“Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind,” rhetorically asked Charles Darwin, “if there are any convictions in such a mind?” (Darwin 1881) In Darwin’s July 3rd 1881 letter to William Graham, we encounter a problem of epistemological uncertainty of our cognitive faculties. Darwin believed that Graham had accurately portrayed his conviction that “the Universe [was] not the result of chance.” He further explained,
“But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy”(ibid.).
Darwin’s unpleasant doubt is the incarnation of the Cartesian malignant Demon. In evolutionary biology, Rene Descartes’ malignant demon took on flesh and dwelt among us. This malignant demon is an “exceedingly potent and deceitful” being that “has employed all his artifice to deceive” us to believe that we are experiencing an external world while in actual reality we are experiencing “nothing better than the illusions of dreams” (Descartes 1901, 224). Deceitfulness and falseness came through malignant Demon. Continue reading
Jane: John, are you familiar with Carl R. Kordig’s deontic argument for God’s existence?
John: No. I am not. Would you be kind to explain it to me?
Jane: Kordig argued that a deontically perfect being ought to exist. If deontically perfect being ought to exist, then such being can exist. A deontically perfect being cannot be a contingent being. Therefore, a deontically perfect being must exist.
John: What justification does Kordig offer to believe that a deontically perfect being ought to exist?
Jane: He believes that even though an individual may hold that God does not exist, that individual should grant that most perfect being ought to exist.
John: Well! I am not persuaded by that. Argumenti causa, say I grant that, how can a person possibly defend the idea that God, a deontically perfect being, cannot be a contingent being?
Jane: Kordig would argue that the idea of contingent God is metaphysically impossible. It is like the idea of a square that is also a circle at the same time and same sense. It is simply a logical contradiction.
John: How is contingent God a logical contradiction? Continue reading
Is it immoral to deliberately end the life of a fetus? This is a philosophical question that tackles the ethics of abortion. This philosophical question demands philosophical answer(s). Before I attempt to answer this question, another basic question that is behind this question must also be answered; what exactly makes it immoral to kill one of us on most occasions? From such explorations I presented three philosophical arguments explaining why I believe abortion, on most occasions, is immoral.
This short essay presented three brief explanations on what makes killing one of us wrong. Those explanations, I will argue, are equally applicable to the killing of fetuses. In this essay I assumed that my readers agree that killing of a suicidal teenager or a revisable comatose patient is wrong. Thus, though a suicidal teenager may currently have no strong desire to live, or a revisable comatose patient may at a certain period be totally unconscious of both her inner self and her outside surroundings, it is immoral to deliberately and unjustifiably end their lives.
An adequate explanation for what exactly makes it immoral to kill one of us, thus, must cover the killing of those who currently have no strong desire to live and also those who are temporary unconscious. The following three explanations cover such cases. Continue reading
Jane: What is red?
John: It is a concept.
Jane: What are concepts?
John: They are the constituents of complete thoughts.
Jane: If concepts are constituents of complete thoughts, where do they exist?
John: They exist in our minds, of cause.
Jane: Are there eternal concepts?
John: What do you mean by eternal concepts?
Jane: I mean concepts that are independent of our minds for their existence.
John: Do you mean concepts that are true even if there was no contingent rational being?
Jane: Yes, John. Example could you say that 2 = 2 or the law of non-contradiction is an eternal concept?
John: Yes, I believe so.
Jane: So, if there are eternal concepts, would you agree that there is at least one eternal mind?
Jane: If there exist eternal concepts, and concepts are the constituents of complete thoughts, are we not rational to believe that there is transcendental mind?
John: I am persuaded to think it is rational, Jane.
Jane: Well John, monotheists would call this transcendental or eternal mind, “God”.
Those in doubt about any of Jane’s assumptions (e.g. conceptual realism & Platonism) may take her main conclusion conditionally. Is Jane’s argument for existence of God as an eternal mind persuasive? It depends on whether or not you share her assumptions. For those who do not, it is not a persuasive case. Why present such a dialogue then if it persuades only those who share Jane’s assumptions. My aim is not so much to persuade all, mostly atheists, to reconsider their position on the existence of transcendental mind. I do not believe in transcendental mind because of such arguments. My aim is to show that belief in God, a transcendental mind, can be rationally justified. Monotheists can (and do) have rational reasons to believe in such a being.
Does a being that is God1 exist? Before we can disagree on whether or not a being that is God exists, we need to agree on what a being that is God is. There cannot be any disagreement unless there is an agreement on what is that is disputed.
What is a being that is God? A being that is God is a being that there could not be other than that which nothing greater nor equal could be conceived2. Such a being, if exists, must exhibit maximal perfection. Therefore, a being that is God, borrowing Alvin Plantinga’s insightful words, is a being “having an unsurpassable degree of greatness—that is, having a degree of greatness such that it’s not possible that there exist a being having more.” (Plantinga 2002: 102 emp. removed).
My first premise in my attempt to answer the dispute of whether or not a being that is God exists, is thus:
(1) If a being-that-is-God exists then that being-that-is-God could not be other than that which nothing greater (or equal) could be conceived.
Anselm of Canterbury (1033—1109) argued that, if there was such a being then it is absurd to hold that such a being exists in our thoughts alone but not also in reality. According to Anselm, both atheists and theists can agree with (1) (Anselm 2009). Atheists would argue that such a being exists in our minds alone. Theists, however, would argue that such a being exists both in our minds and in reality. Continue reading
I believe you have a mind of your own. I believe a bottle of water can only spinning in one direction at any give time. I believe a bottle of water cannot be full and empty at the same time. I believe that an unsupported bottle of water falls. These beliefs I hold implicitly without cognitive reflection. These beliefs spontaneously develop without special cultural indoctrination. They are maturational natural1 beliefs. Are universal religious2 ideas also maturational natural beliefs?
Preponderance of scientific evidence emerging from cognitive science of religion suggests our answer to this question is yes. Beliefs about the nature and existence of God(s), dualism, afterlife, moral realism &c., are not explicitly cultural indoctrinated ideas. They are intuitive innate implicit beliefs (Bering 2006). Jesse Bering, representing many cognitive scientists, argued that “belief is a ‘cognitive default’ and that, all else being equal, in any given cultural context religious beliefs are driven into expression by a universal, evolved, core set of psychological intuitions present in all normal human brains”(Bering 2010: 167)
Our cognitive faculties have naturally evolved to hold particular mental predispositions. We enter our first day of life with a natural implanted universal cognitive, motivation and perceptual biases. These biases predispose us to foster native instinctive and implicit beliefs of supernatural3. These biases, thus, aid us to effortlessly hold supernatural beliefs. Continue reading