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Tom Jump’s Physicalism of the Gaps

by Cyrus Wardly
Tom Jump’s Physicalism of the Gaps

Here at Walking Christian we have already produced a fair amount of content that deals with Tom Jump in one way or another. But after a recent facebook post I had some tangential thoughts that I wanted to put down. So at the risk of being accused of either being obsessed with the man or beating a dead horse, let’s take a look at a fallacy Tom Jump commits but doesn’t seem capable of seeing. 

If you do not hang around the YouTube apologetics scene you may have missed the frustrating antics of Mr. Tom Jump. Tom Jump (TJump on YouTube) is a self appointed internet philosopher who thinks he’s cracked epistemology in a deeper and more meaningful way than the last few thousand years of deep thinkers. His website claims that he didn’t set out to wage a war against Christianity but his unique epistemology just happens to touch on every aspect of the Philosophy of religion. So to try and get some ‘street cred’ as it were, Jump has taken to challenging a great diversity of apologists, some of whom are even well known and respected such as Dr. Michael Brown, Trent Dougherty and even Kwaku El the new face of Mormonism.

I first became aware of Tom Jump when he challenged my Walking Christian colleague and friend Gil Sanders to a dialogue/debate on the topic of Reasons to Believe in God from the Thomistic perspective. The conversation was infuriating to watch as Gil gave a version of Thomas Auinas’ argument from change. Tom Jump challenges the very fundamental elements of basic life. I have said on record in our debate after the show and I will continue to say that there is no way Tom Jump can be consistent with this radical skepticism. If he applied this same method to real life, he’d never get out of bed in the morning because he’d be questioning if the bed even existed. Nevertheless he thinks it helps him avoid being accountable for his sins so he adopts a scorched earth policy and destroys everything humanity knows about the world around us. In their conversation instead of dealing with any of Gil’s argument, the conversation became “change isn’t real” for nearly two hours.

I recently for the first time had my own encounter with Jump on social media. This was no more than a few comments but I think I noticed something that I am not sure anyone else has. A Few days prior to this writing a facebook friend (who will not be named) made this post tagging Tom Jump.

ORIGINAL POSTER18 April at 12:34
Tom Jump What experiment do you do to distinguish physical neurons from non-physical neurons?


Jump responded in these words.

Tom Jump
you need to learn how predictions work…
assume mind is physical
Make any prediction about anything
If prediction right consistently and repeatedly and can make more predictions…
Thas evidence of mind is physical brains.
you dont need to prove physicalism only make predictions that are right

The debate in this thread is over whether or not the mind (soul) is independent of the body or if the physical brain is all there is to human consciousness. For more of my thoughts on this matter (pun intended) I invite any reader to take a look at part 2 of our series on demonology where I attempt to give a Biblical and ontological account of what the soul and spirit beings are. 

Several others jumped in (pun intended, pun always intended) with arguments and resources. In particular out-of-body experiences were being discussed as evidence for the mind being a separate thing from the brain. Over and over again Tom Jump can only say “good then you can convince the scientific community… till then gl with that

Then someone makes this comment.

Commenter
Tom Jump Science can’t differentiate between dualism and physicalism because even if a prediction of physicalism was disconfirmed by current science, you would just claim future science will be consistent with physicalism

To which I add my own response.

Isaac Farley
Physicalism of the gaps. Nice

For anyone who may not know, nonbelievers often accuse Christians of committing what is called the God of the Gaps Fallacy. If science can’t explain something then that gap can be filled in by saying, “God did it.” Such as, we have a theory of evolution to explain how life on earth became diversified in a physicalistic way but there is not currently a consensus theory on how life began to exist (called abiogenesis) so many people will claim God created life and that is its explanation. The contention is that we fill-in the gaps by suggesting God, but eventually science will understand everything. Scientists and naturalists believe that with enough time we will eventually discover a natural explanation for everything which we used to give credit to God for.

I’m flipping this argument on its head and accusing Tom Jump of an unjustified belief in Physicalism by saying, “we haven’t proved physicalism yet but we will.”

Jump replies to my comment with this one.

Tom Jump
Isaac Farley there is no such thing as physicalism of the gaps, its just induction.
Its only an X of the gaps, if X has never been demonstrated to exist

I think Mr. Jump missed the point of my comment. Maybe I also missed his point as well, I leave that determination up to the reader. This is how the exchange played out after.

Isaac Farley
Physicalism has yet to be shown. It can only be validated by presupposition.
Now go ahead and posit that future scientific discoveries will affirm your physical presuppositions.

Tom Jump
Isaac Farley its been demonstrated physical stuff exists… im holding a cup poof done
cant be a gaps argument anymore

Isaac Farley
If you’re saying “that physical things exist therefore materialism is fact.” Well then not only is that physicalism of the gaps it is also a non sequitur.

“Matter exists therefore matter is all that exists” This was the end of our micro-conversation but the plot thickens because spurred on by this event I took a look at more of Jump’s YouTube discussions and I found something interesting that further validates my accusation that he commits the Physicalism of the Gaps fallacy.

In a debate with AskYourself (who by the way is also named Isaac) from November of 2019 on the question of “Are There Moral Facts?” I was astounded to hear Tom Jump defending the idea that morality is objective. I sent Gil this message “Mon 17:39 Did you know tom jump believes in objective morality?????????”

This seemed like a bizarre opinion to me in particular because I am one who favors the presuppositional approach to apologetics (hence my comments above about the presuppositions). As in dialogue with unbelievers I most often point out that in a universe with no God, there can be no objective morality. Yet it is impossible to live as a consistent moral relativist. I have also adopted a little bit of William Lane Craig’s presentation of the Moral Argument with moral epistemology. So not only is it impossible to live as a consistent relativist but we all know in our hearts and conscious that good and evil are real. Stalin was wrong for murdering millions of people last century, and if we all died off and there were no humans left, Stalin would still have been wrong regardless if there were any humans left to judge his actions. Most of us do not understand why we believe in objective morality but we don’t have to know how we know something in order to know that we know something. 

Morality is a property of character. Said simply, if a room is empty, no persons in that room, then there is no morality in that room. Persons are moral, things are not. Trees do not have bravery, persons do. Clouds are not kind, persons are. So if morality exists, and is independent (objective) of what anyone thinks, then the logical conclusion is there is some person whose character is objectively good. Such a person would be the all good God who Christians believe in. 

What’s strange though is that Tom Jump does believe that morality can exist in an empty room. That somehow objective morality can be a trait of physical matter in some way shape or form. He believes moral laws exist in the same way that gravity is a law. UseofReason wrote a good analysis of Tom Jump’s moral theory, where this is is explained a little clearer. In the dialogue with AskYourself Jump states that he believes objective morality is embedded in some particle or wave or other physical aspect of the universe which we have yet to discover. 

That my friends is what we call Physicalism of the Gaps.

I mean this is just bananas. Mr. Jump recognizes that morality is objective (like the rest of the world, apart from psychopaths). But yet again to undermine the Biblical conclusion he posits somehow, that morality is a physical thing. Or is at least reducible to a physical explanation. What is this?

Anyway that was all I had to say on the matter. Please leave your own response to this in the comments.

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