"CertainVerdict has admitted that he holds to axioms that are beyond proof
because they are prior to proof (the exact quote is: "Again, they are
axiomatic, and thus prior to proof")."
Indeed. The axioms ('existence', 'identity' and 'consciousness') are
implicit in everything we call knowledge (even if we are mistaken about the
truth value of what we call knowledge). The axioms identify the facts which
we perceive. We *perceive* (consciousness) *things* (identity) which *exist*
(existence). Existence, identity and consciousness (the means by which we
perceive) are implicit in our very act of being aware, and Objectivism
simply identifies these concepts explicitly. There is no ruse or fallacy
here. To claim such is to accept a stolen concept.
The axioms are required for any proof. Proof is "the process of establishing
truth by reducing a proposition to axioms, i.e., ultimately, to sensory
evidence" (L. Peikoff). Thus, one needs the axioms in order to construct
formal proofs. It is difficult to see how one can object to this if he
accepts the fact that knowledge is hierarchical in structure, which most
people accept even if only on an implicit basis. And since the axioms lie at
the base of our knowledge (they identify the starting point of rational
certainty), they cannot be the product of a proof (they simply identify what
is perceptually self-evident).
Question for Peter (since he titled this thread):
How does the Bible define 'proof'?
"I have a reason to hold to the axioms I do."
Can you identify what those axioms are? What do they name? I.e., to what do
they refer? Can you identify the means by which you have awareness of what
they name? Do your axioms refer to something which *exists*? (Seems that you
would affirm one of my axioms then.) Does that to which your axioms refer
have identity? (Seems that you would affirm another of my axioms then.) Is
the means by which you are aware of that which your axioms name a form of
consciousness? (Seems that you would affirm all of my axioms then.)
"I have a reason to hold to logic."
I would hope so. But, for purposes of our exchange, the crucial question is:
Do you as a Christian have a *biblical* basis for holding to logic? If so,
please develop your thought here. First tell us how the Bible defines
'logic' and show where the Bible teaches us about logic without
interpolating from ideas borrowed from extra-biblical sources. Does the
Bible explain how one should construct formal proofs? Oh, what, it doesn't
do this? Don't you think it would be better to teach men how they can use
logic rather than tell them what they are to believe on pain of eternal
punishment? Seems to me that such beliefs as the Bible teaches (e.g., the
belief that a burning bush spoke to a primitive warrior named Moses in Ex.
3) offer little if anything to enable men to live their lives and conduct
trade with each other in the here and now. Indeed, my life is an astounding
success, and I do not believe the things in the Bible.
So, Peter, what do you mean when you use the term 'logic' and, if you do not
take your definition for this idea from the pages of the Bible, where do you
get it? Can you for once identify the source of your definitions? So far,
you have not. So far, it seems that your ideas are second-hand philosophy,
which is typical among the Christian apologists whom I've encountered: they
want to hijack ideas and terminology from modern thinkers and recruit them
into the service of their primitive beliefs as if that is where they belong.
"Atheism does not."
Atheism is not a worldview. This has already been elucidated. Atheism is
merely a negation of god-belief. It says nothing more than this. It does not
identify a worldview all its own. Most theists are unwilling to break out of
the habit of relying on this tiresome straw man. Peter, I think you're quite
intelligent and would hope that you would grow beyond this. For me, atheism
is not a primary (in other words, I do not base my philosophical views on
the "assumption that god does not exist" as many theists have characterized
it), "but a consequence of my allegiance to atheism" (Anton Thorn). In other
words, since I take reason to be my epistemological absolute (just as I take
the fact that existence exists independent of consciousness to be my
metaphysical absolute), my atheism follows as a natural course. Many people
do not like this, and many people seek to mischaracterize it in some manner
or another in order to feel superior. It's a feeling which they chase, and
nothing more. It's over before they ever even achieve it.
"CertainVerdict (and other atheists) keeps trying to put the "onus of proof"
on me for asserting something positive about God"
If you claim that a god exists and you want others to accept it as
knowledge, then you should not resent this. Indeed, if you truly believe
this (and you have not yet established that you truly do, Peter; we've not
even gotten to this yet), then you should be quite enthusiastic I think to
share this "knowledge" with non-believers ungrudgingly. But this is not the
attitude which I perceive among most apologists. I would hope that this
would be different in your case, because again I do think you are
intelligent, albeit intellectually hasty.
"--well, the onus of proof is on them for everything they have asserted
about reality too, and this includes the axioms that are asserted."
Agreed, within some qualifying context (since the axioms are not subject to
proof, but they can be validated). There is much written on the nature of
the axioms. You might want to examine Ron Merrill's essay "Axioms: The
Eight-Fold Way" which is located on the web:
It's some food for thought.
"CertainVerdict also says that his position is not that we know all of
Now Peter, I ask that you be honest. I did not say that my "position is not
that we know all of reality."
Here's where I think you got this:
In the "Definition of Catholic & a look at morality" thread, Peter had at
one point written:
"But even if we suppose that all of reality can be determined by our senses
and that we, as humans, can actually understand all of reality...."
In response to this, I had simply asked:
<< "understand ALL of reality"? Who is making this claim? >>
Here please note that I did not weigh in one way or another on this
position. I was simply asking for some clarification as to who was making
this claim in the first place. You never did answer this question that I
Peter's statement continued thus:
"...(a point I am only granting to you now for speculation, not because you
have earned it)..."
To which I gave the following response:
<< Speculate all you like. You speculate that I have not earned this, but
indeed, I have not claimed that I "understand ALL of reality." I freely
admit that I am neither omniscient nor infallible. (But I am certain. And
this is probably what you do not like.) >>
Can it be that Peter has twisted my corrections into an affirmation of a
position which I have not stated one way or another? I would ask that Peter
be more careful when he attributes statements and positions to his
adversaries. By failing to be careful, he can only confuse himself. I know
what my position is on these things. But I think Peter has read more into my
words than is warranted here.
"In that case, his axioms fail."
Even if my position were "we do not know all of reality," this conclusion
would not logically follow. Peter assumes too much, apparently as a course
of habit. Reality is the realm of existence. Indeed, existence exists. That
is my first axiom: the fact of existence is inescapable, undeniable and
irreducible. How does it "fail"? Peter does not say, he merely claims *that*
it fails, but says little else.
Is Peter conscious? If so, of what is he conscious? Of nothing? I doubt
that. If Peter is conscious, then he must be consciouss *of something*
(which exists). If Peter is conscious of something (and he must be if he is
capable of participating in this exchange, since this exchange requires that
one engage his intellect, and there is no intellect without consciousness),
then even Peter must assume (albeit implicitly!) the very axioms which I
identify explicitly. There is no way around this, for Peter, or for anyone
Again, those axioms are: existence, identity and consciousness. These are
the primary axioms which I have in mind. Peter nowhere shows how they fail,
but it is clear that he perceives them to be a threat to his god-beliefs,
for it is my confidence in them which he wants to attack in order to defend
his god-beliefs. But this only underscores the fact that his god-beliefs
rest on the fallacy of the stolen concept: he must assume the axioms in
question himself in order to deny them. This is an invalid approach to any
course of "reasoning," and if this is what he means when he speaks of logic,
then it is clear that he is quite confused on these matters.
"Unless all of reality conforms to those axioms,"
Reality does not "conform to those axioms." Again, reality does not conform
to a form of consciousness. Given frequent gaffs like this one, I cannot
rule out the possibility that Peter's mind is so inebriated with the
reliance on stolen concepts that he cannot distinguish the valid use of
concepts from an invalid use of concepts.
The axioms *identify* that which we perceive, and thus conform to that which
exists. The very fact that we perceive objects (do you deny that you
perceive objects, Peter?) points to the axioms. They are validated by means
of perception. Again, Peter himself would have to accept the validity of the
axioms even to deny them or question them or dispute them or ignore them,
etc. They are inescapable. But mystics of any stripe will always perceive
them to be a threat, because an unflinching recognition of the axioms as the
base of knowledge of reality (which Objectivism makes possible), does not
allow the theist to have his cake, and eat it too, as he so strongly
desires. The axioms, if honored consistently by a process of objectivity, do
not allow men to mistake superstitions for knowledge. This is why mystics
will continue to kick against them, even though they themselves must accept
them implicitly. All stolen concepts, all invalid. And nowhere has Peter
addressed this fundamental point.
"then the axioms are not valid because there could always be someplace where
reality existed apart from those axioms"
Peter, can you describe a reality in which the axioms do not apply? Can you
describe a reality in which existence does not exist? Can you describe a
reality in which that which exists is not itself? Can you describe a reality
in which one can be conscious of something, but that the concept
'consciousness' is invalid?
If Peter's desire that the axioms be invalid can be established, then at a
bare minimum he cannot evade these questions. Again, I think he is in over
his head on these matters.
"--therefore, his position must be that he understands all of reality if his
axioms are true."
You have not established this conclusion, even with your twists and turns
and mischaracterizations. Take it back into the workshop and retool your
thinking. Try answering some of the questions above, and, to the best of
your ability, be a little more honest. You should not feel so threatened by
Objectivism unless you are actually trying to deny reality and pull the wool
over other people's eyes. Objectivism is strictly about identifying reality
on its own terms and defining a code of living proper to man's identity.
That's pretty hard to do when you don't like yourself.
"If he does not, then the posibility of reality apart from the rules of his
axioms exists and is valid to argue for."
Peter, you would have to argue on behalf of this "reality apart from the
rules of [the] axioms" in order for this possibility to be taken seriously.
Whether I know everything in reality or nothing at all, is irrelevant to the
truth value of this assumed possibility. Indeed, look at the massive stolen
concept you commit here: You used the expression "reality... exists..."
You're assuming the axioms in question!!! Amazing! Do you not think about
these things before you proceed to rail against them? Just more stolen
concepts! All invalid.
"The bottom line is that it is impossible to debate CertainVerdict because
he has defined his axioms as being beyond proof."
That is not why you are having difficulty debating with me, Peter, and I
think you know it. You're having difficulty debating with me because I will
not allow you to get away with your stolen concepts. You've encountered
someone who sees through the ruse of your mysticism, and I will not let you
get away with any stolen concept which I detect. Indeed, I find that you
rely so habitually on stolen concepts that I think it's possible that some
instances of it probably escape even my detection. But I am aware of enough
of them, and this is really what bothers you.
In numerous posts now, I have caught you in numerous instances of the stolen
concept fallacy, and I've pointed them out for the Theism vs. Atheism web,
and not one of them have you been able to resuscitate or recover. Instead,
you simply throw new ones out. But I'm still here, I still see them, and I
will still point them out so that others will see.
You do not want the axioms to be valid because they expose the falsehood of
your god-belief like no other cipher. They are like a razor which slashes
off all your invalid ideas and restores the order of reason in their place.
This frustrates you to no end, because in the end, it is your own salvation
doubt which creates anxiety in your mind, like a form of spiritual vertigo,
paralyzing your thought save for those motions which you take to salvage
your god-belief and scramble to keep your irrational fears in check. I know,
Peter. I've been there myself. I know what this is like. How do you think
I'm able to corner you at every move, and anticipate every next move open to
“Fine, in that case, I define God as being beyond proof and everyone can
just go home and not bother responding.”
Peter, if this is what you want to do, that is your choice. No one will stop
“If you claim my position is illogical and irrational, then so is
Well, you have not established the relationship of equals which you’d like
pass off here. For one, I have identified my starting points. They are the
axioms ‘existence’, ‘identity’ and ‘consciousness’. Second, I’ve identified
the means by which I am aware of them: by means of perceptual awareness.
Third, I’ve demonstrated in numerous circumstances how one must assume the
validity of these axioms in order to deny or ignore them. Fourth, I’ve
pointed out in numerous instances how the failure to remain consistent with
the axioms results in mind-negating fallacies. Fifth, I’ve outlined in brief
(and have connected my readers by means of links to essays explaining) how
the axioms are fundamental to a rationally integrated philosophy which is
suitable for man’s existence on earth. Sixth, I’ve shown how all forms of
god-belief are at their fundamental root a contradiction of the axioms which
one must accept in order to even claim that his god-belief has validity.
Etc. At no point has Peter been able to bring forward an objection which
endures scrutiny on these matters.
Is my position illogical and irrational simply because I claim that Peter’s
god-beliefs and associated argumentative schemes are invalid? Not at all.
Has Peter identified my reliance on fallacy in order to claim certainty for
my views? He has not done this, and I say he cannot, since my view is built
on premises which he himself must take for granted in his construction of
arguments to this effect.
“I, however, have a reason to hold to my axioms.”
What precisely are your axioms, and how are they validated? You have
identified neither. Nor have you explained how your axioms are different
from mine. Do you deny the fact that existence exists? Do you deny the
concept of identity (A is A)? Do you deny your faculty of awareness, your
consciousness? If you don’t, then what are your axioms in relation to mine?
And how does your god-belief figure in?
None of these details have been supplied by Peter. But if Peter wants me or
anyone else following our threads to accept his claim that his god exists,
he will be expected to meet these burdens at minimum, or concede debate.
“But as that would be presenting a positive case on my part, I'm not going
to. Why? Because there is no reason that you can get away with simply not
providing a positive argument while claiming my argument is wrong and then
deny that I can do the same thing to your argument.”
Really? How so?
“So I'm just going to disprove your theory and not put anything forward.
Nice of me?....Nice of you. (This is not directed at CertainVerdict, as he
actually has presented a positive case.)”
Where have you disproved my “theory”? Indeed, where have you attacked my
views without committing yourself to more stolen concepts? At every pass
where you’ve attempted to take issue with my views, I’ve exposed your own
reliance on stolen concepts. How can your view be valid if you rely on any
fallacy, formal or informal?
You say parenthetically "This is not directed at CertainVerdict..." so if my
questions are not relevant, then please focus on others which I have asked
above, and which I will ask below.
“Let's get to the point though. CertainVerdict: if you believe logic is
valid, then you are engaged in circular reasoning, for you assume your
axioms are valid, and those axioms include logic.”
My view cannot be guilty of the charge of circular reasoning if that view
does not rest on the attempt to prove the validity of the axioms. Again, you
must not drop context here. Circularity is a kind of fallacy. But where
exactly have I committed this fallacy? Simply claiming that I have committed
this fallacy is not sufficient to accept this as the case, particularly when
in each case all your attempts to take my view’s fundamentals to task commit
the fallacy of the stolen concept. I think others are starting to recognize
this. Even you must assume that the axioms are valid. That’s the whole
point, Peter! You have to accept the concepts ‘existence’, ‘identity’ and
‘consciousness’ even in your attempt to construct counter-arguments to my
position, thus confirming the validity of the foundations of my position to
begin with. Surely, I appreciate this for it is a gratuity which you give
me, albeit unintentionally. But do you not see it???
“Hence, if you assert logic, you deny logic at the same time for you believe
in a contradiction.”
What contradiction? Where did this come from? I hold that existence exists.
How is this “fallacious”? What does it “contradict”? I think the only
contradiction in question is that which arises from your god-beliefs: You
want to say that existence exists because a form of consciousness made it
so. But yet this consciousness itself must exist (thus assuming my starting
point) and this consciousness must be consciousness of something (thus
assuming the primacy of existence principle, which is the Objectivist
position). Otherwise, your words are meaningless, and to the extent that
they have meaning, they are stolen concepts. This is invalid.
“Circular reasoning is valid (since logic is circular reasoned), but at the
same time circular reasoning is invalid because it can prove
It sounds like you don’t know whether you are coming or going here. You
apparently want to argue both sides of a contradiction. In all my logic
texts (and I have quite a few), circular reasoning is characterized as a
species of informal fallacy, and therefore as a point of invalidity. Here
you want to say it is both valid and then invalid. Peter, this is so dubious
that it does not even warrant a response, so consider my statements here
“Therefore, it is both valid and invalid at the same time, making it a
contradiction, which refutes logic.”
This is not my position, and nowhere have you linked it to anything I have
stated. So at most it is irrelevant. I think it’s best you deal with the
issues at hand. So far, I don’t think you’ve even touched them.
“You say that axioms are beyond proof.”
I elucidated why above (scroll back towards the top).
“In that case, they are beyond logic and you cannot use logic to formulate
And if you’ve been reading, I do not use logic to *prove* them. But this
does not mean that the axioms cannot be *validated* as validation is a
process which is broader than proof. To do this, I simply point to what the
axioms name: objects exists (existence); objects are themselves (identity);
and I am aware of them (consciousness). As I said above, they are validated
by means of perception. This is not a proof in the formal sense. As stated
above, they are required for any proof. Remember: Knowledge is hierarchical
“In other words, your axioms cannot be based on logic--logic must be based
And I said precisely this. That’s why they’re axioms!
“Your entire belief system rests outside of logic.”
My entire system rests on what the axioms identify, namely existence and
consciousness of existence. Without either, there can be no logic. In other
words, they rest on reality. Logic is simply a process of non-contradictory
identification. Logic is not a starting point. If it were, it would have no
reference to reality, and thus nothing to ground it. Again, the starting
point is reality, not consciousness as such. I think you’re making things
hard for yourself. It’s not really that difficult. The axioms are not
“illogical” because they come prior to logic; rather, they are
*pre-logical*. That’s a different thing indeed. To show that they are
"illogical" you would have to show how they are contrary to logic, and you
have not shown this. In fact, you cannot do this, because logic is simply a
derivative of the axioms, not a contradiction of them.
“Assuming that rationality can only be defined in terms of logic, your
beliefs are at root irrational.”
According to Objectivism, logic is merely the method of rationality (so your
assumption here does not apply); it is not equivalent to logic itself. Watch
those frozen abstractions! Rationality according to Objectivism is, broadly,
volitional adherence to reality.
“In fact, they are based solely on faith.”
Even if all your foregoing characterizations were valid (and there should be
no question at this point that they are not), this would not follow, for you
nowhere make this connection. And if any connection you want to make to this
effect relies on the kind of characterizations you gave above (the nature of
which has been exposed and the errors of which have now been corrected),
then certainly this conclusion is untenable on such basis.
You tried this tack in a prior series of arguments, and it failed then
(remember your stolen concept about your assumption that the senses are
“inaccurate”?), and here you’re trying to establish the same conclusion by
means of a different route. Not very inventive, Peter, and hardly valid! And
what’s more, you have to accept the validity of my axioms in order to
attempt such a refutation, thus affirming their validity!
Question for Peter: Can you prove that your mind is valid without using your
Yes or no, Peter?