Friday, August 15, 2008

Flying Catfish, continued

The discussion with the Jolly Nihilist continues.

First off, I'd like to point out that he hasn't answered the questions raised here.
As he said here:

My First Principle—that being, evidence is the best, most reliable way for humans to approximate truth—is materially different from the mathematics example because evidence (relevant facts) can be marshaled to demonstrate evidence’s utility. Because of this, my postulate is self-subsisting.

That was a while ago, and he's had several chances, but all he's done is to raise questions about my own position. That's fine with me, but it certainly doesn't get him anywhere. No one who reads his blog or his comments would think that he is unsure or agnostic about whether he's right, about whether he is pretty sure that evidence is the best way for humans to approximate truth, but if he doesn't defend his own position and if he destroys mine, then he's left drifting in a morass of agnosticism.
Unfortunately and interestingly, by way of reminder to everyone, he won't have any way to get there b/c he won't have any argument showing that his argument is valid. This is all about how he proves anything.

And notice how he's vacillating. One moment he's crying "axiom!" to get out of the infinite regress of asking for evidence for the evidence for the evidence for the evidence for the evidence for the idea that evidence is a good way to discover truth.
The very next minute he's saying "evidence (relevant facts) can be marshaled to demonstrate evidence’s utility", thereby utterly begging the question.
The next minute he's differentiating between a "Cosmic" 1st Principle (CFP) and a "Philosophical" 1st Principle (PFP) and claiming that his PFP is useful for observing and living in this universe. This... "cosmos", if you will. Hmm. Seems a little arbitrary.

Of course, we could just take the JN's word for it, in which case we grant, apparently with his full assent, that his PFP is totally abstract, and therefore we must question its worth as regards the real world. I brought this up before as well and the JN has not responded.

He goes on:

I do not have to deal with the “brain in a vat” question because the location of my brain—inside my skull—is manifest.

This deals with the concept in point 4 here. He's begging the question again.
"Well, obviously I'm not a brain in a vat. My brain's right here!"
For one thing, he's never directly observed his brain. He's observed his SCALP, not his brain. I don't encourage him to try it, but to stop begging this question, a bone saw would need to be involved.
Also, if you're a brain in a vat, you are simply being deceived by the electrical stimuli being fed into your brain by the evil alien/demon in charge of creating your illusions. Go ahead and marshal evidence that this is not the case.
Note that this brain-in-a-vat question directly follows without obstacle from his evidentialist principle, but is proscribed by a Christian worldview. The fact that the brain-in-a-vat worldview is self-refuting and is yet easily incorporated into the JN's atheistic worldview simply serves further notice of the invalidity of both.

that the bare facts of reality cannot be the bare facts of reality, but, instead, require “grounding.” The cosmos exists—this is manifest.

1) Prove the cosmos exists, and that you are not being deceived by a grand illusion.
2) I love it - the JN wants me to bring forth evidence all the time for the existence of TGOTB, but when it comes to other things that make him uncomfy, all of a sudden, things are just "manifest". Arbitrary, again.
3) Very well then - TGOTB's existence is just a bare fact of reality. It doesn't require grounding. See, wasn't that easy when we just invoke the ipse dixit? Perhaps the JN thinks he's the infallible Pope of Reason. He's already shown he's willing to put on and take off the Pope of Morality hat when it suits him; now his authority apparently extends to even more areas of life than I originally realised.

Abstract concepts such as principles can be dealt with by the human species—this, per the pattern, is also manifest.

Humans may be able to "deal with" these concepts, but this speaks not at all to the question of whether they're true or not. The JN may have lost track of just what we're arguing here.

As to my "CFP": First, I share Russell’s concern that such musings exist solely in the land of metaphysics, having no real relationship with the world of experience.

Your PFP is also 100% metaphysical, as we've seen and as you've admitted, sometimes (when it suits you). You can't prove evidence is a good way to discover truth by bringing forth evidence. What is your evidence for that?
See how he's forcing us to regress in our conversation? Suddenly we're where we were 3 months ago!

Ultimately, in terms of voluntary actions, one always follows one’s desire.

I had asked him a question about morality - what one SHOULD do. He responds with a long paragraph about what humans DO. Apparently what IS is what OUGHT, but he doesn't always believe that. If he did, he would never, ever criticise any action, ever, b/c it IS. He does criticise certain actions, however, on moral grounds, so he doesn't really believe this. It's hard to talk to someone who's so inconsistent.

The ever-helpful Anonymous steps in with an aside:
Does the evidence that is considered to validate these truths fulfill your preconditions for evidence or not ?

Hmm, let's see. Should I accept evidence that evidence is a good way to discover truth?
Since the question of whether evidence is a good way to discover truth is not yet decided (on atheism), that would be pretty silly, wouldn't it? Welcome to the wonderful world of begging the question, Anonymous. Say hi to the JN; he's been here a while.

Moving to the JN's comments on my rebuttal of the Flying Spaghetti Monster...

The JN said:
I believe the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish (hereafter “ECC”) escaped entirely unscathed

It's only a matter of time. All of these so-called alternatives fail upon varying degrees of examination. But the FSM and the ECC are the exact same thing - ad hoc rhetorical gimmicks to try to beat up one specific argument. No one respects these made-up-on-the-fly devices in real life anywhere else, really.
Dr Funkenstein didn't accept something that is very similar from Plantinga just 2 days ago. One wishes that Dr Funk were consistent enough to call the JN out for doing the same thing he dislikes in Plantinga, but you can't have everything, I guess.
I'd argue that the Plantinga thing is plausible, actually - you don't know what Nick Caveman was thinking when the tiger approached him. You can't go back in time and attach electrodes to his brain or perform a Vulcan mind-meld with him when the tiger approached him. You assume he thinks "tiger - danger - escape = run away", but you don't know that. You're projecting your thoughts onto Nick Caveman without justification.
But, as was pointed out in the ECC/FSM post (and the JN apparently didn't feel the need to interact with this point):

But in this case, we know that no man has ever been between Earth and Mars (except perhaps fleetingly while in orbit around the Earth—a situation that would not be the case for the "ancient books" used in the analogy), and that no one has ever lost their teapot there. The existence of the teapot becomes irrational because the origin of teapots is Earth-bound and likewise bound to humans.

You also referenced self-revelation through the Bible, but I do not see how that is a core essentiality.

It is not an essential attribute for God, but objective revelation is essential for our epistemology. If we don't know anything about God, then... we don't know anything about God. This will be a very important point as these discussions advance.

mixing and matching variables with the core list of essentialities, I could confect 1000 gods…all of them functional Cosmic First Principles.

Go for it, but I only have patience for, say, 3 or 4. Make sure they're your best. Once you will have failed on those 3 or 4, why would anyone have faith in you to get it right eventually?
Such would be rivalled only by evolutionists' faith in natural selection blindly acting on random mutations.

The Green God

1) Maybe TGOTB *does* see everythg tinted green.
2) How is the Green God omnipresent if he has physical eyes with which he sees "green", like we do?
3) How do you know this god exists, and more to the point, how do you know he sees everythg tinted green?


The Melodic God

1) TGOTB *does* have endless background music.
Rev 4:8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY {is} THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME."
Rev 4:9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever,
Rev 4:10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Rev 4:11 "Whorthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created."
2) You even admitted: "It does not dominate the consciousness". Precisely.
This god is no different from TGOTB.
2 down, 2 to go (or, none to go, but again, you can't have everything). Not a good initial showing from the JN.

Finally, Anonymous added another tidbit:
The YHWH won't fit unless he is identical to FSM, in which case he IS FSM and is a little irritated that you've been acting like such a clown and taking His name in vain.

1) How do you know the FSM is the true God?
2) If he's exactly the same as TGOTB, why should anyone believe that the name "FSM", which was made up a few years ago, should take precedence over the extremely early names of God?


Dr Funkenstein said...

I may not have thought Plantinga's analogy was very plausible, but then you have to remember I don't think much about the actions of Christian God is very plausible either, never mind the ECC/FSM.

Fair enough green God/melodic God are fairly silly, but you could easily take a God with the core essentialities and make him a God who worked through theistic evolution or Lamarckian progression rather than creation ex nihilo, who states Jesus was just a man and not actually the son of God etc (he also wouldn't suffer from the convoluted thinking needed to square the trinity with monotheism, which is also an advantage) etc etc

Even if the core similarities are the same, the wealth of more plausible options for a God incompatible with Yahweh are endless

The core similarities only mean that a group of people hit on the essential basic characteristics needed of a God, not that any God possessing said core characteristics is automatically the same as Yahweh or that Yahweh is the default option.

Rhology said...

Dr Funk,

The JN failed in his first 2 tries.

Your turn?
Create a god of your imagination and we'll analyse.

I leave you with this caveat: Isaiah 45: 18 For this is what the LORD says—
he who created the heavens,
he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty,
but formed it to be inhabited—
he says:
"I am the LORD,
and there is no other.

tim said...

ooh maybe you should tell them about the trinity, and how rather than embarrassing us, it actually lets us be intellectuals.

Rhology said...


Well, yeah, what tim said.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Well, you have touched upon enough interesting points here that I suppose a full-length response is mandatory. I am headed to the Mediterranean the middle of next week, but I should be able to pull something together between now and then.

Rhology said...

Ooh, the Mediterranean!!

I love it there. Enjoy! I fear it's as close to Heaven as you're ever going to get, but there is yet hope for you.

And don't worry about replying beforehand - if you can't, it'll be just a continuation of our so-far unhurried pace. :-)

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Indeed, it should be a lot of fun.

I'm taking a 10-day cruise, which includes stops in Italy, Greece and Turkey. I'll also get to see Sicily, to which I have a familial connection.

It's been three years in the making, and should be quite a blast.


The Jolly Nihilist said...

You've been answered here.