ORA - Objective Reality Argument (Official)
The OBJECTIVE REALITY ARGUMENT
"Atheists have selected a position which robs them of the ability to identify truth. If you have to accept the 'possibility' that your thoughts may not be real (your own), and that you may not exist in a true objective reality, then you cannot know anything. It's logically absurd to assume any knowledge can be obtained if the before mentioned have to be accepted as possibilities."
P1: If you have to accept the possibility that you may not exist in a true objective reality, then you have to accept that your thoughts may not be real.
P2: If you have to accept that your thoughts may not be real, then you rob yourself of the ability to identify truth.
P3: Atheists have to accept that they may not exist in a true objective reality
C: Atheists rob themselves of the ability to identify truth.
P1: If you rob yourself of the ability to identify truth then you are intellectually bankrupt.
C: Atheists are intellectually bankrupt.
ORA, better know as the "Objective Reality Argument" was developed in early 2014 by well known Christian Apologist Chad Elliott. It is an undefeated formal apologetics argument that has found its way onto Blue House Apologetic Societies '12 Pillars of Truth.' The argument deals with the issue of objective reality. More directly, an atheistic worldview makes it so you cannot be certain that you exist in a true objective reality, and therefore cannot identify truth.
"It's my position that Sye Ten Bruggencate and Eric Hovinds informal presuppositional arguments have too many holes in them. The following is one of my presuppositional arguments known as ORA. Sye, Eric and I all share the initial position that, unless you know God, or know everything, then you cannot know anything at all. However, the way we go about proving this is quite different. Furthermore, my argument has been structured into a formal apologetics argument while their arguments are just random thoughts to be thrown out in debate. Sye and Eric like to talk about how people can or can't know if their reasoning is valid. The problem is that I feel like this gets too messy, can actually be refuted, and is nothing more than a weak play on words. My argument (ORA) on the other hand, stays away from asking how people reason. ORA strictly deals with the fact that someone, who doesn't believe in God, cannot be certain that they exist in a true objective reality. From this we see that (if you cannot be certain you exist in a true objective reality) you are also unable to identify truth or know if your thoughts are real, if your experiences are real, if your assumptions are real, if your brain is real, if your doubts are real, or if the world around you is real. Defeating atheism is my passion...This is just another one of my formal, irrefutable arguments. Don't forget to check out the other ones on the right side of the page before you leave."
Implications - The implications of this argument are very strong. If everything you hold near and dear to you may not be real, then you what are you left with? If everything you think you know about your life, your experiences, your loved ones, your children, your thoughts, your emotions, your triumphs, your failures, your lessons, etc. may not be real, then essentially you are nothingness. You can count on nothing to be certain. You can formulate no logic, or find no scientific or mathematical truths. The conclusion of this argument is so strong that for many truth seeking agnostics, atheism has become such a completely incoherant position, that they just could not fathom it. Thus, they have begun their journey toward THEISM. You see, if you can never know anything you say is true, then you have become a fixture of your own imagination. On the opposite view however, we feel that God provides each of us such logic and truth, so we can happily enjoy our lives knowing that what we are doing, learning, experiencing, living, is really actually happening...and that the people we love care for and share our lives with are actually real.
Important Question to ask:
Do you have to know everything in order to know anything? Most people would say no...But the answer is actually yes. You have to know everything, or know someone who knows everything, in order to know anything at all. How do we prove this? We ask another question. Out of all the possible knowledge in the universe how much do you think you have. The person will have to say something small like 5%. Then you ask them...Is it possible that the 95% you don't know, could prove the 5% wrong that you think you do know?? If they are being intellectually honesty they have to answer yes!! This proves that unless you know everything, or know someone who knows everything, you actually cannot know anything.
So how does this work for believers? Simple...God is the all knowing being that we know, and he can reveal things to us in such a way that we can know them for certain. As believers we DO NOT have to accept the possibility that we exist anywhere other than our objective reality or that our thoughts are our own.
The difference between Knowledge and Belief:
[[Real Thoughts]] - Thoughts that are your own. Not imitation or artificial; genuine. Not imagined or supposed. Not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory.
[[Objective Reality]] - A real or true reality which exists independent of anyone's views or beliefs about it. A reality which exists independent of anyone's perception. A real true reality which exists regardless of time, location, society, influence, or individuals beliefs.
DEFENDING THE ARGUMENT:
[[PREMISE 1]] - If you have to accept the possibility that you may not exist in a true objective reality, then you have to accept that your thoughts may not be real. This premise seems fairly self explanatory. If you have to accept the possibly that this world is not objectively real, then you must also accept that your thoughts too may not be your own (real). For how could someone admit their reality may not be real, but have 100% certainty that their thoughts are? This is where we bring in the example of Aliens creating reality (as well as thoughts, etc) in a pre-programmed computer system. No matter how slim you feel the chances are, the possibility for this must be accounted for.
[[PREMISE 2]] - If you have to accept that your thoughts may not be real, then you can never know if anything you say is true. For is it not a fact, that you have to take into account the possibility you may not be thinking or saying anything on your own?? Moreover, if your thoughts are not real then your conclusions, assumptions, and ablity to find truth is also non-existent. For you would not be the one deciphering any information, or having any kind of thought process. If someone must accept that their thoughts may not be real, then that undermines everything else they may know about their reality as well as their self. For example, even if I was certain that the earth was round based on the scientific evidence, the fact that my thoughts may not be real, undermines this truth/knowledge. How so? Because it (the possibility that my thoughts may not be real, and that I may not exists in a true objective reality) trumps all other subjective truths about reality and knowledge...Even if I feel I know for sure the Earth is round, if I myself am not thinking my own thoughts, and my reality may not be ginuine or true, then maybe the earth isn't round after all. Maybe it's just made to appear to be round by the alien video game directior who programmed this level. To go even deeper, the alien could have also programmed your senses to perceive the Earth as being round when in the true reality it's a triangle or even non-existent.
[[PREMISE 3]] - Atheists have to accept that they may not exist in a true objective reality. This premise is surely the one that brings the most attention. I want to first remind everyone of the correct wording that we have chosen in this premise. The premise DOES NOT SAY that atheists can never believe in objective reality, or atheists can never THINK an objective reality exists. Rather this premise states that atheists have to accept that they may not exist in a true objective reality. This is a key point because many atheists actually do think objective reality exists, and many atheists also believe in objective reality. It's our position however, that based on the atheistic position (there is no god), that the atheist always has to leave some room for the possibility that they may not actually exist in a true objective reality. Why? The atheist is simply bound to new ideas and the progression of science. We as Christians certainly love science (as it helps us defeat atheism every single day), but the point is that at moments notice everything an atheist thinks they know can be completely washed away. Without God you are just a feather in the wind floating wherever the next scientific theory blows. You have no baseline or foundation to rest on. If you don't believe in God (accepting his truth and ability to make your existence valid), and tomorrow science claims to have found an alien in another galaxy who is using us all as video game characters, well then that's what you have to go with...and from that point on, as an atheist you start accepting that the reality you thought you knew wasn't actually real at all...It was all fake. And so were you. Then when you find out the Alien was manipulating all your surrounding, experiences, senses, doubts, emotions, and all your thoughts your realize you cant realize anything at all. All realizing something would imply you had the ability to think. Which you did not.
[[CONCLUSION]] - Atheists can never know if anything they say is true. As this remains to be a logically valid deductive argument, one would have to defeat one of the premises in order to disprove the conclusion.
**Talk about what truth is in Chapt 1 of (I don't have enough faith to be an atheist)**
[[I think, therefore I am]] - This rebuttal falls flat. Cogito, ergo sum--"I think therefore I am," was created by Descartes to prove human existence, but has since been shown to have many flaws.
A.) In the form it's presented, Descartes statement is inherently flawed because it assumes "I" exists in order to prove that "I" exist. In other words, it presupposes the existence of itself to prove itself exists. Just look at the first word of the statement. "I". This is circular reasoning
B.) It appears that another premise is needed to make this argument complete (although I still do not feel it is necessarily sound). His 1st premise should be -- "Whatever has the properties of thinking, exists." Descartes could say that this premise is not needed because it is widely accepted to be true, but is that really the case? This is where I think we need to get into what he means by "exists." Surely I could imagine a pre programmed computer system run by aliens in a distant galaxy which gives someone the illusion of free will, self awareness, memories, doubt, and thought. In such a scenario Descartes thoughts would not be his own, and although he would exist in some form, he would not exist in the form he assumes real/true/real. Thus disproving the premise that whatever has the properties of thinking, exists. Unless of course the 'existence' he is attempting to prove is so broadly defined as to mean 'ANY conceivable EXISTENCE'.
C.) I think therefore I am is essentially trying to make the claim that, I think, therefore I exist. But is this true? For one, do you know that you are thinking or that your thoughts are your own? Do you know that your doubts are not pre-programmed? Furthermore what is meant by exist. Descartes distinction of 'existence' does not seem to be clearly defined, but rather inferred to mean -- the existence that he assumes to be true/real. Meaning a self evident being which exists here on Earth and is capable of free will and independent thought processes. I feel this distinction is important for deciphering the validity of Descartes statement. Do you agree that this is the 'existence' Descartes is attempting to prove with Cogito, ergo sum?
D.) If your thoughts are not your own (such as in the example I gave with the aliens in another galaxy), how can that be defined as "thinking"? Is Descartes not implying with Cogito,ergo sum that "HE" thinks, therefore he exist? Meaning that he himself is responsible for his thoughts? In the hypothetical situation I present however, his thoughts are not his own, nor is he responsible for them.
Atheists cannot be certain that their thoughts are real (their own).
[[Reasonable assumptions based on axioms]] - How do you make an assumption if you arent actually thinking you own thoughts? You in fact didnt make anything. It would have been pre-programed or made for you. Saying reasonable assumptions can be made implies that your thoughts and reasoning capabilities are even yours. This is something the atheist cannot be certain of.
[[P1 of ORA Violates the Law of Identity]] -
Let us look at the Law of Identity: In logic, the law of identity is the first of the three classical laws of thought. It states that “each thing is the same with itself and different from another”. By this it is meant that each thing (be it a universal or a particular) is composed of its own unique set of characteristic qualities or features, which the ancient Greeks called its essence. Consequently, things that have the same essence are the same thing, while things that have different essences are different things.
Does this undermine or refute P1 of the ORA? P1 of ORA states -- "If you have to accept the possibility that you may not exist in a true objective reality, then you have to accept that your thoughts may not be real."
In this premise we are making an IF/THEN statement, but we are not violating the Law of Identity. If you must accept for example, that an alien from a distant galaxy has created a pre-programmed subjective reality for everyone, that reality would still share the same essence. Meaning it would still be the "subjective/false reality that the alien set up." It wouldn't be something ELSE. I.E. It wouldn't be the Aliens cousin who lives next door to him in the other galaxy. Similarly the same explanation can be used for the same Alien pre-programing and controlling your thoughts, free will, doubt, and experience. In this scenario your thoughts would not be real (your own), but they would still be the thoughts pre-programmed by the alien. In other words they would be what they were, they would not be something ELSE. I.E.The aliens fingernails. Thus we see that P1 of ORA does not in any way violate the Law of Identity.
[[Everything is what it is.
To be or not to be.]]
To be or not to be.]]
The earliest recorded use of the law appears to occur in Plato's dialogue Theaetetus (185a), wherein Socrates attempts to establish that what we call "sounds" and "colours" are two different classes of thing:
Socrates: How about sounds and colours: in the first place you would admit that they both exist?
Socrates: And that either of them is different from the other, and the same with itself?
Socrates: And that both are two and each of them one?
Socrates: And that either of them is different from the other, and the same with itself?
Socrates: And that both are two and each of them one?
[[We are NOT claiming that belief in God gives us absolute knowledge of ALL things]] - That would be absurd because it would make the claim that believers are all knowing, and puts us on a similar footing as God. What we are claiming rather, is that God can provide us absolute knowlege on key fundamental things, while the atheist can have absolute knowlege of ANYTHING, cannot be certain of anything, and must always account for the possibility that objective reality and his own thougts are not even real!!
In order to know ANYTHING...you either have to know EVERYTHING...or...have 'some' revelation from someone who knows everything (God). Of course an all powerful all knowing supernatural being would be able to reveal some aspects of absolute certainty/truth/knowledge without issue. It appears there would be no mechanism that would be able to prevent this.
[[Thoughts do exist, in some fashion]]
This statement is true, and I agree 100% that thoughts necessarily do exist in some fashion, however, a person bringing up this rebuttal has surely miss represented/miss understood the premise. When we say that you have to accept that your thoughts may not be real, that is NOT to say that your thoughts do not exist (in some fashion). Rather, we are simply saying that your thoughts may not be REAL (your own).
[[The believer cannot know if they exist in a true objective reality either]] - The believer does NOT have to accept the possibility that objective reality nor his own thoughts are invalid. The believer can accept that an all knowing personal being layed a foundation for him in which he can be sure his experiences, thoughts, emotions, relationships, sences, doubts, fears, reality, etc. are all equally real and ginuine. The non-believer however, always has to leave room for the possibility that the before mentioned is simply an illusion or part of a pre-programmed computer simulation. This prevents the non-believer from being able to fimly plant is boots in any arena. For is it not so that you cannot build upon any framework of knowledge if you cannot be positive the foundational apsects are even true? So it's not the the believer knows for certain he exists in an objective reality, its that the believer doesnt have to leave room for any other possibility which could falsify this belief. This enables the believer to obtain truth and knowledge. Simply by having the assurance that your own thoughts cannot have been manipulated, or the world around you must be accepted as real, enable you to seek further knowledge and truth. The non-believe however, remains stuck at level one. Never able to progress.
[[Perception is Reality]] - Ones perception is NOT proof that they exist in a true objective reality. For example, a guy high on crack might think he is flying on a dragon down the back of a golden eagle. But that's not Reality. That is only his perception of what's truly happening. In other words its not objectively real. His perception of reality was just a subjective illusion. The truth is that he was actually being pushed in a wheel chair down isle 6 at Walmart, while his mom tried to find him toothpaste.
[[Atheists claim to know what's real and what's not real]] - The atheist can assert that they are living in an objective reality and wholeheartedly believe that they exist as part of one. However, based on their worldview, no matter what they assert or what they believe, they must always leave room for the possibility of this being undermined. They have no basis or grounds to firmly plant their feet on any assumption. At a moments notice, everything they think they know can be completely washed away. That's the difference between atheists and theists. We have a foundation for our belief that our lives are real, that our universe is real, that our experiences are real, that the world around us is real, etc. God provides us with this foundation to understand, accept, and enjoy, feel comfort, and explore such truths. While the atheist has to say, "We think we exist in an objective reality, but it's possible all this is fake. Even my thoughts, my children, my relationships, my memories. It could all be fake."
[[Some reality exists, because this reality has laws that apply to US and WE have to obey them]]
Firstly, it's important to remember that the atheist cannot presuppose he exists in order to prove he exists. This is circular reasoning. Notice the statement says, reality has laws which apply to US, and WE have to obey them...Before an atheist makes such a claim, they would have to prove that US and WE really exist. They cannot, because from the atheist worldview that's simply something you cannot prove. They may exist in some fashion, but not in the fashion they are assuming is objectively real.
Secondly and more to the point, just because you perceive this reality and it appears that you are contrained by its laws, this doesn't mean you are therefore existing in a true objective reality. It could be the case that when the alien turns off the power button to his video game you disappear and so does the world around you. In essence this be considered then a subjective or false reality that never truly existed, since it vanished when the game was turned off, yet it was created and played from a true objective reality (where the alien exists). For what are we to say when the alien simply increases the strength of gravity one day, but he only does it for the character he is using in the game (you). Your subjective reality seems to suddenly be altered. You are being pulled to the ground by a stronger gravity, but everyone else is uneffected. Now what if suddenly everyone on Earth is no longer bound by any laws. In essence the alien went into SETTINGS and made it so there were no laws at all. None by which we obey and none that apply. What effect would this have on proving some reality exists? If laws prove some reality exists, does having no laws prove no reality exists? This sounds absurd. As the alien could simply apply laws and un-apply them as he felt necessary and it still not change the fact that some reality exists that was pre-programmed in a distant galaxy.
[[Just because you have to leave room for the possibility that you dont exist in a true Objective Reality, doesn't mean you don't know anything]] - This statement is 100% false. Let me explain. IF you can't be sure you exist in a true objective reality, then you can't know that you yourself are real (in the fashion you assume), OR THAT ANY of your experiences, thoughts, perceptions , or the world around you is real. THEREFORE YOU CANNOT really know anything at all. For Example: SOMEONE who cannot be certain if they exist in a true objective reality CANNOT KNOW IF THE HIGGS BOSON IS REAL, or if the moon is real, or if Mike Tyson really bit Evander Hollyfields ear. There is nothing that a non-believer can know, because he cannot even know that his reality is objectively true or that his thoughts are his own.
[[False Dichotomy]] - ORA presents no false dichotomy because, either a person has to leave roo for the POSSIBILITY that they do NOT exist in a true objective reality, or they do not. There are no other choices. It would be like me saying my name is Chad or it's not Chad. It's not a false dichotomy unless someone can present a third option. Secondly I want to remind everyone that technically you don't need to prove this is not a false dichotomy. That's the axiomatic logical rule of an excluded third. You prove by logic, you don't prove logic. Logic is axiomatic, it's the proper way of reasoning about things. Logic is a given, anyone who denies it and who doesn't think logically, is an irrational person. Logic is not open to debate, it is that by which debates are done.
[[God could be different than you imagine him to be]] - The point of this rebuttal is to say that if God reveals himself, and has different qualities or attributes than the ones I have ascribed to, then my views would change...First of all THE GOD I WORSHIP AND HAVE DEFINED CANNOT CHANGE OR BE PROVEN NOT TO EXIST (even by the revealing of some other being who claims to be GOD)...FOR EXAMPLE GOD IS NECESSARILY, all powerful, all knowing, eternal, IMMATERIAL, Unchanging, TIMELESS, SUPERNATURAL, etc...ITS NOT BECAUSE I HAVE CHOSEN TO DEFINE HIM WITH these FUNDAMENTAL PROPERTIES, ITS BECAUSE THATS WHAT HE MUST necessarily BE...The God which I worship cannot BE DIFFERENT THAN I believe him to be. THEREFORE MY VIEWS AND FOUNDATION WOULD NEVER CHANGE. I CAN PROVE THIS with various SCENARIOS and example...THUS THIS ISNT A VALID REBUTTAL TO THE ARGUMENT......Secondly, this would not change the fact that I, as a believer, was still able to accept objective reality. A being (Who claimed to be God) still created the universe and reality, and therefore I was still real, my thoughts were mine, as were all my experiences. Thirdly, if God came back and had different attributes than I invisioned this would disprove atheism in itself and thus my argument would no longer be needed.
[[Solvitur ambulando]] - Solvitur ambulando is a latin term which means - 1.) The problem is solved by getting up and walking away. 2.) The problem is solved by a practical experiment. Someone may claim that simply by 'getting up and walking away' that they would be providing proof that objective reality would is real. This is not true because for the atheist, as we have already discussed, he is bound to the progression of science. The atheist cannot even know if he himself is real, if his existence and experiences are real, or if he is just a video game character being played by an alien in some distant galaxy. For the atheist, at a moments notice everything he thinks to be true can be washed away. Similary for the atheist of course, since he cannot be sure that he is real, he cannot be sure that the person getting up and walking away is real. This rebuttal fails.
FINAL NOTES -
Atheists have to leave room for the possibility that they may NOT exist in true objective reality...They have to assume that each individual constitutes reality for himself (subjectively), so that there is no trans-subjective truth about the way the world is. On this view, the popular expression “It may be true for you, but it is not true for me” is a common theme. This attitude is patently absurd: whether we believe the stove burner is on or not, if we put our hand on it and it is on, we shall be burned. It’s objectively true that the burner is hot, regardless of our subjective attitude toward it. Similarly, there were surely events going on before I was born which are entirely independent of me or my views: The Packers won the 1967 Super-bowl, the era of galaxy formation, the age of the dinosaurs, and so forth. According to atheism there is no objective reality; there is no overarching way the world is. The atheist cannot be certain of any truths or objective reality because they have no foundation. They are bound to the progression of science and nothing more. The believer on the other hand ascribes to God, who is in a privileged position as the knower of all truth. He stands, as it were, at the pinnacle of the pyramid of diverse perspectives on the world and in the unity of His intellect grasps the world as it is. There is thus on the Christian perspective a unity to truth and reality which is known by God.
American philosopher Richard Rorty says that truth is whatever my colleagues will let me get away with. Since you and I have different colleagues, truth is pluralistic because your colleagues may not let you get away with the same things my colleagues let me get away with. Reacting to Rorty’s view, philosopher Alvin Plantinga writes, Although this view is very much au courant and with-it in the contemporary intellectual world, it has consequences that are peculiar, not to say preposterous. For example, most of us think that the Chinese authorities did something monstrous in murdering those hundreds of young people in Tiananmen Square, and then compounded their wickedness by denying that they had done it. On Rorty’s view, however, this is an uncharitable misunderstanding. What the authorities were really doing, in denying that they had murdered those students, was something wholly praiseworthy: they were trying to bring it about that the alleged massacre never happened. For they were trying to see to it that their colleagues would let them get away with saying that the massacre never happened; that is, they were trying to make it true that it never happened; and who can fault them for that? The same goes for those contemporary neo-Nazis who claim that there was no holocaust; from a Rortian view, they are only trying to see to it that such a terrible thing never happened; and what could be more commendable than that? This way of thinking has real possibilities for dealing with poverty and disease: if only we let each other get away with saying that there isn’t any poverty and disease--no cancer or AIDS, let’s say--then it would be true that there isn’t any; and if it were true that there isn’t any, then of course there wouldn’t be any.
The serious point of Plantinga’s satirical critique is its exposing the truly sinister nature of Radical Pluralism. Since there is no objective truth, reality is what those in authority make it to be. In the absence of truth, there is nothing to check the unbridled will to power.
If that weren't bad enough, “Each individual constitutes reality,” so that there is no objective reality; but that is itself a statement about objective reality. It states that the proposition “Truth is pluralistic” is objectively true, which is self-refuting. The atheist cannot escape this incoherence by saying that it is only from his perspective that there is no objective truth about the world. For if that is true only from his perspective, that does not preclude that there is objective truth about the world, in which case his perspective is objectively false.
Unless you know everything or know someone who knows everything, you cant know anything! Nothing at all!! For the logical people of this planet, that right there should prove to you that God is real...He's proving to you he is the way to truth, yet you still deny him?
Atheist - "I believe my thoughts exist, but because they may not be my own, or may be a product of a pre-programmed computer simulation, I really can't know."
Christian- "Unlike atheism, my worldview does NOT force me to admit that I could be wrong about everything I think you know...Including my thoughts, or the reality I exist in."