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A metaphysical argument against objectivism

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We would have to go back the drawing board. But there is no evidence against the Doppler Effect. In fact the overwhelming prepoderance of evidence supports it.

Bob,

There's no evidence against the life model, either. In fact, since this form exists all around us, the overwhelming prepoderance of evidence supports that one, too.

Something that looks like balls do not a man make.

They have to be real balls.

Michael

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Actually, right now "observations" tell us that more distant galaxies are measured to have more of a red shift in their colour spectrum. This is the single point Big Bang is based on. Everything else is interpretation, theory and prediction. Apparently, only one interpretation and theory is deemed fit for consideration. Other perspectives are not worthy of serious consideration or exploration other than to look for weakness and fault. It is interesting to see the skew in approach to different stories. Big Bang theory is right til proven wrong. All others are wrong til proven right.

Paul,

I know you have wanted to go into story--and, I promise to open a good thread on it when I have time--but for now, I will give some small glimpses of some of my thinking and study.

What you see with the attitude you mentioned above is an adherence to a core story toward the public much like any religion does. The believer has to keep some semblance of objectivity toward others in his relationships. That is where reason comes in. But story-wise, he has his biases and they show in his selective application of reason. Meaning, his core story "is right til proven wrong [and] all others are wrong til proven right."

But that's with others. What about the core story scientists tell themselves? I believe it goes deeper than the big bang. I believe it goes to the issue of mathematics being a core fundamental element of the universe. A primal stuff in itself, so to speak. An origin and final destruction story, all embedded in a system we can use for practical purposes.

The alpha and omega is an equation.

What happens when scientists tell stories to themselves based on that story?

Well, look at the crazy theories they tolerate as reasonable, culminating in the weird notion of parallel universes and consciousness as an illusion. And look at their hostility to reasonable theories when someone's core story is different than theirs.

I believe their actions and reactions echo the way story works in mankind. Since scientists are people, they are not immune to the human condition.

There is a great book on story--one of the handful of extremely important books I have read recently, albeit I have not finished reading this one. It is called Stealing Fire from the Gods: The Complete Guide to Story for Writers and Filmmakers (2nd Edition) by James Bonnet.

His theory is based a little too heavily on Carl Jung for my comfort, but his outline of how story evolved is spot on. And he focuses on the parallel between the workings of the human mind and the different story elements as one of the main psychological drives in humans creating and telling stories. For example, treasures a person gets in a story symbolize treasures of insights in the subconscious. That kind of thing.

He mentioned that story worked in oral fashion for most of human history. Yet, when one person tells a story to another, and that person tells it to someone else, the story always changes in some manner. It's like that gossip game where people telephone a story to a another person in a chain of people, then they compare the initial story to the end one. It's always totally different.

Thus, according to Bonnet, the oral stories that survived and were finally written down and printed, had been recast and polished so many millions, if not billions, of times through oral retelling that each one reflected the most universal grains of psychological truth possible up to being written down. This is why they are so powerful, even today.

He noted that taking things to the fantasy level is a general tendency over time, not because people don't believe in reality, but because the fantasy images better reflect inner psychological truths. This is, to him, how religions survive despite their totally implausible miracle stories. People fudge a bit between psychological reality and external rational reality because they experience both. It is impossible to consciously experience one without the other.

And story bridges this quite nicely.

Thus, things you need to imagine in order to make a potentially dangerous choice in the reality right in front of you gets a lot easier if you have a story to refer to. You know what went wrong in the story, so you can imagine what will go wrong in reality if you do what happened in the story. Thus you do things differently and get a better result. (Or vice-versa, depending on the outcomes in the story.)

You can also find places in story to fit the eternal questions of who we are, why we exist, who the others are around us, why we have to die, and so on. If you don't find a place to put those questions on hold, at least temporarily, you will shut down in a depression.

Enter story. A core story will give you a beginning, a middle and an end. Even if it is not true, the beginning, middle and an end part are relatable to what we humans experience enough with life that you can set the hard questions aside long enough to concentrate on surviving, procreating, learning and creating new stuff. But story only starts there. It holds many secrets that we all need and use with its metaphors, archetypes and plot lines.

(Note - some of this is my thinking. Bonnet holds that story reveals to us some hidden wisdom from a collective unconscious--which could be our very DNA--that we lost somehow and need to recover. I can fit the DNA stuff into my view, but that losing and finding hidden collective wisdom is something hard to swallow if we are talking about all individuals. I believe the real deal is more in line with another idea he presented--helping us to grow and age. As he points out, when we grow, we suffer drastic biological and mental changes every few years. We humans automatically HATE to change on a fundamental level, especially if we have a good thing going. That's prewired in our brains. Story helps us through those changes, especially ones we have no choice about going through. Now I buy that part.

I mention this because even though Bonnet has a a premise or two I disagree with, this book simply rocks. Right when I thought I knew something about story from all my study of neuroscience, cults, linguistics and different story methods, this guy came along and turned it all upside down for me. Or I should say, is turning it since I am only on Chapter 8 or so. And I am very grateful to him for doing that. Incidentally, I am only scratching the surface of Bonnet's insights in this post.)

I digress a bit to give you some of the richness of this work. But here is the passage that came to mind when thinking about scientists (from "Chapter 4: How The Old Great Stories Were Created"):

Alexander The Great is another good subject to study in this regard because there is both a good historical record in the West as well as a rich tradition of legends in the East. In the West there are no real legends because there was always the real historical record standing as a reference to contradict them. But in the fabulous East, in places like India and Persia, where there was no historical record, he entered the oral tradition and all manner of fanciful and legendary stories evolved -- "Alexander Searches for the Fountain of Youth," "Alexander Explores the Bottom of the Sea," and so on. These legendary stories, shaped and molded by these unconscious processes, contain the hidden wisdom we spoke of which the history does not. The historical record reveals reality, the legends that evolved in, and were sculpted by, the oral traditions contain the hidden, inner truth. The Fountain of Youth, for instance, like the goose that lays golden eggs, is another "manifestation in image form" ( metaphor) of the lost potential. And Alexander's legendary adventures, like Jack's, are treasure maps that can, if followed, lead to it's recovery.

King Arthur is another interesting case. Many scholars believe that this legendary English king was evolved from a real general named Arturis. General Arturis lived in the 5th century A.D. and won ten consecutive battles against the Saxons before he was finally killed. If these scholars are correct, then after only five or six hundred years in the oral tradition this real general Arturis had been transformed into the legendary King Arthur who wielded a magic sword named Excalibur, consorted with a sorcerer named Merlin, founded Camelot, established the Round Table, and sent his chivalrous knights on a quest for the Holy Grail. And, here again, like The Iliad and Jack and the Beanstalk, the legends surrounding King Arthur have a great deal to tell us about our inner selves, our vast potential, and our true destinies, while the brief historical record of General Arturis has probably had very little effect on any of our lives.

If you can look past that recovering hidden wisdom part, there is a mouthful here. Basically, when we humans repeat stories to each other and are not encumbered by hard facts, we change them through the natural process of the telephone chain, and we tend to turn them into fantasy, or at least, situations and people with highly unreal and exaggerated characteristics. What's more, these unreal parts become polished over time to reflect inner psychological truths (or states or whatever).

Now look what scientists have done based on a core story that has no validation. Over time, they have repeated certain assumptions from their core story to themselves so much that they no longer question them. Enter someone like Rupert Sheldrake and the parts of his work that could be debunked through experiment and so forth are not. The scientists are too busy yelling and laughing to do any serious thinking. Yet you take one assumption Sheldrake questioned, that the amount of energy and matter in the universe is constant, and all hell breaks loose when you question it.

It's far easier to worship the God of Eternal Math and make up shit about black energy than simply observe reality and question the core story. Especially when, in the core story, you are one of the good guys who is supposed to question stuff and keep a mind open to evidence--and everyone who does not adhere to the story is a bad guy who rejects logic and human reason. (I'm not saying Sheldrake is right or wrong. I'm merely pointing out what happens with human beings when a core story is challenged with heresy--even with scientists.)

Because the East had no historical records of Alexander the Great, they got great stories while the West got dry history. Well, because science has no empirical challenge to some of its core assumptions and they are simply taken on faith because they fit a core story, I believe we are getting some great derivative stories instead of hard facts.

And it is perfectly human to do that.

I need to think about what value and metaphorical references parallel universes, denial of consciousness, dark energy and so on provide in relation to the subconscious, but I have no doubt they bring great comfort to the scientists who tell these stories and to those who listen. These stories giver their lives some meaning.

(Also, I see a HUGE potential for sci-fi and fantasy movies in them. :smile: )

Michael

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Objectivism believes that man is inherently an individum, and a creature fit for independence.

But, since a human being could never survive on his own (we are all born babies), it shows that connection with other human beings is a primary condition of existence. Therefore, man, is primarily a dependent entity, not an independent one.

Second, objectivists argue that "a right to have clothes, shelter and food" is not a right. But, without these survival is impossible, therefore the need to have clothes, shelter and food is in the nature of man. This is part of what makes the whole concept of rights possible.

Since life is a primary concept, and it is possible to speak of our actions only if we do have a life at all, whatever is necessary to protect our life is morally right, even if it comes at the expense of other human beings.

i think you dont get it...

the best example of objectivism working is capitalism..

and capitalism works..

objectivism is about COOPERATION instead of sacrifice..

people out of self interest want to make money, so they start business, which create jobs, which in turn have to provide goods which benefit otehrs at a price with which they will be bought.. others buy the goods, while paying back everybody with a profit who works there

the workers win

the buyers win

its about fair trade

nobody has to sacrifice shit

nobody has to live in isolation

as far as simple small exchanges.. hooking a friend up with a free cheeseburger etc..

objectivism has no beef against that.. because assuming you make more than a few hundred bucks a month

3$ isnt exactly self sacrifice assuming you dotn make a serious habit of it.. which thenw ould be immoral under objectivist ethics since you would be self sacrificing.. even Ayn Rand speaks of this in her lexicon speaking of a value-benefit tradeoff.. saying for example.. putting your life in danger for a random person, or someone whos relationship with you do not really value, is immoral and shows a lack of self esteem, putting your life in danger for somebody who s relationship to you you value highly such as a loved one, who you cannot live happily without.. is not neccesarly immoral.. its the value - benefit tradeoff of self sacrifice.. and also she goes .. assuming they DESERVE it.. such as.. a small gift is ok.. a large gift to somebody whos relationship you highly value and genuinely wish to give to is ok.. a degree of self sacrifice to help a person very close who matters much to your happiness who is truly helpless and struggling is ok.. a degree of self sacrifice to a person who may be close, but simply does not want to work and wants to live off your back out of their laziness and for their ease.. is NOT ok.... ayn rand actually says this stuff herself.. read the virtue of selfishness and her lexicon

i think any form of giving is TECHNICALLY self sacrifice.. since you are giving..

i separate it a little bit

i define the definition between "statistically significant self sacrifice" and "statistically insignificant self sacrifice"

the former being altruism.. the latter simply being "giving"..

i have no problem with the latter.. and if you look closely at the ayn rand lexiccon.. she doesnt really have a problem with it either.. although states it as entirely otpional and non obligatory.. and a cost benefit trade off of values vs personal gain

same with gratitude

gratitude is nto self sacrifice

but simply a delayed transaction

and therefore is fully moral

none of this requires social isolation or deprivation.. your really think ayn rand hasnt thought of all this stuff already?

freely giving with an unspoken expectation of return.. is actually not virtue at all.. but is called a "hidden contract".. or basically a form of passive agressive behavior.. whereas you never say anything.. but if the other person doesnt start giving back you will get mad at him.. even you never made it clear you want anything back..

therefore if you are to give freely.. you cannot expect anything in return.. therefore this whole "give and you shall recieve, what goes around comes around" bullshit is just that.. bullshit

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That was part of a struggle against the Church, which had a political as well as religious agenda.

Science and Religion are very different. Science is about the world as it actually is and Religion is about God Knows What. If you want to call that tension and opposition a war, then do so. If it is a war, it is the war between Faith and Reason.

Medieval Christendom has had a bad press for a long time, it's a myth that there was no science in the middle ages worth mentioning and that the church held back whatever advances were made. The idea that there is an inevitable conflict between faith and reason owes much to the work of 19th propagandists Thomas Huxley and John William Draper. Draper wrote the hugely influential History of the Conflict between Religion and Science, which cemented the conflict hypothesis in the public imagination (see Conflict Thesis).

The denigration of the Middle Ages began as long ago as the 16th Century, when humanists (who were the intellectual trendsetters of the time), started to champion classical Greek and Roman literature. They cast aside medieval scholarship on the grounds that it was convuluted and written in "barbaric" Latin. The result was that people stopped reading and studying it. The cudgels were subsequently taken up by the philosophers Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke. These Protestant writers (and others later, such as Voltaire) were determined not to give any credit to Catholics, it suited them to maintain that nothing of value had been taught in the universities before the reformation.

Futhermore, and contrary to popular belief, the Church never supported the idea that the earth is flat, never banned human dissection, never banned zero, and certainly never burnt anyone at the stake for scientific ideas. True, it was decided that philosophical speculation should not impinge on theology, and there were certain limits beyond which these speculations should not go, but most of the stories about how the Church held back science are myths that arose after the middle ages had ended.

Actually, there was no "struggle against the church". The main scientific institution of the Middle Ages was the university, and although these were mainly intended to educate the higher clergy, they also provided a home for natural philosophers. Many theologians also wrote important works on natural philosophy and they considered the subject an essential part of their training. The starting point for all natural philosophy at that time was that nature had been created by God. This made it a legitimate area of study because through nature, man could learn about his creator. Medieval scholars thought that nature followed the rules that God had ordained for it, and because God was consistent and not capricious, these natural laws were constant and worth scrutinising. However, these scholars rejected Aristotle's contention that the laws of nature were bound by necessity - God was not constrained by what Aristotle thought, therefore the only way to find out what God had decided on was by experience and observation.

This motivation and justification of the medievals was carried over almost unchanged by the pioneers of modern science. Newton explicitly stated that he was investigating God's creation, which was a religious duty because nature reflects the creativity of its maker.

Before reading Feser's book, I pretty much had the same idea as you; I thought that there were no rational grounds for believing - it was a matter of blind faith (based on wishful thinking, perhaps). I discovered that there are in fact, good reasons for believing in a God (not necessarily the Christian God, but some kind of creator), and the premises of these arguments invoke no supernatural entities and no revelation is required, just a few almost self-evident propositions. I'm not about to convert, but I do see how rational, intelligent people could be convinced.

The usual explanation you hear from atheists is that believers are deluding themselves; it's comforting and consoling to believe in a God who looks after us, an afterlife etc. The trouble is, an explanation isn't an argument, and a personal motive isn't a logical reason (the Genetic fallacy). But as Feser points out, atheists have their motives too:

It is true that a fear of death, a craving for cosmic justice, and a desire to see our lives as meaningful can lead us to want to believe that we have immortal souls specially created by a God who will reward us or punish us for our deeds in this life. But it is no less true that a desire to be free of traditional moral standards, and fear of certain (real or imagined) political and social consequences of the truth of religious belief, can also lead us to want to believe that we are just clever animals with no purpose to our lives other than the purposes we choose to give them, and that there is no cosmic judge who will punish us for disobeying an objective moral law. Atheism, like religion, can often rest more on a will to believe than on dispassionate rational arguments. Indeed, as the philosopher C.F.J.Martin has pointed out, the element of divine punishment - traditionally understood in the monotheistic religions as a sentence of eternal damnation in Hell - shows that atheism is hardly less plausibly motivated by wishful thinking than theism is. For while it is hard to understand why someone would want to believe that he is in danger of everlasting hellfire, it is not at all hard to see why one would desperately not want to believe this.

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But as Edward Feser argues in The Last Superstition, in fact there is not, and never has been, any war between science and religion at all.

What about the Creationist attacks on the theory of Evolution?

I discovered that there are in fact, good reasons for believing in a God (not necessarily the Christian God, but some kind of creator), and the premises of these arguments invoke no supernatural entities and no revelation is required, just a few almost self-evident propositions.

Could you post these propositions here for the discussion? TIA.

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Xray,

I would urge you to read The Last Superstition, which lays the necessary groundwork for understanding the "proofs" for the existence of God, otherwise, they're likely to seem not very impressive at all. As Feser says in TLS -

The conflict, then, is not over any actual results or discoveries of science, but rather over the more fundamental philosophical question of what sort of results or discoveries will be allowed to count as "scientific" in the first place. In particular, it is a war between, on the one hand, what I have called the classical philosophical vision of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, and on the other hand, the naturalistic orthodoxy of contemporary secularism, whose premises derive from modern philosophers like the ones mentioned above [Descartes, Hobbes, Hume, Locke and Kant].

As we shall see, the radical differences between these world views with respect to what at first glance might seem fairly abstruse questions of metaphysics - the relationship between the universal and the particular, form and matter, substance and attributes, the nature of cause and effect, and so forth - in fact have dramatic repercussions for religion, morality, and even politics. It is only when the results of modern science are interpreted in naturalistic metaphysical terms that they can be made to seem incompatible with traditional religious belief, and it is only when modern naturalistic metaphysical assumptions are taken for granted, and the classical alternatives neglected, that the philosophical arguments for the traditional religious worldview (e.g. for the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the natural law conception of morality) can be made to seem problematic. By ignoring the challenge posed by the classical philosophical worldview, and distorting its key ideas and arguments on those rare occasions when it is taken account of at all, secularism maintains its illusory status as the rational default position. Prominent naturalists like the New Atheists are sure to "win" the public debate with their traditional religious critics every time, with the general public unaware that the game is being played with metaphysically loaded dice.

Of course, you may end up rejecting the classical philosophical worldview (and the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics), but it's not easy to reject because it so much accords with common sense. Materialism (which is the dominant "religion" in the world today), has earned its position largely because it's been so fruitful for science in the last few centuries. But as a philosophical worldview, it really sucks (by that I mean it's incoherent).

Also, it's worth mentioning that Objectivism rejects materialism; it holds that the world and consciousness exist. One of the issues I have with O'ism is its woefully inadequate metaphysics. Rand rejected Aristotle's view that "essences" are metaphysical rather than epistemological, but it's not clear to me how, or whether, this view of essences (as epistemological) impacts Aristotle's argument for the existence of God (The so-called "Prime Mover"). The notion of a prime mover depends rather on Aristotle's "act and potency" and the four causes. Rand's contention was that Aristotle's metaphysics included a "mystical" element (namely the view of essences as metaphysical), but if this has no effect on the Prime Mover argument, then why should she have rejected God?

Anyway, you can get summaries of Aquinas' "Five Ways" here, but IMO you should read TLS first.

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Davy,

I'd like to offer a proper rebuttal but I'm lacking enough information to do so. For example, which God(s) are you suggesting are real?

Sadly the gentlemen you quoted left that detail out, and with over 3000+ God(s) created by various cultures in earth's history it would help greatly if you could narrow down with one(s) we are discussing here. You did briefly touch upon Aristotle who left it ambiguous (An unidentified Prime Mover) or Aquinas who justified the Christian God(s) but I get the implication that you are following their methodology, not necessarily their conclusion.

Further, if you are disputing O'ist metaphysics is it in the fact you think it mis-categorizes something? It is inadequate in what it covers? You have an issue with the Law of Identity?

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Davy,

I'd like to offer a proper rebuttal but I'm lacking enough information to do so. For example, which God(s) are you suggesting are real?

Sadly the gentlemen you quoted left that detail out, and with over 3000+ God(s) created by various cultures in earth's history it would help greatly if you could narrow down with one(s) we are discussing here. You did briefly touch upon Aristotle who left it ambiguous (An unidentified Prime Mover) or Aquinas who justified the Christian God(s) but I get the implication that you are following their methodology, not necessarily their conclusion.

Further, if you are disputing O'ist metaphysics is it in the fact you think it mis-categorizes something? It is inadequate in what it covers? You have an issue with the Law of Identity?

The Hindus have 6 billion gods. When they have named them all the world will end.

See -The Nine Billion Names of God- by Arthur C. Clarke.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Davy,

I'd like to offer a proper rebuttal but I'm lacking enough information to do so. For example, which God(s) are you suggesting are real?

Sadly the gentlemen you quoted left that detail out, and with over 3000+ God(s) created by various cultures in earth's history it would help greatly if you could narrow down with one(s) we are discussing here. You did briefly touch upon Aristotle who left it ambiguous (An unidentified Prime Mover) or Aquinas who justified the Christian God(s) but I get the implication that you are following their methodology, not necessarily their conclusion.

Further, if you are disputing O'ist metaphysics is it in the fact you think it mis-categorizes something? It is inadequate in what it covers? You have an issue with the Law of Identity?

The Hindus have 6 billion gods. When they have named them all the world will end.

See -The Nine Billion Names of God- by Arthur C. Clarke.

Ba'al Chatzaf

I thought they were akin to spirits of those who really, really behaved themselves?

Ah well, now this just confuses things even more. We have 6,000,003,001+ Gods to consider, more Gods then people!

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Feser is a Catholic, but even if you're an atheist (as I am) you can't fail to be impressed by the force of the arguments.

I'm an ex-Catholic.

Catholicism is a dogmatic religion based on the premise of original sin. Feser is, by his own words, "a traditinal Roman Catholic". http://edwardfeser.blogspot.de/

The first question I'd ask him would be "You really believe in original original sin? If yes, why?"

For if the premise doesn't stand up scrutiny (which it can't in that case, give the very nature of the claim: for neither a Bible text nor a church dogma can qualify as evidence), all subsequent attempts to then 'prove' this god's existence will become even more futile (all attempts to prove any god's existence must necessarily fail because conducting proof is impossible here).

Also, it's worth mentioning that Objectivism rejects materialism; it holds that the world and consciousness exist.

Objectivism does not reject materialism. The contrary is the case: Objectivism holds that consciousness cannot exist apart from a material substrate. Hence Objectivism rejects all thinking that is based on the the primacy of consciousness, like e. g.

assertions of the type which Deepak Chopra made in War of the Worldviews: "the state of procreation thinks itself into becoming the Universe". (DC, War of the Worldviews, p. 75).

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Is dark matter and dark energy "God Knows What"?

:smile:

Michael

A bad name unfortunately. It is about how space itself expends. The dark part is that little is understood within the domain of contemporary physics. But this is not a new situation. When Isaac Newton figured out a nifty descriptor of gravity, little was known about electricity and magnetism. In due course this was figured out, and the science of electrodynamics emerged. William Gilbert who wrote the first major work on magnetism described what we know call the magnetic field, as a "magnetic spirit".

Well, the universe is not only expanding, but expanding faster and faster. Eventually we will either go extinct or figure out how.

Ba'al Chatzaf

From an article on The 'Big Rip' Theory:

http://io9.com/59191...ld-end-in-tears

But if there's enough dark energy in the universe, it could keep expanding indefinitely, leading to the Big Rip.

According to this theory, the universe's rate of expansion would increase over time. This is sort of like a kid on a tricycle careening down a 100-mile-long-hill without brakes. At one point in the future, the expansion would cause galaxies to separate, then planets, and eventually, individual atoms. This separation, a "ripping" of planets and atoms, leaves the universe entirely devoid of structure.

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In my limited life experience I have found Objectivism more in line with what is "real", "true", and "factual" than any other philosophy. Granted, I am not a pure Randite, but I still think she has gotten closer to the laws of nature than any philosopher.

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Davy,

I'd like to offer a proper rebuttal but I'm lacking enough information to do so. For example, which God(s) are you suggesting are real?

Sadly the gentlemen you quoted left that detail out, and with over 3000+ God(s) created by various cultures in earth's history it would help greatly if you could narrow down with one(s) we are discussing here. You did briefly touch upon Aristotle who left it ambiguous (An unidentified Prime Mover) or Aquinas who justified the Christian God(s) but I get the implication that you are following their methodology, not necessarily their conclusion.

Further, if you are disputing O'ist metaphysics is it in the fact you think it mis-categorizes something? It is inadequate in what it covers? You have an issue with the Law of Identity?

Hi Dan,

The Prime Mover argument entails monotheism. I won't go into details, but having got to that point, you can go on to deduce other things about what such a being would have to be like, and it turns out that it would have to be like the God of traditional Western religious belief.

Regarding O'ist Metaphysics, it's not so much that I'm disputing anything, more that I find it a bit vague. I've no problem with the law of identitiy per se, it's the relation of it to cause and effect which I find fuzzy. Sorry, I know that's vague, I'm re-reading parts of OPAR and ITOE and I'll get back to you with something more concrete, hopefully.

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Feser is a Catholic, but even if you're an atheist (as I am) you can't fail to be impressed by the force of the arguments.

I'm an ex-Catholic.

Catholicism is a dogmatic religion based on the premise of original sin. Feser is, by his own words, "a traditinal Roman Catholic". http://edwardfeser.blogspot.de/

The first question I'd ask him would be "You really believe in original original sin? If yes, why?"

For if the premise doesn't stand up scrutiny (which it can't in that case, give the very nature of the claim: for neither a Bible text nor a church dogma can qualify as evidence), all subsequent attempts to then 'prove' this god's existence will become even more futile (all attempts to prove any god's existence must necessarily fail because conducting proof is impossible here).

Also, it's worth mentioning that Objectivism rejects materialism; it holds that the world and consciousness exist.

Objectivism does not reject materialism. The contrary is the case: Objectivism holds that consciousness cannot exist apart from a material substrate. Hence Objectivism rejects all thinking that is based on the the primacy of consciousness, like e. g.

assertions of the type which Deepak Chopra made in War of the Worldviews: "the state of procreation thinks itself into becoming the Universe". (DC, War of the Worldviews, p. 75).

The Last Superstition isn't about Catholicism or any other kind of religious dogma, it's a polemic against the philosophical worldview and ignorance of the New Atheists (Richard Dawkins et al). But it's also a history of philosophy and an appeal for a return to Aristotelianism.

I agree, neither the Bible nor Church dogma qualifies as evidence, but the book isn't about Theology; the arguments fall into the category of what's called Natural Theology, where no appeal is made to divine revelation, religious texts, or "blind" faith -

Natural theology does not attempt to explain truths beyond reason such as the Incarnation or the Trinity, and it certainly does not attempt to base anything on claims made in the Bible. Rather, natural theology uses other sources of evidence. Natural theology appeals to empirical data and the deliverances of reason to search out, verify, justify, and organize as much truth about God as can be figured out when one limits oneself to just these sources of evidence.

I was attracted to this book for 2 reasons. I have recently read Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and thought that many of the so-called arguments in it were very bad indeed. Even though I'm an atheist, I was interested to discover that there are in fact, purely rational arguments for religious views. Also, knowing that Rand was influenced by Aristotle and Aquinas, I thought it might shed some light on any parallels between O'ism and the arguments of the traditional Aristotelians and Thomists.

Objectivism does not reject materialism.

Well, this is where I find O'ist metaphysics ambiguous. In OPAR (page 33) Peikoff says:

"This does not mean that Objectivists are Materialists. ... Consciousness, in this view, is either a myth or a useless byproduct of brain or other functions".

But then on the following page, he says:

"There is no basis for the suggestion that consciousness is separable from matter...".

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Davy,

I'd like to offer a proper rebuttal but I'm lacking enough information to do so. For example, which God(s) are you suggesting are real?

Sadly the gentlemen you quoted left that detail out, and with over 3000+ God(s) created by various cultures in earth's history it would help greatly if you could narrow down with one(s) we are discussing here. You did briefly touch upon Aristotle who left it ambiguous (An unidentified Prime Mover) or Aquinas who justified the Christian God(s) but I get the implication that you are following their methodology, not necessarily their conclusion.

Further, if you are disputing O'ist metaphysics is it in the fact you think it mis-categorizes something? It is inadequate in what it covers? You have an issue with the Law of Identity?

Hi Dan,

The Prime Mover argument entails monotheism. I won't go into details, but having got to that point, you can go on to deduce other things about what such a being would have to be like, and it turns out that it would have to be like the God of traditional Western religious belief.

Regarding O'ist Metaphysics, it's not so much that I'm disputing anything, more that I find it a bit vague. I've no problem with the law of identitiy per se, it's the relation of it to cause and effect which I find fuzzy. Sorry, I know that's vague, I'm re-reading parts of OPAR and ITOE and I'll get back to you with something more concrete, hopefully.

That's OK; by narrowing the field of Gods down to Western traditions we have narrowed the field greatly to several Gods. Although Islam isn't exactly Western so I'm not sure if you are including it but I think that is a moot point for this.

What I deduce about the Western Gods is exactly the kind of thing that confuses me - For example the fact the identity of these Gods assumes such details as they have an existence that is everywhere at once (yet non-present and unaccounted so they are also nowhere at all). Their consciousness extends into all things and all people since it is everywhere yet unidentified and not interacted with so they are seemingly nowhere at all by any account. In fact, they don't have an identity since mathematically the concept of infinite is not a real number; it’s just a mathematical construct for equations.

By deduction I come to a dead end since there are no attributes of an entity to review and no entity to examine for attributes to identity. As I see it, the Western God(s) contradict the Law of Identity since there is literally nothing to deduce from.

Thus, I need information to actually hang a discussion on. Perhaps when I return from this weekend I’ll look up those links more, or any input is welcome.

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Belieiving in a spiritual Deity or a supranatural organizing intelligence does equate to believing in an all powerful old white man with a beard and a white toga sitting on a throne in the clouds with lots and lots of bright white light.

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Belieiving in a spiritual Deity or a supranatural organizing intelligence does equate to believing in an all powerful old white man with a beard and a white toga sitting on a throne in the clouds with lots and lots of bright white light.

Why can't it?

--Brant

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Wacka wacka!

but seriously,

I'm just saying that much of the Objectivist argument against Deity and different levels and/or dimenstions of reality in which consciencness may survive, are actually directed against the stereotypical god I mentioned above, as well as the bible thumping born again hell-fire and damnation beliefs they hold so dear (thanks to the edicts of medieval church clergy). But spirituality has moved light years beyond those archaic idea's and beliefs. Science and spirituality are melding of sorts. Have you ever heard of Jason Silva?

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The Last Superstition isn't about Catholicism or any other kind of religious dogma, it's a polemic against the philosophical worldview and ignorance of the New Atheists (Richard Dawkins et al).

Since the author is a traditional Roman Catholic, he argues from a religious premise. Identifying the basic premise from where an individual is arguing from works quite well for finding out his/her the agenda. His polemic against Dawkins & Co is therefore also an attack against a philosophical worldview that rejects the god premise.

I agree, neither the Bible nor Church dogma qualifies as evidence, but the book isn't about Theology; the arguments fall into the category of what's called Natural Theology, where no appeal is made to divine revelation, religious texts, or "blind" faith -

Natural theology does not attempt to explain truths beyond reason such as the Incarnation or the Trinity, and it certainly does not attempt to base anything on claims made in the Bible.

But since Feser is a traditional Roman Catholic, it would be quite interesting to get him to explain why he thinks those alleged "truths beyond reason" are in fact true.

Rather, natural theology uses other sources of evidence. Natural theology appeals to empirical data and the deliverances of reason to search out, verify, justify, and organize as much truth about God as can be figured out when one limits oneself to just these sources of evidence.

What has to be examined: does it constitute evidence? For labeling something as evidence doesn't necessarily make it so.

I was attracted to this book for 2 reasons. I have recently read Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and thought that many of the so-called arguments in it were very bad indeed

Dawkins has been accused of being inconsistent in his argumentation, for example by Rupert Sheldrake, who claims that Dawkins, while attacking teleology, then smuggles in teleology through the backdoor by speaking of a "selfish" gene.

Even though I'm an atheist, I was interested to discover that there are in fact, purely rational arguments for religious views.

It certainly pays to make oneself familiar with attempts that 'rationally' argue for a god's existence (and their rebuttals), because one can study the flaws and see why any attempt to prove a god's existence must fail. And why to claim knowledge about non-existence of a god is also fallacious. Absence of evidence (of a god) is not evidence of absence (of a god).

As for alleged 'proofs' of a god's existence - Thomas Aquinas' 'first cause proof' for example may, at first glance, sound appealing because it seems to put a stop to the endless causality chain; but on closer scrutiny [the following is a quote from Leonard Mlodinow]: "The argument does nothing more than transfer the mystery of how a universe can come from nothing to the mystery of how God god could have come from nothing. Simply asserting that God is God because God requires no cause doesn't get us very far." (L. Mlodinow, War of the Worldviews, p. 89/90).

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Wacka wacka!

but seriously,

I'm just saying that much of the Objectivist argument against Deity and different levels and/or dimenstions of reality in which consciencness may survive, are actually directed against the stereotypical god I mentioned above, as well as the bible thumping born again hell-fire and damnation beliefs they hold so dear (thanks to the edicts of medieval church clergy). But spirituality has moved light years beyond those archaic idea's and beliefs. Science and spirituality are melding of sorts. Have you ever heard of Jason Silva?

No. Never had. "The Objectivist argument"--i.e., the argument--against the existence of a Supreme Being (called "God") is there is no evidentiary rational basis or argument for its existence. You believe in God? That's a matter of faith. Objectivism exchews faith. Now, bringing in this other stuff, whatever it is, the same standards of evidence and argument apply. It's faith and a bunch of story telling including any ancedotal evidence, which goes nowhere by itself and only suggests avenues of inquiry--rational inquiry.

--Brant

but you're welcome to preach--the advantage of these Internet discussions is we can't hear you--literally--and no one has to read you

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I'm just saying that much of the Objectivist argument against Deity and different levels and/or dimenstions of reality in which consciencness may survive, are actually directed against the stereotypical god I mentioned above, as well as the bible thumping born again hell-fire and damnation beliefs they hold so dear (thanks to the edicts of medieval church clergy). But spirituality has moved light years beyond those archaic idea's and beliefs. Science and spirituality are melding of sorts.

Our ancestors modeled their image of a god according to what they were familiar with. It is therefore no surprise that the god of the Old Testament is described as erratic, revengeful demanding absolute obedience, etc. For he resembled the despotic potentates who ruled over the peoples back in those times.

I'm convinced that, if there had never been an organized Christian church later which had the power to enforce its doctrine, humans would long since have shed the idea of the AT god - it would have been discarded like an old shoe which one has grown out of.

But the time has (finally!) come now. It is not without reason that the works of Dawkins & Co have become bestsellers.

For no concept of a god which contradicts the standard of knowledge humanity has reached in our scientifc age can

survive in the long run. We may well be entering a new Age of Enlightenment.

Against those modern god concepts that are left, atheists often use Occam's Razor: for example, if 'god' is equated by an esoteric with something like 'cosmic energy', using Occam's Razor would suggest to leave out 'god' altogether and merely use 'cosmic energy'.

I also think that the more scientific our worldview will become, the more 'abstract' believers' god concepts will become.

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Regarding O'ist Metaphysics, it's not so much that I'm disputing anything, more that I find it a bit vague. I've no problem with the law of identitiy per se, it's the relation of it to cause and effect which I find fuzzy. Sorry, I know that's vague, I'm re-reading parts of OPAR and ITOE and I'll get back to you with something more concrete, hopefully.

Hi Davy,

I think you will find that NB writes more to the point on causality than AR. I'm sorry I don't have my references handy but you will find a page or two on causality in Branden's The Psychology of Self-Esteem. NB also briefly discusses the idea of metaphysical dualism in one of his later books (might be The Art of Living Conciously...I think MSK referenced it recently) and mentions that AR was in agreement with his thoughts in this area. Here he suggests that consciousness and matter may both emerge from a common underlying substance. While still vague, this is a step pointing the direction of their metaphysical thinking.

I have spent a lot of time thinking on the issues of causality myself from the starting point provided by AR and NB. From my view, if "what a thing is determines what it does" then there is no need to look for an outside cause. There is no need to look for a first cause or a Prime Mover. AR and NB were suggesting a fundamental shift in how we understand the nature of causation. When we move from seeing causation as a relationship between the action of one thing and the action of another thing to a relationship between what a thing is and what it does, everything changes. It is a fundamental paradigm shift. The need for a Prime Mover comes from a different view of causality from AR and NB's. The question doesn't even come up in the story line of their worldview.

Paul

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Well, this is where I find O'ist metaphysics ambiguous. In OPAR (page 33) Peikoff says:

"This does not mean that Objectivists are Materialists. ... Consciousness, in this view, is either a myth or a useless byproduct of brain or other functions".

Peikoff probably meant something like 'biochemical reductionism'.

But not all materialists are necessarily reductionists.

But then on the following page, he says:

"There is no basis for the suggestion that consciousness is separable from matter...".

Which would be entirely in sync with a materialistic philosophy: it operates on the premise that mind cannot exist independent of matter, and that there exists no such thing as 'primacy of consciousness'.

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I don't think 'materialism' relates at all to primacies of existence/consciousness.

No, materialism simply denies consciousness altogether. Although, true enough, it is raised as the counter to 'idealism' (consciousness, independent of existence).

Materialism is generally defined by philosophy (certainly O'ism) to mean *existence, independent of consciousness*. Materialists argue consciousness is "a biological illusion".

As I see, there is an inter-relation here with another false dichotomy:rationalism and empiricism. I.E.,Idealism vs. materialism corresponds with rationalism vs. empiricism.

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What I deduce about the Western Gods is exactly the kind of thing that confuses me - For example the fact the identity of these Gods assumes such details as they have an existence that is everywhere at once (yet non-present and unaccounted so they are also nowhere at all). Their consciousness extends into all things and all people since it is everywhere yet unidentified and not interacted with so they are seemingly nowhere at all by any account. In fact, they don't have an identity since mathematically the concept of infinite is not a real number; it’s just a mathematical construct for equations.

By deduction I come to a dead end since there are no attributes of an entity to review and no entity to examine for attributes to identity. As I see it, the Western God(s) contradict the Law of Identity since there is literally nothing to deduce from.

Thus, I need information to actually hang a discussion on. Perhaps when I return from this weekend I’ll look up those links more, or any input is welcome.

Dan,

As I understand it, Omnipresence is to be understood (at least According to Aquinas) in an analogical sense.

But how he [God] is in other things created by him may be considered from human affairs. A king, for example, is said to be in the whole kingdom by his power, although he is not everywhere present. Again, a thing is said to be by its presence in other things which are subject to its inspection; as things in a house are said to be present to anyone, who nevertheless may not be in substance in every part of the house. Lastly, a thing is said to be substantially or essentially in that place in which its substance is. [Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy]

In The Last Superstition, Feser says that we might usefully distinguish five gradations in one's conception of God:

1. God is literally an old man with a white beard, a kind if stern wizard-like being with very human thoughts and motivations who lives in a place called Heaven, which is like the places we know except for being very far away and impossible to get to except through magical means.

2. God doesn't have a bodily form, and his thoughts and motivations are in many respects very different from ours. He is an immaterial object or substance which has existed forever, and (perhaps) pervades all space. Still, he is, somehow, a person like we are, only vastly more intelligent, powerful and virtuous, and in particular without our physical and moral limitations. He made the world the way a carpenter builds a house, as an independent object that would carry on even if he were to "go away" from it, but he neverthe less may decide to intervene it its operations from time to time.

3. God is not an object or substance alongside other objects or substances in the world; rather He is pure being or existence itself, utterly distinct from the world of time, space, and things, underlying and maintaining them at every moment, and apart from whose ongoing conserving action they would be instantly annihilated. The world is not an independent object in the sense of something that might carry on if God were to "go away"; it is more like the music produced by a musician, which exists only when he plays and vanishes the moment he stops. None of the concepts we apply to things in the world, including to ourselves, apply to God in anything but an analogous sense. Hence, for example, we may say that God is "personal" insofar as He is not less than a person, the way an animal is less than a person. But God is not literally "a person" in the sense of being one individual thing among others who reasons, chooses, has moral obligations, etc. Such concepts make no sense when literally applied to God.

4. God as somewho who has had a mystical experience of the sort Aquinas had.

5. God as Aquinas knows Him now, i.e. as known in the beatific vision attained by the blessed after death.

Further gradations between some of these are no doubt possible, but this will suffice for our purposes. Obviously, each grade represents an advance in sophistication over the previous one. Grade 1 represents a child's conception of God, and perhaps that of some uneducated adults. Grade 2 represents the conception of some educated religious believers, of popular apologetics, and of arguments like Paley's "Design argument". Grade 3 is the conception of classical philosophical theology: of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and other such thinkers. Grades 4 and 5 are attainable only if granted supernaturally by God.

There's an excellent blog post by Feser which you might find useful, I still think it's better to read the book, in which he devotes a lot of pages to laying the groundwork, as it were, to a proper understanding of Aquinas' "Five Ways". There's also a link to a utube lecture which covers the same ground.

To understand the arguments of classical natural theology -- arguments like Aquinas’s Five Ways, for example -- you need to understand the difference between empirical science on the one hand and metaphysics and the philosophy of nature on the other. And you need to understand how the attitudes that classical philosophers (Aristotelians, Neo-Platonists, Thomists and other Scholastics) take toward these three fields of study differs from the attitudes common among modern philosophers (whether early modern philosophers like Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, and Co., or the average contemporary academic philosopher, who has -- often unreflectively -- inherited his basic philosophical assumptions from the early moderns). For the arguments in question are grounded in the philosophy of nature (and in some cases in metaphysics) and not in natural science; and they are grounded in a classical rather than modern philosophical understanding of the three fields and their relationship to one another.

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