Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Illogic Rests on The Rational/Irrational Dialectic

The illogic of one particular pro-murder advocate seems not to be taking to the heavy antidote of logic, being fed him, and thus I must conclude that this is not a particular instance of illogic, in an otherwise rational individual, but is rather a belief system, devoted to being illogical. Call it, illogicism.

I had originally posted a rebuttal to a pro-murder advocate's comments on my blog. Much to my chagrin, another pro-murder advocate came into the comments section and offered more illogic. I then responded to his illogic. But, illogic begets illogic, and so I had to respond to his multiply exemplifications of illogic, he then responded again! And with that history, we are where we are today.

I'll be responding almost line by line to his comments. As in my last post, his comments will be italicized, mine will not be:

"Hello again, Paul. It has been quite an honor to appear twice on the front page of your blog."

Hello Ido. I am honored to have you respond to my posts three times now. I hope you feel more honored appearing on the front page three times now? Actually, I post your comments on the main page so that more people can see the illogic of the pro-murder position. I thank you for helping me to do that.

"Last time you seemed to have a problem with me admitting to a degree of arbitrariness in deciding when a fetus is a human being."

Yes I do. And that is because you've allowed for Hitler to define Jews as non-humans and now you have no rational reason you can use to defeat him. You have no rational, reasonable, and supportable means by which you can defend against the racists who defined blacks as non-humans. You have left the arena of rational debate. You see, arbitrariness is a fickle friend. If you can be arbitrary, then so can I. So, for example, I can show you how you're wrong. How? Well, the baby is a human upon conception. And therefore you're guilty of murder if you have an abortion, or you're guilty of supporting murder, by supporting abortion. If you want me to rationally demonstrate that, to bad; it's just an arbitrary decision.

Is that how debate should proceed? Usually, in debates like these, people want to hear actual reasons for why you believe what you believe. Would you feel cheated if you paid to go to a public debate, between scholars, about the existence of God. You expected to hear rational arguments, pro and con. But then the Christian stands up and says that God exists because that's just the way it is. He acts arbitrary, that is to say. Do you think people would have a problem with that? Sure they would. That's because if all someone is going to give is his opinion, well then any schlub can do that. So, if you want to admit that you have no rational reasons to support your position, on the crucial point(!), then go ahead and let me know that you're only here to offer you opinion on the matter. After that, I'll let you sit in the stands while someone who really wants to get on the mat and wrestle can have his turn.

You see, as a Christian, I actually care about reason. I care about entering a debate and pretending to have rational reasons for something, but then getting arbitrary on the crucial points. I care about truth. I care about knowing why I believe something. That's because I seek to honor God in my thinking. I seek to serve and submit to the Lord of reason and truth. God expects us to use the minds he gave us. We are made in his image, the image of a rational being. So, yes, I do have a problem with you being arbitrary on this issue.

Indeed, you had said that there are "some things' that we can be arbitrary about. But, I had asked you why you thought this issue was one of them? How do you know this is one of the things we should be arbitrary on? So, you don't even know why you're being arbitrary here. Put differently, you're arbitrary about your arbitrariness. Now, I can respect why that would not bother you, as an unbeliever. I mean, what reason to you have to be rational? Why should man be rational? Why believe things on good evidence? Ultimately, if it's just us in a cold, impersonal universe, and being arbitrary serves us better than being rational, then go for it, right? We don't need reasons for why we believe stuff. If it's difficult, don't bother thinking through things, just fly by the seat of our pants.

But, when it comes to not believing in God, let's prss the Christians for reasons why they believe what they believe. let's press the pro-lifers to be rational and provide cogent argumentation if they want to persuade us. But, when it's out turn to have our feet put the fire, let's blow out the flames. No need to get burnt, especially when its so painful and this life is all we have. So, when it comes to denying God let's be strictly rational. When it comes to defending our position, let's be strictly irrational. Hence, the irrationalist/rationalist dialectic that you are caught in? You oppose yourself, as the Bible says. You're literally, a walking contradiction.

"My claim was that a fetus is not a human being until a certain point during pregnancy, and that therefore it is not murder to kill the fetus before this point."

Right, and I claim the opposite. So, apparently you think that you can just stipulate who and who is not a human. And if you can stipulate, then so can Hitler. How do you stand in the face of Hitler and tell him that he's wrong? You see, the price you pay to "defeat" me is to allow for the holocaust and the Soviet gulags to take place. You can "defeat" me, only by allowing for any "human" to be murdered. You see, it's not enough just to claim what a human is, you need to actually give the readers of t-blog reasons to accept what you say.

" You even called arbitrariness 'the biggest gun in the illogical arsenal.' It is safe to assume then that your decisions never involve arbitrariness."

No, I think that arbitrariness is allowed in subjective circumstances, or personal preferences. Now, if I chose to stop at X hotel for no reason, rather than Y, given that they were basically the same, what dire conclusions could you draw? Is that harmful? Is it irrational? Conversely, if we allow mere whim or chance to determine our definition of human, then you logically allow for any group to be murdered, given the mere whim of others. If we go against sound argumentation, and opt for arbitrariness, then that is irrational. So, in this instance harm and irrationality would result.

Furthermore, since I believe the Bible teaches that human life begins in the womb, and also that it is wrong to murder human life, then we cannot be arbitrary here, given the authoritative word of God on the matter. So, I've given criteria for when its okay to be arbitrary, you have not got one. You've simply asserted that one can be arbitrary sometimes. You're arbitrary about being arbitrary.

"It seems to me though that your deepest held belief, the belief in Christ as the son of God, is entirely arbitrary."

Well, again Ido, I guess I need to continue to hammer this point home, what "seems" a certain way to you has no bearing on the actual state of affairs. All you're doing is giving an autobiographical remark. Besides, what information do you have that my belief that Jesus is the Son of God is man arbitrary one? I believe He is the Son of God upon the testimony of the word of a being who can never lie and is always right. That seems like good reason to believe something to me.

"There are thousands of religions, nearly all claiming to be the one and only true belief."

There is an infinite amount of answers students could give to the math question 8 x 8 =? They could also all "claim" that their answer is the right one. Does this mean that there is no right answer, or that math is relative or arbitrary?

"Isn’t it arbitrary to decide which one is correct?"

Isn't it entirely arbitrary for the math teacher to decide that the one who answered 64 is right? So, in your haste to discredit me, you've discredited math. I can do the same with logic and morality. Therefore, your entire worldview is arbitrary. Unless you engage in a rationalist/irrationalist dialectic, that is. But even deciding when to do that is arbitrary for you.

"Being arbitrary about important decisions is an inescapable part of our lives."

Was this important decision arbitrary? If so, I can just reject it as you've given me no reason to accept it. If not, then you act rational when you try to prove things, but irrational when you get to the core. That is, you use ladders that you throw away once you reach the top.

"That is why humans have discussions about moral issues, because to determine what is or is not morally acceptable is to some extent arbitrary."

Why bother discussing then? Do we pretend to be rational about being irrational?

"It is certainly arbitrary to base it on a specific collection of books written a long time ago."

Unless they're true of course. And, unless we've got good reason to believe they're true. So, you're begging the question against Christian theism, i.e., illogicism.

Is it an arbitrary decision that it is arbitrary to base morality on a "specific collection of books written a long time ago?"

What does age have to do with it? Is this argumentum ad antiquitum? Illogicism.

"You said “The embryo, upon conception, has human DNA. It is a member of the human species.”

I did.

"The possession of human DNA is not a good standard to decide whether life is a human being or not. Whenever you scratch yourself (or someone else), you kill cells with human DNA. Does that make you a murderer?"

i. It is a living entity with human DNA. If it is not a member of the human species, what species does it belong to?

ii. Notice tha rational/irrational dialectic. If determining life is arbitrary, then I can arbitrarily define it how I want.

iii. Do you think skin cells will grow up and become a productive member of society.

iv. Only humans have human DNA. So if you scratched me, and then had a scientist study the skin cells, he'd tell you that they were from a human.

v. Whose cells are the unborns from? Can a non-human have human DNA?

vi. The unborn has a genetic set that is completely different from both of its parents, therefore it is a separate life.

vii. If you scratched me, a human would have been scratched. Who is "scratched" during the abortion procedure.

viii. Was the embryo in your mother's stomach, before the 2nd trimester, not you? If not, then were you never at the first trimester stage? If so, how could you exist now?

Were you conceived? If not, then how do you exist? If so, then if you had been aborted would it have killed you? How, if you didn't exist?

"Modern cloning techniques could turn one of your skin cells into an embryo, capable of growing into a human being."

Yeah, they could. But that is different than the somatic cell. And embryo and a somatic cell have have the right information that could guide the cell, in the right circumstances, to maturity. The difference is that the embryo is actively making use of that information.

"You claim that human life begins at conception. Does that mean that a single cell zygote is just as valuable as a more mature form of human life?"

Is a toddler's life "just as valuable as a more mature form of human life?" So, the most "valuable" life in our society are the elderly. On a Darwinian understanding, why are the old, the weak, the ones who are unable to contribute economically, the frail, the ones who cannot have offspring anymore, etc., the most valuable?

"If you had to choose between saving the life of your sister or twenty zygotes in a petri-dish, but you couldn’t save both, what would you do?"

Let's say that you had to choose between saving your mother or your wife, but you couldn't save both, what would you do? Is one of them a "less valuable" human being? Would this prove that one was not fully human? Your illogic astounds us all, I'm sure.

This is a false dilemma and it only has psychological force, not moral, to the adherents of illogicism.

A racist could ask you, "If your barn was burning and you had the choice to save 13 negroes or your mother, sister, and brother, which would you choose? If you choose your white family (assuming your white, for the sake of the conversation) could I then point out that you're inconsistent in your views regarding the equality of the races? Racists can use your illogic.

Also, note how you expect me to give rational answers to these questions, but when it’s your turn you resort to being arbitrary, or, irrational. Thus we see throughout your entire response you rest on the rational/irrational dialectic. This is a consequence of denying God. Come to the Savior and enjoy salvation now. You will see its effect manifest itself immediately in your intellectual life.