Friday, November 8, 2013



Sye's Response Upon reading This Paper:

FLIGHT: I fancy your own sect would knock you down a notch; Frame and Poythress both know better than to engage in your sophistical antics. This is what it looks like to have your ass handed to you.

SYE: I thank you for this paper and hope that many refer to it when they engage me.  If you know of any mature Skeptic who wishes to engage me with your "argument," I would be happy to do so.  I suspect that the immaturity you display in your writing is a defense mechanism to avoid actually having to engage your opponents.

FLIGHT: But this is the very point in writing the paper: so people can simply refer to it and move past the rushing Bruggencate, ever imposing his authoritarian will, antiquated moral piety, theistic fascism, (there is no need to repeat what has already been said; you have already been "engaged"). The case is closed! Your little gimmicky maneuvers have been exposed and shattered. You have nothing but empty self-assertion; you have nothing but the feeling of being right without the substance to prove it. This means you lose, which means you are, a l-o-s-e-r!

Don't strike at me unless you want a second circumcision.
Confidently yours,
Jersey Flight

SYE: Just as I figured, you don't know any mature people who wish to engage me with your "argument."


There is no logic to the method of Sye Ten Bruggencate, but only a kind of insecure authoritarianism.

"...Let's get back to the key point... The one question that I asked you was if everyone's reasoning is valid (and you admitted that there are some people whose reasoning was invalid), and I asked you how do you know that you're not one of those people and you said that you do not know that. So logically it follows that you can not know that your reason is valid... can you know for certain that your reason is valid?"[i]

The only thing this proves is how small Mr. Burger's brain is.

[This is the same question he always asks, and the problem with it is that he means something specific by the term know (something he never explains to his listeners). So we might ask; what does it mean to know something for certain? This would immediately shift the burden of proof back to where it needs to be. For without explaining this, the question he is asking is not just a simple, innocent question; the question he is asking is a complex, loaded question. For here the possibility of knowledge, is contingent on the way he defines the term. And of course, for Mr. Burger, the only way to know something for sure is to know that it proceeds from the Word of God.[ii] Hence, the question is loaded in such a way that the conclusion will always end in Mr. Burger’s favor. The moment we challenge, why this is the only acceptable standard, is the moment this standard gets exposed for what it really is: an empty declaration based on groundless, authoritarian assertions. If knowing something for certain means it proceeds from the Word of God, and if, in order to know something we must know it for certain, then it logically follows, that everything that does not proceed from the Word of God, cannot be known, because it cannot be known for certain. But clearly Mr. Burger would never accept this standard in the case of the Koran!]
"The question I asked was whether or not everyone's reasoning was valid?"

Perhaps Mr. Burger can give us an example, of valid reasoning, before he proceeds to apply this idea to our knowledge of everyone?

[It is important to note that Sye’s use of the term, valid, is confused. When he asks if a person’s reasoning is valid, what he is really asking is whether or not a person’s reason is true. This is a misuse of the term valid, which makes the question ignorant and confused. (see endnotes)] 

Valid Reasoning:

i) All men are mortal
ii) Socrates was a man
iii) Therefore, Socrates was mortal.

Invalid Reasoning:
i) The Koran says Allah exists,
ii) The Koran exists
iii) Therefore, whatever the Koran says is true.  

So how do I know I'm not one of these invalid people? I check the syllogism to see whether or not the conclusion logically follows from the premise, that is to say, I adhere to the form of the argument (as logical validity is a property that has to do with form). But if I ask the real question Sye is asking, which has to do with the truth of my conclusion, the answer is that I check the syllogism by examining the truth of its premise!

How do we spot false reasoning? We examine the nature of the premises, as well as the logic of the form! Further, a true argument is not based on premises which are certain, but on premises which are uncontroversial, or authoritative (this means both parties, for whatever reason, affirm the truth of the premises).  

Of course, Mr. Burger is free to dispute our example of valid and invalid, true and false, but in so doing he must realize that he will be required to establish his own.

Of course, we could push this position closer to home: how do we know that our reason is true, when it comes to Mr. Burger's Christianity being false? Because the premises of his arguments, which are nothing more than authoritarian assertions, are false. His conclusion (justification of Christianity) is based on a weak appeal to authority. (Of course, we don't expect Mr. Burger to comprehend the epistemological nature of this word weak). Authority is a concept and property of degree.

Can arguments from authority be true; most certainly, but not when they are as weak and subjective as the ones being made by Mr. Burger. (The irony here is that he actually agrees with us, hence he denies arguments based on the authority of the Koran)! Can arguments from authority be true? Not if the criterion of truth is stacked so high that no amount of evidence or reason can reach it. Whether we like it or not probability has its place. [iii]

Mr. Burger’s tactic is not only simple, but juvenile... the man honestly needs help, by which we mean, tutoring. He thinks he can prove his position by noting that other people's beliefs do not obtain the status of certainty (this is properly called an argument from silence, or an argument from ignorance), and of course, his position is true, not because he passed the skeptical tests he so vigorously requires of others, but because he exempts himself from these tests on the basis of assertion, on the basis of his reference to God, which is to say, on the basis of special pleading.

From his view every position that cannot meet the standards of certainty cannot be true [because his requirement is absolute!] However, when it comes to the validity and truth of his own claims; does he really possess absolute knowledge, or is he merely claiming that he possesses absolute knowledge, via his reference to God, which is nothing more than an empty assertion?

What is required in order for a belief to achieve the status of certainty? (If Sye, will demand a standard of certainty, then he must establish this standard of certainty). Further, once this standard has been established (and not arbitrarily we might add) Sye must be able to meet it himself, or else fall prey to his own criticism. The problem is that his standard of certainty is clearly bent in favor of his theism. In order for a belief to be certain, it must be established by the “Word of God,” by which Sye means the 66 books of the Protestant Canon (which really means he is referring to a council of men [for it was a council of men that compiled the canon]; which really means he is referring to a certain arbitrary, theological hermeneutic, associated with the interpretation of these books). The criterion of certainty, put forth by Sye, is arbitrary. Is it true, that beliefs based on the assertions of the Bible, legitimately obtain the status of certainty? [We don’t expect Mr. Burger to understand all these things. He is a very limited and simple person. Of course, this does not stop him from running his mouth, as simplicity has never stopped any idiot, from running his mouth.]

In exchange with Botten:

Botten: “Do you believe Adam lived to be nine hundred and thirty years old?”

Sye: “Yes.”

Botten: “What evidence do you have of that?”

Sye: “Scripture.”

Botten: “Do you have any external evidence?”

Sye: “I don’t need any.”[iv]

[If the solution is to deny that external evidence is needed beyond the mere act of self-assertion, then how can a man like Mr. Burger reject this method in the opposite case? We are entitled to the same resolution; to the same procedure of justification. Again, we don’t expect Mr. Burger to follow this line of reason.]

Refuting Mr. Burger is certainly something one should not boast about; for this is no accomplishment, it is rather a waste of life. Would one compliment themselves for correcting a child that had no comprehension of geometrical axioms?  What is there to boast about; for Mr. Burger’s dialectic methodology, is a gross manifestation of epistemological ignorance! What philosopher in his right mind, would demand that the claims of knowledge be certain in order to qualify as knowledge? As has been pointed out to Mr. Burger, many times before, this would require omniscience (which is exactly what Mr. Burger must be claiming for himself, in order to escape his own criticism)!

Sye's secret is to authoritatively demand a standard of justification which is absolute, and all we have to do, to expose this miserable charlatan's sophistical-gimmick, is to ask him how he knows that the justification of knowledge, in order to be authoritative, must be absolute? How does he arrive at his standard of justification? His is a retardation, incompetence and ignorance when it comes to the nature of justification itself. Further, this conversation of justification has nothing to do with Christian theism. [If Mr. Burger believes it does then he bears the burden of proof to show its correlation.] For if he fails to prove his standard absolutely, then how can his standard be absolute? So before we simply fall in line, with his arbitrary standards, we demand that he connect the dots. We will not assume for him, or with him, that knowledge claims, in order to be authoritative, must be absolute. If this were the case, then perhaps he can give us an example of a claim that actually meets this criterion? And even more so; we demand him to prove that propositions derived from the assertions of the Bible, are in fact, absolutely true.    

At the end of the day, if Mr. Burger ever arrives at and completes Philosophy 101, he will come to realize, that reasoning by analogy is not something we can escape. When we ask the question, “what do we mean,” how shall we answer it without making reference to the physical world… which is of course, a much better and more productive question than any of the ones posed by Mr. Burger.

The best thing I can advise, for not ending up like Mr. Burger, is not to stake one’s belief on gimmicky maneuvers in logic, maneuvers, which are literally adolescent. We might call these maneuvers, theistic-word-games, sophistical-devices. And once the student is caught in this sophistical trap (as Mr. Burger is, as I once was); once the listener succumbs to this juvenile ploy, the apologist tries to swiftly fill the gap with his disconnected worldview, which is to say, his authoritarian proclamations. How many times must we explain to the theist that his conclusion does not follow from his disconnected premise? How many times must we cry out, non-sequitur! The insinuation is: “because we have established that truth exists, on a basic and general level, we have also established that truth exists, on a sophisticated and specific level; namely, that my own personal belief is the very nature and identity of truth itself!” I have seen this fallacy utilized a thousand times different times, from a thousand different sects. The wise thinker is advised to note it, and distance himself from it.

Mark my words; there is more to the story than simply affirming the law of noncontradiction. This is only the beginning. As any competent thinker would tell you; the problem with truth is not its possibility, but actually being able to mark-out and define, identify what it is. If Mr. Burger has done this, then we are anxious to hear what he has to say, in order to learn the nature of what he claims to have proved. But merely arguing that truth, as a general and vague principle, must exist, is very far from proving the identity of truth itself.   

"How do I know that my reason is valid,” by which Mr. Burger means, how do I know that my reason is true? The same way I know if any argument is true, by whether or not its premise is true; by whether or not the conclusion logically follows from the premise.[v] Hence, when Mr. Burger says the Protestant Canon is true, because the Protestant Canon says the Protestant Canon is true, I know this is false, because the conclusion is based on a false premise, that is to say, “whatever the Protestant Canon says is true,” is itself, a premise, which is false. Now Mr. Burger can contest this all he wants, but if his argument is true, then clearly his position must be false, because the Koran says that the Protestant Canon is not true, therefore the Protestant Canon must be false, if Mr. Burger's argument is true. (Of course, we don't expect Mr. Burger to comprehend his special pleading).

WHAT SYE WOULD SAY: In order to account for anything, I am doing in my critique, I would have no choice but to borrow from his worldview (what he conveniently calls Christian presuppositions). In fact, the very fact that I have written this paper proves that Sye’s worldview is not merely correct, but epistemologically necessary. My use of logic, to refute Sye, is proof that his worldview must be true, precisely because I cannot account for the existence of logic from my worldview! In order to do that I need the God of Christianity. This is stupid (what other word should we use)? The premise, that the God of Christianity is required to account for the existence of logic, is patently absurd. Neither is this our premise to prove (on this we do not bear the burden of proof). The God of Christianity has nothing to do with the formation or conclusion of my syllogisms. God is not required for logic, but logic is required for God. There is nothing more to say. [For a more comprehensive treatment of this point, see Michael Martin, “Does Logic Presuppose the Existence of the Christian God?”]

My summation of Mr. Burger is that he has confidence without content; is boastful of a narrative, which he believes to have absolute-power, but when critically examined, is found to be wanting.

If you ever encounter this man; if you correspond with him, simply reference him to this paper. Nothing more needs to be said. This is a closed case; an intellectual beating, from which Mr. Burger, will not recover! 

NOTES ------------------------------------------------------

[i] Fundamentally Flawed: Sye Ten Bruggencate vs. Alex Botten, October 24th 2011. [Mr. Burger has asked a confused question; it is possible to have a valid argument with false premises. When Mr. Burger asks about, "valid reason," he is actually asking about the truth of propositions. It is actually confused to speak, of valid reasoning, when one really means, true reasoning, (which means a valid conclusion drawn from true premises). The question that Mr. Burger is asking is how we know that our reasoning is true (we can easily prove the validity of an argument by showing that the conclusion is derived from the premises, but this will not prove that the conclusion is true).]

"To say that an argument is deductively valid is, by definition, to say that it would be impossible to assert its premise, or premises, while denying its conclusion, or conclusions, without thereby contradicting yourself. That is what deduction is. argument may be valid, notwithstanding that both its premise, or premises, and its conclusion, or conclusions, are false. Similarly an argument may be invalid, notwithstanding that both its premise, or premises, and its conclusion, or conclusions, are true." Thinking Straight, Antony Flew, pg.12, 1977      

[ii] “Everybody wants a method… a methodology for his apologetics, and I say, well I’ll give you a method, its the two-move-check-mate; no matter what the person says that disagrees with scripture, first move, that’s not what the Bible says.” Sye, from “How to Answer the Fool.”

[iii] It should be noted that when we speak of arguments from authority, we are referring to arguments which contain authoritative premises, which is to say, though such arguments are not certain, they are compelling because it is very hard to deny their premises, without thwarting essential aspects of existence, or without denying necessary existential commitments. We are not, referring to arguments based on the mere assertion that (X) is authoritative; therefore whatever (X) says is true, we are instead, referring to arguments based on premises which are very hard to deny. Even if those premises can be challenged in a logical sense, they cannot be denied in an existential sense.     

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Mr. Burger would like to seize on the fact that I spoke of truth in relation to premises; his cock is probably hard, he is probably raging to ask me how I can justify this claim? “How can I account for truth on the basis of my Naturalistic Presuppositions?” After all, “there is no such thing as truth from the basis of my worldview!” I have news for Mr. Burger’s little hard-on; time to deflate the anticipation, in what we can only describe as an anti-climax (he must retain his holy fluid). Saying your position is true, because your position is based on declarations, assertions of truth, is not proof that you have established the truth of your position [if this was the case then he would no longer have any reason to object]! This is not rocket-science! Pointing out that truth, on the basis of Naturalism is difficult, does not exempt one from Naturalism! If Mr. Burger can say; “I know (p) is absolutely true, because this is my interpretation of the declaration made in document (x),” then anyone can say, that (p) is true according to this same standard of justification; on the basis of interpretive-declarations. By god how could Mr. Burger logically object? How do we know what constitutes the nature of a true premise? We examine a premise we know to be true, such as, unsupported stones fall. The problem here is that Mr. Burger will claim 1) this can only be true if his god exists (and because we admit its true) we are already presupposing the existence of his god. 2) We can only know this because his god exists, if his god did not exist, then we could never know this, but the very fact, that we claim to know this, is proof that Mr. Burger’s god exists. Hence, Mr. Burger goes from, without God you can’t know anything, to, you only know that because my god exists. Either way those who do not agree with him must lose; whatever the verdict, Mr. Burger will interpret it, in favor of his theism. The tactic is to take note of what is; that is to say, strong propositions on the basis of existence, propositions which are affirmed and enforced by experience, and then attribute these (to claim that we only have these) because of the existence of god.

[vi] “When a person says they could be wrong, about everything they claim to know, they’ve relinquished knowledge. And I’ll explain [this] to you. If you ask me the height of that building, I say its 90 feet, but I could be wrong, do I know it? Not if I could be wrong!” Mr. Burger preaching at the University of Pennsylvania

Is it true, that when a person says they could be wrong about everything they claim to know, they relinquish knowledge? Of course not! The problem with this claim is that it stacks the deck against the possibility of knowledge, by imposing an absolute standard of knowing. The possibility of being wrong is not proof that one is wrong! The fact that I could be wrong, about a stone falling to the ground, does not mean I am wrong, about a stone falling to the ground. This stupid, juvenile, simplistic frolic, is set up to snare the simple and unsuspecting. It preys on the man or woman who is not critical enough, or perhaps lacks the skills, to challenge the authoritarian premise.

Ladies and gentleman, there is nothing left to the apologetics of Mr. Burger. I have shattered the heart of his thesis. In order to recover, from this beating, he must be able to overcome the fallacy of special pleading; he must be able to prove, that his position can overcome the skepticism, he so conveniently assumes only applies to others, where he seeks to fallaciously exempt himself. And of course, this is something he brought upon himself, by claiming that his worldview was certain. The only question one needs to ask, in order to expose the frailty of Mr. Burger’s position, is how he escapes the problems he raises for others, as those problems relate to his own position? His answer is always the same: there is something epistemologically magical about the assertions of the Bible. (Of course, were Mr. Burger a Muslim, he would say nothing about the Koran). Other propositions must fall, but these assertions get a free pass, because, as Mr. Burger might put it, they come from the Triune God. And with that, my eager friends, we have the presuppositional solution, to all the problems of philosophy.