Monday, March 01, 2010

More on science and the problem of induction

Hi AMW,

I'm sorry to say, I think that so far you're not entirely following what I'm trying to say, and that's possibly b/c I'm not explaining myself well.
When I said I'm running reductios, what I mean is that the naturalistic worldview has a dire and unresolved epistemological weakness - the problem of induction. Related to that is the problem of sense perception. You don't know that your specific observations, of which you can make a few hundred on a given topic per year out of quintillions of actual events, reliably lead you to understand the universal, the way the world is. You ASSUME it. Similarly, you ASSUME that your senses accurately observe the outside world, then you ASSUME that the senses properly report that data to your brain, then you ASSUME that the data arrives correctly, then you ASSUME that your brain properly interprets the data, then you ASSUME that you then act properly on that data. But why assume it? B/c the alternative is distasteful - solipsism - but not b/c you have an argument or evidence that your assumptions are true. You HOPE they are, and hey, you ASSUME they are, but you can give no reason for me to think they actually are true.
Further, you have no reason to think that the natural processes you think you observe around you are in operation everywhere. You have no reason to think they have always, or at least since a very long time ago, been in operation. You ASSUME these things are true, but you can't even start to prove it.
This is the massive problem with any naturalistic worldview. That's what I've been riffing off of in my comments to you.

I don't have that problem, since my fundamental basis of knowing things is not observation at all. Nor is it human reason or thought. I can know anything b/c God has spoken and He has assured me that my cognitive faculties are generally reliable though certainly not infallible, since I am made in the image of God. He has promised that in general He holds the universe together, and cycles of seedtime and harvest will remain, the Earth will remain in orbit around the sun, life on Earth will continue and my responsibility is to live for Jesus and proclaim the Good News of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name to everyone, until the Eschaton. I have the unflinching and unchanging promise of the omnipotent Creator God. You have nothing, since you have chosen to distrust Him. But you can always turn back.

Notice that to overturn my argument, you're going to need to give me some argument that your senses and cognitive faculties are in fact reliable AND how you can know that with certainty. Don't assume it, prove it. You're then going to need to solve the problem of induction and let me know how you can know that your pitifully small numerator of things you think you've observed and experienced add up to some meaningful amount given the vastly huge denominator of total events in the universe, and how that ratio informs you with any degree of certainty as to the truth of the universal law you think your observations inform you of. It's a big job, so let's not waste time with "Junior"; you need to start doing some heavy epistemological lifting.

Notice, finally, that even if you were able to give some reason to think you're right, besides your bare assumptions, you still haven't gotten anywhere with respect to the actual question of your overlaying your story over the fossil "record". Even if the fossils were all once organisms, and even if they had parents, that doesn't tell you anything about the parents since you don't know who the parents were or what they were like, what traits they had, what genetic code they had. You don't know anything, but you want to pretend like YOU'RE the guys with the truth on your side?

Peace,
Rhology

32 comments:

NAL said...

Rho:

I can know anything b/c God has spoken and He has assured me that my cognitive faculties are generally reliable though certainly not infallible, since I am made in the image of God.

But in order to know that God has spoken and assured you, you would have to already have generally reliable cognitive faculties. You assume the consequent.

Rhology said...

1) An internal critique of my position is hardly the place for you to start, when you have yet to put forth any argument for your own position in the years I've known you.

2) Yes, of course my cognitive faculties are reliable. They are reliable b/c God made them that way, long before I asked myself the question, "Are my cognitive faculties reliable?"

Billy said...

"Yes, of course my cognitive faculties are reliable. They are reliable b/c God made them that way, long before I asked myself the question, "Are my cognitive faculties reliable?""

What NAL is saying is that you can't prove that God made your faculties reliable without first assuming that your faculties are reliable. It's not an internal critique.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

Rephrased for accuracy:

I can ASSUME anything b/c I ASSUME God has spoken and my ASSUMPTIONS have assured me that my arguments are generally reliable though certainly not infallible, since I ASSUME am made in the image of some God. I ASSUME that a god holds the universe together, I ASSUME cycles of seedtime and harvest will remain, I ASSUME the Earth will remain in orbit around the sun, I ASSUME life on Earth will continue and my notional responsibility is to live in my fantasy and proclaim the Bad News that God isn't going to intercede to save anyone he hasn't already decided to and there's sod-all anyone can do about it. I have the unflinching and unchanging ASSUMPTION of an omnipotent Creator God.

Just for clarity. Unlike Christianity, the "assumptions" of science can generally be verified and put to good use. You can prattle on about the problem of induction until you're blue in the face, but we've still split the atom, built electronic brains that can outthink humans, sent our eyes and ears to other planets, mapped our own genome and a thousand other wonders undreamt of by a millennia of superstitious religionists. It takes infinitely less "faith," if faith you must insist on calling it, to believe in these and the principles that underlie them, than it does to believe in this invisible, impotent, undetectable, irrelevant and uninvolved deity you seem to prefer to believe in.

I read your arguments, then take a look at the world in which we live and laugh my ass off.

Rhology said...

Billy,

OK, as far as that goes I agree with that. I was trying to express that CHRONOLOGICALLY, and with respect to MY OWN APPREHENSIONS of the idea, of self-awareness. Then, CHRONOLOGICALLY later, I examine the presupposition that my cognitive faculties are reliable and ask myself if my worldview supports that idea. If I'm an atheist, the answer is no.


Skeptical Rationalist,

Howdy! I was once where you are, actually.
And yes, you're partly right, I freely admit I presuppose (better to say than to say "assume") the existence of the God of the Bible, and that He speaks. That's my axiom, my fundamental point of departure.

The places where you're wrong are:
I ASSUME cycles of seedtime and harvest will remain, I ASSUME the Earth will remain in orbit around the sun, I ASSUME life on Earth will continue

No, He told me all this. I don't assume it. These are not fundamental presupps for me. It's far better said that they are fundamental presupps for YOU, since you (probably, as I don't know you) base a great deal on the assumption that your inductive judgments properly represent the way the universe actually is. That's the problem of induction. I don't have that problem for the big questions.


to live in my fantasy

You got a problem with living in fantasy? What might your problem with that be?


Bad News that God isn't going to intercede to save anyone he hasn't already decided to and there's sod-all anyone can do about it.

How do you know that this is bad news? Please let me know the objective standard by which you judge good and bad things. Thanks!



Unlike Christianity, the "assumptions" of science can generally be verified and put to good use.

1) This ignores the vast numbers of scientists, both past and present, who made huge advances in science, based on their Christian worldviews. 2) You ASSUME they are advances.
3) You ASSUME they can be verified.
4) You ASSUME they are useful. Prove #s 2-4.



You can prattle on about the problem of induction until you're blue in the face

Yeah, I think I will, thanks. Or at least until I hear someone give me a decent answer instead of ignorantly dismissing it like you've done.


but we've still split the atom, etc

You ASSUME you have. How do you know?

NAL said...

However, the order of your presuppositions must have the presupposition that cognitive faculties are reliable as the first presupposition, since all other presuppositions (God exists, etc.) rely on this one.

Your woldview order is that God exists first and everything else relies on this tenet.

Therefore, your presupposition order and your worldview order are not coherent.

Billy said...

"I was trying to express that CHRONOLOGICALLY, and with respect to MY OWN APPREHENSIONS of the idea, of self-awareness. Then, CHRONOLOGICALLY later, I examine the presupposition that my cognitive faculties are reliable and ask myself if my worldview supports that idea."

As NAL has pointed out, in order to reach your worldview, you first had to assume that your cognitive faculties were reliable. Once you reached your worldview, you were able to verify to your satisfaction that your faculties were indeed reliable - but this was only verifying the assumption that you had already made.

Rhology said...

NAL,

No, the presupp that cognitive faculties are reliable (CFAR) is, as I said, CHRONOLOGICALLY previous for me to APPREHEND, but not in objective overall reality. Whether my CFAR makes zero difference with respect to whether *anyone's* CFAR. Besides, I could be incorrect when I think that I'm thinking about whether my CFAR. I could be totally wrong about that, and have no way to know.

Besides, I'd like to ask you (for the I don't know how many-th time) to give me a reason to think my CFAR.

Billy said...

"Besides, I could be incorrect when I think that I'm thinking about whether my CFAR. I could be totally wrong about that, and have no way to know."

So you assume that your cognitive faculties are reliable, and everything else is subsequent to that assumption - which is exactly what you accuse "atheists" of doing.

Skeptical Rationalist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skeptical Rationalist said...

[bah, typos]

I freely admit I presuppose (better to say than to say "assume") the existence of the God of the Bible, and that He speaks. That's my axiom, my fundamental point of departure.

"Presuppose: v. to suppose or assume beforehand; take for granted in advance." An irrelevant distinction, but have it your way.

Furthermore, which is the bigger presupposition, that the universe actually is the way we observe it seeming to be, or to assume the existence of a creator god on no other evidence? I judge the latter to be nigh-infinitely less justifiable.

Based on your "presupposition," you absolutely cannot say "He told me all this. I don't assume it." You have the emotion of certainty, you have substituted it for knowledge, but it is not necessarily a fact. If your presupposition is false, then what you've based on it collapses like a house of cards. If a naturalistic presupposition is shown to be false, then we only need roll back to the point of failure and gather more data.

And that's the thing--I acknowledge freely that science doesn't prove things to an absolute certainty--but falsehood does have to actually be shown. The level of doubt raised by saying that the validity of senses, perception, cognition, etc. is trivial unless some positive reason can be shown that there's any reason to assume the doubt is valid. Again, exhibit A: the modern world and everything we've done. Some anonymous blogger telling me all that isn't advancement, isn't verifiable, isn't useful would be funnier if it wasn't so sad.

The problem of induction doesn't so much undermine science as it gives the religious a thin thread of hope that we don't actually live in a godless universe which shows their holy book to be just another collection of premodern myths. I don't know absolutely that there is no God; everything you've claimed could be correct. I just have never seen any positive reason to overthrow everything else...when it comes to knowledge, the validity of faith over observation has not been demonstrated.

NAL said...

Rho:

Besides, I'd like to ask you (for the I don't know how many-th time) to give me a reason to think my CFAR.

I don't think your, or anyone else's, cognitive faculties are reliable. The fact that your cognitive faculties can be fooled by (misnamed) "optical illusions" is an example.

Do (non-human) animals have cognitive faculties and are their cognitive faculties generally reliable? If they do not have cognitive faculties then we need a definition of what cognitive faculties entail. If they do have cognitive faculties and are not generally reliable, how is this lack of reliability manifested?

Rhology said...

Billy,

The difference, besides the chronological/logical differentiation I've already explained and which you've ignored, is that my philosophy of the preconditions of intelligibility holds up and supports the idea that my CFAR, whereas naturalistic and atheistic presupps undermine them. Give me a good reason to think, if naturalism and atheism are true, that my CFAR indeed.


Skeptical Rationalist,

Howdy!
I've been told there's a formal diff between presuppose and assume, but I forget what it is. So to me it's not a big deal.

which is the bigger presupposition, that the universe actually is the way we observe it seeming to be, or to assume the existence of a creator god on no other evidence?

Two can play that game of naked assertions. What's the bigger presupp, that there was nothing and nothing exploded into everything, caused by nothing, or that there's a God and He did the whole thing?
Besides, since we're talking about naked assertions, I don't see a good reason to grant
1) that "the universe actually is the way we observe it seeming to be"
2) that there isn't any evidence for the Creator God.
My challenge is the same as to Billy - give me a good reason to think my CFAR, on atheism.


You have the emotion of certainty, you have substituted it for knowledge, but it is not necessarily a fact.

Two can play this game too. You're a rationalist; you start with human reason and cognition.
You think you're certain that your CFAR. You have the emotion of certainty, you have substituted it for knowledge, but it is not necessarily a fact.


If a naturalistic presupposition is shown to be false, then we only need roll back to the point of failure and gather more data.

Not if your CFAnotR. There is no "data", no reason to think your senses can "gather" "data", no reason to think it'll be correctly transferred to your brain, no reason to think your brain can properly interp it. I don't think you realise how far back this goes.


I acknowledge freely that science doesn't prove things to an absolute certainty-

Now we're getting somewhere! Now prove that it doesn't commit the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent every time it makes ANY statement, no matter how watered-down.


Again, exhibit A: the modern world and everything we've done.

You mean what YOU THINK the modern world IS and everything YOU THINK we've done. How do you or I know your CFAR?


I don't know absolutely that there is no God; everything you've claimed could be correct. I just have never seen any positive reason to overthrow everything else...when it comes to knowledge, the validity of faith over observation has not been demonstrated.

I don't know absolutely that there is no such thing as evidence; everything you've claimed could be correct. I just have never seen any positive reason to overthrow everything else...when it comes to knowledge of God, the validity of faith in evidence over observation of God's work in my life has not been demonstrated.
IOW, prove evidence exists.



NAL,
The fact that your cognitive faculties can be fooled by (misnamed) "optical illusions" is an example.

I knew I'd win you to my position eventually! :-D Thanks for the help.


Do (non-human) animals have cognitive faculties and are their cognitive faculties generally reliable?

On atheism, I don't see any reason to think so.
On Christianity, it's probably better to say they have senses and limited brains/cognition, more like instinct.

Billy said...

"The difference... is that my philosophy of the preconditions of intelligibility holds up and supports the idea that my CFAR, whereas naturalistic and atheistic presupps undermine them."

And my point is merely that in order to reach your philosophy you first assumed that your cognitive faculties are reliable, which is exactly what you accuse atheists of doing.

You need to refute that point rather than trying to raise another point. Demonstrate that you reached your knowledge of God without first assuming that your cognitive faculties were reliable.

Rhology said...

Hmm, that would be chronological, wouldn't it? I think I've addressed that at least twice already...

Billy said...

"Hmm, that would be chronological, wouldn't it? I think I've addressed that at least twice already..."

And thus there is no difference between you and the atheist. Whether either of you can later justify your assumption is a different point which is not actually relevant to that initial assumption.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

You're completely ignoring the main point. There is no reason to grant any weight to CFA~R unless any positive reason can be shown to it's a realistic possibility.

I'll give you an example:

Attorney: Your honor, my client is being framed for murder by a conspiracy at the highest levels of government! I demand that the prosecution prove that all of their evidence isn't manufactured by the intelligence community!

Jury: *lol*

Simply to raise the specter of unreliability is not the same as showing that it constitutes a doubt that is in the least reasonable.

Fundamentally, this is a tu quoque argument. If God exists, then the bible is possibly his word. If God does not exist, then it is not. You commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent every time you cite Scripture. You're trying to drag science down to your faith-based level, and it's laughable.

Even at that, I don't buy that the CFAR question is a necessary consequence of the problem of induction, and I'll give you another example: somewhere, I heard that if you hold an elevator button down for five seconds, the computer thinks you're a fireman and skips any calls on intervening floors. I don't know if it's true, but I have never been stopped every time I've tried it. It doesn't matter how many times it "works," I can't prove it absolutely. Even if it works in every skyscraper I ever enter, if I look up the building codes that mandate it, I'll never know to an absolute certainty that the next elevator I use is going to be built to spec. I could always, and at any point, be proven wrong. Multiple converging lines of evidence reduce that uncertainty dramatically, but it's nonzero. CFAR doesn't enter into it.

when it comes to knowledge of God, the validity of faith in evidence over observation of God's work in my life has not been demonstrated.

At this point you're either a fool or a liar. When the bible cures cancer, builds a rocket, designs a gas/electric hybrid motor, or builds the computer you use to read these words, you'd be justified in saying that. I know Christians love to take credit for the Renaissance, but AFAIK the thousand years of Christianity *before* that is why we even needed a Renaissance in the first place. If you and your ideas were running the world, we'd still be bleeding patients to cure fever.

Rhology said...

SR,

There is no reason to grant any weight to CFA~R unless any positive reason can be shown to it's a realistic possibility.

1) So get to it.
2) But remember that you assume CFAR to "show it's a realistic possibility" that your CFAR. Where's your reason and skepticism now? Your demands for evidence?


I demand that the prosecution prove that all of their evidence isn't manufactured by the intelligence community!

We're not talking about events. We're talking about ultimate questions of epistemology. The diff should be obvious.


If God exists, then the bible is possibly his word. If God does not exist, then it is not. You commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent every time you cite Scripture.

I think you meant to say sthg else, not "affirming the consequent", since I do no such thing in citing Scripture. AtC is related to the problem of induction, and when I cite the Bible for ultimate truth I'm DEducing, not INducing.



Multiple converging lines of evidence reduce that uncertainty dramatically, but it's nonzero. CFAR doesn't enter into it.

Actually CFAR is a sort of separate argument against science's correctness than is the argument from the problem of induction.
You ASSUME CFAR doesn't enter into it, but as I've said least twice now, you ASSUME that your senses accurately observe the outside world, then you ASSUME that the senses properly report that data to your brain, then you ASSUME that the data arrives correctly, then you ASSUME that your brain properly interprets the data, then you ASSUME that you then act properly on that data.
If you're really a skeptical rationalist, I challenge you to PROVE these things, not ASSUME them.


When the bible cures cancer, builds a rocket, designs a gas/electric hybrid motor, or builds the computer you use to read these words, you'd be justified in saying that.

When you can prove that science has indeed cured polio, built a rocket, designed a gas/electric hybrid motor, or built a computer, get back to me. Remember to include proof that your (and my) CFAR and also to include an argument why you're not committing the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent when you cite each of your anecdotal, singular experiences.


If you and your ideas were running the world, we'd still be bleeding patients to cure fever.

Since my ideas have never ever been in the majority, EVER, you have no idea whether that's true. Don't stoop to such biased and idiotic prejudices, seriously. Leave that to Sam Harris and Chrissy Hitchens.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

You misread.

That's "CFA~R" meaning "Cognitive Faculties are NOT reliable."

There is no reason to grant any weight to "Cognitive Faculties are NOT Reliable" unless any positive reason can be shown that it's a realistic possibility.

Until you can, all protestations about what I've "assumed" have all the intellectual weight of saying "Nuh-UH!!!" Reasonable certainty does not require proof to an absolute certainty.

I admit that I can't prove to an absolute certainty that you aren't a figment of my imagination (for no other reason than your theistic presupposition requires that you reject any argument I could make regardless of its merits.)

So what? Give me a reason that it's worth considering. You act like it's some kind of body blow to objective reality, but from where I sit it looks like you're just grasping at straws. I also think you're lying. You're perfectly willing to use that computer, built on principles of chemistry, metallurgy, engineering and a dozen other disciplines, to have this argument. You're perfectly willing to reap the benefits of science with the car you drive, the food you eat, but somehow I don't see you sitting in a hospital room saying "get that scalpel away from me, you only ASSUME you're a trained surgeon." The sole purpose of your argument is to try shore up this selectively-held worldview of yours.

And as far as your scriptures go? The existence of a god is your presupposition, therefore everything based on it is only as strong as the reasons you have to believe it in the first place. If you're "deducing" but haven't adequately demonstrated your axiom, then you can't say that the other possibilities have been eliminated. It's a subject for another time, but in my experience the bible is just as "errant" as any other book of myths, and it was scholarly research that made me stop calling myself a Christian.

Rhology said...

Oops, sorry. I'm actually not familiar with formal logical shorthand, even the basics. My apologies; I know it makes stuff easier not to have to type it out. I'm just ignorant of that.

OK, let me try again:
There is no reason to grant any weight to "Cognitive Faculties are NOT Reliable" unless any positive reason can be shown that it's a realistic possibility.

I don't see why anyone should grant that assertion. Why appeal to blind faith when you're a 'skeptical rationalist'? Just the argument from unsavory consequences again? Where's the skepticism now? Where's the reason, the demand for evidence?


Reasonable certainty does not require proof to an absolute certainty.

So are we at an intellectual stalemate, in your view? I have blind faith in my God and you have blind faith in your cognitive faculties? What is the way out?
If it's just blind faith vs blind faith, why bother commenting at this post? Why bother thinking at all?


I also think you're lying

Think what you want, I don't care. I don't matter; only my arguments do.


You're perfectly willing to use that computer, built on principles of chemistry, metallurgy, engineering and a dozen other disciplines, to have this argument.

Then you don't understand yet; apparently you haven't heard what I've already said. Let me repeat it:
I don't have that problem, since my fundamental basis of knowing things is not observation at all. Nor is it human reason or thought. I can know anything b/c God has spoken and He has assured me that my cognitive faculties are generally reliable though certainly not infallible, since I am made in the image of God. He has promised that in general He holds the universe together, and cycles of seedtime and harvest will remain, the Earth will remain in orbit around the sun, life on Earth will continue and my responsibility is to live for Jesus and proclaim the Good News of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name to everyone, until the Eschaton. I have the unflinching and unchanging promise of the omnipotent Creator God. You have nothing, since you have chosen to distrust Him. But you can always turn back.


The existence of a god is your presupposition, therefore everything based on it is only as strong as the reasons you have to believe it in the first place.

Oh sweet irony!
The existence of your cognitive faculties and their reliability is your presupposition, therefore everything based on it is only as strong as the reasons you have to believe it in the first place. But you just finished telling me that you can't furnish any proof for that. Uh oh, what are you going to do now?


but in my experience the bible is just as "errant" as any other book of myths

On my blog, I always extend the skeptical visitor the courtesy of naming his 5 favorite biblical contradictions. Make sure they're proper internal critiques and make them your best, b/c if you can't make your fave five stick, I figure the rest are as much garbage as the first. So why don't you give me your best 5 shots? I'll make 'em into a new post.

Peace,
Rhology

Skeptical Rationalist said...

I don't see why anyone should grant that assertion. Why appeal to blind faith when you're a 'skeptical rationalist'? Just the argument from unsavory consequences again? Where's the skepticism now? Where's the reason, the demand for evidence?

“The skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches, as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found,” Miguel de Unamuno.

I accept as evidence* (among other things cited previously) for the reliability of science and the cognitive faculties upon which it is based:
• Consistency among multiple lines of evidence
• The generation of new ideas, new avenues of research, new bodies of knowledge
• Workable technological innovations which further develop that which has gone before

In fact, I struggle to think what more demonstration* of the validity of CFAR and science could possibly be offered. I find them, as Gould would have it, sufficiently confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent. I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms. The so-called “problem” of CFAR (oddly enough, your blog is the only place I encounter this particular canard. Any links for further reading?) is one of those “deepity” arguments that Daniel Dennett described as to the extent that it is true, it is trivial; and to the extent that it is profound it is useless.

You are drawing a fallacious false equivalency between the acceptance of demonstrable effects and an entirely faith-based belief in a God. I expect your response to this will, once again, boil down to nuh-uh!

I don't have that problem, since my fundamental basis of knowing things is not observation at all. Nor is it human reason or thought. I can know anything b/c God has spoken and He has assured me that my cognitive faculties are generally reliable though certainly not infallible, since I am made in the image of God.

Tell me, how do you know? How have you come by this knowledge? Unless you can demonstrate* that God exists, then everything that follows just piles question-begging upon question-begging.

It is my opinion that you’re exactly who de Unamuno is referring to, who asserts and thinks that you have found. Can you give me any reason to believe* that God has spoken that isn’t an Argument from Ignorance? Because I tell you--I don’t see consistency, I see a blog of which anywhere from forty to sixty percent of which seems devoted to squabbling with fellow believers. I don’t see new ideas, new knowledge, new discoveries being produced. I don’t see communities which eschew science and elevate religion thriving and prospering. Belief in God doesn’t seem to be worth much.

(cont'd)

Skeptical Rationalist said...

On my blog, I always extend the skeptical visitor the courtesy of naming his 5 favorite biblical contradictions. Make sure they're proper internal critiques and make them your best, b/c if you can't make your fave five stick, I figure the rest are as much garbage as the first. So why don't you give me your best 5 shots? I'll make 'em into a new post.

Here’s the thing about skepticism: it is not incumbent upon me to accept any claim until it has been sufficiently demonstrated.* It seems to me that the Bible is perfectly intelligible as an anthology of disparate religious writings, each with subtly different focuses and historical contexts, and only through the benefit of tradition and ex post facto apologetics thought of as a double volume or a singular “Word.” It seems logical to me to interpret the Gospels as legends, passed along orally during very turbulent and uncertain decades in the first and second centuries. It seems logical to me to interpret the writings of Paul as the teachings of a zealous convert who was still as flawed and imperfect as the next man.

It’s not my job to throw up this or that contradiction. I have every confidence that you could explain away any given “contradiction” to your own satisfaction—I’ve heard other apologetics, I just don’t find them compelling. I’m mildly curious as to whether you’d make any excuses I hadn’t heard before, but not so much that I’m going to help you shift the burden of proof, which is this: For my part, I don’t know whether the bible is the word of god or not. I doubt it; I’d be surprised if it were; but you claim to know something I don’t. I want to know how you know what you claim to know. I have been saying why I believe what I do believe; you’ve raised your objections; nothing more is to be gained by talking past each other on that end, other than clarification. Give me some positive reason to believe your claim.

*Pay attention to the language. “Demonstrated.” “Shown.” “Reason to believe.” I’m not speaking in terms of absolute proof, I’m talking about making a case and evaluating the evidence. I’m perfectly willing to be even-handed in this if you’re willing to meet me halfway; back up your claims rather than constantly dodging the issue and shifting the burden of “proof,” as it were.

Rhology said...

Hi SR,

“The skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches, as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found,

And when you HAVE investigated and researched and come to an educated conclusion?


I accept as evidence*...3 things

Your three items beg the very question at hand. You assume that your CFAR in citing what you THINK is evidence that your CFAR. See how it's all blind faith?


I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

So performing fallacious inferences of affirming the consequent a whole bunch of times is better than just one time? Seems to me that one would want to MINIMISE the amount of fallacies in which one engages, but that's just me.


The so-called “problem” of CFAR (oddly enough, your blog is the only place I encounter this particular canard. Any links for further reading?

Sure. See here for a primer and some good links. That's one of the angles by which I come at this. Another would be the Bahnsen-Stein debate.


Daniel Dennett described as to the extent that it is true, it is trivial

That's just wishful thinking. I happen to think it'd be a pretty good deal if CFA~R.


You are drawing a fallacious false equivalency between the acceptance of demonstrable effects and an entirely faith-based belief in a God.

Prove it. Where is the fallacy?


Tell me, how do you know?

God has revealed it in the Bible. I know that by reading it.
I demonstrate that God exists by pointing out that He has said so and the irrationality and impossibility of atheism, as well as any other alternative worldview that might come along to compete.


Can you give me any reason to believe* that God has spoken that isn’t an Argument from Ignorance?

Sure. God has spoken, it is certain.
That's not an argument from ignorance at all. My guess is that you meant to say sthg else.


I see a blog of which anywhere from forty to sixty percent of which seems devoted to squabbling with fellow believers.

1) I don't expect you to understand this, but when I 'squabble', most of the time it's b/c I don't consider them fellows at all. There exist lines of division between that which is biblical and represents a Gospel that can save the sinner (and we're all sinners), and when I 'squabble', it's with those who deny that Gospel. I'm very careful, just FYI, to address as "brother" and with a spirit of cooperation those who DO have credible professions of biblical faith. Consider my recent post on Defending.Contending and Mark Driscoll - that's a great deal different than my dealings with heretics like EOdox and Romanists.
2) You're a rationalist. Why would anyone care about any moral judgments you might make? What is your objective standard for judging anything good or bad?

Rhology said...

I don’t see communities which eschew science and elevate religion thriving and prospering.

Probably b/c that's a false dichotomy.


Belief in God doesn’t seem to be worth much.

Not to you, b/c you are an enemy of God. Yet Jesus said "What will it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?"


It seems to me that the Bible is perfectly intelligible as an anthology of disparate religious writings

Though you are apparently unwilling or unable to substantiate your accusation of internal inconsistency. The challenge is still open.


given “contradiction” to your own satisfaction

Then let the other readers judge. That's why I do this blogging thing anyway.


I want to know how you know what you claim to know.

There are many ways to answer that question. I know it b/c God has changed my heart to love Him and His Word and to hate sin and unbelief.
I attempt to demonstrate it to others by demonstrating its internal consistency, its self-contained authority as the Word of God, and the impossibility of the contrary. For example, by showing how atheism and naturalism are ridiculously incoherent and irrational philosophies.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

[Point of clarification: when you say "He (God) has said so" & "God has spoken" am I to understand you are referring solely to the scriptures? Based on your other posts, I’m going w/ that interp. unless otherwise specified such as “changed my heart” etc.]

I am going to try & explain this very simply. Affirming the Consequent. Axiom: if A, then B. Fallacy: B is true, therefore A is true. If I have the flu, then I have a cough. It is a fallacy to say "I have a cough, therefore it’s the flu."

However, if it’s the flu, then I have muscle aches. If I it’s the flu, I have a fever. If I have a cough AND fever AND aches AND weakness AND fatigue AND vomiting AND more than a week's duration, I'm increasing my certainty through multiple lines of evidence which converge upon a single truth. Repeating B=A would be piling up fallacies, but if A→C, A→D, A→E, etc. & I have evidence for B, C, D, E, & on beyond Zebra, then flu is easily the go-to explanation. It's POSSIBLE I have tuberculosis, lung cancer, or some exotic disease I picked up from an international traveler, but there's no reason to assume those unless positive evidence for them can be shown, evidence which would disprove the flu hypothesis.

This is why I consider CFAR to be separate from PoI/AtC. You'd say "You ASSUME you have a fever, you ASSUME you have a cough, et cetera." You're not arguing I have TB or Malaria. You're not even arguing anything as concrete as "you might be schizophrenic & hallucinating your illness." You don't bring anything to the table like, say, a family history of insanity, internal critiques of the flu hypothesis* or anything other than saying, over & over, "NUH-UH!" I can't say it more clearly: simply raising the specter of unreliability is not the same thing as demonstrating it's a reasonable doubt.

Now let's turn to your God, which you use to affirm CFAR. I asked you "How do you know," & it's almost a trick question because I know that you don't. Your belief in God is already self-admitted to be based on a presupposition, an assumption. As Paul says, you have substituted hope for informed anticipation, & conviction for things which you have not seen. You possess the emotions of certainty & have substituted them for actual knowledge.

I ask you how you know, & all you provide are baseless assertions that derive from that unsupported assumption. "God exists because he said so." It boggles my mind that you can't see the gross circularity of that. "God has revealed it in the bible." "God has spoken, it is certain." "God has changed my heart." I ask how do you know, & you responded with why you believe. That doesn't cut it. What does it profit a man to only THINK he's gained his soul?
• You can't demonstrate God exists by pointing to a book whose possible truth is dependent on God’s existence.
• You can't demonstrate God exists by poking holes in alternate explanations—that’s the Argument from Ignorance. You can't prove X by demonstrating ~Y, ~Z, ~W. Of course, you’re still trying to, which is why I'm holding you to actually demonstrate CFA~R, for all the good it would do you, & you're failing even at that.
I don't particularly care about your assertions that God makes the sun come up, that God makes the grass grow, because if you can't support your most basic premise, it's all fantasy. I've made my claim; I've given my reasons—warts & all. I don’t have a prior commitment to a nontheistic universe, but you’ve not given me a single good, sound reason to believe your claim is more plausible.

*and isn't THAT an hypocrisy, to externally critique science all the day long but demand internal critiques of the bible.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

About the contradictions--it's against my better judgment, but I'm curious as to what you'll say to five questions that I hope will prove interesting and provide opportunity for in-depth answers.

1. Why is there no penalty for murder in Exodus 21:20-21?

2. Why is payment of a fine the penalty for murder in Exodus 21:22?

3. Is it appropriate, if the Bible does not directly address a controversial topic, to find passages whose context is only indirectly or peripherally related, and from these to approximate a doctrinal answer? For example, I don't know that the bible addresses health care, or the environmental conservation. How are disagreements among such to be resolved?

4. How did Abraham determine whether the demand to sacrifice his son was a command of God, a deceit of Satan, or a delusion of his own mind? How would you, if you were in his position today?

5. What biblical contradiction do you find most difficult to reconcile, or most instructive for study in doing so when challenged?

Rhology said...

Point of clarification: when you say "He (God) has said so" & "God has spoken" am I to understand you are referring solely to the scriptures?

Yes, exactly. God doesn't "talk" to me audibly, certainly. He could, but obviously prefers not to.
(Thank you for asking. Sorry I didn't make it clear enough.)



If I have a cough AND fever AND aches AND weakness AND fatigue AND vomiting AND more than a week's duration, I'm increasing my certainty through multiple lines of evidence which converge upon a single truth.

Yes, I know you think that, b/c you have to. But you don't know whether there are a billion other things out there that can cause these symptoms you think you have that haven't been discovered yet. Not to mention the distinct possibility that you're deceiving yourself b/c your CFA~R.


It's POSSIBLE I have tuberculosis, lung cancer, or some exotic disease I picked up from an international traveler, but there's no reason to assume those unless positive evidence for them can be shown

Oh, just b/c you say so? You're not engaging this question at a sufficiently fundamental level.


You don't bring anything to the table like, say, a family history of insanity

Ah, good point...for me. I simply forgot to go down that path. Thanks!


I can't say it more clearly: simply raising the specter of unreliability is not the same thing as demonstrating it's a reasonable doubt.

Give me a good reason to think you're correct here, rather than making your own naked assertion. Seems to me I'm just being a good skeptic, an equal-opportunity skeptic.



I asked you "How do you know," & it's almost a trick question because I know that you don't. ...You can't demonstrate God exists by poking holes in alternate explanations—that’s the Argument from Ignorance.

How could you possibly know that I don't know? I know you THINK I don't, but you haven't proved it, and you kind of need to give me a good reason to think that your statements are NOT the mad ravings of someone whose CFA~R, who is out of touch with reality.
On my side, there is no internal inconsistency in my position, it makes possible the certainty that CFAR, and there isn't a higher standard of epistemology anyway, besides that of God speaking. I am appealing to my fundamental axiom, and am certainly justified in doing so, until and unless it can be proved that there is some internal inconsistency.



Your belief in God is already self-admitted to be based on a presupposition, an assumption.

Your belief in evidence and reason is already self-admitted to be based on a presupposition, an assumption.



. "God exists because he said so."

And "reason exists because I say so" is better? Why?



I don't particularly care about your assertions that God makes the sun come up, that God makes the grass grow, because if you can't support your most basic premise, it's all fantasy

Yes, IF. But you asked a specific question with respect to why the prob of induction doesn't apply to my position the same way, and I answered it. I'm sorry your memory seems so short.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

Your belief in God is already self-admitted to be based on a presupposition, an assumption.

Your belief in evidence and reason is already self-admitted to be based on a presupposition, an assumption.


Yes, finally, you have gotten what I've been saying, that epistemologically, both the pot and kettle are made of pig iron.

I've given you the reasons I choose the one over the other and your only response to my limited, minimized assumptions with complete whoppers of your own. I ask for evidence to the contrary of my believes, you provide absolutely none.

You haven't proved that your beliefs are sound, you've only asserted it.

I attempt to demonstrate it to others by demonstrating its internal consistency, its self-contained authority as the Word of God, and the impossibility of the contrary. For example, by showing how atheism and naturalism are ridiculously incoherent and irrational philosophies.

The next argument you make that shows any of that will be the first.

Rhology said...

epistemologically, both the pot and kettle are made of pig iron.

Actually, that's what *I've* been trying to get *you* to admit. Notice what this does - it makes your position into one taken on blind faith, not on reason and not on evidence. Why are you betraying your position with your first principle, your fundamental axiom? See, that's what I mean when I talk about how your position goes on to undermine your very own position. By contrast, I say I have faith in God and then I carry that right on through - I have faith in God. Bottom line, I trust the God Who created the universe. I don't have to act like I'm alluvasudden independent of Him, like you do when you leap over to rationalism and "evidence is king" when your 1st principle is blind faith.


I ask for evidence to the contrary of my believes, you provide absolutely none.

See, this is a perfect example of your leap!
Can't you see how this fits 100% too if I were to say it about your own position? I ask for evidence to the contrary of my beliefs, you provide absolutely none.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

My belief:
the world fundamentally is as it appears to be.

Your belief:
a invisible, undetectable, omnipotent, immortal, which is both eternal and acts causally, which is both outside our universe and acts within it, which is both all-loving and all-judging, not only created everything through some inexplicable cosmic power, but constantly tinkers, maintains, alters, and at every turn does so in means indistinguishable from the world operating according to natural laws.

I'm sorry, I just cannot get myself into a mindset that those two are one-for-one equivalent.

We both accept evidence, for different reasons, from different sources. We both accept CFAR, for different reasons.

Mine is a tentative assessment of what's available to me, open to being disproved. Yours in a presupposition of cosmic divinity which necessarily forces you to reject or co-opt any disproof. They're not the same.

Rhology said...

the world fundamentally is as it appears to be.

I don't know how many times I have to say this, but let me paste out of the original post.
You don't know that your specific observations, of which you can make a few hundred on a given topic per year out of quintillions of actual events, reliably lead you to understand the universal, the way the world is. You ASSUME it. Similarly, you ASSUME that your senses accurately observe the outside world, then you ASSUME that the senses properly report that data to your brain, then you ASSUME that the data arrives correctly, then you ASSUME that your brain properly interprets the data, then you ASSUME that you then act properly on that data. But why assume it? B/c the alternative is distasteful - solipsism - but not b/c you have an argument or evidence that your assumptions are true. You HOPE they are, and hey, you ASSUME they are, but you can give no reason for me to think they actually are true.


invisible

1) He's not always invisible.
2) So are you saying that that which is invisible does not exist or probably doesn't exist? What your own maxim - the world fundamentally is as it appears to be? THAT'S not visible either.


undetectable

Who claims that? He revealed Himself in many ways. Romans 1:18-27 for example. His Word. Jesus Christ Himself, Who was certainly detectable.
This is fast becoming a complete strawman.


which is both all-loving and all-judging

1) Do you have some kind of moral problem with this? Based on what standard?
2) Are you unfamiliar with the doctrine of the Substitutionary Atonement of Christ?


in means indistinguishable from the world operating according to natural laws.

Another strawman. Not at all indistinguishable, numerous times. The miracles of the Bible. The change of heart and purpose when a sinner is converted to Christian. The Resurrection of Jesus. The creation. None of those are explicable in terms of natural law.


We both accept CFAR, for different reasons.

But only one of us has a worldview that makes CFAR sure; the other's worldview militates against CFAR at every step.

Rhology said...

Oops:

What **about** your own maxim - the world fundamentally is as it appears to be? THAT'S not visible either.