News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on April 7, 2010 in News

Excellent site on The Evolution of Morality.

A list of God-approved killings in the Bible.

Rather than answer the same objections about desirism again and again, I’ve decided my time is better spent doing the research and writing that needs to be done to present desirism with the precision and care required for peer-review. So while I’ll inevitably mention desirism, I won’t defend it much here anymore until I can present it with precision. Luckily, faithlessgod recently wrote a post with some more detail on Why consider all desires that exist?

James White is upset that Bart Ehrman so badly beat Craig Evans in their recent debate. It’s an unusual debate format, but I like it quite a bit. It’s a series of questions, and each speaker gets about 5 minutes to respond to each. Lots of information that way, but a bit less back-and-forth.

Paper of the week: George Nakhnikian – “On Plantinga’s 1967 and 1983 Parity Defenses” (1996).

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

exapologist April 7, 2010 at 10:19 pm

You must’ve been reading my mind. I was just about to blog on Nakhnikian’s paper, and how it’s a shame that it’s seldom discussed. Excellent, penetrating piece.

  (Quote)

Alex April 7, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Trying to get desirism peer-reviewed sounds like a great idea; after all having some experts (finally) examine the theory can only be a good thing. Quite frankly I expect it to fail spectacularly at the first sign of expert scrutiny, but I’m prepared to be surprised.

  (Quote)

Beelzebub April 8, 2010 at 2:10 am

Just incidentally, I found this Youtube of Dennett on Craig interesting:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wb10QvaHpS4&feature=related

  (Quote)

Christof Jans April 8, 2010 at 3:46 am

@Beelzebub. Thx for that link. Dennett said many things that I “felt” about William Lane Craig, but I would never have been able to articulate it so clearly.

  (Quote)

Cyril April 8, 2010 at 4:11 am

I don’t think that faithlessgod fully answered the question. In the introduction to his post, he introduced the claim that “Alonzo moving from thwarting-my-desires to thwarting-any/all-desires” is merely an assertion, but then faithlessgod only answers the 4 objections listed after that.

I think answering such questions was the intention of Mr. Fyfe’s post about the creatures gathering and scattering stones, but that only went so far as the desires that the community was able to influence (through the pills), a proposition which Kip had already accepted in the above post.

So I think that the main objection of the above paper (an, ind my mind, one of the main objections to desirism itself) remains unanswered.

  (Quote)

Gregg April 8, 2010 at 4:16 am

I look forward to your writings on desirism, Luke! Your hard work and dedication to your writings and podcasts is admirable and greatly appreciated.

  (Quote)

lukeprog April 8, 2010 at 6:01 am

exapologist,

I look forward to what you have to say on it!

  (Quote)

Charles April 8, 2010 at 6:20 am

I’ve decided my time is better spent doing the research and writing that needs to be done to present desirism with the precision and care required for peer-review. So while I’ll inevitably mention desirism, I won’t defend it much here anymore until I can present it with precision.

Too bad.

  (Quote)

Tshepang Lekhonkhobe April 8, 2010 at 6:53 am

@lukeprog

Just like Gregg, I appreciate your efforts on promoting awareness of desirism, and it certainly needs all the exposure it can get.

  (Quote)

Justfinethanks April 8, 2010 at 8:37 am

Here’s a youtube video of a guy who briefly debated Craig on a talk show.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbqGxU1BJ0o

Money quote: “In case you were wondering: yes, Dr. Craig really is that smug in real life. Yeah, the camera doesn’t take anything away on that front. It’s pretty much exactly like that.”

  (Quote)

ayer April 8, 2010 at 10:02 am

“In case you were wondering: yes, Dr. Craig really is that smug in real life. Yeah, the camera doesn’t take anything away on that front. It’s pretty much exactly like that.”

Yes, that was the debate where the guy debating Craig, when asked for prominent atheist philosophers, only named dead philosophers (it appeared he didn’t know they were dead), and didn’t know how to pronounce A.J. Ayer’s last name (which I couldn’t help but take personally ;)

That explains the look of incredulity on Craig’s face.

  (Quote)

Bill Maher April 8, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Ayer, in that guy’s defense, the 20th century was overwhelmingly atheist centered. Virtually all of the big names were non-believers. The most sympathetic philosopher to religion, Wittgenstein (my favorite philosopher <3), was himself not a believer.

But I do agree. All he had to do is name Dennett, Martin, Chomsky, Blackburn, Searle, Grayling, or Nielson. All these guys are pretty famous (at least by philosophy standards)

  (Quote)

DoAtheistsExist? April 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Just incidentally, I found this Youtube of Dennett on Craig interesting:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wb10QvaHpS4&feature=related  

I found that to be such a weak and dishonest response from Dennett. I dunno if it was just me but if a Christian “apologist” said the same thing but in reverse, the atheists would come down on him like a ton of bricks and (rightly) ridicule him.

Dennett said, “What professor Craig has shown us is how the arguments go, if you start with a bunch of initially very plausible premises…he does that, as near as I could see I had no quarrels…but we end up at, really, remarkably implausible conclusions. Officially if you end up at a self-contradictory conclusion, you’ve got a reductio ad absurdum argument and something has to give. I cannot pin a formal reductio on anything, at least if I can then I can’t do it impromptu! But I can point to some areas of suspicion.”

Dennett then goes on to give actually only one “area” of suspicion and it’s with regards to what that cause is. (Note he does not actually dispute ANY of the premises, or the logic of the argument.) He asks how we know that the cause is not an idea of an apple, or a triangle? First of all, Dennett doesn’t even believe in non-natural objects like triangles and numbers existing as abstract objects. Yet suddenly he’s willing to grant that that be the cause in order to avoid invoking God. Secondly, abstract objects do NOT cause things, things happen TO them. This seems clear to most people in a non-threatening environment, we have an idea of a root 7 in our head but nothing sprouts from it, nothing material is caused by it. We have ideas that never cause anything, but WE ourselves do cause things to happen, and happen all the time at that, too. I might cause my hand to write that root 7 on a piece of paper, but the idea hasn’t caused that. Furthermore those “ideas” have no meaning outside of a mind/brain, because they don’t exist as real entities. They can exist themselves- objectively- but the IDEA of them cannot exist objectively, which is a crucial distinction. I think that identifies one of the main problems with Platonism.

Still not convinced that an abstract object can’t cause things? See here http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/abstract-objects/#5 it’s part of the very DEFINITION of an abstract object, that it cannot cause anything.

Desite this, Dennett continues and tries to back up his point but he does not even seem to understand the notion of an abstract object. He claims that an examle of an abstract object causing things is his euclidean triangle which stops his house from falling over (or something lol). I’m sorry, what?

An abstract object is not a concrete object. Dennett clearly knows this. Yet he still tries to convince his audience that no- this material, spacial and concrete triangle that causes something is still somehow abstract. That is just blatantly dishonest on Dennett’s part, and a terrible argument too.

Now I want to get onto the rest of Dennett’s ramblings and bumblings. All he’s basically saying is this; I agree with all his premises, I agree with the logic and I can’t find a disproof of theism, sorry. But I know that I don’t WANT God to exist so I’m not going to accept this argument. Remember this is what Dennett said himself, “as near as I could see I had no quarrels…but we end up at, really, remarkably implausible conclusions.”

He is assuming his conclusion, namely that God existing is a remarkably imlausible conclusion. He just admitted he’s got no arguments for this conclusion, and he’s just admitted that the argument FOR God was sound and valid. But it must be wrong somewhere cos the conclusion’s wrong!

I literally cannot comprehend how incredibly intelligent people such as Dennett can be so silly and dishonest.

He then says that Quantum Mechanics has forced us to reject seemingly clear intuitions before, and similarly the universe’s beginning will have to make us give up some other intuitions, too.

He then goes on to assert that this undermines Craig’s reasons for believing in God and somehow supports his own conclusion that God does not exist.

Now, there is a huge, huge difference between these two. In Quantum Mechanics, you look at the mathematics behind the science, you look at the scientific observations, the empirical data, and you end up arriving at seemingly unintuitive conclusions. That’s justified, though, because you’ve let the a priori reasoning and a posteriori evidence together point you to a conclusion. With regards to God, however, Dennett has ignored all the arguments and jumped straight to the conclusion he wants, therefore claiming that all the arguments for God that make sense and all the lack of arguments against God do not amount to giving good reason to believe that God exists, simly because he doesn’t want it too. He gave no reasons for his belief, and no reasons for his disbelief in the proofs. He dismissed the arguments, instead pointing to the Inner Witness of His Desire to Live an “Autonomous” Life, where he doesn’t have to follow and engage in a relationship with a Loving, Heavenly Father (excuse the sarkiness ;P).

Now I don’t see how any honest atheist can really, REALLY affirm what Dennett just said. What do you guys think? Is it just me??

  (Quote)

Leave a Comment