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#1 CTD

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 01:09 PM

I've been undecided on whether or not to discuss the simple issue of assumptions for a while. It's a very important issue, and fundamental to how all reasoning beings reason, yet anything one says about it will amount to nothing more than common sense.

There are those who have common sense, and those who have managed to shed themselves of the burden. There are also those who assume you, the reader, don't have any.

...the general idea that something like relativity is flawed because it contains assumptions

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It is said that all arguments rely upon assumptions. I know they all rely upon presuppositions, and I myself doubt that all presuppositions can be obtained as indisputable conclusions.

The problem with assumptions in an argument is pretty simple and obvious: If I don't make the same assumptions you make, your conclusion has no value to me. Yes, folks, I had to say that for the benefit of those who assume you don't have a lick of sense.

This is not the same thing at all as claiming an argument is wrong because it contains an assumption.

Also notice that my statement makes some assumptions compulsory: those which one applies oneself, one must continue to apply when addressing the discussion. One cannot assume the law of gravity when catching a touchdown pass, and then turn right around and deny the law of gravity in order to oppose a premise.

As relating to origins, the problem of evolutionism is that the assumptions made are not compulsory. Most are in direct conflict with at least one observation, but that's another issue. Even when there is no conflict with observation, you have no right to impose any new assumption upon me (as a participant in honest discussion - I'm not talking about law, in case any ninny intends to equivocate).

The great irony is that assumptions in arguments serve as absolute truths, while those whose arguments rely upon smuggling them in, rather than openly disclosing them are always telling us there is no such thing as absolute truth.

Observe the famous loaded question: "Have you stopped beating your wife?"* The assumption is built into the question as an absolute statement of truth.

But this is true of all assumptions. This is the very reason circular reasoning works: once something is assumed, consistent reasoning requires it to always remain absolutely true. Yet circular reasoning is only the most obvious way to abuse assumption. Suppose we're out to prove a given shape is a square, and we lack the actual evidence. If we can introduce the assumptions that it has four sides; that all sides are equal in length; and that all sides intersect at right angles, we have no need of evidence at all. There is no way for anyone accepting those assumptions to honestly avoid concluding the shape is a square.

Assumption might well be defined as "assertion promoted to absolute truth". You will never find a smuggler of assumptions who is willing to divulge them, for obvious reasons.

*It's not actually the perfect trap the prankster thinks it is, either. One who never commences beating one's wife would be unable to cease, any more than you can put aside your plans to destroy the Andromeda Galaxy with your stockpile of leftover fireworks. But such ploys are not for the benefit of the one presenting the question or the one answering; they are meant exclusively to create an impression on other parties.

#2 Guest_Darkness45_*

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 03:49 PM

I can see how you would be hesitant to start this thread, but I do agree with you. Everything relies on axioms in which there are taken for granted whether they are true or not. And if your axioms differ from mine, it is very unlikely either of us will convince the other that I am right and you are wrong.

However I do disagree that you can't have axioms without claiming absolute truth. One of the axioms of science is that we live in a reality that we can perceive and understand. While this seems like common sense, and I think everyone here agrees with it, it may not be correct even though we use it and live by it.

What I'm trying to say is that many people have different assumptions, and they all can't be right. I'm guessing out of all the assumptions humanity had made, very few of them are actually correct. So while you may think you have absolute truth, you must admit that you may be wrong, no matter how good it sounds or how popular it is. I also think that this is a very hard thing to admit when it comes to your own assumptions, especially when involving huge assumptions that shape the foundation of your world view. Out of all the times I've spent on forums, and I've gathered this from other people to, very few people ever switch sides. I think this is one of the reasons.

How Earth shattering must it be for an atheist who believes with the utmost conviction that there is no God, and then within himself say that there is a God who loves me and I've been living my life in sin which is now naked before the Lord and I need to change? Or to be much more cynical: How devastating would it be for a Christian with the most vigorous faith to proclaim that there is no God? To take away one's foundation they've lived with all their life like that is to destroy the very core of their lives. While these are extreme examples, I think it shows how reluctant people can be in changing their assumptions, and how hard it is for anyone to try. Although people do do it, I think it is a rare thing to do once a conviction has been met within themselves.

Sorry if I went off on too many tangents there, I think it is a fascinating subject to say the least.

#3 CTD

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 09:24 PM

Assumptions have a huge role in discussing evolutionism. All flavours rely upon an unparalleled willingness to assume things.

Consider the following brief list

Life from non-life
One kind giving rise to another
Suspension of all physical laws, that nothing may give rise to something
Some sort of "ordering principle" fundamental to matter
Survival of the Fittest
"C" is a constant
God never did anything
Historic accounts are all false
Given enough time, anything can happen
People are just stupid as all get-out
People of the past were even worse
Reality is dependent upon perception
Imagination can alter reality
No flood
Nothing can alter decay rates
The "mainstream" is always right
Dogmatically accepting a wrong idea is better than confessing no idea and investigating
There are different kinds of truth
Random processes can generate meaningful information
"Experts" can discover things which cannot be known
Counter-intuitive explanations are superior
"Science" (atheism) will someday discover a way to deal with whatever

While an individual evolutionist may "get by" without every single one of these, he who rejects them all will surely not become an evolutionist. Note that not even one of them is compulsory.

#4 CTD

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 09:58 PM

However I do disagree that you can't have axioms without claiming absolute truth.

I assumed folks would understand that I was speaking of persons who are consistent. Those who are inconsistent are another matter.

One of the axioms of science is that we live in a reality that we can perceive and understand. While this seems like common sense, and I think everyone here agrees with it, it may not be correct even though we use it and live by it.

This is an example of a compulsory assumption. Only the disingenuous can argue against it, for everyone employs it all the time.

What I'm trying to say is that many people have different assumptions, and they all can't be right.

They could - if people restricted themselves to compulsory assumptions rather than adopting whatever they like.

I'm guessing out of all the assumptions humanity had made, very few of them are actually correct. So while you may think you have absolute truth, you must admit that you may be wrong, no matter how good it sounds or how popular it is.

The proof is in the pudding. Abandon a compulsory assumption and see how far you get. On paper, it's one thing; in the real world it doesn't work.

There are things one can be wrong about and things one cannot be wrong about (I speak of what one believes - not what one says). Whether or not we can logically derive compulsory assumptions, they are still correct and everyone knows it.

What have you got against certainty?

I also think that this is a very hard thing to admit when it comes to your own assumptions, especially when involving huge assumptions that shape the foundation of your world view. Out of all the times I've spent on forums, and I've gathered this from other people to, very few people ever switch sides. I think this is one of the reasons.

It is very easy to admit optional assumptions may be wrong. By definition that's the case. You're mixing in an argument against knowing where it does not belong. If one can prove something, one doesn't have to resort to assuming it to be so.

How Earth shattering must it be for an atheist who believes with the utmost conviction that there is no God, and then within himself say that there is a God who loves me and I've been living my life in sin which is now naked before the Lord and I need to change? Or to be much more cynical: How devastating would it be for a Christian with the most vigorous faith to proclaim that there is no God? To take away one's foundation they've lived with all their life like that is to destroy the very core of their lives. While these are extreme examples, I think it shows how reluctant people can be in changing their assumptions, and how hard it is for anyone to try. Although people do do it, I think it is a rare thing to do once a conviction has been met within themselves.

Sorry if I went off on too many tangents there, I think it is a fascinating subject to say the least.

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The problem is that you argue as if all assumptions have equal merit. I think "equality" has some sort of appeal to some people, but it doesn't match up with reality. Ideas aren't people, so we don't have to worry about trompling their rights. We can evaluate their merits.

Many assumptions run contrary to observation. This kind has hardly any chance of being true, even on paper. Others are made arbitrarily, and still other assumptions are compulsory. The compulsory assumption is proven by experience. Everyone sees the necessity (even those who deny it) of "assuming" they exist. Refusing to make that "assumption" (which is really the most direct observation possible) results in failure and death.

#5 CTD

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 10:17 PM

Having listed the assumptions upon which evolutionism is built, it is time to turn to creationism.

The categories "true" and "false"
Existence of self and reality
Cause-and-effect
The law of non-contradiction
It is possible to observe
It is possible to communicate
Continuance is a result of principle and law
Interpretation and investigation can lead to truth
The actions of entities are directed by motive and mind
That which works is superior to that which doesn't work

The categorization of these as "assumptions" is a little odd, for they're all compulsory. They form the basis of all proper science and all proper philosophy, and one can prove them by various means, although not to the satisfaction of some philosophers.

I think I have included every assumption a creationist requires. One who starts with this list and maintains it without adding from the other list should not be able to escape creationist conclusions without resorting to logical fallacies.

#6 Guest_martemius_*

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 10:48 PM

Cause-and-effect

Demonstrably false, as shown by the fundamentals of quantum mechanics.

The actions of entities are directed by motive and mind

What, like a rock falling to the ground?

That which works is superior to that which doesn't work

Define "works" and "superior".


Anyways, a number of those assumptions are the same as for scientists. Of course, you neglected to include them in that list.

#7 Guest_martemius_*

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 11:20 PM

If you'd like to go further into any one of these let me know:

One kind giving rise to another

Define "kind"

Suspension of all physical laws, that nothing may give rise to something

Nope.

Some sort of "ordering principle" fundamental to matter

Are you referring to the well-ordering principle, which just says that any group of positive integers has smallest number in it?

Survival of the Fittest

Theory, not assumption.

"C" is a constant

Observation, not assumption.

God never did anything

Sure he could have. "Evolutionists" don't see any reason to think he did, but sure, he could have.

Historic accounts are all false

Spurious.

Given enough time, anything can happen

Worded like that, it's just the law of large numbers, which is a provable mathematical theorem.

People are just stupid as all get-out
People of the past were even worse

Ha, what?

Reality is dependent upon perception

Explain what you mean.

"Imagination can alter reality"
Nonsense, and I've never heard any "evolutionist" claim this.

"No flood"
Not an assumption.

"Nothing can alter decay rates"
Not an assumption. And actually, there's been research done to indicate that decay rates are dependent on environment, but not to nearly the degree that would have a young earth be possible.

"The "mainstream" is always right
Dogmatically accepting a wrong idea is better than confessing no idea and investigating
There are different kinds of truth"
Spurious.

"Random processes can generate meaningful information"
Well, sure. They can generate information about the random processes, at the very least.

""Experts" can discover things which cannot be known"
Such as...?

"Counter-intuitive explanations are superior"
Not true.

""Science" (atheism) will someday discover a way to deal with whatever"
How is this relevant?

#8 Adam Nagy

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 12:03 AM

However I do disagree that you can't have axioms without claiming absolute truth. One of the axioms of science is that we live in a reality that we can perceive and understand. While this seems like common sense, and I think everyone here agrees with it, it may not be correct even though we use it and live by it.

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Take a look at the word I highlighted above and I'll show you the exact location that you smuggled an absolute in to your conversation. :lol:




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