Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hinman's "Argument From God Corrolate [sic]"

After some discussion about the merits of Joe Hinman's use of empirical data to make claims that belief in God has scientific justification, Joe presented a succinct version of his argument for God belief based on empirical observation.  I'll review and critique his argument here.  This argument is a distillation of the material he presents in his book The Trace of God: a Rational Warrant for Belief.  I will not discuss the book, which I have yet to read.  I will limit my discussion to the argument as presented by Joe in this post.

Joe starts out from a very reasonable position, which is basically that if God interacts with the physical world in some way, then we should be able to observe the effects of that interaction.  If we can know that some observed evidence is the result of divine interaction with the world, then we can infer the existence of a divine being.  The pertinent question is:
How do we know this is the effect, or the accompanying sign of the divine?
All this is quite reasonable, and Joe's argument purports to answer that question.  But of course, the devil is in the details, as we shall see.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Skeptical About Skepticism

At Shadow to Light, Mikey has outdone himself.  Turned a news story about the zealotry of Christian Trump supporters into a full-blown conspiracy theory about hoaxers trying to make the Christians look bad.  And he does this in the name of skepticism.  It seems that the story, after appearing in a number of news outlets, was repeated by Hermant Mehta, at his blog, The Friendly Atheist.  What's the problem with that?  According to Mikey, Mehta should have been more skeptical about the story, because he didn't raise the question of its being a hoax.  No, what he did was to report it pretty much the way the initial news reports did, without embellishing the facts with speculation about what might really have happened.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Christians in Love

Love to faults is always blind,
Always is to joy inclin’d,
Lawless, wing’d & unconfin’d,
And breaks all chains from every mind.

Deceit to secresy confin’d
Lawful, cautious & refin’d
To every thing but interest blind,
And forges fetters for the mind.

    - William Blake
If you try to tell a man in love that his beloved is not the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the most wonderful thing that has ever graced this planet, you will likely be met with resistance, and you just might get punched in the face.  Love is blind, they say.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Children of the Lack of Objectivity

Joe Hinman raises an issue that is worth considering.  It is the question of how we can relate to something for which we have no familiarity and no experience.  It may not be easy to understand something that you've never seen or never experienced.  He asks the question:
How could someone born blind understand the difference in blue and green or yellow?
After calling atheists' theorizing about religious belief "simplistic an totally wrong headed", and "shallow and senseless", He sums it up this way:
Religion doesn't exist because people tried to explain why it rains. It exits because people sense the numinous. They sense this aspect of something, the sublime, the spiritual, the nether regions but something that is special and beyond our understanding.
What Hinman wants us to think is that atheists have no understanding of Christians' belief in God because they haven't experienced it for themselves.  Of course, this is the same old trope that we hear over and over again.  And it's just not true.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Religionist Frothing at the Mouth

Over at Shadow To Light, Mikey wages a never-ending campaign of hatred against "New Atheists", or Gnus, as he often calls them.  Now he's picking on a kid for simply advocating secularism in the home.  That's all.  This 17-year-old, known as Cosmic Skeptic, seems pretty level-headed to me.  Did he say anything hateful or unkind toward religion or religious people?  No.  Did he make some snarky remark, or use ridicule?  No.  He simply expressed his opinion that parents should allow their children to make their own decisions about religious beliefs without being coerced into any particular religion by the parents.  And for that, Mikey has branded him with the pejorative label of "Gnu".

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Money, Money, Money

I just watched a political advertisement for Trump.  "Here's what you'll get if Donald Trump is elected president."  It promises big tax cuts and credits for individuals and businesses, amounting to thousands of dollars.  A quick calculation reveals that these tax cuts could total hundreds of billions of dollars per year.  How very generous of him.  One thing the ad didn't mention is the even bigger tax cuts he promises for wealthy people like himself, so he won't have to cheat so much.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Don McIntosh on Evidence - Wrong

Christians invent many ways to make themselves seem rational and reasonable while making atheists seem irrational and unreasonable.  While it is undoubtedly true that some Christians are quite reasonable, and some atheists are unreasonable, when you try to paint them with a broad brush, your depiction is likely to be distorted.  And this is especially true when you try to turn the tables on reality.  But that's what Don McIntosh attempts in his latest posting at the Christian Cadre, called The Celestial Teapot and Christian Theism.  Don has presented a straw man for the atheist's view of evidence and the opposite of that - an iron man - for the Christians' view.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Attack of Logical Positivism

I keep hearing about logical positivism - not form atheists, but from theists who seem to want to use it as a defeater for atheism.  And I have to ask myself, why do they keep bringing this up?  There are certain theists who insist that materialism implies logical positivism, or that empiricism is equivalent to logical positivism.  I often hear the less sophisticated ones ask in an accusatory tone, "What's the difference between your beliefs and logical positivism?"

But it's not just the philosophically unsophisticated theist who raises this issue.  Even the trained philosophers among them, while not directly calling atheists logical positivists, still make claims that their materialistic beliefs are somehow founded upon logical positivism or at least that modern materialism arises from its ashes.  And in doing so, these philosophers feed the troll and keep it alive.