Friday, October 24, 2008

Starting Point


Layer upon layer

Brick upon brick

Precept upon precept

Worldviews are established


If there is an errant starting place the rest of the structure will be faulty. The house built on the sand collapses in a storm. The house built upon the rock stands firm come what may. Regardless of the foundation the building will be built even if it is not long supported. Jesus used the analogy of a house upon sand and a house upon the rock. In His parable the house built upon the rock was the person whose foundation is Christ. The house built upon the sand was the person whose faith was in something else that was not a firm foundation of truth.


What I am getting at is that our first principals, our foundational beliefs about life, anchor all that follows even if that anchor is not secure. If the Judeo-Christian God is the foundation of all truth then it logically follows that all truth flows from that reference point. This means, science, history, morality, philosophy etc. all flow from the starting point of Him. He is the bedrock in which all else is supported.


If, instead, there is no god, then all there is is the natural world: the only way we can know it is to trust our own subjective reasoning being certain of nothing including science, history, morality, philosophy etc.


Either way everything hinges on the truth of the existence or non-existence of God. If the Judeo-Christian God is real then it is logical for all knowledge to be aligned with His truth. If He is not real and there is no God than all knowledge would need to bend to that reality. Or rather would be an extension of that reality. However, I think some great bending and distorting of reason and logic is taking place to support the philosophical position of the non-existence of God. Moreover, the foundations of reason and logic collapse when God is removed from the equation.


Jacques Derrida the famous postmodern philosopher writes about how all of language is meaningless signs with no signifiers if God doesn’t exist. He says that we cannot even be certain about lingual communication for we have no anchor for language if there is no God. Ironically he authored quite a few books. In one of his books he laments reason to be the one thing he can’t get around. He knows it should not exist in a world with no God, and yet, he can’t even reason that to be the case without employing reason. Just the same logically he sees that reason is not supported any better than language if there is no God. He said it is a conundrum he couldn’t get around.


In contrast C.S. Lewis wrote in Miracles, “It is thus still an open question whether each man’s reason exists absolutely on its own or whether it is the result of some (rational) cause – in fact, of some other Reason. That other Reason might conceivably be found to depend on a third, and so on; it would not matter how far this process was carried provided you found Reason coming from Reason at each stage. It is only when you are asked to believe in Reason coming from non-Reason that you must cry Halt, for, if you don’t all thought is discredited. It is therefore obvious that sooner or later you must admit a Reason which exists absolutely on its own.”

34 comments:

CyberKitten said...

karla said: If, instead, there is no god, then all there is is the natural world: the only way we can know it is to trust our own subjective reasoning being certain of nothing including science, history, morality, philosophy etc.

Yes.

karla said: I think some great bending and distorting of reason and logic is taking place to support the philosophical position of the non-existence of God.

You mean that the only way an atheistic position can be maintained is through lies? Or self-deception? There is always the possibility that your position could be the wrong one......

karla said: the foundations of reason and logic collapse when God is removed from the equation.

Funnily I would have said that reason and logic collapse when God is unnecessarily *added* to the equation.

Karla said...

How then does reason come from non-reason and rationality from non-rationality? How does logic gain support with no foundation?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: How then does reason come from non-reason and rationality from non-rationality?

How do you mean?

Karla said...

Rationality begets rationality. Intellegence begets intellegence. How would reason, logic, rationality, intellegence develope from a non-rational random source versus a logical, reasonable, rational one?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: How would reason, logic, rationality, intellegence develope from a non-rational random source versus a logical, reasonable, rational one?

What non-rational random source? I don't understand what you mean.

Karla said...

If there is no rational creator that gave us rationality, intellect, the ability to reason then those things could not exist. Reason doesn't come from non-reason. The only way we can trust reason or our own rationality at all is because it was given to us by an rational source; God. If you take God out of the equation you are left with naturalism as we have already agreed. Naturalism isn't a rational source. So where does our rationality come from (if there is no God)?

Marsupial said...

........god this is ridiculous. People don't learn from a rational perfect starting point (god in your argument). If that were the case our knowledge of the world would be perfect and we wouldn't have more knowledge of the world now than hundreds of years ago. People get reason and logic through trial and error. When I was a child and didn't know that it would burn to touch the fire on the stove I touched it, and it burned hence I learned something new. After that I didn't touch the fire. I didn't need god to learn that lesson, I just needed to interact with the world and draw my own conclusions about fire.

Marsupial said...

I also have something else to add to this.

How do you know that logic can't exist without god?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: If there is no rational creator that gave us rationality, intellect, the ability to reason then those things could not exist.

You make those kinds of statements a lot. You *assume* that God exists and beliefs like this follow.

karla said: The only way we can trust reason or our own rationality at all is because it was given to us by an rational source; God.

..and again. Statements of belief as if they're facts.

karla said: If you take God out of the equation you are left with naturalism as we have already agreed. Naturalism isn't a rational source.

Why isn't Naturalism a 'rational' source? I'm struggling to see why you need to attach the concept of rationality to it.

karla said: So where does our rationality come from (if there is no God)?

Rationality and logic are tools for discovering things about the world. They are perspectives invented in the minds of men. Logic in particular was devised (or at least codified) by Aristotle. There is little mystery here and certainly no reason to import God into things.

Anonymous said...

You'll find that Karla repeats these types of statements a lot, regardless of how many times you explain things to her or debunk her. She also doesn't understand the differences between subjective, objective, and absolute. I fully expect her to come back at you with something about how if there is no god then everything is subjective, but that's not the case because things are objective in this world, therefore god exists, or some other such pablum.

Karla said...

Anonymous, cyber kitten as already conceded in past conversations that all is uncertain and subjective.

Yes, cyber kitten, I start with the presupposition of God's existence. Because it's the only place to start. It would be illogical for me to have another starting place when it is from Him that truth begins.

Marsupial, thank you for joining the conversation. I'm not saying we have learned our knowledge and reason from God. I'm saying we have the capacity of knowing and reasoning because a Rational God created rational beings. Sure our parents taught us a lot, but we have the capacity to learn that versus being instinctual like animals because God created us that way.

To all of you: yes naturalism can look appealing and you can find natural answers for a lot of things.

I keep being told there is no evidence for what I am suggesting. But I wouldn't tell you that there is no evidence for what you are suggesting. It's all about the way you look at things. I'm sure you have all heard the elephant analogy. Where three blind men examine different parts of the elephant and come up with three different concepts of what an elephant looks like and all seemed very logical based on the evidence they could feel, but they were missing the big picture and were all not seeing the fullness of what was before them.

I think there is evidence to support both of our perspectives. But both cannot be equally true. Yet there are many intellectually sound people who are Christians or theist and many who are agnostic or atheist. I think we can continue to have a cordial conversation where we can all learn more about the big picture.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I start with the presupposition of God's existence. Because it's the only place to start.

Erm... No its not!

karla said: It would be illogical for me to have another starting place when it is from Him that truth begins.

Illogical for *you* yes. That doesn't mean its illogical in a more general sense.

karla said: naturalism can look appealing and you can find natural answers for a lot of things.

But why did you say that Naturalism is irrational? Do you mean that belief in Naturalism is irrational or that Naturalism itself is irrational?

karla said: I keep being told there is no evidence for what I am suggesting. But I wouldn't tell you that there is no evidence for what you are suggesting. It's all about the way you look at things.

I think that it boils down to what you consider *evidence*. What you propose we atheists do not regard as evidence - and vice versa.

karla said: I think there is evidence to support both of our perspectives.

I don't agree.

karla said: Yet there are many intellectually sound people who are Christians or theist and many who are agnostic or atheist.

The fact that many intelligent people exist on both sides of the fench has little impact on the validity of the arguments - nor do the numbers of believers on each side. Truth is not a numbers game.

karla said: I think we can continue to have a cordial conversation where we can all learn more about the big picture.

Possibly....... but we have a *long* way to go before we can agree with each other!

Anonymous said...

"Yes, cyber kitten, I start with the presupposition of God's existence. Because it's the only place to start."

Demonstrably false, as the majority of the world doesn't start with your presupposition. In fact, we find that your presupposition is quite unnecessary and easily done away with by Occam's Razor (ironically since he was a Xian).

"It would be illogical for me to have another starting place when it is from Him that truth begins."

Ah, no. What is illogical is for you to base your "logic" on a logical fallacy (begging the question) and to use an unevidenced presupposition that adds an unnecessary layer and does nothing to aid you in your explanations. "goddidit" is no more explanatory than "allahdidit" or "FSMdidit" or "celestialteapotdidit."

"Sure our parents taught us a lot, but we have the capacity to learn that versus being instinctual like animals because God created us that way."

Um...evolution of our brains had a lot to do with that as well.

"To all of you: yes naturalism can look appealing and you can find natural answers for a lot of things."

You have yet to provide another method or show any results from this other method.

"I keep being told there is no evidence for what I am suggesting. But I wouldn't tell you that there is no evidence for what you are suggesting. It's all about the way you look at things."

There is no such thing as fairness here, so appealing to our sense of fairness is wrong-headed. Simply because the evidence lies all on one side does not mean that we have to placate you and make you feel better about your lack of evidence by claiming that there really is evidence after all, especially when that proposition is false.

"I'm sure you have all heard the elephant analogy. Where three blind men examine different parts of the elephant and come up with three different concepts of what an elephant looks like and all seemed very logical based on the evidence they could feel, but they were missing the big picture and were all not seeing the fullness of what was before them."

How very condescending of you to imply that only you have the big picture.

"I think there is evidence to support both of our perspectives."

Where is your evidence then? All I see from you is a bunch of assertions and denial of empirical evidence (vis-a-vis evolution for example).

"I think we can continue to have a cordial conversation where we can all learn more about the big picture."

Is it your idea of cordiality to simply be polite while you ignore what we are saying, deny the mountains of evidence for things like evolution, etc.? I don't see that as cordial at all. I see it as dishonest, condescending, etc. Being polite is only part of the equation, and a small one. Being honest (including intellectually) is a much bigger part.

Karla said...

If the Judeo-Christian God exist, He would be the logical starting place. Yes it begs the question, but so does saying that nature is the starting place because that’s all there is. If that is all there is that would be true. The thing is neither is scientifically proven to be correct. So maybe science is an inadequate medium of determining the answer to metaphysical questions.


cyber kitten said ”But why did you say that Naturalism is irrational? Do you mean that belief in Naturalism is irrational or that Naturalism itself is irrational?”

I believe it doesn’t provide adequate support for knowledge, reason, life, rationality. As you have said with your worldview all is uncertain, subjective, etc. I am positing a knowable certain world. Not dogmatically certain, but certain to a knowable degree.


cyber kitten said ”I think that it boils down to what you consider *evidence*. What you propose we atheists do not regard as evidence - and vice versa.”

Maybe. But if there is uncertainty to atheism then I would think that there is room for looking into the possibility of a personal good God.


Cyber kitten said ”The fact that many intelligent people exist on both sides of the fench has little impact on the validity of the arguments - nor do the numbers of believers on each side. Truth is not a numbers game.”

I’m not trying to play a numbers game. I am only suggesting that maybe Christianity isn’t so easily dismissed as illogical, un-intellectual, or childish (not that you have declared this, but others have)


cyber kitten ”Possibly....... but we have a *long* way to go before we can agree with each other!”

Truth is nearer than you think.

Anonymous said...

"If the Judeo-Christian God exist, He would be the logical starting place."

I'm not sure that's even true. A god that can and does change the universe at will would make it impossible to count on things like reason and logic.

"Yes it begs the question, but so does saying that nature is the starting place because that’s all there is."

Straw man alert. It is not begging the question to say that we have no evidence for god, so we don't accept that god is logically/rationally part of the equation. Then, we go out and figure out the world by doing empirical measurements. No one is saying that god can not possibly exist (some manifestations are inherently impossible, but not all) but that we have no rational reason to believe in such gods.

"The thing is neither is scientifically proven to be correct."

Science gets along quite fine without god, thank you very much.

"So maybe science is an inadequate medium of determining the answer to metaphysical questions."

Of course it is, because science does not deal with the metaphysical. When you makes physical claims, however, those can be tested scientifically. And, BTW, I know of no method of actually testing metaphysical claims and finding answers, do you?

"Maybe. But if there is uncertainty to atheism then I would think that there is room for looking into the possibility of a personal good God."

You pretend that no one has ever been a Xian and become an atheist, but that's simply not so. Most of us started out looking for god and became convinced that god does not exist. Any claims that those who seek shall find are demonstrably false.

"I’m not trying to play a numbers game. I am only suggesting that maybe Christianity isn’t so easily dismissed as illogical, un-intellectual, or childish (not that you have declared this, but others have)"

Unfortunately it is illogical and irrational. It is dependent on logical fallacy to get anywhere. The fact that people, even intelligent people, are irrational and illogical about certain topics, such as faith, doesn't make Xianity logical or rational.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: If the Judeo-Christian God exist, He would be the logical starting place.

But that's a *very* big if.....

karla said: so does saying that nature is the starting place because that’s all there is. If that is all there is that would be true.

I think its a pretty good place to start since there is no evidence that anything exists *beyond* nature.

karla said: The thing is neither is scientifically proven to be correct.

Oh, I think that there is *much* more evidence for Naturalism that Supernaturalism!

karla said: So maybe science is an inadequate medium of determining the answer to metaphysical questions.

Indeed it is - that's what we have Philosophy for. It's not just a case of either Religion *or* Science. There are other players on the field of inquiry. There are many questions that science is not set up to answer - but that doesn't mean that they can only be answered by theology. Religion does not win by default in areas that science has no involvement in.

karla said: I believe it doesn’t provide adequate support for knowledge, reason, life, rationality.

I fail to see why not.

karla said: As you have said with your worldview all is uncertain, subjective, etc.

Uncertain yes, subjective not so much. Objective reality - separate from what we think it is - probably exists. I cannot subjectively reject gravity and then expect to fly. Some things are very objective indeed!

karla said: I am positing a knowable certain world. Not dogmatically certain, but certain to a knowable degree.

I think you *wish* for a certain world - which is why you believe in God.

karla said: But if there is uncertainty to atheism then I would think that there is room for looking into the possibility of a personal good God.

The existence of all kinds of supernatural beings is indeed possible - just very, very unlikely.

karla said: I am only suggesting that maybe Christianity isn’t so easily dismissed as illogical, un-intellectual, or childish (not that you have declared this, but others have)

Oh, I think that it is pretty much. Once you get past the sparkle and the glitter there's not much substance left. All religions are, at their centers, based on the fear of death and the pain of self-consciousness. The differences are just cultural variations on a common theme of coping with existence.

karla said: Truth is nearer than you think.

[laughs] If you think that I could believe as you believe then you *really* don't know me. Personally I like to keep my fantasy inside the fictional books I read for entertainment. I'm a proud member of the *reality* based community and I'm highly confident it's going to stay that way.

Quixote said...

Cyberkitten said: "Oh, I think that there is *much* more evidence for Naturalism that Supernaturalism!"

Present your evidence for Naturalism then. I'd like to read it. You're going to demonstrate that nothing exists beyond the natural realm, correct? I applaud you for venturing out from behind the shield of the burden of proof.

Cyberkitten said: "I think you *wish* for a certain world - which is why you believe in God."

Be careful, the sword of wish fulfillment cuts both ways.

CyberKitten said...

Quixote said: Present your evidence for Naturalism then. I'd like to read it.

I'm sure that there are many books or websites on the subject if you want to read up about it. In Biology you might want to check out Richard Dawkins or in Cosmology you might want to read Weinberg. Or any decent history of of philosohpy of science should give you a good steer.

Quixote said: Be careful, the sword of wish fulfillment cuts both ways.

Truth is a three edged sword.

Also I don't need to 'wish away' something I see no evidence for....

Quixote said...

Cyber said:"a good steer."

Freudian slip, perhaps?

"Truth is a three edged sword.

I'm still ready to consider your evidence for naturalism whenever you are prepared.

CyberKitten said...

Quixote said: I'm still ready to consider your evidence for naturalism whenever you are prepared.

See my previous comment......

Karla said...

cyber kitten, I think we are looking for your thoughts in your own words versus referring us to a book. How do you come to the conclusion that naturalism is correct?

Anonymous said...

If I may, I think Cyberkitten is saying that we have more evidence that natural processes account for all that we see than we do that the supernatural exists at all. I don't think this is something that can even remotely be disputed.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: How do you come to the conclusion that naturalism is correct?

Because natural explanations for, well pretty much everything, are *vastly* superior to supernatural ones. I have yet to hear a credible supernatural explanation. However, I accept natural explanations easily - because they make sense and hold together. Supernatural explanations don't actually *explain* anything. They are in almost every respect useless.

Quixote said...

Anon said: "If I may, I think Cyberkitten is saying that we have more evidence that natural processes account for all that we see"

I accept your challenge, Anon. Please provide just one example of an evidence that demonstrates natural processes account for all we see.

Anonymous said...

"I accept your challenge, Anon. Please provide just one example of an evidence that demonstrates natural processes account for all we see."

Big band, evolution, planetary evolution, star formation, cosmology, abiogenetic experiments, chemistry, geology, paleontology, should I go on? All we have to go on is evidence of the natural and natural processes. If we ever actually find evidence of the supernatural that we can verify as supernatural, then we can talk.

Quixote said...

Anon said:"If we ever actually find evidence of the supernatural that we can verify as supernatural, then we can talk."

Same thing as the other post: what you mean is evidence you deem valid. BTW-you still haven't provided an example to support your positive claim.

Anonymous said...

"Same thing as the other post: what you mean is evidence you deem valid."

Two can play this game. Answer: same as the other post, it's still fallacious.

"BTW-you still haven't provided an example to support your positive claim."

Whatever do you mean? We do have evidence for natural processes that explain the world around us, or are you disputing that? If you aren't disputing that, then I have supplied evidence. If you are disputing that, then I suggest you take a look at any science textbook.

Quixote said...

"Whatever do you mean? We do have evidence for natural processes that explain the world around us, or are you disputing that?"

Nope. Not disputing that, but that's not your claim. You seem to be making the claim that natural processes explain the non-existence of the supernatural.

CyberKitten said...

You seem to be making the claim that natural processes explain the non-existence of the supernatural.

I always thought that natural explanations invalidate the *need* for supernatural explanations - which AFAIK actually don't *explain* things.

Anonymous said...

"You seem to be making the claim that natural processes explain the non-existence of the supernatural."

That's not my claim at all. What I'm claiming is that we only have evidence for natural causes. Belief in supernatural causes sans evidence is irrational. They might exist, but it's irrational to believe that they do.

Quixote said...

Anon, I'm happy to say that I think we can agree here:)

Karla said...

Cyberkitten, just because there is a natural explanation doesn't mean that its the right explanation.

You can have several plausible explanations for a thing and yet the existence of one possible explanation doesn't negate the possibility of the other explanation until you know which is correct.

There can be many opinions about a matter until you know the answer and then there is only one.

Anonymous said...

"You can have several plausible explanations for a thing and yet the existence of one possible explanation doesn't negate the possibility of the other explanation until you know which is correct."

Unfortunately for you, there's only one plausible explanation for a lot of things, and that is the natural explanation.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Cyberkitten, just because there is a natural explanation doesn't mean that its the right explanation.

It certainly is in my opinion. The other so-called explanations tend not to actually explain very much. Saying that 'x' was caused by God explains exactly nothing.

karla said: There can be many opinions about a matter until you know the answer and then there is only one.

You can indeed have competing explanations for many thngs but often some explanations are more than merely opinion. Some can actually be verified and no longer rank as 'opinion' but maybe as a theory in the scientific sense. When you have a scientific therory versus an opinion the sensible option is to go with the theory.