Saturday, July 22, 2017

Who Follows the Evidence, And Who Doesn't?


Victor Reppert thinks that if materialism is true, there can be no logic and no "laws of evidence".  And therefore, the claims of materialistic atheists - that they base their beliefs on logic and evidence - are self-refuting.

In my previous post, I agreed with John Loftus that people like Victor Reppert are ignorant of the arguments or philosophical stances of naturalists.  Victor is fond of pointing out what he thinks are logical inconsistencies in the beliefs of atheists and naturalists.  His argument typically takes this form:
1. Naturalists believe A, and they believe B.
2. But A is logically incompatible with B.
3. Therefore, naturalists belief in both A and B is illogical or incoherent.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Reppert on Culpable Ignorance


In a recent piece at his blog, Victor Reppert takes issue with John Loftus for saying that he was ignorant regarding the question of what it takes to convince atheists of God's existence.  This is a topic that I have already commented about here.  A few days later, Loftus also responded to Reppert in a somewhat different manner.  The thrust of his argument was that he had already answered the question in detail, but Reppert refuses to read it.  So, like other defenders of the faith, Victor is arguing from a position of ignorance.  If only they understood atheists' claims about evidence and skepticism, they would surely realize that their complaints about atheists' unwillingness to accept evidence for belief in God are unfounded.  And I must say, I agree with Loftus on this.  Victor simply doesn't listen to what we have to say.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Soteriological Drama


It is interesting to see the stories people make up about why their supposedly maximally good and loving God would allow so much evil, pain, and suffering in the world.  These stories, known as "theodicies", are an attempt to explain away our observations of the world in the face of apparently contradictory assumptions about the qualities of God.  Most of them try to make the case that it's all for our own good - that we need all these bad things in our lives in order to build or prove our character, so that we God can know we are worthy of spending eternity basking in his presence.  But every theodicy I have ever heard sounds like a just-so story   It provides an unlikely explanation that might be fascinating to a child, but doesn't stand up to any serious scrutiny, either from an evidential or logical perspective.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Reppert Responds to My Challenge


A while back, I wrote an article titled Heads I Lose, Tails You Win, in which I complained that theists try to paint naturalists as being unreasonable because they would never accept any evidence of a supernatural being or event as a genuine indication that something supernatural actually exists.  Naturalists have offered many examples of things that, if they were actually able to witness such a thing, would be convincing to them.    But no matter what they say, the theists' response is always to deny that the naturalist would really be convinced by it.  For the naturalist who is attempting to be reasonable and provide an honest answer to the question "What would it take to convince you?", the situation amounts to "Heads I Lose, Tails You Win".  There is absolutely nothing he can say that would be taken as a reasonable answer by theists like Reppert.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Reppert Still Denying Science


Victor Reppert has made yet another attempt on his blog to justify his thinking in support of his defense of the Argument From Reason (AFR).  It follows basically the same line of reasoning that he has used again and again, this time put into a fairly concise summary.  The thing is, his argument and particularly this line of reasoning has been rebutted, and a number of people have offered their sage advice to Victor: learn some science before you state what can or can't happen in a naturalistic world.  That advice has gone unheeded.

Monday, July 3, 2017

I Am a Fundamentalist


We often hear religionists accusing atheists of having religious fervor for their naturalist metaphysical views and the attendant empiricist epistemology.  Of course, religionists don't ever criticize these philosophical views directly.  You don't ever hear them say "You are militant naturalist", or "You adhere religiously to your empiricism, despite all the evidence."  But they do say those things about atheism, which seems a little silly to me, because atheism is a direct consequence of those philosophical views.  But religionists are apparently less inclined to criticize legitimate philosophical views, perhaps because they understand that their own philosophical underpinnings are on no more solid footing than those of the atheists.  But atheism, in its own right, is not a philosophy, although it is, in some sense, on a par with religion.  You believe in God or you don't.  If atheists can mock religious beliefs, then why shouldn't religionists mock atheism?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sitting On Both Sides of the Fence


Christians are all over the map when it comes to their feelings about science.  They don't want to be seen as science deniers, but many of them are uncomfortable with the idea that science doesn't support theistic beliefs.  Some openly express their contempt for science.  These people are not representative of the majority of Christians.  Others say they have no problem whatsoever with science, and even proudly claim credit on behalf of religion for the early development of science.  But ask them what they think of scientists, their view is decidedly less friendly.  They often point out that science is incapable of detecting or determining the existence of God, so a broader view is needed, and that's why scientism is fundamentally wrong, in their view.  Science alone can't be used confirm theistic beliefs, so it must be lacking the epistemological power needed by theists to feel justified in believing despite the lack of empirical evidence.  Still others dishonestly pervert the practice of science to promote their religion.  Probably the best examples of this are "creation science" and "intelligent design", where theists employ methods and language that sound "sciency", but don't follow scientific method, and then dishonestly claim that science leads to the inescapable conclusion that God (or some other powerful agent) is responsible for making the living things we observe in our world.

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.