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1
Apologetics and Theology / Question for theists:
« on: June 29, 2016, 01:41:20 am »
The question is pretty simple.  The standard cosmological model (or "big bang" model, or somewhat more technically, the Lambda Cold-Dark-Matter) is a common feature in modern apologetics, from Craig's defense of the KCA to arguments from fine tuning. 

What I would like to know, though, is how much it actually matters to theists: how many of you would find yourselves less confident in the truth of theism if the LCDM model were falsified?

3
Apologetics and Theology / Why does anyone still take WLC seriously?
« on: June 21, 2016, 11:22:28 pm »
One would think that a rudimentary grasp of deductive logic would be...let's call it a minimal requirement for taking an allegedly professional philosopher seriously.

Yet, as we have seen, Craig in fact *lacks* this seemingly necessary trait.  For pretty much his entire career, he has approached his philosophical endeavor while laboring under the delusion that deduction is plausibility preserving, when any number of trivial thought experiments prove otherwise.  Even now, having finally been persuaded to admit his previous error by McGrew, Craig still seems to be making no effort to rectify the colossal mistake that plagues virtually all of his previous work. 

This seems, on its own, more than sufficient reason to conclude that he is not a competent philosopher.  If you don't understand deduction--as Craig obviously did not, and pretty plainly still does not--you simply don't qualify as someone to take seriously. 



At the request of Grosso, a more robust examination of the issue:

From "The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God," by William Craig (2010)

"Perhaps we should say that for an argument to be a good one the premises need to be probably true in light of the evidence. I think that’s fair, though sometimes probabilities are difficult to quantify. Another way of putting this is that a good argument is a sound argument in which the premises are more plausible in light of the evidence than their opposites. You should compare the premise and its negation and believe whichever one is more plausibly true in light of the evidence. A good argument will be a sound argument whose premises are more plausible than their negations."

Here, Craig lays out the criteria for what he considers to be a good argument.  Note that he uses plausibility and probability almost interchangeably, acknowledging their effective equivalency, as far as his criteria here are concerned. 

When discussing his Leibnizian Argument from Contingency, he writes:

"So long as we grant the three premises, we have to accept the conclusion. So the question is this: Which is more plausible—that those premises are true or that they are false?"

While, from the description of "good" arguments alone, it may not be clear how much force Craig thinks that Good arguments have, he makes it quite a bit more clear here.  We *have* to accept the conclusion, he says.  He does not ask you simply to consider the plausibility and decide whether it is a "good" argument with some unspecified force, he directly ties the plausibility of the premises to an *obligation* to accept the conclusion.

And he is consistent in this trend--in his conclusion, he says:

"These are, I believe, good arguments for God’s existence. That is to say, they are logically valid; their premises are true; and their premises are more plausible in light of the evidence than their negations. Therefore, insofar as we are rational people, we should embrace their conclusions."

This is very specific.  The criteria he has set out for good arguments is tied explicitly to the claim that rational people *should* embrace the conclusion of arguments which meet them.  Does Craig think that we should accept conclusions even if they are less plausible than their negations?  Well, this would contradict his stance on accepting premises, so one must assume not.

By representing his position, then, in the way that I have, as stating that if each premise of a valid, deductive argument is more plausible than its negation, the conclusion must be as well, I am representing his position quite fairly. 

And, of course, Craig has affirmed this representation in retrospect in his Q and A response entitled "Deductive Arguments and Probability," wherein he writes:

"As you note, I have long said that in order for a valid deductive argument to be a good one, it suffices that each individual premise of the argument be more probable (or plausible) than its contradictory. It seemed to me that if you think that each premise of the argument is true and the premises imply the conclusion, then you ought to think that the conclusion is true!"


Now.  This article is quite recent, and it does signal a change in Dr. Craig's stance on this position.  However, it is beyond question, at this point, that my representation of Craig's past view is essentially accurate.

Moreover, it is beyond question that Craig's past view is flatly wrong.  I have proven it deductively above.  McGrew and DePoe proved it deductively in their paper entitled "Natural Theology and the Uses of Argument."  Craig has acknowledge this proof explicitly. 

So, the question, then.  Does this longstanding error on Craig's part signal a lack of competence?

Well, I reiterate the argument to that effect which I presented previously:

1.) A competent understanding of deductive logic is a necessary criterion for being considered a competent philosopher.

2.) A person who thinks that deductive logic is plausibility preserving--a person who affirms the PPC--does not have a competent understanding of deductive logic.

3.) Craig did affirm the PPC.

4.) Therefore, Craig was not a competent philosopher.

My wording here is somewhat plain language, rather than laden down with the strictures of formal syntax, but the validity of this reasoning is inescapable.  Moreover, none of the premises seem contentious at all.  Reasoning lies at the heart of all philosophy, and deductive reasoning is perhaps the most basic reasoning.  The connection it has to functional epistemology is a critical element in essentially every philosophical endeavor, and yet Craig's mistake, here, lies right at the crux of that connection.  Very nearly every philosophical argument in his corpus holds at its heart this basic mistake of assuming that deductive reasoning has this epistemic force or consequence which any competent logician can tell you immediately it does not.

Craig committed, over and over again, a rudimentary error which cannot help but infect his philosophy at the very foundation--because it was, indeed, an error about the very foundations of the search for truth. 

It is worse, though, even than that.  This was not a one-time mistake.  It wasn't an oversight or accident.  This is an error on which Craig has been called out, time and time again, over the course of (at least) several years.  We might forgive his silly mistake if, upon having it pointed out to him, he had a brief chuckle and corrected course, but instead we saw the opposite.  This wasn't just an error, it was an error to which Craig was deeply committed, and he defended it aggressively--often viciously--when he was criticized for it.

It's as though a prospector showed up and tried to sell you a handful of gold chunks. 

These are all gold! He tells you.  You can tell because they're all shiny!

Well, you point out, some shiny things are not gold.

No, he says, you idiot.  All shiny things are gold.  Don't you know anything about shiny stuff?

Well, a bunch of other people come in and tell him that, in fact, not all shiny things are gold, and he dismisses or mocks or ignores each one. 

Finally, someone convinces him to grudgingly admit that not all shiny things are gold, but he immediate turns around and says, yeah, well, so not all shiny things are gold, but these are still all gold!

Is this a competent prospector?  No.  Not even remotely. 

Yet Craig's error is almost perfectly analogous.

That Craig has been, up until very recently, an incompetent philosopher seems beyond question at this point.

That said, I will give Craig some credit for (finally) acknowledging his deeply concerning error and making some effort to rectify his thinking.  I don't know to what extent he has internalized the message (the indications I see from his recent article do not give me much hope, honestly) but I will acknowledge that he at least now appears to be working towards competency. 

I will also acknowledge that I myself may not be a competent philosopher.  There may be some critical, core element of philosophy where I am laboring under a similarly critical delusion (though I cannot think of what it would be). 

However, I do maintain that my criticism of Craig here is fair. 

He did indeed not only espouse by rely on and viciously defend the position I have ascribed to him.

That position is indeed a critical error, lying right at the heart of what is required to be a competent philosopher. 

I do not think Dr. William Lane Craig qualifies as an authority on philosophy, and I think that I have more than sufficient grounds here to warrant that determination.  I do not take him seriously.  I do not consider him someone who needs to be taken seriously, and I will not acquiesce to the demand that he be taken seriously.  He has forfeited any right he might have had to ask to be taken any more seriously than any of the internet philosophers he routinely lambasts as laymen. 


4
The classical theistic conceptualization of God includes that God is "omnibenevolent" or "morally perfect."  Commonly, God's nature is represented as the essence or standard of objective morality.  It does not seem like a stretch at all, then, to say that "if God exists, objective moral values and duties exist."  The objectivity of morality is a key component in the way that God is conceptualized. 

This is the question in the poll, then.  Is the proposition, "If God exists, objective moral values and duties exist," true?

Answer for whatever you take to be the typical conceptualization of God under theism. 


5
Let:
A be the proposition "The universe began to exist,"
B be the proposition, "the universe has a cause," and
C be the proposition, "the cause of the universe is God."

Craig's contemporary formulation of the KCA, then, can be written as:

1.) A => B
2.) B => C
3.) A
4.) Therefore C

The argument is a valid hypothetical syllogism, as the form above illustrates, so the probability that it is sound is simply the probability that each of its three premises are true, in other words:

P(1, 2, 3)

By observing the following truth table:

A B C 1 2 probability
T T T T T a
T T F T F b
T F T F T c
T F F F T d
F T T T T e
F T F T F f
F F T T T g
F F F T T h

We can see that:

P(1) = 1 - c - d
P(2) = 1 - b - f
P(3) = 1 - e - f - g - h
P(1, 2, 3) = a

And, therefore, that:

P(1, 2, 3) = P(1) + P(2) + P(3) - 2 + P(~A, B, ~C)

So.

For those of you who wish to maintain that the KCA is sound, what probablilities would you assign to each of the premises in the KCA, and how would you justify those probabilities?  In addition, what probability would you assign to the case in which "The universe did not begin to exist, the universe has a cause, and that cause is not God."

Let's see if anyone can actually fill Craig's shoes and defend the claim that the KCA is sound.



6
Apologetics and Theology / Who is responsible for this?
« on: May 26, 2016, 01:45:58 pm »
I just generated the following 249 poker hands.

The probability of generating this specific set of poker hands is approximately 10^(-2115).

You are 10^147 times more likely to draw 249 royal flushes in a row!

Now. 

My set of poker hands is due either to design, necessity, or chance.

It is not due to necessity, and it obviously isn't due to chance, because the probability of it occurring by chance is thousands of orders of magnitude smaller than the probability that fine tuning is due to chance.

Therefore, it is due to design.

Who designed my set of poker hands?

Or, perhaps, is the basic logic of the FTA just nonsense after all?



40   8   40   9   12   30   8   7   51   52
30   16   33   23   39   26   44   41   14   4
35   42   16   27   35   18   5   8   3   12
28   49   25   33   19   11   15   34   8   41
43   16   6   29   36   15   34   44   42   21
43   6   37   8   8   11   3   41   14   14
21   24   42   44   19   36   51   34   21   21
8   24   12   31   15   29   15   42   24   2
49   18   4   18   9   10   22   52   35   6
1   11   30   48   7   17   28   19   38   28
32   39   14   29   34   21   35   40   10   30
45   46   44   22   29   41   30   15   28   28
38   38   21   8   9   20   36   46   35   41
44   1   17   9   20   8   3   15   27   13
6   16   32   1   29   14   51   14   15   39
22   45   3   40   34   21   43   18   18   9
11   34   24   24   38   44   16   17   52   21
14   48   34   36   51   46   33   36   51   6
31   14   34   39   35   46   11   20   6   37
1   25   39   29   31   48   6   1   23   37
6   2   11   1   22   29   25   50   19   5
46   37   44   31   48   28   47   19   27   28
16   52   52   43   30   51   1   51   37   12
34   13   17   17   8   1   8   14   40   22
16   33   18   52   43   38   37   1   26   51
13   42   16   19   38   38   5   14   44   16
26   13   17   17   46   51   22   29   28   11
37   52   17   25   34   48   12   46   31   6
30   35   5   51   32   36   39   12   7   17
7   45   45   38   1   48   49   12   48   44
49   12   19   2   25   52   26   3   3   39
32   5   39   44   45   3   34   2   6   40
21   46   46   41   8   40   43   22   13   7
28   29   22   21   44   49   28   46   40   51
42   31   48   8   17   6   8   15   22   12
6   34   32   5   36   34   51   47   28   7
26   29   6   34   50   28   45   34   27   30
26   41   29   30   39   25   3   42   1   24
8   36   46   40   10   2   18   50   43   39
10   37   51   3   12   7   45   12   47   31
15   8   24   8   46   16   35   17   14   38
12   14   7   22   45   2   21   45   52   21
49   23   3   30   16   49   6   28   17   14
33   38   14   6   18   14   48   42   52   19
22   14   4   50   3   38   13   41   30   9
42   2   5   38   15   5   20   10   39   15
14   47   23   45   52   49   50   32   28   18
51   3   28   12   21   8   29   47   49   51
37   31   47   38   5   20   25   2   14   18
11   27   51   7   50   39   26   32   46   10
39   15   9   14   41   49   43   38   22   21
48   39   51   28   32   23   12   51   31   21
12   38   4   49   37   45   12   17   9   51
41   5   20   43   35   29   11   43   51   38
38   8   6   45   48   34   1   27   10   15
15   51   22   4   10   30   3   11   13   35
28   39   26   23   51   29   33   6   26   35
1   40   38   5   7   9   46   9   21   17
50   42   49   46   31   39   5   39   41   16
22   12   8   24   39   49   16   33   8   4
29   14   21   36   19   25   10   24   23   34
32   25   21   49   28   16   21   47   25   22
16   18   34   6   10   16   49   13   20   39
36   50   36   27   21   5   49   47   29   28
33   26   46   19   12   17   15   1   32   17
30   13   6   45   31   35   29   37   19   9
27   26   47   46   1   24   7   18   14   20
11   42   37   42   44   37   50   2   8   42
4   23   11   35   38   9   46   20   52   37
31   16   24   36   51   19   11   42   52   1
9   38   22   37   34   52   26   35   17   21
51   38   19   28   21   41   14   36   5   6
25   21   22   7   42   4   44   5   48   26
7   42   32   11   29   47   29   2   35   30
16   3   12   5   16   45   51   23   41   40
2   6   52   5   4   50   14   44   17   5
7   42   38   8   27   21   6   34   24   7
27   30   22   52   26   31   10   37   16   24
37   44   7   16   41   14   16   7   45   41
15   37   15   30   27   30   44   1   28   32
35   9   34   12   11   31   12   47   31   27
32   7   35   7   2   33   31   34   45   27
10   16   11   1   6   38   41   3   10   9
22   11   40   13   22   21   34   43   45   17
24   25   31   21   28   42   14   46   16   3
6   42   25   35   9   32   50   6   49   33
40   4   4   46   16   19   23   14   7   28
12   16   25   9   41   49   20   24   27   2
26   36   48   25   50   49   18   28   26   5
39   26   52   7   14   48   27   29   21   15
51   16   17   4   18   49   27   12   24   38
8   35   43   7   37   45   16   34   22   24
3   28   27   15   18   46   48   49   51   5
30   11   6   30   9   5   33   15   39   36
25   47   51   12   12   25   40   23   44   4
52   14   45   29   46   35   51   21   27   51
19   20   52   38   22   7   5   49   22   12
46   30   5   21   25   37   41   14   15   48
6   43   47   13   41   37   34   30   38   9
23   21   43   4   43   9   23   49   15   12
43   41   33   11   13   42   4   33   15   20
17   26   38   9   10   43   31   45   23   40
47   19   15   51   32   18   13   8   26   21
20   46   18   6   51   19   33   36   37   48
45   26   19   6   27   48   20   6   42   3
3   47   43   27   18   32   30   5   43   8
38   38   18   47   5   33   16   11   12   17
34   7   21   52   44   10   2   33   14   17
45   42   36   42   7   4   2   4   51   51
9   4   11   11   35   29   8   15   14   27
6   46   43   19   51   51   29   6   3   41
41   36   16   8   2   19   30   50   34   46
37   37   26   3   30   4   37   4   15   28
17   3   27   48   44   38   47   48   42   13
35   25   28   18   5   4   5   46   39   25
11   1   6   51   28   12   16   31   18   27
14   18   44   46   21   12   50   8   32   32
7   1   15   26   17   29   23   45   11   30
3   43   50   39   27   38   30   45   36   8
9   15   47   12   37   9   11   38   43   27
35   8   44   41   47   41   44   37   1   25
28   3   21   43   32   45   34   49   35   20
2   5   9   50   50   3   44   42   12   15
36   49   1   37   35   2   13   14   52   43
13   6      37    15   43

7
Apologetics and Theology / The moral argument against God.
« on: May 22, 2016, 02:28:31 pm »
1.) If God exists, an objective moral standard exists.
2.) No objective moral standard exists.
C.) Therefore, God does not exist.

Premise 1 follows trivially from the definition of God.  God is held to be morally perfect, or to define the standard of objective goodness by his very nature.  If no objective standard of goodness existed, God's  nature would not exist, and hence neither would God.  I do not expect this premise to be controversial.

Premise 2 is intuitively obvious.  We have non-inferential justification for accepting premise two as a result of our own introspection into our moral experiences.  Our belief that no objective moral standard exists resides in an epistemic situation no different from our other philosophical beliefs, and so the burden rests on the moral realist to produce a positive argument against this belief.


Now.  In seriousness.

I know a lot of you will disagree with p2.  Your intuition may lead you in a different direction.  That's  fine.

What we must admit, though the moral subjectivist is quite justified in concluding that God does not exist.  In fact, since the first premise of this argument is analytically true, while he first premise of the moral argument *for* God is not (and is, in fact, highly contentious), one must admit that this is a much *stronger* argument for the intuitively justified moral anti-realist than the moral argument is for the intuitively justified moral realist.

In fact, to evade he conclusion that belief in the non-existence of God is justified for the intuitive moral anti-realist, one must either produce a positive argument against moral anti-realism--one that goes well beyond a simple appeal to one's  own moral intuition--or admit that one's own intuition regarding the ontology of morality does not constitute a sufficient justification for beliefs about moral ontology.



8
Apologetics and Theology / What does it mean to be infinite?
« on: May 19, 2016, 02:55:18 pm »
Poll time!

9
I saw someone claim that the number of objects in the the universe must be finite.

I asked him for a proof of this claim, and he immediately began viciously insulting me.  I have no idea why.

What do you guys think?  Is the set of all objects in the universe finite?  Countable?  Uncountable?  If you think you know the answer, can you prove it?

10
Apologetics and Theology / The universe is necessary.
« on: May 13, 2016, 09:47:00 am »
Let U be the priposition that the universe exists necessarily.

1.) U is possibly true.
2.) If U is possibly true, U is necessarily true (by s5)
3.) If U is necessarily true, U is true.
C.) The universe exists necessarily.

Defense of 1

U is coherent.  As many people have demanded recently, this allegedly provides evidence that U is possible.


11
Let F be the set of facts which specify the physical laws and constants of the universe.

Let D be the hypothesis that the physical laws and constants of the universe are the product of design by an unspecified designer.

Let N be the hypothesis that the physical laws and constants are what they are.  (As a matter of necessity or brute fact--your choice.  It doesn't make any difference as far as the rest of the argument is concerned.)

Let M be the hypothesis that all possible combinations of physical laws and constants are instantiated in reality.

P(F|M) = 1

P(F|N) = 1

P(F|D) < 1

Indeed, P(F|D) is approximately zero, precisely because, lacking any specification regarding our designer, this hypothesis does not narrow the space of possible physics and constants at all.  All are potentially goals of an unspecified designer.

The unspecified designer hypothesis fails trivially to compete with M or N

Let D' be the hypothesis "the physical laws and constants of fine tuning are the product of design by a designer who wanted those constants and laws to be precisely what they are."

By narrowing down our designer's motivations, we can say that:

1> P(F|D') > P(F|D)

P(F|D') is still less than one, since there is some space covered bgbthe outcomes where our designer fails to get what it wants.

So, let D'' be the hypothesis "The physical laws and constants of the universe are the product of design by an infallible designer who wanted those laws and constants to be precisely what they are and had no conflicting restraints, desires, or other considerations."

Finally, we can say that

P(F|D'') = 1

Now, we have three hypotheses that all offer the same likelihood for F.  How to decide between them?  Simply, simplicity. Or, Rather, complexity.  We want to look at the descriptive complexity of each hypothesis.

Trivially, the descriptive complexity of N is lower than the descriptivr complexity of D'', as D'' specifies everything that is specified in N and more besides.

Hence, P(D''|F) < P(N|F)

I claim that the complexity of M is lower than that of N, since N specifies only a range between simple values rather than a specific, set of of highly complex values, but I'll let you guy work on that one for yourselves.

At the very least, we see that the so-called fine-tuning facts constitute a strong argument against design.


12
Exactly as stated: if you are a theist, I would like to know what sorts of expectations you have regarding how God will behave in the future.

13
Given a subject, S and the set of S's observations, O:= {o1, o2, ..., on}

For each oi, it is epistemically possible that that oi is an observation of an instance of unjustifiable evil (UE)--evil for which there is no sufficient moral justification. (And it is epistemically possible that it is not)

Call "ui" the event in which observation oi is an an observation of an instance of unjustifiable evil, then 1 > p(ui) > 0

Similarly, call "vi" the event in which observation oi is not an observation of unjustifiable evil, then 0 > p(vi) = 1 - p(ui) < 1.

If there are any instances of unjustifiable evil, theism is false.

Hence, the joint probability of the vi, p(v1 n v2 n ... n vn) = F constitutes an upper bound for the probability for S that theism is true.

Since p(A n B) is always less than or equal to p(A) and less than or equal to p(B), F decreases monotonically as |O| increases.  As the number of observations S has made increases, this upper bound on the probability of theism generally decreases, and never increases.

In fact, the only case in which an observation, oi, does *not* decrease F is the case in which p(vi|v1, ..., v(i-1), v(I+1), ..., vn) = 1

All other oi decrease F.  (And, in practice, this will cover most if not all of the oi)*

In conclusion:

Each subject S has an upper bound for the probability of theism, F, such that no observations S makes can increase F and most if not all observations S makes decrease F.  In short, most observations are evidence against theism.

* in fact, though it is worth spelling out the exception conditions I am pretty confident that they can never be met.

14
Apologetics and Theology / Probability Game 3
« on: April 29, 2016, 08:19:13 am »
Again, I appreciate all of the responses to my last thread on this topic.  In general, it seems that people agree that the question in Probability Game 2 cannot be answered (though it was suggested that a Bayesian approach might yield something useful, and I would be interested in seeing that idea developed, still).

With that in mind, here's question three:

Imagine you are in a universe and you observe something beginning to exist, and you observe that it was caused to do so.

You continue observing things coming into existence, and, each time the thing in question is caused to do so.  Assuming that everything that you observe coming into existence you also observe being caused to do so, how many such observations do you need to make before you can conclude with 95% confidence that everything that begins to exist has a cause?

Bonus question: at n observations, what is the probability that everything that begins to exist has a cause, in terms of n?

Bonus question 2: how would you test the hypothesis that everything that begins to exist has a cause under a Bayesian framework (as opposed to the frequentist framework presented above?)

15
Apologetics and Theology / Probability game 2
« on: April 27, 2016, 07:58:39 am »
Thanks to everyone who pitched in on my last probability game thread!  The discussion was pretty good, and it seemed like several people understood the methodology involved in that inference quite well.  Well enough that I feel comfortable asking this question, which is in the same vein, but quite a bit trickier:

Imagine you are at the top of a vast, dark pit, whose size you cannot determine.  You reach into the pit and pull out...a white ball!  Huh.

You reach in and pull out another white ball, and then another. And then another.

Given that you don't have any idea how many balls are in the pit, how many white balls would you have to pull out of the pit (again, obviously, under the assumption that you do not pull out any non-white balls) before you can conclude with 95% confidence that all the balls in the pit are white?


As a bonus, at n white balls, what is the probability (in terms of n) that all the balls in the pit are white?

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