Sunday, April 22, 2007

Kelly Tripplehorn versus atheism

Kelly Tripplehorn, president of the i53 Network (which describes itself as an evangelical (though not Christian) network whose mission is "to produce quality media content, all to the glory of God’s Word"), has thrown down the gauntlet to us heathens. His organisation will pay $1000 to anyone who can offer a non-theistic justification for their belief that the Sun will rise tomorrow.

All you need to do in order to collect your $1,000 is get your non-theistic answer published (concerning your epistemological warrant for your inductive inference) in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, under its heading The Problem of Induction.

The point I am interested in is to show that all the knowledge non-Christians have, whether as simple folk by common sense, or as scientists exploring the hidden depths of the created universe- they have because Christianity is true. It is because the world is not what the non-Christians assume that it is, a world of Chance, and is what the Christian says that it is, a world run by the council of God, that even non-Christians have knowledge… Now the question is not whether the non-Christian can weigh, measure, or do a thousand other things. No one denies that he can. But the question is whether on his principle the non-Christian can account for his own or any knowledge.
Tripplehorn elaborates in the video below:

Tripplehorn maintains that the problem of induction is not a problem for Christians like him, because "the first two passages of Genesis inform me that God created the world with order and uniformity, and I as a Christian can assume that the past laws of nature will be the same as the future laws of nature, because God has implicitly told me so, in his Word." This, my friends, is your standard Argument from Biblical Authority, with a twist of Argument from Design.

Bottom line: insofar as the problem of induction is a problem for non-theists, it is a problem for theists like Tripplehorn also. The only difference is that Tripplehorn has given his non-solution to the problem of induction a label: "God." As PZ Myers points out, in the process of tearing Tripplehorn a new one:
It's a cheat. He has absolutely no logical, philosophical justification for this divine precondition he has pulled out of his butt, but then he turns around and thinks that he's got atheists over a barrel and demands that they justify the use of induction without Jesus. What? Why can't I just invent an accidentally linear seam in the fabric of the 18th dimension that imposes regularity in our dimension by subspace resonance? It's total nonsense, but it's a justification that's on a par with waving your hands over an ancient Hebrew sky-god. How about if I pretend there is a subatomic particle (or maybe a sub-quantum force; does it matter?) called the Regulon that compels lawful behavior in other particles/forces. Again, it's pseudoscientific magical BS, but it's as good as Snottypunk's excuse.
Another YouTuber, responding to Snottypunk's--erm--I mean Tripplehorn's video, suggests that miracles pose a whole other set of problems for his supposedly neat Christian solution to the problem of induction.

As the gang at Fundies Say the Darndest Things would say:

As an aside, PZ Myers links to some more interesting info on Mr Tripplehorn. More info at Babygorilla.