Thursday, October 29, 2015

On the Necessity of God

I read an interesting article by WL Craig regarding the necessity of God's existence.  Interesting, that is, because it makes what seems to be an obvious leap of logic to conclude that God exists necessarily.  Here is what he said:
So is it logically possible that God not exist? Not in the sense of metaphysical possibility! There is no strict logical contradiction in the statement "God does not exist," just as there is not a strict logical contradiction in saying "Jones is a married bachelor," but both are unactualizable states of affairs. Thus, it is metaphysically necessary that God exists.

We have here the germ of the ontological argument for God's existence. For if it is possible that God exists, there is a possible world in which God has necessary existence. But then He exists in every world, including this one. Thus, the atheist is thrust into the awkward position of having to say that God's existence is impossible. It is not enough to say that in fact God does not exist; the atheist must hold that it is impossible that God exists—a much more radical claim!
Let's break this down, shall we?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pinning Atrocities on Atheism

It seems to be a truism among Christians that the greatest atrocities in history were committed by atheists.  And not only that, but they are a consequence of atheism.  Many, if not most, Christians believe that atheism implies a lack of morality.  Prominent Christians like David Marshall endlessly repeat the assertion that atheism and Soviet-style Communism are essentially equivalent.  Even the crimes of the Nazis are blamed on atheistic beliefs.  These tropes are echoed so often by Christians that most of them are convinced that they're true.  It is interesting to note that they follow the the playbook of the Nazi Propagandists.  As Joseph Goebbels is thought to have said, "If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What's the Deal With New Atheists?

Christians these days are sounding the rallying cry against "new atheists".  They are waging a pitched battle against them, turning everything they say into a grossly distorted straw man, and making them out to be dishonest, hateful, immoral, and even dangerous.  Where does all this antipathy come from?

A few years ago, I decided to enter the fray of discussion with religious believers in an attempt to learn more about their beliefs, and to understand why they believe what they do.  I quickly earned the label of "gnu".  It was a term that I had never heard before, and I wondered what distinguishes a "gnu" from other atheists.  I have been asking that question ever since, but I never got any kind of satisfactory answer from the theists.  But after all this time, and many arguments and discussions, the real answer is evident.

Monday, October 19, 2015

How Do Liberty and Equality Arise?

There is no end to the ridiculous claims made by Christian apologists.  We've heard the argument before that Christianity is responsible for the rise of science, despite the fact that when science was starting to emerge from the shadows of religious orthodoxy in the late middle ages, the church did everything in its power to suppress it.  Now Victor Reppert and some of the cultists at his blog are making the claim that the concepts of freedom and equality for mankind are also products of Christianity.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

David Wood, Continued

In a recent post, I spoke about David Wood's phony conversion story, which had appeared in Shadow To Light.  I made a comment over there, which generated some discussion.  It was probably some of the most interesting discussion that has occurred in that blog in quite some time, because most of the people there simply echo the thoughts of the poster.  But in this case, there was someone presenting an opposing point of view for a change.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

AFR Defended (poorly) by Gilson

Tom Gilson has produced a defense of the Argument From Reason that closely mirrors the thinking of Victor Reppert.  It amounts to an argument from ignorance of science.  I will summarize Gilson's points.  First, his argument stated formally:
P1: At the foundational, atomic or molecular level (under physicalism) the physical brain operates without regard to rationality.

P2: At the foundational, atomic or molecular level (under physicalism) the physical brain operates without regard to truth-bearers.

P3: At the macro level, under physicalism, the physical brain operates without connection to truth-bearers, unless some truth-bearing capacity is introduced from a non-physical source.

P4: At the macro level, thought has no connection to truth-bearers, unless some truth-bearing capacity is introduced from a non-physical source.

P5: Thought has no connection to truth (under physicalism).

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Phony Conversion Story

Shadow To Light has posted a video that purports to be the conversion story of a man, David Wood, who says he grew up as an atheist.  It's a rather bizarre story.  He says that at the age of five years, he was told that his dog died, and his reaction was "So what?"  He became a criminal, and he had no boundaries, no care for other people, no reason he shouldn't steal from them, destroy their property, or even kill them.  Even when his friend was killed, he said "So what?"  And this, he wants us to believe, is because of his atheism.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Stupid Theist Tricks: Epistemological Denialism

Why is it important to have epistemic justification for the things we believe?  Epistemic justification is reason to believe something.  Belief without justification is what we call blind faith.  It is belief without reason or belief beyond reason.  But Christians insist that their faith is based on reason and evidence.  This seems to be very important to them. 

Alvin Plantinga considers epistemic justification to be essential for theistic belief.  But at the same time, he recognizes that there is a lack of objective evidence to serve as justification for it.  That's why he invented his own epistemology that defines an emotional feeling about the existence or presence of God (that he calls the sensus divinitatus) as being a "properly basic" belief, which gives it the epistemological status of serving as justification for religious beliefs.  Plantinga call this "Reformed Epistemology".  It is circular reasoning on steroids, that makes a mockery of the whole branch of philosophy known as epistemology.

Other theists seem to be confused about their own epistemology.  I have yet to hear one of them admit that they lack evidence for their beliefs, but when asked to state what that evidence is, they will use every trick in the book to avoid answering.  A discussion at Victor's blog makes this abundantly clear.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Natural vs. Supernatural

The question seems to arise over and over again.  What is the difference between natural phenomena and supernatural phenomena?  At first blush, it doesn't seem that there should be any controversy about this.  But theists are fond of blurring the line.  Their reasoning seems to go something like this: if there is no clear distinction between natural and supernatural, then there is no clear basis for declaring that belief in the supernatural is unjustified, or that it is somehow less sound than naturalism.  In this way, they seek to make their own belief in supernatural things seem more reasonable.  Here's an example of this line of thinking:
What I meant was this. Suppose the Apostles' Creed is true, but the nature-supernature distinction turns out to be an artificial one, so that there is no sharp distinction between the natural and the supernatural. Suppose all we mean by physical is that it interacts with the physical world. So it turns out what we used to call God, angels, and souls turn out to be physical things, by some definition of physical. We can call them the theon, angelons, and psychons. My reaction to that, is, "So what. No problem." Only when you put limits on what can be natural am I going to be concerned about defending the belief that there is something super-that. - Reppert
Victor is admitting here that he'd rather not have to defend belief in supernatural things, but he thinks it's advantageous to take the battle to the ground of the naturalists and make them seem unreasonable for refusing to admit the existence of things that are part of the natural world.  But his reasoning is flawed, as I shall discuss.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Evidence For Dummies

I have previously discussed evidence in terms of its value in providing epistemological support for belief.  Victor Reppert takes a Bayesian view of evidence:
I understand evidence in Bayesian terms. For me, X is evidence for Y just in case X is more likely to exist given Y than given not-Y. By this definition, something can have evidence for it and be false. - Reppert
That's great.  It almost sounds as if he has justification for his beliefs, but in reality, he's just pulling the wool over the eyes of his readers.  Taking a Bayesian view of evidence is good, but it's only part of the picture, as he admits.  When analyzing evidence, you need to find the hypothesis that best accounts for all the available facts.  This is known as a scientific approach to evaluating evidence.  If there are any facts that tend to disconfirm the hypothesis, they can't be ignored (which is what theists tend to do).  Perhaps a different hypothesis would  work better - one that is arrived at by taking a more objective view of the evidence