Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thinking About Logic


I often wonder how a person who is trained in philosophy can be so utterly confused about logic.  It's not that they don't know the rules of logic, such as modus ponens, or that they are unable to apply those rules in a syllogism.  It doesn't take an education is philosophy to be able to construct an argument that follows the rules of logic.  Even an animal can reason something like this:  If I can unlatch the door, then I can escape.  But it does take a deeper level of understanding to be able to formally state what those logical rules are, and express them in symbolic terms.  The animal does not know that he us using modus ponens, despite the fact that he actually is using it in his primitive reasoning process.  But there are philosophers who don't see the distinction between using logic and thinking about logic.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Science Education And Reality


Victor Reppert has produced yet another stunning blog piece, called The authoritarianism of science education, that caught my attention because of its sheer ignorance.  It attempts to denigrate educational methods in science as being "authoritarian", and not "following the argument where it leads".  Here is the article in its entirety:
Science education is NOT an example of following the argument where it leads. If you do a chem lab and your results differ from those prescribed in the textbook, you are not to ask whether you  have made a new scientific discovery. No, you are asked to figure out where you made a mistake. - Reppert
I think it is worth commenting on this, not just to point out its ignorance, but because is illustrates the huge rift between scientific thinking and religious thinking, in general.  I'll get to that, but first, I need to explain why Victor is 100% wrong.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Slavery and Evolution


It is always sad to see Christians trying to make themselves seem intellectually or morally superior, but even more so when they attempt to use science to justify their smug haughtiness.  Sad, because this attitude is a violation of one of their Seven Deadly Sins (namely pride), which they blithely ignore, even as they go about touting how much better they are because of their Christian values and beliefs.  And sad, too, because they reject science whenever they see it as a threat to their belief system, but proudly claim credit for it when they think it will make them look better (as in their claim: It was Christians, not atheists, who invented science).  And then there's the misuse of science (or pseudo-science) in a vain attempt to show that their religious beliefs compare favorably to non-theistic scientific theories.  Perhaps the most notable example of this is ID science, which doesn't follow the methods of scientific investigation, but sounds kind of sciencey, and that's good enough for them.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Phil Torres - Voice of the Regressive Left


Phil Torres has expressed his displeasure with the "new atheist" movement, and announced that "today I want nothing whatsoever to do with it."  Sorry to see him go, but what exactly is he departing from?  What is this thing he calls a movement?  Is it the broad community of atheists?  That doesn't make much sense, because he's still part of that.  Is it the community of scientific-minded atheist skeptics?  My guess is that he still identifies as being aligned with them.  No, it seems to be a particular (but large) subset of atheists having political views that he takes issue with.  If you want to take a simplistic approach, and divide atheists into two camps on political grounds, you might draw a line between those who hold more traditional liberal views (which Torres calls "new atheists"), and those in the SJW camp (who are often called the "regressive left").  And my reaction to his announcement is: if you so vehemently disagree with their politics, what took you so long?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Trumpism as Religion


I am not the first to have the idea that followers of Donald Trump exhibit a religious devotion to the man, or that Trumpism really might be a religion.  As I read the news, and hear the daily stories about Trump's corruption, incompetence, and stupidity, I can't help but marvel at the irrational devotion of his followers.  He has a sufficient level of popular support that Republicans in congress don't feel the need to put an end to this horrific administration.  In fact, they fear they would risk their own seats in the halls of government if they should attempt to do so.  This is due in large part to constitutional restrictions on democracy that tend to give disproportional strength to the rural minority where much of Trump's political base comes from, and the increasing political fanaticism of that minority.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Christians Have No Concept of Religious Freedom


In a recent Senate confirmation hearing for one of Trump's political appointees, Bernie Sanders questioned the nominee about his vocal support for religious-based discrimination against non-Christians.  After receiving no assurances from the nominee that he would leave his hateful opinions behind while serving in an influential position in the federal government, Sanders said that he wouldn't support the nominee's appointment because he was "really not someone who this country is supposed to be about".  Queue the predictable Christian outrage against Sanders for his suppression of religious freedom.

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.