Cult of No Reason (or Charity)

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Sometimes it is like certain atheists don’t even try, and yet claim they have roasted me. For example, I recently received a short response on the moral argument, where they attempted to critique the validity of my version. It is extremely likely they didn’t even watch my video, but instead skimmed through it and glanced at the basic premises, without listening to me define what each premise means. Then they thought they could debunk my argument. But how could I conclude this? 

Because they didn’t even allow me to explain what each premise means, implied I didn’t have a formal conclusion and misrepresented the argument in propositional logic. For example, at 0:29 in their video, they put most of my argument up on the screen:

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But If they would have made to 4:50 in my video, they would have seen there is a conclusion. I didn’t just stop with premise 5. 

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It really looks like they didn’t even make it that far into my video because they didn’t include the full argument. So I doubt they even watched me explain what each premise means and instead just glanced at what was on screen and then took an uncharitable interpretation.

Next, they get to the heart of their argument and claim my argument is not logically valid or follows any rules of logic. At 3:56 they say, “It is a numbered list of disconnected items that are simply claimed to lead to one another.” Well, if they would have listened to the video instead of probably just glancing it over, they would have seen how I explain the argument flows. They make no mention of this, which either shows a lack of use of the principle of charity, or they didn’t even watch the video to see the explanation for each premise. 

They then try to represent my argument in symbolic logic and do so in an uncharitable way which doesn’t match what I said in the video. When they put it into propositional logic they still lack the formal conclusion from my video, once again revealing they probably did not watch my video long enough to see I had that on the screen.

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But this attempt to represent my argument is nothing like what I said in the video. In fact, it is an attempt to way over complicated it. If you want to see it in modus ponens form you need to realize premises 1 through 3 are just propositions. You don’t need to dive further than that. So it runs like:

1. A

2. B 

3. (¬C) 

4. If (A) (B) & (¬C) → D

5. D → G

C: G

 

My version was built on the philosopher Linda Zagzebski’s version, which I linked in the video description. See more here and here. Here is how her argument runs:

i) Morality is a rational enterprise.

ii) Morality would not be rational if moral skepticism were true.

iii) There is much too much unresolved moral disagreement for us to suppose that moral skepticism can be avoided if human sources of moral knowledge are all that we have.

iv) Therefore we must assume that there is an extra-human, divine source of moral wisdom.

 

In philosophy, we are called to employ the principle of charity as much as possible (something the atheist philosopher Benjamin Watkins has advised me on). In proposition logic, there is no reason to overcomplicate it. It runs as:

i) A

ii) If S → (¬A)

iii) If H → S

iv) If (A & ¬S) → G

 

As you can see, I tried to be charitable without how I represented her argument. However, my critics didn’t employ the principle of charity, nor did they try. Probably because they didn’t even watch the video. 

When I did a video titled, “A Critique of Error Theory,” atheist and philosopher Benjamin Watkins helped out by presenting an argument for Normative Realism. If you didn’t listen to Ben explain how the premises flow you could easily think the argument is invalid:

(F) We have more reason to prefer a life filled with happy experiences than a life of unrelenting agony.

(G) The fact that some argument is valid and has true premises does give us reason to accept this argument’s conclusion.

(H) Therefore, there are some objective normative truths.

(I) Some things have intrinsic features, or properties, which give us strong reasons to care about them for their own sake. 

 

Now I don’t have time to explain this here, especially when you can just watch the video and see why it is valid. The reason it is valid is because arguments are typically accompanied with an explanation to clarify things and provide support. Plus, it is our job to employ the principle of charity as much as possible, before we assume error. One ought to listen to the best of their ability to the explanation of the argument before they assume the argument is invalid. Unfortunately, it is probably the case my critics did not even try when I present my version of the moral argument. 

The last issue they bring up is they take issue with the fact that God is not brought in until premise 5. But so what? The Kalam doesn’t make reference to God, but that doesn’t mean it is not valid. Zagzebski’s moral argument doesn’t make reference to God. Arguments are not unsound or invalid because they do not make reference to the conclusion early on. That should be blatantly obvious. 

Plus, once again, if all you did with the Kalam Cosmological Argument is glance at the premises and not allow Dr. Craig to explain what each means, you would not actually understand the argument, nor would you get a reference to God. Arguments come with explanations. It is dishonest to divorce an explanation from an argument. 

If you actually watch my video I explain how the premises flow to the conclusion. These things are not coming out of the aether. They are explained in the video as to how we arrive there. The fact that they don’t acknowledge this, once again, shows us they didn’t attempt to watch the video, but just glanced at the premises. Nor do they ever employ the principle of charity.

Finally, their whole critique doesn’t even address the soundness of the argument (probably because they didn’t watch the video). They are only trying to argue the way it is presented is invalid. If that was even remotely true (and as we have demonstrated it is not), this would not mean the moral argument doesn’t work. It would just mean it needs to be presented in a different way. So their whole critique is pedantic at best. All they succeeded in doing is making me more confident in the moral argument. 

I suspect because they are such a small channel, they might take this opportunity to reply to this blog post. If they do, I think it is likely they will once again misrepresent my position, ignore the principle of charity, and dig their heels in and tell me what I mean by my premises. When someone doesn’t employ the principle of charity and gets called out on this, they are likely to double down on their dishonesty. I hope I am wrong, but we will see.

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