Monday, July 25, 2011

Invasion of the Atheist Robots, Part II

In my previous blog posting regarding the logical consequences of material monism, I showed that it is self-contradictory because it asserts that all of human experience is merely the compelled effects of the physical properties of matter.  I also mentioned my latest discovery in the blogosphere of Sam Harris' assertion that he is a robot -- a mindless automaton of the universe.  But there are more.

A second example of an atheist robot is found in the writings of Stephen Hawking.    A material monist, such as Hawking,  believes there are no "minds," just physical brains.  So then, it is no surprise, when in the following link, (Hawking: There is No Heaven), Hawking declares that we are merely "meat computers," i.e., we are just like our familiar desktop computers, except that our brains are composed of meat rather than silicon.

To my knowledge, Hawking has not disavowed man's free agency, though he openly sacrifices his rationality on the altar of the goddess Tyche ("chance").  Hawking states in the above article, "Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in."

Science predicts no such thing.

We have already pointed out previously (herethat the "nothing" of Hawking is most definitely something. It is a configuration of quantum fields (which is something) that have a total energy balance of zero -- but to say that a configuration of matter with zero energy (and even the reference point for zero energy is conventional) is "nothing" would be akin to saying the assets of a person with net worth zero is "nothing" in spite of the fact that it is merely that the value of his many assets is equal to the amount of his debts.  It is remarkable what nonsense such brilliant men will utter!

Then we also have Hawking's appeal to "chance."  "Chance," of course, is the correlate of lawlessness, the unexplained, or stuff from the surd.  As it turns out, no physical experiment has shown the existence of "chance."    Atheists worship it nonetheless.   Be that as it may, if it were "chance" that decided in which universe Hawking found himself, it is also "chance" that dictates his every action -- Hawking can have no waivers.  It would follow that Hawking's "reasoning" itself would be the result of random events dictated by quantum dynamics.   He would not be a "free thinker"-- as many atheists tout -- but a mindless robot uttering random propositions dictated by lawless "chance."  So much then for Hawking's rationality and denial of God.

The same analysis applies to all self-contradictory freedom-denying atheist "robots."  On the atheist worldview, there is no transcendent reality -- the material universe is all there is.  In this case, man is nothing more than a part of the material universe and thus totally governed by material laws. Mindless matter grants no waivers. 

In Christianity, on the other hand, there is an ultimate reality that transcends the world -- the Transcendent Triune God.  Only on the presupposition of theism is man free from physical determinism, since he is the creation of a transcendent living Triune God who has created the physical world and has created man with a nature that is not totally physical -- but physical and spiritual.   Man's created spirit is not ruled by material laws and his will is independent of those laws.   It is the seat of rationality, of self, and of the will.  Christian theism is the only worldview that accounts for all of human experience, that breaks the shackles of material monism, and accounts for the rationality of man.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Invasion of the Atheist Robots

In recent postings, I have written on the logical consequences of material monism.  Material monism is self-contradictory -- it asserts that all of human experience is merely the compelled effects of the physical properties of matter.  But this is the same as the assertion that things turn into their opposites -- by way of magic.  Examples are: life from lifeless matter, minds from mindlessness, logic and mathematics from a-logical and a-mathematical matter, and morals from amoral matter.  And for some, freedom emerges from physical compulsion.

There are two types of these "rational" monists.

The first type of monist  (of which Richard Dawkins is an example), is one who asserts that he is free. We have dealt with that conceit here.  The other group (of which William Provine is an example, discussed here) follows the logical consistency of their presuppositions, reject the miracle of Dawkins, and deny that they are free.  This follows easily, since once a mechanism. . .always a mechanism.  Thus, they use their rationality to deny their freedom, and so deny their own rationality.  In short, they use rationality to deny rationality!

In perusing the blogosphere, it appears that the ranks of atheists promoting man as a mere robot without freedom from physical determinism are swelling.

The newest self-proclaimed robot I have discovered is Sam Harris.  Harris's rejections can be found here:

In both of those essays,  Harris supposes he is engaging in a rational argument. . .but one compelled by physics!  Remarkable!  In the second article above, Harris argues for morality compelled by physics!  Yet another absurd miracle!  To say that a purely material system (such as Harris in Harris's atheistic materialism) is logically and morally obligated to act a certain way is absurd.  Matter is only "obliged" to act according to physical laws. Because of this, robots cannot exhibit moral or rational acts.  Nonetheless, Harris asserts that he is a robot.  And all of this is arrived at via a viciously circular argument rooted in the metaphysical bias of material monism.

A particularly muddled remark occurs at the end of the first article, viz., "the illusion of free will is itself an illusion." 

Here by Harris's analysis, we have a supposedly rational conclusion which is itself an illusion compelled by physics.  But what could it mean?  If the illusion is an illusion, then on the normal meaning of the word "illusion," the "false appearance of free will" is itself a false appearance -- normal usage would either take Harris as contradicting himself or suggesting a rather nonsensical infinite regress of illusions. He has committed a faux pas -- perhaps though (in analogy with his illusion illusion), he would prefer he had committed a faux faux pas.

The issue of human freedom from physical causation extends deeper than ethical issues, such as the repudiation of moral choices and human responsibility. Even Searle in Rationality in Action has written, inconsistently with his naturalism, that rationality presupposes free will.  To state it briefly: Naturalism cannot even account for the illusion of rationality, as there would be no “reason.” Yet, Harris expects us to rationally follow his reasoning -- or maybe he doesn't.  Could it be that Harris is not the author, but rather a mindless robot?

But such is the absurdity to which atheism descends -- rather than worshiping their Creator, they worship "omnipotent" matter by way of their prideful faith in the "rationality" of  "omnipotent" science. A rationality and science which is inexplicable in a purely material reality.

Romans 1:18-19  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,  because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

Romans 1:25  For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Conversations with Atheist Unbelievers

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.  Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;" (2 Cor. 5:10-11a)

In our apologetic endeavors in conversation with unbelievers, we both defend the faith and proclaim the truth of God to lost souls. The true situation is that we are both creatures of God and that the unbeliever is in need of a Savior. The conversation is meaningful, rational and intelligible.

To the atheist unbeliever, we are all matter-in-motion, assembled by chance, a mere piece of the universe, yet (somehow) free from the universe -- in need of nothing. In this case, the conversation would be meaningless and unintelligible.

Our apologetic is built on the fact that we are both creatures of God, and we should not compromise this truth by way of a method that lends credence to the unbeliever's pretension to the contrary.  On the atheist's view, the fact of a rational conversation itself is inexplicable.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Philosophical Houses of Glass

As the saying goes, "People living in circular philosophies should not toss circular objections" -- or something like that.

A frequent charge against Presuppositional Apologetics is that it is a circular argument -- it presupposes Christian theism in order to prove Christian theism. 

This objection comes from atheists -- who live in an irrational and circular philosophy -- but, amazingly, also comes from Christians. 

This objection has been put forward by "Classical" Christian apologist Professor William Lane Craig.  Craig writes in Five Views on Apologetics (p. 232-3):
"As commonly understood, Presuppositionalism is guilty of a logical howler: it commits the informal fallacy of petitio principii, or begging the question, for it advocates presupposing the truth of Christian theism in order to prove Christian theism…A Christian theist himself will deny that question-begging arguments prove anything…But at the heart of presuppositionalism lies an argument, often not clearly understood or articulated, which is very powerful. This is an epistemological transcendental argument…"
C.L. Bolt, on Choosing Hats has posted an analysis of William Lane Craig's objections to presuppositionalism (quoted above) in his post, William Lane Craig's Inconsistent Objections to Presuppositional Argument.  In summary, C.L. Bolt points out the glaring inconsistency of Craig's objection: Craig claims on one hand that TAG has never been "spelled out" adequately but then asserts that TAG is circular ("guilty of a logical howler"). 

To add to the perplexity, in Craig's criticism above, he pays a somewhat begrudging compliment to presuppositionalism, viz.
"But at the heart of presuppositionalism lies an argument, often not clearly understood or articulated, which is very powerful. This is an epistemological transcendental argument…"
So then, apparently TAG has been spelled out sufficiently for Craig to recognize the power of TAG.  If TAG is powerful, then one wonders how it is committing a "logical howler!"  Craig cannot have his cake and eat it too, as another famous saying goes.

But there is a deeper hidden inconsistency in Craig's objections. When Craig says presuppositionalism is guilty of a "logical howler" we should ask, "To what logic is he appealing?"  If he is presupposing logic as constituted in man by God, then he is presupposing Christian theism and is guilty of the same "logical howler."  If he is not, then he is presupposing "neutral" logic --  in that case Craig is presupposing atheist logic, contrary to his Christian profession  --   either way Craig's assertion is incoherent.   Of course, we know this because presuppositionalism, contra Craig's "classical" apologetic, is consistently Christian.  On the other hand, Craig's "classical" apologetic is blatantly anti-theistic.  As Van Til repeatedly illustrated in his writings, Craig's apologetic adopts the unbeliever's standards of objectivity and the unbeliever's commitment to his autonomous reasoning as the ultimate authority.  So then, Craig is not only arguing in a vicious circle, he is arguing from within the unbeliever's viciously circular presuppositions. 

Bahnsen has addressed this false charge of circular argument repeatedly.  Let me conclude with Greg Bahnsen's, succinct analysis from Pushing the Antithesis (p.123-5).  Here is a corrected quote (omitted text is enclosed in brackets):
"Before moving to our next response against the anti-metaphysical bias, you should be aware of a possible response that the unbeliever will bring against you.  He will complain that you are engaging in circular reasoning or the informal logical fallacy of begging the question.  That is, since we assert that God is self-verifying, we are assuming God in order to prove God.  However, we should note in response to this objection:
  (1)  We are not engaged in special pleading for the Christian worldview.  We are simply asking which system makes human experience intelligible.  For sake of argument, we will grant the unbeliever his system with whatever foundations he adopts in order to see if it can justify its truth claims.  But then he will have to grant us ours (for sake of argument) to see if we can justify our truth claims.  By the very nature of our God as the self-existing, eternal Creator, our worldview self-justifies its starting point.  (We will later explain this two-step procedure of worldview critique.)
(2) All systems must ultimately involve some circularity in reasoning.  For instance, when you argue for the legitimacy of the laws of logic, you must employ the laws of logic.  How else can you justify laws of logic?  This is a transcendental issue, an issue that lies outside of the temporal, changing realm of sense experience.  Laws of logic do not change: they are universal, invariant, abstract principles.
(3) "Circularity" in one's philosophical system is just another name for 'consistency' in outlook throughout one's system.  That is, one's starting point and final conclusion cohere with each other.  Here it is more fully explained:
The "circularity" of a transcendental argument is not at all the same as the fallacious 'circularity' of an argument in which the conclusion is a restatement (in one form or another) of one of its premises.  Rather, it is the circularity involved in a coherent theory (where all the parts are consistent with or assume each other) and which is required when one reasons about a precondition for reasoning.  [Because autonomous philosophy does not provide the preconditions for rationality or reasoning,] its "circles" are destructive of human thought--i.e. "vicious" and futile endeavors.
(4) The unbeliever has no defensible standard whereby he can judge the Christian position.  His argument either ends up in infinite regress (making it impossible to prove), has no justification (rendering it subjective), or engages in an unjustifiable same-plane circularity (causing it to be fallacious).  Without a self-verifying standard, he has no epistemological way out.  And only the Christian worldview has such a self-verifying standard.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Abolition of Morality, the Abolition of Man

In issue #82 of Philosophy Now, there is a series of articles on atheistic moral theories. These are categorized as the familiar "moral relativism" and "moral skepticism."  These theories deny objective or absolute morality and embrace subjective and relative moral judgment ("different strokes for different folks").

Nevertheless, at bottom, all of these atheistic theories have a common presupposition of human autonomy and, thereby, a teleological (action for the sake of an end) basis for their ethos -- be it the variety of pragmatism, utilitarianism, relativism, errantism, or fictionalism.   All of the discussion depends upon man having the ability to be guided by utilitarian goals (an act is "good" based on what it achieves) and ability to choose among alternative actions according to subjective (dependent upon the subject) or relative rules (such as mere societal conventions). 

But!  Since atheistic monism and human autonomy are antithetical, none of these philosophical discussions are rational. They are irrational at their very core! On their worldview, man cannot make choices, but only acts as he must.  Therefore, the teleology that their moral theories assume is merely a phantom.

Of particular note is the article by Richard Garner titled, "Morality, the Final Delusion."  Garner bites the bullet and compares the existence of morality with the existence of God.  Taking his lead from Richard Dawkins, he is bold enough to say that belief in morality is the "Morality Delusion!"  Thus we see that in the end, the atheist makes his bold assertions concerning his metaphysics using the supposed power of "his" autonomous reason. But such "rationality" -- which, again on his worldview, can only be the irresistible effect of matter obeying the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics -- is not reason following resistible fundamental laws of logic.  There are no fundamental laws of logic in a universe ruled solely by the fundamental laws of physics.

The atheist's irrational faith in his rational autonomy is the final and only area of philosophy he will maintain to the bitter end.  It would be remarkable if Garner would logically assert the concept of the "Logic Delusion!"  To assert such is obviously delusion in itself.  But it is the inescapable consequence of monism.  Such are the pretensions and self-contradictions of atheism.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Remarks on Transcendental Arguments

Choosing Hats posted a link to a new web site discussing transcendental argument (TAs).  That posting, which can be found here, has prompted me to add my proverbial 2 cents to the discussion.

In reflecting on TAG (Transcendental Argument for God) and its use over the years, I have come to realize that many are unable to recognize a transcendental argument.  There are probably several reasons for this, but one reason may be that most people who have exposure to logic are reared on the classic syllogistic form. TAs are not properly syllogistic and thus cannot be written as such.  (Though syllogistic schema have been employed.)

Transcendental arguments have a self-reflective property.  Typically, they consist of statements for which the speaker is under pain of self contradiction when uttered.  Some perennial examples are the so-called liar's paradox: "I always lie."  That statement, if true, would necessarily be false, and so it must be false.  The person speaking such is a liar -- just not a constant one!  Another example, pronounced a few months ago by my favorite agnostic, is: "There are no answers to Big Questions." That statement is an answer to a "Big Question," and thus self-refuting.   Finally, Descartes' dictum, "I think, therefore I am" is, in my mind, more forceful when stated transcendentally as,"I don't exist" --  a blatant self-contradiction.

The above TAs I will call "first-order" transcendental arguments, since they consist of statements that are directly self-referencing and self-refuting.   This type of argument is sometimes called "retortion."   TAs were recognized as destructing the very foundations of Logical Positivism which scoffed at "metaphysical" inquiry (one should raise an eyebrow immediately) and tried to base its epistemology (without metaphysics!) on the premise that all truth is either empirical or logically derived (i.e., tautology).   All else was metaphysical nonsense. The problem, of course, is that the foundational premise of Logical Positivism is neither a tautology nor an empirical truth.  Thus, Logical Positivism is metaphysical nonsense of the very sort they decried.  

Let's consider TAG.  In a nutshell, TAG is the statement that "There is no God" is self-refuting.  This is not direct retortion since it is not directly self-refuting, but the unbeliever carries a host of beliefs that would only be true in the Christian worldview, and thus when he utters "there is no God," he should abandon any of his beliefs that are only true in Christianity.  Some examples of those beliefs would be morality, the invariant laws of logic, justice, human independence from physical determination, and so on.  The list is long.  The unbeliever's worldview is ontologically, epistemological and ethically self-contradictory.  Since the unbeliever holds to contradictory thought, his worldview is irrational.

The fact that the unbeliever adheres to belief in the concepts mentioned above is another aspect of transcendental arguments: the idea of the stolen concept.

The unbeliever rails against God using beliefs -- such as morality -- that would not exist in the atheist world.  The claim that Christianity holds to beliefs that are immoral is an old line of attack, and one which Bertrand Russell attempted in "Why I Am Not a Christian."   It is a fallacious and self-defeating argument which also has been continued by some of the "new atheists," such as Christopher Hitchens, who attempt to use the concept of "evil" to deny God.  These arguments fail because "evil" would not even exist in an atheistic world, for there would be no such thing (!). As Bahnsen pointed out against Russell's "Why I Am Not a Christian" (and which holds equally against Hitchens et al.):

     "On what basis, then, could Russell issue his moral evaluations and judgments? In terms of what view of reality and knowledge did he assume that there was anything like an objective criterion of morality by which to find Christ, Christians, and the church lacking? 

       Russell was embarrassingly arbitrary in this regard. He just took it for granted, as an unargued philosophical bias, that there was a moral standard to apply, and that he could presume to be the spokesman and judge who applies it." [Always Ready, p.156]

In fact, I recently corresponded with an agnostic who railed against God because he thought it seemed "unjust" that God would send a "good" atheist to hell.  His example was an atheist who did all sorts of "good" but only failed to believe in Christ.  That example is, of course, a specious argument since it conveniently ignores the issue of the evil acts of the hypothetical perfect atheist.  But regardless of that glaring oversight, the question that must be pressed is where does an agnostic's idea or standard of absolute "good," "evil" and "justice" come from?  There simply is no such thing in the atheistic world -- they are "stolen" concepts (or as Van Til said, "the borrowed capital of Christian theism") and thus that argument fails!

Then we have the case of Prof. William Provine, a material monist, who thinks he is "rationally" asserting that there is no human free will. Provine, as I previously pointed out, is consistent with his material monism when he reasons that human beings -- being no more than physical systems propelled by inviolable physical forces --  cannot be autonomous.  Yet, rationality presupposes freedom to be guided by violable laws of logic.   We have the picture of irrational physical forces compelling  "free" and "rational" actions -- actions that Provine has claimed are not possible!  Thus, Provine is self-refuting by way of a TA.  

I recently discovered that Epicurus stated the original transcendental refutation of Provine many years ago. Epicurus stated that one cannot rationally deny free will, since rationality (i.e., adherence to laws of logic) presupposes free will.  The argument as stated on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (
link) is:

"Transcendental arguments can be characterized as demonstrations that the skeptic’s articulation of her own position is self-defeating in some way. These arguments imply that the skeptic cannot even coherently articulate a given position. Epicurus is reported to have argued that, without free choice, one assents to propositions only because one is determined to do so. Without free choice, then, it would be impossible to rationally assent to any proposition—that is, to assent to it because one has good reasons to think it is true, rather than because one must. The proposition that one has no free choice is thus self-stultifying, in that, if true, it cannot be warranted. This reasoning implies the following argument:

    (1) I am able to rationally assent to the proposition that there is no free choice.
    (2) I could not rationally assent to any proposition if there were no free choice.
    (3) Hence, there is free choice."

"That which cannot be true, must be false," and that is exactly what atheism is!  It asserts an impossibility.  It is a world that fails ontologically, ethically, and epistemologically. It is a world without rationality, ethics, or human freedom, yet the atheist presupposes such must be.  And since atheism is impossible, then agnosticism, too, is untenable.  The agnostic should immediately abandon his skepticism regarding God, since the skeptical agnostic essentially asserts that God's existence is unknowable and, thereby, it is possible that there is no God.  We might wonder just what metaphysical law of "possibility" exists that would demand such! If the only possibilities are dictated by the physics of material monism, then one has a most baldly vicious circular argument.

We also have the skeptic.  The global skeptic claims "nothing is knowable," and as shown above, he has been summarily defeated by a first-order transcendental argument. "I don't know anything" is refuted by the unintelligibility of the utterance.  So, what we really have is the relentless unbeliever who doubts everything except the power of his autonomous reason from which he launches his skeptical attacks.  He ought to wonder why his own reason is immune (!), and if he will admit that it is not, he ought to wonder why he busies himself with his skeptical arguments against Christian theism, all the while acting as if "his" reason is the ultimate authority!  In the last case, we see another person who should shut his mouth.  The fact that he does not is a testimony to foolish pride of the agnostic's heart and his reliance on his supposed self-sufficient autonomy.

In summary, all unbelievers have a prideful, irrational adherence to the power of their own autonomy and their autonomous reason. But such autonomous rationality would not exist in a reality wherein all acts are no more than the compelled effects of ultimate irrational quantum mechanical chance events. According to the atheist, man himself is nothing more than a manifestation of that ultimate irrationality and, thereby, the metaphysical equivalent of "sock puppets."