Wednesday, June 01, 2011

JP Laughlin and the Atheist Experience

Via Twitter I happened upon one @JPLaughlin and we got to talking when I visited his blog.
He refers there to a couple of phone calls Matt Slick of CARM made to the Atheist Experience live call-in show a few years ago, which I reviewed here.  I think these dialogues, while a bit redundant because of atheist Matt Dillahunty's refusal to advance the conversation and obtuse insistence on his mistaken naked assertion, are some of the best atheist-versus-presuppositionalist material out there in the .mp3-osphere, up there with the first Wilson-Barker debate, the Bahnsen-Stein debate, and the Manata-Barker debate.

Anyway, JP Laughlin is unsurprisingly sympathetic to the AthExp, but he gets some things wrong.  You may read my question and his reply there, in which he invited me to post something more substantial on his blog.
It is a kind offer, but I think it's probably best that he post on his blog and I on mine, and we can inform each other of new posts and comments as the dialogue progresses.


--------
JP,
Thanks for the answer.
It's interesting - Slick dominated that exchange with the AthExp b/c it became clear after the, I don't know, 8th repetition of Dillahunty's naked assertion about logical absolutes.  Slick had him, and I'm not sure if Dillahunty knew it, but it's painfully obvious.

What's perhaps funnier is how the AthExp is so out of line with other atheism apologists.  Who's right, and how can we know?

Now, a few other lines to respond to here:
Dillahunty gets Slick to admit that a god cannot make “A” into “not A” because it would be a logic contradiction he demonstrates that Slick’s god is subject to the laws of logic and, therefore, cannot be the author of them

That's not an admission that God can't make A into non-A. It's our position. This is kind of like saying "I got Slick to admit that Jesus died on a cross. LOL!!!"
Well, yes, quite so. Well done.
God is not, however, in submission to the laws of logic, and Slick never said that; it's your telescoping of what you want Slick to be saying.  Rather, God always acts in accord with His nature and character, and He is logical. The universe operates in accord with the logical way He created it.  So that's the answer.
Contrast that with the atheistic position, where the laws of logic somehow...arose...spontaneously...whereas nothing existed before. That's a little bit, ah, dubious.


The problem with this is that, if this god exists, while he cannot make something inconsistent with his nature, he can make humans who can lie.

Again, yes, so what?
You know, you're just one more in a long line of atheists who can't bring themselves to remember that the Bible teaches about the Fall of Man.


These humans that can lie, therefore, are inconsistent with this god’s nature.

I don't even know what this is supposed to mean, honestly.  It's a pretty large category error.
Yes, God's creation is currently in some disarray; have you heard of something called "sin"?


If this were to be logically consistent, it would mean that Slick’s god could also make a square circle. This line of reasoning is self-refuting.

Sorry, but this is silly.


Now for your comment:
The short (and unsatisfying) answer to your question is…it depends. It depends on what you mean by both “concept” and “mind.”

It's not difficult. Concepts are ideas, subjects of thought.
Minds are intelligent entities capable of thought and reflection. So...your answer, please?



In brief, if there were no minds in the universe, for example, and the only thing existing was one thing we now signify “asteroid,” then the “logical absolutes” apply to it even in the absence of any minds to conceive the absolutes or perceive the “asteroid.”

W/o the ability to apply a logical statement to it, how do you know this is true?
We don't live in that universe.
Thanks for any reply whenever you may have time. I'm not big on time limits, as I understand what it's like to have a life outside the blogosphere.

10 comments:

Damion said...

"Contrast that with the atheistic position, where the laws of [______] somehow...arose...spontaneously...whereas nothing existed before."

I could fill in that blank with things like "grammar" and "semantics" and "etiquette" and so on. Such things arose spontaneously over time as humans learned to get along and communicate one with another. Somehow, though, the laws of logic are considered to be in a special category (transcendent and timeless) even though they are explicit instructions about how we should build meaningful propositions using certain words.

Rhology said...

The laws of logic are comparable to the "laws" of etiquette?
The French like to eat with their wrists resting on the table, one utensil in each hand.
The Japanese prefer you to slurp your noodles, rather loudly.
The Christians prefer the law of non-contradiction.
The Hindus dig stuff that contradicts.

All the same, right?

Rhology said...

even though they are explicit instructions about how we should build meaningful propositions using certain words.

So they're not explicit instructions about how we should build meaningful propositions using certain words. Right?

Damion said...

“So they're not explicit instructions about how we should build meaningful propositions using certain words.”

Right! Unless, of course, you mean "not" in the sense usually given by native speakers of English, that is, a particular definition assigned to a certain set of sounds or symbols. All such definitions and tokens thereof naturally "somehow...arose...spontaneously..." over eons of linguistic evolution, and yet we cannot communicate without them.

reflectionsonirreligion said...

Thanks for the reply and taking the time to post.
I've responded in kind with a post here:
http://reflectionsonirreligion.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/rhology-replies-to-my-critique-of-tag/

Rhology said...

Damion said:
even though they are explicit instructions about how we should build meaningful propositions using certain words.

I said:
So they're not explicit instructions about how we should build meaningful propositions using certain words. Right?

Damion now says:
Right!

Hmmm...One of us is not following the other.
The point I was making is that this is not applicable to the law of non-contradiction.

Maybe if I say it this way: My mind uses logic to tell me that God exists. Your mind uses logic to tell you that God does not exist. Which of our minds is using logic correctly and how do we know?


All such definitions and tokens thereof naturally "somehow...arose...spontaneously..." over eons of linguistic evolution, and yet we cannot communicate without them.

They didn't arise spontaneously, for one thing.
And logic governs far more than communication, I should think would be obvious.

Damion said...

"And logic governs far more than communication, I should think would be obvious."

It's not obvious at all, not even to logicians.  Take the LEM for example.  It tells us how to use the word "not" to express negation when using standard propositional logic, which is bivalent with respect to truth values.  The LEM is essentially a convention which tells us how to use certain elements of language to express certain ideas within a certain (very widely used) logical system.

Here is a premise worth stating explicitly and examining closely:

(P1) If we cannot communicate clearly without adhering to rule X, then rule X must be transcendent of space and time.

Note that X here is a class of ideas including the laws of classical logic, the conventions of grammar, standard dictionary definitions for the words we use, and a few other conventions without which we cannot hope to communicate.  In the case of this particular message, we can also add the conventions of HTTP and TCP/IP to the list.

Presumably, Rho wants to use some other premise stronger than (P1) but I've not yet seen that done, either here or in another thread.  Every attempt to call out the laws of classical logic for very special ontological treatment has come back to this one key premise.

Rhology said...

It tells us how to use the word "not" to express negation when using standard propositional logic, which is bivalent with respect to truth values.

And by the same token, it's not not-bivalent with respect to truth values. Right?


The LEM is essentially a convention which tells us how to use certain elements of language to express certain ideas within a certain (very widely used) logical system.

Except when it comes to whether the LEM is either true or not-true.


(P1) If we cannot communicate clearly without adhering to rule X, then rule X must be transcendent of space and time.

OK, let's explore that. I of course have zero problem with transcendent concepts, though it's difficult to see how that fits in with any atheistic worldview.


Every attempt to call out the laws of classical logic for very special ontological treatment has come back to this one key premise.

Logic is normative on the level of ontology of things, while etiquette is just for a few interactions between contingent beings. Again, I don't know why that's not obvious.

Damion said...

You won't be able to find a logician who claims the LEM is either true or untrue, because they know that it is an conventional element of a logical system rather than a statement about the universe.  

You claim to know that logic exists outside of the human beings who think about and communicate about them.  Without resorting to premise (P1), what is your evidence for this peculiar ontological claim? Also, what concepts other than the laws of classical logic fall under this claim?

Rhology said...

what is your evidence for this peculiar ontological claim?

I both have evidence for it and don't have evidence for it.