Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Response to "A Concise Refutation of Materialist Atheism"

This is a response to the post "A Concise Refutation of Materialist Atheism"

What is the assumption here? One clearly must have data. What does the collection of data assume? It assumes a material existent. Science cannot work with anything that is not a material existent.

It is not strictly true to say that science cannot work with anything that is not a material existent. Science can and sometimes does work by implication. While the materially existent may not be directly observable, it is necessary to add that it must also have absolutely no impact on anything that is existent in order to be complete outside of the realm of science. Many theories in science are based on the effects of a thing rather than the direct observation of the thing itself. It must, of course, affect something that is existent and observable. A god, if there is one, could not take any action or have any effect on the universe after its initiation to be certain of not being detected.
You are making a huge assumption also that said god or gods are necessarily not materially existent.
You have not made clear what it means to be “not a material existent” thoughts and even concepts are slaves to material origins.

“There is no scientific evidence for the existence of God” are clearly offering an irrational argument.

This argument, even if false, is not irrational. It is a bit like saying that there is no visual (light) evidence for gravity; ignoring that this is not strictly true lets assume that there is no reason why there should be any light evidence for gravity, the statement is not irrational. It is at worst, irrelevant. The statement is either true or false. The either is, or there is not, scientific evidence for God. The conclusion of many people, though not all, is that there is not.

Science assumes material data. To apply its methods and argumentation to a deity question is to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what science is. or a misunderstanding of what a deity is?

Also, the problem of universals shows that there are indeed non-material existents. Most or all of math is a non-material existent. One cannot find math anywhere as a physical object.
While it might be tempting to view math as an existent, it is not accurate. Math does not exist outside of the perception of minds. Even these concept are emergent from the matter in a human brain. I take it that you are presuming that math is existent in the sense that even if there were no people; two planets and two planets would still make four planets.
This is not strictly true. Math is a system by which we humans conceptualise and compartmentalise the physical rules of the universe. If you have two apples and add two more apples you never suddenly have 3,000 apples. This is based on the physical rules of the universe. We give names to distinctions like 1 and 2 but they are just concepts in our minds.

One knows that the number two really exists, but where is it?

Only in minds. Nowhere else. The concept exits, that is all it is. The very idea of "number" is also only a concept, dependant on a mind which is in turn dependant on material.

Two tables before me and two chairs behind me both use the exact same existent “two.”
You cognate them as sharing a common distinction. If you had always been told that what everyone else calls “two” was called “four”, you would see four chairs and four tables. In the absense of a mind what sense does two or four make here or chair or table for that matter. In the absense of a mind there simple is; though the is doesn't know it :)

Thus, one cannot reasonably claim that there is no such thing as a non-material existent.
I think you can. That there are emergent effects which seem like non-physical existents is certainly true. You feel like you mind is separate from your brain. Thoughts seem like disembodied existents in themselves. They aren’t of course, they are as reliant on the operation of matter and physical forces as falling rocks are. The most that can be said is that the universe has a particular state (i.e. the laws of physics). It is tempting to suggest that these "laws" are non-material existents but they themselves don't make sense outside of material existence, they don't operate and are not even coherent without the presumption of the physical.

This opens us up to another realm where there are things that are real, and exist, apart from physical phenomena, such as mathematics and consciousness.
When a person dies, they no longer have consciousness as the required physical activity of which consciousness was an emergent property has ceased. Consciousness itself a physical phenomena.

Thus, the evidence based atheist who says there is no evidence for God, and therefore, he does not exist is using an invalid method for the debate. One cannot use any purely material based approach to the question of a non-material existent, such as God.
Again, you must justify the assertion that God is a non-material existent.

In many cases, this confidence turns into arrogance, which in turn explains some of the recklessness when a materialist glibly applies the method to non-material questions.

I also suspect that when a philosophically astute challenger points out these obvious errors of materialism, the materialist suddenly feels exposed and naked, since his previously unassailable method has been shown useless (for some questions) with arguments he has never thought about before. And, a scientist usually does not take very well to exposure that his previously reliable intellectual approach, (and often by implication his reputation of being “smart”) is shattered so easily. I think a lot of the materialist evasion after being challenged effectively is a turning away on their part to the truth shown in the argument coming from from a fear of looking directly at the issue, because an entire world-view will be shattered for them, in many cases.

This seems a rather arrogant conclusion and clear assumption that your argument as laid out here is completely unassailable. I don’t mean to be confrontational but you are using materialist in a condescending manner here and as a materialist I find it a tad provocative! That aside, it is an interest topic and look forward to your response. I need more convincing on the idea of non-material existants and you must establish that "God" is non-material.


BathTub said...

Hello Celtic Chimp, this is Nigel/BathTub from the Swamp (Ray's Blog).

You may have noticed the number of comments have declined recently there, a few of us have made a decision to slow down posting there for a while. Not necessarily stop, but since Ray validates himself with the number of responses he gets we've decided to step back a bit.

Thought you might like to join in, see how low we can get it.

See how far Ray will go to drive comments back up. Kick the Hornets Nest as he himself calls it when he blatantly trolls for comments.

If you wanted another outlet you could always join us over at wearesmrt.

Just a suggestion. :)

The Celtic Chimp said...

Is that what was once the raytractors. I was a member of that group once upon a time.

Ray's blog is exclusively an atheist baiting site now. For the toilet paper he calls books. I suppose I can stop picking that scab for a while. :)

BathTub said...

That's right, it's the old Raytractors.

And it's smrt like Homer Simpson.

"I am so smart, S-M-R-T"