January 12, 2014

Three Refutations of Objectivism

It's not every day that a secular humanist information source rips  into a secular philosophy that promotes secular atheism. That in and of itself speaks volumes. Nonetheless, RatonalWiki offers some choice words on Ayn Rand's philosophy, “Objectivism has not met wide acceptance in academia. When they bother to comment on it at all, academic philosophers usually dismiss it as a rather juvenile imitation of a real philosophy.” RationalWiki is not the Rosetta Stone of academic authority, but they do bring up some valid points, some of which I had already raised.

There are a number of reasons why a person would be justified in rejecting Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. First, it promotes an extremely warped value system that is simply untenable for society. Therefore, it may be rejected for pragmatic reasons. Second, it stands in conflict with valid science. Third, when its propositions are examined they are riddled with logical fallacies, especially with regard to Rand's primacy argument.

I.    Pragmatic Considerations Refute Objectivism

One pragmatic test of any philosophy is to ask the question, “If everyone adopted this philosophy, would this create a functional and desirable society? In the case of Rand’s Objectivism, the answer is a resounding no.
 
Consider what would society be like if everyone adopted the ideals of Objectivism.  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states, “Conspicuous by their absence from Rand's list of virtues are the “virtues of benevolence,” such as kindness, charity, generosity, and forgiveness.” Objectivism promotes selfishness as an ideal. Because Objectivism promotes selfishness and relativistic ethics, it is not really all that surprising that Ayn Rand glorified and romanticized non-consensual forced sexual advances of the hero (what most dictionaries would define as rape) for the sake of pleasure in her novel The Fountainhead, as quoted:
 
"She tried to tear herself away from him. The effort broke against his arms that had not felt it. Her fists beat against his shoulders, against his face. He moved one hand, took her two wrists and pinned them behind her, under his arm, wrenching her shoulder blades.…She fell back against the dressing table, she stood crouching, her hands clasping the edge behind her, her eyes wide, colorless, shapeless in terror. He was laughing. There was the movement of laughter on his face, but no sound.…Then he approached. He lifted her without effort. She let her teeth sink into his hand and felt blood on the tip of her tongue. He pulled her head back and he forced her mouth open against his."

RationalWiki elaborates on the pragmatic problems with Rand’s ideals:

“Again, Ayn Rand holds the position that it is immoral to give, or to receive aid to another of any kind. She explains this in an interview in 1959 where she specifically says that man must not live for others, and that altrusim is immoral.

"This can be criticized on several grounds. Firstly, this means that it is immoral to be a child, or to raise a child, since a child requires constant attention and aid from the parents. This probably explains why Rand never had children, and also means that if the human species adopted this, we would be gone after one generation.”

Aside from a society with no children, if everyone adopted Rand’s ideals, we would witness “the tragedy of the commons” and “the prisoner’s dilemma” on steroids. The environment and life in general would be hell on earth. Ayn Rand was a drug addict who entertained a 15-year openly adulterous sexual relationship until a new love interest entered the scene. When taken together as a whole, it is quite apparent that if everyone followed the ideals and moral tenets of Rand’s Objectivism to a T, then the world would become a dystopian nightmare. I'm not promoting an idealization of Pragmatism as a philosophy, but simply outlining why it's in no way functional for society. In contrast to Objectivism, if all of society followed the tenets of Jesus Christ and his teachings, the environment and society would be pleasant and functional.

Objectivists counter that "rational selfishness" is logical. Rand's, “The Virtue of Selfishness” offers that a rationally selfish person is not one “who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the mindless whims of any immediate moment”, however, this definition essentially attempts to summarize criticisms into a straw-man position. Take Alan Greenspan, for example. I doubt anyone would equate him with “mindless whims.” Nevertheless, as a devoted objectivist, Greenspan eventually admitted that the idolization of “self-interests” is a misguided approach:

"I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."

Greenspan professionally represented the US Federal Reserve, perhaps the most corrupt private organization in US history, wherein a group of private bankers gained control over the printing of US money through the secretive presidential signing of the “Federal Reserve Act,” signed December 23, 1913. It would not seem that selfishness “cares for no living being” – Rather, it seeks to take care of the similar minded first and foremost. A central problem with Rand’s ideal of selfishness is that it does not take into account the corrupt core of human nature, described as the sin nature in scripture.


II.    Proven Science Refutes Objectivism

The following is an outline by RationalWiki highlighting aspects of how Objectivism is in conflict with verified scientific discoveries and facts:

“Some Objectivists like David Harriman and Leonard Peikoff actually seem to have a problem with modern physics, especially quantum mechanics due to its probabilistic nature. The breakdown of classical mechanics-style causality at the quantum level doesn't square with Rand's vision of causality. This has led to declarations by Objectivists that modern physics is "corrupted" or "tainted" by a "Kantian influence" and "bad philosophy" in general, in addition to various crank "refutations" of quantum physics and denial of some theories like Relativity (which was Petr Beckmann's specialty)."

Quotes by objectivists Dawson Bethrick and Dean Sandin affirm a commitment to hold materialist objectivist  philosophical  reasoning over and above scientific discoveries:

"And you’re right – neither quantum physics nor any other mental contraption is going to overturn the law of identity. The following quote by Dean Sandin seems quite apropos to Rick’s latest attempt to discredit Objectivism:

“Quantum Mechanics holds that a particle is nowhere and everywhere throughout some extended region, until magic happens and instantaneously it’s at one place. Of course, QM doesn’t say “magic”. But rationally speaking it means magic. I.e., non-identity in various guises, whether named non-locality, backwards-in-time causality, indeterminacy, the (literal and physical) primacy of consciousness, or whatever.

“To reject QM as physically wrong is fine. It’s necessary. But it is not merely physically wrong. The deeper rot in QM is the admission of non-identity into physical reasoning. Doing physics right doesn’t merely mean getting the right answers from a mathematical formalism – not while the underlying entities can’t be non-contradictorily grasped. It also means eliminating the contradictions that prevent the clear grasp of the physical entities. And that means rediscovering identity, and admitting back into the basis of physics the real entities that QM gives up on.”

In contrast with Objectivism, theist tenets do not imply a metaphysical conflict with quantum mechanics because the foundation of objective reality is not observable matter, energy or human conceptions of logical laws. The ultimate basis of objective truth for humans in the case of Theism is God’s eternal existence.

III.    Identified Logical Fallacies Refute Objectivism

In general, Objectivism is presented in a very loose-handed manner in which independent axioms are offered with elaborate prose in an effort to justify additional positions. Rand's primacy argument is riddled with logical fallacies and merited a new article describing its invalid form, Rand's Primacy Argument Refuted. The false dilemma fallacy, reification, begging the question, false assumptions, straw man propositions, and unsupported claims are described in detail there.


As noted by at least one example, when an objectivist dares to align their axioms as premises in a logical syntactical argument, the noted logical fallacies are legion.
 
According to the tenets of logical reasoning, the identification of logical fallacies in a logical argument is a valid means of refuting both fallacious premises and the conclusion of the argument. Multiple logical fallacies were identified in an argument presented by Dawson Bethrick. In response, Mr. Bethrick dug his hole even deeper by acknowledging that he had used a special definition of metaphysical primacy unique to his own aims, which is in fact biased against alternative metaphysical possibilities, as noted in this referenced quote:

"...metaphysical primacy as my argument incorporates it has precisely to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects,"

No truly objective person would be interested in adopting a definition of metaphysical primacy that is skewed to serve one metaphysical viewpoint. As outlined in a blog post, Bethrick attempted to prove that God does not exist by claiming that Theism assumes a primacy of consciousness metaphysics while a primacy of existence metaphysics represents metaphysical truth. Yes, it’s true that Theism outlines how God created the temporal material world with an act of the will. However, on a much deeper metaphysical level, God exists eternally and cannot logically nullify or recreate Himself. Furthermore, humans generally cannot create objects through conscious volition. What is a determined objectivist to do? Well, according to Bethrck’s definition of metaphysical primacy, God’s eternal and unchanging existence cannot be considered as a valid metaphysical aspect of Theism in this case. And the fact that humans cannot generally create objects upon demand must be ignored. Wow. That's a very inventive and particular definition of metaphysical primacy, isn't it? Quite amazing. One may as well claim that the physical law of gravity holds physical primacy over the physical law of aerodynamics and that the flight of birds and planes cannot be taken into consideration in this case because one has decided that flying things do not count in one’s definition regarding physical possibilities. See the addenda (#2) at the end of this linked article, Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted, for a logical challenge to Bethrick regarding his specious definition.

The definition of objectivist truth is problematic for a number of reasons. It is claimed that only truth values obtained independent of conscious activity are considered valid. Irrespective of my personal opinion of objective truth, it is easy to demonstrate how the rigid tenets of Objectivism provide a two edged sword that demonstrates how Objectivism is actually a self-refuting philosophy.

Argument From Sensorial Uncertainty

1.    A possibility of deception and illusion exists regarding the use of all the senses.
2.    If a possibility of deception and illusion exists regarding all the senses, then we cannot be 100% certain of truth values derived through any of the senses.
3.    Therefore, we cannot be 100% certain of any truth values derived through any of the senses.
.
Argument Demonstrating That Objectivism is Self-Refuting

1.    According to the objectivist definition of truth, truth values influenced by either subconscious preconceptions and/or human volition are not valid.
2.    All thought and all perceived truth values may be influenced by subconscious preconceptions and/or human volition.
3.    Therefore, according to Objectivism, no truth values may be considered unequivocally valid.

The objectivist may object to the above argument stating that a group of people may confer and confirm which aspects of truth are valid and which are not. However, the group that reviews the truth values will be subject to their own preconceptions, biases and conditioning. Ultimately, there would need to be a decision made by discussion and a consensus of agreement. But that would be a relativistic and subjective determination of truth values, none the less. 

The focus in Objectivism regards the assimilation and validation of truth claims. However, this focus is a two edged sword that reveals how Objectivism does in fact ultimately rest upon and is depend upon the very shifting sand it wishes to denounce, the senses and consciousness.  Rand’s Objectivism and the presupposed materialist view presupposed within it may be refuted because the ideals represented are not true and not logically supportable.

As a theist, I would prefer to point to the truth of God through a focus on the wisdom and power of God demonstrated in the organizing principle of the universe, as noted at this link. I welcome civilized criticisms.

Posted below (in blue letters) is a copy of Bethrick's most recent post and comments wherein he affirms his choice of special definitions under special conditions for the use of the concept of "metaphysical primacy." This is in addition to the biased definitions posted in Rand's posthumous "Lexicon" that presuppose materialism.

It is quite difficult to attempt to debate with a person who sincerely feels justified in utilizing his special definitions of universal subjects in an attempt to try and prove a point. RationalWiki confirms how Objectivism tends to utilize "Strange Definitions."


Links to newer relevant articles have been added to the above post as of February 14, 2014
 
For posterity, I've included a copy of Bethrick's relevant post:

Saturday, January 04, 2014
Spinning Out of Orbit: Rick Warden Lost in the Outer Limits
Rick Warden has posted yet another attempt to dismantle my argument. And like all the others, it falls flat on its face at the very sounding of the starting shot.

Previous attempts by Warden to refute the argument from metaphysical primacy against theism can be found here:

    A Refutation of Dawson Bethrick's Central Argument Against Theism

    Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted

    Metaphysical Primacy, Timeless Truth and Atheist Presuppositionalism

To date, my blog entries defending my argument can be found here:

    Rick Warden’s Ill-fated Effort to Refute the Argument from Metaphysical Primacy
    Three Steps Proving that Theism Cannot Be True

    The Vindication of My Argument Against Theism from Rick Warden's Ill-fated Maneuvers
    Warden’s “Addenda” regarding the Nature of Truth

And now, in the present entry, I am posting a fifth installment, again exposing Warden’s errors and misunderstandings (or rather, disunderstandings).

General Overview

There are two general areas at issue here, both closely related. The first is whether or not theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. I have argued that it does, and I have brought out many points of evidence documenting theism’s dependence on the primacy of consciousness. Warden has resisted this identification repeatedly, but he has done so in a very ineffectual manner. Briefly, the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects, and in supporting my argument that theism assumes the primacy of consciousness I have cited, among other items, Christianity’s doctrine of creation (where the Christian god – which is supposed to be a conscious being – creates the universe by an act of consciousness; essentially it wishes and *poof* - the universe is zapped into being) and its doctrine of miracles (where the Christian god can alter the nature of objects by an act of will – for example, it can turn water into wine essentially by wishing and enable Peter to walk on unfrozen water by an act of will). Warden has contended that theism does not assume the primacy of consciousness because, according to his brand of theism, its god did not create itself nor can it cause itself to stop existing. None of these points are relevant to whether or not theism assumes the primacy of consciousness, and even though I have explained this, he continues to repeat these objections as though they had some kind of pertinence on the matter. They don’t.

The other issue is the conception of truth which my argument incorporates. I make it explicitly clear in my argument that it adopts the objective theory of truth – i.e., the view that truth corresponds to facts which obtain independently of conscious actions (such as wishing, liking, disliking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.). Warden contests that my argument begs the question because clearly such a view of truth carries negative implications for theism (which is an odd objection given his objection that theism does not assume the primacy of consciousness) and that it is a minority view held only by a specific group, namely atheists or at any rate atheists influenced by the philosophy of Ayn Rand. In response to this, I point out that not only is some general understanding of what truth is necessary prior to evaluating specific truth claims (a point which Warden concedes), but also that the general conception of truth that my argument incorporates is not in fact some unusual philosophical thesis, but in fact the very conception of truth that Warden himself implicitly assumes when stating that my argument is defective in some way (since he’s not saying it’s defective because he wishes it to be so or learned it in some dream of his). Below I will point out that while the wording of the definition of truth on the objective conception may be novel to folks like Warden (which is unfortunate, but merely an autobiographical datum rather than a worthy basis for objection), the essence of the objective theory of truth in principle is not novel, but implicit in virtually any knowledge claim a person makes.

So let’s look at these in turn with Warden’s latest objections in view.


The Issue of Metaphysical Primacy

The first thing I notice about Warden’s latest blog entry is his attempt to completely redefine my argument’s terms. He has removed my premises and replaced them with some of his own fabrication which bear no resemblance to the original. Anyone examining my argument and points that I have offered in support of it can see that the issue of metaphysical primacy as it is understood in my argument has expressly to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Warden’s attempts to revise (or rather mangle) my argument completely ignore this relationship, the very relationship which I have highlighted time and time again in my efforts to correct Warden’s persistent habit of misunderstanding my argument and getting lost chasing rabbits of his own making.

In his new piece Warden says that “primacy” signifies “that which is most powerful and that which is preeminent,” and states:

    According to basic definitions, metaphysical primacy relates to fundamental aspects of being and the nature of the universe that supervene over all others.

None of what Warden says here, or elsewhere in his new blog, focuses on the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Rather, Warden’s tact here is to obfuscate this relationship, to bury it under a morass of vague generalities in which one could never know if a relationship between consciousness and its objects is even involved in the first place.

Thus Warden has AGAIN ignored what I have consistently and emphatically pointed out, namely that metaphysical primacy as my argument incorporates it has precisely to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Over and over again, Warden attempts to refute my argument without EVER grasping this distinction and incorporating it into his approach to critiquing it. Instead, Warden avoids – and from all that I can tell, deliberately - dealing with my argument on its own terms. But in fact, this is what we should expect if his sole ambition is to defend his god-belief (as opposed to discovering where the facts actually lead), for my argument is in fact more successful than even he senses as he attempts to refute a distorted version of my argument.

Warden has sought to invest the term “metaphysical primacy” with a meaning that he wants to generate from an analysis of the constituent terms in isolation from each other. This is a most elementary blunder. There are literally thousands of expressions in the English language which contain two or more constituent words and yet whose meaning cannot be derived by an analysis of the individual meanings of those words in isolation from the expression itself. The concept ‘take leave’, for example, cannot be fully understood by taking the meaning of “take” and “leave” and simply adding them together. The same with phrasal verbs (e.g., turn on, split up with, give up, etc.) as well as idiomatic expressions. Moreover, when it has been pointed out numerous times now that the issue of metaphysical primacy as my argument understands it has expressly to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects, Warden has no excuse for antics such as this.

Thus Warden indulges in more context-dropping. He yet again demonstrates a persisting habit of failing to integrate. At this point, I can only surmise that it is deliberate on his part. Warden senses that my argument does in fact refute theism wholly and successfully, and given his confessional investment in theism, he fears losing everything he has committed to a life revolving around his god-belief. Like Mike Licona, Rick Warden wants his theism to be true.

Warden writes:

    According to what theism assumes, there is nothing more fundamental and primary in power than God’s eternal existence, to the extent that even an act of God’s own conscious volition could not logically nullify it.

Theism is a set of beliefs revolving around the notion of a “god.” Thus, as a set of beliefs, the concept ‘theism’ presupposes the consciousness of the one who believes it. So while Warden wants to tell us about “what theism assumes” in terms of particular dogmatic affirmations, a vastly more fundamental issue is involved here, namely the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Without this relationship, there would be no beliefs to begin whatsoever, whether theistic or otherwise.

Warden hastens to draw attention to “what theism assumes” as he understands it (i.e., with digressions concerning the details of his worldview’s particular mystical notions) in order to gain control of the discussion. But this only shows how desperate he is to avoid discussing the issue of metaphysical primacy – i.e., the relationship between consciousness and its objects - as it relates to my argument and the conclusion I draw in it. Since the relationship between consciousness and its objects is the central issue here, references to Warden’s god being “eternal” or its inability to “logically nullify” its own power or existence or whatever, are completely irrelevant. Warden can believe these things about his god all he wants, but if his god’s consciousness is characterized as enjoying metaphysical primacy in its relationship to any object distinct from itself, then the primacy of consciousness is thereby presuppositionally confirmed.

And ultimately, Warden’s entire attempt to refocus the discussion onto the question of whether or not his god created itself or can “nullify” its own existence misses a much broader epistemological point: How would anyone discover what Warden claims about his god? Stripped down to its essentials, Warden’s statement reduces to: “Christians imagine their god such that it did not create itself and cannot wipe itself out of existence.” Fine and dandy, but so what? Since this is all imaginary to begin with, it has no legitimate value. One can imagine a god creating itself just as easily as one can imagine it existing for all eternity. Similarly, one can imagine a god wishing itself out of existence just as easily as one can imagine that it does not have this ability. So Warden’s emphasis on “what theism assumes” as he informs it here carries no weight. The question at hand is whether theism assumes the primacy of consciousness or not. I have given ample reasons to conclude that it does. By contrast, Warden has given no reasons to suppose that it does not, and has actually confirmed that it does, such as when he wrote (in his blog Quantum physics proves that there IS an afterlife, claims scientist):

    In essence, Lanza proposes that consciousness holds supremacy over the material world. This, of course, is in keeping with the biblical account of Genesis in which the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God.

Here Warden explicitly points out that “the biblical account of Genesis” is that “the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God.” Here the objects of consciousness (in this case, “the material world”) conform to the activity of consciousness. The Christian god wishes, and zap: “the material world” comes into being. This is the primacy of the subject in the subject-object relationship. There’s no getting around this. It’s plain for all to see. But somehow Warden will not allow himself to acknowledge this fundamental fact about his own worldview - even when he himself admits it plainly!

In spite of this fundamental defect, Warden treats “what theism assumes” as he explains as though it were some kind of fact that everyone needs to cohere to. In this way Warden tacitly borrows the primacy of existence from Objectivism. It doesn’t even work in the case of Warden’s Christianity since the Christian worldview essentially holds that “any fact, that is a fact, is a fact because God made it that way” (James White, quoted in The Portable Presuppositionalist, p. 215). On the Christian worldview, “facts” are just creations of a consciousness unconstrained by any facts to begin with. The starting point for Christianity’s god would be a factless void. So its whim holds metaphysical primacy over everything distinct from itself: it can do whatever it wants (as Psalm 115:3 affirms).

Contrary to Warden’s wishes, “what theism assumes” as Warden defines it, is not a fact. It’s simply a fiction. Thus Warden is attempting to shift focus away from the relationship between consciousness and its objects by drawing attention to what is merely a cocktail of imaginative fabrication in the first place. And since it does not address the relationship between consciousness and its objects, Warden’s point is completely ineffectual against my argument.

Warden writes:

    If metaphysical primacy relates to fundamental and primary supervening powers in the universe, and there is nothing more universally fundamental, powerful and preeminent than God’s existence according to theism, such that not even a conscious act of God’s own will could nullify God’s existence, then theism does not and cannot assume the primacy of consciousness metaphysics in a universal and timeless sense, the most important aspects of a metaphysical consideration.

Here Warden indulges in a non sequitur of the wildest proportions. Quite simply, it does not follow that “theism does not and cannot assume the primacy of consciousness metaphysics” in any sense from anything Warden says before this. Again, Warden is not addressing the matter at hand, namely the relationship between consciousness and its objects.

The Christian god is said to be a conscious being. If it’s a conscious being, then the issue of metaphysical primacy invites us to examine the relationship this conscious being is said to have between itself as a conscious subject and any objects that are distinct from itself. Nothing in the statement Warden provides above addresses this relationship. As I pointed out previously:

    If the Christian god is said to have created an apple and nothing else by an act of will, that alone is sufficient for the charge that it assumes the primacy of consciousness.

It is unclear why Warden does not grasp this, yet he does not provide any reasons for supposing this evaluation is not true.

In spite of this, however, Warden apparently wants to make it seem that the Christian view is compatible with the primacy of existence. But to do this he would have to show that the objects of the Christian god’s consciousness exist and are what they are independent of the conscious activity attributed to the Christian god. On such a view, there would be no creation of the universe by an act of will; there would be no miracles; there would be no “plan” for human history; there would be no prayer; there would be no “salvation by faith”; there would be no “spiritual healings”; no doctrine of “divine providence”; no doctrine of “divine sovereignty,” etc. All the staples of Christian god-belief would be jettisoned with the abandonment of the primacy of consciousness underwriting them.

In fact, the Christian worldview is explicit in its endorsement of the primacy of consciousness in regard to the Christian god qua conscious being with respect to any objects distinct from itself. Christianity holds, for instance, that the Christian god essentially willed the universe into being. This is known in Christianity as the doctrine of creation. The Christian god essentially thought and as a result the entire universe came into being according to what it thought. On the Christian view, the universe is exactly what the Christian god wanted it to be. Thus on this view, the Christian god’s consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over its objects.

The Christian god wanted to create a creature that is similar to itself in some unexplained way. Thus it took a pile of dust from the universe it had wished into being and wished that that pile of dust become a biological organism – man. According to the creation myth in Genesis, Adam was the first man. The Christian god wanted Adam to have a “helpmate,” so it took a rib from Adam’s body and wished that the rib become another biological organism – a woman. Accordingly, Eve was the first woman.

According to the Christian religion, the Christian god wished that its creatures “go forth and multiply,” and so they did. And when the Christian god got angry at them, it wished that all but a tiny handful be washed away in a worldwide flood, and according to the myth, that’s what happened. When you’re a consciousness that holds metaphysical primacy over all objects distinct from yourself, you can have them do whatever you want them to do. You can create objects at will; you can make them whatever you want them to be; you can manipulate them to do whatever you want them to do; you can do whatever you want, just as a cartoonist in the context of his cartoons can do. Hence Christianity gives us its own version of the cartoon universe of theism. In the end, the ultimate standard is the ruling consciousness’s wishing.

Recognition that this in fact reduces the Christian worldview to subjectivism is what prompted Christian apologist Paul Manata to break down and finally admit:

    …in theism, there’s a sense in which reality is subjective - based on the divine mind.

Since then Manata has essentially gone into hiding, poking his head out once in a while to debate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

But Warden insists on continuing to see darkly. His mistakes are unjustifiable, and corrections have been brought to his attention on numerous occasions now. I have repeatedly explained in my responses to Warden that the issue of metaphysical primacy has expressly to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects, and yet Warden continues to avoid dealing with this matter.


Warden’s Antagonism to the Objectivity of Truth

In regard to the concept of truth, Warden is still lost in his own fuzziness. He apparently does not understand what truth is. What is clear in Warden’s mind is that he wants to find my argument guilty of some defect, in this case the fallacy of begging the question. I explained in my previous blog that “possession of at least a general conception of truth is logically prior to truth evaluations of specific claims.” Warden does not contest this. But he does write:

    Dawson does not seem to want to admit that his definition of truth in the "first step" of his argument is unique to his beliefs

And yet, I had already pointed out several times that even Warden implicitly acknowledges the objectivity of truth whenever he makes a truth claim. Just to be clear (again), the objective conception of truth is that truth rests on facts which exist and are what they are independent of conscious activity. This means that when a person says that “X is true,” he is (at the very least implicitly) affirming that “X is true” even if other minds wish otherwise, prefer otherwise, don’t like it, imagine alternatives, feel miserable because of it, etc.. This is why I pointed out in my blog Three Steps Proving that Theism Cannot Be True that it is because truth rests on the primacy of existence that we are right to say “wishing doesn’t make it so.” The only alternative to this view is that wishing does make it so. If Warden wants to challenge the general conception of truth that my argument assumes, he must do so without making use of it in the very effort of challenging it. In other words, he must come out of the closet on the matter and acknowledge openly that his worldview’s conception of truth is the subjective view of truth – i.e., the view that wishing, wanting, likes and dislikes, preferences, emotions, imaginations, even dreams (!) hold epistemological primacy over truth just as they hold metaphysical primacy over facts (as they clearly do according to the Christian worldview which essentially holds that “any fact, that is a fact, is a fact because God made it that way” (James White, quoted in The Portable Presuppositionalist, p. 215).

Warden alleges that the conception of truth which my argument incorporates “does in fact define God out of existence from the onset,” and because of this my argument therefore begs the question. But this fails to take into account the fact that truth is not neutral, and thus Warden’s own objection here indicates just how far Warden has wandered away from the standard talking points of the presuppositionalist playbook. One of the beautiful points of my argument is that it exposes a fundamental contradiction in the theistic worldview – namely the contradiction between what theism affirms (e.g., “a supernatural consciousness created the universe and controls everything within it by means of conscious activity”) and the very notion of truth which the theist must employ in claiming what theism affirms is true (e.g., that truth does not hinge on conscious intensions). Just as consciousness does not have the power to wish reality into existence, we cannot objectively define the concept of truth such that it can apply to notions whose metaphysical basis contradicts the metaphysical basis necessary for the concept of truth. Perhaps what Warden fails to recognize is that the concept ‘truth’ does in fact have a metaphysical basis. So if we were to ask what the metaphysical basis of truth is in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects - i.e., the most fundamental relationship to all knowledge – what would theism’s answer be? Christians tell us that truth rests on their god’s existence, in which case, per Warden himself, any argument consistent with Christianity which seeks to establish the truth of theism would be begging the question. The implications of Warden’s approach is that he must beg the question arguing for the existence of his god to the same degree that he faults me for begging the question in my argument that theism is not true. Only my argument has an advantage that his does not have, and this advantage can only mean that my argument does not in fact beg the question, but rather exposes the inconsistency in any claim that theism is true (which I pointed out above).

The concept ‘truth’ that my argument incorporates, therefore, does not “define the Christian god out of existence from the onset,” since “the onset” here could only be the fundamental basis of the concept ‘truth’ which is metaphysical in nature, while definitions are epistemological in nature. Thus in attempting to salvage his charge that my argument begs the question on this point rests on a fundamental category confusion on Warden’s part. As I pointed out, we need a general understanding of the nature of truth prior to evaluating specific truth claims (such as “God exists”). Indeed, even though I pointed this out, Warden seems vacuously clueless on the fact that he himself tacitly administers the very conception of truth that my argument incorporates when he claims that my argument begs the question. Warden is not advancing his charge against my argument on the basis of his own wishing, preferences, likes and dislikes, imagination or dreams (!), is he? If he is, then they can be dismissed out of hand. Any rational individual should see this right off. But no, that’s not what Warden is purportedly doing. Rather, he’s saying that there really is a defect in my argument, and that no amount of wishing or preferring or liking or disliking, imagining, emoting or dreaming will change the situation. So here too Warden himself is making use of the objective theory of truth not only while not realizing it, but also while insisting that my argument is fallacious for making use of it, too!

Warden writes:

    Unfortunately for Dawson, his actual definition of truth employed in his argument (Step 1, Premise 1) is not a general concept or definition of truth, but is quite specific to his objectivist beliefs. If this is not so, could someone please post a quote and/or a link to other philosophers, other than Ayn Rand objectivists, who define truth with regard to primacy of existence versus a primacy of consciousness metaphysics.

My argument proceeds on the basis of explicitly identifying the metaphysical basis of truth in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects – i.e., the most fundamental relationship to all knowledge. Since knowledge is knowledge of a conscious subject about some object or set of objects, the question of the nature of the relationship between consciousness and its objects with respect to the metaphysical basis of truth is inescapable.

By identifying the primacy of existence as the metaphysical basis of the objective nature of truth, Objectivism is not doing anything illicit. This is easy to demonstrate. Consider the following questions (which Warden will likely not weigh in on himself, though he should to make his position clearly understood by all – including himself):

    1. Do wishes govern what is true?

    2. Do likes and/or dislikes govern what is true?

    3. Do emotions govern what is true?

    4. Do preferences govern what is true?

    5. Do imaginations govern what is true?

    6. Do dreams govern what is true?

At this point, let us ask: Can Warden produce anyone who will affirm a “yes” to any of these questions?

Now let us ask: What do each of these phenomena – wishes, likes and dislikes, emotions, preferences, imaginations and dreams – have in common?

Answer: They are all types of conscious activity.

Thus a consistent answer in the negative (i.e., “no”) to all of the above questions across the board implies a broader, more fundamental recognition, namely: that conscious activity does not govern what is true. In short, truth rests on the primacy of existence.

Warden offered three points as part of his objection against my argument’s explicit use of the objective theory of truth. Let's examine them.

Warden wrote:

    1. If the theist God exists, it would be logically possible for God to be able to impart certain valid and important truths to humans directly from God’s consciousness to human consciousness through divine revelation, as described as a fundamental condition in theist texts.

How this is relevant to whether or not my argument is right in employing the objective theory of truth, is not explained. Along with Warden, I can imagine his god sitting up in its heavenly palace imparting “important truths to humans directly” from its mind by whatever magical means I care to dream up. But at the end of the day, I’m simply imagining, just as Warden is. This could only be relevant if truth were governed by conscious actions such as wishing and imagining. But then what would happen? Warden would wish that the Christian god were real while the Muslim would wish that the Islamic Allah were real, the Lahu tribesmen would wish that Geusha were real, the Zoroastrians would wish that Ahura Mazda were real, and I would wish that Blarko were real. Given the subjective underpinnings that Warden wants to reserve on behalf of his worldview’s conception of truth, reality would literally be a free for all, with everything and nothing existing at the same time (since one man’s wishes and imaginations would naturally cancel out anyone else’s).

Next, Warden wrote:

    2. Bethrick’s definition of truth, as assumed in his “metaphysical” argument against God, offers that only truth values obtained separate from consciousness represent valid metaphysical truth.

This is a very clumsy attempt to reinterpret the view I have presented. The definition of truth that my argument incorporates recognizes explicitly that truth rests on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity (such as wishing, liking and disliking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.). The only alternative to this view is the view that truth does not rest on facts which obtain independently of such conscious actions. In other words, the only alternative to the view of truth that my argument incorporates would be the view that wishing makes it so, that liking and disliking govern what truth is, that imagination prevails over facts, etc. If Warden thinks there’s some third alternative here, he needs to identify and explain it in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects – specifically with respect to whether or not the types of conscious activity I have identified have any bearing on what is in fact true. Warden will not do this. In fact, as we can all tell, he resists interacting with the topic of the relationship between consciousness and its objects at all costs. That’s not my problem!

Warden wrote:

    3. Therefore, by definition, in his argument Bethrick has set forth a definition of truth that precludes the possibility of fundamental theist truth conceptions and therefore precludes the possibility of God’s existence.

If the conception of truth which my argument incorporates does in fact preclude theistic notions from qualifying as truthful propositions (and I gladly concede that it clearly does), it does so not by definition as Warden has insisted, but rather by implication. Drawing out the implications of a general truth with respect to specific applications of that truth is not an instance of begging the question, but rather of deductive inference necessitated by the truth of its terms. As I have pointed out several times now, the conception of truth which my argument incorporates is not some strange, newfangled contrivance deliberately construed to rule out theism. On the contrary, it explicitly accounts for its dependence on the proper relationship between consciousness and its objects given its correspondence to facts which exist and are what they are independent of the types of conscious activity which I have identified (e.g., wishing, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.). If there is a large stone in my backyard, it’s there whether I wish, prefer, emote, imagine or dream otherwise. If I wish that the stone not be there, it will not pick itself up and cast itself over the fence into the neighbor’s yard in order to comply with my wishing. Mt. 17:20 is pure mystical fable. If I go to the rock and command it to remove itself from my yard, what will happen? Of course, the rock will remain right where it is. If I want it removed, I will need to initiate some kind of physical action to remove it. It will not conform to my conscious actions. No facts do. Why should we not take this fundamental fact about the relationship between our consciousness and its objects into account when seeking an explicit understanding of the nature of truth? Warden offers no reason for why we should ignore such facts, but clearly his worldview is not prepared to deal with them on a rationally mature level.

What Warden finds objectionable is not my argument per se, but rather the fact that truth is objective since it does have correspondence to facts which exist and are what they are independent of conscious activity.

Warden wrote:

    Dawson has offered that a general acknowledgement of truth must be assumed if any philosophical discussion is to take place. I agree.

Actually, even more important, is that we should recognize that we need to have some understanding of what it means for a statement to be true on a general level before we can embark on evaluating specific claims as to their truth value. Hopefully Warden would agree with this, but he seems so eager to disagree with most anything rational that I dare not assume his agreement here.

But supposing he does agree (and his above statement suggests that he might), the question then needs to be asked: What is the metaphysical basis of truth in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects? If truth involves correspondence to facts (e.g., if a rock is indeed sitting in my backyard, then the statement “there is a rock sitting in my backyard” is true in that it corresponds conceptually to the state of affairs existing in the world), then we must ask:

    (i) Do facts to which truth statements correspond exist independent of conscious actions like wishing, liking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.?

    (ii) Are the facts to which truth statements correspond what they are independent of conscious actions like wishing, liking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.?

    (iii) Does any consciousness have the ability to create and/or alter the facts to which truth statements correspond by means of conscious actions like wishing, liking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc.?

I challenge Warden to address these and other questions I have asked in this blog. My guess is that he will continue to ignore them, just as he has in the past.

Warden wrote:

    However, the specific definition of truth set forth in Dawon’s first step and first premise is in no way general, but highly specific to Ayn Rand objectivists.

No doubt, the wording of the definition of truth that my argument incorporates may be foreign to most worldviews; that is primarily due to the fact that most worldviews do not address philosophical matters with respect to the relationship between consciousness and its objects as Objectivism does. But it would not follow from this that the essence of the conception of truth so defined is therefore foreign to human thought in principle. On the contrary, any rationally mature adult will acknowledge that truth obtains on the basis of facts which exist and are what they are independent of conscious actions like wishing, liking, preferring, emoting, imagining, dreaming, etc. Even Warden’s own statements imply agreement with this, for otherwise they simply would not make any sense whatsoever.

So this is a most weak objection on Warden’s part. Since he is preoccupied with the association of my argument’s conception of truth with Ayn Rand, he will happily reach for any petty means by which he can try to undermine it. But can he deal with the real issues at hand? His performance to date indicates consistently that he cannot.

In fact, folks like Warden should he pleased when an atheist makes his conception of truth explicitly understood. As we see in the initial installment of my interaction with Dustin Segers’ apologetic, Segers’ first question for atheists when he went to the 2012 Reason Rally was:

    "What is truth in your worldview? What's your definition of 'truth'?"

Now when I announce this definition up front, I’m charged with fallacy. It’s really amazing!

But even better, as I point out above, what my argument does is explicitly identify the metaphysical basis of the concept of truth in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects. By doing so, it slashes off entire categories of arbitrary and irrational notions. Warden objects to this because his god-belief is one of the things that are discarded as a result, and he wants to protect his god-belief. No one is saying Warden cannot imagine his god any more. He can do this all he likes. But he contradicts the very nature of truth by calling his theism “true” to the extent that he means it is true regardless of anyone’s wishing, preferences, likes or dislikes, emotions, imaginations, dreams, etc. So long as he claims that his theism is true independent of such conscious activity, he is performatively contradicting himself, and my argument exposes this contradiction. No wonder he doesn’t like it!


Conclusion

In the end, we can say with full confidence that Warden has adopted the same intensional orientation between himself as a subject and my argument as one of its objects that he imagines his god has between itself as a subject and the universe it is said to have created as its object. Just as the Christian god is imagined to have the power to magically turn water into wine by an act of will, Warden imagines for himself the power to turn a sound argument into an argument riddled with basic fallacies that even a first-year philosophy student would be careful to avoid. And all of this is made possible courtesy of a number of routine fallacious maneuvers on Warden’s part: mischaracterization, context-dropping, non sequiturs, stolen concepts, missing the point, etc., etc., etc.

Warden has no excuse for this. I have been clear in laying out my argument’s premises and explaining the meaning of their terms as my argument incorporates them. I have given examples and corrected many of Warden’s basic errors on numerous occasions now. Since Warden is clearly unwilling to examine my argument according to its own terms – specifically avoiding the discussion of metaphysical primacy in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects – I can only conclude from my interactions with Warden’s ill-fated attempts to refute my argument (first without knowing what its premises are, and then subsequently repeating fundamental mistakes that have already been corrected) that he senses the devastating damage it poses to theism and therefore is hell-bent on destroying it at all costs. As part of the entry fee for joining the Christian fold, Warden has already had to pledge to sacrifice himself on behalf of his god-belief. And the Christian god, as its worshipers imagine it, demand full sacrifice and allows for no withholdings or reservations on the part of the believer. Warden demonstrates that, while he may not actually be the real McCoy, he certainly wants to be and will spare nothing in his effort to sacrifice himself for his god, or at any rate make it appear to others that he is the real McCoy. Among the things he has sacrificed are his intellect, his integrity, his grasp of reality, his ability to focus on essentials, any ability to recognize his own errors and correct them, and that's just for starters.

So just as Abraham was unflinching in his willingness to sacrifice his own son as a burnt offering at the command of a voice he attributed to a supernatural being which we can only imagine, Warden is unflinching in his willingness to sacrifice his own mind on behalf of a worldview which is insatiable in its demand for personal sacrifice. Thus I shall make a prediction (which even my baker could make at this point): Warden will likely reply again and still fail to grapple with my argument on its own terms: he will fail to defend his theism from the charge that it assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects, and he will fail to acknowledge the objectivity of truth in terms of that same relationship. I also predict that he will continue to avoid answering the questions I have posed that directly pertain to these and related matters, for he prefers to hide in the shadows and not make his stance on objectivity explicit.

But going forward, when Warden charges my argument with some defect or another, we need only ask:

    Is my argument defective because Warden wishes it, imagines it, wants it, emotes it, dreams it, dislikes it, etc.? Or, is my argument defective because of some factual state of affairs that obtains independently of anyone’s wishing, imagination, wants, emotions, dreams, likes or dislikes, etc.?

Such a line of inquiry can only haunt the mystically-inclined mind seeking to disguise itself as rationally solvent.

by Dawson Bethrick

Labels: Christian Psychopathy, Metaphysics, Primacy of Existence, Subjectivism, Truth, twerking for Jesus

  
Tags: Faults with Objectivism, Objectivism refuted,  RationalWiki rips into Objectivism,



45 comments:

  1. Rick,

    Very humorous post. Unfortunately, since it's clear that you have a deep bias against Objectivism given your confessional investment in a form of mysticism, you're simply axe-grinding here. That you need to get your information on Objectivism from "rationalwiki" only confirms that you're only interested in doing a smear job here. No one who grasps the importance of Objectivism is going to be persuaded by anything you've presented here. The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of subjectivism, such as your Christian worldview, where a supernatural consciousness magically wishes the universe into being and causes all kinds of miracles to happen (at least, within the confines of a sacred storyook).

    Hey, by the way, Rick, I'm still waiting for you to "refute" this argument:

    Premise 1: That which is imaginary is not real.
    Premise: 2: If something is not real, it does not actually exist.
    Premise 3: If the god of Christianity is imaginary, then it is not real and therefore does not actually exist.
    Premise 4: The god of Christianity is imaginary.
    Conclusion: Therefore, the god of Christianity is not real and therefore does not actually exist.


    Many Christians have sought to challenge Premise 1 of this argument. They reject the view that something imaginary is not real. On their view, then, if I imagine a 900-foot robot attacking Detroit, there must actually be a 900-foot robot attacking Detroit. But why then don't I see any news headlines about this?

    So which premise would you attack? Or, since you have yet to challenge any part of it, should I assume that you are in agreement with my conclusion here?

    Regards,
    Dawson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >That you need to get your information on Objectivism from "rationalwiki" only confirms that you're only interested in doing a smear job here.

      - While there were a number of points at RationalWiki I had not seen published before, I had already drawn the same general conclusions regarding major flaws in Objectivism.

      >The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of subjectivism, such as your Christian worldview,

      - You are mistaken, Dawson. It is apparently not possible for you to accept the logical possibility that objective truth and objective values are ultimately based on God's existence. Anyone interested in looking into this will find that theism offers a much more cohesive explanation of Rand's Objectivism.

      If God Exists, Then Objective Morality Exists

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/08/if-god-exists-then-objective-morality.html

      As far as you Argument From Imagination goes, your premise 4 is not only unsupported, the body of logical thought and logical debate today implies that it is patently false:

      Premise 4: The god of Christianity is imaginary.

      The leading debater on metaphysics today, William Lane Craig, has defeated all of his atheist opponents using logical arguments. It's quite easy for secular atheists to posture and pretend that God is a "delusion" when, in reality, Dawkins' argument is so flawed that he cannot help but to offer a long list of childish excuses for not debating Craig, as noted:

      7 Reasons why Dawkins' Excuses for not Debating Craig are Illogical

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/09/7-reasons-why-dawkins-excuses-for-not.html

      The spiritual blindness of the "top" atheist academicians is quite evident by their actions. Stephen Law presented a 2 hour critique of The God Delusion and not once did he even address or evaluate the "central argument" of the book, as outlined by Dawkins himself.

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/03/three-questions-stephen-law-wont-answer.html

      So, if anything, the burden of proof today seems to be on the atheist today to attempt to gain some kind of traction in supporting atheism. Your personal argument has a number of fallacies that have been pointed out:

      Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/12/bethricks-refined-primacy-argument.html

      By the way, Dawson, what would you consider the strongest argument against God's existence if you had to choose one. I hope for your sake it is not the one you've just posted.



      Delete
    2. Hi Dawson,

      One of the valid points posted at RationalWiki is the fact that Randian objectivists incorporate "strange definitions"

      I had asked you to acknowledge the flawed definition you incorporate in your argument against God's existence, as noted at the following link:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2014/01/metaphysical-primacy-timeless-truth-and.html

      "If anyone disagrees with any of the premises and arguments I’ve offered in this second rebuttal to Bethrick’s primacy argument, please point out specifically which premise or premises you disagree with and why."

      As noted in the comments of that post, Bethrick did not address his specious definition of POC. Rather, he offered to discuss snow flake colors instead.

      I'll try again. Here I'll present my criticism in the form of a logical argument Could you please point out where you disagree with the following points and conclusion, Dawson?

      1. Objectivist Bethrick claims that theism supports a primacy of consciousness metaphysics (PCM) that violates primacy of existence metaphysics (PEM).

      2. This claim is based on the fact that theism describes a supernatural God who created the material universe through an act of volition.

      3. According to Bethrick, his definition of PCM excludes two aspects that undermine his claim.

      4. First, Bethrick claims that the fact that a supernatural and eternal God cannot logically nullify his own existence or recreate Himself is excluded from his definition of PCM.

      5. Second, Bethrick claims that the fact that theists cannot generally create objects through an act of volition is excluded from his definition of PCM.

      6. Objectivist Bethrick has created a highly specialized definition of a universal concept that denies the universality of that concept and arbitrarily excludes aspects that refute his claims.

      7. Any highly specialized definition of a universal concept of reality that denies the universality of that concept and arbitrarily excludes aspects for subjective reasons is an invalid and false definition of that concept.

      8. Therefore, Bethrick’s definition of primacy of consciousness is invalid and false.

      It's difficult to debate with someone who chooses to use highly subjective definitions for metaphysical concepts.

      Before we can continue debating, we need to clear up some major problems with your definitions. Can you address this, Dawson?

      Delete
    3. Rand Objectivist Supporters, If there are any Rand objectivist supporters interested in helping Bethrick out, perhaps you could join with Bethrick in order to brainstorm how it is that Bethrick can possibly support his primacy of consciousness definition with any credibility.

      Delete
    4. Rick,

      That you continue complaining about definitions only weakens your already futile efforts. It’s a red herring indicating how desperate you are.

      Besides, you’ve already confirmed the legitimacy of my definitions in affirmations of the primacy of consciousness you yourself have made on your own blog. Again, I quote your words to Ydemoc in a comment you posted in this blog entry:

      <<With regard to the physical world, however, God's conscious volition holds supremacy over all.>>

      Here you openly affirm the “supremacy” of consciousness. But thesaurus.com shows that ‘supremacy’ is essentially synonymous with ‘primacy’.

      Compare: “God’s conscious volition holds supremacy over all” and “God’s consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over all.”

      Are you saying that you affirm the view that “God’s conscious volition holds supremacy over all” but reject the view that “God’s consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over all”? Do you think there’s a difference? Oh, you’re going to try and trump up a difference now? That would be quite ridiculous.

      So, Rick, as I pointed out previously, you have clearly affirmed the primacy of consciousness metaphysics as Objectivism informs it in the case of your god. This is clear and obvious to anyone who grasps what’s at issue here – i.e., the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Your god’s consciousness creates objects by an act of will, assigns those objects their identity by an act of will, alters their natures by an act of will, etc., etc. In every instance, according to you worldview, the objects of your god’s consciousness necessarily obey and conform to the dictates of your god’s consciousness. This is what primacy of consciousness means, and you have openly affirmed it on more than one occasion, and your worldview insists on it.

      So there’s no basis for disputing Step 2 of my argument.

      [continued…]

      Delete
    5. Per your points 4 and 5 above, this is nothing new. Objectivists have always pointed out that one cannot affirm the primacy of consciousness consistently. It is always intermingled with assumptions of the primacy of existence – just as my argument points out! In other words, your worldview assumes two opposite and mutually contradictory metaphysical paradigms – the primacy of consciousness in the case of your god’s consciousness (which you have affirmed), and the primacy of existence any time you want to say that something is true (since you clearly are not suggesting that what you say is true because you wish it to be the case). This does not mean that our definitions are somehow contrived in some inconsistent manner. On the contrary, Objectivists are being entirely consistent here. Ultimately your complaint boils down to: “Objectivists use their definitions consistently! Wahhh! I don’t like that!”

      Calling a definition “strange” is not an argument against its legitimacy. That something is “strange” to someone is simply a matter of one’s point of view and is thus autobiographical in this sense. Things are strange to people when they are not familiar with them. After driving for 30 years in the USA, driving on the lefthand side of the road here in Thailand was quite strange at first. But there’s nothing illegitimate about it. Besides, why is the primacy of existence “strange” when this characterizes the relationship between human consciousness and its objects while treating fantasies like “God created the universe by an act of will” as though they were true is not “strange”?

      The entire Christian worldview is all about the strange – with deities, demons and angels lurking behind what we perceive causing mischief and bestowing favor, virgin births, walking on water, turning water into wine, zapping planets into existence by wishing, causing worldview destruction by an act of will, commanding mountains to remove themselves to the sea, raising people from the dead, walking through walls, curing congenital blindness by moistening dirt with spit, etc., etc., etc.

      [continued…]

      Delete
    6. I remember when I started seriously studying the New Testament how strange it all seemed to me with its inordinate fixation on circumcision of all things! Grown adults engaged in heated arguments over whether male believers should be circumcised or not. Peter and Paul were definitely passionate about dangling foreskins! Don’t you think that’s at least a little strange? No? And this enormous concern about food offered to other gods… indeed, very strange! How often do you encounter this worry in your life? When we go to Safeway and buy our meat, we don’t find symbols on the packaging certifying that the pork cutlets were not sacrificed to Baal. Indeed, is it even okay to eat pork in the first place? Well, this was a problem for the early Christians. Things like this were important to them. But how the mind works, how we form concepts, what logic is, what science is, what reason is, etc., etc., none of this mattered to them, which is clear by the record they left us.

      So your comments are instructive, Rick, in that every time you post more comments, you demonstrate that your irrationality knows virtually no bounds. You are an example of a mind on Christian god-belief, unwilling to address direct questions, constantly seeking ways to mangle and mischaracterize, manufacturing fallacies from thin air, affirming one thing one place while vehemently denying it elsewhere, attempting to draw the conclusion that something is false because it’s “strange” to you, etc., etc., etc.

      As you yourself put it: Get a grip!

      [continued…]

      Delete
    7. So again, over and over and over again, Rick, you are only confirming the soundness of my argument, apparently without realizing it. That’s not a deficiency on my part. The deficiency is all yours.

      So we’re back to Step 1. Now you need to decide: is truth objective, or is truth subjective?

      What do you say?

      If you affirm that truth is objective, then you endorse Step 1 of my case. Since you have already endorsed Step 2 of my case when you made statements such as “God's conscious volition holds supremacy over all,” affirming that truth is objective would wrap the whole matter up and constitute concession on your part that I have indeed assembled a sound argument proving that the Christian god is not real. So I realize why you are reluctant to do this. But the alternative view – that truth is subjective – will clearly get you nowhere. It’s a dead-end.

      Thus I can affirm the soundness of my argument as a clear example of “the impossibility of the contrary.”

      So thank you, Rick, for being so instrumental to my task of proving my verdicts. I could have done it without you (and indeed, I already had), but it’s always good to find opponents of reason conceding the point.

      Regards,
      Dawson

      Delete
    8. Oh, by the way, Rick, regarding William Lane Craig, have you see this?

      William Lane 'Two Citations' Craig, Academic Midget

      It pretty much puts things in perspective. So you can have Bill Craig – no one on the side of reason seems to want anything to do with him.

      Regards,
      Dawson

      Delete
    9. Oh, and one last point, Rick, have you seen this?

      Beware those that cry foul at the use of precise language, they are trying to con you

      Be happy! You’re getting more exposure!

      Regards,
      Dawson

      Delete
    10. Dawson,

      I hardly see how questioning faulty definition is a "red herring."

      You quoted one of my comments: <> and then you claim:

      "Here you openly affirm the “supremacy” of consciousness."

      Then you state, "But thesaurus.com shows that ‘supremacy’ is essentially synonymous with ‘primacy’.

      Hmmm. So the fact that a spiritual God holds supremacy over the physical world somehow means that God's consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over his eternal existence?

      You can pretend, Dawson. I will ask you again. Please address this argument and point out specifically which premise you disagree with, or admit that the conclusion is true:

      1. Objectivist Bethrick claims that theism supports a primacy of consciousness metaphysics (PCM) that violates primacy of existence metaphysics (PEM).

      2. This claim is based on the fact that theism describes a supernatural God who created the material universe through an act of volition.

      3. According to Bethrick, his definition of PCM excludes two aspects that undermine his claim.

      4. First, Bethrick claims that the fact that a supernatural and eternal God cannot logically nullify his own existence or recreate Himself is excluded from his definition of PCM.

      5. Second, Bethrick claims that the fact that theists cannot generally create objects through an act of volition is excluded from his definition of PCM.

      6. Objectivist Bethrick has created a highly specialized definition of a universal concept that denies the universality of that concept and arbitrarily excludes aspects that refute his claims.

      7. Any highly specialized definition of a universal concept of reality that denies the universality of that concept and arbitrarily excludes aspects for subjective reasons is an invalid and false definition of that concept.

      8. Therefore, Bethrick’s definition of primacy of consciousness is invalid and false.

      You can't avoid the truth forever, Dawson.

      Delete
    11. In another comment you wrote, "This is clear and obvious to anyone who grasps what’s at issue here – i.e., the relationship between consciousness and its objects."

      Bethrick told me that I assume the primacy of consciousness as a theist. Hmmm. maybe I can make things appear out of thin air. Oh, wait. That is another condition not allowed by Bethrick's definition of primacy of consciousness. And, we all know, only what the "objectivist" defines as allowable in his metaphysical primacy is allowed. :)

      Delete
    12. As far as I can see, Dawson, you are agreeing to the following points in my argument:

      "3. According to Bethrick, his definition of PCM excludes two aspects that undermine his claim.

      4. First, Bethrick claims that the fact that a supernatural and eternal God cannot logically nullify his own existence or recreate Himself is excluded from his definition of PCM.

      5. Second, Bethrick claims that the fact that theists cannot generally create objects through an act of volition is excluded from his definition of PCM."

      Do you agree, Dawson, with these points?

      Perhaps if we take the points one at a time Mr. Bethrick will take some accountability for the piecemeal definitions he scatters across the Internet. Let's hope so.

      Delete
    13. Rick,

      Answers to your questions are all right here:

      Warden's Persisting Failure to Integrate

      Read and enjoy!

      Regards,
      Dawson

      Delete
    14. It is fairly simply to point out the failure of your posted rebuttal:

      "Similarly, if some item of one’s set of beliefs assumes the primacy of consciousness, it does no good to say “But these other beliefs don’t assume the primacy of consciousness, so your claim is undermined.” This is as ridiculous an example of crass context-dropping as I’ve ever seen! Since the definition of the primacy of consciousness distinguishes the instances it subsumes from everything else, an instance of the primacy of consciousness is still an instance of the primacy of consciousness"

      - Let's see, "if some item of one’s set of beliefs assumes the primacy of consciousness,"

      You have chosen one example, God creating physical things, that does not actually incorporate the meaning of "metaphysical" and "primacy" as a concept, Dawson. As noted in a previous post of mine, true metaphysical primacy has to do with the ultimate supremacy of power. You just affirmed that yourself in a recent comment:

      "But thesaurus.com shows that ‘supremacy’ is essentially synonymous with ‘primacy’.

      So what is the ACTUAL metaphysical primacy of theism? God's eternal unchanging existence. You can CLAIM that God's creative acts signify Theism's metaphysical primacy, but you are not utilizing the true definition of "metaphysical primacy." RationalWiki was correct. Your wish to ignore basic and accepted definitions in favor of flawed and strange definitions puts you in a class by yourselves. :)

      Delete
    15. Rick,

      You wrote: “I hardly see how questioning faulty definition is a ‘red herring’."

      You need to open your eyes in order to see. And no, you’re not questioning my definitions, you’re simply asserting that they are faulty. Even here, your statement assumes that they are faulty. It’s a red herring because you’re making the definition of a term the issue of contention rather than dealing with the essence of my argument.

      I wrote: "But thesaurus.com shows that ‘supremacy’ is essentially synonymous with ‘primacy’.

      You responded: “Hmmm. So the fact that a spiritual God holds supremacy over the physical world somehow means that God's consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over his eternal existence?”

      No more than when you say “with regard to the physical world, however, God's conscious volition holds supremacy over all,” that you mean that your god’s conscious volition holds primacy over its own existence. If you mean something else, then why can’t I mean something else?

      Clearly you’re saying that your “god’s conscious volition holds supremacy over all” the physical world rather than “over his eternal existence.” Thus in the case of the relationship between your god’s conscious volition and the physical world, that would be the primacy of consciousness.

      I find it quite unbelievable that you’re truly so confused as not to grasp this.

      [continued…]

      Delete
    16. You wrote: “You have chosen one example, God creating physical things, that does not actually incorporate the meaning of ‘metaphysical’ and ‘primacy’ as a concept, Dawson.”

      It does, since (a) the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects (as I have explained numerous times now), and (b) as Christianity teaches, the relationship between your god’s consciousness and the things it is said to have created entails the metaphysical primacy of your god’s consciousness over those things that it is said to have created. Otherwise, if your god’s consciousness did not have metaphysical primacy over its objects, it could not create them by an act of will. And yet Christianity is explicit that its god creates things by an act of will.

      Now, if you want to say that your god creates things in some mindless manner, then (and only then) could you have any way of sidestepping the primacy of consciousness. But you’ve already affirmed the primacy of consciousness in an explicit manner, which can only mean that you concede Step 2 of my argument. I’m guessing you simply are not able to grasp these fundamental truths at this point.

      You asked: “So what is the ACTUAL metaphysical primacy of theism?”

      The primacy of your god’s consciousness over any objects distinct from your god. An apple, for example. When your god is conscious of an apple, which holds primacy over the other? The apple, or your god’s consciousness? Does the apple conform to your god’s conscious will? If so, that’s the primacy of consciousness right there.

      You wrote: “God's eternal unchanging existence.”

      So, your god is not a conscious being? Interesting. Most theists imagine that the god they worship is conscious.

      If you say that your god is conscious, then what is it conscious of? Is it not conscious of things in the universe? In the relationship between your god’s consciousness and anything in the universe that it is conscious of (an apple for example), which holds metaphysical primacy in the context of that relationship: your god’s consciousness, or the objects of its consciousness?

      According to Christianity, what you call “supremacy of God’s consciousness” in the context that you yourself intended (“with regard to the physical world”) entails the primacy of the Christian god’s consciousness with respect to any objects distinct from itself. Observe:

      1) If your god wills that an apple exists in a certain location at a certain time, will the apple come into existence as willed or not? A yes here would affirm the primacy of consciousness since the apple’s very existence results from your god’s conscious actions. A no here would mean that any apple that exists, exists independent of your god’s conscious activity – i.e., your god would not have supremacy over the physical world.

      2) If your god wills that the apple is of the golden delicious variety, will the apple be a golden delicious apple? A yes here would affirm the primacy of consciousness since the apple (the object of your god’s consciousness) obeys your god’s conscious actions. A no here would mean that the apple would not obey your god’s consciousness – i.e., your god would not have supremacy over the physical world.

      3) If your god wills that the apple becomes a banana, will the apple become a banana? A yes here would affirm the primacy of consciousness since the apple obeys your god’s conscious actions. A no here would mean that the apple would not obey your god’s consciousness – i.e., your god would not have supremacy over the physical world.

      So how do you answer these questions?

      1) Yes or no?
      2) Yes or no?
      3) Yes or no?

      Don’t tell me, you’re not going to answer, right?

      [continued…]

      Delete
    17. You wrote: “You can CLAIM that God's creative acts signify Theism's metaphysical primacy, but you are not utilizing the true definition of ‘metaphysical primacy’."

      As has been explained to you numerous times now, Rick, the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects – i.e., things that exist, things that are apprehended by conscious activity. What source defines the term “metaphysical primacy” as having to do with something other than the relationship between consciousness and existence? What determines which definition of a term is “the true definition”?

      If “primacy” means “the state of being first in order, rank, importance, etc.” (per dictionary.com), then a hierarchical relationship is thereby implied by the term: first in relation to what? Objectivism holds that existence holds metaphysical primacy. In relation to what? In relation to consciousness of course.

      You wrote: “RationalWiki was correct. Your wish to ignore basic and accepted definitions in favor of flawed and strange definitions puts you in a class by yourselves. :)”

      We’re Objectivists, Rick. We’re happy to be in a class by ourselves. The fact that we are distinct philosophically is not an argument against the issue of metaphysical primacy or our definitions.

      You refer to “basic and accepted definitions,” but you do not cite any source other than “rationalwiki” and their reaction that Objectivism’s definitions are “strange” (as though that were some knock-down argument). As for “rationalwiki,” their page on Objectivism does give a list of terms which they say have been given “strange definitions” in Objectivism, but “metaphysical primacy” is not among them. In fact, I cannot find any mention of “metaphysical primacy” on that page. So I do not find that they are making the same complaint that you are here.

      The Objectivist definition of metaphysical primacy is a basic and accepted definition; what is more basic than the relationship between consciousness and its objects if not existence as such? Once consciousness enters into the mix, then and only then is a relationship in terms of primacy involved. Show me a source which speaks of “metaphysical primacy” and does not have the relationship between consciousness and existence in view. What source defines the term “metaphysical primacy” in some other way? And what relevance would this have anyway since it’s very possible for terms to have more than one definition? Even within philosophy, the term ‘realism’ has several different meanings. For example, there is realism in terms of universals, there is realism in terms of perception, there is realism in art theory, etc. Thus it is common (in fact, necessary) when philosophers discuss “realism,” that they clarify which theory of realism they’re talking about.

      If you acknowledge the fact that there is a relationship between consciousness and its objects, then you accept the reality of the inputs which inform the term ‘metaphysical primacy’ as Objectivism has in view. That is what my argument is about, regardless of what terms are used to denote this. If you deny the fact that there is a relationship between consciousness and its objects, then you’re performatively contradicting yourself in that very denial. Either way, you’re stuck, Rick.

      So again, Rick, you come back with yet another empty rebuttal. Your objections have no content. So Step 2 of my case is secure (it was all along). Now you need to make your position clear with regard to truth: on your view, is truth objective or subjective? If you affirm that truth is objective, then you concede Step 1 of my argument. If you do not affirm that truth is objective, then you eliminate yourself as having anything of importance to say on the nature of truth.

      So, what will it be?

      Regards,
      Dawson

      Delete
  2. Hello Rick,

    I really enjoy hearing from you. It’s so fun to interact with what you write.

    I had written: “That you need to get your information on Objectivism from "rationalwiki" only confirms that you're only interested in doing a smear job here.”

    You responded: “While there were a number of points at RationalWiki I had not seen published before, I had already drawn the same general conclusions regarding major flaws in Objectivism.”

    I’m afraid that you have yet to persuade me that this is the case, Rick. You don’t like Objectivism because you recognize that it poses a threat to your worldview. You run to “rationalwiki” because it’s already got something put together against Objectivism. The point here is that you do not do your own homework; you rely on another source to speak for you. If you had come to your own conclusions about Objectivism after investigating its primary sources firsthand, then the proper thing for you to do would be to present your own reasoning for your conclusions. But you aren’t doing this. Instead, you’re quoting other sources which are simply recycling the same garbage we’ve seen peddled as though it had any legitimacy (and as though Objectivists had never seen it before). Your choice to redirect our earlier discussion away from my arguments onto something else already tells us that you’re unable to deal with them effectively (and we already knew this from your persisting reluctance to address plain questions directed specifically to you). But now that you’re simply sponging off third-rate websites to do your heavy-lifting for you only makes matters worse for your credibility.

    I had written: “The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of subjectivism, such as your Christian worldview,”

    You responded: “You are mistaken, Dawson.”

    No, I’m not mistaken at all, Rick. Objectivism is the philosophy premised securely and consistently on the primacy of existence metaphysics – i.e., the recognition that the objects of consciousness exist and are what they are independent of conscious intensions. This is the fundamental principle informing the recognition that wishing doesn’t make it so. Now since subjective worldviews are ultimately premised in imagination and wishing, there are hundreds if not thousands of variants of this. Christianity is one of them. Just as the Muslim imagines the Allah he claims to worship, the Christian imagines the Jesus he claims walked the earth and performed miracles 2000 years ago. In terms of fundamentals, there is no difference: both are fantasies.

    [continued…]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dawson,

      In the first comment of your long-winded reply, you reiterated your claim that the only alternative to Randoid Objectivism is subjectivism. I've already attempted to explain why this is not so in the simplest terms possible. And I am beginning to understand that a debate with you regarding metaphysical questions is quite fruitless because you insist on incorporating definitions that are patently false.

      Based upon your own quote noted in the above article, you have put forward a special and personal (i.e. subjective) definition of metaphysical primacy that no one but Randian Objectivists seem to agree with. If not, as I've requested before, present one reputable philosopher other than a Randoid objectivist, who embraces your view of metaphysical primacy. So far, no response on this, Dawson.

      Get a Grip

      If you would like to try to become more objective in your thinking, you might begin by not creating subjective definitions that are biased to support your personal world view. I have no interest in adopting your twisted and false definitions. I've already outlined why:

      No truly objective person would be interested in adopting a definition of metaphysical primacy that is skewed to serve one metaphysical viewpoint. As outlined in a blog post, Bethrick attempted to prove that God does not exist by claiming that theism assumes a primacy of consciousness metaphysics while a primacy of existence metaphysics represents metaphysical truth. Yes, it’s true that theism outlines how God created the temporal material world with an act of the will. However, on a much deeper metaphysical level, God exists eternally and cannot logically nullify or recreate Himself. Furthermore, humans generally cannot create objects through conscious volition. What is a determined objectivist to do? Well, according to Bethrck’s definition of metaphysical primacy, God’s eternal and unchanging existence cannot be considered as a valid metaphysical aspect of theism in this case. And the fact that humans cannot generally create objects upon demand must be ignored. Wow. That's a very inventive and particular definition of metaphysical primacy, isn't it? Quite amazing. One may as well claim that the physical law of gravity holds physical primacy over the physical law of aerodynamics and that the flight of birds and planes cannot be taken into consideration in this case because one has decided that flying things do not count in one’s definition regarding physical possibilities.

      This debate with you is beginning to become very tiresome because you and other objectivists seem to believe that other people must adopt your strange and false definitions as a starting point for debate. Even RationalWiki, a site you apparently dislike very much, could see through this charade. If you were to acknowledge that your definition of metaphysical primacy, as relates to the supposed primacy of consciousness for theism, is flawed, then that would be a starting place for a discussion. As it stands, there is not really much common ground for a debate with someone who demands that others employ blatantly faulty definitions. Would you be willing to acknowledge that your definition of metaphysical primacy is flawed and not objective at all?

      Delete
    2. Rick,

      You wrote: “In the first comment of your long-winded reply, you reiterated your claim that the only alternative to Randoid Objectivism is subjectivism. I've already attempted to explain why this is not so in the simplest terms possible.”

      Yes, and I explained why your simplistic terms were wrong, and you have yet to interact with my points against your simplistic explanation. I am not going to simply accept what you say on your say so, Rick.

      There are strong reasons why subjectivism manifests itself in a broad variety of ways resulting in numerous mystical worldviews – worldviews based on looking inward for knowledge as opposed to looking outward. Since there is only one reality and we discover its contents by looking outward, there can only be one correct worldview in principle. Even many Christians affirm exclusivity in just this sense, but they completely get it wrong when they say that their form of mysticism, which does not differ at all in terms of essentials with other forms of mysticism, is the only true worldview.

      Since looking inward at the contents of our imagination, wishing, dreaming, etc., will produce all kinds of different outcomes (it could be Jesus, it could be Mohammed, it could be Buddha, it could be Avalokitesvara, it could be Zeus, it could be Ahura Mazda, it could be Geusha, it could be Blarko, etc.), there are consequently hundreds if not thousands of variations of worldviews based on the looking inward epistemological model.

      So again, I have explained this. You ignore this, but get frustrated that I still recognize these facts and articulate them before you.

      [continued..]

      Delete
    3. You wrote: “And I am beginning to understand that a debate with you regarding metaphysical questions is quite fruitless because you insist on incorporating definitions that are patently false.”

      No, that’s not what’s happening, Rick. You’re getting frustrated because you are finding that you cannot continue battling against the truth. You have nothing to combat the truth with but a worldview that is ultimately premised in your imagination. Making vague and irrelevant appeals to WL Craig didn’t help; did you really think it would? Again, where has Craig interacted with any of my arguments? If you like Craig’s debates so much, perhaps you should suggest that he debate Dr. Andrew Bernstein; Bernstein wiped the floor with Dinesh D’Souza. Who knows, Bernstein might be happy to do such a debate. Would Craig be willing?

      You say that my definitions “are patently false,” but you’ve nowhere shown this to be the case. Indeed, to do this, you would need to have a good understanding of the nature of concepts and the process by which they are formed, definition being the final step of that process. But where will you go for such an understanding? The bible certainly does not provide a theory of concepts. Neither does either Bahnsen or Van Til. In fact, from what I can find (and I’ve looked), there is no such thing as a distinctively Christian theory of concepts at all, and yet Christians going back to the apostle Paul use concepts all the time. But they have no account for what they casually take for granted.

      Now, as I have explained to you numerous times now, the issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects. This is a legitimate issue in philosophy and has been kicked around in one way or another by various philosophers throughout the history of philosophy, with few ever really coming to consistent terms with it. You have attempted to sidetrack discussion of the nature of this relationship in our exchanges, and instead affirm things like “God did not create himself” and “God cannot nullify his own existence,” none of which addresses any question I have raised on the nature of the relationship between consciousness and its objects. Claiming that my definition is “personal” and therefore “subjective” is just another attempt to slither out of dealing with the issue. If you don’t like the term “metaphysical primacy,” then feel free to call it something else. The issue here is not so much the terms we use, but the nature of the relationship between consciousness and its objects. But again, I don’t see what fault you find with Objectivism’s definition here.

      [continued…]

      Delete
    4. Essentially, Objectivism asks:

      <<In the context of the subject-object relationship, which holds metaphysical primacy over the other: do the objects of consciousness hold metaphysical primacy over the subject of consciousness (the primacy of existence - objectivity), or does the subject of consciousness hold metaphysical primacy over the objects of consciousness (the primacy of consciousness – subjectivism)?>>

      Nowhere do you show that this is an illegitimate philosophical concern. To do so, you would essentially have to say that there is no relationship between the subject of consciousness and its objects to begin with, which would amount essentially to a wholesale denial of the reality of consciousness as such, a position which commits the fallacy of the stolen concept (since one would need to be conscious to affirm this position).

      But it’s already clear that Christianity assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics (i.e., subjectivism), as I have indicated numerous times on my blog. You yourself have conceded this in other discussions, but you resist doing so in discussions with me. For example, in your blog you wrote:

      <<In essence, Lanza proposes that consciousness holds supremacy over the material world. This, of course, is in keeping with the biblical account of Genesis in which the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God.>>

      Notice that in terms of the relationship between consciousness and its objects, here you affirm that the consciousness belonging to the god you imagine holds metaphysical primacy over “the material world” – since you claim that “the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God.” That’s the primacy of consciousness right there, and you’re clearly affirming that this is what “the biblical account of Genesis” teaches.

      Also, just the other day in a comment you added to your blog Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted, you wrote the following to Ydemoc:

      <<With regard to the physical world, however, God's conscious volition holds supremacy over all.>>

      Here again you openly affirm the primacy of consciousness: “God’s conscious volition holds supremacy over all.” That’s the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, Rick. You have clearly and openly affirmed this at two different points, just as other Christians have throughout the history of Christendom. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

      [continued…]

      Delete
    5. Thus you unmistakably concede the soundness of Step 2 of my case against theism, which is:

      P2-1: If theism affirms the existence of a being which can create existence by an act of will, alter the nature of objects which are distinct from itself by an act of will, and/or cause such objects to act by an act of will, then theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.

      P2-2: Theism affirms the existence of a being which can create existence by an act of will, alter the nature of objects which are distinct from itself by an act of will, and/or cause such to act in any way by an act of will.

      C2: Therefore, theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.


      So contrary to what you have stated to me, statements that you have made elsewhere clearly confirm that there is undiluted common ground here. So if you want to contradict yourself – affirming in some conversations things like “God’s conscious volition holds supremacy over all” and “the material world was created by the consciousness and will of God” while choosing to pretend otherwise in discussions with me – you will only make matters worse for yourself.

      Either way, the soundness of my case’s Step 2 is sealed and now beyond dispute.

      [continued…]

      Delete
    6. That leaves Step 1:

      P1-1: If truth is the identification of reality based on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity (such as preferences, likes and dislikes, wishes, fantasies, emotions, temper tantrums, evasion, etc.), then truth rests exclusively on the primacy of existence metaphysics.

      P1-2: Truth is the identification of reality based on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity (such as preferences, likes and dislikes, wishes, fantasies, emotions, temper tantrums, evasion, etc.).

      C1: Therefore, truth rests exclusively on the primacy of existence metaphysics.


      Here you need to make a decision, Rick: Is truth objective or subjective? To make this choice crystal clear, here are the options:

      Option 1: Does truth correspond to facts which are absolute in that they do not conform to conscious intensions (such as wishing, preferences, likes and dislikes, emotions, imagination, dreams, etc.)? Or

      Option 2: Does truth ultimately hinge on personal intensions, wishes, imagination, fantasies, emotions, likes and dislikes, preferences, commands, dreams, etc.?

      If you affirm Option 1, then you affirm the objective analysis of truth: truth is the identification of reality based on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity (such as preferences, likes and dislikes, wishes, fantasies, emotions, temper tantrums, evasion, etc.).

      If you affirm Option 2, then you affirm the subjective analysis of truth: that truth ultimately conforms to conscious intensions rather than absolute facts; that truth conforms to wishing, fantasies, imagination, emotions, commands, likes and preferences, etc.

      I’m betting that if we examine your blog posts, we will find instances where you have either openly affirmed that truth is objective or at any rate treat truths as though they obtained independently of anyone’s wishing, emotions, commands, imagination, dreams, likes and preferences, etc.

      So which option will you go with, Rick? Option 1 or Option 2?

      Meanwhile, since you say that my other argument’s premise affirming that the Christian god is imaginary is “unsupported” (which is, as you put it above, “patently false”), I am still waiting for you to take up the challenge I issued previously:

      Identify the means by which I can reliably distinguish between what you call “God” and what you may merely be imagining.

      Care to take a stab? No?

      Regards,
      Dawson

      Delete
  3. You wrote: “It is apparently not possible for you to accept the logical possibility that objective truth and objective values are ultimately based on God's existence.”

    The very concept of objectivity rests on the primacy of existence metaphysics. One cannot have objectivity on a worldview which essentially says “wishing makes it so.” But that’s Christianity – it holds that a supernatural consciousness’s wishing makes it so. The Christian god wished the universe into being; the Christian god wished Adam into being; the Christian god wished Eve into being; the Christian god wished a worldwide flood to wipe out most of their offspring to rid the world of “iniquity” (a lot of good that did); the Christian god wished that “the Sabbath” be holy; the Christian god wished that coveting your neighbor’s ass is a sin; the Christian god wished to be incarnated in flesh to resemble a human being; the Christian god wished water into wine, etc., etc., etc. On the Christian worldview, it all boils down to the Christian god’s wishing. You can’t get more subjective than this. As Christian apologist Paul Manata admitted: ”…in theism, there’s a sense in which reality is subjective - based on the divine mind.” At least Manata finally conceded this, but only because he was confronted with the issue of metaphysical primacy.

    You wrote: “Anyone interested in looking into this will find that theism offers a much more cohesive explanation of Rand's Objectivism.”

    What is theism’s “cohesive explanation of Rand’s Objectivism”? And on what is it based if not ultimately on the primacy of existence? Is it just more wishing makes it so?

    [continued…]

    ReplyDelete
  4. You wrote: “If God Exists, Then Objective Morality Exists”

    In your paper, I noticed that you cited a secular source (The Oxford Dictionary) as opposed to the Christian bible for your working definition of ‘objective’, which you gave as: “not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.”

    If morality is objective, then what does your god have to do with it? Why would a god, whose personal feelings, wishes, commandments, pleasure, etc., influences everything?

    A truly objective morality would be based on facts which we discover by means of reason, not deliverances of “revelations” from some supernatural source (which anyone can claim to have received). A truly objective morality could only be objective if the facts upon which it is based obtain independently of anyone’s wishing, preferences, likes, commands, imagination, emotions, dreams, etc. In other words, those facts would have to be what they are independent of anyone’s conscious activity. Since however Christianity is not compatible with the view that facts are what they are independent of anyone’s conscious activity, any morality it affirms could therefore not be based on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity. Thus there would be no objective basis for whatever it affirms as morality. Therefore, Christianity’s “morality” would at best be mere subjective opinion disguised to look like something it isn’t. And Christians who are caught up in the imaginative indulgences of worshiping the imaginary Christian god would be none the wiser, for at this point they would be acting on the basis of a confessional investment, not objective facts (since their worldview does not allow for objective facts in the first place). I’m glad these aren’t my problems!

    In your paper, you wrote: “If God exists, then God's eternal nature is an objective fact.” Is that a fact? What is an “objective fact” according to a worldview which is premised on god-belief? What fact could possibly be objective? Christian apologist Chris Bolt writes that “every fact is what it is because God has said it is what it is” (“Redemption in Apologetics,” The Portable Presuppositionalist, p. 162). This can only mean that all facts ultimately hinge on someone’s say-so. But that’s clearly subjective. Going with your favorite Oxford Dictionary, ‘subjective’ means: “dependent on the mind or on an individual’s perception for its existence.” It’s clear that, on the view Bolt expresses here, that “facts” according to the Christian worldview are dependent on a mind for their existence. As Manata stated: “…in theism, there’s a sense in which reality is subjective - based on the divine mind.” So if facts are dependent on a mind for their existence according to Christianity, then there could be no such thing as an “objective fact.”

    [continued…]

    ReplyDelete
  5. Moreover, there would be the question of relevance here. If the Christian god existed, it would be utterly irrelevant to man’s need for morality and the nature of the morality he needs. This is because man needs morality because (a) he faces a fundamental alternative (life vs. death), (b) he therefore needs values in order to live, (c) he needs to act in order to acquire those values he needs in order to live, and (d) he needs a rational code by which he can identify what is a value, what is not a value, and the actions he needs to take in order to acquire those values which his life requires. This is called the moral code of life. According to what Christian teachings say about its god, the Christian god is supposed to be immortal, indestructible, eternal, and therefore would not face the fundamental alternative that man faces. It would not need anything in order to exist, nor would it need to act in order to continue being what it is. Consequently, it would have no objective basis to identify anything as a value or anything as a non-value. Utter indifference to everything would be its only option. It would be like a rock – having no need of anything in order to be what it is.

    Man is a biological organism with the ability to identify the things he perceives by means of concepts. Thus he can identify what he needs in order to live and what poses a threat to his life. He can also identify the actions which he needs to take in order to acquire those values he needs in order to live and avoid those things which pose a threat to his life. He does this by means of reason. This is what Objectivism teaches, Rick.

    By saying Objectivism is a false worldview, you are essentially saying that man (a) cannot identify what he perceives by means of concepts (which is self-refuting: you are using concepts to deny man’s ability to form concepts in the first place); (b) cannot identify what he needs in order to live and what poses a threat to his life (which we surely can; I do this every day – I would think that you do, too); (c) cannot identify those actions which he needs to take in order to acquire those values he needs in order to live and avoid those things which pose a threat to his life (which we surely do; again, I do this all the time); and (d) does not rely on reason in order to live. Additionally, by claiming that Objectivism is false, you would either be (a) saying this as though it were a fact independent of anyone’s wishing, preferences, likes or dislikes, emotions, imagination, dreaming, etc., or (b) saying it on the basis of your wishes, preferences, likes or dislikes, emotions, imagination, dreaming, etc. But there’s the rub: (a) clearly rests on the primacy of existence while (b) clearly assumes the primacy of consciousness. So if you say that Objectivism is false as though this were a fact independent of anyone’s wishing, preferences, likes or dislikes, emotions, imagination, dreaming, etc., you would performatively contradict yourself; if you say that Objectivism is false on the basis of your wishing, preferences, likes or dislikes, emotions, imagination, dreaming, etc., then you’d simply be expressing your own attitudinally charge opinion, which we can dismiss as nonsense. Either way, Rick, your condemnation of Objectivism is in peril.

    [continued…]

    ReplyDelete
  6. In your paper, you write: “If God exists, then human morality is based upon God's nature.” This is sheer nonsense, for reasons indicated above. Man’s morality (i.e., the morality proper for man) is one which is based on his nature as a biological organism (which faces a fundamental alternative between life and death) which is capable of identifying what he perceives by means of concepts. An objective morality is one which is based on *facts* (specifically, not only facts which obtain independently of anyone’s wishing, but which pertain to man’s nature and his life needs). And the means by which we discover this objective morality is called reason. To affirm a morality based on theism is to deny both the objectivity of morality as well as reason as the means by which man discovers and defines his code of morality. Again, if the Christian god existed, it would be utterly indifferent to man’s existence, just as you and I are indifferent to the existence of an ant crawling around in Timbuktu. Even worse, while human beings can discover reasons to value the existence of ants, the Christian god would have no objective basis upon which to value anything. Nothing would be either a benefit or a threat to its existence. So any choices it would make would be utterly arbitrary. And at least the biblical portrait of the Christian god is consistent in at least this sense.

    So your claim that morality is based on your god is all kaput, Rick.

    You wrote: “As far as you Argument From Imagination goes, your premise 4 is not only unsupported,”

    Actually, not only is your claim that my premise 4 is unsupported itself not supported, it is completely false. For one, you offer no justification here for claiming that my premise 4 is unsupported. Moreover, you make this statement in ignorance. For it is supported. In my blog The Imaginative Nature o Christian Theism I present 13 different and self-standing reasons for why we must conclude that the Christian god is imaginary.

    Now Rick, don’t forget that I myself used to be a Christian. I know what it’s like to enshrine the Christian god in my imagination and seek to obey it through the activity of my life. At the end of the day, however, it’s all imagination. When you or anyone else speak of god, I have no alternative but to invoke my imagination just to contemplate what you’re saying. When I read the opening passages of Genesis chapter 1, I have no alternative but to use my imagination to contemplate what it’s saying. When I am told by Christians that I need to fear their god, I have no alternative but to use my imagination in contemplating what they want me to be afraid of.

    I realize you don’t want me to get away with pointing this out and will probably try your best to “refute” me. Of course, I know, I was there myself once as well. Like Mike Licona admits, you want it to be true. It’s a fantasy that you have invested yourself in emotionally, probably for several decades now. You’re like a person who grew up believing in Santa Claus since you were little and simply don’t want to admit that it’s just an invention of the imagination. But if that’s what it is, Rick, that’s what it is regardless of how badly you want to believe it’s true.

    [continued…]

    ReplyDelete
  7. But tell you what. Since you’re likely to continue insisting that your god is real and not merely imaginary, here’s a challenge for you:

    Identify the means by which I can reliably distinguish between what you call “God” and what you may merely be imagining.

    What do you say? Can you meet this challenge head-on? Or will you ignore this, just as you have ignored the many questions that I have posed to you in my blog entries?

    You wrote: “the body of logical thought and logical debate today implies that it is patently false:”

    Actually, that’s not the case so far as I have seen. In fact, pretty much everything I see from theists confirms that their god is imaginary. Your blog entries are no exception. No amount of logic will make something imaginary real. And no amount of logic will provide an alternative to imagination as the only means by which I can contemplate what Christians call “God.” You can produce a hundred syllogisms every day, Rick, each one leading to the conclusion “Therefore, God exists,” but in every case I still need to use my imagination to contemplate your god. Without man’s capacity to imagine, your god-belief would have nothing.

    And indeed, you have presented no argument to refute my argument. Do you realize that?

    Instead, you wrote: “The leading debater on metaphysics today, William Lane Craig, has defeated all of his atheist opponents using logical arguments.”

    Even if this were true (and you do not show that it is true – you just baldly assert it), it’s irrelevant to my argument. Simply winning debates does not prove that the Christian god is real; nor does it alleviate anyone’s need to imagine the Christian god in order to contemplate it.

    But since you introduced WL Craig here, can you show where Craig has interacted with any of my arguments?

    You wrote: “It's quite easy for secular atheists to posture and pretend that God is a ‘delusion’"

    If it’s true, it’s true, and it should be easy to point out the fact that the Christian god is imaginary. I can do it. I’m honest enough to recognize when I’m imagining something. Why aren’t you?

    You wrote: “when, in reality, Dawkins' argument is so flawed that he cannot help but to offer a long list of childish excuses for not debating Craig”

    What does Dawkins or his choosing not to debate Craig have anything to do with my argument? None that I can see.

    [continued…]

    ReplyDelete
  8. You realize, do you not, that you have a persisting habit of trying to push discussions away from the topic at hand. I asked how you would interact with my argument. You claimed that its premise 4 is unsupported, but this claim of yours is false. But even more importantly, where do you show that premise 4, or any part of my argument, is in error? Nowhere from what I have seen.

    You wrote: “Stephen Law presented a 2 hour critique of The God Delusion and not once did he even address or evaluate the ‘central argument’ of the book, as outlined by Dawkins himself.”

    What does this have to do with my argument? Nothing. Again, irrelevant. Maybe you can’t tackle my argument after all?

    You wrote: “So, if anything, the burden of proof today seems to be on the atheist today to attempt to gain some kind of traction in supporting atheism.”

    Why do you think this? If there is no god, what exactly does an atheist need to prove, and to whom do you think he needs to prove it? There will always be people who believe false things. Christians are an example.

    You wrote: “Your personal argument has a number of fallacies that have been pointed out”

    Yes, you did try to find fault with it, but I have already shown how your efforts to do so have failed. My argument has been defended and vindicated, and I have produced another argument which you have not challenged (unless you really think saying that WL Craig has won a bunch of debates somehow serves as a challenge against my argument – which I have answered above).

    You can continue imagining your god all you want, Rick. I would never deny the fact that you have a right to govern your imagination as you please. But really, you should admit it when you’re imagining something. Don’t you agree?

    You asked: “By the way, Dawson, what would you consider the strongest argument against God's existence if you had to choose one.”

    Hmm.... there are so many! It’s hard to say which is the best. But tell you what. You tell me: What would you consider to be the strongest argument against the existence of square circles if you had to choose one? What would that argument be?

    Meanwhile, I’ll stick with the arguments that I’ve already presented, for clearly they’ve got folks like you hanging on the ropes.

    Regards,
    Dawson

    ReplyDelete
  9. I. Pragmatic Considerations Refute Objectivism

    The author is using a straw-man argument based on a false assumption that equates benevolence with virtue. The author then proceeds with an ad-hominem attack before quoting a RationalWiki article containing blatant and deliberate misrepresentations of Ayn Rand and the philosophy of Objectivism, for example indicating that according to Objectivism acts of benevolence and raising children are immoral, and that Ayn Rand was a drug addict, among other ad-hominem attacks.

    If the author had actually read at least the introduction of “The Virtue of Selfishness”, they would have seen that Ayn Rand makes it clear (paragraph 5) that a rationally selfish person is not one “who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the mindless whims of any immediate moment”, however this is the the definition the author has chosen for the Objectivist concept of “rational selfishness”.

    The author also insists on using a utopian vision as a “pragmatic” benchmark. Leaving that contradiction aside, it would be more correct to say that if everyone practiced the principles of Objectivism (which not even Objectivism claims is a realistic outcome) people would be rational, logical, productive, and able to pursue their own interests without using physical force on others or having physical force used against them. On the other hand, the closest in history that we've come to the author's “utopian” view of a Christian world is Medieval Europe, which nobody would dare hold up as an example of anything resembling “pleasant” or “functional”.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vince,

      >“I. Pragmatic Considerations Refute Objectivism The author is using a straw-man argument based on a false assumption that equates benevolence with virtue.”

      Hmmm. You like the third person, Vince? OK. Vince offered no actual quotes of mine to support his “straw-man” claim. Then he launched into an obvious straw-man argument of your own. Vince equates any critique of Rand’s selfishness with a summary of “mindless whims.” Lame straw man, Vince.

      Take Alan Greenspan, for example. I doubt anyone would equate him with “mindless whims.” Nevertheless, as a devoted objectivist, Greenspan eventually admitted that his idolization of “self-interests” was misguided:

      "I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."

      https://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/10/25-6

      Greenspan professionally represented the US Federal Reserve, perhaps the most corrupt private organization in US history, wherein a group of private bankers gained control over the printing of US money through the secretive presidential signing of the “Federal Reserve Act,” signed December 23, 1913. It would not seem that selfishness “cares for no living being” – Rather, it seeks to take care of the similar minded first and foremost.

      A central problem with Rand’s ideal of selfishness is that it does not take into account the corrupt core of human nature.

      It is not very surprising that objectivist Greenspan worked for a corrupt organization founded by elitist bankers who usurped U.S. sovereignty and contracted a right to steal from the American people to serve their own selfish interests.

      Vince claims that I have, “a false assumption that equates benevolence with virtue.” Is it really my personal false assumption? No. As a matter of fact, benevolence is taken to be a rather objective moral quality. The Stanford Encyclopedia (on Ayn Rand) describes the absence of benevolence as “conspicuous” in their review:

      “Conspicuous by their absence from Rand's list of the cardinal virtues are the “virtues of benevolence”, such as kindness, charity, generosity, and forgiveness.”

      It would be conspicuous to claim that “smoking is good” or “Bribery is OK” and the claims of Rand’s “virtues” are equally untenable for reasons obvious to most people. A central problem with moral relativism is the lack of an objective basis for defining “the common good.”

      What would that basis be for Objectivism, Vince?

      Vince equates pointing Rand’s drug with an ad hominem attack. But where does moral relativist Rand ever state that such behavior was a mistake or a poor choice? Quote, please. Evidently, it was her drugs that helped her to write The Fountainhead. Rand also employed and promoted smoking. Is it an ad hom attack to point that out? I don’t think so, Vince.

      Delete
    2. > "Vince offered no actual quotes of mine to support his “straw-man” claim".

      I was referring to the essence of your entire argument. A straw man is when you misrepresent someone's position in order to more easily attack it. You've misrepresented Objectivism's position by trying to show that because it doesn't hold benevolent acts as necessarily virtuous, and that because a RationalWiki article claims that Objectivism holds it as immoral to be or to raise a child, you conclude that life would be "hell on earth" if everyone was an Objectivist. I then gave you a direct quote from known Objectivist literature showing that your representation was mistaken, thereby exposing the straw man argument. I wasn't equating your critique with anything, I was pointing out that your critique was based on a mistaken position.

      Then you try to show the "corrupt core of human nature" via an appeal to authority by bringing Alan Greenspan into the discussion - not only an appeal to authority, but association fallacy as well as judgmental language ("Greenspan professionally represented the US Federal Reserve, perhaps the most corrupt private organization in US history", "It is not very surprising that objectivist Greenspan worked for a corrupt organization founded by elitist bankers who usurped U.S. sovereignty and contracted a right to steal from the American people to serve their own selfish interests."). It would be more convincing if the debate avoided blatant fallacies.

      Then you again quote from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Nobody denies that Objectivism sets itself apart by the fact that it doesn't hold benevolent acts as virtuous. However, you're using the word "conspicuous" to imply a value-judgement by providing examples which are regarded as bad not because they are conspicuous, but because they are harmful. It would also make me conspicuous if I walked around claiming that trees are made of marshmallows, but it wouldn't necessarily make me "bad" by your ethics. You're placing your own, negative value-judgement on the 'conspicuous lack of benevolent virtues' by operating under the assumption that 'benevolence is a virtue' is an objective fact, which you attempt to demonstrate via appeal to authority (the Encylopedia) and ad populum (“...claims of Rand’s “virtues” are equally untenable for reasons obvious to most people”).

      > "A central problem with moral relativism is the lack of an objective basis for defining “the common good.” What would that basis be for Objectivism, Vince?”

      This is a loaded statement because Objectivism denies that "the common good" is a valid end in itself, but to answer your question as directly as possible: the Objectivist basis for morality is the fact that each person must act in their own rational self-interest in order to survive.

      > "Vince equates pointing Rand’s drug with an ad hominem attack. But where does moral relativist Rand ever state that such behavior was a mistake or a poor choice? Quote, please. Evidently, it was her drugs that helped her to write The Fountainhead. Rand also employed and promoted smoking. Is it an ad hom attack to point that out? I don’t think so, Vince.”

      Yes, it is, by definition. It's also poisoning the well, and an abusive fallacy. Especially when misleading information is used to make your point. The “drugs” that you refer to were prescription amphetamines (weight loss pills) that she used until her doctor stopped them. Objectivism does not regard the use of drugs as such to be immoral, because drugs can provide value to people's lives when used rationally. If Ayn Rand abused drugs, then yes, her actions were immoral according to Objectivism. Pointing out the character faults in Ayn Rand does not relate in any way to the truth or falsehood of Objectivism qua philosophy.

      Delete
  10. II. Proven Science Refutes Objectivism

    This argument presents Objectivism as clashing with the empirical observations of Quantum Mechanics, when in fact it is clashing with the philosophical extrapolations to the macroscopic world that are made from those observations.

    Regardless of what the primary nature of matter happens to be, Objectivism views the philosophical implication 'the metaphysical nature of reality is inherently probabilistic' as a gross contradiction with the perceived macroscopic world which is orderly and predictable.

    Finally the author concludes this 'refutation' with the assertion that the foundation of objective reality is “God's eternal existence”, which is circular reasoning. 'Existence' means 'to have an objective reality.'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >“II. Proven Science Refutes Objectivism This argument presents Objectivism as clashing with the empirical observations of Quantum Mechanics, when in fact it is clashing with the philosophical extrapolations to the macroscopic world that are made from those observations.”

      - This claim by Vince is patently false. In the quote by Dean Sandin, Sandin refers multiple times to problems with scientific phenomena, not philosophical ideas:

      A) “Quantum Mechanics holds that a particle is nowhere and everywhere throughout some extended region, until magic happens…”

      B) “To reject QM as physically wrong is fine. It’s necessary.”

      C) The deeper rot in QM is the admission of non-identity into physical reasoning.”

      Dean Sandin describes a problem of “non-identity” - which is not a “philosophical extrapolation” but an objective problem identified by scientists. Scientists have used the terms non-identity and non-locality to describe quantum states. anyone can look up a multitude of sources to support this. Philosophical interpretations are based on empirical facts. Take the following quote, for example:

      “4. Quantum Physics and the Identity of Indiscernibles

      It should be emphasised, first of all, that quantal particles are indistinguishable in a much stronger sense than classical particles. It is not just that two or more electrons, say, possess all intrinsic properties in common but that — on the standard understanding — no measurement whatsoever could in principle determine which one is which.”

      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-idind/

      Vince continues, “the author concludes this 'refutation' with the assertion that the foundation of objective reality is “God's eternal existence”, which is circular reasoning…”

      This statement was not presented as a logical argument or an integral part of a "refutation" at all. It is simply a point to consider. I suggest that Vince review the following post for a logical argument on that subject:

      The Organizing Principle of the Universe: Hierarchy and the central Truth

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/search?q=hierarchy

      Delete
    2. > “Sandin refers multiple times to problems with scientific phenomena, not philosophical ideas: “

      To make sure this argument is considered in the proper context: The quotes you're referring to are from an internet forum thread from 2009. The discussion itself revolves around a book which details a theory of quantum mechanics utilizing a model based on traditional cause and effect.

      The discussion starts out about the book and some criticisms of it that were posted around the internet. Then Dean enters the discussion with a comment praising the book. Some more comments are made about the Objectivist status of the book, and then Dean joins in again to state that he doesn't consider the book's theory to be linked to Objectivism. Then the discussion begins to turn to the nature of the theory as it relates to Objectivism: is the theory a philosophical issue or one addressed by physics? Some comments are made about what constitutes a proper scientific theory, and then more comments are made about whether or not the book's theory is endorsed by Objectivism.

      Then Dean joins the discussion again with a comment making a distinction between physics issues and philosophical issues; he comments on two issues qua physics and comments on the other (which concerns non-locality, the very issue that your quotes are about) qua philosophy (“Action at a distance (superfluously also called instantaneous action at a distance, and often termed non-locality) would by definition be non-physical (tantamount to magic). It can’t ever rationally be an element of physics. That is a philosophical issue.”). Although he does comment on some points in the capacity of physics, the premise on which he rejects QM is a philosophical one. Your quote (“The deeper rot in QM is the admission of non-identity into physical reasoning”) is actually referencing philosophic concepts (identity, reason, non-contradiction). He even says “It goes without saying that care should be taken in evaluating the philosophical problems in physics”.

      Another poster makes it clear that the discussion is about the philosophic nature of Quantum Mechanics: “Speaking in terms of what QM means conceptually, many physicists can't seem to understand it at all, and any attempts to understand it have resulted in interpretations of QM that reject the law of identity or any sense of a rational metaphysical world-view.” Then Dean makes it clear that he was talking about the philosophic implications: “In context, I was referring to the theorists who are willing to confront and happily admit to the logical consequences of the premises of QM” and “[They don't] worry about what the logical end point of QM's theoretical stance might be”. More comments in the thread also make clear that the discussion centers on the philosophic implications: “Is there any dispute that saying non-locality violates causality is a philosophical argument?” followed by “No one here has disputed this”. Another comment: “Nonlocality is rightfully ruled out on philosophical grounds because it is impossible according to a realist, metaphysical view.”

      The discussion then ends with about 5 pages of comments dissecting the technical details of the book's theory vs. the accepted theory. Here Dean makes lots of remarks qua physics about technical details of the theory, and eventually the thread ends.

      To summarize: In an Objectivist internet forum, there is a discussion from 2009 about a book detailing a new theory about Quantum Mechanics. This discussion starts out with people commenting on criticisms on the book (this is where Dean joins the discussion) and the comments soon turn to the philosophical nature of the theory. Although Dean makes some comments qua physics about the accepted Quantum Mechanics theory, it is mostly to highlight the difference between the philosophical and the physical issues. Eventually the discussion turns to more detailed physics, but the quotes that you've mined from Dean are when the discussion is philosophic in nature.

      Delete
  11. III. Identified Logical Fallacies Refute Objectivism

    The author attempts to refute the philosophy of Objectivism by attempting to refute an argument given by an Objectivist against the existence of God. Aside from the fact that the scope of the author's tactic is far too narrow to sufficiently refute an entire philosophy, the argument rests on the assertion that “a definition of metaphysics which is skewed to serve one metaphysical viewpoint cannot be valid”. Since this is really a claim about epistemology and not metaphysics, it would be wise for the author to compare the Objectivist basis of knowledge (sense perception) with the Theistic basis of knowledge (divine revelation) and decide for his or herself which definition is more or less skewed to one metaphysical viewpoint.

    In the “Argument from Sensorial Uncertainty”, the first premise is that “A possibility of deception and illusion exists regarding the use of the senses.” This premise is simply false because there is no deception or illusion possible regarding the senses, only in our conceptual identification of the data provided by our senses. Some classic examples here are a stick appearing to be bent in water or a mirage of an oasis in the desert. Neither of these exhibit a failure of the senses to provide the data of existence - our senses report ALL relevant facts of reality, including the fact that the light waves striking our eyes are affected by the density of water or by heat waves. Not properly identifying a fact of reality is not a basis for disqualifying the senses. In fact, all supposed 'deceptions and illusions' of our senses have been identified and documented by science and are now know to be *exceptions* to our usual awareness of existence. If these 'deceptions and illusions' were constant and without exception, our senses indeed couldn't be trusted and survival simply wouldn't be possible in the world.

    In the “Argument Demonstrating that Objectivism is Self-Refuting”, the author asserts in the first premise that Objectivism denies the efficacy of human volition in arriving at truth. This is completely the opposite of the Objectivist position which states that *because* humans can err in their ability to form proper concepts, a volitional process – logic - is required to tie concepts back to sense perception. The author is also relying heavily on his or her conclusion drawn from their previous argument, the “Argument from Sensorial Uncertainty” which was sufficiently refuted.

    In the author's closing remarks, he or she claims that “It is quite difficult to attempt to debate with a person who sincerely feels justified in utilizing his special definitions of universal subjects in an attempt to try and prove a point”. This point arrives two sentences after the author's personal statement that “As a theist, I would prefer to point to the truth of God through a focus on the wisdom and power of God demonstrated in the organizing principle of the universe.” I will leave it to you, the reader of my comments, to identify the glaring contradictions between these two statements.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >>III. Identified Logical Fallacies Refute Objectivism The author attempts to refute the philosophy of Objectivism by attempting to refute an argument given by an Objectivist against the existence of God.

      - Vince points to only one aspect of my critique of Objectivism as though it were the whole. I also pointed out some inherent flaws in Rand’s primacy argument, but Vince failed to address them. Rand’s primacy argument is used as support by objectivists to pit a naturalistic view against a transcendent view, but this is done in a highly deceptive and underhanded manner. Pekoff, Thorn and others basically use the same strategy in attempting to disprove Theism:

      "As outlined in a blog post, Bethrick attempted to prove that God does not exist by claiming that Theism assumes a primacy of consciousness metaphysics while a primacy of existence metaphysics represents metaphysical truth. Yes, it’s true that Theism outlines how God created the temporal material world with an act of the will. However, on a much deeper metaphysical level, God exists eternally and cannot logically nullify or recreate Himself. Furthermore, humans generally cannot create objects through conscious volition. What is a determined objectivist to do? Well, according to Bethrck’s definition of metaphysical primacy, God’s eternal and unchanging existence cannot be considered as a valid metaphysical aspect of Theism in this case. And the fact that humans cannot generally create objects upon demand must be ignored. Wow. That's a very inventive and particular definition of metaphysical primacy, isn't it? Quite amazing. One may as well claim that the physical law of gravity holds physical primacy over the physical law of aerodynamics and that the flight of birds and planes cannot be taken into consideration in this case because one has decided that flying things do not count in one’s definition regarding physical possibilities."

      Vince then claims that the, “Theistic basis of knowledge” is, “(divine revelation).”

      Divine revelation is only one aspect of knowledge for theists in practical terms. Revelation allows a person to receive important philosophical and spiritual truths that one would otherwise be opposed to. As noted in a previous post, atheist apologists tend to avoid logic like the plague.

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-top-atheist-apologists-avoid-logic.html

      Rand's primacy argument is so full of logical fallacies it should be in the Guiness book of World Records for "Most Logical fallacies in a Philosophical argument" I embedded a link in the above post as a reference to the many logical fallacies.

      Dawson Bethrick has been avoiding very simple and straightforward questions about Objectivism and this is evidence that he is avoiding the errors of his beliefs and he is not able to come to terms with the fact that his beliefs are not logically supported.

      Vince offers another false statement here:

      "In the “Argument from Sensorial Uncertainty”, the first premise is that “A possibility of deception and illusion exists regarding the use of the senses.” This premise is simply false because there is no deception or illusion possible regarding the senses, only in our conceptual identification of the data provided by our senses."

      - Since when does "the use of the senses" NOT include the "conceptual identification of the data provided by our senses" ???

      Obviously, using the senses does include the interpretation of the data. Thanks, though, Vince, for underscoring the fact that the data is always open to misinterpretation!

      Delete
    2. Vince then offers a comment attacking the following argument:

      Argument Demonstrating That Objectivism is Self-Refuting

      1. According to the objectivist definition of truth, truth values influenced by either subconscious preconceptions and/or human volition are not valid.
      2. All thought and all perceived truth values may be influenced by subconscious preconceptions and/or human volition.
      3. Therefore, according to Objectivism, no truth values may be considered unequivocally valid.

      Vince states, "This is completely the opposite of the Objectivist position which states that *because* humans can err in their ability to form proper concepts, a volitional process – logic - is required to tie concepts back to sense perception."

      Vince is missing the point. If he would address one premise at a time, this might be more clear for him. All information, all considerations of logic, all truth, passes through a subjective consciousness at one point or another. There is no way to avoid this. And anything that passes through a subjective consciousness is subject to subjective errors. It is true that logic can help as a standard or referent. But even logic is open to subjective determinations. Objectivists, after all, are ready to dismiss quantum mechanic non-locality because it does not line up with their outdated Aristotelian concepts of logic and determination.

      Vince closes with a statement:

      "I will leave it to you, the reader of my comments, to identify the glaring contradictions between these two statements."

      On the one hand, we have objectivists offering points riddled with logical fallacies and contorting metaphysical primacy with metaphysical censorship. On the other hand, an argument using clear premises and no abuse of definitions. Yes, do choose wisely.

      Delete
    3. > "Vince is missing the point. If he would address one premise at a time, this might be more clear for him."

      I *was* taking your argument one premise at a time by responding to your first premise which is a false representation of Objectivism. After addressing the flaws in the first premise it's not necessary to continue with the second.

      You state that Objectivism views knowledge influenced by human volition as invalid, and I stated quite clearly that Objectivism holds logic, a process of volition, as a validating process. Therefor, human volition isn't just a means of knowledge, it is the ONLY means of conceptual knowledge. You're simply operating on the assumption that sense perception is somehow unreliable.

      > "On the one hand, we have objectivists offering points riddled with logical fallacies and contorting metaphysical primacy with metaphysical censorship. On the other hand, an argument using clear premises and no abuse of definitions. Yes, do choose wisely."

      Considering that you've completely misrepresented Objectivism in the first premise of your argument, it obviously can't be considered clear and without the abuse of definitions.

      Objectivism views sense perception as the base of knowledge, which is the only place that you can reasonably start. You claim that Objectivism 'contorts metaphysical primacy with metaphysical censorship', which I take to mean that we 'cut God out' of metaphysics, which isn't true: God *isn't there* metaphysically, or else we would have some evidence for him via sense perception!

      Your arguments assume that God exists, which you know by divine revelation, which can't be verified by logic... so how can you possibly claim that your arguments are logical when your arguments are subverting the hierarchy of knowledge? Again, the key question here is: how do you distinguish between divinely-revealed truth and your imagination?

      Delete
  12. My estimation of this article is that the author's misrepresentations of Objectivism are not only false but deliberately false; there is no discussion of any details of the philosophy, only ad hominem attacks and bizarre interpretations based on second-hand internet articles and videos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very funny, Vince, especially considering that your comments are riddled with oversights, misrepresentations and patently false statements.

      Delete
    2. Regardless of the quality or effectiveness of my comments and arguments, it doesn't change the fact that you are misrepresenting the philosophy of Objectivism deliberately in order to make it an easy target. You have made no attempts beyond reading second-hand internet articles to understand any points of Objectivism.

      The bottom line is that you simply believe in God and want it to be true, therefor you're searching for ways to make it so. I have no particular opinion on this matter: if God exists, I welcome him to interact with me in the same way that he created the rest of reality to interact with me: via sense perception, the only way that we get any information about reality.

      Delete
    3. >Regardless of the quality or effectiveness of my comments and arguments, it doesn't change the fact that you are misrepresenting the philosophy of Objectivism deliberately in order to make it an easy target.

      - Your comment is nonsensical, Vince. I have clearly and specifically pointed out why your critique of my argument is flawed. Using specific points, I demonstrated that I was NOT "misrepresenting" Objectivism.

      The bottom line is that you, Dawson and other atheists I have debated demonstrate an emotional and ideological commitment to atheism. Your resist following the logic that points to God's existence, as noted in recommended posts, and instead cling to illogical and deceitful philosophies. Go to the following article, Vince, and find fault with the premises. Explain to me why this does not logically point to the existence of a sentient Creator:

      The Organizing Principle of the Universe: Hierarchy and the Central Truth

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

      Delete

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