Atheism: The World is Flat – The None, the Non-, the Non-Theist
The World is Flat – The “None”, the “Non-“, the Non-Theist
On the term Atheist and its definition, the report of “a lack of evidence” is fairly accurate on the more common definitions in general. Interestingly, what the word Atheism in fact referents has become so diversified and generalized that it has lost its ability to be helpful in any reliable fashion. A simple example: it has drifted so far afield that (some) Buddhists claim they are not “Atheists” because they are “spiritually minded”.
Entire discussions on the utility and meaning of the term Atheist are not uncommon and for good reason. If one has a discussion as to why the term “Non-Theism” is of greater utility than the term “A-Theism” then one can certainly point out where such a discussion gets it wrong or gets it right, but the discussion itself is always illuminating.
Regarding the “None”, the “Non-” the Non-Theist…… and why it is a superior term to “A-” (Atheist) etc. with respect to precision as to what one actually does affirm, that carries over into the fallacious nature of the claim about one’s own belief-state in the statement, “…..my claim of Not-Your-God is “nothing-but” non-belief….” which our Non-Theist friends so often claim.
That’s why “Non-Theist” is more precise as it speaks not to a person’s (an atheist’s) self-report of insufficient evidence but rather it speaks to his actual belief-state, to what he affirms, to what he in fact likes, to what he gives intellectual assent to, and, thereby, to what every possible metaphysic available to him necessarily lacks within its own frame.
When we say that “Non-Theist” is far more informative than “Atheist” because it speaks to what one affirms, to what one in fact likes, to what one gives intellectual assent to, what we mean by that begins to take shape as we realize the following:
The problem there is obvious: No belief can be doubted except on the basis of some other belief — that is to say that the problem is that the claim/self-report is at bottom the claim that the self-report of “I do not believe X” and/or “there is not enough evidence to justify X” or of “I Doubt Paradigm X” is/are self-report(s) which are NOT based on other beliefs/things-you-affirm-as-true — or that such self-reports are NOT based on other/prior beliefs as per the following nuance which our own contingent abstractions of our own contingent minds of our own contingent beings cannot evade:
“…..total skepticism about ultimate beliefs is… impossible… no belief can be doubted except on the basis of some other belief, [so] indifference is always in danger of giving place to …a fanaticism that can be as intolerant as any religion has ever been……” (by L. Newbigin)
To deny that quote’s observation of “…no belief can be doubted except on the basis of some other belief…” is to claim that “To Claim A Lack Of Belief In X” is NOT a conclusion which is ITSELF built atop earlier, or more proximal, or more upstream, or more fundamental “first principles” vis-à-vis affirmations and therefore the Non-Theist is left insisting on a “mid-air” fuzzy sort of “Doxastic Vacuum” of “nothing-but-non-belief”. But that is logically impossible given the contingent nature of ALL semantic intent — that is to say that it is logically impossible for our belief states to be otherwise — to be “vacuums” void of affirmations and a key reason why is because all of our knowledge is necessarily Contingent and not of our own Necessity.
It is NOT “only” Non-Theism / Atheism but it is ALL self-reports of doubt (Etc.) which constitute a belief state and NO belief state about ANY-thing is possible but for the floor beneath it — and that floor is a latticework of Affirmations/Positive-Claims — such that “…no belief can be doubted except on the basis of some other belief…”
End Excerpt. ((…from The Twin Fallacies Of Nothing But Non-Belief And Of Default Atheism at https://metachristianity.com/the-twin-fallacies-of-nothing-but-non-belief-and-of-default-atheism/ …))
Before going further it is worth pointing out a common misstep which often occurs in this early phase of making the transition from Self-Reports of What’s Missing over into what one is basing that Self-Report on. That common misstep arrives in one the following three forms even though at bottom it is/has only one common claim:
1. “One God further than you…”
2. “One less God than you….”
3. “One fewer Gods/gods than you…”
If you are not familiar with it, an introduction can be found in a discussion of the One God Further Objection (.. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/04/one-god-further-objection.html ..). Also, fundamental flaws in the “One Fewer Gods / One Less God / One God Further” line of reasoning are briefly looked at in the comments  Part 1 https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/how_natural_theology_helps_strengthen_the_authority_of_the_bible/#comment-3200170713 and  Part 2 https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/how_natural_theology_helps_strengthen_the_authority_of_the_bible/#comment-3205012006 (…depending on browser variables links to specific comments may take a few seconds to open…)
Rational Metrics Of Inquiry: There are ontological and epistemological implications entailed in ANY “Non-Theistic” terminus and one may not be a materialist or a panpsychist or a Whatever, etc. but, nonetheless, the implications of any worldview do not need to be spelled out in order to be real. The “Non” of Non-Theism” forces an embrace of some [set] of modes of perception/interpretation vis-à-vis “what-counts-as-rational-metrics” while forcing a simultaneous rejection of another [set] of modes of perception/interpretation vis-à-vis “what-counts-as-rational-metrics” and in all cases there are, whether one is informed enough about it or not, a series of ontological and epistemological implications.
Whether or not the “Non-” specifically claims and/or dives into Panpsychism, Idealism, Buddhism, Naturalism, Materialism, Immaterialism, and so on does not change the fact that the Non  has his respective explanatory terminus and  said terminus *is* one’s respective irreducible substratum from which all definitions necessarily stream and  at some ontological seam somewhere one’s claims upon the fundamental nature of reality or of being will either trade away or else land within the Necessary, the Immutable, the Irreducible, the Self-Explanatory (….contra the Contingent, the Mutable, the Reducible, the Brute Fact…).
Nowhere does this press upon us more relentlessly than in the elemental and irreducible processions constituting Love and Logic, or Reciprocity and Reason. Therein the “Non-” becomes manifestly infinite. Therein (any) one’s metaphysical wellspring of all ontological possibility compels either closure or else insolvency.
The nature of the question here has significant overlap with the “One Fewer God” or “One Less God” challenge often foisted as a challenge against the Christian, or more precisely as a claim which the Non-Theist makes with respect to his own belief-state. The core of that is obviously fallacious given the fact that the doxastic experience is not – and cannot be – a vacuum void of belief and given the fact that all of our own upstream beliefs give life to all of our downstream claims upon what counts as rational inquiry and what counts as rational metrics. Therein everyone has his or her explanatory terminus:
“The reason is that for the classical theist, whatever else we mean by “God,” we certainly mean by that label to name the ultimate source, cause, or explanation of things. Properly to understand classical theism, the hostile atheist reader might even find it useful to put the word “God” out of his mind for the moment — given all the irrelevant associations the word might lead him to read into the present discussion — and just think instead of “the ultimate source of things.” (E. Feser)
The following is perhaps also helpful for context:
“Actually it is quite easy to reject atheism because atheism is the rejection of a certain conceptualization or definition of the term God. Monotheism in the Abrahamic tradition conceptualizes God as the one source of all that exists. To claim that all that exists has no source or cause is simply to deny reality, most particularly, to deny science itself. Atheists can’t have it both ways: to deny that there is an explanation through science for all that exists and to deny that what we monotheists give the name God to as the source of all that exists Himself/itself exists. Atheism is inherently illogical and inconsistent.” (by J.Black)
Description isn’t explanation. Cosmology is not, and cannot “become”, ontology just as physics is not, and cannot “become”, ontology. The contours of the “Fallacy of Composition” press in even as the irreducible contours of “Being Itself” press in as the only contours which Non-Theism ultimately finds are those of “Brute Fact”. Finally, in the end, the syntax of “useful but not true” unmasks the illusory and the absurd at all “levels” of reality and – thereby – assumes ownership of all claim-making by all claim-makers.
None of this is about missing knowledge of physical systems. All of this is about what granting all knowledge of all physical systems does not and cannot even in principle grant to any Non-Theistic paradigm.
Non-Theists too often fail to realize just what “Brute Fact” necessarily forces upon all of their claim-making, which, of course, includes all slices of “reality” which we think of as the physical sciences. They mistake Brute Fact for “…we’ve not figured it out yet, and maybe we never will….”, as in, they equate it with merely one more vector in a series of problems vis-à-vis gaps – and the God of Gaps fallacy typically comes roaring in there. It’s a common error. The Non-Theist is guilty thereby of an argument which is itself based on GAP and not on logic, reason, sound metaphysics, and the testimony of physical systems – as irony emerges. What is needed instead is the knowledge of physical systems in the context of the ultimate self-explanatory principle, such as  http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-is-there-anything-at-all-its-simple.html and also  http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/02/parfit-on-brute-facts.html and also  http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/03/an-exchange-with-keith-parsons-part-iv.html begin to discuss.
Our Belief-States & The Doxastic Experience:
What misses the point with respect to the question on the table is the claim by Non-Theists that it does not matter if they do or do not have beliefs about reality’s ultimate source because either way they don’t think that “it” is “God/god”.
None of this is new information. We all have beliefs about reality which inform us on how best to inquire about reality. Beliefs about reality drive our modes of inquiry with respect to reality. According to some, this or that cousin of physicalism gives us the most exhaustive explanatory accounting of reality, while according to others that is hardly the case. Offshoots or products of that lead into conflations of the descriptive for the explanatory, and into the nature of brute facts and the nature of the self-explanatory, and into several other downstream consequences of those initial, upstream beliefs. If we claim we have no such beliefs, then we may want to research the topic of the “doxastic experience”.
“I think solipsism is always an interesting topic because if we start “mid-stream” in our epistemology by rejecting solipsism (as I think most of us probably do), it is then interesting to try to infer what “upstream” structure of our thoughts must have led to this rejection. There is some hope that by swimming upstream in this manner we will discover certain “first principles” that lie unrecognized at the wellspring of our beliefs.“ (j.hillclimber)
The nature of how our beliefs about reality impact our inquiry is an interesting slice of the proverbial pie that is the doxastic experience. Removing the term “god” and/or “God” and replacing it with “reality” or “reality’s rock-bottom” and so on clears out some of the clutter and helps us focus on that interface of belief/inquiry.
Several initial, upstream beliefs held by Non-Theists compel them into some rather unfortunate downstream consequences. The intellectual price tag some are willing to pay becomes evident as they trade away logical lucidity for this or that (…ultimately…) self-negating – or illusory – possibility.
The proverbial reductio ad absurdum finds it way in through the likes of Brute Fact and through the likes of the ultimately illusory bedrock of the “….useful but not true….” syntax of navigations akin to Poetic Naturalism, and through various other examples of those downstream consequences. The ultimately self-explanatory is (…obviously…) juxtaposed to those sorts of choices. As to how to proceed, the physical sciences may or may not be the only rational mode of inquiry with respect to reality’s “rock-bottom”.
Most Non-Theists and Theists who are well published come to the end of the physical sciences and reach beyond those X’s. The proverbial “Y” in the road pretty much always carries us into [A] Brute Facts or else [B] the Self-Explanatory.
The “self-explanatory” is interesting. The “Absolute’s” reference frame cannot be defined in terms of the finite and so cannot land in anything other than Self-Reference. A few insightful theologians have followed that logically compelled premise and on several intriguing levels it begins to force X’s which have overlap with specifically Trinitarian premises. […though not the topic here, both Presentism and Eternalism arrive on scene through contingent reference frames and the troubles that so many run into is the error of stopping too soon. To define one’s T.O.E. by mutable and contingent frames of reference is ultimately irrational. Should one push onward and outward one will find that logical necessity forces our hand into The Absolute’s Own Frame of Reference — as per https://metachristianity.com/absolute-reference-frame-pure-act-incarnation-time/ ..]
Regardless of where our line of inquiry takes us we find the Non-Theist’s and the Theist’s initial, upstream beliefs about the nature of reality fully in-play, driving their respective downstream claim-making as to just what counts as rational inquiry, as to just what counts as rational metrics. With respect to that word “regardless”, Non-Theists too often attempt to claim immunity for their own belief-state and we see this best exemplified or demonstrated in the affairs of their “one-less-god-than-you” claim of, “….my claim of Not-Your-X is “nothing-but” non-belief….”
Non-Theists want to claim immunity and therefore want to claim that some sort of magical (…inexplicable…) or non-porous barrier between those interfaces exists – vis-à-vis their own belief-state. It’s fine if they want to claim, and believe, that such a thing exists. That claim itself (…of immunity…) is another interesting occurrence (…in this series of observations…). That is to say that that claim itself (…of immunity…) is another interesting belief – itself the downstream product of a long series of upstream beliefs about reality.
Reality’s continuum ruins claims of immunity. There are consequences for trading away lucidity in favor of claiming – gaining – the Brute Fact option. That move sets all lower levels as the inexplicable and that is *not* an agnostic claim *nor* a claim that we are simply limited by our tools. Then, from there, the consequences on all claim-making moves which take place in all distal locations which stream from that metaphysical fountainhead — all downstream consequences — suffer an intellectual price tag. Non-Theists in general fail to account for that continuum. Now, that continuum and those downstream consequences are fine if Non-Theists want to believe in those and in their claim-making, however, it is the upstream beliefs about reality which lead Non-Theists into those unfortunate tar pits which are of interest here with respect to the fallacious nature of the Non-Theist’s claim of “….my claim of Not-Your-X is “nothing-but” non-belief….”
With respect to that continuum, the Non-Theist’s claim-making-move to assert and/or argue that such a magical (…inexplicable…) or non-porous barrier between upstream beliefs and downstream claim-making-moves actually exists (….presumably within that continuum….) is in part motivated by the Non-Theist’s desire – want – to claim that his claim-making is constituted of “nothing-but” the stuff of “no-beliefs” with respect to reality. Observational reality therein seems to affirm that Non-Theists want to claim immunity and therefore want to claim that some sort of magical (….inexplicable….) or non-porous barrier between those interfaces exists. Again, it’s fine if they want to claim, and believe, that such a thing exists. That claim itself (…of immunity…) is another interesting occurrence (…in this series of observations…). That is to say that that claim itself (…of immunity…) is another interesting belief – itself the downstream product of a long series of upstream beliefs about reality.
Our Doxastic Experience – Going Further:
The upstream beliefs about reality which give life to our downstream claims upon what counts for rational inquiry and what counts as rational metrics (…and *whatever* claims about brute fact or explanatory or descriptive or X or Not-X they happen to lead to…) are just that – beliefs about reality. The term “Non-Theist” attests to what it is which our Non-Theist friend in fact affirms Despite the Non-Theist’s claim, no one is immune.
We all have beliefs about reality which inform us on how best to inquire about reality. Beliefs about reality drive our modes of inquiry with respect to reality. According to some, this or that cousin of physicalism gives us the most exhaustive explanatory accounting of reality, while according to others that is hardly the case. Offshoots or products of that lead into conflations of the descriptive for the explanatory, and into the nature of brute facts and the nature of the self-explanatory, and into several other downstream consequences of those initial, upstream beliefs about reality.
Therefore, once again: Those upstream beliefs about reality which give life to our downstream claims upon what counts for rational inquiry and what counts as rational metrics (…and *whatever* claims about brute fact or explanatory or descriptive or X or Not-X they happen to lead to…) are just that – beliefs about reality. The term “Non-Theist” attests to what it is which our Non-Theist friend in fact affirms.
The World Is Flat:
The growing tide of younger, bolder Non-Theists are eager to deconstruct, eager to get to the point, and they’re not afraid to let go of yesteryear’s brand of Atheism’s muddied and hedge-filled attempts to retain necessary transcendentals. “Ultimately absurd? Sure. So what? It’s enough to get by on…..” as the likes of, say, Sean Carroll’s Poetic Naturalism and other such T.O.E.’s run to the edge of reality – truly believing that reality is in fact flat – such that they truly believe they have found reality’s edge – and truly believing there are no catastrophic consequences to taking the proverbial ship over the Flat-World’s edge where lucidity in fact ends as they race towards reality’s epicenter with respect to that pesky trio of “Being Itself” and Brute Fact and the Self-Explanatory. “But it’s enough to get by on!” and various forms of “Sure, it’s useful but not true! So what?” end all such polemics against reason’s demands for lucidity through and through. For a bit more context see http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-is-there-anything-at-all-its-simple.html as to “Why Is There Anything At All? It’s Simple” and also see https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/02/parfit-on-brute-facts.html surrounding Brute Facts.
Regarding the Flat World, the Non-Theist must not react too quick in his attempt to deny that he in fact does affirm such a world. The edge of the world just is the end of lucidity and such finds the illusory within the useful-but-not-true. That growing tide has displaced the timid Non-Theists of yesteryear who still hold on to their bizarre attempts at ontological cul-de-sacs, while the younger, bolder brand is far more eager to get to the point. Now, of course we don’t know the end of all physical systems and if the Non-Theist claims his agnosticism with respect to such systems, well then all that we can is that his move to agree with Christianity regarding physical systems is fine.
The Non-Theist’s “Flat World” is not a Flat World “only because” we do not understand all of reality with respect to the physical sciences *nor* is it “only because” we do not understand all of reality with respect to all that lies beyond the metrics of the physical sciences. For in fact the Christian actually claims that there is that which awaits ahead – up over the horizon – which Scripture tells us is beyond all that we can ask or think. Hence the Non-Theist’s attempt to address the question on the table by employing his appeal to his belief-state being agnostic with respect to the ends of the physical sciences and/or all which awaits us beyond physical metrics is evidence that he does not understand the nature of the problem he thinks he is – but is not – addressing. The Christian is happy to GRANT the Non-Theist the past eternal universe just as the Christian is happy to GRANT the Non-Theist all knowledge of all physical systems. Why? Because neither of those free Non-Theism from its World’s Flatness.
The “Flat World” is not Flat on Non-Theism because we do not understand all of reality, but, rather, the absurdity arrives within the Non-Theist’s conflation of [A] that gap in knowledge for [B] an inexplicable intellectual right to [irrationally] embrace the absurd and reject logic and lucidity.
That move is a move which compels the rational mind to reject the entire Non-Theistic attempt (…to reject reductions to absurdity…). As discussed a few paragraphs down from here: it is in reality’s concrete furniture where we in fact do or in fact do not find Reason Itself vis-à-vis Being Itself and it is within Non-Theism’s various attempts at ontological cul-de-sacs where we find — at some ontological seam somewhere — that in fact the end of reason itself is finally forced and those pains land the entire Non-Theistic attempt NOT in the convertibility of the necessary transcendentals with respect to reason and reason’s own being but, rather, in the illusory shadows of non-being.
Non-Theists do the Christian’s work for us here as they follow logic and reason into the various cousins of solipsism. From there logic forces our hand into either a reductio ad absurdum or else into a reductio ad deum. Diving into “Being Itself”, which is the question on the table, is too often avoided by too many Non-Theists as, based on standard replies, such discussions don’t follow upstream premises far enough downstream to address the actual question on the table with respect to the trio of  “Being Itself” and  Brute Fact and  the Self-Explanatory.
The Edge of the Non-Theist’s Flat World just is the end of lucidity and such finds the illusory within the useful-but-not-true steering the ship. Not through this or that “layer”, but in fact through and through. It’s all about layers. Too often our Non-Theist friends talk as if a gap in knowledge is the point. It isn’t. The point is quite simple and it is the Non-Theist’s Edge there at the end of lucidity such that his complaint turns on the subtle but unavoidable premise that he has a reality in mind that is beyond mind, beyond lucidity, and beyond logic. In their appeal to their belief-state and this or that layer of agnosticism in their attempts to deny that they do in fact affirm that the world is flat, they are already making one category error with respect to the term Reality and the term Edge. Often they do not recognize that and actually think – half way through these sorts of discussions – that the goal posts have changed, but that merely implies that they’ve not begun to understand the Christian’s metaphysic. Much less address its premises. Non-Theism’s logical progressions into the trio of  “Being Itself” and  Brute Fact and  the Self-Explanatory just is the T.O.E. (….Theory Of Everything…) which affirms that The World Is Flat.
Brief Digression — Love’s Ontology:
We see that same “Non-” pressing in upon love and empathy (…it must be for the World is, the “Non-” tells us, truly Flat…) as irreducible indifference is traded on in the Non-Theist’s polemical sonnets  against Theism and  in defense of love and empathy. The rational with respect to reason as truth-finder cannot be ontologically seamless with the moral given the No-God paradigm wherein irreducible self-giving trades on irreducible indifference and the convertibility of the transcendentals is finally illusory. Given the No-God paradigm what reason claims to apprehend is (….given the non-convertibility of the transcendentals…) ultimately unable to traverse the ontic-ocean from the good and the beautiful and to the real. She (reason) in her proper role as truth-finder is obligated to chase after what *is*, after *facts* and justifiably so. As such the Non-Theists Hume, (physicist) Sean Carroll, Alex Rosenberg, Michael Ruse, and countless others find no obligation on reason’s part to prefer, chase after, the scratching of one’s finger over the destruction of the world. That is to say that the “morally *un*-reasonable” is, simply, impossible given the No-God paradigm wherein irreducible self-giving trades on irreducible indifference and the convertibility of the transcendentals is finally illusory.
Whereas the Trinitarian processions of love’s timeless self-outpouring find that the rational with respect to reason as truth-finder is in fact ontologically seamless with the moral. Therein (to borrow a phrase from E. Feser) “….what reason therein apprehends is (given the convertibility of the transcendentals) as good and beautiful as it is real….”. The thoroughly Trinitarian metaphysic presents us with the timeless diffusiveness of self-giving as such relates to the Ontic-Self in totum which of course presents reason with reality’s irreducible substratum. There again we find that in any No-God paradigm what reason claims to apprehend is (given the non-convertibility of the transcendentals) ultimately unable to traverse the ontic-ocean from the good and the beautiful and to the real.
On a few levels that is in part akin to the concept of the eternally open-ended continuum which metaphysical naturalism forces even as that same paradigm inexplicably attempts to lay claim to “goals” within this or that ontological cul-de-sac or stratum or echelon. But “eternally open-ended goals” just won’t do and for all the same reasons that “ontic-cul-de-sac” just won’t do.
Moving On & Pressing Into Definitions:
“Non- ’s” of all strips do our work for us as in navigating to the Edge of what they claim is the Flat World of Lucidity. They (….”Non- ’s” of all strips….) typically follow reason and logic and end up within various cousins of solipsism, both hard and soft, which of course is again what the Christian’s metaphysic predicts as that proverbial “Y” in the road between the Divine Mind (on the one hand) and Absurdity (on the other hand) approach ever more rapidly.
Reducibility, contingency, mutability, and brute fact just won’t do. The metaphysical absurdity which the “Non-” is forever the victim of is his own attempt to make the difference between Being and Non-Being something akin to just a little less than infinite. There again the pains of those supposed “ontic-cul-de-sacs” are supposed to be an anchor whereby the Non-Theist really can – while using his GPS – “simultaneously” [A] travel over the Edge of what he believes to be a Flat World and [B] go on talking “as-if” the World is Round. Whether it be logic and love, whether it be reason and reciprocity, or however one wishes to phrase it, such does not change the conclusion.
The Atheist’s athe-ism:
The ism is not about what he rejects. It’s not “A-”
The ism is not about his self-report on evidence. It’s not “A-”
It is, rather, about what one delights in, what one affirms, what one gives intellectual assent to, what one embraces.
It is about what one loves.
And what is that? The reductio ad deum and the reducito ad absurdum press in and find that such will be – in the full light of day – the Edge of a Flat World and what one trades upon in order to affirm the reliability of his GPS – namely [A] the absurd or the non-rational and [B] the illusory or the non-real, and – finally – [C] the indifferent and loveless or non-love. It is an irreducible substratum. It is the “Non-”
Such is Non-Theism. On that point of “such is Non-Theism”, we arrive, sooner or later, on the question of reason’s status with respect to reality’s concrete furniture.
Reason & Being & Non-Being:
“…if I believed about God what the atheist believes about God, I wouldn’t believe in God either. So to be induced to somehow change my mind about belief in God…. I would have to accept the atheist’s misunderstanding of what God is…” (J. Black)
Too often these discussions end up with our Non-Theist friends landing on top of the “equivalent” of, say, denying the reality of gravity on the grounds that disagreement about G exists. But we all share in, live in, move in, and find our very being morphed by, Gravity — segue — the universal and necessary transcendentals one must expunge in order to remain within Non-Theism on the grounds of “disagreement” are in the end far too costly.
“Reason Itself” in the sense of mirroring the “classical theism” phrase of, “Being Itself” is helpful here in several ways. First, a brief definition of “classical theism” in case that is unfamiliar:
“Classical theism is the conception of God that has prevailed historically within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Western philosophical theism generally. Its religious roots are biblical, and its philosophical roots are to be found in the Neoplatonic and Aristotelian traditions. Among philosophers it is represented by the likes of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Maimonides, and Avicenna…..” (E. Feser)
We find there that The Argument From Reason or the related theme along similar lines with “The Rationalist Proof” (…see Five Proofs of The Existence of God at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/08/five-proofs-is-out.html ..) is widely accessible and centuries old. Two other reviews of the content there are in a. Evidence for God: Rationality (The Argument From Reason) – by T. Gilson at https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/evidence-god-rationality-argument-from-reason/ and also b. Evidence for God: Argument From Reason Redux – by T. Gilson at https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/03/evidence-for-god-argument-from-reason-redux/
Within that same body of premises we come upon The Divine Mind, or Reason Itself, or The Divine Intellect. On the latter there is E. Feser’s content at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-divine-intellect.html which offers context. C.S. Lewis provides an interesting segue as it relates to the fact that there are differences between reason on the one hand and disagreement on the other hand:
“As I have said, there is no such thing (strictly speaking) as human reason: but there is emphatically such a thing as human thought — in other words, the various specifically human conceptions of Reason, failures of complete rationality, which arise in a wishful and lazy human mind utilizing a tired human brain. The difference between acknowledging this and being skeptical about Reason itself is enormous. For in the one case we should be saying that reality contradicts Reason, whereas now we are only saying that total Reason — cosmic or super-cosmic Reason — corrects human imperfections of Reason. Now correction is not the same as mere contradiction. When your false reasoning is corrected you ‘see the mistakes’: the true reasoning thus takes up into itself whatever was already rational in your original thought. You are not moved into a totally new world; you are given more and purer of what you already had in a small quantity and badly mixed with foreign elements. To say that Reason is objective is to say that all our false reasonings could in principle be corrected by more Reason. I have to add ‘in principle’ because, of course, the reasoning necessary to give us absolute truth about the whole universe might be (indeed, certainly would be) too complicated for any human mind to hold it all together or even to keep on attending. But that, again, would be a defect in the human instrument, not in Reason.” (Lewis, C. S., Christian Reflections)
Feser observes (… http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/road-from-atheism.html ..) similar distinctions:
“…Of course, there are those whose heads and hearts are so out of sync that they cannot follow both at the same time. But we shouldn’t mistake this pathology for an insight into human nature…”
Often, not always, but often enough to prompt this brief paragraph, it is the case that many of our Non-Theist (A-Theist) friends are, when it comes to being, quick to trade away permanence in their paradigm when it comes to the moral, whereas very few are so bold when facing the argument from reason and/or the rationalist proof. And for good reason (no pun intended). The inevitable shipwreck suffered by trading away permanence in the paradigm of metaphysical naturalism when it comes to reason is just too costly. Why? Because at that juncture it becomes evident that while they have been forced to leave “Being Itself” on the table, they have, by their own hand, stripped reason away from it (…away from being – away from “Being Itself”…) such that we find that reason “is” what it always has been in metaphysical naturalism, which is no-thing, as in non-being. Non-Theism is intrinsically anti-reason with respect to “being”. That is to say that Non-Theism just is Non-Reason.
Ontological Cul-De-Sacs & Bobbles & Bubbles:
As just discussed we find that, at some ontological seam somewhere, the end of reason itself is finally forced and that lands the entire Non-Theistic attempt NOT in the convertibility of the necessary transcendentals with respect to its own being but, rather, in the illusory shadows of non-being.
YET our Non-Theist friends “attempt” to live and move and find their very being within the metaphysical absurdity of the “ontological cul-de-sac”. But why are such cul-de-sacs or bubbles of self-contained systems a problem? Most obvious, there is only ONE and there can be only ONE “Totality”, only ONE “Metaphysic” (…whatever it is…) and to propose more than one, or less than one, is a move which is rationally rejected. Adding “Layers” and/or “Universes” and/or “Fields” does not, and cannot, change the sum of Totality. The fundamental nature of Reality – or of Totality – or of Nature – or of “Actuality’s Actual Substratum” (so to speak).
YET our Non-Theist friends speak and reason “As-If” reality can in fact be made up of all sorts of little ontological histories all floating in midair, like so many bubbles, all disconnected from one another. There’s “morality” and its little ontological history or bubble floating over “there” all disconnected from these other bubbles over “here”, and, to continue the theme, there is, say, “rationality” and its little ontological history or bubble, and then there is “biology” and there is “flourishing” and there is “better” and there is “worse” and there is “intentionality” and there is “cosmology” and there is “ontology” and there’s “philosophy” – and so on – each like so many bubbles, each with its own little ontological history, each floating over “there” but not “here”, each all disconnected from one another, each its own Ontic-Bubble and each defined “as-if” its own ontological history of actualizing / becoming gets along just fine – sort of – somehow – all on its own and all by itself, metaphysically immune to the concrete furniture of “Reality” vis-à-vis Totality – tucked neatly away down the street and around the corner in a logical impossibility termed Ontological Cul-De-Sac.
Reality’s Concrete Furniture:
The well-spoken and insightful Non-Theist and Physicist Sean Carroll (… https://www.preposterousuniverse.com …) alludes to these “layers” of syntax in his Big Picture (…Poetic Naturalism and so on…) as he unpacks the How and the Why of what ends up being his nominalism through and through. All but one layer are useful but not true (…not concrete or real with respect to reality’s fundamental nature…), all but one layer are not actually real with respect to reality’s concrete furniture. Why? Because in so many words and from another perspective we observe convergence as Carroll unfolds the problem of Ontological Cul-De-Sacs, Bubbles, and Bobbles. From this other perspective of his the convergence lands in the realization that the metaphysical naturalist’s “Map” that is “Physics – Full Stop” comes to the end of itself and at that juncture one cannot just invent new layers of “reality” for the simple reason that, by force of logical necessity, there are no such things as metaphysical / ontological cul-de-sacs. All of that is simply to say that reality does not work that way. Just the same, again but from this other perspective, there can only be ONE Metaphysic.
It is there at that juncture or seam where the question of “Reason” and “Being” presses in. At a certain “Y” in the road it will be all the syntax of G-O-D or else it will be the illusory knot of equivocations in a slow but inevitable slide into negation, contradiction, and the final reductio ad absurdum (…a final absurdity…).
It is there where, once again, we arrive, at some ontological seam somewhere, at Reason’s obligation with respect to Truth for it is at that metaphysical seam where Reason ends while Reality constituted as Non-Reason continues — ad infinitum. The Edge of Reason there exposes what just is the End of Reason and that is unavoidable in one’s metaphysic unless reality’s explanatory terminus (…under review here…) is in fact Reason Itself vis-a-vis Being Itself — and so on up and down the proverbial “ontic line” as we traverse that fateful “Y” in the road and press into the [A] Reductio Ad Deum or else into the [B] Reductio Ad Absurdum.
Ontic-Equivocations Won’t Do: The fundamental nature of X is….? If it is “Intentionality” vis-à-vis the First Person Experience ((and so on)) well then the “fundamental” is in fact “that” which is to say that we find, at bottom, The-Intentional ((…hence Theism…)). Divorcing one’s ontology of Intentionality from one’s ontology of Self ((…or from one’s ontology of Design should we wish to unpack that box…)) is — literally — impossible. Non-Theism must make the attempt but it yields a litany of equivocation. The scope of the required Map of Design is far more expansive than most appreciate and so we tend to think of little bits and pieces like “this stick” and “that gene” and then go on and on about “Design”. However, if there is design ANYWHERE in a universe such as ours then we have awoken inside of a universe constituted of, soaked through with, Final Causes. Regardless of how THAT unfolds it is going to come at a price far too high for the meager means of Non-Theism while live options available to the Christian Metaphysic remain intact.
Bobbles and Bubbles:
Trading away being with respect to reason with respect to Metaphysical Naturalism’s concrete furniture merely to gain a Bobble in a reduction to absurdity is an option. Why our Non-Theist friends are quick to trade-away, to follow what must be that downward arrow into the illusory vis-à-vis the absurd rather than being quick to trade-into, to follow what must be that upward arrow into the beauty of lucidity is not merely unclear, is not merely the innocence of the agnostic, but it is (initially) inexplicable and (finally) irrational.
The doxastic experience (…the noetic frame, the nature of belief and knowing, and etc…) is not “just” the rational mind but is also impacted by other elements within our state of mind and within our nature. Truth/Reason does not ultimately refuse us but, rather, we ultimately refuse Truth/Reason. That is to simply state the obvious, that we are free to knowingly trade away the necessary transcendentals of logical lucidity (…and for completeness let us add love’s ceaseless reciprocity…) in order to gain a bobble named Reductio ad Absurdum, and, also, we are free to do otherwise.
Atemporal, Temorpal, Eternalism, Presentism
Retorsion, Perception, Evidence, & Proofs of God
Freedom, Illusion, Emergence, & Necessity
Heart vs. Head:
The following excerpt is from The Road From Atheism (.. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/road-from-atheism.html ..) and adds context to the discussion of evidence, reason, and the doxastic experience:
“….I don’t mean the New Atheist types, always on the hunt for some ad hominem nugget that will excuse them from having to take the actual arguments of the other side seriously. (God Himself could come down from on high and put before such people an airtight ontological proof of His existence while parting the Red Sea, and they’d still insist that what really motivated these arguments was a desire to rationalize His moral prejudices. And that their own continued disbelief was just a matter of, you know, following the evidence where it leads.)
No, I’m talking about a certain kind of religious believer, the type who’s always going on about how faith is really a matter of the heart rather than the head, that no one’s ever been argued into religion, etc. It will be said by such a believer that my change of view was too rationalistic, too cerebral, too bloodless, too focused on a theoretical knowledge of the God of the philosophers rather than a personal response to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
But the dichotomy is a false one, and the implied conception of the relationship between faith and reason not only foolish but heterodox. As to the heterodoxy and foolishness of fideism, and the correct understanding of the relationship of faith and reason, I have addressed that set of issues in a previous post. As to the “heart versus head” stuff, it seems to me to rest on an erroneous bifurcation of human nature. Man is a unity, his rationality and animality, intellect and passions, theoretical and moral lives all ultimately oriented toward the same end. That is why even a pagan like Aristotle knew that our happiness lay in “the contemplation and service of God,” whose existence he knew of via philosophical argumentation. That is why Plotinus could know that we “forget the father, God” because of “self-will.” While the pagan may have no access to the supernatural end that only grace makes possible, he is still capable of a natural knowledge of God, and will naturally tend to love what he knows.
As Plotinus’s remark indicates, that does not mean that the will does not have a role to play. But that is true wherever reason leads us to a conclusion we might not like, not merely in matters of religion. And once you have allowed yourself to see the truth that reason leads you to, what reason apprehends is (given the convertibility of the transcendentals) as good and beautiful as it is real. If you find yourself intellectually convinced that there is a divine Uncaused Cause who sustains the world and you in being at every instant, and don’t find this conclusion extremely strange and moving, something that leads you to a kind of reverence, then I daresay you haven’t understood it. Of course, there are those whose heads and hearts are so out of sync that they cannot follow both at the same time. But we shouldn’t mistake this pathology for an insight into human nature.
Speaking for myself, anyway, I can say this much. When I was an undergrad I came across the saying that learning a little philosophy leads you away from God, but learning a lot of philosophy leads you back. As a young man who had learned a little philosophy, I scoffed. But in later years and at least in my own case, I would come to see that it’s true.”
Circularity & Honesty & Cul-De-Sacs:
Why are BOTH the intellectually honest Non-Theist AND the Christian void of circularity? Because in both cases their respective “A” and “Z” actually begin and end all sentences and define (in the end) all syntax as we do not find in either of those two the metaphysical impossibility of ontological cul-de-sacs anywhere.
A cul-de-sac is just what it says:
That is to say that the cul-de-sac in this analogy starts with an in-road heading off of the Main Road (…the Main Road equating to Ultimate Reality in this analogy…) and then starting towards the cul-de-sac, and that in-road then finally arrives “at” the cul-de-sac (…in the analogy we can say that the cul-de-sac is perhaps sentient contingent beings like me and you, or our brains, or neuro-science and so on and so on….) and (then) (we’re told by circular reasoning) it all stays IN the cul-de-sac and keeps moving in a circle and (then) (we’re told) that the content of that circle is independent of and/or ontologically in excess of and/or immune to that initial in-road which gives to the cul-de-sac (feeds into it) all that the cul-de-sac can even in principle have such we can find IN the cul-de-sac this or that Fundamental Nature of X even though there is no such Fundamental Nature of X over OUTSIDE of said cul-de-sac. As such the cul-de-sac referents a [part] of [reality] which speaks “as-if” there is that independence from said In-Road.
Let’s break that down with an example:
Thinking it through….. The concept of a metaphysical cul-de-sac collapses into a metaphysical absurdity and an example of such a cul-de-sac wherein we find such Circularity is the Irreducible I-AM / irreducible i-am vis-à-vis Being Itself / being-itself vis-à-vis i-exist / i-choose / i-reason / i/self and so on. The Fundamental Nature of THAT exists “in-here” within the cul-de-sac but NOT in the Fundamental Nature of Reality Itself “out-there” OUTSIDE of the cul-de-sac.
A bit further….. Therein we find that the (dishonest) Non-Theist claims to have access to Non-Illusory being and to Non-Illusory Irreducibility when it comes to i-am / i-exist / i-reason / i-think. But of course on Metaphysical Naturalism we find the pains of its own Necessary Conservation of [No-I-AM] vis-à-vis [Reality’s Fundamental Nature v. Ultimate Reality] wherein there cannot in fact be, on Non-Theism, that which is in fact “i-am” vis-à-vis “being” in BOTH Ends of the Current or Stream under review, namely BOTH outside of said cul-de-sac AND inside of said cul-de-sac vis-à-vis the Fundamental Nature of W-h-a-t-e-v-e-r.
Still thinking it through…. It is here where we can say that the vicious ontological Circularity of that BOTH/AND just described is NOT employed by the intellectually honest Non-Theists nor by the Christian Metaphysic. Instead it is only Half-Baked Half-Narratives which make that bizarre attempt to Start, Live, and End within such a metaphysically isolated cul-de-sac.
Therefore the term “Circularity” involves the usual “don’t assume the conclusion in the premise” but it ALSO referents All Swirling Currents Inside of All Such Cul-De-Sacs. The claim that in fact Causality-X and/or Nature-X is in fact non-existent as per Non-Being over there OUTSIDE of said cul-de-sac and yet in fact emerged FROM that Non-Being INTO Being INSIDE the cul-de-sac is, in the end, the claim of Being emerging from Non-Being. The first person experience of i-am/self as an actual singularity in being sums to illusion on Non-Theism as per that paradigm’s many “Mad Dogs of Eliminativism” and therein mind itself and reason itself converge within the same pains of circularity:
Non-Theism: The Necessary Conservation of [No-I-AM] vis-à-vis [Reality’s Fundamental Nature].
Theism: The Necessary Conservation of [The-Great-I-AM] vis-à-vis [Reality’s Fundamental Nature].
“…That said, I myself find Hume’s argument wholly unconvincing. The principal difficulty I have is that the claim that we can posit a property in a cause only if the effect necessitates our doing so, is backwards. Whereas we must ascribe to a cause at least those capacities which are required for the realization of the effect, we have no reason whatever to claim that the cause can have only those properties. The response of the interlocutor to Hume’s criticism is simply a restrictive abuse of analogy—surely, insofar as W (the world) resembles W1 (an unfinished building), we are required to posit an M (maker of the world) that corresponds to M1 (the architect of the unfinished building). Locke, on the other hand, seems to have been justified in his central claim that mind cannot come from matter, and therefore, since it exists, it must be an irreducible, and therefore eternal principle of reality. If he had to stretch his empiricism to the breaking point in order to affirm this, so much the worse for his empiricism…..” (..by “Phantaz Sunlyk” from http://www.tektonics.org/guest/pslockhume.htm …)
Mapping Reality By Mapping Being Itself
On occasion the Non-Theist will avoid the question all together and claim that there is a fundamental difference between the concept of “GOD” vis-à-vis the Bible/Scripture (…on the one hand…) and the concepts relating to the source of reality (…on the other hand…). Such a move displays an unawareness of the Christian metaphysic as it relates to what it finds in logically forced steps carrying reason into a thoroughly Trinitarian metaphysic, as per either a. https://metachristianity.com/thoroughly-trinitarian-metaphysic/ or else b. https://metachristianity.com/define-god/
A Thoroughly Trinitarian Metaphysic — an excerpt for mapping, direction, and context:
The topic of mapping reality carries us forward in our inquiry. The map of “Being Itself”, which of course is not the territory, begins to take shape:
[A] is not [B]
[B] is not [C]
[C] is not [A]
Each is Being in totum, each is *GOD*. Both  Logic and  Love’s timeless reciprocity compel reason (…in her proper role as truth-finder….) into a thoroughly Trinitarian metaphysic.
In Closing: The Mindlessness Of The Flat World
- Consciousness, Emergence, Intentionality, Searle, Reason Atop The Irrational, And Naturalism’s Egregious Deficiency at https://metachristianity.com/consciousness-emergence-intentionality-searle-reason-atop-the-irrational/
- Theology and The Analytic A-Posteriori at https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2020/06/theology-and-analytic-posteriori.html
- The Particle Collection That Fancied Itself A Physicist https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-particle-collection-that-fancied.html
- Post Intentional Depression https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/01/post-intentional-depression.html
- Rosenberg VIII http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/03/reading-rosenberg-part-viii.html
- Rosenberg IX http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/04/reading-rosenberg-part-ix.html
- Rosenberg X http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/04/reading-rosenberg-part-x.html
- Eliminativism 1 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/08/eliminativism-without-truth-part-i.html
- Eliminativism 2 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/08/eliminativism-without-truth-part-ii.html
- Eliminativism 3 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/08/eliminativism-without-truth-part-iii.html
- Mad Dogs And Eliminativists http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/08/mad-dogs-and-eliminativists.html
- Churchland 1 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/12/churchland-on-dualism-part-i.html
- Churchland 2 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/12/churchland-on-dualism-part-ii.html
- Churchland 3 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/12/churchland-on-dualism-part-iii.html
- Churchland 4 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/06/churchland-on-dualism-part-iv.html
- Churchland 5 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/09/churchland-on-dualism-part-v.html
- Kripke, Ross, and the Immaterial Aspects of Thought – at https://www.newdualism.org/papers/E.Feser/Feser-acpq_2013.pdf
- Animals Are Conscious. In Other News, The Sky Is Blue – at https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/08/animals-are-conscious-in-other-news-sky.html
- Against Neurobabble – at https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/01/against-neurobabble.html
- Other Minds & Modern Philosophy — https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2020/07/other-minds-and-modern-philosophy.html
- Properly Understanding Properly Basic Beliefs – at https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/properly-understanding-properly-basic-beliefs/