Two Heartbeats

I have been delaying this post for quite some time as I have wanted desperately to be as charitable, knowledgeable and thoughtful with regard to abortion as one can possibly be. To describe it as a hotbed issue is a severe understatement. On one hand, its opponents portray the action as a literal genocide of the innocents while its proponents portray it as defense of bodily integrity (perhaps the single most obvious moral value). There can be no doubt as to why such an issue would bring great division, anger and even violence. So what do I intend to accomplish with this piece, aside from solving the debate for everyone so we can all just get along? Well, I want to try and shed some light on how proponents and opponents, especially those at the forefront of the debate, cast the issues unnecessarily in binary, black and white terms, most of which are irrelevant to the ultimate question with regard to abortion. First,

let's load the deck for the Pro-Life position... For the sake of this discussion, we will assume that life begins at conception. We will assume both that the Biblical passages and the scientific/philosophical arguments for life beginning at conception succeed, and that the Biblical passages and scientific/passages against life beginning at conception fail.For the sake of this discussion, we will assume that "personhood" also begins at conception. We will assume both that the Biblical passages and the scientific/philosophical arguments for personhood beginning at conception succeed, and that the Biblical passages and scientific/passages against personhood beginning at conception fail. For the sake of this discussion, we will assume that all people know these truths (whether they admit it or not). We will assume that anyone having or performing an abortion knows they are killing a person. Thus, for the sake of this discussion, we will assume that abortion is intrinsically immoral. Unless it is counterbalanced by stronger moral…

An argument proposed by atheist philosopher Sobel. He outlines this argument as follows. P1. This is not the best possible world.P2. That the world is not the best possible world is incompatible with a perfect being.C. There does not exist a perfect being. I would like to focus on Premise 2 of this argument because it is also an important part of standard formulations of the Problem of Evil. Is a Perfect World a Coherent Concept? Let's start with a thought experiment. Imagine there is a perfect baker who can create any cake that is good and no cake that is bad. He has been tasked with creating cakes to commemorate several different events in a single day. The first event is a wedding, the second is a birthday, the third is a graduation and the fourth is a funeral. If there were a single, perfect cake, then the baker could create a single cake that would perfectly satisfy all

attendees. But is this conceivable? Isn't part of what makes a cake valuable to the celebrants the uniqueness of the cake, the cake being specific and personalized. Does the existence of a cake that is not perfect for their occasion but perfect for another mean that the baker is imperfect (he did, after all, create an imperfect cake with respect to the preferences of 3/4 parties)? It seems to me that the perfect baker would create cakes that are appropriate for each occasion. But we can take this even further... Is the Perfection of which Sobel Speaks an Objective or Subjective Perfection? Imagine again the perfect baker. Today he is tasked with merely creating a single cake for a wedding. Is it reasonable to think that the perfect baker can create a cake that satisfies to perfection the appetites of all of the attendees? It seems that this request is reasonable iff the preferences of all attendees is compatible. I…

Is the reference class of possible universes too restricted?

Before reading my response, readers should address their attention first to Aron Lucas's work Naturalism, Fine Tuning and Flies. While a brief summary follows, it is always worth consulting the original work in order to make sure that it is fairly represented by the critic (in this case me). Possible Universes The crux of Aron Lucas's argument is a very straightforward objection: The Fine Tuning argument posits a narrow class of possible universes, restricted to only those consistent with our laws of physics. The set of possible universes on naturalism includes those with different laws of physics, not just different constants and quantities. This set is inscrutable and, thus, on naturalism, the probability of life permitting universes itself is inscrutable. I think one important question here what we mean by "alternate laws of physics". We can think of this in a number of ways: Alternate functions representing existing lawsRemoval of existing laws altogetherCompletely new lawsCompletely new fundamental substances Possible Objections There

seem to be three rebutting objections to this response to the argument from fine tuning, which I will list here and then elaborate on each. Two can play at this gameWe are warranted in ignoring these possible universes (those governed by different laws)These possible universes are not, in fact, inscrutable (or at least to the degree at which it is meaningful) Two Can Play at this Game One of the key goals of Aron Lucas's objection is to extend the possible universes in a way that makes it impossible to infer the likelihood of life permitting universes among those possible universes. By opening up the floodgates of an infinite number of possible universes with wholly different laws, within which life permitting universes may be plenteous (or not). Well, can the proponent of the FTA make a similar move that multiplies his or her probabilistic case? I think so. Aron Lucas refers to the current state of possible universes in…

One of the smartest, most genuine people I have met gave up his faith many years ago (before we met), and it has led to many profitable and interesting conversations. Recently, in our discussions, I pointed out to him Alexander Pruss's 2009 version of the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument which I find to be particularly convincing. His response was humorous but pressing... Holy shit, I gotta read that whole tiny print document just to maybe accept a First Cause that is still light years from necessarily being your Christian God? Not to discredit him in any way, but I have run into this line of reasoning before and find it terribly frustrating. The reason I find it frustrating is that we have these arguments for the existence of God that... If they are true, it doesn't matter whether it is difficult or not. It is true, and...The development and defense of these arguments are predicated on the degree of skepticism raised

by non-believers. I will focus on (2) for the remainder of this post. Let's take a somewhat controversial subject in American society, evolution. It is important to realize that the question here is not what you believe about it, but the role of the skeptic dialectic into coming to knowledge about a particular subject matter. Please put your position on evolution aside for the moment, and focus on this issue of skeptical dialectic. A crude outline of the dialectic process behind about learning evolutionary theory in America. Our first introduction in the United States to evolution is likely somewhere in elementary school where our teacher subtly introduces the concept of our relationship to "lesser" animals. However, some children may at this point already have been taught something of this matter by their parents when reading books on dinosaurs, for example. The real introduction to the theory happens in middle school, where Darwin and his theory of natural selection acting on…

If our physical features are the product of natural selection, then they are honed to be adaptive, but not necessarily "true". Can we trust our cognitive faculties on Naturalism and Evolution?

If our physical features are the product of natural selection, then they are honed to be adaptive, but not necessarily "true". Can we trust our cognitive faculties on Naturalism and Evolution?

The Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism is a novel argument which presents the case that because our mental faculties are developed for adaptive capacity and not for truth making, a person who holds to both naturalism and evolution should doubt the reliability of their mental faculties in terms of truth-making. This would produce a universal undercutter of one's beliefs. One of the most common responses to this argument is that it seems likely that at least some of our cognitive faculties are tuned to true belief insofar as forming true beliefs about extreme selective pressures would be valuable. Thus, we would expect as a behavior can be described as highly adaptive, it is more likely to based on strong cognitive faculties related to that behavior. While there might not be much in the way of adaptive benefit in able to figure out the truth of a calculus formula, it would be adaptive to know that fire hurts when applied to the skin,

and that those types of cognitive faculties are reliable in producing such beliefs. But where does this get us? It seems at best, this response would allow the naturalist to feel confident about the truth of a certain set of beliefs that conform to high selective pressures (like avoiding fire). However, the EAAN doesn't need to provide a universal undercutter to succeed in its primary goal, which is to cast doubt on naturalism. Thus, I propose the following response to the naturalist who responds to the EAAN above... If our cognitive faculties are reliable, why do more people form the belief that naturalism is true?If there is a scale of general reliability regarding cognitive faculties related to selective pressures, it seems naturalism would fall on the far end of non-essential cognitive faculties. If this is the case, we still have an undercutter for belief in naturalism.If the naturalist claims that there are other factors which influence belief, like the…

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