoherent as your claim that God doesn't exist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard, I said "good reasons". The reasons you gave were terrible, as I was able to point out. For instance, claiming certainty that something exists or is real, and basing that claim on your personal subjective feelings of conviction in the truth of the claim is terrible - yet you seem to be happy to rest your beliefs on such a shoddy foundation, and build an entire delusional belief system on top.

      Merely saying that my claims are incoherent simply won't to. You need to show it, as I did through our lengthy discussion, pointing out how your beliefs are incompatible with each other and with reality, and how your concept of god is incoherent.

      Delete
  20. Havok,

    I am dissapointed at you.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Havok,

    Because after everything you told me you could be imagining, you come out and say that is all real now.

    You've pressed me beyond my limits. Now, I have to play some of my old games.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boohoo Richard.

      I said I could be wrong but I gave reasons why that wasn't probable. You didn't even bother interacting with what I wrote, you simply clung to the narrow possibility that I could be wrong.

      On the other hand, I worked hard to prise any justification. from you, and when you could be bothered presenting any I pointed out problems. You then failed to interact with my observations.

      And yet you're now upset that I've pushed you too far?
      My positions haven't changed and you still haven't interacted with my points. If anything it should be me saying that your continued obfuscation and lack of interaction pushed me too far.
      Thankfully I've got a little more patience than that.

      Delete
    2. Ps. does "some of my old games" cover the sock puppetting nonsense that I remember going on with you old "persona's"?

      Delete
  22. Havok,

    see my latest post. it wil be of interest to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Commented there, though previous sketches of the way I approach knowledge provided solutions to the problems you face.

      In my comment, I also pointed out that your approach is subject to similar problems, and asked you to provide a solution. Since you've been loath to provide detail in our past discussions, I don't expect you to provide any now either :-)

      Delete
    2. Ps. Richard, I'd still like you to retract the claim that I'm playing make believe, since you've not offered any reason to think that is actually the case.

      Delete
  23. Hello Rick,

    In case you weren't aware, Dawson Bethrick has posted a detailed reply to your blog entry above:

    Rick Warden’s Ill-fated Effort to Refute the Argument from Metaphysical Primacy
    Monday, November 25, 2013

    http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2013/11/rick-wardens-ill-fated-effort-to-refute.html

    Ydemoc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Ydemoc,

      Dawson is quite free to write whatever he would like to at his blog.

      There is generally a lot of gratuitous fluff in Dawson's posts. Let's zoom in on some points.

      1. Dawson, and other "objectivists" prefer their own personal subjective definitions of what "subjective" means:

      "The “proceeding from” aspect (of the word "subjective") here is closer to how I have used it in my blog,"

      And their personal subjective definitions of the mind-body relationship are, of course, all that count:

      "For one thing, how various individuals define “the mind / body relationship” is entirely irrelevant to the matter at hand."

      So, to summarize, "Objectivists" begin with their own subjective definitions of objective phenomena and then pretend to build an objective structure on that foundation. Need I go on?

      http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2013/11/rick-wardens-ill-fated-effort-to-refute.html

      Once you cut through the sophistry and fluff, there really isn't much left to go on. That's probably why they always end up going back to Ayn Rand quotes when they get stuck. :)

      Delete
    2. As I noted in my previous post, Dawson's own description of his view, from his website Kathalon, offers that there is an "objective position" and "subjective position" that are "antithetical metaphysical viewpoints" in an either-or dichotomy.

      Then, in this post Ydemoc linked to, Dawson claims,

      "The instantiation of metaphysical subjectivism in Christianity according to my argument is not between the Christian god as knowing subject and itself as an object of its own consciousness, but between the Christian god as knowing subject and everything that exists which is distinct from the Christian god, such as the universe, the world, everyone in the world, every atom, molecule and subatomic particle that it is said to have created, etc."

      and Dawson links to a post entitled, "The Inherent Subjectivism of God-belief"

      Should we remind Dawson that a metaphysical claim for the "primacy of existence" versus the "primacy of consciousness" does not allow for this type of selective cherry picking as to what phenomena we can examine. The biblical God is both eternally existent and eternally conscious. And the nature of the biblical God is not "irrelevant" with respect to the nature of personal Christian beliefs. If Dawson would like to demonstrate how an eternally existent and eternally conscious God is not metaphysically possible, then he could choose to offer such an argument, but he does not,. He simply states that such a concept is "irrelevant."

      It seems that Dawson is attempting to offer a "metaphysical" argument that applies universally while at the same time attempting to offer a criticism of Christian thought according to his predefined parameters. In attempting both in one argument and avoiding the central issues, calling them "irrelevant" he has failed miserably.

      Some advice for Dawson: If your argument for the primacy of existence is supposed to be universal and a refutation of Christianity, then you must take a hypothetical look at biblical Christianity with an eternally existent and eternally conscious God who cannot create himself. If your theory cannot handle this, then it does not refute Christianity in any way shape or form.

      Delete
  24. Hi Rick,

    Thanks for the reply.

    As perhaps you're aware, Dawson has answered you in the comments section of his blog. I also contributed a few comments. You'll find them in this thread by scrolling down a bit:

    http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11714522&postID=3530478813861287194&isPopup=true

    While reading your comments above, I was reminded of Anton Thorn, and his many essays dealing with theism. Perhaps you're already familiar with his work. If not, below you can find links to just a few of his essays dealing precisely with some of the objections you've raised with regard to the issue of metaphysical primacy and how it relates to god-belief claims.

    The Issue of Metaphysical Primacy
    http://www.reocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/AFE/Metaphysical_Primacy.htm:

    The Ruling Consciousness
    Is the notion 'God' supposed to refer to a form of consciousness which creates existence? If so, then the notion 'God' is an explicit expression of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.
    http://www.reocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/AFE/Ruling_Consciousness.htm

    The Argument from the Fact Existence
    http://www.reocities.com/antonthorn_2000/AFE/AFE1.htm

    Possible Objections - To the Argument from Existence - Examined and Disabled
    http://www.reocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/AFE/Objections.htm

    How the Claim "God Exists" Contradicts Itself
    http://www.reocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/AFE/God_Contradiction.htm

    Osborne’s Criticism of the Argument from Existence
    http://www.reocities.com/antonthorn_2000/AFE/Osborne.htm

    You can find other Thorn essays here:
    http://www.reocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/AFE.html

    And here:
    http://www.reocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/Thorn2.html

    Thanks.

    Ydemoc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ydemoc,

      I do not frequent Dawson's blog so I am not aware of his blog comments there.

      The link you offered regarding "metaphysical primacy" refers to writings of an Ayn Rand "objectivist" who claims, "The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness..." This is not an objective metaphysical approach but, rather, presupposes that God does not exist from the onset. As I have stated several times already, the biblical theist position holds that God is both eternally existent and eternally conscious. The "Metaphysical vs. Manmade" dichotomy is merely presuppositional atheism and is not metaphysically objective. A truly objective metaphysical approach would allow for the possibility of God's existence as a metaphysical condition. Dawson and his compatriots do not offer such an objective approach to philosophy and, thus, it is a subjective one.

      There is no need to read five Randian essays in order to make such an assessment. The scientific method calls for a fair and unbiased test of a hypothesis on the conditions of that hypothesis. Rand, Dawson and others do not allow such an objective metaphysical test. They simply presume that God is a "man-made" idea. This is a weak argument at the onset. As opposed to subjective presuppositions, philosophical academicians such as William Lane Craig offer logical arguments with clear and true premises, logical consequence, and a compelling conclusion. Ask Dawson to provide a clear summary of his "argument" against God's existence with succinct premises and a conclusion and you will likely find nothing but long-winded excuses, the likes of which I do not have time to address.

      Delete
    2. Yedomic,

      In contrast to Dawson's "argument" against God's existence, which is based on some pretty strong presuppositions, and, as far as I have seen, has not been summarized in a clear structure, logical and compelling arguments for God's existence are more compelling. And this is one of the main reasons that William Lane Craig is the reigning metaphysical debate champion of the world.

      Most any definition you find regarding a "philosophical argument" will entail specific points and premises with key transition words, such as "therefore" forming a conclusion. Where exactly has Dawson summarized his key premises and conclusion? As is the case with Stephen Law and his "EGC argument," I don't have time to guess and interpret what the specific premises might actually be.

      Strong philosophical arguments CAN BE summarized because the arguments incorporate logical and succinct principles.

      The following is one of WL Craig's arguments:

      Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
      Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.
      Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.[2]

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2011/10/moral-argument-as-proof-of-gods.html

      To disprove it, either the premises must be proven to be false or unsupported, or the form must be shown to be illogical.

      I had created a logical argument that can be summarized as follows:

      Argument from a created, unique, hierarchical and interdependent universe

      P1. Non-living, unique, complex, hierarchical and interdependent systems (A) function together in the universe in a manner that allows for life.
      P2. Either (A) are the result of intelligent creation, the result of chance, or of necessity.
      P3. All new forms of (A) that we observe are created systems made with, or aided by, the purposeful use of intelligence and energy.
      P4. No new forms of (A) that we observe are systems that have occurred by chance or necessity.
      P5. Therefore, the best explanation is that the (A) of the universe have been created by a powerful and intelligent being.
      P6. The only being that could have created the universe is a supremely powerful and intelligent one.
      C. Therefore, God exists.

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/03/organizing-principle-of-universe.html

      So far, the premises and form have not been seriously challenged at my blog. Therefore, the argument remains a strong one.

      Delete
    3. No answer from Ydemoc.

      I asked Dawson for the same information at his blog. Now that Dawson has enabled comment moderating at his blog, I've decided to post the same comment here at my blog as a reference. The following was posted at 11.30 December 24, 2013 at Dawson's blog:

      The Pseudonym poster Ydemoc visited my blog and informed me of the above published post. I asked Ydemoc to provide a summary of the specific premises and logical syntax of the argument, if he could, as referenced in the above post:

      "In summary, the argument from metaphysical primacy concludes that the claim “God exists” cannot be true (and consequently, that god-belief is inherently irrational) because it necessarily assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, which is not true."

      So far, Ydemoc has not posted any such premises and syntax. Why don't you help him out, Dawson and clearly define what you consider to be a strong argument against God's existence within the structure of a logical argument, as opposed to piecemeal links to blog posts here and there. When you or anyone has such a logical argument, do post it at the following link:

      http://tinyurl.com/create.php

      In the mean time, Dawson, you might want to lend your creative writing talents to Reader's Digest or another publisher that tends to emphasize eloquent language and proper grammar over logical philosophical arguments.

      As noted at Dawson's blog:

      This blog does not allow anonymous comments.
      Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author.

      We'll see if he can deliver the goods. :)

      Delete

You are welcome to post on-topic comments but, please, no uncivilized blog abuse or spamming. Thank you!