Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Anatomy of Argument: A Well Trod Atheist Fallacy


 The other day on CARM we were having a discussion about the Euthephro Dilemma. This is the question about is there a higher standard to which God must adhere in shaping morality, or in other wrodsd, is it Good because God says it or does God say it because it's good. The Atheist will shape the question so that the only available answers are either that God manufactures good based upon arbitrary whims, or he has to follow an higher standard and thus is not the highest reality. Out this discussion came the comments below:

Originally Posted by NoctambulantJoycean View Post
No, not really. There is empirical evidence that theists simply (unconsciously) project their moral beliefs onto God, as opposed to God communicating anything to them. They also more easily project their feelings onto God since religious experience involves a breakdown on the "self/other" distinction.
 The assumptions you make about religious experience are per conceived by reductionist premise. The sense of the numinous is empirical and embodied sense of God's love and goodness. that in itself is reason enough to assume it.

Here's a sampling of the relevant data:
"Believers' Estimates of God's Beliefs are More Egocentric than Estimates of Other People's Beliefs."
"Was He Happy? Cultural Difference in Conceptions of Jesus."
"Creating God in Our Image: The Role of Self-Projection in Estimating God’s Beliefs."
"How Christians Reconcile Their Personal Political Views and the Teachings of Their Faith: Projection as a Means of Dissonance Reduction."
page 1001 of "The New Synthesis in Moral Psychology."

And if you prefer video to text:
Youtube, AntiCitizenX’s “Psychology of Belief” series
Youtube, KnownNoMore’s video “Against Religious Experience…”


that doesn't really prove anything. If humans are made in God's image than that probably pertains to consciousness. lots of reasons to assume God is the source of consciousnesses. essentially any argument for panpsychism is an argument for God's consciousness.


I've noticed that a lot of theists on CARM (especially you) start screaming out buzz-words like "scientism!" and "reductionism!" whenever your views are criticized. It's tiresome. It basically amounts to a defense-mechanism you employ so your beliefs don't have to meet the same epistemic standards as everything else. That's not going to fly anymore (by the way, I'm a property dualist regarding qualia, so your charge of a "reductionist premise" I'm using is laughable. Please stop assuming stuff.)


That could be a valid complaint that I speak over your head and I should be more considerate. It doesn't really damage my arguments taht youa re unread and don'tknow the termenology in the field. Maybe you should be more humble and seek to learn more before eneter into discussion.


Moving on, I really don't care what possible scenarios you can make up (ex: we're made in God's image, panpsychism implies God's conscious, numinous, blah blah blah). No. As Duhem's thesis in philosophy of science shows, one can make up any number of ad hoc, unfounded, possible explanations to protect one's pet idea. But if you resort to that, no one would and should take you seriously. So instead of just giving me possible explanations theists made up, give me plausible ones supported by evidence and not just your bare assertions. I'm getting tired of some theists like you acting as if the same epistemic standards that apply in philosophy and science in general don't apply to you.


 There are couple of things wrong with this particular display of ignorance.I must say I more enjoy your scientist schtick. First of all, to characterize well known ancient doctrinal potions in Christianity as "ad hoc" makes you look so unread. anyone exhibiting the knowledge I see in your arguments would be well enough read to know that image dei is an ancient doctrine. calling it ad hock well that's like saying "waiter! this Gazpacho soup is cold, send it back!"

Secondly, you didn't answer the argument. instead you merely mock and ridicule my beliefs. that is not an answer. I told you honestly and directly why I think you are wrong. the answer to that cant' be "well your ideas are silly and I don't bleieve them." I know you don't bleieve it that's kind of like betting the question! calling my beliefs names is not disproving them.


So stop dodging empircal data by saying "that doesn't prove anything" (I hear that same line from AIDS denialists or other such sorts of people who are unwilling to change their beliefs regardless of the evidence you present them; yes, I'm comparing you to them). Stop accusing people who use scientific evidence to reach conclusions of being "reductionists." And start providing evidence for your claims and not just using implicit reference to properly basic beliefs, or "embodied sense of God's love and goodness," or ... as epistemic cop-outs (or really just ad hoc methods of begging the question and reducing the burden of proof for you and increasing it for everyone else) so you don't ever have to revise your beliefs.

 That sounds like an argument but it's not. the bit about "made up" is question betting. All you are really saying is 'I dont' believe that so it must be wrong." I didn't make it up it's an ancinet doctrine It's not just made up it's a valid bleief within a larger belief system and it answers the issue.

All scinece can do is offer explanations. Science is about proving things. So for you to gain say the notion of offering explanations is silly. You have no empirical data that disproves God or that proves morality is an independent standard. Just refusing to allow me to defend my beliefs by referencing what they are neither logical nor empirical. The experiences of the sense of the numinous are empirical, that is the mystical sense of God's reality is experienced directly. To the extent that it is always linked with the sense of God's reality it can be regarded as the co-determinate of God, that is the trace, the track the footprint of God in the snow of human experience. Thus we can regard mystical experience as experience of the divine and we can regard that as empirical.

Sorry I had to be so firm. But I'm getting sick-and-tired of these tactics some theists like you employ. If you're not willing to revise your beliefs in light of new evidence and find ad hoc methods of disregardig evidence, don't expect people to take you seriously.

I don't take atheist ridicule seriously, and since you are not willing to try and understand my bleiefs in terms of their inner logic there is basis for discussion.

What started all of this is the Euthyphro dilemma. That's not something science can prove empirically. in fact it pertains to a theistic system. The dilemma basic boils down to this: are the gods good becuase they are gods, or are they gods becuase they are good? In other words do they follow a higher standard to which they must submit. If so then something is higher than the gods.Of course Euthyphro was Socrates major foil that's why its set in the metaphysical system of Greek Mythology, and the fates are the weavers of the higher standard. it makes sense to ask questions of this sort in a Polytheistic system where the gods are contingent and not ultimate basis of all reality. It makes no sense to even consider it in a Christian system where "God" is the term we give to the basis of all that is. In that case there cannot be a higher standard.

The answer that I have brought to this question in terms of the Christian God has always been that the "higher standard" is actually God's own character, which is love. Thus I see love as the background of th moral universe. There is no standard higher than God because the moral standard to which he adheres is his own character and that all boils down to love as the basis of ethics.

Now looking at his specific claims. In terms of the anatomy of discussion he's doing the following

(1) substituting mockdry and reidicle for refuation

(2) He's begging the question and calling it "emprical evidence."

(3) He's trying to privilege his position with reference to the fortress of facts.

On the surface this all appears like he's given reasoned comments but in reality he's merely evoking ideology. He doesn't actually present any evidence he only presents the threat of evidence. We don't have to prove every detail of our belief system. We only have to show that belief is warranted by sound and valid arguemnts.

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