Monthly Archives: November 2014

Advent 2014

Just to get into the spirit of the season:

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Circular Reasoning, the Bible, and Atheism

I had a discussion the other day in which my interlocutor cited “reading the Bible” as the cause of his atheism. This perplexed me. And he is not the only one who has said this.  Here is a common meme expressing the same sentiment:

So, here is my response, in meme form:

IMG_0973.JPG

If you are interested in how to approach scripture, I recommend reading Dei Verbum.

Problem of Induction

Inspired by my recent little debate: IMG_0937.JPG

A Debate on HEE and the Skeptical Argument against Rationality

Recently, I’ve had a little debate on Facebook that has prompted my interlocutor to take to his own blog in order to clarify his views and rebut my argument. Unfortunately, in the process, I believe my own position has been misrepresented, so I thought I would discuss some of the issues here and respond to some of his claims.

Essentially, my interlocutor fails to understand why Hume’s skeptical argument against rationalism is problematic for his particular epistemology.  In fact, he thinks the argument can be ignored precisely because it leads to untoward consequences.  And he thinks that I am guilty of special pleading because I do not think this problem affects my own epistemology. But before I respond to these issues, a little background on the debate is needed.
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The Ontological Argument From Transcendence 2.0

I’ve presented my own version of Anselm’s ontological argument here and I’ve also argued for an ontological argument using “more transcendent” rather than “greater” here. Combining the two, and refining the argument, I got this:

1. Something is an Anselmian God if and only if it is conceivable, nothing can be conceived of which is more transcendent, and it necessarily exists (definition Θ).

2. There is something conceivable such that nothing can be conceived of which is more transcendent (premise).

3. For all x, if the possibility of failing to conceive of x implies the possibility that x doesn’t exist, x is mentally dependent (premise).

4. For all x, if x is mentally dependent, there is something conceivable that is more transcendent than x (premise). Therefore,

5. An Anselmian God exists.

Let

Cx – x is conceived
Mx – x is mentally dependent
Txy – x is more transcendent than y
Θx- x is an Anselmian God, that is: (∀x){Θx ≝ ([♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] & ☐(∃z)(z=x))} (Def Θ)

1. (∃x)[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] (premise)
2. (∀x){[♢~Cx ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=x)] ⊃ Mx} (premise)
3. (∀x){Mx ⊃ [(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)]} (premise)
4. (∀x){[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] ⊃ [♢~Cx ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=x)]} (IP)
5. ♢Cu & ~(∃y)(Tyu & ♢Cy) (1 EI)
6. [♢~Cu ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=u)] ⊃ Mu (2 UI)
7. Mu ⊃ [(∃y)(Tyu & ♢Cy)] (3 UI)
8. [♢~Cu ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=u)] ⊃ [(∃y)(Tyu & ♢Cy)] (6,7 HS)
9. [♢Cu & ~(∃y)(Tyu & ♢Cy)] ⊃ [♢~Cu ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=u)] (4 UI)
10. ♢~Cu ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=u) (5,9 MP)
11. (∃y)(Tyu & ♢Cy) (8,10 MP)
12. Tvu & ♢Cv (11 EI)
13. ~(∃y)(Tyu & ♢Cy) (5 Simp)
14. (∀y)~(Tyu & ♢Cy) (13 QN)
15. ~(Tvu & ♢Cv) (14 UI)
16. (Tvu & ♢Cv) & ~(Tvu & ♢Cv) (12,15 Conj)
17. ~(∀x){[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] ⊃ [♢~Cx ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=x)]} (4-16 IP)
18. (∃x)~{[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] ⊃ [♢~Cx ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=x)]} (17 QN)
19. (∃x) ~{~[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] ∨ [♢~Cx ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=x)]} (18 Impl)
20. (∃x){~~[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] & ~[♢~Cx ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=x)]} (19 DeM)
21. (∃x){[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] & ~[♢~Cx ⊃ ♢~(∃z)(z=x)]} (20 DN)
22. (∃x){[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] & ~[~♢~Cx ∨ ♢~(∃z)(z=x)]} (21 Impl)
23. (∃x){[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] & ~[☐Cx ∨ ♢~(∃z)(z=x)]} (22 ME)
24. (∃x){[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] & [~☐Cx & ~♢~(∃z)(z=x)]} (23 DeM)
25. (∃x){[♢Cx & ~(∃y)(Tyx & ♢Cy)] & [~☐Cx & ☐(∃z)(z=x)]} (24 ME)
26. [♢Cu & ~(∃y)(Tyu & ♢Cy)] & [~☐Cu & ☐(∃z)(z=u)] (25 EI)
27. ~☐Cu & ☐(∃z)(z=u) (26 Simp)
28. ☐(∃z)(z=u) (27 Simp)
29. [♢Cu & ~(∃y)(Tyu & ♢Cy)] (26 Simp)
30. [♢Cu & ~(∃y)(Tyu & ♢Cy)] & ☐(∃z)(z=u) (28,29 Conj)
31. Θu (30 Def Θ)
32. (∃x)Θx (31 EG)

[Update 11/9/204] I’ve noticed that some did not understand why if possibility that failing to conceive x implied that x possibly didn’t exist, then a greater could be conceived than x.  I’ve tried to make this more explicit by explaining this in terms of mental dependence.  Here, a concept is not an abstract object, but an object in the mind.

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