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Craig vs Krauss

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Jason Dulle

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Can Philosophy Count as Evidence?
« on: April 13, 2011, 02:13:24 pm »

I noticed that Krauss was quite clear in the debate regarding his disdain of philosophy. While he said he does not subscribe to scientism because he believes we can have knowledge outside of what science can tell us, he did make it clear that he does not think philosophical arguments can ever serve as evidence. It seemed clear that he required empirical evidence.  But as Greg Koukl likes to say, that’s like trying to weigh a chicken with a yardstick. It’s the wrong tool for the job.  Philosophy is the academic discipline best equipped to provide evidence for or against the existence of an immaterial entity.

I’m hearing more and more people respond as Krauss did these days.  How would you rebut it?  How would you demonstrate that philosophical arguments and conclusions do serve as evidence in debate (particularly regarding the existence of God)?  How would you go about showing that philosophy is indispensable to the task of discovering the truth?  


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wes

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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2011, 11:18:41 pm »
Hey Jason,

Well, first I'd like to say that I agree with you that such reasoning is certainly becoming more prevalent among college students, as well as college professors.

I recently spoke with a atheist student at MNU here in the Johnson County Kansas area who denied that logic could be used in relation to the universe, because the universe "doesn't care" about human logic. Dr. Krauss's reasoning seemed to be along the same lines. Many times, these arguments also come with the example of quantam mechanics, which seem to break the law of contradiction.

But these attempts at undermining philosophy, and logic are futile, and in fact self-refuting. One only needs to point out, that to deny logic, one must utter a statement in logical form to deny it; and thus uses logic, to deny the validity of logic. Such a tactic is clearly self-defeating.

The same holds true for all aspects of philosophy. Many believe that philosophy is some other form of the sciences that can not be trusted, and is obscure in nature. But again, such people are simply confused. The truth of the matter, is that science, history, medicine, and any and all other bodies of knowledge presuppose the foundations of philosophy and as such rely on philosophical predispositions in order to do their research. A scientist cannot form an hypothesis, without presupposing logic. A mathematician cannot do algebraic equations without assuming that numbers accurately corollate to reality. An archeologist cannot make reasonable judgements about a particular societies ancient culture without assuming the basic functionality of his rational capabilities.

So what I am trying to say, is that Krauss's statement that "philosophical argument" cannot provide reliable evidence, is simply silly. Krauss cannot even determine if his so called "evidence" within science is reliable, without first assuming several philosophical predispositions. Such as; A.) His mental faculties are functioning properly (how does he know they are?) B.) That his physical faculties (5 senses) can be trusted to portray an accurate depiction of reality. C.) That his physical faculties are properly interacting with his mental faculties. D.) That logic is to be retained over illogic, that mathematical equations accurately correlate to reality, E.) That the reality he perceives, is the actual reality and not a fictional reality.

So as you can see, philosophy is what underpins all other bodies of knowledge. Which is why there is such a wide scope of disciplines in philosophy. Krauss is simply ignorant to the point, and is completely oblivious to the fact that while attacking philosophical argument, he actually confirms its necessity by assuming prior philosophical predispositions in order to argue in the way that he does.

Without first assuming certain philosophical truths, one would be left to utter skepticism in all aspects of life.



Wes



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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2011, 01:16:38 pm »

Wes,

 

I agree.  Philosophy underpins everything.  It’s like the glasses on our nose through which we see the world.  People like Krauss are so used to them that he doesn’t even realize they are there.

 

But how would you show that philosophical arguments count as evidence?  I would do so by presenting a scenario that requires philosophy.  For example, if someone tells you, “I have a square circle in my glove box.  Do you want to see it?”, you don’t have to walk to their car to inspect the contents of their glove box (empirical evidence) in order to conclude that they are lying.  You know they are lying because the concept of a square circle is contradictory and incoherent.  In this case, the law of non-contradiction served as evidence to settle the debate, wholly apart from empirical evidence.  

 

I would also point out that philosophy is required to turn empirical facts into actual empirical evidence.  Facts do not come with their interpretations.  They provide the raw data necessary to draw conclusions, but the conclusions themselves can only be made via the use of philosophical reasoning.  For example, we observe stellar redshifts in the universe.  In itself, this is just a bare empirical fact.  But as we apply philosophical reasoning to this fact (reasoning that if objects are consistently moving away from each other, they must have been closer together in the past), suddenly it is transformed into empirical evidence for the conclusion that the universe was smaller in the past.

 

Here’s the point: If philosophical reasoning is what “transforms” empirical facts into actual empirical evidence, then philosophical reasoning is the “evidence-maker.”  If philosophical reasoning is necessary to generate evidence for any conclusion, then surely philosophical reasoning itself can serve as evidence.  I’m having a hard time articulating this, so hopefully it makes sense.


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wes

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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2011, 02:42:34 pm »
I think were just agreeing at this point.

The sad thing is that, philosophical rigor has gone out the window in favor of scientific elitism. The problem is the 2 fields work together, and what's more is that philosophy does not depend on science, but science depends on philosophy.

But good luck finding this on youtube, most responses include, "You know I just think philosophy is a bunch of garbage" (while uttering a statement in logical form), and I don't believe that philosophy can count as evidence, (while interperting the evidence with philosophical presuppositions.)

The current neo-atheistic community is simply ignorant. It's hard to find any that really challenge your thinking.




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Alexander

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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2011, 02:01:19 am »
There is no such thing as philosophy-free science, however, philosophical arguments do not prove anything and it is a slippery slope to say that they are 'evidence.' Krauss made a good point in pointing out that Craig's arguments are indeed not scientific arguments and do not prove anything. Craig already knew this of course, but he often presents the Kalam Cosmological Argument as a quasi-scientific argument. This is one of the reasons it is not taken seriously by physicists.

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2011, 02:38:13 am »
If I was giving you directions to my house, and I said, "Make a left on Main St, and then a right left on Pine," and you objected that this cannot be right, what would you appeal to as evidence?  Surely it would be philosophical in nature, not empirical.  The fact of the matter is that philosophy does serve as evidence for topics within its purview, just as science serves as evidence for topics within its purview.  What I think people fail to grasp is that science and philosophy are different tools that help us discover different truths in different ways (although they do overlap).

Craig does not present the KCA as a scientific argument.  It is a philosophical argument.  What he does say is that scientific evidence supports one of the premises of the argument.


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Alexander

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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2011, 09:10:11 pm »
jasondulle wrote:
Craig does not present the KCA as a scientific argument.  It is a philosophical argument.  What he does say is that scientific evidence supports one of the premises of the argument.


The problem is that to the lay person watching the debate, they do not understand this distinction. Craig knows that the KCA is not a scientific theory, but to the average person it sounds like it is, and he presents it as if it is good evidence when at best it is just an argument for a hypothesis.

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2011, 01:02:41 pm »
Alexander,

Do you have a rebuttal to offer to my first paragraph, or would you agree that philosophical reasoning can serve as evidence?  

You may be right that the average person may not understand that, but the average does not do much thinking and has little training in logic and critical thinking, so this should not be surprising.  But the issue you raised was not how the argument may be perceived by lay observers, but how Craig presents the argument, and what the physicists understand Craig to mean.  So we both agree that Craig does not claim it is a scientific argument, nor present it as such.  That being the case, I think we can both agree that physicists should take the argument seriously since they, unlike the lay observer of these debates, should be intellectually savvy enough to understand the distinctions Craig is making.  

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brent arnesen

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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2011, 01:17:22 pm »
jasondulle wrote:

I noticed that Krauss was quite clear in the debate regarding his disdain of philosophy.


you guys keep repeating this.  You are insane if you think that was Krauss's point.

God is not maximally powerful if he lacks the ability to provide the proper evidence of His existence to me.  If I, a mere mortal, can overcome His desire to know me, then He is not God. God the Father? He's not apparent to me!

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Thinking

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« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2011, 01:39:55 pm »
I have a feeling Krauss's point was that if science and a philosophical position disagree, physical reality and science win out. I think we can agree reality wins out if our deepest philosophical conclusions are at odds with the world.
You're stupid if you can't learn, ignorant if you won't, called an idiot when you think you are by those who think they have, and dead before you do.

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brent arnesen

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« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2011, 01:51:24 pm »
Thinking wrote: I have a feeling Krauss's point was that if science and a philosophical position disagree, physical reality and science win out. I think we can agree reality wins out if our deepest philosophical conclusions are at odds with the world.


Yes, I would suspect that that is closer to his point than having "disdain for Philosophy".
God is not maximally powerful if he lacks the ability to provide the proper evidence of His existence to me.  If I, a mere mortal, can overcome His desire to know me, then He is not God. God the Father? He's not apparent to me!

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2011, 02:07:42 pm »
What value did Krauss assign to philosophy in the debate?  None.  Instead, he maligned Aristotelian logic.  And he didn't just say that empirical evidence trumps philosophical evidence.  He said philosophical reasoning does not count as evidence at all.  He spoke of philosophy as if it were mere speculation that should be taken with a grain of salt.  I would consider this a disdain of philosophy.  Someone who has respect for philosophy as a means of knowledge would not speak as Krauss did.

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Alexander

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« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2011, 10:34:55 pm »
jasondulle wrote: Alexander,

Do you have a rebuttal to offer to my first paragraph, or would you agree that philosophical reasoning can serve as evidence?  

You may be right that the average person may not understand that, but the average does not do much thinking and has little training in logic and critical thinking, so this should not be surprising.  But the issue you raised was not how the argument may be perceived by lay observers, but how Craig presents the argument, and what the physicists understand Craig to mean.  So we both agree that Craig does not claim it is a scientific argument, nor present it as such.  That being the case, I think we can both agree that physicists should take the argument seriously since they, unlike the lay observer of these debates, should be intellectually savvy enough to understand the distinctions Craig is making.  


I wasn't attempting to give a rebuttal, I was giving my opinion about how he presents the argument.

I don't think that Craig ever claims it to be a scientific theory, but I think he presents it as such, even if done unintentionally. Although I would find that unlikely since his presentations are extremely well thought out.

I don't know if I would say that physicists should take the argument seriously since it isn't a scientific argument and there really isn't much to work with. I would imagine that most physicists aren't going to do as well responding to philosophical arguments in a debate format due to the fact that these arguments can be thrown out in their day jobs. Philosophical arguments are great but they aren't the same thing as science and they aren't evidence.

I'm kinda jumping all over the place; my main point is that if the lay people of the audience understood that this is not a scientific argument and it is not taken seriously by the scientific community it would be less effective. It doesn't mean the argument is wrong, but it does mean that the argument doesn't prove anything and doesn't 'count' as evidence, which was the point of this thread.

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brent arnesen

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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2011, 09:07:23 am »
jasondulle wrote: What value did Krauss assign to philosophy in the debate?  None.  Instead, he maligned Aristotelian logic.  And he didn't just say that empirical evidence trumps philosophical evidence.  He said philosophical reasoning does not count as evidence at all.  He spoke of philosophy as if it were mere speculation that should be taken with a grain of salt.  I would consider this a disdain of philosophy.  Someone who has respect for philosophy as a means of knowledge would not speak as Krauss did.


Jason take a breather from your apologetics and watch the debate again.  You guys are constantly on the defense that you can never listen.

Meanwhile, Krauss maligned Aristotelian logic?  Oh no!  Because that's the only Logic we have!  Ph my God!  What will we do!??!  Help us Jesus!  Tell us what to think!
God is not maximally powerful if he lacks the ability to provide the proper evidence of His existence to me.  If I, a mere mortal, can overcome His desire to know me, then He is not God. God the Father? He's not apparent to me!

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Sandspirit

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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2011, 10:23:27 am »
So as you can see, philosophy is what underpins all other bodies of knowledge. Which is why there is such a wide scope of disciplines in philosophy. Krauss is simply ignorant to the point, and is completely oblivious to the fact that while attacking philosophical argument, he actually confirms its necessity by assuming prior philosophical predispositions in order to argue in the way that he does.


Perhaps, but do you understand the nature of the universe better than Krauss does? If you were sick would you look to philosophy or religion to prescribe a cure? Probably you would turn to medical science. Why in one case do you use science and in the other philosophy or religion?