November 01, 2006

Bad philosophy still makes my head hurt

This is what happens when smartass atheists who've read too much analytic philosophy try to talk religion. Only analytic philosophers could misunderstand pantheism this spectacularly:

So if God = Everything then Everything = God. If I am a ‘thing’ and ‘every | thing’ is God, then I am God. Now, if you are saying that ‘Everything’ is the sum total of ‘every | thing’, then I’m a part of God, sure, but that then brings up this question: Did God create himself?

The only answers are ‘yes’, in which case explain to me how that’s logically possible, or ‘no, God has always existed’, in which case you’re first assertion falls apart:

1Premise: God is Everything
2Premise: God has always existed
Conclusion: Everything has always existed.

1Premise: Everything has always existed.
2Premise: If something has always existed, it’s infinite.
Conclusion: Everything is infinite.

1Premise: Everything is infinite.
2Premise: I am a part of Everything.
Conclusion: I am infinite.

So if God is Everything, then I am infinite.

The metaphysics here is just terrible (bad philosophy of time, worse philosophy of causation), but metaphysics is pretty much always terrible IMO. The fact that someone with a BA in philosophy equivocates on "everything" so egregiously is downright embarrassing. (For the equivocator, and for the faculty that actually let him get away with a BA.)

Bad philosophy of science is also embarrassing:

In order to accurately define God, one must not believe in the existance of God. This gives what scientists call “objectivity.”

Anyone who is a scientist and asks a theist what God is and then denies or challenges the answer is no scientist. This is because scientific thought looks at a differant perspective than do theistic thoughts. From the perspective of a theist (not all apply to all beliefs), god is. God is the creator, the magical everything and nothing that binds us. God is life after death and a meaning to it all. That’s a fact of a perspective. Trying to turn that into science is illogical just like taking a metaphore litterally is illogical.

Anyways, here's the thing. When trying to argue with theism (or pantheism or what have you; anything, really), you can't throw a smarmy little syllogism at the particular definition that's offered up. Good philosophy has to start with charitable interpretation of one's interlocutors. And charitable interpretation means giving them the benefit of the doubt: assume they're reasonable people doing their best to articulate a difficult idea. Once you have a good, solid understanding of, eg, what Aquinas means when he says that God is the being whose essence is identical with its existence -- including why this definition is supposed to be a good one -- then it's time to tear it to pieces.

What we see in this thread isn't philosophia or dialektikos; it's eristikos.

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