Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sitting On Both Sides of the Fence

Christians are all over the map when it comes to their feelings about science.  They don't want to be seen as science deniers, but many of them are uncomfortable with the idea that science doesn't support theistic beliefs.  Some openly express their contempt for science.  These people are not representative of the majority of Christians.  Others say they have no problem whatsoever with science, and even proudly claim credit on behalf of religion for the early development of science.  But ask them what they think of scientists, their view is decidedly less friendly.  They often point out that science is incapable of detecting or determining the existence of God, so a broader view is needed, and that's why scientism is fundamentally wrong, in their view.  Science alone can't be used confirm theistic beliefs, so it must be lacking the epistemological power needed by theists to feel justified in believing despite the lack of empirical evidence.  Still others dishonestly pervert the practice of science to promote their religion.  Probably the best examples of this are "creation science" and "intelligent design", where theists employ methods and language that sound "sciency", but don't follow scientific method, and then dishonestly claim that science leads to the inescapable conclusion that God (or some other powerful agent) is responsible for making the living things we observe in our world.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Argument From Desire - Wishful Thinking

Ed Feser has made an interesting post on what he calls the "argument from desire", in which he rightly notes that there are different forms of the argument, and they aren't all successful.  Basically, the argument from desire, as commonly expressed by unsophisticated theists is not so much an argument for the existence of God as it is a reason for believing.  It is the acknowledgment that the idea of life coming to an end without any eternal reward or compensation for the pain endured while living in the physical world is depressing.  But according to Feser, if a more sophisticated form of the argument (ie, Thomistic) is considered, it may well be worthwhile.

Monday, June 19, 2017

What It Means To Be Indoctrinated

Ask any religionist if he has been indoctrinated, and he will swear that he hasn't.  The word 'indoctrination' is something that religionists recoil from.  It's something bad, and it's certainly not what they do to their children.  To them, indoctrination means something like brainwashing.  Like what the Soviets did to their citizens to turn them into loyal comrades, or what many Arabic nations do in their public schools to make them hate Jews.  But definitely not what happens in Sunday School.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Ground of Being

Have you ever heard the phrase "whispering sweet nothings"?  It usually applies to the utterances of someone who says things that sound pleasing but are insubstantial or meaningless, in an effort to flatter or woo his lover.  I have often heard descriptions of God that strike me as nothing more than starry-eyed adulation.  God isn't simply the finest example of every attribute the theist admires - love, goodness, wisdom, etc, etc, - he is identical to each of those attributes.  For example, he isn't merely the ultimate example of a loving person - God is love itself.  And he isn't just perfectly good at some particular endeavor such as morality - he is "essentially perfect", which means, I suppose, that in one fell swoop, the theist has granted God perfection in all endeavors.  He is the perfect provider, the perfect judge, disciplinarian, bowler - whatever you like - he's just the bestest and the mostest.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Heads I Lose, Tails You Win

What does it take to convince an atheist that God exists?  This question has been asked and answered again and again.  But no matter what reasonable response an atheist gives, it is automatically rejected by the religionists.  If an atheist suggests that some supernatural event would be convincing to him, that suggestion will be met with one of two possible responses from the religionist: either "That's unreasonable because you're asking to see something that is never going to happen" or "You wouldn't really accept that as being convincing because your own belief system doesn't allow it as a possibility".  The religionist will never simply take the atheist's answer at face value, because that would be tantamount to admitting that the atheist is being reasonable.  That's something religionists will never admit, regardless of how reasonable the atheist's position might actually be.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Moral Realism = Muddled Reasoning

It has long been my opinion that moral realists (aka theists) are confused about the difference between fact and opinion.  That's not surprising, because theists in general are confused about the difference between objective reality and fantasy.  They speak of God's existence as if it were an objective fact, like the existence of the table in front of me right now.  One might argue that it is only my perception of the table that makes me believe it exists, but that's not true.  I know the table exists as an objective fact because it impacts not only my perception, but it can be detected and measured by physical devices and instruments, as well as being seen and felt by other people.  Nobody says you have to believe first, and then you can see it.  It's there, and I can photograph it and weigh it.  Everyone can see it, regardless of whether they have a certain kind of mindset, or framework of beliefs.  That's the essence of objective reality.

Friday, June 2, 2017

"God Did It" Explains the Ethical Treatment of Slaves

Victor Reppert has pointed out a piece of apologetic fluffery that he sees as evidence that the biblical Yahweh raised the ethical level of the Hebrews above that of the rest of the world.  The article, found in the blog Cold-Case Christianity , discusses slavery in the biblical Hebrew culture, and makes the claim that under Mosaic law, the practice was humane and ethical, especially as compared to the form of slavery practiced in the New World in more recent times.  More on these claims later.  With this "evidence" in hand, Victor believes that the behavior of the Hebrews, as influenced by Yahweh's law, rose to an elevated standard of morality that couldn't be explained under naturalism, which he supposes would entail that people act only in their own self-interest.
You can call Yahweh a moral monster, but somehow, he managed a quantum leap forward in the moral consciousness of the Western world. Quite an accomplishment for the most unpleasant character in all fiction. ... I think these leaps are hard to explain naturalistically. - Reppert