Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nietzsche's Skepticism

Since I wrote up two posts on Friedrich Nietzsche, I thought I would share this great post by Hendrik van der Breggen (at APOLOGIA) on Nietzsche's skepticism. He summarizes Nietzsche's views on truth and knowledge and then gives his critique of those views. Hendrik teaches philosophy at Providence College in Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada.

An excerpt of Breggen's post:

"Also, when Nietzsche says God is dead and not relevant, Nietzsche presumes that these non-existence and non-relevance claims are true—so Nietzsche’s claim about God indirectly refutes his denial of truth. Moreover, when Nietzsche sets out his will-to-power theory, he is presuming a truth position about this theory/interpretation actually being either simply true or pragmatically justified, which again indirectly refutes his denial of truth. Furthermore, when Nietzsche claims that there are only interpretations and no facts, he presupposes this claim to be in fact true, once again indirectly refuting his denial of truth.

Nietzsche’s perspectivism is similarly problematic. On the one hand, if there is no truth, then perspectivism isn’t true. On the other hand, if there are only perspectives (interpretations), then the thesis that there are only perspectives is a perspective too—one among many. So why go with it?

In other words, as philosopher Paul Copan points out, perspectivism faces a dilemma: “The perspectivalist either (A) says something trivial and thus not worth paying attention to (‘it’s all perspective, but that’s just my own individual perspective’), or (B) contradicts himself (‘it’s all perspective—and I’m speaking for all perspectives—so if you disagree, you’re wrong’).” Either way, perspectivism falters.

But perhaps Nietzsche (or a present-day postmodern disciple of Nietzsche) might reply that there is a missing option: (C) it’s all perspective, but it’s pragmatic for us all to accept perspectivism, for the sake of life. It turns out that this option is problematic too.

First, if C is set out as a truth and not merely a useful claim, then C self-refutes. That is, C would be set out as a non-perspectival truth claim about the usefulness of perspectivism, a claim that transcends perspectives, which C precludes (because, according to C, it’s all perspective).

Second, if C is not set out as a perspective-transcending truth, then the result is a debilitating infinite regress. That is, for us to accept C, C too must presume a perspective that makes it pragmatic for us all to accept it; but, then, that perspective must presume another perspective which makes it pragmatic for us to accept the perspective about perspectives; but, then, that other perspective…and so on. In other words, there is an infinite regress that makes C unintelligible.

So, if option C is the case, then either there is a self-refutation or an infinite regress. Either way, C falters too.

In other words, Nietzsche’s claim that it’s all perspective, all interpretation, doesn’t hold.

Therefore, Nietzsche’s perspectivism does not block our knowledge of the world. As a matter of fact, the obvious remains: there are truths, there are facts, and many of these can be known (albeit fallibly and non-exhaustively).

Significantly, these known truths and facts serve as the ground for interpretation to occur in the first place, and this allows us to do science, history, natural theology, etc.—and apologetics."

Read the full post by clicking here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What is the basis of our values?

The focus of my study (other than studying TCP/IP in college) has been on morality. Is it objective? Do we need God for morality? Has morality come from evolution? Do objective moral values and duties prove the existence of God? This could be summed up in a question, "What is the basis of our values?" I found the question in William Lane Craig's book, "On Guard" and I thought that was a good question for this post, therefore, we'll look at Bill Craig's moral argument for God's existence. 
What is the basis of our values? Are they based on social convention? Personal preference? Evolution? God? I would argue that they are based on God. I believe there is good evidence for that, as I've covered the moral arguments for God from Kant, Sorley, Nietzsche; they all come to the conclusion that God is needed for the objectivity of morality. William Lane Craig covers the argument well, I obviously cannot cover it in this single post, but I'll summarize his argument and leave links for further reading. 
Bill Craig's argument is as follows:
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist. 
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists. 
A simple argument with a powerful conclusion. As Bill says in his book, "This simple little argument is easy to memorize and is logically ironclad."1 Generally, people believe the first two premises. Bill says that premise 1 seems correct to people because we live in a pluralistic age in which they're scared to death of imposing their beliefs on someone else. However, premise 2 seems correct to those same people because they believe it's objectively wrong to impose your values on someone else! Let's examine the premises more closely. 
Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
Moral value refers to the worth of a person or action, whether it is good or bad. Moral duty refers to our obligation to act in a certain way, whether that action is right or wrong.2 Now, lets define objective. Objective means independent of human opinion. Bill gives the example, "...the laws of nature hold whether we acknowledge them or not, so they are objective."3 Subjective means dependent on human opinion, e.g., matters of which baseball team is better, or taste, whether pizza or good or not; subjective is person-relative. 
Now, on to defending premise one. I've learned in studying the moral arguments for God, traditionally moral values have been based on God because He is the highest Good. If He doesn't exist, what is the basis of moral values? Why think we have moral worth? Naturalism (the most popular form of atheism) holds that the only things that exist are the things that can be tested by scientific theories. Science is morally neutral, so you can't find morality there. What follows then? That moral values are illusory, they don't exist. 
On a naturalistic view, there cannot be objective moral values. Man has developed a "herd morality" in order to survive, just like animals, so there is objectivity to morals on this view. Consider what Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man,
"If...men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering." 4 
So, for the naturalist to think morality is objective, then he is committing speciesism, which is an unjustified bias to one's own species. 
I'll use Bill's own conclusion here:
"So if there is no God, any basis for regarding the herd morality evolved by Homo sapiens as objectively true seems to have been removed. Take God out of the picture, and all you're left with is an apelike creature on a speck of solar dust beset with delusions of moral grandeur." 5 
I'll cover more of this premise and the rest in later posts. So, what do you think? Do objective moral values and duties exist? Does Bill's argument convince you? 

1. William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), pg. 129
2. ibid, pg. 131
3. ibid, pg. 131
4. Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2nd edition (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1909), pg. 100
5. William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), pg. 144

Moral facts or moral beliefs?
God and Morality Debate: William Lane Craig vs. Torbjörn Tännsjö MP3 Audio 
Dinesh D'Souza vs. Peter Singer Debate: Can There Be Morality Without God? MP3 Audio 
William Lane Craig's book On Guard 
Paul Copan, Why Science Can't Explain Morality 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What is a democrat?

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don't yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don't yell at the person who didn't write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.

What is….

I am starting a series called, “What is..”. And it will be more in general terms, and thoughts, than in deep thoughtful work. The topics I will cover deal with politics, What is a Democrat? A Republican? A liberal? A Conservative? A Progressive, or a Tea Party Member. We hear the terms tossed around, on Fox News, and with disdain on MSNBC, CNN CBS, NBC, ABC, but what are they really?

So, I will try to answer those questions, for those who may have them, and see if maybe someone can make some sense of all this political brouhaha.

So, What is a Democrat?

I have to admit, for the most part, I have always known that a Democrat is someone who doesn't believe what I do. “They” are to the ‘left’ of the political spectrum. So, I am kind of excited to find out what it is that they truly believe, and who knows, maybe we are closer to somethings than I have previously thought.  But on the main points, I know we don't share the same beliefs. I don't believe in Abortion as a form of birth control, and they seem to. I also don't think I have the right to tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body, and again, they seem to. So, what do “they” believe.

Well, the first site I went to online, talks about the differences between Republicans and Democrats, and this seems to be a very well written site. Democrats are “Centrist to the Left of the political spectrum, While an individual voter may not agree with every position taken by his or her chosen political party, a Democrat tends to believe in a progressive social agenda, workers' rights, diplomacy over military action and a clear separation between church and state.[i]

Okay, based on that, what does it seem to say? Progressive Social Agenda, well that explains why Homosexual groups are mostly Democrats, as they see them as having the ability to acceptance for their choices and their ways of life. Yet, there are Homosexual Republicans, so as a ‘group’ they don’t see things in a complete harmonious agreement. Therein lays an interesting viewpoint or question, should it be up to the Federal Government to decide how people can live their lives? Where does the intrusion end? Is it right to dictate what happens in the bedroom between two consenting adults?

We see where Progressives and Democrats take a stand on issues that follow their party dictates. Some Progressives see President Obama as one of their own, not as a Democrat, but as a Progressive, because he is suppose to ‘Change’ the world and the way we, America, are viewed in it. And as a Democrat in the United States Senate, he was the most liberal member there, which is saying something when you have Ted Kennedy or Harry Reid in the Senate, or comparisons to Nancy Pelosi or Barney Frank in the House of Representatives.

There are reports in the news, and with some of my Facebook friends, about how some feel the President Obama didn’t go far enough with Health Care, and hasn’t moved fast enough with his Progressive, and some say a Socialist agenda. Which leads me into the next aspect of What makes a Democrat…

Workers Rights, now this is a touchy subject with me, having been in two different Unions, as a condition of employment, not by choice. Well, one was by choice, but they were going to take Union Dues out of my paycheck even if I hadn’t joined, and with power tools being involved, having some kind of backing isn’t always a bad thing, even though it had totally inept leadership up at the top of the union.

By saying that Democrats are for this and Republican’s are not, makes it sound like Republicans are soulless individuals who don’t care about the individual worker, which I have never seen to be true. Taking Workers Rights back to the Health Care Debate, how is it fair for someone to HAVE to supply Health Insurance to their employees? For the small business man, it is a death blow. Health Insurance IS NOT guaranteed by the Constitution, nor was it ever intended to be. So, some person has an idea for a business, they open a shop or a store, and they have a success, YAY! That should be celebrated, not killed. If they chose to expand their business, they hire someone, they have, HAVE TO PROVIDE Health Insurance for their employees. When I worked for McDonnell Douglas, even for the money they were making, the cost of Health Care was outrageous, and the cost to the employees themselves was pas the point of cheap. I had 100% coverage for 2.49 a week, while making 15 dollars an hour.

Republicans do care about the workers, and providing for the workers, but they also have to answer to shareholders, or the bosses don’t have jobs. So, are Unions totally bad? No, they had their purpose and time, and they were, sad to say, NEEDED due to how owners took advantage of the labor work force in the later part of the 1800’s to early 1900’s. Massive profits were being made, while the worker had deplorable conditions to work in. Look at the coal mines in Kentucky and West Virginia, Black Lung was killing workers, who lived in a company town, and all their money went to what the company wanted, housing costs, food costs, clothing costs, and God forbid you had a family. No health care for the employees, and if you got hurt, you got tossed, and a fresh person was brought in to take your place.

What about now since we have arrived in the 21st Century? Do we really need to pay 3 dollars for a dozen eggs at the local Kroger due to having to provide benefits for their employees and families? Well, sadly, in some industries, YES, that kind of protection is still needed, because the Federal Government, which can’t decide the simplest of things, cannot protect the workplace for American workers. Greed and shareholders send jobs overseas where they don’t have the regulations and can turn a massive profit, and they can buy a new yacht for the summer season. There is a National Relations Labor Board, but they are toothless, and can easily be pushed around, because the Federal Government is more concerned with our sleeping habit, or I should say, our bedroom habits to be concerned with the Work Habits of its people. So, on this aspect, yes, there is work to be done, and some smart people need to get on it, but please, don’t let them say, “We’re here from the government”.

Okay, now, diplomacy verses a military action. There should always be a willingness to talk over war, but what happens next? When Mr. Obama took over the White House, he chose to say that we need to find diplomatic solutions to the problems of the world, and that he would get right on that. Cool, how’s that working for ya?

Iran, they have pretty much ignored what has been said, what has been done, and are going ahead with Nuclear Energy, Plutonium Enrichment, and well, we ALL know they are going to make a bomb. A REALLY BIG MOTHER TRUCKIN BOMB. And there is nothing we can do about it. How many Democrats voted for invasion of Afghanistan after 9-11 when the Taliban had taken credit for what had happened? Who REALLY wanted Al Gore Jr. in the White House to say, Hey, We are sorry for your grievances, let’s get together and talk things out…

No one. Well, maybe a few, but they are still out there smoking their ‘crops’ and still in a haze. Would it have been better had no of this happened? YES! When dealing with a group whose only concern is to force their views and beliefs on the rest of the world, by hook or by crook, by death, destruction, murder, killing of innocents, even their own innocents, well, welcome to the real world, there are times with it is war to protect those we care about.

Democrats like to say it is someone else’s problem, or concerns, and they aren’t responsible. REALLY? FDR brought us Social Security, I have paid into it for 33 years and it won’t be around when I come to collect it. It is a SOCIAL ENTITLEMENT, which we can no longer afford, like a One Payer Health Care System, Medicaid, Medicare, but the way to pay for it is to take the money from those who have earned it, as long as it isn’t their money, and who cares if it puts people out of business? That is their problem for having the American Initiative, the drive and hope for a better future for their own.

But then, what would I know? I am only a Republican; I OBVIOUSLY don’t care about people, right?


These are my thoughts, and how Mark C’s it.

[i] http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-democrat.htm

Friday, November 5, 2010

Guest writer Mark to do a series on politics...

The guest writer here at Reformed Seth, Mark, will be doing a series of posts tentatively called, "What is..." and each post will be on different political platforms/ideologies. For instance, "What is Republican?" will be one post and Mark will give a survey of that party. Another might be, "What is Liberal Ideology?" I, like you, am looking forward to this series even though I have a good idea of terms and platforms, I'm sure Mark will bring his winsome authorship to the details of the terms in a fresh way. If you're new to politics, you'll especially enjoy it and if you're not new to politics, read the posts and comment, to dialogue with Mark.

I'm not sure when the first post will be done, hopefully it will be soon. As soon as he emails the article, I'll post it here.

Check out Mark's other work here at Reformed Seth.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wintery Knight's Morality Series

Over at Wintery Knight's blog (a blog you should visit daily), he has a single post that indexes everything he has written on atheism and morality. Since morality has been the recent focus here at Reformed Seth, I'm recommending Wintery Knight's morality posts to you. His focus was whether atheists can adopt the moral point of view rationally, when it goes against their self-interest to do so. He actually surveyed atheists as well to get results for his study. It's very interesting. 

Check out WK's study on atheism and morality here

Monday, November 1, 2010

How Mark C's It...

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express an opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.

In this wonderful country that we live in, The United States of America, we have a Constitution, and a Bill of Rights. Sadly, those documents aren’t read by everyone the same way. Some see it as a guideline, that is to be interpreted by any whim, political poll, or Politically Correct breeze that flows through the land.

Well, the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights says, "Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”[1]

So, we shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion, which most will agree simply means we shall not show backing of one faith over another. That we won’t take Christian’s over Catholics, or Mormon’s over Islam, that we recognize the right for different faiths to exist within the framework of the Constitution and United States. GREAT! Until a liberal or progressive gets a hold of it, then suddenly it takes a severe turn for the worst.

I was wondering the other day, with that Amendment already laying out the law of the land, how is it that we continue to have this fight/discussion/discourse all over the place. So I posed this question on Facebook, and wanted to know about the separation of Church and State, and this ‘Wall of Separation’ that was supposed to exist. I was sent the following link, which led me to this topic for today’s thoughts.

Wow, what an eye opener. The phrase of Wall of Separation was coined by Thomas Jefferson, but not in the manner that it is used by the liberals and progressives to strip us of our faith and Christian Heritage, and to try to beat believers over the head saying that we are not a nation founded by Christians or with Christian principles. I could not, in any way, shape or form, due a summary or do justice to the importance of this article, and the proof that it brings to simple facts, that Jefferson was more interested in the separation of FEDERAL powers, like trying to force a nation to buy Health Insurance, and State powers, which were by the framers of the Constitution supposed to have more control then the Federal level.

This is shorter than I expected, but I am curious as to what others think about the simple statement that the Wall of Separation is indeed not about faith, and government, which let’s face it could use all the faith in the world to correct it, but about how the Federal Powers to govern those of us who have the right to live here instead.

These are my thoughts, and how Mark C’s it.

[1] http://topics.law.cornell.edu/constitution/billofrights