Thursday, January 28, 2016

Boxed In By an Ideology

Steve Hays has posted an article that describes "skywriting" as an example of a class of miracles he calls "coincidence miracles", which are events that are supposedly consistent with natural laws, but that nevertheless are so improbable that they could only be the result of divine intervention.  If the stars in the sky aligned in such a way as to form clearly defined letters and words that spell out a message, that would be skywriting.  This has been posited by some atheists as an example of a miracle that would cause them to believe that God exists, or at least that supernatural events occur, if they ever witnessed such a thing.  But Steve says that those atheists are being dishonest about what would convince them - that they are in fact stuck on their atheistic ideology, and no evidence would convince them.  Steve believes that atheists use this example simply because it could be explained away as a natural event.  I contend that Steve is the one who is boxed in by ideology, and lacks the intellectual honesty to admit it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Irrational Feser - Part 2: The Straw Man

In my previous post, I reviewed Ed Feser's review of Jerry Coyne's book, Faith versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible.  As reviews go, I thought it was lacking because it doesn't provide a sense of what Coyne's book actually discusses, nor does it provide a sense of the reviewer's response or assessment of those issues.  For example, in his book, Coyne discusses methods of inquiry, accommodationism, what it means to be incompatible.  He tackles issues such as the supposed design of the universe, the existence of altruism, and the inevitability of the course of evolution.  Little if any of this is even mentioned in Feser's review, which focuses instead on attacking Coyne's definitions of religion and faith, and accusing him of scientism.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Irrational Feser - Part 1: The Review

I saw that Ed Feser wrote a review of Jerry Coyne's book, Faith versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible, which is posted in First Things, and I was interested to see how Feser would address the issues raised by Coyne.  Upon reading it, I realized that this "review" was little more than a diatribe against Coyne, and does little or nothing to satisfy the questions of someone who is interested in hearing arguments against Coyne's central thesis: that science and religion are incompatible.

Since it is a brief review, consisting of 12 paragraphs, I'll take a look at the the entire article here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How to Make a Bad Argument

Victor came up with an argument against naturalism that is stunningly bad.  So bad, in fact, that it could easily have been the product of a grade-school student rather than a PhD philosopher.   This is worthy of examination, simply because it illustrates a number of blunders that should be avoided by anyone who wants to make a serious logical argument.  This is what he said:
The evidential relation is not a physical relation. So if physicalism is true, evidence never has anything to do with what anyone believes. On that view, only spatial, temporal and causal relations have anything to do with anything that goes on in reality. So rather than being the correct conclusion of evidentialism, naturalistic materialism actually makes evidentialism impossible. If theism is true, then it is possible for beliefs to be based on evidence. Otherwise, it's metaphysically impossible. - Reppert
Perhaps we should give Victor the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he's making a parody rather than a serious argument.  Let's take it step by step.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

It's a Miracle

The Christian belief system is founded upon miraculous events.  Without miracles, there would be no Christianity.  In particular, the events surrounding the life and death of Jesus are thought to be miraculous, from the pregnancy of his virgin mother, to his rising from the tomb after death.  Indeed, it is impossible to be a Christian without believing that these miracles are real.

At the same time, it is interesting to note that there is little agreement among Christians on what constitutes a miraculous event, or when and where such events have occurred, even among the various tales found in the bible.  Was the parting of the Red Sea really a miracle, or could it be explained by natural forces?  Could the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah be due to meteor strikes?  There are many Christians who think that God directly caused these events by suspending the normal laws of nature, and others who think that God brought about these events without actually violating natural laws by creating the necessary conditions and allowing natural laws to take their course.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Shadow To Blight - Dishonesty Revealed

My friend Mikey, over at Shadow To Light, makes some really bad arguments.  A recent post, titled New Atheist Logic, demonstrates this clearly.  In an attempt to show the absurdity of atheistic thinking, he makes a number of bad assumptions (or outright lies) to present a grossly distorted view of atheistic thinking:
According to New Atheists, religion is evil.  In fact, it is one of the greatest evils on the planet.  The Gnus love to quote Steven Weinberg , “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.”

Yet the same atheists also tell us that the existence of evil disproves the existence of God.

So what do we have?

According to New Atheist logic, the existence of religion, which is evil, proves that God does not exist.

Which means, I suppose, that if God did exist, we would all be secular atheists.

Such is the Wisdom of Gnu.
This is the supposedly superior thinking of a thoroughly blinkered atheist hater.  I'd be tempted to just leave it at that, but it is obvious that he and his followers don't see the problem with Mikey's argument, so I guess I need to spell it out for their benefit.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

For the Hundredth Time, ID is Not Science

Victor, just won't listen.  I've explained all this before, as in this post for example, but he persists in his stubborn ignorance about what science is and what it is not:
The dog, the evidence, is wagging the tail, the no-design conclusion. But if that is the case, then someone ought to be free to explore the possibility that this conclusion is not true, and still be doing science. You might be doing bad science, or mistaken science, but you should be able to be mistaken and still do science. - Reppert
Victor pretends that this is the dogma of science - that it isn't allowed to investigate anything that isn't based on materialism - and then uses that as an excuse to claim that ID should be treated the same.  Either ID and evolution are both science, or they both are not, he says.  "You can't have you cake and eat it too."  And that's exactly right.  We certainly should be consistent about what constitutes science.  And I'll try once again to explain it to him.  Maybe this time, the concept will penetrate the thick shield of theistic thinking that obstructs his cognitive processes.

Monday, January 4, 2016

On Truth, and Who Seeks It

I was amused to read this post in Shadow To Light, where the host Mikey tries to take issue with every single word uttered by Richard Dawkins, no matter what he says.  This particular rant was in response to Dawkins making the outrageous claim that the truth is what matters.  It seems that Mikey wants his followers to believe that truth only matters to theists, and that an atheist has no reason to value truth, apparently because he decides for himself what is right and wrong.
If God exists, then we exist in a reality that exists because of Him. He brought it into existence and sustains its existence. We exist because of Him. My meaning, my purpose for existence, is tied to these truths. Truth matters very much.  But what if there is no God? There universe exists for no reason. My existence is a fleeting, contingent fluke. I am the one who gives my life the meaning I want, all in the context of being the one who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong. It’s hard to see how truth always matters in this reality. It this reality, it would seem, truth can often take the back seat.
If you don't quite follow the logic of this, it's only because you have the silly notion that a logical conclusion should follow from the premises.