This conversation started with him saying that his belief in god is just as rational as any atheist for not believing in a god. He referenced arguments by a man named Alvin Plantinga -Plantinga's Essay.  

The Christian below had commented on the point that I was making. I had said that the method best to determine empirical truth was Evidentialism, more specifically, Evidential Foundationalism. Explained by Youtube User Evid3nc3 =

I had said that his claims that ID and "other important advancements" had been stopped due to biased scientists were false. 

So How do you respond to this comment?

"Well as I have stated before, I would say that presuppositions are not better than other presuppositions. Most of the time we hold presuppositions without even knowing it because of the areas of the world we have grown up in. Our most intimate values and beliefs are also ingrained in our culture and life experiences. 

"I would say that your four presuppositions are not better than other presuppositions held by other people and your presuppositions do not help to discern undeniable truth or Truth with a capital T. I would even argue that your system is not "more reliable" compared to other systems when it comes to Truth. Your system only helps you to discern subjective truth through your own perceptions. In fact, you would probably say that all truths are through our perceptions and that there is no other way to obtain anything than through the senses but that is because you hold your presupposition of Naturalism. There also is another presuppositions before "I think therefore I am". 

Most people presuppose that the rational logic that humans use is actually Truly rational and logical outside of humans. In fact, this is even more basic and necessary before the presupposition of "I think therefore I am". Why is this more basic and necessary? Well if your logic is flawed from True logic you would never know. If fact as long as your premise allows for flawed logic then your flawed logic would seem True. 

In fact, Descarte's argument has also been torn apart along with all other philosophers and theologians arguments. There is no "argument" in philosophy or theology that has avoided scrutiny because most of the time the worldviews and presuppositions that people hold are just different which would lead them to differing conclusions. 

Your four presuppositions also stem from the western world. The system which you speak about is from a western point of view. (which is held by less than half the world). In most parts of the world people hold the presupposition of supernaturalism (or the idea that there is more than just the natural world. There exists the supernatural). There is this idea that supernatural things can occur in this world . This in itself is a worldview and something that all theologians presuppose.

ie. Let us talk about the mind. What is the mind? Where is the source of the mind? Is this something observable? Is it physical? Does it have mass? is it more spiritual? Is it the soul? is it the same thing as the brain? Is it the physical chemicals that are produced in the brain? 

There is a whole branch of philosophy devoted to the mind trying to discern if it is supernatural or natural.

Also I do not claim my presuppositions to be better than others simply because I do not believe I have that knowledge and authority. For you to claim that your presuppositions are better, you would need to have look into every other single view out there and compare it to your presuppositions. You would also have to be able to know that other people's presuppositions are wrong and to see if their flow of logic is consistent within their own presuppositions. You would have to know their views inside and out in order to make the comparison claim that "my system is better". You would also need to question your own presuppositions and know your presuppositions are True.

Sadly scientists have been thrown out of the community for even simply claiming to be christian or religious. People are not as nice or logical as you think they are. People do judge even before testing a theory. Now I am not saying all christian relieve this persecution. ie. francis collins, the man that pioneered the human genome project."

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"So How do you respond to this comment?"

Like this:

Dude, that's one very long non sequitur. 

Regarding the issue of Intelligent Design, I would respond with this phrase: Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District.

The best that the Discovery Institute had to offer were available for that trial ... and they got their hats handed to them, and by a Bush 43 appointee as well.

As for the issue of mind, my response is objectivity vs. subjectivity.  Within the realm of subjectivity, anything is possible, any event is conceivable, but NOTHING IS CONFIRMABLE. You can imagine anything, perceive anything, claim anything ... but not one bit of that is available for external corroboration. In the objective realm, anything is NOT possible. Any event will be restricted by physical law ... but External Observation Is Possible, and with it, corroboration, duplication, examination and analysis. That's what makes science the benchmark that it is ... and it's why subjectivity is not considered part of the scientific discipline.

In addition, there is no demonstrable mechanism for the maintenance of consciousness independent of a nervous system, nor any means of observing mind or consciousness without the association of a nervous system.  People can allege as they please.  They can prove NOTHING.

Thank you for these suggestions. I am not aware of the truth in his statement that scientists have been thrown out of the community for merely claiming to be christian. This does not seem to have any truth to it. I don't understand his comment that all. If he has something more consistent then Evidentialism then I wish he would let me know or if anyone one of you see's something wrong but not addressed by Evid3nc3's videos, which are exactly the same position I hold, then please let me know!

If someone wants to assert that a scientist has been ejected from a study, lab, or educational facility purely on religious grounds, I would suggest that they cite a specific instance.  Personally, I'm aware of no such incident.

Evidence talks.  Bullshit walks.

What makes the account less creditable is the absence of law suits. These aren't cases where you have to go find a lawyer.... there would be a dozen lawyers camping at your front door with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. …....….[crickets].... .. I must have missed the news about those lawsuits - I guess even Lush Limpbaugh missed it.
If a person is capable at preforming their job and their beliefs don't, demonstrably, bias the judgments and decisions they make. Short of some very solid evidence to the contrary, there is no rational, financial or legal benefits for any business to be judging a person's belief and firing them for that. Further, if the issue came to a pissing contest twixt theist and Atheist witch hunting on our side would be a totally ineffective pursuit and it would be hypocritical from our point of view.

This argument is just another form of the same argument from skepticism I have had with my own "pet theist". It goes like this: If all beliefs depend upon still other beliefs, then there can never be any absolute proof as to which beliefs are any better or worse than any others. So there is no way we can prove anything, and all knowledge-claims are nothing more than beliefs with nothing ultimately supporting them but faith. This argument does two things the theist loves. First, it puts all beliefs on level ground, so at least justified beliefs grounded in reason are no better than beliefs based on faith alone. Secondly, it introduces faith at the outset, introducing faith as the prerequisite for any belief, thus (the theist would love to believe) justifying faith before anything else, even reason itself!


The response I would give here is that it is unfortunately true that there is no such thing as absolute proof. We do have to make some assumptions in order to progress to knowledge, but this does not mean that we cannot have knowledge. What it means is that, if we are to believe anything with any degree of justification whatsoever, we must believe (according to an epistemology quite like the one you noted) what our experiences tell us. Either our experiences are, in at least to some small degree, reliable indicators of a reality which is not mind-dependent, or else we can believe nothing at all with any degree of justification. Your theist thus puts himself in a very tight spot. In order to keep up this argument without logical contradiction, he must take a position of extreme skepticism, doubting that any belief is any better than any other. It is just as likely that he is (insert any absurd thing here you like) than that he is who he thinks he is. It is just as likely that he is made of cheese, or that he is riding a flying unicorn, etc. ad absurdum... it is just as likely anything is true than that it is not. We would then be in no position whatsoever to have a rational discussion about anything, and that makes such an attempt quite pointless doesn't it? There would certainly be no reason to believe that it is any more or less likely that there is a god or there isn't one (perhaps having a 50/50 chance here evens the odds for the theists here!), which means to be consistent he must be an agnostic, not a theist.


The only other alternative is to trust our experiences to be at least somewhat reliable. This means using evidence and having as strict and rigorous a method for determining what may or may not be reliable as possible. This means that prepositions like "I have two hands" are vastly more likely to be true than that "there is an all-powerful invisible man in the sky". This is why it is quite pointless to have discussions with theists - they are oblivious to how untenable their positions ultimately are.

Further, what Descartes did was to show that our experiences can give us reliable beliefs about a mind-independent world, and even (as in his famous example) knowledge which comes remarkably close to absolute proof. It is pretty hard (though Lord knows the theists have tried! <-- a joke) to deny the inference "I think, therefore I am". This is a classic example of how relying on empirical evidence provides justification for one's beliefs. Any attempt to refute this simple preposition only ends up reinforcing it. How can it be otherwise that if I am thinking, I must exist?

I think that we should remember that Descartes' reason for believing in the outside world was that he thought God existed (via the ontological argument) and that God wouldn't deceive him about reality. His famous phrase was just all that he could not reject.

But it is also wrong. Allow me to quote Bertrand Russell:

"But some care is needed in using Descartes' argument. 'I think, therefore I am' says rather more than is strictly certain. It might seem as though we were quite sure of being the same person today as we were yesterday, and this is no doubt true in some sense. But the real Self is as hard to arrive at as the real table, and does not seem to have that absolute, convincing certainty that belongs to particular experiences. When I look at my table and see a certain brown colour, what is quite certain at once is not 'I am seeing a brown colour', but rather, 'a brown colour is being seen'. This of course involves something (or somebody) which (or who) sees the brown colour; but it does not of itself involve that more or less permanent person whom we call ' I'. So far as immediate certainty goes, it might be that the something which sees the brown colour is quite momentary, and not the same as the something which has some different experience the next moment." 

(Bertrand Russell "The Problems of Philosophy" p. 9)

Just ran across this thread and wanted to respond. I have three points.

First, I am sick to death of the eastern/western dichotomy. If an argument is valid and sound, it is valid and sound. If it is not, it is not. There is no "eastern world," "eastern medicine," or any such hokum. There are supernatural worldviews everywhere on the planet, and pejoratively labeling the naturalistic ones "western" is bunk. The natural world is all that is observable, and people in every part of the world have recognized this. A "presupposition of supernaturalism" is unfounded unless there is some evidence for the existence of supernature.

Second, mind is an emergent property of brain. Look it up. Dualism is dead, and nobody in any serious field of study accepts it any more. The concept of a mind or soul independent of the physical brain has practically been shown to be impossible.

Third, I do not have any presuppositions other than the belief that I exist, the Logical Absolutes, and the assumption that something worth accepting is supportable by evidence. If evidence of supernatural things emerges, I will believe. Neither I nor any other reasonable skeptic has a presupposition that such a thing cannot possibly be. In the absence of even the most minimal objective evidence, we just do not believe that they are.

Nicely put Ian.

less than 2 cents: There is no arguing with the Plantinga camp and an a priori god. You can just as soon claim a priori there is no god and bam, you're done talking to them.

For Ian's 2nd point see Anthony Cashmore's research or read Oliver Sachs' excellent book "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat."    


People do judge BEFORE testing a theory (and dont accept results until they have been replicated). Indeed, we are human afterall. But the difference between science and religion is this:
Science judges, then TESTS, then REPLICATES
Religion just judges

I certainly agree that reasonable people can be theists, but this is not because of what your friend says (and why I think this is irrelevant to the discussion at hand).

Your friend seems to be mixing two of Plantinga's arguments: his argument against naturalism, and his reformed epistemology, though mostly the latter.

Plantinga's reformed epistemology actually shoots itself in the foot:

"[T]he atheist can stand Plantinga's argument on its head and argue that the fact that theistic belief is not warrant basic shows that there probably is no God!... If the arguments of these authors (Marx, Freud, Guthrie, Alper, Boyer, Wilson, and Broom, who give naturalistic accounts of religious belief) are cogent--and Plantinga gives no reason why they cannot be (unless we _presuppose_ theism true)--then there is excellent reason to doubt that theistic belief is warrant basic, for such belief will have natural, nonrational causes--and not be caused by the proper functioning of a cognitive faculty designed to produce true beliefs... Arguments against the _rationality_ of theistic belief now become arguments also against the _truth_ of theism. Reformed epistemology does indeed have an ironic conclusion: Its net effect is to multiply the arguments against the existence of God."

(Keith Parsons "Some Contemporary Theistic Arguments" in "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism" ed. Michael Martin)

The argument against naturalism is also poor, because we aren't given much of a reason to accept some of the premises supporting evidence, and the problem can (again) be turned on its head and attack theism.




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