Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
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20-06-2015, 07:52 AM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
Quote:The assumption that all existence claims are questions about matters of fact, the assumption that all of these are answered in the very same way is not only over simplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken. The existence, factuality or reality of different kinds of things is not established or disconfirmed in the same way in every case.

Quote:But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty.

Quote:Just think of the differences in argumentation and the types of evidences used by biologists, grammarians, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, magicians, mechanics, merchants, and artists. It should be obvious from this that the types of evidence one looks for in existence or factual claims will be determined by the field of discussion and especially by the metaphysical nature of the entity mentioned in the claim under question.

Fine. He refutes himself. He has not actually proposed ANY method or offered ANY SORT OF ANY "evidence" AT ALL, for his particular deity. He could be right, but he has not followed through in any way with his OWN argument, nor has he even proposed a methodology for determining that it is a rational stance to accept his deity.

In fact he has demonstrated a complete ignorance of Theology.
Christianity claims that "faith" is a gift of their god. There are no proofs for it, and Christianity preaches there aren't. Their (supposed) founder said "No one shall come to me unless the Father draw him".

Meanwhile, if ya ain't "drawn", just get busy and live your life. They got nuthin'. They don't even know their own fuckin' cult's teachings.

Tongue ... Rolleyes

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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20-06-2015, 09:06 AM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
(19-06-2015 10:38 AM)Learner Wrote:  When I was a believer, I remember all the presuppositionalists love Greg Bahnsen (who was one of their top debaters years ago), and especially his debate with Dr Gordon Stein (atheist) on the existence of God. In Bahnsen's opening address, he denied that the question of the existence of God is a factual question. I hear this kinda crap sometimes from believers about how they see no problem that there's no evidence for God because God is immaterial. (So obviously the burden of proof is on them with their claim that immaterial things exist.) How would you respond to that claim, or something like what Bahnsen said below in his opening address?

Quote:How should the difference of opinion between the theist and the atheist be rationally resolved? What Dr. Stein has written indicates that he, like many atheists, has not reflected adequately on this question. He writes, and I quote, "The question of the existence of God is a factual question, and should be answered in the same way as any other factual questions."

The assumption that all existence claims are questions about matters of fact, the assumption that all of these are answered in the very same way is not only over simplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken. The existence, factuality or reality of different kinds of things is not established or disconfirmed in the same way in every case.

Quote:We might ask , "Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?" And we know how we would go about answering that question. But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty. In such cases, one does not do anything like walk to the pantry and look inside for the crackers. There are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case.

Quote:Just think of the differences in argumentation and the types of evidences used by biologists, grammarians, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, magicians, mechanics, merchants, and artists. It should be obvious from this that the types of evidence one looks for in existence or factual claims will be determined by the field of discussion and especially by the metaphysical nature of the entity mentioned in the claim under question.

Dr. Stein's remark that the question of the existence of God is answered in the same way as any other factual question, mistakenly reduces the theistic question to the same level as the box of crackers in the pantry, which we will hereafter call the crackers in the pantry fallacy.

Let's see here.

We utilize sensory information in an attempt to detect whether there is a box of crackers in the pantry. This can get as involved as walking over to the pantry and opening the door. What about the others?

Quote:barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty.

Let's go through these one at a time. I'll monkey around with the order a bit, because there seems to be three or four broad categories of how we go about determining these things and I want to group them together.

Barometric pressure: Check an instrument, or arbitrarily make one out of mercury and beakers. Alternatively, look at the weather. Either way, sensory information.

Quasars: Telescopes, especially with enhancements to see beyond visual light. Again, sensory information.

Gravitational attraction: On the astrophysics level, telescopes, plus a bit of record-keeping to see how objects are accelerating. On a more human scale, you hold something out, let it go, and see if it falls. Again, sensory information. (Also, explains why tide comes in, tide goes out.)

Elasticity: Pull on it and see if it stretches. Sensory information.

Radio activity: Tune a radio to a band and see if it cackles. Sensory information, albeit it at one remove.

Natural laws: Depends on the "law" in question. (I hate that term, btw. Inaccurate connotations.) But by and large, identify the element of nature it is supposed to regulate, and examine that element of nature through the senses to see if it is indeed adhering to that regulation.

Present location (the university you're now at): Sensory information. Look around and see the buildings.

Memories: I'd argue that memory is a sense, or at least a record of a sense. Either way, it's sensory information.

Past events: Confirmed through memories, or archeology (based on sensory information) or historical records (which were... hopefully, if we're doing it right... ultimately based on first-hand sensory accounts).

Future contingencies: Wait for the future to happen and gather sensory information about how it plays out.

Causation: Gather sensory information and use statistics and empiricism to suss out the relationship between correlated factors.

All of these are factual claims, and for all of them we employ the same basic strategy as the box of crackers: Seek out sensory information, even if it is at one or more removes of instrumentation or records. The details vary based on the type of sensory information that is applicable, but the overall pattern is the same. God, apparently, doesn't fall into this category. Now let's move on to some other categories.

Names: Names are adopted conventions. They don't represent some fundamental truth about reality or even the objects they refer to, but are simply conveniences of language. There is some biological determinism and some cultural determinism at work here. The language centers of our brain can't really process a name like Vrgnbfn, even if a computer database could file it in a name field quite easily. Similarly, Xochitl is not a name we Westerners are prone to adopt or assign, even if the Aztecs would have felt it quite natural.

Grammar: The same as names. Conventions, influenced by biological and sociological factors. There's no fundamental truth at work, save perhaps some properties about what the language centers of our brain are and aren't wired for.

Numbers: Mathematics is part invention and part discovery, but is ultimately a human construct designed to mirror certain natural patterns. Mathematicians define axioms, which are either engineered or discovered to have certain theorems, depending on whether the axiom-writers had those theorems in mind when they concocted the axioms. Usually they construct these axioms with an eye towards engineering tools to help analyze what's happening in the real world, and if they are adept at this engineering then the tools are useful for this task. Numbers are defined based on axioms of whatever set of numbers we're working with. As such, they are conventions, albeit conventions engineered to match things we sense.

Categories: Again, conventions and names. Some categories will come with a sensory test to determine whether an object falls into that category (eg, things that taste salty), but establishing the category itself is simply a matter of arbitrary organization.

All of these are things which humans define or invent, subject to our limitations. I doubt it's being argued that God is one of these.

Beauty: Beauty is a matter of opinion. There's no arbitrary truth behind it, at least none that we've ever been able to prove. I imagine some elements of our opinons of beauty are hard-wired into us. When looking at another person to judge if they are beautiful, we seem to favor symmetric features and few blemishes. I imagine that snails looking at other snails employ different standards than we do, else how do they ever procreate? Other elements could be the result of upbringing and social convention. But ultimately, this is simply a matter of interpretation, not fact. We can't really say that beauty is true or false, but we can argue about it to no end.

Political Obligations: Like beauty, a matter of opinion. Can't really say they are true or false. Can argue about it to no end.

All of these are simple matters of opinion. Is God simply a matter of opinion? If so, then God's existence doesn't make a damn bit of difference, and can just as easily exist for one person and not for another.

Dreams: THAT we dream, and WHAT we dream, is incorrigible. We can claim it with the same sort of direct assertion that we can claim that we are hungry, or that we're thinking about an elephant. (Whether dreams are indicative of anything else is another subject.) I'd like to file this as sensory, but it would make just as much sense to assign incorrigible claims to their own category.

Love: Another incorrigible statement. Though we can probably detect it using things like ECGs, testing blood for hormones, monitoring eye dilation, etc.

All of these are direct statements about what we are perceiving, even if that perception is entirely internal (emotion) or even delusional (dreams). If God falls into this category -- as many presuppositionalists claim -- then I have no problem with that. There is still the challenge of distinguishing the idea of God from a hallucination.

Individual identity over time: I'd file this with either incorrigible statements or arbitrary categorization, depending on how one defines identity. Difficult to say which category it falls in due to that unclear definition, but it's one or the other.

So overall, the question is, what kind of truth is being asserted when a theist (or deist) asserts that god exists? Convention or opinion? Is it really a truth claim, then? Incorrigible perception? How do we distinguish it from a hallucination, then? What if I had an incorrigible perception that there is no god, at the same time that someone else had an incorrigible perception that there is? There's no real method for finding the truth at all, here, save the truth about what people correctly or incorrectly perceive.

There's nothing wrong with someone asking how we can determine if God can be demonstrated to exist, and answering that different categories of knowledge are pursued in different ways doesn't address the question of how THIS category of knowledge can be pursued.

But more importantly, the TYPE of god being claimed determines what category it falls into.

Are we talking about the Christian god, which comes packaged with specific claims about past events, miraculous suspension of natural laws, and so on? Then these are not just truth claims regarding the existence of a god. These are also truth claims about past events and natural laws, and can be investigated as such. A god that spontaneously generates boxes of crackers in our pantry every night CAN be discovered through the same method that we would use for checking to see if there's a box of crackers in the pantry.
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