Reasonable Doubts About Atheist Counter-Apologetics

http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts/2012/02/09/episode-97-presuppositional-apologetics-part-1

kantalope says:

February 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm

You will probably cover this in the next podcast – but the things that occurred to me while listening:

I am no Bible scholar but I don’t recall any big discussion of logic principles in the sermon on the mount or anywhere for that matter. So how come the big logic scholars were Greek and worshipped a whole nother set of gods? Seems like the supposition we should arrive at is that things are comprehensible because of Zeus and the titans and not the Hebrew god.

And the point of the bible and the god there-in is the non-logical miracley parts, no? I am excited to hear how that all works in a presuppositional world. All your logics are belong to us – and the nonlogics and the revelations too.

And I love the polyatheism part…but I would have gone with the much funnier pronunciation of Lou – who ends up being Lou Grant in my mind’s eye.

The covenantal apologist does not have to posit that the principles of logic are explicitly stated in Scripture, but rather that the principles of logic only make sense within the worldview described in Scripture. That is, the Christian worldview provides the metaphysical preconditions of logic.

Greeks are no longer considered the “big logic scholars.” This atheist is outdated. The Greeks, and many others, use logic despite their false beliefs. They do in practice what they cannot justify in principle.

There is nothing illogical about miracles. They entail no logical contradiction.

 

Rob says:

February 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Way too much time and effort has been spent countering these Presuppositionalist clowns.

The first thing to realize is they are trolls. They have no interest in actually having a conversation or a fair debate. Their goal is to confuse and thereby embarrass their opponent.

That said, presuppositionalism need not be all that confusing. They pick out some abstract concept (usually ‘the laws of logic’, ‘absolute morality’, ‘the uniformity of nature’, or induction) and then demand that the atheist ‘give an account’ of that abstract concept.

Giving an account of those concepts is difficult.

Then the presupper gives his account, which is “God did it”.

IMO opinion, trying to ‘give an account’ is the wrong strategy. Rather, it is enough to show that “God did it” is no explanation at all.

On the contrary, way too much time has been spent countering these atheist clowns. The first thing to realize is they are trolls. They have no interest in actually having a conversation or a fair debate. Their goal is to confuse and thereby embarrass their opponent.

You see, anyone can make empty, insulting assertions about someone else. There is no argumentative value in what this guy has written. And what a load of nonsense that I am not interested in conversation or fair debate. I’ve had plenty of them.

The charge that presuppositionalists are out to confuse their opponents says more about Rob than presuppositionalists. Rob is just confused, and I can see how that might be embarrassing. He admits that accounting for logic, morality, the uniformity of nature, and induction is difficult. In fact, he thinks it is a bad strategy to try and account for these fundamental features of intelligible experience. Spoken like a true atheist. There is no account for them in that view.

Accounting for the aforementioned concepts within the Christian worldview is a bit more involved than saying that, “God did it.” So Rob is ignorant of systematic theology and Christian epistemology. That is not surprising, but it does not hurt the case of the presuppositionalist.

 

Reynold says:

February 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

Xian presuppers can’t use the “unvarying laws of the universe” or the “absolute morality” to make any case for their god simply because:

1) a god who performs “miracles” shoots down the idea of the “invariant laws of nature”

2) a god who orders things like the killing of pregnant women and kids shoots down the idea of “absolute morality”. If killing babies and pregnant women is wrong when people do it, it would always be wrong if “absolute morality” actually existed.

As for the laws of logic, there is nothing in the bible that details them. One can find verses where perhaps some laws of logic are used, but there is no hint that the bible writers knew of the laws in general.

Unlike the greeks who actually took the time to spell them out.

Reynold thinks that covenantal apologists are committed to some concept of “unvarying laws of the universe,” but this is not necessarily the case. Some do not even believe that there are any such things as “laws.” Perhaps laws are merely descriptions of the regularities we observe in nature. And the Christian knows that these regularities obtain through time and location because it is God who oversees them in that manner. But the atheist has no basis upon which to affirm this understanding of regularities as one of their own, David Hume, famously pointed out.

The question here is not about instances where nature does not behave in a regular fashion. Anomalies presuppose regularities. The Christian can account for the regularities in virtue of God controlling and ordering His creation. The atheist cannot.

Perhaps there are laws of nature, and they do not vary. In that case, God could intervene such that some law is not broken, but neither is it in play in that instance. So there is no successful objection here, and the atheist is still left having dodged, rather than answered, the problems raised for his own view by his own camp.

Absolute morality, whatever that is, would apply to human beings in one sense, and not necessarily to God in that same sense. There are relevant differences between God and His creatures even in the realm of morality. This is nothing new. It has been a part of Christian theology for thousands of years. So, for example, it is perfectly right for God the Creator to take the life of one of His creatures – He owns that life – but it is completely wrong for a human being to take the life of another without God’s permission. So there is no good objection here either.

The examples in question are geared more toward the emotions than they are toward rational thought. And the atheist still has not provided his own understanding of morality, or why murder is wrong. I dare say most atheists are fine with abortion, which is the murder of an unborn baby. Atheists are wicked people, so they are forced to play fast and loose with questions about their moral standards.

No one need claim that the laws of logic are spelled out in the Bible. I have already addressed this strange complaint above in my response to kantalope. Some of the writers of the Bible were familiar with the Greeks, but the Greeks were not the logical giants that this atheist, like another above, makes them out to be.

 

Michael says:

February 12, 2012 at 6:14 pm

The podcast brought back a flood of memories of the TULIP teachings of my youth. You can’t even think, argue or question without the sovereignty of God pressing down irresistibly on every thought or breath. The doctrine of the utter unworthiness of any human enterprise was used to good and suffocating effect by the elders. God loves you so much he will shame and humiliate until you agree. I’d forgotten the technique until the podcast and realized what a luxury we’ve enjoyed in dealing with lightweight American style fundamentalism.

A few thoughts on the presuppers. In a lot of ways their arguments are not different from the fundamentalist ones.

The demand to justify our theories of knowledge, morality and logic is a variant on the god-of-the-gaps. The assertion that “what your theory can’t explain” [the gap] is proof that our god is the answer — is not better in the presupps hands than it is in the creationist’s. Just more sophisticated in its appeal to western philosophy. I think the presuppers get their traction from that fact that more people today know their biology than know their ‘history of western thought.” Would that as many know Hume as Darwin.

In fact our worldview begins with existence and perception. We don’t worry that much over where the “absolutes” like the speed of light, inverse square law of gravity, behavior of particles, come from — they simply are and we deal with them. Ditto the laws of logic. At the heart of presupp demand for your rationale is the hoary old ‘prime mover’ argument with a whiff of the ontological argument thrown in for flavoring. The same counter apologetics should apply.

The other observation from my unmisspent calvinist youth is that the scholastic god demonstrated by their ‘proof’ is such a far cry from the biblical revelation they claim to cherish. The god there is neither logical nor moral. The presupp god might be transcendentally ‘necessary’ but it sure isn’t worthy of any decent person’s worship or thinking persons assent.

Clearly Michael struggles with shame and humiliation, though he gives no indication as to what it is in particular that makes him experience these emotions. At the very least he has an insufficient understanding of the Gospel, the most basic element of the Christian worldview. He is in no position to try to go beyond that and critique Christianity or presuppositional apologetics.

God-of-the-gaps argues that since there are gaps in our scientific understanding God must exist. But that is a terrible type of argument, and is unrelated to transcendental arguments. Transcendental arguments move from some given general principle or operative feature of intelligible experience and conclude that some set of preconditions is necessary for said principle or feature to obtain. This is accomplished by denying the alleged metaphysical preconditions and generating some inconsistency.

God-of-the-gaps pertain to science. Transcendental arguments pertain to epistemology. God-of-the-gaps start with a gap in knowledge. Transcendental arguments start with knowledge. God-of-the-gaps arbitrarily posit some entity to explain an unknown. Transcendental arguments posit the only entity that can explain an unknown. God-of-the-gaps do not result in irrationally holding to some general principle or operative feature if they are rejected. Transcendental arguments result in irrationally holding to some general principle or operative feather if they are rejected.

Claiming of laws of nature and logic that “they simply are and we deal with them” is not accounting for them at all. It’s just hand waving in an attempt to save face in light of well-known philosophical concerns that you cannot answer. Transcendental arguments are not traditional cosmological or ontological arguments. That is a category error.

Since the God in view in the covenantal apologist’s arguments is the God of Christian Scripture He is not “scholastic” or far from biblical revelation. Just asserting that God is neither logical nor moral is rather humorous. Atheists often aim for nothing and hit it every time. This atheist in particular grants that God may be transcendentally necessary but then whines that according to his own misguided subjective opinion God is not worthy of worship or even intellectual assent. And again that says much more about the atheist than it does about either God or presuppositionalism.

How sad.

12 thoughts on “Reasonable Doubts About Atheist Counter-Apologetics

  1. I often find that many people are really not used to thinking in a transcendental fashion. On one hand they may say there is no objective morality, for instance, while on the other, they sharply critique the actions of God with a force and attitude surpassing what one might expect if subjective morality is true. “It makes no sense” can merely be consigned to “I don’t understand it.” And, “That is wrong” is merely consigned to “It doesn’t agree with my morality.” In fact, it may just be the height of hypocrisy for subjectivists, relativists, etc. to expect us to take their opinion seriously. Perhaps they don’t realize that their personal taste does not constitute an argument. But of course you already nailed it. When one has to act outside of his professed principles, that action elicits a weakness, and ultimate failure, of their principles. But what do I know, O Krishtun?

  2. “Claiming of laws of nature and logic that “they simply are and we deal with them” is not accounting for them at all. It’s just hand waving in an attempt to save face in light of well-known philosophical concerns that you cannot answer. Transcendental arguments are not traditional cosmological or ontological arguments. That is a category error.”

    The ‘laws’ of nature & logic do not require that they be accounted for. The problem is that you are conflating that which is, with our description of such.
    What we call the laws of logic & science are not discrete entities in themselves, they are merely our descriptions of what we perceive.
    There is no need to account for them, merely to describe them. Admittedly, describing them is a long arduous process filled with checks and falsifiable tests.

    One may need to account for absolute laws of morality but, there are no such things. Morality is inherently subjective and so there remains therefore no need to account for them.

    • Hi felixmeister,

      Are you getting all of what you are saying from a particular source(s), or are you just making it up as you go along? Perhaps if you can provide me with a source(s) it will lend some credibility to your comment and I can interact directly with that source.

      “The ‘laws’ of nature & logic do not require that they be accounted for.”

      Of course this is merely a bald assertion that flies in the face of the history of philosophy. As such, I have some difficulty taking it seriously, but I will anyway. Let me suggest that speaking of “laws” at all, whether of nature or of logic, is misleading in terms of an atheistic universe. Who, or what, sets or enforces said laws? In what sense are they ultimate, and in what sense are we (or anything else) obliged to follow them?

      If someone were to state most emphatically that the universe is such that only marbles exist, but then went on in the very next breath to posit some non-marble entity, then we would rightfully ask how this non-marble entity makes sense at all within the context of an exclusively marble-istic universe. There is an inconsistency there in terms of metaphysical claims.

      Or take the example of an individual who just posits epistemological principles without attempting to justify them. We would rightfully object that the individual is being arbitrary.

      In positing laws and refusing to answer difficult metaphysical and epistemological questions about those laws posed repeatedly throughout the history of philosophy you do not serve your view well. Rather, you lead others to suspect that it may be inconsistent and/or arbitrary. In short, you are still hand waving, and not caring does not make it any less problematic!

      “The problem is that you are conflating that which is, with our description of such.”

      I do not know what the referents of “that” and “such” are, so I cannot comment on your statement.

      “What we call the laws of logic & science are not discrete entities in themselves, they are merely our descriptions of what we perceive.”

      Your statement above is in tension with your earlier one that you need not provide an account of laws of logic and science, for here you attempt to do exactly that. Now, I am not claiming that you view the laws of logic and science as “discrete entities in themselves,” but asking for an account of them. I do not see how clarifying that you do not view them as “discrete entities in themselves” suddenly absolves your responsibility for accounting for them in terms of the metaphysical and epistemological considerations alluded to earlier. In any event, you posit that, “the laws of logic…are merely descriptions of what we perceive.” So I must ask, with which of your five senses did you perceive the ‘principle of non-contradiction’? What does the principle look like? Where can I go to perceive all of the other logical principles in the universe? I would submit that there is no significantly meaningful answer to these questions.

      “There is no need to account for them, merely to describe them.”

      What does the ‘law of excluded middle’ look like? Did you watch it dance about on the top of a hookah? Does it have green eyes and wavy hair?

      “Admittedly, describing them is a long arduous process filled with checks and falsifiable tests.”

      It is an impossible process. Finite human beings are incapable of experiencing everything that there is to know about logic and mathematics.

      What is a “falsifiable” test? Conjectures are described as falsifiable, but I do not know what it means to say that a test itself is falsifiable. Usually if some proposition is described as falsifiable it just means that the proposition can be proven false through rigorous testing even if it is not proven false in actuality, but what on earth would this mean with regard to logic?

      The principles of falsifiability, conjecture, testing, et al already assume the truth of certain logical principles, so I do not know how one would set out to falsify logic through those means.

      How would you propose that one attempt to falsify the logical ‘principle of identity’ which states that ‘A=A’? Unfortunately for your theory, the aforementioned principle is by its very nature not capable of being falsified; it is not falsifiable nor subject to any testing which proceeds upon any criteria of falsifiability.

      Many of the same concerns that apply in the case of logic also apply in the case of laws of nature, depending on how it is that you view such “laws.”

      Of course, you may have something very different in mind when you speak of a test being “falsifiable.” I hope for your sake that you are not merely parroting the word for the sake of pseudo-sophistication without knowing its real meaning. I have found a large number of Internet atheists who do exactly that.

      “One may need to account for absolute laws of morality but, there are no such things. Morality is inherently subjective and so there remains therefore no need to account for them.”

      Let me make sure I understand you correctly. I am interacting with someone on the Internet who is allegedly so intellectually well-off in terms of meta-ethical theory as to be unable to condemn the sexual molestation of little girls, genocide in Darfur, Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and the like as objectively wrong? You must not get a lot of dates.

      But even more problematic is your implicit rejection of epistemic normativity in virtue of your snuggling up all cozy-like with subjective morality. When you give up objective morality, you also give up objective epistemic standards and your right to be heard here at all.

      God has made Himself plain to you and graced you with every good you have experienced this side of judgment. Repent and trust on Christ Jesus as your Savior and Lord, and you will be spared from such intellectual folly as what you evidence above, as well as eternal punishment in hell. If you trust in Jesus He will not turn you away. Trust in His perfect life under the law of God, and His sacrificial death to satisfy the wrath of the Father. Trust in the resurrected, living Christ who is the life and light of humanity.

  3. Hi Mr Bolt

    “Let me suggest that speaking of “laws” at all, whether of nature or of logic, is misleading in terms of an atheistic universe. Who, or what, sets or enforces said laws? In what sense are they ultimate, and in what sense are we (or anything else) obliged to follow them?”

    Which is why I included them within quotes and clarified my position in the next couple of sentences.
    In answer though to your questions.
    1. No-one there is no need for these laws to be enforced as they are not laws in any legal sense ie: as they cannot be ‘broken’ there is not requirement for proscription or enforcement.
    2. They are only as ultimate as they have been tested and described by us within our physically limited mental framework. Outside of that it is still unknown.
    3. We are not obliged in any way to follow them, but to not address the way things actually work when describing or acting upon the world simply doesn’t allow you act in any meaningful way.

    “In positing laws and refusing to answer difficult metaphysical and epistemological questions about those laws posed repeatedly throughout the history of philosophy you do not serve your view well.”

    That’s the thing, I’m not positing laws, I’m positing that what you define as laws of nature and logic are not laws, they are our attempts to describe the part of the universe that we can test and verify.
    As a bad analogy: if a law is passed that all people must breath (aided or unaided) at a rate required by their metabolism) or they shall die unless already dead. Then is it a law or is it just the description of what people do?

    ““The problem is that you are conflating that which is, with our description of such.”
    I do not know what the referents of “that” and “such” are, so I cannot comment on your statement.”

    The “that”I am referring to is the components & processes of reality. The “such” is essentially the same but with the proviso that is only what we can perceive.

    “Your statement above is in tension with your earlier one that you need not provide an account of laws of logic and science, for here you attempt to do exactly that. Now, I am not claiming that you view the laws of logic and science as “discrete entities in themselves,” but asking for an account of them. I do not see how clarifying that you do not view them as “discrete entities in themselves” suddenly absolves your responsibility for accounting for them”

    I think what you are asking here is for how I account for the “laws of logic and science”, that’s the thing, I don’t. I (in reference to those who already have done so) can however account for the descriptions of how things work. You seem to saying that reality needs to account for why it acts the way it does.

    “So I must ask, with which of your five senses did you perceive the ‘principle of non-contradiction’? What does the principle look like? Where can I go to perceive all of the other logical principles in the universe? I would submit that there is no significantly meaningful answer to these questions.
    “There is no need to account for them, merely to describe them.”
    What does the ‘law of excluded middle’ look like? Did you watch it dance about on the top of a hookah? Does it have green eyes and wavy hair?”

    I perceive it by testing and defining. You can go anywhere you would like, you are just defining what actually occurs.
    Of course there is no significantly meaningful answer to these questions, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say. We have but our descriptions of how things work. If we define a thing as having a set of boundaries, then anything within those boundaries is that thing, because we have defined it as such.

    ““Admittedly, describing them is a long arduous process filled with checks and falsifiable tests.”
    It is an impossible process. Finite human beings are incapable of experiencing everything that there is to know about logic and mathematics.”

    Exactly. We have but our limited descriptions of reality, to say those descriptions are ‘laws’ when there is no way to perceive everything, especially when we are inherently limited in our physical makeup.

    “What is a “falsifiable” test? Conjectures are described as falsifiable, but I do not know what it means to say that a test itself is falsifiable.”

    Ahh thank you, that’s sort of what I was looking for.
    We describe our reality in a number of ways, these can take a lot of time. We observe, posit conjectures to develop hypotheses which then move on to build theories once thoroughly tested. We develop theories & proofs to define mathematical and logical ‘concepts’ (there’s a better word than this).
    These are constantly examined, retested and if found wanting, modified or rejected.

    “Let me make sure I understand you correctly. I am interacting with someone on the Internet who is allegedly so intellectually well-off in terms of meta-ethical theory as to be unable to condemn the sexual molestation of little girls, genocide in Darfur, Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and the like as objectively wrong? You must not get a lot of dates.”

    No you don’t understand me correctly. I most certainly can and do condemn all of those actions as they are all subjectively wrong.

    “But even more problematic is your implicit rejection of epistemic normativity in virtue of your snuggling up all cozy-like with subjective morality.”

    There is no rejection of whether one ought or not to act, I simply recognise that the correctness of a belief or action is dependent upon it’s consequences, not some arbitrary standard.

    Your immediate jump from me stating that morality is subjective to assuming I am unable to condemn some horrific actions is a little troubling. Do you assume that everyone, unless they explicitly say all their morals derive from some meta-authority, are completely depraved and unable to tell right from wrong?

    • Felix responds that no one sets or enforces the laws of nature or logic since they are not laws that can be broken. But I would like to submit that, for example, the laws of logic are broken all the time. Especially by atheists. Is Felix really suggesting that no one is ever illogical? All sorts of absurdities follow.
      And yet, Felix goes on to explicitly affirm that, “We are not obliged in any way to follow them.” Well there you have it. An atheist who thinks he is above the principles of logic. Not an overly surprising opinion in my experience, but not overly persuasive or rational either. He has lost all of his objections to the Christian faith at this point, for according to him, we are not obligated to follow the principles of logic.
      Bringing it back to the laws of nature, we can say, again following Felix, that the laws of nature cannot be broken. But why can’t they be broken? That was the gist of my question. And further, why does Felix go on to imply that nature itself is not “obliged” in any way to follow the laws of nature? Why does Felix think his computer will remain a computer and not turn into a man-eating piranha as he reads this line?
      According to Felix, what I, “define as laws of nature and logic are not laws, they are our attempts to describe the part of the universe that we can test and verify,” but again I would ask how we “test” or “verify” something like, for example, the principle of non-contradiction or for that matter the principle of the uniformity of nature. In all of the history of philosophy no one has ever accomplished either of these tasks. Additionally, Felix destroys his foundation for saying anything once again by relegating laws of logic to the descriptive realm. If laws of logic are merely descriptive of, say, the way that people think, then there is no distinction between logical and illogical thinking. Hence Felix is wasting his time trying to convince us of anything here.
      Felix goes on to concede that he does not account for the laws of logic and science. He writes, “I think what you are asking here is for how I account for the ‘laws of logic and science’, that’s the thing, I don’t.” Amen. He then goes off into vague generalizations about “reality” as though this solves any of the particular problems in philosophy that I have brought against his view. He’s been listening to too many fundamentalist atheists make inane comments like, “Reality is real.” They think that is supposed to mean something. It doesn’t.
      Again Felix concedes the underlying point of my questions concerning how on earth Felix allegedly perceives the principle of non-contradiction and other similar principles. He writes, “Of course there is no significantly meaningful answer to these questions, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say.” In other words, he claims that he perceives the laws of logic, and when I ask some questions about how he does so, he retorts that there is, “no significantly meaningful answer to these questions.” So much the worse for his view. We call this ‘invincible ignorance.’
      Felix likewise concedes my point that finite human beings are incapable of experiencing everything that there is to know about logic and mathematics. He writes, “Exactly.” Okay. So…what he previously said is incorrect. He just does not understand that what he previously said is incorrect, even though he concedes my point.
      It is painfully clear that Felix is attempting to dive into subjects that he does not understand. It is not that I mind him doing so. Everyone does. But the honest approach is not to make things up on the spot and pretend as though they are weathered scholarly conclusions.
      Recall that I wrote, “Let me make sure I understand you correctly. I am interacting with someone on the Internet who is allegedly so intellectually well-off in terms of meta-ethical theory as to be unable to condemn the sexual molestation of little girls, genocide in Darfur, Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and the like as *objectively wrong*? You must not get a lot of dates.”
      With no indication that he has thought about my words for more than a few seconds, Felix fires back that I do not understand him correctly and explains, “I most certainly can and do condemn all of those actions as they are all *subjectively* wrong.” Rather than answering my question Felix accuses me of misunderstanding his position and exchanges my question about what may be considered objectively wrong for what he considers merely subjectively wrong. But who cares what Felix subjectively feels is wrong? Subjectivism does not get us anywhere in terms of meta-ethical theory, and in the end subjectivism is self-refuting. But maybe once again Felix just does not understand the terms being used in this discussion, for he asserts that he recognizes, “that the correctness of a belief or action is dependent upon it’s [sic] consequences, not some arbitrary standard.” A moment ago he was unabashedly defending subjectivism. Now he is a sort of utilitarian. The good news is that there are plenty of problems with utilitarianism as well. Does Felix want to go down that road now too, or stick with subjectivism? Perhaps it just depends upon how he feels at the moment. In any event, it is laughable that someone who espouses these sorts of views thinks he is in any position to question God.
      Felix concludes, “Your immediate jump from me stating that morality is subjective to assuming I am unable to condemn some horrific actions is a little troubling.” I have already noted that Felix conveniently left out what I actually said when he responded to my question. Felix claimed he was a moral *subjectivist*. I asked a question which highlighted the types of evil he cannot condemn as *objectively* wrong. Perhaps Felix does not understand that “subjective” and “objective” are antonyms? Sure Felix can condemn some horrific action as subjectively wrong, but it’s on par with his preferring one type of icecream over another. He has no basis upon which to condemn some horrific action as objectively morally wrong. (Again, when I called this to his attention he looked as though he would switch over to some form of utilitarianism. Felix confusedly asks, “Do you assume that everyone, unless they explicitly say all their morals derive from some meta-authority, are completely depraved and unable to tell right from wrong?” My answer would be ‘no,’ and there was nothing remotely similar to this idea in my question. I think Felix was troubled about my question not because of some alleged philosophical fault on my part, but because Felix tasted a bit of his woefully inadequate meta-ethical theory.

  4. Steven Schwartz

    I hope Felixmeister won’t mind me joining in; if so, I’ll bow out. ;)

    A few quick clarifications, that might help:

    Let me suggest that speaking of “laws” at all, whether of nature or of logic, is misleading in terms of an atheistic universe. Who, or what, sets or enforces said laws? In what sense are they ultimate, and in what sense are we (or anything else) obliged to follow them?

    This is a case where language has led us astray. We don’t have a clear term in English for “Things that are because the universe compels them to be so”, so we reach for the strongest term we have — “laws”.

    Who, or what, sets or enforces said laws?

    The material universe itself, and the nature of its internal interactions. That old science-geek T-shirt: “186,000 MPS; not just a good idea, it’s the law!” fits here. ;) There is no “enforcement” in the sense of “punishing violators”. There is only enforcement in the sense of “Not even permitting the possibility of violation.”

    The laws as we know them are human constructs attempting to describe observations of the world; if we discover that there is an error, we change the laws, because their reference points are external to us.

    (The phrase “emergent properties” would also apply, if that’s one you’re more comfortable with.)

    So I must ask, with which of your five senses did you perceive the ‘principle of non-contradiction’? What does the principle look like? Where can I go to perceive all of the other logical principles in the universe? I would submit that there is no significantly meaningful answer to these questions.

    Indeed; because they are intellectual constructs of communication. But they are also *descriptive*, in the same way the laws of science are; they describe what we believe to be correct communication and reasoning. They’ve changed, over time, as have our “laws” of science, because of better understanding.

    Thus, an “account” for them would be to say: They are the principles under which we currently view reasoning to function. We agree on greater or lesser subsets of them, according to our need at the circumstances at han.

    Usually if some proposition is described as falsifiable it just means that the proposition can be proven false through rigorous testing even if it is not proven false in actuality, but what on earth would this mean with regard to logic?

    I believe that this springs from a confusion in the original quote, where the laws of logic and of science were conflated.

    However, a proposed set of axioms in a logical system can be tested to see if its workings produce results considered absurd — and if so, whether those absurdities are acceptable or not, in the circumstance in which the logic is required to function.

    How would you propose that one attempt to falsify the logical ‘principle of identity’ which states that ‘A=A’?

    One can construct a logic that doesn’t require such, and see how well it functions in the subset of the world in which you wish to use it. That doesn’t “falsify” it — it merely demonstrates that it is not universal and mandatory.

    Many of the same concerns that apply in the case of logic also apply in the case of laws of nature, depending on how it is that you view such “laws.”

    Well, you now see how I, at least, view such laws; I am curious as to see which concerns apply. Falsifiability, for example, clearly does *not*; we have proven false many previous “laws” of science, and revised them into more accurate versions. (Often said proofs involve the understanding that the laws are subsets of more general, more correct statements.)

    Describing the laws of science is fairly simple, despite the questions about hair color, et. al. — they’re expressed in a language, and make predictions that can be verified as propositions in that same language.

    I will let Felix answer the questions as to morals, as they’re his answers as a starting-place, and not mine.

    Addendum:

    I have now gone back and looked at the original post again, and it seems you understand all this, from some sections: Why, then, do you pretend to ignorance of it in your response to felixmeister?

    • “The laws as we know them are human constructs attempting to describe observations of the world; if we discover that there is an error, we change the laws, because their reference points are external to us.”
      I would argue that you cannot know that their reference points are external to us, but we have already been there in another old thread. More importantly then, there is no reason or evidence for proceeding to act upon the assumption that the metaphysical state of affairs underlying the so-called “laws” or “descriptions” in question will obtain throughout time and space that are not immediately present to the senses or memory.
      You did not actually address my question about how we perceive the laws of logic. I suspect you see the folly of Felix’s initial response at this point.
      “…they describe what we believe to be correct communication and reasoning. They’ve changed, over time, as have our ‘laws’ of science, because of better understanding…Thus, an ‘account’ for them would be to say: They are the principles under which we currently view reasoning to function. We agree on greater or lesser subsets of them, according to our need at the circumstances at han[d].”
      There is no such thing as the way “reasoning” functions. You are being far too general here. Whose reasoning? Whose functioning? Who is the “we” who agrees on, “greater or lesser subsets of them”? Describing the principles of logic (as you do) as dependent upon “our need at the circumstances at hand” makes logic not only merely pragmatic, which in and of itself is terribly problematic, but makes it relative to various societies at various times, which is philosophically unacceptable. I suspect you are sharp enough that I do not need to spell this out for you, but I do not know then why you would affirm such a deficient position on the nature of logic.
      How could someone ever construct a logic that doesn’t require the law of identity? Can you demonstrate that this is possible without appealing to the law in question? If it is not possible, then surely you see that the law of identity is not falsifiable? Felix is making rather silly claims concerning a topic he does not understand, and I should hope you would not want to jump in and try to salvage those claims.
      “Describing the laws of science is fairly simple, despite the questions about hair color, et. al. — they’re expressed in a language, and make predictions that can be verified as propositions in that same language.”
      Did you really miss that I was responding to Felix’s insistence that we perceive the laws of nature? Your response ignores the context and content of my original question.
      “I will let Felix answer the questions as to morals, as they’re his answers as a starting-place, and not mine.”
      It has to be rather embarrassing to have other atheists running about on the Internet trying to defend such obviously absurd (not to mention wicked) conceptions of morality.
      “I have now gone back and looked at the original post again, and it seems you understand all this, from some sections: Why, then, do you pretend to ignorance of it in your response to felixmeister?”
      I am not sure what you are referring to, but part of my methodology is to try and take the claims of my opposition on their own terms, no matter how absurd they turn out to be.

    • Contrary to popular belief, I don’t sit around on the computer all day checking every few minutes to see if some other unoriginal unbeliever has offered some more uninformed opinions in response to one of my posts.

      I published your response. I also spent a good amount of time that I don’t really have responding to it. I am more than slightly disappointed in your comment.

      • It takes but seconds to approve a post and minutes to confirm that there is nothing profane or offensive within the post.
        Unless of course you wait till you have a response prepared before approving a post.

        • Do you not think that after contributing to the blog for over three years now I know how long it takes to approve a comment? The amount of time it takes to approve a comment is irrelevant when one is not logged into the comments section of the site, on the Internet, or even on a computer.

          You come off as a bit whiny. You do not have the right to contradict what we post on, the last word, or even to be heard. You do not pay the bills. This is not your site. You do not have to comment here if you do not want to. There are plenty of free blog services available on the Internet.

          Sorry to sound harsh, but I get tired of the drama and complaints that come from more than just you. I spend time here because I am an apologist. So long as you continue commenting here within the guidelines, and so long as I take the time to check the account, you will probably have your comments posted, but it often takes time.

  5. I did not realise that the creation of posts and the comments section were separate sections on the site. For my hasty generalisation in regards to assuming that you had been on here since I’d posted and been awaiting moderation, I apologise.

    I understand I have no rights to post here, and I don’t except any as such. But once allowed to post in a civil manner I would expect the opportunity to continue to do so as long as that civil manner is maintained.

    I would like to respond to your comment above but have not had the time recently to properly address it, so will try to post within the next day or so. Approve at your leisure.

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