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Blowing Tag Out Of The Water


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A couple years ago, Paul Manata made a brief appearance on the site to lay a presuppositionalist smackdown on us all. While I had only a very mild understanding of the position, I thought that engaging Paul with some questions would give me the crash course I needed to understand precisely what he was up to.

 

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Paul was so busy trying to furiously attack me, at one point asking me a question and then announcing that he'd attack me regardless of my answer, that I could see that he wasn't going to help me get anywhere. So I boldly told him that I wasn't afraid of him and the day would come when I could confront his argument and stop it dead in its tracks.

 

Well, that day may not be today, but it looms closer my friends. Over the past few years, I've quietly read TAG arguments, pondered my own worldview, and tried to see if I could see what the presuppers were up to on my own.

 

Admittedly, this epistemology stuff isn't my bag. I'm not a philosopher. I'm a cartoonist and a science geek. Those are my strengths.

 

On the other hand, I do have enough of grasp of logical argumentation to make enough of a solid case against presuppositionalism, and I'll do so by presenting a very basic 3-point outline:

 

 

1. The atheist worldview projected by the presuppositionalist debater is a strawman. It's a particularly devious strawman, because most unexperienced debaters will not realize the crooked hand they've been dealt until it is too late. If the debater unwittingly falls into the trap of defending the "atheistic worldview", he's already lost the debate.

 

2. This strawman is constructed to create a false dichotomy between worldviews so that the Christian can press the antithesis against the atheist by employing a "reductio ad absurdum" argument. If the Christian can find holes in the atheist's worldview, which is likely if the debater came unprepared, then he's won the debate, although quite dishonestly.

 

3. By accepting the antithesis, the so-called "atheist worldview", the atheist has basically been fooled into begging the question, because he's now up against Romans 1, which says that there are no atheists.

 

 

The solution I've devised is actually quite simple, and it involves rejecting the one thing the presuppositionalist wants you to accept: The Atheist Worldview. Now, I know what you're thinking, but listen to me. Athiesm is NOT a worldview, because atheism says nothing about the world. Rather, it's a personal statement regarding belief that each of us have arrived at using more basic presuppositions that are actually grounded in our reality.

 

This ruins the presuppositionalist's argument for two specific reasons:

 

 

1. Reductio ad absurdum goes out the window, because the presupper no longer have an antithetical dichotomy with which to perform such an argument. If a presuppositionalist were to find a hole in your logic, it would be irrelevent, because it would no longer follow that his worldview is validated by attacking yours. It reduces itself to a non sequitur, and can therefore be ignored.

 

2. It no longer begs the question, because the presumption of atheism becomes the conclusion rather than the opening statement. The presumption of atheism is a conclusion based on how you view the world, or YOUR WORLDVIEW, whether it be a form of objectivism, coherentism, or whatever.

 

 

At this point, TAG is reduced to just another crummy design argument. Stripped of the ability to use a Disjunctive Syllogism, TAG becomes an argument from ignorance, because it's trying to disqualify any theory of logic, reason, or morality that doesn't have a complete system worked out for itself. Just as with creationism, the assumption is that if you can find a theory and poke holes in it, you can put God in its place.

 

Voila! It's a God-of-the-gaps argument.

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You were letting the opposition frame the argument and make all the definitions. You're right; Atheism is not a world view. If you just take your definition of Atheism to the next plain you'll do even better. Atheism is not even a statement, it is a default position. One does not have to do or say anything to be an Atheist. All one needs is a lack of belief in gods.

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Atheism is not even a statement, it is a default position. One does not have to do or say anything to be an Atheist. All one needs is a lack of belief in gods.
Well I don't know if I would say that in debate. I do agree with that statement, however.

 

That's the sort of statement in which they can sneak you back into begging the question, because you're implying that Romans 1 is false. Even though you're not meaning to imply that atheism is a worldview, they can still trap you.

 

But I'm working on my own rebuttal to that nonsense, so hopefully I'll have something to post about that as well very soon. To be clear, I find it absolutely fallacious that they enter the argument with a worldview that presumes to know the mindset of the opponent. They're basically saying, "Oh, and my oppenent also knows that my worldview is true, but he's only suppressing it under the weight of his sins.".

 

It's a partially an ad hominem and partially poisoning the well. It's one thing if the atheist actually begs the question by assuming something on his own and then using it to acheive the same conclusion. It's entirely another for the apologist to frame his argument in a way which forces the atheist into an indefensible position. In fact, just framing it this way, you can kind of see that the atheist really isn't begging the question, but I think it could be worded better.

 

The intent here is to not give the presuppers an oxygen worth of credibility. The atheists do have the high ground. It's just a matter of seeing what the presuppositionalist is up to and what he's up against.

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Good job, Mr. Neil. I wish you were posting more often these days; I always learn a lot from your stuff!

 

When I was a Calvinist, one of my friends, a seminarian and TAG lover, said "you have to pick what circle you'll stand in." He realized that every system has a starting point. For most rational people, the laws of thought are axiomatic. For TAG types, it's Calvinism that is axiomatic. Which is better? I say, the former, because you appeal to the laws of thought in framing Calvinism, but to try to prove rationally that the laws of thought are valid forces you to use those laws in your very proof. So really they are axiomatic, not Calvinism. So forget all this shit about world views; that's just rhetoric. No one but Calvinists talk about world views. What matters are your fundamental axioms.

 

As I've pointed out on other threads, Aristotle already confronted this problem in the Metaphysics and elsewhere. He showed, I think successfully, that it just doesn't make sense to try to prove a first principle. Axioms perhaps we can say are intuitively obvious.

 

By the laws of thought I mean the principles of

non-contradiction

identity

excluded middle (i.e. every statement is either true or false)

 

Do you agree?

 

BTW I noticed that Manata sort of dropped off this board after I caught him in the fallacy of confusing "if... then" and "only if". bwa ha ha But maybe he went away for other reasons.

 

BTW I've been wanting an explanation of the Schroedinger's Cat paradox. Tell me you'll give one and I'll create a thread about it.

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Good job, Mr. Neil. I wish you were posting more often these days; I always learn a lot from your stuff!
Well, I try to stay humble, which is why I admit up front that I'm not a philosopher. Or least, not an exceptional one.

 

When I was a Calvinist, one of my friends, a seminarian and TAG lover, said "you have to pick what circle you'll stand in." He realized that every system has a starting point. For most rational people, the laws of thought are axiomatic. For TAG types, it's Calvinism that is axiomatic. Which is better? I say, the former, because you appeal to the laws of thought in framing Calvinism, but to try to prove rationally that the laws of thought are valid forces you to use those laws in your very proof. So really they are axiomatic, not Calvinism. So forget all this shit about world views; that's just rhetoric. No one but Calvinists talk about world views. What matters are your fundamental axioms.
Exactly. What I'm starting to lean toward is that it really doesn't matter what your worldview is, because all it is is a theory of how the world works. And like all theories, it needs time and effort to assemble, and you're probably going to get some things wrong.

 

I know that sounds very coherentist, and it probably is. My worldview is always a work in progress, so it's not as if I just stagnate on the principle that my worldview may be flawed. It just means I have to re-evaluate my worldview if I catch myself in an inconsistancy. I see no reason to be so terrified of this as to surrender myself to Christianity just to have absolute internal consistency. Besides, doing so would not make my worldview coherent. It would only mean that I've adopted "The Cartoon Universe" as my worldview.

 

It's simply not the case that if your worldview fails that Christianity wins by default. That's why the presuppers stage the debate the way they do, so that you take the antithesis of their position. Then, and only then, can they employ their reductio ad absurdum. Without that step, they have ZILCH.

 

So yes, there are going to be problems and inconsistancies in everybody's worldview, which is why we talk to each other about it. As long as we've got the ability to learn from each other, then that's what matters. This epistemic dick-waving that presuppers like to pull is totally uncalled-for.

 

As I've pointed out on other threads, Aristotle already confronted this problem in the Metaphysics and elsewhere. He showed, I think successfully, that it just doesn't make sense to try to prove a first principle. Axioms perhaps we can say are intuitively obvious.

 

By the laws of thought I mean the principles of

non-contradiction

identity

excluded middle (i.e. every statement is either true or false)

 

Do you agree?

Absolutely.

 

BTW I noticed that Manata sort of dropped off this board after I caught him in the fallacy of confusing "if... then" and "only if". bwa ha ha But maybe he went away for other reasons.

 

BTW I've been wanting an explanation of the Schroedinger's Cat paradox. Tell me you'll give one and I'll create a thread about it.

Oh man, are you trying to make my brain explode? I dunno, maybe.

 

I kind of understand Schrödinger's cat, but it's not one of my better subjects. I can give a fairly cursory explanation of it, but I am by no means the go-to guy for questions involving quantum mechanics.

 

I would almost suggest Wikipedia's article, seeing as it does a fairly decent job explaining it.

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Atheism is not even a statement, it is a default position. One does not have to do or say anything to be an Atheist. All one needs is a lack of belief in gods.
Well I don't know if I would say that in debate. I do agree with that statement, however.

 

That's the sort of statement in which they can sneak you back into begging the question, because you're implying that Romans 1 is false. Even though you're not meaning to imply that atheism is a worldview, they can still trap you.

No, they can't trap me by using anything in the bible. The whole bible is false and would not be acceptable support in any debate. If you allow the bible in, they are setting the rules, not you. You cannot allow them to define Atheism as a world view since it is not.
But I'm working on my own rebuttal to that nonsense, so hopefully I'll have something to post about that as well very soon. To be clear, I find it absolutely fallacious that they enter the argument with a worldview that presumes to know the mindset of the opponent. They're basically saying, "Oh, and my oppenent also knows that my worldview is true, but he's only suppressing it under the weight of his sins.".

 

It's a partially an ad hominem and partially poisoning the well. It's one thing if the atheist actually begs the question by assuming something on his own and then using it to acheive the same conclusion. It's entirely another for the apologist to frame his argument in a way which forces the atheist into an indefensible position. In fact, just framing it this way, you can kind of see that the atheist really isn't begging the question, but I think it could be worded better.

It's not only an ad hominem and poisoning the well, but there is also a touch of omniscience in there too. You can see how the theists use the term "denial." When they use the term they are claiming that we actually believe there is a god, and it's the christian one, but we just refuse to admit it. Many cannot understand how someone cannot believe in a god.
The intent here is to not give the presuppers an oxygen worth of credibility. The atheists do have the high ground. It's just a matter of seeing what the presuppositionalist is up to and what he's up against.
Don't let them get any control and don't let them define anything.
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That's why the presuppers stage the debate the way they do, so that you take the antithesis of their position. Then, and only then, can they employ their reductio ad absurdum. Without that step, they have ZILCH.

 

What do you feel motivates this dishonesty? If their world view is correct, then they are bound by the principles, which include that the sin of dishonesty is unacceptable. Do you feel that presups are pragmatists who argue to themselves that the ends justify the means? Are they just motivated to win?

 

Perhaps my question is unanswerable, but this issue does confound me.

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What do you feel motivates this dishonesty?
Desperation.

 

If their world view is correct, then they are bound by the principles, which include that the sin of dishonesty is unacceptable. Do you feel that presups are pragmatists who argue to themselves that the ends justify the means? Are they just motivated to win?
Usually I don't speculate about motives, as speculation is usually just a form of projection. But with TAG, I find that the motivation to win is pretty much implied. Like I said, they frame it in such a way that they can't help BUT to win.

 

Think of it this way. Let's say there's a football game in which there's only one goal post, because one of the teams was able to manipulate the other team into playing under these conditions. That's a pretty clear indication that the entire motivation is to win. That's basically how TAG works.

 

Perhaps my question is unanswerable, but this issue does confound me.
I often wonder about that, too. As far as their total willingness to lie, I don't know. I would think that if they really believed this stuff, that they wouldn't do that.

 

I've seen some claims against evolution and atheism from presups that just boggle my mind. Seriously, I don't know where they're getting this stuff. I suppose you can partially attribute it to ignorance, but when one of these schmucks equates evolution to Nazism, they're obviously just pulling this shit out of thin air. I mean, there's just no way you could pick up a biology book and come to that conclusion.

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What do you feel motivates this dishonesty?
Desperation.

 

 

Only speaking of the person I used to be years ago and the people I knew who subscribed to TAG, we were not intending to lie, but we were desperate. TAG made us feel that our faith was true and couldn't be questioned.

 

I think a lot of people have the experience I had: one part of the system reveals itself for being so unlikely that in a flash, you glimpse that the whole system as a system cannot stand. Then you back out of literalism into a more liberal form of christianity or else you keep on going into jettisoning theism itself.

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Only speaking of the person I used to be years ago and the people I knew who subscribed to TAG, we were not intending to lie, but we were desperate. TAG made us feel that our faith was true and couldn't be questioned.
Well yeah. I wouldn't say that those of faith are lying about what they believe. If they were, that wouldn't make much sense, because they'd have to be deceiving themselves. I agree with Derek Sansone when he says that it's not possible to deceive oneself, because deceit implies intent. I mean, how does one intend to fool himself and then fall for his own deceit? I know that's not exactly what Derek was talking about, but I think it certainly applies.

 

But the way in which TAG works has quite a bit of dishonesty to it. Even if the claim of Christianity isn't dishonest, the way in which they go about defending it is. The way they pigeon-hole atheism is dishonest.

 

Again, I don't mean to assume to know they're motives, but there's really only one human emotion that fits this profile, and that's insecurity.

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Good stuff Neil. As always, damn good stuff. :3:

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Ways in which TAG is just like Creationism

 

 

1. IMMEDIATELY mischaracterize the opposing view.

 

Creationism says: Evolution is a theory of origins.

TAG says: Atheism is a worldview.

 

 

2. Rely heavily on a false dichotomy.

 

Creationism says: It's either millions of years of atheistic evolution or 6-day Christian creation.

TAG says: Says that we can use reason "...only if the atheistic worldview is true."

 

 

3. Invent a problem that doesn't exist. (Infomercial Logic: Part 1)

 

Creationism says: Irreducible Complexity

TAG says: Atheists can't account for logic.

 

 

4. Solve the problem! (Infomercial Logic: Part 2)

 

Creationism says: God did it!

TAG says: God did it!

 

 

5. MACHINE GUN! RATTA-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT!!!!

 

Creationism says: Carbon dating with mollusks. Dogs giving birth to non-dogs. Make bogus assertions about evolution and Hitler.

TAG says: Nitpick every single detail. If the atheist uses a word that has an infinite regress argument attached to it, use it! Make lots and lots and lots of assertions, but never explain any of them!

 

 

6. Projection!

 

Creationism says: "Evolution is a religion."

TAG says: "Atheists hate God and his laws."

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The solution I've devised is actually quite simple, and it involves rejecting the one thing the presuppositionalist wants you to accept: The Atheist Worldview. Now, I know what you're thinking, but listen to me. Athiesm is NOT a worldview, because atheism says nothing about the world. Rather, it's a personal statement regarding belief that each of us have arrived at using more basic presuppositions that are actually grounded in our reality.

 

You're right that it's not a worldview, but I think there is a much easier way to combat the TAG viewpoint.

 

The laws of logic are necessary and do not have to be accounted for.

 

Woo!

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The laws of logic are necessary and do not have to be accounted for.
That's a good point that I should have covered in the first post, although I allude to it under my comparison to creationism and the application of "infomercial logic".

 

By the way, did any of you guys catch Manantra on Infidel Guy last week? Reggie doesn't have the show up, but apparently Paul courageously stood behind one of the most disgusting "values" in the entire Bible. I'd be absolutely aghast if I hadn't already suspected this:

 

http://www.infidelguy.com/ftopict-23087-Di...hear-right.html

 

 

It's absolutely astonishing how somebody could be so committed to defending the indefensible.

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