22 March, 2011

The merry-go-round that is a debate with Peter Chen

Below is a copy of a lengthly debate I had with Peter Chen on (among other things) the origins of reasoning, which took place on the Premier forums back in October last year. My argument was that reasoning could have evolved side-by-side with self-awareness, while Peter is a strong proponent of the 'God-did-it' hypothesis. I read it again recently and am posting it here now just so that I can keep a record of it. As you can see, his debating style is quite frustrating as he never seems to respond to a point or question with a straightforward answer, but just keeps repeating the same jumbled presuppositionalist rhetoric. On the contrary, I feel as though I honestly addressed his points as patiently as I could (although I admit at times I can appear quite impatient). The debate actually starts off by me quoting Sye, so I have included his initial comments too.

Me: Black
Sye: Red
Peter: Blue
Notes in bold


[I begin by quoting Sye...]

"The knowledge claim of an unbeliever is automatically refuted."

Here's my knowledge claim then: "Presuppositionalism is correct" Automatically refuted I guess...! Sye is so 'not' a div...


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Yawn. The claim to know is automatically refuted. Watch: Rhiggs, how do you know that presuppositionalism is correct?

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I was just responding to your statement Sye, which was: "The knowledge claim of an unbeliever is automatically refuted."

Is the following a knowledge claim or not? "Presuppositionalism is correct"

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Are you saying that you know for certain that presuppositionalism is correct?

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Yawn. Just answer the question. Is the following a knowledge claim? "Presuppositionalism is correct"

Yes or no?

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Depends.

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You really like to drag things out, huh? In what case is "Presuppositionalism is correct" NOT a knowledge claim?

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[No response from Sye, he doesn't like it when you use his own words against him - see here for further examples - so Peter takes up the reins. Note: All spelling is original]

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rhiggs,

I think Sye was getting at, he is able to make knowledge claims, and atheist are not.


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Right, so you're saying that I can't make a knowledge claim. Is that correct?

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No, you do[So now I can make a knowledge claim, even though he just said I can't!!??], but you don't have the meaningful reason to.

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I do. I do what? Have the ability to make knowledge claims? You said earlier that I am unable to. You're not making much sense.

And I have many meaningful reasons to make a knowledge claim - one of which is to participate in a conversation with other intelligent beings.

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"I do. I do what? Have the ability to make knowledge claims? You said earlier that I am unable to. You're not making much sense."

It is easy enough to follow. What you do is not the same as what you have the basis to do. Like the dif. between what you "can" and what you "may" do. They are not the same. .
[Huh? So I "can" make knowledge claims, but I "may not" make knowledge claims!!??] Thus, what you do do is not the same as what your worldview gives you the basis to do.

"And I have many meaningful reasons to make a knowledge claim - one of which is to participate in a conversation with other intelligent beings."

But how is reasoning meaningful in your worldview? Does your worldview make sense of your ability to do so? The point is that you do not, though you do it. That is the inconsistency.


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"Thus, what you do do is not the same as what your worldview gives you the basis to do."

Yes it is. We're talking about knowledge claims. I can make knowledge claims. The basis for me making these is that I acquire knowledge and then make a claim about it. Just because you wish to ascribe an unproven wishy-washy transcendental precondition to knowledge, which you label a 'basis', makes no difference.

"But how is reasoning meaningful in your worldview? Does your worldview make sense of your ability to do so? The point is that you do not, though you do it. That is the inconsistency."

My worldview has axioms, just like yours does. Reasoning is axiomatic. Any attempt to disprove this must use reasoning. Reasoning is also an axiom in your worldview. You could not have arrived at God (or anything else) without it. Your attempt to position God as a precondition to reasoning is a cheap trick to try and insert an unproven premise into an argument. God is your conclusion, which you have arrived at using the same axioms we all use. God is not your presupposition. If you claim that God is the precondition to reasoning, then belief in God is unreasonable by default.

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Let us move it over.[i.e. Let me ignore what you said and keep repeating the same thing]

"The basis for me making these is that I acquire knowledge and then make a claim about it."

How is that even an explanation of what I asked??? Which was: Thus, what you do do is not the same as what your worldview gives you the basis to do.

"Reasoning is axiomatic."

You may want to have axioms in your worldview, but how does impersonal, mindless, matter in motion account for those axioms?

You don't know what you are talking about when you are talking about my worldview. I am the one who states what my worldview is and what it is not, and you do not have the ability to.
[Wait! Now I apparently can't make knowledge claims again...]
... and you show no sign of the ability to do so, nor even seam to have the simplistic understanding of it.

Instead of attacking, maybe you are willing to learn about what you are attacking first? I don't mind to take a little time to teach you about Christianity and what worldview is all about. But if you don't care for it, we can keep going as normative on here of mindless attacks and meaningless talks that is not really worth the time to write back. I think that is why Sye left the conversation, being a much smarter man than I.

(Note that I will not always be back here that fast. I maybe gone for a few days. I don't have that much time with these talks. I have a very busy life, as you have.)


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"How is that even an explanation of what I asked??? Which was: Thus, what you do do is not the same as what your worldview gives you the basis to do."

Erm, that's not a question.

"You may want to have axioms in your worldview, but how does impersonal, mindless, matter in motion account for those axioms?"

They don't have to. That's why their called axioms. They are self-affirming.

"You don't know what you are talking about when you are talking about my worldview. I am the one who states what my worldview is and what it is not, and you do not have the ability to... and you show no sign of the ability to do so, nor even seam to have the simplistic understanding of it."

Sigh. And yet you seem to be telling me all about what my worldview can or can't do. Hypocrite?

[Sye re-enters the fray here and we go off on a tangent. See here if you are interested. I'm going to stick to the discussion with Peter]

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"They don't have to. That's why their called axioms. They are self-affirming."

Do rocks have axioms? IF not, then what are preconditions to have axioms? And what preconditions account for those axioms?

"Sigh. And yet you seem to be telling me all about what my worldview can or can't do. Hypocrite?"

Ignorance. I am not telling you, but asking you.


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"Do rocks have axioms? IF not, then what are preconditions to have axioms? And what preconditions account for those axioms?"

The concept of a rock has axioms. An axiom is valid if it is self-affirming, such as the axioms of truth, reason, logic, etc.... God, however, is not axiomatic in that God is not needed to disprove God. You need axioms, such as truth, to even conceptualise and give meaning to God. If truth is not needed as a precondition to God, then God is automatically not true (because the concept of truth is absent). We all use a range of axioms to arrive at conclusions, just as Christians do to arrive at the concept of God.

"Ignorance. I am not telling you, but asking you."

Really? You said both:

"No, you do, but you don't have the meaningful reason to."

and

"The point is that you do not, though you do it."

They both sound like you're telling me what my worldview can or can't do.

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You evaded my point: Do rocks have axioms? IF not, then what are preconditions to have axioms? And/or what preconditions account for those axioms?[Note: Peter requests that I address his points]

Sure I can tell you what I think of your worldview too.


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"Do rocks have axioms?"[1]

No. The concept of a rock does though.[Question 1 answered]

"IF not, then what are preconditions to have axioms?"[2]

Axioms apply to conceptualisation and reasoning, so I suppose those are examples of preconditions for something having axioms.[Question 2 answered]

"And/or what preconditions account for those axioms?"[3]

As I said, they just have to be true, as shown through self-affirmation. This means that they are required to disprove themselves, hence they are automatically proven to be true. Take the concept of truth for example. Any disproof of truth would itself have to be true, thus truth is axiomatic. No further account or basis is needed for truth. The same can be shown for logic, reasoning, knowledge, etc... We all use these axioms as tools for reasoning. Presuppositionalist Christians use these very tools when they attempt to insert a deity, and indeed a whole worldview, in the place of these tools with no justification other than circular reasoning that could be used to insert any other deity in its place.[Question 3 answered]

If you disagree, please provide an account for your God without using the concepts of truth, logic, reasoning, knowledge, etc. This should be possible if they are not preconditions for you conceptualising and even being aware of your God>[And here is my request to Peter. Will he address it?]

"he is able to make knowledge claims, and atheist are not."
"No, you do, but you don't have the meaningful reason to."

"I am not telling you, but asking you"
"Sure I can tell you what I think of your worldview too"


Consistency isn't a strong point of yours, eh Peter?

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"Axioms apply to conceptualisation and reasoning, so I suppose those are examples of preconditions for something having axioms."

So even according to you rationality/reasoning is precondition for Axioms. What is your metaphorical basis for rationality/reasoning?

Context.


[Oh dear! My request to Peter is ignored]

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"So even according to you rationality/reasoning is precondition for Axioms. What is your metaphorical basis for rationality/reasoning?"

No, you've completely misrepresented what I said. Something needs to be applicable to conceptualisation and reason for it to be subject to axioms, so a rock doesn't have axioms but the concept of a rock does. Axioms themselves don't have preconditions other than they just have to be self-evidently true (as I already explained).

This isn't a one-way conversation Peter. I'm not here to simply provide answers to your questions ad infinitum. It's your turn to answer something. After all, you are the one accusing me of evading your statements, even though I have answered them all. Now, please address this (which you clearly evaded):

Please provide an account for your God without using the concepts of truth, logic, reasoning, knowledge, etc. This should be possible if they are not preconditions for you conceptualising and even being aware of your God.

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That is right, you have been evading the one main question I have been asking you and you keep running from.[Huh?]

I asked you: Do rocks have axioms? IF not, then what are preconditions to have axioms? And/or what preconditions account for those axioms?[All of which I answered. See above]

You answered: "No. The concept of a rock does though."

I did not ask you about the humans concept of rocks, but the precondition for axioms.[Which I answered. See above]
You admit that a rock does not have axioms. Thus I wrote: So even according to you rationality/reasoning is precondition for Axioms. What is your metaphorical basis for rationality/reasoning?
[Ah, so Peter just wanted to ask more questions. Of course this doesn't mean that I evaded his earlier questions, although he keeps claiming that I did. As you can see, this gets me a bit frustrated in my next comment]

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OK you're verging on being a troll now.

"That is right, you have been evading the one main question I have been asking you and you keep running from."

What are you talking about? Who is running here? I've answered your questions several times. You are the one running Peter.

NO, ROCKS DON'T HAVE AXIOMS

THE ONLY PRECONDITION FOR AXIOMS IS THAT HAVE TO BE SELF-EVIDENTLY TRUE


"So even according to you rationality/reasoning is precondition for Axioms."

No, that is not what I said at all. I said conceptualisation and reason are preconditions for something to have axioms. They are not preconditions for the axioms themselves.

"What is your metaphorical basis for rationality/reasoning"
I don't need a metaphorical basis for rationality/reasoning. If you mean a metaphysical basis, I have already provided it. Reasoning is axiomatic.

Now, I've answered your questions several times over. If you are an honest person, and not simply a troll, you will address my request. If you're not interested in having a two-way conversation, then neither am I.

Address this please:

Please provide an account for your God without using the concepts of truth, logic, reasoning, knowledge, etc. This should be possible if they are not preconditions for you conceptualising and even being aware of your God.

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"I said conceptualisation and reason are preconditions for something to have axioms."

And as I have asked: What is your metaphysical basis for reason? And you answered:

"If you mean a metaphysical basis, I have already provided it. Reasoning is axiomatic."

So, according to you, to have axioms one must be able to have reason. You claim "no" that rocks do not have axioms. It is axiomatic to you that rocks to not think[What? No. Where did I say that rocks not thinking is an AXIOM?], it is axiomatic to you that you think. Or to say it in a more clear way. It is self-evident to you that rocks do not reason.[Not at all. You reason to the conclusion that rocks do not reason. It is not self-evident. This guy clearly has no understanding of what an axiom is. He seems to think an axiom is just something that is an obvious fact]. You claim that it is self-evident to you that you try to reason. Not all matter/stuff think, you granted, then thinking is itself not self-existent in everything evenly. If you hold that you are just matter and rock is just matter, than why does rock matter on the ground does not think and brain matter in your head tries to think?

You may say that it is self-evident to you that you reason, but you distinguish thinking matter from nonthinking matter.[The thinking matter thinks, and the non-thinking matter doesn't] How do you account for this distention?

It maybe self-evident to you that you think, but why must it be logical thinking? I am asking about quality/valid thinking. You may at times laps in your thinking and may say things that are self contradictory, and/or just of the subject, wrong thinking/irrationality is a possibility. Therefore, there is the difference between logical think and illogical thinking. How do you account for logical thinking in your view of the world?

When you claim that it is self-evident to you that you think. It is not all that clear to me that you think. Even you do not know that another person around you is a thinking person. How do you account for your belief that other people around you are thinking people?

You asked:
"Please provide an account for your God without using the concepts of truth, logic, reasoning, knowledge, etc. This should be possible if they are not preconditions for you conceptualising and even being aware of your God."

You are asking me to do the irrational, much like asking me to square a circle. Without truth, logic, etc. I would not be able to write anything in response. However, your point is also not meaningful for my ability or inability does not matter as to the reality of God. God is objectively true,[Wait for it...] as evidence by objective truth, logic, etc. I know that God exist by the reality that I am a thinking and living person (just three of many reason, unaccounted for in materialism), and also I must presuppose God to know anything else.[Oh dear!] I don't believe that I am just a thinking brain with probes, but a living person with a both and senses that experience the world around me. But how does one go from the thinking self to the world around him/her? My ability to write you back is proof that God exist and fact that you are able to write me back is also proof that you and I are living in God's created world, and not an atheistic world of just impersonal irrational matter.
[i.e. God-did-it]

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Peter,

I see you have moved on from your original questions on axioms and the preconditions for axioms, ignored my account for truth, logic, etc, and now want to discuss materialism. This has nothing to do with my arguments for why truth, logic, knowledge, etc are axiomatic. You have offered NO refutation of my basis for these concepts, and instead try to move onto to other tired generalizations.

"If you hold that you are just matter and rock is just matter, than why does rock matter on the ground does not think and brain matter in your head tries to think?"

Matter is matter. But the matter that we call ‘humans’ has evolved to a point that it is self-aware. The matter we call ‘rocks’ hasn’t. We have memories and can think, which involves conceptualizing and reasoning. Rocks don’t.

"You may say that it is self-evident to you that you reason, but you distinguish thinking matter from nonthinking matter. How do you account for this distention?"

See above

"I am asking about quality/valid thinking."

Erm, no you’re not Peter. This is the first time you’ve mentioned “quality” or “valid” in our whole conversation, so don’t lie as if you were asking about this all the time. I know what you ARE doing though. You are simply asking question after question, shifting the goalposts as you go. I’m not going to play your game. I’m not answering any more of your questions until you address my statements on the axiomatic status of truth, logic, knowledge, etc. I claim that I have provided an account for these concepts in my worldview, and that I had no need for your God to do so. Your eagerness to change subject suggests that you have no refutation of this.

Now, onto my request, which you eventually answered on the third time of asking…

I asked: ”Please provide an account for your God without using the concepts of truth, logic, reasoning, knowledge, etc. This should be possible if they are not preconditions for you conceptualising and even being aware of your God.”

"You are asking me to do the irrational, much like asking me to square a circle. Without truth, logic, etc. I would not be able to write anything in response."

Exactly, it is impossible because these concepts are required for you to conceptualise and even be aware of God, meaning they are your fundamental presuppositions. Do you admit that these concepts are preconditions for conceptualising and even being aware of your God? If not, my original statement stands.

"God is objectively true, as evidence by objective truth, logic, etc."

Erm, no. They are certainly not evidence that God exists. They are simply evidence that truth, logic, etc exist. However, if you are confident that this is a valid argument for the existence of God, please present it formally with premises and a conclusion.

"I know that God exist by the reality that I am a thinking and living person (just three of many reason, unaccounted for in materialism), and also I must presuppose God to know anything else."

Actually, you must presuppose truth, knowledge and logic to arrive at what you believe to be your presuppostion of God. In reality, God is a conclusion you have come to, not a presupposition. But I understand why you must confuse yourself into believing the opposite. However, if you are confident that this is a valid argument for the existence of God, please present it formally with premises and a conclusion.

"My ability to write you back is proof that God exist and fact that you are able to write me back is also proof that you and I are living in God's created world, and not an atheistic world of just impersonal irrational matter."

I am holding back the laughter here. However, if you are confident that this is a valid argument for the existence of God, please present it formally with premises and a conclusion.

What you don’t seem to realise is that you have just provided three examples of how you CONCLUDE (and not presuppose) that God exists. You made these conclusions based on 1) the existence of “objective truth, logic, etc.”, 2) the “reality that [you are] a thinking and living person” and 3) your “ability to write”. And in order to do so, you presupposed the concepts of truth, logic and knowledge because they are preconditions you need in order to make the conclusions you made.

You are refuting yourself Peter.

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"I see you have moved on from your original questions on axioms and the preconditions for axioms, ignored my account for truth, logic, etc, and now want to discuss materialism. This has nothing to do with my arguments for why truth, logic, knowledge, etc are axiomatic. You have offered NO refutation of my basis for these concepts, and instead try to move onto to other tired generalizations."

No, you are saying that rational thought is self-evident without talking about the precondition for reason, the point of what Sye and I was talking about. There must be precondition for reason to be possible, let alone for one to know that one is thinking.[Says who? Peter? He cannot even comprehend, let alone refute, the possibility that reason evolved alongside self-awareness] Without a meaningful worldview, the claim of "it is self-evident" is not meaningful, for it is evidently true that rocks do not have reason.

"Matter is matter. But the matter that we call ‘humans’ has evolved to a point that it is self-aware. The matter we call ‘rocks’ hasn’t. We have memories and can think, which involves conceptualizing and reasoning. Rocks don’t."

All you have said is that matter in head is "changed" from the matter on ground. You said, "Matter is matter." What did matter changed into? Non-matter?[Again, Peter misquotes me and fails to summarise my point correctly]

Thus my point remains: You may say that it is self-evident to you that you reason, but you distinguish thinking matter from nonthinking matter. How do you account for this distention?

"Erm, no you’re not Peter. This is the first time you’ve mentioned “quality” or “valid” in our whole conversation, so don’t lie as if you were asking about this all the time. I know what you ARE doing though. You are simply asking question after question, shifting the goalposts as you go. I’m not going to play your game.

Maybe you don't understand that I was explaining my question: "It maybe self-evident to you that you think, but why must it be logical thinking? I am asking about quality/valid thinking." and continued onto explaining my point.

"I’m not answering any more of your questions until you address my statements on the axiomatic status of truth, logic, knowledge, etc. I claim that I have provided an account for these concepts in my worldview, and that I had no need for your God to do so. Your eagerness to change subject suggests that you have no refutation of this."

You don't have to answer anything you can't answer. You can end the talk now. I rather have many things I need to be doing as well.

I have not read anything of your worldview, nor your accounting for your claims. If you care to share it just copy and paste it here.[Wow! Just wow!]

"Exactly, it is impossible because these concepts are required for you to conceptualise and even be aware of God, meaning they are your fundamental presuppositions. Do you admit that these concepts are preconditions for conceptualising and even being aware of your God? If not, my original statement stands. ... Actually, you must presuppose truth, knowledge and logic to arrive at what you believe to be your presuppostion of God. In reality, God is a conclusion you have come to, not a presupposition. But I understand why you must confuse yourself into believing the opposite."

Let me just stick with my ability to think/reason. The fact that I am a thinking person is not the same as my fundamental presupposition of my worldview. It is the difference between Metaphysics and Epistimology. The latter is what you are confusing with the former. My first coming to know myself as a thinking self is not the same as my ability to account for myself being a thinking self. My ability to know myself as a thinking self is "first" in the sense of primary in order of knowledge, however my accounting for my ability to think is the "primary foundation" of my rationality[i.e. God-did-it]. What you are laking is a Metaphysics that account for your ability to think (if you have stated it, then again, please show it here.). All you have said so far is that you think rational thought is a fact, but why are you a thinking person given your worldview? How does your worldview explain, or is in conflict with that claim? That is the issue.

I wrote: God is objectively true, as evidence by objective truth, logic, etc.

You wrote: "Erm, no. They are certainly not evidence that God exists."

But that is the dispute is it not? All you are doing is stating your atheistic faith, that you don't believe God exist, but why do you believe that proposition?

"They are simply evidence that truth, logic, etc exist. However, if you are confident that this is a valid argument for the existence of God, please present it formally with premises and a conclusion. .. However, if you are confident that this is a valid argument for the existence of God, please present it formally with premises and a conclusion."

This is my simple case against your atheistic view (Sye may not take the same approach):

The materialistic worldview of only mindless impersonal amoral matter exist; humans are not irrational, impersonal, amoral; therefore materialism is a false worldview.

"I am holding back the laughter here. However, if you are confident that this is a valid argument for the existence of God, please present it formally with premises and a conclusion."

I think I have done more than enough explanation. If you don't have honesty of handling the issues, then I rather not waist my time. If you care to make a valid case for your worldview to gives you the basis for rational thought, then that is what you have to do. I don't have to present why that is not so (even though I did so above.).

"What you don’t seem to realise is that you have just provided three examples of how you CONCLUDE (and not presuppose) that God exists. You made these conclusions based on 1) the existence of “objective truth, logic, etc.”, 2) the “reality that [you are] a thinking and living person” and 3) your “ability to write”. And in order to do so, you presupposed the concepts of truth, logic and knowledge because they are preconditions you need in order to make the conclusions you made.

You are refuting yourself Peter.


Sure I presuppose reason, objective truth, etc. but I have a meaningful worldview where by these presupposition are meaningful[i.e. God-did-it]. Your worldview does not. If you think it does, then it is your job to prove it.

Can you move your response to the end and left? I know that it will be had to keep going back to just add comments to follow the next.


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"...you are saying that rational thought is self-evident..."

Not necessarily. Rational thought exists, but not all thought is rational. As we are both human beings, any doubts you have about my ability to reason are equally as applicable to you, so be careful if you plan to go down this road...

"There must be precondition for reason to be possible"

Erm, reasoning is axiomatic.

"What did matter changed[sic] into? Non-matter?"

No. It’s still matter, but it has evolved to the stage where it can form a mental representation of its surroundings, have memories and conceptualise. I understand that you want there to be a transcendental requirement for this to occur, but this doesn’t mean there is. I suggest you read some neuroscience literature (see here or here for example) for an explanation of how matter can evolve in this way.

"I have not read anything of your worldview, nor your accounting for your claims. If you care to share it just copy and paste it here."

The axiomatic concepts I speak of are presupposed by everyone. Take truth as an example. It is literally impossible for you to conceptualise, imagine, speak of, worship, or presuppose your God (or anything else for that matter) prior to presupposing the concept of truth. If truth is not already established, then anything else you think of cannot be true by default. Thus truth is obviously presupposed FIRST. For you to then state that God is necessary for truth is pointless, as you have already had to presuppose and accept the concept of truth prior to even conceptualising God. You are simply adding an extra unnecessary and unjustified step. God is not a precondition for truth to exist, but truth is a precondition for God to exist.

The same can be said for a number of other axioms, such as logic and reason. So my ‘account’ for these concepts is simply that they are axiomatic. This does not mean that they are magical and need a transcendent creator in order to exist (indeed, there are theories of how reason can evolve through purely biological processes). If you disagree, you will have to prove this by providing an example of an instance in which they do not exist and account for your God in their absence.

"What you are laking[sic] is a Metaphysics that account for your ability to think (if you have stated it, then again, please show it here.)."

Reasoning is axiomatic and is a process that ‘brain matter’ uses to conceptualise and understand the world around it. Go and read the literature I linked to. Now you may not agree with the hypotheses contained therein, but you cannot say that I have not provided a metaphysical account for my ability to reason.

"All you have said so far is that you think rational thought is a fact, but why are you a thinking person given your worldview? How does your worldview explain, or is in conflict with that claim? That is the issue."

I have not necessarily said that ‘rational’ thought is a fact, but since irrational thought would not survive for long under selective pressure, rational thought evolves.

"All you are doing is stating your atheistic faith, that you don't believe God exist, but why do you believe that proposition?"

Because in my opinion the evidence does not support the proposition. You are free to disagree, but that does not mean you are correct. Oh and I'm still waiting for those formal proofs. Whenever you're ready please present them...

"This is my simple case against your atheistic view (Sye may not take the same approach): The materialistic worldview of only mindless impersonal amoral matter exist; humans are not irrational, impersonal, amoral; therefore materialism is a false worldview."

Erm, plenty of humans are irrational, impersonal and amoral, so your case fails miserably. Plus materialism can account for non-physical things, such as thought and reason. Again, I suggest you read some neuroscience literature.

"I think I have done more than enough explanation. If you don't have honesty of handling the issues, then I rather not waist my time."

On the contrary, I have handled all of your issues. The fact that you might disagree with what I say does not mean I’ve not honestly answered you. You have not yet refuted a single thing I have said and instead keep shifting the goalposts.

"If you care to make a valid case for your worldview to gives you the basis for rational thought, then that is what you have to do."

Erm, I have, and I've provided links. Scroll up.

"Sure I presuppose reason, objective truth, etc. but I have a meaningful worldview where by these presupposition are meaningful."

No you don’t. You have presupposed these concepts in order to conceptualise an unproven being, the existence of whom is in question, and then you CONCLUDE that this being is necessary for the concepts you have already presupposed.

Let me ask you this Peter. According to your worldview, what do you presuppose first – that God exists or that you exist? Which brings me nicely to my final request:

Please provide a proof that you exist for certain.

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What??? Are you for real???

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Wow! Convincing comeback!

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I just don't want to waste my time with a person who is incapable to follow the talk.

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A typical presuppositionalist excuse for leaving a conversation. You have not presented any proof of the existence of God (or even that you exist!), you have not refuted a single thing I've said, and you have shifted the goalposts at every opportunity. Your whole worldview is simply an argument from ignorance.......you can't understand how abstractions can exist in a materialist world, so God-did-it.

As Dawson Bethrick states here:

"The way I see it, is that you have two basic options. One, you can imagine that an invisible magic being takes care of all your worries in every department, be it conceptualization, induction, integration, understanding, or philosophizing. Or two, you can investigate the nature of man's mind in order to learn and understand how it works, to discover how he perceives, forms concepts, and integrates those concepts into higher abstractions. [...] I realize it's frustrating to those who want to point to an invisible magic being in order to "account for" things that have puzzled previous thinkers. But you know, there is such a thing as reality, and it's not such a bad thing. Man's mind is not incompetent, regardless of who disapproves."

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rhiggs,

It seems to me that you don't have the ability to continue the conversation. I personal don't want to wait my time. But look, I understand how that may sound like I am making an excuse, but I really am not. I don't treat these talks as if I am trying to prove anything.
[Really? Then why make sweeping statements like this: "My ability to write you back is proof that God exist and fact that you are able to write me back is also proof that you and I are living in God's created world, and not an atheistic world of just impersonal irrational matter."?] I do it to sharpen myself to teach Sunday-school Every Sunday, [I sincerely hope that Peter does not inflict his own personal mishmash of presuppositional apologetics on those poor kids] and if it helps the person I talk with, that is great as well. I don't have ax to grind. I don't care for the kind of personal attacks that get past for conversation.[Why bring up 'personal attacks' here? I cannot see where I have made any personal attacks] I have a busy life with many things to do in my life. I really don't care to waste my time.

I will respond to your long reply where I think you are wrong and or are just not getting the subject, and you can show me that you are able to push me to think harder about this. I will add this as a new comment in the far left as a new comment.


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"It seems to me that you don't have the ability to continue the conversation."

And yet you are the one making excuses, not me, so it seems the opposite is true. I’m perfectly happy with my metaphysical 'account' for thought and reason. These abstractions are a direct consequence of the evolution of complex biological life and the ability of the brain to create a mental representation of reality. They are conceptual and do not exist outside of the mind. You seem to be assuming that these concepts are independently existing entities created by an unproven transcendent being. Care to offer any evidence for that assumption? Does reason exist outside of the mind? Where? Can you pick it up?

"I don't care for the kind of personal attacks that get past for conversation."

Are you implying that I have used personal attacks?


[Sye and Andrew Louis appear here and the discussion gets sidetracked again, but Peter eventually replies a few pages later with what seems to be his closing argument...]

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rhiggs,

As I have said, I don't care to waste time. If you can't care to learn and are not able to carry on a conversation, I do have better things to do with my time. That is just a matter of fact. I will state some of my observations which indicate to me that it is not worth my time to keep the conversation going.

You wrote: "reasoning is axiomatic."
You quoted me: ...you are saying that rational thought is self-evident….
You answered: "Not necessarily. Rational thought exists, but not all thought is rational."

It seams to me you have contradicted yourself and/or have changed the subject to run from the issue. I was just repeating your idea, to start my point. You objected to what??? My use of the words "self-evident" instead of "axiomatic"? You objected yourself, because I was only rephrasing[Some would call it 'misquoting'...] what you said: "reasoning is axiomatic" and "rational thought is self-evident" means the same thing.[Which is not what I said at all]

I asked: What did matter changed into? Non-matter?
You answered: "No. It’s still matter, but it has evolved to the stage where it can form a mental representation of its surroundings, have memories and conceptualise. ... I have not necessarily said that ‘rational’ thought is a fact, but since irrational thought would not survive for long under selective pressure, rational thought evolves."

You claim that matter changed but it is still matter. Mindless matter "changed" into thinking matter?[Peter really doesn't like using the word 'evolved'] Does matter think? How did non-thinking object became thinking person? How do you know this? Who was there to see this "change"? I do not accept links as an argument. If you got a case then make it. So far, it is just your atheistic belief speaking.

Here is an example of where you responded to everything else but, the key issue that takes you claims apart.: "The axiomatic concepts I speak of are presupposed by everyone. .... God is not a precondition for truth to exist, but truth is a precondition for God to exist."

Maybe you did not read where I have responded to this already. You have confused Metaphysics and Epistimology; I wrote: Let me just stick with my ability to think/reason. The fact that I am a thinking person is not the same as my fundamental presupposition of my worldview. It is the difference between Metaphysics and Epistimology. The latter is what you are confusing with the former. My first coming to know myself as a thinking self is not the same as my ability to account for myself being a thinking self. My ability to know myself as a thinking self is "first" in the sense of primary in order of knowledge, however my accounting for my ability to think is the "primary foundation" of my rationality[i.e. God-did-it]. What you are laking is a Metaphysics that account for your ability to think (if you have stated it, then again, please show it here.). All you have said so far is that you think rational thought is a fact, but why are you a thinking person given your worldview? How does your worldview explain, or is in conflict with that claim? That is the issue.

This indicates to me that you don't know the issues being talked about:
"This does not mean that they [truth, logic, knowledge, etc] are magical and need a transcendent creator in order to exist (indeed, there are theories of how reason can evolve through purely biological processes). If you disagree, you will have to prove this by providing an example of an instance in which they do not exist and account for your God in their absence."

I never left my first question[Exactly! Even though I answered it 3 times]: Do rocks have axioms. You said they do not, they do not think. As I have said, then knowledge must be accounted for in ones worldview. The is really the issue of worldviews, and axioms are presuppositions that people have, but these axioms/presuppositions[Axioms and presuppositions are not the same thing Peter. That your computer will work is a presupposition, but it is definitely NOT an axiom. Same with God, although presuppers try - and fail - to insert him as an axiom] must be meaningful in ones accepted worldview. A matter only world, like a rock, does not think, is not personal, and has no moral standards. You however is not a rock. You presuppose to think and live, but your accepted worldview does not give you the basis to do so. It is in fact contrary to thinking and life. Dead matter is mindless, impersonal, and lifeless. Thus I have said, your very ability to write me back proves that your worldview is false.

Your wording is incoherent to me. I just am not sure what you are trying to say. Either you are trying to make a profound point, but sounding like you are using words that are just too "big" for you[You have to smile at the irony here], or you are saying something so simple that is not an issue and thus not relevant to the discussion.

You said: "Reasoning is axiomatic and is a process that ‘brain matter’ uses to conceptualise and understand the world around it. Go and read the literature I linked to. Now you may not agree with the hypotheses contained therein but you cannot say that I have not provided a metaphysical account for my ability to reason."

So you think that "brain matter" "uses" reasoning to know the world? Aside from the glaring problem of mindless matter intentionally "use" reasoning before it had reasoning, and problematic leap from reasoning within ones own mind to the outside world as if nerve firings are real indications of the outside real world,... even if we do not address those problems, I am baffled as to your conclusion. How is that at all a "metaphysical account for" reason in your worldview?

I wrote: All you are doing is stating your atheistic faith, that you don't believe God exist, but why do you believe that proposition?

You wrote: "Because in my opinion the evidence does not support the proposition. You are free to disagree, but that does not mean you are correct. Oh and I'm still waiting for those formal proofs. Whenever you're ready please present them..."

So, you are saying that your proposition is not supported by the evidence? If you are going to quote me, I think you should do that in context and write in response to what I wrote.

When I got to this point. I thought to myself, this person must be a little kid, at teenager at most[This from the man who doesn't care for personal attacks...]:
I wrote: This is my simple case against your atheistic view (Sye may not take the same approach): The materialistic worldview of only mindless impersonal amoral matter exist; humans are not irrational, impersonal, amoral; therefore materialism is a false worldview.

You wrote: "Erm, plenty of humans are irrational, impersonal and amoral, so your case fails miserably. Plus materialism can account for non-physical things, such as thought and reason. Again, I suggest you read some neuroscience literature."

Wow, the problems with what is said is just ... hum. I was talking about "the materialistic worldview", you try to prove me wrong with the claim that "plenty" some people are irrational, etc.. Then you went on to claim that materialism can account for the nonmaterial, then suggest that I read about neuroscience. Where in neuroscience proved that matter accounts for non-matter? How can there be non-matter in an only matter world? Are you claiming that all humans are nonthinking/irrational objects, such as a rock? Then how is that even addressing the point?

"On the contrary, I have handled all of your issues. The fact that you might disagree with what I say does not mean I’ve not honestly answered you. You have not yet refuted a single thing I have said and instead keep shifting the goalposts... Let me ask you this Peter. According to your worldview, what do you presuppose first – that God exists or that you exist? If God, then this means you can conceptualise things prior to your own existence, which is clearly ridiculous. If you presuppose that you exist first, how does this make sense in a worldview that insists that presupposing God is necessary for thought and intelligibility? Which brings me nicely to my final request:
Please provide a proof that you exist for certain."


It should be evident to any honest reader that you have not addressed the issue I wrote you about. You have overlook the key point that you confused Metaphysics and Epistimology, you have not proven thought from no-thought, which is your own worldview to prove. I have refuted everything you said above.

"No you don’t. You have presupposed these concepts in order to conceptualise an unproven being, the existence of whom is in question, and then you CONCLUDE that this being is necessary for the concepts you have already presupposed."

It is very evident to me that you are incapable of dealing with this subject. We are talking about worldviews, and presuppositions/axiums. God is the necessary presupposition to have humanity and everything as we know it.[i.e. God-did-it] God is the necessary presupposition, who makes rationality, personhood, human dignity and value, morality, moral value judgements, justice, free-choice, beauty, mathematics, life, and even our ability to write back and forth with each other meaningful.[i.e. God-did-it] For God created you and me, Mud did not make you and me, for mud does not think, is not personal, and is not able to create. It is you who is living in an unproven and proven to be a false world. Your imaginary world of matter only[Imaginary? I can see and touch matter. Can you see and touch God?], that you are confessing that even you do not really believe that your world of matter only is the real world. You have been lied to. Your mud world is not real. Every time you writing me back, you have to try to think and reason, which is a slap to materialism. It is proof that you are not a materialist.


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For brevity, I’ll summarise...

1) Rational thought (your words) is not the same as reasoning (my words). You have proven that by your responses. You engage in reasoning but you do this irrationally and come to irrational conclusions (e.g. God exists). Thus, reasoning is axiomatic, but rational thought is not. You might say the same of me, that I am thinking irrationally, but you cannot deny that I am reasoning in some form. So there is no inconsistency on my part, just confusion on yours.

2) Matter has evolved to a state where the complex interconnections in the brain provide a mental representation of reality. Thought and reason have evolved side-by-side with this as way of processing the information taken in from this mental representation. Your denial of this is simply an argument from ignorance as you can’t understand it. And I don’t care a jot what you accept as an argument. It is an established scientific field of inquiry, for which I provided links. This provides both an epistemological and a metaphysical basis for thinking in that it accounts for how and why we think (epistemological), and what the abstract process of thinking is, how it exists and how it arose from matter (and so goes beyond the physical - metaphysical). As I have said, your refusal to accept this account has no bearing on its plausibility.

3) Back to rocks and axioms. You say that “axioms/presuppositions must be meaningful in ones accepted worldview”. My axioms are meaningful in that they are objective, conceptually irreducible, perceptually self-evident, undeniably true and universal. They are meaningful in any 'worldview' I can imagine. I justify my position based on these axioms. You justify yours by a completely circular claim. Your axiom/presupposition that God exists is not objective, conceptu-ally irreducible, perceptually self-evident, undeniably true or universal. The concept of God is so loaded with unjustified assumptions that it is completely subjective. Indeed, you not only try to crowbar ‘God’ in as an axiom with NO justification that isn’t viciously circular, but you attempt to insert your own specific off-shoot of Christianity too. What a joke!

4) In my opinion the evidence does not support the proposition ‘that God exists’. You are free to disagree, but that does not mean you are correct. Oh and I'm still waiting for those formal proofs. Whenever you're ready please present them...

5) Your ‘simple case’ against atheism was
P1: The materialistic worldview of only mindless impersonal amoral matter exist
P2: Humans are not irrational, impersonal, amoral
C: Therefore materialism is a false worldview.

I pointed out a flaw in your second premise in that many humans can be irrational, impersonal and amoral. In fact, your first premise is also untrue as materialism (or similar atheistic 'worldviews') can account for the mind and morals quite easily (but of course you deny this, and keep attacking a strawman). You obviously can’t see why this refutes your conclusion. When you ask “Where in neuroscience proved that matter accounts for non-matter?”, this simply exposes your ignorance of the scientific process.


"I have refuted everything you said above."

HA HA!!!!! Good one. You’re a tryer, I’ll give you that.....


"God is the necessary presupposition to have humanity and everything as we know it. God is the necessary presupposition, who makes rationality, personhood, human dig-nity and value, morality, moral value judgements, justice, free-choice, beauty, mathematics, life, and even our ability to write back and forth with each other meaningful. For God created you and me, Mud did not make you and me, for mud does not think, is not personal, and is not able to create. It is you who is living in an unproven and proven to be a false world. Your imaginary world of matter only, that you are confessing that even you do not really believe that your world of matter only is the real world. You have been lied to. Your mud world is not real. Every time you writing me back, you have to try to think and reason, which is a slap to materialism. It is proof that you are not a materialist."

Wow, that’s a whole pile of wild assumptions and unjustified assertions. Materialism/objectivism/atheistic 'worldviews' can account for all of the above quite nicely. You are confusing the fact that an account exists, with your own refusal to accept the account.

And you still haven’t provided your formal proof that God exists, or that you exist either. What are you scared of? Let’s have them...

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There is just no reason to continue. I will let you have the last words there. later

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Whatever

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[A few days later, Peter piped up again in a response to Paul Baird claiming he had "worked through my arguments". I quote the relevant part below. Note: These exchanges were interspersed by comments from Paul and others]


How does my working through the arguments of rhiggs and showing where he is incapable of answering me, and not worth talking with, run parallel to you running off from a few talks we had where I asked you questions that you just did not write back on? You think that your inability to accounting for logic, or morality and ran from that is the same as my working through the arguments of rhiggs' and pointing out his confusion of metaphysics as epistemology (many other confusions), then giving him the last words, as if that means that I ran from the conversation? Just read the interaction. [...]

You may want to learn about PSA, Only Christianity has the message of God, who became man to lay down his own life for his people. God puts himself in the trap, as if were, as to let his people free. That is the message of PSA. Naturally, naturalism blinds people from the reality of their sins, God, judgment, and even from salvation. That is why I talk with people, hopefully to make them feel uncomfortable about their self confidence in their confessed unbelief. I guess, this could be done by beating people over the head and making them feel stupid, but I think it can also be done gently as well. The problem with the former is that some people would rather bite off their own limb than to show that they lost an argument. Self pride is a huge enemy to truth, yet oddly, it is only by knowing the truth that could set people free.


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[I responded...]

"You may want to learn about PSA..."

Typical patronising response from Peter. If you disagree with him, he assumes that you just need to learn more about his worldview and then all his inconsistencies will be resolved. Ironically, it is he that needs to learn more about reality - actual experiments that have been done in this field of neuroscience that form a plausible 'account' for the origin, nature, methods and limits of knowledge (epistemology) and the relationship between the mind and matter (metaphysics). Indeed, the evolutionary 'account' for abstractions nicely addresses both epistemological and metaphysical concerns. But I didn't just tell him so, I actually briefly gave an explanation and even linked to a few resources for further reading. But no, Peter doesn't accept links, so Peter remains in ignorance and keeps bashing strawmen (e.g. mindless matter). He also claims that I confuse metaphysics and epistemology, even though the former of these has many wide-ranging definitions, and Peter doesn't state what particular definition he is referring to. And what are his epistemological and metaphysical 'accounts' for abstractions? Does he actually have any? All I see are a whole lot of bald assertions that boil down to God-did-it, with no further explanation. I could just as easily say Nature-did-it, and the conversation would be over, but I at least attempted to explain my 'account'.

In the end, I agree with Peter that there was no reason to continue. Not only did he fail to refute my arguments, he failed to demonstrate that he even understood them.

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[Peter then posted a comment along the usual lines of how I haven't answered anything, and he repeated his 'mindless matter and rocks' argument before finishing with: "Supposedly the relationship between mind and matter is metaphysics?"]

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Sorry Peter, you must have wrongly interpreted that my comment was directed towards you, as though I wanted to discuss things further. I have no interest in conversing with someone who is unable to represent their opponent's position correctly, ignores direct questions, and simply shifts goalposts again and again. You also seem to struggle a bit with English and rarely write comprehensible sentences, so perhaps this is why you continually misunderstand my arguments (that is not meant in a nasty way, I'm just stating facts). Either way, I have no interest anymore and feel no obligation to prove anything to you as, by even asking me to prove that "mindless impersonal matter becoming thinking personal matter", you display a profound ignorance of the scientific process.

"Supposedly the relationship between mind and matter is metaphysics?"

Metaphysics: The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value.

I tried to explain that we might simply be using different definitions, but even this wasn't met with a rational response. It seems that Peter just assumes he is always right.

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[Peter than deleted the above comment so that it could no longer be seen. This forced me to clarify me last comment by explaining that Peter had deleted his]

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Peter has deleted his comment. It originally came between my comment, in which I define obtuse at the end, and Paul's comment about a Poe. The quote in my last comment about metaphysics came from his deleted post.



And that's where the merry-go-round ended. Thankfully.

3 comments:

Paul Baird said...

I admire your patience with Peter. I've given up even trying to formulate a response to his gibberish.

PaulJ said...

I admit that I only skimmed this, but I do remember reading it the first time round, and successfully resisting the temptation to jump in. (My own exchanges with Peter eventually taught me the fruitlessness of engaging him: "Head, meet Brick Wall.")

rhiggs said...

Paul B,

I listened to your 2nd debate with Sye. Good job. Will comment in the next few days.


Paul J,

'Head, meet Brick Wall' is a perfect description of engaging with Peter Chen, and Ploughboy for that matter...

I have yet to listen to your podcasts but will do so soon.