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  1. #1
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    Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    FSM arguments are, in my mind, a deplorable result of the New Atheism movement. It parodies teleological arguments by using reductio ad absurdum to point out their supposedly arbitrary conclusions.

    For starters, reductio ad absurdum is not even an actual fallacy charge that can be legitimately used to counter an argument, as it uses analogical thinking to try and undermine a conclusion. Obviously, trying to undermine a conclusion by addressing the conclusion alone instead of the premises and their relationship to the conclusion, is patently invalid logic.

    All that reductio ad absurdum argument tactics are capable of is substituting one conclusion for another and using the same premises, supposedly demonstrating that if the premises are true of this alternate conclusion as well and the result is generally disagreed upon, then the original argument holds no force either.

    That is not logical at all. If the premises lead to either conclusion then both conclusions must be held as sound. Wait a second, right? You likely found yourself asking me to a step back when I said that. So, what gives, right? Well, seeing as we'd end up with a contradiction if we held to both conclusions based on the same premises, it becomes clear that what we have is a false dilemma.

    Reductio ad absurdum arguments never hold up in debates between disciplined philosophers because they try to use analogical reasoning to undermine something and end up resulting in an actual absurdity. An absurdity is an irreconcilable logical incongruity. Thus, this self same argument that is positing that something else is absurd, can clearly be demonstrated to be absurd itself!

    When faced with a reductio ad absurdum argument the truly logical response is to point out one of a range of conditions: a) the premises don't lead to the conclusion posited by this argument, b) the premises don't lead to the original conclusion, or c) the premises lead to neither conclusion. A, B, or C is a logical necessity when faced with such a poorly conceived argument.

    Circling back to the FSM in particular, it must be noted that when held up for comparison with more refined teleological arguments, FSM invariably doesn't fit the premises or is in some way substantially different from the conclusion it is trying to stand in for. Now, it must be acknowledged here that there are a preponderance of less refined teleological arguments that FSM would attain to because they fail to be conclusive on their own two feet in the first place. In those cases FSM only attains because it is an equally flawed conclusion to an argument that was already flawed.
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    Circling back to the FSM in particular, it must be noted that when held up for comparison with more refined teleological arguments, FSM invariably doesn't fit the premises or is in some way substantially different from the conclusion it is trying to stand in for. Now, it must be acknowledged here that there are a preponderance of less refined teleological arguments that FSM would attain to because they fail to be conclusive on their own two feet in the first place. In those cases FSM only attains because it is an equally flawed conclusion to an argument that was already flawed.
    But I think the point of the FSM is to intentionally posit a flawed argument to reveal the flaws of the argument that it is addressing.

    Assuming it succeeds, then it does reveal the flaws of teaching Intelligent Design in school.

    To be clear, the FSM argument, as originally presented, asks "If we are going to teach religion in science class, then why not teach the religion of the FSM?". And if one can give an answer to NOT teach FSM in school, the answer should apply to ID (in theory).
    Last edited by mican333; December 7th, 2015 at 12:59 PM.

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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    But I think the point of the FSM is to intentionally posit a flawed argument to reveal the flaws of the argument that it is addressing.

    Assuming it succeeds, then it does reveal the flaws of teaching Intelligent Design in school.

    To be clear, the FSM argument, as originally presented, asks "If we are going to teach religion in science class, then why not teach the religion of the FSM?". And if one can give an answer to NOT teach FSM in school, the answer should apply to ID (in theory).
    So we just assume it succeeds? I like that reasoning.
    Assume my rebutal to the FSM succeeds... now what?

    Also, let me show the problem with the FSM argument.

    I have just invented a historical figure that played a roll in founding our nation.
    His name is Bob, and he gave key, nation changing advice to the first congress on how to draft the const.

    Now, I will pretend that I didn't just invent it and debate with you.
    Why should we not teach our children in school about him?

    Your first response should be "because you just made him up.. like just now, he is an accepted fictional character, even you yourself accept him as a fictional character".


    That is a devastating response to my argument and my question to teach about bob in school.. yet it doesn't apply in anyway to Washington.

    when I do respond with "see same with Washington"
    You can rightly laugh at me and walk away. (which is what we do in regards to the FSM argument) It's not clever, it's funny.

    Sure, if we "assume" my argument is successful then it may be difficult, but I really haven't seen any other response or dismissal to the FSM than what I have just offered.
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    But I think the point of the FSM is to intentionally posit a flawed argument to reveal the flaws of the argument that it is addressing.

    Assuming it succeeds, then it does reveal the flaws of teaching Intelligent Design in school.

    To be clear, the FSM argument, as originally presented, asks "If we are going to teach religion in science class, then why not teach the religion of the FSM?". And if one can give an answer to NOT teach FSM in school, the answer should apply to ID (in theory).
    The FSM is an objection to the ontological argument, not to ID.
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  7. #5
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    The FSM is an objection to the ontological argument, not to ID.
    Thanks for correcting my little goof there.

    ---------- Post added at 01:52 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:43 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    But I think the point of the FSM is to intentionally posit a flawed argument to reveal the flaws of the argument that it is addressing.

    Assuming it succeeds, then it does reveal the flaws of teaching Intelligent Design in school.

    To be clear, the FSM argument, as originally presented, asks "If we are going to teach religion in science class, then why not teach the religion of the FSM?". And if one can give an answer to NOT teach FSM in school, the answer should apply to ID (in theory).
    Except the FSM is not an original argument of it's own. It merely borrows the premises, and pretends to share the same qualities as, the conclusion it is supplanting. As it adds literally nothing to our understanding of the premises, and literally nothing to our understanding of the conclusion, it follows that the FSM tells us nothing about either the validity or soundness of the argument it is trying to render absurd.

    It is a useless analogy, nothing more. If it were an argument it would have the proper form of an argument, which it lacks.
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    Except the FSM is not an original argument of it's own. It merely borrows the premises, and pretends to share the same qualities as, the conclusion it is supplanting. As it adds literally nothing to our understanding of the premises, and literally nothing to our understanding of the conclusion, it follows that the FSM tells us nothing about either the validity or soundness of the argument it is trying to render absurd.
    Actually, it does show us something about the validity or soundness of the argument it is supplanting.

    Assuming ID and FSM are equally valid (which they are if they indeed share the same premises and logic), one cannot logically reject one without rejecting the other.

    So when it is forwarded that FSM should be taught in school, there are only two options.

    1. Agree that it should be taught
    2. Disagree that it should be taught.

    And of course no one will seriously agree that it should be taught (including the creator of FSM). So that means that one will hold that FSM is not a theory that warrants inclusion in school curriculum. And once that is accepted, one must also reject ID for the same reason if they are to remain logically consistent.
    Last edited by mican333; December 8th, 2015 at 09:46 PM.

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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Not sure you folks have read up on FSM's history (Miccan excepted) (just went and did that myself)

    Point 1: Reducto ad absurdum is when you argue that another argument leads to an absurd / clearly false conclusion. So if somehow I could show that creationism would lead us to all be purple aliens rather than human beings, that would undermine your argument by saying it leads to a plainly absurd conclusion. FSM is not that. It is not a conclusion that creationism leads to, nor is argued to be so.

    Point 2: FSM is primarily satire rather than an argument of logical proof or disproof. It is not posited as a logical argument in an of itself but a satirical deity used as part of an argument. The argument could work with nearly any imaginary entity.

    Point 3: The original context was a letter to a board of education considering teaching creationism as an alternative to evolution in a science curriculum. The argument states that as a matter of science the FSM explanation for fossils has an equal scientific claim to the claims of divine creation. So in this case the failure of FSM as a theory of science is exactly the point, it is a non-science explanation for life, just as creation is. The use of an absurd case is there to remove the sentimental connection to creationism. Often such substitutions are trying to serve the purpose of highlighting an argument substituting a less emotional or sentimental subject for another that has a very positive emotional connection. Essentially it can be seen as "disarming" another fallacy which is the appeal to a widespread belief, a form of appeal to authority.
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  12. #8
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried
    The use of an absurd case is there to remove the sentimental connection to creationism. Often such substitutions are trying to serve the purpose of highlighting an argument substituting a less emotional or sentimental subject for another that has a very positive emotional connection. Essentially it can be seen as "disarming" another fallacy which is the appeal to a widespread belief, a form of appeal to authority.
    The substitution has to be shown to be valid. For instance, if I argued "A square block can fit through a square hole", and you said, "But a triangular block couldn't!", you haven't disproved my argument.

    The idea here is to take a particular concept--a creator (in the case of ID) or a necessary being (in the case of ontological arguments)--and change it just a bit, either by stipulating additional attributes ("that greater than which nothing can be conceived" but also "is an island", for Gaunilo's objection to the ontological argument). These forms of argument must first establish that the argument goes through just as well for their substituted concept as it does for the original (a failure of Gaunilo's objection).

    It's not clear to me why the stipulation of "is made of spaghetti" is considered by atheists not to affect the logic of the argument. What if I took the original double-slit experiment, but stipulated that the photons in question be made out of spaghetti. Would anyone think that the resulting statement would be logically equivalent to the former?
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  14. #9
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    It's not clear to me why the stipulation of "is made of spaghetti" is considered by atheists not to affect the logic of the argument. What if I took the original double-slit experiment, but stipulated that the photons in question be made out of spaghetti. Would anyone think that the resulting statement would be logically equivalent to the former?
    You are probably correct.

    FSM only works as a mimic of ID IF they actually do share premises and as the Luke's arguments had "shared premises" as a premise, I argued earlier as if that was the case. But I believe you are probably correct that they don't really share premises. If ID only posits that the universe was created by an intelligence but offer no specifics on what that intelligence is, then FSM is not a valid analogy as it is based on a specific aspect of the creator (being made of spaghetti).

    The reason I say you are "probably" correct than you are correct is I'm not entirely familiar with the argument that FSM was addressing. If it was more of a Creationist argument (The Christians God - male, human-like made the universe), then the analogy might work as the Christian God does have specifics similar to the FSM.

    But assuming it's addressing ID as I typically understand it, I agree with your rebuttal
    Last edited by mican333; December 10th, 2015 at 10:33 AM.

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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    It's not clear to me why the stipulation of "is made of spaghetti" is considered by atheists not to affect the logic of the argument. What if I took the original double-slit experiment, but stipulated that the photons in question be made out of spaghetti. Would anyone think that the resulting statement would be logically equivalent to the former?
    It is really just a question of taking God a familiar and much loved character and substituting another character. The notion it is made of spaghetti is immaterial. It in no way figures into whether or not it created anything.
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by sig
    It is really just a question of taking God a familiar and much loved character and substituting another character.
    Wouldn't that be deism and not spaghetti monster religion?
    I mean, removing the character all together.
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  18. #12
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    It is really just a question of taking God a familiar and much loved character and substituting another character. The notion it is made of spaghetti is immaterial. It in no way figures into whether or not it created anything.
    But assuming ID, as opposed to creationism, is what the original FSM argument was addressing, there is no "character". ID typically just says that an intelligence made the universe and doesn't forward any specific features of that intelligence. So there is nothing there to replace "made of spaghetti" with.

    On the other hand, if the theory is the Christian God made the universe (which is what Creationism tends to forward) then there is something to replace "made of spaghetti" with - namely all of the features of the Christian God (being a human-shaped male figure, for example).

    So the FSM argument works against Creationism but not against Intelligent Design.

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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Wouldn't that be deism and not spaghetti monster religion?
    I mean, removing the character all together.
    Yes.

    ---------- Post added at 05:14 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:08 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    But assuming ID, as opposed to creationism, is what the original FSM argument was addressing, there is no "character". ID typically just says that an intelligence made the universe and doesn't forward any specific features of that intelligence. So there is nothing there to replace "made of spaghetti" with.
    You could use FSM as an example deity illustrating one way in which ID could have taken place but that is reaching a bit. I think it is a fair point to say that as opposed to strict Deism, the use of the FSM is at best superfluous to any argument.

    On the other hand, if the theory is the Christian God made the universe (which is what Creationism tends to forward) then there is something to replace "made of spaghetti" with - namely all of the features of the Christian God (being a human-shaped male figure, for example).
    So the FSM argument works against Creationism but not against Intelligent Design.
    I think that is fair to say. Mind you I know of very few actual Deists who advocate for ID.
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    It is really just a question of taking God a familiar and much loved character and substituting another character. The notion it is made of spaghetti is immaterial. It in no way figures into whether or not it created anything.
    The traditional concept of God is as a metaphysically necessary being that is omniscience, omnipotent, and wholly good, which sustains the existence of all extants.

    Appending "is made of spaghetti" and then marveling at the resulting absurdity doesn't seem to do much to implicate the original concept. Why, or at any rate how, would it?
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    The traditional concept of God is as a metaphysically necessary being that is omniscience, omnipotent, and wholly good, which sustains the existence of all extants.

    Appending "is made of spaghetti" and then marveling at the resulting absurdity doesn't seem to do much to implicate the original concept. Why, or at any rate how, would it?
    Again, the real teeth here is that it is not more scientifically valid to say a spaghetti monster created life than it is to say some divine character did. But people strongly object to one and support the other. Why? Because one is sentimental and the other is silly. That is not a good motive to write science books under.

    It simply highlights that the original concept is unfounded by science.

    Against God more generally it highlights the many silly qualities god has beyond some generic motive force. For instance the all knowing all powerful all good stuff which all pretty well boil down to wishful thinking. Not to mention the prime mover which comes down to double standards. The only true difference in qualitative reasoning behind God and the FSM is one is ancient tradition and the other is modern invention.
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by SIG
    Again, the real teeth here is that it is not more scientifically valid to say a spaghetti monster created life than it is to say some divine character did
    Actually Clive just enumerated it.

    Quote Originally Posted by CLIVE
    The traditional concept of God is as a metaphysically necessary being that is omniscience, omnipotent, and wholly good, which sustains the existence of all extants.

    Appending "is made of spaghetti" and then marveling at the resulting absurdity doesn't seem to do much to implicate the original concept
    Scientifically, ID is superior to.
    ID by a Spaghetti monster that I just imagined.

    ID is also a valid model, hence why it should be explained as a possible explanation, and it's features and challenges explored in classes.
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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  25. #17
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Again, the real teeth here is that it is not more scientifically valid to say a spaghetti monster created life than it is to say some divine character did. But people strongly object to one and support the other. Why? Because one is sentimental and the other is silly. That is not a good motive to write science books under.
    One is supported by many philosophical arguments, which if not universally accepted are generally taken seriously. The other is made out of spaghetti. Why in the world would we put these two concepts on equal footing?

    It simply highlights that the original concept is unfounded by science.
    Well, science is unfounded by science, since the foundation of science is philosophy.

    Mathematics is also unfounded by science (i.e., we don't believe mathematical claims on the basis of scientific evidence, but rather on the basis of mathematical arguments).

    Against God more generally it highlights the many silly qualities god has beyond some generic motive force. For instance the all knowing all powerful all good stuff which all pretty well boil down to wishful thinking.
    FSM doesn't highlight any of that. FSM is silly because it's made out of spaghetti. How does the conjunction of "being made out of spaghetti" show that "all knowing all power all good stuff" is just "wishful thinking"?

    Can I adjoin spaghetti to the Constitution to show that natural rights are just wishful thinking?

    Not to mention the prime mover which comes down to double standards. The only true difference in qualitative reasoning behind God and the FSM is one is ancient tradition and the other is modern invention.
    Except that there's no reason to think that a prime mover would be made out of spaghetti, so the FSM seems entirely unmotivated as to one of its necessary characteristics.

    ---------- Post added at 01:18 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:42 PM ----------

    ID is also a valid model, hence why it should be explained as a possible explanation, and it's features and challenges explored in classes.
    Not necessarily. You teach biology in biology classes. You teach physics in physics classes. While ID might be a cosmological theory in a certain sense, it doesn't have much to do with how particles interact with each other (so it shouldn't be taught in physics classes), or how genes are passed down through reproduction (so it shouldn't be taught in classes covering genetic evolution), etc.
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by CLIVE
    Not necessarily. You teach biology in biology classes. You teach physics in physics classes. While ID might be a cosmological theory in a certain sense, it doesn't have much to do with how particles interact with each other (so it shouldn't be taught in physics classes), or how genes are passed down through reproduction (so it shouldn't be taught in classes covering genetic evolution), etc.
    Certainly, but when speaking to the beginning of life, that is not only a biological argument.
    I won't argue for it to be put in subjects it doesn't belong, such as English etc.

    So where you teach bio genesis, it seems appropriate to teach ID.
    I mean the two choices is 1) bio geneses occurred naturally or 2) It occurred on purpose
    From that point two subjects split, one biological evolution, and the other philosophy.

    Suppose ID was proven.. which class would it be taught in?
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Scientifically, ID is superior to.
    ID by a Spaghetti monster that I just imagined.
    What is your support for that? ID offers no test by which we can determine the validity of the claim, nor does the FSM so on scientific grounds they are equal hypothesis.

    ID is also a valid model, hence why it should be explained as a possible explanation, and it's features and challenges explored in classes.
    Valid in what sense? It is pretty much just speculation and wishful thinking. There is no hard evidence for any divine creators of anything.

    ---------- Post added at 12:39 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:30 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    One is supported by many philosophical arguments, which if not universally accepted are generally taken seriously. The other is made out of spaghetti. Why in the world would we put these two concepts on equal footing?
    Because we are talking about the realms of science, not philosophy. And those of us without supernatural faith do not actually take religious claims seriously. We take the claimants seriously as people, but the claims themselves not so much because there isn't much to recommend them.

    Well, science is unfounded by science, since the foundation of science is philosophy.
    The foundation of science is experimentation and observation, not philosophy. There are philosophical lines of inquiry into science, but it itself is a practical activity.

    Mathematics is also unfounded by science (i.e., we don't believe mathematical claims on the basis of scientific evidence, but rather on the basis of mathematical arguments).
    We can test mathematical claims using the scientific method in many cases. No claims of divinity can be tested in this way.

    FSM doesn't highlight any of that. FSM is silly because it's made out of spaghetti. How does the conjunction of "being made out of spaghetti" show that "all knowing all power all good stuff" is just "wishful thinking"?
    It does not, its simply juxtaposes one silly notion for another. The point is there are things people take very seriously but are none the less pretty ridiculous.

    Can I adjoin spaghetti to the Constitution to show that natural rights are just wishful thinking?
    Yes you can. Indeed natural rights are also wishful thinking.
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    Re: Why the FSM argument just plain doesn't work

    Quote Originally Posted by SIG
    What is your support for that? ID offers no test by which we can determine the validity of the claim, nor does the FSM so on scientific grounds they are equal hypothesis.
    The "test" is implications of intelligent design, or signs of it. Such as order that is too complex to reasonably come about through chance. I think there is an entire field dedicated to that pursuit... seti something or other.

    Why ID is superior than ID by spaghetti, is because there are less things to prove and the spaghetti part seems quite random. Maybe we should ask why seti is looking for communication from space, and not communication from space from spaghetti.

    Quote Originally Posted by SIG
    Valid in what sense?
    Valid in that it has explanatory power.

    Quote Originally Posted by SIG
    It is pretty much just speculation and wishful thinking.
    bare assertion.

    Quote Originally Posted by SIG
    There is no hard evidence for any divine creators of anything.
    Whooh.. slow your horse chief. I thought we were talking about Intelligent design.

    If ID were true and taught in science class as the origin of life, we would have to discuss the implication of the divine in philosophy class.. don't you think?
    As for "hard evidence" that is you just ignoring the evidence because you don't like it, or prefer some other "wishful thinking" to it.
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

 

 
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