Truth

“There’s no such thing as truth, epistemologically speaking.”

This is the response I got in response to mentioning that discourse is one of the best ways we have to find truth. From context, it seems to me that this means that we cannot know truth, or more generously, that we can’t know if we can know truth.

If first is the case, then everything reduces to language games and wisps of thought and beliefs without ground. We can’t know truth, so why believe in anything? Selecting belief systems for taste, or power, or arbitrarily is just as good.

If second is the case, that doesn’t free us of our moral obligation to know the truth to the best of our abilities. It may be the case that we can’t know truth, but it is a better life to live as though we can know what truth is.

Burdens, Proofs and Evidence

Evidence is what gives a belief justification. There are many types of evidence, and the quality of evidence will depend both on the belief in question and what other beliefs you have. Physical evidence is only one kind of evidence. Not all evidence is repeatably verifiable, either. Some examples of non-physical evidence include the testimony of experts, direct experience and memory. All of our experience isn’t repeatable, and experience is one of the best justifications we have for our beliefs.

A proof or argument is what connects specific pieces of evidence to some claim. Arguments and proofs aren’t evidence, but they connect evidence to the claim being supported.

The “burden of proof” is merely a convention of how certain discussions happen. It is not a rule of logic or a general obligation. I much prefer the Socratic standard: When you’re in a conversation, do your best to speak truth and help find errors of the people you’re speaking with.

If you don’t accept that the person making the claim has to prove their claim, you are under no obligation to belief anything without evidence. There are many types of evidence, some of which you already have at hand that you can use to test their claim using your own reasoning.

When someone makes a claim, you can also simply withhold judgment. There is no reason that you are obligated to believe or disbelieve. However, if they are making an error, it is helpful and respectful to point out how they are making an error and why you believe that it is indeed an error.

 

Response To ‘Freethinker’ Propaganda…Part 3

Do freethinkers have any meaning in life?  Though Dan Barker is accurate to an extent, he side-steps the ‘Big Question’ when he answers this question by saying; “Freethinkers know that meaning must originate in a mind.  Since the universe is mindless and the cosmos does not care, you must care, if you wish to have purpose. Individuals are free to choose, within the limits of humanistic morality.  “Some freethinkers find meaning in human compassion, social progress, the beauty of humanity (art, music, literature), personal happiness, pleasure, joy, love, and the advancement of knowledge”

It is true that the stars and planets, asteroids and nebulae, have no consciousness and therefore care not a whit what happens on or to our little blue marble.  That however, does not mean there is no greater meaning in life.  The things lists as ‘Freethinker Meaning of Life’ ar nothing more than hobbies, interests, or personal goals at the most.  His very short treatment of the ‘meaning of life’ for ‘freethinkers’ contains something that the most devout/dogmatic religious person would enjoy.  To claim such shallow items as a purpose for existence is ridiculous at best.

The phrase ‘Meaning of Life’ implies a universality that is absent in any laundry list of hobbies and interests.  The ‘I Likes’ you put on a dating profile are as variable as each unique individual completing the form.  The passions and interests, the tastes and dislikes for each person are not interchangeable between individuals or even the same person at different ages.  Each person’s tastes or passions are malleable because our priorities and goals change with the accumulation of experiences and years.  The clubbing or mountaineering one lived for in their youth becomes an impossibility once children enter their lives and/or age and arthritis have sapped their vitality.

The “Meaning of Life Question” has been approached in every civilization by everyone from peasants to princes.  Dan’s answers are shallow and weak in comparison to even the Atheistic Buddhism approved by Communist China.  True Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Judaism, Christianity and even the polytheists/ascetics of early Western cultures are all far deeper than the Communist version because they consider the relationship of each human, not only with each other and the world, but also with the cosmos/divine.

Regardless of how ‘freethinkers’ feel about psychotherapy and its origins, the atheistic pioneer of the field, Sigmund Freud said it bluntly:   “… only religion can answer the question of the purpose of life. One can hardly be wrong in concluding that the idea of life having a purpose [at all] stands and falls with the religious system” (Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930).

The value society places on human life is born from the near-universal religious idea that human life is valuable or sacred.  The rules of polite society are likewise born from religious morals.  The loss or banning of religion from society has frequently been shown to produce enormous loss of life (for the good of society/collective) or relativistic permissibility that allows the individual to do almost anything they find ‘fulfilling’.

Dan claims the complexity of life does not require a designer.  He states that the explanation for the complexity of biological life is Darwin’s theory of evolution because cumulative nonrandom natural selection “designing” for billions of years, has provided the explanation.

Even granting the possibility that random mutations (99.99999….% of which are lethal or deleterious) are the source of all species of plant or animal on the planed from a single, common, one-celled ancestor, there is still the issue of a living organism somehow (defying the laws of everything from entropy to biology) arising spontaneously from non-living matter.

Genetic drift within species and the results of selective breeding are incontrovertible.  Even with guided experiments to prove bacterial evolution running for decades, there has never been a documented case of bacteria giving rise to anything but bacteria of the same species.  It may be with slightly different traits that may lead to a different strain or subspecies, but it is still the same type of bacteria.  Never has it been documented that even a single celled species gave rise to any other single-celled species, let alone a multi-celled creature.  Human-guided selective breeding (compressing millions of years of natural selection into a few decades) has produced over a hundred breeds of dogs that theoretically came from a common wolf-like ancestor.  The offspring of all this selection are still all distinctly canines, though the argument could be made that a teacup poodle is a different species than a great dane, just as the zebra and horse are.  Even so, those species are still in the same genus.

If, as Dan Barker claims, the ‘Freethinker’ relies on their intellect to form opinions about subjects on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief, why does he not dismiss the theory of evolution, with the massive need for faith (in Darwin’s theory and those of all of his scientific descendants) required to not dismiss the seemingly outlandish theories involved?

The materialistic/naturalistic claim that random molecular reactions somehow produced a living cell that somehow became all life on earth through random recombination of genetic material (thinned by natural selection) requires tremendous faith (odds against this are on the order of an untrained monkey typing out a Shakespeare play with zero errors when placed in front of a typewriter on the first try).  Why are there no skeptical treatments or demands for logical or material proof of some sort to support the theory?  There is more substantial documentation for the theory of Race Realism than there is for random mutation transforming aquatic algae into ferns; ferns into broadleaved flowering plants that themselves were transformed into everything from a violet to 100-foot-tall tropical trees.  Then continued by converting broad-leafed plants into grass and needle-leafed conifers (ranging from alpine bristlecone pines to giant redwoods) and cacti with their leaves converted into spines.

Why do skeptics, rationalists and freethinkers accept evolution without question and overlook the issues surrounding primal aquatic animals somehow arising out of algae?  Why is there no question surrounding the notion of fish and mollusk species with distinct physical attributes changing into another creature with traits that are distinctly different from the original, with no evidence of transitional or divergent phases?  Why do these rationalist groups embrace the notion that, after millions of years of adaptation to the aquatic environment, animals somehow converted themselves to life on land, which would require massive physiological and structural changes?  Then there are the ages of reptiles, followed by dinosaurs in their many forms, then tiny, mouse-like mammals arising suddenly out of non-mammals, the megafauna in the ice ages and those species changing into what we now see.

Rational thought indicates that the massive changes to chromosome numbers, sequences and length to produce the wildly divergent flora and fauna in the fossil record, even over the massive lengths of time involved require some form of guidance.

Yet Dan claims that a “Divine Designer” is not the answer because the complexity of such a creature would be subject to the same scrutiny itself, basing his argument in the notion that a creator must be of equal or greater complexity than the creation.  To support this attitude, he states that, ‘Even a child knows to ask: “If God made everything, then who made God?”’; thereby treating God like a material creature, bound by the same laws that govern the universe.

What atheists fail to consider is the builder of any construct cannot originate from inside the construct.  Space and time, matter and energy originated from the Big Bang.  The creator, by definition, must then exist outside of space and time as we perceive those concepts.  Just as a builder can enter and modify or customize a structure, or a person can customize their ‘simworld’ to their liking, the creator can enter and modify the universe.

What we call ‘God’ is a perfect, all-seeing, all-knowing, all loving consciousness that created the universe and keeps it running.  Just as any picture can be zoomed in to the extent that it breaks down into pixels, matter breaks down into quantum particles.  All matter is made of quantum particles that do not exist except as a mathematical probability unless they are observed.  What could have been observing those particles, keeping them in physical form so they could combine into physical sub-atomic particles and maintain them in that state for 13.8 billion years?

Because of quantum particle behavior, Elon Musk (hardly a conspiracy nut or fundamentalist Christian) has launched a project to determine whether the universe is a computer simulation, with the Computer providing the constant observation needed to maintain physicality.  The far simpler answer, with the fewest steps, is that this universe is a creation of and exists within the infinite mind of the very being of existence.  The observation to maintain quantum particles is provided by God, not some supercomputer AI.

Response To ‘Freethinker’ Propaganda…Part 2

Dan Barker quotes “Clarence Darrow as saying, I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Mother Goose” as validation for ‘Freethinkers’’ holding a naturalistic worldview.  Apparently Clarence did not hear the Paul Harvey radio program “The Rest of the Story” about the existence of the actual ‘Mother Goose’ who lived in the Massachusetts Colony during the Elizabethan Era.  Therefore, given the rationalist/freethinker belief that if a statement is falsifiable it must be rejected, Clarence Darrow, and all who adhere to his rejection of God, must now reject that reason for their dogmatic atheism.

According to Dan Barker; “To be a ‘freethinker’ one must confine reality to what is directly perceivable through the ‘freethinker’s’ natural senses or ‘reason’.  ‘Reason’ confines the truth of a statement to the strict tests of the scientific method.  To be true, a statement must be testable and have repeated tests confirm the validity of the statement. It must also be parsimonious (the simplest explanation with the fewest assumptions) and be logical (free of contradiction, non-sequiturs and irrelevant ad-hominem character attacks.”

To adhere to the ‘freethinkers’ paradigm, then the freethinkers must reject the scientific method, logic and many other abstract concepts that have no physical, testable presence.  They must also reject any and all emotions because they also are immaterial, untestable, and irrational.  For the ‘freethinkers’ to allow themselves to use anything that cannot be subjected to their standards automatically refutes their claims of being a member of that group because it contradicts their standards.

For ‘freethinkers’ to base their morality on humanism (People who don’t subscribe to any religion self-identify as Humanists.  Humanism is a worldview that emphasizes the value of humanity and social justice while altogether rejecting supernatural concepts and religious dogma) and/or not hurting others, is not a solid base upon which to build a healthy civilization.  The USSR and other Soviet-Inspired states were built upon humanist/scientific secular designs.

On 11/17/10 Brandon Norgaard posted in his website The Enlightened Worldview Project that his “…phenomenological and scientific reasoning has led me to the conclusion that people have the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  While many Americans and others in Western Democracies might wish to mockingly congratulate Brandon for catching up with John Locke or Thomas Jeffeson, they should hear him out.  He did not arrive at his conclusion from the Judeo-Christian perspective, but as secular humanist.

According to him, “This reasoning is rooted in the realization of the nonphysical aspect of humanity, which is called the soul. There is also an important realization that souls have free will, which is a supernatural concept because there are no natural processes through which all actions of souls, and by extension humans, can be reduced to. Finally there is the realization that the first person experience of right and wrong has a nonphysical aspect as well.”

He refutes Dan Barker’s position of ‘Freethinker’s Morality’ of reason and kindness by stating, “…there is no way that morality, and by extension natural justice, can be real aspects of the universe regardless of anyone’s mere personal opinion unless they are based on some form of nonphysical metaphysics. Quite simply, if everything that exists is physical, then there is no inherent right or wrong, there is just the way things are. The physical universe is not at all concerned with social justice or humanity per se.”

This writer wonders, therefore;  How can any atheist that claims to be a humanist even pretend to criticize a theist on the ‘morality’ of God or religion when such criticism relies on an non-existent cosmic absolute and is done in an unkind and unreasonable manner.  The sheer hypocrisy of atheist freethinkers utilizing an objective moral standard (whose existence they deny) to condemn others people, not to mention the Creator of the Universe, is staggering, particularly morality does not exist as a physical, testable entity subject to empirical analysis?

Brandon Norgaard also states, “Secular Humanism is not a coherent worldview in essence. A worldview that includes belief in a nonphysical aspect of the self is more rational and I believe more justified given the scientific and phenomenological evidence.”  While this embrace of a transcendent consciousness certainly not confirm the existence of God as Western Civilization views that entity, Brandon does not rule out some form of Creator.  Rather, he requires one when he states, “I do not reject belief in anything supernatural because the natural universe is not an explanation for itself. The best explanation is that the natural universe was created by something that is over and above nature, and this is a supernatural concept.”

 

Though Brandon repudiates known mainstream religions when he states, “This concept may be called God, but this does not mean that for one to believe this that they must have blind faith in God as a Christian or Muslim does. There is a reasonable justification for believing this and thus blind faith is not necessary. This is one strike against the Secular Humanist worldview.”

When Dan Barker claims that morality can be based on human need or ‘doing no harm’ to any person, it can sound very fine and dandy.  However, when real world scenarios are tried, they become capricious and arbitrary.  When humans become the masters of the rules, the in group often becomes favored in catalogue of one-way rules such as those seen in any absolute rule society from the dawn of monarchy in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys through socialist dictatorships around the world from 1917 until now.

By basing morality on ‘human needs’, not imagined ‘cosmic absolutes, Dan’s essay comes into direct contradiction with Brandon’s statements, as well as those of the vast majority of theists.  The physiological needs of prison inmates are objectively met. .They have no job and therefore an abundance of free time, free food and drink, free cable and internet, free dental and medical care, etc.  According to many activists on the political left, that should equate to paradise.  Yet nearly all the prisoners in any jail or prison would take cold, wet, hungry and free over their relatively comfortable life in confinement.

The transcendent human soul, a high melding of intellect and will, has been known for thousands of years to need a purpose.  For much longer, each individual human has sought to find their own meaning or goal in life beyond the mere animal drives of survival and reproduction.  Their quests have, in large part, succeeded or failed based on how hard each person was willing to work and sacrifice to achieve their goal.  The impacts of these goals on human society have depended upon the extent to which they abided within the bounds of both societal written law and the natural law freethinkers as so quick to deny.

According to Dan Barker, “Moral dilemmas involve a conflict of values, requiring a careful use of reason to weigh the outcome…Freethinkers try to base actions on their consequences to real, living human being.”  This writer states unequivocally that such attitudes have been used throughout history to legitimize atrocities.  The enslavement of captives and criminals in both Europe and the Americas was legitimized by arguing that their lives were better in bondage than in cells or primitive squalor.  The euthanasia movements, both in the past and now, base their arguments on the notion that the lives of the insane, disabled, elderly or terminally ill are a burden both to themselves and others; therefore it is a mercy to all to end their lives.  The abortion movement and Planned Parenthood argue that careless, recreational sex is a good thing, and that such activities should be without consequences.  After all, burdening an unwed woman with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy is terrible.  The fetus would have a life of want and poverty.  Therefore terminating the pregnancy is just.  For the woman or girl it is a simple procedure and life returns to normal.

“Freethinkers argue that religion promotes a dangerous and inadequate “morality” based on blind obedience, unexamined ultimatums, and “pie-in-the-sky” rewards of heaven or gruesome threats of hell,” Dan Barker argues.  That statement sounds like Dan made just the type of absolutist statement of condemnation he accuses religion of making.

Rather than make more cheap hypocrisy points, this author will direct Dan Barker to the sciences and reason he is so fond of.  These fields of study were preserved and promoted by the Catholic Religious Orders, both male and female.  The Catholic Church has believed for two thousand years that God is both rational and orderly.  Those characteristics are discernable in His creations and to learn about these creations is to learn about God.  The authors of the renaissance were not the ‘protestant reformers.’  Rather, they were the Catholic Religious Orders that opened educational institutions for children and adults.  They were the monks and nuns who studied reason, medicine, logic, mathematics, genetics and astronomy and shared their findings with the public through institutions of learning, hospitals, orphanages and charity.  Galileo did not get into his feud with the Pope over his heliocentric theory.  It was because his arrogance led him to publicly break a promise he had made to the Pope.

The ‘dangerous and inadequate’ morality built on ‘blind obedience’ Dan Barker condemns seems to be a cartoonish slave state of fundamentalist Islam blended with the worst of Fundamentalist Puritanism displayed during the Salem Witch Trials.  It bears no resemblance to true Christianity or any other mainstream Western or Asian theistic religion or philosophy when the true teachings are embodied though the believer’s behavior.

In an earlier post, I noted that Dan is making his anti-religious arguments from the comforts of a civilization built, maintained and protected by a Christian ethos.  The laws and unwritten expectations were based on Christian morals.  Murder and theft, for example, were always wrong.  Now, though, as relativism and other ‘freethinking’ ethics have entered the judicial systems of Western Civilization, the ethical standards are being rapidly eroded away by those unfettered by an absolute morality.  ‘Laws/Rules for thee, but not for me’ has become almost a given in personal, business and social media conduct.

As the population looks back through time to when our civilization exercised the rules of self-restraint and delayed gratification, our civilization was more polite.  When criminal behavior and unwed motherhood/fatherhood were both scandalous and rare, what do we see?  We see absolute rules, codes of conduct that applied to all in equal measure.  For millennia these rules were in place through all cultures, all over the world, in every civilization to some extent.  Also, when these rules were flagrantly disobeyed, that civilization (from Babylon to Rome to Pre-Revolutionary France to Nazi Germany and Communist/Socialist regimes) declined and fell, often violently.

Todd & Max destroy Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell was a famous Atheist, who gave us “Russell’s Teapot” and “Why I Am Not A Christian.” Today Max and Todd from Praise of Folly take apart an overrated “rationalist.” Please also subscribe to Todd’s “Praise of Folly” channel for more interesting interviews! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh9m… Bertrand Russell’s essay: https://users.drew.edu/~jlenz/whynot….

New Video: Max Talks to a Witch named Autumn Storm

Yes this fella says he’s a real live Witch, and is in no way affiliated with Wicca, which he says is feminist bunk. He has some choice words for Manospherians talking about Evolutionary Psychology too!

He recommends these books to understand his faith:

“The Witch-cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology” by Dr. Margaret Murray and ” “The Tarim Mummies” by JP Mallory and Victor H. Mair

About Sy Garte

Portrait of Sy GarteSy Garte is a distinguished biochemist with 214 publications and extensive work in cancer research over a career spanning decades. Max Kolbe had lively discussion with him about his birth into an atheist family and his journey to Christianity. He’s graciously given us permission to publish his Curriculum Vitae, an academic resume listing teaching experience, grants, publication history and other related activities.

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Why Atheism is Ridiculous

Nowadays, atheists define their position as “lack of a belief in God or gods”. This definition itself is idiotic. By defining their position as lack of belief, that means that bricks, dust motes, and people in comas are atheists.

If we add a reasonable clause to this, changing it to “Atheism is lack of a belief in God or gods, in an agent that is capable of such a belief.” we end up with a psychological property. Psychological properties are uninteresting for philosophical discussion. “I lack a belief in God.” Well, we do believe in God. So what? Do you hold that lack of belief to be rationally justified?

They claim this lack of belief doesn’t have any additional impact on other beliefs.

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