Author Topic: The God Delusion  (Read 10189 times)

Re: The God Delusion
« Reply #90 on: August 23, 2013, 09:45:47 PM »
Hello, GurrenLarann.  First off, if I've mischaracterized your argument, I apologize.  I admit that I've certainly made some assumptions based on what I thought you were saying.  My bad.

Here's where our dispute started in earnest:

Quote from: "BugRib"
Quote from: "Hijiri Byakuren"
The philosophy classes taught in colleges these days teach students to walk through a logical thought process and back up assertions with proper evidence and sources.

This is called "The Scientific Method."  And it is good that this is what they are teaching in advanced philosophy classes because it is the only kind of "philosophical" method of thought that has any relevance in determining actual truth claims in the real world (such as whether there is a super-being running the universe).

You responded by calling this assertion "laughable."  Let's look at precisely what my assertion was using actual quotes so as to avoid any chance of me mischaracterizing your argument:

"[W]alk[ing] through a logical thought process and back[ing] up assertions with proper evidence and sources" is "called 'The Scientific Method.'...t is the only kind of 'philosophical' method of thought that has any relevance in determining actual truth claims in the real world."

Again, you called this statement "laughable," implying that there are other philosophical methods for "determining actual truth claims in the real world."  My assumption was that you were referring to some kind of esoteric, purely ontological methods of reasoning.  Apparently I was mistaken.

So, what are these other "philosophical methods of thought" you speak of that are capable of "determining actual truth claims in the real world"?  And what bits of knowledge about the real world have they ever uncovered?

edit: changed "are" to "our".

Re: The God Delusion
« Reply #91 on: August 23, 2013, 10:19:30 PM »
Quote from: "GurrenLagann"
Even assuming that everything you said were true, isn't it telling that you ignored my other examples (epistemology, theories of truth and mathematical ontology)? Because I didn't just "cover my ass" by gesturing towards mathematics, I brought up areas where empiricism (and thus science) is practically useless due to the nature of the subject, which was the entire reason for my response, i.e the blatant scientism on display here from several users.
you either implied or stated, and I gave several disciplines where that is the case (i.e epistemology, truth theories, mathematical ontology, etc.).

Here, I must again disagree with you.  I don't know what "mathematical ontology" is, but empiricism in all branches of mathematics is not "practically useless."  I would argue, as I have previously, that all of math is ultimately founded upon the fact that basic equations can be proven empirically, as in experimentally, as in physically.  All of the more esoteric branches of mathematics would be meaningless without this empirical foundation.

Granted, there is no practical way to run a physical experiment that proves most mathematical assertions aside from the basic ones.  But those esoteric mathematical theorems that are accepted as fact have been empirically proven beyond a reasonable doubt through induction and/or deduction.  If you think these methods are not scientific, then you may have a hard time making a self-consistent argument that Evolution by Natural Selection (as an explanation for the diversity of life on earth) is a scientific theory--which would put you in the extreme, strict Popperian minority.

I'll try to address more of your points when I get a chance.  Thanks for an interesting discussion.

Re: The God Delusion
« Reply #92 on: August 23, 2013, 10:54:03 PM »
Quote from: "GurrenLagann"
Okay, hold on there. First off all, I didn't merely claim that Dawkins' critique was erroneous, I demonstrated that by pointing out the fact that Dawkins' objection would void science because his objection would require that all explanation be explained in the terms of that which they seek to explain. Infinite regress be thy name.

This sounds suspiciously like you're saying that the methods of science cannot be proven to work using the "methods of science" because that would be a tautology--and that that therefore proves that there must be other methods of finding factual truths besides the methods of science.  I don't know where to begin debunking this claim except to say, as I did previously, that this is a favorite of Christian apologists.

Christian apologist:  "How do we know logic works?  We can't use logic to prove the efficacy of logic because that would be a tautology.  Therefore, it must be taken on faith--just like religious belief."

Well, no.  We know logic works because it ultimately leads to things like airplanes and electric razors, and such.  But isn't that a logical deduction?  Well yes, but the word "logic" encompasses more than one kind of thinking, so there's no tautology, and definitely no "faith" involved.  Logic is big tent.

That's the best I can do for the moment.  (I believe Sam Harris does a pretty good job succinctly addressing this issue in his book The Moral Landscape, but the page number escapes me.)

Re: The God Delusion
« Reply #93 on: August 24, 2013, 01:11:51 AM »
Quote from: "BugRib"
Here, I must again disagree with you.  I don't know what "mathematical ontology" is, but empiricism in all branches of mathematics is not "practically useless."  I would argue, as I have previously, that all of math is ultimately founded upon the fact that basic equations can be proven empirically, as in experimentally, as in physically.  All of the more esoteric branches of mathematics would be meaningless without this empirical foundation.

Mathematical ontology is basically referring to the question of the ontological status of mathematics. It could be simplfied as a debate between Platonism (numbers/mathematical concepts actually exist in some realm of abstract mathematical objects) and nominalism (mathematics is a mental abstraction of sets), with fictionalism (mathematics is just useful, but in no sense can be said to be "true") trailing behind those 2. It doesn't have to do with running equations. :)

Quote
I'll try to address more of your points when I get a chance.  Thanks for an interesting discussion.

No problem. :) Same to you.
Which means that to me the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can\'t give way, is the offer of something not worth having.
[...]
Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty & wisdom, will come to you that way.
-Christopher Hitchens

Re: The God Delusion
« Reply #94 on: August 24, 2013, 01:25:46 AM »
Quote from: "BugRib"
This sounds suspiciously like you're saying that the methods of science cannot be proven to work using the "methods of science" because that would be a tautology--and that that therefore proves that there must be other methods of finding factual truths besides the methods of science.  I don't know where to begin debunking this claim except to say, as I did previously, that this is a favorite of Christian apologists.

Well, close. It's not that it's a tautology, but that it's entirely contradictory. If, as you said, the only 'useful philosophical method of determining truths about reality', then that statement itself is false by it's own claim: it's a (purported) truth about reality that was not arrived at via the methods of science. But worse, it's just logical positivism, which was abandoned in the 50s because of its untenability.

Quote
Christian apologist:  "How do we know logic works?  We can't use logic to prove the efficacy of logic because that would be a tautology.  Therefore, it must be taken on faith--just like religious belief."

That sounds like a pressupositional argument. It's an annoying apologetic that misses the fact that the classical "laws" of logic are self-attesting, i.e cannot be wrong in any circumstance. They're really the onlt sort of thing that can do that.

Quote
Well, no.  We know logic works because it ultimately leads to things like airplanes and electric razors, and such.  But isn't that a logical deduction?  Well yes, but the word "logic" encompasses more than one kind of thinking, so there's no tautology, and definitely no "faith" involved.  Logic is big tent.

Hm, no. We don't know that logic works because of airplanes etc. Logic is just human-made systems of of deriving truths from axioms. There is nothing about the way reality behaves that is actually "logical", i.e there is no contradiction in saying that reality could have been such that it behaved differently, unlike with logic.

Quote
That's the best I can do for the moment.  (I believe Sam Harris does a pretty good job succinctly addressing this issue in his book The Moral Landscape, but the page number escapes me.)

Hm, I think Harris made some mistakes in that book though I liked parts of it.
Which means that to me the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can\'t give way, is the offer of something not worth having.
[...]
Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty & wisdom, will come to you that way.
-Christopher Hitchens

Offline Solitary

Re: The God Delusion
« Reply #95 on: August 24, 2013, 01:46:07 AM »
Get your torches ready! Here is my opinion about whether mathematics is a science or not:

 Mathematics is most definitely not a science. In science, it is assume that
there are a set of fundamental rules, the laws of nature,  
and the task is to figure out what the rules are by observing the
results that occur when the rules are followed. Basically, it's an
attempt to reverse-engineer the machinery of the universe.  

In math, it's the other way around. You get to choose the rules, and
the task is to discover the results of choosing any particular set of
rules. There is a superficial similarity, which leads some people to confuse
the two pursuits. In science, the way you test a theory is to codify
it as a set of rules, and then explore the consequences of those rules
- in effect, to predict what would happen if those rules were true.
   
You do the same thing in math, and in fact, the way it's done in math
serves as a model for the way it's done in science.  But here is the big difference:
In science, as soon as your predictions conflict with experimental data, you're done.
You know that your rules are wrong, and you need to start putting together a
new set.

In math, this kind of conflict can't arise, because there is no
necessary connection between any mathematical theory and the world.  
The way you test a set of rules in math is see whether the results
they produce are interesting enough to induce mathematicians to keep
playing with them.

We might summarize the situation this way: Science is the pursuit of
the correct description of our particular world; whereas math is
the pursuit of interesting descriptions of possible worlds. Whereas
scientific theories are right or wrong, mathematical theories are
merely interesting or uninteresting.  8-[  Solitary
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Re: The God Delusion
« Reply #96 on: August 25, 2013, 05:42:58 PM »
Quote from: "GurrenLagann"
Quote from: "BugRib"
This sounds suspiciously like you're saying that the methods of science cannot be proven to work using the "methods of science" because that would be a tautology--and that that therefore proves that there must be other methods of finding factual truths besides the methods of science.  I don't know where to begin debunking this claim except to say, as I did previously, that this is a favorite of Christian apologists.

Well, close. It's not that it's a tautology, but that it's entirely contradictory. If, as you said, the only 'useful philosophical method of determining truths about reality', then that statement itself is false by it's own claim: it's a (purported) truth about reality that was not arrived at via the methods of science. But worse, it's just logical positivism, which was abandoned in the 50s because of its untenability.

I don't think it's contradictory at all.  And it certainly sounds like what you're saying is basically the same as the Christian apologist example I gave.  That saying the methods of science (empiricism) are the only way we can know any facts about the universe is self-contradictory because--why, exactly?

Are you saying that it's because the above claim cannot be proven using the very methods it touts?  That's simply not true.  You can indeed prove that "the methods of science" are the only way to know any facts about the universe using those very "the methods of science" without engaging in any tautology or contradictions.  I've tried to explain why this is so in previous posts, but apparently I failed.

So, again:  What facts have we learned about the universe using something other than "the methods of science" (empiricism)?

Re: The God Delusion
« Reply #97 on: August 25, 2013, 05:58:44 PM »
Quote from: "Solitary"
Basically, it's an attempt to reverse-engineer the machinery of the universe.

I like that.  May I appropriate it if the opportunity arises?

Offline Colanth

Re: The God Delusion
« Reply #98 on: August 26, 2013, 12:58:51 AM »
Quote from: "Solitary"
Get your torches ready! Here is my opinion about whether mathematics is a science or not:

 Mathematics is most definitely not a science. In science, it is assume that
there are a set of fundamental rules, the laws of nature,  
and the task is to figure out what the rules are by observing the
results that occur when the rules are followed. Basically, it's an
attempt to reverse-engineer the machinery of the universe.
Other than "when the rules are followed".  That concept always gets my hackles up.  Physical laws aren't something that have to be "followed" or "obeyed", they're ALWAYS followed.  (When we observe a rule being "violated", we know it's time to restate the rule.)
Afflicting the comfortable for 70 years.
Science builds skyscrapers, faith flies planes into them.

 

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