Twenty Arguments for God – Eleven – The Argument from Truth

This post is one of a serious that picks apart the arguments for god that can be found at the link below. This post addresses number 11:

http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#11

If you don’t want to click over there to read it, the full argument goes like this:

11. The Argument from Truth

This argument is closely related to the argument from consciousness. It comes mainly from Augustine.
Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
Truth properly resides in a mind.
But the human mind is not eternal.
Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.
This proof might appeal to someone who shares a Platonic view of knowledge—who, for example, believes that there are Eternal Intelligible Forms which are present to the mind in every act of knowledge. Given that view, it is a very short step to see these Eternal Forms as properly existing within an Eternal Mind. And there is a good deal to be said for this. But that is just the problem. There is too much about the theory of knowledge that needs to be said before this could work as a persuasive demonstration.

Ah, the wonderful philosophical argument about the nature of truth. How does that show god? Apparently because our feeble earthly minds don’t last forever, but truth does, therefore the mind of god is the only place where these truths can be maintained. How can the one who makes this claim know it to be true? Where is this mind which is the only true source of truth? Does the truth that I edit this response on a computer screen require a god for it to be true? Can I demonstrate it to be true without cause to refer to a god? If there is no god, could anything be true? Is this need for a god for something to be true also true for things that are not true? Is god required for it to be true that something can be false?

This item opens with some rather bizarre and unsurprisingly unsupported assertions.

Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
Truth properly resides in a mind.
But the human mind is not eternal.

What is truth? Can we discover eternal truths? Which such truths have we discovered already? How do they relate to ideas of god? What is an eternal truth and how does it differ from plain old regular truth? What truth is it that resides in a mind, eternal or regular? what does properly reside mean? If the human mind is not eternal, what is it that Christians believe ends up in heaven?

For the claim that truth requires an eternal mind to be true, that eternal mind needs to be shown and then the dependency link between the existence of that mind and truth also needs to be demonstrated. In the absence of the former, the latter can not be assumed.

By Plato’s Eternal Intelligible Forms, I assume the author is referring to this:

http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/platform.htm

The issue with Plato’s argument is that it is all thought and no substance. By that I mean that the ideas that are proposed and suggested are not tested. I have no problem with ideas like this being presented, however it should be understood that presenting the idea does not make it true. Demonstrating the proposed ideas is what makes them true and the ideas proposed by Plato have not been demonstrated and so can not be accepted as true. They could be true, or they could be utter tosh, if one is to build an argument on them, it makes good sense to determine their truthfulness.

To summarise; humans call something ‘truth’, therefore there is a god. This is the argument, yet ironically it makes no effort to test or confirm the truth of the claim. It is another brazen assertion without support. Like the ideas of Plato, it’s an intriguing idea but it has not been demonstrated. I can agree on certain things being true but that does not pop any god into existence. I can agree with a Christian on something being true and yet no god becomes evident. This argument barely got started before it fell flat, no wonder so few words are used to present it.

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Mathematical Insanity

Over on the ICR website is an article of such crazy logic it just beggars belief (http://www.icr.org/article/7098/). I’m not the first to comment on this item; so far two of the blogs I follow have commented already, but the path that the item takes is just so mind bogglingly insane I wanted to have my own say too.

In fact when I read this article I couldn’t help but be reminded of an item by AiG on light which I also commented on (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/magical-light/).

In summary the item on maths says that because numbers are not physical entities (the numbers we write down are but a temporary representation of the actual number) yet they are real, and since those numbers have always represented the same value, God exists. There is a bit more jumping around before getting to the final point, but that’s the basic gist once the fluff is taken away.

The author makes several statements and leaps of logic that are tangential of best and downright idiotic at worst. For example there is the assertion that numbers have not evolved; 7 has always been 7. Well duh! That’s true, but what’s the point being made here? The author knows this of course, but he elegantly steps from that to the assertion that complex mathematical laws discovered by man always existed, mankind did not invent them and nor did they evolve. True and obvious, but is there a point? Well apparently it’s a problem for secularists, but I’m not sure what that problem is and nor does the author because its not clarified. He jumps neatly from the human concept of numerical representation to the fact that numerical values are constant to the fact that the maths of planetary motion existed before man to therefore God.

Apparently anything that predates man must be of God. Great hypothesis, now let’s see a testable theory.

There is plenty more juice in the item and many more sentences of juicy sarcasm that can be squeezed out in comment. Go have a field day, if you dare …

 

Creationism on my doorstep

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a leaflet in our church advertising a discussion on origins that would be held at the local secondary school.

Curious, I read a bit more and a couple of points on it rang alarm bells for me.

Discussion on origins is Philosophical?

The heading on the leaflet bill it as a philosophical discussion. This bothered me because how we came about is surely in the realm of science. Granted the religious aspects of origins could arguably fall under the umbrella of philosophy. What concerned me was that billing it as philosophical and omitting reference to science immediately sets the tone as religious in nature, more specifically, creationist.

Reading further the noticed mentioned a UK creationism organisation and one of its key people by name.

I looked up the organisation to try and find some more detail on the specific discussion in question. The website listed a couple of events that they have representation at. What really grabbed my attention though was a note that said they will on occasion to talks or discussions at schools but that they will not be publicised on the site.

Flying Under the Radar?

The cynic in me wonders if the reason for this is so as to not attract too much attention from those who directly and actively oppose creationism through direct scientific argument.

Hosting such events at a school and having some local churches advertise it seem to me a safe way of getting enough doubt in science sown to impressionable people without having any credible argument or evidence shown.

Sadly for me, the event was a mid-week afternoon and I was unable to attend due to commitments in London.

After the event, my wife mentioned it to some friends we were entertaining for dinner and it turns out that one of the more elderly members of our church is very pro creationism and makes a good philosophical argument was very involved in this event, so maybe I’ll get an opportunity to challenge creationism directly in the future. Until then, I shall remain disappointed that this event happened and had very little publicity outside of a specific circle.

To be, or not to be, a Dick

I thought I’d take a break from my autobiographical posts and put down some thoughts on the current big topic in the Atheistic and Sceptical arena. That is, how to behave towards those who believe in the unbelievable. That’s not just religion, though the topic does appear to centre mainly around those with religious beliefs, but any superstition and what sceptics love to call ‘woo’.

Reading some blog posts and opinion on the subject you’d be forgiven for thinking that there are only two choices; lambast anyone who dares to hold an unprovable belief with as much ridicule as possible or embrace anyone and everyone so long as you can find some common ground with them, no matter how tenuous.

Save us from the Accomodationists!

What I find most frustrating when reading various comments are the highly vocal people in the anti-accomodationist camp. These are the easiest to identify on the imaginary grey line I mentioned above, they would be clustered very close to the lambasting extreme.

To the anti-accomodationist there is nothing more pure than the utter sanctity of science proven conclusion. If you can’t back it up with the science method, then it does not belong and don’t you dare go mixing with those folks who believe without proof, or you’ll taint the purity of reason. Usually these are the same people using the label ‘Gnu Atheists’ as though they are some gnarly badge wearing, skateboard riding, baggy jeaned cool new kid. They probably have their own special handshake as well.

Accomodationist and Proud.

Yes I would be classed as an accomodationist. Yes I am proud of that. When I first saw the extremeophiles calling others accomodationists, it was as though they spat the word out, like it left a bad taste to even think the word, let along utter it. It was most definitely not meant as a compliment to the recipient.

The term ‘accomodationst’, seems to be drawn out and thrown at anyone who dares suggest anything other than utter contempt should be shown towards those who choose to believe in anything unscientific.

This is a sad thing to see and it seems that more effort is being channelled into creating a rift in the sceptical community than is being put into more productive use educating and evangelising the good news.

Ridicule never Changed Anyone’s Mind

Of course there are some people who will never abandon their belief. Even worse, there are some people who know they are wrong, but continue to promote it because it provides them with a considerable income. Of course I hope the latter are a minority.

With these people, reasoned debate will probably never be possible, but is publicly mocking really going to achieve anything other than self satisfied smugness?

But what about the casual observer?

I have seen it suggested on more than one occasion that the act of ridicule will help show a casual observer how much of a fool your target is.

This has to be the most pathetic cop out of an argument I have ever heard. Unless the casual observer is already of the same mind as you, the most likely reaction of the casual observer is to think that you are a dick and then respond accordingly.

If you want the world to share your conclusion that belief is silly and only science can lead someone to reason; then you had better prove it by acting like a reasonable person.

Be Passionate about Science

Instead of being a crabby insulting human, how about being a passionate scient advocate instead, enthuse people by being passionate about truth. Truth is tangible, truth can be handled and touched, truth is proven time and time again to be reliable. Truth is beautiful. When you talk about science speak with passion about how can you not be riveted and encouraged by the wonder of what is true and by knowing so utterly that it is true because it can be demonstrated to audiences.

This is what makes great ambassadors for scientific reasoning, don’t ruin it all by yelling at and insulting those who deny reality.

Look at how the Christians do it.

One final thought, Christians have known for many years that the most effective way of converting people to Christianity is to go to them and meet them on their terms. Find out what a person needs most and attend to that need. Christians convert other people by making the effort to get to know other people and letting them see that Christian are not some do-gooder perfect human, but they do care and they do want to try as hard as possible to make life better.

If sceptics really want to show that science leads to reason and truth and that truth has something genuine to offer, then they should show it by doing things other than ridiculing the ridiculous.

 


 

* My thoughts on this matter are still evolving, so its possible (probable even) that I will revisit this subject in the future. It will be interesting to see if my stance changes between now and then.