Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ferretology

The King of Ferrets, a precocious 15-yr-old, has been engaging me on the topic of God's nature and how that relates to epistemology. I tell you what - I wish I'd been thinking about stuff at this level when I was 15. And I also wish I'd met someone like me now when I was 15. So, good deal for him!


Where did God tell you you weren't a brain in a vat?

In the Bible.


And if you bring up a source quoting God, I can argue it actually being God, and of course God telling the truth.

Then you'd need to tell me how I can know ANYthing and not have a great reason to doubt EVERYthing if God is not telling the truth.


So God rounds to a single sig fig then?

He did there. You'd have a point if He said the circumf was diameter times 58 or something, but He didn't.


He could at least say 31.

Then you'd just complain that He only went to one sig fig. Seriously, let it go. Game over.


What about the insect legs?

Oops, missed that part. To what psg do you refer? And sure, take that one on the house, doesn't count against your total.


I gave a reason why he might want us to see the truth; do you have a reason not to?

A good God? No.
An evil god? Plenty of reasons.


This means the Bible is subject to the evolution of society, because it can be interpreted multiple different ways.

It's TEXT. It has objective meaning by itself.
Or maybe you think I can legitimately say that your comment means that you have repented of your sin and trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord, and want to move to my town to come join my church.
Now, is that legitimate interpretation of your comment? It's not, is it? Why not? B/c it doesn't match WHAT YOU SAID.


Their version of morality was based on empathy, but only for those they viewed as human (or possibly only those they viewed as God's chosen people

The laws are quite specific for all of that. I suggest you educate yourself on said laws and come back with specific examples.


since they specifically forbid enslaving other Israelites

No they didn't. Israelites could sell themselves into slavery to Israelites to repay debts, etc.


they probably viewed others as subhuman

They might have, b/c they were sinful human beings. Question is - does the Bible lead them to do so? No.


Do you think sociopaths, people who lack empathy, have trouble with morality?

I don't understand the question. What does "have trouble with morality" mean?


It's all based on our empathy!

Prove it. I know YOURS is, but I got that the 1st time. You don't have to keep repeating yourself.


I see raping children as bad because it is not something I would want to have happen to me, and I emphasize with the victim.

So?


There's no objective way to evaluate that

Bingo.
Alot of people think it's evil to believe that evolution is the mechanism by which the variety of life we see on Earth today came about. Alluvasudden, you won't agree. That's inconsistent.


How do they survive if they have a violent culture that sees nothing wrong with rape and murder?

Maybe they don't survive. You just got thru telling me that there's no objective value, so why place objective goodness value on surviving as a society? That's not good OR bad. It just IS. You're committing the naturalistic fallacy.


Did they get the idea that raping and murdering little girls works to keep God happy because they tried it and it worked, or something?

No, I'm introducing extreme examples to show that you can't live consistently with your own worldview. Of course God doesn't dig raping little children. I wonder why YOU have any justification to condemn it, though.


Divine command theory is, in fact, a pile of crap.

I don't hold to DCT, so maybe you should find someone who does and ask them to critique that post.


It's probably more arbitrary than the idea of an empathy-based moral system.

1) There's no way to tell that holding to DCT is morally preferable, so again, so what?
2) Even if my actual position were a result of God being arbitrary (which I might concede partially), God is the Creator of the universe. He is responsible for all the laws of physics and such, and the laws He has communicated are no less lawful and prescriptive and descriptive of the universe. Man can't set down morality arbitrarily b/c he's just one man among 6 billion others. He has no ontological position to dictate to other men.

56 comments:

NAL said...

Rho:
It's TEXT. It has objective meaning by itself.

Text has no objective meaning. It certainly has no meaning whatsoever if a person can't read. It has no meaning if it's in a language that the person can't read. If it's in a language that the person can read, it had to have been translated by a subjective human being. If a text is just a random sequence of words, it has no meaning. Then there's the problem that the text must be understood by a subjective human being.

Rhology said...

NAL,

I would never have guessed that you converted to Islam on the moon while singing Gilbert & Sullivan songs! That's a fun story.

NAL said...

It doesn't matter how you interpret my text, the interpretation itself negates objectivity.

Bjørn Østman said...

Alan, I am still waiting for a reply to my last comment on the "challenge" post.

As for this one:

It's all based on our empathy!

Prove it. I know YOURS is, but I got that the 1st time. You don't have to keep repeating yourself.


I really seems to me that you are the one repeating what he said, and not the precocious one.

And I also wish I'd met someone like me now when I was 15. So, good deal for him!

Ew, the conceit is thick. Bleh!

Paul C said...

Further to NAL's comment: a text must be written by somebody, which means that it must be subjective. It must also be read by somebody (usually somebody else), whose interpretation of that text is necessarily subjective. At both ends of the process, subjectivity.

I would never have guessed that you converted to Islam on the moon while singing Gilbert & Sullivan songs!

This phrase demonstrates that text has no objective meaning by itself, which makes it entirely mystifying why you think it demonstrates the opposite.

Rhology said...

Bjorn,

Yes, I'll get to it when I can. I have a family and a job and other responsibilities.

And I was just stating a fact that I wish I'd met someone like me when I was 15.


Paul C,
This phrase demonstrates that text has no objective meaning by itself, which makes it entirely mystifying why you think it demonstrates the opposite.

You appear to be impervious to irony.

Paul C said...

You appear to be impervious to reason, but it doesn't stop you from posting. Also you appear to be impervious to the dictionary, since that wasn't irony.

My favourite moment so far - your argument against the possibility that you're a brain in a vat is that the Bible says so. Why didn't anybody think of that defense so far?

Oh yes. Because it doesn't make any sense at all.

Rhology said...

It wasn't irony? Um, OK.

So if TGOTB is the first principle of epistemology, how precisely does what I said not follow?

Paul C said...

So if TGOTB is the first principle of epistemology, how precisely does what I said not follow?

You mean "if the existence of the God of the Bible" is the first principle of epistemology. If it is, then what you say might follow (then again, it might not) - but you haven't established that it is the first principle of epistemology. Oh, you've stated that it's your first principle of epistemology - but of course one has to believe in that God before you can state that principle. And how does one come to know that God? Through sensory perception. Yet if you're a brain in a vat, then all your sensory perception could be simulated and the Bible itself simply a simulated artefact.

The only way out of the brain in a vat dilemma is if you can mount a purely a priori argument. I've watched one of the Triabloggers do that, and it was like watching somebody trying to build the Eiffel Tower out of spaghetti - messy, embarrassing and ultimately unsuccessful. Feel free to give it a try, though.

Rhology said...

Haha, I actually thought Pike's attempt was quite impressive and convincing. But of course, that should be obvious...

A brain in a vat-based epistemology is actually self-refuting. And if TGOTB is the first principle, then people are not brains in a vat. If the first principle is atheistic, I'd like to see how the brain in a vat is ruled out.

Paul C said...

A brain in a vat-based epistemology is actually self-refuting.

Assertion. Make an argument.

And if TGOTB is the first principle, then people are not brains in a vat.

I have already explained where this falls down from an epistemological perspective. Please make an argument.

If the first principle is atheistic, I'd like to see how the brain in a vat is ruled out.

The brain in a vat position can't be ruled out by any empirically-based argument, including yours. That's the point.

Rhology said...

What do you mean when you class my epistemology as an "empirically-based argument"? I would've thought it was pretty a prioristic.


Make an argument.

If you're a brain in a vat, you can't know whether you are or aren't a brain in a vat. Every single thought you think could be illusory or fed to you by stimuli applied outside your "universe" - the world you experience and think you know. You have no access to the truth of whether you are a brain in a vat, either way.

NAL said...

Is that what you call "self-refuting"?

NAL said...

Instead of "brain in a vat", I prefer "Moriarty in a holo cube".

Rhology said...

Or is that "Moriarty in a holodeck"?
Oooh, a fellow Star Trek fan?
;-)

Paul C said...

I would've thought it was pretty a prioristic.

Your basis is the existence of the God of the Bible. Your knowledge of the God of the Bible comes from the Bible. Therefore your argument is not a priori.

You have no access to the truth of whether you are a brain in a vat, either way.

So it's not self-refuting, it's self-supporting.

NAL said...

Ship in a Bottle

Barclay holding a holo cube running Moriarty's reality.

Definitely one of the best episodes. My favorite episode: "Clues".

King of Ferrets said...

Hey, the thread started without me!
Thanks for the compliment, but I dislike the part after it. At the moment, I sorta wish I hadn't met you, because debating you is rather annoying. Case in point: I ask you if you have a reason an evil God wouldn't let us see the truth, since the truth is whatever he wants anyway, and you say plenty of reasons. I meant give me the reasons!

Anyway, I'll post a response on my blog later. Feel free to trawl through the archives and make more stuff for me to respond to in the meantime.

Rhology said...

Just off the top of my head...
B/c then we could know the truth about love.
About existence.
About good.
About evil.
About who this god is.
About what he expects from us.
About what others expect from us.
About where we came from.

Tell me you never wonder about those things. Tell me it doesn't bug you if you don't know the answer. Of course it does.

So like I said, plenty of reasons.

There's an additional problem with the evil god - how do you define what good is if God is evil? Is good all of a sudden the absence of evil?

And of course, no one is forcing you to debate.

Cheers,
Rhology

Rhology said...

Your knowledge of the God of the Bible comes from the Bible.

Not only the Bible, no. The axiom is that God is and speaks.


Interesting - so if you have no, zero, way to know the truth about reality, it's actually a self-supporting epistemology, huh? OK...

rotsaP loeJ said...

Dude (from the beginning of the thread), not even Derrida thinks texts are completely subjective. He complains about people misreading him all the time.

Daniel Montoro said...

These are infantile arguments. You really need to think a little harder, but don't hurt yourself.

Paul C said...

Tell me you never wonder about those things. Tell me it doesn't bug you if you don't know the answer.

I don't assume there is an answer.

Rhology said...

But of course, you wouldn't know whether there is or not, Paul.

Paul C said...

For a moment I thought you'd started to understand, but then I realised that you think you're somehow being clever.

NAL said...

Rho:
Tell me you never wonder about those things. Tell me it doesn't bug you if you don't know the answer.

If one of your "answers" is that the universe is ~6000 years old, I'd rather have no answer than a wrong one.

Daniel Montoro said...

Well the heretic Calvinist's god is an evil god. They can not logically deny this fact when you consider their predestination views. For them, their false god created some to be with him and others he created to go to hell. Based on what? Because he is a fickle dictator. How is this false god any different from the greek gods only Calvin and his band of mind numb followers really know.

Rhology said...

Daniel,

I'm not a 5-point Calvinist, just FYI. More like a 2.5-point Calvinist.

Cheers.

Daniel Montoro said...

I take it that you agree with me then.

My question is, who can love a god who willy nilly chooses to love one person, say your dad, and not another person, say your mom, only because he can?

Aren't calvinist dumb?

Rhology said...

No I would not agree, and for the record I do not consider you a brother in Christ.

I'd like to know on what basis, if God is indeed like that, if that is indeed the God of the Bible, what standard you'd use to judge that God as "evil". It's the same question as I pose to atheists all the time.

Daniel Montoro said...

Well Rhology, I consider you to be a child of satan, so I could care less what you consider me to be.

Most protestants have never studied philosophy, and if they had it would be like looking at words on the page, and sounding the letters out, but not understanding a single thing.

Socrates asked the question, is something good because the gods say it is, or do the gods say it is good because they recognize it to be good.

Now Rhology, I know that you've probably never read Socrates, and you might feel a little mentally overwhelmed with a philosophical question, but don't get too frustrated yet.

The point is that God is not like that. So we are only making a false hypothetical question to begin with. Secondly we can approach this question under a natural law ethic. Please, don't let the term natural law scare you. I will put it in really simple terms for you to understand.

Does God purposefully create things for them to be destroyed? Is God all truth, all love, all justice? Does God show partiality after he forces people to sin against him like the heretical Calvinistic theology teaches?

Answer these questions, and then we can further the conversation.

NAL said...

Daniel Montoro:
Now Rhology, I know that you've probably never read Socrates ...

Euthyphro is one of Plato's early dialogues.

Daniel Montoro said...

What is your point NAL?

Plato ascribed the question to Socrates, so unless you have talked to either one of them I'm going to go with Plato. Besides, I paraphrased. Socrates was actually asking about pious, and he was put to death partly because of the charge of impiety. So back off moron!

Paul C said...

What is your point NAL?

I think NAL's point is that we might have discovered somebody even more philosophically ignorant than Rhology. You do yourself no favours by accusing people of having "never read Socrates", since Socrates never wrote anything, but please keep going - there's nothing more amusing that two Monopolist Christians trying to tear each others' eyes out.

Daniel Montoro said...

Read Socrates' philosophy you imbecile. Just like I can ask if you have ever read Jesus' words. Jesus never wrote anything either, did he?

Can you object to my point, no. All you can do is act foolish by attacking zero.

Atheist boob!

Paul C said...

Read Socrates' philosophy you imbecile.

Kay thankz i wil.

Just like I can ask if you have ever read Jesus' words. Jesus never wrote anything either, did he?

No, he didn't. In fact, I don't believe that I can reliably know what Jesus' words were - in exactly the same way as I can't reliably know what Socrates' words were.

Can you object to my point, no. All you can do is act foolish by attacking zero.

Why would I attack your point about Euthyphro, when that dialogue is one of the key arguments against the Christian God?

Daniel Montoro said...

"Why would I attack your point about Euthyphro, when that dialogue is one of the key arguments against the Christian God?"

An imbecile would think that.

Paul C said...

Instead of flinging insults like a monkey with a fistful of faeces, why don't you try making an argument?

Daniel Montoro said...

Instead reading arguments like a monkey with a head full of feces how about you address my original argument.

Paul C said...

You didn't make an argument. You cited Euthyphro, and then said "The point is that God is not like that." God is not like what, exactly? Good? Pious? Greek?

You then said "Secondly we can approach this question under a natural law ethic." We could, but that's not an argument, just a statement of fact. We could.

So what is your argument, exactly?

Daniel Montoro said...

Paul, just in case you are personally opposed to reading prior comments, I am not a calvinist heretic.

Secondly, Socrates, or what Plato describes as Socrates' argument since you this concerns you, doesn't address the true God, the catholic God. Anyone who wasn't mind-numb, and I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but it does seem to be the truth, would realize that the gods whom Socrates was making reference to were fickle and did not have the same quality.

Thirdly, the question when concerning the true God is really a false dichotomy.

Peace out!

Daniel Montoro said...

Paul,

I'm not going to stick around all day and wait for you to admit that you haven't the foggiest idea what your talking about.

Paul C said...

Secondly, Socrates, or what Plato describes as Socrates' argument since you this concerns you, doesn't address the true God, the catholic God.

Irrelevant of whether your particular god shares particular characteristics with the gods of Socrate's time, the Euthyphro argument is still relevant. Are things good because God says so, or does God call them good because they are so? If the first, then there is a higher moral authority than God; if the second, then "good" is an arbitrary term. It's a profound problem, and it's not just imbeciles like me that think so - Christian philosophers also continue to struggle with it.

Thirdly, the question when concerning the true God is really a false dichotomy.

Assertion. Make an argument.

Paul C said...

p.s. I'm perfectly aware that I'm largely ignorant about these issues, but I would have hoped that you - as somebody who has clearly worked them all out to his satisfaction - would be prepared to share your wisdom with the rest of us.

Bjørn Østman said...

... doesn't address the true God, the catholic God.

*CHORTLE*

Thanks, that made reading all your crap worthwhile.

Daniel Montoro said...

"Are things good because God says so, or does God call them good because they are so?"

Its a false dichotomy genius.

God is all truth, so he would not command anything evil. God calls them good because they are and God does not lie.

"If the first, then there is a higher moral authority than God; if the second, then "good" is an arbitrary term."

Hey, moron, I think you have it backwards. I can see how you are confused.

I have answered your childish argument above.

Daniel Montoro said...

"Bjørn Østman said...
... doesn't address the true God, the catholic God.

*CHORTLE*

Thanks, that made reading all your crap worthwhile."

Oh your really cool, aren't you!

Moron.

Paul C said...

God calls them good because they are and God does not lie.

If God calls them good because they are good - as you say, because they are good independently of God calling them good - then that means that there is a higher standard of good above God. What is that standard, Daniel?

Daniel Montoro said...

Paul, it is not independent of God, and yet God does not arbitrarily decide. Socrates was addressing principles, not the existence of God and truth.

Paul C said...

Paul, it is not independent of God, and yet God does not arbitrarily decide. Socrates was addressing principles, not the existence of God and truth.

You're right that Socrates was not addressing the existence of God and truth, but I don't think anybody has ever argued that he was.

If "good" is not independent of God, Daniel, then it is dependent on God. If it is dependent on God then it is clearly arbitrary - in the sense that whatever God decides is good, is good.

This means that if (for example) God decided that raping little girls (one of Rhology's favourite topics, not mine) was good, then it would be good. If God communicated that decision to you, would you accept it?

NAL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NAL said...

Daniel Montoro:
God is all truth ...

It is meaningless tautology to say that God is truth if you define whatever God says as being true. To say that God is truth and have the statement mean something, that is, impart additional information, there must exist an independent standard, one not determined by God, against which God can be compared.

Daniel Montoro said...

Paul, what do you think of this argument:

When we view something as being arbitrary, we see it as not being something fixed but whatever the authority deems as being true.

Raping little girls is not in accordance with their nature, so to even consider that scenario would be difficult. Granted, as Creator God established the laws of nature, so in that sense He is above the law. Thowever, there is a reason in nature, and God would not contravene that reason and make it irrational. So why this makes for a good philosophical question, I doubt that it is a practical question for the unchanging God (as Aquinas would define him).

Also, sorry for being the jerk I was before.

Paul C said...

Raping little girls is not in accordance with their nature, so to even consider that scenario would be difficult.

To make that statement, your knowledge of that nature would have to be complete, accurate and infallible, Essentially you would have to be God.

Granted, as Creator God established the laws of nature, so in that sense He is above the law.

Where is your argument that somebody who creates laws is above the law?

I don't see how either of these goes any distance towards refuting the Euthyphro argument, I'm afraid. So my question to you stands - would you accept a command from God if it conflicted with what you believe to be "good"?

King of Ferrets said...

I should have my refutation up in the next few days, early next week at the latest, unless something big comes up IRL.

King of Ferrets said...

Okay, first draft up.