Atheist Positivism Is Just Pretend Rationality

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Atheist Positivism Is Just Pretend Rationality





BrotherDavid wrote:

Positivism is quite evidently nonsensical, as a theory of knowledge: if it is true it must be false, seeing that the theory is not a modifiable empirical hypothesis, and cannot as far as we can see ever be subject to worthwhile measurement, & etc etc. The theory is no more than a postulate that cannot possibly demonstrate its worth using its own terms. To point out that the only workable epistemology has to be generous enough to allow religious conclusions to be live possibilities, which might then be established or discredited by the appearance of things, is to draw attention to a material fact about the evidence. Either we want to be rational and base our views on such information—in which case all considerations of this kind will tell with us. Or we don’t care less about reason or knowledge, we want to think whatever suits us—in which case we should say so, and drop the pretence of rationality and a love for facts.




Above is a quote from my Dr of Philosophy and theist brother, a clever and deeply annoying epistemologist, who cannot bear to think that it's not possible to think our way to a comprehension of reality. If the man is not a Platonist it would surprise me. For him, ideas, concepts, the 'immaterial' fabric of knowledge - this is the underlying truth of reality. 

In his defense, BrotherDavid is not a bible literalist, does not believe in hell and thinks much of religious doctrine is mythology. But he nevertheless holds some views that allow him to keep the door open to the possibility of 'supernaturalism' which he calls 'religious conclusions'. This and his interpretation of probability, which he must base on some sort of Bayesian false dichotomy (either god or random chance, people) are the basis for his belief there is an external god-thing. He also maintains that, using the literary historical method for which he has the greatest respect, jesus is the the most probable incarnation of this god, giving him a devotional aspect to his hypothetical prime mover. 

According to BrotherDavid, positivism fails to prove there are not concepts or laws that exist outside of the ability of human empiricism to detect them. Further, he insists that the theory of positivism cannot be proved empirically true. This loophole allows him to insist that material proofs have no more basis than do supernatural proofs - in fact they have less because they are based on a flawed epistemology, which insists on proofs which it is internally unable to deliver in support of itself.

What do others think of all this? I think we are, at heart, mostly positivist reductionists here. Do we believe everything, including knowledge itself, is reducible to atomic and possibly quantum constituents? I have long argued that it is, to Brother's frustration, which explains the implicit ad hominem in his final couple of lines. 





"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck

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ax wrote:Zaq,Math,

ax wrote:


Math, especially higher levels, regularly assumes values for potential unknowns. This is a also a commonality in most physical systems where absolute values cannot be determined.

"true" is probabilistic. Illustrating this was my previous objective.

You can generalize that you have two cars because the definition of a car is vague enough to allow you to consider including your broken car. 

If the definition were further extended to specify "a car has an engine that activates upon ignition" then your broken car no longer meets the definition, and you only have one car. 

In the context of a single debate this would be moving the goalposts, but over a series of debates this occurs frequently, and we often encounter "knowns" in science that later turn out to be unknowns, which brings us full circle back to mathematical presumptions of potential unknowns.

None of which seems to happen in the mathematics...

Seriously, whether or not I mean the same thing when I say "working car" and "non-working car" is something you ask when deciding which mathematics you want to apply.  But it's not a question the mathematics deals with.  The mathematics only comes in once you've already answered the question of definition.

If you say "1+1=2" and use this to conclude that "one car plus one car equals two cars," then I'm going to say that the mathematics only supports your conclusion if you mean exactly the same thing with each instance of the word car.  If you don't then your conclusion might not be true, but this doesn't refute the mathematics.  It just means that you've applied the wrong math.

Questions for Theists:

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.