Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bethrick Burner

Sticks and Stones

Dawson Bethrick’s latest painfully long blog entry is simply a tour de force in letdowns. However, after reading it, I hear the crowd say, “There’s no joy in Mudville. Poor Casey’s stuck out again.”

This entry is divided into three section. The first is "the petty rhetoric." I basically answer Dawson's reasons for calling God an invisible magic being. I also engage in many Bethrickian tactics. Apparently, Bethrick thinks he makes good points when he calls God and "invisible magic being" and when he mocks believers. For example, if I make a spelling error he'll say, "You must have been thinking God's thoughts after him." And so, since Bethrick thinks this works, and I want to "win him over" ;-), I'll respond to his mistakes like this: "Well, since he's anscestor's a monkey, no wonder Dawson acts like a bafoon, I mean, baboon, here. I figured what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. He thinks mocking Christians scores him points, but his worldview can be easily mocked, and so I feel no reservations about doing that here.

The second section is made up of the more "substantive" critiques, so some may just want to skip there. In that section, all my points are numbered. But, the mockery still remains, to some degree.

In the third section, I use Bethrickian principles and show that according to his own little game we're justified in thinking he believes in "Momma Nature." Basically, I give the exact same type of arguments he gives. if his work, so do mine.

Dawson's comments are in red, mine are in bolded black.



Dawson tells us that,

“Throughout his cliché-soaked diatribe, Paul tells us about himself as he attempts to dole out his usual series of accusations that I have committed some heinous fallacy or other, and in so doing supplies us with a model exercise in projection.”

Most of his diatribe is due to his overheated typewriter. There is very little substance there, and the feeling one gets as he reads his blog entry is, not to be too cliché, “who ruffled this guy’s feathers?” Or, “did this guy wake up on the wrong side of the bed?” Maybe, “who got his goat?” How about, “boy, someone really got their dander up?” Well, let me “throw down the gauntlet” and give Dawson a “dose of his own medicine.” Nevertheless, I will try to not “fly off the handle” as bad as he did, but I just need to post so I can “get something off my chest.” Will Dawson ever “eat humble pie?” I do not know, but he certainly has a “chip on his shoulder.” Hey, don’t get upset with me, I’m just “calling a spade a spade.” I just hope my “cliché’s” aren’t “beyond the pale,” but it’s too late now to “go back to the drawing board” so without “beating around the bush” I’ll get to my post and, “thereby hangs the tale…”

Before I begin, I should note that Dawson continues to avoid James Anderson’s comments. In addition, this is interesting because he basically calls me stupid and not worth his time, yet he takes his time to write one of his longest posts to date! He ignores the more substantial criticisms but wears the paint of his keyboard in responding to me. He views me as a punk kid who’s like an annoying fly and no trouble at all to refute. So, what would we think of someone who puts out his wordiest post against someone he considers, basically, not worth the effort, but then totally avoids someone who’s trying to engage him substantively? Is he buying time so that he can research how to answer Anderson? Do his “actions speak louder than his words” in the sense that he considers me a threat? I mean, I don’t consider Susie, the local 5 yr. old, a physical threat, that’s why you don’t see me taking the time to “beat her up.” So, why does Dawson take his time to beat this intellectual 5 yr. old up? If a 5 yr. old hit me, I would laugh and tell say, “Awww, how cute.” If someone who could cause injury to my family or me hit me, I would probably (depending on specifics of course) sock him up. So, why does Dawson “sock me up?” However, since the hoi polloi and the teenagers think Dawson’s “hot stuff” I’ll try to show that he’s “all bark, no bite.” He is a “paper tiger.” I hope that the above was not too “cliché soaked?”

“Much of Paul’s recent attempt to discredit me…”

No, Dawson, you do that fine all by yourself.

“is so preoccupied with his attempts to flex his rhetorical muscles that I had to stop myself as I was reading through it to ask: what is he trying to say?”

Funny, now you know how everyone feels when they read your stuff. I was only thinking of you here. I wanted you to know how we view your stuff.

“Is he really expending all this effort just to prove that the expression “invisible magic being” is pejorative?”

No, I proved more than that. However, you did write a post trying to argue that the expression was not “pejorative.” But now you admit that it was. Therefore, my post scored. Not only that, you admitted it. Dawson totally forgot what he was arguing! So my post was, as they say, “spot on.”

“To say that a word or expression is "pejorative" means that it has a belittling effect in some way.”

And you admit that your little catch phrases are belittling. Hence, you admit that you are being pejorative. Therefore, your response to Anderson was false. You fell in to my trap, Dawson. I knew you would admit that your phrase was pejorative. So, why try to write a post in the first place claiming that it was not a pejorative term?

“As we go through life, we encounter some individuals whose feelings are quite delicate and consequently easily hurt.”

My feelings are not hurt. Nevertheless, if poisoning the well is the best you got, carry on.

“But is this all that Paul wants to prove, that his feelings are tender and that he can't take what Christianity itself dishes out?”

And you showed where I “couldn’t take” what? Where? That’s right. Nowhere. Your reading comprehension is a tad elementary. I simply argued that the phrase was pejorative. You said it wasn’t. Now you admit it was. You lost, I won. Don’t be a sore loser. I would not have written it if I had known how it would have hurt your feelings. (See, Dawson, I can play this game right back at cha. I have always been confused why you write posts that are 95% sophistic rhetoric and 5% substance.)

“Throughout his cliché-soaked diatribe, Paul tells us about himself as he attempts to dole out his usual series of accusations that I have committed some heinous fallacy or other, and in so doing supplies us with a model exercise in projection.”

It strikes me that the best way to stop the accusations that you commit fallacies would be to stop committing them.

“In fact, we learn this time that my “method” is “fallacy ridden,” while we’re apparently supposed to believe his method is pure and untarnished.”

You can draw whatever inferences you want to. However, what you are supposed to believe when I say that your “method” is “fallacy ridden” is, well, that your “method” is “fallacy ridden.” You see Dawson; if you ever bothered to read a logic text, you would learn the rules of inference. If you learned them you’d be able to tell that by me pointing out that your “method” is “fallacy ridden,” that actually says nothing about what you need to “believe” about my “method.” It’s true that it’s pure, but that’s not an inference from anything I said about your “method.” ;-)

Dawson said, “And where does Paul get off speaking for "everyone"? How does he know what "everyone knows" about me or anything else? Is Paul omniscient?”

But then writes,

“He calls my writing “hubristic,” which probably means that he’s envious of my ability and self-confidence.”

Where does Dawson get off speaking for what I “probably mean?” How does he know what I “probably mean?”

He says, “This time Paul is concerned to “debunk” my explanation for my use of the expression “invisible magic being” to refer to his and everyone else’s gods, demons, angels, devils, and other imaginary personal agents.”

How does he know this about EVERYONE’S god concept? Has he examined EVERYONE’S conception of a god? Maybe he has examined EVERYONE’S god concept because he is omniscient. In that case, it appears that Dawson is a figment of his own imagination! Dawson is the best friend an interlocutor ever had!

“He says that I “argue by slogans.” In other words, I’m quotable and he's afraid my particular way of stating things will become household expressions one day.”

Talk about delusions of grandeur. At any rate, if Dawson’s “slogans” became “household expressions” then they would become “cliché,” which is, apparently, a bad thing. However, this is all in Dawson’s head. I only know of two other atheist bloggers that quote Dawson, and that is because they drink the Objectivist Kool-Aid also. Actually, most intellectually respectable atheists would not be caught dead quoting an Objectivist, especially a neophyte like Dawson. For example, read Shermer and Heumer. Stop by the IIDB discussion board and spout Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, see how fast you are laughed at. In fact, I was talking to a somewhat well known atheist (in the internet community) on the phone the other day and he was laughing at Bethrick. Yes Dawson, I am afraid that households will start chanting, “Existence exists.” You got it, champ.

“He likens my blog posts to a logo for a failing sports team that is intended to “induce fear, or respect,” but it’s not clear why he makes such a comparison.”

It wasn’t clear? Here, let me help you out with it. You got no substance. You write a lot and hope that you’re opponent will not have the time or desire to wade through thousands of words just to fine the needle in the haystack, i.e., the one or two things you say that are actually worth responding to. Me, well I am just a glutton for punishment. I will beat you at your own game here, I will also address what you think are your substantive points below.

“Who's afraid of having a “cartoon worldview”? In response to my point that Christianity subscribes to the cartoon universe premise, many Christians have essentially told me ‘so what?’”

Nope, your cartoon worldview argument has already been incinerated. See here:

“Instead of gratitude, Paul offers misrepresentation. For instance, he charges me with arguing “that the ‘all’ in Jesus’ claim that ‘all things are possible’ includes the possibility that God could cease to exist,” but that is not what I argued at all. If he’s not mischaracterizing my position, he either never understood it, or he suffers from an early onset of senility and needs to go back and review what I have stated.”

Okay, let’s do that. Here’s what you “stated:”

“Christianity’s positions are based on what is written in the bible, and the bible claims that “with God all things are possible” (Mt. 19:26; emphasis supplied). Now, that’s what the ‘good book’ says. I didn’t write it, so don’t get sore at me for what it says. The point here is that, if the believer claims that some particular thing is impossible, then he is blatantly disagreeing with what is explicitly stated in the bible.”

See! Dawson cannot even remember what he writes! He blames me for misrepresenting him, but it’s he who misrepresents himself!. According to what we just read Dawson does say that the “all” in “all things are possible” includes the possibility that God could cease to exist because, as Dawson says, “if the believer claims that some particular thing is impossible, then he is blatantly disagreeing with what is explicitly stated in the bible.” The poor guy can’t even keep his own thoughts straight, let alone begin to speak about mine!

Actually, if Dawson ever bothered to read a logic textbook then he would know basic rules of inference. So, taken Dawson’s claim we get this,

P1. If it’s impossible that God could cease to exist then the Bible would be wrong.

P2. The Bible can’t be wrong (according to believers).

C1. Therefore, it’s possible that God could cease to exist.

Dawson’s living in a cartoon world. Too funny.

“On the whole, Paul’s latest attempt to roast me is set up on a grand projection, attributing to me the very playbook which Christian apologists themselves follow.”

Actually, we have seen the opposite. Dawson, the master cartoon illustrator, has created his own little world where he can live at peace and not be bothered by having to deal with any serious arguments. Indeed, if someone offers a criticism Dawson magically creates a world where he did not say what he plainly said. Perhaps Dawson thinks that he can send mental blocks through space and into my mind so when he refers me to what he wrote and says it’s not what it says it is, I’ll really read the opposite of what is written. Well, that may be all right in Dawson’s little playroom, but this is the real world. Put down your G.I. Joe’s you’ve converted into apologist voodoo dolls and get to it. Otherwise, we are just going to have to put you in time out.

Now, I have to keep commenting on the dribble until I finally get to something substantial. But, the above type of interaction is a page I stole from Dawson’s playbook. So since he thinks it’s effective, he must take what I’m doing as effective.

“Here's another example: non-believers are supposed to be afraid of having the ‘evolutionist’ worldview, because it allegedly relies on something called ‘Chance’ – a word which is intended to cause a knee-jerk reaction of its own – even if they have never affirmed something called ‘evolutionism’”

So “unbelievers” have never “affirmed something called ‘evolutionism?’” Now, what do I see when I read some works from unbelievers? Hold on while I go pick a book of my shelf…. Okay, I’m back. Let’s see, I’ll cite Ruse: “Popular evolution--evolutionism--offered a world picture, a story of origins, and a special place for humans in the scheme of things. At the same time, it delivered moral exhortations, prescribing what we ought to do if we want things to continue well (or to be redeemed and a decline reversed)” (Ruse, “The Creation-Evolution Struggle,” p. 122, emphasis mine). I mean, I didn’t make this stuff up. This is what Dawson’s team says. Why shoot the messenger when I’m just telling people what non-Christians themselves say?

“or suggested that “Chance” governs things in some haphazard, nonsensical manner (like an invisible magic being might).”

So I guess “Chance” governs things in some methodical, sensible manner? Sounds like Dawson’s own invisible magic being. However, this is not what Bethrick’s teammates suggest to us. Gander at this:

"A revised and modernized materialism concludes from all this that human thought and feeling is the product of a series of unthinking and unfeeling processes originated in the big bang." (Richard C. Vitzthum, "Materialism: An Afiirmative History and Definition Prometheus Books, 1995, pp.218-219)

"Materialism should no longer wink at such nonsense but insist that the foundations of all human thought and feeling are grossly irrational." ( Richard C Vitzthum, "Materialism: An Affirmative History and Definition," Prometheus Books, 1995, p. 220.)

"Even after abandoning logical atomism, Russell remained an enthusiastic pluralist; in 1931 he wrote that the proposition that the world is a unity, 'the most fundamental of my intellectual beliefs is that this is rubbish. I think the universe is all spots and jumps, without unity, without continuity, without coherence or orderliness or any of the other properties that governess love.'" ("The Scientific Outlook," New York, 1931, p.98. Cited in, "The Encyclopedia of Philosophy," edited by Paul Edwards, 1967, volume 5, p.364).

Much of Dawson’s post sidetracked the discussion since my post was mainly meant to prove that his term was pejorative. He denied it, but then affirmed it. I’ll skip over much of it and drop in here and there:

“Now, if Christians think that they have an objective means by which I can have genuine awareness of what they call "God," they need to identify it and explain how it works. I asked one visitor to my blog how I can reliably distinguish what he calls "God" from what he may merely be imagining here and here. But so far, no answer has been forthcoming.”

What does Dawson mean by “objective means?” What does he mean by “awareness?” For example, Thomas, when he saw the risen Lord, said, “my Lord and my God.” So, one means is that of seeing Jesus. Or, in heaven, we may hear, with our ears, God speak. There’s also a certain feel one has when he’s in church, praising God, praying, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper. We “just know” we are “in the special presence” of God. Is Dawson’ playing the radical skeptic? Is he denying that our senses and inter-subjective states can be “objective means” by which we experience something? Okay, let me reverse this. What “objective means” does Dawson have to say that he’s having an awareness of any externally existing object, rather than, say, a tree in his dream? How can he distinguish what he calls “his wife” from “a dream?” Or, say that aliens kidnapped his wife and an exact replica of her was sent back to earth, all while Dawson was angrily pounded out 30 page posts to be sure, and she was an alien robot, designed to be virtually indistinguishable from Dawson’s real wife. Indeed, the “machinery” the aliens used was so advanced that her insides looked exactly like ours. By the Leibniz’s law of identity, this robot is not identical to Dawson’s wife, so what “objective means” does Dawson use to distinguish an experience with the real wife contra the robotic Mrs. Bethrick?

“Where did I ever say that the expression "invisible magic being" does not have negative connnotations? [sic] I merely said that it is an appropriate term, given what Christians expect us to believe.”

Though I confess that I have no idea what a “connnotation” is, I think it’s meannnt to be differennnt than a dennnotation. Other than that, we see Dawson agree that he was being pejorative. He actually intends to use pejoratives. However, in his post on the matter he wrote, “In fact, it seems dubious to me that any religionists would consider my use of this expression ‘pejorative.’” But above we read that Bethrick knows perfectly well that his use had pejorative “connnotations.” So, we’re just taking Bethrick at “face value” (to shake the cliché peppershaker a bit).

“So the heaps of coals on his head are multiplied as he not only fails to accomplish what he set out to do (namely discredit me),”

No, actually I did discredit you as I proved that out of one side of your mouth you act confused as to how we could take your little phrase as a pejorative, but then you admit that you always intended it to be pejorative. I’ve shows Bethrick to be a confused individual, not able to keep track of his own argument. In his haste to make other people look stupid, he lost sight of the fact that he achieved his goal, except for the fact that the “person” he made look stupid was himself. Indeed, with all the ammo you provided in your latest diatribe, I can only that you for helping me “discredit” you even more.

Bethrick tries to avoid this analysis by arguing thusly:

“As I said above, I recognize that the connotation of a word or expression can vary from person to person, so I never argued that the expression "invisible magic being" is not pejorative. Rather, I listed these as reasons why I think Christians would be unreasonable, given what they claim and what they want me to believe, to be so easily offended by such expressions.”

But the question was, “why do you find it necessary to pepper your posts with pejoratives?” You admit it was a pejorative. So why use them? No one said anything about being “offended.” Bethrick gives himself too much credit. He does not offend us, we laugh at him. Betrhick’s backtracking now. His only out is to misunderstand the original question, “why pepper your posts with pejoratives?” His answer, “why are Christians so offended?” If we are or aren’t, that doesn’t answer the question, does it. What a joker.

“Again, I'm wondering how carefully Paul read my blog. I explicitly explained what I meant by the term 'invisible' when I wrote: ‘Christians claim that their god is invisible – that is, no one can see it, not even believers themselves.’”

Yes but my problem was that the verse Bethrick used here had nothing to do with “seeing” God with our eyes. Bethrick knows this but takes an opportunity to make me look like I didn’t read his blog.

“Paul says that I "seem to confuse words and terms." How so? Which words and terms have I confused?

Paul admits:

Of course Christians have used the word "invisible," but it's not the word we're
concerned with in Bethrick's case, but the meaning poured into the word.

Again, I'm wondering how carefully Paul read my blog. I explicitly explained what I meant by the term 'invisible' when I wrote:
Christians claim that their god is invisible – that is, no one can see it, not even believers themselves. Notice that even when I do take the care to clarify what I mean, Paul belligerently stampedes over it, completely missing its relevance significant to the very point he is trying to make here. This makes him look quite clumsy.”

No, Bethrick looks clumsy. It’s not how Bethrick uses the term, but how Christians use it! Bethrick is saying that Christians should have no problem with the word ‘invisible’ because Christians has used it themselves. I didn’t care about what Bethrick meant, I cared about those who he accused of using the word the way he used it meant! It’s not all about you, Dawson. At any rate, Dawson comes off looking like a second rate hack. How many times is this now that I’ve shows how he’s lost track of his own argument. It’s sad, really.

“The point he wants to make is that I have coupled 'imaginary' and 'invisible' together, so that when something is said to be invisible, that implies it is therefore also imaginary. In other words, he's accusing me of poisoning the well when I make use of a word which Christians themselves - as Paul himself admits! - use in describing their god. This is amazing!”

What’s amazing is how dense Dawson is! I argued that how the Bible uses the word has “epistemic and spiritual” “connnotations!” I then argued that Dawson means the word to have different “connnotations.” As I said in my original response, Dawson confuses words and terms, probably one of the most basic errors in reasoning.

“Paul seems to think that "invisible friend" is meant to be understood as imaginary.”

Yes, because that’s how you meant it. Here, here’s what you say next:

“Likewise, when Christians tell me that they have an invisible object of worship, I know that this means they have a pretend and imaginary object of worship.”

See! Dawson exchanged “invisible” for “pretend.” So, was he or wasn’t he using the word “invisible” to mean, “pretend?” Bethrick walks into my traps. He acts a fool.

But, above he contradicted himself!

“But it's not at all the case that I equate the two. I cannot see oxygen, for instance, but I would not say that someone is merely imagining if he says that human beings cannot live without it.”

But we in fact found out that he does indeed equate the two! This is too perfect. I couldn’t make atheism look any worse if I pretended to be a disciple of John Loftus and transform his “bird man” argument into a “gill boy” argument!

Dawson said, “Likewise, when Christians tell me that they have an invisible object of worship, I know that this means they have a pretend and imaginary object of worship.” See, Dawson takes “invisible” here to mean “imaginary” but we just read him saying, “Duh, I don’t confuse the two.” Dawson’s just giving us proof of what Darwin said,

"With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" -Charles Darwin

And so we can let Dawson’s monkey-mind slide on this little goof up, after all, we’d all let a baboon slide.

“I wonder if Paul's son really thinks his invisible friend is imaginary. After all, his daddy pretends to have an invisible friend named Jesus, so why would we be surprised when Paul's son picks up the same habit? Like father, like son, they say. Paul is modeling a behavior to his son when he goes to church every Sunday to worship something no one sees.”

Well, it was illustrative. My son doesn’t have an imaginary friend. Indeed, he really gets a laugh out of atheists. For example, when he listened to my debate with Barker you should have seen him rolling when Barker said that there’s no cosmic difference between broccoli and us! However, I teach my son to be a bit more cogent than Bethrick. You see, Bethrick just implied that “if we can’t see it, it must be pretend.” However, above he said, “I cannot see oxygen, for instance, but I would not say that someone is merely imagining if he says that human beings cannot live without it.” But if -- As Dawson himself admits -- not seeing something is no reason to think it’s imaginary then, on Dawson’s own terms, just because he can’t see God doesn’t mean that God’s imaginary! What goof this atheist is.

I then mentioned Wonder Woman’s jet as a thought experiment, which showed that it’s not inconceivable that we could “sense” invisible things. Dawson doesn’t like to think and so that’s why he had to make fun of it. Dawson frequently uses laughter as a diversionary tactic. At any rate, since he didn’t bother to offer I substantive counter, I win this point by default. Dawson not offering substance? Hmmm, who would have thunk it? A classic “Dawsonian.”

“Why is this controversial? Why does this understanding of 'invisible' mean that I am "stuck at the superficial level of words"? What other than words do I have to go by?”

Oh, now it all makes sense. Above Dawson said this,

“Perhaps Paul's god is "stuck at the superficial level of words" as well, since it stubbornly refuses to show itself empirically.”

But terms and propositions also “refuse to show themselves empirically.” I’ve finally found out why Dawson misrepresents so many people. He never bother’s to understand their “meaning” because there is no such thing as “meaning.” In addition, when they accuse him of misrepresenting them he’ll just say, “well your meaning refuses to show itself empirically.” Dawson’s a real riot! Stay tuned for this “refusal to show something empirically,” it’ll come in handy down the road.

“Theism by its very nature is dishonest; it is dishonest to reality, to truth, to man.”

No, Dawson, ‘truth’ is “pretend” because it’s “invisible” and “refuses to show itself empirically.” Dawson must be an anti-realist about truth, then!

“Paul seems to flip-flop back and forth on whether or not we have some means by which we can acquire awareness of the god he worships. It's invisible, but invisible doesn't necessarily mean that it cannot be empirically detected.”

No I don’t. I analyzed the concept of “invisibility.” In Dawson’s terms it’s ‘invisible’ because “no one can see it” but that’s because God is “spirit” and this is why it can’t be empirically detected. Dawson just can’t seem to follow through the argument. He can’t just put his little thinking cap on, honestly engage his critic, and make some appropriate inferences. But he doesn’t do what he does for the sake of honest critique. He does it so the three teenagers who regularly post in his comments section will post, “Wooow, nice job, Dawson.” That goes to his head and he thinks everyone should be like that. When I read his stuff and laugh, he gets his panties in a bunch.

“By stipulation, they mean that we'll never be able to acquire awareness of his object of worship by means of one of our five senses (Paul seems to think he has a sixth one that isn't up to the task either).”

However, you can’t acquire awareness of logic, truth, and absolute moral laws by means of your senses either. So let’s just shuffle those right out the door along with God. Then Dawson makes himself look more out of the loop. There’s debate over how many senses there are. Some think that “audibilizing” is another sense. So, they would look like this: sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing and audibilizing. I made the parenthetical comment so as to cover myself in case Bethrick thought audibilizing was a 6th sense. Apparetnly Bethrick doesn’t care if I’m not careful. But if I’m sloppy, he uses that to his advantage. If I’m careful, he uses that too to his advantage. This is the problem with trying to dialogue with atheists. Most don’t care about real debate, they’re just sophists.

So what have we learned? Bethrick is an anti-realist about truth, logic, etc., and he also doesn’t believe in audibilizing! Fine. But apes also grunt. How would Dawson’s ancestors feel?

“For the Christian, everything depends on his moodswings, his emotional investment in Jesus-belief. That's why it is so important to Paul to prove that the expression "invisible magic being" is pejorative.”

I trust in Jesus regardless how I feel. But, I don’t need to “prove your expression was pejorative.” You said it was. That’s all I wanted to prove. I won. You lost. Your psychologizing that my feelings were hurt was just your way to save face.

“But [Christians] don't have a problem when the bible uses the same word. And I'm accused of being "stuck at the superficial level of words"?”

Of course not, because Christians, unlike Bethrick, understand that words have meanings. We get the “meaning” from the “context.” This is all basic stuff. Unfortuanately Bethrick doesn’t believe in hermeneutics because hermeneutical rules can’t be “empirically tested.” It’s all so clear, now.

“We have seen that Paul made a rather weak attempt to discredit my use of 'invisible' in the expression ‘invisible magic being.’”

Oh, but on the contrary. We saw Bethrick admit he used “invisible” to mean “imaginary.” His bemoaning the fact that he meant it as “can’t be seen” was just a smoke screen.

“Now we turn our attention to the last element in the expression that Paul finds offensive, namely the word 'magic'.”

Okay, let’s watch Bethrick botch another one.

“And it is at this point that Paul's pettiness shifts into higher gear. He writes:

...let’s move on then to his justification for applying the term “magic” to God. It’s important to note that Bethrick calls magic a “term.” The problem is that he runs to the dictionary. Dictionaries do not have terms in them, only words and the building blocks for making a term.

Paul seems to be saying that a term cannot consist of a single word (if that's not what he's trying to say, then he needs to put more effort into making his position clear).”

Bethrick shows his inability to grasp even the simplist of logical points. I simply said that Bethrick called magic a “term” and then went to the dictionary. I then said that dictionaries do not have terms. Put differently, dictionaries simply report the way a word has been used. Nowhere in my quoted statement can the position that I don’t think terms can be made up of a single word be inferred. So, Bethrick and his 5th grade comprehension skills cause unnecessary debates. I simply said dictionaries don’t have terms, just words.

And so based on a misunderstanding Bethrick goes on for paragraphs making himself look like a bafoon. I mean, baboon. He also gives us a self-autobiographical story telling us just how much he has not bothered to read a logic book. My point about dictionaries is a philosophical one. It’s made by his Objectivist guru, Kelley, in The Art of Reasoning. I’ll skip over this huffing and puffing at my brick home segament of Bethrick’s diatribe.

“This source also acknowledges the association of magic with "the supernatural." Christians want us to believe in "the supernatural," so it seems they should welcome the use of the adjective 'magic' when speaking of their god and other invisible beings.”

Here’s another area where Bethrick blows it. There’s plenty of ways to understand “supernatural” and only one of them is “magical.” But, Bethrick with his handy dandy dictionary, tramples over all the refinement and shows us that atheism really is a stone age religion. For one example, look at Wiki and how it parses various understandings of “supernatural:”

Bethrick totally fails to make any apology for equating “magic” with the “supernatural” in the sense that Christians and philosophers around the globe mean it. Maybe this is why one atheist commentor over at T-Blog referred to objectivism as “Mickey Mouse Philosophy?”

“Again, Paul's reading comprehension skills come under question. I stated the purpose of my blog quite explicitly: James states that he “never understood why” I use this term, so I will take this opportunity to explain it.”

No, James didn’t understand why you “peppered your post with play ground pejoratives.” It is Bethrick’s reading comprehension that comes into question, again. One could pepper their posts with pejoratives, or one could not. One could also pepper them with “playground” pejoratives, or one could not. Anderson asked why Bethrick peperred his posts with playground pejoratives. It had nothing to do with why you use the term. It had everything to do with why the use of pejoratives. Is Bethrick really this delusional? Well, I guess when you have a worldview, which says you used to be a monkey that picked the bugs of your friends and ate them, some delusional attitudes are to be expected. The “primal beast” must be raging within Bethrick.

“Notice that I did not write to refute the charge that "invisible magic being" is ‘pejorative.’”

Yes, yes, we all know that. However, Anderson’s question had to do with pejoratives. Does Bethrick make it a habit to “answer” questions people never asked? All of this is ad hoc obviously. Why? Because Bethrick can’t answer my post so he pretends that he had something else in mind. But he can’t deny the paper trail. Maybe in his cartoon head this all made sense, but in the real world, we can check what he says here with the facts.

“Paul then feigns (again) to speak for everyone:

We can all agree that Bethrick failed to defend his case and answer James Anderson.

Specifically defend what case? James expressed that he did not understand why I use a term that he considers pejorative.”

This is getting old now. Look at the revisionist history. James expressed he didn’t understand why Bethrick used a pejorative! Anderson never intimated that he didn’t understand the term. Bethrick’s revisionist history makes him look like a fool.

“Again, I use the term 'invisible magic being' because it is open-ended. That is my primary purpose in using it: it is intended to cover any postulated mystical entity which is said to exist beyond the reach of our senses…”

No, you use it to make fun of theists. Bethrick can’t debate, so he resorts to making fun. He’s like the kid who eats his boogers so the other kids will laugh at him. You can stop now Dawson; we are definitely all laughing at you.

“Paul then stated:

Indeed, give[n] the reformed view of providence, there are no such things as “natural forces.”

Um, yeah. Again please: Paul says "there are no such things as 'natural forces'." Try telling this to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, or those who were swallowed up by the December 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. " such things as 'natural forces'"?”

But ‘natural forces’ is a vague term. Bahnsenh gets at what I was getting at:

It is sometimes thought that miracles are super-natural because they amount to divine intrusions into the ordinary and predictable operations of an otherwise "closed" and self-perpetuating domain of "nature." Mechanical metaphors are often used to give a picture of this natural order, for instance the metaphor of a well-designed clock which God devised, wound up, stood back from, and now runs on its own - except for those rare occasions when the clock-maker steps in to interfere with the way He intended the clock to operate.

The more philosophically sophisticated way to describe this situation is to speak of "natural law." The events which transpire in the universe, whether monumental or minuscule, are viewed as inevitable and predictable according to causal factors which can, in theory, be described in systematic, law-like principles. Many ancient Greek philosophers (e.g., Heraclitus, the Stoics) conceived of an eternal and impersonal "logos" or "reason" governing or flowing through the realm of matter, thus organizing all motion or activity into a rational order.

The religious version of this notion that there are "laws of nature" postulates a personal God as the origin of the material world and of the causal principles by which it operates, but this God (and the free or arbitrary exercise of His almighty will) is nevertheless "separated" from the ordinary and ongoing workings of the world He made. God has chosen not to directly govern every detail in the created world on a moment by moment basis, and thus "nature" has laws inherent in it which determine what things are like and how things happen. Variations on this conception of God's world as governed by impersonal natural laws are found in a wide range of Christian professions, from Deism to Thomism (Roman Catholicism) to evangelical Arminianism.

Given the above conception, the super-naturalness of a "miracle" consists in its "violation" of the laws of nature. God interferes with the machinery of the world in its law-directed actions and procedures. This is a flawed and terribly misleading way of thinking about the cosmos and about God, however. God's self-revelation in the Scriptures offers no support for the idea that there are impersonal laws of nature which make the world operate mechanically and with an inevitability which is free (ordinarily) from the choices of God's will. In fact, the Bible offers us a view of the world which is quite contrary to this, one where God and His agents are seen as intimately, continuously, and directly involved in all of the detailed events which transpire in the created order.
God personally created and now personally directs all the affairs of the world. The sustaining of all animal life and renewing of the plants in this world is the work of God's Spirit (Isaiah 63:14; Psalm 104:29-30); Jehovah's Spirit is intimately involved with the processes of the created world, from the withering of the flowers to driving the rushing streams (Isaiah 40:7; 59:19). God's decretive will governs all things which happen, from the changing of the seasons (Genesis 8:22) to the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30). Even the apparently fortuitous events in this life are planned and carried out by His sovereign will (Proverbs 16:33; 1 Kings 22:28, 34). Paul declares that God "works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11). That is, He causes everything to happen which happens. There is no semi-autonomous, self-operating realm of "nature" whose impersonal laws are occasionally "violated" by the God who reveals Himself in the pages of the Bible. Nothing is independent of Him and His sovereign, immanent, personal will.


“Paul took another leap of inference:

I take it that Dawson is calling the traditional attribute “omnipotence,” magic. He’s saying, “Hey, God is supernatural, and he has power, therefore he’s magical.” But this is obviously an equivocation. The problem here is that if this is what it is to be “magical” than the term can be applied to nothing else!

Amazing, isn't it? I nowhere affirmed that 'magic' is identical to what Christians mean by 'omnipotence', but here Paul wants to "take it" that I have made such an equation. Why? Well, it allows him to accuse me with another fallacy.”

No, because God’s power is His “omnipotence.” Bethrick asks, “What do Christians mean by the terms.” Well, when we speak of God’s ability to do X or Y we’re speaking of his “omniscience.” Therefore, my fallacy charge sticks. Bethrick wants, in some instances, to say, “how do Christians mean the term” and then in other instances he wants to tell us what we mean by terms. Apes frequently want their cake and to eat it to. Dawson’s reverting to his animal self. This is the level ape-boy wants to debate at. He thinks talking like this is how you “incinerate” an opponant. So, I’m just being a better Bethrick than Bethrick.

“Examples can include, but are not exclusively restricted to: flying on a broomstick, walking on unfrozen water, opening giant doors at the utterance of a command, parting the Red Sea, conjuring reptiles, turning water into wine, endowing love potions with their mystical properties, etc.”

But apparently “natural forces” can turn reptiles into birds, two-way lungs into one-way lungs, whales into cows, sea creaturs into reptillian land creatues, and then reptillian land creatures into mice, and then, from mice to men! Immaterial “minds” can just “emerge” from configurations of “matter.” And alien life forms can ride comets to earth, crash land, and then turn into all the flora and fauna we see around us! All that matters is that you call this a “natural force” rather than a God. No matter that you give it the same job! “Momma Nature” can do it all, just give her the time.

Furthermore, is Bethrick postulating that it would be impossible for “Momma Nature” to “make” men who can walk on unfrozen water? This might be a “survival adnavtage” and as long as you call it that, anything can happen! What a goof ball Bethrick and his illy little worldview is.

“I thought man was “created in the image of God.” How can man do something that god cannot do?”

Getting the point yet? Bethrick puts all his money on rhetoric. He doesn’t bother to engage in argument or analysis. He just takes cheap shots.

Regarding my argument that God does not wish, Bethrick claims,

“For now I think it is noteworthy to point out that Paul apparently disagrees with Cornelius Van Til. For Van Til clearly assumed that the Christian god can wish: ... it was God’s will that sin should come into the world. He wished to enhance his glory by means of its punishment and removal. (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 160; emphasis added).”

Obviously “wished” here is used differently than what a little child does on his birthday. Bethrick knows all of this. He knows the public will read his use of the word “wish” in the second sense. Here’s another sense. Bethrick claims,

“Now for some bible quotes. Note how many times the bible portrays its god wishing:

Psalm 115:3: “Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes.”

Proverbs 21:1: “The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Obviously here, “wishes” MEANS wants. Yes, God does whatever He wants to do. He furthermore has the power to achieve what He wants to do. Bethrick’s song and dance only works on the other monkey’s who applaud his antics in his combox. Nevertheless, the world of thinkers sees Bethrick all hairy, with a party hat on and a tutu on.

“So according to the bible, which I always thought spoke for Christianity, the Christian god is in fact supposed to wish.”

Not in the way Bethrick means it, and we all know it. To side with Bethrick here is to throw out any desire to make sure you understand your opponant and treat his position with care.

“Again, Paul thinks that he can say that his god does not wish, because Paul determines what his god is and is not, what his god can and cannot do. The reason why Christians have so many internal disagreements is because one Christian will imagine his god one way, while another Christian imagines his god another way, and never shall the two meet.”

More ridiculous claims by Bethrick. Hmmm, out of the 20 or so responses I could give here, which should I choose? I’ll choose this one: The reason atheists have so many internal disagreements is because one atheist imagines the world one way while the other another way, and never the twain shall meet. Bethrick just makes up a worldview, and so do his biddies. Then they all argue about their made up worldviews. But to us they all look like monkey’s fighting over a banana.




“Paul then tried to launch an attack against Objectivism. He wrote:

Objectivism has three axioms which they think are unique to Objectivism and unique to Dawson’s own worldview and also devastating to Christian theism. They are: the axioms of (1) existence, (2) identity, and (3) consciousness.

Does Paul know of any other philosophies which name these facts explicitly as their axioms in the manner that Objectivism does? Paul sometimes tries to claim that these axioms are not unique to Objectivism, though I've not seen him identify any other philosophy which affirms them as Objectivism does. And if Paul could produce another philosophy which happened to agree with Objectivism's axioms, would it follow from this that either the axioms or Objectivism as a whole is false? Of course not.”

1. No, I did launch an attack against Objectivism. Dawson may think it wasn’t a good one, but I launched one nonetheless.

2. Taken in a way that’s unproblematic, they’re not a threat to Christianity or unique. Taken in the “special” way that Objectivists mean them they’re not axiomatic and still not a threat to Christianity, as I’ll show below.

“Paul reveals his level of understanding when he gives his flash-card summary of Objectivism:

Real fast and in order, (1) is also called by the famous phrase “existence exists” (when you ask Objectivists what “existence exists” means they’ll tell you it means “things exist”). (2) Simply states that an entity is itself and not another thing (A is A). (3) States that (a) consciousness does not have primacy over existence (something must exist in order for you to be conscious, a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is, according to Rand, a contradiction in terms) and (b) consciousness is axiomatic because you’d have to be conscious to deny that you were conscious. This is pretty close, though much more can be said. For instance, the implication of all three axioms is that existence exists independent of consciousness, that consciousness did not create reality, that the task of consciousness is to perceive and identify what exists, not create and alter what exists at will.”

3. So, I revealed that my understanding of Objectivism is “pretty close.”

4. Notice how Dawson doesn’t show how the implication of those axioms is “that existence exists independent of consciousness, that consciousness did not create reality, that the task of consciousness is to perceive and identify what exists, not create and alter what exists at will.”

5. “Things exist” does not tell us that “things exist independent of any consciousness.” There’s no logical rule by which that inference can be made. Indeed, Piekoff tells us that “things exist” does not tell us anything about the nature of the things that exist.” Therefore, if “things exist” does not tell us ANYTHING about the nature of the things that exist it cannot; therefore, tell us that they are the kind of things that “exist independent of consciousness.” Same goes with his claim that thiese “axioms” tell us that “consciousness did not create reality.” (Of course, “reality” is ambiguous. Christians don’t believe that God created Himself.) If we don’t know ANYTHING (per Piekoff and Bethrick) about the nature of the existents then we don’t know that their nature is such that it is necessarily uncreated. As far as 3a is concerned, that’s just an assertion of his. Prove that an all-powerful God can’t do what He so chooses with what he created. Bethrick won’t, though; he’ll just say he doesn’t need to prove that something false is false.

“Paul makes use of these truths whenever he shoves a donut in his mouth, drives his car, makes love to his wife, or sets down to write another scathing post against Dawson Bethrick.”

6. I may make use of the uninteresting version, but Dawson’s take on what he thinks the axioms are is a different story.

7. Notice the above is what’s called a “naked assertion.”

“But when he's confronted with these truths in the context of an apologetic debate, that's when he begins to buck.”

8. Wow, Bethrick keeps flapping his gums, when’s he going to get interesting?

9. Oh, note that this is yet another “naked assertion.”

“Paul then wrote:

It’s dubious how these are used as an argument against theism, though. For example, how does the fact that “things exist” even remotely count as an argument against theism?

What about (1), (2) and (3) did Paul not understand? The axiom 'existence exists' is a starting point. If we begin with the fact that existence exists, then there’s no need to posit something that created existence.”

10. Is he really this dense?

11. First, as Bethrick says, “things exist” tells us nothing of what kind of thing exists. So, according to Bethrick, (1) cannot mean that what exists is “uncreated.”

12. God has always existed, so “something exists” could not possibly be used to prove that God doesn’t exist. And, given His existence, existence has always existed.

13. What kind of things “didn’t need to be created?” Before this silly little post of his, it didn’t exist. Therefore, some existents are created!

14. Who posits the “creation of existence?” Not any Christian I know of. This would imply that God created Himself. So, some thing has always existed, some things exist contingently. Thus you’re little axiom isn’t a threat to theism.

15. “Existence,” as such, has not always “existed” in Dawson’s worldview. “Existence” is a concept, concepts, according to Bethrick, is the creations of human minds. Dawson means “existENTS” have always existed. Indeed, since “existence” is a concept then it appears that in Dawson’s little worldview “existence” was created by a form of consciousness!

“We all have to start somewhere. What is your starting point?”

16. Depemds on what we mean by “starting point.” “Starting point” for me has notions of preeminence. It has notions of “epistemological authority.” God’s word is my epistemic starting point in this sense. But, I suspect Dawson’s confusing the order of knowing with the orde rof being.

“This question may be difficult to answer if one is reluctant to let go of sacred cow assumptions and beliefs that he's in the habit of accepting as true on faith.”

17. What does he mean by “accepting something as true on faith?” Does he think we must have evidence for all of our beliefs? Then what’s his evidence for his belief in his axioms? If there’s evidence for axiomatic beliefs then they’re not axiomatic. Furthermore, this assumption fals prey to an infinite regress argument.

“It is important to notice how the theist's would-be starting point assumes the truth of mine.”

18. But I’ve already sliced and diced yours. Furthermore, notice that Dawson’s “starting point” is not true. Concepts are not true or false. “Existence” isn’t true or false.

19. I’ve also noted that the idea that “existence exists” is not axiomatic sicne it presupposes a consciousness which is required to create the universal “existence.” Dawson’s the cartoonist illustrating his little world.

“If we begin with the fact of existence, then it should be obvious that it is nonsensical to ask for an explanation of existence. There goes the cosmological argument.”

20. But of course, this is ridiculous. The cosmological argument doesn’t seek to show how any existing entity came to be, it seeks to show how the existence of “contingent” entities came to be. So, it’s entirely appropriate to ask for an “explanation” for the existence of contingent things.” However, let me say, I am in full agreement that it’s nonsensical to ask for an “explanation” of God’s existence!

“Where does Christianity explicitly affirm the axiom ‘existence exists’?”

21. Taken as the idea that something has always existed, we affirm it in God.

22. Objectivism can’t affirm this in this sense since “existence” was created by consciousness.

23. If Dawson means this to mean that unconscious bits of matter have always existed, then where’s the argument? I certainly don’t assume that “unconscious bits of matter has always existed” when I deny it.

“Paul writes:

Christianity teaches that God exists and has existed eternally.

And just to entertain such a teaching, the Objectivist axioms would have to be true: something would have to exist, that something would have to be itself as opposed to something other than itself, and you would have to be conscious in order to have awareness of such teachings.”

24. See, Christianity taught the axiom that “something exists” before Objectivism did!

25. Dawson confuses my ability to entertain the idea with God’s eternal existence.

26. So, since Dawson affirms that Christianity taught this before Objectivism did, then Dawson myst presuppose the Christian worldview to “understand” what he said.

“Paul writes:

The Objectivist makes a mountain out of molehill with this one.

How so? Objectivism is simply making the rational thinker's conceptually irreducible starting point explicit.”

27. Because in the uninteresting sense, “things exist” isn’t unique to you.

28. As you poured meaning into the term, e.g., “uncreated, unconscious stuff,” we saw that this wasn’t “axiomatic.” Remember, “existence exists” doesn’t tell us anything about the nature of what exists. And so the uninteresting claim, “something exists” isn’t problematic, but your qualified claim is since it’s not axiomatic not acceptable given what else you say. If your claim doesn’t say anything about the nature of what exists then it doesn’t say that what exists is “an eternally existing conscious God.” If that is denied, then your claim does tell us “something” about the nature of what exists.

“How is that “mak[ing] a mountain out of a molehill”? Does Paul have any sustainable objection to make against Objectivism?”

29. I suppose I could just spout unjustified assertions as you are.

“Does he begin by identifying a starting point that does not assume the truth of mine? No, he begins by mischaracterizing the Objectivist axiom 'existence exists', which he shouldn't need to do if he were so confident in his contention…”

30. But above he said my understanding was “pretty close.” So, a “pretty close” characterization of Objectivism is a “mischaracterization” in Dawson’s little sophistic world. Can the guy even keep his thoughts straight from sentence to sentence?

“How will making an argument cause “existence exists” to no longer be axiomatic?”

31. Because you just told us that “existence exists” really means that “unconscious stuff has always existed” and this isn’t axiomatic. Got it?

“What “epistemological missiles” could have any meaning if the axiom ‘existence exists’ were not true?”

32. My statements can have meaning apart from the claim that “unconscious stuff exists.” “Unconscious” because Dawson contrasts the primacy of existence with the primacy of consciusness. So, the existence that exists must be “unconscious.”

“The axioms are invulnerable; they have to be true for anyone to launch any "epistemological missles"[sic] in the first place.”

33. Not your axioms, as we’ve seen. Notice though that all Dawson does is repetes himself, over and over and over again. He thinsk this counts as an argument.

34. I launch missiles, not “missles,” whatever those are.

“Paul writes:

So the objectivist has two options: (a) keep his axiom and loose his critique against Christianity or (b) loose his axiom and be forced to defend a position not unlike this one: “existence exists means that only indestructible hard bits of matter exist and even an omnipotent God cannot affect them.”

I was hoping that Paul would explain how assembling an argument (any argument?) would cause 'existence exists' to lose its axiomatic status. Instead, he does a drive-by on this and assumes that's sufficient, then lists two alternatives (as is so common with religious apologists: they love to back people in between an imaginary rock and a fictitious hard place) from which we're supposed to make some difficult choices. The question is: Why are Paul's (a) and (b) our only two options?”

35. Because they way you understand “existence exists” isn’t axiomatic.

36. There are two options. Either your view is axiomatic, or it’s not.

“Namely: Begin with the fact that existence exists, recognize that it exists independent of consciousness, and move on from there. What’s wrong with that?”

37. Where’s the argument for this? Nowhere. Indeed, I argued that “existence exists” is dependant upon consciousness since “existence” is a term, or universal, and thus created by consciousnesses. Does Bethrick think that “existence” exists? I mean, could he take a picture of it? What does “existence” look like?

“Paul continues:

I’ll address (3) briefly since (2) concerns us with the post by Bethrick that I’m replying to. So, regarding consciousness: (i) Dawson’s a materialist and so I don’t think he can account for consciousness.

Where does Paul get the idea that I am a materialist? Does Paul not realize that one need not be a materialist in order to reject belief in invisible magic beings?”

38. Now, this is priceless. Sophomoric Bethrick at his best. Where do I get this idea? Hmmm, maybe Bethrick himself!?

In this little post by Bethrick, we find the ammo we need:

39. Bethrick writes,

“Yes, I do accept that there is non-physical existence, but in each instance I recognize that the non-physical is in one way or another dependent upon something that is physical. Consciousness, for instance, is non-physical (I reject reductionism; see H. Binswanger, The Metaphysics of Consciousness for details why), but while I hold that consciousness is not reducible to the physical, I hold that it is dependent upon the human nervous system, which is physical, for its existence. Irreducibility and dependence are two different issues, so there is no contradiction here. Furthermore, I do not accept the claim that there are non-physical entities; the non-physical is always an attribute of a physical entity. For instance, in the case of consciousness, I hold that consciousness is an attribute of man, where man is the indivisible entity possessing consciousness as an attribute. Similarly, gravity is a property of matter; gravity is not an entity, but the earth (which possesses gravity as an attribute) is an entity.”

So, all the entities that exists or physical but its there are some properties that are immaterial. The properties are dependent upon the existence of physical things. They supervene on, or emerge from, or are an epiphenomena of physical entities. Well to me it looks as if Dawson’s a property dualist! It looks to me as if he holds one of the standard materialist (or, physicalist) positions. Let’s quote a few:

Physicalist Donald Davidson writes, “"[M]ental characteristics are in some sense dependent, or supervenient, on physical characteristics. Such supervenience might be taken to mean that there cannot be two events alike in all physical respects but differing in some mental respect, or that an object cannot alter in some mental respect without altering in some physical respect."

The Philosophy of Mind Dictionary states: “The fact that supervening properties need not be identical to their subvening properties is the source of the great appeal of supervenience to contemporary philosophers of mind who have come to think that the mental cannot be identical to the physical (largely due to considerations of multiple realizability) yet want to be physicalists and thus hold on to the notion that the mental is nonetheless determined by the physical. Thus they subscribe to the thesis of psychophysical supervenience, AKA, the supervenience thesis.”

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy agrees, “Physicalism is the thesis that everything is physical, or as contemporary philosophers sometimes put it, that everything supervenes on the physical.”

In his book Physicalism, Or Something near Enough, Kim argues that qualia cannot be reduced to the physical.

“Epiphenomenalism: In the Philosophy of Mind, a dualist theory of mind-body interaction which maintains all mental events are causally dependent upon physical events (i.e., brain states). According to this theory brain events cause mental events, but not vice versa.”

“Property dualism is a philosophy of mind, and a subbranch of emergent materialism. It asserts that when matter is organized in the appropriate way (i.e., organized in the way that living human bodies are organized), mental properties emerge. Different versions of property dualism describe this in different ways, such as epiphenomenalism and interactionism.”

“Epiphenomenalism is a view in philosophy of mind according to which some or all mental states are mere epiphenomena (side-effects or by-products) of physical states of the world.”

Now, let’s quote Bethrick again,

“Yes, I do accept that there is non-physical existence, but in each instance I recognize that the non-physical is in one way or another dependent upon something that is physical. ….but while I hold that consciousness is not reducible to the physical, I hold that it is dependent upon the human nervous system, which is physical, for its existence.” - DAWSON BETHRICK, THE MATERIALIST.

However, this is all understandable since (a) Dawson’s a descendant from a monkey and (b) since he’s a follower of Ayn Rand. Rand was severely mentally deficient, possibly retarded. I say that because of her inability to grasp philosophical positions and then present them correctly. Bethrick is fond of chanting “I’m not a materialist” but then he goes on to make materialist claims for himself. He’s either stupid or deceptive, and I don’t think he’s deceptive.

40. Something else, which Bethrick has claimed, is interesting. Note above he said that the mind is “immaterial” but he also has said this,

"I don’t know what “immaterial” means. All I know is what it doesn’t mean. As I have stated before, I do not know how I would go about proving that the mind is not composed of a material that we do not yet understand."

So he says he doesn’t “understand” what “immaterial” means and that the mind is not composed of a material we don’t understand. The conclusion, therefore, would be that Bethrick doesn’t think the mind is immaterial! Because if he “understands” what the mind is composed of, and it’s immaterial, then he understands what “immaterial” means. Is this guy for real? Also, saying that the “mind” is “composed” of a “material” strikes me as he’s saying that mind is matter. Well, who knows with this guy? I guess he was thinking monkey’s thoughts after them.

At any rate, lest’s move on.

“What is Paul's primary objection to materialism? Is it not its incompatibility with the fact that we are conscious? Consciousness is often thought to be something other than material in nature, so a view which stipulates that matter and only matter exists (and that nothing that is not matter does not exist) seems to pose a problem with this fact. Paul can put his missile-launcher down, for Objectivism explicitly affirms the fact that we are conscious. If Paul still thinks there's a problem here, he's welcome to produce a statement from the Objectivist corpus which stipulates that only matter exists and that consciousness does not exist.”

41. Is Bethrick really this dense? As he said, if the mind is not material, and if Objectivism claims that it is, then Objectivisms wrong. But Bethrick wants to say that the mind is immaterial (but we saw that even this is open to dispute), that’s fine; we can refute his position from here.

“Meanwhile, what exactly does Paul mean by “account for consciousness”? I simply recognize that consciousness is real. Why do I need to “account for” it?”

42. Because I’m going to argue that given your other beliefs you’re holding inconsistent beliefs. Bethrick recognizes A is real. But if beliefs B, C, D and E don’t allow for A then, if Bethrick’s entire package is to be consistently held, we either need to give up A or B, C, D, and E.

“What am I supposed to say at this point? “Duh, I donno, must be God did it!”? How does Paul know that I have no “account for” consciousness?”

43. No, you’re supposed to say, “Duh, I dunno, must be Momma Nature did it” (more on this pejorative below).

“Paul wrote:

Indeed, beliefs, thoughts, and intentionality cannot be had on Dawson’s materialism.

Can Paul site one statement that I have made that pins me as a materialist? No, he cannot, for I have not affirmed materialism. And even if I did, would that be any better for him? Many materialists have affirmed the reality of consciousness.”

44. Yes, I’ve pinned him as a materialist, or, rather, he’s pinned himself.

45. Let’s offer some arguments:

a) ****************

“12. The Case Against Physicalism I: Qualia and Consciousness

Having provided an answer to the interpretation question, I now turn to the truth question: is physicalism (as we have interpreted it so far) true? I will first discuss three reasons for supposing that physicalism is not true. Then I will consider the case for physicalism.

The main argument against physicalism is usually thought to concern the notion of qualia, the felt qualities of experience. The notion of qualia raises puzzles of its own, puzzles having to do with its connection to other notions such as consciousness, introspection, epistemic access, acquaintance, the first-person perspective and so on. However the idea that we will discuss here is the apparent contradiction between the existence of qualia and physicalism.

Perhaps the clearest version of this argument is Jackson's knowledge argument. (There are also a number of other arguments in this area -- for a very good recent discussion, see Chalmers 1996). This argument asks us to imagine Mary, a famous neuroscientist confined to a black and white room. Mary is forced to learn about the world via black and white television and computers. However, despite these hardships Mary learns (and therefore knows) all that physical theory can teach her. Now, if physicalism were true, it is plausible to suppose that Mary knows everything about the world. And yet -- and here is Jackson's point -- it seems she does not know everything. For, upon being released into the world of color, it will become obvious that, inside her room, she did not know what it is like for both herself and others to see colors -- that is, she did not know about the qualia instantiated by particular experiences of seeing colors. Following Jackson (1986), we may summarize the argument as follows:

P1. Mary (before her release) knows everything physical there is to know about other people.
P2. Mary (before her release) does not know everything there is to know about other people (because she learns something about them on being released).
Conclusion. There are truths about other people (and herself) that escape the physicalist story.

Clearly this conclusion entails that physicalism is false: for if there are truths which escape the physicalist story how can everything supervene on the physical. So a physicalist must either reject a premise or show that the premises don't entail the conclusion.

One of the most lively areas of philosophy of mind concerns the issue of which if any of these responses to the knowledge argument will be successful. The ability response raises questions about whether know-how is genuinely non-propositional (cf. Lycan (1996), Loar (1997) and Stanley and Williamson (forthcoming)), and about whether it gets the facts right to begin with (Braddon Mitchell and Jackson 1996). As against a posteriori physicalism, it has been argued both that it rests on a mistaken approach to the necessary a posteriori (Chalmers 1996, 1999, Jackson 1998), and that the promise of the idea is chimerical anyway (cf. Stoljar 2000). The third response raises questions about the distinction between the object and the theory conception of the physical and associated issues about dispositional and categorical properties (Cf. Chalmers 1996, Lockwood (1992), and Stoljar 2000, 2001.)

13. The Case Against Physicalism II: Meaning and Intentionality
Philosophers of mind often divide the problems of physicalism into two: first, there are the problems of qualia, typified by the knowledge argument; second, there are problems of intentionality. The intentionality of mental states is their aboutness, their capacity to represent the world as being a certain way. One does not simply think, one thinks of (or about) Vienna; similarly, one does not simply believe, one believes that snow is white. Just as in the case of qualia, some of the puzzles of intentionality derive from facts internal to the notion, and from the relation of this notion to the others such as rationality, inference and language. But others derive from the fact that it seems difficult to square the fact that mental states have intentionality with physicalism. There are a number of ways of developing this criticism but much recent work has concentrated on a certain line of argument that Saul Kripke has found in the work of Wittgenstein (1982).

Kripke's argument is best approached by first considering what is often called a dispositional theory of linguistic meaning. According to the dispositional theory, a word means what it does -- for example, the word ‘red’ means red -- because speakers of the word are disposed to apply to word to red things. Now, for a number of reasons, this sort of theory has been very popular among physicalists. First, the concept of a disposition at issue here is clearly a concept that is compatible with physicalism. After all, the mere fact that vases are fragile and sugar cubes are soluble (both are classic examples of dispositional properties) does not cause a problem for physicalism, so why should the idea that human beings have similar dispositional properties? Second, it seems possible to develop the dispositional theory of linguistic meaning so that it might apply also to intentionality. According to a dispositional theory of intentionality, a mental concept would mean what it does because thinkers are disposed to employ the concept in thought in a certain way. So a dispositional theory seems to hold out the best promise of a theory of intentionality that is compatible with physicalism.

Kripke's argument is designed to destroy that promise. (In fact, Kripke's argument is designed to destroy considerably more than this: the conclusion of his argument is a paradoxical one to the effect that there can be no such a thing as a word's having a meaning. However, we will concentrate on the aspects of the argument that bear on physicalism.) In essence his argument is this. Imagine a situation in which (a) the dispositional theory is true; (b) the word ‘red’ means red for a speaker S; and yet (c) the speaker misapplies the word -- for example, S is looking at a white thing through rose-tinted spectacles and calls it red. Now, in that situation, it would seem that S is disposed to apply ‘red’ to things which are (not merely red but) either-red-or-white-but-seen-through-rose-tinted-spectacles. But then, by the theory, the word ‘red’ means (not red but) either-red-or-white-as-seen-through-rose-tinted-spectacles. But that contradicts our initial claim (b), that ‘red’ means red. In other words, the dispositional theory, when combined with a true claim about the meaning of word, plus a truism about meaning -- that people can misapply meaningful words -- leads to a contradiction and is therefore false.

As with the knowledge argument, the issues surrounding Kripke's argument are very much wide open. But it is important to note that most philosophers don't consider the issues of intentionality as seriously as the issue of qualia when it comes to physicalism. In different vocabularies, for example, both Block (1995) and Chalmers (1996) distinguish between the intentional aspects of the mind or consciousness, and the phenomenal aspects or qualia, and suggest that it is really the latter that is the central issue. As Chalmers notes (1996; p. 24), echoing Chomsky's famous distinction, the intentionality issue is a problem, but the qualia issue is a mystery.

14. The Case Against Physicalism III: Methodological Issues

The final argument I will consider against physicalism is of a more methodological nature. It is sometimes suggested, not that physicalism is false, but that the entire ‘project of physicalism’ -- the project in philosophy of mind of debating whether physicalism is true, and trying to establish or disprove its truth by philosophical argument -- is misguided. This sort of argument has been mounted by a number of writers, but perhaps its most vocal advocate has been Noam Chomsky (2000; see also Searle 1992, 1999).

It is easiest to state Chomsky's criticism by beginning with two points about methodological naturalism. In general it seems rational to agree with the methodological naturalists that the best hope for a theoretical understanding of the world is by pursuing the methods which are typical of the sciences. It would then seem rational as a special case that our best hope for a theoretical understanding of consciousness or experience is by pursuing the methods of the sciences -- by pursuing, as we might put it, the naturalistic project with respect to consciousness. So Chomsky's first point is that it is rational to pursue the naturalistic project with respect to consciousness.

Chomsky's second point is that the physicalist project in philosophy of mind is on the face of it rather different from the naturalistic project. In the first place, the physicalist project is, as we have noted, usually thought of a piece of metaphysics. But there is nothing metaphysical about the naturalistic project, it simply raises questions about what we can hope to explain. In the second place, the physicalist project is normally thought of as being amenable to philosophical argument, whereas it is completely unclear where philosophical argument would enter the naturalistic project. In short, there doesn't seem anything particularly ‘philosophical’ about the naturalistic project -- it simply applies the methods of science to consciousness. But the physicalist project is central to analytic philosophy.

It is precisely at the place where the physicalist project departs from the naturalistic project that Chomsky's criticism begins to take shape. For insofar as it is different from the naturalistic project, there are a number of ways in which the physicalist project is questionable. First, it is hard to see what the project might be -- it is true that throughout the history of philosophy and science one encounters suggestions that one might find out about the world in ways that are distinct from the ones used in the sciences, but these suggestions have always been rather obscure. Second, it is hard see how this sort of project could recommend itself to physicalists themselves -- such a project seems to be a departure from methodological naturalism but most physicalists endorse methodological naturalism as a matter of fact. On the other hand, if the physicalist project does not depart from the naturalistic project, then the usual ways of talking and thinking about that project are highly misleading. For example, it is misleading to speak of it as a piece of metaphysics as opposed to a piece of ordinary science.

In sum, Chomsky's criticism is best understood as a kind of dilemma. The physicalist project is either identical to the naturalistic project or it is not. If it is identical, then the language and concepts that shape the project are potentially extremely misleading; but if it is not identical, then there are a number of ways in which it is illegitimate.


b) If the mind emerged from matter via an evolutionary process, why assume its thoughts are true - especially the more theoretical ones. Those don’t seem to be necessary for survival. Furthermore, what basis is there to believe that our thoughts are aimed at truth, rather than, as evolutionists tell us, survival? Beliefs just need to be consistent for us to survive, not true. If I consistently form the belief that a marathon in the other direction is about to start every time I see a man-eating tiger in the jungle, my belief will have survival value, and that’s what matters in the evolutionist fairy-tale. Don’t take the above on my say-so; look at Dawson’s fellow evolutionists:

"The idea that one species of organism is, unlike all the others, oriented not just toward its own increated prosperity but toward Truth, is as un-Darwinian as the idea that every human being has a built-in moral compass--a conscience that swings free of both social history and individual luck." (Richard Rorty, "Untruth and Consequences," The New Republic, July 31, 1995, pp. 32-36.)

"Boiled down to its essentials, a nervous system that enables the organism to succeed in...feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle [sic] chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in their sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances for survival. Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost." (Praticia Churchland, "Epistemology in the Age of Neuroscience," Journal of Philosophy 84 (October 1987): 548. Cited in, "C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea," Victor Reppert, IVP, 2002, pp. 76-77).

For further support of (b) see here:

An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism

Naturalism Defeated

c) How did a property, which emerged from matter, come to have abstract and necessary ideas, propositions, laws of logic, etc., instanced in it? “Must be Momma Nature Did It?” On a Christian view of things, we’re created in God’s image, and, indeed, we are to think about God - who is necessary, as well as being made with an immaterial self that could have these attributes anyway. This idea fits fine within my worldview. In Dawson’s it’s anything but clear that matter gives rise to a mind, via evolution, that thinks in terms of the above.

d) There is no self that has these properties on Dawson’s view. It would appear that if one cannot account for identity through time then one would have some problems, for example,

i) Who thinks through a syllogism?

ii) Why is it conceivable that I could exist in another person’s body, or disembodied? This modal argument proves that the self is not the body but a substance that exists and has a body.

iii) Dawson holds a property-thing view of man. On this analysis, the identity of a person is somewhat arbitrary. A table is a property-thing. If a leg is removed, is it the same table? How about if all the legs are removed and replaced with legs from another table? What if 51% of it is removed and replaced with 49% of another table?

iv) How does fear of future pain and punishment make sense on the property-thing view? How does punishing someone for a crime “they” did 10 years ago make sense. Many more arguments could be given, as well as the defeaters to the two main arguments for identity on a property-thing view - the body and memory views.

e) How is intentionality accounted for? The mental states are just free riders on brain states. How is the mental state of, or about, say, an apple? Certain things such as reflection of light cause the brain state, but why would this cause the mental state to be of or about the apple? Must be Momma Nature did it.

f) How does the mind emerge from matter? Does it come from nothing? Or, does matter hold the potential for mind? But on this view panpsychism would seem to hold, as well as the possibility that a “big mind” could emerge from ‘the world.” Thus how does Dawson’s view remove the possibility of an “invisible magic being?” Much, much more could be said about (f) as it is further developed.

g) Remember Bethrick wrote, “Perhaps Paul's god is "stuck at the superficial level of words" as well, since it stubbornly refuses to show itself empirically.” And “Christians claim that their god is invisible – that is, no one can see it, not even believers themselves.” Can we see Bethrick’s mind? Is it empirically show-able? Can we touch it, smell it, taste it, or see it or hear it? If not, then does Bethrick believe in the existence of invisible and empirically undetectable mind?

I’ll stop here.


“I've seen many Objectivist assemble arguments against theism, many of them pointing to the metaphysical subjectivism inherent in theism as its own defeater.”

46. Ah yes, Dawson’ (in)famous argument from metaphysical subjectivsm. Let’s address it.

47. Bethrick wants to capitalize on the common undertsanding people have of “subjectivism.” Sometimes it’s taken to mean “relativism.” Now, if reality were dependant on multiple human minds, then we’d have relativism. But, in theism, there’s a sense in which reality is subjective - based on the divine mind - but it’s still objective for us humans. No relativistic implications follow of reality is subject to the divine mind and only the divine mind. This way there’s one privileged reality.

48. There are some respects which reality is the product of human consciousness. For example, Dawson’s mind causes blog posts to appear in the world. The meaning of these posts is dependant upon consciousness. No consciousness, no meaning. If meaning is real, then it is subject to the primacy of consciousness. If it’s not real, then Bethrick lives in a relativistic universe. We make up our own meaning and there is no meaning that is the meaning.

49. The Christian position is that an eternally existing and conscious God creates everything distinct from him (including you, the universe, and me). Note that this position entails that: [a] some existence is not the result of consciousness (since God does not create himself). Thus, the Christian position is not metaphysical subjectivism, the idea that all existence finds its source in a form of consciousness. [b] Our consciousness is a result of existence (God's existence), thus satisfying the central impulse of metaphysical objectivism.

50. Since Christianity does not claim that all existence is the result of consciousness - because God doesn’t create Himself, He’s not a “result” - then Christianity claims that some existence is the result of consciousness. Now, does Bethrick hold to: (a) all existence is the result of a consciousness; (b) some existence is the result of consciousness, (c) no existence is the result of consciousness?

If he holds to (a) then he’s a metaphysical subjectivist. Christianity holds to (b) and since Bethrick thinks Christianity holds to metaphysical subjectivism Bethrick can’t hold to (b). That leaves (c}. Bethrick must maintain that no existence is the result of consciousness. So, since thoughts exist they must not be the result or creation of consciousness. So, we have eternally existing thoughts. Just how, exactly, does Bethrick’s position deny “invisible magic beings?”

Moving on…

“Then Paul pops off with statements like this:

That is, Objectivism doesn’t escape the ego-centric predicament.

Similar efforts to criticize Objectivism have been tried before. For instance, see here. Such criticism is typically borne on a very poor understanding of Objectivism. Paul gives no indication that his is an exception to this.”

51. Because you’re only justified in assuming YOUR consciousness as axiomatic, not the consciousness of others. This is known as the ego-centric predicament. Furthermore, I searched his link and the words “ego-centric” where not to be found. At any rate, I made the same point I just made here and no attempt was made by Dawson to interact with it.

“Paul writes:

(iii) Dawson has made this claim: “Propositions are functions of a consciousness.” And so the problem here is what to do with necessary propositions? Granting Dawson’s claim that propositions are functions of consciousness, it would appear that he’d need to have a necessary consciousness that exists in all possible worlds.

Wrong. For one, I reject the necessary-contingent dichotomy that the conception rooting Paul's alleged problem takes for granted.”

52. And why does Dawson reject this, he doesn’t tell us. Maybe we’re supposed to be scared because he abruptly says, “Wrong?” Maybe it’s because he authoritatively tells us “I reject the necessity-contingent dichotomy?” Who knows?

53. I know that Piekoff wrote on the “analytic/synthetic dichotomy,” but that’s not the only kind of “necessary-contingent dichotomy” there is. Furthermore, as usual, Rand and other Objectivists only serve to show how ignorant they really are of philosophy when they make the claims they do. My guess is that Dawson will play the fool as well. But, again, we don’t know because he tried to bully us rather than argue.

54. What does it mean to say Dawson rejects necessary and contingent propositions? Does he mean to tell us that 2+2=4 is not necessary, or is? Does he mean to tell us that his wearing a green shirt on Friday is not contingnent, or is? Does he mean to say that both of these are necessary, or both are contingent? He never tells us.

“Also, the concern here should be for truth, not some vague notion called “necessary propositions” which could mean anything and nothing.”

55. Despite the hand-waving, this is just stupid.

55. The question is, are there any propositions that, because of their specific content, must describe facts.

56. Why doesn’t he understand what a “necessary proposition” is? Is he that backwards?

57. Propositions are the bearers of truth anyway.

“Furthermore, I do not take the “possible worlds” notion as a standard for testing claims for their truth value. “Possible worlds” is another name for “imaginary worlds.” Why would an imaginary world serve as a standard for determining what is true in the actual world?”

58. Bethrick continues to make himself look ignorant.

Possible worlds talk is just a technical and regimented talk of all of our pre-philosophical beliefs. The metaphysician is just giving a technical name to something we all believe in when he uses the term “possible worlds.” So, the claim that any proposition, p, is necessary just in case for any possible world, W, p is true in W. This is just a fomalization of the belief that a necessary proposition is true no matter what. The oposite is the case with possibility. Possible worlds talk here just formalizes and makes rigorous our talk of possibilities or ways things could be, e.g., Bethrick could be smart in some possible world.

So, there is no possible world where 2+2 would not = 4. But, there are possible worlds where the sky could be pink. Thus we know that the propositions “2+2=4” and “the sky is blue” are necessary and contingent propositions, respectively.

Now, possible worlds talk does not tell us “what is true in the actual world.” Who knows where he gets these things!

“Meanwhile, if Paul thinks I am wrong for affirming that propositions are a function of consciousness, then it seems that he is quite at odds with his own worldview here: does he think that the “necessary truths” he has in mind do not require any consciousness? Are they free-floating ideas that exist independent of his god’s consciousness, that they needed to be discovered by his god as well as anyone else who needs them (since they’re “necessary”)? Again, we just have more blank-outs from the Master Manata himself.”

59. Oh-boy, this guy is priceless. Let’s note what I did say.

“Though I’d not use the term “function,” it appears that Dawson’s stating Theistic Conceptual Realism!”

So, Betrhick doesn’t quote what I did say which directly answers his little underdeveloped reading skills challenge above. Either that or he never bothered to aquaint himself with theistic conceptual relaism. Dawson, here’s a hint, go read the relevant literature before you go popping off like this!

60. I think that these necessary propositions do require consciousness, and so does Dawson. The problem is that human consciousness isn’t necessary, only God’s mind is. Therefore, Dawson gave an argument for theism! Thanks buddy.

70. Take this:


1. The population of New York is greater than 1 million

2. Either the population of New York is greater than 1 million or it is less than 1,000,001.

3. 2 + 2 = 4

4. P -- > (P -- > Q)

Proposition 1 is true in some possible worlds and false in others. It need not necessarily be true and hence it is not logically necessary and we say it is contingent.

Proposition 2 would probably be thought meaningless if New York did not exist, and so it might not be true. But it cannot be false. We may therefore prefer not to say it is contingent, and we may be willling to consider it necessary.

It is difficult to conceive any possibility that proposition 3 is false except that the sentence we use to express the proposition means something other than we normally mean by "2+2=4". It is this possibility that talk of propositions is intended to exclude, since, if the meaning of sentence were changed it would then express a different proposition. If changes in meaning are not ruled out, in this or some other way, then no sentence will be necessarily true. Any sentence will express a false proposition in some possible worlds.

Assuming then, that we are considering the truth in all possible worlds of the proposition expressed by the sentence in this world, then it is difficult to see how "2+2=4" can fail to be true. Hence we may consider it necessary.

Since the term "necessary" can be used to mean something like "entailed by the known laws of physics" the term logically necessary may be used to make clear the sense of necessity under consideration. If there could be a world in which the natural numbers did not exist then the statement "2+2=4" would be in such a world, meaningless. However, the natural numbers are not of this world or of any other world. We could therefore take the position that the existence or otherwise of the natural numbers is not something which is determined by the possible world under consideration, and that there is no world in which the proposition "2+2=4" fails to be true.

Proposition 4, where the symbol "-- >" is intended as material implication and "p" and "q" are arbitrary propositions, is true in all possible worlds without our needing to make special pleas about the non-contingency of abstract objects.”


Thus, there are some necessary propositions. If Dawson’s thesis is correct - that propositions are functions of minds - then Dawson needs to believe in a necessary mind, hence Dawson needs to believe in God according to Dawson.

“It should be obvious that I’m not “stating Theistic Conceptual Realism” for a) I am not asserting the existence of an invisible magic being (that rules out theism), b) my statement in no way requires the existence of an invisible magic being (that rules out Christian presuppositionalism), and c) it is unclear to me what theory of concepts Paul’s theism could possibly be (for I’ve not found a theory of concepts provided anywhere in the bible; it does not even contain the word ‘concept’!).”

71. It should be clear then that he’s not advancing the thesis that propositions are functions of minds. He can hold to it, if he wants to deny necessary propositions, but as we saw (a) they exist and (b) the price is too high. Christianity never necessarily violates laws of logic, for example, and, therefore, there can be no necessary contradictions in the Bible.

72. I showed how he invited an “invisible magic being” into his worldview by my above inference.

73. I have an Augustian theory of concepts. At any rate, this (a) does not help Dawson unless he’s arguing ad ignorant and (b) where does he get the idea that a “theory of concepts” must be laid out in the Bible? Is one laid out in “The History of America?” No, because that’s not a book on concept formation. At any rate, Dawson seems to confuse me with a Scripturalist.

“This again only tells us about Paul Manata, namely his impoverished level of understanding for my position.”

74. But remember above that I had a “fairly accurate” level of underdstanding for Dawson’s position. A man this unstable shouldn’t be blogging about intellectual matters!

“Meanwhile, I've asked Paul before, and I'll ask him again: Can he produce any objective evidence for the existence of a consciousness which possesses the powers which Christianity claims for its god? "

75. Yes, plenty. For example, Dawson himself presented us with some just a bit earlier.



79. But, alas, Dawson wants “empirical evidence” (remember above). However, what “objective evidence” is there for this dogma?

80. Is Dawson an evidentialist? I assume so. Because what if I said, “No, I couldn’t provide objective evidence.” I assume he would say that this is naughty. But what evidence does he have for this belief of his (e.g., for his evidentialism)? When he gives the evidence, can he support that with evidence? This can go on infinitely.

“Paul writes:

Now, (2). Bethrick uses the idea of “reversing identity” to support his “invisible magic being” pejorative, which, as we saw, may be warranted (even though it has not given my analysis), but it is still a pejorative. Why is turning water into wine a problem? Well, because A is A. Water is water. But we can gladly agree that A is A. Wine is wine. How does it follow that “a being able to do all His holy will, including doing anything with what He's created” can’t turn water in to wine. Water is still water. Wine is still wine. Jesus’ miracle at Cana didn’t mean that water was wine, it means that wine is wine.

But let’s get something straight here. Water is water, not wine. Right? In other words, A is A, not non-A.”

81. Let’s get straight what’s going on here. Dawson mentioned in his post on magic beings,

“Also, it can revise the identity of entities or substances (e.g., turning water into wine), or enable an entity to behave like an entity which it is not (e.g., men walking on unfrozen water),…”

Supposedly, this makes Christianity look silly because the “law of identity” is violated. We all know that was Dawson’s intention.

82. I pointed out that in Dawson’s worldview; he has lizards turning into birds! So if water turning into wine is a problem, then why aren’t lizards turning inot birds a problem?

“Good, now let’s move on. According to the Christian mythology, there exists a supernatural conscious being which can turn A (water) into non-A (wine), just by willing it. Right? Christianity’s invisible magic being “God” can sit there on its throne in the imaginary realm called “heaven,” look down on pitiful, puny little earth and say “I command the water in thy waterpots to become wine!” and presto, poof, zap, abra-cadabra, that water suddenly turns into wine, just like magic!”

83. Notice how Bethrick needs to soak his comments in pejoratives. He’s like the bully on the playground who needs to throw sand in people’s eyes just to win.

84. Where is the argument? He is writing to the hoi polloi again. He is just cashing in on the rhetorical street value his words get from the dirt bags on the street.

85. Miracles are not “just like magic.” Bethrick means, “just like Harry Potter.” Miracles are revelatory. The have redemptive-historical significance. Anyway, Bethrick doesn’t care about that.

“Now if something like this happens in a Harry Potter book, we would call it magic.”

86. But something like this would never happen in Harry Potter. All Bethrick’s doing is showing us just how much he doesn’t know about Christian theology. He’s a man on a mission: who can give the wordiest post while simultaneously misrepresenting the most doctrines while simultaneously doing it with a straight face.

“The Christian view is that a consciousness created and rules the universe of objects. And Paul carries on as if he were concerned about what may be philosophically problematic with such a view. The view in question is called subjectivism. It is the view that the subject in the subject-object relationship holds primacy over its objects.”

87. Please not, again, the lack of argument.

88. I’ve already covered this above. For those who forgot:

a) “The universe of objects” is meant by Bethrick to be “all that exists.”

b) God does not create “all that exists” since God does not create himself.

c) Therefore, Christianity doesn’t assert what he says it does.

d) Christianity asserts that an all-powerful God creates some of the things which exist.

e) Either Dawson’s worldview does affirm this (that some things which exist were created by a consciousness) or it does not.

f) If it does not, then he asserts that, say, thoughts, propositions, desires, beliefs, etc., have always existed. Since these are instantiated in minds, Dawson’s position logically commits him to the existence of an eternal, infinite, necessary, and singular mind (since some of the above are singular).

g) If it does, then he affirms the exact same position Christians affirm.

h) If Christianity affirms metaphysical subjectivism, then so does Dawson.

i) Dawson does not affirm metaphysical subjectivism (or so he says).

j) Therefore neither does Christianity.

89. Furthermore, Dawson’s arguments for this are weak to say the least. When asked to prove it he’ll frequently use this argument: “Well, can you cause a table to levitate?” When I answer no he replies, “See, consciousness can’t affect objects of awareness.” Wow! Talk about a hasty generalization as well as a category fallacy.

“The Christian asserts the Christian worldview as a truth. But on what basis does he do this? Does he assert Christianity as truth on the basis that the subject has the power to stipulate what is true and what is real? If so, then he's implicitly assuming that any consciousness could come and make a liar of him at any time just by stipulating that something else is true instead.”

90. To the point he’s asking about, he’s saying that God could assert that Christianity is false, thus that God doesn’t exist. But above Dawson said that he isn’t saying that “God could cease to exist.”

91. Furthermore, check the fallacy. Because GOD can stipulate what is true, therefore ANY consciousness can!? This is ridiculously bad argumentation.

92. God cannot stipulate just any truth, say that the elect will now go to hell. Thus, God stipulates some truths and falsehoods. Same with Dawson.

92. Dawson can choose to think about his toe. He can then stipulate that it is true that he’s thinking about his toe. So Dawson can has the power to stipulate what is true and what is real, therefore ANY consciousness can, therefore I stipulate that Dawson arguments are horrible. … Oh, I did not need to stipulate that.

“Paul writes:

Apparently, it looks as if the Objectivist’s argument is that nothing could turn something into another thing, lest it defy the law of identity.

Notice that Paul does not present the argument in question, so readers will have no idea whether he's correct or not on this. What is he afraid of? Why doesn't he produce the argument that he's seen and show where it hold "that nothing could turn something into another thing"? Objectivism does not deny causality.”

93. Oh, so something can turn something into something else. Good, so Dawson believes in magic!

94. “Objectivism does not deny causality?” So what’s the problem? God causes the water to turn in to wine! Dawson just can’t help making him play the part of the fool.

“Change is the identity of an action, and Objectivism recognizes that entities act according to their nature.”

95. Unfortunatley, A = A tells us nothing about how A behaves. At any rate, if it’s problematic that God turn water in to wine, then it’s problematic that lizards turn in to birdies. He made no arument to the contrary.




I’ll now argue in Dawsonian fashion:

Rand and Dawson say that, “nature must be obeyed to be commanded.” And, we must obey our Mommies.

Our mom’s bring forth life, so does “nature.”

Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned. Well, don’t take care of Momma Nature and she’ll beat you down.

The word nature comes from the Latin word natura, which means birth.

Atheists frequently protect Momma Nature just as they would their own mothers, sometimes even more so!

People want to “take care” of Momma Nature just like their own momma.

In an article on evolution we read, “In the same way that farmers select only the animals with desirable traits, nature “selects” only those organisms with what it takes to survive.” See, Momma Nature’s just like a person.

Moms seek to promote those traits which are desirable in their children, Mommy Nature does the same.

So, Christian’s have God and Dawson has Momma Nature. How cute, Dawson’s a momma’s boy.


  1. Paul,

    Would you consider it perjorative if an atheist were to refer to your Holy Lord as any of the following:

    "invisible miraculous being"

    "invisible miraculous holy ghost"

    "undetectable all-permeating creator"

    "eternally-existing creator of existence"


  2. yes, use determines meaning and we both know how the atheist is using the word. they're trying to be asses, and you know it.

    Why not just say God?

  3. Paul,

    I had a hard try time trying to prove: p -> ( p -> q )

    I think you wanted: p -> ( q -> p )

    It was the second way on the website.

  4. they must have changed it since I copied and pasted.