What are you?

In a footnote to his paper God and Objectivism: A Critique of Objectivist Philosophy of Religion published in JARS, Stephen Parrish says

I find it difficult to ascertain exactly what Objectivists believe about the mind and the body. They reject substance dualism, yet also reject any sort of reductionism. It seems to me that their view of the mind-body relation is a sort of nonreductive physicalism. In this view, what really exists is matter—specifically, the brain, and the mind supervenes on, or is realized by the brain. This means that the mind does not exist apart from the brain, but cannot be reduced to it, by which it is meant that it cannot be totally explained in terms of the physical makeup of the brain. Writes William Thomas (n.d.a) on the mind-body relation:

What we call the mind is the set of capacities to be aware, to perceive the world, to think about it, to feel, to value, to make choices. How do these capacities arise? In many respects, the answer to that question must come from science, not philosophy. But everything we know indicates that they are the product of biological evolution and that they depend on our physical sense organs and brain, as well as on the many other support structures that the body provides.

Even the above, is not all that clear and could be interpreted in terms of either property dualism or nonreductive physicalism. I think that the latter fits in better with the overall picture of reality that Objectivists espouse. Actually, the mind-body problem is another area in which Objectivists need to work. …

Get to work, Objectivists!

Tell me, do you accept or reject substrate independence? Substrate independence is the claim that

conscious minds could in principle be implemented not only on carbon-based biological neurons (such as those inside your head) but also on some other computational substrate such as silicon-based processors.

In other words

what allows you to have conscious experiences is not the fact that your brain is made of squishy, biological matter but rather that it implements a certain computational architecture.

Do you accept or reject this claim?

[Cross-posted to The Third Watch.]

This entry was posted in Ayn Rand, Evolutionism, Intelligent Design, Laws of Nature, Monism vs Dualism, Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind. Bookmark the permalink.

82 Responses to What are you?

  1. Atheism= Nihilism not Objective morality. Marxists were first to call themselves ‘Objectivists’ and derived their ‘morality’ from science and materialism. From this world view they correctly deduced that the Individual may be sacrificed to the collective and that the Party State was the highest authority in the universe and therefore may give and take away all rights as they see fit.
    Lenin further Developed this Idea to say that what ever tends towards the Good of the Party State… is ‘moral’. This means Lies, Terrorism, Mass Murder, The Nationalisation of Property, Conscription, Suppression of Dissenters and all ‘Enemies of the state’, Eugenic Euthanasia, Ethnic cleansing, etc … are Justifiable… the end justifies the means. This is also then conclusion reached by the Atheist Nobel prize winning Philosopher Bertrand Russell. Objectivism is also another form of such Anti-Idealistic pragmatism, as they believe whatever tends to preserve their *own Ego/life* is justifiable esp lies,… all talk of respecting the rights of others are just platitudes to prop up their own egos!
    In reality following the Objectivist first principle *anything goes*.
    Ayn Rand and her army of Disciples are both Dishonest and Self-deluded when they claim to be able to Derive objective morality and ‘Higher Law Human Rights’ from exactly the same foundation as the Marxist use for their ‘Morality’ ie Atheist scientific materialism.

    The pertinence is esp obvious when you consider what is said in this Blog post about ‘computer consciousness’. (though that in itself is a part of the Atheist ‘Monist’ position) Our own consciousness and freewill are Self-evident proofs of Dualistic spiritual/living reality over and above the merely physical/ dead reality. It interests me that with Nano technology is could be possible to engineer ‘a bird’ that hatches into a machine that looks like a bird (Has feather-like structures), then grows in size by consuming ‘organic matter’, Sings and flies, and even has sex with another engineered being etc… yet do all these things make it a living creature? I don’t think so. It would be mimicking life… and many people would be deceive into thinking it was ‘alive’… scientists would argue that it was… etc but in reality it would not be ‘conscious’ it would be sophisticated automation.
    Now it would be interesting to hear how an objectivist would deny such an automation rights if it was so designed as to mimic a human being… because ultimately…that is what they believe we are… merely sophisticatedly arranged matter.

    And what is also interesting to consider still is imagine if such a sophisticated automation, not a mimic but one looking completely unlike any other living creature was placed somewhere previously un explored… and was ‘discover’…Would evolutionists believe it came into existence via unguided Natural processes… Evolution?
    To contemplate this shows how extreme a leap of faith atheist evolution really is!
    The most obvious conclusion and correct assumption to make would be that such an automation must be the product of amazing genius and intelligent command over Mater and energy… God like powers.
    God-like only, but not truly Divine because though amazing, such machines would not be a conscious living beings at all.
    Tim Wikiriwhi

  2. Richard says:

    Tell me, do you accept or reject substrate independence?

    Tim, you reject substrate independence. Wrong answer!

    Basically, you believe in zombies. I don’t. This is a live issue in contemporary philosophy of mind. For the time being, let’s leave David Chalmers and Daniel Dennett to fight it out. But you can look forward to more posts from me on this hot topic.

    Meanwhile, the meta-question is, why don’t (or why won’t) Objectivists answer the question?! Are they afraid that I’ll tell them what I told you? (“Wrong answer!”) Or are their brains the size and shape of the ‘O’ in ‘Objectivism’ and their silence hides the fact that they don’t even understand the question? Or is it something else? What do you think?

  3. Tim says:

    So you think a computor can become self-aware Richard. Wrong answer! Thats merely materialism! How about the fact that God is *a spirit*??? To believe that mind is a property of matter is insane.

  4. Richard says:

    So you think a computor can become self-aware Richard.

    Tim, I am a self-aware computer. I am … “merely sophisticatedly arranged matter.”

  5. Reed says:

    A processor/process based consciousness can never be conscious if it is not conscious at an instant of time.

    Consciousness is primarily a state.

    Processors may mimic an effect of consciousness (i.e. computational processes) but, as far as we know, processors do not have a state of consciousness.

  6. Richard says:

    Consciousness is primarily a state.

    You think?!

    (Consciousness is primarily thinking. Thinking is a process, not a state. Ergo, consciousness is a process.)

  7. Tim says:

    The Incarnation of Christ demonstrates how our human spirit inhabits the body. In his case his Divine spirit inhabited his material body…like a temple.
    You Richard are stuck in a Non- spiritual mentality…an atheist materialist mentality which is very weak position indeed. We are not our bodies. Furthermore by rendering man merely matter you destroy his special dignity, and infact make a mockery of Christianity… Christ died for robots. That is sick. do you also deny freewill? then you absolutely destroy the validity of Christian morality and Divine judgement.

  8. Richard says:

    Tim, Richard Feynman says, “There is a difference between the name of the thing and what goes on.” You say

    We are not our bodies. … our human spirit inhabits the body.

    So you have told me “the name of the thing,” viz., ‘spirit’. But you have told me almost nothing about “what goes on.” You have told me that a spirit is a thing that “inhabits the body.” Well, so do gut parasites. Tell me more about spirits. What are they made of? Where do they come from? What do they do? Do I need one?

    Furthermore by rendering man merely matter you destroy his special dignity, and infact make a mockery of Christianity

    Matter is a miracle. How can you utter the words ‘mere’ and ‘matter’ in the same breath? You make a mockery of God’s creation!

    You Richard are stuck in a Non- spiritual mentality…an atheist materialist mentality which is very weak position indeed.

    We need labels … my position is called “Non-Reductive Physicalism”. And yours is called “Cartesian Dualism” … I think. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

  9. Reed says:

    Richard
    To be conscious you have to be conscious at an instant of time.

    Agree or disagree?

  10. Richard says:

    To be conscious you have to be conscious at an instant of time.

    I disagree.

  11. Richard says:

    Agree or disagree?

    Binary, I like binary.

  12. Tim says:

    Materialism is the denial of God Richard. It is a denial of disembodied spirit/ living entity. It leads to Amorality. Eg would you as a human being on a sinking ship risk your life to save a self aware laptop that was screaming through its speakers ‘Save me!’…. ? Or would you condemn a Policeman of derelection of duty if he refuesed to shoot dead a human being who was threatening to drop a computor off a building? And if you equate a human being to a fancy computor… why respect their rights at all? You have fallen into the abyss that is the Soul-less Moral-less delusion that is materialism.
    ICor2vs14 ‘But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’

    You Richard are wandering like a lost soul in the delusions of Human/ carnal reasoning which is totally devoid of the Higher reason and wisdom of God.

    Colossians 2vs8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

    If you want to label my position Richard call me a Bible believer. I dont need to reduce Gods word down to such a Base level as the current delusions of humanity… thinking all truth must be verifyable via materialistic Science! Thats is to be caught in a web of your own folly and ignorance.

  13. Reed says:

    Don’t anthropomorphise computers… they hate that.

  14. Richard says:

    You Richard are wandering like a lost soul in the delusions of Human/ carnal reasoning which is totally devoid of the Higher reason and wisdom of God.

    Whoa!

    You’re a dualist, right? Do you agree with Descartes?

    If you want to label my position Richard call me a Bible believer.

    I want a label for your position in the philosophy of mind.

  15. Richard says:

    It’s rumoured that Sidney Morgenbesser once said to B. F. Skinner, “Let me see if I understand your thesis. You think we shouldn’t anthropomorphise people?”

  16. Richard says:

    “Let me see if I understand your thesis. You think … ?”

    Please let’s follow Morgenbesser’s example. The taxonomy of positions in the philosophy of mind is pretty well worked out, so choosing provisional labels would be a good start. I’ll stick with ‘Functionalism‘.

  17. Reed says:

    what allows you to have conscious experiences is not the fact that your brain is made of squishy, biological matter but rather that it implements a certain computational architecture.

    Do you accept or reject this claim?

    I accept the first claim and reject the second.

  18. Richard says:

    And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

    Dust + “breath of life” = living soul.

  19. Richard says:

    Reed, what allows you to have conscious experiences?

  20. Tim says:

    Dust + “breath of life” = living soul.

    Thats Dualism Richard, Matter+ Lifeforce/ Spirit. Life did not spring from the dead matter but *from God*. And God is a Non-physical Living Being. The physical world is Temporal. God is eternal. He existed before matter. You are trying to make Humanity into a Godless being… ie If Materialist monism is true, God is dead.

  21. Reed says:

    Reed, what allows you to have conscious experiences?

    A continuum of conscious moments… but to be more precise… I don’t know.

  22. Richard says:

    Dust + “breath of life” = living soul.

    Thats Dualism Richard, Matter+ Lifeforce/ Spirit.

    No, Tim. It’s not. It’s physicalism. The term ‘Lifeforce’ does not occur in Genesis 2. The term ‘Spirit’ does not occur in Genesis 2. Those are your interpolations!

    Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:6)

    Dust is dust. Breath is air. Both are physical. God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. God made man out of physical stuff and by a physical act made man a “living soul”.

    Life as we know it is a physical phenomenon.

    Mind (“soul”) as we know it is a physical phenomenon.

    Life did not spring from the dead matter but *from God*. And God is a Non-physical Living Being.

    Yes, God made man “in his own image.” God is a non-physical living being, but man is a physical living being. Man is an “image” of God, but not necessarily made of the same stuff.

    A digital photograph of an oil painting on canvas is an “image” of the oil painting but is not necessarily made of oil on canvas. It’s made of pixels.

    You may say that the “breath of life” is not physical. But the burden of proof is yours.

    And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. (Genesis 7:15)

    Whether or not the “breath of life” is physical, we read further in Genesis that non-human animals also have the “breath of life”. What this means is that Genesis 2:7 actually tells us nothing at all about what distinguishes man from the other animals, i.e., it tells us nothing at all about the nature of the soul (“mind”).

  23. Richard says:

    Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

    Plato (“the soul is immortal”) takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.

    And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. (Colossians 2:4)

    Descartes (“the soul is immaterial”) deceives you by fine-sounding arguments.

  24. Tim says:

    I am *not* a disiple of Descartes Richard, but of the Bible. I have presented you Biblical examples of Disembodied spirits as a reality whereas you are trapped in Atheistic ‘logic’.

  25. Tim says:

    Your premises are atheistic, not theistic.

  26. Reed says:

    It is written… “You will not surely die.”

  27. Richard says:

    Xray says

    Am I correct in assuming that “substrate independence” does not mean completely independent of any physical substrate?
    That is, there always has to be some kind of physical substrate providing the basis for consciousness to manifest itself.

    Imo this is a crucial issue with regard to theistic concepts of the ‘supernatural’.

    OK, ‘substrate independence’ was a really bad choice of name for what the name stands for. Basically, when I say ‘substrate independence’ I mean functionalism. The take-home message is multiple realisability (supervenience). Wikipedia says

    Multiple realizability, in philosophy of mind, is the thesis that the same mental property, state, or event can be implemented by different physical properties, states or events.

    That is, there always has to be some kind of substrate providing the basis for consciousness. It does not have to be a physical substrate. It has to be a substrate.

  28. Tim says:

    ‘Breath’ means Spirit Richard. They are synonyms. Esp Non-corporeal substances
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit

    I am not prepared to play this game on your terms Richard.
    I dont buy into the current way Academia functions. It is laughibly puffed up in its own ignorance. eg You think of humanity as merely a machine. Why? Because we live in an age of machines. I call this a techno- myth (Trademark) by this I mean the myths of every age may be understood by the state of Tecknology of that age (eg In the Age of the Wheel, the Gods rode Chariots. Today in the age of the wright brothers and Neil Armstrong Aliens fly saucers, etc) Thus I predict a future age when Man will be saved from the current materialist ignorance and then Know that Incorporeal spirits are Fact rather than as I must temporarily maintian my position…by faith. The Bible tells me so. You seek to reduce reality down to your puny grasp of it…as is currently the state of the art. Tis a doomed enterprise! Every one of your sidesteps that avoids the truthfulness of the Scriptures relies on the current state of ignorance. *You assume Materialism* * I believe the Bible.* We can barely have a discussion. That God is an incorporeal Spirit absolutely destroys your premises, and exposes them for what they are. *Atheism* (Please dont think that I am Condemning you to hell fire! I am not. If you are trusting in the work of Christ on the Cross, and his resurection for your salvation then you are saved. *Garanteed* I am attacking your schooling. Your worldliness that mis-handles the scriptures.
    From my position I see a future that looks back at the materialsim of our age as an age of ignorance and darkness. They will chuckle that Atheists and materialists even existed. It will be so funny because of the self evidence of our own consciousness and freewill. *These things Prove my Dualism and vindicate my faith in the scriptures* yet as a materialist *You choose* to play the materialist/ atheist delusion.
    I can maintain my position with dignity because the reality is your materialism is an act of pure faith also. And my arguements are better than yours!

  29. And of course The philosophy of mind today is absolutely dominated by the materialists who are Hell bent on reducing all our choices in mere chemical reactions/automations of our Genes, which is an absolute repudiation of Christian ethics.

    St Paul is the Highest authority on this Subject, yet he gets no respect in Academia. (So why would I respect such a bunch of vain and self-deluded reprobates?)
    In Romans he talks about the Dualism of the Flesh and the Spirit.
    Thus He says The Human is not absolutely Spirit, or absolutely flesh.
    The two compete for domination. The Christian is given the Ethics (And ideal values) by which he ought to motivate himself to be the ‘Ideal man’ ie his Spirit ought to keep his flesh under subjection. It is via his spirit that he has the power of freewill *To overcome the urges of the flesh… the genetic factors of being a human animal.* Without the Ethics there is little reason not to live *as an animal* 100% dedicated to fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. Thus the Christian has the choice to follow the will of the Lord, or the will of a false God/ false ethical code (maybe himself), or surrender absolutely to his Flesh. As a poor calibre Christian I confess to being a slave to my own lusts and Character faults… yet I will never deny my culpability, because I know that I choose to be Carnal rather than Saintly. I don’t blame my Genes, or my upbringing. I accept full responsibility for my shortcomings, and praise the Lord that he has saved me and enlightened me so that I am not as absolutely wicked as I would surely be if I did not know the truth.

  30. Richard says:

    I am not prepared to play this game on your terms Richard.

    Come on Tim. Try it out!
    Most people don’t know what I’m about.
    They put me down and shut me out.
    Won’t you listen?

    When I first met you I didn’t realise.
    I can’t forget you or your surprise.
    You introduced me to Jesus Christ.
    I love you sweet ‘riwhi.

    All right now!

    My thoughts are free.
    My mind is clear.

    Your dualism is empty.
    Oh you know it!
    Though you won’t hear.

    You’ll be forever on a down.
    Until you let me show you around.
    I’ll give to you a new belief.
    And leave you wanting philosophy of mind.

  31. Tim says:

    Richard: Reed, what allows you to have conscious experiences?

    Reed: “A continuum of conscious moments… but to be more precise… I don’t know.”

    Your Honesty is commendable Reed. The Truth is
    *None of Richards Philosophers and scientists Know either!*
    They grapple in the dark like lost children in the woods.
    This is one of the greatest mysteries in the whole universe.
    They Pathetically try and reduce mans mind down to the level of a silicone chip.
    They do this because they *start off* with Monist Materialist blinkers, thus they will not even consider the opinion of Dualist Theists. (We ought not to expect anything different from them, any more than expecting a carpenter to attempt to make a steel house… 99% wont even consider it…thats not their business. The spiritual realm has been all but bannished from the ‘In club’ of ‘Serious thinkers’)
    Yet for all their Noise and din… and electrodes…they are hollow vessels.
    They reject Freewill even though they exercise it every day… writing it off as ‘an illusion’ why? because (like God himself), it does not fit into their materialist equations. They do this with everything that does not fit their materialism eg Spontaneous generation was absolutely disproved by Louis Pasteur (His primitive experiments still hold true today)… yet what the materialists do is simply change the name to ‘abiogenesis’… and carry on in their materialism! This is why in the scientific community they are convinced in their own minds *There is no evidence against Materialism… no evidence of Miracles, etc*… when there is plenty.
    So I am not smoked by all Richards ‘Clever friends’, neither should you be. *They know nothing* They start with assuming a Lie and chase it like fools.

  32. Tim says:

    There is an interface between our Spirit and our Brain. There is an interface between God and all Matter by which it exists. He is transendent.

  33. Richard says:

    There is an interface between our Spirit and our Brain.

    Why is there an interface between my spirit and my brain? Do I need it or is it an optional extra?

  34. Xray says:

    Tim says:
    Thursday 5 April 2012 at 5:39 AM

    I am *not* a disiple of Descartes Richard, but of the Bible. I have presented you Biblical examples of Disembodied spirits as a reality whereas you are trapped in Atheistic ‘logic’. (end quote)

    Where do you get the idea that Biblical examples prove the existence of “Disembodied spirits”?

  35. God for 1 Xray.
    Another example is the demons whom possess human beings and Animals.
    Satan entered Judas etc.
    St Paul died and went to heaven, and came back.

  36. Legion says:

    Another example is the demons whom possess human beings and Animals.

    My name is Legion: for we are many.

  37. Richard says:

    [Multiple realisability] is the claim that conscious minds could in principle be implemented not only on carbon-based biological neurons (such as those inside your head) but also on some other computational substrate such as silicon-based processors.

    Multiple realisability is the claim that demons could in principle be implemented not only on human brains but also on some other computational substrate such as Gadarene swine-based processors.

  38. Xray says:

    Tim Wikiriwhi says:
    Saturday 7 April 2012 at 8:11 AM

    “God for 1 Xray.” (end quote)
    Where is your evidence of God’s existence ?

    “Another example is the demons whom possess human beings and Animals.”
    (end quote)
    How do you kow they are demons and not just neural disturbances in the brain?

    “Satan entered Judas etc.” (end quote)
    The wicked witch tried to kill Hansel and Gretel. Does this also suggest to you that this wicked witch existed? 🙂

    “St Paul died and went to heaven, and came back.” (end quote)
    Where and when did he come back?

  39. Richard says:

    Top 10 list of Stupid Atheist Questions
    (1) Where is your evidence of God’s existence?
    (2) Etc. …

    Xray, what are you?

  40. Xray says:

    Richard says:
    Sunday 8 April 2012 at 8:50 AM
    “Xray, what are you?” (end quote)

    An inquiring mind.

  41. Richard says:

    An inquiring mind.

    Inquiring minds could in principle be implemented not only on carbon-based biological neurons (such as those inside your head) but also on some other computational substrate such as silicon-based processors.

    Do you agree?

  42. Richard. You need to admit there is no scientific reason to believe the answer to that question is *Yes*. Only a blind assumption of Monism.

  43. And Monism is a denal of ghosts…. of God.

  44. Xray says:

    “Inquiring minds could in principle be implemented not only on carbon-based biological neurons (such as those inside your head) but also on some other computational substrate such as silicon-based processors.

    Do you agree?” (end quote)

    I would not discount this possibility, especially in view of mankind only just having begun to emerge from the “age of darkness”, if you think in a cosmic time frame.

    Maybe several million years from from now, we will be looked upon by our ‘descendants’ as ignorant ceatures who still thought that creating artificial intelligence was an impossibility …

  45. That does sound a lot like the plot to a bad Sci fi movie Xray.
    Are you able to separate your fantasies, and whims from cold Objective reason?
    Now that leads me to think about the ‘Evolution’ of the computer.
    Why don’t we just sit back and wait for a bunch of fortunate accidents to occur … ‘the blind watchmaker’…. to create this ‘Silicone being’ as he is supposed to have done with all life forms including Mankind?
    You see by Man applying his mind and Tek to the ‘evolution’ of the computer and other things… like cars, and society, etc we Prove ID as the prime mover in raising Nature from its own tendencies towards entropy. (which is a Natural Law… the blind watch maker being merely a mythical God). You see without Intelligent intervention the computer would revert to dust, not transform into a living, intelligent being.

  46. Pingback: We are not Robots Ayn Rand. We are Moral Agents. | Eternal Vigilance

  47. Xray says:

    Tim says:
    Monday 9 April 2012 at 7:28 AM
    “We are not Robots Ayn Rand. We are Moral Agents.”
    (end quote)

    Oh, Ayn Rand would heartily agree to “man” being a “moral agent”.
    The goal of Objectivist morality is a tad different though from that of a “Soldier for Christ”, as you have called yourself. 🙂
    I’m no Objectivist btw; I don’t adhere to any specific philosophy in its completeness; I pick and choose elements to build into my own philosophical ‘patchwork quilt’, so to speak.
    For quite a few philosophies contain some “gems”. Objectivism’s gem is “Check your premises”. Which of course means checking Objectvism’s premises as well.

    As for the premises of the Christians posting here, they are of course religious, and to me it looks like they have never even attempted to test them, but instead have accepted them unquestioned as “the truth”. The result will be circular reasoning whenever an ‘outsider’ wants to subject them to testing.
    Another ‘method’ is to reject as “silly” premise-checking questions which address basic epistemological issues.
    I have been in lot of similar discussions, and the result has always been the same: it is useless to rationally discuss with believers who won’t even try to subject their premises to the litmus test of reality.
    Believers have their good reasons for not ‘going there’ of course: radical testing could lead to the crumbling of the carefully constructed edifice of their belief, possibly even in the loss of faith as a last consequence.
    Such unwelcome prospects can be perceived as threat to the feeling of security we humans yearn for. Perfectly exlainable, all that.

  48. Tim says:

    And yet you wont put your own Materialist premises to the test…when you do it results in circular reasoning…
    The reality is Materialism leads to Robotics, not Freewill Moral Agency. this is why Rand tries to have her Cake and eat it too.
    It is from this truth that I found my premises that dualism is self-evident, and is why we are infact Moral agents not Robots. (as current Godless Academia are busy trying to prove…read my comments on this thread)

  49. Reed says:

    XRay
    P1) Existence has a foundation.
    P2) Everything that exists is evidence of the nature of the foundation.
    P3) Aspects of existence are purposeful.

    How should I test these premises?

    How did you test your premise that there is no evidence of God?

  50. Xray says:

    Reed says:
    Monday 9 April 2012 at 3:57 PM
    “XRay
    P1) Existence has a foundation.
    P2) Everything that exists is evidence of the nature of the foundation.
    P3) Aspects of existence are purposeful.” (end quote)

    One can see at a glance that the alleged nature of that foundation is not addressed.
    But premise checking means doing just that.
    So next step is: please name the “nature” of the foundatin and we’ll examine it.

  51. Reed says:

    One can see at a glance that the alleged nature of that foundation is not addressed.
    But premise checking means doing just that.

    Ay? Premise checking means just doing what?

    Are you saying that I should consider P2 false depending on what the nature of the foundation appears to be?
    What if I allege that the foundation is eternal – should I then consider one or some of my premises false?

    How did you test your premise that there is no evidence of God?

  52. Richard says:

    Maybe several million years from from now, we will be looked upon by our ‘descendants’ as ignorant ceatures who still thought that creating artificial intelligence was an impossibility …

    Woe to you, Oh Earth and Sea, for the Devil sends the beast with wrath, because he knows the time is short.

    That does sound a lot like the plot to a bad Sci fi movie

  53. Richard says:

    As for the premises of the Christians posting here, they are of course religious, and to me it looks like they have never even attempted to test them, but instead have accepted them unquestioned as “the truth”.

    Oh. I was trying to make it look like I spent several decades questioning “the truth” before reluctantly adopting “God exists” as an axiom. I was trying to make it look like I spent several years subjecting all the arguments for the existence (or non-existence) of God to rigorous philosophical analysis under the close supervision of trained professionals. I was trying to make it look like I have a Ph.D. in philosophy. Never mind.

    The result will be circular reasoning whenever an ‘outsider’ wants to subject them to testing.

    The hypothesis is “God exists.” What’s your test?

    Another ‘method’ is to reject as “silly” premise-checking questions which address basic epistemological issues.

    You asked, “Where is your evidence of God’s existence?”. It’s not a silly question to ask. But it’s an insane question to ask over and over again expecting a different answer. (The evidence is here.)

    I have been in lot of similar discussions, and the result has always been the same: it is useless to rationally discuss with believers who won’t even try to subject their premises to the litmus test of reality.

    I subject my premises to the acid test of reality. Are you saying that my belief in God is baseless?

    Believers have their good reasons for not ‘going there’ of course: radical testing could lead to the crumbling of the carefully constructed edifice of their belief, possibly even in the loss of faith as a last consequence.

    ‘Been there, done that’ is a good reason for not “going there” again, of course. Also, you don’t need to be a Christian to be a physicalist about the mind.

    Such unwelcome prospects can be perceived as threat to the feeling of security we humans yearn for. Perfectly exlainable, all that.

    Perfectly explainable? Infer to the best! Accept no cheap explanations.

  54. Xray says:

    Reed says (Tuesday 10 April 2012 at 12:24 PM):
    “Are you saying that I should consider P2 false depending on what the nature of the foundation appears to be?” (end quote)

    Here are your premises again:
    “P1) Existence has a foundation.
    P2) Everything that exists is evidence of the nature of the foundation.
    P3) Aspects of existence are purposeful.” (end quote)

    Considering premise P2 to be false before having examined the root premise P1 would be putting the cart before the horse – hence my comment about “foundation” being the key term of the root premise, so this is what we’re going to check.

    Testing the root premise is so important because one can ‘logically’ infer all kinds of falsehoods from a wrong premise.
    If for example, you went by the wrong premise that the earth is flat, not revolving around the sun, you would consequently interpret the phenomena ‘sunrise/sunset’ wrongly as well.

    Reed says:
    “What if I allege that the foundation is eternal – should I then consider one or some of my premises false?” (end quote)

    It is the allegation itself that will be subjected to testing.
    “The foundation is eternal” is an allegation that is very ‘foggy’.
    So if you would please specify what exactly you mean by “foundation”, and then provide evidence of alleged “eternity” of that foundation.

    Reed says:
    “How did you test your premise that there is no evidence of God?” (end quote)

    My premise is not that “there is no evidence of a God” (for theoretically, there may exist evidence we can’t have access to because our brain is too limited in its capacity).
    My procedure is to ask the other party to provide what they consider as evidence of a god and then examine if it stands up to scrutiny.

    Keep in mind that the history of mankind is also the history of humans projecting into a “god” all that which they were unable to explain. Thunderstorms, flashes of lightning, the rainbow, etc. – all these phenomena had once been attributed to a “god”, not to natural causes.

  55. Xray says:

    Richard says (Wednesday 11 April 2012 at 5:35 AM):
    “I subject my premises to the acid test of reality. Are you saying that my belief in God is baseless?” (end quote)

    You would have to to demonstrate that reality test here.
    If for example I told you: “I subject my premises to the acid test of reality. Are you saying my belief in elves is baseless?” – what woud you reply?

    Richard says (Wednesday 11 April 2012 at 5:35 AM) :
    “The hypothesis is “God exists.” What’s your test?”

    Since is not my hypothesis, but yours, it is you who will have to do the testing.

  56. Reed says:

    P1) Existence has a foundation.
    P2) Everything that exists is evidence of the nature of the foundation.

    Considering premise P2 to be false before having examined the root premise P1 would be putting the cart before the horse – hence my comment about “foundation” being the key term of the root premise, so this is what we’re going to check… So if you would please specify what exactly you mean by “foundation”…

    Ok… by a foundation I mean – a basis, a fundamental cause, an origin.

  57. Xray Fact 1. *You cannot prove there is no God* .
    Fact 2. *Atheism is unprovable*
    So you hold your position by blind faith, only by hypocrisy can you pretend to stand on higher ground than theists.
    In fact you stand upon definitively weaker ground because your position can never be proved whereas the theistic position can at least in principle be proved.
    So if I were you I would dismount that high horse, and perhaps this would help to remove the ‘blinders of vanity and hypocrisy’ …wouldn’t that be a great place to restart/ recheck???

    you say…
    “Testing the root premise is so important because one can ‘logically’ infer all kinds of falsehoods from a wrong premise.
    If for example, you went by the wrong premise that the earth is flat, not revolving around the sun, you would consequently interpret the phenomena ‘surprise/surprise’ wrongly as well.”

    This is where I say your first premises are false. IE You assume the non-existence of God, and all your subsequent reasoning ‘orbits’ this first false assumption, or streams from it like 1,2,3,4… which is all circular reasoning because 2 must follow 1 by the nature of what you have deemed 2 to be. It could not be anything else, and remain 2. (You use materialist building blocks to construct an atheist reality)
    Thus by sterilising the universe of God, spirits, and miracles from the get go we should expect you to find that the universe is 100% materialistic… and surprise surprise… that’s exactly what you do. Thus when you approach anything which truly ought to make you check your premises, *you don’t do that at all* you assume your premises are true and deny, deny, deny as illusory, or lies, etc all phenomena that does not fit your blinkered veiw of reality built upon your false premises. eg Free will, eg2 Spontaneous generation, etc

    Richard also exposed your inference that theists aren’t serious thinkers. He does have a PHD in philosophy, and though I don’t have any such credentials (I am an Engineer), I too converted from Atheism to Christian theism via a process of Hard thinking and ‘premise checking’, and it was because of honest consideration of the Theistic arguments and a review of the paucity of the so-called scientific case for evolution and Materialism, and that one evening ‘The light switched on’ that reality perfectly correlates with the Christian world view… much better than Atheism, that I was compelled by my conscience to acknowledge that Belief in the Christian God was the Honest and rational thing to do.

  58. Richard says:

    Xray says

    As for the premises of the Christians posting here … The result will be circular reasoning whenever an ‘outsider’ wants to subject them to testing.

    Richard says (Wednesday 11 April 2012 at 5:35 AM) :
    “The hypothesis is “God exists.” What’s your test?”

    Since is not my hypothesis, but yours, it is you who will have to do the testing.

    So you want to subject my premises to testing … but it is I who has to do the testing?

    How about I don’t want to subject my premises to testing … and you don’t have to do the testing?

  59. Xray says:

    Tim Wikiriwhi says (Thursday 12 April 2012 at 9:51 AM):
    “You assume the non-existence of God, and all your subsequent reasoning ‘orbits’ this first false assumption, or streams from it like 1,2,3,4… which is all circular reasoning because 2 must follow 1 by the nature of what you have deemed 2 to be. It could not be anything else, and remain 2. (You use materialist building blocks to construct an atheist reality).” (end quote)

    Tim ,
    Wrong assumption on your part. I’m no atheist. I’m an agnostic. We cannot claim knowledge of that which cannot be known. We can only claim knowledge of the known.
    Hence my rejection as unscientific of all attempts to prove existence (or non-existence) of a god.

    But being an agnostic does not mean to just sit back and accept all kinds of absurd allegations re the existence of a god ‘because there is no proof anyway’. If for example those allegations are clearly not in accord with the facts of reality (like for example, the Creationist claim that the earth his only 6000 years old), they can be rejected as false.
    What can also be rejected is alleged evidence ‘proving’ existence of a god if this ‘evidence’ can be explained by natural causes. This is why for example no one today believes anymore that the sun is a god.

    The burden of proof falls on the one who asserts the truth of a proposition. Since agnostics don’t assert existence or non-existence of god, no burden of proof is on them.

  60. Xray says:

    Richard says:
    Friday 13 April 2012 at 7:18 AM
    “So you want to subject my premises to testing … but it is I who has to do the testing?” (end quote)

    No. You would provide them to the other party for examination. You wouldn’t be excluded though from being an active participant in the testing.
    Generally, testing one’s own premises does not necessarily require providing them to another individual.
    But if the testing is done within an internet exchange with another party, you would automatically become involved in the testing situation since you would no doubt comment on the procedure, try to find flaws, etc.

    Richard says:
    Friday 13 April 2012 at 7:18 AM
    “How about I don’t want to subject my premises to testing … and you don’t have to do the testing?” (end quote)

    This is a very clear position, since it makes transparent to the other party where you currently stand. It translates as “I have my specific reasons for not wanting to subject my premises to testing, from which it follows that I wouldn’t want any other party to test them either.”

    It is a perfectly explainable position – similar to my own position about five years ago (when I was still a Christian, albeit not a very religious one) : I did not really want my discussion opponent (who in my case was a confirmed atheist) to check my believer’s premises.
    But doubt on my part still started set in about a year later, a good while after I had stopped discussing the subject with the atheist.

  61. Xray says:

    Reed says:
    Thursday 12 April 2012 at 8:52 AM
    >>>P1) Existence has a foundation.
    >>>P2) Everything that exists is evidence of the nature of the foundation.
    (end quote Reed)

    >>[Xray] Considering premise P2 to be false before having examined the root premise P1 would be putting the cart before the horse – hence my comment about “foundation” being the key term of the root premise, so this is what we’re going to check… So if you would please specify what exactly you mean by “foundation”…(end quote Xray)

    >”Ok… by a foundation I mean – a basis, a fundamental cause, an origin.
    (end quote Reed)

    This addresses the issue of causality. Since we can observe causaltiy “in” existence, (e. g. observing that kicking a ball causes it to roll), we tend to also seek causaltiy ‘of’ existence, assuming that all existence must have a ’cause’ behind it as well .
    The problem with arguing from causality is the infinite regress. For if the causality principle is applied consistently, with a god being is assumed as “cause” of all existence, the next question to ask is “And what was the cause of God’s existence? And so on.
    Just stopping there and declaring God to be non-causal, always existent, is an arbitrary and also problematic move since it would implicitly justify an atheist to do the same and arbitrarily declare on his part “matter” as a-causal, always existing.

  62. Richard says:

    Richard says:
    Friday 13 April 2012 at 7:18 AM
    “How about I don’t want to subject my premises to testing … and you don’t have to do the testing?” (end quote)

    This is a very clear position, since it makes transparent to the other party where you currently stand. It translates as “I have my specific reasons for not wanting to subject my premises to testing, from which it follows that I wouldn’t want any other party to test them either.”

    No, it translates as, “I have no specific reasons for wanting to subject my premises to testing.” From which it doesn’t follow that I wouldn’t want any other party to test them. You want to subject my premises to testing? Please do!

    My first premise is, “God exists.” It’s an axiom. Or, if you like, an overarching research hypothesis. Test away. (It came with a burden of proof, do you need that for testing?)

    It is a perfectly explainable position – similar to my own position about five years ago (when I was still a Christian, albeit not a very religious one) : I did not really want my discussion opponent (who in my case was a confirmed atheist) to check my believer’s premises.

    Your position about five years ago was fundamentally irrational. See here.

  63. Reed says:

    XRay
    After checking my premises what did you conclude?

    Does existence have a foundation or not?

  64. An Agnostic you say Xray? Well that’s not really a position at all, but a refusal to take a position. That is because there either *is* or *is not* a God. One or the other. “I don’t know” is Lame because you are too Timid to make a real judgement call, and sit on the fence slagging those of us whom have the courage to make a choice baced upon the best Rationale we can muster.
    I am interested to hear that you were once a Christian, yet you abandoned that position. Why? What Argument undid your faith? Who convinced you that you cannot trust the scriptures? And an even bigger question is How can you even contemplate Reality as we know it… and consider Atheism to be as plausible an explanation as Theism????
    You must have been a very weak Christian indeed.
    Check out my latest post :
    http://blog.eternalvigilance.me/2012/04/way-too-starry-for-atheism/

    How can you doubt God’s existence?
    How can you smell the roses, and drink the wine… and not believe?
    Intuitively speaking Reality is Way Too Starry for Atheism!

    Jesus said….”Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”

  65. Richard says:

    Etsi Deus non daretur?

  66. Xray says:

    Tim Wikiriwhi says:
    Sunday 15 April 2012 at 6:25 PM
    “An Agnostic you say Xray? Well that’s not really a position at all, but a refusal to take a position.” (end quote)

    It is ALSO a position: that of a fence sitter.
    The agnostic’s refusal to come down ether side lies in the unanswerability of this question for us humans. For we have no way of finding out whether there exists a god or not.

    From this it follows that all claims of knowledge either way. “I know God exists/ I know there is no God” can be rejected as epistemological fallacies.
    The agnostic position is therefore an epistemological position drawing a sharp line between belief versus knowledge.

    This does not mean that an agnostics cannot have their own beliefs about “Why is there something rather than nothing?” (Actually I have yet to see an agnostic who doesn’t have them), but then these beliefs are clearly marked as such, as personal and subjective, and not to be understood as statements of fact.
    Since a fence-sitter position is per se not a stable position, it is not uncommon for agnostics to sometimes lean, belief-wise, more to one, or more to the other side.

    Tim Wikiriwhi says:
    Sunday 15 April 2012 at 6:25 PM
    “I don’t know” is Lame because you are too Timid to make a real judgement call, and sit on the fence slagging those of us whom have the courage to make a choice baced upon the best Rationale we can muster.” (end quote)

    This kind of attack on agnostics is quite frequent (and ironically, also launched at them by confirmed atheists who are so convinced that there is no god that they feel they have to cram their un-belief down others’ throats.
    But as an agnostic, I reject any kind of dogmatic attitude either way.
    Making a judgement call is also rejected because judgement calls either way cannot be made considering the absence of evidence to base such judgement calls on.
    It is true that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
    That is, from the absence of evidence of a god one cannot conclude that no god exists.
    But there is no way for us humans of find out which is the case.

    “I am interested to hear that you were once a Christian, yet you abandoned that position. Why? What Argument undid your faith? Who convinced you that you cannot trust the scriptures?” (end quote)

    I was born in the mid 1950s and raised as a Catholic, although my parents were not very religious. I thus have always had a certain distance to the church as an institution, although I regularly attended mass (like all my scholmates, it was the custom back then) and went to a Catholic nun’s school from age 10 to 17).
    I recall the first doubt raising in my mind as a nine-year-old when, in the preparation for our first Holy Communion, we had to ‘confess our sins’. At the end of the confession, the priest spoke the words “Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis. ” I recall thinking to myself. “What?? Mr. R., our priest , he says he can do that? No way! Impossible!” I had the distinct feeling some mumbo jumbo being performed there.

    As I grew older, my distance to religion grew even more, but then I had never really been that interested in religious questions. My belief was more unreflected, it still had Jesus somehow at the center as a ‘model of charity’, but that was about it.
    I had never given religion much attention because its impact on my soul had never been that strong.
    The serious thoughts only came many years later, after being challenged in a discussion by an atheist to check my premises.

    As for not trusting the scriptures:
    People’s ideas of a god always reflect the times they live in; hence it is no surpise that the biblical god of the Old Testament was modeled after the oriental cruel potentates they were familiar with.

  67. Xray says:

    Tim Wikiriwhi says:
    Sunday 15 April 2012 at 6:25 PM
    “You must have been a very weak Christian indeed.” (end quote)

    That’s correct. I have never been really interested in religion.
    I’m interested in epistemology, and have landed in discussin with theists mostly because of epistemological discussions I have had elsewhere. 🙂

    Tim Wikiriwhi says:
    Sunday 15 April 2012 at 6:25 PM
    “How can you doubt God’s existence?

    How can you smell the roses, and drink the wine… and not believe?
    Intuitively speaking Reality is Way Too Starry for Atheism!” (end quote)

    This kind of argumentation can easily be countered by e. g. looking at a shark mangling its prey. Life sustains itself by the killing of other life.
    Both beauty and cruelty exist side by side in existence.

    Richard says:
    Monday 16 April 2012 at 1:27 AM

    “Etsi Deus non daretur?” (end quote)
    The idea of a god is neither needed for questions of ethics nor for scientific research.

    Richard says:
    Monday 16 April 2012 at 1:27 AM
    “Your position about five years ago was fundamentally irrational. See here.”
    (end quote)

    That’s correct. I would never stand where I am now if I had not discarded the irrationality of my position back then.

  68. Richard says:

    I’m no atheist. I’m an agnostic.

    You’re an atheist agnostic.

    I’m a Christian agnostic.

    Christian agnosticism means being a Christian despite uncertainty about whether Christian teachings are true. It is not an oxymoron because the two terms refer to different things – agnosticism to knowledge, and Christianity to belief.

  69. Richard says:

    The word ‘agnostic’ comes from the Greek ‘a’ (meaning “without”) and ‘gnosis’ (meaning “knowledge”).

    An agnostic is simply someone who says, “I don’t know.”

    not really a position at all, but a refusal to take a position. That is because there either *is* or *is not* a God. One or the other. “I don’t know” is Lame because you are too Timid to make a real judgement call, and sit on the fence slagging those of us whom have the courage to make a choice baced upon the best Rationale we can muster.

    Is agnosticism lame?

    … but to be more precise… I don’t know.”

    Your Honesty is commendable

    Is agnosticism commendable?

    I don’t know.

  70. Tim says:

    Claiming to be ‘Anti-Dogmatic’ sounds very trendy!
    For all your philosophic Windage Xray, you cannot hide your character.

    Agnosticism is not a High form of Honesty but a Bogus cop out.
    Tell Jesus when you meet him that He did not make a big enough impact on Mankind to be believed! Tell God You honestly thought it was possible that blind forces created the universe and Mankind!
    Tell him Materialism made as much sence as The Bible!
    Tell him you chose to disbelieve in miracles simply because you had never directly witnessed one.
    *Bogus!*
    Agnosticism is an excuse. Agnosticism is a not-so- cunning Sophist attempt to sidestep moral culpability to God. What you call ‘Knowledge’ or ‘Evidence’ is Bogus! God could be standing right in front of you and yet you would deny knowing him by suggesting you might be hallucination or have gone Mad.
    This exposes agnosticism as a refusal to make a *moral stand* and equates to a denial of morality.
    You say Mankind *cannot know* if God exists? Bollocks!
    Tell that to the millions/ Billions of Humanbeings whom will Die for their belief in this Unknowable God!
    A simple faith can be wiser than a sophisticated doubt.
    To the Philosophers at Mars Hill St Paul said:
    “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”
    (Acts 17vs 23)
    We can Know God Xray. God Has revealed himself to Mankind via Jesus Christ and the scriptures.
    Thus Your Agnosticism is really a refusal to accept the Bible message.

    “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” J.C (Luke16vs31)

    Let me suggest to you that You actually did the right thing rejecting Catholicism.
    It is indeed Full of ‘Hocus-pocus’, yet it is a grave error to therefore assume all religion may be relegated to human imagination and manipulation.
    “Many shall come in my name and deceive many” J.C
    Your experience actually validates the Bible.
    You need to check your premises on all these accounts.

  71. Reed says:

    Q: How many agnostics does it take to change a light bulb.

    A: We can never know.

  72. Tim says:

    An agnostic ‘Xray’… thats kinda funny.

  73. Richard says:

    Xray, you asked, “Where is your evidence of God’s existence?”. The evidence is here. What more do you want?

    Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

    By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3)

  74. Richard says:

    A dualist Tim “double-u” … LOL!

  75. Haw Haw Richard. What is funnier is that Monists think they are their Bodies, thus they think Brains talk to brains… not as we Dualist believe that as Spirit beings we comunicate to other spirit beings whom indwell the merely phisical. Ie I communicate with *The real You*… not the Collection of Atoms which is your body.

  76. Furthermore I’d like to know which particular atoms make *You* Richard… or are you merely an arangement of particular types of Atoms? eg If I was to perfectly arange a duplicate set of Atoms, would I create a Duplicate Richard?
    Or how about I take your atoms/ Dna and fiddle about with them… could i turn you into a Pig? Would you cease to be a Human spirit worthy of Salvation?
    Now as you have grown up you have replaced ever cell in your body every 7 years. Are you still *You* Richard? ie the same person your mother gave birth to? Or are you a completely different being? Or Are you merely a string of DNA?

  77. Richard says:

    Did you watch the Ray Kurzweil video?

  78. I read your post but missed the vid. I have watched it now…. I am staggered that you buy into that fantasy Richard.

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