Redated post replying to John Loftus on the AFR
Reply to John Loftus on the AFR
John Loftus wrote: Anyway, Vic, I believe the Euthyphro dilemna applies to Logic as well as Goodness. Did God create the rules of logic, or must he follow them? Do you have anything to add to this latter dilemna that you haven't said about the former dilemna?
It's probably not unlike Godel's theorem when it comes to math. We can use math effectively, but it cannot yield information concerning both the completeness and consistency of the mathematical system itself. So we must refer to metamathematical statements to explain the system. Now, either there are such things as metamathematical statements which explain the whole system, or there are not, but whether they exist is left undecided by the system itself.
John: I need to go over the structure of the AFR again to help understand how it is supposed to go. The argument begins by examining the necessary conditions of rational inference: such things as the intentionality required for propositional attitudes, truth and falsity, mental causation in virtue of content, logical laws and their psychological relevance, personal identity throughout the rational inference, and the reliability of our rational faculties. My claim is that if any of these is missing, then we do not make rational inferences. We then look at what kinds of properties and causes there can be if naturalism is true. We look at the natural world, as understood by physics, and ask whether these necessary conditions can occur in a universe in which all there is is, at bottom, physical. The “physical” is defined in such a way that the basic stuff of the universe is not rational, not intentional, etc. and all causation is supposed to by physical causation. The laws governing that stuff are not the laws of logic, they are the laws of physics, and if the physical stuff comes into a “rational” configuration it happens to be that way because of what physical configurations obtain. What we call “rational thought” has to be a systemic byproduct of an essentially non-rational nature, and on my view there is something very, very, paradoxical about asserting something like this.
Now if someone wanted to define materialism widely enough so that something whose essence it was to perceive logical truths could be a material thing, then I guess I could even qualify as a materialist. But if we did that we would be straying big-time from our ordinary conception of “matter.” However, so long as we are not trying to call something “matter,” then it is perfectly possible for non-material things to be able to perceive logical relations as part of their essence. So God can be an essentially rational being, who knows all the logical truths in all possible worlds. Whereas we cannot say of a piece of matter that it is essentially rational without stretching the concept of matter beyond all recognition, we can say of God that God is essentially rational, and it fits perfectly with our ordinary understanding of God.
Labels: argument from reason