If You are Going to Be a Christian, at Least be a Courageous Christian

This is a follow up OP to my previous two where I’d challenged some of the common Christian views, such as the immortally of the soul  and the origin of evil.

At UD, I also questioned the suppose holiness of Billy Graham-who recently passed away-and the comparison of him to apostle Paul as well as Graham’s confidence that he was going to go to heaven to be with the Lord here.

It looks like that pushed some of the true Christians over the edge  at UD and consequently I was challenged to admit as being a closet atheist or as Truth Will Set You Free called me a/mat (atheist/materialist)…

41 Truth Will Set You Free 

“J-mac @ 15: A/mats are cowards when they preach their a/mat faith as if it has some redeeming social value, which it doesn’t. Stop faking. You act and live as if life has ultimate meaning and value, but there are no such things in a/mat faith-based philosophy.

You are delusional, and you are the real coward. Stop lying to yourself. Embrace your a/mat nihllism.”

My response to this challenge was:

42 J-Mac 

“O’RLY?

Well, I think the only way out of this for you is that you are going to have to prove your claim…

I hope you live up to your name Truth Will Set You Free… Otherwise I’d suggest you change your name to Falsehood Will Set You Up…”

As expected, I never got a response with at least some proof why Truth Will Set You Free  and others would think I was a closet atheist…

Although this is not the first time I was accused of being an atheist, this time though it happened after I had taken some shots at the most cherished belief of the frequent contributors at UD, namely BA77, kairosfocus, Truth Will Set You Free, Barry, Dionisio and many others… namely the afterlife….

Here is my final comment on the challenge:

“So, it looks like the time has come for me to face the truth and make up my mind whether I should support the atheistic/materialistic views, like the view of material, soulless body, or the theistic views with the immortal soul that survives the death of the body and either inherited the heavenly realm or the fiery hell…

Ever since I have been challenged by Truth Will Set You Free and others I have been thinking about it for few days and it looks like I’m going to need help of all of you… Simply put, it is not an easy decision. So, please help me out to make the right one.

As you may remember that one of the reasons I question some theistic/ Christian believes is the teaching of the immortality of the soul.

In Gen 2:16 and 17 we read:

“16 God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

So, according to the bible scripture, in God’s own words, the penalty for eating the forbidden fruit, which meant disobedience and sin, was supposed to be death. There is no mention of the survival of anything, like a soul, that was going to continue living in a spiritual realm, either in heaven or hell…

God said: “…You will surely die…” No hell, no afterlife, no nothing is ever said

After Adam and Eve sinned, one would hope that God would surly tell them all the details about their future regarding the continuation of their life as immortal souls…

And yet, nothing again:ì

Gen 3:19

“By the sweat of your face, You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
God said: “…You will return do the ground… because from it you were taken…”
So again, no word about the immortal soul continuing to live on in the spirit realm as the theistic/Christian teachings claim…

Instead, God clearly tells them that they are going to return to where they were before…
So, as you can see, if I were to accept the theistic/Christian teaching of the immortality of the soul, which continues after death, I would have to go against God’s own statements that are clearly the opposite to the beliefs of many Christians, including the many at UD, like Truth Will Set You free, BA77, ET, and many, many others…

However, this is not the end of the story…

When Satan convinced Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, what did he tell them the effect of the eating of the fruit would be?
Well read it for yourself:

Gen 3:1-5

“1 Now the serpent (Satan) was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’? 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’?”4 (Satan) “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.”

So, obviously you can see the real problem I would have if I were to accept the theistic/Christian teachings of the immortality of the soul that survives death.

I would not only be supporting Satan’s claim that the eating of the forbidden fruit doesn’t lead to death, but rather to being like God, I would also have to be forced to claim that God, yes the Christian God, is a liar… because he said if you sin, you will die…

So, if I decide to stick with theists and support the teachings of immortality of the soul, like the true Christians like, Truth Will Set You Free , BA77, KF and many others believe, I actually would have to claim that God is a liar and Satan’s claim when he said:

“No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.”

was actually true…

So, please help me to make the right decisions.
If I stick with the beliefs of Truth Will Set You Free, BA77, KF and many others at UD, I’m going to be a hypocrite, and accuse God of lying. But if I support God’s statements and expose Satan as slander and lair, the true Christians at UD are going to continue to claim that I hide my true beliefs and you will call me an atheist/materialist… What should I do?

Truth Will Set You Free, BA77, ET, KF and others; what would you do if you were in my situation?

I think, I have no choice and I’m going to support God’s claims and oppose Satan’s falsehood even though I’m going to risk to be abused by you and called names like a/mat…

After all, if I can’t be true to myself, why even bother to breath? We agree at least on one thing: God is righteous and truthful even when hypocrites accused Him of being a lair….He will repay everyone in full…We can be assured of that…

I’m just wondering: Who is it going to be?
Am I going straight to hell?”

What do you all think? Did I do the right thing despite the possible consequences of being accused of being delusional and closet atheist? Am I a closet atheist? What do atheists think? Do I belong with you? Do I belong with true Christians like BA77, Barry, Dr. Egnor ,TWSYF and others? Do I even belong with the ID crowd?

180 thoughts on “If You are Going to Be a Christian, at Least be a Courageous Christian

  1. walto:
    CharlieM,

    Just so you know, blindly agreeing with every nonsensical Steiner utterance isn’t actually a good way of educating oneself. I mean, it’s amusing to others, but that’s neither here nor there.

    And blindly assuming that everything he said was nonsense is not a good way either. That is why I try to do neither.

  2. CharlieM: These desires can only occur when the soul is bound to the body and is in search of earthly pursuits. The whole point of the allegory of the charioteer is to demonstrate that this part of the soul must be mastered if is to rise to the divine.

    This part of the soul is made manifest only by being bound to a physical body.

    The problem here is that you want to attribute to Plato a consistent theory of the soul that ties together what he suggests about the soul prior to birth in Meno and Phaedo with the tripartite account of Republic and Phaedrus. But Plato himself never even tries to tie those accounts together. It’s not even clear to me how Plato could do that. The Neoplatonists figured out one way of tying them together, but it’s not the only option, and attributing the Neoplatonic view to Plato himself (as Steiner evidently does) is just intellectually dishonest.

  3. Robin: So is death and torture apparently…

    Nope, death is a punishment for crimes committed. Torture is not even an issue

    Robin: you’re claiming that humanity is merely a bunch of mindless robots put here to be empty vessels programmed to carry out some lazy god’s will?

    Are you really this clueless as to the compatibility of divine sovereignty and human freedom or are you just messing with me?

    Here is a link from a purely secular perspective if you want of educate yourself.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

    peace

  4. CharlieM: And blindly assuming that everything he said was nonsense is not a good way either. That is why I try to do neither.

    Based on any number of absurd excerpts you’ve posted here with apparent approbation, you need to try much, much harder. There’s a grave danger that’s it’s too late, actually.

  5. fifthmonarchyman: Nope, death is a punishment for crimes committed. Torture is not even an issue

    Are you really this clueless as to the compatibility of divine sovereignty and human freedom or are you just messing with me?

    Here is a link from a purely secular perspective if you want of educate yourself.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

    peace

    Thought you did not believe in free will.

  6. newton, to fifth:

    Thought you did not believe in free will.

    He believes in compatibilist free will — a form of free will which is compatible with determinism.

    Under this view, our choices are free in the sense that we freely make them, in accordance with our own natures. They’re not forced upon us from outside. They may be determined, but they aren’t inconsistent with our natures.

  7. Where fifth and other Calvinists really go off the rails is in wanting God to be sovereign, but then trying to get him off the hook for the results of his sovereign choices.

    That’s why they obsess about “secondary causes”. God may topple the first domino, but anything that happens after? Not his fault, according to the Calvinists.

    Calvinism is for believers, not thinkers.

  8. keiths:
    Where fifth and other Calvinists really go off the rails is in wanting God to be sovereign, but then trying to get him off the hook for the results of his sovereign choices.

    That’s why they obsess about “secondary causes”.God may topple the first domino, but anything that happens after?Not his fault, according to the Calvinists.

    Calvinism is for believers, not thinkers.

  9. newton: Thought you did not believe in free will.

    I don’t believe in libertarian free will.

    I find it to be nonsensical because it posits that in order to be free you have to do things for no reason whatsoever.

    compatibilist freedom on the other hand says that you are free if you are not outwardly constrained and you do things because you want to do them. That seems like common sense to me.

    peace

  10. fifthmonarchyman: I don’t believe in libertarian free will.I find it to be nonsensical because it posits that in order to be free you have to do things for no reason whatsoever.

    It would depend if one choose to but it is not a necessity.

    compatibilist freedom on the other hand says that you are free if you are not outwardly constrained and you do things because you want to do them. That seems like common sense to me.

    If humans by their fallen nature tend to sin and God created that nature, it is hard for me to see how that is not an outwardly constraint. The balance is tilted to a particular outcome.

    peace

  11. keiths: That’s why they obsess about “secondary causes”. God may topple the first domino, but anything that happens after? Not his fault, according to the Calvinists.

    It is the domino’s fault for choosing to fall.

  12. newton: It would depend if one choose to but it is not a necessity.

    What does the choosing, and what causes the chooser to have motives and desires?

    Free will makes no sense in physics or philosophy, but it is a rational concept in law.

    Free will under the law simply means the chooser is aware of consequences, and consequences are an element of the forces that cause behavior. Those that choose to break the law are removed from the population. It’s a bit like purifying selection.

    One could envision a deity forming a population of choosers, some individuals of which are defective. Active malice or favoritism is not required.

  13. petrushka,

    I think I disagree pretty strongly here.

    What you’re talking about is the standard of legal responsibility or culpability. If that’s what you think is really important, OK, fine. But that’s just a different concept than moral responsibility, which in turn is a different concept than “free will.” (The only legal concept of “free will” is a last will and testament that your lawyer writes up for you without charge.)

    I’ve come to the view that we don’t have free will and that it’s not necessary for moral or legal responsibility. I say that largely because I think that compatibilism is a non-starter. The best way of understanding of the concept of free will is in terms of libertarian freedom — as Augustine and Descartes understood it — and that’s just not something that we have.

  14. Kantian Naturalist: What you’re talking about is the standard of legal responsibility or culpability. If that’s what you think is really important, OK, fine. But that’s just a different concept than moral responsibility, which in turn is a different concept than “free will.” (The only legal concept of “free will” is a last will and testament that your lawyer writes up for you without charge.)

    I’m not interested in moral responsibility. I think the concept is rubbish. I don’t think physics allows for philosophical free will. Even if it does, I don’t see any progress toward a coherent definition.

    It is practical, however, to arrange incentives so that societies work. I want to be safe and comfortable, so I have a natural incentive to want society to work.

  15. keiths,

    This is not quite my forte, but here’s how it seems to me. The first decision-point concerns what kind of concept “free will” is: is it a phenomenological concept, that we use to describe our felt experience of agency and responsibility? Or is it a posit that is invoked in order to explain that experience?

    As I understand it, Augustine invents the idea of free will because he’s trying to solve the problem of evil. He has a theological problem he’s trying to solve, given his metaphysical commitments to the existence and nature of God, he has doctrinal commitments specific to Christianity, and free will is integral to his solution. Descartes repeats this whole strategy and reconceptualizes free will in light of mechanistic physics. And that gives us the modern problematic.

    Descartes is quite clear that free will is the ability to initiate new causal chains without any prior causal dependence. In fact, Descartes points out that it is fundamentally the freedom of our will, much more than the rationality of our intellect, that shows what it means for us to be created in the image of God. It is as if every act of freely chosen action on our part is a tiny little counterpart to God’s act of creating ex nihilo.

    Given this historical backdrop, I regard the concept of free will as completely bound up with a lot of metaphysical and theological baggage. If we get rid of that baggage, I don’t see a viable conception of free will that’s left over.

    That said, when it comes to understanding what we do have, I think that neurophilosophers like Dennett and Pat Churchland have it pretty much right. We do have what Churchland calls “the neurobiology of self-control”, which we could specify more carefully in terms of how prefrontal cortex (and specifically ventromedial prefrontal cortex) can inhibit limbic system activity. If you want to call that “free will,” my objection is semantic: I don’t see what virtue there is in applying a concept that originates in theology and applying it to biology.

    On the converse side, I should add that I also don’t believe in determinism. I see determinism as also being, in a way, a “shadow of God”, as Nietzsche would put it: a concept that made sense within a theological worldview and that only seems to make sense without that worldview. Only an omniscient being — God, or Laplace’s demon — would be able to understand how complex systems (which are epistemically intractable to us) are just like simple systems (which are epistemically tractable to us).

    In short: whereas compatibilism wants to show how both free will and determinism can be true, I think that neither is true. Both are shadows of God that we are better off without.

  16. petrushka: I’m not interested in moral responsibility. I think the concept is rubbish. I don’t think physics allows for philosophical free will. Even if it does, I don’t see any progress toward a coherent definition.

    I suppose my view is that the concept of free will is rubbish, but the concept of moral responsibility is not. That’s where I’d urge the separation.

    It is practical, however, to arrange incentives so that societies work. I want to be safe and comfortable, so I have a natural incentive to want society to work.

    Indeed, as do I. I just think that the idea of moral responsibility is integral to how we make societies that are functional and stable.

  17. Kantian Naturalist: Indeed, as do I. I just think that the idea of moral responsibility is integral to how we make societies that are functional and stable.

    I just don’t see any value added by the term “moral”.

    Law is the worst way for defining morality, except for all the other ways that have been tried. It has the advantage of having evolved and adapted over thousands of years. Morality and philosophy look to me to be attempts at a short cut, a way of making right and wrong rational and logical, rather than evolved. My bias is pretty apparent here.

  18. petrushka: I just don’t see any value added by the term “moral”.

    Law is the worst way for defining morality, except for all the other ways that have been tried. It has the advantage of having evolved and adapted over thousands of years. Morality and philosophy look to me to be attempts at a short cut, a way of making right and wrong rational and logical, rather than evolved. My bias is pretty apparent here.

    My main worry about the approach you suggest is this: if there’s no conceptual space between what’s moral and what’s legal, then the very idea of an unjust or immoral law becomes incoherent. That would make it impossible to point out what’s wrong with existing laws or propose new ones that are more just or fair.

  19. newton: If humans by their fallen nature tend to sin and God created that nature, it is hard for me to see how that is not an outwardly constraint. The balance is tilted to a particular outcome.

    God did not create fallen human nature. God simply withholds his Spirit from fallen humanity and lets them stew in their own juice.

    God is under no obligation to override your wish to sin and I would bet that you would accuse him of coercion if he did.

    newton: The balance is tilted to a particular outcome.

    It’s tilted by the sinners love of sin. That is an internal rather than an external constraint.

    peace

  20. newton: It would depend if one choose to but it is not a necessity.

    You need to unpack this one for me. I’m not sure what you are getting at

    peace

  21. fifth:

    God did not create fallen human nature.

    I can see you squirming.

    God (in your weird world) created the humans who fell, knowing as he did so that they would fall. He’s responsible.

    “He only toppled the first domino” is an unbelievably lame defense. Exactly what you’d expect from a Calvinist.

    Continue squirming.

  22. KN,

    The first decision-point concerns what kind of concept “free will” is: is it a phenomenological concept, that we use to describe our felt experience of agency and responsibility?

    No, because then the question “Does free will exist?” would have a trivial answer: “Yes.” That isn’t what people mean when they ask the question.

    It’s about reality, not intuition.

    …when it comes to understanding what we do have, I think that neurophilosophers like Dennett and Pat Churchland have it pretty much right.

    Dennett is a compatibilist, so it’s odd for you to say on the one hand that Dennett “has it pretty much right”, and on the other hand to say that “compatibilism is a non-starter.”

    On the converse side, I should add that I also don’t believe in determinism. I see determinism as also being, in a way, a “shadow of God”, as Nietzsche would put it: a concept that made sense within a theological worldview and that only seems to make sense without that worldview. Only an omniscient being — God, or Laplace’s demon — would be able to understand how complex systems (which are epistemically intractable to us) are just like simple systems (which are epistemically tractable to us).

    Whether determinism is true is independent of whether there are beings capable of predicting the behavior of massively complex systems.

    In short: whereas compatibilism wants to show how both free will and determinism can be true, I think that neither is true. Both are shadows of God that we are better off without.

    Compatibilism doesn’t assert that determinism is true. It just asserts that determinism, if it is true, is compatible with free will.

    In any case, determinism and free will are not inherently theological concepts, so it’s silly to dismiss them just because they’ve impinged on theological discussions in the past.

  23. Kantian Naturalist: My main worry about the approach you suggest is this: if there’s no conceptual space between what’s moral and what’s legal, then the very idea of an unjust or immoral law becomes incoherent. That would make it impossible to point out what’s wrong with existing laws or propose new ones that are more just or fair.

    The lists of what’s legal and what’s moral evolve, but not in sync. Laws are moral codes arrived at and formalized by consensus, with rules, incentives and enforcement. If I say there ought to be a law, that’s a moral statement. If enough people agree, it might become a law. If the law is unpopular, it might be repealed.

    Saying that god makes or has laws is pretty much an assertion that the priest currently in power is the lawmaker. The process by which morals become law is hidden.

    To assert that there are morals to be found through reason is pretty much the same thing, depending on whether the reasoner has power or charisma.

  24. keiths: In any case, determinism and free will are not inherently theological concepts, so it’s silly to dismiss them just because they’ve impinged on theological discussions in the past.

    That’s right. There famously exists a mechanistic strand of materialism (or of “naturalism”). In a physicalist universe, everything would be deterministic and potentially predictable by humans with the right instruments. And no God.

  25. Erik: In a physicalist universe, everything would be deterministic and potentially predictable by humans with the right instruments. And no God.

    Right. I also want to point out that I believe that a universe that is physically determined there can be no minds at all. Just philosophical zombies that look like people.

    I think the universe is theologically deterministic but not physically so. At least not entirely

    peace

  26. Erik:

    In a physicalist universe, everything would be deterministic and potentially predictable by humans with the right instruments. And no God.

    fifth:

    Right.

    Wrong. Physicalism is compatible with both determinism and indeterminism.

    fifth:

    I also want to point out that I believe that a universe that is physically determined there can be no minds at all. Just philosophical zombies that look like people.

    That’s an assertion. I’m guessing that you don’t have an argument to back it up.

  27. keiths: Wrong. Physicalism is compatible with both determinism and indeterminism.

    That’s why I said that there exists a particular mechanistic strand of it.

    And simply declaring something compatible with both this and that won’t do. It may be compatible with both, but not in the same way. The issue for physicalists is whether to be non-reductive, reductive or eliminative. The last is logically the most consistent position, but with so different implications compared to the non-reductive position that they could be said to be different philosophies.

  28. keiths:

    Wrong. Physicalism is compatible with both determinism and indeterminism.

    Erik:

    That’s why I said that there exists a particular mechanistic strand of it.

    Here’s what you said:

    In a physicalist universe, everything would be deterministic and potentially predictable by humans with the right instruments.

    That’s incorrect, because physicalism is compatible with both determinism and indeterminism.

  29. keiths: Here’s what you said:

    And what sentence immediately preceded that? Nevermind. You apparently like things best out of context and dumbed down to your own level.

  30. Erik:

    And what sentence immediately preceded that?

    This one:

    That’s right. There famously exists a mechanistic strand of materialism (or of “naturalism”).

    Not sure why you think that helps you. Your statement is still incorrect:

    In a physicalist universe, everything would be deterministic and potentially predictable by humans with the right instruments. And no God.

    Physicalism is not restricted to determinism, Erik.

  31. J-Mac: How can this be reconciled with free will?

    It can’t be. That’s the whole point! Your god-concept is a contradiction to the concept of free will.

  32. fifthmonarchyman:

    Nope, death is a punishment for crimes committed.

    Nope…can’t be. it’s delivered in spite of any crimes or actions. Calvin sez so… You’re just trying to white wash your god’s crimes. I’m not into such fascist jerkism, thanks…

  33. Robin: It can’t be. That’s the whole point! Your god-concept is a contradiction to the concept of free will.

    What? Please tell me you have more than just your unfounded assumptions…
    I don’t think you know who I am what I stand for…If you don’t have a very good arguments , please do not respond!

  34. keiths:
    KN,

    Dennett is a compatibilist, so it’s odd for you to say on the one hand that Dennett “has it pretty much right”, and on the other hand to say that “compatibilism is a non-starter.”

    Yes and no. In Elbow Room he happily regards himself as a compatibilist. I think that was a mistake on his part, because his view is really quite different from traditional compatibilists like John Stuart Mill.

    Here’s how Owen Flanagan puts the point in his The Problem of the Soul:

    ————————————————————————

    Libertarianism is a non-starter because the Cartesian conception of free will, the only conception that has received articulation within philosophy as deserving the name free will, is a non-starter.
    The compatibilist, meanwhile, if he thinks free will is compatible with determinism, must have changed the subject. He cannot be saying that the Cartesian conception of free will is compatible with determinism, because, well, it isn’t. And indeed if one looks at the literature one will see that compatibilists inevitably mean something different by free will than what the orthodox concept says it is. . . .
    What to do? My proposal is this: Change the subject. Stop talking about about free will and determinism and talk instead about whether and how we can make sense of the concepts of ‘deliberation’, ‘choice’, ‘reasoning’, ‘agency’ and ‘accountability’ within the space allowed by the scientific image of minds. This is, I hasten to admit, just what I accused the compatibilists of doing. Since they cannot be saying that free will is compatible with causation, either deterministic or indeterministic, they must be claiming that something else — hopefully similar to free will — is compatible with causation.
    It would be misleading to call my position compatibilism, however, since compatibilism seems to accept the terms of the standard debate about ‘free will and determinism’. Since I have been trying to frame the pressing question in terms of the compatibility of ‘rational deliberation and choice and causation’, or as the problem of the voluntary and the involuntary, it would be best to call my view neo-compatibilism (emphasis original). I do claim that we can make sense of rational deliberation and choice in a causal universe. (pp. 126-7)
    ————————————————————————-

    So: with Flanagan, I think that the real question “can we make sense of rational deliberation and choice within the space allowed by the scientific study of minds?” is the real question, and “the compatibility of free will and determinism” is a red herring.

    Whether determinism is true is independent of whether there are beings capable of predicting the behavior of massively complex systems.

    That would be the case only if we allowed metaphysics to swing free of epistemology, so that we’d be licensed in making claims about the nature of reality independent of how we arrive at those claims and justify them. I’m deeply allergic to that move.

    Compatibilism doesn’t assert that determinism is true. It just asserts that determinism, if it is true, is compatible with free will.

    True, but if one doesn’t think that determinism is true, then compatibilism is just a fun little mental exercise and not a position worth putting any real energy into developing and defending.

    In any case, determinism and free will are not inherently theological concepts, so it’s silly to dismiss them just because they’ve impinged on theological discussions in the past.

    We disagree quite strongly on that point.

    As I see it, no one would have bothered defending libertarian freedom if it weren’t for the necessity of making sense of Christian theological concepts like creation ex nihilo and the imago Dei. And libertarian freedom is the best articulation we have of what the concept of free will actually means. Likewise for determinism — it’s just the Christian idea of predestination transposed into the framework of mechanistic physics.

  35. Kantian Naturalist: In Elbow Room he happily regards himself as a compatibilist.

    Have you read “From Bacteria to Bach and Back”? It’s sorta his life’s work, written for dummies. Rorty’s influence hangs heavy (as it should!)

  36. Alan Fox: Have you read “From Bacteria to Bach and Back”? It’s sorta his life’s work, written for dummies. Rorty’s influence hangs heavy (as it should!)

    Yes, I have. I liked it very much. He makes good use of Gibson, which I appreciated! But I’m still not a fan of memes. Dennett still hasn’t convinced me that there are any or that it’s a useful concept. And I think that Dennett is still far too sketchy on the details about how culture and language evolve from and transform animal cognition. Granted, a detailed story is beyond the scope of FBB — as you point out, it’s his magnum opus and intended to be as accessible as possible.

    Somewhere — I would need to track down the citation — Rorty says that everything he was trying to say in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature was said much better by Dennett in The Intentional Stance and Michael Williams in Groundless Belief.

  37. Alan Fox: Have you read “From Bacteria to Bach and Back”? It’s sorta his life’s work, written for dummies.

    I’ve read it. I am underwhelmed.

    He wants natural selection to explain everything. And that pretty much leaves it explaining nothing.

    He badly overemphasizes memes (in my opinion). And he still does not understand consciousness.

  38. Neil Rickert: He wants natural selection to explain everything. And that pretty much leaves it explaining nothing.

    I agree with you there. He doesn’t allow any room for natural processes other than natural selection, to the point where natural selection seems almost magical. And he doesn’t allow nearly enough room for culture!

    He badly overemphasizes memes (in my opinion). And he still does not understand consciousness.

    In fairness to Dennett, no one understands consciousness. And I think his views on consciousness are more subtle and interesting than he advertises them as being in FBB.

  39. Neil Rickert: He wants natural selection to explain everything. And that pretty much leaves it explaining nothing.

    As it’s my birthday, I’ll let that pass!

    No, I won’t. What’s the alternative? There isn’t another explanation that I’m aware of that stands up to scrutiny. Determinism? Theism? What?

  40. Neil:

    He [Dennett] wants natural selection to explain everything. And that pretty much leaves it explaining nothing.

    KN:

    I agree with you there. He doesn’t allow any room for natural processes other than natural selection, to the point where natural selection seems almost magical.

    That’s silly. Of course Dennett allows room for other natural processes. You obviously won’t find him explaining mountain formation, for instance, in terms of natural selection.

  41. KN,

    And he doesn’t allow nearly enough room for culture!

    Are you kidding? That’s the whole point of his emphasis on memes!

  42. keiths:

    Dennett is a compatibilist, so it’s odd for you to say on the one hand that Dennett “has it pretty much right”, and on the other hand to say that “compatibilism is a non-starter.”

    KN:

    Yes and no. In Elbow Room he happily regards himself as a compatibilist. I think that was a mistake on his part, because his view is really quite different from traditional compatibilists like John Stuart Mill.

    He thinks that determinism is compatible with free will. That’s what compatibilism is!

    And if you agree with Flanagan, then you don’t think that Dennett “has it pretty much right”, since Dennett believes that we do in fact have free will, contra Flanagan. Your position is self-contradictory.

  43. keiths:

    Whether determinism is true is independent of whether there are beings capable of predicting the behavior of massively complex systems.

    KN:

    That would be the case only if we allowed metaphysics to swing free of epistemology, so that we’d be licensed in making claims about the nature of reality independent of how we arrive at those claims and justify them.

    Metaphysics does “swing free” of epistemology in the requisite way. A system is either deterministic or it isn’t, and that’s independent of what people think about it. The thoughts don’t magically alter the reality.

  44. Robin: Nope…can’t be. it’s delivered in spite of any crimes or actions. Calvin sez so…

    Where does he say so??

    Calvin says salvation is granted regardless of merit he does not say the same thing about damnation as far as I know.

    Robin: You’re just trying to white wash your god’s crimes. I’m not into such fascist jerkism, thanks…

    Then you will not be required to live in God’s presence forever. Instead you will only have to pay for the sins you have committed.

    I would think that you would think that is a fair deal.

    peace

  45. Neil Rickert: He badly overemphasizes memes (in my opinion). And he still does not understand consciousness.

    I love this response to Dennett

    quote:
    Now, there are at least two fatal paradoxes here, which Dennett does not even address, much less resolve. The first is that the human self or “user” is, in his view, itself part of the illusion. Hence there is no one there for the “illusion” to be an illusion for. Dennett’s account thus destroys the foundations of its own intelligibility. Second, natural science, in the name of which Dennett puts forward his various theories, ultimately rests on the empirical evidence provided by conscious experience. Hence if conscious experience really were a “user-illusion,” it would follow that the foundations of empirical science are illusory.

    end quote:

    from here:

    http://www.claremont.org/crb/article/one-long-circular-argument/

    peace

  46. Alan Fox: As it’s my birthday, I’ll let that pass!

    No, I won’t. What’s the alternative?

    Biological organisms are pragmatic. The pragmatism arises from the homeostasis of biological processes.

    The pragmatism of biological systems in turn leads to pragmatic decision making, which is the basis for intentionality.

    That’s what’s missing from Dennett’s overly broad use of natural selection.

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