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Reason and the First Person -- a serious problem with this argument for theism

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, the final for chapter 19, can be found here.]

[This entry constitutes Chapter 20. While I'll recap relevant issues below, I definitely recommend being familiar with the case so far. A 25 page summary (from a couple of different directions, including one of supreme importance to me) of the 125 pages of discussion and analysis in this Section, up to now, can be found starting here.]


One of the key points to my past few chapters is that philosophies can be broken down into two mutually exclusive categories--atheisms, and not-atheisms--and that if one of those general branches requires a contradiction of the Golden Presumption, then it should be deducted from the option list. Using this strategy, I pared off atheism, leaving the branches of 'not-atheism' for further scrutiny.

However, there is a potential problem looming: would the same tactic also deduct not-atheisms from the option list?

Does the pro…

Saying Grace (2010)

This is a repost (and slight updating) of an article (sermon, homily, whatever {g}) that I wrote on Thanksgiving 2007 for the Cadre.

The original article and its subsequent discussion (on a couple of topics) can be found here.


•••••••

“Would you say grace?” someone in my family will ask, to an elder before a family meal--a meal such as Thanksgiving, for instance.

Of course what they mean is, “Would you give thanks?” But the phrase in English could be more accurately translated, “Would you say ‘grace’?” In our language, ‘grace’ derives from the same Latin root as Spanish ‘gracias’ or Italian ‘grazie’. Strictly speaking our English word traces back to a Middle English translation of an Old French translation of the Latin {gra_tia} (the long ‘a’ being represented by an underscore here): favor, gratitude, agreeableness. The attitude expressed is one of actively receiving love, in fair-togetherness.

In New Testament Greek, however, the word that is typically Englished as ‘grace’ does not have t…

If Only "A Wave Of Reason" Really Would Sweep Across the World

By the way, do popular apologists for atheism have a high opinion of their own reasoning ability?

Does the Pope wear a tall hat? {g}

Answer: sometimes. When it's convenient. And not, when not.

In the video linked above, though, very much triumphantly in favor of human reasoning, especially theirs. (None of the proponents featured in the video are well-known for their responses to theistic arguments from reason, unsurprisingly. Including the formal deductive version I've been discussing here for the past several weeks.)

The Kodachi (Part 5 of 5) -- A Conclusion That Begins

[Note: for Part 4 of this auxiliary series, click here.]


Hey!--where did all that 'true love' stuff go??

It's still around.

I believe God exists, because I believe in myself. And because I believe in her, whom I truly love. Whether or not she believes God exists, I still believe in her.

Admittedly, I knew this principle long before I met her. But still--you might manage to browbeat me somehow into believing I do not exist.

You will never succeed in convincing me that she does not exist!--that she is not a real person; that she does not make her own choices; that I should not treasure those choices, treasure her, for being her and being real.

I believe in God, because I refuse to disbelieve in her. Ever.

Even if she does not believe in God.

The same goes for you, my reader. I am writing this book for you to judge--not for you to knee-jerk react to.

I believe in God, because I refuse to disbelieve in you.

Even if you do not believe in God.


Wait! Am I saying atheists don't truly lov…

The Kodachi (Part 4 of 5) -- I Am A I

[Note: for Part 3 of this auxiliary series, click here.]


Okay, admittedly, if I go up to an atheist-on-the-street and I ask what her core belief is, as an atheist, she will probably say: "I don't believe God exists".

She will probably not say: "I believe the Final Fact is only reactive."

Nor is she likely to say this, if I press her on what it means for God to not-exist.

What she will probably come down to, sooner or later, is: "I don't believe a Person exists Who made the world or does anything else."

If I ask her whether she is a person, however, she will probably say: "Yes."

In fact, she is likely to say: "Of course!"

If she is being especially reflective, she might say: "I don't know."

She will probably not say: "I am not a person"--unless she is devotedly following a metaphysic that teaches her she is not a person.

But even philosophers who consider themselves to be nothing in the zero sum, or who consider t…

The Kodachi (Part 3 of 5) -- Atheism, Theism, and Artificial Intelligence

[Note: for Part 2 of this auxiliary series, click here.]


There are two mutually exclusive branches to all possible metaphysics: atheism, and not-atheism.

Assuming, of course, I refuse to accept the reality of contradictions. (And assuming I have already been dealing with proposals of multiple Independent Facts, such as I do in this main SttH chapter.)

But I refuse to accept contradictions as being real; because otherwise my own thinking would be totally unreliable on any subject--including the subject of real contradictions. (If contradictions are possibly real, then 'are' may also mean 'are not', and so the statement becomes meaningless, either as a proposal or as a conclusion.)

So: atheism, or not-atheism.

There are numerous types of not-atheism; and there are numerous types of atheism. Philosophical discussions today tend to focus on one or another type of atheism.

But I think it makes more sense to start with the basic category first. Is atheism possible? If it is, then …

The Kodachi (Part 2 of 5) -- Reductions and Absurdities

[Note: for Part 1 of this auxiliary series, click here.]

There are certainly some scholars, past and present, who would say that true love is basically drivel.

There are no scholars, past or present, who can consistently say that their own thinking is basically drivel.

There are some scholars (past, and especially present), who do propose that 'human thinking' per se is essentially drivel. Yet they don't propose their own theories, as thinking humans, concerning 'human thinking', are essentially drivel. On the contrary, they would prefer that we judge their own theories as coming from responsible humans who are actively discerning truth.

Furthermore, they usually (and quite charitably, although inconsistently) presume we judgers are capable of more than essential drivel, to be able to do this--for their theories.

Go back and read the first part of the Kodachi again. Or (if you can wade through it!) anything I’ve already written in SttH. I am not doing anything different…

The Kodachi (Part 1 of 5) -- The Argument From True Love

There is a drawback to writing a book with 700 pages worth of comprehensive discussion:

It may not be very comprehensible!

It still might not be very comprehensible even if we’re only talking about 125 of those pages--which is about how far I’ve gotten in Section Two of Sword to the Heart so far.

So before I continue posting up chapters from that Section (and onward through the book), from now until Thanksgiving I thought I would try presenting the precepts I’ve been talking about once again, in a somewhat briefer and more colorful way--and maybe (hopefully!) in a way our readers will find more meaningful. Or at least easier to read.

These auxiliary chapters are taken from just such a shorter book I wrote years ago, after finishing SttH. Which is why I called it “The Kodachi”: a shorter quicker sword. (A hundred pages quicker in this case!)


Where should I begin, in summarizing a massive argument? Not only in summarizing, but in making it more accessible to people less concerned with techni…

Some beliefs are more equal than others, apparently... {g}

Hat-tip to Dr. Platypus:



I'm curious to know if anyone has Deepak's followup to this. Maybe the guy in the audience misunderstood what it means for all beliefs to be masks for insecurities? Context would be appreciated!

I discussed the type of special-pleading belief-solvency the guy in the audience is complaining about in principle, a few hundred pages ago here in this SttH entry. To which I have now added this YouTube clip toward the end. {g} Even if the guy misunderstood or took Deepak's position out of context, he still illustrates the correct rebuttal to a bit of popular New Age pseudo-profound bunk.


UPDATE: that zippy little exchange was apparently given (so I've been told) during an ABC Nightline debate on the existence of Satan. I have no idea where it occurs yet, or the context, but here are the 10 parts (apparently longer than the edited version actually broadcast on Nightline) I found at YouTube, archived by HHTraylor, for anyone willing to plow through it and …

Reason and the First Person -- the theistic argument from active reasoning (3 of 3)

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, the second for chapter 19, can be found here.]

[This entry concludes chapter 19, "The Theistic Argument from Active Reasoning".]


19.) I could sheerly assert, that the proposition 'actions can be produced by an ultimately reactive reality' is not self-contradictory. But what use is it to assert this? I can assert 'the moon is made of green cheese' or 'there is a God' just as easily. Why make that assertion?


20.) My mere say-so doesn't make the assertion true; it is not a necessary presumption for logical disputation, either. The vast bulk of evidence I find in Nature seems to lead to the conclusion that a reactively or non-rationally produced behavior is at least usually non-rational or reactive; further leading to the question of why my behaviors should be (or even can be) considered rational or active instead; and this question cannot in principle be answered without beg…

Reason and the First Person -- the theistic argument from active reasoning (2 of 3)

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, the first for chapter 19, can be found here.]

[This entry continues chapter 19, "The Theistic Argument from Active Reasoning".]


15.) This leaves, on the atheism side, the proposition that a fully automatic system can produce behaviors which are themselves non-automatic.


16.) This proposition entails, that even though true action capability (such as what I must presume you and I have) exists now, it did not always exist. The reactive process has brought into existence (eventually, having gotten into the correct configurations) active abilities. Against a primary sceptical threat, which necessarily calls into formal question the presumption we make in favor of (at least) the possibility of our own rational competency, can this proposition be a defense?


17.) The attempt to justify the proposition breaks down on the same problem as proposing that no active ability whatsoever exists.

To explain how reactio…

Reason and the First Person -- the theistic argument from active reasoning (1 of 3)

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, the last for chapter 18, can be found here.]

[This entry starts chapter 19, "The Theistic Argument from Active Reasoning".]


My previous two chapters not only continued my line of argumentation, but also (in their own way) summarized, and illustrated through practical applications, the points of my argument, in an imaginary informal debate.

Dialogues, however, although useful in some ways, are not formal arguments; and as these second-section chapters are perhaps the most critical in my entire book, I will take one more chapter to summarize and re-present the argument yet again, before continuing with my inferences.

My argument can be developed from several directions, although the final result is the same in each case. As even now I am still not sure which 'beginning point' is best, I have presented slightly different variations for each run-through; and I will do this again here.

I find mysel…