an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

Jason Petersen: A Challenge

Here’s a challenge to Jason Petersen – stop badmouthing me on your various risible blogs and Facebook pages, and man up for a Skype debate. 

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7 thoughts on “Jason Petersen: A Challenge

  1. Ydemoc on said:

    Hi Alex,

    I hope all is well.

    On the topic of Jason Peterson, I thought you might be interested in this:

    A few weeks back, someone over on Dawson’s blog dropped in and provided a link to someone who was attempting to refute the axioms of existence, consciousness, and identity. So I ventured on over, only to discover that it was Jason Peterson’s blog.

    Upon my posting of what you will read below, Jason Peterson’s blog entry was no longer available — and they never did publish this comment. Nor did they publish a follow-up comment to his cohort, Ben, which I have also posted below.


    Hello Jason,

    You make some very interesting statements in your above blog entry.

    You write: “..but consciousness provides no foundation for epistemology for other assumptions beyond consciousness must be made. ”

    I see. So the widest of all abstractions, that which subsumes everything that is, was, or will be, including every action, attribute, relation, etc., (including consciousness), “has no epistemological benefit”? And “the faculty of awareness — the faculty of perceiving that which exists” (Rand) provides “no foundation for epistemology”?

    Could you then please tell me how anyone could have any knowledge at all — let alone a theory of knowledge — without something which exists, along with a faculty capable of being aware of it? In other words, how can you even form any concept which would inform such epistemology, without:

    A) Existence (an axiomatic concept, answering the question, “Knowledge of **what**?”)

    B) reasoning, thought, observation, learning, concepts, etc. — all actions of consciousness, i.e., the axiomatic concept “consciousness” (answering the question **Knowledge** of what?”)

    C) Identity, i.e., if something exists (existence), then some **thing** exists (identity); it is what it is, A is A.

    “Inherent in any man’s grasp of any object is the recognition, in some form, that: there is something I am aware of. There is — existence; something — identity; I am aware of — consciousness. ” (Leonard Peikoff)

    So when you say, “There is nothing that we have stated that commits the stolen concept fallacy,” well, you couldn’t be more mistaken, for your blog entry — indeed your entire worldview — is chocking in stolen concepts.

    Do you even have a grasp of what a “stolen concept” is? Your hasty denial above gives no indication that you do.

    Perhaps I’ll address more of your blog entry later. In the meantime, here’s a link that may better inform you as to where I’m coming from. By some of the links on your blogroll (Sye in particular), you may already be familiar with the the auther and his material (but given your interaction above, it’s difficult for me to come to that conclusion). His name is Dawson Bethrick:

    Anyway, the following is his nine-part series:

    RazorsKiss on the Christian God as the Basis of Knowledge

    Here is Dawson’s interaction with what Dustin Segers has to say about the primacy of existence:

    And here is a link to all of Dawson’s blog entries in his multi-series “Answering Dustin Segers” on: The Nature of Truth, Logic, The Uniformity of Nature, The Problem of Induction, Objective Morality, and Collectivism, Evil and Slavery.




    Hello Ben,

    As perhaps you’re aware, a few days ago (or has it been a week?) I posted a response to Jason Peterson’s blog entry, “A Very Brief Critique on An Objection to Presuppositional Apologetics.”

    Not only did my comment not post, but now, (at least the last time I checked), the entire blog entry has, apparently, been taken down — or perhaps it’s just been moved? Is it available elsewhere on your website?

    Granted, there is a webcache version available here: Yet on your actual site, whenever I go to the URL for the original blog entry, I get a “Not Found, Error 404” message.

    Your taking it down (if that’s what happened) is, of course, your business (or Jason’s). As a champion of property rights, I would never challenge your (or Jason’s) right to publish (or not) whatever it is that you see fit to publish; nor would I ever accuse you of “censorship,” for I consider that particular concept applicable only in reference to governmental policies and actions, and not to the actions or views of private individuals. So you will not hear cries of censorship from me — no whining about curtailing my “freedom of speech” because you did not publish what I wrote, for I view freedom of speech as including the right not to listen and/or not to give a platform to anyone — including to those with whom one disagrees.

    However, I am curious (if, in fact, you even know) why Jason Peterson’s blog entry was taken down and/or why my comment wasn’t published. I understand that neither you nor Jason owe me an explanation, and I acknowledge that any answer you give would only be as a courtesy to me on your part, (as would your answering *any* question or publishing *any* comment of mine). That being said, would you mind telling me why this occurred? Did it have anything to do with my correcting him on his treatment and understanding (or lack thereof) of the axiomatic concepts “existence,” “consciousness” and “identity”? Did the removal of this particular entry have anything to do with Jason’s assertion that “[t]here is nothing that we have stated that commits the stolen concept fallacy”? — a statement which not only flies in the face of the facts, but is one made by someone who, by making it, exhibits a complete lack of understanding of what the “Stolen Concept” fallacy even is! Are these some of the reasons you took down the blog entry?

    While fully realizing that the comments which I’m currently crafting may also end up like my last, i.e., unpublished, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to present to you some material that addresses your blog entry above — if for nothing else than to further integrate material I’m already familiar with. Should you, Jason, or anyone else choose to read the following comments in part or in full and/or publish them, well, then that would be just icing on the cake — for me.

    When I saw the title of your blog entry, “The Nature of Reason,” I thought that I would at least find some description or definition of what “reason” is. However, when I read it, I failed to find anything approaching a definition or description, neither from any secular source nor from any Christian apologist. And, even though I did go to the link you supplied, this was unhelpful too, as it was a book which required a purchase — something I’m not prepared to do at the moment.

    (By the way, do you know where in the bible might I find anything that speaks **directly** to the faculty of reason? To concepts and how they’re formed? To perception? To how definitions are secured, etc.? Where does the bible directly address the concern for guarding against epistemologically confusing one’s imagination with reality? [Dawson Bethrick] Where does it speak directly to the issue of metaphysical primacy, i.e., the proper orientation in the subject-object relationship? Where in the bible can I find a theory of knowledge? Any direct discussion about the nature of consciousness? Anything about induction? Anything about the problem of universals? Etc.?)

    In any event, since nothing in your blog entry sheds any light on the nature of the concept “reason,” I offer you something that might, (I know that it did for me)…

    The following excerpt does not come from the bible, nor does it come from any apologetic source; instead, it comes from Leonard Peikoff’s book, Objectivism: The Philosopy of Ayn Rand (p. 152-153; p.145-146,

    ‘Reason,’ in Ayn Rand’s definition, is ‘the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.’ Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, “The Objectivist Ethics,” p. 20. Or, as we may now expand it: reason is the faculty that enables man to discover the nature of existents — by virtue of its power to condense sensory information in accordance with the requirements of an objective mode of cognition. Or: reason is the faculty that organizes perceptual units in conceptual terms by following the principles of logic. This formulation highlights the three elements essential to the faculty: its data, percepts; its form, concepts; its method, logic.

    Is reason, so defined, a valid means of cognition? Does it bring man knowledge of reality? The question reduces to: are the senses valid? are concepts valid? is logic valid? To these questions, the answer has already been given. [i.e., in the previous chapters of the book]

    Reason is the faculty which begins with facts (sensory data); which organizes these data in accordance with facts (the mathematical relationships among concretes); and which is guided at each step by rules that rest on the fundamental fact (the law of identity). The rules require that each cognition be reduced back to the facts one started with. In regard to reason’s every element and aspect, from matter to form to method and from start to finish, one conclusion is inescapable: reason is the existence-oriented faculty.

    ‘Why should I accept reason?’ means: ‘Why should I accept reality?’ The answer is that existence exists, and only existence exists. Man’s choice is either to accept reason or to consign his consciousness and life to a void.

    One cannot seek a proof that reason is reliable, because reason is the faculty of proof; one must accept and use reason in any attempt to prove anything. But, using reason, one
    can identify its relationship to the facts of reality and thereby validate the faculty.”

    With this excerpt firmly in mind, let’s examine a claim you make in your blog entry above…

    Near the end of it, you write: “Their [unbelievers] only justification is using their reason to justify their reason which is a viciously circular argument.”

    Although I cannot speak for the epistemological methods or the particular worldview of the unbelievers you refer to in your blog entry, I can state, (and as the Piekoff excerpt makes clear) that: Objectivism does not suffer from this oft-heard prepositional charge of “viciously circular” or “reasoning in a circle.”

    You may be thinking: “Wait, what?! How can that be?!” If this is indeed your thinking, then perhaps Dawson Bethrick’s treatment of a similar charge made by presuppositional apologist, D.A.N., (AKA, Dan Marvin, from Debunking Atheists), might help.

    In Dawson’s blog entry, A Lesson on Presuppositional Gimmickry,
    (, Dawson weighs in on exchange that occurred over on D.A.N’s blog, where a commenter by the name Pvblivs wrote: “Knowledge is obtained through observation and reasoning,”

    And D.A.N. responded: “Did you use your senses and reasoning to come to that conclusion? Again, is it viciously circular to employ your senses and reasoning to validate your senses and reasoning?”

    Before I present Dawson’s direct response to D.A.N.’s inquiries, here are a few preliminary questions and comments which will, hopefully, expose the ridiculousness of D.A.N.’s line of questioning:

    Is perceiving an object, circular? Does one argue his way to perceiving, say, a tomato? Where is the inference from some prior non-sensory (or nonsensical) knowledge? Or how about when you feel the warmth sunshine? Where is the argument, a requirement for “vicious circularity” to even obtain, when you watch and hear a bee buzz around? Where are the premises when you listen to music? Stub your toe? Taste a melon? Smell a fresh, baked pie? Where is any argument or premise in grasping the fact that one is perceiving all these things? What premise is being affirmed in an argument that assumes the truth of its own conclusion? Etc. Where is the “viscous circularity” in all this?! (Credit: Dawson Bethrick)

    As Dawson points out in a different blog entry, On the Validity of the Senses, in which he also deals with D.A.N. regarding the same issues, “…’vicious circularity’ is a fallacy that occurs in some poorly formed deductive proofs. But since not all forms of validation are of the deductive proof variety, but may in fact consist of simply pointing to the facts which assure that something is the case, not all forms of validation are susceptible to the problem that apparently worries [D.A.N] (at least in the context of the present area of inquiry).

    More to the point, we do not have to prove the validity of the senses. Peikoff explains why (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 39; [asterisks Ydemoc’s, in place of original italics]):

    ‘The validity of the senses is an axiom. Like the fact of consciousness, the axiom is outside the province of proof because it is precondition of any proof.

    Proof consists in reducing an idea back to the data provided by the senses. These data themselves, the foundation of all subsequent knowledge, precede any process of inference. They are the primaries of cognition, the unchallengeable, the **self-evident**.’

    Thus, to answer D.A.N.’s question, any attempt to prove the validity of the senses by means of a deductive argument would itself have to assume their validity, and in this sense such an argument could be said to be circular. But the broader take-away here is the fact that since the validity of the senses is axiomatic, no one needs to prove that the senses are valid in the first place. One can only be rightly accused of engaging in circular reasoning in the present context if he is attempting to infer the validity of the senses by means of a formal proof. Since proof as such presupposes the validity of senses, such an undertaking is unnecessary. I already know this, and that is why D.A.N. will not be able to find any instance in my writings where I am attempting to conclude that the senses are valid by means of a deductive proof. Even if he did, this would not undermine either the validity of the senses or the overall soundness of my worldview, which does not depend in the least on a formal proof of the validity of the senses.”

    To further drive the point home, a little later in the same blog entry, Dawson offers this: “Moreover, as NAL, a visitor to my blog, pointed out…

    ‘It is not circular to use your sense of touch to validate your sense of sight.’

    This is a truth which any child grasps on the implicit level of knowledge, and yet it is very handy in quelling skeptical arguments when it is identified explicitly. A child sees a toy in front of her. She reaches her hand out and grabs it. First she perceives it visually, then she perceives it tactilely. The latter experience confirms the validity of the former experience. The toy may even have a fragrance, such as Play-Doh right out of the package. This would be a third form of perceptual experience confirming the validity of the other two. Thus, collectively, the senses are self-validating, and in a non-circular way to boot.” (To read the complete blog entry, please visit:

    So now, let’s revisit the questions that D.A.N. posed. Recall that he had asked: “Did you use your senses and reasoning to come to that conclusion? Again, is it viciously circular to employ your senses and reasoning to validate your senses and reasoning?”

    (Let me ask you, Ben: If you’ve carefully read and grasped what I’ve just presented to you thus far, aren’t you now struck by how misguided D.A.N.’s questions actually are? Aren’t they at least beginning to ring a little hollow?)

    In any event, I now present to you just a small portion of Dawson’s direct response to D.A.N.’s questions:

    Dawson writes: “D.A.N.’s first question essentially asks: ‘Did you use your mind to come to that conclusion?’ Apparently D.A.N. thinks it’s fallacious to use one’s senses and reasoning to come to conclusions; he therefore must think that using one’s mind to come to conclusions is also fallacious. The only consistent outcome for D.A.N.’s worldview then would to retreat into utter mindlessness, for any alternative according to assumptions implicit in D.A.N.’s interrogative program would result in fallacy…

    …[T]o make things worse, D.A.N. does not know what reason is. And he doesn’t know what reason is because his worldview does not teach him what reason is… [Indeed! Again, where in the bible can we learn about “reason”? Where does it directly address the nature of this faculty?]

    Reason is the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses. And in my blog answering D.A.N., I have already identified the facts which assure us of the axiomatic validity of the senses. We perceive things. This is rationally undeniable. We also have the ability to form concepts on the basis of what we perceive. This too is rationally undeniable. D.A.N.’s own apologetic must implicitly assume the truth of these facts in order to goad other minds into calling them into question. And yet, if we identify these fundamental facts explicitly and acknowledge their proper place in the knowledge hierarchy (i.e., at its foundation), it becomes more and more evident that D.A.N.’s entire apologetic hinges on an entire series of stolen concepts.

    Simple questions can be used to tease this out. For example, ask D.A.N.: Is it fallacious for a thinker merely to be aware of things? Is it fallacious for a thinker merely to perceive objects? Is it fallacious for a thinker to use his own mind to think and draw conclusions based on what he perceives? If so, what fallacy is he committing? If D.A.N. wants to say it’s “viciously circular,” then he clearly does not understand what the fallacy of circular reasoning is. As I pointed out in my previous blog, circularity is a fallacy involved in deductive arguments. Merely perceiving objects is not an instance of circular reasoning or any other fallacy. Identifying what one perceives by means of concepts is not an instance of circular reasoning or any other fallacy. So already we should see that by relying on reasoning, we’re off to a good – i.e., non-fallacious – start. If D.A.N. concedes that none of these activities is fallacious, then what is the problem? Blank out.”

    That should be enough for you to chew on for a while.

    But just in case it’s not, I’ll leave you with this: An exchange Dawson had back in 2011 with presuppositionalism’s hero du jour, Sye Ten Bruggencate:

    Dawson wrote: “Using reason to identify objects is not circular.”

    Sye writes: “No, but trusting its accuracy in the identification process with which you try to justify its accuracy is.”

    Dawson wrote: “Using reason to identify the operation… …is not circular.”

    Sye responded: “No, but trusting its accuracy in the identification process with which you try to justify its accuracy is.”

    Dawson responds: “Good. At least now you acknowledge that my epistemological methodology is in fact not circular. I’m glad I could finally help you see this. But I’m guessing you’ll put it safely out of your mind so that you can continue to use your fallacious apologetic which trades on denying what you’ve just admitted.”

    The exchange has been condensed for readability, (e.g., removing other in-between comments, date and time stamps, etc.) but there it is, right there from the horses mouth!: Using reason to identify objects is not circular! Here’s the thread if you’d like to check it out yourself, as there are quite a few other interesting things Dawson has to say on the matter:

    So, Ben, the only question now is, not whether you (and/or Jason) have the courage to publish what I’ve just presented to you, but whether or not you have the guts to read it, understand it, and not do as D.A.N and Sye have done and evade the implications it has for your worldview.




    Thanks in advance for letting me post this, Alex.


  2. Ydemoc on said:

    Hi Alex,

    I hope all is well.

    A few minutes ago I tried to post a comment, but when I clicked on “Post Comment,” it sent me to a new page, but my comment had not been published.

    I didn’t want to try again, out of concerns over posting the same comment twice. My comment was really, really long. Do you think that could be the issue? If so, I can always break it up and post it in parts.



  3. Let me check the spam filters

  4. Ydemoc on said:


    It now appears that Jason Peterson has commented on my response to his denial of the axioms. You can find his reply, here:

    Or here:

    I plan to present a response at some point in the future.


  5. So far nothing?

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