Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Answering Atheists Attacks on The Religious a prori

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The Original argument to which this refers (the religoius a prori) was the argument discussed on friday last. It reminded me of this older discussion I had about the same arguemnt with atheists on CARM.

HRG (poster on CARM) sort of walked into it. This is a look at a response that MkeWC gave. Mike is a pretty bright guy. In 13 years of arguing with atheists on the net he's the first one I've met who really understands Derrida.

It's interesting that you say religion is derived phenomenologically, therefore it has a kind of epistemic autonomy, that it carries its own terms of justification within it.

The problem is that phenomenology has been critiqued into the dust. It can't do without something that synthesizes the manifold of phenomena, and no one has ever offered a coherent account of how that could be. It always ends up in metaphysical speculation: Husserl, Heidegger, Jean-Luc Marion, they all end up finding a substrata of presence that finally cannot be supported.
Of course that's a pretty exaggerated claim. Any popular school of thought has been "critiqued ad nausium." Or "into the dust." That is not to say that he has any real criticisms of the way I used Tillich's Heideggerian based phenomenology in understanding the religious a prori. Although his initial description of the a prori, it has a kind of epistemic autonomy, that it carries its own terms of justification within it, is a good description of what that means. The claim that phenomenology has never offered a coherent account of the manifold nature of phenomena is a question begging and ironic claim. The thrust of Heidegger's phenomenology is to impressing sense data into preconceived categories and allow the data to suggest it's own category. A good example of what I mean is seen in a recent 'discussion' (p'ing contest) with an atheist on CARM who keeps habitually refereeing t religoius experience as "funny feelings." This atheist will not alter that term no matter how I have explained that it's purposely derisive, doesn't describe anything that corresponds to RE and is not ever used in any of the studies. The typical atheist fear of the subjective and hatred of experience is used as a preconceived category in which this atheist heard any kind of data that would contradict the usual atheist ideology.

Since the point of Heideggerian phenomenology is to allow the data to suggest the categories themselves, in the above example this would be done by perhaps description RE the way those who experience it describe it, then the claim that it has never found a coherent explication of the manifold nature of experience is just saying "gee these guys don't want preconceived categories don't have any preconceived categories." How about that? That like criticizing the army as "too military." That's like criticizing the courts system as "too bound by legal conventions."

Mike goes on:
Besides that, phenomenology was developed as a philosophical tool. That contradicts your statement that religion is not derived from other disciplines.
I didn't say religion is derived from phenomenology. I said we should use a phenomenological approach to understand it.

Induction is not a cheat. In your example about balls dropping from a tower, we know they will fall at the same rate because physics tells us they will. You're right we only ever see particular balls, but that doesn't matter to physics.
That's really circular reasoning, by way of being question begging. He doesn't understand that this example is right out of Karl Popper's major work. Without extrapolating by way of inductive logic we would have to watch every case of the dropping of balls to make sure that it always worked the same say. Yet in using inductive we automatically consign a lot of things to falling between the cracks. Of course Popper's point was that you can't derive regular law like statements from general principles. The nature of empiricism demands empirical observation. If this is not to be endless it must be extrapolated inductively. His statement assumes there's a rule book of physics already written and waiting to be consulted even in the very early days before Newtonian physics. If laws of physics are derived entirely descriptively when how can we have a preconceived rule that "physics tells us they will." That's really cheating empiricism. It's quite ironic because it means he's evoking the preconceived category that phenomenology seeks to avoid.


Causal induction is an entirely valid principle. However, this does not disprove miracles.
I didn't say that induction is not valid. I said it has problems it runs afoul of impossing a preconceived rule upon experience, and in the need to extrapolate things fall through the cracks. What I meant by that was miracles. Just because 99.9% of cases work a certain way, dead men don't rise and walk, doesn't mean 100% of cases work that way. Since miracles are supposed to be impossibilities where's the sense in evoking standard expectation?

You're right that science cannot finally chase away the possibility of miracles, defined as an event caused by a supernatural force. But that just establishes a negative knowledge: "we don't know if miracles are possible or not." Note that this is different from saying "we know miracles are, in principle, possible."
All epistemic gaps must be crossed with the assumption of positive side rules. We do this in everything. Otherwise we would have to sit down, stay silent and starve to death because we can never bee 100% sure of anything. In all of our major epistemic gap crossings we assert the positive side. The cogito, "I think, therefore, I am" taken by foundationalists to be absolute proof of the most indubitable premise, is a positive affirmation of the lack of knowledge that the "I am isn't a different I than the I that says "I am." Any principle that says "I have no reason to make that assumption" is mere turning the negative aspect of knowledge in the face of a gap in knowledge into a possessive assertion.

But you cheat and say that science's inability to discern miracles produces that positive knowledge. Hence, you just say there have been 100 resurrections in the past, without feeling the need to provide any details.
That's not true at all. I did actually document a couple of sources. I was speiifically reffering the book by Duffin (recently reviewed here) Medical Miracles about her research i the Vatican Archives. I don't have space to reproduce her whole book in a text box. That's a cheap attack because no one does on a message board have that kind of space. No one expects that. Giving a printed source is fine for official intercollegiate debate it should be fine for a message board. There's a gap on the message board where one guys "I don't have time to look it up but I doubt it" the one says "It's true I read it" but he doesn't give it. What can you do it's not a official event? you just let it go. One can go look it up if one cares, and rarely anyone does.

You can't get from that negative knowledge (we don't know if supernatural caused events are possible) to positive knowledge (we know they are possible) without first providing a rigorous concept of what that force is. Which means you have to prove God exists before you can claim miracles exist.

That's horse manure. What he's saying is we have to know all about God with absolute certainty before we can assume God. That's not fair. physicists don't play that way. When atheist use the multivariate as an example to the fine tuning argument they are using an argument that has absolutley no empirical backing. We have no evidence other than hypothetical mathematics that such a thing exits. Notice Mike is also diong a "hide the ball" maneuver in asserting that my only basis for argument is negative side assertions, we can't disprove miracles. He's ignoring the fact that I've given a pile of miracle evidence in Lourdes miracles and in Casdroph and Catholic saint making miracles and Vatican archival research.

Without proof that God exists, the hypothesis that a supernatural force caused a particular event will only ever be that, a hypothesis. And one that is entirely untestable. It can never be wrong; it can only be accepted as right on the basis of faith.
That is a totally ludicrous statement. The miracle appeals are a ratioanl warrant for beleif in God. He's saying you have to prove God before you an argue for proof of God.If that were the case you could never make the argument. If we did physics that way before we do any research on dark matter we must already prove it exists. If we take that dictum down a peg to providing some form of verisimilitude then have that in spades with the 200 studies on religious experience. The Lourdes evidence supplys that concern a prori.

The other thing is, miracle stories always come with caveats that limit investigation. They always happen in the distant past, or in distant countries, or they are on the order of "God healed my sore back."
That is obviously not true. My father was dead then came to life. That event coincided with my dream that the Pope brought him to me and said "he will be ok." That was not long ago or in a foreign country, not the time it happened it was right then. The Lourdes miracles are immediate they are not long ago and far away.

With the exception of the resurrection of Jesus and the creation act itself, these events are never used as explanations of anything in the historical record. They never seem to have much effect on history at all. Maybe they happened, maybe then didn't.

That's because of the way modern historiography is construed. The ground rules for history as a modern social scinece rule out any but a naturalistic account. Jurgen Moltmann's rules change argument, the "history making" aspect, allows miracles to be brought in the back door. Moreover, the HRG (yes the guy on CARM) peremise that laws of physics an nature are totally descriptive open the door to further descriptions. There is no law-like statement in the universe that say "thou shalt not have violation of naturalism." Violations are just further observation of the behavior of the universe.

The whole post of Monday's post was that HRG steped in the trap by arguing in a circular fashion that physical laws are nothing but descriptions yet we have to rule out any miraculous idea on its face because we don't have such descriptions. Yet we do have them so there is no basis upon which to rule them out.

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