I. HINMAN’S REPLIES TO MY OBJECTIONS TO ABEAN
A. POSTS IN THIS DEBATE THAT DISCUSS ABEAN:
Joe Hinman’s ABEAN Argument for God
My Criticism of Hinman’s ABEAN Argument for God
Joe Hinman’s Responses to My Criticism of His ABEAN Argument
B. MY MAIN OBJECTION: ABEAN IS VERY UNCLEAR
My contention is not merely that ABEAN is a bad or defective argument; rather, it is so unclear that it is unworthy of serious consideration. It cannot be rationally evaluated in its current form, because it is VERY UNCLEAR.
An excerpt from Hinman’s 2nd response to my objections to ABEAN [bold font added]:
The main problem with the ABEAN argument is that it is UNCLEAR. This is the same problem that I encountered repeatedly in my analysis and evaluation of Norman Geisler’s case for God in his book When Skeptics Ask. The problem is not so much that ABEAN uses false premises or invalid inferences. The problem is that nearly every claim in the argument is unclear, making it nearly impossible to rationally evaluate the argument.
what is he calling unclear?: he does not say!!!!
What am I calling unclear? According to Hinman I don’t say what I’m calling unclear.
This complaint by Hinman is FALSE, as one can see by simply reading the very passage that Hinman just quoted:
…nearly every claim in the argument is unclear…
That is what I am calling unclear.
Since I don’t say that EVERY claim in the argument is unclear, Hinman might think that the expression “nearly every claim” is vague. But Hinman knows that I have specified exactly which premises were problematic. Here is another excerpt from Hinman’s 2nd response [bold font added]:
I judged premises (1), (2), (4), (A), (5), (7), (8), (9), (10), and (11) to be VERY UNCLEAR because they each contain at least two different unclear words or phrases, which Hinman failed to adequately define or explain.
He’s going to repeat the numbers, He has nothing to say,he has made no argument
Clearly, I have specified exactly which premises are VERY UNCLEAR. Hinman says that I have “nothing to say” and that I “made no argument”.
Once again, if Hinman had simply read the sentence that he just quoted, he would have known that his reply was FALSE. Here is my argument, spelled out so that even a child can understand it:
1. IF a claim in ABEAN contains at least two different unclear words or phrases, THEN that claim is VERY UNCLEAR.
2. (1), (2), (4), (A), (5), (7), (8), (9), (10), and (11) are claims in the ABEAN argument which contain at least two different unclear words or phrases.
3. (1), (2), (4), (A), (5), (7), (8), (9), (10), and (11) are claims in the ABEAN argument which are VERY UNCLEAR.
This is what we here on planet earth refer to as an “argument”. The sentence that he just quoted refutes his own complaint.
OK. I specified exactly which claims in ABEAN were VERY UNCLEAR, and I specified WHY I believe them to be VERY UNCLEAR, but Hinman still might continue to complain: But what exactly about each of those specific claims makes them unclear?
Hinman, however, knows exactly what about those specific claims makes them unclear, because I listed out the specific words and phrases in those claims that are the main cause of the unclarity of ABEAN. Another excerpt from Hinman’s 2nd response shows he was aware of this list [bold font added]:
Hinman then walks step-by-step through my list of unclear words and phrases from ABEAN. So, Hinman was perfectly well aware of the exact words and phrases that I believe are unclear and that are the basis for my conclusion that his ABEAN argument is VERY UNCLEAR. His definitions are, in general, less clear than the words he attempts to define, and thus they FAIL as definitions.
C. TWO EXAMPLES OF HINMAN’S INTELLECTUAL BLINDNESS
I think it is obvious to most readers of my posts and Hinman’s posts about ABEAN, that this argument is unclear and that many words and phrases in this argument are unclear. But Hinman has some sort of intellectual blindness that prevents him from seeing what is obvious to most of the rest of us, and this blindness comes across loud and clear with his initial comments about two of his unclear terms:
- naturalistic phenomena
The meanings of these words are “obvious” and “self-evident” and “everyone understands” what they mean, according to Hinman.
These are problematic philosophical and theological concepts that REQUIRE clarification and definition. The fact that Hinman cannot understand this obvious point shows that he is not intellectually ready to argue intelligently for the existence of God, or for any other philosophical claim.
First of all, “naturalistic phenomena” presumably has the same meaning as “natural phenomena”. We understand the word “natural” in relation to the contrasting word “supernatural”. These two words represent categories, categories that presumably constitute a dichotomy. Everything is either natural or supernatural.
I suppose there could be composite things that have both natural components and supernatural components. Most Christians, for example, believe that humans are composed of a physical (natural) body and a non-physical (supernatural) soul. But human bodies are completely natural things, and human souls are completely supernatural things, so at the level of the basic components that make up human beings, there are no quasi-natural things, and no quasi-supernatural things.
If one does NOT have a clear understanding of what the word “supernatural” means, then one does NOT have a clear understanding of what “natural” means. But the word “supernatural” is highly problematic, and it should be obvious to anyone with some degree of intellectual sophistication that the meaning of “supernatural” is highly problematic.
We have argued about the meaning of the word “supernatural” on more than one occasion here at The Secular Outpost. In fact, I and others have argued with Mr. Hinman about the meaning of the word “supernatural” here at The Secular Outpost! He has no excuse for thinking that the meaning of the word “supernatural” is clear and unproblematic. Thus, Hinman has no excuse for the idiotic belief that “naturalistic phenomena” is a clear and unproblematic term.
The word “temporal” contrasts, as Hinman himself points out, with the word “eternal”. Once again, if one does NOT have a clear understanding of what “eternal” means, then one does NOT have a clear understanding of what “temporal” means. But the word “eternal” is obviously problematic. First, it is obviously ambiguous between at least two different senses:
X is eternal IF AND ONLY IF X has always existed in the past, and X exists now, and X will always continue to exist in the future.
X is eternal IF AND ONLY IF X exists outside of time.
I suspect that Hinman takes “eternal” to mean something like what it means in DEFINITION 2. But this understanding of “eternal” is inherently problematic. DEFINITION 2 is itself unclear and problematic. What does it mean for something to be “outside of time”? How can we tell whether or not something is “outside of time”? Is this idea logically coherent, or does it contain a logical contradiction?
Furthermore, how can something CHANGE if it exists “outside of time”? If something that exists “outside of time” cannot change, then how can something “outside of time” communicate with people who are “inside of time”? How can something “outside of time” make decisions and take actions that affect people who are “inside of time”? Unless there are clear answers available to such questions, we don’t clearly understand what the word “eternal” (as used by Hinman) means, and thus we don’t understand what the word “temporal” means either.
This is NOT the sort of thing I expect to have to explain to an intellectually sophisticated person. These points should be obvious to anyone who has some degree of intellectual sophistication in matters of theology and philosophy of religion. Hinman’s inability to see and understand these obvious points is astounding to me.
The meanings of these words and phrases are NOT “self-evident” nor are they “obvious” nor are they words that “everyone understands”. Such comments reflect the thinking of a person who is lacking in intellectual sophistication, of a person who is not yet ready to present an intelligent argument for the existence of God.
I am not going to bother addressing all of the various points Hinman raises about my list of unclear words and phrases, nor about my objections to some of the specific claims in ABEAN. My main objection to ABEAN stands firm, and Hinman’s responses to my main objection are pathetic: he doesn’t understand my objection because he is clueless about what it means for a word or phrase to be CLEAR.
ABEAN is a VERY UNCLEAR argument, and that made the argument Dead On Arrival, and unworthy of serious consideration. Those who are intellectually capable of understanding my objections will be persuaded by them and will not find anything of significance and substance in Hinman’s many and various responses to my objections. The ABEAN argument was DOA when Hinman first presented it, and it remains cold and dead, despite Hinman’s long-winded posts attempting to resuscitate it.
II. HINMAN’S REPLIES TO MY OBJECTIONS TO REMEC
A. POSTS IN THIS DEBATE THAT DISCUSS REMEC:
Joe Hinman’s REMEC Argument for God
My Criticism of Hinman’s REMEC Argument for God
Joe Hinman’s Responses to My Criticism of His REMEC Argument
B. MY THREE MAIN OBJECTIONS TO REMEC
Neither God nor existence are mentioned ANYWHERE in REMEC.
The central concept of REMEC (i.e. “religious experience”) is left UNDEFINED and VERY UNCLEAR.
The contents of the key epistemic criteria upon which REMEC is based are left UNSPECIFIED.
C. HINMAN’S REPLIES TO MY OBJECTION #1
Hinman has nothing intelligent to say in reply to my Objection #1.
So, I will simply re-state the objection in a way that even a child could understand.
Hinman’s REMEC Argument:
(1) we trust perceptions that work for us in navigating the world
(2) we judge by criteria Regular, Consistent, Shared (inter-subjective)
(3) RE fits this criteria
(4 ) enables “navigation” (the point of the criteria)
(5) :. we are warranted to trust RE as indicative
The conclusion of this argument is claim (5):
- There is NO MENTION OF GOD in claim (5).
Claims (1) through (4) are the premises of the REMEC argument:
- There is NO MENTION OF GOD in claim (1).
- There is NO MENTION OF GOD in claim (2).
- There is NO MENTION OF GOD in claim (3).
- There is NO MENTION OF GOD in claim (4).
Now I will draw an inference that even a child could understand and follow:
There is NO MENTION OF GOD ANYWHERE in the REMEC argument.
The REMEC argument is about “religious experience”; it is NOT an argument about God, and therefore it is NOT an argument about the existence of God.
If Hinman had provided an actual definition of “religious experience”, he could have defined it as an “experience that seems to the experiencer to be of the presence or activity of God.” (I believe William Alston has a definition along those lines). In that way, he could have linked the concept of “religious experience” directly to the concept of “God”. I would have objected to such a definition, but it would have at least created a logical connection between claim (5) and the issue of the existence of God. But Hinman failed to provide a legitimate definition of “religious experience”, so no such conceptual connection was established.
D. HINMAN’S REPLIES TO MY OBJECTION #2
No, first of all I said religious experience (RE) is the umbrella term.
Saying that “religious experience” is an “umbrella term” fails to clarify the meaning of this phrase. Hinman considers “mystical experience” to be one kind of “religious experience” and that there are other kinds of “religious experience”. I am aware of that, and my objection showed that I was aware of that. But that does almost nothing to define the term “religious experience”.
Secondly, the charge that I’m being unclear is empirically disproved because there is a huge body of academic work from which I researched to write my book.
This is completely irrelevant. Even if we grant the assumption that “there is a huge body of academic work” that is considered in Hinman’s book, this has no relevance to the clarity or lack of clarity in his blog post where he presents the REMEC argument. Hinman’s book might be filled with dozens of crystal clear arguments and definitions, but that doesn’t show that his blog post is clear, and it certainly does not in any way show that he clearly defined the key concept in REMEC (which is “religious experience”) in his blog posts in this debate.
Bowen refers to the problem of other kinds of experiences being called RE, yes that is why I called RE an “umbrella term” but ME (mystical experience)is very specific and clear. It’s clear in it’s definition we know exactly what is produced and how to determine a valid mystical experience.
Hinman then quotes various definitions and explanations of the term “mystical experience”. This is, once again, irrelevant to my objection, which is that the phrase “religious experience” is the key concept in the REMEC argument, and that Hinman failed to clearly define what this phrase means. The conclusion of the REMEC argument is this:
(5) :. we are warranted to trust RE as indicative
There is no mention of “mystical experience” in the conclusion of REMEC. The conclusion is NOT about “mystical experience”; it is about “RE” which is an abbreviation for “religious experience”. Therefore, this argument is about “religious experience”, but Hinman failed to provide a clear definition of this key concept. Hinman literally does not know what he is talking about.
Hinman’s replies above to my objection are all irrelevant to the objection. Saying that “religious experience” is an “umbrella term” fails to provide any significant information about what this phrase means. The alleged massive academic content and merits of Hinman’s book are completely irrelevant to the question of whether his blog post on REMEC is clear, and is certainly irrelevant to whether or not his blog post provided a clear definition of the key phrase “religious experience”. Finally, even if we grant the claim that Hinman clearly defined “mystical experience” in his blog post, the REMEC argument is NOT about “mystical experience”; it is about “religious experience”, and providing a clear definition of “mystical experience” is obviously NOT the same as providing a clear definition of “religious experience”.
Hinman has completely failed to provide a relevant reply to my Objection #2.
E. HINMAN’S REPLY TO MY OBJECTION #3:
The criteria is what we use to determine the reliability of our experiences and perceptions, Thomas Reid suggests that criteria, true he does not use the phrases “regular,” “constant.” and “shared,” but the process he describes is best summarize in that way,he gives three examples:
(1)A solider on the battlefield notices all those stuck with bayonets tend to die so he does not ask bunch of Cartesian questions about reality while waiting to be stabbed he get’s out of the way;
(2) A man making love to a woman does not stop in the middle to quiz her about the reality of her existence,
(3) Common people living their lives going about their tasks don’t refrain from putting bread on the table until they they sort out the epistemology,even Descartes waited for retirement.
Examples are often helpful in explaining or clarifying a general principle, but it is very sad that Hinman takes the giving of these three examples to be sufficient to specify the content of his three key epistemic principles. This illustrates the unclarity and confusion that buzzes around inside of Hinman’s head.
Providing one example of a principle doesn’t even come close to specifying the actual contents of the principle. The fact that Hinman confuses the giving of an example with the clear statement of an epistemic principle is, by itself, sufficient to firmly establish the correctness of my Objection #3. Given that the above UNCLEAR CRAP is what we get when Hinman has a second opportunity to clearly state his key epistemic principles, I strongly suspect that Hinman is not intellectually sophisticated enough to provide a clear statement of any epistemic principle.
Hinman’s pathetic second attempt at specifying the content of his key epistemic criteria shows that the answer to the question “Where’s the beef?” is: There ain’t any beef here! Underneath all the bullshit that Hinman spews in the REMEC argument is just more bullshit, more confusion, more unclarity.
All three of my main objections to REMEC stand firm, and each one is sufficient by itself to justify my view that REMEC was Dead On Arrival, and that REMEC is not merely a defective argument, but is an argument that is not worthy of serious consideration.
This is my last and final post on the ABEAN and REMEC arguments (Thank you Jesus!).
This article is archived.