Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Infinitude of God

The metaphysics of continuity (my thesis topic) is actually related to Monotheism, as follows. Given Naturalism, our concepts probably evolved, through a succession of brains performing various functions within changing environments, so that although primitive concepts like continuity (smooth extension) would have been effective enough building-blocks of the world-views of primitive humans (and may remain the foundations of a folk metaphysics adequate for common sense), we would have little reason to expect them to cohere (beyond such limited applications), let alone correspond (to the structure of reality). But while set-theoretical continua would then be quite adequate for our needs, why should we (and is it even rational to) accept such a dismal view of our own reasoning powers (in the absence of a proof of atheism)?
......But, if we were created by (and in the image of) a perfect person, then we might reasonably expect our most basic concepts to carve nature at its metaphysical joints; and if (as reason and revelation indicate) that person exists everlastingly (rather than timelessly) then (unless we think of God as existing within time) time would be primarily an aspect of a perfect person, whence time would probably (since it appears to be smooth) be full of a perfect (or absolute, rather than merely transfinite) infinity of instants—if continua are full of points; and it's quite conceivable (think of a square) that perfectly sharp edges exist geometrically, and a point is where two such lines could intersect, as they can (think of its corners), and (since there is nowhere in a line where it could not be intersected by another line) hence there are points everywhere within it.

17 comments:

Jeff said...

Hmmm. I'm not sure I kept up with you. Perhaps my questions will unviel where I stopped following you.
#1) Isn't it much more natural for self-centered primitive humans to assume that their is no distinction between their perceptions and reality?
#2) Even if they did wonder about this distinction, would the brute fact that they are still alive imply that there perceptions are quite close to reality? (E.G. if you think a wooly mammoth is an apple tree you aren't going to be around for very long.)
#3) Have you read Whitehead? I find him wrong in an interesting way. He seems relevant here because his metaphyiscs imply a series of discrete and independent moments, almost like a film, rather than the smooth continuity that I think you're referrring to.

Ron Murphy said...

Hi,

Your theological world view appears to be defining your interpretation of reality (whatever it might be) and our understanding of it. You appear to be assuming God, and then working from there.

The questions you raise about continuity and the infinite might just be representations, as limited and inaccurate human concepts. Whether one thinks of reality as continuous or discrete depends on the mental model of the world that is chosen, and it's quite reasonable to use different models for different purposes.

I'd see continuity as an expression of the infinitesimal, unbounded - but it is only ever a vague concept. Like infinity it's a vague notion of something we feel should be real, because we can't locate an end point, but which we never have and can't ever foresee reaching.

This is merely the mind working within it's limits, just as when we look into the long distance we can imagine it goes on, but can't actually see.

Metaphysics appears to me to be logic applied to speculative premises. It may give direction to inquiry, but sits in waiting for science to expose as much of reality as it can. I think the premise that is your God hypothesis is reasonable to investigate metaphysically, but there are limits about what you can reasonably draw from it. This is where theology and religion get ahead of themselves. Too much speculation piled on speculation, backed up by dubious ancient sources and perpetuated by custom and ritual.

If you think otherwise, and that your assessment of continuity informs and produces your theology could you explain how.

Thanks

the creator of enigmania said...

Thanks for the comments...

Jeff, I'm not sure of the relevence of #1. Primitive humans might have assumed a lot of stuff, e.g. that rainbows were divine bridges (and I agree with #2). Whitehead is one of the many philosophers who have very weird world-views! As far as I know he never proved much; did he have any plausible arguments for discrete time? My own direct experience of being in time (not so much of perceiving in time) tells me that time is smooth, but others have told me that they have no such knowledge. It would be interesting to find out which view is the majority view (but either view can explain the other away).

Ron, to many theists I would not seem to be assuming God at all (although I do, for the same sort of reason that I assume that ordinary objects give rise to my perceptions of them), but rather to be hoplelessly trying to think my way towards a concept of the ineffable One (or is that Three?)!

So no, I don't yet have a theological world-view (I have opinions on truth (classical correspondence, but without idealising language) and evidence though), and I agree with your second paragraph, they might just be, especially if Naturalism is true... but that may be a problem for Naturalism, if we assume that we can think analytically (as even you do, when you decide that the concepts of atheism and information makes sense; it can't just be that you just feel that they're nice, if that's your objection to religion and theology!)!

I sort of agree with you about the metaphysics too, and before you wonder what "sort of" means (e.g. was that some typical theistic wooliness?) note that if human concepts are limited and inaccurate, then so are yours (and mine); and so, even if I'd said above that I was assuming God and then working from there, since such concepts are vague and inaccurate how could you interpret properly any answer of mine?

Naturalists seem to want it both ways (and tire of debates long before Monotheists do, of course), being very tolerant of their own ineffables (and positivistic about others'). In fact, a world-view that believes in dinosaurs gets well ahead of the actual appearances of the bones to different humans (with their fuzzy concepts)... But I digress... My argument does indeed (or rather, will hopefully) go from the existence of God (weighted by whatever probabilities the evidence indicates) to a slight bias towards certain views of theories of continuity (those that take themselves seriously). The degree of bias will depend on many things, but if there are such arguments, then their absence from mainstream (unbiased) philosophy is interesting (given that atheism, whilst popular, has yet to be proved true, and given the quite bizarre world-views that are taken seriously in this lovely subject)... Arguments going the other way would be superfluous, since we already have the philosphical problem of the applicability of modern mathematics in modern physics.

Jeff said...

If I might throw a couple more cents in here.
There is the fundamental question of whether or not there is a God. Debate is happening all over the place on the question, and it has for centuries.
Folks on both sides consider this issue settled. There are some who continue to participate in this fundamental debate. And I think that's fine.
There are others-- on both sides-- who have moved on from this debate to contemplate what it means to operate from the assumption/assertion/proposition/whatever that they are correct.
I would suggest that this is also fine. It might even be fruitful in uncovering truths relevant to the more fundamental question.

It's like we stand at this cross roads on our way to a restaurant called truth.
There are some people who say "Don't turn left" (Theism) "that way will never get you there."
Others say "Don't turn right" (atheism) "That way will never get you there"
IT's fine for some people to have stopped by the side of the road to try and work that out.
Other people participated in that debate, at that cross roads, for a while. They decided to just start walking based on where they were at.
I think that some of these people will find dead ends. They will walk back to the cross roads of theism and atheism, and enrich the conversation. Of course it's a bit more complicated than this, because some people will think that they've arrived at the restaurant of truth and come back to try and give directions... what ensues then is a debate about whether they were actually at the truth or a knock-off, an imitation of the truth.
In my opinion, it's not all that fruitful to find somebody quite a ways beyond the intersection of theism and atheism and say "Go back, we haven't finished the more fundamental debate yet."
If we all just sit there, at those crossroads, if neither theists nor atheists progress beyond that most fundamental question, neither theists nor atheists are likely to discover much that's new.

Ron Murphy said...

Jeff,

I'd see it this way, in terms of your metaphor...

The atheist at the crossroads is looking at the advertising billboard on the road to Salvation and saying, "I don't buy those claims about the afterlife, salvation, and all the other stuff; none of the claims have been substantiated; many claims are simply irrational. Looks like an over-hyped sales pitch to me."

The atheist then looks down the road to Reason and Science and reads the billboard pointing that way, "Okay, their not promising anything that sounds too good to be true; there's lots of uncertainty; but they do have a pretty good track record; and they are offering great opportunities to discovery."

An Anglican Christian theist is at the crossroads and says to the atheist, "The road to Salvation must be fantastic. Here's the map, it's called the Bible, and it was compiled some time ago, but it tells the truth."

Atheist, "How do you know it tells the truth?"

Anglican Christian theist, "Because it says so on the map!"

Muslim theist, "Hold on. I've got a different map, it's called the Quran, and it says that it contains the truth."

Atheist, "But aren't both maps describing the road to Salvation?"

Muslim theist, "Yes, but there's a fork in the road to Salvation, and my map came later and says that the Christian map contains corruptions and false directions which lead to hell. My map is true!"

Jewish theist arrives, with some Mormons, Catholics, and other friends of faith, and the Jewish theist says, "Hold on there, there are other forks in the road too, and my map knows the correct route to Salvation."

Catholic, "No it doesn't!"....

The atheist is already walking off down the road to Reason and Science, looking forward to the unknow, because although he doesn't have a map, he's had enough experience to be able to follow simple road signs.

Ron Murphy said...

Enigman,

Hi, thanks for reponding.

I'm not keen on the probability arguments for or against God, because they're not backed up by any knowledge or evidence. To begin with we need some knowledge about the problem. If I have a bag of black and white balls and I know the finite and precise or approximate number of each, I'd have some knowledge and I could talk probabilities of picking balls out. If I didn't know the numbers but could apply some tests, I'd have some statistical data, some evidence. But as far as the God hypothesis is concerned it's like having a bag of black and white balls, I don't know how many balls are in the bag, it could be a very large number, and I don't know anything about the proportion of black to white, and I'm not allowed to put my hand in and grab any. That's the state of play as far as metaphysical reasoning is concerned regarding the God hypothesis. So we sit here on this planet and chit-chat about whether God exists or not, and we haven't a clue. We might know some stuff, about our local universe - or at least we think we do.

In the meantime we have the senses and a limited capacity to reason. Science does its best with these limited instruments to get as good a handle on reality as it can. But science and reason always recognises that its current understanding of the world may not be as close to reality as we thought, and is always looking for more verification. "...I do, for the same sort of reason that I assume that ordinary objects give rise to my perceptions of them..." - but your senses+reason tell you about objects, what senses tell you about God? Reason alone is a fickle tool that in the hand of the deluded can lead to nonsense, or in the hand of a good imagination can lead to fantastic fantasy.

I'm not saying what reason and experience tells us is true, but I am saying that after thousands of years it appears to work if we act as if it does. The problem is that whether you act as if God is true, or if you act as if he isn't, it doesn't appear to make much difference in the experienced world. It can make a difference in the mental world, in that if you believe in God you can come to believe in almost anything: you can derive comfort from God's 'love'; you can make yourself believe in the value of holy texts. That's why there is more variance in religious beliefs than in science based understanding.

If we can't think analytically then all that we know now is a sham; but we wouldn't know even that, because we couldn't think analytically to figure that out. If we can't think analytically and God exists and created us, why did he bother? All the free-will and the understanding of good and evil wouldn't mean much to us, and we certainly wouldn't be able to rely on any understanding of the Bible or the Quran - if you have doubts about our ability to reason and analyse then that applies to your current quest. Again, it appears to work okay if we act as if we can think analytically, because that's the only type of thinking we are familiar with that leads anywhere. So, yes, it is a problem for Naturalism, a problem we still have to struggle with. So far it's thrown up a few surprises, but we carry on trying to understand, with our limited instruments. It throws up even more problems for theists.

"...if human concepts are limited and inaccurate, then so are yours (and mine);..." - Yes. So we make the best of what appears to work.

"...even if I'd said above that I was assuming God and then working from there, since such concepts are vague and inaccurate how could you interpret properly any answer of mine?" - That's my point. Those concepts are vague, and maybe innacurate. So analyse them with the only instruments we have - reason and experience. At the very best (as far is God is concerned) we can say only that we can't prove he doesn't exist (no anthropomorphic spin intended on the 'he'). At the worst (as far as religion is concerned) we can say that nothing from reason or experience leads us from a conceptual possibility of God to any of the world religious dogmas. And, given our current understanding of the human mind, a more reasonable (tentative) conclusion would be that all religions are meaningless (metaphysically and theologically). That doesn't rule out the therapeutic value to mankind of some features of some religions, but it does also allow us to identify some of the problems with religion.

"concepts of atheism" - There are no real concepts of atheism. Atheism is just a label used to group those people that don't buy into the 'God implies Religion' stuff, and those that think that without some good reason to believe in God, we shouldn't.

The main difference between an atheist (reason + experience based) and a theist is that the atheist knows very little of the real world and has limited access to it but applies reason to what he does know and expereience, whereas the theist relies on even less and comes to even more fantastic conclusions.

Enigman said...

Many thanks again... Ron, we can think analytically, that is not a problem for the theist (who thinks that we can think in lots of valid ways) but for the atheist (who must explain, for example, how a social cannibal that evolved via the pressures of warfare would probably get logic so right that it could think validly about the biggest pictures; small parts of which are general-relativistic, for example).

In terms of Jeff's metaphor, there seem to be lots of signposts (lots of questions about the existence of God) on lots of roads, many of which (e.g. the stuff we inherit from Feudalism) make what Ron says reasonable; but in a theistic universe all roads lead to that truth, and in an atheistic one they all lead us nowhere (to good enough models, yes, but ones that will inevitably be used by noble warriors to get us there more quickly).

At the moment I'm just noticing how analytical philosophers have, even in their Naturalistic metatheorizing, wanted the sort of mathematics that only theism could possibly justify (e.g. they began by rejecting Psychologism in logic, but what else does Naturalism leave us?).

Ron, your arguments are common-sensible, but they ought not to be; e.g., you would, I take it, have no problem with common sense having no authority in modern physics; so why should it have much to say about whether or not this entire universe was deliberately created? One might as well reject modern physics because of one's failure to make sense of a particle that is a wave, as reject theism, which is looking at a much bigger picture, with more types of evidence (e.g. the unrepeatable sorts that must be allowed in courts of law if we they to get to such important truths) because of such arguments.

Your religious people, at the signpost, are just ordinary people who have been brought up in a religious worldview, and they make less sense than we do, and are more smug about it. But why not have similar atheists there (in that picture) too, saying that we will be happier if we go their way? Some people would be happier going that way, but some people will only be happy if they are religious (even according to the atheist). Others will only be happy if they can beat their peers at senseless games (in a senseless universe), and they often win power too; and one thing that religion did (historically, even by the atheists' lights) was to counter such tendencies (even when religion became the new game to win at, the religious instinct created new protests).

Just as the intelligent theist (not the ones you mention) knows that Divine Hiddenness implies that atheism is probably the Divine Will (a mixed bag of atheisms, along with a mixed bag of theisms), so an intelligent atheist could work out that evolved social animals like ourselves need a place for religion in our lives (and that arguments that theism is probably false should carry no more weight, against such an attitude, than arguments that set theory is probably false beyond its applications in science should carry, against set theory, if we assume Naturalism). One could argue against reactionary religious doctrines, but one can argue against reactionary applications of science too; neither would be relevent.

Reason and experience, they lead us from common sense to scientific knowledge, but how do they get us to atheism? Occam's razor only really applies (insofar as it does) to theoretical entities. Copernicus did not win out over Ptolemy because it was more accurate (to begin with) or more parsimonious (quite the reverse) but because it was more true. Men stand on the Moon and see it now. The truth of theism will be obvious when we're dead. You may say that is of no use to us now, but that is so only if theism is false. And I for one am not going to stand on the Moon anyway, so what should I care about Copernicus? Especially if I'm just a social animal that wants to be happy!

Anyway, there are experiments that can be done which would indicate that theism is more likely than atheism. They are experiments that would show that substantial dualism is more likely than either materialism or property dualism. They involve parapsychology. Parapsychology is (it never ceases to amaze me) part of science nowadays, so maybe those experiments will be done properly one day (although I'm not holding my breath). But, a failure to do them is not the same as a failure of probability arguments for theism (why do atheists always say "for God"?) to be valid arguments.

Again, why should any sort of argument be particularly valid, if atheism is true? Why not just any argument that leads its protagonists to happiness, or which enhances their progeny's viabilities?

Ron Murphy said...

Atheism is a poor label to use, but we're pretty much stuck with it if we want to avoid being too long winded. But in this context atheism means a world view based on reason and science, as they make the best use of our limited capacity. That recognition of the limitations means that by that process we are never 100% (absolutely) certain about anything; unlike the theist.

I would generally discount unintelligent atheist and unintelligent theists. The crossroads example still stands. The 'atheist' is trying to figure out the route to truth through reason and science whereas the theist simply believes in some truth.

"..we can think analytically, that is not a problem for the theist (who thinks that we can think in lots of valid ways) .." - They may think in valid ways, but as I said earlier they have suspect premises (and that's being generous) that cast doubt on the soundness of their arguments:
p1 - God Exists
p2 - God ceated the Quran (via Muhammed)
p3 - Whatever God creates is truth
c1 - Therefore, the Quran is truth
Valid enough, but not a shred of evidence that it's sound. But theists don't stop there. From that shaky start...
p4 (c1) - The Quran is truth
p5 - The Quran says it is the word of God
c2 - Therefore, God exists.
Valid again, but relies on a circular argument althogether.

Science and Reason:
p1 - Science and reason appear to work
p2 - Science and reason somethimes fail
p3 - Science and reason are generally reliable
c1 - Trust science and reason, but not absolutely. Employ scepticism.
Though that's a deductive argument, its really stating the case for induction - it works so well that we should continue to use it to discover new knowledge.

Authority: Theistic authority (God) is absolute. Scientific 'authority' isn't really authority, but a temporary trust, which is won by consensus, and which can be lost by consensus too. I don't believe stuff in the Bible (generally, though there might be some historical truths, but that requires historians and archaeologists to examine). The existence of Jesus has been questioned, but as far as I'm aware the expert consensus is that he did exist. There is no evidence to support claims that he was God on earth. I temporarily accept the authority of science books - but not absolutely, and if I were to embark on a serious study I'd consult many books and journals, attend conferences etc. I couldn't claim the knowledge learned was the absolute truth, but I could claim that it had undergone rigorous repeatable tests. What's more, if I arrived at new knowledge by those means I'd have to substantiate my claims about that new knowledge. I could simply claim my new knowledge is the truth without backing it up, but what idiot is going to believe me, unless I publish through the advertising industry?

"Just as the intelligent theist (not the ones you mention) knows that Divine Hiddenness implies that atheism is probably the Divine Will" - Intelligent theists (they are the ones I mention) make lots of claims that they can't back up. A claim that atheism is a result of Divine Will begs the question, "How do you know that?"

In fact, if you take any religious blurb produced by theologians you could drop "How do you know that?" after virtually every sentence that made an unsubstantiated claim.

"Reason and experience, they lead us from common sense to scientific knowledge, but how do they get us to atheism?" - They don't in the absolute sense. They have shown that there is no evidence to support the God hypothesis, though it is a hypothesis one could hold. Atheists in this sense are typically secularists - most atheists are quite happy allow theists to follow their religions and think what they like. Secularists simply don't want to have religious dogma imposed on them by combining church and state - real dangers with regard to both Christian and Islamic fundamentalists, and that's why secular atheism has become so vocal.

"The truth of theism will be obvious when we're dead." - Only if it is in fact true. If it's not true then there is no afterlife in which to examine the result. Okay, be happy, be a theist. No problem. But if you want to make public claims about its truth expect an argument, and expect to be asked for evidence. For example, both Christianity and Islam claim to be true. Under what sphere of knowledge that the human race has ever considered could both actually be true? If you conclude that one is false, then which one is true, and then, "How do you know that?" If they are in fact both true, then, "How do you know that?"

"Parapsychology is (it never ceases to amaze me) part of science nowadays..." - Really? Not mainstream consensus science. Try this link: http://www.pointofinquiry.org/joe_nickell_psychic_detectives/

"Again, why should any sort of argument be particularly valid, if atheism is true? Why not just any argument that leads its protagonists to happiness, or which enhances their progeny's viabilities?" - By all means, believe what you want. But how do you analyse that belief seriously, to the extent that you can convince yourself you're not kidding yourself. You can use valid arguments, but are they sound? To what extent to they rely on unsubstantiated premises? With any of these claims, such as "God exists.", "There are other forms of knowledge.", ask yourself, "How do I know that?".

Enigman said...

Ron, you say: "That recognition of the limitations means that by that process we are never 100% (absolutely) certain about anything; unlike the theist." But that would be just the unintelligent theist, the one that you claim you don't mention! In your reworking of Jeff's metaphor you had the following, for example:
Atheist, "How do you know it tells the truth?"
Anglican Christian theist, "Because it says so on the map!"
I would (as you seem to) call that unintelligent! You cannot criticise such cartoon theists for not being reasonable, and at the same time deny that they are the unintelligent theists; not without being asked to produce evidence for that prima facie unintelligent claim!

For an example of an intelligent theist, how about Richard Swinburne? I don't agree with everything he says, but his arguments are not at all like your circular examples. And like most intelligent theists, what he would do is allow testimony from (arguably) reliable witnesses even when they don't say what you (or anyone who thinks they already know the answer) would think that they should say (much as unbiased courts of law do, when they try to find out the truth in a reasonable way that must, in the natural way of such things, go beyond scientific methodology... you seem to ignore how the issue of theism/atheism also goes beyond the remit of science, which means that atheism cannot be properly justified just by appealing to scientific methodology).

For another example, you say: "There is no evidence to support claims that [Jesus] was God on earth." But in your words, how do you know that? There is no repeatable scientific evidence (that I know about), but that is not good enough. After all, you yourself take the words of scientists on faith, don't you? You believe that you could verify what they say (if you could get access to their expensive laboratories and so on), but you believe that for the same reason, that that is what they say. I'm not saying that you should not believe them. I'm saying that that is what you do.

And where is the repeatable experimentation in astrophysics, or archeology? The evidence that Jesus is God is similarly via testimony about unrepeatable events (plus personal stuff that you either have or not, which usually trumps the evidence, which is why I for one don't blame people for being atheists, or theists, since how can I know that I can sit in judgement on their reasons?)... Incidentally would you prefer the word Naturalism instead of atheism? I tend to use that myself, but it too means many things to many people (e.g. methodological and ontological Naturalism), and your points all seem to be anti-theistic, not agnostic. The word Secularism is not available, as like many intelligent theists I too am a secularist (while I suspect that you would use your arguments against a seperation of science and atheism).

...also said...

...I nearly forgot! Go outside and ask yourself if you are certain or not about the objects around you, their reality and some of their properties. You are, of course. That certainty does not come from Scripture, of course, but from the real world, from your interaction with it. But atheistic explanations of how one could be justified in such certainty, where are they? The only justification I know of indicates the existence of God because it goes via substantial dualism, which makes more sense if those substances were deliberately related by their common creator (but which tends to be ignored as a serious option by atheists for that reason, rather unscientifically given that there are apposite experiments that might be performed).

In a sense, that is to say that such certainty comes from God, but only in the sense that it exists (obviously) and is only (so far as I know) justified (rather than allowed as only natural) if there is likely to be a Creator who created us to have such justified certainties. It is not quite Descartes' argument (it owes more to Moore) and anyway, those things are certain, and they are the real foundation of both common sense and science (at least when the latter is actually done, not just read about). Not all theists believe in the literal truth of Noah's Ark, you know! Some are more scientific (more Naturalistic, in the only good sense of that name) than those fans of science who mistake models of details for metaphysical depth.

Ron Murphy said...

Repeatability in astrophysics, or archeology: the repeatability is in repeatable observations that match theories which together support some hypothesis to some degree or other. But, of course, there is uncertainty, and so other theories may come along to supplant earlier ones. Reason and science work with the limited resources we have, recognising that it doesn't have the absolute truth. But, at the same time, the observations and the theories tie up to the extent that we can work with them. Using your court of law metaphor, the evidence supports the case, just not 'without any doubt'.

Swinbourne may be intelligent, but intelligence comes in many forms and isn't necessarily resistant to self-delusion. Swinbourne's work depends on his initial assumptions (the dubious premises I mentioned earlier). He may be rigorous in his approach, and may produce valid arguments, but they may not be sound arguments because they rely on dubious premises. His critics point out that he relies too heavily on these basic assumptions, so if God doesn't exist then Swinbourne's arguments fall apart.

And take Swinbourne's principles of credulity and testimony. They're just plain dumb. For example, that one should accept what appears to be true, is ridiculous. Do the words illusion and delusion mean nothing to him? And as for accepting that eye-witnesses or believers are telling the truth when they testify about religious experience - why? Would your court of law rely on what somebody said without corroborating witnesses and serious cross-examination? The more outlandish the claim, such as the walking on water, would require rigorous examination - call in Penn & Teller. I fact, search Penn & Teller on Youtube, The Bible is Bullshit, for all sorts of bogus claims. "Smart people are very good at rationalising things they came to believe for non-smart reasons."

Some people might be happy to take Swinbourne's lead, start out with amazing unsubstantiated claims as if they were unquestionably true: God exists, angels are real, God reveals himself to us (assuming he exists), etc.; and then build a theology on top of that. That's fine, go ahead. What anyone does inside their own head is their business. Just don't try to justify moral claims on the basis of these ideas, and from there try to impose them an the rest of us who think those ideas are unfounded.

"Go outside and ask yourself if you are certain or not about the objects around you, their reality and some of their properties. You are, of course. That certainty does not come from Scripture, of course, but from the real world, from your interaction with it. But atheistic explanations of how one could be justified in such certainty, where are they?" - No certainty claimed, and none required.

If I go outside, see a bus, and wonder, as it's hurtling towards me, if it's real, and what will happen if I stand in its path. I have a choice. I could say, well, I've seen this sort of thing before (repeatable observations), and the outcome doesn't look good. I'll step out of the way. In other words, experience tells me I should act as if the bus is real and as if it is dangerous. I've seen other people try similar tests - they die.

What's the position with theistic propositions? God - it doesn't matter what I do, believe him in or not, curse him or not, pray to him or not - makes no difference. There is no perceptible change in the universe. If there's no change, then how do you know he exists at all? Sure, I can change my mental state by believing in him, but that merely tells about the pliability of our mental states. Nothing informs me about God, positively or negatively. It's as if he isn't there; in which case I might as well act as if he isn't. Why bother with a bunch of religious ideology?

"The only justification I know of indicates the existence of God because it goes via substantial dualism, which makes more sense if those substances were deliberately related by their common creator." - Dualism tells us nothing about God. Further more, dualism itself has nothing to substantiate it. There is nothing to support anything other than a physicalist understanding of reality. And, you're begging the question:
p1 - Dualism (already suspect) indicates the existence of God (no it doesn't)
p2 - Dualism makes more sense, given a common creator. (i.e. Creator indicates (makes sense of) Dualism)
Conclusion? None. Circular argument.

"In a sense, that is to say that such certainty comes from God" - How do you know this?
"but only in the sense that it exists and is only justified if there is likely to be a Creator who created us to have such justified certainties." - Circular.

"Not all theists believe in the literal truth of Noah's Ark, you know!" - No, but some do. Granted, most 'intelligent' theists don't. But I think that's because they are finding difficult to maintain a belief in the irrational.

And all this is in addition to the very simple question about which truth is true? Christianity? Islam? Any others? Again, the main difference between these theisms and science and reason is that the latter uses lots of evidence, but still only makes tentative claims, whereas the former make outlandish absolute claims without a shred of evidence.

Enigman said...

Ron, "all this," you say, having misconstrued rather than answered my points.

Theisms are not opposed to science and reason, as you imply, as Swinburne (for example) shows. There are probably elements of the truth in Islam and Christianity, as there are in Astrophysics and Evolution. What is needed is rational investigation, not prejudice. What can we rule out as absurd? That is a matter of opinion, but in my opinion it includes the idea that minds are nothing over and above arrangements of the chemicals found (in other arrangements) in rocks, the idea that time is (fundamentally) just like space, the idea that whoever happens to (pass the social tests and) become a priest can make it that a piece of bread is God, and the idea that the Koran cannot be wrong (simply) because it says in it that it was dictated by an angel.

I may be wrong about any of those, but what is needed is intelligent arguments, not dogmatism (nor arguments against dogmatism masquerading as arguments against theism).

For example, all the scientific evidence for evolution is compatible (not just logically, but scientifically) with substantial dualism about minds and brains (so I challenge you to provide any that is not). People who confuse evolution with materialism are no more intelligent than those who confuse theism with blind adherence to some particular set of religious doctrines (unless they know of such evidence; they don't have to show it to me to be intelligent, of course). And since I would not try to refute the existence of dinosaurs by assuming dualism, I wonder why you try to refute theism by assuming that blind faith is (as I'm sure it is) irrational. (On a point of consistency, how do you justify your faith in science, which you would say is justified by the fact that you could perform experiments, when that very claim that that is a fact is something you believe because scientists tell you that? Prima facie it is you who are being circular!)

And Swinburne, for another example, does not just believe in God because it says in the Bible that the Bible is true; so you just failed to answer my point (where Swinburne was mentioned) about your signpost scenario.

As for certainty, have you really seen other people die trying similar tests? That is a claim that needs substantiating, by your own standards. Do you substantiate it? No. In fact, not only is it our certainty that tells us that such tests would be pointless, such tests could not prove anything about such things, as a little reflection might reveal to you. E.g. (rather ironically) in your next paragraph you ask what difference God's existence could make, and say that any perceived difference would only show that our mentalities are pliable; well, the same could be the Idealist's response to your tests (that was famously Berkeley's response, to the suggested test of kicking a stone).

In short, it would be nice if you could answer the points I actually made, rather than just lazily imagining that I am akin to a Bible-bashing flat-Earther who might be refuted by a postcard from Australia.

You made several (false) claims about my arguments being circular, for example: could you justify those claims? (I doubt it; my arguments were incomplete, but quite completable.)

Ron Murphy said...

You talk of my certainty, when I have categorically said there is no such certainty.

"There are probably elements of the truth in Islam and Christianity, as there are in Astrophysics and Evolution." - I'm sure there are. It's just that Astrophysics and Evolution have more supporting evidence.

"What is needed is rational investigation..." - There's none of that with regard to theism. How would you test any of it's ideas?

"What can we rule out as absurd?" - Nothing, unless you rule out anything that has not been substantiated: Russell's Teapot, Santa Claus, God.

"I may be wrong about any of those, but what is needed is intelligent arguments..." - And evidence, this being entirely lacking.

"...all the scientific evidence for evolution is compatible (not just logically, but scientifically) with substantial dualism about minds and brains (so I challenge you to provide any that is not)." - Didn't say it wasn't, and couldn't prove it isn't. They are independent claims, as far as we can tell. What I did say is that there's no evidence of dualism, and since every other scrap of evidence we have outside our brain supports physicalism, then that's a pretty good model for the brain too.

"And since I would not try to refute the existence of dinosaurs by assuming dualism, I wonder why you try to refute theism..." - I'm not refuting theism! I can't, nobody can. I'm simply saying it's a claim you have no support for, and since we usually take it as a good rule of thumb that if we don't have evidence for something, ignore it. You're the one making the claim; provide the evidence.

"how do you justify your faith in science..." - I don't, and can't - at least not in the absolute sense. I can say it has worked pretty well so far. It's results are consistent over time and space. We can repeat 19th century experiments and get the same results they did then. If we don't then we question the particualar theory or experiment, and correct or refine it.

"a fact is something you believe because scientists tell you that" - Categorically no! I accept what scientists say to the extent that from experience I can trust them. I've studied various aspects of science to degree level, I've use several sources when studying, I've performed lab experiments that are replications of some well documented experiements - it all appears to hang together. But I remain sceptical. For example, if watch TV and it tells me in a commercial that Facecream-X will make me look 10 years younger, I'd be sceptical.

"Swinburne, for another example, does not just believe in God because it says in the Bible that the Bible is true" - Yes he does. He has somewhere along the line, maybe from childhood, been persuaded that God and the Bible are linked and together contain some truth. On that he bases much of his work. As I quoted in the last post - "Smart people are very good at rationalising things they came to believe for non-smart reasons."

"As for certainty, have you really seen other people die trying similar tests?" - I don't know how to make it any planer: IT'S NOT CERTAIN! But it makes sense to act as if it is certain. Yes, I've seen car death. I have been knocked down and had a broken leg. So, it's still not certain that it happened, but the evidence of the pain was good enough for me. What has God done that has had such an impact on my life, or any life, that hasn't been dreamt up in some theist's head?

"such tests could not prove anything about such things" - They provide sufficient working evidence. If you don't believe me, step out in front of an oncoming bus.

"well, the same could be the Idealist's response to your tests" - Same answer. If you think it's all in my plaiable mind, demonstrate it. But before you do, demonstrate that God exists. Now, want to take any bets?

Circular:
You have some certainties
These certainties come from God
You reason from these certainties to support the case for God
If that's only incomplete rather than circular by all means complete it.

You asked me to answer your questions, but I'm not sure which ones you think I haven't answered.

Back to your original post:
"But, if we were created by (and in the image of) a perfect person..." - A big IF. What makes you think we are?

"and if (as reason and revelation indicate) that person exists everlastingly " - No it doesn't. Reason indicates nothing of the sort. And revelation? What revelation?

"unless we think of God as existing within time) time would be primarily an aspect of a perfect person..." - Why? What is a perfect person? What has time and a perfect person got to do with each other? What on earth does this mean other than some concept in your head?

"whence time would probably ..." - What? Where is this probability from?

"that perfectly sharp edges exist geometrically" - Only conceptually! We have no evidence, and don't have the instruments to disect time to it's ultimate reality, so we can't say anything about that one way or the other.

"...hence there are points everywhere within it." - Conceptually, as far as we can tell.

All this is the type of irrational word-play upon which great theologies are built; but it doesn't mean anything.

Any particualr question you want an answer to?

Enigman said...

Ron, you say: "Circular:
You have some certainties
These certainties come from God
You reason from these certainties to support the case for God
If that's only incomplete rather than circular by all means complete it."

Compare: I have some sense-data, which come from ordinary objects. I reason from the sense-data to support my case for the existence of ordinary objects.

There I see not circularity but a modest part of the hypothetico-deductive method. Analogously my case for God would be evidential, not circular, and composed of 2 basic parts, for the 2 basic types of evidence, public and private. Even if there was no public evidence, I ought to be allowed private evidence when rationally forming my own beliefs about the world. And if lots of people have similar private evidence then they can talk about it, and it becomes public.

It becomes public, just as unproven hypotheses become proven, although it does not have to be scientific evidence to be public evidence. It can be testimony, for example; but the testimony has to be supported by more than itself, of course! But by analogy, suppose you hear a love song when you are 9 years old. What a lot of girly twaddle, you might think. Ten years later and you might think that the song-writer was a poet with some deep insights! Or suppose you hear some stories about aliens, by groups A B C and D, and then later you are yourself abducted by aliens, who seem like the ones described by C and D, and upon investigation (now well motivated, unless you doubt your own rationality) you discover that D are now saying new things that you had also noticed. Are A just the same as D now?

And re your certainty (at the top of your post), my assertion was that you (like all sane people) do have such certainties, amongst your beliefs. You also believe that they are not certainties, but that just makes your beliefs inconsistent. And I can talk of your certainty even if you deny that there is such a thing (just as you can question Swinburne's view of his own mind). I call them certainties because I believe that really you are certain (in the ordinary sense of the word).

Part of that is that you are (I believe) more sure of the bus being real than your evidence gives you ground for. Cf. how you have evidence that space is Euclidean, which is trumped by scientific evidence that it is non-Euclidean; so, how much scientific evidence would it take before you were quite happy to jump in front of the bus? I don't think that any amount of scientific evidence would be good enough!

You also say:
What I did say is that there's no evidence of dualism, and since every other scrap of evidence we have outside our brain supports physicalism, then that's a pretty good model for the brain too.
The evidence for dualism about soul and brain would naturally be found (were there any, were dualism true) inside the brain. It would be a fallacy to think that physical closure outside the brain would say much about the likelihood of dualism, but in any case there appears to be some evidence against closure outside the brain. That evidence will only take the form of proper scientific records once scientists have investigated it properly. But like you, many scientists would just presume that there was nothing to find (on the grounds that nothing has been found, which is not so much circular as fallacious, as above). That is probably a very pragmatic attitude (scientific career-wise) but it is hardly the scientific spirit! It is not we theists who are against science and reason!

Finally, you call my argument "the type of irrational word-play upon which great theologies are built," but it is not irrational but incomplete. The points, for example, are geometrical, which means they exist conceptually, and possibly physically if there are continua. That is incompleteness: I have not shown that there are physical continua. But many scientists assume that there are, and if asked to give a reason for their belief would cite the successful use that science makes of the real number line. Now, you also say "we usually take it as a good rule of thumb that if we don't have evidence for something, ignore it," but do I have to show that continua exist, or does my opponent have to show that, despite scientific practice, spacetime is discrete? That is a philosophical question (and a similar reply is available to all your points about my argument, which were very similar points).

Jeff said...

A few observations:
It seems that most people on both sides of the divide (the atheist/theist divide) make the assumption that their world view is the status quo.
The truth is that we our natural state is blank; our world view is constructed. Sometimes for good reasons, other times for not-so good reasons. But there is no status quo.
An unbiased assessment, I think, wouldn't lead to any clear winner as for the logical assumption.
An atheist claims science implies materialism. A theist answers of course it does, it began with materialist assumptions.
A theist proclaims all the good works of religion; an atheist brings up the Crusades; to which a theist counters with Stalin, Hitler, and their ilk.
A theist brings up the hard formulation of the anthropic principle. An atheist brings up the soft version of the anthropic principle.
An theist claims that atheists have a problem with infinite regress. A theist counters that choosing an arbitrary starting point and then claiming that starting point is infinite just side-steps the whole problem.

I don't have any problem with suggestions that I chose my belief system. I just take issues when atheists claim that they have some special vantage point and that their beliefs are somehow more naturally defensible.

Maybe one world view is more defensible. But there is a certain place that that debate makes sense. (At the metaphorical cross roads.)

Ron, I'd like to point out the question in a different way: let's suppose we had a creationist. I'm not interested in whether he is right. (I don't think he is) Would the appropriate place and time for him to debate the truth of his position be when someone is making a rather nuanced and specialized claim about one portion of Neodarwinian theory?
If there was a blog about Mitochondrial DNA, for example, a creationist might jump in and say "That's all bunk. We didn't evolve so all this stuff is irrelevant" Would seem rather silly. He's having the wrong debate at the wrong time. Somebody engaged in a debate about mitochondrial DNA left that cross roads far behind. He's accepted the truth of evolution. His question now is this: How does evolution work? What does it look like?
I see the same thing here: There's a series of claims about the nature of theism. Not all of them are ones I agree with. But if I'm going to debate these, I'd do so from the same point on the path.
If the creationist said "But the matters not settled yet" The biologists would be very reasonable to say "It is for us."

Whether the biologist is right or wrong, he's not going to get anything accomplished by going back to the beginning. None of us would; when we're trying to do work far down the path that we believe leads to the truth, we'll never get anywhere if we keep going back to that first cross roads.

Ron Murphy said...

Certainty: Yes, my certainties are certain in the normal, practical, day-to-day use of the word, but not in an absolute sense. I can accept that that certainty has limits, in the very small and the very large with regard to the natural world, without worrying about it daily. Similarly I don't need to examine my existential doubt every minute of every day. I don't see any inconsistency here.

"Compare: I have some sense-data..." - Yes, but only because the sense data is what we have in the first place and corroborated by many different and consistent (within limits) examples. These examples are so abundant that they form our most regular and natural view of reality. We rely on human consciousness and have to make it work hard to come up with anything else, and the further we go beyond our sense data the more difficult it is and the less certain we can be.

I'm not saying that a more esoteric examination of reality and knowledge isn't worth pursuing. I'm all for the scientific spirit.

"The evidence for dualism about soul and brain would naturally be found (were there any, were dualism true) inside the brain." - Why? It doesn't strike me as being obvious. In fact I'd be very suspicious of introspection that didn't have external support. If anything I'd expect external examination to provide better answers - eventually. The study of the brain is in its infancy so I think it's premature to conclude the soul and dualism are 'real'.

"That evidence will only take the form of proper scientific records once scientists have investigated it properly." - I agree. But until then I don't see the need to assume dualism is real, and I don't see any use of the 'soul', which is a theological requirement.

"But like you, many scientists would just presume that there was nothing to find..." - I'm not presuming there's nothing to find, but I am saying the current indicators point to that. The biggest indicator being that there's no evidence from introspection that couldn't indicate delusion just as well as dualism and a soul. How can you tell the difference? And, of course, there's no evidence from sense data.

However, I still don't see where your theism comes from. And why theism and not deism? I can't disprove theism, and that's not my intent. In your original post you start with "The metaphysics of continuity...is actually related to Monotheism, as follows." - But I don't see how it follows. I appreciate what you're saying in the first paragraph, but then your second paragraph appears to make too big a leap to theism...

"But, if we were created by (and in the image of) a perfect person, then we might reasonably expect ..." - Why might we expect that? How are you in a position to determine what we might expect from a perfect person? What is a perfect person? I'd have thought this would require some reasoning, which maybe you have covered elsewhere.

"and if (as reason and revelation indicate) that person exists everlastingly (rather than timelessly)..." - What form of reason and revelation? How do they indicate that person exists? Could you explain further your distinction between everlastingly and timelessly in this context? "...time would be primarily an aspect of a perfect person" - Why?

"...whence time would probably..." - I don't see how the rest of the paragraph follows from what you said about a perfect person.

Pretty much all of your second paragraph appears to assume your theism as a premise, and that's the real question I have about it all. The other, non-theistic, points about the limitations of reality, even dualism, are reasonable - they are on or near the limits of our current understanding and so can be debated reasonably. But where does to theism come from?

I read your The Theodolite Theodicy post and the May and September posts it refers to. Philosophical and metaphysical examination of the origin of the universe apart (some 'creator' is a reasonable hypothesis as far as I can tell), where does the theology come from? Take the 'problem of evil' - what evil? Isn't 'evil' simply another way of expressing 'shit happens', but in the context of human interaction, an evolutionary attribute?

"Similarly beauty is in the eye of the beholder (as is colour, etc.) whilst also being a property of the beheld—and perhaps what makes some perception of a beloved’s loveliness (of moral goodness, etc.) a veridical perception is the existence of God" - Why? We can agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don't think it's a property of the beheld - it's too arbitrary. And again, the presumption of God to explain what can just as easily be explained in the context of evolutionary psychology.

Starting with something as a creator - God, we go on: God as a personal God, God making some perceptions true, God and evil, ...., (I've not read all your posts so this might not apply to you, but it does to many theists) onward to some holy texts, God as moral authority, ...

If we stop at the creator hypothesis I think we're still on reasonable ground - we really don't know enough about reality and the origin of the universe, so it's as good a hypothesis as any. But the rest appears to be pure speculation that goes beyond all reason, often to what appear to be sadistic extremes (Catholic condemnation of condom use in the battle against AIDS, Islamic requirement for the death of apostates).

Enigman said...

To start with, Ron (I’ve reordered the following but your reply got my name wrong (it called me Scott!) and just asked if I was over my flu (not yet, whence my untidiness) so I presume you won’t mind me deleting it in order to tidy the following up:), you seemed to misconstrue the following: "The evidence for dualism about soul and brain would naturally be found (were there any, were dualism true) inside the brain." - because you said:

Why? It doesn't strike me as being obvious. In fact I'd be very suspicious of introspection that didn't have external support. If anything I'd expect external examination to provide better answers - eventually. The study of the brain is in its infancy so I think it's premature to conclude the soul and dualism are 'real'.

It's also premature to conclude that they're not real, or that the evidence indicates anything in advance of performing the appropriate experiments; and the default position is not materialism but the totality of our experience, which includes the mental as well as the physical. But anyway, the thing is, since I was assuming dualism about mind and brain, the evidence inside the brain is not introspective evidence, but empirical evidence.

Introspective evidence would be within the mind (and if substantial dualism is the case, then we get the benefits of monism with theism too, so we may as well call it a soul). Within the brain would be the physical side of the mind-brain interaction. We could in theory observe where in the neurones were the nonrandom patterns that came at the start of the more deterministic biochemical processes. But in practice it would be best to try to observe micropsychokinetic effects outside the brain, of course, and use the crasser stuff we know about the brain to extrapolate from (except that we don't do the experiments to find out about the former). Still, it would be natural for the physical evidence about mind-brain interactions to be located largely within the brain.
Other evidence would come via introspection, though. Prima facie our explanations for why things move as they do must involve things like our beliefs, as when I pick up a book for example, and we have as yet no equally powerful theory from which the mental can be sliced away, using Occam’s razor; so there is prima facie evidence for some such interaction, and not finding physical evidence for it when we don’t look properly for it is not very good counter-evidence. It would be simpler to believe in four elements, than a hundred, and to reduce those to just one, such as everything is made of water, but it would make a very poor account of the complexities and actual regularities that we observe. It may be simpler to believe in materialism, but it makes for a poor account of our experiences at present.
There are only a few particles, but even there we find that most things are accounted for by a third of them, with the other two thirds being posited to explain quite exotic behaviour, that is only noticed if expensive experiments are performed as carefully as they should be, which is more carefully than most laboratory experiments need to be. What trumps a nice tidy theory, or (in the case of materialism) a nice tidy dream of a theory one day, is even the tiniest bit of actual observation of reality.

So I like your distrust of speculation. When younger, I would not have bothered with philosophy, let alone with the crazy details of religions. But the experiments are just not done. And that fact (they are not part of mainstream science) is then used to justify itself (they are unscientific). So I would have settled for mathematics, with its freedom from speculation and experimentation. But there we assume that set theory is the science of infinity because modern maths is used without problems in modern physics; and so I end up writing posts like this one! I'm not a natural philosopher (so your comments are useful, in making me think about my poor presentation). I don’t rate the systems of philosophers (such as Lewis or Leibniz). But where would we find the appropriate data? This question needs to be answered properly before we examine the details; which details?
I have a couple of reasons to assume mind-brain dualism:
(i) Dualism is the default that we naturally assume, and retain in the absence of overwhelming reasons against it. Occam's razor does not apply since we cannot yet (and may never) eliminate reference to beliefs and such, when predicting what will happen.
(ii) I have a lot of personal experience of one particular kind of evidence for dualism (the kind mentioned in my last post). I know that it has not been properly investigated, because I know what it is like. (I don't want to say much more about it, because that would just be hearsay, but even until it is investigated properly it is quite reasonable for me to base my own beliefs on what I know about it; something has to come before published results, e.g. philosophy!)

Now, your main complaint (with my post) seems to be that I've no reason to assume Monotheism (if I have then your other points would fall away, it seems). But Monotheism is one of our default positions (within Western civilisation) and like many others I have personal experiences that give me empirical justification for my beliefs. A Creator is quite a reasonable idea, a priori; and if there is one, why would it not interact with its creatures? So maybe some revelations are fairly reliable; it would be a tedious job to assess it all objectively, but you don't just ignore physics because it's difficult, do you? Or because some of it says some prima facie odd stuff about time-travel? Or because it has been wrong about most things, in most of history? If there is a God (and that's a widespread assumption, so it needs even less primary motivation than the Copernican revolution) then it's the same with revelations. (Cf. how if there is a Cartesian demon, then it's not the same with physics!)

Incidentally, you wonder why God's existence might make perceptions of a beloved's loveliness true, and that would be because God was the Creator. God could have made your beloved lovely, which would explain why you perceive that loveliness, and would enable it to be an objectively real loveliness, appropriate for correspondance truth. It's not just a matter of invoking God to get some desirable truths, although it sounds similar. The time-travel allowed by GR is not just a matter of getting into a TARDIS.

Similarly for non-material minds. They are much easier to explain if there is a Creator who made them, for some reason. It is not easy to imagine how they were made. But it is not even very easy to imagine how energy becomes matter, or how time and space become each other. Without a Creator, how do unitary minds arise, within the material world of 6 billion years ago? Given unitary minds, brains are a natural way to have them act in the world. And evolution can apply to them. But can you give the faintest sketch of how they could arise in the first place? It's not a problem of probabilities (as in the case of DNA), but of concepts. There is nothing there, no idea at all. Adding anything would change monism into something weirder looking than dualism.

It's not a matter of coming to behave like an individual (of evolution and probabilities), but of being a subject (of matter becoming aware). There is no explanation, nor even the barest sketch of how one might ever be possible. So it is not that dualism is just about reasonable, it is that monism is completely unreasonable (for the sorts of reasons you give above against the reasonableness of theism). And yet we find that most atheists assume materialism, that most atheists dismiss dualism as primitive and silly. Why? I suspect it is because dualism makes most sense given theism. E.g. a reasonable impulse towards monism is that it would explain interactions and interconnections, and that sort of explanation is available if all the kinds of things in Creation are unified by their Creator. Dualism under Theism has all the benefits of Monism, and none of the problems of Atheistic Monism.

There are many other reasons... but what I’ve noticed over many years is the presumption that there cannot be any, on the grounds that none have been heard of, followed by the dismissing of any long and imperfect explanation of how there are many, for being too long, for such an obviously hopeless position, and for containing obvious errors anyway (as though not all our sciences began with counterintuitive speculations, and many errors), and/or the dismissing of any short explanation for being incomplete etc. (and this often from people who like Lewisian analyses because they look scientific; or who accept the possibility of time-travel if that is part of a simple theory of some tiny segment of our experiences) etc.

So much for dualism. It needs more experimentation, if we are to get useful mathematical models of it, but it is arguably the default position and so in the absence of such experiments it should be assumed anyway. I have not proved it is; but you have not proved it isn't. Similarly, I've not proved Theism is true, but you have not proved that it is not reasonable. Theism would be a package, much as scientific materialism is, with support coming from many places, and with unexpected consequences. This post was (i) a worry about explaining the infinite precision of mathematics in terms of primate intuitions, and (ii) a sketch of the relationship between the sort of God that is likely because it avoids the problem of evil, and a sort of non-set-theoretical continuum. I'm particularly interested in (i), given your assumption that theism is irrational...

Rationality presumes that 2 + 2 = 4. We may not be able to be certain (as you say) that we are not being fooled by a demon (or alien) about such intuitions. But even so, we must presume that 2 + 2 = 4 (by definition, as we say) when we think rationally. We don't have to be 100% certain of anything, but we have to presume that 2 + 2 = 100% of 4. Similarly, we presume that thinking makes a difference, that we should think rationally. And yet we are silly primate brains, honed by genocidal war! Still, we value rationality. (It is no coincidence that the rationalists were theists.) We presume that we can and should choose the best hypothesis (not the prettiest, or the most politic). But science gives us only determinism and randomness; how do we explain the responsible free will that rationality itself presupposes we have? Even if atheists could explain it away in their theory, by doing so they would presuppose their actual possession of it! It may be possible to be atheistic and rational, but that would need a lot of evidence for atheism (not just for the physics of matter), not just a belief that the theist has to provide the evidence (based on little more than the common association of atheism with science with evidence).

I like your demand for evidence. Philosophical speculation can only go so far. But where is the evidence for dismissing all accounts of revelation? Not all revelation can be true in any very crass way, but (i) even theists regard it as fallibly recorded by people at best and (ii) why would theism be limited to such crass ways? Sure theism sounds absurd, but so does materialism (we are evolved machines? time-travel is possble?). Some accounts of revelations may BE evidence for theism (evidence in the legal sense). And there are experiments that can be done to demonstrate the probability of dualism (which would make theism more likely too), but they are not done (not properly) because of the vainglorious speculation that no such results would be found. Well, that is to put the cart before the horse.