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Articles.

I do this for my exercise and personal training blog, I figure, considering I have far more articles (and perhaps more interest) in the religion debate/topic, I might as well put something together semi regularly on what is being put out by all whose blogs I frequent.

A redefinition of “atheist”

This was worth a re-post on FB, I liked the definition: “atheist:  One for whom god is an unnecessary explanatory concept.” as I could agree with that, and it clears up some of the agnosticism, “lack of belief” drama. I had Sam Mulvey from “Ask an Atheist” comment saying he liked the room for discussion in the standard definitions of atheism (belief/action) and agnosticism (knowledge) and being able to be an “agnostic in evidence, atheist in action” and while I agreed in principle I thought it left too much room for theists to play rhetorical games to attempt to nullify your position. Having said that, I have no problem labelling myself an atheist in the “lack of belief” sense either, or having discussions about what that means, it would be nice, however to have a definition theists didn’t have so much of a problem with (I guess who’s not to say they won’t have a problem with the above re-definition).

The Argument from the Reliability of our Rational Faculties, or Should We Attack Water Balloons? (With a postscript from a commentator)

You’d have to be pretty silly not to respect Reppert’s intelligence, and I respect him as Keith Parsons has described him: “a scholar and a gentleman“, he’s the first to keep the language civil on his blog (something John Loftus does not do in his posts about Reppert or his blog in general, see here for an example), and he keeps his posts relatively high brow. He has however been getting into it pretty heavily with Loftus about the “Outsider Test for Faith” and to agree with and quote Parsons again I think it’s been generating “more heat than light“. I was actually hoping they’d work together to produce a book, actually pool their collective talents into something useful, something that would address both sides concerns.

Complex eyes in the Cambrian

Here P.Z Myers (and Coyne) discuss some recent findings and some creationists response to such.

The Mountain of Evidence for Evolution

And then you have Ray Comfort…

What Science Says..

Except that the moment of conception actually takes up to 24 hours and the life of the individual doesn’t “begin” for up to 14 days, as Peter Singer describes in his book Re-thinking Life and Death:

There is no ‘moment’ of conception. Conception in human beings is a process that lasts about twenty-fours hours. It begins when a sperm works its way through the outer layer of the egg. This outer layer then locks up, so that other sperm cannot enter. At this point however, the genetic material is not evenly distributed throughout the egg but concentrated in what is called a ‘pronucleus’, which is surrounded by a soupy material that fills the egg.. After the sp[em enters the egg, it’s tail disappears and its head forms another pronucleus. The two pronuclei, at first like two islands floating in the soupy fluid, gradually draw together, but the genetic material does not merge until about twenty-two hours after the sperm first came into the egg, at a stage known as syngamy. Since i tis the merging of the genetic material that forms the genetic constitution of the new individual (or individuals of identical twins will emerge), it seems reasonable to say that conception is a process that is not complete until syngamy has taken place” (Singer, Pp-95,  1994)

As far as the life of the individual beginning after 14 days, Singer continues:

Father Norman Ford of Melbourne’s Catholic Theological College, was troubled by the fact that for some time after fertilization, the embryo could split into identical twins. This suggested that during this early period the embryo was a cluster of cells, rather than an individual being. Ford has a point. If we think of the embryo as an individual from the moment of conception – let’s call her Marion- then what happens to Marion if the embryo splits? Are the newly formed twins Marion and  new twin, say, Ruth? Or are they two new twins, say, Ruth and Esther?

Both answers give rise to paradoxes. If Marion still exists, which one of the twins is she? There is no basis for saying that one of them is more closely linked to the original Marion than the other. But if neither of the new twins is Marion, what has happened to her? Has she vanished? Should we regret the loss of a human individual, as I would regret the disappearance of one of my daughters, even if she was replaced by tow others? Ford concluded that as long as twinning is still a possibility the cluster of cells doesn ot constitute an individual organism. Therefore the life of a human individual does not begin at conception, but about fourteen days later, when the possibility of twinning is lost. His view has not been endorsed by the official church body, but it has also not been condemned.”  (Singer, Pp-94,  1994)

As always Ray is taken to task in the comments section.

The Problem of Heaven (part 1)

Luke’s a smart dude, over at Common Sense Atheism, unfortunately much of what he posts on, fails to pique my interest, but as you can see from this blog, right or wrong, he takes this stuff seriously (take the time to really check out the site, he does a philosophy and morality podcast, that have a great number of guests and serious content).

Atheists and Unicorns: Emotional Appeal

J.W Wartick is a really smart Christian (for examples, see here and here and here), but I think he works best when discussing Christian theology (as he is a MA student in Christian apologetics), his discussions on atheism (and particularly below)  are not at the level I would expect of someone of his clear intelligence.

Immortal, Invisible: Do Christians believe something crazy?

On the Ontological Argument for the Existence of God

J.W Wartick has made some noise on his blog lately about atheists need for evidence (which is seemingly a precursor to charging them with Logical Positivism), and that atheists seem to deny there are any a priori proofs (he used the term “philosophical proofs“, in the comments section here).  Here we see an anylsis and indeed the problems with one a priori proof for the existence of a god or gods (sorry to Wartick if I’ve misrepresented his position).

Atheists in the Pride Parade: Some Thoughts on Churlishness and Integrity

There has obviously been a big push back from some of the religious organisations in and around New York due to the legalisation of gay marriage, here Great Christina, discusses religious believers and their thoughts on atheism.

What is that smell?

And here we see more response to the church’s response to the New York legislation, in a more virulent tone.

Ask Sam

In case anyone wanted to say, all atheists look to the “Gnu Atheists” or the  “Four Horsemen” as their sole role models for all things atheism, and accept their words uncritically, here we see some disagreements (you can see Coyne’s response to Harris’ response here). Coyne’s an interesting voice, and his book (Why Evolution is True) is well worth the read (whatever you religious views are). His site also contains much of the supposed evidence for evolution, that apparently doesn’t exist.

BioLogos argues that religious claims don’t require evidence

I think this blog shows why I try not to debate too much anymore, it is a lot of work, to rarely change a mind, still, I’m glad others aren’t as defeatist as me!

Belief and evolution

What is “belief” and how do we get around rhetorical tricks? It seems we may not be able, it seems more is more in this discussion.

“Believing” in evolution

As I don’t live in America I’m not sure if this pure coincidence or whether some issues is being discussed there, but here we have another piece on whether the word “belief” applies to evolution.

Free will, the brain, and the law

The free will/Determinism debate is always a good one, generally with theists landing in some form of a Cartesian dualist position (with Libertarian free will) and atheists, naturalists, materialists, skeptics etc landing somewhere in the Deterministic position (with Compatibalist free will). This debate I fear will continue until we start to understand the mind more and the causal effects of reality on it.

Book Review: “Eternal God: A Study of God Without Time” by Paul Helm

As if to completely contradict my point, J.W Wartick has this post, which I think this goes well with Coyne’s discussion on determinism (above).

What’s the harm?

What’s the harm in homeopathy, and general CAM treatments? Here we see some numbers.

Is it true? How do we know?

Seems to be, at its core, discussing Gould’s NOMA (Non Overlapping Magesteria).

Why are atheists so arrogant?

As far as soundbites go, I thought this one was worth a chuckle.

Evangelicals, evolution and atheism: the 2011 Pew Foundation survey

Some interesting data here, of course statistics always fall prey to the problem of “correlation versus causation” but regardless, some things to think about in regards to how the religious view atheists.

Is medical psychiatry a scam?

Interesting.

Communicating Perversion: The Role and Function of Pornography in Society

Also interesting if not directly related ot matters of theism/atheism (though often discussed by both).

Are the rights of women in Islam consistent with the Western idea of womens rights?

Dan Rodger’s a really smart former atheist (but we won’t hold that against him, heh), and I pretty much agree with much in this post.

She’s at it again!

I really like Eric MacDonald, I wish he’d put out a book already, but here we see him discuss Karen Armstrong, someone I have not read personally, but have certainly seen her books around.

Reference

Singer P., (1994). Re-thinking Life and Death . New York, New York. The Text Publishing Company. Pp- 94-5.

Categories: Articles
  1. July 3, 2011 at 11:46 am | #1

    Hello,

    I appreciate the links, however I am not a seminary student. I am an MA student in Christian Apologetics.

    The Ontological Argument I present is not the type to which you linked in the post countering a priori proofs for God (the Anselmian version). Rather, I’ve argued both a modal and transcendental version of the argument. But even the Anselmian version is successful through S5 modality.

    As far as the critique of my comments regarding atheism, with what do you take issue?

    Again, thanks for the links.

  2. July 3, 2011 at 4:44 pm | #2

    Hi,

    J.W:”I appreciate the links”

    Reply: No problems, I really enjoy your blog.

    J.W: “however I am not a seminary student. I am an MA student in Christian Apologetics.”

    Reply: Oops, sorry for the mix up, that sounds interesting, how are you finding it?

    J.W: “The Ontological Argument I present is not the type to which you linked in the post countering a priori proofs for God (the Anselmian version). Rather, I’ve argued both a modal and transcendental version of the argument. ”

    Reply: I didn’t post it to necessarily counter all a priori proofs (or yours in particular) but rather more to point to a little pet peeve I have with them (and you may be able to help me with this). They seem kind of relative to me, in the sense that, (and for our purposes i’ll put the onus on me as an atheist for a sec and talk about “the problem of evil” as an a priori proof for atheism) say Michael Martin puts forward a convincing argument for the problem of evil, is it true (assume the premises are prima facie valid, for our purposes)? As in objectively true? Perhaps, but it will only be true, until say, Alvin Plantinga critically analyzes it, then Martin re-adjusts the argument to suit Plantinga’s criticisms and so on and so forth. I guess my point, as beleagured as it is, it creates a situation where Martin is always right (or wrong) and Plantinga is always right (or wrong), depending on your prior assumptions (as in atheists will generally say Martin has succeeded and theists might generally say Plantinga’s criticisms have). I wonder, as someone who obviously knows about logic and such, how can I discover what is true, when a prior proofs are subject to such revision all the time?

    That was the point of that article, not so much a counter to you specifically (as I hadn’t even seen which a priori proof you do support), I hope I’ve made some kind of sense articulating my concern.

    J.W: “But even the Anselmian version is successful through S5 modality.”

    Reply: I have no idea what “S5 modality” is, I don’t suppose you have some literature I could read on that, or some books you could point me toward?

    J.W: “As far as the critique of my comments regarding atheism, with what do you take issue?”

    Reply: I guess the “issue” I had, if you could even call it that, was simply, (and I say this, not knowing your specifc beef with any specific atheists who’d used the arguments you mention in your posts) that I thought someone of your calibre could go after atheistic arguments at perhaps a higher level of thought (say Oppy’s, Neilsen’s, Martin’s, Mackie’s etc arguments) that might be a little more worth someone of your learnings time. In the sense that, the “unicorn” argument, and the “invisible” arguments, are, if they are being used as arguments by atheists (and again I don’t know the orgiinal situation), really lame, and would be criticized by many atheists (including and especially, myself). I can certainly understand that all atheistic arguments, no matter how stupid, deserve your attention, but as a viewer (and not necessarily as an atheist) of your blog, I would love to see you do something on atheism (as your critiques of open theism for example seem to me at least, quite insightful), that would allow you to flex your theological muscles (so to speak). I should’ve elaborated further in the post, my apologies.

    • July 5, 2011 at 2:00 am | #3

      Thanks for the response! Don’t worry about the mix-up. I absolutely love my studies. I hope to next get an M. Th and then a PhD.

      I can’t say I understand your point about a priori arguments. You wrote, ” say Michael Martin puts forward a convincing argument for the problem of evil, is it true (assume the premises are prima facie valid, for our purposes)? As in objectively true? Perhaps, but it will only be true, until say, Alvin Plantinga critically analyzes it, then Martin re-adjusts the argument to suit Plantinga’s criticisms and so on and so forth.”

      I can’t say I understand what you mean. His argument would be either true or false. Arguing about it wouldn’t change it’s truth value.

      S5 modality is a branch of modal logic. It’s major axiom is, basically, if something is possibly necessary (modally), then it is necessary. There is a bit of debate over whether or not S5 is a valid logical system, though most accept that it is. If you’d like a title to read I’d be happy to recommend one, I don’t run into many people who (like me) would find a logic textbook fun reading.

      I have taken some effort to address the more “popular level” atheism on my site. My interest is infinitely more towards the more analytic level (like those of Oppy, et al.). But I’ve found that very few people on either side of the debate tend to take the time to understand these arguments before addressing them, which sadly leads to people either ignoring posts I write on a “higher” philosophical level or making misleading comments. I think you have a valid point, however, and I shall endeavor to strive towards writing a few more scattered posts on the “higher” level. I enjoy that level more anyway!

      • July 5, 2011 at 7:18 am | #4

        J.W: “Thanks for the response! Don’t worry about the mix-up. I absolutely love my studies. I hope to next get an M. Th and then a PhD.”

        Reply: And thankyou for your response. Regarding the error in your schooling, it has since been corrected on the blog. I can see that you do love them, I study this stuff informally, but it is endlessly fascinating for sure. I have a previous university debt that i haven’t paid off at all, otherwise I’d consider doing something in the “field” (as this topic seems to cover everything: anthropology, philosophy, science, theology, psychology etc etc). Good luck to you and your studies!

        J.W: “I can’t say I understand your point about a priori arguments.”

        Reply: Yeah, I thought I hadn’t really articulated it well. As I haven’t had any fromal training in philosophy, logic, etc, I guess I haven’t been instructed on the value of syllogistic logic (after I wrote the post above, I had some chats with others and figured maybe my misunderstanding runs more toward syllogistic proofs in general, whether they be a posteriori or a priori). I certainly accept the value of argument, and I know that the arguments do convince some, but how often do you think they convince people at my, yours and above’s level? Seldomly it seems.

        J.W: “His argument would be either true or false. Arguing about it wouldn’t change it’s truth value.”

        Reply: And it’s that point that I wonder about, how do I discover the truth of syllogistic argument, (.i.e. Plantinga’s “Modal Ontological Argument”, Craig’s “Kalam Cosmological Argument”, Martin’s “Atheistic Teleological Argument” etc) when it seems that only Christians except the Christian arguments, and atheists except the atheistic arguments? Plantinga, Craig, Neilsen, Martin etc constantly review, critique and update their arguments, to the criticisms of the other side, which seems to make them relatavistically true, in the sense that if say Martin’s argument was true, wouldn’t it not need revision, and if he does need to revise, does that make it true after he’s revised it? Or only true until the next revision comes along (same for any theistic argument that goes throught the same rigamorole). The arguments then (successful or not) generally only seem to convince the side that already accepts the arguers presuppositions (if at all, as there are apologists I know who don’t accept the ontological argument, yet you do, someone must be wrong?), in the sense that, most atheists would say all theistic syllogistic arguments have been refuted, christians would say the same of the atheistic… Who’s right? It seems to depend on what you’ve already accepted or believe, hence make them relatavistic.

        Does that make sense at all? Or am I still talking gibberish?

        J.W: “I have taken some effort to address the more “popular level” atheism on my site. My interest is infinitely more towards the more analytic level (like those of Oppy, et al.). But I’ve found that very few people on either side of the debate tend to take the time to understand these arguments before addressing them, which sadly leads to people either ignoring posts I write on a “higher” philosophical level or making misleading comments. I think you have a valid point, however, and I shall endeavor to strive towards writing a few more scattered posts on the “higher” level. I enjoy that level more anyway!”

        Reply: Fair enough, I can understand that. Even at my level, I enjoy the more sophisticated stuff, even if I can’t articulate it as well, it seems more satisfying, so I can understand you must enjoy it too. I certainly don’t want to tell you how to write on your blog, you’ve gotta go where you feel you need to obviously, but yeah, some discussion on atheistic argument worth your time would be more interesting to me, at least, if no-one else :)

  1. July 5, 2011 at 7:52 am | #1

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