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Atheists & Agnostics: Why Don't You Believe The Bible?


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#41 Teejay

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 10:37 AM

It's good of you to clarify; I was talking about truth in a more cosmic “do we understand everything about reality” sense. I agree that when you make a vague statement of fact like “there are cows in my pasture” it is perfectly possible for it to be absolutely true. (if nothing else you could make opposite statements, so one of them would have to correspond to reality)


Aelyn,

Only the Creator God can understand “everything about reality.” If we knew everything, we would be infinite like Him. But we can know in a finite way truth that is knowable. Then you say that it’s “perfectly possible for it to be true.” To say this you have to “know” that it is TRUE that it’s perfectly possible for it to be true.”

Aleyn, I’m not playing word games with you here. I’m trying to show that truth exists and we can know truth. Something else to think about is that we can know some things are true because of the impossibility of an alternative. Either it’s true that God exists or it is true that God does not exist. And we have no third alternative.

Is the alternative to a non-existing Creator God possible? If God did not exist, you and I could not do what we are doing here—reasoning to reach truth. You are the only organism on Planet Earth that can reason and “know” truth. Our belief that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other is not at all based on the fact that they have never been otherwise in the past; we can reason and “know” that they were equal in the past, are equal now, and will be equal into eternity.

Also, to know something, you have to have to believe you have a good “reason” to know it’s true. I can proclaim in this post: “I know that I am going to win the Texas lottery this year.” Even if I do win the lottery this year, I really did not “know” I was going to win. My belief was “arbitrary.”

The atheist, who denies a Supernatural Creator God, has no rational reason to know that he can reason (using laws of logic) to reach truth. His belief that laws of logic and rational thought exist is an arbitrary one. He denies that anything but the material world exists but then uses the immaterial laws of logic and rational thought to argue that only matter exists. This can be likened to arguing that there is no good argument or trying to argue that the Law of Non-contradiction does not exist while using it to argue that it does not exist.

What I’m doing here, Aleyn, is showing you that God exists because of the impossibility of an alternative. Our ability to reason must come from reason. It can’t come from an immaterial reasonless rock. Our ability to reason comes from reason (our parents), and our parents from our grandparents, and so on. But eventually we must reach a Reason that does not owe existence to anything else. This Reason must be self-existent and must have always existed, for even God could not bring Himself into existence if He did not first exist. Nor could He ever cease to exist and then bring Himself to re-exist.

There is still the issue of us knowing absolutely whether it is true or not. I don't think that's possible; hallucinations exist, and people get tricked by their brains in even more bizarre ways all the time. There are quite a few brain disorders that not only impair people's abilities (like, for example, making them blind on one side), but makes them unable to realize this. They don't directly perceive they have a problem, and so they refuse to believe they have one. Now if I were in such a situation I would like to be at least theoretically capable of realizing the truth, that someone could tell me “you've got this form of visual agnosia” and that with enough evidence, explanations and experiments I could be convinced that this was indeed the case. If I believed that something as simple as looking out the window and seeing cows were absolute 100% undoubtable proof that cows were there then this would be impossible because no evidence could outweigh my own direct perceptions.


“There is still the issue of us knowing ABSOLUTELY [my emphasis] whether it is true or not.” All truth is absolute by definition. Truth is absolutely true for all people, times, and places. I am being dogmatic here, but everyone who claims anything to be true is dogmatic. It’s impossible to live on this earth and not claim that something is true—even the relativist who claims that all truth or morality is relative. But if the relativist’s argument were true, it would self-destruct.

How can you know that what you posted here is true? And if it were true, how could you know it’s true? Now of course, our brains can be damaged and we can see things that are not there. But with second and third frames of reference, we can know. Einstein postulated that if two spaceships were approaching each other, neither could ascertain who was moving and who was stationary. But a third and fourth frame of reference could verify that both were moving or just one. About a year ago, I had my knee replaced with a metal one. I am allergic to just about everything, including the pain killers. I lost all touch with reality and I was back in the military and went on a secret mission to Bogota, Colombia and came back speaking Spanish. My two frames of reference with reality were my wife and my nurse. Not only did they have a difficult time convincing me that I had not been in South America, they had to persuade me I was not fluent in Spanish.

Aleyn, if you’re having reservations that you could not know for sure that you lived on a ranch, and that you owned cows, then please do not cross the street by yourself for it has to be “100 percent undoubtable” that a truck is not coming that will run you down. I’m trying not to be too harsh here, but someone has sold you a false bill of goods that you can’t know truth. Your “perception” of truth does not make a matter true. The laws of gravity were true long before Newton wrote them down in math equations. It was true that the earth revolved around the sun long before we perceived that it did so. While we did not know this in the past, it does not follow that we can’t know truth in the future.

Recall that I defined a worldview as a set of presuppositions we use to interpret the reality we encounter. If our worldview is a false one, then we can reach truth only by accident or by being inconsistent with our false worldview. One of the presuppositions we must have to use science is we must take it for granted that the universe is understandable (that it can be quantified in a way our minds can comprehend). We must assume the universe is logical and orderly and that it obeys mathematical laws that are consistent with time and space. The problem for atheists is that such regularity only makes sense in a biblical creation worldview. (Recall that I posited that if one does not have a rational reason to assume something is true then one can’t really know it’s true.) Atheists are able to do science because they are “inconsistent” with their worldview. They accept biblical principles such as uniformity in nature while simultaneously denying the Creator God who imposed this uniformity on the physical universe. Atheist scientists deny that the universe was designed but then perform experiments as though it is designed and upheld by God in a uniform way. They can do science only if they abandon their atheist worldview and step into the creationist’s worldview.


Now one could argue that brain disorders aren't random, they do some things and not others, and that there are some experiences that can NOT be simulated by a brain problem. I don't know if this is true or not. If it were true that would still leave the basic Matrix or Last Thursdayist scenarios to deal with for someone who believes they can know the absolute truth (in fact Last Thursdayism is an absolutely serious physical hypothesis but that's another story).


You’ll have to forgive this old man, but I saw only the first episode of The Matrix (with my grandson). And as I recall, he had to explain it to me on the way home. But what I got out of it was that humans were not living in the real world. They were used as power sources and were fed information into their brains to make them think they were living normal lives. I’m here to help you to get out of The Matrix (the atheist/relativist worldview). In the movie, only another person could free the deceived person and bring him back into the real world. The good news for you is that you can free yourself. Besides, it’s not really possible for the atheist be be consistent and live in his worldview.

And to answer your last question: I am quite confident that what I posted above is true. I have given a few reasons why, I could give more if you wanted. I am not as confident of it as I am of some other things, but I'm confident enough about it to say it's what I believe. I don't know what “know” in quotes means. Is it supposed to denote 100% certainty ? I don't “know” anything in that sense that I can think of.


For clarity, your Post 33: “Yes. That is, I believe reality exists and as far as I can tell it's the same thing. I don't believe humans can know that truth however, our beliefs can only approximate it. Which is good enough in my opinion.”

Here you argue that humans can’t know truth. In this post you argue that what you posted is true. How can you know that it’s true if you “don’t believe humans can know that truth”? Fact: There is no relativistic argument that does not self-destruct.


If I came across as scolding you I apologize, that wasn't my intention at all ! Me scolding others for being long-winded would be the rankest hypocrisy I just meant it as a neutral statement of fact, really.


I am long winded. I admit it.


You'll have to explain this bit. Circularity is an either/or property; if an argument is “a little circular”, then it's circular, and circularity is not acceptable. A system of reasoning that allows circular arguments will allow anything, and this leads to contradictions. The laws of logic are the axioms of any system of logic. You don't prove they exist, you say they exist.


First, before I explain, I must point out that you can’t live consistently in the atheist worldview. If you first argue that you can’t know truth, then you are inconsistent when you argue for the absolutism of the law of non-contradiction (either/or). This law says that two contradictory premises can’t be both true and not true at the same time in the same way. The Christian believes that the laws of logic are absolute, invariant, and universal. So I must ask you:

How can you use the law of non-contradiction in a relativistic worldview?
Do you believe that the laws of logic are absolute or do you believe they are conventional (what’s agreed upon by men or a society)?

Now you can show that those rules are useful, or reflect the way the Universe works, or very probably don't lead to contradictions, by induction. And you can make induction mathematically rigorous by using Bayesian probabilities. In fact you should do that, because induction and bayesian reasoning are much more productive than pure Aristotelian logic. But it's a different process, and even there circularity is not acceptable.


From the internet: “To demonstrate an application of Bayes' Theorem, suppose that we have a covered basket that contains three balls, each of which may be green or red. In a blind test, we reach in and pull out a red ball. We return the ball to the basket and try again, again pulling out a red ball. Once more, we return the ball to the basket and pull a ball out - red again. We form a hypothesis that all the balls are all, in fact, red.”

The only logic I want to use is logic that reaches truth. If Bayes used his probability logic on swans, he would conclude that all swans were white—until he saw a black one. So while this logic can be productive (?) it does not necessarily reach truth. And one could still not be a relativist and argue that Bayesian logic is absolutely true. Right?



Now to the issue of circularity: For clarity I will define begging the question fallacy or reasoning in a circle. This fallacy is committed when the person merely assumes what he or she is trying to prove or when the premise of an argument actually depends on the conclusion. An example: “The Bible must be the Word of God because the Bible says it is. And what it says must be true, since God can’t lie.”

When one of these statements is used as the sole support for the other, the argument commits the fallacy of begging the question. This same line of argumentation could be used to prove the Koran.

Begging the question is a “strange” fallacy because it is actually valid. Any logic class or book will verify that a valid argument is one in which the conclusion does follow from the premises. Most of the time, fallacies aren’t valid because their conclusion does not logically follow from premises. But what’s odd about begging the question is that the conclusion does follow from the premises (because it restates the premise or premises). So the argument, “Evolution must be true because it is a fact,” is valid. So, then why is it a fallacy?




Having said all that, there are special cases where circular reasoning is unavoidable and not fallacious. Recall I said that begging the question is not invalid but is considered fallacious if it is arbitrary. But what if it were not arbitrary? There are some situations where the conclusion of an argument must be assumed at the outset.

a. Without laws of logic, we could not make an argument.
b. We can make an argument.
c. Therefore there must be laws of logic.

While circular, this argument is reasonable and valid. This argument is using a law of logic called modus tollens to prove that there are laws of logic. So, here we have assumed which we are trying to prove. So it’s unavoidable that we must use logic to prove anything—even the existence of laws of logic. However, the argument is not arbitrary. We have a good reason for assuming laws of logic because without them we could not prove anything. Anyone doubting the existence of laws of logic would have to use them to make his argument—self defeating.

You talk as if everything that isn't based on deductive Aristotelian logic is "arbitrary", but that's a false dichotomy. Methods like induction, Bayesian reasoning or criteria like "usefulness" are things deductive logic has nothing to say about, but there's nothing arbitrary about them.


I addressed the Bayesian logic above. “Usefulness” is not a determinant for truthfulness. Just turn on the TV and listen to a politician. His illogical reasoning is useful to achieve his ends, but it is not necessarily true. I am arguing for logic that reaches truth—which you are unsure exists or knowable.


Just knowing God created the laws of logic isn't a rational reason to know why there are laws of logic anymore than "because Leonardo da Vinci painted it that way" is the full answer to the question "why is the Mona Lisa smiling ?". Why did God create laws of logic ? Why create these laws of logic ? Is God himself logical ?


I will answer your last question first. God is logical. If He were not logical, then you could not be logical. Laws of logic are not part of the physical universe and the atheist materialist can’t argue that they come from matter.

Actually God did not “create” laws of logic.” Rather they describe the way God thinks. Laws are not created. Physical laws describe how the universe functions. Moral laws describe God’s moral nature. Thus, for the Christian there is an absolute Standard for reasoning. We are to pattern our thoughts after God. The Christian has a rational reason to know why there are laws of logic. We are made in His image (Gen. 1:26) and can follow His example (Eph. 5:1). Jesus (who is God the Son) said, “I am the Truth.” Jesus can’t lie for He would deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). All truth is in God (John 14:6; Col. 2:3).

Why Mona Lisa is smiling is not very important when weighing our eternal existence. I am not asking you to accept my justification for the laws of logic. But I have a rational reason within my worldview to account for them. You argument of equivalency to the Mona Lisa is not a very good one. I have a rational reason which is non-arbitrary. The atheist does not.


I didn't say it was. I wasn't even talking about my own standards. You said we needed an Ultimate Standard; I asked why logic itself couldn't be one. As for me, I think looking for an “ultimate standard” is an interesting exercise but the exercise itself is more interesting than the result. At the end of the day my beliefs rest on the sum of my experiences and thought processes, not a single Ultimate Standard.


“… the sum of my experiences and thought process.” Are you an empiricist? Definition: This is the idea that all knowledge is obtained by observation (experiences). If you do not have a ultimate standard that proves itself and by which all else is proved, then you can’t really know anything. Please read my Post 13.


I'm not sure what that example was meant to illustrate, but if you're trying to make the point that absolute knowledge exists I think it's a rather strange choice. "In the real world" crossing the street is a very complicated decision that requires managing uncertainty and risk. It will involve uncertain factors like the speed of cars and how they will change their speed in the future, how likely it is that there are additional cars or vehicles one hasn't seen, how likely it is the drivers will see you, how fast you can cross the road and how likely you are to get run over if you stop in the middle, in how much of a hurry you are and so on. It's very hard to reach zero risk (although when I was a little kid I certainly tried : I wouldn't cross the road if I could even see a car. Sometimes I waited a long time), and in practice you don't, you just minimize the risk as much as you feel comfortable with. And in fact pedestrians get run over all the time, which they wouldn't if they were imbued with absolutely true knowledge of whether it was safe to cross or not.


Aelyn, let’s cut to the heart of the issue. Can you or can you not KNOW that a truck is coming when you cross the street? But I will excuse you, for just as you have no rational reason to justify laws of logic, you have no rational reason to justify the existence of truth. The Christian does. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Deut. 5:20). If truth did not exist, then a false witness could not exist and God could not hold anyone accountable for being a false witness.

Aleyn, I will give you one more scenario and I must ask you not to equivocate. Please give a straight answer. If you were on trial for murder and you were innocent of the crime, would you want three truthful witnesses to testify that you were 200 miles away at the time of the murder playing poker with them?

TeeJay


#42 Teejay

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 10:51 AM

[quote] name='ringo' timestamp='1339526429' post='84352']
It isn't a question of believing or disbelieving "the Bible". I believe or disbelieve individual items on an individual basis. Finding one correct item in a book is not grounds (for me) to accept any other item in that book as correct. Each item has to stand on its own merit.


Yup. I was practically born in church. I could quote from the Bible before I could read it.


Yup.


Different authors have different purposes: to preserve history (or a particular slant on history), to give advice, or just to be creative, to name a few. With dozens of authors, it seems unlikely that they all had identical purposes.


I think that sometimes believers exaggerate the accuracy of the fulfillment.
[/quote]

Ringo,

Questions:

Do you believe that truth exists and you can know truth?
Are the laws of logic absolute or conventional (what's agreed upon by men or societies)?
Why is there something instead of nothing?

I have to be honest and admit that I don't have much patience with agnostics--the undecided or unconvinced. They position themselves where they don't really have to defend any position. I much rather like to debate an honest atheist like Aelyn. She has to defend her position. So I first ask agostics: Do you want to be convinced of the truth? For either God exists or he does not exist. There is no third option. So, does God exist and do you want to be convinced of His existence?

TeeJay

#43 ringo

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 11:38 AM

Do you believe that truth exists and you can know truth?


I don't believe there's an ultimate Truth that anybody can know. I believe there are things that are true and that learning more and more of them is a worthwhile endeavour.

Are the laws of logic absolute or conventional (what's agreed upon by men or societies)?


Logic is a tool that, when used correcty, will always produce the same result, like a drill will always produce a hole of the same size. Logic can only produce a "true" result if it works from sound premises.

Why is there something instead of nothing?


I don't have an answer to that question.

Do you want to be convinced of the truth?


If there was an ultimate Truth, it might be interesting to know about it. But first, I'd have to be convinced that an ultimate Truth exists, then I'd have to be convinced that somebody, say you, knows what it is.

So, does God exist and do you want to be convinced of His existence?


On the Dawkins scale, I'd e a 6:

De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. "I don't know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there."


I'm certainly open to being convinced of His existence.

#44 Teejay

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 07:16 AM

[quote] name='ringo' timestamp='1339699098' post='84376']
I don't believe there's an ultimate Truth that anybody can know. I believe there are things that are true and that learning more and more of them is a worthwhile endeavour.[/quote]

Ringo, thank you for being open and honest as to where you stand. This makes a good exchange between us possible.

An "Ultimate Truth" does exist. Recall that Jesus Christ said, "I am the truth, the way, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me." Jesus is also the Word (see first chapter of the gospel of John). I will expand on this as we progress.

Truth does exist and any truth that's knowable you can know. If truth did not exist, then you could not argue that your statement above was true--it would defeat itself otherwise.


[quote]Logic is a tool that, when used correcty, will always produce the same result, like a drill will always produce a hole of the same size. Logic can only produce a "true" result if it works from sound premises.[/quote]

I asked if they were conventional or absolute?



[quote]I don't have an answer to that question.[/quote]

I will give you Einstein's definition of "nothing." Einstein said that "nothing" was what rocks dream about.. Very good definition me thinks.

Ringo, you can know for sure a few things:

a) the universe could not have created itself from nothing. Right?

B) the universe could not have always been here. Right?



[quote]If there was an ultimate Truth, it might be interesting to know about it. But first, I'd have to be convinced that an ultimate Truth exists, then I'd have to be convinced that somebody, say you, knows what it is.[/quote]

If an Ultimate Truth did not exist, then no truth could be known. An Ultimate Truth by which all truth is measured must exist and must have always existed. Please see my Post 13 on this.


[quote]On the Dawkins scale, I'd e a 6:[/quote]

I'm not sure what this scale is? But you did post above that knowing the Ultimate Truth "might be interesting." I would like to think that knowing if my eternal existence would be in Hell or Heaven would be more than "might" be interesting. What on earth, for you, would take precedence over such an importan t issue?


[quote]I'm certainly open to being convinced of His existence.
[/quote]

I pray and hope that your heart is not hardened like the Pharoah of Egypt. I can convince your mind of the Truth, but only you can soften your heart to accept truth. Jesus said that "man's heart is deceitful above all things," so deceitful that we can deceive ourselves. Another problem is that once a man hardens his heart towards God only he can soften it. God can't and will not do it against his will. And there is a further conundrum: If I prove to you that God exists (which I can), I will simultaneously be proving you wrong. Usually man does not love the person who proves him wrong. And usually his heart grows harder. The Pharoah in Egypt knew that Moses' God was legit after the first miracle, but the miracles made his heart harder rather than converting him. This is why God refrains from doing miracles. For the unbeliever, whose heart is hard, God performing a mirable shoves the truth of God in his face. The result is that they then hate God all the more. In the cities where Jesus did most of His miracles they totally rejected Him. When He raised Lazarus from the dead, they immediately made plans to kill Him. So I can show you that God exists because of the impossiblity of the alternative. And I pray that it will not make your heart harder.

TeeJay

#45 ringo

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 10:01 AM

Truth does exist and any truth that's knowable you can know.


I would say that knowledge is asymptotic to truth. You can get closer and closer to truth but you can never quite get there.

I asked if they were conventional or absolute?


I think my answer leans away from "absolute" but I'm not sure what you mean by "conventional".

Ringo, you can know for sure a few things:

a) the universe could not have created itself from nothing. Right?

Posted Image the universe could not have always been here. Right?


I can't confirm that either of those statements is right.

I'm not sure what this scale is?


To be clear, I'm not a fan of Richard Dawkins. I haven't read any of his books. I just use his scale to describe my position. You'd be a 1; you're 100 per cent sure that God exists. I'm near the opposite end of the scale but I'm less than 100% sure that He doesn't.

I would like to think that knowing if my eternal existence would be in Hell or Heaven would be more than "might" be interesting. What on earth, for you, would take precedence over such an importan t issue?


There's only a very remote chance (to me) that either Heaven or Hell exists, so the possibility of going to one or the other is of little importance - like your interest in a trip to Atlantis.

Usually man does not love the person who proves him wrong.


I come from a scientific mindset (mainstream science, that is, not science as defined in this forum). Being wrong holds no terrors for me. Wrongness, like rightness, is asymptotic; it's always possible to be less wrong about something.

The problem with "Ultimate Truth" is that Chriistians, Muslims, Jews, etc. all use the same reasoning to arrive at it but they arrive at different places. The closest we can come to ultimate truth, I believe, is objective truth. If people with different worldviews, biases, etc. can agree on something, it's true.

#46 aelyn

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 02:38 PM

Teejay, you keep repeating the exact same arguments and assertions over and over. You said earlier you wanted me to “admit that truth exists and that you can know truth” as if I already knew this and were just pretending I didn't for some reason. Maybe to be contrary. Maybe because I don't know my own mind. Maybe you think I'm an infinite number of monkeys typing away randomly and you know that if you prompt me the exact same way an infinite number of times I will eventually mash out the words “Yes, you're right”... You say I've been sold a false bill of goods, as if I were blindly parroting something I was told instead of stating beliefs that I came to after thinking about the question for myself.

This is all fine, you can think what you like about me. And I do know there are some Christians who think everybody knows God exists and that atheists are refusing to admit to themselves what they know deep down is true, maybe you're one of those people. But I'm losing interest and if this conversation continues to be this repetitive I won't be participating in it much longer.

How about we try an experiment. Why don't you pretend, just for one post, that I actually believe what I write. That I actually read your responses, and that if an argument didn't convince me once it probably won't convince me the second time around either. That my responses to your arguments hold clues to how I think, and that actually understanding how I think would allow you to make new arguments that might actually convince me (to be fair I rarely engage in debates on subjects I'm not highly confident about, i.e. difficult to convince out of my point of view. But this is actually a subject I'm less confident on than some others that might come up on this forum, so who knows).

Then you say that it’s “perfectly possible for it to be true.” To say this you have to “know” that it is TRUE that it’s perfectly possible for it to be true.”


What a strange statement, as if it were impossible to say things one didn't “know”. I have said already that everything I write are things I am highly confident are true but not 100% absolutely certain. To be 100% absolutely certain to me means I don't allow the slightest possibility of that thing being untrue, i.e. no argument and no amount of evidence could ever make me change my mind on it. If that is the level of certainty you mean by “know”, then I maintain that I hold no belief to that level if I can help it. If that is not the level of certainty you mean by the word then we're talking past each other.

Our belief that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other is not at all based on the fact that they have never been otherwise in the past; we can reason and “know” that they were equal in the past, are equal now, and will be equal into eternity.


Interesting claim. You're referring to the transitivity property, which is part of the definition of “equal” (more exactly, of an equivalence relation). I do not know of a reasoning process that allows one to deduce such a thing; as far as I know it's like an axiom in that sense. And indeed I'd say that the equivalence relationship was defined that way because that's how equality was observed to behave, i.e. because it has never been otherwise in the past.
But I don't know everything in maths and logic so if you have the formal proof that equivalence relationships are transitive I would like to see it.

All truth is absolute by definition. Truth is absolutely true for all people, times, and places. I am being dogmatic here, but everyone who claims anything to be true is dogmatic. It’s impossible to live on this earth and not claim that something is true—even the relativist who claims that all truth or morality is relative. But if the relativist’s argument were true, it would self-destruct.

You are confusing something being true with knowing something is true, it's the mind projection fallacy. It is perfectly possible for truth to be absolute but for humans to be unable to be absolutely certain this truth, in the sense that they can be 100% certain to the point they know nothing could possibly dissuade them. If you disagree with this statement then we must not using the word “truth” in the same way. And again, you don't need to be 100% certain - or even 90% certain - of something to say it

How can you know that what you posted here is true?

Just quoting that as an example of that repetitiveness thing. I answered that question already, when I answered your question “Is what you posted is true ?” I included several reasons why I held the position I did. If you didn't understand the answer, say so and ask me to clarify. Repeating the question over and over again is just annoying.

Einstein postulated that if two spaceships were approaching each other, neither could ascertain who was moving and who was stationary. But a third and fourth frame of reference could verify that both were moving or just one.

Something else that is just plain wrong, depending on how you mean that second clause. Einstein didn't postulate that if two spaceships were approaching each other neither could ascertain who was moving and who was stationary : that's obvious. What Einstein did was take the next step, which was to show this was a fundamental statement about the Universe. In other words there was no absolute frame of reference according to which one moved. All frames of reference are equivalent. Which means according to Einstein that a third and fourth frame of reference would verify nothing at all, they would just be a third and fourth frame of reference, having exactly the same weight cosmically speaking as the first and second did. I can't completely tell if you were presenting the “third and fourth” thing as Einstein's point of view or as refuting his point of view.

Note that the theory of relativity has nothing to do with any kind of relativism. Frames of reference in the physics sense can serve as metaphors for worldviews or truths but they are not in fact the same thing. I don't believe there exists an absolute frame of reference but I do believe there is an absolute reality.

Not only did they have a difficult time convincing me that I had not been in South America, they had to persuade me I was not fluent in Spanish.

It's a good thing you were persuadable, wasn't it. That you didn't take your experiences in South America as absolutely 100% certain truths, but as things you could conceivably be wrong about.

Your “perception” of truth does not make a matter true. The laws of gravity were true long before Newton wrote them down in math equations. It was true that the earth revolved around the sun long before we perceived that it did so.

Indeed !

While we did not know this in the past, it does not follow that we can’t know truth in the future.

True. But once we do know the truth, how will we know it IS the truth and not just a closer approximation to it than what we had before ? We can test and test and test but we can never be 100% certain that the next test won't reveal a subtle nuance we hadn't been aware of before. Every test drives our level of confidence that we know the truth higher, sure, but it won't ever reach infinity. If our perception of truth does not make a matter true it follows that perceiving something to be true is not absolute proof that it is true.

How can you use the law of non-contradiction in a relativistic worldview?

By being very very very very very certain it works. And observing every time I use it that it does work. You are acting as if it is impossible to act on uncertain beliefs, even if the uncertainty involved is so small it's negligible for all practical purposes. I don't understand why you would do that, when people in every day life act on beliefs that are a lot more uncertain than that.

Do you believe that the laws of logic are absolute or do you believe they are conventional (what’s agreed upon by men or a society)?

I believe that the laws of logic are how our Universe really works. As I told you many times.

The only logic I want to use is logic that reaches truth. If Bayes used his probability logic on swans, he would conclude that all swans were white—until he saw a black one. So while this logic can be productive (?) it does not necessarily reach truth.

It's the only mode of logic that can actually approach the truth. If Aristotle used his deductive logic on swans he would conclude nothing at all until he had observed every single swan in existence. Which means your deductive logician would be swimming in the haze of I-have-no-clue (or "all I know is that some swans are white on one side") you think relativists live in while Bayes assumed that 100% of swans are white (which is close to the truth), and then self-corrected when faced with contrary evidence to thinking that 99.9% of swans are white, and had his opinion grow closer and closer to the correct number the more swans he saw.

So, then why is it a fallacy?

I explained why in the post you're responding to, if you didn't understand the explanation why not say so and point to what you had a problem with ?

Recall I said that begging the question is not invalid but is considered fallacious if it is arbitrary. But what if it were not arbitrary?

This from the guy who thinks assuming the laws of logic exists is arbitrary. The argument you give as an example is not reasonable or valid. It sounds reasonable and valid to you because you know there must be a reason to think the laws of logic exist, but you seem attached to this strange idea that every true conclusion should be deductible using deductive logic. They aren't. That's why deductive logic and maths use these things called “axioms”.

We have a good reason for assuming laws of logic because without them we could not prove anything.

An argument based on usefulness AFAICT. Indeed it isn't arbitrary. But that does not make it valid. Usefulness doesn't imply truth. (it can be evidence for truth in some contexts, but that's Bayesian logic)

“Usefulness” is not a determinant for truthfulness.

LOL. Like you say.

Actually God did not “create” laws of logic.” Rather they describe the way God thinks. Laws are not created. Physical laws describe how the universe functions.

What is the difference between the laws of logic describing God's nature and the laws of logic describing the Universe's nature ? Since we agree either way those laws were not created.

“… the sum of my experiences and thought process.” Are you an empiricist? Definition: This is the idea that all knowledge is obtained by observation (experiences).

I haven't interacted enough with empiricists to know for sure. I don't believe all knowledge is obtained by observation – quite a lot of knowledge we have by instinct, and while those instincts aren't always correct and basing our knowledge on observation is better, I think it's pointless to deny how things actually work either. That said I do believe all knowledge is obtained by interacting with reality, which sounds to me like the essence of empiricism (I could explain more about how this deals with instincts but it would involve evolution and I don't want to start a debate on evolution in the middle of this thread)

Aleyn, I will give you one more scenario and I must ask you not to equivocate.

You know I started getting a lot more offended at this kind of comment when I realized that you guys use “equivocate” as a euphemism for “lying”.

#47 Teejay

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 10:01 AM

Aleyn,

I will be rather busy for the next few days. I will answer you. Please be patient.

Aleyn, I am rather new to this site by comparison to some of the others. I don't know if I can be included in with "you guys." I am not a moderator, and I've been accused of a few transgressions myself. I try not to violate the rules, but sometimes we err and transgress a bit unwittingly.. I think they have this rule because there have been some dishonest ones who have intentionally and knowingly been deceptive. And "equivocation" can mean purposely using ambiguous language to purposely deceive.

I in no way meant to use equivocate towards you in that sense. I was using it in the sense that you are hedging, hesitant to answer, answering in a round-about way to avoid facing the truth of my argument--which is only being human. I am not exactly quick to admit I'm wrong about a matter, I was using it in the sense that I just wanted a clear, concise answer unlike the one about crossing the street.

I want to make this one point clear so that you will have a good weekend without thinking about me or "you guys."

TeeJay

#48 Teejay

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 11:38 AM

I would say that knowledge is asymptotic to truth. You can get closer and closer to truth but you can never quite get there.


Is what you posted here true? If it is true, then you premise that “you can never quite get to the truth” is false. All relativist’s arguments self-destruct.



I think my answer leans away from "absolute" but I'm not sure what you mean by "conventional".


By conventional I mean that they are not absolutely objective for everyone, everywhere, and all times, but are conventional or what men or societies agree them to be (subjective). A good example is morality. The atheist can’t have an objective, absolute morality within his worldview. All is relative: “What’s true for you is not true for me.” “What’s moral for you is not moral for me.” “What’s logically for you is not logical for me.”

I’m not the least bit surprised at your answer that they are not absolute. But you must then explain how you can argue for the truth of your “answer leans away from absolute”? To do so, you have to use the law of non-contradiction and assume that this law is absolute to make your argument that laws of logic are not absolute. Such is life in a relativist’s worldview, absent a Creator God



I can't confirm that either of those statements is right.


Why can’t you know that the universe did not create itself from nothing and that it could not have always been here. If you do not want to use logic, there are scientific laws that confirm this. Can you admit that the proposition of nothing creating itself is absurd on the face of it? If not, I must ask if you know you exist?


To be clear, I'm not a fan of Richard Dawkins. I haven't read any of his books. I just use his scale to describe my position. You'd be a 1; you're 100 per cent sure that God exists. I'm near the opposite end of the scale but I'm less than 100% sure that He doesn't.


There's only a very remote chance (to me) that either Heaven or Hell exists, so the possibility of going to one or the other is of little importance - like your interest in a trip to Atlantis.


I do not accept your argument that the existence of Heaven or Hell are remote. If there were no Hell, then you would have to live with Hillary for an eternity—which would be Hell. God exists because of the impossibility of the alternative. If God did not always exist, you or the universe could not exist now.

I come from a scientific mindset (mainstream science, that is, not science as defined in this forum). Being wrong holds no terrors for me. Wrongness, like rightness, is asymptotic; it's always possible to be less wrong about something.


I must remind you that you have stated that truth can’t be reached and logic is not absolute. For you to be wrong about what is true, truth must first exist and it must be absolutely true for everyone, everywhere, and all times. In your worldview, you could not rail against the injustice of a false witness against you in a court of law. For a false witness to exist, truth must exist.

The problem with "Ultimate Truth" is that Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. all use the same reasoning to arrive at it but they arrive at different places. The closest we can come to ultimate truth, I believe, is objective truth. If people with different worldviews, biases, etc. can agree on something, it's true.


If there were no Ultimate Truth (God and His word), then no truth, morality, laws of logic, uniformity of nature (unchangeable physical laws), rational thought could exist.

The Koran can’t be true because is is self-contradictory in many areas. The Bible is not.

Then you argue for “objective truth.” If truth is determined by different worldviews, biases, then truth is not objective but subjective or “what’s true for you is not true for me.” But then the atheist has to believe it is absolutely true that truth is not absolute.

TeeJay


#49 ringo

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 01:41 PM

Is what you posted here true? If it is true, then you premise that “you can never quite get to the truth” is false.


What I have posted here is as close to true as I can make it. You're talking about absolute truth. I'm not.

By conventional I mean that they are not absolutely objective for everyone, everywhere, and all times, but are conventional or what men or societies agree them to be (subjective).


You're using different definitions of objective and subjective than I would use. If you and I can agree on something - the colour of he sky or the length of a two-by-four - then we're being objective. It doesn't take universal agreement, only operational agreement. What you call objective, I would call absolute and I would dispute that logic needs to be absolute.

I’m not the least bit surprised at your answer that they are not absolute. But you must then explain how you can argue for the truth of your “answer leans away from absolute”? To do so, you have to use the law of non-contradiction and assume that this law is absolute to make your argument that laws of logic are not absolute.


Some things may be absolute and others may not. If some parts of logic may be necessarily absolute, others may not. Once again, I am not arguing for "the truth" of my answer because I don't recognize that "the truth" is absolute.

Can you admit that the proposition of nothing creating itself is absurd on the face of it?


No.

First, absurdity and truth are not mutually exclusve. Absurdity is highly subjective.

Second, "nothing can create itself" argues against God. A self-creating or self-existing universe makes just as much sense as a self-existing or self-creating God.

If not, I must ask if you know you exist?


This seems like a really difficult concept for you. Posted Image No, I don't know absolutely that I exist. I'm fairly sure that I exist, like I'm fairly sure that France exists and fairly sure that Bigfoot doesn't.

I do not accept your argument that the existence of Heaven or Hell are remote. If there were no Hell, then you would have to live with Hillary for an eternity—which would be Hell. God exists because of the impossibility of the alternative.


It sounds like you're saying you don't like the alternative, like you don't like the prospect of living with Hillary. It' a far cry from wishing it was so to proving that it's so.

In your worldview, you could not rail against the injustice of a false witness against you in a court of law. For a false witness to exist, truth must exist.


Not at all. In a court of law, we're talking about objective truth - what the judge and jury believe is true - not absolute truth. In a court of law, we're talking about objective justice - what the legislators and the courts believe is just - not absolute justice.

If there were no Ultimate Truth (God and His word), then no truth, morality, laws of logic, uniformity of nature (unchangeable physical laws), rational thought could exist.


Absolute morality may be impossible without absolute truth but operational morality isn't. Didn't the apostle Paul say in Romans 2 that even the heathen can obey the law without knowing the law, through their consciences? Personally, I believe a morality based on empathy is superior to any other.

As for physical laws, that's a whole subject by itself, if you're interested in pursung it..

Then you argue for “objective truth.” If truth is determined by different worldviews, biases, then truth is not objective but subjective or “what’s true for you is not true for me.”


You seem to misunderstand what I mean by objective. Take these three sentences:

-- The Christian measures the two-by-four.

-- The Muslim mesures the two by-four.

-- The atheist measures the two-by-four.

The subjects of the three sentences are, respectively, the Christian, the Muslim and the atheist. The object of all three sentences is the two-by-four. If the three subjects can agree on the length of the object, irrespective of any differences in their worldviews, they're being objective. The "true" length of the two-by-four is the one they agree on. There is, of course, always the chance that they're all wrong.

#50 Teejay

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 03:16 PM

Any moderator tuning in,

I would like to confirm if the agnostic (Ringo) from Canada exists? The response In Post 49 the writer says he is not sure he exists. Before I spend time posting further responses, I would like to confirm that I am indeed corresponding with a real person who is an agnostic who lives in Canada? Perhaps there is a computer somewhere sending out random messages?

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#51 JayShel

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 07:03 PM

Any moderator tuning in,

I would like to confirm if the agnostic (Ringo) from Canada exists? The response In Post 49 the writer says he is not sure he exists. Before I spend time posting further responses, I would like to confirm that I am indeed corresponding with a real person who is an agnostic who lives in Canada? Perhaps there is a computer somewhere sending out random messages?

TeeJay


I cannot confirm wether it is a computer sending random messages, or an actual person, or even a ghost, but regardless, something that is producing messages exists by evidence of the messages being posted. It is illogical to think that messages are appearing on the forum with no cause.

#52 Teejay

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 08:00 AM

JS, Good point! Something or someone THAT EXISTS is sending me information.

Ringo, before I post anymore messages to you, can you convince me that you are a real person who lives in Canada? Should I believe that what you say is TRUE--that you don't know if you exist? If I accept what you tell me to be true, how can I then dialogue with someone who does not exist?

TeeJay

#53 ringo

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 12:52 PM

Ringo, before I post anymore messages to you, can you convince me that you are a real person who lives in Canada?


Probably not. If you're determined to harden your heart against me, I probably can't convince you of anything.

But I'm not here to convince you of anything. If you get any new insights into how atheists and agnostics think, my visit here has been a success.

Should I believe that what you say is TRUE--that you don't know if you exist?


You yourself should have a certain confidence level in whether or not I exist. If you throw a bottle with a message into the ocean, you'd have a fairly low expectation of getting a response. If you send a message to me, you can have a fairly high level of confidence that I will reply. You can not have absolute confidence in me , of course, because I might drop dead before I get a chance to reply.

If I accept what you tell me to be true, how can I then dialogue with someone who does not exist?


You replied to me initially; I didn't solicit this exchange. If you want to withdraw, feel free. The 99% of me that probably exists is willing to continue.

#54 Teejay

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 01:31 PM

[quote] name='ringo' timestamp='1339962726' post='84401']
Probably not. If you're determined to harden your heart against me, I probably can't convince you of anything.

But I'm not here to convince you of anything. If you get any new insights into how atheists and agnostics think, my visit here has been a success.

You yourself should have a certain confidence level in whether or not I exist. If you throw a bottle with a message into the ocean, you'd have a fairly low expectation of getting a response. If you send a message to me, you can have a fairly high level of confidence that I will reply. You can not have absolute confidence in me , of course, because I might drop dead before I get a chance to reply.[/quote]

You posted: "No, I don't know absolutely that I exist." So in spite of your post, you want me to have a "high level of confidence" that you do exist? What can I do to convince you that you exist? You said that you "might drop dead before I get a chance to reply." Don't you first have to exist and be alive before you can drop dead?

[quote]You replied to me initially; I didn't solicit this exchange. If you want to withdraw, feel free. The 99% of me that probably exists is willing to continue.
[/quote]

Yes, I did respond to you--which is permitted. The theme of this thread is why don't you believe God exists. How can I convince someone of God's existence when he does not believe in his own existence?

So, again, I ask a simple question: Do you exist?

a. Yes.
b. No.

TeeJay

#55 ringo

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 01:59 PM

How can I convince someone of God's existence when he does not believe in his own existence?

That would be your problem, not mine. Posted Image

You seem to be starting from the conclusion and trying to reverse engneer the logic to arrive at the premises - and then you're demanding that I accept your premises without question. That's a misuse of logic.

As I said earlier, logic is a tool, like a drill. It's only useful when it's used properly - i.e. when it's applied to something real. Right now, you're waving your drill in mid air. You have to touch something real with it to accomplish anything.

The only way we can communicate is if we start on some common ground and move out from there. We need to find premises that we can agree on and use logic to see where they lead us. That's the way to arrive at truth, not by assuming you're already there.

#56 Teejay

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 05:23 PM

Aelyn,

At the outset of our dialogue, you asked if it would be okay for you to quit at any time. I told you that as far as I knew there were no forum rules against your bowing out. You can take your bat and ball and go home anytime you decide.

You are upset with me because I have challenged your belief system and showed it to be illogical and irrational. And, Aleyn, I don’t have to “pretend” to be certain that you actually believe what you post. I know you believe it. But believing something does not make it true. I have a request as well. I would like you to read your own posts and rethink them.

You are “tired of me repeating the exact same arguments.” I’m as tired of making them as you are. If you want me to quit highlighting your irrationality, then quit being irrational. If your basic premise is false, there are no words you can use to magically make it true. If you don’t believe me, then get a logic book and verify that what I showing you is true.

You post: “Yes. That is, I believe reality exists and as far as I can tell it's the same thing. I don't believe humans can know that truth however, our beliefs can only approximate it. Which is good enough in my opinion.”

Here you assert that humans can’t know truth. You are a human. How then can you KNOW that your assertion is true? Basically, you are asking me to accept your violation of the law of non-contradiction that we can know truth and we can’t know truth at the same time in the same way. Your basic premise—that “humans can’t know truth”—is false.

You post: “It is perfectly possible for truth to be absolute but for humans to be unable to be absolutely certain….”

Are you CERTAIN of this? You are asking me to accept your illogical reasoning that we can be CERTAIN that we can’t be CERTAIN. In the Christian worldview, it is not possible to be certain and not certain at the same time and in the same way.

I asked: “How can you use the law of non-contradiction in a relativistic worldview?”


You answered: “By being very very very very very certain it works. And observing every time I use it that it does work. You are acting as if it is impossible to act on uncertain beliefs, even if the uncertainty involved is so small it's negligible for all practical purposes. I don't understand why you would do that, when people in every day life act on beliefs that are a lot more uncertain than that.”

Aleyn, you observance of the law of non-contradiction working does not make it absolute, invariant, and universal. You could never, never, never, never observe your car parked in the garage and not parked in the garage at the same time in the say way. Two contradictory statements can’t both be true, and we should be able to accept this simple truth as absolutely true by reasoning rationally using laws of logic.

I asked you: “Do you believe that the laws of logic are absolute or do you believe they are conventional (what’s agreed upon by men or a society)?”


Just as you can’t admit truth exists, you just could not bring yourself to answer that they are absolute. Instead you answered: “I believe that the laws of logic are how our Universe really works. As I told you many times.”

I showed you what happens to a relativist when he or she rejects truth. Denying that the laws of logic are absolute, invariant, and universal is an even worse dilemma for you. First I must correct you that the laws of logic “are how our universe really works.” This is a weak atheistic attempt to justify how laws of logic can exist in an atheist’s materialistic worldview.

Your response fails for a number of reasons. First, laws of logic are conceptual in nature. They do not describe aspects of the universe. Rather, they describe the correct chain of reasoning from premises to conclusions. Second, if laws of logic were descriptions of the physical universe, then we might expect different regions of the universe to have different laws of logic, but the laws of logic apply everywhere. Third, we would have no way of knowing (and therefore no reason to expect) that the laws of logic apply in the future as they have in the past, since no one has experienced the universe’s future. If they were descriptions of how the universe worked, then the laws of logic would have to change as well.

What happens when the atheistic relativist asserts that the law of non-contradiction is not absolute? He is in the unenviable position of having to assume that it is absolute to argue that it is not absolute. You had to use truth and assume it was absolute to argue that it was not absolute. You had to be CERTAIN that there were no CERTAINTIES. Such is life as an atheist where only matter and energy exists.

All atheists I have encountered shy away from absolutes like Dracula looking at a crucifix. Why? Because if they admit that there is absolute truth or the laws of logic are absolute, they are getting dangerously close go God. They believe that only matter and energy exists; yet they must use God’s immaterial laws of logic to argue that only matter and energy exists. They deny truth exists but then try to justify why their worldview is true. They argue that morality is relative or “what’s moral for you is not moral for me.” All truth, logic, and morality must be relative to argue for their worldview.

Aelyn, please notice how you can’t consistently live in the worldview you’ve created for yourself.

You posted: “
You know I started getting a lot more offended at this kind of comment when I realized that you guys use ‘equivocate’ as a euphemism for ‘lying’.” (I explained to you that I did not mean equivocate in that sense. And I in no way accused you of being purposely untruthful.)

Notice you’ve become morally indignant of being accused of lying. To lie is to distort the truth or to speak that which is not true. But how can you do this if truth does not exist and you can’t know what is true?

Notice too that you are claiming absolute morality here. God says, “Thou shall not bear false witness…” For the Christian, lying and bearing false witness is wrong because God says it’s wrong. You can’t really argue it’s wrong. When you do so, you are stepping out of your worldview and borrowing from the Christian worldview. When you do this, you affirm your worldview to be false and the Christian worldview true.

Do you agree that there is no further point in our dialoging to reach truth if you believe you know it’s TRUE that you can’t know truth? If you do decide to leave, I pray our dialogue will at least persuade you to re-evaluate the atheist worldview to see if your set of presuppositions accurately reflect what you encounter in reality.

TeeJay


#57 Teejay

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 05:18 AM

[quote] name='ringo' timestamp='1339966791' post='84404']
That would be your problem, not mine. Posted Image

You seem to be starting from the conclusion and trying to reverse engneer the logic to arrive at the premises - and then you're demanding that I accept your premises without question. That's a misuse of logic.

As I said earlier, logic is a tool, like a drill. It's only useful when it's used properly - i.e. when it's applied to something real. Right now, you're waving your drill in mid air. You have to touch something real with it to accomplish anything.

The only way we can communicate is if we start on some common ground and move out from there. We need to find premises that we can agree on and use logic to see where they lead us. That's the way to arrive at truth, not by assuming you're already there.
[/quote]

Ringo,

I would like to dialogue with you. And I agree that we have to start on "common ground." Let's start with "Do you exist?" If you can't give me a definite yes, then what's the point? But since you don't exist, can I empty out your bank account, confiscate your car, and live in your house in the summer when it's too hot down here in Texas?

TeeJay

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#58 ringo

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 09:07 AM

Let's start with "Do you exist?" If you can't give me a definite yes, then what's the point?


Do I have a nickel in my pocket right now? Yes or no?

If you're honest, you'll admit that you don't know. It isn't a fair question. It's true that either there is a nickel in my pocket or there isn't but you have no way of knowing which it is.

You could make an educated guess. You could say it's more likely that I have a nickel than a thousand-dollar bill. But you can't know absolutely.

In fact, I don't know if there's a nickel in my pocket right now, though I have a better chance of finding out than you do. I can make a more educated guess than you because I know that I usually take small change out of my pockets and don't carry anything smaller than a quarter. But I can't be absolutely sure that I've done that since the last time I got a nickel.

So, the honest answer is that I don't know and you don't know.

But since you don't exist, can I empty out your bank account, confiscate your car, and live in your house in the summer when it's too hot down here in Texas?


That's a very good example. My bank account is evidence that I exist. The bank is so confident that I exist that they give me money. If the teller was hallucinating my existence and passing money into thin air, the bank would take steps to remedy the situation.

If course you don't know my account number, so even if you knew absolutely that I exist, you still couldn't make use of that knowledge. In the long run, what little absolute knowledge we have is less useful than relative knowledge.

#59 aelyn

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 01:50 PM

Aelyn,

At the outset of our dialogue, you asked if it would be okay for you to quit at any time. I told you that as far as I knew there were no forum rules against your bowing out. You can take your bat and ball and go home anytime you decide.

You are upset with me because I have challenged your belief system and showed it to be illogical and irrational.

So does Jesus confer mind-reading powers onto his followers ? That might almost tempt me to join. You know, if any of the attempts at reading my mind I've seen on this forum had actually worked.

And, Aleyn, I don’t have to “pretend” to be certain that you actually believe what you post. I know you believe it. But believing something does not make it true. I have a request as well. I would like you to read your own posts and rethink them.

Okay, but you don't seem to have the faintest idea what I believe. If you did you'd be asking questions about those beliefs, not beliefs I've repeatedly told you I don't hold.

You post: “Yes. That is, I believe reality exists and as far as I can tell it's the same thing. I don't believe humans can know that truth however, our beliefs can only approximate it. Which is good enough in my opinion.”

Here you assert that humans can’t know truth. You are a human. How then can you KNOW that your assertion is true?

Sweet ice cream on a waffle cone, I CAN'T. AND I DON'T. Humans are in fact capable of writing things they don't KNOW are true. Look, this will blow your mind :
The sky is green.
The sky is blue because dilithium crystals diffuse sunlight.
Dilithium crystals don't exist.
The capital of Mongolia is Ulan Bator.
The GDP of South Korea increased between 2005 and 2010.
Ringo does not have a nickel in his pocket.

It so happens I hold beliefs on every one of those sentences, to varying levels of confidence ! If you ask me what I base those beliefs on I can answer for each one. And I have explained to you several of the things on which I base my beliefs on truth. But let's try an executive summary : I believe reality exists because the evidence I get from my senses, from interacting with other people directly and indirectly (though books f'rex) yield a picture that as far as I can tell is extremely consistent, and I have no real evidence for the alternative - I can't even tell if the alternative is a well-formed hypothesis. I believe humans can't know this reality perfectly because humans disagree on many aspects of reality, our scientific understanding of reality has been following an asymptotic trajectory, and basically the only way we have of learning about reality is through our interactions with it but this means that any aspect of reality we don't interact with we can never find out about. It is also clear that the perception of reality our brain creates is not a perfect match to reality, and how good it is can vary widely, sometimes without us realizing.

None of these reasons yield an absolute 100% certainty that reality exists and that humans can't know it, but they do yield a very high confidence which for all practical purposes works like certainty. Certainly a higher level of confidence than what I need to write things on the internet.

Please try to grapple with the concept of not being certain, including not being certain you're not certain. It is not self-contradictory, if anything it's self-reinforcing. You could multiply my level of certainty in a belief, by my level of certainty in that level of certainty, by my level of certainty in that level of certainty in that level of certainty, and so on, and the series can converge pretty quickly to a single number without any of those levels of certainty needing to be 1. Except that in practice, all that recursive "how sure am I of being this sure of being this sure (...) of being this sure of X" just comes down to "what do I think of X and why ?". KNOWing X doesn't need to come into it at all.

You know it would be one thing if we weren't using words like "CERTAIN" and "KNOW" in the same way and thus talking past each other, but I've explained what I meant by absolute 100% certainty (basically, that no contrary evidence could ever convince me otherwise) and you didn't disagree with it so I don't see how that could be the problem.

You post: “It is perfectly possible for truth to be absolute but for humans to be unable to be absolutely certain….”

Are you CERTAIN of this? You are asking me to accept your illogical reasoning that we can be CERTAIN that we can’t be CERTAIN.

No, I'm not. You clearly have no idea what I'm saying. My repeated use of the phrase "highly confident" should be a clue. Or do you think "highly confident" means CERTAIN too ? I mean, I assume that "know" or "certain" in all-caps means "absolute-100%-impossible-to-change-one's-mind-on certainty" to you.

I asked: “How can you use the law of non-contradiction in a relativistic worldview?”

You answered: “By being very very very very very certain it works. And observing every time I use it that it does work. You are acting as if it is impossible to act on uncertain beliefs, even if the uncertainty involved is so small it's negligible for all practical purposes. I don't understand why you would do that, when people in every day life act on beliefs that are a lot more uncertain than that.”

Aleyn, you observance of the law of non-contradiction working does not make it absolute, invariant, and universal. You could never, never, never, never observe your car parked in the garage and not parked in the garage at the same time in the say way. Two contradictory statements can’t both be true, and we should be able to accept this simple truth as absolutely true by reasoning rationally using laws of logic.

Teejay, are you trying to prove axioms again ? It's kind of you to suggest that I read books on logic but maybe you could take your own advice. And anyway I'm not the one claiming the law of non-contradiction is absolute, invariant, or universal, and I don't see why I'd need to make such a claim. My observations indicate that law is extremely fundamental, seeing as it's hardwired in our brains and has been confirmed every single way humans have been able to find, so if anything is a fundamental feature of the Universe that law is. That's a strong enough conclusion for me.

I asked you: “Do you believe that the laws of logic are absolute or do you believe they are conventional (what’s agreed upon by men or a society)?”

Just as you can’t admit truth exists, you just could not bring yourself to answer that they are absolute. Instead you answered: “I believe that the laws of logic are how our Universe really works. As I told you many times.”

I showed you what happens to a relativist when he or she rejects truth. Denying that the laws of logic are absolute, invariant, and universal is an even worse dilemma for you. First I must correct you that the laws of logic “are how our universe really works.” This is a weak atheistic attempt to justify how laws of logic can exist in an atheist’s materialistic worldview.

Um, so the Universe doesn't follow the laws of logic ?

Your response fails for a number of reasons. First, laws of logic are conceptual in nature. They do not describe aspects of the universe.

Oh, so your earlier statement about a car being and not being in a garage had nothing to do with the law of non-contradiction then ?
Anyway drawing a distinction between the "conceptual" and "aspects of the universe" won't help you much with a materialist, seeing as we think concepts come from brains and brains are part of the universe.

Rather, they describe the correct chain of reasoning from premises to conclusions. Second, if laws of logic were descriptions of the physical universe, then we might expect different regions of the universe to have different laws of logic, but the laws of logic apply everywhere.

I don't know what you think "descriptions of the physical universe" means. A description of the physical universe describes the universe. It applies everywhere. We do not expect different regions of the universe to follow different laws of physics; when we find that they do it shows us our understanding of the laws of physics was wrong and we need to improve it. There are different approximations of the laws of physics than can work differently in different regions of the universe, and non-fundamental laws of physics could be different in different places, but those laws and the differences between them would emanate from actual fundamental laws of physics that are same everywhere; it's that or the universe is fundamentally inconsistent, i.e. the laws of logic wouldn't be true either. And there is no sign this is the case. You might be thinking different because we don't know what the fundamental laws of physics are, and you're confusing our approximations of those laws with the actual laws. But those are in fact two different things. And while we don't know what the fundamental laws of physics are we can be pretty confident we do know what the laws of logic are, seeing as unlike our understanding of the laws of physics our understanding of logic has never been proved fundamentally wrong (it has still improved though). But that's a statement of our understanding, not proof that the laws of logic are more fundamental than the real laws of physics.

And anyway, have you been to beyond the observable universe lately ? While you were there did you notice a complete lack of cars that were both in and not in the garage ?

Third, we would have no way of knowing (and therefore no reason to expect) that the laws of logic apply in the future as they have in the past, since no one has experienced the universe’s future. If they were descriptions of how the universe worked, then the laws of logic would have to change as well.

Only if we were committing a mind-projection fallacy. How does our ability to know the laws of logic affect the laws of logic themselves exactly ? I could decide that the law of non-contradiction no longer applies tomorrow, and if I did that I would immediately start drawing false conclusions about the world. That's the difference between something that's all in my head and something that's in the world. If I feel hungry then I am hungry (although it doesn't necessarily mean my stomach is empty or that I physically need food). If I feel that butterflies have eight legs the number of legs on butterflies is completely unaffected. And if I feel that contradictions can exist, there still won't be a car and no car in my garage, as you so rightly pointed out. Our lack of ability to know whether the laws of logic will still exist tomorrow won't cause them to change from day to day. At least it hasn't up to now Posted Image

What happens when the atheistic relativist asserts that the law of non-contradiction is not absolute? He is in the unenviable position of having to assume that it is absolute to argue that it is not absolute. You had to use truth and assume it was absolute to argue that it was not absolute. You had to be CERTAIN that there were no CERTAINTIES. Such is life as an atheist where only matter and energy exists.

All atheists I have encountered shy away from absolutes like Dracula looking at a crucifix.

Really ? I thought we affirmed ABSOLUTELY that there were no absolutes, and that we're CERTAIN we're not certain ?
I do shy away from absolutes. You don't seem to realize to what extent. Or at least you're arguing as if you didn't, which is why your arguments can't work. They're not addressing my position at all. If you really wanted to argue productively while sticking to your contention that I KNOW I don't know, you'd have to demonstrate that I do in fact KNOW that. I have no idea how you'd demonstrate this but at least you'd be arguing against a position I actually hold, and not just asserting I don't hold it.

Why? Because if they admit that there is absolute truth or the laws of logic are absolute, they are getting dangerously close go God. They believe that only matter and energy exists; yet they must use God’s immaterial laws of logic to argue that only matter and energy exists. They deny truth exists but then try to justify why their worldview is true. They argue that morality is relative or “what’s moral for you is not moral for me.” All truth, logic, and morality must be relative to argue for their worldview.

Aelyn, please notice how you can’t consistently live in the worldview you’ve created for yourself.

You mean the worldview you've created for me. I'd really love for someone to point out the inconsistencies in my own worldview, I don't want to go around with inconsistent beliefs if I can avoid it. But the worldview you've been poking holes in is not mine.

You posted: “You know I started getting a lot more offended at this kind of comment when I realized that you guys use ‘equivocate’ as a euphemism for ‘lying’.” (I explained to you that I did not mean equivocate in that sense. And I in no way accused you of being purposely untruthful.)

Yes, thank you for that. I'll never be comfortable with people talking about equivocation around me in a forum where many of the people who've been banned have "equivocation" as one of the causes, but I appreciate that you clarified what you meant, and I apologize for saying you were one of "you guys" when you don't feel that way. Everyone who was here before I came on is an old-timer to me Posted Image

Notice you’ve become morally indignant of being accused of lying. To lie is to distort the truth or to speak that which is not true. But how can you do this if truth does not exist and you can’t know what is true?

I can have opinions on what is true. And when we say things that are contrary to our opinions, that's lying. Even when those aren't absolutely certain opinions. If someone thinks the raspberry jam is in the cupboard because that's where it always is and they saw it there this morning (but their roommate actually moved it to the fridge after lunch without them knowing), and you ask them where the jam is and they answer "I don't know", are they lying ?

Notice too that you are claiming absolute morality here. God says, “Thou shall not bear false witness…” For the Christian, lying and bearing false witness is wrong because God says it’s wrong. You can’t really argue it’s wrong. When you do so, you are stepping out of your worldview and borrowing from the Christian worldview. When you do this, you affirm your worldview to be false and the Christian worldview true.

lol, Christians didn't come up with the concept that lying is wrong. Whether you think morality comes from God or somewhere else, the basics of it are instilled in people and all societies have codes of conduct, and they tend to be similar on the basics. And I absolutely can argue that lying is wrong; the fundamental assumptions of a moral system are at the level of what the basic values are (harm, hierarchy, purity, fairness, order, etc) and what their comparative importance is. Concepts like "lying is wrong" are higher-order moral statements that can be justified in light of the basic values. For example you can say that people have a duty to provide each other with as accurate information as we can because inaccurate information can lead to people making bad decisions (harm), that lying decreases the trust people have in each other that they need to cooperate (order), that it sets up an uneven playing field between the liar and the lied-to (fairness), that white lies make one more likely to say harmful lies in the long run (purity), etc.
You know, kind of how logic requires unprovable axioms and those are used to prove higher-order statements.

Do you agree that there is no further point in our dialoging to reach truth if you believe you know it’s TRUE that you can’t know truth?

I certainly agree there is no further point in our dialoguing if you can't even pretend to accept the basic fact that I DON'T KNOW IT'S TRUE THAT I CAN'T KNOW TRUTH.

#60 Teejay

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 09:46 PM

So does Jesus confer mind-reading powers onto his followers ? That might almost tempt me to join. You know, if any of the attempts at reading my mind I've seen on this forum had actually worked.


Aleyn, then is it TRUE that you are “not upset”?

If you accepted Jesus Christ because you mistakenly judged me to have mind reading powers, you would still spend an eternity in Hell apart from your Creator God. But there are some valid reasons to accept Jesus Christ:

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is [exists] , and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). But God does not expect blind faith. Jesus Himself said that if He bore witness of Himself, don’t believe Him (John 5:31).

Atheists (and some Christians) “suppress the truth” (even to denying that truth exists) (Rom. 1:18). Paul wrote, “What may be known of God is manifest [evident] in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…” (Rom. 1:19-20).

But the main reason to accept Jesus Christ is that He came in the flesh, died for your sins, and rose from the dead—never to die again. But you must first believe that truth exists, that it’s true that God the Son exists, and then accept His sacrifice for you (Rom. 10:9-10).

I am working on step one, that truth exists and you can know truth. In my youth, step one was not an obstacle. Then relativism reared its ugly head.


Okay, but you don't seem to have the faintest idea what I believe. If you did you'd be asking questions about those beliefs, not beliefs I've repeatedly told you I don't hold.


Okay, I will ask questions: How or where did you get the notion that you can’t know truth? Aleyn, I assumed and asserted that you have been fed this—most likely by a liberal, atheist professor or teacher. Why do I assert this? Because I’ve encountered this silly relativism with my grandchildren who are in liberal colleges. I find it hard to believe that you could have come up with this on your own. One must be convinced at a young age that we know we can’t know and we are certain that we are not certain. Now if you tell me that you got into the Matrix on your own, then I have to believe you. But the good news is that I’m here to convince you that you can cut yourself loose.


Sweet ice cream on a waffle cone, I CAN'T. AND I DON'T. Humans are in fact capable of writing things they don't KNOW are true. Look, this will blow your mind :
The sky is green.
The sky is blue because dilithium crystals diffuse sunlight.
Dilithium crystals don't exist.
The capital of Mongolia is Ulan Bator.
The GDP of South Korea increased between 2005 and 2010.
Ringo does not have a nickel in his pocket.

It so happens I hold beliefs on every one of those sentences, to varying levels of confidence ! If you ask me what I base those beliefs on I can answer for each one. And I have explained to you several of the things on which I base my beliefs on truth. But let's try an executive summary : I believe reality exists because the evidence I get from my senses, from interacting with other people directly and indirectly (though books f'rex) yield a picture that as far as I can tell is extremely consistent, and I have no real evidence for the alternative - I can't even tell if the alternative is a well-formed hypothesis. I believe humans can't know this reality perfectly because humans disagree on many aspects of reality, our scientific understanding of reality has been following an asymptotic trajectory, and basically the only way we have of learning about reality is through our interactions with it but this means that any aspect of reality we don't interact with we can never find out about. It is also clear that the perception of reality our brain creates is not a perfect match to reality, and how good it is can vary widely, sometimes without us realizing.

None of these reasons yield an absolute 100% certainty that reality exists and that humans can't know it, but they do yield a very high confidence which for all practical purposes works like certainty. Certainly a higher level of confidence than what I need to write things on the internet.

Please try to grapple with the concept of not being certain, including not being certain you're not certain. It is not self-contradictory, if anything it's self-reinforcing. You could multiply my level of certainty in a belief, by my level of certainty in that level of certainty, by my level of certainty in that level of certainty in that level of certainty, and so on, and the series can converge pretty quickly to a single number without any of those levels of certainty needing to be 1. Except that in practice, all that recursive "how sure am I of being this sure of being this sure (...) of being this sure of X" just comes down to "what do I think of X and why ?". KNOWing X doesn't need to come into it at all.

You know it would be one thing if we weren't using words like "CERTAIN" and "KNOW" in the same way and thus talking past each other, but I've explained what I meant by absolute 100% certainty (basically, that no contrary evidence could ever convince me otherwise) and you didn't disagree with it so I don't see how that could be the problem.


When last I dialogued with Ringo, he was not sure he existed. And I like butter brickle ice cream Aleyn, I’m sure you have more education than I. I got out of HS by promising my principal that I would go into the military. He said I needed discipline. I am self-educated. I read a lot.

There are three fundamental laws of thought that govern all rational thinking:

(1) The law of non-contradiction (A is not non-A). Without the law of non-contradiction we could not say that your car can’t be in the garage and not in the garage at the same time in the same way. This law could not be violated in the past, it can’t be violated presently, and it can never be violated in the future. It is absolute, invariant, and universal. Can you admit that it is true that your car can’t possibly be in the garage and not in the garage at the same time in the same way?

The law of identity (God is God, TeeJay is TeeJay, Aleyn is Aleyn). Without this law, you could not be identical to yourself. You could be someone other than yourself—which is absurd. Can you admit that it’s true that Aleyn can’t ever be other than Aleyn. (Now of course we are assuming you’re Aleyn.)

The law of the excluded middle (either or). If this law did not exist, you could not ever know who’s posting—TeeJay or Ringo? Without it, you could not even refer to Ringo and not refer to Ringo. Can you agree with me that it is EITHER true that you can know truth OR true that you can’t know truth but not both?

These laws of thought are self-evident and do not need any defense. As regards the law of identity, the predicate says the same thing as the subject or A is A. There is a way of defending the truth of these laws as self-evident. They can’t be denied without using them. Any attempt by a relativist to deny the law of non-contradiction is self-destructive. It’s like arguing, “I think I can’t think.” “I know I can’t know.” “I’m certain I can’t be certain.” In each case, the relativist is doing what he claims he can’t do.

The atheistic relativist has the same problem when he denies that God exists. To argue against God’s existence, the atheist must use God-given attributes to argue against the God he denies.

In his worldview only matter exists; yet he uses the immaterial laws of logic and thought to argue that only matter exists. If his worldview were true—that only matter exists--he could not reason or use laws of logic. He could really know nothing. He can’t justify what he is doing and he is inconsistent with his worldview.

An honest atheist will not argue that morality is absolute. And most I have encountered accept a relativistic morality or “what’s right for you is not right for me.” But there is a problem with this. Just as two contradictory statements can’t both be true and false at the same time and in the same way, murder of the innocent (say) can’t be both moral and immoral at the same time. Moral inconsistency is a determinant for immorality. And it get’s worse for the atheist. It can’t be true that it is both moral and immoral to murder the innocent at the same time in the same way. For it is either true that murder of the innocent is immoral or it is true that murder of the innocent is moral. Both can’t be true. But how does the atheist justify one or the other absent a God? He can’t.

Atheists claim to be “scientific” while we Christians rely on a blind faith in a God. But to do scientific experiments, the atheist must trust that there is uniformity of nature, that the physical laws will not change and will remain law-like. The atheist believes that the laws will remain the same tomorrow as they have today, but he has no rational reason to believe so. His belief, within his worldview, is an arbitrary one. If the universe is the result of an unguided “big bang” and humans are an accident of chemicals, why should there be any laws of physics or laws of logic at all? Most atheists argue they can know the physical laws will not change in the future because they have remained law-like in the past. But this is circular reasoning or begging the question. He is assuming that the future will be like the past because in the past the future was like the past. He is assuming that which he is trying to prove.

In the materialistic worldview of the atheist, abstracts such as liberty, justice, dignity or insulting one’s sensitivities can’t really exist. Matter or energy will not give you these immaterial things.

The transcendental proof for God is that the atheist denies God’s existence but then is inconsistent and uses laws of logic, reasons, trusts in uniformity of nature, becomes righteously indignant at injustices he encounters, ponders the abstracts, and so on. As C. S. Lewis put it, when the atheist gets upset that a line is crooked, he should ask himself why he knows the line should be straight [paraphrased].

I must address this: “Oh, so your earlier statement about a car being and not being in a garage had nothing to do with the law of non-contradiction then ?
Anyway drawing a distinction between the "conceptual" and "aspects of the universe" won't help you much with a materialist, seeing as we think concepts come from brains and brains are part of the universe.”

First, whether you car is on the Moon or on Earth is not the point. The law of non-contradiction can only tell you that your car can’t be on the Moon and on the Earth at the same time in the same way. The physical laws describe the physical universe. Using the laws of logic, you can reason to know if your description of the physical laws is true or false. The laws of logic do not describe the physical universe. If reasoning were the motion of chemicals in the physical brain, you could not know anything was true—not even that your brain has chemicals.


Your brain is a physical organ. It is part of the physical universe. Ideas and concepts are not physical and can’t come from the physical. The atheist can’t justify or account for them in his materialistic worldview. He is being inconsistent, irrational, and arbitrary.

If the atheist stayed within his worldview, he could not reason, use laws of logic, argue for morality of any kind, or expect uniformity in nature. He has no Ultimate Standard on which to stand.

Aleyn, I don’t want to belabor this any further. Here I answered what I thought was important, if there is something you wish me to address, I will do so. I enjoyed our dialogue. I pray that I gave you an uncomfortable intellectual kidney stone that will not pass until you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (Rom. 10:9-10).

God bless, TeeJay





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