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In addition to what Brandie already said, he now seems to be heading down the path of deductive reasoning at a rapid rate. For instance, to say that "For an atheist there is no truly hot or cold running water" isn't a problem: we make judgements based on our experience and refine these judgements if needed. This is a perfectly honest and viable way of living your life, and yes, it does mean you have to give up the illusions of absolute certainty that some of us labour under. That has never been a problem for me. Recognizing these facts doesn't mean we become paralyzed with perpetual doubt; to the contrary, we will make choices at every moment to the best of our ability; we will simply be willing to change our perspectives should additional evidence come about.
The statement "I have every reason to believe that this is false." still makes sense in an inductive neighbourhood.
However, to then say that if we want to seek certainty, we go to deductive reasoning, is flat out false. Deductive reasoning fails all the time, and is severely limited in its usefulness precisely because it inevitably relies on premises that either turn out to be false (usually found out through induction) or to contain hidden assumptions in the form of unfortunately chosen words.
Deductive reasoning is -in practicality-, as far as I can tell, completely dependent on the use of induction if it ever wants to even approach the truth. Centuries of deductive reasoning didn't give us the theory of evolution, they didn't give us a germ theory, they didn't give us quantum mechanics, or general relativity... and yet there were thousands of purely logical arguments on all these subjects; but when further investigation of the data came, then these newer theories arose, and it was almost inevitably because people ceased to arm-chair philosophize about matters but actually went out and let the facts speak for themselves.
Any honest practitioner of inductive reasoning might have to relinquish the notion of absolute certainty... but any honest practitioner of deductive reasoning has to recognise that deductive reasoning -though it's supposed to lead to certain knowledge- has had a track record of total failures and misapprehensions.
Absolute certainty is impossible. Appeals to deductive reasoning in favour of inductive reasoning, don't help you along in the slightest.
So the person Nathan is talking with (does he have a name?) did bring up Popper? Interesting, he (Popper) seems to have provided theists with a lot of ammunition. But I am now totally confused, because I was under the impression (owing to my discussion with my theists friend) that Popper was arguing that induction was impossible. Now it seems either he was wrong, or Brandie is (and I'd take a professional philosopher's and atheists word over a theist non-professional philosopher any day). Now I guess I have to read Popper too (I'm trying to raise 3 kids here, when do I have time for reading?!). Ugh, so much work to be done.
Brandie: Yet another admonishment?! As a professional philosopher, you should know better than to attribute arguments to people who haven't given them. I have said little, if anything, about what I think qualifies as knowledge, so on what interpretation of my beliefs (which I haven't given!) can they be called primitive? What I have said was that there is no such thing as absolute proof, which is something quite distinct, as you well should know (very vigorous finger wagging). What knowledge consists of is quite a different subject, and to make my position perfectly clear, no, I do not think absolute proof is a requirement for knowledge or certainty (otherwise we would be in one hell of a pickle). Granting the theist that there is no such thing as absolute proof is just something we have to give them, because it is true. That doesn't mean that proof can't come in less-than absolute terms, and that it should be acceptable to reasonable people, and therefore that knowledge is/should be possible, but "proving" that to the theist clearly is a major hurdle, otherwise we wouldn't have as pressing a need for all of these arguments.
Also, what do you mean that you think there is an "objective evil"? I find this to be a most curious statement, would you care to explain it?
Nathan: As much as I would love to actually look at your argument with this theist, I can't promise anything. I have barely enough time these days for the socializing I do by coming here (yes, its sad, but this website is virtually all the socializing I get these days, and still more sad, this is how I socialize, by doing philosophy!). And I will be away in a few days, so if I haven't gotten to it by the weekend, I won't be able to. Most regrettable for me!
So... he responded. I think y'all are right. I think he's trapped me. How do I get out of it?
Okay... so it's clear that I need to amend some of my statements in the response to the theist (actually, now I'm wondering if he's a deist... I'll explain why in a bit)...
I'll start with John.
Yes, I know I'm out of my depths. I've already conceded that numerous times. The reason I don't want to back away from this debate is because I think it's important: I have a lot to learn, and it will help me. I will learn a lot from it.
As far as science being a belief set, I don't agree. I agree that science relies upon certain assumed principles, but I think science's success rate proves those principles to be true. But then, when I talk about belief, I'm talking about agreeing that something's true without evidence.
Matt... I see your point. You are right that I would not answer the "are you a free man" question with yes. Actually, I think it's an absurd question. But you made your point loud and clear. It's just, to me, that is the inherent problem with the omnis themselves. Your point is the very reason I think the omnis are internally contradictory and make no sense.
Wanderer... I'm looking forward to your insight on my response, so please read it. As long as the criticism is constructive, I welcome it with open arms.
As far as my last name... heh... my family (both sides... I don't want to say ancestors because, you know, two of them, my great grandmothers [my mom's dad's mother and my dad's mom's mother], didn't die until I was 21 [not kidding]) came over here through Ellis Island. On my Dad's side, the last name Himelstein, but anti-semitism was still an issue, so the last name was changed at Ellis Island. They didn't know how to spell "Heaven", so they sounded it out, forgot the "a", and I am now a Hevenstone.
I actually love my last name. It's provided me with a rather kick-ass tattoo idea:
http://s13.photobucket.com/albums/a255/jimmyRRpage/?action=view&... (that's not a real tattoo...)
And attached to the bottom of the V, as the stone, will be the Atom symbol with an A in the middle of it.
Brandie... what is positivism, again?
I got that definition of reality from Wikipedia... :D But dreams are real (inasmuch as they happen), and so fit the definition...
I thought "energy cannot be created or destroyed" was true, though. Isn't it a law? Thermodynamics or something like that?
Okay, I'll retract my statements about the 5 things that can't be proven scientifically.
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