you seem to me to be be arguing, then, not about any particular thing, but only about the heuristic device called 'probability'. For an example of what I mean,I'm sorry, but I don't know what you mean, and I don't understand your example.
H: Physical laws are descriptions of -- not causes of -- the regularities in the universe.
P: How do you know this?(It's analytic knowledge, not synthetic.) Parsimony. Without it, you could make up an infinite regress of causes for your causes, none of which add any power or scope to your explanation.
And, how are they not the same thingThat's a valid way to use the terms, but then causation even more obviously vanishes -- just as unmarried maleness does not "cause" bachelorhood.
if there is nothing more basic in existence than whatever-it-is that is the physical foundation of all other phenomenon? I was not referring to known descriptions/laws, I was referring to the very idea (held by metaphysical naturalists) that there is a physical foundation for all phenomenon and from which the stuff of the cosmos became what it is.I'm not sure what you mean by "physical foundation" and "stuff", or what distinction you see between them. For my conceptions of physics and ontology, see those sections of my book.
H: supernaturalists usually say they know a self-explaining fact, and naturalists usually say nobody knows any such.Supernaturalists usually say God is self-causing and self-explaining.
P: I'm not sure I follow you
Suppose that someone, such as a particular naturalist, recognizes that he is incapable, at least for the time being, of looking onto a self-explaining fact from a vantage point either epistemically above it, or equal to it. Does this mean that such a self-explaining fact cannot be known as such to him? Also, if he recognizes that he lacks this epistemic vantage point, then has he no self-explaining fact in the very object of that cognition? Further, if he recognizes that he lacks this vantage point for things outside himself, is he then logically admitting that there is nothing that has aseity?I don't know what you mean by "epistemic vantage point". It seems possible that aseity (or a self-explaining fact) could obtain/exist without a particular naturalist recognizing it as such. So?
Finally, if he recognizes that he lacks this vantage point for things outside himself, is he then logically admitting that, assuming there is a fixed fact, he cannot ever identify a fixed fact as such? With no two things alike in the world, we should be unable to reason from our past experience to our future ones. This applies to the present as well.(I assume that by "fixed fact" you mean aseity.) I don't see how your two concluding sentences follow from whatever it is your argument is saying. Is this just an observation that induction cannot be certain?
P: (and, there surely must be something that is an immediate cause of something else; to deny this would make the logical problem of infinite regress a picnic by comparison).I don't see how my point is answered by any of your invocations of directness, power, or epistemology. Why must any thing (event? fact? what?) have a "direct cause"?
H: the principle of sufficient cause -- that every event must have a cause -- is not obviously true,...
P: I did not say (nor mean) 'everything', nor did I mean to say 'events' when I used the term 'something'. I said "something must be the direct cause of something else". My emphasis is on 'direct'. I thought that was plain, since I began all this by saying that I'm dealing with the metaphysics of power. And, for what I hope are very obvious (even if left implicit) reasons, I am necessarily dealing, here, with epistemology, too.
H: a more fundamental analysis is at the level of explanation rather than cause.No, what I'm saying is that, for our purposes (viz., of answering "why?" questions), the concept of an explanation generalizes the concept of a cause.
D: Then no explanation has (a) cause(s)? I'm not sure what you mean here, but tell me if the following is a correct rephrase of your meaning. 'Explanation is more fundamental for understanding things than is any conception of causation.'
P: We cannot stand to live in continual uncertainty about the objective truths - and thus the objective falsehoods - of the realm of concern that we take to be the ultimate objectifiable realm.By 'uncertainty' here I mean lack of knowledge, especially lack of certain knowledge.
H: I think the fear of uncertainty explains more about religion than it does about naturalism.
P: I would be very interested to know, in some detail, how you qualify that statement. Just as there is more than one sense in which the term 'probability' may be used, there is more than one sense of 'uncertainty'.
H: ...far too many people lack the training or discipline or courage to deal with what modern philosophy tells us about knowledge and certainty and the problems thereof.No. For my opinion of Wittgenstein, see here and here.
D: Do you include, perhaps, Wittgenstein's epistemological views?
I reply to some of that (complete with the text replied to) here.I could join that Yahoo Group, but I avoid forums that are not among the public and archived parts of the web.
all have both science and religion (rely-gion), although the term 'religion' is today often used for belief in a supernatural and in a particular set of attendant beliefs.Sigh. Did you not read my link about faith? Religion indeed means any system of belief based on faith or mysticism, or involving worship of or reverence for some deity. Faith and religion must indeed be embarrassing if their only defense is to claim that everyone is guilty of them.
physical science has an inseparable philosophical component, and that is what we are debating here. They are two sides of one coin.Science depends on the epistemological principle of skepticism, and any "conflict" between science and religion is really a conflict between skepticism and faith (or mysticism). Religion can be made superficially compatible with science by restricting itself to questions that are a) scientific but unanswered or b) philosophical. However, religion can never be compatible with the skepticism on which science -- and all epistemologically valid philosophy -- is built.
H: Faith is belief based on revelation and exempt from doubt.It's specious to define 'faith' as any occasion in which not all evidence about X is univocal and paradigm considerations (i.e. evidence about evidence) play a role in ultimately deciding between X and not-X. This is yet another facile attempt to make 'faith' into a meaningless label that makes no practical distinctions whatsoever. However, I've no interest in forcing my definition on you, so let's just agree that whenever we use the term we will make it clear which definition we intend.
P: If 1)the evidence known to a given person (call him P) that he believes bears on a given case 2)seems to him to compel conclusion x 3)while he would otherwise conclude y, 4)then this person shall conclude x 5)unless he holds paradigm PM where PM is contrary to x. Unless you wish to maintain an essentially arbitrary definition of 'faith', PM is a case of faith on the part of P.
Nobody is devoid of faith, for faith is a belief in something or someone as the foundation for all matters of dispute and doubt (even if the person recognizes that he does not fully understand that thing or that someone).H-faith is not simply any confident reliance on authority, because an authority can be relied upon even confidently without being held exempt from all doubt. H-faith is not simply any provisional hypothesis believed without complete evidence, because a proposition can be provisionally believed without being held exempt from all doubt.
But, there is no foundation that is incapable of being doubted by the one who, for whatever reason, is determined to stand on it.Of course. But some people nevertheless hold their foundation exempt from doubt, and I define them as having 'faith'.
I myself readily doubt every major position, and every problem from every position, simply because I cannot help but see cognitive loopholes in all of them.If you have no beliefs based on revelation and exempt from doubt, then you do not have what I call 'faith'.
On the one hand you seem to choose, for your foundation, that thing which is not even solid, namely knowledge of the third-person phenomenological world, otherwise known as the physical world. On the other hand you seem to deny that foundation in favor of epistemology, which is distinctly about reason and not purely about your own observations of the physical world.I don't know what you mean by "solid" here, and I don't know what "denial" you have in mind. Can you quote something I've written to clarify what you're talking about? Feel free to refer to the Philosophy section of my book in doing so.
The essential value of the first of these two 'foundations' is the positivistic: [...] Thankfully, implicit philosophical hypocrisy is not directly fatal, although this makes its case-lesson so easy to fail to learn, and to fail to teach the next generation to avoid.I'm sorry, but I don't understand your point here.
P: (There is really no more of a miracle in the fact that a man is raised from the dead than that he is alive to begin with. Both are equally miraculous, or equally non-miraculous)I don't know what you mean by "power" -- obviously not the time-rate of energy. :-)
H: This statement is simply not defensible, except by taking a specious sense of 'miraculous' to mean 'impossible'. They are obviously not equally probable or equally improbable.
P: By 'miraculous', I do not have in mind the idea of impossibility, nor even your more-or-less positivistic notion of probability, but only the idea of power, and the existence of that power. Whatever can be made to move up from an objective point of function (unlike relativistic and empty motion) can be made to move back down, and back up again. The power involved in the process of deterioration of a human body, all the way to final death, is of equal power to that which was originally required to develop that body, from the occurrence of conception to the functional prime of life. To deny that this is the case would pose a problem for how such a denial can be physically argued, which would be a problem unique in all of theoretical physics. Will you even assert (much more argue) that these two power requirements are vastly unequal?
If you do think they are unequal, then how unequal do you think they are?See my essay on gospel probabilities.
Some people in Artificial Intelligence who think that a life can be multiple-ly realized are making the tacit claim that the power here is equal. If the power is equal, then how is raising a body from the truly dead of any greater power?I still don't know what you mean by "power", but you're obviously using some in-principle qualitative similarity to wish away an obvious quantitative difference in probability.
You can simply assert that this is not obviously true, but without an argument to back up that assertion, you have lost this debate.Sorry, but saying "my hypothesis is more null than yours" does not constitute winning such a debate. The nomological possibility of multiple realizability can easily be argued from the state of our current knowledge about neurophysiology, computability, and physics. However, I'm not presently interested in arguing it.
H: I suspect this is ironic only to someone who is trying to reconcile the conclusions of rationality with the cherished belief that rationality is a gift of god(s).The supposed irony you identified does not obtain for atheists.
P: I'm not sure what you mean.
While this debate is not about design and evolutionism, I strongly recommend you read an article entitled: Evolution's Logic of Credulity: An Unfettered Response to Allen OrrSorry, but debating Intelligent Design theory is not a priority for me, mainly because so many theists don't even defend it. However, I will note how hilarious it is that the God of the Gaps argument has retreated from its former example phenomena to the humble bacterial flagellum. :-)
P: the presumption on the part of man that his one great deliberative power, the ability to dominate the physical world by way of its physical laws, is sufficient to prove all things.Then please be more careful when you write "prove all things" in a discussion about epistemology. Be especially more careful about using the word 'all'.
H: Anyone who thinks that the human mind "is sufficient to prove all things" is simply ignorant of what we know about minds and their limits.
P: I do not mean "sufficient to resolve all disputes", but rather "sufficient to prove worth disputing what is really worth disputing"
in the sense of non-culpability before an objective God for rejecting Him in favor of the "best proofs of science".Whose words are those? Not mine. Again: Anyone who thinks of science as an alternative to religion is making a basic mistake. Science is not a worldview, and any "conflict" between science and religion is actually an epistemological conflict between skepticism and faith.
P: If some hypothetical entity cannot be probed or manipulated, then, says man, that entity either does not exist, or could as well not exist.The fact that we might be wrong about our causal relationships is not a good reason to say that arbitrary hypothetical entities exist.
H: Relax your phrase "be probed or manipulated" to say just "ever have a causal relationship with us", and you have precisely the definition of existence that is dictated by the principle of parsimony. Without such parsimony, you have no way of deciding which of the infinitely many logically possible causally-isolated things exist or don't exist.
P: How does this parsimony relate to the problem of an objective entity of any kind? Failure to identify such an entity as such does not mean that such an entity has no causal relationship to us.
And, if you grant that there is a great problem in epistemology, then how are you not as an algorithm to its axiom? Can an algorithm prove its own axiom as such? You logically admit either that there must be an axiom of all existence (and that your argument can be wrong), or that you are arguing in vain in any case.I don't understand what you're saying.
I do not live in uncertainty about what are at least some of the objective ethical and logical truths, even though these and others I do not cognize so dogmatically that I ever fail to see how I may not understand them fully in as far as their relationships to the current world (refer to my reply, mentioned above, which I gave to some of Wittgenstein's epistemological problems in ethics.I again don't understand, perhaps because I haven't read your link.
Judging by your replies, I get the impression that you tend to mistake all Christians as holding to the 'revealed' "straight and narrow path" of "the simple truth" with a simple, narrow mind.I take the word "all" very literally, and you have definitely misread me here. Again: when construing my position, please type a quotation mark, paste something that I wrote, and then type another quotation mark. :-)
All the world is alike in its motive to destroy (directly, or by way of suppression) much actual good in an effort to gain what it perceives as a much higher potential good.Vague.
Contrary to atheist spokesman Richard Dawkins, this exact motive for the 9/11 attack in NYC is not unique to 'religion'.Arguable, depending on how the motive is described. (It should be obvious by now that I think imprecision is the cause of almost all apparent disagreement.)
The "Divine Command Theory" of the foundation of ethics is wrong, but so, in my view, is the diametrically opposed theory, namely Neo-Darwinism.I agree that the naturalist fallacy does not vanish merely by invoking Darwin's name.
At the start, the person who wished to disprove omnipotence [..] reject it as a whole fallacy.Sorry, I didn't understand these paragraphs at all. It sounds like you're reading way too much into the omnipotence paradox, which I classify as a simple self-reference paradox. You also seem to treat Logic as something more than just a formal way of studying valid inference.
Some of the best learning you can ever do is the result of hunting for your hidden assumptions.Amen.