Split from "Bad arguments and how to spot them" going off topic

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Patrick Fowke
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Split from "Bad arguments and how to spot them" going off topic

Post by Patrick Fowke » Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:14 pm

FXR, hello
FXR wrote:At least this thread has potentially provided the heretics with a handy short hand term for logical fallacies:

we can now use shorthand and say " Thats PF_UT"
(Patrick Fowked Up Thinking).
Can you please point out the logical fallacy / some of the logical fallacies?
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by Ygern » Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:55 pm

Patrick, I appreciate your gesture, but there is no need to apologise for causing offence. In itself, its not regarded as a crime here. Most of us, as atheists, know our very existance causes offence to some.

What I took issue with was your apparent attempt to criticise logical fallacies without taking the trouble to familiarise yourself with the arguments or the methodologies.

After reading a number of your posts, I think I am beginning to see some of the problem. You use certain terms (for example, empiricist) strictly in the religious philosophy sense. However, you do need to be aware that empiricism as espoused by St. Thomas Aquinas bears very little relation to the phrase "empirical observation" when used in science. There is quite a significant gulf of difference in meaning between the two and you need to be aware of this when arguing with atheists on this forum, it will prevent misunderstandings on both sides.

For example, empiricism (knowledge arises from experience) in religious philosophy is by its nature partly, although not wholly, informed by solipism, based as it (solipsism) is on the idea that we can only verify our own thoughts and experiences and not anyone elses. This doesn't make it a bad thing in itself, of course this is how all humans initially experience the world around them.

Where you run into trouble on this forum is by making a statement like:
I know that a crucial part of my belief in God is empirically-based
You mean this in all sincerity, I'm sure. But the problem is how some of here will read a comment like this.

To us, empirical means data or hypotheses that have been submitted to a rigorous battery of tests and evaluation. In other words its an essential part of the scientific methodology; and one which is entirely unsuited to ascertaining the validity or veracity of religious belief.

I think this might be why you are running into the same sorts of protests and accusations in a number of threads - when you claim that your religious belief is empirical it looks like you are making a false claim, or using a word to give your claim an air of scientific authenticity. Again, you no doubt mean it in all sincerity, but it comes across as quite the opposite.

So, when you make a statement such as
Christians are, by personal nature, as well as by the nature of their faith, as much empiricist as rationalist
you need to explain what you mean. For example, atheists tend to regard belief in the supernatural as irrational. So when you make the above claim you need to explain in what way you see your belief as rational and empirical.
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Patrick Fowke
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:24 am

Ygern

Good to clear air. Now to some debate ..
Ygern wrote:
You use certain terms (for example, empiricist) strictly in the religious philosophy sense.
As far as I can recall, I have only used 'empiricist' once in the philosophical sense of the word on this board. And that was just above (in this thread) where I made a point that I was using it in the philisophical sense of the word.
Patrick Fowke wrote:
I know that a crucial part of my belief in God is empirically-based (empirical in the philisophical sense of the word i.e experience of life
The other times I have used this word, elsewhere on this board (or, rather, 'empirical') is in the scientific context, i.e empirical evidence).
Ygern wrote:
However, you do need to be aware that empiricism as espoused by St. Thomas Aquinas bears very little relation to the phrase "empirical observation" when used in science
I know that. And I attributed the significance of the word to the approach / nature of philosophy that Aristotle is famous for (and that Thomas Aquinas borrowed from / was influenced by).

And empiricism, in the philosophical sense, is much bigger than just Aristotle (Aristotle's philosophy, let-alone Thomas Aquinas). It is an approach that we see reflected in some of the major philosophers of history: Berkeley, Hume and others.

In fact, empiricism is one of the two main philisophical approaches (the other being rationalism). Many of the great philosophers fall either into the empirical camp or the rationalist camp (Plato, Descartes, Leibniz and others).

And some falling somewhere inbetween empiricism and rationalism.

The point I want to make is that empiricism (in the philisophical sense) has been at the heart of philosophy since the time of Aristotle.

And another point. Empiricism doesn't have to have a religious conotation at all. It has been borrowed, rather, by theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas, and infused into their work. Religion (i.e Christianity, in particular, Roman Catholicism) has borrowed from empiricists (not - chiefly: although, no doubt, some empiricist philosophers have borrowed from theologians whose theology is imbued with empiricism - the other way around). The important point I want to make here is that the most typical meaning of empiricism outside the scientific sense is philosophical NOT theological in nature (although theology can be, and as briefly touched on, has been infused with empiricism) but outside science, the association of the word is more significant with philosophy than theology.
Ygern wrote:
Where you run into trouble on this forum is by making a statement like:
I know that a crucial part of my belief in God is empirically-based
You mean this in all sincerity, I'm sure.
As stated above, I made the point quite clearly of using the word in the philisiphical not the scientific sense of the word. Again:
Patrick Fowke wrote:
I know that a crucial part of my belief in God is empirically-based (empirical in the philisophical sense of the word i.e experience of life
Ygern wrote:
I think this might be why you are running into the same sorts of protests and accusations in a number of threads - when you claim that your religious belief is empirical
I've never directly (i.e, using that word) made the claim (as far as I can recall) that my religious belief is 'empirical' (but an interesting topic for another debate, perhaps - the nature of 'empirical' evidence, and the nature of evidence itself in general. And, as I have said earlier on, here, whenever I have used the word 'empirical' it was in the scientific sense - not in the context of my religious belief being 'empirical'. So I don't believe that has been a source of confusion or whatever. Plus the main gist of the debate has been about experiencing the divine through a personal, internal (and transcendental) experience.
Ygern wrote:
So, when you make a statement such as
Christians are, by personal nature, as well as by the nature of their faith, as much empiricist as rationalist
you need to explain what you mean.
But I did explain what I meant (please, read again):
Patrick Fowke wrote:
Christians are, by personal nature, as well as by the nature of their faith, as much empiricist as rationalist (in the philisophical sense of the word).
Thanks for the debate / discussion. 'Night.
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by Ygern » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:54 am

Can you please point out the logical fallacy / some of the logical fallacies?
There's no need for FXR to do this again. I already pointed out three of them. You did read my post, surely?
Empiricism doesn't have to have a religious conotation at all... . the association of the word is more significant with philosophy than theology.
I'm afraid that distinction isn't going to help you here. Empiricism whether used in a religious or "pure" philosophical context are essentially one and the same. They are both based on the premise that knowledge arises from experience. The weakness of philosophical empiricism is that its lacks a sufficient system for determining whether such experienced knowledge is true or false. For that matter, neither is rationalism a perfect system for establishing the truth, although it is a valuable tool as well. Neither school of philosophy is particularly dominant these days, although they appear to be fairly popular with Apologists (and apologetics is purely religious phenomenon nowadays).

Schools of philosophy tend to wax and wane in their popularity and authority as they tend to be limited by the time period and culture in which they were formulated. The constant refinement, editing and integration of schools of philosophy ought to serve as a reminder that while it is a useful aide to the process of thinking through an issue, it is a process that is not perfectly suited to establishing truth in itself, especially when trying to determine questions regarding the existance of something.
While philosophy is a very useful tool for asking questions and hypothesizing about potential answers; it cannot be regarded as an ultimate tool for answering such questions. When scientific evidence allows us to deduce certain verifiable facts, then philosophy must bow to the facts and ponder on its problems within the scope allowed by the facts.

For example, if you wish to establish whether the earth revolves around the sun or the sun revolves about the earth, philosophy is only going to get you a part of the way:
- what you see when you follow the movement of the sun from east to west across the sky (empiricism - particularly dodgy grounds for looking at this question, as I'm sure you'll notice),
- how you explain its movement (rationalism),
- and what you feel and experience when watching the sun (metaphysics)
may provide you with a very interesting set of ideas to argue about but in itself it proves nothing about the issue at hand. For that you need mathematics, a telescope or two and astronomer F.W. Bessel who in 1838 was able to prove the earth's orbit was heliocentric by measuring the parallax of a nearby star.
Given the nature of your claim and reason for being on this forum (believing that God exists); we are less interested in how you personally understand your experiences and far more interested in why you think it is true.
I did explain what I meant
---------------------------
Christians are, by personal nature, as well as by the nature of their faith, as much empiricist as rationalist (in the philisophical sense of the word).

Can't be more clear than that (?)
Sorry, but that's not even remotely clear. You're going to have to do a lot better than that.

What you have written there is not an explanation, it is a claim. You need to back your statement up with some sort of proof or rationale. Lets say I agree that some Christians are empiricist (in a strictly non-scientific sense). But why Rationalist? You might consider answering the following questions if you wish to be clear.

Why do you think Christians are rational?
How are Christians rational?
What makes them rational?
I've never directly (i.e, using that word) made the claim (as far as I can recall) that my religious belief is 'empirical'
Yes you did, as is evidenced by my direct quote of you writing from your reply to Bipedalhumanoid.
You wrote:...I know that a crucial part of my belief in God is empirically-based...
Although, I don't particularly mind which sense you think are using it in. What we (us atheists as well as you, I presume) are concerned with here is whether your belief is true or not; so your experiences and feelings are as nought on this forum without some sort of empirical data (in the strictly scientific sense of the word) to back it up.

Its not that people on this forum don't care about philosophy. It is just that it has its limitations, and its about time you recognised this. Presumably you came here to try and convince us that God exists. Trying to justify your Christian experiences by claiming it has some sort of philosophical veracity does not prove your case.

The problem is, even if you managed to make a convincing case that your belief in the supernatural (ie the Christian God) was rational - and I'm not sure you can - you still haven't proved that your belief is true.
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Patrick Fowke
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:47 pm

Ygern,
Ygern wrote: I'm afraid that distinction isn't going to help you here. Empiricism whether used in a religious or "pure" philosophical context are essentially one and the same.
With respect, no, they are not 'essentially' the same. There is commonality (as I have refered to before) - but not 'essentially' the same.

Two main reasons for this.

Firstly

- Empiricism is most significantly associated with Aristotle, Locke, Berkeley and Hume - philosophers not theologians. The most significant theologian to have used Empiricism was Thomas Aquinas. But he is not remembered as an Empiricist (at least not in the same way / to the same degree as Aristotle, Locke, Berkely, and Hume). But remembered, in the context of empiricism as a theologian who adopted Aristotlean philosophy in his theological work.

Secondly

Hume was both an empiricist (and remembered as such) as well as an atheist. Some might think of empiricism in an atheist context due to Hume (and others), just as others might associate empiricsm in a religious context due to Thomas Aquinas (and others). But outside science, empircism is, essentially, associated with philosophy, not theology.

Moving onto your next point about rationalism.

In which you quote me (which I am labelling quote 1):
Patrick Fowke wrote:
I did explain what I meant
Christians are, by personal nature, as well as by the nature of their faith, as much empiricist as rationalist (in the philisophical sense of the word).

Can't be more clear than that (?)
Ygern wrote:
Sorry, but that's not even remotely clear. You're going to have to do a lot better than that.
But I responded to you (in quote 1) in the context of, as you say yourself, 'Moving onto your next point about rationalism' - of rationalism. In quote 1 I end the sentence with 'rationalist' and in parenthesis write: 'in the philisophical sense of the word.'

So I was being clear about the context of rationalism, here: 'philisophical.'

You then carry on on this point about rationalism:
Ygern wrote:
Why do you think Christians are rational?
How are Christians rational?
What makes them rational?
Which is irrelevant / missing the point to what I actually said.

You then go on quote me about religious belief and empiricism:
Patrick Fowke wrote:
I've never directly (i.e, using that word) made the claim (as far as I can recall) that my religious belief is 'empirical'
Ygern wrote:
Yes you did, as is evidenced by my direct quote of you writing from your reply to Bipedalhumanoid.
Patrick Fowke wrote:..I know that a crucial part of my belief in God is empirically-based...
But you've left out the part of the sentece that directly related to this. I am going to give you the full quote of what I said, with the bit left out in bold, so that the proper / full context is given:
Ygern wrote:
I know that a crucial part of my belief in God is empirically-based (empirical in the philisophical sense
You can debate the significance or truth of empiricism in the philisophical sense. But I was never suggesting I could provide empirical evidence (in the scientific sense). In fact I wasn't making any big point about empiricism in philisophical sense at all. I was just differentiating between external experience and internal experience or thoughts.
Patrick Fowke wrote:
Its not that people on this forum don't care about philosophy. It is just that it has its limitations, and its about time you recognised this. Presumably you came here to try and convince us that God exists. Trying to justify your Christian experiences by claiming it has some sort of philosophical veracity does not prove your case.
I never suggested / would never suggest "proof" of anything (clues to the existence of but not "proof") in the context above.

Moving on.

What big questions of life has science really answered or begun to answer (in a way that has made philosophy redundant in some important way). Science has, obviously, helped us, in an important way, to understand the nature of matter and how the universe works. But the really big questions are (surely / sure you would agree):

- Where did all this stuff (time / space / matter) come from? From absolutely nothing (?) or has existed in some shape or form infinetly (?)

- Why is there (relative) order in the universe. I can understand chaos coming together in an instant to mimmick order. But for it to keep mimmicking order so that it can create an animal that taps away at its computer, pondering where time / space / matter came from in the first place ... well, the chances of chaos mimmicking order in this sense is just huge ... huge.

- Where did the laws of physics come from? What governs the nature of the laws of physics? Why should there be logic and rationalism (in scientific sense) in the universe? Where does logic / rationalism get its authority from?

- Is there such a thing as free will? If so how do human beings get to escape the predermined nature of nature (or that the chaotic nature of nature)?

- What is human love (i.e compassion) as opposd to animal love (i.e preservation of genes)?

- What is beauty in the natural world (i.e landscapes, for example), in inanimate objects (rain drops), in people, in the arts (Mona Lisa, the poetry of Shakespeare)?

- What is mathematics? Why do we have it? Where does it come from? What is the connection between mathematics and natural world?

It seems to me that important, modern science is moving ever more into the realm of philosophy (I am not saying it is philosophy but that it has resemblances to it i.e the theory of multiple dimensions).

Should we take string theory and multiple dimensions seriously or not? If scientists are suggesting the possibility of existence beyond our 3D world, then because they can't provide empirical data from it, does that mean it must, necessarily, not exist?
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by CatHerder » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:15 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote:Moving on.
Patrick, by "moving on" do you mean changing subject? The title of this discussion is Bad arguments and how to spot them

On reading everything you wrote thereafter I'm starting to feel that your intention is to derail this discussion viewtopic.php?f=1&t=228 with your favorite hobby-horse topics of debate.
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:40 pm

Seamus,

'Moving on' as in moving on from point about empiricism / rationalism.

'Moving on' to touch on Ygern's point about philosophy, in general, and empirical data.

And, yes, I did try and develop the discussion into a new (but related) area (to what Ygern was discussing in his post).

'Hobby-horse'. I think they are all important questions. I receive the same round of questions / challenges from atheists in regards to 'proof', 'methodology' and so on. I wouldn't describe them as 'hobby-horse'. And I have tried to move away from the standard model of theist / theist/anti-theist debate, elsewhere on board in order to try and offer something fresh (no doubt some / many / all here would argue with failure ..).

And would you agree or not with the first set of points I made in the last post?
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by Caca » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:11 pm

Patrick,

I am inclined to agree with both Ygern and Bipedalhumanoid. In a different thread I asked you a very simple question which you were unable to give me straight answer to. Giving a long and biased opinion and not responding to other questions is a prime example of a bad argument. Plus in the words of the late great John Lennon; "ism, ism,ism"! Maybe you should stop throwing in words that you understand the meaning of but clearly don't get the concept of!

I'm sorry if this sounds like a personal attack :?
"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members."
Patrick Fowke
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:31 pm

Caca,
Caca wrote:Patrick,

I am inclined to agree with both Ygern and Bipedalhumanoid. In a different thread I asked you a very simple question which you were unable to give me straight answer to. Giving a long and biased opinion and not responding to other questions is a prime example of a bad argument. Plus in the words of the late great John Lennon; "ism, ism,ism"! Maybe you should stop throwing in words that you understand the meaning of but clearly don't get the concept of!

I'm sorry if this sounds like a personal attack :?
No, I don't see it as a personal attack. But you've given me no examples so there is not a lot for me to respond to other than : I disagree with you (sorry, but what else can I say if you don't give me examples of what you mean). Could you give me some examples from the second last post I wrote on this thread, for example?
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by JH » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:29 am

This used to be a great thread. Talk about hijack... :roll:
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