The God Question

Column by Jim Davies.

Exclusive to STR

Why does it matter, to market anarchists, whether or not God exists? Surely all would be able, in a free society, to believe whatever they wish about religion?

That was the thrust of Paul Bonneau's recent article here, and he added that it's counterproductive for the libertarian spokesman to ridicule the religious. His point is well taken. In the comments appended to what he wrote, some felt that ridicule doesn't hurt much, but I tend to agree that it probably does--if it's directed at the person holding the belief being scorned. That might well offend him, and stop him listening to us further. In any case, it's bad manners.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure it hurts to ridicule a ridiculous belief itself--indeed, it's sometimes hard not to. I see quite a difference between saying "Jones is an idiot, he believes in God" and "Here's why a belief in God is idiotic, and I hope Jones will stay clear of it." The first brands Jones as a fool in himself, perhaps permanently unable to remedy his condition, while the second offers him help to avoid a pitfall, or to climb out of one.

But still, why does it matter?

It matters because the prime task of those wishing to bring a free society about is to move our statist neighbors away from their belief in the need for, and efficacy of, government; to show (as Larken Rose has, in his remarkable book The Most Dangerous Superstition) that the belief that government rightly exercises authority over us is a complete myth, and even that government itself is a complete myth, that the State doesn't actually exist. This can only happen when our statist friend begins to think straight; to rid his mind of pre-judgments, of non-rational premises. To grow up, intellectually. Then of course, having understood the real nature of human beings and of government, to resolve never to work for the latter; only then will it disappear.

So first and foremost, we have the task of changing our friend's mode of thought; to move him from faith to reason. Until that's done, any apparent "conversion" to a rational view of the world--to an acceptance of the self-ownership axiom and so of market anarchism--is likely to be shallow. It's unlikely that he will be able or willing to bring along any of his friends with him, and of course, if that one-to-one teaching process ("going viral") doesn't happen, we won't see any free society in our lifetimes, and given that WMDs exist and are proliferating, that may well mean, not ever.

Now, can a properly thorough makeover of the mind encompass rejection of the government myth, yet retention of the god myth? For the two are very similar. Both involve believing a proposition that is plainly not true when examined dispassionately. In the first case, the irrational belief is that someone else can order one's life better than one can order it oneself (or as I noticed somewhere recently, "A politician is someone able to spend your money better than you can"), which is obvious nonsense on its face. In the second case, the irrational belief is that there exists an undefined and undefinable entity that nobody can see, hear, touch, smell or taste, and yet who created everything that exists and who is closely interested in the conduct of each of seven billion individual humans; a proposition that has m-y-t-h written all over it in huge letters.

Further, we mustn't forget Old Nick, the furnace operator with horns, green skin and a long tail. He was invented to "solve" the problem that evil exists in a world created by one allegedly both benevolent and omnipotent. But wasn't Nick created, also? So he doesn't really solve the problem at all? Yes he was, say the mythcrafters, as a very senior angel; but in a moment of pride, he exercised free will and fell to Hell. So is free will reluctantly included in their world view, and neatly associated with evil. Still, Lucifer's big tumble solves nothing anyway, because if God created free will, responsibility can be left on mere humans who exercise it, and where it belongs; no copout is available, such as "the Devil made me do it."

That free-will thingie has incidentally given a lot of trouble to Calvinist theologians, who are no strangers to reason. They concluded that there really isn't much, and that some people are predestined to damnation. That repugnant result springs directly from their false premise--so let's be careful, always to check our premises.

In a more rational world view, evil is what may happen when humans acquire power over other humans. See more here.

Both myths, about government and god, are totally absurd; if a person comes to his senses fully enough to abandon the first, why would he not also abandon the second? And if he does retain it, why should not his statist friend, whom he is trying to turn into a clear-thinking person, accuse him of gross inconsistency and say, for example, "if you keep your religious fairy tale, I'll keep my government fairy tale"? That would be a response extremely hard to gainsay.

That's why it matters.

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Jim Davies's picture
Columns on STR: 243

Jim Davies is a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of an on-line school of liberty in 2006, and who wrote A Vision of Liberty" , "Transition to Liberty" and, in 2010, "Denial of Liberty" and "To FREEDOM from Fascism, America!" He started The Zero Government Blog in the same year.
In 2012 Jim launched http://TinyURL.com/QuitGov , to help lead government workers to an honest life.
In 2013 he wrote his fifth book, a concise and rational introduction to the Christian religion called "Which Church (if any)?" and in 2016, an unraveling of the great paradox of "income tax law" with "How Government Silenced Irwin Schiff."

Comments

Tony Pivetta's picture

Great point on the quasi-religious devotion surrounding Darwin's theory of evolution, Sam. Fred Reed has a hilarious take on it in his essay "The Metaphysics of Evolution":

"My favorite example, which does not reach the level of plausibility, is such artifacts as the tail of a peacock, which obviously make the bird easier to see and eat. So help me, I have several times seen the assertion that females figure that any male who can survive such a horrendous disadvantage must really be tough, and therefore good mating material. The tail increases fitness by decreasing fitness. A Boy Named Sue."

Evolution is a dogma in the Church of Darwin. Its disciples have no shame shoehorning sensory-sensual space-time data into their preconceived notions.

Samarami's picture

Leave it to Fred to see through the intellectual bamboozlement. Fred and I both cut our eye teeth on sorghum cane stocks -- many, many years ago.

Gary North made an astute observation on what I've come to call "intellectual blackmail" in his essay, Why Economists Love the Federal Reserve:

    I am not saying that the banking system is the only cartel that has Kings-X protection from the economists. One other does: university education.

    These two exceptions can be explained in terms of the fundamental economic category of individual self-interest. It is not in the self-interest of salaried economists teaching inside the educational cartel to apply the economics of cartels to their employers. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you."

    Every Ph.D.-holding academic has paid a high price for his degree: years of forfeited income, the struggle to master obvious intellectual piffle, tuition fees, textbook fees, and groveling for years to their professors to one degree or another and for one degree or another. Like apprentices in some medieval urban guild, they seek above-market income through entry into a cartel. Once in, they do not want the guild to lose its ability to enforce barriers to entry. To lose this power would be to face free market competition. They have worked too hard for too long to accept this outcome.

    Academics are, in the language of mainstream economics, rent-seekers.

As I said earlier, the arguments over abject intellectualism vs ridiculous religiosity provides an excellent tactic to divide and conquer anarchists and insulate the masses from the anarchist message of freedom -- and the exposure of the illegitimacy of state agents.

Keep 'em fighting over "existence vs non-existence" and similar detritus and we won't have to worry about their distracting** our voters from doing their civic duty.

Sam

** Well, Suverans2, for some reason I can't get Jim's link to embed. Here it is:

http://www.strike-the-root.com/82/davies/davies8.html

eugenedw's picture

And thank you Samarami, for illustrating my point a second time: if we are going to insist that anarchism has to be atheistic, then we are going to alienate who knows how many potential supporters.

Personally I couldn't possible care less what other people believe. Without a state to ram their beliefs down my throat, I am safe from their beliefs, and they are safe from mine. That way we can all live in peace.

Samarami's picture

And thank you, eugenedw, for your astuteness. Beliefs cannot hurt you, or me, or Jim Davies. We all have them, as a matter of fact. Beliefs are what make up each of our unique, individual personalities.

Some beliefs might be vestiges from youth that, as I've come to see liberty and libertarianism (I dislike using "ism", but there it is) and anarchy, I've abandoned or modified to certain degrees. But if there is a hallmark in our ideology it has to be openness to each other and prospective "Strikers of the Roots" to believe what they believe in freedom -- without being ridiculed by others of us. What's it to me what you believe as long as you don't commit aggression upon me as a part of your "practice".

On the other hand, if you want to be rude and unkind and ridicule beliefs I'll support your "right" (whatever that's supposed to mean) to be so.

Come back, White Indian.

Sam

AtlasAikido's picture

These complex problems regarding so called preferable behavior have a simple, premised and practical solution. I would suggest "com[ing] back" to this post and progressing and brainstorming that...I refer to DennisLeeWilson's, post on April 02, 2012

"Jim,

I understand the "shock" of "being wrong". I thought *I* was wrong once, but luckily I quickly realized that I was in error to think such....

>>"But still, why does it matter?"

>>"It matters because the prime task of those wishing to bring a free society about is to move our statist neighbors away from their belief in the need for, and efficacy of, government;..."

It DOES NOT matter to me because MY prime task is BEING FREE. [ http://tinyurl.com/Individual-Sovereignty ] I don't need a "free society" in order to be free. What you are describing is at best, a SECONDARY task for me. I would NEVER reverse the priority of the tasks. MY secondary tasks can never be sacrificed to MY primary task. It is actually not even a secondary task to me, nor a "huge" task. It is an UNnecessary task. See below.

>>"This can only happen when our statist friend begins to think straight; ..."

>>"It is of paramount importance that people _begin to think straight_. Otherwise, they will never, en masse, ditch their absurd, superstitious belief in government."

But THIS (understanding that government is a myth) is ALREADY happening! And it is happening without statists (not MY friend) changing their thinking "en masse". It is happening partly because of other things that YOU have written.

>>"We have to change their _mode of thought._"

Arrrgghhh. The "WE" thing again. NO! WE do NOT have to change their mode of thought. "Billions of humans making trillions of decisions could never be harnessed or thoroughly theorized by even the most brilliant voluntaryist thinkers or free market economists." Chris Dates [ http://tinyurl.com/There-is-NO-WE ]

And, as I point out below, it doesn't matter to me what a man thinks or how straight or convoluted his thinking, as long as he respects MY right to exist as per the five Precepts by which I deal with other humans. I have NO desire whatsoever to meddle with the way most other people think. It is like wrestling with pigs. You ALWAYS get dirty and it only annoys the pig. I spent many hours as a youth attempting just what you recommend--and learning about "pigs".

To paraphrase your own statement in Help Wanted, It is futile and a thankless waste of my time "...to try to impose ["MY version of what *I* consider to be rationality"] on people who do not want it and who made their preference lethally clear.". I look for those INDIVIDUALS ONLY who have already indicated by word and especially be deed that they are thinking and acting in a manner I can admire and possibly help or support with what I have learned.

Minimum requirements for living peacefully amongst other people do not require a person to be "fully rational". Education levels vary enormously as do levels of rationality! The basic or minimum requirement is understanding and adhering to the Non Aggression Principle (NAP), a very simple MORAL/ethical concept that is even readily apparent to children.

*But sometimes moral statements are not sufficiently explicit or not easily applied to particular situations. Because of varying education levels, understanding the full consequences of moral statements and/or applying them consistently can become problematic. Enter from stage right: The Covenant of Unanimous Consent. [ http://tinyurl.com/Index-to-Covenant-Articles ]

*The Covenant of Unanimous Consent is a Political statement [ http://tinyurl.com/Political-Statement ] explicitly derived from the Non Aggression Principle, which is a Moral statement. A characteristic of political statements--and a reason why they exist--is that they are more explicit and do not depend as heavily on education level as do moral statements and they are less subject to "interpretations".

*Education is a wider, more encompassing thing than is religion (i.e. religion is a subset of a person's education). And education continues throughout an individual's life and is a primary cause of behavior changes during that lifespan.

*Free State/county/town movements are examples of people with varying levels of education--and varying religious views--agreeing to conduct their interpersonal relationships by the simple principle of live and let live. Personally, I am disappointed that NONE of the "popular" movements has adopted some EXPLICIT political pledge such as the Covenant provides. The closest thing to a pledge of personal conduct has been the Shire Society which needlessly plagiarized the Covenant and then REMOVED what I consider the most important part for a Free State/county/town movement, the Supersedure section!

You, me, Paul Bonneau, Darkcrusade and many (most?) of the contributors to this site--without resolving ANY of our differences--COULD conceivably agree to the entire Covenant and live in close proximity to each other in a "Supersedure Zone" and even trade with each other, without engaging in physical conflict. This is possible because the contents of the Covenant are the COMMON ROOT of everything that each of us considers to be important with regard to interpersonal relationships.

AND, as I pointed out in my article [ http://tinyurl.com/Objectivism-to-Agorism ], people who--for whatever reason--refuse to sign the Covenant, could still live amongst us and trade with us, knowing full well what to expect should THEY (the non-signatories or "dissenters") violate our Covenant's Precepts in their dealings with us.

Dennis Lee Wilson
Signatory: The Covenant of Unanimous Consent.

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Samarami's picture

This thread has turned out to be a classic stirring of libertarians into proposing solutions (they ain't none, friends, IMHO) to "the religious conundrum". If I were in charge of entering a bottom line, I'd word it like this:

    Presuming there be an all Powerful and all Authoritative Referee in the sky poised to execute a ball toss, I'll tip the ball to Paul Boneau: "...So . . . criticizing religion connects people? If I had a nickel for every time I heard or saw libertarians taking a whack at religion, I’d be a rich man. Hell, some, like Molyneux, spend half their time doing it..."

    Paul saw the storm a'brewin' and wrote what I consider to be an excellent essay to quell it. I agree totally with his theme on this issue.

    Then along comes Jim Davies with this essay, written with his intuitive, jocular, persuasive style that I've respected for many years. I'll tip my hat to him, but not the ball. I don't agree with Jim's premise that there is a need to quash or denigrate what we in our arrogance might consider "superstition" -- but he once again displays that perception that stirs the troops into stopping and thinking about just what liberty is. I'll never back away from considering Mr. Davies to be one of my prime mentors on the web just because we disagree on this one little nuance.

As Dennis Wilson wrote and Atlas linked:

    As long as "libertarians" allow themselves to get sidetracked into false issues such as religion, abortion debates, marriage definitions, "illegal" immigrants, Islamic terrorist "threats" and now the North American "Union", they will be successfully diverted from the one, single political issue that has a ghost of a chance of making a difference, The Liberty Amendment

I'm not a proponent of political action, but if I thought (against my better judgement) that an unadulterated "Liberty" amendment had the chance of a hayseed in hell of being enacted by agents of state I might utter a rather weak "amen" -- but I would never register with the white man or vote in hopes of bringing it about.

Atlas linked this morning to Dennis Wilson's column which reproduced Chris Date's recent essay, "There Is No 'We'" (originally posted in ZEROGOV, a site I think originated with our friend, Jim Davies):

    The fear of criminals is still rooted in collectivist thought. The fear of the other guy, makes us turn to the other guy. How many criminals are really out there? I’d say about 1% of the human population are actually psychopaths, and capable of real horror. Does this mean we should create an incubator for more psychopaths known as the state? We make more criminals out of our fear of criminals.

This ties to today's STR quote by the late Harry Browne (paraphrased): "Agents of state know how to do one thing well: cut off your legs, hand you a crutch, then glow about how thankful you should be to "our troops" for letting you walk again"

All I know is this: I want those warmongering bastards hoist with their own petards before they have the opportunity to force my grandsons and great grandsons take the bullet like I was enslaved to take the bullet 60 years ago. Of course now they're also lusting after the girls to train to be murderers: let "our" girls not only get blown to bits, but gang-raped to boot.

So whatever it takes to enlighten the masses to Abstain From Beans, count me in.

Sam

AtlasAikido's picture

Hi Sam,

As Dennis Wilson points out: "something better [than the Liberty Amendment] is needed...something that has a COMMON ROOT of everything that each of us considers to be important with regard to *interpersonal relationships*".

And that was the *Second Part* of the post I provided prior to Sam's post. Quoting Dennis Wilson in a response to Jim Davies: "I look for those INDIVIDUALS ONLY who have already indicated by word and especially be deed that they are thinking and acting in a manner I can admire and possibly help or support with what I have learned.

Minimum requirements for living peacefully amongst other people do not require a person to be "fully rational". Education levels vary enormously as do levels of rationality! The basic or minimum requirement is understanding and adhering to the Non Aggression Principle (NAP), a very simple MORAL/ethical concept that is even readily apparent to children.

*But sometimes moral statements are not sufficiently explicit or not easily applied to particular situations. Because of varying education levels, understanding the full consequences of moral statements and/or applying them consistently can become problematic. Enter from stage right: The Covenant of Unanimous Consent. [ http://tinyurl.com/Index-to-Covenant-Articles ]

*The Covenant of Unanimous Consent is a Political statement [ http://tinyurl.com/Political-Statement ] explicitly derived from the Non Aggression Principle, which is a Moral statement. A characteristic of political statements--and a reason why they exist--is that they are more explicit and do not depend as heavily on education level as do moral statements and they are less subject to "interpretations".

*Education is a wider, more encompassing thing than is religion (i.e. religion is a subset of a person's education). And education continues throughout an individual's life and is a primary cause of behavior changes during that lifespan.

*Free State/county/town movements are examples of people with varying levels of education--and varying religious views--agreeing to conduct their interpersonal relationships by the simple principle of live and let live. Personally, I am disappointed that NONE of the "popular" movements has adopted some EXPLICIT political pledge such as the Covenant provides. The closest thing to a pledge of personal conduct has been the Shire Society which needlessly plagiarized the Covenant and then REMOVED what I consider the most important part for a Free State/county/town movement, the Supersedure section!

You, me, Paul Bonneau, Darkcrusade and many (most?) of the contributors to this site--without resolving ANY of our differences--COULD conceivably agree to the entire Covenant and live in close proximity to each other in a "Supersedure Zone" and even trade with each other, without engaging in physical conflict. This is possible because the contents of the Covenant are the COMMON ROOT of everything that each of us considers to be important with regard to interpersonal relationships.

AND, as I pointed out in my article [ http://tinyurl.com/Objectivism-to-Agorism ], people who--for whatever reason--refuse to sign the Covenant, could still live amongst us and trade with us, knowing full well what to expect should THEY (the non-signatories or "dissenters") violate our Covenant's Precepts in their dealings with us".'

Darkcrusade's picture

''If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.''

LOL,Thank you for pointing out the Triune God of the bible is the wellspring of all that is.
It is neat how the Scriptures anticipates (and smashes)the attempts of 'higher critics.'

A God small enough for your mind,would not be big enough for your need.

The Father,The Son,The Holy Spirit,are complete in and of themself,and are preexistence outside of and before creation.
Each absolute loving and honoring of the other.

Do a little research on the nature of The Triune Godhead,if you are true to yourself ,you will be surprised.
(this could be the most importent subject for the saved individual. Christ did not sacrifice to make bad men, good.He died to give dead men life.)

AtlasAikido's picture

Per Darkcrusader: "a God small enough for your[--anyone's--]mind, []would not be big enough for your[--anyone's]need [to research and counsel others]....."

This is self-refuting.

So "do a little research"?

On Darkcrusade's own terms "research" is ALL things being caused by Darkcrusade's god--including the refutation of the need for his god's own existence provided in this thread. That is doing "little research" indeed!

Thanks for PROVING again that no combination of logic or facts is effective against a deeply-held belief." --Chris Martenson

But again as I posted before, this issue of a "need" for a god or not or a person's education and rationality is a non-issue as long as he respects the non-initiation of force principle.

I would rather continue to focus on the following since it is more relevant, productive and profitable to me and those around me. If Darkcrusade and his god issues are at odds with this then why?

Minimum requirements for living peacefully amongst other people do not require a person to be "fully rational". Education levels vary enormously as do levels of rationality! The basic or minimum requirement is understanding and adhering to the Non Aggression Principle (NAP), a very simple MORAL/ethical concept that is even readily apparent to children.

But sometimes moral statements are not sufficiently explicit or not easily applied to particular situations. Because of varying education levels, understanding the full consequences of moral statements and/or applying them consistently can become problematic. Enter from stage right: The Covenant of Unanimous Consent. [ http://tinyurl.com/Index-to-Covenant-Articles ]

Best Regards
AtlasAikido

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Hello, Jim, and thank you for writing this piece. My favorite sentence was the following:
 
"In the first case, the irrational belief is that someone else can order one's life better than one can order it oneself (or as I noticed somewhere recently, "A politician is someone able to spend your money better than you can"), which is obvious nonsense on its face. "
 
Because I lack the ability to have faith, I am an agnostic. I am not one who denies the possibility of diety, however. It is important to note that most people who call themselves Christian and most people who call themselves atheists have all kinds of false notions about god and theology. I have never yet met a single atheist who has taken a graduate-level class in theology—likewise for Christians, which is even worse. But then again, most people assume that they know something about ethics, too, but this is false as well. Furthermore, most of the straw-man arguments that people like Stephan Molyneux use to "destroy" Christian theology (he’s otherwise an excellent worker for liberty) are just that, straw men and myths. Even your statement (above) that Lucifer fell because he used free will is incorrect. It was the sin of pride that did him in, and my future Dante essay (it's being reviewed now) will clear this notion up. But to give you a peek, the sin of pride is the one that politicians and all wanna-be rulers are guilty of. They lift themselves above their "station" as peers and fellow humans and catapult themselves into an overseer position--judging and ordering people about as if they were their masters. Perhaps this is why Dante considered pride the worst of the seven deadly sins. And we can all agree that the sin of pride is the source of politics and slavery. Pride--as understood by Dante and Aquinas and Catholic theology--is not the good feeling that follows upon performing skillfully or completing a task with excellence. That is satisfaction in a job well done and should not be confused with pride.
 
It is true that the study of diety by Greek interpreters of Judaism and Christianity—and others who were influenced by the philosophy of Plato and of Aristotle—have pasted lots of adjectives such as omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent to the concept of god, but none of these attributes is either necessary or warranted. They are the result of the perceived problems of perception and attempts to explain the idea of “change” and “stability,” which the pre-Socratic philosophers focused upon. These Greek philosophers, however, never focused on existence itself and its importance. That’s why their philosophical perceptions were so inadequate to address or grapple with the famous self-declaration of god in the Hebrew writings, namely in Exodus 3:14, where God defines himself by declaring “I am that I am.” That is a purely existential statement--an assertion that there is a kind of being whose existence is necessary. Another translation of "I am who am" or "I am that I am" would be the following: I am that which must exist. I am what is. I am existence itself. I am what must exist. In all of these, existence is the prime reality.
 
But we rarely hear of this existential aspect of Christianity and Judaism in discussions about god and atheism. Why? Because the “bar” of discussion is very low indeed. You have people who never studied theology actually arguing about it, which is why it is so disappointing and absurd. Even most Christians cannot discuss god in a way that is not designed to satisfy the herd, who wants adjectives attached to its golden calf. There are many Christian theologians who concur with me on this--from Augustine to Aquinas—but even they, too, muddy the waters in much of their writing. Nonetheless, it is possible to view Christianity in this existential light. That viewpoint also does away with the "how dare god condemn those who lived before Christ for not knowing Christ" argument. Why? Because it admits that god is NOT omnipotent or any of those other things that the Greeks imposed upon diety without so much as a “by your leave.” Perhaps this diety tried to rectify a great cosmic catastrophe in the only way possible for it--by subjecting itself to death to "get around" (or fulfill)  a blood contract or some similar universal law that demanded the punishment (equation-balancing) of an early existential transgression committed by mankind. And by paying this blood price on behalf of humankind, this diety can only redeem those who become aware of it afterward, not being capable of reversing the flow of space-time itself. It's not a perfect solution for all of our needs for wanting to believe in an all-powerful Oz, but it's a good best attempt by a diety that tries to pay a price out of an overwhelming sense of empathy and love. So you might say that my theory about this Christian god is a scandal because it makes him a bit of an under-archiever in comparison with that Greek straw man that possesses the three Os of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. But  it helps to keep the focus on existence and thus provide one answer to that eternal question: What was there before space-time existed? Nothing. In this perspective, an ex nihilo creation makes sense. And why is the universe here at all? That's an important question—one that atheists cannot address in the sense of causality—even though they use the concept all of the time anyway. Of course, we can accept Aristotle's theory that the universe is eternal, but the quest for causality is buried in all of us like hard-wiring. No?
 
Anyway, if you are interested in this heretical variant used to define god, I took an idea and twisted it away from a very Catholic source, Professor Etienne Gilson of the University of Toronto's Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies in his book, "The Spirit of Medieval Phiolosophy." That word "mediaeval" is very important. Most philosophers--including Stefan Molyneux are woefully ill-prepared because they jump from Aristotle directly to Descartes. They, without fail, leave out the very important discoveries of the medieval Christian philosophers, who were the first, among other things, to disabuse the world of Plato's (and Aristotle's watered-down version) extreme idealist/realism fallacy--the source of the reification fallacy. The medieveal nominalists such as Roscellinus were the ones who rescued us by acknowledging concepts as mere puffs of air (flatus vocis). Fellows like Molyneux falsely claim that there is a vast gulf between Plato’s super-realism and a fictitious Aristotelian view that properly recognizes concepts as a human construct. Aristotle actually believed that the “universals” or “idea” was indwelling in an object and fused with the matter of that object. But these details are overlooked by the over-generalizers like Molyneux and his many co-atheists. Medieval philosophy is very complex and nuanced and difficult to understand, and that's why most who study classical philosophy and modern philosophy are never aware of their mistakes. They also know nothing of the difficult medieval Latin that is required for its study. So they don’t even have the rudiments of the language needed to study it. Surprise! Modern writers refer constantly to Occam’s Razor, but they have never read Occam. Such philosophers also do not understand the "history of philosophy" which is as important as the "history of science" as opposed to simply studying either "philosophy" or "science." The road to knowledge is littered with people who thought that they had arrived at the final truth for all time. But only the student of the history of philosophy and the history of science will acknowledge this.
 
I write this to you, Jim, because you are probably the most insightful writer on this page in addition to the wonderful Glen Allport--although I love Tzo, too, and many of the other fine writers here. There's a whole fascinating world of theology and heretical theology that beckon!
 
Best, as always,
Lawrence

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

PS: I have to re-read my George Smith now!