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Monday, July 14, 2014

Dispatches from the Age of Reason

Portions of a true exchange on another form where TOF was amusing himself one day:

Quora Question: Why do people disagree about whether there exists proof of God's existence?

[TOFNote: Notice the question is not whether these proofs are valid or compelling, but only why people disagree about them. However, the Usual Suspects immediately responded with reflex rejection of the conclusion.]

Frank Dauenhauer, literature lover
There can be no disagreement about whether there exists proof of "God's" existence -- because there is none. No proof at all.
TOF
Actually, there are several. The question is what credence is given to them. Hence, the disagreements.

Steve McKerracher
People cite these pseudo mathematical "proofs" as proof of god, but when the "proof" relies entirely on completely unsubstantiated asserted premises (as all "proofs" of god do) it is no proof at all.
[TOFNote: "relies entirely"? Completely. Unsubstantiated. Asserted. Wow. That's a rebuttal. Let us investigate:]
TOF
Aquinas' first proof rests on the premise that some things in the world are changing. This may not be completely unsubstantiated.

Steve McKerracher
There are many other unsubstantiated premises for that "proof".  For  instance, off the top of my head, it is assuming that there must be a  "first mover".

TOF
That's not an assumption of Aristotle's proof. It's a conclusion.

Steve McKerracher
It may not be a premise, as it is concluded, but it is certainly an assumption. [sic!] ...  their conclusions are based on their presuppositions, as are the deductions, and in no way any possible "proof".
[TOFNote: All of Euclid's conclusions are based on his presuppositions, too. But one doubts that Mr. McKerracher would denounce plane geometry. Assuming that he meant "begging the question," TOF invited Mr. McKerracher to provide examples where this was done. After all, competent atheist philosophers like Kenny had questioned the major premise, but had not claimed that argument was circular. But answer, came there none. Oh, well.]
Steve McKerracher
Besides, if this is true, that nothing can initially move itself, you can't logically stop at god.  That is entirely arbitrary.  Something had to move god initially.
[TOFNote: Why did he suppose something had to move the unmoved mover? What part of "unmoved" was it hard to understand? Meanwhile, another respondent had also commented:]
Frank Dauenhauer
A proof that cannot be agreed upon is no proof. It must be incontrovertible, using commonly agreed-upon methods, for example, as used in courts of law. Without agreement, it's only a theory.

[TOFNote: This struck TOF as overly stringent. In natural science, matters are never incontrovertible, but are rather falsifiable. The verdicts of the courts of law are often contested, as far as that goes. But of course, this Incontrovertible Requirement is only trotted out when You-know-who lurks at the end of a syllogism. TOF responded modestly that there might be many reasons why a proof might not be universally agreed upon, among them:]

TOF
Sometimes people don't understand the proof. For  example, there might be a proof that a locally compact separable Hausdorff space is the union of a countable family of compact subsets.
 
[TOFNote: No one responded to this example to say they agreed or disagreed with the proof of it, but no one noticed also the irony in that.]
Mahesh Soori
"Sometimes people who claim to understand the proof and accuse others of not understanding are the ones who doesn't understand the proof in the context of the scientific method."
[TOFNote: Mr. Soori was informed that the scientific method was irrelevant in proving theorems in mathematics or metaphysics and was invited to clarify, but had not done so by post time.] 
TOF
I should probably add that many "don't understand" because many of the terms no longer mean the same thing as they did in Medieval Latin. "Motion," for example, did not mean only motion of location.

Frank Dauenhauer
"OK, so nothing means anything anymore. We should all go back to the Hebrew and be happy believers."

[TOFNote: It is unclear what Mr. Dauenhauer thought Hebrew had to do with it. The Argument from Motion was originally written in Greek and was further developed and commented on in Arabic and Latin. Hebrew is irrelevant. Perhaps he is one of those fundamentalists who obsess with sola old testament scriptura, and that has carried over to his fundamentalist atheism.]

TOF
Another sign of Late Modernity is the disinclination to use reason and logic. In what way does "People writing in that language at that time used words in a different sense" equate to "nothing means anything anymore"?

Frank Dauenhauer
You have been discontinued. Bye!

[TOFNote: Well, that will show me! Once again, those who claim to worship in the cult of the cerebral fail to employ that which they praise. In any case, TOF is no longer able to cavort there. Silencing the opponent is the preferred tool of discourse.]

All of which is tempting TOF to discuss some prime moverism here one day soon.

18 comments:

  1. Surely it is some variety of sin for me to enjoy watching Brights brutally humiliated like this?

    ReplyDelete
  2. From that website: "Quora is a knowledge-sharing community that depends on everyone being able to pitch in when they know something."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear Lord! That is appalling. They should be embarrassed of themselves... as should I, for participating there. Thank you for catching that.

      Delete
  3. That's impressive. These remind me of things my undergraduates say about Aquinas on my tests for Introduction to Philosophy; but my undergraduates have the excuse that many of them have had a class or two on the arguments, usually their first exposure ever, and nothing more, and so are just sounding things out. They aren't going on websites claiming to know, and then banning people for pointing out obvious logical and factual problems.

    The claim that proofs must be agreed on is one of my pet peeves; it is equivalent to claiming that no one can determine what's rational except the least rational people in the discussion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it is equivalent to claiming that no one can determine what's rational except the least rational people in the discussion

      Ooh, I wish I'd thought of that.

      Delete
    2. Extremely brilliant, thank you very much.

      Delete
    3. The claim that proofs must be agreed on is one of my pet peeves; it is equivalent to claiming that no one can determine what's rational except the least rational people in the discussion.

      Now that's incisive right there!

      Delete
    4. I think I will add that to my book of quotes.

      If it pleases you, provide the desired citation for the entry. "-Brandon," seems just a tad... underwhelming.

      Delete
    5. Brandon Watson is a philosopher who blogs here: http://branemrys.blogspot.com/

      Delete
  4. Please do write up on the primum movens soon! Also, can we get an ETA on the next article on psyches? Cheers.

    TOF, Would you consider yourself a Thomist and/or endors) it as a philosophia perennis (as I've heard it sometimes called?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I consider myself a Thomism fanboy.

      Delete
  5. TheOFloinn, I realize this is off-topic but I hope I can indulge in asking you for a bit of a favor. I was wondering if you might have any books to recommend (5-10ish) on the topic of religion as it pertains to explaining, defending, and understanding it. It can be history, science, math, theology, philosophy, etc, preferably something a competent layman can grasp. I hope I am not asking the impossible, but since your breadth of knowledge kind of astounds me, I was hoping you might have some suggestions. For the record, I am Catholic with strong Thomistic leanings, and have pretty much anything relevant by Ed Feser. Thanks in advance and sorry for any derail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it's not my suit, but the old Brennan text on Thomistic Psychology comes to mind; as does the Gilson book on "the Christian Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas." As for religion as such, I can't say.

      Delete
    2. No worries. Thanks for the recommendations; I'll take a look.

      Delete
    3. ccmnxc,

      With regard to your question about "explaining, defending, and understanding [religion]", I would highly recommend Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's work De revelatione per ecclesiam catholicam proposita. It is a systematic manual of traditional Apologetics that defends the notion of supernatural revelation: its possibility, knowability, appropriateness/fittingness, and actual existence (i.e. in the Catholic religion). It is very strongly Thomistic and is written in the traditional Scholastic manner. (It's also in Latin, which may or may not be a problem for you.)

      I would also recommend the Jesuit manual Sacrae Theologiae Summa, which has an extensive and excellent Scholastic treatment of the Church in the first volume, in Tractatus II De revelatione christiana sive de vera religione and Tractatus III De Ecclesia. It is a huge work, but chock full of brilliant.

      If Latin is not your dealio (you really should learn it, it opens up so many doors!), you might try Walshe's partial translation and rearrangement of the above work by Garrigou-Lagrange, entitled "Principles of Catholic Apologetics." There is a free .pdf of it here:

      https://archive.org/details/PrinciplesOfCatholicApologetics

      There are also several and more recent books on apologetics that I have had recommended to me but have not read:


      "College Apologetics: Proof of the Truth of the Catholic Faith" - Rev. Fr. Anthony Alexander
      http://www.amazon.com/dp/0895554453

      "Apologetics: A Philosophic Defense and Explanation of the Catholic Religion" - Rev. Msgr. Paul L Glen
      http://www.amazon.com/dp/0895551578

      Delete
  6. There was a huge amount of overreach and ignorance on display, definitely, and most of it not by TheOFloinn.

    One item in particular:

    Steve McKerracher
    People cite these pseudo mathematical "proofs" as proof of god, but when the "proof" relies entirely on completely unsubstantiated asserted premises (as all "proofs" of god do) it is no proof at all.


    In a sense this is true, because it a proof in classical logic relies in any fashion on any unsubstantiated premise, or more than one, it relies entirely on that premise/those premises, and if they are not used, then a different proof, not relying on those premises, must be substituted. Of course, when you go to a fuzzier logic, this goes out the window.

    I agree his other two quoted comments are completely without defense.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A note, I asked him "Why can't we be more civilized?" & the response was "Each, allowed to follow his or her own path unimpeded, would be civilized. It is when one tries to force the other to follow its ways that the uncivility arises."

    Does this imply that society in general isn't civilized because we typically have laws telling us what to do & that the wild where "Each, allowed to follow his or her own path unimpeded" is civilized? I'm confused, what definition of civilized is this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Additional note: He's claiming "Theists have beliefs to defend. Atheists have nothing to defend and do not care what theists believe. It is only when theists push their beliefs onto atheists that atheists push back. Atheists do not pursue theists; it is the reverse." now. Should I recommend him to read history?

      Delete

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