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Friday, February 5, 2010

A Personal Response

I don't think I'm violating anyone's trust here, since the individual who sent me this email was complaining that he couldn't respond to the blog for some reason.

Fist statement of the response:

"The PT site doesn't exactly have the reputation of being on the side of the gods. And yet the readers are to be subjected to preaching for the first month of the new format with your submissions--so far about two a day".

Preaching? I merely stated a belief. I don;t claim authority for my statements. I don't even say that any authority can be claimed. If someone wrote something with which I disagreed, would it be "preaching"? If the next editor says something with which i disagree, I will directly challenge him in regards to his statements explicitly.

Notice in the above remarks a decided tendency toward ad hominem. Not actually pointing to the flaw in the logic of mu statements, but obviously disparaging it for my benefit by calling it "preaching". Does that prove it right or wrong? No, it proves absolutely nothing except that he doesn't personally like it. So? I don't personally like a lot of things, but i usually try to discipline myself to specific responses.

Next statement: "Your preaching is about like most sermons, confusing and contradictory".

Notice again that this is a statement "about" what I'm saying, which falls into the category of ad hominem, but tells me nothing at all except that he doesn't like it and he finds it confusing and contradictory. Is it confusing and contradictory? How can I possibly know if he doesn't explain it?

But we are getting into some more specific comments:

"Now let's see, you cannot prove there is a God so it is likely you don't know what a god is, and yet man is destined to become a thing you cannot identify. It is rationally confusing."

First part is true. No one can prove the existence of God. Have I stated a falsehood? Can any of you prove there is a God? Therefore, I do not know what a God is. However, I have never said it is a fact that man is destined to become God. I merely stated that it is my BELIEF that man is to become God. Is this somehow logically contradictory?

Let's see. Is it permissible to believe in truth? You might say "one doesn't believe in truth. One PROVES truth. Yes, that must be true. But can anyone prove all truth? No, one cannot. BUT one can conclude that truth must be consistent with all truth. I can't prove this, but it would seem to be a logical assumption, since if any any statement is not consistent with truth, or contradicts truth, how can it be true? Yet there is no way I can prove this to be consistent with what I happen to believe is true within my own knowledge. The reason being that I cannot prove that all my knowledge is complete and consistent within truth. I may actually believe something that is wrong.

However, with no ability to prove the consistency or completeness of my own thoughts in regard to 'absolute" truth, I can logically BELIEVE in truth, though I CANNOT prove it. Therefore, I can believe that if there is a God, and that God is consistent with truth, in fact is the embodiment of truth, then it is perfectly logical to accept the idea that I can BELIEVE in a God who is consistent with truth, whether I can prove it or not.

Let's look at it from another viewpoint. Suppose I could actually define truth in all its completeness. If I could, then there is nothing to prevent me from programming it into a computer. At the point I program all truth into a computer, from every possible definition known to the human mind, that computer would BE truth. It would exist separately from truth, but since it would contain the perfect embodiment of truth, it would be truth in every conceivable fashion. Would there be a difference between the computer that "contained" the truth, and truth itself?

It seems logical there would be a difference. But to actually DEFINE the truth, you would have to "contain" it within some boundaries of human thought. That is, truth would be finite, rational, complete, and consistent. Does truth exist in that fashion? We simply don't know. We accept that truth is infinite. That was Godel's conclusion. If it is finite, then we should be able to define the boundaries of truth.

The problem is, we can't. We cannot list all the true statements of mathematics, but if we could list them, we would discover that there existed some false statements that got "smuggled in" during the process of listing.

If "God" therefore, is synonymous with truth, then "God" would have to be infinite, non-definable, just as truth is.

Next statement, from Ayn Rand:

"No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the sum total of his knowledge. To arrive at a contradiction s to abdicate one's mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality".

Is God within Ayn Rand's concepts? Well, if you read The Fountainhead, you will see her making the statement o the effect that "The first frown was the touch of God on man's forehead".

Is that a part of her integrated concepts? She was an atheist, and she did not believe God lay within the realm of integrated concepts, yet she stated an obvious contradiction. If there is no place for God within integrated concepts, how could God 'touch a man's forehead' from outside those integrated conceptions?

But let's just look at her statement above. Lots of people do to Ayn rand what I have accused you folks of doing to me, so I will look at the statement rather than talking "about" it.

"No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the sum total of his knowledge".

Notice, she didn't write "all knowledge" or "absolute knowledge". She merely said "his knowledge". There is nothing within that statement declaring that every man must possess a complete, consistent understanding of all knowledge. In fact, we know mathematically that he cannot. But it is necessary for him to correctly integrate all HIS knowledge.

Let's look at another Ayn Rand quote:

"Men have a weapon against you(collectivism). Reason. So you must be very sure to take it away from them. Cut the props out from under it. But be careful. Don't deny outright. Never deny anything outright, you give your hand away. Don't say reason is evil--though some have gone that far with astonishing success. Just say that reason is limited. That there's something above it. What? You don;t have to be too clear about it either. The field's inexhaustible. 'Instinct'--'Feeling'--'Revelation'--'Divine Intuition'--Dialectical materialism'..."

In other words, Ayn Rand is saying that there is no collective power by which men can be controlled in the name of truth. Every man has a weapon against all collective power. Why?
Because truth cannot ever be contained in a complete, consistent sense in one common package. Godel's theorem merely supports Ayn Rand!

Men are forever free precisely BECAUSE truth cannot be contained in one single package!

How does that differ from what Paul said in Romans 9:16-22? Is there a decision procedure b which we can organize under God? If there is, both Paul and Ayn Rand would be wrong!

If you can define any algorithm or decision process by which truth can be collectivized, then you would prove both the atheist Ayn Rand and the theist Paul wrong!

By the way, Here's Ayn Rand's full quote about God, from the above statement:

"Have you noticed that the imbecile always smiles? Man's first frown is the first touch of God on his forehead. The touch of thought."

Whoops!

Another quote from the email:

"So you cannot prove a god exists, but you are quite willing to proceed to preach/teach from a 'holy book' allegedly inspired by that unproven god."

I don't remember calling it a "holy book". The only thing I did was to question what the term "holy" means, as in "Holy Spirit". Did I say there was anything higher than the mind of any individual mind? Have i said you must believe what I say? No, I merely challenge you to prove me wrong, and nobody's even come close.

"Well, you cannot prove that allegation, either". What allegation? The only "allegation" I have chosen to demonstrate is that Paul's statements in Romans 8 and 9, and Jesus' statements in Matthew 24:23, are consistent with the facts as we see them, and consistent with what we are learning about the "real" world.
Quit talking "about" my statements and prove me wrong.

I love this one: "Your preaching from it(the bible) treats it as if the god you admittedly cannot prove does indeed exist. There is the blatant contradiction".

No, I have merely pointed out that the statements I quote from the bible are consistent with the facts of reality. Whether a god exists to support those facts cannot be proven one way or another.

But if the statements ARE consistent with reality, there is no reason to assume that such a god does not exist, any more than we would assume that a complete, consistent truth does not exist, even though we cannot mathematically prove it.

These are tired old arguments the gentleman presents. I've heard them many times.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Preaching? Yep, all I hear from you is ruminations about quotes from an ancient book written by a bunch of illiterate sheepherders. I can't wait for a new month, your approach is so similar to Armstrong, the bible proves this, the bible proves that. Give me a break, no freedom in such a mindset.

sigh

Anonymous said...

???

Ralph said...

Anon, show me where i ever said the bible proves anything. You don't even have the intellectual horsepower to even match me. You think I'm going away when the next editor comes around?

Prove me wrong. You can't. You know you can't and I know you can't. All you can do is yap yap.

Anonymous said...

All you can do is quote meaningless scripture. You acknowledge that the bible doesn't prove anything and then you yap on with scripture after scripture trying to prove your points.

Questeruk said...

Anonymous said...
“………quotes from an ancient book written by a bunch of illiterate sheepherders.”

The illiterate write….. That is a miracle all on it’s own, anonymous!!!

Ralph said...

Anonymous, obviously I am proving my points, because you can't seem to prove me wrong.