Jackson Wheat’s biological Shenanigans

Estimated Reading Time: 23 Minutes

Recently Jackson Wheat decided to respond to my 40-minute video on biological structuralism and argue against the idea of structuralist evolution in favor of functionalist evolution (Neo-Darwinism). Before I get started I want to note I support Jackson’s work in addressing the claims of young-earth creationists. So I hope he doesn’t take this rebuttal personally. 

The reason I note this is because many of the objections he brought against structuralism were not well thought out, and I don’t think he really understands what structuralism truly is (he only seems to gather the gist of it). Most saddening is he didn’t even respond to most of the evidence I presented and misrepresented my claims in a lot of ways. From reading Stephen Jay Gould (after he became a structuralist) and Michael Denton I actually already expected some of these objections to come eventually from opponents, so nothing caught me off guard. So let’s dive into his arguments. 

The first part of the video is simply an explanation of what structuralist believe. His explanation is okay and I am not going to get nit-picky about specifics here and there. However, at 3:27 Jackson, says:

“However, since the features of the human form are the results of incremental modifications that were compiled over many millions of years of evolution it’s unlikely that another life-form would follow the exact same evolutionary route.”

I need to stop here because the errors are piling up so quickly. I know Jackson is addressing specifically the idea of a dinosaur-like human species, but he seems to conflate this with structuralist claims, so I would like to clarify what structuralism states before moving on. First, neither structuralists or functionalists deny evolution results from a series of incremental modifications over millions of years. The question is what are the driving forces of these modifications. This point doesn’t favor functionalism in any way.

Second, structuralists do not say other life forms or any life for has to follow the same route. This is just not true by any standard. In fact, I spent a large chunk of my video arguing for convergent evolution as evidence of structuralism. Convergent evolution, by definition, would mean that different species take different routes and still arrive at very similar forms. Structuralists don’t even say species have to arrive at the exact same structures, only that species tend to arrive at very similar structural plans. This is what I mean about Jackson not understanding the claims of structuralism. He presents something we never claimed was the case.

Third, this brings up the other issue I raised in the beginning. Jackson has simply ignored data I already covered at his convenience. In my video, I covered a study that contradicts this idea. The authors argue that we can predict aliens (if they exist) to follow similar patterns given similar natural constraints. Let me just quote from abstract, “Given aliens undergo natural selection we can say something about their evolution. In particular, we can say something about how complexity will arise in space. Complexity has increased on the Earth as a result of a handful of events, known as the major transitions in individuality. Major transitions occur when groups of individuals come together to form a new higher level of the individual, such as when single-celled organisms evolved into multicellular organisms. Both theory and empirical data suggest that extreme conditions are required for major transitions to occur. We suggest that major transitions are likely to be the route to complexity on other planets, and that we should expect them to have been favoured by similarly restrictive conditions. Thus, we can make specific predictions about the biological makeup of complex aliens.” (1)

So we would except other life forms to have taken similar routes (not the exact same evolutionary route as Jackson says). It is also not like I was arguing this without evidence to support it. As we will see throughout his video, Jackson offers very little evidence to favor functionalism and ignore a large portion of the evidence I presented in favor of structuralism. 

Next at 4:25, Jackson seems to think part of my case for structuralism was the existence of intelligent organisms which implies “the existence of a platonic universe of ideal forms.” This is just not true at all. The existence of intelligent organisms was never used as evidence of structuralism in my video. My main arguments for structuralism were self-assembly processes, convergent evolution, and evo-devo research. I have no clue why Jackson noted the first two but ignored the third area.

The only reason I brought up intelligent organisms was to note a structuralist account of evolution can better explain why intelligence arises over functions accounts relying on contingent histories and chance genetic mutations. This is pretty clear in my video. How on earth Jackson could confuse this is beyond me.

Also, I actually don’t believe in a platonic world any more than Stephen Jay Gould does. I am actually more of a scholastic realist, but I am not nailed down to a particular view. If you notice in my video, the only time the word “platonic” comes up is when it is in quotes. Most of when it is quoted platonism is only used as an analogous way to explain the structuralist argument. For example, remember this quote from Stephen Jay Gould, “I worked piecemeal, producing a set of separate and continually accreting revisionary items along each of the branches of Darwinian central logic, until I realized that a “Platonic” something “up there” in idealogical space could coordinate all these critiques and fascinations into a revised general theory with a retained Darwinian base.” (2)

Obviously, Gould is not a platonist. He is using platonist terminology to explain what he is getting at and that is the only way I would use it as well.

Next, Jackson tries to tackle my evidence for structuralism from convergence, and once again, demonstrates he doesn’t understand structuralism. I will suggest he only shoots himself in the foot. I am going to put the full quote up because, in a way, he makes the argument for me:

“Molecules do self-organize and interact with each other, governed by physical laws and convergent evolution really does happen quite a lot. When organisms enter similar environments they tend to converge on similar forms. For example, prehensile tails have evolved repeatedly in mammals, such as in platyrrhines, opossums and new world porcupines. Now did they evolve their features because their environments are similar, sure, prehensile tails have an adaptive value in an arboreal environment. When you live in a tree it’s helpful to have grasping appendages for keeping yourself from tumbling to the forest floor. This very same argument can be made for every example of convergence that IP shows. The convergent traits have adaptive value in their particular environments. Thus, his numerous examples structuralist interpretation at all.”

What he has just said could have been argued by a structuralist, almost word for word, yet he claims this does not favor structuralism. Why would structuralists be harmed by the idea of organisms adapting to new environments? It is an odd claim for Jackson to make, especially since he forgets that later in his own video he references Edward T. Oakes (from my video) speaking in a colloquial sense of structuralist reliance on environmental constraints. So how does he not realize structuralists predict this?

Remember that one of the core tenants of structuralism is that nature constrains organisms through environmental factors to bring about certain structures, which is why we see so much convergence. We are not claiming some mystical platonic realm is causing convergence in evolution, it is obviously because nature brings about similar environments, which create similar constraints, which brings about similar forms and structures. This should have been obvious. Jackson has only succeeded in explaining environmental mechanisms that structuralist argue for, yet claims this is not evidence for structuralism. Once again, he demonstrates he doesn’t understand structuralist claims. If the environment constraints organism so certain forms come about I see nothing to object to from a structuralist perspective. Nature constraints and brings about similar structures. To quote Stephen Jay Gould, “They write (p. 167): “Given evolution by random drift as a null model, natural selection now becomes a constraint!” Yes, and appropriately so—with no exclamation point needed to register surprise.” (3)

Now here is the important point, because a lot of what I said a functionalist would accept and might be left scratching their head wondering where the disagreement is. This is because structuralism is technically not opposed to functionalism, we simply say functionalism is incomplete and doesn’t follow its own logic. I agree with PZ Myers at the end of Jackson’s video that natural selection works in conjunction with structuralist accounts of evolution. In fact, Stephen Jay Gould has a whole chapter in his book, “The Structure of Evolutionary Theory,” on this very topic where he explains this; titled, “Chapter 10: The Integration of Constraint and Adaptation (Structure and Function) in Ontogeny and Phylogeny: Historical Constraints and the Evolution of Development.” 

Structuralists don’t deny the role of natural selection and adaptations. Gould’s point is functionalists need to simply follow their arguments to their logical conclusions. If organisms, through adaptation, are being constrained by internal genes and environmental factors then the environment (ecological niches) is fine-tuning organisms and causing repeating structures to form. Again, and I cannot stress this enough, structuralist accept adaptive changes, and natural selection, we just say that is an incomplete description of what drives evolution and we need to look at the big picture and accept the role of internal and external constraints driving evolution. To quote Gould again:

“In short, and to summarize these few pages of argument in a paragraph, orthodox Darwinians have not balked at negative constructions of constraint as limits and impediments to the power of natural selection in certain definable situations. But they have been far less willing to embrace positive meanings of constraint as promoters, suppliers, and causes of evolutionary direction and change. This distinction follows logically from the basic premises of Darwinian functionalism, because the admission of a potent and positive version of constraint would compromise the fundamental principle that variation (the structuralist and internalist component of evolution) only proposes, while selection (the functionalist and externalist force) disposes as the only effective cause of change. In considering how structural constraints might limit the power of natural selection to adapt each feature of an organism to each local environment, we recognize that some modes will rank as “benign” for Darwinian functionalists…” (4)

Next Jackson moves on to Hox genes and their involvement in evolution. This was a confusing part of the video for numerous reasons. For one, he completely ignores the fact that I did not shy away from this area of research in my video. I used it as part of my case for structuralism. Why would he think this threatens a structuralist account of evolution? 

Second, the evidence of ancient genes such as Hox genes was not predicted by functionalism. I am not sure why Jackson would bring this subject up as if it somehow supports functionalism. As Rudolf Raff said, “The conservation of a set of clustered genes over half a billion years is difficult enough to accept, but collinearity with body axis defies credibility. Yet it’s true.” (5)

Stephen Jay Gould says, “On the second branch of full efficacy for natural selection as an externalist and functionalist process, the stunning discoveries of extensive deep homologies across phyla separated by more than 500 million years (particularly the vertebrate homologs of arthropod Hox genes)—against explicit statements by architects of the Modern Synthesis (see p. 539) that such homologies could not exist in principle, in a world dominated by their conception of natural selection—forced a rebalancing or leavening of Darwinian functionalism with previously neglected, or even vilified, formalist perspectives based on the role of historical and structural constraints in channeling directions of evolutionary change, and causing the great dumpings and inhomogeneities of morphospace—phenomena that had previously been attributed almost exclusively to functionalist forces of natural selection.” (6)

After discussing the role of Hox genes Jackson then contradicts himself. At 7:40 he says, “This means that the picture IP shows of all the different eyes, all of which come from bilaterally symmetrical animals is full of animals with eyes controlled by homologs of the same pax6 gene family. The eyes shown were therefore not evolved in response to sunlight but are simply variations on the same gene family that existed in all of them.”

Come again? First of all, the picture he is commenting on is a visual representation of a quote from Edward T. Oakes who is being quite colloquial in his description. This is not meant to be a detailed account at this point in the video. Oakes is just trying to move on to the philosophical implications of structuralism. So Jackson is being unfair here. 

Second, eyes do not evolve in response to light? Do you mean organisms do not adapt to their environment? Didn’t Jackson just tell us earlier, “The convergent traits have adaptive value in their particular environments.” Do not organisms evolve by adapting to new environments? That is all Oakes is trying to point out in very colloquial terms. Doesn’t Jackson accept that evolution through adaptations happens? Here, let me just google random quotes from scientists on this.

“The ultimate source of light and energy for life on Earth is the sun, so it is not surprising that virtually all living organisms evolved some kind of response to light.” (7)

“The sun is a very hot body, and most of its rays fall in the region of visible wavelength. This is reasonable since our visual organs have evolved in response to sunlight.” (8)

“Animals that have colonized dimmer environments have evolved superposition eyes in response to lower light levels, and the refracting compound eye is the most common form.” (9)

Now there is a half-truth in what Jackson said. Of course, the eyes that species have now are variations on the same ancient gene family, but they change in various organisms due to environmental constraints and organisms adapting to those constraints. It is not an either-or situation. Of course, evolution works on what is available, no one denies that. The problem for functionalism is that it was originally predicted by the modern synthesis that genes would be constantly modeled and changed, so ancient genes were not predicted to still be found. The fact that ancient genes are still constraining evolutionary changes is evidence in favor of a structuralist account. Numerous structuralists make this case, like Michael Denton and Stephen Jay Gould. 

Next, instead of Jackson actually dealing with a plethora of evidence I presented in the first part of the video he goes back to Oakes’ colloquial phrases. I guess because it is easier to attack. At 8:50, he says, “What about wings? Did wings evolve in response to wind? No, definitely not!

Really? Again, give me a moment to back this up with some quotes.

“The former line derives from thysanuroid insects living on swamp grasses and using paranotal lobes as parachutes, and the latter from thysanuroid insects living in crevices of the soil and using paranotal lobes as sails in the mind.” (10) 

Later in the paper, the same author says, “In the species living on the ground the lobes functioned as a sail and enabled the insect to become airborne thanks to the wind.” (11)

“Allocapnia stoneflies (Capniidae) skim by sailing; they raise their wings in response to wind and are incapable of flapping. Because this behavior is mechanically simpler than flapping, it was originally proposed that sailing might be the ancestral condition.” (12)

Again, Oakes is just speaking in colloquial terms, so Jackson is being quite unfair.

Right after this, Jackson says the one thing that made my jaw drop when I watched this video. This is one quote from him which almost guaranteed to me he has never read anything on structuralism. He says, “If wings evolved in response to wind then why don’t all terrestrial animals have wings. This claim is nonsense!”

Well considering I just quoted scientists above who said very similar things to the colloquial saying that wings evolving in response to wind, this claim is not nonsense. Second, no structuralist says all organism will always evolve in the same way. We have never made this claim. We say certain structures and features will come about due to environmental constraints, but that doesn’t mean the environment is supposed to produce the same thing every time. Take a lesson from an analogy of using the periodic table. Did not the laws of physics constrain nature to bring about each element on the periodic table? If molecules “evolved” (so to speak) in response to the laws of physics why are not all elements the same? The obvious answer is certain physical constraints brought about certain elements given different conditions throughout the universe. Just because the elements of the periodic table were constrained by physical laws that doesn’t mean we would expect to always see the same element forming everywhere. A similar analogy can be drawn from the various protein folds that arise in nature. They are not always the same due to different constraints or factors. 

Likewise, different organisms will fill different ecological niches and wings will come about in similar ways. Different environments produce a plethora of different ecological niches and sometimes, depending on the niche, specific constraints bring about wings, much like how physical laws bring about various elements. Jackson is wasting time attacking a very colloquial saying and it is not charitable of him at all. 

In fact, I agree with what Jackson says right after this, “Particular animals have wings because they living in environments where having wings was selectively advantageous and happened to have had relevant mutations that opened up new adaptive options for their descendants.” Yes, I agree, and I don’t understand why Jackson would think I would disagree with this statement. It is quite clear at this point he doesn’t understand the claims of structuralism. 

At 10:09, Jackson says, “And what about the last one? Did brains evolve in response to the ideal forms that exist as part of the universe? No, again! Enlargement of the human brain was the result of a number of factors.”

Again, structuralists would agree. We argue numerous factors constrains the evolution of life. I feel like Jackson is ignoring what I quoted from Oakes and Dennett and trying to sum of their entire argument in one sentence, which is coming out at as clear misrepresentation. 

Then at 11:18, Jackson says, “Needless to say, no anthropologists are attributing the size of the brain as a response to platonic forms sewn into the fabric of the universe.” 

Neither am I, and neither is Daniel Dennett in the quote I provided in conjunction with the quotes from Oakes. Allow me to provide the quote from Daniel Dennett again to clarify what I am getting at:

“Suppose SETI [Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence] struck it rich, and established communication with intelligent beings on another planet. We would not be surprised to find that they understood and used the same arithmetic that we do. Why not? Because arithmetic is right… The point is clearly not restricted to arithmetic, but to all “necessary truths” — what philosophers since Plato have called a priori knowledge. As Minsky (p. 119) says, “We can expect certain ‘a priori’ structures to appear, almost always, whenever a computation system evolves by selection from a universe of possible processes.” It has often been pointed out that Plato’s curious theory of reincarnation and reminiscence, which he offers as an explanation of the source of our a priori knowledge, bears a striking resemblance to Darwin’s theory, and this resemblance is particularly striking from our current vantage point. Darwin himself famously noted the resemblance in a remark in one of his notebooks. Commenting on the claim that Plato thought our “necessary ideas” arise from the pre-existence of the soul, Darwin wrote: “read monkeys for preexistence (Desmond and Moore 1991, p. 263).” (13)

Dennett is not a platonist, he is using platonic terminology to drive home a point about the existence of why there we can predict the existence of intelligent beings. One does not need to posit a mystical explanation for this. The abstract information that gives rise to intelligence is a part of nature. One can learn abstract arithmetic from seeing empirical objects and adding amounts together. The basic laws of logic and mathematics are clearly displayed in the description of the empirical world for a contingent mind to discover. That is all Dennett is saying. Jackson even knows this quote from Dennett is not advocating direct platonism, as shortly after this he addressed the quote I used from Dennett in an attempt to clarify what Dennett means. 

As for Oakes’ beliefs, I never denied he is being more literal, but as I stated above I am far more in agreement with Stephen Jay Gould that Platonism is used more of an analogy rather than literally accepting platonism. 

The second issue on this point is Jackson has made a category error in saying, “no anthropologists are attributing the size of the brain as a response to platonic forms.” Of course not, because they are not philosophers. The section of the video Jackson is attempting to criticize is where I go over the philosophical implications of structuralism, which is why I quoted two philosophers here. Why on earth would Jackson expect me to quote anthropologists when I am laying out the philosophy of structuralism?

Right after this, Jackson commits an ad hominem fallacy against Edward T. Oakes. To quote, “Where does IP’s quote claiming this comes from you ask? Not an evolutionary biologist or anthropologist, but Catholic theologian and fierce proponent of intelligent design, Edward T. Oakes. Why a theologian instead of a biologist? Reasons I guess.”

This is quite disrespectful, even for Jackson’s own standards. To be fair, in the video description Jackson did correct himself and note Oakes is not a fierce proponent of intelligent design. He is an opponent of intelligent design. Besides that, yes Jackson, there are reasons I quoted someone who has a degree in philosophy when I was talking about philosophy. The reason is that I am talking about philosophy. Notice that roughly the first 30 minutes of the video was filled with quotes from biologists to support this philosophical implication. Why not note that as well? Jackson is better than this. Why doesn’t he make the same note about me quoting Daniel Dennett not being a biologist? Why only attack the credibility of Oakes? Could it be because Dennett is an atheist?

Also, Jackson conveniently leaves out where the quote from Oakes comes from. It is from a book titled, “Fitness of the Cosmos for Life,” which is a book where each chapter has a different author and it is filled with the work of biologists, chemists, paleontologists, etc. It is not like Oakes’ quotes exist in a vacuum. He was asked by the editors of the book (who are scientists) to write on the philosophical implications of the data they are presenting. Jackson is being quite unfair to Oakes in numerous ways. (14)

After this, Jackson hands things over to P.Z. Myers. A couple of months ago P.Z. Myers commented on my video and I was wondering how he even found it. I guess Jackson’s video answered that for me. As you can see there was no real substance to his comment:

Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 4.56.54 PM.png

Myers doesn’t say much I disagree with in Jackson’s video and he comes across as more charitable than Jackson has been in this video. Oddly enough, Myers calls me a structuralist extremist. I really don’t care what they say, but I would not consider myself that, and in fact, I am perfectly willing to criticize someone like Michael Denton for being too extreme in his work on structuralism. I think he takes things too far and argues too much from gaps and doesn’t put enough emphasis on natural selection. So I protest the use of the phrase, “structuralist extremist.” Neither Myers or Jackson bothered to ask me where I stand on this and from Jackson’s response video I can’t help but wonder how much he paid attention to my arguments. (15)

Next, Myers says structuralists like myself “like to think that evolution leads inevitably to human-like forms, ignoring the obvious fact that it leads instead to endless forms most beautiful.” This is obviously a false dichotomy (it seems to be what he implied in his comment on my video screenshot above). No one denies that the evolution of life has produced a plethora of forms and structures. That is not the focus of the debate between functionalist and structuralists, but why the plethora of forms has come about and why intelligent beings have evolved. Was it by chance or was it inevitable? That is where the divide is, not on what evolution produces. As far as I see, neither Jackson or P.Z. Myers presented evidence that favors functionalism or evidence that structuralists cannot account for. I spent most of my video presenting evidence that favors structuralism from self-assembly processes, evo-devo, and convergence. 

One of the main problems for functionalists, that Gould notes, is most of what they say drives evolution is already accounted for and predicted by structuralism. This is why structuralists simply note functionalism is not necessarily wrong but incomplete and in response to structuralism, many functionalists have to ignore a lot of the data structuralists present and argue it is not as prominent as structuralists suggest. This is why I spent most of my video presenting as much evidence as I could possibly find to show this is not the case and there is mounting evidence favoring structuralism. For the most part, Jackson and P.Z. Myers barely touched on this.

To summarize, Jackson demonstrates a lack of knowledge of what structuralism is, he seemed to contradict himself in several places, and ignored most of the research I present in my video while focusing too much on one quote from Edward T. Oakes where it was obvious Oakes was speaking in colloquial terms. If Jackson had questions about structuralism he could have just emailed me. I am more than willing to send him books to read, but his current video is not well thought out and I think he is better than this. His attacks have only shown a lack of knowledge on the claims of structuralism. 

 

 

Sources:

1. Levin, S., Scott, T., Cooper, H. and West, S. (2017). Darwin’s aliens. International Journal of Astrobiology, 18(1), pp.1-9.

2. Gould, S. (2002). The structure of evolutionary theory. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, p.41.

3. ibid, p. 1035.

4. Ibid, p. 1029.

5. Raff, R. (1996). The Shape of Life: Genes, Development, and the Evolution of Animal Form. p.307.

6. Gould, p. 27.

7. Nation, J. (2001). Insect physiology and biochemistry. p.316.

8. Spiro, T. and Stigliani, W. (1990). Environmental issues in chemical perspective. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/ Hunt, p.97.

9. Dubielzig, R., Schobert, C. and Schwab, I. (2012). Evolution’s Witness: How Eyes Evolved. Oxford University Press, p.56.

10. La Greca, M. (1980). Origin and evolution of wings and flight in insects. Bolletino di zoologia, 47(sup1), p. 65.

11. ibid, p. 78.

12. Thomas, M., Walsh, K., Wolf, M., McPheron, B. and Marden, J. (2000). Molecular phylogenetic analysis of evolutionary trends in stonefly wing structure and locomotor behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97(24), pp.13178-13183.

13. Dennett, D. (2014). Darwin’s dangerous idea. New York: Simon & Schuster, pp.129-130.

14. Barrow, J. (2012). Fitness of the cosmos for life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.49-69.

15. Denton, M. (2016). Evolution: Still A Theory in Crisis. Seattle: Discovery Institute.

Advertisements

Illogical Propaganda of Martymer81

Average Read Time: 12 Minutes, Guest blog by Kyle Alander

As was seen previously with AntiCitizenX we have a couple of atheists that have been responding to IP video on the laws of logic defended. This time we have Martymer 81 (I will be referring to as MM81) who has misunderstood IP’s views and, therefore, sets off to strawman the claims that were made. This was a fairly easy response (which says a lot) so the fact that it is shorter than some of the other things I have written shows that MM81 has had no good arguments here. This was an extremely dishonest video. It seems IP and MM81 don’t disagree on much when it comes to logic, yet MM81 has misrepresented IP’s position to the extreme and assumed IP said things he never claimed. It is clear MM81 didn’t get fact-check a lot of his claims.

The video opens up with MM81 assuming that IP’s original video was to attack atheists when at no point in the video was the word “atheist” mentioned. This is an example of MM81 putting words in IP mouth when he never claimed that atheists deny the laws of logic. What IP did mention however were epistemic skeptics, which unlike atheist (lack of belief in God), lack any beliefs in logic or knowledge (Also known as an academic skeptic or Pyrrhonian skepticism). Unlike atheists, an epistemic skeptic is one who doubts all knowledge and therefore doubts logic and thinks that any kind of knowledge is impossible or that we can never know if knowledge is possible. I won’t get into the different views of epistemic skepticism but what they doubt is that the category of knowledge can’t be known. So in other words, if you were to ask an epistemic skeptic if they believe one can acquire knowledge you would either get one denying that they can have knowledge or one that says they “don’t know” if knowledge is possible. In both cases, epistemic skeptics are skeptics about knowledge itself and thus the term “epistemic skeptic” is there. So IP’s video was a response to that group and not atheists, so MM81 has already begun to misrepresent who IP is addressing.

Next MM81 quotes Martin Luther and uses it as an example of Christians rejecting logic when in reality he did poor research on the context of the quote.1 This really goes to show the amount of research MM81 did. He didn’t even fact-check the quote. Regardless, one can use examples of Christians rejecting logic all day but that is irrelevant to the original point of the video of whether logic should be doubted and IP’s point was that it shouldn’t.

At 1:05, MM81 says that logic is the enemy of faith when he once again doesn’t understand what Christians have understood faith to be. Faith is not the rejection of reason rather it is putting trust in someone or something. I have faith that my employer will give me a paycheck every two weeks or I have faith that my car was built the right way so it doesn’t fall apart. As a Christian, I have faith that God will one day resurrect the dead (Acts 17:31) and those that chose to follow him will have eternal life. I don’t have faith in the sense of a lack of evidence but rather that the Christian God exists (has given evidence already) and that God will fulfill his plan. So faith is not belief in lack of evidence but rather it comes from the evidence that it leads to Christianity being true. MM81 may disagree that there is evidence for Christianity but that is irrelevant to what faith actually is understood to be which makes his entire attack on faith a strawman.

At 1:27, MM81 says that IP’s definition of logic is wrong and then goes on a rant about how apologists are dishonest and knowingly go on to present bad arguments and then talks about how by definition faith cannot be defended. Sadly, this is similar to ACX childish rants and it’s embarrassing that one would begin by name calling their opponents. It’s one thing to present an argument but it’s a whole other to have a condescending rant.

Anyway, MM81 seems to not see that IP’s definition is not in all at conflict with the academic definitions of logic. In fact, it is synonymous with it and when MM81 goes on later to explain what logic is his explanation does not contradict IP’s view. He is simply explaining the same concept in a different way. (MM81 video – 3:58 mark) Yes, IP’s definition in his video is not exactly the same as MM81’s definition. MM81 says that logic is the study that makes sense of what makes sense. However, we cannot find that in any academic definition so should I say that MM81 is wrong? Of course not, since they are similar.

At 4:42, MM81 claims he has never come across this argument and that IP has not either. In fact, this is just wrong as IP got the original argument from an epistemic skeptic at Carnedes2. This was pointed out in the response to ACX. If MM81 would have checked this very blog before making his video he would not have goofed on this. This again demonstrates very poor research.

Moving on at 5:50, MM81 claims that IP thinks that the laws of logic are abstract when IP made no such claim. IP is not a platonist, in fact, I asked him and he is between nominalism and scholastic realism, which is the view that universals only exist in minds but they are founded on real relations of similarity in the world.3 So while he does not hold rock solid to one position he is open to both views and rejects traditional Platonism. Also with regards to the principle of bivalence, IP said that he rejects it and holds to three-valued logic, which is basically where a proposition can be true, false or some indeterminate. MM81 is correct in saying that there are different types of logic beyond classical logic that are used for describing different situations or propositions (he used the example of fuzzy logic), however, MM81 seems to think that IP’s video was only a defense of classical logic, which is not the point. This has been pointed out multiple times on this blog. The original video wasn’t about which type of logic is “correct” but rather that logic works (regardless of which type of logic we are using) and since it works then we have no reason to doubt it.

Ironically at 7:40, MM81 says how we should not expect a dictionary to define a “proposition” in every system of logic since it’s not a logic textbook. But earlier we saw MM81 complain that IP didn’t go about to explain every system of logic or what the laws of logic are in those different systems (since there are different laws in classical and non-classical logics). This brings up a point that if IP didn’t originally exactly specify which laws of logic he is defending then he must be using it more in a broader sense and not just the classical laws of logic. Again like I’ve said many times IP is NOT trying to show why classical logic is the correct logic but rather showing why logic as a whole (classical and non-classical) should not be doubted. The video is a response to epistemic skeptics that doubt all systems of logic not trying to make classical logic superior to other systems of logic. MM81’s video is looking more like a blatant misrepresentation than a response video. I feel like he should know better.

At 8:40, MM81 complains that the proposition “easter is the best holiday” is neither true nor false so therefore it is not a proposition. This of course only works if we are using classical logic but if we use three-valued logic then it would be a proposition, however, it would be indeterminate rather than true or false. So while he is right that we can’t determine if it’s true or false the proposition “easter is the best holiday” is still a proposition but it would be indeterminate.

Next, MM81 goes on to explain Gödel’s theorem in which he does correctly present. Nothing he said about the theorem would disagree with IP as the whole point of the theorem is that one cannot prove something within a system that has axioms. No one has denied that.

At 11:55, MM81 seems to think that it can’t be a false dichotomy to say something is either true or false. Once again under a three-valued logic, it would be a false dichotomy since there is a third option which is a proposition that is indeterminate.

At 13:20-15:40, MM81 begins to explain the liar’s paradox. While he is right that there is no “single bullet” type solution and there is nothing here that would contradict IP. Again, IP said in his video that we cannot prove something is 100% true within a system of logic. That was the whole point of his video and why Gödel’s theorem was brought up. Basically, the liar’s paradox does not disprove logic since its okay to have certain propositions with no truth value (which means it’s not a proposition in any system of logic). MM81 seems to imply IP denied this.

While there are some systems of logic that can assign truth values to certain propositions that classical logic cannot (the example of ‘easter being the best holiday’ as an indeterminate proposition) and why there is no “correct” system of logic there is nothing here that would contradict IP. So MM81 has not addressed IP original point which is that there are no good reasons to doubt logic (regardless of which system).

Next, with regards to the mathematical usage of (i), MM81 falsely equates the mathematical definition with what we mean in a philosophical sense. IP used (i) as an analogy to explain why there would be a third truth value besides true or false. IP never denied we can define (i) in a mathematical way, so MM81 is missing the whole point. This is ironic because MM81 uses this to imply IP doesn’t understand high school math, and in reality, all this shows is MM81 can’t pay attention to a simple youtube video. (i) would be analogous to that indeterminate truth value of between true and false. MM81 made a big deal about claiming we can define (i), which is the square root of -1. IP never denied this and simply noted we cannot understand it (philosophically) in terms of other numbers and quantities. This is incredibly dishonest of MM81.

At 17:07, first he contradicts himself when he says how this has nothing to do with Gödel’s work. Earlier at 11:00, MM81 explained Godel’s theorem and how saying “the truth of this sentence is unprovable” is a way to understand why one cannot 100% prove something within a system of axioms. The point that IP was making was that just because we cant 100% prove something within a system that doesn’t mean we should doubt logic works. Since epistemic skeptics try to use the liar’s paradox and Gödel’s theorem to show that logic cannot be provable the response IP made to the epistemic skeptics was the principle of particularism (more on that later) so Gödel is relevant here as epistemic skeptics have used those types of arguments to debunk logic. So MM81 has once again misunderstood IP.

Second, no one denied that logic is a field of study. However, IP was addressing the skeptics that do think that logic as a whole does not work (since its not 100% provable due to Gödel’s theorem). Third, MM81 fails to distinguish between reasonable doubt and the doubt used by epistemic skeptics. Most of our reasonable doubt is because we have logical and good reasons to doubt something (such as doubting the earth is flat) however the doubt of the epistemic skeptic is that our reason and logic is flawed simply because we cannot 100% prove it to be true. This is not reasonable doubt since the epistemic skeptic has presented no good reason to doubt logic and so the point of IP’s video was that when we have good logical reasons to believe something to be true then we should believe them and not simply doubt them by the fact that logic itself is not 100% provable. This was literally the point of defending logic (regardless of its forms) and of IP’s video. The fact that MM81 didn’t get this makes his video look more like propaganda.

Next, at 18:00, MM81 once again misunderstands IP’s point. One can deny classical logic to work in certain situations which is why one must use other systems of logic to give truth values to propositions. When IP says that we can’t doubt logic he is not saying one can’t deny classical logic but rather one can’t deny logic as a whole, so this includes all systems of logic. Any thought or argument one gives will depend on some system of logic regardless if its classical, non-classical, fuzzy, three-valued logic, linear logic, non-reflexive logic, model logic etc. Literally one cannot deny logic as a whole without presupposing some system of it.

Finally, at 19:06, MM81 misunderstands IP yet again. IP does not believe in everything that randomly pops into his head but rather accepts it if there are good reasons to do so and there are no good reasons to doubt those beliefs. This is the whole point of epistemic particularism and it was the formal response IP gives to the epistemic skeptics. At this point, MM81 is not even trying to get what IP points are and it’s embarrassing.

The rest of the video is just MM81 talking about why religion discourages doubt and this shows he is not even trying to address IP points concerning logic. Nothing in MM81 response did anything to take down IP’s original points. The whole response has been nothing but strawman and misrepresentations of what IP was trying to explain. While it’s true that some of IP’s followers have equated the epistemic skeptics with atheists at no point did IP mention atheists in his video. Perhaps it’s time for people to not equate IP with his followers or equate the classical laws of logic with logic itself. The biggest straw man in the whole video was that IP was making classical logic superior to other forms of it when in reality IP was not concerned with the different systems of logic but was concerned with those that deny logic as a whole and doubt all the systems of logic. This same straw man has been the most common from all the responses IP has gotten from other bloggers and YouTubers on his video that defends the laws of logic. While I myself do not intend to respond to each one in detail as I have here I will say that they have all been straw man attacks against IP.

 

Endnotes

  1. “Richard Dawkins is wrong: Martin Luther was not against “Reason” or ….” 9 Dec. 2011, https://simonpetersutherland.com/2011/12/09/richard-dawkins-is-wrong-martin-luther-was-not-against-reason-or-logical-correctness/. Accessed 10 Feb. 2019.
  2.  “Arguments of Indirect Skepticism – YouTube.” 23 Nov. 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBlDGTZUOek. Accessed 10 Feb. 2019.
  3.  “Scholastic Realism | Dictionary | Commens.” http://www.commens.org/dictionary/term/scholastic-realism. Accessed 11 Feb. 2019.

 

The Resurrection According to Dave S

Dave S is one of the few youtube atheists I’ve seen who is willing to engage in the debate on the resurrection. Most just dismiss it as just another miracle claim, assuming a naturalistic worldview from the onset. However, Dave S has at least taken some time to dive into this topic and address the resurrection claim from a naturalistic perspective.

I first spoke with this guy after I posted part 1 of my resurrection series. He seemed like a nice guy and said he going to respond to my whole series when I finished. However, he took his videos down and I thought he left youtube. Then last year he uploaded a bunch of his old videos and started making more, and unfortunately, he became rather insulting in debating with me in the comment section under one of my videos. I had several followers request I respond to his resurrection videos and I was waiting until he was finished his full resurrection series but he has not uploaded any more videos for this series in 4 months. So I’ll deal with the ones that are currently up. I’ll respond to each video below in sections (hyperlinks included throughout).

Episode 1:

This video was originally posted just after I’d uploaded part 1 of my series, so it doesn’t really address the evidence I went over in parts 2 and 3. So there isn’t much to respond to, and I responded to some claims he brings up in part 5 of my series anyways.

Episode 2:

The next one is where the real response begins. This is his longest video and mostly on Bayes’ Theorem. There are a lot of problems with this video because it is a gross exaggeration of what Bayes’ Theorem can say and how it ought to be applied.

First, Dave starts off with the claim that Bart Ehrman has given time and time again, that miracles are, by definition, the least probable explanation for an event. Again, I addressed this objection in part 5 of my series. This is nothing more than circular reasoning, assuming the conclusion of naturalism so miracles by definition must be improbable because we have already presupposed they are (i.e. naturalism must already be true).

Dave has already implied his conclusion at the beginning without even studying the evidence. In other words, regardless of what the evidence leads to, we must first start with the presupposition the miraculous must be the least probable. So obviously Dave will arrive at the conclusion Jesus did not rise from dead, regardless of what the evidence suggests.

After this, what follows is a pretty good explanation of Bayes’ theorem, which I would recommend people watch. However, this will come back to haunt Dave later on, as applying to it the resurrection simply doesn’t work (even when Christians try this).

Bayes’ Theorem only is reliable when you have actual values or quantities to work with. For example, Dave gave a good example by pointing out Bayes’ theorem can help us calculate what the probability of someone who smokes a cigar is either a male or female. The reason why it works in his example is that we have numbers from statistical analyses we can use. We know 51% of the population is male, and we know 9.5% men smoke cigars, whereas 49% of the population is female and only 1.7% of females smoke cigars (I am just using Dave’s numbers to illustrate a point, I don’t know if these numbers are accurate). So we have actual numerical data we can enter into Bayes’ theorem and calculate the probability that a random cigar smoker is male or female.

It should be obvious to all that when it comes to the resurrection, we simply do not have numerical values to enter into. Atheist, and Founder of the website History For Atheists, Tim O’Neill says this as well. He wrote a response to Richard Carrier’s attempt to apply Bayes’ theorem to the question of whether or not Jesus existed, and he gave a petty good example as well of how we can use Bayes’ theorem by calculating the probability it will rain on a specific day. Given that we have observed for roughly the past 100 years the annual rainfall and have recorded how many days out of the year have experienced rain, we can calculate how likely it will rain on a given day.

Tim O’Neill says:

“The first thing our objective observer should notice here is that we have hard data to plug into the equation.  We know how often it does rain in this region, how often it doesn’t rain and how often the weather forecast is right or wrong.  So we can get a meaningful answer out of the equation because we can plug meaningful data into it in the first place.

So there are two problems here when it comes to trying to apply Bayes Theorem to history: (i) Carrier and Craig need to treat questions of what happened in the past as the same species of uncertainty as what may happen in the future and (ii) historical questions are uncertain precisely because we don’t have defined and certain data to feed into the equation.

Bayes Theorem only works in cases where we can apply known information. So, in the example above, we know how often it rains in a year and we know when the weather forecast is and isn’t correct.  So by inputting this meaningful data, we can get a meaningful result out the other end of the equation.

This is not the case with history.

Bayes Theorem’s application depends entirely on how precisely the parameters and values of our theoretical reconstruction of a real world approximate reality.  With a historical question, Carrier is forced to think up probabilities for each parameter he put into the equation. This is a purely subjective process – he determines how likely or unlikely a parameter in the question is and then decides what value to give that parameter. So the result he gets at the end is purely a function of these subjective choices. And this is the wrong way to apply the theorem as its based on subjective rather than objective parameters.

In other words: garbage in/garbage out.

So it’s not surprising that Carrier comes up with a result on the question of whether Jesus existed that conforms to his belief that Jesus didn’t – he came up with the values that were inevitably going to come up with that result.  If someone who believed Jesus did exist did the same thing, the values they inputted would be different and they would come up with the opposite result. This is why historians don’t bother using Bayes Theorem.”(1)

In other words, Bayes’ theorem only works if you have hard values to enter in, like with annual rainfall, or current population percentages. When it comes to an event like the resurrection we don’t have values to enter in. We have to simply make them up based on our subjective preferences.

Bayes’ theorem is nothing really special, as some people like to imply (Carrier and Craig). As Aviezer Tucker says, “Philosophers find often that formal representation, Bayesian probability in our case, clarifies and concentrates the discussion.” (2)

In other words, it is telling historians what historians already know in numerical terms. In reality, it doesn’t really add anything extra to our knowledge of history. It only gives us a numerical value to apply to our probability factor, when we have hard numerical data available. If we don’t have hard numerical data, we have to fudge the numbers based on our subjective preferences of what we think the values out to be, and this is exactly what Dave does when he tries to apply Bayes’ Theorem to the resurrection.

About 13:00 in, Dave begins to calculate the prior probability, and says the background knowledge should be based on how many times in the past God has raised someone from the dead. The obvious problem is the Bible does not contain an exhaustive list of all the people who God has brought back to life. This information is simply unknown to modern humans. The Bible does mention sometimes God resuscitated someone and they came back to life, but nowhere does God or any biblical author ever put a number on how many times this has actually happened. We simply lack the background knowledge to make an inference. So Dave just decided to take the few cases in the Bible as the actual total.

On a side note, I want to mention that there is technically only one resurrection in the Bible, which is Jesus’ resurrection. The other times that someone came back to life these would be defined as resuscitations. In the Jewish sense, a resurrection (anastasis) is when a body dies and comes back to life in a new immortal, glorified form. This only was claimed to happen to Jesus. Everyone else in the Bible was just resuscitated back into their mortal body.

Back to the main point, in the strangest fashion I have seen, Dave doesn’t even give all the resuscitations in the Bible to God but instead says when the Bible records that someone like Paul or Elijah brought someone back to life this was not God doing it. Going even further, he says the people Jesus brought back to life do not count as God doing raising the dead. I had to watch this section multiple times because I could not believe what I was hearing.

Even if he rejects that Jesus claimed to be God (which is hard to argue given Jesus’ own claims) Jesus said the power he had came from the Father and Holy Spirit (John 5:19; 29-30, Luke 1:35; 4:1; Philippians 2:6-8). Paul was also said to be filled with the Holy Spirit and work through God (Acts 13:9; 2 Corinthians 13:5). It is also strongly implied in scripture all miracles come from God, not from the people themselves, but God working through them. This shouldn’t even be a controversial topic.

Also, I would like to reiterate this is still all nothing more than garbage in, garbage out. We don’t have an exhaustive account of all the people who came back from the dead. Dave only says two resuscitations count where God actually rose someone from the dead:

Screen Shot 2019-01-09 at 9.16.27 AM.png

Dave includes the passage of Matthew 27:51-53, where it says the dead saints came out of their tombs when Jesus died, but only calculates this as one resuscitation God performed, even though Matthew implies there were multiple people who rose. So Dave, awkwardly, just counts this as one resuscitation. Why? Does Dave know only one person came back? The fact remains, if this event did happen, we don’t know how many people came back to life. This is what I (and Tim O’Neill) mean when we say without hard numerical values to go on, people subjectively just make up values to suit the conclusion they want. It only goes to show us you can’t use Bayes Theorem properly when evaluating events like the resurrection.

Dave then compares the resuscitations God directly did, to the ones where he worked through someone else, and then concludes the background knowledge for the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead is low.

Screen Shot 2019-01-09 at 9.19.15 AM.png

This should be enough to show the conclusion is going to be flawed. The numerical value Dave assigned to the background knowledge is flawed and not an objective hard fact. It is not based on an exhaustive account of all resuscitations, he discounts most in the Bible as not being caused by God, and has no other factors to calculate in when studying the background knowledge. There are so many issues that it ought to be completely discounted.

To be fair, Dave does admit just after this the rest of the data points will not be easy to calculate. I would say it is impossible with our current knowledge, but let’s hear him out. Dave says next we need to calculate how likely it is that we would have evidence we do if God did raise Jesus from the dead. He then says to do this we need to talk about the early Christians and how they viewed the resurrection. He says the first recorded appearance is what Paul gives us in 1 Corinthians 15.

However, Dave says, “it is fairly obvious this is not the same sort of resurrection that’s recording in the Gospels. Paul never says he saw Jesus in the flesh, and even denies it in Galatians 1. Instead, he insists that the resurrection is into a spiritual body, not the rising of a corpse.”

Ok, the errors are piling up, so let’s deal with this before moving on. This has already been extensively dealt with in part 6 of my series on the resurrection and a follow-up video on alleged development in the resurrection story, so I’ll only briefly address this here.

Paul does not deny Jesus physically rose from the dead in Galatians 1. This should be plainly obvious from just reading the passage:

Galatians 1:11-12 (ESV)

“For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Paul says the Gospel is what he received from revelation. In other words, the message of how salvation has come is what he learned through revelation. He does not say he learned of Christ’s death and resurrection through revelation. So this is nothing more than misquoting what Paul actually says. Even if I was wrong Dave is plainly incorrect that Paul denies Jesus physically rose.

In 1 Corinthians 15, he says he delivered to the Corinthians what he received. He uses a Rabbinic statement of a teacher passing something on to his students that he was taught. So this creed Paul cites would have to have come from the disciples themselves very early on so they could teach it to Paul, and what he tells them is that Jesus died and rose from the grave (see part 2 of my series for more on this).

Paul also doesn’t teach a spiritual resurrection. As I went over in part 6, the Greek words for natural and spiritual more likely denote an enlightened and unenlightened body, not different states of being, but more like different states of mind. In other words, the resurrected body will be enlightened, not ontologically something other than flesh (like a spirit). Paul even says right after this that what dies is what is raised (1 Corinthians 15:42-55). Also, in the first century and prior, there is no evidence the Greek word for resurrection (anastasis) even meant anything other than physically coming back to life when speaking about a person. So Dave has done nothing more than misquote and quote-mine Paul.

Dave then plays a clip of Bart Ehrman going on about how Jesus could not have appeared to the 12 disciples, because this appearance would have occurred after Judas died and before they elected his replacement. So there were only 11 disciples, so this has to be false. Dave doesn’t comment anything about this, but let’s response to it anyway.

This is a fairly easy objection to address. The twelve seems to just have been a title for the closest disciples of Jesus, which originally totaled 12 men. For example, in John 20, it says Jesus appears to the disciples behind a locked door. We would assume all 11 are there because it says “the disciples.” However, in verse 24 we are then told Thomas was not there. The verse also implies “the twelve” was being used as a title, “Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.” This would be an odd phrase to use if it was a numerical value since it was fairly understood in the Gospels that Judas was dead at this point (Matthew 27:3). So it’s probable when Paul says Jesus appeared to the twelve in 1 Corinthians 15, he is just speaking of the collective group that was known as the twelve.

Following this, roughly the next 30 minutes of Dave’s video is a string of different video clips edited together which argue the Gospels were written late and cannot be trusted. I have argued against a lot of the points in this my 9 part New Testament Reliability Series, in my 6 part Resurrection Series, and I am currently going through two series addressing alleged contradictions and alleged errors in the Bible so I won’t focus on that here. But what I do want to do is ask why is this actually even relevant to the topic at hand?

Dave already said at 12:42 in his video that the position he’s arguing against is Gary Habermas’ 5 minimal facts, which doesn’t rely on the Gospels being credible sources. In part 2 of my own resurrection series, I say I will not rely heavily on the Gospels but only the minimal trustworthy facts. Yet most of his video is a string of video clips arguing the gospels are not credible, so this really seems like a waste of time and doesn’t really address the minimal facts argument.

I do want to address one part in this section, which is Richard Carrier’s remarks that the Gospels are just symbolic myth because there are patterns in them he seems to think he can identify. Carrier even says this is not how history was written. Well, perhaps we should check with scholars on this (I am repeating a lot of what I said in my blog response to Godless Engineer).

New Testament scholars have speculated for years that the Gospels were written in a way to mirror individuals and events from the Hebrew Bible. N.T. Wright argues Matthew is deliberately painting Jesus as a second Moses, whereas Luke is trying to make him look like another King David.(3) Is this a problem for Christianity? Of course not, because ancient authors often looked to the past to see similarities to current events so that they could draw connections. This doesn’t imply they simply made everything up.

Oral tradition specialist, Albert Lord says, “Traditional narrators tend to tell what happened in terms of already existing patterns of story… When I say that an incident in the gospel narrative of Jesus’ life fits in a mythic pattern, there is no implication at all that this incident never happened. There is rather an implication that traditional narrators chose to remember and relate this incident because an incident of similar essence occurred in other traditional stories known to them and their predecessors. That its essence was consonant with an element in a traditional mythic (i.e., sacred) pattern adds a dimension of spiritual weight to the incident, but does not deny… the historicity of the incident.” (4)

Other ancient historians like Tacitus and Virgil also made use of this style, but never once have I heard a skeptic conclude that means they made things up. Dr. Rhiannon Ash says about Tacitus that he “…embeds such points in the very language which he uses,” and uses “linguistic echoes and structural similarities.” (5) Jan Bremmer and Nicholas Horsfall note Virgil borrowed from Roman legends to paint current events of his day. (6)

Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh say, “To be able to quote the tradition from memory, to apply it in creative or appropriate ways . . . not only brings honor to the speaker but lends authority to his words as well . . . Luke 1:68-79 is an example. It is stitched together from phrases of Psalms 41, 111, 132, 105, 106, and Micah 7… The ability to create ouch a mosaic implied extensive, detailed knowledge of the tradition and brought great honor to the speaker able to pull it off.” (7)

So Carrier is ignoring the cultural context of how history was written in the ancient Greco-Roman World and applying our cultural understanding of how to write history to the Gospels, which is unfair. There are clear patterns in the gospels, but that doesn’t mean the events did not happen. It means the Gospel authors purposely picked certain elements out to highlight patterns. Patterns simply happen sometimes and humans like to highlight them because it is in our nature. Ironically, that is all Carrier is doing, looking for patterns where ever they may or may not exist and assuming correlation is causation.

Finally, after all the video clips have finished Dave gets back to assigning values to plug into Bayes’ theorem. He says he is being as kind as possible and takes the value of 0.8 from Dr. David Baggett’s paper “An Application of Bayes’s Theorem To The Case For The Historicity Of The Resurrection Of Jesus” to assign to value of “how likely it is that we would have the evidence we do, if God did resurrect Jesus from the dead.” The paper he is citing is actually doing the opposite of Dave, in that it is trying to use Bayes’ theorem to argue it is probable Jesus did rise from the dead. Following this, Dave also takes the value from the paper for the probability that God didn’t raise Jesus from the dead as 0.3.

Screen Shot 2019-01-09 at 9.48.47 AM.png

The problem I have here is the paper commits a lot of the same problems that Dave is committing. There just isn’t hard numerical data to quantify this. Everyone who applies Bayes’ Theorem to the resurrection on both sides of the debate gets the result they want because they arbitrary assigned values to get that. It is all purely subjective and so when Christians use it, garbage in, garbage out. When non-Christians use it, garbage in, garbage out.

Dave ultimately gets a value of .4966 that Jesus rose from the dead, but this is because he assigned such a low value to the background knowledge, which we addressed early in this blog post, and that was based on obvious insufficient data, cherry picking, and skewing things to his liking. Again, and I cannot iterate this enough: when you don’t start with cold hard objective quantities to plug in, you subjectively assign what you want to get the result you want. If there are no values available you cannot use Bayes theorem to evaluate the past.

So the reality is this is not the correct way to evaluate a historical claim. Mike Licona does a far better job in his book, “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographic Approach,” where he says the best way to evaluate a historical claim is to use Behan McCullagh’s criterion for weighing historical theories. (8)

I went over this in part 2 of my series, but I’ll briefly address it again. For a theory to be successful it must:

Have Greater Explanatory Scope – This criterion looks at the quality of facts accounted for by a hypothesis. The hypothesis that includes the most relevant data has the most explanatory scope.

Have Greater Explanatory Power – The criterion looks at the quality of the explanation of the facts. The hypothesis that explains the data with the least amount of effort, vagueness, and ambiguity has greater explanatory power.

Have The Most Plausibility – This criterion assesses whether other areas known with confidence suggest a certain hypothesis. A hypothesis is more plausible if other disciplines support the hypothesis.

Be The Least Ad Hoc – A hypothesis possesses an ad hoc component when it enlists nonevidenced assumptions, that is, it goes beyond what is already known. When a hypothesis adds extra unnecessary assumptions it becomes ad hoc. In other words, the simplest explanation is the best.

Provide Illumination – This criterion means a hypothesis can be more powerful if it provides possible solutions to other problems without consuming other areas held with confidence. This criterion is less important than the other four.

When it comes to the data we went over in my series, McCullagh accepted the resurrection hypothesis has the most explanatory scope and power and we argue it is also more plausible and less ad hoc. It is more plausible because other arguments for God’s existence in cosmology, quantum mechanics, ethics, fine-tuning, etc., make the resurrection claim more plausible. So we have other areas of knowledge which already support the existence of God. As William Lane Craig says, “Only if the naturalist has good reasons to think that God’s existence is implausible or his intervention in the world implausible could he justifiably regard the resurrection hypothesis as implausible.” (9)

It is the less ad hoc because it posits fewer assumptions than alternative naturalistic explanations.  Dr. Campbell points out the resurrection hypothesis only adds one extra assumption, not multiple, “…it is difficult to see why the resurrection hypothesis is extraordinarily ad hoc. It requires only one new supposition: that God exists. Surely rival hypotheses require many new suppositions.” (10) In other words, the number of assumptions that naturalistic explanations employ make them all far more ad hoc than the resurrection hypothesis.

Finally, the resurrection hypothesis also provides illumination and strengthens the likelihood of Jesus’ other claim, like that He is divine and YHWH.

Dave should take this route and try to find a better explanation that fits this criterion. Attempting to debunk the resurrection through Bayes’ Theorem simply doesn’t work and luckily there is a better way to go about it. I argued in my series the resurrection hypothesis meets all of these criterions, and my challenge is if there is a naturalistic hypothesis that can overtake the resurrection hypothesis through this methodology.

Episode 3:

This is a much shorter video and there is not much to address here. The aim of this video is simply to argue that even if the resurrection did happen it would not prove Christianity is necessarily true. Well, obviously that is correct. No one should claim it proves Christianity is true, however, that doesn’t mean the resurrection does not provide illumination for the rest of the claims of Christianity and make them more plausible.

I’ve argued the reliability of the New Testament, various arguments for God’s existence, and the case for the Resurrection is enough to support the truth of Christianity. Soon I’ll add a series on Old Testament archaeology to support the truth of Christianity as well. Furthermore, the resurrection does provide illumination on the truth of Christianity and does make it more plausible. After all, if Jesus did rise from the dead, that shows He has power and is trustworthy.

In fact, throughout the Bible, miraculous signs are given as reasons to trust the claims of God. In Matthew 9:5 Jesus heals a man paralyzed so they will have evidence or know He is the Son of Man. In John 14:11, Jesus tells the disciples to believe, or have faith in Him on the works they have seen Him do. Even in Exodus 9:14 God told Pharaoh through Moses that the plagues will be given so they may know there is no one like YHWH.

Specifically, Jesus says in Matthew 12:38-42 that the resurrection will be a sign of the truth of what He has claimed. So although we agree the resurrection could possibly be just an odd coincidence (anything is possible), the fact that the evidence suggests Jesus did rise from the dead makes the rest of the claims of Christianity more plausible.

Next, Dave makes an odd claim towards the end of this video. He says, “…1 Corinthians 15 should not be read as the resurrection of Jesus validating the truth of Christianity. Instead, this is intended to provide a framework about the overall mission of Jesus as “the Christ”. That is, Paul is not attempting to demonstrate that the resurrection occurred, or even that Jesus rose from the dead rendered him to be “the Christ”, at least not yet, but this merely laying down the argument at this is, in fact, the first stage of the overall plan for the future state of the world… In fact, when reading this passage in full, it becomes clear that this passage is intending to remind the church in Corinth, not only that Jesus rose from the dead but the important point Paul is stressing is that this is not the end of the story. Given that Paul is stressing that the benefits of the resurrection have yet to come. Therefore, what this means, is that the point he is making is almost the opposite of what Christian commentators claim; that the resurrection validates the truth of Christianity.”

The reason why this is an odd claim is that Paul makes several points as part of a larger goal in 1 Corinthians 15. Dave is correct his main goal is to teach the Corinthians that we will all be resurrected, but what is important is Paul makes several other points related to the overall goal along the way.

He first starts by reminding them of the evidence for the resurrection by citing the witnesses who saw the risen Lord (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). So Paul is, in fact, beginning with evidence Jesus rose from the dead and that is why they ought to believe there will be a future resurrection for all Christians. He then reminds them of the utter importance of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-20), that all Christianity fails if Jesus has not been raised.

So I am not sure what the point of Dave’s 3rd episode is. Sure, the overall message of 1 Corinthians 15 is there will be a coming resurrection for all Christians, but in order to make that final point, Paul makes several other additional points to support this. One is that if Jesus has not been raised then our faith is in vain. Paul is capable of making additional points in 1 Corinthians 15 besides the main argument.

In conclusion, there is not really much in these three videos that challenge the case for the resurrection of Jesus. Now, Dave did say at the end of part 3 that more videos were to come, but we have not seen any in a while. So if he does make more videos and offer any reasonable points or challenges to the resurrection I’ll respond when I have the time. However, if all he does is build on his misuse of Bayes’ theorem, or assume naturalism is already true so the resurrection has to be the least probable, there really won’t be much to address because we have already dealt with this issues extensively.

Bonus Video:

Dave also responded to a video I made on defending the laws of logic and people have asked why I didn’t respond to that in-depth. Well, because the entire video is a straw man, as I never once claimed in my original video I was defending classical logic, and that was the basis of his reply. If I did a response it would just be me saying over and over, “No Dave, I didn’t say or imply that.” My video is not a defense of classical logic (which I do not even hold to). Plus, he employed a lot of the same misunderstanding AnticitizenX did in his blog reply, and Derezzed83 wrote a guest post on my blog which dealt with that. So there is really nothing more to say other than that Dave built up an entire straw man argument.

 

Sources:

1. https://www.quora.com/What-is-your-opinion-on-the-use-of-Bayes-theorem-as-a-tool-to-discover-the-best-historical-explanation-for-the-data-we-have-as-outlined-by-Richard-Carrier

2. Tucker, Aviezer. Our knowledge of the past: A philosophy of historiography. Cambridge University Press, 2004, 22

3. Wright, NT. The New Testament and the People of God. Fortress Press, 1992, 341- 435

4. Lord, Albert. The Gospels as Oral Traditional Literature in The Relationship among the Gospels: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue. Trinity University Press, 1978, 39

5. Ash, Rhiannon. Tacitus. Bristol Classic Press, 2006, 85-87.

6. Bremmer, Jan. Horsfall, Nicholas. Roman Myth and Mythology. University of London, 1987, 99-100

7. Malina, Bruce. Rohrbaugh, Richard. Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels. Augsburgh Fotress Press, 2002, 293-294

8. Licona, Mike. The Resurrection of Jesus:A New Historiographic Approach. InterVarsity Press, 2010, 109-111

9. Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith. Crossway, 2008, 188-189

10. Campbell, Travis. Defending the Resurrection. Xulon Press, 2010, 292

Cyber Bully AntiCitizenX has Reached New Lows

Average Reading Time: 25 Minutes

Guest post by Derezzed83:

In his latest blog post, written in his usual bellicose, condescending style, AntictizenX attacked InspiringPhilosophy for his video Logic Defended. It’s clear that even though ACX makes a few valid points, his critique is motivated by a deep personal vendetta against IP. Take for instance ACX’s previous post where he said he wouldn’t be surprised if ‘IP abuses his family’, which seems over the top even for someone known for being excessively antagonistic and condescending! Seemingly half of his 1000 word blog post was dedicated to personally attacking IP. Ironically, despite accusing IP of being biased and philosophically ignorant, the blog post highlights a pernicious pattern of bias on the part of ACX. Reading his blog post one can’t help but notice that his position is based on a mishmash of contradictory and often inconsistent metaphysical ideas.
It’s also important to emphasize that there’s no fundamental disagreement between AnticitizenX and InspiringPhilosophy when it comes to the main thesis of the video. Both agree that the logic that is used by the majority of people every day to reason about the world is valid. So one begins to feel like it was really personal animosity for IP which motivated ACX to write such a long blog post, in which he obsessively scrutinizes every line and comes to often wildly inaccurate conclusions about what IP said. Let’s go through his blog post step by step:

IP: “Can we trust the laws of logic?
ACX: “The next question that needs to be asked at this point is, Exactly which “laws of logic” is IP referring to? As I said earlier, there is no such thing as a singular, unifying school of logic… I assume from the context that IP is defending classical propositional logic…”

Who cares if IP says “I’m defending logic” instead of saying “I am defending classic propositional logic” or “I am defending three-valued logic”. Why should IP include philosophical jargon early in his presentation when he is speaking to a general lay audience? It was clear to me and probably to the majority of his audience that he is defending the type of logic that the vast majority of ordinary people use every day to reason about the world or the type of logic used in scientific discourse. The same type of logic that is used by competent everyday speakers of the English language.

IP: “[Is logic] just another man-made construct built on sand?”
ACX: “I realize that IP is being somewhat rhetorical here, but the very nature of his questions reveal a profound bias. Namely, what exactly does IP have against man-made constructs?”

If ACX realizes that IP could be speaking rhetorically, then why is he taking the most uncharitable interpretation possible? This is also a complete strawman. IP did not say logic is worthless just because it’s a man-made construct. For all we know, IP believes that many man-made constructs are worthwhile pursuits and valuable in and of themselves, except logic could be an example of a man-made construct that isn’t. Not because it’s man-made per se, but because it lacks a connection to external reality. What IP said is ambiguous but why be so pedantic and interpret it in the most uncharitable way possible?

IP: “Many argue the laws of logic are not true and use a form of Russell’s paradox to show this.”
ACX: “Notice that we’re not even 30 seconds into the video, and IP is either being inexcusably lazy or just outright dishonest. The phrase many argue is a textbook example of Weasel Wordsña deliberate manipulation tactic designed to make an argument appear more relevant than it actually is. It is also intentionally vague enough so that we are unable to check out the source for ourselves. For instance, who exactly are these many people supposed to be? How influential are they? Where can I read their arguments for myself? Are these people serious academics with PhDs?”

What is ACX talking about here? One of the main motivations why a whole BRANCH of logic other than classical logic (i.e. paraconsistent logic) was developed is because of Russel’s paradox. The philosopher Graham Priest has written extensively on this and itís even listed in his Stanford Encyclopedia entry on dialetheism (a type of non-classical logic). These were not “weasel words” on the part of IP, he is not as ACX alleges, trying to make the argument seem more relevant than it already is. So what if IP didn’t mention these philosophers individually? IP has to juggle between presenting engagingly and concisely or bombarding his audience with too much information, and sometimes information gets left out. Isn’t ACX just trying to hold IP to an excessively high standard?

IP: “Logic simply is a description of everything that is and everything that is possible.”
ACX: “This is very clearly an embarrassing misconception. How on Earth does IP expect to defend the laws of logic when he cannot even define that word correctly? It reminds me of the old adage about playing checkers against an opponent who is playing chess. Only in IP’s case, it’s more like he’s playing Go Fish with a sack of marbles while all the chess players are in a different building down the street.”
Later in the blog:
ACX: “Remember that logic is not a force to be trusted; it is a tool to be exercised. The reason why logic works so well at describing the universe is because we specifically invented logic to do exactly that.”

ACX claims IP can’t even define logic, but he gives the exact same definition of logic as IP later in his blog post! IP said that logic is a description of everything that is and everything that is possible. ACX says that we invented logic to describe the Universe. I don’t understand how ACX thinks his position is different from IP’s? They both think logic is a description of the world, the only difference is that IP thinks logic is also a description of the way things could be. ACX also wastes no time to take a personal jab at IP and his grandiose condescension is nauseating given the fact that he LITERALLY says almost the same thing as IP just using different words!

ACX: “The thing that makes this even more infuriating is the way in which IP specifically frames it all as a direct accusation against atheists”

Sorry, but I must have missed the part where IP treated atheists as a singular homogenous group who deny logic. ACX is attributing a position to IP that he probably doesn’t even hold. IP is specifically addressing a group of people who deny the type of logic people use every day, who may or may not be atheists.

IP:
“Here is a simple argument of how they try to show the laws of logic are not true or objective.
Premise 1: Assume that the laws of logic are true.
Premise 2: All propositions are either true or false.
Premise 3: The proposition “This proposition is false is neither true nor false.
Premise 4: There exists at least one proposition that is neither true nor false.
Premise 5: It is not the case that all propositions are either true or false.
Premise 6: It both is and is not the case that all propositions are either true or false.”

ACX: “notice again that IP gives zero citations as to where exactly this mysterious argument is coming from. I even tried to Google it myself, but I could not find a single example of anything remotely similar. It therefore seems to me that, for all practical purposes, IP might as well be inventing it out of nothing. I donít know what to say, other than congratulations on your amazing straw man, dude.”

Actually, the argument was presented by Carneades.org:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBlDGTZUOek

If ACX thinks IP is inventing this argument from nothing then he is simply ignorant of a whole branch of philosophy which attempted to reconcile the Liar’s paradox with classical logic. This philosophical tradition stretched from Bertrand Russel to Alfred Tarski to Quine and Saul Kripke. The fact that the Liar’s paradox allegedly shows that some propositions may be both true and false (or neither true or false) at the same time is why whole new logical systems (paraconsistent logic or three-valued logic) were invented! AnticitizenX is just showcasing his ignorance here.

IP: “So if this argument works, it would show we cannot trust the laws of logic. However, there are several problems with this argument and line of reasoning that need to be addressed. First, the argument breaks down in premise 2. Not all propositions are either true or false.”

ACX: “The premise that all propositions are either true or false is called bivalence, and it is a core presumption in classical propositional logic. That means when IP rejects this principle, he is effectively rejecting a fundamental law of logic in order to defend the laws of logic. That’s not a very good start.”

I’ve spoken to InspiringPhilosophy and he is defending a three-valued logical system, not classical logic. He is rejecting bivalence because bivalence (i.e. all propositions are either true or false) doesn’t apply to propositions such as “this sentence is false”. There’s absolutely no contradiction on the part of IP here. IP never claimed he was defending classical logic. The fact that he is defending a three-valued logical system is apparent from his video (even if he doesn’t mention the term “three-valued logic” outright) because he says not all propositions are either true or false, rather that’s a false dichotomy, which must mean there’s a third option.

ACX says, “In principle, IP could easily avoid this little trap by simply admitting to the existence of different systems of logic. But you have to remember that IP views logic as an objectively potent force unto itself, independent of human intervention. He is therefore not allowed to accept logic as a human invention because that would immediately render it unreliable (i.e., “built on sand”).”

This is a complete fabrication and a lie on the part of AnticitizenX. IP has never denied the existence of different systems of logic. Although IP has never mentioned three-valued systems or paraconsistent logic in this video, there’s no evidence whatsoever that he has denied they exist. AnticitizenX is attributing words and positions to IP that he has no evidence that IP has ever held.

IP: “A proposition can be defined as a statement or assertion that expresses a judgement or opinion.”

ACX: “Sentences like this are hilarious to me because they perfectly demonstrate how little IP has studied logic. When I Googled the word ‘proposition,’ this was the verbatim definition that came up in my search. However, when I actually looked up the definition from an academic source, the result was something very different. According to Richard E. Hodel’s textbook, An Introduction to Mathematical Logic, a simple proposition is a declarative sentence that is either true or false and has no connectives. Likewise, a proposition is a declarative sentence that either is a simple proposition or is built up from simple propositions using one or more of the connectives not, or, and, if-then, and if-and-only-if.
To be fair, the distinction between these two definitions is a bit subtle, but it does illustrate the extent of IPís ‘research’ for these videos. He completely avoids any contact with authentic, scholarly references, but instead relies entirely on 10-second Google searches to get his information. It also shows that, again, classical logic requires all propositions must be either true or false. IP is flat-out denying a fundamental law of logic in his defense of the laws of logic.”

IP may not have used the academic definition of “proposition” (“a proposition is a declarative sentence that is either true or false”) because as we can see from his video he is defending a three-valued logical system, where not all propositions are either true or false! Also on what evidence does ACX base his assertion that IP is not interacting with scholarly literature? Just because he uses a layman’s definition of a proposition? Are not his videos attempts to simplify complex ideas for a more general audience? The academic and layman’s definition of a proposition are effectively synonymous on the logical system that IP is defending!

IP: “Consider the statement ‘Easter is the best holiday.’ This cannot be proven true or false. It is just an expression of opinion.”

ACX: “I find it truly baffling that IP thinks this is supposed to be compelling. All we have to do is ask ourselves what exactly we mean by that statement. For example, if we take this proposition to mean ‘It is my opinion that Easter is the best holiday,’ then we absolutely have a statement of truth. Sure, it may just be my opinion that Easter is the best holiday, but it is verifiably true that I hold to this opinion (or, if I do not hold such an opinion, then it would be false).
Alternatively, we could take this proposition to mean something more like ‘It is an objective fact that Easter is the best holiday.’ However, that proposition has a truth value as well. By definition, opinions are subjective facts that only apply to individuals and their preferences. It is therefore a contradiction in terms to speak of an objectively correct opinion, and the proposition simply becomes false. So no matter how we interpret his proposition, there exists a definite assignment of truth.”

IP’s argument is very compelling since, contra AnticitizenX, the closest interpretation of the statement that “Easter is the best holiday!” is neither (A) “My subjective opinion is Easter is the best holiday” or (B) “it is an objective fact that Easter is the best holiday”. The closest interpretation to “Easter is the best holiday!” is captured by the statement “Hurrah for Easter!”, which is an expression of one’s subjective emotional state. It has no definite truth value because it is not describing a property of the external world.

ACX: “The Liars paradox is a textbook example of the kind of proposition that binary logic struggles to deal with. ThatÌs why we have, for example, systems of tri-state logic. Unfortunately, that would again require IP to acknowledge the existence of multiple logics, which he has specifically refused to do from the outset. It would also force him to completely overhaul his entire conception of truth itself.”

If I was as hypercritical as AnticitizenX, I would accuse him of not having any clue of what he was talking about, because the expression “tri-state logic” relates to digital electronics and has nothing to do with three-valued logical systems. Also, AnticitizenX keeps repeating the lie that IP has denied the existence of alternative logical systems, which IP has never done.

ACX: “Remember that IP thinks logic is an objective force of nature unto itself and thus independent of human design. By the same token, IP also tends to think of truth itself as something very similar. If we take the more modern approach, however, then truth is just a label that we assign to propositions.”

First, IP has never said logic is a force of nature unto itself. AnticitizenX is openly lying. His exact words are, “logic is a description of everything that is [external reality] and everything that could be”. Ironically, it is AnticitizenX who is contradicting himself here. Previously he wrote that logic was invented by humans to describe the universe and works very well at that task. Now he is saying truth is just a label that we assign to propositions? These two statements reveal a deep confusion about the nature of truth and logic. On one hand, AnticitizenX takes a deflationary account of truth, where a truth is merely assigned according to the axioms of a system. On the other hand, he thinks true propositions are the ones that accurately describe the external world, which is a non-deflationary account of truth. Obviously, these two positions can’t both be true.

ACX: “If we take the more modern approach, however, then truth is just a label that we assign to propositions. This immediately solves the liar’s paradox by rendering it undecidable because there is no procedure you can apply through axioms and rules of inference to arrive at a final truth value (at least, not if you want to preserve consistency). The only problem with this approach is that it forces us to give up on any platonic ideal of truth. Truth, in effect, is reduced in meaning to the bare procedure that was constructed to assign it (at least, for analytic propositions it is). For us pragmatists, that’s perfectly acceptable because we’re not interested in some nonsensical platonic ideal of truthiness. We just want a system of communication that allows us to talk at each other effectively. For IP, unfortunately, that’s not allowed. He has to believe in his magical world of metaphysical mystery.”

I spoke with IP, he is not a Platonist. Furthermore, having a three-valued logical system doesn’t force you to “reduce the meaning of truth to the bare procedure that was constructed to assign it”. Propositions under the three-valued logical system can still be true and false, and we are not given any reason by AnticitizenX as to why a proposition that is true under a three-valued logical system could not correspond or reflect external reality. In other words, adopting a three-valued logical system doesn’t force us to take a deflationary view of truth.

IP: “Carloman was murdered by his brother Charlemagne so he could have the throne for himself.
This statement is either true or false. However, we cannot be sure if it is true due to lack of information. We do not have enough records or evidence to confirm whether or not Carloman was murdered or died naturally. It is simply beyond the scope of our knowledge today. Which brings us to the next problem with this argument. This argument itself is based on Gödel’s theorems, which many think shows logic doesn’t work. But in a nutshell, they actually only show that no consistent system of axioms, whose theorems can be listed by an ‘effective procedure’ is capable of proving all truth. In other words, Gödel’s theorems show we cannot fully prove something is true, just because it seems like it is or is consistent. All Gödel did was show we are limited in having total proof of something. But even without Gödel that is intuitively obvious. Many things will always just be 99% probably true, but absolute certainty will always be beyond our reach.”

ACX: “This paragraph is so hopelessly muddled that I literally stared at it in confusion for two minutes before thinking of something to say. For starters, the uncertainty surrounding Carloman’s death has absolutely nothing to do with Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. That’s because Carloman’s death is a matter of synthetic propositions where truth is assigned in accordance with a preponderance of empirical data. In contrast, Gödel’s theorems are a statement about the nature of language itself.”

Notice that blatant lie by AnticitizenX?

Let’s call the statement “Carloman was murdered by his brother Charlemagne so he could have the throne for himself” (statement (A)).
And let’s called the following argument the dialetheist argument.
Premise 1: Assume that the laws of logic are true.
Premise 2: All propositions are either true or false.
Premise 3: The proposition “This proposition is false” is neither true nor false.
Premise 4: There exists at least one proposition that is neither true nor false.
Premise 5: It is not the case that all propositions are either true or false.
Premise 6: It both is and is not the case that all propositions are either true or false.

IP argued that we can’t know whether statement (A) is true or false on the current evidence we possess. He argues that this shows that one of the premises (premise 2) of the dialetheist argument is unsound. I think it’s pretty clear to me that IP did not claim, as AnticitizenX alleges, that statement (A) has something to do with Gödel’s incompleteness theorem.
When he says, “which brings us to the next problem with this argument”, IP clearly outlines that he is bringing up Gödel s incompleteness theorem in relation to the dialetheist argument and not in relation to statement (A). I think that at this point it’s clear that AnticitizenX has so much hostility towards IP that he can’t even read properly what IP is saying.

ACX: “Secondly, notice the repeated use of weasel words: Many think that Gödel’s theorems show logic doesn’t work. Seriously, who exactly are these people? I have never once encountered a single human being in the entire universe who claims this. IP is again arguing against total phantoms, all with the same unspoken subtext that, no really, it’s atheists.”

Just because AnticitizenX has not encountered a single human being in the entire universe who has claimed this, that doesn’t make Gödel’s incompleteness theorem any less relevant to the discussion. I don’t know why AnticitizenX thinks the entire universe revolves around him. As the philosopher, S. Choi outlines: “one of the Priest’s main motivations for Dialetheism is Gödel’s theorem. He applies Gödel sentence to a naive notion of proof in natural language and attempts to make an argument for Dialetheism”
https://philpapers.org/archive/CHOCGI.pdf
“one of the main proponents of dialetheism, Graham Priest, has argued that Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem implies the existence of dialetheias” (On the Gˆdelian argument for dialetheism, K. Zahidi)

IP: “This argument itself is based on Gödel’s theorems, which many think shows logic doesn’t work. But in a nutshell, they actually only show that no consistent system of axioms, whose theorems can be listed by an ‘effective procedure’ is capable of proving all truth.”

ACX: “Notice that IP specifically removed any mention of arithmetic and natural numbers. This is important because it limits the context in a way that contradicts IP’s interpretation. He must have done this on purpose, too, because I see no possible way to accidentally remove such a key piece of information. The guy just flat-out lied to his audience, all so he could invent some obtuse interpretation about logic that doesnít even apply to its original context.”

IP has removed mentions of arithmetic and numbers because he is referencing Gödel’s incompleteness theorem not in reference to arithmetic but in reference to logic in natural languages. This is in response to people who make similar arguments to Graham Priest, people who take Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem and argue for dialetheism.

IP: “So because of that, we can also deny premise 3 and say that it is a false dichotomy.”

ACX: “This sentence is especially confusing, in that IP is now outright contradicting himself. He just spent the last two paragraphs explaining in great detail that not all propositions have to be true or false, and now he is denying a premise claiming that not all propositions have to be true or false! Seriously. Read that premise again: Premise 3: The proposition ‘This proposition is false; is neither true nor false. You just categorically denied the very thing you set out to prove, you imbecile!”

Ad hominem attacks aside, AnticitizenX actually has a valid point here. I’ve spoken to IP and he says he misspoke during the video and meant to say that he is denying Premise 2, (“All propositions are either true and false”) and not premise 3. I think there’s a fair bit of evidence to support IP’s claim that he made a simple mistake and meant to say “premise 2” not “premise 3”. For instance, when he says that the premise is a false dichotomy that only makes sense if we apply to premise 2 (“All propositions are either true and false”). Such a simple mistake is entirely forgivable during a 15-minute video and there’s zero need to lambast IP for it, given the fact that AnticitizenX has made similar mistakes such as confusing the terms “tri-state logic” with “three-valued logic”.

IP: “I can explain how and why if we reduce the problem to mathematics, which can show the statement this statement is false can actually be solved. Allow me to explain using the work of G. Spencer Brown.
The proposition can be represented as X = -1/X. Now like the statement in our argument, if you try to solve with x = 1, the equation will yield negative 1. If you try X = -1, then positive 1 comes back. The solution oscillates between one and negative one, like true or false. One being true, and negative one being false, just like our proposition. If you say it is true, then it canÌt be because it claims it is false. If you say it is false, then it cannot be true in claiming it is false. Same problem, just represented mathematically. So how do we escape this vicious cycle? The solution is to use i, which is also the same as the square root of negative one. If you substitute x for i, you get i = -1/i, and negative one over i is also i. Thus, mathematically, the problem can be solved, because i transcends the paradox.”

ACX: “This is the part where IP really flies off the rails, and it is truly baffling where he got the idea to present this information. For starters, G. Spencer Brown is essentially no one. The guy has almost no historical significance or philosophical influence to speak of. Secondly, I attempted briefly to read through G. Spencer Brownís book, and all I found was a meaningless word salad of incoherent gibberish. To illustrate, these are the first words Brown writes in the forward to the text:
“The theme of this book is that a universe comes into being when a space is severed or taken apart. The skin of a living organism cuts off an outside from an inside. So does the circumference of a circle in a plane. By tracing the way we represent such a severance, we can begin to reconstruct the basic forms underlying linguistic, mathematical physical, and biological science, and can begin to see how the familiar laws of our own experience follow inexorably from the original act of severance.”
The book pretty much rambles endlessly in this style of prose, and it only gets worse the deeper you dig into it.”

Who cares who formulated the argument? I think arguments should be judged based on their merit not on who originated them. This is a genetic fallacy.

Academic credentials aside, I still did my best to charitably interpret the underlying train of thought. Basically, Brown is saying that the equation x^2 = -1 has no solution within the set of natural numbers. Thus, something other than a natural number is required in order to solve it. By analogy, classical binary logic cannot assign a truth value to the Liar’s paradox. Thus, a new system of logical truth values must be invented that does.

ACX: “This stuff is important because it completely undermines IP’s central thesisñthe idea that the laws of logic can be ‘trusted.’ Clearly the laws of classical binary logic are not trustworthy because they completely break down when exposed to self-referential negations (remember, this is IP’s own argument!)”

ACX is again attributing an argument to IP that he has not made. IP is not defending classic binary logic, and he has said so in the comment section of his video multiple times. When taken as a whole, it’s clear that IP is defending a three-valued logical system, he thinks not all propositions are either true or false, and some propositions are neither, i.e. the statement Easter is the best holiday.

IP: “The only problem is that we cannot epistemically understand the mathematical usage of i.”

ACX: “This claim is just laughable. Mathematicians are very well-acquainted with the ‘mathematical usage of i.’ The imaginary unit is, by definition, the number that produces -1 when squared.”

There are two interpretations of what IP said, and again ACX is assuming the worst. The first interpretation is that we can’t understand “i” epistemically, and the other is that we can’t understand the mathematical use of “i”. Could IP have written this sentence a bit more clearly? Sure, he is fine admitting that. But I think it’s clear to most people what he meant. It’s clear that IP meant that we can conceptualize what the natural numbers like 1,2,3,etc. are supposed to be, since, for instance, we have a concept of what 1 apple is compared to 2 apples or what having 1 coin as opposed to 2 coins, but it’s impossible to conceptualize ‘i’ in the same way, because we cannot tie it to something that exists in reality. What is an i apple supposed to be? In the same way, statements which are undecidable, such as “this statement is false” is undecidable because it has no connection to external reality, it just references itself.

“IP: “Thus, Gödel was proven right, and not the absolute skeptic who doubts logic is true.”

ACX: “I’m just going to recap IPís argument over the last few sentences and see if you can make sense out of it.
Imaginary numbers “transcend” integers.
By analogy, the liar’s paradox transcends true and false.
Therefore, Gödel was right.
Therefore, logic is true.
Seriously, dude. How do you have patrons?”

That’s clearly not a valid recap of the argument IP was making. To me it’s clear that the argument IP was making can be summarized as:
Gödel has shown that no consistent set of axioms is capable of proving all truths.
The formula x=-1/x is a putative example of a mathematical formula whose truth is not provable since the solution oscillates between 1 and -1 in the same way that the truth of the proposition, “this sentence is false,” oscillates between true and false.
A solution to the Liar’s paradox is that the proposition, “this sentence is false” is undecidable, in the same way, that the solution to the equation x=-1/x is substitution i for x.
There are several analogies between mathematical unprovable formulas such as x=-1/x and undecidable statements. First, both are self-referential. Second, we have trouble conceptualizing what an undecidable proposition like, “This sentence is false!” is supposed to represent, in the same way we have trouble conceptualizing i.

If I understood all of this in 3 minutes, why is it so hard for AnticitizenX to understand it?

In summary, ACX scrutinizes every single word spoken by IP, but it’s clear that he himself is deeply confused about the nature of truth. He offers various contradictory accounts; on one hand, he seems to think logic describes the universe. While on the other hand, he thinks a true proposition is only true by virtue of truth assignments and axioms.
He is seemingly unaware of the vast philosophical literature on the Liar’s paradox and Gödel’s incompleteness theorem in relation to dialetheism. And while he makes a few valid points, there’s an undercurrent of outright hostility towards IP and this antagonism biases whatever valid critiques he has to offer.

The Numerous Errors of Prophet of Zod

Estimated Reading Time: 25 Minutes

Atheists don’t have any real arguments I suppose. That might be why they just fill their videos with insults, instead of arguments. Prophet of Zod is no exception, just another rant, numerous philosophical errors, and an attempt to see how many times he can insult theists. I am always amazed that they think they can insult their way to victory, but that is what they constantly do as if they are cut from the same mold. Now given my busy life my contributor Kyle Alander has helped me in response to Zod and we will show his errors.

Zod tried to respond to my god of the gaps video and it was quite unfortunate at how bad he was at this. He made a bunch of philosophical errors (including not understanding what methodological naturalism is), and made conflicting claims and basically proved my original video correct (that atheists just assume their worldview).

He begins already upset that I started my video by noting “It seems a common reply to the arguments from natural theology is to cry “god of the gaps.””

I am not sure how he can miss the double standard here. He has already said in the opening minutes of his video my name “Inspiring Philosophy” is ironic for what I do and said my video is bullshit, but then begins to whine about how childish I am that I said some atheists cry god of the gaps. This is just a perfect example of atheists turning molehills into mountains. I’m surprised that when you throw out insults all day you’re shocked someone throws them back at you. He throws out a bunch of insults and condescending remarks throughout his entire video, but is so upset I said some atheists “cry” god of the gaps.

He then asks that if we think “The point is skeptics shout out the phrase [god of the gaps] as a thoughtless knee-jerk reaction?”

To answer his question, yes. That is basically what I get in comments and why I put the screenshots up. It is a thoughtless knee-jerk reaction, that doesn’t really address our arguments or evidence, and that is what Zod does throughout his video. He never addresses the evidence, just assumes naturalism is true and any evidence for theism is just appealing to the mystery (more on this later).

He then says about the gods of the gaps fallacy, “I’ve never seen any pattern of this argument being employed as a last resort.” Well, I don’t care what you have seen, Zod. I have seen it (which is why I screenshot them and put it in my video). Typically, I present the evidence and the inference to theism then I get a bunch of arguments where the skeptic confuses possibility with probability, throws out red herrings, or just avoids the evidence altogether. Then after I keep asking for a better explanation all I get is “god of the gaps.” If he needs to stop the video to make a note about his experience it really makes me question where this response is going.

He then rants for a little while about pedantic issues. Then around 5:30 he said, “I have a feeling these are artificially distinct categories (science and metaphysics) and that any attempt at using a metaphysical theory to prove God will be built on unexplained physical observation.” Now it is my turn to be nitpicky. I have said this a thousand times. No argument can prove God exists. We argue theism is the most logical inference or the best explanation of the data. That is all. Atheists constantly want to straw man this and assume we are trying to prove God, instead of what natural theology actually aims to do. We are not trying to prove God exists we are arguing theism is the best explanation of reality from observed data. Why is that so hard to understand? It is not about proof and never has been.

At 6:30, Zod really goes off the rails. He says, “So let me get this straight, according to you if you claim that a physical process needs to be explained by a current miracle that occurs within that process that’s god of the gaps, but if you claim that the same physical process or the culmination of all physical processes must be explained by God miraculously setting the universe into motion, that’s not god of the gaps. Seriously, that’s what you’re going for?”

To reply, yes. I really shouldn’t have to say more than that, because that is the truth. There is pretty big difference Zod just brushed over and I am surprised he missed it. Putting a miracle into a physical process is unlikely given that physical processes can explain themselves in naturalistic ways. But as even atheist Thomas Nagel says, in his book, “Mind and Cosmos” (Pages 13-33), that doesn’t explain why there are physical processes, to begin with. (1) If you think the answers to the arguments from natural theology are actually naturalistic then please provide a better explanation after we have given the arguments for theism. Don’t just assume metaphysical explanations are the same a scientific ones. They are not, and that should be obvious.

Zod then shoots himself in the foot with an analogy. He says (I’m paraphrasing) picture a domino that we see fall over. One person says God must have pushed that over. A second person says I don’t think God pushed it over but maybe he pushed the original domino over which led to that one. It is an odd analogy because you can see screen changes and thus the analogy changes. In the first clip there is just one domino that fell over (probably from wind):Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 9.15.31 AM.png

Then he switches to a second clip where you see him literally push over a bunch of dominoes that lead to the first:
Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 9.15.53 AM.png

Then says both people are doing the same thing. No, Zod, in your own analogy they are not doing the same thing.

In the second we see him push them over, whereas, in the first, the one domino just falls over by itself. So the analogy is awkward, at best, and if we take the analogy as it stands it actually work against his point (since in the second there was an intervention that caused the dominos to fall over). Zod didn’t mean for it to be understood this way, but the actions of the analogy he set up, speak louder than how he wants us to interpret it.

Zod says, “Both of these people are doing the same thing. They’re looking at a mystery and coming up with the same premature, totally unjustified theory that God did it.” Ironically, as I said, if we took his analogy literally (with him as the divine intervener) then it actually does make sense to say God did it since we have good evidence of intervention in this second example. But let’s use his analogy to make a point about how natural theology works and why crying ‘god of the gaps’ whenever the atheist wants to is a bad argument.

In the first scenario, Zod set up we just saw one domino fall over. It could have been wind, an uneven table, perhaps hidden magnets, or a number of other things. The fact is from just watching the domino fall over we don’t have enough evidence to conclude why it fell. Now with his second analogy, we do have good evidence to suggest human intervention caused the line of dominos to fall. We saw him do it. So it is absurd for Zod to use this analogy and say they are the same. His own analogy works against him. In the second scenario, we have good evidence to infer intervention.

Likewise, this is how the arguments from natural theology work. We do not appeal to a mystery as he asserts. We actually present evidence to infer a theistic conclusion as the best explanation. If the atheist disagrees with our argument then he can either remain agnostic or offer a better explanation of the data. For example, with this domino scenario let’s say if we zoomed out and saw there was no human hand that pushed them over, it was a glove attached to a swinging board. Then we would have new and more evidence to replace the previous inference with a better one. Atheists don’t do this when it comes to arguments for God’s existence. They never offer a better inference. They just cry god the gaps, assume naturalism is already true, and caricature theistic arguments like Zod did throughout his entire response. The fact is the first domino scenario is not the same as the second, just like theistic arguments are not the same as crying “god did it.” For theistic argument, we do have independent evidence to make our conclusion (like with the second domino examples). They are not just different forms of the same thought process. In the first scenario there is not enough evidence to make a valid conclusion, and in the second we do have independent evidence.

If that is the wrong conclusion then atheists need to explain why, not just caricature, and say it is the same as saying “god did it.” Ironically, his own analogy works against him.

If atheists don’t have a better non-theistic explanation, they resort to saying “I don’t know,” since we may not have enough data and therefore should not draw any conclusions. However, then they also admit they truly do not know and lack a position to argue from. So they do not know the best explanation but they also do not know if the theist is right. So they cannot say, “I don’t know but I know it is wrong to infer theism.” Otherwise, that refutes their own claim that they “don’t know” so they cannot have their cake and eat it too. The whole thing is circular and self-defeating.

To further explain what I mean lets quote Zod just after this at 8:10. He says, “In other words, God didn’t push the current domino we just looked at all the dominoes that fell and assumed he must have pushed the first one. That’s what this is saying and labeling it as metaphysical or philosophical doesn’t do shit to change the fact.”

Well, Zod, it depends on the type of evidence we have in each case. Again, even in your own analogy, we do have enough evidence to infer an outside intervener knocked the line of dominos over. Would it not be silly to cry intervener of the gaps with your analogy? We all saw you push it over, right? When it comes to the arguments for theism you don’t just get to cry they are same as the first domino, especially if the evidence is different in each scenario. That should be blatantly obvious. So this is why we present evidence and philosophical arguments from different angles for why a necessary mind is the best explanation of the data. We have evidence we rely on and when you just say it is the same as the first domino you are just crying god of the gaps and not addressing our arguments or evidence. So in a sense, this video proves my point about abusing the god the gaps. Zod is just ignoring the evidence used in theistic arguments and presenting a caricature.Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 9.20.00 AM.png

Zod then gives a visual and inadvertently shows what all theoretical physicists, historians, and philosophers do is silly. He gives us a circle which he says contains everything we know, and everyone outside of it is an unknown mystery (in this area he lists the beginning of the universe and what might be outside the universe). This was defined poorly because the lines between these two categories are not black and white. In fact, we don’t really speak in these absolute terms. We tend to speak of probability and likelihood. There is no fine line between things we know and don’t know since new data can give us reason to change our current limited explanations. Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 9.37.12 AM.png

Zod says of his visual, “of course, anything we can prove to anybody else lies within the circle, and by contrast, any claim we make about what’s outside the circle is totally silly because it’s made up and you can’t prove a word of it to anyone.” He says theistic arguments are attempts to fill in this area outside of the circle with guesses. This really shows how little he has thought about this. So we have to prove something? What does that even mean? Prove in a mathematical sense, scientific, historical? All of these areas have different levels of what constitutes a justified claim.

By his logic, unless we can prove something it is just silly and made up. Let’s test this. Can he prove he is not a brain in a vat? Can he prove Caesar crossed the Rubicon? Can he prove humans and chimps have a common ancestor? The fact is none of these things can be proven. Instead, actual experts talk about probability and likelihood, based on evidence.

For example, it is more probable modern humans evolved from an early species called Homo Habilis. We have not observed this and we don’t know all the transitional species in between, but we still conclude this based on the evidence. So which category does that go in? Based on the most current data, we infer quantum physics and relativity are valid scientific theories, however, we don’t know how they work together and physicists are still trying to sort this out. Which category should they go in? I don’t think Zod thought this one through and it shows how poorly thought out his video is. By his logic, all of theoretical physics is totally silly because it’s made up and you can’t prove a word of it to anyone. Theoretical physicists posit many things outside of the universe (multiverse, brane cosmology, quantum fields). Is this all silly? Historians posit theories to explain things in the past we cannot observe. Can anything that happened in the past be proven? I guess Zod thinks historical investigations are silly.

Philosophy of science also demonstrates science is not so much about proof and observations as it is about theories, data, and shaping principles. This old idea science is about inductivism has been dead for decades. We have moved far beyond this understanding of science. (2)

But we all know it is only silly for atheists when theists use the same line of reasoning to infer God exists. Unless Zod explains why theistic arguments (arguing from data to the most reasonable explanation) are any different, his whole argument here is special pleading. But so far all he has done is caricature the arguments we present instead of actually explaining why they are different.

Zod then really go off the rails. He puts an umbrella on the screen and says materialism covers methodological and philosophical naturalism. This is just wrong, there is no other way to put it. Materialism is not technically the same thing as philosophical naturalism, let alone an umbrella that includes methodological and philosophical naturalism. Materialism properly defined is a philosophical claim that all that exists is matter and that mind reduces to it whereas something like non-reductive physicalism mind does not reduce to matter but is rather an emergent property. (3)Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 10.22.04 AM.png

A good example is how the philosopher of mind, David Chalmers is one who writes on the hard problem of consciousness and he argues against materialism, however, he himself is a property dualist (and therefore a naturalist). So then materialism would not cover over all forms of philosophical naturalism since David Chalmers, himself is a naturalist but not a materialist. (4)

The second problem in this video is you can be a materialist and a methodological naturalist. But you can also be a materialist and reject methodological naturalism. The problem is (as any freshmen philosophy student will tell you) methodological naturalism is not a metaphysical worldview, is a strategy for studying the world and nothing more. In other words, it is not a conclusion like theism or philosophical materialism (or naturalism) is it is an attempt to tell us how we ought to go about studying reality.

He then says I don’t allow for this position (methodological naturalism) and I’m lumping all non-theistic positions with philosophical naturalism and creating a false dilemma. The fact that he thinks this show he doesn’t understand metaphysics or what methodical naturalism is. First, I definitely did not say all non-theistic positions are philosophical naturalism, that is just a lie or a very bad misrepresentation. So there is no false dilemma. I only used materialism as an example in my original video as something that would be a non-theistic explanation. I did not say it is only one or the other.Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 10.01.32 AM.png

Second, what we are talking about is comparing metaphysical worldviews. Methodological naturalism is a strategy some have as a part of their metaphysical worldview. It is not comparable in this case. You can be a theist and methodological naturalist. You can be a philosophical naturalist and not methodological naturalist or you can be both. It is not a third category that competes with philosophical naturalism and theism. The fact that he doesn’t know this and confuses this says a lot, and yet, he says I am the one being sloppy.

After this, I was confused because his terminology became even more sloppy. Starting at 12:10 he seems to be conflating materialism with methodological naturalism now, which would be absurd. He is throwing around a lot of terms that were never properly defined (or improperly defined). He refers to what he just went over and says I confused materialism and philosophical naturalism. However, his original image of the umbrella demonstrated he thought materialism covered methodological and philosophical naturalism (which is not even true). Maybe I am missing something here, but it hard to follow since his terminology has changed. It is hard to figure out what his definitions are.

Previously, he seemed to think he could separate methodological naturalism from philosophical naturalism as completely separate and opposing theories, but now I think he is conflating materialism with methodological naturalism, which is absurd. A quick google search should have revealed to him these are not the same thing. Materialism is a metaphysical worldview that all that exists is matter, as I explained, and methodological naturalism is a strategy for studying reality. (5)

Zod then says, “God the gaps arguments are problematic because when faced with a mystery about how the universe works they jump the gun and import purely guessed at information from out here (points to screen where unknowns mysteries are). Materialism never does any such thing. He wants us to think not only that materialism assumes everything outside a realm of observation is physically but that it draws on this assumption to explain things it can’t within the universe like theists do when they import assumptions about God.”

Again, I don’t think he thought this one out. He is, again, conflating materialism with methodological naturalism, which is what is really silly. Materialism is not even the same thing as naturalism, let alone an umbrella that covers methodological and philosophical naturalism. That is just wrong. Other than that, it is just the same old caricature of natural theology and what the aim is.

He then says, “Even philosophical naturalism just assumes everything operates by the same rules as the natural universe, an assumption that provides no supernatural nonsense to fill gaps with anyway and just encourages actual scientific inquiry.”

I need to stop here and point out how absurd this is. Is the implication theism hinders scientific inquiry? How many scientists in the past have been Christians? Also, the definition of philosophical naturalism doesn’t include the idea one ought to encourage scientific inquiry. It is a philosophical belief and doesn’t say anything about what ought to be done with science.

Second, he has finally gotten to the place where he proves my point, that when atheists cry god of the gaps they are employing circular reasoning. Anything that he deems “supernatural nonsense” must be a god of the gaps, because he knows naturalism is already true, so any evidence that doesn’t lead to naturalism must just be a gap filler. This is what I mean about the god the gaps being a circular argument. They always show us they just assume naturalism is true and no evidence could ever lead to theism because they know naturalism is already true.

After this, he just repeats a lot of the same flawed logic we have already addressed.

Then at 16:22 he shoots himself in the foot. He takes issue with my example of gravity that I used in my original video, that crying god of the gaps is as bad as crying gravity of the gaps. He says, “Do I need to explain that [gravity] is a parsimonious model for summing up phenomena we’ve actually observed and does not rely on imparting any random guesses about what lies outside the universe.”

So of course, he doesn’t represent the arguments from natural theology correctly again (at this point I doubt he ever read anything on philosophy of religion) and doesn’t even get the point. Again, theism is a model or a (metaphysical) theory of reality, like how gravity is a model that explained observable phenomena. It would be absurd to suggest gravity is wrong because it is not proven, and is only just the best and most parsimonious explanation of observable phenomena. However, earlier in his response he strongly implied theists cannot prove God exists. What I am pointing out, for atheists like him, is we are not claiming we can prove God exists, we are saying it is the most parsimonious model for summing up phenomena we’ve actually observed and does not rely on imparting any random guesses about what lies outside the universe. If he has a better model then let’s hear it. But just caricaturing theism shows he doesn’t or cannot understand the arguments we have presented, let alone offer a better explanation.

At 17:03 he says if scientists invoke gravity the same way theistic philosophers invoke God then upon seeing things fall they forgo scientific investigation. Then he says scientists would say, “well, obviously the gravity monster loves us so much and doesn’t want us to go into space so it can protect us and by the way, the gravity monster happens to be what I learned in Sunday school.”

First, Zod seems to think that theism entails that God is involved in a physical process (such as the Greek gods like Zeus), however, as my video already explained theistic explanations don’t invoke a miracle in physical processes. This was the whole point of me explaining the correct way to present a God of the gaps and why Christians should accept all of nature as God’s work. Did Zod even pay attention to my original video?

Second, once again we need to understand the differences between something that would be outside space-time (such as God) and something in space-time. Gravity requires physical objects and therefore requires classical space-time to exist. So a gravity monster would require space-time unless Zod can show why space-time is the only thing that is real and fundamental and nothing can exist outside it then he may have a case, however, we already explained in another video why space-time is emergent and not fundamental.(6)

Third, the last point involving Sunday school, Zod seems to think theist are indoctrinated into belief in God and have a biased toward it. For one, everyone has a biased, Zod himself has videos that criticize religion. Should I just accuse him of brainwashing his audience to be anti-theist?

Finally at 17:50 we get his first (erroneous) attempt to address the arguments from natural theology. He argues something like divine hiddenness. He says, “I wonder why [God] would let all these arguments sit dormant for thousands of years while unconvinced people went to hell for lack of access to them.

First off, this shows how little he knows about philosophy. Contingency, teleological, and moral arguments are thousands of years old. Has he never even heard of a guy named Plato? Second, all I said in my video was new data has strengthened our case, not that there was no evidence prior to the new data. He doesn’t even address the data or offer a better explanation. Thirds, my next video will be on hell, so I’ll address that then, but no one goes to hell for lack of information (John 9:41; 15:22). Either way, this is just an appeal to emotion, not a reasonable rebuttal, and it supports my point atheists cannot deal with the evidence and offer a better explanation.

At 19:12, Zod says, “Non-theists do not depend on future people filling gaps in our knowledge and the fact that you think we do betrays a weakness in your own thinking.”

I think Zod needs to get out more. I heard this objection in the very first online debate I ever was in:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWBvfchqiXQ

(It is towards the end).

Does Zod expect us to take his word that non-theists have never used this line of reasoning? I included in the video because I hear it all the time. If he doesn’t use this line of reasoning why is he getting so upset by this? It should not affect him unless he thinks he represents all non-theists.

Zod then goes on a rant about how it is an ancient superstition to want an answer everything, like why the universe exists. Zod, I don’t care if you don’t have an answer or don’t want to answer these questions. All it tells me is theists have the best explanation since atheists cannot offer a better one. You can remain ignorant or not follow the evidence where it leads. I choose to seek the truth, you do you.

Towards the end of my original video I said, “Thus, when a non-theist cries “god of the gaps” they are not really addressing any arguments for God’s existence, but admitting to us all they are just assuming their worldview that God doesn’t exist, and any evidence for God cannot possibly mean God exists.”

Zod then replies to this in his video around 22:00, “No, the problem is there is no evidence for God, which is why your best attempt at proving his existence relies on telling us that it automatically and for unobserved reasons explains unsolved mysteries.”

Okay, so based on his last two comments, he first said he doesn’t know the answers to these questions and doesn’t think we have to have answers, but now he knows the answer is not God. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either you are agnostic or you know the answer is not theistic and you have a better explanation of the data. Pick one, Zod. You can believe all you want there is no evidence for God, but we will keep presenting our arguments and wondering why atheists have to rely on caricatures (like he did this entire video) and are unable to offer a better explanation.

Second, here he is again, proving my original video correct. He just assumes naturalism is true and evidence which could lead to theism is just an unsolved mystery. His logic is, if the answer is not naturalistic it must be wrong or an unsolved mystery. In other words, naturalism is true so there is no evidence for God, therefore naturalism must true. Screen Shot 2018-11-25 at 3.02.15 PM.png

So before we wrap up, Zod says his metaphysical worldview “explains anything.” Okay, then put your money where your mouth is. Explain how the brain creates consciousness, where space-time came from, why there is something rather than nothing, etc. If for some reason he ‘does not know’ then as pointed out above, he shouldn’t be arguing against the theistic position.

It’s important to understand the distinction between science and metaphysics, as naturalism and theism are both metaphysical theories (again, methodological naturalism is a strategy, not a worldview). These metaphysical theories have different ontologies, which is the nature of what things are. Under naturalism, everything is physical, natural, material or non-mental at the fundamental level. Under something like idealism, everything is a mental ontology, and under substance dualism, you have both mental and material ontologies. All of these theories argue from the same data found in science. Science studies the world and we learn how it works, however, one can make a metaphysical argument from science and I have done this in previous videos to make a cumulative case from science. Science itself still works regardless of these metaphysical views. Scientific theories explain certain phenomena in the universe like how evolution is specific to biology but not physics whereas metaphysical theories explain all of the scientific theories as a whole and the universe as a whole, as well as its ontology. So we only argue theism is the best metaphysical explanation of reality just as a biologist would explain why evolution is the best explanation of biology. You cannot prove theism or evolution, only infer them as the best explanation. This is not complicated.

If Zod replies or wants to debate more, my guess is he will not be able to offer a better explanation of the data used in natural theology, but will just rely on more appeals to emotion, arguments to random possibilities, or continue to assume his conclusion of naturalism.
UPDATE:

Round 2 with Zod, his new response to this blog post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8XKkONxoew

Zod said this would be his last response, so even if it is not, he is right about one thing, there is no use in keeping this going. So this will be just going over a couple of problems.

Zod begins his second response an insult rampage of my blog, “For the most part, his response a tedious and disorganized mess of unremarkable apologetics comebacks, including standard shift….” You get the idea. As I said atheists have to rely on insults instead of addressing our arguments.

He then takes issue with the analogy of the dominos (mentioned above). Zod basically said I didn’t understand it or misrepresented it. Well, I did understand what he was getting at, which is why in my blog response I said (above), “Zod didn’t mean for it to be understood this way, but the actions of the analogy he set up, speak louder than how he wants us to interpret it.”

Now Zod tries to go on clarifying the analogy, which is a waste of time. As I already admitted, I took the analogy on a different way in order to illustrate a point, and you can read that above. He didn’t respond to my re-use of the analogy and so there is nothing really more to say. Zod didn’t seem to quote the part of my blog where I admitted I was changing this to make a point, so this is a clear quote mine on his part. Ironically, he ends his video by saying I don’t have a basic reading comprehension level.

Zod, then admits he made errors in the section of his video on methodological naturalism, and hats off to him for accepting that. However, he says in that in my original video that my “presentation is shrouded in linguistic vagary and his shady use of language slips between lumping atheists of multiple philosophical approaches and then using one of these approaches to response us all.”

I would like for Zod to back up this quote of his. My original video was not attacking all atheists, it was attacking atheists that cry ‘god of the gaps’ in response to natural theology. Not all atheists do that, which is why I never said ‘all atheists.’ Also, where (in my original video) did I lump all philosophical approaches? I never brought up methodological and philosophical naturalism until Zod thought they were separate ideas in his response. My video was simply pointing out that crying ‘god go the gaps’ is assuming non-theism is already true (circular reasoning). I am not saying all non-theists are materialists, and it seems Zod keep implies I did. I used materialism as an example and here are the lines from my original script:

First Quote: “For example, materialism is a metaphysical theory of reality, not a scientific theory. Materialism is the idea all that exists is matter and the complex arrangements of matter. This cannot be proven by science, only inferred philosophically. Now if a materialist were to argue from something we observe in science (conservation of matter) was evidence in favor of materialism it would be absurd for me to reply they are just trying to explain that with a materialism of the gaps, and this is how ridiculous it sounds when a non-theist attempts to argue a god of the gaps in response to the arguments from natural theology or the metaphysical theory of theism. It is not actually arguing from a gap in a natural process, but arguing for a metaphysical theory of reality which attempts to explain why there are natural processes or what is the best way to explain reality.”

Second Quote: “What they have done is assume their worldview is correct (say something like materialism) and therefore any data or evidence that the theist provides must really not imply God’s existence, because they have assumed materialism is already true. So it must just be a gap filler until a materialistic explanation comes along.”

Zod, as you can see, I was just using materialism as an example in order to illustrate my point. I don’t care what you argue from, crying god the gaps in response to our arguments and evidence is simply assuming we are wrong from the get-go, and not providing a better explanation of the data. Zod, please stop taking that out of context. You claim I misunderstood you, but that goes both ways. Nowhere did I claim all non-theists are materialists or naturalists.

Zod then concludes by saying he doesn’t really want to go into all-too-familiar arguments with me, when in reality that is what we theists are dying to do. We really want to have a rational conversation about the evidence and see if atheists have a better and more parsimonious, philosophical worldview. But we rarely get that, instead, we get atheists claiming god the gaps, which is a circular argument, and inadvertently ignoring our evidence and points. If you don’t want to engage with our arguments, fine, but that shows us we have the best explanation of reality because you cannot offer a better inference, and if you can’t deal with our arguments it shows us why you insist on crying god the gaps when confronted by any evidence. I would love to have a live discussion with Zod over my arguments and see if he has a better inference, but sadly, he doesn’t seem to want to do that, and just keep claiming god the gods, and thus, assume his worldview is already true.

Zod then ends by saying that I can’t understand him on a basic reading comprehension level. As I opened my original blog with, atheists typically rely on insults and talk down to theists. But remember at the end of the day we have the best explanation of reality, and I back that up to remind that atheists do not and they have not offered a more parsimonious explanation for our arguments.

 

 

Endnotes

  1. “Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False” https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Cosmos-Materialist-Neo-Darwinian-Conception/dp/0199919755. Accessed 24 Nov. 2018.
  2.  “Philosophy of Mind – By Branch / Doctrine – The Basics of Philosophy.” https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_philosophy_of_mind.html. Accessed 24 Nov. 2018.
  3. “For and Against Method” https://www.amazon.com/Against-Method-Scientific-Lakatos-Feyerabend-Correspondence/dp/0226467759
  4.  “The Character of Consciousness (Philosophy of Mind): David J ….” https://www.amazon.com/Character-Consciousness-Philosophy-Mind/dp/0195311116. Accessed 24 Nov. 2018.
  5.  “Naturalism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).” 22 Feb. 2007, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism/. Accessed 24 Nov. 2018.
  6.  “The Emergent Universe – YouTube.” 6 Jul. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFEBOGLjuq4. Accessed 24 Nov. 2018.

Essence Of Thought still Abuses the God of the Gaps Fallacy

Average Reading Time: 23 Minutes

Have you ever seen a video so ironic that they only prove your original point? Well, that’s what Essence of thought (EOT) in his video response to my video “Abusing the God of the gaps fallacy”(1) has done (2). His response only proves the point that non-theist will misrepresent the God of the gaps fallacy and use it as a last resort argument. On a side note given my busy life, I have asked Kyle Alander to co-author this response with me and he will be responsible for the majority of the writing. We will show the irony in EOT response, show his flaws and circular reasoning to demonstrate why he has only proved our original point, and why his rantings are childish gibberish. On the bright side, EOT’s video actually serves to support our case of how crying a god of the gaps is circular reasoning and does nothing to threaten natural theology, so we should thank him for that.

 

Ending at 0:40, I had to highlight this. So apparently EOT thinks that I (IP), “drown cosmology, the mind, and ethics in its intellectually bankrupt destiny free of [my] regular shitposts.” So he clearly sets a tone of immaturity and mudslinging, which we all know is a sign of cyberbullying and lack of integrity. Anyways EOT seems to imply that even after we have explained why arguments for God are not God of the gaps he thinks that arguments for God’s existence are somehow still God of the gaps. We will see later in the video why he is wrong, but starting off with that type of statement is no way to allow your audience to take you seriously.

 

At 1:26-2:45, EOT says “God of the gaps simply notes that humanity in its ignorance in certain fields does not permit theist to come along and assert that said gap in our knowledge must be explained by and therefore validate the existence of their God. It really is that simple.”

 

First, in my original video, I pointed out that this very claim is circular reasoning, by assuming the conclusion of naturalism. If any evidence that theists offer leads to a theistic worldview, naturalists, like EOT, just assume it is a gap in our knowledge and can’t possibly be real evidence theism is true. So he has already committed the fallacy I said naturalist/atheists always commit. Did he really think he would be able to get that one by?

 

Second, any theist that would understand the arguments for God’s existence wouldn’t be claiming that these arguments are simply gap-fillers for our ignorance. Second, as I explain in my original video, it’s more about the best explanation of the data. EOT seems to think that any evidence for a God must be a gap filler which is not true (assuming naturalism must already be true despite what the evidence might say). Arguments for God simply give you the best explanation of the data and if non-theists have no counter explanation then they have no case. Theism is not a gap in our knowledge rather it is the explanation for the knowledge as a whole. We will get more into this later because he does continue to make the same objections even after it is explained in my original video that theism (a metaphysical theory) is simply the best explanation of the current data and it is not a gap-filler.

 

At 1:55 EOT says something interesting “God of the gaps does not rely on past failures nor does it has to posit that we will one day find the answer to every question. The way past failures are sometimes brought up is not as evidence the same will be true of the modern-day gap but rather a cautionary tale that shows the flaw in such an argument. A God could very well be an explanation of these things but none of the current evidence supports that claim at all. As for never finding out the answer that is just a sad fact, we may have to face one day yet that does not justify the apologist assertions in any way. As for this being the last resort argument, this may be the last resort because once it’s used the debate is over. Unless you have direct evidence for the existence of God.”  

 

The reason why I say it’s interesting is because of the circular reasoning involved here. EOT claims that the God of the gaps doesn’t rely on past failures but rather the past failures are brought up to show the “cautionary tale” in the arguments for God. Fair enough, but doesn’t really pertain to my video or what I was arguing mainly.

 

However, he then says that no current evidence supports God which is interesting because we would expect him to explain why the evidence doesn’t support God’s existence, but rather than that he says how things that don’t have an explanation we may never find the answer too. Well, this is the problem. If a non-theist has no explanation (or at least acknowledge there may never be a non-theistic answer) for certain pieces of data then they do not have a better explanation than the theistic one already offered. If there is evidence for something (examples include fine-tuning, emergent space-time/quantum cognition, digital physics, moral values, and duties, etc) that can’t be explained on a non-theistic worldview but the theist can explain such evidence then the theistic explanation is superior to non-theistic views. Thus, EOT starts with the assertion that there is no evidence for God’s existence in theistic arguments on grounds that there may one day be a non-theistic explanation (or lack of explanation), and this is of course because there is no evidence for God. How is this not circular and how does this make his case for a non-theistic worldview better than a theistic one? It’s not clear what EOT counts as “evidence for God” and the fact that he didn’t bother to clarify that makes it more likely that no evidence can count as evidence for God, because he is doing the very thing I said atheists do.

 

At 4:16-4:50 EOT says “Drummonds special pleading in willfully sacrificing the field of science while refusing the apply the same standards to philosophy, in general, is not a saving grace. It’s a fatal flaw instead of an addition of God of the gaps one which has been patched in updated versions which apply the very same reasoning comprehensively. The very facts that humanity acknowledge its ignorance in certain fields does not then permit theist to come along and assert that said gap in our knowledge must be explained by, and therefore, validates the existence of their God is equally applicable to all philosophy as it is [with] science”.

 

Okay, any freshman majoring in philosophy should see the blatant philosophical error here. But, EOT has had trouble with philosophy before, so this doesn’t surprise me. First, when we transition from science to philosophy we are dealing with the bigger questions of reality. Roughly speaking, science deals with how things happen, whereas philosophy deals with why things happen. In the case of theism, it explains why things happen or why there is even science, to begin with. Theism is not a scientific theory it is a philosophical or metaphysical theory of why reality works the way it does, in the same way, naturalism or materialism are metaphysical theories.

 

Second, saying that God of the gap applies to all philosophy is just plain wrong. There is nothing in philosophy that, a priori, gives us justification to say that all non-theistic explanations are superior to theistic ones since from the start, theism and non-theism are both philosophical positions and it would be absurd for me to say that a non-theistic explanation in philosophy is a gap that a theistic explanation will one day explain (or that we lack an explanation). That would be an absurd way to argue and assuming my conclusion, and yet that is exactly what EOT is doing in reverse.

 

Continuing after 4:50, EOT asserts that the moral argument is a God of the gaps because we don’t understand morality so one cannot assume God explains morality. Then he goes on to say that the origin of the universe is a field of science and that it will find an explanation without God.

 

First, claiming that we will find an explanation without God for things like the origin of the universe is committing the very error I pointed out in my original video. It is like he didn’t even watch it and just assumes he can keep using the same horrible reasoning.

 

Second, getting back to ethics, I’m getting hints he assumes morality is a science because he seems to be implying morality is a science. That would only be true if ethical naturalism or a form of non-cognitivism was true. Both of these positions are riddled with problems [Link 1] [Link2].

 

Morality is not a science because it does not use empiricism and we can’t scientifically test morality. One has to use reason in order to figure out morality and the moral argument simply leads to the conclusion that God is the best explanation of morality. If non-theists cannot come up with an explanation then theists have a reasonable case to the best explanation. Now I know EOT will try to claim that it’s just a god of the gaps (because he keeps assuming his conclusion of naturalism), however, I could do the same thing regarding whatever his non-theistic account of morality is. Using his logic, a theist can respond to non-theistic accounts of morality by saying “Non-theistic accounts are just naturalism of the gaps.” It is all circular reasoning since I could turn it around on him. In reality, we argue to the best explanation from the data, and I have done that in my videos [insert hyperlinks to videos]. If he claims he doesn’t know how morality can be explained then he has no explanation and theism is the best inference.

 

Ending at 6:52, EOT seems to claim the supernatural (or non-materialist explanations) is magic. This is what happens when one equates their metaphysical view as the only one that doesn’t include magic. Non-materialistic metaphysics (such as idealism, or dualism) are not magic, they simply put a priority on the mind rather than matter. It’s clear that EOT does not understand metaphysics at all and unfortunately, this is probably why he likes to equate his metaphysical views as the only non-magical (whatever that means) explanations. We will get more into this later, however, by making this claim it is really showing his ignorance on how metaphysical theories actually work.

 

Starting at 6:55-7:55, EOT says, in speaking of materialistic versus theistic worldviews that, “it’s a massive false equivalence. We have evidence that both the naturalistic and material exist. Meanwhile, we have exactly no evidence to even suggest that the apparent non-naturalistic, non-material exist. Now based on those facts there is absolutely no justification to assert that things we lack currently answers to are not are simply the product of the unproven non-naturalistic, non-material entities…Arguing from our testable knowledge as the counter-apologist does is not equivalent to arguing from willful ignorance as the apologist does… I base my materialistic perspective on the scientific basis that all we have yet observed is naturalistic and material but I am happy to change that if you supply evidence for the supernatural and non-material.”

 

First, we have argued for a theistic worldview. I have done several prior videos on the evidence. By EOT just asserting his conclusion (non-theism) and not even addressing the evidence (I hint to throughout my original video) it just shows his dishonesty or bias against the evidence. I don’t care if he is not convinced, I care about the evidence, and just crying “god of the gaps” when theists present evidence is a bad argument. That was the whole point of my video, which he seemed to have missed.

 

Second, it is interesting what EOT’s definition for the material would be, because given what modern physics has shown what space-time is, it will lead to equivocations. Typically, matter is defined by everything that takes up space-time as it would make no sense for matter to exist in a non-spatial location. So given that we actually do have evidence for the non-material, if we define the material as that which only exists in space-time. For example, the collapse of the wave function requires a conscious mind as it is the simplest explanation of the data and before people start to make objections, we already have videos that respond to these criticisms (3). Even biology (4) and cosmology (5) give us strong scientific reasons to consider the fact that there is more to the universe than space-time and matter. These are dealt with in other videos, but the claim that science can only study matter has been challenged with the advances in modern physics for quite some time now. We can only observe matter, but what we are able to study may go beyond that.

 

Second, even without modern physics, it is actually wrong to assert we only experience the material. I don’t think EOT realizes that we only ever interact with a mental world. This is one of the main points of idealists. As Keith Ward explains:

 

“Any physicist will say that brains are mostly empty space, in which molecules, atoms, electrons, quarks, and other strange particles buzz about in complicated ways. It seems as though physical objects, when not being observed, have no colors, and no sounds, smells, or taste or sensations. Things do not smell like, taste like or feel like anything when nobody is smelling, tasting or feeling them. The physical world it seems is totally vacuous. No colors, sounds, smells, taste or sensations. What on earth is left?” (6)

 

The point that Keith ward is explaining is that we only ever experience a mental world and not a material one. So it’s simply wrong to assert that we only experience a material world when the opposite happens to be the case. All in all, EOT is still just assuming his conclusion of naturalism/materialism, the very fallacious reasoning in identified in my original video. His very words are proving my point, that atheists just assume the conclusion of non-theism when they cry “god of the gaps,” instead of addressing our arguments.

 

Ending at 9:32, EOT tries to say that whenever “secular” philosophy fails to account for something then God must be the explanation and then he compares God to random entities like the flying spaghetti monster (FSM) and says there is no difference. Then he asserts that theists have a bad understanding of how science works.

 

First off, if we are comparing God with a FSM people can already see the problem. A FSM (if it did exist) would exist in space-time as well as lacking the attributes that God would have. So the comparison doesn’t work. Also, a FSM fails to account for things like morality and fails to explain the evidence for theism in general. The fact that EOT didn’t go on to explain why a FSM (or any other of his examples) would be a better explanation than theism only shows his ignorance on how explanations in metaphysics work. So just like theism can better explain the evidence over non-theistic accounts, theism also explains the evidence better than a FSM, or the magical fairy, or whatever random possibility he wants to make up.

 

Ending at 10:16 EOT asserts that cosmological arguments are gaps in understanding the origin of our universe.

 

First off, as I explained in my original video, he has not given a non-theistic model of the universe’s origin that can better explain the data than that of theism. While we cannot deny the possibility of there being a non-theistic account for this it is dishonest to claim that non-theistic accounts are more probable. Especially if you cannot provide a better inference. All the evidence leads to classical space-time having a beginning and that would include all the matter in the universe. This can go deep into things like quantum gravity, however, even in that field theism explains the evidence far better than non-theism. This is explored more in the videos linked before, but since the evidence can be better explained on theism then theism is the more probable option than non-theism with regards to cosmological arguments. If EOT disagrees, then at this point, after we have provided a theistic explanation, the onus is on him to provide a better non-theistic explanation.

 

Ending at 11:40, EOT makes some objections to fine-tuning by saying that we always observe complexity arising from simplicity and then claims that I have confirmation bias (sounds like a psychological project from him). He then talks about how the mind not being explained by the brain is a gap argument for the soul and therefore god of the gaps.

 

So I guess he just going to continue to keep assume naturalism is true, doing exactly what I said atheists do in my original video when they cannot offer a better explanation of the data (just mischaracterize the arguments from natural theology and cry god of the gaps). Now, complexity from simplicity happens because of the laws of nature. However, fine-tuning has to do with the physical constants (a.k.a. laws of nature) we have in order for life to emerge. The mechanism by which complex things emerge from simple things only happens because of the laws of that mechanism. However, that does not explain why the mechanism is even there, to begin with. Fine-tuning has to do with what chose the mechanism that was needed for life to begin. So EOT stating that complexity arising from simplicity refutes fine-tuning is extremely flawed. Even the multiverse would require fine-tuning of its own so this does not explain fine-tuning on a non-theistic account. This shows how little he understands natural theology and the arguments that are made, yet he wants to lecture theists on how to do proper philosophy.

 

Second, regarding the mind, EOT doesn’t get into that much. I doubt he has even studied philosophy of mind, which gets into things like the hard problem of consciousness for how subjectivity arises from objectivity. If the mind is not the byproduct of the space-time universe and if our minds arose at one point then it must have a personal source which we refer to as God. This is simply the best explanation of the data (7). EOT calling it a gap is dishonest, especially if he doesn’t have an alternative explanation. But as we have seen he doesn’t care to provide one. He instead wants to follow the script of the fallacious reasoning I said atheists follow in my original video when they cry god of gaps, instead of looking at the evidence. Again, it is like he didn’t even watch it.

 

Ending at 15:40, EOT makes multiple points which will be listed out.

EOT claims:

  1. The effects of gravity are observable and theism is not so the two are not alike.
  2. Theism has zero explanatory power.
  3. IP has not explained why theism accounts for the evidence.
  4. Theism requires too much, such as consciousness without a mind (he clarifies it in the description), the existence of the supernatural, and has to assume it’s their God.
  5. Good explanations should have predictive power and theism lacks predictive power  
  6. Good explanations should be falsifiable

 

Response 1. Theists do not claim God is the best scientific explanation rather he is the best metaphysical explanation. Did he forget the first part of my video already? Again, we are comparing gravity because gravity is the best explanation in science regarding how things fall to the earth. Theism is the best philosophical explanation for why reality exists and why things are the way they are. It’s an analogy. Try to keep up, EOT.

 

Response 2. Theism again is not a scientific theory it is a metaphysical theory. It will explain the nature of reality, whereas something like quantum mechanics will explain subatomic particles. You can have the scientific theories integrate with a metaphysical theory but they are still not the same since the metaphysical theories will explain the nature of reality as a whole rather than only specific areas of physical reality.

 

Response 3. They are explained in my other videos, which I hinted to throughout my original video on abusing god of the gaps fallacy. Again, did EOT pay attention?

 

Response 4. First, arguments in natural theory do not argue for any specific God only that there is a God that created reality. With regards to which religion is true, there are different arguments for that.  The evidence that favors theism would imply the existence of what he calls the supernatural. It is simply the conclusion (best explanation) of the evidence. If the evidence favors theism it is on the burden for non-theist to come up with a better explanation, of which EOT has failed to do time and time again.

 

Response 5 & 6. We cannot stress this enough theism is not a scientific theory, so it does not follow the same rules as a scientific theory would. Both materialism and naturalism are not falsifiable, yet EOT doesn’t mind assuming they are true. All theism requires for it to work is that it’s the best explanation for reality as a whole and that is true for all metaphysical theories.

 

Ending at 16:38, EOT continues to push the false idea that theism should be treated as a scientific theory. Once again, showing how bad he is at philosophy. Again, of course, God won’t be mentioned in scientific journals. That is because God IS NOT a scientific theory. That’s why God is mentioned mostly in philosophy journals and theistic philosophers and atheist philosophers offer their arguments in those journals (8). Theism explains all the scientific theories as a whole but is not itself a scientific theory.

 

At 17:14 EOT says “All we are actually saying is that shared ignorance of humanity on certain topics is no justification to assert God.”

 

I am not going to quote what he said right after that since it is just an immature insult. Anyway, at this point, I am just repeating myself. We are only ignorant if we have no explanation for something. This idea that God is equivalent to magic comes from a false idea of what God actually is. Theism explains nature as a whole, if non-theists can come up with something that explains reality as a whole that is better than the theistic explanation then they should present it, otherwise repeating “god of the gaps” does nothing to discredit the theistic account. The theist can do the same exact thing against any non-theistic explanation. Finally, once again, no one is arguing for God’s existence from ignorance. This mischaracterization and straw man is pathetic. EOT clearly has not even bothered to look at our arguments.

 

At 18:20 What EOT says next is very ironic “That’s the whole basis for the god of the gaps that what we currently don’t know as a species what will at a later date turn out to confirm God. Of course, throughout history, this has never turned out to be the case. Every advancement in science has shown nothing but purely naturalist and material processes without the need of magic. I don’t assert that what we will know in future will validate non-theism, maybe we will one day discover evidence for your God but that possibility no way impacts reality right here right now.”

 

The funny thing is science has actually given us data from over the past one hundred years to advance some of the best arguments for God existence. Science is not burying God but revealing Him. EOT didn’t even bother to mention that things like the big bang, fine-tuning, or emergent space-time have only been discovered recently and have given us stronger cases for theism. But we can already predict his reply, “that is is just a god of the gaps argument!” He should watch the original video he is attempting to respond to because it is clear from his response he did not pay attention and just asserted the objections that video already dealt with.

 

Second, it’s ironic because EOT keeps mentioning in the past that we have found non-theistic explanations for phenomena and keeps making that comparison. His biggest failure here is that he does not provide a non-theistic explanation for the current arguments for God that theist often use. We have already gone over why there is evidence for the non-material and why materialism fails to account for certain data. The only way EOT can win here is to defend his metaphysical position of materialism, however, he has failed to do that, which makes theism more likely than non-theism.

 

After 21:00 and for the rest of the video EOT goes on a big rant about why things non-theist cannot account for are “just the ignorance of humanity.” Of course, at the end of the day, this is circular reasoning. He accuses us of lying without showing evidence for this. He continues to think that theism must go through the “peer review process of science”. Of course, we already went over why God is not a scientific theory. Finally, EOT asserts that the gaps are theistic gaps and that God is just a filler and is not an answer but just an assertion. This has already been refuted repeatedly since God is the METAPHYSICAL explanation for reality as a whole. It would be like me saying that any explanation for consciousness under materialism is not an answer but an assertion. That would be fallacious for a theist to say, but atheist like to pretend its solid reasoning when they do this.

 

The rest of the video is just a bunch of insults and appeal to ridicules, so it’s no use in trying to respond to someone that acts like a child. EOT has only confirmed the argument of my original video, that atheists don’t even look at the evidence for theism, assume their conclusion of naturalism or materialism, that they are lazy when they cry god of the gaps, and the evidence doesn’t support their worldview. Perhaps one day EOT will make a reasonable and respectful video on philosophy and won’t act like a cyber bully, throwing a tantrum, but that seems to be a gap in abilities and knowledge.

 

Endnotes

  1. “Abusing the God of the Gaps Fallacy – YouTube.” 5 Oct. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1hY3o6G37c. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
  2.  “Are Atheists Abusing The God Of The Gaps Fallacy? | RE – YouTube.” 21 Oct. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuYs025H-8Y. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
  3.  “The Death of Materialism – YouTube.” 4 May. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM0IKLv7KrE. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
  4.  “Was Life Inevitable? – YouTube.” 1 Jun. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H0yoBiBM5s. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
  5.  “The Emergent Universe – YouTube.” 6 Jul. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFEBOGLjuq4. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
  6.  “More Than Matter?: Is There More to Life Than Molecules?: Keith Ward,” Page 24https://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Matter-There-Molecules/dp/0802866603. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
  7.  “The Cosmic Conscious Argument for God’s Existence – YouTube.” 20 Jul. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r74vcMxwUk. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
  8.  “Journals // Center for Philosophy of Religion // University of Notre Dame.” https://philreligion.nd.edu/cpr-resources/journals/. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.

 

Godless Engineer Explains How Jesus and Inanna are Perfectly Vaguely the Same!

Average Reading Time: 26 Minutes

Have you ever watched someone attempt to do something they aren’t good at and fail horribly, and then surprised to find out they think they nailed it? This is what it is like watching Godless Engineer (GE) attempt to find parallels to the life of Jesus. I recently did a video on Inanna and featured some of GE’s arguments in my video, just to show how bad the argument is that Jesus is connected in any way to Inanna. GE (to my amusement) decided to respond. It was so bad I had to post it to my Facebook page to share with followers. GE then got on there and started to converse we me in an attempt to clarify his position. It did not go well.  None of us should be surprised by how bad this response was. After all, when GE made his original video on Inanna and posted it to his Facebook page, this is one of the things he said in the comment section:

Godless Engineer Egypt History.png

I know, I’m bordering on an ad hominem, but I couldn’t resist because the worship of Ra dates back to the Old Kingdom and might be even older. So let’s dive into this wonderful response so we can see how well GE is able to defend a connection/influence between Inanna and Jesus.

He starts off in the typical lines I get from mythicists. He says I intentionally misrepresented him and Richard Carrier. Ironically, you will see that GE does the same to me later in his own video. It is never that two people can disagree or there may have been a misunderstanding. No, its always intentional misrepresentation by people who attack mythicists and purposefully being disingenuous. Head on over to Carrier’s blog and you can see what I mean. The fact of the matter is GE simply did not define what he meant and was very vague.

He takes offense because I attacked him for saying Inanna is a perfect skeleton of Jesus and I pointed out that is simply not true. They do not perfectly match in any way or in any structure. So GE in his response says what he meant by saying a “perfect skeleton” is just that, “some subsets of a story that primarily make it up are the same,” and he says he specifically cited the resurrection and passion narrative.

Now it should be obvious GE never actually defined this in his original video. Saying something is a skeleton typically means they follow the same plot. However, neither story (Jesus and Inanna) shares the same plot sequence or structure Which is why I had to call him out in my response.

However, now we can see that this was not what GE meant. This is a common tactic of his, where he is vague on purpose in order to never really commit to anything. If you think I’m exaggerating watch this debate he had with the Distributist where he could not even define what a religion or theocracy is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sbOA9usp9U

But his new definition just makes things even stranger, because what specific subsets of the story are the perfect skeleton; the plot, the character, the lessons? I tried to press him on this on Facebook and all he said was this and gave me a link to a google search:

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 5.08.55 PM.png

https://www.google.com/search?q=skeleton%20of%20a%20story…

Ok, that doesn’t really help clarify what he means. So I looked at the first two links and they basically said all this means in the general plot or structure is seen as the same. When I told GE this, he clarified and said:

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 5.11.09 PM.png

So a skeleton is not a plot, but a plot outline. That doesn’t really help either. A plot is a vague structure and sequence for a story. An outline of a plot is even vaguer. So is GE basically saying Inanna is a perfect skeleton, meaning a perfectly vague, generalized outline of Jesus? Yes, they are perfectly vaguely the same. That makes total sense!

Of course, I bet GE would probably say:

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 5.13.50 PM.png

Because it is not that he is not clear about what he means, it is that when we ask him questions to define his terms and what he means we are purposefully being disingenuous, and then he runs away before you get a straight answer or a clear definition. GE spends a large amount of time during the rest of the video claiming I’m being disingenuous (like a broken record) and I’m going to ignore that because I really want to focus on Inanna and his attempts to connect her to Jesus. These were the parts that were quite enjoyable, and he doesn’t realize we can use his same reasoning to connect all sorts of unrelated stories.

GE then takes offense when I noted there is not a scholar who would agree with the claim Inanna is a perfect skeleton of Jesus and he says he rejects the authority on this matter and somehow thinks it is bad to appeal to authority. It is not. It is only fallacious when you appeal to an authority who does not specialize in this field. By rejecting legitimate authority you are basically saying your opinion is a better authority. So I would love to see where GE shows he is a better authority on Inanna than Sumerian scholars. Proclaiming boldly (as GE does) that he rejects authority looks foolish, not intelligent. Why should we take GE’s word over Sumerian or New Testament scholars?

GE goes on to say “all of the elements of the Inanna story are in the Jesus story.” This is just false as I pointed out in my video and will point out here in more detail.

After this is when things start to get bad. GE says, “there is indeed a solid link between Inanna and the Jewish people. . . these basic patterns affected the Jewish culture and people, and therefore influenced the later resurrection story they told about the Messiah.”

And how does he know this? Does he have documentation or inscriptions which show the Jewish Christians were influenced by Inanna? If you are going to make the positive claim of influence you need to show some direct connection. You can’t just assume influence when there is no paper trail or ancient manuscript claiming influence. You don’t get to just assume influence without evidence.

For example, both Socrates and Confucius where teachers of wisdom, rejected by the ruling authorities and had disciples carry on their teachings which made them famous. Clearly, Confucius is a “perfect skeleton” of Socrates. I don’t need to show any direct evidence of influence, I just need vague similarities, and clearly, I can show Socrates never existed and his legend was just influenced by Confucius. Both Thutmose III and Rameses II were long-reigning and wealthy pharaohs, both were military men that campaigned in Canaan, had successors that did not live up to their resumes, and fought against large northern empires. Clearly, Ramses II never existed and Thutmose III is the perfect skeleton for the myth of Ramses II.

If you realize how idiotic this reasoning is you can see why GE’s argument is bad. You don’t just get to claim influence, you have to show it. For example, we know Roman mythology was copied from Greek mythology because the stories are identical and authors like Cicero tell us this was happening. In other words, we have evidence of a connection. We don’t have this with Inanna and Jesus.

But wait, GE thinks he has evidence of this because in his original video he notes that the Jews were aware of Inanna/Ishtar because she is mentioned in the books of Ezekiel and Jeremiah. The reason I didn’t mention this in my reply is that it doesn’t relate at all. The Jews were aware of Inanna/Ishtar worshippers. So what? The fact that they were aware of pagan deities, like Inanna/Ishtar doesn’t prove the gospel writers were influenced by the descent of Inanna or borrowed themes or elements from it. Ezekiel doesn’t say this. He doesn’t even mention the legend of the Descent of Inanna. What is GE’s point supposed to be here? Is it because the Jews were aware of Inanna that proves it influenced the life of Jesus or affected Jewish theology? How does that even follow? The acknowledgment of the existence of this goddess doesn’t follow that they decided to craft stories in themes they got from her, let alone that they were even affected by her. This is a non-sequitur at best and GE offers no evidence this myth affected the Jewish Christians. Again, you need evidence of borrowing. If all you have are generalized “subsets of a story” that you think are connected, you don’t have evidence.

GE then moves to try and support the connection of Jesus’ crucifixion to Inanna. First, he admits the Roman version of crucifixion did not exist in ancient Sumer but then makes the odd claim, “but that doesn’t mean some form of crucifixion did not exist at the time.” This is nothing more than an argument from ignorance. If we have no evidence of crucifixion in ancient Sumer you can’t assume it was practiced then.

The best part is, just after this, GE rants on about practices like impaling one on a stake, or how crucifixion originated in other cultures that pre-date Rome. However, for some odd reason, he seems to think this proves crucifixion could date back to ancient Sumer. None of that can logically follow, since all the cultures he listed came into existence centuries after ancient Sumer collapsed. This is also a non-sequitur and he fails to demonstrate any connection between crucifixion and ancient Sumer. Just pointing out the Roman did not invent crucifixion doesn’t magically mean Inanna was ever described as a crucified goddess, let alone provide any evidence such a practice existed in Ancient Sumer. So his claim at the end of his video (where he says that my claim that crucifixion just did not happen in ancient Sumer is factually false) just shows how little research he did (while he ironically claims I did not research the history of crucifixion). GE, yet again, has not provided adequate evidence for his claim, therefore all he has to argue that crucifixion was in ancient Sumer is an argument from ignorance.

Furthermore, Inanna was not even executed in any of these ways that GE mentions. So even if GE could dig up some evidence of crucifixion in ancient Sumer, that wouldn’t matter, because she was not impaled or crucified. She was just pronounced dead by the judges of the underworld. Therefore, her death doesn’t even match the crucifixion of Jesus. Her dead body was only placed on a hook after she was executed. The very deaths of this “perfect skeleton” don’t even line up.

GE realizes this and tries to get around this by saying, “any hanging up, or suspended in air, in any kind of way would have by deemed crucifixion.” Does GE cite any sources for this? Does he cite any scholars or ancient texts? No, he just claims this, ad hoc, and expects us to take his word on it. In reality, there is no evidence to support this. There is no evidence any hanging up (especially a dead body) would have been seen as an execution by crucifixion. Were criminals in Victorian England crucified when they were hanged by the neck? Are deer being crucified when hunters hang their corpses up to drain the blood? I should not even have to explain something so unbelievably obvious. There is not a dictionary, scholar, or ancient text that says any “any hanging up, or suspended in air, in any kind of way would have by deemed crucifixion.” There are other types of “hanging,” so to speak. Its possible crucifixion could be seen as a type of hanging, but not all hangings are crucifixions. GE just made up this baseless assertion to attempt to rescue his argument and I challenge him to back this up with a source. I want to see an ancient source that says a dead body that is hung on a hook is a crucifixion, and even if he could do that he still needs to show this is what is in the Descent of Inanna. 

I checked his sources on this, and what he gives is a wikipedia article Captial and Corporal punishment which doesn’t say the hanging up of a dead body was seen as a crucifixion. Also, Wikipedia is not a credible source. Another link goes to an article by someone named Dan Hayden (who seems to just be a Christian theologian) who also doesn’t give any ancient sources claiming any hanging up of a living or dead person would have been deemed a crucifixion. So I am not sure where he got this claim, but as far as I can tell he just made it up.

After this GE says, “Whenever he [referring to me] says, “No historian would say that is was.” I mean I agree with you because no historian in their right mind would call that the Roman form of crucifixion.”

No, GE. The fact is no Sumerian or New Testament historian would call Inanna’s dead body on a hook a crucifixion. Even if GE is correct and being impaled is a form of crucifixion, hanging dead bodies on a hook is not a type of execution any more than a hunter hanging up a dead deer would be.

GE then unknowingly admits a problem with his theory when he says, “The Inanna story also doesn’t have to use words like resurrection or crucifixion because you can describe something and know what it is, like in the words that we use. Just because they didn’t use our words for things, doesn’t mean that is not what it was.”

No, GE, not only did they not use keywords like resurrection or crucifixion, they didn’t even describe these practices. That is the whole problem with your little theory. The Jewish idea of resurrection (anastasis) or an execution by crucifixion simply do not exist in the Inanna story and that blows your hypothesis out of the water that they are a “perfect skeleton.” The very themes you claim are connected are not part of the Inanna myth.

GE then makes a claim he doesn’t realize is meaningless and yet hilarious at the same time. He points out completely different Jewish works, like the Ascension of Isaiah, contains 7 heavens, just like the there are 7 gates to hell in the descent of Inanna.

So let me get this straight, because the descent of Inanna mentions seven gates to enter hell, and because some unrelated Jewish/later Christian texts mention seven heavens that means Inanna influenced the passion narrative of Jesus? In what realm of stupidity does this logic follow? The fact that some Jews/Christians believed in seven heavens doesn’t mean Gospel authors did, let alone that this idea came from a Sumerian idea of gates in the underworld. By his logic, the mentioning of seven seas in pirate literature must have been influenced by the descent of Inanna. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs must have been influenced by Inanna. Clearly, Snow White is the new Inanna, living in a dark forest (seen as a parallel to the underworld) with seven dwarfs, each representing a gate, just before the evil queen kills her and she is resurrected. See, I’ve found vague similarity. Surely that is enough to prove a connection or influence, right?

The reality is, Jesus didn’t traverse seven levels of anything in the Gospels, so how is this suppose to be evidence of his “perfect skeleton”? If you watch his video from 13:10 to 13:42 he rambles on about these 7 gates and then says, “It seems to fit.” Yet GE never actually says how these seven gates matchup in the gospels. How does this fit, GE? The Sadducees and Essenes were part of the same Jewish culture, yet clearly had different beliefs from each other and from the Christians. We have another non-sequitur from GE. He seems to have been wondering why I was laughing at his video when he shared my post of his video. This I can tell you is one of the main reasons. Especially since he rambles on about this for some time, not realizing he is not demonstrating how this is supposed to show influence on the Gospels.

After this GE says to me, “You seem to require an exact match for this to even make sense as a parallel.” To answer that, yes, that is correct. You don’t get to just find generalized patterns and claim influence without any evidence of influence. Again, scholars know the Roman pantheon was copied from the Greek pantheon because it is an exact match. We know the Hebrew Scriptures influenced the theology of the New Testament because the New Testament authors quote over three hundred times and directly tell us. We don’t think Socrates was copied from Confucius or that Ramses II was copied from Thutmose III because we can find some vague similarities. 

Ironically, we can’t even find adequate patterns between Jesus and Inanna. Let’s review how bad this connection is so far. Jesus was executed by crucifixion on a cross, whereas Inanna was killed by judges then her body was placed on a hook. No match. Inanna traversed seven gates, Jesus did not. No match. Jesus was stripped once for execution. Inanna lost a piece of jewelry at each gate she chose to go through. No match. Where is this “perfect skeleton” we keep being told exists? I can only assume it is in GE’s imagination.

Don’t worry, because right after this GE explains how we know Inanna was dead for three days and three nights. As I said in my video, the descent of Inanna never said she was dead for three days and three nights, and a careful reading of the beginning of the story shows it corresponds to her trip down to the underworld and before her death. Instead of GE realizing this or offering a proper way to translate the beginning of the story (different than what scholars provide) he doubles down on his misreading of the story and says when I pointed this out to him in my video it was “blatantly obtuse” and, “this story is told in a linear fashion. There is no reason to think it was told in parallel.”

As you would expect GE gives no evidence for this claim. We are just supposed to take his word for it. The text itself doesn’t say Inanna was dead for three days and three nights. It connects this time period to the tasks of Nincubura. I am not sure if GE even knows what this story says. Inanna specifically tells Nincubura to wait until she arrives in the underworld.

Let’s recap what it says. In lines 32-36 Inanna tells Nincubura, “On this day I will descend to the underworld. When I have arrived in the underworld, make a lament for me on the ruin mounds. Beat the drum for me in the sanctuary. Make the rounds of the houses of the gods for me” (1)

Okay, pretty clear statement. Nincubura is to wait until Inanna gets to the underworld to start her lamentations on her behalf. We then read of Inanna descent and then we get back to Nincubura and it says in lines, 173-175, “After three days and three nights had passed, her minister Nincubura (2 mss. add 2 lines: , her minister who speaks fair words, her escort who speaks trustworthy words,) carried out the instructions of her mistress (1 ms. has instead 2 lines: did not forget her orders, she did not neglect her instructions).” 

The story never connects “three days and three nights” to the death of Inanna. It is used in context with the tasks of Nincubura and the time period is of her waiting for Inanna to get to the underworld. There is no better way to say this, GE did not read what the actual source said and when I pointed this out he just ignored the problems with his theory and doubled down. Plus, it not just my word against his (in reality it is what the text says against his assertion), here is what an actual scholar has to say on Inanna:

“…it seems clear that Ninshubur’s delay is to allow sufficient time for Inanna to arrive within the nether world. The “three days (and) three nights” are intended to cover the time of travel to the chthonic depths.” (2)

Three days and three days refers to the length of the journey, which is actually a common theme in the ancient world. Now, I can already hear GE whining on how this is an appeal to authority as if it is a bad thing to refer to the experts. When GE just blatantly rejects what actual scholars have to say he is suggesting he is a better expert on the translations, and therefore he needs to explain why we should take his word over the word of actual historians. Anyone can read this story from start to finish and see the days correspond to the time it takes to get to the underworld, not the death of Inanna. The irony is GE has the audacity to say I am the one being disingenuous. He needs to just fess up and realize his mistake. Doubling down on this misreading of the text just makes him look like a poor researcher.

Finally, he gets the alleged resurrection connection. He says, “IP is requiring super-specific points in order to say, “oh, well this is a parallel.” But you see, the whole idea of a parallel is the fact that it is not super-specific points that perfectly match up.”

What, now? If we have no evidence of influence and if the points don’t match up you can’t claim they parallel. That should be obvious. If they don’t share the same theme, elements, or plot, you can’t claim influence. At best you are committing a hasty generalization, and mere association doesn’t show one influenced the other. You need evidence of a connection for that. What you find to be vague similarities doesn’t prove influence.

The fact is Inanna is not resurrected in the Jewish sense. If Jesus was (or at least this is what the Christians claimed) resurrected in the Jewish sense then it doesn’t parallel Inanna, because the Christians were drawing from a different culture and source material, namely the Hebrew Bible. Again, just because we see similarities between Socrates and Confucius does not mean one influenced the other. This is exactly why scholars do not see a connection between Inanna and Jesus, and as GE shows us, he never provides any evidence there was an influence. Hasty generalizations do not cut it.

GE then says, “The fact that she died and came back to life is resurrection.” Actually, it is not resurrection (anastasis) by what the Jews meant. To go through a resurrection (anastasis) you have to be human, die, and your mortal body has to come back to life immortal and glorified. People like Lazarus did not resurrect (anastasis), they simply resuscitated. The Jews and Christians had a very specific idea in mind and unless you can show they were getting this idea from Inanna you don’t have evidence. Just committing a hasty generalization doesn’t prove a connection. Resurrection (Anastasis) in the Jewish culture, does not just mean to bring something dead back to life. This is a case of a layman forcing his English definition onto a different culture’s meaning.

GE then contradicts himself from what he said at the beginning of his response. Early on, he rambled on about how he was only saying the passion story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is a “perfect skeleton” of Inanna. Then he admitted at 22:23 in his response video that Jesus is not depicted in the gospels as descending into hell as part of his passion story. But then he thinks (for some odd reason) that Jesus came back after his resurrection and revealed he went to hell. However, GE never gives a place where it says this in the New Testament. Jesus’ proclamation of victory over hell is actually not supposed to come in until after the ascension. So there is no clear evidence it is part of the passion story and therefore doesn’t fit his alleged, “perfect skeleton” for Jesus’ passion narrative.

Then the guy who has been whining the whole video about misrepresentation and being disingenuous says that I said Jesus’ descent into hell was a later invention of man, which I never said. So GE only proves here he is a total hypocrite about misrepresentation. He wonders why I was laughing so much at his video.

GE also claims there were several dying and rising gods as part of this motif, which is false. This is a fringe theory among Jesus Mythicists, but actual scholars do not take these claims seriously. If GE thinks they are wrong he has to show us why he a better authority than the experts, and he never does, he just assumes he is. He also tries to cite Osiris as a dying and rising deity, which only proves he has never studied ancient Egyptian mythology and what their word that we translate as “resurrection” actually meant to in their culture. See my series where we cover Osiris.

GE then says, “There is no evidence whatsoever to support the actual death of Jesus.” Except for the passage in Tacitus’ Annals, Josephus’ Antiquities, the passion narrative in Mark, and the letters of Paul, as well as a number of later sources, like Celsus. I’ll link to a great article by atheist and historian Tim O’Neill who debunked this nonsense. As Bart Ehrman has said, (paraphrasing) this nonsense that Jesus never existed might sound good to mythicists, but when you get out of that echo chamber no one is taking it seriously.

Let’s also remember the whole reason GE is doing this to somehow show Jesus never existed. What he doesn’t realize is it is a big waste of time on his part. Even if he could somehow show the Inanna cult influences the gospels it would not follow that Jesus never existed. New Testament scholars have speculated for years that the Gospels were written in a way to follow individuals and events from the Hebrew Bible. N.T. Wright argues Matthew is deliberately painting Jesus as a second Moses. Whereas, Luke is trying to make him look like another King David. Is this a problem for Christianity? Of course not, because ancient authors often looked to the past to see what was similar to the current events so they could draw connections. This doesn’t imply they simply made everything up.

Oral Tradition specialist, Albert Lord says, “Traditional narrators tend to tell what happened in terms of already existing patterns of story… When I say that an incident in the gospel narrative of Jesus’ life fits in a mythic pattern, there is no implication at all that this incident never happened. There is rather an implication that traditional narrators chose to remember and relate this incident because an incident of similar essence occurred in other traditional stories known to them and their predecessors. That its essence was consonant with an element in a traditional mythic (i.e., sacred) pattern adds a dimension of spiritual weight to the incident, but does not deny… the historicity of the incident.” (3)

Other ancient historians like Tacitus and Virgil also made use of this style, but never once have I heard a skeptic conclude that means they made things up. Dr. Rhiannon Ash says about Tacitus that he “…embeds such points in the very language which he uses,” and uses “linguistic echoes and structural similarities.” (4)

Jan Bremmer and Nicholas Horsfall note Virgil borrowed from Roman legends to paint current events of his day. (5)

Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh say, “To be able to quote the tradition from memory, to apply it in creative or appropriate ways . . . not only brings honor to the speaker but lends authority to his words as well . . . Luke 1:68-79 is an example. It is stitched together from phrases of Psalms 41, 111, 132, 105, 106, and Micah 7… The ability to create ouch a mosaic implied extensive, detailed knowledge of the tradition and brought great honor to the speaker able to pull it off.” (6)

So even if GE could prove beyond a shadow of doubt the Gospels authors were influenced by pagan cults that would not even prove his main point, that Jesus never existed. It would only show they connected events in Jesus’ life to something in pagan literature.  His whole argument would at best show the story borrowed elements from paganism, not that it was entirely made up.

But as we have seen GE cannot even give an ounce of evidence there are any good connections demonstrating influence. He thinks the acknowledgment in Ezekiel about the existence of an Inanna cult somehow translates to evidence it influenced the gospels. He erroneously claimed “any hanging up, or suspended in air, in any kind of way would have by deemed crucifixion,” and he doesn’t give any sources to show this. He doesn’t demonstrate how Jesus traveled seven layers of anything in the Gospels, like Inanna. He doesn’t demonstrate how the Jewish idea of resurrection (anastasis) related to a fertility goddess coming back to life, he doubled down on his misreading of the Descent of Inanna on the use of “three days and three nights.” He did not show how Jesus descending into hell was part of the passion story. His argument is laughable, which is why I was happy to share his video. I hope he keeps it up so I can refer people to it when I need to show them how bad Jesus mythicists are at history.

 

Sources:

  1. http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section1/tr141.htm
  2. George M. Landes, The “Three Days and Three Nights” Motif in Jonah 2:1, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 86, No. 4 (Dec., 1967), pp. 446-450  Page 449
  3. B. Lord, “The Gospels as Oral Traditional Literature,” in The Relationship among the Gospels: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, Page 39.
  4. Rhiannon Ash, “Tacitus,” Pages 85, 87.
  5. Bremmer, Jan. Horsfall, Nicholas. Roman Myth and Mythology. University of London, 1987, 99-100
  6. Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, “Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels,” Pages 293-294

Sources for video, “Was Life Inevitable?”

Sources for video: https://youtu.be/_H0yoBiBM5s

Fitness of the Cosmos For Life – Simon Conway Morris, John Barrow, Stephen Freeland, Charles Harper

Deep Structure of Biology – Simon Conway Morris

The Origin at 150: is a new evolutionary synthesis in sight: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19836100

No Turning Back: The Nonequilibrium Statistical Thermodynamics of becoming (and remaining) Life-Like

Spontaneous fine-tuning to environment in many-species chemical reaction networks: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/29/7565

Self-Organized Resonance during Search of a Diverse Chemical Space: https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.038001

Statistical Physics of Self-Replication: https://arxiv.org/abs/1209.1179

Quanta Magazine – A New Physics Theory of Life: https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-new-thermodynamics-theory-of-the-origin-of-life-20140122/

Evolution was chemically constrained: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12468283

Universality in intermediary metabolism: http://www.pnas.org/content/101/36/13168.full

Self-Propelled Oil Droplets Consuming “Fuel” Surfactant: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ja806689p

Martin Hanczyc: The line between life and not-life:

A Production of Amino Acids Under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/117/3046/528

Origin of organic compounds on the primitive earth and in meteorites: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01796123

Evidence for Extraterrestrial Amino-acids and Hydrocarbons in the Murchison Meteorite: https://idp.nature.com/authorize?response_type=cookie&client_id=grover&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nature.com%2Farticles%2F228923a0

Racemic amino acids from the ultraviolet photolysis of interstellar ice analogues: https://www.nature.com/articles/416401a

A ‘periodic table’ for protein structures: https://www.nature.com/articles/416657a

A new approach to protein fold recognition: https://www.nature.com/articles/358086a0

Introduction to Protein Structure – Carl Branden, John Tooze

The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the Pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022519302931280

Similarities of protein topologies: Evolutionary divergence, functional convergence or principles of folding: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/16185934_Similarities_of_protein_topologies_Evolutionary_divergence_functional_convergence_or_principles_of_folding

Convergent evolution in structural elements of proteins investigated using cross profile analysis: https://bmcbioinformatics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2105-13-11

Convergent evolution of similar enzymatic function on different protein folds: the hexokinase, ribokinase, and galactokinase families of sugar kinases: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8382990

Protein folding is a convergent problem!: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X1631806X

Colloquium: Geometrical approach to protein folding: a tube picture: https://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/RevModPhys.75.23

A protein taxonomy based on secondary structure: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10404226

Exploring the folding landscape of a structured RNA: http://www.pnas.org/content/99/1/155.full

Synthesis of activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides in prebiotically plausible conditions: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature08013

Wired – LIFE’S FIRST SPARK RE-CREATED IN THE LABORATORY: https://www.wired.com/2009/05/ribonucleotides/

Synthesis of long prebiotic oligomers on mineral surfaces: https://www.nature.com/articles/381059a0

Catalysts for the self-polymerization of adenosine cyclic 2′,3′-phosphate: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01654098

Self-assembling Behavior of Designer Lipid-like Peptides: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10615800600658586

Dynamic Behaviors of Lipid-Like Self-Assembling Peptide A6D and A6K Nanotubes: http://web.mit.edu/lms/www/PDFpapers/ps/Nagai,%20A.%20et%20al,%20JNN,%202007.pdf

Self-replicating micelles: aqueous micelles and enzymatically driven reactions in reverse micelles: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja00022a002?journalCode=jacsat

The concept of self-organization in cellular architecture: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2198832/

No evidence for a genetic blueprint: The case of the “complex” mammalian photoreceptor: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26044481

Morphogenetic Properties of Microtubules and Mitotic Spindle Assembly: https://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(00)81285-4.pdf

Self-organizing optic-cup morphogenesis in three-dimensional culture: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature09941

Before programs: the physical origination of multicellular forms: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16479496

The Origin of Form Was Abrupt Not Gradual: https://archive.archaeology.org/online/interviews/newman.html

Dynamical patterning modules: physico-genetic determinants of morphological development and evolution: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1478-3975/5/1/015008/pdf

Form and function remixed: developmental physiology in the evolution of vertebrate body plans: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24817211

To shape a cell: an inquiry into the causes of morphogenesis of microorganisms: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2128368

The Structure of Evolutionary Theory – Stephen Jay Gould

Hoyle on evolution, Nature, Vol. 294, No. 5837 (November 12, 1981), p. 105

How we are shaped: the biomechanics of gastrulation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12694202

Principles that Govern the Folding of Protein Chains: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/181/4096/223

Shapes: Nature’s Patterns: A Tapestry in Three Parts – Phil Ball

The Shape of Life: Genes, Development, and the Evolution of Animal Form –  Rudolf Raff

Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body – Neil Shubin

Hox Genes Regulate Digit Patterning by Controlling the Wavelength of a Turing-Type Mechanism: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4486416/

A molecular mechanism for the origin of a key evolutionary innovation, the bird beak and palate, revealed by an integrative approach to major transitions in vertebrate history: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25964090

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo – Sean B. Carroll

Mechanisms of Limb Patterning in Crustaceans: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282690221_Mechanisms_of_Limb_Patterning_in_Crustaceans

Leg development in flies versus grasshoppers: differences in dpp expression do not lead to differences in the expression of downstream components of the leg patterning pathway: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10725238

A double segment periodicity underlies segment generation in centipede development: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15268854

A conserved mode of head segmentation in arthropods revealed by the expression pattern of Hox genes in a spider: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9724761

Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis – Michael Denton

Biology of Amphibians – William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb

Increasing morphological complexity in multiple parallel lineages of the Crustacea: http://www.pnas.org/content/105/12/4786.full

Convergent evolution of aposematic coloration in Neotropical poison frogs: a molecular phylogenetic perspective: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1439609204700707

Evidence for convergent evolution in the antimicrobial peptide system in anuran amphibians: https://www.academia.edu/22259273/Evidence_for_convergent_evolution_in_the_antimicrobial_peptide_system_in_anuran_amphibians

Convergent Evolution: Pick Your Poison Carefully: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(09)02153-8

Gradual Adaptation Toward a Range-Expansion Phenotype Initiated the Global Radiation of Toads: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/327/5966/679

‘Toadness’ a Key Feature for Global Spread of These Amphibians: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/327/5966/633.1

Phylogeny of the avian genus Pitohui and the evolution of toxicity in birds: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1055790308004703

Poivre, C., 1976. Observations on the biology, behavior and the phenomenon of convergence among Mantispides(Planipennes). Entomologiste, 32(1): 2-19.

Deja vu: the evolution of feeding morphologies in the Carnivora: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21672827

Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution – John Gittleman

Do convergent ecomorphs evolve through convergent morphological pathways: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1666/10007.1

Morphological convergence of the prey-killing arsenal of sabertooth predator: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1666/10036.1

Iterative evolution of hypercarnivory in canids (Mammalia: Carnivora): Evolutionary interactions among sympatric predator: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279713882_Iterative_evolution_of_hypercarnivory_in_canids_Mammalia_Carnivora_Evolutionary_interactions_among_sympatric_predators

The Cheetah: Native American: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1979Sci…205.1155A

Osteolepiforms and the ancestry of tetrapods: https://www.nature.com/articles/27421

Comparative genomics reveals convergent evolution between the bamboo-eating giant and red pandas: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/5/1081.abstract

Convergent evolution of the genomes of marine mammals: https://www.nature.com/articles/ng.3198

Convergent evolution of bilaterian nerve cords: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25030

Genome-wide signatures of convergent evolution in echolocating mammals: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature12511

Life’s Solutions – Simon Conway Morris

The Runes of Evolution – Simon Conway Morris

Darwin’s aliens: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-astrobiology/article/darwins-aliens/89B3E0F2165EB8D63A7C5EAA7D9702D3

Aliens may be more like us than we think: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2017-10-31-aliens-may-be-more-us-we-think

Evolution of the human brain: when bigger is better: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3973910/

What We Still Don’t Know: “Are We Real?”

A Response to an Inane Video and his Hunt for the Physicalist Aether

Response to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pCn_w377Qo

When I heard I had a response from a guy calling himself Inane I thought it had to be a joke. But lo and behold he was seriously attempting to refute my series on the case for the soul. Considering the series has been up for quite some time and I’ve dealt with numerous objections in the comment section already, I suspected his response would be much of the same, reveal how little he has read on this topic, assuming his conclusion (physicalism), and show a total lack of understanding of idealism. I turned out to be right, as with every physicalist response I get to this series. So let’s dive in to hear what Inane D has to say.

He begins by saying at 1:23, “What I am arguing and will defend here is Inspiring Philosophy fails to make his case.” Now, first of all, why does this guy have to over-annunciate everything he says? How can anyone listen to this? Inane D, seriously man, just talk like a normal person, but I digress.

I highlighted this claim on purpose because it implies something very important. What he does throughout the video is assume physicalism is already true and therefore no evidence can lead to idealism because he already knows physicalism is true so all the evidence I present cannot possibly mean idealism is more probably true for reality. He basically assumes his conclusion and argues in a circle, which is why he is only arguing I fail to make my case and does not offer positive evidence for physicalism. It is common for many materialists, atheists, physicalists (people who tend to believe these or related ideas) to just assume their worldview is the default and when a theist or an idealist tries to offer evidence of an alternative worldview they simply say “you’ve not made your case.” What that shows is they assume their conclusion, and then attempt to explain the data away by any means necessary, and reveal how circular their argument is. In reality, agnosticism is a default position and we offer theories to explain the data we have available, then debate on which theory is the most parsimonious and plausible (given our current data). Inane D doesn’t want to do that. Instead, he spends his time just assuming physicalism is already true.
At 2:44 Inane D says, “Am I alone in seeing how dishonest claiming that neurons are essentially the same as liver cells.” He also accused me of claiming this without a source. The ironic thing is if he would have actually looked at all my sources, he would see this very statement came from the opening pages of Jeffery Schwartz’s book, “The Mind and the Brain.” All he had to was read the first page of the first chapter. Allow me to quote Schwartz directly:

“Of all the thousands of pages and millions of words devoted to the puzzle of the mind and the brain, to the mystery of how something as sublime and insubstantial as thought or consciousness can merge from thee pounds of gelatinous pudding inside the full, my favorite statement of the problem is not that of one of the great philosophers of history, but of a science fiction writer. In a short story first published in the science and sci-fi magazine Omni in 1991, the Hugo-winning author Terry Bisson gets right to the heart of the utter absurdity of the situation: that an organ made from basically the same material ingredients (nucleated, carbon-based, mitochondria-filled cells) as, say, a kidney, is able to generate this ineffable thing called a mind.” (1)

As you see the opening of my video is a paraphrase of Schwartz’s opening lines from chapter 1. I was literally parroting what an actual neuroscience said. The point myself and Schwartz were making is the brain is built of the same material as your other organs, yet according to physicalists, it is able to magically generate consciousness.

One of my favorite line from Inane D comes right after this, “When you open your argument with such a misrepresentation of anatomy it really begs the question of how well you have thought this out and whether or not you are a lying SOB.” Despite the fact he committed the modern error of misusing the phrase “begs the question,” the irony of this statement is astounding considering he did not check my sources. On a side note, he clearly is following the dogmatic tendencies of other new atheists. Researcher Jonathan Haidt points this out. Watch this video and then listen to Inane D talk and you can clearly see the dogmatic tendencies associated with Harris and Dawkins:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8so_FSpJ17I&feature=youtu.be

Again, back on point, the issue is how can matter produce an entire subjective conscious experience when organized as a brain. There is no evidence matter (in the form of brains) is able to do this, and Inane D has to admit this, because after going on about how could I open my video by stating the hard problem of consciousness, he says right after this, “Now, I agree. We don’t know precisely how consciousness arises from the brain. We don’t know if it does.”

Yeah, Inane D, that was precisely my point, but because I stated the same idea (that he just admitted to) in my own words (paraphrasing Dr. Schwartz ) I am either ignorant or a lying SOB. Haidt’s psychological analysis is really ringing true here.

At 3:20, Inane D says, “What we do know is we have a lot to learn about the human brain and consciousness works. So I prefer not to stotafy the amazing research being done in this field of neuroscience by abandoning investigation in favor going, “we have souls.”

First, I am not sure what word he used. I think I heard ‘stotafy,’ so I am not sure what he was trying to say. But here we presuppositional argument in full bloom: Physicalism must be true, so all research must confirm physicalism, otherwise it must be wrong or currently incomplete. First, who said we are abandoning research and further investigation? I advocate that, and what I have found is it seems the more evidence that comes out leads to an idealist picture of reality, as the evidence from neuroscience in my series shows. Inane D seems to suggest unless the research leads to a physicalist’s conclusion it must not be science. What if the data does lead to the existence of an immaterial mind? Then is it not amazing research at that point? Again, as we see through his video, all he does is assume his conclusion, namely physicalism, so the evidence has to confirm physicalism and if it does not it is not real evidence.

Second, you’ll see one of the things he does is if evidence (like what I go over in my series) does lead to an idealistic picture of the mind that just means it’s a gap in our understanding and future humans will provide us with a physicalist explanation. This is nothing more than arguing for a ‘future human of the gaps.’ How does he know people in the future will not simply give us more evidence for idealism, instead of confirming physicalism? Well, again, because Inane D just assumes physicalism is true, so all the evidence has to infer physicalism and if it does not, that is because future humans will do it for us.

This is pretty clear because after this he says that I am arguing “science fails and we need to assert souls.” Here we see a typical physicalist equating science with physicalism. That is not how it works, kid. I’m not arguing science fails and therefore souls. I’m clearly arguing scientific data leads to an idealistic picture of reality. It is the height of irrationality to equate your metaphysical views with science. It is quite Inane.

In the next section, he tries to take apart Wilder Penfield’s research and is quite funny what he does here. First, he gives two citations for this section of his video, one is Penfield’s book (which we will show he did not read) and a short PBS biography on Penfield. Neither of these sources back up the claims he is about to make.  I am also highly skeptical that he even bothered to read Penfield’s book.

At 5:00 he says, “Dr. Penfield was relating his opinion and his conclusions based on what was known from his active work during the 1940s and the 1950s.”

Now what you expect to follow from a statement like this would be a paper showing how a later neuroscientist reversed some of Penfield’s conclusions or how someone did show you could stimulate the will through the brain, but Inane D does not. He basically implies, ‘Penfield’s work is old therefore we should be skeptical.’ That doesn’t show us Penfield’s conclusions, based on his research, were incorrect. No one has overturned his point that you cannot stimulate the will through electrical stimulation on the brain. The fact that this was from the 1940s and 1950s doesn’t somehow refute his point unless of course Inane D can provide more up-to-date research to overturn this and he does not.

I wonder if he applies this logic elsewhere? Should we doubt special relativity since Einstein proposed it over 100 years ago? Erwin Schrödinger proposed the Shrödinger almost 100 years ago, should we doubt these theories because they are old? Of course not, because later research has only confirmed this early research. Likewise, nothing has been demonstrated to overturn Penfield’s conclusions (even looking at the region of the brain called the Diencephalon), which is probably why Inane D cannot cite any papers to refute Penfield’s inference. He just seems to say, “well this stuff is old, so it cannot be trusted.” Well if that is true back it up with some more recent data.

Next Inane D says “[Penfield’s] conclusions were based on personal incredulity.” And he says this clearly is seen on page 79. I thought it was odd that Inane D didn’t just read us what page 79 says. Well luckily, I own Penfield’s book and could easily look for myself to see what utter nonsense this is. Not only that, I can provide a screenshot of what page 79 says:

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 11.07.51 AM

As you can see Penfield never says he is arguing from incredulity or his opinion. What he seems to say is he is proposing a hypothesis based on his data, not asserting his opinion without data to back it up. An argument from incredulity would be saying he can’t imagine it any other way, therefore, it must be true the mind exists and is not a product of the brain. In reality, Penfield is drawing this hypothesis (substance dualism) based on his own data. As he says earlier, “As I visualize it, a reasonable, explanatory hypothesis can be constructed as follows: because I had asked the patient to do so, he turned his attention to the naming of cards, programming the brain to that end through the highest brain-mechanism. I can say only that the decision came from his mind. Neuronal action began in the highest brain-mechanism. Here is the meeting of mind and brain. The psychico-physical frontier is here. The frontier is being crossed from mind to brain. The frontier is also being crossed from brain to mind since the mind is conscious of the meaning of the neuronal succession that determines the content of the stream of consciousness. The neuronal action is automatic as it is in any computer. In conformity with the mind’s decision, the highest.” (2)

Penfield has not asserted his hypothesis from own incredulity but from his research and logical arguments. It is an inference from his data. Calling his hypothesis an argument from incredulity is a quote mine, or worse yet, it shows you did not read what he said in context. Ironically, Inane D says I quote-mined Penfield, while at the same time not showing how any quotes from his book on how I did this. It amazes me he doesn’t want to provide any quotes from Penfield’s book to demonstrate the quote mine. I wonder why that is?

Inane D says this cannot be used to support the existence of the immaterial mind or soul. However, he completely ignored the main point. Obviously, we do ‘will’ things to happen in our conscious experience, yet there has never been any data to show you can do this to an individual through physical stimulation. If the will is an emergent product of the brain, then we ought to be able to force the will through physical stimulation, yet we cannot and no experiment has ever shown this to be possible. Yet, we know we do ‘will’ things to happen in our conscious experience. We cannot deny this. So if it is not in the brain, then (as Penfield inferred) it existed in the immaterial mind and is beyond the physical. In other words, if we know something exists (our wills) and there is no evidence this is physically in the brain, then the most likely explanation is it is immaterial, as Penfield inferred, “For my own part, after years of striving to explain the mind on the basis of brain-action alone, I have come to the conclusion that it is simpler (and far easier to be logical) if one adopts the hypothesis that our being does consist of two fundamental elements.” (3)

Now, even I disagree with his inference to dualism, as I am a monistic idealist, but I do agree with him if the will cannot be found in the brain then there is no reason to suggest it is physical. Inane D’s only arguments seem to be to say his work is old, call him prejudice, and say Penfield only suggested his opinion (which we have shown was not the case). I suspect he did not read the book, as he did not read Schwartz’s book. As it is, unless someone can show the will can be physically controlled in the brain there is no evidence to suggest it is physical, and thus, the best explanation is it is not physical or emergent from the brain.

He then goes on to argue his philosophical presupposition at 6:50 when he says, “…consciousness should ultimately have a simplistic, local origin. Inspiring Philosophy is looking a for a tree we could call the seed of consciousness while ignoring the possibility we might need to be looking for a forest.”

I really don’t know what say about this statement. He clearly doesn’t understand idealism. First off, no, I am not looking for a seed of consciousness. I believe consciousness is fundamental and everything happens in consciousness. As even Sam Harris has said one of the things we cannot deny is that we are conscious. I am not looking for a seed, I’m pointing out we are in the forest, itself.

Second, why should consciousness have a simplistic, local origin? Again, I’m not a substance dualist. I am not positing consciousness is in another realm or far from our understanding. I don’t think he understands idealism so he created a straw man version of it, where he seems to think we believe consciousness is a mysterious substance far away. This is wrong on so many levels. Again, idealists argue consciousness is fundamental. We are not looking for a seed of consciousness because we don’t think such a concept would exist, as that assumes physicalism and consciousness would need to be emergent from some other thing. If you are going to attack idealism, at least understand what we are claiming, because if you don’t you will look rather foolish.

Next, we finally get to the first study he decides to cite and we already 7 minutes in. Inane D says this study shows general anesthetics induces unconsciousness and shows changes in brain activity. First, what on earth is talking about? We have known for decades you can induce unconsciousness using general anesthetics. That doesn’t show the brain creates consciousness and even substance dualists recognize this fact. Of course, you can induce unconsciousness using physical means. You can hit me over the head with a baseball bat and if I don’t die I’ll probably be unconscious for several hours. This is not a challenge to idealism and we have known about this for centuries. I addressed these types of arguments at the end of my video, and basically pointed out the physical universe is mental information that obviously can alter and change our conscious experience. As for inducing unconsciousness, I’ll quote Bernardo Kastrup on this:

“Let us consider this more carefully. Imagine that you wake up in the morning after hours of deep sleep. You may remember nothing of what happened during those preceding hours, concluding that you were unconscious all night. Then, later in the day, you suddenly remember that you actually had a very intense dream. So you were not unconscious all night, you simply could not remember your experiences. Indeed, all we can assert with confidence upon coming round from episodes of seeming unconsciousness is that we cannot remember phenomenality occurring during those episodes. The actual absence of phenomenality is impossible to assert with confidence. As a matter of fact, many things we have traditionally associated with unconsciousness are now known to entail intense experiences. For instance, fainting caused by e.g. asphyxiation, strangulation or hyperventilation is known to correlate with euphoria, insights and visions (Neal 2008: 310–315, Rhinewine and Williams 2007, Retz 2007). G-force-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC) is also known to correlate with “memorable dreams” (Whinnery and Whinnery 1990). There is even evidence for “implicit perception” during general anesthesia (Kihlstrom and Cork 2007).  Sleep, of course, is known to correlate with dreams. But even during phases of sleep wherein electroencephalogram readings show no dream-related neural activity, there are other types of activity that may correlate with non-recallable phenomenality distinct from dreams. Indeed, this is precisely what a recent study points out: “there are good empirical and theoretical reasons for saying that a range of different types of sleep experience, some of which are distinct from dreaming, can occur in all stages of sleep” (Windt, Nielsen, and Thompson 2016: 871, emphasis added). The authors identify three different categories of sleep experiences distinct from dreams: (a) non-immersive imagery and sleep thinking, (b) perceptions and bodily sensations, and (c) “selfless” states and contentless sleep experiences that may be similar to those reported by experienced meditators. As such, what the empirical data shows is that episodes of seem- ing unconsciousness are associated with an impairment of memory formation or access, but not necessarily with absence of phenomenality. As a matter of fact, there are strong indications, as mentioned above, that the opposite is true. (4)”

Full paper here so you can check sources.

Nothing in the study Inane D cited shows how physical activity can create consciousness. So once again, if you are going to attack idealism take a few minutes to study what our claims are. Don’t just build a straw man, and inadvertently reveal how little research you did.

For the rest of the video Inane D attempt to attack this paper I citedThis paper shows there is place in the brain that gives rise to united perceptions, like what we experience. However, his response can be described metaphorically, as thinking, he has scored a touchdown but hasn’t realized he ran into the wrong end zone. Inane D starts off by saying at 8:25, “And again, you make this about the ignorance we currently have about the brain, or at a minimum, the ignorance you have about what science can tell us about the brain. The answer is we aren’t sure.”

Okay, this is quite a hysterical and contradictory response. So here I am in my original video, citing a paper on the neural binding problem and Inane D responds by claiming I am ignorant about science then goes on to agree with me we cannot explain how the brain could create unified perceptions in conscious experience. He admits we aren’t sure how this could be explained, which is precisely my point. Again, I go right back to Jonathan Haidt’s psychological assessment of New Atheists, like Inane D. He is following along with the dogmatic pattern quite well.

He goes on to recommend some books that explore possible answers (that pre-date the paper I cited). Now, I never denied there are possible answers physicalists have come up with on how to explain united perceptions. They have all ultimately failed to find any neuroscientific evidence to support them, as even Inane D just admitted when he said, “The answer is we aren’t sure.”

Next, he then suggests, “… that the most likely answer is that there isn’t a single place in the brain that produces a comprehensive field of vision. It’s far more likely to be a distributed process. That doesn’t rely on some location within the brain. So asking the question, “where in the brain…” is to miss the point!”

Ironically, he seems to have missed the point. Whether it is a region or the entire brain no evidence has shown how the brain creates unified perceptions. As Jerome Feldman even admits in his conclusion, “Similarly, general coordination across areas is a necessary condition for a unified subjective experience, but says nothing about the hard qualia problem.” So again, there is no evidence with all our current data the brain can explain unified perceptions. The fact that some physicalists have proposed some solutions doesn’t mean they are sound in their attempts. You need to do a little more than note there have been possibilities proposed. Possibilities are not probabilities.

He goes on for several minutes about this and seems to have missed the point, yet again. He agrees there is no specific place in the brain that unites perceptions, which is good but keeps harping on about the hypotheses that perhaps total brain function unites perceptions. Well, again, that hardly challenges the issue. If the whole brain has been mapped and we cannot find something in the brain (or the brain as a whole) that unites perceptions it is likely not the brain that is doing this.

Let’s explain with an analogy: imagine you and I see a white rabbit go around a corner. We chase after it and see a field and a house with an open door. We enter the house to search for the rabbit. We tear the house apart looking for it, we move around all the furniture, check every closet and drawer, we spend several hours searching for this rabbit. How long before we determine the most probable explanation is the rabbit is not in the house and probably ran into the field? Sure, we cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that the rabbit has not simply found an excellent hiding spot in the house, but given we have searched every square inch of the house several times over it is most likely not there.

Likewise, given we have scanned and searched the brain for how perceptions are unified it is likely the answer will not be found in the brain. Yet we cannot deny we experience united perceptions in our conscious experience, so it is likely this is happening in consciousness and it is not a creation of the brain.

Inane D telling us there really are unified perceptions in the brain is like when a proponent of A theory of time tell us the aether is really there. We have looked for aether in space, we have performed several experiments in an attempt to find it. We cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt it does not exist, but given how intensely we have searched for it, it likely does not exist. Likewise, given how extensive we have looked into the brain it is likely the brain cannot be the cause of unified perceptions. Inane D is really saying, “Trust me, it’s there, we will find it one day,” which is about as convincing as when William Lane Craig tells us the aether really is there, even though every attempt to find it has failed. Inane D is looking for is own aether to rescue physicalism.

Inane D then commits a genetic fallacy at about 12:00 where he attacks the Templeton Foundation, even after he just admitted that Feldman’s work should be taken seriously. He seems to contradict himself a lot. Should we take Feldman’s paper seriously, or can we not trust it because of his genetic fallacy? Am I ignorant for noting no neuroscientist has found evidence of the brain unifying perceptions or does he agree, as he said early, “the answer is we aren’t sure”? I am not sure what he is arguing, but he seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Next, he thinks he has found a ‘gotcha’ moment but actually revealed how little research he did. I had quote in my original video from the Feldman paper, “There is now overwhelming biological and behavioral evidence that the brain contains no stable, high-resolution, full field representation of a visual scene, even though that is what we subjectively experience (Martinez-Conde et al., 2008).” (5)

Inane D thought he found something clever and focused in on the “Martinez-Conde et al., 2008” citation from the quote. He found the link to it and displayed it on-screen at 13:54 and said, “It’s a fucking single page, a full three paragraphs. Well, should make for easy reading, odd! It’s not even talking about what the brain does or does not possess.”

Feldman was not citing the one page he pulled up. That one-page Inane D pulled up was essentially the abstract for the entire journal from October 2008. Feldman was citing the entire special issue of the journal, which was on the perceptions and the visual world. This single page is just the abstract for the entire issue, and it even implies so, as it says, “This special issue of Journal of Vision offers a broad compilation of recent discoveries concerning the perceptual consequences of eye movements in vision, as well as the mechanisms responsible for producing stable perception from unstable oculomotor behavior.” (6)

This single page is clearly an introduction to the entire month’s issue in the Journal of Vision. I really am confused on how Inane D missed this, because he says right after this, “In fact, the article is nothing more than the introduction to a special issue of the journal. It’s not a research paper!”

Yeah kid, exactly! Feldman was citing the whole journal, not just page. Why didn’t you realize that?

Next, he contradicts himself, yet again. He says, “I checked the other papers published in that same special issue. It’s not likely Feldman meant to reference one of them or even the issue as a whole because they don’t make the case that he would need them to do either.”  So he seems to be suggested the special issue doesn’t talk about issues related to neural binding problems, but then he follows this line up by saying, “If anything, several of them do the opposite, offering testable hypotheses, or explanations of part of how we can create a stable representation of our vision as is often the case in this young field of research. The ultimate answer is, “we don’t know yet, but here is a path towards learning.”

Okay, so at first Inane D says, the special issue doesn’t make the case Feldman claims, but then he admits the special issue does deal with this topic and offers hypotheses on the issue. Then he admits the special issue doesn’t have an answer to the neural binding problem. So then, in reality, the special issue does acknowledge the issues related to the neural binding problem and does imply there has not been an answer on how this can be solved in a physicalist framework. So why is Feldman incorrect, exactly? Didn’t Inane D have to acknowledge the special issue does deal with the issues of the neural bindings problem and does not provide an answer to the issues surrounding it? I don’t think he realizes how much his own words betray him.

Next, Inane D reverts right back to the claim that the neural binding problem has not been solved but we will one day and when we do it will definitely confirm physicalism. After all, he did just say, “the ultimate answer is, “we don’t know yet, but here is a path towards learning.” Again, Inane D is assuming his conclusion. In reality, we do not assume there is an answer for this unless we have the data with us. We don’t assume it will just be there in the future. What if more evidence for idealism comes out? Will Inane D just say they will be explained away in the future until the day he dies, constantly assuming physicalism? That’s not how it works. We have to work with the data we have now, and just like all experimental evidence reveals, the best explanation is there is no aether (based on our current data) the most probable explanation is the brain alone cannot solve the neural binding problem. Inane D acknowledges there is no data that can support this physicalist’s notion, yet he also reveals he is committed to it, in light of the evidence.

Here are the links to the journal and you see for yourself.

Next, at 15:33 he notes the next citation Feldman offers is to a book he referenced earlier and I fail to see how this changes anything. The book, “The Primate Visual System” also does not offer an explanation on how to deal with the neural binding problem within a physicalist paradigm. No doubt the researchers throughout the book speculate on possible explanations, but once again, possibility is not probability. I fail to see what his point is here. Feldman is actually using their words against them, sort of like how Georges Lemaître once used Albert Einstein’s own work against him to show that space-time did have an absolute beginning. Kaas and Collins (Inane D even acknowledged this earlier in the video) note there is no current explanation for how the brain unifies perceptions, even though it has been completed mapped. Sure, I acknowledge (as does Feldman) that perhaps in the future this could change, However, we could also find out in the future the planet Nibiru really does exist, Atlantis really was an ancient city, the aether is real, and Elvis just went back to his home planet. Anything is possible, but it is not probable. And Feldman’s point is given the data he cites there is no evidence to suggest the brain alone can solve the neural binding problem (despite the speculation of some researchers).

But Inane D keeps going because he thinks he scored a touchdown. He tries to quote from the book, “The Primate Visual System” to debunk Feldman when he says in his paper, “The structure of the primate visual system has been mapped in detail (Kaas and Collins, 2003) and there is no area that could encode this detailed information.”

First, he quotes from page 153 and Inane says the page states, “But this understanding is of only the broad outline of the system… a continuation of studies focused on identifying visuals areas and resolving discrepancies and differences is proposals is greatly needed.”

What he does not tell you is the full context, so let me write it out for you “But this understanding is of only the broad outline of the system. What is disappointing is that we do not know exactly how visual cortex is divided into functionally unique areas or processing stations, and thus we cannot know the connections, the properties of neurons within areas, or the histochemical characteristics of the areas. Without knowing the extents of areas for certain, the results from all such studies are likely contaminated by mixtures of results from more than one area, and descriptions of projections from one to another area are confounded by uncertainties about boundaries of areas and the validity of proposed areas. For now, we can be fairly certain about the existence and extents of the visual areas, V1,V2, and MT. At least eight or more visual areas (V3, DM, MST, FSTd, FSTv, DLr, Dlc, and MTc) appear ready to join this list, but a continuation of studies focused on identifying visuals areas and resolving discrepancies and differences is proposals is greatly needed.” (7)

Okay, so once we see the full context of the quote we can see how quote mining is happening on  Inane D’s part. First, it does say, “we can be fairly certain about the existence and extents of the visual areas…” So Feldman is correct, they have mapped out the visual areas of the brain. Interesting how Inane D skipped over that line. Second, if read the full quote in context we can see it says the visual cortex has been mapped, but we have not understood fully how the “visual cortex is divided into functionally unique areas or processing stations.” They are pointing out we do not fully understand the areas we have identified, but we have a broad understanding of what is going on and there is no neural binding area or process. Finally, the last one is about resolving discrepancies and differences in what has already been mapped and indentured. Again, they literally admit, right in between the two lines Inane D quote mined that, “we can be fairly certain about the existence and extents of the visual areas…”

See, Inane D has accused me a lot throughout his video of quote mining. In reality, quote mining cannot be asserted it has to be demonstrated as I have just done. That is how it works.

Next Inane D says that page 387 says, “We haven’t fully mapped or understood visual feedback connections.” There is just one tiny problem with this. This quote doesn’t exist. I am not sure where he pulled this from, but it is definitely not on page 387. I’ll even screen capture what the page says:

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 6.43.01 PM.png

Ironically, page 387 does say, “The general organization of the corticocortical connections was mapped by extensive tract tracing studies especially during the last this of the 20th century.”  The author then notes this is the first step but does not suggest there are other visual areas to identify, but instead the focus now is on how these different areas interact and the outcomes that result from them but does not suggest a physical answer has been found to the neural binding problem. (8)

I am very curious where he got this quote from because it is definitely not on page 387. Maybe he stated the wrong page number. But we need to see where it came from so we can check the context, because based on his track record so far, I doubt he got it right there as well.

Ironically, he then says I failed to do proper research. I’ll let this reply speak for itself on that one. Inane D seems to only rely on mockery and insults as he admits. Now Inane D, I have a serious question for you. What do you hope to accomplish with such obvious mockery? To make yourself look smart or mature? Is it to help me understand the error of my ways? Or is just stroke your own ego and talk down to me? This video comes across as nothing more than a sad attempt at cyber bullying. If you really wanted to give me the benefit of the doubt (as you say you do at the end of your video) then I would suspect a bit more respect, not the childish attitude. Also, you accused me of quote mining and lying, yet lo and behold based on my sources and screen captures you seem to be then quote mining. However, I am not going to stoop so low as to accuse you of lying. I am actually willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and suggest you are simply mistaken on certain things, did not do enough research, and simply failed to understand the claims of idealism. Unfortunately for you, Haidt’s psychology rings true once more with the accusation of lying.

The rest of the video is nothing more than insults, accusations, and genetic fallacies against Feldman and Penfield. All of which are clear markers of a mature and intellectual giant, someone who doesn’t let his emotions get the best of him, but someone who clearly just wants to help correct scientific errors, but I digress. If Inane D goes forward and publishes more response videos to my series I’ll have to seriously consider if it will be worth it. Based on his attempt in this video I suspect it will be more quote mining, circular reasoning, and misunderstanding sources. I may respond again just for the fun of it, but we shall see.

 

Notes:

(1) Jeffery Schwartz and Sharon Begley (2002), The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, Page 21; New York: HarperCollins Publishers

(2) Wilder Penfield (1978), Mystery of the Mind, A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain, Page 53; Princeton: Princeton University Press

(3) Wilder Penfield (1978), Mystery of the Mind, A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain, Page 80; Princeton: Princeton University Press

(4) Bernardo Kastrup (2017), On the Plausibility of Idealism: Refuting Criticisms, BIBLID [0873-626X (2017) 44; pp. 13–34]

(5) Jerome Feldman (2013), The Neural Binding Problem(s), http://www.icsi.berkeley.edu/pubs/ai/ICSI_NBPs12.pdf

(6) Susana Martinez-Conde Rich Krauzlis, Joel M. Miller,Concetta Morrone David Williams, Eileen Kowler (2008), “Eye movements and the perception of a clear and stable visual world,” http://jov.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2193393

(7) Jon H. Kaas, Christine E. Collins (2004), The Primate Visual System, Page 153; CRC Press Web LLC

(8) Jon H. Kaas, Christine E. Collins (2004), The Primate Visual System, Page 387; CRC Press Web LLC

RationalityRules Does Not Understand Philosophy

Most of the time you can tell when you are watching an atheist’s youtube channel due to the lack of maturity and respect in the video. Take the channel, “Rationality Rules” (RR) who recently did a response to me on free will: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctbPamkfCQg

He decided to take the low road and refer to me as SP, for “Shit Philosophy.” How cute! I’ve never heard that one before. . . It is like most internet atheists have just fully accepted they cannot engage in a conversation without insults or revealing how low their maturity is. But let’s put that aside and ask if he actually gave a decent response. Well no, and typically I don’t waste my time responding to bad videos like this, but this one was too easy.

The first thing he does is he says I “demonstrably lie.” However, he never proves this. Later he admits  I either intentionally misrepresent Harris, or unintentionally misrepresent Harris, which RR goes onto call “cognitive bias and irresponsibility”. However, the second category (which is a possibility) is not lying, nor could it even be held as irresponsible (without contradicting Harris, funnily enough, since it would be considered an uncontrolled unconscious cognitive activity). So how can he say it is a fact that I lied, but never actually show this? This is a minute issue compared to the huge philosophical errors he later makes in the video.

Next, he accuses me of a black and white fallacy because in the beginning of my video I note there is a debate over the existence of free will between libertarians and determinists. He claims I act as if there is only one school of determinism and one school of libertarianism, but this is arguing from silence. I never said these are the only schools of thought or denied there are various other forms. I am simply highlighting one particular debate between two different groups in a general sense. I did not go into details because the video would be over a half an hour long. Likewise, he could do a video on the general disagreements between Christians and atheists without noting the existence of Catholics or Protestants. He is assuming an awful lot in a simple statement of mine.

It is like he thinks if I do not begin my video by briefly mentioning every belief about free will out there I must not think they exist. Why is it a problem if I decide to highlight one particular debate and not deal with other forms? The fact that I am doing this doesn’t imply I am saying these are the only two views. I am merely highlighting one particular debate in the issue of the existence of free will. A black and white fallacy (false dichotomy) would only happen if I said these were the only two options, which I did not.(1)

If RR decides tomorrow to do a video on why one should reject Christianity and become an atheist, could we accuse him of committing a black and white fallacy because he has not discussed Islam or Hinduism? Of course not! His hypothetical video would only be highlighting a particular debate and it would not mean he is automatically denying there are other views out there. The fact that he confuses this basic informal fallacy shows he is not off to a good start. You can’t just throw around informal fallacies and expect people to take you seriously.

The next thing he does is start accusing me of not understanding fatalism and determinism and ironically only reveals he doesn’t understand these terms because he says, “but one minute later he conflates Harris’ views, and indeed the views of all determinists, with one specific type of determinism, called fatalism or Newtonian determinism.” Here is the problem. The reality is fatalism is not the same as Newtonian determinism. It is not really a type of determinism, in the strictest sense. Some have called it a teleological form of determinism, but they are different in what they claim and you wouldn’t put it on a chart with soft or hard determinism like it was a sub category of determinism. It is a little more complicated. This should have been obvious because the chart he just put up prior to this, which lists the various forms of determinism, doesn’t mention fatalism.

 

Determinism and fatalism are different in various ways and the fact that he doesn’t realize this means he has been reading too much Sam Harris and not enough of actual philosophers. Determinists believe as I said in the video, “free will is an illusion and everything we think and believe has been determined by prior causes, so we are not responsible for our actions because everything we do is simply the effect of past causes.” This is a broad definition of the various forms out there (Let me put that in there so he understands since context doesn’t seem to matter in his brain).(2)

Fatalism only makes sense if there is an author or controller of reality, which is why it usually is something more like a theistic idea. Fatalism is the belief everything is the result of the control of gods or God. To back this up, I’ll borrow this infographic from the blog, “Breaking the Free will Illusion” to show it is a huge error for RR to suggest fatalism is a type of determinism. They are not the same thing:

Source of graphic: http://breakingthefreewillillusion.com/determinism-vs-fatalism-infographic/

So basically, determinism is a belief past causes determine our choices and future; free choices are an illusion. Fatalism is the belief the world is destined by higher powers (whatever they may be) that are beyond our control and we are powerless to change outcomes. There are important differences and to say one is a type of the other is simply false. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says it like this, “Fatalism is therefore clearly separable from determinism, at least to the extent that one can disentangle mystical forces and gods’ wills and foreknowledge (about specific matters) from the notion of natural/causal law.” But unfortunately, RR continues with this confusion throughout the rest of the video. (2)

Next, RR says that Harris is not advocating a form of Newtonian Determinism. Now, this might be true, and the reason I say it is because if you read Sam Harris he never comes right out and says what he holds to. He is very inconsistent and jumps all over the place. For crying out loud, Alvin Plantinga had to explain to him (in a review of Harris’ book) that free will did not mean maximal autonomy (this was the main reason I decided to respond to Harris, which RR did not even bring up). Harris is trying to write a book on free will and couldn’t even get this simple fact straight. To point this out let me show that there are times Harris is definitely espousing causal (Newtonian) determinism:

“We can pursue any line of thought we want–but our choice is the product of prior events that we did not bring into being.” (3)

“The choice was made for me by events in my brain that I, as the conscious witness of my thoughts and actions could not inspect or influence. Could I have “changed my mind” and switched to tea before the coffee drinker in me could get his bearing? Yes, but this impulse would also have been the product of unconscious causes” (4)

“The brain is a physical system, entirely beholden to the laws of nature–and there is every reason to believe that changes in its functional state and material structure entirely dictate our thoughts and actions.” (5)

Now compare this the basic definition of Causal (Newtonian) determinism, “Causal determinism is, roughly speaking, the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature.” (6)

So if the brain is beholden to the laws of nature (as Harris says) and our choices are the product of prior events that we did not bring into being (as Harris also says) then what else is causing us to act but prior material causes? It doesn’t take a lot of reasoning to infer what this means. If Harris and RR are rejecting this then they are being inconsistent. Again, if our choices are the product of prior events and we are beholden to the laws of nature then I don’t see how you can escape Newtonian determinism.

What RR does next is to continue with his error in equating Newtonian Determinism with fatalism. Again, these are not the same thing and I never said Harris was a fatalist. This would be unlikely since Harris is not a theist or even remotely close to that. One can be a Newtonian determinist and not a fatalist. When RR equates these two things he is really showing he doesn’t understand what fatalism is.

Newtonian Determinism would simply say the future is causally determined by prior causes. Fatalism is not dependent on causality, and this would have been pretty easy to know if he would have looked up the terms. The fact that he thinks fatalism is Newtonian determinism is a pretty bad error and it is pretty embarrassing. The ironic part is he spends a lot of time in the video with passive aggressive comments attacking my intelligence. To paraphrase Romans, professing himself wise he has become a fool.

Moving ahead, he then surprisingly suggests the double slit experiment doesn’t show the quantum world is indeterministic. He doesn’t go into much detail and I doubt he has watched my videos on quantum mechanics. Yes, the double slit experiment does show the quantum world is indeterministic. The wave function cannot collapse unless a measurement happens, which even Laurence Krauss admitted. The wave function may be deterministic, but our observations are indeterministic and collapse cannot occur unless a measurement happens.

Krauss says this in the debate here at 52:00: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7vEB6FXtbs

The next thing he does is quote Neil Degrasse Tyson on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. I already addressed this in another video, so I won’t repeat myself and simply refer people there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB7d5V71vUE

The next thing RR attempts to try and quote Harris on quantum theory and argue indeterminacy in quantum mechanics does not get you to free will. This is true and he is completely misunderstanding my point. The point is quantum mechanics shows observers are necessary to collapse the wave function, so the choice of the observer on how to measure is a crucial step in quantum mechanics. The universe is not fully deterministic, it requires outside observers for the final step in the collapse of the wave function. This is essentially what Ian Hutchinson was trying to point out to Krauss in the debate I linked above.

The point is this infers that observers are not causal determined physical processes or objects, but outside the quantum laws and are not determined like physical objects. I go over this in more detail here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C5pq7W5yRM

am not saying indeterminism means free will. I am pointing out the very nature of the universe infers the need for observers that are not determined or part of the world that is governed by quantum laws. No one is saying a combination of determinism and randomness gets you to free will. I explain this in the follow-up video I did on free will:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMp30Q8OGOE

Finally, RR tries to cite the Libet experiments as evidence free will does not exist. But, once again, I already did a video where I debunked these experiments:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB5TNrtu9Pk

So he is wrong to say I didn’t address them. I simply saved them for my series on the evidence for the soul. The main reason I did this was that the debate over free will always seems to collapse to questions of philosophy of mind. The video on free will was a precursor to my series on quantum mechanics and philosophy of mind. I was sort of setting the stage and didn’t want to go into extreme detail, as I was saving this for future videos. If RR would have looked over my channel more instead of finding one video to pick apart he would have known I addressed far more than he lets on in his response video.

So to wrap this up, RR doesn’t really give a lot of evidence for determinism. He only cited the heavily debunked Libet experiments and reveals he knows very little about philosophy since he equated fatalism with Newtonian determinism. He doesn’t realize a lot of the objections he presented were tackled in other videos on my channel. So he should not be claiming I did not address these things. All he had to do was ask, but it seems to be beneath him to have a respectful conversation with me, and it is far easier to pretend you know what you are talking about than to actually do proper research.

 

Sources:

1. https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/black-or-white

2. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/

3. Sam Harris, Free Will (Free Press, 2012), p. 40

4. ibid, p. 7-8

5. ibid, p. 11-12

6. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/