“The functional neuroanatomy of science journalism”

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This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Science "Journalism"


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Language Log takes frequent note of strange things science journalists say. Their most recent is about the neuroscience of mothers watching children in distress. Here is part of what LL’s Mark Liberman’s had to say:

It’s rhetorically interesting that Ms. Parker-Pope takes the existence of brain differences observed by fMRI as evidence that the reactions in question are “hard-wired”, i.e. innate. No doubt the ability to recognize one’s children and the impulse to empathize with them have a substantial evolved biological substrate. But the fact that the psychological states in question are distinguishable in fMRI scans tells us nothing whatsoever about the balance between Nature and Nurture, in this case or in any other.

….

I guess that it’s the bizarre inference from observation in fMRI scans to innateness that makes this story at all newsworthy.

This is akin to the inference neuroscientists have made (examples here and here) that because they see no soul in their scans, therefore there is no such thing. (The Language Log posts notes later that the researchers themselves were partly guilty for the “bizarre inference.”) There’s an unjustified logical leap in both instances.

In the case of the soul, I suspect this reflects a bias that “if it isn’t science, it isn’t true,” or at least, “if it isn’t science, it isn’t knowledge.”

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196 Responses to “ “The functional neuroanatomy of science journalism” ”

  1. This is akin to the inference neuroscientists have made (examples here and here) that because they see no soul in their scans, therefore there is no such thing.

    I thought it was more that because they don’t see one, or the action of one, that they couldn’t say one exists. There’s always a chance that new instruments or insights will show some “soul”-like component to the brain. It’s simply that so far, there has been no evidence supporting one, and no need to invoke one.

    In the case of the soul, I suspect this reflects a bias that “if it isn’t science, it isn’t true,” or at least, “if it isn’t science, it isn’t knowledge.”

    How about “If you can’t check it (ie. test it), then even if it is true, you can never know that”

  2. Then–your final sentence–is there no knowledge except what can be scientifically verified? (I’m not sure I got your meaning exactly so I’m double-checking.)

  3. Then–your final sentence–is there no knowledge except what can be scientifically verified? (I’m not sure I got your meaning exactly so I’m double-checking.)

    No, I’m saying that for something to be knowledge it must be able to be objectively tested – something that is true for you is not knowledge, it’s simply a personal feeling/belief.

    The existence souls is a claim concerning reality. If that claim cannot be tested, then while it may be true (and many people are certain that it is), we can’t know it to be true – it isn’t knowledge.

  4. Havok,

    No, I’m saying that for something to be knowledge it must be able to be objectively tested – something that is true for you is not knowledge, it’s simply a personal feeling/belief.

    To have knowledge that this is true (rather than a personal feeling/belief), you must have objectively tested it. Did you?

  5. SteveK,

    To have knowledge that this is true (rather than a personal feeling/belief), you must have objectively tested it. Did you?

    Following that path we end up realising we can’t know anything.
    Accepting non-objective (eg. personal revelation) information as knowledge leads, as far as I can see, to accepting absurdities such as the invisible pink unicorn as truth. So, though I believe the IPU exists and he is true for me, I wouldn’t expect others accept it without some kind of evidence which could be objectively tested.
    I’d be interested in your thoughts, assuming you disagree, and weren’t simply being contrary.

  6. Havok,

    I’d be interested in getting your response to this. Moreland makes a good case for a different view of knowledge.

    And to pick up from SteveK here: what is the objective test for your knowledge that there is no knowledge where there is no objective test for it?

    That’s not a trick question. What Steve and I are getting at is that your position seems self-contradictory at the outset, that there is no objective test by which that statement’s proof can be established.

    Objectivity itself is a very tricky term requiring definition. We got into a discussion here once with Paul (I think) saying that my knowledge that I am hungry is not objective because nobody else can confirm it. Nobody else knows what I’m thinking; does that mean I don’t know what I’m thinking?

    This is some of what Moreland gets at in his short article.

    Let’s not lose sight of the main point in the process: there are those who say that scientific knowledge is the only real knowledge, but this is a self-contradictory belief.

    Edit: we cross-posted here. I wrote this without having seen your 6:50 comment. I’ll leave this for you to look at for now anyway.

  7. Tom,
    The article on knowledge is interesting. I’m just wondering if, as seems to be the case, I should accept his knowledge that God exists, whether he accepts my knowledge that the invisible pink unicorn exists, or a muslim’s knowledge concerning allah?
    If you wouldn’t accept them, why not?

  8. There’s this interesting paradox (maybe mystery is a better word) when it comes to knowledge. You have to know something about what you are looking for before you begin so that you will recognize it when you find it. Does that make sense?

  9. SteveK, yeah it does.
    I suppose I’m trying to find a method to identify method, which has few initial assumptions, and results in coherent knowledge which corresponds to reality.
    The scientific methods seems to me to be the best method of achieving this we (as humans) currently have, though I’d be happy to be enlightened as to any other methods which can be shown to provide knowledge.

  10. Regarding whether knowledge must be tested or verified, I’d like to discuss a specific example.

    So, can someone state some knowledge about the outside world, beyond our minds, that hasn’t been tested and verified? I know I’ve qualified the question (I’m excluding qualia), but bear with me anyway.

  11. Paul,

    So, can someone state some knowledge about the outside world, beyond our minds, that hasn’t been tested and verified? I know I’ve qualified the question (I’m excluding qualia), but bear with me anyway.

    In the general sense, qualia encapsulates all perceptions that are untestable so if you exclude them then there is nothing left. If that is not what you intended then please clarify.

  12. Havoc,

    I suppose I’m trying to find a method to identify method, which has few initial assumptions, and results in coherent knowledge which corresponds to reality.

    I think we are all trying to find this.

    The scientific methods seems to me to be the best method of achieving this we (as humans) currently have, though I’d be happy to be enlightened as to any other methods which can be shown to provide knowledge.

    I think you’re throwing the baby out with the bath water. That might be a phrase known only in the USA, I don’t know. Said another way, your method filters out too much of reality. You said you wanted a method that results in coherent knowledge which corresponds to reality.

    The scientific method (SM) is good, but it isn’t everything – not even close. I think you know that. If you depended solely on the SM for knowledge then every bit of perceived meaning would be stripped from your knowledgebase. That’s a MASSIVE part of your reality – and mine.

    You could never say that you know the SM is important (!!), you know you love your wife, you know your thoughts** (!!!!), you know what hope is, you know what a book is about, etc.

    It’s clear to me that knowledge requires much more than the SM. Can I know that is true without the aid of the SM? Yes! Logic dictates it.

    ** Required for the SM to even work. Think about that.

  13. Hi Paul,
    I think I can.
    1) If all (outside world, beyond our minds) As are Bs and all Bs are Cs then all As are Cs.
    2) Nothing can be both A and Not A in the same manner at the same time.
    3) Human reason gives us an approximate if imperfect representation of the way the world is.
    4) We are not brains in vats.
    5) We our universe is not one of an infinite number of universes of varying physical laws such as satisfy the anthropic principle.

  14. Charlie, I’m not sure where to take this, so allow me several approaches, I may not hold to one approach or the other, depending on where things wind up, I’m just thinking out loud.

    I think we know the transitive property and the principle of non-contradiction (#1 and 2) by testing.

    8 = 4+4 = 2+2+2+2.

    If I put 2 apples four times into a bag, and put four apples twice into a bag, and have a bag with 8 apples, and then compare the number of apples in each bag, and I find it’s the same number, I have tested and verified the idea that if A = B (8 = 2+2+2+2) and if B = C (4+4=2+2+2+2), then A = C (8=2+2+2+2). If this didn’t work, the prinicple of A=B, B=C, so A=C wouldn’t hold. So the principle is dependent on that test, quite directly.

    A similar test is possible for A cannot = not-A.

    That human reason mirrors reality is founded on testing, too, Charlie’s #3 is not different in principle from his #1 and 2; #3 is just a generaly statement of the specific logical principles in 1 and 2.

    I have no way of knowing that I’m not a brain in a vat. But it doesn’t much matter anyway, does it?

    I don’t see how #5 isn’t founded on testing, if only through logic, but logic is founded on testing anyway, see above.

  15. SteveK, are you saying that, aside from qualia, everything we know is tested and verified? That’s how I read your coment, and that idea is what I was trying to hypothesize.

  16. Hi Paul,
    I still disagree with you all-round.
    Logic is not known by testing and verifying but by reason. If you now want to call reasoning testing and verifying then I see no point in your asking your question in the first place.

    A similar test is possible for A cannot = not-A.

    1) This truth is not known because of a test but because of logic and reason.
    2) There is no such empirical, verifying test.

    That human reason mirrors reality is founded on testing, too, Charlie’s #3 is not different in principle from his #1 and 2; #3 is just a generaly statement of the specific logical principles in 1 and 2.

    This statement is proven true by the fact that its opposite is self-refuting. One cannot truthfully say that human reason does not give a representation of the universe: if the statement is true, it is false.

    I have no way of knowing that I’m not a brain in a vat. But it doesn’t much matter anyway, does it?

    You do have a way of knowing. If you were a brain in a vat you could not say “I am a brain in a vat” and have that statement be true.
    If you were a brain in a vat your Reason would not be a reflection of reality, but it is, because the opposite is self-refuting.

    I don’t see how #5 isn’t founded on testing, if only through logic, but logic is founded on testing anyway, see above.

    It is tested by logic. If your claim is now that we can know things tested by logic and reason rather than observation, weighing and measuring then welcome to the club.

  17. So the principle is dependent on that test, quite directly.

    The principle is in no way dependent upon that test. You may perform that test if you like, for whatever reason, but it does not verify the principle. Putting apples in bags doesn’t even tell you what 2, 4 or 8 are or mean. I could say kuka apples plus kuka apples equals zipo apples. This proves neither logic or math.
    However, I can use such imaginary terms for truth #1 and still have knowledge based upon logic. If all kukas are zipos and all zipos are tangs then all kukas are tangs. You can not test this (you couldn’t test it in the A, B, and C example either) but it is true and known nonetheless.

  18. Logic is not known by testing and verifying but by reason.

    Since logic and reason are synonyms, you’re saying that logic is known by logic?

    I showed you a specific example of how logic is verified by observation. I’ll repeat: if the observations I laid out didn’t verify the logic, we wouldn’t believe in the logic, so the logic is directly dependent on those observations.

    The rest of your critiques all rest on the above point, I think.

    You do have a way of knowing. If you were a brain in a vat you could not say “I am a brain in a vat” and have that statement be true.

    But there’s no way I can tell if that statement (“I am a brain in a vat.”) is true or not. So I still don’t have a way of knowing.

  19. But there’s no way I can tell if that statement (”I am a brain in a vat.”) is true or not. So I still don’t have a way of knowing.

    You can tell.
    1) If you are a brain in a vat then what you are calling a brain has no reference, nor does a vat. You cannot be that which you are talking about because that which you are talking about doesn’t exist to you.
    2) If you are a brain in a vat your thoughts do not match to the outside world. But your thoughts do match (to a degree) to the outside world.

    I showed you a specific example of how logic is verified by observation.

    No you didn’t. Show how observation verifies the true point, that if all As are Bs and all Bs are Cs then all As are Cs.
    Show me with math with apple-bags that this string does not entail that all Cs are As.

    Since logic and reason are synonyms, you’re saying that logic is known by logic?

    Yes, that was a sloppy sentence (but your supposed rebuttal is false, not all reasoning is logical). Logic is not known at all, is it? The validity of arguments and the consistency of propositions are known implicitly through reason, or, as you like, explicitly through logic, and are not known through empiricism, observation, verification, etc. (unless you are going to continue to shoot your thesis full of holes and insist that this very process is what you mean by “verification”.

  20. I think you’re throwing the baby out with the bath water. That might be a phrase known only in the USA, I don’t know. Said another way, your method filters out too much of reality. You said you wanted a method that results in coherent knowledge which corresponds to reality.

    So, what method(s) do you use to provide a coherent picture of reality?

    The scientific method (SM) is good, but it isn’t everything – not even close. I think you know that. If you depended solely on the SM for knowledge then every bit of perceived meaning would be stripped from your knowledgebase. That’s a MASSIVE part of your reality – and mine.

    What do you mean by perceived meaning? If you mean my perceptions, you’re wrong. I’m simply taking about things which are accepted as true. If I think purple jeans look good (a perception) I wouldn’t expect that to be some kind of truth, accepted by anyone. Is that about what you mean by perceived meaning?

    You could never say that you know the SM is important (!!), you know you love your wife, you know your thoughts** (!!!!), you know what hope is, you know what a book is about, etc.

    I know I love my wife because I feel it, but wouldn’t expect anyone else to accept that assertion as truth. I know my wife loves me due to her behaviour – I guess you could say that the love is tested through behaviour. All of the things you list can be tested in some fashion (apart from my own thoughts and feelings, but I wouldn’t expect someone to take those as being truth without some further verification – would you?)

    It’s clear to me that knowledge requires much more than the SM. Can I know that is true without the aid of the SM? Yes! Logic dictates it.

    So, how do you know truth without being able to verify it in some manner?
    I might be slow on the uptake, but it seems you’re said that such a manner exists, but you haven’t mentioned what it is.

  21. Charlie,

    You can tell.
    1) If you are a brain in a vat then what you are calling a brain has no reference, nor does a vat. You cannot be that which you are talking about because that which you are talking about doesn’t exist to you.
    2) If you are a brain in a vat your thoughts do not match to the outside world. But your thoughts do match (to a degree) to the outside world.

    You understand that the “brain in a vat scenario” entails a matri like situation, where all of your sensory inputs are generated right? It seems, from you’re points, your thinking of an isolated brain in a vat.

  22. There are very many variations of the brain in a vat scenario which far predate the Matrix. I prefer the one where the brains are natural elements of the universe, uncaused and uncreated by anything.
    Nonetheless, the position holds. If you are in the matrix what you think is a brain, or a vat, is nothing of the kind. It is a representative symbol. As you said, all your inputs are generated. Therefore, there is no “real” brain correlated with what your input perceives of as a brain, and you cannot be that thing.

  23. Charlie,
    I think the arguments generally have all of the inputs simulated, but to be a flawless simulation. In such an event, how can you know that you’re a brain in a vat, when what you experience is a coherent reality? I think that is the basic question, and the general answer is, you cant. Have I missed something?

  24. It is a question of causation between the thing known/described and the thing itself. No matter the complexity of the inputs they are not the thing itself. The thing called a brain by the brain in a vat is not a brain. Therefore, the brain in the vat cannot be a brain in a vat.

  25. It is a question of causation between the thing known/described and the thing itself. No matter the complexity of the inputs they are not the thing itself. The thing called a brain by the brain in a vat is not a brain. Therefore, the brain in the vat cannot be a brain in a vat.

    What do you mean here? If we replicate the nerve signals to the brain, such that there is no different between the signal for say holding an apple, and the simulated signals for such an act, how can any difference be distinguished by the brain (and by extension the mind)?

  26. The difference can’t be distinguished by the mind because there are no two things between which to differentiate. There is only what the brain in the vat thinks brain is, but it isn’t that thing. The signal may be the same, or it may not, as the brain wouldn’t know, but in the one case there is no brain causing the signal. The thing causing the signal is not a brain. But it is the thing the brain in the vat would refer to as the brain, were it to contemplate its vatness. Obviously, if it were a brain in a vat it wouldn’t be the brain it knows as a brain.

    For that matter, neither does the vat exist.

  27. The difference can’t be distinguished by the mind because there are no two things between which to differentiate.

    Ah, so we agree on this. That’s something.

    There is only what the brain in the vat thinks brain is, but it isn’t that thing. The signal may be the same, or it may not, as the brain wouldn’t know, but in the one case there is no brain causing the signal. The thing causing the signal is not a brain. But it is the thing the brain in the vat would refer to as the brain, were it to contemplate its vatness. Obviously, if it were a brain in a vat it wouldn’t be the brain it knows as a brain.

    For that matter, neither does the vat exist.

    I’m not sure what you’re saying here?
    Are you saying that because the simulated reality being fed to the brain is indistinguishable from what the “actual” reality would be, that as far as the brain in the vat is concerned, there is no vat, and that brain isn’t in it?
    If so, then we’ve agreed all this time – The brain in the vat cannot tell that it is a brain in a vat – though someone external to the vat could.
    Is that what you meant?

  28. No, I am not saying that that the simulated reality is indistinguishable from what the actual reality is. I’m saying we are talking about two very different realities, and that one is completely disconnected from the other.
    No, it’s not that the brain in the vat can’t tell its a brain in a vat. It’s that the very proposition “I’m a brain in a vat” makes mincemeat of the words. They do not correlate to a reality in which there could be a brain in a vat.

    You can do this by presuming that you are the brain in the vat. What would it mean for you to say “I’m a brain in a vat” and have that statement be true? For starters, you wouldn’t know what a brain was.

  29. No, I am not saying that that the simulated reality is indistinguishable from what the actual reality is.

    Then I’m not sure what you’re saying. How are they distinguishable?

    I’m saying we are talking about two very different realities, and that one is completely disconnected from the other.

    I thought we were talking about a brain/mind being fed simulated sensory information, and whether there was a way for the brain/min to distinguish that the sensory information was simulated?

    No, it’s not that the brain in the vat can’t tell its a brain in a vat. It’s that the very proposition “I’m a brain in a vat” makes mincemeat of the words. They do not correlate to a reality in which there could be a brain in a vat.

    Again, you’ve lost me. The brain in the vat could think it’s a brain in a vat – it may find itself, interacting in it’s simulated world on a blog much like this.

    You can do this by presuming that you are the brain in the vat. What would it mean for you to say “I’m a brain in a vat” and have that statement be true? For starters, you wouldn’t know what a brain was.

    Again, you’ve lost me. I can, sitting here at my keboard, imagine that everything around me was simulated, ala the matrix. In such a situation, why would I not be able to conceive of what a brain was – I’d be/have one, for a start. Am I missing something?

  30. Again, you’ve lost me. I can, sitting here at my keboard, imagine that everything around me was simulated, ala the matrix. In such a situation, why would I not be able to conceive of what a brain was – I’d be/have one, for a start. Am I missing something?

    You are missing something. Sitting at your computer, imagining that you are a brain in a vat, you are not at a computer or being or having a brain. You are being a sim having a sim. Your experience of a brain is that of a signal, a simulated program, not a brain. But that is not what you would be if you were, in fact, a brain in a vat. The two cannot be the same and cannot refer to the same thing.

    Now I have no other way of saying this so I’m going to have to let it rest there for now.
    But even if you can’t buy my argument or accept it, or even understand what I am trying to say, we have a simple fact here: I know I’m not a brian in a vat (and you do, too) and I have no way of testing this or verifying it.

  31. I actually know I’m not a brain in a vat, as well.
    You, on the other hand, might not be sure that I’m not really Brian – pseudonyms what they are, and all.

  32. Wow–busy night!

    Paul, you said we know the law of non-contradiction by testing. Not true, not true at all. I’ll show it to you quite easily. Let’s take some things that we might think we know by testing:

    “This banana cannot be a BMW.”
    “The sun cannot be an oak tree.”
    “Odd integers cannot be even integers.”

    How have we observationally tested these? By induction, I suppose: we’ve never seen a banana that could be a BMW, or the sun vacationing as an oak tree. All the odd integers we’ve seen have remained stubbornly non-even. (Recall that we’re talking about empirical testing, not logical testing, because Paul said he thinks we can establish non-contradiction by experience rather than by logic.)

    Let’s take this to the most generous possible extreme, and suppose that we repeat this kind of observation to the furthest reaches of reality. We observe every A and every non-A*, and we note that they are not equal. Have we proved the law of noncontradiction?

    At this point I would stand up and say, “No! Absolutely not! The law of noncontradiction is a pile of hooey!” And you would say, “but we’ve tested everything in the universe and we’ve shown that A is always unequal to not-A.” To which I could reply, “No you haven’t;” and then you would probably say, “But of course we have!”

    That’s when I would say, “Are you contradicting me? What if we’re both right–just this one time? What if this is the one exception you’ve been searching for all this time? How do you know that it isn’t?

    I think the answer is that you just know, as Charlie said above. The infinite search was unnecessary from the start.

    There are similar problems with your claim that we know the transitive property by testing, but I won’t go into them.

    (*There’s also a question-begging entailed in “observing every A and every non-A” during an empirical test for the truth of non-contradiction; but I thought this other line of argument was more interesting.)

  33. Tom, one point before I get to your real point. I didn’t claim to prove absolutely that the law of non-contradiction worked, I only set out to check it out by a certain method (observationally). That is, proving it absolutely concerns the *extent* to which the law holds (100% of the time, or maybe only 90$ of the time, etc.); and seeing to what extent it does hold concerns the *method* by which check it out.

    I don’t have to claim that the law of contradiction holds 100% of the time for all time and throughout the universe in order to observationally verify it to some extent.

    OK. What you’re doing is assuming that the law of non-contradiction is a thing out in the world like an apple is, whose existence is subject to verification just like an apple. But that is not necessary for my argument. The law of non-contradiction can be viewed merely as a summary of the results when we test and verify claims about apples, atoms, ideas, etc. It does not need to be a conclusion, but merely a convenient way of talking about many conclusions. So to turn the law upon itself introduces an unnecessary category mistake.

  34. Tom, I missed the part of the Moreland piece that related to the brain in the vat. What part did you think related?

  35. Hi Paul,

    I didn’t claim to prove absolutely that the law of non-contradiction worked, I only set out to check it out by a certain method (observationally).

    No you didn’t. You set out to demonstrate that we can only know the truth of the law of contradiction because we can test/verify it. This is false.

    That is, proving it absolutely concerns the *extent* to which the law holds (100% of the time, or maybe only 90$ of the time, etc.); and seeing to what extent it does hold concerns the *method* by which check it out.

    It holds 100% and verification and testing can’t tell you this. More knowledge, unverified.

    The law of non-contradiction can be viewed merely as a summary of the results when we test and verify claims about apples, atoms, ideas, etc.It does not need to be a conclusion, but merely a convenient way of talking about many conclusions.

    And unicorns can be viewed as a convenient way to discuss horses without horns and I can say that I’ve seen scores of them. You can’t redefine terms and beg the question to make your point. The law of non-contradiction is not the summary of results of tests. It is a law of proper reasoning.

  36. Havoc,

    I know I love my wife because I feel it, but wouldn’t expect anyone else to accept that assertion as truth. I know my wife loves me due to her behaviour – I guess you could say that the love is tested through behaviour.

    No. If the SM is the only path to knowledge then you don’t know you love your wife. The SM requires objective, external verification that can be confirmed by anyone. You admitted this can’t be done when you said that others aren’t expected to agree with you.

    How does the SM lead you from not knowing what love is, to knowing what love is? I’m curious to read your answer.

  37. Paul,
    I was going to leave this for a response to your next response, but I have to leave momentarily.
    You keep saying things like “we can test the law of non-contradiction” by observation and verification. But you can’t even use tests of observation and verification without the law of non-contradiction. Tom pointed this out and you changed his point. How can you claim a result holds if that result could be something else?
    “Look, I have concluded four apples!”.
    “No, you have conclude three bananas”.
    “No, look, count, these are four apples.”
    “I am lookjng and counting. They are three bananas.”

    Nature provides us countless examples of apparent contradictions to our knowledge and our model of the world. What do we do when we find these apparent contradictions? We theorize and experiment to change our way of looking at nature, to amend our knowledge. What we don’t do is say “well, that’s no problem, because we can just scrap the law of non-contradiction”. The apparent violation must be explained so that it is not a violation, but the law is not changed.

  38. Paul,

    Tom, I missed the part of the Moreland piece that related to the brain in the vat. What part did you think related?

    The parts about

    1) The anxious quest for certainty: even though there’s a trace possibility that you are a brain in a vat, you have sufficient information to be able to know that you are not.

    2) Knowing without necessarily knowing how you know: you don’t have to be able to describe the test you’ve performed that proves you’re not a brain in a vat. You can know it without having to explain how you know.

    Further on Charlie’s last comment. Paul, you wrote yesterday,

    I think we know the transitive property and the principle of non-contradiction (#1 and 2) by testing.

    That was after Charlie had responded to your question,’

    So, can someone state some knowledge about the outside world, beyond our minds, that hasn’t been tested and verified.

    Now you’re saying this:

    I don’t have to claim that the law of contradiction holds 100% of the time for all time and throughout the universe in order to observationally verify it to some extent.

    If the LNC does not hold 100% of the time it is not the LNC, it is something else entirely. The LNC is an absolute statement regarding reality.

    OK. What you’re doing is assuming that the law of non-contradiction is a thing out in the world like an apple is, whose existence is subject to verification just like an apple. But that is not necessary for my argument. The law of non-contradiction can be viewed merely as a summary of the results when we test and verify claims about apples, atoms, ideas, etc. It does not need to be a conclusion, but merely a convenient way of talking about many conclusions. So to turn the law upon itself introduces an unnecessary category mistake.

    I don’t see how I made that assumption; I just gave us a thought experiment in which “you” (as I put it, the hypothetical experimenter) summarized your results when you tested and verified claims about apples, atoms, ideas, etc., and then I showed you in the end that your summary was invalid.

    I didn’t draw the argument out in complete detail. I’ll try to do that now. In order to summarize your findings, you have to assume the LNC is true; in fact, you have to know the LNC is true. You can’t even undertake the procedure you have described without the LNC’s being true.

    To extend the example: I could go back through your list of findings and disagree with every other finding. I could say you were just wrong when you determined that apples are not bananas, and that ancient Greece was not south of ancient poetry, and that you were never Napoleon. In order for you to say “hang on a minute, I wasn’t wrong!” you would have to assume the LNC. If I say the items in every other case were identical, and you say they weren’t, you are contradicting me. In order for your contradiction to have any force, the LNC must be true.

    In the end, I could just say, “you haven’t proved a thing, in fact, you haven’t even demonstrated the LNC works more than half the time.” (I could actually dispute every instance, not just every other one.) So how will you show me that you actually have demonstrated the LNC in action, unless we agree the LNC rules our discussion from the start? So you have to use the LNC as part of your method for your inductive investigation; otherwise you end up with just disputable findings.

    Here’s an alternate version: suppose I follow you through your process from the beginning, and we do this:

    You: Apples are not bananas.
    Me: Yes they are.
    You: Houses are not earthworms.
    Me: Yes they are.
    You: The sky is not my daughter.
    Me: Yes it is.
    You: You know, all your contradictions are getting annoying!
    Me: I’m not contradicting you!

    Finally: imagine that instead of this being you and me, imagine it being you and you. Without the LNC that would be entirely possible.

    I’ve probably gone on far too long with this and over-stated my point, but it was kind of a fun exercise, so I hope you’ll forgive me.

  39. Charlie wrote:

    It holds 100% and verification and testing can’t tell you this.

    1. How do we know this?

    2. How do we know it stands up to Tom’s March 15th, 2008, 6:54 am challenge.

    . . . . That’s when I would say, “Are you contradicting me? What if we’re both right–just this one time? What if this is the one exception you’ve been searching for all this time? How do you know that it isn’t?”

    3.

    The law of non-contradiction is not the summary of results of tests. It is a law of proper reasoning.

    Says you. ; )

    Then I don’t believe in it as a law, but merely as a summary. I may, however, believe in it as a law when I see your answer to my #1 and 2 above.

    Regarding if there are 3 or 4 bananas, (1) the conflict between how many bananas are in the bag is a problem with perception (the mere counting of how many items are in a bag). I counted 3 bananas, you counted 4 bananas, in another bag or not.

    The mere fact that people can disagree about perceptions doesn’t invalidate using observation as an empirical means. It doesn’t have to work perfectly 100% of the time for all people in order to work well enough.

    Tom, I’ll get back to your last post soon.

  40. Perception is not an escape from the law of non-contradiction.

    “Paul perceives 3 bananas” and “Charlie perceives 4 bananas” do not contradict each other.

  41. Tom, I haven’t forgotten about my response to your last post. But what I have to do to reply is to summarize your argument, which will take a bit of time for me.

    But, in the meantime, can you tell me how we know that the law of contradiction is true, 100%?

  42. Tom: As I summarize the discussion, I have a question about your argument. How much does it rely on your idea that my observations that verify the transitive property rely on induction? I don’t see my idea as relying on induction. I only meant it to be an example of one particular case, and whether we can apply induction to other cases is a separate point. That is, for any one specific set of bags of apples, the foundation on which we can apply the transitive property is the observation that, for those bags, they have the same number of apples. Induction isn’t needed here, only observing 3 particular bags.

    Also, I think we need to be clear as to whether we’re talking about the transitive property or the LNC.

  43. Hi Paul,
    I’d like to see some responses to some issues that you’ve left on the table.

    You: A similar test is possible for A cannot = not-A.

    Me: 1) This truth is not known because of a test but because of logic and reason.
    2) There is no such empirical, verifying test.

    Can you show me the test please? Show me, without assuming the LNC, that A is not not-A.

    It is tested by logic. If your claim is now that we can know things tested by logic and reason rather than observation, weighing and measuring then welcome to the club.

    Have you decided that testing with logic is “testing and verifying”, as per your original challenge? Have you determined that we can know that which reason and logic tell us?

    If all kukas are zipos and all zipos are tangs then all kukas are tangs. You can not test this (you couldn’t test it in the A, B, and C example either) but it is true and known nonetheless.

    Can you show me the test for this?

    Or this?

    Show how observation verifies the true point, that if all As are Bs and all Bs are Cs then all As are Cs.
    Show me with math with apple-bags that this string does not entail that all Cs are As.

    Can you address this?

    But you can’t even use tests of observation and verification without the law of non-contradiction. Tom pointed this out and you changed his point. How can you claim a result holds if that result could be something else?

    I only ask because if these keep piling up I’m afraid you will become overwhelmed and have to leave the conversation.

    To do my part, on my assertion that the LNC holds 100% of the time, you asked:

    1. How do we know this?

    2. How do we know it stands up to Tom’s March 15th, 2008, 6:54 am challenge.

    Because we know that we can reason and reasoning demands it. As we’ve discussed before, once you doubt reason you have nothing left. If you put yourself outside of reason there is no non-question-begging way back in. If we are to know anything then we know that valid arguments coupled to true premises cannot but give true conclusions. If we don’t know this then there is no point doing a single one of your experiments, as you can’t demonstrate or conclude anything from them (think 4 apples v. 3 bananas) and you can’t even know anything – but you do think we can learn from experiments – therefore, you know the LNC holds. One would then necessarily become the radical skeptic of a couple of centuries ago and would have to retreat to such thought experiments as the possibility of vatness as evidence and argument.

  44. New question:

    Then I don’t believe in it as a law, but merely as a summary.

    A summary of what, though? And signifying what?

    As for apples and bananas, as Tom said, it’s not a matter of perception. If the LNC doesn’t hold then 4 apples=3 bananas cannot be said to be wrong.

  45. Because . . . reasoning demands it.

    Charlie, we *assume,* a priori, that we must accept reason and rationality, right? Why should we otherwise trust in reason? Because without it, all is lost, including discourse, communication, etc. Wouldn’t you agree?

    If reason and rationality are assumptions, then, they are not things that we *know,* but things we assume. I wouldn’t call what we assume or take for granted knowledge, which was the original question.

    If they are not necessary starting points, then how do we know that reason must be accepted without using reason in our justification? I don’t think I’m moving the goal post here, because the LNC and the transitive property are merely details of reason and rationality, it turns out to be the same issue, just in more detail.

  46. Your argument an exercise in question-begging.
    You say “what can we know without verification?” and I say that we can know that A=C.
    We see that is a product of logical analysis.
    And then you contend that such results are not “known” because our trust in logical analysis is axiomatic – assumed.
    Even if we accept your premise about reason your conclusion is a non-sequitur, but worse yet, look what it does to your criteria for “knowing”. If the fact that reason is accepted a priori as a starting point invalidates our claims to knowledge based on it then you have defeated all knowledge. That includes knowledge gleaned from experiments, observations and verifications.
    Your skating around the issue is doing no good but further entrenching you in your radical skepticism and bringing you within a hair’s breadth of solipsism.
    You are painting yourself into the same post-modernist corner that had us asking previous po-mo participants why they even bother to try to communicate if they can’t know anything.

  47. I do wish you’d answer those points in my previous comment. I know how you hate when they pile up and become too much to handle – procedurally, I mean, not substantively.

  48. Charlie, I’ll do my best to hit as many of your questions as I can tonight.

    First: My hypothesis is that, like science, all knowledge is tentative and not absolute. My empiricism says that we first must assume rationality, and then conclusions based on observation follow, just like proofs of geometry follow from postulates. It doesn’t destroy knowledge, it only makes it useful, not some absolute.

    Here’s my observational test that A is not not-A. Let A = an apple. Now, in a bag I have an apple. I call it A. In another bag there is a banana. Is it an apple? No, it’s not. So it’s not-A. I then check to see if what is in the bags are the same. I look, and they are different. So bag A is not bag B, so A is not not-A.

    The spirit of this test is a bit along the lines of the operation in mathematics and set theory by which the true way in which we know that two sets have the same number of elements is not to count each and compare the abstract numbers, but to pair up each element in both sets, and if there are no members left over, then the sets are equal. Are you familiar with this operation? If so, it might place my attempt here in a more valid context.

    Have you decided that testing with logic is “testing and verifying”, as per your original challenge? Have you determined that we can know that which reason and logic tell us?

    I was not trying to use the words testing and verifying with the breadth that you not unreasonably took them. I meant to limit the testing and verifying to empirical observation. But, honestly, I’m not sure about the implications of this, I don’t know where you’re going, so I reserve the right to change my ideas if a certain context you might identify demands it.

    For testing Kukas and Zipos, I’d say that the reason that we can know someting about them is only because we’ve found out certain things about apples and bananas and then generalize and abstract and summarize those observations, but we don’t need to elevate those summaries to a higher ontological status (like the LNC exists somewhere, perhaps Platonically).

    At least I tried, gotta run now.

  49. Paul, you’re fudging:

    First: My hypothesis is that, like science, all knowledge is tentative and not absolute. My empiricism says that we first must assume rationality, and then conclusions based on observation follow, just like proofs of geometry follow from postulates. It doesn’t destroy knowledge, it only makes it useful, not some absolute.

    Is it knowledge or is it not? We know it’s based upon our axiomatic acceptance of reason, so what does that say about your previous point?

    Thanks for your attempt, but you missed this one again:

    Can you address this?
    “But you can’t even use tests of observation and verification without the law of non-contradiction. Tom pointed this out and you changed his point. How can you claim a result holds if that result could be something else?”

    —-

    Here’s my observational test that A is not not-A. Let A = an apple. Now, in a bag I have an apple. I call it A. In another bag there is a banana. Is it an apple?

    Yes, it is. Apples can be bananas.

    No, it’s not. So it’s not-A. I then check to see if what is in the bags are the same. I look, and they are different. So bag A is not bag B, so A is not not-A.

    But the banana is not not an apple, bag A is bag B, and A is not A. There’s no reason why not – especially since your reasoning here is supported only by a presumption and the LNC is only a summary.

    I meant to limit the testing and verifying to empirical observation.

    That’s exactly how I took it. You’ll notice the countless times I said “empirical, observational”, etc.
    I only came to suspect otherwise when you said “we tested it, even if only through logic”.

    But, honestly, I’m not sure about the implications of this, I don’t know where you’re going, so I reserve the right to change my ideas if a certain context you might identify demands it.

    We already saw the context that caused you to change from empirical testing to “testing” logically. (Paul March 14th, 2008 at 10:19 pm)
    At the time it looked like you were trying to subsume all knowledge under your “testing” criteria, just as you have previously with statistics, and “verificationism” …
    Now maybe that’s not necessary as it looks as though your ideas will cause all knowledge to slip away.

  50. Oh yes, and remember this one:
    Since all As are Bs and all Bs are Cs then all As are Cs.
    You tried to resort to apple math bags to show an equality.
    Now, use your apple math bags to show that this relationship does not show the opposite equality, ie: not all Cs are As.
    Do you see the equivocation in your answer?

  51. Is it knowledge or is it not?

    Sounds like “Is it moral or not.”

    Paul, you’re fudging:

    Then so is Karl Popper.

    Apples can be bananas.

    Remind me to never ask you make a banana split for me.

    bag A is bag B

    Can you support that via observation? If so, you should increase the dosage on your meds.

    Sorry, it’s getting late, both in the evening and in the conversation.

  52. Hi Paul,

    Sounds like “Is it moral or not.”

    Sounds like not an answer to me.
    Is it knowledge or not?

    Paul, you’re fudging:

    Then so is Karl Popper.

    That’s a popular name with you. What is it supposed to mean here?

    Me:bag A is bag B
    You: Can you support that via observation? If so, you should increase the dosage on your meds.

    Sure. All I have to do is look and say so. That’s what observation gets you absent logic. Especially when, as you’ve insisted before, we can’t trust our own perceptions (that applies to you as well, you know) without getting somebody’s agreement and you admit that your perceptions might just as well be fed to a brain in a vat – in which case bag A is exactly what you think it is (and exactly what I think it is) and nothing more. And, of course, anybody verifying it might just be a sim fed to a vat-brain.

    Sorry, it’s getting late, both in the evening and in the conversation.

    Sounds like you’re about to run short of time again without facing the implications of your thoughts. More later, I suppose?

  53. Hi Paul,
    While I wait on your thoughts about Popper, here’s the name of another late-great philosopher of the 20th century with whom I imagine you share some sympathies: Bertrand Russell.
    He had this to say on empiricism and a priori truths:

    “In so far as it is primitive and undemonstrated, human knowledge is thus divided into two kinds: knowledge of particular facts, which alone allows us to affirm existence, and knowledge of logical truth, which alone allows us to reason about data. In science and in daily life the two kinds of knowledge are intermixed: the propositions which are affirmed are obtained from particular premises by means of logical principles. In pure perception we only find knowledge of particular facts: in pure mathematics, we only find knowledge of logical truths. In order that such a knowledge be possible, it is necessary that there should be self-evident logical truths, that is to say, truths which are known without demonstration. These are the truths which are the premises of pure mathematics as well as of the deductive elements in every demonstration on any subject whatever.

    As soon as we take into account the consequences of Kant’s hypothesis, it becomes evident that general and a priori truths must have the same objectivity, the same independence of the mind, that the particular facts of the physical world possess. In fact, if general truths only express psychological facts, we could not know that they would be constant from moment to moment or from person to person, and we could never use them legitimately to deduce a fact from another fact, since they would not connect facts but our ideas about the facts. Logic and mathematics force us, then, to admit a kind of realism in the scholastic sense, that is to say, to admit that there is a world of universals and of truths which do not bear directly on such and such a particular existence. This world of universals must subsist, although it cannot exist in the same sense as that in which particular data exist. We have immediate knowledge of an indefinite number of propositions about universals: this is an ultimate fact, as ultimate as sensation is. Pure mathematics-which is usually called “logic” in its elementary parts-is the sum of everything that we can know, whether directly or by demonstration, about certain universals.


    On the subject of self-evident truths it is necessary to avoid a misunderstanding. Self-evidence is a psychological property and is therefore subjective and variable. It is essential to knowledge, since all knowledge must be either self-evident or deduced from self-evident knowledge.

    In the third place, we have seen that the possibility of mathematical knowledge refutes both empiricism and idealism, since it shows that human knowledge is not wholly deduced from facts of sense, but that a priori knowledge can by no means be explained in a subjective or psychological manner.”
    http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/russell.htm

  54. Charlie, did you miss it when I said earlier that logic was an assumption? The issue is now whether an assumption is knowledge. In your quote of Russell above, he notes that logic must be self-evident, which is an assumption, a necessary starting point.

    Charlie, your last paragraph in your March 15th, 2008 at 6:55 pm comment only pointed out the necessity of logic in order to talk at all, with which I agree, but necessity is not verification. Even if we absolutely need logic and reason, we adopt them on as assumption, not something proven, either by logic (which would be circular), and the only thing left is by observation, and if you’re willing to adopt that stance (thought I doubt it), then we’d really have no argument.

    Your last paragraph I mentioned above did not answer my question “HOW do we know that logic is true 100%,” it only spoke to the need for it. So I’m willing to be convinced and retract my position here if you can answer that question beyond anything that reduces to positioning logic as an assumption.

    Then, we’ll talk about whether an assumption is knowledge. I’ll grant you right off the bat, though, that conclusions, given a set of assumptions (as is Euclidean geometry) are a type of knowledge, so if our disagreement hinges on me missiing that point, I plead guilty and apologize.

  55. Hi Paul,
    I just erased my response to you, so my rebuilding of it may miss something …

    Charlie, did you miss it when I said earlier that logic was an assumption? The issue is now whether an assumption is knowledge. In your quote of Russell above, he notes that logic must be self-evident, which is an assumption, a necessary starting point.

    Please don’t ask pretend questions. A cursory glance at my responses will show many instances where I most evidently did not miss that you said logic was an assumption.
    But Russell does not call logic self-evident.

    Even if we absolutely need logic and reason, we adopt them on as assumption, not something proven, either by logic (which would be circular), and the only thing left is by observation, and if you’re willing to adopt that stance (thought I doubt it), then we’d really have no argument.

    Your last paragraph I mentioned above did not answer my question “HOW do we know that logic is true 100%,” it only spoke to the need for it. So I’m willing to be convinced and retract my position here if you can answer that question beyond anything that reduces to positioning logic as an assumption.

    But it is not “logic” which is in question. Your pedantry busted me on this mistake earlier and now your last defence requires the equivocation. My answer was that we can know that A is not not A, and that (through transitive relations) A=C. We know these things: we do not “know” Logic. These are the propositions which, as Russell says, are affirmed [or] obtained from particular premises by means of logical principle. And this is knowledge.
    Your last defence against this was that because we assumed Reason or the truth of logic, that these propositions were not, then, knowledge. But that means that nothing is knowledge, nothing can be known. Which led to your invoking the name of Karl Popper.

    Then, we’ll talk about whether an assumption is knowledge.

    As you can see from above, the question isn’t about whether or not that which you say must be assumed is known: “Logic” is not the thing “known” in the examples.

    I’ll grant you right off the bat, though, that conclusions, given a set of assumptions (as is Euclidean geometry) are a type of knowledge, so if our disagreement hinges on me missiing that point, I plead guilty and apologize.

    So my repeated question “but is it knowledge?” seems to be answered (yes, with your usual qualifier). Your qualifier, of course, applies to all knowledge given that everything depends upon logic and reason, as you’ve stated above.

    So now, I’m sure you’re satisfied that your original question is answered – and has been from the start:

    Regarding whether knowledge must be tested or verified, I’d like to discuss a specific example.

    So, can someone state some knowledge about the outside world, beyond our minds, that hasn’t been tested and verified? I know I’ve qualified the question (I’m excluding qualia), but bear with me anyway.”

  56. Charlie,
    I skimmed over a lot of your conversation with Paul. I think I’ve grasped the main points, but I’d appreciate you (and Paul) summarizing in a short paragraph….for posterity’s sake.

  57. Are assumptions knowledge? If they’re solid, then why not?

    As to the empirical test for the law of non-contradiction, I’m surprised this is still alive. Here’s another version of the refutation:

    You begin your observations, with a non-committal attitude toward the LNC because you are trying to determine empirically whether it’s true or not. Your test begins as follows, which I’ve quoted from you above, except for changing the first person pronouns to second person:

    In a bag you have an apple. You call it A. In another bag there is a banana. Is it an apple? No, it’s not. So it’s not-A. You then check to see if what is in the bags are the same. You look, and they are different. So bag A is not bag B, so A is not not-A.

    At this point I speak up, and this conversation ensues:
    Tom: “The object in Bag B is an apple.”
    Paul: “You’re wrong, Tom, it’s a banana.”
    Tom: “Well, of course it is.”
    Paul: I see we agree now. Thank you.”
    Tom: “But just because it’s an apple doesn’t mean it can’t be a banana!”
    Paul: “But apples and bananas are not the same,”
    Tom: “Right, right right; absolutely right! But just because they’re not the same doesn’t mean they’re not the same, does it?”
    Paul: “But look–I have an apple here, and a banana here–”
    Tom: “Sure! That item in bag B is an apple, and that item in bag A is a banana. And the one in bag A is an apple and the one in bag B is a banana. And of course they’re completely different from each other in every conceivable way, and they’re absolutely identical in every way besides.”
    Paul: “That’s impossible, Tom.”
    Tom: “On what basis is it impossible?”
    Paul: “Well, you’re contradicting yourself every time you open your mouth!”
    Tom? “So what? You say you have an empirical instance in your two bags that demonstrates the LNC is true. I’m giving you an empirical instance out of my mouth that it isn’t. You don’t have a way to decide which to rely on–not unless you know in advance that the LNC is true.”

    On the very first step of your empirical inquiry into the LNC, you rely on the LNC. Without it you cannot disagree with my conclusion that an apple is a banana even while apples and bananas are different kinds of things.

    In short, you cannot demonstrate the LNC empirically without assuming, before you begin, that it is true.

    Again, this is knowledge. You have not, and cannot, make an empirical case for the LNC, but you know it anyway…

  58. Hi Steve,
    I think I will give a short summary in a little bit.
    Since I think it would be self serving, however, I think I’d prefer to give Paul the first crack at describing our short journey.

    Are you game, Paul?

  59. Argh, the response I tried to post earlier today never made it. Here’s what I remember:

    Tom, how do we know the LNC is valid? Charlie’s answer was that it was necessary, but that’s not an argument for validity. If it’s an assumption, what makes an assumption solid (=valid)?

    Also, Tom, I see your point about the observation of the LNC. And I had some really great point to make about it in response that has escaped into the ether. Must not have been that good, eh?

  60. Not that that was exactly my defence, Paul, but wouldn’t you say that the fact that we could know nothing without the LNC is a pretty good argument for its validity?
    Can we know anything?
    If not, why bother asking us about any kind of knowledge at all? Why waste anybody’s time arguing on a blog about anything?
    If so, you know the LNC is true – and you didn’t test it empirically in any way.

    And isn’t that the point, in any case? That we know it without verification? Even you know that a thing cannot both be A and not A at the same time. You know this, oyu rely upon it, you base arguments upon it, you propose experiments requiring it, etc.. And you can’t observe, verify or prove it. That is the point.

    Any chance you’ll accommodate Steve’s request for a summary?
    I’d be interested to know where you think we are and where you stand now.

  61. Charlie,

    Here’s a rundown on a debate Bill Craig recently had in Vancouver.
    Some of you will notice some trends replaying here. Some of you won’t.

    I haven’t read the WLC article yet, but will get around to it.
    Given this statement from WLC:
    “We’ve already said that it’s the Holy Spirit who gives us the ultimate assurance of Christianity’s truth. Therefore, the only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role.”
    Why should he be taken seriously, when regardless of the evidence shown him to the contrary, he would still take the testimony of the Holy Spirit (whatever that is) to be the “truth”.
    To me that seriously impacts a persons credibility.

  62. Hi Havoc,
    Your comments seem less and less about being real here.
    We can trust Craig’s arguments when they are logically sound, contain true premises, comport with fact, etc.
    If you’d been kind enough to supply a link with that damning quote I’d show you what Craig meant, why the context is important and why a man whose life is about evidence and positive argumentation ought to be taken seriously. I’d show you why your conclusion “regardless of the evidence…” does not follow from his quote.

  63. Well-Googled, Havoc,
    I’ve read your wiki link previously.

    Here’s a note from a few paragraphs above your link:

    According to Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, this is a fundamental principle of thought, which can only be successfully argued for by showing the opponents of the principle to be themselves committed to it. Thus, Aristotle considers the case of someone who denies the principle in the strong way — holding that every proposition is both true and false — and asks why such a person goes on the Megara road to get to Megara from Athens, since on such a person’s view it is just as true that any other road would get him to Megara.

    Done and done.

  64. Charlie, if you can offer no reason why the LNC is true other than the alternative is unacceptable, for whatever reason, then we don’t know it’s true, we only have to proceed as if it were. It’s hard to imagine how it could be false, but that’s not a proof or a reason for validity. Part of the problem here is that we’re trying to use logic and reason to justify the LNC, but the LNC is part of logic and reason. Of course I use the LNC in my everyday life, but that’s not the same as providing a rigorous reason for why it’s true. I often act like Newtonian physics is says everything about physics, but we know since Einstein that that’s not true.

    That’s why I say we don’t know that the LNC is true, but we have to assume it.

    I think we’ve come to the heart of the matter. Charlie, it seems to me that you’re willing to claim that something is true merely because the alternative is unacceptable. That’s a position I won’t adopt.

  65. if you can offer no reason why the LNC is true other than the alternative is unacceptable, for whatever reason, then we don’t know it’s true, we only have to proceed as if it were.

    Then it’s settled…we don’t know if ANYTHING is true. So much for all that talk about verification and the scientific method.

  66. Thanks, Steve!

    Thanks, Paul, for affirming what I’ve been asking all along.
    So, once again, bearing Steve’s comment in mind, what was the point of your initial question?

    I think we’ve come to the heart of the matter. Charlie, it seems to me that you’re willing to claim that something is true merely because the alternative is unacceptable. That’s a position I won’t adopt.

    “Won’t”. That is the key. You make a conscious choice to maintain this (faux) radical-skepticism. It is not that the alternative is unacceptable, but that it is impossible if we are to know anything. If we are not to know anything then why, why, why do you keep posting?

    The fact that I can know something, and I know I know something, tells me that I know the LNC is true.
    You don’t (today, and for whatever reason).

  67. Paul,
    When you feel hungry do you know you are actually hungry, or do you just assume that you are?

    Do you know anything about the assumption you’ve made? Do you know that you just made an assumption?

  68. Then it’s settled…we don’t know if ANYTHING is true. So much for all that talk about verification and the scientific method.

    We don’t know anything in geometry, either, Euclidean or not, until we start with some postulates. Then, given those postulates, we can know some things about that geometry, but even than that knowledge rests on the postulates, and we can’t say that we *know* the postulates; rather, we just postulate (assume) them, and then make conclusions.

    Remember, too, that my original question was what *knowledge* do we have that isn’t observed, verified, etc. We may have the LNC as a necessary assumption, but we don’t know it. Any geometry, Euclidean or not, requires postulates, but we don’t say that we *know* the postulates; rather, we postulate them, or, we assume them. *Then* we can begin to know some thing about that geometry, *give* the postulate.

    A postulate or an assumption is not knowledge.

    Also, my original question was limited to the outside world, and not about qualia. We have direct knowledge of qualia (I think).

  69. Hi Paul,
    You are presenting geometry as though it is not true but merely consistent within arbitrary bounds. This seems to me the equivalent to saying you know you can’t take three steps carrying a basketball because of the rules of basketball.
    But this makes no sense to me. Even if you say we don’t know the postulate (which does not follow just because we can’t prove the postulate, we can still know that knowledge built upon these is true. I say it is objectively true that two line segments perpendicular to a single line segment are parallel to each other. I say you can know that the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is the sum of the squares of the other two sides.
    Can you please tell me a postulate such as you describe and show that the knowledge thus derived is not actually knowledge?
    And then can you show how this means that knowledge about the real world derived through logical reasoning is likewise not knowledge?
    Thanks.

  70. Oh, and finally –
    Can you tell me how you can have knowledge about whether or not Mary showered yesterday, given that you can not observe, test or verify the event but based upon the statistical finding that people shower 9 days out of 10? It would seem that the information rests on a foundation far less secure than that of logical necessity or geometric postulates. So how was it you could contend that by “knowing” a statistical likelihood we had “knowledge” about a particular event?

  71. You are presenting geometry as though it is not true but merely consistent within arbitrary bounds.

    Which geometry are you talking about? Euclidean? Or one of the others? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Euclidean_geometry

    Even if you say we don’t know the postulate (which does not follow just because we can’t prove the postulate, we can still know that knowledge built upon these is true.

    As I said, knowledge built upon them is true, *given* the postulate. Two straight lines *do* meet in some geometries, and they don’t in others.

    I say it is objectively true that two line segments perpendicular to a single line segment are parallel to each other.

    I think this is not true in some geometries.

    I say you can know that the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

    I’m fairly sure that this is not true in some geometries.

    Can you please tell me a postulate such as you describe and show that the knowledge thus derived is not actually knowledge?

    If we accept that knowledge must be based on at least one assumption (the LNC), and maybe others, then we can know lots of things with that qualified definition of knowledge, but you can’t then say that the LNC or those other assumptions is/are something we know without observation because we’ve already called it a necessary assumption.

    So we need to keep the following straight:

    Postulates: like the LNC and maybe some others, these are necessities in order to even discuss anything;

    Knowledge: a conclusion based on observation and verification and also relies on some necessary postulates or a few assumptions;

    Qualia: (I’m not sure I can define qualia strictly here).

    Lastly:
    We wouldn’t have knowledge as to whether Mary, in particular, showered yesterday, beyond the statistical, including when we talk to Mary tomorrow and she tells us she showered, we have statistics built from our past experience with Mary when we have directly observed her showering (“Oops, I didn’t think anyone was in the shower!”) or based on how often she lies to us.

  72. Paul,
    So far you don’t *know* anything (trust me, I know). Everything is based on assumptions that you have no real knowledge of. Your knowledge of the assumption is not real knowledge – it’s an assumption that you may or may not (or both) have had, which was based on reasoning or sensory input that you may or may not (or both) have had.

    To tweak a popular phrase: it’s ‘assumptions all the way down’ with no real knowledge whatsoever….and you can’t even *know* that.

    To repeat what Charlie said, if we are not to know anything then why, why, why do you keep posting?

    EDIT:
    If you change your mind and conclude that you really *know* (not assume) you made an assumption then we can talk.

  73. SteveK, your characterization of my idea ignores what I’ve already said about the parallel to geometry, so why won’t you acknowledge that in your posts?

    Would you say that we don’t know anything about geometry, too, even though that is exlicitly based on postulates?

  74. HI Paul,
    I’m on my way out the door so I’ll have to hit most of your points later.
    However, on “which geometry?” , well, you choose, as you seem very knowledgeable on the subject (remember to refer to the actual question when you do).

    But when I address the rest of your post I’m going to be referring to Euclidean geometry.

    So we need to keep the following straight:

    Postulates: like the LNC and maybe some others, these are necessities in order to even discuss anything;

    Knowledge: a conclusion based on observation and verification and also relies on some necessary postulates or a few assumptions;

    Why must we keep straight your question-begging? If you were just going to define “knowledge” as that based upon observation and verification why did you bother to ask in the first place whether any knowledge could be otherwise? You already knew the answer. Given your own invented parameters you can have anything you want.

    On What About Mary – thanks for finally admitting the failure of your previous standard to address the question and provide knowledge in that situation. I’ll emend our previous discussion on the topic this evening, and link it for you.
    We do advance around here once in awhile.

  75. Paul,
    I did considered what you said about geometry. My question is easy…

    Do you have actual knowledge of the postulates?

  76. SteveK, I don’t know what you mean about knowledge of the postulates. Can you explain?

    Charlie, I didn’t just define knowledge arbitrarily, as a form of question-begging, but developed that definition based on the ideas that we threw back and forth, came up with that definition as the only one that made any sense, or at least that is my claim.

    And, Charlie, is it only other people who advance, who modify their ideas on occasion, or do you do that too?

  77. SteveK, please answer my question about geometry. Do you think that we know something about geometry, given that it is based on postulates? If you say yes, then why is not that an analogy that can help one to understand the idea that I’m claiming for assumptions like the LNC?

  78. Paul,

    SteveK, I don’t know what you mean about knowledge of the postulates. Can you explain?

    You speak as if you have actual knowledge of the postulate details. To be clear, I’m not talking about the truth/false nature of the postulates for that is a separate question.

    If you do, then you have knowledge without the need for any assumptions. At some point, the assumptions stop and the knowledge just IS.

    If not, then you are on the road to an infinite regress without knowing ANYTHING because everything is based on an assumption that you have no actual knowledge of. Make sense?

    Do you think that we know something about geometry, given that it is based on postulates? If you say yes, then why is not that an analogy that can help one to understand the idea that I’m claiming for assumptions like the LNC?

    I’d say we know geometry because we were made to know it. Same with logic.

    If I can know my thoughts without the need for assumptions (which are just more thoughts) then it seems obvious, per logic, that assumptions aren’t required for actual knowledge.

    Where’s Holo when you need him?

  79. SteveK, I don’t think it leads to infinite regress if I know what the postulate is, I’m not sure what details you mean, but let’s take the LNC. We can say what that “law” (assumption) is. I’ve in effect defined what the LNC is, are you intending that definition of any word would have to be considered in figuring out whether an infinite regress occurred? That sounds wrong to me, but I can’t put my finger on it.

    I’d say we know geometry because we were made to know it.

    I have to honestly say that I was stunned to read that. That statement ignores the role of postulates in geometry, and apparently ignores the existence of geometries different from Euclidean, including the difference in their postulates. Am I wrong about that? If not, please explain how your statement acknowledges and handles postulates and their differences in different geometries.

    As far as knowing thoughts, remember that the limits of this discussion about knowledge was limited by me to knowledge about the outside world, excluding qualia, which I think can include our own thoughts.

  80. Charlie,

    Your comments seem less and less about being real here.
    We can trust Craig’s arguments when they are logically sound, contain true premises, comport with fact, etc.

    Sure we can trust them when they are sound. The question is, should we trust that craig is not simply ignoring evidence and argument to the contrary, given the statement I quoted above.

    If you’d been kind enough to supply a link with that damning quote I’d show you what Craig meant, why the context is important and why a man whose life is about evidence and positive argumentation ought to be taken seriously.

    The damning quote is from his book “Reasonable Faith”.
    http://jcnot4me.com/Items/contra_craig/contra_craig.htm
    The above link is from a person who presented craig with that quote, asked him to affirm it, and presented craig with a though experiment concerning falsification of the resurrection. If presented with this falsification, craig would continue to assert it’s truth.

    I’d show you why your conclusion “regardless of the evidence…” does not follow from his quote.

    Please, in light of the though experiment presented to craig from the above link, show me how “regardless of the evidence” does not follow.

    I’ll grant you, Craig is a great debater and can make a persuasive argument, but from my (admittedly limited) exposure to his work, he bases those arguments on assumptions which are not known to hold, even in the fashion we “know” the LNC to hold, which is being argued above.

  81. Charlie, one other thought about definitions.

    Would you accept a difference between knowledge and assumption? If so, I presume it’s the one I recognize as well. And, if so, then wouldn’t you agree that the LNC is an assumption (lacking any proof, which would seem to be circular in any form) and not knowledge?

  82. Paul,

    We can say what that “law” (assumption) is.

    If you actually know what the law is, then you can say it. Do you assume to know the law – which is not knowing – or do you actually know it? If you actually know it then, by definition, you know it without any qualifier.

    That statement ignores the role of postulates in geometry, and apparently ignores the existence of geometries different from Euclidean, including the difference in their postulates. Am I wrong about that?

    I’m not ignoring the postulates. I know the postulates themselves without relying on more postulates such as: ‘assuming (not knowing) I’m not a brain in a vat’, ‘assuming (not knowing) I’m not hallucinating or dreaming or ‘assuming (not knowing) I can think rationally’.

    Assumptions on top of assumptions on top of assumptions add up to NO KNOWLEDGE just like a sum of zeros add up to zero.

    Now, if I can actually *know* the assumptions (they’re no longer assumptions are they?) then why can’t I know the truth value of them?

  83. SteveK,

    If you actually know what the law is, then you can say it. Do you assume to know the law – which is not knowing – or do you actually know it? If you actually know it then, by definition, you know it without any qualifier.

    i know what the law means. I assume the truth of the law as we seem to agree it can’t be tested – it’s as assumption in various systems of logic, and also appears to apply in reality.

    Now, if I can actually *know* the assumptions (they’re no longer assumptions are they?) then why can’t I know the truth value of them?

    And here I was thinking this was what we were discussing here with Paul (and myself, though poorly) taking the position that we can’t know the truth value of them and have to assume it.

  84. SteveK, do you think we know the proofs of geometry even though they are completely dependent upon postulates, or do we not know them?

    We don’t say that we know a big zero about geometry, but every single thing we know about geometry we know only because of initial postulates.

    You’re trying to make the idea of “know” do much, much more than it has to. It only need be limited by being dependent on a few assumptions, like the LNC, as well as observables. That’s all it has to do to work for us.

  85. Havoc

    i know what the law means.

    Which means you know the truth value of the question: Can I know what the law means? And you know it without assumption!

    I assume the truth of the law as we seem to agree it can’t be tested – it’s as assumption in various systems of logic, and also appears to apply in reality.

    I can understand struggling with truth value, but don’t tell me it’s because it can’t be tested. This didn’t prevent you from knowing the truth value above.

  86. Hi Paul,

    And, Charlie, is it only other people who advance, who modify their ideas on occasion, or do you do that too?

    Sure my views change. But I think it is more than appropriate to point out, on yet another thread where you are impervious to our arguments, that you are now arguing a point contrary to the one you previously advanced and made impervious to our arguments.

    Charlie, one other thought about definitions.
    Would you accept a difference between knowledge and assumption? If so, I presume it’s the one I recognize as well. And, if so, then wouldn’t you agree that the LNC is an assumption (lacking any proof, which would seem to be circular in any form) and not knowledge?

    True, knowledge and assumptions are not the same thing. Knowledge is justified true belief. Belief in LNC is very much justified, as outlined previously, and is very much true. And the logical deductions reflecting its truth/depending upon it, are knowledge as well.

    You keep asking Steve if he thinks your view of geometry allows for you to have knowledge when the foundation of discovery and proofs is based upon postulates. Why don’t you answer? I asked you over and over about what you meant – is it knowledge? Do you call it knowledge

    SteveK, do you think we know the proofs of geometry even though they are completely dependent upon postulates, or do we not know them?

    Paul, do you think we know them?
    You really seem to sometimes, and then you seem to think otherwise at other times. So, do you?
    You never did answer this:

    You are presenting geometry as though it is not true but merely consistent within arbitrary bounds.

    Have you picked a geometry to discuss? No? Then I pick Euclidean. Are the proofs of Euclidean geometry true, or are they merely consistent within arbitrary bounds?

    If we accept that knowledge must be based on at least one assumption (the LNC), and maybe others, then we can know lots of things with that qualified definition of knowledge, but you can’t then say that the LNC or those other assumptions is/are something we know without observation because we’ve already called it a necessary assumption.

    What does that qualified definition do? Does it mean we know the thing or not? How much is it qualified?
    Calling it a “necessary” assumption makes it knowledge. If it is necessary so that our views comport with reality then we have an amazing degree of justification to believe it true.

    Oh hey, SteveK, good points on “assumption” v. knowledge. I’ll erase mine…

  87. Paul

    We don’t say that we know a big zero about geometry, but every single thing we know about geometry we know only because of initial postulates.

    No. Imagine a world prior to the first geometry postulate.

    You can’t develop a postulate about geometry without FIRST knowing (not assuming) what geometry is about and what it is not about. You know (not assume) that geometry is about lines, planes and angles, and not about density, color and velocity.

    You can’t develop a postulate about parallel lines without FIRST knowing (not assuming) what ‘parallel’ and ‘lines’ are.

    You can’t develop a postulate about right angle triangles without FIRST knowing (not assuming) what all of these terms mean.

    But that means you KNOW *something* about geometry BEFORE you write out your first postulate. Hmmm….

  88. Hi Havoc,

    Sure we can trust them when they are sound. The question is, should we trust that craig is not simply ignoring evidence and argument to the contrary, given the statement I quoted above.

    You can examine the evidence yourself. You can check to see if he;s ignoring any evidence, rather than just doubting the premise of a thought experiment.

    I’ll grant you, Craig is a great debater and can make a persuasive argument, but from my (admittedly limited) exposure to his work, he bases those arguments on assumptions which are not known to hold, even in the fashion we “know” the LNC to hold, which is being argued above.

    Name one such assumption, please.

    As for what Craig means about attending to the testimony of the Holy Spirit you can check his discussion here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5901

    The point is about knowledge versus demonstration. He has the direct testimony of the Holy Spirit that tells him that Christianity is true and for this reason if he finds objections to Christianity which he can’t answer then he need not abandon his faith on that basis (how many objections can you not answer to naturalism?).
    This does not mean that he ignores evidence, but that his faith is not subject to every bit of criticism that crosses his path such that he must be thrown into perpetual agnosticism until he can have complete knowledge of the world. In fact, Craig confronts all of the evidence out there and finds that Christianity is not only true by veridical experience but by consistency with the facts (as opposed to a counter-factual thought experiment).

    This view of the matter enables us to hold to a reasonable faith which is supported by argument and evidence without our making that argument and evidence the foundation of our faith. We can show an unbeliever that our faith is true without being dependent upon the vagaries of argument and evidence for the assurance that our faith is true; at the same time we know confidently and without embarrassment that our faith is true without our falling into relativistic subjectivism.

    So, did this swipe at Craig have anything to do with the link I provided? Does his faith have anything to do with the relevance of his summary?

  89. You can examine the evidence yourself. You can check to see if he;s ignoring any evidence, rather than just doubting the premise of a thought experiment.

    I do just that and find that he’s generally avoiding or misrepresenting something. Though he does it so well.

    Name one such assumption, please.

    In arguing for a creator, he often claims that the unverse had a beginning, yet scientifically we don’t know if that question makes sense. He’s ignoring that, and the only reason I can see is because ignoring it helps his argument. Would you like some more?

    He has the direct testimony of the Holy Spirit that tells him that Christianity is true and for this reason if he finds objections to Christianity which he can’t answer then he need not abandon his faith on that basis (how many objections can you not answer to naturalism?).

    I think you’re saying I’m a philosophical naturalist again. If you can provide some kind of evidence for the supernatural, I’d have to review my position.
    Regardless, why should I trust the testimony of the Holy Spirit, especially someone else’s claim to it? I’m happy to answer “I don’t know” to lots of things. I do think it’s a little premature when someone says “God did it” however. As I said, I’d change my views if presented with evidence. It seems craig (given the thought experiment) would not.

    Craig confronts all of the evidence out there and finds that Christianity is not only true by veridical experience but by consistency with the facts (as opposed to a counter-factual thought experiment).

    What was counter-factual about the thought experiment? Craig was presented with a scenario which provided evidence counter to something he accepts as true. And instead of changing his belief, he would ignore the evidence. Am I seeing the scenario incorrectly? Please explain if I am.

    So, did this swipe at Craig have anything to do with the link I provided?

    No. I simply don’t take craig seriously or at face value. I don’t find him convincing.

    Does his faith have anything to do with the relevance of his summary?

    Certainly. He assumes things are true which we don’t know are true (The universe had beginning being a meaningful question). He also assumes things are true which we have no reason to believe are true, and contradict many things we have good reason to believe are true (The resurrection). His summary suffers from this, as do most of the arguments I’ve seen from him.

    I’m very curious about the testimony of the Holy Spirit. How can we discern it from some kind of delusion, or schizophrenia?

  90. Belief in LNC is very much justified, as outlined previously, and is very much true.

    I missed that part where LNC was shown not to be an assumption, but something that is true. Can you show me where that was?

    Charlie:

    Why don’t you answer? I asked you over and over about what you meant – is it knowledge? Do you call it knowledge.

    It was here all along–Paul:

    We don’t say that we know a big zero about geometry, but every single thing we know about geometry we know only because of initial postulates.

    Charlie:

    Are the proofs of Euclidean geometry true, or are they merely consistent within arbitrary bounds?

    No difference, if by arbitrary bounds you mean the initial postulates.

    Charlie:

    Does it mean we know the thing or not?

    A perfect example of the absolutist, black/white mindset. You might as well say, “Either we know something or we don’t, and any other consideration is meaningless.” You’re wanting knowledge to be something absolute and ontologically pure, and because the LNC is an assumption, I don’t see how we get there, if only because, on this planet, we are finite, fallible beings. All knowledge (excluding qualia and maybe an other example I hadn’t thought of) based on observation is ultimately, at the way, way, way, final analysis, provisional.

    Calling it a “necessary” assumption makes it knowledge. If it is necessary so that our views comport with reality then we have an amazing degree of justification to believe it true.

    Wrong. That’s not why it was necessary. It was necessary to even have a conversation about what might be knowledge. It was necessary to even to be able to say what is true. That issue is even prior to whether our views comport with reality (which is just a question of whether we’re right or wrong; the LNC deals with whether we can even distinguigh between the concepts of right and wrong; actually whether we can even distinguish anything at all! Bananas are apples without the LNC).

  91. SteveK, your examples are not knowledge, but definitions.

    The theorems of geometry make predictions, but definitions can’t (DL, you’d be proud of me! [tear] )

    Aha, so now there’s another aspect of this issue that we have to distinguish from the others:

    knowledge
    assumptions
    definitions

  92. Hi Paul,

    I missed that part where LNC was shown not to be an assumption, but something that is true.

    If it’s not true we can’t know anything or reason to anything or communicate. We can do these things. It is shown to be true.

    We don’t say that we know a big zero about geometry, but every single thing we know about geometry we know only because of initial postulates.

    “But”…
    What does “but” do for you here? Is it knowledge or not? Do we know it or not? Does it’s being based upon initial postulates invalidate the knowledge? Every bit of knowledge is based upon initial postulates. Is all knowledge invalidated? Or is this “but” a smokescreen to avoid the obvious once again?
    Please, Paul, a yes or no once in a while would be nice. If you really have any confidence in your ideas and your thinking ability you should be able to step out from behind the obfuscation.

    No difference, if by arbitrary bounds you mean the initial postulates.

    “If”. So, are postulates arbitrary? Do they invalidate knowledge? Don’t they invalidate all knowledge? What did you mean in your initial question about knowledge if all knowledge is invalidated?

    A perfect example of the absolutist, black/white mindset. You might as well say, “Either we know something or we don’t, and any other consideration is meaningless.” You’re wanting knowledge to be something absolute and ontologically pure, and because the LNC is an assumption, I don’t see how we get there, if only because, on this planet, we are finite, fallible beings. All knowledge (excluding qualia and maybe an other example I hadn’t thought of) based on observation is ultimately, at the way, way, way, final analysis, provisional.

    OK, Paul. Why did you ask a question about “can we have knowledge” if you can’t discuss knowledge? To answer your question knowledge has to mean something. So all knowledge is way,way provisional. So why did you ask your question in the first place? So what’s the point, you accept no knowledge as knowledge, oh yeah, and especially non-observational knowledge – for some reason.

    Wrong. That’s not why it was necessary. It was necessary to even have a conversation about what might be knowledge. It was necessary to even to be able to say what is true.

    Wait up. Are you trying to say that because the LNC is necessary to have a conversation that it is then not necessary for all knowledge and the use of reason? This is a false dichotomy as it is necessary for both. As such, it is highly justified. And it is also true, being that we actually can have true ideas about the world. As such, it is knowledge.
    More to the point, you are trying to argue two things at the same time. You are trying to say that the LNC itself is not knowledge. But the LNC is used to reason to unobserved knowledge about the real world. This knowledge, too, you want to pretend is not knowledge (because it conflicts with your empiricism – which is the very factor that makes knowledge provisional in the first place) because of its reliance upon the LNC. But, again, ALL knowledge is thus grounded … or ungrounded. So once again, why do you ask a question distinguishing the observed from the self-evident in terms of knowledge?

    And if the LNC is necessary only to have conversation but not because our views comport with reality then why would we bother to converse? It’s not necessary only to “say what’s true” but to “know what’s true” and for there to “be anything that’s true”. What’s there to talk about if the ontology doesn’t precede the discussion?

  93. Paul
    March 14th, 2008 at 5:02 pm
    Regarding whether knowledge must be tested or verified, I’d like to discuss a specific example.

    So, can someone state some knowledge about the outside world, beyond our minds, that hasn’t been tested and verified? I know I’ve qualified the question (I’m excluding qualia), but bear with me anyway.

    Given all you can actually say about knowledge, here is your question properly-worded:
    Paul
    March 14th, 2008 at 5:02 pm
    So, can someone state some provisional knowledge based upon assumed postulates about the outside world, beyond our minds, that hasn’t been tested and verified? I know I’ve qualified the question (I’m excluding qualia), but bear with me anyway.
    =======
    Yes! As above.

  94. Hi Havok

    I do just that and find that he’s generally avoiding or misrepresenting something. Though he does it so well.

    I don’t believe you have actually looked at the evidence – Craig’s or otherwise. Craig does not avoid or misrepresent.

    In arguing for a creator, he often claims that the unverse had a beginning, yet scientifically we don’t know if that question makes sense. He’s ignoring that, and the only reason I can see is because ignoring it helps his argument. Would you like some more?

    Claims? He is citing the current knowledge of the universe based upon the current theory and the best evidence and showing that God is the best explanation for it. He is not ignoring anything. He describes the problems with postulating an eternal universe (or multi-verse) and why these ideas are not mainstream.
    Would I like more? Yeah, you bet.

    I think you’re saying I’m a philosophical naturalist again. If you can provide some kind of evidence for the supernatural, I’d have to review my position.

    So the answer is that there are very many problems entailed in naturalism which the naturalist cannot answer, but that doesn’t mean he abandons his faith in it. He expects that some future explanation will make sense of it and that he can justify his faith upon other grounds. Which also works for Craig.

    Regardless, why should I trust the testimony of the Holy Spirit, especially someone else’s claim to it?

    Don’t! Nobody asked you to. If you’d read the first link you’d find none of this relevant and if you’d read the second link (or my response) you’d find nobody has suggested this. That is the entire point. Craig’s belief is grounded by his intimate knowledge of the Holy Spirit. But when weighing his veridical experience against the universe, or making a case for someone who has no such experience, he must engage the questions of evidence and reason.

    I’m happy to answer “I don’t know” to lots of things. I do think it’s a little premature when someone says “God did it” however. As I said, I’d change my views if presented with evidence. It seems craig (given the thought experiment) would not.

    But it’s not premature to say “God didn’t do it”?

    What was counter-factual about the thought experiment? Craig was presented with a scenario which provided evidence counter to something he accepts as true. And instead of changing his belief, he would ignore the evidence. Am I seeing the scenario incorrectly? Please explain if I am.

    We don’t know the nuance or substance of his so-called discussion. But Craig has a knowledge of the truth of Christianity, and it is supported by evidence. One counter-to it does not puncture it, but, as he said, could be an error.

    No. I simply don’t take craig seriously or at face value. I don’t find him convincing.

    On the link I provided?

    Me: Does his faith have anything to do with the relevance of his summary?
    You: Certainly.

    Bogus. You don’t know what his summary was.

    He assumes things are true which we don’t know are true (The universe had beginning being a meaningful question).

    He assumes the best conclusions of science are useful to discuss.

    He also assumes things are true which we have no reason to believe are true, and contradict many things we have good reason to believe are true (The resurrection).

    False. Question-begging. Nobody “assumes” the Resurrection. He demonstrates the validity of the claim and supports it with evidence and logic. We have many reasons to believe it is true – Tom asked if you were willing to engage the evidence and you fudged free of his question.

    His summary suffers from this, as do most of the arguments I’ve seen from him.

    How so?

    I’m very curious about the testimony of the Holy Spirit. How can we discern it from some kind of delusion, or schizophrenia?

    Hmm. I bet there are some kind of diagnostic methods. For one, you could find out if people who have spiritual experiences exhibit the symptoms of the mentally ill or impaired. When you do you’ll find out that they are actually more mentally stable than the average person, better adjusted, happier, and have a better view of reality. You could scan their brains and find out if their experiences correlate neurologically the same way a schizophrenic’s would, or the way they would if they were imagining their experiences.
    In short, you could engage the evidence.

  95. As I thought, here’s what Craig has to say on the matter of proving Jesus was not resurrected:
    http://www.leestrobel.com/newsletters/2007APRIL/LS_RealJesusTomb

    I once asked Christian scholar William Lane Craig, “What if we got a news flash from Jerusalem that it had been conclusively proven that the bones of Jesus had been discovered?” His response was crisp: “It would falsify Christianity.” Said the apostle Paul in First Corinthians 15:17: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

  96. Paul
    Yes or no?

    Do you know *something* about music chords before the first note is put to paper and tested?

    Do you know *something* about gravity before the first hypothesis is put to paper and tested?

  97. Charlie wrote:

    If it’s not true we can’t know anything or reason to anything or communicate. We can do these things. It is shown to be true.

    No, we can’t do them if it’s an assumption or a postulate, but we can know things based on assumptions like we do in geometry (excepting qualia).

    Does it’s being based upon initial postulates invalidate the knowledge? Every bit of knowledge is based upon initial postulates. Is all knowledge invalidated?

    We agree. We can know things based on initial postulates. However, that is a different situation than if we know things *not* based on initial postulates, which is why the distinction is crucial, and that’s all that I’ve ever said. Knowing something based on an assumption is a completely different state of affairs than making the assumption itself.

    We know qualia not based on initial postulates. When we know the theorems of Euclidean geometry, some of them are false in other geometries. In the case of the LNC, we can’t even discuss anything without it, so alternatives don’t work, but it is still an assumption, not knowledge. We must reserve the word “knowledge” for the combination of assumptions about reason and observation.

    And if you go back to the context of my original question, you will now see how crucial this distinction is I was talking about whether knowledge needed to be tested and verified. You can’t verify an assumptionBut, given an assumption about reason (the LNC, etc.), we can then test and verify observations, which is what knowledge is, even if it is provisional and based on postulates. Sorry, that’s all we have. That doesn’t make the verification and testing any less important.

    OK, Paul. Why did you ask a question about “can we have knowledge” if you can’t discuss knowledge? To answer your question knowledge has to mean something. So all knowledge is way,way provisional. So why did you ask your question in the first place?

    Just because knowledge is provisional doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss it, right? Making knowledge as useful as we can is important, and it’s also important to understand its limitations so we can use it as best we can.

    My only point about why the LNC was necessary, if you actually try to understand me a little, was to prevent it from being classified as knowledge, which you were trying to do:
    Charlie:

    Calling it a “necessary” assumption makes it knowledge.

    ==========

    So, can someone state some provisional knowledge based upon assumed postulates about the outside world, beyond our minds, that hasn’t been tested and verified? I know I’ve qualified the question (I’m excluding qualia), but bear with me anyway.

    And this is supposed to make some rhetorical point?

  98. SteveK, all I’d have concerning gravity is qualia before the first hypothesis. (I presume we’re speaking formally, trying to lay out how things work with reason and intellectual rigor, which is different from how I might live my day-to-day life naively.

  99. HI Paul,

    We agree. We can know things based on initial postulates.

    Thank you.

    However, that is a different situation than if we know things *not* based on initial postulates, which is why the distinction is crucial, and that’s all that I’ve ever said.

    However, that is a different situation than if we know things *not* based on initial postulates, which is why the distinction is crucial, and that’s all that I’ve ever said. Is there any such thing?

    Knowing something based on an assumption is a completely different state of affairs than making the assumption itself.

    All knowledge is based upon assumptions.
    Yes, making the assumption is a different activity.

    In the case of the LNC, we can’t even discuss anything without it, so alternatives don’t work, but it is still an assumption, not knowledge.

    False. Your assertion that it is just an assumption and not knowledge does not counter my argument that it is knowledge.

    And if you go back to the context of my original question, you will now see how crucial this distinction is I was talking about whether knowledge needed to be tested and verified. You can’t verify an assumption

    Yes you can. Just not by testing or empirical means.

    And if you go back to the context of my original question, you will now see how crucial this distinction is I was talking about whether knowledge needed to be tested and verified.

    And it needn’t be.

    You can’t verify an assumption.But, given an assumption about reason (the LNC, etc.), we can then test and verify observations, which is what knowledge is, even if it is provisional and based on postulates. Sorry, that’s all we have.

    Since you’ve defined testing and verification to be of the empirical nature, no, that’s not all we have. I return you to my original answers.

    My only point about why the LNC was necessary, if you actually try to understand me a little, was to prevent it from being classified as knowledge, which you were trying to do:

    Your only point about the LNC, and I understand you very well, is wrong. The LNC is known and belongs in the realm of knowledge. You’ve set out, once again, with an a priori idea of what is knowledge (science, true, real, etc., in previous threads) and are trying to tailor a demarcation to fit your arbitrary choice. As you say, all you are trying to do is find a way to keep LNC from being classified as knowledge. That does severe damage to pursuit of knowledge and does not allow you to honestly explore the issue. Why not first explore what we know, and then see if the LNC fits in? This is what science and philosophy do – they try to formalize ways to describe the way we come to know things – they do not prescribe those ways. Your method is artificial and transparent, but I do thank you for making it explicit as well.

    And this is supposed to make some rhetorical point?

    Yes. You didn’t get it? Nobody would have bothered with your question if you’d posed it as you mean it, and you’d have been making no point whatsoever. Whatever your source of knowledge it is based upon (or is) an initial assumption. According to your preferred source, KArl Popper, there is no such thing as theory-free observation. And all knowledge (according to you) is provisional and tentative, so you have no case against one type in opposition to another.

    Since you’ve used this formulation many times yourself and with far less provocation I know you will be sympathetic to my next questions.
    Yes or no, with no qualification or equivocation, could you please answer the following:
    Do you think we know the proofs of geometry?
    Further on geometry, you said:

    No difference, if by arbitrary bounds you mean the initial postulates.

    “If”.

    And I asked:

    So, are postulates arbitrary? Do they invalidate knowledge? Don’t they invalidate all knowledge? What did you mean in your initial question about knowledge if all knowledge is invalidated?

    So, with yes or no, can you answer:
    Do you think the bounds of geometry are arbitrary?
    Do you think the initial postulates are arbitrary?

    As per this:

    If we accept that knowledge must be based on at least one assumption (the LNC), and maybe others, then we can know lots of things with that qualified definition of knowledge, but you can’t then say that the LNC or those other assumptions is/are something we know without observation because we’ve already called it a necessary assumption.

    I asked this:

    What does that qualified definition do? Does it mean we know the thing or not? How much is it qualified?

    Can you answer this formulation directly, with a yes or no:
    Does your qualification mean that knowing, thus qualified, is not really knowing?

  100. SteveK, all I’d have concerning gravity is qualia before the first hypothesis. (I presume we’re speaking formally, trying to lay out how things work with reason and intellectual rigor, which is different from how I might live my day-to-day life naively.

    And qualia is knowledge, right?
    Yes, a different, untestable knowledge, which you have chosen not to discuss in your question – but it is knowledge?

  101. Charlie, I’ve asked before how do we know that the LNC is true, and I haven’t gotten an answer, just assertions. If you can enlighten me, please do so. It’s very hard to imagine *any* kind of proof or evidence or logic that the LNC is true that doesn’t rely on the LNC. That’s why it’s an assumption.

    [Edit: Charlie, please read the rest of this post, I may have a way out of this issue directly above for both of us.]

    [You can’t verify an assumption] Yes you can. Just not by testing or empirical means.

    Can you please offer the definitive example? And, just to clarify, we’re not talking about an assumption in the sense of an empirical guess, but in the sense of a postulate.

    I return you to my original answers.

    But your original answers only led me to the very place at which you want to return me to your original answers. And, a little specificity would be nice, too.

    Charlie, you’re saying that the LNC is knowledge without acknowledging the distinctions and the implicit definition I’m offering for it. If you ignore that and just keep asserting that it’s knowledge according to your definition, we won’t get anywhere.

    I’ll try one more time. The LNC is a postulate because without it we can’t even have a discussion, much less know what a word means, etc. If you can support a contrary claim, please lay it out once again for me, clearly, but let’s not have it just be another assertion. I’ve offered a reason why the LNC is a postulate, so I’ve gone beyond a mere claim.

    Do you think we know the proofs of geometry?

    This is meaningless unless we agree on the meaning of the word “know.” I take the word “know” to mean verified, or proved, or the like, based on some starting assumptions or postulates. This means that different assumptions or postulates would lead us to know different things, so what we know is dependent on those postulates. If we both accept that meaning, then I answer “Yes.”

    Do you think the bounds of geometry are arbitrary?
    Do you think the initial postulates are arbitrary?

    I presume you mean Euclidean geometry. My answer is yes, especially considering that it’s not clear that the universe, at the level of Einsteinian physics, is Euclidean (although it works fine for everyday life in most cases). If one geometry gets us better results than another, it’s more useful, but it doesn’t make it’s postulates any less arbitrary.

    Does your qualification mean that knowing, thus qualified, is not really knowing?

    My definition of knowing includes this qualification.

    Furthermore, we know some things in very distinct ways. I know qualia in a way that does not need to be verified, but everything else I know does need to be verified (on an intellectually rigorous level), and these ways of knowing are also distinct from assumptions and postulates as well as definitions.

    I think we can’t tell if we might agree about this until we take these distinctions into account.

    When you ask me if qualia is knowledge, you are blurring these important epistemological distinctions. Qualia is knowledge in a very different way than knowledge that ultimately needs to be verified, which is very different in crucial ways from assumptions or postulates like the LNC, and from definitions. So to merely ask if something is knowledge or not without making this distinction is hopeless. I’m afraid that, without being careful with these distinctions, we can mistake one for another, which will lead to not good results.

  102. Hi Paul,

    Charlie, I’ve asked before how do we know that the LNC is true, and I haven’t gotten an answer, just assertions. If you can enlighten me, please do so. It’s very hard to imagine *any* kind of proof or evidence or logic that the LNC is true that doesn’t rely on the LNC. That’s why it’s an assumption.

    This is not correct. You’ve received the answer many times. You just don’t like it because it does not fit your contrived and arbitrary definition of knowledge. But it does fit with the widely understood definition used on the blog and everywhere else I’ve read discussion. That is, knowledge is a justified true belief. And I’ve demonstrated time and again why one is justified in having a belief in the LNC and why it is true.

    This is meaningless unless we agree on the meaning of the word “know.” I take the word “know” to mean verified, or proved, or the like, based on some starting assumptions or postulates.

    Great, so you once again make explicit your question-begging in your non-request to us. To “know” means to verify, and then you ask, can we “know” without verifying.

    Q: Do you think we know the proofs of geometry?

    This is meaningless unless we agree on the meaning of the word “know.” I take the word “know” to mean verified, or proved, or the like, based on some starting assumptions or postulates. This means that different assumptions or postulates would lead us to know different things, so what we know is dependent on those postulates. If we both accept that meaning, then I answer “Yes.”

    You just can’t do it, can you. You ask “Steve, do we know proofs in geometry or not?”. When you’re asked the exact same question you fudge around in so many circles, beg the question and qualify so much that your answer is meaningless. But I’m tired of it and am taking your answer as “Yes, we can know the proofs of geometry”.

    I presume you mean Euclidean geometry. My answer is yes, especially considering that it’s not clear that the universe, at the level of Einsteinian physics, is Euclidean (although it works fine for everyday life in most cases). If one geometry gets us better results than another, it’s more useful, but it doesn’t make it’s postulates any less arbitrary.

    Good enough. Arbitrary postulates and arbitrary boundaries. Therefore, not dictated by nature, or observation, or testing, or verification.
    And yet, resulting in knowledge.
    More to say on this later.

    Does your qualification mean that knowing, thus qualified, is not really knowing?

    My definition of knowing includes this qualification.

    Do remind me of this thread the next time you insist that anybody else answer your question “directly, yes or no”.
    At any rate, can you clarify that answer in context because it makes no sense to me.

    Furthermore, we know some things in very distinct ways. I know qualia in a way that does not need to be verified, but everything else I know does need to be verified (on an intellectually rigorous level), and these ways of knowing are also distinct from assumptions and postulates as well as definitions.

    So affirmed: qualia is knowledge. Therefore, you have knowledge about gravity before you make your first hypothesis. Take that and run with it, Steve.
    Furthermore, you continue to beg the question.

    So to merely ask if something is knowledge or not without making this distinction is hopeless. I’m afraid that, without being careful with these distinctions, we can mistake one for another, which will lead to not good results.

    But you merely asked about knowledge. And then you’ve merely redefined knowledge so may ways that it can only mean that your question cannot be answered and you can’t reflect any true state of knowledge. Through this answer you’ve not only defined knowledge to be that which is testable and verifiable (eliminating the need for your question in the first place) but now, also, to be dependent upon initial postulates: thereby defining postulates to be outside of knowledge.

    I’m afraid that, without being careful with these distinctions, we can mistake one for another, which will lead to not good results.

    Good results regarding what? What’s a good result? How can we mistake these things for one another and what is the damage you allege?

    Now, on to geometry.
    You’ve said many times, in various veiled ways, that we can know geometric proofs. You have admitted that they are founded and based upon postulates, which you call assumptions, which you say are arbitrary, which you say are not, in themselves, knowledge.
    You have separated geometry from the workings of the real world and the universe and placed them in the intellectual, man-made realm located in the mind.
    Therefore, you have zero grounds for dismissing or disallowing as knowledge that which is reasoned to logically, from other postulates, such as you claim the LNC is. When I apply the general postulate (acquiescing to your terms) of the LNC (a thing cannot be not itself and not itself, etc.) to real-world objects, I have knowledge about those objective, real-world, outside the mind, objects. I have this knowledge without verification or empirical testing. I know, for instance, that the thing signified by the word apple is not the thing signified by the word banana. I don’t have to test these things to know this. I know this as an indisputable fact, about things I’ve never seen and have not tested – for instance, the Eiffel Tower is not in both France and China. This is a known fact about the real world that was not gained by testing and need not be verified. You can even present me with an object of an unfamiliar species and I can unequivocally tell you, sans testing, that it is not both itself and not itself.
    With this established, and the fact that knowledge is not defeated by mere reference to the fact that my other examples are based upon these foundational logics, I return you again to my answer about things we can know without testing.
    As you said, you dismissed them on the same grounds as you dismissed my first two examples of unverified knowledge:

    That human reason mirrors reality is founded on testing, too, Charlie’s #3 is not different in principle from his #1 and 2; #3 is just a generaly statement of the specific logical principles in 1 and 2.

  103. Almost, but not quite. The very first step we take when we try to build on an assumption or a postulate is open to error, and therefore must be verified and tested (in logical terms), even if what we are verifying are the principles of geometry or pure logic, and even if we don’t do it empirically or observationally. Haven’t we all made a mistake on a geometry exam? Just because we apply proper principles doesn’t mean we apply them properly. Professional mathematicians still have their work peer reviewed.

    Even the simplest application of the LNC needs to be checked. Here’s my application of the LNC, do you think this needs to be checked or verified?

    “If A is not a not-A, then an apple is not a not-apple.”

    Did I get that right? Did I apply the LNC correctly? Or maybe we don’t even need to check?

    This checking, verification, testing, whatever you want to call it, just doesn’t (need to) happen with qualia or with assumptions, which is why they are such different animals. But once we start to draw some conclusion, we’re open to errors or all kinds. Even for the simplest application of the most basic assumption, it’s hypothetically possible to make a mistake, which requires some verification.

    Do remind me of this thread the next time you insist that anybody else answer your question “directly, yes or no”.

    There’s nothing wrong in asking for a yes or no answer, but sometimes it’s not appropriate for the responder to say yes or no because of the subtleties of the responder’s ideas. So, I can ask a yes or no question and still not give a one-word answer to another’s yes or no question of me and still not be hypocritical. I would have no problem with a nuanced answer to one of my yes or no questions, but that is different from ignoring the terms or the whole point of my question.

    If I have made a request for a yes or no answer when one was not appropriate, I apologize. Note, however, that a request for a yes or no answer is very different from a request for a direct answer. My past requests for direct answers were made because I saw issues being ignored. Requesting a yes or no answer forces the respondant to answer in a way that the qustioner wants, which can limit discussion.

    Charlie, I’ve asked before how do we know that the LNC is true, and I haven’t gotten an answer, just assertions. If you can enlighten me, please do so. It’s very hard to imagine *any* kind of proof or evidence or logic that the LNC is true that doesn’t rely on the LNC. That’s why it’s an assumption.

    This is not correct. You’ve received the answer many times.

    All you have to do is to quote a single thing from this thread to prove me wrong, but you refuse to do that, you’d rather us go ’round and ’round on this, like we don’t do that enough already even when we’re not trying to?

    My definition of “know” isn’t question-begging, it’s the result of recognizing the epistemological distinctions between postulates/assumptions, knowledge, qualia, and definitions.

    I can accept your definition of knowledge as “justified true belief.” Allow me to apply it to my distinctions:

    We know our qualia (I can accurately judge if I’m hungry or not).

    We don’t know assumptions and postulates, like the LNC. We can’t justify an assumption (as distinct from a guess about something empirical).

    We can know things about the outside world, but they have to be, in principle, verified (“Does my gas gauge word accurately?”).

    We can know definitions (a chair is something to sit in), but they are arbitrary in some ways. We don’t have to spell the word chair the way we do, and we don’t have to divvy up the world into defintions in the exact manner that we do sometimes.

    When you’re asked the exact same question you fudge around in so many circles, beg the question and qualify so much that your answer is meaningless.

    I would have been happy to receive such an answer from SteveK. My response is only meaningless if you refuse to see its meaning.

    How can we mistake these things for one another and what is the damage you allege?

    If I try to judge whether my gas gauge works well or not by what I feel about it (my qualia), that can have results that will leave me by the side of the road, literally and figuratively.

  104. Oops, that should have been

    “If A is not a not-A, then an apple is not a apple.”

    I guess this mistake still proves my point, huh?

  105. Paul said:
    Furthermore, we know some things in very distinct ways. I know qualia in a way that does not need to be verified, but everything else I know does need to be verified (on an intellectually rigorous level), and these ways of knowing are also distinct from assumptions and postulates as well as definitions.

    Ahhh…different ways of knowing. Where have we heard “The scientific method isn’t the only way to gain knowledge” before?? Thank you for ‘verifying’ this, Paul.

    Charlie said:
    So affirmed: qualia is knowledge. Therefore, you have knowledge about gravity before you make your first hypothesis. Take that and run with it, Steve.

    I will, Charlie. Thank you again, Paul.

  106. SteveK, could we be a little less about finding a “gotcha” and more about trying to understand each other’s ideas?

    Now, onto the close reading. I shouldn’t have used the word “know” because it contradicts the distinctions I was making. Instead of “ways of knowing,” maybe I should have written “epistemological categories” or some other word that would embrace knowledge from verification and qualia yet still leave room for their differences.

    Lastly, I really hope you don’t start crowing about how I keep on changing my mind, or how I’ve now admitted I was wrong, or whatever. Just imagine what that might be like for you before you’re so ready to apply it yourself to another.

    I know everyone is probably frustrated with those on the other side, because we blog and blog and blog and yet we still disagree. But when we give in to the temptation to crow about someone else, we give up hope of ever finding common ground.

  107. Claims? He is citing the current knowledge of the universe based upon the current theory and the best evidence and showing that God is the best explanation for it. He is not ignoring anything. He describes the problems with postulating an eternal universe (or multi-verse) and why these ideas are not mainstream.

    The currently accepted theory says nothing about the origin. Given the fuziness of space-time in the initial moments of the universe (up until Plank time, I think), asking the question “Did the universe have a beginning?” may not be meaningful, in the same way as saying “What’s north of the north pole?” is not meaningful. The competing theories for the origins are attempting to find out if the question is meaningful, yet Craig assumes it has meaning and goes on to postulate a personl first cause which, unlike the other models for the origins of the universe (multiverse, brane theory, the hawking hartle model etc) does not even have a rigorous mathematical foundation, yet he presents his as the “best explanation”. I’d say that’s ignoring or misrepresenting. Am I misunderstanding his point?

    Would I like more? Yeah, you bet.

    A simple one then. Craig postulates the existence of a personal, interventionist God outside of space-time. As far as we can tell, space-time is causally closed – conservation of energy, thermodynamics etc. Again, he chooses to ignore or brush aside this problem because it supports his point to do so.
    Craig says the fine tuning of the universe supports the existence of the Christian God. Despite a deist God being more than adequate to fine tune the universe, craig also says that “if, for example, the atomic weak force were to be altered in one direction, the universe would have been nothing but hydrogen”. There is much debate as to whether a change of a single force in isolation is possible, or if it might cause a change in the values of the other forces. Simulations of this (could have been Victor Stenger who did this) have shown that varying a single force by a large amounts, larger than mentioned in the traditional fine-tuning argument, with other forces changing in some consistent manner, still allows complexity to form. Craig states the fine tuning argument as if it is a settled issue, yet it plainly isnt.
    More?

    So the answer is that there are very many problems entailed in naturalism which the naturalist cannot answer, but that doesn’t mean he abandons his faith in it. He expects that some future explanation will make sense of it and that he can justify his faith upon other grounds. Which also works for Craig.

    The problems with naturalism is a lack of knowledge. I can’t explain what I don’t understand. This doesn’t seem to be a problem for craig. As the immaterial cannot be measured, it is inherently not-understandable, yet craig is happy to explain it.

    That is the entire point. Craig’s belief is grounded by his intimate knowledge of the Holy Spirit. But when weighing his veridical experience against the universe, or making a case for someone who has no such experience, he must engage the questions of evidence and reason.

    What is this Holy Spirit? If it is something which imparts knowledge, why is it so inconsistent? How can I know I’ve received some kind of revelation and am not deluding myself? Craig claims there is no way to mistake it, but fails to explain why. How can I know if someone else has received “true” testimony, someone like Craig or Saul of Tarsus?

    But it’s not premature to say “God didn’t do it”?

    Where have I said God didn’t do it? “I don’t know” was my response. Perhaps there was a personal first cause for the universe. Perhaps a guy named Jesus was the son of that first cause, and was resurrected. Given what we know of science, I find both to be highly improbable, but not utterly out of the question. I also don’t discount the possibility that an angel named Gabriel visited a guy named Mohammed to provide a final revelation, though I also give it a vanishingly small probability of being true.
    I’m simply following the evidence.

    We don’t know the nuance or substance of his so-called discussion. But Craig has a knowledge of the truth of Christianity, and it is supported by evidence. One counter-to it does not puncture it, but, as he said, could be an error.

    Christianity holds or falls on the historicity of the story of Jesus, especially the resurrection. If it didn’t happen, all of Christianity falls. This is where the “testimony of the Holy Spirit” comes in. In craigs own words
    “The warrant it brings to Christian faith will always exceed the warrant brought against Christian faith by various objections. So Christian faith is unfalsifiable for the person who attends to the witness of the Holy Spirit, not in the sense that are no conditions we can imagine under which Christianity would be false but in the sense that such a person will always have sufficient warrant to continue in Christian faith, even in the face of objections he can’t answer.”
    He seems to be saying that, while he can imagine things which would falsify Christianity (no resurrection), he will always have sufficient cause to doubt the evidence if presented, regardless of what it may be – hence his response to the thought experiment.

    False. Question-begging. Nobody “assumes” the Resurrection. He demonstrates the validity of the claim and supports it with evidence and logic. We have many reasons to believe it is true – Tom asked if you were willing to engage the evidence and you fudged free of his question.

    I’m happy to review the evidence? How did I “fudge free” of the question? I’ve seen him demonstrate the validity of his claims, and it rests on the historical accuracy of the Gospels, as they’re the only documents which mention an emtpy tomb. I’ve not seen evidence to show that the Gospels are historically accurate such that supernatural claims should be taken at face value, but I’m happy to view anything provided.

    How so?

    He claims to have only used science and reason while debating his opponent, yet his initial assumption (God) is unfounded scientifically, and as I’ve tried to point out, he ignores scientific evidence which contradicts his position.

    Hmm. I bet there are some kind of diagnostic methods. For one, you could find out if people who have spiritual experiences exhibit the symptoms of the mentally ill or impaired.

    Since basically all mental illness is a matter of degree’s, you’d find they exibit some signs of the mentally ill or imparied (as does everyone).

    When you do you’ll find out that they are actually more mentally stable than the average person, better adjusted, happier, and have a better view of reality.

    It’s a cheap shot but “ignorance is bliss”. That they’re happier etc would simply show that there is a benefit to belief/community or even ignorance. Would you think christians are better adjusted than buddhists or hindus or muslims? Would we find a similar correlation, regardless of religion? I’d go out on a limb and say Buddhists are likely to fare better than other religions on this front, at least from what I understand concerning their general practices. It would be an interesting study, no doubt.
    What do you mean they have a “better view of reality”?

    You could scan their brains and find out if their experiences correlate neurologically the same way a schizophrenic’s would, or the way they would if they were imagining their experiences.

    Yes you could. That would be an interesting study. You could also check to see if this corresponds to the brain in the same way as other religious experiences, or even normal “intuition” etc.
    You know, using an instrument to induce a magnetic field in a specific portion of the brain, scientists have evoked a “religious experience”?
    That temporal lobe epilepsy causes feelings of “another” to be felt?

    In short, you could engage the evidence.

    Finally, we agree on something. Bravo!
    Now, why shouldn’t we engage the evidence in other fields, which happen to run a little against the grain of the Christian faith?

    ence in other fields, which happen to run a little against the grain of the Christian faith?
    “It would falsify Christianity.”

    And yet there is that thought experiment where he contradicts that position (and seemingly in his writings, as quoted above).

    Why is it reasonable to believe in an interventionist God when we have great confidence in the causal closure of space-time, and we understand how adept a mind is at fooling or deceiving itself?

  108. Here’s a summary of what I’m trying to say:

    Everything we claim to be true, with important exceptions which are noted below, must be able to be verified, tested, checked out, etc., at least in principle. Some claims may be trivial (there is a tree in my backyard), but verification must still potentially be able to be applied.

    Exceptions are:
    1. postulates and assumptions
    2. qualia
    3. definitions [I’m getting a space after the second line that isn’t part of my typing]

    That is why I said that knowledge must be verified, because postulates and assumptions are not knowledge (as assume them, we don’t know them); qualia, if you want, can be included as “knowledge,” but it’s only for a single person, whereas other knowledge is, in principle able to be verified by others; definitions are somewhat arbitrary, and so function a bit like postulates.

    I’m hoping this helps, but I fear that it will set off another round of argument. Sigh.

  109. Hi Paul,
    Reading your recent set of comments to me , starting with “almost but not quite” and ending at the first block quote, could you tell me what you are addressing? Your point is that if we reason improperly we will come to false conclusions? Yeah, okay.

    We don’t know assumptions and postulates, like the LNC. We can’t justify an assumption (as distinct from a guess about something empirical).

    I’ve justified our true knowledge of it countless times. I don’t need to supply quotes because I do it time and again. The LNC is NECESSARILY true if we are to reason and know anything. We CAN reason and know things. Therefore, the LNC is NECESSARILY true. Thus, its justified. Thus, it’s true. Thus, it’s knowledge.
    And yet, who cares?
    You’ve already admitted you have your answer. You accept that there is knowledge which is based upon “assuming” these postulates and you’ve admitted that basing knowledge on these postulates does not invalidate a knowledge claim. So your whole line about logical postulates has either been falsified or was a red herring. Continuing on and on about LNC now is just a basket of said fish.

    We can know things about the outside world, but they have to be, in principle, verified (”Does my gas gauge word accurately?”).

    No they don’t. Not in principle and not in practice. We have direct, firsthand, primitive, self-evident knowledge of these things and we can have derived knowledge from self-evident premises.

    If I try to judge whether my gas gauge works well or not by what I feel about it (my qualia), that can have results that will leave me by the side of the road, literally and figuratively.

    Wow. Well then, by all means, take care not to admit that the LNC is known.

    On your summary, Paul, you’ve left out a category you have admitted yourself – knowledge based upon postulates and assumptions which is not testable and verifiable.
    Also on your summary I refer you back to Bertrand Russell who disagrees with you.

    And it isn’t gloating or playing “gotcha” to point out that the epistemology you are trying to create is so inconsistent and flawed that you have to back away from.

  110. Hi Havoc,

    The currently accepted theory says nothing about the origin.

    Save that there was one.
    http://science.hq.nasa.gov/unive…ience/ bang.html

    The Big Bang Theory is the dominant scientific theory about the origin of the universe. According to the big bang, the universe was created sometime between 10 billion and 20 billion years ago from a cosmic explosion that hurled matter and in all directions.

    http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/academy/universe/ b_bang.html

    One of the most persistently asked questions has been: How was the universe created? Many once believed that the universe had no beginning or end and was truly infinite. Through the inception of the Big Bang theory, however,no longer could the universe be considered infinite. The universe was forced to take on the properties of a finite phenomenon, possessing a history and a beginning.

    Frank Tipler, professor of mathematical physics at Tulane:

    One of the implications of the laws of physics, …is a necessary consequence of the expansion of the universe: it began a finite time ago- the latest measurements indicate 13.4 billion years ago-in a singularity, where the laws of physics themselves do not apply.

    Havoc:

    I’d say that’s ignoring or misrepresenting. Am I misunderstanding his point?

    No, you are misrepresenting the state of our knowledge.

    A simple one then. Craig postulates the existence of a personal, interventionist God outside of space-time. As far as we can tell, space-time is causally closed – conservation of energy, thermodynamics etc. Again, he chooses to ignore or brush aside this problem because it supports his point to do so.

    A Christian who postulates the existence of God and then marshalls the evidence to support it. Postulating entities to better explain data, and then rationally defending that postulate, is not untoward. In debate Craig does not presume God but demonstrates His existence – hence, the debate. That isn’t exactly called “ignoring” evidence. He is not ignoring anything about your “causally closed” universe because 1) there is evidence that it is not causally closed
    2) such laws of physics are in no way violated by the action of a God.
    Your smear is not working at all.

    Craig states the fine tuning argument as if it is a settled issue, yet it plainly isnt.

    It’s called working with the current evidence. The fine-tuning problem is not a secret and it is not controversial. The claims by such as Stenger that the universe can be explained by necessity are a) philosophically so weak that when asked directly he insists not and b) does not eliminate fine-tuning but merely hides it for an extra second.
    The fact is as Craig represents it, the universe is uniquely tuned for life as we know it.

    More? Yes, please.

    Craig claims there is no way to mistake it, but fails to explain why.

    He has never said this and says exactly the opposite in the link I provided you.

    . How can I know if someone else has received “true” testimony, someone like Craig or Saul of Tarsus?

    As I said, it’s none of your concern. Craig is not trying to convince anybody based upon his experience with the Holy Spirit. When he needs to do apoogetics he explains the evidence. And he doesn’t misrepresent it or ignore it..

    Given what we know of science, I find both to be highly improbable, but not utterly out of the question.

    Science tells you nothing on the subject. If you think we are too ignorant in our scientific knowledge when it comes to naturalism try to contemplate our scientific ignorance on this point.

    I also don’t discount the possibility that an angel named Gabriel visited a guy named Mohammed to provide a final revelation, though I also give it a vanishingly small probability of being true.

    You can engage the evidence on this as well, rather than just speculate willy nilly.

    I’m simply following the evidence.

    Are you? Can you provide a speck of evidence that tells us there was no personal first cause for the universe, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God or that Muhammed was not visited by an angel?

    Christianity holds or falls on the historicity of the story of Jesus, especially the resurrection. If it didn’t happen, all of Christianity falls.

    Right, like Craig said in the quote I gave you.

    He seems to be saying that, while he can imagine things which would falsify Christianity (no resurrection), he will always have sufficient cause to doubt the evidence if presented, regardless of what it may be – hence his response to the thought experiment.

    He is talking, I would wager, about the kinds of objections the believer is faced with. These are the kinds of objections (only lesser) which face naturalism with and which you say exist because of our ignorance. That is the situation a Christian is in when he is faced with evidence he that doesn’t fit his worldviewh. As I said, we don’t know the nuance of Craig’s answer to the thought experiment, and we both know what a careful and deliberate speaker he is. As he is purported to have said, he would expect that he was tricked or was in error in the experiment. When Strobel asked him about finding Jesus’ bones he said Christianity would be falsified.

    He claims to have only used science and reason while debating his opponent, yet his initial assumption (God) is unfounded scientifically,

    Where did he say this?

    and as I’ve tried to point out, he ignores scientific evidence which contradicts his position.

    He uses accurate scientific evidence. He also answers any scientific evidence that does not comport to the mainstream. That’s what debate opponents are for as well.

    Since basically all mental illness is a matter of degree’s, you’d find they exibit some signs of the mentally ill or imparied (as does everyone).

    So? You’d find some have tired feet as well. What you’d really find is that they do not especially exhibit symptoms of these, or any other mental illness, and in study after study are the better adjusted subjects.

    It’s a cheap shot but “ignorance is bliss”. That they’re happier etc would simply show that there is a benefit to belief/community or even ignorance.

    It is a cheap shot, and an air ball. I didn’t just say they were happier. They score better on all metrics regarding mental health. People who report spiritual, religious experiences are significantly more likely to score well on a measure of psychological well-being than others.
    The spiritually committed have a lower rate of crime, alcohol abuse, drug addiction, divorce, donate more money, donate more time, etc.

    Yes you could. That would be an interesting study. You could also check to see if this corresponds to the brain in the same way as other religious experiences, or even normal “intuition” etc.

    Not only would it be an interesting study, but it is an interesting study. Guess what the findings were?

    You know, using an instrument to induce a magnetic field in a specific portion of the brain, scientists have evoked a “religious experience”?
That temporal lobe epilepsy causes feelings of “another” to be felt?

    I know of these claims, as investigated by a neurologist. Would you care to discuss them? Did you know Dawkins did not have a religious experience when he wore the helmet?

    Finally, we agree on something. Bravo!
Now, why shouldn’t we engage the evidence in other fields, which happen to run a little against the grain of the Christian faith?

    We should and do. Whom do you think Craig debates – members of his clergy?

    Why is it reasonable to believe in an interventionist God when we have great confidence in the causal closure of space-time, and we understand how adept a mind is at fooling or deceiving itself?

    Because we have no such confidence and the other is irrelevant.

  111. Charlie,

    No, you are misrepresenting the state of our knowledge.

    I don’t see any mention of the smearing of space-time in any of your quotes. That we don’t understand what might have occured prior to the “Planck Time” means we still don’t know if it is a reasonable question. What is north of the north pole?

    A Christian who postulates the existence of God and then marshalls the evidence to support it. Postulating entities to better explain data, and then rationally defending that postulate, is not untoward.

    Yeah, i’m not surprised by it. I think it is intellectually dishonest however (but that’s just me). Postulating additional attributes for that entity when they are not required to explain the data is untoward – a deist God explains the “first cause” as easily as a theistic god.

    In debate Craig does not presume God but demonstrates His existence – hence, the debate.

    I’ve yet to see Craig do this, though I’ve watched a couple of his debates. Perhaps it’s in one of those I haven’t seen. I’ve seen him defend the resurrection by appealing to the Gospels. I’ve seen him defend a first cause to the universe, though giving it attributes which aren’t required. Where does he demonstrate a God, and more specifically the Christian God? A link to a debate or transcript would be great.
    He is not ignoring anything about your “causally closed” universe because 1) there is evidence that it is not causally closed
    2) such laws of physics are in no way violated by the action of a God.
    You mean the 1st and second laws of thermo dynamics don’t hold? That the law of conservation of energy has been falsified? Or do you mean that your definition of God means that he can interact within the universe without breaking these laws? Or are you saying that Craig surely knows about these arguments against an interventionist god, and therefore his position must be that either 1 or 2 is correct?

    Your smear is not working at all.

    I’m not trying to smear. I’m trying to explain why I disagree with Craigs arguments, and generally don’t take them to be valid at first glance. I thought we were discussing that disagreement?

    It’s called working with the current evidence.

    I’m all for that, though I don’t agree that is what Craig is doing.

    The fact is as Craig represents it, the universe is uniquely tuned for life as we know it.

    We know that the universe appears fine tuned, we don’t understand how. Craig presents his how “God did it”, not as a working hypothesis, but as an obvious conclusion. He discounts other hypothesis, but does not present the details of his own. God did it, great. How?
    At least that’s how I read his arguments. Am I wrong? Probably mirepresenting again.

    Me: Craig claims there is no way to mistake it, but fails to explain why.
    You: He has never said this and says exactly the opposite in the link I provided you.

    From the link you provided:
    “(i) that the inner witness of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable”
    It’s his first point concerning the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit.

    As I said, it’s none of your concern. Craig is not trying to convince anybody based upon his experience with the Holy Spirit.

    But he is trying to convince me that his experience of the Holy Spirit is real, isn’t he?
    If he doesn’t think it was real, then what is the point of it. If he does think it’s real I’d like to know why. I might be slow, but I haven’t seen a good explanation for what this testimony is and why it is to be trusted as “true”.
    From what I can see it is something which occurs in your mind (whether internal or imposed from the outside). How then can it be distinguished from everything else which goes on in my mind?

    When he needs to do apoogetics he explains the evidence. And he doesn’t misrepresent it or ignore it

    And I’m attempting to show why I think he does misrepresent and ignore it. I’m obviously either mistaken or doing a bad job.

    Science tells you nothing on the subject. If you think we are too ignorant in our scientific knowledge when it comes to naturalism try to contemplate our scientific ignorance on this point.

    So instead of being skeptical of things which we have not and cannot provide 3rd person evidence for, we should accept not just that it is possible, but that it is likely? I’m sure I must be misunderstanding, because that seems a silly position.

    You can engage the evidence on this as well, rather than just speculate willy nilly.

    I’ve engaged the evidence I’ve found, and read concerning other opinions. I’d say mohammed either made the whole thing up, or was hallucinating. I find those explanations to be much more likely than the visitation of an immaterial being (are angels immaterial or material) as messenger for another immaterial being, to dictate a message of dubious worth. How do you see it?

    Are you? Can you provide a speck of evidence that tells us there was no personal first cause for the universe, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God or that Muhammed was not visited by an angel?

    Yes I think I am. I can’t provide a speck of evidence against those things, which doesn’t make them true or likely.
    I can provide lots of evidence which makes them less likely than other explanations (hallucination for mohammed, extrapolation or wholesale story telling for Jesus, various other models for the first cause including a deistic god). What evidence would you provide for the positive case?

    Right, like Craig said in the quote I gave you.

    So why in the face of scant documentary evidence for it, and flying in the face of what we know concerning physics, biology etc is the resurrection not only the most reasonable, but the actual historical truth? This I don’t understand. If I’m wrong concerning the documentary evidence or the scientific knowledge I’d love to hear it.

    He uses accurate scientific evidence. He also answers any scientific evidence that does not comport to the mainstream. That’s what debate opponents are for as well.

    Yet ignores thermodynamics? Last I heard that was pretty mainstream.

    It is a cheap shot, and an air ball.

    Well, I did agree.

    I didn’t just say they were happier. They score better on all metrics regarding mental health. People who report spiritual, religious experiences are significantly more likely to score well on a measure of psychological well-being than others.

    Do you have a or some studies I could read?

    The spiritually committed have a lower rate of crime, alcohol abuse, drug addiction, divorce, donate more money, donate more time, etc.

    I’ve seen statistics from the US which indicates atheists/non-believers make up a smaller percentage of prison inmates than they do the general population. A similar (or perhaps the same – I don’t have the link handy) study showed lower levels of divorce among the same group.
    Another study has shown that highly irreligious states such as sweden donate far more money per capita (or % GDP) than does the highly religious US.

    Not only would it be an interesting study, but it is an interesting study. Guess what the findings were?

    No idea. Do you have a link?

    I know of these claims, as investigated by a neurologist. Would you care to discuss them? Did you know Dawkins did not have a religious experience when he wore the helmet?

    Lets discuss away. I did realise Dawkins didn’t have the experience, and I seem to recall a clergyman didn’t either, though he was thought to be perfoming some kind of mental gymnsatics to avoid the experience.

    We should and do. Whom do you think Craig debates – members of his clergy?

    No. He does seem to often debate academics with little experience in debate. I also recall some kind of rule about only debating Phd’s.

    Because we have no such confidence and the other is irrelevant.
    As I asked above, can you back up the non-causally closed space-time thing?
    Why is discussing the mind irrelevant, when we’ve been discussing something which is a mental phenomena – the testimony of the Holy Spirit?
    Why dose this internal testimony result in contradictory results – Christians and Muslims are both sure they’re correct given their own internal experiences?

  112. Hi Havoc,

    I don’t see any mention of the smearing of space-time in any of your quotes. That we don’t understand what might have occured prior to the “Planck Time” means we still don’t know if it is a reasonable question. What is north of the north pole?

    What we know is that the laws of physics don’t hold, describe or exist at the singularity and that any cause is outside of these. Of course it’s reasonable to ask the question. Just because science doesn’t have an answer doesn’t mean there is no question. Not all of us buy into scientism, and there is no requirement of Craig that he do so to satisfy your charges.

    Yeah, i’m not surprised by it. I think it is intellectually dishonest however (but that’s just me).

    Of course you do. What do you think of postulating gravitons, strings and multiple universes?

    I’ve yet to see Craig do this, though I’ve watched a couple of his debates. Perhaps it’s in one of those I haven’t seen.

    Yeah, perhaps. Or perhaps you have to pay better attention.

    I’ve seen him defend the resurrection by appealing to the Gospels.

    Wrong. He defends the Resurrection based upon the facts of history.

    I’ve seen him defend a first cause to the universe, though giving it attributes which aren’t required.

    What attributes does he derive from the first cause argument (I guess you mean the Kalam Cosmological argument?) and which are superfluous?
    Here’s that argument.
    http://www.leaderu.com/truth/3truth11.html

    You mean the 1st and second laws of thermo dynamics don’t hold? That the law of conservation of energy has been falsified? Or do you mean that your definition of God means that he can interact within the universe without breaking these laws?

    Why would the designer and upholder have to break His own laws?

    I’m not trying to smear. I’m trying to explain why I disagree with craigs arguments, and generally don’t take them to be valid at first glance. I thought we were discussing that disagreement?

    You don’t know Craig’s arguments and your reaction was instigated not by his arguments but by the link I posted for those who are actually aware of them.

    I’m all for that, though I don’t agree that is what craig is doing.

    You repeat the assertion but none of your claims is true.

    We know that the universe appears fine tuned, we don’t understand how. Craig presents his how “God did it”, not as a working hypothesis, but as an obvious conclusion. He discounts other hypothesis, but does not present the details of his own. God did it, great. How?

    Right. Here he is ignoring those other explanations.
    http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od172/cosmos172.htm

    At least that’s how I read his arguments. Am I wrong? Probably mirepresenting again.

    You don’t give any evidence that you’ve read his arguments. And yes, on both counts.

    But he is trying to convince me that his experience of the Holy Spirit is real, isn’t he?
    If he doesn’t think it was real, then what is the point of it. If he does think it’s real I’d like to know why. I might be slow, but I haven’t seen a good explanation for what this testimony is and why it is to be trusted as “true”.

    You are continuing your habit of ignoring my statements and asking the same question over and over again. He does think it’s real – your conclusion in no way follows from what I said. Once again – you aren’t expected to trust his testimony. It is not an apologetic but an explanation to Christians who have asked the question about his arguments.

    So instead of being skeptical of things which we have not and cannot provide 3rd person evidence for, we should accept not just that it is possible, but that it is likely?

    Be as skeptical as you like. What made you think you entered the headquarters of the thought police? Love that one-way skepticism, though. Never fails.

    I’d say mohammed either made the whole thing up, or was hallucinating

    Me too. Why do you say this?

    I find those explanations to be much more likely than the visitation of an immaterial being (are angels immaterial or material) as messenger for another immaterial being, to dictate a message of dubious worth.

    More likely based upon what? You’re an evidence guy, do you have some valid statistics?

    I can provide lots of evidence which makes them less likely than other explanations (hallucination for mohammed, extrapolation or wholesale story telling for Jesus, various other models for the first cause including a deistic god).

    Wholesale story-telling? As I suspected, you’ve not engaged the evidence for Jesus either. This is just a completely unscholarly and uninformed option.

    So why in the face of scant documentary evidence for it, and flying in the face of what we know concerning physics, biology etc is the resurrection not only the most reasonable, but the actual historical truth?

    The Resurrection violates no laws of physics – again, you are uninformed and misrepresenting evidence. Your representation of what science says and can demonstrate is very sketchy.

    Yet ignores thermodynamics? Last I heard that was pretty mainstream.

    Neither God nor the Resurrection violates any law of thermo-dynamics. You’re a quantum physics fan – I’m sure you’ve heard of electro-weak quantum tunneling?

    Do you have a or some studies I could read?

    I could dig them out for you. Or you could read this blog for starters.
    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/?page_id=1159

    I’ve seen statistics from the US which indicates atheists/non-believers make up a smaller percentage of prison inmates than they do the general population. A similar (or perhaps the same – I don’t have the link handy) study showed lower levels of divorce among the same group.
    Another study has shown that highly irreligious states such as sweden donate far more money per capita (or % GDP) than does the highly religious US.

    I’ve heard the dubious claim about inmates and can show you the outright error in the divorce statistic. The atheist/agnostic/no-religion group has a far higher divorce rate – the results you’ve seen are skewed by the fact that this group does not marry at the same rate as do religious people, and the divorce rate you’ve seen is based upon divorce/person rather than divorce/marriage. I don’t believe you are correct about Sweden. If I recall from those studies they took into account only government spending and nothing to do with private donations. The U.S. is the most generous nation of Earth (I am Canadian), the religious are far more giving than the skeptics. I have no shortage of these links. You are misrepresenting and ignoring evidence again.

    No idea. Do you have a link?

    Not at the moment. I have a book, The Spiritual Brain, with page numbers and paper cites. The results demonstrated that spiritual experiences are not correlated in the brain consistent with hallucinations, or imaginings, or mental illness, but rather with the subject experiencing an object outside of and other than themselves.

    On the God-helmet and magnetic fields – Persinger’s results were not duplicated, even with his own equipment, when independent researchers subjected it to double-blind study. These researchers found that magnetism had no discernible effect. No evidence was found of a sensed presence. Of the three subjects (of 89 subjects) who reported strong spiritual experiences, two were in the control group.
    And the experiences reported by those who did report were very unlike religious/spiritual experiences.

    No. He does seem to often debate academics with little experience in debate. I also recall some kind of rule about only debating Phd’s.

    Yeah, those guys don’t know nuthin’.

    As I asked above, can you back up the non-causally closed space-time thing?

    Done. Remember our discussion on the previous thread? A physically causally closed universe does not explain Reason and consciousness (for starters).

    Why is discussing the mind irrelevant, when we’ve been discussing something which is a mental phenomena – the testimony of the Holy Spirit?
    Why dose this internal testimony result in contradictory results – Christians and muslims are both sure they’re correct given their own internal experiences?

    Because the mind’s ability to be deceived into believing such things as that evolution has no problem explaining DNA, for instance, has no bearing on the truth or falsity of the matter. You have to look at the evidence.

    ===
    In your last comment you made the accusation that Craig lied about his debate. Why didn’t you back that up when I asked you to?
    ===
    Are you really sure you’ve done the homework and acquired sufficient knowledge to go around claiming that your worldview is evidence-based?

  113. For your divorce files:
    http://www.firstthings.com/blog/2008/02/19/the-irrational-atheist/

    Day nevertheless rejects Dennett’s “claims that ‘brights’ have better family values than born-again Christians,” a contention based on George Barna’s flawed 1999 study. The fact that “half of all atheists and agnostics don’t get married” turns such a charge into an “apples and oranges” error. Day cites the more reliable 2001 ARIS study and finds that atheists are “twice as likely to get divorced and have fewer children than any other group in the United States.”

    Here’s my take on this situation, from almost two years ago:he rates are as follows:

    The data in Exhibit 8 underscore the accuracy of conventional wisdom in the main: those who identify with one or another of the main religious groups are considerably more likely to be married than those who have no religion. Particularly the “no religion” group was far more likely to be either single, never married or single, living with a partner than any other group. Indeed, the “no religion” group shows the lowest incidence of marriage (just 19%) of all twenty-two groups. In sharp contrast, those identifying with the Assemblies of God or Evangelical/Born Again Christians show the highest proportions married, 73% and 74% respectively.

    http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_briefs/aris/key_findings.htm

    A sampling of the stats at
    http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/images/image022.gif

    NO RELIGION 29,481,000
    19% married 5,601,390
    9 % divorced 2,653,290
    47%

    CHRISTIAN 14, 190,000
    56% married 7,946,400
    9 % divorced 1,277,100
    16%

    CATHOLIC 50, 873,000
    60% married 30.523,800
    9 % divorced 4,578,570
    15%

    Assemblies of God 1,105,000
    73% married
    10% divorced

    Evangelical 1,032,000
    74% married
    7% divorced

    Total US
    59% married
    9% divorced

  114. Some of my links on charity and volunteerism:
    http:/www.zambian.com/bethel/orphanage-ministry-resources-online/html/charity-statistics.html

    Contra the claims of such new atheist authors as Chris Hitchens:

    On the other hand, Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks argues in Who Really Cares (Basic Books, 2006) that when it comes to charitable giving and volunteering, numerous quantitative measures debunk the myth of “bleeding heart liberals” and “heartless conservatives.” Conservatives donate 30 percent more money than liberals (even when controlled for income), give more blood and log more volunteer hours. In general, religious people are more than three times more generous than secularists to all charities, 14 percent more munificent to nonreligious charities and 57 percent more likely than a secularist to help a homeless person.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=bowling-for-god

    Americans are far and away the most generous private donors in the world. Giving (according to 20/20. Note that total numbers will vary from study to study, but rankings generally do not) $900 per person per annum they are 7 times as generous as Germans and 14 times as generous as Italians, to name the two from the program.
    They are also much more likely to volunteer to help the less fortunate than is anyone else in the world.
    At the same time these more secular European countries lament the fact that America so outwardly characterizes itself as a Christian nation. No surprise, given that the religious are by far the most generous in giving their money away; Protestants more so than Catholics, and Evangelicals and born-again more so than other Protestants.

    I can’t find this link. I wrote it in summary of 20/20 (November 29/06)

    ===
    From my review of
    Truth Behind The New Atheism:

    A study by David Larson of the National Institute For Healthcare Research found that church-going cut crime and other risks among young blacks [who commit half of all murders in U.S.] in poor inner-city neighborhoods by fifty percent. Felons who attend Prison Fellowship Bible studies (founded by Chuck Colson) are two-thirds less likely to reoffend. John Dilulio, a political scientist at Princeton, argues that the church, applying “tough love” and other biblical principles, is the one institution that has given real help to the people who live in the poorest American neighborhoods:

    I know that most volunteers in this country are people of faith. Most charitable dollars are church dollars …But…the biggest asset of the Christian community is Christianity.

    Quoting from that book:

    cited from the research of Syracuse’s Arthur Brooks.

    He found that people with strong religious beliefs are far more generous than unbelievers.

    People who go to a worship service once or more a week give $2,210 to charity a year, while people who seldom or never attend average $642.

    They also volunteer twice as much.

    They even give more to secular causes than people with no religious faith!

    No European country is in the same league as Americans when it comes to private giving:
    “The closest nation, Spain, has average giving that is less than half that of the United States.”

    Americans are far more likely to volunteer, help a stranger, even give money back when given too much at the store.
    “Religious people are, inarguably, more charitable in every measurable way.”

    Americans give: 3 1/2 times more than French, 7 times more than Germans, 14 times more than Italians.

    And so on and so on. I could keep it up, but you get the point.

  115. Just because science doesn’t have an answer doesn’t mean there is no question. Not all of us buy into scientism, and there is no requirement of Craig that he do so to satisfy your charges.

    Well, science has some possible answers. That Craig puts his answer forward as the only reasonable choice, while understandable given his beliefs, doesn’t gain him credibility, in my eyes (and yeah, i’m sure he’s really upset about that).

    Of course you do. What do you think of postulating gravitons, strings and multiple universes?

    Well, I think they’re more reasonable, as they’re built on the top of scientific principles we’ve tested (or at least they don’t contradict them).

    Yeah, perhaps. Or perhaps you have to pay better attention.

    Guess I’ll have to watch his sleight of hand more closely 🙂

    Wrong. He defends the Resurrection based upon the facts of history.

    Which facts of history would those be? I’d be interested in reading about them.

    What attributes does he derive from the first cause argument (I guess you mean the Kalam Cosmological argument?) and which are superfluous?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalam_cosmological_argument#Objections_and_analysis

    Why would the designer and upholder have to break His own laws?

    So you have evidence of this? Or any theory as to how God can influence the physical without breaking these laws? Or is it simply convenient to believe that?

    You don’t know Craig’s arguments and your reaction was instigated not by his arguments but by the link I posted for those who are actually aware of them.

    No, actually my reaction was due to his perceived use of the testimony of the Holy Spirit as a catch all for refusing to engage the evidence presented. The ensuing discussion has given me some more insight into his statement, but I still don’t understand what this testimony is and how it can be distinguished.

    Right. Here he is ignoring those other explanations.
    http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od172/cosmos172.htm

    Thanks. Will read this and see if I have any further questions.

    He does think it’s real – your conclusion in no way follows from what I said.

    Why does he (or you) think it’s real?

    Once again – you aren’t expected to trust his testimony.

    Ok, I get that much

    It is not an apologetic but an explanation to Christians who have asked the question about his arguments.

    Is it only intended for Christians?

    (re mohammed) Me too. Why do you say this?

    Because it is the simpler explanation, which fits the available evidence. Why do you say that?

    More likely based upon what? You’re an evidence guy, do you have some valid statistics?

    Well, I’ve not seen, nor heard of reliable evidence to support the existence of Angels for one thing.

    Wholesale story-telling? As I suspected, you’ve not engaged the evidence for Jesus either. This is just a completely unscholarly and uninformed option.

    Then feel free to educate me as to the evidence for Jesus. Do you mean the historical evidence for a man named Jesus around in 1st century palestine, or the historical evidence for the miracle working Son of God around in 1st century Palestine?

    The Resurrection violates no laws of physics – again, you are uninformed and misrepresenting evidence. Your representation of what science says and can demonstrate is very sketchy.

    So, how many people do you know who’ve come back to life? What does biology have to say on this matter?

    Neither God nor the Resurrection violates any law of thermo-dynamics. You’re a quantum physics fan – I’m sure you’ve heard of electro-weak quantum tunneling?

    Quantum mechanics in general does not violate the conservation of energy. How does electro weak quantum tunnelling allow God to interact within the universe?

    You are misrepresenting and ignoring evidence again.

    Actually I was more unaware. Thanks for rectifying that. Will check out the studies cited in you later comments.

    Not at the moment. I have a book, The Spiritual Brain, with page numbers and paper cites. The results demonstrated that spiritual experiences are not correlated in the brain consistent with hallucinations, or imaginings, or mental illness, but rather with the subject experiencing an object outside of and other than themselves.

    Similar to the effects of temporal lobe epilepsy? Just asking 🙂

    Yeah, those guys don’t know nuthin’.

    Oh, they know plenty, but they can’t debate their way out of a wet paper bag. Craig is basically a professional debater. As such it’s not his arguments but his skill at debating that see him come off as the winner.

    Done. Remember our discussion on the previous thread? A physically causally closed universe does not explain Reason and consciousness (for starters).

    And yet our universe appears to be causally closed. Where does that leave use in explaining reason and consciousness?

    In your last comment you made the accusation that Craig lied about his debate. Why didn’t you back that up when I asked you to?

    I don’t remember accusing Craig of flat out lying, and reviewing my last 2 posts couldn’t see where I said it. What accusation are you speaking of?

    Are you really sure you’ve done the homework and acquired sufficient knowledge to go around claiming that your worldview is evidence-based?

    I guess that’s what I’m doing around these parts. I’ve done some homework, but you can never do enough. Having these fun discussions sometimes gives me some reading to do.
    Oh, and just quickly on the topic of the studies. I haven’t been through it all as yet. Just wondering if there is any statistically significant correlation for a particular religious group, regarding mental health and happiness? I’d expect there to be something quite significant if the results were not simply due to a benefit from belief.

  116. The LNC is NECESSARILY true if we are to reason and know anything.

    The word “if” is the giveaway. Whether can we know anything is based on the LNC (no discussion nor conclusion about a truth is possible without the LNC), so the LNC can’t be based (partially) on whether we know anything. How do we mean that word “if?” Reason is dependent on the LNC, but that doesn’t mean that it proves it.

    Furthermore, we can reason quite well if we merely assume the LNC, just like in geometry. If we accept that our knowledge of geometric theorems is founded on the postulates, then we should accept that other knowledge is founded on the assumption of the LNC. There’s no reason to have to have the LNC be a fact; if it’s an assumption, we can have knowledge. You’re overreaching.

    You’ve already admitted you have your answer. You accept that there is knowledge which is based upon “assuming” these postulates and you’ve admitted that basing knowledge on these postulates does not invalidate a knowledge claim. So your whole line about logical postulates has either been falsified or was a red herring. Continuing on and on about LNC now is just a basket of said fish.

    Charlie, exactly what line about mylogical postulates was falsified?

    We can know things about the outside world, but they have to be, in principle, verified (”Does my gas gauge word accurately?”).

    No they don’t. Not in principle and not in practice. We have direct, firsthand, primitive, self-evident knowledge of these things and we can have derived knowledge from self-evident premises.

    For example?

    Me:

    If I try to judge whether my gas gauge works well or not by what I feel about it (my qualia), that can have results that will leave me by the side of the road, literally and figuratively.If I try to judge whether my gas gauge works well

    Charlie:

    Wow. Well then, by all means, take care not to admit that the LNC is known.

    Charlie, care to address the substance of this exchange? Please recall what these quotes refer to:

    Charlie:

    How can we mistake these things for one another and what is the damage you allege?

    Paul:

    If I try to judge whether my gas gauge works well or not by what I feel about it (my qualia), that can have results that will leave me by the side of the road, literally and figuratively.

    You asked a question and I answered it plainly. So why does that invite the sarcastic “Wow?”

    Charlie, I have a pact I’d like to make with you. Can both you and I agree that we will *try* to keep our conversation civil and only address the substance of our disagreement?

  117. It’s hard to imagine how it could be false, but that’s not a proof or a reason for validity.

    Ultimately, as Gödel demonstrated, there is no way to prove the fundamental axioms of a self-contained system, including the system of logic. So on one level, Paul, you are right: the LNC is not provable.

    Your argument throughout this thread seems to be that the LNC is therefore not knowledge. Following that principle, it seems to me there is no knowledge at all. It is, as you have acknowledged, very hard to imagine that the LNC is not true, but you consider there to be enough room for skepticism that you will take it as something less than knowledge.

    I understand from seeing some of your material on the web that you are a jazz musician. Now, is it possible that this is not true? Is it possible even from your own perspective? Well, I think that possibility is as easily imagined as the possibility that the LNC is not true or reliable. For this, the handy brain-in-a-vat alternative is sufficient to cast doubt on your knowledge that you’re a jazz musician. Or you could be in the Matrix.

    Aside: By the way If the LNC is not in fact reliable, you might be both a jazz musician and a Dallas Cowboys quarterback (or cheerleader!). What’s to prevent both from being true of you? Or you might be right in thinking you’re a jazz musician and wrong in thinking it at the same time. (I’m not talking about equivocating on terms here, as in, “Paul’s music isn’t really jazz? I don’t call it jazz unless it comes from New Orleans.” I’m talking about both being and not being a jazz musician at the same time, in the same relationship, where “jazz musician” has a consistent definition in both statements.) End aside.

    If you’re going to be skeptical about some knowledge, like the LNC, it would behoove you to be skeptical about other knowledge equally.

    This then puts you necessarily into a condition of absolute skepticism. You don’t know anything at all. You’ve argued above that what we know, we know by observation. By your standard of what constitutes knowledge, you can’t conclude that you know anything by observation, either.

    In fact, the argument by which I showed that the LNC cannot be inferred through observation and induction can be turned around. If the LNC cannot be trusted, then you cannot know anything at all by observation and induction. You have to assume that when you see, say, a piano continuing to exist for several consecutive seconds that it is the same piano continuing to exist and that you are continuing to observe it. What non-question-begging observational and inferential basis do you have for supporting that assumption?

    Skepticism on basic matters like these, including basic logic, becomes skepticism regarding all knowledge whatsoever.

    One further step now. You are trying to demonstrate to us that because the LNC cannot be proven, it is therefore not knowledge. In order for you to begin to attempt that, you have to know that there is such a thing as demonstrating a point by arguing it. You have to know that Charlie might be wrong if he thinks the LNC is an example of knowledge. You have to know there’s a possibility of a right answer and a possibility of a wrong one. You have to know that there is (or may be) an argument in favor of radical skepticism of the type you are proposing. These depend on the LNC.

    Radical skepticism cannot be apodictically disproved; you can always send back a rebuff in the form of “But how do we know that?” But radical skepticism consistently applied leads to much more radical not-knowing than you have acknoledged. You have to give up your search for empirical knowledge, too, when you go that direction.

  118. Hi Havoc,

    Well, science has some possible answers. That Craig puts his answer forward as the only reasonable choice, while understandable given his beliefs, doesn’t gain him credibility, in my eyes (and yeah, i’m sure he’s really upset about that).

    More evidence that you don’t know Craig as he never says his is the only reasonable interpretation.

    Well, I think they’re more reasonable, as they’re built on the top of scientific principles we’ve tested (or at least they don’t contradict them).

    Sure you do. But the guy postulating that which you don’t agree with is dishonest and ignorant.

    re: Resurrection and facts of history:

    Which facts of history would those be? I’d be interested in reading about them.

    Read Craig.

    What attributes does he derive from the first cause argument (I guess you mean the Kalam Cosmological argument?) and which are superfluous?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalam_cosmological_argument#Objections_and_analysis

    Could you read your own link this time and then support your charge?

    So you have evidence of this? Or any theory as to how God can influence the physical without breaking these laws? Or is it simply convenient to believe that?

    Yes, there is an explanation which is not simply convenient. Read Craig. Or quantum physics.

    re:the Holy Spirit

    Why does he (or you) think it’s real?

    Let me just guess for him: he trusts his own experiences, he has personal evidence of the actions of the Holy Spirit, he has faith in the word of God, he has examined the evidence and finds his position the most reasonable, etc.

    Because it is the simpler explanation, which fits the available evidence. Why do you say that?

    Because the evidence is self-contradictory and counter-factual.

    Then feel free to educate me as to the evidence for Jesus. Do you mean the historical evidence for a man named Jesus around in 1st century palestine, or the historical evidence for the miracle working Son of God around in 1st century Palestine?

    You are talking about months, if not years of study and learning and your cavalier attitude toward it, on both these threads, is telling. You can’t just be shown anymore than you can just show somebody why evolution is true on a blog. We are talking about libraries worth of scholarship, not blog comments. Actually read the man you believe you are criticising.
    And I am talking first about the historical case that Jesus lived, performed miracles, had followers, was Crucified under Pontius Pilate, was buried, was thought to be seen alive by His disciples afterward, starting with Mary Magdalene, and whose remains were not to be found in the tomb in which He had been placed.
    I am also talking about the best explanation for that set of historically-attested to facts, being that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

    So, how many people do you know who’ve come back to life? What does biology have to say on this matter?

    None. And nothing. How many universes have you seen appear out of a quantum vacuum?

    Quantum mechanics in general does not violate the conservation of energy. How does electro weak quantum tunnelling allow God to interact within the universe?

    It doesn’t allow Him to do anything. Look into the observer effect in quantum theory, the role of consciousness in wave collapse, and the scientific view that the universe resembles a mind, for starters on the proposed interaction. You can read up on electro weak quantum tunneling itself and apply it to miracles, or, if there get to be fewer rabbit trails to chase down on this thread in time I can write more on it later.

    Oh, they know plenty, but they can’t debate their way out of a wet paper bag. Craig is basically a professional debater. As such it’s not his arguments but his skill at debating that see him come off as the winner.

    They don’t need to be skilled debaters to present these so-called facts that Craig ignores and misrepresents. Just because he impresses a few dozen people (or doesn’t) in a hall somewhere doesn’t mean that his arguments are going to withstand your careful scrutiny. But they do, because your accusations are false.

    And yet our universe appears to be causally closed. Where does that leave use in explaining reason and consciousness?

    With evidence that universe does not appear causally closed. You have to take it all into account.

    I don’t remember accusing Craig of flat out lying, and reviewing my last 2 posts couldn’t see where I said it. What accusation are you speaking of?

    Here it is:

    He claims to have only used science and reason while debating his opponent, yet his initial assumption (God) is unfounded scientifically, and as I’ve tried to point out, he ignores scientific evidence which contradicts his position.

    Where did he claim this?

  119. Paul,

    There’s no reason to have to have the LNC be a fact; if it’s an assumption, we can have knowledge.

    No we can’t.

    QED.

    ……………………..

    Well, I left out a step or two in the middle of that demonstration. I’ll fill it in now.

    If you’re assuming the LNC, you’re open to the possibility that it might conceivably be wrong. If that’s conceivable, then it’s conceivable that the contradiction I just stated might be the correct view, and that yours is too, at the same time and in the same relationship. You are open to the possibility that:

    1) If it’s an assumption, we can have knowledge; and simultaneously,
    2) If it’s an assumption, we cannot have knowledge.

    Straight question/straight answer time:

    1) and 2) together are one sentence and one compound proposition. Do you think it is possibly true?

  120. I have edited Havok’s recent comments to capitalize Jesus, God and Holy Spirit.

    It has been a policy for a very long time on this blog that proper nouns referring to God be capitalized (see #5 here. I know it’s common among atheists, skeptics, agnostics, etc. to use the lower case. I don’t know Havok’s motive for doing so, but it’s apparent that frequently “God” is put in lower case as an intentional expression of disrespect. For that reason it is my policy to correct it when it appears that way on this blog.

    Grammar lesson: Names are capitalized. The word “God,” when used as Havok was using it, is a name. Same, obviously, with “Jesus,” and also “Holy Spirit.”

    Oh, and since I was at it, I capitalized Palestine and Craig. I couldn’t get every instance of “craig,” it would take too long. It’s the grammatical disrespecting of God I’m primarily concerned with anyway.

  121. Hey, Tom, I was waiting for you to join in.

    I understand from seeing some of your material on the web that you are a jazz musician. Now, is it possible that this is not true?

    You’re seemingly asking this question naively, in ignorance of the discussion, or at least of my distinctions. The whole discussion has been about what is true or what is knowledge, looked at one way, and the disagreements we’ve had led us (me) into my distinctions between knowledge, assumptions, definitions, qualia etc. So, on one level, I can just answer your question: in principle, it is possible that I am not a jazz musician). It’s pretty unlikely because the *best* evidence that can be marshalled would lead to a yes answer.

    Is it possible even from your own perspective?

    The evidence that I have is just as good as the evidence that another would have, so the answer is the same.

    By the way If the LNC is not in fact reliable, you might be both a jazz musician and a Dallas Cowboys quarterback (or cheerleader!).

    Cool! ; )

    More seriously, it would be a very different matter if you want to establish the LNC as an empirical matter, which is what you imply by the word “reliable.” But didn’t we already agree that to evalute the LNC empricially, we’d have to assume it anyway?

    This then puts you necessarily into a condition of absolute skepticism. You don’t know anything at all.

    The tone of this still sounds like you’re imagining the word “know” in a naive sense, in some absolute sense. How can I respond without going through the whole discussion above that would elucidate exactly what we mean when we say “know.”

    Taking that into account, we *can* “know” things, by which we mean that, given starting assumptions like the LNC, we can draw proper conclusions; just like in geometry (with the exception that we can imagine different postulates in geometry that create different geometries, but it’s hard to imagine a different postulate that would replace the LNC.

    Skepticism on basic matters like these, including basic logic, becomes skepticism regarding all knowledge whatsoever.

    This issue is handled by my comment directly above.

    You are trying to demonstrate to us that because the LNC cannot be proven

    I’m still waiting for *your* proof of the LNC. Not a reason why we need it (pace Charlie), not how knowledge crumbles without it, etc., but an actual proof. It seems impossible because we’d have to adopt the LNC in order to make the proof of it, which would be circular.

    So, right now is the time: please prove the LNC.

  122. If you’re assuming the LNC, you’re open to the possibility that it might conceivably be wrong.

    An assumption (=postulate) can’t be wrong. It’s not an assumption in the sense that we guess a right answer, it’s a postulate. Admittedly, it’s one that, without it, we can’t do anything, but that doesn’t change its status as an assumption/postulate.

    Gotta run, more later.

  123. Hi Paul,
    I’m going to leave the truth of LNC for you and Tom right now, as his post on it is excellent. I have additional views and might add them later if I feel they’d be helpful. And besides, as I said before, it’s no longer relevant to your objections.
    To the rest of your comment:

    Me: You’ve already admitted you have your answer. You accept that there is knowledge which is based upon “assuming” these postulates and you’ve admitted that basing knowledge on these postulates does not invalidate a knowledge claim. So your whole line about logical postulates has either been falsified or was a red herring. Continuing on and on about LNC now is just a basket of said fish.

    You: Charlie, exactly what line about mylogical postulates was falsified?

    You tried to suggest that knowledge derived from unproven postulates was not knowledge. You’ve admitted it is. The whole point about LNC is now moot, as your defeater has been defeated – basing knowledge upon it or other logical postulates does not invalidate knowledge. I’ve said this countless times.

    Me: No they don’t. Not in principle and not in practice. We have direct, firsthand, primitive, self-evident knowledge of these things and we can have derived knowledge from self-evident premises.

    You: For example?

    Paul, you’re going to have to give me a break here. You act like this and then want to tell me how I should act in response? I’ve given you numerous examples, from my first response on, and I’ve given you Bertrand Russell since you are unable to believe or digest anything I say. You’ve admitted yourself that we have geometric knowledge based upon unprovable postulates. You have the opportunity to engage those ideas just as you’ve had from the beginning.

    You asked a question and I answered it plainly. So why does that invite the sarcastic “Wow?”

    Because of the very context to which you appeal. You claimed you had to determine which kind of knowledge is which kind of knowledge to the nth degree, bearing in mind that this doesn’t tell us a thing about which kind is true or if one kind isn’t; determining if knowledge based upon axioms and reason is somehow in a different category from knowledge which is based on axioms and reason and observation and whether that favours one over the other; refusing to admit knowledge which you require to use as knowledge, etc. And then you say “if I don’t do this, if we don’t somehow know the difference there will be dangerous consequences”. Dangerous consequences says I, what kind of danger is there? Well, you could just intuit that you had gas in your tank and then run out of gas. Sarcasm? Yes, that was sarcastic – AND it addressed the substance of how you treated that line of reasoning and it felt like the most appropriate response.
    Do you think that’s a danger, that if you don’t dig in your heels and take on the role of uber-skeptic about everything that the other option is you’ll be walking around with a blind-fold on pretending that you can intuit the universe? No. Do you think anybody is doing that – regardless of how bad their epistemology is – or there is any such danger? No. As I’ve shown by bringing your old arguments back to you, you very often do not believe the things you adamantly cling to in the confines of a single thread.
    You continually issue challenges on threads, ignore the substance of the responses, fine-tune your objections down to inconsequential, unsustainable and impossible degrees, and then abandon those concepts in subsequent discussions.

    Charlie, I have a pact I’d like to make with you. Can both you and I agree that we will *try* to keep our conversation civil and only address the substance of our disagreement?

    1) if you want to try you should do so without asking for a quid pro quo, 2) I don’t need a pact as I always try (and sometimes fail), 3) there are many ways of being uncivil and I’m not going to sit here and try to point them out every time or try to legislate against them.

    There is more than enough substantial meat left on this bone to keep you busy for days if you wanted to respond.

    By the way, the above both dealt only with substance and only not with substance.

    edit:
    Here’s the real result, and the real danger … your inability to know or answer anything:

    So, on one level, I can just answer your question: in principle, it is possible that I am not a jazz musician). It’s pretty unlikely because the *best* evidence that can be marshalled would lead to a yes answer.

  124. I’m still waiting for *your* proof of the LNC. Not a reason why we need it (pace Charlie), not how knowledge crumbles without it, etc., but an actual proof. It seems impossible because we’d have to adopt the LNC in order to make the proof of it, which would be circular.
    So, right now is the time: please prove the LNC.

    You missed my opening sentence. Per Gödel, it’s not provable. But it is knowable nevertheless, or else there is no knowledge whatsoever.

    I’m not treating knowledge naively when I say this, Paul. I’m going back to the beginning, where you challenged us to show one thing we know that we do not know by observation.

    You restated it:

    <Everything we claim to be true, with important exceptions which are noted below, must be able to be verified, tested, checked out, etc., at least in principle. Some claims may be trivial (there is a tree in my backyard), but verification must still potentially be able to be applied.

    Exceptions are:

    1. postulates and assumptions
    2. qualia
    3. definitions…

    …postulates and assumptions are not knowledge (as assume them, we don’t know them); qualia, if you want, can be included as “knowledge,” but it’s only for a single person, whereas other knowledge is, in principle able to be verified by others; definitions are somewhat arbitrary, and so function a bit like postulates.

    My answer is that either is at least one thing we know apart from observation–the LNC–or there is nothing that we know; for if you say you do not know the LNC then you have no way of saying you know anything else. Without knowing the LNC you cannot know that you are verifying, testing, checking out, etc. (in principle or otherwise). I’ve established that previously by showing that the LNC is essential to the verification process.

    You’ve defined knowledge as that which can be verified; anything that cannot be verified is not knowledge. But your definition is impossible: it leads to radical skepticism, the absence of any knowledge whatever.

    I don’t know how you originally justified your definition of knowledge. The definition must accommodate reality, though, and reality is that your definition is impossible and should be discarded.

  125. Hi Tom,
    Paul introduced this line of reasoning with this comment:
    <blockquote<Charlie, we *assume,* a priori, that we must accept reason and rationality, right? Why should we otherwise trust in reason? Because without it, all is lost, including discourse, communication, etc. Wouldn’t you agree?

    If reason and rationality are assumptions, then, they are not things that we *know,* but things we assume. I wouldn’t call what we assume or take for granted knowledge, which was the original question.

    If they are not necessary starting points, then how do we know that reason must be accepted without using reason in our justification? I don’t think I’m moving the goal post here, because the LNC and the transitive property are merely details of reason and rationality, it turns out to be the same issue, just in more detail.

    He was trying to use this to defeat the idea that knowledge gained through the application of reason was not “knowledge” because it was initially grounded upon these assumptions.

    He had to withdraw that after the Russell comment when he said:

    Then, we’ll talk about whether an assumption is knowledge. I’ll grant you right off the bat, though, that conclusions, given a set of assumptions (as is Euclidean geometry) are a type of knowledge, so if our disagreement hinges on me missiing that point, I plead guilty and apologize.

    Instead now he had shifted to merely arguing that LNC itself isn’t knowledge, but he had surrendered the conclusion already, that we can still have knowledge based upon this (and not being empirically testable and verifiable).
    Although I’ve tried to demonstrate to Paul that the assumption can be knowledge as well, that is not necessary to falsify his case and answer his original question in the affirmative.

    My immediate response was:

    But it is not “logic” which is in question. Your pedantry busted me on this mistake earlier and now your last defence requires the equivocation. My answer was that we can know that A is not not A, and that (through transitive relations) A=C. We know these things: we do not “know” Logic. These are the propositions which, as Russell says, are affirmed [or] obtained from particular premises by means of logical principle. And this is knowledge.
    Your last defence against this was that because we assumed Reason or the truth of logic, that these propositions [derived from reason and logic] were not, then, knowledge. But that means that nothing is knowledge, nothing can be known. Which led to your invoking the name of Karl Popper.

    As you can see from above, the question isn’t about whether or not that which you say must be assumed is known: “Logic” is not the thing “known” in the examples.

    So my repeated question “but is it knowledge?” seems to be answered (yes, with your usual qualifier). Your qualifier, of course, applies to all knowledge given that everything depends upon logic and reason, as you’ve stated above.

    So now, I’m sure you’re satisfied that your original question is answered – and has been from the start:

    Paul continued on, but always with the wrong focus:

    Charlie, if you can offer no reason why the LNC is true other than the alternative is unacceptable, for whatever reason, then we don’t know it’s true, we only have to proceed as if it were. It’s hard to imagine how it could be false, but that’s not a proof or a reason for validity. Part of the problem here is that we’re trying to use logic and reason to justify the LNC, but the LNC is part of logic and reason. …
    I think we’ve come to the heart of the matter. Charlie, it seems to me that you’re willing to claim that something is true merely because the alternative is unacceptable. That’s a position I won’t adopt.

    Paul then went on to say that geometry, like reason, is founded upon unprovable postulates as starting points – ignoring that we already knew given postulates don’t defeat knowledge.

    We don’t know anything in geometry, either, Euclidean or not, until we start with some postulates. Then, given those postulates, we can know some things about that geometry, but even than that knowledge rests on the postulates, and we can’t say that we *know* the postulates; rather, we just postulate (assume) them, and then make conclusions.

    But even there he admitted, through many qualifications, that knowledge (true knowledge) can be attained even with unprovable postulates.
    His analogy, then, proves the case against his original question.

    I’m tempted to keep adding on, but that’s the point, in several large nut-shells. Sorry if it’s too long …

  126. Tom, thanks for your reply.

    I have models for “knowing” (in the broad sense): knowing (in my specific sense of concluding from observation, etc.), qualia, assumptions (although I think it is confusing to say that we know an assumption), and definitions.

    Regarding the LNC: does the way in which we know an LNC fit one of these models, or is it another model?

    I think what you’re saying is that the LNC must be true or there is no knowledge whatsoever. I still contend that that is not a justification for why it is true, it is only a prediction (and an accurate one) if the consequences of it not being true. Do you see the difference?

    Or am I missing the reason why it’s true?

    Edit: We’d still “know” (in the broad sense) qualia even if the LNC were not true.

  127. Charlie wrote:

    1) if you want to try you should do so without asking for a quid pro quo,

    What antagonism will see as a quid pro quo, a spirit of cooperation with others (even those who disagree) will see as something mutually achieved, a model for how they might work through their substantive disagreements. These two approaches may have the same outline, but they are very, very different in spirit.

    I’m done.

  128. Paul,

    I have models for “knowing” (in the broad sense): knowing (in my specific sense of concluding from observation, etc.), qualia, assumptions (although I think it is confusing to say that we know an assumption), and definitions.

    Without the LNC you don’t have observation. I’ve argued that several times, including comments earlier today. What response do you have to that?

    I had more to say but I just got a phone call and then I have to go out for a rehearsal. Back later this evening…

  129. Tom,

    Havok’s motive for doing so, but it’s apparent that frequently “God” is put in lower case as an intentional expression of disrespect. For that reason it is my policy to correct it when it appears that way on this blog.

    No disrespect to you or anyone else intended. Mostly the result of lazy/fast typing 🙂

  130. Tom, my response is that I agree. There’s nothing in my models and their relationships that would imply otherwise. I still don’t see that that makes the LNC *necessarily* anything more than an assumption/postulate, nor does it offer an epistemological justification for it, it just talks about another consequence if we don’t adopt the LNC.

  131. Paul, forgive me for being confused here, but I just said you don’t have observation if you don’t have the Law of Noncontradiction (LNC). You have agreed with me now. But I think this has preceded this:

    1) You said there is knowledge we can acquire through observation.
    2) You said that the LNC is not a matter of knowledge; we don’t really know it.
    3) I argued that the LNC is necessary in order to have actual observation.
    4) You now say you agree with that.
    5) But (2, 3, and 4) you agree that without the LNC we do not have knowledge to support the belief that observation exists, so
    6) You agree that without the LNC we do not know if observation exists.

    Therefore by (1) and (6), you are saying that the only reliable knowledge we have is that which we gain by a process we do not know is real. So we have no reliable knowledge. But with no reliable knowledge, we do not know what these statements are affirming. That even applies to you as the author of your own statements: you have no basis even for knowing what you yourself are affirming.

  132. Paul
    Back from a busy day at work…

    I still don’t see that that makes the LNC *necessarily* anything more than an assumption/postulate, nor does it offer an epistemological justification for it, it just talks about another consequence if we don’t adopt the LNC.

    Maybe it will help if we break it down a little.

    1) If the LNC is known to be true then I should be able to know what my thoughts are, know what this sentence means, etc.

    2) If the LNC is assumed (not known) to be true then I have some ‘verification tests’ I can perform to help me discover the answer:

    a) I can know it is true if I’m able to know that I just assumed it to be true in point (2) above.

    b) I can know it is false if I CAN’T know that I just said “I can know if it is false”. Another confirmation would be if I CAN’T know the meaning of this sentence.

    (1) and (2a) work just as expected, while (2b) fails to deliver.

    EDIT: what Tom said above

  133. Tom, I understand, I think. Isn’t the situation you describe exactly the same for geometry? There are postulates, which are not proven and are not true, but which form the basis for truths. Such truths have to be in the form of “if P1 [postulate 1], then A, B, and C; if P2, then D, E, and F.

    If the situation is not the same for geometry, then I’ve misunderstood; please clarify.

  134. SteveK, the LNC is not assumed to be true, it’s just assumed. The word assumption can be used in two ways that are crucial for our purposes here, and therefore must be distinguished. One sense of the word assumption is a type of guess or hypothesis, something which can be true or not. Another sense is in the sense of a postulate, like in geometry, which is neither true nor false, but is just accepted as a more or less arbitrary starting point, after which true or false conclusions may be drawn. For instance, given that parallel lines never meet, then geometrical theorems A B and C are true. But there are geometries in which parallels lines do meet, and therefore have different postulates, and therefore different theorems are true.

  135. No good, Paul. You have to know (not assume) what the word “assume” means (and LNC) before you can think the thought that you assumed the LNC.

    This is the infinite regress problem I was talking about before. The whole process must begin with a known idea/concept for you to even think the thought.

    In effect, you are trying to start at a place with no specific location (assumption) and then trying to move toward the end (knowledge). It sounds good in theory until you realize that you can’t even start.

    Time for a humor break 😉

  136. Paul, there are at least three different kinds of geometries. The first one includes many others as subsets:

    1) Theoretical geometry, an exercise in spatial logic.
    2) Euclidean and spherical geometry by which we all find our way around in the world.
    3) Non-Euclidean geometries that have proven useful for science to find its way around in a world that’s more complex than we had imagined.

    (1) can be taken as a purely theoretical exercise. (2) and (3) cannot. If they are not productive of knowledge, then you do not know how to walk from the office to the cafeteria; but then, there couldn’t be an office or a cafeteria without such things as real triangles, right angles, and planes to make a stable structure. The real knowledge of real geometry is essential for you to acquire real knowledge that you have eaten lunch that day.

    But the parallel you make with geometry is inadequate anyway. The LNC is not an exercise, and it’s not just about space. It is at the foundation of all thought and discussion. Without it you cannot make any meaningful assertions whatever.

    So: “If P1 [postulate 1], then A, B, and C.”

    P1. The LNC is an assumption, it is not a matter of knowledge.

    A. The LNC is possibly not true.
    B. It is possibly true that a proposition and its contradiction are both true at the same time and in the same relationship.
    C. It is possibly true that each of P1, A, B, C … Z and their respective contradictions are all true at the same time and in the same relationship.

    Therefore:
    D. P1’s contradiction is possibly true.

    Now, (D) allows us possibly to assert truly:

    E. The LNC is necessarily true; from which it follows that
    F. It is not possibly true that a proposition and its contradiction are both true at the same time and in the same relationship; and
    G. It is not possibly true that each of P1, A, B, C … Z and their respective contradictions are all true at the same time and in the same relationship.

    Therefore:
    H. P1 is necessarily false.

    I have just reasoned from P1, that the LNC is a mere assumption, to the denial of the premise.

    Now, do you know if I have done something wrong here? If you can point to anything you know I’ve done wrong, I guarantee you will be basing that knowledge on your foundation of knowing the LNC.

    On the other hand, if you don’t know I’ve done something wrong here, then you do not know whether we ought to take contradictions to be true along with their respective propositions.

    And if you don’t know that, then you have a knowledge problem that undercuts geometry, observation (which you’ve said is a source of actual knowledge), everything.

    The geometry you wrote of is a mental exercise. This, however, is about everything.

  137. I’m using geometry not as a proof, but as an analogy.

    I’m not suggesting the LNC is optional, as you wrote in your email to me Tom. In fact, I’ve said above that it’s hard to imagine an alternative. But I don’t see how that defeats the idea that it is a postulate or an assumption.

    Here’s what’s happening: you say I can’t prove it isn’t right, and I say you can’t prove that it is (because you’d have to assume it in order to prove it). It’s got to be bootstrapped somehow, in either of our scenarios. Neither of us has proved it (you guys haven’t because you haven’t defeated my objection, which is that you have to use the LNC in order to prove it). My solution to the way out of this contradiction is to call it an assumption.

    A. The LNC is possibly not true.

    You’re ignoring what I’ve written several times above. A postulate/assumption is not that type of thing that is right or wrong.

  138. Hi Paul,

    A. The LNC is possibly not true.

    You’re ignoring what I’ve written several times above. A postulate/assumption is not that type of thing that is right or wrong.

    You are ignoring Tom’s distinction and your own claim. You can not draw the meaning of the term “postulate” out of the world of pure mathematics, where, indeed, the postulate is neither right nor wrong, into the world outside pure mathematics where the postulate is either right or wrong. If it is an analogy it is only an analogy, and it does not define the use of words for all places and all times, especially outside its realm.
    The fact that you originally asked about knowledge demands we are talking about whether something is true or false, so it is question-begging to select one aspect and say it has nothing to do with the true/false question.

  139. Anyone,
    What’s wrong with this?

    Here’s another way of saying it.
    A deduction is necessarily true if it’s postulates are true. This is because the proposition deduced is really just a way of making explicit that which was already known by the postulates.
    But flip this around – the postulate is also proven true if the deduction is true. This also is necessary as the premise is still merely a restatement of the proposition.
    Since we’ve all agreed that all knowledge is dependent upon the postulated LNC, and we can acquire true knowledge about the world, then the LNC is true with respect to the world.

    Even if this is not accepted as a rigorous formal proof, it must give one warrant to believe it true, ie. know it true.

    1) If the LNC is not true we cannot attain knowledge of the world
    2) We can attain knowledge of the world
    3) The LNC is true

    Or
    1) If LNC is true then we can attain knowledge of the world
    2) We can attain knowledge of the world
    3) The LNC is true

    Or
    1) If we can attain knowledge of the world the LNC is true
    2) We can attain knowledge of the world
    3) The LNC is true

  140. Paul, here’s another way to look at what Charlie said two comments ago:

    I’m not suggesting the LNC is optional, as you wrote in your email to me Tom. In fact, I’ve said above that it’s hard to imagine an alternative. But I don’t see how that defeats the idea that it is a postulate or an assumption.

    It doesn’t defeat that at all. I never said it was not a postulate or an assumption, because that was never at issue in my mind. What’s at issue is whether it is something we know. I’m not ignoring what you wrote above at all (“A postulate/assumption is not that type of thing that is right or wrong”); I’m disagreeing with it, and over and over again I’ve been explaining why.

    Assumption and knowledge are not necessarily contradictory. The LNC is something we assume necessarily. It is also something we know. To assert otherwise is to vacate all meaning from every proposition, thus eliminating all propositional knowledge, as we’ve shown above.

    Either the LNC is a true and reliable principle that we can know, or we can have no propositional knowledge whatever–include the knowledge of the proposition for which you are arguing, that the LNC is not a matter of knowledge.

  141. The LNC is something we assume necessarily. It is also something we know.

    What do you mean by “assume” that wouldn’t be obviated by the fact that we know the LNC? Is anything else that we know and assumption? I don’t see how something is an assumption if we know it. Perhaps I should be using the word “postulate” instead of assumption, does that help? How can a postulate be something we know?

    More later.

  142. Here’s the difference in my mind. There’s probably a technical distinction that is more correct, but this is what I would say:

    The LNC is an assumption or a postulate (I don’t care which) because it is irreducible; it’s not something we can deduce from more basic principles. It cannot be deduced from more basic principles because it is necessary even to the process of deduction.

    The LNC is knowledge because it can be verified. The arguments we’ve outlined above show that either

    a) The LNC is something we know, or
    b) There is no propositional knowledge anywhere.

    (b) is plainly wrong; we do have propositional knowledge. Therefore we have verification for the LNC being something we know.

  143. Charlie, the first syllogism you presented a couple of comments ago is in a valid form, called modus tollens. The other two syllogisms affirm the consequent, which is a fallacy. If you inserted “if and only if” in their major premises (premise 1 in each of them) they would be formally valid: “We can attain knowledge of the world if and only if the LNC is true.” Formally that is nearly equivalent to, “If the LNC is not true, we cannot attain knowledge of the world,” except that the latter leaves open the door to “there is no way to gain knowledge of the world.” You have shut that door with your minor premise (2), so it comes out working the same in the end.

  144. Thank you, Tom.
    As I was reading them I thought “only if” would have been better.
    I jumped the gun by assuming the fact that we had all accepted the “only if” aspect. Thanks for showing me how it makes it not only better, but valid.

    ps. While I’m requesting critique – did you disagree with my claim that Paul’s defeater was defeated? That is, that neither the truth of the LNC nor its proof are necessary for Paul to accept knowledge which is not empirical?

  145. I’ve seen a serious logical problem in my argument in the 6:13 am comment. Here’s a correction, which also references an issue that has come up since then:

    The question at issue is whether the LNC, which we all acknowledge to be an assumption or a postulate, can also at the same time be a matter of knowledge.

    We can approach this from the direction Paul affirms:

    P1. The LNC is an assumption, and thus cannot be a matter of knowledge.

    That leads us to:

    A. The LNC is possibly not true.
    B. It is possibly true that a proposition and its contradiction are both true at the same time and in the same relationship.
    C. It is possibly true that each of P1, A, B, C … Z and their respective contradictions are all true at the same time and in the same relationship.

    Now, (C) allows us possibly to assert the contradiction of (A) truly:

    D. The LNC is necessarily true; from which it follows that
    E. It is not possibly true that a proposition and its contradiction are both true at the same time and in the same relationship; and
    F. It is not possibly true that each of P1, A, B, C … Z and their respective contradictions are all true at the same time and in the same relationship.

    Therefore:
    H. It is possible that A is necessarily false, and if so, then
    I. It is possible that the LNC is a matter of knowledge.

    I have just reasoned from P1, that the LNC is a mere assumption and therefore cannot a matter of knowledge, to the conclusion that it can be.

    Now, do you know if I have done something wrong here? If you can point to anything you know I’ve done wrong, I guarantee you will be basing that knowledge on your foundation of knowing the LNC.

    On the other hand, if you don’t know I’ve done something wrong here, then you do not know whether we ought to take contradictions to be true along with their respective propositions

  146. How can you logically verify the LNC when all of logic depends on it? isn’t it circular? It can’t be logically verified, it can’t be observationally verified (without adopting itself), so it has to be postulated.

    More later.

  147. It’s logically verified by a reductio argument, exemplified a dozen or two times here (above): “If the LNC is not true, then…” The logical form of reductio arguments is one that permits a kind of circularity. You’re allowed to start by assuming the truth of the premise. They take the form, “assume this premise and follow it to its conclusion. If the conclusion is impossible and the arguments valid, then the premise must be impossible.”

    So if you’re going to make a claim that our argumentation is circular, I’d like to see you apply that claim to one or more of the arguments we’ve made. Show us how it’s circular. I think the arguments we’ve given are sound. Can you show us specifically how they circle back on themselves? We’ll need something better than generalities like “How can you logically verify the LNC when all of logic depends on it? isn’t it circular?”

    And be careful please, for you have a general logical problem to address yourself. Can you show me some error in some argument above without relying on our shared knowledge of the LNC? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t know that circularity is a fallacy if you toss out the LNC. I’m afraid you’re going to have to start from scratch on that one.

    Or in other words, “”How can you logically dispute the LNC when all of logic depends on it? isn’t it self-referentially incoherent?”

    Please note that I haven’t used the LNC to prove the LNC; I’ve just showed that if the LNC is not true, then we end in a hopeless skeptical morass in which there is no propositional knowledge. You can choose that outcome if you like, but watch out: if you want to tell yourself (or us) there’s no propositional knowledge, you’ll have to say it to yourself without employing any propositions. Good luck.

    That’s what a reductio is about. Sure, there are other options, but they’re impossible.

  148. Note also: I do not disagree with you that the LNC has to be postulated. You do not have to argue that point any further, because we agree.

    The disagreement is this: you think that because it is postulated it can’t be known. I think it is both postulated and known. Just substitute “postulation” for “assumption” in my 12:06 comment.

  149. Note that I have just made the time correction for Daylight Savings time. My last comment before this one was actually just a few moments ago, even though the time stamp shows more than an hour of difference.

  150. Until this thread the arguments to God from abstract objects or from the rationality of the universe never really resonated with me. As I contemplate the idea of geometry, and whether or not the bounds are arbitrary, and why what we know logically has to apply to the physical, and why we can know such a thing as the LNC I realize none of this could be if we were not the product of an intelligent, rational mind who knows these things first. We can know the LNC is true because the LNC is already known – by the universe.
    There is no way that geometry, for example, can be a biological adaptation. Moreover, there is no reason that a person ought to be able to create an imaginary geometry whose very premise is to dispute the obvious (parallel lines) and have the logical necessities of that construction turn out to describe reality.

    I never got this before, at this level, but now it seems obvious that I can’t think deeply about such ideas and not conclude that God exists.
    Year by year, thought by thought, discovery by discovery, Christianity just makes more and more sense.

    I sincerely thank you, Paul (without sarcasm), for your help in seeing that and only wish I could return the favour.

  151. It occurs to me again that when I dismiss or treat lightly the arguments of the greatest minds in the history of our planet I am talking about the deficiency of my thought and intellect rather than of theirs.

  152. I hope this doesn’t sound facetious or even triumphal but I feel like I am in the midst of another mini epiphany.
    When I argue these points they make logical sense to me and they seem true, in a rhetorical kind of way. I write out the string of logic and say “this looks valid. Paul cannot deny this logically.”
    And then suddenly, as with the geometry question, it has struck me that what seems logically true actually is true. Rather than getting my nodding, intellectual approval, the idea demands my complete assent.
    Because we can reason we know that God exists. We are not only reasoning to God, but from God.Imago dei.

    That probably doesn’t make a lot of sense and I should work on it a bit more.

    Thanks, as always, Tom, for this blog and the encouraging comments.

  153. I sincerely thank you, Paul (without sarcasm), for your help in seeing that and only wish I could return the favour.

    I hear no sarcasm there, Charlie, and I appreciate the sentiment (even though I have apparently helped you understand something that I didn’t want you to understand). But, one of the benefits in discussion with someone we don’t agree with is that our own beliefs can be strengthened and deepened, and that’s fine, too.

    I thank you as well, Charlie, for all the time you’ve spent on my behalf.

  154. It’s logically verified by a reductio argument, exemplified a dozen or two times here (above): “If the LNC is not true, then…”

    In order to even have *just* that quoted phrase be meaningful, we’d have to have the LNC up and operating already. Otherwise, we can’t distinguish between LNC and non-LNC. But we’re using that phrase as part of a longer proof that will prove the LNC. But we have to have the LNC up and running in order to prove it. That’s the circularity.

    If that doesn’t make sense, let me know and I’ll try to explain it another way.

    I’m just catching quick bites here and there, more later, I hope. I can do some intense bursts of blogging, which is what led to all this, but I can’t sustain it indefinitely.

  155. Paul, I understand the problem of sustaining this over a period of time.

    Anyway,

    In order to even have *just* that quoted phrase be meaningful, we’d have to have the LNC up and operating already.

    My point in several of the comments above has been just that, but more generally than that: to say that your position cannot be stated meaningfully without the LNC. You say we have a problem of circularity; I say you have a problem of self-referential incoherency. You cannot affirm your position without denying it, which makes it literally meaningless. And you cannot contradict our position without affirming it. That’s a very serious problem.

    When you get a chance, I’d like to know how you respond to what I said last time about reductio arguments and circularity. I think our position is clear of the charge you make, because we’re using that form of argument….

  156. Tom, you asked me for a clear statement of the circularity, and I gave it to you in my last comment.

    In order to even have *just* that quoted phrase be meaningful, we’d have to have the LNC up and operating already. Otherwise, we can’t distinguish between LNC and non-LNC. But we’re using that phrase as part of a longer proof that will prove the LNC. But we have to have the LNC up and running in order to prove it. That’s the circularity.

    You can’t prove the lack of circularity in your argument by saying my claim is circular. What if we’re both using circular arguments? I’ve already hinted at this above:

    Here’s what’s happening: you say I can’t prove it isn’t right, and I say you can’t prove that it is (because you’d have to assume it in order to prove it). It’s got to be bootstrapped somehow, in either of our scenarios. Neither of us has proved it (you guys haven’t because you haven’t defeated my objection, which is that you have to use the LNC in order to prove it). My solution to the way out of this contradiction is to call it an assumption.

  157. Paul, your response doesn’t address the reductio form of argumentation. That’s what I’ve asked for more than once.

    Realize that I’m not trying to prove that the LNC is right. It’s a postulate. We agree on that. What I’m trying to prove is that any denial of it is meaningless and self-referentially incoherent. Thus the LNC is verified by the fact that it cannot be meaningfully denied.

    A system of thought that includes the LNC can be internally consistent. A system that denies it cannot. From Gödel, we know we cannot devise a system in which every postulate is provable. But we ought to be aiming higher than a system that is just impossible.

    I’ve said many, many times on this thread that you cannot affirm your position without at the same time contradicting your position and affirming ours. I don’t know if you’ve dealt with that, have you? Maybe I can’t prove the LNC, but I can at least state it without denying it. I don’t think you can do that with your position.

    How about we strike a deal: Maybe you’re willing to grant that point, that the LNC cannot be denied without rolling into self-contradiction; but you’re not willing to grant that this constitutes verification for the LNC. We can agree to disagree on that latter point. But I remain firm in my position that if the LNC is not reliably true, then propositional knowledge becomes impossible and no proposition can be meaningfully stated.

    By the way, I don’t mind admitting the LNC has to be “bootstrapped,” if by that you mean that we can’t get to it from more fundamental principles. It’s in the character of God and in the image of God. It’s in the very foundation of reality. That’s what Charlie was pointing to in his last couple of comments.

  158. I wish I had made that last comment shorter. Here’s the nub of it:

    Paul, your response doesn’t address the reductio form of argumentation. That’s what I’ve asked for more than once….

    … and …

    I’ve said many, many times on this thread that you cannot affirm your position without at the same time contradicting your position and affirming ours. I don’t know if you’ve dealt with that, have you? Maybe I can’t prove the LNC, but I can at least state it without denying it. I don’t think you can do that with your position.

    So here are the two questions I hope you will address:

    1) Does your charge of circularity stick on a reductio form of argument? How?
    2) Can you state your position without at the same time denying it and affirming ours? How?

  159. Charlie

    Sitting in the Salt Lake airport reading your last few comments (on my tiny phone screen) and I was touched deeply.

    You reminded me of the significance of this discussion-how everything points to the Logos at the very foundation of reality-and the JOY that comes from *knowing* that. What a wonderful gift your comments have been to me, just in time for Easter!

    The sinner that I am was too focused on the debate itself rather than what the debate meant. It hurts to think I missed this entirely.

  160. How about we strike a deal: Maybe you’re willing to grant that point, that the LNC cannot be denied without rolling into self-contradiction; but you’re not willing to grant that this constitutes verification for the LNC. We can agree to disagree on that latter point. But I remain firm in my position that if the LNC is not reliably true, then propositional knowledge becomes impossible and no proposition can be meaningfully stated.

    I have no time, but this looks pretty close, somehow we had to break the logjam, it’s just a matter of finding the exact right wording, we may not be that far apart after all. I’ll get back as soon as I can, but don’t hold your breath, but I will be back.

  161. Thanks Steve,
    I really appreciate that.
    The idea has been undeveloped and toying in my mind for several days now but it hit me so hard today that I was almost euphoric.
    I misspoke (so to speak) when I said that the conclusion is that God exists. What it really feels like is that I am knowing God in another and more intimate way.

    Have a blessed season commemorating the reason for our hope.

    Best wishes to you all.

  162. Tom, I will gladly grant that I may be wrong-headed about all of this, but you have to be open to the possibility of your bias and blindness, too. I’m only trying to set the stage for a critique you had of my response that is bewildering to me.

    Tom:

    It’s [the :NC] logically verified by a reductio argument, exemplified a dozen or two times here (above): “If the LNC is not true, then…”

    I took that to mean that the quoted sentence, “If the LNC is not true, then . . .” was the beginning of the reductio argument.

    I then posted:

    It’s logically verified by a reductio argument, exemplified a dozen or two times here (above): “If the LNC is not true, then…”

    In order to even have *just* that quoted phrase be meaningful, we’d have to have the LNC up and operating already. Otherwise, we can’t distinguish between LNC and non-LNC. But we’re using that phrase as part of a longer proof that will prove the LNC. But we have to have the LNC up and running in order to prove it. That’s the circularity.

    But then you wrote:

    When you get a chance, I’d like to know how you respond to what I said last time about reductio arguments and circularit

    I then quoted you, in my March 20th, 2008 at 4:21 pm post, the very same quote at the top of this post, as proof that I had responded to the reductio argument. And, yet, you then reply with

    Paul, your response doesn’t address the reductio form of argumentation. That’s what I’ve asked for more than once.

    One of us has a serious blind spot, and I’d sure like to know if it’s me. But I don’t know how much plainer it’s possible to be.

  163. Oh, one other thought. Won’t the reductio argument only work for things that aren’t postulates? You can’t use the reductio for a postulate, only for a truth claim. You can’t even start the reductio argument, much less get to the end of it and to a conclusion by suing it if the LNC is a postulate.

    Try using the reductio argument with a geometrical postulate, and you come up with an absurdity (which is a reductio argument itself, huh?).

    Remember, I’m not arguing that the LNC is wrong, merely that it is postulated, not proven. So you can’t critique my argument here by saying that I can’t even say anything if the LNC is wrong. That’s not my position.

  164. I missed that, Paul, and I apologize.

    But recall this: you’re contradicting what Charlie and Steve and I are saying. And you’re doing it to demonstrate we don’t know that contradictions are necessarily invalid. Paraphrased, you’re saying “you’re wrong, even though we don’t know if there is such a thing as wrong.”

    Since the LNC is taken to be at the fundamental level of all thought and of all reality, we can’t ask for an external way to get at it and prove it. We can only ask that it fit into an internally consistent scheme.

    To deny knowledge of the LNC is to deny that denial exists, to contradict contradiction. I can’t prove the LNC (how many times have I said that?), but I can at least state it without denying it. I cannot do that with any contrary system. (That’s an informal statement of the reductio argument again, by the way.)

    That, for me, is verification enough.

    Edit: please recall the outcome of the reductio argument above: it’s not that I’ve disproved the denial of the LNC. It’s that the denial of the LNC cannot be stated. You have to have the LNC in place in order to state its denial; otherwise you’re saying nothing at all. You’re uttering meaningless noises.

  165. Here’s my closing word on the matter. For dozens of posts, I’ve been taking a position that you disagree with. Let’s grant for the sake of argument that I’m wrong and you’re right. In that case, I’m right; for if the LNC is not reliable, then a set of propositions can be right and wrong, both at the same time and in the same respect.

    So I’ll be willing to grant that I’m wrong, if you’ll grant that means I’m right. Then since we’re setting aside the LNC, we can both be absolutely right about our final conclusions on the matter. But don’t forget: there’s nothing about being totally right to prevent us from being completely and entirely misguided and wrong. At the same time. In the same respect.

    Right?

  166. So I’ll be willing to grant that I’m wrong, if you’ll grant that means I’m right.

    That’s a very neat and tidy way to sum it up, Tom.

    Right?

    …and wrong! 😉

  167. Hi Paul,
    When Descartes tried to imagine that he wanted to doubt everything and all knowledge he settled on this: if I doubt that I exist I prove I exist because doubting is thinking and you can only think if you exist.
    Do you agree with Descartes? Do you exist?

    Or, is Descartes reasoning is circles because if he says “I doubt” he is already presuming he exists? This would follow logically if you hold that to wonder if LNC holds is to use LNC and therefore you can’t come to a non-circular conclusion.
    Do you doubt you exist, or do you know you exist?

    Doesn’t it make sense to you that the fact that affirming the negative in either case is to deny it? In fact, it is impossible to affirm the negative:

    1) I think, therefore I am.
    -1) I doubt that I exist, therefore I exist.

    2) The LNC holds.
    -2) The LNC does not hold, therefore it holds.

    You said that you won’t accept something because its opposite is unacceptable. But aren’t even you obligated to accept something whose opposite is impossible?

  168. response to Paul’s comments on this thread
    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/?p=1297#comments

    Hi Paul,
    Speaking of sarcasm …. your most recent comment here could use some work.

    It kind of erases the hope I had while reading the one prior to that.
    Anyhow, I’ll respond to that previous one.

    I have no terms or requirements for communication with God. I’m ready and willing anytime. But the silence is deafening.

    Ready and willing. This sounds very promising, if conveniently passive.
    What have you done to foster communication?
    Have you asked God to reveal Himself to you and entered into His word hoping to hear from Him? How much of His communication have you looked into? How many books have you read on the subject? Do you engage those who want to tell you about Him with an open heart and hearing ears? Or do you shut off understanding with defensive maneuvers?

    It sure would help me come to God’s terms if I could communicate with him, but he apparently requires that I accept some terms of his before we even communicate. Not even my enemies always require that. So this God of yours won’t even communicate with me unless I do so on his terms?

    Ever read about C.S. Lewis’ conversion? He accepted no terms and was pursued by God for months. Of course he was immersed in study and the pursuit of truth and knowledge. Lewis, the atheist, was a fox pursued by hounds:

    And nearly everyone now in the pack; Plato, Dante, MacDonald, Herbert, Barfield, Tolkien, Dyson, Joy itself. Everyone and everything had joined the other side.

    Really, a young atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side.
    … For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a hareem fondled hatreds. My name was legion.
    Of course I could do nothing – I could not last out one hour – without continual conscious recourse to what I called Spirit. But the fine, philosophical distinction between this and what ordinary people call “prayer to God” breaks down as soon as you start doing it in earnest. Idealism can be talked about, and even felt; it cannot be lived. It became patently absurd to go on thinking of ‘Spirit’ as either ignorant of, or passive to, my approaches. Even if my own philosophy were true, how could the initiative lie on my side?

    I was allowed to play at philosophy no longer.

    Doubtless, by definition, God was Reason itself.

    You must picture me alone in my room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I had greatly feared had at last come to me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly ignore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?

    I know you won’t agree with me, but look at the efforts you make to protect your worldview.
    Look what you’ve done to knowledge on this thread (can’t even respond to the question “are you a jazz musician?” and “do you know you exist?”), and morality, cosmology, explanations, etc. on other threads.
    Do you ever stop to think about why it is so hard to try to make coherent arguments and to keep them from contradicting each other when you move from one topic to the next?
    If you respond to this I won’t be surprised if you snip a few lines to quibble with and a few thoughts with which you can argue. But what I’d really like is if you thought about it.
    Wouldn’t you like a worldview in which you could actually know that you exist? Doesn’t it seem as though a view that allows you to at least acknowledge this would make yours pale by comparison? Do you really think one that doesn’t allow you even this is worthy of defence?
    To me it’s obvious that your skepticism needs to be directed back upon itself at some point; I think you’d find it very liberating to let go of the necessary gymnastics.

  169. Have you asked God to reveal Himself to you?

    I’ll do so right now, sincerely. “God, please speak to me.” I’m listening intently, He’s not responding. If I had a friend who could hear me and was capable of responding, and I asked them to speak to me, they would reply. It happens everyday. But with God, it never happens (for me, at least). God surely hears me, and is capable of replying, but he doesn’t. God refuses to have a conversation with me even though he is surely capable of it.

    Speaking of sarcasm …. your most recent comment here could use some work.

    My sarcasm was not directed at you, a comment you made, or anyone in particular.

    How much of His communication have you looked into? How many books have you read on the subject?

    When I want to talk with my friend, I don’t read a by they’ve written. I talk with them.

    Now, of course, if I want to talk to a best-selling author, I can’t get access: he’s too busy, he doesn’t care about what I think, etc. But God, the best selling author, has no problems with access (he hears everything, is omnipotent, etc.), and he even loves me! Someone who loves me but refuses to engage in a conversation with me when he’s perfectly capable of it, and knows that I’m actually begging for him to do so. Please, God, a conversation with me *right now* would change my life uttlerly, please speak to me. But, . . . . nothing. That is not love. It’s not love when he insists on such insane terms of his. And the only rational conclusion is that he doesn’t even exist.

    Or do you shut off understanding with defensive maneuvers?

    My point is about communicating, not understanding.

    Do you ever stop to think about why it is so hard to try to make coherent arguments and to keep them from contradicting each other when you move from one topic to the next?

    1. We disagree about how often I contradict myself. 2. We disagree about how often you contradict yourself. 3. I acknowledge my contradictions when it seems right to me.

  170. You can read up on electro weak quantum tunneling itself and apply it to miracles, or, if there get to be fewer rabbit trails to chase down on this thread in time I can write more on it later.

    I find it interesting that you’ve questioned my use of non-mainstream physics when applying to to problems with current theories, and yet you’ve suggested something even less mainstream.
    Do you subscribe to all of Tiplers “Omega Point Theory”, or just the part about electro-weak quantum tunneling (which unless I’m mistaken, would simply be a power source) being an explnanation for miracles?
    If you don’t hold to Tipler’s OPT, then you’d still need an explanation for God, outside of space-time interacting with it without.
    If so, then you’re left with Tiplers VERY speculative theories, which are not even close to being mainstream within.
    I’d be interested in any further information you have supporting your view.

  171. Hi Havoc,
    I think you may have forgotten the context of our disagreements during the elapsed time since your last comments.

    I find it interesting that you’ve questioned my use of non-mainstream physics when applying to to problems with current theories, and yet you’ve suggested something even less mainstream.

    What’s so interesting about my questioning your claims? You claimed that the theories you were referring to explained things they did not. I didn’t say anything about your right to refer to them, I only showed why the explanations weren’t there.
    On the other hand, you might want to recall why I brought up tunneling. It was to counter your bluff that the Resurrection and/or God’s activity are necessarily violations of the laws of thermodynamics (or even biology). If the standard model of particle physics is a reasonable description of our universe then God’s action necessitates no such violations. This does not say that the Resurrection is explained by such appeals, much less proven. but it demonstrates that the laws of physics do not prohibit it, nor are the two contradictory. Appeals to science and laws are not arguments against God or Biblical claims.

    Do you subscribe to all of Tiplers “Omega Point Theory”, or just the part about electro-weak quantum tunneling (which unless I’m mistaken, would simply be a power source) being an explnanation for miracles?

    I don’t have a problem with Tipler’s hypotheses, but I haven’t taken out a subscription either.
    By the way, what’s the significance of saying that quantum tunneling would “simply be a power source”? What more is demanded by the laws of thermodynamics (or biology)?

    If you don’t hold to Tipler’s OPT, then you’d still need an explanation for God, outside of space-time interacting with it without.

    No I wouldn’t. Who says I do? You claimed His actions are violations of physics. I showed that they are not. I don’t need an “explanation” that appeals to you because I am not trying to explain anything to you. I am countering your fallacious appeals.

    I’d be interested in any further information you have supporting your view.

    Which view of mine do you think needs further explication? Anything relevant to this thread, or even to your complaints about Craig? Or are you just on a fishing trip?

  172. Charlie,

    What’s so interesting about my questioning your claims? You claimed that the theories you were referring to explained things they did not. I didn’t say anything about your right to refer to them, I only showed why the explanations weren’t there.

    The theories I brought up were explanations for the origins of the universe, and the apparent fine tuning of the universe. I found it interesting you dismissed them as not mainstream (which was a valid point), and yet are willing to call up such a far flung theory as Tipler’s in support for your position.

    On the other hand, you might want to recall why I brought up tunneling. It was to counter your bluff that the Resurrection and/or God’s activity are necessarily violations of the laws of thermodynamics (or even biology).

    The traditional God outside of the universe would still seem to violate laws of thermodynamics.

    If the standard model of particle physics is a reasonable description of our universe then God’s action necessitates no such violations.

    Like Newton’s Laws before Relativity, the standard model is the best current theory, but it seems it has known issues – problems meshing it with relativity/gravity would be an example of this.

    I don’t have a problem with Tipler’s hypotheses, but I haven’t taken out a subscription either. By the way, what’s the significance of saying that quantum tunneling would “simply be a power source”? What more is demanded by the laws of thermodynamics (or biology)?

    From what I’ve read concerning Tipler’s OPT, it move God from outside of space-time, where he is traditionally defined to be, to within space-time, in the form of 3 separate singularities, representing the 3 aspects of the triune Christian God. As Tipler’s God is within space-time, it acts within physics, hence the tunnelling as a power source, and nonviolation of thermodynamics. If God is defined, as is tradtionally done, to be outside of space-time, then you’re still left with interaction within space-time violating physics as we understand it. As Tipler’s OPT removes traditional dualism by placing God within a materialistic framework, I was curious as to whether you too rejected dualism/the supernatural as Tipler seems to, or whether you stuck with the more traditional views of God.
    Electro-weak tunnelling appears to be a quantum “shortcut” to mattter/energy conversion, basically annihilate matter without requiring antimatter . It doesn’t violate the laws of conservation of energy or thermodynamics, unless I’m missing something very fundamental. God interacting from outside space-time would still seem to, however.

    No I wouldn’t. Who says I do? You claimed His actions are violations of physics. I showed that they are not. I don’t need an “explanation” that appeals to you because I am not trying to explain anything to you. I am countering your fallacious appeals.

    Tipler’s wild explanations are only valid for a God defined within the materialistic framework he presents. A God outside space-time would still violate physics as we understand them.

    Which view of mine do you think needs further explication? Anything relevant to this thread, or even to your complaints about Craig? Or are you just on a fishing trip?

    If you do belief a God, interacting from outside of space-time doesn’t violate the laws of physics, I’d be interesting in reading supporting material.
    I’m reading Craig’s site and papers at the moment, so I should be fine in that regard for now.

    Any defence yet of your charge against Craig?

    I apologise. I may have commented in haste. From the link you originally posted –
    “it occurred to me that my five arguments for God are all based on experience/ reason/science”.
    I missed that craig had listed “experience” as a base for his 5 arguments, and assumed he claimed to base them all on reason & science.

  173. Hi Havoc,

    The theories I brought up were explanations for the origins of the universe, and the apparent fine tuning of the universe. I found it interesting you dismissed them as not mainstream (which was a valid point), and yet are willing to call up such a far flung theory as Tipler’s in support for your position.

    I don’t recall “dismissing” them as not mainstream. What do you mean “dismiss”? Do you mean “show how Craig has addressed these when you accused him of ignoring them”?

    The traditional God outside of the universe would still seem to violate laws of thermodynamics.

    You keep making this assertion. What evidence do you have for this claim? What makes this seem to be the case to you? Given that QM can be interpreted in such a way that gives consciousness primacy over matter and there are quantum theorists who don’t believe in God and yet feel that QM provides strong evidence for Him it seems unlikely.

    From what I’ve read concerning Tipler’s OPT, it move God from outside of space-time, where he is traditionally defined to be, to within space-time, in the form of 3 separate singularities, representing the 3 aspects of the triune Christian God.

    It doesn’t. The omega point is an infinitely sharp point which exists outside of space/time. There is only one such singularity or point. Like the trinity, it is three in one, it is not three separate things.

    As Tipler’s God is within space-time, it acts within physics, hence the tunnelling as a power source, and nonviolation of thermodynamics. If God is defined, as is tradtionally done, to be outside of space-time, then you’re still left with interaction within space-time violating physics as we understand it.

    Neither description is of a God “within” space-time, but both can have effects within space-time. Tipler gives a proposed mechanism, theism doesn’t require one. Theists from Augustine to Lewis, from before and after them, and all the way along in between, have insisted that God does not violate any laws. What do you know about theism that demands that He does?

    As Tipler’s OPT removes traditional dualism by placing God within a materialistic framework, I was curious as to whether you too rejected dualism/the supernatural as Tipler seems to, or whether you stuck with the more traditional views of God.

    In what way does it do this? What is materialistic, or material, about a singularity?

    God interacting from outside space-time would still seem to, however.

    I’m missing why you think this. Tipler shows you one way, and by one mechanism, that it’s possible for a God outside of space/time to do this. What makes you think that mind acting on matter or quantum states being determined by consciousness is a violation of any laws?

    Tipler’s wild explanations are only valid for a God defined within the materialistic framework he presents. A God outside space-time would still violate physics as we understand them.

    Other than repeatedly assert this you have done nothing to support this claim. The only thing that such a God would violate is your belief that the the universe is a causally-closed physical system of natural effects. But this is not evidenced or necessitated by induction, but is merely assumed as a philosophical position.

    If you do belief a God, interacting from outside of space-time doesn’t violate the laws of physics, I’d be interesting in reading supporting material.

    I do believe the ball’s in your court. I’ve provided a mathematical physicist who demonstrates that there is nothing about God that necessitates such a violation. The almost 50% of scientists who believe in an active, prayer-answering God wouldn’t seem to think so either.
    What do you know about physics that would make them wrong? Why are there such prominent physicists who come to believe in the existence of God because of their investigations into the laws of nature, not even in spite of them, if His actions constitute such a violation? What do they not know about physics that would make this the case?

    I apologise. I may have commented in haste. From the link you originally posted –
    “it occurred to me that my five arguments for God are all based on experience/ reason/science”.
    I missed that craig had listed “experience” as a base for his 5 arguments, and assumed he claimed to base them all on reason & science.

    And that he said he “only” used these, as opposed to based his answers upon them. Thank you very much for your retraction.

  174. Oops.
    I sat too long without editing.
    I forgot about the 20 minutes.
    Here is a slightly edited version, with some page numbers from Tipler for my own reference.

    Hi Havoc,

    The theories I brought up were explanations for the origins of the universe, and the apparent fine tuning of the universe. I found it interesting you dismissed them as not mainstream (which was a valid point), and yet are willing to call up such a far flung theory as Tipler’s in support for your position.

    I don’t recall “dismissing” them as not mainstream. What do you mean “dismiss”? Do you mean “show how Craig has addressed these when you accused him of ignoring them”?

    The traditional God outside of the universe would still seem to violate laws of thermodynamics.

    You keep making this assertion. What evidence do you have for this claim? What makes this seem to be the case to you? Given that QM can be interpreted in such a way that gives consciousness primacy over matter and there are quantum theorists who don’t believe in God and yet feel that QM provides strong evidence for Him it seems unlikely.

    From what I’ve read concerning Tipler’s OPT, it move God from outside of space-time, where he is traditionally defined to be, to within space-time, in the form of 3 separate singularities, representing the 3 aspects of the triune Christian God.

    It doesn’t.In fact, it cannot, as a singularity cannot exist, according to the standard model and the unitarity, within space-time. The Omega Point is an infinitely sharp point which exists outside of space/time. There is only one such singularity or point and there no possible laws of physics can apply (reference for me, page47, 82, 92, 96 – I don’t feel like quoting at the moment). Like the Trinity, it is three in one, it is not three separate things.

    As Tipler’s God is within space-time, it acts within physics, hence the tunnelling as a power source, and nonviolation of thermodynamics. If God is defined, as is tradtionally done, to be outside of space-time, then you’re still left with interaction within space-time violating physics as we understand it.

    Neither description is of a God “within” space-time, but both can have effects (98, 100) within space-time. Tipler gives a proposed mechanism, theism doesn’t require one. Theists from Augustine to Lewis, from before and after them, and all the way along in between, have insisted that God does not violate any laws. What do you know about theism that demands that He does?

    As Tipler’s OPT removes traditional dualism by placing God within a materialistic framework, I was curious as to whether you too rejected dualism/the supernatural as Tipler seems to, or whether you stuck with the more traditional views of God.

    In what way does it do this? What is materialistic, or material (97), about a singularity or a fundamental wave-function?

    God interacting from outside space-time would still seem to, however.

    I’m missing why you think this. Tipler shows you one way, and by one mechanism, that it’s possible for a God outside of space/time to do this. What makes you think that mind acting on matter or quantum states being determined by consciousness is a violation of any laws?

    Tipler’s wild explanations are only valid for a God defined within the materialistic framework he presents. A God outside space-time would still violate physics as we understand them.

    Other than repeatedly assert this you have done nothing to support this claim. The only thing that such a God would violate is your belief that the the universe is a causally-closed physical system of natural effects. But this is not evidenced or necessitated by induction, but is merely assumed as a philosophical position.

    If you do belief a God, interacting from outside of space-time doesn’t violate the laws of physics, I’d be interesting in reading supporting material.

    I do believe the ball’s in your court. I’ve provided a mathematical physicist who demonstrates that there is nothing about God that necessitates such a violation. The almost 50% of scientists who believe in an active, prayer-answering God wouldn’t seem to think so either.
    What do you know about physics that would make them wrong? Why are there such prominent physicists who come to believe in the existence of God because of their investigations into the laws of nature, not even in spite of them, if His actions constitute such a violation? What do they not know about physics that would make this the case?

    I apologise. I may have commented in haste. From the link you originally posted –
    “it occurred to me that my five arguments for God are all based on experience/ reason/science”.
    I missed that craig had listed “experience” as a base for his 5 arguments, and assumed he claimed to base them all on reason & science.

    And that he said he “only” used these, as opposed to based his answers upon them. Thank you very much for your retraction.

  175. Sorry, been busy 🙂

    Charlie,

    You keep making this assertion. What evidence do you have for this claim? What makes this seem to be the case to you?

    The assertion is made on the basis of the conservation of energy. Everything I have read shows it is not broken by known physics, including the very speculative “electro weak quantum tunneling” as promoted by Tipler’s OPT.
    I haven’t read Tipler’s book, from from the reviews I’ve found it seems to promote a materialistic cause for miracles (ie. using EWQT as an energy source, walking on water by way of neutrino emmision, appearing/disappearing to the believers by way of converting body to neutrinos and back again). I think he does this because of conservation of energy – any “outside interaction” whether from a traditional theistic God, or a soul, would seem to require breaking conservation of energy.
    You mentioned in an earlier comment that we have no confidence in the causal closure of the universe. I’d be interested in any links you have for that assertion?

    Given that QM can be interpreted in such a way that gives consciousness primacy over matter and there are quantum theorists who don’t believe in God and yet feel that QM provides strong evidence for Him it seems unlikely.

    You’re speaking of the copenhagen interpretation I gather. Nothing in the equations of QM dictate one interpretation over another, and while the Copenhagen might be more prevalent (and more widely known), other interpretations are just as valid as far as QM and the evidence is concerned.

    The only thing that such a God would violate is your belief that the the universe is a causally-closed physical system of natural effects.

    My belief is based upon the knowledge that effecting matter requires energy, and energy is conserved. As best as we can tell, both of the previous points hold, and thus the universe appears to be causally closed. I assume you disagree. As I said above, I’m curious as to why you don’t think the universe is causally closed.

    I’m sorry if I missed some important points – still busy unfortunately.

  176. Hi Havoc,
    You’ve answered the wrong question right off the bat. Let’s be generous and presume it’s because of the time delay between your responses. I must submit that this makes conversation quite pointless, but let me remind you anyway that the question was why do you insist that God’s actions would violate the Second Law. Would you mind formulating that Law for me? Tell me what you think it says, think about God’s actions for a bit and then back up your assertion?
    By the way, I didn’t claim that known physics violates the law, so you are off on the wrong trail there. I also didn’t suggest that Tipler provided evidence that physics was violated. Rather, Tipler’s theory is evidence that God’s actions don’t have to violate any known laws. Tipler’s idea about electro-weak tunneling doesn’t violate laws. Quantum leaps don’t either.

    You mentioned in an earlier comment that we have no confidence in the causal closure of the universe. I’d be interested in any links you have for that assertion?

    I don’t need links. I argued that position in two different threads and gave my reasoning. Are you really trying to discuss something here?

    I haven’t read Tipler’s book, from from the reviews I’ve found it seems to promote a materialistic cause for miracles (ie. using EWQT as an energy source, walking on water by way of neutrino emmision, appearing/disappearing to the believers by way of converting body to neutrinos and back again). I think he does this because of conservation of energy – any “outside interaction” whether from a traditional theistic God, or a soul, would seem to require breaking conservation of energy.

    “Outside interaction” is just what he proposes. He tells us that the all-presents singularity, the Son, acts through history and causes effects in time and in the universe from the perspective of an infinitely near singularity. The point of referring to the material aspects is exactly as I suggested – miracles and interaction don’t violate laws of physics. This is my point, not yours. But the cause is not part of the material universe, the cause is not “neutrinos”, or “electrons” the cause is the singularity, which exists prior to and outside of the universe and of material.

    You’re speaking of the copenhagen interpretation I gather. Nothing in the equations of QM dictate one interpretation over another, and while the Copenhagen might be more prevalent (and more widely known), other interpretations are just as valid as far as QM and the evidence is concerned.

    So? Really, so? Please follow along. As always, I am not claiming the only interpretation. I, like Craig before, am arguing that my claims are not counter to scientific knowledge, but rather, are entirely consistent with it and with known scientific theories. In this case, as you point out, the prevalent theory. Do you really think that alluding to other interpretations answers my point? Can you recall what my assertion was and what this point was meant to support?
    Let me remind you. We are talking about what is required by physics. Somehow you really get that physics does not require my (or Craig’s or Tipler’s) interpretation. You never get that it doesn’t require yours, either. Physicists who don’t believe in God, and are well aware of the laws of thermodynamics, have said that QM provides strong evidence for His existence, ie. physics does not require that any action by God is a violation of any laws. Get it? Aside:Tom reminded you, as did I later, not to confuse proof with evidence. The fact that you keep doing so makes it impossible to think you have the ability to evaluate evidence. For this reason I hope you’ll recognize why I don’t bother to delve into your requests for evidences for Christianity and its historicity, etc. You don’t seem to be on an honest quest at all but are rather committed to protecting your point of view and obfuscating all matters contrary to it.

    My belief is based upon the knowledge that effecting matter requires energy, and energy is conserved. As best as we can tell, both of the previous points hold, and thus the universe appears to be causally closed. I assume you disagree. As I said above, I’m curious as to why you don’t think the universe is causally closed.

    You aren’t curious. If you were you’d pay attention and try to remember my points. I demonstrated why I think the universe is not physically, causally closed, and I repeated it for a long time.
    As for “energy moving matter” you are leaving out a key ingredient – information. Energy and matter do not have to be injected in the universe for effects not to have physical causes. The very fact that the very first effect occurred outside of the universe (which question you don’t believe is even intelligible) proves right off the bat that the universe and its energy-matter correlations does not represent the entirety of cause-effect relations.

    Did I mention that many scientists make intercessory prayers? Some of them might be aware of the laws of physics, right?

  177. Charlie,

    “Outside interaction” is just what he proposes. He tells us that the all-presents singularity, the Son, acts through history and causes effects in time and in the universe from the perspective of an infinitely near singularity.

    I don’t fully understand what you are saying but it reminded me of this interesting abstract that (statistically) supports the notion that the mind gains intuitive knowledge though something other than the 5 senses. In your opinion is this ‘outside interaction’?

    “This pilot study suggests the presence of a nonlocal perturbation effect that is consistent with traditional concepts of intuition as a direct means of gaining knowledge about the world”

    As for “energy moving matter” you are leaving out a key ingredient – information. Energy and matter do not have to be injected in the universe for effects not to have physical causes.

    The study I linked to seems to support this.

    Notice, too, that nowhere was it said that intuition=emotional feeling, as some would claim.

  178. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for that excellent link. This supports my point beautifully about the observer effect and the action of intent/information as opposed to the action of energy/matter. This is supportive of my point on Tipler, where the use of the phrase “outside interaction” referred to “outside the supposedly closed universe of physical causes and effects”. This again shows that will and intent have an effect on matter (which Havoc denied in the previous thread) but even provides evidence of the non-local effect. This is a little shy of demonstrating that such a will is not a bound effect in our universe (as God would be – as opposed to us) without arguing about what our universe exactly entails, but it provides more empirical evidence of the non-materiality of such causes and effects.

    By the way, I was going to provide what I presume will be the responses to this abstract from our materialist friends, but as it looks sarcastic I’ll wait for them to do it themselves.
    This reminds me of the links you provided showing the statistically significant effects of psi phenomena and I anticipate the same kind of reaction.

  179. Charlie,
    Found another abstract I think you will like.

    “Double-Blind Test of the Effects of Distant Intention on Water Crystal Formation”

    The hypothesis that water “treated” with intention can affect ice crystals formed from that water was pilot tested under double-blind conditions. A group of approximately 2,000 people in Tokyo focused positive intentions toward water samples located inside an electromagnetically shielded room in California.

  180. Charlie,
    I keep digging these up…well….because they are interesting. Here’s a commentary on several studies done (links are on the page) that I don’t have the brains to understand.

    The idea is that a mind-independent reality doesn’t exist! Interesting, no?! If true, it gives me one more reason to think the Christian perspective actually IS true (In the beginning, God…God is sustainer of all creation). The last paragraph of the commentary says this:

    Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the illusion of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism.

  181.