Craig and Circularity

by Luke Muehlhauser on October 22, 2010 in Video,William Lane Craig

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Taranu October 22, 2010 at 7:37 am

This was a very interesting video, but I wonder if the other arguments Craig makes can be shown to point to the same being as the Kalam does even if they succeed.

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Rob October 22, 2010 at 8:02 am

Craig must be aware of the circularity of his resurrection argument. He does this sort of dishonest used-car-salesman move all the time.

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Hermes October 22, 2010 at 9:06 am

Well, he has the ‘self-authenticating holy spirit’ trump card. Everything else is just window dressing.

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Rob October 22, 2010 at 9:25 am

The end of this vid is awesome.

Craig says that even if all of his arguments fail, his personal experience trumps everything. He just “knows” he has the truth. But then what if another person’s personal experience contradicts Craig’s? What if another person just “knows” something different? Well then Craig says use his arguments to convince them! But Craig himself could never be persuaded by any arguments.

What a Jackass.

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Ken Pulliam October 22, 2010 at 9:34 am

This is an excellent video and it shows why I think that Craig and other apologists of the non-presuppositional school are really dishonest. They pretend that their faith rests on evidence and reason but in reality it rests on a religious experience, which Craig admits is indefeasible. So his religious experience is indefeasible but the religious experience of those of a different religion is not? Why not? Because Craig has already predetermined that his faith is the true one and the others therefore cannot be true.

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Torgo October 22, 2010 at 9:45 am

This video makes me think that Craig might be a closet coherentist. I’m not overly familiar with the theory, just heard the basic outlines of it. here’s what Wikipedia says:

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

I’m sure Craig would reject it, as would most people, but it might make some sense of this mess.

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Garren October 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

Torgo,

Here’s a relevant section in Moreland and Craig’s Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview.

They clearly reject a coherence theory of truth, but point out that a coherence theory of justification is compatible with a correspondence theory of truth. The latter pairing is what I hold, by the way.

I have no problem with Craig arguing defensively from coherence. After all, that’s what Plantinga spends most of his time doing. The trouble is that Craig never seems to grant the same leeway for his opponents when he argues offensively.

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Adito October 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

This video might be a little unfair towards Craig. For every one of the arguments that supposedly rests on some other argument there are multiple lines of evidence and reasoning that Craig uses to support it. If his appeal to some other line of reasoning is really all that’s keeping his argument afloat then we can follow his reasoning, discounting as we go, until we reach a point were a charge of circularity is appropriate. I don’t believe we’ve done this yet.

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MauricXe October 22, 2010 at 11:29 am

When presented with:

“Craig how is your religious experience, in this case the witness of the holy spirit, is different from say the Mormon’s?”

Craig contends that we can either:

1) Find a common ground and show how the opposition is wrong.

2) Test the claims of both spirits.

But suppose he failed 2). Would he say:

“Even if my witness of the holy spirit seemed incorrect, I am sure it would be proven true with due-diligence and time”

Thoughts?

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D'Gisraeli October 22, 2010 at 11:36 am

Please, christ, return it to the old them.

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Márcio October 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

If you proof that Jesus did not rise from the dead, that is the defeater of Christianity. The witness of the holy spirit would be a false experience and the Christian God does not exist. Very simple to falsify Christianity.

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Justfinethanks October 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Márcio:

If you proof that Jesus did not rise from the dead, that is the defeater of Christianity. The witness of the holy spirit would be a false experience and the Christian God does not exist. Very simple to falsify Christianity.

If you think that’s true, then you very much disagree with William Lane Craig, who believes that the inner witness of the holy spirit provides an “intrinsic defeater-defeater,” which he defines as a warranted claim that “defeats all on its own the conflicting claims brought against it.” That means that no matter how strong the “proof” that Jesus did not rise from the dead, even if it was seemingly undeniable, he would just claim that that the inner witness of the holy spirit is stronger. It can never be considered a “false experience.”

Here’s Craig:

What I’m claiming is that even in the face of evidence against God which we cannot refute, we ought to believe in God on the basis of His Spirit’s witness. Apostasy is never the rational obligation of any believer, nor is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. God can be trusted to provide such powerful warrant for the great truths of the Gospel that we will never be rationally obliged to reject or desert Him.

Emphasis mine.

So for you, Márcio, Christianity may indeed be falsifiable (as least in theory, if not practically). But for Craig and people who agree with him, it is certainly not. Given that fact, I think you should have no problem in joining atheists who criticize Craig for using the “witness of the Holy Spirit” as a trump card.

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cl October 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Justfinethanks,

…I think you should have no problem in joining atheists who criticize Craig for using the “witness of the Holy Spirit” as a trump card. [to Márcio]

I am – and always have been – with atheists in this regard. While the witness of the Holy Spirit may suffice for an individual’s personal justification to that individual, I don’t think it’s acceptable as a form of “evidence” in a discussion with an atheist.

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Márcio October 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Márcio:
If you think that’s true, then you very much disagree with William Lane Craig, who believes that the inner witness of the holy spirit provides an “intrinsic defeater-defeater,” which he defines as a warranted claim that “defeats all on its own the conflicting claims brought against it.”That means that no matter how strong the “proof” that Jesus did not rise from the dead, even if it was seemingly undeniable,he would just claim that that the inner witness of the holy spirit is stronger.It can never be considered a “false experience.”Here’s Craig:
Emphasis mine.So for you, Márcio, Christianity may indeed be falsifiable (as least in theory, if not practically). But for Craig and people who agree with him, it is certainly not. Given that fact, I think you should have no problem in joining atheists who criticize Craig for using the “witness of the Holy Spirit” as a trump card.  

Sorry Justfinethanks, but you are wrong. WLC does agree that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, Christianity is false.

Here is the video where he say it. Start 4:08 in the video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMxTghJQxEc

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Justfinethanks October 22, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Sorry Marcio, you’ve missed what I’ve said and still apparently misunderstand what Craig considers to be an “intrinsic defeater-defeater.”

WLC does agree that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, Christianity is false.

He certainly does. And I didn’t claim otherwise. What I did claim is that no degree of evidence or proof would ever convince him that Jesus did not rise from the dead in reality. Here’s Craig again.

So if Jesus’ bones were found, no one should be a Christian. Fortunately, there is a witness of the Holy Spirit, and so it follows logically that Jesus’ bones will not be found.

Again emphasis mine.

So if someone did indeed discover a tomb that contained bones that somehow had all the markings of belonging to Jesus himself, his thought process would just be:

P1) If those are Jesus’ bones, Christianity is false.
P2) Christianity is true (known via witness of the holy Spirit)
C) Those are not Jesus’ bones.

Boom, airtight. And it totally trumps all evidence that Jesus did not rise from the dead.

So just to be clear if you agree with Craig or not, do you agree with the statement “For the person who attends to it the witness of the Holy Spirit overwhelms the putative defeaters brought against the truths to which He bears witness. ” (what Craig claims) or do you agree with “If you proof that Jesus did not rise from the dead, that is the defeater of Christianity. The witness of the holy spirit would be a false experience and the Christian God does not exist.” (what you claimed above)?

They are mutually exclusive claims. You have to pick one or the other. And don’t worry, disagreeing with Craig won’t be the end of the world. Plenty of Christians do.

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Mazen abdallah October 22, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Must…resist…urge…to write…Greek epic-length…comment!
I have a lot of responses, but i will say that this apt youtuber has framed the KCA debate in a really easy to understand way. I finally get a lot of the more complex edges.

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cl October 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Márcio,

So if Jesus’ bones were found, no one should be a Christian. Fortunately, there is a witness of the Holy Spirit, and so it follows logically that Jesus’ bones will not be found. [Craig]

If you can’t see that this is total nonsense, I urge you to do so. Refusal to do so will only hurt your cause IMHO, and please don’t take this as “polemic” or anything like that. I enjoy reading your comments and we’re more or less in agreement on various things. I’m just saying, apologizing for shoddy apologetics hurts our case.

If in fact I’m misunderstanding you, then I apologize and await your clarification.

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DaVead October 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Hmm… it is interesting to see how Craig ties all his argument together, but I don’t think we can accuse him of any circularity. First of all, there are a lot of other arguments for A-theory of time over B-theory of time, and a lot of other reasons for interpreting relativity in accordance with A-theory. Using different arguments to support each other in different contexts is fine. You can track these arrows of support between conclusions and premises to form what might look a problematic circle, but unless you’re requiring one’s belief-set to be ordered hierarchically in some passé foundationalist chain of deduction, I think you should accept that a worldview is always held together in an elaborate web of claims. These webs will inevitably contain many circles, but unless they’re completely baseless, floating apart from the rest of the web, I don’t think they’re problematic. I can’t think of a single philosopher whose belief system you couldn’t make a similar video for..

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Rob October 22, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Da Vead,

Craig argues that the resurrection of Jesus is evidence that God exists. But, according to Craig, a precondition for thinking that Jesus resurrection is likely is a belief in God.

That’s as tight a circle as you can have.

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Alex October 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Am I right to think that all of this mess (see the quote in JFT’s 1pm post) traces back to the requirement (for Craig) that, if Christianity is true, nobody can ever justifiably be wrong about it, whereas this requirement doesn’t exist for naturalism?

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Les October 22, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Does Craig seriously not realise just how egotistical that self-authenticating mess about the Holy Spirit is? What makes HIM think that only HE (and those who agree with HIM) has the correct intuition which allows HIM to know, as fact and without requiring any external evidence outside HIMself, that the Holy Spirit HE feels in HIS heart is the genuine one from God?

Whether you’re a Christian or not, one should view such apologetics as rubbish and treat it as such.

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DaVead October 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Rob,

I don’t think we can put it so bluntly. The sense I get from Craig’s debates and books is that the resurrection argument is the final, Christianizing step of a cumulative case for God’s existence. Once bare theism is demonstrated, you then have warrant for the possibility and plausibility of miracles, and thus the historical evidence is enough to tip the scale. His non-technical presentation of the resurrection argument might suggest otherwise, but I’ve never read or heard Craig or any other philosopher pushing the resurrection argument as anything more than a strong C-inductive, Bayesian argument to top off his cumulative case. Check out Swinburne’s work to see how the argument fits in, his presentation is nice.

Circularity may come in, as was noted in Luke’s interview with McGrew, in formulating God’s existence as increasing the probability of the resurrection and the resurrection increasing the probability of God’s existence… but I think it merely sounds circular. Inductive arguments can be validly constructed this way. Example, considering these facts alone: person Y being in a NASA spacesuit increases the probability of Y being in space. Person X being in space increases the probability of X being in a NASA space suit. No circularity. But it’s never so simple. The analysis is complicated. Criticizing an analysis of Craig like this…

1. God exists.
2. If God exists, Jesus rose from the dead.
3. Jesus rose from the dead.
4. If Jesus rose from the dead, God exists.
5. Thus, God exists.

… isn’t buying you anything, trust me. There are other, better, more technical objections to the resurrection argument.

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DaVead October 22, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Craig claims: for him, the existence of God is as plain and basic as the existence of his hands. He claims to experience God immediately. Let’s assume his “experience” is actually that strong. The fact that other people don’t have this experience, even if no one had similar experiences, wouldn’t budge him a lot. Should it? Arguments from experience are impenetrable for an individual, and they should be. There’s no argument you could give me to deny my keyboard doesn’t exist, even if no one else experienced it. Craig believes (1) he experiences God, (2) thus God exists.

This isn’t dialectically or argumentatively efficient, of course not! But, really, it is extremely hard to give good arguments against (1). The fact that other people don’t experience God doesn’t do anything here… you can’t experience something’s non-existence. This is why it’s so hard to convince UFO abductees, insane people, and hallucinators that they’re wrong… even if they try to be rational! Obviously, it’s bothersome because we seem to require the possibility to convince our opponents if we’re going to engage in debate.. but… meh. All one can do is frown and talk about arguments with premises other than (1), which can be seen to be true by others.

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Steven October 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Excellent video to point out how pretty much every proof for the existence of God rests on a form of the Cosmological Argument–at least from Craig’s perspective.

On a final note, I’d like to bring attention to Craig’s defense “proof” of objective morals. If everyone considers rape a moral abomination, then why do psychopaths exists? Moreover, why is rape so common in places like Africa? It seems to me that in a place where rape is common, less and less people are inclined to think of it as being “abominable” and become more likely to participate in it. Craig then appeals to our want of equality as proof of something being “good”, but fails to realize that for the longest time, many people (especially the wealthy and elites) have felt that it is morally obvious that people SHOULDN’T be equal, hence many social hierarchies in Europe, the religious structure of Ancient India, and just about any other empire or civilization ever recorded. Furthermore, all Craig proves is that humans perceive some events as wrong, but he has to prove that objective facts exist outside of human perception for his argument that objective morals do exist for it work.

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cl October 22, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Steven,

If everyone considers rape a moral abomination, then why do psychopaths exists?

I just wrote some stuff along these lines in my most recent post, On Intrinsic Value. In short, Antisocial/Psychopathic Types [psychopathy has been deprecated since DSM-III 30 years ago] are to morality as those with Daltonism are to light perception light: both have compromised faculties of detection.

It seems to me that in a place where rape is common, less and less people are inclined to think of it as being “abominable” and become more likely to participate in it.

Of course, that’s true, but for me, the salient question is, is there any way we can make an objective assessment regardless of what anyone believes about rape? If it can be shown in normal individuals that rape produces a certain brain-state in the same way a wavelength of light produces a certain perception of color, then, isn’t that at least a useful approximation of something like “objective morality?” Can’t we just say that people who perceive the cloudless midday sky as gray are actually in error, and that similarly, people who perceive the act of rape as permissible are equally in error?

Why or why not?

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Steven October 22, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Steven,
I just wrote some stuff along these lines in my most recent post, On Intrinsic Value. In short, Antisocial/Psychopathic Types [psychopathy has been deprecated since DSM-III 30 years ago] are to morality as those with Daltonism are to light perception light: both have compromised faculties of detection.

The problem I have with this is that we can scientifically prove that light exists, we can measure it, and we understand how it works. We know it’s an electromagnetic radiation and you can say it’s a natural fact. So far, no such thing has existed for morality, and no conclusive way of investigating it has come forth. I think this is akin to comparing apples to oranges.

Of course, that’s true, but for me, the salient question is, is there any way we can make an objective assessment regardless of what anyone believes about rape? If it can be shown in normal individuals that rape produces a certain brain-state in the same way a wavelength of light produces a certain perception of color, then, isn’t that at least a useful approximation of something like “objective morality?” Can’t we just say that people who perceive the cloudless midday sky as gray are actually in error, and that similarly, people who perceive the act of rape as permissible are equally in error?Why or why not?  

Another problem is that the color “blue” doesn’t become any less blue just because other people around you suffer from Daltonism, whereas people’s morals seem to readjust themselves and adapt themselves to cultural contexts. It’s for this reason that the nature of slavery was so controversial in the America in the 1800′s but nowadays its status as being wrong is never challenged. Yet just how blue the sky is has never been a point of debate. It just seems that the analogy is flawed. Also, for this “brain-state” to prove some nature of objective morality, it would have to be shown to appear regardless of what a person is taught and what a culture approves AND it would have to be shown that this state of mind isn’t the result of some evolutionary mechanism (say, empathy) at play. Otherwise, you can rightfully assert that empathy, which is pretty much universal to humans, provides a basis for universal morals for humans who want to live in a society, but certainly not evidence for unalterable moral facts which humans are obligated to follow. Lastly, it seems that most of our natural judgments of morals are learned, and those that aren’t are directly the result of the evolution of a social animal; that is, what we observe is better explained by simple evolution and culture at play than something like objective morals.

In the end, I don’t think we cant apply the same logic of colors to morals, and even if we could, we have no way of knowing how close our own perceptions were to what the real objective morals are, meaning that no such thing as a definitive moral statement can be drawn, and the status of every single perceived “status” should be questioned, challenged and forever remain in a status of skepticism lest we assert a non-existent moral fact based on our own faulty judgments.

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Steven October 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm

One thing I forgot to add is that the wavelength of the radiation never seems to change, whereas the very nature of what is moral has changed over time and cultures. Blue has remained blue; slavery and other such acts have not always been wrong.

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DeformedMegalomaniac October 22, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Great video! I am in total agreement: Craig takes his inner awareness of the holy spirit as indefeasible and as the ultimate defeator. That trumps everything else for him. He has ‘perceived’ god and that settles it.

I know a lot of christians who do the same thing with the bible. They say that when they read it they are ‘appeared to inerrantly’ and that it just has ‘the appearance of truth’. Obviously they do the same thing with the moral argument as well. As Craig says objective morality just exists and ‘deep down we all know it’. It really puts his ‘apologetics’ in a whole new light. He hasn’t been a sincere seeker of truth since he had a religious experience as a 16 year old.

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cl October 22, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Steven,

So far, no such thing has existed for morality, and no conclusive way of investigating it has come forth. I think this is akin to comparing apples to oranges.

Of course, only if you assume “no such thing” will ever exist for morality, and that no conclusive way of investigating it will ever come forth. I’m not willing to make that assumption, whereas, it appears you are.

Another problem is that the color “blue” doesn’t become any less blue just because other people around you suffer from Daltonism, whereas people’s morals seem to readjust themselves and adapt themselves to cultural contexts.

Of course, but I’m not talking about people’s morals.

One thing I forgot to add is that the wavelength of the radiation never seems to change, whereas the very nature of what is moral has changed over time and cultures. Blue has remained blue; slavery and other such acts have not always been wrong.

Again, of course. Again, I’m not talking about people’s morals. I’m talking about the effects of certain acts on brain-states, and proffering that demonstrated correlations in that regard may be able to shed some light on the problem.

No offense, but you really didn’t respond to anything I said. Think “things that actually exist” instead of “mysterious concepts like morals” and perhaps things will fall into place.

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Steven October 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm

If everyone will pardon me making three posts in a row, and arguably derailing this conversation, it just occurred to me that even though in most circumstances “murder” seems wrong to most people, at other times, many consider the act to be good, justified, or necessary at times or may reconsider their position when rationalizing through a moral or ethical dilemma; none of this ever occurs when contemplating the color of the sky.

To illustrate this point, consider the Trolley problem. Now, if we base objective morals on what most people think and how they react to certain acts, we would say that “murder is wrong” is probably a true moral fact. Yet many ethicists contend that when you pull the lever to change the path of the trolley, you are committing murder, whereas if you do not press the lever, you don’t. But even when faced with this, most people believe that pressing the lever is justified. Either objective morality has many odd quirks and complications, where murder isn’t wrong under circumstances such as the trolley problem or what people perceive as moral is really not an indicator or objective morals, but of what they [i]feel[/i] is right. And the various other scenarios that can be added to the Trolley Problem (such as the Fat Villain) and how you deal with them varies even more from person to person. Depending on their upbringing and beliefs of justice, some may think that throwing the Fat Villain out of the trolley is morally justified, whereas others would never think of such a thing. Yet in this situation, there doesn’t seem to be any self-evident moral fact as to how humans are morally obliged to act.

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Steven October 22, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Heh, if I had just waited some more, I would have been able to expand on my views and answer your objections to my response.

Anyway:

1. If you weren’t talking about people’s morals, then what were you talking about? Perhaps you meant to say that you were talking about objective morals. If that’s the case, then let me rephrase what I said: “Another problem is that the color “blue” doesn’t become any less blue just because other people around you suffer from Daltonism, whereas these “objective morals” seem to readjust themselves and adapt themselves to cultural contexts, which seems to suggest that they are merely subjective”.

2. Ah, I see what you’re getting at. But again, I’m saying that the way the brain reacts to things seems to also vary from culture to culture and from context to context, and correlations merely the result of similar cultural values and evolutionary mechanisms. It just that if these “Brain states” that make us think of slavery as morally appalling weren’t present for many Southerners, it seems that they are the result of culture or some other subjective thing. I agree that these similar responses shed light on the problem of morals, I just disagree that they point at anything objective. Rather, they seem to indicate that humans have some common goals, needs and evolutionary reactions to specific actions, and that these entirely subjective way of approaching morals can help us develop more adequate morals for our goals.

No doubt I’m coming off as an ardent believer in subjective morals, but the fact is that only a week ago, I was leaning towards moral realism, although I’ve never really given the matter much thought.

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lukeprog October 22, 2010 at 6:16 pm

This guy has several good videos on Craig, actually.

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cl October 22, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Steven,

…the way the brain reacts to things seems to also vary from culture to culture and from context to context, and correlations merely the result of similar cultural values and evolutionary mechanisms.

How do you know? Has this been tested? To my knowledge, it has not. Sure, people’s opinions vary from culture to culture, but you seem to be merely asserting something here. More, I’m not focusing on “people’s opinions about the act,” but I think that point finally got through. Rather, I’m pondering the physiological effect various acts on people, regardless of what they say. For example, consider the rapist who says that rape is not repugnant [or desire-thwarting or whatever term you wish to use], and that there is nothing wrong with rape: does their brain-state change to one of repugnance upon learning their mother has been raped? If so, this scientific fact would seem to betray their stated opinion on rape.

While certainly not without difficulties, what good science isn’t without difficulty? It seems to me that this – or something like it – is the only possible way to connect science to morality.

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mojo.rhythm October 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Marcio,

If you proof that Jesus did not rise from the dead, that is the defeater of Christianity. The witness of the holy spirit would be a false experience and the Christian God does not exist. Very simple to falsify Christianity.

It can be expressed in one sentence, therefore it is simple.

WRONG.

How can you possibly disprove the resurrection? Offering a better explanation doesn’t disprove the resurrection, showing the purported evidence to all be sham doesn’t disprove the resurrection either. Heck even a freaking time machine would not be enough to disprove the resurrection! Some early Christians putatively believed that the body was exchanged, rather then transformed, making the discovery of bones in a tomb superfluous. All in short, the resurrection is almost impossible to disprove. The contention that Christianity can be falsified in this way is thrown out there by apologists who hope that people won’t even take two minutes to think about it.

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Mo October 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm

I have a headache right now and listening to Craig just made it worse!

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Steven October 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Cl, it hasn’t been tested but it has been observed. It’s why indigenous tribes in Papa Genia can eat the brains of their deceased elders while Westerners regard the act as morally repugnant. You also assume that morals or perception of morals aren’t people’s opinions. Beforehand, you stated that to prove objective morals, you’d have to “regardless of what anyone believes about rape”, but you went on to list the way the brain reacts to specific actions, to which I responded that the way the brain responds seems to vary based on beliefs that are vary from culture to culture and context to context (and provided the example of Slavery and the Trolley Problem to illustrate my point), so I do believe I’ve been answering your points thoroughly.

As for your example of a rapist who dislikes the idea of his own mother being raped, while compelling, is still unsatisfying. Is the rapist appalled that he lost control over something he thought he had control over, is he appalled because he believes that for whatever reason, his mother is an exception? If either of these two other alternatives for his repugnance are true, then, according to your way of determining “objective” morals, then the instance of rape wouldn’t be the wrong thing, but rather, “losing control of something you thought you had under control” or “raping people whom you hold in high regard” are both morally wrong, but not rape in and out of itself. Or, let us suppose that this rapist really does feel appalled at the act of rape itself. You’d have to prove that this is not because of some evolutionary mechanism like empathy (in which case it would be instincts that determine what objective morals are, which I find a questionable claim), but that it truly is independent of all human instinct, beliefs and learned morals.

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mojo.rhythm October 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm

BTW folks, show antybu86 (the maker of this video) some love; he has a really good blog entirely dedicated to debunking William Lane Craig. His articles are very well researched; I’ve certainly learned alot about WLC from reading him!

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mojo.rhythm October 22, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Sorry, broken link in previous, it is here .

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Sola Ratione October 22, 2010 at 10:54 pm

A CONVERSATION BETWEEN A BELIEVER AND CRAIG

B. How do I know that Christianity is true?

C. My friend, you know Christianity is true because you have experienced the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit. What this means is that, in certain contexts, you will have, through this experience, apprehended key truths of the Christian religion, such as “God exists,” “I am condemned by God,” “I am reconciled to God,” “Christ lives in me,” and so forth.

B. But how do I know that God has chosen to reveal these truths to me in this way?

C. It says so in the Bible.

B. How do I know that the Bible is true?

C. Because the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit has testified to you that it is true.

B. Right. . . . Ok, but there are all these objections against the existence of God (which includes the Holy Spirit) and I don’t know how to answer them?

C. No problem. Any arguments or evidence that might be incompatible with the existence of God, or any of the other basic truths of the Christian faith, will be overwhelmed or defeated by your experience of the Holy Spirit, if you attend fully to it.

B. Wow, that’ll save me heaps of time! I don’t have to read your books, join a ‘Reasonable Faith’ chapter, watch all your videos, or anything. Thanks a lot Dr. Craig! That’s really considerate of you to come up with a theory like that.

C. Um, yeah . . . well . . . that’s kind of you. But, you know, you could be even more certain of your faith, if you do study up on the apologetic arguments. Could come in handy as a kind of ‘top up’ in those dry times, when your experience of God maybe isn’t so ‘overwhelming’?

B. Yeah? Now you’ve got me worried again. So what happens if I’m in a dry spell, and some nasty atheist lobs an objection my way – but I can’t answer it. How can I be sure that it will be defeated by my experience of God’s Spirit within me, if it happens that I’m not fully attending to it? It sound like there’s a gap here. Couldn’t there be one or two crackers that slip under the Spirit’s radar, and blow my faith to smithereens?

C. That will never happen. In fact, it could not happen. God is all loving and all-powerful. So it would be impossible for him to put you in a situation in which the rational thing for you to do would be to reject God and Christ and separate yourself from God.

B. Whew! That’s a relief. Guess I’m covered then. . . . Except that I’m not entirely sure whether God really is all loving and all-powerful? After all, there’s so much evil in the world. Did you know that 25,000 children die every day of preventable diseases, poverty, and malnutrition? It’s a bit hard to see how an all-loving and all-powerful God could allow all that suffering, and yet jump in at a moment’s notice to make sure that I avoid having an irrational belief! Heck, I’d swallow a straight out self-contradiction if that would save a child’s life.

C. I see what you mean. But the thing is, you can still know that God is all-loving and all-powerful, even though you don’t know how to answer these kind of tricky problems. And the reason why . . .

B. No wait, let me see if I can do it: ‘The reason why is because God is described as all-loving and all-powerful in the Bible, and one of the basic truths of Christianity that I apprehended when I experienced the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit is that the Bible is the Word of God.’ How’s that!?

C. Excellent! You’re starting to get the hang of it now.

B. Thanks. My head’s spinning a little, but I guess I’ll get used to it. Just one last question: what about non-believers? If they don’t have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, doesn’t that mean they can never get to know that Christianity is true? That seems a bit unfair.

C. Not at all! They don’t receive the Holy Spirit because they don’t want to submit their life to God. They prefer the darkness to the light. So they willfully ignore and reject the drawing of God’s Spirit on their hearts. If they were truly open-minded and seeking God, then the Spirit would convince them of the truth of the gospel message. That’s what the Bible tells us.

B. So non-believers kinda know, at some level, that God is really there. They’re just throwing up an intellectual smokescreen so that they can pretend he doesn’t exist – which is why the Spirit doesn’t even get a look in.

C. That’s right. And the best thing is that, whatever arguments these non-believers throw at you, you can know, in advance, that they must be mistaken or flawed in some way – even if you can’t see what that mistake or flaw is.

B. Because Christianity is true.

C. Absolutely! There’s no way for the critics to get in, and there’s no way for you to get out.

B. Man, this is all just so liberating!

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Steven Carr October 23, 2010 at 12:18 am

What is Craig’s religious experience?

According to his own testimony, he cried a lot. Then he felt better after having had this good cry.

Then he went outside and saw a lot of stars in the sky.

‘I remember I rushed outdoors—it was a clear, mid-western, summer night, and you could see the Milky Way stretched from horizon to horizon. As I looked up at the stars, I thought, “God! I’ve come to know God!”

That moment changed my whole life.’

So don’t bother telling me that Craig’s religious experiences are valid.

He makes a lot of high-faluting claims about experiencing the Holy Spirit, when all he did was see some stars in the sky.

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Steven Carr October 23, 2010 at 12:30 am

‘Craig’
My friend, you know Christianity is true because you have experienced the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit.

CARR
Who is the self who authenticates this witness?

William Lane Craig is the person who tells people whether their witness is self-authenticating or not, not they themselves.

Craig means ‘Craig-authenticated witness of the Holy Spirit.’ Craig decides what is false witness and what is true witness.

If Craig sees some stars , that is a true witness of the Holy Spirit.

Because Craig says it is.

There was a time when Craig’s alleged god used to write on walls. Now all we have is people looking at stars and declaring they have come to know God.

Has this alleged god forgotten how to write? Has he mastered English? Why is he is dumb as any statue of Buddha? Because Craig’s god is as much an idol as any statue of Buddha?

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Les October 23, 2010 at 12:38 am

I find it funny when an apologetic makes truth claims about things we as yet aren’t able to test and which, on mere observation, actually refute a portion of his claims.

Indeed, some things are “possible” before we can test them however it’s one thing viewing something as a possibility and it’s quite another asseting it’s true. This is where the slippery slope to the “God did it” problem starts. A case in point is the whole morality question…

Are we able (as yet) to test Craig’s claim of objective morality? From where I stand, the answer is no. Does observation make Craig’s claim a possibility then? Well, there are arguments that support his claim but equally so, there are also arguments that reject his claim.

So please people, can someone please tell me just how one can just just from this conundum and then assert that objective morality is a fact? Is this where the self-authenticating Holy Spirit comes in as a judge?

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Les October 23, 2010 at 12:42 am

So please people, can someone please tell me just how one can just just from this conundum and then assert that objective morality is a fact? Is this where the self-authenticating Holy Spirit comes in as a judge?  (Quote)

Correction:

“So please people, can someone tell me how one can just jump from this conundum and then assert that objective morality is a fact? Is this where the self-authenticating Holy Spirit comes in as a judge?”

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Steven Carr October 23, 2010 at 12:42 am

Objective morals?

It isn’t objectively wrong if your imaginary god tells you to do it.

Objectively wrong things transform magically into objectively right things if God says so, just as Craig would believe ‘black’ becomes ‘white’ if God says black is white.

If God says rape is right, Craig would then have a duty to rape people, and he would claim it is ‘morally obligatory’ for him to rape people, because his god has commanded him to rape.

CRAIG
On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command.

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mojo.rhythm October 23, 2010 at 12:48 am

What if Yahweh issued a command to Craig for Craig to disobey his commands?

Seems Craig would be at a little bit of an impasse there…

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Steven Carr October 23, 2010 at 12:53 am

MOJO
What if Yahweh issued a command to Craig for Craig to disobey his commands?

CARR
I don’t know.

Does Craig ever say anywhere that he hears voices or sees messages in the clouds?

I don’t know how this god communicates with Craig.

Telepathy? Or does Craig hear voices in his head telling him to do certain things?

How does this Holy Spirit ‘witness’ when it is as silent as any statute of Shiva?

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Hermes October 23, 2010 at 5:52 am

I don’t know how this god communicates with Craig.

Adding to that, I don’t think he addresses how he dismisses other deities or if he just doesn’t consider them. Even if his experience is based in something else and not a quirk of neurology or just standard awe and wonder, how does he know he isn’t experiencing a ‘self-authenticating’ message from the one true pantheon — the Greek gods — and not his false Christian multiple personality deity?

It’s all by assertion, without the possibility that he could be misattributing the source.

Meanwhile, unchallenged and unchanged, the same thing could be said about any other ‘self-authenticating’ experience.

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cl October 23, 2010 at 11:41 am

Steven,

…I responded that the way the brain responds seems to vary based on beliefs that are vary from culture to culture and context to context (and provided the example of Slavery and the Trolley Problem to illustrate my point), so I do believe I’ve been answering your points thoroughly.

And, my response was – and is – that those don’t illustrate the point. Illustrating that people have differing opinions about morality is not the same as illustrating that people don’t have identical brain-state responses to external stimuli. It could very well be that empirically detectable processes occur in the brain which would contradict the agent’s stated position about the act. For example, I might “believe” that shooting up contributes to my well-being based on any one of who-knows-how-many possible arguments and feelings, but the real question – the scientific question – remains: is there an answer outside arguments and feelings? Is there an empirical answer?

Is the rapist appalled that he lost control over something he thought he had control over, is he appalled because he believes that for whatever reason, his mother is an exception?

I don’t know. Those are precisely the things any scientific explanation of “morality” would have to consider. That questions remain doesn’t seal the deal for objective morality at all. I’m simply tossing out options in response to the question, “If morality is in fact more than human opinion, how might we test it?” Especially considering your first three responses, it feels like you feel the need to “refute” what I’m saying, but, I’m just trying to put more on the table for further consumption.

Even so, I appreciate your participation, but I’ve said about all that I have to say on the matter here. If you want to discuss it further, you know where to find me.

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No October 23, 2010 at 12:06 pm

If you proof that Jesus did not rise from the dead, that is the defeater of Christianity. The witness of the holy spirit would be a false experience and the Christian God does not exist. Very simple to falsify Christianity.

See, this is nonsense due to the fact that there is no possible means of positively proving that Jesus did not rise from the dead. The plasticity of Christian theology basically means that any proof presented will be rejected and covered by some bull-shit explanation.

It’s basically the same crap that Behe said about intelligent design being falsifiable if irreducible complexity was debunked. Yet, Behe himself said that if that were to happen, he’d still maintain that God just guided along natural selection and random mutation.

It’s wonderful. They pull a stunt like “Oh, I’ll stop believing if this happened” yet they bloody-well know that that isn’t true.

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Paul October 23, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Hey! Ireall ejoyed watching that video. I think t exposes some weaknesses in Craigs arguments for some conclusions, but it does not do so for all of them. E.g., Crag gives further reasons to deny Einstein’s interpretations elsewhere and Craig does offer arguments against the multiverse that this video didn’t make. Also, Lydia and Tim Mcgrew,I think,deal with the circularity charge very well in their article.

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Hermes October 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm

It’s wonderful. They pull a stunt like “Oh, I’ll stop believing if this happened” yet they bloody-well know that that isn’t true.

Well said.

While I don’t begrudge them their beliefs, I do find it puzzling that they promote logic and facts (wrongly or rightly) as supporting their case, but they don’t use either in their own calculations to reach their own beliefs.

I’d find it refreshing if theists would just say what they personally find convincing for them of their own theistic beliefs. If they don’t mention it because they do not think it would convince me, don’t insult me by bringing up some other nonsense that even they don’t need. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

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Rob October 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Somewhere I read Plantinga’s description of his holy ghost experience. When he reads the bible, he just gets a strong feeling that what he is reading is true.

Unfortunately for Plantinga, a feeling that something is true is not a reliable guide to truth. See this excellent book:

http://www.amazon.com/Being-Certain-Believing-Right-Youre/dp/0312359209

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Mike Young October 23, 2010 at 2:19 pm

The argument is not circular as this symobolic formulation demonstrates:
1.\/x(Bx → Cx)
2. [Bu]
3. [Bu → Cu] 1, universal instantiation

Therefor :
4. [Cu], 2, 3, modus ponens

Craig does not use the existence of God to demonstrate the neo-lorentzian view of relativity, he only said that if it were true it would settle the issue. He has an entire book that he has written the Luke is aware of but will never actually read that makes the argument for an A-Theory of time. Which, by the way, we we could still get (along with the neo-lorentzian view) without the existence of God. Quinten Smith is an A-theorist and an atheist and wrote a book about it, which you will never read, called language and time.

Read. please, please, please…read.

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Mike Young October 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I should also mention, that I have not read Quinten Smiths book either, but i have read the relevant journal articles on this point namely:

Smith, Quentin, 1991, “The New Theory of Reference Entails Absolute Time and Space”, Philosophy of Science, vol. 58, no. 3, pp. 411-416.

and

Smith, Quentin, 1998, Absolute Simultaneity and the Infinity of Time, in (ed.) Robin Le Poidevin, Questions of Time and Tense. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 135-183.

Again….A-Theory of time….no God.

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Hermes October 23, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Mike Young, why should the opinions of philosophers be taken over the consensus of physicists?

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Steven October 23, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Rob, whenever someone says something like that to prove the Bible, I like to pull up this quote from none other than Gandhi:

“Hinduism as I know it entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being…When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and when I see not one ray of light on the horizon, I turn to the Bhagavad Gita, and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. My life has been full of tragedies and if they have not left any visible and indelible effect on me, I owe it to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.”

It seems as if Gandhi experience the same thing regarding a different text.

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mojo.rhythm October 23, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Mike,

Quentin Smith is a terrific philosopher and an extremely smart guy (Luke get him on CPBD!). I’ve always wondered why he is a presentist.

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lukeprog October 23, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Mike,

Thanks for the references.

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toweltowel October 24, 2010 at 12:51 am

The analysis is complicated. Criticizing an analysis of Craig like this…

1. God exists.
2. If God exists, Jesus rose from the dead.
3. Jesus rose from the dead.
4. If Jesus rose from the dead, God exists.
5. Thus, God exists.

… isn’t buying you anything, trust me.

Why not? Suppose all other theistic arguments fail. And suppose the resurrection argument is rationally persuasive only for theists. In that case, the argument clearly begs the question against nonbelievers. What am I missing?

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Gil S. October 24, 2010 at 2:36 am

A respectful and interesting video but fails to recognize a few things. For example, Craig has argued against the B-Theory of Time in his book Time & Eternity for philosophical and scientific reasons. It seems that he missed this somehow because I very much doubt that Craig means to argue in such a circular manner.

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Hermes October 24, 2010 at 5:28 am

Gil, I could argue against a great many things I’m not an expert in. Why should I take his word for B-theory or A-theory when I can consult the consensus of physicists? Additionally, Craig himself mentioned that he’s not interested in the facts presented by others as he already has the ‘self-authenticating experience of the holy spirit’.

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mojo.rhythm October 24, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Craig argues for the A-theory in the ridiculously overpriced “Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity”. According to Carrier, “he [Craig] advances his own new theory of relativity to replace Einstein’s, IMO all simply to restore A-Theory without having to deny the evidence and math of established Relativity Theory”.

It’s the height of denial to think that Craig spent nearly a decade of his entire life dragging his balls through a mile of broken glass, performing intellectual backflips and hang tens on a broken surf board in order to make an A-theory framework for Special Relativity because he found A-theory so damned persuasive. No. He is an evangelist. That’s all. He needs Yahweh to be real, and Yahweh doesn’t tango with a block universe.

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Stephen Levine October 25, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Oy Veys Mir

Craig’s philosophy can be summed up very succinctly: I believe, therefore it is.

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DaVead October 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm

toweltowel,

I agree with you to an extent, but only if we, as you rightly condition your statement, “suppose all other theistic arguments fail.” This is why I said that in the professional philosophical dialectic the resurrection argument is used a strong C-inductive, Bayesian argument that tops off and Christianizes the cumulative case for God’s existence. Every popular presentation of any philosophical view, when taken out of the context of the ivory tower, can be subject to criticism that seems equally as devestating at the objections raised against Craig’s “deductive” resurrection argument here.

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Patrick October 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm

William Lane Craig: Here is a fine table. You should buy it! Its been made with five strong legs, which together create a cumulative case for the proposition that this table will not collapse when you put your dinner onto it.

Customer: The fourth leg is broken in half.

William Lane Craig: These table legs are a cumulative case, my dear sir. The other four legs are unbroken. That makes it likely that this table will not break. If this table will not break, it is likely that its legs are unbroken. Therefore it is likely that the fourth leg is not broken in half.

Customer: But I’m looking at it right now. Its broken.

William Lane Craig: I’ve just proven that its probably not.

Customer: No, it definitely is. Whether its broken or not has nothing to do with the other legs. It can be broken all on its own.

William Lane Craig: Not if you affirm the consequent. I mean, use Bayes, which is TOTALLY DIFFERENT. Also my arguments are deductive. But I can still use probabilistic reasoning on them because if you say I can’t I’ll accuse you of solipsism.

Customer: What? Look, lets go back to the beginning. A cumulative case is a series of arguments which each inductively support a single conclusion. The idea is that even if each individual argument is unable to convince you, collectively they may be successful.

William Lane Craig: Yes, what of it?

Customer: You seem to be confused about how this works. If someone shoots down one part of a cumulative case, that doesn’t necessarily defeat the conclusion because the conclusion is probabilistically supported by multiple inductive arguments. All they’ve accomplished is lessening the overall inductive strength of your argument, which doesn’t necessarily render your argument weak (although it might). If you begin with ten strong arguments for something, and it turns out that the tenth wasn’t that great, you still have nine strong arguments.

William Lane Craig: No, you have ten.

Customer: No, you have nine. The arguments do not reinforce each other, they reinforce the conclusion.

William Lane Craig: Right, and since the conclusion is supported, the argument that advances it is supported.

Customer: No, its not. Look at the table leg. Its broken. The fact that the table still has plenty of legs doesn’t unbreak it.

William Lane Craig: Yes it does.

Customer: Why are you selling five legged tables anyways?

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Mike Young October 31, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Hermes
Being a b-theorist because a majority of physicists say so hold it is a blatant ad populum fallacy. Besies which physicists opinions are irrelevant here because they are doing science, and science requires that things be testable, and anything that is untestable is in fact, not science. It is conceptually impossible to devise any test at all that would settle the dispute between A-theorists and B-theorist (if you can think of a way to test it and get repeatable results do it and win your nobel prize). Given that all the arguments both for and against A and B theories are purely conceptual and mathematical arguments, and given that philosophers are the ones who do all the work on conceptual development of logic (and they do a lot of work in math as well) when dealing with an argument which is conceptual it is best to rely with philosophers.

Besides which B-theories of time make assumptions which are not coherent.

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howjewdoin@hotmail.com October 31, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Patrick if even one of Craigs arguments work, then God exists. lrn2 logic.

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Hermes October 31, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Mike Young, I knew it when I wrote it. That said, given a set of non-experts or experts, why should I go with nobody at all? Aren’t the experts in the specific field more likely to know what they are talking about and then from that point — importantly — we can discuss those expert opinions instead of going with what any non-expert would want to claim as well?

I don’t see how philosophers can use brute force to gain the expert slot over physicists. They by definition know less about QM, and even if some subset are shown equally competent we would have to consult that group as well not just some hypothetical group of potential philosophers.

This is not to say that any scientist is superior to any philosopher, but it does not conversely gain the philosopher parity let alone superiority just because they aren’t a scientist.

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Mike Young November 1, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Yes, but if your a B-Theorist Quentin Smith is going to take away your theory of reference and then what?

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Hermes November 2, 2010 at 8:33 am

Is Quentin Smith a physicist, let alone does he focus as a physicist on quantum mechanics? I thought he was a philosopher.

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Mike Young November 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Yes, He is a philosopher, and he will take your theory of reference. By that I mean this, if you want to talk about how words refer to objects you need a theory of how names refer, and any B-Theory of time destroys any theory of how names refer. See the paper I cited above.

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Hermes November 3, 2010 at 3:41 pm

It’s not my theory. I don’t discount Smith’s skills or knowledge, but I’d like to see him convince the physicists. I am interested in the case where that the best informed experts — the ones that apply their ideas to reality — have settled mainly on B-Theory not A-Theory.

The physicists by necessity must go with what allows their dependent theories and applications of those dependent theories to gain coherence and predictive results. Unless, that is, time is not an issue to physicists, though that doesn’t seem to match my admittedly meager understanding of the issues.

Now, I have heard one actual physicist post here that they use both A-Theory and B-Theory, but (from memory) even that application was cautiously applied and not arbitrary where the two are interchangeable depending on whim. If that physicist is here, I’d like to know what they think on that acceptance of both A and B.

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Mike Young November 4, 2010 at 12:31 am

Smith is applying his ideas to reality. He is actually saying that the B-Theory of time is incoherent and cannot make sense of language. That is not some arbitrary thing that no one cares about. Your ability to refer is a very big deal and if Smith is right your ability to refer to entities in the world is a defeater for B-Theories of time.
It is not enough for a B-theory to be able to proved some solutions to some obscure matters (or even unobscure matters) in physics. It had better not contradict the rest of our knowledge about the world. Physicists are going to have a hell of a time if smith is right cause they are going to have to come up with a way for us to talk about objects without referring to them…which is impossible.

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Hermes November 4, 2010 at 4:12 am

Why would anything have to ‘make sense of language’? Language arises out of necessity and from our perspectives, leaving us blind of reality that can be approached from different paths. It comes after we figure out the less intuitive aspects of reality so that we can get a handle on what is real.^^^ In other words; “in the beginning there wasn’t the word.” That we care about language doesn’t make it beholden on reality to bend to our wants.

The issue is that if B-Theory didn’t coherently apply to actual research, regardless of how it is described on a page, it should not be adopted by the primary experts. Yet, it is adopted and actually applied, regardless of how non-intuitive it might be and hard or impossible (Smith’s assertion) to describe in language. So, as it applies to reality and other theories that depend on it, Smith’s objection seems to be deeply semantical and not actual unless you aren’t conveying what he intended.

—-

^^^. Detailed examples removed; I’ll provide them if necessary as they require references and links that would detract from the main point.

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Hermes November 4, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Mike Young, I hope we don’t end up going around and around on this.

* If Smith has a point, he has to convince the experts, or they have to come to a similar conclusion on their own. Till that happens, if it happens, I don’t see why I — an outside observer — should agree with his objections and not the experts. Why should I even consider them? Why should anyone?

It almost seems as if a word game is being used to support a conspiracy theory-style proposal in this case. I am not referring to Smith’s efforts, but those who are eager to promote Smith’s efforts and by extension Craig’s efforts over the subject matter experts on such an obscure topic.

It reminds me vaguely of the hand waving calculations that Kent Hovind promotes about dinosaurs, the world wide flood from Genesis, and the nonsense water canopy or ice dome. This is just more obscure and as such is sheltered by that obscurity — and non-expert ignorance — to make it seemingly less absurd.

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Mike Young November 7, 2010 at 12:04 pm

In this case the experts are Philosophers. Second he doesn’t have to convince even a single person of anything in order to be right. Third, you haven’t read the argument obviously because your bit about language has nothing to do with Smith’s argument. I will know you have read the argument when you begin to talk about Rigid Designators and referring across possible worlds. You need to realize that just because a group of physicists unanimously agree on some point that helps them to explain some aspect of a theory, does not mean they are right. Especially when that theory destroys the existence of things that are much better understood and agreed upon, Like rigid designators, and our theory of reference.

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Hermes November 7, 2010 at 1:20 pm

In this case the experts are Philosophers.

Where were the philosophers when the physicists were figuring out QM?

Why didn’t they intuit or otherwise think up such a thing prior to the physicists?

Second he doesn’t have to convince even a single person of anything in order to be right.

Correct. Yet, before I see a need to take his ideas as the best available evidence on the subject, he does have to convince the subject matter experts who have other ideas on the subject; the physicists.

Third, you haven’t read the argument obviously because your bit about language has nothing to do with Smith’s argument.

I am responding to your take on it, and if I remember right I made a point that you might have conveyed Smith’s ideas incorrectly or incompletely. That is not Smith’s fault, yet I see no reason why I am obligated to learn Smith’s paper when the subject matter experts — the physicists — aren’t saying similar things to what Smith says. I’d be better off learning more about what they think than what he thinks.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Smith agrees with the physicists and what I’ve heard is not enough to understand that.

Beyond your assertion that a specific set of philosophers are the experts on these issues, can you give me a reason why I should take your word for it and not those of people who actually apply their theories and formulas to reality?

Throw me a bone here. I’m not going to go around in circles doing “Is too!”/”Is not!” when the real issue is you asserting you have the right take on things and then demanding that I do the work of knowing your case first. No. Sorry. Your say so isn’t enough to shift the burden. It’s your claim, you support it using your own efforts.

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Hermes November 7, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Note that a few people mentioned Mr. Smith as someone who supports the idea that the universe and reality came from nothing by nothing for nothing. (Source: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=11046 ) Yet, when I dug through the quote I could not find him saying that but that it was a bit more convoluted, and that he at best might have meant that our consciousness or some other fundamental part of who we are came from nothing by nothing for nothing; a different comment entirely regardless of how valid or invalid any of his comments are.

So, without digging through your preferred source material and ignoring the consensus of physicists, I already have suspicions that Mr. Smith is being either misquoted or his meanings are mis-attributed even before I have a reason to consider him to be a source that is insightful and reliably tracks and engages with reality.

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mojo.rhythm November 7, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Hermes,

Smith does not believe that the universe popped into existence out of nothing. He believes that the universe is a self-caused entity, meaning that he thinks every time slice in the universe can be caused by an immediately preceding time slice because there is no actual time t=0. If I thought A-theory was right, I would adopt this view. He makes a pretty persuasive case for it.

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Hermes November 7, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Mojo, thanks. What I read didn’t make sense, so it’s good to have some clarification of what he actually thought. The extra bit about A-theory snaps it into relief. Excellent. I get it.

When I attempted to track down the nothing nothing nothing quotes, they all pointed back to some dialog with William Lane Craig or a quote of Smith’s that was provided without any context (one that was Smith commenting on what Heidegger thought, not necessarily what Smith himself thought).

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Mike Young November 11, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Smith has a website, I link to it in an earlier post. And, by the way, The philosphers have a great deal to say about QM. Physicists are dong the data mining, which is an important job, but the philosophers are doing the conceptual refereeing. Philosophers will be the judge of whether or not the physicists view of the world is coherent or not, and it will be philosophers who will be able to tell if the physicists are using concepts incorrectly. Which, by the way, happens all the time. Einstein made a great number of mistake because of his positivism, mistake rooted out by philosophers.

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Hermes November 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Thanks Mike. Note that I am not rejecting your point of view. Philosophers can indeed add to the conversation, though not as the primary drivers or the primary sources for determining what is most likely or is supported by evidence.

Maybe we will agree precisely on some other subject if not this one?

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