31 May, 2010

TAM London 2010

Got my ticket!!

Well, technically have just paid for it online and now have to wait for it to arrive in the mail, but these are minor details...


28 May, 2010

I'm no economist...

...but this graph of Ireland's growth (as a % of GDP) does not look good.

Yep, we're that dodgy-looking green line.

In the words of an acquaintance of mine, who is also an award-winning economist, "here is a good summary of the present situation".


13 May, 2010

Sye deletes, so rhiggs repeats

I was recently looking over some old posts in which Sye TenB blathered about presuppositionalism for a few weeks in the comment section. If you are new to presuppositionalism, read my three part series on the topic - Presuppositionalist Nonsense Parts I II and III.

Having encountered Sye on several occasions, I had come up with a list of questions (with some input from others - mainly SMRT members) that he refused to answer for several months. His reason for not answering the questions was this: "I told you that I would not answer them until those who posed them accounted for the logic necessary to formulate them and the logic necessary to interpret the answers."

This is, of course, nonsense.

Do you account for how your computer works before you turn it on and use it? No.

Do you account for how an aircraft works before you get on it? No.

Similarly, you don't need to account for logic in order to use it.

Anyway, after much persuasion he eventually attempted to answer the questions, and the results were, well, predictably underwhelming.

But now, in an interesting turn of events, it seems that Sye has strangely deleted his answers from the comment section of the original post. Is he embarrased by the ridiculous answers he gave? Who knows? Probably.

But just in case he deleted them by mistake, I've decided to republish the questions, his answers, and my rebuttal below the fold. You're welcome Sye. Enjoy.

1) Explain how these two contradictory quotes of yours are compatible: "Impossibility of the contrary" with respect to your worldview and "I have never claimed that it would be impossible" with respect to a contrary worldview.

Sye: Very simple, I made a general claim with respect to the impossibilityof the contrary, but I did not address his SPECIFIC worldview.

The phrase 'impossibility of the contrary' necessarily excludes any worldview that does not agree with yours. This means that your statement is still contradictory as you have claimed that all contrary worldviews are impossible and then denied that you have claimed a particular one is impossible. LOL

2) You consistently claim that your version of the truth is certain, but seeing as you have agreed in the past that there are people who are certain of truth but are in fact wrong, how can you know that you are not one of these people?

Sye: I have never said that there are people who are certain of the truth, but who are in fact wrong, as that would be impossible.

Hmmm, are you sure? I seem to remember you and Stan talking about this. Let me dig up some past discussions and get back to you. You better be sure!

3) If you discount the validity of personal revelations as a source of truth (the contrary being that any hallucination can be considered as truth), how is it that you were able to arrive at the conclusion that presupposing God's existence is the foundation of rationality, since you wouldn't have been able to judge it to be the correct position without already having accepted it?

Sye: It looks like you do not understand presuppositions. One does not come to the conclusions about presuppositions, they are the basis on which conclusions are formed.

Eh, the conclusion that one does not come to conclusions about presuppositions, is itself a conclusion about presuppositions. It looks like you do not understand conclusions.

4) Give an example of an absolute truth, i.e. a truth that does not require a system in order to exist. When you provide your example, please include how you came to the conclusion that it was a valid example.

Sye: God exists. By His revelation

That's a belief, not a truth. And it is a belief based on a subjective revelation. Nothing absolute about that.

5) What is the evidence that your ability to reason is valid? (Note that the evidence must demonstrate your ability to reason but cannot use reason itself as this would presuppose the very thing you are trying to provide evidence for)

Sye: God’s revelation.

Riiiight! Did you use reason to come to the conclusion that God's revelation is evidence that you can reason reliably? Fail.

6. Provide evidence that your revelation was not from Satan posing as God, or that it wasn't from a computer programmer or that it wasn't just a hallucination. All of these scenarios are possible.

Sye: It is question begging to assume that God could not reveal some things to us such that we can be certain that they are valid, and that the revelations are from Him, therefore this question is invalid.

And the question you claim is being begged also leads onto the following question:

Can an omniscient omnipotent being, if it so desired, reveal something to a fallible human such that the person believes it to be certain, even though it isn't. If not, why not?

7) What absolute standard did you use as your foundation to determine that God is an absolute standard?

Sye: I did not use anything to make this determination, as it is NOT a determination, it is a PRESUPPOSITION.

In other words, you made it up. Also, absolute standards do not need any rationale to become absolute standards. Great!

8) How did you come to the conclusion that God has an unchanging character?

Sye: I did not come to this conclusion, God has revealed it to us.

So you actually came to the conclusion that God has an unchanging character following God's revelation. How did you come to the conclusion that God's revelation doesn't change?

9) How do you know your senses or your extrasensory perception were reliable prior to and at the time of your revelation? If you claim your revelation wasn't sensory or extrasensory but that it was 'innate', how do you justify the assumption that your innate perception is reliable?

Sye: This has nothing to do with the reliability or perceived reliability of my senses, it is my position that God can and does reveal some things to us in such a way that we can be certain of them, no matter our perceptions.

Again, can an omniscient omnipotent being, if it so desired, reveal something to a fallible human such that the person believes it to be certain, even though it isn't. If not, why not?

10) Occasionally, when a tough question arises, instead of answering you respond with a phrase like "you have no basis for that question/claim". If a person has no basis for one claim then he/she also must have no basis for any claim. So why do you answer any questions from anyone with a different worldview, since they never have a basis for their question?

Sye: Cause they [ahem] keep harping on them, and sometimes I choose to expose the fallacy of their position.

Great. Anytime you want to start then...

11) As you have told us, God cannot murder or lie. This means that God is not all powerful or 'omnipotent', since it is conceivable to imagine a God-like deity that could also murder and lie. So, since God is not omnipotent, how can you be sure that he was able to reveal truth with absolute certainty to you?

Sye: Your statement is question begging, and therefore your question is invalid. It is your claim that God must be able to contradict His own nature in order to be omnipotent, not mine.

No, just that he should be able to do anything that is logically possible (your words). Lying and murder are logically possible. Your position implies that humans, since they can lie and murder, are more powerful than God.

12) Consider this claim: an all-knowing entity (e.g. the Invisible Pink Hammer) reveals knowledge to me in such a way that I know it to be certain? Part of this reveation is that your Christian God does not exist. I do not know how this happens, but it is innate and does not require senses or rational thinking. Through these revelations I have found the Truth and have also been told that you are a liar and that your religion is false. Please offer a refutation of this claim. If you cannot, you must concede that this claim is equally as likely to be true as your own, regardless of whether anyone actually believes it.

Sye: I do not offer refutations of claims by people who claim individual revelations with nothing to back up that claim, especially when everything they say prior to, and after their claim, contradicts their claim revealing that they are only putting up a smoke screen. Besides ‘invisible,’ and ‘pink’ are contradictory characteristics, refuting the existence of such an entity.

So you cannot refute the claim then. That's ok, just confirming...

13) Have your senses and reasoning ever let you down? Have you ever misread something or made a mistake (including during childhood)? I imagine even you would admit that it occasionally happens. How do you explain these examples of your senses and reasoning failing you, when you have been gauranteed that they are reliable? Are they only reliable some of the time?

Sye: I have never said that I have been guaranteed that my senses are reliable. It is my claim that God can and does reveal some things to us such that we can be certain of them, no matter the reliability of our senses.

Oh really? Check your response to me here

"I know what I know based on God’s revealtion. I know that my reasoning is trustworthy based on God’s revelation, and I proceed on the expectation that past events will resemble future events based on God’s revelation.

December 15, 2008 7:57 AM"

Consistency isn't one of your strengths, is it? Unless you want to quibble over the difference between reliable and trustworthy, which I'm sure you do...

Your fallible senses and reasoning necessarily mean that your claims to certainty are nonsense.

14) Hey Sye, using your own logic, provide a positive ontology for God. If you cant, why should we trust your logic?

Sye: God is an omniscient, omnipotent, eternal, omnibenevolent, personal spirit.

This was Vagon's question so I'll let Vagon respond.

15) Please provide an example of an absolute truth which is not a systemic truth.

Sye: God exists

Sorry, that's a belief. Not a truth.

16) Seeing that we presuppose that you [Sye] have had a sudden blow to your head which has resulted in brain injury can you provide evidence that you can think rationally?

Sye: The very posing of the question exposes a precommitment to my rationality, else it would be absurd to pose it.

No. It asks a question which you cannot answer without attempting to use rationality. You have made a valiant effort, but your inability to refute the presupposition means that your brain injury is obviously true. Perhaps you didn't understand the question, which would be consistent with your brain injury. In fact, from your answers to all the questions, this is looking increasingly likely...

17) Explain why the qualifiers absolute, universal, and immutable apply to a discussion of logic.

Sye: Because those are undeniable characteristics of logic.

This was Ryk's question so I'll let him respond. (I deny it though)

18) How do you attribute any revelation to an omnipotent omniscient being, when any revelation could come from a source that is neither Omniscient or Omnipotent but simply capable of fooling you.

Sye: It is my position that God can and does reveal some things to us such that we can know them for certain to be true and reliable. It would take intellectual dishonesty to deny this possibility, and question begging to assume its impossibility.

Didn't fancy answering that question directly did you? I don't blame you. That is because it would take intellectual dishonesty to deny this possibility, and question begging to assume its impossibility.

It cancels out your position and you know it. LOL! Whether you admit it or not your position is equally as question begging and can thus be dismissed as invalid.

Don't worry though. I can understand why you refuse to consider this...

And there you have it. A permanent record of Sye's 'answers'. I'm happy to let you, the knowledgeable reader, decide if they are convincing or not...


06 May, 2010

Has the Expelled website been expelled?

I'm sure you have all heard of the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It's a propaganda piece featuring Ben Stein which attempts to link Darwin and evolutionary theory with the Holocaust and promote intelligent design as an alternative.

You can watch it here (active at time of writing).

Well, just after it was released, I used to visit the official Expelled website and interact with others on the comment section of the blog. I hadn't been there in a while so I thought I'd have a look and see what wacky stuff was going on there now.

Well, none, because it doesn't exist anymore.........have a look

Now the fact that it's disappeared is interesting as one of the claims by it's producers was that it would be so successful that it might well beat Michael Moore's Farenheit 911 in terms of opening figures:

Ruloff said the film could top the $23.9-million opening for Michael Moore's polemic against President Bush, "Fahrenheit 9/11," the best launch ever for a documentary.

It seems strange for the website of such an apparently popular and successful movie to just not exist anymore. It can't be due to the 'age' of the movie as it was only made in 2008, and yet the websites for Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine (2002), Farenheit 911 (2004) and Sicko (2007) are all still active.

Nope, this is just a sign of how little interest people had in this complete flop. For more info on the movie and an exposure of the dishonesty of the people behind it, see here.


03 May, 2010

James Randi overdoses on sleeping pills!!!

32 homeopathic sleeping pills, and nothing happens...



01 May, 2010

More musings on presuppositionalism

Following a discussion which started here and ended up here, I have had a few more thoughts on the presuppositionalist position. If you are unfamiliar with presuppositionalism I suggest you start here.

I'm going to address three presuppositionalist claims in turn. (Sorry if the following is a bit slapdash but a lot of it has been copied and pasted from my comments at the threads linked to above and is very train-of-thought-ish)

1) God being the source of logic/truth is the presuppositionalist's original presupposition.

Claiming that this is the original presupposition is clearly flawed from the start. For example, how can you presuppose that God is the source of anything prior to presupposing that God exists? Surely they must presuppose that God exists first, and so their claim is already defunct. But even that presupposition, God existing, would not be their original one.

In order to presuppose anything, one must first presuppose several other things, including logic and truth. Any presupposition that is claimed to take precedent over presupposed logic and truth can be dismissed as both illogical and false, due to the absence of presupposed logic and truth.

Put simply, without first presupposing logic and truth, the claim that 'God is the source of logic and truth' is the same as the claim that 'God is not the source of logic and truth'.

It means nothing.

Think about it. How can something be true in the absence of truth, or logical in the absence of logic?

Importantly, this argument is not affected by the reality of the situation. For example, even if we grant that God is the source of logic and truth (which we don't, of course, but bear with me), claiming that this is your original presupposition is still fallacious for the reasons outlined above. Thus, the presuppositionalist's position is fallacious, regardless of what the truth actually is.

Logic exists. Any attempt to prove the opposite must use logic, thus making logic an axiom.

Same for truth and knowledge. Try and disprove them without using them in the disproof. Impossible!

The concept of God is not an axiom because a potential disproof of God would obviously not rely on the existence of God

So you see I don't need God to account for logic (it is axiomatic), but on the contrary, you need logic to account for God. If you disagree that you need logic to account for God, then this automatically makes your account for God illogical, by virtue of the fact that you are not initially presupposing logic.

2) Christian presuppositionalists have a source of absolute knowledge.

Presuppositionalists often claim that they have a source of absolute knowledge. It's a defensive mechanism they use to get out of answering difficult questions. Essentially, it's like saying: "I don't know, but I know a guy who does".

But, of course, when pressed on this source of absolute knowledge, the details are very vague. For example they never seem to be able to access this absolute knowledge if you ask them an answerable question. So it's a bit inaccurate to claim to have a source of absolute knowledge if you don't have access to it. Unless you can tap it at any time, then you actually don't have a source of absolute knowledge.

Secondly, since all knowledge of God comes from Scripture, this means that everything there is to be known must be found in Scripture (for that is what absolute knowledge is - literally everything).

Including, for example, a list of Best Movie awards from the Oscars, and the proof of Fermat's last theorem. If this information isn't in there somewhere, then Scripture does not contain absolute knowledge, meaning the claim of a presuppositionalist that they have a source to such knowledge is wrong.

If a presuppositionalist's response to this is that 'source of absolute knowledge' means just 'God has absolute knowledge', then so what? You just believe in a smart guy. Big deal.

3) Christian presuppositionalists have a basis to expect the uniformity of nature.

A major tenent of presuppositionalism is the claim that their worldview has a basis for expecting the future to be like the past. That is, they can induce what will happen in the future by observing what has happened in the past - induction. This is also known as the uniformity of nature.

As Greg Bahnsen, a famous presuppositionalist, says:

Which worldview may reasonably expect that causal connections function uniformly throughout the universe or that the future will be like the past?

Well, certainly not the Christian worldview. One word - miracles.

If God can literally turn water into wine, then a Christian can never know for sure that the water they are about to drink will remain water. Pretty much anything can be turned into anything else at the whim of an omnipotent God, so Christians have no reason or basis to expect uniformity.