Thought For the Day

A little point to ponder from Jason Lisle, a young-Earth creationist with Answers in Genesis. This is from his book The Ultimate Proof of Creation:

Laws of logic pose a very serious problem for the evolutionist. Almost all evolutionists know they should be logical, and yet they have no basis for las of logic within their own professed worldview. The problem is particularly embarrassing for the materialistic atheist. A materialistic atheist does not believe in anything beyond the physical universe. In his view, all that exists is matter in motion. But of course laws of logic are not matter; they are not part of the physical universe. Therefore, laws of logic cannot exist if materialism is true! Not only is the materialistic atheist unable to account for the existence of laws of logic, but they are actually contrary to his worldview. His worldview is necessarily irrational. (p. 55)

Discuss.

Comments

  1. #1 Dave v.
    March 10, 2010

    Great. Existentialism applied to ideas. But Lisle hasn’t demonstrated that ideas “exist” outside of a material being, or even really defined existence for ideas at all. Does an idea exist if it is lost to the knowledge of all people/beings/whatever? Does an idea exist if no one has thought of it yet?

    The “Laws of Logic” are metaphorical constructs to help us organize our understanding of the world around us.

  2. #2 Raven
    March 10, 2010

    From a purely materialistic worldview the “laws of logic,” like any other human concept, do not “exist” independent of human brains and human artifice. They *do* exist in material forms–in the way neurons are configured in the brain and in human artifacts such as books that serve to archive those same patterns–without any need for supernatural explanations.

    I’m not sure what the name is for the logical fallacy Lisle is using. Maybe a straw man? Lisle seems to have created his own twisted notion of what materialism entails, one that precludes the existence of any sort of metaphors or thought patterns.

  3. #3 JMC
    March 10, 2010

    Someone get that Mr. Lisle a book on Plato.

    Does the alphabet ‘exist’? Does pi ‘exist’? Does the state of confusion and befuddlement someone settles into upon reading Mr. Lisle’s words ‘exist’?

    I’m actually curious if he will then claim that a creationist has a very comfortable relationship with the Laws of Logic. Though I suppose in their worldview God becomes the final answer to every proof one can imagine.

  4. #4 Jason A.
    March 10, 2010

    It’s like he’s asserting dualism, that thought is fundamentally non-material, then saying materialism can’t account for the thing he’s asserted is non-material. He assumed his premise.

  5. #5 Jason A.
    March 10, 2010

    *cough* That should have been ‘He assumed his conclusion in his premise.’

  6. #6 Scooty
    March 10, 2010

    What does Dr. Lisle think the laws of logic are, some kind of spiritual cosmic police force that conspires to keep all cows from simultaneously being jet airplanes and all bachelors from being married? The laws of logic don’t dictate the way that reality behaves. They are concepts that we use to describe the nature of reality just as we use mathematics to describe what happens when you manipulate quantities. They don’t exist outside of the minds that conceive them.

    What’s especially interesting is that the same laws of logic that Dr. Lisle thinks proves God, then go on to quite successfully prove many of his beliefs false beyond any reasonable measure of doubt.

  7. #7 Thony C.
    March 10, 2010

    Whats to discuss?

  8. #8 Jason Rosenhouse
    March 10, 2010

    Thony C -

    Careful! That’s the ultimate proof of creation your dissing.

    More precisely, the ultimate proof of creation, according to Lisle, is:

    Likewise, the evolutionist must use biblical creation principles in order to argue against biblical creation. In order for his argument to make sense it would have to be wrong. Ironically, the fact that evolutionists are able to argue against creation proves that creation is true! Evolutionists must assume the preconditions of intelligibility in order to make any argument whatsoever; they must assume things like laws of logic and uniformity of nature. But these preconditions of intelligibility do not comport with an evolutionary worldview; they only make sense if creation is true. Hence, we have an ultimate proof of creation: we know that biblical creation must be true because if it were not, we could not know anything at all.

    Deep. I like the quote in the opening post mostly for that opening sentence that laws of a logic pose a very serious problem for evolutionists. Something big has gone wrong in your life if you have arrived at a place where that sentence seems reasonable.

  9. #9 Jason Rosenhouse
    March 10, 2010

    Come to think of it, I also want to know who Lisle has in mind in saying “Almost all evolutionists know they should be logical…”

  10. #10 miller
    March 10, 2010

    The argument reminds me of Plantinga. Plantinga argues that naturalistic evolution implies that we have no reason to believe our cognitive faculties, and is thus self-defeating.

    It’s not a good sign when I’m reminded of Plantinga. Plantinga made me lose the last shreds of faith I had in apologetic arguments.

  11. #11 nuspirit
    March 10, 2010

    It’s just a (somewhat garbled) rehash of the transcendental argument:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_argument_for_the_existence_of_God

  12. #12 bad Jim
    March 10, 2010

    As an argument, it’s like a poor relation of Wigner’s “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.” If the world wasn’t predictable enough for mathematical description it probably wouldn’t be hospb00ble for such a complicated life form as us.

  13. #13 Richard Eis
    March 10, 2010

    This reminds me of the “God can be imagined, reality is better than imagination, so god exists” argument. Only against all probability… more idiotic.

    Nothing new under the sun, its just more rotten.

  14. #14 heddle
    March 10, 2010

    I don’t like to dive into philosophy because I find it too impenetrable and I rarely am convinced of the conclusions claimed, even my own. With that caveat: In the debate between theism and atheism, the existence of logic or mathematics strikes me as neutral with no possibility that it hurts the theist and no possibility that it helps the atheist. On the other hand the laws of physics have a greater potential to help one side or the other.

    It strikes me, naively no doubt, that what he discusses is in some way profound, just not in the way he thinks. It is probably more germane to the “how do we know stuff and is it always science?” question.

    However, I think bad jim is spot on. I think “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences” is a much more intriguing question, and I personally view it as a feather in the theist cap. I don’t view it as proof of anything—more like something that is immensely satisfying given my personal view that God has instructed us to study creation (do science.)

    Even before I was a Christian I remember pondering what would have happened if Newton’s 2nd law had been nonlinear. Or Maxwell’s equations. How far would we have gotten without superposition? What if the simplest expression of gravity was the mathematically intractable (for mere mortals such as me) String Theory?

    Of confidence in science rests on the fact that it worked so well for Newton, Maxwell, Gibbs, Einstein, etc. And their success hinged on the fact that the mathematics was never too hard.

  15. #15 Wowbagger
    March 10, 2010

    A blithering fool using the handle ‘SyeTenB’ (or similar) popped up in a few places (Pharyngula and others) trying to push this argument as incontrovertible evidence for his god.

    You can probably imagine how that went…

  16. #16 NewEnglandBob
    March 10, 2010

    Jason Lisle has a degree? Let me guess, it is in theology, right? The art of mental masturbation and self delusion. Otherwise he shouldn’t be so ignorant and so juvenile.

  17. #17 RBH
    March 10, 2010

    Heddle wrote

    I think “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences” is a much more intriguing question, and I personally view it as a feather in the theist cap.

    Two things. First, Wigner’s title should have been “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of (Some) Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.” Second, it’s a species of the anthropic principle, which reduces to “Ain’t it amazing that the universe is of such a nature as to allow us to exist to be amazed at the fact that the universe is of such a nature to allow us to exist.” As an argument that’s right up there with “Just because!”

  18. #18 complex field
    March 10, 2010

    Hmm..The laws of logic, created by physical beings in a physical universe.

    This evolutionist sees no problem.

  19. #19 Jon Radin
    March 10, 2010

    Jason Lisle makes only one mistake. His position is one of faith. his deity is responsible for all. He would admiot, I assume, this is his fundemental worldview. His mistake is to cross the boundary into the world of science and logic and try to argue with the analytic tools of that world a support for his worldview. Faith by definition does not rely on logic, evidence, experimental reproducibility, rules defining and categorizing cause and effect, or any other way humans try to understand the world they live in. In fact by definition, faith denies the utility of all of that when seeking to understand and describe the world. Many of the comments have pointed out the flawed logic of his argument. I suggest world view based on a denial of all that is responsible.

  20. #20 SLC
    March 10, 2010

    Re NewEnglandBob @ #16

    Dr. Lisle actually has a degree in astrophysics from the Un. of Colorado, Boulder. However, like other YECs with legitimate degrees from reputable universities (e.g. Duane Gish, Kurt Wise), he has allowed his insane religious notions to override his scientific training. Their approach should be compared with relatively sane theists like Prof. Heddle and Francis Collins.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_Lisle

    Re David Heddle @ #14

    Even before I was a Christian I remember pondering what would have happened if Newton’s 2nd law had been nonlinear. Or Maxwell’s equations.

    True, but the Theory of General Relativity is nonlinear which leads to the existence of objects like black holes and is, in part, responsible for the difficulty of reconciling it with with quantum mechanics.

  21. #21 Ivan
    March 10, 2010

    Oh God. (SEE! Them atheists can’t even swear without assuming Jeezus!)

    The utter inanity of arguments like this (cf. the late Christian philosopher Gordon Haddon Clark) was one of the major factors that drove me away from Christianity.

  22. #22 Vince
    March 10, 2010

    Both mathematics and logic are simply human languages. Like in ordinary language mathematical entities represent mental concepts. Math differs from ordinary language in that it is much more precise and doesn’t have the ambiguity associated with most natural languages. We should be no more surprised that we can come up with valid descriptions by manipulating mathematical entities than we are that we can come up with valid descriptions by coming up with sentences in English.

    Similarly with logic. Logic is much like mathematics except the concepts it works with are more complex than those in mathematics. It still has the advantage of precision in definitions though. In addition the laws of logic we use are derived from the real world. There is no reason why we couldn’t have found the world to operate by different laws of logic.

    As far as being “simple enough” I would question the premise. For gravity Newton came first and was more simple but , technically, Newton was wrong! The description of gravity is actually more complicated. I don’t see why would should be surprised that people would discover the simplest description first.

  23. #23 Explicit Athiest
    March 10, 2010

    Posted by: SLC | March 10, 2010 7:14 AM

    “True, but the Theory of General Relativity is nonlinear which leads to the existence of objects like black holes and is, in part, responsible for the difficulty of reconciling it with with quantum mechanics.”

    If we are looking for the most intractible mathematics, its found in discrete, non-linear mathematics. Given that our universe appears to be both and discrete and non-linear, and how impractical it is to utilize such mathematics, our universe doesn’t fit well with that title “Unreasonable Effectiveness of (Some) Mathematics in the Natural Sciences”. Maybe we can overcome that problem with quantum computation, but quantum phenomena are materialistic, physical phenomena.

  24. #24 SLC
    March 10, 2010

    Re Bad Jim @ #12

    Not all theories in physics make mathematical sense. Thus, quantum electrodynamics is a mathematically preposterous theory which is justified only by its amazing agreement with physically observable quantities (e.g. agreement with the observed anomalous magnetic moment of the electron to 10 significant digits). The notion that the actual mass of the electron is infinite but is observed to be finite because of interactions with the quantum vacuum is nothing but hand waving.

  25. #25 Barry
    March 10, 2010

    Some excerpts from Lisle’s biography on the Answers in Genesis site:

    “Dr. Lisle graduated summa cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University where he double-majored in physics and astronomy, and minored in mathematics. He did graduate work at the University of Colorado where he earned a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics…

    He grew up in a Christian home, and was taught to respect the absolute authority and accuracy of the Bible, and to be discerning about what is taught in secular schools…

    His areas of interest in creation studies are in developing models of cosmology and stellar aging. Creationist thinking in these areas is still very preliminary.”

    Preliminary? I’ll say.

    Lisle’s bio raises an interesting issue, though. While it’s fallacious to make an argument from authority, it’s pretty clear that Lisle set out to reconcile scientific evidence with his creationism.

    He begs to be met with a sort of argument from anti-authority. No matter what the evidence is, he will jam it into a creationist sausage. For this reason, it’s hard to take seriously anything he says.

  26. #26 doctorgoo
    March 10, 2010

    Lisle:

    But of course laws of logic are not matter; they are not part of the physical universe.

    Therefore, we should etch the laws of logic onto 2 stone tablets, climb a mountain, and proclaim them to the people below.

    Then and only then will they become a part of the physical universe!

  27. #27 Alex Besogonov
    March 10, 2010

    “Not only is the materialistic atheist unable to account for the existence of laws of logic, but they are actually contrary to his worldview.”

    Heh. It’s proven that the first-order logic is self-consistent, so it’s a ‘thing in itself’. It doesn’t need justifications for its existence.

  28. #28 Skeptico
    March 10, 2010

    But of course laws of logic are not matter; they are not part of the physical universe.

    He’s assuming his conclusion. If you don’t start by assuming that the laws of logic are not part of a non-physical universe then there is no contradiction.

  29. #29 Modusoperandi
    March 10, 2010

    It sounds like Presuppositionalism, which is a way to assume the thing to be proved as axiomatic while sounding phisosophical, rather than simply idiotic. I thought that it seemed a quick way to maintain YECness, but I think this is the first person I’ve seen who admits it.
    From an obvious YEC, it actually sounds worse. Witness…

    “Oh, sure, you say that ‘Using logic and evidence, the Earth is some four and a half billion years old’, but to use logic and evidence you have to admit that Creation (as it appears in the Bible) is True and adopt the Christian Worldview which says that to maintain a solid, logical, evidentiary foundation you have to throw all that logic and evidence away because Creation (as it appears in the Bible) is really six thousand years old. Take that, atheism!”

    nuspirit “It’s just a (somewhat garbled) rehash of the transcendental argument…”
    Lies! It’s Darwinists who recycle old fossils, not Christians! Further outrage of some kind!

  30. #30 Damian
    March 10, 2010

    Yep, this is presupositionalism. And it is a denial that the laws of logic are a human convention (conventionalism). It also assumes that all atheists are materialists (which they are not, although modern physicalism is very different to the materialism of even a few decades ago).

    The most succinct answer is to turn it back on to Lisle and suggest that if the laws of logic are both dependent on God and necessary, they would necessarily be contingent. But there is nothing inconsistent in denying the existence of God, whereas there would be in denying the existence of the laws of logic.

    Also, if the laws of logic were contingent on the existence of God it should be possible for God to arrange things in such a way that the Law of Non-contradiction is false. So, it should be possible for the UK, say, to be both to the north of Spain and to the south, at the same time.

    But that is clearly absurd and, to all intents and purposes, the Law of Non-contradiction holds everywhere. So, there is no reason to believe that the laws of logic are contingent on the existence of God, and plenty of reasons to believe that they are human conventions.

  31. #31 eric
    March 10, 2010

    these preconditions of intelligibility do not comport with an evolutionary worldview; they only make sense if creation is true.

    Doesn’t the fact that Jason Lisle claims he understands the evolutionist position require that the position be intelligible, thus refuting his point that its irrational?

    More broadly: if intelligibility implies design, what happens if both a statement and its logical negative are intelligible? Does that mean God designed contradictory things?

  32. #32 kalki
    March 10, 2010

    Well he does manage to prove that logic is flawed.

  33. #33 Jason Rosenhouse
    March 10, 2010

    Vince -

    We should be no more surprised that we can come up with valid descriptions by manipulating mathematical entities than we are that we can come up with valid descriptions by coming up with sentences in English.

    That is precisely my view as well.

  34. #34 Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth
    March 10, 2010

    “Logic is the bane of theists.” ignostic morgan
    Logic and the law of causation would override Him were He to exist , that He therefore could not be the First Cause.
    Plantinga is such a sophist of farragoes that lead to solipsism. He cannot fathom, because of that shield of faith [Articulett] that the argument from mind keel hauls his supernaturalism: as He has no body, He has no brain and thus no mind. Plantinga, as theologins are so wont to do, is begging the question of disembodied mind and arguing from ignorance. I think he’s a creationisteh?
    People overrate him and W.LC.!
    Theologians are on par with paranormalists. It is such a non-starter to plead that they write tomes in abstruse and modal terms and of grave matters: sutpidity = stupidity!
    Carneades, the first ignostic dismissed theology eons ago: we naturalists are a mere footnote to him.
    Kudos to my fellow naturalists here! Syncophants of Plantinga, faith begs the question of its subjcect [ARTICULETT]! Google skeptic griggsy for his take on the supernatural, the twin of the paranormal, ” The Transcendent Temptation,” as Paul Kurtz calls these superstitions, the scams of the ages1
    Carneades [of Ga.]

  35. #35 Lenoxus
    March 10, 2010

    Even if it were unequivocally proven that logic is immaterial/dualistic, no concept of God could single-handedly explain it, any more than God explains anything else. “Why is there an immaterial aspect to reality? Obviously, because an immaterial someone really wanted there to be! QED.” The “hypothesis” is no more explanatory than a dormitive principle.

    There’s also the peculiar assumption that the non-material world obviously “includes” material reality, but the converse must be nonsense. Apparently, we should be startled at the notion that the immaterial/metaphysical might derive from the material, but that the inverse occured at least once, at the beginning of time, is just plain ol’ common sense, innit? No need to wonder how a spiritual entity like God is able to effect physical events; only literal-minded geeks worry about how the molecules are moved. That’s like asking how homeopathy is supposed to work; the answer “water demonstrates intelligence” feels satisfactory.

    Not only are we natural dualists, we are, when it comes to solving mysteries, naturally more comfortable with the immaterial side of our dualism, and uncomfortable with probing beyond “the Force did it”. That aspects of the physical world (humans, animals, weather, the stars) either are or are controlled by immaterial beings just feels like common sense to us, in need of no further elucidation, while notions like emergence seem weird.

    Maybe our reality is just God’s immaterial dream? Funny that that’s not a tenant of modern theology…

  36. #36 Amber
    March 10, 2010

    I think someone needs to explain logic to him. He seems to be missing something. And, while you’re at it, explain evolution too. And, maybe tell him that the earth is in fact round rather than flat…I feel he may argue that point also. Shall I go on?

  37. #37 Jim Harrison
    March 10, 2010

    These arguments always seem to involve the same mistake. They confuse mental representations (idea in the psychological sense) with concepts (idea as the referent of a sentence). Thus the fact that I have an idea of a unicorn does not imply that unicorns exist in any sense beyond the fact that my thinking about them involves images or perhaps neural events. A unicorn isn’t a neural event. It’s a sort of horse with a single horn that can only be captured by a virgin. There aren’t any.

    Thing is, unless you are a rather literal-minded Platonist, you don’t have to believe that concepts exist in order to take them seriously. The Stoics, for example, who were materialists, treated the meaning of sentences (lekta) as nonexistent but nevertheless the subject of the science of logic. Other philosophers treat concepts as having being, but not existence, which actually comes down to much the same thing. Incidentally, though I don’t agree with Plantinga, it’s probably unfair to accuse him of making the same crude error implied by Lisle argument. Plantina’s argument against materialism, as I understand it, is rather different.

  38. #38 Koray
    March 10, 2010

    There are no “laws” of logic. Even the so-called law of the excluded middle is just another logic “axiom” that goes away if you subscribe to constructivist logic instead of classical logic.

    Everybody is free to reject any logical or mathematical axiom. They may find themselves less and less able to communicate with others or understand the physical world, though.

  39. #39 GrayGaffer
    March 10, 2010

    “A unicorn isn’t a neural event. It’s a sort of horse with a single horn that can only be captured by a virgin. There aren’t any.” – aren’t any virgins?

    Vince: “Logic is much like mathematics except the concepts it works with are more complex than those in mathematics.” Not that it really upsets your argument, but you have the relationship between Logic and Mathematics inverted. “Logic”, which I usually would take to refer to Propositional / Predicate Calculus, is the more foundational, and is actually pretty simple. Mathematics is a branch of elaborated Logic focused on the specific problem of quantity. Truth / Falsity is the only value component to Logic, Math expands upon this to induce Real and Integer numbers etc. See Peano, for a start.

    I often encounter confusions between the referents for “complicated” vs “complex”. These are very useful words when used correctly, but lead to confusion and poor judgment when conflated or inverted.

    “Logic” leads to complexity, in that it comprises relatively few grokkable rules which can be composited to produce large, yet understandable from first principles, structures. Mathematics, founded in Logic, is similarly complex but not complicated (unless mishandled).

    “Complicated” OTOH refers to large structures founded on arbitrarily large collections of unrelated axioms.

    Bureaucracies and legislation are complicated, E = mc^2 is complex and beautiful, A => B is sublime. Creationism appears to be even beyond complicated – no related axioms, no connectivity, just a collection of unrelated assertions justified by “because!” (or “Goddidit!”)

  40. #40 Modusoperandi
    March 10, 2010

    Jim Harrison “Plantina’s argument against materialism, as I understand it, is rather different.”
    “If unguided evolution is true, one can’t be sure that one’s mind and senses are reliable, since natural selection selects for ‘reproductive fitness’ rather than ‘cognitive accuracy’”, complete with a math formula proving that ubridled naturalism naturally results “low cognitive reliability”, if memory serves.
    Yes, we do have issues with the reliability of our minds and senses. I don’t see how passing it from our actual, messy evolutionary history (building up “good enoughs”) to an clean but imaginary Fall (decaying from perfection) helps.

  41. #41 Brian
    March 10, 2010

    That old argument again. This discussion brought a question up for me. First up, I admit I’m an ignoramus on any complex math and logic, so don’t be surprised if this makes no sense at all.

    From one book I read about Goedel’s incompleteness theorem, some things which are intuitively correct cannot be captured in sufficiently complex logical systems. So, the system is incomplete. So if logic is just a convention or construction of our minds, are things that are intuitively true in a logical system but not captured by that system sort of fitting the square peg of constructed logic into the non-square hole of intuition (or vice-versa) which presumably evolved to help us deal with our evolutionary environment? That is, some things we intuit might not be formally correct, but they worked good enough to be selected. Another example might be formalizing morality. Intuitively we know some things are right or wrong, but no formal moral theory (utilitarianism or whatever) captures all our intuition. It seems that when we formalize something it can’t capture all things that we intuitively feel are true.

    That probably didn’t make sense. If it does make sense, it’s probably a just-so story. Thoughts?

  42. #42 Ivan
    March 10, 2010

    @41

    Gödel’s theorem has nothing to do with intuition. I sympathize with your desire to use it as a vague sort of metaphor, but the mathematician in me says ew, <gag>, <choke>, <wheeze>. (Don’t take it personally. :^)

  43. #43 Brian
    March 10, 2010

    Thanks. I’m not taking it personally. I got the idea from this book: http://www.amazon.com/World-Without-Time-Forgotten-Einstein/dp/0465092942/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1

    The author has a man-crush on Goedel and pumps for Goedel being a philosopher and not ‘just’ a logician. He reckon Goedel had a program of seeing how far formal systems can capture intuition. Apparently Goedel was a platonist and thought thus that all maths was intuitive.

    Guess that was wrong then.

  44. #44 Lenoxus
    March 10, 2010

    #37 Jim Harrison:

    Incidentally, though I don’t agree with Plantinga, it’s probably unfair to accuse him of making the same crude error implied by Lisle argument. Plantinga’s argument against materialism, as I understand it, is rather different.

    It is different; it’s even dumber. I find that the basic transcendental argument has a certain respectability, or at least an intuitiveness (we are all intuitive dualists at times). Its mistakes are understandable, like getting fooled by an optical illusion.

    Plantinga’s argument, in focusing strictly on the science of biology, really and truly comes down to “What if an ape wanted to get eaten by a tiger, but for every tiger it saw, it thought it wouldn’t get eaten, and ran away? See — it’s possible for evolution to enable false beliefs, even if they are directly connected to survival!” And without this absurd-at-every-level example, and others like it, the argument is basically nothing.

  45. #45 Gary
    March 10, 2010

    Sorry guys most of you missed the point that lisle was making, which is a worldview argument. Indeed in philosphical terms it is a Transcendental Argument, asking how is a person to account for logic. It is not denying the reality of logic, it is saying on your worldview – namely in lisle’s address materialistic naturalism, how do you account for logic. Plato won’t help you here.
    keep thinking

  46. #46 Ivan
    March 10, 2010

    @43

    Interesting– I came across that book somewhere and wanted to read it, but I never got around to it.

    Gödel’s theorem says that any sufficiently powerful formal system contains true (not merely intuitively true) statements which are not provable within the system itself.

    I can see how you might say that Gödel showed that formal systems inevitably fail to capture intuition, but I would see that as a different sort of usage of the word intuition.

  47. #47 eric
    March 10, 2010

    Gary: Sorry guys most of you missed the point that lisle was making…It is not denying the reality of logic, it is saying on your worldview – namely in lisle’s address materialistic naturalism, how do you account for logic.

    Gary, if that’s the argument that Lisle makes he’s completely missing the boat. Because he must first assume that acceptance of evolution requires acceptance of ‘materialistic naturalism,’ and it doesn’t. Methodological naturalism, maybe, but the philosophical kind? Not.

    No logical requirement of materialism = no problem for evolution = argument fails.

  48. #48 Brian
    March 10, 2010

    Ivan: Gödel’s theorem says that any sufficiently powerful formal system contains true (not merely intuitively true) statements which are not provable within the system itself.

    I can see how you might say that Gödel showed that formal systems inevitably fail to capture intuition, but I would see that as a different sort of usage of the word intuition.

    Thanks Ivan. I think the author’s logic might trade on an equivocation.

    P1. Goedel showed hat any sufficiently powerful formal system contains true statements which are not provable within the system itself.

    UP2. Mathematical platonism holds that all true mathematical statements have real existence and we know they’re true by intuition.

    C1 Therefore Goedel showed that formal systems cannot capture intuitively true mathematical statements.

  49. #49 Brian
    March 10, 2010

    Garry, it seems Lisle has begged the question. He presumes that logic can’t be accounted for in a materialist philosophy and then concludes that it can’t be accounted for. Then, making another fallacy, he concludes the only alternative is his brand of theism. Why not pastafarianism? Can’t the FSM account for logic in his noodly greatness?

  50. #50 JimR
    March 10, 2010

    Go forward 2,000 years from now and all that anyone may have for faith statements is from Jason Lisle. This is how the “REVEALED SCRIPTURES” have come to us. What did the skeptics say back when this was being bandied about after 40AD. With no affront to today’s Jewish folk, everything seems up for debate for them; and I think that has always been true. There were obviously Jewish and other skeptics at that time that did not accept either the Jesus doctrine as James led them or the Pauline doctrine which won.

    Is it a recent evolutionary advance that we no longer believe from hearsay, but now apply a more rational criteria to statements about religion and find them wanting. The Creationists can’t stand the idea that they are being left behind. If memes exist, then the Creationists’ viewpoint has been left behind in the evolving understanding of the Universe and the wonders it holds.

  51. #51 Jim Harrison
    March 10, 2010

    I don’t know what else Lisle has in mind–maybe the brief quotation is misleading–but it sounds to me as he is not making a transcendental argument but an ontological one about the status of the laws of logic. For some reason, he thinks one has to claim that these laws have to exist, apparently in the same sense that physical objects exist, or we can’t meaningfully talk about them or follow them. Now if some sort of supermaterialist were to claim that they could dispense with concepts and other intentional objects altogether, they would indeed be rather foolish; but I can’t think of anybody who makes that claim. Even the ancient materialists were more sophisticated than that, c.f. the Stoics who developed an elaborate theory of the lekta to address the issue.

    By the way, I may have been hasty in my previous comment for though virgins are indeed scarce in these parts, they may exist in some unexplored region of the earth, possibly even Oakland.

  52. #52 Wowbagger
    March 10, 2010

    Brian, #49 – that’s pretty much the approach I’ve used against this assertion in the past.

    He – like those others I’ve dealt with – would not doubt claim that because the Christian bible (according to them) is the only ‘true’ revelation that it therefore must be the Christian god at the source of logic.

    When questioned about how he could support this assertion, of course, he had little to say that wasn’t tu quoque.

  53. #53 hsbio
    March 10, 2010

    How can we discuss the utterly irrelevant argument Mr. Lisle is making to dismiss evolutionists? This line of LOGIC (and I use that term loosely) is just bizarre. I am not sure what his actual point is, and I have no idea why thought processes would or could be used to prove or disprove any NATURAL phenomenon. What a FREAKING joke this man is…..I am so confused by the argument that cannot even come up with a coherent response that aids the actual DISCUSSION that this post was intended to propagate. SORRY

  54. #54 Brian
    March 10, 2010

    hsbio, I believe the argument is this:
    1. Logic can’t be accounted for in a materialistic explanation, materialism thus militates against logic.
    2. Materialist use logic, thus contradicting materialism.
    3. Ergo, young earth creationism.

  55. #55 GrayGaffer
    March 10, 2010

    Godel did not include the caveat “not merely intuitively true”. He deals with formal concepts of “Truth” and what it means for a statement within a formal system to be “True”.

    A strong formal system contains an enumerated set of symbols, an enumerated set of operators, and an enumerated set of rules that when applied to any statement decide if it is True or False. In this context, the word “statement” means “a string of symbols, possibly including operators, composed from the sets in the system”. At base a formal system is a lexicographic one, and reasoning within the system is accomplished by applying transform operators to statements. A statement is either axiomatic, i.e. stated as True without the need for proof, or is a composition of such axioms. It is proved by showing there exists a set of transforms from some starting set of axioms that results on the statement to be proved, or alternatively by showing that there exists a sequence of operations on the statement that reduce it to True or False. What Godel actually showed is that for any such system it is possible to construct statements that are decideably True (according to the system) but which are not provably True, i.e. cannot be derived from the axioms and transforms of the system.

    Intuition has nothing to do with it, although it may take off-stage intuition to come up with the counter examples. Also note that human-speak has nothing to do with it. Formal systems consist of typographic symbols as abstractions with no relation of any kind to reality or Human semantics.

    Hence the surprisingly short step from formal systems to computers, programs, and compilers.

    Douglas Hofstadter gives a mathematical version of a Zen Koan early on in his book Godel, Escher, Bach, wherein he defines a suitable (toy, but strong) formal system, shows the mechanics of a proof, and submits a statement in the system to the readers for us to prove it is true. Unfortunately he does not discuss it again, and I have never seen a treatment of the solution. I’ll not repeat the whole problem – it is a chapter on its own – but I have proved to my own satisfaction that the test statement is unprovably true. I had to leave the system to do so, however, and add a property of symbol strings I got from the data communications world – Parity. Briefly, parity for a symbol’s appearances in a statement is the count of how many of that symbol occur, rounded down to 1 or 0 (odd or even). The proof of the unprovability relies on the fact that all the transform operators in the imu system preserve parity for all symbols transformed, but the parity is inverted between the starting axiom and the statement to be proved from it, therefore there exist no paths connecting the two using only operators from the system. This is impossible to arrive at by enumeration of failed applications of the transforms because such an enumeration is an infinite set.

  56. #56 RD
    March 10, 2010

    Gene Witmer analyzes and dismantles this nonsense:

    http://gatorfreethought.org/witmer%20talk%201.pdf

  57. #57 Robert O'Brien
    March 11, 2010

    Two things. First, Wigner’s title should have been “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of (Some) Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.” Second, it’s a species of the anthropic principle, which reduces to “Ain’t it amazing that the universe is of such a nature as to allow us to exist to be amazed at the fact that the universe is of such a nature to allow us to exist.” As an argument that’s right up there with “Just because!”

    You may be a fine clinical psychologist, but it is painfully obvious that you are neither a mathematical nor a physical scientist. Wigner’s article does not reduce to “Ain’t it amazing that the universe is of such a nature as to allow us to exist to be amazed at the fact that the universe is of such a nature to allow us to exist.” The applicability of mathematics to the natural sciences does not require us to be around to apprehend it.

    Are you trying to validate the work of Dunning and Kruger by speaking far outside of your discipline?

  58. #58 Robert O'Brien
    March 11, 2010

    But there is nothing inconsistent in denying the existence of God, whereas there would be in denying the existence of the laws of logic.

    Some people would dispute that.

    So, there is no reason to believe that the laws of logic are contingent on the existence of God, and plenty of reasons to believe that they are human conventions.

    Those are not the only two possibilities.

  59. #59 Sean McCorkle
    March 11, 2010

    A materialistic atheist does not believe in anything beyond the physical universe. In his view, all that exists is matter in motion

    I guess I would ask this fellow to consider a wave impulse, like a transverse wave traveling the length of a string. The string is made of matter, but the atoms in the string are not moving very far, only up and down a bit.

    So, is the wave real? Physics considers it to be quite real. It has a velocity and an energy. Yet it is not matter, rather it is something propagating through matter. Its a pattern, an entity which is not material (although it requires matter to exist in). And it is governed by laws of physics.

    Patterns, organization, messages, signals etc. are very much part of the real word and are recognized and described by various scientific disciplines. I wonder if he considers them to be part of “materialism” or not?

  60. #60 tresmal
    March 11, 2010

    Good link RD. I’ve bookmarked it.

  61. #61 Modusoperandi
    March 11, 2010

    Presuppositionalism, at least on the internet, is tailor-made for those with afflicted with a nasty combination of zealotry and douchery. It’s like Objectivism, but for Jesus instead of sociopathy.

  62. #62 Modusoperandi
    March 11, 2010

    And, after reading through RD’s link, my previous comment was redundant. Also, after reading through RD’s link, my previous comment was redundant.

  63. #63 Ivan
    March 11, 2010

    @Modusoperandi #61

    LOL.

    The sad thing for me is that I know plenty of people who subscribe to the whole “deep down, you KNOW there’s a god” thing even if they don’t call it presuppositionalism.

    In fact, I think that, deep down, all religious people subscribe to some form of presuppositionalism. ;^)

  64. #64 heddle
    March 11, 2010

    Ivan,

    In fact, I think that, deep down, all religious people subscribe to some form of presuppositionalism. ;^)

    Some of us wear it on our sleeves, proudly.

  65. #65 Ivan
    March 11, 2010

    As a badge of pure crazy. No shit.

    What exactly did that have to do with my lame attempt at a joke? No, don’t answer that.

  66. #66 GravityIsJustATheory
    March 11, 2010

    Lisle’s comments put me in mind of this: http://www.icanhasmotivation.com/logic-your-doing-it-wrong

  67. #67 James Sweet
    March 11, 2010

    Discuss.

    Okay, I will. :)

    To start with, this assertion is false:

    In [the materialistic atheist's] view, all that exists is matter in motion.

    And energy.

    And actually, according to my lay understanding it is starting to look like quantum fluctuations that could not even rightly be called “matter” per se might be important in regards to the origins of the universe.

    But I don’t think this is central to Lisle’s argument, so we’ll ignore this one for now.

    But of course laws of logic are not matter; they are not part of the physical universe. Therefore, laws of logic cannot exist if materialism is true!

    Laws of logic don’t “exist” in the strict sense of existence that Lisle seems to be applying. There is no metaphysical stone tablet which decrees that p->q is equivalent to ~q->~p.

    But laws of logic seem to work pretty damn well most of the time at modeling this “matter in motion” if we must call it that, so we provisionally accept them. And in the arena of decisions that are meaningful to humans in everyday life, they work so damn well that we have provisionally given them a rather privileged position.

    Laws of logic don’t work quite so well at the quantum level. In fact, intuitive notions of logic fail so spectacularly there, that it took some physicists many decades to accept that there hadn’t been some kind of mistake. Some went to their graves without accepting it.

    Then of course, even at the macroscopic level, you have to ask, which laws of logic, exactly, is Lisle referring to?

    Methinks Lisle has just watched too much Star Trek, and confused materialistic atheists for a caricature of Spock. “Logical” and “rational” are not synonymous.

  68. #68 James Sweet
    March 11, 2010

    In the debate between theism and atheism, the existence of logic or mathematics strikes me as neutral with no possibility that it hurts the theist and no possibility that it helps the atheist.

    Wow, heddle almost said something correct before he veered off into la-la land. Indeed, I don’t see how the “existence” of laws of logic has anything to do with theism or atheism. Logic is a problem for theodicy, I think, but not necessarily for theism.

    It’s empiricism that torpedoes theism, not logic :D

  69. #69 Ginger Yellow
    March 11, 2010

    Ignoring the question begging that has already been dealt with in comments above, it’s particularly amusing to see Lisle castigating the irrationality of materialists/evolutionists before making the statement: “Hence, we have an ultimate proof of creation: we know that biblical creation must be true because if it were not, we could not know anything at all.”

    Even if for some reason we were to accept his argument about the lack of rational grounding for evolutionism, that still leaves an infinite variety of logically coherent creationisms, with no reason to favour biblical creationism over the others. Indeed, according to his “logic”, theistic evolution, which comports with the evidence (the evolution bit) and his bizarre idea of logical coherence (the theistic bit) would be far preferable to biblical creationism.

  70. #70 James Sweet
    March 11, 2010

    we know that biblical creation must be true because if it were not, we could not know anything at all

    Hmmm, one might term this the Really Super Impossibly Strong Ultra Mega Anthropic Principle.

    Lisle is not content to assert that our universe must be the way it is because, if it were not, then there would be nobody around to ask why it is the way it is. No no no, that’s far too weak of an assertion for him. On the contrary, every minute detail of his own personal worldview must be the way it is because, if it were not, then he wouldn’t hold those viewpoints!

    “Look, honey, I’m sorry I cheated on you with the babysitter. But don’t you see it was inevitable? If I hadn’t cheated on you with the babysitter, then you wouldn’t be asking me why I cheated on the babysitter. So the fact that you are even asking me the question, well… that is the answer! I slept with the babysitter because you are asking me why I slept with the babysitter. So really, it’s your fault.”

  71. #71 heddle
    March 11, 2010

    James Sweet,

    Wow, heddle almost said something correct before he veered off into la-la land. Indeed, I don’t see how the “existence” of laws of logic has anything to do with theism or atheism. Logic is a problem for theodicy, I think, but not necessarily for theism.

    It’s empiricism that torpedoes theism, not logic :D

    OK if my comment was la-la land, please explain. I said: “the laws of logic the existence of logic or mathematics strikes me as neutral with no possibility that it hurts the theist and no possibility that it helps the atheist.”

    If that is la-la then it must mean

    1) the laws of logic/mathematics are not neutral and

    2a) the laws of logic/mathematics hurt theism (in general, not simply, for example, YECism specifically), and or

    2b) the laws of logic/mathematics support atheism

    I’ll wait for you to explain, but I predict it will sound as woo-like as Lisle’s argument, or will beg the question (logic helps us because we are logical.)

  72. #72 Saint Onan
    March 11, 2010

    Laws of logic pose a very serious problem for the theist. Almost all theists (actually a very small proportion, but for the sake of argument…) know they should be logical, and yet they have no basis for laws of logic within their own professed worldview. The problem is particularly embarrassing for the monotheist. A monotheist does not believe in anything beyond God and His Creation. In his view, all that exists is God and the things He has created. But of course laws of logic can be derived independantly of God, nor do they depend on the Creation. Therefore, laws of logic cannot exist if monotheism is true! Not only is the monotheist unable to account for the existence of laws of logic, but they are actually contrary to his worldview. His worldview is necessarily irrational.

  73. #73 Michael
    March 11, 2010

    I like the Witmer piece RD linked to. It’s good solid philosophy. I don’t agree with all of it, but I like it. One can reason with the man who wrote that.

    But notice how many of the things people say on this thread — and in many many threads in places like here, Jerry Coyne’s blog, pharyngula — are things Witmer says you shouldn’t say.

    So, for example, according to Witmer you should give up saying:

    The only way to know anything is through scientific methods.

    Don’t say that — it’s self-refuting — so Witmer tells us. But if you deny that then (by logic!) you admit there are “other ways of knowing.” Yet if you say there are “other ways of knowing,” pharyngulites en masse will descend and call you a moron and other less nice things. Therefore, Witmer is a moron? No. I don’t think he’s the moron.

    Or consider Witmer’s response to explanations of the laws of logic as due to “convention” or existing “in our minds” — “These are bad answers, and it is no wonder the presuppositionalist can attack them.” Compare #2, #6, #18 etc above. Bad answers. Stop with the bad philosophy of logic. Read Frege, Basic Laws of Arithmetic, Introduction, on why logic isn’t psychology or any other natural science.

    If everyone on this list read Witmer’s piece carefully we’d be in a position to have a much more intelligent discussion on the question of the status of logical laws.

  74. #74 Brian
    March 11, 2010

    The only way to know anything is through scientific methods.

    Don’t say that — it’s self-refuting — so Witmer tells us.

    Not really. I disagreed with this. If you hypothesis that the only way of knowing is through scientific methods, then it’s not self-refuting. Test away. Although for me scientific methods includes the spectrum of rationality such as maths, logic, philosophy and the natural sciences. This is reasonable as all the sciences rely on maths/logic/philosophy.

    It would be self-refuting if you proposed as a non-empirical rule that scientific methods are the only way of knowing, of course.

  75. #75 Modusoperandi
    March 12, 2010

    Michael “If everyone on this list read Witmer’s piece carefully we’d be in a position to have a much more intelligent discussion on the question of the status of logical laws.”
    Yes, and then you can waste it talking in circles with a presuppositionalist, which is like arguing evolution with a YEC, but with the far slipperier thing like “philosophy” and “semantics” in place of sweet, pretty things like “comparative genomics” and “dinosaurs” (which still, after all we’ve discovered, remain by far the most awesome of the “saurs”. Take that, Andysaur!).

  76. #76 Mike Sandifer
    March 12, 2010

    I’m pretty sure any “laws of logic” would be materially manifest in the brain of a “materialistic” atheist. He doesn’t even use the term “materialistic” correctly. I assume he meant “materialist.”

  77. #77 Brian
    March 12, 2010

    Read Frege

    Yeah but*, didn’t he have a weird symbolism that made it impossible to understand what he was on about unless one had a Teutonic constitution?

    (Yeah but is a well known Aussie way of saying that your statement is cogent, but I’m gonna disagree because that’s what I do.)

  78. #78 Ivan
    March 12, 2010

    @ Michael #73

    Your concern is noted.

  79. #79 Michael
    March 12, 2010

    Ivan @#78

    Your vacuity is noted also.

  80. #80 James Sweet
    March 12, 2010

    @heddle: Yeah, I meant that I agreed with the part I quoted. It was the rest of your comment that I thought was nuts.

    You’re too prolific for me to debate, though, and that’s saying something considering my own verbosity issues :D So I’m not really interested in taking you point for point. Sorry.

  81. #81 Ivan
    March 12, 2010

    It was the rest of your comment that I thought was nuts.

    Heddle reads what he wants to read. A lot.

  82. #82 heddle
    March 12, 2010

    Ivan,

    You’re an idiot and a jackass.

    I accept James’s explanation that he agreed with the comment of mine that I thought he was criticizing as la-la. Nevertheless, anyone reading #68 might reasonably come to the same conclusion I did.

    Bite me.

  83. #83 Ivan
    March 12, 2010

    <church-lady gasp> What would Jesus say?

  84. #84 AL
    March 13, 2010

    Well, even Jesus flips out every now and again. I mean, it’s not like he’s perfect.

  85. #85 Ivan
    March 13, 2010
  86. #86 Scott Hatfield
    March 14, 2010

    Guys, the real problem with Lisle’s argument is not that the universe is amenable to logical analysis (with math and other things). The real problem is that he is confusing cosmogenesis (wherein the values of the cosmic parameters are of interest, and puzzling) with evolution.

    One can accept that evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life, in accordance with the lawfulness of nature, without having a satisfactory account of why the universe is lawful…in the same way that plumbers can know how to plumb without being hydrological engineers.

    Is that completely satisfying for those of us who long for the Grand Unified TOE? Probably not, but what Lisle seems to miss is that ALL accounts of the Universe’s origin are paradoxical and contradictory in terms of the details, precisely because we can’t get quantum mechanics and cosmological theories to cooperate in a testable way at the present. So Lisle’s argument has no force: the lack of coherence he imputes to rely solely with the evolutionist is in play with all cosmological models, including ones like his that take Genesis 1 to be scientific data.

  87. #87 AL
    March 14, 2010

    Guys, the real problem with Lisle’s argument is not that the universe is amenable to logical analysis (with math and other things). The real problem is that he is confusing cosmogenesis (wherein the values of the cosmic parameters are of interest, and puzzling) with evolution.

    Well, the quote excerpted by Jason Rosenhouse, and presumably the one he wants us all to comment on in this thread, does deal with the laws of logic, and not anything about the physical parameters of the universe, or evolution.

  88. #88 Jud
    March 15, 2010

    heddle writes: And their success hinged on the fact that the mathematics was never too hard.

    Scott Hatfield writes: [W]e can’t get quantum mechanics and cosmological theories to cooperate in a testable way at the present.

    heddle, the little problem that Scott has pointed out indicates the difficulty of a “God never makes it too hard on us” view of the discoverability of the laws of the Universe, i.e., there has always been and is at present a shitload of stuff we don’t know. I’ve seen no indication this state of affairs is likely to change.

    As for Lisle, someone please wake me when his (or any other creationist’s) reasoning rises above the level of a drunken all-night dorm room bullshit session. Thanks.

  89. #89 SLC
    March 15, 2010

    RE Heddle @ #14

    Of confidence in science rests on the fact that it worked so well for Newton, Maxwell, Gibbs, Einstein, etc. And their success hinged on the fact that the mathematics was never too hard.

    Actually, this statement is not true. As a for instance, Newton proposed his inverse square law of gravitation which provided an explanation for the elliptical orbits of the planets about the sun. That was certainly simple enough but then he became concerned with the interplanetary interactions which might cause the solar system to become unstable over time. Of course, the mathematics of computing those interactions is not nearly as simple as when one is only considering the sun and appeared intractable to Newton. Or, in Heddles’ terms, the mathematics was too hard. Thus, he sloughed of that issue by assigning the problem of maintaining the stability of the solar system to god. As Neil Tyson likes to point out, that’s intelligent design. Of course, 100 years later, Laplace was not so sanguine and actually used perturbation theory to compute the interplanetary interactions and showed that the solar system was stable over long periods of time. Perhaps apocryphally, he reputed to have presented his treatise on the subject to Napoleon and upon be asked by the latter as to what role god might play, he supposedly responded that he had no need of that hypothesis.

  90. #90 heddle
    March 15, 2010

    SLC,

    No, it is true. I never said science was always easy and always amenable to simple math. In fact I mentioned String Theory as an example of where it isn’t. What I actually speculated was, to paraphrase, if the math hadn’t been simple enough for Newton to solve the two-body problem, science would have never taken off as it did.

    Put differently, and in spite of what many say, the discipline of science does carry with it a presupposition: the presupposition that while science may be hard, it is not a fool’s errand. That confidence would be non-existent if it were not for the fact that a great deal of classical physics can be represented, to an amazing degree of accuracy, as linear differential equations.

    That statement is both true and agnostic as it pertains to religion.

  91. #91 SLC
    March 15, 2010

    Re Heddle @ #90

    Prof. Heddle, as usual, avoids the issue. Obviously, Newton didn’t think the mathematics of the many body problem presented by the interplanetary interactions was simple as he made no attempt to solve it and instead relied on god to address the problem if, in fact, the solution of the many body problem might have led to an unstable equilibrium over time.

    As for string theory, it is not at all clear as we sit here today that the mathematical theory of super strings has anything to do with physics. By the way, most physicists in 1915 were equally perplexed by the notion that Riemannian geometry provided an explanation for gravitation.

  92. #92 Jud
    March 15, 2010

    heddle writes:

    Put differently, and in spite of what many say, the discipline of science does carry with it a presupposition: the presupposition that while science may be hard, it is not a fool’s errand. That confidence would be non-existent if it were not for the fact that a great deal of classical physics can be represented, to an amazing degree of accuracy, as linear differential equations.

    That statement is both true and agnostic as it pertains to religion.

    I would state the second sentence of the first paragraph more generally, and in a way that is possibly not agnostic as pertains to religion.

    I would say that the reason mathematics and science are able to represent what occurs in the Universe is because there are regularities of cause and effect. The supernatural (which would include aspects of religions such as divine miracles) allows for what I’ll call “suspension” of these regularities. If the Universe was subject to such suspension to any significant degree, that would, it seems to me, render science a fool’s errand.

  93. #93 386sx
    March 15, 2010

    Well, the quote excerpted by Jason Rosenhouse, and presumably the one he wants us all to comment on in this thread, does deal with the laws of logic, and not anything about the physical parameters of the universe, or evolution.

    True, but one wouldn’t be a good rationalizer for Christian theism if one couldn’t drop in on blogs and point out some “gods of the gaps” to stick one’s tongue out at atheists, and by the way do some fawning over Genesis while one is at it, now would one?

  94. #94 Richard Eis
    March 16, 2010

    Let us also not forget the plain and simple fact that science… “works” …and it works regardless of who is doing it.

  95. #95 Owlmirror
    March 18, 2010
    In fact, I think that, deep down, all religious people subscribe to some form of presuppositionalism. ;^)

    Some of us wear it on our sleeves, proudly.

    Oh!

    Is that why you keep arguing that Romans 1:20 is a command to “do science”? You simply presuppose that it is, even though it does not actually say any such thing?

  96. #96 Ryan
    March 18, 2010

    I’ve written an extensive critique of presuppositionalism here:

    http://aigbusted.blogspot.com/2010/02/refuting-presuppositionalism.html

  97. #97 heddle
    March 18, 2010

    Owlmirror,

    Is that why you keep arguing that Romans 1:20 is a command to “do science”? You simply presuppose that it is, even though it does not actually say any such thing?

    No, its more like why you keep arguing that Paul is preaching anti-intellectualism, even though he did not actually write any such thing.

    But just to correct you:

    1) Assuming the bible is the word of God: presuppositionalism.

    2) Arguing that that bible teaches something (whether you believe it or not): exegesis.

  98. #98 Owlmirror
    March 18, 2010

    1) Assuming the bible is the word of God: presuppositionalism.

    2) Arguing that that bible teaches something (whether you believe it or not): exegesis.

    Ah, I see. You presuppose that my exegesis that Paul teaches anti-intellectualism must be wrong because I don’t presuppose that the bible is the word of God, and you presuppose that your exegesis must be correct because you do presuppose that the bible is the word of God.

    Or in other words: You’re not going to accept any argument that contradicts what you think the bible says from one of the damned (even though you’re also presupposing that the Calvinist theology of damnation is correct, and that I, of course, am of the damned (and that you are of the saved)).

    Interesting. Maybe I’m starting to understand this whole thing.

    But this reminds me again of YEC argumentation. So, just to clarify:

    YECs presuppose that the bible, being the word of God, must be taken at its exact word in describing the origin and past history of the universe and the Earth.

    You presuppose that since the real world does not exactly reflect what the bible describes of the origin and past history of the universe and the Earth, the bible does not actually describe the actual real-world origin and past history of the universe and the Earth, despite its being the word of God.

    Do I understand that correctly, or are there some other presuppositional shenanigans that I should be aware of?

  99. #99 heddle
    March 18, 2010

    Maye this will help:

    “Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so!” is classic presuppositionalism.

    “The bible teaches that Jesus loves me (or not)” is exegesis.

    Therefore I and the YEC can agree that the bible is inerrant by assumption (rather than, say, by some sort of Thomist proof or other evidence) We can both be perfectly fine presuppositionalists of equal standing.

    From that point on, it is hermeneutics and exegesis. The fact that we agree on the presupposition that the bible is the word of God does not demand, in any way shape or form, that we agree on how to interpret it. From that point on, the presuppositional YEC will have more agreement with the non-presuppositional (evidential) YEC that he will have with me.

    I can’t understand why you don’t see the distinction.

  100. #100 Owlmirror
    March 19, 2010

    “The bible teaches that Jesus loves me (or not)” is exegesis.

    But doesn’t this contain hidden presupposition — that the one making the statement knows the exact meaning of the bible? Or is the speaker presupposing knowing exactly how Jesus feels, and finding confirmation in the bible because of this presupposed knowledge?

    Therefore I and the YEC can agree that the bible is inerrant by assumption

    Hm. But you still seem to disagree on what exactly “inerrant” means. Perhaps you have difference presuppositions of the “proper” definition of the term as applied to the bible?

    The fact that we agree on the presupposition that the bible is the word of God does not demand, in any way shape or form, that we agree on how to interpret it.

    Because you have different presuppositions on what “proper” interpretation is?

    From that point on, the presuppositional YEC will have more agreement with the non-presuppositional (evidential) YEC that he will have with me.

    I don’t see how there can be a non-presuppositional YEC. Can you expand on this?

    I can’t understand why you don’t see the distinction.

    My understanding must be clouded by my state of damnation.

  101. #101 Blaine
    March 19, 2010

    I like the way the christists, christifarians, etc, just assert things.

    If materialism is true, then the moon is made of cheese, but we’ve been to the moon and found that it is not made of cheese, therefore, materialism is false.

    If materialism is true, logic is impossible. But we have logic, therefore materialism is false.

    A little evidence please, at least an intelligent presentation.

  102. #102 Dale Husband
    March 27, 2010

    Since when is the reality of concepts made up by humans in their minds (which are a function of their brains which are themselves made of matter) a problem for materialism?

  103. #103 waldteufel
    April 7, 2010

    Poor Jason Lisle really is a special case, isn’t he?

    With his addled brain, his writing is not only inane, but it’s boring.

    That would normally be of no consequence, but because he makes a career out of lying to gullible children, it makes his writing despicable.

  104. #104 Dan L.
    April 9, 2010

    “But of course laws of logic are not matter; they are not part of the physical universe.”

    The distance between two objects is not matter; it is not part of the physical universe. Therefore, there is no space between any two objects in the universe. Therefore, I overpaid for my last vacation, as I did not really have to pay for airfare.

    Incidentally, the above shows that the universe is composed not only of matter/energy, but also of the relations of matter/energy quanta to each other. Which is probably too intuitive for most skeptics and atheists to actually state explicitly, but apparently some folks have a little more trouble.

    The laws of logic, of course, are relational rather than structural, and are in no way contradicted by the assumptions of materialism (materialism only really makes one assumption, and it is structural: that substance dualism is false).

    A few other problems with this line of argument:

    1. Lisle must presuppose the validity of the laws of logic to prove that God’s existence implies the validity of the laws of logic. This is obviously circular; there may be some question about whether it is viciously so. I would suggest it is, though.

    That is, we can’t presuppose the existence of God and then count on that to imply the validity of laws of logic; we need recourse to the laws of logic to bind that implication in the first place.

    In which case, we have assumed the validity of the laws of logic before we have shown that they follow from God’s existence. Thus, Lisle’s basis for the validity of logic really has no firmer footing than that of atheists; if he has an interesting point at all, it would be that God’s existence necessitates logic while God’s non-existence invalidates it.

    2. God’s existence does not (necessarily — depends on “which” “God”) necessitate the validity of logic. After all, the validity of logic precludes the occurrence of non-logical events, preventing God from doing non-logical things. But He’s purportedly omnipotent, and one wonders why he would be constrained by the laws of logic. And if he is not, then illogical events are possible. And so God’s existence, by creating the possible of illogical events, makes it UNnecessary rather than necessary that the laws of logic should be valid.

    3. The non-existence of God does not necessitate the invalidity of the laws of logic. While it may not imply the validity of those laws, it also does not imply the opposite. In other words, the validity of logic is compatible with atheism (whereas, as I suggested above, they are not compatible with belief in an omnipotent God).

    4. How do we know we have the right laws of logic in the first place? How could we tell if we were wrong? Since all our conclusions are based on methods of inference derived from the laws of logic, we are simply not in a position to refute the laws of logic if they aren’t valid. For that matter, how do we know that any one logic will be the only valid one or even that there is any completely valid logic? No logical system can be complete, consistent, and finite; in most cases, we will be looking at logics that are incomplete.

    It is by the laws of logic that we can determine whether a particular proposition is “true” or “false.” Thus, we cannot prove:
    “The laws of logic as understood provide the most definite framework for assigning truth values to propositions” to be true or false without first presupposing the laws of logic by which we prove such a statement.

    5. This is all predicated on a very unsophisticated ontology in which statements like “In [the materialist's] view, all that exists is matter in motion.” Not so, certainly not for any materialist with even a passing familiarity with principles of quantum physics. Relativity, for that matter, complicates this view, for according to relativity, matter and motion are different sides of the same coin. But relativity also implies that space itself has a structure, so rather than “matter” and
    motion,” we have “matter/motion” and “space-time.”

    I would suggest that Lisle, like most non-scientists, is also stuck within the mindset of the intuitive principle of causality, that each effect has a cause. The scientific view is, again, more complex, with each event depending on the entire past light cone for that event, creating a causal web (rather than chain) stretching back to the first moments of the universe.

    What this shows is that our intuitive ontologies are not very good guides to how the world actually behaves at scales far removed from the ones for which our sensory organs are adapted. And if our intuitions are only valid within a constrained set of highly contingent circumstances, this would suggest to me that our intuitions are heuristics rather than iron-clad laws.

  105. #105 travesti
    July 24, 2010

    Or consider Witmer’s response to explanations of the laws of logic as due to “convention” or existing “in our minds” — “These are bad answers, and it is no wonder the presuppositionalist can attack them.” Compare #2, #6, #18 etc above. Bad answers. Stop with the bad philosophy of logic. Read Frege, Basic Laws of Arithmetic, Introduction, on why logic isn’t psychology or any other natural science.

  106. #106 Digitalos
    June 27, 2011

    I don’t think Jason Lisle can speak for all evolutionists like that. To my understanding, an evolutionist, is merely someone who accepts the theory of evolution as true. In which case atheist and theist evolutionists would fit that category, and as such Jason conflates terms, he talks about evolutionists along with materialist atheists, which is not necessarily the same thing.

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