Six Things Atheism Can Teach Us All About Ethics

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What can atheism teach us about ethics? A lot.

The question probably surprises some atheists. My answer may surprise some Christians.

First, atheists often tell us there is no such belief system as “atheism;” it’s just the lack of belief in God. Whether that’s true or not I do not need to argue right now. For this post I’m talking about a very common and specifically identifiable form of atheism: the belief that life and the universe came to be through natural processes alone, and that there is no God. There’s enough there to call it a definite belief system for purposes of this post.

But atheists might also be surprised I would raise any question that might raise specters of charges you’ve heard that “Atheism is amoral,” or “Atheists are bad people.” I’m aware of those sensitivities. After you read this I think you might decide there’s no substance to those specters this time. If not, then I’m open to learning still more from you, and I hope we can have a good conversation about it in the comments.

Some Christians, on the other hand, think that moral truth is to be found strictly in the Bible, so they would be surprised to hear me say we can learn “a lot” from atheism. But the Bible never claims that it’s the only source of ethical knowledge. Where does Proverbs 5:6 tells us to go, to learn the value of industry? To the ants! If we can learn wisdom from ants, then we don’t have to learn it all from the Bible.

But I still think God’s word is the real authority, and the existence of God is still necessary in order for there to be any truly objective morality, any real truth, independent of human opinion, to ethical statements like “This was right!” and “That was wrong.”

I think the one best place to go to learn moral knowledge is a Bible-believing Christian family or church. The Bible is the only final authority. It just isn’t the only place to go to gain moral knowledge.

So with that, here are six things atheism can teach us all about ethics.

  1. Morality matters. I’ve never known an atheist who wasn’t trying to be a good person. If morality matters among atheists, it must matter within atheism: and it does. There are moral discussions going on all the time on the atheist Internet. Some of them get pretty passionate. Check out the Shadow to Light blog for some interesting observations on that.
  2. If morality matters, there must be some reason it matters. Sam Harris wrote on this in The Moral Landscape. Alonzo Fyfe promotes “Desire Utilitarianism,” one of many non-theistic utilitarian and consequentialist ethical theories. Atheists are deeply involved in the conversation over the basis for morality.
  3. These things (1 and 2) can be known to be true without knowing or believing there is a God.
  4. It’s possible to be good “for nothing.” (I did not say “good for nothing.”) That is, atheists sometimes challenge Christian-based morality as rewards-based morality, whereas atheists who are doing good do it (sometimes at least) simply for the sake of being good.
  5. It seems that Christians haven’t done a good enough job of understanding the basis of our own moral beliefs, or else we haven’t done a good enough job of explaining it to others. For one example (there are many others) the fact that some atheists think #4 is true demonstrates that they’ve misunderstand what Christian morality is about. (It isn’t just rewards-based.) I don’t have any way to prove this but I suspect their misunderstanding has more to do with Christians’ failure to explain than with anyone else’s failure to listen or to comprehend.
  6. You can deny God but you can’t run from him. (This one I don’t expect atheists to agree with.) Christianity includes the belief that God created all persons in his image, and that we have an innate knowledge of right and wrong because of the way God made us. Atheism can teach us true facts about morality because atheists demonstrate true things about being humans expressing the image of God, not because atheism is right about there being no God.
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367 Responses to “ Six Things Atheism Can Teach Us All About Ethics ”

  1. “Christianity includes the belief that God created all persons in his image, and that we have an innate knowledge of right and wrong because of the way God made us. ”
    – As an atheist, I think there is a kernel of truth to this (in the sense that I agree that moral knowledge has an innate source – “comes from within” – where we´d disagree is that I would say that this is the *only* source of moral knowledge).
    But I see a problem for Christianity here. We agree that people have an innate knowledge of right and wrong and I further grant for the sake of the argument that the Bible is infallible in its moral teachings. Now, the overwhelming majority of people (probably everyone except for people with genuine antisocial personality disorders) experience at least some burden on their conscience when they do morally wrong things like stealing from someone, or cheating on their spouse etc.
    However, this is not true for everything that the Bible teaches to be morally wrong. First example that comes to mind:
    Not believing that there is a God (i.e. mere atheism) and hence not worshipping said God for example would be sinful if the Bible is true – so how is it possible that I have zero innate knowledge about this being morally wrong? How can I be a life-long atheist without it ever affecting my conscience in any way whatsoever?

  2. How can I be a life-long atheist without it ever affecting my conscience in any way whatsoever?

    Irenicus,

    I would suggest that you do have access to an answer for the above. However, it comes in a different form than the one in the following quote. When you say a “majority of people….experience at least some burden on their conscience when they do morally wrong things” There you acknowledge a reality that your worldview doesn’t really support. On what basis can your atheism reconcile the burden of conscience (or the existence of that conscience) you experience. I would suggest it can’t but yet, at the same time, you do experience it. Given that, it seems you must be in a state of cognitive dissonance over the existence of a conscience you feel and acknowledge but can’t explain. Wouldn’t it be fair to say that is affecting you?

  3. BillT,

    There you acknowledge a reality that your worldview doesn’t really support. On what basis can your atheism reconcile the burden of conscience (or the existence of that conscience) you experience.

    I don´t see the cognitive faculties relevant for moral reasoning as problematic for my worldview at all. We are social creatures with a conscience and a sense of justice, fairness and empathy – and those attributes are also present in lesser degrees in our close relatives in the animal world (you can, for example, demonstrate that Chimpanzees have a sense of fairness comparable to that of human children). Cooperation is in many situations the best evolutionary strategy, so I don´t find it surprising that we evolved to become social creatures.
    In fact, I find the ways our moral reasoning does and does not work to be much more problematic for your worldview than for mine. Two main reasons:
    1. The existence of antisocial personality disorders, up to and including genuine psychopathy – their existence is completely unsurprising if our moral reasoning emerges from a physical basis that can be destroyed through accident and disease (developmental disorders and accidents that affect the frontal lobe of your brain are very relevant here). But if they rather emerge from a non-physical and God-given mind, there is no good reason for their existence at all, and certainly no reason to expect that they can be incurable – but many of them are just that.
    2. Moral reasoning, like every other reasoning process, is affected by systematic biases (e.g. the ingroup-outgroup bias), those biases can be readily explained as mental heuristics (i.e. shortcuts) that conferred survival advantages for our ancestors, but if your worldview is correct – then why do we have those biases at all? And why does your religion not help you overcome those biases? (if you look at studies about these phenomena, you find that the religious views of the test subjects have precious little to do with whether they are affected by these systematic biases or not – we all are, and we can´t “turn them off”, the best you can do is become aware of them and try to look out for instances where they might have clouded your judgment, Religion or lack thereof has nothing to do with it).

    Going back to the question I posed in my first comment – do you have an answer for that?

  4. Irenicus,

    First, if all your moral reasoning is, is some evolutionary strategy then it’s really nothing at all. For morality and moral reasoning depends on shared duties and responsibilities. Those duties and obligations either exist because we are part of a shared creation or they’re just a convenient fiction. If all this is to you is some evolutionary hard wiring then for what reason would you or anyone else care about them. They are, in that case, no more important than your personal opinion and bind neither you or anyone else to act on or care about them. Simply, “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” And, let me say, that’s fine with me but then don’t pretend we’re talking about something that matters.

    A far as systematic biases, well that and all imperfections in our moral sense is well predicted and understood from a Biblical perspective. Whether religious orientations effect those biases is a nuanced understanding that “studies about these phenomena” are either ill equipped to understand and/or (more likely) subject to the same biases they themselves are trying to understand.

    The answer to the question you posed in your first comment stands as I answered it. You are either conflicted to the origin of your burden of conscience or you, as you seem to have done above, have turned it into a meaningless fiction.

  5. BillT,

    First, if all your moral reasoning is, is some evolutionary strategy then it’s really nothing at all.

    That is not what I said. What I said was that cooperation is in many circumstances the best evolutionary strategy and that it is thus not surprising that we evolved to become social creatures.
    The difference is:
    a) Moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals – with a conscience and a sense of justice, fairness and empathy – and we have that nature because we are the product of an evolutionary process that favored cooperation. [What I am saying]
    b) Our moral reasoning is an evolutionary strategy. [Your misunderstanding of my position]

    For morality and moral reasoning depends on shared duties and responsibilities. Those duties and obligations either exist because we are part of a shared creation…

    I don´t disagree with that at all. Where we would disagree is that I believe that those moral duties and obligations are grounded within our human nature, not grounded within anything extrinsic to us, and that we indeed “share” a “creation”, but not one that was meddled with by God.

    If all this is to you is some evolutionary hard wiring then for what reason would you or anyone else care about them.

    For the exact same reason that you care about them. Think about how absurd it would be to say something like “if your eyesight is the result of an evolutionary process instead of being a gift from God, then why would you or anyone care about what you see or about being able to see at all?!” – it is not any less absurd if you substitute “eyesight” by, say, “sense of empathy”.
    If I´d change my mind about God´s existence, I wouldn´t appreciate any part of my human nature – be it my eyesight or my moral faculties or anything else – any more or less, and I strongly doubt that it would be any different for your if you´d change your mind about God´s existence.

    They are, in that case, no more important than your personal opinion and bind neither you or anyone else to act on or care about them.

    Your human nature is not malleable by your opinion of it, if you start believing that you can fly like a bird, it won´t give you wings – your nature objectively exists completely independent of what your opinion of it is.
    As to what is “binding” here, what “binds” you is your conscience, and it would be your conscience completely independent of whether God exists or not:
    Assuming that I started believing that your God is real and the Bible is true, and further assuming that I had no conscience *at all* – then those beliefs about God and the Bible would obviously be utterly irrelevant for the way I act. I might realize on some intellectual level what is morally wrong and right, but without any conscience to constrain my actions, this knowledge would be purely abstract and uninteresting to me – it wouldn´t “bind” me in any way, shape or form. That´s why the existence or non-existence of a conscience is the *only* factor that makes your moral judgments “binding” for the way you act.

    A far as systematic biases, well that and all imperfections in our moral sense is well predicted and understood from a Biblical perspective.

    One only wonders then why Christians didn´t predict their existence before they were actually scientifically described. Regarding the “understanding” of it, well, do you have an “explanation” beyond “cause Eve ate that apple, that´s why”?

    The answer to the question you posed in your first comment stands as I answered it.

    You did not answer it at all, you so far did not even try to do so.

    You are either conflicted to the origin of your burden of conscience or you, as you seem to have done above, have turned it into a meaningless fiction.

    Even if that were true, which it is not, this would not answer my question in any way and I would still ask it completely unchanged. I actually even granted that the Bible is true in its moral teachings for the sake of the argument when I asked that question, I can extend that to “the Bible is true about everything else”, and would still raise the exact same question.

  6. Irenicus,

    Thanks for visiting and sharing here.

    I’m curious about something, though. BillT said (I paraphrase) that on your view moral reasoning is an evolutionary strategy. You said that was not your position, but rather,

    Moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals – with a conscience and a sense of justice, fairness and empathy – and we have that nature because we are the product of an evolutionary process that favored cooperation.

    Now, it seems to me that BillT’s summary of your position might be justifiable if it can be shown to follow logically from this. That is, even if you didn’t put it the way he did, if your stated position logically implies the thing that he said, then it’s fair to say that you said it by implication.

    Would you agree with that much?

    I think it’s a fair thing to say, myself, so I’m going to see what happens when we parse out what you said.

    Moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals … which we have because we’re the product of an evolutionary process that favored cooperation.

    That is (and feel free to skip to point 9; the rest of it is a slow way of reaching a conclusion that I think should be intuitively obvious):
    1. We are products of an evolutionary process. (From your statement.)
    2. That process favored cooperation. (From your statement.)
    3. Our cooperative nature is therefore the result of evolutionary processes. (From 1 and 2)
    4. Cooperation is selectively supported in organisms that evolve to have a cooperative nature. (From your statement and the widely known truths of evolution).
    4. A cooperative nature can be defined in terms of having a sense of conscience, fairness, justice, and empathy: a moral nature, in other words. (From your statement.)
    5. Thus it’s fair to say that evolution selects in favor of organisms that have that a moral nature so defined. (From 3 and 4)
    6. Thus it’s also probably fair to say (although terribly anthropomorphic) that cooperation is a strategy that evolution used to make us the way we are. (A re-wording of 5)
    7. Thus in that sense the things that make for cooperation are at the same time the things that evolution has used as a strategy to make us the way we are. (From 3 through 6)
    8. Moral reasoning is one of the things that make for cooperation. (By definition)
    9. Therefore moral reasoning is one of the things that evolution has used as a strategy to make us the way we are.

    I think this much, so far, is undeniable for the believer in naturalistic evolution. The question is whether it tells the whole story of what moral reasoning is. Is moral reasoning nothing but an evolutionary strategy? Or is there more to it than that?

    What would you say?

  7. Moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals – with a conscience and a sense of justice, fairness and empathy – and we have that nature because we are the product of an evolutionary process that favored cooperation.

    And this really sums up the difference in our positions. As I said before, if “moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals” describes moral reasoning then moral reasoning is a fiction. Evolutionary hard wiring or “our nature as social animals” doesn’t create moral reasoning or moral agency. I explained that above and you haven’t provided any counter to that position.

    Where we would disagree is that I believe that those moral duties and obligations are grounded within our human nature, not grounded within anything extrinsic to us, and that we indeed “share” a “creation”, but not one that was meddled with by God.

    Same thing again. If morality is “grounded within our human nature” then it is without any binding obligation to or from anyone. And God doesn’t “meddle.” He either created us as moral agents or we owe each other no more moral duty then we owe the ant we unknowingly crushed on our way out the door this morning.

    As to what is “binding” here, what “binds” you is your conscience, and it would be your conscience completely independent of whether God exists or not:.

    And this “conscience” comes from where exactly? More evolutionary hocus pocus that is something else we can ignore at any whim and that creates no duties or responsibilities to or for anyone. And that’s not to mention that the existence of your conscience isn’t proof “it would be your conscience completely independent of whether God exists or not”. You don’t know that. That’s circular reasoning. That you have a conscience isn’t evidence that you had to have a conscience.

    And if this “How can I be a life-long atheist without it ever affecting my conscience in any way whatsoever?” is the question you are referring to it’s pretty disingenuous to say I haven’t addressed it. If it’s not please point out the correct question or explain how I haven’t “even tried” when I wrote my entire first response about it and we’ve been discussing those points ever since.

  8. Tom,
    it seems to me that our actions is individuals are being mixed up with the process that created us.

    To illustrate this, I´ll use an example unrelated to morality:
    Our bodies rely on molecular oxygen for energy production. After the Great Oxygenation Event (the enrichment of molecular oxygen in our atmosphere 2.3 billion years ago) – an adaptation to use molecular oxygen as final acceptor in the electron transport chain was an excellent strategy. Because oxygen is a highly oxydizing agent (much more so than nitrate or sulfate etc. that is used by anaerobic organisms) and because it was readily available in vast amounts with virtually no competition. So, switching to oxygen was an evolutionary highly successful strategy. But does it therefore make sense to say that we are using an “evolutionary strategy” when we eat and breathe?
    It does not. This is just the way we happen to be, its part of our nature, and we are that way *because* of an evolutionary strategy that favored oxygen.
    So, again, it seems to me that there is a confusion here between x and the process y that created x – and x and y are not the same thing.
    When you say that we are using an evolutionary strategy when we exercise our moral reasoning faculties based on my worldview, it would be like me saying that we are creating humans from clay and ribs when we exercise our moral reasoning faculties based on your worldview – it would be confusing the creation process with the outcome.

  9. Irenicus, you say, “it seems to me that our actions is individuals are being mixed up with the process that created us.”

    I ask, can our actions as individuals be distinguished from the process that’s creating our descendants?

     

    … pause…

     

    … to reflect …

     

    That’s a very serious and important question. Once you’ve worked on it enough to have an answer, then consider the fact that the same process that’s creating our descendants (including our actions as individuals) is the same process that created us.

    In reality there is only one process. Evolution is all that got us here, according to the naturalistic story. All. As in, there is no other process that explains who we are. If there were, it would either have to be evolution hiding under another name, or a sky-hooked in non-evolutionary something-or-other that doesn’t belong in naturalism.

    It’s all that got us here, and decades down the road it will be the only thing that got our descendants where they’ll be then.

    There is only one process.

    The only problem with saying it’s an “evolutionary strategy when we eat and breathe” is that it’s too anthropomorphic. Evolution doesn’t have strategies. It doesn’t reason strategically any more than it reasons ethically. Otherwise, yes, our eating and breathing are processes by which our descendants are selected for. They’re processes by which our ancestors were able to survive and produce (eventually) us. Speaking anthropomorphically they are indeed strategies that have been used by evolution to select out, for example, those who have been weak or malformed in their digestive and respiratory systems.

    I think you’re sky-hooking ethical reasoning into the conversation. Do you see how that’s the case?

  10. On this:

    When you say that we are using an evolutionary strategy when we exercise our moral reasoning faculties based on my worldview, it would be like me saying that we are creating humans from clay and ribs when we exercise our moral reasoning faculties based on your worldview – it would be confusing the creation process with the outcome.

    The analogy doesn’t hold. Theistic creation can separate process from outcome, agent from product, and agent from agent.

    For evolution, it’s all process. There is no “outcome,” and strictly speaking there is no agency except in terms of natural law operating on natural conditions.

  11. BillT,

    As I said before, if “moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals” describes moral reasoning then moral reasoning is a fiction.

    So you think our nature is fictional? That is a rather weird position to take, and one so obviously false that I find it almost silly to rebut it.
    But if you insist – to exist fictionally means to exist in the imagination, humans and their nature are not imaginary, and therefore, humans and human nature don´t exist fictionally.

    Evolutionary hard wiring or “our nature as social animals” doesn’t create moral reasoning or moral agency. I explained that above and you haven’t provided any counter to that position.

    That is a mere assertion which you don´t even try to support with any evidence or arguments for it. Exactly as persuasive as me saying “God, even if he would exist, cannot create moral agents because I say so.” – read: not persuasive in any way, shape or form.
    It is also a self-refuting assertion given your worldview because you *categorically* state that our nature cannot lead to moral agency, but then that would be still true if our nature would be the result of divine creation, so, you cannot consistently believe that humans are moral agents! In other words, it strongly appears that you did not think this through.

    Same thing again. If morality is “grounded within our human nature” then it is without any binding obligation to or from anyone.

    I already addressed this in my earlier comment:
    “As to what is “binding” here, what “binds” you is your conscience, and it would be your conscience completely independent of whether God exists or not:
    Assuming that I started believing that your God is real and the Bible is true, and further assuming that I had no conscience *at all* – then those beliefs about God and the Bible would obviously be utterly irrelevant for the way I act. I might realize on some intellectual level what is morally wrong and right, but without any conscience to constrain my actions, this knowledge would be purely abstract and uninteresting to me – it wouldn´t “bind” me in any way, shape or form. That´s why the existence or non-existence of a conscience is the *only* factor that makes your moral judgments “binding” for the way you act.”
    – In a nutshell: whether we are the product of evolution or the product of divine creation, either way – what would make our moral judgments “binding” for the way we act would be whether our nature does or does not include a conscience.

    And this “conscience” comes from where exactly? More evolutionary hocus pocus that is something else we can ignore at any whim and that creates no duties or responsibilities to or for anyone.

    1. You can “ignore your conscience on a whim” in the exact same sense as you can “ignore your breathing reflex on a whim”.
    2. What you say here is completely independent of theism vs atheism. I´ll just grant you that we can “ignore our conscience on a whim” and further grant you that my conscience was created by God – and voila, I can now ignore my *God-given* conscience on a whim!
    What you say here is an absurdity (#1) spiced up with special pleading (#2).

    And that’s not to mention that the existence of your conscience isn’t proof “it would be your conscience completely independent of whether God exists or not”. You don’t know that. That’s circular reasoning. That you have a conscience isn’t evidence that you had to have a conscience.

    You misread what I said. I didn´t say that you would *have* a conscience either way, I said that it would be conscience that would *bind* your actions either way. And that is not circular reasoning, that logically follows from what a conscience IS. Again, if I believed that your God exists and your Bible is true, but would have NO conscience – then knowledge of your theistic morality could not possibly constrain my actions in any way because I would have no conscience that would lead me to CARE about whether I´m doing the morally right or morally wrong thing.

    And if this “How can I be a life-long atheist without it ever affecting my conscience in any way whatsoever?” is the question you are referring to it’s pretty disingenuous to say I haven’t addressed it.

    It´s not disingenuous, it´s stating a matter of fact – you have not answered that question nor did you even try to do so, you´ve rather opened up many strands tangential to the question without ever addressing the question itself.

  12. Wow.

    This doesn’t follow, Irenicus:

    As I said before, if “moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals” describes moral reasoning then moral reasoning is a fiction.

    So you think our nature is fictional? That is a rather weird position to take, and one so obviously false that I find it almost silly to rebut it.

    BillT was drawing a conclusion that he doesn’t believe, because the conclusion was drawn from premises he was trying to disprove. (It’s a form of reductio ad absurdum.)

    So no, he doesn’t think our nature is fictional, and you rushed rather rapidly to ridicule him for something he obviously wasn’t saying.

    You got him wrong there. So maybe you might want to slow down. Take a deep breath. Try to see what we’re saying before you hurry to judge.

    Otherwise when you think you’re pointing out embarrassing errors on our side, you run the risk of committing them yourself instead. Again.

  13. And really, now, please. Just moments after accusing him of bare assertion you write,

    It is also a self-refuting assertion given your worldview because you *categorically* state that our nature cannot lead to moral agency, but then that would be still true if our nature would be the result of divine creation, so, you cannot consistently believe that humans are moral agents! In other words, it strongly appears that you did not think this through.

    No argument. No nothing. Bare assertion.

    Please.

    (By the way, there is a very sound argument to be made in favor of the idea that theistic creation leads directly to humans having moral agency. There is no parallel between that argument and any argument based in naturalistic evolution. Therefore you can’t reason, “if evolution can’t lead to moral agency, then neither than divine creation;” because there’s no logical connection between the premise and the conclusion.)

    It strongly appears that you did not think this through.

    But the main thing is this: be on guard against committing errors in reasoning that you’ve just accused others of committing. It doesn’t play well here.

  14. As to your original question: For every wrong you could suggest, whether petty, mild, serious, or heinous, there are some people who can do those things without any pang of conscience.

    What we can learn from that is that if some individuals feel no sense of conscience against certain actions, that’s pretty weak evidence that those actions aren’t wrong.

    Therefore your lack of a sense of conscience warning you not to disbelieve in God is pretty weak evidence that it’s okay to disbelieve in God.

    You’ve heard of consciences being seared, right?

  15. Tom,

    I ask, can our actions as individuals be distinguished from the process that’s creating our descendants?

    That’s a very serious and important question. Once you’ve worked on it enough to have an answer, then consider the fact that the same process that’s creating our descendants (including our actions as individuals) is the same process that created us.

    They can not only be distinguished, they are even necessarily different. “Evolution” is not even *defined* for individuals, individuals don´t “evolve”, populations do. Your wife birthing your children is not “evolution” – what would be “evolution” is the change in allele frequencies in the entire human population over time.
    But setting that technicality aside, I´ll just grant you for the sake of the argument that we were created by God. Do you now still believe that our actions as individuals cannot be distinguished from God creating us from clay and ribs? I presume you do not, and if you indeed don´t, I´d recommend to reflect a little more about the differences between “process that created x” and “x itself” (Given what you say further below, it seems to me that you indeed do understand this, but try to introduce a distinction between natural and divine processes that to me seems rather arbitrary).

    In reality there is only one process. Evolution is all that got us here, according to the naturalistic story. All. As in, there is no other process that explains who we are.

    So…..? That seems to be a rather trivial statement, and it still doesn´t lead to the conclusion that our actions are therefore identical to the process that created us.

    The only problem with saying it’s an “evolutionary strategy when we eat and breathe” is that it’s too anthropomorphic. Evolution doesn’t have strategies.

    Yes. And atoms do not have “orbitals”, genes are never “selfish”, inflation doesn´t “eat up our profits”, proteins do not “want” to reach a local energy minimum when they fold, genes don´t literally “code” for proteins, heat doesn´t “flow”, and so on and so forth etc.pp.
    All metaphors are inaccurate or even positively misleading in at least some senses (else they wouldn´t *be* metaphors) , but many are useful for teaching and understanding unintuitive aspects of reality.

    It doesn’t reason strategically any more than it reasons ethically.

    It indeed does not. But we do – and that is not a contradiction because, yet again, we are not identical to the process that made us.

    I think you’re sky-hooking ethical reasoning into the conversation. Do you see how that’s the case?

    Not at all. You seem to be introducing the assumption that x can´t engage in ethical reasoning if x was created by y and y cannot engage in ethical reasoning.
    Or, more generally, that object O cannot have attribute A if it was created by process P that doesn´t have attribute A – and that assumption, at least in its general form, is simply false.
    Example: H2O at room temperatures has the attribute of being “fluid”, yet it can be created by a process that is neither “fluid” itself nor works with components that are “fluid”.

    The analogy doesn’t hold. Theistic creation can separate process from outcome, agent from product, and agent from agent.

    ??
    So this claim:
    “The process that creates x is not identical to x.”
    would be generally false, but it would for some reason become true if the process involves God? Lets just say that I find that claim to be generally true, and even if it would be generally false (I have no idea how you would even try to demonstrate that…) I would find your exception to be completely arbitrary.

    For evolution, it’s all process. There is no “outcome,” and strictly speaking there is no agency except in terms of natural law operating on natural conditions.

    So water cannot be the “outcome” of the Knallgas reaction process because chemistry has no agency? Seriously? Well, water unambiguously exists after the Knallgas reaction, and if you don´t want to call that an “outcome” because it didn´t involve agency, then you are using a *highly* idiosyncratic notion of what “outcome” means.

  16. Tom,

    BillT was drawing a conclusion that he doesn’t believe, because the conclusion was drawn from premises he was trying to disprove. (It’s a form of reductio ad absurdum.)

    So no, he doesn’t think our nature is fictional, and you rushed rather rapidly to ridicule him for something he obviously wasn’t saying.

    Only he very much did say exactly that because his reductio makes literally no sense what-so-ever without the assumption that our natures are fictional. He said:
    “if “moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals” describes moral reasoning then moral reasoning is a fiction.”
    Now, pray tell, how could you possibly say that it would follow that moral reasoning is fiction IF moral reasoning is based in our nature if you did NOT believe that our nature is fictional?

    And really, now, please. Just moments after accusing him of bare assertion you write,

    It is also a self-refuting assertion given your worldview because you *categorically* state that our nature cannot lead to moral agency, but then that would be still true if our nature would be the result of divine creation, so, you cannot consistently believe that humans are moral agents! In other words, it strongly appears that you did not think this through.

    No argument. No nothing. Bare assertion.

    Is the meaning of the word “categorically” clear to you? It means:
    “without exceptions or conditions; absolute; unqualified and unconditional”
    BillT made the statement that our nature cannot lead to moral agency, period, full stop – no qualifications, no exceptions. A “categorical” statement. And if this statement is categorically true, then it logically is true completely independent of whether theism is true or false of if [insert ANY conceivable condition here] is true or false.

    Please.

    It strongly appears that you did not think this through.

    But the main thing is this: be on guard against committing errors in reasoning that you’ve just accused others of committing. It doesn’t play well here.

    You took the words out of my mouth.

  17. Irenicus, no:

    “if “moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals” describes moral reasoning then moral reasoning is a fiction.”

    The “fiction” to which you refer is not an assumption but a conclusion based on naturalistic premises to which he does not adhere. You got this (strictly speaking) as wrong as you could have gotten it. An assumption is not a conclusion.

    BillT made the statement that our nature cannot lead to moral agency, period, full stop – no qualifications, no exceptions. A “categorical” statement. And if this statement is categorically true, then it logically is true completely independent of whether theism is true or false of if [insert ANY conceivable condition here] is true or false.

    No. He spoke it in a context, and you’re denying that context exists.

    What do you think, BillT? Time to call it a day? Someone who can’t tell an assumption from a conclusion, or who thinks he can pull a quote out of context and make that no-context quote be the basis for discussion, may not be someone who is going to be willing to learn from this process.

  18. Good read! Check this line, though:

    “So with that, here are three things atheism can teach us about ethics.”

    Change three to six.

  19. Tom,

    The “fiction” to which you refer is not an assumption but a conclusion based on naturalistic premises to which he does not adhere. You got this (strictly speaking) as wrong as you could have gotten it. An assumption is not a conclusion.

    I have to repeat my question:
    Pray tell, how could you possibly arrive at BillT´s “conclusion”:
    “if “moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals” describes moral reasoning then moral reasoning is a fiction.”
    – without believing that our nature is fictional?
    Hint: you cannot. His conclusion doesn´t follow from any “naturalistic premises” it follows, and ONLY follows, from the premise that our natures are indeed fictional.

    No. He spoke it in a context, and you’re denying that context exists.

    You have pulled this accusation out of your nether regions. I´m not denying any context, BillT made that statement and there is nothing in the context what-so-ever that would add any qualifications to that statement.

    What do you think, BillT? Time to call it a day? Someone who can’t tell an assumption from a conclusion, or who thinks he can pull a quote out of context and make that no-context quote be the basis for discussion, may not be someone who is going to be willing to learn from this process.

    Oh my! It appears that I interrupted your back-patting session with BillT – mea maxima culpa. You guys get right to it and I´ll go to a less circle-jerkish place.

  20. Irenicus, just because you don’t see how someone can reach the conclusion they’ve reached, doesn’t mean that their conclusion is therefore an assumption.

    I’m done with this conversation. It’s going nowhere.

  21. Irenicus,

    Allow me to start from the beginning with an explanation that covers both aspects of this discussion We both acknowledge that we have a “conscience”. We have this conscience from one of two possible sources. It was either developed through evolution or it was received from God. What are the ramifications of these two possible alternatives.

    If it is part of our evolutionary development then it is something we developed to help us procreate more successfully. That’s the basic understanding and purpose of all evolutionary developments. If the only thing this conscience is is a procreation tool then why should it bind me or anyone else to obey it’s strictures.

    Let’s look at other quote obvious evolutionary developments and see whether were bound by them in any way. Let’s take a look at numero uno, sex drive. Am I obligated to act on my sex drive. Do I owe a duty to someone to act on my sex drive. Can I choose to ignore it. Am I a bad person if I so choose. No, No, Yes, No. How about our instincts as social creatures. Am I obligated to act on my social nature. Do I owe a duty to someone to act on my social nature. Can I choose to ignore it. Am I a bad person if I so choose. No, No, Yes, No.

    So how about our conscience or the morality it creates. If it’s something we developed to aid in successful procreation am I bound by that. Am I obligated to act on my conscience. Do I owe a duty to someone to act on my conscience. Can I choose to ignore it. Am I a bad person if I so choose. No, No, Yes, No. That conscience, under evolution, is just a way to better reproduce and I don’t have to care about that if I don’t want to. And if I don’t that’s ok because evolutionary reproductive strategies aren’t binding on me or anyone else.

    However, if we are part of God’s creation then that changes whether we do owe a duty to follow our conscience. If we are part of God’s creation and “made in his image” then we are intrinsically valuable in a was that no creature who is just evolved under metaphysical naturalism. As part of God’s creation we are all linked together metaphysically, spiritually in a deeply human way. We are cut from the same cloth, part of the same fabric. As part of God’s creation we owe duties, have obligations and responsibilities to everyone as we are all part of that same creation and all equally valuable.

    Metaphysical naturalism just creates a series of better evolved creatures. They have no real link except their shared evolved existence. It’s just survival of the fittest and whoever can take best advantage of that gets to pass their genes along. Duty, obligation. Meh, not really important in the whole reproductive advantage world unless it helps you pass your genes along and even there you really don’t have to care about that if you don’t want to.

  22. And just by the way Irenicus, haven’t you misquoted me above (#16) .

    I said and you quoted “if “moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals” describes moral reasoning then moral reasoning is a fiction.” Then you said ” BillT made the statement that our nature cannot lead to moral agency, period, full stop.” You left out the “as social animals”. In other words, if all we are is social animals then moral reasoning based on that is a fiction. Why? Because our status as simply social animals doesn’t create the duties and obligations that true moral reasoning requires.

  23. Tom,

    Irenicus, just because you don’t see how someone can reach the conclusion they’ve reached, doesn’t mean that their conclusion is therefore an assumption.

    Not what I said. I said that his conclusion does not follow and logically *cannot* follow unless you actually do assume that human nature is fictional – and despite my repeated queries as to how you could think of *any* way as to how this conclusion could follow without assuming that human nature is fictional, you could not do so.

    I’m done with this conversation. It’s going nowhere.

    That is fine by me, I find the topics we talked about very interesting but I absolutely agree that the two of us are apparently unable to make any progress at all in discussing them.

  24. BillT,

    We both acknowledge that we have a “conscience”.

    Indeed we do. And this will become important later.

    If it is part of our evolutionary development then it is something we developed to help us procreate more successfully. That’s the basic understanding and purpose of all evolutionary developments.

    No. This is wrong on multiple levels. First it is wrong because not all evolutionary change is adaptive, and in species with low effective population sizes (that is essentially every multicellular species except for some marine invertebrates), evolutionary changes that are neutral, nearly neutral, or even noticeably detrimental, do happen. Example: color blindness is a noticeably detrimental trait, but its effect is too small for natural selection to act against it (as a color blind person myself, I do notice some impediments in everyday life, but it has an overall negligible influence on the reproductive success of people like me).
    It is also wrong because you are assigning an element of purpose to evolution that the process does not have. You have the cause-effect relationship exactly backwards. It is not the case that evolution had a goal to produce social creatures like us and that this goal caused changes promoting social behaviour to happen and to spread among our ancestors. It is rather the case that changes promoting and impeding social behaviour both happened, but only the former were selected for because they worked better in comparison.
    So evolution did not give us anything to “help us”, we just are the way we are because the changes that led to us were comparatively successful – not because there was a plan all along to eventually produce something like us.

    If the only thing this conscience is is a procreation tool then why should it bind me or anyone else to obey it’s strictures.

    I already extensively addressed this in an earlier comment. The question “why should it bind me” makes no sense whatsoever – it does bind you because it is part of your nature and this is so completely independent of your opinion of it. Your question makes just as much sense as asking “why should I continue breathing just because I have a breathing reflex?” – the question is moot, because you will keep breathing anyway, completely independent of whether you want to or not, it is just the way you are (if you have outstanding willpower, you could hold your breath until you faint, but then your autonomous nervous system would take over and you would keep breathing while being unconscious).
    You can´t grow wings by wanting to fly like a bird and for the exact same reason, you can´t turn your conscience off by wanting to no longer be bound by it.
    Furthermore, your question amounts to special pleading as I already pointed out. I grant you for the sake of the argument that your God is real and your Bible is true, and I further grant you that I can indeed choose to no longer be bound by my conscience – so congratulations, now I can choose to believe that you morality is true, yet still not be bound by it in any way because I turned my conscience off on a whim.

    Let’s look at other quote obvious evolutionary developments and see whether were bound by them in any way. Let’s take a look at numero uno, sex drive. Am I obligated to act on my sex drive. Do I owe a duty to someone to act on my sex drive. Can I choose to ignore it. Am I a bad person if I so choose. No, No, Yes, No.

    I don´t see any relevance here. But I´d add a fifth question: “Can I choose to no longer have a sex drive because I don´t want to have one? No.”

    How about our instincts as social creatures. Am I obligated to act on my social nature. Do I owe a duty to someone to act on my social nature. Can I choose to ignore it. Am I a bad person if I so choose. No, No, Yes, No.

    You have hidden premises here that I would all deny.
    You say you wouldn´t be “obligated” to act on your nature – but that would only make sense if you indeed had no conscience, if you do have one, it would constrain your actions, compel you to do certain things and refrain from others (and that is what “obligation” means by the way). So I´d reject your first answer because you have not established that you indeed would have no conscience if theism would be false.
    You say that you wouldn´t owe any “duties” to anyone. A “duty” means “something that one is expected or required to do by moral or legal obligation” – and as long as you do have a moral instinct and a conscience, a conscience that requires you to do some things and refrain from others, you consequently also have moral “duties”.
    You say that you could “choose to ignore it”. I will believe that you indeed could do that as soon as you *successfully* choose to “turn off” a part of your human nature by willing it – like becoming blind just by willing to no longer have eyesight.
    You say you wouldn´t be a bad person if you chose to ignore it. That is downright weird because it amounts to saying “If I choose to do what my moral faculties tell me would be a bad thing, it wouldn´t be bad to do it anyway.” In other words, this answer is based on the assumption that your moral faculties are 0% reliable – if they tell you you shouldn´t do x, this is *never* correct under all circumstances and not even approximately, so you can always do what your moral reasoning tells you is “bad” without this *actually being* bad. You did not try to establish that assumption and I doubt that you could if you wanted to.

    So how about our conscience or the morality it creates. If it’s something we developed to aid in successful procreation…

    It´s not, see above.

    However, if we are part of God’s creation then that changes whether we do owe a duty to follow our conscience.

    If you have a conscience, then it would constrain your actions either way – completely independent of how it was made, if it wouldn´t, it could not be called a “conscience” in the first place!
    And if you are right and I can just turn my conscience off on a whim, then what you say here is even more irrelevant because then I could just turn my God-given conscience off and say “bye bye duties!”.

    If we are part of God’s creation and “made in his image” then we are intrinsically valuable in a was that no creature who is just evolved under metaphysical naturalism.

    Here you are implicitly asking me to accept theistic accounts of what “value” is, ontologically – so that “value” cannot exist if God doesn´t exist. I´m not going to grant you that and will point out that it would be an understatement to call this a “minority position” among contemporary moral philosophers.
    Btw, I didn´t introduce the concept of metaphysical naturalism and I neither subscribe to it, nor am I interested in defending it – if it makes you happy, I can just grant you that naturalism is false, doesn´t affect my position here in any way.

    They have no real link except their shared evolved existence.

    Yup, no link at all except for having a shared human nature, with a shared capacity of experiencing pleasure and pain, of having hopes and fears, of having a conscience, a sense of fairness, justice, empathy and a will to live. Well, actually, that “link” that I just mentioned is the only one that matters to me while I honestly could not care less about whether or not all, some or none of us were made by the same deity.
    To illustrate this, lets assume for the sake of the argument that I am wrong, and we were indeed created by God, but not all of us as people like William Campbell argued:
    “William Campbell, under the pen name “Caucasian”, wrote in Anthropology for the People: A Refutation of the Theory of the Adamic Origin of All Races that the nonwhite peoples were not descendants of Adam and therefore “not brothers in any proper sense of the term, but inferior creations”” (note, I am not saying that this is a reasonable interpretation of Christianity, I´m just using it to illustrate something)
    – if this would be true, then I would not value you (I´m just assuming you are white) any more, and I wouldn´t value a black or chinese person any less, because, for the reasons mentioned above, I couldn´t care any less if all, some or none of us were made by the same God, the only thing that I do care about (from a moral perspective) is what we actually *are* now, not how we got to be that way.

    And just by the way Irenicus, haven’t you misquoted me above (#16) .

    I said and you quoted “if “moral reasoning is based on our nature as social animals” describes moral reasoning then moral reasoning is a fiction.” Then you said ” BillT made the statement that our nature cannot lead to moral agency, period, full stop.” You left out the “as social animals”. In other words, if all we are is social animals then moral reasoning based on that is a fiction. Why? Because our status as simply social animals doesn’t create the duties and obligations that true moral reasoning requires.

    If our moral reasoning is based in our human nature, and our human nature is not fictional, then our moral reasoning logically cannot be fictional because it is reasoning based on something that objectively exists independent of whether anyone imagines it. You might subjectively dislike it if our nature would not be the product of divine creation, but your dislike doesn´t turn something that objectively exists into something that is fictional.

  25. The Non-Theists haven’t shown, by argument, a coherent metaphysical chain of continuity by which Reason herself – given Non-Theism’s elementary properties of reality — perhaps his infamous “singular and seamless continuum of particle (or whatever) in motion” (Debilis) in which all cutting points are necessarily arbitrary rather than ontological — cannot reasonably disagree with him and simply shift his transitory norm’s slice to some other foci, all a matter of definition rather than of ultimate explanatory terminus in one’s own metaphysics.

    Similarly, the Non-Theists have not shown that, should Reason do so (cut that chain somewhere else (preference)) she would factually be (given Non-Theism’s constitutional structure of reality) un-reasonable. Indeed, Reason herself in Naturalism hears only the sound of her own voice such that there is no paradigmatic contour of love’s categorical full stop by which Reason may be found, should she contradict said contours, to factually contradict the elementary properties of The- Real and thereby be, factually, un-reasonable. On Theism alone is it the case that Hume was in fact wrong about Reason vis-à-vis such a peculiar categorical imperative:

    Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. ‘Tis not contrary to reason for me to choose my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. ‘Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than for the latter.” (Treatise of Human Nature 2.3.3.6).

    The intellectual honesty of Hume on the obligation of reason as truth-finder to nothing in particular is refreshing — as no moral fact can stand, exist, in and by the mutable and contingent effervescence of “psychic phosphorescence”.

    If said effervescence is good then said effervescence is good. The question-begging move of trying to wrench out “this slice” of said effervescence but not this “other slice” of said effervescence is, well, question-begging, and, simply, dishonest.

    Or ignorant.

    Nothing in Non-Theism’s paradigmatic shape finds reason as truth-finder discovering a path which can be, factually, actually, irreducibly, *un*-reasonable.

    Until the Non-Theist can give his ontologically irreducible logical proof of Hume’s error, well, nothing more needs to be said.

    Straw men about reward and punishment within the contours of love also fail to merit a response. Love’s fruition within the corridors of Self/Other finds her true felicity, her final good, there in the ceaseless begetting of love’s unicity amid the singular Us. That such constitutes the irreducibly triune is unavoidable.

  26. In case the link in the last paragraph is off, there is this:

    Straw men about reward and punishment within the contours of love also fail to merit a response. Love’s fruition within the corridors of Self/Other finds her true felicity, her final good, there in the ceaseless begetting of love’s unicity amid the singular Us. That such constitutes the irreducibly triune is unavoidable.

  27. I’m hearing about problems with comment posting and editing. I just turned off one of the cache settings. It might solve the problem. Please let me know.

  28. scbrownlhrm,

    The Non-Theists haven’t shown, by argument, a coherent metaphysical chain of continuity by which Reason herself – given Non-Theism’s elementary properties of reality — perhaps his infamous “singular and seamless continuum of particle (or whatever) in motion” (Debilis) in which all cutting points are necessarily arbitrary rather than ontological — cannot reasonably disagree with him and simply shift his transitory norm’s slice to some other foci, all a matter of definition rather than of ultimate explanatory terminus in one’s own metaphysics.

    Wow. “Elementary properties” that are “cutting points” (what are they “cutting”? Cheese?), and those “cutting points” are “necessary arbitrary rather than ontological”.

    …no moral fact can stand, exist, in and by the mutable and contingent effervescence of “psychic phosphorescence”

    Oh…. your….. God. So we have phosphorescence (seriously, did you even try to look up what this word means?) that is “psychic”(!!!) and that has an effervescence (phosphorescence with effervescence, awesome, kind of like radioactivity that is sleepy or superconductivity that is nervous). And this effervescence is both contingent (because effervescence totally could be necessary rather than contingent, good that you made this clear!) and mutable (because effervescence could be immutable after all!).

    No offense but it appears that you combine pretentiousness with a lack of education – and that results in embarrassments like your mess of a comment here. You are contrasting “arbitrary” to “ontological”, which makes literally no semantic sense whatsoever. I strongly suspect that you meant “ontic” instead of “ontological” (the former means “that which is real, that what factually exists”, while the latter means “related to ontology” or “related to being / existence”). But for neither “ontic” nor “ontological” would it make sense to set up a contrast to “arbitrary”, because x being “arbitrary” is perfectly compatible with x being “ontic” or “ontological”. The concepts do not contradict each other in any way at all, so saying that something is “arbitrary rather than ontological” is like saying that something is “grey rather than being a laptop”.
    Maybe this semantic mess makes at least a modicum of sense in your mind, but no one can parse this – try to express what you want to say with simpler words, words that you yourself actually understand.

  29. Irenicus,

    The ad hominem attacks aside, you’ve not shown where Hume is in (ontological) error.

    Hume’s honesty on the interface of reason with the (ontological) absence of moral facts is refreshing.

    Also:

    The universe is a universe of nonsense, but since you are here, grab what you can. Unfortunately, however, there is, on these terms, so very little left to grab — only the coarsest sensual pleasures. You can’t except in the lowest animal sense, be in love with a girl if you know (and keep on remembering) that all the beauties both of her person and of her character are a momentary and accidental pattern produced by the collision of atoms, and that your own response to them is only a sort of psychic phosphorescence arising from the behavior of your genes. You can’t go on getting any very serious pleasure from music if you know and remember that its air of significance is pure illusion, that you like it only because your nervous system is irrationally conditioned to like it. You may still, in the lowest sense, have a “good time”; but just in so far as it becomes very good, just in so far as it ever threatens to push you on from cold sensuality into real warmth and enthusiasm and joy, so afar you will be forced to feel the hopeless disharmony between your own emotions and the universe in which you really live. (C.S. Lewis)

    As noted, if you can’t give us an irreducible ontology by which Hume is in error, it’s not obvious at all that you’ve anything really to say. Because facts matter and fictions don’t.

  30. Psychic Phosphorescence:

    The question-begging move of trying to wrench out “this slice” of said effervescence but not this “other slice” of said effervescence is, well, question-begging, and, simply, dishonest. Else — teleology emerges. Which becomes, for the Non-Theist, quite painful.

    Whereas, the A to Z of the Christian paradigm begins and ends in love’s fruition within the corridors of Self/Other wherein love finds her true felicity, her final good, there in the ceaseless begetting of love’s unicity amid the singular Us. That such constitutes the irreducibly triune is, simply, unavoidable.

  31. From “Present Concerns” by C.S. Lewis:

    “Let us suppose that nothing ever has existed or ever will exist except this meaningless play of atoms in space and time: that by a series of hundredth chances it has (regrettably) produced things like ourselves— conscious beings who now know that their own consciousness is an accidental result of the whole meaningless process and is therefore itself meaningless, though to us (alas!) it feels significant. In this situation there are, I think, three things one might do:

    [1] You might commit suicide. Nature which has (blindly, accidentally) given me for my torment this consciousness which demands meaning and value in a universe that offers neither, has luckily also given me the means of getting rid of it. I return the unwelcome gift. I will be fooled no longer.

    [2] You might decide simply to have as good a time as possible. The universe is a universe of nonsense, but since you are here, grab what you can. Unfortunately, however, there is, on these terms, so very little left to grab — only the coarsest sensual pleasures. You can’t, except in the lowest animal sense, be in love with a girl if you know (and keep on remembering) that all the beauties both of her person and of her character are a momentary and accidental pattern produced by the collision of atoms, and that your own response to them is only a sort of psychic phosphorescence arising from the behavior of your genes. You can’t go on getting any very serious pleasure from music if you know and remember that its air of significance is a pure illusion, that you like it only because your nervous system is irrationally conditioned to like it. You may still, in the lowest sense, have a “good time” – but just in so far as it becomes very good, just in so far as it ever threatens to push you on from cold sensuality into real warmth and enthusiasm and joy, so far you will be forced to feel the hopeless disharmony between your own emotions and the universe in which you really live.

    [3] You may defy the universe. You may say, “Let it be irrational, I am not. Let it be merciless, I will have mercy. By whatever curious chance it has produced me, now that I am here I will live according to human values. I know the universe will win in the end, but what is that to me? I will go down fighting. Amid all this wastefulness I will persevere; amid all this competition, I will make sacrifices. Be damned to the universe!”

    I suppose that most of us, in fact, while we remain materialists, adopt a more or less uneasy alternation between the second and the third attitude. And although the third is incomparably the better (it is, for instance, much more likely to “preserve civilization”), both really shipwreck on the same rock. That rock— the disharmony between our own hearts and Nature— is obvious in the second. The third seems to avoid the rock by accepting disharmony from the outset and defying it. But it will not really work. In it, you hold up our own human standards against the idiocy of the universe. That is, we talk as if our own standards were something outside the universe which can be contrasted with it; as if we could judge the universe by some standard borrowed from another source.

    But if (as we were supposing) Nature— the space-time-matter system— is the only thing in existence, then of course there can be no other source for our standards. They must, like everything else, be the unintended and meaningless outcome of blind forces. Far from being a light from beyond Nature whereby Nature can be judged, they are only the way in which anthropoids of our species feel when the atoms under own skulls get into certain states— those states being produced by causes quite irrational, unhuman, and non-moral. Thus the very ground on which we defy Nature crumbles under our feet. The standard we are applying is tainted at the source. If our standards are derived from this meaningless universe they must be as meaningless as it.

    For most modern people, I think, thoughts of this kind have to be gone through before the opposite view can get a fair hearing. All Naturalism leads us to this in the end— to a quite final and hopeless discord between what our minds claim to be and what they really must be if Naturalism is true. They claim to be spirit; that is, to be reason, perceiving universal intellectual principles and universal moral laws and possessing free will. But if Naturalism is true they must in reality be merely arrangements of atoms in skulls, coming about by irrational causation. We never think a thought because it is true, only because blind Nature forces us to think it. We never do an act because it is right, only because blind Nature forces us to do it. It is when one has faced this preposterous conclusion that one is at last ready to listen to the voice that whispers: “But suppose we really are spirits? Suppose we are not the offspring of Nature…..?”

    For, really, the naturalistic conclusion is unbelievable. For one thing, it is only through trusting our own minds that we have come to know Nature herself. If Nature when fully known seems to teach us (that is, if the sciences teach us) that our own minds are chance arrangements of atoms, then there must have been some mistake; for if that were so, then the sciences themselves would be chance arrangements of atoms and we should have no reason for believing in them. There is only one way to avoid this deadlock. We must go back to a much earlier view. We must simply accept it that we are spirits, free and rational beings, at present inhabiting an irrational universe, and must draw the conclusion that we are not derived from it. We are strangers here. We come from somewhere else. Nature is not the only thing that exists……..”

  32. I already extensively addressed this in an earlier comment. The question “why should it bind me” makes no sense whatsoever – it does bind you because it is part of your nature and this is so completely independent of your opinion of it.

    Irenicus,

    No, it’s doesn’t. Do you not have free will? The idea that you have pangs of conscience doesn’t bind you in any way to act on those. You still must make a moral choice. You still must decide whether your pangs of conscience matter to you. If those pangs are just an evolutionary development (no matter whether is positive or neutral or negative procreationally) then on what basis are you bound to act. The answer is none. “They’re part of my nature”? Who cares. You may well act on them but you don’t have any reason not to act on them either.

    Even if I believe that my conscience is God given I still have to make a moral choice. I still have to decide whether I care to act on it. However, in the context of the knowledge of my place in God’s creation and with my acceptance of the intrinsic value of each and every person on earth and the duty I owe and the responsibility I have to honor my place in that creation I have a real reason to act in accordance with it. I still have a choice but I also have a reason that truly matters. (And in full disclosure, even with all that I often times don’t act in accordance with it.)

  33. scbrownlhrm,
    I see that you are one of those people that do not understand what “ad hominem” even means, but like to accuse others of it anyway. An ad hominem attack is directed at a person instead of an argument that the person introduced, and this personal attack is then fallaciously presented as a rebuttal of the argument. Example:
    1. You are stupid and you smell bad, therefore, your argument is invalid.
    2. Your comment is full of completely nonsensical sentence constructs like [insert demonstrations here] and overall, more gibberish than anything else – there is no discernible argument or coherent thought in the word salad you typed down, organize your thoughts and try again.
    #1 is an ad hominem attack. #2 is not.
    And my comment at you falls in the latter category, not the former.

    I also see that instead of trying to drop the pretentious act and try to write up something intelligible, you are rather continuing your “WOW, that word looks super-complicated, everyone will think that I´m ever so smart when I randomly string it together with other words that I don´t understand but that look super-duper complicated to me” schtick and spice it up with accusations of dishonesty:

    Psychic Phosphorescence:

    The question-begging move of trying to wrench out “this slice” of said effervescence but not this “other slice” of said effervescence is, well, question-begging, and, simply, dishonest. Else — teleology emerges. Which becomes, for the Non-Theist, quite painful.

    Whereas, the A to Z of the Christian paradigm begins and ends in love’s fruition within the corridors of Self/Other wherein love finds her true felicity, her final good, there in the ceaseless begetting of love’s unicity amid the singular Us. That such constitutes the irreducibly triune is, simply, unavoidable.

    It appears that you veraciously believe that your assiduous and orotund assembly of random sesquipedalian fragments into vaguely
    sentence-like construct results in pulchritudinous, chrysostomatic and coruscating comments. However, you fail niggardly because verbosity and pretentiousness are antipodal to clarity of thought and expression. And thus, even an eleemosary discernment of your comments finds a lacuna of insight. For the rare occasion where they are intelligible at all, they are also nugatory, while the remainder is inchoate, shambolic, vapid, jejune, soporific and sometimes downright risible. Don´t confuse this reply with animadversion, I´m only pointing out that you are
    out of your métier.

  34. BillT,

    No, it’s doesn’t. Do you not have free will? The idea that you have pangs of conscience doesn’t bind you in any way to act on those. You still must make a moral choice. You still must decide whether your pangs of conscience matter to you.

    Before we delve into the issue of free will, I first have to point out here that if you believe this to be true, you cannot simultaneously believe that we are “bound” towards any morality in any meaningful way – if you say that you could, by an act of will, do everything that your moral faculties tell you to be abhorrent, then you are not “bound” to any morality in any way. Given your worldview, you might say that you will be ultimately *punished* for the things you have done, but you cannot say that your morals “bind” you in any way.
    Regarding free will – even philosophers that defend libertarian free will (I find libertarian free will to be logically incoherent but I also reject compatibilism and the no free will position, I am mostly in agreement with Bob Doyle´s view on free will) do not argue that you are free to do *everything* that you would be physically able to do – if you want to defend such an extreme position, you will have a very hard time.

    If those pangs are just an evolutionary development (no matter whether is positive or neutral or negative procreationally) then on what basis are you bound to act.

    Well, I´ve addressed this several times now, and I have no idea how to make it any clearer – my response still is that your question is moot because it is based on a false premise, and that even if it wouldn´t be based on a false premise, it would still amount to special pleading because if I could indeed just turn off the conscience that binds my actions on a whim, then I´m not “bound” in this respect period, whether your God exists or not.

  35. Irenicus:

    [1] I took your comment that I am employing my lack of education as ad hominem. You *did* say “you….” and “…lack…”. You also linked the word “you” to “pretentious” and that too qualifies as ad hominem. In other words, the referent was me. However, on your advice I’ll look up ad hominem and see just how that unpacks. It doesn’t look good for you on that point, however, given your chosen referent.

    [2] As per comment #37 and “Present Concerns” by C.S. Lewis it is apparent, even to teens in youth groups, what constitutes “psychic phosphorescence”. I’m surprised that tripped you up. But, once you get a handle on that quote by Lewis (Present Concerns / #37) then we arrive at this move by you: You seem to want to take “parts” of that, a few feelings over here, and call them “good”, but leave other “parts” of that, a few feelings over there, and call them “bad”. Now, that is begging the question. Also, it forces you to appeal to teleology, which becomes apparent as we move further into any argument which claims that “this part” is “good” and “this part” is “bad”.

    [3] Hume looks at reason functioning as our truth-finder and ties it to a lack of moral facts such that there is no such thing as a morally unreasonable goal:

    Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. ‘Tis not contrary to reason for me to choose my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. ‘Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than for the latter.” (Treatise of Human Nature 2.3.3.6).

    You’ve not shown anything here which proves him wrong. That is to say, you’ve not shown us moral facts to which reason, chasing this or that goal, can (by chasing something un-true) become *un*reasonable. So far, on your terms, there is no morally unreasonable act.

    [4] You repeat the error of [3] here with Bill T in your comment #40. We are discussing that to which Reason is bound as truth-finder. “Goals” come in too. You’ve not shown that there is any morally unreasonable act nor any morally unreasonable goal which reason can chase after. You seem to equivocate between (on the one hand) reason being obligated to find truth, and chase after truth rather than some other goal and hence doing otherwise with (on the other hand) being either unfree to do otherwise or else based somehow in a motivation of reward or punishment somehow. But none of that has anything to do with morality nor with the Christian basis of morality.

  36. Irenicus,

    “……if you say that you could, by an act of will, do everything that your moral faculties tell you to be abhorrent, then you are not “bound” to any morality in any way….

    If I do something I find or count as bad or abhorrent, then I am not morally bound? Well, if by abhorrent you mean amoral, then yes.

    You are conflating “bound” in a [physical/conditioned reflex/full stop] sense with “bound” in a [moral facts/reasoning/truth finding] sense.

    On your terms though you have to do that because the latter does not exist in your paradigm — as per Hume.

    You’re also expunging the entire landscape of love from your definition, or at least leaving it all out so far.

    People hurt the ones they love. Often. And by choice. They could have done otherwise.

    Do you deny this?

    Please, no hedges.

    And yet love’s interior is constituted of Self/Other is it not? And love’s fruition sums in begetting Unicity does not it? And unicity begotten (which is love’s fruition) constitutes the singularity of Us does it not? Perfect reciprocity. The volitional motions of the will and of love in those three termini all seem unaccounted for in your criteria and terms.

    In fact, but for love’s triune geography in all of that — whence any moral claim whatsoever?

  37. Irenicus,

    if you believe this to be true, you cannot simultaneously believe that we are “bound” towards any morality in any meaningful way –

    Did you not read my previous post where I said:

    Even if I believe that my conscience is God given I still have to make a moral choice. I still have to decide whether I care to act on it.

    The question isn’t whether your “conscience” exists. The question is whether it’s grounded in something that’s real. Something that matters. Something that makes it acting or not acting on it truly meaningful. If it’s an evolutionary development, then on what basis does it matter. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist but that it doesn’t really matter that it does.

    This is an idea that’s well represented in the atheist community. The noted philosopher and atheist Michael Ruse says:

    Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will …In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding… Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position.(Emphasis added)

    For those that believe that our “conscience” is merely part of our evolutionary development it is, to use Ruse’s words, illusory (my “fiction”). This stands in stark contrast to the understanding that this is God given as I explained above and in the second paragraph of #38.

  38. It appears that Irenicus may be moving towards a fallacious “As If” where moral truth is concerned. The link might help etc……. FWIW. Its *briefly* touched on in #41, part [4].

    scb,

    Good link, specifically:

    The trouble, from the A-T point of view, is in interpreting evolution and human nature within a naturalist metaphysical framework. For given such a framework, there can be no irreducible teleology in nature, and therefore (as I argued in my opening post) there can be at most only “as if” teleology (as opposed to either “intrinsic” or “derived” teleology). And if it is only “as if” teleology exists (if I can channel Alicia Silverstone in Clueless), then it can be only “as if” natural goodness exists, and thus only “as if” morality exists. Morality can in this case be at most a useful fiction.

  39. BillT,

    The question isn’t whether your “conscience” exists. The question is whether it’s grounded in something that’s real. [1] Something that matters. Something that makes it acting or not acting on it truly meaningful. [2] If it’s an evolutionary development, then on what basis does it matter. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist but that it doesn’t really matter that it does. [3]

    1. It is grounded in something that is real because humans are real, see my previous comments.
    2. What is “truly meaningful” as opposed to “meaningful” supposed to mean?
    3. Your assumption here seems to be something like:
    a) Something “matters” if and only if God exists and it matters to him.
    b) X is an evolutionary development that no planned for.
    c) Ergo, X “doesn´t really matter”.
    I see no grounds to accept this reasoning because the premise a) seems arbitrary to me.

    The noted philosopher and atheist Michael Ruse says:

    And how does any of that quote contradict the reasoning in my earlier comments? Ruse says “It is without external grounding… Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference.” – and I completely agree with the “external grounding” part, as I already said, I don´t believe that our moral faculties are grounded in anything outside of our own (objectively existing) nature. And I disagree with him about the “illusory” part because it seems to me that this is not an “illusion” but rather cultural conditioning – it never occured to me that my moral faculties are based on anything that transcends my own nature because I never was a theist, for someone who was raised to have theistic beliefs and became an atheist later, that would likely have been different. But that latter case wouldn´t amount to an “illusion” but rather to a specific cultural conditioning that the person rejected later in his life.

  40. scbrownlhrm,

    I took your comment that I am employing my lack of education as ad hominem. You *did* say “you….” and “…lack…”. You also linked the word “you” to “pretentious” and that too qualifies as ad hominem. In other words, the referent was me. However, on your advice I’ll look up ad hominem and see just how that unpacks. It doesn’t look good for you on that point, however, given your chosen referent.

    Yes, you do indeed lack an education, you have never learned what “ad hominem” means for example. And you are also unteachable, because I already explained to you what your misconception here is – you think that “ad hominem” is a pretentious way to say “you said something about me as a person and it hurt my feelings!!11!”. It is not, and I explained to you what it actually does mean. But without any effect whatsoever because you still have the exact same misconception about what “ad hominem” means as you had before.

    [2] As per comment #37 and “Present Concerns” by C.S. Lewis it is apparent, even to teens in youth groups, what constitutes “psychic phosphorescence”. I’m surprised that tripped you up.

    So Lewis used an incredibly clumsy metaphor seventy years ago, and you think that magically establishes the metaphor as an English idiom so that you can rip it out of its context and assume the meaning must be clear to your interlocutor? This is exactly as stupid as me responding to you with:
    “With regards to your comment, scbrownlhrm, Shaka, when the walls fell.” That sentence would be intelligible to you if you would be a huge Star Trek nerd and remember the TNG episode “Darmok” verbatim. And me assuming that all English speaking people have seen and remember every Star Trek episode and thus understand every Star Trek reference, no matter how obscure, is downright moronic. Exactly as moronic, as you believing that because you´ve read some text with an incredibly clumsy metaphor by CS Lewis means the entire world must have read it.

    I see that you are able to write some intelligible sentences as you do in #41, but you almost immediately regress into typing verbose and unbelievably pretentious word salad just a few minutes later in #43:

    Do you deny this?

    Please, no hedges.

    And yet love’s interior is constituted of Self/Other is it not?[1] And love’s fruition sums in begetting Unicity does not it?[2] And unicity begotten (which is love’s fruition) constitutes the singularity of Us does it not?[3] Perfect reciprocity. The volitional motions of the will and of love in those three termini all seem unaccounted for in your criteria and terms.[4]

    In fact, but for love’s triune geography in all of that — whence any moral claim whatsoever?[5]

    1. Good question! That of course depends on the surface-area-to-volume ratio of love is smaller than five. So if the geometry of love is spherical, then yes, but if it is cubic or tetrahedral, then no.
    2. No. The limit as N approaches infinity for the partial sums of love´s fruition converges to the square root of pi.
    3. That depends on whether spacetime is quantized or continuous and on whether love is menopausal or still fertile.
    4. I disagree because (cα ⋅ p + Βmc^2) ψ equals iℏ δψ/δt, or does it not?
    5. If love´s geometry would be triune, then it´s surface-area-to-volume ratio would be 7.21 in three dimensions, but since that is greater than five, it would make love sterile, so I´m afraid that you need to go back to the drawing board.

  41. Irenicus, your extensive vocabulary is duly noted, though the website from which I suspect you lifted some of this should have explained to you what “pulchritude” really means. I suppose it might have some secondary or metaphorical application in this context.

    There was animadversion there, and also in your dismissal of other scbrownlhrm’s use of ad hominem in its common informal usage, which is not, I assure you indicative of his not knowing what it means in its original formal sense. I’ve interacted with him long enough to know that he is decidedly not “stupid,” as you put it. He used the term in a secondary, informal application in this context.

    (He is often verbose, and his writing tends to be rather opaque. Several of us have noted that with him already. To conclude that he is therefore of a risible or wicked character, as you seem to have done, would be going far, far, far, far beyond what that evidence indicates, and would contradict considerable other evidence he’s given us about himself. Do you believe in following evidence?)

    Your interactions lately here have not exactly moved debate forward in directions conducive to thinking, which means they haven’t really been the kind of thing this blog is for. I suggest you re-think your approach.

  42. Tom,

    Irenicus, your extensive vocabulary is duly noted, though the website from which I suspect you lifted some of this should have explained to you what “pulchritude” really means. I suppose it might have some secondary or metaphorical application in this context.

    pulchritude, noun, (formal or literary) physical beauty.
    Examples:
    “The manager intimated that what I lacked in voice I made up in pulchritude, though I recall he referred to it as “shape.”
    My Actor-Husband
    Anonymous
    “She thrust it out and strove to find encouragement in its pulchritude.”
    The Californians
    Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
    “Whoever would have thought that a funny-sounding word like pulchritude would mean something beautiful?”

    It is uncommon (relatively, because using the word itself is incredibly uncommon in contemporary English) but not incorrect to apply it to written words – it would be incorrect to apply it to something non-physical, like your character or actions.

    There was animadversion there, and also in your dismissal of other scbrownlhrm’s use of ad hominem in its common informal usage, which is not, I assure you indicative of his not knowing what it means in its original formal sense.

    It is not a “common *informal* usage”. The “informal” usage would be “appealing to one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s intellect or reason” as opposed to the more formal “attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument”. The way scbrownlhrm used the term wasn´t informal, it was simply wrong. And that he repeated the exact same misconception even after being informed of what the term actually means is to me very much indicative of him not knowing what it means.

    He is often verbose, and his writing tends to be rather opaque. Several of us have noted that with him already. To conclude that he is therefore of a risible or wicked character, as you seem to have done, would be going far, far, far, far beyond what that evidence indicates, and would contradict considerable other evidence he’s given us about himself. Do you believe in following evidence?

    Indeed I do. And what I see is that scbrownlhrm is in principle able to write intelligible English sentences (as he did for example in #41 right after I mocked him for being incredibly pretentious), but deliberately chooses not to do that because he virtually immediately regressed to writing the same verbose and pretentious word salad that he started with. Is that behaviour “wicked”? Not necessarily – although it would be considered to be trolling by many because he evidently does it on purpose and not because he is just inable to express his thoughts in a coherent and intelligible way. Is that behaviour “risible”? It absolutely is.

    That is just my opinion of course but if you disagree, I would very much like to see you translating this:
    “And yet love’s interior is constituted of Self/Other is it not? And love’s fruition sums in begetting Unicity does not it? And unicity begotten (which is love’s fruition) constitutes the singularity of Us does it not? Perfect reciprocity. The volitional motions of the will and of love in those three termini all seem unaccounted for in your criteria and terms.
    In fact, but for love’s triune geography in all of that — whence any moral claim whatsoever?”
    or this:
    “Straw men about reward and punishment within the contours of love also fail to merit a response. Love’s fruition within the corridors of Self/Other finds her true felicity, her final good, there in the ceaseless begetting of love’s unicity amid the singular Us. That such constitutes the irreducibly triune is unavoidable.”
    or this:
    “Psychic Phosphorescence:
    The question-begging move of trying to wrench out “this slice” of said effervescence but not this “other slice” of said effervescence is, well, question-begging, and, simply, dishonest. Else — teleology emerges. Which becomes, for the Non-Theist, quite painful.”
    – into English. If his writings are indeed just “opaque” rather than being pretentious gibberish, that should be no problem.

    Your interactions lately here have not exactly moved debate forward in directions conducive to thinking, which means they haven’t really been the kind of thing this blog is for.

    From my vantage point, my responses to BillT have been thoughtful and cordial. My responses to scbrownlhrm were indeed derogatory but if you think that was uncalled for and demonstrates me passing up an opportunity to engage with productive comments that were conducive to thinking, could you then please point out how exactly this:
    “And yet love’s interior is constituted of Self/Other is it not? And love’s fruition sums in begetting Unicity does not it? And unicity begotten (which is love’s fruition) constitutes the singularity of Us does it not? Perfect reciprocity. The volitional motions of the will and of love in those three termini all seem unaccounted for in your criteria and terms.”
    – “moved the debate forward” and was “conducive to thinking”? Or even just make out a single coherent idea in that word salad?

  43. Irenicus, now that you’ve copied the definition of pulchritude into a comment here, do you not see that what you’ve done with it is the same thing scbrownlhrm did with “ad hominem”? You both used words according to meanings not in the dictionary. But you rapped us with your bare assertion that it’s not incorrect to apply “pulchritude” to words.

    As to the informal use of “ad hominem,” you’re just wrong. All you have to do is listen to enough TV debates to know that people use “ad hominem” that way.

    I have told scbrownlhrm more than once in the past that his writing style doesn’t help. (Right, scbrownlhrm?) I will say it again. That sentence of his was unintelligible.

    What it wasn’t, however, was a derisive attack on someone else’s character here. Yours was. Stop it if you want to stick around.

  44. Tom,

    You both used words according to meanings not in the dictionary.

    No, we did not. Because I used the actual dictionary definition. Some dictionaries say that it is used especially for people´s (or just women´s) physical beauty (e.g. the Cambridge dictionary) but no one says that it can´t be used for other things and the very first dictionary reference that you find when you Google that word is one that gives specific examples for the word being applied to something other than people:
    “She thrust it out and strove to find encouragement in its pulchritude.”
    You can use it for everything that can be perceived as being physically beautiful (it would be absolutely in line with the dictionary definition to for example to say that you find this: https://upload.wikimedia.org/math/f/8/9/f897005615c391e14cd50112cda44665.png “pulchritudinous”), it is only wrong to use it for something that cannot be perceived as being physically beautiful, like a someone´s character or conduct.

    As to the informal use of “ad hominem,” you’re just wrong. All you have to do is listen to enough TV debates to know that people use “ad hominem” that way.

    Then you presumably also believe that using “literally” as a synonym for “figuratively” is absolutely correct because many people use it that way. I´d rather call it a common misconception.

    What it wasn’t, however, was a derisive attack on someone else’s character here.

    How about that one:
    “If said effervescence is good then said effervescence is good. The question-begging move of trying to wrench out “this slice” of said effervescence but not this “other slice” of said effervescence is, well, question-begging, and, simply, *dishonest*.

    Or *ignorant*.” [emphasis added, note that this was scbrownlhrm´s very first comment]

  45. The coach is standing on the sideline screaming at the referee.

    The referee decides there’s a time to quit explaining and to say instead, let’s get back to the game. And play it the way it’s meant to be played.

    I’m not sure you’re a “coach.” Otherwise the analogy applies.

  46. Reason is obligated as truth-finder to find truth — period — and thereby finds no such thing as a morally *un*reasonable goal/want. Morals devoid of reason is “an” option. Reason devoid of moral facts to find is the “valid” option. The Self is the end of the line as far as any valid moral metric is concerned. Human Nature is all there is, and, therein, Hume got it right.

    It’s not clear that anyone here actually disagrees with Hume. As such, it’s not clear that anything stated so far provides reason as truth-finder with any possibility of the morally *un*reasonable goal/want. So long as it’s a feeling, so long as it’s a want, it’s morally reasonable. As per Hume.

    On Theism alone is it the case that Hume was, when it comes to such a necessary categorical imperative, in fact wrong about Reason:

    The question, though, is whether someone who rejects an imperative like Pursue Happiness, or any other purportedly categorical imperative – and continues to reject it no matter how hard we try to talk him out of doing so — really is, necessarily being irrational.

    From the A-T point of view, the answer is: “Yes, he is per se irrational.” But from the Humean point of view, the answer is: “No, he’s not necessarily irrational; he’s just different from most other people, that’s all.” As Hume famously wrote:

    “’Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. ‘Tis not contrary to reason for me to chuse my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. ‘Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than for the latter.” (Treatise of Human Nature 2.3.3.6)

    Now, if, contra the Aristotelian, there were no such thing as irreducible teleology immanent to the natural order, then it is hard to see how Hume’s position could be avoided. For in that case nothing would be inherently for anything, would not be of its nature directed toward any particular end. Thus practical reason would not be inherently directed toward the good, so that there would nothing per se contrary to reason in refusing to choose the good. And of course, as I have already argued, nothing would in that case really be good in the first place. It would only be “as if” there were goodness. And since as a matter of statistical fact most people tend to want to pursue their happiness and tend to agree at least in a very general way about what is good and bad, it would be “as if” their practical reason were directed at the good. Hence it would be “as if” there were such a thing as morality. But there wouldn’t really be morality, and if everyone knew that it was merely “as if” there were morality – that morality was at best a useful fiction – then even the pretense of morality couldn’t long survive.

    On the other hand, if the Aristotelian is right to hold that natural substances, powers, and processes are inherently directed toward certain ends, and in particular that practical reason is inherently or of its nature directed toward the pursuit of the good, then there would be something contrary to reason in choosing against the good, and thus (given that happiness in the sense of eudaimonia is constitutive of the good for us) something contrary to reason in choosing against one’s own happiness. For the Humean, someone who really at the end of the day doesn’t want the good or his own happiness is just statistically unusual, but that’s all. For the Aristotelian, by contrast, such a person is necessarily irrational. And to the extent his irrational desires are so deep-seated that he doesn’t even feel the attraction of the good or of happiness, he is as objectively disordered or defective an instance of the kind rational animal as a dog with three legs is a disordered or defective instance of its kind, or a tree with sickly, weak roots is a disordered and defective instance of its kind, or an eye covered over with cataracts is a defective or disordered instance of its kind.”

  47. Irenicus,

    Though you chose to leave it unanswered, this question does seem of some importance:

    People hurt the ones they love. Often. And by choice. They could have done otherwise. Often placing “Self” above “Other” for trivial, even nonsensical reasons and goals and wants. In the full light of day too we do this – having the insight to know the damage about to ensue on some other life. When we can do otherwise.

    Do you deny this?

    Please, no hedges.

    Can do otherwise means Can do otherwise at the proverbial “Y” in the road.

    The “Y” being, of course, the good of (or want/feeling/etc.) the Self (on the one hand) and the good of (or want/feeling/etc.) the Other (on the other hand). Ideally we want both, as both have immutable worth, but of course the problem of privation necessarily excludes the ideal.

  48. and I completely agree with the “external grounding” part, as I already said, I don´t believe that our moral faculties are grounded in anything outside of our own (objectively existing) nature. And I disagree with him about the “illusory” part because it seems to me that this is not an “illusion” but rather cultural conditioning –

    Irenicus,

    So, then you really don’t agree with Ruse at all. Because , for Ruse (and I) it follows logically and inevitably that without “external grounding” that morality is an illusion whether it’s based on cultural conditioning, evolution or anything else that isn’t God.

    a) Something “matters” if and only if God exists and it matters to him.
    b) X is an evolutionary development that no planned for.
    c) Ergo, X “doesn´t really matter”.
    I see no grounds to accept this reasoning because the premise a) seems arbitrary to me.

    And I’ve explained, multiple times, that if we are part of the same creation we have real duties, obligations and responsibilities to all other people that are also part of that creation. However, if we are not so connected this leaves us with nothing but an illusion of morality as Ruse explained. That you continue to ignore this, also multiple times, and continue to ignore the obvious difference between those two realities (which Ruse clearly sees) doesn’t make it arbitrary or count as an argument to the contrary.

    it never occured to me that my moral faculties are based on anything that transcends my own nature

    Obviously.

  49. The Non-Theist (often, not always) seems to want to take “parts” of his singular ocean of elementary footing beneath all of reality such as, say, the quantum vacuum which is a “sea of energy that underlies all of physical reality” or such as, say, the Non-Theist’s infamous “singular and seamless continuum of particle (or whatever) in motion” (Debilis), and call “some of it” over here “morally good” and call “some of it” over there “morally bad”. He seems to want to take a few irrationally conditioned wants/feelings over here, and call them “good”, but leave other “parts” of it, a few irrationally conditioned wants/feelings over there, and call them “bad”.

    Technically, “irrational” infers “bad reasoning” which is not precise since one needs reason before one can have “bad reasoning”. Better for evolution’s mechanism is something like “non-rational”. Well, the point seems obvious. It can be clarified further should one struggle with its veracity.

    That is, simply, begging the question. Also, it forces him to appeal to teleology, which becomes apparent as we move further into any argument which claims that “this part” is “good” and “this part” is “bad”. Teleology becomes, for the Non-Theist, quite painful as we force his hand there in those question begging claims. If what C.S. Lewis described as “Psychic Phosphorescence” is the product of evolutionary morality, then irrationally conditioned feelings/wants define the good. The question-begging move of trying to wrench out “this slice” or “this part” of said “psychic effervescence” (irrationally conditioned feelings/wants) but not this “other slice”, not this “other part” of said “psychic effervescence” is one of the following:

    [1] Begging the question while well aware that one is doing so, which is dishonest. Or, perhaps, one is merely in a rush and put down something quick and incomplete.

    [2] Begging the question and unaware that one is doing so, which is simply a fruit of ignorance (not stupidity).

    [3] Begging the question while believing one is actually making a solvent proposition, which is a potentially coherent move should one (successfully) add something to it which (successfully) carries it through.

    But that extra “something added” is the very thing this entire discussion is about.

    So far, it’s missing.

  50. BillT,

    So, then you really don’t agree with Ruse at all.

    I wouldn´t say not “at all”.

    Because , for Ruse (and I) it follows logically and inevitably that without “external grounding” that morality is an illusion whether it’s based on cultural conditioning, evolution or anything else that isn’t God.

    Here I´m almost certain that you are misreading Ruse. He said:
    “Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. ”
    – So he didn´t say that Ethics is illusory, period, he said that it is illusory *inasmuch* “as it persuades us that it has an objective reference”.
    But I´m not interested in debating what exactly Ruse did or did not mean to say here – if he meant to say that our moral faculties are not grounded in something external to ourselves, then I fully and 100% agree with him about that. If he meant to say that our moral faculties are not grounded in something at all, then I 100% disagree with him on that for the reasons I spelled out in detail above.

    And I’ve explained, multiple times, that if we are part of the same creation we have real duties, obligations and responsibilities to all other people that are also part of that creation.

    You have indeed asserted that but I have seen no argument from you that tries to establish that it is indeed true. As long as you have no argument for that, I can only refer you again to my comment #29 where I explain why this – whether all, some or none of us were created by the same God – is utterly irrelevant for me.

    However, if we are not so connected this leaves us with nothing but an illusion of morality as Ruse explained.

    I don´t think he meant to say that, see above, and even if he did mean to say that, he would be wrong – because the only morally relevant thing that “connects” us is what we actually ARE, what our natures are and what we have in common, not how we got to be that way (again, see #29 and earlier comments). From a moral perspective, I honestly couldn´t care any less whether or not you and I were created by the same God, it would have literally (yes, literally) nothing to do with how I would value you as a fellow human being.

    That you continue to ignore this, also multiple times,

    Not only did I address this multiple times, I even addressed it *before* you brought this up, again, see #29 and earlier comments.

    and continue to ignore the obvious difference between those two realities (which Ruse clearly sees)

    It might be “obvious” to you, but as long as you cannot argue for this, this is just an intuition you have. Wrt what “Ruse clearly sees” – again, I think you are misreading him and even if he would “clearly see that” – show me an *argument* from him that proves me wrong.

  51. scbrownlhrm

    On Theism alone is it the case that Hume was, when it comes to such a necessary categorical imperative, in fact wrong about Reason

    Nope. Feser actually didn´t do anything to show that Hume would be wrong about the role of reason wrt our passions. Even if we´d grant Feser that Aristotelianism is true, his conclusion:
    “For the Aristotelian, by contrast, such a person is necessarily irrational. And to the extent his irrational desires are so deep-seated that he doesn’t even feel the attraction of the good or of happiness, he is as objectively disordered or defective an instance of the kind rational animal as a dog with three legs is a disordered or defective instance of its kind, or a tree with sickly, weak roots is a disordered and defective instance of its kind, or an eye covered over with cataracts is a defective or disordered instance of its kind.”
    – would only be 50% correct.
    Yes, that hypothetical person would be “disordered or defective”, but no, that person would not be “irrational”. “Irrational” would indicate a failure based on reason and / or logic, but the hypothetical person here did not fail in applying reason and / or logic, because his disordered attractions are not the product of applying reason and / or logic, just like the three-legged dog didn´t lose his leg because he failed in applying reason and / or logic.
    Feser would only be correct if Aristotelianism is true AND it would be further true that mental disorders / defects are, unlike physical disorders / defects, always a willed decision, the product of a conscious reasoning process. In other words, Feser´s position requires that a person like, say, John Wayne Gacy was not mentally “disordered / defective” due to accident or disease (like the three-legged dog), but that Gacy rather reasoned about what kind of person he wanted to be like, reached the conclusion that the personality of an insane serial killer would be the best choice, and then willed himself into aquiring the necessary mental disorders for that.
    But since that is patently false (or are you actually willing to try to defend that position?), Feser is wrong, and Hume is right – even if we´d grant that Aristotelianism is true.

    I´m not going to address what you wrote after that in #57 because it is the kind of comment that you have been kindly asked to stop writing and because I cannot address it without making fun of the writing style you yet again chose to adopt.

  52. Irenicus,

    [1] In #57, do mean to say that defining question begging and defining methods of intention in which question begging is found employed is improper?

    It was speaking of “….Non-Theists (often, not always)…”, not you, and raised the issue of question begging.

    So there is this:

    You are begging the question through and through.

    I left the 3rd option wide open for you to fulfill.

    If you can.

    BTW: You can’t.

    BTW: There is no promise to avoid addressing logical fallacies nor the reasons for which we employ logical fallacies. They show up all the time — as in your responses here.

    I’m asking, not telling:

    Are you aware that you are begging the question?

    Are you unaware?

    Were you just in a rush?

    Do you have that extra something to add by which to push it through to coherence?

    [2] You seem to be saying that (if God exists) a Man’s reason, that a Man’s Truth-Finder, cannot be defective unless he is aware that it is defective.

    If that is what you are implying, you clearly missed the goal posts. Or you’re changing the goal posts.

    This is about moral facts and reason’s obligation (as truth-finder) to find truth (to find moral facts if they exist). This is not about intellectual culpability.

    They’re not the same you know.

    If I have defective eyes…seeing shadows…. what? Light and clarity can’t exist?

    Seriously?

    “Can’t be broken unless aware it is broken” makes no logical sense. Secondly, it fails to cohere with reality. Thirdly, you need to re-read Feser. Fourthly, if you want to see how far afield you are then read Parsons input as well in response/dialogue in the various links to one another’s essays.

  53. Irenicus,

    Note under [2] this: “….If that is what you are implying…….”

    Note the “if”.

  54. Irenicus,

    Let’s try this:

    Whatever goal and want I have is morally reasonable to pursue — regardless of what that goal or want is — because my own nature is the end of the line when choosing/deciding what goals and wants are worthy of attention. There is no such thing as a morally *un*reasonable goal.

    As per Hume.

    You’ve not shown him to be wrong.

    Further, if there are moral facts (light) and one’s reason as truth-finder, which is obligated to find truth (moral facts), reasons and in reasoning concludes that (insert horrible x) is morally good, then on point of fact one is *un*reasonable per se (morally speaking). Whereas, if no moral facts exist, then it is factually the case that there is no such thing as a morally unreasonable goal/want for one’s truth-finder finds in one’s own wants/goals the stuff of “moral truth”.

    This is why going with one’s wants/goals makes the point of Hume/Feser, whereas you seem to think one must make oneself into something that one is not (based on your reply — *if* I read you right), which misses the point.

    Is forced insemination morally reasonable? Well, Hume on Human Nature and Passions informs us:

    One’s nature is the end of the line — so all that is required is that one asks one’s Self if one wants said goal. If yes — then it’s morally reasonable. If one dislikes it, then its morally unreasonable.

  55. scbrownlhrm,

    1. You spend 143 words claiming that I am begging the question. But you don´t bother to even just say which question I am allegedly begging. So your charge here is completely vacuous.

    2. You say:
    “You seem to be saying that (if God exists) a Man’s reason, that a Man’s Truth-Finder, cannot be defective unless he is aware that it is defective.”
    – No. That is not what I “seem to be saying” at all. Try quoting my actual words.

    3. No, I do not need to re-read Feser. I´ve read what he said about this matter and I explained why he is wrong and Hume is right.

    4. You say:
    “As per Hume.
    You’ve not shown him to be wrong.”
    – No, I indeed didn´t. And I have no intentions to do it, because Hume is right on that matter. And you also evidently do not understand what it even IS that Hume pointed out – what Hume says there neither explicitly nor implicitly denies the existence of moral facts, it doesn´t even have anything to do with moral facts and would be true if there are moral facts and just as true if there were no moral facts

  56. Irenicus,

    Let’s make it easy then:

    You’ve not yet shown the following to be wrong:

    Whatever goal and want I have is morally reasonable to pursue — regardless of what that goal or want is — because my own nature is the end of the line when choosing/deciding what goals and wants are worthy of attention. There is no such thing as a morally *un*reasonable goal.

    This is why going with one’s wants/goals makes the point (Human Nature – Full Stop).

    Going against our own natures, wants, and goals *is* morally *un*reasonable because our wants — out nature in fact defines morality on Non-Theism.

    Going against our nature is *in*human and *un*reasonable.

    Is beating women morally reasonable? Well let’s see:

    One’s nature is the end of the line — so all that is required is that one asks one’s Self if one wants said goal. Or some other goal. Perhaps to avoid pain or prison? Well, if, after reasoning it all through, one reasons to the decision that in fact, yes, one wants to beat women — then it’s morally reasonable. If one dislikes it, then its morally unreasonable.

    —————————–

    Nothing you’ve presented has allowed Non-Theism to climb any higher than that ceiling.

    —————————–

    Question begging:

    I don´t see the cognitive faculties relevant for moral reasoning as problematic for my worldview at all. We are social creatures with a conscience and a sense of justice, fairness and empathy – and those attributes are also present in lesser degrees in our close relatives in the animal world (you can, for example, demonstrate that Chimpanzees have a sense of fairness comparable to that of human children). Cooperation is in many situations the best evolutionary strategy, so I don´t find it surprising that we evolved to become social creatures.

    And all the “bad” wants, feelings, goals, acts, passions, and inclinations which evolutionary morality invented, built up, refined, retained, and over eons deeply embedded them in our neurological constitution because they *work*?

    Are they “Good” as well?

    [A] Yes

    [B] No

    “A” is not question begging.

    “B” is begging the question.

  57. Animals are conscious and emotive” may impress some Non-Theists and some Christians unfamiliar with science or scripture. However, Scripture affirms that, like Man, animals too lack peace and in fact states that things with teeth and things without teeth will one day lie down together – in peace. Such is, well, old news but emotions of peace, fear, and wanting such, and consciousness, and so on, well, it’s all right there in black and white. A little context on A-T’s approach is in Feser’s Animales Are Conscious. In Other News The Sky is Blue essay which opens with this:

    A prominent group of scientists signs a document stating that animals are just as “conscious and aware” as humans are. This is a big deal.” Actually, it is not a big deal, nor in any way news, and the really interesting thing about this story is how completely uninteresting it is. Animals are conscious? Anyone who has ever owned a pet, or been to the zoo, or indeed just knows what an animal *is*, knows that.

  58. scbrownlhrm,

    You’ve not yet shown the following to be wrong:
    Whatever goal and want I have is morally reasonable to pursue

    Not what Hume pointed out. Not even similar to what Hume pointed out. What Hume did point out was that there are cases where you cannot use reason to decide what your goals ARE – and he is right about that, and he is right about that if there are moral facts and still just as right about that if there are no moral facts.

    Going against our own natures, wants, and goals *is* morally *un*reasonable because our wants — out nature in fact defines morality on Non-Theism.

    That is 50% true and 50% false. What is true is that our nature indeed defines what is morally right. What is false is that everything we want to do is therefore morally correct – it is not. If your nature is defective (what someone like Feser would prefer to call “disordered”) through accident or disease (e.g. frontal lobe disorders), then these defects prevent you from pursuing what you would pursue if your nature would not have been damaged through accident or disease. And note that even under theism, it still fallacious to say that a person with a disordered mind unreasonably / irrationally chose to have that disordered mind because that person did NOT choose to have this mind anymore than a person who lost a leg in an accident chose to loose his leg. And that´s why Feser is wrong here and Hume is right, and why Feser still would be wrong and Hume right even if Aristotelianism is true.

    Question begging:

    I don´t see the cognitive faculties relevant for moral reasoning as problematic for my worldview at all. We are social creatures with a conscience and a sense of justice, fairness and empathy – and those attributes are also present in lesser degrees in our close relatives in the animal world (you can, for example, demonstrate that Chimpanzees have a sense of fairness comparable to that of human children). Cooperation is in many situations the best evolutionary strategy, so I don´t find it surprising that we evolved to become social creatures.

    And all the “bad” wants, feelings, goals, acts, passions, and inclinations which evolutionary morality invented, built up, refined, retained, and over eons deeply embedded them in our neurological constitution because they *work*?

    First of all, I will point out that nothing here involves “begging the question” – look up what the term means.
    Second, be *specific*.
    What exactly are those “”bad” wants, feelings, goals, acts, passions and inclinations” that a healthy person could pursue without experiencing a burden on his or her conscience (i.e. something I could do without experiencing a moral urge to refrain from it, without feeling bad and guilty if I did it, without either feeling a need to rationalize it away to ease my conscience or feeling a need to repent and make up for it) are you talking about here?

  59. Irenicus,

    [1] You’re pulling in on teleology with your 50/50 grab, which is why Feser got it right. Are you unaware that your metaphysical means cannot fund what you are borrowing?

    [2] You’re conflating [a] moral facts with [b] the ability to see them with [c] culpability. What a mess.

    [3] You have to ask about “what evil” because you’re mistaking the ability to see trees with the fact of the existence of real trees. This point again begs the question because you have to justify that the term “disorder” makes any sense given evolutionary means — you’re not justifying that move — you’re just asserting it. You’re just assuming it and building on top of it. What? Evolution has “goals” but it “got them wroing“?

    [4] Then you just assert that if one does not feel a certain way one is not “healthy”. Unabashed question begging. You have to justify that the term “healthy/unhealthy” makes any sense given evolutionary means — you’re not justifying that move — you’re just asserting it, you’re just assuming it and building on top of it.

    Total circular failure.

    Try again.

    And leave out your metaphysical borrowing from teleological nuances- – you don’t have the means to fund them — and leave out the conflations, question begging, and circularity.

    Let’s try this and just make it easy:

    Why is the irrationally conditioned Feeling X (conscience, hunger, itch, want, goal, whatever) healthy? Why is the irrationally conditioned Feeling M Unhealthy?

  60. Irenicus,

    This is not to *replace* the last part, but rather it is an *addition* to the last part:

    Why is the irrationally conditioned Feeling (Act, whatever) X (conscience, hunger, itch, want, goal, whatever) Morally Good? Why is the irrationally conditioned Feeling M Morally Evil?

  61. Post deleted by siteowner for being clearly and unequivocally in violation of the agreement commenters make when they participate in discussions here.

  62. Tom,

    Post deleted by siteowner for being clearly and unequivocally in violation of the agreement commenters make when they participate in discussions here.

    To call that “favouritism” would be a colossal understatement. You have apparently warned scbrownlhrm before that he should refrain from the pretentious word salad he likes to engage in but you are perfectly alright with him ignoring your request again and again – the most he can expect is a kind reminder that he should please refrain from doing it yet again, and even that only occasionally (e.g. #57 which he wrote after your last reminder).
    And condescending + derogatory comments are apparently perfectly acceptable to you as long as they come from one of your favourites so that scbrownlhrm can “make it easy” for me, call my writings a “mess”, “a total circular failure”, “conflations, question begging, and circularity”, but when I respond by pointing out that this alleged mess only exists in his confused mind, I get censored.
    Well, it´s your playground, but I´m not letting myself get bullied around by hypocrites, so I´ll leave this “thinking” place where people like scbrownlhrm “move the debate forward in directions conducive to thinking”.

  63. I have not removed anything you’ve written except that one comment, which I deleted only because of its scatological language. Read the discussion policy and get over it.

  64. In other words, you did not get censored for “pointing out that this alleged mess only exists in his confused mind.” I am perfectly happy for you to continue that kind of conversation here. You mentioned something else as the source of his confusion. I think you knew that was the problem, and I’m surprised you would try to convince me, or even to convince yourself, that it was something else.

  65. Irenicus,

    I called the conflations a mess (not you etc.). See the four items below on why it is *not* irrational or unreasonable for a 1st grader to fail a college exam (so to speak).

    By “make it easy” I meant only that in order to cut through all the possible what-ifs and just see if there can be Good/Evil right out of the gate (this is time consuming) we need to just get to “that” (hence the question).

    The task we need is for the claim “this feeling/act/part of my nature” is Good/Right/Healthy, and, then, this other part is Immoral/Wrong/Unhealthy to be, not laid out and built on top of, but to be ontologically justified.

    And note that even under theism, it still fallacious to say that a person with a disordered mind unreasonably / irrationally chose to have that disordered mind because that person did NOT choose to have this mind anymore than a person who lost a leg in an accident chose to loose his leg.

    Christianity does not say that reason is bad or got it wrong (is irrational) because one’s natural faculties are impaired or because one cannot see the factual world (the eyes of intact reason etc. / blurry vision).

    It’s not irrational or unreasonable for a 1st grader to fail a college exam.

    Four things will clarify that:

    Culpability.
    Sight.
    Facts for sight to see.
    Sight’s “proper function” is to “see and chase facts”.

    Those are four different things.

    That first grader’s reasoning **is** yet *un*-whole because “English 101” (or whatever) and so on actually, factually, exists.

    Correct?

    There is actually something out there that she is factually missing.

    Correct?

    There is actually a proper goal out there for her to “chase after” (in a manner of speaking etc.).

    Correct?

    With moral facts and reason as truth-finder it’s the same four concepts.

    The Non-Theist must turn those four concepts inward into the nature of man and justify distinctions which evolution has not made.

    We know evolution didn’t make them because of the “bad” / “evil” wants, feelings, goals, acts, passions, and inclinations which evolutionary morality invented, built up, refined, retained, and over eons deeply embedded them in our neurological constitution because they *work*.

    If evolution got it all “right” there would be “moral conflict”.

    Think about that and human nature.

    It *clearly* does not value what *we* value. Now that is an uncanny statement. Even a bizarre statement.

    Why?

    Because of the basic framework of this thread’s comment #37 and “Present Concerns by C.S. Lewis.

  66. Irenicus,

    Ran out of edit time:

    This:

    If evolution got it all “right” there would be “moral conflict”.

    Think about that and human nature.

    Should have been this:

    If evolution got it all “correct” then there could be no “moral conflict”.

    Think about that and what it says about human nature and evolution. People truly enjoy, want, chase after, things other people consider very immoral, and back the other way too.

    If I do Act X and feel bad about it, the presence of regret does not help the evolutionary moralist.

    Act A.
    Regret for A.

    They are both still irrationally conditioned reflexes and so one must still justify good/evil. And other people still disagree and even *feel* that the “regret” you feel is *immoral*.

    “100% of Humans feels happy about X.”

    Sam Harris tried that in part, and it fails. It’s his “The Moral Landscape”.

  67. Irenicus,

    I’ll give you the last word if you want to comment/clarify any points beyond this.

    New Atheist Sam Harris does a good job of getting to near a solid attempt at objective moral values. There are just enough points of incoherence that he fails but the overall “framework” is very informative.

    WLC looks at it in his essay, Navigating Sam Harris’ “The Moral Landscape” and also the transcript of their debate are helpful in unpacking some of the content here.

    As stated, the last word is yours ~~~

  68. I can only refer you again to my comment #29 where I explain why this – whether all, some or none of us were created by the same God – is utterly irrelevant for me.

    Irenicus,

    Yes, we get that it’s “utterly irrelevant for you (me)”. That, however, doesn’t mean it’s utterly irrelevant. That you continue to refuse to acknowledge or even try to understand that a world with a creator God and a world without that God would necessarily create vastly different connectedness between it’s inhabitants is about as basic an understanding as one might have. And the fact that this connectedness between it’s inhabitants would necessarily create different relationships, duties, obligations and responsibilities between them is similarly easy to comprehend. I’ve posted this same explanation three of four times and your only response is you “have seen no argument from you that tries to establish that it is indeed true.” That this is the argument and and that you can’t see it as one is the problem.

    However, you are the one who said:

    it never occured to me that my moral faculties are based on anything that transcends my own nature

    And from that it pretty inevitably follows that it never occurred to you that any of your faculties are based on anything that transcends your own nature. Correct? Yet, thinkers all over the world, atheist, believing and otherwise have filled libraries with books pondering just this question that somehow “never occurred to you.”

  69. Irenicus,

    And just so the meaning of my last paragraph isn’t lost on you. The idea that the existence of God is central to the existence of morality in any sense at all is central to virtually any discussion of the matter. You came to this thread it having “never occurred” to you that this was even a subject to be discussed. Yet, you want us to accept your opinion on a subject you didn’t even know existed before you posted here and that on the basis that it is “utterly irrelevant” to you whether “some or none of us were created by the same God”.

  70. @Irenicus:

    “In other words, Feser´s position requires that a person like, say, John Wayne Gacy was not mentally “disordered / defective” due to accident or disease (like the three-legged dog), but that Gacy rather reasoned about what kind of person he wanted to be like, reached the conclusion that the personality of an insane serial killer would be the best choice, and then willed himself into aquiring the necessary mental disorders for that.”

    This is simply false, it neither requires nor implies such thing. “Irrational” is a defect in the Intelect, not a defect of the Will, which Feser, like any standard Scholastic is at pains to distinguish.

    If your account of irrationality were correct there would be preciously little of it going around, because *your* account — and I stress *your*, not Feser’s — requires conscious knowledge of the Good and yet turning away from it. It would depend on where you want to run with this and the details of human psychology, but since on AT account the will necessarily (not contingently but necessarily) is oriented towards the Good your scenario is even of dubious coherency.

  71. Tom,

    I have not removed anything you’ve written except that one comment, which I deleted only because of its scatological language.

    So this was all because of the word B#+!$-,t?? You could have just deleted the word instead of removing an *entire* comment… Ah well.

  72. G. Rodrigues,

    This is simply false, it neither requires nor implies such thing. “Irrational” is a defect in the Intelect, not a defect of the Will, which Feser, like any standard Scholastic is at pains to distinguish.

    I know. And it is precisely what I pointed out – a “defect in the intellect” is not the reason for why people have these mental disorders (or as I put it, they do not have these mental disorders because they made an irrational choice, they didn´t chose to have them at all – there was no “irrationality” involved in them aquiring those disorders), and that´s why Feser is wrong on this matter.

    If your account of irrationality were correct there would be preciously little of it going around, because *your* account — and I stress *your*, not Feser’s — requires conscious knowledge of the Good and yet turning away from it.

    There is no such thing as “my account” here, I talked about Feser´s account. Specifically about this:
    “For the Aristotelian, by contrast, such a person is necessarily irrational. And to the extent his irrational desires are so deep-seated that he doesn’t even feel the attraction of the good or of happiness, he is as objectively disordered or defective an instance of the kind rational animal as a dog with three legs is a disordered or defective instance of its kind…”
    And what I criticized there has nothing to do with having “conscious knowledge of the good and yet turning away from it”. What I rather pointed out is that the person Feser talks didn´t irrationally choose to have this disorders anymore than the three-legged dog chose to lose a leg. There was no choice, rational or irrational, involved at all in aquiring those disorders. And that´s why Feser is wrong and Hume right – this isn´t a matter of the intellect.

    It would depend on where you want to run with this and the details of human psychology, but since on AT account the will necessarily (not contingently but necessarily) is oriented towards the Good your scenario is even of dubious coherency.

    That is just incoherent if you combine it with Feser´s account. Feser specifically talks about:
    “…his irrational desires are so deep-seated that he doesn’t even feel the attraction of the good or of happiness, he is as objectively disordered or defective…”
    And if what you say – that the will is necessarily(!) oriented towards the good – then the kind of “defective” person that Feser talks about *cannot even exist in the first place*. You cannot say that a will is necessarily(!) oriented towards the good while the owner of said will simultaneously experiences NO attraction towards the good what-so-ever – if you did, the phrase “oriented towards” would become void of all meaning. It would be like saying that if you throw a knife into a furnace, the melted remains of the knife are “oriented towards” cutting.

  73. BillT,

    Yes, we get that it’s “utterly irrelevant for you (me)”. That, however, doesn’t mean it’s utterly irrelevant.

    Indeed it doesn´t. That you cannot argue for it to be so however very much supports it.

    That you continue to refuse to acknowledge or even try to understand that a world with a creator God and a world without that God would necessarily create vastly different connectedness between it’s inhabitants is about as basic an understanding as one might have.

    To call this uncharitable would be the understatement of the year and I´m not going to dignify it with a response beyond “I´ve addressed this extensively while you regurgitate the same preconceived ideas without addressing my points”.

    And the fact that this connectedness between it’s inhabitants would necessarily create different relationships, duties, obligations and responsibilities between them is similarly easy to comprehend. I’ve posted this same explanation three of four times

    This is not an “explanation”. This is an “assertion”. And I told you time and again why I reject your assertion, no matter how often you repeat it without any argument to support it.

    And from that it pretty inevitably follows that it never occurred to you that any of your faculties are based on anything that transcends your own nature. Correct? Yet, thinkers all over the world, atheist, believing and otherwise have filled libraries with books pondering just this question that somehow “never occurred to you.”

    I know. And what I meant by “never occured to me” was that, unlike Ruse apparently, I never experienced the alleged “illusion” that my nature is connected to something transcendent. I´m well aware of other people having different experiences.

    The idea that the existence of God is central to the existence of morality in any sense at all is central to virtually any discussion of the matter.

    Nope. “God” is a complete non-issue within vast amounts of contemporary moral philosophy. It is central to *you* and theists like you, extrapolating from that to say that it is central, period, even outside our parochial community, is completely irrational. It isn´t central for me, it isn´t even relevant for me, and unless you can present good *arguments* for it indeed being central, I have no intellectual obligation to even just consider it.

    You came to this thread it having “never occurred” to you that this was even a subject to be discussed.

    So you seriously read my comment to mean that I´m not aware that there are other people with moral views that intrinsically rely on theism? Seriously? Yet again, what I meant was that I disagree with Ruse about this being an “illusion” as if it would be natural to assume that your moral faculties or other aspects of your mind are somehow connected to something transcendent – I never assumed it to be so and to me it was rather always obvious that all my cognitive faculties are grounded within myself and only myself. I´m well aware that other people have different views and made different experiences.

  74. scbrownlhrm,
    I stopped reading your comments because talking to you about philosophy is like playing chess with a pigeon.

  75. @Irenicus:

    What I rather pointed out is that the person Feser talks didn´t irrationally choose to have this disorders anymore than the three-legged dog chose to lose a leg. There was no choice, rational or irrational, involved at all in aquiring those disorders.

    And what I pointed out is that “Irrational” is not connoted to the Will — as you keep repeating when you insert expressions like “irrationally choose to have this disorders” or “There was no choice” etc. — but to the Intellect. “Irrational” means “contrary to reason” as is readily apparent from reading say, Hume’s quote. It is contrary to reason, per se irrational, in the AT account, to choose the lesser good, even if the reasons for so preferring are deep-seated, the product of accident or disease or whatever.

    And that´s why Feser is wrong and Hume right – this isn´t a matter of the intellect.

    This is utterly baffling. First, of course it has to do with the intellect, as Hume himself says:

    Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. ‘Tis not contrary to reason for me to chuse my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. ‘Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than for the latter.
    — Treatise of Human Nature 2.3.3.6

    “Tis not contrary to reason”, or it is not irrational to etc. and etc. And then Feser, commenting on this:

    Now, if, contra the Aristotelian, there were no such thing as irreducible teleology immanent to the natural order, then it is hard to see how Hume’s position could be avoided.

    Which is after all *the point with the post*. Feser and Parsons agree on a broadly Aristotelean account of Morality. Feser’s argument against Parsons is that he cannot consistently do so because an Aristotelean account of Morality requires a “thick” Aristotelean metaphysics, namely, immanent teleology and essentialism. For if there is no immanent teleology, no objective goods, then Hume’s point comes roaring in. But there are no objective goods in Parson’s account, ergo Hume’s point comes roaring in.

    So pray tell, in what sense exactly is Feser wrong and Hume right? Because such conclusion does not follow from anything you have said.

    You cannot say that a will is necessarily(!) oriented towards the good while the owner of said will simultaneously experiences NO attraction towards the good what-so-ever – if you did, the phrase “oriented towards” would become void of all meaning. It would be like saying that if you throw a knife into a furnace, the melted remains of the knife are “oriented towards” cutting.

    Because Scholastics do not say that. At all. When they say that the Will is necessarily oriented towards the Good they mean that the Will, in choosing something, always and necessarily chooses under the aspect of the Good as the Intellect judges it.

  76. G. Rodrigues

    And what I pointed out is that “Irrational” is not connoted to the Will — as you keep repeating when you insert expressions like “irrationally choose to have this disorders” or “There was no choice” etc. — but to the Intellect. “Irrational” means “contrary to reason” as is readily apparent from reading say, Hume’s quote. It is contrary to reason, per se irrational, in the AT account, to choose the lesser good, even if the reasons for so preferring are deep-seated, the product of accident or disease or whatever.

    1. This is not about choosing the lesser good, it is rather about whether you *want* what is good in the first place. Example: it is not about whether you choose to help a neighbor in need because you think it is the right thing to do, it is rather about whether you desire to do what is “right” in the first place.
    2. Yes, “irrational” means “contrary to reason”. But “reason” is not involved here, you do not reason to choose whether you *want* to do what is right or not – either you do, or you do not – it is not something that reason decides. And *that* is what Hume pointed out, reason is not involved here.

    I can grant you that Aristotelianism is true and hence grant you that it is irrational to choose the lesser good, and Hume *still would be right* – because Hume didn´t talk about the actions you choose to do but rather about what you *desire* to happen, whether you do have a desire to do what is good for example or whether you do not have this desire, and reason is not involved in determining whether you do have that desire or not.

    “Tis not contrary to reason”, or it is not irrational to etc. and etc.

    And also not in accord with reason because it does *not involve reason*. Read *any* commentary on Hume´s moral philosophy, this is what he meant.

    Which is after all *the point with the post*. Feser and Parsons agree on a broadly Aristotelean account of Morality. Feser’s argument against Parsons is that he cannot consistently do so because an Aristotelean account of Morality requires a “thick” Aristotelean metaphysics, namely, immanent teleology and essentialism. For if there is no immanent teleology, no objective goods, then Hume’s point comes roaring in.

    Nope. Hume would rather be correct either way – you misunderstood what Hume pointed out, it´s truth is independent of whether there is such a thing as objective goods or not because it is only about whether you *desire* what is “good” and the exact ontology of what constitutes “goodness” is irrelevant for what he pointed out.

    Because Scholastics do not say that. At all. When they say that the Will is necessarily oriented towards the Good they mean that the Will, in choosing something, always and necessarily chooses under the aspect of the Good as the Intellect judges it.

    If they do say that, this would just be empirically false. All you need to do to show it to be false is to present one person who intellectually understands perfectly well that his actions were morally wrong, yet still experienced no desire whatsoever to refrain from doing them, i.e. whose will was not attracted towards the “good” in any way, shape or form and who thus easily could do things that he knew to be wrong because he had no desire to do what is good. For a person like that, you cannot say that their “will is necessarily(!) oriented towards to good” at all because their will is evidently utterly indifferent towards the good.
    See:
    “Psychopaths know right from wrong but don’t care”
    http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/5/1/59.full

  77. Irenicus @79:

    No, you’ve forgotten some of what you wrote there.

    Yes, I could have just removed that part. Or I could have done it the way I did.

    I chose the latter.

  78. Irenicus,

    G. Rodrigues is more in tune with the flow of the debate here than I am, but I’m wondering whether you’re mixing some categories. For example, you write

    2. Yes, “irrational” means “contrary to reason”. But “reason” is not involved here, you do not reason to choose whether you *want* to do what is right or not – either you do, or you do not – it is not something that reason decides. And *that* is what Hume pointed out, reason is not involved here.

    Whether one becomes irrational or not, in the sense you’ve indicated here, may or may not be a matter of cognitively considered decision-making. Nevertheless it involves the rational faculty because the effect of it is in fact a disordered intellect. Irrationality is irrationality regardless of its etiology.

    And you have misunderstood something badly here:

    If they do say that, this would just be empirically false. All you need to do to show it to be false is to present one person who intellectually understands perfectly well that his actions were morally wrong, yet still experienced no desire whatsoever to refrain from doing them, i.e. whose will was not attracted towards the “good” in any way, shape or form and who thus easily could do things that he knew to be wrong because he had no desire to do what is good. For a person like that, you cannot say that their “will is necessarily(!) oriented towards to good” at all because their will is evidently utterly indifferent towards the good.

    You missed G. Rodrigues’s words, ” the aspect of the Good as the Intellect judges it.” That’s a crucial phrase.

    The person who intentionally chooses wrong does so because of a disordered apprehension of what is good; that is, he sees the good of doing what is right but also sees a conflicting “good” that he chooses over the other good. The conflicting “good” is false, the product of the disordered intellect, but “as the Intellect judges it,” it is a good, so it is perceived and treated as if it were a good. And the person pursues it. This is what Aristotle was saying. And many others since him.

    The psychopath may recognize that there are moral goods yet find there are other (highly disordered) “goods” in his own (highly disordered) mind to pursue instead.

  79. Watch out for equivocation, by the way. I see a couple places above where you’ve treated “right” and “good” as interchangeable. For the fully knowledgeable and integrated intellect they would indeed be functionally interchangeable (though still not synonymous). For the rest of us, which is everyone, they’re not the same, because the topic is good “as the Intellect judges it.”

    Persons often choose good over right. That is, we choose false goods. We choose ice cream over being healthy because ice cream is “good,” or so it appears to our appetite, and our intellect takes the appetite to be telling the truth at the time.

    Be careful to keep the distinctions in mind. There is

    • What is right
    • What is good
    • What the Intellect judges to be good

    The three are not the same and should not be treated as if they were.

  80. Tom,

    Whether one becomes irrational or not, in the sense you’ve indicated here, may or may not be a matter of cognitively considered decision-making. Nevertheless it involves the rational faculty because the effect of it is in fact a disordered intellect. Irrationality is irrationality regardless of its etiology.

    No, “it” does not involve any rational faculty. That is precisely Hume´s point. But I´m not sure that you correctly understood what the “it” in this context here is.

    You missed G. Rodrigues’s words, ” the aspect of the Good as the Intellect judges it.” That’s a crucial phrase.

    The person who intentionally chooses wrong does so because of a disordered apprehension of what is good; that is, he sees the good of doing what is right but also sees a conflicting “good” that he chooses over the other good. The conflicting “good” is false, the product of the disordered intellect, but “as the Intellect judges it,” it is a good, so it is perceived and treated as if it were a good. And the person pursues it. This is what Aristotle was saying. And many others since him.

    I didn´t miss that. I explicitly addressed it. Saying “he sees the good of doing what is right but also sees a conflicting “good” that he chooses over the other good” is exactly the wrong description of a psychopath for example. They indeed do know what is right, but they do not CARE about what is right – they don´t see “doing right” as a “lesser good”, they don´t see it as a good *at all*. There is no tradeoff for them – they know right but they experience no moral urge to do “right” and refrain from “wrong”. And they didn´t become that way through any irrational choice or through any choice at all – they are broken, defective (or disordered if you prefer) and they didn´t chose it anymore than Feser´s three-legged dog chose to lose his leg.

  81. @Irenicus:

    I fear at this point we may be talking past each other. So allow me to backtrack a little, and quote from Feser’s linked post again (quote larger than usual to establish as much context as possible):

    Now I think this is correct as far as it goes. If someone is simply stubbornly determined to be irrational, we are not likely to reach him by appealing to reason. The question, though, is whether someone who rejects an imperative like Pursue happiness, or any other purportedly categorical imperative – and continues to reject it no matter how hard we try to talk him out of doing so — really is, necessarily being irrational.

    From the A-T point of view, the answer is: “Yes, he is per se irrational.” But from the Humean point of view, the answer is: “No, he’s not necessarily irrational; he’s just different from most other people, that’s all.” As Hume famously wrote:

    ‘Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. ‘Tis not contrary to reason for me to chuse my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. ‘Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than for the latter. (Treatise of Human Nature 2.3.3.6)

    Now, if, contra the Aristotelian, there were no such thing as irreducible teleology immanent to the natural order, then it is hard to see how Hume’s position could be avoided. For in that case nothing would be inherently for anything, would not be of its nature directed toward any particular end. Thus practical reason would not be inherently directed toward the good, so that there would nothing per se contrary to reason in refusing to choose the good. And of course, as I have already argued, nothing would in that case really be good in the first place. It would only be “as if” there were goodness. And since as a matter of statistical fact most people tend to want to pursue their happiness and tend to agree at least in a very general way about what is good and bad, it would be “as if” their practical reason were directed at the good. Hence it would be “as if” there were such a thing as morality. But there wouldn’t really be morality, and if everyone knew that it was merely “as if” there were morality – that morality was at best a useful fiction – then even the pretense of morality couldn’t long survive.

    On the other hand, if the Aristotelian is right to hold that natural substances, powers, and processes are inherently directed toward certain ends, and in particular that practical reason is inherently or of its nature directed toward the pursuit of the good, then there would be something contrary to reason in choosing against the good, and thus (given that happiness in the sense of eudaimonia is constitutive of the good for us) something contrary to reason in choosing against one’s own happiness. For the Humean, someone who really at the end of the day doesn’t want the good or his own happiness is just statistically unusual, but that’s all. For the Aristotelian, by contrast, such a person is necessarily irrational. And to the extent his irrational desires are so deep-seated that he doesn’t even feel the attraction of the good or of happiness, he is as objectively disordered or defective an instance of the kind rational animal as a dog with three legs is a disordered or defective instance of its kind, or a tree with sickly, weak roots is a disordered and defective instance of its kind, or an eye covered over with cataracts is a defective or disordered instance of its kind.

    So the argument against Parsons is that, while he agrees with a broadly Aristotelean account of morality he cannot consistently do so because he disagrees with the metaphysics and Aristotelean accounts of morality presuppoose Aristotelean metaphysics. In support of this point, Feser enjoins Hume as quoted above. Now pray tell, what exactly is your beef here?

    From this:

    I can grant you that Aristotelianism is true and hence grant you that it is irrational to choose the lesser good, and Hume *still would be right* – because Hume didn´t talk about the actions you choose to do but rather about what you *desire* to happen, whether you do have a desire to do what is good for example or whether you do not have this desire, and reason is not involved in determining whether you do have that desire or not.

    It *seems* to be that Hume’s point is that we do no choose, rationally or not, our desires; we have them, fullstop. If this is your point, then it is *not* inconsistent with Feser’s point in the quoted portion. At all. If you have an inordinate desire, a desire contrary to reason, it is hardly possible to have reasoned yourself to having said desire. But nothing in what Feser says suggests or implies this. This is why Feser explicitly brackets such cases as, e.g. “his irrational desires are so deep-seated that he doesn’t even feel the attraction of the good or of happiness, he is as objectively disordered or defective”. The desires, or attractions, or passions in the Scholastic jargon, themselves may be deep-seated, as opposed to deliverances of the intellect, but they are still, or can be, irrational.

    So Feser would not necessarily disagree that the passions we have are not reasoned to (this would have to be qualified though), although he would disagree what we are to make of that, since he, once again in the Scholastic tradition, does not subordinate the intellect to the passions as Hume typically does. But this is neither here nor there, because Feser’s point is a different one. And if Feser is wrong on a point of Humean exegesis (which he is not), it does not mean that the argument he lodges against Parsons is wrong, which is after all the *point* of the post.

  82. They indeed do know what is right, but they do not CARE about what is right – they don´t see “doing right” as a “lesser good”, they don´t see it as a good *at all*.

    Their intellect is disordered, and the etiology of that disorder (which you keep harping on) does not change the fact.

    They are choosing what their intellect judges to be good: exactly my point. If they are an extreme case (as you say they are) that cannot see any good in anything but the “good” their intellect judges to be good, then they are still doing exactly what we are saying: acting according to what their intellect judges to be good.

    Your illustration supports the point we are making.

  83. You have indeed asserted that but I have seen no argument from you that tries to establish that it is indeed true.

    Well, Irenicus, I’ll have to give you credit for being original at least. I describe two totally different realities. One with God and one without. Then I describe the obvious implications of those two realities. Now, that there could be two different realities is certainly possible and that those completely different realities would undoubtedly lead to different implications as far as our who we are is not an “assertion” but a reasoned and obvious implication arising from those two alternate realities. In fact, it’s such an obvious implication from those two different realities that I’m am quite sure I’ve never heard or heard of any thinker from any field of theology or philosophy even attempt to deny this. Now, I get that you don’t have a good reply or way to deal with those implications so I will, at least, applaud your effort in trying to opt out of the discussion before this became obvious.

    …because the only morally relevant thing that “connects” us is what we actually ARE, what our natures are and what we have in common, not how we got to be that way .

    Which, as I said above, again ignores the fact that “how we got to be that way ” necessarily affects “what we actually ARE, what our natures are and what we have in common”. Even from your own perspective. You claim “what we actually ARE” is a result of our being part of the evolutionary processes. How else, from your perspective, would we have gotten this way. It’s more than a bit self contradictory to claim that what you think we are comes from one reality but try and deny that we could and would be something else if we came from another reality.

  84. …because the only morally relevant thing that “connects” us is what we actually ARE, what our natures are and what we have in common, not how we got to be that way .

    Since Irenicus, I gather from you other posts that you like dictionary definitions I thought you might like this one:

    as·ser·tion (ə-sûr′shən) n.

    1. The act of asserting.

    2. Something declared or stated positively, often with no support or attempt at proof. (emphasis added)

    The above statement by you is a textbook example of an assertion. Notice that you include no proof or support of your claim nor is there reasoning as to why it’s true nor does the one premise follow logically from the other. That it doesn’t matter “how we got to be that way” it only matters “what we actually ARE” may be your personal opinion but that’s all it is. Nothing you wrote shows this to be true.

    Now, in contrast my statement (which you labeled an assertion) in a simplified form states “different realities are different”. Now, the kind of realities I was referring to in my statement were the different realities of a world with or without a God. The kind of realities that this describes are metaphysical realities. Further, we were discussing whether the connectedness, duties and responsibilities between people, that is their metaphysical connectedness, would be different if their metaphysical realities were different.

    Therefore, my claim is that if the metaphysical realities of the world were different then the metaphysical characteristics of the people in those different worlds, as it relates to their connectedness, duties and responsibilities, etc. would also be different. Notice how the one premise follows logically from the other. This would be a statement that is not an assertion.

  85. @G. Rodrigues

    It *seems* to be that Hume’s point is that we do no choose, rationally or not, our desires; we have them, fullstop. If this is your point, then it is *not* inconsistent with Feser’s point in the quoted portion. At all. If you have an inordinate desire, a desire contrary to reason, it is hardly possible to have reasoned yourself to having said desire. But nothing in what Feser says suggests or implies this. This is why Feser explicitly brackets such cases as, e.g. “his irrational desires are so deep-seated that he doesn’t even feel the attraction of the good or of happiness, he is as objectively disordered or defective”. The desires, or attractions, or passions in the Scholastic jargon, themselves may be deep-seated, as opposed to deliverances of the intellect, but they are still, or can be, irrational.

    But then you have to redefine what “irrational” means. I thought we agree that “irrational” means “contrary to reason” (that was the definition you provided), but if those desires / attractions / passions are NOT “deliverances of the intellect”, then how could they possibly be “contrary to reason”? How can x be “contrary to reason” (or “in accord with reason”) if x isn´t even the product of reason in the first place?

    So Feser would not necessarily disagree that the passions we have are not reasoned to (this would have to be qualified though), although he would disagree what we are to make of that, since he, once again in the Scholastic tradition, does not subordinate the intellect to the passions as Hume typically does. But this is neither here nor there, because Feser’s point is a different one. And if Feser is wrong on a point of Humean exegesis (which he is not), it does not mean that the argument he lodges against Parsons is wrong, which is after all the *point* of the post.

    That might well be the point of the post, but it isn´t the point of discussion we had in this thread right here. The point here was whether or not Hume is right that reason is not involved in determining whether or not (for example) you indeed do have an attraction towards “the good” – if you agree that reason does not make that call, then you agree with Hume, that is ALL he meant to say with that quote.

  86. @BillT

    Now, that there could be two different realities is certainly possible and that those completely different realities would undoubtedly lead to different implications as far as our who we are is not an “assertion” but a reasoned and obvious implication arising from those two alternate realities. In fact, it’s such an obvious implication from those two different realities that I’m am quite sure I’ve never heard or heard of any thinker from any field of theology or philosophy even attempt to deny this. Now, I get that you don’t have a good reply or way to deal with those implications so I will, at least, applaud your effort in trying to opt out of the discussion before this became obvious.

    First of all. You seem to think that repeating an assertion ad nauseam at some point makes the assertion magically “obvious” and “reasoned”. It does not.
    Second, I replied to this a long time ago. Specifically, I pointed out the following:
    “To illustrate this, lets assume for the sake of the argument that I am wrong, and we were indeed created by God, but not all of us as people like William Campbell argued:
    “William Campbell, under the pen name “Caucasian”, wrote in Anthropology for the People: A Refutation of the Theory of the Adamic Origin of All Races that the nonwhite peoples were not descendants of Adam and therefore “not brothers in any proper sense of the term, but inferior creations”” (note, I am not saying that this is a reasonable interpretation of Christianity, I´m just using it to illustrate something)
    – if this would be true, then I would not value you (I´m just assuming you are white) any more, and I wouldn´t value a black or chinese person any less, because, for the reasons mentioned above, I couldn´t care any less if all, some or none of us were made by the same God, the only thing that I do care about (from a moral perspective) is what we actually *are* now, not how we got to be that way.”
    – you would disagree and say that if we lived in that scenario, my moral duties towards white people like you would be different than my moral duties towards black people, because we the former group and the latter group were created differently. So, pray tell, why should I ignore what people are and instead focus on if they share the same “creation process” or not? You had plenty of opportunities to address this, and never did. So by now I´m about to conclude that you simply cannot address it because your claim that it morally totally matters how we came to be the way we are is just hot air.

    Which, as I said above, again ignores the fact that “how we got to be that way ” necessarily affects “what we actually ARE, what our natures are and what we have in common”. Even from your own perspective. You claim “what we actually ARE” is a result of our being part of the evolutionary processes. How else, from your perspective, would we have gotten this way. It’s more than a bit self contradictory to claim that what you think we are comes from one reality but try and deny that we could and would be something else if we came from another reality.

    For the sake of the argument (and my amusement), lets just assume that you are right here and do the following thought experiment:
    God exists and set up a universe where we eventually come into existence as the product of an evolutionary process that worked without God ever intervening in this process in ANY way. Now, God directly creates one human being (lets call it “Bob”) that is completely unrelated to all other humans (because Bob didn´t evolve, he is the product of special creation) but also completely indistinguishable from a human that is the product of an evolutionary process because God chose to create Bob that way.
    Now, if you are right, there must be morally significant differences between Bob and every other human being because they came to be the way they are through completely different processes. So, go ahead – explain which morally significant differences there would be between Bob and everyone else as a consequence of their different creation background stories.

  87. Coikd you define the term “God” for us, please, such that it makes it possible for God to be the creator of,some himans but not all?

    This is a God I’ve never heard of. If you find it easy to disbelieve in this God, so do I.

    I don’t know you all that well, but it seems like you would fimd it more interesting to interact with the thought of a God in whom someone, somewhere, actually believes.

  88. I guess I was wrong about what I was guessing you would find interesting.

    As for me, I’m perfectly happy with you disproving gods in whom no one believes. I would even jump in alongside and help, except it does seem a bit pointless and boring.

  89. @Tom,
    You neither understand what a thought experiment is [1] nor did you understand what my thought experiment tried to demonstrate [2].

    1. Whether the thought experiment involves things that actually exist (or could exist) or not is completely irrelevant for its conclusion. If Galileo would have phrased his famous gravity thought experiment with two balls made out of adamantium and xentronium respectively (two made up types of metal that don´t exist in the real world) which are connected by a rope, then his conclusion that Aristotle must have been wrong about gravity would have been just as valid.

    2. My thought experiment has literally nothing whatsoever to do with whether there is a God or not and if there is one, what he is like. What it aims to show is rather that, contrary to BillT´s claim, he would not assume that our moral duties towards other people would “obviously” be different if the process that was responsible for making them the way they are now would be different (or maybe he would, that depends on his answer – but if he would, I doubt that he could come up with any justification for it).

  90. Irenicus,

    “To illustrate this, lets assume for the sake of the argument that I am wrong, and we were indeed created by God, but not all of us as people like William Campbell argued:

    To start with, as you said this isn’t a “reasonable interpretation of Christianity” so it’s not dependent on me to defend a theory I don’t believe. Second, it’s not valid as a thought experiment because it isn’t based on nor does it follow the basic contours of the discussion. You just can’t make up stuff and it be a valid thought experiment.

    But for the sake if closure on it. Campbell’s argument that only some of creation is “Adamic” (if that’s even a thing at all) misses a basic fact. Even given that premise, no matter who God chose as “Adamic” that would have no bearing on the fact that he still created the rest of humanity as well. There would be no difference in their metaphysical connectedness because God still would be the creator of all mankind regardless. Thus, even under this premise, we are not “created differently.” Even if there was such a thing as an “Adamic” status, that would, by his own description, only be a later addition (it coming after the creation of mankind as a whole) to the basic metaphysical makeup we would all necessarily share as part of the same initial creation. Thus, race or any other factor, would have absolutely no bearing on the metaphysical connectedness of humanity.

    [And just BTW, Irenicus. This is the kind of tortured illogical thinking that the vilest racists in history have used to justify their racism and heinous treatment of people based on their race .]

    And your attempted explanation that followed used the same mistaken pattern of thinking. Your assumption that Bob as a “product of special creation” necessarily means that “there must be morally significant differences between Bob and every other human being because they came to be the way they are through completely different processes.” is an unsupported allegation. If God can create “Bob” who in your own words is “completely indistinguishable from a human that is the product of an evolutionary process ” then he can certainly imbue him with the same metaphysical connectedness. Like above, it’s all still God’s creation.

    The basic problem it seems you and Mr. Campbell have is a failure to grasp the scope and meaning of the word omnipotent. If this is God’s creation than this is God’s creation. All of it. Every aspect of that creation that is possible for God to do logically with the power of his omnipotence is under his control. Both you and Mr. Campbell introduce events into God’s creation that you believe he can’t control. For Mr. Campbell it’s “Adamic” status for you Bob the “product of special creation”. But none of that binds God or his creation to the conclusions you insist must be true because of them.

  91. BillT,

    To start with, as you said this isn’t a “reasonable interpretation of Christianity” so it’s not dependent on me to defend a theory I don’t believe.

    And I didn´t ask you to defend it in any way, shape or form – I asked you to address a thought experiment.

    Second, it’s not valid as a thought experiment because it isn’t based on nor does it follow the basic contours of the discussion.

    Of course it´s based on the discussion. You say that if the processes that made us the way we are were different, this would necessarily change what moral duties we have towards each other – I deny this and present you with a thought experiment where people were created by different processes and challenge you to provide a justification for why that should lead to ANY difference between our duties towards the group created by process A vs our duties towards the group created by process B.
    You cannot. You cannot even begin to do so. And that is a checkmate.

    And your attempted explanation that followed used the same mistaken pattern of thinking. Your assumption that Bob as a “product of special creation” necessarily means that “there must be morally significant differences between Bob and every other human being because they came to be the way they are through completely different processes.” is an unsupported allegation. If God can create “Bob” who in your own words is “completely indistinguishable from a human that is the product of an evolutionary process ” then he can certainly imbue him with the same metaphysical connectedness. Like above, it’s all still God’s creation.

    With the same “metaphysical connectedness” that all the other humans wouldn´t have in the first place because God set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything…
    As I said, checkmate. And with that, I rest my case.

  92. Irenicus,

    But then you have to redefine what “irrational” means. I thought we agree that “irrational” means “contrary to reason” (that was the definition you provided), but if those desires / attractions / passions are NOT “deliverances of the intellect”, then how could they possibly be “contrary to reason”? How can x be “contrary to reason” (or “in accord with reason”) if x isn´t even the product of reason in the first place?

    I think what is meant by “contrary to reason” in this context is that it is not in accord with what a correctly functioning intellect would present as good.

  93. Right. It doesn’t mean “arising from unreasonable sources” or “arising unreasonably from sources purporting to be reasonable.” It means contrary to reason, where reason is functioning properly and is, in fact, reason.

    Your question, “How can x be ‘contrary to reason’ (or ‘in accord with reason’) if x isn´t even the product of reason in the first place?” is closely analogous to, “How can Ivan be against America if he comes from Russia?”

    Where Ivan comes from has only an incidental connection to whether he’s for or against America. Likewise, where a mental state came from has only an incidental connection with whether it’s contrary to reason. The question is whether it’s contrary to reason in its proper function.

  94. Irenicus, your thought experiment assumes a God no one believes in. A God who created some humans in his image but not others is a God who lied to us in his Word, and whose creation continues to hide that lie behind inscrutable and undetectable differences. That’s not the God we’re defending.

    Your checkmate is victory, I’ll admit, but it defeats a belief no one holds.

    Why you think that’s interesting, I still don’t understand. Why not grapple with the solid version of theism that’s still persuasive to millions of intelligent people thousands of years after it was first formed? That’s a target worth aiming toward.

    But be careful: if you learn what Christian theism is, you might find out your reasons for rejecting it were really reasons for rejecting something else instead, and then where would you be?

    Maybe in a better place than you ever expected or imagined. Maybe in a better place than you thought you’d be worthy of. But that’s okay: none of us is worthy. Jesus Christ is better than that: he loves us despite our flaws and failures.

    Have you ever read his story, by the way? I suggest you pick up a Bible and read through the book of Mark, the second book in the New Testament. See who Jesus is in action. Then let us know what you think.

  95. If an eternally existing transcendent mind (God) is the ultimate source of our moral obligations then it appears there is no question that we have obligations both to Him and our fellow man. But what is the source of our moral obligations if we are all a byproduct of a blind, mindless dys-teleological natural evolutionary process? At best it is not at all obvious that there is. At worst there really is no good answer. Atheists appear divided on this question, theists are not.

    IMO that’s the theists argument as succinctly as it can be stated.

  96. With the same “metaphysical connectedness” that all the other humans wouldn´t have in the first place because God set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything…

    Irenicus,

    You asked me to explain, given your and Mr. Campbell’s scenarios, how God could deal with the issues you and he raised that being the Adamic issue and the special creation issue. I did that. Your response was to say “that’s wrong because my imaginary god says so.” Remember, the idea “that all the other humans wouldn’t have (the same “metaphysical connectedness”) in the first place because God set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything…” is a fiction you created for your imaginary god. And moreover, because he’s your imaginary god, what you’re essentially saying is “you’re wrong because I said so.” This is not a checkmate and that’s not how thought experiments work.

    Neither did you address the restatement of my central premise at the end of post #92 or my discussion of God’s omnipotence. Those ideas are both central to why your and Mr. Campbell’s scenarios don’t create any issues for the God of theism. Nor do they mitigate the idea of the metaphysical connectedness that would create an objective basis for a morality that we would all share if God created the universe. Again, saying my “imaginary god says that’s not true” does not refute or even address my explanation.

  97. @Irenicus:

    I thought we agree that “irrational” means “contrary to reason” (that was the definition you provided), but if those desires / attractions / passions are NOT “deliverances of the intellect”, then how could they possibly be “contrary to reason”?

    As Melissa and Tom said. Desires or passions can be irrational in different senses. Desires can be irrational because they are inordinate, e.g. desire for the wrong thing. But that the object of desire is the wrong object for desire is an intellectual judgment therefore the desire can be rightly said contrary to reason. Desires can be irrational because they are disproportionate to their objects. Being disproportionate to their objects is likewise an intellectual judgment, therefore such a desire can rightfully be said to be contrary to reason. Etc. and etc.

    The point here was whether or not Hume is right that reason is not involved in determining whether or not (for example) you indeed do have an attraction towards “the good” – if you agree that reason does not make that call, then you agree with Hume, that is ALL he meant to say with that quote.

    No, that is not all Hume meant with that quote and it is not how Feser employs him. And when Feser speaks of attraction, as in “he doesn’t even feel the attraction of the good or of happiness”, the attraction here refers to desires or passions in the Scholastic jargon, but his argument revolves around, not desires or passions, but around the Will, that is necessarily oriented to the Good, and the Intellect, in the guise of practical reason, also oriented towards the Good, though in a different but related sense. And if you think Feser is misreading Hume (which he is not), his argument goes through just the same: just splash the Humean label on it and add “whether the historical Hume would agree with it or not”.

  98. Background contextual nuances which may help inform navigations here:

    [1] This is an imaginary (even impossible/incoherent) god:

    [Being Itself, Who is love, creates a Non-Moral Universe the constitutions of which sum to the Imago Dei and such is the case whether said Non-Moral-Universe is found in the pains of privation or in the unicity of wholeness, and all of which He Himself is metaphysically absent from.]

    [2] Necessarily it is the case that origins and causations cannot be metaphysically disconnected. “God Exists” changes the essence of the irreducible bedrock of being itself and it is *impossible* for causation/causations to be paradigmatically separated from “that”. And it is [1] causation and [2] causal closure which forces all ends here, hence any move which – on causal closure – is incoherent ends up inapplicable to reality as such. The God-Universe and the No-God-Universe are irreducibly different on all fronts – to the bitter ends of physicality, temporal becoming, actualization, and so on – ad infinitum.

    Irreducible, elemental, immutable.

    Such is love within the Christian’s metaphysical geography. Reason as truth-finder, in any Non-Christian metaphysical geography, can in fact chase after *different* ends and employ *different* means to so chase and be, factually, Non-Contrary to said geography — and therein reason is factually reasonable. Whereas, within the contours of the means and ends of the immutable love of the Necessary Being, Reason as truth-finder — should she in fact chase after *different* ends and employ *different* means to so chase — well then reason shall be, factually, the express contradiction of The-Real and therein reason as truth-finder shall be, factually, *un*-reasonable.

    [3] From the link:

    “Now, you might [mistakenly] think that his reason for saying this has something to do with attributing our remote origin to evolution rather than divine creation……… But now comes Barham’s mistake. He thinks Aristotle’s answer faces the following difficulties. First, Barham thinks that there are alterative candidates for our final cause or natural end that are no less plausible than rationality. His examples are agency, the capacity for morality, and love. Second, he notes that we often act irrationally and suggests that replicants can be no less rational than human beings are — in which case rationality is neither necessary nor sufficient for being a human being. Third, he seems to think that a problem with any proposed characteristic (rationality, moral behavior, love, or whatever) is that there are instances of human beings who don’t exhibit it — so that (Barham seems to conclude) none of them can be the final cause of human beings as such.”

    [4] Continuing with another spot in the link:

    “First, that we often act irrationally does not entail that we are not rational. Indeed, you cannot act irrationally unless you are rational, in the relevant sense of “rational.” To be irrational is not the same thing as to be non-rational. Rather, to be irrational is to reason badly, or to let one’s emotion cloud one’s reason, or to be impaired somehow (by mental illness or brain damage, say) so that one is prevented from exercising one’s reason — all of which presupposes that one does indeed have reason. Contrast a spider, say, which is not irrational precisely because it does not even rise to the level of reasoning badly. A spider is instead non-rational.

    Second, agency, morality, and love are not really in competition with rationality as candidates for our characteristic activity, certainly not on the analysis an Aristotelian like Aquinas would put forward. For these are all themselves just special cases of rationality. Consider Aquinas’s view that will follows upon intellect. Will is “rational appetite,” the tendency to be drawn toward what the intellect sees to be good. To be “rational,” then, is for Aquinas to have a will as well as an intellect. Now, agency, in the sense here in question, is just the capacity to behave in light of reason — that is to say, to have a will. Morality is just a matter of an agent’s pursuing what the intellect perceives to be good for him and avoiding what it perceives to be bad. Loving a thing is just willing what is good for it. So, the Aristotelian can take Barham’s alleged alternatives not to be true alternatives to rationality at all, but indeed to be instances of rationality.” (E. Feser)

    [5] This is a Non-Christian descriptive of the making of Man, an imaginary and even incoherent (on Christianity) descriptive of the Adamic:

    “…..God set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything…..”

    Such reduces The Adamic to the purely material.

    Unless, that is, this:

    It is possible that God can set up an autonomous process of material which imbues material with that which reduces to the immaterial. But that is impossible. In short that all amounts to this: Man is material, and nothing more, and if we just assume for our thought experiment that God made Man thusly, well then Man comes up the same in Theism as in Materialism.

    Truth-Finding:

    Irreducible, elemental, immutable.

    Such is love within the Christian’s metaphysical geography. Reason as truth-finder, in any Non-Christian metaphysical geography, can in fact chase after *different* ends and employ *different* means to so chase and be, factually, Non-Contrary to said geography — and therein reason is factually reasonable. Whereas, within the contours of the means and ends of the immutable love of the Necessary Being, Reason as truth-finder — should she in fact chase after *different* ends and employ *different* means to so chase — well then reason shall be, factually, the express contradiction of The-Real and therein reason as truth-finder shall be, factually, *un*-reasonable.

  99. Subtext:

    From a com-box over in E. Feser’s blog, “DNW” makes the following observation:

    Quote:

    You stated this,

    Isn’t the problem of justification always going to be a shell game? You can always find where I’m dropping a premise, taking something for granted without arguing for it …..

    I’m not accusing you of “dropping a premise” or taking something for granted without arguing for it. I am accusing you of something worse: deliberate intellectual fraud.

    I am accusing you of persistently deploying universal terms which have been rendered entirely problematical on your own account, as if they still meant what they once did in a moral universe populated by natural kinds and furnished with teleologically derived normative standards.

    It’s just all too precious.

    Now, I understand, as the relative newcomers here might not always, that the nihilist dance routine, and the refrain that it is better to huckster the crowd than to pester about the ultimate, is in fact your operating premise. But, and it’s a big ugly but as they say, if you took your own claim of epistemic humility seriously, you would keep this truth about your method at the forefront, and refuse to engage in pseudo-arguments which are in principle incapable of any kind of resolution because of the built-in problems of equivocation; problems of which you are perfectly aware, and have in fact placed there.

    Thus, when you launch off on these rhetorical diversions, one can only conclude that these speech acts of yours are base and cynical attempts to simply exhaust those who don’t quite get the meta-narrative which lies behind and informs and shapes your surface efforts.

    What you need to do, in order to be “truly authentic”, is to admit to yourself and to everyone else, why that kind of consistent honesty is so dangerous to those taking your stance; and why, unless relentlessly pressed, you seek to avoid it.

    …….By the way, and for what it is worth; I don’t wish to leave the impression that I imagine there is some functional equivalence between the concept of a tautology and a spandrel. I was – probably obviously – implying the prosaic image of a cluster of tautological statements giving an appearance of a meaningful structure or system when stacked and leaned up against each other at various angles … the resultant spaces providing the necessary illusion for pattern projecting subjects to go on to … etc ……

    You know, and in adverting to the paragraph two above, there is in fact, something profoundly “metaphysical” in that diversionary, dissembling tactic. Something, as you have I believe yourself admitted as anti-logocentric. Something which at the deepest and most profound level takes deceit, and manipulation, to be at the very heart of a “life strategy”.

    It almost reminds me of … well … the paradigm or myth escapes me at the moment. But I am sure it will come to me eventually …

    Till then.

    End quote.

  100. “…..God set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything…..”

    It is possible that God can set up an autonomous process of material which imbues material with that which reduces to the immaterial. But that is impossible. In short that all amounts to this: Man is material, and nothing more, and if we just assume for our thought experiment that God made Man thusly, well then Man comes up the same in Theism as in Materialism.

    scb,

    And Irenicus can certainly speculate this or present it as a thought experiment. That’s certainly fine. However, he didn’t, to my knowledge, present any argument that would allow him to use that as a established conclusion that would effectively refute my explanations of his “Adamic” and “special creation” scenarios. Agree or did I miss something?

    for him to think that he can

  101. Bill T.,

    Agree. The thought experiment is, obviously, of an incoherent and impossible scenario given that it mandates that God (Immutable Love) is metaphysically *absent* from the material based substrate of the created. “Being Itself” in any coherent sense just cannot cash out that way. So we can stop there. Also, if more is needed (it isn’t), it’s simply a Non-Christian set of premises. Lastly, it really comes down to begging the question — to stating that *IF* there should be a purely material based process which *god* were to employ to make “man” *THEN* the Non-Theist Man (material) would house the *same* metaphysical interfaces (material based) of the Man of Theism. It’s sort of like asserting that if we assume that two cars are both made out of metal, and then say, “therefore” the two cars are the same……. it works (fallaciously on “Being Itself”……) but it’s not informing us of anything relevant to what is being discussed.

    Perhaps the thing for our Non-Theist friends to remember outside of “Being Itself” (….the immutable love of the Necessary Being…. and so on) having a set of inescapable “interfaces” with every bit of reality is simply the fact that with “Man” or “The Adamic” , it is the case that Man is Dirt (particle cascade), and, then, Man is that but also more.

    At the end of the day, the process of Scripture’s a priori of “Dirt-To-Man” is cohesive with any valid process. Rate of change within temporal becoming amid Dirt / Particle where “The Adamic” is concerned is of no relevance to Christianity’s metaphysics.

  102. Thanks scb.

    JAD @ #104. That’s a beautifully written statement that puts a lot of truth in a very few words.

  103. Thank you, Bill. Actually I wrote that because I was curious if any of our atheist interlocutors, like Irenicus, could state their position that succinctly. It seems that the only way that they know how to argue is to take the argument off into the weeds. Unfortunately, too many Christians take the bait and follow them there. (We ought to be more cautious and smarter.) Of course if that’s the atheist’s strategy it’s a foolish one. They can’t win that way. All they succeed in doing is wasting our time. But maybe that’s all they got.

  104. #109 / February 7, 2016 at 8:06 am was a quote of “DNW” replying to a Non-Theist. As it turns out, there was a follow up comment by DNW which adds some insight into the nature of the problem at hand, copied here:

    Quote:

    ….. [ …. ] …….You replied [to #109], “This feels too all-or-nothing to me …

    You will be glad to know that you need not feel that way, since that is not what I was suggesting.

    I was stating outright that given your epistemological bracketing of and placing aside systems of truth in favor of a kind of “pragmatism”, and given your adoption of a Rotarian program of arguing rhetorically, rather than logically and categorically, you should try admitting this upfront, rather than having it squeezed out of you.

    It would be an interesting experiment to observe what would happen if you were to say to someone: “Now, what I am saying is not to be taken as universally true, or even true in your case, but I wish you to accede to my request because it makes me feel better and serves my interests even if it does not, yours.”

    It would be akin to the Churchlands whom I mentioned earlier, admitting upfront that they had no minds but that they nonetheless – wished insofar as there was a they, that could “wish” – had registered an impulse which caused them to try and modify your brain state and thus affect your behavior. Not that there was as they would be the first to stipulate, that there was any real “purpose” to it.

    I am challenging you to give up using traditional moral language in a deceptive and purely rhetorical manner and to adopt a more transparent and less time-wasting mode of interfacing: or, to at least always admit upfront that what you are doing is wheedling, rather than arguing in any traditional sense. I’m challenging you to drop the camouflage as a matter of principle, and not wait for it to be forcibly stripped from you.

    I’m challenging you to admit that your “arguments” are not arguments in any reals sense but attempts to produce emotional effects in others, and thereby modify their behaviors in a way which you find reinforcing.

    How far do you think you might be able to get in this project in that open manner and without the camouflaging rags of a habit you have long thrown off?

    And if you cannot get by in that manner, what does it say regarding your essential life project, and the role of deception in it?

    You mention the post-moderns. Perhaps you would like to share some of the broader implications of an explicitly anti-logocentric anthropology.

    End quote.

  105. There is a seventh thing that atheism teaches us about morality. Any world view that begins WITHOUT an eternally existing transcendent creator and law giver (God) is a morally, spiritually and intellectually bankrupt world view. This is especially apparent with so-called internet atheists who at best appear to be clever in the way they put together words and combine them with ideas they have co-opted from theistic and Christian roots. However, vacuous and counterfeit rhetoric does not equal good reasoning.

    This is abundantly clear when we look at the concept universal (and objective) human rights. What are human rights? They are moral obligations writ large. However, I do not see how so-called human rights can be justified from a naturalistic/atheistic perspective. Blind and mindless natural forces which are behind the unintended evolution of life, consciousness and human kind do not have moral obligations. No one has made this clearer than Richard Dawkins who writes:

    “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

    Nevertheless, Dawkins apparently is also a “liberal” who champions democratic freedoms and values which are based on the concept of universal human rights. But how is this even possible based on his world view?

  106. Nevertheless, Dawkins apparently is also a “liberal” who champions democratic freedoms and values which are based on the concept of universal human rights. But how is this even possible based on his world view?

    Because talking like an atheist is easy. Living like an atheist is hard.

  107. I have an opinion here, but the following quote from David Bently Hart states that opinion more elegantly than I ever could.

    “I can honestly say that there are many forms of atheism that I find far more admirable than many forms of Christianity or of religion in general. But atheism that consists entirely in vacuous arguments afloat on oceans of historical ignorance, made turbulent by storms of strident self-righteousness, is as contemptible as any other form of dreary fundamentalism. And it is sometimes difficult, frankly, to be perfectly generous in one’s response to the sort of invective currently fashionable among the devoutly undevout, or to the sort of historical misrepresentations it typically involves.”

    (From Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies)

    Like Hart I think (at least I think this is what he means) that there are honest atheists out there who honestly think through the implications of their world view. While I don’t agree with any atheistic world view, I do respect those who honestly understand the limits of their world view. I cannot do what God cannot do—force someone to freely believe against their will.

    However, the pseudo-intellectual “know-it-alls” who troll the internet are not being honest with themselves, let alone anyone else. What is really ironic is when these dishonest trolls show up here and begin pontificating about morality and ethics. Doesn’t morality and ethics begin with basic honesty? How can you be ethical without being honest? And why would you expect anyone else to take you seriously, when they can see right through the shallow and phony facade? That’s why I have stopped interacting with people who are apparently incapable of basic honesty. That is why as I said above @ #117 that “Any world view that begins WITHOUT an eternally existing transcendent creator and law giver (God) is a morally, spiritually and intellectually bankrupt world view.”

  108. That which is purely epistemic, and void of the ontic, just won’t do. Not “really”. Sam Harris and that Moral Landscape fail for reasons.

    “The West’s [human rights] ideals in a secular/atheist framework are practically mysticism. This idea of a “fundamental human right” in an evolutionary context is, as Bentham stated, “nonsense on stilts.” This is going beyond the otherwise humble claims of the skeptic that morality is just a thing we have built into us, and is good for our evolutionary benefit. That’s fine, I can handle that and say “Ok well, good luck!” But then they go on to appeal to some concept of equality among individuals, which is utterly and perfectly contradictory to the fitness paradigm of the evolutionary future which we are bound to. The question to the skeptic is, how can you assert equality into a future that you anticipate will involve conditions requiring unfitness of certain types of individuals in the species? How can you begin to guess that our current, or ANY, pursuit of happiness is the scientifically verified insurance of survival and fitness for the species in the context of fundamental human rights and equality? I certainly don’t advocate judging the truth of a claim based on its consequences. However, for all the times that I am accused of cognitive dissonance, which I may be guilty of, I cannot imagine living under the volume of cognitive dissonance in saying incidental meat robots called humans have “fundamental human rights” while KNOWING those human rights could cause conditions that would be evolutionarily disastrous.” (by “GM”)

  109. And while we’re quoting the far more eloquent and informed, here again is David Bentley Hart on the complete lack of self awareness of modern atheistic thought:

    The only really effective antidote to the dreariness of reading the New Atheists, it seems to me, is rereading Nietzsche. How much more immediate and troubling the force of his protest against Christianity seems when compared to theirs, even more than a century after his death. Perhaps his intellectual courage—his willingness to confront the implications of his renunciation of the Christian story of truth and the transcendent good without evasions or retreats—is rather a lot to ask of any other thinker, but it does rather make the atheist chic of today look fairly craven by comparison.

    Above all, Nietzsche understood how immense the consequences of the rise of Christianity had been, and how immense the consequences of its decline would be as well, and had the intelligence to know he could not fall back on polite moral certitudes to which he no longer had any right. Just as the Christian revolution created a new sensibility by inverting many of the highest values of the pagan past, so the decline of Christianity, Nietzsche knew, portends another, perhaps equally catastrophic shift in moral and cultural consciousness. His famous fable in The Gay Science of the madman who announces God’s death is anything but a hymn of atheist triumphalism. In fact, the madman despairs of the mere atheists—those who merely do not believe—to whom he addresses his terrible proclamation. In their moral contentment, their ease of conscience, he sees an essential oafishness; they do not dread the death of God because they do not grasp that humanity’s heroic and insane act of repudiation has sponged away the horizon, torn down the heavens, left us with only the uncertain resources of our will with which to combat the infinity of meaninglessness that the universe now threatens to become.

  110. @Melissa

    I think what is meant by “contrary to reason” in this context is that it is not in accord with what a correctly functioning intellect would present as good.

    I´m also pretty sure that this is what Feser had in mind, but it doesn´t contradict what Hume pointed out at all.

  111. @Tom:

    Irenicus, your thought experiment assumes a God no one believes in.

    Again, I can only point out that you do not understand the purpose of thought experiments.

    Your checkmate is victory, I’ll admit, but it defeats a belief no one holds.

    And you also don´t understand what I tried to demonstrate with my thought experiment. It has nothing, literally nothing what-so-ever to do with demonstrating that there is no “God” – it didn´t try to demonstrate that your God doesn´t exist, abd it didn´t try to demonstrate that some other God doesn´t exist.
    Once more for emphasis – IT HAD ***NOTHING*** TO DO WITH WHETHER YOUR GOD OR ANY OTHER GOD DOES EXIST OR NOT.

  112. BillT

    You asked me to explain, given your and Mr. Campbell’s scenarios, how God could deal with the issues you and he raised…

    No, I did not. I didn´t anything even remotely resembling that. What I rather did was present two thought experiments where humans would NOT all be “metaphysically connected” through a common creation story, but rather created in fundamentally different ways, and then challenged you to:
    “provide a justification for why that should lead to ANY difference between our duties towards the group created by process A vs our duties towards the group created by process B.”
    And you cannot. And this shows that your claim that differences in how we were created necessarily leads to differences in our moral duties towards each other is false.

    Your response was to say “that’s wrong because my imaginary god says so.”

    Nope, my response was rather that the process that was responsible for our creation evidently doesn´t change our moral duties towards each other.

    Remember, the idea “that all the other humans wouldn’t have (the same “metaphysical connectedness”) in the first place because God set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything…” is a fiction you created for your imaginary god.

    Yes, so? It seems that you are also incapable of understanding what a thought experiment IS and what it MEANS – seriously, read the wiki article on “thought experiments”.

    And moreover, because he’s your imaginary god, what you’re essentially saying is “you’re wrong because I said so.” This is not a checkmate and that’s not how thought experiments work.

    *headdesk*
    “A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment (from German) considers some hypothesis, theory,[1] or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences. Given the structure of the experiment, it may or may not be possible to actually perform it, and if it can be performed, there need be no intention of any kind to actually perform the experiment in question.

    The common goal of a thought experiment is TO EXPLORE THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE PRINCIPLES IN QUESTION: “A thought experiment is a device with which one performs an intentional, structured process of intellectual deliberation in order to speculate, within a specifiable problem domain, about potential consequents (or antecedents) for a designated antecedent (or consequent)” (Yeates, 2004, p. 150).” [emphasis added]
    – Your claim was that if the creation process that led to our existence would be different, then our moral duties towards each other would be different, and I designed a thought experiment to explore this alleged principle and successfully demonstrated that IF it were the case that some of us would be created by evolution while others were directly created by God, you could not point to any differences in our moral duties towards each other. Ergo, your claim is false. That the God I made up for this thought experiment doesn´t exist is completely and utterly irrelevant because the conclusion has nothing to do with whether this God exists or not. As I already pointed out to Tom, if Galileo would have devised his famous thought experiment with objects that do not actually exist and cannot actually exist (say, two balls made out of a material that doesn´t exist) that are connected by a rope, then his conclusion would STILL HAVE BEEN VALID – the thought experiment would still show that Aristotle must have been wrong about gravity because it is about which consequences follow from which HYPOTHETICAL principle.

    Neither did you address the restatement of my central premise at the end of post #92 or my discussion of God’s omnipotence.

    Ok, then I just restate my thought experiment with an omnipotent God:
    Hypothetically, an omnipotent God creates a universe that is able to function autonomously (i.e., one that can and does persist and change without his input) and that eventually creates beings like you and me through *unguided* evolution. Since this God is omnipotent, he is able to do that by definition – if he cannot create a system with true randomness and true autonomy from himself, there is an obvious deficiency in his powers and he thus could not be all-powerful. And then, this God directly creates some more beings that he designs to be indistinguishable from the ones that were created by the evolutionary process that worked completely autonomously from him. You say that there must be different moral duties for those two groups of beings, and I challenge you again to point out which differences there would be and what the basis for those differences is.
    And if you cannot do that, then your claim that “different creation story => different moral duties” is evidently false, the moral duties would rather remain the same either way.

  113. G. Rodrigues

    But that the object of desire is the wrong object for desire is an intellectual judgment therefore the desire can be rightly said contrary to reason.

    Nope. If you design an object for the purpose of doing x, but some accident (lets say a storm) damages the object and now it is only capable of doing y, then someone could look at it and make the intellectual judgment “that thing should be able to do x, but apparently it has been damaged so that it can only do y” – but you can NOT say that the function of this object is therefore “irrational”. That the object does y instead of x is neither the consequence of rationality, nor of irrationality – it has a non-rational reason. And the same is true for Feser´s hypothetical three-legged dog or a psychopath.

    No, that is not all Hume meant with that quote and it is not how Feser employs him.

    Actually, that is very much what Hume meant with that quote (again, look up any commentary on Hume – check the entry in the SEP for example).

    And when Feser speaks of attraction, as in “he doesn’t even feel the attraction of the good or of happiness”, the attraction here refers to desires or passions in the Scholastic jargon, but his argument revolves around, not desires or passions, but around the Will, that is necessarily oriented to the Good

    No, it is not necessarily oriented to the Good, see my last comment:
    “If they do say that, this would just be empirically false. All you need to do to show it to be false is to present one person who intellectually understands perfectly well that his actions were morally wrong, yet still experienced no desire whatsoever to refrain from doing them, i.e. whose will was not attracted towards the “good” in any way, shape or form and who thus easily could do things that he knew to be wrong because he had no desire to do what is good. For a person like that, you cannot say that their “will is necessarily(!) oriented towards to good” at all because their will is evidently utterly indifferent towards the good.
    See:
    “Psychopaths know right from wrong but don’t care”
    http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/5/1/59.full

  114. Irenicus, you seem to think,it’s our fault no one here understands what you’re trying to say. There’s another, more likely explanation.

    So please quit yelling, settle down, and realize that it’s not necessarily the readers’ fault when the writer can’t make himself understood.

    Your last comment to Bill was an improvement. I think we can work with it.

  115. Your re-worded question to Bill implies a universe that is partly naturalistic/deistic, and partly specially created. No one can tell which part is which.

    The answer to your question then is that there is no reason to treat the two parts differently, but not because they are the same. It’s because we can’t perceive the differences. It’s a problem of knowledge, not one of resl moral worth or duties.

    So I think that then we would have to wonder what general conclusions the residents would draw about the world they live in. They might conclude that it’s all naturalistic, and therefore no human’s ontological status is any different than any other natural object’s. They might also conclude that therefore no one and nothing has any special moral worth or particular moral duties. They would be right in the case of the just-naturally produced humans and wrong for the others.

    Or they might conclude that humans are all specially created, and their resultant conclusions about ontology and moral responsibility would again be partly right and partly wrong.

    The result of your thought experiment, then, isn’t that there’s no right or wrong snswer. It’s that you’ve designed a world where the rigbt answer for each individual is unknowable.

    And nothing abut that changes the fact that certain moral conclusions follow from certain assumptions about the fundamental nature of reality.

  116. BTW, your understanding of what omnipotence means is false. Omnipotence is not the power to do anything, it is the power to do anything that power can do. No amount of power can square a circle. It’s not hard, it’s not a matter of insufficient power , it’s just impossible – even for omnipotence.

    I mention that as an aside. Your thought experiment stated that omnipotence means that God (or a god) must necessarily be able to detach himself from the processes of his creation. That’s not necessarily the case, but I’ve accepted it as an assumption for the sake of the thought experiment.

    I mention this here only to pre-empt any related objections from other Christians here. My purpose in the previous comment was just to take the thought experiment for what it was worth, even though on that point I accepted a highly questionable assumption.

  117. Tom,

    Irenicus, you seem to think,it’s our fault no one here understands what you’re trying to say. There’s another, more likely explanation.

    It´s not so much about “what I am trying to say” and rather about “what does “thought experiment” mean” – and I didn´t invent that concept.

    Your re-worded question to Bill implies a universe that is partly naturalistic/deistic

    Not really, it isn´t naturalistic and also not deistic because the God that created it does intervene in it after its creation (by creating some beings that are indistinguishable from those that were created by an evolutionary process).

    The answer to your question then is that there is no reason to treat the two parts differently, but not because they are the same. It’s because we can’t perceive the differences. It’s a problem of knowledge, not one of resl moral worth or duties.

    Then we´ll modify the thought experiment so that this becomes knowable – assume that the group that was not created by an evolutionary process just pops into existence out of nothing in the presence of witnesses (like a storck bringing a baby only without the storck) – and those babies grow up to become humans that are indistinguishable from us, the only difference is that they were not born like we were but rather just popped into existence as babies.
    With that modification, the difference in the creation processes would be knowable and IS known – so tell me how that would entail that the two groups of beings would have different moral duties. Why ought a naturally born human treat one of the specially created ones any differently or vice versa? And what differences would those be exactly?

    BTW, your understanding of what omnipotence means is false. Omnipotence is not the power to do anything, it is the power to do anything that power can do. No amount of power can square a circle.

    I know. And which square circles or otherwise logically incoherent elements does my thought experiment entail? If you intend to argue that it is a logical *necessity* that everything that happens can only happen because God wills it so, that applies to the human will as well and would thus mean that the human will necessarily is not free in any sense but rather merely an expression of what God willed. In other words, as long as you affirm that humans have libertarian free will, you cannot consistently deny that God is capable of creating things that do stuff without God determining what they will do.

  118. but you can NOT say that the function of this object is therefore “irrational”.

    That’s because you’ve switched categories. You can’t say the function of the object is no longer bluish-purple, either. Bluish-purple isn’t in the category of functions that can get damaged in a storm, and neither is rationality.

  119. Irenicus, your thought experiment now seems to be this:

    We have two kinds of organisms. They look and act similarly, but their underlying ontologies are completely different. Should we treat them the same or differently?

    You seem to imply that the appearance of similarity implies that we should treat them the same. You seem to be implying further that there’s no good reason to treat different things differently. How do you come to the conclusion that the appearance of sameness trumps the reality of deep differences?

  120. Tom,

    That’s because you’ve switched categories. You can’t say the function of the object is no longer bluish-purple, either. Bluish-purple isn’t in the category of functions that can get damaged in a storm, and neither is rationality.

    1. It wouldn´t be “rationality” (i.e. your rational faculties) but rather emotions / desires (i.e. your emotional faculties) – the two are intrinsically related and cannot be fully seperated but its still important to make clear again that this is not about rationality.
    2. Of course those function can be damaged in a storm (or any other kind of accident, developmental disorders would be more likely in that context for example). If the storm causes you to fall which leads to significant injuries to your frontal lobe for example, then some of cognitive faculties can be irreparably damaged – to the degree that you lose them completely or almost completely.

  121. Tom,

    How do you come to the conclusion that the appearance of sameness trumps the reality of deep differences?

    I don´t. There are no differenceS (plural) and there is not just an “appearance” of similarity. There is just one “difference”. And that “difference” is in the way how both groups got to be the way they are, the process that created them – that´s it.
    And, as I keep saying since the beginning of this thread, I claim that this difference does not have any moral implications at all. You can BillT disagree and rather claim that this difference is of paramount moral importance.
    And that´s why I came up with this thought experiment where we have two groups of beings, both of which are just like you and me, and the only thing that distinguishes them is the process that created them. I challenged both you and BillT to explain how that difference would lead to different moral duties for group A and B and to explain *why* there would be different moral duties for them. You cannot do so, and demonstrating this – that you cannot point to differences in moral duties and a reason for those differences in a hypothetical situations where such differences should exist IF you are right – was the entire purpose of the thought experiment.

  122. I designed a thought experiment to explore this alleged principle and successfully demonstrated that IF it were the case that some of us would be created by evolution while others were directly created by God, you could not point to any differences in our moral duties towards each other.

    Irenicus,

    No you didn’t. You only think you succeeded in doing this. The only way you “succeeded” though was to place restraints on God, and those he created, by saying that “that all the other humans wouldn’t have (the same “metaphysical connectedness”) in the first place because God set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything…”

    This God that “set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything” is your fiction that takes what you believe is a thought experiment and turns it into nothing but your opinion. You have both asked the question and provided the answer. If you can do that in your premise then I can simply reply by saying that God didn’t “set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything.”

    (I) then challenged you to:
    “provide a justification for why that should lead to ANY difference between our duties towards the group created by process A vs our duties towards the group created by process B.”

    Which I did. I explained that a metaphysical connectedness would exist among those whose existence depended on the same metaphysical creation. That connectedness would not exist in an evolved, non-metaphysical creation. [To explain further.] You claimed that wasn’t true because “God set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything…” You have no basis (in fact) to impose that condition nor, in a thought experiment, can you constrain my reply by this arbitrary condition. Can’t you see that as I said above, you have both asked the question and provided the answer.

  123. BillT,

    No you didn’t. You only think you succeeded in doing this. The only way you “succeeded” though was to place restraints on God

    Wrong. I didn´t place any restraints on that hypothetical God at all.

    This God that “set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything” is your fiction that takes what you believe is a thought experiment and turns it into nothing but your opinion. You have both asked the question and provided the answer. If you can do that in your premise then I can simply reply by saying that God didn’t “set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything.”

    @Tom: you can say what you want but BillT evidently does not understand what a “thought experiment” is – that´s not me considering him “stupid”, that´s just a simple observation.

    Which I did. I explained that a metaphysical connectedness would exist among those whose existence depended on the same metaphysical creation. That connectedness would not exist in an evolved, non-metaphysical creation. [To explain further.] You claimed that wasn’t true because “God set up a process that autonomously creates them without him doing anything…” You have no basis (in fact) to impose that condition nor, in a thought experiment, can you constrain my reply by this arbitrary condition. Can’t you see that as I said above, you have both asked the question and provided the answer.

    Well, I can explain to you what a thought experiment is and how it can and cannot be interpreted and what logically follows from it and what not, but I cannot understand it for you.
    Try to read and understand:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_experiment

  124. Irenicus, quit trying to school people on thought experiments. Your problem isn’t that we don’t know what they are. Your problem is that yours isn’t very good. Tell you what: while you’re over there on Wikipedia, look up the Dunning Kruger effect.

    Take this for example:

    I don´t. There are no differenceS (plural) and there is not just an “appearance” of similarity. There is just one “difference”. And that “difference” is in the way how both groups got to be the way they are, the process that created them – that´s it.

    If one of them being created specially by God bears God’s image, and if there’s no difference between the two, then both groups bear God’s image and have the accompanying moral worth and moral duties, just as theists say is the case for those who bear God’s image.

    Or maybe neither of them bears God’s image, and the group that was specially created is on the same ontological level as all of nature including rocks, trees, and CO molecules. Then there’s no reason to think either group has any moral worth or moral duties — which is what theists say follows from naturalism.

    Which is it? You have a choice: they both bear God’s image and our argument proceeds from there, or neither bears God’s image and our argument proceeds from there.

    But there’s more. You said the only difference was in “the process that created them.l” That includes an unintentional depersonalization. In the one case it’s not a process that creates them, it’s a Person. You’ve misunderstood Christian theism at its very roots.

    Note that if your God in this thought experiment is some other kind of God who, for example, doesn’t imbue his human special creation with his own image, then we’re off into complete irrelevance again. In that case you’d be asking something like this:

    Why should we see any moral difference between one kind of human not created in God’s image and another kind of human not created in God’s image?

    The theist’s answer would be that there’s no reason to see any moral difference there at all. And that the question is irrelevant to theism, too.

  125. Tom,

    Irenicus, quit trying to school people on thought experiments. Your problem isn’t that we don’t know what they are.

    I didn´t talk about you, I talked about BillT. And BillT “criticizes” that “[I] have no basis (in fact) to impose that condition” – and that is a completely ridiculous criticism that someone who understands what a thought experiment is (conceptually) would never make.

    Which is it? You have a choice: they both bear God’s image and our argument proceeds from there, or neither bears God’s image and our argument proceeds from there.

    I already told you everything you need to know, the only difference is the process that created them, period. Both would have the exact same kind of sentience, they would be both conscious and self-aware, they would both be able to experience the same range of emotions as a consequence of the same effects, they would both have the same desires, they would both have the same kind of moral faculties, they would both have the same reasoning faculties and intuitions, they would both have the same kind of will and so on and so forth ad nauseam – no difference at all beyond the process that created them.
    That doesn´t lead to any difference in moral duties, and therefore, your claim that it matters (from a moral perspective) how we got to be the way we are now, is false.

    But there’s more. You said the only difference was in “the process that created them.l” That includes an unintentional depersonalization. In the one case it’s not a process that creates them, it’s a Person.

    That includes no “depersonalization” at all because the word “process” can both be used for a series of spontaneous events that produce a certain result and for a series of events that involves deliberate personal choices.

  126. Irenicus, you were talking to me at the end of #137.

    You don’t understand the difference between etiology and ontology. You don’t understand the point of being a bearer of God’s image; you just brushed off the most crucial question. You don’t understand the word “process” as it applies to theism: it’s impossible to apply it univocally to God and to material processes (or anything resembling material processes).

    And you think the problem is that we don’t get what a thought experiment is.

  127. So let’s try again. In your thought experiment where the two groups of humans are identical in every way, are they bearers of God’s image or not?

    The question matters. You cannot simply brush it aside, at least not without further cementing your position as one who argues without understanding.

  128. Tom,

    Irenicus, you were talking to me at the end of #137.

    No. I talked to you in the middle of #137 as indicated by the @Tom, I talked to BillT at the end of #137 as might have been obvious by me responding to his words without any indication that I´m talking to someone else as I did in the middle of #137-

    You don’t understand the difference between etiology and ontology.

    Wrong, I do understand that very well.

    You don’t understand the point of being a bearer of God’s image;

    Indeed. And I couldn´t care less about obfuscatory theobabble.

    you just brushed off the most crucial question.

    No I did not. I made perfectly clear what is different (the process that created them) and what is not (what the beings in question actually are).

    You don’t understand the word “process” as it applies to theism: it’s impossible to apply it univocally to God and to material processes (or anything resembling material processes).

    Well, I was trying it with english, feel free to mentally substitute “process” by whatever theobabble you prefer.

    And you think the problem is that we don’t get what a thought experiment is.

    For BillT, that most certainly is the case, as is evident by his complaining about me having no “factual basis” to phrase the thought experiment the way I did.

  129. Tom,

    So let’s try again. In your thought experiment where the two groups of humans are identical in every way, are they bearers of God’s image or not?

    I have no idea what “God´s image” even means, and if wikipedia is not completely misleading on that issue, neither does anyone else:
    “There have been many interpretations of the idea of God’s image from ancient times until today, and Biblical scholars still have no consensus about the meaning of the term. The remainder of this article focuses on Christian interpretations of the term.

    To assert that humans are created in the image of God may mean to recognize some special qualities of human nature which allow God to be made manifest in humans. For humans to have a conscious recognition of having been made in the image of God may mean that they are aware of being that part of the creation through whom God’s plans and purposes best can be expressed and actualized; humans, in this way, can interact creatively with the rest of creation. The moral implications of the doctrine of Imago Dei are apparent in the fact that, if humans are to love God, then humans must love other humans whom God has created (cf. John 13:35), as each is an expression of God. The human likeness to God can also be understood by contrasting it with that which does not image God, i.e., beings who, as far as we know, are without this spiritual self-awareness and the capacity for spiritual / moral reflection and growth. We may say that humans differ from all other creatures because of the self-reflective, rational nature of their thought processes – their capacity for abstract, symbolic as well as concrete deliberation and decision-making. This capacity gives the human a centeredness and completeness which allows the possibility for self-actualization and participation in a sacred reality (cf. Acts 17:28). ”

    “Self-reflective, rational nature” is still very vague, but that is at least somewhat specific and intelligible. I have no idea whether that is relevant for what you consider “God´s image” to be, but it doesn´t matter, because, as I have told you many times already – there would not be any difference except for the difference in how they were created, that´s it, so whatever human attributes “God´s image” refers to, they´d be included either way.

  130. Obfuscatory theobabble? Look, if you don’t want to understand the implications of our position, and you don’t want to understand what your own questions are about, just say say so and make a graceful exit.

    The image of God in humans is absolutely central to Christian theism. To wave it off as you’ve done is nothing short of intellectual irresponsibility. It reveals not only ignorance of the topic under discussion but a complete disregard for learning what the discussion is about.

    So I’m inviting you to make a choice: either try to understand what you’re disputing or admit you don’t give a you-know-what what we think.

    Let us know which you decide.

  131. For this discussions, the relevant factor in being made in God’s image is that there is an ontological distinction between humans and the rest of God’s creation, none of which likewise bears his image. To be image-bearers means we share some of God’s qualities, including rationality and moral knowledge and responsibility, neither of which are explainable on material terms alone.

    So if your hypothetical two groups have God’s image in them, they both have moral knowledge and responsibility and should be treated equally in that light. If they are not bearers of God’s image they are part of the amoral natural order and should be treated equally in that light. Either way our argument moves forward.

  132. Still if you think you’re interacting with “theobabble,” recognize that calling your opponent’s position names is no way to show that you understand it and no way to undercut it.

    It’s more reminiscent of the playground than of intellectual interaction.

  133. Irenicus,

    Let’s try again. From the article you posted.

    The moral implications of the doctrine of Imago Dei are apparent in the fact that, if humans are to love God, then humans must love other humans whom God has created (cf. John 13:35), as each is an expression of God.

    This is in line with what I wrote above. Can you explain what or how your thought experiment showed this to be false or an unsupportable position. And if that wasn’t what you were trying to show, can you explain what it was you think your though experiment showed?

  134. Tom,

    The image of God in humans is absolutely central to Christian theism.

    You cannot expect me to define this term for you and you also cannot expect me to rely on some standard definition because there isn´t one.

    To wave it off as you’ve done…

    Well, remember what I said here:
    “Both would have the exact same kind of sentience, they would be both conscious and self-aware, they would both be able to experience the same range of emotions as a consequence of the same effects, they would both have the same desires, they would both have the same kind of moral faculties, they would both have the same reasoning faculties and intuitions, they would both have the same kind of will and so on and so forth ad nauseam…”
    – I indeed didn´t know what you had in mind with “God´s image”, and my point was that whatever human characteristics it corresponds to, they would be included because I´m not excluding anything and explicitly say that all that is “different” is the way how those beings got to be the way they are.

    For this discussions, the relevant factor in being made in God’s image is that there is an ontological distinction between humans and the rest of God’s creation, none of which likewise bears his image. To be image-bearers means we share some of God’s qualities, including rationality and moral knowledge and responsibility, neither of which are explainable on material terms alone.

    But I already said that the two groups of beings would not differ in that respect, I explicitly said that they would have the *same* rational, emotional and moral faculties (and so on, and so forth). So if that´s what “God´s image” means, then the two groups are not different in that respect.
    Whether those faculties could be reduced to (or could emerge from) matter is not relevant because I never presupposed materialism for that thought experiment – we can also explicitly deny materialism for it if you prefer and just say that God created a universe that cannot be described by materialism (but rather some form of dualism or idealism wrt the ontology of minds, and some kind of platonic realism (or whatever you prefer) wrt the ontology of moral truth) in that thought experiment. Again, materialism is a complete non issue for the thought experiment as I phrased it.
    All that matters for the conclusion is that the hypothetical God created something that is, for lack of a better word, “autonomous” or “free” from him – “free” in the exact same sense as the human will would be “free” under libertarian free will, i.e. free to lead to results that are not pre-determined by God willing them to happen.

    So if your hypothetical two groups have God’s image in them, they both have moral knowledge and responsibility and should be treated equally in that light.

    Well then my thought experiment demonstrated exactly what it was meant to demonstrate – there would be no difference between the two groups wrt moral duties because the (hypothetical) different ways for how we got to be what we are now do NOT lead to differences wrt our moral duties.

  135. If your hypothetical world produces humans that are that exactly alike then your conclusion would be valid.

    What matters is humans’ ontological status. For this the question of origins is still vitally important. Do you see how?

  136. @Irenicus:

    If you design an object for the purpose of doing x, but some accident (lets say a storm) damages the object and now it is only capable of doing y, then someone could look at it and make the intellectual judgment “that thing should be able to do x, but apparently it has been damaged so that it can only do y” – but you can NOT say that the function of this object is therefore “irrational”. That the object does y instead of x is neither the consequence of rationality, nor of irrationality – it has a non-rational reason. And the same is true for Feser´s hypothetical three-legged dog or a psychopath.

    Since I have little patience for your misunderstandings and inability to read, much less the Endurance (or, to think of it, the skill) to correct them, this will be going nowhere, so peace and God bless you.

    note(s):;
    – this also goes for the other conversation in the other thread “A Very Strange and Sad Day for Life and Religion in Law…”.

  137. Well then my thought experiment demonstrated exactly what it was meant to demonstrate – there would be no difference between the two groups wrt moral duties because the (hypothetical) different ways for how we got to be what we are now do NOT lead to differences wrt our moral duties.

    Irenicus,

    If you think your thought experiment showed this would ,necessarily be true for any world, I think you need to think about this more carefully. By your own admission:

    But I already said that the two groups of beings would not differ in that respect, I explicitly said that they would have the *same* rational, emotional and moral faculties (and so on, and so forth).

    Don’t you see that the only thing that makes the two groups “not differ in that respect” is that you “said that the two groups of beings would not differ in that respect”. That’s it. Because you claim they aren’t different in that respect therefore they necessarily are?

    So, if we restate your position based on your thought experiment, (and using your words hopefully within your intent) we will “have the *same* rational, emotional and moral faculties (and so on, and so forth)” no matter what were “the (hypothetical) different ways for how we got to be what we are” because you said so. Fair? So, this shows you can make things up and that they’re true for the world you made up. Correct?

    If I’m reading this too narrowly, please explain how your thought experiment shows that to be true for any world (or God) not of your own invention.

  138. G. Rodrigues @ #151,

    I feel your frustration, which is why I no longer wade into these kind of discussions.

    I am trying to figure out where Irenicus is really coming from. Is he motivated by (1) arrogance, anger and dishonesty, or (2) insecurity, or (3) irrationality? (Or something else?) If it’s #1 I don’t see much point in engaging him any further. If it’s #2 we need to challenge him. If atheism is the only rational alternative why does one need to show up on a Christian site to validate it? As far as #3, judging so far from what he has written that speaks for itself. (I don’t mean that as a compliment.) To be fair I know evangelical Christians who engage same kind of fallacious reasoning for (example, the KJV only-ists) and are just as stubborn about admitting the errors in their reasoning. Of course, it could it could be a combination of all three but let’s not get bogged down there.

    I’m asking what Irenicus’ motives are. Maybe he can tell us. After all, he should know, shouldn’t he? Why wouldn’t he?

  139. The non-rational blood clot which damages a slice of the wad of non-rationally conditioned neuronal reflexes (brain) and thereby causes brain damage “ontologically equates to“, per our Non-Theist friends, the “fact” that the patient isn’t actually wrong, mistaken, incorrect, etc., when he attempts to open the refrigerator with his car keys.

    That may work if Mind [1] determines, invents, and defines truths external to the Self rather than [2] perceives, discovers, and apprehends said truths. [1] and [2] are, literally, paradigms apart.

    Regarding moral facts, car keys, and refrigerator doors:

    Wrong.
    Mistaken.
    Incorrect.

    Despite the irrational thought experiments of our Non-Theist friends, the ontological status of Man (literally) cannot exist in some pretend “metaphysical vacuum” wrt inescapable necessities pressing upon Reason as truth-finder amid the contours and essence of irreducible love verses irreducible indifference. And, also, and for all the same reasons, Man cannot exist in any such vacuum wrt Being Itself and therein wrt Goodness Itself verses – yet again – irreducible indifference.

    Appealing to nuances of Occasionalism and other Non-Christian fictions cannot successfully fund such Non-Theistic absurdities in such irrational thought experiments. In fact, that our Non-Theist friends must create such anti-intellectual “metaphysical vacuums” just to get some small bit of traction only reveals how hopeless the attempt is.

    Hume and Feser have it right: Given the toolbox of Non-Theism or, if it helps, on Non-Theism it is not irrational per se to desire the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of one’s finger given Non-Theism’s stopping point of evolutionary morality vis-à-vis the wad of non-rationally conditioned neuronal reflexes inside our skulls. “-Tis not contrary to reason to prefer….. ” In fact, it is not only that it *isn’t* irrational, but the state of affairs is so committed to its metaphysical terminus of explanation that it is also the case that Non-Theism cannot, even in principle, be irrational inside of that arena.

    Factually speaking, on ought and on love’s irreducible – immutable – means and ends there is no such actuality and indeed can be no such actually as reason’s discovery . There is only desire’s invention which is itself begotten by the hands of indifference within those wads of non-rationally conditioned neuronal reflexes inside our skulls.

    On Theism alone is it the case that the following statement is in fact factually wrong about Reason as truth-finder:

    “-Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. -Tis not contrary to reason for me to choose my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. -Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than for the latter.” (Treatise of Human Nature 2.3.3.6).

  140. Tom,

    What matters is human’s ontological status. For this the question of origins is still vitally important.

    No, it isn´t. You seem to assume that the “ontological status” of two things cannot be the same if they were created in different ways, and that´s, at least as a general principle, just false. Example:
    When a yeast cell synthesizes a Hexokinase protein (thing A) and a human biologist synthesizes one in a lab (thing B) and then inserts it into the yeast cell – the two proteins are ontologically the same, although they were created in completely different ways.
    And the same applies to my thought experiment, there is no ontological difference between the two kinds of beings, they only differ in how they were created, and that´s why your and BillT´s claims about the alleged moral importance of how we got to be the way we are, is false.

  141. BillT,

    So, this shows you can make things up and that they’re true for the world you made up. Correct?

    No. I made things up to illustrate the consequences of a principle.
    I´ll go back to the example of Galileo – Galileo used a very famous thought experiment (I´m sure you´ve heard of it before) to show that Aristotle was wrong about gravity. The thought experiment involved two objects (which are connected by a rope) that are thrown off a tower. Now, it is completely irrelevant what those two objects are made out of – Galileo could have said that one is made out of fairy dust and the other made out of Dragonbone (with the latter being heavier than the former), and that those two materials are fictional is *completely irrelevant* for his conclusion.
    You could not say “but Galileo assumed that fairy dust and dragonbone exists, but those materials don´t exist in our world!!” as a valid objection to Galileo´s thought experiment if he had phrased it that way. It doesn´t matter that those materials don´t exist in our world, Galileo´s conclusion would follow either way and would demonstrate that Aristotle was wrong either way. It is only about the underlying principles of the thought experiment and what does (and does not) logically follow from those principles.

  142. JAD,

    I’m asking what Irenicus’ motives are. Maybe he can tell us.

    I´ve read the toxic sludge that have been your comments in this thread so far. And at least wrt the issues that have been talked about here, you are the perfect storm of arrogance and ignorance. And given your unbelievable level of contempt directed at people like myself, I´m not going to respond to you any further – I´d rather engage a member of the Westboro Baptist Church.

  143. Finally.

    We have a straight answer.

    Ontology doesn’t matter!

    So far:

    [1] Man is placed inside of unintelligible metaphysical vacuums so that the actual state of affairs remains untouched.

    [2] Ontological status has no impact on the actual state of affairs.

    Wow.

  144. scbrownlhrm,

    Finally.

    We have a straight answer.

    Ontology doesn’t matter!

    Where is that “straight answer”, and who gave it?

  145. Irenicus,

    The non-rational blood clot which damages a slice of the wad of non-rationally conditioned neuronal reflexes (brain) and thereby causes brain damage “ontologically equates to“, per your magical metaphysical vacuum, the “fact” that the patient isn’t actually wrong, mistaken, incorrect, etc., when he attempts to open the refrigerator with his car keys.

    Moral Facts evade you — as final causes evade you — and hence your magic vacuum fails.

    Stroke victims have moral feelings.

    They may be different than yours.

    But in your paradigm that is irrelevant.

    We’re still left with this intellectual mess regarding Ought:

    [1] Man is placed inside of unintelligible metaphysical vacuums so that the actual state of affairs remains untouched.

    [2] Ontological status has no impact on the actual state of affairs.

  146. scbrownlhrm

    Finally.

    We have a straight answer.

    Ontology doesn’t matter!

    Where is that “straight answer”, and who gave it?

  147. Irenicus,

    The stroke victim is not irrational — does not offend reason as truth finder — to desire the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of one’s finger.

    Nor can any other human being, stroke or not, be irrational to so desire — on Non-Theism. In your paradigm there is no such thing as the morally unreasonable. The Self hears only the sound of her own voice — with no contradiction hitting her from the ocean of paradigmatic indifference constituting all motion.

    You’ve yet to show otherwise.

    Please ontologically locate for us your moral facts.

    If you can.

    If ontology matters — then please present us with said location.

  148. Irenicus,

    We know that metaphysics and ontology do not matter in your thought experiment’s magical vacuum.

    But *you* are the one claiming that it *therefore* coheres with *reality* *outside* of said vacuum.

    The ontological status does *not* matter in your vacuum.

    We get that.

    Therefore, *you* are the one claiming that in *reality* ontology and metaphysics don’t matter even *outside* of your magical vacuum.

    Or do you mean for us *only* to apply it *inside* of your magical vacuum?

    You are not being misquoted *unless* you mean for *reality* *outside* of said vacuum to be off the table / out of the discussion.

    Tom asked you if the ontological status matters.

    You said no.

    In your vacuum.

    Yeah. Sure. We get that.

    It works in fairy tales.

    But does it work *outside* of your magical vacuum *also*? If you say *yes* then you yourself are claiming that ontology wrt Man does *not* matter.

    *If* that is the case, then you have this:

    Pure epistemology. Zero ontology.

  149. scbrownlhrm,

    Tom asked you if the ontological status matters.

    You said no.

    That is as clear a violation of item #11 of the discussion policy here as any comment could be, and I´m just left to wonder how often you intend to continue to spit on the discussion policies of this place.

  150. Irenicsus,

    What matters is human’s ontological status. For this the question of origins is still vitally important. Do you see how?

  151. scbrownlhrm

    For the fifth time:

    Finally.

    We have a straight answer.

    Ontology doesn’t matter!

    Where is that “straight answer”, and who gave it?

    Also, for the third time, please have a look at the discussion policies of this forum, especially items #8 and #11:
    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2007/12/discussion-policy/

    And finally, do you have any intentions to apologize for this lie or do you rather intend to repeat it as often as possible?

    Tom asked you if the ontological status matters.

    You said no.

  152. Irenicus,

    Tom: What matters is human’s ontological status. For this the question of origins is still vitally important. Do you see how?

    You: No, it isn´t.

    Despite your irrational thought experiment of vacuums void of ontological status vis-a-vis origins, and worse, the ontological status of Man (literally) cannot exist in some pretend “metaphysical vacuum” wrt inescapable necessities pressing upon Reason as truth-finder amid the contours and essence of irreducible love verses irreducible indifference. And, also, and for all the same reasons, Man cannot exist in any such vacuum wrt Being Itself and therein wrt Goodness Itself verses – yet again – irreducible indifference.

    You disagree.

    We get that.

    Because ontology (origins, final causes, lack of teleology, etc….) and metaphysical realities do not impact X’s inside of your vacuum.

    Or are you saying something else?

    If so, please clarify.

  153. scbrownlhrm

    For the sixth time:

    Finally.

    We have a straight answer.

    Ontology doesn’t matter!

    Where is that “straight answer”, and who gave it?

    Also, for the fourth time, please have a look at the discussion policies of this forum, especially items #8 and #11:
    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2007/12/discussion-policy/

    And finally, you have now made clear that you don´t want to apologize for this lie here:

    Tom asked you if the ontological status matters.

    You said no.

    – since you seem to identify as a Christian, that might be a good opportunity for you to get up to speed on what the Bible has to say about lying:
    http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/lying-bible-verses/

  154. Irenicus,

    Please clarify where you’ve been misrepresented.

    How about comment #169? The word origins is in there several times.

    Please show us where in that comment you are being misrepresented.

    Have we read you wrong?

    If so, how?

  155. scbrownlhrm,
    scbrownlhrm

    For the seventh time:

    Finally.

    We have a straight answer.

    Ontology doesn’t matter!

    Where is that “straight answer”, and who gave it? Since I have asked you six times before without you being able to produce this alleged “straight answer” and since you shamelessly repeat the same lie over and over again (see below) – it seems that you have been lying about this alleged “straight answer” as well.

    Also, for the fifth time, please have a look at the discussion policies of this forum, especially items #8 and #11:
    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2007/12/discussion-policy/

    The lie you keep repeating:

    Tom asked you if the ontological status matters.

    You said no.

    – this is unambiguously a lie.
    I responded to “What matters is human’s ontological status. For this the question of origins is still vitally important. ” with “No, it isn´t” – it is impossible to miss that the “it” refers to “questions of origins” and not to “ontological status” because else, I would have a) stopped quoting Tom after “ontological status” before giving that answer and b) would have needed to write “No it DOES not” instead of “No, it IS not”.
    Lying about me would be bad enough, not apologizing for the lie would be worse, and not apologizing AND just repeating the lie over and over again is downright despicable.

    http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/lying-bible-verses/

  156. Irenicus,

    That is exactly the point I made. You are making the bizarre claim that ontology (origins, final causes, lack of teleology, etc….) isn’t relevant to current ontological status.

    It’s a nonsense claim.

    Or do you mean that only *some* [ontology] impacts current [ontological] status? You know, not origins and not final causes, but, say, current neuronal reflexes?

    Or what?

    Can you clarify?

  157. scbrownlhrm

    That is exactly the point I made. You are making the bizarre claim that ontology (origins, final causes, lack of teleology, etc….) isn’t relevant to current ontological status.

    No, that wasn´t “exactly the point you made”, the “point” you did rather make was a complete lie as has been exhaustively documented above.
    And the “point” you are now trying to make that “ontology isn´t relevant to current ontological status” is also something you made up and that doesn´t have anything to do with what I actually said (i.e. you try to substitute your old lie for a new lie). Although for this new lie, one could go with Hanlon’s razor (“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”).

  158. Irenicus,

    So you are saying:

    [A] [ontology], you know, origins, final causes, etc…, actually *DOES* impact current [ontological] status?

    Or is it the way I stated it earlier…..

    [B] ….does *NOT* impact current……? ….. Only *some* ontology impacts current ontological status….?

    Or are both of those lies?

    Or what?

  159. scbrownlhrm

    Oh. So you are saying that [ontology], you know, origins, final causes, etc…, actually *DOES* impact current [ontological] status?

    Not quite. The ontology of x does not “impact” the “ontological status of x”, it rather IS the ontological status of x – “ontology of x” and “ontological status of x” are perfectly synonymous.

    Or are both of those lies?

    No, one is a lie and the other was close to being correct but phrased in a very confused way.

  160. Irenicus, you said,

    No, it isn´t. You seem to assume that the “ontological status” of two things cannot be the same if they were created in different ways, and that´s, at least as a general principle, just false.

    What I said was, “What matters is humans’ ontological status. For this the question of origins is still vitally important. Do you see how?”

    You took that to mean,

    1. A and B cannot have the same ontological status if they have differing etiologies in two different ways.

    (I’m borrowing the medical term “etiology” to speak broadly of “where or how something originated.”)

    And to that reading, you delivered a flat “No.” Which would be correct if that was the only way my statement could be read. Apparently you think it was.

    But you are wrong. This was what I was wondering whether you could see:

    2. If A and B have different etiologies it’s broadly logically possible that they could have different ontological statuses. Therefore the origins question is still vitally important.

    And indeed this is the claim Christianity makes:

    That humans were created by God in the image of God, and that therefore we are not exactly the same as the rest of the material world. We have a spiritual nature, we have rational capabilities, we have the ability to make personal decisions not perfectly controlled by physical reactions in our brains, we have unique moral worth, we have moral duties and responsibilities that differ from those of animals, and so on.

    (By the way, this isn’t an argument over evolution. Suppose humans evolved as organisms. They were still chosen specially by God to be carriers of his image: to become ontologically more than animals, to acquire a rational and spiritual nature, free will, moral worth and duties, etc.)

  161. Irenicus,

    Great.

    But it’s nonsense.

    Because fundamentally different ontological sets of irreducible causations soaked through every bit of all effects of said causations do not, and cannot, yield identical ontologies. Effects cannot exist in a vacuum. If ontology matters, then you’ve a false identity claim as A = B is irreducibly false.

  162. Irenicus, in just one hour’s time you accused scbrownlhrm 15 times of lying. You also threw in intimations of stupidity, and you condescendingly suggested that he needed your help discovering that the Bible is not in favor of lying.

    One way to describe my goals here is irenic discussion. You are not living up to your name.

    Calm down, okay?

  163. Tom,

    But you are wrong. This was what I was wondering whether you could see:

    2. If A and B have different etiologies it’s broadly logically possible that they could have different ontological statuses. Therefore the origins question is still vitally important.

    That would also be true if they have the same etiology. The same etiology does not guarantee the same ontological status and different etiology does not guarantee different ontological status.

    That humans were created by God in the image of God, and that therefore we are not exactly the same as the rest of the material world.

    And if you change the “therefore” but everything else stays equal (i.e. – we are the same beings but the reasons for our existence are different), that would have no consequences for morality, and this is what I kept pointing out.

    By the way, this isn’t an argument over evolution. Suppose humans evolved as organisms. They were still chosen specially by God to be carriers of his image: to become ontologically more than animals, to acquire a rational and spiritual nature, free will, moral worth and duties, etc.

    And my thought experiment was intended to demonstrate that this is just as true if God would not have *chosen* this (the hypothetical God in my thought experiment did not choose the outcome of the evolutionary process that he set in motion) – all that matters is what we actually are, and not how we got to be that way.

  164. scbrownlhrm,

    Because fundamentally different ontological sets of irreducible causations soaked through every bit of all effects of said causations do not, and cannot, yield identical ontologies.

    Aha, so “fundamentally different ontological sets of irreducible causations” are “soaked through every bit of all effects” of those very same(!) “causations” and that´s why those “ontological sets of irreducible causations” cannot be identical to themselves. Beautiful 😀

  165. That would also be true if they have the same etiology. The same etiology does not guarantee the same ontological status and different etiology does not guarantee different ontological status.

    Correct. That’s what “broadly logically possible” means in this context.

    And if you change the “therefore” but everything else stays equal (i.e. – we are the same beings but the reasons for our existence are different), that would have no consequences for morality, and this is what I kept pointing out.

    No, my point wasn’t, “the reasons for our existence are different.” My point was, “the nature of our existence is different because something in our history made it different.” We are of a different nature than the animals. This has consequences for morality.

    Your position, I think, is that if we all came from the same place/had the same kind of origins, that would have no impact on morality. Our position is this: that if all the world is strictly material/natural in every way without exception, then morality is a category that doesn’t fit into reality in any way. That’s because natural objects interacting entirely according to natural law (regularities, however you want to describe it) cannot make morally significant choices.

    So if the ontology of all reality is strictly natural, then objective, real moral duties and values do not exist; the morality we live by is an illusion or counterfeit of some sort; there is no real morality.

    But if the ontology of humans is such that we have a spiritual nature as well as a physical one, then it’s possible for moral duties and values to be real.

    That’s what our position is. I don’t know if that’s the position you think you are contesting or disputing.

    I do know that you’d be a whole lot more interesting interlocutor if you would cut out the repeated accusations of lying (see 179).

  166. And my thought experiment was intended to demonstrate that this is just as true if God would not have *chosen* this (the hypothetical God in my thought experiment did not choose the outcome of the evolutionary process that he set in motion) – all that matters is what we actually are, and not how we got to be that way.

    Your thought experiment failed to show what you thought it showed. Sorry.

    This is a dispute over current ontology. Etiology matters because it helps us understand current ontology, but the dispute is over current ontology.

    In fact I’m willing to drop the origins question altogether, setting it aside as unresolved and apparently unresolvable between us, and focusing strictly on what humans are; our difference from the rest of material reality.

    How about we do that?

  167. Irenicus,

    If you want to exclude fundamentally different causations in the two different paradigms, and thereby exclude the necessarily different effects of those (different) causations, then your A = B works. But if you don’t exclude causations / effects, then you’ve only a false identity claim.

    It’s that simple.

  168. Irenicus,

    If you change all definitions in all paradigms to equate to purely material essence, purely material causations, purely material effects, purely material means, and purely material ends, then A = B.

    But what have you actually accomplished there other than to say exactly nothing?

  169. Tom,

    No, my point wasn’t, “the reasons for our existence are different.” My point was, “the nature of our existence is different because something in our history made it different.” We are of a different nature than the animals. This has consequences for morality.

    And what that “something” is that made the “difference” is irrelevant, if you change that “something” but end up with the same “difference”, then there are no consequences for morality at all.

    Your position, I think, is that if we all came from the same place/had the same kind of origins, that would have no impact on morality.

    No. My position has been that our origins per se (!) are completely irrelevant for morality, all that matters for morality is what we are, not how we got to be that way.

    This is a dispute over current ontology.

    No, it wasn´t, at least not until now. It was a dispute over whether different origins entail different ontology, esp. differences wrt moral duties.
    I claimed that it only matters (for morality) what we are, while how we got to be that way is irrelevant per se. BillT and you disagreed with me on that – and I tried to demonstrate (successfully IMO) that it indeed only matters what we are, while the question of our origins per se is not relevant.

    I do know that you’d be a whole lot more interesting interlocutor if you would cut out the repeated accusations of lying (see 179).

    scbrownlhrm repeatedly claimed that I said something which I never said, scbrownlhrm was informed that I never said it, was challenged to actually produce a quote of mine that supports his claim, and was unable to do so (despite being challenged many times to provide some support for his claim about what I allegedly said).
    And despite that scbrownlhrm repeated the same false claim over and over again. I call this behaviour – repeating a claim that he knew to be false – “lying”. And you object to me calling scbrownlhrm a liar for repeating a claim that he knew to be false but you don´t object to scbrownlhrm´s behaviour. How am I supposed to interpret this other than assuming that lying is ok for you (at least when scbrownlhrm does it) but calling out a lie is not?

  170. scbrownlhrm is hard to interpret sometimes. So are you.

    I don’t know whether he was lying or whether there was missed communication.

    I didn’t call you out merely for accusing him of lying. I called you out for doing it fifteen times in one hour.

  171. scbrownlhrm

    If you change all definitions in all paradigms to equate to purely material…

    I was about to challenge you to quote something from me where I actually said that, but since you do seem to enjoy Narrenfreiheit here, I´ll just let you continue tilting at windmills.

    then A = B

    Indeed:
    “Because fundamentally different ontological sets of irreducible causations soaked through every bit of all effects of said causations do not, and cannot, yield identical ontologies. ” 😀

  172. This is a dispute over current ontology.

    No, it wasn´t, at least not until now. It was a dispute over whether different origins entail different ontology, esp. differences wrt moral duties.

    The dispute you refer to arose in the context of a dispute over current ontology. See point 6 in the OP.

  173. Irenicus,

    If you want to exclude fundamentally different causations in the two different paradigms, and thereby exclude the necessarily different effects of those (different) causations, then your A = B works. But if you don’t exclude causations / effects, then you’ve only a false identity claim.

    It’s that simple.

    Do you disagree?

    If so, please explain how [A = causations/effects] which are fundamentally (irreducibly) different than [B = causations/effects] gets you to A = B.

  174. scbrownlhrm.

    If so, please explain how [A = causations/effects] which are fundamentally (irreducibly) different than [B = causations/effects] gets you to A = B.

    I already did. If a yeast cell synthesizes Hexokinase molecules through protein biosynthesis and a chemist synthesizes Hexokinase molecules through native chemical ligation and inserts them into the same yeast cell, then the resulting molecules are ontologically the same – despite being produced through completely different causes.

  175. Irenicus,

    You’re assuming that final causes (and so on in Christian causations) do not exist.

    Hence not only have you failed to explain the morality of yeast, but you can’t.

    If you mean to say that Man and Yeast are equally moral — then well done.

    That is accurate as far as we are concerned.

    Or do you want to try again?

  176. Tom,

    The dispute you refer to arose in the context of a dispute over current ontology. See point 6 in the OP.

    And right at the beginning of the ensuing conversation you asked me:
    “I ask, can our actions as individuals be distinguished from the process that’s creating our descendants?”
    – and the answer is, yes they can.

    There is also a dispute over ontology, sure (not just between atheists and theists, there are also plenty of disputes between theists and theists or between atheists and atheists), but that wasn´t what >95% of the comment thread has been about.

  177. scbrownlhrm

    You’re assuming that final causes (and so on in Christian causations) do not exist.

    Another iteration of scbrownlhrm tilting at windmills.

    Hence not only have you failed to explain the morality of yeast, but you can’t.

    1. You ask how different causes could possibly lead to results that are ontologically the same.
    2. I tell you that I already answered that and give you a specific example for this.
    3. Your mind short-circuits and reboots, leading to data loss so that you completely forget what you have been asking (#1).
    4. Your mind desperately tries to fill in the blanks (“he talked about a yeast cell, and earlier, there was also something about morality… I know! I must have asked him to explain the morality of yeast! Thanks brain!”)

    This is amusing, but seriously, you need professional help.

  178. Irenicus,

    You’re still incoherent on two counts.

    [1] / First:

    You’re ignoring morality. That is what the thread is about. You offer us Yeast.

    Well okay.

    Let’s go with that.

    It’s *your* analysis.

    So far, on morality, Yeast and Man are equal.

    [2] / Second:

    The molecular structure is not equal in the two paradigms — that is to say — the ontological status of Yeast isn’t the same in the two paradigms *unless* you isolate that current molecular structure and put it in a vacuum free of all which precedes it and all which lay ahead of it and all causations *within* it (final causes in theism vs. indifference in non-theism).

    So you are *still* saying that ontological status is *un*affected by ontology (origins, final causes, teleology, indifference, etc….).

    Which is fine. If that is all you’ve set out to do.

    Because you’ve not gotten any further than [1] and [2] here.

  179. Irenicus,

    It’s not the morality of yeast per se — it’s morality period given that they (Yeast) do not have the same ontological status in A and in B. You seem to think you’ve established that Yeast in A and Yeast in B have the same ontological status.

    You haven’t.

    Because a make-believe vacuum free of ontology’s causes/effects is nonsense.

  180. Irenicus, when you start telling other commenters here that they’re suffering from a pathology requiring professional help, you’re crossing the line.

    RE-READ the discussion policies.

    Three choices from there:

    1. Join in an irenic discussion.
    2. Or leave.
    3. Or be escorted out.

    And please don’t patronize. I know that 95% of the discussion has been about origins. You really didn’t need to explain that. I made an intentional request that we set that aside as unresolved/unresolvable so we could proceed to the larger issue of ontology.

    Re-read the discussion policies

  181. scbrownlhrm: I’m going to suggest that you use different terminology in sentences like this one:

    So you are *still* saying that ontological status is *un*affected by ontology (origins, final causes, teleology, indifference, etc….).

    I think what you mean by “ontology” here is something else. Ontology usually/properly refers to present status, not to history. I’ve borrowed the medical term “etiology” for the origin and history behind an entity’s current reality/ontology.

    I think a lot of your dispute with Irenicus comes from your using ontology in an etiological sense.

  182. Irenicus,

    This of mine:

    “Because a make-believe vacuum free of ontology’s causes/effects is nonsense.”

    …seems sloppy with “ontology’s causes….”

    …..So it may be more proper if it is worded this way:

    Because a make-believe vacuum free of ontological causes / effects is nonsense.

    Etc….

  183. scbrownlhrm

    You’re ignoring morality. That is what the thread is about. You offer us Yeast.

    Wrong, you are rather incapable of remembering what you asked just a few minutes earlier.

    So far, on morality, Yeast and Man are equal.

    That is a rather strange position but if you insist on Yeast and Man being morally equal, be my guest.

    The molecular structure is not equal in the two paradigms — that is to say — the ontological status of Yeast isn’t the same in the two paradigms *unless* you isolate that current molecular structure and put it in a vacuum free of all which precedes it and all which lay ahead of it and all causations *within* it (final causes in theism vs. indifference in non-theism).

    Hint: For the Aristotelian, only the material and formal causes of x are internal causes and thus part of the ontology of x, the efficient and final causes of x are *external* causes and thus part of the ontology of the processes in which x *changes* – they are not part of the ontology of x itself.

  184. Tom,

    Let me know if this works, as it is my approach here:

    It seems that the current ontological status of “X” is defined by three things:

    [1] causations/effects leading to its current actualization (current state)

    [2] causations/effects within it said X (final causes vs. indifference and so on are, right now, ongoing)

    [3] causations/effects which lay up ahead of said X

    We can get rid of [1] and [3], but we cannot get rid of [2] as [2] just is the current state of affairs (current ontological status).

    Right now, here, this very second, Final Causes (etc.) on the one hand, or, Indifference (etc.) on the other hand, within every bit of “me” (etc.) absolutely and irreducibly impacts definition.

  185. Irenicus,

    Yes, and, right now, there is no chain of causation in AT Meta but for the chain. Don’t be fooled by the Final Causes. Note the “Etc.”

    Why “Etc.”?

    Because vacuums don’t exist.

    You wish to slice out one link in the chain and call it quits.

    So, again, you are diving into that vacuum.

    That God exists as Goodness Himself impacts every link from A to Z.

    Do you deny this?

    If you do then you’re moving into a Non-Christian arena.

    In which case it’s not obvious that you have anything of relevance to say on Christian claims about Ought.

  186. scbrownlhrm

    You are unteachable. The final causes of x are not conceived as parts of the ontology of x by people that believe in final causes – that´s not my position, I just bothered to read up on views different from mine while you did not even bother to try to understand your own position.

    Yes, and, right now, there is no chain of causation in AT Meta but for the chain. Don’t be fooled by the Final Causes. Note the “Etc.”

    “there is no chain of causation in AT Meta but for the chain”
    This is pure undiluted gibberish again.

  187. @Irenicus:

    You are unteachable.

    Then maybe instead of cluttering the combox, do not even try to “teach him”? In fact, if I am not misremembering, didn’t you stated that you would not be responding to him again?

    Of course, you are free to do what you want (within the bounds set by Tom), but responding to every one of his comments and at the same time complaining that it is impossible to respond to him, strikes me as a waste of time whose purpose can only be — well, I will leave the psychoanalyzing to more competent minds. But to each his own, I guess.

  188. You still have the three options I gave you in #198, Irenicus. You’re not showing much inclination toward the civil discussion option so far.

    And just to head off the usual complaint: I’ve banned uncivil commenters before. Most of the time when they discover they’ve been banned they claim it’s because we “can’t stand criticism here,” or, “we couldn’t hold up against the arguments.” No; if you decide to get yourself banned here, it will be your own choice, and it won’t be on account of your arguments, it will be for your repeated accusations, charges, and insults.

    If you claim that I did it because we can’t take disagreement here, I will let your comment appear out of moderation, and I will point out that you have (like so many others) drawn a conclusion completely lacking in representatively sampled evidence, which is therefore an evidence-free and unscientific conclusion. I will do that to point out that people who come here claiming to be more rational and scientific than Christians often prove themselves to be very quick to draw irrational and unscientific conclusions.

    You might (based on past experience) complain that I’m applying my civility standards inequitably. You would be wrong. The difference between you and sclbrownhrm is (or might be, it’s still up to you) that he responds to messages that he’s not being clear, or whatever. You’ve been digging your heels in.

    I write all this pre-emptively. Like most pre-emptive actions, I might be preparing for a contingency that isn’t coming. I know that, and I’m not predicting you’ll do this; I’ve just learned to prepare for it in advance through past experience, which has shown me that people do it pretty frequently.

    Maybe you’ll choose to interact in a civil manner. Maybe you’ll leave. Maybe you’ll be banned, and you won’t raise that complaint. I’m hoping for the first of the three options, actually. I like a good debate.

    I like a good debate, that is.

  189. Irenicus,

    And you seem to keep missing the obvious as far as I can tell.

    You cannot expect the Christian to just dance to your inventions.

    Let’s try again:

    A-Meta is not the whole of Christian metaphysics. Did you forget that?

    Did you forget about the T in A-T?

    Did you also forget about the “God” of Christianity vis-a-vis Being Itself?

    You surely do NOT want A and T to be void of “God”/Being Itself…..correct?

    [A] Please explain to us your claim that Being Itself has *no*, *nada* perpetually ongoing impact on any and all [Current Ontological Status]’s.

    That *is* your claim because you are telling us that A and B are under *identical* “ontic-environments”, as it were.

    Please defend THAT.

    [B] If [A] is *not* your claim, then please explain how God *is* impacting, right now, this very second, my status as a moral being and every bit of my reality and yet *not* making (thereby) all my interior and exterior interfaces ontologically different than should there be No-God.

    It’s either [A] or [B] and you’ve not yet coherently defended *either*.

    Natural theology and “pointed-ness” does not (and cannot) exist in a vacuum.

  190. Fincke (an Atheist) writes:

    Teleology should not be at all out of bounds for atheists. Teleologists do not need to posit that there is an intelligent goal-giver who gives natural beings purposes to fulfill, as many theists think….. I am an atheistic virtue ethicist requiring no divine agency for the teleological dimensions of my ethics to make minimal sense and have minimal coherence. I am just describing purely naturalistically occurring patterns as universals or forms. I am saying that since humans’ very natures are constituted by a specific set of powers, fulfilling them is incumbent on humans as the beings that we are. It is irrational and a practical contradiction to destroy the very precondition of our own being (all things being equal). We have a rational imperative instead to flourish maximally powerfully according to the powers which constitute us ourselves….

    The appeal here is to the evolved Bell Curve of appetites as “universals” or as “forms”. It is called “Naturalistically Occurring Patterns”. Clusters are labeled as Universals and Forms and supposedly ground objective morality in naturalism. It even obligates reason, we’re told. On several fronts In A Post criticizing that position we see that it too will not work. Of course, that approach there just begs the question because it (inexplicably) ignores the parts/slices of the Bell Curve and Clusters (“Universals”) which it doesn’t “like”. Such convenient question begging just won’t do. And besides, even *if* the Bell Curve and Clusters become a smooth line, it still fails, as we are unpacking, and discovering, in this thread……..

  191. No. I made things up to illustrate the consequences of a principle.

    Irenicus,

    Just so you know that it’s not lost on me, or anyone else that is paying attention, that this “reply” and your tedious, repetitive and unnecessary explanation of thought experiments, failed to address the any of the substantive questions and clarifications I asked in my post #152.

  192. Irenicus,

    You may want to read the link in #209. It explains why, on A-T Meta, the causes within the Man (not causes outside the Man) do not get us to objective morality without God and yet Man (in Theism) finds that those *same* causes within the Man *are* irreducibly fused with a moral universe and land Man in objective morality. The “current ontological status” of Man without God does not “land” in objective morality. It lands in indifference. Inside the Man. Outside the Man. All of it. However, with God, the “current ontological status” of Man *does* land inside of objective morality. Inside the Man. Outside the Man. All of it.

    A does not equal B.

    A “paradigm” just is not made up of isolated parts immune to the rest of said paradigm. Vacuums just are not real and that is why the conclusions based on vacuums cannot comment on reality, which includes our physical bodies proper.

    Tom is willing to grant you your (false) identity claim of A = B there on the body proper (molecules, etc.), though I am not. However, even with Tom’s generous Grant you are going to be severely underfunded should you seek to purchase any part of that very, very expensive metaphysical real estate.

    The link in #209 goes further. Etc.

  193. BillT,

    Just so you know that it’s not lost on me, or anyone else that is paying attention, that this “reply” and your tedious, repetitive and unnecessary explanation of thought experiments, failed to address the any of the substantive questions and clarifications I asked in my post #152.

    No. My “tedious, repetitive and unnecessary” explanations did address your questions – they already did so before you asked them because I did explain this already before you asked those questions.

    Your questions were:

    Don’t you see that the only thing that makes the two groups “not differ in that respect” is that you “said that the two groups of beings would not differ in that respect”. That’s it. Because you claim they aren’t different in that respect therefore they necessarily are?

    Yes, they necessarily are not different because that´s how they were *defined*. You could say that you don´t believe such a situation to be possible in fact, but that would be beside the point and would not affect the conclusion that follows from the thought experiment – the conclusion does not depend on the situation being possible in the real world.

    So, if we restate your position based on your thought experiment, (and using your words hopefully within your intent) we will “have the *same* rational, emotional and moral faculties (and so on, and so forth)” no matter what were “the (hypothetical) different ways for how we got to be what we are” because you said so. Fair? So, this shows you can make things up and that they’re true for the world you made up. Correct?

    Yes.

    If I’m reading this too narrowly, please explain how your thought experiment shows that to be true for any world (or God) not of your own invention.

    It doesn´t show that, it wasn´t intended to show that (and I have said so many, MANY times already…), and that is completely irrelevant for the conclusion that follows from it.

    Those questions you asked were completely superfluous, I have made all of that clear before with my “tedious, repetitive and unnecessary” explanations – I have no idea why you don´t get it, but you certainly don´t make any efforts to try to understand them, else you would have addressed one of those explanations and asked for a clarification about them, instead of just repeating the same questions over and over again as if I never addressed them before.

  194. scbrownlhrm,
    you seem to be trying to go down about half a dozen rabbit holes simultaneously, none of which appear to have anything to do with what I said so far but all of which regressed to your earlier pretentious gibberish (“purchase expensive metaphysical real estate”, “evolved Bell Curve of appetites as “universals”” etc.).
    You are tilting at windmills.

  195. What I am going to say is probably completely out of line, and for that anticipated apologies. But Irenicus has much the same kind of Voice and manerisms that a commenter at Shadow to Light, who named himself “Andy”, have. You can see his, Andy’s that is, performance here, here and here. Whatever faults I personally had in one of the conversations (and I definitely do share in the blame), the fact is that commenter Andy managed to rile up everyone and eventually got himself banned. You can make the judgment for yourselves anyway, if you have the stomach for it. At any rate, this same path seems to be what Irenicus is going down — I for one, for whatever is worth (yeah, I know, not much), have already given up.

    Note I am not saying Irenicus is Andy, just that they share a lot of traits, including a rather similar Voice, which lends credibility to the concern that the end will be similar. If memory serves me right, Andy was also banned from this blog, and it strikes as pretty pitiful and pathetic that anyone would return to a blog he has been banned from under another name.

  196. Irenicus,

    Your point about evolution and molecules “right now, right here” is appreciated.

    However, the terms about the Universals and Bell Curves and Forms and Appetites (and Feelings) and so on, are in the link in #209 discussing the Non-Theist Fincke’s approach to Man’s status wrt moral ought and also in Feser’s 3 or 4 part discussion with Keith Parsons discussing the same topic. The terms are neither new nor gibberish. In fact, they are on occasion from our Non-Theist friends.

    It’s fairly well worn territory. Hence the link. For context.

    As noted, your point about “right now, this second, in Man” in evolutionary means arriving “here” is appreciated — but it is, by any measure, disingenuous to just “stop there” and that is because Man, right now, and the causes inside of Man, right now, are all a slice of a wider reality.

    Example:

    Even in Non-Theism the causations which are busy “causing” etc. within Man, within, say, Inherent Intentionality, are in fact Non-Intentional and Indifferent. Those causes are not “Intentional – Full Stop”, as it were. And “that fact” about our two paradigms has, even “just there” in the philosophy of Mind, problems with “right now, right here” because we have to completely de-construct Theism’s reach beyond the purely mechanistic there “inside the Man” to get your A to be equal to our B when it comes to the current ontological status — and that is *only* in the arena of Mind — never mind the rest.

    So there are a lot of things we have to throw out, or jettison, in order to get “A = B” to be not only true but also still faithful to both A’s and B’s ontological (not epistemic) ingredients.

    [1] Unguided evolution void of any and all environment nuanced on any level by Being Itself / God / Goodness Itself (which is impossible if God exists).

    [2] Guided evolution.

    [3] The entire body of eons that is Tooth and Claw from the ground up constituting Man in in the pains of Privation where necessarily it is the case that causation(s) sum to both Good and Privatized Good (Evil).

    All three approaches speak on molecular motion, the causations therein, and the current ontic-status of such. If Being Itself vis-à-vis Goodness Itself vis-à-vis the immutable (irreducible) love with the Necessary Being in fact saturates the entirety of all three then we are dealing with far, far more than “just” one slice of material right here, right now, this second and that is (if God) ipso facto true of [1] as well.

    Interestingly, Non-Theists faithfully affirm the all-encompassing metaphysical landscape of Genesis and they do so both when observing nature’s unmistakable straining along that incline towards E Pluribus Unum from the ground up through eons of Privation (Evil) within Tooth and Claw, and they do so when observing the schizophrenic array of causations within that same Privatized Good through those same eons. Their thoroughness in describing such a painful mess is uncanny as they affirm Christianity’s metaphysical landscape.

    An entire Paradigm, an entire World – and entire Universe – soaked through with Tooth and Claw, soaked through with Privatized Good and thereby Evil, Lack, Brokenness, Thirst, Striving – from A to Z – soaked through with Final Causes and thereby Good, Reach, Teleos, Hope, Becoming – from A to Z – is precisely the World we all affirm, both Non-Theist and Christian.

    Our Non-Theist friends testify on behalf of Scripture’s God.

    There are only two options in a universe such as ours:

    [1] It is a universe void of inherent intentionality, it is a universe void of inherent design, it is a universe void of all moral contours.

    [2] It is a universe constituted of, defined by, explained by, soaked through with, Final Causes.

  197. G. Rodrigues

    Note I am not saying Irenicus is Andy, just that they share a lot of traits, including a rather similar Voice, which lends credibility to the concern that the end will be similar. If memory serves me right, Andy was also banned from this blog, and it strikes as pretty pitiful and pathetic that anyone would return to a blog he has been banned from under another name.

    And how are you not saying here “I´m not saying that Irenicus is Andy, but he is Andy and it strikes me as pitiful that he´d return to a blog that he has been banned from under another name?”

    But just out of curiosity I just searched for:
    “Andy site:thinkingchristian.net/ ”
    – I didn´t immediately find where Andy was banned, but what was immediately apparent is that Andy found scbrownlhrm obnoxious for the exact same reasons that I do.

    And just to check if that´s just us or a general pattern, I also searched:
    “scbrownlhrm site:thinkingchristian.net/ ”
    – and, lo and behold, he seems to irritate pretty much everyone, including theist commenters, the very first hit I found was this gem from BillT:
    “The above post is 1,677 words long. It is simply outrageous that after all of the comments by Tom about the style, content and excessive length of your posts that you would post a tome like this. It’s an outright slap in the face to Tom and quite insulting to the rest of us as well.

    Are you really so self absorbed and clueless that you can not figure out not only how worthless a post like this is but how utterly disruptive to this blog and the flow of the dialogue here. Yes, scbrownlhrm we are all so privileged to have such a monumental intellectual talent like you here that we are all going to just stop posting and admire your great erudition and ability to post endless nonsense.”
    – I couldn´t have said it better (although I´m much less bothered by scbrownlhrm´s excessive verbosity than I am by his insistence on using idiosyncracies that transgress the line to gibberish more often than not)

  198. @Irenicus:

    I didn´t immediately find where Andy was banned, but what was immediately apparent is that Andy found scbrownlhrm obnoxious for the exact same reasons that I do.

    Then it means I am indeed misremembering and Andy was not banned.

  199. scbrownlhrm

    As noted, your point about “right now, this second, in Man” in evolutionary means arriving “here” is appreciated

    You do know the purpose of quotation marks, do you? Hint: I never said the words “right now, this second, in Man” and what you are addressing is not my “point” – you are tilting at windmills.

    Interestingly, Non-Theists faithfully affirm the all-encompassing metaphysical landscape of Genesis and they do so both when observing nature’s unmistakable straining along that incline towards E Pluribus Unum from the ground up through eons of Privation (Evil) within Tooth and Claw, and they do so when observing the schizophrenic array of causations within that same Privatized Good through those same eons. Their thoroughness in describing such a painful mess is uncanny as they affirm Christianity’s metaphysical landscape.

    I think my favorite part in that word salad is how “Privation (EVIL) within Tooth and Claw” (note the beautiful random capitalization) morphs immediately into “that same Privatized GOOD” – everyone can write gibberish, but writing something that is 80% gibberish and 20% self-refuting takes skill.

  200. @Irenicus:

    And how are you not saying here “I´m not saying that Irenicus is Andy, but he is Andy and it strikes me as pitiful that he´d return to a blog that he has been banned from under another name?”

    What I said is plain English and I explicitly disavowed the implicature you point out. If you want to imply that I am being less than honest and transparent here, your opinion is duly noted.

  201. G. Rodrigues

    Then it means I am indeed misremembering and Andy was not banned.

    Not necessarily. I just clicked on the first two links out of many and didn´t read the entire threads (the ones I clicked on were both huge – much larger than this thread right here).

  202. Irenicus,

    You mean you are *not* appealing to the status of Man right now, right here, today wrt the evolutionary schema and its current “product”*?

    *[Notice the use of the “….” there. See. There are several common, non FDA approved uses for such.]

  203. @Irenicus:

    and it strikes me as pitiful that he´d return to a blog that he has been banned from under another name?

    Since the point was not clear too you, I will quote the whole paragraph again:

    Note I am not saying Irenicus is Andy, just that they share a lot of traits, including a rather similar Voice, which lends credibility to the concern that the end will be similar. If memory serves me right, Andy was also banned from this blog, and it strikes as pretty pitiful and pathetic that anyone would return to a blog he has been banned from under another name.

    and explain the reason for the insertion:

    (1) it is “pretty pitiful and pathetic that anyone would return to a blog he has been banned from under another name.”

    (2) Therefore this is not something most persons would do.

    (3) Irenicus is a person.

    (4) Therefore, and barring some good reason, this is not something one would expect Irenicus to do.

    (5) Therefore this is reason to believe Irenicus is not Andy.

  204. G. Rodrigues

    What I said is plain English and I explicitly disavowed the implicature you point out. If you want to imply that I am being less than honest and transparent here, your opinion is duly noted.

    Oh I am not saying that you wanted to insinuate that I am Andy (and pitiable and pathetic). It just strikes me as dishonest that someone would insinuate such a thing instead of honestly expressing his opinion.
    English is fun, isn´t it?
    Seriously though, what exactly have I done to offend you? Afaict, I have been civil in every single comment directed at you and I also let your condescending parting shot slide without responding in kind. If this Andy riled you up and I behave in the same way, could you kindly say just what it is that we do that riles you up?

  205. Irenicus,

    Privation.

    It’s well worn territory. Common terms and all that.

    What is Privatized? Well, Good of course.

    You didn’t know that?

  206. G. Rodrigues

    Therefore, and barring some good reason, this is not something one would expect Irenicus to do.

    Oh, you have given reasons – according to you, I have “much the same kind of Voice and manerisms”, and “Andy managed to rile up everyone and eventually got himself banned” which is “the same path seems to be what Irenicus is going down”.
    We can drop this metadiscussion and fwiw, I actually considered you to be a thoughtful and mostly civil interlocutor (that´s why I did let your earlier parting shot slide) and I have honestly no idea what I did to offend you. I would understand it if, say, scbrownlhrm is offended by several things I said to him – but, again, everything I addressed to you was civil afaict.
    You don´t have to answer of course (and I´m happy to drop this metadiscussion here), but I´d really like to know what I have done to offend you.

  207. scbrownlhrm

    What is Privatized? Well, Good of course.

    You didn’t know that?

    A privatized “Good” would be a “Good” that is removed from government control and placed it in private control or ownership, because “privatized” is the verb of “privatization” not of “privation”.
    And while “privation of the good (i.e. evil)” would make sense, your “privation (evil)” doesn´t, and it makes even less sense to contrast it to a “privatized (sic) good”.
    I know that you can communicate in simple english in a manner that is actually grammatically correct, coherent and intelligible, because you have done so in a few comments – so I´ll point out that your pretentious gibberish in recent comments is again something you do on purpose and not due to an inability to communicate.

  208. Irenicus,

    On A = B, the apparent ontological (not epistemic) failures discussed in the last few comments are of some consequence. Perhaps you’d like to comment on them?

    Also, Tooth and Claw, if Evil, is necessarily a privation of Good. The causations at work (then) would be both Good (final causes etc) and those of Evil.

    Also, on inherent intention and Mind and Causes *within* Man, we have yet a third area where A = B fails.

    Care to comment?

  209. Irenicus,

    When Man rapes, such “motion” houses “causes” of Good and Evil. Evil being a privation of Good. So too in *any* evil, such as in Tooth and Claw (if that is in fact evil, broken, off, messy, etc…).

    [Occasionalism isn’t Christianity’s metaphysical geography]

  210. That is, although Irenicus went way too far with some of his charges against your character, when he says it’s difficult or impossible to understand what you write, that is indeed the case much of the time. We’ve talked about this before. I thought another reminder might be timely now.

  211. I did understand “[Occasionalism isn’t Christianity’s metaphysical geography],” but that was because I knew what occasionalism was already. That’s not the kind of thing I would ever expect readers here to know unless they had said so.

    So if I could be so bold as to make this more specific, I would caution you regarding:

    1. Technical vocabulary like the example just mentioned
    2. Other non-standard uses of vocabulary: you enjoy using that as a writing technique, and it makes for good writing in lots of genres, but not necessarily this one.
    3. Sentence fragments, which often leave me wondering what’s referring to what.

    I hope that helps in a positive way.

  212. scbrownlhrm

    Also, Tooth and Claw, if Evil, is necessarily a privation of Good.

    No. That would only be so if you could show that a privation theory of evil is necessarily true. You could easily try to argue that a privation theory of evil is indeed true, but trying to argue that it is necessarily true is much more difficult than you can imagine.

    The causations at work (then) would be both Good (final causes etc) and those of Evil.

    Also, no. If you subscribe to a privation theory of evil, then evil is “insubstantial” (i.e., it has no substance – is not an entity), so there cannot be causes that are “evil”, “evil” would be just a word that you use to refer to causes that are not directed towards the good:
    “For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good? In the bodies of animals, disease and wounds mean nothing but the absence of health; for when a cure is effected, that does not mean that the evils which were present—namely, the diseases and wounds—go away from the body and dwell elsewhere: they altogether cease to exist; for the wound or disease is not a substance, but a defect in the fleshly substance,—the flesh itself being a substance, and therefore something good, of which those evils—that is, privations of the good which we call health—are accidents.”
    – Augustine of Hippo

  213. @Irenicus:

    Oh, you have given reasons – according to you, I have “much the same kind of Voice and manerisms”, and “Andy managed to rile up everyone and eventually got himself banned” which is “the same path seems to be what Irenicus is going down”.

    No I did not, because I never said or implied that that was something I expected *Andy* himself would do — meaning, returning to a blog he has been banned from under a different name. He may have the “faults” (to put it that way) you quote me saying, but it does not thereby mean he is, or would turn out to be, “pitiful and pathetic” in the ways I mentioned.

    Neither did I ever said anywhere that you have offended me — you have not, just in case the doubt hovers your mind. What I did say is that “I have little patience for your *misunderstandings* and *inability to read*” (emphasis added), and since “this will be going nowhere”, this being the discussion, “peace and God bless you.” Peace and God bless you.

  214. Tom,

    Certainly.

    Irenicus,

    One:

    I raise the issue of the evolutionary schema and Tooth and Claw to bring your point of unguided evolutionary processes (and causation therein) up against yet a another method whereby any such “building Man from the dirt” (notice the use of “…”) schema coheres with Christianity’s metaphysical claims on Man. If Tooth and Claw emerge as housing Evil, well then we have by definition Privation’s pains as both Good and Evil are found “causing” events. Therefore, the current ontological status is, again, found to have causes *within* Man which are fundamentally (and irreducibly) *different* than the No-God status.

    So there is that.

    Two:

    Then there is the problem of an artificial “vacuum” as discussed earlier. Causes INSIDE and causes OUTSIDE the Man constitute a *singular* reality. Final causes here become inescapable.

    Three:

    Then there is the problem of inherent intentionality (irreducible intention) wrt causation and Mind, which again brings an unavoidably different ontological status *within* Man wrt the No-God paradigm.

    A = B seems to fail on many levels. At leat in the real world.

    Tom is willing to “grant” that (false) identity claim, though. Even with said grant, objective morality will evade your paradigm’s “means”.

  215. Tom,

    We live in a culture that craves offense and therefore expects it in others, G. Rodrigues. He found it where there was none.

    So G. Rodrigues talks about the “fact [] that commenter Andy managed to rile up everyone and eventually got himself banned” (note that according to him, he himself was included among the “everyone” that got riled up), says that “this same path seems to be what Irenicus is going down”, and when I conclude from that that something I said here got G. Rodrigues riled up – that means I´m “craving offense”?

  216. Irenicus,

    I use the term Good and Evil and Occasioinalism with respect to causation in their usual sense. Evil in Man, when Man rapes, is not God’s Finger Pushing Man (so to speak). Evil here houses causes as per the deficiency of good (etc.). I thought you would understand the unspoken there. Or do you think Evil is God’s Finger? Or what? Scratch that — I know you know. But your perpetual evasion of actually answering questions is tedious.

    Care to address #236?

    As for argumentation, if you can prove philosophical naturalism — well then we would be even as far as an X being harder to prove than to employ.

  217. scbrownlhrm,

    If Tooth and Claw emerge as housing Evil, well then we have by definition Privation’s pains as both Good and Evil are found “causing” events.

    No. If you assume a privation theory of evil, then there is no evil that could cause any event – evil would be a non-entity, an “insubstantial” thing (i.e. something that literally has no substance), it literally wouldn´t exist and the word just signifies only the absence of good, but NOT the presence of evil (because, again, “evil” as a non-entity can´t be “present” in anything).

  218. Irenicus,

    See my last comment. Evil and causation are not incompatible given that the causes at work are deficient in good. I’m not calling Evil a positive entity.

    You should know that Rape entails both causation and the deficiencies.

    I’d like to think you already knew that.

    *Any* evil is so characterized.

  219. So, if we restate your position based on your thought experiment, (and using your words hopefully within your intent) we will “have the *same* rational, emotional and moral faculties (and so on, and so forth)” no matter what were “the (hypothetical) different ways for how we got to be what we are” because you said so. Fair? So, this shows you can make things up and that they’re true for the world you made up. Correct?

    Yes.

    And this, Irenicus, is why what you posted isn’t a thought experiment just like I’ve been saying. All that what you posted shows is that you can make things up and that they’re true for the world you made up. That’s not a thought experiment. A thought experiment challenges your readers to provide an answer to a theoretical/hypothetical position to illustrate a point, not just declare a theoretical/hypothetical position is true because you made it up.

    Here’s an example of one for you on the current topic of morality :

    If you’re correct and there is no God, can you tell me why it’s wrong for me to torture children for my own personal pleasure?

  220. BillT,

    All that what you posted shows is that you can make things up and that they’re true for the world you made up. That’s not a thought experiment.

    Has been addressed ad nauseam in all those tedious and repetitive explanation that you neither understood nor tried to understand.

    A thought experiment challenges your readers to provide an answer to a theoretical/hypothetical position to illustrate a point, not just declare a theoretical/hypothetical position is true because you made it up.

    Only I never did any such thing. I did nothing even remotely resembling it. Not explicitly and not implicitly. And I already explained to you in great detail what I have done instead – but you don´t get it and you have never made any efforts to understand it at all, you never even addressed those explanations beyond saying that you don´t need those “tedious and repetitive” explanations.
    Well, as long as you don´t even try to understand what I´m saying and insist on replying to your own preconceived ideas instead, you leave me no choice other than silently observe you tilting at windmills.

  221. Irenicus, I’m not sure BillT’s criticism of your thought experiment is entirely on track, but I think what he’s getting at is that it goes nowhere in the real world.

    I think that’s been covered. I believe I’ve dealt honestly with the hypothetical situation you put forth, and I believe it fails to get you where you think it goes. Either it points toward a world where everyone is entirely identical in bearing God’s image or where everyone is entirely identical in being entirely the product and effect of naturalistic forces.

    I say that because you insist on them being identical in every way except their origins. So they’re either identical in bearing God’s image or else they’re identical as naturalistic organisms.

    Which takes us nowhere. The discussion starts with disagreement about whether humans bear God’s image or not, and also with disagreement over the ethical implications.

    Yes, it did go in the direction of an origins question, but I think I’ve already shown that the origins discussion only got us spinning in circles, while the question that really matters is present reality.

    I would suggest you recognize that your thought experiment gets us nowhere. To the extent that we kept focused on origins we were spinning our wheels on an unsolvable problem between us, which in larger reality didn’t need answering. We need instead to focus on the present question of whether we are in God’s image or whether we are strictly natural organisms. Your thought experiment goes back to that question, so let’s go back there.

  222. Let me state that all in simpler form.

    Your thought experiment suggests that it doesn’t matter where we came from. I don’t necessarily agree but for purposes of this discussion I’d be willing to set it aside and say, What matters is what we are now.

    Let me also add that “bearing God’s image” is a present reality (if it’s true, of course), not just a past event. Again, origins play into it importantly, but it’s perfectly possible to bracket that and talk about present realities. Are we just naturalistic? Or are we more than that?

  223. Tom,

    Irenicus, I’m not sure BillT’s criticism of your thought experiment is entirely on track, but I think what he’s getting at is that it goes nowhere in the real world.

    I know that this is what he is getting at, but as I pointed out time and again – I´m not even trying to argue that the real world is anything like the world assumed in the thought experiment, it is only about what would (or would not) follow from the assumption that we were or were not created intentionally by God.

    Which takes us nowhere.

    Not quite. It does show that the question of origins per se is morally irrelevant (and that is something we (BillT and you on the one side vs me on the other) did not agree on originally), what is morally relevant is only what we are and not how we got to be what we are.

    We need instead to focus on the present question of whether we are in God’s image or whether we are strictly natural organisms.

    That is both a false dichotomy (because atheism doesn´t presuppose naturalism) and also too vague. We talked about what exactly “God´s image” means before and from the exchanges so far, I see no reason to assume that “God´s image” in fact necessarily depends on there actually being a God.
    You say “To be image-bearers means we share some of God’s qualities, including rationality and moral knowledge and responsibility” – and I´m not going to grant that rationality and moral knowledge + duties (i.e. “God´s image”) are divine qualities unless you can successfully demonstrate that they indeed are necessarily divine qualities.

  224. Most contemporary atheism is naturalistic through and through, so I default to that version of atheism unless someone tells me they’re talking about something else.

    For reasons to think that what I’ve described as God’s image is impossible on naturalism, see here, here, and here. Admittedly there’s an awful lot to look at there. I did it that way partly to show you that there’s an awful lot of work been done on these questions here.

    For shorter versions, try here, here (with follow-up here), and here,

  225. And I already explained to you in great detail what I have done instead – but you don´t get it and you have never made any efforts to understand it at all, you never even addressed those explanations…

    Irenicus, you’re wrong about that and why your wrong about that is what Tom stated below.

    I say that because you insist on them being identical in every way except their origins. So they’re either identical in bearing God’s image or else they’re identical as naturalistic organisms.

    Which takes us nowhere.

    This has been the point of my responses to your “thought experiment” (And yes, the “” are deserved). Your argument doesn’t take us anywhere. It neither proves or bolsters your point or disproves or challenges ours or even posits something interesting worth further discussion. It, by your own admission:

    …shows you can make things up and that they’re true for the world you made up. Correct?

    Yes.

    Then, in contradiction to the above you claim:

    It does show that the question of origins per se is morally irrelevant…., what is morally relevant is only what we are and not how we got to be what we are.

    No, it doesn’t. It only shows that to be true, as you admit, for the world you made up. Which as Tom so succinctly put, “takes us nowhere”. Origins matter if origins matter. If they don’t matter then they don’t and you’re right but you’ve done nothing to show that to be true beyond your made up world.

    This is no different a conclusion than Tom reaches when he says: “Again, origins play into it importantly, but it’s perfectly possible to bracket that and talk about present realities. Are we just naturalistic? Or are we more than that” Sure, you can “bracket that” in term of a discussion but that doesn’t mean that origins aren’t significant or even a requisite for present realities.

    You assert that “I´m not going to grant that rationality and moral knowledge + duties (i.e. “God´s image”) are divine qualities”. This is an unsupported assertion. We can and have explained how our metaphysical connectedness with God and each other can account for those divine qualities. You haven’t explained why that isn’t true or where that explanation lacks logic or consistency or what else could account for it. The ball is still in your court.

  226. @Tom,

    Most contemporary atheism is naturalistic through and through, so I default to that version of atheism unless someone tells me they’re talking about something else.

    But still, if you´d conclusively demonstrate naturalism to be false, you´ve given no reasons to accept theism by doing that, only reasons to reject naturalism. What do you mean by naturalism btw – from your links, I wasn´t sure if you equate naturalism with materialism or assume it to be the view that the universe is a causally closed system or both (I suspect it is both but just want to make sure).

    Lets take the first example you link to – free will. First I´d point out here that there are concepts of “free will” that are a) logically coherent (which libertarian free will IMO is not), b) perfectly consistent with our everyday experiences and c) perfectly consistent with naturalism. Bob Doyle´s model is the most interesting one that I´m aware of (see http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/ and links therein ). But even if I´d agree that the issue of free will would demonstrate naturalism to be false, it would only cause me to reject naturalism, it wouldn´t move me even just an iota closer to theism because naturalism has absolutely nothing to do with why I reject theism.
    This would only move me closer to theism if it would be connected to an argument along the line “… and this makes the existence of God more likely, because [insert arguments here]”.

    And this is a widespread weakness of contemporary Christian apologetics afaict, for a lot of the literature that is recommended to me by Christians, I find plenty of references to and arguments against naturalism that all seem to be based on the assumption “if only they´d reject naturalism, then they would see that the Bible got it right”. And I always wonder where apologists got that idea from, yes, naturalism is a very popular view among atheists, but that doesn´t translate to the equation “Argument against naturalism = Argument FOR theism”.

  227. Demonstrating naturalism to be false isn’t the point of this exchange. Still, from a brief glance at your informationphilosopher link, there’s too much reliance on random thoughts, which are no better for agent causality than determined thoughts; and it assumes a skyhook (unexplained freely choosing) mind function to “suppress noise” and to choose among random thoughts.

  228. @Tom,

    Still, from a brief glance at your informationphilosopher link, there’s too much reliance on random thoughts, which are no better for agent causality than determined thoughts

    Not at all, Doyle´s model relies on randomness only to enable true alternatives from which an adequately determined will can select.
    And that is afaict, the only logically coherent version of agent causality – the alternative for agent causation is that humans start completely new causal chains when they make a free choice, and that is a logically self-refuting idea.

  229. [1] No replies to #236 (#241 implied) and the unavoidable differences in current ontological status wrt irreducibly and irreconcilably different causations. Instead there is a sort of pretending that causations cannot be evil (deficient in good) and fussing (#241 etc.) over that bit of semantics “as-if” evil causations cannot exist (Good Minus Some-Thing) and simply staling rather than answering questions of an obvious nature (we’re granting that #241 was (is) known and understood by our Non-Theist friend, hence the descriptions of staling and evading).

    [2] No reply to Bill.T’s question as to WHY it is wrong (ought not) to do so and so. Instead: more evasion of more questions which threaten the false identity claim that A’s current ontic-status is identical to B’s current ontic-status.

    [3] Making up pretend paradigms out of false identity claims and just foisting that [1] & [2] dissolve thereby when clearly both 1 and 2 cannot even in principle dissolve given the nature of irreconcilably different causations within Man A vs. Man B.

    [4] Making up pretend paradigms out of false identity claims and just foisting that inherent intentionality (Intentionality – Full Stop) magically exists parasitically upon non-rational and intention-less causation.

    [5] Making the bizarre and unjustified claim that inherent intentionality (Intentionality – Full Stop) is both ontologically present in the pretend paradigm of [4] and **yet said full-stop is contrary to logic.

    **There seems to be no way out of self-negation for the Non-Theist. If inherent intentionality (Intentionality – Full Stop) is denied in order to refute the analysis in [5], the whole discussion changes as delusion steadily makes its way out of Pandora’s Box and we discover….. bit by painful bit as we push causation one step back…. …and back…. …and back…. the chiseling away of the rational and mind’s elimination (never mind the entirety of the first person reality). Whereas: If it (Intentionality – Full Stop) is claimed as being ontologically present in the materialist’s project in order to defend the pretend paradigm mentioned in [4], then the bit-by-bit reductio ad absurdum inside of [5] ***stands.

    ***We need not be surprised given that making up pretend paradigms, not answering questions which demand coherence, evading costly questions, and a lack of lucidity from point A to point B to point C seem to comprise this rather unique method of argumentation.

  230. On [1] through [5] in #252:

    Note the “ontic-location” of irreconcilably different causations: currently right now and also within the Man.

    Right now. This minute. Inside us.

    Full stop.

    As we press into such causation(s) we find that the contours of love and of intentionality and therein of all things moral are all radically different claims as to said causations in [A] Non-Theistic projects and [B] Theistic projects.

    The ceaseless reciprocity (full stop) within the triune God finds immutable love (full stop) even as the Divine Mind finds the simplicity of the utterly volitional (full stop). If science (scientism) cannot find said elemental substrates, that is neither here nor there for the claim by the Christian is that (as Debilis notes) there are realities which that model (physical science) cannot find. Scientism is being challenged as to that which can and cannot give us a more exhaustive picture of reality. Hence to opine that science cannot find X is merely begging the question and avoiding one’s own bitter root of non-rational and intention-less causation.

    That any Non-Theist would even attempt to claim such irreducible causations as his own (Full Stop) is, well, sure, embarrassing, but, more importantly, such just isn’t informative as it’s merely about imaginary mega0-structures which, everybody knows, cannot even in principle escape the bitter root of non-rational and intention-less causation.

  231. scbrownlhrm,

    I see you have chosen to resort to pretentious word salad yet again.
    Well, BillT said it best:
    “Are you really so self absorbed and clueless that you can not figure out not only how worthless a post like this is but how utterly disruptive to this blog and the flow of the dialogue here. Yes, scbrownlhrm we are all so privileged to have such a monumental intellectual talent like you here that we are all going to just stop posting and admire your great erudition and ability to post endless nonsense.”

  232. Irenicus,

    [1] *Why* is this or that X morally wrong? (See Bill T’s question earlier).

    [2] On Christianity, interior causation within us, right now, houses “Inherent Intentionality — Full Stop”, such being the absolute ground of reality itself. On Christianity. Do you disagree that this is true of Christianity’s claim?

    [3] On Non-Theism, there is no such bedrock / ground to reality itself. Do you disagree?

    This is simple stuff.

  233. scbrownlhrm

    On Christianity, interior causation within us, right now, houses “Inherent Intentionality — Full Stop”, such being the absolute ground of reality itself. On Christianity.

    So the absolute ground of reality itself is “Inherent Intentionality” (love the random capitalization by the way) that is “housed” in the “interior causation” within us, on Christianity?
    Cute. Could I have some fries with that word salad?

    Seriously though, this sounds like what you would get if you´d throw a David Bentley Hart book in a paper shredder, select some random paper strips, and string them together.

  234. Irenicus,

    The inherent intentionality in Man, right now, this second, lands upon the creative act of God, Who is Himself Inherently Intentional. A begets A.

    Imago Dei.

    The ontological difference between inherent verses as-if intentionality etc. is unpacked in Philosophy of Mind and other places. Your (ontological) B cannot beget (yield, whatever) the Christian’s (ontological) A.

    So, again, questions 1, 2, and 3.

    Care to answer them?

    Or to continue dancing and evading?

    Tom *is* referencing the Imago Dei after all………

  235. I hate to say it, scbrownlhrm, but if Irenicus were to answer that the reason he’s not answering is because the question isn’t understandable, I would understand that.

    I know enough of the argument behind your question here to be able to discern what you’re getting at. I have to read a lot into it for that to work, though.

    I think you might have to make a choice: either do the unpacking here (that which is found “in Philosophy of Mind and other places”), or recognize that you’re trying to compress more information into a small space than can actually fit there — which means it’s not Irenicus’s fault if it doesn’t come through.

  236. Tom:

    Intentionality etc….

    A good place to start for the problem of intentionality is the thought experiment of John Searle as it mirrors the attempted thought experiment of Irenicus. Basically it is the “silicon brain” thought experiment, in which doctors replace our (your) neurons with silicon chips which then perform the very same actions (causes/effects and etc.) as the brain they replaced. It is important to remember that, on a material based premise, this is in principle a perfectly logical premise as science will – should she figure out the entirety of the brain – get us to such an ability. A perfect copy of the entire carbon-based network that “is” “Tom’s Brain” is in principle perfectly valid science.

    That in-principle possibility is radically different than the erroneous thought experiment of Irenicus which seems to equate the causes at work inside of those silicon chips (or our brains) to be identical (Man A = Man B identity claim) as the causes at work inside of Man should Man house the Imago Dei. In short, neither Man A nor Man B house the interface of the causes which we find at work inside of (on the one hand) the inherently non-rational and intention-less carbon based networks and (on the other hand) the causes which we find at work inside of the inherently rational and intentional (and immaterial) Imago Dei (Mind, Rationality, Intentionality). Regarding the content of Man A and of Man B, the content within metaphysical zombies is directly applicable. The link there is to Feser’s blog and is of obvious significance here, whereas the following quote (Feser, Philosophy of Mind) is a basic look to the distinction between inherent verses “as-if” intentionality which speaks, in part, to the work of John Searle and relates in part to carbon based “networks”.

    Quote:

    “This sort of theory proposes that the meaning or intentional content of any particular mental state (a belief, desire, or whatever) derives from the role it plays within a system of mental states, all of which, as we’ve seen, seem logically interrelated in the manner briefly discussed in chapters 3 and 6, since to have any one mental state seems to require having a number of others along with it. The idea is that what gives the belief that Socrates is mortal the precise meaning it has is that it is entailed by other beliefs meaning that all men are mortal and that Socrates is a man, that together with a belief meaning that all mortals will eventually die it entails a belief meaning that Socrates will eventually die, and so on. If we think of beliefs, desires, and the like as a vast system of logically interconnected elements, the theory holds that each element in the system gets its meaning from having precisely the place in the system it has, by bearing exactly the logical and conceptual relations it bears to the other elements. (More precisely, it is the objects of beliefs, desires, and the like — sentences of Mentalese according to the CRTT, or, more generically and for those not necessarily committed to the CRTT, “mental representations” of some other, non-sentential sort — that bear meaning or intentional content. But for the sake of simplicity, we can ignore this qualification in what follows.)

    There seems to be a serious problem with the conceptual role approach, namely that even if it is granted that mental states have the specific meaning or content they do only because of their relations to other mental states, this wouldn’t explain how mental states have any meaning at all in the first place. That a particular belief either implies other beliefs or is implied by them presupposes that it has some meaning or other: nothing that was completely meaningless could imply (or be implied by) anything. The very having of logical and conceptual relations assumes the prior existence of meaning, so that no appeal to logical and conceptual connections can (fully) account for meaning. Moreover, if belief A gets its content from its relations to beliefs B and C, and these get their content from their relations to beliefs D, E, and F, we seem destined to be led either in a circle or to an infinite regress.

    Either way, no ultimate explanation of intentional content will have been given. To provide such an explanation thus inevitably requires an appeal to something outside the network, something which can impart meaning to the whole. John Searle, who endorses something like the conceptual role theory of meaning, acknowledges that logical and conceptual relations between mental states cannot be the whole story if circularity or infinite regress is to be avoided. He therefore postulates that the entire “Network” of intentional mental states (he capitalizes Network to signify its status as a technical term) rests on what he calls a “Background” of non-intentional capacities to interact with the world around us. We have, for example, such intentional mental states as the desire to have a beer and the belief that there is beer in the refrigerator, and these mental states do, in part, get the specific meaning they have via their relations to each other and to other mental states in the broader Network.

    But ultimately these mental states, and the Network as a whole, function only against a Background of capacities, such as the capacity to move about the world of physical objects, pick them up, manipulate them, and so on. This capacity is not to be identified with the belief that there is a real external world of physical objects; for if it were such an intentional mental state, then it would have to get its meaning from other mental states, and thus couldn’t serve as part of the Background that ends the regress of mental states. The capacity in question is rather something unconscious and without intentionality, a way of acting rather than a way of thinking. One acts as if one had the belief in question, though one in fact does not. While this capacity could in principle become a conscious, intentional mental state — one could come to have the explicit belief that there is a real world of external physical objects that I can manipulate and move about within — this would mean that this particular capacity has moved out of the Background and into the Network, and now rests on some other unconscious, non-Intentional Background capacity or way of acting.

    There is, in short, always some set of capacities or other that comprises the Background (even if it is not always the same set for different people, or even for the same person at different times), and these capacities serve to ground the Network of intentional mental states. There is much to be said for Searle’s hypothesis of the Background, but it seems that it cannot save the conceptual role theory, for to speak of a “non-intentional capacity for acting” is to speak ambiguously. Consider that when you act without the conscious belief that there is an external world of physical objects, but merely manifest a capacity to interact with the world of physical objects, your capacity isn’t non-intentional in the same sense that an electric fan’s capacity to interact with the world of physical objects is non-intentional. You behave “as if” you had a conscious, intentional belief in a world of physical objects, but of course you don’t, because it typically never even occurs to you either to believe or doubt that there is such a world: you just interact with the world, period. The fan also behaves “as if” it believed there was a world of external physical objects (that it “wants” to cool down, say); but of course it doesn’t really have this belief (or any wants) at all. In the case of the fan, this is not because it just hasn’t occurred to the fan to think about whether there is such a world, for the fan isn’t capable of such thoughts; it is rather because, strictly speaking, the fan doesn’t really “act” or “behave” at all, as opposed to just making movements. And the reason we don’t regard it as acting or behaving in the same sense we do is precisely because it doesn’t have intentionality — it is a dumb, meaningless, hunk of steel and wires.

    We on the other hand don’t merely make physical movements: the waving of your hand when your friend enters the room isn’t just a meaningless movement, but an action, the action of greeting your friend. If it were just a meaningless movement — the result of a seizure, say — we wouldn’t count it as an action at all; it wouldn’t in that case be something you do, but rather something that happened to you. The fan, however, is capable of making nothing but meaningless movements. For something genuinely to behave or act as we do requires that it does have intentionality — action and behavior of the sort we exhibit are themselves manifestations of intentionality, and thus presuppose it. But in that case, an appeal to a “capacity for action” cannot provide the ultimate explanation of intentionality. We need to know why our capacities for action are different from the mere capacities for movement that a fan exhibits. Merely noting, à la Searle’s Background hypothesis, that our capacities are non-intentional ways of acting cannot help, for that they are genuinely ways of acting is precisely what needs to be explained. Indeed, since they are ways of acting, they cannot be literally non-intentional, for if they were, they would no more be true ways of acting than are the capacities of an electrical fan. A capacity for action is, as a matter of conceptual necessity, an intentional capacity. In fairness to Searle, it isn’t clear that he intends his hypothesis of the Background to serve as a complete explanation of intentionality. His aim may be just to draw out some implications of the fact that mental states are logically and conceptually related to one another in a Network. The point, though, is that his way of avoiding the circularity or regress that threaten any conceptual role theory cannot be appealed to in order to vindicate such a theory as a complete theory of meaning — and that it may even be incoherent, if Searle holds that the capacities and ways of acting that form the Background are literally devoid of intentionality.”

    End quote.

  237. Tom,

    On the immaterial, on the Imago Dei, we find (at least in the Christian paradigm) along side of Mind, Rationality, Intellect, and Intentionality the same terminus of explanation when it comes to love. Obviously in and by and through Trinity we find love’s necessary interfaces transposing into Man, into the Imago Dei. I only mention this addition as the topic (overall) here is ought/morality, which includes reason as truth-finder, and intellect, and so on, but also necessitates yet one thing more: love. Which is simply to say that “metaphysically coherent” morality necessitates that which is not “metaphysically eliminate-able“, which carries us into the immutable love of the Necessary Being and in particular, even necessarily, into the (inherently) volitional processions within Trinity. There, and nowhere else, can we characterize (properly) the Imago Dei.

  238. Irenicus,

    I made my peace with scb a long time ago and admire what he brings here. If you have a problem with him use your own words to describe it. It’s more than a little rude to have you use my words when you don’t even have the courtesy to reply to my posts.

  239. BillT

    I made my peace with scb a long time ago and admire what he brings here.

    1. And how exactly has “what he brings here” between then and now changed?
    2. Lets take one of those things you admire:
    ““And yet love’s interior is constituted of Self/Other is it not? And love’s fruition sums in begetting Unicity does not it? And unicity begotten (which is love’s fruition) constitutes the singularity of Us does it not? Perfect reciprocity. ”
    – and now I´d like to ask you to explain in your own words what a “singularity of Us” is, what “love´s fruition” and “unicity begotten” are and how the two relate to each other.
    If you cannot do that, would I be justified in concluding that complete gibberish was an aquired taste for you – you didn´t like it before but scbrownlhrm´s endless repetition eventually caused you to like it?

    It’s more than a little rude to have you use my words when you don’t even have the courtesy to reply to my posts.

    Afaict, I did reply to all of your posts.

  240. Irenicus,

    You seem ignorant of the concept of “E Pluribus Unum” when it comes to, not evolutionary morality’s arbitrary movement towards “cooperation”, but to one of the stand-alone beauties of the Triune God which presents the nature of yet one more “metaphysically” irreducible path to a true unicity in the ontology of love.

    You quoted this: And yet love’s interior is constituted of Self/Other is it not? And love’s fruition sums in begetting Unicity does not it? And unicity begotten (which is love’s fruition) constitutes the singularity of Us does it not? Perfect reciprocity.

    I asked you then, and you didn’t answer. So I’ll ask you again:

    On Christianity and even in our own marriages (etc…), as anyone who has loved will speak of,

    [1] Is love’s interior constituted of Self/Other? You know, I/You? Or is it all JUST “I”? Or is it all JUST “You”? Are there “actual” personal interfaces within love?

    Well?

    [2] Does love’s fruition sum to unicity? (Unicity: the fact of being or consisting of one, or of being united as a whole). Is oneness in the Christian paradigm (Vine/Branch, Trinity, Etc.) or not? Is love in our own human experience comprised of any sense of being one with our own child, our own spouse? You can be assured that there are libraries full of tomes testifying of such in the human experience of love.

    Well?

    [3] Unicity begotten (which is love’s fruition) constitutes the singularity of Us does it not? Does love’s fruition sum to unicity? (Unicity: the fact of being or consisting of one, or of being united as a whole). Is oneness in the Christian paradigm (Vine/Branch, Trinity, Etc.) or not? Is love in our own human experience comprised of any sense of being one with our own child, our own spouse? You can be assured that there are libraries full of tomes testifying of such in the human experience of love.

    Well?

    [4] Perfect reciprocity. In the Triune God we find all of these interfaces void of imperfection within the timeless and ceaseless reciprocity which we find in the “simplicity” of “singularity” that is Trinity. Do you refute that such is housed in the Christian paradigm? Do you refute that “E Pluribus Unum” in the *human* sense is reaching for, aiming towards, the teleos of literal perfection? Or is just a temporary illusion vis-a-vis evolution’s non-rational and intention-less causations forcing us to chase after a “Goal” which can never be actualized?

    Well?

    [5] *WHY*, on your own terms, is it wrong to do this or that “Action-X”?

    Well?

  241. Tom, Bill T.,

    As per #266, typically the use of the term “E Pluribus Unum” causes a handful of Christians to sort of panic as they take it to be a replacement for Father/Son/Spirit rather than a description of personal interfaces and of simplicity (“Us” vis-à-vis Trinity, etc.).

    So there is this often-included comment:

    *Disclaimer* regarding “E Pluribus Unum” syntax:

    Lest those of us who are Christian begin to panic at the descriptive / prescriptive of “E Pluribus Unum”, be assured that such is *not* an express referent to that which *is* “Father, Eternally Begotten Son, Spirit” and so on. *Rather*, such is to help address (in part), among other things, the painfully misinformed presuppositions about Christianity and about Reality which seem to fuel our Non-Theist friend’s struggle with equating “Being Itself” to that which is, irreducibly, “Goodness Itself”. Such carries us into necessary interfaces within all that is perception (the mind’s perception of itself and other minds, etc..) and within all that is mind and within all that is love and within all that is reciprocity amid the elemental substrates of personhood and thereby force both reason and logic into the embrace of “The True” (not materialism’s useful fictions, etc…) over inside of all such contours of (stay focused…. #266….), first, the unavoidable interfaces of Self/Other [.….as in personal interfaces….. I/You….. Self/Other…. Me/You… Knower/Known…. those interfaces and elemental substrates constituting two of our three inescapable distinctions…..]. Then we keep moving for we have not accounted for the whole show just yet as all moral semantics converge within perception’s and within mind’s and within love’s third and inescapable distinction in unicity’s E Pluribus Unum there in the “Singular-Us” embedded in Scripture’s God from A to Z from Whom streams all conceivable means/ends related to Self-Other-Us. No claims upon Goodness Itself are even possible but for the uniquely Christian Archetype which “is” the categorical and unavoidably triune set of interfaces comprising Trinity’s irreducible reciprocity amid the elemental pouring/filling discovered within the simplicity that is the immutable love of the Necessary Being.

  242. Irenicus,

    Since you are the one claiming that there is no difference in the current ontological status (Tom seems to be “granting” it…?) inside of Man-A (Non-Theism’s paradigm) and inside of Man-B (the Imago Dei….), it may be helpful for us if you tell us what you think love actually is, ontologically speaking. That may give us insight into where you’re going wrong on the ontology of morality (which just is the ontology of love) as it relates to the “current status” of things inside of Man-A and inside of Man-B. Obviously the ontology of love is in addition to the problem of inherent vs. as-if intentionality (#261) although the two do have some degree of overlap. But they are not exactly identical, so bisecting the current ontological status of Man along those two lines is justified.

    Also, after you tell us what your paradigm claims love is (ontologically speaking) please tell us *WHY*, on your own terms, it is morally wrong to do this or that “Action-X”.

  243. Irenicus,

    Clarifications:

    First, in #266, number 4 (slightly rewarded here to clarify) stated this:

    [4] Perfect reciprocity. In the Triune God we find all of these interfaces void of imperfection within the timeless and ceaseless reciprocity which we find in the “simplicity” of “singularity” that is “Trinity”. Do you refute that such is housed in the Christian paradigm? Do you refute that “E Pluribus Unum” in the *human* sense is reaching for, aiming towards, the teleos of literal perfection? Or is it all at bottom just a temporary illusion vis-à-vis evolution’s non-rational and intention-less causations “causing” the proverbial “us” to chase after a “Goal” which can never (in fact) be “Actualized”?

    In that comment the semantics (even the ontology) of the reference there to “inherent vs. as-if intentionality” was obviously referring to #261, in case that was not clear.

    Another clarification:

    In #267 I briefly unpacked the “personal interfaces” which we find in (whole) love and in Trinity, and, in #268 I asked you for your own ontology of love. Obviously in the Christian paradigm it lands in the lap of God, specifically with respect to Trinity. Don’t mistake “oneness” and “cooperation” and “E Pluribus Unum” for a replacement (here) for Father/Son/Spirit. Instead, those terms are meant to explore, and perhaps explain at least in part, the description of the fundamental personal interfaces found in the context of (whole) love and also as a description of the “unicity” or the “simplicity” or the “oneness” which is also found in the context of (whole) love and which is also found in the uniquely Christian “Us” vis-à-vis “Trinity”.

    In short, both Trinity and (whole) love find in their ontologies the inescapably triune topography of personal interfaces subsumed in the trilogy of Self-Other-Us.

    If you cannot find those “lines”, or those “personal interfaces”, those “contours”, over inside of the human experience of love, then, to be blunt, you’re just not looking. It’s ubiquitous and, in fact, fills libraries. The love of one with one’s beloved saturates the experience of “oneness” in said libraries — over eons, as a matter of fact.

    Regarding that unavoidably triune topography of both (whole) love and Trinity, follow closely and let me know if you get lost on the premises inferred here:

    Emphatically this same topography holds unyieldingly (else reductio ad absurdums painfully emerge) through all that is perception itself (mind’s perception of itself and of other minds and of reality) and through (thereby) mind itself and through (as noted) love itself, and – thereby on all three counts – through both the entirety of the express experience of (on Man’s end) and the express ontology of (on God’s end) that which just is Being Itself.

    Think about that.

    And think about how Non-Theism’s ontology of “love” falls apart, collapses, breaks apart, becomes non-entity, long, long before we move very far at all.

    The challenge from the Christian to the Non-Theist here is that it is not possible for him to escape the problems of (inherent) volitional-ity, of (inherent) intentionality, and of (in Non-Theism’s paradigm) the full and final metaphysical elimination of love. Why? Because an utterly arbitrary and mutable and non-rational and non-volitional….. void also of inherent intentionality…. topography emerges on his end with respect to all moral epistemology (and ontology) for love itself just is constituted of that topography.

    The challenge to the Non-Theist here is *not* that there is a *gap* which knowledge will one day *fill*, but, rather, the challenge is that it is in fact even in principle impossible for the means available to the (at bottom) material based and/or Non-Theistic paradigm to ever escape these problems. The available means there just cannot do the necessary work needed in order to transcend that vacuous topography.

    Bringing the esoteric experience filling those libraries mentioned earlier down to raw epistemology and down to raw ontology as such relates (ultimately) to “Trinity” is difficult, and wordy, but, it is a process which the Non-Theist cannot even attempt without — at some ontological seam somewhere — annihilating love, and ipso facto with it, morality.

  244. Irenicus,

    Bill T. stated this:

    “As part of God’s creation we are all linked together metaphysically, spiritually in a deeply human way. We are cut from the same cloth, part of the same fabric.” (Bill T.)

    Now, the “unicity” and “oneness” and (whole) love and etc. and etc. all along here so far includes, in part at least, that critical element which Bill T draws out. There’s more, but, that slice of the pie is inescapably grounded in something and therefore provides, funds, something which the Non-Theistic paradigm can neither provide nor fund.

    As one would expect, Bill T. and I are converging as we explore the Non-Theistic paradigm and moral ontology.

    And in neither case have you shown where your accounting provides now, or ever, (ontologically) the same current status.

  245. Afaict, I did reply to all of your posts.

    Only in the same imaginary world where you think your “thought experiment” actually proved something to be true outside of that imaginary world.

  246. And then, this God directly creates some more beings that he designs to be indistinguishable from the ones that were created by the evolutionary process that worked completely autonomously from him. You say that there must be different moral duties for those two groups of beings, and I challenge you again to point out which differences there would be and what the basis for those differences is.

    And if you cannot do that, then your claim that “different creation story => different moral duties” is evidently false, the moral duties would rather remain the same either way.

    Irenicus,

    You posted this in your #124 and it seems you think I haven’t addressed it or that it shows that “different creation story => different moral duties” is false. But I addressed that in my #99 where I responded to your and Mr. Campbell’s scenieros. You and Mr. Cambell both miss the point that the “evolutionary process that worked completely autonomously from him.” is still part of his creation. You haven’t described two different creation stories. (Which I said in my #99) Beings created by God even in a evolutionary process that worked completely autonomously from him and beings created by special creation or who had some added Adamic status are still part of the same creation process. God’s creation process.

    As far as the question of the power of his omnipotence your reasoning is flawed. You say “if he cannot create a system with true randomness and true autonomy from himself, there is an obvious deficiency in his powers and he thus could not be all-powerful.” But it’s the opposite that must be true. God cannot both create and not be part of that creation. If he creates a system it’s his system. Every part of it and every result that comes from it. It would not logically be within the power of an omnipotent God to not be part of that he created. That’s what it means to create. What you are suggesting is that he both create something and then it exist as if he did not create it. That’s not logically possible. It must be one thing, his creation, or the other, not his creation. It can’t be both.

    Truly different creation stories are, as I described, ones either with or without God. Those would necessarily create your “different creation story => different moral duties”.

  247. Have you ever had an internet atheist tell you that “you are not being very Christian”? Who are they to tell us what is, or is not, Christian? Do they really understand Christian ethics that well?

    Of course, sometimes Christians can be jerks. On the other hand, however, many, if not most, atheists come here with the false stereotype that to be Christian you have to be non-confrontational and nice. This is the meek and mild way that Jesus is often portrayed in the movies. However, Jesus was not typically kind and gentle with his hostile interlocutors. Neither did he hesitate to point out their hypocrisy. For example, look at Matthew 22 beginning at vs. 15 and chapter 23.

    Why do we never hear from Christians to an atheist “that’s not very atheistic of you”? Or, “you are not being very atheistic.” The answer should be obvious. Neither atheism nor any atheistic world view (since some atheist don’t think atheism itself is a world view) provides a sufficient foundation for ethics. Christian’s know that and so do the atheists. Indeed, most of what atheists living in western society believe morally or ethically has been coopted from Christianity and Judaism. That by itself is hypocritical.

  248. JAD,

    Astute observation. It comes through in other ways too. For example, in mentioning causations in evil (evil causations), the obvious un-spoken there is good-minus-some-thing such that Rape *has* causations in it and such are in fact *evil*. Now whether or not one holds to privation such is the case (unless one is a Non-Theist, in which case useful fictions emerge). But the problem you allude to presents (there) as a sort of dance, a sort of work-around and never really getting to the point as it floats in subtle oceans of accusations and/or harping on a non-issue such as the issue of Rape and Causation (in this thread earlier).

    Even still (in this thread) no real response about causations has been forthcoming. Of course *that* is not confrontational — it’s just evasion pure and simple.

    The proverbial “Kumbaya” is obviously not really the work-flow in blogs expressly intended to hash out disagreement. Being confrontational with respect to ideas and truth claims about Man, God, Nature, and Reality, and Etc., is precisely the point here, whereas, curse-words and dances aren’t the intended goal.

    Your points are enjoyable and helpful and I’m careful to read them when I see them show up. Same goes for Bill T BTW 🙂

  249. Ironically, the secularism and atheism we presently see infecting the culture of western societies is actually a Christian heresy. I think if we trace the history we see, on the one hand, that the roots go back to the Protestant Reformation, on the other, the French revolution. There were no avowed atheists in “Christian” Europe before the Protestant Reformation. If you can think of one, tell me.

    I’m not saying that the Protestant Reformation was bad in and of itself but that rather as a byproduct it gave rise to some heterodox thinking that led to theological liberalism which in turn has “evolved” or mutated into secular progressivism and militant atheism. As Christian heresies secularism and atheism have held on to and perverted vestiges of Christian ethics and morality. For example, our modern concept of human rights is a distinctly Judeo-Christian. While we see subtle hints of it in ancient Greek society, the substance is unequivocally Judeo-Christian.

    John Zmirak summarizes this historical trend nicely in an article he has written for The Stream.

    The way that leftists unwittingly do this devil’s work is to take some element of Christian ethics and grossly exaggerate it, cut it off from any context, and make of it an idol. Hence “compassion,” “inclusiveness,” “social justice” or “equality” take the place of the person of Jesus and become the object of worship. C.S. Lewis warned against this temptation in Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters. In its fullest form, such political idolatry can be seen in Liberation Theology, which perverts the church into a revolutionary Marxist vanguard.

    https://stream.org/trump-voting-christians-liberal-pastors-get-crying-wolf/

  250. BilLT,

    Only in the same imaginary world where you think your “thought experiment” actually proved something to be true outside of that imaginary world.

    You are being deliberately obtuse. It is not very hard to understand what a thought experiment is about – but you do your very best to deliberately misunderstand it.

    You haven’t described two different creation stories. (Which I said in my #99) Beings created by God even in a evolutionary process that worked completely autonomously from him and beings created by special creation or who had some added Adamic status are still part of the same creation process. God’s creation process.

    In other words: whether we are the product of unguided evolution or not is completely irrelevant – which is precisely what I aimed to demonstrate and did demonstrate.

  251. [Completely autonomously] does not, and indeed cannot, in any possible world, equate to [Void of Being Itself] — as per the Christian paradigm. If we redefine God to *god*, then, and only then, could such a state of affairs be possible.

    Whereas, No-God yields a necessarily and categorically different product as said product does not, and indeed cannot, in any possible world, equate to [Soaked through with Being Itself]. If we redefine God to *god*, then, and only then, can such a state of affairs be possible.

    That of which Man is constituted of, soaked through with, sustained by, laced through with Final Causes, and so on, is, in Bill.T’s thought experiment, God and not *god*, is Being Itself (the Christian God and hence the Christian causal paradigm) and not this or that continuum of particle (or whatever) in motion (or whatever).

    That of which Man is constituted of, soaked through with, sustained by, and so on in Irenicus’ thought experiment is *god* and not God, is utterly void of Being Itself (the Christian God), is laced through and through — not with Final Causes — but with this or that continuum of particle (or whatever) in motion (or whatever).

    In fact, given what G-O-D means in the Christian causal paradigm, it is necessarily impossible for Bill T and Irenicus to be describing the same state of affairs where Man is concerned.

    Hence, Bill.T.’s point stands intact and Irenicus’ point stands as not only incoherent but also impossible.

  252. Non-Theists like to redefine paradigmatic terms and they also like to change necessary and primordial datum, and, then, by doing so, set up an entirely Non-Christian paradigm, call it the Christian paradigm, and then go about establishing premises atop their newly invented and Non-Christian edifice. Then, they like to go about tearing it down and/or drawing conclusions from their newly invented edifice and its premises.

    Such is far easier than dealing with Christianity’s actual truth-claims.

  253. Final causes are dismissed by Irenicus as he fears they are entirely foreign to the interior of the Man, as we discussed earlier in the thread.

    That is because his *god* is not the Christian G-O-D in that to jettison final causes is to jettison the “Entire Metaphysical Singularity” that is the “Christian Causal Paradigm” and hence one cannot just ignore final causes and think his work is done. One must ignore (then) the “Entire Metaphysical Singularity” that is the “Christian Causal Paradigm” which necessarily impacts the entire Created Order.

    Once one steps into the Christian paradigm one is dealing with that causal paradigm (singular, not plural), and such saturates, constitutes, the entire “Created Order”. The primordial datum (to borrow a term from D. Hart) inside of that singular causal paradigm is necessarily foreign to and unreachable by any No-God causal paradigm.

    The sort of pure isolation Irenicus is seeking just isn’t possible given what G-O-D means in the Christian paradigm. There is no single part or contour or causal interface (or whatever) of that paradigm which is “removable” all by itself which will not (by said removal) entirely re-invent an entirely Non-Christian edifice.

  254. scbrownlhrm

    I see that you are still trying to impress people with pretentious gibberish.

    Non-Theists like to redefine paradigmatic terms and they also like to change necessary and primordial datum…

    Hint: it would be either “*a* necessary and primordial datum” or “necessary and primordial datum*s*”.
    Hint 2: Using words and phrases that you obviously don´t understand and can´t even use in a grammatically correct way makes you look unbelievably foolish.

  255. Irenicus,

    Given your nonsensical edifice of late, it seems where, I mean were, I mean wear, I mean *we’re* twins then 😉

  256. scbrownlhrm

    Given your nonsensical edifice of late…

    A “nonsensical edifice” is close to being an oxymoron because “edifice” suggests complexity, elaboration and internal consistency:
    “The meaning of edifice has expanded to include a system of ideas––when it is complicated enough to be considered to have walls and a roof, then it is an edifice. You could say that basic facts of addition and subtraction are the foundation on which the edifice of higher math rests.” (source: vocabulary.com)
    A “nonsensical edifice” is thus at best a very poor choice of words and at worst an oxymoron.
    As I told you time and again, simple english is your friend.

  257. Twin,

    ed·i·fice

    ˈedəfəs/ noun
    1.
    a building, especially a large, imposing one.

    synonyms: building, structure,  construction, pile, complex; 

    property,development, premises

    “the imposing new edifice on Whitfield Street”

    2.
    a complex system of beliefs.

    “the concepts on which the edifice of capitalism was built”

    ————

    There is no necessary “inherent internal consistency” there. One *CAN* argue pro/con that the concepts on which the edifice of capitalism was built on is or is not [should be ‘are or are not’ but you seem ambitious in your agenda, so a little more for you] incoherent.

    As in this thread with your rather complex though nonsensical edifice.

  258. scbrownlhrm

    There is no necessary “inherent internal consistency” there.

    The meaning of edifice you have in mind invokes a metaphor – an elaborate and impressive building as a metaphor for a system of ideas. If the belief system is nonsensical, the metaphor falls flat because the “building” wouldn´t have a foundation to stand on.
    And that is why a “nonsensical edifice” is at best a very poor choice of words and at worst an oxymoron.

  259. Twin,

    ed·i·fice

    ˈedəfəs/

    noun

    1.

    a building, especially a large, imposing one.

    synonyms: building, structure, construction, pile, complex; 

    property,development, premises

    “the imposing new edifice on Whitfield Street”

    2.

    a complex system of beliefs.

    “the concepts on which the edifice of capitalism was built”

    ———

    The meaning is as per [2] of a standard use of the term: A complex system of beliefs. The edifice of capitalism.

    *Its* neither inherently coherent nor inherently incoherent.

    [Its, It’s…] A little fuel for your peculiar and off-topic agenda.

  260. “Capitalism is internally and/or inherently coherent.”

    That’s a claim one can argue in favor of.

    ‘Thats’ also a claim one can argue against.

    [Thats/That’s] is for your peculiar and off-topic agenda.

  261. scbrownlhrm

    “Capitalism is inherently coherent.”

    That’s a claim one can argue in favor of.

    ‘Thats’ also a claim one can argue against.

    And that´s also a claim that has literally nothing whatsoever to do with why your choice of words “nonsensical edifice” was either a very poor one, or an oxymoron.

    [Thats/That’s] is for your peculiar and off-topic agenda.

    Your choice to express yourself in an incredibly pretentious, verbose and more often than not flat out garbled way, is pretty much the only topic that one can talk about with you – to talk about something else, you´d first need to start writing something intelligible.

  262. Twin,

    So you are claiming that the edifice of capitalism is internally and / or inherently coherent?

    If so, is it permissible to argue against such a claim?

  263. scbrownlhrm,

    So you are claiming that the edifice of capitalism is internally and / or inherently coherent?

    No. What I rather pointed out is that if capitalism would indeed be “nonsensical”, it would make no sense to call it an “edifice” – that would be either a very poor choice of words (at best) or an oxymoron (at worst).
    What is so hard to understand about that for you?

  264. Twin,

    So you ARE claiming that the edifice of capitalism is, by definition, internally and / or inherently coherent such that the word edifice ipso facto excludes any and all from arguing against the claim that the edifice of capitalism is internally and /or inherently coherent.

    [Edifice ~~ A complex system of beliefs]

    The edifice of Christianity is nonsensical.

    The edifice of Christianity is inherently and/or internally coherent.

    By your definition, then:

    Christianity is internally and/or inherently coherent such that all are excluded from arguing against that claim.

  265. scbrownlhrm,

    So you ARE claiming that the edifice of capitalism is, by definition, internally and / or inherently coherent….

    No. What I rather pointed out is that if capitalism would indeed be “nonsensical”, it would make no sense to call it an “edifice” – that would be either a very poor choice of words (at best) or an oxymoron (at worst).
    What is so hard to understand about that for you?

  266. Twin,

    The complex system of beliefs that is the edifice of Christianity is, then, quite full of sense such that one cannot claim otherwise, such that one cannot employ the word ‘nonsence’ with respect to Christianity.

    Ever.

    At all.

    [nonsence / nonsense] is again for your off-topic agenda.

  267. scwhatever

    The complex system of beliefs that is the edifice of Christianity is, then, quite full of sense such that one cannot claim otherwise, such that one cannot employ the word ‘nonsence’ with respect to Christianity.

    Of course one can. But one would use a very poor choice of words (at best) or an oxymoron (at worst) by talking about the “nonsensical edifice” of Christianity.
    Again, what is so hard to understand about that for you?

  268. Twin,

    Edifice: A complex system of beliefs.

    That’s the easy part.

    The hard part is this:

    Your move to conflate the term [complex] for the phrase [full of sense] such that the combination of terms [“nonsense/edifice”] is by definition a near oxymoron is a move which is, while entertaining, simply wrongheaded given that the term [complex] does not even mean, nor even necessitate, [full of sense].

    A complex and quite sensible system of beliefs (like Christianity).

    A complex and quite nonsensical system of beliefs (like Non-Theism).

  269. scwhatever,

    Your move to conflate the term [complex] for the phrase [full of sense] such that the combination of terms [“nonsense/edifice”] is by definition a near oxymoron is a move which…

    …I didn´t resort to. I´ve explained to you at length what the actual reason is for why a “nonsensical edifice” is either a very poor choice of words (at best) or an oxymoron (at worst), and you keep ignoring it and instead proceed to burn the same stupid straw man over and over and over and over again. In other words, you are being deliberately obtuse.

  270. Twin,

    If the term “Non-Theism” troubles you, simply change it to something else, like, say, “We are almost certain that God does not exist”.

    Also, you still have *not* adequately addressed the following definitions and their usage:

    Your move to conflate the term [complex] for the phrase [full of sense] such that the combination of terms [“nonsense/edifice”] is by definition a near oxymoron is a move which is, while entertaining, simply wrongheaded given that the term [complex] does not even mean, nor even necessitate, [full of sense].

  271. scbrownlhrm

    If the term “Non-Theism” troubles you, simply change it to something else, like, say, “We are almost certain that God does not exist”.

    Random sentence is random.

    Your move to conflate the term [complex] for the phrase [full of sense]…

    …is still a move I didn´t resort to. I´ve explained to you at length what the actual reason is for why a “nonsensical edifice” is either a very poor choice of words (at best) or an oxymoron (at worst), and you keep ignoring it and instead proceed to burn the same stupid straw man over and over and over and over again. In other words, you are being deliberately obtuse.

  272. Twin,

    We find, in our journey, many, many, many quite robust and complex and intricate systems of beliefs (….edifices….) which are, when challenged, quite lacking in sense. Sometimes it takes centuries for such to be adequately unpacked.

    It’s unfortunate that you disagree with that given that such is the standard use of the term (edifice) in many, many settings. Including several dictionaries.

    And, such is unfortunate for you given that we all experience such complex systems of beliefs (edifices) which, over time, perhaps even centuries, turn out to be quite lacking in sense.

    Since you obviously (and inexplicably) disagree with that:

    If you prefer other settings and other definitions where word complex must actually mean full of sense, well that is fine if you want to make that move – but I’m justified in my usage here. Which is unfortunate for you given your off-topic agenda.

    Unfortunately this last series of comments about [“Edifice: A complex system of beliefs”] stems *not* from the topic at hand, but from your own personal off-topic agenda.

    That’s obvious given the standard use of the terms edifice, complex, and full of sense.

    The topic at hand being, of course, that it’s apparent that your Non-Christian edifice is quite an intricate system of beliefs and, also, it is a system of beliefs that is quite lacking in sense given that it means to draw conclusions (from a Non-Christian X) about what the Christian paradigm does and does not say about a specific topic.

  273. scwhatever,

    If you prefer other settings and other definitions where word complex must actually mean full of sense…

    Still being deliberately obtuse I see.

    The topic at hand being, of course, that it’s apparent that your Non-Christian edifice is quite an intricate system of beliefs and, also, it is a system of beliefs that is quite lacking in sense given that it means to draw conclusions (from a Non-Christian X) about what the Christian paradigm does and does not say about a specific topic.

    Absolutely. Just like you need to be a Marxist in order to sensibly make any statements about what Marxism says about a specific topic.
    You might want to think that through again.

  274. Irenicus,

    If you want to assert that Non-Christian premises and truth claims sensibly explain what Christian premises and truth claims state about a topic, and thereby equate the two, such that A = B, well that is for you to attempt.

    We’re merely pointing out that the substrate (your substrate) which you equate to Christian substrate where Man is concerned are not identical substrates.

    [A] does not, and *cannot* equate to [B].

    That is why your thought experiment is failing to inform us of anything which Christianity claims (or *can* claim) about Man assuming that Man is inside of the Christian paradigm.

    Also:

    I’m curious.

    Given that we all experience complex systems of beliefs (edifices) which, over time, perhaps even centuries, turn out to be quite lacking in sense, why do you claim that such has not been, and is not, a part of our shared human experience across the centuries?

    We clearly disagree here, and so I’m just curious why you believe in such a misguided idea.

  275. scbrownlhrm

    If you want to assert that Non-Christian premises and truth claims sensibly explain what Christian premises and truth claims state about a topic, and thereby equate the two…

    And why exactly should I have any interest in trying to equate anything here?

    We’re I´m merely…

    Fixed it for you.

    …pointing out that the substrate (your substrate) which you equate to Christian substrate…

    I never did any such thing.

    That is why your thought experiment is failing to inform us of anything which Christianity claims…

    My thought experiment doesn´t give a rat´s rectum about what Christianity claims, it is about which conclusions do and do not follow from a specific premise, 100% independent of whether any Christian makes that premise or not.

    Given that we all experience complex systems of beliefs (edifices) which, over time, perhaps even centuries, turn out to be quite lacking in sense, why do you claim…

    Here´s a useful heuristic for you: if you think that someone else claimed x, you can be very sure that said someone never claimed x or anything even remotely resembling x. That heuristic is useful for you because your track record so far has been that whenever you talked about me claiming x, x was invariably not something that I have claimed or even just similar to something I claimed, but rather completely your own fabrication – that´s why you are so busy tilting at windmills.

  276. Irenicus,

    [A] You take the phrase “completely independent from God” (where Man’s origins are concerned and/or where evolution is concerned) to mean something which Bill T, myself, and Tom do not mean and in fact cannot mean given the casual paradigm of Christianity (etc.)…. Being Itself (etc.) …. and so on. The unpacking of what we are seeing inside of Man fails to end in mere particle cascades (or whatever) once Man is inside of the Christian paradigm.

    [2] Humanity experiences complex systems of beliefs (edifices) which, over time, perhaps even centuries, turn out to be quite lacking in sense. Therefore, the phrase “nonsensical edifice” not only has common English on its side, but also large swaths of humanity’s history.

  277. Irenicus,

    My thought experiment doesn´t give a rat´s rectum about what Christianity claims, it is about which conclusions do and do not follow from a specific premise, 100% independent of whether any Christian makes that premise or not.

    Well, that seems to bring us around full circle. Everything you’ve built up in your edifice is clearly irrelevant to the topic at hand given that nothing in your edifice has anything to do with Christianity’s claims and premises and therefore your claim of….

    Whether we are the product of unguided evolution or not is completely irrelevant – which is precisely what I aimed to demonstrate and did demonstrate…

    is entirely vacuous given that we find entirely different conclusions and observations when looked at through the Christian paradigm’s lens versus when looked at through any Non-Theistic (and in particular Non-Christian) paradigm’s lens.

    Some lenses give us a far more exhaustive picture of reality than others. Some lenses give us far more observations than others.

  278. Irenicus,

    As noted: Some lenses give us a far more exhaustive picture of reality than others. Some lenses give us far more observations than others.

    We can add, and must add, the obvious:

    Some lenses, because they give us far more observations than others, also carry us into very different conclusions than others.

    That is why your “which conclusions do and do not follow from a specific premise…” and your, “Whether we are the product of unguided evolution or not is completely irrelevant….” are simply, and completely, wrong.

    As to which lens gives us a more exhaustive picture of reality, and hence which conclusions necessarily and/or rationally follow from this or that premise, well now, that seems to be at the heart of the topic at hand in Tom’s OP (opening piece).

  279. Of significance given the topic of moral means and ends:

    The Christian paradigm is unique in that it finds — in Trinity — the (borrowing from P. Alawonde) “absolute concept” (Being) to necessarily or irreducibly house “love’s ceaseless reciprocity“. Trinity finds, or reveals, in God interfaces among “Self-Other” in what constitutes love’s “ceaseless reciprocity” and it finds that not in any mutable and contingent status but rather in nothing less than the Necessary Being.

    Morality begins and ends in love.

    That is a “metaphysical claim” which the Christian genre alone finds implicitly and explicitly in the very ground of all being, ours included.

    That The Good is objectively true, non-arbitrary, non-contingent (necessary etc.), and immutable is not a premise which requires Man’s perception to be infallible. Rather, it requires that The Good is reality’s “rock bottom” and that it is that which is discoverable along the way as opposed to invented along the way. It also requires something very different than an infinite regress of mutable and contingent “Perception / Meaning-Maker” interfaces. Rather, it requires an interface with something that is immutable, timeless, ceaseless, and necessary.

    Reason, logic, and conveyed meanings all begin to converge here within our world soaked through with Good and Good-Minus-Some-Thing (Good and Evil) in our own discovery of love’s reciprocity amid our own personal interfaces (Self/Other) and also as we discover those same interfaces within Trinity (the Christian’s triune God).

    That is why Scripture’s claim that God is love is not a reference to mutable and contingent [feelings / goals / consequences] inside of mutable and contingent creatures (Man) but, rather, such is Scripture’s claim that Ultimate Reality (which is not Man) is love which is Scripture’s claim that Man’s true good, Man’s final felicity, is love — is the Triune God.

  280. Qualification:

    In the previous comment there was this:

    “The Christian paradigm is unique in that it finds — in Trinity — the (borrowing from P. Alawonde) “absolute concept” (Being) to necessarily or irreducibly house……..”

    The borrowed phrase there may need some explanation as to why it is relevant to the topic of morality. The phrase is referring to the very ground of all being itself (including our own being as contingent beings), namely, the only non-contingent being, which is “God” or “Being Itself”, which are, obviously, very different references than discussing going from non-being to being (as in any contingent being etc.). The term of “absolute concept” came from Alawonde in this:

    P. Alawonde: “M.G. how does ‘order of being’ mean being is subsumed under order? The ‘of’ clearly tells us what is subject to what. Being is an absolute concept, indeed the first thing the intellect grasps. It can be subordinate to nothing.”

    M.G. replied: “Well I mean, when you say being is .. “An absolute concept” it subsumes being under the category of absolute concepts, as if the idea of absoluteness and the idea of concept preceded “being”. The general problem is just how can “being” be the genus of all things while at the same time being specified under certain categories? Even more generally, how can two things be the species and genus of one another at the same time? Perhaps there is a fallacy in my thinking, idk? This is problematic because we are explaining a basic concept with a concept that is subordinate to it.”

    P. Alawonde replied: “It seems you’re conflating the several senses in which ‘is’ may be used. That being is an absolute concept does not preclude its being unique to that genus, as you’re implicitly assuming. So, to stop you getting yourself confused further, being is the most absolute concept.”

    This has an immediate and direct impact upon the fundamentally different conclusions which we make about morality / man in *any* Christian setting with respect to *any* path from non-being to being:

    “The idea is perhaps best stated in Platonic terms of the sort Aquinas uses (in an Aristotelianized form) in the Fourth Way. To be a tree or to be a stone is merely to participate in “treeness” or “stoneness.” But to be at all – which is the characteristic effect of an act of creation out of nothing – is to participate in Being Itself. Now the principle of proportionate causality tells us that whatever is in an effect must be in some way in its cause. And only that which just is Being Itself can, in this case, be a cause proportionate to the effect, since the effect is not merely to be a tree or to be a stone, but to be at all. So only God – who just is pure actuality or Being Itself rather than a being among others – can cause a thing to exist ex nihilo.” (Feser)

    The fact that Being Itself (God) is the “absolute concept” (borrowed from P. Alawonde) finds us at a kind of juncture:

    “As Plotinus’s remark indicates, that does not mean that the will does not have a role to play. But that is true wherever reason leads us to a conclusion we might not like, not merely in matters of religion. And once you have allowed yourself to see the truth that reason leads you to, what reason apprehends is (given the convertibility of the transcendentals) as good and beautiful as it is real. If you find yourself intellectually convinced that there is a divine Uncaused Cause who sustains the world and you in being at every instant, and don’t find this conclusion extremely strange and moving, something that leads you to a kind of reverence, then I daresay you haven’t understood it. Of course, there are those whose heads and hearts are so out of sync that they cannot follow both at the same time. But we shouldn’t mistake this pathology for an insight into human nature. (Feser)

    It is in the context of the absolute that we find love’s interfaces and therein it is in this sense of the absolute that we find love’s ceaseless reciprocity within “Trinity”, or the Christian’s triune God, as discussed earlier. That is why, when it comes to what Man’s *being* is in the Christian paradigm, it is the case that morality “absolutely” and “irreducibly” begins and ends in “God”, which is to say in “Being Itself, which is to say as only the Christian can vis-à-vis the God Who is love, in “immutable love”. That is why it is a “metaphysical claim” which the Christian genre alone (and nowhere in Non-Theism) finds implicitly and explicitly in the very ground of all being – man’s included.

  281. scbrownlhrm

    [A] You take the phrase “completely independent from God” (where Man’s origins are concerned and/or where evolution is concerned) to mean something which Bill T, myself, and Tom do not mean and in fact cannot mean given the casual paradigm of Christianity (etc.)

    Hint: Quotation marks are used for *quotes*, not for your rephrasing of what someone else has said.
    And I have already addressed this point. Twice.
    Do you believe that all decisions you make are pre-determined by God – yes or no? If you do not believe that, then your conception of “God” actually is perfectly compatible with “unguided evolution” – because there is conceptually no difference between you making a “free” decision in the sense that God does not determine the outcome of your choice, and changes within a population of darwinian replicators happening without God determining which changes will happen. And if neither God, nor any other sentient being, determines which changes happen in evolutionary trajectories – then evolution is “unguided”.
    You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and a) we have libertarian free will but b) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either a AND b are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither a NOR b are possible.

    [2] Humanity experiences complex systems of beliefs (edifices) which, over time, perhaps even centuries, turn out to be quite lacking in sense. Therefore, the phrase “nonsensical edifice” not only has common English on its side, but also large swaths of humanity’s history.

    You are still being deliberately obtuse.

  282. scbrownlhrm

    Well, that seems to bring us around full circle. Everything you’ve built up in your edifice is clearly irrelevant to the topic at hand given that nothing in your edifice has anything to do with Christianity’s claims and premises and therefore your claim of….

    Whether we are the product of unguided evolution or not is completely irrelevant – which is precisely what I aimed to demonstrate and did demonstrate…

    is entirely vacuous given that we find entirely different conclusions and observations when looked at through the Christian paradigm’s lens versus when looked at through any Non-Theistic (and in particular Non-Christian) paradigm’s lens.

    Nope. My thought experiment indeed did demonstrate this and the truth of this conclusion is 100% independent of whether Christianity is true or not – the conclusion would be true if Christianity is false and would still be true if Christianity is true.

  283. [1] Occasionalism is a fallacy where causation and God are concerned.

    [2] When it comes to God, causality, and Man’s volition it is important to distinguish (properly) between concurrentism, occasionalism, and conservationism and also between the (different) ontological commitments vis-à-vis Causality, Pantheism, and Deism in order to maintain precision.

    [3] The claim or thought experiment which includes the idea that Man is in some sense isolated from, untouched by, un-defined by, ultimately un-defined by, independent from, and so on, that which is the ground of all being — namely immutable love, Trinity, G-O-D, Being Itself, and so on, is a claim or thought experiment which is utterly Atheistic on all fronts. Such amounts to nothing more than claiming that IF there is no God involved in our equations for a path from non-being to being THEN Man and Morality are found to be as they are within the Atheist’s paradigm. That’s true, trivial, and uninteresting.

  284. Apparently in Atheism or Non-Theism it is the case that the Science of Man and the Science of Reality conclude that [Reality’s / Man’s] irreducible datum or primordial datum or rock-bottom of *all* causation(s) throughout all of “actuality” is immutable love and such is true of *any* path from non-being to being. Who’d-a thunk such-a-ting. But so it is.

  285. scbrownlhrm,

    [2] When it comes to God, causality, and Man’s volition it is important to distinguish (properly) between concurrentism, occasionalism, and conservationism and also between the (different) ontological commitments vis-à-vis Causality, Pantheism, and Deism in order to maintain precision.

    Which has literally nothing to do with what I pointed out:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and a) we have libertarian free will but b) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either a AND b are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither a NOR b are possible. ”

    [3] The claim or thought experiment which includes the idea that Man is in some sense isolated from, untouched by, un-defined by, ultimately un-defined by, independent from, and so on, that which is the ground of all being — namely immutable love, Trinity, G-O-D, Being Itself, and so on, is a claim or thought experiment which is utterly Atheistic on all fronts.

    The “sense” of “independent from God” I am talking about is the *exact* same sense as your free willed choices are “independent from God” (i.e. they are not determined by God) given libertarian free will.
    Do you believe that humans have libertarian free will, yes or no?

  286. [1] Relevant beliefs here fall in line, for the most part, with the links above. And with the link which follows.

    One is free to take them or leave them.

    [2] The topic is this or that path from non-being to being, and in particular the narrow slice that is “particle cascades” and the “unbroken chain of continuity” or “continuum of causation that is “physics”” – which is all the Non-Theist has to work with when building his edifice (complex system of beliefs) of causation. Inside such an unbroken chain of continuity (the Non-Theist’s paradigm) we find nothing whatsoever, at all, anywhere, of efficient or formal or final causality or etc.. Those causes within physicality are [A] non-existent in any materialist / non-theistic paradigm and [B] are not and cannot sum to the whole show given that physicality is not and cannot be the whole show. Whatever evolution is, that path from non-being to being, of Dirt-To-Man, it is categorically different not only because of what is discussed in the link in this comment (how odd that Non-Theists fight so hard against the idea of formal causes, whereas Irenicus wants to claim them as his own non-theistic causal paradigm) but also because of the wider causal paradigm discussed in the several links in the last comment which subsumes and transcends mere physicality and which annihilates all of the Non-Theist’s attempts at infusing the Christian’s paradigm with his own (Non-Theistic) paradigm’s over-determination. Well, “over-determination” as in,

    But the problem has to do with his assumption that the microphysical level is metaphysically privileged (an assumption I criticize in Scholastic Metaphysics). We need not take issue with Merricks’ rejection of overdetermination. (Note that the issue of “overdetermination” has nothing to do with causal determinism. The idea is just that if a cause A suffices all by itself to explain an effect E, the assumption that there was some further cause B involved would make E overdetermined in the sense of having more causes than are necessary to account for it. Whether the relationship between A and E is one of deterministic causation, specifically, is not at issue.) (Feser, linked in earlier comment)

    [3] We’re glad to see that our Non-Theist friend(s) agree with the Christian in their conclusion that the Science of Man and the Science of Reality conclude that [Reality’s / Man’s] irreducible datum or primordial datum or rock-bottom of *all* causation(s) throughout all of “actuality” is immutable love vis-à-vis the ground and source of all being, namely Being Itself, and that such is true of *any* path from non-being to being.

  287. scbrownlhrm
    that comment is again largely word salad. The conclusion remains:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and a) we have libertarian free will but b) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either a AND b are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither a NOR b are possible. ”

  288. Irenicus,

    [1] If you find the three links to Feser to be word salad where causation and man’s volition are concerned and where evolution is concerned, I can’t help you. You can take them or leave them.

    [2] You seem to assert that if I go on my merry way, and God lets me, and, if No-God, and particles cascade (materialism) this way and that way, fully defined by the causes within physics alone – full stop, then both Man and our respective causal paradigms are identical in both situations in their path from non-being to being.

    [3] You leave out of your accounting all the affairs of the rock-bottom of all causation there in what just is [A] immutable love, Trinity, G-O-D, Being Itself, [B] efficient, formal, and final causality, and [C] the contents of the three links in the last few comments.

    [4] Whatever evolution is, that path from non-being to being, of Dirt-To-Man, it is categorically different not only because of what is discussed in the link in the last comment (how odd that Non-Theists fight so hard against the idea of formal causes, whereas you want to claim them as your own non-theistic causal paradigm) but also because of the wider causal paradigm discussed in the several links in the comment preceding it.

    Were it not for the fact of [3] and [4], we would find that [2] might have a chance, if “god” where not the Christian God.

    However, [3] and [4] and even the contents of [1] must be added and, also, the Christian God is not the sort of *god* which you need for [2] to work.

    Hence [2] becomes untenable.

    Also: We’re glad that you conclude that immutable love defines all causation(s) and thereby agree with the Christian.

  289. scbrownlhrm

    If you find the three links to Feser to be word salad where causation and man’s volition are concerned and where evolution is concerned, I can’t help you.

    You posted three completely random links that at no point contradict, or even just try to contradict, what I pointed out:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and a) we have libertarian free will but b) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either a AND b are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither a NOR b are possible. ”

    You seem to assert that….

    No, I don´t seem to.

  290. Irenicus,

    Clarification:

    The “contents of [1]” refers to the three links to Feser. [2] is simply untenable given such definitions, terms, and claims upon reality.

    That is to say that where evolution (physicality) and where Man (the immaterial, or the “Adamic”) are concerned, the following is untenable:

    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”

    Whatever evolution is, that path from non-being to being, of Dirt-To-Man, it is categorically different not only because of what is discussed in the link in the last comment (how odd that Non-Theists fight so hard against the idea of formal causes, whereas you want to claim them as your own non-theistic causal paradigm) but also because of the wider causal paradigm discussed in the several links in the comment preceding it.

  291. Irenicus,

    Apparently you seem to believe the following:

    [1] Evolution consists of, *not* the anthology of causation with physics – full stop – but – rather- efficient and formal causes, and final causes, and immutable love as the root of all causation.

    [2] As for the immaterial with respect to Man’s volition and Mind’s intentionality, well it seems you agree once again with the Christian that such are immaterial, un-coerced, void of “As-If” intentionality (discussed earlier in this thread with a long-ish quote from Feser), and “compatible” (there’s a nice word) with that middle way as per the discussions in the three Feser links which avoid any false dichotomies.

  292. scbrownlhrm

    The “contents of [1]” refers to the three links to Feser. [2] is simply untenable given such definitions, terms, and claims upon reality.

    That is to say that where evolution (physicality) and where Man (the immaterial, or the “Adamic”) are concerned, the following is untenable:

    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”

    Your entire “argument” boils down to:
    You are wrong because I can post three random links to Feser´s blog that have nothing to do with what you pointed out!

    That is a non sequitur. What I pointed out:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    – is not contradicted by *anything* in Feser´s posts.

    Apparently you seem to believe the following

    No, I don´t “seem to believe” that.

  293. Irenicus,

    Glucose molecules (or whatever) and the Minded Agent have some inherent differences where intentionality is concerned and hence where efficient and formal and final causes are concerned. Just because you fail to differentiate what efficient, formal, and final causality entail within material and evolution, and just because you fail to differentiate that un-minded glucose molecule (or whatever) from the Minded with respect to inherent intentionality and the volitional and immaterial Will, and just because by doing so you set up a false dichotomy, that is no reason to think that your A and B are of any significance. They are simply not reflective of what is going on within the Christian paradigm and that is why your hammering away with your false dichotomy of a kind of bizarre form of total freedom vs. a kind of bizarre form of total determinism is simply of no consequence as it’s expressly built atop Non-Christian terms. Such lacks the Christian’s “compatible” (there’s a nice word) collocation of causes with that middle way as per the discussions in the three Feser links which avoid your clear and obvious false dichotomy.

  294. scbrownlhrm

    Glucose molecules (or whatever) and the Minded Agent have some inherent differences…

    Cool. And those “differences” totally invalidate what I pointed out:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    No wait…. They actually don´t contradict what I pointed out in any way whatsoever.

  295. The differences there and elsewhere find your thought experiment irrelevant.

    [Your totally free and your totally unguided] vs. [your totally un-free and your totally determined] premises are simply not found inside of the Christian paradigm and hence it presents a dichotomy which the Christian just doesn’t find very interesting. Hence it’s irrelevant to the way the world works and the way Man is with respect to the Christian’s causal paradigm.

    Also, not only that, but you seem to equate all of that as if it’s all the “same” level, degree, or whatever both in dirt/material interfaces with such bizarre “causation” and in mind/immaterial interfaces with such bizarre “causation”.

  296. scbrownlhrm

    All you do is assert and name-drop. I´ve argued for my case and you provided no counterarguments whatsoever – all you did is post random links, name-drop some concepts, and assert that I am wrong without supporting that assertion with anything even remotely resembling an argument.

    Also, not only that, but you seem to…

    Everything you attributed to me so far that was not based on direct quotes was invariable a caricature that doesn´t follow from anything I ever wrote in any way, shape or form. To save time, I´ll just call that the “scb-rule” and will refer to it when you do it yet again.

  297. Irenicus,

    Perhaps if you unpacked this business of total freedom / total unguided with respect to “Being Itself” and causation (Etc.) and this business of totally unfree and totally determined with respect to “Being Itself” and causation? Also, perhaps if you unpacked it wrt “dirt/unminded” verses the “minded agent” as well?

    It is, as it stands, a false dichotomy.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t change definitions and make a valid dichotomy (which is what you’ve done). Anyone can do that with any thought experiment.

    But one is then talking about *god* and not God.

    Etc……

  298. scbrownlhrm

    It is, as it stands, a false dichotomy

    scb-rule (see #324)

    My conclusion stands:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    – and you offered nothing whatsoever to rebut it.

  299. Irenicus,

    Feser’s three links give a basic framework of the causal paradigm which doesn’t find a good reason to apply the terms of your thought experiment.

    Well, if you don’t want to unpack the terms and nuances of your causal paradigm wrt “dirt/unminded” things and wrt “minded agents”, then thanks for your time.

  300. Irenicus,

    In the 3 links, we don’t find the “totally free of God” nor the “totally determined by God”. Not wrt dirt or unminded things nor wrt minded agents.

    That’s the primary premise being supported here.

    The immutable continuum of causation that is “physics — full stop” forces very different conclusions than we find inside of a universe soaked through with the causal paradigm in three Feser links.

  301. [1] God exists. Nothing can, in any possible universe, stand isolated from God.

    [2] Man’s path (evolution or any other path) from non-being to being cannot be unguided. Efficient, formal, and final causes (…and so on…) exist. This is not the case in the causal paradigm of “Physics – Full Stop”.

    [3] We have free will. God does not determine our decisions. The created Will – the created Self – the Minded Agent – inherently and volitionally chooses.

    In the 3 Feser links from earlier, we don’t find the “totally free of God” nor the “totally determined by God”. Not with respect to dirt or un-minded things nor with respect to minded agents.

    That’s the primary premise being supported here.

    In *any* path from non-being to being we are forced into conclusions about Man given the contents of that path.

    A universe soaked through with the unending and immutable continuum of causation that is “Physics — Full Stop” forces upon us conclusions about Man that are very different conclusions than the conclusions about Man which are forced upon us inside of a universe soaked through with the causal paradigm described in the three Feser links.

  302. scbrownlhrm

    Feser’s three links give a basic framework of the causal paradigm which doesn’t find a good reason to apply the terms of your thought experiment

    No, they do not.

    In the 3 links, we don’t find the “totally free of God” nor the “totally determined by God”

    scb-rule

    My conclusion stands:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    – and you offered nothing whatsoever to rebut it.

  303. Man’s path from Non-Being to Being:

    [1] God exists. Nothing can, in any possible universe, stand isolated from God.

    [2] Man’s path (evolution or any other path as per the three Feser links) from non-being to being cannot be unguided in that efficient, formal, and final causes (…and so on…) exist. This is not the case in the causal paradigm of “Physics – Full Stop”.

    [3] We have free will. God does not determine our decisions. The created Will – the created Self – the Minded Agent – inherently and volitionally chooses. The “As-If intentionality” of comment #261 and #262 is a non-player in the Christian’s causal paradigm.

    Earlier in the thread we found the all too common magical thinking of the Non-Theist insisting that while physics, evolution, genes, and atoms (or whatever) don’t “want” and don’t’ “love” and don’t “intend”, and don’t “reason” and are not “rational”, and so on, Man in what he *is* at his ontological rock-bottom still *is* all of the above . Yet we have no intellectually sound response to comment #261 / #262 which can get the Non-Theist to an ontological rock-bottom of that which inherently and volitionally chooses for there are always more layers beyond the Non-Theist’s supposed “ontological rock-bottom” in all of his own arbitrary stopping points. He never wants to unpack his unjustified edifice of “the heart” but only wants to claim a sort of “As-If” the heart pumping blood is the ontologically irreducible rock-bottom of what is going on, right now, this minute, inside of Man’s chest – Full Stop. Whether Chests or Skulls the inexplicable arbitrariness of his stopping points is nothing more than evasion and question begging.

    The Non-Theist (almost) wants to claim for himself the causal paradigm described in the three Feser links such that his own limited causation driving the Whole-Show within his limited “Physics – Full Stop” can somehow escape comment #261 / #262 silicon chips and their irreducibly non-rational, non-intentional, and non-loving causations in what they *are* in the Non-Theist’s causal paradigm’s rock-bottom. That’s a proper and worthy goal given that he is trying to avoid the absurdities force upon him should he deny the undeniable but the problem is that nothing the Non-Theist presents us with gets him out of the “As-If Intentionality” (comment #261, #262) nor out of the “As-If Volitional” and into a landscape within the “inherently at rock bottom” which we find in, by, and through the “irreducibility” of volition, will, love, the-good, and so on found in the three Feser links (etc.).

    It’s bizarre as such equivocation / question begging forces the Non-Theist into a sort of “As-If” the heart pumping blood is the ontologically irreducible rock-bottom of what is going on, right now, this minute, inside of Man’s chest – Full Stop – because, per the Non-Theist, somehow, we know not how,

    ….we are not identical to the process that made us….

    Such was initially preceded by this:

    I´d recommend to reflect a little more about the differences between “process that created x” and “x itself”…..”

    In this sense he fully equates the causal paradigm (ad infinitum) of [A] “Physics — Full Stop” which describes the entire ontology of what Man “is” and which describes the entirety of what is going on inside of Man, right now, this minute, from the surface of his skin down to the “rock-bottom” within all causation inside his skull (on the one hand) with [B] the causal paradigm forcing us into the ontological landscape of final causes (first) and finally (thereby) into Immutable Love (Trinity) ad infinitum which describes the entire ontology of what Man “is” (on the other hand) and which describes causation inside of him there at what *is* his ontological rock bottom.

    In the three Feser links we find that Man’s path from non-being to being can include evolution, which is one of the reasons the three links were added here. Of course, efficient, formal, and final cause are not and cannot be accounted for in the Non-Theist’s paradigm, thereby there is “totally free of God” in the term “evolution” once we unpack that statement that evolution can be included. The problem is that Irenicus (first) states that those three Feser links were random and unrelated to this discussion (….his own personal agenda gets the better of him sometimes….but of course we all wrestle with that…..) and (second), even if he read them his reasoning (still) just sort of stops there in evolution – as if (we keep running into that phrase) that’s the entire show of the causal paradigm which the three links describe – and hence he (Ireniscus) ignores the surrounding context of *why* Man is, even if a traveler of that path (evolution) in the journey from non-being to being, still yet a traveler of far more. What happens at Q-R-S of the Alphabet isn’t the entirety of A through Z and hence without that “far more” there just is no [B] to speak of, there is only [A].

    Hence, without [B], we only have:

    [No-God = No-God], which is true, trivial, and uninteresting.

    As #307 alludes to, Man’s path from non-being to being begins with the principle of proportionate causality with respect to Being Itself, and of course therein we discover as we travel from non-being to being that which is love’s ceaseless reciprocity within Trinity surrounding, filling, and ontologically defining the Imago Dei from the ground up or, if it helps, from the dirt up. And, of course, *none* of that is anything which “Physics — Full Stop” can ever hope to comprehend, much less fashion.

    In *any* path from non-being to being we are forced into conclusions about Man given the ontological contents of that path. We cannot just arbitrarily stop short of the A and the Z of our own particular ontological chain of continuity. Doing so leads first to the fatal pains of circularity and secondly to a kind of dishonesty.

    A universe soaked through with the unending and immutable continuum of causation that is “Physics — Full Stop” forces upon us conclusions about Man that are very different conclusions than the conclusions about Man which are forced upon us inside of a universe soaked through with the causal paradigm described in the three Feser links.

    The following links (plus one more) were referenced, and while our Non-Theist friend claims they are random and unrelated, even as they address evolution specifically, they are quite informative as to the conclusions about Man which this or that particular ontological chain of continuity forces us into:

    [1] http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/01/metaphysical-middle-man.html
    [2] http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/12/causality-pantheism-and-deism.html#more
    [3] http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/11/tls-and-formal-causes.html
    [4] http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/07/carroll-on-laws-and-causation.html

  304. In this sense he fully equates the causal paradigm

    scb-rule

    The problem is that Irenicus (first) states that those three Feser links were random and unrelated to this discussion

    Because they are.

    My conclusion stands:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    – and you offered nothing whatsoever to rebut it.

  305. scbrownlhrm

    thereby there is *no* “totally free of God” in the term “evolution” once we unpack that statement that evolution can be included

    scb-rule

    My conclusion stands:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    – and you offered nothing whatsoever to rebut it.

  306. Typo:

    This:

    “….thereby there is “totally free of God” in the term “evolution” once we unpack that statement that evolution can be included…”

    Should have been:

    “….thereby there is *no* “totally free of God” in the term “evolution” once we unpack that statement that evolution can be included….”

    Also:

    The three (now four) links from Feser also help address how it is that the following are all simultaneously true:

    [1] God exists. Nothing can, in any possible universe, stand isolated from God.

    [2] Man’s path (evolution or any other path as per the three Feser links) from non-being to being cannot be unguided in that efficient, formal, and final causes (…and so on…) exist. This is not the case in the causal paradigm of “Physics – Full Stop”.

    [3] We have free will. God does not determine our decisions. The created Will – the created Self – the Minded Agent – inherently and volitionally chooses. The “As-If intentionality” of comment #261 / #262 is a non-player in the Christian’s causal paradigm – particularly with respect to the ontologically irreducible stopping point of the Imago Dei.

  307. scbrownlhrm

    “….thereby there is *no* “totally free of God” in the term “evolution” once we unpack that statement that evolution can be included….”

    scb-rule

    We have free will. God does not determine our decisions.

    And if that is at least conceptually possible, then it logically must be the case that it is similarly possible that changes in evolutionary trajectories are not determined by God. And if evolutionary trajectories are not guided by God or any other being, then evolution is “unguided”.
    There is no way for you to get around that conclusion. You can try to burn your “totally free from God” straw men as often as you like, it won´t change the fact that this is just another confirmation of the scb-rule (see #324) which does not rebut my conclusion:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    – in any way whatsoever.

  308. Irenicus

    You’ve not refuted the three simultaneously true conclusions ( [1], [2], [3], from the last few comments).

    Those are the three conclusions which the Christian’s causal paradigm simultaneously affirms as fact.

    Simultaneously.

    If you want to refute them, please show your work given the causations specific to the Christian’s causal paradigm.

    Ignoring efficient and formal and final causes in un-minded nature — and/or trying to reduce inherent intentionality to something less than inherent and irreducible in the Imago Dei just won’t do.

    The principle of proportionate causality allows God to fashion efficient, formal, and final causes (and so on) in un-minded nature and such also allows God to take that yet further and create yet more over inside of the ontologically irreducible intention / volition / love in the created and minded Imago Dei.

    Like it or not, [1], [2], and [3] are the only conclusions in-play unless you want to just up and re-define ontology.

  309. scbrownlhrm,

    You’ve not refuted the three simultaneously true conclusions ( [1], [2], [3], from the last few comments).

    Of course I have. “Unguided” evolution requires, conceptually, the exact same “freedom” that libertarian free will requires – you admit that libertarian free will is compatible with the existence of God, ergo, “unguided” evolution must be compatible with the existence of God as well.
    There is no way for you to get around that conclusion and *you didn´t even try to get around it so far* – all you did is try to burn down the same silly “totally free from God” straw man over and over and over again, which does nothing to rebut my conclusion:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    – in any way whatsoever.

  310. Irenicus,

    You’re ignoring the three conclusions, and, also, and even worse, you’re equating natures.

    The principle of proportionate causality allows God to fashion efficient, formal, and final causes (and so on) in un-minded nature and such also allows God to take that yet further and create yet more over inside of the ontologically irreducible intention / volition / love in the created and minded Imago Dei.

    The essence and nature of the un-minded particle cascade is not identical to the essence and nature of the Imago Dei. They are categorically different as one has more than the other. The latter does not erase the former, rather, the latter is that and more.

    You’re not doing anything other than taking the essence and nature of un-minded particle cascades soaked through with efficient, formal, and final causes (and so on) and equating “that” to a very different essence and nature over inside of the ontologically irreducible intention / volition / love in the created and minded Imago Dei.

    I’m sorry but the nature and essence (and hence category of freedom) within the Imago Dei just isn’t the same kind of nature and essence (and hence category freedom) within un-minded particle cascades. Like it or not the principle of proportionate causality forces such upon us in the sense that it is not merely “possible” but in the sense that it *IS* that which the Christian causal paradigm clearly differentiates.

    Again, you’ll have to use the Christian’s causal paradigm and its terms and its definitions and its differentiations if you want to do something other than just up and re-define stuff.

    Re-defining stuff is fine, but it leaves us with the irrelevant and the uninteresting.

    Like it or not, in the Christian causal paradigm, the un-minded nature / un-minded essence does *NOT* equate to (erase that equal sign) the nature and essence of irreducible love, irreducible volition, irreducible intention over inside of the essence and nature of the Imago Dei. The two categories of freedom cannot be accepted in your false identity claim here given the fact that the principle of proportionate causality forces such upon us in the sense that it is not merely “possible” but in the sense that it *IS* that which the Christian causal paradigm clearly differentiates.

    So far you’ve not dealt with such an obvious and clear fact, but have merely ignored such differences — such facts — that which just *IS* the present state of affairs.

  311. scbrownlhrm

    You’re ignoring the three conclusions, and, also, and even worse, you’re equating natures

    scb-rule

    You’re not doing anything other than taking the essence and nature of un-minded particle cascades soaked through with efficient, formal, and final causes (and so on) and equating “that” to a very different essence and nature over inside of the ontologically irreducible intention / volition / love in the created and minded Imago Dei.

    Unguided evolution requires the same freedom that libertarian free will requires, if ther latter is conceptually possible with God, then the former must be conceptually possible with God as well.
    There is no way around this conclusion.
    What you are trying to do is merely asserting that human free will does have this property (“freedom”) but evolution does not – even if that were true (and you have nothing beyond the mere assertion that it is), that still wouldn´t change the fact that IF God exists AND we have libertarian free will, is logically *necessarily* possible that evolution has the same kind of freedom and would hence be unguided.
    You still have not presented anything even remotely resembling a counterargument to this – all you do is merely assert that evolution does not have this kind of freedom, and even if I´d grant you that, it would still not affect my conclusion that unguided evolution would *necessarily* be possible with God if libertarian free will is possible with God.

    I’m sorry but the nature and essence (and hence category of freedom) within the Imago Dei just isn’t the same kind of nature and essence (and hence category freedom) within un-minded particle cascades

    100% irrelevant. If it is possible for one to have the property “freedom from God” (in the sense that God does not pre-determine it), it must logically be possible for the other one as well.

    Again, you’ll have to use the Christian’s causal paradigm and its terms and its definitions and its differentiations if you want to do something other than just up and re-define stuff.

    I didn´t redefine anything. I´m logically consistent while you try to get away with special pleading.

    Like it or not, in the Christian causal paradigm, the un-minded nature / un-minded essence does *NOT* equate to

    Irrelevant. No one claims that they are equal, what I pointed out is that if one can be “free”, so can the other.

  312. Irenics,

    Again you’re equating the causal contents, essence, and nature of the un-minded soaked through with E & F & F causes (on the one hand) to the casual contents, essence, and nature of the Imago Dei (on the other hand). The categories of causation, and therein of freedom, are differentiated by Scripture and by the Feser links. “….If one can be free, so can the other….” just ignores what *IS* and talks about some other universe that *ISN’T* and just pretends that the nature of A (what IS) is the nature of B (what ISN’T).

    Such a Non-Christian move on your part might work to support your premise, and hence your conclusion, and that’s fine, but, again, just up and redefining stuff leaves us with the irrelevant, the uninteresting, and the trivially true.

    As alluded to in comment #307, what *IS* and what *ISN’T* has an immediate and direct impact upon the fundamentally different conclusions which we make about morality / man in *any* Christian setting with respect to *any* path from non-being to being:

    “The idea is perhaps best stated in Platonic terms of the sort Aquinas uses (in an Aristotelianized form) in the Fourth Way. To be a tree or to be a stone is merely to participate in “treeness” or “stoneness.” But to be at all – which is the characteristic effect of an act of creation out of nothing – is to participate in Being Itself. Now the principle of proportionate causality tells us that whatever is in an effect must be in some way in its cause. And only that which just is Being Itself can, in this case, be a cause proportionate to the effect, since the effect is not merely to be a tree or to be a stone, but to be at all. So only God – who just is pure actuality or Being Itself rather than a being among others – can cause a thing to exist ex nihilo.” (Feser)

    Now, the same principle of proportionate causality finds us over inside of the Imago Dei there within the category of freedom found within love itself and within the irreducibly volitional and within the irreducible Self as God can, and has (whether you like it or not) therein and thereby differentiated Man in and by that which this entire thread has been chasing, namely, the Imago Dei.

    The ontology of Man includes the former, earlier things, the former, earlier categories of causation, but goes on, up ahead of them, adding to them, such that the causal contents, essence, and nature of the un-minded soaked through with E & F & F causes and so on is surpassed (not bypassed) by the casual contents, essence, and nature of the Imago Dei.

    You’ve not defended the notion that the categories of freedom with which we are dealing are identical nor have you given any justification to just up and pretend that what ISN’T the case IS the case when it comes to those categories.

    Whether you like it or not, A is not B in said categories.

  313. scbrownlhrm,

    Again you’re equating the causal contents, essence, and nature of the un-minded soaked through with E & F & F causes (on the one hand) to the casual contents, essence, and nature of the Imago Dei

    Nope. I never did equate those. I pointed that if it is possible for one to have property x in a world where God exists, it must be possible for the other to have property x as well.
    And you have presented nothing whatsoever to rebut that conclusion.

    The categories of causation, and therein of freedom, are differentiated by Scripture and by the Feser links. “….If one can be free, so can the other….” just ignores what *IS* and talks about some other universe that *ISN’T* and just pretends that the nature of A (what IS) is the nature of B (what ISN’T).

    Even if that were so (and you have nothing but the mere assertion that it is) – a thought experiment just requires that it is logically POSSIBLE, not that it in fact is so.

  314. Irenicus,

    You’ve not defended the notion that the categories of freedom with which we are dealing are identical nor have you given any justification to just up and pretend that what ISN’T the case IS the case when it comes to those categories. Whether you like it or not, A is not B in said categories.

    What actually is the case and your thought experiment are completely unrelated, and that’s okay (per you) as far as it goes given that you’re just inventing a logical possibility based on a Non-Christian causal paradigm.

    Setting up and dealing with Non-Christian paradigms is certainly easer than dealing with Christianity’s actual truth claims.

  315. scbrownlhrm

    You’ve not defended the notion that the categories of freedom with which we are dealing are identical nor have you given any justification to just up and pretend that what ISN’T the case IS the case when it comes to those categories.

    And I don´t need to defend the claim that they ARE identical, I need to defend the claim that they COULD BE identical – because that is all that my thought experiment requires.
    And if it is logically possible for libertarian free will to exist if God exists, then it must be logically possible for evolution to be unguided if God exists, because both the former and the latter require the exact same kind of “freedom”.
    You can repeat the mere assertion that the human will has this freedom while evolution does not until you are blue in the face – I COULD EVEN GRANT YOU THAT THIS IS SO! – it still won´t change the fact that unguided evolution is logically necessarily possible with God if libertarian free will IS possible with God.

    What actually is the case and your thought experiment are completely unrelated

    That is a mere assertion and even if it would be true, it would still be 100% irrelevant (protip: try reading up on what a “thought experiment” conceptually IS and what it is NOT).

  316. Irenicus,

    Yes, conceptually your thought experiment works inside of a Non-Christian paradigm soaked through with a Non-Christian god, and it does not work inside of a Christian paradigm soaked through with the Christian G-O-D.

    We get that now and have from the beginning of this thread’s chasing after the Imago Dei.

  317. scbrownlhrm,

    Yes, conceptually your thought experiment works inside of a Non-Christian paradigm soaked through with a Non-Christian god, and it does not work inside of a Christian paradigm soaked through with the Christian G-O-D.

    If by “Christian paradigm” you mean “God” as he would be according to classical theism, this is just false because my thought experiment is perfectly compatible with that conception of “God” – it doesn´t contradict it in any way whatsoever.

  318. Irenicus,

    So, again, your god, who you want to call God, can make un-minded and non-loving particle cascades soaked through with E, F, and F causes which factually and metaphysically sum to the Image Dei.

    True, granting this un-minded and non-loving *god* the power to do nonsense is helpful for your thought experiment, but, again, it’s just irrelevant to what actually is the case.

  319. scbrownlhrm

    So, again, your god, who you want to call God, can make un-minded and non-loving particle cascades soaked through with E, F, and F causes which factually and metaphysically sum to the Image Dei.

    There is no definition of “Imago Dei” anywhere that reduces to “not being pre-determined by God”. So this is just another instance of the scb-rule.

    True, granting this un-minded and non-loving *god* the power to do nonsense….

    You did nothing to demonstrate that God giving evolution the same kind of freedom that the human will allegedly has would be “un-minded”, “non-loving” and “nonsensical”. All you have is an emotional preference – you prefer that God would not do this. And you have no logical argument that God being “un-minded”, “non-loving” and “nonsensical” would follow from your emotional and arbitrary preference, all you have is a completely unwarranted assertion.

  320. Irenicus,

    You are, again, equating [A] the ontological causal content and hence ontological category of freedom within un-minded and non-loving particle cascades soaked through with E, F, and F causes with [B] the ontological causal content and hence ontological category of freedom within the Imago Dei.

    Since the Christian paradigm clearly differentiates those, you’ll have to justify your false identity claim (it’s false on Christianity’s terms).

    And you still have not shown why it is not nonsense to assert that [A] can, in any possible universe, sum to [B].

  321. scbrownlhrm

    You are, again, equating [A] the ontological causal content and hence ontological category of freedom within un-minded and non-loving particle cascades soaked through with E, F, and F causes with [B] the ontological causal content and hence ontological category of freedom within the Imago Dei.

    “There is no definition of “Imago Dei” anywhere that reduces to “not being pre-determined by God”. So this is just another instance of the scb-rule.”

    And you still have not shown why it is not nonsense to assert that [A] can, in any possible universe, sum to [B].

    “There is no definition of “Imago Dei” anywhere that reduces to “not being pre-determined by God”. So this is just another instance of the scb-rule.”

  322. Irenicus,

    Your premises are again ignoring Christianity’s definitions:

    [A] Did evolution have a choice as to landing within Man? *Any* path from non-being to being finds the physical (time, space, temporal becoming) laced through and through with E, F, and F causes (etc.) and hence the answer is clearly “no”.

    [B] Does Man have a choice to love, to hate, to land within immutable love (God)? The answer is clearly “yes”. E, F, and F causes are all still there, only, now there is far, far more as we enter into a whole different category and width and breadth and height of freedom within the image of the God …..Who is love…. there in the Imago Dei.

    But how can the nature and essence of Man / [B] have inherent, irreducible volition when the nature and essence of [A] does not? The principle of proportionate causality provides (described in #307 and elsewhere) clarity on both the means and the ends of that particular full-stop within the essence and nature of the Imago Dei. Just because “Physics — Full Stop” cannot account for such a stopping point is no reason to claim that God cannot or that said stopping point is (at bottom) a kind of illusion.

    [A] is not [B] and in fact [A] cannot, in any possible universe, sum to [B]. The fact that your thought experiment needs some universe somewhere wherein [A = B] is fine as far as pretend realities and pretend gods go, but such isn’t relevant to reality as it actually is, nor to the true God.

  323. Random observation:

    In reference to #350’s [A] and [B] we can add the obvious observation that the physical (time, space, temporal becoming) in any Non-Theist paradigm, being void of E, F, and F causes (efficient, formal, final causes, and etc…), is absolutely and irrecoverably morally distinct from the Christian’s [A], never mind the Christian’s [B]. In the ontology of any Non-Theistic version of “A” it is the case that Man = No-Man = Some other Life = No-Life. That has profound impacts on the ontology of morality. In an odd way, one does not even need the Christian’s [B] to surpass the Non-Theist with respect to the absolute/immutable “inherent meaning-maker” as the Non-Theist has none while even the Christian’s [A] does, never mind the Christian’s [B]. Of course, the Christian’s [B] ushers in the contours of immutable love and irreducible volition in and by the Imago Dei, and so clarity rushes in, but, still, it’s sort of interesting that the blurry and hazy rumblings within the Christian’s [A] speak of a far greater yet to come. Even as, still today, here inside of our [B], we see yet more horizons, yet farther up ahead, of still greater things yet to come.

  324. scbrownlhrm

    [A] is not [B] and in fact [A] cannot, in any possible universe, sum to [B]. The fact that your thought experiment needs some universe somewhere wherein [A = B]

    scb-rule

    My conclusion stands:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    – and you offered nothing whatsoever to rebut it.

  325. Irenicus,

    Yes, we know you believe that — and it’s true over inside of another universe with another god.

    But in our own universe, with our own God’s Image:

    [A] Did evolution have a choice as to landing within Man? *Any* path from non-being to being finds the physical (time, space, temporal becoming) laced through and through with E, F, and F causes (etc.) and hence the answer is clearly “no”.

    [B] Does Man have a choice to love, to hate, to land within immutable love (God)? The answer is clearly “yes”. E, F, and F causes are all still there, only, now there is far, far more as we enter into a whole different category and width and breadth and height of freedom within the image of the God …..Who is love…. there in the Imago Dei.

    You seem to agree that they are both possible.

    A and B are both possible.

    You also seem to state that they must otherwise both be impossible.

    Given that A cannot be, in any universe, B, and that A is true while B is also true, well then you have that second part wrong.

  326. Given that A cannot be, in any universe, B, and that A is true while B is also true, well then you have that second part wrong.

    scb-rule

    My conclusion stands:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    – and you offered nothing whatsoever to rebut it.

  327. Irenicus,

    Then you’ll have to clarify whether or not the following are both true on your view:

    [A] Did evolution have a choice as to landing within Man? *Any* path from non-being to being finds the physical (time, space, temporal becoming) laced through and through with E, F, and F causes (etc.) and hence the answer is clearly “no”.

    [B] Does Man have a choice to love, to hate, to land within immutable love (God)? The answer is clearly “yes”. E, F, and F causes are all still there, only, now there is far, far more as we enter into a whole different category and width and breadth and height of freedom within the image of the God …..Who is love…. there in the Imago Dei.

    Irreducible and inherent volition is found within B, but no within A.

    Since you seem to disagree, though it’s unclear if that is the case, can you help us understand if you disagree, and, if so, why?

    The reason for the request for clarification is it will help us understand where A and B are to be properly located within your thought experiment.

  328. scbrownlhrm,

    Then you’ll have to clarify whether or not the following are both true on your view

    No, I do not have to clarify that because it has literally nothing whatsoever to do with what I have demonstrated – in other words:
    scb-rule (yet again)

    My conclusion stands:
    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot, not even in principle, be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”
    – and you offered nothing whatsoever to rebut it.

  329. Irenicus,

    It’s unclear what you’re stating.

    Let’s see if I have this correct:

    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists…”

    Well clearly we claim God exists.

    and…

    “A) we have libertarian free will”

    Well clearly we claim inherent and irreducible volition uncontrolled by God where actual choice is concerned over inside of the Imago Dei in that the Imago Dei houses inherent, irreducible volition such that Man clearly has a choice, un-controlled by God, as to whether or not he loves, or hates, or lands within immutable love (God). The means thereof are found in actualities which only God can create (principle of proportionate causality).

    but….

    “B) evolution cannot be “unguided””

    So far so good, as evolution cannot be unguided given E, F, and F causes — evolution had no choice but to land within Man.

    So we affirm all three, depending on your definitions. The Imago Dei houses inherent, irreducible volition such that Man clearly has a choice, un-controlled by God, as to whether or not he loves, or hates, or lands within immutable love (God). The means thereof are found in actualities which only God can create (principle of proportionate causality).

    Of course, your thought experiment is your business and so you can use or not use that definition.

    So then, so far, we have this:

    We affirm all three:

    1. God exists.

    2. The Imago Dei houses inherent, irreducible volition such that Man clearly has a choice, un-controlled by God, as to whether or not he loves, or hates, or lands within immutable love (God). The means thereof is found in actuality’s which only God can create (principle of proportionate causality).

    3. Evolution cannot be unguided given E, F, and F causes — evolution had no choice but to land within Man. (Whereas, Man has a un-controlled by God choice on landing inside or outside of immutable love.

    Yet:

    For some reason you assert (I think you assert it, that is) that all three cannot be true — is that right?

  330. Irenicus,

    Also, where evolution’s lack of choice landing within Man is concerned, you need not worry that such amounts to God’s forcing Man’s nature and thus making him choose L instead of W.

    How can the nature and essence of Man in the Imago Dei have inherent, irreducible volition when the nature and essence of evolution did not afford options? The principle of proportionate causality (described in #307 and elsewhere) provides clarity on both the means and the ends of that particular full-stop within the essence and nature of the Imago Dei. Just because “Physics — Full Stop” cannot account for such a stopping point is no reason to claim that God cannot or that said stopping point is (at bottom) a kind of illusion.

    Don’t forget:

    Man is far more than what particle cascades (guided or unguided) can afford Man. Man is more than matter. Hence evolution just is not, in any possible universe given the Imago Dei, the end of the creating process.

  331. Irenicus,

    In fact, you need not worry even if you want to keep it all within the merely physical.

    Yeah, I know, qualia and all that…… but……on choice…..just to go along with those who want to deny the immaterial as such relates to our freedom to choose:

    Given that E, F, and F causes within the purely physical are out of the reach of pure physics, then so too is the fact that E, F, F, causes successfully reach inherent intentionality at the end of the creative process there too in the purely physical and hence afford Man more than “physics — full stop” can imbue him with. The only thing limited there is the number of choices, not choice itself – and where we find the Imago Dei we find love’s reciprocity such that Man moves within true, inherent, and irreducible volition as he (man) moves in such inter-personal interfaces in love’s reciprocity, whether between Man and Man or between Man and God. All such Person-Person interfaces reduce to the irreducible Person/Self within nothing less than inherent/irreducible volition as the Will ends all regress. How? Well, once again, Man is more than pure physics can afford him.

    Either way, on the terms of Christianity, even if one wants to limit all terms to the merely physical, then one still, at the end of the creative process, outreaches “physics – full stop” and one still ends up, at the end of the creative process, finding the Imago Dei soaked through with love’s reciprocity such that Man moves within true, inherent, and irreducible volition as he (man) moves in such inter-personal interfaces in love’s reciprocity, whether between Man and Man or between Man and God. Will it be Self or will it be Other there within our own personal interfaces emerges as an elemental substrate.

    So, once again, we find that evolution had no choice but to land within Man, whereas, Man has many choices and while the number of choices cannot be infinite we find that Man in fact has volition amid A and B and C and D and E and F, and so on, and which choice Man makes within that wide array is not controlled by God for indeed volition is imbued into the Imago Dei.

    [A] Evolution must land within Man.

    Whereas:

    [B] Man is irreducibly free (full-stop) to land (or not) within immutable love (God) (or not). The ontology of morality sums, clearly, to love as the A and love as the Z.

    Of course, this is just a replay of the material-immaterial story, but in an attempt to limit it to a purely material “version”. But then, the material-immaterial “version” also never did offer Man an infinite series of choices, but, rather, inherent and irreducible volition amid a wide array of options – full stop.

  332. Irenicus,

    The degree of freedom or lack thereof within any material particle cascade cannot limit the Will of Man unless one insists that the Rock-Bottom of Will is entirely material. Particle — full stop. However, the Person obviously persists after the death of the purely corporeal ( http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/03/so-what-are-you-doing-after-your-funeral.html ) even without a thorough going dualism, and, of course, the same is true with this or that dualism.

    And this observation fits what we’ve been observing — the fact that we can strip away **any** degree (from 0% to 100%) of freedom from evolution’s particle cascades within temporal becoming while simultaneously observing and affirming that the Imago Dei houses love’s volitional motions amid Self and Other — both among Man / Man and also Man / God, all of which finds inherent and irreducible intentionality, volition, will — the Person or the Self which in fact outlasts the physical body.

    The “rate of change” amid particle cascades within temporal becoming (space-time) from Dirt-To-Man (Man’s body) is entirely irrelevant to Christian theology / metaphysical claims in that such can sum to one hour or to one trillion years and the *same* conclusions about Man are forced upon us.

  333. Irenicus,

    David Oderberg agrees with E. Feser with respect to “Survivalism, Corruptionism, and Mereology” as per:

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieTVFfdl8xQjBnU2M/edit?pref=2&pli=1

    That the Self persists in the post-mortem state of affairs affirms that the category of freedom and degree of freedom within “inherent and irreducible intentionality, volition, will, and love’s reciprocity” is not and cannot be defined by nor enslaved to the category of freedom and degree of freedom within evolution’s “particle cascades — full stop”. Efficient, formal, and final causes, and so on, can strip away anywhere from 0% to 100% of freedom from those molecular motions and the end result, the final conclusion which is forced upon us regarding Man is unchanged for the simple reason that the entirety of A is not, and never can sum to, the entirety of B. This agrees that B does not erase A, and also affirms simply that B is “A and far more“.

  334. On Life, Death, Life, Resurrection, Life:

    Essence, nature, categories of freedom, and degrees of freedom all emerge:

    [1] Given scriptural (and metaphysical) terms and definitions, and given the decreed Imago Dei, the Self which persists postmortem sums to consciousness and to experiencing reality and to…… and to…… And so on, and, so, we must wonder what sorts of chemical bonds persist in the Self postmortem?

    [2] Man can kill the body, but not the Soul, as said Self persists postmortem, therefore, what, when, how, and where did evolutionary processes construct this Self which persists postmortem?

    [3] Did evolutionary processes initially cascade into a matrix which, overall, comprised this Self primarily with covalent bonds? Or did ionic bonds take the overall lead? Is the ratio of covalent to ionic bonds the same in the Self as the Self persists postmortem?

    [4] Do evolutionary processes constitute a category of freedom which either [A] “directly parallels” or which [B] enslaves and defines or which [C] is identical to the category of freedom within the Self which persists postmortem?

    [5] Within the Self which persists postmortem, has evolution’s category and degree of freedom wrapped up (as it were) within efficient, formal, and final causes (and so on) provided said Self with, say, an array of nucleophilic aromatic substitution organic reactions and, say, SN1 organic reactions, and so on, which the Self takes with it such that evolution’s category and degree of freedom amid such molecular motions actually fully enslaves and defines the Self’s own postmortem category and degree of freedom? How so if all the carbon atoms (and so on) are not, at all, present in the Self postmortem?

    [6] How is it possible that the Self persists without the body *IF* evolution’s particle cascades “determine” and “define” the proverbial “whole show“? Just what is actually using, enslaving, riding, and therefore outreaching what in all of these affairs?

    [7] If there are two “parts” to the proverbial “whole show“, are both “parts” of the identical category of freedom metaphysically speaking? Categorically speaking, what is using, driving what? What is being used by, driven by what?

    [8] If there are two “parts” to the proverbial “whole show“, do both “parts” constitute (metaphysically speaking) the identical degree of freedom? Categorically speaking, what is using, driving what? What is being used by, driven by what?

    [9] Given the irreducible Ship of Theseus which persists both in and through time and temporal becoming (space-time) and thereby annihilates both mereological and moral nihilism, and, also, given the irreducible Ship of Theseus which persists postmortem outside of space-time and thereby annihilates both mereological and moral nihilism, what is all this nonsensical gibberish about evolution’s footprint being that which enslaves and defines the metaphysical category and the metaphysical degree of both Being and Freedom? What is all this posturing of the Non-Theist going on and on “as-if” the edifice of the Neo-Darwinian Paradigm just magically accounts for what it cannot – in any possible universe given the decreed Imago Dei – account for?

    [10] Until we see the Magician of this Edifice of our Non-Theist friends, the Christian painfully endures far, far more static and noise than sense and reason from his Non-Theist friends. Until said Magician is presented by our Non-Theist friends, the conclusions about Man which we are forced into categorically begin and end in (for the Non-Theist) ultimate or final (Cosmic) mereological and moral nihilism, and, also, categorically begin and end in (for the Christian) the contours of Trinity within the seamlessness of love’s timeless reciprocity vis-à-vis the immutable love of the Necessary Being.

  335. Irenicus,

    Continuing with #357,

    “You cannot rationally maintain that God exists and A) we have libertarian free will but A) evolution cannot be “unguided” – either “A” AND “B” are possible in a Universe where God exists, or neither “A” NOR “B” are possible.”

    The Imago Dei houses inherent intentionality and irreducible volition such that Man clearly has a choice, un-controlled by God, as to whether or not he loves, or hates, or lands within immutable love (God). The means thereof is found in actuality’s which only God can create (principle of proportionate causality). Interestingly, nothing in Christian metaphysics asserts that Man has an infinite series of options. Not at all. What is asserted is that the series of options is limited, and, also, the irreducible volition and freedom of choice amid that (limited series) of options is “actual” and “inherent”.

    Of course, your thought experiment is your business and so you can use or not use that definition.

    So then, so far, we have this:

    We affirm these three:

    1. God exists.

    2. The Imago Dei houses inherent intentionality and irreducible volition such that Man clearly has a choice, un-controlled by God, as to whether or not he loves, or hates, or lands within immutable love (God). The means thereof is found in actuality’s which only God can create (principle of proportionate causality). Interestingly, nothing in Christian metaphysics asserts that Man has an infinite series of options. Not at all. What is asserted is that the series of options is limited, and, also, the irreducible volition and freedom of choice amid that (limited series) of options is “actual” and “inherent”.

    3. The contents of [2] (here), that essence and that nature, persists postmortem (described earlier). Which is toxic for your thought experiment given your dependence on the degree of control inside of mere material/evolution. On top of that, evolution cannot be unguided given E, F, and F causes — evolution had no choice but to land within Man. (Whereas, Man has a (un-controlled by God) choice on landing inside or outside of immutable love (God), and etc.) In fact, efficient, formal, and final causes can strip away 100% of freedom inside of molecular cascades (guided evolution) and such has no impact whatsoever on the essence and nature and category of the Imago Dei housing, even still, all which sums to the contents of [2] (here).

    Then, the other half of your thought experiment:

    “Irreducible volition exists” and “evolution cannot be unguided” are two statements that are BOTH impossible (Neither A NOR B can be true).

    Again, you’ll have to clarify if that is correct or not, and please clarify if it is incorrect.

    It seems (this may be incorrect) you state that reality has to be EITHER,

    1) God exists
    2) Irreducible and inherent volition exists
    3) Evolution is unguided

    OR ELSE,

    1) God exists
    2) No undetermined choices exist
    3) Evolution is guided

    And you (seem to) draw an “equal-sign” between the “degree” of control over (2) and the “degree” of determined choices in (3). Fully guided evolution forces fully determined choices.

    Now, that may all be an incorrect reading of your thought experiment, and, if it is, please clarify.

    Of course, if it IS correct, well then clearly it fails given the one true God, E, F, and F causes (and so on), Evolution, and the Imago Dei. 100% control over molecular cascades (by God) in guided evolution has 0% impact on the irreducible volition, inherent intentionality, essence, category, freedom, and nature of the Imago Dei, which persists through space-time (Ship of Theseus, etc.) and also postmortem, as discussed in recent comments. The equal-sign fails unless the whole show is material-based as evolution can only reach those means and those ends. Cleary, all brands of dualism reject that, and even E. Feser and David Oderberg affirm “Survivalism” and hence reject such an “equal sign”. There is inequality. Evolution (material, carbon atoms, molecular cascades, genomic whatever-s, etc.), no matter how guided or unguided, does not follow the Self into the postmortem. As discussed in recent comments.

    If there’s no equal sign (and there isn’t), then there’s no equal degree of control between (2) and (3). There is an unequal degree of imbuement, on point of necessity, *given* the decree of the Imago Dei.

    However, the terms of the thought experiment may work given some other “Non-God god“, and some other “Non-Reality reality”, and some other image amid some other means towards some other end. Which would be trivial, irrelevant, and uninteresting.

    As for the Imago Dei, well, it seems the Non-Theist is left with ultimate and final (Cosmic) mereological and moral nihilism, whereas, the Christian is left with the contours of Trinity within the seamlessness of love’s timeless reciprocity vis-à-vis the immutable love of the Necessary Being.

  336. David Oderberg’s “Hylemorphic Dualism” at ( http://www.newdualism.org/papers/D.Oderberg/HylemorphicDualism2.htm and also in PDF at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieRWJGMzRadUVaXzg/edit?pref=2&pli=1 ) is quite long but helpful. A notable quote:

    “The hylemorphic theory is dualistic with respect to the analysis of all material substances without exception, since it holds that they are all composites of primordial matter and substantial form. When it comes to persons, however, the theory has a special account. The soul of Fido, for instance, is wholly material—all of Fido’s organic and mental operations are material, inasmuch as they have an analysis in wholly material terms. The soul of a person, on the other hand, is wholly immaterial, the argu­ment for this being that a person has at least some mental operations that are not wholly explicable in material terms—and we can deduce what a thing’s nature is from the way it necessarily acts or behaves. If, however, some such operations are not wholly materially explicable, the soul itself cannot be anything other than wholly immaterial because there is no sense in postulating a soul that is a mixture of the material and the immaterial.”

    Also, from earlier, D. Oderberg on “Survivalism, Corruptionism, and Mereology” agrees with E. Feser and is at (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieTVFfdl8xQjBnU2M/edit?pref=2&pli=1 ).

  337. Maximum control of molecular cascades (material) entails nothing whatsoever about any nature or essence which is immaterial. None. The immaterial is not, and cannot be, created by the material.

    Whether one posits Heaven, Hell, ECT, Conditional Immortality, Purgatory, or whatever, it’s all the same. In all such states of affairs we clearly find a robust awareness of reality despite no physical sense organs. And so on. This advances the premise that a fundamental and irreducible “Me” persists postmortem to at least a significant extent, even if we describe such as being in a diminished state (the “I” without, as Feser notes, a leg, or an arm, or one’s tongue, and so on. “Carbon atoms — Full Stop” just won’t do. Not unless, that is, one means to assert that covalent bonds and other organic chemistry / physics persist without chemistry and without physics.

    Clearly one need not go the full Cartesian distance to yet affirm this reality in and by other avenues.

    A quote from the com-box in the linked items from “Tony” is helpful. It’s specifically referencing Purgatory, and, though not a Catholic myself, the state of affairs here holds whether one posits Heaven, Hell, ECT, Conditional Immortality, Purgatory, or whatever:

    “It is perhaps not a philosophically distinct issue, but seems (to me, anyway) to be a theologically importantly distinct issue, to consider that not only are good men rewarded in heaven and bad men in hell, after death but without the body, but also that imperfectly good men undergo purgation after death. That is, they change, in a rather important way, after death, so that they cease to be imperfect and become perfect and capable of being in God’s presence permanently. This purgation perhaps need not be “change” in the very same way a material substance undergoes accidental change, but theologically it is a very important change.

    The reason I raise it is that it obviously has implications in favor of survivalism: the human person not only persists after death, but undergoes alteration in some sense, for this implies that it remains a real SUBJECT in a way that, say, a Platonic ideal form does not. To undergo the change from imperfect to perfect implies that the person himself must not only persist, but be aware, conscious, for the change implied is, definitively, a change in their will: they cease to love God with an imperfect love and begin to love him with a perfect love. The change implies a continuity of the “I” that does the act of loving the “You” who is God, and so this conscious “I” is the subject of acts of the will. You can’t say “the soul of Peter” loves God, you must say that “Peter” loves God, for this act is the OF a subject, and this requires that Peter, the human subsistence, is actual. But to say that Peter is a subsistent being is to say that the human being remains. As the good Prof says, in a radically diminished state.”

    Also, D. Oderberg moved it further along in what is his very long essay (linked earlier) with this:

    “………(i) The person, being a compound of matter and form, is a compound of the material and the immaterial. In this sense one can speak loosely of the person’s being a “mixture” of the material and the immaterial. The soul, however, does not have parts and thus is not itself a compound object (this I assume rather than argue for in the present essay): so it would really possess contradictory properties were it to be both material and immaterial, (ii) The soul, although immaterial in itself, can be described as having a certain essential relation to matter, in that its complete operation requires embodiment. Again, however, this does not mean that the soul has contradictory properties.

    Now, if the soul is immaterial, it follows that human nature is immaterial, since the soul of a person just is that person’s nature……”

    Whatever guided or unguided evolution creates, it is not “Man’s Nature” or “Man’s Essence” – it is not the Imago Dei. Our bodies are not the principle driver, the irreducible rock-bottom, the nature and essence of Man.

    Maximum control over evolution is irrelevant as to the category, degree, and essence of inherent intentionality, irreducible volition, and the Nature and Essence of the Imago Dei which persists despite what happens to the body proper.

    We happily grant God 100% control over evolution, or 0% control, as, either way, what that process builds, constructs, and yields cannot ever, in any possible universe given the decree of the Imago Dei, reach into and manipulate, enslave, or define the nature and essence of the Imago Dei.

    Therefore, there is no equal sign between “controlling evolution” (on the one hand) and “controlling irreducible volition and inherent intentionality within the Imago Dei” (on the other hand).

    Hence, when we speak of the real God, and not some Non-God-god, and when we speak of the Imago Dei, it is the case that the Non-Theist is left with ultimate and final (Cosmic) mereological and moral nihilism, whereas, the Christian is left with the contours of Trinity within the seamlessness of love’s timeless reciprocity vis-à-vis the immutable love of the Necessary Being.

  338. Never mind all the dualism(s) post-birth (on the one hand) and post-mortem (on the other hand). That’s all clear enough and forces the immaterial, thereby leaving evolution’s “% guided-ness” irrelevant to the final, or ultimate, or Cosmic Nature of the Imago Dei, and thus irrelevant to the final, or ultimate, or Cosmic, nature of love (morality).

    There’s yet another avenue by which to approach this:

    The origination of the soul, whether one appeals to Traducianism or to Creationism ( http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2015/09/how-did-you-get-a-soul-creationism-versus-traducianism.html ), still lands in the lap of one form of dualism or another. It is simply the case that Christians hold that God creates the soul of man and that such is the creative act of that which is immaterial and not material. This has profound implications on any attempt to enslave the Nature of Man to the material vis-à-vis evolution. The immaterial nature of Man housed in the Imago Dei is not created “by” or “with” material building blocks, but rather “by” and “with” the immaterial (Logos) which carries us to the creative act of God in and by the principle of proportionate causality (http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-without-second.html ).

    The Metaphysical Status of the Embryo” by Oderberg [ https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUiecEZLQU9ubVphdU0/edit?pref=2&pli=1 (part 1) and https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUiecmdYN2lRQm8zdFE/view?pref=2&pli=1 (part 2) ] looks at yet another approach by which the purely material (and hence evolution as such) just won’t do:

    “[These papers] re-examines some well-known and commonly accepted arguments for the non-individuality of the embryo, due mainly to the work of John Harris. The first concerns the alleged non-differentiation of the embryoblast from the trophoblast. The second concerns monozygotic twinning and the relevance of the primitive streak. The third concerns the totipotency of the cells of the early embryo. I argue that on a proper analysis of both the empirical facts of embryological development, and the metaphysical importance or otherwise of those facts, all three arguments are found wanting. None of them establishes that the embryo is not an individual human being from the moment of conception.”

    That is just another interesting direction by which the bizarre attempt to reduce the Imago Dei to the handiwork of evolution (0% guided or 100% guided) is found to be coherent only inside of some Non-God / Non-Christian paradigm constituted not of God but of god, not of Christianity’s building blocks but of Non-Christian building blocks.

    All the affairs of “0% guidedness vs. 100% guidedness” leaves the curious thought experiments of our Non-Theist friends wholly void of the Imago Dei, and therein wholly void of Christianity’s irreducible volition and inherent intentionality within love’s immutable and immaterial nature, and therein wholly irrelevant to this thread’s topic on the final, or ultimate, or Cosmic nature of morality. When we speak of the Imago Dei, it is the case that the Non-Theist is left with ultimate and final (Cosmic) mereological and moral nihilism, whereas, the Christian is left with the contours of Trinity within the seamlessness of love’s timeless reciprocity vis-à-vis the immutable love of the Necessary Being.