Monday, July 23, 2012

Part 5 of my discussion with Mentat1231, or "the debate concludes [No seriously; I mean it this time]."

So I was serious about the "conclusion" part; this really is the end of the stimulating discussion I had with Mentat1231. Sorry it had to end; life caught up. In part 5, we both get a bit "frisky" or "pissy" (I more than him, due to my being significantly younger than Mentat1231), but that's to be expected in a debate that lasts this long and deals with topics people care deeply about (such as morality, the existence of one's personal savior, etc.). So enjoy the resolution of our disputation:

Mentat1231, "Re: Suffering", 6/18/12


I'm only going to address these points briefly, since I never set out to make you *like* the Bible's answer, merely to help you understand it. 

1) You might not want to consider your attacks on the "allegorical" strength of the Genesis account to be "scientific". There should have been a separation of analyses here. But, no need, since I never claimed the Adam and Eve account was an allegory. I think it is literally true, and you are quite wrong to say that science has cast any doubt on this. In the first place, science changes all the time (even in fundamental, paradigmatic ways). And, more importantly, I gave three options for the Adam and Eve story to be literally true despite what science has shown (either they could have been special cases, very similar to humanoid species that were all around them; or they could have been what evolution was "leading to" by means of intelligent design; or they could have been the product of utterly random evolution + natural selection, and then God could "breathe" special awareness into them... Dinesh D'Souza has made an interesting point on this last possibility: namely, that it does seem humanity (if it did exist for 100,000 years), had an inexplicable "awakening" a few thousand years ago, where all of civilization seems to have BURST onto the scene... hard to explain Naturalistically, and this is just one of many such arguments). Ignoring your point about allegory (which seems to be "if I can't see the point of the allegory, then it fails to be a proper allegory"; an argument which I believe would disappear if you took a course in Eastern Philosophy, for example), I will just state that the Genesis account is told from an Earth-bound perspective. As such, it makes perfect sense to say that light came first, then land, then luminaries. This would be how it appeared to an observer with an Earth-bound vantage point. 

As to animals and humans existing together in peace, any of the three options I gave above for Adam and Eve could easily explain how our discoveries are simply missing a piece. And the Genesis account does not claim that ANIMALS didn't die before the sin in Eden. Merely that humans (i.e. Adam and Eve) were not going to die, if they hadn't sinned. They were given a unique opportunity. 

2) Have you ever seen one of the complicated proofs that 2 + 2 = 4? There are very intricate, complex proofs of this fact, but we don't believe that 2 + 2 = 4 because of those proofs (most of us don't even know them). We believe 2 + 2 = 4 because we can just see that it does, intuitively. Then, we judge the proofs themselves based on that same mathematical intuition. However, 2 + 2 really does equal 4 because of the things those proofs bear out; the mathematical truth is much deeper than our intuition, and would have been true even if we'd never existed. So it is with morality. If it is anything objectively true, then it is grounded in something that could not fail to be true. However, logic, mathematics, and definitional non-contradiction won't work, and therefore there are Possible Worlds where morals are completely different, UNLESS there is a being that could not fail to exist in each of these worlds, who grounds morality in His own nature. This all goes back to our other discussion, so I'll address it there. But, I just wanted you to see that saying "We don't use God's nature or standards to determine what's good" is irrelevant, since there are lots of things that we judge based on basic intuitions, but which are ACTUALLY substantiated in deeper realities. 

Satan IS the Accuser (even Revelation 12:10 agrees with this, and I never disputed it). But he was not assigned to do so by God. God gave all His angels free will, and some misused it. That is the Biblical story (you see it in the case of the angels that came to Earth in Noah's time period, and materialized bodies to take wives from among humans; a thing that Jehovah never intended, and for which they will be punished). Or there was the Prince of the Royal Realm of Persia (this was a powerful demon that resisted an angelic messenger for 21 days, according to Daniel 10:12-14). The point is that certain angelic creatures freely chose to sin, just as Satan did; they were not created nor intended to do so. 

a) Your Bob and Mary analogy is fallacious on its face, since there is no similarity between a fellow human permitting evil, and the Creator permitting it (especially when I've shown that He will undo all the effects of evil, and give innocent people a chance at eternal life in perfection). Your second point about God not giving "full, unambiguous knowledge" is also deeply flawed, since that would get in the way of Satan making his case. Remember? Satan has to be allowed to make the case that human beings can rule themselves successfully, under his influence, without God. If God were to constantly (or even frequently) interject Himself into the situation, He would corrupt the test, and it could always be said that Satan might have been right. 

b) The "ilk" I was referring to were those demons which followed Satan willingly (having full knowledge) + those humans that have known the truth completely, but have apostatized from it. The rest of humanity (the innocent ones who don't know what's going on, are among the "unrighteous" of Acts 24:15, and will be resurrected and given a thousand years to be taught the truth and choose whether to live by it). 

The explanation is fine, if you pay attention to the details (like the fact that Satan has to actually be allowed to make his case before all angelic and human creation). And I haven't concocted this explanation myself; this is what the Bible teaches. 

c) Most people believe themselves to be "open-minded and rational". What I've found is that many of the ones who proclaim it the loudest are the ones who will run everything we say through a Naturalistic filter. This is, of course, logically absurd, since we're not addressing the problem of evil from a Naturalistic worldview. But, just keep that in mind as I go over the objections to certain Messianic prophecies. The ones that spend the most time saying they are "open to the evidence" are often the most biased. And God is called an "examiner of hearts" (Proverbs 21:2), so He knows which ones are actually receptive to life-changing information, and which ones just say so. 

I) I note that your response didn't actually show that Jesus WASN'T born in Bethlehem Ephrathah, and all accounts indicate he was. As to your second point about him ruling in Israel, this is a red herring. For one thing, Israel lost God's favor, and is no longer His chosen people. Jeremiah prophesied this would occur (Jeremiah 31: 31-33), and the "Israel of God" would come to represent the anointed Christian congregation (Galatians 6:16; we know it can't be the literal nation of Israel, because of statements like the ones Jesus made at Matthew 23:37, 38 and 21:43). In any case, the disciples still thought Jesus would reign over literal Israel until they received divine revelation to the contrary (compare Acts 1:6 to insights that came after Acts 2:4; for example Acts 10:34, 35, 44, and 45). 
II) You spend way to much time worrying about the "day for a year" matter, when all I was showing was that this was a legitimate way to take Daniel's prophecy; it's permissible to look at prophecies that way, unless indicated otherwise. I also substantiated it by showing that the Jews already had "weeks of years" in their Law, since every seventh year was called a "Sabbath Year", and was treated as such. Since this is a permissible interpretation, and doesn't even require anything out of the ordinary for the Jews, the fact that it leads squarely to the date of Jesus' baptism is indeed remarkable. 
III) You can accept these explanations if you find them compelling. I, for one, think that these arguments are truly silly. For example, he goes on and on about how Psalm 22:16 uses a verb that could mean "mauling" or "digging" or "gouging", but this is so completely irrelevant it's astounding to me that anyone bothers with it. Jesus was killed on a stake (not a cross, by the way), and the nails would indeed dig or gouge his wrists and hands, as his body weight pulled down on them. To say that this somehow invalidates the prophecy two verses later is absurd. Also, the best argument the video could make about Psalm 34:20 was that there's no indication that these were Messianic prophecies, and there are two points to make here: 1) "Prophecy" just means "Divine statement" or "statement from God". It needn't be a prediction, per se; it could be revealing something current (for example, many of Jeremiah's writings applied to the present situation of his day, but those statements are still "prophecies", because they came from Jehovah). 2) An important truth is mentioned by an angelic messenger at Revelation 19:10. Judging from this (and from the fact that this angel had been around during all the other prophetic inspirations, and was speaking from a knowledge of these). So, my point is that the divine statements ("prophecies") in the OT all eventually end up pointing to the Messiah and the outworking of God's purpose by means of him. The Jews did not doubt this, and the angel in Revelation confirms it. So, the Psalms can indeed be taken as Messianic prophecies. 

e) Your problem is that you are much too interested in "punishment" (kind of funny, since that charge is often leveled at Christians). Adam was punished by being made imperfect, and therefore dying. Death absolves him from sin, just as surely as anyone else (Romans 6:7, 23), and there is no further "punishing" to do to Adam. The problem is that an imperfect man cannot bear perfect children. So, we inherit imperfection (and, subsequently, death) from Adam. This requires *atoning* (not further punishing), and Jehovah saw fit to accept the sacrifice of another perfect man, in Adam's place. Jesus, being perfect, and never sinning, was killed *unjustly* (by Satan, mind you, not by God). His death should never have occurred (indeed, he had the potential to live forever, and have an entirely new human race from his offspring). However, he (and his potential offspring) did die, and so humanity's debt is paid by the counter-acting value of a truly innocent man. Now, Jehovah resurrected Jesus to spirit life, and as a "High Priest" in the actual "Most Holy" (heaven) Jesus presented the value of his perfect blood to atone for the debt of Adam (Hebrews 9). This is what the Bible teaches, and remember, I never said you'd like it. I said I'd tell you what the Bible teaches. You can take it or leave it. 

I think we've come to the end of this particular line of discussion. Honestly, I think our other discussion needs to end as well. I'll address your points once or twice more, but we're starting to argue in circles, and I think we'll end up agreeing to disagree. Let me again commend you for the depth of your thinking, and for the courtesy and politeness you've maintained throughout our discussions. It's a shame we couldn't just sit and chat sometime about these matters. 


NoctambulantJoycean, "Re: Suffering", 6/22/12

Hello Mentat.

Consider this my last statement on this topic; don't respond to this.

Maybe there was some confusion. My mistake. I asked for your Biblical explanations because I was curious. I wondered if your views were different from what I'd heard before (I grew up in a very Christian home, during undergrad I went out of my way to examine different varieties of Christianity, etc.). Upon reading your views, I realized they weren't too different from what I've heard. There's no shame in that; I too share many positions with other atheists. So my previous PM was geared towards explaining WHY I think those Christian explanations are implausible.

However, if your purpose was to explain your position rather than defend it or field criticism, it's my fault for misunderstanding. I'll devote the rest of this PM to clarifying some of my points and explaining why, even when I was a child, I could never really accept these Christian/Biblical explanations (it wasn't just a matter of me not "liking" the bible's answers, as you suggest).

1) You say, "science changes all the time (even in fundamental, paradigmatic ways)." I have too much faith in you to think your going to use this point to argue against scientific claims. Yes, scientists modify their ideas all the time, sometimes in fundamental, paradigmatic ways. They do so because of new evidence. That's what every honest person would do in any legitimate field of discourse. We consider it an epistemic virtue to modify one's ideas in light of evidence; we don't laud enterprises that simply continuing saying the same thing for millennia, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

In your explanations of a literal Adam and Eve, I hope you're not running a God-of-the-gaps argument. This is one reason I don't take God-based explanations seriously; they only seem to explain phenomena we've have a very poor understanding of or have little information about. The moment we get enough information, the God-explanation is immediately dropped for another, more plausible explanation (ex: what causes diseases, where do our moral judgments come from [moral psychology's moved past God-based explanations], what forces hold the "heavens" in place, etc.).

I'm pretty sure D'Souza is just running a God-of-the-gaps argument. He's trying to shoe-horn God into a domain where we don't have complete information. However, the information we do have rules out his explanation. It's incorrect to say, "humanity...had an inexplicable 'awakening' a few thousand years ago, where all of civilization seems to have BURST onto the scene." First, it's not inexplicable (i.e. we don't need to resort to God over naturalistic explanations). There were modifications in the primate brain that allowed for increased cognitive function. Before you leap to God as an explanation for these changes note that: 1) there were previous modifications in the primate brain before the changes that occurred in the human lineage; did God cause all these as well? 2) Paleontology is littered with examples of different organs from different species changing form; did God cause all these as well? We have evolutionary explanations for the phenomena discussed it 1 and 2; it's ad hoc for D'Souza to shoe-horn God in when he wants to explain developments in the human brain. I'll go with an evolutionary explanation, thank you; one that's unguided and does not involve God metaphorically "breathing" into things. This explanation will be combined will other explanations for which we have evidence: increased food production from a shift from hunter-gatherer to agriculture enables people to support larger populations, (slow steady, not a "BURST") domestication of animals, etc.

Second, long before this "BURST" is civilization, we have examples of primates (some outside the "human" lineage that led to us and some ancestors of that lineage) making and using tools, communicating with one another, hunting in groups, making art, and BURYING AND MOURNING FOR THEIR DEAD (pre-sin). So did God's breathing "sentience" into us happen before or after these primates, some of whom were not of the human lineage, began displaying such behaviors? You know, behaviors we associate with sentience. Again, this is why I can't take Genesis or the Adam/Eve story is literally true; it does not make sense of the evidence we have, even after people like D'Souza attempt arcane, ad hoc, insufficient explanations to square it with our evidence. Why not treat it as we do creation stories from other societies: it's a story that got things wrong?

You say, "ignoring your point about allegory (which seems to be "if I can't see the point of the allegory, then it fails to be a proper allegory"; an argument which I believe would disappear if you took a course in Eastern Philosophy, for example)." You misread me. First, I have taken a course in Eastern philosophy, if by "Eastern" you mean "East Asian." And I have done a little reading into the ancient cultures of the Middle East. Second, when I called Genesis a "failed allegory" I was not saying it was not an allegory. Just as literal stories can fail if they don't match real-world facts, allegories can fail when they convey incorrect messages, lessons, morals, etc. They can fail when their non-literal meaning is incorrect. I granted that you were correct about the point of the Genesis allegory, and then showed that the allegories message was INCORRECT. So I clearly got the "point" of the allegory. Just as an allegory would be "improper" if it conveyed the message that men were more deserving of power in the family than than women, Genesis' allegory is incorrect because it blames the first humans (or humanity in general)for something that was completely out of their control: whether or not they suffered/died.

Finally, you discuss some points about things from the "Earth-bound perspective." Again, I'm not going to bend over backwards to make as much of Genesis literally true as possible, and then make non-literal all those parts I can't take as true. I treat other creation stories the stories the same way. But again, I'm curious about how your "perspective" account explains Genesis' incorrect order for the emergence of different types of organisms? Also, there were carnivores long before there were sentient humans; to say otherwise is to flat-out contradict our scientific evidence. So animals did not live together in peace before humanity and there is no reason to think that human lived together in peace with the animals, especially given the fact that the direct ancestors of the sentient humans probably hunted and ate other organisms. You say, "the Genesis account does not claim that ANIMALS didn't die before the sin in Eden." OK. Our best scientific evidence suggests that some animals feel pain. So God created complex, non-human animals that suffered and died. Did they get a choice or opportunity for perfection or a choice in their suffering, à la Adam and Eve? Again, Genesis has all the hallmarks of ma myth written by a society which did not hold non-human animals in high regards (they sacrificed them, after all) or with due respect. And no, I'm not going to accept your claim that, "as to animals and humans existing together in peace, any of the three options I gave above for Adam and Eve could easily explain how our discoveries are simply missing a piece," just because "science changes." I'd rather go with a position that is open new evidence and reflects the best of our knowledge, rather than a position that has very little evidence going for it.

2) My sources say the Satan was the Accuser and God assigned this role to it; I'm going off some lectures I saw on the Old Testament Jewish sources. Again, I would not be surprised if the New Testament sources offered a revised account of Satan. In that case, they were RE-INTERPRETING their Jewish sources. So I don't place much stock in your Revelations quote. And your other two Old Testament references make no mention of Satan nor claim that it took the role of Accuser without God's consent. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Jewish authors of the Old Testament really thought of Satan as an Accuser who rebelled against God. But I'll need evidence to the contrary in order to rebut the evidence I do have.

a) In the Bob and Mary analogy, I showed you that a person can choose not to serve a being they think is cruel without this decision being based on self interest. This rebutted the standard apologetic line you recited: "they choose not to serve God unless they 'get something out of it'" (which is ironic since you think God has told Christians it will punish them for sin and reward them for believing yet you don't think Christians are acting from self-interest). Pointing out that Bob is not exactly analogous to Bob does nothing to address this point. You just moved on to another standard apologetic line: trying to move God into some special category where we morally evaluate it in a different way.

I don't care whether God is "the Creator"; just because a being created X does not affect my moral evaluations about how that being treats X. Anyway, we judge both divine and non-divine agents based on what they say, their actions (and inaction), information we have about them, etc. So if someone knows God is permitting evil, they are justified in making judgments about God based on its action. It's sort of a dilemma. If we can't use our evidence to make judgments about God, then no one should judge God's nature. That includes theists saying God is good. If we can use our evidence, then just as Christians will try to use their religious experience and texts to judge god as good, other people can use God's inaction to judge God as not good. That was another point of my analogy. You also say, "he [God] will undo all the effects of evil, and give innocent people a chance at eternal life in perfection." And? How does that justify allowing rape? If God makes it all better it=n the end, why let things go wrong in the first place? I've already dealt with your sovereignty explanation in my previous PM and showed it makes little sense. So I'm waiting for an explanation that's actually plausible. And Satan does not need to be "allowed" to make his case, especially since he'll deceive people and get in God's goal of allowing people to make an informed choice. You also argue God should not "interject" himself into the test. You know, like it (supposedly) did in its appearance to Paul or any of the other instances of religious experience Christians cite. Or like you claim it did with giving prophecy? Or... Again, apologists only go with "God wouldn't want to intervene" line when it's convenient. Otherwise, they're willing to have God intervene whenever.

b) During my last year of undergrad, I listened to two introductory on-line Yale courses: one on the Old Testament and one on the New Testament. The courses were basically lectures by two experts in the field. Both individuals stressed that modern Christians are misguided when treat the Bible as one monolithic book with a central message that none of it's component books contradict (ex: your claim that "this is what the Bible teaches"). Instead, the Bible is sort of a mini-library, with different books written by different authors with different goals. This is true even if Christianity is correct and the authors were divinely inspired. There's not one monolithic message. There are points at which different authors disagree with one another, both on literal and non-literal/allegorical points. That's one of the things that makes the Bible so rich and interesting (it also explains my point in section 2 about the Old and New Testament versions of Satan). So, I don't follow your habit of discussing "what the Bible teaches." I instead focus on what different BOOKS or SECTIONS of the Bible teach, while fully acknowledging that due to different authors having different goals and messages, other passages of the Bible might not square with this teaching.

c) You begrudgingly discuss people who aren't open to life-changing information. Well, imagine how those people feel when they look upon apologists. These people (who work in fields ranging from evolutionary biology, meta-ethics, ancient history, psychology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, textual criticism, etc.) have to put up with religious apologists who come into their field and, instead of using the available evidence to argue for plausible conclusions, tailor their interpretations to reach their pre-determined theological conclusions, even when that leads in ad hoc, implausible results. And then they have the nerve to go around saying people aren't "open to the evidence"? That's one reason why, in most fields, people are perfectly OK with people with people being religious as long as they KEEP IT SEPARATE from their intellectual work in the field.

Anyway, there are tons of religions in the world and many non-religious positions. All have various apologists. Now put yourself in the shoes of an "open-minded and rational" people, some of whom may be naturalists because they have seen no evidence for accepting non-naturalist claims. These people think to themselves, "it'd be so easy for the God of any one of these religions, if it existed, to just show up and give people clear, unambiguous evidence of its existence, nature, and intentions. However, if these religions are just human inventions, we'd not expect this. We'd instead expect human apologists for these religions to go around trying to convince everyone their religion was correct. They'd point out how the prophecies of their religion were uniquely correct even though: 1) they wouldn't need to do this if their God existed since there God could make its existence clearly known and would not need to resort to mere prophecies (that many humans would never hear about, by the way) to establish its existence [it makes no sense to say God does not want to intervene when it's supposedly SENDING PROPHECIES] 2) all the prophecies we've thus examined have problems. If God wanted people to have 'life-changing information', why not just give them that information instead of sending it through fallible human-couriers who won't reach everyone? Those seem like the methods of mere humans spreading a religion whose God does not exist, as opposed to the methods a divine being would use to spread it's message. And, of course, the apologists for each religion will have implausible explanations for why their particular God chose this method of information dissemination." So even before you begin to explain your prophecies, many "open-minded and rational" people will justifiably doubt your claims.

I) My point was not "a red herring." The Micah chapter clearly says the Messiah will be ruler in Israel DIRECTLY AFTER the verse you quote; please read the chapter. Where does the Jeremiah passage say Israel is no longer God's chosen people, let alone imply that the "ruler" in the Micah passage would not be ruler of the nation of Israel? If you want to understand what the Micah passage read, find out who scholars think wrote the passage and for what purpose it was written. Or read the verse in context, where Israel is clearly meant to refer to the nation of Israel whose goings forth are from of old. Don't just choose the reading that's convenient for your prophetic purpose. Next, see my previous point in section b; stop reading the Bible as one monolithic work where all the authors agree and only one message is being taught. Most credible Biblical scholars I've encountered don't read the Bible like that. And certainly don't use statements FROM JESUS to argue that I should interpret a specific Old Testament verse in such a way that it implies JESUS IS THE MESSIAH. That's circular.

Furthermore, you can't just point out messianic criteria that Jesus met, while ignoring those he failed to meet. If we could do that, then, as I discussed in my previous PM, I could say that ANYONE born in Bethlehem was the Messiah and that they would fulfill the other messianic criteria after they were brought back to life (even though the Old Testament makes no mention of the messiah dying or fulfilling certain messianic criteria after being brought back to life). Similarly, I consider the disciples thoughts about Jesus returning to rule Israel (as discussed in your cited Acts passages) to just be attempts to get Jesus to fulfill messianic criteria he failed to meet in life via bringing him back to life.
Also, I'm not a Biblical scholar so I'm not sure if all accounts point to Jesus being born in Bethlehem; I noted as much in my previous PM. I simply explained, 1) my distrust of the gospels (particularly Matthew, Luke, and John) when it came to Jesus fulfilling prophecies [since they show a tendency to make stuff up in order to ensure Jesus fulfills prophecy] and thus my skepticism about any claim within them about Jesus being born in Bethlehem and 2) even if Jesus was born in Bethlehem, that's an extremely underwhelming criteria to meet. There were plenty of people born of Bethlehem. We need to examine other components of the prophecy in Micah. And, as I've argued, when we do we see Jesus failed to fulfill the other terms of the prophecy.

II) I don't consider numerological coincidences remarkable. Anyway, if we take the Daniel passage at face value and interpret the passage under its natural reading, it does not lead to Jesus. I highly doubt you would have chosen to interpret the Daniel passage in the way you did ("days as years", "weeks of years", saying Jesus became the Messiah upon baptism and opposed to birth or death or...etc.) unless you already knew your interpretation would lead to Jesus. As we've already seen that in your discussion of the Micah passage, you were willing to overlook the part in the prophecy about the messiah being "ruler in Israel" to focus on the interpretation that led to Jesus. You're working backwards from the conclusion you want; I'm just trying to take the prophecies on their own terms. There are a number of "legitimate" ways of looking at prophecies; don't just choose the one that leads to your desired result. Instead, choose readings that most plausibly fit with a natural, uncontrived, and simple reading of the text. And nowhere in the Daniel passage (as opposed to the other passages you cited) is it suggested that we take days as years.

III) I'm not trying to be a jerk here; I'm trying to make a sincere point. It looks like you equivocating or playing words games with the term "messianic prophecy." A messianic prophecy is a statement made about what the coming messiah will be like. In the Old Testament, these prophecies are clearly demarcated by their language and their reference to the messiah; this prevents readers from ripping passages out of context and applying claims that were not meant to be messianic prophecies as messianic prophecies. But this is precisely what you do. You say, "'prophecy' just means 'Divine statement' or 'statement from God'. It needn't be a prediction, per se" and then use this to argue that, "the Psalms can indeed be taken as Messianic prophecies." Um, no. A messianic prophecy is a divine message about the coming of a PARTICULAR PERSON: namely, the Jewish messiah. Again, to prevent the misappropriation of prophecies, the Jewish writers of the Old Testament made it quite clear when they were making claims about the messiah. The whole of Psalms is not prefaced as a messianic prophecy. Neither is Psalm 34 nor most of the book of the book, for that matter. It also rarely makes mention of the messiah, and when it does it should be those parts that should be taken as messianic prophecy, not the entire book. Unless you want to say the passages about evil sinners are also messianic prophecies. So you're misappropriating a prophecy and using wordplay to do it.

e) Well... screw it. I'm not going to spend another section arguing over ethics, punishment vs. atonement, value, etc, when you made it clear in your previous PM that you weren't going to respond. Your committed to your Christian theology and this skews your judgments about guilt and responsibility. You've also mischaracterized my arguments at other points and employed ad hoc wordplay. So I see no point in wasting further time on this particular topic.


Mentat1231, "Re: Ontological and Metaphysical arguments", 6/18/12


As I said in the other PM, this discussion is nearing its close. We're going around in circles. Besides, responding to such a huge PM as this is simply untenable in my life at this time. I'll do my best to respond to your main points, but I need to re-create the numbering system, since this one has been stretched to the limit, and is nearly incomprehensible. One point, before I get started: I never took your "LOL" as a mockery, nor did I intend mine as such. I was honestly reporting moments when I "laughed out loud", which is what I thought you had been doing as well. I apologize if any offense was given. 

On to the main points: 

1) This is the first point that needs dealing with, as it keeps popping up, and it is an irrelevant nuisance: I am indeed talking about logical possibility. That includes what is possible by pure logic + mathematics + definitional/conceptual non-contradiction. That's it. Whether that is the "logical ontological argument" or not seems utterly irrelevant, since I've always made it clear that that's what I meant. When I use terms like "logically incoherent", I include that which is incoherent from a purely logical standpoint (like p does not equal p), that which is mathematically incoherent (like the highest possible prime number has more than two divisors), and that which is definitionally/conceptually incoherent (like "the Prime Minister is a bicycle", since Prime Ministers are not the kinds of things that can be bicycles). These are actually very much related, and I don't need anything beyond them to make my case. Now, you say in various places that you have shown the logical OA to be fallacious or contradictory, but I went back and looked at the PMs, and you have done no such thing. Could you please tell me why you think there's anything wrong with saying "an MGB exists in a Possible World, because there is nothing incoherent about it in terms of logic, mathematics, or definition"? That is how Possible Worlds are usually defined, isn't it? "A possible configuration of reality, such that no logical, mathematical, or definitional incoherence is entailed"? Side-note: It'd be nice if you did this BEFORE littering a PM with statements like "... since God is metaphysically impossible...." These kinds of (completely unsubstantiated) statements made me cringe more than once while reading this PM. 

2) The prime-mover required by the PSR argument need not be the MGB. I am only substantiating a logically necessary creator separately from the moral argument itself to prove it's possible. (Same goes for my defense of the Ontological argument.) And you have certainly not demonstrated that the prime-mover wouldn't be a mind, since I have addressed all your refutations, and will do so again later in this enormous PM ;-) The very idea that you have somehow proven K does not equal C, just because you've refuted your own strawmen (like K being the MGB/MEB, which I did not claim) is a bit naïve, don't you think? 

3) Your response about the design inference has way too many possible branches, and, as I mentioned, I don't have the time. However, your two basic objections seemed to be: 1) The right way to infer design is to disqualify naturalistic, non-mental explanations; and 2) try to give reasons/motives why an intelligence would go through the trouble. Well, these are easily given in the case of the design of the Universe. For example, no naturalistic explanation for the constants and quantities of the Universe (which are exquisitely fine-tuned, such that intelligent life exists) has yet been given. Attempts have been made, but they have strong defeaters against them, so we are satisfying point (1) quite well. For point (2), Swinburne argues that it is a very good thing to have intelligent, free, moral agents in the Universe, and that God's motives for doing so seem quite evident. 

4) If we are "causally isolated" from C (your claim; not mine), then it is irrational to postulate it. All we have is the PSR, which show that our contingent Universe needs an external cause. To postulate any chain of "Cs" before we get to the "K" is utterly ad hoc, since we have no evidence that the Cs must exist, only evidence that the K must. Surely you see how often you cut yourself on Occam's Razor, don't you? The PSR requires only two entities: 1) The contingent Universe; 2) A logically necessary cause, which explains the contingent Universe. To add (3) (A chain of contingent causes between the two things necessitated by the PSR argument), is to multiply entities beyond necessity. You then talk about how timeless minds must be non-functioning. I can agree with that, and never claimed that God was "functioning" during the eternal, timeless moment. Rather, His first "function" was the creative choice. However, all knowledge was available to Him for eternity past, because He is omniscient. To compare that to human minds, and try to intuit that He could not know all things, and believe all true things eternally, is rather silly. There is no reason to suppose this is impossible, or even unlikely. 

5) An eternal, timeless cause cannot have a finite effect, unless there is free agency involved. The reasoning is simple, if the fully sufficient causal conditions are present for an effect (E), then E will occur. But, if the cause was timeless, then effect would also exist timelessly, and we could not pin-point its beginning a finite time ago. It's like saying that a container with water in it was below 0 degrees Celsius eternally, and independent of time, and yet the water only froze a moment ago. It cannot be unless the sufficient causal conditions are actually a free agent, who can CHOOSE to produce E. Craig gives the example of a man who has been sitting eternally, but simply chooses to stand up. 

6) You talk a lot about my inventing some philosophy of mind in an ad hoc manner, but this is simply mistaken. I am not stating anything about the way human minds work, nor am I simply cherry-picking attributes I would LIKE a mind to have. I am extrapolating from the arguments I've presented what kind of mind God MUST have; and this holds whether or not our minds are anything like His. 

7) Your supposed defeaters for simultaneous causation are, very plainly, non-sequitors. Just because the analogy to a ball and foil is two entities in time, doesn't mean that it cannot work with a being that creates time, and is therefore within time from that instant onward. You showed no logical or rational reason why the analogy fails; you merely stated a difference, but didn't show that it was a relevant difference (especially since God has been "within time" ever since that instant, and therefore the ball and foil really are analogous, since we are dealing with a cause and an effect IN TIME). And the point about a cause "preventing" something vs. "creating" something is really very weak, and I don't know why you presented it. One could say God "prevented" the timeless moment from going on, by creating time. "Prevention" and "creation" are really just two ways of talking about the same thing, and it changes nothing about my argument. The ball *creates* a shape in the foil, which would not have existed otherwise. To say that it's really just "preventing" the foil from taking other shapes is no different than saying God is preventing the Universe (or "reality") from being any other way. 

8) If beliefs, desires, et cetera were "parts of the mind", then someone with fewer beliefs would have "less of a mind" than someone else. This just does not intuitively follow, since each person has a mind, they just might have applied it to fewer considerations, or perhaps formed fewer strong opinions. As to beliefs and desires having causal relations, so do the properties and states of an electron. It is still simple (has no parts), and it still has the properties and states it has *simply by virtue of being an electron*. Thus a mind, if it is simple (and we certainly perceive our minds as simple (not having separate parts) and continuous, from the first-person perspective), will have certain beliefs and desires, NOT as a function of some pieces of itself, but rather simply by virtue of being a mind. 

Besides, your objection to Divine Simplicity was that God would need to be complex in order to have intelligence, creativity of design, etc, so I have given a model whereby the mind can be perfectly simple and yet do all those things. You don't have to accept it (you don't HAVE to accept anything), but you haven't shown anything wrong with it, so it is a viable model, and the problem of God being complex is dissolved. This is so, even if other beings with minds (like humans) turn out to be different. 

9) I'm sorry, but you are simply wrong about the Socrates syllogism. For one thing, you fail to recognize that the first premise in this style of syllogism is called a "universal affirmative", and is indeed meant to make an absolute statement about a class of things. This has been rigorously and constantly distinguished from inferences of INDUCTION, such as "all swans are white". The question of Socrates' mortality is not being determined by induction (since the whole point of him being IMmortal would be as a startling exception to the norm). A UNIVERSAL affirmative is being made, such that the set of things that are "men" is entirely contained within the set of things that are mortal. Anything that is not mortal is not a man, though there may be lots of other mortal things which are not men. That's how universal affirmatives work, and I assume you already know this. 

As to the application to the ontological argument, let me remind you of Aristotle's definition of the syllogism: "It is a discourse in which, certain things having been supposed, something different from the things supposed results of necessity because these things are so." So, let's put Socrates, Steve, and OA through the test of this classic definition: Socrates passes, because neither premise explicitly states his mortality (though they do imply it). Steve does not pass, because you've already stated everything there is to say about being "unmarried" explicitly in the first premise. It is just a matter of labels. The OA passes just like Socrates does, because you do not explicitly state that the MGB exists in all worlds or in the real world, in the premises. You derive it. Once again, by the very nature of syllogisms, the Ontological Argument is sound. 

So to quickly address your comparison to Steve, when you stated "Steve is a bachelor", you had already stated everything that could be said about Steve being an unmarried man. Then you conclude with "Steve is an unmarried man", once again stating those very same things. In the Ontological Argument, we first state that an MGB could exist, then we focus on JUST ONE property (namely, necessary existence), and extrapolate that the MGB exists in reality. We COULD HAVE focused on omnipotence instead, and conluded to "therefore, in some possible world, the MGB can tie my shoes". This is informative and not question-begging, because it focuses on a single attribute, and reveals something not explicitly stated in the other premises. And here's the cool part: you prove it with your remodeling of the Steve Syllogism. You say "therefore there is someone besides me who knows what it's like to be single", and THAT (unlike your original syllogism) IS informative and not question-begging at all! When you focus on a particular quality, derived from the properties of Steve, and then make a new statement that follows from this specific property, you have made a good syllogism. THAT is what the OA does, and THAT is why it is not question-begging or uninformative. Can you not see that?? 

10) SO MUCH is resolved if you'll just look at my "highest prime number" point head-on. I looked back at the other PM's, and you have managed to side-step this every time (by doubting the NE property of numbers, which is irrelevant, since this is a conditional; by saying that I'm not doing the "logical ontological argument" and therefore can't compare it to numbers; etc). But address it directly, and so much of our disagreement disappears. I'll show you how: 

Let's suppose that numbers are NE (I'll make sure of that in point 11, but let's presume it for now). That means ANY given number, by virtue of being a number, is an NE. So, if it is possible for, say, a highest prime number to exist, then it instantly follows that it exists in every Possible World. This doesn't come from any other property of the highest prime number, and it doesn't somehow "confuse" or "equivocate" on definitional vs. ontologically-committing meanings of "exist". It simply does exist, because all numbers that CAN exist DO exist! So it is with the MGB. There are properties that this being would have if it existed at all, and one of them is NE, by definition. So, just as with the highest possible prime number, you have two options: Either show that the MGB is impossible, or accept that it exists in every Possible World. And conceivability doesn't enter into it, since I can conceive of a world where the highest possible prime number doesn't exist, but if it turns out that this concept is coherent, then what I've "conceived" is simply WRONG. 

11) If nothing ELSE existed, then the number zero would exist. Pay attention to the wording. You jumped to "if there were no entities in the world in question", but that isn't what I said, is it? I said "no OTHER entities". The abstract object called zero certainly exists in this World, and it describes (for example) the number of unicorns in my office. But, in a possible world where there was no physical reality at all (for example), the number zero would also apply to the number of stars or planets or people. That abstract object cannot fail to exist in any Possible World, since the description of the world requires it (even if you tried to say "the world where there are no numbers", you'd be saying "the world where there are zero numbers", which is a self-contradiction). And one can extrapolate the other numbers from zero (since zero is itself a number, so there is one thing, but now there are two, and so on). Similar reasoning applies to the null set. You know what's funny? I got this from W. V. O. Quine and Peter Atkins (a logician/philosopher and a scientist/mathematician, both of whom are staunch atheists and naturalists). The simple fact is that even incorrigible naturalists accept the necessary existence of the numbers and mathematical sets (as well as logical truths, without which you certainly could not describe a Possible World). 

12) As to arbitrarily leaving out a GMP, we are describing whether a "greatest being" can exist. Everything else is irrelevant. A "greatest being" would have all the great-making properties in their maximal instantiation, REGARDLESS of who or what else might exist. 

13) On the MFB, I just don't know if I'll ever get you to see this. It is plain as day to me that a person cannot be frightened by a property of something, but rather by the belief that something has that property. So, you can "stipulate" that all day, but I really think you're stipulating a non-concept. Having an emotional response (like fright) to something involves believing, not reality. I can be afraid of a hideous troll that I believe in, but which doesn't actually exist; but I cannot be frightened by a troll that actually does exist, but which I don't believe in. 

14) Swinburne has argued that there are MANY (if not an infinite number) of cases where there is not single "morally best choice". Your argument fails. 

And I can say "God chooses among equally moral options" since obviously each of these as just as much "endorsed" by God's nature as the others, and so He freely chooses one. 

15) Omnipotence simply means that anything which logically could be done, can be done by the entity in question. Creating a rock too heavy for this entity isn't something that logically could be done, and therefore even the entity cannot do it (it's not a coherent request; it's like asking the entity to "purple a door knob"). Lifting any rock which can logically exist, is another ability of this entity. There is no contradiction. As to the other properties cooperating, I really don't see how having all knowledge (and therefore being unable to conceal any information from yourself) is a real hindrance on omnipotence. "The knowledge unknown to the omniscient being" is incoherent, and could not logically exist. Therefore, once again, it's just the omnipotent being not being able to "purple a doorknob". 

16) I'll tackle meta-ethics in that thread, and leave it out of here, since it really is unrelated. 

17) The Great-Making Properties have a great deal to do with potential "usefulness" or "capacity" within a particular World. I have consistently defined them this way, so there is nothing "ad hoc" about denying properties which I don't think add to the capacities of the being in question. You spend a lot of time trying to defeat the idea that "all-existence" removes omnipotence, but let's say I set that aside for the moment. It still hasn't ADDED any capacities in a world, since anything God can do to Himself, He could do to Himself whether beings were around or not. And being "all free" is just an absence of limitations on choice, and I could grant this (especially after setting aside that part of the A-E debate), and just say that God will always choose what is right. 

18) Finally, NE confers objective value because we can do higher-order reasoning (above the contingent level of what "happens to be true"; at the level of logic and math, where things MUST be so) predicated on God, only if He is an NE. If He were contingent, then reasoning or inferrence based on Him would be equally contingent. So, it adds objective value for Him to be NE. Indeed, in the "Meta-Ethics" discussion, I've given an argument showing that if He is not an NE, then moral values are not objective. So, that is independent attestation to NE being a GMP. 

As I mentioned above, I won't be able to keep this up much longer. I'm too busy, and we don't seem to be going very far anyway. However, I'm very glad to read your responses, and I'll try not to kill the conversation prematurely. Just know that we'll need to start wrapping things up soon. 



NoctambulantJoycean, "Re: Ontological and metaphysical arguments", 6/22/12


1) In the paragraph right before section 6a of prelude 2 my previous PM, I told you where I rebutted the logical OA. I quote: "prelude 2 of my 6/1/12 PM." I can't believe you missed that despite my citation.

You say, "could you please tell me why you think there's anything wrong with saying 'an MGB exists in a Possible World, because there is nothing incoherent about it in terms of logic, mathematics, or definition'? That is how Possible Worlds are usually defined, isn't it?" We've been over this in our discussion of logical vs. broadly logical. Again I quote: "A proposition is possible in the broadly logical sense just in case its denial is not a necessary truth. Plantinga adopts the notion of broadly logical modality to allow for the necessity of propositions that are neither truths of logic nor mathematics, nor the denials of the truths of logic or mathematics (The Analytic Theist, page 23)." If by "possible world" you mean "METAPHYSICALLY (broadly logical) possible worlds" then no, your definition of possible worlds is incorrect; this is not how metaphysically possible worlds are defined. As my quote from Plantinga shows, you don't establish metaphysical possibility by showing something is not "incoherent... in terms of logic, mathematics, or definition."

If by "possible world" you mean "logically possible" world, then your definition is correct but 1) I dealt with that argument in "prelude 2 of my 6/1/12 PM" and 2) in prelude 2 of your 6/4/12 response you clearly said "I thought by now it was evident that I meant the "broadly logical" sense in which Plantinga argues. As such, so long as the non-existence of an MGB is not a necessary truth, then P1 is true. Perhaps I've obfuscated the issue a bit by statements like 'unless X is logically incoherent'. I suppose I should have said 'unless X is necessarily false'." So you clearly intended to run the metaphysical OA, so I don't why you're switching to the logical OA now. Maybe for convenience.

2) "The prime-mover required by the PSR argument need not be the MGB." I simply warned you against providing two different definitions for the label "God." So don't label or define the prime mover as the MGB. That leaves you having to argue that the MGB is the prime mover in the real world. If I'm to interpret your above quote as saying you have not argued for the MGB being the prime mover in our world, then I'm confused. Are you saying the MGB is not the prime mover? For example, I can say that the cat Felix was the cat that scratched me without DEFINING Felix as the cat that scratched me. So are you really not arguing that the MGB is not the prime mover (even though you have not defined it as such)? Is this what you mean by "K being the MGB/MEB, which I did not claim"? That's great. Sorry for straw-manning you. The maximally great being is not the K of our world, so now let's look for a non-God thing to be the primer mover.

Anyway, in 4 you claim the "PSR requires only two entities: 1) The contingent Universe; 2) A logically necessary cause, which explains the contingent Universe." This is a claim that N (the logically necessary thing) is C (the cause of the universe) in our world. So is the cause of our universe also the prime mover (K)? Note, I'm not asking you if you've DEFINED N as C, or C and K, or or N as K? I'm asking you if you think it's true that in our world, the same being (the MGB) fulfills all three roles (N, C, and K). If so, then I have not straw-manned you. If not, thank you for saying the MGB is not the cause of the universe, the logically necessary being of the PSR, or the prime mover. That makes my job so much easier.

3) You say "no naturalistic explanation for the constants and quantities of the Universe (which are exquisitely fine-tuned, such that intelligent life exists) has yet been given." Yes, and I argue that no plausible mental cause has been given either. I've argued timeless minds are not neither conscious nor functioning. They don't make decisions. Also, our experience suggests that non-physical minds, like physical objects in our universe, have causes. That goes along with my other arguments against a mind being C. So if we go off our experience in the world without cheery-picking intuitions, we would not call the cause of the universe a mind. Furthermore, note the clause at the end of my part 2 condition: the claim about a mechanism or an explanation of how the minds in questions did or could have produced the phenomena is question. This is to prevent "God-of-the-gaps"-type arguments where we don't have a naturalistic explanation for phenomena P, and so propose a mind as a cause for P. It's easy to describe a mind and detail its motives such that it's interested in any phenomena P. For example, in my previous PM I discussed beings interested in rocks. So God-of-the-gaps proponents could find ANY phenomena P for which we lacked a naturalistic explanation, construct a description for a mind that's interested in P, and then propose that mind as the cause of P. That's a cheap way to explain whatever you don't have significant info about. So I'm not impressed that Swinburne can construct a description of a being that would be interested in life.

Instead, as in the SETI and cryptography example, he needs to explain how he thinks the mind did or could have made life. After all, this is what naturalist's do. We are able to test and rule out naturalistic explanation because their proponents bother to give us DETAILED explanations of how the proposed processes work, so we can make testable, falsifiable predictions. Of course Swinburne, like most theists who propose God-based explanations (see Meyers, Dembski, etc.), does not give us that level of detail. That's why Meyers can spend a whole book mostly surveying naturalistic explanations while naturalists can't do the same to ID's empirical explanations since those explanations are so lacking in content. Swinburne does not tell us HOW God COULD have made the universe in a way that would result in predictions we could test. This explanation is worse than false; it's not even something we can confirm or falsify. It's like me saying an evil God created life because it wanted to create thing that could suffer and it did this by "free will/agent causation." Really? If that's the explanation, we have unambiguously observed agent causation. And as I discuss in the reply to prelude 2 section of my 6/5/12 PM (paragraph beginng "But let's say..."), it involves a mind acting VIA physical properties IN TIME and acting as an efficient cause of material substance (again, see TheoreticalBullshit's videos Kalam). That does not provide a mechanism or an explanation for how a timeless being with no physical properties produced physical universe by being an efficient cause with no material cause. Might as well call that sort of mechanism "magic." It's unconfirmable, made-up metaphysics to allow a mind to be the cause of the universe.

4) In Occam's razor, you're right that you can't multiply entities beyond NECESSITY. However, if you have sufficient evidence or reasons for including more entities, then you can. That's the point of the "NECESSITY" part. I'm arguing that if you say C is a mind then, based on our experiences with minds, you are justified in saying C would need a cause, and thus introducing the chain of causation I was talking about. And I also argued that if the MEB is, than C is contingent and by the PSRs own reasoning, C would thus require a cause and thus lead to the chain of causes I've mentioned. And I've consistently argued from the beginning of this debate that the MGB is metaphysically impossible, and so could not be C anyway.

If by beliefs you mean "occurrent beliefs" then it's false that God, "believe[d] all true things eternally." But it's occurrent states that are involved in choices, decisions, etc. So I argued that a timeless God could not make decisions and thus the "choice of a timeless mind" could not be the cause of the universe. Furthermore, God "know[s] all things" timelessly in the same sense I "know" things when I'm unconscious; i.e. in an unconscious way involving no occurrent states, thought, reflection on the information etc. If you want to call that "knowledge", you're abusing the term. So I guess God starts to "know" stuff, in the relevant sense, once it's in time.

So uou have two options: either a timeless mind caused the universe or temporal mind caused the universe. I've argued against the former because atemporal minds don't make choices or decisions. The temporal option is incorrect because a being can't cause the existence of something it's a part of. More precisely, God's choice at moment t1 could not have CAUSED space-time time to exist because space-time ALREADY EXISTED at t1. It's as absurd as saying the following:

My house began to exist at t1 (t1 was the first moment my house existed). I was in my house at t1. My state at t1 (i.e. my state when I was in the house at t1) caused my house to begin existing at t1.

How can your state when you were in the house have caused the house to exist when you were already in the house; the house ALREADY existed at the exact moment of your choice. In fact, you would not be in the state you were in if the house DID NOT ALREADY EXIST at the moment of your choice. Similarly how can a God's temporal decision (i.e. a decision already within an already existing space-time) have caused that space-time to exist?

5) "The example of a man who has been sitting eternally, but simply chooses to stand up" does not apply because, as both you and I have noted, the timeless cause did not "wait around eternally"; there WAS NO WAIT. It existed in a timeless sphere where either time did not apply because time did not exist, or it was a "timeless moment" (whatever that is). No time passed. Your water analogy betrays this same point. The water was not below zero "eternally"; it was below zero for precisely NO AMOUNT OF TIME. You're equivocating between a sense of "eternally" where a cause sits around for an infinite amount of time (or a non-zero amount of time) waiting to produce it's effect and a sense of "eternally" where a cause is around for precisely NO TIME AT ALL. With this equivocation dealt with, once we apply the correct notion of "eternal" I don't see why if a mental cause could wait around for NO TIME before producing it's effect, a non-metal cause could not do the same.

6) I could parallel your point and say, "I am not stating anything about how the way non-mental objects work nor am I cherry-picking attributes I would LIKE the non-mental object (ex: the multiverse) to have. I am extrapolating from the arguments I've presented what kind of traits the multiverse MUST have; and this holds whether or not our universe is anything like the multiverse [or non-mental objects/non-mental causation in our universe is anything like non-mental objects/non-mental causation outside our universe]." It should thus be clear what's going on. In my above statement, I'm really just asserting that the multiverse is the cause of the universe and then constructing whatever new, implausible + counterintuitive metaphysics is necessary for the multiverse to serve as the cause of the universe. Any evidence against my theory is just evidence derived from lowly non-metal causes in our world. That' what I'm saying you're doing. That's what my I discussed in section 5 of my previous PM; once you can ad-hoc-ly construct metaphysics to say what your proposed cause must be like to be the cause of the universe, your pet God explanation looks no more plausible than the multiverse.

7) You say, "'prevention' and 'creation' are really just two ways of talking about the same thing." No, they aren't. It's the difference between saying "I prevented AN ALREADY EXISTING piece of foil from going somewhere" and "I caused a piece of foil to BEGIN EXISTING (ex nihilo)" (again see TheoreticalBullshit's videos of Kalam). As I explained in my previous PM, for the ball analogy to mirror the God case you would not say the ball's state at t1 caused the shape of the foil at t1; you'd say the ball's state at t1 caused the foil to begin existing at t1. Or better yet, to parallel the temporal God's existence within space-time: the ball's state at t1 causes time to begin existing. And now the problem is clear; your state when you're already in X can't be what caused X to begin existing since X ALREADY EXISTED when your state occurred. So I've explained why the ball analogy fails and provided a better analogy in section 4.

8) You say, "if beliefs, desires, et cetera were 'parts of the mind', then someone with fewer beliefs would have 'less of a mind' than someone else." That's an intentionally awkward way of stating it. It's like saying, "if house X has less bricks than house Y, then X would have 'less of a house (or less of a building)' than Y." Does the awkwardness show bricks are not parts of house? No. The sentence has been phrased in an intentionally awkward way and should be rephrased as, "...X would have less bricks than Y." Similarly, your awkward phrase should be rephrased "...someone would have less beliefs, desires, etc. than someone else." And even though both your phrase and my phrase are awkward, strictly speaking they're correct. A mind with only a few beliefs or desires is simpler and made up of less components than a mind with many more beliefs and desires. Same for the building case. That's the truth our awkward sentences were trying to get at.

You also say, "as to beliefs and desires having causal relations, so do the properties and states of an electron." Beliefs and desires causally interact WITH ONE ANOTHER. Name any properties/states of a fundamental particle that causally interact WITH ONE ANOTHER (avoid the electron example, since we know electrons are not simply [unless, of course, "science changes"; why trust science's judgments on this matter? ;) ]). If a thing is simple, it's a "homogenous" entity that lacks causally interacting parts. Minds have interacting parts, so they aren't simply.

Finally, you say "I [Mentat] have given a model whereby the mind can be perfectly simple and yet do all those things." No, you haven't. As I've said before, a functioning mind has beliefs and desires which causally interact with one another, motivations that interact with another motivations to produce still further motivation, thoughts that cause/change other independent thoughts, etc. This is an account of a heterogenous mind with parts that interact with another; i.e. a complex mind. If your God is not like this (i.e. it's simple), your God is not a functioning mind and thus lacks intelligence, creativity, etc.

9) I looked up "universal affirmatives". I found no place where they were taken to be conceptual or definitional truths nor were they "distinguished from inferences of INDUCTION, such as 'all swans are white'." Universal affirmative are simply propositions of the logical form "All S are P"; there's no tied in epistemological claim about how such propositions are confirmed. Just like conditionals in propositional logic have the form "If A, then P", universal affirmatives in Aristotlean logic have a certain form. In fact, some of the standard examples of universal affirmatives are CLEARLY not conceptual truths and are instead empirical generalizations: "all politicians are liars, all good web pages are written in html, etc."

For your Aristotle paragraph, you continue to avoid the issue. The conclusion of the Steve argument is implicit in the premise because of facts about meaning. The premise and conclusion are conceptually equivalent; you've already stated everything in the conclusion in the premise. The conclusion says the same thing as the premises, but in different words. The EXACT SAME THING is true of the OA. You used the CONCEPTUAL truths about what necessity and possibility MEAN (i.e. the logical operations/truth values of modal terms). Your conclusion means the same thing as your premises; it's just a rewording of the same truths. If you don't understand that, you don't understand the semantics (the MEANING) of modal terms. And you don't get to dodge the issue (for the umpteenth time) by saying you "derived" the conclusion in OQA. Well, I "derived" my conclusion in the Steve argument using conceptual truths. Doesn't change the fact that my conclusion is just a rephrasing of the premise. "Logical derivation", for the UMPTEENTH TIME, is just another way of saying you've "used the conceptual truths of logic to reach a conclusion." STOP AVOIDING THIS POINT. Now do you understand? Or are you still going to act like this is false, without explaining why logical derivation is not what I've said it is? If you don't believe me, look up the SEMANTICS of modal logic and show me where I'm wrong. Stop employing the CONCEPTUAL TRUTHS of modal logic, while acting like you're not by hiding behind terms like "derive".

I've given you the definition of question-begging and uninformative before. The revised Steve argument is not question-begging because the conclusion does not conceptually entail its non-logical premises. The OA does, and so is question-begging. This has nothing to do with saying the argument "focus on a particular quality, derived from the properties of Steve, and then make a new statement that follows from this specific property". You're making up definitions for terms again (as I argued you did for "incoherence" in paragraph 3 of section A3 of my previous PM); in this case, "question-begging". I've already explained in previous PMS why OA is uninformative to anyone who understands modal logic and the semantics (meaning) of the modal terms involved.

10) My mistake. Sorry. I was wrong about everything up until you say, "And conceivability..." After that, things go wrong. Your coherence point only holds if numbers are taken to be logically necessary (not broadly logically necessary or metaphysically necessary); if the concept is coherent, then numbers exists in every logically possible world. You can't be running the logical OA for reasons I went over in section 1. So you can't use the coherence (or logical possibility) of a metaphysically necessary MGB to argue for the existence of this MGB. And a logically necessary MGB is incoherent, as discussed in prelude 2 of my 6/1/12 PM.

11) The statement "the world where there are no numbers" does imply "the world where there are zero numbers," if by "zero" you simply mean to DESCRIBE how many numbers there are (call these usage "d-numbers"). But that's different from numbers treated as separately existing, ontologically distinct things (call these "o-numbers"). That's the point nominalists like Craig make. Just because you can describe me as having "1 nose" does not imply there is some additional metaphysical entity known as 1 that is coincident with my nose, let alone some separately existing, nonphysical entity known as "1" that could not be causing my judgment that "you have 1 nose" since it lacks causal powers. D-Numbers as descriptions are mere abstractions, meant to describe a situation. Here's one way to distinguish between d- and o-numbers. If I destroy my nose, then it's no longer true that I have 1 nose; the d-number "one" has disappeared. But the o-number remains untouched. It's (supposedly) a separately existing abstract entity that causally interacts with things like my nose or me. You might be tempted to say "when I say 'I have one nose', I am describing a real property in the world; i.e. 1." First, isn't that property annihilated once I destroy my nose? That's the difference between specific instantiations of properties and indestructible non-physical, abstract numbers in Plato's sense. Second, that would not defend your "0" argument because something can only have properties if it exists. If there was nothing (besides 0) that existed, there would be NO THING to have the d-number 0 apply to it and thus have the d-property 0. Your argument, at best, shows that there are d-numbers, which are not the same thing as the indestructible, NE o-numbers. I suspect this is why the naturalists Quine and Atkins can use your argument; there are content to say we can use d-numbers to describe things without being committed to NE abstract objects.

Your thought experiment still confuses me. You say, "if nothing ELSE existed, then the number zero would exist." OK. You've made a claim about what would be true in a world where the abstract object "0" existed. The proponent of contingent numbers or that NE numbers don't exist wants you discuss worlds where there are no numbers. So you missed the mark. Also, random question: are the non-natural numbers (real numbers, irrational numbers, fractions, decimals, etc.) NE as well? Because your argument from the existence of zeroes to the existence of other numbers does not work for non-natural numbers, negative numbers, etc.

12) If you're going to show an MGB exists, you're committed (based on your definition of the MGB) to saying that the resulting being possesses ALL the great-making properties (including, if my arguments are correct, "maximal freedom" and "all-existence"). Now if the MGB has properties the Christian God does not have, then the Christian God is not the MGB. And since the MGB is omnipotent and there plausibly can't be 2 omnipotent beings in the same world, I would thus have an argument against the Christian God. If you're going to use OA as an argument for the Christian God or at least a being compatible with Christianity, the MGB can't have properties we know your Christian God lacks.

13) And now I'm going to follow through on my threat from my previous PM and ignore your stipulated definition of maximal greatness. A being is maximally great when it a) possesses objective valuable properties that admit of degrees and, b) for a given valuable property, it's not possible for another being to have that property in a higher degree. God has given people joy and thus done a useful, valuable thing. He's a "joy-giver" and this meets condition a. But it's possible God could have made more people and thus given out more joy. So God fails condition b. "But, wait," you might say, "great-making properties have intrinsic maxima. My stipulated definition says so. There's no intrinsic maximum to the number of people God could make." My response, "who cares what your definition says. If you get to change the meaning of my stipulated MFB as you see fit, then I'm going to follow through on my threat to do the same as you. For something to fail to be maximally great, there does not ACTUALLY have to be a maximum for the great-making property, just like 7 can fail to be the maximally large number even if there is no maximum for the property 'quantity.' To tack on 'having an intrinsic maximum' to your concept of 'maximum greatness' is to stipulate a non-concept. No, I'm not going to bother showing your concept is incoherent before saying it's a non-concept. I didn't like your stipulated definition since it conflicted with the usage of 'maximal' and 'great' in other contexts, so I'm just going to ignore your stipulations. It is plain as day to me that a being can fail to be reach the maximum of a property, even if that property has no intrinsic maximum."

14) I'm sure there are an infinite MANY ways for me to pick up my pencil or mow my lawn. The interesting distinction is not between the slight difference in the ways I mow my lawn, but in my choice to mow my lawn. The relevant differences between doing X1, X2, etc. need to be large enough to produce significantly different corresponding results Y1, Y2, etc. But if the results are significantly different, it's unlikely that all the results will be morally equivalent (assuming each result is not purely non-moral).

15) You hold "omnipotence simply means that anything which logically could be done, can be done by the entity". This is ambiguous between two readings:

a) Omnipotence entails being able to do any act that is not inherently incoherent/contradictory (i.e. not a pseudo-task).

b) Omnipotence entails being able to do any act that does not contradict other features of your nature.

Let's go with reading a. You say, "creating a rock too heavy [call this P] for this entity isn't something that logically could be done." That's false. I discussed this in my previous PM; this is not a pseudo-task or an incoherent request since humans can make rocks that are too heavy for us to lift. Same for L, where L is the ability to lift any rock. Here's an example of a real incoherent/pseudo-act: making a square-circle. Neither L nor P is incoherent in this way, so God should be able to do either L or P. So what's the problem?

The problem emerges when we go with reading b. The only reason your God cannot do P is because you want to call this being omnipotent in the "a" sense and thus want it to be able to do the logically possible, non-pseudo task L. Drop the idea that God can lift any rock and it's pretty clear that "creating a rock to heavy for it to lift" is a perfectly coherent request. So God can't do P if it can do L and can't do L if it can do P. This suggests that reading b is what's involved here since God can't do actions that contradict other aspects of its nature. But if we go with reading b, as I discussed in my previous PM, every being (including humans and animals) is omnipotent. Why can't I sprout wings and fly? Because this contradicts another feature of my being; namely having the kind of body I do. Why can't God make a rock so heavy it could not lift it? Because this contradicts another feature of its being it would have if it was omnipotent in the "a" sense; namely, being able to lift any rock.

So omnipotence, in the sense used in a, is an incoherent concept. It implies that it's possible for a being to due have two abilities that involve two different non-pseudo-tasks which are not contradictory on their own [P and L], when it's logically impossible for a being to have both abilities. In your omniscience example, the contradiction was apparent since it is part of the definition of omniscience that the being in question knows everything. Not knowing information is not an incoherent pseudo act like "purpling a door knob" since humans don't know things; it's just not a feature an omniscient being can't have since it contradicts with the property of omniscience.

And, to go back to our original topic, God can't do morally bad things while being omnibenevolent. This is not because doing bad things is a pseudo-act (contrary to your claim); it's because once you've said God is all-good, you've basically stated that it can't do bad acts. But that's no more interesting than saying if I was all-good, it would be contradictory to say I did bad things. Well, yeah. And if I did bad things, I would not be all-good. So when you reply to the question "why does God always do the good" with "because God is omnibenevolent and to do the bad would be pseudo-act", you have not really the answered; you've answered the question by basically saying "God always does the good." Not a very interesting answer.

16, 17) You only defined the "value" part great-making properties with "usefulness" or "capacity" in your 2nd or 3rd response to my A-E. And in our meta-ethical discussion, you were happy to criticize me for linking moral value (a subset of objective value) with usefulness (which I never did, by the way). So in one debate you link value to usefulness and in another debate you criticize me when you think I link value to usefulness. Yeah. You can forgive me if I felt your theory of value as "involving usefulness" was just an ad hoc construction you made to rebut my A-E point and you would never employ such a notion of objective value otherwise. Or do you really thing that God's moral trait of "all-goodness" has objective value in the sense of usefulness (contrary to your claims in the metaethics debate)?

On you're A-E point, as I discussed in my previous PM, the same idea applies to NE: NE, "hasn't ADDED any capacities in a world" since God's capacities within a world don't depend on what's going on in other worlds. Even if other possible worlds exist, they're causally isolated from this world, so God's existence within them gives it no further powers in this world.

To reiterate, freedom is valuable (in your sense) since it gives a being more capabilities to do things and allows it to be more useful (there's a wider range of things it can do). It admits of degrees (more or less available choices) and has a logical maximum (where a being can do WHATEVER it wants, as long as what it wants is not logically contradictory or a pseudo-act). "It is plain as day to me that" your definition of maximal freedom as "an absence of limitations on choice" MIGHT be correct and thus allow freedom to have degrees[you've already admitted a state with only two options has degrees: see part B, paragraph 4 of your 6/6/12 PM]. So maximal freedom is a GMP. The Christian God's choices are limited; it cannot even do things that are slightly less than morally perfect. So, the Christian God is not maximally free, lacks a GMP, and is therefore not the MGB (see section 12).

18) You're wrong. "It is plain as day to me" that a person cannot reason based on a property of something, but rather they reason based on the belief that something has that property. So God would only need to make us THINK it was NE in order for us to use it in our inference. So a being need not NE in order to be useful to us (and therefore valuable). Therefore NE is not a GMP. And before you start complaining that I'm ignoring your account of value or you can modify your thesis so it's about justified/correct reasoning we do in light of truly understanding God's nature or...remember that I gave similar responses on the MFB and you ignored them in section 13. So I'll do the same to you. Same goes for your account of value; "it's plain as day to me" that something can be valuable without being useful or providing additional capacities to the beings to which it's attached. You're stipulating a non-concept of value.

On a more direct note, A-E is useful to God. If God was not A-E, God could not simply use facts about its own nature deduce all the facts about what goes on in every universe since there would be things that existed outside of God's nature. If God is A-E, then God's knowledge of its own nature is all it needs. Even if God is omniscient and would have known what was going on anyway, being A-E reduced the number of beliefs God has (or the amount of information it needs to be aware of) and is thus useful to God. And there's still the possibility that God could create other beings WITHIN itself; these beings would be inessential features of God (i.e. they don't exist in every possible world in which God exists). God could thus be useful to these beings even if it was A-E and knowing that God was A-E would allow those beings to make inferences about other worlds based solely on God's nature. And before you say it's absurd or ad hoc to say God could have things be apart itself, see historical theistic attempts to make the events occur in the mind of God (example: Berkeley) or make abstract objects apart of God.


Mentat1231, "Re: Ontological and metaphysical arguments", 6/22/12


Well, I've enjoyed our discussions, and I value your thoughts a great deal, but it seems we've finally reached the end. I'll respond briefly below (certain points really do need clearing up, and I do want you to properly understand my argument, even if you don't accept it). Please don't take this to mean that I've despaired of talking with you, or that I find you unreasonable. I just think the conversation has run its course. 

1) As I said, I looked back at all the PMs, and there was no actual proof that a MGB involving logical necessity was incoherent. Your supposed proof at 6/1/12, prelude 2, was to do with the situation where MEB is a coherent concept and MGB is a SEPARATE but coherent concept. Since we've agreed to discuss only an MGB (since, in my opinion, MEB arbitrarily leaves out a GMP), you shouldn't have pointed to an argument that involved the difference between the two. I have argued that NE is a quality numbers possess (and, if not numbers, then logical truths; I'll get back to this in point 11). I've shown that it is greater than contingency, and is therefore a GMP, which the MGB would need to have. And (key point): Since the number 7 and the "logically-necessary number 7" are not separate concepts, but one and the same, your argument from 6/1/12 completely evaporates. 
P1) The numbers are inherently NE (I'll argue for this in point 11, but this is a conditional). 
P2) The only entities that can exist in a Possible World, are the ones that don't involve a logical, mathematical, or definitional contradiction. (This, by the way, is as "broad" as I've ever meant to go, when I agreed to "broadly logical possibility", and it is what Plantinga has mentioned in his lectures, so I assumed that's what you meant as well... Besides, these three are VERY much related, and are often used interchangeably (e.g. it is logically, mathematically, and definitionally incoherent for a prime number to have more than two divisors). 
C1) Any number that is postulated to exist is either logically/mathematically/definitionally incoherent (henceforth: "incoherent"), or else it exists in every PW. 
Corollary to C1) It is incoherent to speak of a number that only exists in some PWs, but not others. 

My argument is that an MGB (an entity defined as "possessing all the GMPs at maximum") would need to share this property with the numbers, logical truths, or whatever entity you accept as having it. Again, I'll return to this in #11, so this should suffice for #1. 

2) The point was the the Ontological Argument and the PSR Argument are to be kept SEPARATE. If you do mix them, then there is no logical reason why the K needs to also be the MGB. This cannot be directly inferred, and would just be an assertion. However, if kept separate (as I kept trying to help you do), you would see that the OA, the PSR, and the Moral Argument, all give a logically necessary creator of the Universe, independently of each other. 

3) If you look back, it was not I who argued that design inference was made based on 1) surveying possible naturalistic explanations and falsfying them + 2) trying to give reasons or motives for why the being would go through the trouble... those were YOUR criteria! In the case of cryptography, for example, you first falsify any theory that purports to give a naturalistic explanation for the apparent code, and then you think of motives for why someone would send that particular code. You are NOT then obliged to give an exact description of how minds interact with bodies and how those bodies interact with devices that make coded messages, etc. Nor are you obliged to give the ONLY plausible motivation for the code (at least, not by your stated criteria: you just said "think of reasons/motives"). So, basically, you set up some criteria, different from mine, for establishing a proper design inference. I met those criteria, and then you tried to "up the ante" on them in a completely unreasonable way (since no one in their right mind would really think you need a proper philosophy of mind, and mind-body interaction, before you can interpret a code or an ET signal). 

As to reasons why you think the agent causation hypothesis works, I have addressed them already, but will do so again, in brief: 
a) You say "timeless minds are non-functioning". I agree. But the decision was not made in the "timeless state". It was the first point in time, and is therefore WITHIN TIME. It was the first "function" of that mind. 
b) Our experience is always going to need to make an exception for the beginning of all things, even in a naturalistic explanation. Our common experience does not include the creation of Universes, nor the coming into being of all reality (a one-time event). So, I don't think it's a very strong argument at all to say that God's mind and His production of a Universe are "outside our normal experience". How could they be otherwise?? 
c) Substance Dualists do not claim to know how our minds interact with our brains; they just rule out any other theories of mind, and show that we are LEFT WITH interactionist dualism. This is not "of-the-gaps" reasoning, it is inference to the best explanation, even if the precise mechanisms are subject for further inquiry later. 

4) There are two main points here as well, so I'll address them: 
a) Our experience may say that all minds are contingent, but it also says that all minds are human. It's silly to say that that somehow "proves" there is no Extraterrestrial, or non-human intelligence in the Universe. And so, it is silly to say that because all the minds we know of in regular experience are contingent, that therefore God's mind is too. 
b) God possessed all the properties of an omniscient mind for an eternal, timeless "moment", as I've stated before. This is just like the number 7 possessing all of its properties eternally, and timelessly, prior to the Universe's creation. The knowledge and comprehension of all things is ever-present before God's mind. It is present now, and it was present at the beginning of the Universe. I just don't see what's wrong with this argument, and perhaps I never will. God created the "house" at the very instant that He made His first decision (which was to make the house). As an omnipotent being, His decision came true instantly, and simultaneously with His making it. 

5) Non-mental causes can't freely choose to produce an effect. They are either sufficient to produce the effect (and therefore DO produce that effect), or they are insufficient. But a mental cause can be sufficient, and yet not produce its effect for simply not having *chosen* to do so. Now, I understand why the "man sitting for eternity" seems to be equivocating on "eternity" (since it doesn't seem "timeless", but seems like it has been the case for "infinite time"), however this is not the sense in which Craig means it. What Craig means is that, because we can pin-point the beginning of our Universe, we know that it does not exist timelessly (just as, if we can pin-point the moment the man stood up, we know he hasn't been standing timelessly). However, if there is a sufficient cause of the Universe, and it existed timelessly (which it would have to, since time is within the Universe), then the Universe itself should exist timelessly, and it doesn't. The only explanation is that the man was sitting for an eternal (that is to say "beginningless") timeless moment, and then his standing up was the first point of time. 

6) You did not argue up to the multiverse, you simply presented it to avoid an unwanted conclusion (namely: God's existence). It is an alternative. However, I have shown that a mind with free will is necessarily inferred from the arguments, and therefore the multiverse is an insufficient explanation. More importantly, I am objecting to your statements about "inventing a philosophy of mind" because the mind of God does not need to be anything like our minds. In fact, Peter van Inwagen is a materialist about human beings (he thinks our minds are just brain function), and yet still believes God is an immaterial mind (he just takes God as the exception, since the arguments all point to that one, unique example of an immaterial mind). See the difference? I never argued that your multiverse hypothesis didn't work because it required some new "philosophy of Universes" or anything like that, since that wouldn't be true. You'd be arguing for a special case (which may or may not also apply to other entities), and I would know that. I argued against the multiverse because it is insufficient, and we have no separate reasons for believing in it. 

7) If you read my point in the previous PM carefully, you'd see that I actually substantiated called "prevention" and "causation" to ways of saying the same thing. I didn't just state it. The point is that any cause is really a prevention (usually preventing things from going on as they were). This, in its most basic sense, is what God did by creating the Universe. The timeless moment was prevented from being real anymore, because now time existed. And other realities were prevented from existing, by God creating this particular reality. This is just like the equivalence of saying "the ball causes a shape in the foil" and saying "the ball prevents the foil from taking on other shapes". The point is that causes can be simultaneous with their effects. I've addressed the "house" analogy above, so I hope this point is clear. 

8) I worded it correctly. It was the FACT of the matter that was awkward, not the wording. Your re-wording either creates a tautolous, vacuous statement, or it begs the question (it's either "if someone has fewer beliefs then they have fewer beliefs", or "if someone has fewer beliefs, then they have fewer pieces to their mind, since minds are composed of beliefs"). In any case, here is the real, key point: An entity either has a mind or it doesn't. It's a 1 or a 0. If I have a mind, then I am capable of beliefs, desires, choices, etc. If I don't have a mind, then I am not capable of these things. But having fewer beliefs than someone else doesn't make it into "1/2 a mind" or "3/4" of a mind. And minds are not "built" from beliefs (as a house is from bricks), but are a simple given, a "1". If you can't see that, then I'll probably never convince you, but it seems quite obvious to me. 
Current science does indeed take the electron as a simple, fundamental entity (not composed of anything smaller). Superstring theory wouldn't even challenge this, since the 1-d string would be an indivisible, simple entity. So I don't know where you get the notion that "we know electrons are not simple". In any case, we'll use a photon (just for the heck of it). It can have a certain vector of movement and a certain wavelength, by virtue of which the light beam is "red-shifted" or "blue-shifted". These are properties of the photon, but they are not "constituents" or "pieces" of it. 
So, I have indeed given a model of the mind as simple, with many properties (just as a simple particle can have several properties). This is how we experience the mind from the first-person perspective anyway, if that helps at all (you do seem to like going from our "experience", and our experience is of a unitary mind, not broken into many pieces). 

9) The point is that, when a universal affirmative proposition is made, the truth of the subsequent inferrences is based entirely on the idea that the affirmative is absolutely true (NOT, on the idea that it is provisionally true, until some counter-example comes along; that is not how universal affirmatives are treated in syllogistic logic). For example, Leibniz re-wrote the universal affirmative "All A's are B's" as "A ∞ AB". That is to say "the concepts included in (A&B) are the same concepts included in (A)". So, the statement "all men are mortal" is the statement "all concepts included in 'mortal man' are the same concepts included in 'man'". This makes it a conceptual truth, and the syllogism proceeds as such. 

On the Aristotle point, I'm simply amazed that you didn't see how this resolves the issue. Aristotle's definition makes it very plain that to re-state the exact same thing (even using different words) as both the premise and the conclusion is to make a malformed syllogism. However, that same definition shows that to derive logically a truth which is not explicitly stated in the premises, is to make a valid syllogism. The OA does not state "The MGB is instantiated in every possible world, including this one" as the first premise any more than the Socrates Syllogism states "Socrates is mortal just like all other men" in the first premise. It is IMPLICIT in the statement "All men are mortal" (as I showed in the previous paragraph), but is not EXPLICITLY stated. Rather it is derived logically. The Steve syllogism states the same thing twice with just different wording. This is uninformative and question-begging. But the OA does not do that, but does exactly what the Socrates Syllogism does. Again, if you can't see this by now, then I will probably never be able to convey it to you. 

Look, the moment you say "all men are mortal" and "Socrates is a man", anyone who knows anything about modal logic will already know the conclusion. But it is not uninformative, since it tells you things about Socrates. By the way, the second premise could have been ommitted, if you just defined Socrates as a man before even beginning with P1. Then you could have just said "All men are mortal, therefore Socrates is mortal". This is how the OA is often presented. However, if I introduce the definitional premise, it's similarity to the Socrates Syllogism becomes even more evident (P3 would be "being an MGB entails all the GMPs, including necessity of existence). In any case, "focusing on one particular quality" is just another way of saying what Aristotle said (namely: "showing something that was not explicitly stated in the premises, but which was implicit in them by logical derivation"). If you can't see this by this point, then I give up. No offense intended. It's probably my fault. 

10) Since I showed that MGBs are not incoherent (at least, not for the reasons you presented in 6/1/12, prelude 2), and given that mathematical and definitional truths are derived directly from logical ones (this is a very long discussion, if you're not already familiar with this fact, but Quine, for example, has shown that everything true in mathematics can be translated into symbolic logic; as for definitions, it is a logical tautology that something is what it is, and isn't what it isn't), we can thus conclude that the argument is to take place in terms logical possibility (which includes mathematical and definitional coherence right along with purely logical coherence), and that the MGB has as much chance of being an NE as the highest prime number does. It is either incoherent or it is an NE. This is the central point of our entire debate, and that's why I've encouraged facing the "highest prime number" problem straight on. Indeed, even if numbers aren't NE's, the counterfactual example still stands and the conditional holds. 

11) A Possible World is a conception of a total way things might have been. They must be coherent descriptions (logically, mathematically, and definitionally) or else they are not a "way things might have been", but merely a nonsensical proposition (like a "married bachelor"). Whether these descriptions are predicated on abstract objects (e.g. numbers that actually exist nonspatiotemporally and nonmentally) is a matter of some debate, but I personally think the arguments for a Platonist view are stronger than any I've heard for any non-Platonist view (including the nominalists). You bring up Craig's nominalism, but this is entirely based on his view that God created ALL things except Himself (a view not necessarily endorsed in the Bible; certainly not required of theists). This is a very weak argument. Quine's and Putnam's arguments from Indispensibility, on the other hand, seem quite compelling (basically, they say that every empirical success of scientific theories, which presuppose mathematical realism, adds warrant to the belief in mathematical realism). 

In any case, if numbers are abstract objects, then they are necessary ones. This is because, if numbers are abstract objects, then the difference between "d" and "o" numbers is no difference at all. There would be no "d" numbers which are not also "o" numbers. Your case of having "1 nose" is a relation of a necessary object to a contingent one. That RELATIONSHIP is also contingent, and ceases when the nose ceases to exist. But the necessary object which held up the other side of the relationship goes on existing and describing other things. As to "0" describing something, it describes the number of material objects in that Possible World. After all, the number 0 describes the number of unicorns in my office, doesn't it? Philosophers like Quine and Putnam (as well as scientists like Atkins) take it as rather evident that no Possible World could exist which did not possess these entities. As I stated before, saying "no numbers exist in this PW" is equivalent to saying "0 numbers exist in this PW", which requires that the abstract object "0" exists in that PW, in order for it to be a proper statement. But that is contradictory, and therefore there are no PWs in which that description applies. 

I like your question about non-natural numbers. My answer would have to be something like this: The existence of non-natural numbers is derived from relationships between the natural numbers, and therefore the non-natural numbers must also exist, in order to describe these relationships. An example would be fractions. The faction "1/2" has to exist, in order to describe the relationship between 6 and 3. So, it follows that "1/2" exists in every PW. I think this extrapolation could go on until all of mathematics exists in every PW. 

12) I don't think your arguments about A-E or maximal freedom are valid, as I'll attempt to show in a moment. As to having two omnipotent beings; I agree that this cannot be the case. And I agree that, since the MGB must exist in every possible world, it becomes logically incoherent that any other omnipotent being exists in any possible world. No debate here. 

13) Forgive me for having frustrated you to the point of arguing irrationally. Surely you'll see that, in establishing a "greatest conceivable being", there must be a maximum to the factors taken into consideration. So, what you're really arguing is "you keep challenging my stipulations, so I'll challenge yours... na na na-na na!". LOL (just teasing, I promise). My answer to that is that you made an incorrect stipulation, and that I showed it was incorrect. Indeed, no subjective, mind-dependent quality (like frightfulness) could be a GMP, and I've shown why. For you to come back and change my stipulations on "GMPs", you'd have to actually show something wrong with them. There is no quid pro quo in pointing out flaws of someone's arguments. 

14) This was a very weak argument, such that, even if I failed to address it at all, nothing would change. But I will address it anyway: All that is required for a person to be a moral agent (even on your stipulated definition) is that a person have an array of choices, and that the choices can be judged as to whether they were "good" or "bad". The MGB would have an array of choices (many of which (perhaps an infinity of which) are equally good; i.e. there is no "best"), and it would choose among them. Upon having chosen, we (or any other moral judges) could examine the action for moral goodness; we would simply always discover that it was as good a choice as could possible be made in that case. The MGB will always choose good things. 

15) On the (a) point: "Creating a rock too heavy for an omnipotent being to lift" is definitionally incoherent, and therefore logically incoherent. No such rock could ever exist in any logically possible world. Such a rock would indeed be like a "round square". 
The (b) point doesn't add much, except to give two other examples, and to call them "uninteresting". Well, on the one hand, it doesn't really matter to me if a property is uninteresting to you (no offense). But on the other hand, you should recognize that "the thing the omniscient being doesn't know" is indeed just like the "married bachelor". It is incoherent. And the "bad act performed by the morally perfect being" is also an incoherent concept, like a round square. This has nothing to do with the other properties, and everything to do with having 0 limits to knowledge, 0 limits to power, and 0 limits to goodness. 

16/17) a) I never said that moral goodness wasn't an objectively valuable thing. I said that the fact of any particular action being "good" is not predicated on usefulness. This is the same mistake you made about my view of science (you took my statement about the value of particular theories, and applied it to the value of science as a discipline; an improper application, as I showed). Being morally perfect endows a being with certain capacities and value in a Possible World (such as being reliable to ground moral values, or being a perfect arbiter of moral disputes, or creating beings with rightly oriented moral intuitions). This is "useful", if you want to use that word, but that doesn't mean that a particular moral value is "good" predicated on its "usefulness". That would be a complete non-sequitor. 
b) NE adds value to the MGB just as surely as it adds value to the numbers. They are non-contingent, absolute truths, from which a thinking being can extrapolate absolute truths, and ground any other knowledge pursuits. Indeed, being an NE makes one intrinsic to reality. As I showed in the separate "meta-ethics" debate, moral realism absolutely depends on a moral being that possesses NE. By these arguments alone I show that NE is objectively valuable (confers capacities and uses in the world) and has a logical maximum. By contrast A-E adds nothing, as I will show in point #18. 
c) You yourself said that maximal freedom does not entail doing a "pseudo-act" (i.e. performing the logically incoherent). Since being morally perfect and yet doing a bad thing is logically incoherent, the being is maximally free without entailing pseud-acts. Also, you said "whatever it WANTS" (capitals mine), and the morally perfect being would never WANT to do what is bad, so you are defeated twice over by your own mouth. The conclusion is this: The MGB would be maximally free to do whatever it wanted, and so maximal freedom is a GMP, and it is possessed at its maximum level by the MGB. QED (just add another acronym). 

18) This is the really fun part: 
a) NE adds capacities that have to do with any reasoning which could even in PRINCIPLE take place in that PW. This is counterfactually true, and it gives a basis for a person to be "wrong" on moral matters, as well as any other matters pertaining to God. Key point: We do not have to subjectively recognize these facts about NE, since we can be wrong about NE things without knowing it. So, NE adds OBJECTIVE value by my definition of "value", and our subjective apprehension of that value (or of the intrinsic reliability it confers) is irrelevant. This is quite different from "fright", which is entirely (100%) predicated on our RESPONSE to the stimulus. **We have to actually be AFRAID for the "frightfulness" to have any meaning**, but we do not have to actually understand numbers in order for them to have meaning. QED yet again. 
b) My definition of "value" has to do with those parameters which would set an entity apart. Since whole discussion is "can a maximally great being exist", these are the proper criteria, and I have defended them on purely objective grounds. 
c) You defeated yourself here, so I actually feel kind of bad pointing it out.... It is of no use to an omniscient being to have its "number of beliefs reduced", as if this somehow made it "easier" to know everything. It just does know everything, regardless of how many things there are to know. You defeated this point yourself with the "creating things within Himself" bit, since then there would still be lots of stuff to know, and so A-E doesn't necessarily confer "less things to know", even if that were valuable to an omniscient being (which it obviously isn't). Finally, I disagree with these theistic claims you mention (about many things existing within God, and yet there being just one entity), so there is no persuasion to be found there. A-E fails to confer any objective value, or change anything at all, and is therefore disqualified. This is not because I *want* it to be so; it just happens to be so. Forgive my saying so, but your attempts to qualify A-E in this paragraph were far beneath the high standard you've set for yourself during our discourses. You are very intelligent, and extremely capable, but your arguments here on point 18 were no good at all. 

In any case, I am not absolutely determined that the discussion should be over, but I'm leaning that way. If you do have responses to make to my points (above), please make them. I will read them, even if I choose not to respond to them. Whatever we decide, I want you to know that I have greatly appreciated your time and thoughtfulness, and I wish you the absolute best. 



Mentat1231, "Typo", 6/22/12


In point #3, I meant to say "as to reasons why you think agent causation DOESN'T work". I don't know why I typed "works"; I guess I was being optimistic! :-S 

Sorry about that. 


NoctambulantJoycean, "Re: Ontological and metaphysical arguments", 7/7/12

Hello Mentat.

This will be my last statement on this topic. I've enjoyed the discussion as well, and it's helped me clarify my thinking and avoid a few fallacious arguments. Still, I don't expect a response. You're probably busy with your new married life, so feel free to read my response in bits and pieces at your own leisure. This will serve as my definitive rebuttal to your claims.

[LNE = logical NE; MNE = metaphysical NE; LMGB= MGB where the necessity involved is logical necessity, MMGB: MGB where the necessity involved is metaphysical necessity]

1) The sets of properties specified by each description are as follows (and analogous so for the MMGB):

MEB : {A1, A2, A3,... A100}
LMGB : {A1, A2, A3, ... A100, LNE}

You claim my proof in prelude 2 involved discussing the MEB. Of course it did. As I've repeatedly said, it's a conceptual truth about LNE that if a being is LNE, then denying the description of that being minus LNE must entail a contradiction or the denial of a logical/conceptual truth. I also made it clear that the contradiction was not supposed to be in denying the being with LNE; it was in denying the existence of the being minus LNE. To put it more simply, a LNE cat is incoherent not because I can deny the existence of the LNE cat without contradicting myself, but because I can deny the existence of a cat without contradiction or denial of a logical/conceptual truth. An example might help.

Let's say I have the concept "horse" and want to know whether the concept of a "horned horse" is coherent. I do not do this by showing there is some description or function (say, "unicorn") that spits out "horned horse," since that description itself could be incoherent. That would be analogous to what you did when you said the function "maximally great being" spat out properties including NE. Instead, I determine whether any of the conceptual truths about "horned" conflict with any of the conceptual truths about "horse". There are a number of ways of doing this. For example, if I showed that the concept "horse" entailed the concept "horned," I would have shown the concept "horned horse" was coherent if "horse" was coherent (analogous to my advice from the last paragraph of section A3 of my 6/17/12 PM that you show how the MEB [not the MGB] entails NE without redefining the MEB into the MGB). Or if I could show that "horned" conceptually entailed "horse" and thus a "horned horse" was coherent if "horned" was coherent (analogous to my advice from paragraph 2 of section B of my 5/30/12 PM that you show how the NE entails MEB). Now, none of the conceptual truths about "horned" contradict the conceptual truths about "horses", so "horned horse" is coherent.

Now take the example of a "married bachelor." Again, it is irrelevant whether one can or cannot construct a function that spits out "married bachelor." Instead, what matters is whether there are any conceptual truths about "married" that conflict with conceptual truths about "bachelor." And, in fact, there are: bachelors, by definition, are unmarried. So the concept "married bachelor" is incoherent. Now, let's take the LMGB (or the MEB + LNE). The question is not whether there is a function that spits outs the traits of the LMGB. Instead, the question is whether there are any conceptual truths about LNE that conflict with conceptual truths about the other features of the LMGB (i.e. the features of the LMGB minus LNE or, more simply, the conceptual truths about the MEB). Now, one conceptual truth about LNE being is that you cannot deny the existence of the being minus LNE, without entailing a contradiction or the denial of a logical/conceptual truth. Since I can deny the existence of the MEB without contradicting myself or denying a logical/conceptual truth, the notion of an "LNE MEB" (or LMGB) is incoherent.

Now, you tried to avoid this issue by limiting conversation to the MGB as opposed to the MEB. But you don't get to do that. It's as misguided as saying, "I want to call X a cat, but I don't want to discuss whether or not X is an animal." Well, I'm sorry. You can't bring up LNE without dealing with the conceptual truths about LNE. So if you want to say the LMGB is coherent, then, by the meaning of the concept LNE, you have no choice but to discuss the MEB and show denying the existence of the MEB entails a contradiction or the denial of a logical/conceptual truth. If you're unwilling to do that, then you cannot bring up LNE.

You again make your "arbitrarily leaving it off" point, when in the 3rd paragraph of section A3 of my 6/17/12 I explained that this is not how incoherence is established. It's your made up definition of incoherence. As in the case of "bachelor" I went over in the last paragraph of section A3 of my 6/17/12 PM, I don't need a logical reason for dropping male off the list of properties in order for the resulting description ("unmarried" or "unmarried non-male") to be coherent. Instead, the burden is on you to show the resulting concept is incoherent. I gave you the tools for doing as discussed earlier in this section. However, you did not take advantage of these tools, and instead went along with your contrived method of establishing incoherence by the "arbitrariness" of breaking off the property. That's not going to fly. So please drop the tangents about "arbitrariness" and explain to me where the entailed contradiction or denial of a logical/conceptual truth is in saying the contingent MEB or not including NE in the group of properties or denying the MEB exists. Again, I don't care that MGB implies NE, just as I don't care that "unicorn" entails "horned"; this does not show that a list of properties of the MGB that does not include NE is incoherent, anymore than this shows that a list of properties of the "unicorn" that does not include "horned" (i.e. the list of properties for "horse") is incoherent.

P2) Read The Analytic Theist quote I provided in my previous PM; Plantinga distinguishes broad logical possibility from logical/definitional/mathematical claims. These latter three are normally grouped under logical/conceptual necessity (i.e. LNE). I'm not concerned about how "very much related" these three concepts are; that doesn't amount to broad logical necessity (or, equivalently, MNE). Craig admits the same; again, search for the following quote in WLC's article "Graham Oppy on the Kalam Cosmological Argument" [or read the whole article]: "broadly logical possibility/necessity is therefore frequently identified with metaphysical possibility/necessity." Nowhere in Plantinga's work does he use broad logical possibility in the way you do; unfortunately, you're again, constructing your own definitions for non-stipulated terms. Broad logical possibility refers to metaphysical possibility, not logical/mathematical possibility/definitional possibility. Period. And you don't establish metaphysical possibility (i.e. broadly logically possibility) by showing a concept is not "logically/mathematically/definitionally incoherent." You're trying to get the benefits of logical possibility in an argument that involves using metaphysical possibility. I'm not going to let you do that (see section 16/17b below for the distinction between logical and metaphysical possibility/necessity).

3) Please don't quote-mine me. Here are my two criteria as I originally presented them, in full: "1) determine whether there are plausible naturalistic, non-mental causes for the phenomena in question and 2) explain why a mind would be interested in sending the pattern seen (this usually includes conjecture about how the mind made and sent the pattern) [emphasis added]." In section 3 of my 6/22/12 PM, I explained why the clause in parentheses was important for avoiding God-of-the-gaps arguments. Of course, since you are a theistic apologist and proponent of God-of-the-gaps argument (see section 1 of my 6/22/12 PM of suffering), you ignored the parenthetical clause when discussing the criteria and claimed I was "upping the ante" in my subsequent PM. The reasons for this are obvious: theistic apologists like you and Swinburne don't bother to offer detailed explanations for how a mind could have made the structures in question. Naturalistic scientists, who are actually interested in extending our understanding, do offer such explanations. In fact, it's because they offer such explanations that we are able to adequately judge their explanations. The proposed mechanisms leave evidence and allow for predictions, so we can meet criteria 1. That's why Stephen Meyers can write an entire book (Signature in the Cell) pointing out issues with various naturalistic MECHANISMS proposed for the origin of DNA and it's replication system, while no one can do the same for Meyers' ID account: scientists actually bother to offer explanations with detailed mechanisms while most ID proponents just engage in hand-waving.

But, of course, naturalistic scientists could choose to act like apologists: offer a vague naturalistic account with no detailed mechanism for how the natural entities made the structures in question, say we don't need "a proper" naturalistic account in order to explain the phenomena in question, and make sure the mechanistic details are vague enough that there explanation cannot be ruled out. This would prevent us from experimentally showing the naturalistic theory to be implausible, thus preventing clause 1 from being met. But, you see, that would be intellectually dishonest. Offering up a vague theory with no mechanistic detail just to avoid disconfirmation (as apologists like you and Swinburne do), might be a great way to make sure your hypothesis is never disconfirmed like other detailed naturalistic accounts, but then it just makes your account completely uninteresting. It's worse than wrong; it's just unconfirmable, God-of-the-gaps reasoning. And if that's really good enough for you, please don't complain about naturalism-of-the-gaps: there is a naturalistic cause that explains the appearance of design and I won't bother to give a detailed mechanism of how the cause does this. So we don't need to resort to God now.

Again, I have no problem with mind-oriented explanations, but only when they bother to give explanations for how the minds caused the phenomena in question. In SETI, we know how humans create radio waves, and assume aliens could do the same via similar methods or physical technology. In cryptography, archaeology, etc. we have detailed explanations for how humans build things, so we have no problems there. In fact, we often perform re-enactments with different tools to test our hypotheses for how the humans built the structures or codes in question. For the God case, we HAVE NO CLUE how an atemporal completely non-physical mind (remember, I'm a property dualist committed to saying humans influence the world, in part, via their physical properties; see my 6/5/12 PM, reply to prelude C, the paragraph beginning, "But let's say I grant even") either: 1) created the universe ex nihilo or 2) caused biological life to exist. If you at least proposed alien minds that acted via their physical properties [as we see human minds do; see my comments from June 2012 on onceforgivennowfree's Youtube video "Intelligent Design For Dummies Part 6 - The Origin of Life (1 of 2)"] you'd at least have the beginnings of a mechanism.

But of course, apologists know where they want the design argument to lead, and it's not in that direction. To go back to the Stephen Meyers example: Meyers spends roughly 4 pages (329, 341-4) of the 550+ page Signature in the Cell actually explaining how intelligence could have produced DNA. And even then it's all intuitive arguments supported by no scientific/cognitive research. And even then it relates to how a temporal mind would cause DNA via its physical attributes in an creation ex material manner, as per my comments from prelude C of my 6/5/12 PM. You see where some people would get the idea that ID with God as the cause is not really a scientific, explanatory position but just a tool used by some theists to argue for their pre-determined conclusion of God and get religion into schools?

So you can't even employ our current understanding of the mind/body interaction to God for at least the following reasons: 1) God (or at least part of God) is atemporal while the minds we have evidence of in the mind/body interaction are temporal; there's no reason to think that the mechanisms via which temporal causes produce effects are analogous to the methods via which atemporal causes produce their effects, 2) God does not have a body (or physical properties) via which it interacts with our world, unlike in our observed cases of mind/body interaction, and 3) our observed cases of mind/body interaction involved causation via creatio ex materia while your God performs the pseudo-magical, borderline incoherent process of causation via creatio ex nihilo. So no, you cannot take advantage of the dualist evidence of the mind-body interaction to support your proposed interaction between God and the universe. And without that, you don't even have a HINT of a plausible mechanism for how God interacted with the universe. So no, I will not even take the God-based explanation as seriously as I would non-mental naturalistic causes or alien causes and I've presented my reasons for this stance. Life on earth may be designed, but our best reasoning would then point to an alien designer, not a divine being which is atemporal, completely non-physical, and can cause things via creatio ex nihilo.

a) A decision made in time, could not have caused time to begin existing since TIME ALREADY EXISTED at the moment of the decision. I just cannot accept your ad hoc, implausible metaphysics of causation. It doesn't make sense.
b) Then please stop using your metaphysical intuitions to argue for God (for example, as you do in the "man eternally waiting" thought experiment, saying the multiverse must be contingent like our universe is, etc.). Either use the evidence we have or don't use the evidence we have; don't only cherry-pick evidence you think supports your God and blow off the other evidence as a product of God's creation being "outside our normal experience." Otherwise, naturalist's can do the same for their multiverse. If you do use the evidence we have, it points to minds being contingent entities that have causes, are temporal, etc. If you don't use our evidence, what justified your acceptance of God as the cause of the universe over some other randomly chosen cause?
c) I never said substance dualism was God-of --the-gaps; read section 3 again. I said that the evidence (if any) we have for interactionist dualism is for a mind interacting with a brain IN TIME and causing physical events in the world via the brain's PHYSICAL PROPERTIES with no instances of efficient causation without material causation. That's nothing like saying a being made time without using physical properties via efficient causation without material causation. The former we could have evidence for; the latter is God-of-the-gaps, empirically empty, theistic apologetics that pretends it can gain support from interactionist dualism. It's magic trying to hide behind the veneer of interactionist dualism.

4) a) See section 3b
b) Nothing is "present" before the mind of a timeless being b/c timeless minds (if that's even a coherent description) don't have occurrent/conscious states. There is no representation. You may be fundamentally confused about causation. At the first moment of time t1, X and Y existed. Y is the temporal framework (i.e. time) and X is a being within time, i.e. a temporal being. How does it make sense to say that X's decision at t1 caused time to exist at t1 when time ALREADY EXISTED at t1. X's state would not have existed without time (Y) already being there, so it makes no sense to say X caused Y. And this is supposed to be more plausible than saying a multiverse with its own space-time caused our space-time?! At least in the multiverse scenario we don't have to say something so absurd as X's state in Y caused Y to begin existing.

5) It's fallacious to assume an effect necessarily shares the properties of its cause. A cause can produce an effect that has properties the cause lacks (ex: your God making evil beings). So, unless we have an argument for thinking otherwise, it's possible that a timeless cause could produce an effect with temporal properties; what's the problem? You asserted that, "if there is a sufficient cause of the Universe, and it existed timelessly (which it would have to, since time is within the Universe), then the Universe itself should exist timelessly" without an adequate explanation of why. First, just because the universe has its own temporal framework does not imply that the cause of the universe (say, the multiverse) could not have its own separate temporal framework. Second, Craig's analogy does not help you because, according to his theory of time, a timeless thing cannot have two separate states A and B because those two states would thus exist at separate TIMES t1 and t2. A timeless being is changeless and thus cannot shift between states. So there is only one state the timeless (i.e. atemporal) thing is in. But then the "waiting man" analogy falls apart. There is no state A where the mental cause is sufficient to produce its effect but chooses not to, and another, different state B where the mental cause is sufficient to produce the effect and now chooses to. That would be, again, to equivocate between the two different senses of the term "eternal" as an infinite sequence of temporal events/states versus one state that is atemporal. There is only one state of the timeless being, so your choice point breaks down.

You go one to say that "because we can pin-point the beginning of our Universe, we know that it does not exist timelessly (just as, if we can pin-point the moment the man stood up, we know he hasn't been standing timelessly)." Yes, but in Craig's analogy, the man was not analogous to the universe (i.e. the effect); the man was analogous to God (i.e. the cause). I'm willing to concede, for the sake of argument, that the universe is temporal and had a beginning. So your point here did not address my contention. Instead, my question to you was: why should I think that the cause of the universe was a mind? If the cause of the universe was temporal (where you take this to mean it existed in the universe's temporal framework), then: 1) I've argued that's incoherent because X can't cause Y to exist at t1 if X could not be in the state it's in at t1 without Y and 2) Craig's analogy was to a timeless, not temporal, cause of the universe so his analogy would be of no help to you. If the cause of the universe was timeless then: a) I've argued that a timeless, functioning mind is incoherent, b) timeless minds lack conscious states and therefore do not make decisions, and c) I don't see how Craig's argument for a timeless mental cause over a timeless non-mental cause gets off the ground without blatantly equivocating between two senses of "eternal".

6) OK. I'm sorry for straw-manning your argument. But my arguments about a functioning timeless mind were not just based on actual experience of human minds; they were claims about what ANY mind would have to be like. I'm saying that no timeless mind would be a functioning mind because functioning minds have beliefs and desires interacting with one another to produce effects both within and outside the mind, i.e. the mind has more than one state and thus is not atemporal. The functioning mind also has occurrent states, which don't occur outside of time. This is not just philosophy of mind in relation to human minds; it's a philosophy of mind that applies to ALL MINDS THAT ARE METAPHYSICALLY POSSIBLE. That's what I intended for my argument. So if van Inwagen chose to argue that God was a timeless, functioning mind, I'd respond that his philosophy of mind made no sense. Also, since I believe I've now defused your arguments for thinking the cause of the universe is a mind, I believe the God explanation has fallen below the multiverse explanation in plausibility. The multiverse explanation is at least metaphysically possible; I've argued that God explanation is metaphysically impossible.

7) Again, I don't think creation is just another type of prevention; creatio ex nihilo =/= creatio ex materia. Bringing X into existence without acting on something outside yourself is not the same thing as affecting X when X already exists or affecting material to craft it into X. You're again equivocating; this time between two senses of "prevent". When the ball prevents the foil from taking a given shape or I prevent my brother from crossing the street, these uses of "prevent" have nothing to do with the ball causing the foil to exist (ex nihilo) or me causing my brother to exist (ex nihilo). Instead, both the ball and I interacted with things which already existed. When you say God "prevented" other realities from existing, that use of prevention does entail creation ex nihilo and is thus not the same type of causation done by the ball or me in our prevention scenarios. Also, God did not prevent other realities from existing by interacting with those realities since those realities did not exist and thus could not be affected by God. This is another difference between the "prevention" I and the ball do, and the supposed "prevention" your God does.

So even if the ball/foil case was an example of simulateneous causation (which I firmly deny), it would not be the same sort of causation needed for your God example; it would not be an example of "X's state A causing Y to shift from state B to C, where B is non-existence and C is some state of existence" [or "X's state A causing time to exist where A requires time for A to be"]. The ball example (if it really is an example of simultaneity) is an example of "X's state A causing Y to shift from state B to state C where neither B nor C are utter non-existence." The ball/foil analogy thus lends no plausibility to your God's creation of the universe; the claim that "God's temporal choice causes the time to exist" is still incoherent.

8) I agree that a person either has a mind or it doesn't, just like X is either a building or it isn't. I think we both agree that just because a given description is binary (you either have it or you don't) does not imply the description references a simply entity that has no parts. For example, I am either President or I'm not. The certainly does not show that being President is a simple state or does not entail other features which can causally interact with one another. Furthermore, saying a mind has parts does not commit me to saying a person has half a mind or ¾ a mind, or anything absurd as that. First, it's relatively hard to count beliefs, so it would be extremely hard to give the sort of precise numbers/fraction you state. Second, as I explained, saying that a mind has parts does not commit me to saying a person has "more of a mind" when they have more beliefs or desires. Again, in the building case, something is either a building or it isn't. If you add more bricks to a building, you are adding parts without making it more a building. And if you remove half of the bricks from a building (and thus remove parts), if the resulting structure is still a building, we don't say you have ½ a building; we say the resulting structure is a building. Similarly, something is either a mind or it isn't. If I remove half your beliefs, you're still a mind; I'm not committed to saying you're ½ a mind. But, just as in the brick case, that does not show that beliefs are not parts of your mind. To put it formally, say X is an A, where A is a binary descriptor: something is either A or not-A. It's possible for me to remove ½ the parts from X to produce Y, and still have Y be an A. I would not be committed to saying Y is "half the A X is" or something like that. So, your argument here against complex minds fails.

Furthermore, you never met my challenge. I claim that our beliefs and desires causally INTERACT WITH ONE ANOTHER to produce further beliefs, desires, motivations, etc. For example, when I use propositions A and B to infer proposition C, my belief that A and my belief that B cause my belief that C. Hume's account of motivations as caused by desires and beliefs further supports the point that beliefs and desires are causally interacting components of a mind. This is basic philosophy of mind and is well-supported via psychological experiments. I then asked you to present me with "states" or "properties" of a fundamental particle, and show these properties INTERACTED WITH ONE ANOTHER. In your example, you don't say the photon's vector of movement and the photon's wavelength interact with one another to produce the red- or blue-shift. If you had, then you would have been committed, as in the case of minds, to say that the vector of movement and the wavelength are distinguishable things since they could causally interact with one another. So since you did not show that any properties of the fundamental particle causally interact with one another (as we see with causally interacting beliefs and desires), then you have not shown that the fundamental particles are relevantly like minds and your argument here thus breaks down.

9) And now you again make the mistake analogous I attribute to you in section A1 of my 6/11/12 PM; you confuse the following 2 claims:

A : If P1 and P2 are true, then it's logically impossible that C1 is false.

B : P1 and P2 are logically necessary ("absolutely true", as you say)

A is correct under Aristotlean logic, while B need not be. Aristotlean logic is compatible with premises being logically necessary, contingent, empirical, etc. The universal affirmative is, again, just a matter of form. Leibniz is free to use the universal affirmative in his conceptual arguments where his premises are logically necessary, just as in my previous PM I gave examples of arguments in Aristotlean logic where P1 and P2 were not "absolutely true". Remember, predicate logic involved the adoption of Aristotlean logic into propositional logic to create a new system that could deal with the issues of both. And in predicate logic, there is no demand that your premises be logically necessary, though they can be. As in most logical systems, it's a matter of form: if your premises meet a certain logical form, then, regardless of whether your premises are logically necessary, contingent, empirical generalizations, etc. then the truth of your premises logically guarantees the truth of your conclusion.

I'm sort of getting tired of you making the same mistake of the Steve analogy. You say, "the Steve syllogism states the same thing twice with just different wording. This is uninformative and question-begging. But the OA does not do that," And, Mentat, do you know why the Steve argument said the same thing but with "different wording"? For the umpteenth time, it's because the premise of the argument is CONCEPTUALLY EQUIVALENT to its conclusion. You can go from the premise to the conclusion and from the conclusion to the premises using nothing but conceptual truths about what "bachelor" and "unmarried male" MEAN. Similarly, you can move back from the modal ontological arguments premise P1 to its conclusion C2 and from its conclusion C2 back to its premise P1 using nothing but conceptual truths about what "modal necessity" and "modal possibility" MEAN. You don't get to dodge this point by saying the conclusion of the modal OA was "derived logically"; logical derivation in any logical system, for the umpteenth time, just is drawing conceptual truths about the meaning of the logical operators and logical terms in that system.

The meaning of modal terms and modal statements in modal logic is given by possible world semantics, i.e. what the truth values are in different possible worlds. Don't believe me? Get any basic textbook on modal logic and see how they define the modal terms. If you can't get your hands on that, go to Wikipedia and look at how they define the modal terms "possibility", "necessity", etc. If two modal statements (note I said "modal statements", not statements of any sort; modal logic provides the meaning for modal terms, not all terms, so there is no tension here with the necessary a posteriori Kripkean truths I discuss in section 16/17b) have the same truth values they therefore MEAN THE SAME THING. And if two modal statements are logically equivalent in modal logic, then they have the same truth values and thus MEAN THE SAME THING. In Plantinga's argument, modal statements P1, C1, and C2 are logically equivalent and thus, under the semantics of modal logic, MEAN THE SAME THING. They are thus the SAME CLAIM "with just different wording." If you don't get this by this point and continue to resort to saying "logically derived" as if this avoids the conceptual/semantic issue, then I just don't know what to say. I'd just ask you to look up the meaning of "necessity" and "possibility" in modal logic, much as is the Steve context I'd ask you to look up the meaning of "bachelor" and "unmarried male" in English.

10) If by the MGB you mean the MMGB, I'm perfect willing to concede that that being is logically coherent. But that would not be what you needed to establish; you'd need to show the MMGB was metaphysically (or broadly logically) possible, not just coherent. And as both Plantinga and Craig note, logical/definitional/mathematical coherence is not enough to establish metaphysical possibility. If by the MGB you meant the LMGB, then your concept is incoherent for the reasons I presented in 6/1/12, prelude 2 and re-discussed above in section 1. If you want to discuss LNE, then you're going to meet the conceptual truths about LNE and not try to avoid them by shifting discussion away from the MEB. So if you want to say the LMGB is coherent, I'm sorry, you're going to have to explain why the MEB can't be denied without denying a conceptual truth or entailing a contradiction. If you can't meet that challenge, then please don't bring up the LNE and don't try to get me to ignore the burden you bear by shifting discussion off the MEB.

11) When you say, "a possible World is a conception of a total way things might have been" you're using metaphysical possibility, not logical possibility. Ever since Kripke's synthetic, necessary a posteriori truths, it's been recognized that there are logically possible worlds that are not ways the world could have actually been. More simply, logical possibility does not entail metaphysical possibility. My Craig and Plantinga quotes support this contention; both philosophers distinguish between logical possibility (as relating logically/definitional/mathematical coherence) and metaphysical possibility. And yet you say you want to establish the possibility of your being by showing it's logically coherent. But that's not enough to establish metaphysical possibility. Don't you see your invalidly mixing modalities here? You want your definition of logical possibility to be narrow enough that all you need to establish is logical possibility (or coherence), but broad enough that you don't need to show that denying the existence of the MEB is contradictory or violates a logical/conceptual truth. I'm not going to grant you that. So please pick a modality (logical or broadly logical/metaphysical) and stick to its rules.

You claim that science presupposes mathematical realism. I find this ironic since in our discussion on ethics you defended scientific anti-realism; i.e. science's success is just based on predictive utility and science does not presuppose the ontological existence of unobservables. So I don't get why you're now saying that science is not just about predictive success, but now presupposes the existence of certain entities. Also, Quine and Putnam are both naturalists and scientific realists. Thus they do not believe in non-physical, timeless abstract objects. Thus they did not offer their arguments as defenses of the mathematical realism you now defend. Instead, they did what I suggested in my previous PM; offered arguments for mathematical statements as correct descriptors as opposed to evidence of logically/metaphysically necessary abstract entities. So, for naturalists and nominalists, there would a clear, sharp distinction between "D" and "O" numbers. And I have already explained how if NOTHING exists in a given universe and I can make the true statement "0 things exist in this universe" this does not show that the property 0 is instantiated (unless you assume that "d" and "o" numbers are equivalent, which I [along with most naturalists and nominalists] do not) since nothing exists to which that property could apply or be a property of.

13) No, I did not argue irrationally. Instead, I just applied your tactics to your argument as a sort of reduction or to get you to see that you were engaged in special pleading. And no, I don't see how "in establishing a "greatest conceivable being", there must be a maximum to the factors taken into consideration," unless you assume that a greatest possible being exists, i.e. the concept "greatest possible being" has a referent. For example, we all agree that the mathematical term "quantity" admits of degrees. Now suppose I have the concept of a "number of the greatest quantity." Someone could respond that "there is no maximum for the concept 'quantity'" to which I reply "of course. That just means that there is no 'number of greatest quantity.' Stop trying to massage the concept of 'greatest quantity' such that a number of greatest quantity exists." That's what I'm saying for your view; stop trying to massage the concept of "maximally great being" such that a maximally great being exists, i.e. something exists that is a referent for that concept. You certainly were not willing to do that same massaging for my concept of "maximally frightening being." So why in the world would you think I'd let you do it for your concept? That's special pleading. If you're going to re-define my STIPULATED concept, I'm going to re-define your STIPULATED concept into something that makes sense and is just not an attempt to massage the concept of the MGB to insure it has a refers to an existent theistic God.

14) I'm not going to defend my argument here. As long as you concede God has no choice in whether it does good actions versus evil actions, or the best actions versus extremely good (but not the best) actions, then I'm content. God has way less freedom then any of its created beings does, as I'll argue in section 16/17c.

15) In your statement "creating a rock too heavy for an omnipotent being to lift," you conveniently snuck in the term "omnipotent." And in doing this, you confirmed what I suspected: there is nothing definitionally incoherent about "X creating a rock too heavy for X to lift." Instead, it's only contradictory on the assumption that X can do any logically possible thing and thus X can lift any rock. But now we see the problem. The only reason God cannot create a rock too heavy for God to lift is because this conflicts with another proposed aspect of God's nature (namely: that it can lift any rock); it's not because "X creating a rock too heavy for X to lift" is an impossible pseudotask. Heck, humans could do it. But if that's all that's going on here (God cannot do something because it conflicts with his nature, and thus God could still be omnipotent), then EVERYTHING could be omnipotent. I cannot breathe underwater because this conflicts with another aspect of my nature, and thus I am still omnipotent. Fish cannot blow up planets because this conflicts with another aspect of their nature, and thus fish could still be omnipotent. See the problem? You either have a definition of omnipotent that applies to darn near everything or you can have an incoherent definition of omnipotence that implies a being X can do two actions A and B (ex: "X making a rock too heavy for X to lift" and "X being able to lift any rock") where, ON THEIR OWN, A and B are perfect plausible actions and therefore logically possible (and thus not incoherent pseudo-tasks), but the ability to do A and B simultaneously cannot be had.

In their dash to grant God tons of power without providing any evidence for what God could do, theists claimed God was "omnipotent" in the sense of being able to do "any logically possible action" without realizing that this notion of omnipotence was incoherent because it leads to the conclusion that a being can do two things which are logically impossible together. When atheists pointed out this mistake, theists retreated to the " except when it conflicts with their nature" view of omnipotence or claiming that the proposed actions were "pseudo-tasks", not realizing that: 1) the first view of omnipotence makes almost everything omnipotent and 2) on their own, none of the actions were pseudotasks; the problems only arose because the "anything logically possible" view of omnipotence implied the omnipotent being could do BOTH tasks when, in fact, both tasks cannot be done together. This could have all been avoided if theists only claimed that God could do things when the theist had EVIDENCE God could do those things, as opposed to making bald assertions.

16/17 a) Where did I say you denied that moral goodness was objectively good? Because I don't remember saying that. Furthermore, you say, "you [the NoctambulantJoycean] took my statement about the value of particular theories, and applied it to the value of science as a discipline." Nope. I explained to you that scientists value particular theories not just because of their predictive usefulness, but because they think they are true. For instance, scientists really want their theory of evolution to accurately represent what goes on in the real world. So my claim was directed at a scientific theory's value, not science as a discipline. Please revise your scientific anti-realism accordingly and look up what ACTUAL SCIENTISTS think about their scientific theories and the value/purpose of those theories, not just what scientific ant-realism leads you think the value/purpose of scientific theories is. Anyway, I'm glad to see you admit that moral goodness' objective value is not predicated on its usefulness. Now: 1) notice that a scientific theories value is NOT JUST predicated on its usefulness (scientists want their theories to actually describe what's going on in the real world; i.e. be true) and 2) please stop saying that all-existence (or any other proposed property) is not objectively valuable simply because it fails to make God more useful or be more useful to God. Otherwise, you're not applying the same standards you did for goodness' objective value and are therefore special pleading.

b) You say, "as I [Mentat1231] showed in the separate 'meta-ethics' debate, moral realism absolutely depends on a moral being that possesses NE." You showed no such thing. What you instead did was completely mischaracterize my analogy between science and morality, and took me to be claiming that since we only accepted scientific theories because they were predictively useful, I must think the same was true for moral claims (section S2 of your 6/13/12 PM). You did this even though I REPEATEDLY warned you that the analogy between scientific realism and moral realism was meant as a METAPHYSICAL, not EPISTEMOLOGICAL, analogy claiming that both scientific and moral claims aimed at making accurate claims about real features of the world. You then completely misrepresented the epistemology of metaethical positions I outlined (see section C2 of your 6/13/12 PM), applied metaphysical necessity to positions that advocated conceptual necessity (your C2A), had no clue what Kripkean necessary aposteriori truths were and confused them with contingent truths (your C2B), and acted as if moral non-naturalists thought goodness could be tested and measured like a scientific property (which moral non-naturalists explicitly deny; see your C2C).

After mischaracterizing these options, you then acted as if this left your God explanation as the only remaining alternative as per the following argument: "Any moral statement can be false in at least one Possible World, since morality is not derived from logic, mathematics, or definitional non-contradiction. The only way out of that (to rescue moral realism) is if God exists in every Possible World, with His changeless, eternal moral nature. " Well, no. As I have repeatedly explained to you, a proposition can be true even in possible worlds where its antecedent is not met. For example, the counterfactual proposition "If Nixon was President, then he would be a jerk" is true if in every world where Nixon is President, Nixon is a jerk. It would be true even in worlds where Nixon does not exist (i.e. where the conditions of the antecedent fail to be met) since: 1) you don't falsify conditionals by applying them in worlds where the antecedent does not hold [that's not how conditionals work in propositional logic] and 2) the conditional is made true by what goes on in other worlds [the worlds where Nixon exists and thus the antecedent's conditions are met]. So no, Mentat, I do not need to propose a being exists in a possible world W1 (let alone a God exists in every possible world) for me to say a moral statement would be true of that world W1. Moral statements of the form "If X did Y in context C, X did something wrong" could thus be true even in worlds where no one existed.

You also seem completely confused on the relevant modalities here, likely because (unlike Craig or Plantinga) you're unfamiliar with Kripke's necessary a posteriori truths and thus confuse metaphysical possibility/necessity with logical possibility/necessity. A moral statement could be true in every world that could have actually been (i.e. every metaphysically possible world) and thus be metaphysically necessary, without being "derived from logic, mathematics, or definitional non-contradiction" (i.e. logically necessary). Here's a brief description of Kripkean necessary a posteriori truths:

[Synthetic moral views claim that property X is identical to morally good, morally ought-to-be-done, or some other moral property and this is a non-conceptual, synthetic, necessary a posteriori truth. Saul Kripke, in Naming and Necessity, argued for necessary a posteriori truths (citations taken from VII.7 in the third edition of Louis Pojman's The Theory of Knowledge). The argument is built around a Fregean sense/reference distinction. According to Kripke, certain definitions refer to the same thing in every possible world and thus rigidly designate (424, Pojman). For example, we could use the term "water" to refer to "the substance flowing in our lakes and streams and taps, etc." We then perform a posteriori, scientific investigations to determine this liquid is H2O. In other possible worlds, the substance flowing in the lakes and streams and taps could have the chemical structure XYZ. But our term "water" does not refer to those liquids XYZ. It instead refers to the liquid H2O in our world. In fact, in every possible world, our term "water" refers to the liquid H2O in our world; this is the way "water" rigidly designates. So if, unknown to me, I was transported to a physical duplicate of the Earth where the only difference was that the clear liquid in the lakes and streams and taps was XYZ, my term "water" would not refer to XYZ; "water" would still refer to the H2O of our world. Water and H2O are the same thing in every possible world and thus identical. This is not an analytic, conceptually determined truth since no conceptual truths link claims about water to claims about H2O. This is a truth about a term's reference, not its sense. We determined the identity relation via a posteriori, empirical means.

So suppose that statement S2 is metaphysically independent of statement S1 iff S2 cannot be inferred from S1 using an identity thesis (or truths about which properties are identical). The synthetic moral realist can use Kripkean necessary a posteriori truths to claim that X is identical with a moral property and this is not a conceptual truth. The synthetic moral realist will say that certain moral statements are synthetic, necessary a posteriori truths and thus true in every metaphysically possible world, even though they are not logically necessary.]

So yes, if we want our moral statements to be true in every way the world could have been, we want them to be metaphysically necessary and they can be so even if they are "not derived from logic, mathematics, or definitional non-contradiction." So no, morality does not require your God. Nor did you explain how just because X accords with God's nature, X is morally good. Our moral sense provides most of us with evidence that certain X's (rape, actions that are intentionally inconsiderate of the well-being of others, etc.) are wrong, but these would be wrong regardless of what ANYONE thinks (including God) [ex: see Nucci and Turiel's paper "God's Word, Religious Rules, and Their Relation to Christian and Jewish Children's Concepts of Morality"]. That was my whole FOM point from paragraph 3 of my third 5/22/12 PM: the only reason people let you with claim that something according with God's nature would make that thing good or right or obligatory is (or the only reason your claim has any plausibility is) because you smuggle in the relevant FOMs into God's nature. But we can easily take those FOMs out of God, shift them from character traits into descriptive properties, and based the truth of moral statements on these FOMs. And as I already discussed with counterfactual statements, these FOMs would not need to exist in every possible world in order for moral statements to be true in every possible world. So no, moral realism does not entail God, let alone a "changeless, eternal He that exists in every possible world."

c) see section 15. Again, "being morally perfect" and "doing a bad thing" are not pseudo-acts. The problem only arises when you claim a being can do both; but if that's the definition of omnipotence you're going to run, then everything is omnipotent. Anyway, please don't try and modify the definition of maximal freedom such that it becomes "being able to everything that accords with your nature." That's what you seem to be doing when you say God wants to do the good (this is a fact about its nature) and since God does not want to do the bad, God's freedom is not inhibited. Well, I guess since elephants don't want to fly, elephants are maximally free. Or if I don't want to be President, my inability to become President does not limit my freedom. But this is an absurd definition of maximal freedom that entails that everything is maximally free. Instead, let's list all actions performable (mowing the lawn, killing everything, zoning out, thinking about manga, etc.) in a given situation S and call this set of actions C1. We then look at the set of options available to the respective agents in that situation. So my set would be N1, your's would be M1, the Christian God's would be G1, etc. A maximally free being would be able to do anything in C1, i.e. a being X is maximally free iff X's set in S is C1. That's what I meant by when I said in my previous PM that maximal freedom is "an absence of limitations on choice."

Now don't try to smuggle claims about "pseudo-tasks" and "contradicting one's natures." I'm not really concerned about whether your God wants to do some of the things in C1 or some things in C1 conflict with God's nature, anymore than I care whether you or I want to do some of the things in C1 or whether some of the actions in S1 conflict with our nature. Bringing that stuff up is just a convenient way for you to explain why God CANNOT do certain things while acting like God's still omnipotent. I'm not buying it (I showed the problem with this move in section 15 and TheoreticalBullshit further examines the problems in his video "Omni VERSUS Omni!"). So since M1 and N1 are not C1, neither you nor I are maximally free. And since you've already admitted that it's metaphysically impossible (or if you're still arguing for the LMGB, logically impossible) for God to do certain actions, then G1 is not C1 and God is not maximally free. And if you admit that maximal freedom is a GMP (which you might when you claim "maximal freedom is a GMP"), then the Christian God lacks a GMP and is thus not the MGB.

18a) You say "this is quite different from "fright", which is entirely (100%) predicated on our RESPONSE to the stimulus. **We have to actually be AFRAID for the "frightfulness" to have any meaning**, but we do not have to actually understand numbers in order for them to have meaning." You have an incorrect view on meaning. A term or concept can have a meaning even in worlds where it has no referent; i.e. nothing exists that matches the concept. For example, the counterfactual truths I discussed in section 16/17b. As I discussed in my paragraph 2 of section B of my 6/7/12 PM, that's the whole point of dispositions: they still hold in possible worlds even if they are never engaged. The concept of "a frightened X" still has meaning in worlds where X does not exist; it just lacks a referent in those worlds. However, the concept of "the disposition to be frightening to X" has BOTH a meaning and a referent in universe where X fails to exist. The disposition is present because IF X had existed in that world and X has seen the true nature of that being, THEN X would be frightened. A thing can still have the disposition of being "frightening-to-X", even in worlds where X does not exist. So please don't say things like "we have to actually be AFRAID for the "frightfulness" to have any meaning." It's as misguided as saying witches or happy aliens actually have to exist for the concepts "witch" and "happy alien" to have any meaning.

b) I still think your definition of all objective value as relating to usefulness or providing additional capacities, is a completely contrived attempt on your part to defend the OA. We certainly don't think moral goodness is only valuable if it is useful or provides a being additional capacities, or a painting's beauty is only valuable if it grant's the painting additional capacities or makes the painting more useful. Your account of value is completely instrumental and you did not defend it on "objective grounds" if by "objective" you mean "not contrived simply to make the properties you want GMPs while excluding other properties." And if you go with another interpretation of "objective", it still might not be objective (see the last paragraph of 16/17c).

c) I'm sort of disappointed with myself for going along with your account of value as usefulness or granting additional capacities. That's an artificial, contrived, and incorrect analysis of value and I should not have tried to get A-E to fit with it. But I'll keep doing that anyway.

On the "creating things within Himself bit," the fact that God is A-E would be useful TO THE BEINGS WITHIN GOD, since they would only have to know about God as opposed to things outside of God in order to draw appropriate inferences. So A-E would be useful to these beings. Yes, you're right that "there would still be lots of stuff to know" but how does this show that, "A-E doesn't necessarily confer 'less things to know'"? Suppose Z1 is the set of all facts about God, Z2 is the set of all facts about existent things outside of God, and Z3 is the set of all facts about existent things period. A-E is useful to the beings within God since it makes Z2 empty and thus makes Z1 equivalent to Z3. Thus the beings within God need only know about Z1 to know Z3. So, contrary to your claim, A-E does confer less things to know even if Z1 is quite large since it makes Z2 empty.

You further say, "you [Mentat1231] disagree with these theistic claims you mention (about many things existing within God, and yet there being just one entity)." Well, I was not claiming these things were so in the actual world. I was offering a hypothetical scenario where A-E would confer usefulness. If the hypothetical works, then I've rebutted your claim that A-E does not confer objective value, regardless of whether the hypothetical were actual. Furthermore, you're coming dangerously close to misinterpreting my hypothetical in your parenthetical remarks. God could choose to create things within God. There is no "one and the many" problem here since God here would sort be analogous to a nation: the United States is still an entity even though it has many things within it. And if you want to reply that God is simple while nations are not, please see section 8.

And why do you think it would not be useful to God to have fewer beliefs? It might still know everything, but it might prefer to have fewer beliefs while still knowing everything. After all, who knows what God wants? Being A-E would meet God's desire to have less beliefs (see the "Z" reasoning I gave in 2 paragraphs ago) and would thus be useful to God. That's one problem with your contrived definition of value as relating to usefulness or additional capacities: any property grants a being additional capacities in the sense that any change to a being (or any property of a being) could have effects, and X is useful to agent A only insofar as X helps A meet its desires or goals. Change the desires or goals and you affect usefulness and therefore value. So, in one sense of "subjective", your account of value is VERY subjective and not "objective". So, again, why not think God wants to narrow down the quantity of facts it needs to know in order to know everything (both in this possible world and every possible world) and by, my Z reasoning from two paragraphs ago, A-E would be useful to God in meeting this desire?

In conclusion, this has been fun Mentat1231. You've been an intelligent, cogent debater. You've helped me clear up my thinking and clear up my errors in reasoning. Sad to see you go :(
Thank you and good luck in all your future endeavors.


NoctambulantJoycean, "Re: Metaethics", 7/8/12

Hello Mentat.

Section 16/17b of my 7/8/12 PM on ontological andmetaphysical arguments rebutted much of what you said here, especially in section C2. However, my full rebuttal will be in this PM. This is basically my one part of my defense of atheistic moral realism and contains my replies to some standard theistic arguments. You'll probably want to focus on sections I and III. Again, feel free to read this at your own leisure, and there is no need to respond given your busy schedule. Thanks for all the discussions.

[I then go on to send a preliminary draft of my paper on the is/ought dilemma + moral arguments for God + moral justification + the current state of internet moral anti-realism]

This concludes my discussion with Mentat1231. Hope it was informative. And I hope Mentat1231 is doing well.