Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Many scientists buy dualism

The scientific study of consciousness indicates
that there is an intimate relationship between
mind and brain.1 However, surveys of
highly educated samples have suggested that
“dualistic” attitudes toward the mind–brain relationship
remain very common.2 These are
revealed, for example, by religious beliefs that
the mind or soul is separable from the body, or
by the conviction that some spiritual part of us
can survive after death. Although some might
expect that nowadays the existence of the supernatural
would be denied by scientists, it has
been reported that about 40% of this population
believe in a personal God or in life after
death, a similar figure to that obtained almost
a hundred years ago.3

Here. 

African economist wants us to stop helping Africa

Here. 

A link to an old reply of mine to Carrier

Here. 

Evidence for God?

How about this healing story?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why atheist philosophers don't do philosophy of religion: it's simpler than most people think

The reason why most atheist philosophers don't do philosophy of religion is a lot simpler than most of the explanations I have been seeing. A theistic philosopher is developing an understand of what they do believe, so they are going to devote their attention to it. An atheist philosopher is engaged in explaining why he or she doesn't believe something. The truth about reality, as the atheist sees it, has to be developed in some other way. Denial of the existence of God doesn't tell us anything about what does exist, it only indicates what does not exist. Atheists can be strongly naturalistic like Dennett, or very non-naturalistic like Nagel. In general people spend more time on what they think is true than on what they think isn't, unless they think there's a mind virus out there they think they can get rid of. But most atheist philosophers that I have encountered don't think this. They may not think someone like Plantinga is right, but they are happy to see his point of view competently represented. Here's an excellent example (though I realize many atheists thinks Nagel is a traitor).


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Putting words into a person's mouth

In this post, a student drops a class by a philosophy instructor who identifies himself as a theist, but says that God can neither be proven or disproven. The student assumes that the teacher was claiming that it follows from the fact that he believes in God but thinks it unprovable, that he believes in God because he considers the negative to be unprovable. But he said no such thing, or at least is not reported as saying any such thing. 

I wrote in response:

Let's see, the professor believes A) that God exists, and B) one cannot either prove or disprove that God exists. He never said B therefore A, that I can see.
I take it that the professor does not accept strong rationalism, which is defined as follows:
"Lets start on one end of the spectrum, with strong rationalism. It proposes that “in order for a religious belief system to be properly and rationally accepted, it must be possible to prove that the belief system is true.” By ‘prove’ it is meant that it is possible to show that a belief is true, in a way that is convincing to any intelligent person. "
But do we expect this level of proof with respect to other beliefs? It seems to me that I can be reasonable in thinking that a lot of things are true even if not everyone ought to believe it. I think that Hillary Clinton is more likely than not to win the 2016 Democratic nomination for President, but if someone assessed the evidence differently, I wouldn't necessarily think they were being irrational. 

Actually the definition of strong rationalism should be altered a little, because what it actually says is that it ought to be convincing to all intelligent persons. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Judicial Activism

It is interesting that when the SCOTUS came up with things like Roe. v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona, conservatives complained about judicial activism. Now with Citizens United, the liberals are complaining about it. 

Thom Hartmann, a liberal talk show host, wants to get rid of judicial review completely.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Should torture killers be tortured? Or are we coddling murderers?

Does a person who tortures someone to death deserve to be tortured to death? If not, then the killer gets something he denied his victim, a painless death?

Am I a supernaturalist?

Without a good definition of the supernatural it's going to be awfully difficult to prove any cases. In fact, I just say I believe in God et al., but depending on how you define the supernatural, I am not sure I believe that supernatural entities exist. I can imagine saying that God, angels, and souls all exist, but that science just hasn't developed enough to analyze and predict the activities of these entities. So they are supernatural from the standpoint of present science, but then so are lots of things that science will someday discover. But since we don't know what "ultimate completed future science" will include we can't say for sure whether these entities are natural or supernatural. 

If science has to screen certain entities out because they are by definition beyond the competence of science to analyze, then it is a boring result that science hasn't found evidence for them. Science, on that view, can't either support of deny their existence. On the other hand, if it is within the competence of science to show that these entities do not exist (as in Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a World Without Design), then if someone has offers evidence for something like God, then it can't be thrown out of court a la Judge Jones because science has to stick to the natural and not the supernatural. 

As the Statler Brothers say, you can't have your Kate and Edith too. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Notes on the Courtier's Reply

In response to the Skeptic Zone here.

The Courtier's Reply is a term that has come to be used for the response to the
Courtier's Reply, and so you are right to say that it might be more proper to call it the Courtier's Reply Reply, but that gets awkward to say.


Here is the problem. Sure, I don't have to understand the difference between, let's say, Sunni and Shiite Islam if my disagreement with Islam has primarily to do with whether I believe that Allah, through the Angel Gabriel, dictated the Qu'ran to Muhammad in Arabic. Both Sunnis and Shiites agree on this, and the question of how the succession in the Caliphate should have gone is not relevant to the fundamental issue between myself and Muslims of either stripe.



On the other hand, if something is relevant to the reasons why one believes that Muhammad did receive this revelation, then I had better understand the reasons Muslims have for believing this I am going to seem pretty ignorant to my Muslim interlocutors. I need to know what their best reasons are. Or, I should at least show that I have tried to understand it. A person's time is limited, so I could reject Islam without this kind of information. But if I want to write The Muslim Delusion, then I need to know what the best Muslim scholars have to offer on why they think Islam is true. If I write a book that makes no attempt to understand this, then they have every right to complain that I am arguing from a position of ignorance, even if Islam is delusional.

When you do something like say that all forms of the Cosmological Argument fail to the "Who made God" question, there are some obvious ways that argument defenders have of responding to this, and you ought to know what those are and rebut them.

Now, I think there is further discussion which might develop the "Who made God" response to more sophisticated version of the Cosmological Arguments. For example, some people argue that if there was a time prior to the beginning of the universe, the causal principle should apply that whatever begins to exist must have a cause, but if there was no prior time, and time began at the Big Bang, then the causal principle should not be applied.  But a popular kind of response to arguments like Aquinas's and Craig's, sometimes given in intro philosophy classes, makes it seem as if they somehow didn't think to ask the question "Who made God," a question asked by most grade school children.

On the famous Trilemma argument, he gives a two paragraph rebuttal the completely ignores a wide range of arguments on both sides. John Beversluis wrote a chapter in his revised C. S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion, which he considers to be an effective take-down of the argument, but in a footnote criticizes as too quick and too easy Hitchens's three-paragraph refutation. I'm sure he would say the same thing about Dawkins's two paragraphs.

Now Dawkins has a quadrilemma concerning those who believe in God, (or, as he puts it, don't believe in evolution) and that is that they are either ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked. But I think he think that theism is really a stupid position.

So, if Dawkins has reasons for rejecting theism in general, then, sure, he shouldn't be expected to know understand, for example, the filioque controversy about the procession of the Holy Spirit. But he should be expected to understand, or at least make an effort to understand the reasons why someone might think that the evidence for God is reasonably good, or that it can be justified as a properly basic belief.

Another example: Dawkins assumes that if believers just believe on tradition and pay no attention to evidence. Reading him, you would never guess that one of the most popular books on Christianity is Josh McDowell's book Evidence that Demands a Verdict, or that there is another book called Faith Founded on Fact. Now, these people may be all wrong, and it could be that they don't have good evidence, but a well-informed anti-apologist should be aware that there are Christians out there who think the evidence favors them.

Myers' presentation of the Courtier's reply appears stupid because he takes discussions that take place on the assumption that the emperor is clothed as a basis for answering the question of whether or not he is clothed, when in fact he appears naked. But if there are books offering reasons for thinking that the emperor is really clothed, then it is fair to expect someone defending the emperor's nudity to consider them.

I'm sure Dawkins is an intelligent person, but my complaint is that he projects and impression that he doesn't have to bother to understand his opponents in order to attack them. He has I believe an earned reputation for lucid explanations of Darwinian biology, but the lack of effort to understand the people he is criticizing, (and his excuses for making no such effort), means that if anyone is going to talk me out of my religious beliefs, it won't be him.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Lovell on Chesterton and philosophical skepticism

A redated post.

More on Craig and Reformed Epistemology

What I am suggesting is that the question of indefeasibility seems to be something on top of the issues created by Reformed Epistemology. 

I think that religious experiences like those Craig mentions, if you have them, give you a reason to believe in God that another person might not have. But to say in advance that this will outweigh any possible argument that could arise against theism, I still think of this as a stretch. 

But not one that justifies ad hominem attacks in the context of the philosophical arguments.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A naturalist attempts to define the supernatural

Does this look good to you?

Fallibilism and William Lane Craig's Epistemology

The following very honest discussion is presented by Bradley Bowen at Secular Outpost. 

I am glad to see someone getting off the bandwagon of bashing Craig because of his employment and application of Reformed epistemology, and, what is more than this, using this aspect of his thought as a basis for refusing to take seriously his arguments for belief in God that have nothing to do with this sort of a claim. I hear too much of "Forget the arguments Craig offers for theism. We know why he REALLY believes in God. It's because of the Holy Spirit tells him so."
While I don't deny that Craig could have a source of knowledge though acquaintance with God that other people might not possess, I wonder if he goes too far in granting those beliefs an indefeasible status.
I found this definition of fallibilism, and I wonder if a defense of this might raise questions about Craig's position. We could still have a properly basic belief in God, but shouldn't we regard that belief as fallible like all others?
Fallibilism is the philosophical doctrine that absolute certainty about knowledge is impossible, or at least that all claims to knowledge could, in principle, be mistaken. Unlike Scepticism (the doctrine that true knowledge is by definition uncertain), Fallibilism does not imply the need to abandon our knowledge, in that it holds that we need not have logically conclusivejustifications for what we know. Rather, it is an admission that, because empirical knowledge can always be revised by further observation, then any of the things we take as knowledge might possibly turn out to be false.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Do believers and nonbelievers have a common goal when they discuss religious questions?

I think that is critical to the pursuit of discussion. We want people to agree with us, but should this be our only goal? Is there, or should there be, a legitimate goal of trying to understand our differences, and trying to find our what really brings about the disagreement concerning the matter, or, say, belief in God or Christianity?

I think not enough attention has been paid to C. S. Lewis's remarks at the founding of the Oxford Socratic Club. He maintained that such a society was valuable at Oxford because by means of it we could hope to civilize one another.

I think the question we should ask people who are in dialogue about religious beliefs is what their goals are. I think that dialogue about religion isn't simply about getting others to agree with us. It is also about getting others to understand us better and to understand others better. Thus, if I engage an atheist in discussion, I consider it unlikely that that person will accept Christ as a result of what I say. I take that as a given. What I hope will happen is that they will understand my position somewhat better, and hopefully, gain some intellectual sympathy for my position. And with enhanced intellectual sympathy, maybe something will happen along the line. Or not.  But I do not assume that when I have failed to convince my interlocutor that I am right, that the discussion has been a failure. Far from it. 

What I hear from people out of the New Atheist camp, however, is something along the lines of "Yes, I am responding to you, but your reaction isn't important. I know that you are a hopeless faith-head. But, maybe other people might be listening who are more open to the truth, and maybe if I show zero intellectual sympathy with you and show just how much contempt I have for what you believe, maybe the fence-sitters will jump the fence my way." 

This is the Dawkins playbook, and it has been a great disappointment to see Loftus fall for it, for example. 

But I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt. 

The strategy here is essentially to deny that believers and unbelievers have a common goal as well as an adversarial goal when the enter discussion with one another. If the common goal goes unrecognized, then we are going to not get anywhere, and that is why I have gotten considerably less satisfaction out of blogging than I did a few years ago. I don't know what to do about it, but I think it's important that people to look at what is being said not only in terms of what side it is on, but also whether the claims are well-supported or not. We have to be ready to criticize our own side if bad arguments are being used. 


Sexist passages

There are always two ways of looking at statements from the past where women are concerned. One of them is in comparison to our society. The other is from the standpoint of the society at the time. If you transport these statements into our time, the sound awfully sexist. After all, Women's Lib was a product of the 60s even in our culture (although there were earlier feminist voices). On the other hand, these statements may have sounded positively liberating to people back then. 
Thus, for example, people today react to passages in the Christian Bible that say "Wives obey your husbands." But I suspect that people in the time these statements were written were far more surprised by statements like "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the Church," since wives in that time knew that the culture expected them to be submissive, Christian or not. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What is deism?

Apparently, historically, it is not the view that God wound things up and left it alone. There is far more Christian content in the deism of people like Jefferson than most people recognize. It, for example, doesn't deny future rewards and punishments.

Here. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

James Randi: I always have an out

Discussed here. 

But Randi says that it just means that he doesn't let the subjects cheat.

Is Christianity mercenary?

According to Scot McKnight, not so.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Atheojihadism

Loftus: There is nothing irrational about these videos or laughing at your faith if you are delusional, Vic. Reason is behind them. Laughter is good medicine. You need a dosage of it everyday.
Let's say believers are in fact as I say, delusional. Let's also say that precisely because they are delusional we cannot usually reason them out of their delusion. Let's say their delusion is also causing a great deal of harm (think ISIS here if you need to). Then reason calls us to do whatever it takes within decency and the law to help them out of it.
Besides Vic, we just can't help ourselves. I'm saying let loose. We laugh at your faith in private all of the time. I'm saying bring it out into the public. Let the deluded see what we really think. What's wrong with letting people know what we really think on occasion? I don't advocate doing this exclusively, although for some people that's all they know to do.
A side product of doing this, just like when atheists come out of the closet, is that it increases the peer pressure against faith. All I hear you say is you don't like it, and that's it. Christians do it from the pulpits across America every Sunday against atheists.

VR: OK, I think we are at the center of what the problem really is. You say
1) Believers are delusional, and I take it this is something beyond just being mistaken. They are ignoring overwhelming evidence against their beliefs.
2) We cannot reason believers out of their delusion.
3) Their delusion is causing a lot of harm, the sort of harm the ISIS inflicts.
4) It will therefore be helpful to society overall to use whatever means are necessary to help believers out of their beliefs.
The underlying idea is that somehow, if we got believers to reject their faith, we would progress to some kind of earthly paradise or utopia. For people like you, John Lennon's Imagine is a good, serious piece of social analysis, not a pretty tune with a utopian vision written by someone who dropped too much acid to think clearly. (I wonder if even John thought it was a piece of serious analysis). My answer to that sort of thing is that you have to be that this idea is what's really delusional. You have to be really be gullible to believe something like that. If you buy that, you may claim to be from Missouri, but you have just bought bridges in New York and California and oceanfront property in Arizona.
I don't think this way about atheism in general. I have a lot of sympathy with arguments like the argument from evil. There a lot of commentators on my site who aren't particularly fanatical Christians, but they are particularly angered by this kind of New Atheism, or as I call it, atheojihadism.
It isn't religion that makes ISIS harmful, it's the idea that religion has to be brought into effect from the top down by government. On the other hand, the use of government-funded educational institutions to shove atheism down people's throats, which is where you end up if you follow Boghossian's Manual to its logical conclusions, or Dawkins' child abuse charge that is actually making it hard for Christians to adopt children in parts of England, you are turning atheism into a religion in the negative sense. Where this is headed for is a society bifurcated on religious-non-religious grounds, where we are going to be less and less able to function together as a society.
I think I've gotten uncharacteristically ill-tempered here. But I can tell you that even if I stopped believing in God tomorrow, I would still be unalterably opposed to a crusade to save people from their religious beliefs.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Somebody actually advocated revising the Preamble with the exact words I gave years ago

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are evolved equal, that they are endowed by evolution with certain inalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

It's bad enough that creationism is creeping up in public schools but it especially doesn't need to be in our own constitution. Just because our slave-owning, bigoted founding fathers were creationists doesn't mean that we should let our most important legal document reflect that. That has to be a violation of the separation of church and state clause that's also in the constitution.

Here's what I present years ago....as a reductio ad absurdum. 

Naturalistic Evolution and Human Rights

 Let's take the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Now, if you're an atheist, we weren't created at all, we were the products of evolution. So, we would have to rewrite this statement as follows:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are evolved equal, that they are endowed by evolution with certain unalienable Rights, that among these rights are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
But this, of course,makes no sense. In evolution, our goal is to survive and pass on our genes, and whatever advantage can help us do that can and should be used. That being the case, all the arguments against slavery and exploitation go down the drain.
The idea that we have rights that exist even when governments eliminate them go by the boards. It's a dog eat dog world, survival of the fittest, so why shouldn't I use whatever advantages I have? You may not want to go there, but how would you answer someone who does?
It's not a coincidence that the idea of human rights arose in a Christian culture. When people have power advantages, what reason can be given to stop them from taking advantage of it.
If we were all decide that are simply and merely products of evolution, and were not created by a God who shows no favoritism, what reason do we have for not taking advantage of a favorable power balance?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Soft Determinism is not a different kind of determinism

Soft determinism is still determinism. And it's really not a different type of determinism. It is, rather, drawing different conclusions from determinism, or rather, not drawing the conclusion that we are not free and not morally responsible for our actions. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Maverick Philosopher on Woody Allen and the search for meaning

Here. 

An exchange about humanism on Debunking Christianity

Rudy R: Again, since you don't think only humans can solve human problems, what problems have been solved only by your god that humans can't solve?
Evidently, you don't have a very high regard for human nature and a human's potential for making things better without a god. That, in a nutshell, probably separates us both the most.
Can you logically discount humanism as a rational way to solving human problems? Just so we are clear on definitions, what I mean by logical is to use empiricism instead of faith as an epistemological method and what I mean by faith is belief without evidence or pretending to know what you don't know.
Can you mathematically show why it's more probable that having faith that a god can make the world a better place than humanism? If not mathematically, can you list all the pros and cons, and show there are more pros and less cons than humanism? I'd like to see how humanism "requires us to make gigantic leaps over the probabilities."

VR: Maybe I can start with a famous quote from G. K. Chesterton:
Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin—a fact as practical as potatoes. Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not mere materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved. Some followers of the Reverend R. J. Campbell, in their almost too fastidious spirituality, admit divine sinlessness, which they cannot see even in their dreams. But they essentially deny human sin, which they can see in the street. The strongest saints and the strongest sceptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.
Atheists like to point out "holy horrors" like the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Wars of Religion, and the Salem Witch Trials. But doesn't this pale in comparison to the crimes committed by communist governments, such as the party purges?
Or the Cultural Revolution
Or, I can quote this from Chris Hedges:
Those who insist we are morally advancing as a species are deluding themselves. There is little in science or history to support this idea. Human individuals can make moral advances, as can human societies, but they also make moral reverses… We alternate between periods of light and periods of darkness. We can move forward materially, but we do not move forward morally. The belief in collective moral advancement ignores the inherent flaws in human nature as well as the tragic reality of human history… All utopian schemes of impossible advances and glorious conclusions end in squalor and fanaticism. (p.10-11)

Gay Marriage: Can the government avoid taking sides?


This discussion assumes a background knowledge of Jeff Jordan's essay " Homosexuality and Discrimination," summarized here. (Jordan was my office mate at the Center for Philosophy of Religion in 1989-90). 
Same-Sex Marriage: Some Further Reflections
Accommodation, not declaration
What Jordan has right
I think Jeff has this much right, that government should, as far as possible, not try to declare winners and losers where ethical questions like the moral status of homosexuality are concerned. I also accept C. S. Lewis’s argument that Christians should not expect government to enforce a Christian understanding of marriage on the citizenry.

Who wants a declaration on this issue?
Well, lots of people. The Religious Right, for example, wants government to stand up for marriage as a relation between one man and one woman, and is looking for an affirmation of the moral superiority of traditional marriage on the part of government. Here the “Christian America” argument comes into play: America is founded on Christianity, therefore we should expect everyone in society to adhere to Christian moral standard where marriage is concerned, and this would involve rejection of homosexual relationships as morally unacceptable.
But who else wants this?
Gay activists, of course! They are looking to gay marriage as a stamp of approval on their relationships, and an implied message that those who disapprove of them are no better than bigots.
Thus we have the lawsuit against a religious baker who didn’t want to do a cake for a gay wedding, and a regulation on the part of the American Philosophical Association according to which Christian colleges that required teachers to sign a code of conduct which precludes sex outside of (traditional) marriage would be flagged as APA code violators, since it would preclude the appointment of sexually active gays and lesbians.
In Canada and Britain, I have heard of cases where preaching the traditional Christian view of homosexual conduct has been treated as hate speech.
The Brandon Eich case from Mozilla
Brandon Eich became the CEO of Mozilla. When it was discovered that he had contributed money to support the Proposition 8 campaign in California, his browser was boycotted by some groups, and as a result he had to step down as CEO of the browser.
Chick-Fil-A has faced boycotts because its leadership has opposed same-sex marriage, though some gay people have considered this an overreach.
The miscegenation parallel
Defenders of same-sex marriage often criticize opponents by arguing that opposition to homosexual relationships is equivalent to opposing mixed-race marriages. Just as opposition to mixed-race marriages is evidence of bigotry, anything less the full acceptance of homosexuality is similarly bigoted.
However, there has to be a distinction between concerns about behavior, and problems caused by non-behavioral issues, such as race.
What has changed our minds
I think we have discovered that sexual orientation is, in many cases not changeable. I don’t think you can argue that there are no choices that can be made in this area, since some people are bisexual. The case of Exodus International, the ex-gay movement, where two of the leaders got involved with one another and returned to homosexuality, seems to be a warning about how far this can be pushed.
But are sexual relationships required for the pursuit of happiness?
What if your sexual orientation is toward preteen boys. In that case, to me moral, it seems to me you would have to pass on your sex life, since there would be no moral way to have a sex life, that is, no way, without doing grievous harm to your partners.
Different groups view this differently
Secularists tend to see no problem with homosexuality, although the existence of homosexuality does present a prima facie difficulty for evolutionary explanation, for obvious reasons. (I actually asked some evolutionary biologists how they explained it).
For some reason, religious believers are not eager to bring this up as evidence of intelligent design.
Conservative religious believers
Typically take anti-gay passages in the Bible at face value, although there is a debate concerning interpretation.
Pro-gay religionists
Here is a defense of their position, from Mel White
Well, no you don’t.
However, there are economic issues involved. What the government does get involved with are things like end of life decisions, spousal benefits, etc. Can you write all that stuff into the law without implying anything about the moral status of homosexuality. If so, do we use the m-word, or not?



Monday, November 17, 2014

Rational Dialogue and Ridicule

One rational dialogue begins, there are rules that have to be followed, like the principle of charity. You can do ridicule, or you can do rational dialogue. You just can't mix them, without breaking the rules.
Of course, our sense of what is ridiculous is largely determined by our views. Thus, what seems absurd to an atheist might seem perfectly sensible to a theist, and vice versa. 
Of course, one of the techniques of rational discourse is reductio ad absurdum. Unfortunately, other than the law of non-contradiction, there isn't any way to distinguish between the genuinely absurd and that which is merely counterintuitive. Many people consider it to be a reductio against utilitarianism that it results in the possible conclusion that we should under some circumstances, frame and execute an innocent person to prevent deaths as a result or rioting. J. J. C. Smart, however, simply accepted this implication of utilitarianism, hence the term "outsmart" in the Philosopher's Lexicon:
outsmart, v. To embrace the conclusion of one's opponent's reductio ad absurdum argument. "They thought they had me, but I outsmarted them. I agreed that it was sometimes just to hang an innocent man."

Reshaping the meaning of life apologetic

Theists who argue the life cannot be meaningful without God run into the problem of going up against sincere autobiographical reports to the effect that "I don't believe in God and I find life meaningful for reasons X. Y, and Z."
If there is an apologetic to be made here, it is that someone who believes in, say Christianity, can find meaning in life regardless of circumstances, while the means by which an atheist find meaning in life do depend on circumstances. The atheist, in accounting for what makes life meaningful, will mention various earthly things, and the theist can ask, "What if that were taken away." But on the other hand, Christ loving you and dying for you isn't something that can be taken away by a change in circumstances.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Marx Delusion

My impression with respect to Marx is that he had kind of a romantic view of human nature and thought we could get rid of capitalism and learn to share and share alike. But how we get to that stage was the hard part, and one suggestion he came up with was that a "vanguard" of the Proletariat would arise, and for a limited time have a "dictatorship" to teach people to be productive without the profit motive. Of course, to do this, the vanguard would have to do their job and then voluntarily relinquish power, and they would of course have to avoid privileging themselves. In distributing in accordance with need they were not to say that they, of course, needed the lion's share. The Party, which Lenin eagerly put in the position of the vanguard, of course did neither, and the rest is history. They privileged themselves, they didn't relinquish power, and they started eating their own. This all happened over Marx's dead body, but the Marx's lack of an equivalent to the Christian's doctrine of man's sinful nature was what ruined the "nice idea" of Communism.

Initial probabilities concerning miracles are bound to differ

Initial probabilities concerning miracles are bound to differ. On my view that's inescapable. Suppose there is evidence for a supernaturalist interpretation of the events surrounding the founding of Christianity such that they make more sense given the Jesus rose from the dead than if he did not rise from the dead. It seems to me that one rational person might say "Well, given everything else I believe to be true, the most reasonable thing for me to do would be to accept the resurrection." But another might say "Yeah, that's evidence for the resurrection all right, but it's not enough. You need more extraordinary evidence than that to convince me." On my view, neither response is necessarily open to a charge of irrationality.

As I wrote here

f my foregoing discussion is correct, opponents of, say, the resurrection of Jesus cannot appeal to a general theory of probability to prove that anyone who accepts the resurrection is being irrational. It is also a consequence that different people can reasonably expected to have different credence functions with respect to Christian (and other) miracle claims. If you want to convince some people that Christ was resurrected, you have a much heavier burden of proof than you have in convincing others. It must be noted that there is no way, on the model I have presented, to show that everyone who denies the Resurrection is irrational, or engaged in bad faith. Of course, one can still believe that unbelievers disbelieve because of "sin" or "suppressing the truth," or what have you. But given the legitimate differences that can exist concerning the antecedent probability of the miraculous, I don't see how such charges can be defended. So the lesson here, I think, is that both apologetics and anti-apologetics should be engaged in persuasion, not coercion, and that the attempt to ground irrationality charges against one's opponents is a misguided enterprise.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ed Feser on the Argument from Intentionality

Originally dated Nov. 21 2006
The following is from Philosophy of Mind: an Introduction, by Edward Feser. Hat tip: Joe Markus from the Internet Infidels Discussion board.

When you draw your mother, you are creating a kind of representation of her. But notice that it is not the particular physical features of the drawing itself - the form of the lines you make, the chemicals in the ink you use, and so forth - which make it a representation of her.........Someone looking over your shoulder as you draw might later on produce an exact copy of the drawing you were making. Perhaps the person admires your craftsmanship and wants to see if he or she can do as well. But in doing so the person would not, strictly speaking, be drawing a respresentation of your mother - he or she may have no idea, nor any interest in, who it was that you were drawing - but rather a representation of your representation. And, in general, the very same image could count either as a drawing of an X, or as a drawing of a drawing of X - or indeed (supposing there's someone looking over the shoulder of the second artist and copying what he or she was drawing) as a drawing of a drawing of a drawing of an X, and so on ad infinitum.......Even if we count something as a drawing, and therefore as possessing some intentionality or other, exactly what it is a drawing of is still indeterminate from its physical properties alone. The same is true not just of drawings, but also of written and spoken words (for to say or write "cat" could be to represent cats, but it could also be to represent the word "cat") and indeed any material representation, including purported representations encoded in neural firing patterns in the brain. There seems in general to be nothing about the physical properties of a material representation that make it a material representation of an X as opposed to a material representation of a material representation of an X.......Sometimes, however, you are determinately thinking about a particular thing or person, such as your mother. Your thought about your mother is about your mother - it represents your mother, and doesn't represent a representation of your mother (representations, pictures, and the like might be the furthest thing from your mind). But then your thought, whatever it is, cannot be entirely material. Given that there's nothing about a material representation per se that could make it a representation of an X as opposed to a representation of a representation of an X, if your thought was entirely material then there would be no fact of the matter about whether your thought represented your mother as opposed to a representation of your mother. Your thought is determinate; purely material representations are not; so your thought is not purely material.

posted by Victor Reppert @ 3:49 PM
1 Comments:

*

At 5:47 PM, Jim Lippard said…

"There seems in general to be nothing about the physical properties of a material representation that make it a material representation of an X as opposed to a material representation of a material representation of an X."

This seems patently false. What makes an image of my mother an image of my mother is the fact that it resembles my mother--the images on my retina, the images in my visual brain maps cause stimulation of the neurons associated with my mother due to that similarity; and those associated with my mother are there as a result of my visual experiences with my mother (and are linked to other neurons as a result of my memories of experiences and thoughts about my mother).

Likewise even for stipulated/dubbed representations--they only are recognized as representations because of the appropriate neural connections in my brain, which are there because of past experiences and memories.

Without the appropriate connections in somebody's neural systems (or equivalent memory stores causally connected up in the right way to the world), there's no representation.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Political Action by Atheists: Why Gnus are Different

Apparently, it is having an impact over in England. For example, Christian couples have been denied the right to adopt on grounds that the children might be brainwashed. Here. 

Being told you can't adopt a child because of what you believe about religions strikes me as an extreme form of anti-religious discrimination.  Jim Crow returns in the name of reason and science.

One would have to wonder what would happen if Richard Dawkins had a son or daughter who, say, decided to be received into the Catholic Church. Would he say "Well, we taught you to think for yourself, and this is what you have decided. I don't agree personally, but far be it from me to brainwash you and make your decision for you."

No?

A lot of Christians on this site respond differently to New Atheists than they do to other atheists, I think there is a reason for this. New Atheism is socially divisive in a way that Old Atheism is not. Even in discussions with some passionate atheists, I always had the feeling that there was a common purpose underlying the exchange, a desire to understand our differences better. I think that common purpose is lost with New Atheism.

Even strongly atheistic philosophy professors would tell me that the presence of Christians like Plantinga, Swinburne, and Robert and Marilyn Adams were good for philosophy.

I think that New Atheists have contributed nothing of substance to argumentation for and against the existence of God. So, in one sense, a successful critique of New Atheist arguments shouldn't be confused with a successful critique of atheist arguments in general. But New Atheism has to be recognized for what it is as a social phenomenon, and I find very harmful.

If I stopped believing in God tomorrow.....

I would certainly NOT become a humanist. 

I think I'd probably agree with Albert Camus, when he said 


There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer. And if it is true, as Nietzsche claims, that a philosopher, to deserve our respect, must preach by example, you can appreciate the importance of that reply, for it will precede the definitive act. These are facts the heart can feel; yet they call for careful study before they become clear to the intellect.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

On the suppression of religion

What I implied, I-S, is that Stenger has a motivation for using force to suppress religious belief, not that he has an advocated using it. Christianity doesn't teach that violence should be used to suppress opposing beliefs, but it is quite true that people who think that there is a great deal of stake in maintaining a particular religion have a motive for using force if the opportunity presents itself. 

Christianity also, it seems to me provides the basis for arguments against using force on its behalf. 

Of course, I can't be sure what people would do in a situation that they do not in fact find themselves in. Stenger seems to think unbelief is winning, so violence won't be necessary, as it was not necessary in the European countries that serve as his example. But I hear from people like him a kind of urgency about winning people for unbelief that goes like this: 

"We are on the cusp of history. We can either abandon faith and embrace science, or we can hold on to faith and retreat to a new dark age. Everything depends on which way we turn at this critical time in history. That is why we have to work hard to achieve the end of faith, so the new Golden Age can be inaugurated, as opposed to a retreat into the benighted past."

When someone talks like this, I have to wonder what they would NOT do to make sure we turn the right way, if they were given the opportunity. On what basis would they refuse to use whatever power they had at their disposal to make sure we abandon faith. It seems to me that such people have the motive in spades. What would happen if they had the means and opportunity, to become the atheist equivalents of Grand Inquisitors? The fact that they don't advocate the use of force is not very comforting, since they don't have the means to use force if they wanted to. The fact that some of them already advocate treating those they disagree with in ways that remind me a lot of the schoolyard bullies I dealt with in grade school is even less reassuring. If the end is so important, what means will not be justified? 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Plantinga Reviews Dennett

Isn't that what we're all waiting for? Well, he hasn't reviewed the new one yet, but here is a Plantinga "golden oldie" while you wait.

Here's the interesting part of the paper, concerning Dennett's rebuttal to the fine tuning argument.

Dennett's rejoinder to the argument is that possibly, "there has been an evolution of worlds (in the sense of whole universes) and the world we find ourselves in is simply one among countless others that have existed throughout all eternity." And given infinitely many universes, Dennett thinks, all the possible distributions of values over the cosmological constants would have been tried out; [ 7 ] as it happens, we find ourselves in one of those universes where the constants are such as to allow for the development of intelligent life (where else?).


Well, perhaps all this is logically possible (and then again perhaps not). As a response to a probabilistic argument, however, it's pretty anemic. How would this kind of reply play in Tombstone, or Dodge City? "Waal, shore, Tex, I know it's a leetle mite suspicious that every time I deal I git four aces and a wild card, but have you considered the following? Possibly there is an infinite succession of universes, so that for any possible distribution of possible poker hands, there is a universe in which that possibility is realized; we just happen to find ourselves in one where someone like me always deals himself only aces and wild cards without ever cheating. So put up that shootin' arn and set down 'n shet yore yap, ya dumb galoot." Dennett's reply shows at most ('at most', because that story about infinitely many universes is doubtfully coherent) what was never in question: that the premises of this argument from apparent design do not entail its conclusion. But of course that was conceded from the beginning: it is presented as a probabilistic argument, not one that is deductive valid. Furthermore, since an argument can be good even if it is not deductively valid, you can't refute it just by pointing out that it isn't deductively valid. You might as well reject the argument for evolution by pointing out that the evidence for evolution doesn't entail that it ever took place, but only makes that fact likely. You might as well reject the evidence for the earth's being round by pointing out that there are possible worlds in which we have all the evidence we do have for the earth's being round, but in fact the earth is flat. Whatever the worth of this argument from design, Dennett really fails to address it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A review of Adam Barkmans "C. S. Lewis and Philosophy as a Way of Life"

C. S. Lewis’s work is certainly varied, from children’s fantasy fiction, to science fiction, to scholarly writings in English literature, to Christian apologetics, and of course this is only the beginning. Most of this work has philosophical relevance to a greater or lesser extent. While some attention has been paid to Lewis as a philosopher in recent years, in general I would have to say that, for the most part, Lewis has been neglected even by Christian philosophers.
Some of Lewis’s critics would attribute this to the fact that while Lewis was capable of powerful rhetoric, the philosophical thinking underlying his writings is shallow, superficial, and prone to fallacy. Such is the verdict of John Beversluis’s C. S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion. Now, Beversluis apparently considers the Christian theism that Lewis defends to be in error. But other philosophers who indeed embrace Lewis’s overall philosophical perspective often find him difficult to bring into contemporary philosophical debate. This is partly because Lewis’s writings are not typically written for an audience of philosophers, and also because philosophical style and terminology is subject to change. A professional philosophical culture has developed in the Anglo-American world that was not present when Lewis was getting his philosophical training, and Lewis didn’t consider it has calling to address that culture. This makes Lewis something of a misfit from the point of view of present-day philosophy. He is, I believe, closer to what we today would call analytic philosophy than he is to Continental philosophy, and yet his work doesn’t fit the framework of contemporary analytic philosophy either.
People who want to make use of Lewis’s work in the context of contemporary philosophy have to do a certain amount of translating. Lewis’s argument from reason, for example, today meets with objections based on cognitive science, or supervenience theory, or functionalism, or eliminativism, all concepts that Lewis would not have known about in his time. Hence, in my work defending the argument, Lewis provides the basic idea and the starting point, but I have to develop the argument to make it responsive to current philosophical developments.
Some critical readers of Lewis’s apologetics focus on certain sharply-worded passages which seem to make Christian apologetics look easy, indeed easier than it really is. Yet an acquaintance with Lewis’s overall work leaves us firmly convinced that his convictions were reached at the end of a long, hard process. That process seems indeed to have been a process of long philosophical reflection. While philosophers such as myself have concentrated on bringing Lewis’s arguments into play in contemporary philosophy, Adam Barkman has taken a different path, and that path primarily involves tracing out Lewis’s philosophical journey, and trying to understand the philosophical positions he takes through the lens of that journey.
The first step in that process is to replace a narrowly professional conception of philosophy with the idea of philosophy as a way of life. It is this concept of philosophy that Plato would have understood, as opposed to the idea that a philosopher is someone who has a job with a philosophy department and delivers papers to APA meetings on a regular basis.
Barkman’s second step is to trace out Lewis’s philosophical journey leading up to his conversion to Christianity, a conversion he frequently described as an almost purely philosophical conversion. We now have access to a comprehensive set of Lewis letters, and other biographical material that Lewis scholars of previous generations could only dream about, and Barkman makes good use of them to reconstruct this story. Barkman claims that Lewis’s own account of his conversion story in Surprised by Joy actually downplays the philosophical content of his conversion for the sake of his audience. (I should note that, in spite of this, you can see Lewis’s philosophical wheels turning even in that book. For example, in Lewis’s account of his rejection of what he there calls Realism we see the biographical basis of his Argument from Reason). The starting point for Barkman’s study is from an account of Lewis’s own development found in his preface to Pilgrim’s Regress, he offers an account of the philosophical content of the stages of his conversion:
'On the intellectual side my own progress had been from 'popular realism' to Philosophical Idealism; from Idealism to Pantheism; from Pantheism to Theism; and from Theism to Christianity.1

However, Barkman finds this summary somewhat incomplete. “Popular realism” has to be identified as a metaphysical materialism. Barkman also identifies a “metaphysical dualist” phase in 1918 which is left out of this account. Third, a distinction has to be drawn between Lucretian materialism and Stoical materialism. When Lewis became an idealist, he oscillated between subjective idealism and absolute idealism, identifying only absolute idealism with pantheism. In fact, he thinks there were seven stages on Lewis’s way: Lucretian Materialism, Pseudo-Manichean Dualism, Stoical Materialism, Subjective Idealism, Absolute Idealism, Theism, and Neoplatonic Christianity.
At this point it pays to pause and consider how different the philosophical climate is today than it was in this time. Many debates in philosophy or religion are conducted between people who accept some version of materialism and those who accept some kind of theism, and idealisms of whatever sort are not currently on the map. When Lewis rejected materialism, he became, not a theist, but an idealist, and then after that found reasons for becoming a theist.
Once the template of these various positions is laid out, he proceeds to use them to trace Lewis’s development as it concerns various ideas, such as heavenly desire, myth, culture, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. The insights he provides from a chronological perspective are worthwhile certainly. Sometimes, he defends Lewis’s central claims, such as when he defends the argument from desire. And sometimes, he is critical, as when he discusses the so-called “trilemma” argument, where he takes the view that the argument is at best very incomplete, since it merely assumes that Jesus made claims to his own divinity.
The book is long, (611 pages) and it takes work to get something out of it. But it will reward those who study it carefully.

1 C. S. Lewis, the preface to the third edition of The Pilgrim’s Regress, in C. S. Lewis: Selected Books (Short Edition) (1933 reprint; London, Harper Collins, 2002), 5.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why Lewis Wouldn't Buy the Computer Argument From Peter S. Williams' "Why Naturalists Should Mind about Physicalism, and Vice Versa

A redated post.

C. S. Lewis lived before computers became the major force that they are now. I think he would not be impressed by the argument that
1) We know that computers are purely material systems.
2) We know that computers reason.
3) Therefore we know that material systems are capable of reasoning.

The reason he would not be impressed is that while computers do the "ratio" part of rational inference very well, the "intellectus" aspect is not to be found in the computer system itself, but is rather a "put in" by human programmers and builders.

I presented Lewis description of the reasoning process in another post, about what he presents in "Why I am Not a Pacifist." It puzzles me somewhat that Lewis didn't spell out exactly what he thought was involved in a rational inference when we was using rational inference to attack naturalism.

The following is from Peter Williams' essay presenting an argument from mind against materialism. See the Lewis quote, which connects to footnote 35 below.

Being Rational

A computer can mimic certain aspects of what scholastic philosophy dubbed "the third act of the mind" [29] ; that is "reasoning, calculating." [30] This "third act" is the whole of what people today tend to mean by "reason", and this corresponds to the old French "Raisoner", meaning "to think connectedly or logically". [31] We can define "the third act of the mind", reason in the French sense, as:

‘The manipulation in thought of beliefs and premises according to the principles of logic, by virtue of which they may be seen in their logical connections, and conclusions may be reached.’

Raisoner is subsumed under the broader Latin definition of "reason" (from the Latin ‘ratio, - on’, meaning "reckoning, judgement, understanding. . ." [32] ), which corresponds to the scholastic taxonomy of three "acts of the mind":

a) "simple apprehension",

b) judgement, and

c) reasoning [i.e. raisoner]. [33]

It is the first act of the mind that constitutes intellectus: "intellect (intelligere) is the simple (i.e. indivisible, uncompounded) grasp of an intelligible truth, whereas reasoning (ratiocinari) is the progression towards an intelligible truth by going from one understood (intellecto) point to another." [34] Thus:

"We are enjoying intellectus when we ‘just see’ a self-evident [basic] truth; we are exercising ratio when we proceed step by step to prove a truth which is not self-evident. A cognitive life in which all truth can be simply ‘seen’ would be the life of an intelligentia, an angel. A life of unmitigated ratio where nothing was simply ‘seen’ and all had to be proved, would presumably be impossible; for nothing can be proved if nothing is self-evident. Man’s mental life is spent labouriously connecting those frequent, but momentary, flashes of intelligentia which constitute intelluctus." [35]

The first act of the mind, simple apprehension or understanding, contains a subset that has been termed the sapiential sense:

"It is our ability to know these indemonstrable but indisputable truths that, for want of a "cleaner" phrase, we call sapiential sense. Sapiential sense is the mind’s ability to "see" the truths that constitute reality, grasp things as they are in themselves. The "seeing" of these truths transcends the scope of the scientific method (which is limited to the data of the senses) and of logic (which is limited to "unpacking" the conclusions already contained in premises). "Knowledge," writes Illtyd Trethowan, "is basically a matter of seeing things. . . arguments, reasoning processes, are of secondary importance and this not only because without direct awareness or apprehension no process of thought could get underway at all, but also because the point of these processes is to promote further apprehensions."’ [36]

Each act of the mind builds upon and includes the one before. For, "Knowledge supposes a judgement, explicit or implicit." [37] Judgement involves the "simple apprehension" [38] of understanding; and reasoning requires judgement, and thus understanding, which includes "apprehension, intellectual intuition, understanding, "seeing", insight, contemplation." [39] Rational beings are therefore beings capable of employing all three acts of the mind, for "What we cannot understand we cannot believe; and what we cannot believe we cannot know." [40] I therefore define reason, in its widest, Latin sense, as:

‘The discerning apprehension of truths which may be manipulated according to the principles of logic, by virtue of which they may be seen in their logical connections, and conclusions may be reached.’

Reason is thus: ‘the combined operation of understanding, judgement, and raisoner in search of truth.’ It is my claim that all three acts of the mind are immaterial and that the human mind is therefore more than material.

While a computer manipulates propositions according to the principles of logic, it does not, I suggest, do this "in thought", as is necessary to the possession of the third act of the mind as defined above. Nor does it posses either the first act, "understanding", or the second act, "judgement". In other words, while computers undoubtedly posses part of the abilities of mind, it is my belief that they do not have mind. Thus I do not think a computer can have beliefs, or, consequently, knowledge. In this I agree with John Polkinghorne who writes that, "The human mind is indeed a computer. . . but it is much more than that - we can also "see", or understand.", and thus that, "The exercise of reason is the activity of persons and it cannot be delegated to computers, however cleverly programmed." [41] This means that it is impossible to view the human mind as nothing but a biological computer.

As Aristotle argued, "Seeing is an act of the eye, but understanding is not an act of our brain. It is an act of our mind – an immaterial element in our makeup that may be related to, but is distinct from, the brain as a material organ." [42]

Determinism, Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Physicalism implies determinism, in that the mind is seen as being identical with the brain, which is a natural, physical system running according to the laws of nature. As C.S.Lewis wrote:

"If Naturalism is true, every finite thing or event must be (in principle) explicable in terms of the Total System. . . If any one thing should be such that we see in advance the impossibility of ever giving it that kind of explanation, then Naturalism would be in ruins. . . For by Naturalism we mean the doctrine that only Nature – the whole interlocking system – exists. And if that were true, every thing and event would, if we knew enough, be explicable without remainder. . . as a necessary product of the system." [43]

Reasons to doubt the truth of determinism are therefore also reasons to doubt the truth of naturalism and physicalism.

One reason to doubt determinism (and thus physicalism) is that it causes severe problems for our concepts of morality. It is not up to the stone whether or not it falls to earth if I throw it into the air. Given certain conditions (being thrown into the air, gravity, etc.) the stone will fall back to earth. The stone has no freedom to do anything other than what it is caused to do; its activity is determined by causes over which it has no control. If humans lack free will, then our actions fall into exactly the same category as the action of a falling stone. We would have no freedom to do otherwise than we are caused to do by causes outside of our control (indeed, we would have no ‘control’ at all). If we are thus determined, does it make any sense to retain belief in moral obligation? A moral obligation is something you ought to do, something you should do; but what use is there for concepts like ‘he ought to do this’ and ‘she should do that’ in a world where every human action is a ‘has to do’? [44]

We face a choice: either to accept determinism and dump moral obligation, or to retain belief in moral obligation and dump determinism. If we dump determinism, then we must also dump naturalism and physicalism, because naturalism and physicalism entail determinism: "It is safe to say that physicalism requires a radical revision of our common-sense notions of freedom, moral obligation, responsibility, and punishment. On the other hand, if these common-sense notions are true, physicalism is false." [45]

[29] Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics, (Monarch, 1995).

[30] ibid.

[31] T.F.Hoad, Dictionary of Etymology. "When ratio is. . . distinguished from intellectus, it is, I take it, very much what we mean by ‘reason’ today; that is, as Johnson defines it, ‘The power by which man deduces one proposition from another, or proceeds from premises to consequences’." – C.S.Lewis, The Discarded Image, (Cambridge), p157-158.

[32] ibid.

[33] Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, op cit.

[34] Thomas Aquinas, quoted by C.S.Lewis, The Discarded Image, p157.

[35] C.S.Lewis, The Discarded Image, p157.

[36] Roy Abraham Varghese, Great Thinkers On Great Questions, (OneWorld), Introduction, p5-6.

[37] ‘Knowledge’, The Catholic Encyclopaedia @ http://www.knight.org/advent/cathen/08673a.htm

[38] Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, op cit.

[39] ibid: "We just "see" (in a nonvisual sense of the term) that certain things are true, or that one thing follows from another." (Everitt & Fisher, Modern Epistemology, p4)

[40] Robert Audi, Epistemology – a contemporary introduction, (Routledge), p183.

[41] John Polkinghorne, Reason and Reality, (SPCK), p10.

[42] Mortimer J. Adler, Aristotle for Everybody, (Simon & Schuster, 1997), p183-184.

[43] C.S.Lewis, Miracles, (Fount), p16, my italics.

[44] The existence of objective moral obligations forms one premise of the moral argument for the existence of God as the only possible source of such obligations, a conclusion that contradicts naturalism.

[45] Habermas & Moreland, op cit, p60.
This is the passage from "Why I am Not a Pacifist"



C. S. Lewis's Description of Rational Inference
VR: Although C. S. Lewis criticized naturalism by arguing that it is inconsistent with the possibility of rational inference, he didn't give the kind of full description of rational inference that he gives in an essay entitled "Why I am Not a Pacifist," which contains no argument against naturalism at all. It is found in The Weight of Glory, p. 34.

"Now any concrete train of reasoning involves three elements: Firstly, there is the reception of facts to reason about. These facts are received either from our own senses, or from the report of other minds; that is, either experience or authority supplies us with our material. But each man’s experience is so limited that the second source is the more usual; of every hundred facts upon which to reason, ninety-nine depend on authority. Secondly, there is the direct, simple act of the mind perceiving self-evident truth, as when we see that if A and B both equal C, then they equal each other. This act I call intuition. Thirdly, there is an art or skill of arranging the facts so as to yield a series of such intuitions, which linked together produce, a proof of the truth of the propositions we are considering. This in a geometrical proof each step is seen by intuition, and to fail to see it is to be not a bad geometrician but an idiot. The skill comes in arranging the material into a series of intuitable “steps”. Failure to do this does not mean idiocy, but only lack of ingenuity or invention. Failure to follow it need not mean idiocy, but either inattention or a defect of memory which forbids us to hold all the intuitions together.”


The power of intuition, the second step, seems to be the most difficult to account for in naturalistic terms.