Where I Cram My Ideas


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Justification

Recently I've been hearing the same line of thinking from a couple of sources - one from Sye, who has been patiently indulging in a little comment war here on my blog, and one from Rhology, who has been patiently indulging in little comment wars on his own blog.

This line of thinking has appeared to me to be circular and invalid, but Sye in particular has brought the point right to me: How do I know I can trust my reasoning and logic?

One answer
These gentlemen have postulated that unless there is a God, we cannot know that our reasoning and logic is trustworthy, because we have no foundation for them. Before I philosophize further, I want to examine that claim. It's a premise:

1. Unless there is a God, we cannot trust our reasoning and logic.

Essentially, it then goes like this:

2. We can trust our reasoning and logic

3. Therefore, God exists.

Yes, it begs the question. If we accept Premise 1, when we are approached with Premise 2 we are free to say 'Uh uh uh, can we? You haven't yet proved that God exists. Until you've reasoned that God exists, I apparently can't trust your ability to reason that God exists...'

The real question at hand
is Premise 2. Can we trust our reasoning and logic? If Premise 1 is true, then we cannot know if Premise 1 is true, and we thus cannot use Premise 1 to lead into Premise 2.

The only way we can know whether or not Premise 1 is true is if Premise 1 is, in fact, false.

That's because it takes reasoning to come to the conclusion of Premise 1. Only if you can trust your reasoning without there being a God can you come to the conclusion that only if a God exists can you trust your reasoning. It's a mess.

Coherentism
The issue here, as the title of the post indicates, is justifying beliefs. Doing this, one often runs into the problem of an infinite regress: I know it's Thursday because yesterday was Wednesday, which I know because the day before was Tuesday, ad infinitum.

Typically, there are three options for attempting to justify beliefs. The first is that there is an infinite regress, as described above, which is incapable of actually justifying anything. The second is foundationalism. Foundationalists believe that this infinite regress is halted when it settles upon a belief that is justified without being justified by other beliefs. The third option is that beliefs are simply justified by other beliefs which are, in turn, justified by others in a circular fashion - and circular reasoning is, of course, incapable of justifying a belief (as I hope Sye and Rhology realize at some point).

Coherentism is usually represented metaphorically as a web of beliefs, which is made strong and self-supporting by the relationship each belief has with the other beliefs, all of which are tied together.

Doubt
I have to thank Sye for bringing up the issue. My core beliefs are brought into question practically every day, and I am quite often made to doubt them - or, at least, to strongly reconsider them - and I have to read up on or think about them with a great deal of concern.

I hadn't previously thought about how I justified my trust in human reasoning and logic. My first reaction was 'well, it corresponds to reality.' Truth is, it's a little something more. If I must use logic and reasoning to justify logic and reasoning, have I not engaged in circular reasoning? If I must start with the reasoned premise that God must exist for reasoning to exist, have I not begged the very question?

Ultimately
I trust my perception of reality. I trust it because it forms a very coherent web. No one belief has to lean on another in a linear fashion - they work together holistically. I am an empiricist through and through, so I believe that what we perceive as real is what is really real. I also trust what reliable people have observed under reliable circumstances. These observations begin to form a web, part of which is that logic and reasoning conform to reality, and that illogic and unreasoning does not. These beliefs and observations are tied to the observations others have made. Overall, it makes a web coherent enough that I am willing to let it support my weight.

When a little fly catapults into my web and destroys a strand or two, I'll just have to rush over and try to repair or replace the strands. I think that's all we can do.

33 comments:

Sye TenB said...

Well thanks for moving this discussion up, so I don't have to scroll down anymore. Sadly though, you missed the point.

You say: That's because it takes reasoning to come to the conclusion of Premise 1.

You see, this begs the very question that God cannot reveal to us directly that our ability to reason can be trustworthy. As I said, all reasoning is dependent on God, therefore if one came to the conclusion that God existed by means of autonomous reasoning, then the god one ended up believing in, would not be God at all.

Also, I do not conclude that all reasoning is trustworthy, but that God has revealed to us, that we can know some things for certain, and that we can make sense of our ability to reason with God as our foundation.

My core beliefs are brought into question practically every day, and I am quite often made to doubt them - or, at least, to strongly reconsider them - and I have to read up on or think about them with a great deal of concern.

I hope this sounds odd to you. You have to read up on your core beliefs??? I submit that you have to go back to your atheistic website, and look for more reasons to deny that which you already know to be true. Lets face it G-man, you claim to know things, and knowledge of any sort is in complete contradiction to any atheistic worldview, no matter how many websites you visit.

Ultimately
I trust my perception of reality. I trust it because it forms a very coherent web.


How do you know your perception of reality forms a ‘coherent web?’ You have to first assume that your reasoning is trustworthy before you can determine if your web is coherent or not - still visciously circular.

I am an empiricist through and through

Empricists believe that all knowledge is gained through the senses, problem is, the very premise of the belief that “all knowledge is gained through the senses,” is itself not gained through the sense, thus refuting the very belief.

You seem like an intelligent person G-man, sadly though, I think your Christian upbringing did not include an intellectual defense of the faith. Rather than chase after something which you know you will not find, please consider coming back, and getting things right this time :-) (I would suggest getting on your knees and asking for forgiveness for some of the things you have said in this blog).

As far as trusting a coherent web goes, let me leave you with this story:

There once was a man who thought he was dead. His family tried mightily to convince him that he was not dead, but he would not be persuaded. Finally, in desperation, they took him to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist asked him whether or not dead men bleed. The man thought for a moment and said, “No, dead men do not bleed.” Immediately the psychiatrist stuck him in the finger with a pin, and some blood came out. The man looked down at his arm with a shocked look on his face and said "Well what do you know, Dead men DO bleed.”

You see G-man, he too patched his web.

Rhology said...

Finally made my way over to your blog, G-man. I'm lazy sometimes. :-\

Say, on this topic you might be interested in giving a listen to Alvin Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism.

I've been listening to it recently as well (to really get it down, I've just finished my 3rd listen and I'll have to do at least 2 more. Hopefully it won't take you as long as that).

G-man said...

"As I said, all reasoning is dependent on God"
_How did you come to that conclusion? How would any person come to that conclusion?

"You have to read up on your core beliefs???"
_'Believe those who are seeking truth. Doubt those who have found it.'

"knowledge of any sort is in complete contradiction to any atheistic worldview"
_Haha, have you read any Descartes?

"Empricists believe that all knowledge is gained through the senses"
_Empiricists believe that knowledge is best gained through the senses, actually.

"we can make sense of our ability to reason with God as our foundation."

_First, how? Second, we can make sense of our ability to reason with evolutionary biology as the foundation. Naturally, those populations with the most sound ability to understand the world around them would have the greatest tendency to survive.

But to revisit the idea of justification again:

It seems to me that you recommend taking a leap of faith to an unjustified belief, and using it to try to justify the rest of your beliefs. Correct me if I've misunderstood you.

That was a funny story. However, in a coherentist sense of justification, a belief is more strongly or weakly justified based on how logical the beliefs are.

You've never given the impression that you actually understand the concept of logic. Numbers and propositions have certain relationships in reality. Logic is a codification humans use to understand those relationships. Reasoning is sound or unsound based on its congruence with logic.

So basically if I'm to call into doubt human ability to reason, then I am calling into doubt human perception of reality. Frankly, I understand quite well that 'I think, therefore I am' is the only thing we can know beyond a shadow of doubt - however, I'm somebody who likes to live life. Whether life is as we perceive it or not, it makes no sense to act as if what we perceive is real is not really real.

As long as reality is what we understand as reality, we can trust reasoning insofar as it is logical.

G-man said...

Rhology -

Sure will, I'll let you know what I think. Welcome to the blog!

Sye TenB said...

"As I said, all reasoning is dependent on God"
How did you come to that conclusion? How would any person come to that conclusion?

By divine revelation.

'Believe those who are seeking truth. Doubt those who have found it.'

Um, is it the truth that we should do this?

Haha, have you read any Descartes?

“I think, therefore I am” is fallacious reasoning, all one could say, is “I think, therefore there is thinking.”

Empiricists believe that knowledge is best gained through the senses, actually.

How else is it gained then, and how do you know this?

"we can make sense of our ability to reason with God as our foundation."

First, how?

Our ability to reason is a gift from God.

Second, we can make sense of our ability to reason with evolutionary biology as the foundation. Naturally, those populations with the most sound ability to understand the world around them would have the greatest tendency to survive.

How do you know this? How do you know that past survival was not based on false beliefs?

It seems to me that you recommend taking a leap of faith to an unjustified belief, and using it to try to justify the rest of your beliefs. Correct me if I've misunderstood you.

You’ve misunderstood me, ALL reasoning BEGINS with faith. My reasoning is based on faith in God, your reasoning is based on your faith in your reasoning (yes, visciously circular).

That was a funny story. However, in a coherentist sense of justification, a belief is more strongly or weakly justified based on how logical the beliefs are.

According to whom? His logic said he was dead. Surely you don’t mean ‘according to the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic do you?!?’ (hopefully you will be anticipating my next question).

You've never given the impression that you actually understand the concept of logic. Numbers and propositions have certain relationships in reality.

How do you know this? Did you logically deduce it? Rather circular wouldn’t you say?

So basically if I'm to call into doubt human ability to reason, then I am calling into doubt human perception of reality. Frankly, I understand quite well that 'I think, therefore I am' is the only thing we can know beyond a shadow of doubt

Well, I have adressed this fallacy above, but at least now you are close to admitting what I have been saying all along , that one can not know anything without God as a foundation.

however, I'm somebody who likes to live life.

Do you know this, if so how?

it makes no sense to act as if what we perceive is real is not really real.

Do you know this, if so, how?

As long as reality is what we understand as reality, we can trust reasoning insofar as it is logical.

1. Do you know this, if so how?
2. Those univesral, abstract, invariant laws of logic again?

Yes, G-man, I realise that this line of questioning is annoying, but surely you must see that you have not escaped your own accusation of circularity. Also, if you NOW believe that you cannot know anything outside of the fact that you exist (even though that too is fallacious), every time you make a knowledge claim, you are being inconsistent with your stated beliefs.

G-man said...

Honestly Sye, I'm beginning to think you're more of a skeptic than I am.

"divine revelation."
_So 'divine revelation' tells you you can trust your reasoning. Solid. For one thing, there's no guarantee that this divine revelation is trustworthy. For another thing, there's no guarantee that this revelation is divine. Finally, I must ask how divine revelation justifies belief, and why it is a better justification than any other sort of revelation.

"Um, is it the truth that we should do this?"
_You're just trying to be argumentative. It's a simple piece of advice built on the wisdom that, more often than not, those who claim to have found truth probably haven't.

"“I think, therefore I am” is fallacious reasoning, all one could say, is “I think, therefore there is thinking.”"
_Ooh, Sye 1, Descartes 0

Could one, then, say "I reason, therefore there is reasoning?" And furthermore, how can one think unless one exists? With your powerful grasp of logic, I'm sure you'll explain this to me.

"Our ability to reason is a gift from God."
_Or maybe our ability to reason is a gift of our evolutionary heritage, and the un-divine revelation of biology textbooks provide us with a foundation we can take a leap of faith to without invoking our reasoning.

"How do you know that past survival was not based on false beliefs?"
_Doesn't really matter. As I said, if what we perceive as real is not what is really real, it still makes no sense to act as if it's otherwise. Even if what humans perceive isn't really real, we still have every reason to act as if it is, and no good reasons not to.

And again, you have the same problem. What if your 'divine revelation' was revealed to you by an illogical god, or one which wanted to deceive you into irrationality?

Besides, since we interpret reality the same way you divinely revealed theists do, we can be quite confident it's real, I'm sure :)

"You’ve misunderstood me, ALL reasoning BEGINS with faith."
_Now you'll have to present me with the argument that faith justifies belief. Because if it doesn't, then I actually did understand you - you leapt to an unjustified belief and use it to try to justify your other beliefs.

"According to whom?"
_According to coherentism, silly! Do you think about your questions before you ask them?

"His logic said he was dead."
_It was illogical. His little 'logic' argument went like this:
1. I am dead.
2. I bleed.
3. Therefore, dead men bleed.

The first premise was false. The conclusion was also false. It hurts me to see you try to grapple with the very idea of what logic is. I'd recommend checking out www.fallacyfiles.org for a good couple of reads.

"How do you know this? Did you logically deduce it?"
_No, I observed it. Empiricism. If the relationships between numbers, propositions etc don't exist as humans perceive them... well, it doesn't really matter.

I said: "As long as reality is what we understand as reality, we can trust reasoning insofar as it is logical."

You asked:
"1. Do you know this, if so how?"
_Because in reality as we perceive it, numbers, propositions etc have certain relationships with one another. We describe them using the term 'logic.' If this reality is real, then logic is real. If logic is real, then reasoning is sound insofar as it conforms to reality.

"2. Those univesral, abstract, invariant laws of logic again?"
_As far as we know.

"Also, if you NOW believe that you cannot know anything outside of the fact that you exist (even though that too is fallacious), every time you make a knowledge claim, you are being inconsistent with your stated beliefs."
_That's an interesting point. It depends on what we mean by 'knowledge.' There's a colloquial use, and a more precise use. I think we've been using the colloquial sense of the word. More precisely, to 'know' something one must believe it, and it must also be true. However, due to the nature of our reality, we can't ever really 'know' something to be true, can we (neither you nor I).

That's why I like the term 'belief.' A belief is an attitude about a proposition. Beliefs are stronger when they have evidence; weaker when they don't. When they lack evidence entirely, they're called 'faith.'

My belief that it makes no sense to act as if reality is something other than as we perceive it has evidence to it. All evidence indicates that all humans experience in their lifetime is what they perceive. Whether or not they choose to accept it as reality, they can be hurt, happy, healthy, inhuman... we may as well accept reality as we perceive it.


Anyway, my belief in my ability to reason is based on my beliefs about reality. They're coherently justified, I believe, and whether or not you believe it is sound justification does not change the truth of the matter, nor does it change human perception. I rest my case.

Sye TenB said...

Alright, I'm getting tired of this. Let me just sum up your argument with one of your quotes:

However, due to the nature of our reality, we can't ever really 'know' something to be true, can we (neither you nor I).

You say that "we can't ever really know anything," but apparently THAT you can know!!! Then you make the knowledge claim that I can't know anything either!!! If you don't see the fallaciousness of this reasoning, then I see no point in continuing.

You may not like the Christian claim of divine revelation, but only through the revelation of an ompnipotent being can ANYTHING be known for certain. So those things which you know for certain, and are now pretending not to know, are those things which betray your stated beliefs.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Romans 1:21


Lets face it, you deny God so that you can be your own God, with no accountabilty to anyone, or anything, not even to logicical argumentation.

Dan Marvin said...

I can't hold a candle to your logical reasoning Sye, good job. You have my attention

Gman please humble yourself and pray tonight and ask God to manifest himself to you...he will.

G-man said...

Alright, I overlooked something.

If "I think, therefore I am" is the foundation for our beliefs, then I'm pretty sure we can infer from that one other foundational belief at least - that we can't know anything else in the same sense (the more precise, rather than the colloquial).

But I suppose that's rather off-topic. That assumes a foundationalist justification for belief, which I don't stand by. I stand by a coherentist justification for belief.

It's not like I can have a meaningful conversation with you about it. You're impatient, critical, narrow-minded, and you wave around your logic trivia without demonstrating a basic grasp of what it even is - all Fruits of the Spirit, to be sure...

But back to you and your divine revelation.

I don't know what led you to nose-dive into this little ditch and refuse to emerge, Sye, but maybe your answers to a few questions will illuminate me.

First of all, you've yet to respond to my claim that you cannot know whether your divine revelation is 'divine' at all, whether the revealer is or is not logical, or whether the revealer does or does not plan to trick you into having a false understanding of reason and logic.

On the other hand, it seems likely that creatures with true beliefs about the world would survive rather than those with false - which makes, as far as I can tell, an evolutionary explanation for our reasoning ability a rather strong one.

I deny God because there is no such thing as an all-powerful, all-good, all-knowing being. There are naturalistic explanations for a sufficient segment of reality to make it an intellectual copout and unnecessary wishful thinking to postulate a supreme being.


And until you finally get around to providing an example of "logicical" argumentation, I'll be waiting with bated breath.

G-man said...

"I can't hold a candle to your logical reasoning Sye, good job."

_I'm not sure if this is good or bad news. It could be good news in that your inability to hold a candle to Sye's 'logical reasoning' is precisely because it isn't logical reasoning...

Or it could be bad in that you want to 'logically reason' like Sye. I can't say I'd prefer either for you, my friend.

Sye TenB said...

I stand by a coherentist justification for belief.

How do you know if one thing you believe coheres with anything else you believe?

I deny God because there is no such thing as an all-powerful, all-good, all-knowing being.

Prove your claim please.

G-man said...

"How do you know if one thing you believe coheres with anything else you believe?"
_Everything makes sense in light of everything else. It's a 'web' of justification.

"Prove your claim please."
_I can't. I made it because it's very probably true.

Now, would you please address the rest of my claims? In case you'd forgotten, they were these:

1. You can't know the revelation is 'divine.'
2. You can't know whether the being that revealed this knowledge is a logical/reasonable being.
3. You can't know whether the being gave you the revelation in order to confuse you with false logic/reasoning.

And while you're at it, go ahead and explain how a leap of faith can justify a belief.

Sye TenB said...

"How do you know if one thing you believe coheres with anything else you believe?"

Everything makes sense in light of everything else. It's a 'web' of justification.

This is a statement, not an argument, you just reworded my question. But, since you insist: How do you know whether anything makes sense, in light of anything else? You FIRST have to assume that your reasoning is trustworthy in order to interperet ANYTHING you are perceiving. If you don’t FIRST assume trustworthy reasoning, all bets are off.

"Prove your claim please."

I can't. I made it because it's very probably true.

Prove that your claim that there is no God is ‘very probably true’ please.

Now, would you please address the rest of my claims? In case you'd forgotten, they were these:

I do not see the point in answering your knowledge claims when you have said, and demonstrated, that indeed you cannot know anything. You say that you can’t know anything for certain, and then claim to know what I can’t know!!! If I answered your questions, then I would be supporting your fallacious reasoning. If you have again changed your mind, and now believe that you CAN know things for certain, please tell me how, then we can continue.

I will, however, toss you this bone: If there were an omniscient, omnipotent being, could this being reveal knowledge to us in such a way that we could have certainty about things this being wanted us to be certain about? If not, why not?

G-man said...

Well, perhaps we've reached an impasse, Sye.

I didn't have to make a rational argument to come to the conclusion that rational arguments exist. I happen to hold that conclusion, though.

The coherentist philosophy of justifying beliefs means I don't need to justify my trust in reason and logic on a single argument (which requires reasoning and logic). I can justify my trust in reason and logic on a variety of other things, including the nature of the reality I perceive, and what I can learn from other people who inhabit this reality.

"Prove that your claim that there is no God is ‘very probably true’ please."
_I think I'll leave that for another discussion. It's a bit off-topic.

In the mean time, let me be as clear as I can be.

I believe things. I don't claim to 'know' things in the sense of knowing beyond a shadow of doubt.

I believe that your justification for your trust in reason and logic is unfounded. I've explained why, and you have, so far, been either unwilling or (as I'm becoming more convinced) unable to answer.

In answer to your last question:
Yes of course. However, the objections remain. If you don't attempt to answer those three objections, I'll be forced to conclude that you can't answer them. I'm pretty sure that would leave you in the position of being unable to justify your beliefs. I look forward to your response.

Sye TenB said...

The coherentist philosophy of justifying beliefs means I don't need to justify my trust in reason and logic on a single argument (which requires reasoning and logic). I can justify my trust in reason and logic on a variety of other things, including the nature of the reality I perceive, and what I can learn from other people who inhabit this reality.

The problem G-man, is that you have to FIRST trust your ability to reason in order to interperet your perception of any ONE thing, and in order be able to determine whether any ONE of those ‘variety of other things,’ coheres with any other of those ‘variety of other things,’ in order to justify the trustworthiness of your ability to reason.

How about this, please state any ONE of your beliefs and please tell me how your coherentism justifies it.


"Prove that your claim that there is no God is ‘very probably true’ please."

I think I'll leave that for another discussion. It's a bit off-topic.

Maybe you can do your next post on it.

I believe things. I don't claim to 'know' things in the sense of knowing beyond a shadow of doubt.

In what sense do you claim to know things then?!?
In what sense do you know that you don’t ‘claim to know things in the sense of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt?’


I believe that your justification for your trust in reason and logic is unfounded.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but why should I care what you believe?

As to your objections, since you insist, I will address them:

1. You can't know the revelation is 'divine.'

How do you know what I can’t know? This is a knowledge claim which contradicts your stated beliefs. Still, as you have admitted if there were an omniscient, omnipotent being, this being could reveal knowledge to us in such a way that we could have certainty about things this being wanted us to be certain about. God wanted us to be certain about the divinity of His revelation, and has revealed this to us, THAT is how I know the relevation is divine.

2. You can't know whether the being that revealed this knowledge is a logical/reasonable being.

How do you know what I can’t know? This is a knowledge claim which contradicts your stated beliefs. Still, as you have admitted if there were an omniscient, omnipotent being, this being could reveal knowledge to us in such a way that we could have certainty about things this being wanted us to be certain about. God wanted us to be certain about His logical nature, and has revealed this to us, THAT is how I know that God is logical.

3. You can't know whether the being gave you the revelation in order to confuse you with false logic/reasoning.

How do you know what I can’t know? This is a knowledge claim which contradicts your stated beliefs. Still, as you have admitted if there were an omniscient, omnipotent being, this being could reveal knowledge to us in such a way that we could have certainty about things this being wanted us to be certain about. God wanted us to be certain that His revelation is not false, and has revealed this to us, THAT is how I know that the revelation is not false.

Again, you do not have to like my justification for logic or reasoning, but as you have admitted, it is a justification which does offer certainty of knowledge whereas yours, as you have admitted, does not. Please be consistent with your stated beliefs and refrain from making knowledge claims, better yet, give them up.

(I've highlighted my questions so that you can better find them in order to respond to them).

Rhology said...

G-man,

Everything Sye has said, I'd say too. Just so you know. ;-)

Rhology said...

I'd add for the benefit of G-man and all y'all readers out there: G-man has admitted that his foundation is based on faith, which is Sye's point all along.
Then he criticises Sye (and me) for holding to theism by faith. The irony is thick.

G-man said...

Rhology -

"Everything Sye has said, I'd say too. Just so you know."
_*Groan* another one bites the dust.

"G-man has admitted that his foundation is based on faith"
_Where did I admit this?

"which is Sye's point all along."
_Actually it isn't. Sye's point is that I can't justify reasoning and logic at all... unless I've misread.

"Then he criticises Sye (and me) for holding to theism by faith."
_Imagine that you actually took all your beliefs on reasonable justification, rather than faith.

Then imagine that I laughed at your hypocrisy for taking your beliefs based on reason. Come on. You seem to believe faith is a good and trustworthy justification for belief. You should be congratulating me if, in fact, I did justify my beliefs using faith.

Yes, the irony is indeed thick :)

G-man said...

Wow, I really don't know how to be any clearer about this, but I'll try.

All I know is that I exist.

Everything else is belief. Remember that belief does NOT = faith.

So I'm not making 'knowledge' claims in the precise sense of the word (knowledge beyond a shadow of doubt). I am making belief claims.

Unfortunately, due to the way the word is used colloquially, I'm afraid I have before (and will probably continue to) used the word 'know' when 'believe' would have been more suitable. Please recognize this.

Look, I already trust reason and logic. I'm not trying to argue myself or anybody else to that position. Now that I believe it, though, I can reference other aspects of reality to justify it.

For one thing, it's like questioning basic math. That's what logic is. However, if those logical relationships do not actually exist between numbers, then it's pretty obvious that the rest of the reality I perceive is false.

If that's the case, there's no point in me even listening to you question my belief in logic and reason :)

However, since my beliefs about numbers are connected by threads to a variety of other aspects of reality (for instance, that others believe in the same relationships between numbers; that they have been taught those relationships by yet others; that all reality as we know it operates in accordance to those relationships), I'd call it trust, rather than faith.

"Please don’t take this the wrong way, but why should I care what you believe?"
_I could say the same to you.

You see, you've yet to tackle the question of how faith can justify beliefs. For instance, if Rhology had faith that a rock was a divine revelation from God, and took the leap of faith to justify his reasoning, would you applaud his well-founded approach to reality?

If not, why does yours deserve any more credit?

Your answers don't really give any insight:

1. You can't know the revelation is 'divine.'

"Still, as you have admitted if there were an omniscient, omnipotent being, this being could reveal knowledge to us in such a way that we could have certainty about things this being wanted us to be certain about."
_However, just as probably, this being could reveal false knowledge.

"God wanted us to be certain about the divinity of His revelation, and has revealed this to us, THAT is how I know the relevation is divine."
_That merely assumes the revelation is divine. Rhology can assume his rock is divine as much as he want, but that doesn't make it so. If the revelation is not, in fact, divine, then you have no foundation for calling it divine in retrospect - thus, you cannot trust the reasoning that led you to the above conclusion.

Care to try again?

2. You can't know whether the being that revealed this knowledge is a logical/reasonable being.

"God wanted us to be certain about His logical nature, and has revealed this to us, THAT is how I know that God is logical."
_This assumes that the revealer is logical. However, if the revealer is not logical, then your revelation has led you to an unreasonable belief (that the revealer is logical). Thus, you can't trust the reasoning that has led you to the above conclusion.

Care to try again?

3. You can't know whether the being gave you the revelation in order to confuse you with false logic/reasoning .

"God wanted us to be certain that His revelation is not false, and has revealed this to us, THAT is how I know that the revelation is not false."
_This assumes that the revealer acted on the motivation to give you a true revelation. However, if the revealer did not act on that motivation, then the revelation has led you to a false belief (that the revealer acted on the motivation to give you a true revelation). Thus, you can't trust the reasoning that has led you to the above conclusion.

"but as you have admitted, it is a justification which does offer certainty of knowledge"
_Not funny, Sye. If your mind works well enough to form coherent sentences (which it often does), then you should have the reading comprehension to understand what I've written (and, hopefully, the depth of character to read responsibly).

Thus, you should know that I admitted that a higher creative power could have made humans with the ability to form true beliefs. That is all I admitted. It is just as probable that a higher creative power made humans with the inability to form true beliefs.

Of course, seeing as how most humans are unable to reason accurately, I'd be tempted to say that it's more probable that such a hypothetical higher power made them with the inability, in most or all cases, to form true beliefs. But I digress.

If reality is real, we can trust logic and reasoning. If reality isn't real, nothing actually matters :)

Even if nothing actually matters, I *believe* things do. I shall continue to act on that assumption. If you're uncomfortable with justifying your beliefs thus, it's fine with me - you can continue to base your beliefs on faith (without explaining how it is valid to do so) in a flawed and clearly untrustworthy manner. I guess I can only wish you the best.

Sye TenB said...

Alright, I asked you this question:

If there were an omniscient, omnipotent being, could this being reveal knowledge to us in such a way that we could have certainty about things this being wanted us to be certain about? If not, why not?

You answered:

Yes of course.

Clearly you have admitted that this is a justification which offers certainty of knowledge, and this is exactly what I claim.

AGAIN, you do not have to like my claim, you don’t even have to agree that I have proven it, but AS YOU HAVE ADMITTED, it is a claim which OFFERS certainty of knowledge.

Now to the challenge which you missed:

How about this, please state any ONE of your beliefs and please tell me how your coherentism justifies it.

I could sift through your post point by point, but you have a tendency to conveniently miss questions that I ask if I make my post too long, so lets just keep it to that ONE challenge shall we?

G-man said...

"AS YOU HAVE ADMITTED, it is a claim which OFFERS certainty of knowledge."

_True, but remember this:

It is also a claim which offers no certainty of knowledge whatsoever. I want that to be clear. There are a few options in this regard: The omniscient, omnipresent being could (a) want to offer certainty of knowledge, and be successful, (b) want to offer certainty of knowledge, but be unable to do so, (c) not want to offer certainty of knowledge.

There may be a few other alternatives, but it seems that there are more options out there which would provide us with no certainty of knowledge. If we're going by the odds (as you have to, in the absence of reason), I'd think that it's more likely such a being would not provide certainty of knowledge. Feel free to challenge that idea.

Second, the biological evolutionary account for logic and reasoning also offers certainty of knowledge. In fact, as I've mentioned before, those groups best able to form true beliefs about their reality would tend to survive, rather than those that were not able to do so.

Given those two options, you're presented with one which situation which gives no indication that it would result in true beliefs, and one which actually does give an indication that it would result in true beliefs.

"Now to the challenge which you missed:"
_I actually tried to answer that earlier in the post. I'll see if I can rephrase.

"However, since my beliefs about numbers are connected by threads to a variety of other aspects of reality (for instance, that others believe in the same relationships between numbers; that they have been taught those relationships by yet others; that all reality as we know it operates in accordance to those relationships), I'd call it trust, rather than faith."

Now, hopefully this can be a two-way street. Feel free to ask me further questions on that particular challenge, but while you're at it, please answer one of mine.

I'll make it easy - we'll forget those three questions for now. Just explain to me how faith justifies all belief. It it does, then I just may consider basing all my beliefs on faith. I'm sure I could feel quite confident with that sort of justification.

Sye TenB said...

"AS YOU HAVE ADMITTED, it is a claim which OFFERS certainty of knowledge."

True, but remember this:
It is also a claim which offers no certainty of knowledge whatsoever.


What??? It either does or it doesn’t. You aren’t trying to violate the law of non-contradiction now are you? Plus, you don’t know this, you only believe it remember?

Second, the biological evolutionary account for logic and reasoning also offers certainty of knowledge.

Then why is it that don’t you know things for certain???

"Now to the challenge which you missed:"

I actually tried to answer that earlier in the post. I'll see if I can rephrase.

"However, since my beliefs about numbers are connected by threads to a variety of other aspects of reality (for instance, that others believe in the same relationships between numbers; that they have been taught those relationships by yet others; that all reality as we know it operates in accordance to those relationships), I'd call it trust, rather than faith."


Um, the challenge was to list ONE of your beliefs and tell me how coherentism justifies it. You have done neither. Please try again. What do you believe about numbers, and how does coherentism justify that belief? (Feel free to choose another belief if you wish, just please choose one).

… Just explain to me how faith justifies all belief.

You see G-man, this is the problem debating with you, your position changes with nearly every answer, and you misrepresent my position.
Do you remember when you said that you are an empirisist “through and through?” You even (wrongly) corrected me when I said that empiricists believe that all knowledge is gained through the senses, by saying: “empiricists believe that knowledge is best gained though the senses actually.” For someone who is an empricist through and through, how is it that you NOW claim not to know anything? (I also asked you how else empiricists know things then, but you ignored that question - I guess that is because you NOW believe that they don’t know ANYTHING after all).

As far as ‘faith justifying all belief,’ I ignored that question, because it was a misrepresentation of what I claim. I said faith is the basis for ALL reasoning. Generic faith justifies NOTHING. One could have faith that a 2 legged chair made out of paper would hold them up, THAT faith does not justify the belief that the chair would hold one up. My claim is that faith in God, AS YOU HAVE ADMITTED, offers certainty of KNOWLEDGE.
I asked why I should care what you believe, and AGAIN you did not answer, you just turned the question back on me. Well, I can answer you. You should care what I KNOW, because I KNOW that people who die in their sins are destined for Hell.

I am commanded in Titus 3:10 to: "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him."

Please take this as your first warning. If you continue to change your position, and continue to misrepresent mine, I will understand that as intentional divisiveness, and no longer post here.

G-man said...

I should've known you'd read it like that... ok, let me re-state.

The existence of an omnipotent, omniscient higher power offers

*certainty of knowledge*
AND
*uncertainty of knowledge*

It doesn't violate the principle of non-contradiction, I simply failed to construct my original sentence as clearly as I intended.

These are simply offers. Say you're thirsty and you knock on my door. The existence of a sentient being inside (me) offers

*water*
AND
*not-water*

It's simply the possibility. Neither is more likely - each option depends on the nature of the sentient being. The same is true of your faith in a higher power to justify your reasoning. You cannot possibly have any idea which offering is actually true; you simply know what is offered.

And yes, I don't 'know' this beyond a shadow of doubt. I believe it.

You ask why it is that I don't know things for certain when the biological evolutionary account also offers certainty of knowledge. It's quite simple:

It doesn't guarantee certainty of knowledge.

If it did, then I would know things for certain. If the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent higher power guaranteed certainty of knowledge (and it does NOT), then you could also claim to know things for certain too.

As it stands, you cannot.

Your challenge:
"Um, the challenge was to list ONE of your beliefs and tell me how coherentism justifies it."
_I used the example of my belief about the relationships between numbers.

I'm not going to list all the relationships between numbers that I believe exist. They include, for example, that you can add two numbers together and get a different number, which represents the previous two combined.

Anyway, I suppose my error (which you took as changing positions) was in calling myself an empiricist. I haven't actually changed my position on anything, I have simply elaborated. I believe it is through the senses that beliefs are best formed (not certain knowledge). And yes, I used my senses to come to that belief. When I called myself an empiricist, I was still operating on a more colloquial sense of the word 'knowledge,' and, it seems, a flawed understanding of empiricism.

My challenge
"you misrepresent my position"
_Only when you're unclear about what it actually is.

It seems to me that what you're saying is that one must place faith in a higher power in order to trust reason and logic. Reason and logic, then, are responsible for justifying the rest of our knowledge. Good so far?

As you pointed out, "Generic faith justifies NOTHING." It's from this that I gather the above.

So, your faith justifies reason and logic, and reason and logic justify everything else. By extension, then, faith justifies all belief. Did I really misrepresent your position?

"My claim is that faith in God, AS YOU HAVE ADMITTED, offers certainty of KNOWLEDGE."
_I hope I already made this clear, but I suppose I can elaborate just a bit: This means nothing. An infinite number of things could offer certainty of knowledge. Faith in any of them could, possibly, justify certainty of knowledge. That doesn't make it the case that they do.

"You should care what I KNOW"
_Pshaw. You don't know jack. You just believe, same as me. Occasionally, you believe when there is no evidence or good reasons for doing so... this, we call faith. I try to avoid it.


"If you continue to change your position, and continue to misrepresent mine, I will understand that as intentional divisiveness, and no longer post here."
_Well, you have absolutely 0 good reason to trust your own understanding, so far, so I'm not quite sure what to do with this warning. I will, however, claim for the record that I have not (to my knowledge) changed my position, nor have I misrepresented Sye's.

Sye TenB said...

Well, you have absolutely 0 good reason to trust your own understanding, so far, so I'm not quite sure what to do with this warning. I will, however, claim for the record that I have not (to my knowledge) changed my position, nor have I misrepresented Sye's.

TO YOUR KNOWLEDGE?!?!?!??!?!?!?

I rest my case.

Cheers,

Sye

G-man said...

I said this three posts ago:

"Unfortunately, due to the way the word is used colloquially, I'm afraid I have before (and will probably continue to) used the word 'know' when 'believe' would have been more suitable. Please recognize this."

The phrase 'to my knowledge' is another way of saying 'as I recollect' or 'if memory serves.'

It's a colloquialism.

...But you say I misrepresent your positions?

I'd like to repeat an earlier question: Do you think about your questions before you ask them?

-----

For the record:

- You challenged my trust in reason and logic. Your alternative, however, cannot answer a set of very simple and essential questions.

- The consequence of those three questions is that you, Sye, cannot trust your reasoning or logic on the grounds you claim to.

- You've failed to explain how a leap of faith can justify all knowledge.

- You've offered no reason to reject evolutionary biology's ability to justify reason and logic in favor of 'divine revelation's.' It just so happens that no such reason exists.

- You've claimed to be able to know things beyond a shadow of doubt. This is ludicrous coming from someone who adopts your understanding of justifying belief.

- You haven't responded to the idea that if reality is real, logic and reasoning are trustworthy.

Yeah, it's about time you rested your case, Sye.

Few people will read my review, and you won't change your circular, illogical website either. All I can do is leave you with something you have up for public scrutiny on your site: He who hates correction is stupid.

Sye TenB said...

Look, you have admitted that you don't know anything, AND you have admitted that an omnipotent, omniscient God offers a justification for certainty, I could have rested my case way back then.

I just thought I'd continue so you could do things like admit that you were an empiricist 'through and through,' and then tell us that you don't know what an empiricist is.

I have no problem leaving the record as it is.

Cheers,

Sye

G-man said...

*Shrug* I know precisely as much as you do, so I don't see what your point is.

I've admitted that God offers a justification for knowledge, similarly to the way evolutionary biology - or even a rock - offers justification for certainty.

You've had no case from the beginning. All of the points you've attempted to make apply to you as well.

I take no pleasure in seeing you continue in your ignorance, invalid logic, wild and ungrounded attempts to justify your knowledge; your hypocrisy, and your unwillingness to attempt to answer the very questions you asked me.

In fact, it's more than a little frustrating.

It's also a little scary. However, the record stands for itself, for what it's worth.

Take care.

Sye TenB said...

I've admitted that God offers a justification for knowledge, similarly to the way evolutionary biology - or even a rock - offers justification for certainty.

Interesting though, how you claim that there are other ways to knowledge, but don't believe any of them, for surely if you did, you would know things, which you have admitted you do not.

You banty about the term 'logic' as if logic makes sense in a coherentist, or even an empiricist worldview. Logic is based on universal, invariants, and nothing in either the coherentist or empiricist worldview offers justification for them. To call something 'illogical,' from your perspective, refutes the very things you claim to believe.

When you state your beliefs, all you are doing is making subjective statements. How does one argue with a person who says "I don't know that evolutionary biology, or rocks offer certainty of knowledge, I only believe it?!?

According to your worldview, you don't know what is logical or illogical, it is only your subjective opinion. Telling me that I am in the same boat is either a knowledge claim, which refutes your position, or a subjective belief, which renders it meaningless.

Anyone reading this can see through your 'colloquial definition' smoke screen. You make knowledge claims, and when you are called on them, you retreat to your "I only believe it, I don't know it" mantra.

Sure, you can spout that nonsense, but you can't live that way.

I will pray for you.

Cheers,

Sye

G-man said...

I guess I've been giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you're smart enough to understand some basic things... but apparently a distinction must be made clear.

That distinction is between ' offer ' and ' guarantee. '

If I can offer you a drink, does that mean I guarantee you that drink?

No.

Likewise, an omnipotent, omnipresent higher power can *offer* you certainty of knowledge, but that does not mean (or even suggest) that it *guarantees* you that certainty.

Yes, dear readers, I have said that the (hypothetical) existence of such a higher power offers certainty of knowledge - but such an offer is not even probable, much less guaranteed.

The same can be said of evolutionary biology. The only thing one can know (beyond a shadow of doubt - that is the definition of 'know' we are using) is that one exists. Everything else is a belief. That goes for Sye and me, and everybody else.


"as if logic makes sense in a coherentist, or even an empiricist worldview."
_If there's a worldview, I imagine there must be a world. If there's a world, then logic does make sense. It describes reality. If that reality doesn't exist, then neither do worldviews :)

"When you state your beliefs, all you are doing is making subjective statements."
_Really? How do you know? (Remember, to *know,* you must be able to answer the three questions I keep referring back to... go ahead and try).

"According to your worldview, you don't know what is logical or illogical, it is only your subjective opinion."
_That's only true for me if it's true for you. Your justification for certainty is based on faith. You've yet to show how faith can justify all knowledge. Otherwise, you suppose that God can offer you certainty of knowledge. Well, so can evolutionary biology, and neither makes a stronger offering than the other - just a chance.

"Anyone reading this can see through your 'colloquial definition' smoke screen."
_Whatever. I say 'know' because I'm used to saying 'know.' I don't usually mean 'know beyond a shadow of doubt,' which is the definition you insist on using - and by which definition YOU can't make knowledge claims either, beyond "I exist."

"I will pray for you."
_How do you know, Sye? I know this line of questioning is annoying, but you can't actually know anything. Sound familiar?

Sye TenB said...

The only thing one can know (beyond a shadow of doubt - that is the definition of 'know' we are using) is that one exists.

First of all, as I have already explained, YOU can't even know that you exist. Secondly, do you KNOW that the only thing one can know is that one exists? Is so, that would be 2 things, and so on, and so on. If you only BELIEVE it, who cares?

Everything else is a belief. That goes for Sye and me, and everybody else.

You still don't get it do you? Since, you claim to ONLY know that you exist, then you can't KNOW what 'goes for me,' you can only believe it, and again, who cares what you believe?

Like I have said MANY times, you don't have to agree with my claim to knowledge, BUT AS YOU HAVE ADMITTED it is a claim which OFFERS certainty of knowledge, nothing you have mentioned does the same. Surely if you BELIEVED it did, you would know things, and you do not, thus refuting that very claim.

Cheers

G-man said...

The key to this whole argument lies near the end of your last post. If I knew where you were going with this earlier, I would have responded.

You said, "it is a claim which offers certainty of knowledge"

_It offers certainty of knowledge, obviously, because it is possible that a higher power would create minions able to understand its uniform universe. However, it takes reason to come to that conclusion.

Sye, let me ask you directly: How did you come to the conclusion that a higher power offers certainty of logic/reason? Did you use your reason? This should be interesting :)

"nothing you have mentioned does the same."
_Actually, an infinite number of things, which I have mentioned, do the same. You trust your reason to conclude that a higher power's existence could offer the possibility of certainty of reason... then you take your leap of faith.

I've been talking about something quite different. I've been trying to answer a much more difficult question.

Sye, you have to trust your reason to conclude that a higher power can offer trustworthy reasoning, don't you? If that's valid, then I can trust my reason to conclude that evolutionary biology can offer trustworthy reasoning. Thus, an infinite number of claims can do the same.

"as I have already explained, YOU can't even know that you exist."
_I can't find where you said that. Sounds ridiculous.

"and again, who cares what you believe?"
_You're implying that a belief is a weak claim. It doesn't have to be.

You can claim that you can *know* things until you're blue in the face. That doesn't change the fact that you can't. All you can know is what I can know - that I exist (and, I suppose, that I can't know anything else the same way).

Feel free to keep digging deeper though. One of these days that 'God-given' logic will show up from your end... hopefully.

Sye TenB said...

G-man, it is one thing to have to address your arguments once, it is quite another to have to do it over and over again.

Sye, let me ask you directly: How did you come to the conclusion that a higher power offers certainty of logic/reason? Did you use your reason? This should be interesting :)

From the “Proving God” entry comment (July 31, 10:34 PM) Um no, I never said that ANYONE could reason that God exists, this is revealed to ALL of us by Him. You see, ALL reasoning is dependent on God, if one could reason that God existed autonomously, then what they would end up reasoning to, would not be God at all.

"as I have already explained, YOU can't even know that you exist."

_I can't find where you said that. Sounds ridiculous.

From this entry comment (Aug. 3 8:55pm) “I think, therefore I am” is fallacious reasoning, all one could say, is “I think, therefore there is thinking.”

Your response: _Ooh, Sye 1, Descartes 0 (Aug. 4 1:12 am)

"and again, who cares what you believe?"

Again, unanswered.

You can claim that you can *know* things until you're blue in the face. That doesn't change the fact that you can't.

AGAIN, how do you know what I can’t know?!? You don’t know what I can or cannot know, you can only make a subjective belief claim, and AGAIN, who cares what you believe?

_It offers certainty of knowledge, obviously, because it is possible that a higher power would create minions able to understand its uniform universe. However, it takes reason to come to that conclusion.

Which proves that you believe in God, for you used reasoning to come to that conclusion, and nothing you have offered justifies your ability to reason.

Goodbye G-man.

G-man said...

It's so hard for me to imagine what it must feel like to have that brain stuck in your noggin. I'm going to try to sort this out.

Sye's justification of knowledge:

1. You are unable to use reason or logic.

2. You take a leap of faith to believe that a higher power exists.

(Although without reason and logic, there is nothing that would lead you to even the suggestion that a higher power exists)

3. You take a leap of faith to conclude that such a higher power could offer you certainty of reason and logic.

(Although there is nothing to suggest that such a being would make that offer, unless you use reason and logic)

4. You take a leap of faith to conclude that the higher power both exists and guarantees you certainty of reason and logic!

(Although there is nothing to suggest either conclusion!)

5. You look back and realize that reason and logic can't possibly lead you to the conclusions that you now hold.

You have justified your system of belief by faith, even though the reason and logic you now hold demonstrate that faith does not justify belief!

How can an idea like this stay afloat with so many holes?

Knowledge:

"From this entry comment..."
_I responded in the very next comment. I said,

" ...how can one think unless one exists? With your powerful grasp of logic, I'm sure you'll explain this to me. "

I thought we'd covered that point, as you neglected to respond.

" AGAIN, how do you know what I can’t know?!? "
_Same back to you, buddy. You'd better justify how you know things. You haven't come even close.

I'm going to keep asking you this: How does faith justify knowledge?

PS: A belief claim is not subjective. A belief is an attitude about a proposition. If that proposition is, in fact, correct, then that belief is 'knowledge.' You believe things, Sye, and you're going to have to answer a few questions before you can say you *know* anything. Until then, I guess, why should I care what you have to say?

As I noted before, everything you say smacks you right back in the face.

" Which proves that you believe in God, for you used reasoning to come to that conclusion "
_Nope.

"nothing you have offered justifies your ability to reason."
_Wow... as I said in my last post, 'Actually, an infinite number of things, which I have mentioned , do the same.' (Emphasis mine)


Here's the long and the short of it:

If faith justifies knowledge, then I can justify my knowledge in the precise same way as you. Please observe:

1. We both can't use our reason or logic.

2. You take a leap of faith to believe that a higher power exists. I take a leap of faith to believe that humans evolved from primate ancestors. It's a leap of faith, so neither has a justification for doing so.

3. You take a leap of faith to conclude that such a higher power could offer you certainty of reason and logic (because it wants its creations to use reason and logic).

I take a leap of faith to conclude that an evolutionary explanation offers me certainty of reason and logic (because those creatures with the best grasp of reason and logic would have a greater tendency to survive than those using unsound reasoning).

4. You take a leap of faith to conclude that the higher power both exists and guarantees you certainty of reason and logic. I do the same for my explanation.

We both decide that faith is a sound justification for knowledge, and we have a pointless squabble about it.

That would put us on the same ground, Sye. However, I believe it is shaky - even nonexistent. I believe in reasoning and logic based on the coherentist philosophy of justification.

It has not been a pleasure debating you. I've mentioned just why that is through the course of this discussion, so there's no need for me to elaborate here. I'm sure Heaven will be full of people just like you. For that reason alone, if nothing else, Goodbye forever.