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Everything posted by Jacob86

  1. I meant that what is true determines what is good. Knowledge is good. Knowing fundamental facts about reality is good. Ignorance of fundamental facts about reality leads to error and devastation eventually.
  2. I do not know of ANY Theistic Philosopher who argued that "existence" as such requires a cause. I certainly have not. I do not know of any Theist who has argued that God was non-existent and created existence. I do not know of any sophisticated Theologian who ever claimed that "everything" requires a cause. I haven't read much of Aristotle first hand, but I would venture to guess that he didn't posit the ridiculous positions that are set up as strawmen among Objectivists. I know that Aquinas did not posit such ridiculous positions. And I know that I have not posited such ridiculous positions. Branden's argument there (and the major Objectivist responses in this forum) are perfect in response to anyone who would like to posit that God is a non-existent being who caused existence as such based on the fact that existence as such and everything requires a causes. Unfortunately, that position has NOT been presented here, or by any major Theistic philosopher in history. So I have NO clue who Objectivists are arguing against on that issue. I will not answer this objection again until the objector can accurately repeat back to me MY position: that every action requires a cause and that a volitional actor is required to begin the chain of causation - NOT TO BEGIN EXISTENCE, but action/causation. If you do not care to accurately understand my position, then don't bother responding to it.
  3. Yes, I apologize for the confusion. An explanation is in order. When I first came to the forum, I had quite a few doubts about Theism. Most of it was simply the fact that Rand was so brilliant and it seemed reasonable to me that such a brilliant mind could not have possibly gotten such an important issue wrong. So, what I said in the beginning of that thread was genuine: I really was sort of "undecided" in the sense that I wanted to hear the best arguments against the existence of God (against the arguments which I had learned/read) in order to better understand the issue. At first, I was heavily intimidated by everyone in the forum, but quickly realized that they were mis-reading the arguments which were being submitted (although much of that was likely my fault because I was not as clear as I could have been). After finally becoming more familiar with the Objectivist reasoning and most importantly with the functional Objectivist epistemology, I saw the flaw(s) which allowed Rand and many other-wise brilliant Objectivist thinkers to get the Theism issue wrong-- and subsequently was very much affirmed in my Theism. I also have come to realize that it seems that very few Objectivist have applied their sharp minds fairly to the writings of Aquinas (and others) concerning Theism. It seems that had Aquinas been talking about egoism or capitalism, Objectivists would be capable of following his thought to a T, but because he is talking about Theism, his writings are automatically tarred & feathered with ridiculous straw men arguments and then quickly dismissed. Now, why am I one here attempting to convince Objectivists that Theism is true? 1) Because what is true is good and right. I want Objectivists to know the truth concerning Theism because knowing, integrating, and applying the truth (especially regarding fundamental issues) is always good and right important. 2) Because Objectivists are passionate about a few very good fundemental principles which coincide with a Theistic worldview, such as: a)commitment to reason b)necessity and superiority of philosophy over all other thought c)egoism as the fundamental virtue I have to say, personally, that it was mostly the third (egoism and all the implications of it) which has attracted me most to Rand and Objectivists in general. That is because I am convinced that God is the ultimate egoist - in contrast to most unthinking Theists who believe that He is the ultimate altruist. 3) Because I enjoy the intellectual and spiritual stimulation of a healthy discussion with passionate, sharp, thinkers. I'm sure I could list many other reasons, but I assure you that none of them are fear or duty based as though I am afraid I will be punished if I do not. haha.
  4. From the little bit that I have looked into Christian Evidential Apologetics, I think the point of the second, fourth, and fifth points are to emphasize that if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then these people all did these things with full knowledge that he had not risen. It's a little bit different from other examples of "zealots" doing radical things because they've drummed up belief. These guys would have had full conscious awareness of their insanity if Jesus had not risen because the evidence would have been readily available to contradict them. It is mostly employed in response to the idea that his disciples stole his body from the tomb: it may be likely that someone would die for something that they did not know was true, but it is quite a bit less likely that these men would have died for something which they knew to be a blatant lie (i.e. if they had stolen his dead body, etc..) Concerning the historicity of the events, there are numerous resources available (I will attempt to track them down if anyone likes.. though they really aren't difficult to find... one author which comes to mind is Lee Strobel). The evidence of textual integrity of the New Testament (the evidence that it was not significantly altered over time in any major way) is actually quite abundant. There are thousands of copies from all over the Roman Empire from within a very short time frame after the originals (in comparison to other writings in antiquity) with surprisingly minimal differences. I say all this as clarification to help you understand the Christian position/reasoning behind these issues. I'm not really into debating these small details myself, so please don't be disappointed if I refrain from getting into the "nitty-gritty" stuff. However, I suppose I have now officially "outed" myself concerning my brand of Theism.
  5. 1) As Dante pointed out, this definition of omnipotence is currently under discussion in this thread. 2) Allow me to demonstrate why: This question essentially asks "Can an all-powerful being be not all-powerful?" Or "Can an all-powerful being have the "power" to make himself not all-powerful?" The question (i.e. "refutation") is an inherent contradiction. "All-powerful" means the inability to lack a power. If you want to equate "ability to be weak" with a "power" than you destroy the meaning of power and turn Objectivist ethics on its head.
  6. Thank you to both Trebor and Dante. I have a better understanding of the official Objectivist Position on this now and will continue to think through it... more thoughts to come (maybe).
  7. Thanks, Trebor. I will try to listen to that soon. Here is a passage that I think summarizes the source of my confusion concerning the Objectivist position here: "It is Aristotle who first formulated the principles of correct definition. It is Aristotle who identified the fact that only concretes exist. But Aristotle held that definitions refer to metaphysical essences, which exist in concretes as a special element or formative power, and he held that the process of concept-formation depends on a kind of direct intuition by which man’s mind grasps these essences and forms concepts accordingly. Aristotle regarded “essence” as metaphysical; Objectivism regards it as epistemological. Objectivism holds that the essence of a concept is that fundamental characteristic(s) of its units on which the greatest number of other characteristics depend, and which distinguishes these units from all other existents within the field of a man’s knowledge. Thus the essence of a concept is determined contextually and may be altered with the growth of man’s knowledge. The metaphysical referent of man’s concepts is not a special, separate metaphysical essence, but the total of the facts of reality he has observed, and this total determines which characteristics of a given group of existents he designates as essential. An essential characteristic is factual, in the sense that it does exist, does determine other characteristics and does distinguish a group of existents from all others; it is epistemological in the sense that the classification of “essential characteristic” is a device of man’s method of cognition—a means of classifying, condensing and integrating an ever-growing body of knowledge." ITOE, 52. http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/definitions.html So, Obviously Rand rejects the part of Aristotle that I hilighted with Red, but why must the metaphysical aspect of the essence be rejected along with it? Why not just get rid of the intuition part and keep the metaphysical essence part? The Yellow is what makes Objectivism seem like Nominalism. The Green (really almost everything in that bottom paragraph) seems to have little to no difference from the Aristotelian/Realist position that essences are metaphysical. Either I severely misunderstand Rand here, or she doesn't disagree with Aristotle as much as she thought...?? If the essence of a thing is not metaphysical, then to what does the epistemological concept refer? And if the concept does not refer to something metaphysical, then how is this different from Nominalism at the core? Likewise, in the Lexicon link to Nominalism provided above, the majority of the quotes are from Peikoff's ASD in which he seem to argue vehemently that a definition ought to include all the characteristics of all of its referents, while Rand seems to argue that a definition ought to only focus on the essential/defining/fundamental characteristics of the referents (as can be seen in the Lexicon quotes for "Definitions"). So which is it? Does Objectivism hold that the definition of "Man" includes all the characteristics of every man (like having a thumb, having two eyes, etc..) as argued by Peikoff in ASD -- OR does Objectivism hold that the definition of "Man" is properly "rational animal" since defining a concept with non-essentials cuases so much trouble as Rand points out in many other places..?? And if the first, does a man who loses an eye suddenly become something other than "Man"? (What's the difference between this & Nominalism?) If the second, then doesn't this imply that there IS a metaphysical essence to which the concept refers? (What's the difference between this & Realism?)
  8. The introduction gives a brief overview of Nominalism (along with the other major positions on the issue), but does not explicitly state how or why Nominalism is false/ different from the Objectivist Position. Thank you Black Wolf, for an actual answer. I appreciate it. I still have a question as to how the actual systems differ though. What you listed (black wolf) seem to be symptoms of Nominalism. Objectivism obviously does a very good job of avoiding all those symptoms, but it still seems like there is a remarkable similarity between the Objectivist Position on "concepts"/"universals" and the Nominalist position-- that they are mere names or "abstractions" which help us to reason rightly.. It would be helpful if someone could list the specific differences between the two positions, i.e.: "Nominalism holds that (abc), and in contrast to this, Objectivism holds that (xyz)"
  9. I have read almost all of Rand's writing and had many discussions with various Objectivists which has led me to ask this question: Do Objectivists consider themselves as distinct in any respect from Nominalism concerning concepts, etc..? If so, how?
  10. Do you wish to attack my conclusion as arbitrary (not proceeding from any premises) or do you wish to attack my premises as false (not being based in reality)?? Pick one. You probably want to do both, but allow me to save you (and me) the time and frustration. IF my premises are false, my conclusion will be as well and therefore you ONLY need to attack my premises. So if you are having trouble deciding which plan of attack to take, do the premises first. Then, if you fail, accept that my premises are accurate and advance on to the next stage of attack which would be attempting to prove that the conclusion does not follow from those premises. BUT, once you ACCEPT the premises and advance on to examine the conclusion, do NOT take it back with your other hand and accuse me of having false or arbitrary premises. No. I ignore the "requirement" of the first cause (whether God or not) to have a first cause because such a requirement is a contradiction. Actually, there was no endless reasoning between myself and anyone else on that thread. That was my first and last post on that thread. No one ever responded. If you'd like to be the first to respond to me on that thread, I welcome you with open arms. I will attempt to reply to this particular objection on the existence of God thread (I don't want to hi-jack this thread). But, I will say that THIS objection/argument has not been your major objection against my position. You have mentioned this particular argument once (maybe twice) in the existence of God thread. But much more often than that, your main argument has simply been "Existence exists" as if I were denying or challenging the axiom-- in spite of the fact that I have gone to lengths to show that my position is perfectly consistent with the axiom. So, don't act like I'm some dolt trying your patience on THIS (energy) argument. We've gone over it once before and it by far was not your main emphasis. Your main emphasis was and has been "existence exists".
  11. I wasn't a consistent philosopher (or a philosophical thinker on anything other than a very amateur level) at 17, so I would have considered myself an atheist at some points and an agnostic at others. My position, had I ever attempted to actually express it, would have been something like the following: "I don't think there is a God and even if there is, it is probably impossible to ever know that there is a God". Obviously, once it is expressed, its a very flawed position as it it. I came to realize this (partially) and decided to challenge myself by getting familiar with philosophy and theology in general. There you have it. To answer your other question, yes! If I was presented with compelling reason to believe that there is not a God, I would happily reject my Theism. Regarding Rand, beginning with being anti-religion is very close (if not equal) to beginning with being anti-theism. I equated the two. If you'd like to argue that she may have been anti-religion, yet still open to the possibility of their being a God, I suppose that is possible- but not likely. My point is that one's motivation for thinking does not determine truth. One may have a very false and evil motivation and still happen upon truth and this in no way negates the truth which they have happened upon. Likewise, the fact that they happened upon truth does not excuse their evil or irrational motivation. The point is that they are two separate issues. Concerning my psychology. Your right, it was foolish to bring it up. I did so in order to communicate my allegiance to objective truth regardless of the my subjective short range feelings. It obviously caused more confusion than help, so I apologize.
  12. And all of you "demonstrations" and "objections" have repeatedly been against fictitious straw-men that do not resemble my position, like the one below: A) We agreed that "arbitrary" means lacking any reasoning. Have I "required a first cause" without putting forth copious reasoning to back it up? If I have, then you can call it an arbitrary position. But if I have provided even a moderate amount of reasoning behind my position on that point, then do not call it arbitrary. You can disagree with my reasoning and point out flaws in it- but you cannot call my position arbitrary. I have, in fact, shown that it is contradictory and therefore false to imagine that there is not a first cause. See the infinite regress thread. I believe mine is the last post, to which no one else has replied. In that post I succinctly demonstrate the inherent contradiction in the possible positions in attempting to avoid a first cause position. Once again you equate "physical existence" with "existence as such" in a debate where that very issue is in question. How many times (seriously) do I need to explain that my position is that God is an existent. He exists. He is included in existence. My position does not pit God against existence and "grant" anything to God which is not "granted" to existence. If God is included in existence and if God is eternal, than existence is eternal. That is my position. That has always been my position. I have labored intensely to correct you EVERY time you've mis-read or mis-understood that position. Please, Please, Please, Please, if you are going to attack a position (and much more, if you are going to declare triumphantly that you have succeeded in defeating that position), PLEASE, make sure that you actually understand that position first. It saves A LOT of time.
  13. Exactly! lol. However, it is also sort of the fault of modern Theists being anti-intellectual because they bought into Kants worldview along with the rest of the world...but that's somewhat of a different story. About "Faith", I don't think I could really say that I matched up with any of those views (even the Thomistic one). Faith is simply feeling and acting in accordance with your knowledge in spite of immediate obstacles to doing so. It is "seeing the unseen" philosophically and acting on it in spite of the fact that the immediate context seems to be saying the opposite. Galt seeing and being convinced of a superior and rational worldview acted on "faith" (I would say) in that knowledge and rebelled against the modern "wisdom of the age" which was in direct opposition to what he knew to be true. Faith is always IN an OBJECT-- meaning that it is a positive response to and disposition toward KNOWLEDGE/REASON...not against it. Proper faith is not a whim or a wish... and neither is it ever a legitimate ground for belief in anything. Reason is the ground for belief and faith is the proper positive disposition toward that reasoning in spite of contextual impediments. I think you've nailed it on the head here. When reading Aquinas and Aristotle, it is seriously difficult to believe that they were positing a non-existent consciousness which created all of existence, including itself. And yet THAT is the straw-man that is constantly raised up and attacked as "Theism". I don't think either Aquinas or Aristotle were THAT stupid. They also weren't stupid enough to posit a being who is "so all powerful" that he can lack a power or contradict Himself. These strawmen are philosophical childsplay.
  14. I answered your question. lol. Don't accuse me of evading it. You asked if I believed in God based on faith or based on reason and I told you that it was based on reason. If you are asking if I first began consciously examining the reasoning from a neutral standpoint, then the answer is "no".. because that's kind of impossible. lol. Do you think that it DOES matter where one starts? Do you think that IF I started out "wanting" to believe in God and then discovered rational arguments for God's existence that therefore those arguments are no longer rational??? What if someone began by "wanting" to believe in Capitalism and eventually discovered that it had much valid reasoning behind it. Does the fact that they began by wanting it to be true alter or negate its truthfulness? Remember, as I said before, Rand began her philosophy WANTING Atheism to be true. So if you are EVER going to use this kind of subjective argument against a Theist, you had better be consistent and use it against Rand's Atheism as well. But, since your so interested in my own personal journey, Ill be happy to indulge you: I grew up as an atheist/agnostic not really ever consciously thinking about whether or not there was a God except for the occasional philosophical musings. I was invited to (and attended) Mormon Church with High School Friends (80% of my school was mormon), but I recognized the insanity of that fairly quickly and didn't get involved. At 17 I decided that I needed to figure out for myself whether or not there was a God and if so, what type of God He is and if He expected anything of me... I realized that IF God existed, I couldn't hide behind my ignorance and agnosticism. So I began looking into different ideas of God and became attracted to various types of theology and philosophy (comparing and contrasting, chewing meat, spitting out bones, etc...) Through much study, debate, questioning, etc... I am rationally convinced that God exists and that He must have certain attributes and a certain type of relation to His creation. There you have it. However, I still want to emphasize that even if I HAD started out "wanting to believe in God by faith, and then desperately looking for evidence to back up my emotional crutch".. that would not in any way, shape, or form, alter or negate the rationality behind the objective arguments for the existence of God. (It may negatively affect my sincerity in my belief or my personal psycho-epistemology or my ability to effectively communicate it to others, etc... but it would NOT alter the objective content being spoken of in this thread). Why are you SO interested in MY psychological workings? I was simply being honest about the fact that it is more difficult in the short run to keep the entire context of your knowledge in view. It is much easier in the short run to neglect the larger context and act range-of-the-moment... not better, but easier (and only short term). This is a common theme in Rand's writing- I don't know why you would challenge me on it. In fact, a great example is when Galt is tempted (momentarily) to be jealous of Rearden and his success, but then he "remembered the full context of the situation". Rand put it much better, but I don't have time to look up the quote right now. The point is that almost everyone (if they're honest) is tempted at times to ignore or neglect the wider context for the sake of momentary comfort or ease.
  15. IF He had a beginning, of course it would be a piece of cake. And if He did not have a beginning, then there would be nothing to trace. What's your point?
  16. I am convinced in the existence of God because of the compelling rationality behind that position. My allegiance is to truth and rationality-- no matter where that takes me. To be perfectly honest, there are times that I irrationally wish that I could negate my knowledge of God because it could make some things easier (much the way an objectivist may be tempted to give up on attempting to be productive and become a playboy). However, regardless of where I started my philosophical/theological journey-- that ultimately shouldn't matter when discussing truth. After all, Rand began her very first philosophical journals with the determination to show that religion (theism) is the chief evil in the world. I don't blame her for starting there (we all have to start somewhere)..but ideally one allows truth to overcome one's presuppositions- no matter how difficult that might be.
  17. The thread is labeled "refutation of an all powerful being", so I took it as that. Regardless, I was more concerned to point out the fallacious nature of this type of "refutation" and how it goes against objectivist ethics. The argument is basically "If an all powerful being can't be non-all powerful, then He's not all powerful".. Everyone just puts something different in the underlined spot (creating a building so high that He can't jump over it, contradict Himself, clone Himself, etc...) The fact that an all powerful being would not be capable of doing these things is evidence of His omnipotence-- not evidence against it, since all of these things would demonstrate a lack of power and weakness. If one wishes to hold to this refutation, then one must equate weakness and irrationality with power...which Objectivists should never want to do. That's my point. What is all this talk about "inside and outside the confines of existence"?? I do not believe that an all powerful being created existence- I believe that an all powerful being created all particular existents apart from Himself, but this does not violate the axiom of existence any more than me creating a hamburger does. Yes- the ability to contradict yourself IS a weakness. Would you like to contend otherwise?? lol. This doesn't mean that I am condemning humanity as essentially weak... because the ability to contradict is not essential to our nature. Am I not allowed to condemn what is evil in humanity without being accused of condemning humanity as such??
  18. Two Points: A) No serious theologian has ever defined "all powerful" in that way and any genuine attempt on the part of an atheist to understand the theologians position would have made this evident fairly quickly. Perhaps you'd like to argue that the theologians should have been more specific and more upfront for your sake. Fine. Whatever. The fact that you NOW understand that this is not what they mean is sufficient to show that the type of "refutation" in this thread is not a refutation at all. B ) "All-powerful" does not and should not include the power to do contradictory things- even for atheistic Objectivists. The ability to contradict one's self is emphatically not a power, but a deprivation of power. It is a weakness, not a strength. If a being is incapable of weakness and irrationality, this is not a lack of power. If you wish to say that the inability to be weak or irrational is a lack of power, then you are saying that weakness and irrationality are powerful and that the more powerful a person is, the more he should be capable of weakness and irrationality. This destroys Objectivist ethics entirely. I don't think you want to (or should want to) hold to this type of argument.
  19. Isn't this an exact mirror of what has happened in this thread though? The atheists have assigned a false and irrational definition to the theist position and then attacked that definition rather than the one that the theist actually holds. Further, have I not demonstrated that the atheist objections on this thread have a false and irrational definition of "all powerful"? They say that in order for a being to be "all powerful", he must have the ability ("power") to lack a power. But the "power" to lack a power is NOT a power. lol. If it was, then weakness (lack of power) is equal to strength (possession of power). In fact, this means that the most powerful being must "have the power" to be the weakest being. This is ridiculous. This (the atheist definition of "all-powerful") is obviously self-contradictory and therefore needs to be rejected. The "refutations of an all powerful being" in this thread all depend on that irrelevant, erroneous, and self-contradictory definition and therefore all of those refutations fall with it.
  20. Thank you, Ctrl Y, for your integrity here. If you wish to hold actual theologians accountable (which I HIGHLY commend), then be honest and hold them accountable to what they actually say and not what you imagine them to say. No serious theologian has posited that God could do the contradictory and if any has, they have been swiftly corrected by other theologians. Ctrl Y is right. You are arguing against a strawman.
  21. Now follow the same reasoning: if the same man was incapable of being weak, would that be a weakness or a strength? Would you cry out the his inability to be weak is a weakness since the strongest man in the world would not have ANY inabilities?
  22. If a man was incapable of irrationality, would that be a strength or a weakness? Would you accuse him of a weakness because he wasn't "able" to be irrational? Or would you shut your mouth and realize that you were using "ability" in two different ways?
  23. It is baffling to me that Objectivists are incapable of seeing the horrendous error in equating "inability" to "ability" and "weakness" to "strength". Your argument basically says that in order for a being to be all powerful, He must have the "power" to possess a weakness. In order for Him to be able to do all things, He must have an inability. This is so absurdly altruistic. Strength does NOT require weakness. Ability does not require inability. The "ability" to posess an inability is NOT an ability. The "ability" to be weak is NOT a strength. It is a weakness. An omnipotent being could not do any of the things listed in all of your silly objections because all of those things are weaknesses, inabilities, deprivations. An omnipotent being is not "able" to be non-omnipotent; and the inability to be non-omnipotent is NOT a weakness, but a strenght. The inability to be weak is NOT a weakness. If you wish to argue otherwise, then I cannot fathom how you can separate yourself from the envious, sniveling, altruistic, greatness-haters running rampant in the world.
  24. Yes. I fully understand this. The difference is the TYPE of causation being discussed. I am not proposing that causation does not apply to Man. ***PLEASE STOP PUTTING WORDS IN MY MOUTH* The tendancy of Oists on this forum to misconstrue the position of others is extremely annoying, dishonest, evasive, and down right dis-respectful. IF you don't understand my position or if you think you do but I say that you don't, PERHAPS it might be a wise idea to ask clarifying questions about what I mean and do not mean rather than imagining me to mean your straw man. Quite frankly, I am SICK of these straw men- whether they come from intentional arrogance or ignorance, or misunderstandings. They can EASILY be avoided by asking clarifying questions! I completely agree that Man is subject to causality. I am proposing that the "free" in free will means that he is free TO SOME EXTENT (i.e. DO NOT READ "TO ALL EXTENTS"), and in SOME RESPECT (i.e. DO NOT READ "ALL RESPECTS") from the total effects of OUTSIDE MATERIAL CAUSATION (i.e. DO NOT READ "ALL CAUSATION"). I will refrain from typing any more until I am SURE that you understand what I am saying in the above and that you understand what I am NOT saying. Hint: Read the parentheses for clarification. IF you understand the above and can parrot it back to me in your own words, then I will be convinced that a rational discussion can commence. Until then, I will regard it as utterly futile to speak to you since you seem to have ZERO interest in grasping the meaning of what I say.
  25. No. The only way to not be coerced is to have an identity which is capable of being free to some degree from the total causal effects of outside action. Yes, causality is identity in action, but we are attempting to inquire about the Identity/Nature of Man in this discussion. Freedom from coercion for Man does not mean that he must be free from HIS identity. It means that his identity must be such that he is from from the coercive effects of OTHER causal actions to some degree.
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