Tag Archives: Scientism

What is self-refutation and what are some examples of self-refutation?

Why, self-refutation is the most wonderful thing in the world, next to irony.

Look at this post from Thinking Matters New Zealand.

First, they define what self-refutation is:

In his Introduction to Logic, Harry Gensler defines a self-refuting statement as “[A] statement that makes negative claims so sweeping that it ends up denying itself.” [1] In other words, it results when an argument or position is undercut by its own criteria  (An example of this would be saying, “I cannot speak a word of English” in English).

Then they have a list of examples of self-refutation. Here are some:

  1. Truth does not exist (Is that a true statement?)
  2. Nothing is absolute (Is that absolutely true?)
  3. I do not exist (You must exist to deny that you exist)
  4. Science is the only way to know (Can you scientifically prove that?)
  5. Only what can be perceived by the five senses exists (Can you prove that by the five senses?)

Go here to read the rest.

I work in the software engineering industry, so we have a lot of nerds running around who believe all kinds of crazy things that are self-refuting. There is a lot of skepticism of the laws of logic and analytical philosophy. A self-refuting statement that I hear a lot is: “Don’t judge me, because it’s wrong to judge other people”. And I just ask them: “Well if it’s wrong to judge other people, then why are you judging me?”. (Actually, I noticed that MandM has a post up about judging right now!)

I wonder if my regular readers have ever heard any self-refuting statements? If you know any more, leave it in the comments.

On another topic, it turns out that the author of this post on self-refutation blogs at Rational Thoughts. I added their blog to the blog roll. Check them out.

MUST-READ: J.P. Moreland’s argument for theism from consciousness

Here’s a post from Thinking Matters New Zealand.

Excerpt:

Last year, the release of J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig’s Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology saw a lot of attention. And quite rightly. The Companion marshalled some of most cutting-edge work in the field of the philosophy of religion and showed why natural theology is fast becoming an exciting scholarly domain again. But in the shadow of the Companion’s release, another of Moreland’s works was published: The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism. Although it might not have got the same amount of attention, The Recalcitrant Imago Dei also represented an important entry in the contest of ideas and a powerful defense of theism. In it, Moreland argues for the theistic position by way of a stinging attack on naturalism and its failure to answer the problem of consciousness and account for the basic facts of human experience, such as free will, rationality, and intrinsic value.

And here’s the formal argument:

1. Genuinely non-physical mental states exist.

2. There is an explanation for the existence of mental states.

3. Personal explanation is different from natural scientific explanation.

4. The explanation for the existence of mental states is either a personal or natural scientific explanation.

5. The explanation is not a natural scientific one.

Therefore

6. The explanation is a personal one.

7. If the explanation is personal, then it is theistic.

Therefore

8. The explanation [for the existence of mental states] is theistic.

That’s the argument. Each of the premises needs to be more likely than not for the argument to go through. And you can read about how each premise is supported in this helpful post from Bill Vallicella at Prosblogion. This is good little argument to ad to your quiver of scientific arguments. I think this argument and moral argument are two nice little philosophical arguments that show that theism is the necessary starting point for morality and rationality. Particles in motion will not do the job.

I actually learned about this argument by reading chapter 3 of “Scaling the Secular City”, and listening to J.P. Moreland lectures. If you want to learn about this argument in a lecture, try this one. This is one of my favorite lectures. It was delivered at the University of Georgia. That’s the one I use when I’m training this argument, along with his lecture on “The Invisible Man” for Stand to Reason’s Masters Series, which is also good. Moreland also does public debates.

I notice that the new book mentioned above is quite expensive, and you’d be better off buying “Body and Soul” and “Philosophical Foundations for a  Christian Worldview”. SPCK is an academic press and so their books are very expensive, compared to IVP.