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dangerous idea

This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics, C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.

Updated: 2017-11-19T23:12:52.286-07:00


Mark Linville on an atheist retort to religious morality


A common atheist retort: "Would you rape, pillage, and plunder if you did not have the Bible to tell you not to?"
The implication is that this would be a superficial morality. And it would indeed.
Reply: Theists and atheists alike refrain from such acts because conscience tells them that it is wrong. The question is whether they have equally good explanations for why we should suppose that conscience is a reliable guide to truth.

The Price of Evangelical Support for Trump



Ortega y Gasset on science and its limits


“Scientific truth is characterized by its precision and the certainty of its predictions. But science achieves these admirable qualities at the cost of remaining on the level of secondary concerns, leaving ultimate and decisive questions untouched.”

José Ortega y Gasset, “El origen deportivo del estado.” Citius, Altius, Fortius9, no. 1-4 (1967): 259-76.
I guess that makes him a darned science denier. 

Hinman on the fine-tuning argument



A fundamentalist after all? Dawkins on what would change his mind


"Passion for passion, an evangelical Christian and I may be evenly matched. But we are not equally fundamentalist. The true scientist, however passionately he may 'believe', in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will."
- Richard Dawkins, "How dare you call me a fundamentalist" (2007) 

From 2015: 

Boghossian: What would it take for you to believe in God?
Dawkins: I used to say it would be very simple. It would be the Second Coming of Jesus or a great, big, deep, booming, bass voice saying “I am God.” But I was persuaded, mostly by Steve Zara, who is a regular contributor to my website. He more or less persuaded me that even if there was this booming voice in the Second Coming with clouds of glory, the probable explanation is that it is a hallucination or a conjuring trick by David Copperfield. He made the point that a supernatural explanation for anything is incoherent. It doesn’t add up to an explanation for anything. A non-supernatural Second Coming could be aliens from outer space.

Was the Texas shooter motivated by atheism?



Well, why couldn't atheist hatred and fanaticism lead someone to violence? Would anyone have any trouble believing it of Muslim or anti-abortion fanatics? And atheist leaders do spew real hatred.

When ideology develops into hatred, it opens the door to the possibility of violence. It doesn't matter what the ideology is.

The Bible on Justice


An animation. 

The real point: C. S. Lewis and the Question of Truth



The real question is whether Christianity is true, not if it is useful or good for people to have.

How Euthyphro Challenges us all


A paper presented by Richard Klaus at Glendale Community College, which I attended.

A tweet from Brett Kunkle


If you think marriage & sex are primarily a means to self-fulfillment, you do NOT have a on these matters.

Why science will not destroy religion



Understanding the Trinity


By Peter Williams. Here. 

Why Keith Parsons is a (free speech) fundamentalist


Here. Cheers Keith! But see also this discussion from here.

Feser on the argument from indeterminacy


Here.  Please also follow the link to his essay in the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly.


Why mental states are not emergent the way solidity is


Are mental states emergent in the same sense that solid states are, or that living states are? Hal and David have been arguing this.

Solidity is not written into the laws of physics, yet, if the particles are configured in a certain way, we have something solid. Similarly, if certain configurations of the physical obtain, an object can be said to be living, even if life is not part of basic physics.

So similarly, "Believes that P" or even "infers P from Q"  are not part of physics, but given certain configurations of the physical, these can still be true of wholly physical human beings.

I think there is a critical difference.In the first cases, someone who knew enough physics could close the question of whether something was solid or not. If I move, am capable of reproduction, if I have a DNA code, etc. if my physics fits all these descriptions, then it becomes simply incoherent to suggest that I'm really not alive.

But in the case of minds it is different. Someone can have no outward behavioral criteria for, say, dreaming that Trump won the election (when election day hadn't happened yet). This happened to me. No one looking at me could have surmised that that was what I was dreaming about, but that inner state, and my memory of that, tells me I was dreaming about Trump winning.

Given the physical, the mental is indeterminate. But we are in determinate mental states, otherwise logic would not work. Therefore the mental is something over and above the physical.

Sure, I'm a materialist!: On defining the supernatural


Suppose I said this: 

Sure, I'll accept that the mind is a physical thing. What I find unreasonable is to suppose that laws of physics presently understood account for the activity of reasoning, because the laws of physics make no reference to reasons and logic. The laws of physics as we currently understand them do not include these in the fundamental laws of physics. There must be some laws that physics has not yet discovered which account for the activity of the mind. 

Eventually we may find out the laws of physics that govern the activity of God. We just don't know what those are yet. But it's only supernatural from the point of view of present physics, in much the way that relativity is supernatural from the point of view of Newtonian mechanics. 

I'm not putting an artificial wall up and say what science may or may not someday discover. If you want to say that in order to call something physical it has to be such and such, and what you are describing cannot be physical, then you have defined the supernatural for me.

C. S. Lewis on homosexuality at his public school


It is interesting that Lewis doesn't think that the main source of what would now be called homophobia is Christian at all. The Wyvernians seem to me in retrospect to have been the least spontaneous, in that sense the least boyish, society I have ever known. It would perhaps not be too much to say that in some boys’ lives everything was calculated to the great end of advancement. For this games were played; for this clothes, friends, amusements, and vices were chosen.And that is why I cannot give pederasty anything like a first place among the evils of the Coll. There is much hypocrisy on this theme. People commonly talk as if every other evil were more tolerable than this. But why? Because those of us who do not share the vice feel for it a certain nausea, as we do, say, for necrophily? I think that of very little relevance to moral judgment. Because it produces permanent perversion? But there is very little evidence that it does. The Bloods would have preferred girls to boys if they could have come by them; when, at a later age, girls were obtainable, they probably took them. Is it then on Christian grounds? But how many of those who fulminate on the matter are in fact Christians? And what Christian, in a society as worldly and cruel as that of Wyvern, would pick out the carnal sins for special reprobation? Cruelty is surely more evil than lust and the World at least as dangerous as the Flesh. The real reason for all the pother is, in my opinion, neither Christian nor ethical. We attack this vice not because it is the worst but because it is, by adult standards, the most disreputable and unmentionable, and happens also to be a crime in English law. The world may lead you only to Hell; but sodomy may lead you to jail and creat a scandal, and lose you your job. The World, to do it justice, seldom does that.If those of us who have known a school like Wyvern dared to speak the truth, we should have to say that pederasty, however great an evil in itself, was, in that time and place, the only foothold or cranny left for certain good things. It was the only counterpoise to the social struggle; the one oasis (though green only with weeds and moist only with fetid water) in the burning desert of competitive ambition. In his unnatural love affairs, and perhaps only there, the Blood went a little out of himself, forgot for a few hours that he was One of the Most Important People There Are. It softens the picture. A perversion was the only chink left through which something spontaneous and uncalculating could creep in. Plato was right after all. Eros, turned upside down, blackened, distorted, and filthy, still bore the traces of his divinity.[...]

Gardens, Fairies, gardeners and owners


Also from John Lennox's God's Undertaker, p. 40.

Richard Dawkins makes this point in dedicating his book The God
Delusion to the memory of Douglas Adams with a quote: ‘Isn’t it enough
to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are
fairies at the bottom of it?’

The fact that you can think about fairies and be enchanted or terrified
by them does not mean that they exist. The scientists of whom we are
speaking, therefore, are (often, but not always, as we have seen) happy to
let people go on thinking about God and religion if they want to, as long
as they do not claim that God has any objective existence, or that religious
belief constitutes knowledge. In other words, science and religion can
peacefully co-exist as long as religion does not invade the realm of science.
For only science can tell us what is objectively true; only science can
deliver knowledge. The bottom line is: science deals with reality, religion
does not.

Certain elements of these assumptions and claims are so outlandish that
they call for immediate comment. Take the Douglas Adams quote cited by
Dawkins above. It gives the game away. For it shows that Dawkins is guilty
of committing the error of proposing false alternatives by suggesting that
it is either fairies or nothing. Fairies at the bottom of the garden may well
be a delusion, but what about a gardener, to say nothing about an owner?
The possibility of their existence cannot be so summarily dismissed – in
fact, most gardens have both.

The argument from DNA


Here.  Oh, and can we skip the "Flew didn't write his book" discussion? This is an argument, so focus on that, not the personalities.

William Hasker's Principle C


In William Hasker’s essay, “Transcendental Refutation of Determinism,” he presents principle C, which says
            C) For a person to be justified in accepting a conclusion, the reasoning process must be guided by rational insight based on the principles of sound reasoning.
But if naturalism is true, physical laws govern the world, and people will think and conclude in accordance with the principles of sound reasoning only if physical law (or physical law combined with quantum chance), determine that they will reason soundly. Therefore, Hasker concludes, in a physicalist world, the principles of sound reasoning are inoperative, and condition C is not satisfied.20
Brain processes are physical events. They occur in accordance with the laws of physics, and the laws of reason and evidence do not explain brain processes as physical events. Our brains follow the laws of physics automatically, we obey the laws of logic or laws of evidence, when we do, only when the laws of physics (together with the prior facts) dictate that they do so. We may possibly act in accordance with reason, but never, as Kant would say, from reason. Given this, William Hasker's conclusion principle C applies: the laws of logic and evidence, or as he puts it, the principles of sound reasoning, are inoperative.