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2012-11-12
Much energy has been devoted to merely interpreting Hume's argument against miracle claims.  Maybe too much.

At any rate, I am skeptical about virtually every miracle claim I've ever heard.  I think I have a cogent argument supporting this skepticism.  I take my argument to be quasi-Humean in spirit.  Shortly I will present it.

(

Straightaway I should note some things.

{NOTE 1} I am NOT an ultra-Humean in the following respect.  I think there are certainly some conceivable scenarios in which believing in a miracle would be rationally required, if it were based on some extremely good testimony (or, a fortiori, on some remarkable personal experiences). 

{NOTE 2}  Perhaps Hume all along really meant to give such an argument as the one I'm going to give (perhaps in Part 2 of "Of Miracles").  At least one commentator has given him such a reading.  To wit, Elliott Sober's 2004 "A Modest Proposal" interprets Hume's idea (applied to an example) as that &quo ... (read more)

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2012-05-14
I see that philosophical theology can be basically divided into three classes: Rationalist theology, Empirical theology, and Intermediate Theology.Rationalist Theology includes isms such as monism (e.g. Parmenides and Zeno) and non-dualism (Advaitins of India) whose assertions are usually supported by arguments that rationally dismiss experience as false and irrational. This they do with reference to ultimate concepts such as unity, necessity, infinity, immutability, and transcendence (none of which can be predicated of the things of experience). Thus, God becomes the "wholly other" transcendent reality that can only be talked about via negativa.
Empirical Theology, on the other hand, is quite the opposite of the previous. It actually brings religion down to the earth. The gods and goddesses are more human like, and earthly; and, of course, positively understandable in empirical categories. Animism and polytheism are examples of such. In some of them, there is the concept of a Creator w ... (read more)
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2011-09-15
Ok, I collected all the historical evidence I could find that Michael Behe should have considered before making his claims about mousetraps and irreducible complexity.

Some of you may get lost because of technicalities concerning traps or my rambling style. But the main result is that taking a closer look at mousetrap history reveals similar patterns as taking a closer look at some organism's natural history. In the face of this evidence ID proponents can only revert to the same old strategies of emphasising gaps in the record etc. as we are used from their dealing with biological systems. In my opinion, nothing of the suggestive power of Behe's mousetrap analogy remains, if the real historical record is brought into consideration.

In fact, Hooker's patent of 1894 alone suffices to destroy Behe's mousetrap case for irreducible complexity. For a short and simple blog entry concerning Behe's mousetrap nemesis see: <http://historiesofecology.blogspot.com/2011/08/michael-beh ... (read more)
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2011-01-29
James Fetzer’s recent article, “Evolution and atheism: Has Griffin reconciled science and religion?” (Synthese [2011] 178: 381-396) purports to offer a well-founded critique of David Ray Griffin’s philosophical arguments for “a version of theistic evolutionism that can do justice both to the facts that count in favor of evolution and those that count against the neo-Darwinian theory of it” (Griffin, 2000, p 243). Fetzer claims that Griffin’s detailed characterization of neo-Darwinism is inaccurate, “exemplifying the straw man fallacy, where an exaggerated version of a position is presented in order to knock it down” (p. 382). Fetzer not only makes strong claims for the inadequacy of Griffin’s work on evolutionary theory, but also asserts that Griffin has made fundamental errors of logic and argument and is not “morally justified” in holding the views he propounds. Fetzer’s article, however, fails to back up these claims.

Amazingly, Fetzer does not provide any evidence that he has actua ... (read more)
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2010-01-20

 


1. Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism
In Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN for short)[1][2], he attempts to show that to combine naturalism and evolution is self-defeating, because, under these assumptions, the probability that humans have reliable cognitive faculties is low or inscrutable. Plantinga defines:
N as naturalism.
E as the belief that we human beings have evolved in conformity with current evolutionary theory.
R as the proposition that our faculties are reliable.
Now for the argument that it is irrational to believe N&E: P(R/N&E) is either low or inscrutable; in either case (if you accept N&E) you have a defeater for R, and therefore for any other belief B you might hold; but B might be N&E itself; so one who accepts N&E has a defeater for N&E, a reason to doubt or be agnostic with respect to it.
2. On EAAN
But I have question on the statement: you have a defeater for R, and therefore for any other belief B you might hold. Is this statement true? I ... (read more)
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2010-01-18

This much seems clear. Wittgenstein held that Christians, at some level of devoutness, should believe in the alleged historical event (believe that it actually occurred – could have been photographed, etc.) but with a sort of certainty, and fervor, that is quite inappropriate in regard to historical events in general.  Something like that? I think it is clear that he did not think that they should keep the objective uncertainty of such beliefs in mind. That is to say, he was strongly opposed to what I take to be the Kierkegaardian view.

 

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2009-12-13

The “Jocaxian Nothingness” (JN) is the “Nothingness” that exists. It is a physical system devoid not only of physical elements and physical laws, but also of rules of any kind.

In order to understand and intuit JN as an “existent nothingness”, we can mentally build it as follows: we withdraw all the matter, energy and the field they generate from the universe. Then we can withdraw dark energy and dark matter. What is left is something that is not the nonexistent. Let us continue our mental experiment and suppress elements of the universe: now, we withdraw physical laws and spatial dimensions. If we do not forget to withdraw anything, what is left is a JN: an existent nothingness.

JN is different from the Nothingness we generally think of. The commonly believed nothingness, which we might call “Trivial Nothingness” to distinguish it from the JN, is something from which nothing can arise, that is, the “Trivial Nothing” follows a rule: “Nothing can happen”. Thus, the “Trivial Nothingness ... (read more)
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2009-10-14
Here is an attempt to say what all and only religions share in common in virtue of which they are religions.
From (2001). A Theory of Religion Revised. Religious Studies 37 (2):177-189. This goes against
the prevailing view that there is only a 'family resemblance' tween religions.
Comments welcome.

I take it to be intuitive that religions are
concerned with a reality that surpasses the ordinary world that
sense perception reveals. This reality consists either of (a)
sentient supernatural beings (e.g. gods) or of (b) an insentient
metaphysical principle underlying the universe (e.g. The
Unconditioned, Sunyata, or The Tao). This principle has features
that mark it as belonging to a different order of reality from
the objects that make up the mundane world: it cannot be named or
cognized, it can be described only in contradictions, it doesn't
arise or pass away, it issues in everything else, it is utterly
changeless, or...

In short, religions relate practitioners to a reality that
transcends the mundan ... (read more)
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2009-03-08
I do now know how much serious discussion among professional philosophers has been devoted Plantinga's argument that evolutionary theory provides an argument against naturalism, though I know it is widely heralded by many non-professionals who do not like evolutionary theory.

Plantinga's error is two-fold.  First, he fails to state his general epistemological position, and so leaves us wondering what he means by "truth."  Second, and more detrimental to his argument, he fails to consider the possibility of epistemological behaviorism.

Consider any of Plantinga's examples of how evolution might have one survive perfectly well with a set of mostly false beliefs.  One might, for example, run up a tree when confronted with a tiger, because one believed that this was the best way to pet the cute, furry animal.  Thus, one's actions would lead to survivale, but one would be acting on a false belief.

Under what conditions could we establish that this man believed one thing, and not another?  Wha ... (read more)
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