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Atheists Lose Wager

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26 Responses to Atheists Lose Wager

  1. Unfortunately I don’t actually understand the proof… Math is not my forte.

  2. This is probably a joke.

  3. Ummm…. That is clearly a parody. No wager was lost.

    I mean, that same site shows metal cheese grater toilet paper for a really clean wipe.

  4. Actually, I think Dawkins looks great in that get up. I would definitely buy a used car from a man who would wear a sports jacket over an “expelled” T-shirt. Can you picture him saying to WAD, “touche, you got me on that one, dude. Get me Ben Stein’s phone number, I’m ready to rock and roll.”

  5. The really interesting thing is the site is promoting Aaron Filler’s book which says the human body emerged 22 million years ago and apes are descendants of humans. Has anyone read this book?

  6. Dr. Finch, you are a baaad maaan!

  7. Dr. Finch concludes with the sage comment that “Gödel’s proof showed all formal mathematics was either inconsistent or incomplete. Why then should we trust a mathematical proof we know apriori is not true?”

    I thought this was kind of interesting and amusing. Finch seems to be claiming that any apparent metaphysical implications of Godel’s proof are invalid because the proof itself is self-defeating and therefore invalid. Such a phony argument, and Finch needs to take a refresher course in logical philosophy and mathematics. But what can you expect from a DDS.

    According to my brief review of this (not being a mathematician) Godel actually proved that any sufficiently complex logical system will by necessity contain truths that cannot be deduced from within that system (i.e. unsolvable problems). Another way of putting it is that any axiomatic system capable of supporting number theory can express the statement “This statement is not provable”), showing that such systems are inherently either incomplete or inconsistent. The metaphysical implications are obvious and huge, including that science can never explain everything.

  8. its a proof that god exists in the understanding- yet logically it IS a proof of god- as the wager says in legal terms- it just is not an abolute proof of god-

  9. simply because godel had a differt thoery that all mathematical systems were incomplete, has nothing to do wth his ontological proof of god. This profis simply just a logical mathematical proof like any logical mathametical proof – his incompleteness theory was a differt theory that said systems were always incomplete- thsi fits nicely with ay conception of god because as god is the greatest and theefore greater tan humans we would not be able to fully grasp his omnipotence.

    Godel was a genius. my cretique of his argumnet is that “how do we know that it is an ontological proof and not an epistemic proof- after all this postullates mans conception of god- but how can we know god? that is left out-

    I think his proof seems to hold up to a certian degree but it seems to need a little epistemic clearification- how can we know god to begin with? and how do we know that we know him?

  10. H’mm:

    It seems humour threads at UD tend to get a bit weighty.

    I think Magnan at 6 has aptly recognised a key point in Godel’s gneeral work:

    Godel actually proved that any sufficiently complex logical system will by necessity contain truths that cannot be deduced from within that system (i.e. unsolvable problems). Another way of putting it is that any axiomatic system capable of supporting number theory can express the statement “This statement is not provable”), showing that such systems are inherently either incomplete or inconsistent. The metaphysical implications are obvious and huge, including that science can never explain everything.

    But in fact, we can see that in any case we are forced to accept some things as first principles or first plausibles without firther proof, in any wolrdview. Take an abstract claim A. Why accept it? B. Why accept B? C. So, we face a chain A, B, C . . . which must either be an infinite regress [impossible for us finite, fallible thinkers] or else it terminates at F, the set of first plausibles and principles, AKA one’s Faith-Point. (On that, being willing to engage comparative difficulties across live options on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power allows one to escape the problem of cir5cularity.)

    So, we come to the point of reasonable faith, IMHCO, the best we can do as finite, fallible and too often ill-willed (thus all too evidently fallen).

    Now, back on Ontological proofs etc.

    I of course followed up Finchy’s stuff, and found an interesting string of discussions. Perhaps the most helpful is Christopher Small’s page sequence that starts here, which is also a bit of a backgrounder and tutorial on modal logic, and extension to the more familiar Boolean type logic, which explicitly distinguishes necessary [square-symbol at the Brites] and contingent [diamond-symbol] truths, and can re-express terms in the one mode with terms in the other. His section that shows how the resort to modality allows us to get away fromt he triviality of material implication on a counterfactual antecedent is very helpful.

    At a far simpler level, in my online reader for an intro to phil course, I presented an inference to best explanation form of the arguments to God [and against God].

    In so doing, I reversed the usual order of ontological and cosmological arguments, to show what the cumulative effect of the two is – very relevant to the underlying inference to design on teleology, the third argument below:

    B. Cosmological:

    (NB: This appears out of the classical order, as IMHO it makes A far more clear if this is done, by distinguishing and rationalising “contingent” and “necessary” beings. This is an example of a cumulative argument.):

    1. Some contingent beings exist. (E.g.: us, a tree or a fruit, an artifact, the planets and stars, etc. — anything that might not have existed, i.e. is caused.)

    2. Contingent beings do not exist by themselves – that is in part what “contingent” means – so they require a necessary being as their ultimate cause.

    3. If any contingent being exists, then a necessary being exists.
    ______________________

    4. Thus, there exists a necessary being, the ultimate cause of the existence of the many contingent beings in the cosmos.

    A. Ontological:

    1. If God exists, his existence is necessary. (NB link to B.4 just above.)

    2. If God does not exist, his existence is impossible.

    3. Either God exists or he does not exist.

    4. God’s existence is either necessary or impossible.

    5. But, God’s existence is possible (i.e. not impossible).
    ___________________

    6. So, God’s existence is necessary.

    C. Teleological/design:

    1. Highly complex objects with intricate, interacting parts are produced by intelligent designers, at least so far as we can determine from cases where we do directly know the cause.

    2. The universe (and/or a specific part of it[3]) is just such a highly complex object.

    3. Probably [note here the explicit inference to best explanation using probabilistic language], it is the result of intelligent design.

    4. But, the scope/complexity of the universe is such that only God could be its designer.
    __________________

    5. Probably, there is a God.

    Have fun for the Season!

    GEM of TKI

  11. Kairosfocus, but dont you think that his proof is merely a conceptual break down of our understanding of God?

    I see a dychotomy here between the ontological and the epistemic. How do we know God? Is it a gene or is it purly taught- is it a priori or is it just trans-physical (ie spiritual)?

    I think Godel’s proof is not actualy a pure ontlogical proof but “partly” an ontological proof mixed with part epistemic-

    But if you read about Godel he had a bizarr concept of philosophy and actual reality that sheds light on his idea of what the ontological and epistemic meant to him …

    I wonder kairos if you have read the book A World Without TIme by Yourgrau- this is a book about Godel and his relationship with einstein and how he used general theory of relativity to in his mind prove that time in the real sense or the absolute sense did not exist. For Godel time was a space- the distance between two events- but being that time is relative than it is not absolute or linier and so it is ideal. For Godel absolute time was merely ideal and the only real time relative to human beings was “intuitive time” or time that we feel- like ok its been one hour.. In this sense Godel was a mathematical realist – but not an sceptical realist in the sense of Wittenstein.

    Within Godel’s philosophy he was a Plontist. He belived that real numbers existed in objective reality- in this sense he was a german idealist in the same way as was Kant- Kant’s philosophy can be broken down into one sentence “all obtained knowledge begins and ends with expierence. The mathematical expierence that Godel had with real numbers and Libniz had with Monads and the sort is similar in my mind to Godel’s proof of God here. While Godel did not see this as an absolute proof he saw it as a philosophical proof- like the objective existence of real numbers Godel’s God is equally as real in his mind- in his expierence- but not real in say the same way that the empire state building is real. (this brings up the great metaphysical synthisis that Kant constructed in his Crtique of pure reason which is “is math objectivly real? Is it merely just a human mind tool or is its connection to reality actually finding real axioms inherent in nature? Kants answer was that math is absolutly real but incomplete in that the human understanding is not capable of grapsing all reality as it actually is. In this sense Kant predicted Godel’s incompleteness. But … if God, let us say, gave us math to see him in part and to survive, than is math is an absolutely real entity in nature and is Kants point about incompleteness ontolgically moot? This is where, (for me) the epistemic meets the ontological- how do we know what we can know about the metaphysical vs physical ground. Godel’s proof is surrounded by metaphysics yet it is ontological at least in part- so is his metaphysical premises proving actual existence of the intuition of God through logic or is he merely showing us what we can know about God?

    My question to you Karios is this- What seperates Godel’s proof of God from a proof of say Darwinian evolution? Now im not talking about in quality because i think god is more plausible than Darwinian evolution as well – but being that they both are in part pure constructs of the mind – and not “contained” logical constructs that can be fully deductivly proven or falsified by objective empirical “physical proof” nor via pure mathematics- where does the line between (what we can know about God (epistemic) and what is the actual “real” truth about God’s existence- drawn?

  12. I should make this a bit simpler– Is Godel’s proof possibly really just about what and how we can know the existence God- In that he is breaking down natural intuitions supported by premises into a logical construct? Or is his proof actually grasping somthing that is “real” and is he prooving the existence of anything at all accept what can be “known” about the concept of God?

    And if Godel’s God proof is partly objectivly real how real is it?

    For me this approach and question really gets at the heart of the mystery of the intuitive component of the concept of a Designer. Remeber is Dawkins and the like that say God is a delusion or just in the mind- things only seem designed- but what actual weight does that intution hold in objective reality?

  13. Hi Frost:

    First, indeed, Godel was a strange bird. So were several other brilliant physicists and Mathematicians, including not only Einstein or Boltzmann or Feynman [each in a different way, just look up the bios . . . !], but also Newton himself! (Please, please, no jokes on mad scientists ruling the world from their graves. . .)

    However, that does not undermine the force of the seminal work they did. We address the substance, not the man!

    On the ontological and cosmological and teleological arguments, I am not presenting them as proofs but as inferential frameworks that serve as worldview-level explanations: challenge: provide a better one and show why relative to factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. And, a self-refernetially incoherent system such as evolutionary materialism is an early non-starter on that!

    Yes, too, the epistemological and the ontological worlds intersect in them, as they do in all of our serious reasoning so soon as we seek to know the truth — that which says of what is, that it is; and ,of what is not, that it is not — as Ari used to say.

    Briefly put, on the technical point, IMHCO and with all due respect to a great philosopher, Kant was wrong, seriously wrong.

    Here is a brief overview of why the dichotomising between our world of experiences [phenomenal] and the world of reality [noumenal] will not and cannot work, Courtesy F. H. Bradley, in his Appearance and Reality, 2nd Edn:

    “The man who is ready to prove that metaphysical knowledge is impossible has . . . himself . . . perhaps unknowingly, entered the arena [of metaphysics] . . . . To say that reality is such that our knowledge cannot reach it, is to claim to know reality.” [(Clarendon Press, 1930), p.1.]

    (The reader may also wish to peruse Mortimer Adler’s essay on “Little Errors at the Beginning,” here, on the underlying pervasive problem of such errors in modern philosophising.)

    I take it up in part because this is an underlying error in one of the recent attenpts to undermine the inference to design, as is discussed here.

    Pardon not being more detailed, it is that time of the year . . . and I have geothermal energy on the mind just now, floating on a layer of genealogies from Matt 1, courtesy the Christmas Sunday sermon just past.

    Advent Season blessings to all

    GEM of TKI

  14. Godel was not only a strange bird but spent quite a few days in sanitarium.

    Nonetheless, i think he was one of the greats. Hwever – it appears that you agree with me about his proof that is in part both epistomological and ontological. Well, thanks great minds think alot. I think it is the nature of his proof focusing around the intuite understanding of God that makes the proof perhaps more descriptive than explanitory.

    I fail to see how Kant was wrong though. I have seen you post on Kant before, both time crticizing Kant’s view. I read his cretique of pure reason and wile I did not understand it all it seemed very coherent to me. Kant beleived in expierence- both the metaphysical and empirical. I thought his synthesis was quite useful though.
    So far I have found Kant to be the greatest mind of all of the Philosophers- not to undermine the individual contributions of each but as a general assessment of his total grasp on life, reason, knowledge and reality.

    It seems to me tha Godel is merely proving a “physicalized” version of the intuition of God. And given that he uses logic to critique this physical/objective version using terms like infinite and the like he is really only “packaging” God into the ontological but it is not the concepts of infinite that one is interested in it is the idea simply of god’s existence – existence and necessity- and this is the intuitive concept of God. Now what Is his proof dealing with “how” we can know god logically? Or is it about showing us that god actually does exist logically?

    Being that the meat of his proof is, in my best deduction, highly intuitional and intuitions are beyond proof- I think he is actually also formalizing an epistemic proof of God’s existence in that he shows how one can know God in objective reality if he already possesses the intuitive conception of God a priori.

    Which is fine by me- I like “proving” that we “can know” god’s existence objectively if we are only A. capable of experiencing him and B. willing to take that intuitive experience and formalize it logically.

    I must explain quickly why I feel god is so intuitional- I believe that if god does exist than the deaf, blind, mentally retarded, schizophrenic and all the like should also be able to experience god’s presence (therefore an intuitional conception) and are also given a spiritual choice to accept him in whatever way they can or to reject God an inner/intuitive manner (perhaps a spiritual manner). Therefore, the essence of God should come from the inside- this is in part my bias as being brought of Christian- nonetheless, even comparatively religiously speaking, I still feel that God is highly intuitive and a priori and therefore built into us intuitively.

    The question is– does this intuition count as ontological reality? Being that we don’t know if the mentally disabled person experiences god, how can we call God ontologically provable? And what if God means different things to different people? Then Gödel’s proof is only a proof to him. Could you have relative ontological proofs? Does this force us to live in an ontological relativistic universe? And how can ontology pack any punch if you can just say “well this is proof to me“?

    I think Gödel’s proof is a mixture of an answer to “what we can know about God objectively” and “does god objectively exist“? Its both epistemological and ontological. And it should be. Because God is good and fit enough for existence in actual reality yet God always requires the burden of faith. Yes we CAN know God- because God is both posittable and logically consistent. In essence he is provable but only through respecting God’s inherent presence in the soul (or intuition) then accepting God as objectively real and positing God’s existence into objective reality for logical scrutiny all the while maintaining one’s faith.

    Indeed, I think the metaphysical is heavily real. This is why methodological materialism is wrong and a philosophical disgrace.

  15. This is incredibly illuminating dialog, and begs the question: What does “GEM of TKI” mean?

    Gloppy Finch

  16. thanks, the first part is his initials – “GEM”- he doesnt use his real name any more– the second part means (T)he (K)airos (I)nitiative. The second part is a persona or somthing- I forget- Karios re-explain!

  17. Hi Gloppy & Frosty:

    (I couldn’t resist that! Happy Christmas to you both.)

    First, TKI is my consultancy persona, and GEM is indeed the set of my initials. It saves a bit on spamming and harassment I have encountered during participation in the ID debate in the course of developing my always linked [and an onward intended "GLI" cyber-course . . . looks like I may have one textbook now too, DOL!].

    Now on a few points:

    1] Strange birds . . .

    In science and math, many a strange bird has found a nest in that mustard-seed grown up to strength in Christendom’s fruitful soil known as Science; the world being much the better for them. And indeed, Godel was one of them. Nash of “A Beautiful Mind” was another who was featured in a recent film.

    As I indicated, several of the leading figures in my home discipline had some really strange aspects to their bios, B. actually becoming a suicide on the depressive side of the bipolar disorder; in part triggered by the intensity of rejection on his atomic statistical mechanical thought. Turing was a notorious case of another suicide, as was by the way the inventor of FM, Armstrong. Einstein’s second marriage, to his cousin, will give serious pause to anyone who reads an honest biography. Feynman was real, real strange too, as his marriages [and extracurricular activities down in Brazil . . .] will testify: the divorce-claim on non-performance due to too much calculus on the mind is a story in itself. Partly redeemed by the poignancy of the story of his first marriage, while he was working at Los Alamos.

    Sir Isaac, well, let’s just say he was in many respects as much the last of the Magi of old — very appropriate to this season! — as one of he first modern scientists.

    At my old school, it was a standing joke that the Math Dept maintained a suite reserved at Ward 21, the psychiatric ward of our attached teaching hospital. The Physics Dept staff were pretty okay, especially the — sadly, recently broken — core trio: C, C and L. (Those who know will instantly know who I am speaking of. C no 2 is the Dept’s resident sense of humour, and (until recently, on barber’s orders) source for ruler-straight hairs for hygrometers!)

    But on more serious points . . .

    2] it appears that you agree with me about his proof that is in part both epistomological and ontological

    What I have argued is that so soon as we claim that we have well-warranted, credibly true beliefs about the real world — i.e so soon as we claim (and thus report) knowledge — we are implying and yea even asserting to be in contact with the real world.

    For, as Ari put it ever so well, truth . . . says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not. [Metaphysics, 1011b25]

    3] I think it is the nature of his proof focusing around the intuite understanding of God that makes the proof perhaps more descriptive than explanitory

    The argument does in part serve as an elucidation of what we mean by claiming that there exists a God; i.e it treaches us something about God. (BTW, I find that Small’s further discussion here, is also very illuminating. Consider this one a Christmas gift to the UD forum — paper bread, to feed the hunger in the head)

    But, in context, the argument is more than that, it is asserting that there is adequate warrant relative to reasonable axioms, for accepting the actuality of the entity so described. This of course opens up the classic rhetorical or philosophical move: rejecting the unpalatable consequent to challenge the asserted start-point givens that constitute the antecedent in the implication.

    One may indeed do that if one wills, but at a price; too often, at the cost of one’s intellectual virtue, i.e substitution of the reality of en-darkenment for the claimed lofty enlightenment!

    3] I fail to see how Kant was wrong . . .

    My problem is as noted above: the yawning gap between Kant’s [and esp. those who followed him's] the world as WE — subjectively — experience it, and the world as it — objectively or even actually — is. (And, yes, Kant’s work is reflected in even this phrasing — why he is indeed one of the greats. But, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and Aquinas — to name just a few — are IMHCO far greater yet!)

    To see where I am pointing, consider the point that Josiah Royce (and after him, Elton Trueblood) underscored: error exists. This is a subjective experience, but equally an objective and undeniably true reality. Indeed, to try to deny it is to instantiate it, and thus to affirm it.

    This truth credibly — and , humblingly, even painfully — bridges the subjective and the real. For, here we have a knowable, albeit humbling truth. One that directly implies that we can know truth but are prone to error, so we should be critically aware and humbly open-minded.

    Adler adds important points, ironically hinging on the same “reject the consequent” issue. Excerpting desperately from his “Little errors at the beginning”:

    When you disagree with a philosopher’s conclusions, regard them as untenable, or find them repugnant to common sense, go back to his starting point and see if he has made a little error in the beginning. A striking example of the failure to follow this rule, and one with disastrous consequences for philosophy in the last 150 years, is to be found in Kant’s response to Hume. Hume’s skeptical conclusions and Hume’s phenomenalism were unacceptable to Kant, even though they awoke him from his own dogmatic slumbers. But instead of looking for the little errors in the beginning that were made by Hume and dismissing, as unfounded, the Humean doctrines and conclusions that he found unacceptable, Kant felt it necessary to construct a vast piece of philosophical machinery, designed by him to produce conclusions of an opposite tenor.

    The intricacy of the apparatus and the ingenuity of the design cannot help but evoke admiration, even from those who are suspicious of the sanity of the whole enterprise and who find it necessary to reject Kant’s doctrines and conclusions as well as Hume’s. Though they are opposite in tenor, they do not help us to get at the truth, which can only be found by correcting Hume’s little errors in the beginning and making a fresh start from correct premises that lead to conclusions that are neither Hume’s nor Kant’s.

    What I have just said about Kant in relation to Hume applies also to the whole tradition of British empirical philosophy following Locke and Hume. All of the philosophical puzzlements, paradoxes, and pseudo-problems that linguistic and analytical philosophy and therapeutic positivism have tried to eliminate, by the invention of philosophical devices designed for that purpose, would never have arisen in the first place if the little errors in the beginning made by Locke and Hume had been explicitly rejected instead of going unnoticed . . . .

    synthetic judgments are, for Kant, expressed by propositions in which the predicates lie entirely outside the meaning of the subjects as defined. The distinction between analytic and synthetic judgments being, for Kant, exhaustive, he is then confronted by the following dilemma: either all synthetic judgments are a posteriori, requiring the support of evidence or reasons that can be stated in other propositions; or some are a priori and have certitude in and of themselves.

    I need not recount in detail all the steps in the controversy about synthetic judgments a priori which have eventuated in the currently prevailing opinion that none exist, and that the only tenable distinction is between verbal truths or mere tautologies (Locke’s two types of trifling propositions and Kant’s analytic judgments), on the one hand, and truths about matters or fact or real existence (Locke’s instructive propositions and Kant’s synthetic judgments a posteriori), on the other. This is accompanied by the now generally accepted assertion that the latter are always conclusions that must be supported by evidence and reasoning. They cannot, therefore, have incorrigible certitude, because the supporting propositions are always themselves synthetic and need similar support. Hence, if an infinite regress is to be avoided, any argument for the truth of a synthetic proposition must either rest ultimately on postulates, which can always be denied, or at least on evidence and reasons that are intrinsically questionable . . . .

    The little error in the beginning, made by Locke and Leibniz, perpetuated by Kant, and leading to the repudiation of any non-verbal or non-tautological truth having incorrigible certitude, consists in starting with a dichotomy instead of a trichotomy — a twofold instead of a threefold distinction of types of truth. In addition to merely verbal statements which, as tautologies, are uninstructive and need no support beyond the rules of language, and in addition to instructive statements which need support and certification, either from experience or by reasoning, there is a third class of statements which are non-tautological or instructive, on the one hand, and are also indemonstrable or self-evidently true, on the other. These are the statements that Euclid called “common notions,” that Aristotle called “axioms” or “first principles,” and that mediaeval thinkers called “propositions per se nota.”

    One example will suffice to make this clear — the axiom or selfevident truth that a finite whole is greater than any of its parts. This proposition states our understanding of the relation between a finite whole and its parts. It is not a statement about the word “whole” or the word “part” but rather about our understanding of wholes and parts and their relation . . . .

    The contemporary denial that there are any indisputable statements which are not merely verbal or tautological, together with the contemporary assertion that all non-tautological statements require extrinsic support or certification and that none has incorrigible certitude, is therefore falsified by the existence of a third type of statement, exemplified by the axiom or self-evident truth that a finite whole is greater than any of its parts, or that a part is less than the finite whole to which it belongs. It could as readily be exemplified by the self-evident truth that the good is the desirable, or that the desirable is the good — a statement that is known to be true entirely from an understanding of its terms, both of which are indefinables. One cannot say what the good is except by reference to desire, or what desire is except by reference to the good. The understanding of either involves the understanding of the other, and the understanding of both, each in relation to the other, is expressed in a proposition per se nota, i.e., self-evident or known to be true as soon as its terms are understood.

    Such propositions are neither analytic nor synthetic in the modern sense of that dichotomy; for the predicate is neither contained in the definition of the subject, nor does it lie entirely outside the meaning of the subject. Axioms or self-evident truths are, furthermore, truths about objects understood, objects that can have instantiation in reality, and so they are not merely verbal. They are not a priori because they are based on experience, as all our knowledge and understanding is; yet they are not empirical or a posteriori in the sense that they can be falsified by experience or require empirical investigation for their confirmation. The little error in the beginning, which consists in a non-exhaustive dichotomy mistakenly regarded as exhaustive, is corrected when we substitute for it a trichotomy that distinguishes (i) merely verbal tautologies, (ii) statements of fact that require empirical support and can be empirically falsified, (iii) axiomatic statements, expressing indemonstrable truths of understanding which, while based upon experience, do not require empirical support and cannot be empirically falsified.[6]

    In short, we are not shut up to either of two options, both equally unacceptable for our purposes, my dear Gen. Napoleon!

    For, our faith-points can have in them axiomatic or self-evident statements that are intuitively and undeniably known to be true, illuminative each of the other, rejected only on pain of direct reduction to absurdities and/or by exerting selective hyperskepticism, and exemplifiable by pointing to — often literally, sometimes metaphorically — sufficient examples to be clear.

    4] he [Godel] is really only “packaging” God into the ontological but it is not the concepts of infinite that one is interested in it is the idea simply of god’s existence – existence and necessity- and this is the intuitive concept of God. Now what Is his proof dealing with “how” we can know god logically? Or is it about showing us that god actually does exist logically?

    First, as Greek-taught Westerners who ask about such things, it is a proper and even key part of our living encounter with God, that we come to understand that he is the Necessary Being, the ground of our existence as contingent, created beings. Such is reflected in key NT texts such as Jn 1:1 – 14, Ac 17:16 ff, Rom 1:19 ff, Col 1:15 – 20, Heb 1:1 – 3.

    That God credibly is, is a first step to accepting that we can encounter him experientially, not just have hallucinations about him. [You may enjoy my blog post "for the Caribbean reader" on this, , on the Lucy Pevensie School of Epistemology!]

    5] I believe that if god does exist than the deaf, blind, mentally retarded, schizophrenic and all the like should also be able to experience god’s presence (therefore an intuitional conception) and are also given a spiritual choice to accept him in whatever way they can or to reject God an inner/intuitive manner (perhaps a spiritual manner).

    In fact, many disabled and challenged people do know about and even in some cases inter-personally know God.

    So do millions of normally able people, across many centuries and cultures. (You may find Don Richardson’s Eternity in Their Hearts an interesting read.)

    Encounter with God is of a different order from credibly warranting his existence to a culture taught to be skeptical and in many cases selectively hyper-skeptical. But, that wanders far from the focus of this blog.

    My intent on taking up the issue embedded in the Godel argument, is to look a bit at the logic involved, which is very interesting — modality and what it does to propositional calculus and all that, across S4 and S5, etc.

    Also, to show t5he cumulative impact of three calssic inferences to God that sert a context in which:

    –> It is credible that our world of contingent objects demands a necessary being as its root

    –> On examining candidates for such a being, we see the point that a God beyond privation is a credible candidate, especially of course at cosmogenetic levels.

    –> On examining the cosmos and key features on the nanotech of life, the related issues of origin and biodiviersity at body plan lecvel and the fine tuned organised complexity of the physics of the cosmos to sustain such life, we see that the issue of purposeful design and empirical evidence pointing to such are serious issues.

    –> Again, going beyond the scientifically interesting issue of inference to agency on empirical evidence,at wordlviews level we see that God is a serious candidate for explaining the issues pointed to. But this is phil not sci.

    –> On ward, as persons, we may be interested in encounter with God. And, as theologians, we may be intersted in understanding what such encounter is about.

    6] methodological materialism is wrong and a philosophical disgrace

    Not least, because it selectively hyperskeptically begs the worldview question, then disguises it as being the historically warranted “definition” of science.

    GEM of TKI

  18. Thanks for the explanation!

    GF of TBDO

  19. Ok, I would first of all like to say that I fully respect your preference of Aristotle and Plato and the rest over Kant as the greatest minds. I have a neurologist who is 89 years old and lives up the road. He lived in Austria during WW2 and had to flea because of the Nazis. He has worked with John’s Hopkins university here in Baltimore Maryland. He gave me a book recently on Aristotle after I one day engaged him in a very light philosophical discussion where I told him that I loved Kant- he said he was not really a Kantian and was much more partial to Aristotle.

    Now I judge a philosopher not by his genius in his ability to generate novel information or invent things but by his ability to take all of the known data and construct it into a single mode of thought (as in the critique of pure reason) that is skeptical enough of all claims to instill the learner with the critical aspect of understanding but at the same time allow the mind liberation enough to engage all of the different modes of thought and give them their fair due. Kant for me does this by limiting his philosophy to one concept -“experience.” Experience to Kant was the ultimate crux of philosophy and reason. It was the source of all knowledge. Rather- it was inherent knowing as in a priori or it was gathered knowledge from direct experience in the form of the a posteriori. Kant gave metaphysics its due but insisted that all things break down in the end and under close examination to the reality of “experience”.

    I think that Kant gives transcendentalism its greatest critique and explains the nature of things like mathematics as well or better than anyone. He notes that math is absolutely real but that it is only as good as the experience that it is based on. For example, you say 2 + 2 = 4. Well if you count out real physical things yourself and witness the addition empirically than you have a direct and full experience of the math and it is highly valuable knowledge. But if you postulate like say what a galaxy looks like 100 million light years away without being able to see it – and your math is based upon extrapolation from your end of the galaxy- Kant says that this math is not as valuable a form of knowledge because even if you are convinced that you are right it must be experienced directly- and for Kant the empirical was the purest universal form of experience. We all see things differently but if we are to have anything in common at least we all see.

    It was Aristotle however who said that he need not ever have to practice surgery on a patient to be able to perform it, if he had mastered the knowledge and theory of how to perform surgery from a source (say a book or watching a surgeon). I find Kant’s demand for “proof” and “accuracy” to bring the level of philosophy to a greater science. Kant was very tight in his logic (I think the tightest) and he wanted to be as accurate as possible without having to weigh the realm of “all possibilities” against “what man knows for sure” (or almost for sure) BASED UPON HIS DIRECT EXPIERENCE. This to me was the formal symmetry and pure organization that made his philosophy so appealing and down to earth. I find that through Kant’s skepticism I am better fit to question the world and achieve knowledge than by reading everything and having to make value judgments based upon the realm of all possible experiences. His books are difficult to read and you have to read them with a powerful almost obsessive inspiration to grasp his biases- ( yes all philosophers have bias though I find Kant’s biases to be the most appropriate)

    Now with that said I do think that Kant fails to elaborate on the extent to which the mind can go in the sphere of all possible experience. Kant as a youngster wanted to be a priest or there about and later in life discovered his ability to write brilliant well constructed philosophy. But I think his skepticism does sell him short on issues of God. In the critique of pure reason he says that there can be NO EVIDENCE FOR OR AGAINST GOD‘S EXISTENCE- that god only existed in “the belief” or intuition- but in pure reason there could exist no purely logical connection between objective evidence and the intuition or conception of God. And this is the crux of his dichotomy between physicalism and meta-physics (the purpose of the critique of pure reason) that there are things that are only in one domain or the other – while both intersect as objective experience and knowledge there are issues (I.e. God or the concepts of infinite or space etc) that cannot be fully reconciled by the two domains. He left these phenomena to be understood simply as ideas- that which exists only in speculation of possible objective reality but non-reconcilable by meta physics and physics. For he through no such data supporting or refuting the actual existence of these ideas could exist.

    I agree with you on this Kairos that Kant was a little too skeptical when it came to substantiating the objective reality of transcendental experiences. I too am skeptical of Kant’s skepticism (so to speak) when dealing with the issues of transcendence yet, I find his skepticism incredibly useful. He entertained the ideas of transcendentalism but in the end he left it in the sphere of objective reality that only exists as speculation or as ideas- that exist only inside of the mind – built into the intuition and that it must be left unanswered.

    In part I think he is right – in that there can be no proof of God- but I would say that there can be real “evidence” for God- for Kant this would be a break down in reason to suggest that evidence could exist for something that he felt a priori there could never be proof of. Here he is wrong because the nature of the intuition is essentially equally as inductive as the external experience and therefore there could in principal be no proof for anything – leaving his point speculative and moot, IMO.

    As you point out all experience and therefore all knowledge, is inductive – in this sense the concept of evidence “pointing” in a given direction towards a given concept- rather provable or not – is ultimately possible even in a world where absolutes exists beyond the grasp or human reason. To say that all things are inductive is also in a way to say that al things “ARE.” As in that all things while different in quality – at least do exist – both the internal and external experience.

    But remember this — Einstein said that Kant was his favorite and he read the critique of pure reason at age 14! Did him a lot of god id say. I read it at 18 and loved it. I recommend it to everyone with a true interest in philosophy-

    In my mind Kant’s skepticism predates and even “predicts” Gödel’s discovery of “incompleteness” in the failure of mathematical axioms to describe objective and complete reality-

    HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! AND TRY AND STAY OUT OF THE SANITARIUM!

  20. Here is an excellent article on the subject of Godel – einstein and philosophy written by David Berlinski who’s articles I always enjoy.

    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....38;id=2444

  21. Frost:

    I know that you are a serious thinker and I also know that you are flexible enough to take other perspectives into account. May I offer you my account of a subject on which kairosfocus has already written well? [KANT AND THE DESIGN INFERENCE]

    Anti-ID militants have only a few intellectual objections to design inference. One of them that they use when all else fails is the false notion that no real inference is taking place because we are presupposing the very thing that we trying to arrive at—an inference to the best explanation.. As it turns out, this objection does not hold up. But the larger question is, where does this objection come from? Where did they get the idea that inference begins with a presupposition and is therefore a kind of tautology? I submit to you that this error proceeds from the Hume/Kant error which holds that mental images do not reflect their corresponding realities in the world outside the mind. Both Hume and Kant caused all of western world to question whether our internal logic corresponded to nature’s logic? Allowing for our capacity to err and misinterpret, the bottom line is that the two realms are indeed proportional and connected. We have rational minds, we live in a rational universe, and there is a correspondence between the two. That is no coincidence; it was set up that way..

    Modern philosophers and scientists continue to labor under the misconception that there is an epistemological break between us and our world, but, as Reid showed centuries ago, and as Mortimer Adler taught us in the twentieth century, we can be reasonably confident that our senses are not lying to us about “essences” (what a thing is ) in nature even though the material manifestations continue to be a mystery to us at some level. [Revisit kariosfocus’ extended quote from Adler at #17 [part 3] (especially the section on self-evident truths, relationship between parts and the whole etc.).

    The point is, we are not assuming or presupposing the thing we are drawing inferences about; we are really drawing inferences. But the unwarranted skepticism visited on us by Kant, (because he missed Hume’s error) questions the minds ability to do that very thing that we are trying to accomplish—apprehend (not comprehend) design in nature

    Keep in mind that, for Kant, universals are categorized, classified, and finalized in the mind. That means that “design” can never be PERCEIVED it can only be CONCEIVED. This kind of skepticism is as destructive as it is false. If Kant had not disavowed the reality of the design in the mind, Darwin would never have dared to deny the reality of design in nature. Today, when neo-Darwinists claim that design is an illusion, they are extending Kant’s error. This is why they insist that we are presupposing design rather than drawing an inference. How can we draw an inference about design from nature if our minds can do nothing more than fabricate its image?

    This is why, as advocates for intelligent design, we cannot simply argue for the science, we must always be sensitive to the necessary philosophical underpinnings that make the design inference possible. We must go all the way back to the “little error” in the beginning and correct it. Then, we must abandon all forms of “nominalism” and “conceptualism.” Having jettisoned of all this intellectual baggage, we can return to the realism of Aquinas, the only sane approach to epistemology.

  22. StephenB (on Frost):

    Excellent summary of the core issue.

    It deserves to be scooped out, saved off and highlighted!

    So:

    Anti-ID militants have only a few intellectual objections to design inference. One of them that they use when all else fails is the false notion that no real inference is taking place because we are presupposing the very thing that we trying to arrive at—an inference to the best explanation. As it turns out, this objection does not hold up. But the larger question is, where does this objection come from? Where did they get the idea that inference begins with a presupposition and is therefore a kind of tautology? I submit to you that this error proceeds from the Hume/Kant error which holds that mental images do not reflect their corresponding realities in the world outside the mind. Both Hume and Kant caused all of western world to question whether our internal logic corresponded to nature’s logic? Allowing for our capacity to err and misinterpret, the bottom line is that the two realms are indeed proportional and connected. We have rational minds, we live in a rational universe, and there is a correspondence between the two. That is no coincidence; it was set up that way.

    Modern philosophers and scientists continue to labor under the misconception that there is an epistemological break between us and our world, but, as Reid showed centuries ago, and as Mortimer Adler taught us in the twentieth century, we can be reasonably confident that our senses are not lying to us about “essences” (what a thing is ) in nature even though the material manifestations continue to be a mystery to us at some level . . . .

    This is why, as advocates for intelligent design, we cannot simply argue for the science, we must always be sensitive to the necessary philosophical underpinnings that make the design inference possible. We must go all the way back to the “little error” in the beginning and correct it.

    Great stuff!

    And of course Aquinas was and is one of the very first rank of the greatest of the great. Right up there with that old Athenian trio!

    (I also add in a certain bald-headed famously journeying Jew from Cilicia, the real but often resented father of that synthesis of the heritage of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome that has formed Western Civilisation as we know it. Cf Acts 17 and Rom 1 – 3 then 13:1 – 10 to see what I mean. And of course Augustine of Hippo. And others, but let us pause for now.)

    Happy New Year to all

    GEM of TKI

  23. PS: Quick excerpts on Aquinas on epistemology, courtesy Wiki [reasonable intro level job on this]:

    Aquinas believed “that for the knowledge of any truth whatsoever man needs Divine help, that the intellect may be moved by God to its act.” However, he believed that human beings have the natural capacity to know many things without special divine revelation, even though such revelation occurs from time to time, “especially in regard to [topics of] faith.”[7] Aquinas was also an Aristotelian and an empiricist. He substantially influenced these two streams of Western thought . . . .

    Aquinas believed that truth is known through reason (natural revelation) and faith (supernatural revelation). Supernatural revelation is revealed through the prophets, Holy Scripture, and the Magisterium, the sum of which is called “tradition”. Natural revelation is the truth available to all people through their human nature; certain truths all men can attain from correct human reasoning. For example, he felt this applied to rational proofs for the existence of God . . . . Special revelation (faith) and natural revelation (reason) are complementary rather than contradictory in nature, for they pertain to the same unity: truth . . . .

    An important element in Aquinas’s philosophy is his theory of analogy. Aquinas noted three forms of descriptive language: univocal, analogical, and equivocal.[8]

    * Univocality is the use of a descriptor in the same sense when applied to two objects.

    * Analogy, Aquinas maintained, occurs when a descriptor changes some but not all of its meaning. Analogy is necessary when talking about God, for some of the aspects of the divine nature are hidden (Deus absconditus) and others revealed (Deus revelatus) to finite human minds. In Aquinas’s mind, we can know about God through his creation (general revelation), but only in an analogous manner. We can speak of God’s goodness only by understanding that goodness as applied to humans is similar to, but not identical with, the goodness of God.[9]

    * Equivocation is the complete change in meaning of the descriptor and is an informal fallacy.

    Useful work, and a useful warning on how we can go astray in using language inappropriately. [A nice one pager tabular survey of a good slice of Aquinas' work is here. One for my vaults.]

    Of course, the analytical focus on the facets, nature and grace can become a doorway to what Francis Schaeffer called “the line of despair” by which men exert selective hyperskepticism and end up losing sight first of revelatory encounter with God and the impact of its substance, then of rationality and all meaning, across centuries of increasing rebellion against God.

    And now many doubt that hey have minds and doubt that they act as agents who can cause things to happen — even though this is the most intimate and direct experience we have as observers of and actors into the external, objective world!

    Well did Paul of Tarsus warn us of the consequences of turning one’s back on the voice of God in revelation and nature, 2,000 years ago:

    RO 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. [Locke makes crucial use of this precise text and its cognates in his work on human understanding . . . starting from Section 5 of the introduction.]

    RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. [Some would observe, Then: in temples, Now: in textbooks, on TVs and in museums and science journals; but to the same effect..] . . . .

    RO 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity . . . .

    H’mm, let’s bring Locke in intro to his essay on human understanding section 5 on board on the key issue too:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2, Ac 17, etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.

    Not exactly what we most likely got in classes or picked up in books, mags, general internet stuff, etc, nuh?

    Worth a thought or two as we prepare for a pivotal election year in the USA. (Y’all sneeze and we-all’ze gets pneumonia!!!]

    GEM of TKI

  24. Kairosfocus: Exellent points on #23

    —–You wrote, “And now many doubt that hey have minds and doubt that they act as agents who can cause things to happen — even though this is the most intimate and direct experience we have as observers of and actors into the external, objective world!”

    Neo-Thomist Jacques Maritain confirms your point about “hyperskepticism:”

    “[I]t would obviously be waste of breath to attempt to demonstrate [the reliability reason and the intellect] to them. For every demonstration rests on some previously admitted certainty, and it is their very profession to admit of none. … When they say that they do not know whether any proposition is true, either they know that this proposition at any rate is true, in which case they contradict themselves, or they do not know whether it is true, in which case they are either saying nothing whatever, or do not know what they say. The sole philosophy open to those who doubt the possibility of truth is absolute silence – even mental. That is to say, as Aristotle points out, such men must make themselves vegetables. No doubt reason often errs, especially in the highest matters, and, as Cicero said long ago, there is no nonsense in the world which has not found some philosopher to maintain it, so difficult is it to attain truth. But it is the error of cowards to mistake a difficulty for an impossibility.”

    ——Again, you wrote, “Of course, the analytical focus on the facets, nature and grace can become a doorway to what Francis Schaeffer called “the line of despair” by which men exert selective hyperskepticism and end up losing sight first of revelatory encounter with God and the impact of its substance, then of rationality and all meaning, across centuries of increasing rebellion against God.”

    This is a vitally important point! As Schaeffer so often points out, that line of despair separates things that ought to have been maintained as unified realities (grace/nature, form/matter, cause/effect, faith/reason etc.) leaving the Western mind in a state of intellectual schizophrenia. He dramatizes and describes this condition in ways that are very accessible to the average reader, utilizing his special gift for making complex matters as simple as possible.

    (It is unfortunate that Schaeffer misinterpreted Aquinas “distinction” between nature and grace as a “separation” of nature and grace. Perhaps if he had not made this “little error in the beginning,” he would not have mistakenly held Aquinas partly responsible for the break. Still, Schaeffer’s diagnosis of the final result is unassailable.)

  25. Q:

    Quick follow up: first, I point out that indeterminacy on position-momentum or energy-time is NOT freedom of the will, which is a condition of successful moral and intellectual thought.

    Second, one is far more directly aware of one’s cognition and conscience than one is of any scientific finding, which one accesses through these and on the grounds of their general reliability.

    Thus, if a claimed “scientific” view of the world asserts that chance + necessity of material forces [NB: which BTW INCLUDES quantum states and associated indeterminacies] drive neural network activity thence the epiphenomenon of the mind, a la Crick, then it is self-refuting.

    And then one looks and lo, the claimed scientific theories are in fact plainly and objectively riddled with a priori philosophical, wordview commitments that filter and indeed cherry-pick which facts to attend to and which to dismiss. [Cf the parallel thread on Darwin for some side-lights.]

    Under such circumstance, one is perfectly in order to look at the reductio ad absurdum, and reject the a priori commitments that led up to it, namely evolutionary materialism. (In short, observe the contrast between my actual premises and the ones that you seemed to think I had.)

    On the issue at stake on the explanatory filter, I have simply noted that we do observe chance, necessity and agency and their diverse and distinguishable empirical traces:

    1 –> I then noted how the filter is reliable where we can check it.

    2 –> I see that it has good roots in the statistical principles of systems with large configuration spaces.

    3 –> I see no good reason to brush the filter aside simply because it yields results objectionable to a theory that is already rooted in dubious a priori commitments.

    4 –> I know agents exist today far more certainly than I can claim to know that they emerged spontaneously through chance and necessity in the primordial past — a claimed process which I know is dubious on independent grounds as already described.

    5 –> Above all, I have no good reason to assume or assert that agents were not possibly present at the origin of life, or of body-plan level biodiversity.

    6 –> I then see the organised complexity manifest in the FSCI required, which I know empirically to be a good sign of agency.

    7 –> I therefore infer that OOL and body plan level biodiversity trace to agency, on inference to best, empirically anchored explanation — the way science infers.

    8 –> Extending to cosmogenesis, where I see a fine-tuned organised complexity in the physics of a life-facilitating observed cosmos, I see good empirically anchored reason to infer that the cosmos is also designed.

    9 –> Designs imply designers, and the overall cluster of design inferences is consistent with the concept of a cosmogentic desingner who intended to implement a cosmos for life and put life in it, however s/he may have done so.

    10 –> but observe, the direction of inference is from known properties of chance, necessity and agency, to distinguishing signs and a filter that reliably separates. Thence, on cases of interest individually we see well-warranted inferences to design. Thus, we start from design and build to designer, only refusing to a priori rule out the possibility of agency before inspecting evidence.

    11 –> On the principle of simplicity, when we see the cluster of relevant designs, it is reasonable to infer that the designs fit into a common, coherently purposeful framework.

    12 –> Going beyond the domain of Science proper, but still in the spirit of seeking empirically anchored truth on worldviews, it seems reasonable to see that this inference is compatible in broad terms with the traditional view that science thinks God’s thoughts after him. And since that is precisely how some of the greatest of all scientists thought and worked, I have no problem thinking and working like that as a scientist.

    So, going back to the scientific inferences proper, I conclude that on well-known principles of scientific inference, and on evidence that is otherwise inexplicable, but which I know agent action routinely generates, that agents are the well-warranted explanation for these phenomena.

    Here I stand, and in a nutshell, why.

    Others are free to differ, but they are not free to then avert the implications of the alternatives they assert or imply.

    And, as the above thread abundantly shows, the alternatives are vastly inferior once their difficulties are brought out on a level playing field.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Schaeffer was more nuanced than you suggest. The dichotomy reading is one way to understand Aquinas and the consequences of his case [i.e he left a rhetorical opening that was exploited by others coming after him] — as Newton [cf his General Scholium] would have been appalled to see his thoughts used to support mechanistic atheistical systems such as positivism. Similarly, if I didn’t see it for myself, I could not believe how Einstein’s theory of relativity has often been used to argue to relativism! [Think about the invariant postulates in the theory!]

  26. H’mm: I can’t even untangle why I did this cross-threading. Sorry!

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