Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rejecting Truth

It's the time of year again!  Our Diag Preachers are out in full force during the month of September, with their signs and milk cartons and business cards and pamphlets.  And let's not forget, of course, their preaching: we're all going to Hell.  What I find funny is that I think that I am getting more recruits than they are, during the time they're preaching.  I got 28 people so far in the past couple weeks to sign onto our email list from the crowds watching these guys vent.

Anywho, there's a particularly funny argument that I felt the need to write about, much like I did last year regarding Infinite Regress (precisely one year and one day ago, in fact!).  One of our preachers this year has come from Canada to espouse his arguments that he's detailed on this website,  You actually may have heard of it before, I stumbled onto it several years ago and had forgotten it since.  The MO of the website is a simple "choose your own story," and we're going to do just that, and discuss what we come up against along the way.  It's actually been a long while since I've done this, so—Scout's honor—I'm going to write as I click the buttons for my own journey through, and try not to spoil it by remembering too much.

Question 1!

"Proof That God Exists: Truth"
1) Absolute Truth Exists
2) Absolute Truth Does Not Exist
3) I Don't Know If Absolute Truth Exists
4) I Don't Care If Absolute Truth Exists
Well let's think about this for a second.  What does absolute truth mean?  Does it mean something that is uniformly true?  Does it mean "absolute truth" in the sense of conclusions derivative from sensible axioms?  Does it mean something that is true regardless of our experiences, be they grounded in any sort of observation or not?

It seems that the answer to each is at worst "probably": we have good reason to suspect that gravity behaves in the same fashion across space-time for instance.  We also use logic all of the time, so the idea of deductive truths does hold truth (sorry), though you could argue that the choice of axioms is mistaken—take for instance the rise of non-Euclidean geometry.  And I guess there could be something that we can't know, like whatever solipsistic brain-vat theory you could conjure up.

I know that I don't not care about whether or not absolute truth exists, and I know that I don't know that it doesn't exist, so I'm going to choose the third option *presses button*:

Question 2!

"I Don't Know If Absolute Truth Exists"
1) Absolutely True
2) False
Um... do here we reach a strange problem.  For starters it seems unfair to give me the "I don't know" out beforehand, but not offer it this time.  I mean seriously, I just gave solipsists the benefit of the doubt, do they no longer count?  Maybe I don't know if I don't know; this would fit well with some interpretations of Romans 1, that nonbelievers are suppressing their knowledge of God, so as this guy's likely a presuppositional apologetic, I don't see why this was left out.

But I certainly can't choose False, that would contradict what I said.  But it seems like "Absolutely True" is a trap, a bit of trickery with meanings.

If we're defining absolute truth as something as arbitrary as "there exist contrary positions on subjects and it is absolutely true that at least one of them is wrong", then sure there is "absolute truth."  We can probably define this in terms of probability of events,

Given sample space S,

 and given events

then when running the experiment, the situation that one E was realized and another E was not shall satisfy an "absolute truth" criterion, and shall be satisfied each time an experiment is conducted.  By virtue of things just happening (as things are wont to do), the set of absolute truths [A] is non-empty and contains elements that we can sort into a subset called "tautologies [T]" (as they're always true by definition of, and execution of, the experiment).

To help us actually, it may be more appropriate to store absolute truths as sets of ordered pairs: the first will be the event, the second element will be the probability of observation, some real number in [0, 1]. The second element in each ordered pair in T will be 1: the probability of there being a non-realized event given execution of an experiment for which there was >1 events in the sample space is 1 by definition.

We'll also add each successfully actualized event as an element to the set of "absolute truths", in its own subset mutually exclusive from T that we'll call "observables" [O].  Each observable will have some probability of observation associated with it, and this probability will take into account if we were even looking for it, error in our instrumentation, so on (likely to lie somewhere between [0, 1), but perhaps including [1]).  We'll call an object in A a "conventional absolute truth" if it is not in T and whose second element is arbitrarily close to 1.

That is not a very useful definition though.  I find myself with no choice either way: *presses button*:

Question 3! uhh... Question 1 pt. 2:

"This is not a glitch. (Think about it.)"
1) Absolute Truth Exists
2) Absolute Truth Does Not Exist
3) I Don't Know If Absolute Truth Exists
4) I Don't Care If Absolute Truth Exists
Well bugger, yes he just did this to us.  Fine, we'll have it your way and use this silly definition, there's absolute truth *presses button*:

Question 3 (for reals)!

"Proof That God Exists: Knowledge"
1) I Know Something To Be True
2) I Don't Know Anything To Be True
YES!  I get a chance to be solipsistic aga– wait a minute, I see what you're trying to do there.  Nice try, but I'm NOBODY'S fool!  We're sticking with this definition *presses button*

Question 4! (oh dear this one rambles a bit)

"Proof That God Exists: Logic
(subtext) You have acknowledged that absolute truth exists, and that you know some things to be true [I mean, sorta, it seems like a safe bet that some experiments have been run and that non-zero events mutually exclusive to others in their sample spaces have occurred, but I don't necessarily know which events are which, nor "know" whether this definition is true given, again, solipsism, but...].  The next step toward the proof that God exists is to determine whether you believe logic exists.  Logical proof would be irrelevant to someone who denies that logic exists [Sure, I guess that makes sense.].  An example of a law of logic is the law of non-contradiction [Except in the case of quantum superpositions, which is pretty relevant for the God question just by itself, but we're grown men so we can be macroscopic.].  This law states, for instance, that it cannot be both true that my car is in the parking lot and that it is not in the parking lot at the same time, and in the same way[?]."
1) Logic Exists
2) Logic Does Not Exist
Well I don't really see any good reason to say logic does not exist (maybe not in a tangible sense, like I can't touch it, but we certainly find it handy to conceptualize it).  So *presses button*:

Question 5!

"Nature of Logic (a)"
To reach this page you have acknowledged there is absolute truth, that you know some things to be true, and that logic exists.  Next we will examine what you believe about logic.  Does logic change?"
1) Logic Does Not Change
2) Logic Changes
It's sort of worth pointing out that logic does change, especially as certain logical tools get invented (like prior and posterior probabilities—<3 Bayesian statistics), but that may be more than what this guy was going for, and so long as nobody develops new logical tools while I'm writing this, sure! *presses button*:

Question 6!

"Nature of Logic (b)
To reach this page you have acknowledged there is absolute truth, that you know some things to be true, that logic exists and that it is unchanging.  The next question is whether you believe that logic is material or is it immaterial?  [...]"
1) Logic is Not Made of Matter
2) Logic is Made of Matter
Welp, sort of already answered this in Question 4 *presses button*:

Question 7!

"The Nature of Logic (c)
To reach this page, you have acknowledged that absolute truth exists, that you know some things to be true, that logic exists, that it is unchanging and not made of matter.  The next question is whether you believe that logic is universal or up to the individual.  Are contradictions invalid only where you are,and only because you say they are, or is this universally true?"
1) Logic is Universal
2) Logic is Person Relative
Universal I guess.  I do have to stop here and wonder what he's getting at though.  None of this is actually leading anywhere—there is absolutely nothing that even points toward a beginning for a proof of God, aside from us agreeing very thoroughly that we have the capability to notate one should it not contain logical flaws.  This is the most basic starting point, only barely above asking if we both spoke the same language to communicate to each other in. *presses button*:

No More Questions (The Proof!)

"The Proof...
To reach this page you have admitted that absolute truth exists, that you can know things to be true, that logic exists, that it is unchanging, that it is not made of matter, and that it is universal.
Truth, knowledge, and logic are necessary to prove ANYTHING and cannot be made sense of apart from God.  Therefore..."
1) The Proof That God Exists

...Fucking A, *presses button*


Now this isn't claimed completely without support.  There's a link below, let's follow it. *presses button*

Why is God Necessary For:

Knowledge: (para.) Because something we don't know could contradict something we do know.

No!  We have already agreed that contradictions are not possible.  Something we don't know can *seem* like a contradiction, but that is not because both A and ~A are true, but because the probability of accurate observation is actually never equal to 1 (remember the sets I set up before?).  God does not reveal knowledge to us anyway, everything we've learned we've found through observations and experimentation and logic.  What role does God serve?  To exist contradictions do exist?  Whenever we find something that seems contradictory, we have always come to a better understanding and have developed a more accurate and encompassing theory.

Truth: (para.) Because truth is an abstract concept, not brain fizz.

Abstract, yes!  But this is truly the solipsistic POV you're taking if you think that a human brain must exist in order to satisfy any of the conditions of absolute truth that I named above.  Merely something has to exist at all, merely something has to happen, and you get tautological truths.  And while the probability of observables actually being observed drops to zero when you don't have people, that an event happened can only be rejected if you don't think that the universe exists outside of your own conscience.  "Truth" is subjective insofar as our ability to place probabilities, not the universe's ability exist.

Logic: (para.) Because God is immaterial and unchanging and universal.

This simply does not follow.  Logic is immaterial because it is a set of concepts, a set of ideas; it is unchanging because of the extraordinary use in the axioms that we choose, and trust we put in them when they produce results that match our theory; it is universal because we all communicate as a species and communicate why our axioms are better or more useful than other axioms.

This is just like saying that somebody that designs cars must also be made out of metal, have 4 wheels, and be able to tune into FM radio.  No!  This is an extremely faulty way of thinking.  It is extremely illogical.

I actually did expect better from this website.  But of course, that teaches me to trust these seasonal preachers, doesn't it?  He gave me a card to contact him so he could debate someone in our group, I don't think I will waste our time.


  1. I think this website is Sye Tenbrugencate's project.

  2. Just checked. Yup, it's him. That explains the extreme rigor and intellectual honestly that's been worked into every bit of this page.