Monday, February 16, 2009

Open thread on AE 2/15

Since there was no post before yesterday's show, or any post in the last several days, I'm submitting this. If you want to discuss the show with me and Don yesterday, including the final conversation with apologist Matt Slick, then have at it. Note that comment moderation is on, so it might take a while for yours to show up.


  1. For a quick crash course in Slick tactics, I suggest the RRS show that he was on about 1.5 years ago. He's not a nice man.

  2. Honestly? It was painful. It repeatedly dissolved into him yelling about you guys not letting him talk whenever you were questioning or trying to clarify a point. On top of that, he didn't really get anywhere. While I do hope the guy calls in again, I really hope it isn't more of the same that he tries to give us.

  3. That Slick person could have saved some time with his argument by using math as a "transcendent" concept instead of logic. Math is also something that is arguably independent of space time.
    Just because there are things which might be true, though, is for me still no argument that they needed a creator. Unless his point was that logic is god or some such nonsense.

  4. Mark's "Transcendental Argument" seems to me to be a relative of the Ontological Argument, which basically defines God into existence by making a bunch of needlessly obfuscated logical assertions. It's like one of those fake proofs that 1=2, where it's hard to find the exact place where the logic breaks down, but it's still clearly absurd.

    Nevertheless, I found it frustrating to listen because in his eagerness to jump on any assertion he felt was unsupported, I think Russell was jumping to conclusions too early. Mark was being very careful to avoid making huge logical leaps, but very often Russell or Don leapt to a conclusion that was way beyond anything Mark had said and began arguing against that. It sounded like a straw man to me. (I can't come up with a specific example right now, but as soon as the audio is posted I will find one.)

  5. I wonder what presuppositionalists like Matt Slick make of the fact that computer engineers routinely design computers to perform logical and mathematical operations through electrons in motion. A computer's "logic gate" on a piece of silicon doesn't look so "transcendental" to me.

  6. It was interesting to have a theist with at least half a thought in his head on the show - too bad it was still only half. I shared a little bit of the Matt Slick's frustration with the conversation because although I support the notion that if you let a million assumptions go whizzing by you have to start over to address the problems, but after a while it seemed like he could only speak in half sentences and I really wanted to hear what he was trying to get at.

    That being said, having gone to his website and read the whole argument, I think you guys had him nailed by the end with prescriptive vs. descriptive. Plus, the argument is so convoluted it amounts to sleight of hand imho.

    Whatever. I enjoyed it. :)

  7. I'm listening to the show now. I stopped it at the 1:01 mark to do something else, but I'll listen to the rest soon.

  8. One thing I've noticed in general is that there seem to be too many intelligent people involved with atheism, which can unfortunately lead to a distasteful appearance of smugness, a public relations liability. Where are the brutish, lowbrow atheist extremists that the moderates can disavow in order to seem more tolerant and reasonable?

  9. This guy is a fail. A quick read through his we and you find this:

    "We also analyze secular philosophies such as abortion, atheism, evolution, and relativism"

    Evolution: science theory
    Abortion: medical procedure
    Atheism: response to theism

    Where's the philosophy side of those?

  10. Ok, I didn't get to watch the last few minutes. My computer went down. What happened? Are you still an atheist? Will that guy call back on another show? Will there be ongoing dialogue between him and the ACA?

    Just kidding, but it is killing to me to not know the outcome.

    I hope you get the audio problems fixed soon. It's getting difficult to listen to on mp3.

    I still love the show.

  11. Its hard to say too much as the echo made it a little harder to hear and Matt Slick is known for throwing a bunch of convoluted BS. The problem is (and I think it was stated by George after the show as well) is that with Matt Slick you would probably have to dedicate a whole show, and not sure how interesting the show would be. It would be far easier to debate and talk with him on email as you can have him lay out what he is talking about, and then refute it (similar to the Colson issue).

    I will have to rewatch/relisten to it later to listen in more detail.

  12. Excellent show. The audio was pretty annoying. I got use to it and it worked out okay, but as a listener, when two people were talking at the same time, it was impossible for me to understand either person with the set up you had going.

    I really hope he calls in again, that was AETV at its best. Though I did not think he was really understanding and thinking through want he was saying. Even at the beginning, he was making huge leaps with what logic was as a definition that he could not support. The principles of logic seem to be the best way we humans have, at the moment, of understanding the world around us. This does not make it the end all be all of human thought. We could one day discover a system of "knowing" that is better than the current one we have. But the fact that the logic we rely on today is the best that we have does not by definition mean it is the pinnacle of human intellectual achievement. There are other systems of knowledge and ways to construct worldviews in the world today. This of course does not make any one worldview and system of know equal to all others. Certainly the "western logic" that we use appears to be the best and most accurate way to arrive at Truth with the smallest degree of error that we have come up with to this point. But this does not mean that it is transcendental. It only means we are thus far too stupid to find a better way.

    I felt like he was trying to attack Don's position that logic is a human construction to describe and understand the world around us as a sort of relativistic position. I think this is not the point that Don was going for, but to be fair to the caller Matt, the way Don started that statement is the way that many relativists will start out their statements that all knowledge is relative and so we cannot really "know" or trust anything. It might have been a good tactic to describe human constructions of ways to understand the world as operating on a continuum. On one side of the line would be Truth with 100% certainty and on the other side would be Truth with 0% certainty. All the knowledge systems in the world would fall somewhere on that line, probably with no knowledge system achieving 0% certainty and obviously no knowledge system achieving 100% certainty. Certainly “western logic” falls really close to that 100% certainty, and of all the knowledge systems that we know of that have to this date been created, it is the best method we have devised at getting close to 100% certainty. But I do not think that anybody would claim that we have 100% perfect knowledge of anything that we have studied so far. And because logic has not yet gotten us to Truth with 100% certainty, it does not make sense to call it transcendental. We know logic was created by humans, we can go back and actually see the steps they took in creating it. There is no reason to think that it is transcendental, or to assume that it was created by an all-powerful fairy in the sky. The rules of logic are proof of humans, not of any god.

  13. Hey AE people. I'm a little disappointed that you guys played along with Matt Slick, rather than point out the main problem with his 'proof'. That problem is that even if he's correct about most of what he said, it is not actually a proof at all. Check my post on this topic:

    This is a god which used to part oceans, release plagues, slay children, etc, etc. And now it only reveals itself through the 'transcendental proof' (a "philosophical proof"). Wow, philosophical proof. That's the best they can do now. They know their god will never reveal itself in any other way, and they know it will never be detected.

    Next time somebody calls with this kind of 'proof', I'd like to see you guys point out that it isn't a proof at all. It's only theoretical, and proof of existence requires detection.

  14. First time posting in response to a show and I have to ask, Why did you let that guy babble on for so long? It was painful to listen to, even more than the non-professonal apologists, since there seemed to be no point. Even if logic were some non-universal elemental force, it doesn't lead to a God, much less the christian one. What if Socrates was right and it's a result of the world of form and world of substance? If logic exists outside of observation why can't it just be a spectrum like electro-magnetism (as a side note isn't that more or less how Disk World works?) Why is that guy considered a good apologist? all he did was fling around faux intellectual buzz words. If he comes on again, would it be possible to insist he argues purely by real evidence? After all, even if he wasn't being absurd, something can be logical and still not reflect reality (ie. the Zeno's paradox)

    What really got me about his argument is that he outright broke his own established rules of logic. Law of contradictions. Something can not have two mutually exclusive qualities (ie something heavy cannot also be light). He then says that God is both inside and outside the universe. Unless he's trying to argue that God is so fat he's stuck in the universe's door frame he's invoking special pleading.

  15. To be honest I was a bit disappointed in the conversation with Matt Slick. I know you guys were trying to avoid letting his argument be based on falsehoods or poorly defined terms, but I don't even think he got a chance to get to any worthwhile part of his argument (if he had one). Frankly, with the short amount of time that was left, I would have let him get about half-way through to the first "meat" of his argument, then embarrass him.

  16. I once heard post modern philosophy described as taking a concept and making it as difficult to understand as possible. That's exactly what he did. He took a concept that could have been expressed fairly simply and instead loaded it with as many big, smart sounding words as possible.

    I can understand why he was getting pissed at being interrupted: He's used to throwing out that argument all in one go and relying on it to shock his opponent into submission. By being interrupted and called on things, he couldn't rely on that.

  17. Ing,
    exactly. It's just so convenient that special pleading makes him special. He's special by definition, ergo has the 'I win' button permanently implemented in any argument. Of course theists will maintain that removing God from any reasonable argument by definition does not in any way invalidate the claim that he exists in reality and can be experienced by the transcendental part of the mind. 'Cuz I say so'. End of discussion.
    Turn around, and the Pope is condemning condom use again. 'Cuz he wins'. Disasters punish homos. 'Cuz he wins'.

  18. First time to comment for me as well.

    I've to agree with some comments here in that she show wasn't much fun to watch, mostly due to the caller's whining. I mean, he gets interrupted for like 2 seconds and then cries about it for 2 minutes. That being said, I don't know what the right strategy in response to that kind of behavior would've been. Just let him go on for 2 minutes and then shut him down completely? Aggressively telling him not to act like a baby?

    As for the caller's argument: In my opinion it already falls short when he tries to imply that formal logic actually "transcends" anywhere... when it doesn't even manage to break out of the realm of pure mathematical models and definitions.

    "IF...THEN..." may sound like a formal logic statement of the form A => B (I don't recall what example he jumped on), but it's not.

    IF the light is green THEN go across the street. Right?

    No, wrong! If the light is green and there's no ambulance rushing in and you know that the light isn't falsely showing green and [insert infinite amount of more conditions] then go across the street. Real life situations are impossible to model using formal logic because life isn't discrete.

    There are of course other kinds of logic and similar methods used in knowledge engineering that try to cope with that problem, but they of course come with a price. For example, inference might break down or you've to say goodbye to the caller's much loved laws of identity... heck, you're lucky when you can assume monotony.

    Anyway, I hope I made some sense here and thanks for making the show.

  19. I'll reiterate that Matt Slick NEVER has a point. His sole purpose in a "debate" is to babble incoherently and complain about not being allowed to speak. He HAS NO POINTS. They could've let him talk for an hour, an he'd stutter for half of it, continuously repeating himself, have long discussions about nothing that go nowhere, and spend 15 minutes complaining about not being allowed to speak and another 5 making fun of the atheists for allegedly being logical when, if they were logical, they'd agree with him so they're obviously not.


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