“It’s All in Your Head.” Part II

There was an abundance of responses/comments to my post, “It’s All in Your Head.”  Wow.  Somehow that topic was linked to my post on consequences.  Anyway, I noted I could certainly be wrong as to the charge I was committing some fundamental error of logic or reason as to my responses to the question: “If we cannot prove or found a narrative empirically/scientifically, how can we know which narrative is true?”  I then submitted the partial answer that we can consider the consequences of a narrative as a sign, clue, or pointer toward the underlying truth of that narrative as it can be shown that it gave rise to those very consequences.  I didn’t say that such “proved” something beyond a shadow of a doubt or laid out some strict progression that one must accept by its inexorable logic.  Again, the whole point was to show how, if we cannot found a narrative empirically/scientifically…  If one doesn’t even accept that possibility, then they will still “hear” everything as trying to follow that course, which clearly, misses the point that such is exactly what I’m saying cannot be done (and of course reveals their hidden presuppositions).
I followed that up with two posts on “Truth” and noted that the “truth” of a narrative must include a conception of knowledge that is more than just information or “facts.”  I think a realistic, thick, and robust concept of what amounts to “knowledge” must include context and aspects of wisdom and meaning.  Further, those aspects must always trump or be considered more significant than the merely factual or informational.
Related to that post, Bernard kept asserting I was making an error of logic—one surrounding this issue:
“Your ‘evidence as hint ‘case does, as best I can tell, contain a logical flaw, in that it claims a hint towards one hypothesis without any reason why the alternative, live hypothesis (you accept it’s possible, this is all we need) is less well supported by the same evidence.”
Part of the problem is that Bernard has yet to tell us what the alternative hypothesis is.  Since he claims it too can explain, just as well, the positive-outcomes of the Judeo-Christian narrative, it’s sort of important we know what this alternative is, right?  Otherwise, how can this alternative even be evaluated?  By referencing what I accept as “possible” I’m assuming then the alternative Bernard was suggesting was the very thing I was noting in the post as a dead-end.  What I meant by “possible” is that it’s possible I am wrong.  It’s possible too that every reader of this blog is wrong.  So what?  Does that make everything any of us assert then as “evidence,” or as a hint pointing toward the truth, logically flawed?
Putting that aside, I do agree with Bernard if he is saying that logical, reasonable, people can interpret the evidence of existence and see it such that one could be led to lean toward belief in God but also to atheism or agnosticism.  But this is why I’ve been so clear to say that one cannot assert the evidence “proves” or must (has to) lead one to my conclusion (or the atheist’s).  This is why the evidentialist/correspondence theory goes nowhere.  At the scene of a crime, again, the evidence may point reasonably toward two different suspects or theories.  One is then not making a logical error to suggest that he is led to see “hints” “signs” or “clues” that might give more weight to his interpretation of the evidence over the other detective’s view.  One can disagree or say, “I just don’t see that,” but I still don’t understand how one can be accused of making an error of logic or reason to suggest so.  How does someone noting the mere “possibility” that a person’s theory may be wrong (attributable to other causes) indicate he or she (the one asserting the theory) is therefore committing a logical error?  That doesn’t make sense to me, but, maybe that’s just me.
In all this talk about my committing some error of logic or reason, I wonder if any readers have considered whether or not they may be committing a form of a genetic fallacy error in claiming that because the origins of the Judeo-Christian narrative might be purely cultural/psychological, the claims or results cannot be considered true or as giving more weight to one narrative over another.  See here.
Plus, have we considered that even William James noted the self-refuting nature of the charge:
“But now, I ask you, how can such an existential account of facts of mental history decide in one way or another upon their spiritual significance? According to the general postulate of psychology just referred to, there is not a single one of our states of mind, high or low, healthy or morbid, that has not some organic process as its condition. Scientific theories are organically conditioned just as much as religious emotions are; and if we only knew the facts intimately enough, we should doubtless see ‘the liver’ determining the dicta of the sturdy atheist as decisively as it does those of the Methodist under conviction anxious about his soul…They are equally organically founded, be they of religious or non-religious content.
To plead the organic causation of a religious state of mind, then in refutation of its claim to possess superior spiritual value, is quite illogical and arbitrary… [Emphasis added] Otherwise none of our thoughts and feelings, not even our scientific doctrines, not even our dis-beliefs [emphasis added], could retain any value as revelations of the truth, for every one of them without exception flows from the state of their possessor’s body at the time.”
We can certainly leave an “illogical and arbitrary” possibility on the table, but what does that tell us about those who reach for it or want it handy?  So for those who want that possibility kept open, you may wish to reflect a little more on why that is.  It certainly seems to contain the seeds of a view already convinced and one that is sure everyone else’s view is a result of “organic causation” except their own.  Again, this is why I noted its being “possible” but pointless and self-defeating to discuss.  All of our conceptions are organic, but that is not the point.  The point is do they refer to anything outside ourselves.  To then say, well, they are organic, is to say nothing—because so is the state-of-mind opposing this view.  One just came under his own critique.  Physician, heal thyself.
I readily admit that there are many people, both secular and religious, who have never been very reflective, have never asked deep questions, and believe what they do simply because they grew up in a certain culture/context or have a certain “bent” of mind.  They’ve never “owned” what they believe and probably couldn’t tell us why they believe what they do.  They “just” do.  It is just “obvious” to them.  So yes, it is always possible someone only believes something to be true because of their culture, education, geography, family, and religious background.  But this is possible for anyone, including the person who’s an atheist or agnostic.  Its possibility hardly defeats mine or anyone’s thesis about a narrative’s truthfulness or the linking of impact on a culture to truthfulness. 
By the same token, there are those who have been reflective, who have tried as best they can to separate out what they know was believed for purely cultural/context reasons, and have truly “owned” what they believe and can give well thought out reasons for those beliefs.  Most of us who have been to college or lived outside the areas we were raised are made to do this.  We are made to confront what are often nothing more than prejudices and taught (or we eventually learn) to own for ourselves what it is we truly believe.  We may be right, we may be wrong—or a complex mix of both.  But at least we own it.  And by “owning” I don’t mean we have it all down and are done learning.  The very opposite in fact.  I simply mean we know what and why we believe what we do, at this stage of our learning and maturing, and can humbly articulate those things to some communicable degree.
I think the people in this discussion have done that “owing.”  I think it fairly intolerant and privileging to treat anyone in this group or elsewhere as if they were a part of the first group mentioned (those who “just” believe because…they “just” do).  Unless they prove otherwise, I would like to extend to anyone that benefit of the doubt.  I would also appreciate it being extended to me. 

Regardless, and beyond this very basic respect issue, none of us should be committing the genetic fallacy of believing that the origin of a belief (whether theism, atheism, or empiricism) alonedetermines whether or not it is false—or whether or not we can say the evidence (consequences) of existence lends “weight” to one view over the other.
This entry was posted in Evolutionary Psychology, Genetic fallacy, Narrative. Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to “It’s All in Your Head.” Part II

  1. JP says:

    Hi Darrell,

    But it is what I'm talking about […].

    So, if I get you right, you are NOT in any way suggesting that the (alleged) beneficial consequences of the Christian narrative point to the factual truth of any belief that is part of the narrative.

    To be more specific, your are NOT suggesting that these consequences give any indication as to God's factual existence.

    Do I get you right?

    Like

  2. Hi Darrell

    I'm a big fan of digging into arguments and trying to see why disagreements are occurring, and very often they are due to logical flaws. In philosophy, which is very difficult, it would surprising if this wasn't the case. So long as we're open to finding the flaws in our own case, there's to my mind nothing disrespectful about the process. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    I say I don't understand your line of reasoning because I can't find it explicitly anywhere in your writing on this topic. You think the Christian narrative offers benefits to believers. You accept this can be made to fit both with narratives of God's existence and non-existence, and you think nevertheless that the evidence hints more towards existence.

    What is the reason you would give for preferring the existence hypothesis. You've said previously that this does not come down to dismissing the alternative as question begging, “I am not arguing that the evidence points toward God because the alternative is question-begging”, so I take it you have some other reason.

    Sorry if I've missed what this reason is. Here's your chance to clarify.

    Bernard

    Like

  3. RonH says:

    RonH? Anything?

    You're irrational, Darrell. Accept it. (That'll put you a step ahead of everyone else.)

    I have nothing new to add. Nietzsche, perspectivism, &c.

    The longer you persist, the more you demonstrate the truth of the worldview thesis to everyone except those you are hoping to convince. Delicious irony, is it not?

    How about some Chesterton:
    It is very hard for a man to defend anything of which he is entirely convinced. It is comparatively easy when he is only partially convinced. He is partially convinced because he has found this or that proof of the thing, and he can expound it. But a man is not really convinced of a philosophic theory when he finds that something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it. And the more converging reasons he finds pointing to this conviction, the more bewildered he is if asked suddenly to sum them up. Thus, if one asked an ordinary intelligent man, on the spur of the moment, “Why do you prefer civilization to savagery?” he would look wildly round at object after object, and would only be able to answer vaguely, “Why, there is that bookcase . . . and the coals in the coal-scuttle . . . and pianos . . . and policemen.” The whole case for civilization is that the case for it is complex. It has done so many things. But that very multiplicity of proof which ought to make reply overwhelming makes reply impossible.
    – Orthodoxy, chap. 6, “The Paradoxes of Christianity”

    Like

  4. JP says:

    Hi Ron,

    Good to read you.

    We are all at times rational and at times irrational. This is not the issue. Some beliefs may be held for no rational reasons – I suppose that would make them irrational – although I'd add that it's not easy to define what “rational” means. All said, I'd rather say away from these qualifications.

    What I would say is that it is often awfully hard to figure out what Darrell is actually claiming. Take the argument from consequences. For a while, I thought (and Bernard as well, I think) that he claimed his argument hinted at the factual truth of some religious claims but now it seems it's not the case at all, that consequences and factual truth are unrelated. Difficult to have a discussion when there is such uncertainty as to what we're actually discussing.

    Perhaps you can help.

    Like

  5. Burk Braun says:

    “He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it.”

    Indeed. And thus are crackpots born.

    But seriously, let me ask whether you believe that brainwashing is possible. Examples are of course too numerous to mention. If this is possible, how does one reverse it? What characterizes it? Isn't one important ingredient the pressure of a social community, as you have repeatedly urged as a key way to “understand” religion? Isn't one important ingredient that it suddenly makes sense of “everything”, as Ron and Chesterton cite above? Isn't an important ingredient the charismatic leader? Isn't an important ingredient the “system” of beliefs (whether scripturally written down, or from the tongue of the master) that touch on everything, like morality, reality, philosophy?

    Do you think this might possibly be relevant?

    Like

  6. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    I've written post after post clarifying and unpacking what I mean. I'm not going to try and sum all that up in a comment section. As I'm writing these posts, it is there and then you need to address the specifics. It's unfortunate that we could have been doing that all this time instead of chasing down phantom errors of logic.

    What is bothersome Bernard is the tendency of atheists/agnostics to view these disagreements as indications their conversation partners are illogical or impaired by their psychology, rather than reasonable disagreement among peers. I'm inclined to think that tendency indeed a sign of disrespect. And what makes it especially egregious is when it comes from those who are constantly on the look-out for any signs of intolerance or privileging from the other side.

    Like

  7. Hi Darrell

    Perhaps it's me, but I have been over your posts carefully and there's a crucial step I can not find, anywhere.

    How do you get from, the evidence supports both hypotheses, to the evidence hints towards one more than the other? Is there a reason why you interpret it thus, beyond the obvious fact that this is the conclusion you yearn for?

    If you can't explain that, then surely it casts some doubt upon the validity of your argument?

    Bernard

    Like

  8. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    What is the other hypothesis?

    Like

  9. Darrell says:

    Hi JP,

    I think my answers to the questions you pose regarding “factual truth” and “factual existence” would be contained in these posts:

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-horse-of-different-color.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/05/narratives-have-consequences.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/06/even-more-on-consequences.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/07/what-is-true.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-is-true-part-two.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/08/facts-and-truth.html

    Sorry to throw all these at you, but I can hardly address most of this in the comment section. Plus, I feel like I've addressed these issues over and over. Clearly not very well I guess.

    Like

  10. JP says:

    Hi Darrell,

    Let me try to schematize (at a very high level) your argument from consequences as I understand it. Then, you can either confirm that I got the main steps right or that one (or more) of them is incorrect.

    1. There is a way to define the Judeo-Christian narrative in such a way that we can consider its core has been roughly invariant through the ages.

    2. This narrative has had identifiable effects (consequences), still visible in the modern world.

    3. These consequences are, on the whole, beneficial.

    4. These beneficial consequences make the JC narrative more valuable, or important, than other narratives with less beneficial consequences.

    5. The success of the JC narrative is a strong indication that its tenets are factually true.

    Now, you know I have issues with each of these steps but never mind that for now. Also, no doubt you would formulate these differently but this is more or less as I understand what you're trying to do.

    What I'm not sure about is whether or not you advance step 5. If you do, Bernard has a legitimate point because I don't think you have produced any kind of argument showing how it logically follows from 4. If, on the other hand, you don't advance step 5, well – it would not be our first misunderstanding…

    Like

  11. Darrell says:

    Hi JP,

    I'm sorry but these are all the things we should have been discussing when the posts were written. Again, I've written what I've written. The best I can do is try to post something in the future that tries to deal with questions we've missed or weren't addressed already. Again, in a comment thread, there is not enough space.

    If you guys want to go back and address some specific quotes within those posts, you are welcome to do so and I will address them in the context of the posts.

    In the meantime, I plan to, as I already said I would, move on and finish up this series addressing ways we can evaluate narratives.

    Like

  12. Darrell says:

    JP,

    Briefly, I am not arguing what you suggest in (4) and (5). And, again, I think if one reads those several posts that will become evident.

    And (1) does not really put it the way I'm framing the issue either.

    Like

  13. Hi Darrell

    The other hypothesis is that God doesn't exist. Then again, if you're not arguing that the tenets are factually true, as per your response to JP above, perhaps you don't dispute the non-existence hypothesis at all. In which case I've totally misread you.

    Bernard

    Like

  14. JP says:

    Hi Darrell,

    Well… two out of five – could be worse!

    In any case… Yeah, I knew my (1) was inadequate but I couldn't find a satisfying formulation in a short sentence.

    About (5), you must realize by now it was understood you did in fact go there – that you didn't means that some issues we raised are moot for now. However, this also means the question of how to evaluate the factual accuracy of beliefs embedded in narratives remains entirely open.

    About (4), I don't know… Surely there is a step following 1-3 but I'm not sure what it is.

    Perhaps you could write down your own schematic view of the argument, in short (one sentence) points. Of course, I realize such a summary cannot do justice to an argument but I really believe such a “road-map” would be very useful.

    Like

  15. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    What do you mean have I considered it? Have you considered that God may exist? What? What do you think has been going on in this age-old debate? What does it have to do with these topics, my posts, or the conversation????? Did you think that the problem, just that no one had considered the alternative? That only if the atheist or agnostic would consider the God hypothesis, or visa-versa, but they hadn't?

    As to what is “factually” true (I'm saying nothing new), please see:

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-horse-of-different-color.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/07/what-is-true.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-is-true-part-two.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/08/facts-and-truth.html

    Like

  16. Darrell says:

    Hi JP,

    “About (5), you must realize by now it was understood you did in fact go there – that you didn't means that some issues we raised are moot for now. However, this also means the question of how to evaluate the factual accuracy of beliefs embedded in narratives remains entirely open.”

    One of the constants in this conversation is that most of my stuff is “read into” rather than trying to understand what I’m saying and, sort of, taking me at my word—even if at first it is hard to understand. We certainly see the truth that we perceive and “see” what we want to or rather that it is filtered through the narratives we each inhabit.

    And I’m certainly willing to take the blame as far as my poor attempts at articulating my point. I’m sure much of this is my fault. What I can tell you is that a cursory reading, wherein one just assumes he knows what I’m talking about is going to always lead to serious misunderstandings. It also means putting aside for a second one’s own prejudices and really trying to hear the other. We all need to do that including me.

    As to number 5, I think if one re-reads my first post on the subject, it might help, and in the comment section I make the point it is not an argument from pragmatism or a cost/benefit type argument.

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/05/narratives-have-consequences.html

    Like

  17. Hi Darrell

    It's not that you haven't considered the alternative, it's that you've given no reason why the evidence you propose is more supportive of your hypothesis, than it is of the alternative.

    And, without any such chain of logic, the statement that the evidence hints at one rather the other is statement of intuition, rather than one of reason.

    Given that this whole series appears to be an attempt to show how one can choose between narratives without simply picking the one you like best, surely you need to establish some logical method by which the choice is made.

    So, I await with interest the schematic view JP's asked for.

    Bernard

    Like

  18. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    I have given reasons. If we hadn't spent so much time talking about something else, perhaps we could have addressed them.

    The schematic is my posts, together. Like I said, if you want to go back and note something specific, that wasn't covered in the comment section, feel free.

    Like

  19. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    To follow up: This would be like me saying that in spite of your own posts on your own blog giving reasons for your agnosticism or in all your reasons given here or on Eric's blog, that you have yet to provide any reasons for your agnosticism. Or it would be like claiming the same regarding Burk, that he had yet to give any reasons for this atheism.

    What do you think all of us have been doing in these conversations? Maybe you don't like the reasons, or agree, or don't understand, or something–but to simply assert that I haven't given reasons is really pretty amazing.

    Like

  20. Hi Darrell

    It's a reason for a specific claim I'm after, that being the one where you say the good results of belief in God hint towards His existence. Nowhere, in any of your posts, have you explained how this evidence does indeed hint more towards existence, and less towards non-existence, beyond the rather obvious fact that it's just how it feels to you.

    But, it seems to me, you are trying to establish that choice of narrative is about something more than just goodness of personal fit. This being exactly the problem we doubters have with the believers' world view methodology.

    So, it's not a case of not reading your posts carefully. And I do believe you are sincerely attempting to build a reasonable case. But it very much looks like there's a crucial link missing, and this is what we're all, in our own ways, trying to point out. Clearly you don't have to address this, but it is what interests those of us who withhold belief. How exactly does the believer choose between competing narratives?

    Bernrd

    Like

  21. JP says:

    Hi Darrell,

    One of the constants in this conversation is that most of my stuff is “read into” rather than trying to understand what I’m saying […]

    Yes, I think you have a good point – although I would disagree about the last part. I do try very hard to understand what you want to say and, I must say, I often find this challenging.

    But I would agree with your larger point, that we always bring our background with us when we read a text and it too often gets in the way of understanding (this goes some way in explaining our very different readings of Pinker, for example). To be sure, this is not specifically a problem with your blog: this is always the case to some degree, and the more so the farther apart the backgrounds of the writer and the reader.

    Clearly we come from very different places and we have very different expectations and assumptions, This often makes it hard for me to figure out what you mean but I welcome the challenge. The same goes the other way around, of course, in the way you sometimes interpret comments.

    What to do then? One idea is to focus on very basic and simple ideas, trying to figure them out. Another trick, almost always valuable, is to restate the other's position in our own terms. This is what I did with my 5 point summary above and why I suggested you produce one yourself, a sort of high level roadmap.

    Like

  22. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “How exactly does the believer choose between competing narratives?”

    That is what I’ve been trying to answer. You did a whole series on your blog on why you were an agnostic. Imagine at the end I ask: “But why are you an agnostic?” That is sort of how I feel now. Here is the preamble in the very first post of the series:

    “One of the perennial questions on this blog when it is asserted that worldviews/narratives cannot be founded empirically/scientifically (which isn't however, to say that both those aspects don’t play a part) is, “Well, then how do we know which narrative is true?” Leaving aside the huge presupposition contained in the question (which is that we can only know what’s true empirically/scientifically—so aren't you really saying that every narrative could be true or conversely all false?), there are ways to evaluate differing narratives that don’t reduce to simply saying something like, “all the evidence and science are on the side of…”. Such a statement merely begs the question.

    One of the ways to reflect upon differing narratives is to ask these questions: What is this narrative’s cultural footprint?”

    And then I went on to write several posts unpacking all this and I have two more to complete the series. But notice I’ve been talking about ways to “reflect upon differing narratives.” I haven’t said this is an argument that “proves” the existence of God or “proves” a narrative is true in the sense clearly you and JP are looking for, which is a big part of the problem here. I make it very clear that we cannot found or prove a narrative empirically/scientifically, including a way at viewing the world (a narrative) that restricts what one can believe is true to the empirical only.

    Like

  23. Darrell says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Like

  24. JP says:

    Hi Darrell,

    […] “proves” a narrative is true in the sense clearly you and JP are looking for, which is a big part of the problem here.

    Well, not quite. I don't think I have written even once that I expected you to do anything of the kind. Neither has Bernard, as far as I can tell.

    Like

  25. JP says:

    Oops…

    I see that you have deleted your last comment. The above was in answer to it.

    Like

  26. Darrell says:

    Hi JP,

    Well, then whence these assertions:

    “…For instance, you want to say a narrative is “true” if its the “consequences” satisfy certain criteria. But this is using the notion of “truth” in a very peculiar way. Not related, in fact, to the idea that the constituting beliefs of a narrative are true in the sense that they agree with reality.”

    “But, for the sake of argument, let's assume you have done this. What, then, would you have established, apart from the fact that the narrative does lead to desirable consequences?

    The question is whether we can deduce from this anything on the truth of factual claims within the narrative.”

    “This is fine as far as it goes – the lesson of the tale may be more important (in some sense) than its factual truth. But this is not what I'm talking about.”

    And from Bernard: “The other hypothesis is that God doesn't exist. Then again, if you're not arguing that the tenets are factually true…”

    I could go on and on. There are questions and assertion like the above one after another with the same understanding behind each one.

    Like

  27. Hi Darrell

    perhaps we're just confused by your use of the word prove. Nobody is expecting for one moment that you're trying to prove existence. We realise you're not trying to do this.

    The agnostic question has always been, I think, how do those who chose to commit to a particular narrative, while accepting competing narratives are equally reasonable, and indeed consistent with the evidence.

    Some believers argue that their intuition is just better than that of the non-believer. Some argue they have access to extra evidence (perhaps God speaks directly to them) while others pursue a relativist path, claiming under various strands of pragmatism and idealism that what is true for them may not be true for others. In other words, for them, there is no such thing as an objective truth of the matter, and contradictory beliefs can both be equally true.

    All of these approaches I understand, even though I personally prefer not to embrace any of them. I'm less clear on where you sit. Do you hold, for example, that there is an objective truth of the matter, such that the claim God exists either does or does not correspond to reality? And, further, do you think that when you interpret the evidence as hinting one way, that it is equally reasonable to interpreting it hinting the other way as well?

    I think, even if you just answered those two questions, I'd be closer to understanding your approach.

    Bernard

    Like

  28. JP says:

    Hi Darrell,

    Perhaps it is as Bernard suggests, that we misunderstand what you mean by “prove”. For me, proving a proposition about reality means having established the proposition beyond reasonable doubt, so to speak. You have been very clear that you're trying nothing of the kind.

    In fact, the assertions you quote above don't mention “proof” in any way. How you can read from these quotes that I expect a proof, moreover established empirically/scientifically, is beyond me.

    Like

  29. Darrell says:

    Hi JP,

    “In fact, the assertions you quote above don't mention “proof” in any way. How you can read from these quotes that I expect a proof, moreover established empirically/scientifically, is beyond me.”

    Well, again, here is just one:

    “The question is whether we can deduce from this anything on the truth of factual claims within the narrative.”

    So does this mean you would accept the truth of a “factual claim” without empirical/scientific proof?

    If not, then it matters little the word “proof” doesn't appear, because it is so obviously implied. What else are you asking for?

    Like

  30. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    Again, all I can suggest is to read the posts. If there is something specific I've written somewhere, please note it and address it. I've addressed these questions, quite extensively at this point. Eric Rietan has addressed the areas of objectivity and correspondence to reality just as I have. You have commented and been a part of all those discussions. I just did a search of my blog and Eric’s on those topics and reviewed your comments. As to the “hinting” issue, we just went through all that. That’s what all these several recent posts have been about and the comments went back and forth. Other than what you've already responded with, as to my posts on this topic, do you have something new?

    Like I noted before, this would be like me responding to your posts on why you are an agnostic with the question: “But why are you an agnostic?” I try and address the specific things you write by quoting you and then responding.

    If you go back to my original post (http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/05/narratives-have-consequences.html) and go methodically through the comment section, you will see this was all addressed—if not literally or explicitly—then certainly implied or in general. In the further follow-up posts, it was narrowed down even further.

    Or do this: type the word “correspondence” or “objective” into the search feature on Eric Rietan’s blog and mine and I think you will see these areas have been addressed.

    Like

  31. JP says:

    Hi Darrell,

    In principle, an analysis of a narrative could simply make its factual claims plausible or likely or as likely as those of another narrative. Or again, the same analysis could show that assuming some of the tenets of the narrative would make some hitherto unexplained phenomenon predictable in some fashion. Or any of a large number of other conclusions, none of which is even close to being a proof.

    For an example in a completely different context: the immensely large number of stars and planets makes it at least plausible that the universe is teeming with life – but by itself it is no proof at all.

    Like

  32. Darrell says:

    Hi JP,

    “In principle, an analysis of a narrative could simply make its factual claims plausible or likely or as likely as those of another narrative.”

    That is, partly, all I've been attempting to do (although I was accused of committing an error of logic to even attempt it!). So what would you accept to “deduce from this [my thesis regarding cultural footprint] anything on the truth of factual claims…”

    What would suffice for you, to show the “truth” of the “factual” claims? Would you accept something other than empirical/scientific proof?

    Like

  33. Hi Darrell

    Just two yes/no questions. Two words is all, and it would clarify hugely what you are trying to say, and allow us to advance our understanding of your case.

    Do you hold that God exists means that in reality, there is a God to which this claim corresponds?

    When you say the evidence hints at God, do you mean this hint is logically stronger than the hint at no-God?

    Two words will suffice.

    Bernard

    Bernard

    Like

  34. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    “Do you hold that God exists means that in reality, there is a God to which this claim corresponds?”

    No, I mean God is a figment of my imagination—all in my head—you know. Yeah, I’ve never addressed that issue.

    “When you say the evidence hints at God, do you mean this hint is logically stronger than the hint at no-God?”

    No, I mean the evidence hints to nothing and I just like to make stuff up. And what would logic have to do with anything? Never addressed that one either.

    Seriously? Read the posts Bernard.

    Like

  35. Hi Darrell

    I just got confused when you said you weren't using a correspondence theory of truth, but as you apparently are, this is good, as it's common ground.

    And, at times you object to the idea that you are showing a logical link between evidence and conclusion, and suggest hint means something other than this. Hard to read accurately beneath the tone here, but appears you are now making an argument from logic that shows this is not just an interpretation, but that the evidence does indeed hint more strongly one way.

    Trouble is, I still don't know the form of the logical argument.

    Bernard

    Like

  36. Another thought

    As does JP, I see merit in trying to express another person's arguments in its simplest possible terms, and then see if we can at least reach agreement on what is being said. Otherwise, attempts to analyse the validity of an argument are too easily met with, 'nope, didn't mean that.'

    Here. then, is my best attempt to express what you're arguing. Tell me which bits I have wrong:

    1. There are observable benefits to be had from believing the Christian narrative.

    2. These benefits can be used as evidence for God's existence, because they hint more strongly towards God's existence than towards non-existence.

    3. This hint has the form of a logical relation, so that we can show, by some method, that they make existence more likely than non-existence.

    Do I have this right, and if so, what is the nature of the logical relation in 3. I can't see it.

    Bernard

    Like

  37. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “I just got confused when you said you weren't using a correspondence theory of truth, but as you apparently are, this is good, as it's common ground.”

    I’m not using a correspondence theory of truth. I've written about the frailty of that view many times. Unless you are using in some non-traditional sense and mean something else, I’m most certainly not using it. But again, I covered all this.

    See:
    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2012/04/another-reason-science-will-always.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2012/11/fundamentalism-both-sides-of-same.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2009/07/modern-postmodern.html

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2012/06/never-got-memo-part-ii.html

    From this very post:

    “Putting that aside, I do agree with Bernard if he is saying that logical, reasonable, people can interpret the evidence of existence and see it such that one could be led to lean toward belief in God but also to atheism or agnosticism. But this is why I've been so clear to say that one cannot assert the evidence “proves” or must(has to) lead one to my conclusion (or the atheist’s). This is why the evidentialist/correspondence theory goes nowhere.”

    Read the posts.

    Like

  38. Hi Darrell

    Trouble is, you chop and change. So. with regard to correspondence, I asked:

    Do you hold that God exists means that in reality, there is a God to which this claim corresponds?

    And your answer:

    No, I mean God is a figment of my imagination—all in my head—you know. Yeah, I’ve never addressed that issue.

    I took it to mean that your no was sarcastic, and you meant yes, you really do think that God's existence is a fact, that it refers to a corresponding reality (which is all correspondence theory of truth suggests).

    And, above you repeat that you do think the evidence is such that 'one could be led to lean toward belief in God, but also to atheism…'

    Yet, when I asked if you thought the evidence hints more strongly towards God's existence, you again hit the sarcasm button and offered:

    “No, I mean the evidence hints to nothing and I just like to make stuff up. And what would logic have to do with anything? Never addressed that one either.”

    This tendency to propose contradictory lines simultaneously leads to some confusion, which is why it would be excellent if you clarified which lines you are really defending.

    Bernard

    Like

Comments are closed.