Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Imposing your existential insecurity

enchantednaturalist.com said:
And please stop imposing your existential insecurity on atheists, who imbue their own lives with meaning and purpose (and acknowledge the human origin of morality) rather than relying upon an unwarranted belief in a dictatorial, sadistic (and masochistic), whimsical deity for these things. Please stop projecting.

Also, everyone, please stop imposing your existential insecurity on Christians, whose lives are imbued by God with meaning and purpose (and acknowledge the divine origin of morality) rather than relying upon an unwarranted belief in dictatorial, sadistic (and masochistic), whimsical genes and biological drives for these things. Please stop projecting.

65 comments:

Coram Deo said...

Turnabout, as they say, is fair game.

If there were only some evidence for the anti-theist to examine...

/sarc

In Him,
CD

beowulf2k8 said...

What's the point of your comments Rhology? I mean you believe they are predestined to be atheists so why argue with them? Because you think you are predestined to argue with them? Its no wonder you are an inhuman monster and an idiot. I don't see how anyone who believed something as moronic as predestination could be otherwise.

Paul C said...

Now that's a killer argument Rhology!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOGWbzUM-y8

Rhology said...

It doesn't surprise me that you who refuse to see the absurdity of the infinite regress also fail to see the reductio at work here.

Paul C said...

"It doesn't surprise me that you who refuse to see the absurdity of the infinite regress also fail to see the reductio at work here."

That reminds me - have you managed to work out exactly why an infinite regress is absurd yet? Because as far as I can recall, you still haven't provided any argument whatsoever to support your assertion that that infinite regress is absurd.

Rhology said...

Like I told you before, I'd explain but I'm still trying to count to infinity. Patience, Paul.

Andrew said...

Paul,
an infinite regress is absurd when in an attempt to solve a problem the same problem is reintroduced as part of the solution. In effect you are solving a problem with itself instead of with a solution because in this type of regress (the vicious regress) the problem is never solved and just keeps reoccurring. Evidently (and this was news to me) not all infinite regresses are vicious. Just like not all examples of circular reasoning are vicious. So, I suppose it would depend on what previous argument the two of you were having.

beowulf2k8 said...

"an infinite regress is absurd when in an attempt to solve a problem the same problem is reintroduced as part of the solution"

I see, its the sort of circular logic that Calvinists engage in, like: Why is the cross necessary? Because Adam sinned and damned everyone. Why did Adam sin and damn everyone? Because God wanted to make the cross necessary.

Andrew said...

No Beowulf. Circular logic and infinite regress are not the same thing. You lack understanding of both logic, and Calvinism. But you are not open to any correction so I don't think I am going to respond to anything else posted by you.

enchantednaturalist.com said...

Rho,

My statement about existential insecurity was primarily in response to one of yours to Geds earlier in the thread:

You're going to die too, and so am I, and if your view of the world is true, none of this will matter. So why make such a ruckus?

You later added:

You're acting like stuff matters when in fact you can't show me that it does.

My comment about existential insecurity relates to your implication that a meaningful existence is not possible without reference to a God or an afterlife. I don't believe you have a rational basis for your view, thus I believe it reflects your existential insecurity at the thought of a godless, finite universe.

Perhaps to aid the discussion we should agree upon our definitions. When I use the word "meaningful," I take it to mean "fulfilling" or "worthwhile." That which is fulfilling or worthwhile matters, whether it be a state of affairs that effects me or someone else. It could be meaningful to try to augment something in my life such as the quality of my relationship with my wife, or it might be meaningful to try to diminish something such as world hunger by contributing to a charity. Can we agree upon that terminology? If so, I'd like to hear why you believe a meaningful existence is impossible without reference to a deity or afterlife.

Rhology said...

I don't believe you have a rational basis for your view

Then explain why I'm wrong. Don't just assert it. Provide evidence for this meaning you claim exists.


When I use the word "meaningful," I take it to mean "fulfilling" or "worthwhile."

How do you have any notion of "worth"?
Are you taking for granted that "fulfilling" is good? If so, why? If not, so what if it's fulfilling?


. It could be meaningful to try to augment something in my life such as the quality of my relationship with my wife, or it might be meaningful to try to diminish something such as world hunger by contributing to a charity. Can we agree upon that terminology?

Not yet. Many people find it meaningful and fulfilling to commit suicide in protest of the universe's meaninglessness.
Many others have found it meaningful and fulfilling to shove Jews into ovens b/c they found it meaningful and fulfilling to reduce them in their minds to subhuman status.
Others have found it meaningful and fulfilling to worship Jesus (like me) while others to tear down people's belief in Jesus (like Pulliam).
So you have a ways to go. Justify your assumptions. We need to get down to the nitty-gritty, especially if you want your original critique to stand.


I'd like to hear why you believe a meaningful existence is impossible without reference to a deity or afterlife.

Already explained that. I paste it here.
Tell you what, let me put it this way. Think of it as the same as when you argue about God's existence. Doesn't exist out there, so if it exists only for you, that's called a personal fantasy. Which you're welcome to, but don't tell anyone else about it, don't talk about it in the public square, etc.
Let's say a mainline Christian who doesn't know or care about apologetics says to you:
MC: God exists.
enchantednaturalist: Where's the evidence?
MC: Um, I don't know. Actually, I know He exists b/c He exists in my heart.
enchantednaturalist: So you mean He exists in you. Just not outside you, right? B/c if He did, you'd have some evidence, right?
MC: [flabbergasted] Yeah.
enchantednaturalist: You'll surely pardon me for not participating in your fantasy.

OK, so here we're just reversing roles.

enchantednaturalist: Meaning exists.
Me: Where's the evidence?
enchantednaturalist: Um, I don't know. Actually, I know it exists b/c it exists in my heart.
Me: So you mean it exists in you. Just not outside you, right? B/c if it did, you'd have some evidence, right?
enchantednaturalist: [flabbergasted] Yeah.
Me: You'll surely pardon me for not participating in your fantasy.

IOW, you're asserting the meaning. You substantiate it, provide evidence for it.

Paul C said...

"Think of it as the same as when you argue about God's existence. Doesn't exist out there, so if it exists only for you, that's called a personal fantasy."

As I have pointed out, if you apply this argument then your love for your wife also meets the definition of a "personal fantasy".

Paul C said...

"Like I told you before, I'd explain but I'm still trying to count to infinity."

And like I told you before, that isn't an answer to the question. Since you're counting, perhaps you could explain to us why you think mathematics is absurd, since it contains an infinite line of real numbers.

(Also: I haven't conceded that an infinite regress exists.)

Paul C said...

"Evidently (and this was news to me) not all infinite regresses are vicious."

Indeed, and infinite regresses are not by definition absurd. Try telling that to Rhology, though. His mastery of philosophical disputation knows no bounds.

Rhology said...

if you apply this argument then your love for your wife also meets the definition of a "personal fantasy".

And if you recall, I challenged you to show that this is true, given the Christian worldview. You couldn't. Your tu quoque therefore failed. It is not in fact true that my love for my wife is just a personal fantasy.

Besides, even if it were, that would ALSO serve to bolster my point, that sthg even so intimately and emotionally impactful on human experience is itself empty, with no outward reality, is a fantasy leads to the conclusion that life is absurd.

Paul C said...

“And if you recall, I challenged you to show that this is true, given the Christian worldview. You couldn't. Your tu quoque therefore failed. It is not in fact true that my love for my wife is just a personal fantasy.”

I fail to see how it's a tu quoque, but I cede to your considerably greater philosophical prowess.

Whether the Christian worldview is true or not is irrelevant. Your argument is specifically that if something “Doesn't exist out there, so if it exists only for you, that's called a personal fantasy”. Your love for your wife does not exist “out there” whether Christianity is true or false, therefore by your own argument it is a personal fantasy.

The reason I make this argument is because you specifically use the phrase “personal fantasy” as a rhetorical tool, rather than to make a point. I don't describe your love for your wife as a personal fantasy because your (purely subjective) experience of that love is meaningful to you, and therefore I don't discount it.

All you have to do to refute my point is to show that a) your love for your wife exists outside you, or b) your definition of personal fantasy is more specific than you currently allow.

Besides, even if it were, that would ALSO serve to bolster my point, that sthg even so intimately and emotionally impactful on human experience is itself empty, with no outward reality, is a fantasy leads to the conclusion that life is absurd.

If it has such an impact on human experience, how is it empty?

Paul C said...

Or, more directly:

1. According to you, a personal fantasy is anything which has no existence outside the mind.
2. Your love for your wife has no existence outside your mind.
3. Therefore your love for your wife is a personal fantasy.

What is your actual counter-argument?

Rhology said...

Your love for your wife does not exist “out there” whether Christianity is true or false, therefore by your own argument it is a personal fantasy.

False. I already explained this to you, but you appear to be immune to correction. Perhaps I need to cede to your considerably greater knowledge of biblical doctrine. Sheesh.


Whether the Christian worldview is true or not is irrelevant.

Which statement shows why you're left looking a bit foolish, since you totally misunderstand my point.


If it has such an impact on human experience, how is it empty?

Humans are biological machines.
Do computers feel joy?

Paul C said...

False. I already explained this to you, but you appear to be immune to correction.

As far as I can recall, you didn't explain anything at all. Perhaps you could link to the post where you explained it.

Humans are biological machines. Do computers feel joy?

Since I don't accept that humans are biological machines, the rest of your argument has no relevance to my position. However *if* all humans are machines, and some humans feel joy, then yes - some machines feel joy.

David said...

"Humans are biological machines."

What are dogs?

Rhology said...

Paul C,

Here.

So you disagree with Richard Dawkins?


David,

On atheism, my contention is that dogs are biological machines, just like humans and amoebae. Why treat any of them any differently from any other?

David said...

"My contention is that dogs are biological machines, just like humans and amoebae."

So, can dogs feel joy? Do they feel love and affection? Can dogs be hurt? Do dogs care if they are hurt? Does it matter to a dog if he is happy or in pain? Are there things out there that have an impact on a dog's life experiences?

beowulf2k8 said...

"an infinite regress is absurd when in an attempt to solve a problem the same problem is reintroduced as part of the solution" (andrew)

"I see, its the sort of circular logic that Calvinists engage in, like: Why is the cross necessary? Because Adam sinned and damned everyone. Why did Adam sin and damn everyone? Because God wanted to make the cross necessary." (beowulf2k8)

"No Beowulf. Circular logic and infinite regress are not the same thing." (andrew)

What you described above was circular logic, andrew: "when in an attempt to solve a problem the same problem is reintroduced as part of the solution", that's circular logic.

The fail, here, therefore was with your explanation of infinite regress, not with my understanding. Maybe you need to learn how to define it properly.

"But you are not open to any correction" (andrew)

I doubt you are competent enough to give any. You defined infinite regress wrong and then chiding me for using your definition. Looks like you're the one who needs correction, but in good Calvinist fashion will refuse all correction and then go have a gay orgy.

thechemistscorner said...

Paul C,

If you are really interested in the problems with an infinite regress, then I would recommend starting with Wm. Lane Craig. He has written extensively on the subject.

I am curious to see why you don't view humans as biological machines. Please explain.

Beowulf2k8,
"refuse correction...gay orgy" Do you seriously expect people to take you seriously when you through that out?

Paul C said...

If you recall, when you said:

"False - it also exists outside of us"

I then asked you to explain in what way your love for your wife exists outside of you. You never answered that question, so all I'm left with is an unfounded assertion. That doesn't constitute an explanation, even in your degraded philosophical understanding. So perhaps you could answer it now: in what way does your love for your wife exist outside of you?

Paul C said...

"If you are really interested in the problems with an infinite regress, then I would recommend starting with Wm. Lane Craig. He has written extensively on the subject."

I've read Craig's work, and it's unconvincing on several counts

"I am curious to see why you don't view humans as biological machines. Please explain."

To be more exact, I don't view humans as biological machines in the way that Rhology intends, i.e. a reductionist definition that serves as a rhetorical tactic to close down discussion as per the standard approach of the presuppositionalist.

So: one of the dictionary definitions of "machine" is "An intricate natural system or organism, such as the human body". I have no problem with this definition, but it has nothing to say about whether the human body has free will.

The use of the word "machine" as a metaphor is a relic of Newtonian physics, which cast the universe as a piece of clockwork; so yes, if you subscribe to the Newtonian model, and if you then call a human a biological machine, you may end up with a view like Rhology's.

If you actually pay attention to the progress of science, however, you get a quite different picture. Relativity theory, quantum theory and complexity theory have dealt a death blow to such a deterministic view of the universe *even if you are a pure materialist*.

So I have no problem with the phrase "biological machine", but I have a far more generous understanding of how that phrase is used and what it implies than Rhology has. As a result, his rhetoric has no impact on the actual strength of my argument - but then again, it's not supposed to have any impact, it's supposed to distract you from the weaknesses of his own arguments.

Paul C said...

Whoops, didn't finish the bit about Craig. What I was going to say was, I find his attempts to mishmash together specific elements of early Islamic theology and early 20th century mathematics unconvincing, since they depend on you accepting his premises.

Craig presents these two historical elements as if they give us settled arguments, when in fact they are not. Thinkers other than the ones he cites but operating in the same tradition do not agree with those thinkers, so there is no reason why we should accept his premises.

People often throw out Hilbert's Hotel as an example of the absurdity of an infinite regress, and I agree that it is. However just because a particular infinite regress is absurd does not mean that all infinite regresses are absurd; and in the case of the hotel, I think we can all see that the category of "hotel rooms" does not equate easily to the category of "past events".

Rhology said...

You never answered that question, so all I'm left with is an unfounded assertion.

I'm educating you about Christian doctrine, K?
That's my position.

Now, about YOUR position, we've already seen you have no evidence that this meaning exists outside you. You've not denied it's a personal fantasy but have instead retreated to a tu quoque. The tu quoque didn't hold water, but even if it had, it wouldn't've rescued your position from my challenge. Thanks!

thechemistscorner said...

unnestiWell Paul, I know quite a bit about quantum mechanics, but I wouldn't be so hasty to through out a deterministic view of the universe based on that. It seem you are attempting to hide free will in some of the more unusual parts of modern science. For one, there are attempts to formulate a deterministic version of quantum mechanics. I think the onus is on you to demonstrate that a complex chemical reaction can produce non-deterministic results. Good luck with that.

No time for Craig's stuff this morning. Kids gotta eat!

Paul C said...

I'm educating you about Christian doctrine, K?

No, not "K". I'm asking you a simple question, and you're not answering it. Why not?

Now, about YOUR position, we've already seen you have no evidence that this meaning exists outside you. You've not denied it's a personal fantasy but have instead retreated to a tu quoque.

I don't deny that *by your definition* it's a personal fantasy. I merely point out that the way in which you use the phrase "personal fantasy" includes your love for your wife, which we can assume you believe to be meaningful. Your position forces you to insist that your love for your wife does exist outside your mind, yet you present nothing to support this statement.

I agree that meaning doesn't exist outside the individual; as I've pointed out, meaning can't exist outside the individual. I've given the specific reasoning behind this position, and you haven't even tried to address it.

Let me restate the position using a thought experiment. I assume that you currently don't find counting the grains of sand on the beach a very meaningful exercise. Let's imagine that you discover that God's purpose for you is to count the grains of sand on the beach. As a result you may now find meaning in counting the grains of sand on the beach, but that is because you have decided - in your own mind - that serving God is meaningful, and this is how you must serve God.

If I'm wrong, please point out the flaw in my reasoning.

Paul C said...

I think the onus is on you to demonstrate that a complex chemical reaction can produce non-deterministic results.

To be honest, I'm not sure that this is a discussion that either side can "win" in any meaningful sense. I believe in an emergent but weak free will, but I also believe that it's unlikely that anybody will ever prove it one way or another, since one can always appeal to a higher order of process (material or immaterial) to explain away any challenges. What if the question of free will is a political position rather than a philosophical one?

enchantednaturalist.com said...

Rho says:

How do you have any notion of "worth"?
Are you taking for granted that "fulfilling" is good? If so, why? If not, so what if it's fulfilling?


Do you maintain that unless a concept can be defined in absolute terms it is incoherent? For example, is it a meaningful, coherent statement to describe a sunset as beautiful?

Also, what is your take on Romans 2:13-16? Doesn't this support the notion that all humankind, regardless of whether they read or have access to God's word, shares a common moral sense at some level?

Rhology said...

Paul C,

You're clearly not going to let my position be my position, and that's fine. Duly noted.

Now, I'd like to focus on the other side of this equation. Let's say that my love for my wife is indeed personal fantasy too, even on my worldview. How does that help you? That's just a tu quoque.




en.com

For example, is it a meaningful, coherent statement to describe a sunset as beautiful?

On Christianity, yes, b/c we appreciate the Artist for His art.
What possible meaning does beauty have, on naturalism? Your chemicals have aligned in your brain so that you feel better looking at a sunset than when you look at a pile of dog feces, but what if you'd evolved to hate the colors red and orange, and to eat dog feces as a delicacy?
Appreciation of "beauty" is an evolutionary accident. Go proselytise someone else with your imaginary fantasies, will you?


what is your take on Romans 2:13-16?

I'll make a separate post on that.

Paul C said...

Now, I'd like to focus on the other side of this equation. Let's say that my love for my wife is indeed personal fantasy too, even on my worldview. How does that help you?

I never claimed that it helped me. I merely pointed out that your love for your wife is *by your own definition* a personal fantasy, and yet you persist in acting as if it's meaningful. So your own argument demonstrates that "personal fantasies" are meaningful regardless of one's "worldview".

Short version: you use the phrase "personal fantasy" as a rhetorical device rather than a philosophical argument.

Rhology said...

So your own argument demonstrates that "personal fantasies" are meaningful regardless of one's "worldview".

More tu quoque. ACTING AS IF it's meaningful doesn't mean that meaning exists. That's kinda my point.

Short version: You've got nothing and so you're just gonna keep hammering your strawman of my position and hope nobody notices.

Paul C said...

Short version: You've got nothing and so you're just gonna keep hammering your strawman of my position and hope nobody notices.

It would help if you presented a clear position. I present two premises and a conclusion:

A. Anything that exists only inside one's own head is meaningless.
B. Your love for your wife exists only inside your head.

Therefore

C. Your love for your wife is meaningless.

Exactly how are my premises wrong or incomplete?

Paul C said...

"ACTING AS IF it's meaningful doesn't mean that meaning exists."

I'd actually dispute that, but that's a separate argument. You still haven't addressed my thought experiment about counting grains on the beach, which clearly shows that meaning is something that we invest in external things, rather than those things possessing meaning in and of themselves. Do you have any counter-argument to that?

Rhology said...

I'm saying that on the Christian position, meaning resides in the mind of God, and therefore His decree and plan, and is then communicated to us. Since it exists in the mind and plan of God and since it will be a subject about which to glorify Him forever, on the part of not only myself but all other redeemed, it exists outside of me. My love for my wife is a thing for the sake of which we the redeemed will praise God forever.

On atheism, OTOH, it's a chemical reaction in my protoplasm.

No mention, I notice, of the tu quoque you're engaging in. I guess it would be too uncomfy to acknowledge it.

Paul C said...

"I'm saying that on the Christian position, meaning resides in the mind of God, and therefore His decree and plan, and is then communicated to us. Since it exists in the mind and plan of God and since it will be a subject about which to glorify Him forever, on the part of not only myself but all other redeemed, it exists outside of me. My love for my wife is a thing for the sake of which we the redeemed will praise God forever."

Yes, yes: you believe God's meaning exists outside of you, but your love for your wife exists solely in your mind, and ACCORDING TO THE DEFINITION THAT YOU GAVE US that makes it meaningless. So either your original definition was incorrect, or you believe that your love for your wife exists outside your mind. Which is it?

Paul C said...

Also, the last sentence in your comment didn't make sense grammatically, so I've helped you out. What you were saying is “We will praise God forever for the sake of my love for my wife”, which is nice, but sadly doesn't constitute an argument that your love for your wife has any meaning.

Paul C said...

And of course you still haven't addressed my point about counting grains on the beach, which demonstrates that meaning is something that we invest in external things, rather than those things possessing meaning in and of themselves.

One last time now: do you have any counter-argument to that?

Paul C said...

It occurs to me that perhaps we understand different things when we use the word "meaning". What do you understand by that term?

Rhology said...

Paul,

You know what? I just remembered last night that I should remind you that this discussion of meaning is responding to the atheist on the atheist's own terms. Remember how I framed it as an analogy to the atheist's accusations against the God of the Bible?



ACCORDING TO THE DEFINITION THAT YOU GAVE US that makes it meaningless.

Yes, ON ATHEISM. You keep forgetting, apparently, that I don't hold to atheism.
So that's why I've explained to you at least thrice now that such meaning, ON CHRISTIANITY, DOES in fact exist outside of me. But why keep harping on that? You're an atheist. Answer the question for your own worldview! Stop tu quoque-ing!


“We will praise God forever for the sake of my love for my wife”, which is nice, but sadly doesn't constitute an argument that your love for your wife has any meaning.

1) It demonstrates that, on Christianity, my love for my wife does not ONLY exist in my mind.
2) And it means sthg whether I love her or not.
Ergo: meaning outside of myself.



meaning is something that we invest in external things

I didn't comment further on it b/c it merely serves to further my point - meaning you personally manufacture and apply in your mind to otherwise-meaningless things/activities is known as a personal fantasy. I don't know what you could hope to get out of that example.


What do you understand by "meaning"?

Purpose, value, significance. You?

Paul C said...

1) It demonstrates that, on Christianity, my love for my wife does not ONLY exist in my mind.

No, it doesn't. Just because you praise God for X, it does not follow that X exists outside your mind.

2) And it means sthg whether I love her or not.

So your love for your wife means something whether you love her or not? That makes no sense. Explain.

I didn't comment further on it b/c it merely serves to further my point - meaning you personally manufacture and apply in your mind to otherwise-meaningless things/activities is known as a personal fantasy.

You seem to have missed the point completely. It is my belief that meaning is something that we invest in external things, and that no object or activity possesses intrinsic meaning.

It doesn't affect my argument at all that you call this a “personal fantasy” - your use of the phrase is a rhetorical device and not a philosophical argument.

Paul C said...

Also: you might want to account for the fact that, while you are obviously terrified that your life is meaningless, I don't suffer from a similar fear.

Rhology said...

Nah, I'm done educating you about my worldview, only to see you refuse to accept it. You either accept it and show why it's wrong, or you don't. Tu quoques and avoiding the issue are not getting you anywhere.


It is my belief that meaning is something that we invest in external things, and that no object or activity possesses intrinsic meaning.

Yes, that's precisely my point. You're engaging in a personal fantasy. You imagine something that does not exist, but you do so to make yourself feel better. It's what you accuse Christians of - imagining something (God) that does not exist (or so you think), to make yourself feel better.
You're usually pretty sharp, Paul. I'm surprised you're not seeing this.


while you are obviously terrified that your life is meaningless

Hahaha, you have no idea what I'm terrified of.
The evidence points to your own insecurity about it - else why post these comments? And why expend such energy trying to show that, even though your life is meaningless, so's mine? Misery loves company, no?

Paul C said...

Nah, I'm done educating you about my worldview, only to see you refuse to accept it. You either accept it and show why it's wrong, or you don't.

It's interesting that you see this as “educating” me, rather than having a discussion.

I've shown why it's wrong: just because you praise God for X, it does not follow that X exists outside your mind. You're missing a step in your argument.

Yes, that's precisely my point. You're engaging in a personal fantasy. You imagine something that does not exist, but you do so to make yourself feel better.

If you want to make an internal critique of my position, then you need to adopt my definitions. “On Paul's belief”, meaning consists in the value that an individual invests in an external object, activity or person; so if I imagine that meaning exists, then by my definition of meaning, it exists.

As you've explained it, you don't believe that this constitutes “real” meaning, but that's not an internal critique, and so it has no force.

It's what you accuse Christians of - imagining something (God) that does not exist (or so you think), to make yourself feel better.

I have never accused Christians of that, so I'm not sure who you're talking to at this point.

And why expend such energy trying to show that, even though your life is meaningless, so's mine?

I'm not trying to show that your life is meaningless, since I don't think your life is meaningless.

Hahaha, you have no idea what I'm terrified of.

Would it scare you if your life was meaningless? Would it bother you at all if your life was meaningless?

Rhology said...

“On Paul's belief”, meaning consists in the value that an individual invests in an external object, activity or person; so if I imagine that meaning exists, then by my definition of meaning, it exists.

In your mind.
I suppose TGOTB exists if He exists in my mind. So you're not an atheist. Right?


Would it bother you at all if your life was meaningless?

See? That wasn't so hard! Asking questions is a good thing.
Yes. In fact, it happens to have been one of the driving forces God used to bring me to Himself.

Paul C said...

I suppose TGOTB exists if He exists in my mind.

You can say with confidence that if God exists in your mind, then God exists in your mind, yes. My argument is that meaning by definition exists only in your mind. Unfortunately that has no bearing on whether God exists outside your mind.

Yes. In fact, it happens to have been one of the driving forces God used to bring me to Himself.

So it would bother you but it wouldn't scare you?

Rhology said...

Paul,

Nice dance.
Does God exist? If not, how does that affect your assertion that existence in one's mind=existence?

If so, in what way does He exist? And why not call yourself a theist?

Paul C said...

Does God exist? If not, how does that affect your assertion that existence in one's mind=existence?

My assertion is that existence in one's mind = existence in one's mind. I am not asserting that existence in one's mind = existence outside one's mind.

My belief is that meaning is by definition something can only exist in one's mind. Therefore if one believes one's life has meaning, then by definition it has meaning.

Oh, and I don't believe God exists.

Rhology said...

I am not asserting that existence in one's mind = existence outside one's mind.

OK, so it exists IN YOUR MIND. That's called "personal fantasy", and hello! We're right back where we started!


My belief is that meaning is by definition something can only exist in one's mind. Therefore if one believes one's life has meaning, then by definition it has meaning.

OK.
And this is right back to what I said about the mainstream Christian. Let's say he says: My belief is that God is by definition something can only exist in one's mind. Therefore if one believes God exists, then by definition God exists.


Oh, and I don't believe God exists.

Arbitrary inconsistency.

Anonymous said...

It's so sad to see how bronze aged myths have warped yet another mind to such an absurd degree.

David said...

Just to clarify, did you fear a lack of meaning or not? Or did it just "bother" you?

Paul C said...

OK, so it exists IN YOUR MIND. That's called "personal fantasy", and hello! We're right back where we started!

I never left the place where we started. My point was merely that your label of “personal fantasy” is a rhetorical tactic and not a philosophical argument. This is clearly shown by the fact that you have been unable to demonstrate that meaning can exist outside of one's mind. As I said, you can call it what you want, but don't let anybody mistake your rhetoric for substantial argument.

Let's say he says: My belief is that God is by definition something can only exist in one's mind. Therefore if one believes God exists, then by definition God exists.

Meaning is by definition something that can only exist in one's mind; therefore your belief that your life has meaning is what causes meaning to exist.

God is by definition something that must exist outside your mind. Therefore your belief that God exists has no bearing on whether God exists. If you believe that God exists, then God exists in your mind, otherwise you couldn't have formed that belief. sHowever that's not the God you're arguing for, since your God by has objective external existence.

Meaning, beauty, love; these things by definition exist can only exist in the mind, and therefore to hold them in your mind is sufficient for their existence. The same argument does not apply for horses, moons or gods; the error that you are making is that because argument X applies to Y, it also applies to Z, which of course is not true.

Arbitrary inconsistency.

How is it inconsistent?

Rhology said...

. This is clearly shown by the fact that you have been unable to demonstrate that meaning can exist outside of one's mind.

On atheism, sure. You haven't dealt with my explanation of Christianity, but that would be silly, b/c you're not a CHristian, let alone a well-studied one.
On atheism, there's not really a way to know that ANYthing exists outside of one's own mind, so the fact that I can't show that meaning does isn't surprising.


God is by definition something that must exist outside your mind.

Not the way many mainline 'Christians' define it. Try again.

Paul C said...

You haven't dealt with my explanation of Christianity, but that would be silly, b/c you're not a CHristian, let alone a well-studied one.

As far as I can tell, you don't appear to have given an explanation for how – in any framework, Christian or not – meaning exists outside of one's mind. Which comment was that in?

Not the way many mainline 'Christians' define it. Try again.

It is simply untrue that mainline Christians believe that God has no objective existence.

You don't seem to be engaging with the actual point that I make, which is that meaning that exists in one's mind is not only meaningful, but is the only kind of meaning that could be meaningful. Bearing in mind that you need to bring an internal critique, do you have any response?

Rhology said...

Which comment was that in?

The ones about praising God, etc.


It is simply untrue that mainline Christians believe that God has no objective existence.

Hmm, believe anonymous Paul C, or believe the guy who's grown up among mainline and liberal 'Christians'?
You're overgeneralising. Many do. Not all, many. Deal, please.

Paul C said...

The ones about praising God, etc.

As I pointed out, what you said was “We will praise God forever for the sake of my love for my wife”. This is nice but doesn't constitute an argument that your love for your wife exists outside your mind.

Hmm, believe anonymous Paul C, or believe the guy who's grown up among mainline and liberal 'Christians'? You're overgeneralising. Many do. Not all, many. Deal, please.

I also grew up among what you refer to as mainline Christians, albeit not in the US, and I never met a single one that did not believe in a God that did not exist externally. While there are relatively fringe theologists who do assert this, such as Don Cupitt, I do not believe you have any evidence that a substantial number of mainline Christians believe this. Feel free to prove me wrong.

Paul C said...

Good to see that you lose interest in the discussion as soon as you realise that you've lost it. Let me know how your wife takes the news that your love for her is a meaningless personal fantasy.

Rhology said...

Sorry, when you persist in strawmaning me and won't deal with my actual position, I don't see much point in banging my head against the wall the 4th time.

Paul C said...

I am dealing with your actual position. All I've done is repeated your own words back to you and pointed out if you accept the premises of your own argument, your love for your wife is a personal fantasy. Since you hold personal fantasies to be meaningless, your love for your wife is meaningless. I don't have a problem with that, but you should probably let her know.

Rhology said...

See? Constant denial, incorrigible.
Oh, and you also never dealt with the fact that you're focusing on a tu quoque.

Paul C said...

See? Constant denial, incorrigible.
Oh, and you also never dealt with the fact that you're focusing on a tu quoque.


This is ridiculous. There is no tu quoque. I am merely using your own argument to demonstrate that your love for your wife is meaningless. I have also explained two ways in which you can escape the trap of your own argument - either concede that something that exists in your own mind can be meaningful, or narrow your definition of personal fantasy further. If you lack the capacity or willingness to engage in these discussions, why on earth do you even bother to type anything?

Rhology said...

Haha. Ladies and gentlemen, that's why I stopped posting on this thread. Incorrigible. Have a good Thanksgiving.