God of the Gaps Atheism

The militant atheist movement is built on the belief that there is no evidence for God. Of course, such atheists are entitled to their opinions on this matter, but because of their militancy, and the way it serves their agenda, they will not acknowledge their opinion is an opinion. Instead, they posture as if they have discovered some objective truth – There is no evidence for the existence of God. We’re all supposed to agree.

Yet if we are supposed to agree with this claim, we’d like to know exactly what it is we are supposed to agree with. So we ask the New Atheists what would actually count as evidence for the existence of God. Typically, the New Atheists will tap dance around that question, insisting there is no evidence without telling us what such evidence would look like. This is their Hide The Goalposts tactic.

However, if pressed, some New Atheists will spell it out, especially when they are trying to make themselves look open-minded about the issue. One example is atheist activist Jerry Coyne who, in a blog post entitled, “What evidence would convince you that a god exists?, wrote:

There are so many phenomena that would raise the specter of God or other supernatural forces: faith healers could restore lost vision, the cancers of only good people could go into remission, the dead could return to life, we could find meaningful DNA sequences that could have been placed in our genome only by an intelligent agent, angels could appear in the sky. The fact that no such things have ever been scientifically documented gives us added confidence that we are right to stick with natural explanations for nature. And it explains why so many scientists, who have learned to disregard God as an explanation, have also discarded him as a possibility.

So we have a list. But what we don’t have is a reason for thinking anything on the list should count as scientific evidence for the existence of God. Coyne makes no effort to explain WHY such phenomena would constitute such evidence. He merely asserts it and then moves on. Do other atheists agree such things would amount to evidence for God? No. For example, PZ Myers would not consider any of those events to be evidence of God. So Coyne’s laundry list is simply a list of things that Coyne would personally count as evidence for God (or so he says). That’s not how science works, people.

So why would Coyne personally count these five things as evidence for the existence of God? In fact, what is it that all five things have in common? The answer is the same for both questions – these are gaps that could not be explained by science. Coyne is advocating God-of-the-Gaps atheism. He is basically arguing “I am an atheist because there are no Gaps,” which is a position that embraces the validity of the God-of-the-Gaps approach.

In fact, this God-of-the-Gaps atheism was clearly championed in an essay by Victor Stenger some time ago (and the essay was endorsed by Coyne):

Many of the attributes associated with the Judaic-Christian-Islamic God have specific consequences that can be tested empirically. Such a God is supposed to play a central role in the operation of the universe and the lives of humans. As a result, evidence for him should be readily detectable by scientific means. If a properly controlled experiment were to come up with an observation that cannot be explained by natural means, then science would have to take seriously the possibility of a world beyond matter.

So if God exists, His existence would be detected by an observation that cannot be explained by natural means. A Gap. Like Coyne, Stenger needed a Gap. The Gap = evidence for God. All evidence for God must be a Gap.

Of course, if some theist were to insist that some aspect of our reality was not explained by science and thus evidence for God, the New Atheist would declare this invalid because it was relying on faulty God-of-the-Gaps reasoning.

 

Sneaky. The New Atheists insist there is no evdience for God because there are no Gaps and thus demand someone provide them a Gap. When someone tries to provide then a Gap, the New Atheists scorn them for relying on Gaps and trying to provide gaps.

If there was real intellectual substance to New Atheism, why do they have to build and maintain their position on such a contradictory and deceptive approach? I think it is time for New Atheists to start being honest and admit they embrace the logic of God-of-the-gaps reasoning.

I don’t.  But they do.

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97 Responses to God of the Gaps Atheism

  1. RobertM says:

    I wonder what the institutional review board or informed consent looks like for God to participate in a controlled experiment to observe God’s public behavior. If the research is funded by the US government this would not fall under 45 CFR 46 101(b) exemption 2 because the whole point is that the subject is identified. Technically that applies to protection of human subjects but atheists love to anthropomorphize God as an old man in the sky.

  2. Robert M says:

    The notion that “the cancers of only good people could go into remission” being scientifically documented would be evidence of God is asinine too.

    (1) I can’t speak for other faith traditions but I don’t recall that miraculous healings in the Bible or in Christian legend are reserved for good people. If anything, only people who are publicly considered “good” being healed would be contrary to my understanding of God and would immediately make me think it’s a fraud, like the health-and-wealth gospel or “The Secret”.

    (2) scientifically documenting such a thing would require access to a “goodmeter” (similar to a voltmeter or a thermometer) than can objectively measure someone’s “goodness” at the time the cure was noted (or perhaps we would need measurements of “goodness” integrated over time to draw conclusions). But let’s see the objective definition of “good” here, that can be tied to physically measurable quantities the same way electric potential or temperature are.

  3. hikayamasan353 says:

    About cancer remissions, all I can think about, is the story of Louise Hay.

  4. Michael says:

    If a properly controlled experiment were to come up with an observation that cannot be explained by natural means, then science would have to take seriously the possibility of a world beyond matter.

    I think reality, the Universe and existence itself would meet that criterion. Every attempt to explain these things involves a supernatural cause of some form.

  5. I’m struck by the atheist view hat he or she is somehow a part of this giant cosmic effluent stream, but they are still able to have reason and clear thinking to able to arrive at the right answer but by some accident. It’s one thing to believe you are only made of matter, it’s a whole other to think your thoughts are worth something

  6. stcordova says:

    “I don’t. But they do.”

    You don’t accept God of the gaps? I do. By “gap” I mean a gap in principle, not a gap from lack of knowledge. If I found there were 500 fair coins on a table all heads, I would not think that was the result of a tornado passing through a junk yard. It is a “gap” in principle, not from lack of knowledge.

    I witnessed to a group of atheists and agnostics for about 12 years at James Madison University. Out of the perhaps thousands I witnessed to, only 1 I know of (may there were more) eventually became a Christian. The one person who was converted had witnessed a powerful miracle of healing worked in the name of Jesus several months before she became a Christian. She was never the same thereafter. Why did God choose her to see the miracle vs. Jerry Coyne. Only the Lord knows. Maybe God had more regard for this young lady than Coyne hatred of God….

  7. Melly Smuff says:

    How could Jerry Coyne or anyone else know that any proposed “gaps” are in fact gaps given the provisional nature of all scientific theory? Today’s gap might be tomorrow’s confirmed hypothesis.

  8. stcordova says:

    Melly Smuff,

    No one can formally know. But then, even if a miracle happened, Coyne wouldn’t know it. So the situation is, supposing a real miracle happened, one could not ascent to the truth without some level of faith. On the other hand, this doesn’t give Coyne license to say, “there is no evidence of God.” Coyne only has license to say, “since we are not God, we cannot prove God exists, and further it is also formally impossible to prove God does not exist since that would require omniscience, and by definition Coyne would be God if he could prove God does not exist, hence a contradiction.” So Coyne, like many atheists, equivocate the inability to prove God’s existence as the same thing as “there is no evidence of God” when in fact, they can’t prove God does not exist either!

  9. Silva says:

    P = There exists an X such that X is evidence for Y.

    If there is no clear definition for Y, then P is a non-starter. Although PZ Myers is neither a philosopher nor a clear thinker, he does manage to correctly recognize that P is ill-formed in that instance. The part he gets wrong is concluding that no such X can exist for any definition of Y. That does not follow.

    The obvious course is to simply say that, sure, there may exist some particular X corresponding to some particular Y. I don’t know what those details are, but it’s possible. Because I neither claim that P is true nor that P is false, I am not obliged to provide the details. Individuals who make those claims are so obliged.

    When I last addressed this topic here, I noticed that others had employed a fallacy that boils down to:


    Alice doesn’t know of an X such that X is evidence for Y.

    Therefore Alice believes there is no X such that X is evidence for Y.

    That does not follow. Alice may consider it possible that an X exists outside of her knowledge.

  10. TFBW says:

    @Silva: I’ve never seen anyone make that argument. Usually, what I see is, “Alice asserts that there is no evidence for Y. Alice justifies this by saying that she’s never seen or heard of any evidence for Y, despite an open invitation for believers in Y to provide some.” The argument that then follows is whether there is anything in principle that Alice would accept as evidence for Y, and if so, whether Alice applies standards of evidence consistently — e.g. does it amount to a form of evidence that would be dismissed as a “gap fallacy” in other circumstances.

  11. Silva says:

    > I’ve never seen anyone make that argument.

    Saying “I don’t know” in response to the challenge of “What evidence would be sufficient?” is what Matt Dillahunty does ( https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/the-collapsing-escape-hatch/ ). I discussed it without you there, where I took essentially the same position. I pinpointed the fallacy there:

    > “I don’t know what evidence for God would be” does not imply “No evidence could convince me”. That is a fallacious step. One can say “I don’t know” and, at the same time, consider it a real possibility that there is evidence for God.

    Yet later you invoked that very fallacy (the Alice fallacy is the same fallacy):

    > You have steadfastly refused to grant me a single premise which includes the possibility of God’s existence (e.g. “if X, then God exists,” or, “if God does not exist, then X”). Based on this experience, I surmise that no such premise exists, and therefore there is no such argument that you would accept as sound.

    Perhaps you were just following Michael, who started the fallacy in the main text of the post,

    > Okay, so Dillahunty can’t think of anything that would change his mind about God’s existence. Sounds like a closed minded atheist. … And since nothing would change Matt’s mind, why bother?

    Would it be possible to actually come to an agreement on something? There is a path that avoids both Coyne’s route of conjuring hypotheticals and Myers’ route of outright denying P. Would it be possible to take off the advocacy hat for a moment and assent to the logical fact that saying “I don’t know” does not amount to denying P?

    (And with the advocacy hat off, there is no need for the well-poisoning of “closed minded [sic]” (proper grammar is “closed-minded”). On the contrary, “I don’t know” is an open-minded position of accepting the possibility that something exists outside our knowledge.)

  12. Doug says:

    @Silva,
    Could you provide a link to where anyone claimed that “I don’t know” implies a denial of P?
    (I am not always around, and could very easily have missed it… NB: I’m not denying that claim occurred 😉 )

  13. Featherfoot says:

    What the heck. I’ll play with the troll.

    Silva,

    So when someone says, “I believe in God, and I don’t know what you could ever show me that would change my mind,” you consider that an open-minded position, right?

    Of course, the issue isn’t what’s known, much as you’d like to make it that. That someone doesn’t know of any evidence for X simply means they lack knowledge, and could be educated. That someone can’t (or won’t) even _imagine_ something that could be evidence for X means they’re pretty unlikely to accept anything as evidence. For that matter, if you can’t even figure out what evidence _could_ look like, how would you even know it when you saw it?

    Other than personal testimonies, none of which I’ve considered reliable enough, I don’t know of any evidence for intelligent extra-terrestrial life. However, I can imagine all sorts of things that I would consider evidence. In fact, if I looked into it in depth, I’ve no doubt I would find at least a little evidence. I believe in God, but I can certainly imagine all kinds of evidence that would change my mind. Doesn’t that seem much more open than someone who won’t admit to anything that would change their mind?

  14. TFBW says:

    @Silva: “Saying “I don’t know” in response to the challenge of “What evidence would be sufficient?” is what Matt Dillahunty does.”

    No it’s not. He says, and I quote, “I can’t give you specifics.” It’s possible that he can’t give us specifics because he doesn’t know, but the context in which he says this is, “What would change my mind? Evidence and argument.” If his intention was to say that he doesn’t know what kind of evidence would be sufficient, then it would be more honest to say that he doesn’t know what would change his mind. Instead, he demands a non-specific combination of evidence and argument. Non-specific means without specification, which means that he can always claim that it didn’t meet his requirements, because they aren’t specified.

    This is merely evasiveness 101, also known as “hiding the goalposts”. If he wants to claim that he doesn’t know, then let him say so clearly, so that we may ask the obvious question, “how do you intend to address your lack of knowledge?” You have to know what you accept as evidence and an argument before you can assess whether the thing presented to you qualifies as such. What we see from Dillahunty here is merely strategic obtuseness: he doesn’t know and he doesn’t want to know. It’s the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying “lalalalala” shrouded in a cloak of intellectual obfuscation.

    Our last exchange ended with me requesting that you give me an example of an X which you would accept as evidence for God if I were able to produce one. I gave an example of a Flat-Earther who could be persuaded: “if you could take me up into space, and let me orbit the Earth in person, such that the curve of the Earth is visible to my own naked eyes, then I would accept that the Earth is a globe.” I asked that you give us something which would establish that you are at least as open-minded as this hypothetical Flat-Earther.

    You never did. You never will. You are a waste of time.

  15. FZM says:

    Alice doesn’t know of an X such that X is evidence for Y.
    Therefore Alice believes there is no X such that X is evidence for Y.

    That does not follow. Alice may consider it possible that an X exists outside of her knowledge.

    Alice may consider it is impossible for anyone to know of an X such that X is evidence for Y.

    Alice may not know whether it is possible or impossible to know of an X such that X is evidence for Y.

    Alice may not know whether she knows or doesn’t know of an X such that X is evidence for Y.

    Decoding the significance of some of this would likely require knowing more about Alice’s general epistemological commitments. In the absence of that, if Alice asserted that ‘there is no evidence for God’ and later clarified that she meant ‘there is no known evidence for God’ based on the kind of positions outlined above (possibly assuming a further unstated qualifier ‘…to me personally, perhaps’) there would be a question about whether it was worth engaging with her.

  16. Silva says:

    Silva > > Saying “I don’t know” in response to the challenge of “What evidence would be sufficient?” is what Matt Dillahunty does.

    TFBW > No it’s not. He says, and I quote, “I can’t give you specifics.”

    No, saying “I don’t know” to specifics is a main point that he makes.

    4:16 “I have no idea, specifically, what would change my mind about the existence of God.”

    13:41 “When I say my answer of ‘I don’t know’, it’s incredibly frustrating for believers. ‘I don’t know’ is the answer that probably frustrates them the most.”

    15:02 “I don’t know specifically what evidence because to presume that I have the knowledge of what sort of evidence should convince me would place me in a position of having almost a god-like understanding of the universe—that I know enough to be able to tell the difference between some super-advanced—perhaps alien—technology and a god.”

    Note that I cast a wider net than Dillahunty. He says “evidence and argument” would convince him, while I say (as I did in the previous thread) that a sound argument alone would suffice.

    Do you accept that the Alice fallacy is a fallacy?

  17. Derek Ramsey says:

    @Silva – “while I say that a sound argument alone would suffice.”

    This is meaningless question begging. A sound argument could never convince you: no evidence for God can be accepted without having a sound argument to prove God exists. This is, of course, impossible. The only way to avoid circularity is to first answer the question, “what would qualify as evidence for God?”

  18. Derek Ramsey says:

    “He says “evidence and argument” would convince him, while I say that a sound argument alone would suffice.”

    1) I am presenting no evidence for God
    2) A sound argument is sufficient to prove the existence of God.
    3) Therefore, it doesn’t matter that I’ve presented no evidence for God if the argument is sound.
    4) This is a sound argument.
    5) Therefore, God exists.

    It’s completely absurd. I assume you realize this and are just being intellectually dishonest to make yourself look open-minded and to avoid having to answer the question “What qualifies as evidence for God?”

  19. TFBW says:

    What Derek Ramsey said, basically, but I’ll put it in my own words.

    Note that I cast a wider net than Dillahunty. He says “evidence and argument” would convince him, while I say (as I did in the previous thread) that a sound argument alone would suffice.

    Dillahunty doesn’t know what “evidence and argument” looks like in this context, therefore his claim that it would convince him is necessarily false, as he wouldn’t recognise it if he saw it. It is a necessary (fundamental, even) pre-condition of accepting “evidence and argument” that you be able to recognise them as such. You don’t know what a sound argument looks like in this context. A sound argument would indeed prove the existence of God, but you wouldn’t recognise it if you saw it, so your claim that it would convince you is necessarily false. If you had the slightest clue what a sound argument for the existence of God looked like, you wouldn’t be assiduously avoiding my challenge that you present me with some actual set of conditions that could be used in such an argument. Specify an “X” for “if X, then God exists,” where “X” is not known (by us) to be true or false. You seem to not know a lot of things, so surely there is some suitable X that you don’t know. No? Didn’t think so. You simply have no clue what that X could look like, and that’s my entire point.

    A certain amount of prior knowledge is necessary in order to be persuaded by the sorts of things that ought to persuade you. If you play dumb, which is the strategy going on here, then you don’t get to use those otherwise-valid points, because you have undermined their power as it relates to you, specifically.

    Your “Alice fallacy” is obfuscation and sophistry. What you and Dillahunty are doing is an argument based on the Obscenity Fallacy: “I know it when I see it.” That isn’t an argument at the best of times, but the fact that there are precisely zero instances in which either you or Dillahunty have seen anything which could even in principle be evidence for God suggests that, no, you don’t know it when you see it, you simply and bluntly refuse to see it. Or you are completely blind to it — take your pick.

    Prove me wrong by counter-example. It’s not like I haven’t demanded this numerous times already. You will continue to obfuscate and pretend that you can be persuaded, yet never commit to a single possible premise of this nebulous “sound argument” which concludes that God exists. The ongoing lack of such a commitment on your part amounts to evidence that no such premise exists. There exists no premise that you would accept as an element of a sound argument for the existence of God. There exists no evidence that Matt Dillahunty would accept as supportive of an argument for the existence of God. It doesn’t matter that this lack of acceptance is based on a claimed lack of knowledge: it is functionally indistinguishable from a closed mind in either case.

  20. FZM says:

    “I don’t know specifically what evidence because to presume that I have the knowledge of what sort of evidence should convince me would place me in a position of having almost a god-like understanding of the universe—that I know enough to be able to tell the difference between some super-advanced—perhaps alien—technology and a god.”

    I can understand why Dillahunty position here could cause frustration. The appeal to unknown, super advanced technology as an explanation of things seems close to stating that Naturalism is something unfalisifiable, where nothing can ever be known to count against it.

    There doesn’t seem a clear reason as to why even our knowledge of quite basic and mundane things (like, potatoes exist and are a useful food), if we wanted to exclude super advanced unknown alien technology as the actual cause of them, also wouldn’t entail possessing God-like understanding of the universe.

  21. FZM says:

    You will continue to obfuscate and pretend that you can be persuaded, yet never commit to a single possible premise of this nebulous “sound argument” which concludes that God exists.

    If Silva is the A. Silva who got banned a while ago, I guess he is, I remember that he did grant a single premise to this type of argument; the premise that some things can be known to exist.

    I got the impression that his basic position is that it is impossible for anyone to know if a sound argument for the existence of God exists or can be (or has been) presented.

  22. Dhay says:

    We’ve already had ‘The CreAtheist’ here (shortly after the video was published) with a similar argument; which I then satirised as:

    Me and my mates need evidence of a God. I’m not going to tell you what evidence would be needed, nor even whether I myself know what the needed evidence could be. God only knows what evidence would convince us.

    Silva’s can be satirised similarly as:

    I need evidence or a sound argument for a God. I’m not going to tell you what evidence or sound argument would be needed, nor even whether I myself know what the needed evidence or sound argument could be. God only knows what evidence or sound argument would convince me.

    *

    > 15:02 “I don’t know specifically what evidence because to presume that I have the knowledge of what sort of evidence should convince me would place me in a position of having almost a god-like understanding of the universe—that I know enough to be able to tell the difference between some super-advanced—perhaps alien—technology and a god.”

    We can probably rule out intervention by aliens with a super-advanced technology using basic physics, elementary mathematics and basic common sense.

    Let’s look at the physics involved: firstly your aliens have to become aware of us, secondly their intervention has to reach us. If human civilisation started 10,000 years ago [please insert your preferred figures] that puts the aliens within a 10,000 light-year radius if they are even to detect us; for them to then intervene with the fastest-possible light-speed signal back — a bat-signal illuminating the clouds, a God-signal illuminating the clouds, or whatever tickles a skeptics’s fancy — would put them within a 5,000 light-year radius of us; in terms of a Milky Way 100,000 light-years across yet a tiny speck in a vast universe, that needs the aliens to be located, metaphorically, close by in our own street.

    A more realistic scenario in view of our total electromagnetic spectrum silence — not even any noticeable heat or light — until 100 years ago [or insert preferred figure] is that your aliens would have to be within 50 light-years of Earth to detect humans then respond in the very quickest way.

    They would have to be even closer if they are to detect us and then actually turn up: super-light warp speeds are likely to remain Sci-Fi fantasy unless General Relativity is badly incorrect — and if so, why have we not observed and measured such superluminal speeds here or in the universe — so we can expect long travel times at spaceship speeds which average much less than the speed of light; this puts the alien base a mere few light-years away, somewhere within the nearest few stars.

    Astonishingly fine-tuned as we know the universe is, it would be astonishingly further fine-tuned if in a famously hostile universe — ask Richard Dawkins — it should turn out that intelligent alien life should be located right next door to us with its ears pressed to the wall, so to speak. How likely is that? Or, re-phrased, how startlingly implausible.

    There’s also a certain lack of common sense in people who believe that aliens who have come from (or are God-signalling) from light-years away would seek not to destroy us, not to communicate with us in some meaningful way via serious diplomacy, but as alien tricksters intent on a silly practical joke. Yeah, yeah, pull the other one.

    So if ever there was a demonstration of some super-advanced technology, why ever should we expect it to be wielded by aliens.

    *

    Matt Dillahunty (and Silva, quoting Dillahunty hence ‘owning’ the view) seems to think that a demonstration of some super-advanced technology might only “perhaps” be due to aliens; so let’s look at the alternatives.

    That Russia or China [or insert country or company here] might have super-advanced technology but not wield it to become the next superpower looks rather implausible.

    That the USA might have super-advanced technology capable of emulating effects that might be wrongly attributed to God also seems unlikely; current disinformation technology seems to centre around using FaceBook; if the USA were to use a a super-advanced technology to “prove” a Christian God the implication would be it would be as a weapon to confuse and disorientate Muslims and atheists and to destabilise Muslim and atheist states; do I detect the elements of a conspiracy theory.

    If a commercial firm had such super-advanced technology they’d probably use it to make a fortune in advertising. After all, the costs of development must be astronomical, you don’t even start R&D without knowing how you’ll make your money back plus a big, Big, BIG profit.

    *

    All in all, then, not much sign of the use of ‘Science and Reason’ or ‘Evidence and Reason’ by Dillahunty or Silva: aliens with a super-advanced technology and humans with a super-advanced technology, both of them, look like very remote possibilities and outside chances rather than, either of them, an obviously selected choice.

    *

    As regards Jerry Coyne’s …

    The fact that no such things have ever been scientifically documented gives us added confidence that we are right to stick with natural explanations for nature. And it explains why so many scientists, who have learned to disregard God as an explanation, have also discarded him as a possibility.

    … I rather think that what he claims applies to unmanifested demonstrations from God applies also to unmanifested demonstrations from aliens:

    The fact that no such things have ever been scientifically documented gives us added confidence that we are right to stick with non-alien explanations of phenomena. And it explains why so many scientists, who have learned to disregard aliens as an explanation, have also discarded them as a possibility.

    On pages 118-119 of Faith versus Fact, Jerry Coyne tells us that he too could be convinced of the Christian God. It’s Coyne’s latest attempt (that I know of) to specify what would cause him to start thinking seriously about the truth of Christianity. Maybe.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/dawkins-neuters-logic-and-reason/#comment-9615

  23. TFBW says:

    @FZM: “I remember that he did grant a single premise to this type of argument; the premise that some things can be known to exist.”

    That’s a premise, but not a premise which involves the existence of God. A premise which involves existence, yes, but not of God specifically. There may or may not be an argument for the existence of God which uses such a premise, and if it did, it would necessarily be a multi-stage argument (unless the major premise were, “if some things can be known to exist, then God exists”).

    What we really need is, technically speaking, the Hypothetical Major Premise from a Hypothetical Syllogism, which, when combined with the appropriate Categorical Minor Premise, validly reaches the conclusion, “therefore God exists.” Once Silva has committed to such a Hypothetical Major Premise, the task of producing his “sound argument” is simply that of showing the Categorical Minor Premise to be true.

    A reference: http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/37/logic-deductive-and-inductive/467/chapter-12/

  24. Silva says:

    Derek, I can’t tell whether or not you are an atheist putting on a Poe performance. You did not, of course, present a sound argument for the existence of God. Also in Poe territory is failing to recognize that “a sound argument alone would suffice” is, of course, referring to an argument for the existence of God.

    I am open to the possibility that God needn’t produce physical evidence in order to make his existence known. For instance, God might be the foundation of logic, reason, and consciousness, and hence might be apprehended with those tools alone. That is the wider net—it catches possible gods that Dillahunty’s criteria would not.

    TFBW, so do you accept that the Alice fallacy is a fallacy, or not? It’s not clear to me what your answer to that question was. If you can’t agree to what basic fallacies are, there isn’t going to be much common ground.

  25. Featherfoot says:

    Silva accusing someone else of putting on a performance? Thanks, I needed a good laugh.

    But hey, Silva, keep beating that dead horse. Keep playing dumb. Everyone knows that your silly “Alice Fallacy” doesn’t apply to this situation, and no one believes you don’t realize it. False Dilemmas are also logical fallacies, as are Arguments From Authority, but those don’t apply either. If you decide you want to have a serious discussion, I’ll gladly do it. Plenty of atheists and theists do. But I’m done with this farce.

  26. Derek Ramsey says:

    @Silva – “You did not, of course, present a sound argument for the existence of God…referring to an argument for the existence of God”

    My argument is trivially sound. The conclusion, that God exists, follows logically. It is an argument for the existence of God. What is an argument for the existence of God if not that the conclusion of a sound argument is that God exists?

    The absurdity is the circularity between #2 and #5. But #2 is your premise, not mine. If you accept an absurd premise that logically leads to a proof of God, the absurdity is with you and your premise, not the argument itself. It is a silly notion that you can prove the existence of God without evidence. Premise #2 is no different than blind faith.

    “…an atheist putting on a Poe performance”

    I’m no atheist. Your point was so completely absurd that any argument based on it must also be completely absurd. I don’t actually believe the nonsense that logically follows from your statement.

  27. TFBW says:

    @Silva: I do not accept that anyone here has committed your unimaginatively named “Alice fallacy”, which is, indeed, a very stupid fallacy.

    And still you demur on the subject of demonstrating that your mind is not closed. Instead, you’re going to beat the “Alice fallacy” dead horse. This won’t be the first time I’ve run out of patience with you.

  28. Dhay says:

    Silva > P = There exists an X such that X is evidence for Y.

    Alice doesn’t know of an X such that X is evidence for Y.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/god-of-the-gaps-atheism-3/#comment-24231

    “There exists an X…” has been replaced by “Alice doesn’t know of an X… “Looks to me like a bait-and-switch.

    Let’s call it the “Alice bait-and-switch.”

  29. Dhay says:

    Robert M > The notion that “the cancers of only good people could go into remission” being scientifically documented would be evidence of God is asinine too.

    (1) I can’t speak for other faith traditions but I don’t recall that miraculous healings in the Bible or in Christian legend are reserved for good people. If anything, only people who are publicly considered “good” being healed would be contrary to my understanding of God and would immediately make me think it’s a fraud, like the health-and-wealth gospel or “The Secret”.

    I agree: the way the Old Testament covenant(s) worked, those who obeyed God’s commands — the Mosaic Law — were blessed, those who disobeyed were cursed. Those who were ill or disabled were ‘obviously’ cursed and the ‘obvious’ reason for that was, they were sinners. We see the assumption that those in need of healing were sinners in Mark 2 and elsewhere:

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+2%3A+5-12&version=ESVUK

    That is, the miraculous healings in the Bible were, if anything, reserved for people publicly considered sinners, reserved for “bad” people.

    *

    I also like your comments on research ethics and the problem of metering “goodness” — good practical science points, both.

  30. Silva says:

    Here is what I said:

    > Note that I cast a wider net than Dillahunty. He says “evidence and argument” would convince him, while I say (as I did in the previous thread) that a sound argument alone would suffice.

    I find it simply unbelievable that someone could honestly think that “sound argument” here refers to any argument whatsoever, such as an argument about kumquats. Hence my response,

    > Also in Poe territory is failing to recognize that “a sound argument alone would suffice” is, of course, referring to an argument for the existence of God.

    Yet even after I said that, Derek still, astonishingly, doesn’t appear to understand.

    This is a no-win situation: taking Derek seriously may elicit derision for not recognizing a Poe, while not taking him seriously may result in accusations of bad faith and/or evading. Of the two options, calling Poe is the most charitable interpretation of whatever is going on with Derek.

    I was recently reading an article about the “incel” attack in Toronto and was struck by the significance of the following passage:

    “Coherence, consistency, reason — these are all tools by which we understand, accommodate, include and listen to one another. In a purely authoritarian worldview, those are the rules you most enjoy not playing by. That makes it very difficult to formulate a response to, on an intellectual level, let alone a practical one: you can’t argue with a schema whose principle is that it will not brook argument.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/25/raw-hatred-why-incel-movement-targets-terrorises-women

    If Derek is not a Poe, then something very much like the above is happening here, considering that Derek (astoundingly) garners support here. However if I see open rejection of whatever Derek is doing, I will be pleased to have been proven wrong. If that happens then we can move on to TFBW’s refusal to accede to ground-level logical facts (which also echos the above quote), but first things first: Derek.

  31. TFBW says:

    @Silva: You think that Derek is being a Poe, but why shouldn’t we dismiss you as such? You’ve said that you would be persuaded by a “sound argument” — nothing else — and yet you also suggest that you’re casting a “wider net” than Dillahunty in doing so. Excuse me, but if we are to assume that by “a sound argument” you meant, “a sound argument with the conclusion that God exists,” then what you are asking for is logical proof that God exists, since this is what such an argument provides. Logical proof of God’s existence is the one situation in which you can’t deny the existence of God without being definitively irrational in so doing. As such, you’ve set the bar about as high as it can possibly be set, which is in no way a “wider net” than Dillahunty.

    Derek’s facetious response to this is to offer an argument with a circularity in it. It’s mere sophistry, to be sure, but it’s a snarky answer to a silly demand, intended to highlight the ridiculousness of the demand rather than actually meet it.

    Honestly, your demand is silly in and of itself, and your continued evasiveness with regards to a major premise which could possibly lead to the conclusion, “therefore God exists,” is really just a side-show — a hedge to avoid the possibility that someone might actually be able to satisfy it. If that happened, you’d be obliged to renege on your commitment to the premise in order to avoid the conclusion, and that would look even worse than evasiveness.

    Let’s wrap this up, shall we? There are several arguments for the existence of God. You will consider them all unsound because they conclude that God exists. It’s actually within the bounds of logic to say, “this argument is valid, but I reject the conclusion, therefore one of the premises must be false;” it’s just intellectually dishonest to pretend that it’s a conclusion you would reach given the right set of premises — i.e. that you are open-minded about the possibility that God exists.

    I withdraw my question regarding what premise you would accept. You’re hiding the goalposts, sure, but “logical proof” is the most extreme demand you could possibly make regardless of the other details, so why quibble?

  32. Dhay says:

    Silva > I was recently reading an article about the “incel” attack in Toronto and was struck by the significance of the following passage:

    “Coherence, consistency, reason — these are all tools by which we understand, accommodate, include and listen to one another. In a purely authoritarian worldview, those are the rules you most enjoy not playing by. That makes it very difficult to formulate a response to, on an intellectual level, let alone a practical one: you can’t argue with a schema whose principle is that it will not brook argument.”

    If Derek is not a Poe, then something very much like the above is happening here, considering that Derek (astoundingly) garners support here. However if I see open rejection of whatever Derek is doing, I will be pleased to have been proven wrong. If that happens then we can move on to TFBW’s refusal to accede to ground-level logical facts (which also echos the above quote), but first things first: Derek.

    I see that the title of the Guardian article linked to is “‘Raw hatred’: why the ‘incel’ movement targets and terrorises women”.

    What I detect here is a very nasty personal attack upon Derek Ramsey and upon other responders here: we are being likened to the Elliot Rodgers of the world, to viciously bigoted alt-right 4Channers; likened indeed to mass murderers; likened to those “involuntarily celibate” presumably inadequate or inadequate-feeling men who are both incapable of attracting a mate and deeply, angrily resentful about it; that’s quite an insult.

    And it’s purely an insult: it’s a mere assertion, a snide insinuation. There’s nothing to support why any part of the quote might apply to Derek Ramsey or others.

    It’s odd that Silva should allege that Derek Ramsey or others have “a purely authoritarian worldview”: what I see is it’s the insufferably arrogant Silva who is authoritarian — specifically, he’s role-playing an adult telling off Derek Ramsey and TFBW, two actual adults who he treats as children. And that’s a further insult.

    Looks like Silva doesn’t play by the rules of adult behaviour — “In a purely authoritarian worldview, those are the rules you most enjoy not playing by” — but by the playground rules of unsupported assertion and snide insinuation. That makes it very difficult to formulate a response to, on an intellectual level, let alone a practical one: you can’t argue with a schema whose principle is that it will not brook argument.

    I note Silva’s anal-retentive authoritarianism made it important for him to state that a hyphen was missing in an earlier response. I’ve news for him, he looked small as a result.

    As regards Silva’s ideals of “Coherence, consistency, reason”, I note that I have had good reason to ask this self-proclaimed logician what part of “if” he could not understand.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/free-will-evidence-for-god/#comment-20776

    Weird.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/the-collapsing-escape-hatch/#comment-20930

  33. Kevin says:

    Went back and read what Derek wrote. Silva is indeed misrepresenting Derek’s mockery, and comparing it to anything related to this “incel” nut is…a stretch.

  34. Derek Ramsey says:

    @TFBW – “…it’s a snarky answer to a silly demand, intended to highlight the ridiculousness of the demand rather than actually meet it.”

    I’m glad somebody noticed. Your full comment explains it better than I did. Thank you.

    @Silva – “Derek (astoundingly) garners support here”

    Nobody supports my argument. Everyone, except you, correctly rejects my ridiculous argument for the existence of God because they see that your premise is a kumquat. You, instead, try to reject it by saying patently silly things about me and by appealing to semantics.

    The only way for any argument to qualify as an argument for the existence of God, absent any evidence, is to declare it so by fiat. No logical proof of God would qualify if you control the language of what does and does not count. It’s kumquats rather than God only because you say it is. It has absolutely nothing to do with the logic, that is, coherence, consistency, and reason. TFBW is correct to call it pretending.

    Side Note: my argument becomes unsound if you replace any part of it with either kumquats or red herrings.

  35. TFBW says:

    @Derek Ramsey: “Your full comment explains it better than I did. Thank you.”

    You are most welcome. It’s good to know I’m on the right wavelength. I could easily have been wrong.

  36. Silva says:

    Derek, assuming you’re being serious, here is your argument again:

    1) I am presenting no evidence for God
    2) A sound argument is sufficient to prove the existence of God.
    3) Therefore, it doesn’t matter that I’ve presented no evidence for God if the argument is sound.
    4) This is a sound argument.
    5) Therefore, God exists.

    Steps #1 to #3 comprise a trivial argument that does not prove the existence of God. You then use this argument with #2 to obtain your conclusion. You could only do that if #2 means that any sound argument whatsoever — such as an argument about kumquats — is sufficient to prove the existence of God. That is obviously not what “sound argument” refers to in

    > Note that I cast a wider net than Dillahunty. He says “evidence and argument” would convince him, while I say (as I did in the previous thread) that a sound argument alone would suffice.

    Again, that is referring to an argument for the existence of God. You take it out of context to create #2, where it is referring to an argument about anything. You say #2 is my premise. That is wrong.

  37. TFBW says:

    It’s like Silva read none of the other comments whatsoever between his last two comments.

  38. Hi, Michael. I have some experience with evidence. Please check out my blog on this subject. https://thespartanatheist.wordpress.com/2018/05/04/a-word-on-evidence/

    The condensed version is this: Evidence is simply information that points to a particular conclusion, or rules out other conclusions. Moreover, tainted evidence is not useful. Evidence that is unreliable is not useful. Actual evidence can be tested for reliability and scaled, with some forms of evidence more reliable than others.

    This is what evidence actually is. “See the tree, therefore god” is not evidence for god not because I don’t like it, it’s not evidence because it doesn’t point to that conclusion alone, and it doesn’t rule out any other possible options. Therefore it’s just information that doesn’t help us.

    And no, there is no evidence for god.

  39. Kevin says:

    A Myther who relies on stereotypes and doesn’t even know what faith is, is one of the least credible authorities on evidence imaginable. That’s what your blog post seemed to indicate about your beliefs.

    But just in case your blog post was a poorly worded representation of your beliefs, I don’t want to be dismissive too early, so for clarification: What is a specific thing that would count as evidence for God?

    For example, I am assuming something like “the universe had a beginning” would not count as evidence for God in your mind due to alternate explanations you find more credible (which would make it, at worst, poor evidence rather than “not evidence”, but still).

    So just as an example to understand your differentiation, what is something that would count as hypothetical evidence for God, and what is the difference between that hypothetical counting as evidence and the universe having a beginning not counting?

  40. FZM says:

    So just as an example to understand your differentiation, what is something that would count as hypothetical evidence for God, and what is the difference between that hypothetical counting as evidence and the universe having a beginning not counting?

    I read Spartanatheist’s posting about evidence as well. It’s possible that his understanding of evidence and the application of evidence is underpinned by a central dogma: the conclusion that ‘there is no evidence for God’ must always be protected and validated. The rest will be determined by that.

  41. TFBW says:

    Step #1: Demand evidence.
    Step #2: Reject proposed evidence as “not evidence”.
    Repeat.

    I want some evidence that I’m not dealing with this particular algorithm before I invest time and effort into satisfying demands for evidence.

    I like the succinctness to which we’ve refined this issue over time.

  42. Dhay says:

    thespartanatheist > Hi, Michael. I have some experience with evidence.

    That’s a grand-sounding claim, but vague. Please be more specific. What is your experience with evidence?

    And if you have academic or practical qualifications (or both) in a STEM, justice system or other relevant field, feel free to mention them.

  43. Silva says:

    TFBW, as I mentioned earlier, there has to be common ground regarding what logically valid arguments are. I chose Derek’s obviously invalid rebuttal to what I said and asked: could we at least agree that it is, in fact, invalid? To head off any misunderstandings about what this entails, my last post shows its invalidity in full detail.

    Apparently, even something this comically invalid cannot be acknowledged. Instead, you presented a veritable Gish gallop — a fire hose of confusion, non-sequiturs, ad hominems, and misinformation — which, whether intentional or not, has the effect of obscuring the basic logical mistakes that need to be recognized.

    From what I can tell, your evasion consists of somehow latching onto the phrase “a sound argument alone would suffice”, somehow forming the belief it is absurd, and somehow believing that this permits you to avoid acknowledging the elementary invalidity of Derek’s argument.

    Re your comments about “a sound argument alone would suffice”, you make multiple mistakes. Considering the effect (regardless of intent) of your Gish gallop, I should only address one. Remember, Dillahunty says he requires both evidence and argument. As a matter of logical fact, requiring both A and B is necessarily more restrictive than requiring just A. (Given sets A and B, the intersection of A and B is a subset of (or equal to) A.) You are simply wrong in believing my requirement is more restrictive, not less restrictive, than Dillahunty’s.

    By rejecting that a sound argument alone would suffice, you have rejected an entire category of arguments for the existence of God — namely, ontological arguments. That is something I would expect a (typically anti-intellectual) New Atheist to do, not a theist! In other words, Dillahunty immediately throws out ontological arguments while I do not. Yet, somehow, you got the idea that I am being more, not less, restrictive than Dillahunty. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/

    But let’s not get sidetracked by the Gish gallop. The issue at hand is to agree to come to some agreement on basic logical facts. Again, Derek claims an outright falsehood: that #2 is my premise (see my last post). Do understand that #2 is not my premise, as Derek mistakenly claims? Do understand that this is true regardless of the evasions you proffered?

  44. TFBW says:

    Silva said:

    I chose Derek’s obviously invalid rebuttal to what I said and asked: could we at least agree that it is, in fact, invalid?

    If you’d been paying any attention to what anyone actually said here, rather than throwing around labels like “Gish gallop” as though they were a rebuttal of some sort, you would have read my comment from April 29, 2018 at 10:41 am, where I say the following about Derek’s obviously invalid rebuttal.

    Derek’s facetious response to this is to offer an argument with a circularity in it. It’s mere sophistry, to be sure, but it’s a snarky answer to a silly demand, intended to highlight the ridiculousness of the demand rather than actually meet it.

    And you may also have read Derek’s response, where he says the following.

    Nobody supports my argument. Everyone, except you, correctly rejects my ridiculous argument for the existence of God because they see that your premise is a kumquat. You, instead, try to reject it by saying patently silly things about me and by appealing to semantics.

    Your demand was met weeks ago, but you simply — let’s be overtly charitable here — overlooked it.

    And now, let’s analyse the fresh load of sophistry you have offered us.

    Remember, Dillahunty says he requires both evidence and argument. As a matter of logical fact, requiring both A and B is necessarily more restrictive than requiring just A. (Given sets A and B, the intersection of A and B is a subset of (or equal to) A.) You are simply wrong in believing my requirement is more restrictive, not less restrictive, than Dillahunty’s.

    You are playing a little game of switcheroo here. Dillahunty has required (A) evidence, and (B) argument. You have required (C) a sound argument, which is a very particular sub-species of argument — one that is both logically valid and based on true premises. A sound argument conclusively proves the conclusion. Not all arguments are sound. When Dillahunty says he wants an argument, it’s not even clear that he means a formally valid one — just an explanation of how the evidence supports the conclusion.

    As such, I am not “simply wrong” in believing that your requirements are more restrictive than Dillahunty’s. You want logical proof; he wants evidence and a supporting argument. Logical proof is as restrictive as it gets, epistemically speaking.

    Now, if you are actually claiming that Dillahunty means the very particular construct known as a “sound argument” when he says “argument”, I’ll take that consideration on board, because your remarks are true if that’s the case. Personally, I think that’s reading far too much into what Dillahunty said, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility, I suppose. There are no upper bounds to unreasonableness, after all. It’s possible that you want logical proof, Dillahunty wants logical proof and evidence (as though the proof wouldn’t be evidence enough), and some other atheist wants logical proof, evidence, and [pinky finger] one billion dollars.

    By rejecting that a sound argument alone would suffice …

    Stop right there, sophist. I never did any such thing. Never. I said it was the most extreme thing you could demand, which is absolutely nothing like rejecting that it would suffice. This is a blatant misrepresentation of what I said, and you are dishonest for offering it as such.

    Everything which follows from that comment is disregarded as based on a misrepresentation, so I think that covers everything.

  45. Silva says:

    When Dillahunty says that evidence and argument would convince him, you think he’s saying he would be convinced by an argument whose premises are not true? That doesn’t sound like a reasonable interpretation.

    I said “sound argument” instead of “argument” simply to head off the pedantry of “hey, you forgot soundness” or some such, as has happened here before. Having included “sound”, I have run into another kind of pedantry. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    No, Dillahunty means sound argument, as do I.

    Another misunderstanding you have is that you equate a sound argument with some kind of absolute logical or mathematical truth that one could reject only by being irrational. That’s not how soundness is used, nor would it make sense to use it that way. There are always axioms at the bottom which one must decide to accept or reject. Even in mathematics one needn’t accept Zermelo-Fraenkel foundations, for example.

    Look again at what Derek said:

    > But #2 is your premise, not mine. If you accept an absurd premise that logically leads to a proof of God, the absurdity is with you and your premise, not the argument itself…

    Again, this is false. #2 is not my premise, as already explained. Your diversion about “sound” has nothing to do with the falsehood of what Derek is saying, and looks very much like another evasion. Yes, Derek does understand that he is making an absurd argument. What he and you still don’t understand is that it refutes nothing about what I have said because it is irrelevant to what I said. Again, #2 is not my premise, as Derek falsely claims. Do you understand that? Yes or no? Will you evade the question again?

  46. Derek Ramsey says:

    @Silva

    If you replace every instance of “argument” with “argument for the existence of God”, it doesn’t change the soundness of my silly argument and it addresses your objection. If you change it to anything else (e.g. kumquats), it immediately becomes invalid. Now, let’s note something from the link you provided:

    “One general criticism of ontological arguments which have appeared hitherto is this: none of them is persuasive”

    This gets to the heart of the matter. My argument is sound, but it is not persuasive. This is true of all ontological arguments. You won’t accept just any sound argument for existence of God, you’ll only accept the ones that you choose to accept. This is, of course, none of them ever. So while you act like you are open-minded, you are really quite close-minded.

  47. Derek Ramsey says:

    @TFBW – “I’ll take that consideration on board, because your remarks are true if that’s the case.”

    If we could take what Silva says at face value, this might be true. But we can’t. Let’s review: “…while I say that a sound argument [for the existence of God] alone would suffice…”

    My argument is a sound argument for the existence of God. What counts as a sound argument for the existence of God? Silva hasn’t said.

    My argument suffers from circularity and thus is not persuasive despite being sound. Silva wants a sound argument for the existence of God with unspecified conditions of acceptance.

    While an argument for the existence of God that is based on evidence could also be considered, Silva won’t say what kinds of things might qualify as evidence for the existence of God.

    Here is another pertinent quote from the link (emphasis added):

    “However, as Bertrand Russell observed, it is much easier to be persuaded that ontological arguments are no good than it is to say exactly what is wrong with them.”

  48. TFBW says:

    @Silva:

    When Dillahunty says that evidence and argument would convince him, you think he’s saying he would be convinced by an argument whose premises are not true?

    Read my words, sophist. I said, “when Dillahunty says he wants an argument, it’s not even clear that he means a formally valid one — just an explanation of how the evidence supports the conclusion.”

    No, Dillahunty means sound argument, as do I.

    Okay, you think Dillahunty wants evidence and then formal logical proof. I think that’s weird and unlikely, but you could conceivably be right, as I said. Thanks for clarifying.

    There are always axioms at the bottom which one must decide to accept or reject. Even in mathematics one needn’t accept Zermelo-Fraenkel foundations, for example.

    Right, so the difference between a sound argument and a formal mathematical proof is what, exactly? Both are absolutely rationally binding to the extent that one accepts the underlying axioms. Furthermore, if one rejected those axioms (of logic in the case of a sound argument), one would classify the argument as invalid on the basis that it relied on some axiom (e.g. the law of the excluded middle) which you rejected. To say that an argument is sound is to have expressed acceptance of the axioms. It’s not like this is an actual point of negotiation: you’re blowing smoke again.

    Pretty sick of your incessant, arrogant, sophistic “corrections” of my “misunderstandings”.

    Again, #2 is not my premise, as Derek falsely claims. Do you understand that? Yes or no? Will you evade the question again?

    Oh, for Pete’s sake. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I accept that #2 is not your premise if you insist that it isn’t. Satisfied? You are demanding a formal logical proof of God’s existence. All the other details are mere distractions at this point, so why should I even care?

  49. FZM says:

    You are playing a little game of switcheroo here. Dillahunty has required (A) evidence, and (B) argument. You have required (C) a sound argument, which is a very particular sub-species of argument — one that is both logically valid and based on true premises. A sound argument conclusively proves the conclusion. Not all arguments are sound. When Dillahunty says he wants an argument, it’s not even clear that he means a formally valid one — just an explanation of how the evidence supports the conclusion.

    The rhetorical impact of the ‘there is no evidence for God’ claim would be seriously dented if by saying ‘there is no evidence for God’ what the New Atheist meant was ‘I don’t know of a sound argument for the existence of God’, where sound argument means an argument that is logically valid and based on true premises.

    Taking a sufficiently sceptical approach a person could probably deny that a sound argument exists for the reality of things as basic as change, more than one object existing and similar foundational stuff.

  50. TFBW says:

    @FZM: to put it another way, I find it highly unlikely that any of the “Science!” type atheists would be speaking of logically sound arguments in the context of evidence. Scientific evidence does not lend itself to deductive logic. They usually have to settle for something statistical, or an inference to the best explanation (which is pretty subjective).

  51. Dhay says:

    FZM > Taking a sufficiently sceptical approach a person could probably deny that a sound argument exists for the reality of things as basic as change …

    You mean like this?

    As Einstein acknowledged in his response to Gödel in the festschrift, in such a causal chain – in which an apparently earlier event E leads to an apparently later event L, but where L in turn leads back to E – you may with equal justice regard L as the earlier event and E the later. The relations “earlier than” and “later than” cease to be objective features of the situation. Now, as even the B-theory of time acknowledges, the objective reality of the relations “earlier than” and “later than” is essential to the reality of time. Hence Gödel concluded that in a universe of the sort he describes, time is illusory.

    Now, whether our universe is of the rotating kind that would allow for such causal chains depends on the distribution of matter within it, which is an empirical consideration that cannot be settled from the armchair. But Gödel thought this irrelevant.

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/godel-and-unreality-of-time.html

    Which appears to affirm a sound argument exists for the unreality of something as basic as change. (But I am no philosopher.)

  52. FZM says:

    Which appears to affirm a sound argument exists for the unreality of something as basic as change. (But I am no philosopher.)

    Yes, this is only one of the possible arguments against change being real. In some of his books Feser discusses the other ancient Greek ones which go back to Parmenides. There are related ones which try to show that only change is real and that no objects continue in existence over any length of time.

  53. FZM says:

    …to put it another way, I find it highly unlikely that any of the “Science!” type atheists would be speaking of logically sound arguments in the context of evidence. Scientific evidence does not lend itself to deductive logic. They usually have to settle for something statistical, or an inference to the best explanation (which is pretty subjective).

    I think it’s possible that there are some, those who are more polemically inclined (maybe Matt Dillahunty, having seen him in action in a debate) who will make use of both approaches simultaneously as it suits their rhetorical needs. And throw in a non-cognitivist/verificationist line of argument as well about God being a poorly defined or incoherent concept that is meaningless at the same time. So plenty of obscurity is generated.

  54. Pennywit says:

    Show me the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl. Then we can talk.

  55. Kevin says:

    “This just in: Beverly Hills, 90210. Cleveland Browns, 3.” – Colin Mochrie

  56. Pennywit says:

    Totally unrealistic. The Browns have actually scored.

  57. Kevin says:

    Possible on a video game, which I was just unspecific enough to allow the use of this loophole.

  58. Silva says:

    Me: No, Dillahunty means sound argument, as do I.

    TFBW: Okay, you think Dillahunty wants evidence and then formal logical proof.

    You are mistaken to think that “sound argument” is equivalent to “formal logical proof”. “Argument” and “sound argument” are not different animals, as you imagine. Soundness and unsoundness are applicable to any argument as long as the premises are clear.

    Indeed a common mistake is to make an argument that is unsound, and there needn’t be a “formal logical proof” involved. Indeed it happened at least once on this very blog, and indeed someone in this very thread linked to the very post where it happened. There’s no indication that Michael was aware that his argument was unsound. https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/free-will-evidence-for-god/#comment-20850

    > Right, so the difference between a sound argument and a formal mathematical proof is what, exactly? Both are absolutely rationally binding to the extent that one accepts the underlying axioms.

    Bolding from me. At last it appears that you have corrected your misunderstanding expressed here:

    > Logical proof of God’s existence is the one situation in which you can’t deny the existence of God without being definitively irrational in so doing. As such, you’ve set the bar about as high as it can possibly be set, which is in no way a “wider net” than Dillahunty.

    Here you were thinking that acceptance is rationally compelled; that’s why you thought the bar was “about as high as it can possibly be set”. Now you understand that one may reject one or more axioms in an argument, making it not rationally binding. Thus the bar isn’t “as high as it can possibly be set”.

    It is as if you were unaware of the entire category of arguments called ontological arguments. See the Stanford link I provided earlier: “Ontological arguments are arguments, for the conclusion that God exists, from premises which are supposed to derive from some source other than observation of the world—e.g., from reason alone.”

    As I said before, the “wider net” simply means that I do not reject ontological arguments out of hand, as Dillahunty does. Thus I entertain a wider, not narrower, range of possible arguments. If God is the foundation of reason, then his existence might be revealed by reason alone.

    > Furthermore, if one rejected those axioms (of logic in the case of a sound argument), one would classify the argument as invalid on the basis that it relied on some axiom (e.g. the law of the excluded middle) which you rejected.

    No, that’s not what “invalid” means with respect to arguments. It means the conclusion does not follow. Whether one accepts or rejects axioms is independent of the argument’s validity. Rejecting an axiom does not make the argument invalid (and contrariwise, accepting an axiom does not make the argument valid).

    > I accept that #2 is not your premise if you insist that it isn’t.

    Your acceptance is not a full acceptance because you have made it contingent upon my view (“if you insist…”). You are “taking my word for it” as a way to avoid admitting that #2 is, in fact, not my premise. Considering that you are “sick” of me correcting your mistakes, it is understandably especially difficult for you to fully concede that #2 is not my premise because that would imply that Derek’s argument really is mistaken (in the most absurd Poe-like sense) and that you were mistaken for supporting it.

  59. Silva says:

    Because I expect this misunderstanding to resurface, I will repeat: I acknowledge that Derek intentionally constructed an absurd argument as a means of hoisting me with my own petard. The problem is that it is not my petard (#2 is not my premise). He fashions his own petard and hoists himself with it (which is one reason his presence is so Poe-like).

  60. TFBW says:

    @Silva:

    You are mistaken to think that “sound argument” is equivalent to “formal logical proof”.

    A sound argument is an example of a formal logical proof of its conclusion. It starts from true premises, and reaches the conclusion via valid logical steps. It proves the conclusion; it is a proof. If you demand a sound argument, you are demanding something which is a logical proof of the conclusion. I’ve repeated myself quite enough on this point, and I have no further intention of engaging discussion on the point. I am not “mistaken”, and this fact is not negotiable.

    Whether one accepts or rejects axioms is independent of the argument’s validity.

    Rubbish. Validity is obtained with respect to a set of axioms. This is about as dependent as it can be. This fact is not negotiable. If you say an argument is sound, you are saying it is sound with respect to a set of axioms. Are we to take it that you will accept an argument for the existence of God which is sound by any arbitrary set of axioms? If so, I declare God’s existence to be axiomatic, and my argument consists of the single premise, “God exists.” QED. Clearly you aren’t going to accept this argument as sound, because you reject the axiom.

    SOPHIST. WASTE OF TIME.

    Your acceptance is not a full acceptance because you have made it contingent upon my view (“if you insist…”).

    Logically, my acceptance is not a full acceptance if and only if you do not insist that #2 is not your premise.

    I’m done talking to you, by the way.

  61. Silva says:

    Me: Whether one accepts or rejects axioms is independent of the argument’s validity.

    TFBW: Rubbish.

    You are mistaken. You needn’t take my word for it. The first google hit (ignoring Wikipedia) is:

    A deductive argument is said to be valid if and only if it takes a form that makes it impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion nevertheless to be false. Otherwise, a deductive argument is said to be invalid.

    A deductive argument is sound if and only if it is both valid, and all of its premises are actually true. Otherwise, a deductive argument is unsound.

    https://www.iep.utm.edu/val-snd/

    For validity alone, we aren’t evaluating the premises themselves. We only evaluate the correctness of the argument’s structure.

    You could also stop by your nearest university and ask a logician: “If I reject a premise of an argument, does that mean the argument is invalid?” The logician will reply, “No. Validity is about whether the conclusion follows from the premises, nothing more. Your acceptance or rejection of its premises is irrelevant to its validity.”

    > Validity is obtained with respect to a set of axioms. This is about as dependent as it can be.

    You did not understand what I said. I did not say that an argument’s validity is independent of its axioms. I said that its validity is independent of whether one accepts or rejects its axioms.

    Because you have been lashing out with arrogance and insults and whatnot, you have greatly magnified the embarrassment that would accompany conceding mistakes (and quite fundamental mistakes at that). That is why you cannot bring yourself to say that #2 is not my premise. That would amount to admitting that you were mistaken to support Derek. Worse, what Derek says is clownishly, Poe-like wrong, and that you did not spot that is an extra heaping helping of embarrassment.

    You will find that you will learn more by being inquisitive (not arrogant) and kind (not slinging insults). Try it out.

  62. Derek Ramsey says:

    “…as a means of hoisting me with my own petard.

    Incorrect. I intended it to show that you don’t believe what you appear to be claiming. You are being intellectually dishonest. TFBW says it perfectly: “Clearly you aren’t going to accept this argument as sound, because you reject the axiom.”. Just rinse and repeat.

    For you it was never about the argument’s substance, but your rejection of all axioms and premises that would make a valid argument for the existence of God sound. When you said “…while I say that a sound argument [for the existence of God] alone would suffice…”, you failed to disclose that you would never accept any such argument as sound. It’s circularity.

  63. TFBW says:

    @Silva, your comment simply re-asserts things I have already rejected with reason, so no further comment is necessary.

  64. Silva says:

    Derek, an interesting thing about Bertrand Russell, whom you mentioned, is that he accepted the ontological argument at one time. From his autobiography,

    I had gone out to buy a tin of tobacco, and was going back with it along Trinity Lane, when suddenly I threw it up in the air and exclaimed: ‘Great God in boots! — the ontological argument is sound!’

    Of course he later changed his mind, but considering that an ontological argument once worked for Russell, why should I jump to dismiss all ontological arguments? I shouldn’t, and I don’t. All you are saying to that is, “‘Tisn’t! You do too dismiss ontological arguments, so nyah!” That isn’t an argument, of course, although it does continue the principle here of not brooking argument.

  65. Silva says:

    The problem with heavily activist/ideological sites such as this one is best put in the “incel” article: “you can’t argue with a schema whose principle is that it will not brook argument.” The responses on this thread may be summarized as: “We will not brook argument.” We see this from beginning, with Featherfoot trolling with aspersions, to the end, with TFBW erupting with caps-lock insults after being corrected for misusing/misunderstanding basic terminology. No argument which counters the held ideology will be examined, and no argument which supports the ideology — no matter how absurd — will be rejected. The epitome of the latter is Derek’s “argument” and the subsequent support for it. To be perfectly clear, here again is Derek’s “argument” followed by my commentary:

    1) I am presenting no evidence for God
    2) A sound argument is sufficient to prove the existence of God.
    3) Therefore, it doesn’t matter that I’ve presented no evidence for God if the argument is sound.
    4) This is a sound argument.
    5) Therefore, God exists.
    Steps #1 to #3 comprise a trivial argument that does not prove the existence of God. You then use this argument with #2 to obtain your conclusion. You could only do that if #2 means that any sound argument whatsoever — such as an argument about kumquats — is sufficient to prove the existence of God. That is obviously not what “sound argument” refers to in
    > Note that I cast a wider net than Dillahunty. He says “evidence and argument” would convince him, while I say (as I did in the previous thread) that a sound argument alone would suffice.
    Again, that is referring to an argument for the existence of God. You take it out of context to create #2, where it is referring to an argument about anything. You say #2 is my premise. That is wrong.

    If Derek’s clownish “argument” cannot be recognized as invalid, then no real argument (such the one involving P) has a chance here. One can hardly imagine a better demonstration that this site “will not brook argument”.

  66. TFBW says:

    Silva wins by asserting that he is right and everyone else is mistaken. That’s about it.

  67. Silva says:

    TFBW, indeed there are such things as bare facts. Being unwilling to accept bare facts is part and parcel of not brooking argument. For instance, is #2 my premise? Yes or no?

  68. TFBW says:

    Silva’s premise #1 is that Silva is the only one here competent to speak about logic.

  69. TFBW says:

    Look, Silva, I’m giving you a lot of snark here, because that’s all I have left to offer at this point. You are convinced that you understand logic and reason best, and I am convinced that you are vastly over-estimating your skill, and engaging in sophistry and pedantry instead of actual reason. I don’t believe there’s any possible way to resolve this issue without deference to an external arbiter that we both respect, and I don’t think we have any such resource. So thanks for your time and effort here, but really, what possible use is there in dragging it out further? An impasse is an impasse. You think I’m talking crap, and I think you’re talking crap. Unless there’s ego-gratification involved, further dialogue is pointless.

  70. Michael says:

    You are convinced that you understand logic and reason best, and I am convinced that you are vastly over-estimating your skill, and engaging in sophistry and pedantry instead of actual reason.

    Well, you have been dealing with someone who thinks this is a “heavily activist site.” Clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

  71. TFBW says:

    Laziest activists ever. Slacktivists.

  72. Silva says:

    TFBW, consider, for example, one of your recent misunderstandings,

    Me: Whether one accepts or rejects axioms is independent of the argument’s validity.

    TFBW: Rubbish.

    I said that you are mistaken, and I said that you don’t have to take my word for it. I cited IEP, but any introductory text on logic would do. You aren’t grasping basic terminology: the meaning of valid. No “arbitrator” is needed for that. Read my response again. Do you still not understand that your above answer is incorrect? If so, you need a tutor, not an arbitrator.

  73. TFBW says:

    Already argued against this nonsense. Refer my previous comments. Nothing to add. Nothing to amend.

  74. Silva says:

    Well, I would note the differences in our approaches. Because understanding the basics is a prerequisite, I have been correcting your various mistakes, the preeminent example being your misunderstanding of what valid means. I quoted the definition from a well-known and peer-reviewed reference work.

    What has been your response? Not to look and try to understand, not to respond rationally to the substance of the issue, but to continue with insults and aspersions.

    I found a Cambridge University Press book on logic which contains an equivalent definition of valid (as any respectable reference would) but also offers a further explanation that may help you:

    Of course, valid arguments may in fact have at least one false premise and a false conclusion, or at least one false premise and a true conclusion, or all true premises and a true conclusion. But, by definition, a valid argument cannot have all true premises and a false conclusion.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=k4WA756o_TQC&pg=PA54

    Now let’s look back at our exchange:

    Me: Whether one accepts or rejects axioms is independent of the argument’s validity.

    TFBW: Rubbish.

    Do you now see that your response is incorrect and that what I said is true?

  75. TFBW says:

    The primary difference in our approach at this point, is that you presume to be 100% correct, whereas I suggest we need an independent arbiter to make that call.

    I stand by my assessment that your statement is rubbish. The Cambridge University Press statement is perfectly accurate, but it never mentions axioms. Axioms are the rules which must be obeyed in order to produce a valid argument. If one does not accept the axioms on which the argument is based, then one does not accept that the argument is valid. Every possible argument is valid by some set of arbitrary axioms, and invalid by another set, so you’re just stripping “validity” of all its useful content if you insist that it exists independently of one’s acceptance of axioms. Every argument is simultaneously valid and invalid by that measure.

    So, yes, I re-affirm my judgement: you’re talking rubbish. Complete and utter rubbish. Nonsense of a high order. Go ask an expert for their opinion on this conversation, and stop expecting me to bow to your own self-asserted wisdom and understanding. There are no words for that level of arrogance.

  76. FZM says:

    There are no words for that level of arrogance.

    Maybe ‘Stardusty Psyche’?

  77. TFBW says:

    Oh, yes — “epistemic solipsism” — thanks for reminding me.

  78. Silva says:

    When part of an argument, an axiom is a type of premise.

    I didn’t need to use the word “axiom”. When I said, “There are always axioms at the bottom which one must decide to accept or reject,” I could have equivalently said, “There are always premises at the bottom…”

    An example of this terminology is in the aforementioned Stanford page on ontological arguments. Note the opening sentence,

    Ontological arguments are arguments, for the conclusion that God exists, from premises which are supposed to derive from some source other than observation of the world—e.g., from reason alone.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/

    (Bolding mine.) In that article, Gödel’s argument contains lines labeled “Axiom 1”, “Axiom 2”, etc. Those are premises of the argument. They are used to construct the next step of the argument, then the next, and so forth. I assume you know that an argument, by definition, must contain premises? You can’t make an argument without premises. Saying that axioms are not premises doesn’t make sense.

    In any case, it would appear that you finally accept this statement: that an argument is valid independent of whether one accepts or rejects its premises. (That is broader than (indeed includes) the statement you called rubbish, but no matter.)

  79. Kevin says:

    Stardusty dropped off the Internet it seems. May have finally gotten banned from the last known blog.

  80. FZM says:

    In any case, it would appear that you finally accept this statement: that an argument is valid independent of whether one accepts or rejects its premises.

    If accepting, say, that the law of non-contradiction applies is an axiom or a premise of an argument, what would it mean to say that the argument remains valid regardless of whether you accept that premise or not?

  81. FZM says:

    Stardusty dropped off the Internet it seems. May have finally gotten banned from the last known blog.

    Ed Feser allowed him to hang around for ages, then, as far as I know, he went to the Classical Theism forum, was finally banned from there too. What I noticed was that it he always seemed to be posting at length pretty much the same thing across all those months (years?).

  82. TFBW says:

    @Silva: “In any case, it would appear that you finally accept this statement: that an argument is valid independent of whether one accepts or rejects its premises.”

    I never rejected it, you immensely dishonest scumbag. Validity has to do with the correct application of rules, not the truth of the premises. Not satisfied with simply lecturing us, you must now also put words in our mouths.

    There is no truth in you.

  83. Silva says:

    > I never rejected it

    You rejected it earlier when you responded “Rubbish”. An axiom is a premise, as I just explained. You didn’t understand that before, but now you do.

    I now wonder if the issue is more fundamental: Did you just not understand my response to Kevin? Did you just not understand that that #2 is not my premise? Here is Kevin’s argument and my response again:

    1) I am presenting no evidence for God
    2) A sound argument is sufficient to prove the existence of God.
    3) Therefore, it doesn’t matter that I’ve presented no evidence for God if the argument is sound.
    4) This is a sound argument.
    5) Therefore, God exists.

    Steps #1 to #3 comprise a trivial argument that does not prove the existence of God. You then use this argument with #2 to obtain your conclusion. You could only do that if #2 means that any sound argument whatsoever — such as an argument about kumquats — is sufficient to prove the existence of God. That is obviously not what “sound argument” refers to in

    > Note that I cast a wider net than Dillahunty. He says “evidence and argument” would convince him, while I say (as I did in the previous thread) that a sound argument alone would suffice.

    Again, that is referring to an argument for the existence of God. You take it out of context to create #2, where it is referring to an argument about anything. You say #2 is my premise. That is wrong.

  84. TFBW says:

    Fuck off, Silva.

  85. Kevin says:

    That was Derek, not me.

  86. Dhay says:

    When a record keeps endlessly repeating a short section there’s something wrong with the record.

  87. Silva says:

    Well look at what I said,

    > You could also stop by your nearest university and ask a logician: “If I reject a premise of an argument, does that mean the argument is invalid?” The logician will reply, “No. Validity is about whether the conclusion follows from the premises, nothing more. Your acceptance or rejection of its premises is irrelevant to its validity.”

    After that you continued to double down, saying, for example,

    > So, yes, I re-affirm my judgement: you’re talking rubbish.

    What am I supposed to take from that other than that you don’t understand the logical meaning of valid? Until very recently, you didn’t mention that your beef was with “axiom”. I hadn’t even imagined that one could believe that an axiom wasn’t a premise, which doesn’t make sense. But you did. I think it is a positive outcome that we finally found the root of your misunderstanding. It is good that you now know that axioms are premises in an argument.

    With that revelation in mind, I can’t jump to the conclusion that you understood my response to Derek (not Kevin, sorry) quoted in my last comment. Like your confusion with “axiom”, there may be some quirk in your understanding that I cannot pinpoint without your input. In other words, I am giving you the benefit of the doubt: maybe there is some confusion about what “#2 is not my premise” actually means, as opposed to you understanding it but not having the intellectual honesty to concede that Derek’s argument (which you supported) is irrelevant at best.

  88. Kevin says:

    Somewhere along the way here I got lost. Looks to me like:

    Premise: All labradors are black.
    Premise: My dog is a labrador.
    Conclusion: My dog is black.

    is a valid argument, because there are implied “if’s” for each premise. However, it’s an unsound argument because all labs aren’t black and my dog is a retriever.

    Now, if we say:

    Premise: All dogs are mammals.
    Premise: My pet is a dog.
    Conclusion: My pet is a mammal.

    then that is both valid and sound, because by conceptual definition dogs are mammals and my pet is a dog. You can’t rationally deny the conclusion if you know the premises to be true.

    Whether or not we use the first or second argument, in both cases the premises can be accepted or rejected. The only way in which both people in a discussion would agree that an argument was sound would be if both knew the premises to be true – and the only way they would know that would be through evidence.

    How can a sound argument for God be separated from evidence for God?

  89. TFBW says:

    Just fuck off, Silva. It is utterly pointless trying to explain anything to you, because I know with ample evidence to back up my case that you will deem yourself correct and me mistaken no matter what I say. You have made discussion with you utterly futile and irritating. You are beyond reasoning with, even if you think you aren’t. Go ask someone else if there’s a difference between a premise and an axiom, assuming that there exists a person anywhere in the world whose answer you would accept if they contradicted you in some way or form. Or not. I don’t care. Just fuck off and stop wasting time.

  90. grodrigues says:

    @Silva:

    “Remember, Dillahunty says he requires both evidence and argument. As a matter of logical fact, requiring both A and B is necessarily more restrictive than requiring just A. (Given sets A and B, the intersection of A and B is a subset of (or equal to) A.)”

    This is pure rubbish, because evidence is only evidence in the context of an argument (the exact form of which does not matter, it may not even be a strict deductive argument, but an inductive one say). It is not like propositions come with a tag “evidence” attached to them.

    “By rejecting that a sound argument alone would suffice, you have rejected an entire category of arguments for the existence of God — namely, ontological arguments.”

    Huh? An ontological argument is a valid argument and sound if the hypothesis are true. For modern ontological arguments, the typical offender is the premise that God is possible.

    “Another misunderstanding you have is that you equate a sound argument with some kind of absolute logical or mathematical truth that one could reject only by being irrational. That’s not how soundness is used, nor would it make sense to use it that way. There are always axioms at the bottom which one must decide to accept or reject. Even in mathematics one needn’t accept Zermelo-Fraenkel foundations, for example.”

    Uh, no. A sound argument is a valid argument where the hypothesis are true. If someone does not accept ZF (say an hard-core ultra-finitist), then he considers all arguments departing from ZF as unsound — or at least those using the offending axioms.

    “It is as if you were unaware of the entire category of arguments called ontological arguments. See the Stanford link I provided earlier: “Ontological arguments are arguments, for the conclusion that God exists, from premises which are supposed to derive from some source other than observation of the world—e.g., from reason alone.””

    Oh for heaven’s sake, the division between ontological arguments and other arguments is not a logical one, but whether it is an a priori or an a posteriori argument like the family of cosmological arguments, which take some feature of reality, typically a “self-evident” one like change exists or some thing or other exists, and then argues to the existence of God. There need be no universe or any empirical reality or observers for the ontological argument to go through, but this is not the same as requiring no premises. St. Thomas argued against the ontological argument by arguing against the main premise, roughly, that in this life and in our epistemic state, we do not have a sufficient grasp of God’s essence to know whether He is possible or not, or to put it in other way, the ontological argument is only convincing to God Himself, the only one who knows Himself fully and perfectly, to know that He is possible, and indeed actual.

    “No, that’s not what “invalid” means with respect to arguments. It means the conclusion does not follow. Whether one accepts or rejects axioms is independent of the argument’s validity. Rejecting an axiom does not make the argument invalid (and contrariwise, accepting an axiom does not make the argument valid).”

    Here you are being a prig and a pedant. Well, I can also be one. The person you quote mentioned excluded middle which is usually viewed as a *logical axiom*, not an axiom or premise in the argument. In other words, if an argument uses only logical axioms it is usually taken to be hypothesis free — and can indeed be hypothesis free in that the set of hypotheses is empty, depending on the way you set up your deductive calculus (e.g. just see proofs of logical tautologies).

    Furthermore, as pointed out by someone else earlier, the argument p |- p is valid (proof: p |- p is a valid deductive rule in Gentzen-type calculi. For Hilbert style calculi, p => p is a tautology so we have p and p => p, and by modus ponens, the only deductive rule in Hilbert calculus, we have p, thus p |- p) but is obviously unsound because it is circular. So your harping on this alleged ignorance (which exists only your head) is pure chicanery.

    You said this site “brooks no argument”. Indeed I hope it does not brook your kind of rank sophistry; the stench of ignorance wafting from you is undeniable. But assuming you are correct, why are you still here wasting yours and everyone else’s time with your empty, vain repetitions? It is certainly not to convince anyone other than yourself.

  91. Silva says:

    Wow, really? It is amazing that you would double down on your axioms-are-not-premises invention. Did you understand this part of what I wrote?

    > In that article [ https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/ ], Gödel’s argument contains lines labeled “Axiom 1”, “Axiom 2”, etc. Those are premises of the argument. They are used to construct the next step of the argument, then the next, and so forth. I assume you know that an argument, by definition, must contain premises? You can’t make an argument without premises. Saying that axioms are not premises doesn’t make sense.

    Instead of responding to that straightforward rebuttal, you lashed out with anger (as usual). Yet this is basic stuff. It is like a math student who misapplies the exponent rules and indignantly exclaims “there are no words for that level of arrogance” after being corrected as to what the exponent rules are and how to apply them.

    If you really want an expert opinion, that person is the philosopher Graham Oppy, the author of the Stanford article. He uses the “axiom” terminology here, as does the argument’s originator, Kurt Gödel (heard of him?).

  92. Silva says:

    > How can a sound argument for God be separated from evidence for God?

    Kevin, ontological arguments, such as Gödel’s mentioned above, separate argument and evidence. See the Stanford article. Again, I would say that if God is the foundation of reason, then it is possible his existence would be revealed by reason alone.

  93. grodrigues says:

    @Silva:

    “Wow, really? It is amazing that you would double down on your axioms-are-not-premises invention.”

    No, it is not “my invention”. None of it. Just one example:

    “Instead of responding to that straightforward rebuttal, you lashed out with anger (as usual).”

    You have refuted nothing whatsoever, and certainly *none* of the points I made.

    “I assume you know that an argument, by definition, must contain premises? You can’t make an argument without premises.”

    This is *false*. There are premise-free arguments, or as I said in a parenthetical remark, just see proofs of logical tautologies — consult any book on mathematical logic.

    “Saying that axioms are not premises doesn’t make sense.”

    No axioms are not premises. In mathematics, axioms are taken in a *descriptive* or *definitional* sense, so we talk about the axioms of this or that theory (e.g. the theory of groups). So a theorem like “Every group is a quotient of a free group” is taken to be premise free. Theorems with premises are (usually) formulated as “if (premise) then (conclusion)”. *Logical* axioms (like excluded middle) are also not taken as premises of any argument whatsoever. And just to be clear, I am just responding to your ignorant waffle with some pedantery of my own, because you are engaging in rank sophistry and are just a pathetic know-nothing.

  94. Silva says:

    grodrigues, my comment was in reply to TFBW.

  95. TFBW says:

    @Silva, there is literally no point in engaging you in conversation, since you are absolutely guaranteed to decide that you are right and everyone who contradicts you is wrong. I’ve encountered epistemic solipsism before. Are you enjoying your public posturing? That’s all that’s happening here.

  96. Dhay says:

    Silva > grodrigues, my comment was in reply to TFBW.

    And grodrigues’ comments (plural) were in reply to you. I expect you to answer them.

  97. TFBW says:

    Dhay: I expect you to answer them.

    I expect you to be disappointed.

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