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Re: [OriginsTalk] Re: Spitting on Nature.

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  • Laurie Appleton
    ... From: Randy C To: OriginsTalk@yahoogroups.com Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2010 8:48 AM Subject: [OriginsTalk] Re: Spitting on Nature. ... Randy C: Thank you
    Message 1 of 50 , Mar 31, 2010
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Randy C
      To: OriginsTalk@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2010 8:48 AM
      Subject: [OriginsTalk] Re: Spitting on Nature.

      >>>> Gluadys:
      >>>> And that is why one cannot demonstrate that one is not a
      >>>> brain-in-a-vat.

      >>> Turandot1125 :
      >>> YOU "cannot demonstrate that YOU are not a brain in a vat."

      >>> Man, since time immemorial, has been decisively demonstrating
      >>> that he CAN quite reasonably "conclude" that he is not a
      >>> brain in a vat. The universal skeptics who claim that "one
      >>> cannot demonstrate that one is not a brain-in-a-vat" violate
      >>> a universal, necessary truth: the law of non-contradiction.
      >>> If in fact no human person can "conclude" that he isn't just
      >>> an envatted brain "programmed" to secrete the hallucinations
      >>> that tickle the evil-deceiver programmer's fancy, then no
      >>> human person can rationally and reasonably claim to have
      >>> conceived the notion that he may be just an envatted brain
      >>> "programmed" to secrete the hallucinations that tickle the
      >>> evil-deceiver programmer's fancy.

      >> Randy C:
      >> Nonsense.

      >> Have you ever seen or heard of "The Matrix" trilogy of movies
      >> starring Keanu Reeves? The movies were, quite literally, about
      >> evil-deceivers (machines) artificially supporting humans and
      >> giving them hallucinations to make their artificial lives
      >> tolerable. The human brains weren't literally in a vat, but
      >> the effect was the same.

      >> There are some people who believe that those movies are
      >> effectively documentaries and that such things are really
      >> taking place. They would say that I am merely hallucinating
      >> the fact that I'm actually writing this post; it is nothing
      >> but a machine-induced fantasy.

      >> What specific piece of empirical evidence can you provide
      >> that would prove those believers wrong?

      > Laurie:
      > How could there be any, since by definition those "evil
      > machines" are controlling everything that your "brain in
      > a vat" is thinking.

      Randy C:
      Thank you for supporting me, Laurie.

      LA> My pleasure, since your messages certainly give the impression that one might expect from a "brain in a vat" and living in a "dream world"!


      From my earliest training as a scientist, I was very strongly brainwashed
      to believe that science cannot be consistent with any kind of deliberate
      creation. That notion has had to be painfully shed.
      (Chandra Wickramasinghe, 1981)

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • gluadys
      ... Who has hinted that it s not? Natural reason may not be _a_ reason, but it suggests that one is using reason as a basis for reaching a conclusion. If you
      Message 50 of 50 , Apr 25, 2010
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        --- In OriginsTalk@yahoogroups.com, Turandot1125 <turandot1125@...> wrote:
        > On April 16, 2010, gluadys wrote re: Spitting on nature:
        > Who's so much as hinted that natural reason is _a_ reason [or reasons]?

        Who has hinted that it's not? Natural reason may not be _a_ reason, but it suggests that one is using reason as a basis for reaching a conclusion.

        If you mean instead that one founds a line of reasoning on a basis that is intuited rather than demonstrated, that is a different kettle of fish. Now you are speaking of reasoning from rather than reasoning to. One cannot establish by reason that which is the basis of reasoning. At some point one must recognize an irreducible given. You want to call that irreducible given natural reason while I call it faith, fine.

        > Of course, there's no _trusting_ that a Being you can't know exists is rational and benevolent, let alone that that Being is "our Creator and the Creator of all external reality [Who] as well explains why natural reason exists and is an effective tool for acquiring accurate knowledge of the universe," now is there?

        I have never said God can't be known. I have said that no logical argument successfully establishes that God exists, and therefore one cannot get to knowledge of God by means of a syllogism. There are, however, other ways of becoming certain of God's existence. Most notably, of course, there is God's own action of self-revelation, including revelation through his creation.

        > >How then does one establish by reason a motive to accept revelation since that motive must rest on a prior affirmation of faith in the nature of God, which itself must rest on prior revelation.<
        > Do you even bother to read the OriginsTalk messages you seem to think you're answering?

        I try to, but as I've said before, I find your mode of communication more obscure than most.

        > I've written more than a few times, most recently April 1, 2010, that an act of faith cannot be the primary form of human knowledge. This authority, indeed, in order to be a motive of assent, must be previously acknowledged as being certainly valid;

        In fact, I would say that faith is not a form of knowledge at all---but I may be using a more restricted definition of knowledge than you are.

        What authority are you speaking of here? i.e. what authority "must be previously acknowledged as being certainly valid"?

        >The Old and New Testaments amply attest that God reveals many things. Man can know some of God's -natural- revelations [often referred to by Protestants as "general revelation"] by the light of natural reason. It is the motive, or the will, to know those SUPERnatural revelations [often referred to by Protestants as "special revelation"] that is warranted by the li
        > ght of natural reason.

        You've lost me with that last sentence. I can see natural revelation being understood through natural reason. To me, that follows from the doctrine of creation and our understanding of God. God, a rational being, creates a natural world that is imbued with rationality, including a rational agent capable of comprehending the rationality of nature. So it is not surprising that there is a correspondence between the human mind and the nature it comprehends.

        I don't know what is meant by the final sentence though.

        > Look, Christian doctrine, metaphysics, the OriginsTalk debate, etc., etc., isn't all about _you_. You don't make merely -modest- "personal" claims, you make your personal claims universal.

        Maybe you choose to see them that way. I am conscious that there exists a wide range of opinion on most matters. I can only set out how I see things and refer to others who I think see things the same way. I use evidence and reason and established theology where I can to substantiate what I say. But that doesn't mean that there may not also be evidence and reason and theology that suggests different conclusions. That is what makes for discussion after all.

        >You "personally disagree" that x, therefore, you would have it, the person for whom x is true is just wrong, and if x happens to be a 2,000-year tradition that is the foundation upon which the civilization you inhabit was built, if that tradition has been sustained and nourished by some of the most brilliant stars to have illuminated the human constellation, so much the worse for the tradition.

        I come from a tradition that insists the gospel needs to be re-stated anew in every generation. [ecclesia reformada et semper reformanda] As one missionary has stated "God has no grandchildren". I also believe a strong and good tradition can take anything you can throw at it and still come out the winner. As John Stuart Mill said, let truth and error battle it out; truth will only emerge the stronger.

        >That reason is prior to, motivates, is illuminated and warranted by, the Christian faith is not merely my "personal preference," nor is metaphysical realism, nor are those you sneer at as "evolution deniers" who've made a bargain with the devil just communicating their own whimsical preferences.

        There is a good deal of Christian tradition that would insist reason cannot be prior to faith; faith is a gift of grace, not something one works one's way to by logical steps. Faith is, as in C.S. Lewis' analogy, the light by which one sees. Or as Wittgenstein points out,

        [quote] Well, how do I know? --- If that means "Have I reasons?" the answer is: my reasons will soon give out.[end quote]

        And again [quote] If I have exhausted the justifications, I have reached bedrock and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say `This is simply what I do.'[end quote]

        And again [quote] That is to say: somewhere I must begin with not-doubting; and that is not, so to speak, hasty, but excusable; it is part of judging.[end quote]

        The first two citations are from Philosophical Investigations, [Macmillen, 1973] p.211 & p. 217 respectively. The last from On Certainty [Blackwell, 1969] p. 150

        Wittgenstein doesn't mean by this that we have no certainty. On the contrary he affirms we are certain of a great many things e.g that there exists a planet we call Earth and that the sky is blue and that I do not need to satisfy myself that I have two feet whenever I want to get up from a chair. But these certainties are convictions rather than being, strictly speaking, knowledge. i.e. these are not certainties to which one comes by following a particular line of thought.

        There is a certain stage in early childhood when a child learns the power of the question "why". It comes not long after they learn the power of the word "no". I expect every parent has played the game in which a child of 3-5 asks "Why?" parent answers "Because…." and then child asks "and why…?" and parent answers "because…" until eventually the parent runs out of reasons and has to answer "because that's just the way it is."

        In a more philosophical way, Wittgenstein makes the same point. Reasons give out, justifications come to an end and "at the foundation of well-founded beliefs lies belief that is not well-founded." (On Certainty p. 253)

        Metaphysical realism is most certainly one philosophical choice among many. You are certainly not the only person who gravitates to it; but for each and every person who is a metaphysical realist there are others whose philosophical preferences lie elsewhere. So it is a personal choice, for Plato as much as for you.

        I have no doubt that you strongly believe in metaphysical realism; but that is a certainty of conviction. It is the bedrock you do not doubt which becomes the not well-founded foundation of all your well-founded beliefs and rational conclusions.

        I wouldn't say the preferences of evolution deniers are whimsical. But they are preferences for doctrine over evidence. As Answers in Genesis says in its statement of faith "no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record." It further specifies that by "scriptural record" it means that "the account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events," and that "the great Flood of Genesis was an actual historic event, worldwide (global) in its extent and effect" and that "Scripture teaches a recent origin for man and the whole creation, spanning approximately 4,000 years from creation to Christ."

        IOW it is not just a matter of upholding scripture but of upholding a particular doctrine about scriptural interpretation. And this interpretation is held to be so certain that it outweighs actual physical evidence from nature itself.

        >Well, public discourse isn't just communicating "what's true for me," it's about communicating public _reasons_, and about honestly acknowledging the first principles / philosophy that nourishes and warrants those reasons. Skepticism only deflects claims you "don't like" or about which you "personally disagree" or "really have problems with," period.

        The problem is that there are many competing sets of "public reasons" and when all is said and done, we select from the menu those we find to our taste. And for that there is no "reason". One has hit bedrock and one can only say "This is what I do." Or "This I believe."

        I believe, for example, that physical evidence counts for something and that if my interpretation of scripture is contradicted by physical evidence, it is more probable that my interpretation of scripture needs to be corrected than that the physical evidence is not valid.

        Why do I believe that? Because I believe in a real creation—one that is not induced in my brain by any demon or brain-in-a-vat technology.

        Why do I believe in a real creation? Because I believe in one God, the Father almighty, Creator of all things visible and invisible.

        And why do I believe in this God? Because he has revealed himself to me and made himself known to me in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit witnessing to my spirit.

        And that is where the justifications give out.

        > Man is a flawed creature. He can misperceive and misjudge. He's prideful, vain, selfish, greedy, destructive, foolish, etc., etc., etc. He can also acutely perceive and intuit, and his insights can be astonishingly, rightly, truly enlightening. He is also humble, modest, kind, charitable, thoughtful, creative [or innovative], brilliant, wise, etc., etc., etc. I don't fundamentally distrust man's rationality / reason -commonsense- because, golly, man isn't PERFECT. I don't dismiss out of hand the idea that the Christian faith is rational and reasonable; rather, I think the Christian faith is the epitome of rationality and reason. I don't think any truth-claim that is not "empirical" or "falsifiable" is "frivolity" ... a "word game." I think the universe _and_ the biosphere we inhabit are God's _intentions_, and meaning- / purpose-filled. I think man, soul _and_ body, is God's _intention_, that he is exceptional, that every human creature who's lived and breathed is God's exceptiona
        > l child....
        > You've given me nary one _reason_ to think otherwise than I do,

        Why would I? I agree with practically all of this. It all follows from what I just said. I certainly agree that Christian faith is rational and reasonable. What I don't agree with is that reason is its foundation. The foundation of Christian faith is always, first and foremost, God himself taking the initiative to communicate with humanity. I agree that truth claims that are not empirical or falsifiable are not necessarily word games, but I would also note that such truth claims lie outside the limits of science. Such claims may be true, but they cannot be shown to be true via scientific methods of investigating what is true. One needs other tools for judging their validity. I agree with the complete last statement, but I would not hold that this requires an exceptional biological origin.

        > The Catechism of the Catholic Church
        > PART ONE
        > SECTION ONE
        > "I BELIEVE" - "WE BELIEVE"
        > 26 We begin our profession of faith by saying: "I believe" or "We believe". Before expounding the Church's faith, as confessed in the Creed, celebrated in the liturgy and lived in observance of God's commandments and in prayer, we must first ask what "to believe" means. Faith is man's response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life.

        This is a great definition of faith.

        > 31 Created in God's image and called to know and love him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to know him. These are also called proofs for the existence of God, not in the sense of proofs in the natural sciences, but rather in the sense of "converging and convincing arguments", which allow us to attain certainty about the truth. These "ways" of approaching God from creation have a twofold point of departure: the physical world, and the human person.

        "not in the sense of proofs in the natural sciences". Amen. This is one of the reasons I repudiate ID, as it aims to do precisely that. But scientific "proofs" ( a misnomer in itself, there are no "proofs" in science, only evidence) are not the sort by which one can establish the existence of God.

        "converging and convincing arguments" i.e. the sort that form strong convictions, not the sort one can refer to as observed fact or necessary conclusions. Knowing God is not like knowing the times table, nor like knowing that water flows downhill under the force of gravity.

        > 32
        > 33 >
        > 34
        > 35

        No problems with any of these.
        > 36 "Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason." Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God's revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created "in the image of God".

        One of the things needed here is an explanation of the meaning of "natural light of human reason". Is this the same as the "natural reason" which is not _a_ reason [or reasons]? IOW what I have been calling "faith"?

        > 37 In the historical conditions in which he finds himself, however, man experiences many difficulties in coming to know God by the light of reason alone:


        > And "the whole premise" is asinine, which is precisely why no sane, reasonable person frets about being an envatted brain.

        Sure, the premise is asinine. Perhaps you have forgotten that I said at the outset it is a sophomoric mind-game. I really wonder why you have invested so much time in it. The only niggly little thing about it is that there is no empirical way to falsify it. But no reasonable person frets about that.

        > The age of the earth, a global flood, whether or not _EVOLUTION_ is or is not a "real biological process" are red herrings you've strewn to deflect attention from _your_ outrageous actual claim, the claim I answered:
        > "to "deny the reality of (Darwinian) evolution is to deny the reality of creation itself, to allege that Christ is not the author and upholder of any reality at all."

        I believe you are not a young-earth creationist. So why do you believe the earth is billions of years old? Is it not because of the evidence of its age? I don't know what your stance is on the extent of Noah's flood, but if you agree it was not global, why do you take that position? Is it not because of the evidence? After all, until geological evidence was discovered, no one in Christendom thought to question that is covered the whole planet. Evidence is also the basis of the theory of evolution, both the evidence that evolution happens and has happened ever since life began and the evidence that the mechanism of variation and natural selection is how it happens. The evidence says evolution (Darwinian) is a real biological process. Either that is a fact, because evidence tells us what is fact, or evidence doesn't count in determining what is fact. And then you have no grounds for asserting that the earth is not a mere 6,000 years old or that there was not a global flood about 4,500 years ago, or, for that matter, that the earth is not flat.

        If, in regard to nature, evidence reveals reality, and Christ is the author and sustainer of that reality, every Christian is bound by faith in Christ to accept the reality Christ created as it is, not as one might wish it to be.

        > Creationists are still willing to make a stand on behalf of creation as the ultimate ground of man's existence, in defense of their consciences and genuine, deep Christian convictions.

        That is their claim, but it is a claim much like that of the soldier who said "we had to destroy the village to save it." The way they go about making a stand on behalf of creation undermines the whole notion that creation is real. If you want to believe God made a dream-world, by all means embrace creationism, because that is the only world they believe in.

        If you prefer a real creation, you have to take the one we've got, which includes evolution.

        > >>And you've "presented [NO]thing to show [Darwin's] theory of evolution is true. Only that [you] think it is true. That is an argument from incredulity without any scientific insight."<<
        > >http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/ridley/tutorials/ <
        > >We can start anywhere you like. Though I would recommend starting from the beginning.<
        > "We?" I've read Ridley's _Evolution_. Ridley no more answers my questions than you can.

        Probably because he is really talking about evolution, and your questions are not really about evolution. In any case, the offer still stands. Ridley certainly provides more than enough information to show that the theory of evolution is true (within the limits of science to ascertain "truth").
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