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Sunday, January 3, 2010

You Cannot Reason

Neither you nor I can reason -- we just imagine that we do. Further, we merely imagine that we imagine (for there exists no such thing as imagination, any more than there exists such a thing as reason).

What's this absurdity which I've just stated? Why, they are simply among the logical implications of atheism, of the denial that there exists a Creator-God, and that we are his creations.

I've explained these truths at other times and places, at more or less length, but I think that this post (in this thread at the 'Gates of Vienna' blog) succinctly captures the argument, so I reproduce it here:

[''EscapeVelocity' said]
"... In closing, I would like to state, that as soon as [there] is proof that there is no God, then I will change my position. (As you noted, that is an unlikely occurence.)"

[I replied]
It's not only unlikely, it's impossible, for what is false cannot be proven true.

The reality of minds in a material world (thus, every human being who has ever existed) is proof that atheism is false. If atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, then we would not -- because we could not -- exist. But we do exist. Therefore, atheism is not the truth about the nature of reality.


This is the general form of the argument to support the prior claim --

GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes. [edit: But, since there exist entities and events in the world which are not wholly reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes, then it is seen that the denial that 'God is' is a false proposition.]


The explanation/proof is as follows --

This "everything" (which exists and must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes) includes our minds and all the functions and capabilities of our minds -- including reason (and, really, not just the individual acts of reasoning that we all engage in, but big-r 'Reason').

Now, specifically with respect to reasoning, what inescapably follows from atheism is that it is impossible for anything existing in reality (that included us) to reason.

When an entity reasons, it chooses to move from one thought or concept to another based on (its understanding of) the content of the concepts and of the logical relationship between them.

But, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN this movement from (what we call) thought to though (which activity or change-of-mental-state we call 'reasoning') *has* to be caused by, and must be wholely explicable in terms of, state-changes of matter. That is, it is not the content of, and logical relationship between, two thoughts which prompts a reasoning entity to move from the one thought to the other, but rather it is some change-of-state of some matter which determines that an entity "thinks" any particular "thought" when it does.
I leave it to the reader to dwell on the further implications.

This logical implication/consequence of atheism (the one I have explicated) directly denies what we all know to be true about the "cause" of all acts of reasoning. This logical implication/consequence of atheism states an absurdity, namely that we do not, and cannot, reason. Since the stated absurdity is a logical implication/consequence of atheism, therefore atheism is shown to be absurd. Which is to say, necessarily false.

Perhaps Gentle Reader will ask me whether I expect many (or even any) of those persons who call themselves 'atheists' and 'agnostics' to admit, based on this reasoning or any reasoning, that there exists, and that we can know that there exists, a Creator-God.

Gentle Reader always was a humorist!


What I expect is to be called greatly mistaken about the reasoning I've explicated. Or too stupid to see that it's incorrect. Or a liar for asserting it.

15 comments:

EscapeVelocity said...

Indeed.

There are Atheists that keep their beliefs private and to themselves and let others be. Perhaps they realize the tenuousness of their belief, the shakey ground upon which it rests. These folks are pleasant, and do not feel the need to promote their belief in one less God than I do, and form social organizations and bonds around their beliefs. However that does not constitute the majority of Atheists anymore.

They are smug, rude, ignorant while thinking themselves quite clever, and antagonistic in an agressive way, which seeks to villify, ridicule, and harass "the other." Most of Atheist literature attacks disproportionately Christians, Christianity, and Christian institutions, perhaps because like Leftists realize, it is much safer to do so than to attack say Muslim, Islam, and Islamic institutions.

They are very shallow and unpleasant people to be around. Sneering fools that they are.

EscapeVelocity said...

Zenster, if you would like to continue our discussion, maybe Ilio will be so kind as to let us have it here.

Otherwise, VersusVs forum is a new site, that we may do so.


I didnt feel it necessary to respond to your post, as you made your point. My point was that my post didnt require modding, and was a case of PC enforcement. Criticize Islam and Muslims, but not Atheists. Get it?

Point 2...

I do not feel the need to substantiate my claim in the manner in which you describe. You sound exactly like people that criticize criticism of Muslims with the small minority gambit. Its a gambit to shut down criticism. No generalizations are allowed. It actually shuts down rational thought and paralyzes societies stricken with such nonsense.

As if my opinion is invalid because it hasnt been thoroughly substantiated through rigorous scientific study, poll verification, and so on and so forth.

Maybe I should apply for a grant to study Atheists and FreeThinking Society yahoos.

Ilíon said...

EV,
I haven't closely read your posts on GoV which the Baron deleted, and your subsequent exchange with him about it (though, I did copy the content of all the posts to my computer so that I might read them at some time if I choose to do so), but from the quick skim I did make, I believe that the Baron acted unjustly and inconsistently (in just the way you pointed out to him).

Of course, it's his blog, and so he has the right to censor all and how he wants -- and, of course (contrary to his assertion) he engages in censorship; just as I do on my blog when I believe it warranted.

EscapeVelocity said...

Yes, I acknowledged that it was his blog, and he is entitled to do as he pleased.

I even recommended deleting the comments. I would have emailed him or private messaged him, but couldnt find a path to do so.

I just wanted to make my point.

Zenster, got all in a huff.

Frankly, Ive had enough of Atheists. They are welcome to oppose the Islamics, but dont expect me to kiss there arse while they continue to villify me and mine.

Post 2008 election, the Libertarians and Godless yahoos got uppity with the Christian Right in the Republican tent.

Quite frankly the Christians would fare far better without those yahoos if the party split. Gaining some from the Christian Left, African Americans, and especially the growing demographic Latinos. Godless Libertarians would collect some women clinging to their right to kill their offspring, and some gays and that is about it...perhaps make some inroads into Northern Liberals, but not much.

Best

EV

kh123 said...

"That is, it is not the content of, and logical relationship between, two thoughts which prompts a reasoning entity to move from the one thought to the other, but rather [under atheism] it is some change-of-state of some matter which determines that an entity "thinks" any particular "thought" when it does."

Well that explains the 99.9% of the content at MSNBC and livejournal.

Ahh, culture wars. But what I'm wondering is why our body count's so far behind all of those other honest-to-Marx revolutions? I mean, isn't America supposed to be the leader in mass production? Why aren't all of these red-blooded atheists following the Sorbonne/Copenhagen/Red Square model for change?

...Then again, I suppose internet and weed do keep the beasts at bay.

Doc Rampage said...

Hope you don't mind an interloper commenting. I got here from from JCW's livejournal.

I think that you are conflating atheism with naturalism. Naturalism does have the consequences that you describe, and as a practical matter almost all atheists are naturalists, but atheism does not require naturalism.

One could consistently be an atheist and a Cartesian dualist, for example and then this argument would not apply to him.

Ilíon said...

"Hope you don't mind an interloper commenting. I got here from from JCW's livejournal."

Not at all; welcome.


"I think that you are conflating atheism with naturalism. ..."

Not at all.


"... but atheism does not require naturalism."

Naturalism and atheism are like two sides of the same coin (or two facets of the same “paste diamond”). Any atheism which acknowledges the reality of the physical world (aka "nature") implies naturalism.

You may have noticed that I argued: “GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN …


One could consistently be an atheist and a Cartesian dualist, for example and then this argument would not apply to him.

Ad hocery does not equal consistency; it's pretty much the contrary of consistency.

Ilíon said...

The 'Agent Intellect' blog has a collection of shorter statements of C.S.Lewis' argument from reason. I'd read most of these at one time or another; and Lewis' thought (along with that of others, such as Plantinga) was influential to the genesis of this argument.

Aaron Boyden said...

This seems to be the mistake: "That is, it is not the content of, and logical relationship between, two thoughts which prompts a reasoning entity to move from the one thought to the other, but rather it is some change-of-state of some matter which determines that an entity "thinks" any particular "thought" when it does."

The statement between the "it is not" and the "but rather" does not follow from naturalism, because it is not in conflict with the statement after the "but rather."

Hope that helped.

Ilíon said...

Mr Boyden,
I don't think *your* refusal to reason properly, or to admit a logical consequence, is going to help anyone find the assertedly fatal flaw in this argument.

Elizabeth Liddle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Liddle said...

A third attempt at a live link to my promised thread

Ilíon said...

Thanks for the link; I'll give it a read.

Ilíon said...

I haven't read your post yet ... for some reason, I decided to first skim through the comments it has garnered. Oh, my! Those poor, unreasoning souls! ... how embarrassing it must be to be unable to follow a simple argument. Why, one of your commentators has even asserted that I didn’t even offer an argument, but that I made only an assertion.

==
Regardless (of some) of your commentators’ odd views, the argument is indeed a reductio ad absurdum, and specifically, it is a reductio ad impossibile, also called a “proof by contradiction” and “proof by denial”.

One Brow said...

I have written a response, should you care to examine it.