Sunday, February 22, 2009

Open thread on today's show

I'm actually typing this with about 15 minutes left to go in the program. But we've already had the epic 48-minute sequel discussion with Matt Slick, and I'm sure people will have a lot of feedback.

Generally speaking, I think Slick really got his deer-in-the-headlights thing on when Matt D. pointed out the distinction — which Slick pointedly refused to recognize, whether he really didn't or was just pretending not to in order to defend his position — between logical absolutes as essential properties of reality, and the discipline of logic which we as thinking beings use to understand reality. In an uninhabited universe with no minds, a rock is still a rock and not a mushroom. Slick insisted this could not be the case, conflating the logical process by which we understand "A=A" with the physical object "A," the rock. Then, in order to take control of a discussion that was getting away from him, he got Matt D. bogged down by demanding that Matt D. define a "third option" beyond "physical" and "conceptual". I think Matt D. slipped up a little here, in that he let himself get flustered and angry at Slick's little Mexican Hat Dance around his salient criticism of TAG, as well as by Slick's aggressive subject-changing and obfuscation. I wish Matt D. had just asked, "So is God conceptual?"

On the whole, though, Matt D. mopped the floor with Slick, because Slick's only response to Matt's pointing out the contradiction in claiming absolutes to be both conceptual and not contingent on minds was to say, basically, "Nuh-uh." Slick's exercise in distracting and flustering Matt was quite intentional. Having done this for years, I recognize the argumentation tactic of "if you can't beat 'em, piss 'em off" that apologists employ as a matter of course.

But did you catch the part where Slick essentially admitted God could not be omnipotent, because God could not do anything to defy a logical absolute? Which Matt D. then pointed out proved that God had to be contingent upon logical absolutes and not the author of them? To which Slick again responded with "Nuh-uh"? Based on today's call, it seems clear to me that all Slick is doing with TAG is trying to find a way to call logic "God."

Great episode, though. Discuss amongst yourselves.


  1. Loved it! Although Slick is not quite... slick, is he? His tricks were pretty apparent.

    As I said to Matt in the Post-Show, according to Slick's TAG reasoning...

    1) Spider-Man either exists or does not exist.

    2) There is no airtight case for the non-existence of Spider-Man.

    3) Spider-Man therefore exists.

    QED, eh?


    PS - I still want to see a Moohammed/FSM battle.

  2. Yep, trying to define God into existence, just like the ontological argument and just as bad.

  3. Slick has posted a thread about the show on his forums too: here

  4. Wow slick really surprised me when he said that even god is subjected to the laws of logic. Admitting that made the argument sensless.

    I think Matt D was quite right when he didn't ask about the conceptuality of god - I think Slick was expecting the question. When Slick asked him to show some other thing that is not conceptual and not physical, Matt was also correct on pointing out that it depends on the definition of what is physical. For instance - time could be considered not physical and not conceptual. However, by some definitions time can be considered physical.

    Anyway, great show!

  5. I tend to see many possibilities, and therefore give the benefit of the doubt. Such as whether thinking Slick was intentionally annoying Matt D. I'm inclined to assume that he was convinced he was right and didn't understand or agree with the flaw(s) Matt D. pointed out.

    Though one thing that occurs to me. Even if Slick's premise is correct, that he can logically prove a god exists because logical absolutes don't depend on anything physical (if I understand it correctly), that still leaves us right back at the problem of defining what this god is, what he wants, whether anyone can communicate with him, whether he does anything, whether he deserves worshipping, whether he/it even knows or cares that we exist, and so on. I don't see how Slick's proof would mean much of anything to indicating Christianity or the Bible are anything but fiction.

  6. I think Matt did a wonderful job. He started off exactly where I hoped he would, with Slick's contradiction in claiming, to start off, that logical absolutes are not concepts, then to somehow do a switcheroo later on so that he can say logical absolutes ARE conceptual, and therefore need a conceptualizer, and since they're perfect they need a perfect conceptualizer, bam, teh God!

    I also think Matt rolled very well with the obfuscation Slick tried to introduce after this. Sure, maybe got a bit aggravated and ended up basically hanging up on the guy, but I don't think it could've ended any other way. Slick would have just kept on avoiding acknowledging the flaws Matt and the gang found in his argument and dancing back and forth between the whiny "That's not what I said!" and/or "Let me finish!" garbage. Best part is this will be up on YouTube for the world to see, at least I assume FFreeThinker will put it up.

  7. I'm still baffled as to what Matt's point is. So logic exists, after all, the rules to chess exist, so what? He spends the entire time arguing about logic but he never gets around to the existence of his deity.

    Not that I'm surprised, all fundies are like this. They can't provide evidence, they provide excuses. When they get boxed into a corner they whine, dodge, and try to change the subject. Somehow Matt Slick thinks that if Matt D. can't answer his questions then God exists.

    Matt Slick is a moron, his failure to find anything new to argue in these past 10 years makes that quite evident. He's no different than Ray Comfort, same inability to learn anything new.

  8. Sorry, when I was referring to Matt's point I was talking about Matt Slick. So difficult with so many Matts.

    But, you know, Slick believed in his god before he believed in TAG, why couldn't he just present the evidence he had before creating his TAG argument?

  9. Looks like Slick, based on that forum post, is latching onto a perceived "insult" from you after he got off the air. He's really hanging onto this "third option" idea to explain logical absolutes. Here's my favorite part:

    LA's are conceptual by nature, absolute, and transcendent. Therefore, it is logical to postulate an absolute, transcendent mind is behind them. After all, "concepts" reflect the mind.

    I can't get over this inherent contradiction between the idea that something is absolute, but still a concept dependent on a mind. If it's absolute that means it is unchangeable. If it is transcendent that means it transcends just about everything...including minds. Yet he claims that it is conceptual and dependent upon minds, which cancels out the idea of it being absolute, just so he can stick in language about an absolute author. What a bunch of garbage. Don't let this guy call back, he's unreachable it seems.

    Good news is there are quite a few atheists on those forums who seem to be giving him grief about it, very few friendly responses actually. I do like this guy because he does seem to possess at least some semblance of a genuine desire to discuss this with people, unlike the more "public speaker" type apologists who mostly just speak in front of softball crowds in order to reinforce the beliefs of their audience. Nevertheless, his strange refusal to recognize basic contradictions in what he's saying, IMHO, makes him unreachable for now. Call me a pessimist.

  10. Wow slick really surprised me when he said that even god is subjected to the laws of logic.

    Ah ha ha, I think this is an "I told you so" moment. :)

    (For previous reference, I was guessing that Slick's response to "Can God make A!=A?" would be "No, that can't change." I wrote: "You could argue that point on philosophical grounds, but that's NOT what Matt Slick says. He's saying that logical absolutes are independent of time, space, or human minds. They're immutable. I'm pretty sure that Matt Slick would not try to argue that they can change.")

  11. On the show, Matt Slick insisted that atheists only believe in two kinds of things:
    1. Physical
    2. Conceptual

    Of course this tactic always irks me, because telling the opposition what they believe always strikes me as pretty fruitless unless they actually agree. Otherwise it degenerates into "Do so!" "Do not!" -- much as it did on today's show.

    In any case, I think Slick's second category of "conceptual" is way too narrow for my taste. While it's true that I don't believe in only physical stuff, my second category would probably not be "conceptual" (by which, it sounds like Matt means "things which exist within minds") but PATTERNS. I think my pattern category would include conceptual things, but it would not be limited to them, since it would also include "logical absolutes" as Matt Slick terms them.

    But I also wonder, what's Matt Slick's own answer to "what other things exist besides physical and conceptual entities"? Presumably his idea of a god is one such entity -- after all, the god also transcends time and space, so it's not physical, but it also doesn't exist purely in meat minds.

    So... Matt feels free to make up his own category, which I presume contains nothing but God. If those are the rules of the game, then I say fine: I can make up my own categories too. I believe in physical entities, conceptual entities, and logical absolutes. This third thing is its own category. There you go.

  12. Why can you not just say the laws of logic are innate properties of our perceivable universe, without which, the universe could not function in the ways that we assume it does (because to assume otherwise would make us post-modernists or solipsists)? I'm sure there must be some good argument against that since it's such a simple statement but I have no idea what those arguments would be.

  13. It was certainly an interesting episode. I have to say I don't want to see Slick calling in again next week and taking another 48 minutes of the show. The debate really deteriorated toward the end where Matt and Matt went in circles. Slick wouldn't acknowledge when Matt D. made a point and just kept asserting the same thing over and over and acting like a smug ass with his remarks. I personally am done with the TAG argument. I doubt that there is more interesting ground to cover on it, and I'm almost positive that Slick has nothing new to share about it.

  14. Yeah, I've noticed that theists like to keep saying the same arguments over and over. I've run into the arguments the theist used here other times.

    The old "you have to borrow morals/ethics, etc from the christian worldview", "atheists can't account for logic" and whatnot.

  15. kazim:

    so how exactly should god be the source of the logical absolutes if he's just another bloke that must follow them (btw he made a terrible job at that in his book)?

  16. There is some amusing reads on the mentioned during the show. Slick's examples of arguing with atheists and such, he basically follows the same patterns. Trying to force atheists to prove atheism without bringing theism in to it, for instance.

    Of course, when conversing with a muslim, he used atheist arguments for there being no evidence to support the Quran. While being certain he had evidence for the bible being true. (Such as Jesus stating that he was the son of god and no reason to disbelieve him.)

    I have to say, after looking at his own site, Slick appears to be a complete joke. I guess he thinks he can get converts by arguing with people on his terms and with his duality 'logic'.

    It does seem unlikely that he could be convinced to try to actually explain his beliefs and make an interesting show.

  17. Regarding this strict division of "things" into the categories of "physical" and "conceptual" ...the division is not as clear as you might first think.

    (This might be a classic example presented in philosophy literature already long long ago, but I got into thinking and was toying with these thoughts and wanted to share them with you... Also, I might be repeating someone else commenting to an earlier blog post related to the TAG argument)

    Consider the following thought experiment:

    Take a "thing" that is abstract and thus I would assume would fall into the "conceptual" category and not the "physical" category. A thing like "democracy". Democracy is not a thing that can be sensed with our sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste, but is rather a notion that exists only in our mind.

    Now imagine that all the physical traces of the concept of democracy is eradicated from the universe, in a single instant. All written records of the word, its' uses and definitions disappear. Also, for each living human the individual molecules that make up the brain cells that store the memories and definitions of the concept of democracy are reset in such a way as if no human would ever have heard the word or learned its meaning.

    Now think about this: Does this thing, this democracy, that belonged to the "concept" class of things actually exist anymore after this removal? Even if we actually only removed the "physical" traces of democracy? In which category of things should democracy then be, since removing the "physical" democracy also removed the "conceptual" democracy? Aren't the categories then actually the same thing, everything is "physical"? :)

    So you see, what you call "conceptual" is not at all completely separate from "physical", since the "conceptual" is processed and stored in our physical brain.

    So to summarize the two categories, and to propose better category names:

    - "Ball" is a word, a label that is used in communications between humans to refer to a notion of certain objects of a specific form (sphere). The notion of a ball is "physical" in the sense that the existence of a ball and its properties can be detected with our senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste). Let's call notions like these "sensable" things.

    - "Democracy" is a word, a label that is used in communications between humans to refer to an notion of a certain form of government. The notion of democracy is "conceptual" in the sense that the existence of democracy and its properties can NOT be detected with our senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste). Instead, the existance and properties of the notion of democracy relies on a reasoning process within a brain. Let's call notions like these "unsensable" things.

    Notions of both types (sensable and unsensable) and their word labels along with the properties and definitions of the notions are stored and processed in our brain, which is a thing of the "physical" or "sensable" category. So existence of "conceptual" or "unsensable" things relies on the existence of the "physical" or "sensable" things. No brains -> no reasoning -> no unsensables.

    Now, if logical absolutes are put in the "unsensables" category, do they really exist in the situation where there are no brains to reason them into existence? If these particular unsensables (logical absolutes) exist despite the non-existence of brains, there then seem to exist at least two types of unsensables; those that depend on brains to exist and those who do not depend. Now how to determine which unsensables belong into which? :)

  18. Ok, well wow, four points on that discussion:

    1 - Even if we conceded every single point up to we agree some mind outside the universe has to exist for logical absolutes to exist - that says absolutely NOTHING about that being other than it can conceive the concept of logic. No creation, no super-powers, nothing. I'm quite sure a dog understands the premise of logic.

    2 - What is he saying would happen if we constructed the hypothetical situation that God created everything then died/killed himself/ceased to exist? Would if(a == a && a != a) suddenly return true?

    3 - Logic isn't a "thing" that can exist. It's a property of existence. So long as you accept existence exists, logic is implicit in that. Without logic absolutes of either/or, existence isn't a conceptual possibility.

    4 - I can't believe someone just tried to argue essentially, "a tree falls in the woods and noone's around to hear it" as a proof of God. Holy crap.

  19. Oh, I just noticed that Matt Slick does this same TAG argument using the absoluteness, abstractness and transcendence of logic in his opening statement in a debate with Edwin Kagin:

    "CARM Debate 2008: "Does God Exist" (Part 1)":

    (Sorry if it's been posted before, didn't see it.)

  20. Just listened to the audio and couldn't stop thinking about how great it would be to mash the track of the Matt v Matt call with the end of the movie "Scanners."

  21. OMG.

    Lets never do this again. It was just going round and round where he was like 'no, that's not what I meant', 'you're not letting me finish', 'I'm going to talk to you condescendingly and make weird noises when I think I've proved my point but pointedly ignore and refuse to acknowledge the points you've made'.

    By the way, Tracy, awesome dice model things. :D

  22. I just got through listening to this for the second time and I think I followed it a little better than the first, but not sure.

    What strikes me this time is it seems like the entire time Slick was actually arguing _against_ his own assertions about logical absolutes.

    After all, TAG states straightaway that logical absolutes are transcendent, which I take to mean outside the realm of reality or something, but certainly inaccessible to the mind for use in concepts. I can't see, therefore, how they could be the basis for concepts, since by definition they're not conceptual (this is what Matt D. kept saying I believe).

    But then for virtually the entire program, Slick strenuously and relentlessly battled to show the opposite - that the absolutes _were_ "conceptual by nature" and there were NOT transcendent by definition.

    Er, did I really hear this right?

    Matt D's contention throughout was that it's fallacious to say that the concept of the law of identity (A == A) implies that what the concept "points to" (perhaps I can notate this as [A==A]) is also conceptual.

    Er..... it seems Slick spent nearly an hour _supporting_ the components of Matt D's statement here.

    Again, did I hear this right?

    The problem seemed to be that Slick simply couldn't grasp that this state of affairs was fallacious. I presume that's because he didn't really know what "transcendent" actually meant....

    Wow, what a mind job... it's almost 3 am and I'm still gnawing on this one....

  23. Its funny it seemed very much to me like slick was tryign to argue if a tree falls in the woods with no one around it dosn't make a noise because no one is there to conceptualize it (in refernce to him danceing around matts statment that a rock that isnt defined by a mind is still a rock).
    another thing that stuck me funny was his assertion that matt couldnt argue what something wasnt without knowing what it exatly is, kinda like if someone hands you a locked box 3 inches tall, 3 inches wide, and 5 inches tall you can safely say that it dosent contain a entire living elephant because there is no way a elephant could fit into it, you would be justified to asert that as true without ever knowing the actuall contents of the box.

    (if any of my statements are wrong please feel free to correct me i understand my perception of the discution may be flawed due to my novice knowlege of the subject)

  24. "I don't see how Slick's proof would mean much of anything to indicating Christianity or the Bible are anything but fiction. (J-H B)"

    Indeed, esp since Christians themselves claim that their deity not only exists but is self-aware, purposeful, communicative and desires contact with humanity.

    So, put simply, apologetics should not be necessary. I should no more have to argue about the existence or nature of "God" to you than I would need to describe aging, feeling cold or hot, what it's like to be curious or impatient or any other REAL aspect of human existence and experience.

    That apologetics does exist, and that people such as Mr Slick have to play the games they do, is very revealing.

  25. There's another gaping flaw in TAG as it is presented on the CARM website.

    Premise 1.C, "the Law of The Excluded Middle" fails miserably when confronted with the Liar's Paradox. There are clearly statements in English that are neither true nor false, i.e. "This statement is false."

    To try to dodge this inconsistency, a series of asterisks in 1.C.ii attempts to specifically exclude this example, but at the cost of acknowledging that "Paradoxes occur only when we have absolutes." Of course, the rest of the argument then proceeds by relying on the application of these premises to, you guessed it, absolutes, including a theoretically infinite, omnipotent, perfectly consistent, paradox-free Gawd.

    In fact, the Liar's Paradox is an inherent problem for any formally defineable finite system of axioms -- Goedel's Theorem famously demonstrated that arithmetic can never be simultaneously both consistent and complete. More generally, Quine's Paradox extends it to any descriptive system that permits self-references. There's just no getting around this imperfection with a little bit of hand-waving.

    Juxtaposing this with 7.C reveals the tomfoolery clearly: "...the Logical Absolutes are transcendent, absolute, are perfectly consistent, and are independent of the universe, then they reflect a transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind."

    Logic FAIL.

  26. Excellent show. So excellent I blogged about it (address on profile).

    I too would like to thank Tracie for her demonstration. It was a great point to make.

    I agree with the sentiment that it may be better if we don't hear from Slick again. Until he can get to grips with the logical fallacies in his argument and stop with the circular arguments I think he is wasting our time. Get a real professional apologist on.

  27. (Just finished the podcast)

    This was a great show and I'll probably listen to it a couple of times because it was highly educational. I know people getting electrocuted in the shower makes for good television, but this was a battle not just a walkover - and it was good to see (hear).

    Matt Slick is a rhetorician, not a logician. And the key to that is to make it look like you are using logic, when you are not. This is why we continuously hear "this an X type fallacy" or "that is a Y error".

    You know it's rhetoric, however, because "I don't know" is not acceptable and not being able to give a third example means there is none (both appeals to ignorance).

    Personally I think the point that god cannot change that which he supposedly is the creator of seals it - in the way the I, as a non-omnipotent being, can. "God's nature" is such a cop out.

    Unfortunately, this needs to be hammered out in written form in order to avoid such devices - which does not please me as a listener.

    Also loved the way the Matt (D) demonstrated the power of good manners and a cool head when making arguments. I've listened to some of Matt Slick's radio shows, and the "guests" on there don't get uninterrupted access.

  28. The theologist won the argument, the seemingly never ending, non-sensical, and frustrating diaglogue tended to make one want to ignore the Atheist Experience for this Sunday. Learn to recognise when the same old arguments are appearing as the same old arguments in meta form and use that hang up button.

  29. @Angry Atheist
    Get a real professional apologist on.

    I think you will have a problem with that, because Slick is an example of the best apologist that is out there.

    Back when I was young and stupid (things are different now because I'm old) I was very impressed with 2 apologists, Josh McDowell and CS Lewis. I thought they had everything wrapped up and basically had God proven.

    Then I started to...well... look around for myself. I was at first struck with apologist whining that there is just as much evidence for Jesus as there is for Julius Caesar. I knew that was incorrect, because there was plenty of documentation outside of "Commentaries" which detailed what Caesar was doing in Gaul (Having said that, there is no guarantee that specific exploits were correct, such as the story about Voranius and Pullo, but the broad outline has been verified). Then I started wondering about the classic "problem of evil".

    More recently, I actually started looking at most of the standard apologist arguments and realized that they are ALL lame. That even if you grant some historical accuracy to the quotes of Jesus in the gospels (which I don't, but for argument's sake, I'll go the extra mile) the whole "Liar, Lunatic or Lord" argument falls apart when you take into account how many other people have claimed to be God. David Koresh, anyone? (But to look at it plausibly, a fourth L needs to be added, as Matt D has pointed out..."Legend". )

    If CS Lewis ends up looking pretty lame in the harsh glare of reality, I don't see how any of these jokers can do any better (Lewis was very smart and a good writer. He wasn't trying to argue the really dumb stuff, like biblical inerrancy. I can't say the same about the modern crop of apologists).

    So Slick hangs his hat on this "TAG" reasoning. IMH?O, it almost comes up to the argument quality of the 3 L's. Which means it's still lame. (Fifth L?)

    But, like every apologist argument, he has to talk in circles, deny reality, and lie about what he is really saying.

    I will thus argue, that Matt Slick is about as good as you are going to get, because it is very difficult to argue against reality and come out looking good.

  30. @Maddogdelta

    You are of course correct.

    I obviously didn't stress the sarcasm enough in my closing statement! Unfortunately I see no way to go back and edit in a sarcasm tag :(

  31. @AngryAtheist

    Sorry! I should have spotted the sarcasm anyway. (Only 2 cups of coffee so far.. off to get another..)

  32. I found this video to be rather insightful.

  33. I find this TAG argument to be disingenuous from the beginning.

    The whole purpose of words like transcendent, beyond space and time is to complicate things way more than they need to be. We already have good terms for things like logic, math,... It's abstraction, these are abstract ideas that do not exist in physical reality.

    By using words like transcendence and space and time what Matt Slick is trying to do is to infuse/breathe-in some sort of supernatural state/existence of logic (and all math) and then link god to it (in some way or another).

    If we just look at the A=A statement:

    how can anyone claim that this somehow transcends natural reality when we humans must first come up with the abstract idea of equality, the sign for equality and the symbol which we call "a".
    Not to mention the idea of variables.

    All of these are abstract, by our own definition and choosing and without these constructs we are not able to even think of a logical statement such as A=A.

    So I don't even see a reason to go beyond this point.

    And there are other aspects to this theme like for example animals which exhibit flawed logic or even none at all, which just gives credence to the idea that logic is an evolutionary product.

    Matt Slick might as well claim that our own thoughts 'transcend space and time' and therefore god exists. This reasoning is equally nonsensical.

  34. I got the same feeling another poster above mentioned, that this was quite similar to 'If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?' So if there is no mind to perceive an object, does that object still exist.

  35. And there's another way of looking at this:

    Let's assume that A=A is absolute and 'transcends space and time'.
    So let's get rid of space and time: there is no space, no time, no mass, no energy, no planets, no nothing. What good is this tautology then? It describes nothing, tells us nothing, for all practical purposes it is an empty set. It can only be absolute in its nothingness.

    It might as well not exist.

  36. It seems to me that logic is just our minds' way of telling us what makes sense, based on , not some external property of the Universe. I think Slick was confusing logic with the laws of physics, which do not require a mind to remain constant.

  37. That should read, "...based on past experience."

    I wish it were possible to edit these things..

  38. Slick has a section on his CARM site titled "Mistakes Christians Make When Dialoguing with Atheists". This is the last point in that post:

    "Pride is a harmful thing. It caused the fall. It ruins marriages. It leads to anger and self-righteousness. It has no place in the Christian's life. Never admitting you are wrong is being prideful. If an atheist, or anyone, proves you wrong is something, be kind and courteous. Admit you made a mistake and go on. Everyone makes mistakes, even atheists. There is nothing wrong with admitting an error. It no more proves you are wrong about Christianity than being wrong about the color of a boat means boats don't exist. But, if you never admit when you are wrong, you will not be able to convince anyone in a discussion of your position. You will simply lose the respect of the one with whom you are debating."

    I think he nees to re-read his advice.

  39. >It no more proves you are wrong about Christianity than being wrong about the color of a boat means boats don't exist.

    What is interesting to me about the above is that I have been in dialogues where the theist was wrong down the line. If I say I have a red boat, and you can demonstrate the boat is not red, Slick is right--that doesn't mean I don't have a boat.

    However, what if you demonstrate to me that I have no rudder, no sail, no hull, no water what point does it finally mean I do not have a boat?

    RE: TAG

    When I took some journalism courses, I recall this:

    A chair in a room is a fact.

    "A chair is in the room" is a statement of fact.

    The fact has no truth value. It simply "is."

    The statement of fact has truth value. If it correlates to the fact, it's what we consider "true"; if not, it's what we consider "false."

    From what I gather of TAG, "transcendent" means simply that whatever universe you're in or not in, whatever exists or doesn't is what it is.

    It doesn't challenge the fact that items that ARE in our universe adhere to being what they are and not being what they aren't.

    In other words:

    The chair is in the room. And it's demonstrably and observably not things that aren't the chair in the room. It's not a park bench or an ice cream cone. And even if all the minds everywhere disappeared. The situation for the chair would remain the same. The chair "being a chair" in the room simply "is". There is no truth value to a chair sitting in a room being (itself) and not being something else.

    A child demonstrates that we get this concept right out of nature. Even if it applies outside of our universe, _we_ derive it _from_ our universe as physical property. It is undeniably and observably the property of all existence we negotiate in our universe (again, even if it's also outside our universe).

    A child wants the balloon. The balloon flies away. The child pitches a fit. You give the child a lolipop, he throws it to the ground and points at the balloon sailing away and wails.

    The lollipop is not the balloon. The balloon is the balloon. The child's perceptions, derived through evolution, allow him to differentiate between different aspects of the universal existence around him. If his eyes and brain function normally, he can tell the balloon reflects a spectrum of light we call "red." The lollipop may also be red. But the balloon floats--the lollipop doesn't. The fundamental properties of these items (which in our universe manifest as material properties) allow us to differentiate between what _is_ the balloon and what is _not_ the balloon.

    We may never know what the balloon is outside our perception--but it's whatever it is unto itself--without any mind to conceive of it. And it is whatever it is to each of us, as an interaction between material reality and conceptualization.

    However, the point is that any three year old who wants his balloon back knows that a lollipop is not a balloon. He may not be able to recite the law of identity or any "absolute" logic. But he can tell you with lungs working full bore that that piece of crap lollipop I'm trying to pawn off on him is NOT the balloon.

    We observe these absolutes in nature, raw and as they "are." They are undeniable by anyone with a normally functioning brain who tries to negotiate existence in this universe (again, whether they also exist outside this universe or not--we derive the ideas from THIS universe). The chair in the room, being the chair in the room. Meaningless, asserting nothing, no value. But still, it "is."

    Then someone matures to a level of taking an obvious physical reality (which may extend to nonphysical realms as well), and says, "Hey, if things could be what they're not--we wouldn't be able to identifity one thing from another. It's like, stuff is whatever it is--and it's not what it's not; and that creates a unique identity for any X."

    Mundane realities aren't generally put out there as clear statements and models. That's why it sounds so foreign when people hear it put out this way. It's something you know but rarely have any need to express or consider.

    But modeling the physical reality. And then saying, "Hey, you know, you could even use this to apply to things that don't exist in this reality/universe. It seems like it would apply to anything, anywhere, anytime...?"

    OK, we have conceptualized model of an existence pulled right out of the natural manifesation of our universe (where material things and concepts have actual attributes that differentiate them from one another) and then recognized it (A=A and not "not A") could apply to leprechauns as well.

    And somehow...ergo god???

    Beyond that, human minds could not "come up with" something you can't escape in the material world around you? If a three year old mind must yeild to the fact that a chair isn't a pencil--how is it that I would presume any reasonably normal adult couldn't understand it. I haven't met the normally developing three year old who won't let you know right away that he knows what it is he wants, and if you attempt to give him what it's not--it's not going to fly.

    Seriously, any normal toddler anywhere on the planet can recognize this in the nature of the world around him, but a "human mind" could not have come up with it?

    That's a bit hard for me to swallow.

    Once again, nature does what it does, right before our very eyes, while god gets all the credit.

  40. I remember something Matt said last Non-Prophets about debating Ray Comfort...

    "I'll let you speak uninterrupted for a minute if you spend a minute acknowledging I point I've made."

    It would have been nice to have a similar caveat for Mr. Slick and frankly, I don't blame Matt for being a little tired after it. You're a trooper, Matt!

  41. DO shows like this again. And again. Please. I really like thinking about this stuff and hearing others thoughts as well. It helps me determine where my own thinking may not be quite up to snuff, and also lets me consider better ways to eventually explain them to my kids and also theists.

    tracih, wouldn't other animals also yeild to this. Don't dogs know there is a difference between their favorite treat and an umbrella?

  42. Andy wrote:

    "Premise 1.C, "the Law of The Excluded Middle" fails miserably when confronted with the Liar's Paradox. There are clearly statements in English that are neither true nor false, i.e. "This statement is false.""

    Ok, this has come up several times, so I want to address it.

    "This statement is false" does NOT contradict any of the 3 laws. The liars paradox demonstrates that it is possible to create a statement that is neither true nor false...but that's irrelevant to the logical absolutes.

    Those three laws don't say "every statement you could make must be either true or false" - they address the properties of something. If it's a truth statement, then true/false are the options...but that statement isn't a truth statement.

    "This statement is false" is neither true nor false. It is contradictory.

    Which means...the application of the three logical absolutes for that statement is:

    "this statement is false" is contradictory. It isn't NOT contradictory...and can't be both or neither.

    That's the way these "laws" work. They address properties. In the context you're using, 'truth' is a property of 'statement'. And the false assumption is that every statement is either true or false, when, as we can see, statements can be true, false or neither.

  43. On a side topic, the female caller who was calling from Florida after the Matt Slick conversation brought up the topic of fear and self-doubt following leaving theism. Specifically she asked, how long does it take, this nagging feeling in the back of your head. Personally, I have experienced something similar and I liken it to a form of obsessive compulsive behavior. It's getting out of a habit, and potentially not an easy thing.

    Some comforting things I considered during such thoughts were that if the theists claim their God is absolute love, then I can't conceive such a god would condemn me to hell for following another of god's supposed attributes, that being truth. Furthermore, if such a god would be willing to condemn me to hell, then I have no interest in worshiping such a thing.

    It's been about 7 years for me, do I still have doubts today? Occasionally I have feelings of doubt, which hopefully says I am trying to be open with myself. But even my doubts laugh at the notion of the loving but cruel Abrahamic god. I would be much more open to believing there is no god, but that god is not required for my self-awareness to continue after death, athough I doubt this as well.

  44. I've really enjoyed both episodes of TEA with Matt Slick and all the blogging on this topic. Finally, there's some real meat to grapple with! I can't understand why people might think it's not worth continuing. You can tell from all the ruminating being done offline that this is engaging everyone. Please, please, please, don't give up on this type of discussion!

    Okay, I disagree with Slick's argument but he's been the most cogent apologist I have *ever* heard on this show. Everyone should be begging him to come back and give another (hopefully different) argument. It's a pity he dropped his bundle eventually by not admitting to his own contradictory statements, but if you don't cut him a bit of slack (it is a tall order to argue that God is logically provable, after all!), you won't get such engaging discussions and we're back to the usual morons who claim that they rely on their faith alone. Why not just agree to disagree when he loses the plot and get onto his next line of argument?

  45. I'm so confused. When he said logic is necessarily conceptual, isn't he agreeing with Russel from the previous show?

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  47. Is this the beginning of a CARM/ACA network/war forming?

    Slick disappointed me. He was clearly proven wrong and decided to hide behind "You can't think of a third option so HA!" That we may not have a word to describe something that isn't conceptual or physical means NOTHING. Slick even sort of acknowledged it was a false dichotomy without even acknowledging it (when he corrected Matt D. "It's a false dichotomy not exclusion"). Yet he still kept asking until he was hung up on because he had nothing left.

    Logical absolutes are not conceptual. We use concepts to understand them. To have a concept, which describes something, there must be something to describe! Logical absolutes are properties of nature. They are the way reality behaves. If I HAD to choose between the two, I'd say LA's are physical. They are NOT conceptual.

    Notice Matt D talks nice and slow to make sure the listener is following so they can transparently see his logic. Slick spits out crib notes like Sarah Palin.

  48. Let see if I can sum this up in the fewest words possible.

    Slick brought his bread and butter to the table and the *best* he could do was argue to a excluding the middle logical fallacy.

    In my book that is a fail.

    I'm not sure what he was looking for when he said a third category. As has already been stated, physical and conceptual overlap quite a bit and logic is derived from our observations of the universe. I think most likely if we really needed a third category it would be something that is both physical and conceptual and/or neither.

  49. tracieh:
    children have a very skewed perception of what things are. for instance, if you take the baloon, tell the child that this is mr booper and speak a character voice with it and play a little charade then for the child the baloon will stop being a baloon and start being something else. Children often come up with these things themselves and seem to honestly believe the reality is what you make it/want it to be.

    One thing that is also common to children is that they think that things stop existing if you stop seeing them. This is one of the things that quantum mechanics brings into question. It is a broader implication of the QM principles. What happens to things when nobody observes them? To you it might seem a laughable thing but when Einstein famously asked the QM scientists 'Do you believe the moon is not there when nobody is looking at it?' they could not answer that question easily.

    Even today it is a matter of debate. The best answer imho is that an observer sees the universe as it is coherent to him/her/it. The parts that the observer doesnt see or does not have the capacity to see are incoherent. That is a general outline. When it comes to logic and logical absolutes I could argue that our minds are build in such a way that what we perceive from the reality is only the part where logical absolutes apply and we cannot even concieve a place without them. Yet that might just be the wiring of our brains rather than ojective truth.

  50. Just watched the google video. I've heard Slick talk before, notably this podcast interview with The Reasoning Show: where the same type of discussion is held, but goes quite a bit deeper into defintions of existence, logic and God. I recommend it, it's a more calm conversation, the time is taken to get to the heart of the subject.

  51. To all the hosts, thanks for the show(s). Whilst they may not have felt too productive at the time, I think there was some value and I enjoyed listening to them.

    My response to Matt Slick's asinine false dichotomy would be to ask whether the relationship of Pythagoras' theorem was true before the time of Pythagoras. If so is it physical or conceptual?

    I doubt he wants to say physical, since there's no Pythagorean relationship we can go and pick up, and he seems to define physical to only include things which vary in space/time, etc.

    The only thing left to say is that it's conceptual, but since no one had conceived it the only place he could say it exists is in the mind of God. This relegates God to being a sort of holding space for idea's that haven't occurred to anyone yet.

    TracyH, I love the balloon metaphor. I may have to steal that in the future.

    stenlisChildren often come up with these things themselves and seem to honestly believe the reality is what you make it/want it to be.

    One thing that is also common to children is that they think that things stop existing if you stop seeing them.

    I would agree that children are certainly more plastic in their neural habits, but I don't think they will completely accept anything they see.

    Regarding children believing things stop existing when you stop seeing them, I'm pretty sure that that's not true.

    I've seen somewhere experiments done where a newborn is shown some puppets or other objects which are waved around and placed behind a screen. The screen is then removed and the child allowed to see how many objects were behind it. What they discovered was that the child virtually does a double take if the numbers are off (e.g. if three puppets went behind a screen but then only two were there when the screen was removed). This would suggest that the child has some concept of discrete objects, as well as some basic arithmetic.

  52. This was a really great episode. It's nice hearing arguments with some actual content.

    I think I may have a different take on this whole thing... if I'm wrong in my line of thinking, please point it out. But it seems to me that part of the problem with this argument is that the only kind of universe where conceptualizing can occur is one where logic and logical absolutes already exist.

    Think of it this way: A universe that had no logical absolutes would have no natural laws. Math, physics, nothing would work. Such a universe, if it could be born, would almost certainly immediately destroy itself.

    This means that logical absolutes could never be used as evidence for the existence of God. How could they? What's the alternative? A universe with no logical absolutes, and thus no stability, no natural laws, and no thinking beings that could conceptualize anything?

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  54. Gav:
    Regarding children believing things stop existing when you stop seeing them, I'm pretty sure that that's not true.

    I've seen somewhere experiments done where a newborn is shown some puppets or other objects which are waved around and placed behind a screen.

    You are probably right. That was not a good example. What I was thinking about was that children think they are invisible when they close their eyes but that's not the same... My mistake.

  55. Strongrnow:

    Yes, and animal can observe these rules as well. I see no reason why they couldn't. It's a wall of reality that there is no getting around.

  56. Matt D. did a great job; my take on the discussion is posted here at my blog.

    The only thing I wish Matt D. had been able to add at the end is that he had given a third alternative between conceptual and physical -- abstractions. For example, "five" exists as a concept in my mind when I picture five puppies. But even in a universe without any minds, "five" would still exist as an abstraction. If one pebble rolls down a hill and comes to rest on a pile of four pebbles in a universe without a mind, there are nevertheless five pebbles -- not an indeterminate amount of pebbles.

    I think Matt D. made this ~99% clear during the show. I also think he displayed remarkable patience in the face of Slick's repeated rude laughs, interjections and other condescending background noises. Great job.

    (NOTE: Reposted to correct html error. Sorry.)

  57. >children have a very skewed perception of what things are.

    It is irrelevant. The point I was making is that human minds can differentiate between things in physical reality because they have different attributes. It’s not just children who are subject to the reality that our perceptions are all we have to work on, it’s everything that can perceive.

    Just because my concept of a mug isn’t the mug, but my concept of the mug, doesn’t negate I can see other things that are not mugs. My point is that even a child is capable of perceiving differences between physically existing items—not that a child’s perception (or anyone’s) perfectly aligns with what things actually are.

  58. Honestly, Matt, I can understand why you felt inclined to get snippy with Slick on his first appearance. Like so many apologists, he started off smarmy and arrogant, telling you from the get-go that his argument was so awesome, airtight, and irrefutable that he "stumped" atheist so-and-so at a debate. OH NOES!! Then, of course, he had to tell you guys that he knows how atheists think and what they're going to say, 'cause we're so darned stupid and predictable and he's so darned smart.

    And then the whining started.

    Why he thinks that his TAG nonsense would in any way convince an atheist that his deity exists is beyond my ken. How sad that his god, who, according to his holy book, used to speak out loud to large groups of people, perform miracles on a grand scale, and physically manifest itself is now demoted to a touchy-feelie (or non-touchy-feelie, as the case may be)hands-off kind of guy/gal/whatever. What's the point or purpose in believing in something so impotent?

    Just my two bits.

  59. The weirdest part is how Slick kept arguing against himself. He would say that these logical absolutes are transcendent and not dependent on a mind. A tree falling in the forest creates vibrations that we would call sound, whether or not anyone is there to perceive them. And a rock on a distant planet is a rock and not a mushroom whether anyone ever exists to observe or acknowledge its rock-ness. On this point the Matts both agreed.

    But then Slick turned around and said that the logical absolutes are only true in the sense that we can conceive of them, which makes them not transcendent, but contingent on their apprehension by a mind.

    I think that's the point our Matt was trying to express, but he couched it in rhetorical jargon instead of everyday language, making it all too easy for the aptly named Mr. Slick to slyly adjust the meaning he applied to said jargon from one response to the next.

    I did like Matt D.'s response to another part of the argument, which was, paraphrased: "If that which exists can only be either physical or a concept that exists only in our minds, which one is God?" Unfortunately he let Slick dance away from that and it never came back around.

    I also think he should have stuck with his third category as being "abstracts."

    Great show, guys. And much respect, Matt D. I would have hung up a long time before you did.

  60. I have never enjoyed an episode of the AE more. This is the kind of subject matter I love. I know some people didn't care for it, but I would love it if Matt D. and the rest crushed an apolegist every other month or so. 1 thing that made it even better was having the written critique of the argument to follow along with. Random callers and topics are fun, but this kind of depth of subject matter and serious opponent made this episode legend.

  61. tracie:
    Honestly I just probably have an intrinsic aversion against claims about 'absolutes'. My notion of what things are and what things are not has changed throughout my whole life and thinking about the existence of these meta-logical absolutes just makes my head hurt.

    OK, there seems to be nothing to which the logical absolutes wouldn't apply at some level. Does it mean that they somehow *exist* or does it mean that our brain is *wired* in such a way that it cannot grasp anything outside this meta-logical context?

  62. I'm a little late to the party here, but I've got a point I reckon no-one else has made.

    Slick's argument rests entirely on his assertion that everything must either be a) physical or b) dependent on minds to exist.

    Then he pulls out a counterexample to his own assertion - logic - and claims God is the only explanation.

    We've all seen this argument before in different clothes. It's basically the same as this:
    1) All codes are created by minds
    2) DNA is a code
    3) Therefore, DNA was created by a mind.

    We're challenged to falsify it by coming up with a code that was NOT created by a mind. The obvious answer is 'Duh, DNA itself'. While I can understand that this reply seems like a cop-out to creationists, that because their first point rests on a false assumption.

    In the same way, the problem with Slick's argument is in it's first assertion - that everything non-physical must be conceptual. So when he pulls out his counterexample, he's basically disproving his own assertion, not proving God.

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  64. As Matt D very well pointed out, and despite Slick refusing to address this on his youtube channel when challenged, TAG is flawed because Slick presented it as "proof of God's existence".

    An argument that proves something must have necessary prerequisites. One prerequisite is that every foundational premise upon which the argument's conclusion is based must have been already proven.

    If even one premise is not proven, then by default it remains an "assumption". Therefore, as by definition an assumption might be wrong - any argument based upon assumptions cannot be offered as proof.

    I keep on trying to get Matt Slick to comment on this on his youtube video (carmvideos) on the TAG argument, but he keeps on dodging it instead asking me to prove that there is a 3rd option.

    Of course, I keep on reminding him that as *he* is the one who is presenting supposed "proof of God's existence" with his TAG argument, and thus the onus is on him to fulfill the necessary prerequisites for an argument of proof (as described above).

    All that we have to do is just point out that his TAG argument is based on premises that might be wrong (as they haven't been proven), thereby negating his claim of "proof" as he is dependant on a lot of "if...." clauses.

    His TAG argument, thus, fails as proof.

  65. The video link posted above by Benedikt does a great job of distilling this dispute.

    Slick tells me I can't account for X, but he can account for X by saying god did it.

    (X = laws of logic, uniformity of nature, morality, whatever.)

    But can he "account" for god?

    TAG is nothing more than a god-of-the-gaps argument disguised with philosophical jargon.

  66. Someone mentioned the debate Slick had with Edwin Kagin. He got to ramble a lot about his theory there without interruption. I actually watched the whole thing.

    Seems like Slick is very enamored of logic and his 'proof'. But it does seem clear he's based on some assumptions that, while he spells them out, I don't think are something that could be universally agreed upon like he seems to believe.
    Such as logical absolutes being conceptual, requiring a mind to exist, and human minds not being perfect enough.

    I think Kagin wasn't clear enough in pointing out that he just didn't buy the premise that the logic is based on. Though he did point out that the same proof can also 'prove' the invisible unicorns at Camp Quest.

    I guess I just can't take the 'proof' too seriously because it does seem like just a concocted 'proof'. As someone else (or several others perhaps) already said, first you have to agree on all his other premises.
    Even if you do, the proof doesn't actually say anything about what this 'god' is. Though on his CARM site Slick seems to toss in all kinds of extra definitions starting with the idea that he believes what the bible says because it says it's true and he thinks there's lots of historical and archaological evidence to back it up. (While happy to argue that there's no evidence for the Quran being true the same way the bible is...)

    I understand the desire to have some in-depth conversations with the theists.
    I'm just not sure it means much with Slick when he's focused so much on this 'proof' that seems to boil down to meaning nothing.
    Maybe if you got him started on another topic. He very much wants to focus on his pet proof and not deviate. On his own site there was a physicist who pointed out that in quantum physics that one of his dependent laws breaks down. Slick didn't want to bring quantum theory in to the argument, just stick with the logic. (Especially if the theory invalidated his perfect absolutes, presumably.)

    So, again, if you could maybe get Slick to actually discuss what he thinks about god or why he thinks the bible is true you could get further.

  67. before the show i was not sure if transcendence existed.
    for example i was not sure if anything existed outside the universe, however matt d made some great points. there are things by witch existence work. like transcending laws of logic. anything is what it is and not what is not so the universe is what it its even ok... idont know how to continue all this because i am thinking ahead and im not sure if ill make sence. the reason being that i know reall little about the topic. so i was wondering if matt had made any lecture on this or if anyone recomends something to read on the topic?


  68. Wow. Lots to read when I have more time. I did hear Slick's argument (if you can really call it that) while driving home tonight, and boy...what a weasel. I like the old Buddhist saying "The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon."

    I think a problem was that Slick was constantly switching into two different ways of looking at things, but if I understand it, he seems to be arguing semantics. A rock can not be both a rock and a non-rock, but if we are not present to call it a rock, then it can be anything. It's a bit like the old "if a tree falls in the forest" kind of argument. If there is no one to look at the "rock", then it just is. I was going to say that a leopard does not see a tree as a tree, it just sees it, but then who knows what really goes on inside the mind of a leopard. Typing this, it actually sounds very Buddhist (or Zen at least) where you are supposed to be able to look at things as themselves without the extra layer of our words, definitions, expectations, etc.

    Of course, Matt was entirely correct in saying that even if no one was there, it would still not change the "essence" of the object. Hmm - going back to my leopard idea, maybe we could do a test - put Slick in the cage with a hungry leopard and a block of concrete, and see if the leopard eats both. If it does, then we know that Slick and the concrete are both the same, thus violating the logical absolutes. If it only eats one, then we know that Slick =/= concrete even when there is no sentient minds to make a decision. Of course, perhaps you do not need a conscious mind to make those concepts anyway.

    I'll definitely flag this post to come back and read this weekend. Interesting, if facepalming, discussion.

  69. I think that Matt D made a mistake when he acknowledged that the laws of logic are transcendent.

    The laws of logic are abstractions, but just because we have an incomplete physical account for abstractions is not a positive argument for a transcendent account.

    I think it is enough to say that the law of non-contradiction is inter-subjectively self-evident. Adding the meaningless modifier "transcendent" is unnecessary.

  70. Perception vs. Concept

    Are these the same in this context? It makes more sense to me to use the word perception. We can say that the logical absolutes exist independent of minds, but the perception of them, the concepts of them, require minds. The three fundamental laws of logic have some kind of universal existence, but the concepts, the perceptions of them, depend on minds. Would that be equivalent? Because if it is, I think the conversation would be easier to follow if Matt kept referring to the concept as the perception.

    And wouldn't Slick's same argument hold for the idea that 1+1=2?

    1+1=2 therefore God exists, because it's not physical, therefore it's a concept, and concepts are dependent on minds. Isn't that pretty much what Slick's argument distills down to?

  71. The three fundamental laws of logic have some kind of universal existence

    That is because they are descriptive for what existence is. Their semantic interpretation is "existence" itself.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but "logical absolutes" is not defined in logic or philosophy. The term is misleading.

    In the context that Slick is referring to them, they are neither (a) absolutes that are logical nor do they refer to (b) logic that is absolute.

    (a) They are assumed to be absolute for this universe, but no one can of course proof that... let alone that they are absolute for the Universe*.

    Everything you can imagine will have the properties of what we consider existence, because non-existence is not imaginable for us. I disagree with an example that Tracie (I think) brought up to show that they weren't absolute (although I agree that it has yet to be shown that they are absolute) about a universe with everything being in constant motion. Even there, "everything that is in constant motion" would still be "everything that is in constant motion" and not something else.

    Existence and universe may well be synonymous in that sense. Those properties (= semantic interpretation of the "logical absolutes") are "universal" (I would say by definition), but not absolute.

    The concept of "existing" cannot describe the "non-tangible" since it cannot be separated from the "non-existing". In that sense, god doesn't exist.

    That is why Slick is trying to first remove the connection between "existence" and "representation of existence in logic". It enables him to expand the scope of the concept of logic so that it includes his God only to then pretend that it is still an accurate representation for existence so that he can claim "God exists". That is of course wrong. He needs to expand the concept of existence as well which would render it absolutely meaningless.

    (b) They are not logic. Logic is informed by them, not the other way round. That is a very important distinction!

    The basic principles within logic that relate to them, the actual laws, are absolute within the concept of logic by definition, however that does not make them proscriptive for the universe; it does not make them the properties of the universe.

    Slick is using the term "logical absolutes" as a rhetoric means to enable him to equivocate. Just replace every occurrence of "logical absolutes" (and only that) with "basic properties of existence", "foundational properties of this universe" or something similar.

    Oh well, this was longer than intended. Sorry for that and I think I may have repeated myself a couple times. Hard to formulate such abstract and philosophical thoughts in a foreign language.

    * I use capital "Universe" to refer to the entirety of everything that is and could be - which may go beyond the scope of existence, thus what we can perceive - (whatever that may mean) and "universe" for that part of the Universe that we live in. Both may or may not be the same.

  72. Curt, that's what it boils down to. Shame he and Matt D didn't just agree to debate that - it would have avoided all the 'A = A, A does not + not A' talk, which didn't need to be discussed at all in order to refute Slick's point.

    Perhaps he deliberately chose logic rather than, say, Maths, in order to create a bigger smoke screen.

    They could have had the same consersation saying 'even if there were no humans in the universe, 1 + 1 would still equal 2, even though '2' could be called a concept'.

  73. Matt's debate with Slick was fantastic; however, I have to admit that this is very deep stuff that goes beyond the Philosophy 101 and Elementary Symbolic Logic classes I took in college.

    Beyond that, I found Slick (what an apropos surname, BTW) to be excessively smug and disgustingly condescending. One second he'd be flattering Matt's intelligence and insults it the next. (e.g. "I don't see how an intelligent guy like you can be an atheist.") Then there were those annoying hooting whenever he thought he made some point against Matt. That cowboy crap may woo the Christian knuckle-draggers in Boise, but it made me want to smash my iPod against the nearest wall.

    Anyway, great show as usual guys.

  74. Might be just me but for some reason I can't even get myself to agree with the basic premise that logical absolutes aren't entirely concepts.

    They are useful conceptial abstractions that control and define thought process leading to rational structured arguments.

    I'd even go so far as to say obversations of reality as we precieve it are in agreement with those concepts.

    But when I say a rock is a rock and would still be a rock even if I wasn't around I fail to see how this reveals the conceptual absolutes as real non conceptual absolutes.

    All I see is we observe a physical manifest item, a rock, with physical properties determined by it's atomic stucture and molecular arangements and note that in our universe based on the physics we understand indeed the atoms make it a rock and not a rock and a bannanna at the same time.

    I fail to see how that makes the conception an external reality.

    The external reailty is based on the properties of the existant material (the rock).

    It may be true its a rock and not not a rock without people but that has more to do with physics than logical concepts.

  75. Kevin,

    I think what is meant by non-conceptual is that perception does not matter as to the actual existence of the rock in objective reality.

    For example, the light we see from stars billions of lightyears away.

    Before the earth was formed, the light was travelling towards our eventual location for our opportune moment to see it; then we perceive it, a star is there.

    However, our perception of the star has not got anything to do with the actual existence property of the star. It might have already ceased to be a star, but our perception of it being a star still persists. This is a concept of the existence of a star. The actual existence of the star does not depend on our perception of it.

    Secondly. If earth was not in the trajectory of the star's rays, the fact remains that the star exists. Whether or not earth was in particularly good location for receiving the rays from it, also has not got anything to do with the actual existence of the star.

    The phrase "logical absolutes" is kind of a misnomer, and Slick was just playing off of it. It really is just the existence property of an objective reality. What they really should be called is "existence" or a fancier version of the word "is".

  76. I think this argument leads directly to a "fool's mate".

    If logical absolutes are contingent on minds then they are not absolute.

    If logical absolutes are not contingent on minds then god is unnecessary.

    Tertium non datur, right?


  77. Matt Slick has censored all the comments on his TAG youtube video.

    He was unable to answer my (and other's) comments and questions and so he's resorted to censoring the comments instead.


  78. Couldn't "emergent" be another possible category that is neither physical nor conceptual? E.g. intelligence/the mind as an emergent property of the brain without the need for a soul or other "ghost in the machine".

  79. To add to my experience with Slick - I have been put on probation and many of my posts have been deleted. While I was occasionally confrontational, the posts that were deleted were not all rude - unless Christians find ANY point that contradicts their belief rude!

    I find that they are playing little Dutch boys over there. They have their fingers in the dike but the water has breached and it is flooding.

    There are no apologetics being done on that site. They are just a small group of presuppers who occasionally quote other Presuppers to make an argument.

    It's tempting to call Christ-inanity dead, but it keeps morphing into different religions. Hell, even on the CARM site the most popular topic is Armenianism. Next is Atheism, then Evolution, then Catholicism.

    They attack themselves as much as Atheists. A good estimate is that only about 20% of them actually follow and believe the creeds and doctrine of a mainstream religion - the rest make it up as they go along.

    We are the US Dream Team playing Pogo Pogo in Olympic basketball... no Special Olympics...

  80. I remember listening to this nearly two years ago. I've gone back to review it... listening to it right now on GoogleVideo. I don't understand why Matt Slick is having such a hard time grasping the difference between an object or essence on the one hand, and the concept of it on the other that's only a mental abstraction that enables us to think about and discuss objects and essential entities. I thought Matt D.'s example of the apple (object vs. concept) was a good analogy, and I think for Matt S. to dismiss it had to be disingenuous, and done only so that he could continue to argue against the point.

  81. I think when Matt D. was trying to divorce logical truths from conceptualization, he might have used Matt S.'s own example of the impossibility of a square circle and ask in a universe with no minds (and thus, no concepts), is a square circle still impossible? In agreeing that it is, he would have to agree that truth is absolute and non-conceptual since its validity is not contingent on either a mind or an observer. It's a property of truth (about circles) independent of conceptualization.

  82. Listening to the show prior, with Don and Russell, it's clear to me that Matt Slick's placing way too much emphasis on measurable properties as being the only attributes of the physicality of the universe. He doesn't seem able to grasp, or for some reasons dismisses, the idea that, say, mathematics can be a physical aspect of the universe; that we only call it "math" and express it symbolically only because it's a limitation of the way human minds interact with reality.


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