I have been banned again. In this post, I was falsely accused of deleting Stan's comments (they're all still here). They called me bully, coward, liar, irrational, and mental case. They made derisive comments to me. Then, I said Stan's spiel was phony, and he thought that was uncivil. Sorry to have offended you, Stan.
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In my recent discussion with some devout evolution denialists at CADRE blog, I was asked to visit the blog of someone who is obviously well respected by them, where I could find some supposedly informative discussion about why evolution theory has no scientific value. The blog is titled Atheism Analyzed, and it is hosted by a guy named Stan. The first thing I noticed at this site is the banner, which identifies Stan as a former atheist who "analyzes Atheism, without resorting to theism, deism, or fantasy", and includes some statements about truth and rationality, as well as this: "Atheists have an obligation to give reasons in the form of logic and evidence for rejecting Theist theories." The second thing I noticed is the kind of posts he has made recently, which are not about atheism, but are politically oriented, ultra-right-wing propaganda - the kind of thing you get from Breitbart or Drudge. There is also a smattering of anti-science posts.
So right away, I know a few things about Stan. He's a theist who lays claim to logic and reason. He's an ex-atheist (see my discussion of ex-atheists), who seems to believe that atheists don't value truth and logic, nor do they use logic in their rejection of theism. He is outspoken about his far-right politics, and he is generally skeptical of science. I also know from my brief interaction with him that he is hostile toward me, and apparently toward atheists in general. He is a militant theist.
I came to this site to see what Stan has to say about evolution. His site lists a number of links to older posts under the topics of Evolution, Principles of Atheism, and Rational Principles. So I looked at the evolution section. This is supposed to be some kind of educational forum, not for the purpose of teaching about evolution theory, but to debunk it. It says up front "There is absolutely no, NO, creationism involved whatsoever", but it reads like a compendium of creationist literature, casting doubt on evolution science, and including the standard talking points you might find on any other creationist site. I'm not going to summarize all this science denialism here. The interested reader can find all the links to these pages on the right side of the blog's main page. But I do take note of the fact that he asserts a purposeful agent as creator of the "information content" in living things:
The length of a DNA molecule is far too long to have been correctly assembled by non-purposeful, random forces. Further, it cannot be said to be deterministic because it cannot be deduced to have happened from minerals and their properties. The purpose of the code, the agents, and the code carrier (DNA, RNA, protiens, etc) is purposeful for life, i.e. it is teleological. - StanThis is in direct contradiction to his claim that there is no creationism in this spiel on evolution. The purposeful creation of genetic codes implies an intelligent creator. Clearly, Stan is a creationist as well as a science denier, and he can't avoid having his creationism spill into this discussion that claims to be free of creationism, on a site that claims to be free of theism. So much for Stan's intellectual honesty. Toward the end of this three-part spiel on evolution, he makes his position clear:
What evolution has in its favor is just this: it is a material theory. However flawed, it is necessary to the ideology expressed by Lewontin, above: Materialist Atheism must have a materialist theory of origins. Since materialism is absolutely required when the existence of an intelligent input is denied and locked out of any intellectual debate, then no amount of deterministic impossibility will deter or derail the Materialist true believer from accepting the “possibilities of evolution” from minerals to mind. That makes evolution a religion: blind belief in the face of the failure of any supporting facts. Unlike the voluntary materialistic sciences, such as physics and, yes, modern biology, the imposition of involuntary materialism onto the investigation of the source of life does not meet with useful results in terms of knowledge. In fact, the imposition of involuntary materialism onto the investigation into the source of life results in the equivalent of faerie tales, where “scientists” see what is not there, and refer to it as plausible fact, even “Truth”. That amounts to fraud, and is not science. - StanClearly, Stan is an avid science denialist (see my discussion on the religion of science denial). I don't expect to see much in the way of objective analysis from Stan. In our conversation at CADRE, I showed him a collection of evidence for evolution, and he simply dismissed it out of hand, probably without reading any of it. This is a guy who isn't interested in understanding real science.
Hatred of Atheists
I wondered if his analysis of atheism was any more substantial than his analysis of evolution. Turning to the "Principles of Atheism", I could see immediately that his hostility overshadows any kind of rational discussion one might hope to find there. The very first principle of atheism states "Atheism is a VOID, intellectually and morally." The logical basis for this is that atheists supposedly have no grounding for logical beliefs or ethical beliefs, and so they are free to just make it up. There is no discussion of materialist accounts of logical or ethical grounding. There is no atheist's perspective offered as a point of comparison or rebuttal. Just this bald assertion of the "atheist VOID". The series on principles of atheism continues with more of the same. It is a lengthy diatribe about atheists' "AtheoLeftism", lack of coherency, bullying tactics, logical fallacies, narcissism, superior attitudes, hypocrisy, etc. Absent in all of this stream of invective is any kind of supporting factual information.
The concept of the "atheist VOID" comes up again and again in Stan's discussion of atheists and their arguments, or as he prefers to call it, lack of arguments. An atheist can't make a reasonable, valid, or honest argument because he is intellectually and morally bankrupt. This attitude often comes across in his conversations with atheists. For example, here, in his response to the assertion that atheism is not a religion, Stan says:
Atheism is a statement concerning the existence of a creating deity; so it is a religious stance, and cannot be interpreted as anything but a religious stance. Moreover, since it cannot prove the validity of its own stance using either logic or empirical experimental data, it is a stance made in an intellectual vacuum, which falsifies the Atheist claim that it is logic and evidence based. Therefore it is blind belief, a religious stance.
Flawed Logical Foundation
I looked to the section on Rational Principles in the hopes of discovering the basis for Stan's absurd view of atheist rationality, and soon found what I was looking for in his discussion of the first principles of rationality. Here, Stan lays out his concept of the logical and epistemological basis for rational thought, including the axioms of logic and other foundational aspects of knowledge. This discussion seems reasonable for the most part, and I'm not going to go into it in detail, except to point out a couple of places where he gets it wrong.
First, in the introduction he notes that axioms are known to us by intuition. Nothing controversial about that, but then he makes a leap of faith:
And so, science is based upon a set of unproven, and unprovable principles, that are known to be true only by intuition. Thus, if science is thought to be valid, then intuition is also assumed to be valid.Huh? What? Where did that come from? This is simply a theistic assumption, and it is only a foundational principle to people who who need logical justification for the postulation of some transcendent being as the source of intuitive knowledge. In a materialist view, no such justification is required. The materialist recognizes that logical intuition is acquired empirically and inductively through observation of the world. Just as a child gains an intuitive understanding of rudimentary physical principles by observing how things behave, he also gains an intuitive understanding of logical principles in the same way. He may not be able to express these principles in a formal way, but he has a feel for how things work, learned from his own experience. By the time he learns the formal expression of these principles, he has probably long since forgotten where his intuitions came from. It is understandable, therefore, that a theist might think they came from God. But the reality is that without the childhood experience of exploring one's world, there would be no such intuitions. And this is the first major flaw in Stan's formulation of the principles of rationality.
Last, if intuition is valid, then transcendence exists – because intuition is transcendent. - Stan
Second, as he enumerates these first principles, he comes to item 4a: "No premise should be accepted without evidence", which he describes as the basis for Humean skepticism. Again, this is not controversial, but it is worded differently from all the rest. It is the only one that is not worded as a statement of fact. Instead, it contains the word 'should'. This turns out to be crucial for Stan's theistic worldview. First, he asserts that the word 'should' in 4a provides the logical basis for the grounding of ethics.
If Principle 4a, above, (No premise should be accepted without evidence) is valid, then ethical considerations can be intuited as First Principles. This is because Principle 4a expresses an “ought” imperative, which is an ethical statement, and which is considered to be valid for the foundation of Naturalism, and thus is considered to be a universal truth. It is intuited, and cannot be proven by itself, by empiricism, by Naturalism, or by Materialism. - StanThis is bizarre. The principle of Humean skepticism could easily have been stated in a declarative form without using the word 'should'. The conclusion of a logical argument is correct if the premises are epistemically justified and the logic is valid. Aside from that, principle 4a has nothing to do with ethics, despite Stan's assertion that it does. It is a principle of epistemology, not ethics.
A materialist understands that human ethics are derived from some combination of naturally evolved instinctive behavior and cultural or sociological influences. Inserting the word 'should' into a statement of epistemological principles has no effect whatsoever on human ethics or ethical beliefs. It is merely a semantic trick - a leap of logic to say that this constitutes a basis for ethical grounding. So if Stan uses this as a basis for grounding his ethical beliefs, his ethics are grounded in a logical fallacy. And this is the next major flaw in Stan's thinking.
The other point that Stan raises about principle 4a is that it proves the incoherency of materialism.
Because the “ought imperative” of Principle 4a is the necessary and sufficient principle upon which Naturalism and Materialism are based, it is easily shown that the transcendent nature of the underlying foundation of these concepts produces a contradiction that violates the anti-transcendent worldviews themselves.This is based, of course, on Stan's illogical conclusion that an intuitive understanding of logical foundations comes from some transcendent source. In fact, as I already discussed, the materialist has perfectly valid reasons for believing that logic is grounded in physical reality, and our understanding of it is empirically derived. The theist, on the other hand, resorts to logical fallacies in his attempts to support his belief that logic comes from God through intuition. It is the theist whose logic is ungrounded. Stan has it backwards. It isn't the materialist whose position is incoherent - it is the theist. And this is yet another major flaw in Stan's thinking. It is more than ironic that he chooses to use this particular principle of epistemology as justification for his superstitious belief, for which there is no observable evidence.
In other words, Naturalism and Materialism declare that intuition and other transcendences cannot exist, yet the basis for Naturalism and Materialism is itself necessarily intuitive and transcendent.
So Naturalism and Materialism deny their own foundational validity, and thus are paradoxical (violate the Principle of Non-Contradiction), and so are neither coherent nor valid - Stan
Stan is a militant theist with a chip on his shoulder. His attitude toward atheists is hateful and contemptuous, and he suffers from the delusion that he is morally and intellectually superior. He fancies himself to be a paragon of rational thought, but his whole belief system is founded on demonstrably flawed logical thinking.
Stan should get the chip off his shoulder. He should give due consideration to his opponents' arguments instead of dismissing them with a wave of his hand. He should also give due consideration to the flaws in his own arguments. Above all, he should take a sip from the cup of humility.