In the Search for Truth, Your Worst Enemy is Yourself

by Luke Muehlhauser on June 18, 2010 in Criticism of Atheists,General Atheism

man in mirror

Humans are more rational than chimpanzees, but that’s not saying much. We are mostly non-rational and irrational. Bias is our default setting. We are almost always thinking under the heavy influence of many cognitive biases. Rationality is rare, for believers and atheists alike. The sociological data, psychological data, and neurological data could not be more clear on this.

One consequence is that, as ex-apologist put it, we tend to “modus tollens” each argument that threatens our current worldview.

Let me explain.

Modus tollens is a valid argument form that looks like this:

  1. If P, then Q.
  2. Not-Q.
  3. Therefore, Not-P.

Here’s how the atheist will generally use it in his own mind:

  1. If theistic argument X is correct, then theism is true.
  2. But theism is not true.
  3. Therefore, theistic argument X is not correct.

And here’s how the theist will generally use it in his own mind:

  1. If atheistic argument X is correct, then atheism is true.
  2. But atheism is not true.
  3. Therefore, atheistic argument X is not correct.

The result is that atheists usually start from the assumption that theistic arguments fail. Atheists put forward almost every objection to theistic arguments as if they were sure-fire nails in the coffin of theism. And yet many of the objections so confidently spouted by atheists are weak, ignorant, or silly.

Likewise, theists usually start from the assumption that atheistic arguments fail. Theists put forward almost every objection to atheistic arguments as if they were sure-fire rebuttals. And yet many of the defenses so confidently spouted by believers are weak, ignorant, or silly.

Think about this for one moment.

If your objection to Argument X was a clear, obvious, and certain refutation, would hundreds of intelligent and careful philosophers from both camps still be debating the merits of Argument X?

It’s very difficult for us to approach an argument that threatens our worldview openly and honestly. Our cognitive biases want to do the opposite, and they are often involuntary and unconscious – beyond the reach of our control. It takes a lot of effort to consider arguments fairly.

Usually, we treat arguments for our positions “with kid gloves,” while treating arguments for the opposition with extreme skepticism.

This is a poor way to seek the truth. I suggest something like what Christian Bible scholar James McGrath called this the Golden Rule approach: Do unto the claims of others what you would want done to your claims. Consider them charitably, but seriously. Be fair.

Or, try what John Loftus calls the Outsider Test for Faith: Examine your own worldview as if you were an outsider to it. Does it still hold up? In fact, you might want to examine your own worldview with more skepticism than others, since you know unseen cognitive biases will be pushing back the other way. You have to want to change your mind.

In the search for truth, your worst enemy is not the person with different beliefs. Your worst enemy is yourself.

In fact, the person with different beliefs may be your comrade, for he will help you challenge your worst enemy.

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Maher June 18, 2010 at 6:19 am

There is always the possibility that you became an atheist 3 years ago after researching all of the theistic arguments and WANTING them to succeed (like me). :)

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Kip June 18, 2010 at 6:32 am

You’ve definitely convinced me Luke — even before this post. That’s why I was trying to be most charitable to WLC’s argument that the DCT was “objective” — because in a way, it is; and in a way, it isn’t. But, so is Desirism…which was my point. Hopefully that didn’t get lost in the diatribe.

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lukeprog June 18, 2010 at 6:57 am

Bill Maher,

Sounds like we had roughly the same experience at roughly the same time!

Kip,

Yup.

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Justfinethanks June 18, 2010 at 7:07 am

If your objection to Argument X was a clear, obvious, and certain refutation, would hundreds of intelligent and careful philosophers from both camps still be debating the merits of Argument X?

Well considering that cognitive biases affect everyone, including intelligent and careful philosophers, wouldn’t we expect many to reject objections that should be accepted by a rational and objective observer?

A lot of people say that studying astronomy is incredibly humbling, because you learn how incredibly small and insignificant you are. For me, learning about cognitive biases makes me feel much smaller, because it calls into serious question those things around which I center my identity (namely my beliefs and preferences).

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Burk June 18, 2010 at 7:38 am

Well, I don’t think that philosophers have a whole lot to crow about either. In the US, they are often theologians under public school cover. They have been besotted by naive and biased premises for ever (forms?, souls?).

So the idea that it is “intelligent and careful” philosophers who set up any kind of standard of non-bias seems insupportable as well. They just dress up their biases with better rhetoric.

If you want real tests of falsifiable positions, I’d suggest you consult scientists. Otherwise, it is a metaphysical free-for-all, where self critique is, as you say, the highest virtue.

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Juan Pablo de la Torre June 18, 2010 at 7:52 am

Atheists often call themselves skeptics for a reason.

Personally, I always treat new information of any kind the same way, first a reality check then a deep analysis. I listen to theists positions with no forethought intention of dismissing them, but I’ve never known theists who do the same for atheists positions.

I can figure most skeptics do the same.

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Atheist.pig June 18, 2010 at 7:56 am

If your objection to Argument X was a clear, obvious, and certain refutation, would hundreds of intelligent and careful philosophers from both camps still be debating the merits of Argument X?

Apart from the above comment an excellent post, we’re all just a bunch of meme replicators, some memes are just a bit more ridiculous than others.

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J. Quinton June 18, 2010 at 8:06 am

I try to approach things from a more Azimov-esque approach – that I’m wrong. The purpose then if one is trying to seek “the truth” is to become less wrong than you currently are. Not to necessarily be right. That’s probably only a semantic difference, but it really puts things into a more humble perspective, I think. You see arguments and people’s ideas in a less black and white way.

This is Azimov’s essay on “The Relativity of Wrong”

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Martin June 18, 2010 at 8:23 am

Excellent post.

Regarding this comment:

If your objection to Argument X was a clear, obvious, and certain refutation, would hundreds of intelligent and careful philosophers from both camps still be debating the merits of Argument X?

….I completely agree.

While professional philosophers are no more free of confirmation bias than the rest of us, since they publish in peer-reviewed journals they do have to be more careful and any obvious fallacies will instantly be exposed. So when atheists laugh arrogantly that “pshah! Kalam has been refuted HUNDREDS of times!” I have to think that some serious Dunning-Kruger effect is happening there…

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Matt M June 18, 2010 at 8:42 am

Isn’t there a certain amount of practicality at work with these assumptions?

We simply don’t have time to properly evaluate all the arguments put forward. When it comes to religious claims I know a) that most of the ones I’ve encountered so far have been either weak or incoherent and b) that genuine evidence for God would spread amongst the faithful and gain notoriety pretty quickly. So surely I’m being *fairly* rational in assuming that an argument put forward by a particular religious individual is likely to be false? Stopping to consider each and every one would be a huge waste of time.

Obviously, this would apply to theists considering atheist arguments as well. It seems to me that this would only be a problem when a person was *completely* closed off to possibility that they’re wrong.

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Bram van Dijk June 18, 2010 at 9:08 am

I just finished Graham Oppy’s “arguing about gods”, and he kind of makes the same point, just puts it differently:

He doesn’t say that we are all (somewhat) irrational, he says that there just aren’t any successful arguments.

I must say that I am more sympathetic towards Oppy’s way of putting it, but that may just be my irrational desire to think that I myself am rational;-)

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cl June 18, 2010 at 9:48 am

In fact, the person with different beliefs may be your comrade, for he will help you challenge your worst enemy.

This is why I frequent atheist websites, and why I’m generally suspicious of atheists that frequent atheist websites.

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Lorkas June 18, 2010 at 10:04 am

The more frustrating line of (faulty) reasoning for me is:

1) If (a/)theistic argument X is correct, then (a/)theism is true.
2) (A/)Theism is true.
3) Therefore, (a/)theistic argument X is correct.

This is a fallacy, but a common one that makes people defend bad arguments for their position as if every single argument for their position must be correct.

For example:

1) The sky is blue.
2) The trees are green.
3) Therefore, God does not exist.

Being an atheist doesn’t mean you have to agree with that argument, and being a theist doesn’t mean you have to defend bad arguments for theism.

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Justfinethanks June 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

cl: This is why I frequent atheist websites, and why I’m generally suspicious of atheists that frequent atheist websites.

Do you frequent atheist websites to the exclusion of theist websites? Your desire to seek out challenges to your position shouldn’t prevent you from getting information from people who agree with you.

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cl June 18, 2010 at 10:56 am

Justfinethanks,

Not “to the exclusion,” although, I haven’t visited a theist website in a few weeks. I probably do visit more atheist websites, though. Off the top of my head, I can only think of about a half-dozen theist websites I frequent. I’ve been banned from more atheist websites than that.

Your desire to seek out challenges to your position shouldn’t prevent you from getting information from people who agree with you.

I agree, but it’s the information that counts, not whether or not the person delivering it agrees with me.

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noen June 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm

This is an excellent post, not much to comment on. One caveat though.

“Modus tollens is a valid argument form…”

Yes, it can be valid but it isn’t necessarily valid.

“Although common in argument, a Modus Tollens is not necessarily true, as the major premise (If X is true then Y is true) says nothing about falsehood. If, however, X and Y are bivalent (both can be either true or false) and X can only be true if Y is true, then the Modus Tollens stands.”

So just because you have the correct form doesn’t mean your conclusions are justified.

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Chris Hallquist June 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I’m not sure where my experience maps onto this discussion. When I first heard of arguments for the existence of God, I definitely considered myself a believer (perhaps believing-leaning agnostic) but my instinct was to be very skeptical of the arguments. It actually took a few years for me make the step from “I can’t see any good reason to think God exists” to “I shouldn’t believe that God exists.”

To this day I’m not quite sure why I was so initially skeptical. Maybe I figured that if the matter were so simple as some people apparently thought, everone would have been taught the arguments at the same time we learned arithmetic. Or maybe I was just really good at noticing problems with them.

Luke, what do you make of this?

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noen June 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Oh…. and…

““Socrates is a mortal, all cats are mortal, therefore Socrates is a cat?””

What? That’s perfectly rational….

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Ryan June 18, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Hi Luke,

On the subject of being biased, I think you might enjoy the article “Five Habits of the Skeptical Mind”:

http://www.dbskeptic.com/2010/01/17/five-habits-of-the-skeptical-mind/

Here’s the first habit:

“Your belief will not change reality

“I have noticed a tendency to gravitate towards beliefs which I want to be true. These beliefs don’t always match the facts, and are not borne out by sober investigation. We have a strange superstition that we seldom recognize: sometimes we think that choosing to believe something will actually make it true.

“Members of cults will often deny strong opposing evidence in order to keep their membership. UFO believers will often not abandon their beliefs even when confronted with more down-to-earth explanations that explain the facts just as well or better than the alien hypothesis. People think that simply choosing to believe something will make it true.

“Belief never makes anything true.”

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Lorkas June 18, 2010 at 2:11 pm

“Yes, it can be valid but it isn’t necessarily valid.”

Er… you are mistaken. If X->Y = true, and Y = false, then X is always, always false as well.

For X->Y = true, there are three possible combinations of values.
X = true, Y = true
X = false, Y = true
X = false, Y = false

If you have a situation where X = true and Y = false, then your original implication (X->Y) is false by definition, and the problem there isn’t that modus tollens isn’t apply, it’s that you chose a false premise.

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Lorkas June 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I’m not sure what you mean by posting the argument with the conclusion “Socrates is a cat”. That’s not modus tollens, so it doesn’t make a problem for that argument form at all.

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Martin June 18, 2010 at 2:24 pm

noen,

Keep in mind there is a HUGE difference between “true” and “valid.”

Modus tollens is logically valid. Whether a particular argument is true or not depends on that particular argument.

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Rob June 18, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Here is a decent blog about cognitive biases:

http://youarenotsosmart.com/

Also, in my experience, many philosophers are quiet ignorant of the phenomenon.

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poban June 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I remember when WLC said to Sinnot Armstrong that
A. If gratuitous suffering exist then god doesnt exist.
B. But god does exist
C. Therefore gratuitous suffering doesnt exist,

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Chris June 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm

This is a kick-ass post.

Given that we’re prone to bias and often irrationally cling to the beliefs we strongly want to be true, it seems like human nature is more likely to have been created by natural selection, rather than by a God who wants us to “choose” the correct beliefs for salvation. Leaving semi-rational animals with their eternal fates in their hands seems kinda stupid, eh?

This might be a weak argument. I can’t tell though, I’m biased ;-)

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lukeprog June 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm

noen,

Where did you get that quote? A Modus Tollens can’t be ‘true.’ A modus tollens is an argument, and an argument can only be valid or invalid (if deductive), or weak or strong (if inductive). It is the premises or conclusion of an argument that can be true or false. Either way, what I said is correct. A modus tollens form of argument is valid, but of course if your premises are true its conclusion will still be false. This is all explained earlier in my Intro to Logic series.

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lukeprog June 18, 2010 at 5:05 pm

That’s very interesting, Chris Hallquist. I’m not sure what’s going on there. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who was born a bit more rationally than the rest of us.

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lukeprog June 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm

noen,

No, that argument about cats is invalid. It’s form is:

A is B.
All C are B.
Therefore, A is C.

That’s not modus tollens, and also it’s not valid.

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ildi June 18, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard Feynman

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Andre June 18, 2010 at 11:39 pm

The blog post is essentially accurate, but it seems to suggest that we must live in this perpetual state of open-mindedness, a limbo of politeness and neutrality, always keeping in mind that we could be wrong. I am not convinced that this is a practical or wise way to live one’s life, especially when the same old stuff gets stirred around. There is nothing new in the debate, so why should we remain in this state of ever-openness to being proved wrong?

Personally I believe that one should investigate the arguments pro and con, do a good, thorough job of that, make up your mind and then get on with life based on that view.

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Lamplighter Jones June 19, 2010 at 1:48 am

If your objection to Argument X was a clear, obvious, and certain refutation, would hundreds of intelligent and careful philosophers from both camps still be debating the merits of Argument X?

Is there actually a particular Argument X (relating to theism/atheism) about which hundreds of philosophers are debating? Even if there are, a cynic would note that publishing an article about Argument X beats not having a publication, in terms of getting a job, tenure, promotion, grant, etc.

Martin said

While professional philosophers are no more free of confirmation bias than the rest of us, since they publish in peer-reviewed journals they do have to be more careful and any obvious fallacies will instantly be exposed.

In some fields, errors get past peer review, and sometimes the same error gets past peer review multiple times. Here’s an error in mathematics that I’ve seen in two separate articles (by the same author on the same topic) in two fairly prestigious mathematics journals: (אω)ω=אω, where ω is the first infinite cardinal. In fact, (אω)ω > אω, which is an easy result of elementary set theory. Wikipedia has a nice exposition.

So apparently two different referees saw this mistake and agreed with it. Is there something in the field of philosophy that prevents this sort of thing?

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Lamplighter Jones June 19, 2010 at 1:51 am

That should be (א_ω)^ω=א^ω (the error), and (א_ω)^ω > א_ω (correct). The subscripts and superscripts vanished between the preview and the post.

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John W. Loftus June 19, 2010 at 2:29 am

Nice post Luke.

My contention is that human beings are woefully inadequate at rationally evaluating much of anything and this is never so clearly seen but when it comes to religious beliefs about heaven and hell. So long as someone merely ask people to be objective, fair, and openminded about beliefs which are geographically adopted by the accidents of birth and accepted implicitly with the irrational certainty of faith having no mutually agreed upon test to decide between them, then religious people who do not realize that their beliefs are culturally inherited ones that bypassed the reasoning processes will have no problem at all saying they have been objective, fair and openminded about them. The OTF is the best way to help them see their beliefs as untenable if they are untenable. It asks them to be consistently skeptical with no double standards when examining their own cultural faith. The OTF if therefore primarily about religious faiths because there is no other way to help religious people see them for what they are, culturally inherited ones that bypassed the reasoning processes, unless they can pass the OTF. My contention is that a religious faith could pass the OTF if there was any truth to religion, and I’ve shared what that evidence might look like for some of the Christianities right here.

To demand the atheist to take the OTF is to claim that atheists have faith. To demand the atheist to take the OTF is to fail to understand there is one and only one thing all atheists agree upon, and that is religious faiths fail the OTF. To demand the atheist to take the OTF is to claim they haven’t already done so. They have. That’s why they are atheists. Just imagine you taking the OTF and then concluding Christianity is a delusion, okay? Then you apply it to other faiths and conclude the same thing. Now how silly would it sound to you for someone to say, “Hey, now that you’re an atheist you must take the OTF!” The whole reason why you’re an atheist in the first place is because you did!

What does an outsider do? He’s skeptical about the answers to existence, all of them. Therefore if one is consistently skeptical he should be an agnostic who does not think he knows what the answer is to this question. He does not have to make a decision if there isn’t enough evidence to do so.

What else does an outsider do? He asks for evidence. And what kind of evidence convinces us all when presented with it? The sciences. So an outsider who knows he too is a product of his culture must lean for the sciences to know what he should accept. He proceeds based upon a methodological naturalism since there is no other method to tell him what to think. Ask a scientist to take an outsider test as a creationist and he will scoff for these very reasons. What he has concluded is based on science. Science is what convinces outsiders. Therefore his conclusions have already been adopted as an outsider. Since many people in our Christian culture begin life by being creationists in the first place then the fact that only 7% of the members in the National Academy of Science are believers means they were convinced as outsiders in the first place.

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John W. Loftus June 19, 2010 at 3:18 am

FYI: What I posted above is in response to some criticisms of the OTF.

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ConsiderAtheism June 19, 2010 at 5:32 am

Interesting post, Luke! I do find that this is the problem with both uneducated(or in some cases educated) atheists, and theists. I even sometimes wonder if the questions we ask now can ever be solved. I do however find that it is more common in theists. I personally would not care if my position was false, I got here through my own reason. But theists certainly would.

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Zeb June 19, 2010 at 7:03 am

poban,

I remember when WLC said to Sinnot Armstrong that
A. If gratuitous suffering exist then god doesnt exist.
B. But god does exist
C. Therefore gratuitous suffering doesnt exist,

What’s wrong with that? If A and B can be independently argued to be true (which many Christian philosophers would claim) then C logically must be true. Atheists do the same kind of thing:

A. If there is no god, there is no true experience of god.
B. There is no god.
C. Therefor there is no true experience of god.
I’ll grant that A is true, and so if B can be independently argued to be true, then C must be true, and all supposed experiences of god must actually be experiences of something else. Now, if WLC’s premises are true and there is no gratuitous suffering, we have the job ahead of us of explaining why it seems like there is gratuitous suffering when we know there must not be. Just as we have the job of explaining what experiences of god actually are if god does not exist.

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noen June 19, 2010 at 10:17 am

Lukeprog
No, that argument about cats is invalid. It’s form is..

Jesus, are you really that humor impaired?

Where did you get that quote? A Modus Tollens can’t be ‘true.’ A modus tollens is an argument, and an argument can only be valid or invalid

Yes I know. That would be why I said, and I quote myself since you are unable to read: “Yes, it can be valid but it isn’t necessarily valid.” And also why I ended with saying that one’s conclusion would necessarily be justified.

It is the premises or conclusion of an argument that can be true or false.

Yes, and that is also why “the major premise (If X is true then Y is true) says nothing about falsehood” refers to the premises. In fact it even says “the major premise” right there which I am now quoting for the third fucking time.

Here is the form of the argument:

If X is true then Y is true.

Y is false.

Therefore X is false.


Lorkas
Er… you are mistaken. If X->Y = true, and Y = false, then X is always, always false as well.

No, that is not correct. If you look above you can see that there exist values for X which could satisfy the first premise and still would make the argument invalid. You are correct if you assume that X and Y are both bivalent, can only be either true or false, but that is… like the Law of the Excluded Middle on which it is based… just an assumption.

Substituting:

If X(smoke) is true then Y(fire) is true.

Y(fire) is false.

Therefore X(smoke) is false.

Or in other words “where there is smoke there must be fire”. The argument is invalid because you can have smoke without fire.

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Lorkas June 19, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Again, noen–your problem isn’t that modus tollens is invalid, it’s that you’re picking a false premise. The premise “If smoke, then fire” is false, because, as you say, it’s possible to have smoke and not have fire.

In other words, in your example X->Y=false. That doesn’t show that modus tollens is invalid, it shows that you picked a false premise for your argument.

Which means that your response doesn’t apply to the comment I made, which is “If X->Y = true, and Y = false, then X is always, always false as well.”

You haven’t shown a case where X->Y = true, Y = false, and X = true–you’ve shown a case where X->Y = false, and gone on to show that you can make a faulty conclusion based on a false premise. You’ve also shown that a person who is both ignorant of a subject and confident that they are correct can make a total ass of himself.

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Lorkas June 19, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Let’s look at an argument that has a true premise as its first implication:

1) If it is snowing, then it is below freezing.
2) It is not below freezing.
3) Therefore, it is not snowing.

In this argument, X is “it is snowing” and Y is “it is below freezing”.

X->Y is true in this case (it only snows when it’s below freezing at normal atmospheric pressure, but it can be below freezing and not be snowing). So by modus tollens, if we know that it’s not below freezing, then we can know without looking out the window that it’s not snowing.

Like I said before, for X->Y=true, there are only 3 combinations of X and Y values.

X = true, Y = true (it is snowing and it is below freezing)
X = false, Y = true (it is below freezing, but it’s not snowing)
X = false, Y = false (it is not below freezing, and it is not snowing)

Here’s another example:

1) If Bob is the president of the United States, then Bob is over 35 years old.
2) Bob is not over 35 years old.
3) Therefore, Bob is not the president of the United States.

There are a lot of people who are over 35 years old who aren’t president, but there are no people who are president who aren’t over 35 years old, as a rule for getting into office. So X->Y = true where X is “Bob is president of the United States” and Y is “Bob is over 35 years old”.

There is no possible situation under current law wherein someone can be under 35 and still be president, so if we know Bob is under 35, then we can conclude by modus tollens that Bob is not the president of the United States.

So there you have 2 examples of the modus tollens argument using a true premise #1, unlike your previous example which fails from the beginning by choosing a false premise.

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Lorkas June 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Another way to look at it is to realize that the statement:

X->Y

is mathematically equivalent to the statement:

~Y->~X

That’s called contraposition, and it’s a basic part of any introductory propositional logic course.

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Hermes June 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I don’t say I know that theism is wrong, just that it’s not personally convincing to me. Meaning: I do not personally believe theism is credible. It doesn’t pass the sniff test.

If someone else finds theism personally convincing, and they want to convince me or even for me to give theism (or anything I don’t believe is credible) preferential treatment, then they need to do the work to show me how it is convincing to them. Everything flows from that.

A self-referential dogmatic assertion will not cut it.

Now, I’ve heard thousands of arguments from theists over the span of decades. Some I know enough to be in error, and I can demonstrate those errors. Most are thin assertions and logically or factually wrong to the point of being embarrassing. These often are not even considered by theists to be important to their own beliefs; ‘Oh, I have more sophisticated reasons for my beliefs but you — well — you might think this idea I don’t even take seriously is good enough for you.’ Just stop such nonsense. Please. If you don’t need it, if it is not important to you, why should anyone else be different?

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TaiChi June 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Lorkas,
Noen’s not going to agree with you about there only being 3 combinations of X and Y values, because he’s rejecting bivalence – this allows for three, or even an infinite number of values apart from ‘true’ and ‘false’. In such a non-classical logic he’d be right to say that modus tollens is invalid, but since basically everyone uses classical logic instead, it is unfair of him to assume Luke meant to say that modus tollens would be valid in any logic whatsoever.

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Hermes June 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm

More along the lines of what I wrote above, dealing with issues about positive claims and the bait-and-switch of deistic philosophical deities (that aren’t taken seriously(?) personally by most Christina theists) for the Abrahamic deity (that Christian theists do believe in);

Do you believe in elephants? Part 1

Do you believe in elephants? Part 2

Source: http://www.youtube.com/user/smpunditz

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Lorkas June 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

TaiChi,

noen’s comments demonstrate that he fails to understand the concept of modus tollens in the first place (he has twice made reductio ad absurdum arguments, one of which wasn’t even close to a modus tollens, and one of which failed because he didn’t formulate a true premise). Given that, it seems to me that a lesson in modus tollens was appropriate.

At least then he can understand what he’s talking about in the first place.

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Hermes June 19, 2010 at 9:48 pm

If there’s interest and ability.

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Chris June 20, 2010 at 5:57 am

I thought he was just confusing “valid” with “sound.”

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Al Moritz June 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

There is always the possibility that you became an atheist 3 years ago after researching all of the theistic arguments and WANTING them to succeed (like me). :)

There is always the possibility that you remained a theist from 4 years ago until now, and counting, after researching all of the atheistic arguments and BEING OPEN for them to succeed, but found them woefully lacking (like me). :)

Currently I am reading Drescher’s Good and Real (thanks Luke, for the rec), and either this will be the big new thing that really starts to make me wondering, or the next usual disappointment. Too early to tell. From the introductory pages it is clear that he is a brilliant mind with at least a potential to come up with good ideas (a few dumb remarks on ‘faith and tradition’ are quickly forgiven).

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Ignostic Morgan September 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Thanks John!
As He has no referents as Primary Cause,etc, He can have no existence and as His attributes are contradictory and incoherent, He can have no existence. A double whammy!
And to make it a triple whammy: Lamberth’s atelic or teleonomic argument notes that the evidence is no kind of intent behind natural causes and explanations exist, so no divine intent exists for the Big Bang- cosmological, patterns rather than designs, natural phenomena rather than miracles and so forth, then He has no referents to arrive at the first whammy!

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Ignostic Morgan September 11, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Oppy, my Amazon friend, plays the Socratic gambit: feign ignorance whilst eviscerating your opponents views!

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God.Is.Hidden June 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

“For believers and atheists alike”.

Atheists ARE believers. Are they not? For it can be said that the only ones who AREN’T are agnostics which means “without belief”. Even that’s a misnomer, as a someone who is an agnostic isn’t really someone who “believes in nothing”, but rather has one belief: that anything is possible.

“You have to want to change your mind.”

There’s a third way: just be open to what may be.

Just something to think about from someone who was once an agnostic for about…oh…31 years. Now, after meeting a Being on March 17th, never having belief in this Being whatsoever yet immediately knowing who he was; who answered when I asked, “I am God of this World”; the feeling of what felt like my soul coming about six inches out of my chest that same place that I’ve felt love, heartbreaks, sorrows, and anger; going home to look up the phrase “God of this World” because I can’t ever did not know and have no memories of ever hearing it before; and then sitting down and figuring out that all of the meetings I’ve had since age seven that were always on the 17th of month or another; and then piecing together the PAGES of MY LIFE and finding out it was all a message for me, the staunchest lifelong agnostic you could ever meet; and then SEEING LIGHT as well as dark shadows and WITNESSING an ENTIRE PRE-SCHOOL CLASS under AN ENCHANTING SPELL; and becoming under the PuppetMASTER’s hand after a Pu33lemaking screwup and dancing around like some retarded Elf that one would see in a Santa cartoon; and smelling what Hisss Little ElVIN Hellpers smell like (overpowering flowers, I don’t know what kind of flower as I’m a normal heterosexual male and my knowledge of flowers is pretty much limited to roses and carnations); and then smelling what Hate smells like (decomposing meat, garbage), what Fear smells like (decomposing cabbage, garbage), what Sorrow smells like (decomposing plant material, garbage, the most “pleasant” and “bearable” of the bunch); and SOOO much more (and that was all in the month of April 2011!)…

After ALL of that, and you can call me AN “apologist” if I turned my back on what I know to be true. It would be a really stupid action for me to look at that and say, “it can’t be true and there has to be a ‘logical’ reason”, for such a thing — is illogical. You don’t get to search for “The Truth” and then severely limit what you’ll accept.

I do not have faith. Such a thing is for people who have no BELIEF. It are those people who are the “ex-apologists” who never had such Belief. Meeting Santa himself, or you may now him as SATAN, kind of changes the entire game plan a bit.

And for the record, he’s not going to Judge you. Nor is Jesus Christ, God, Michael the Archangel or ANYBODY else. Those who say that you have to ask for Forgiveness or “you’ll be Judged” have it backwards on the former and completely wrong on the latter. For your Judgement can only come from ONE. And….(checking Earth’s population number)….there are currently about seven billion ONES. Catch the drift?

Lose the Pride, accept that you may not know, allow for the possibility that yours (and mine) brain is only slightly above that of a chimpanzee, take the words of many into consideration while ALWAYS realizing that those words may just be words (including mine here), and remember one thing….

Perspective is THE key that unlocks EVERYTHING.

I’ll help you out:

ETERNAL POWERS: Guidance, Influence, Belief
TEMPORARY ONES: Force, Control, Obedience

Good luck trying to keep to “rational answers”, for the non-existent luck is what you’ll need. Keep your eyes open, broker no ear to those who wag their fingers at you while saying, “ooohhh, you’ll beee judged”, and one day you may see how ALL of the GOD, Creation, and Eternal Time IS rational in the Whole. Start with Love. It doesn’t matter who – your own child, a friend’s child that you may babysit, your wife – and go from there. Strip out the personal pronoun of God. That of which IS OF HIS ESSENCE is really that of which IS OF THE ESSENCE.

You’ll get there Luke and everybody else here – not if you’re looking for God or have selfish desires of “Heaven” – you’ll get there if you’re open to THE TRUTH. “Looking for answers”? Perhaps. What is your motivation? Therein lies the questions.

Remember: PERSPECTIVE.

Final note: EVERYBODY HERE IS ON THE RIGHT PATH. Listen not to those who say otherwise. You are here, you are discussing these matters, and you’re interested in these matters. That’s all you need fellas. For even if you never Believe in any way whatsoever in God and you remain Atheists for your entire life and then you find out, “oh my goodness, it really is true” – you guys are the FIRST ones to be received. There’s no punishment for non-belief. That one is an “apologist” answer. It is said by those who know not how to understand the simple words of a book they claim to “believe in”.

Those who love you who are God followers-that word used for a reason- and who say, “I worry about you because you don’t believe”, one: shouldn’t worry but rather have Concern, and two: BELIEVE WHAT? Speaking personally, it isn’t the atheists or agnostics I have much Concern about. They’ll be okay. It are those who “believe in God” who are my biggest Concerns.

Those who made it this far: cool! Believe none of my words. Believe ONLY what YOU come to. For those who happen upon this page who “believe in God”, if you take what I say and become in any way Fearful or Judgmental, go back, read my words again, and put down the Bible until you can understand it. For those who happen upon this page who are atheists, if you Judge those around you, then you are only Blinding yourselves, my friends. For those who happen upon this page who have any Beliefs whatsoever – Christians, Atheists, Buddhists, whatever you name it – and who say, “huh, interesting, a little crazy sounding though” – know this: it is A LOT crazy sounding! And, ya’ll are on the right path, every single one of you.

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