Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Philosophical Bullshit questions

So you're having an on-line discussion with some religious people, Christian
or otherwise, and they his you with one or more of the following questions (the below questions were copied from one of many sources of identical Christian arguments):

1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
2. How do you know that you exist (without being circular)?
3. Where does human self-consciousness come from?
4. How do you know that your senses are reliable (without being circular)?
5. What is truth?
6. What is the cause of everything?

These are what we, in the world of debate, refer to as "Bullshit Questions". They are designed to distract from the subject being argued, and make you ponder imponderable questions, so that you get lost in endless and pointless philosophical discussion.

Let's take these questions, and look at each of them, and give them answers that will make the person asking the questions think twice.

(1) Why is there something rather than nothing?
If the person seems to think that they're an expert on philosophy and logic, you may want to explain to them that putting the word "IS" with reference to something PRESUMES something's existence, and nothing is merely a null concept. Just tell them that obviously, something exists, and there is no point in debating why. For all we know, something has always been around, and we may never know why.

(2) How do you know that you exist (without being circular)?
When asked this question, simply tell them what Renee Descartes said -- "I think, therefore, I am." If that doesn't work, simply turn it around and ask them "How do you know that I exist, without being circular?" In fact, you might want to point out that this is just a Bullshit question, and ask them how they can possibly know anything at all without using their senses, logic, and reason. The answer, of course is that they can't. Nobody can explain how they know anything without referencing their senses; our senses are how we gain all of our knowledge. It's just an impossible task, like asking someone to prove that bigfoot doesn't exist.

(3) Where does human self-consciousness come from?
Obviously, the answer to this is that human consciousness comes from the brain and nervous system of a human being -- next! Human Consciousness is the result of our brains working with our sensory organs. Self-awareness is more of a biological function than anything. All the great apes and some other animals have self-consciousness, though arguably, in a less complex form than ours.

(4) How do you know that your senses are reliable (without being circular)?
This is the biggest bullshit question in the group. Essentially, you need to tell them that it is impossible to prove one way or the other if your senses are reliable, without being circular, since it requires you to use your senses to even start any kind of test or investigation. You then need to ask them how they can prove that their senses are reliable without making reference to their senses. They may want to say "because The bible says... Jesus said..." or whatever. In any case, if they reference the Bible, or theology, they've failed, because they would have had to use their senses to read, hear, or otherwise have the bible passage pointed out.

Nobody can accomplish the task -- just get over it. I actually talked to one guy, who used this argument, claim that he gets his knowledge from direct revelations from God. He "knows" that this is the way, "because God made it perfectly clear to him it was real." If true, it would mean that God literally has to personally reveal knowledge to everyone, rather than let us discover things using the senses and intelligence that we were given. Of course, there is no way for anyone to question such a claim, because how can we talk to God and ask if that's what he told the guy?

(5) What is truth?
Truth is (according to www.dictionary.com):
1. the true or actual state of a matter.
2. conformity with fact or reality; verity
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle.
4. the state or character of being true.
5. actuality or actual existence.
6. an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.

(6) What is the cause of everything?
This is yet another imponderable. Tell them that your answer is no better than theirs, because nobody has the answer -- all there are for this question, are hypotheticals and guesses. Freely copy and paste my answers whenever you see the questions posed in an atheist-Christian debate. The people using these arguments aren't even aware half the time, that Renee Descartes came up with them about four hundred years ago, and that after examining them, he rejected them. The arguments are just total bullshit, and you will not get anywhere if you pay any attention to them beyond telling the person you're talking to that they are bullshit. These questions are perhaps the biggest waste of time you will ever spend.

1 comment:

GamingAsshole said...

That's a pretty good list. I'll use it in the future.