Thursday, February 04, 2016

Challenge met

Dale Tuggy:

The ambiguity of "God" here is a feature, not a bug:

You've misunderstood the difference between "God" (singular referring term) and "god" (common noun). Thus, your argument in this post is simply not mine, and is not parallel to mine. 

i) For starters, that's duplicitous. You begin by telling me the ambiguity is intentional. Likewise, in your sequel post, you say "There is an ambiguity here, but it is deliberate, and is a virtue of the argument."

But you then complain that I allegedly failed to draw a semantic distinction between "God" as a singular referring term and "god" as a common noun. So your ambiguous formulation was deceptive. You're now admitting that the argument only goes through if we give "God" a more specific import. 

ii) It's ironic that you presume to accuse me of failing to distinguish between "God" as a singular referring term and "god" as a common noun when, in fact, I've accused you of ignoring or obscuring that distinction since 2011. 

You can take “God” here to be either the Father (as in the NT) or the Trinity (as in trinitarian traditions) – either way, I claim, you should agree that this is a sound argument.

False dichotomy. There's a third option: I can construe it as a predication of deity. 

See my "Trinity Challenge" argument in the post above. Do you agree that it is sound? (I believe you deny it because you deny its 2 - see below.)

Your reformulation is different than mine. Therefore, your "Trinity Challenge" argument fails to engage my alternative.

Your second argument isn't parallel to anything I'm arguing. It's besides the point. 

i) My second argument unpacked the admitted ambiguity of "God" in a different direction. Since you yourself concede that "God" is ambiguous, it's a legitimate move for me to explore different ways of understanding the descriptor. In this case, it construes the descriptor in qualitative terms (kind, genus, set of attributes) rather than quantitative terms. You offer no counterargument. 

ii) In addition, it exposes ambiguities in how to count the same object. So your syllogism is vitiated by equivocation. And you offer no counterargument to my critique. You simply issue dismissive denials.

About your claim #3 - You are overlooking that steps 4-9 deal with the "deity" of Christ. I am focusing on the sense of "deity" or "divinity" which implies that the thing is a god. Compare: human. In the primary or basic sense of that, whatever "is human" just is a certain human being, e.g. Steve. 

Yes, you're laboring to rig the terms of the debate. I get that. Your syllogism hinges on a false premise. Fatal ambiguity.

"Tuggy's syllogism depends on calling Jesus "God"."
You're not really getting the points of the argument. If 3 is true, it is highly misleading to say that "Jesus is God" because many will hear that as an identification of Jesus and God. And the point of 9 is that "the deity of Christ" is also misleading, as many will think that implies that Jesus is a god. But, he can't be - as there's only one god, and it's something or someone else - take your pick - the Father, or the Trinity. 

i) Your objection is irrelevant. The question at issue is not the connotations which the phrase ("Jesus is God") may have for many, but whether you can generate a sound argument. How "many" hear it is hardly the standard of comparison. We need to distinguish between popular usage and philosophical usage

ii) Apropos (i), it's trivially easy to state the Trinity in formally contradictory terms by using popular language rather than philosophical jargon. But a formal contradiction is linguistic, not conceptual. It's like a verbal paradox. You've been playing this rhetorical ruse for five years.

"ambiguities concerning what it means for something to be "only one"."
Your example does nothing to show that "one" is ambiguous. Are you saying that we should doubt or deny that 6 is true? 

Are you just dense? The Mandelbrot set can be counted in more than one way. I explain that. As usual, you don't refute what I say. Instead, you utter a tendentious denial.

"A final problem with Tuggy's syllogism is that the NT does in fact call Jesus "God" or "Lord" (=Yahweh)"
Not a problem. It's simply a mistake to think that anyone who can properly be called "God" or "Lord" is none other than Yahweh himself. 

And according to NT Christology, Jesus is none other than Yahweh himself.

In terms of the argument, here you are just insisting that 3 is false. But 3 follows from 1 and 2. So, which of those do you deny? I think you must be just going against reason and denying 2, unlike just about all Christians trained in philosophy.

No, the question at issue is whether your syllogism, if sound, disproves NT Christology.

Are the NT authors *identifying* the one God and this man? You should say not.

Of course, they don't view Jesus as simply "this man". 

*You* think God is a Trinity, and that Jesus isn't. And that's just one of many differences: e.g. God has a Son, and Jesus doesn't. 

i) This is how you always load the dice. You are too unethical to state the Trinitarian position as a Trinitarian would state it. The Father has a Son, but the Son has no Son. 

ii) And of course there are differences. The Trinity presupposes personal differentiation. 

So the only way you can attribute the identification of Jesus and God to Paul or John (etc.) is to suppose that they're so stupid that they don't know: Things which differ are two (i.e. are not numerically identical) [premise 2 in my argument]. In other words, you're supposing that they think that one and the same thing can, at one time, be and not be some way. But that is *very* uncharitable. That's like supposing that they don't know that 3+3=6, or that "bigger than" is a transitive relation.

i) I've corrected you on this for years no. The Apostles have no control over what God is like. Their role is reportorial.

I would doubt that you fail to believe 2, as you seem to have adult-range intelligence, and would surly employ 2 in reasoning about non-theological matters. But I understand that you *say* you're denying 2 here - your theory demands it. This is a price you must pay in order to deny 3, given that you see that it's ridiculous for any Christian to deny 1.

What you need to see though is that it's ridiculous for any person, Christian or not, to deny 2. It's epistemic status is at least equal to 1.

Your syllogism is equivocal. 


  1. Steve, this ad hominem rant is embarrassing. Notice that Dr. Anderson does no huffing and puffing about how sneakily deceptive it is (because it's not!) - he just carefully understands what the argument is, and answers. You ought to follow his example.

    1. Dale, if you're so bothered by the ad hominem why can't you just be a big boy and ignore it and interact with the substance of what is being said?

      Honestly, it's a bit tiring to have you constantly break down and just whine about the tone of someone's post, which is what you seem to quickly fall into when having a discussion here.

    2. Jonathan, he's not interacting with my argument. He's substituted one of his own which he thinks is like mine, but is not.

      When you don't understand someone's argument, you question them till you get it right, and *then* object. He's unable to do this. He's got this script in his head that I'm a tricky trickster, and just can't let go of the thought. Oh well!

      If you think my sensitivity is preventing me from grappling with his deep critique... I'll just have to leave you to think that. You either see that it's almost all irrelevant flailing or you don't.

    3. Dale,

      The reason it comes off so pathetic is that Steve is hardly throwing a bundle of outrageous ad hominems here. He states things like "You are too unethical to state the Trinitarian position as a Trinitarian would state it." That's hardly worth you trying to put all the focus on Steve's tone and ignoring the everything else.

    4. Yes, Dale, James Anderson is a lot classier than I am. Having gotten that out of the way, do you have anything substantive to offer?

    5. Dale

      "Jonathan, he's not interacting with my argument."

      I'm interacting with your argument by demonstrating that it trades on equivocations, as well as overlooking alternate models and formulations

      "He's substituted one of his own which he thinks is like mine, but is not."

      When you stack the deck, I reshuffle the deck.


"When you don't understand someone's argument, you question them till you get it right, and *then* object."

      I understand Dale's argument perfectly well.

    6. "demonstrating that it trades on equivocations, as well as overlooking alternate models and formulations"

      Equivocations and obvious omissions that Dr. Anderson was not smart enough to notice, evidently. That, Steve, ought to worry you. And it should also worry you when I tell you that I don't recognize my argument within some portion of your many words. You need to spend more time playing the student, and less time as the would be unmasker of tricks. You'll learn a lot more that way.

    7. It's a bit strange Dale Tuggy keeps attempting to set James Anderson against Steve Hays. As if Anderson and Hays are more in disagreement than agreement on the issue at hand.

      However, it seems to me the only arguably significant difference between Anderson and Hays here is Anderson is "nicer" in tone toward Tuggy than Hays is. Otherwise, Anderson and Hays are basically in agreement against Tuggy's position.

    8. Dale,

      For a philosophy prof., it's funny to see how illogical you are. The fact that Anderson chose to attack a different aspect of your argument does not imply, or carry any presumption, that he regards your argument as invulnerable at other points. Minimally, it may just mean that he thought that was a quick, convenient line of objection.

      For instance, Paul Manata recently attacked your argument from a different angle. Does that mean he doesn't think Anderson is smart? You make a public fool of yourself when you launch into these emotional tirades.

      As for my suggestion that you're dishonest, that's actually the more complimentary interpretation of your antics. The less complimentary interpretation is that you aren't overly bright. If you resent the former interpretation, I'm happy to opt for the latter interpretation.

    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Funny, I think steve consistently demonstrates pretty remarkable restraint with atheists, and apostates.

    For example, he's apparently been offering correctives to your unitarianism for years. That's a kindness, and displays Christian love and grace, even if the "tone" doesn’t meet with your personal approval, Dale.

    There's no rulebook that says steve should be as nice as James Anderson. Maybe James is a better Christian than steve, or more patient, or maybe he suffers from fear of man and is sinfully worried about his reputation and holds back what he really thinks.

    Only God knows.

    The real God.

    The Triune One true and living God of the Bible, not your nonexistent unitarian idol.

    I'll just have to leave you to think [about] that.

  3. And according to NT Christology, Jesus is none other than Yahweh himself.

    Recently, I discovered another reason that favors 1 John 5:20 as referring to the Son rather than to the Father. I've added it to the others I've collected HERE

    The following is the new evidence and argument.

    Robert Bowman in his work The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity wrote in Part IV

    10. 1 John 5:20. Admittedly, biblical scholars are split on whether the “true God” in this text is the Father or the Son. Three considerations favor the Son. First, the closest antecedent for “this one” is Jesus Christ (“in his Son Jesus Christ. This one…”). Second, in 1:2 the “eternal life” is Jesus Christ (who was “with the Father”), an apparent example of inclusio (repetition of a theme or idea at the beginning and end of a text). Third, the confession form “This one is …” (houtos estin) strongly favors Jesus Christ, rather than the Father, as the subject, since John uses this language repeatedly with regard to Christ (John 1:30, 33, 34; 4:29, 42; 6:14, 42, 50, 58; 7:18, 25, 26, 40, 41; 1 John 5:6; of the man born blind, John 9:8, 9, 19, 20; of the disciple, John 21:24; of the anti-Christ, 1 John 2:22; 2 John 1:7), but not once for the Father. John has just used this formula for Christ earlier in the same chapter (1 John 5:6).
    [bold added by me for emphasis]

    1. Annoyed - you can pile up lengthy considerations for reading the scriptures as implying that Jesus just is God, that they are numerically identical. But you need to see that this evidence will have a very hard time beating that which favors premises 1 and 2 in my argument, and thus 3. Do you see why?

      Let me ask you this - which do you deny - 1 (that Jesus and God have differed), or 2 (that things which have differed at some one time or eternally are non-identical)?