Refutations – Objections

Here is an objection I have received as a comment on my refutation of the “Logical Analysis of the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God” on Exposing PseudoAstronomy.

Payton,

I would like to address the handful of disturbing and inaccurate fallacies you posited in your refutation. The first was that the Cosmological Argument has stood the test of time as it seemingly should since it was proposed by the smartest people in history. That is of course two fallacies, the first is that the argument has stood the test of time, it has not it has frequently been refuted over the last several centuries. What you seem to be confusing is the proposal of an argument and its general acceptance. The second fallacy and this is fairly disturbing, is the idea that no one today can be as well informed or analytical as the great minds of the past. With over two thousand years of history, and volumes of new scientific discoveries and advancements, which have consistently refuted the absurdities of the past, the average American fifth grader is going to be more informed, with more accurate knowledge than the great thinkers of the distant past. The most brilliant analytical minds of our time, therefore will easily be able to out reason Aristotle and his ilk because they all start from false premises.

 “Ask yourself: Am I really so much smarter than every other philosopher of the last couple centuries that I alone have found the problem with “x” argument?”

Yes… yes I am.

Well, Mr Uglyface McPoopnose,

I have to say that your belief that I have committed two fallacies here is largely due to a misunderstanding on your part.  You’re really good at that, by the way.  Misunderstandings…

If you would take the time to read my page titled “Introduction to Theistic Argumentation”, yu’ll see that the two fallacies you identify are actually Practical Arguments.  They are not proof of anything actual, but rather proof of things probable.  They do not convince, but persuade.   The purpose of that sort of thing was to unnerve you.  Clearly, it hasn’t, considering how you readily identify yourself as an abject snob.  Generally, those sorts of arguments can’t be interpreted as fallacies.  You committed the fallacy of mischaracterization by attacking them as if they were a different sort of argument than they in fact were. 

Moreover, you seem to think that the fact that we have 2,000 years more scientific knowledge than the Classical Philosophers makes it likely that a 5th grader could outdo them?  Well, scientifically, yes.  Philosophically, not by a long-shot.  How can an influx of new inductive knowledge have any impact on the soundness of old deductive knowledge?  New science would have an impact on old science, and new philosophy would have an impact on old philosophy.  But philosophy, which is just the practice of pure reason, has not really changed in millenia.  The works of the Classics were just as plausible then as they are now.  No amount of inductive facts can realistically change a solid deductive argument.  Likewise, an influx of deductive arguments can only serve to change our interpretation of inductive facts.

Scientifically, we have advanced much further than the Greeks.  That’s because science is all about how much you know.  It deals with data, experiments, and observations.

Philosophically, I would not hesitate to say we have advanced very little.  Most of the advancement that there was to be had, had already taken place by the time of the Greeks.  Either way, very few people have been skilled enough to find any errors or fallacies in the writings of Plato, Socrates, or Aristotle.  They form the foundation of Western thought, and they have quite literally stood the test of time.  (don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m presenting this as theoretical, as I’m presenting it as practical).

Allow me to make a final point:

“The second fallacy and this is fairly disturbing, is the idea that no one today can be as well informed or analytical as the great minds of the past”

Actually, that wasn’t my argument.  You put it in terms of absolutes like “cannot”, when it should be in probabilistic terms like “more likely as to not”  And of course we’re more well informed than Socrates!  The key is that that’s entirely irrelevant when discussing fundamental philosophical skill, which does not require advanced inductive data.  Back to the point: My argument was that since there have been around 500,000,000,000 people between the death of Socrates and your birth, the chances against you being more intelligent than all of them (as you blatantly claimed above) are quite literally 500,000,000,000 to 1.  That should make you nervous, and should almost force you to rethink your claim of superior intellect (which is what you would need to defeat them philosophically).  (NOTE: that was a basic probabilistic example.  I took nothing like IQ and SAT scores into account, obviously.  But given the sheer odds on the basic scale, that data is negligible)

I gather these weren’t the only two things you thought were wrong with my essay?  They really were trivial things to disagree with, as they don’t form any of my four arguments against you.  They’re filler, and you could literally take them out of the article and it would still work brilliantly.

 That pretty much answers your objection.  Before you try to attack any more filler pieces, note that everything but the first two paragraphs and the one immediately above this one are irrelevant to you.  Filler.

 -Payton

 

 

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