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1
Donald Hoffman is an evolutionary cognitive scientist who argues that evolutionary fitness has little to do with truth, or formulating a picture of reality as it is. He, in fact, tends to argue precisely the opposite with what he terms his "interface" theory of perception. Knowing reality as it is, he claims, is simply not in the best interests of an organism striving to maximize its fitness.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYp5XuGYqqY


Now, Hoffman to my knowledge does not comment on theology, or arguments for God or religious philosophy. But what would purveyors of the evolutionary argument against naturalism make of appropriating this work for their ends? It seems if one could make a solid scientific argument that concepts of reality and truth as it is are evolutionarily less than useful, it could be a solid boon for the EAAN.

2
Choose Your Own Topic / A Modus Tollens argument against GOTG
« on: February 03, 2020, 01:22:30 am »
1) If God of the Gaps is an accurate criticism, scientism and occasionalism are true.

2)Scientism and occasionalism are not true.

C: God of the Gaps is not an accurate criticism.


Thoughts?

3
I originally promised this in another thread, but thought it deserved a thread unto itself:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/02/us/politics/donald-trump-tax-schemes-fred-trump.html

If you haven't read this article yet, definitely read. Incredible journalism. I am honestly a little surprised at what a small splash this article made, it is an amazing piece of journalism and IIRC, won a Pulitzer.

In short, Trump started failing very early on, and constantly needed his father to bail him out of his poor business decisions. It doesn't mention his Russian mafia connections, but he has obviously always had some form of safety net to prevent him feeling the full brunt of his incompetence. After a long litany of failure and bankruptcies, the oligarchs were happy to loan him when then US banks wouldn't.

4
Scientism: The belief that science is the only legitimate epistemic method.

Occasionalism: The belief that if God exists, only god does anything.


Do God of the Gaps arguments make these two fatal presumptions with the following sorts of assertions?:

"Every time science has discovered something, "God did it" has never been the explanation"

"God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance"


Scientism is obviously false and incoherent and I don't think even the atheists here subscribe to it. But occasionalism is a different story and one I don't think has received enough attention wrt to this sort of rhetoric. Why think that because we discover how something works, this obviates God, or pushes God back, etc etc?

What is the presumption involved in supposing that if God exists, only God really does anything?

5
Choose Your Own Topic / Is taxation theft? I believe so, change my mind.
« on: September 24, 2019, 01:26:00 am »
I believe that the government or the state taking a portion of a persons income and reappropriating it for other ends, without the explicit consent of that person, is textbook theft.


I understand there are arguments against taxation being theft, but I don't find these convincing: E.g The government pays us back with goods and services, or we have already consumed the governments services by virtue of using roads, hospitals, emergency services etc.

However, I am open to having my mind changed. What are the best arguments in favour of taxation not being institutionalized theft?

6
Choose Your Own Topic / Philosophy makes progress (4 examples)
« on: July 29, 2019, 08:53:27 am »
 I hear often the philosophy is useless and makes no progress or discoveries. What better way to refute this proposition than 4 solid examples to the contrary. Philosophy makes progress and discoveries, and here are 4 of my choice examples:

1)The refutation of positivism.

2)The refutation of scientism.

3)The demise of Cartesianism in philosophy of mind.

4)The discovery of a posteriori necessities.


Any others?

7
Mathematician 1: The Indispensability Argument for Mathematical Objects is a good argument for realism concerning mathematical objects

Mathematician 2: Realism of the Gaps! OMG!

Mathematician 1: The universal applicability and unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics is a good argument for realism concerning mathematical objects.

Mathematician 2: Realism of the Gaps! OMG!

Mathematician 1: The reality of formal causation and how it works vis a viz mental causation is a good argument for realism concerning mathematical objects.

Mathematician 2: Realism of the Gaps! OMG!.





You get the point. But, what is wrong with this discussion? Something is wrong here. I would, I hope, have demonstrated that if we situate '....of the gaps' type criticisms away from their rhetorical window dressing with a form of scientism, something very lazy, incompetent and uncharitable emerges from debating in this fashion.

8
Take, as a standard example, a prototypical "scientific" comment on God's existence such as the following from Stephen Hawking:

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” the book states. “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

In discussing the book, he told ABC News: “One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist. But science makes God unnecessary. … The laws of physics can explain the universe without the need for a creator. "


I do understand that there are obviously scientists who comment with more nuance and perspicacity than this, but I take the statement to a fairly faithful digest of what pop-culture takes to be a definitive 'what science says about God'.



Opposed to this, I am going to put forth a proposition in stark contrast to the above. What a scientist says about God, assuming he comments in his capacity as a scientist, is utterly irrelevant.

We need only pay heed to the scientist talking about God when he comments in the capacity of a philosopher or theologian, since a statement about God is ultimately a theological statement. And, as history will tend to demonstrate, the scientists comments in this regard tend to be naive, ignorant, passe, cliched and easily refutable.

So, ultimately, is a "scientist" a faux-authority when it comes to commenting on  God's existence?

9
Popular discourse usually views atheism as being a "success" on grounds of it merely being a lack of belief, not making any claims and resting content with the non-demonstrability of theism. Or, alternatively, atheism is deemed the most plausible position in terms of argumentation via the Big 2:

1. Problem of Evil

2.Divine Hiddeness


Upon studying classical theism, however, I find modern atheology to be quite powerless against classical metaphysics. For I don't think either argument does much against classical notions of Being, or the transcendentals, or the five ways. There is an analytic assumption of God in play, and given this, I think demands for 'evidence' and atheological arguments, will never really dent the edifice of theism.


So, in this thread I will make a different (although not entirely unprecedented move in the history of thought) recommendation. Atheism, to be a successful philosophy, must adequately think through a metaphysics of groundlessness. Atheist metaphysicians must be able to purge all discourse of any talk of a 'ground' or a foundation, or source of Being, and recast nature and Existence is not dependent on anything in particular but entirely co-arising, co-dependent and co-relational where the existence of anything implicates the existence of everything else; but crucially, There is nothing that Grounds or Sources, there is no thing foundational and everything is ephemeral and processual.
.
To that end, my recommendation is that successful atheism will, interestingly, evolve into something profoundly non-Western.

Thoughts?

10
Choose Your Own Topic / Atheism and Thomistic Esse
« on: May 27, 2019, 07:15:03 am »
In my time, the amount of atheists I've encountered who know about Thomistic esse I could count on one hand. Even less who have gotten a grasp of it.


Esse= Not a thing, a substance, entity, or creature but the act of existing itself, that by virtue of which there is thing-ing, entity-ing at all. Hence, Existence is no thing but []verb[/I].

Given this, Esse as not a thing, concept, substance or entity and assuming a sufficient understanding of the 'notion' (since I hesitate to call esse a concept since it isn't}, propositions that seem to form the bulwark of modern atheism, such as the following, become bunk:

1)There is no evidence for God's existing.

2)God did it has never been the explanation for anything.

3)The God hypothesis has no explanatory power.

4)Atheism is justified because God is hidden.

5)Science!


Such notions, once esse is understood, cannot be phrased intelligently upon this way of intuiting the world. So it leads me to ask: Why don't more atheists make a conscientious effort to understand the classical doctrine of God? Is it too esoteric? is too far removed from contemporary interests in philosophy of religion? Is it too mystical an idea to actually connect with anything that makes religion a publicly interesting topic of discussion?

11
Following on my earlier thread:


Everything I've been reading lately suggests that modern understandings of 'matter' refer to nothing like dead, dumb, meaningless particulate "stuff" but rather in the age of scientific metaphysics, matter denotes something more like a processual-relational field of agency, meaning, mentality with no clear discernible boundary between classical dichotomies.


Implications for cosmology and Kalam: The Big Bang, or creation event, is not the creatio ex nihilo of mere matter which cobbles together into living systems and minds.


Rather, the Big Bang is something more akin to the novel creation of meaning, not the naive laypersons idea of an "explosion of stuff" and the history of the universe is more like an "unfolding" of processes of meaning-bearing fields of agency as opposed to the pop-sci idea of a bunch of matter cobbling together into life and mind and animals etc.

Thoughts?

12
Choose Your Own Topic / Is there dead, dumb, meaningless matter?
« on: May 20, 2019, 07:44:30 am »
As part of my academic work lately I have encountered a slew of modern and new materialisms, ironically enough called "New Materialism" for which I am exploring the harmonization between these theories and enactive and embodied forms of cognition and consciousness.

Interestingly, most modern "materialists" these days depict 'matter' as essentially nothing whatsoever like the everymans notion of matter. Rather, the theory of nature that tends to emerge even amongst the most dyed-in-the-wool, anti-religious thinkers is one where mind, matter, meaning and life are somehow indissolubly intertwined in processual-relational fields which bear agency as part of their interactive dynamics.

So, as a question of personal interest, can anyone produce evidence that there is still a materialist who actually propounds the IMO simple and silly idea that nature is dead, dumb, meaningless particles which somehow, inexplicably, cobble together into minds? Because it seems like one of the linchpins of secularity, and the supposed corollary that human life is epiphenomenally dead, dumb and meaningless, finds no actual support even amongst todays proud and openly atheistic metaphysicians and philosophers.

As a top of my head canvassing of the worlds great thinkers, I find the idea seeming to germinate with Democritus' 'atoms and the void', appearing again as a bifurcation, not ground, of nature with Descartes and Locke et al, and perhaps toyed with by some existentialists (although to me their forays into metaphysics were far more nuanced and interesting than this).

Thoughts? Is there a thinker or theory I have missed, either ancient or modern? If you are an atheist, what do you think has become of 'matter'? Does it no longer matter?

13
Choose Your Own Topic / A "new" argument for God?
« on: March 05, 2019, 07:54:01 am »
We're all familiar with the classical arguments; cosmological, ontological, design, moral etc. They've been in the arena for years with fascinating discussion on both sides.


But I often wonder if there is any point in the future where discussion on these arguments will stagnate, because all possible avenues of debate and objection have been exhausted or there is nothing further one could say to evidence the premises. I personally the KCA is as indestructible as ever and no further evidence will be forthcoming, or even necessary.


To that end, lets envision a hypothetical and get our creative juices flowing. What would an entirely new argument for God look like? Let's not worry about the soundness of such an argument yet, just the creation of a novel intellectual avenue.

What phenomena, or discipline, would you like to see being used in novel discussion and argumentation about God? (One condition: cannot simply be a riff on the cosmo/onto/moral/design)

15
Here is a good essay which may shed light on the recent threads on the controversy as to how God can remain changeless whilst creation changes.


The key to understanding is to analyse the Thomistic treatment of time and how it compares to the A and B theories, and as the essay argues, are not to be conflated. What eventuates with Thomas and other like minded thinkers is an approach to time which does not graft on easily to modern dichotomies.

Minor Edit: Take your time with this article, there is quite a bit of nuance and metaphysical technicality here, but well worth the investment.

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