The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Kodachi (The Argument From True Love)

This is a more colorful summary of the past 125-or-so pages of what I’ve been covering in the Bite-Sized Metaphysics series. I’ll be posting it up in a 5-part series over at the Cadre until Thanksgiving, too; but I’ll keep it all (about 25 pages) in this one thread.

It’s the same theistic argument from formal reasoning, in principle, but rephrased from a direction I emotionally care about a lot more. :smiley:

For those who want to read the whole thing at once, I have appended two files with this opening comment (doc and pdf).
The Argument from True Love.pdf (69.3 KB)
The Argument from True Love.doc (86 KB)

The Kodachi (Part 1 of 5): The Argument From True Love

There is a drawback to writing a book with 700 pages worth of comprehensive discussion:

It may not be very comprehensible!

It still might not be very comprehensible even if we’re only talking about 125 of those pages–which is about how far I’ve gotten in Section Two of Sword to the Heart so far.

So before I continue posting up chapters from that Section (and onward through the book), from now until Thanksgiving I thought I would try presenting the precepts I’ve been talking about once again, in a somewhat briefer and more colorful way–and maybe (hopefully!) in a way our readers will find more meaningful. Or at least easier to read.

These auxiliary chapters are taken from just such a shorter book I wrote years ago, after finishing SttH. Which is why I called it “The Kodachi”: a shorter quicker sword.

Where should I begin, in summarizing a massive argument? Not only in summarizing, but in making it more accessible to people less concerned with technical details.

I will begin with something important to me… something more important to me than anything else.

I will begin with true love.

I might (or might not) be able to start on any topic, and eventually reach my conclusions; but this is my testimony, so I will start with my heart.

There is a sword in my heart. I sheathed it there long ago.

Yes, it hurts sometimes.

…sometimes it scours with fire eonian…

If it hurts so much–then why do I keep it there!?

Because I believe this is where that sword belongs.

To explain the sword, I will begin by observing its sheathe.

I am a person. I take my existence seriously. I have rights. I think for myself. I want you to pay attention to me, and treat me as a person. Look!–I am writing a book to present arguments for what I believe to be true! I want the credit for getting anything right. I did this. Me.

But wait–didn’t I say I would begin with true love? And yet, here I am blathering on about my person and my importance. Am I in love with myself!?


… … … Well, actually–yes sometimes I am.

And no, that isn’t good.

And the fact that most of us agree it isn’t good (in principle, or to various degrees) for me to be devoted to myself, is very significant. But I will discuss that later.

For the moment, I will simply say that I am not in fact devoted utterly to myself (thank God).

I am utterly devoted to someone else. Someone who is another person; as I am a person. Someone whom I treasure for the person she is.

Someone I choose to sacrifice my own importance for; whatever it costs.

Even if that means I have to leave a hole forever unfilled, in my heart.

And you had better forget suggesting any philosophy to me, that denies her as a person. Ever.

The end. Period.

And yet, I myself am a person, too. It is important to affirm myself as a person.

So you had better forget suggesting any philosophy to me, that denies me as a person, ever.

To be a little more precise: you had better forget suggesting any philosophy to me, that denies her and me, as persons.

And yet (again!); most people in most times and places, would agree that I can think too highly of myself, and that I should not do so.

As long as I love ‘her’, I can easily see one such limit to my own self-value:

I should never value my own self in any way that de-values her.

So you had better (ever!) forget suggesting any philosophy to me, that inflates me at her expense.

These constraints can be summed up in one more constraint:

If the philosophy you propose, does not have true love at the center of it, I will not ever accept it.

I hope, instead, I would die to deny it.

I hope, instead, I would die to affirm and protect what affirms and protects her–and us.

Even if she does not believe what I believe.

Perhaps you, my reader, now are thinking I am naive; am I not putting rather more value on this ‘true love’ than really is there?

Not if I take my existence, and especially her existence, seriously.

And ‘true love’ isn’t necessarily romantic love (although all romantic love should be true love, I think.) I could be talking about a mother; a teacher; a sister; a daughter; a cousin; a friend; a mentor. I could even be talking about a man: a father; a brother; a son.

I could be talking about God. (Or Goddess?)

I am thinking of a specific human woman (which is why I said ‘her’. Little ‘h’.) But I didn’t have to be. Ideally, I should be applying these notions to everyone in the world.

I should be applying them to you, my reader.

Certainly, I had better be taking your thoughts and your person-ness seriously, if I am going to bother writing a book for you to read–and arguments for you to judge!

And to be honest: I (probably) don’t know you. So I (probably) have very little feeling about you.

But I am willing to act in regard to you. And I am willing to believe, and insist, that you are capable of responsible actions, too… for better, or for worse.

Do I love you as much as I love her?

No. I don’t.

But in many ways, I should.

And in some ways–I do.

But–this is hardly a serious approach to philosophy, do you say? Not a respectable approach? Not a scholarly approach?

On the contrary: the core of my belief in true love, involves real actions by real persons in a real common unity.

And every scholar wants to be taken seriously, and to be respected, as a real person, contributing real actions, in common accepted union with other real people. That is why a person presents an argument for judgment.

Every scholar implicitly affirms my core belief.

Even when they do their best to deny my core belief.

And that is what I will talk about in Part 2.

Part 2 of 5: Reductions and Absurdities

There are certainly some scholars, past and present, who would say that true love is basically drivel.

There are no scholars, past or present, who can consistently say that their own thinking is basically drivel.

There are some scholars (past, and especially present), who do propose that ‘human thinking’ per se is essentially drivel. Yet they don’t propose their own theories, as thinking humans, concerning ‘human thinking’, are essentially drivel. On the contrary, they would prefer that we judge their own theories as coming from responsible humans who are actively discerning truth.

Furthermore, they usually (and quite charitably, although inconsistently) presume we judgers are capable of more than essential drivel, to be able to do this–for their theories.

Go back and read the first part of the Kodachi again. Or (if you can wade through it!) anything I’ve already written in SttH. I am not doing anything different in regard to myself and to you, my reader–am I?

It really is quite a striking distinction, though. It would almost amount to a comedy routine.

Have you heard the one about the atheist who walks into a church, and offers to free the congregation from a belief produced by knee-jerk reactions to cultural pressures, allowing them to finally think for themselves as responsible people? He will do this, he says, by teaching them a more accurate truth: that all behaviors (including all thinking) by all humans (including himself) are produced and maintained by blindly automatic reactions and counterreactions.

The ignorant simpletons laugh him out of church.

And yet–some people believe him and follow after.

To be honest, this isn’t exactly what the majority of such thinkers teach.

They aren’t usually quite this straightforward about it.

There is another version of this story. When the simpletons of the congregation point out that the atheist is only proposing an even worse enslavement to automatic reactions, he promises this isn’t so. These automatic reactions are what (by themselves and only by themselves) produce the intentional actions necessary for free -thinking people. When the simpletons ask him to explain why they should accept actions from reactions, instead of actions from Action, the atheist resorts to the appeal of inscrutable mystery.

Some of the simpletons thank him politely and say they will stick with the inscrutable mystery that proposes kind from kind.

But some of the simpletons, having been taught to value inscrutable mystery, perceive the superior audacity of claiming actions from reactions for no good reason, and so follow after the atheist.

I do not know what your opinion is about inscrutable mystery. But this is a certain truth: if you spend every Sunday encouraging a respect and veneration for inscrutable mysteries, it is silly to expect this respect and veneration to disappear Monday morning–when the other people show up, proposing inscrutable mysteries.

Especially when their mysteries are more inscrutable than yours.

There is a logical fallacy common among arguments: in Latin, ‘reductio ad absurdum’, ‘a reduction to the absurdity’.

But there is a version of this argument which is not considered a fallacy. It is a tool to ensure that false claims are not being hidden by complexity. If the implications of a claim amount to absurdity, when their basic form is discovered, then the claim must be false.

The danger comes from falsely reducing to the basic form: from creating an ‘absurd reduction’. This is very easy, and tempting, to do in an argument. A false ‘straw man’ is thus created, to be easily slain by the protagonist.

And this happens very often, on all sides of our metaphysical disputes. Which is why the tool is often considered to be fallacious by default.

I say this, to acknowledge there is a real danger of falsely simplifying the claims of atheism–just as an atheist ought to admit there is a real danger of falsely simplifying the claims of not-atheism. (Or both for someone who is agnostic on this topic!)

But not all simplifications must end with the creation of false straw men.

It is possible that the notion being proposed, was itself a straw man all along.

There is a story told in these parts (whether true or false I do not know) about a daring raid during our American Civil War. The Confederate cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest (eventually of Ku Klux Klan infamy) decided to drive Northern troops out of a supply depot set up near Union City, TN (about 25 miles north of where I am sitting). Under cover of night, Forrest and his men rigged a wide spread of false artillery positions in an arc around the depot. The next morning, the Union soldiers saw what seemed to be a power they could not possibly withstand; and so withdrew from the depot.

It is unlikely, had they held their ground or countercharged the positions, that the Union soldiers would have needed to construct some fake Confederate artillery to fight against, instead of fighting against the real fake Confederate artillery.

It is even more unlikely that Forrest and his men would have accepted their own fake artillery to be real.

Yet I think this is precisely what has happened, philosophically speaking, among even serious and otherwise competent atheistic proponents. And that is what I will discuss in Part 3.

Part 3 of 5: atheism, theism, and artificial intelligence

There are two mutually exclusive branches to all possible metaphysics: atheism, and not-atheism.

Assuming, of course, I refuse to accept the reality of contradictions.

But I refuse to accept contradictions as being real; because otherwise my own thinking would be totally unreliable on any subject–including the subject of real contradictions. (If contradictions are possibly real, then ‘are’ may also mean ‘are not’, and so the statement becomes meaningless, either as a proposal or as a conclusion.)

So: atheism, or not-atheism.

There are numerous types of not-atheism; and there are numerous types of atheism. Philosophical discussions today tend to focus on one or another type of atheism.

But I think it makes more sense to start with the basic category first. Is atheism possible? If it is, then we may continue with discussions about the merits of non-reductive indeterminism vs. eliminative materialism vs. quantum short-chain physicalism, etc.

If atheism, as a basic philosophical option, is not possible, then there is no significant reason to discuss various types of impossibility.

An atheist could easily be annoyed by this!

But I am playing fair. I am not contrasting atheism with my own brand of not-atheism (nor even with my own brand of Christian theism). And I would agree that this is a legitimate line of attack for an atheist himself to try–in principle.

The question, for him or for me, is whether we can carry out the principle in practice.

In practical practice: what is the distinction between atheism and not-atheism?

It is not whether there is one level of reality or more than one level. This is the distinction between naturalism and supernaturalism. But a pantheist (one type of not-atheist) would say only Nature exists (no supernature); and an atheist can propose, without contradiction, that a supernature exists (although most atheists are also naturalists).

The atheist says, however, that the Final Fact–the Fact that produces (or perhaps is) all other facts–does not think.

‘Thinking’, I admit, is a bit slippery as a term. ‘Processing’ ‘information’ may be considered thinking; but computers ‘process’ ‘information’, and there is a great debate over whether this means they can think.

Rather than enter into the details of that debate, I prefer to begin by noticing there is a debate.

And the atheists in this debate wish to use the effective processes of computers, to demonstrate that we don’t need God to explain our own ability to think. (I don’t mean that only atheists think computers can think and only not-atheists think computers cannot think. There is a variety of opinion on both sides, including among atheists–as I will demonstrate shortly.)

Now, this is very odd. Because there is one fact that everyone agrees with, in this debate–usually explicitly (when persons want to take personal credit for the work), and always implicitly.

Those computers were produced by thinking persons.

And yet, the atheists never claim that the existence of ‘effective process’ computers, demonstrates God (as a thinking Person) can create us (as ‘thinking’ and/or ‘effective process’ persons).

No, they claim this somehow bolsters atheism.


Why is it, when I talk to atheists, they often want to know whether I’ll be thrown out of whack when-if-ever we succeed in creating ‘true’ Artificial Intelligences?

I already think Artificial Intelligences already exist!

I think they have existed for at least 10,000 years. I think the atheist himself is one such artificial intelligence: I think a Person designed and created him.

Yet the atheist does not think he himself is an artificial intelligence.

More precisely, he does not think ‘intelligence’ is originally artificial. Well, neither do I: I am a theist, and I think the Uncreated (not-artificial) Final Fact is ‘intelligent’. But obviously the atheist doesn’t mean that, either.

The atheist would still be an atheist, even if he thought he himself personally (or the human species as a group) was artificially designed and created by a person or persons. Francis Crick, one of the discoverers of DNA, was an atheist; and he proposed that we, as a species, had been designed and created by intelligent aliens. Another atheist (like Richard Dawkins) can criticise this proposal on several grounds; but not (strictly) on the ground that Crick was being a not-atheist.

An author can sit down and write a story, about how thinking creatures from the future acted in the distant past to create their own thinking species. The author may decide she is flirting with time-travel contradictions; but she will not decide she is (in this way) flirting with not-atheism–not even if those creatures acted in the past to create species other than themselves.

Why is this?

There is a common thread running under atheistic proposals, whether science or science-fiction, concerning the development of our own thinking.

And we can discover this thread by looking at the evident characteristics of basic computers (out of which we design and build more advanced computers).

Computers are basically reactive.

Everyone admits this. Especially the atheists appealing to artificial intelligence as being somehow in favor of atheism.

They may claim the advanced computers are now (or will one day be) active rather than only reactive. Or they may claim the advanced computers have significant and special properties despite being still only reactive.

But they admit, and insist, what is indisputably evident to everyone who studies the subject.

Computers are basically reactive.

This is why they think AI studies are so important from the standpoint of atheism.

A viable computer ‘AI’ would demonstrate (they think), either that actions can come from reactions; or else that we don’t need anything other than reactions to explain the existence and properties of ‘thinking’.

Either demonstration attempt would have a serious hole in it; but I will cover that later. For the moment, my point is this:

Atheists believe (in essence) that the Final Fact is entirely, totally, originally reactive. Our behaviors (and all other aspects of our existence) were produced, and are maintained, ultimately by reactions and only reactions.

An atheist who proposes that our field of Nature is produced by a Supernature, is still an atheist–because that Supernature only reacts.

An atheist who proposes that aliens created us, is still an atheist: because those thinking aliens would themselves still be produced by an ultimately reactive Reality.

An atheist who proposes that one thinking entity (we humans) created another thinking entity (computers), is still an atheist: because he thinks we, as thinking entities (and thus the computers, ultimately), were ourselves produced by an ultimately reactive Reality.

An atheist who proposes that our behaviors are produced by short-chain quantum behavior, is still an atheist: because those short-chain behaviors are still only reactive.

Atheism, by practical definition, means a reactive Final Fact.

Not-atheism means an active Final Fact.

This is the critical difference in proposals.

And the atheistic proposal, is the one I think reduces to absurdity.

As I will discuss next.

Part 4 of 5: I Am A I

Okay, admittedly, if I go up to an atheist-on-the-street and I ask what her core belief is, as an atheist, she will probably say: “I don’t believe God exists”.

She will probably not say: “I believe the Final Fact is only reactive.”

Nor is she likely to say this, if I press her on what it means for God to not-exist.

What she will probably come down to, sooner or later, is: “I don’t believe a Person exists Who made the world or does anything else.”

If I ask her whether she is a person, however, she will probably say: “Yes.”

In fact, she is likely to say: “Of course!”

If she is being especially reflective, she might say: “I don’t know.”

She will probably not say: “I am not a person”–unless she is devotedly following a metaphysic that teaches her she is not a person.

But even philosophers who consider themselves to be nothing in the zero sum, or who consider themselves to be illusions of conscious will, still expect to be paid by their employers. They will insist they have rights. They will prefer not to be plagiarized or libeled.

Even a guru who says to us “I am not a person”, expects us to treat him as a person.

And even if he renounces all material connections (such as followers, for instance) and goes out into the desert alone to starve–he still will find himself fighting the temptation to say “I AM… not a person.”

If he is honest, and understands what he is doing.

Such people would never be reading this book, of course. They would not be where I am. And they would be doing their best not to listen to me if I went to them–for I would be only one more illusion.

I do feel very sorry for them, though.

They would think my pity is an illusion, too.

But, by default, I cannot be talking (now) to them; for they would never even pick up this book. I am talking to you, my reader.

I am… presuming I am a person, who (as a person) can do things. I am making my own contribution.

I am… presuming you are a person, who (as a person) can do things. You can make your own contribution.

This is the Golden Presumption: I can act. I do act. I extend this presumption to you as well, my reader.

Maybe I am presuming wrongly. Maybe I cannot act; because ‘I’ (as an ‘I’) do not exist.

All I can say… but if ‘I’ cannot act, then ‘I’ cannot even be saying, “All ‘I’ can say is if ‘I’ cannot act then ‘I’ cannot claim to be a person–nor make any other claim.”

‘I’ must be able to act, even to deny that I can act.

This does not prove I can act.

It does prove that I should not accept any contradiction of the Golden Presumption as being true.

And atheists are quite aware of the implications of this.

When they want to be.

Atheism requires that the Final Fact does not act.

In practice, atheists require that they themselves can act. Even the atheists who deny they can act, will require they can act.

Why would a philosopher deny she can act?

In order to avoid the implications of a real action capability.

This doesn’t stop her from expecting royalties from any books she writes on the subject, of course–she insists on her own personal responsibility, when it is to her credit to do so. She insists on her own personal responsibility when proposing that she does not really have any personal responsibility.

This is humorous. The other main branch of atheists get the joke quite well. The total react-er is contradicting the Golden Presumption, and so is contradicting (literally!) herself. What she is proposing cannot possibly be true.

Instead, it must be true that actions exist–especially the actions of atheists themselves. No problem.

These actions must (per atheism) be produced by, and only by, reactions.


It is silly to claim that a brick house has no bricks in it.

And even if, for purposes of argument, we allowed that the word ‘brick’ is so nebulous as to let us to safely propose that a brick house can possibly have no bricks in it–we wouldn’t be able to use ‘no bricks’ elsewhere in a real sense.

Atheists, to put it analogically, think the Final Fact has no bricks.

This is also humorous. And the total react-er atheists get the joke quite well. If foundational reactions mean no-Person (in the case of God), then foundational reactions cannot later mean person (in the case of Man).

This is why the total react-er atheists insist on the chain of property transfer. Actions, if they did exist, might produce reactions–an Act-er might cause reactive results–but reactions only produce more reactions.

Each side sees the contradictions of the other with admirable clarity. Each side rejects the contradictions of the other, because those are contradictions.

Yet they don’t also reject their own contradictions.

Because then atheism would be concluded to be false.

And not-atheism would be concluded to be true.