Thursday, April 27, 2017

Mikey's Subjective View of Reality

If you talk with religionists about evidence for God, they invariably insist that it is clear and indisputable, if only you are willing to see it.  Atheists, they say, willfully ignore the evidence.  They don't have the "eyes to see", and this is their own fault, because seeing the evidence is simply a matter of choosing to accept the truth of religious belief.  And having done that, all is revealed.  The problem for the skeptic is that this is a catch-22 situation.  The skeptical stance is to withhold belief until sufficient evidence is revealed.  But the evidence isn't visible until you first believe.  Once you become a believer, then evidence of God is everywhere you look.  Ask any theist, and you will hear the same thing.  The evidence is overwhelming, they say, and the skeptic is blind for not seeing it.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Would I Become a Christian?

BK puts forth this question in his latest posting at Christian Cadre: If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?  He supposes that this is the all-time gotcha question that would force atheists to come clean and confess the truth of the faith, or expose themselves as being dishonest.  BK presents three possible responses that an atheist might offer to this question.   One is to deny Christianity without any explanation.  Another is to deny it with an explanation.  And finally the atheist might accept the truth and say yes.  But I think the question requires more depth of discussion before a simple yes or no answer can be given.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

You Can't Get Ought From Is

David Hume famously described the Is/Ought problem: there is no logical means of deriving moral values from statements of fact.  Well before there was any evolutionary theory of morality, he recognized that our will is a "slave of the passions".  Our motivations do not derive from reason alone.  Through instinct, we make judgments about what is right and wrong.  Through our sense of pride, humility, love and hate, we are motivated, and we experience social approval or disapproval as a result of our actions. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Basics of Non-Belief

In my previous post, I noted that in conversions between Christianity and atheism, the stories people typically tell about their own conversion experience are starkly different.  The convert to religion is often driven by emotion, while de-conversion is often rational in nature.  This may have led some readers to think that my opinion of emotional experiences in general is negative, and that I treat those religious conversions derisively.  I certainly didn't mean to convey that impression.  Nevertheless, as an empiricist, it is my opinion that a belief that derives from a rational thought process based on objective evidence is likely to have better epistemic justification than a belief that stems from emotional experience.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Basics of Belief

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see
It's a story we've heard throughout the ages.  I was miserable.  I was depraved.  I was suffering.  My life was lacking something.  And then I found religion, and my spiritual needs were fulfilled.

Some variant of this theme is ubiquitous in stories of conversion.  I have pointed out in the past that the big difference I have observed between accounts of religious conversion and accounts of de-conversion is as distinct as night and day.  The atheist de-conversion story is usually a tale of intellectual dissatisfaction with the fantastic claims and the illogic of theism, while the religious conversion story tells of emotional dissatisfaction with the vagaries of life.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hypocrite-In-Chief Changes His Tune

The current situation in Syria is shocking to people around the world.  Dictator Bashar al-Assad has apparently attacked the Syrian people with sarin gas, resulting in at least 70 deaths, and many victims suffering horribly from the effects of the deadly chemical.  This situation has had an effect on the Donald, too.  He has called it an "affront to humanity", and now says that he is re-thinking his position on Assad.  We'll see how much his position changes.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Refried Epistemology

Last time, I wrote about the arrogance of Christians when it comes to claiming the high ground of morality.  This attitude derives from their absolute certainty in the existence of God, without which, their morality would have no grounding whatsoever.  But this raises the big issue that is still more fundamental: what makes them so arrogantly cocksure about their God in the first place?  Does Steve Harvey have any kind of sound basis for his arrogant dismissal of atheists?  Perhaps it's just a blind acceptance of what the bible tells them.  Sometimes, religionists seek to justify the certainty of their beliefs with arguments, as we see here, but they never doubt that belief, and would never seriously consider any arguments to the contrary.