Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Commentary on My debate with Occam

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Last time I put up a link to the debate I had with Occam on CARM. I showed a few high lights. Now I'm going to give commentary on Occies last speech and show why he's wrong and why I won. That's around sounding, but I want to laud Occam for his efforts. He was a fine opponent, he made good arguments and he was a gentleman.

First speech in the debate here.

his final speech: here


The first thing I want to point out in assessing Metacrock's case is his evidence. To paraphrase Kant, if a complex system rests on a feeble base of evidence, we can dismiss the system without bothering to go through all of its intricacies, because there cannot possibly be anything to the intricacies in that case. Now, the only evidence Metacrock has presented in this debate is the Hood survey, which, I think it is obvious, cannot possibly serve as sufficient evidence for God's existence. So, I would say I've clearly won.
That whole performance is missing the boat completely. First of all the Hood studies, which are immensely respected in their field, and empirically first rate and the strongest validated of any such scale in the world, is only secondary line of evidence. Those studies are used to back up the assertion that religious experience fit the criteria (regular, consistent, shared, navigational). The "system" of the argument is quite simple. It's not hardly a complex system, it rests upon a epistemology that is long established since early modern times, that of Descartes, Locke, Kant. The two opposing camps of rationalists and empiricists being synthesized in Kant.

The basic Cartesian principles being backed empirical studies. Then the result being understood as a reflection of the categories. But the basic argument itself is very simple, we have criteria, or desiderata, that  mark for us the basis of an epistemology. It is on that basis that we accept our experiences as valid. Certain kinds of religious experiences fit that criteria and thus we can trust hem. That's really pretty simple.

In other to prove that we must know a religious experience form a hole in the ground. That's what the m scale does by validating Stace's theory then we can know we are real mystical experiences. Though that we can know that such experiences fit the criteria. We have to know what we are studying first that's what the studies do for us. The M scale has more validation than any other such scale. I already quoted several authorities in the debate saying this.

"Factor Analysis of the mystical experience Questionnaire: A study of experiences occasioned by the Hallucinogen Psilocybin," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion PDF

"Beginning with Hood (1975), the modern empirical study of mysticism has focused on char-
acterizing mystical experiences that individuals have had across their lifetime. Hood’s Mysticism
Scale ...developed according to Stace’s (1960) framework, is the most widely used quantitative mea-sure of mystical experience. The Mysticism Scale has generally been shown to be a reliable
and cross-culturally valid measure of lifetime experiences."

I show six counties in which various studies have validated Stace by use of the M scale proving that the M Scale is a valid measurement and that Stace's theory matches what people are experiencing.

 Metacrock claims that I haven't dealt with his claim that the belief in God meets the criteria we use to determine whether or not the external world exists. This is just false, since I've been attacking the analogy between the external world and God since the beginning of the debate. Metacrock may think that I've ignored some important details of his argument, but at best that is due to his own failure to make it clear which parts of his convoluted arguments he considers important.
But he actually misconstrued the analogy. He's ignored the improtant details that the studies show that msytical expreince is regular, consistant, shared and navigational. In short the fact that the experiences fit the criteria of epistemic judgement is proved by empirical science.

I note that Metacrock tacitly concedes that my attack on Plantinga is successful, just as he tacitly conceded that my attack on Swinburne was successful. His concession that the two most highly regarded theistic philosophers of religion cannot defend theism is seriously damaging to the credibility of theism, as well as to the plausibility of his claim that his highly similar arguments are successful.

 He tries to evoke properly basic by asserting that I don'tk now what it is. I proved I know what it is. My argument was that this whole appraoch to attacking Plantinga and insisting that God belief must be PB (so it comes under Plantigna's arguments and thus share in his attack) is a red herring to get me off the arguments I advanced. It has nothing at all to do with my arguments and thus is not a negation of the resolution as I interpret it. He is attacking arguments I did not make so he's not participating in the debate as long as he does that. I am not obligated to defend thing that I did not put forth.


Next, Metacrock objects to my argument that religious experience should be rejected as inconsistent with our scientific knowledge on ...[following] grounds:


he never shows that religious belief is any kind of contradiction to scientific knowledge. for that to be the case scientific knowledge would have to disprove god we all know there is no such disproof. The only kind of alleged "disproof" any atheist has is absence of proof not an actual disproof.
Occam:This is seriously mistaken. I have only claimed that science has shown that religious experience is an unreliable source of knowledge, which it has, by demonstrating that the experiences of different religions contradict each other and by giving neuroscientific explanations of religious experience. Metacrock has never successfully addressed either of these points.
I answered this, fist if contradicts the above where he says RE is inconsistent with scientific knowledge but he never showed any inconsistency. Since the M scale and other such studies are scientific and they prove the validation of RE then there's no inconsistency. Now he claims he only showed that RE is unreliable, he had no such evidence. The studies show that is reliable since it is regular and consistent.

Next, Metacrock asserts that if the criteria of epistemic judgment are met by religious experience, then we are justified in accepting religious experience as a source of knowledge. But the criteria are not met, since religious experiences are neither shared, regular, nor consistent, as I have shown.

He has shown nothing of the kind. I showed they are regular and consistent becuase that's the M scale shows. They are same experiences the world over just take out the names and the doctrine the experience, what happens in it is always the same. that evidence is given in the McNamara book which I linked to. article on M scale by Hood himself that shows universal reactions.
In P, McNamar (Ed.), Where God and science meet, Vol. 3, pp. 119-138. Westport, CT: Praeger. scroll to page 119.

then comes the block on the universality argument:

He then makes the following attempts to defend his universality argument:


that obviousliy is a poor answer:

(1) not everyone has it. We all have human brain structure but we dont' all have those experiences. So they can't be the result of having a human brain structure.

(2) if just having the brain structure was the case we should expect to find that we all have the same culture and speak the same langue. we have the same brain structure. We should all have the same experiences.

(3) the aspects that are universal are aspects that are cultural and not genetic, such as cultural symbols. Arche types, such as the journey of hte hero. That's not a gene that's a cultural symbol. no link to brain structure.

(4) religion is not genetic. even Stephen Pincker says that. there is no evidence of a religious gene therefor there is no basis for the answer of human brain structure.

(5) that's deponent upon the ideology of sociobiology or it's repacked form as evolutionary psychology. social sciences dont' buy it.

The problem with this is that it consists entirely of false claims and non sequiturs. It does not follow from the claim that we have similar brain structure that we must have similar culture and all have similar religious experiences, because I'm not positing complete similarity.

Yes it does. His claim is that similar religious experiences are due to similar brain structure. If that is the case why would the similarity end with religious experience and not extend to all experience? If it did to all experience we should have the same experiences across the board. How can it just be limited to religion? Certain religion is culture than we should we should have the same culture. Language is the basis of culture we should have the same language. If that's why we have the same religious experiences.

religion is cultural and not genetic. Because it is cultural it is not just a matter of brain structure and the experiences that pertain to it cannot be due merely to brain structure.

proof of the cultural basis for religious experience:

religion is cultural:
RELIGION, although inherent in man, borrows its expressions from the setting or milieu in which man appears. The forms through which man expresses the supernatural are all drawn from the cultural heritage and the environment known to him, and are structured according to his dominant patterns of experience.In a hunting culture this means that the main target of observation, the animal, is the ferment of suggestive influence on representations of the supernatural. This must not be interpreted as meaning that all ideas of the supernatural necessarily take animal form. First of all, spirits do appear also as human beings, although generally less frequently; the high-god, for instance, if he exists, is often thought of as a being of human appearance. Second, although spirits may manifest themselves as animals they may evince a human character and often also human modes of action.[Ake Hultkrantz, “Attitudes Toward Animals in Shashoni Indian Religion,” Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 4, No. 2. (Spring, 1970) © World Wisdom, Inc. no page listed,online archive, URL:, accessed 3/21/13]

No gene for religion:

Atheist guru P.Z. Myers (who is a big named biologist) rejects it on the grounds that VMAT2 is just  "...a pump. A teeny-tiny pump responsible for packaging a neurotransmitter for export during brain activity. Yes, it's important, and it may even be active and necessary during higher order processing, like religious thought. But one thing it isn't is a 'god gene." "No god, and no 'god gene', either". Pharyngula.(2005-02-13) Retrieved 2012-01-29.

I am just saying that the best explanation for the observation that lots of people have similar religious experiences is similarities in brain structure close enough to give them similar experiences. This is the only interpretation of the evidence that is not a God of the gaps argument.
Religious experience is cultural and is  not related to a gene so they can't ascribe it to universal human brain structure. He also totally drops the argument that not everyone has RE thus it can't be result universality of the human brain.

Overall two massive reasons he loses: I made two arguments and backed both up with empirical data, he has no empirical data is totally mistaken about mine.

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