Saturday, April 9, 2016

More Analysis of Atheism

Over at Atheism Analyzed there is a new "atheist discussion zone", which is mostly one-sided, but it is interesting because it reveals so much about how Stan, the owner of the blog, thinks.  I've taken a look at Stan's "analysis of atheism" before.  The discussion we had was not very fruitful.  He is unwilling to listen to anything that might disagree with his beliefs or his reasoning.  In this discussion zone, Hugo Pelland attempts to reason with him, but Stan concedes nothing, under the arrogant delusion that his own logic and analysis are flawless.  It is amusing to read the entire thread (and in particular his discussion of physics, which is mind-numbingly wrong), but I want to focus on Stan's final comment, where he summarizes his "observations and conclusions" about atheism.  I feel this is worthwhile because some of Stan's delusions may be shared with other theists, and they should be addressed, just to set the record straight.

1. Atheism rejects existing worldviews (without reasons or reasoning being necessary, according to Atheists).
The idea that atheists reject existing worldviews is blatantly false.  They reject theism.  According to atheists, there is good reason to reject theistic worldviews.  For explanations and discussion of many of these reasons, you can explore the Secular Web, especially in the Modern Library section, where arguments for and against theism are presented and analyzed.  However, atheism does not reject other worldviews in general.  Since atheism is not itself a worldview, atheists typically adopt some set of views that are compatible with atheism.  Most (but not all) atheists are metaphysical naturalists, for example.  Many of them are humanists.  They have epistemological, ethical, and aesthetic views, just like anyone else. 
2. Atheism gives no guidance regarding any moral, logical or philosophical principles, or any other subject. Hence Atheism is a Void regarding those necessary aspects of worldviews.
Atheism gives no guidance because it is not a worldview or a philosophy.  As pointed out in the previous comment, atheists do have worldviews and philosophies (other than atheism itself) that provide a sound basis for belief or reasoning in these areas.  It's not as though an atheist has no principles or guidance.  It's just a question of what they are based on.
3. A consequence of Atheism (not necessary, yet oddly, sufficient) is Consequentialism.
That is correct.  Deontological ethics are rule-based, and generally depend upon the presumption of some kind of transcendental rule-giver.  Theists always make up their own ethical rules, or get them from some other human source who has made them up, and then pretend that they are hard, objective facts that come from God.  The alternative view is some kind of consequentialism.  The truth is that most of us, including theists, are consequentialists, even if they don't recognize it.  When faced with a moral situation where the ethical rule doesn't seem to fit the circumstances, most of us will make a choice based on situational results, rather than blindly following the rule.  For example, a deontologist would say that lying is immoral.  But most theists agree there are circumstances where lying is the best or right thing to do.  That's consequentialism.  Stan seems to believe that consequentialism is bad, but I would shudder to think about a world where some rigid set of rules is the law, with no allowance for what's right in a given situation.
4. Consequentialism is an anti-moral set of tactics for accomplishing objectives. Determining which objectives are “Right” vs. “Wrong” is not addressed by Consequentialism. In fact, Friedrich Nietzsche famously demonstrated the material absence of “Right” and “Wrong” under Atheism.
As Nietzsche notes, right and wrong are not cast in stone.  Everyone, including deontologists, decides for himself what is right and wrong in any given situation.  The evidence for this is that even theists, who believe their morality is based on absolute rules that come from God, can't always agree on what the correct moral choice should be.  The actual moral decision is based on a person's beliefs and experiences, and is typically arrived at by intuition, which means only that it is made without conscious deliberation.  However, the intuitive aspect of morality leads theists to believe that it is driven by God.  Consequentialism is certainly not anti-moral, nor is the moral decision made for the purpose of furthering one's selfish objectives.  That's not to say that people don't make immoral or selfish choices in violation of their own moral beliefs.  Like atheism, theism provides no immunity from making bad moral choices.
5. Another consequence of Atheism is Philosophical Materialism, which also is not necessary, but oddly is sufficient for proof of Atheism, if one is a Philosophical Materialist.
This is false.  Stan has it backwards.  There are atheists who are not materialists.  Thomas Nagel is an example.  He is an atheist who believes that mind is immaterial.  On the other hand, if one is a materialist, the consequence is atheism, because God is postulated as an immaterial being, and that is not compatible with materialism.  It would be fair to say that many people abandon belief in God as a result of their adoption of a materialist view, which comes from examination of empirical evidence, leading them to conclude that the world is physical, and that there is no reason to believe that there are immaterial entities.
6. Philosophical Materialism depends heavily on both some form of Logical Positivism and in conjunction with contingent empiricism. The application of Logical Positivism to empiricism is easily demonstrated to fail, rationally. Further, Philosophical Materialism cannot be proven using the principles of Philosophical Materialism; in other words, it is a philosophy which excludes itself from being a Truth claim (internal non-coherent).
This statement reveals a deep ignorance of basic philosophical principles.  Any coherent metaphysical worldview should be informed by an epistemology that must come first.  Stan has it backwards, once again.  In fact, it's not at all clear that he understands the difference between them.  An atheist would typically start with empiricism.  He may extend that to scientism, but most atheists do not accept logical positivism, so logical positivism is just a red herring.  Based on an empiricist's understanding of what we can know about our world, the atheist rejects belief in immaterial entities, and thus adopts a materialist or naturalist metaphysical view.  And it should be noted that empiricism is not self-refuting or incoherent, as I pointed out earlier.  It is based on foundational assumptions, like any other epistemology.  No epistemology demands that foundational assumptions be proven.  The idea that those assumptions must be proven by "principles of Philosophical Materialism" is false.  It is a straw man.
7. Atheism makes these claims:
a) Atheism is based in logic and evidence.

b) Atheists have no responsibility of Rebuttal to provide either disciplined Aristotelian logic, or falsifiable empirical data in support of Atheist rejection.
Atheism makes no claims other than a rejection of belief on deities.  Stan has insisted over and over again that atheism is a positive claim that bears the burden of proof, while his own belief in God is apparently self-evident and requires no proof.  The banner of his blog states "Atheists have an obligation to give reasons in the form of logic and evidence for rejecting Theist theories."  Aside from being extraordinarily arrogant, this defies common wisdom.  One might concede that if an atheist makes a positive claim (ie. "there are no gods"), then he has made an assertion that requires proof.  But most atheists simply find no good reason to believe in God.  They recognize that there is no obligation to accept the assertions of theists, given that at the most fundamental level, they are based on unprovable assumptions.  Philosophers, both atheist and theist alike, generally agree that the existence or nonexistence of God cannot be proven.
8. Hence, Atheism is unable to defend itself, using its own principle set of the Atheist VOID; Philosophical Materialism; Aristotelian disciplined deductive logic; falsifiable empirical data.
Atheism is more defensible than theism, for the simple reason that it assumes less.  Materialists assume that the material world exists, which is as well-supported by empirical evidence as any existential belief.  They assume no more than that.  Theists, on the other hand, assume additional entities that can't be seen or detected by any empirical means.  And yet, they think this is somehow better substantiated than materialism.  This is absolutely logic-defying.
9. All of the above are either observable facts, or conclusions derived from observable facts. If one is insulted by such things, it is not the fault of the analysis.
The author of these statements is deluded.  While some of his observations are true, others are clearly not true.  He "observes" things that aren't there and he "concludes" things that don't follow from any conventional logic.  Most of all, he he unwilling to take a fair look at the views of others that he obviously finds detestable.  His "analysis" is clouded by a visceral, emotional hatred.  He thinks he's being logical and analytical, but he's only fooling himself.

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