a bonobo humanity?

‘Rise above yourself and grasp the world’ Archimedes – attribution

how to debate William Lane Craig, or not – part 6, intentional states

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mind of god, exclusive pic

mind of god, exclusive pic

Dr Craig’s next argument is that his god is the best explanation of intentional states of consciousness in the world. This is a weird one, and I can only assume that he’s put his best forces in the vanguard in the hope of blowing the opposition out of the water, and that these rather piddling forces in the rear weren’t really meant to be exposed to the light of reason, and were just added to give a scarey sense of bulk or weight to the Doctor’s position. Never mind the quality, feel the width, as they say.

Dr Craig starts by ‘informing’ us that ‘philosophers are puzzled’ by states of intentionality. He doesn’t tell us which philosophers, but the clear intimation is that all philosophers are puzzled in this way – and by the way, this is a very typical piece of deceptiveness from Dr Craig, and your sceptical antennae should be stretched to their outermost limits by offhand remarks such as these. Dr Craig’s presentation here is very thin, but he’s trying, I think to convince you that philosophers are baffled by the non-materiality of intentionality or consciousness generally, and this is a massive misrepresentation of a complex area in the philosophy of mind. It’s true that there’s a lot of interesting debate, and has been for some decades, on the explanation of consciousness in material terms, but there are virtually no philosophers who consider that intentional states are without material cause. That’s to say, that you could have an intentional state without a brain – or something like it, such as a super-computer of some sort. Dr Craig makes the absurd claim that he can think about things, or of things, but a physical object cannot. But I see Dr Craig as a physical object, albeit one with intentions and consciousness. Dr Craig seems to want to make a distinction between objects and conscious subjects, but he doesn’t make this explicit in his rather clumsy argument. I have no difficulty with this distinction, seeing him, as I see myself, and my cat, as both object and conscious subject. In other words I see consciousness as necessarily embodied. Now, what the term ’embodied’ means is really too complex to be gone into here, but I would strongly argue that, while philosophers debate the connection between consciousness and embodiment, and are perhaps especially interested in what embodiment entails, I don’t know of any who are interested in considering consciousness as entirely non-material.

Dr Craig claims that Dr Rosenberg, an atheist, takes the view that ‘there really are no intentional states’, and that ‘we never really think about anything’. I’m not familiar with Dr Rosenberg’s views, but to say that I suspect they’ve been vastly over-simplified and misrepresented by Dr Craig’s characterization of them would be too weak a statement by far. Furthermore Craig claims that Rosenberg’s views, whatever they are, represent atheism. This is nonsense. Philosophers hold vastly different views on the so-called ‘hard problem’ of consciousness, including the view that there is no hard problem. The vast majority of philosophers who debate these issues are, in fact, atheists.

Dr Craig ends this fifth point with another formal argument, which, for the readers’ convenience, I’ll put here.

1. If God did not exist, intentional states of consciousness would not exist.

2. But intentional states of consciousness do exist.

3 Therefore God exists.

However, this argument is so paltry and pathetic that it isn’t worth commenting on further, except perhaps to say that it doesn’t deserve to be called an argument.

Written by stewart henderson

March 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm

2 Responses

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  1. great rebutal of tghe argument to just say it’s paltry amnd pathetic


    November 5, 2013 at 10:16 am

    • Thanks for your comment George. My remark that Craig’s argument is paltry and pathetic came after my rebuttal, which you’ve chosen not to address. So what exactly is the point of your comment?
      The idea that a particular supernatural being, with a particular personal history supposedly recorded by the many dozens of writers and editors of the Old Testament, is the best argument for the intentional states of, not only humans, but of all the other creatures with sufficiently complex neurophysiological systems, is ludicrous, and an obvious ‘god of the gaps’ argument.
      Craig is able to present these absurd arguments with his head held high because he isn’t a philosopher, he’s simply a fanatic. He’s completely lacking in skepticism and will never concede anything to his adversaries. All of these debates are pretty well worthless, all Craig has to do is walk though his stuff with the same fixed grin to appear to his ‘fans’ to win. It’s about being a show pony and never making a stumble as you walk through, it’s not about argument. Meanwhile the ‘nones’ are rising all over the western world.


      November 6, 2013 at 9:09 am

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