Friday, June 23, 2017

Argument From Desire - Wishful Thinking


Ed Feser has made an interesting post on what he calls the "argument from desire", in which he rightly notes that there are different forms of the argument, and they aren't all successful.  Basically, the argument from desire, as commonly expressed by unsophisticated theists is not so much an argument for the existence of God as it is a reason for believing.  It is the acknowledgment that the idea of life coming to an end without any eternal reward or compensation for the pain endured while living in the physical world is depressing.  But according to Feser, if a more sophisticated form of the argument (ie, Thomistic) is considered, it may well be worthwhile.

Monday, June 19, 2017

What It Means To Be Indoctrinated


Ask any religionist if he has been indoctrinated, and he will swear that he hasn't.  The word 'indoctrination' is something that religionists recoil from.  It's something bad, and it's certainly not what they do to their children.  To them, indoctrination means something like brainwashing.  Like what the Soviets did to their citizens to turn them into loyal comrades, or what many Arabic nations do in their public schools to make them hate Jews.  But definitely not what happens in Sunday School.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Ground of Being


Have you ever heard the phrase "whispering sweet nothings"?  It usually applies to the utterances of someone who says things that sound pleasing but are insubstantial or meaningless, in an effort to flatter or woo his lover.  I have often heard descriptions of God that strike me as nothing more than starry-eyed adulation.  God isn't simply the finest example of every attribute the theist admires - love, goodness, wisdom, etc, etc, - he is identical to each of those attributes.  For example, he isn't merely the ultimate example of a loving person - God is love itself.  And he isn't just perfectly good at some particular endeavor such as morality - he is "essentially perfect", which means, I suppose, that in one fell swoop, the theist has granted God perfection in all endeavors.  He is the perfect provider, the perfect judge, disciplinarian, bowler - whatever you like - he's just the bestest and the mostest.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Heads I Lose, Tails You Win


What does it take to convince an atheist that God exists?  This question has been asked and answered again and again.  But no matter what reasonable response an atheist gives, it is automatically rejected by the religionists.  If an atheist suggests that some supernatural event would be convincing to him, that suggestion will be met with one of two possible responses from the religionist: either "That's unreasonable because you're asking to see something that is never going to happen" or "You wouldn't really accept that as being convincing because your own belief system doesn't allow it as a possibility".  The religionist will never simply take the atheist's answer at face value, because that would be tantamount to admitting that the atheist is being reasonable.  That's something religionists will never admit, regardless of how reasonable the atheist's position might actually be.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Moral Realism = Muddled Reasoning


It has long been my opinion that moral realists (aka theists) are confused about the difference between fact and opinion.  That's not surprising, because theists in general are confused about the difference between objective reality and fantasy.  They speak of God's existence as if it were an objective fact, like the existence of the table in front of me right now.  One might argue that it is only my perception of the table that makes me believe it exists, but that's not true.  I know the table exists as an objective fact because it impacts not only my perception, but it can be detected and measured by physical devices and instruments, as well as being seen and felt by other people.  Nobody says you have to believe first, and then you can see it.  It's there, and I can photograph it and weigh it.  Everyone can see it, regardless of whether they have a certain kind of mindset, or framework of beliefs.  That's the essence of objective reality.

Friday, June 2, 2017

"God Did It" Explains the Ethical Treatment of Slaves


Victor Reppert has pointed out a piece of apologetic fluffery that he sees as evidence that the biblical Yahweh raised the ethical level of the Hebrews above that of the rest of the world.  The article, found in the blog Cold-Case Christianity , discusses slavery in the biblical Hebrew culture, and makes the claim that under Mosaic law, the practice was humane and ethical, especially as compared to the form of slavery practiced in the New World in more recent times.  More on these claims later.  With this "evidence" in hand, Victor believes that the behavior of the Hebrews, as influenced by Yahweh's law, rose to an elevated standard of morality that couldn't be explained under naturalism, which he supposes would entail that people act only in their own self-interest.
You can call Yahweh a moral monster, but somehow, he managed a quantum leap forward in the moral consciousness of the Western world. Quite an accomplishment for the most unpleasant character in all fiction. ... I think these leaps are hard to explain naturalistically. - Reppert

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Reppert On the Scientism Bandwagon


Scientism has been a topic of considerable interest to me lately, mainly because I see it as a major battleground in the war on reason.  As with other monotheistic religions, Christianity has long been hostile to anything that would encroach on its ideology.  In a recognition of the logical absurdity of belief in the Christian mythos, Tertullian proclaimed that faith was incompatible with natural reason.  That attitude is still reflected today in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which places faith above reason as a matter of doctrine.  Most Christians today deny that they are opposed to reason, but when it comes down to matters of science or secular philosophy versus religion, there is no question that their sympathies lie on the side of faith.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Shadow To Light Doesn't See the Light


For some time now, I have noticed that Mikey at Shadow To Light makes the mistake of identifying social justice warriors (SJW) with atheism (as well as other demographic groups, such as transhumanists).  See here, for example.  This is rather remarkable, because the majority of SJWs are not atheists.  This is what Mikey said recently:
It’s good to see that New Atheists have begun to figure out how reality works.  For a long time now, I have criticized one of the central claims of the New Atheist movement, the notion that if we could only get rid of religion, the world would be a much better place.  Not only was there no evidence to support this belief (which, ironically, was little more than faith), but the evidence we did have pointed in the other direction.  And what was that evidence?  The atheist community itself.  A crystal clear example of what I was talking about was Elevatorgate and the rage-filled rhetorical wars between the New Atheists and Social Justice atheists.  The existence of the Social Justice atheists, along with their power and influence, clearly showed there is no reason to believe that a world without religion would be any better than the one we have. - Shadow To Light
So Boghossian finally sees the light because he has criticized SJWs?  OK, the Elevatorgate debacle was an example of ridiculous behavior among SJWs who happen to be atheists.  But that whole episode just goes to show the absurd behavior of SJWs in general.  It says nothing at all about the broader atheist community, nor does it prove or disprove any claims about whether the world would be better off without religion.  Not surprisingly, Mikey fails to explain how he makes the logical link between atheist SJWs and the question of whether the world would be better off without religion.  (And incidentally, the idea that this is a "central claim" of New Atheism is just another of Mikey's lies.  There is no identifiable group called "New Atheists", much less a doctrine common to that group.)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Problem With Religionism


Shadow To Light recently posted a You-Tube video made by Jordan Peterson expounding The Problem With Atheism.  The point of Jordan's discussion is that, as Dostoyevski said, without God, anything is possible.  It is a repetition of the mindless religionist assertion that God serves as the ground of morality, and without that grounding, there is no rational basis for moral behavior.  So the logical consequence for atheists is a moral void.

Peterson claims that in the absence of God, it would be perfectly rational to base one's behavior purely on self-interest.  It would make sense to set aside any tendencies to act for the benefit of others, and instead do whatever benefits ourselves, even if that includes murder.  The thing that prevents us from behaving in the most rational self-interested way is what he calls "moral cowardice" - the moral inhibitions that result from being indoctrinated with religious beliefs.  So according to Peterson, without God, and without our religious moral indoctrination, everyone would be acting strictly out of self-interest.  The presumed consequence is that a functional society would be impossible to achieve.  And it is God that saves us from the abyss.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Philosophical Elitism on the March


Alvin Plantinga is widely regarded as a leading Christian apologist and philosopher of religion.  Perhaps his most notable philosophical contribution in the field of epistemology is his so-called "Reformed Epistemology", which holds that belief in God is justified without evidence or argument.  According to RE, belief in God is said to be properly basic, or foundational - the same as the axioms of logic or mathematics are considered to be properly basic beliefs that are universally accepted and require no justification.  Thus, RE constitutes a rational basis for belief in God, despite the utter lack of any objective evidence that would provide justification for an empiricist to believe.  A major difference between this and the properly basic beliefs of an empiricist epistemology is the fact that belief in God can be rationally denied without creating a problem of functionality or coherency in one's worldview.