Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Odin 2.0

My final reply to a village atheist over at Victor Reppert's blog. 

steve said...
Cal Metzger said...

"Odin's a person, he's immortal, he has supernatural powers, he is the most powerful supernatural being, etc. If you can't see how Odin could be analogous (which doesn't mean "identical") to Yahweh then I don't know what else to say."

i) Odin is not immortal.

ii) Moreover, even if he were immortal, it wouldn't be in the same sense that Yahweh is immortal. Physical immortality is hardly equivalent to the timeless eternality of an incorporeal being.

iii) And what makes him a "supernatural" being in the worldview of Nordic/Teutonic mythology?

"steve's response talked brought up the standard apologist talking points but didn't answer my hypothetical question about miracles and Odin -- steve's response basically says "Yawheh is different than Odin in these ways." Um, I know they're not identical -- why should that prohibit responding to my hypothetical?"

Either Cal is intellectually dishonest or intellectually challenged:

i) Yahweh and Odin are categorically different kinds of beings. Therefore, Cal's attempted analogy is vitiated by fundamental disanalogies.

ii) I also pointed out the difference in sources. Cal ignores that.

iii) I further pointed out evidence for Yahweh's existence that's wholly absent in the case of Odin.

Cal is either unable or unwilling to argue in good faith.

iv) And keep in mind that his question had nothing to do with the actual topic of the post.

steve said...
i) One of Cal's many intellectual impediments is that he doesn't know the right questions to ask. He's attempting to plant trick questions to trap Christians.

Suppose Cal walks into a department store, walks down an aisle, and stares at a row of spoons. A sales clerk asks Cal if he's finding what he's looking for. Cal asks for advice on the best spoon to open a tin can.

The clerk politely explains to Cal that a spoon is the wrong tool to open a tin can. If that's what Cal wants, then he needs a can opener. The clerk points him to a row of manual and electric can openers, and offers to make recommendations.

But Cal becomes suspicious. Why is the clerk avoiding his question? Must be the clerk is "afraid" to answer his question about the best spoon to open a tin can.

ii) Apropos (i), what Cal hasn't figured out yet is that when he postulates Odin, and asks what evidence we'd accept for Odin, there are in-built restrictions on what would count as evidence for Odin's existence or divinity. That's because Nordic/Teutonic mythology defines Odin as a certain kind of being with particular attributes. Hence, Odin cannot, by definition, do anything that exceeds the abilities of his design specifications.

According to Nordic/Teutonic mythology, Odin is a mortal being. A physical being. A humanoid "god" who came into existence. At a later date he will be killed by Fenrir the wolf.

iii) It's like asking, what evidence I'd accept that Superman is made of rubber. Short answer: none.

Cal then exclaims that I have a double standard. I have fallen into his trap!

But, no, the reason I say that is because Superman wouldn't be Superman if he were made of rubber. What Superman can do or be is limited by the Superman canon. He has a core identity, core attributes.

It's not about evidential truth, but analytical truth. Like asking what evidence would convince me that a bachelor is married. That's a contradiction in terms.

It's up to Cal to explain what kind of evidence he thinks Odin would be capable of offering for his nature and existence.

iv) Finally, Cal has no sense of what's important. He fritters away his life trying to bait Christians into arguments about unicorns, magical bean stalks and Nordic gods, rather than examining the evidence for something truly important and consequential like God's existence, the historical Jesus, and the occurrence of miracles.

steve said...
Cal Metzger said...

"Many times I hear apologists declare that non-believers close their minds to the possibility of miracles (a concept that, like the term "supernatural", I still find to be incoherent)."

So, according to Cal, when atheists classify themselves as naturalists, they have no clear idea of what naturalism means. After all, naturalism is defined in relation to supernaturalism, and vice versa: these are correlative concepts. If the concept of "supernatural" is incoherent, where does that leave the concept of "natural"?

It's essential to atheism to be able to demarcate what's natural from what's supernatural.

Likewise, if the concept of miracle is incoherent, does that mean atheist have no clear conception of what it means to deny the occurrence of miracles?

Cal's statements are counterproductive to his own cause. Is he operating with some old version of logical positivism?

steve said...
Cal Metzger said...

"But when asked how it is that the gallery here would behave differently from the close-minded atheists you mention in your OP, we see that (surprise!) none of the Christians here are open-minded enough to imagine what evidence would convince them that Odin (and not Yahweh) is real and supreme among Gods, etc."

That was the trap Cal set. I didn't step into the trap. I stepped around the trap. And I'm not the only one.

We've explained to Cal in some detail why his comparison is equivocal. Not surprisingly, he can't refute the explanation. So he simply pushes the rewind button on his prerecorded apologetic, and repeats himself. He's incapable of thinking through an issue. He's just a tape recorder.

steve said...
Cal Metzger said...

"By natural, I understand people to mean that knowledge of the external (intersubjective) world is only possible those things that are examinable. I don't see any correlation to supernaturalism, because no one has been able to coherently explain what supernatural is supposed to mean, let alone how it should relate to those things that are examinable."

Poor Cal never misses a chance to miss the point:

i) "Natural" and "supernatural" are antonyms. Mutually definable. Contraries. If you know what one means, you should know what the other means. If you don't know what one means, then you don't know what the other means. If you don't know what natural is not, if you don't what's inconsistent with natural, then you don't know what natural is.

ii) Cal doesn't care about "examinable" things. He goes out of his way to avoid examinable evidence for miracles.

iii) Notice that he dodged the question of how he can deny the occurrence of miracles unless he has a clear concept of what they are.

iv) Many metaphysicians believe in "unexaminable" things like abstract objects (e.g. numbers, possible worlds).

v) How does Cal know there's an external, intersubjectival reality? Presumably, he's a physicalist. In that case, he can have no direct knowledge of the world. Rather, his information about the world is filtered through sensory perception and how the brain interprets sensory input. He can't compare that to what the world is really like, apart from sensory perception and interpretation.

If (according to Cal) the preexisting mythology about Odin is unimportant, then what would make this evidence about Odin? Seems like quite a dilemma for Cal.

steve said...
Cal Metzger said...

"I didn't dodge it. I told you it didn't make any sense to me, and I didn't see a question in it. "

Cal has yet to explain what it means to deny a miracle. How can he deny what he can't define?

"Metaphysicians believe in things. And this is supposed to affect me how? (Note, I think the reality of number is an interesting question, but it appears to be a meaningless one."

Cal is unable to follow his own argument. I was responding to him on his own grounds, by citing examples of things we can't directly examine, yet there's good reason to believe they exist. Many metaphysicians believe in abstract objects (e.g. numbers, possible words) due to their indispensable explanatory power.

"Also, whatever pre-existing mythology you know around Odin is unimportant…"

Odin was Cal's own example. Who is Odin? Odin is a character in Nordic/Teutonic mythology. That's the referent of Odin.

Cal's example depends on the identity of Odin. If the preexisting mythology of Odin is "unimportant," then "Odin" has no identifiable referent.

"-- maybe the early mythology got some of it wrong, the Norsemen weren't ready for all the information about Odin yet and now new information can be revealed, etc. Surely you've heard arguments like this?"

Odin is just a character in Nordic/Teutonic mythology. That's all he ever was. It's not like King Arthur.

And why should we play along with Cal's silly revision? He starts with a dumb example. When his example fails, he tries to retrofit his dumb example. It's such a waste of time. He can't bring himself to discuss anything serious. It's like debating the color of Russell's celestial teapot.

"Odin is contingent. Odin will always be contingent. / No contingency is worthy of the appellation 'God.' Therefore Odin is not worthy to be God and God is."

That's not what I actually said, but as a summary, that will suffice.

"That's just a mess. So, it's not enough for me to ask questions and respond to questions, you also want me to re-form babbling assertions into questions so that I can follow up on something that I can't even make sense of? Okay, that's what you think."

It's true that Cal is chronically unable to keep up with the argument. He can't even follow his own argument. He originally said:

"What could Odin do that you can't explain as being better assigned to Yahweh, and that would make you change your mind about Odin existing?"

A contingent being can only do what a contingent being is capable of doing. By definition, Odin is a contingent being. Some actions are inherently impossible for a contingent being. He has finite abilities.

And by definition, everything is contingent on Yahweh while Yahweh is contingent on nothing. Therefore, Yahweh could do things that Odin can't. That simply follows from the respective concepts of Odin and Yahweh.

"I have just been trying to see if anyone here can show us what someone who hasn't closed their mind to the possibility of miracles should expect to see in order to believe that Odin is real."

Cal is never able to understand any correction even when it's patiently explained to him. This isn't a question of being closed-minded. Cal gave the example of Odin. Well, Odin is a mythological character with specific attributes. He has a backstory. By definition, there can't be any evidence for Odin's ability that contradicts the concept of Odin. Just as there can't be any evidence that H2O is lead. By definition, H2O can't be lead.

"Would the revealing of a previously secret Norse sect, sworn to secrecy until now, and with ancient documents, describing how Odin once walked the earth then flew back to heaven do it?"

Not unless there was evidence that the ancient Nordic documents were true.

"Here's what I think: I think that you believe this discussion is about trying to one-up me, to try and catch me, to try and assert some imagined superiority on your part."

That's ironic given Cal's repeated admission that he's trying to catch Christians in hypocrisy.

"And that is why your comments are so predictable, and long, and kind of boring. Which is a shame, because at its heart I do think the question of what it would take for any of us to change our minds is a very interesting and important question."

Aside from the fact that in this thread, Cal repeatedly confuses me with another commenter, if atheism were true, then what it would take for any of us to change our minds is unimportant. If atheism were true, then whatever we believe or disbelieve, do or not do, is utterly unimportant in the great scheme of things.

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