A Theory of Legislation: A Christian Perspective

President Calvin Coolidge said that the law must rest on "the eternal foundations of righteousness."
President Calvin Coolidge said that the law must rest on "the eternal foundations of righteousness."

Introduction

A prominent question in political theory has been to ask, “Who should rule in society”? Who should make the rules that govern us all? Who should legislate? For Plato, it was the philosopher; for Erasmus, the virtuous; for Machiavelli, the powerful; for Lenin, the proletarians with power secured for them by a vanguard party.

But before we can ask "who should rule in a society"?, we must establish why anyone has a right to rule at all. Unless you believe that “might makes right” there must be some ground for human authority. In a word, God.

Founding father, James Otis, "Parliaments are in all cases to declare what is for the good of the whole; but it is not the declaration of Parliament that makes it so: There must be in every instance a higher authority, viz. God."
Founding father, James Otis, "Parliaments are in all cases to declare what is for the good of the whole; but it is not the declaration of Parliament that makes it so: There must be in every instance a higher authority, viz. God."

God is the Ground of Legislative Authority

As Creator, God is the ground for all rules that bind men. He has made known His will through a moral law that is a reflection of His character. A part of the task of government is to make laws based on God’s moral laws. God’s moral laws come to us in the form of divine commands that bind us. Furthermore, God has given us an intuitive grasp of these commands as a part of the “law written in our hearts…” We often refer to this "law written in our hearts" as "conscience." This “law written in our hearts” is that set of divine commands that we find revealed in the Bible, commands that prohibit such acts as killing and stealing.

Governments are under these divine commands because God has both the power and the right to make rules that bind all men. He has the right in the sense that he is the Creator of all things. As an act of His sovereign right and power, God has delegated to government the authority to impose penalties on the violations of these divine commands. In western democratic nations, we have mostly delegated that function of lawmaking to the legislature.

What's Binding; What's Not

Many today, including many Christians, are confused about what aspects of the Bible are binding upon a society and what aspects are not. First, let’s deal with what is binding. God’s moral law is binding; this is not optional. Men are to pass laws that reflect God’s rules given in the form of commandments. Rules prohibiting theft, murder, sodomy, and kidnapping, for example, are not optional. Rulers must impose these sanctions on society; it is a moral obligation as God has stipulated that these are the rules that govern all men, wicked and righteous. It is the violation of these rules that defines a man as an “evil doer” and makes him subject to the revenging sword of the civil magistrate as spoken of in Romans 13.

But, not every rule or proclamation mentioned in the Bible is to be imposed by civil authority. The message of the gospel is not to be imposed. Doctrinal beliefs (such as the Trinity, belief in the Resurrection) are not to be imposed by the law. The state is to use the sword to punish wrong behavior, not wrong belief. God gives to the state and the church ways of dealing with offenders in their orbit of authority. The state bears the sword; the church, rebuke, and possible excommunication. The church is to make the distinction between the saved and the lost; the state makes the distinction between the lawful and the unlawful. Both church and state are under God, but each serves a different role.

Parliament "cannot make marriage a crime, murder a duty, or falsehood meritorious." ~ Paul Johnson
Parliament "cannot make marriage a crime, murder a duty, or falsehood meritorious." ~ Paul Johnson

Translation, Not Creation

God has given to men the authority to make laws that reflect His righteous character. However, strictly speaking, men do not make laws. Rather, they translate the law of God into their own society. As historian Paul Johnson notes,

The phrase 'a society under God and law' is appropriate because Parliament is not the primeval legislature. It does not, and cannot, create law from nothing. Rather it inherits, and interprets, a system of moralistic law, much of which is enshrined in the organic corpus of Common Law. Hence we might define the function of Parliament as making the necessary adjustments between the system of fundamental law and the changing needs of society. Its primary function is therefore as a revising body: it is a law-making body only in a secondary sense. It cannot make fundamental law. It cannot make marriage a crime, murder a duty, or falsehood meritorious. [1]

So legislatures are bound by a “fundamental law” but this law is not a law of their making. Today within democratic states, there is the idea that the legislature can make any law that it pleases so long as it’s done by lawful process and has the people’s approval. The foolish laws that we see coming from legislators and the waste of the people’s money comes from the hubris that there are no fixed standards of moral behavior. Far too many legislators believe that if they want to pass a law, and if they can get away with it, they are at liberty to do so regardless of whether or not that legislation violates fixed standards of morality. Sadly today, we have a group of legislators that think that they can spend money without regard to paying the bills. All the while, they continue to pile up the national debt as they mortgage away their children’s future as they curry more votes to themselves.

Now more than ever, we need a generation of men and women who understand God’s fundamental law and will insist that their rulers abide by God’s standards of righteousness. However, that will not be enough. The best way to change policy is to change the policymakers. Men and women of godly character that are aware of God’s fundamental law will need to run for office and reverse the irresponsible policies of our current governments.

Political Philosopher Jay Budziszewski Discusses Natural Law

In Summary....

In summary, laws must conform to a moral standard, a standard that is set by God. As President Calvin Coolidge put it: “Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundations of righteousness.” These “eternal foundations of righteousness” have been imparted to man by their Creator in the form of a moral law, a law that man is intuitively aware of. As political theorist Jay Budziszewski puts it, it is a law that man "cannot not know." The early view was that man did not actually make laws, but rather he discovered them. As public administration scholar, Richard Stillman put it:

Our Tudor institutional heritage saw law as divinely inspired, not man-made. It was ‘discovered,’ not humanly created: unchanging, not changeable. This was a characteristic medieval idea of all authority as deriving from law.’ In short, the idea of fundamental law was based on a premodern concept—namely that the law makes the king, not the reverse. [2]

Legislative authority, then, is grounded in an eternal law, not upon the power of the strongman or the “will of the people.” It is incumbent upon the people of free nations to choose representatives that will act wisely, that will treat their time in office as a public trust and make laws that are grounded on the “eternal foundations of righteousness.”

Notes

[1] Paul Johnson, The Recovery of Freedom (London: Blackwell, 1980), 179.

[2] Richard J. Stillman II, Preface to Public Administration: A Search for Themes and Direction (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 25.


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Comments 26 comments

wba108@yahoo.com profile image

wba108@yahoo.com 3 years ago from upstate, NY

"Rules prohibiting theft, murder, sodomy, and kidnapping, for example, are not optional. Rulers must impose these sanctions on society; it is a moral obligation as God has stipulated that these are the rules that govern all men, wicked and righteous."

I believe this to be an important point, as an elected representative you are still accountible to God's higher law and cannot just claim that you represent the will of the people.

"Both church and state are under God, but each serves a different role."

Well said, you can't compartmentalize God, He's either Lord of all or nothing! But as you mentioned the state is under God but its authority serves a different role and extends only to actions and not beliefs.


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"We don't decide morals; we act or do not act in conformity to them."

We always decide morals Bib. It seems that you would like to avoid the responsibility that goes with that, and leave the heavy lifting to some other authority, but it's actually us that decide on that.

"No, I'm not going to offer a "justification" for it"

Good, because there isn't one.

"We know some things to be right and others wrong. We know that charity is good and child molestation is wrong."

Exactly! We know these things instinctively without having some authority dictating them to us. I'm sure yours and mine vary to some degree, but we both understand it's wrong to steal, to murder, to torture others, to hate. We all understand instinctively the Golden Rule. I submit that if a person understands that, the rest takes care of itself. If a person doesn't, then he has a defect in his being.

"I'm sorry, but you're just not important enough to choose whether certain actions are right or wrong."

Of course I am. Within my reality I have to make those choices. All of us do whether we'd admit it or not. I just don't leave my morality in the hands of those who presume to know what's best for me. I'm perfectly capable of making those decisions for myself without the need for some authority to make them for me. For the most part, society and I are in synch. However when we as a country decide to go to war without a just reason, or to torture our enemies, we part company. I never abdicate my resonsibility for my actions to some authority. And I resent the government inserting itself into the personal lives and moral decisions of the people.

"You get to choose your actions; the morality of such actions are out of your reach."

All my actions are informed by my sense of morality. Not something dictated to me by others. Frankly I don't trust my morals to others. What can they tell me of morality? Why would you? Don't you trust your own ability to make those decisions on your own?

"Furthermore, you should not call them "morals"; they are merely your choices."

Sorry, but all my actions are dictated by my own sense of morality. They're inseparable.

"Under your thinking, acts like molestation are merely the choices of their perpetrators and our prohibitions against such actions are just choices as well. I guess if you decide that molestation is right and charity is evil, then it is?"

Nope. I think those things are wrong. They don't fit morality as I see it. Fortunately most of society is in agreement with that.

I think I pointed this out before, but people who hold close to some theory of rationality at this point usually ask weird questions, like, “what if a man believes the moon is made of green cheese?” or “why should I accept that cold blooded murder is wrong?”

They feel as if without some theory of rationality they will be lost without a rudder at sea. However, it is perfectly acceptable NOT to believe the moon is made of green cheese, even if you don’t have a theory of rationality. It is perfectly acceptable to hold that cold blooded murder is wrong even without a theory of rationality. It’s as if people who want a theory of rationality think they need permission to think this way or that. They don’t. My own take on morality isn't really that different from most people. But as you pointed out earlier, ""We know some things to be right and others wrong. We know that charity is good and child molestation is wrong." How do we know that Bib? Do you really think it's from Biblical Laws? No. Not everyone believes in the Bible. It's something else. We seem to be born with something that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Empathy, and reason.


Bibowen profile image

Bibowen 4 years ago Author

Adagio,

We don't decide morals; we act or do not act in conformity to them. No, I'm not going to offer a "justification" for it. We know some things to be right and others wrong. We know that charity is good and child molestation is wrong. You can offer whatever epistemology you want to explain how we have an immediate intuition of them.

I have to admit; most megalomaniacs try to hide their hubris. I'm sorry, but you're just not important enough to choose whether certain actions are right or wrong. You get to choose your actions; the morality of such actions are out of your reach.

Furthermore, you should not call them "morals"; they are merely your choices. Under your thinking, acts like molestation are merely the choices of their perpetrators and our prohibitions against such actions are just choices as well. I guess if you decide that molestation is right and charity is evil, then it is?


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"We don't decide what is right and wrong."

Of course we do. Apparently you think some authority outside of you does that heavy lifting for you. Do you need a law, Biblical or otherwise, to tell you that murder is wrong?

"We don’t decide that loving a baby is good and that torturing one for fun is evil."

Yes Bib. We do. To deny that, is to fail to take responsibility for your own morality. Do you need somebody else to tell you that? What if they weren't around to give you those guidelines? Would you think differently? Would you suddenly think that torturing a person was fun and good?

"We might agree that the former is good and the latter is evil, but our consensus or agreement does not make them any more or less so."

That's true. It doesn't. We decide on that.

"A person that does not recognize this is morally challenged."

According to who? You're making an absolute statement here. What are you basing that truth claim on?


Bibowen profile image

Bibowen 4 years ago Author

"As for right and wrong, that's pretty subjective. We decide on that. We come to consensus agreement on what we consider right or wrong."

Adagio,

We don't decide what is right and wrong. We don’t decide that loving a baby is good and that torturing one for fun is evil. We might agree that the former is good and the latter is evil, but our consensus or agreement does not make them any more or less so. A person that does not recognize this is morally challenged.


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"It’s hard to believe that Popper’s not-so-subtle regime of requiring falsification has snuck by you as a truth claim, shrouded in elite acceptance"

A truth claim? Lets run this question by you. " Can God make a stone so large he can't throw it?" Is that a truth claim?

"I’m not sure how telling me that a progressively-leaning Supreme Court adopting falsificationism rescues it from irrationality (unless you’re going to tell me that “science is defined by whatever scientists do.”)."

I'm not sure what "progressively-leaning Supreme Court you are referring to? Certainly not the Roberts Court. It's a conservative leaning court as everyone in America already knows. A Progressive leaning court would never have ruled in favor of Citizens United. As for the definition of science...who do you think defines that? The Church?? Science tells us what science is. Who else would do that?

"In summary, you have tried to indict my offering God’s existence as a ground for rationality, claiming that my reasoning is circular. I have responded by saying that my reasoning is not circular"

Really? Saying that it isn't doesn't seem to change that logical problem. What is your belief based on? You must be basing it on some authority. What is it? What is the basis for the authority of that belief? I said this before; beliefs must be justified by an appeal to an authority of some kind (usually the source of the belief in question) and this justification by an appropriate authority makes the belief either rational, or if not rational, at least valid for the person who holds it. However this is a requirement that can never be adequetly met due to the problem of validation or the dilemma of infinite regress vs. dogmatism. You can't prevent that process without eventually saying that you are using the belief to justify itself. That's circular. You're looking square into the eye of the abyss with your statement.

"Belief in God is no more “circular” than my believing that I, other minds, or that right and wrong exist."

Whether it's "more" circular, or "less" circular is really irrelevent and doesn't change the fact that it's circular. As for right and wrong, that's pretty subjective. We decide on that. We come to consensus agreement on what we consider right or wrong.

"These things can’t be independently “proven” either. But to deny my own existence is irrational. The same goes for denying God’s existence for the reasons I’ve already given."

God cannot be subjected to falsification. It's metaphysical. However your existence can be demonstrated. Gods cannot.

"You have offered “falsificationism” as a regime for testing existence claims, but falsificationism fails for the reasons that I gave above"

The reasons you gave make no sense. You're using apples to try to disprove oranges.

"I might also add that no one tests foundational claims by using a regime of falsifying them."

A "regime"? Oh well...However your statement here is false. Sience does it all the time. Your own foundational claims have been undergoing that process right here from the outset. Your claim with this article is based on a positive methodology. Positive methodologies have about as much humanity as a software program. Positive methodologies are automatic. They tell people exactly how they must judge the truth, so that they need *not* judge the truth. I’ve never known a positive methodology that actually works. What I have known are several people who are dogmatic and dictatorial because they think they have a positive methodology. Moreover, as I pointed out before, the positive methodology can’t demonstrate it’s own truth. It’s own standards can’t justify it’s own standards. So those with positive methodologies either have to resort to circular arguments or hypocrisy or both. I'm afraid your article does that. It is well written however.

I think we learn by imaginatively thinking up new ideas, new values, new approaches, new positions, then once they are mature enough, subjecting them to criticism. As this is a negative methodology, it need not resort to circular arguments of justification and is therefore not hypocritical. Nor does it attempt the impossible task of taking the burden of judging the truth off our individual shoulders. We only shift ideas when criticism is brought to bear on them and better alternatives are presented. No idea is ever proved or justified.

"Who goes around trying to falsify their own existence or the existence of other persons?"

Your statement indicates you confuse falsification with refutation. Nbbody I'm aware of is refuting their own existence let alone the existence of others.

I see a major difference in our thinking. You hold a theory of rationality. You need only apply this theory of rationality to whatever assertion is in question. As such, you need never distinguish between truth and falsity. Your theory does that for you. In other words, having a theory of rationality to distinguish truth from falsity for you, in this case, A Theory of legislation from a Christian perspective, you need not do it yourself. Your Christian perspective provides that for you.

I have no such theory of rationality, I must distinguish between truth and falsity myself. I need to distinguish between the truth and falsity in every case, at least when such a case comes up for questioning.

If such a theory of rationality existed and really worked, the truth would take care of itself. We would never have to decide anything. I suggest that we always *must* decide, such that there can’t really be a method, or meta-method, at least not in any *positive* sense.

Certain Christians perhaps assert that their method for deciding truth is to listen to God, divine inspiration, or to trust the word of God as presented in the bible. Some scientists say we should use induction, some Christians divine inspiration or the Bible, Buddhists perhaps emphasize meditation … hopefully you get the picture. Rather than rely on human judgment, actual judgment is placed upon some theory of rationality.

I suggest, that there simply is no *positive* method whereby we can obtain the truth. Not only this, attemping to hold to such a *positive* method might narrow our viewpoint such that the quest for truth is made more difficult. In an attempt to get our decision about the truth to fit with some narrow view of what the method of truth *should* be, we will be restricting ourselves in a way that is unnecessary. After all, there is no one method that is the end-all-be-all of obtaining truth.

Ultimately determining truth is something inexplicable that humans do. There’s no way to figure out how they do this, such that it can be condensed into a sure fire algorithm. There’s no way to create an algorithm that would determine truth.

I accept that people can make progress towards the truth. This is taken as a working assumption. (It’s open to criticism.)

Theories of rationality using induction are a bit like this: First, we look at particular cases. When we note a pattern that is repeating itself, after a certain number of repetitions of a *particular* our theory of rationality tells us to classify it as a universal. After many observations of “a swan is white” I classify “all swans are white.” as true. Of course that's been found to be false. We found Black Swans in Australia. I find a black swan. I now hold that there is at least one black swan. That’s a new idea for me. New ideas if rejected, of course, don’t really come into conflict with older ideas. There’s no rule that says we *must* take on board any new idea. What we must do is look for new ideas, or think them up, and then take them under consideration.

As we take on new ideas, we bring them into conflict with the old ones. The sorting process leaves us closer to the truth. The more we can do to facilitate this process the better we can do at getting nearer to the truth.

One way to facilitate this process is to argue against *positive* methods for obtaining the truth, which overly restrict our viewpoints, which is pretty much what I've been doing here. An important thing to note is that holdi


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"You have also failed to address the ongoing critique of falsificationism, namely, that its claims collapse under the weight of its own requirements"

Bib...you don't seem to understand that it makes no claims. The critiques of falsificationism have come from those that don't understand it. And I can tell you who those might be. Carnap for one. Wittgenstein for another, and the Vienna Circle in general. The Logical Positivists. Foundationalists. I've tried to explain to you that it is a form of Modus Tollens. That's a valid deductive logic form. Logic isn't a belief system. It doesn't care about beliefs. It's very cold regarding that. It's math. I have to assume that you do accept the principle of non-contradiction. That goes back to Aristotle. You said yourself that God cannot be God and Not be God. Why not? Because that is a contradiction. Denying that would be irrational, and that contradiction presents the ability to criticize the claim. Can God make a stone so large that he can't throw it? That presents an unresolved contradiction. Is that a belief system? Is that a Truth claim? Of course not. You might as well say that logic fails because it can't justify itself logically. That isn't what makes it rational. It's the ability to contrast opposites. That ability allows us to criticize claims. Falsification isn't a proof system. It isn't a truth claim. Most people that don't understand it, assume it to be a Refutation. That's NOT what it is. It makes no claim. What it does is present a contradiction that needs to be resolved by the person that is making a claim. As long as you continue thinking of it as something it's not, there isn't much more to say. I'll tell you what...demonstrate for me the truth of what you are saying. You say this; "that its claims collapse under the weight of its own requirements". Demonstrate the truth of that claim. First you'll need to tell me what claims are being made. What is the basis for the claim that YOU are making regarding falsification?


Bibowen profile image

Bibowen 4 years ago Author

Adagio,

It's remarkable that you do not distinguish between what a belief system is and what it says. You keep wanting to inundate your analysis with what these belief systems say. You say they are not truth claims, but then you proceed to tell us what falsificationists believe to be true about the nature of science or how the scientific program ought to proceed. You have also failed to address the ongoing critique of falsificationism, namely, that its claims collapse under the weight of its own requirements.


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"(1) Both are truth claims and (2) both contain internal contradictions that make them untenable as a ground for any knowledge claims, let alone any claims of existence."

First of all, they both are not truth claims. When you speak of verificationism, you are speaking of a philosophy known as Logical Positivism. It's a result of Foundationalism. Traditional ‘bedrock’ foundationalism said that knowledge must be justified in order to be rational, and it attempted to justify our knowledge by deriving it from an indubitable and infallible source.

The positivists all agreed that our knowledge must be justified in order to be rational, whereas the Critical Rationalist says arguing that scientific knowl¬edge cannot, and need not, be justified at all, and by saying that it is rational not because we have justified it, but because we can criticize it. Any attempt to justify our knowledge must, in order to avoid infinite regress, ultimately accept the truth (or reliability) of some statement (or faculty, or person) without justification. But again, the fact that the truth (or reliability) of this statement (or faculty, or person) is accepted without justification means that we attribute to it an authority that we deny to others. So, the main problem of philosophy is the critical analysis of the appeal to the authority of ‘experience’,precisely that ‘experience’ which every latest discoverer of positivism is, as ever, artlessly taking for granted.

Here is the problem with that logic. The observation statements that report our experience never entail the truth of a strictly universal statement (or theory). So universal statements (or theories) cannot be justified (or verified) by experience. But it takes only one genuine counter-example to show that a univer¬sal statement is false. So some universal statements (or theories) can be criticized (or falsified) by experience, or, at least, by the acceptance of observation statements that contradict them.

Popper concluded that it is falsifiability, and not verifiability, that distinguishes empirical science from metaphysics. And then, by pointing out that there is a logical asymmetry between universal and singular statements, so that universal statements can be falsi-fied, but not verified; and singular statements can be verified, but not falsified, he showed that the distinction between science and metaphysics cannot coincide with the distinction between meaningful and meaningless statements, because if a statement is meaningful then its negation must be meaningful as well.

The growth of science is both empirical and rational. It is empirical because we test our solutions to scientific problems against our observations and experience. And it is rational, because we make use of the valid argument forms of DEDUCTIVE logic, especially the MODUS TOLLENS, to criticize theories that contradict the observation statements that we think are true, and because we never conclude from the fact that a theory has survived our tests that it has been shown to be true. Falsification is never making a truth claim as you suggest.

Philosophers typically present the problem of induction as a problem of justification: as the problem, namely, of whether the premises of an inductive argument justify its conclusion, or, at least, our belief in its conclusion. But the conclusion of an argument and our belief in it are two different things.

However, the real problem with inductive arguments doesn't have anything to do with justification at all. And this is what I here want to explain.

If the problem of induction were a problem about justification, then there should also be a problem of deduction. For it is well known that valid deductive arguments may have both false premises and false conclusions. For example, the syllogism that you offered earlier. The premises must be true for the conclusion to be true, and your second premise cannot deliver that.

So it is clear, if justifying the conclusion means showing it to be true, that deductive arguments never justify their conclusions.

The real problem is that the assumption of the truth of a statement cannot justify anything. If you have to assume the truth of your premises in order to justify your conclusion, then you might as well assume the conclusion itself. This is what you did with your premise in your syllogism. You assumed the truth of your premise to justify your conclusion.

Neither inductive nor deductive arguments can show that their conclusions are true. If this is what it means to justify a conclusion, then neither inductive nor deductive arguments justify their conclusions.

Here, someone might regard inductive arguments as worse in this respect. For valid deductive arguments would justify their conclusions, if we could be certain that their premises were true. Inductive arguments, on the other hand, are not even valid. Their conclusions may be false even if their premises are true.

If the premises of a deductively valid argument are true, then its conclusion must also be true. But this does not mean that the premises of deductive arguments are true. It simply means that deductive arguments entail their conclusions. And this fact may be equally expressed by saying that if the conclusion of a deductively valid argument is false, then one or more of its premises must be false as well.

Deductive arguments entail their conclusions and inductive arguments do not. OK..A valid deductive argument entails its conclusion. But it cannot justify its conclusion unless we are certain that its premises are true. The problem with inductive arguments pertains not to their utility for justification, but to their utility for criticism. Inductive arguments are one and all invalid. The falsity of their conclusions is entirely consistent with the truth of their premises. And this means that inductive arguments, unlike their deductive counterparts, could not justify their conclusions even if we were certain that their premises were true.

Deductive arguments force us to choose between the truth of their conclusions and the falsity of (one or more) of their premises. Inductive arguments do not. This, in and of itself, does not show that anything is true or false. But if an argument is deductively valid, then we simply cannot, without contradicting ourselves, deny its conclusion unless we also deny (one or more of) its premises. In this way, deductive arguments enable us to exercise critical control over our scientific debates.

Far from enabling us to exercise critical control, inductive arguments deprive us of it. Since their premises do not entail their conclusions, the falsity of their conclusions gives us no reason even to question, let alone to deny, the truth of their premises.

Consider the situation. We assume the premises that we do because they seem to be obviously true. But their truth may suddenly seem doubtful if they are shown to entail statements that seem more obviously false. If a statement is a deductive consequence of premises, then it cannot be false without (one or more of) those premises being false. But this is not true of inductive arguments. And this is why they are useless for criticism.

The premises of an inductive argument seem obviously true, otherwise they wouldn’t be assumed as premises. And the conclusion of an inductive argument is not entailed by them, otherwise it wouldn’t be inductive. The argument itself says that its conclusion is true because its premises are true, or, at the very least, that you should believe that its conclusion is true because you believe that its premises are true. But the conclusion of an inductive argument does not follow from its premises.

So there is no reason at all for our confidence in the truth of those premises to change if we should think that the conclusion that is ‘derived’ from them is false.

It is not just that the falsity of the conclusion of an inductive argument does not force us to deny (one or more of) its premises. It is that the falsity of the conclusion gives us no reason to even question the truth of its premises. We believed those premises to be true


Bibowen profile image

Bibowen 4 years ago Author

Yes, there is a difference in verificationism and falsificationism as your primer on the philosophy of science has noted. But they are identical in these two respects: (1) Both are truth claims and (2) both contain internal contradictions that make them untenable as a ground for any knowledge claims, let alone any claims of existence.

What’s remarkable, in your trying to indict me for making unsupported truth claims, is that you turn around and do the same thing. It’s hard to believe that Popper’s not-so-subtle regime of requiring falsification has snuck by you as a truth claim, shrouded in elite acceptance. Furthermore, it's not a truth claim that can withstand its own requirements that existence or knowledge claims must be falsified. I’m not sure how telling me that a progressively-leaning Supreme Court adopting falsificationism rescues it from irrationality (unless you’re going to tell me that “science is defined by whatever scientists do.”).

In summary, you have tried to indict my offering God’s existence as a ground for rationality, claiming that my reasoning is circular. I have responded by saying that my reasoning is not circular: we accept God’s existence, in part, to escape irrationality. Belief in God is no more “circular” than my believing that I, other minds, or that right and wrong exist. These things can’t be independently “proven” either. But to deny my own existence is irrational. The same goes for denying God’s existence for the reasons I’ve already given.

You have offered “falsificationism” as a regime for testing existence claims, but falsificationism fails for the reasons that I gave above. I might also add that no one tests foundational claims by using a regime of falsifying them. Who goes around trying to falsify their own existence of the existence of other persons? Even if falsification could withstand the weight of its own demands (which it can’t) it still does not conform to how we approve those perceptions of existence that impose themselves on us.


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"As for your claims about verificationism (and it's cousin, falsificationism), these belief systems are self conflicted. Neither can withstand the scrutiny of its own claims. Falsificationism fails because it cannot be falsified."

Verification is quite different from falsification. Verificationism is the central idea of logical positivism. Carnap and the Vienna Circle are well known for this approach. The verification or confirmation of theories can easily be found if one simply makes one’s theory comprehensive enough. The world is full of verifications of a theory.Whatever happens always confirmes it.

The reason that falsification doesn't fail is because it too can be criticized.

Falsifiability was one of the criteria used by Judge William Overton in the McLean v. Arkansas ruling to determine that 'creation science' was not scientific and should not be taught in Arkansas public schools as such (it can be taught as religion). In his conclusion related to this criterion he stated that "While anybody is free to approach a scientific inquiry in any fashion they choose, they cannot properly describe the methodology as scientific, if they start with the conclusion and refuse to change it regardless of the evidence developed during the course of the investigation." That is the problem with religion. It admits no new information. Science does. Religion doesn't define science. Science defines science.

It was also enshrined in United States law as part of the Daubert Standard set by the Supreme Court for whether scientific evidence is admissible in a jury trial.

You should understand that Popper considered falsifiability a test of whether theories are scientific, not of whether propositions that they contain or support are true. Falsifiability isn't about proving any theory as being true. It's about determining if it's false. But even the methodology used in determining that, is open to criticism. Albert Einstein is reported to have said: No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong. He's speaking of falsification.

Today, the prevailing philosophical fashion in America is to denigrate truth, objectivity, and rationality in favor of irony, subjectivity, and solidarity. We live in a world of Identity Philosophers. Today, the fashion is not to reason critically in an effort to discover truth, but to embrace a paradigm, or a form of life, or a linguistic framework, or an ideology — and to commit ourselves dogmatically to its beliefs. Today, we are told that a rational comparison of competing theories is not so much difficult as impossible. And today, we are drowning in philosophical ‘arguments’ that are riddled with linguistic impressions, appeals to authority, veiled threats, and ad hominem critique.

Such methods will not help us to discover truth. But they may help to forge solidarity. Solidarity is clearly not truth. But it is, or so the fashionable philosophers assure us, a reasonable facsimile.

Identity philosophers are abundent. It's not that they don't see truth as a value. It's that they dont' regard truth as the most important value. They see solidarity to the group as the most important value. That makes them dangerous.

I can well imagine that solidarity could be innocuous — if through the free exchange of ideas we all just happened to agree. But solidarity can be downright frightening when it is forged through the power politics of communalism. For when communal solidarity becomes too powerful, it can easily impede the freedom of thought and the growth of knowledge. And if we are truly concerned with the freedom of thought and the growth of knowledge, then it may even be our philosophical duty to oppose solidarity and communalism when they threaten to become powerful enough to do so. I find this solidarity and communalism rampant in today's Republican party; especially the Tea Party faction.

"Besides, I'm not sure about your line of thinking that "God does not have limits." He may not have limits in the sense that He's non physical. But there are certainly limits that apply to Him. He cannot not exist. He's not me. He cannot lie. He cannot be other than what He is."

And he cannot make a stone so big that he can't throw it. But why can't he lie? Is he bound to some morality that pre-exists himself? If not then he is the fountain of morality and anything he does is moral, including...a lie. Apparently there are some logical problems with being God. God has limitations. So we worship a limited God. I thought he'd be more than that. Perhaps it isn't God, but how we view God, which is through our own human limitations. Our anthropological lens. Maybe we're all wrong about this. Think that's possible? After all, we are fallible human beings right? That makes us all prone to error. What do you think the chances are of our being wrong about something as vast as the concept of God?


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Bibowen 4 years ago Author

As for your claims about verificationism (and it's cousin, falsificationism), these belief systems are self conflicted. Neither can withstand the scrutiny of its own claims. Falsificationism fails because it cannot be falsified.

Second, my statement about a "potential infinite" was not a reference to God, but to the example. Besides, I'm not sure about your line of thinking that "God does not have limits." He may not have limits in the sense that He's non physical. But there are certainly limits that apply to Him. He cannot not exist. He's not me. He cannot lie. He cannot be other than what He is.


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adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"I've heard this characterization before, but it's just that: a characterization."

It's not a charactorization Bib. It's a logical syllogism. The justification is based on circular reasoning.

"A person that denies God must believe that the universe came from nothing and that morals are simply choices that we make in the evolutionary struggle for survival. And I am suggesting to you that such views are irrational."

I see. Do you believe that the universe is infinite Bib? Yes or no?

"There are some beliefs that we hold that we might say are "properly basic" such that to deny them is to deny rationality."

Properly basic? First, By what appeal to authority is it determined to be "proper"? Who decided this? Secondly can you demonstrate the truth of what you're saying here? I may have pointed this out before but beliefs must be justified by an appeal to an authority of some kind (usually the source of the belief in question) and this justification by an appropriate authority makes the belief either rational, or if not rational, at least valid for the person who holds it. However this is a requirement that can never be adequetly met due to the problem of validation or the dilemma of infinite regress vs. dogmatism. You're looking square into the eye of the obyss with your statement. What is the basis for your claim?

"The existence of God and morality are two such beliefs. To deny them takes you into irrationality"

What makes that statement true? What is it based on? I'm sure you believe that, but what makes it true? Understand that I'm concerned with Truth here. So...can you demonstrate the truth of your statement?

"Alvin Plantiga has done some work on this and I'll refer you to his work if you want to explore this subject further."

I'm not interested in Alvin. I'm interested in you demonstrating the truth of your claims.

"So I start with God as the ground of all reason"

I understand that. But what do you base that on? That is your appeal to authority. I get it. But what proves that there is a God, so that we can all know and use this as a ground for all reason? What are you basing this starting point on? What justifies this as a basis? Because the rest of your argument hinges on this as being factually accurate. You're going to make some claims that require me to accept your basis as real and demonstably true.

"Those that deny him embrace irrationality."

Why? You haven't presented a rational explanation for your source yet, and you want to skip that part and jump to the claim that those that deny your irrational claim are the irrational ones?? Who's fooling who here Bib? Do you think that this kind of reasoning is going to escape me? I think you know by now that it wont.

"Furthermore, I have not used the Bible to justify my claims; I have used it to inform as to what God says."

Really" To inform as to what God says? For what end? For what purpose? What is the purpose of "informing me of what God says". And you're not using the Bible to justify your claims?? Really? You wrote this:

"First, let’s deal with what is binding. God’s moral law is binding; this is not optional. Men are to pass laws that reflect God’s rules given in the form of commandments. Rules prohibiting theft, murder, sodomy, and kidnapping, for example, are not optional. Rulers must impose these sanctions on society; it is a moral obligation as God has stipulated that these are the rules that govern all men, wicked and righteous. It is the violation of these rules that defines a man as an “evil doer” and makes him subject to the revenging sword of the civil magistrate as spoken of in Romans 13."

You are using Romans 13 to justify your article and you are now telling me that you aren't using the Bible to justify your claims? Claims that are all part of your article? Really Bib??

"I have no interest or desire to convince such people."

Bib...if you had no desire to convince those people, you wouldn't have written the article. Otherwise you're simply preaching to the choir.

"But for those that truly seek the truth, we are on the same page."

My advice is don't seek the truth, just drop your opinions. Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth.


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adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"Your line of thinking is flawed to a point. Just because a subject has the feature of being potentially infinite does not mean that we can't know true things about it."

It's not flawed, because that isn't what I'm saying. It's not flawed because it's not "potentially" infinite. It IS infinite. Let me know when we find the borders of God. When you do, I'll ask you, "is that all there is? I thought God would be more than that". What kind of God has limits? And you've misread my meaning. Of course we can know true things about the universe. But we can only KNOW those things when we eliminate what is false. We need something to compare truth to, in order to know it. That thing is falshood. That's what deductive reasoning does. It reduces things to their lowest common denominator. The deductive syllogism will give us an infallibly correct truth but only if the premises are true to begin with. That process is the process of deductive reasoning. Truth is too vast for anyone to hold in their hand. That doesn't mean we can't know it when we see it. It just means that we are only seeing one aspect of it.

"We can use mathematics as a proxy here. The numbers stretch into infinity in both directions, but that doesn’t mean that we can't know true things about numbers"

Yes. I already know that. But that in no way contradicts what I've said. Also,numbers are finite things. They are no more or less than what they are.

"If you think about it, any subject you undertake to learn is inexhaustible. But that does not mean that you are lost in irrationality just because you cannot plumb the full depths of the subject."

Here's where you get lost in irrationality. When you try to prove your theory's. Hume pointed this out in the 1700's when he put forth the Problem of Induction. Briefly, Hume pointed out that we can't justify our science inductively, and attempting to do so was irrational. This problem haunted philosophers for the next 250 years. How do we rationally justify our science since we use induction to try to prove our theories? The problem of course is that we can never know when we've exhausted all the possibilities that would prove them. So philosophers tried to solve the problem of induction, inductively.

Karl Popper is credited with having solved the Problem in the 20th century. Popper cut the Gordian knot by arguing that scientific knowledge cannot, and need not, be justified at all, and by saying that it is rational not because we have justified it, but because we can criticize it. That made all the difference in the world.

Popper argued that any attempt to justify our knowledge must, in order to avoid infinite regress, ultimately accept the truth (or reliability) of some statement (or faculty, or person) without justification. But the fact that the truth (or reliability) of this statement (or faculty, or person) is accepted without justification means that we attribute to it an authority that we deny to others. It ends in an appeal to authority without a basis, since the authority cannot be based on itself. That's circular reasoning. Popper argued that ‘the main problem of philosophy is the critical analysis of the appeal to the authority of ‘experience.

The observation statements that report our experience never entail the truth of a strictly universal statement (or theory). So universal statements (or theories) cannot be justified (or verified) by experience. But it takes only one genuine counter-example to show that a universal statement is false. So some universal statements (or theories) can be criticized (or falsified) by experience or, at least, by the acceptance of observation statements that contradict them. Popper concluded that it is falsifiability, and not verifiability, that distinguishes empirical science from metaphysics. God cannot be subjected to falsifiability, and is therefore a matter of metaphysics.

In this way, Popper argued that the growth of science is both empirical and rational. It is empirical because we test our solutions to scientific problems against our observations and experience. And it is rational, because we make use of the valid argument forms of deductive logic, especially the modus tollens, to criticize theories that contradict the observation statements that we think are true — and because we never conclude from the fact that a theory has survived our tests that it has been shown to be true. We don't prove theories. We falsify them. Those that are proven false are dumped. Those that withstand criticism, last until they are disproven at some other time if ever. The fact that they've lasted doesn't prove them. It only shows that nothing yet has disproven them.

I don't invest "belief" in things. I accept things on provisional basis until they are proven false. I don't subscribe to metaphysical beliefs. I'm kind of a fact based person. That way, I always know what I'm dealing with.

When somebody presents a political view to me or an economic view, I realize from the outset that it's all theoretical and that no theory can be proven. So I always look for things that might disprove the theory before subscribing to it.

When the view is based on ideology, I reject it outright. Ideologies are fixed and never admit new knowledge that might question their rationality. Religions are ideologies. They're theories of rationality which I don't waste my time with. They admit no new knowledge. I just can't accept religion as having any authority in my life. I really don't need the authority of religion to understand right from wrong.


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adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"Law precedes government; morality precedes law; and God precedes morality."

I appreciate you view,Bib, I just can't agree with it. You seem to be an advocate of Divine Command Theory.

Acording to Divine Command Theory, Gods will is the foundation of ethics. According to divine command theory, things are morally good or bad, or morally obligatory, permissible, or prohibited, solely because of God’s will or commands. Have you heard of The Euthyphro dilemma? This argument is named after Plato’s Euthyphro. The Euthyphro dilemma begins by posing a question: Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?

If the theist gives the first answer to the Euthyphro dilemma, holding that morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, then he faces the inpendence problem. That morality exists outside of God. If morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, then they must be morally good prior to and so independently of God’s willing them. This is clearly inconsistent with divine command theory; the divine command theorist must give the second answer to the Euthyphro dilemma.

If the theist gives the second answer to the Euthyphro dilemma, holding that morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God, then he faces the arbitrariness problem, the emptiness problem, and the problem of abhorrent commands.

The arbitrariness problem is the problem that divine command theory appears to base morality on mere whims of God. If divine command theory is true, it seems, then God’s commands can neither be informed nor sanctioned by morality. How, though, can such morally arbitrary commands be the foundation of morality?

The emptiness problem is that on the divine command analysis of moral goodness, statements like “God is good” and “God’s commands are good” are rendered empty tautologies: “God acts in accordance with his commands” and “God’s commands are in accordance with his commands”.

But what makes those actions or commands good if they are abitrary in the first place? What morality informs those actions or commands?

The problem of abhorrent commands is that divine command theory appears to entail that if God were to command abhorrent acts, malicious deception, wanton cruelty, etc.those acts would become morally good. Example; God telling Abraham to kill his son.

Unless a person accepts that there is a God, then your dictum can't be demonstrated as true. You're assuming the truth that your trying claim, and then using it as proof for your claim. I would ask you to demonstrate why what you're saying is true, without first proving the existence of God. Can you do that? No, of course not. It's integral to your claim. Your statement requires an acceptence of the existence of God as integral to your premise. That portion of your premise hasn't been demonstrated as true. Your belief in this doesn't make it true. My only interest is in what we can determine as true. We can't prove anything is true through inductive reasoning so the idea of looking for things to support your claim will never prove your claim. We must apply deductive reasoning to determine what is false, and remove those things that obscure the truth. We can't own truth. Nobody can. But we can get glimpses of it when we determine that which is false. God is a metaphysical subject. The very concept is beyond our ability to empirically prove or disprove. It's not something that is physically quantifiable. So, it's left to faith and belief. Those that believe that God exists do so based on faith...not empirical evidence. But that opens so many doors of interpretation to what the idea of God means, that we can't simply choose one as superior to another. Who can say what the correct concept of God is?? For me, God is Nature. It's not a being of any sort. It's the universe itself and all things contained in it. It's amoral. It makes no judgment on anything. We create the ethics and morality that exists. Nature simply does what it does without any regard for the morality of what it does. In my view, it makes the most sense. It's all powerful, nothing exists outside of it, it's endless, all knowledge is contained within it, and in my opinion it is becoming aware of itself through us. When it rains, it rains on the just and the unjust. The power of nature is such that nothing can withstand it. It meets all the requirments that I would have that define my understanding of a god. In fact, I don't think of it as God. I don't need to. I simply can't apply some anthropomorhic attributes to something like that. It strikes me as incredibly vain.


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Bibowen 4 years ago Author

Adagio,

You say,

"Furthermore, in the case of the United States, our founders set out to create a 'more perfect union'. Not a PERFECT union. They were wise enough to understand that was impossible due to their own fallibility. Attemtps at Utopean societies have never worked. We constructed a constitution which is a frame. But the inside of the frame is always being filled in with Amendments.

So, man is left to his own intelligence to grasp the Golden Rule and govern accordingly. In examining Plato’s question of “Who should rule”, we may be better by asking “How do we arrange our institutions to prevent rulers (whether individuals or majorities) from doing too much damage."

If you'll look again at my article, I was not referencing the form of government we choose, but rather the law and morality that must lay at the ground of any government, be it a democracy, monarchy, or a dictatorship. Law precedes government; morality precedes law; and God precedes morality.

Like you, I reject utopianism. God's law is not intended to "stop sin." But, if applied, it can greatly reduce the amount of crime so that civilization can flourish. And, like you, I also agree that, when it comes to governments, we should ask those questions that Locke and Montesquieu asked, namely, "how can we separate and arrange political power so as to reduce the potential for tyranny"?


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Bibowen 4 years ago Author

You say,

"It would seem that attempting to understand the mind of God is an attempt to understand the infinite, which is impossible. We can't know infinity because...well it has no borders. Our limited minds can't comprehend something beyond those limitations. We know infinity. It can't be confined or defined....So the question is how can a group of fallible men, determine the meaning of an infallible being? Is it possible that they may have gotten anything wrong? If they are fallible, the answer is yes. Being fallible, they are imperfect, and nothing perfect can come out of an imperfect source..."

Your line of thinking is flawed to a point. Just because a subject has the feature of being potentially infinite does not mean that we can't know true things about it.

We can use mathematics as a proxy here. The numbers stretch into infinity in both directions, but that doesn’t mean that we can't know true things about numbers. If you think about it, any subject you undertake to learn is inexhaustible. But that does not mean that you are lost in irrationality just because you cannot plumb the full depths of the subject.

Yes, God is infinite, but this in no way implies that we can't ascertain true things about Him.


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Bibowen 4 years ago Author

Adagio,

You say:

"Your argument follows this form of reasoning; 'God exists.' 'How do you know that God exists?' 'The Bible says so.' 'Why should I believe the Bible?' 'Because it’s the inspired word of God.' The so-called 'final proof” relies on unproven evidence set forth initially as the subject of debate. It's called circular reasoning. It's a logical fallacy."

I've heard this characterization before, but it's just that: a characterization. There are some beliefs that we hold that we might say are "properly basic" such that to deny them is to deny rationality. The existence of God and morality are two such beliefs. To deny them takes you into irrationality. Alvin Plantiga has done some work on this and I'll refer you to his work if you want to explore this subject further.

So I start with God as the ground of all reason. Those that deny him embrace irrationality. A person that denies God must believe that the universe came from nothing and that morals are simply choices that we make in the evolutionary struggle for survival. And I am suggesting to you that such views are irrational.

Furthermore, I have not used the Bible to justify my claims; I have used it to inform as to what God says. Even if we did not have a Bible, we can know that God exists and there is such a thing as right and wrong.

Those that deny God, He calls a fool. I have no interest or desire to convince such people. But for those that truly seek the truth, we are on the same page.


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adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"That’s why we have discussions like this. They’re premised on the condition that people don’t agree."

For me, an argument is an opportunity for two people to get closer to the truth, rather than simply looking for reasons to disagree. The main reason why your argument won't work is not because some may or may not agree with you. It's because you can't demonstrate why your claim is true. If it's truth that we seek, then why would I or anybody accept something that can't demonstrate it, yet holds it anyway. When pressed on this matter you'll offer a justification which is based on something. I'll ask you what the basis for the basis is, and you'll attempt to justify it with yet another basis, and on and on and on...into infinite regress vs. the dogma that you hold on to. There is no way out of that black hole, short of saying this is what I believe because I believe it. But you can't justify a theory by using the theory. That's just circular reasoning and logically false. To cling to that logical fallacy, knowing that it's a logical fallacy...is irrational. So...why would I want an irrational theory ir irrational people running my government? That would make me just as irrational, and I'm not.


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adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

This is strange...theres a post I did that's missing.


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adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"To imply that my view isn’t true because many people don’t agree with me doesn’t move me at all"

I'm not saying that it isn't true because many people don't agree with you. I'm saying that you can't demonstrate why your view is true, and that puts you in the same boat as others that would possibly want to do the same thing regarding their religion. Your religious view matters to you, but no more so than the religious views of others. The difference is that they aren't looking for a way to legislate their beliefs. You are.

"I could say that we should not accept your view of government, economics, etc. because many people don’t share your view of secularism or pluralism."

Well, I'm not sure what pluralism has to do with it, but as for secularism, all that means is that because we can't determine the truth of any religion, we are better served by not looking to any of them for governance. Roger Williams understood this. I'm not sure why 400 years later, there are still people today that don't get it. Williams, a Baptist minister,founded Rhode Island as the first colony that had religious freedom. A lot of people want Freedom of Religion, but they fail to understand the meaning of Freedom FROM Religion. You can't be free to practice your religion unless you are free FROM mine or the Tyranny of someone elses. That's sort of why the Pilgrims came over here in the first place, remember?

"Besides, no one needs everyone to agree with them to get the sufficient number of votes to pass a law in a democratic society."

You would use democracy to undo democracy? You must know that living under the religious laws of one particular religion is hardly what we'd call a democratic form of government.

"But the fact that the majority agree with me (or you) is irrelevant as to whether or not my claims are true."

I'm not suggesting at all that truth is a matter of a majority vote. It isn't. It doesn't matter what anybody thinks. The question is can you demonstrate the truth of your claims? Or are you simply expecting people to buy into what you're saying? Because that's just preaching, and we have plenty of those.

"So, I think that your argument that “people don’t agree with you” is a waste of time"

That isn't my argument. If people don't agree with you it's because you haven't demonstrated what makes your argument true. If you can do that, you'll have a better argument.


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adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

I love deductive syllogisms. Lets look at this one.

We can use this syllogism:

P(1)--Law must be based on morality.

P(2)--Morality must be based on God.

Therefore, Law must be based on God.

The deductive syllogism is infallibly true but ONLY if the premises are true. Unfortunately you haven't demonstrated the truth of your premise number 2. For one thing you can't demonstrate the truth of it because you assume the thing you're trying to prove. You must first prove that God exists before you can insist that morality is based on God. You can hardly make the claim that morality must be based on God without first demonstrating the existence of God. Before premise 2 can be demonstrated as being true, you'll need to prove that God exists. That alone renders the syllogism invalid.

"P(2) is more controversial, but that does not mean that it is a significant problem. If there is no God (or no word from God), then morality does not exist, not at least in the sense that we think of it. Morality implies a rule that must be obeyed, but what rules are there if there is no rule maker?"

Ok,now here we examine it more closely."If there is no God (or no word from God), then morality does not exist". Why not? "not at least in the sense that we think of it." Fine. Then perhaps we need to look at morality in a different way since we cannot demonstrate the truth of the conventional religious based claim.

"Morality implies a rule that must be obeyed, but what rules are there if there is no rule maker?"

Perhaps the Golden Rule might work for you. It's non-denominational and serves as a universal axiom. Every religion "gets" it. Every atheist "gets" it.

"So, law must have some divine sanction. If it does not, it's not law."

Do all laws require divine sanction? I think not. Does the Golden Rule for example not sound reasonable to you? Do you need a divinity to give it credibility? It's very easy and quite reasoned for me to say, I would not kill somebody because I know that I wouldn't want them to kill me. I don't require a Biblical Law to inform me of that. Do you? We have many laws in this country that aren't divinely sanctioned. Our speed limits have more to do with the Golden Rule than any divine sanction.

"That makes actions such as rape and torture merely opinions and not really wrong actions. If you want to throw God out of the equation, then whatever brakes we have on atrocities go out with Him."

Why? Can you demonstrate the truth of what you just said?Let me ask you this: Do you think that your values are demonstrable? You seem to think that we will all do whatever we want without subscribing to whatever it is that you are talking about, but what does it mean to say, “whatever we want”? Moreover, can you demonstrate the truth of “we will all do whatever we want if we can’t demonstrate the truth of our values”? You seem to be saying, people could behave immorally and they would be on par with moral people, after all no one could demonstrate the truth of their statements, so it would be merely a matter of arbitrary decision. That is to say, there would be no distinction between moral and immoral. Isn't that about it? Well...do you think your own decisions are arbitrary, then?

I for one don’t think values can be demonstrated as true. Is that not hypocritical? "If" you accept that humans have values, then it’s "their" values. They are not dependent on demonstration, otherwise, why would we consider them "our" values?

“Truth is demonstrable” logically entails that “truth is not determined by humans”. It would be like a huge stone that everyone could walk around, all seeing the same thing. Like in Mecca. If you hold that “humans decide about the truth” then you can’t hold that “truth is demonstrable.” These are mutually contradictory ways of viewing the world. To make it clearer we could instead say, “truth is determined by human judgment” or “truth is determined unequivocally by demonstration.” Not only are these two ideas incompatible, as truth is a value we as humans place on certain ideas or viewpoints, it makes no sense to say it can be determined by demonstration. It is determined by humans.

It certainly might be helpful to discuss how we made a particular value judgement. We might discuss certain consequences of holding or not holding the value. However as it is a value, it is determined by human judgement, not any particular demonstration. So there can be no basis or criteria or standard. Otherwise that would be to remove the human element from this. Truth is determined by humans, not criteria or standards or bases. Moreover, a criteria cannot be its own criteria. Again, it is an issue of responsibility. Even assuming you have a criteria you think is adequate, like perhaps the Bible, how did you determine that? Are you responsible for that judgement, or is the criteria responsible? Merely claiming a standard or a criteria or a basis does not help one to demonstrate the truth of values. Instead, it creates a certain amount of hypocrisy. If we claim a basis gives us truth, we then are making the implicit claim that truth requires bases. But then it is plainly obvious our own basis lacks a basis, as it cannot be its own basis. By claiming truth must be demonstrated by bases we undermine our own moral integrity. A similar case might be made for the Christian who says that miracles support his faith in God. Is that not hypocritical? After all, faith is faith. It does not require proof. Similarly, from a Christian perspective, if a person is “good” because he wants to go to heaven, is he not being “bad” as he is pursuing selfish ends. While I think that one can be willing to question “humans have values”, and therefore hold the position non-dogmatically, I don’t think that the notion that “humans have values” is logically compatible with “values are determined by demonstrations.”


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Bibowen 4 years ago Author

Adagio,

Many of your arguments can be reduced to this statement that you make:

“Now you must certainly know that not everyone shares your belief in God, or Christianity, or other religions either for that matter.”

I’m not sure why you’re making this statement; it doesn’t do any heavy lifting for your argument. To imply that my view isn’t true because many people don’t agree with me doesn’t move me at all. I could say that we should not accept your view of government, economics, etc. because many people don’t share your view of secularism or pluralism. Besides, no one needs everyone to agree with them to get the sufficient number of votes to pass a law in a democratic society.

This isn’t meant to undercut the need to garner support for a policy in a democratic society. But the fact that the majority agree with me (or you) is irrelevant as to whether or not my claims are true.

So, I think that your argument that “people don’t agree with you” is a waste of time. That’s why we have discussions like this. They’re premised on the condition that people don’t agree.


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Bibowen 4 years ago Author

Adagio,

Thank you for what is, for the most part, a reasoned response. You make a lot of points. Let me respond to a couple right away.

First, the accusation of theocracy. I'm not suggesting a theocracy. A theocracy is a government by clerics, like what they have in Iran. God does not directly rule today--he rules through ministers as it's laid out in Romans 13. Regardless of how rulers come to power, they must uphold God's standards of righteousness. It's not a theocracy because these rulers neither come under a religious order, nor are they "imposing religion." They are making laws based on a set of moral standards that reflect the character of God.

We can use this syllogism:

P(1)--Law must be based on morality.

P(2)--Morality must be based on God.

Therefore, Law must be based on God.

P(1) is hardly controversial: there must be some standard of right and wrong if law is going to be effective. Some morality must prevail in law; it's just a matter of whose. Morality must be more than just the majority vote. As one rogue said, "democracy must be more than two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner."

P(2) is more controversial, but that does not mean that it is a significant problem. If there is no God (or no word from God), then morality does not exist, not at least in the sense that we think of it. Morality implies a rule that must be obeyed, but what rules are there if there is no rule maker?

So, law must have some divine sanction. If it does not, it's not law. That makes actions such as rape and torture merely opinions and not really wrong actions. If you want to throw God out of the equation, then whatever brakes we have on atrocities go out with Him. In fact, we can't really call them "atrocities"; they're merely differences of opinion.

I'll reply to some of your other comments later....


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adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

Our founders rejected Theocracy for a reason Bibowen. They don't work. Why would we trade something that works so well for us, for something that has been so terrible for others? Perhaps you could move to the Vatican. I'm afraid One Religion Rule isn't going to work in a Multi religion society. Well written...but absurd.


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adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

Hi Bibowen. I have to say that although you have a well written piece here, it's frought with problems. Lets look at this one:

"Men are to pass laws that reflect God’s rules given in the form of commandments. Rules prohibiting theft, murder, sodomy, and kidnapping, for example, are not optional. Rulers must impose these sanctions on society; it is a moral obligation as God has stipulated that these are the rules that govern all men, wicked and righteous. It is the violation of these rules that defines a man as an “evil doer” and makes him subject to the revenging sword of the civil magistrate as spoken of in Romans 13"

The problem of course is that you are attempting to impose a belief system based on the authority of God. I'm sure that you are a very devout Christian, but what you're proposing here is a Christian Theocracy. Your authority here is obviously God, but what proves the existence of this authority? Well, in the above statement you cite the Bible. "Romans 13" And the Bible is the inspired word of God right? But, according to who?

Your argument follows this form of reasoning; “God exists.” “How do you know that God exists?” “The Bible says so.” “Why should I believe the Bible?” “Because it’s the inspired word of God.” The so-called “final proof” relies on unproven evidence set forth initially as the subject of debate. It's called circular reasoning. It's a logical fallacy.

Now you must certainly know that not everyone shares your belief in God, or Christianity, or other religions either for that matter. Furthermore, even if they did, they may not share in your interpretation of Biblical Text or "Gods" intentions. It would seem that attempting to understand the mind of God is an attempt to understand the infinite, which is impossible. We can't know infinity because...well it has no borders. Our limited minds can't comprehend something beyond those limitations. We know infinity. It can't be confined or defined. You may think that the Bible contains the word of God, however the Bible was compiled by a group of fallible human beings at the Council of Nicea around 325 AD. So the question is how can a group of fallible men, determine the meaning of an infallible being? Is it possible that they may have gotten anything wrong? If they are fallible, the answer is yes. Being fallible, they are imperfect, and nothing perfect can come out of an imperfect source. So the Bible certainly contains imprefections in it. And there are contradictions to be found in it. Should it be read metaphorically or literally? And who's the authority that is going to tell us that answer?

Furthermore, in the case of the United States, our founders set out to create a "more perfect union". Not a PERFECT union. They were wise enough to understand that was impossible due to their own fallibility. Attemtps at Utopean societies have never worked. We constructed a constitution which is a frame. But the inside of the frame is always being filled in with Amendments.

So, man is left to his own intelligence to grasp the Golden Rule and govern accordingly. In examining Plato’s question of “Who should rule”, we may be better by asking “How do we arrange our institutions to prevent rulers (whether individuals or majorities) from doing too much damage.

Certainly religion isn't a possibility since the question is, which religion should rule? Obviously you think it should be Christian, but that is a bit over the top for the Jew or Muslim or atheist to accept. What you're suggesting is a Christian Theocratic tyranny. That's contrary to a free and democratic society that works for everyone. After all, religion is a belief. Not something demonstrable as true. You can't demonstrate the truth of any religion. Even Christianity requires a basis. It's basis is the Bible. But what is the Bible based on? Gods Word? According to who? The Bible. Circular reasoning, which is a logical fallacy. Why would a rational person allow himself to be governed by a logical fallacy?

So...these are some of the problems that I see with your article. It's well written to be sure. But it's completely absurd. Separating Church and State works. You can enjoy your belief. Just don't try to legislate it for others. Why would we trade something that has worked so well for us, for something that has been so destructive for others throughout history?

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