Wednesday, March 11, 2009

And Rene thus spake: God is...God is....God is....

Yes, from Rene's recent comments here, he is convinced he knows all about God.

"God is incorruptible"

"God is immortal"

"God is invisible"

Hold on there. You haven't even provided an ontology for your God yet and you are going hog wild assigning (epistemological) attributes? Talking about placing the cart before the horse.

However, as Philosopher Joseph Campbell in his book, The Power of Myth (Anchor Books, p. 56) noted:

"'God' is an ambiguous word in our language because it appears to refer to something that is known."

His point is that the language creation of a noun in itself is not adequate to confer reality.

Much more caution on the cavalier use of nouns and attributes related to 'God' is pointed out by author James Byrne, in his excellent book: God: Thoughts in an Age of Uncertainty. . The essence of Byrne's point of view is that investing too much in talking or writing positively about "God" or assigning too many attributes (if even indirect ones) is tantamount to a gross form of symbolic idolatry. (As is clinging too much to every word or phrase in the Bible)

Byrne's emphasis on this point is so strong that (earlier) he goes so far as to endorse French philosopher Jean-Luc Marion's ploy of only writing 'God' with a strikethrough. Thereby to indicate no one has the capacity to describe, grasp, conceptualize or manipulate the underlying entity. In effect, as Byrne observes, "to think -G-O-D- is unthinkable is to reject the entire basis of onto-theology."

This is something Rene is wont to do, because of course he admits no ontology. In his mind simply rattling off biblical quotes is enough to confer existence. But he falls woefully short. Again, this shows why it is futile to debate the Christianoid Archetype that Rene represents.

Let us go into this a bit more. We can do this by addressing the core ontological problem of an "existent" - what it means, and how defined. What needs to be done to validate a claim for such. Once one addresses this, it is then easy to see how all of Rene's complaints against atheists (especially of implicit atheists)are really complaints against himself for being an intellectual coward.

First, following Russell’s lead (‘The Problems of Philosophy’) we need to specify the practical and operative laws that apply to existents and entities, under the general rubric of “being”. (Thus, to be most accurate here, when an atheist agrees to debate a Christian, he is only agreeing to the presupposition of “being”. It remains to be worked out or proven, what the exact nature of this being is.)

By “existent” we mean to say that which has prior grounding in the mind, albeit not yet demonstrably shown in reality.

For example, the number ‘2’.

If the number 2 is mental, it is essentially a mental existent. (Do you see literal two lurking in the outside world, apart from what the human mind assigns, e.g. two apples, two oranges, two beetles etc.?)

Such existents are always particular.

If any particular exists in one mind at one time it cannot exist in another mind at any time or the same mind at a different time. The reason is that as time passes, the neural sequence and synapses that elicited the previous “existent” at that earlier time, no longer exists. My conceptual existent of “2” at 3.30 a.m. this morning is thus not the same as my conceptualization of it at 4 p.m. It may APPEAR so, but rigorous neural network tests will show it is not. (E.g. differing brain energies will be highlighted at each time)

Thus, ‘2’ must be minimally an entity that has “being’ regardless of whether it has existence.

Now, we jump into the realm of epistemology from here, with the next proposition:

Generalizing from the above precepts, ALL knowledge must be recognition, and must be of entities that are not purely mental but whose being is a PRECONDITION- and NOT a result- of being thought of.

Applying this to the ontology of “non-contingent creator”, it must be shown it exists independently of being thought of. (E.g. there must be the case that an independently existing Creator abides outside of the existence of human brains which might get tempted to confabulate it. Note here that quoting bibles won't do since one is then simply committing the logical fallacy of 'appealing to authority')

Here’s another way to propose it: If one demands that this entity is not susceptible to independent existence, and therefore the mere announcement or writing of the words (e.g. 'GOD') incurs validity, then the supposed condition has nothing to do with reality. It is like averring we all live inside a 12-dimensonal flying spaghetti monster. I would be laughed into oblivion, especially as I incur no special benediction by invoking the G-noun.

I guess another way to put it is that words are cheap. However, amongst all the million words Rene has used so far not ONE of them gives an ontology for his existent. And he continues the chronic believer "sin" of talking or writing past me rather than addressing the core issues. But let us move on.

In effect, if the proposed “non-contingent creator” isn’t subject to independent existence, then its alleged “truth” is separated from verification. Truth then becomes what is communicated to us by proxy (or proxy vehicle, e.g. epistles by Paul to the Corinthians or other biblical citations) with the existent (abstraction “Creator”) in the mind of the communicator who deems himself qualified to make the “truth” exist. (As in the case of Rene averring "God is invisible", "immortal" etc. when he hasn't even demosntrated the existence. Thereby committing another logical fallacy "affirming the consequent")

But such a “truth” is fraudulent and cannot be a valid expression of the condition. What it means is there is little assurance the communicated secondary artifact has all the elements and particulars needed to be an affirmed REAL entity. The truth is dispensed according to our needs (in this case the need to believe humans are seen after by a Cosmic Daddy) – all we need ignore is the constellation of evidence that refute it.

How to escape from this ontological problem? Short of the pre-recognition (and acceptance) of the entity in the mind of the other – the only alternative for the communicator is to show at least ONE sufficient condition (reason) for the existence of his claim.

A sufficient condition is one which, if present, the entity must exist.

For example, a sufficient condition for the existence of a hydrogen emission nebula in space would be proximity of the nebula to a radiating star. (The necessary condition is the nebula exist in the first place). In this case, the star’s radiation causes the hydrogen atoms in the nebula to become excited – cause electrons to jump to higher energy levels- then go to lower with the emission of photons)

Other key or core logical and language violations that Rene has committed have been pointed out by Pascal Boyer already. (Since so many Christians who debate atheists make them). Boyer, in his 'Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought'. (Perseus Books, 2001) notes, (Ch. 2, `What Supernatural Concepts are like', p. 51) observes that it is essential :

"the information contained in key tags of the statement or concept must contradict information provided by the ontological category".

Boyer, to make it clear, emphasizes this (p. 52)

"Religious statements or concepts INVARIABLY include information that is counterintuitive relative to the (ontological) category activated"

Thus, Boyer's criteria for a reasonable basis for ANY supernatural definition or claim (whether `God', `soul', or whatever) must satisfy two principles:

1)It must include information that is counterintuitive relative to the (ontological) category activated.(For example, `physics' may be one ontological category that is *also* an epistemological category- then 'spirit physics' would be counterintuitive to it. However one must first elucidate what that means exactly!)

2) The concept and its statement must preserve all relevant default inferences except the ones barred by the counterintuitive element.

Up to now, Rene - being the intellectual lightweight and coward he is, has refused to comply with any of this. He instead keeps returning to bogus definitions of atheism that do not apply, and attempting to place the onus of "non-belief" on atheists, when the full burden of proof is on god believer to deliver the goods - and show their claimed existent merits being added to reality.

Of course, Rene will make his further comments and remarks - cluttering the issues further rather than enlightening us as to why we should believe his God exists. But he merely shows again why it is futile to debate the hard core believer.

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